March Madness, circa 1915

As almost everyone knows by turning on the TV, college basketball is currently in full swing. So how old is this game? According to the Internet, it was invented in 1891 in Springfield Massachusetts. Twenty-four years later, the game had taken the country by storm. In this photo, taken 99 years ago, my grandfather, Lawrence Triesch (bottom row, 2nd from left) posed with his high school team in Uniontown Washington. Uniontown is located in far southeastern Washington State and the population at the time this picture was taken was made up entirely of German immigrants.

1915 Uniontown Boys Basketball Team

In 1915 WWI was underway and Germans were the enemy (aren’t they always?). Consequently, German immigrants did everything they could to assimilate into the American mainstream. This included dropping the German language and playing the new American sport, basketball.

Today Uniontown is a quiet town of just 100 people. Most of the early population moved away to nearby Spokane in the 1920’s and 30’s in search of business opportunities and a richer life. Some things remain the same however. The saloon built by my  great-grandfather, Joseph Portz in 1890 is still in operation. And the Catholic Church, where my basketball-playing grandfather was baptized and later married, looms over this tiny, rolling prairie town as it has since 1888.

Portz Place

Joe Portz Saloon – Uniontown

 

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St Boniface Church – Uniontown