It’s Welk on America

Flanagan, Barbara. "It's Welk on America." n.d.

I think I’ve discovered Lawrence Welk’s source of youth. He eats a banana a day.

Welk, 72, said he also stays “young” and healthy eating broiled meat and avoiding sweets except for ice cream. He drinks tea “and an occasional glass of sweet wine like Mogen David,” he said, but no champagne or beer.

“The only time I ever liked beer was back in North Dakota at harvest time,” he recalled. “When you were out in the fields threshing, you’d get so hot and dry and thirsty. Then, a cold beer tasted good to me.”

Welk, who is 5 feet, 11 ½ inches tall and weighs 164 pounds, once weighed 204 pounds, “but I never liked fat men, including myself,” he said, “so I sold my car and walked back and forth to my jobs and that did it. Now, I try to lose a pound a year.”

After reading Welk’s newest book, “My America, Your America,” I wondered if he planned to run for political office. The book, which he autographed yesterday at Dayton’s, states his philosophy of life and his views about what’s wrong in the United States.

“There’s a fellow in Santa Barbara who keeps starting a Welk-for-president campaign,” Welk said, smiling. “But I’m not interested in running for office.”

“Of Course, I am concerned with our land and the direction we’ve been going. I’m in favor of the free-enterprise system. If I was in politics, in one sense I’d have more of a voice. My feeling about this country is my reason for writing this book.”

Welk, who explains in the book how his employees do not have written contracts with him and how he prefers to train his people for the show in his own way, believes the same methods might provide an incentive to other businessmen to offer on-the-job training to young people.

He states in the book that such a training program could work if the government offered a tax credit to businesses for training young people and if unions would relax their rules to allow for such training.

“I would love to see an America in which all kinds of businesses were allowed to flourish-union, government, and profit-sharing business such as the one I’ve been describing (Welk’s orchestra),” he writes. “In fact, a youngster trained in our (Welk’s) system could most certainly join the union as a fully qualified professional later on, if he so desired. And that would be fine, because each of us should be free to work in whatever system pleases and serves as best. Each of us should have the right of free choice.”

Welk, a union member, believes union demands caused the end of the “big band era” and the shutting down of theaters and ballrooms. Free enterprise, he said, needs competition to thrive, but when people are paid not to work, there is no incentive.

“I believe that the government and the unions and our schools have been going in the wrong direction if they really want to develop our people and preserve our free-enterprise system,” he said.

I asked him how Tom Netherton, our blond and handsome Bloomington baritone, is doing in the Welk “family.”

“Tom’s got a good noodle,” Welk said. “And he’s a showman. If he continues to work, I think he’ll make it. In fact, I’ll be Tom could run for president.”

In the immediate future, however, Welk is making a new record with Netherton. “Tom’s going to sing the 12 best love songs,” Welk said.

Sounds wunnerful, doesn’t it?

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