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 Rose Room.

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.

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