Career Begins In Local Alley
Morrissey offered Ladewig a job in his establishment, The Fanatorium. She honed her skills in the tan building at 40 Jefferson Ave SE, decorated with green awnings, vaulted striped ceilings and checkered floors. Affectionately known as "the Fan," the bowling alley became a Grand Rapids institution. In later years locals called it "the house that Marion built."
Ladewig credits Morrissey for her success. He offered her career direction and recruited outstanding local male bowlers as impromptu coaches. Although Ladewig was on the lanes in league play three nights a week,
Morrissey insisted that she practice daily. As a result, she said she bowled every day from 1940 through 1962.
In her first bowling attempts Ladewig barely tallied an 80 score in ten frames and ended her first season with a 149 average. Three years later her average was 182. Ladewig's first competitive triumph came at the Western Michigan Gold Pin Classic where she and a partner won the doubles crown for the 1940-41 season.
One winter night, while filling in for an absent pinboy, Ladewig saw the means for improving her game. From the vantage point of the pit behind the set pins she observed how balls approached their target. She saw two styles of play—speed and spin—and noted that the spin was more successful. By dropping her backswing to shoulder height and focusing on spin rather than speed, she soon added ten points to her average score. For the 1944-1945 season she recorded the women's high average in the nation. She repeated that feat three times (1948-49, 1951-52, 1954-55).