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
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
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
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
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
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
I remember dancing to the beautiful music of Lawrence Welk. I
believe it was in July 1941 at Lake Kampeska.
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
Welk used to play in the barn owned by Sebastien Locker six miles
west of Venturia, N.D.
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
wunnerful that he is, Lawrence Welk had made many special memories
for admirers throughout the country.
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
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
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
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
Mrs. Franklin Jorgenson
responding to your article of “Wanted, Lawrence Welk Memories.”
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.
is my Grandma Stone and Lawrence Welk in 1957 at his club in California.
It was grandma night and he danced with all the grandmothers there.
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
daughter, Nancy Burkey, and her husband took us to a taping of
the Lawrence Welk show when we were spending a part of the winter
with them in Lakewood, Calif.
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
is a photograph of our daughter Debbie and Lawrence Welk taken
by our son Paul backstage at the NDSU fieldhouse during a performance
of the Music Makers in June of 1972.
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
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
am enclosing some pictures of Lawrence Welk hoping you can use
them, and please return them as he is a very dear friend of mine.
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.
married my friend in 1925 and every time Lawrence played close
by we were sure to go.
Everytime he played at Mitchell we attended. He’s
been a real friend of ours. He always asks about the barns in
I always watch Lawrence on TV; he’s doing
#401 Prairie View
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
In 1977 we attended Welk’s show in Lakeland,
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
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!
was my dad’s (Phillip Nelson) favorite radio station and
around 1928 and ’29, I believe, was when Lawrence Welk and
his Novelty Band would play on this station.
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
Mrs. John Anderson
find enclosed a letter I received when I sent him some of my songs
in 1963 on the advice of Myron Floren.
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
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.
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
Lawrence doesn’t forget his old friends. My
husband and I still receive a Christmas card every year from the
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