Remembering Hettinger baseball and the historic Lake View Cafe

During the 1930s through the 1940s, almost every township and rural post office in the area had independent baseball teams and sometimes football teams.

Pictured are the members of the 1949 Hettinger baseball team that brought home the state championship. The team traveled to Watertown, S.D. for the Western Division Amateur Tournament. (Photo Courtesy of Loren Luckow)
Pictured are the members of the 1949 Hettinger baseball team that brought home the state championship. The team traveled to Watertown, S.D. for the Western Division Amateur Tournament. (Photo Courtesy of Loren Luckow)

By SHELDON CHRISTENSON
For The Record

During the 1930s through the 1940s, almost every township and rural post office in the area had independent baseball teams and sometimes football teams. Rivalries were strong and the games were sometimes tough and bloody. People flooded to the games and cheered loudly for their favorite teams and for the most popular players. The 1936 independent Hettinger baseball team played every possible team in the area from Belle Fourche to Mandan, beating them all.

The Hettinger independent baseball team also brought home the 1949 State Championship that took place in Jamestown, ND, starting on Aug. 30. They defeated Denhoff 7-1, Edgeley 4-3, Mayville 3-2 and Bowman 6-4 that put them in the championship game against Ellendale. It was reported that this game attracted the largest crowd ever to assemble in the Jamestown Park. Hettinger won 10-2. Hettinger pitcher Joe Stelmack was voted the outstanding player of the tournament. He later signed with the Pittsburgh baseball organization. With the victory, the team earned a trip to the Western Division Amateur Tournament at Watertown, S.D., Sept. 17-21. They lost to the Aberdeen Preds 4-2 in their first game, defeated Kalispell, Mont. 23-3 in the second game and then were eliminated by Willamette, Ore., 7-5. Playing for Hettinger were Lester and Allen Durick, Joe and Tommy Clement, Harry and Julius Goplin, Jerome Sqanson, Stelmack, Fred Wolfe, Bud Severson, Leo Grunstead, Marvin Muggerud, Harvey McMullen, Don Berg, Billy Graves, Charles Stock and manager Larry Martin.

An ad that ran in the Aug. 18 Adams Co. Record read: “COME TO HETTINGER, PEOPLE” “We’re proud of our baseball park. It is the best park of any city of comparable size in this area. Our night games draw huge crowds. There is plenty of seating space. Come to Hettinger, baseball fans, for good games and good times.”

In these early years high school basketball teams from Haynes, Hettinger, Bucyrus and Reeder often traveled by train to and from area games.

A few other events during this time: In 1930 Hettinger was the fastest growing city over 1,000 in the state, population fell rapidly after that. Twenty-five cent roller skating was popular in 1932 at the Hettinger Auditorium (the Sheep Shed). Wheat sold for 25 cents per bushel in 1936. The dedication of the new Hettinger Post Office occurred in 1938. In 1948 Hettinger was second in the state in per capita sales tax. The armory was in completed in 1949.

How many of you remember the Lake View Café located on east side of Main Street on the south end? Lawrence “Deacon” Bracewell purchased the café in 1923 and operated it until 1967. During that time, he actually sold the café once, but missed it so much he decided to buy it back.

Competing with six other restaurants at that time was not difficult for Deac, a nickname that he was known by. He had his café open all the time. His ad for the café noted; “The key to this place was thrown away when it was first opened, and the door has never been locked since.”

Some of the people who worked at the café included his wife Dava (Shelkey), their daughter Shirley, Goldie Muggerud, Wanda Stang, Mrs. Gertie Muck and her sister Mrs. Lewis Score and Frank Ellis.

During his time with the café the term , “Meet me at Deac’s” became common. Deac sold the café to Deborah and Ole P. Olson in 1967. A year later the café and hotel burned down.

(Source is from the Hettinger, ND Centennial book “100 Years of Change and Challenge” and the 1949 Adams County Record)