Story from Larry Hackman (66):
Snake Pit Bowling

The Snake Pit Bar and Bowling Alley, located near the South end of main street across the street from Joe’s Grocery, and between Kofoid’s Garage and the [5-10 Red and White Store 5-10] operated by K. C. Sine and his wife also contained a four lane bowling alley and a lunch counter. The Snake Pit was owned and operated by Harold Woodford and Oscar Stadium. It was a rough place as the nickname indicates. Actually, I don’t remember any other name for the place. I observed many a fight that had started in the bar and then would spill out on Main Street. I observed the part that was on the street. I learned from observing a lot of these fights, to never fall to the ground. The people that would get knocked down usually got kicked in the head. It made a horrible sound, something like a clunk. The sound of a ax splitting a block of wood. I can still hear it today. Remember all the kids that grew up sitting in the vehicles on main, waiting for their folks to come out of the bars? In the evening there always seemed to be vehicles parked in front bars with kids hanging out the windows and some running up and down the street, some in their diapers, some without, some in need of a diaper change. Thank heaven you don’t see much of that any more. We seem to be advancing as a civilization.
The Bowling Alley was attached to the West end of the Snake Pit. There were two entrances to the bowling alley, one through the Snake Pit, another through the lunch counter, just north of the Snake Pit entrance. Mrs. Earl Myer (Bertha)a very nice lady, ran the lunch counter. She made the best hamburgers in the world using Snow White Bakery buns. Just 25 cents each. They were delicious. I don’t know what she did, that was any different then anybody else that makes up a good hamburger,
but as I said, they were delicious. Maybe it was the way she toasted her buns?
My brothers Tony (class of 64) and Henry (class of 65)worked in the bowling area of the building as pin setters. They got paid 10 cents a game and each took care of two lanes. I think they inherited this job from the Johnson Boys, Auggie and ? Tony and Henry’s job was to pick up the knocked down pins and place them in the setter and put the ball on the return, then jump into the next alley pit and do the same thing. When the bowler completed their frame you would pull the setter down replacing the ten pins on the alley and return their ball. Never return the ball before picking up the pins as you might end up eating it, if you have a bowler in a hurry or not paying attention to the pin setter. I was a tag-along or a wanna-be at that time. It was a very dangerous place to work and the people that ran the place would chase me out from behind the pin pits.. You never knew where a pin was going to fly. To get hit in the head or some other part of your body was not uncommon. In the head, hurt like hell. However, since my brothers worked there, I usually hung around there too. When one would decide to take a break, then they would let me take over until they came back. They liked to set pins for the league bowlers as they would get into a rhythm, it was safer, and everything including the time would pass fast. It was usually on Friday and Saturday nights, (open bowling) is when it got really dangerous. Some of the young fellows would get a few drinks in them and they would try to throw the ball down the alley so hard that it never touched the lane floor. They were either trying to kill the pin setter or the pins.
In the next lane you might have someone like Charlie Anderson who was a finesse bowler. He would bowl from the left side of the approach. The ball rolled and rolled curving way to the right side of the alley, kissing the edge of the right gutter and then start curving back to the left right into the pocket. Usually he got a strike. His ball came down the alley so slow you wanted to jump out from behind the pin setter and help it. Back to the rhythm thing, if you have balls coming down both alleys at the same time, The pin boy really did not have any place to go. There was this big beam that held up these huge pads behind the pin pits that stopped the balls from going through the wall. The pin setter would have to jump up onto this beam to escape getting killed. You did not want to miss getting up there. This is about time in my life that I missed a growth spurt and everybody else got one, and I got stuck with the nick name, Half Pint. Its probably a good thing they built and opened the Garden Lanes before I became big enough to become a pin setter. I think Tony Samsky was the first manager of the new Bowling Alley? The new bowling alley made pin setting boys obsolete as they closed down the bowling alley at the Snake Pit and the new bowling alley had mechanical pin setting.
Bobbie Slyter’s (70) Reply to LeaRae Parrill Espe (67):
Regarding LeaRea’s message I did not know that Leroy Birkland had moved back to Bottineau he was married to my aunt Delores Hiatt (Freddie Hiatt’s sister) when they lived in Washington state before she passed away, sure is a small world, maybe she can answer a question for me how is Leroy related to Jim Birkland, saw Jim and his wife at the family reunion this past July up at Richard’s place
I too have tried the jukebox music. Its fantastic. I have it on when I am working in the office. Brings back a lot of memories of the high school days.
Trish Larson’s (73) Reply to Gary Stokes’ (65) Question: Trish, This being part of a conversation we had back and forth, I hope you don’t mind me sharing this with the rest. Folks, Trish sent me some beautiful pictures to forward onto another Alumni member. That’s how I was able to see the pictures that I make reference to. Trish, we’d love to see the photo too. Gary
Thanks for the compliment. I won Ms. Congeniality that year, which I thought was the best prize of all. The winner of the pageant won everything else – talent, swimsuit, and the title. We all hated her (lol). I entered the pageant for the $50.00 and enjoyed performing with the mix of gals from Dunseith and Bottineau. It was a good experience. Somewhere I still have a photo…
I believe Cheri Metcalfe was another participant….
Gary’s Question to Trish:
How did you do in the 1974 Bottineau Pageant? Seeing that picture of you on the horse and those other pictures recently, I’m assuming that you probably did quite well.
Message from Gary Stokes:
Folks, PLease forward these messages on to Dunseith Alumni folks that you think may not be on this distribution and encourage them to get in touch with me so I can get them into the system. I get folks into the system with the contacts that I make putting class lists together and with referrals from you guys. I will be sending the class list our for the class of 70 shortly. I’m nearly finished with the class of 71 and I’m working with the class of 58. Next I’ll be working on the classes of 57 & 72. I’ve completed class lists for the classes of 59 thru 70. This has proven to be a really fun hobby. Gary