News & Reviews
Keller, Dr. Edward F. "News & Reviews." Emmons County Record, 5 September 2000, sec. 5B.
Strasburg's Blue Room
When the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad erected a spur
into Emmons County in 1902 business sprang up at the crossing and
the town of Strasburg was born. Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church
at the community of Tiraspol by Carl Keller's farm moved into town.
During the first six years something was missing in Strasburg. There
was no Blue Room.
That changed in 1908 when Gregory Bichler built a bar and poolroom,
the forerunner of the even popular Blue Room. For a time Bichler
housed a liquor store there and also a bowling alley and later developed
a dance floor. Public and wedding dances in the 1930s and early
1940s featured the great accordions of John Schwab, Mike Dosch,
the Mastel Brothers, Tom Gutenburg, Charlie Richter and Sam and
His City Fellers with their Clarinet Polka theme song. Anniversaries
and other social gatherings happened there. Sometime later the facility
became the Matt-Ray Lounge and Blue Room. After World War II under
the Mattern ownership the Blue Room was increased in size for the
dance floor and flourished as never before. Weddings abounded, twenty-five
in one thirty day stretch. Always adding to the popularity of the
place were four other watering holes within a minutes walk to help
service the large crowds.
Weddings were all day affairs. After the church ceremony a soup
dinner at the Blue Room enhanced the celebrants and spirits flowed.
Dancing erupted immediately after dinner till just before the opening
of presents. Supper followed and then all cleared to the lounge
for more refreshments before the wedding dance.
In 1949 the Matterns remodeled the Blue Room and added more feet
of dance space. Indoor plumbing was added and no more kerosene stoves
needed for cooking or water to be hauled in. Outdoor privies became
obsolete and the Blue Room was state of the art. Much of the North
Dakota, Minnesota and South Dakota partook in festivities at the
Blue Room. Local orchestras were complemented with the musical caliber
of out-of-staters Whoopee John, the Six Fat Dutchmen and the Royal
Kings. The local Bubbling Quintet began their sweet sounds. The
Blue Room was in high gear, for 25 cents people enjoyed class entertainment.
Basketball games, roller skating and movies satisfied the entertainment
tastes of many in the Blue Room. Movies featured pal night, two
for the price of one. Murals of trees, lakes and rolling hills graced
the walls as the woodwork on the bar and back bar rivaled the interior
of the church in artistic splendor.
In 1970 the Horners purchased the Blue Room and Lounge and continued
operations much the same. The dances never let up. Today the Carlsons
operate the facility with little change in events and style but
under a new name. They added Rose paint and renamed the 88 year
old entertainment palace The Rite Spot (as it has always been) and
The walls of the Rose Room contain many happy memories. A large
percentage of married couples in Strasburg and miles around courted
and married there. With all the musical events held there Lawrence
Welk's Champagne Music was never one of them--Welk's crowd always
needed the high school gym.
Till next time.
(Reprint of story Dr. Keller wrote in August 1996)
Reprinted with permission of the Emmons County Record.