History of Rolle Bolle in Iowa – Archives

Playing a friendly game of Rolle Bolle during the fall of 1943.

Gene VANGAMPLEARE, and Delbert VANGAMPLEARE are getting geared up
to play a friendly game of Rolle Bolle during the fall of 1943.

History of Rolle Bolle in Iowa - Archives 1

Every Sunday and on holidays, the VANGAMPLEARES would have a party at someone’s farmhouse. And the men would undoubtedly play Rolle Bolle.

The game of Rolle Bolle is played on a dirt court. The bolle is made of hard wood or hard molded rubber or similar material, formed into a disc 6 to 8 inches in diameter and about 4 inches thick. It is slightly beveled to one side so that the bolle will turn towards the stake when rolled.

The game can be played with 2 to 6 players on the team, with each player having one bolle. Teams usually consist of 3 players. The object of the game is to roll your bolle as close to the stake as possible. After everyone from each team has bolled, the end is complete, so the winning team starts again by bolling to the opposite end in the same manner as before. The team scoring 8 points total wins the game.

History of Rolle Bolle in Iowa - Archives 1

Who's the winner?

Just Who Is The Winner?
Marcel HUYVAERT, Albert VANGAMPLEARE, Emiel BLOMME, Delbert VANGAMPLEARE, John VANGAMPLEARE, and Gene VANGAMPLEARE at a 1942 Rolle Bolle Game.

Rolle Bolle Champion

Bill DEBROWER (son of Arthur and Evelena DEBROWER) has been a Rolle Bolle player since he was a very young boy. He and his partners – Josh VAN THOURNOUT and LeRoy SUHR – finished second out of 35 teams in the World Rolle Bolle Tournament held July 16, 2000, at Annawan, IL. They also won the International Rolle Bolle tournament held August 13, 2000, at Marshall, MN, where 39 men’s teams competed with players from Canada, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, and Belgium.

History of Rolle Bolle in Iowa - Archives 1

1960 - Rolle Bolle tournament in Brooklyn, Iowa.

1960 — Young Jon WAGNER, flanked by his partners, Gene VANGAMPLEARE (left) and Albert VANGAMPLEARE, had a hand in rolling his team to first place money in the Rolle Bolle tournament held in Brooklyn, Iowa. More than 90 players participated.

Friends Circle a retreat for members | Archives

Curt Chapman rolls a rolle bolle Curt Chapman, left, rolls a rolle bolle toward the stake in the basement of the Friends' Circle Club in Moline.a friendly game in Moline, Iowa
Dispatch/Argus Photo By Chuck Thomas

MOLINE — The men were drinking beer at the horseshoe-shaped bar while the women played cards in the adjoining banquet hall.

Friends Circle long has been a popular weekday retreat for the local retirement set. The Belgian social club, a staple on Moline’s 7th Street, is one of the few places in town that still stocks Hamm’s beer and serves Pabst Blue Ribbon on tap.

It is perhaps one of the few social clubs where you can play rolle bolle in the basement or try archery upstairs. While the estimated 800 members of Friends Circle now include both women and non-Belgians, the club’s roots still are planted in the cultures of Belgium and Holland.

Established in the early 1900s — no one’s sure exactly what year — the Friends Circle originally was located above Model Printers on Moline’s River Drive. The membership moved its club uptown, to the basement of the Sunnyville Building on 9th Street, several years later.

Finally, Friends Circle moved to quarters upstairs at its current location at 701 18th Ave. By 1976 the club occuppied all three floors of the large, corner-lot building.

The beer, brats and rolle-bolle reputation of Moline’s 7th Street largely was earned by the members of Friends Circle.

“At one time, the club was strictly for those of Belgian or (Dutch) descent,” Friends Circle president Bill Fisher said. “As many of the older Belgians died, the rolle-bollers had to start taking women and non-Belgians.”

While rolle bolle remains a Friends Circle trademark, other signs of Belgian culture have faded over the years.

“The place was established as an Americanization opportunity for immigrants from Belgium and Holland,” Mr. Fisher said. “Obviously, immigration patterns have changed.”

While Moline once was recognized as the U.S. city with the second-highest Belgian population — Detroit is first — Mr. Fisher said he would guess the population now is spread throughout the Quad-Cities.

“Unfortunately, we’ve gotten away somewhat from the Belgian culture,” he said. “Though we do maintain the rolle bolle and archery, I’d like to see the place get back to a Belgian social club.”

Though slipping somewhat from its early ethnic ties, the Friends Circle continues to inspire a social-club camaraderie. Whether playing rolle bolle or euchre or drinking a Hamm’s at the horseshoe-shaped bar, members of Friends Circle have a place to belong.

The club’s modest membership fees are $10 a year for men and $5 a year for the women to belong to the auxiliary, and they buy some of the lowest-priced drinks in town, a seat at club parties and dinners, and reduced rates on hall rentals.

In addition to lower-level rolle bolle, a main-floor bar, kitchen and banquet hall, the third floor of Friends Circle also contains a bar, kitchen, banquet hall and stage. The halls are available to the public for rental.

— By Barb Ickes (January 26, 1998)

This article was retrieved from the Internet Archive at 13:58:00 on August 1, 2019 and originally published by Moline Dispatch.

2018 Iowa Summer Rolle Bolle Schedule

May 5: Marengo…Draw @ 1PM
May 6: Stephens Park…Team @ 1PM…Kickoff
May 12: Victor…Draw @ 1PM
May 19: Marengo…Draw @ 1PM
May 20: East End…Mixed Draw @ 1PM…4 games for points
May 25: Victor…Draw @ 7PM
May 26: Marengo…Draw @ 1PM
May 27: Victor…Draw @ 1PM
May 27: Stephens Park…Draw @ 1PM…B’s Western League
May 28: Victor…Draw @ 1PM…Memorial Day
May 28: Stephens Park…Draw @ 1PM…Friends Circle Western League

June 2: Marengo…Draw @ 1PM
June 2: Shawnee, KS…Draw @ 1PM…Kansas State Rolle Bolle Tournament
June 3: Annawan…Mixed Draw @ 1PM…Annawan Fun Day
June 9: Blairstown…Draw @ 1PM
June 9: East End…2 Men/2 Women Team @ 1PM…4 games for points
June 10: Annawan…Draw @ 1PM…Mineral Western League
June 15: Marengo…Draw @ 7PM…Iowa State Kickoff
June 16: Victor…Draw @ 1PM…Iowa State Draw
June 17: Victor…Team @ 12PM…Iowa State Team
June 17: Kewanee…Team @ 12PM…Father’s Day Round Robin
June 23: Belle Plaine…Draw @ 1PM…new BP players play for free
June 29: Victor…Draw @ 7PM…Victor Sesquicentennial
June 30: Victor…Draw @ 1PM…Victor Sesquicentennial
June 30: Hooppole…Mixed Draw @ 1PM…Hooppole Fun Day…4 games for points

July 1: Victor…Team @ 12PM…Victor Sesquicentennial
July 3: Marengo…Draw @ 7PM…play after the parade
July 4: Victor…Draw @ 1PM…Independence Day
July 4: Annawan…Draw @ 1PM…Annawan Western League
July 7: Blairstown…Draw @ 1PM
July 7: Geneseo…Team @ 1PM
July 8: Atkinson…Draw @ 1PM…Atkinson Western League
July 12: Empire Park…Shooters @ 4PM, Team @ 5PM, Mixed Draw @ 7PM…Chuck Naert Memorial
July 13: East End…Team @ 12PM…Illinois State Team
July 13: Manlius…Mixed Draw @ 1PM…Little World
July 13: Geneseo…Mixed Draw @ 7PM…3 games for points
July 14: Geneseo…Draw @ 11AM…Illinois State Draw
July 14: Atkinson…Team @ 7PM
July 15: Annawan…Team @ 11AM…World Tournament
July 21: Belle Plaine…Draw @ 1PM
July 22: Manlius…Draw @ 1PM…Manlius Western League
July 28: Marengo…Draw @ 1PM
July 29: East End…Draw @ 1PM…East End Western League

August 4: Victor…Draw @ 1PM
August 4: Ghent, MN…Team @ 11AM…Belgian American Days
August 5: Manlius…Mixed Draw @ 1PM…Manlius Fun Day
August 9: Ghent, MN…Team…International Weekend
August 10: Marshall, MN & Ghent, MN…International Weekend
August 11: Marshall, MN & Ghent, MN…International Weekend
August 12: Marshall, MN…Team @ 10AM…International Weekend
August 18: Marengo…Draw @ 1PM
August 19: Geneseo…Draw @ 1PM…Geneseo Western League
August 25: Ladora…Draw @ 1PM…Ladora Sesquicentennial
August 25: Atkinson…Mixed Draw @ 7PM…3 games for points
August 26: Kewanee…Draw @ 1PM…Kewanee Western League
August 31: Victor…Draw @ 7PM

September 1: Blairstown…Kids @ 11AM, Men/Women Separate Draw @ 1PM…Sauerkraut Days
September 1: Kewanee…Mixed Draw @ 1PM…Kewanee Hog Days…4 games for points
September 2: Blairstown…Mixed Draw @ 12PM…Sauerkraut Days
September 2: Stephens Park…Draw @ 1PM…Center Belgian Culture Western League
September 3: Victor…Draw @ 1PM…Labor Day
September 3: Stephens Park…Mixed Draw @ 9AM…3 games for points
September 3: Empire Park…Draw @ 1PM…Hand in Hand Western League
September 8: Ladora…Draw @ 1PM…sign up as 1 current player & 1 new/comeback player
September 9: Manlius…Start @ 11AM…Western League Championship
September 15: Marengo…Draw @ 1PM
September 16: Stephens Park…Mixed Draw @ 11AM…Belgian Fall Fest…3 games for points
September 21: East End…Mixed Draw @ 7PM…Tri-State Kickoff
September 22: Manlius…Draw @ 11AM…Tri-State Draw
September 23: Stephens Park…Team @ 10AM…Tri-State Team
September 29: Victor…Draw @ 1PM…end of season potluck, eat at 12PM