The Marshall Fields Scarves by Ralph Brendler

The name Hughston McBain is (or at least was) well-known in Chicago.  McBain was the Chairman of the board of the Marshall Fields department store for many years, and was instrumental in making Fields one of the top department stores in the nation.  What is less well-known is that McBain was an avid curler.  In 1948 he helped to form the Chicago Curling Club, and was its first president.  To this day his portrait (complete with pipe and tam o'shanter) graces the wall of the club, and the premier men's league in the club is still named for him.  He also organized and presided over the first US National Curling Championship, sponsored by Marshall Fields and held at the Chicago Stadium in 1957.

In the early 1950s, McBain combined these two worlds-- Marshall Fields introduced a men's scarf and ladies' kerchief decorated with images of curling club pins.  The men's scarf featured the pins of 60 clubs from throughout the US and Canada, while the kerchief featured the pins of 24 women's clubs in the US and the USWCA logo.  These scarves were silk, and the printing was quite detailed and well-done. They were available in several different colors, including red, navy blue, brown, and buff.  They were apparently not a big seller, however, as they are quite rare today. 

The men's scarf is approximately 12" wide and 48" long, and features 15 rows of 4 pins each, for a total of 60 images.  There are 30 pins from US clubs and 30 pins from Canadian clubs, and about a third of the clubs referenced no longer exist.

Row one:

Chicago CC, Northbrook IL,
Indian Hill CC, Winnetka IL
Skokie CC, Glencoe IL
Exmoor CC, Highland Park IL

Not surprising that the scarf starts with the Chicago and its chief north-shore rivals.  Of these clubs, only Exmoor and Chicago are still going, and the rivalry between the two is still pretty strong.

Row Two:

Glen View CC, Glenview IL
Indian Hill CC, Winnetka, IL
Oak Park CC, Oak Park IL
Barrington Hills CC, Barrington Hills IL

The second row is more Chicago-area clubs, but ones that are a bit farther from the CCC.  The Barrington Hills CC was only around for a few years and closed in the early 60s, while Glen View closed in the 1980s.  North Shore closed in 2012, while Oak Park still exists as a paper club (curling at Exmoor).

Row Three:

Milwaukee CC, Milwaukee WI
Wauwatosa CC, Wauwatosa WI
Madison CC, Madison WI,
Portage CC, Portage WI

Row three gets us to the southern Wisconsin clubs, which were (and still are) popular bonspiel destinations for Chicago curlers.  All four of these clubs are still in operation, and most are still using the same or very similar pin.

Row 4:

Superior CC, Superior WI
Wausau CC, Wausau WI
Waupaca CC, Waupaca WI
Galesville CC, Galesville WI

Row four takes us further into Wisconsin, with teams in the north and west parts of the state.  Galesville closed in 2005, but the other three are still around.

Row 5:

Appleton CC, Appleton WI
Poynette CC, Poynette WI
LaCrosse CC, LaCrosse WI
Medford CC, Medford WI

Yet more north and west Wisconsin clubs in row five, mostly smaller clubs.  LaCrosse closed in 1998, but has recently been re-incorporated curling on arena ice.  The others are still going strong.

Row 6:

St. Paul CC, St Paul MN
Duluth CC, Duluth MN
Eveleth CC, Eveleth MN
Detroit CC, Ferndale MI

Row six gets us out of IL/WI, and into the rest of the midwest.  All of these clubs are still around, but Eveleth has merged with several other small clubs to form Curl Mesabi.

Row 7:

Utica CC, Utica NY
Schenectady CC, Schenectady NY
St. Andrews CC, Hastings-on-Hudson NY
Ardsley CC, Ardsley NY

Finally we get out of the midwest!  Row seven has the major New York clubs, all of which are still around (although St. Andrews no longer has their own dedicated ice).

Row 8:

The Country Club, Brookline MA
Nashua CC, Nashua NH
Victoria CC, Hamilton ON
Thistle CC, Hamilton ON

Row eight finishes up the US with the important New England clubs, and starts on the Canadian club pins.  The Thistle closed in 2002, but the others remain open.  Note that the Hamilton Thistle pin design on the scarf was apparently only used for a few years in the 1950s.  Earlier and later pins use a much simpler design.

Row 9

Granite CC, Toronto ON
Toronto CC, Toronto ON,
High Park CC, Toronto ON
Barrie CC, Barrie ON

Row 9 takes us into Toronto and southern Ontario.  All four of these clubs are still around, but the Toronto CC merged with the Toronto Skating Club and the Toronto Cricket Club in 1958 to form the Toronto Cricket, Skating, and Curling Club.  Interestingly, the pin design shown for the Toronto CC is from a much earlier time (the 1930s), and not the pin the club was using at the time the scarf was produced.

Row 10:
London CC, London ON
Ottawa CC, Ottawa ON
Siegniory CC, Montebello QC
Pleasant Lake CC, PEI

Row 10 contains a few more more Ontario clubs, and starts to move eastward.  The Siegniory is perhaps the most beautful curling club in the world-- it is in a huge red cedar lodge on the Ottawa River that to this day is one of the top resorts in Canada (the Chateau Montebello).  The lodge still houses four curling sheets in the original timber-framed ice house.  The Pleasant Lake CC is one of the real oddballs on the scarf, and not just because it features a skunk as its logo-- the "club" does not actually exist, and never has!  It was actually a social organization formed by members of other clubs in PEI, who competed at bonspeils under the Pleasant Lake banner.  From the 31 January, 1961 Montreal Gazette:  "The Pleasant Lake Club is located in Prince Edward Island, has no club house, no sheets of ice but plenty of members."

Row 11:

Royal Montreal CC, Montreal QC
St. George CC, Montreal QC
Caledonia CC, Montreal QC
Thistle CC, Montreal QC

Row eleven has several of the biggest clubs in Montreal at the time, but surprisingly misses a few of the famous ones (Lachine, Heather)-- my guess is that the US players only visited the anglophone clubs.  The Royal Montreal is still going strong, but Caledonian closed in 1982, and the Thistle and St. George in 2001.

Row 12:
Maritime Flying CC, PE
Halifax CC, Halifax NS
Mayflower CC, Halifax NS
Bluenose CC, New Glasgow NS.

Row twelve takes us even further east, to the Maritimes.  The most interesting pin here is the "Maritime Flying Curlers", which was another fictitious club from PEI (what is it with Islanders and their fake clubs?).  They were sort of a barnstorming team, flying around Canada and the US playing the top local teams to help generate interest in the sport.  The Mayflower CC is famous for another odd bit of history.  In 1912, the Mayflower's ice house was used as a temporary morgue for the bodies recovered from the Titanic!

Row 13:

Granite CC, Winnipeg MN
Strathcona CC, Winnipeg MN
Granite CC, Saskatoon SK
Nelson CC, Nelson BC

Thirteen rows and nearly 50 pins in before we finally get to the heartland of curling, western Canada.  The Strathcona was a particularly legendary club, home base of several provincial and national champs, but it is the only one on this list that no longer exists (closed in 1982).

Row 14:

Quebec CC, Quebec QC
Quebec Winter Club, Quebec QC
Victoria CC, Quebec QC
Etchemin CC, St. Romauld QC

Row fourteen takes us back east, to Quebec City.  I think the Chicago curlers must have made yearly trips to Quebec for the International Bonspeil, as there are lot of mentions of Chicago teams in the 1950s English-language newspapers in Quebec.  Etchemin and Victoria are still playing, but the Quebec CC and Winter Club are long closed.  The Quebec Winter Club did some of the nicest pins of anyone.  Their "Granite Ladies" bonspiel pins were real works of art (and very collectible), and even their club pin is quite ornate and stylish.

Row 15:

The Pas CC, The Pas MN
Shawinigan CC, Shawinigan QC
Jacques Cartier CC, Quebec QC
Pea Soup Section, Jacques Cartier CC, Quebec QC


Row 15 contains a few more eastern Quebec clubs, and a couple of real oddballs. The Pas is a tiny town in far northern Manitoba (about 300 miles north of Winnipeg), and is significantly smaller and far more remote than any of the other clubs represented.  Their pin is quite cool, though, which may have warranted their inclusion.  The Pas CC  and the Jacques Cartier CC are still extant, but Shawinigan closed in the 1980s.  Shawinigan pins are often found in sterling silver, which makes them more collectible than most, and harder to find.  The best here was saved for last, though-- the "Pea Soup Section" of the Cartier CC.  The Pea Soup Club was an invitation-only organization (with strict initiation rules) run by the Jacques Cartier CC, which admitted only a handful of members a year.  The 1961 Quebec Chronicle-Telegraph said of the club: "US Curlers are particularly intrigued by the Pea Soup Club, and [the founders] have already received offers to travel to Chicago, all expenses paid, to carry out an initiation in the Windy City."

I've no idea if this initiation actually happened, but if it did I'd bet Hughston McBain was involved...

The Women’s Scarf/Kerchief:

The woman’s scarf is approximately 18” square, and features 4 rows of 5 pin images, with the USWCA pin image at the top, and another club pin image centered at the bottom, for a total of 22 images.  All of the images are for women's organizations, and unlike the men's scarf, all of the pins shown are for US clubs.

From the omission of the Rockettes of the Detroit CC (a real shame, because their logo is just as kitchsy as the name implies), we can assume that this scarf was produced between 1950 (the date of the Portage Tartans) and 1952 (the date for the Rockettes).  The only US women's organization I know of that was active at this time that and did not make the scarf are the Glengarries of the Poynette CC.

The pins here are in pretty much the same order as the pins on the men's scarf, starting with the Chicago area clubs at the top, followed by southern Wisconsin, then northern Wisconsin, and finally the rest of the country.

Row 1:


Womens curling was a brand-new thing at this time-- most clubs had previously been male-only!  The USWCA was formed in 1947 by five midwestern clubs (Indian Hill, Exmoor, Appleton, Skokie and Wauwatosa), and soon added many other clubs.  This pin design was used from the inception of the organization until the late 1990s, when Alaska was added to the map.

Row 2:

Heathers (Chicago CC) - Northbrook IL
Squaws (Indian Hill CC) - Winnetka IL
Thistles (Skokie CC) - Glencoe IL
Witches (Glen View CC) - Glenview IL
Highlanders (Exmoor CC) - Higland Park, IL

As could be expected from the prevailing attitudes in the 50's, some of the logs are bit offensive by modern standards.  The Indian Hill Squaws and Glen View Witches logos shown here are decidedly not politically correct.

Row 3:

Lassies (North Shore CC) - Glenview IL
Acorns (Oak Park CC) - Oak Park IL
Kilties (Milwaukee CC) - Milwaukee WI
Granites (Wauwatosa CC) - Wauwatosa WI
Toories (Madison CC) - Madison WI

A few more mildly sexist images that would probably not make it today, but at least nothing offensive.  Incidentally a "toorie" is the Scottish name for the little pompon on the top of a glengarry.

Row 4:

Tartans (Portage CC) - Portage WI
Highlanders (Wausau CC) - Wausau WI
Lochs (Waupaca CC) - Waupaca WI
Tam O'Shanters (Appleton CC) - Appleton WI
Lochettes (Medford CC) - Medford WI

The logo shown here for the Wausau Highlanders looks a lot different than their pin.  The actual pin features a much smaller rock, with a nearly indecipherable "Wausau" printed on it.  In order to make it work on the scarf, they increased the size of the rock about 3x.

Row 5:

S.O.O.P.S. (The Country Club) - Brookline MA
Brooms (Nashua CC) - Nashua NH
Glengarries (Utica CC) - Utica NY
Arrows (Schenectady CC) - Schenactady NY
Wicks (St. Andrews CC) -  Hastings-on-Hudson NY

Yes, that is a vacuum cleaner on the Brookline pin.  It must've been a hilarious joke to use that instead of a broom in the 1950s.  The meaning of the acronym SOOPS is a mystery, but given the vacuum cleaner gag, it's probably equally hilarious (take that as you will).

Row 6:

Bonnie Spielers (St Paul CC) - St Paul MN

The St. Paul club had one of the largest women's organizations in the country, and was also one to the earlier clubs to disband the women's group and grant women full membership.  The Bonnie Spielers live on today only as the name of a women's curling event.