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Michael Rustad's Memories

St. Vincent Sports

In the summer of 1999, my daughter Erica and I visitedthe town of St. Vincent. There is no longer a bridge connecting the centralbusiness districts of Pembina, North Dakota and St. Vincent. The old bridgeconnecting the towns that I remember as a child has long been dismantled. The places that I remember in St. Vincent have long since closed. Short'sCafe, Sylvester's Store, the Curling Rink, St. Ann's Catholic Church, andthe St. Vincent Fairgrounds. The curling rink is now neglected and in stateof decay. The Church is a private residence. The St. Vincent School, too,is in a state of benign neglect.

It was difficult for me to explain to my daughter thatSt. Vincent was once a bustling community. We attended catechism each summerin the basement of St. Ann's. We had a large number of ball games in theyard outside the Church which is now overgrown and marred by abandoned cars. When my sister and I visited the Kittson County Museum in Lake Bronson,I was amazed to find some high school yearbooks from St. Vincent High School. St. Vincent High School closed in the late 1930s and never reopened. Instead,it consolidated its school district with Humboldt from 1957 to 1991. Itwas an unexpected joy to find yearbooks from the St. Vincent High Schoolfrom the 1920s. This was a yearbook from a small town in N.W. Minnesotaprior to the Depression. High school life in St. Vincent was marked bylots of school spirit judging from the many activities. St. Vincent fieldeda football team, basketball team, hockey team, track team and baseball teamin 1927. If you could walk or run, you were a starter The school hada girl's basketball team as well.

A yearbook from 1927 reveals that St. Vincent fielded acompetitive football team. The players pictured included: Jimmy Bernath,Billy MacKay, Allen Smith, John Fitzpatrick, Harris Easter, Merlin Twamley,Donald Hutchins, Johnny Smith, Ralph Cameron, George Sylvester, Jim Gooselaw,Fred Stranger, and G.H. Good (Professor and Coach)

The first game of the 1927 season pitted Stephen againstSt. Vincent in a home game. John Fitzpatrick and Merlin Twamley, the tackleson the St. Vincent team, were described as husky and good tacklers. GeorgeSylvester, later to become proprietor of Sylvester's General Store madewhat was described as "sensational run of 60 yards to score a touchdown. Jim Gooselaw scored another touchdown on a 70 yard punt return.Stephenwon the game 26 to 12. This game was held as one of the attractions ofthe St. Vincent Fair. The reporter for the game wrote: "The gamewas played on a warm afternoon with very little wind to inter'ere. Thegame was played in connection with the Kittson County Fair. It was addedas a special feature."

St. Vincent next traveled to Neche and played a game inmiserable conditions of rain and mud. Both teams were backed in the shadowof the goal posts. Neche scored seconds before the end of the game to beatSt. Vincent 6-0. St. Vincent moved the ball better than Neche and had twiceas many first downs (8 versus 4).

The third game of the season was played in Stephen. Stephenwon 47-0 despite Jim Gooselaw's heroics. Gooselaw carried the ball for256 yards and George Sylvester carried the ball for another 56 yards.

The fourth game of that fall was played on October 19 atSt. Vincent against Neche. This game was described as a punter's dual betweenLee of Neche and Gooselaw from St. Vincent. Gooselaw, however, ran 60 yardsfor a score followed by another long gain by Stranger. St. Vincent's quarterbackscored and the game ended 12-0.

St. Vincent was beaten decisively by Cavalier. Cavalier'steam in 1937 consistent of all seniors. The reporter described Cavalieras the strongest team in the state. Cavalier beat Devils Lake, Valley Cityand Grafton, so that a defeat of 67-0 "at the hands of Cavalier wasno disgrace."

Post Script:

Jim Bernath, a star player on the team became a leadingcitizen and one of our neighbors. Jim and Dora Bernath had two children,Mary Ann and Jerry, who were classmates. Merlin Twamley, one of the leadingtacklers, had a large family with a child in nearly every grade of the Humboldt-St.Vincent School. Billy MacKay ran the Customs House at Noyes. Fred Strangerbecome the proprietor of a popular cafe in St. Vincent. The Easters werelong associated with the St. Vincent Elevator.



St. Vincent's varsity team was coached by G.H. Good. Theplayers included John Fitzpatrick, Harris Easter, Ralph Cameron James Gooselaw,James Bernath James Burns, Donald Hutchins, James Beilemeyer, George Sylvester,Fred Stranger, and Allen Smith. The team had a large Newfoundland dog named"Pal" as its team mascot.

The starting lineup for the 1927 St. Vincent BorderlineTeam was Center: James Bernath: Forward: Ralph Cameron; Forward: JamesGooselaw; Guard: Harris Easater; Guard: Fred Stranger. George Sylvester,Donald Hutchins and John Fitzpatrick were the reserves.

St. Vincent called their team the Borderlines. The team'sfirst game was against the Argyle Eagles on November 23, 1927. Argyle ledat the half 11 to 4. The reporter thought that it was a rather high-scoringgame judging from his observation: "Argyle held our boys to two fieldgoals the first half while they piled up 11 points. A walk-away seemedinevitable at this point in the game." St. Vincent tried a new defenseagainst Argyle in the second half. "The opponent's guards found itimpossible to check our dribbling James "Ace" Gooselaw, for hetook the ball on short dribbles for three field baskets." Argyle tripleteamed Gooselaw and "thus failed to score more than 3 points in thesecond half. "The Bordeline boys started their aggression too late,for the game ended with a score of 18 to 15 in favor of Argyle."

St. Vincent lost to Stephen in the second game of the season. "The St. Vincent boys in their opening attack demonstrated their abilityto pass through the Stephen team for short shots at the basket. Their trouble,however, was that the shots were at the basket and not in the basket. Thefinal score was 27 to 14. "Stephen rarely missed whenever an opportunitypresented itself for a shot. That was the beauty of having a gymnasiumin the school. The center of the floor seemed to be a more favorable spotto shoot from, than any othe place in the gymnasium.

St. Vincent next played at Karlstad. The reporter describesthe Karlstad gym as "a very narrow hall with a low ceiling, was usedas a basketball court. It is general practice and regulation to have thebasketball goals located in the center of either end of the hall, but notso at Karlstad. The goal was at one end of the hall and was placed in amost remote corner. Karlstad had no trouble finding the ball for they hadlearned its location. On the contrary, St. Vincent, rarely found it beforethe Karlstad guards covered them.

Prior to the Karlstad game, the Karlstad team challengedJim Gooselaw's age. They maintained that Gooselaw was inelgible due tohis advanced age. Jim "Ace" Gooselaw was no older than the otherplayers but had no proof of age and was disqualified. Two of the otherstar players fouled out and St. Vincent lost the game.

St. Vincent sought revenge against Karlstad when the Rabbitsvisited St. Vincent's gym. St. Vincent did not have its own gymnasium andplayed its games at the Pembina High School gym. Ralph Cameron played agreat game and scored several baskets in the first half. Karlstad failedto score a point during the entire first half. The score at the half was8 to 0.

The Reporter surmised that Karlstad's team was sufferingfrom the ill-effects from late night activities the night before. He wrote: "A few cigarettes, a good fill on chocolate bars and ice cream ortwo, a couple of cups of coffee at midnight the night before, were not consistentwith a full quarter game of basketball. What happened in the Karlstad boys'dressing room we do not know, we have every boy in good training duringthe happy vacation period. Karlstad came back in the third quarter to tiethe game. He added:: "A few minutes of fast playing and another flipfrom the free goal line. Karlstad dropped another! Karlstad's aggressionand endurance was beginning to tell on St. Vincent. "Chocolate bars,ice cream and coffee were now getting in their work! The score ended 21to 8 in favor of Karlstad

St. Vincent traveled to Neche, North Dakota. Neche'sgymnasium had a "high celing, and deep square floor, seemed smallerin the eyes of our boys than it really was." Neche played a physicalgame and won 15 to 8. Neche's slogan was: "Get the ball, if you can,if you can't get the man!"

Neche beat St. Vincent 22 to 19 in the return match inFebruary.

St. Vincent high school players were expected to play multiplesports.

The 1927 tennis team featured Ralph Cameron, James Bernath,James Gooselaw, Donald Hutchins, Brooks Perry and William MacKay. St. Vincent'sTrack Team was the best in the area. Jim "Ace" Gooselaw was oneof the top track stars in the area and won numerous first place ribbonsand trophies. St. Vincent had a first rate track team with James Gooselaw,Fred Stranger, James Bernath, George Sylvester, Ralph Cameron and BrooksPerry. James Bernath is pictured as a lanky young man with glasses holdinga shotput.

St. Vincent won the county track meet held at Hallock bya score of 86 1/2 to 39 1/2. James Gooselaw scored 33 1/2 points almostequally the second place team. Gooselaw won seven firsts and tied for athird. Gooselaw won every event: all dashes and weight events. Carlsonfrom Hallock won the high jump at 5 ft. 1 inch. Anderson of Hallock wonthe baseball throw. Gooselaw faced little competition in any event. Andersonwas described as the "sensational Hallock speed marvel." St.Vincent High School won "the beautiful loving cup." The reporterfor the meet noted that: "the boys say they are going to keep it."

Another meet was held in May 11 with four contesting teams. The high school boys won the trophy for top track team for three successiveteams. "The Upper Grade Boy returned with the pennant, alloted theirgroup, with a large margin. The Trophy Offered the highest "schooltally" is now in the hands of the St. Vincent School.

In another track meet St. Vincent won first place in thefirst five events, second place in the following three events and fourthplace in the ninth event. Jim Gooselaw was the crown jewel of the St. Vincenttrack team winning more "first place ratings than any contesting team." The reporter also mentioned the contributions of Roy Clow, George Sylvester,Ralph Cameron, Harris Easter, Fred Stranger, Jim Bernath, Brooks Perry andDonald Hutchins. The events mentioned in the track stories were: 1) 75Yard Dash; 2) 8 pound shot put; 3) running high jump; 4) running borad jumpand 5) relay races.

The yearbook also mentioned some of the track teams ofthe lower grades. Winton Cameron and Nazareth Gooselaw were stars on theUpper Grade Track Team. Louis and Manual Gooselaw won 1st and 2d placein every event. The reporter hopes that Manual will join the High SchoolTeam the next year. He also has high hopes for Louis, his younger brother. St. Vincent's athletic success could be summarized with one word: theGooselaw family! The Gooselaw girls were also strong athletes. Rose andViolet were excellent players for the upper grade girls. Rose Gooselaw,Violet Cleem, Mary Stranger and Mary Easter were upper grade girls who excelledin sports. The girl's high school track team featured Mamie Cleem, IsabelFitzpatrick, Lelia Davis, Fidessa Wilkie and Alberta Fitzptrick.

The year book also mentioned that the girls competed ina singing contest, winning second place. St. Vincent had outstanding communitysupport for its teams. St. Vincent, which is 22 miles from Hallock, had100 students and supporters at the County Track Meet.

The St. Vincent baseball team played Lancaster in theirfirst game that year losing 7 to 6. The yearbook reported upcoming gameswith Hallock and Pembina.

The St. Vincent lineup had R. Cameron as Pitcher; J. Gooselawat Catcher, Jim Bernath at First Base; Herb Easter at Second Base; ManualGooselaw at Third Base, B. MacKay at Short Stop; Fred Stranger in CenterField, B. Perry in Left Field, J. Bielemayer on Right Field. Arnold Reese,C. Smith and Don Hutchins were reserves.

I would be remiss in mentioning the girls' basketball teamfrom 1927. The starting lineup had Mamie Cleem at Center. Ferne Fitzpatrickwas the right forward. Lelia Davis was at the left forward. The guardswere Isabelle Fitzpatrick and Fidessa Wilkie. Verlie Cameron was the firstreserve to come in. Violet Cleem and Mae Gamble were reserves. The firstgame was the high school team versus the women from the town of St. Vincent.

Members of the town team: Eva Parenteau, Dorothy Bernath,Edith Clow, Ruth Davis, Flora Perry, and Cecilia Bielemeyer. The girlshad colorful nicknames. Mamie Cleem was known as Slivers. Ferne Fitzpatrickwas nicknamed Coon. Fidessa Wilkie was "Fido" and Verlie Cameronwas the "Plug." Violet Cleem's nickname was "Cutie." The game on December 9, 1927 ended with a tie.

St. Vincent's team played their second game with Stephen. The boy's coach, Good, acted as referee. The game was rough. IsabelleFitzpatrick (Issy) cracked two fingers. Ferne "Coon" Fitzpatricktwisted a knee was substituted for by Cutie Cleem. Mamie Cleem led allscores with 12 points followed by Cutie with 6 and Lelia "Lee"Davis with 3. It must have been a tough match. Even the referree got knockedagainst the wall and lost his whistle. The final score was 21 to 16 infavor of St. Vincent.

St. Vincent lost the return match with Stephen on January20, 1928. The reporter noted: "Cutie played in Coon's place on accountof the latter's sore leg." Again, the game was physical: "Issyreceived a large lump on her arm from her small Swede forward." Pembinaplayed the St. Vincent woman's team on February 8, 1928. The game endedin a 10 to 10 tie!

I found the St. Vincent yearbook to be an interesting recordof what was obviously a very spirited high school. As I drove past theforlorn building in August of 1999 with my daughter, I tried to take mymind's eye back to the school's heyday in the 1920s. I am hoping thatMary or Beth Boatz will send this account to Jim Bernath. Jim or any otherSt. Vincent High School Borderline Player: We would entertain any correctionsof the record or other stories to learn more about the golden years of theBorderlines.

l send this account to Jim Bernath. Jim or any otherSt. Vincent High School Borderline Player: We would entertain any correctionsof the record or other stories to learn more about the golden years of theBorderlines.