Play Ball! (or Not)

Week 41: #52 Ancestors – Sports

By Eilene Lyon

South Dakota

Winter entertainment in 1930s South Dakota was somewhat limited. There were movies and dances. And basketball. My grandparents, Reatha Gusso (15) and Everett Halse (30), were dating in January and February 1932 and watching basketball games was one of the acceptable activities.

Reatha and Everett in 1934

Reatha mentions the games in her diary for the year:

January 15 (Friday)

Went to basketball game tonite. South Shore won. Score 25 to 24. After game went with Everett to program at Bert Drake School. Program was over when we got there but we kids stayed and played games . . . Had lots of fun. Got a date for Wednesday. I wonder where I’ll go. Bed 2:15.

January 23 (Saturday)

Everett and I went to the basketball game at Bradley tonite. Bradley won 22 to 12. Went up town to look for Al. He said he was going to stay in town. So Everett and I came here. We came in the house & listened to the radio. Dad played some on the violin and I showed Everett some pictures we had here. He left here about one. Had a good time and am glad he came down . . . Bed 1:00.

February 1 (Monday)

Today hasn’t been so bad . . . Soph. class got one scolding today. What a wonder. Went to the basketball game between Florence and Lily. The same old story. Lily won score 22 to 23. Gee I was mad. I seen Everett in the bargain so that wasn’t so bad . . . Bed 10:00

Florence was Reatha’s high school, which she attended with Everett’s younger brother, Alvin Halse. Al played on the Florence team, along with one of Reatha’s Bodtker cousins. Though Florence’s record was generally dismal, in February the team managed to win the Little Eight tournament. Reatha never mentioned the good news.

Florence standings

Florence near the bottom of the rankings. (“Loss is Costly to Garden City” Evening Huronite, February 19, 1932, p. 7 from

Screenshot_2018-10-12 Sports-Feb-09-1932-865173 NewspaperArchive®

(Evening Huronite, February 9, 1932, p. 7 from


Al Halse in December 1931, a couple months before the Little Eight Tournament.


By 1945, Reatha and Everett were the parents of four boys, and sports became a family interest. Nathan, the youngest, was particularly athletic. He played football, tennis, and wrestled. From the football team roster, I learned that in his junior year (1961) he was 5’ 9” and 155 pounds. I think that must have included gear, because he wrestled in the 141-pound class.

Halse1963 001

Nathan Halse in high school, 1963

In the summer, Nathan apparently participated in some type of boat races on the Willamette River. I think these were speed boats; I recall watching such races in the late 1960s when we lived in Corvallis.

Boating results

(Corvallis Gazette-Times, June 13, 1960, p. 8. From

Nathan managed to get a fair amount of press coverage on the sports pages. It wasn’t always good news.

Sprained ankle

knee injury.png

tires slashed

(Citations at end of post)

My Family

I never participated in high school sports, unless you count marching band (we actually lettered for that). As an adult, I played recreational softball for a number of years. My dad also played rec league softball. Mom never took any interest in sports that I recall, though she and Dad did play golf and tennis.

My older brother did not play sports in school, but loved watching Nascar and playing golf. My younger brother was on the high school golf team. Golf’s a sport, right? Well, let’s just say it is. So, this particular Halse clan isn’t exactly a knockout in the sports arena.

My beautiful picture

Feature image: My dad (marked with a red X) with his youth baseball team. The W stands for Washington Elementary School. Corvallis, Oregon about 1944. I remember playing recess games in that building in the background 25 years later.

Nathan clipping sources:

“Hospital Names Emergency Cases” Corvallis Gazette-Times, October 17, 1960, p. 10. From

“Corvallis Wrestlers Get Close Win Over Dallas” Corvallis Gazette-Times, December 18, 1962, p. 8. From

“Tires Said Slashed” Corvallis Gazette-Times, October 6, 1962, p. 1. From


35 thoughts on “Play Ball! (or Not)

Add yours

  1. I love the little newspaper snippets and diary entries. It seems sports was the main source of entertainment. I come from a big golfing family, however I’ve never really latched onto it. The only sport I ever really liked was badminton, oh, and mini-golf, but I’m not sure that counts, in fact I’m pretty certain some family members would say it doesn’t!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. LOL. I get you. I never was even very interested in watching sports, though my dad and brothers did. I was going to throw in my equestrian events, but decided to stick with school sports. Certainly I ski and used to play racquetball, stuff like that. I’ll watch the Olympics for a bit. I enjoy individual sport more than teams.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow, you have your grandmother’s diary, that is amazing! Maybe not into sports, but several of your ancestors liked to document events and their history, a fine trait that you’ve sure inherited!

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I have some, mostly from my mom; one of my projects is to write her bio. She has told me that it would be relatively easy to trace our family history because our relatives in Mexico are just my mom’s immediate family and descendants (my dad went to Mexico by himself), and in Japan there used to be detailed records by “House of” at least until WWII. Perhaps one day …


      2. I did miss the recipe. My poor little poblanos, which I must harvest today, are barely larger than a big jalapeno. So, no stuffing them! But I can get larger ones from the farm stand and use these for my poblano sauce. We have a new Mexican restaurant here that makes many of these dishes you write about, including something like this. The food and margaritas are super yummy and the service and decor are excellent. Unfortunately, they may have priced themselves out of the market here. Very expensive!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Really enjoyed reading this. My mom used to be a teacher and girls’ basketball coach in a two-room schoolhouse in the 1930s. It’s how she met my dad. He was a teacher at another (smaller!) school in the same district.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, it is the sports that is played the most by girls in winter. Also the a Commonwealth countries have international team and play against each other. Especially New Zealand,Britain, Jamaica and Australia. I think it is also played in the Commonwealth games

        Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s so great to have all these details from the diary and the clippings. I was in the marching band in high school and lettered for it too. I didn’t really do sports until college.

    Liked by 1 person

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