Letters to the Editor
"Letters to the Editor." Watertown Public Opinion, 1983
In the year of 1929 and 1930, my father, Webster Siegfried, my brother Everett and I operated the Blue Dog Amusement Park at Waubay, S.D. We had Lawrence Welk booked to play for the dances every two weeks. At that time he called his band “The Lawrence Welk Novelty Band.” He lived in Yankton, S.D. and played daily over radio station WNAX.
He would drive from Yankton to Waubay, a distance of about 200 miles, with his band which consisted of five men besides himself. We would pay him $90 for the night. The band would stop at Watertown for supper and get to the Blue Dog Pavilion about 8 o’clock. They would “set-up” immediately and start playing. Lawrence drove a front wheel drive, tan-colored, four-door Cord car.
The names of the other members of the band were: Paul Donley, saxophone; Jim Garvey, trumpet; Gordon Malie, drums; Rollie Chestney, banjo; Sidney “Spider” Web on the piano, and of course, Lawrence and his accordion.
At that time $90 was a lot of money and you were sort of “sticking your neck out,” so to speak, but we always made the money when he came because people would come and bring the whole family to see the Welk Orchestra they listened to over the radio. Now they could see him in person. We would pay him in cash: dollar bills, half-dollars, quarters, enough to make $90. Lawrence would take a clean handkerchief from his pocket, lay it on a seat in the hall, put the money on it and tie it together from the four corners and head for Yankton.
In those days the men were charged a dollar and the ladies were free to dance. The dance would start at 9 o’clock Saturday evening and quit at 12 o’clock.
One thing about Lawrence, he always remembered you. In the summer of 1941, Lawrence played for a dance at the “Spider Palace” on Lake Kampeska. His orchestra was known then as “Lawrence Welk’s Honolulu Fruit Gum Orchestra.” Lawrence said to me, “Paul, would it be alright if I danced with your wife Evelyn and you would dance with the little lady?” He was referring to Alice Lon, his singer. I said, “That sounds good to me.”
Thrilled I was when I was one of the lucky ladies
to have danced with Mr. Welk in June 1980 when he and his orchestra
were asked to play for the Portland (Ore.) Rose Festival at the
My husband and I practically had front row seats as he was a native of North Dakota and we had watched many of his programs and still do.
We talked while dancing and I told him my husband had just purchased a car which bore the license plate AND 123. He laughed and said his plates read UH ONE! UH TWO! with his name on the license plates.
TV cameras were there and the men asked me what we had talked about so I told them and they laughed. I also told him I was from Watertown, S.D. and had danced to him many times there.
When Mr. Welk travels to a city, auditions are held for a local songstress to sing with his orchestra. A beautiful girl, Nancy West, was chosen, a graduate of Grant High School where all three of our children graduated. She had a beautiful voice with great audience appeal.
The very next day, we gave a graduation party for our youngest son. Many friends and neighbors stopped in, and when I answered one doorbell ring, there was Nancy West, the songstress at the door. I recognized her immediately. She was looking for her girlfriend, Bonnie Beebe, a neighbor girl who was serving the punch. I invited her in and what a beautiful surprise for all of us to meet this lovely young lady who also had the thrill of meeting Mr. Welk at the airport when he arrived and riding with him in his limousine to the headquarters that had already been established for him and singing with his orchestra.
The same Sunday a special about him was on TV later in the afternoon. A lot of us got to watch him while the party was going on. The show did not show me, but what the heck, you can’t have everything! It was a beautiful show about him and his activities while here. We were very happy the way things turned out.
The first time I went to see him was with a girlfriend in June 1978. It was again for our Rose Festival. We also had practically front row seats. Both of us had programs. I wanted his autograph (I now have two). I thought I really had it made, could get up to him fast and get right back to my seat. Not so the case! In the scramble I had my cape torn off, squeezed almost to death, and was one of the very last ones to get his autograph. My program was not bent or cracked in anyway, but I certainly was!
When I went with my husband in 1980, I decided not to go through that scramble again, so I went up and talked to the musicians first. What beautiful people—so friendly and we talked about their families. I can remember telling Joe Feeney I was one of 12 children. He was 11 and he said maybe I’ll try for that. The crowd had left and then I really got to talk to Mr. Welk.
My sister, Mrs. Howard Kranz, had sent me an article from the P.O. some years ago about Mr. Welk giving a baby away at a dance at Stony Point one Saturday night. It turned out that the baby was a piglet wrapped in a pink baby blanket and Billy Williams, Jr., caught it and raised him (her?) to adulthood. He asked me to repeat it to his public relations manager, which I did. He turned around to him and said, “Now, how’s that for publicity?” He thanked me and gave me his gracious L. Welk smile.
As a teenager, our family (young ones) listened to Mr. Welk at 11 A.M. broadcast from WNAX, Yankton, S.D. when we could. Soon I found out I was dancing to his music at Stony Point. The last time I danced to his music was at the Armory in Nov. 1941. I also attended all the big bands that came to Lake Poinsett.
Both programs at the Coliseum were late in starting because he said he had to wait for the geritol to set—how thoughtful—but we were entertained by other musicians until the Coliseum was filled (packed).
We have watched Mr. Welk’s program for years and it is with sadness, but with very high respect for Mr. Welk and the big band (orchestra), as he retires from TV. His name and music will never be forgotten by many, besides the happiness he has brought to so many people and us.
Frances (Molstad) Osborn
4234 NE Hazelfern Place
What a thrill to see the famous “Welk” that I listened to over the radio. He played our favorite song, “My blue heaven.”
Mrs. Alvina Wika
Route 1, Box 94
He also played in the granary which is two miles north of Greenway, S.D. (near the North Dakota border) and owned by Phillip Jung.
111 14th Street NW
The experience and memories my husband and I enjoyed with Mr. Welk go back to the spring of 1972. My husband was then a staff member with the American Cancer Society. That particular year, Lawrence Welk was named National Chairman of the American Cancer Society Crusade. He made a request to come to the annual crusade meeting at Rapid City for the South Dakota division. It was at this meeting that we enjoyed our association with Lawrence Welk.
He gave a special significance to the over 350 volunteers representing the state of South Dakota by taking pictures with various groups and individuals. This meant standing on his feet from 9:30 in the morning till 12:30 or later. I asked him if he was getting tired and he replied, “No, I am enjoying every minute of it.”
The surprising part was how volunteers would ask Mr. Welk if he remembered playing at such and such a place and he would always know the place, and many times asked if such and such a person still had a business there. It amazes me how, out of all the many places he must have played, he still could remember names and places.
That evening the staff members and their spouses entertained Lawrence Welk and Ken Hart, who was the country singer for the band at the time, at a dinner to show their appreciation for his volunteer appearance and support for the cancer society. On that evening, he told everyone how his organization was managed and how they were like one big, happy family.
Before the close of the evening, the staff member from the Rapid City area had arranged to get an accordion for Mr. Welk so he could play a few numbers for the group. Lawrence Welk suggested that he needed a drummer, so he proceeded to go to the club kitchen and get two wooden spatulas and a large wastepaper basket for a drum. What a combo! The drummer, Lawrence Welk on the accordion, Ken Hart at the guitar, and soloist, Mr. Van Ort, executive director for the Cancer Society. They really charmed everyone present. We had a special evening with memories we will never forget.
Lawrence Welk is truly a special kind of person who loves people and enjoys making music wherever he goes.
Marvin and LaFoy Lebert
202 13th Street NE
We remember when we listened to Lawrence Welk’s music when they broadcasted from the Trianon Ballroom in Chicago and they played “Back Home in Illinois.”
We remember when we danced to Lawrence Welk’s Champagne Music every time they played at Spider Palace on Lake Kampeska in Watertown; and the old and young would glide around to his smooth “Champagne Music.”
We remember when we met Lawrence and his wife when they were autographing records of “Bubbles and Wine” at Herbergers Dept. Store in Watertown and we bought a record even though we already had one.
We remember when we always went to Mitchell, S.D. whenever the “Music Makers” played there during the week-long Corn Palace celebration in September, and what a thrill it was to see his face on the front panel of the Corn Palace one year, hand-crafted out of various colored corns.
And how one morning after the show, we happened to be in the lobby of the Holiday Inn and he came over and shook hands with us.
We remember how we enjoyed his weekly TV broadcasts of his Champagne Music from Ocean Park, Calif. and wished we could be there dancing.
And now we have secured a series of four of the Lawrence Welk Musical Family Pictorial Calendars (1979-1982) that we can browse through during our leisure time to enjoy the greetings of the Lawrence Welk Musical Family and bring back fond memories of the “Lawrence Welk Era.”
John and Ann Carlson
714 6th Avenue SE
We are going to miss listening to Lawrence Welk and his band on Saturday nights. We grew up with Lawrence Welk.
When I was about 12 years old, I roller skated at the Pavilion at Hartford Beach and Lawrence furnished our music to skate by on his accordion. He was alone then.
When I went to college at Northern, Lawrence had organized a five-man orchestra and played on WNAX, Yankton. My roommates and I listened each time they played.
The Welk band played at the Browns Valley Coliseum and we danced to his music there. Also got to visit with him and he didn’t forget me.
I married in 1938 and we moved to Davenport, Ia. The big bands would play at the Oysheum Theatre and we always went to hear them. Lawrence Welk was there several times and we were there to hear those beautiful renditions. I would write a note to Lawrence and telling him we were there and sent the note back stage with the usher. We were always asked to come backstage for a visit. He introduced us to the band members and they were most cordial.
We were backstage visiting the day Alice Lon, his first champagne singer decided to leave the band. She was a beautiful singer and very attractive. It was hard for Lawrence to find a replacement.
Mrs. Franklin Jorgenson
I had the lucky experience of seeing one of the last Lawrence Welk rehearsals this past January.
The Augustana Concert Choir went on a 22-day tour of the West Coast this past January interim session. We were invited to a rehearsal of the show by alumnus Myron Floren. Lawrence informed us that this would be one of the last tapings before ending his career of 600 television shows, though he stated that reruns would be a great possibility.
So we saw the rehearsal of the Hogie Carmichael show which was shown Saturday, March 6th.
His family of musicians came out to entertain us. It got to the point that they forgot the rehearsal and were interested in us. So most of them came over to talk with us.
Lawrence danced with a few of the girls but not me. I was too busy dancing with Bobbie. What a thrill! But he did take this picture with me and several others.
Lawrence and Myron played their accordions for us. One of our members got to direct the orchestra. Bobbie danced with some. The Mexican girl (I shall not attempt her name) was handing out kisses to all the guys. Everyone was so friendly there. Lawrence couldn’t thank us enough for dropping by.
The whole experience was great. All I can say about Lawrence is “what a guy!” He was so nice and appreciative. I’ll never forget it.
Thanks so much, I hope this is considered.
Sioux Falls, S.D.
My grandmother’s name was Mrs. Mae Stone. She had lived many years at Gary, S.D. where she danced to Lawrence’s music at the dance pavilion at Lake Cochrane. We were in California for a reunion when this was taken.
Leola M. Ward
Nassau, Minn. 56272
We found Lawrence Welk radiant with friendliness and a down-to-earth person. A nice visit with Mr. Welk revealed his interest in people. He asked about folks in Watertown and Stony Point where he played for dances. He also asked about a girl in Watertown he went with.
We found it very interesting to see how the Lawrence Welk Show is put together. The show was a Hawaiian show and was shown on TV March 13.
609 South Broadway
Our family had seats near the side of the stage and Debbie and Paul, who were high school students at the time, visited backstage with Mr. Welk and many of his performers while the show was presented.
We were pleased that Lawrence would take the time during the show for the picture and to inquire what instruments the kids played in band and give them the encouragement. We had previously enjoyed the show at the Corn Palace both in 1962 and 1963.
Without a doubt, the Lawrence Welk Show has brought
our family more wholesale television enjoyment than any other
show or shows in the past 25 years.
Sherman and Reneta Fellbaum
Route 1, Box 124A
New Effington, S.D. 57255
Back in the late 20’s, at the age of 17, I was a working girl in the city of Sioux Falls. Lawrence Welk was featured at the Arkota Ballroom almost every single Saturday night and sometimes on other special occasions.
Working girls used to get together and “stag” it to the Arkota Ballroom on Saturday nights to hear him play, and if you were lucky enough, you might even get to dance with him. In those days, if you didn’t have a date —which most working girls didn’t— it was proper for girls to dance together. We would sit on a long bench along the wall, and hopefully wait for dances.
Lawrence had a beautiful accordion with his name LAWRENCE studded on it with glittering rhinestones across one end. It was fun to sit and watch it sparkle as he played.
He had the habit of putting down his accordion at least once during an evening, jumping down off the stage and choosing a girl to dance with. One Saturday night to my astonishment, I was his chosen one. Before I knew what was happening, he had walked right up to me and pulled me out on the floor. He was such a big man and I was so little— only a mere 98 pounds. It was a waltz and he swung me round and round. I’m sure my feet touched the floor only a part of the time. But it was so fun.
I even remember how he was dressed. He had on a plaid gingham shirt, open at the throat, and dark trousers. I always remember him dressing quite casually.
When I watch his shows on TV, I always think of that evening when I was his chosen one. I remember how much fun it was to dance with him and how the rhinestones on his accordion glittered.
In my young days in 1924 and 1925, I had a very dear friend who liked to dance and so did I. So here is where we met Lawrence Welk. He played for the large barn dances held at Frankenoff, Nelson and Reynold. He hauled his accordion in a little two wheel trailer pulled by car.
I remember when the dance was over, Lawrence said, “I got a flat tire.” So my friend and I helped him with his tire.
Everytime he played at Mitchell we attended. He’s been a real friend of ours. He always asks about the barns in South Dakota.
I always watch Lawrence on TV; he’s doing real well.
#401 Prairie View
Robbyn Gauger, Clear Lake, recently returned from a tour with the Augustana College Concert Choir. While on tour through the states of Nebraska, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming and South Dakota, the choir had the opportunity to attend one of the last rehearsals of the Lawrence Welk Orchestra.
During the choir’s visit, Mr. Welk gave the honor of being able to direct the band in one of its numbers to one of the male members of the choir. As the student directed the orchestra, Mr. Welk turned around and started dancing with Miss Gauger. One of her friends in the choir shot this photo with her 35mm camera to preserve a memory that she will always cherish.
The members of the Welk Orchestra were very gracious to their South Dakota visitors and spent some time visiting with them and answering their questions.
This may not qualify for your “good old days” memories of the Welk Orchestra in this area, but is probably the most recent candid shot of Mr. Welk and one of the residents of this immediate area.
Robbyn is the daughter of Myron and Joyce Gauger of Clear Lake and is a senior communications major at Augustana College in Sioux Falls.
Mrs. Myron Gauger
Route 1, Box 25
Clear Lake, S.D.
Enclosed please find two photos of my “memories” of Lawrence Welk. These pictures were taken at the Los Angeles Policeman’s Celebrity Golf Tournament in Los Angeles, May 1979. Mr. Welk was a golfer and I was a spectator on a golf course for the first time.
I would like to comment that when I was introduced to Mr. Welk as someone from South Dakota, it was as if I had met a long lost friend. He is the classiest, most gracious person I’ve ever met. His memories of South Dakota are like they happened yesterday.
During the conversation, he mentioned the family name of “Baukol” which is genuine proof that he was “there.” In fact, our conversation was so spirited that the golfers asked us to quiet down so they could concentrate. He was as excited about meeting me as me meeting him. What an experience! He also gave me his business card.
I’m too young to have attended any Welk dances in South Dakota; however, after I came to California, I attended one of his dances at the Hollywood Palladium and won his “spotlight dance,” the prize being one of his albums. I don’t remember the year that happened, however, Myron Floren autographed the album and this, too, is included in my treasures. In fact, this album is being used as an exhibit in my son Jon’s 5th grade South Dakota state report along with Mr. Welk’s business card attached to it.
About the writer of this letter...born and raised near Butler, S.D., attended Webster, S.D. schools, graduated from Webster High in 1960 and came to California Dec. 1960. Parents: Adrain and Rose Valentine; Adrain deceased but Rose still living on the farm near Butler.
Marlene (Valentine) Erskine
2634 W 231st St.
My memory of Lawrence Welk is one which I particularly treasure as I had the opportunity to direct the Lawrence Welk Orchestra.
The band was playing at the City Auditorium in the mid 40s and my parents operated the coat check concession. Being in grade school, I was not much help in that department, so I spent the evening backstage watching and listening to the band. I sat on the side where Mr. Welk came when he left the stage and we visited quite a bit during those brief intermissions. He asked me if I’d like to direct the band. I said “No” as I didn’t want to go on that stage in front of a packed auditorium. Finally I said “Yes.”
When on stage, Mr. Welk introduced me to the audience and the band and handed me his baton. This apparently was regular part of the show as the band was well rehearsed in what to do. Every movement of the baton brought a reaction from the orchestra. Mr. Welk gave me a choice of three tunes to direct. I only remember two—Cement Mixer and Dark Town’s Strutters Ball. I recognized the latter and asked to do that one. Mr. Welk then showed me how and moved my arm in tempo of the beat and the faster the baton went, the slower the orchestra played. By the end of the number, Mr. Welk was moving my arm as fast as possible and the orchestra was playing very slow.
Other memories of that evening include seeing Leo Fortin for the first time (I was in class with his nephew). Years later, I played the piano with Leo when he had the Big Band. In traveling with Leo to dances it was fun to hear him reminisce about his many years with the Welk Orchestra.
Later, when the band went on television and became nationally known, it was fun to watch and remember the night I directed that orchestra.
Enclosed a copy of Mr. Welk’s autograph, the autograph of the Champagne Lady of that time, and two other band members.
612 Second Street N.E.
Back in the 30’s there was one of the finest dance pavilions on the east shore of beautiful Lake Cochrane. Many fine bands played here. Lawrence Welk’s band played here many times and the place was packed. As for me, I never missed when they played. Through the years I have listened to his band on the radio and TV.
Lawrence Welk certainly brought many hours of enjoyment into the homes across our country. Now that he no longer will be on the air, I know he and his fine band will be missed.
About five years ago, I received a copy of his book “My America, Your America” as a gift from my daughter who had Welk autograph it for me. I wrote to Mr. Welk thanking him for the personal autograph and also complimenting him on his fine book and band. He replied in a nice thank you letter and said, “Maybe we could share another waltz some of these days.”
Lawrence Welk, in my opinion, will long be remembered as one of the name bands in our country.
Last of all, I wish Lawrence Welk many happy years in his retirement.
Lawrence Welk played at our junior-senior prom in 1935 at Flandreau Indian Voc. High School. I can still remember what a good time we had.
He would play his accordion and walk among the dancers. He played as though he was enjoying himself as much as we were.
I like to tell people Lawrence Welk played at our junior-senior prom. Probably I am one of the very few in South Dakota that can tell of that experience.
Orville G. Webb
706 Milbank Avenue
Whetstone Valley Stockfarm, presently owned by James and Donna Rabe, Big Stone City, S.D. used to be the site for Saturday night dances in the 1928-32 era when Lawrence Welk and Ray Lee played. Welk’s initials are carved in the hayloft of the barn.
James and Donna Rabe
Big Stone City, S.D.
My early memories of Lawrence Welk and his band go back to 1922-1926. At that time, I was going to high school in Sisseton.
We were a group of boys that would rent a car from Larson Bros. A Buick dealer, for $2 to get to Mack’s Hall in New Effington on Saturday nights. I believe there were three in the band at the time.
In 1968 my wife and I dined at Welk’s Lounge in Escondido, Calif. This is in connection with Welk’s golf course.
In 1977 we attended Welk’s show in Lakeland, Fla.
Welk’s band had been enjoyed by young and old alike and will be missed by millions.
Orville H. Helgeson
509 4th Avenue E.
Among my recollections of playing with Lawrence Welk in the early “20’s” was playing for a barn dance at Pieschke’s barn south of Webster. Because of the distance to Aberdeen (in those days and those cars), we stayed at the Commercial Hotel in Webster.
The following morning Welk asked whether I could read music. When I replied that I could, he wanted me to teach him to play some new sheet music he had purchased, so we went out to the fire escape, propped the sheet against the railing and practiced. I was in B flat, Lawrence in the key of C, but he mastered the numbers which we played at the dance that evening.
He told me, “You stick with me and we’ll go places.” But I returned to teaching, feeling it was a sure thing.
In the year of about 1926, my dear wife and I danced one evening at the Spider Palace, Lake Kampeska, near Watertown, S.D. It was your band, Lawrence, that we danced to. Oh what beautiful music—I’ll never forget that evening.
Then when time to go home, it was raining “cats and dogs.” The lightening and roaring thunder was treacherous. In my old Model T Ford the lightning would flash right through my isinglass curtain window.
Gert, my sweetheart, was so frightened. I calmed her by saying, “Dear, just think of the great band of Lawrence Welk, the lovely music.”
Everytime the thunder roared our Model T stopped dead still with a prayer or two. We’d be on our way again and finally rescued to our destination.
Lawrence, we are going to miss you on TV, but we realize you are well deserving of a wonderful retirement now for you have brightened the lives of millions of people for so many years. We never missed listening to your inspiring music.
God Bless You.
My grandfather, Ray Galvin, is nearly 87 and lives in Renfield, S.D. Until retiring to Renfield in about 1970, he and my grandmother lived on the Galvin family homestead north of Athol, S.D.
Since I was a little girl, I’ve heard the story of how grandpa came to hire Lawrence Welk.
In 1920 or 1921, the Athol-Ashton Legion Post sponsored a “bowery dance.” A bowery was raised dancing platform with a roof of tree branches braced by two by fours.
My grandfather and the Athol town barber, Earl “Shorty” Waldron, went to Aberdeen to hire a band for the dance. They talked to a woman who managed a band of young. She wanted to make the deal, but she told them that one of the regular band members was ill so could she bring a young accordionist trying to get started in the business along instead?
They agreed and the date was set for June 25th.
When the night arrived, young Lawrence Welk stole the show and music echoed through the streets as his fingers fairly flew along the keys. The crowd grew and grew with no one sitting out a dance. Finally, when the evening ended, the Athol-Ashton Legion had gone from $100 in debt to $100 in the black at only a dime a dance!
We had a battery radio and my dad made sure he was in the house to listen to Lawrence Welk, so the whole family learned to enjoy his music also.
We have listened to the Champagne Music since we first owned a television in 1956. And now we had the privilege to see him and his musical family in person on March 4, 1982 at Lakeland, Fla.
Mrs. John Anderson
October 1, 1963
Dear Mr. Balsiger:
Your nice letter to me was welcome and I sincerely wish that we could be of some help to you regarding your original music. Since you talked to Myron about this, however, I regret to say that our attorneys have advised us not to accept original material for review under any circumstances. I’m indeed sorry to disappoint you on this and do hope you understand.
I was very impressed with “The House of the Lord” and “Did You Come See God Today?” and will be happy to pass them onto Aladdin for his consideration. Whether or not he is able to present them on our show, I’m sure he will greatly enjoy reading them.
All the Champagne Music Makers join me in extending our very best wishes to you.
Route 1, Box 50A
In September of 1948 my fiancée and I danced to Lawrence Welk and his band. He was playing at the old Lakeside Pavilion at Watertown.
We married in October 1948.
Those memories will always remain with us and we still watch him every week in TV.
Mr. and Mrs. Merlyn Hedman
Marvin Sandell of Florence danced to the old-time music of Lawrence Welk at the City Auditorium on South Broadway in Watertown. It was in the late 1930’s or early 1940’s. It was a standing room only crowd as there were no seats there and it was crowded, but a person could dance and there was still plenty of room. You weren’t bumping into each other.
Mrs. Marvin Sandell
My first recollection of meeting Lawrence was in the summer of 1928 at Lake Poinsett. Guess I was rather bold 17-year-old, as I introduced myself to him, then asked him if I could sing with him. I sang “Chloe.” Leo Fortin, who lives in Watertown, was a member of the five-piece band.
The next day Lawrence called me from Madison, S.D., and asked if I’d be interested in singing with his band. But my “Pa” objected strenuously—said I could if I’d get home the same night. Don’t think I missed too many dances after that. Would go with Lawrence and the band. Did sing with him in Madison one time, as I had a family friend living there that I stayed with.
Feb 9, 1930, went to Yankton and broadcast over WNAX with the band one Sunday afternoon. That was a thrilling experience! –was the first time I’d ever been broadcast. Sang Chloe and “Du, du liegst mi rim herzen.” The band sang the chorus with me.
Lawrence doesn’t forget his old friends. My husband and I still receive a Christmas card every year from the Welk’s.
I am enclosing six pages out of my albums.
Thank you very much!!
Verena (Langenfeld) Vossberg
1715 South Kentwood
Springfield, Mo. 65804
Do I have memories of Lawrence Welk? Indeed I do. I was present at the first dance he played in Watertown, S.D.
During the following years, I followed his music from Stony Point, The Casino, Fraternal Hall, Kranzburg, Waverly, Twin Lakes, Park, Goodwin, Lake Poinsett, Hayti, Lake Preston, Clark, Wylie Park, Aberdeen, the Trianon Ballroom, Webster, Waubay, and others in South Dakota. The Coliseum at Browns Valley and the American Legion Pavilion in Breckenridge, Minn. I am sure there were many others, but time dims the memory but not the joy of dancing to his danceable music.
Dancing around the floor while playing his accordion only made the audience feel closer to his intense love of music and his love of people.
The last time I danced to his music was in St. Paul at the auditorium. My wife and I were up front and he held a songfest in front of the stage. He was listening for voices, encouraging all to sing along. Loud and clear he picked my wife’s voice and presented her with an autographed recording. She was thrilled.
During the dance we were told he was not seeing anyone. I asked the attendant to tell him the little Dutchman from Kranzburg, S.D. was there, and he came and talked to us and gave us another recording. We receive Christmas cards from him and treasure them more with each one.
The last time we heard him in person was in concert at the State University Fieldhouse in Fargo, N.D. It was marvelous. The place was packed.
We are long-time listeners to the Welk programs on TV—the music that never grows old or outdated. We do not miss his programs when he is on. We hope for reruns of his past shows and hope he will make some special appearances from time to time.
The critics said he and his music would not take hold or last. He surely proved them wrong.
Thank you, Lawrence, for many hours of listening and dancing pleasure.
(81 years young)
Formerly from Kranzburg,
Yes, I have danced to Lawrence Welk when he was first getting started.
He played for dances at the Half Moon Theatre, Willow Lake, S.D. in the years 1924-1925.
He had a three or four piece band at that time and what I remember most is that he would play his accordion and move about on the floor among the dancers. He was a very outgoing, friendly person. I assume he is still the same.
327 13th Street NE, Apt. 106
It was 1926 or 1927 that I first saw Lawrence Welk and his dance band when they came to Watertown from Yankton to play at the Fraternal Hall. For short it was called “The Frat.” It was located above Penney’s store where the Coast to Coast store is now located.
He drew a very large crowd and he played “Baby
Face,” “Saxophone Waltz,” “Does Your Mother
Know You’re Out, Cecilia?” “Tie Me to Your Apron
Strings Again” and many others.
The building just shook and swayed and the Penney’s managers and the city officials decided the building wasn’t strong enough for such a large crowd of lively dancing, so after that it was prohibited.
But, since that, he played at the Spider Palace, Stony Point and other places in this area.
Stanley Burghart’s cousin, Merle Lawrence, played the piano for Lawrence Welk for several years. From Yankton he went to Denver and Texas and then on to Chicago where he played at the Trianon Ballroom.
Mrs. Eva Berner
700 1st Street SW