The header picture shows the organizers of Texas Heritage Music & Dance Club when they originally met on June 26, 2010 to organize THMDC. The organizers felt it was important to highlight “Music” as well as “Dance”; therefore both words are in the club’s name. The purpose the club was organized was to help keep the heritage dances and their music going for future generations – not on life support, but going strong. To achieve that, we need musicians and dancers of all ages to embrace this music and dancing as part of who they are as individuals, as having certain heritages, as wanting to use the music and dancing to improve their physical and mental well-being. Thanks go out to each organizer and to each club member! Pictured, from left are: Lee Roy Petersen, John Roberts, Donna Roberts, Rosina Christensen, Karl Micklitz, Catherine (Cat) Radziejewski, Gwen Petersen, Arlyn Visentin, Joyce & Willie Bohuslav. Not pictured: Tom Visentin
We formed the Texas Heritage Music & Dance Club in late June, 2010. Our purpose is to help ensure that couples dancing and their music continue for future generations to enjoy as we do. We need YOUR help! As you know, so many who dance the heritage dances and enjoy the music that goes with that dancing, are getting up in years and are not able to dance as often as they used to, if at all. We need to help the younger folks embrace these dances and music that were brought to Texas by our forefathers. We are talking about polka dancing (Czech, German, Polish, Slavic), country-western, Cajun, western swing, big band, Latin, etc. What a great heritage they are! What a shame it would be to have it die out! Those dances need dancers, bands and halls, and by joining our club and by actually going to dances you can help them continue for future generations! You know how much fun it is, and it certainly is good for your health, both physically and mentally. SO, join our club and help us be sure we leave that heritage alive and well, not on life support! For a mere $12 per person per year you can help, and we’ll do our best to keep you informed through our web site. From time to time we’ll “spotlight” a dance where we encourage club members to join other club members. We also teach dancing to anyone who wants to learn. And, of course, we sponsor our own dances. So far we’ve sponsored two dances. If we get enough members we’d like to be able to sponsor two dances a year. For a membership form, click on “Membership” under the header picture of this web site, then on “Join”, and you’ll be able to print out a form to send in to us with your dues. For more information, you can call us at 936-894-2804. Together we can help ensure that the kind of dancing and music that we love will not only survive, but flourish!
This is a new style of polka dancing that should bring new life to polka dancing. It is a style of polka dancing that will be enjoyed by the young kids and couples in the future. It is a combination of steps in the “one-step”, “two-step” and “four-step” polka dance pattern, but with a lot of Latin style hip and arm action. It can be done in a small space and on any type of floor.
You can do this dance by yourself, with a partner or with a small group. Singles can finally get out on the dance floor and enjoy life. It is unique, in that each person can bring their own creativity to the dance according to their feel of the beat of the polka music. If you will watch people standing in front of a group of bands doing a jam session, some will be doing this style of dancing in front of the band without realizing that they can enjoy this style of dancing regularly at the center, corners or ends of the dance floor away from the regular polka dancers.
Gwen and Lee Roy H. Petersen of Plantersville, Texas created this style of polka dancing on their Caribbean cruise in April, 2011, due the lack of adequate floor space like a regular dance hall. They performed this dance on ship cruises and at every polka dance since, with a lot of attention and pleasure of the audience.
Click on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SxWqN1_cchE to watch Lee Roy do this new dance at a polka dance in Taiton, Tx
Also, click on http://www.funuc.com/?p=402 to see “the horniest man on the earth” illustrating this style of a dance.
So, give it a try the next time you go to a polka or country dance.
The sound of Accordion music is wonderful. If you are interested in buying a good used, refurbished accordion, please click on the “Other” caption and sub-caption “Want2Sell” and check out the accordions offered.
This weekend was Wallis x 2 for us. We actually had planned to go to Houston’s SPJST #88 on Saturday to enjoy Barefoot Becky’s annual gig there. She does gigs at various halls in Texas when she and her band, the Ivanhoe Dutchmen, are on the way home to Iowa after their winter schedule in warmer climes. We decided to go to the Wallis American Legion hall instead, for the 3rd Saturday of the month dance sponsored by the Wallis Dance Club, where Benny Okruhlik’s Texas Sound Check Band was playing. Unfortunately, Benny is still having health problems, and we certainly wish him well with that. We thought it would be nice to support his band since that’s the band we’ve hired for our next club dance on Saturday, April 29, at the Sealy American Legion hall. Benny didn’t get to be there because of his health, but they had the very-talented Joe Zetka playing the accordion and occasionally doing vocals, so it was a very nice evening. When we arrived, it looked like it was going to be a huge crowd, judging from the vehicles that were there; however, it was only a so-so attendance. WE certainly had a good time dancing, and it seemed that everyone else did, too. It was so wonderful to see Casey and his family again, and Casey (who just celebrated his 12th birthday) was definitely enjoying dancing almost every song. He, for good reason, is a very confident dancer. It’s terrific when we see youngsters (especially NICE ones) who not only know how to dance, but enjoy doing it. There was another young man there, a few years younger than Casey. He’s learning, and I’m sure it won’t be long before he’s developed confidence in his dancing, too. And a young girl, about 7 or 8, was there again; Lee Roy had danced with her last month. I remember that her name is Brodee; as she told Lee Roy last month, her parents picked the name Brodee because she is adopted and they didn’t know if they were getting a girl or a boy, so they selected a non-gender-specific name. So, parents, thank you so much for exposing your children to the wonderful world of “our kind” of dancing!
Thanks to our friends, John & Donna Roberts, we spent the night in Sugar Land in one of their spare bedrooms, as we were going right back to Wallis on Sunday for the annual fundraiser dance of the Polka Lovers Klub of America, Texas Chapter 1. Wallis is much closer from Sugar Land than from Plantersville, and we certainly appreciate John & Donna’s hospitality. The Red Ravens were playing for that event; however, the attendance was a long shot from filling up the hall. I think they made a profit, so that is good. They had a “refreshment raffle”, which we didn’t participate in since we don’t drink that stuff, a 50-25-25 pot with two folks winning $108 each, and a silent auction. And we got to dance – and to socialize – which are always good!
This coming Saturday will be the annual Czech Heritage Festival in Corpus Christi at Sokol Hall on Kostoryz. We always try to make that, and we used to love it that Inez held their Czech Heritage Festival the next day. That was on the way home, so very convenient to do both events in a weekend. Unfortunately, a few years ago Inez stopped having theirs, as the folks who always had put it together and worked so hard to make it a success, gave it up. They were unable to get more folks to help, so they had no choice. That’s really sad, and will continue to happen if younger folks don’t participate. Take a hint and do all you can do to help keep our heritage dances, the bands, and the halls going. We all depend on each other so that we can all continue doing what we love – dancing to the heritage music. Plenty of other dances are going on during the weekend: Saturday it’s Cajun in Houston, Alex Meixner in Houston, country in Granger, variety by Lost Cause in Round Top, and on Sunday country at Geronimo’s VFW, Granger, Houston’s VFW 10352, San Antonio’s Martinez Social Club, Seaton’s Sefcik Hall (Roger Kirby has a great country band), and Sweet Home, plus polka & variety at Schulenburg’s KC hall with Central Texas Sounds. So, plenty to do. Don’t miss out! After that, March arrives on Wednesday. Already! As I’ve said before, time flies when you’re having fun!
We’ve done some dancing, but not all we had planned to do. We hope you got to dance. We heard that the Thursday dance at the El Campo American Legion hall was well-attended. That’s probably because it was Charles & the Fabulous 4 providing the music. People really like that band, and I must say their music last weekend at Sealy was very good. I think some of our members probably have enjoyed Canton’s 8th annual Western Swing Valentine Party, which was from Thursday through Saturday (with a little time between for sleep!). We got an invitation to dance on Friday at the Schulenburg KC Hall where Central Texas Sounds was playing for a full house. They did a good job and included a few polkas & Czech waltzes, always popular with us. We thank all the hosts for picking up the tab so lots of folks could have a fun time.
Saturday it seemed to take us an extra long time to get to the Rosenberg American Legion hall for the monthly club dance, Happy Cousins, which is always on the 2nd Saturday of the month. This dance club always welcomes the public, of course. It started out as a pretty light showing, but thanks to a Lutheran church in Sugar Land, the attendance really picked up. A group from that church decided to sponsor some dance lessons earlier in the evening (2 hours we hear, with one style each of polka, waltz and country), and after the lessons they came to the hall to put their lessons to work. Mostly, though, they spent their time visiting among themselves. Too bad, as they won’t benefit from dancing that way. The band at Rosenberg was the New Texas Plainsmen, whom we had heard very recently in Sealy. They started out with almost entirely country songs, but they eventually started playing more polkas and waltzes, along with some “wilder” things – but all in all it was good music, and the vocals, except for one song, were quite excellent. On that one song, the vocalist was in a different key than the instruments. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen again!
We heard that quite a few folks were planning to go to Sweet Home on Sunday (today) where the aforementioned Charles & the Fabulous 4 are playing. They may actually have more dancers than they have room for, as this is a very small hall. It also has a tile floor, but since it doesn’t seem too humid today that shouldn’t be a problem. With tile, the humidity (and rain!!!) really make dancing difficult. You can’t slide your feet, so you end up WORKING at dancing instead of enjoying dancing. Lee Roy and I were planning to go to the annual Valentine dance at the Elgin SPJST, where the Dujka Brothers always play. We always make this dance, but here we are at home today and NOT dancing. It doesn’t seem to be a day when we can enjoy a Valentine dance, or probably any dance. Let’s hope things improve on that front! Besides, Lee Roy is still putting in a lot of time repainting the exterior of our rent house (next door). I’m sure he will be happy to get finished with that job, which almost has taken on a life of its own. Still looking for some good renters, which are hard to find.
Wishing you a happy Valentine Day! God bless. Don’t forget to dance this coming week. After Valentine Day, February will be half over. Time definitely flies (unless you’re having difficulties when time seems to creep along). Anyway, enjoy dancing all you can!
No, I’m not talking about betting on the Super Bowl. BTW, it turned out like I thought it would, but not like I wanted it to. Actually, the first half was much better than I expected, but you have to play the entire 60 minutes, and sometimes more than that. Oh, well. At least we won over the weekend. How? By dancing, of course! Anyone who danced was a winner – you know, it’s not only fun, but it’s good for you! Don’t believe me? Just ask your doctor.
I had hoped we would get to go to Eagle Lake to visit with friends and dance to the music of Lost Cause. That’s a fairly new band, but their music is good. Mostly country, but they do know how to play the Czech (and German) songs. Lee Roy has still been working hard on repainting the exterior of our rent house, and since he missed out on some time he had planned to use for that job, he had to catch up. Yes, he missed out by the appearance of a kidney stone and subsequent pain, follow up with the urologist, etc. – and then there were some days that were too cold to paint, too rainy, or too humid, etc. Well, although he would have preferred not to have the pain that resulted from the kidney stone, and more pain that was the result of the procedure, maybe it was planned by God so he would not work himself to death! Anyway, we didn’t get to go to Eagle Lake because he had worked really hard that day, plus lit the fire pile and had to stay home to be sure it didn’t burn anything he had not planned to burn. We heard from quite a few folks that it was a very well-attended dance, and that’s always good to hear. We can’t afford to ignore dances. We need to support the bands and the halls so they don’t stop having dances that we definitely want to continue for a very long time. Be sure to do your part!
Saturday night we did get to the Sealy American Legion hall for the club dance there, always on the first Saturday of the month. It was a good crowd, and one family had brought their two young sons. It was such a delight to see the boys dancing (and doing it well – thanks, parents!). They were quite confident in their dancing and were on the dance floor with various partners quite a bit. Keep up the good job, parents! People kept coming in, even fairly late into the dance. It surely was good to see such a nice crowd! If you’re not a member, remember that the best deal is to join the club. The music was by Charles & the Fabulous 4, a country band that has learned to play more polkas & waltzes, and we certainly thank them. They have actually gotten to be a band that we enjoy, and I made sure to tell that to Charles. We do appreciate that they try to appeal to the dancers that prefer polkas and waltzes as well as to the dancers who like mostly country music. We may have to see if we can hire that band for a dance in our next fiscal year. They really did do a wonderful job!
Some interesting dances are coming up this weekend, including the annual Music Fest in Ennis at the Sokol Hall. It’s a one-day festival, 12 hours long, I believe. Each band plays for two hours, and all the bands are from Ennis. If you have never been to this festival, I can guarantee it’s a good one. Most of the musicians you’ll hear grew up in Ennis, a true Czech community that carries on the Czech traditions brought here from Europe when immigrants seeking a better life came to the United States. They embraced their new country, but did not lose the Czech heritage. That’s the way it should be. Immigrants who come to the United States should embrace what we have to offer, bring traditions that can add something positive, and contribute in a positive way to our economy and well-being. Immigrants of yesteryear did just that, and it’s part of why our country grew into such a great place, with opportunities for all who wanted something better than what they left behind. None of those immigrants wanted to make this country be like where they came from; they recognized the positive things this country has to offer and were willing to help it become ever greater for all. Well, that’s probably enough of my soap box. Anyway, not only is Ennis having their Czech Music Fest on Saturday, there are plenty of other places to dance on Saturday, such as at the Rosenberg American Legion, the Western Club in Navasota offering country music by Rocky King, a Cajun dance at the Hermann Sons in San Antonio, a Valentine Dinner & Concert at TCHCC in La Grange with John Dujka playing semi-classical as well as Czech favorites, another Cajun option at SPJST #88 in Houston, a western swing Valentine’s party at the Canton Civic Center, and much more. In other words, you can certainly find any kind of music you want to dance to!
Sunday has lots to offer, too, including several Valentine dances. The Brazos Valley Czech Heritage Society will have the Praha Brothers; Elgin’s SPJST #18 always has the Dujka Brothers for this dance; country music can be found at Houston’s VFW 10352 on the north side, with Detour playing;the always popular Barefoot Becky will play at Eagles Hall in New Braunfels, sponsored by the Goodtime Polka & Waltz Club (public welcome, of course!); the aforementioned Charles & the Fabulous 4 at Sweet Home’s community center; San Antonio’s Martinez Social Club will feature Jim Byrom (country). More dances can also be found. Check the dance schedule on this site. Just click on THMDC.org to find all the options we know about (or just stay on this site, go to the home page and click on “Dancing”, then “Schedules”). Then choose at least one (maybe you could get in two dances?), and GO! Take along a friend or two. Why not? More fun that way. See you soon.
We haven’t seen such a large crowd at any hall for quite awhile, but almost everyone was there – even us!!! Three really good bands were playing at the Taiton Community Center on Sunday, and good food was available for purchase, too. No excuse not to be there – but if you had the flu, thanks for not spreading your germs to everyone else! And get well so you can get back to dancing! The crowds came very early, and the hall even had to put up extra tables. The Red Ravens were up first, followed by Fritz Hodde & the Fabulous Six, with the Leo Majek Orchestra from Corpus Christi winding it up. After a jam of all three bands, the bands repeated, with the final strains of polka (and waltz, country and more) closing out the festivities at 7 PM. Even the still-ailing Lee Roy danced quite a bit, and I must say we really needed that dance and seeing lots of our friends was a nice respite from only having each other to hash over the less-than-wonderful prior three days! To some degree, it helped put those days in the background. Dancing helps in lots of ways. This is an old but very good hall with a good floor for dancing. Lee Roy danced there many times as a much younger man. We know one couple who thinks it is too “out of the way”, but judging from the crowd, lots and lots of folks don’t think it is! We saw one couple from Texas City, two or more from Austin, a dancer from near Taylor, several from down on the coast, etc., even two second cousins of Lee Roy’s and their wives. If you weren’t there, you really missed a wonderful dance. You know, Wednesday will be February 1. That’s one month of 2017 gone. Don’t let too many weekends go by without dancing to your favorite bands, or at your fave hall, or socializing with your friends! Get all the dancing in that you possibly can. You’ll enjoy it and you’ll also be physically (and mentally) better off for dancing! Even your doctor will corroborate that. See you soon.
We have been planning to go to the polka festival at the Taiton Community Center on Sunday, January 29, but we’ve been spending time in hospitals this week. Much too much time. Maybe we still can go, but it will depend on whether or not Lee Roy is feeling well enough to go. If not, you’ll know he really is feeling bad. We already spent one day (Tuesday) at a hospital when I had my nearly 3-year-old heart monitor removed. It should have taken just a few minutes, but my doctor had a patient ahead of me, and that took much longer than anticipated, so my 11:30 procedure didn’t get to happen until 1:15. Then the procedure took longer than expected because I had a lot of scar tissue, which made it harder to excise than the 5 or 10 minutes the doctor and I were expecting it to take. Then I had to stay an additional half-hour so the medical professionals could be sure I was okay to go home. A no-brainer since I only had local anesthetic. Most of the day was gone by the time we got home. Of course, there was a little trip to Lowe’s, which didn’t take too long. Nevertheless, we were glad to get home when we finally did.
Fortunately, on Wednesday, I was able to do our much-needed shopping because Lee Roy informed me Thursday about 12:30 PM that he was having some severe pain – and had thrown up three times in the morning. Because he never complains about feeling bad, I knew he was REALLY feeling bad and had REALLY bad pain. By the time the whole situation was told to me, it was nearly 1 o’clock, but I managed to get a 1:45 appointment at our doctors’ office (not with his doctor, who was out). Well, about 3 or 4 blocks away from the doctors’ office, Lee Roy told me his pain had increased to the almost unbearable point and he thought I should take him to the emergency room, which was between our location and the doctor, so I did. Now I knew he was really, really, really feeling bad, this man who never complains about how he feels. A CT scan while he was an ER patient showed that Lee Roy had a kidney stone stuck en route between his right kidney and his bladder, both of which were infected and enlarged because of holding urine that had overstayed its intended “temporary home” and had become “stale”, affecting both organs. The excruciating pain from the kidney stone trying to move on down on its journey toward the usual exit caused his normally good blood pressure to peak at 215/95. Yes, definitely stroke or heart attack territory. Yikes!!! All of this happened in the emergency room, so I was able to see a constant feed of information. Morphine in the IV helped in fairly short order, but even though they put him on a very tight schedule for more morphine, (every 3 hours another 4 cc), invariably he didn’t get it soon enough, causing more spiking of his blood pressure and reduction in heart rhythm and respiration, none of which are good things to have. I was concerned about these things while Lee Roy was mostly concerned about getting rid of the pain (of course!!!). It took until 7 PM to get him into a room, so they found a sandwich he could have and I decided it was time for me to go home. My last meal had been a light breakfast so I also was more than ready to eat, too. Friday morning I was off again to Tomball Regional Hospital, and when I arrived I learned that he still had not seen or heard from a urologist, and the “impatient patient” made sure that everyone knew he was not a happy camper. Thank goodness for a nurse that truly was an angel! A doctor finally came in, very briefly, about 1 PM, and told us that he would break up the kidney stone with a laser, then vacuum up the “trash” and also try to snag two more kidney stones that were lurking in his right kidney (they could not hide from the CT scan he had while a patient in the ER the prior day). Soon he was whisked down to a “pre-op” area where several nurses and an anesthesiologist asked him lots of questions (all the same questions from each one), and then we waited…..and waited…..and waited some more. Close to 5 PM (and after more morphine) we were finally taken to the operating room, me in a nearby waiting room, and him on the operating table. Guess what. Still no food (and he hadn’t been allowed to eat or drink anything since midnight Friday morning – yes, 17 hours), but the doctor did succeed in blasting the kidney stone that had caused all of the pain and problems. He said the two stones remaining in the kidney were so small that they would not cause Lee Roy any problem. I surely hope they don’t!!! Now the impatient patient thinks the doctor didn’t give him enough antibiotic (none in the form of a prescription) or pain medicine (namely, none), so he is having to deal with exceedingly painful urination, plus bleeding, and is still an impatient patient! SO, now you know that if you don’t see us at Taiton there is a very good reason. You know that Lee Roy never skips a dance unless there is a VERY good reason. Meantime, Lee Roy could use some prayers to be relieved of the pain very soon, and I could use some prayers because the person I live with is, well, the VERY impatient patient! If we don’t get to dance tomorrow, please be sure to dance at least one for us!
This past week was a short one, dancewise. We went to Conroe on Thursday to dance at the Carriage Inn retirement home where Mike Gest and Night Session played for the residents and any dancers who wanted to participate. It was our first time there, and only a 2-hour dance. The inn is very hospitable to guests and includes dinner with the dance, all for zero cost to the dancers! Nice of them, huh? We saw several dancing friends there, and all of us as well as the residents enjoyed the music. It was a small dance area, but big enough for the number of dancers. The music was a good variety including polkas,s waltzes, foxtrots, even Cajun a time or two. The three musicians playing this day are members of THMDC, Mike Gest, Bob Suttie and Jimmy Heinsohn. It was good to see each of them. The residents we talked to, as well as some of the food service employees and other guests, all were very welcoming. Interestingly, we sat at a table for four, and after we sat down, another lady joined us. Her name was Donna Mae. Before too long, another resident joined us, and her name was Lucille. Many of you know that we sit at the same table most of the time with ladies names Donna and Lucille, so that was kind of funny. It was an early dance, from 4-6, so after a short trip to Home Depot we had almost a full evening remaining after we got home.
Saturday night we danced at the Wallis American Legion hall with the Wallis Dance Club, which always welcomes members of the public as well as dance club members. The band playing was This Is It. The music started off pretty well, but fairly late in the dance the music became very slow music, almost as if they expected that the couples would have romantic music too keep in their hearts when they got home. Well, of course, the dancers who were left at that time were mostly married couples, and those who were single were not there for any purpose other than dancing. So, a pretty good dance turned into one where lots of us were wishing they would revert to the original styles of music they played early. We hope the next time we hear them, they won’t do the same thing.
We had planned to go to the dance at Penelope (at the hall of the Catholic church), and we could have enjoyed the music of the Jodie Mikula Orchestra. We don’t get to hear them enough. We first went to a dance at this hall last July, and it was a good event with Czech & Then Some playing. They had a very decent turnout, with good music, a delicious dinner and a fun door prize drawing. BUT, we both decided we had too much that we needed to get done at home, so we stayed home to get some work done, followed by partially taking in the two football games which determined which two teams would play in the Super Bowl. It turned out to be Atlanta and New England. It seems that the best two teams (of those in the final four) won the right to play in the Super Bowl. Too bad neither Texas team will participate. Well, as they say, there’s always next year. I wouldn’t normally have a preference as to which team wins, but because of last year’s shenanigans with the Patriots using underinflated balls I’ll probably hope Atlanta will win. Que sera, sera. Hey, don’t forget that there will be a good dance Sunday at New Taiton. You don’t get to hear three bands that often, and these three are always good, the Red Ravens, the Leo Majek Orchestra, and Fritz Hodde & the Fabulous Six. Hope to see you there. Dancing starts at 1 PM.
Hugs & kisses……XOXOXOXO.
Time flies, doesn’t it? It’s hard to believe that the first month of the year is more than half finished – but it’s true! That should be a reminder to take advantage of every opportunity you have to dance! On Saturday, the 14th, we were again at the Rosenberg American Legion, this time to dance with the Happy Cousins Dance Club, which holds dances every second Saturday of the month (except December). It was a very light dancing crowd even though the weather was nice. Yes, it was nice. Even though we had freezes the prior weekend on Saturday morning (21.1 degrees) and on Sunday morning (19.4 degrees) – definitely layering and wrapping up weather – it was at least 83 degrees on Thursday afternoon following those freezing temps. Quite a swing! No wonder we’re hearing about folks who are sick! So, the weather was on the warm side on Saturday. I don’t think anyone was tired from mowing their lawn earlier in the day. After the freezes, no one has grass that needs mowing! It’s not even GROWING at this point! Anyway, even though it was a small crowd, we enjoyed good music by Texas Sound Check, with Joe Zetka Jr. filling in on accordion for the band leader, Benny Okruhlik. Send up a prayer (or several) for Benny, who has had some recent health problems that he’s trying to get to the bottom of. Joe Zetka also added harmonica to the band’s offering. That’s always a nice dimension.
Sunday was the day for a huge 3-band polka dance at Shelby’s Harmonie Hall. That’s always an outstanding dance, with music by the Red Ravens, Fritz Hodde & the Fabulous Six, and Central Texas Sounds. We were unable to go to that because in early November we had purchased tickets to the Mollie B & Squeezebox Band offering at Houston’s SPJST #88. It’s part of the annual cross-country tour that band takes during January while they are en route to Florida to be part of the Jimmy Sturr cruise which departs in late January. Mollie and Squeezebox are always excellent entertainers and musicians; we always enjoy them no matter where we see them…..and they are such nice people! The hall was not full, although there were plenty of people there. A plus for us is that many people came to simply hear and see them, so there was plenty of room on the dance floor. We saw so many long-time friends, people we see only occasionally here and there, and people that are newer friends. And, yes, they all were having a great time whether they danced or not. There were several other gigs in our area, at Round Top, Hallettsville and Granger, as well as in the Valley. So, if you didn’t see/hear them, it’s your own fault. Remember that next winter & get your tickets for whichever location you’d like. Meantime, be sure to make time in your life for dancing!
Yes, it’s been busy around here. Sorry I failed to update the web site for the first full weekend of the year. Here goes! We danced on January 6th (the first Friday of the month) at the Eagle Lake Community Center. It was a light attendance, but everyone seemed to have a good time. The music was by Charles & the Fabulous 4, which is always popular with most of the dancers. The music was good, as was the food that we helped ourselves to at intermission. This is a dance where dancers are encouraged to bring a food item to share with everyone at intermission. It’s always nice, and the amount of food seems to correlate with the number of dancers quite nicely. Most folks don’t just pig out, and yet everyone seems to have plenty to eat. They also encourage dancers to bring door prizes, which we forgot to do. As usual we didn’t win a door prize, so I didn’t feel too bad about forgetting to bring one! This is a small facility, but the floor dances well, and the attendees are always nice and friendly. We missed seeing lots of folks that we usually see when we go there, but everyone has their own reasons for showing up or not. This time of year, the dances are 7:30-10:30 PM. Maybe you can make it on February 3. The band will be Lost Cause, led by Tim Kulhanek. They’re fairly new on the circuit, but they play well and can play country or polka. Usually it’s a combination, heavier on the country. Tim plays with Central Texas Sounds, so he’s quite familiar with the polkas as well as other styles. Give it a try!
On Saturday the 7th we danced at the Sealy American Legion with the Sealy Dance Club. Another new band, the New Texas Plainsmen, played for this dance. They did a good job for the most part, but fairly close to the end of the dance they started playing some junk that most of the dancers could have done without. These dances are 7:30-11 PM. I personally kind of like those hours because it gets us in bed a little earlier. None of the dances is right in our back yard, so it takes us awhile to go to and from. This club, as you may know, reorganized last year, and the folks who are trying to make it work so we won’t lose a dance club, are really working hard so that we will have a dance to go to each month on the first Saturday. Let’s support their efforts. If you aren’t ready to become a member (the cheapest way to go), then please support them with your attendance whenever possible.
We spent Saturday night in a motel in Sealy, as we needed to attend the Polka Lovers Klub meeting, dinner, dance the next morning. With the polka Mass starting at 10:30 we definitely didn’t want to have to travel to and from home between activities at the very same location. We definitely would have gotten less sleep! Folks were asked to bring a dessert for the dinner which was free to the club’s members. I was surprised that only 3 pieces of my red velvet cake were gone when we left (before the dance) to go the the Rosenberg American Legion where the Red Ravens and Texas Sound Check were playing what was billed as “the first polka dance of the year”, even though this year it was not the first one. We wanted to dance at Rosenberg because we had not heard those two bands the previous evening. The band that we had heard on Saturday night is the same band that played for the Polka Lovers Klub on Sunday, so we decided to go elsewhere. We did hear from friends that the music on Sunday was mostly polkas and waltzes. That sounded good to us! It was a busy weekend, but enjoyable. Let’s all be grateful that we have quite a few dances in our area, which is not the case in many areas of Texas – or elsewhere. They need the support of the dancers, though. That means YOU and US and anyone else you can tell about these dances.
It has been a difficult year or two (or more?) for Russ & Barbie Loitz, the current king and queen of the Po.L.K. of A., Texas Chapter. One problem gets resolved, or as close to it as possible, and another one or two crop up. After the dance at Taiton on December 18, they were on the way home when they encountered a truck with no tail lights! Russ was able to avert colliding with it, but he had to brake hard, and the skidding took them into the passing lane. In trying to control the car, it switched lanes several times, and they only actually hit (or got hit by) one other car. Eventually (I’m sure it must have felt like an eternity), they ended up on their side in the grassy median (or maybe it was just beside the road and not a median). Barbie broke several ribs when her body crashed into the console. Russ had both legs pinned between the seat and the dash, but fortunately was able to push the seat back and pull his legs free. One couple witnessed the entire thing and called the law, then remained on the scene until they arrived, providing as much assistance as they could. Fortunately, Barbie’s cousin, A. J. Kubicek (and wife, Patsy) had passed the wreckage but did not recognize that it was the Loitzes, but Barb found her phone and called them and they returned to the scene so they could provide more help to them, including getting them home. Both Russ and Barbie went to the doctor afterward (not the same evening since they seemed to be reasonably okay), and they were at the Moulton New Year’s Eve dance. They didn’t dance much since Barb is still dealing with broken ribs – and more, I’m sure. Undoubtedly, God was there with them or they would have been much more seriously hurt, or worse. Send up a prayer for them that their full recovery will not be long in coming, and when you see them be sure to let them know you care and that they are in your thoughts and prayers. Thanks for being a good dancing friend to any whom we know through dancing. We love the dancing, we love the music, but it’s the people who really make it wonderful. We are blessed!
Our last dance of 2016 was, of course, on New Year’s Eve night at Moulton at the former KC Hall, now privately owned. The Red Ravens rented the hall and assisted dancers in lining up places to spend the night, or in our case, 3 nights. The music was good, the socializing was excellent, and the dance floor got to be good. At first, Kenneth had put WAY TOO MUCH dance wax on the floor, but most of it got mopped off, and after it got really smoothed out, the dance floor was very good. The only thing not so good about our weekend was that only 2 RV’s at the RV park adjacent to the hall got signals to provide them with TV. That would be Rudy & Lucille Antrich and Norbert & Carolyn Janik. The rest of us had neither TV accessibility nor cell phone service. Fortunately, I had anticipated that there might be at least a problem with cell phone service – who knew about the poor TV service (call it NONE)? I had brought along 4 DVD’s, one of them one of my two favorite movies of all time, “An Affair to Remember” with Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr, a tear-jerker love story. No matter how many times I might see that movie, I will always cry when I watch it. My other favorite, in case you’re wondering, is “Doctor Zhivago”. Ditto for it, with many other factors woven into the story, things that the main characters could do nothing about – sort of like some of the things we experience here in this country politically. We had planned to go to Moulton on Saturday, but with the weather forecast calling for rain on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, we decided to leave on Friday. Of course, we had to wait until I could get my hair done at the beauty shop so as not to scare anyone, so we didn’t arrive at the RV park until about 4:30-5:00 PM. We did get to go without driving in the rain, and although it rained some on Saturday and Sunday, it was actually very little. Mary Lou Lawson said she and Harold had to drive in very heavy rain going to the dance. We are glad they got there safely. We were quite surprised, however, to find ourselves enveloped in fog when the dance was over. At that time we were quite thankful that we only had to walk a few feet to our weekend home. We were very concerned for the safety of the other dancers who were having to make their way home very carefully and slowly. We did learn, however, that once north of Flatonia the fog was not part of the picture. That was a blessing for people driving north. We did have 2″ in our rain gauge at home when we got there Monday afternoon about 2 o’clock. After we unloaded the trailer, Lee Roy drove it back to its little shed behind the house and decided the ground was too soft to position it to back into the shed, so the SUV and the trailer are both still hitched together waiting for a better time.
We hope you had a good New Year’s Eve and that you and your family were all safe. Lots of dances are happening right at the beginning of the year, so go to the home page on this web site, click on “Dancing”, and on the drop-down menu click on “Schedules”. You’ll find quite a few dances listed there. If you want to dance, you have plenty of choices. And who doesn’t want to dance? Pick some that appeal to you the most. Maybe we’ll see you at some of them, or at all of them. Let’s have a happy, healthy, dancing 2017 – and do be safe!
I’ll make this simple, just a brief listing of the New Year’s Eve dances that I know about. You’ve probably pretty well decided where you’ll ring in the new year. Here goes:
Big Spring at the Stampede: Jody Nix & the Texas Cowboys – 9 PM-1 AM
Blanco at Twin Sisters: Bret Graham – 8 PM
Brady at Heart of Texas Events Center: Darrell & Mona McCall – 8 PM-12 AM
Corpus Christi at VFW 3837: DJ Allen Pollard – 8:30 PM-12:30 AM
Dacosta Hall: The Nightriders – 8 PM-12 AM
Dallas at Sokol Hall: Jodie Mikula Orchestra – 8:30 PM-1 AM
Elgin at SPJST #18: Jim Sims Trio – 8 PM-12 AM
Elm Mott at Geneva Hall: Roger Kirby & Texas Heartbeat – 7:30 PM-12:15 AM
Geronimo VFW: Glen Collins – 8 PM-12 AM
Granger at Cotton Club: Can’t Hardly Playboyz – 9 PM-1 AM
Houston at SPJST #88: Moonglow Orchestra – 8 PM-12:30 AM
Houston at Rudi Lechner’s: Christmas Show with Das Ist Lustig – 6 PM
Liberty Opry on the Square: New Year’s Eve Show – 6-9 PM
Moulton at KC Hall: Red Ravens – 9 PM-12:30 AM
Navasota at the Western Club: Jeff Woolsey – 8:30 PM-12:30 AM
New Braunfels at Friesenhaus Restaurant: Terry Cavanagh – 6-9 PM
Pearland aat King’s Biergarten: Enzian Buam – 7-8 PM
Quihi Dancehall: Cactus Country – 8:30 PM-12:30 AM
San Antonio at Leon Springs Dancehall: Billy Mata & Texas Tradition – 8:30 PM-12:30 AM
Schulenburg at Sengelmann Hall: Pettit Brothers – 9 PM
Seaton Star Hall: Jerry Haisler & the Melody 5 – 8 PM-12:25 AM
Sweet Home Community Center: Charles & the Fabulous 4 – 8:30 PM-12:30 AM
Tomball VFW: Wade Andrew Smith & Driftwood – 9 PM-1 AM
Wallis KC Hall: Al sulak’s Country Sounds – 8 PM
Well, it was our last two dances in 2016 until New Year’s Eve. Sorry I am so tardy about everything, including posting a dance schedule, but I really have been incredibly busy. You see, today, Tuesday, December 21, I had cataract surgery, which put at least 10 more appointments on my calendar. Besides the usual things (meeting the surgeon & getting all the tests again that I had in late September, having my pre-op visit (very lengthy, including lots of measurements of both eyes, plus instructions and suggestions, and obtaining blood tests and clearance for surgery, etc.), there were some unusual things. For starters, when I had my required EKG, it was abnormal. WHAT is that about???? Since I always feel excellent, I’m considering it an aberration. Don’t know if the cardiologist considers it that way, but until I know better that’s how I’m seeing it. So, that resulted in an unexpected (and lengthy) nuclear stress test, followed by an echo cardiogram the next day, then a visit with the cardiologist again. Since the tests were good, he cleared me. Today was the day. Surgery was VERY brief, and the doctor said it went well. At some point I’ll have the left eye done. Right now, I see (somewhat strangely) at a distance from my right eye. I think that will get better soon, but it probably doesn’t help that at this point I’m still using my glasses with the last prescription I had. Tomorrow, we have to go to The Woodlands for a 7 :45 AM follow-up appointment with the doctor. We’ll have to get up at 5:30 to be able to leave at 6:15. Normally we are totally unaware that there IS such a thing as 5:30 AM! Anyway, I may have to muddle along for awhile until I can either stop using the right lens of my glasses or get the left eye done. So, all these extra appointments are a big part of the reason I have allowed our dance schedule to get down to NO MORE DANCES listed for December. I hope to have time this week (Wednesday, Thursday, or Saturday) to correct that. Meantime, let’s talk about our past weekend.
We were invited to a western dance in Burton at the American Legion Hall. Yes, Burton is tiny, but we still had to ask a lady where we would find the hall. Quite a few people were there when we got there just about the time the doors opened – 5 PM. New friends had invited us. In fact, two couples who are new friends sent us an invitation. We had a good time, and the 8 host couples had provided some light snacks for their guests, some yummy cheese, various crackers, green and red grapes, summer sausages, dip and chips, peanuts, pretzels and other “trash”, and red and green M&M’s. It was a concrete floor, and the hall didn’t have any dance wax; instead, they put talcum powder on the floor. NOT good! It gums up, especially in humid weather, as it was. Fortunately, Lee Roy had 2 cans of dance wax in the car, and lots of dancers were happy for that! (BTW, at 5 PM in Burton, the temperature was 81 degrees; when we left at 10:10, it was 38 degrees – and continued falling at our house in Plantersville to 27.4 degrees the next morning. Brrrrr!!!) The band was so-so, but the hosts and guests were all very friendly. We had a good time. And, we were in for even colder temps as the thermometer registered 25 degrees at home the next morning (Monday)! It hasn’t been that cold for several years to my recollection. I would not do well living up north!
Sunday we went to the Taiton Community Center for their annual Christmas dance. Each year the Texas Legacy Czech Band plays for this, including plenty of Christmas songs, but certainly also including “regular” Czech polkas and waltzes and various country and Cajun songs – not “too” Cajun, though. The hall generously provides free chicken noodle soup made at the hall (crackers included), and this year they also provided a wonderful DINNER for everyone (also made at the hall). The dinner really looked good, but we had already promised Lee Roy’s sister and brother-in-law (who live in El Campo) that we would treat them to dinner at Los Cucos, so we did not eat the dinner at the hall. They had a wonderful-looking salad, sausage and sauerkraut, pork loins, and buttered potatoes. What a generous Christmas gift that is! I don’t know any other hall that does anything like that. My suggestion is that we all dance at that hall every time we can. They certainly deserve a nice “thank you”! The folks who came to the dance brought desserts to share with everyone else. I made a layered turtle cheesecake (yum!!!) and took it along (and we had two pieces left which we took to Lee Roy’s sister and brother-in-law), and I also made pecan pralines (yum again!!!) which disappeared in a hurry. (I saved a few for home – didn’t even put them in the “to-go” container.) All in all, I’d say it was a wonderful dance (and wonderful food), and all we really needed were MORE dancers! Did people stay home because of the cold? Hey, it wasn’t rainy or icy! Just cold. And the hall was nice and warm. You missed a good time if you weren’t there. Remember to dance at Taiton every time you can. They deserve our thanks. Meantime, have a wonderful holiday season; we wish for you and your family many blessings. Be sure to dance New Year’s Eve. There are lots of choices. I hope I can get at least the NYE dances on the schedule tomorrow after we see the doctor, and January dances before Christmas day. Lots of dances are coming up in January, and I’ve already found several where we are going to have to make choices. Well, it’s certainly better than sitting around waiting for another dance, isn’t it? God bless each of you!!!!
Some new friends invited us to a western dance on Friday in Navasota, at the Western Club. Interestingly, the band Crossroads was good, including the vocals. We had never heard of this band; of course, we are much more familiar with the various polka bands. We enjoyed not only the music, but the socializing with new friends and folks that we already call friends. It was closer to home than any polka dance has ever been, only 25 or 30 minutes. That’s a plus, for sure. The dance was billed as a Christmas dance, and many of the folks were dressed for the occasion. I felt dressed for the occasion (western) when I wore blue jeans and a long-sleeved top. The male half of the host couple who invited us is a former track & field coach. I mentioned that a friend of ours (actually the significant other of a lady whom we have known for quite a few years – via an accordion connection), is a retired long-time track & field coach at Rice University. I was really surprised to learn that he and our host are close friends. Small world, which get smaller almost with each passing day. We actually got home before 11 PM and into bed before our usual midnight bed time. That’s a first! We sat with club members Pat Jozwiak and Brian Wostal, and also saw other club members, Greg & Joan Griffin, there.
Saturday morning we got up early so we could be in La Grange at the fairgrounds for the annual memorial service of the Polka Lovers Club of Texas Museum, when deceased members of the organization and of the Po.L.K. of A. were honored, an annual event. After the memorial service, including a video of deceased members, we had a polka Mass. Though we are not Catholic, we love the polka Masses! We get our beloved polka music with a little bit of religion. Not a bad combination. After the Mass we all enjoyed a turkey meal and desserts brought by the people who came. I tried out a new recipe, a Layered Turtle Cheesecake, and it was really heavenly! I had cut it into 17 pieces because I figured it’s so rich, who can eat more than a small slice? Not even I! We did bring home 4 or 5 pieces, though. Yum! (Hey, if you plan to go to Taiton next Sunday for their annual Christmas dance with free chicken noodle soup, I plan to bake another cheesecake to take to that event, to put on the dessert table to share with others at intermission.) Texas Sound Check band played for the polka dance that followed the dinner. They have been sounding very good the last several time we’ve heard them. Lots of “punch” in their music. Lively, enticing plenty of folks to dance. It,, too had a Christmas “feel” to it. We left this dance shortly before 4 PM because our new friends from Clovis, NM, had emailed saying they planned to go to the Tomball German Christmas Market, a Friday evening through Sunday afternoon event. We had never been before, but wanted to see and enjoy our new friends and their 5 grandchildren whom they have taught to dance. Four of the grandchildren are siblings, and the fifth is a cousin to them. We had previously met 9-year-old Tristan and his 5-year-old brother, Cody, at Oktoberfest in Fredericksburg, and we had the pleasure of meeting their cousin, 9-year-old Lileigh (pronounced Lily), at Wurstfest. What a wonderful thing these grandparents are doing for their grandchildren. They all love dancing and have huge smiles on their faces when they are doing it. The drive from Clovis to the dancing event was 13 hours long. What a dedication these grandparents have to help these children learn part of their heritage! (Grandpa Frank is of Czech descent, and grandma Susie is Mexican. We were surprised to learn that she was born in New Gulf in Wharton County! Lee Roy also was born in Wharton County, and grew up there. There’s that small world again! The other two siblings were 12-year-old “Charlie” (a girl), and their little 3-year-old sister, Riley. Two weeks ago Riley told her grandma that she wanted to dance, so Susie has been teaching her. What a great learner she is, mimicking literally everything her grandmother does on the dance floor! She has a real feel for the music, too! These children are so very courteous – and they all truly love dancing. Many times we saw the two 9-year-old cousins dancing together, and doing it quite well. Other times, Tristan would ask someone, even mature women, to dance. No fear there. He’s a confident dancer. Charlie dances, but also is learning how to barrel race and was wearing a denim jacket declaring her to be in the “fianl 10″. Next time you think a dance is “too far” remember this family who drove 13 hours to go to this festival to enjoy dancing! And trips to Fredericksburg and New Braunfels were nearly a 600-mile drive, pulling their fifth wheel RV. New friends are good, and especially when they are so dedicated to helping their granddarlings embrace and enjoy their Czech heritage. We got home about 11 PM and got into bed shortly after that, as Sunday would be another “early rising” day, to get to another Christmas event.
Sunday’s dance was a private dance where the host couples invited people. This dance always has Al Sulak’s Country Sounds band to play. That’s always a plus! Christmas was in the air, as the first several songs were traditional Christmas songs. The weather had warmed considerably since the night before when we were so happy to be wearing jackets (and for Lee Roy, a Santa hat). The host couples provide homemade sandwiches and cookies, and potato chips & pickles and coffee. It’s always very well attended. No disappointment here! It was terrific to see so many folks enjoying everything about this event – and what could be better than enjoying the company of friends, who increase in numbers at nearly every dance! Our friends are the best thing about our dancing – and that statement is coming from an avid dancer! Yes, we love the dancing and its music, but the friends we’ve made are the best thing about dancing!!!! By the way, our close friend, Rudy Antrich, is still in the hospital with a very painful and infected foot, which problem started when a 2 x 4 (or 4 x 4?) accidentally fell on his foot. I guess it broke the skin, and with that beautiful “boot” on it, it probably was not getting adequately cleaned and medicated. He’s been in the Memorial-Hermann Hospital in Sugar Land since last Thursday, receiving IV antibiotics. Unfortunately, the antibiotics are not doing much, if any, good, so they’ve doubled the strength of it, and we are hoping and praying that he will soon be infection-free and pain-free and back on the dance floor in good health. I’m sure Lucille and Rudy would welcome any prayers that are offered on their behalf. Do remember them in your prayers, please. God bless!
Our dancing Friday was at Shelby’s Harmonie Hall, where the annual Teddy Bear Ball took place. About 16 couples sponsor this, and each invitee is asked to bring a teddy bear which will be donated to sheriff’s and fire departments to be distributed to children who have experienced a tragedy and are in need of comfort. It’s a nice thing to do, and thanks to the generosity of the hosts, we are able to participate in doing a good thing and have the benefit of a dance to enjoy. Over the last few years we have been invited to this fun event by several different couples, and we thank each and every one of them. The music was quite lively, provided by Charles & the Fabulous 4. We’ve gotten to like this band more and more. It’s hard to sit down when the music is playing. We also were asked to bring something to snack on, and the food was set out in the kitchen area. There was a nice variety to choose from when intermission came and we all went and chose what we wanted. It’s hard not to overdo, as the food was very enticing.
We had been invited to a wedding (friends Walt Harfmann & Glynis Whitmore) north of Georgetown, so on Saturday morning we left at 9:30 to have time to check into the motel at Taylor and proceed to the church. Both the bride and the groom had been widowed previously (and we grieved with Walt over Eileen’s very unexpected death nearly 3 years ago). After the wedding everyone at the wedding enjoyed a delicious lunch buffet at the Walburg German Restaurant. Having been sated with the wide variety of the buffet, we then proceeded to Moravian Hall at Corn Hill. It’s an old hall, but new to us, with a nice wood floor in very good shape. The dance floor is upstairs, but entering the hall from the rear, one would think it’s the ground floor. Walt & Glynis had advertised that the dance was open to the public at no charge. Plenty of tables and chairs were set up in the beautifully decorated hall, but the weather most likely kept many people home. Still, there were plenty of folks there to help the newlyweds celebrate. Not everyone danced, so there were “just about the right number” of folks on the dance floor at any given time. The wedding cake was beautiful, and it was snapped up in a hurry. I couldn’t believe the entire cake was gone when we went to get some! Lee Roy got the “crumbs”, but I had to wait for the next cake to be taken out and cut. I understand there was even an additional sheet cake. All cakes were part vanilla and part deep chocolate. I was bad and had both a white piece and a chocolate piece. Shame on me! I hope my scale does not show that some pounds found me again! The music was terrific, with the Dujka Brothers and Mark Halata & Texavia playing. John Dujka said that was his first time to play at Corn Hill. That was surprising to us. We had another treat later in the evening when Walt, Glynis, Patsy Polasek, and Walt’s son from Florida, Kurt, played button accordions for us. It was very special. Walt is a very accomplished accordionist, and he has taught all three of the others how to play. Glynis and Patsy are both Czech, and they each have a connection to Czech music. Glynis’ grandfather played the button accordion, and Patsy’s father played guitar and did vocals with Fritz Hodde’s band for 30 years. She and her 5 siblings went to all of the dances when her dad played, so she doesn’t even have to read music, as she has the songs memorized. Glynis is learning to play by ear also. It goes without saying that Kurt has had quite a bit of exposure to accordions. We wish the very best, and a long happy marriage, to Walt & Glynis.
Sunday morning we had breakfast at McDonald’s in Taylor (we love McDonald’s breakfast!), and headed out toward Shelby again. This time we took the route from Elgin to Bastrop, and on to La Grange, then to Round Top, arriving at Shelby at 1 PM. Since we didn’t know when it might rain again, we entered the hall half an hour before the doors were to open. It was nice to have some time to visit with folks we see but don’t often have time to really converse. Our hosts for this dance were Willie & Josie Milberger from Bryan. They are such nice folks! Unfortunately, Willie doesn’t dance much because his knees hurt a lot subsequent to knee surgery on each. Josie is Italian, but loves to dance, especially polka. They are always such wonderful hosts. We thank each couple who helped host this dance, which is an annual Christmas dance with the Texas Legacy Czech Band playing. We heard lots of Christmas carols; nothing better to put you in a Christmas mood! This time, the band had a fill-in on accordion, a new Texan who wanted to leave Nebraska’s cold weather behind. His name is Mark Karasek, a 3rd generation Czech. Like Lee Roy, he speaks very little Czech. Mark is quite accomplished on the piano accordion and does the bellows shake a lot, and quite often embellishes the songs with extra runs of notes. We were quite favorably impressed with this gentleman. I found out that he works for TD Ameritrade, which we are very familiar with, so it almost seemed like “old home week”. We had a wonderful time, but we were quite surprised when Rudy & Lucille Antrich arrived to see that Rudy was wearing one of those lovely boots the doctors put people in when they have injured a foot. (Rudy dropped a 2 x 4 on his foot, and although the doctor said he had no broken bones, Rudy said it hurts a LOT.) Then we were surprised once more when JoAn Slafka arrived wearing a very similar boot because of foot surgery. We should have taken a picture of the matching boots. But, sometimes we don’t think of doing things until the opportunity has passed. Who knows? Maybe we’ll still get to do that next weekend. You never know! BTW, when you see her, wish Lucille a happy birthday. The actual date is December 10. Hoping we get to see you soon. Whatever you do, be sure to get your share of dancing in before Christmas arrives!
We hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Ours was, as usual, family, turkey, ham, yummy sides, and delish desserts. On Saturday after Thanksgiving, we helped Rudy & Lucille Antrich celebrate 50 years of marriage. That’s the 5th 50th we’ve helped folks celebrate this year – and we had to decline another since we were at Wurstfest. Maybe it’s our age that brings us friends who are celebrating 50 years. I must say, it’s quite a good thing to be able to celebrate that, as not all people have been able to get there – for various reasons. Maybe one day we will even make it that far. It was a lovely celebration – beautiful decorations on the tables, a huge screen for watching a brief video of their pre- and post-marriage lives, good music by the Red Ravens, delicious food to snack on, and at 5:30 we helped ourselves to a delicious barbecue meal. There was a beautiful multi-tiered white wedding cake with a delicious lemony filling between layers; surrounding the big cake were three square layer cakes. One was red velvet, one was poppyseed (and I got there just in time to scrape up the poppyseed scraps to take to Lee Roy), and they did not cut the third cake. Maybe they took it home for the family to enjoy together. I’m sure it was as delicious as the others were. I only tasted the multi-tiered white cake, and it was delicious, so I feel certain they all were. The meal included three meats (more than I need, for sure!) – barbecue brisket, chicken, and sausage, all from Mikeska’s in El Campo. I didn’t hear any complaints about the meal, either!
Good friends John & Donna Roberts were kind enough to open their home to us (again) to spend the night so we would be closer to Taiton where Sunday’s annual KULP polka fest was to happen. We arrived early so we could get seats right by the dance floor. We like to do that because we usually dance a lot, but it was a day with some tension between us (you would think we would have gotten past that in 38 years!) and sadly we did less dancing than usual. I strongly prefer to dance lots more than we did this day. Lee Roy wouldn’t even go dance with other women, which he usually does. Needless to say, we could have had a better time, but we are the ones responsible for that. The music was good, and there were plenty of folks to socialize with, and there was a menu of a variety of food they were selling. Some very nice door prizes were given away, but we were not the winners of anything. Don Orsak from Edna and Theresa Jones from Danbury both won two raffle prizes! It was SO GOOD to see Theresa on the dance floor again! Now that she’s retiring we’re likely to see her more. She’s a nice person and a good dancer, very popular with the fellows. We hope you had a good holiday weekend and that you got to do plenty of dancing. God bless! (Remember, it’s less than a month until Christmas! Make the most of your time!) I don’t know when or how I am going to find the time to do all I need to do, which includes cataract surgery just before Christmas – but I guess it will work out. It’s a very special time of year, and I wish for each of you that it will be exceptional.
A friend told me Saturday night at the Wallis dance that a mutual friend had died. I was so shocked, as she was. I still am having a hard time believing it. I’m sharing this news in case you know this lady. It’s Nina Little from Brenham. Nina had knee replacement last spring (May, I believe), and for several months we had noticed her absence at dances. She was hardly ever absent from a dance at Shelby’s Harmonie Hall. She lived fairly close, and because she was a very nice lady, and a good dancer, she got invitations from dance hosts all the time. The men enjoyed dancing with her. She was pleasant to visit with. She was the picture of health, with glowing skin, hair that was always “just right”, and a smile on her face all the time. When we saw her in late August or early September she told us about the knee surgery, and she was still not where she needed to be with it, not healing as quickly as she would have liked. She was eager to get back on the dance floor. We saw her again at the Bluebonnet Opry in October (when they have one of their two polka programs a year, the other one in May), and I saw that she had lost some weight, perhaps 20 pounds. She looked really good, and I complimented her on that. She shared with me that she had recently had pneumonia and e-coli, and those apparently were responsible for the weight loss. She did not indicate that any health problems were ongoing except that the knee still was not as good as she wanted for the time frame it had been. I was absolutely stunned to learn of her death; she would have been the last person I would have guessed had died. So, if you knew her in any way, I know you would want to know about her death. I was told that her body is at the funeral home in Brenham, but before making arrangements they are still trying to diagnosis the cause of death. Please offer up some prayers of consolation for her family and others who were close to her, if you would care to do that. And consider again how each one of us on earth is here at the grace of God, and will depart this earth when He is ready to call us home. Make the most of your time, and try to be a positive influence; we never know when our time will come, and I consider it a blessing that God has chosen not to let us know when or how that will be.
We were so happy to be among the invited guests at the 50th anniversary celebration of dancing friends Pat and Louis Vrazel of Danbury (in the Angleton area). Such a wonderful couple, and they did a bang-up job of planning their celebration. We loved that they had purchased tiny gold-toned bells for each guest to ring when they rang a bell as another way to express the special achievement they had reached in their marriage. That’s something we had not done at other 50th anniversary celebrations, unique and meaningful. They also had a display of 3 doors; one was his family’s front door, one was her family’s front door, and the one between those two doors was their own front door. I’m sure those three doors brought back many memories for them. They had hired Fritz Hodde & the Fabulous Six to play for this occasion. We always enjoy hearing and dancing to their music, and in addition the band members are really such nice men. The video Pat and Louis had put together including Mollie B singing “Waltz of the Angels” was wonderful! We saw so many friends there, many of whom we see quite often at dances, and others that we don’t get to see so often. The snacks were delicious (including a very beautiful multi-tiered wedding cake adorned with groups of red roses), and the dinner with chicken fried chicken breast was yummy. When you see Pat and Louis, be sure to wish them many more years of wedded bliss.
We left just after 7 PM to go to the club dance at the Wallis American Legion, where Odessa was playing. They played quite a bit of country, more than we usually hear. We did enjoy their version of “Buck’s Polka”, which not many bands play. It’s a fast polka written for (perhaps by) Buck Owens of Grand Ole Opry fame. It’s always good to hear it, one of our favorites, and so much a favorite that Lee Roy has it as his ring tone. This date was when they had a holiday dinner for their members, at 6 PM ahead of the dance. Lucille Antrich had requested last month that they put away 6 dinners to go for the Antriches, the Robertses, and us. They were kind enough to do that, and we plan to munch out on them this evening. I had planned to have that yesterday for dinner, but when we did our Thanksgiving dinner shopping yesterday at HEB in Tomball, Lee Roy had purchased some pork tamales (definitely not MY favorite thing!), and he was eager to enjoy some of them. We had gotten a “deal” on them, a typical HEB offer of “buy this and get that, that, that and more”. Since I had not gotten to eat anything after breakfast until we got home with our groceries, I was hungry at that time and ate some tortilla chips and guacamole, so I was not hungry at dinner time and never got hungry before we got in bed at midnight. Not a bad deal since I’ve been trying (successfully) to lose some weight. I’ll brag a little and tell you that as of this morning, I’ve lost 20 pounds since May 5. Five more are on my radar, and I hope none of those lost pounds finds me again! They can be awfully sneaky. After eating TONS of sweets and a giant dinner at the anniversary, I was afraid some pounds may have found me again, so it was a pleasant surprise to find this morning that one more pound had departed.
Well, I really MUST close this missive! I have only today and two more before we get company for Thanksgiving. Not only do I have to get my house in order, and clean (something it hasn’t been for much too long!), but I have to bake some cornbread for dressing, then fix the dressing (which takes quite awhile because of chopping up the onion and celery, plus the stuffing it into the bird), and have to make a pecan pie (which will be totally gone before Friday arrives), make a sweet potato casserole, prepare sweet potatoes to bake, fix some Irish potatoes, make a buttermilk salad (which I can do ahead, thank goodness), set out the plates and tableware, etc. On top of that, Lee Roy needs my help with some badly needed work on our rent house next door. I think we should postpone Thanksgiving a week…..but who ever pays attention to my suggestions? Personally, I think it’s a good one, except that the relatives will be working the next Thursday. I guess we’d better stay with the original date for celebrating Thanksgiving. Have a great one yourself, and stay safe! We want to see you at some dances coming up shortly.
It seems like FOREVER since we’ve been in our “regular area” dancing with our friends we see most often. But, there’s a good reason: We’ve been at Wurstfest in New Braunfels enjoying that 10-day annual festival, the “salute to the sausage”. It happens every year in early November, and next year it will start on Friday, November 3, with dancing and other entertainment (and food, drinks, vendors) every day until it ends on Sunday, November 12. Put it on your calendar so you don’t forget to plan your schedule to include at least some of this fun festival. They changed things up a bit this year. Usually on Day 1 the Comal Community Band will be playing as festival-goers enter the grounds, and that music is followed by the opening ceremonies which include the “biting of the sausage”, introduction of some of the most important “Opas”, who are instrumental in making this festival run smoothly, and very importantly, the tapping of the keg of beer. This year the keg was a special Wurstfest varietal produced by Shiner Beer. Instead of the community band playing first, the Jodie Mikula Orchestra from Ennis was playing when the gates opened at 4 PM. At 5 o’clock, the music halted for the opening ceremonies, and an hour later the music resumed for dancing. Those events happened in the Wursthalle, the original site of Wurstfest more than 50 years ago. There are other venues for music and entertainment, and each one had music and/or entertainment starting at 6 PM. A band from Florida, Spitze!, played in the big tent; Terry Cavanagh & the Alpine Express (a New Braunfels band) played in the little tent; the Stelzenhaus, which was built 4 or 5 years ago, started with the Ennis Czech Boys at 6 o’clock; and the Stelzenplatz immediately outside of the Stelzenhaus, had the band Alpenmusikanten at that time. Our favorite venue is the Stelzenhaus, as it is the only venue with a wood floor, and also the only air-conditioned venue. We left the Wursthalle after dancing a bit to the Mikulas’ music, and went to the Stelzenhaus for part of the Ennis Czech Boys’ performance, followed at 8:20 PM by the Dujka Brothers. You will probably recall that we had the Dujka Brothers play for our club dance on October 30. If you were there, you know how wonderful their music is. Of course, we enjoyed the music of all three bands we heard on opening night, the Mikulas, the ECB, and the Dujkas.
Saturday the gates opened at 11 AM (we are always at the back gate before it opens), and the festival closed that night at midnight. Yes, it’s a long day, but think of all the possibilities you have to enjoy music, entertainment, beer, German food, and PEOPLE! We love almost everything about Wurstfest. Of course, I don’t drink beer (or much of anything but water), but I don’t need beer to have fun. Give me polka music and dancing and I’m happy as can be! Of course when the crowds get to be a challenge due to sheer numbers of people standing around talking and drinking, it is not as much fun as at other times. Generally speaking, that happens on Saturdays, but Thursday and Friday nights also tend to bring huge numbers of folks out. One of the most wonderful things about Wurstfest is all of the people we meet, many of whom come back year after year expecting to meet up with us again, and sometimes they even bring friends to meet us! What a heartwarming thing that is! We have met so many people at Wurstfest that it’s almost incredible, and in many cases we have become good friends with them. As you probably can imagine, Wurstfest provides us with many opportunities to teach people how to dance, or how to improve their dancing. They are always so appreciative – and we love it when we can see that they are so happy to learn how to dance. Many of them catch on quite well. It’s really amazing. This year we (mostly Lee Roy, but me to a lesser extent) taught 77 people how to dance, including on the final evening a 10-year-old named Drew and his teen-age brother, Luke. Both of these very courteous young folks were SO HAPPY to learn and caught on very, very well. We hope they will find enough places during the course of this next year to put their newly-learned skills to practice. Theresa Parker had given us quite a few Polka On buttons to pass out to folks at Wurstfest. Mostly we gave them to younger folks who were trying to dance, so they would be encouraged to dance more. There were several notable young folks who were dancing very well. One was a handsome young man, perhaps 12 years old, whose name we didn’t get, who looked very much like a rancher-to-be in his western hat which sat “just so” on his head. He also carried on an adult-type conversation with me. Very impressive. His mother had taught him to dance. He and his brother both were out on the dance floor at the Stelzenhaus quite a bit, dancing very admirably. Another was a precious and beautiful 9-year-old girl, Lileigh (that’s pronounced Lily), who was there with her grandparents. They all live in Clovis, NM, and we had met her 9-year-old cousin, Tristan, at Oktoberfest in Fredericksburg a month earlier. The grandmother had told us at Oktoberfest that she and their grandfather had taught their grandchildren to dance. I must say they did a terrific job of that, as each of the children we met danced very, very well – AND they were so happy to be dancing! Lileigh ALWAYS had a huge smile on her face! When we met Tristan and his grandparents at Fredericksburg, I had told the grandmother, Susie, that they should come to Wurstfest and told her where and when it happened. It was SO NICE to see this family again, and to see how important it has been to them to be sure their grandchildren know how to dance. Susie told me that there are no dances at Clovis, so they drive the 580 miles (that’s one way, and pulling a 5th wheel RV) to give their grandchildren the lifelong benefits of dancing. Way to go, Susie and Frank! We also received a very generous invitation from them to come see them in Clovis and spend the night whenever we are in that area. She promised to make us a Mexican dinner (she’s of Mexican heritage). I said that would be great if it’s not true Mexican, but that I love Tex-Mex. She agreed that the kind of food she likes is Tex-Mex! See what I mean about making friends? Yes, it’s a wonderful part of going to Wurstfest!
We have now been to Wurstfest for 10 consecutive years, for all 10 days, which means we have now had 100 consecutive Wurstfest days, something that probably no one else has done, including the Opas, as they don’t go EVERY day. Three times John Kaderli, leader of the Seven Dutchmen Orchestra, announced that fact. He and his wife, Janet, who also plays in the band, are some of the very first Opas (and Oma) that we met at Wurstfest, and we are always happy to see them as well as other Opas that we have come to know over these past 10 years.
I haven’t covered much about the bands and entertainers we enjoyed. Of course, we never see/hear all of them, as we choose those we think are the ones we want to enjoy. But, here are the ones we heard: Rennie Guenther & the Happy Travelers, Texas Sound Check, 3rd Generation, Kerry Christensen (an amazing master yodeler from Utah), Mark Halata & Texavia (Mark is a member of THMDC, along with his wife Cathy), Seven Dutchmen Orchestra, the San Antonio Dutchmen, Texas Legacy Czech Band (whose leader, Bob Suttie and his entire family are members of THMDC, as well as band members Mike Gest and Jimmy Heinsohn), the Walburg Boys (not so much a dance band as a show band – and should be booked to play in the small tent instead of the Stelzenhaus), Gene Bartkiewicz and All Mixed Up (mostly country), the Royal Klobasneks, the Europa Band (Lee Roy has found a new “girlfriend” in Mariana – he has a problem remembering names, but no problem remembering her name! She is the vocalist and tambourine player for Europa), Squeezebox Band with Mollie B, the Shiner Hobo Band (new band member Patsy Polasek and her 5 children are members of THMDC). Jimmy Sturr & his orchestra (Jimmy is also a member of THMDC), and the final band we heard, and hear every year, the Joe Rogers Big Band. That’s a band comprised of former students of the band director at New Braunfels High School, Joe Rogers, and two former band students at Canyon High School. That band was formed just for Wurstfest to honor their former band leader. What a nice gesture! So that’s it. We hope you can enjoy at least part of Wurstfest in the future. Plan to see us there!
Now it’s time to focus on your dancing for this weekend. Yes, Thanksgiving will be here before we know it, but be sure to make time for dancing this weekend and next! Enjoy dancing, then enjoy the holiday feast, then dance after that so you can counteract those extra calories from the sweet potato casserole, the dressing, and the pecan pie – or whatever you indulge in at Thanksgiving! God bless!
We worked hard to have a good dance, and everything came together beautifully! Undoubtedly, having the Dujka Brothers play for us made a tremendous difference, as so many people love their music (and love John and Mark, too!). The Sealy American Legion hall was the site of our Oktoberfest dance, and we made a lot of “firsts”. It was the most people in attendance at any of our dances, the 50-50 pot was the largest we’ve ever had (we split $472, with half going to the club and half being won by a very happy Pearl Greener) , and we signed up a record number of new members, 31, making our total number of paid members 148. We know of at least two other members who are planning to get their dues to us (or have already done so) via USPS.
Our silent auction was successful, too, and we certainly thank each person who brought silent auction items as well as each person who purchased items from our silent auction. Theresa Parker, owner and publisher of the Texas Polka News came to promote the subscription drive she has launched with the Texas Polka News. It sounds like her time was well-spent; she got 5 new subscriptions and 19 of us renewed our subscriptions. For each of those new and renewal subscribers, our club will receive from Theresa $5, for a total so far of $120 for our club. The subscription drive goes until 2018, and the goal is to have 3000 subscribers by 2018. FYI, folks who subscribed or renewed at the dance got a 40% discount off the usual $25 per year, and had to pay only $15. What a deal! Thanks, Theresa, for all you do for the polka world. Lee Roy and I had very little time to even mosey through the silent auction areas, but we did manage to purchase 4 items. Several folks came in costume, which was an appropriate time to do that, the day before Halloween. Mary Agnes came as a “Dorothy” while her husband, Neal Dawson, came as a scarecrow (from the Wizard of Oz); Carol and Dennis Campbell came all decked out as clowns; Judy Foster wore a skeleton-embellished black top, and Lee Roy and I came dressed as German Oktoberfest-goers. Thanks to Mary Ann Sliva for clueing me in that Mary Agnes was Dorothy, and not just a “farmer’s daughter”, even wearing red shoes on her tootsies!
A number of folks dressed for Halloween. It was fun. The music was terrific, as we knew it would be, even though the two of us (and several other board members) didn’t get to do much dancing. We appreciate all of our board members who worked so hard to make the dance a success as well as each person who came to the dance! Thank you for your support of our club, which in turn helps to keep polka music and dancing (and their “cousin” dances – waltz and foxtrot) alive and well in Texas. I apologize that I did not get to greet each and every person, like Bill and Peggy from Elgin. We did get to greet Norman and Sharon from Austin and Lee Roy and Imelda from Fort Worth (they were our very first arrivals!). We are hoping our treasury will allow us to have not only our usual two dances in fiscal year 2017-2018, but also perhaps a “bonus” dance. What a treat that would be! One of our members, Mary Lou Svatek, had a birthday that day, and her family had brought a beautifully-decorated cake to help her celebrate the occasion, which they shared with many of the dancers. Happy Birthday, Mary Lou! We plan to have our next club dance in late April 2017, so keep your eyes looking out for the information. We haven’t booked anything yet, but we’ll let you know when that happens. Meantime, “Polka On!”
Squeezebox Band and Mollie B will be performing in Texas in January 2017. For your assistance, I’m listing information here that should be helpful to you in finding where and when:
Wednesday, January 11 – Mission at Mission Bell in the evening
Thursday, January 12 – Mission at Bentsen Grove Resort – 7 PM stage show
Friday, January 13 – Hallettsvlle at KC Hall – 3-1/2 hour dance in the evening
Saturday, January 14 – Granger at Sts. Cyril & Methodius Rec Hall – Dance 6-10 PM
Sunday, January 15 - Houston at SPJST Lodge 88 (Chandelier Ballroom) – 2-6 PM dance – Tickets are $15 per person and will be presold starting November 1. You can send your check to the lodge at 1435 Beall St., Houston TX 77008, marking the envelope “Attn: Vernell” or “Mollie B”. Be sure to include the table number or area where you’d like to sit. For more information, call Vernell at 713-861-0223, or call the lodge at 713-869-5767. The lodge web site is www.lodge88.org. Requests for tickets will be held until November 1 before processing. Be sure to include your phone number in case the lodge needs to ask you a question.
Specifics for events from January 11-January 14 can be found on the band’s web site, www.squeezeboxband.com, including phone numbers to call for information, addresses of the halls or RV parks where the band will perform, etc. You will NOT be able to make reservations directly with the band, only with the locations where the band will perform. Good luck! Make your plans as early as possible to help ensure that you can enjoy the band where and when you want.
Well, that’s not an unusual statement.l They’re all lovely for dancing, aren’t they? No matter the weather or whatever, it’s always a good time to dance! We started our week’s dancing a tad earlier than usual this past week, on Thursday, as it was the polka show at the Bluebonnet Opry in Brenham. First, we treated ourselves to the absolutely delicious hamburgers they serve before the program. Then we went to sit in our seats (and visit with folks – like JoAn Slafka, one of our club members). It was nice to see her there, as well as one of her sons, and a nice gentleman from College Station, Arnold. The guest artists for this polka program (the other one is their May program) were Al Sulak, Danny Zapletal (who was accompanied by David Czarnek, who leads the Texas Dutchmen band and also plays in the band Danny leads, Czech and Then Some), and Tim & Alicia Kulhanek. Tim formed the band Lost Cause and he also plays with Central Texas Sounds. It was a very enjoyable program, and we also very much enjoyed visiting with folks we had never met as well as people we know quite well. Lots of couples were dancing this evening. That was nice to see. We always try to be sure to make the opry’s polka programs, and since this is one opry where they don’t mind if you dance, that certainly makes it attractive to us! You should try to make it sometime. Even if it’s not a month for them to feature polka, they have a very good show, and it helps to benefit the hospice in Brenham.
Saturday we enjoyed a very lovely 50th anniversary party at Houston’s SPJST #88, hosted by a wonderful couple, Kay and Frank Foltyn. Frank and Kay are such an inspiration to everyone, devoted to each other and their family, and with a deep faith in God. Before the party actually started, there were plenty of goodies to eat, two kinds of sausage, delicious sliced ham (those were bought from Janak’s in Hallettsville, who delivered them there shortly before we got there), two kinds of cheese cubes and two kinds of crackers, plus a variety of kolaches, buchta of two or three types, and snickerdoodle cookies. We know for sure that if you’re planning to have a get-together of any kind, you’ll find friendly folks and delicious food at Janak’s. The dance started at 2 PM, and it was with the Red Ravens, always a good choice. The Red Ravens even did their “red glasses” thing after intermission. Dinner followed, and it was also delicious, catered by Ben’s Catering. It’s a popular caterer. Ben was one of the folks at the head of the serving lines. The menu consisted of baked chicken and gravy to top it and any other food, boiled buttered red potatoes, green beans, cole slaw, canned peaches, bread and tea. Really, really delicious (except I found the gravy had plenty of white pepper in it, and I avoid pepper of any kind – but it did me no harm, just a burning sensation in my mouth and throat, nothing permanent!). Anyway, I definitely have Ben’s on my “really good caterers” list. To top it all off, we had white and/or chocolate wedding cake. What a beautiful sight that uncut 5-layer cake was! Very impressive to look at as well as to eat. Kay ordered it sight unseen from a lady in El Campo, and it was incredibly beautiful. She told me the name of the lady who baked it, but I apparently wasn’t listening too well……but no doubt Kay would be glad to share that info with you if you’re interested in finding someone with that kind of talent. What a wonderful party it was, and we wish many more happy and healthy years for the Foltyns. We certainly thank them for including us!
We made two events on Sunday, the first being the annual Oktoberfest at the Catholic church in Bellville. The band was Mark Halata & Texavia, and the location of the music was a large covered pavilion. Mark and his wife Cathy are members of THMDC, and Mike Gest (who usually plays with them as well as his own two bands) is also a member of our club. Besides that, we saw 4 more club members there, Dennis Sumbera & Betty Tidwell and Bennie & Bernice Stolarski. That was a pleasant surprise. Since most festival-goers didn’t dance, we had plenty of room in front of the band. Can any dancer pass up dancing to the music of Mark Halata & Texavia? I don’t think so! We left after the band was finished so that we could go to the Schulenburg KC Hall for the Swiss Alp Dance Club dance. Al Sulak’s band was playing, and of course I heard many compliments on their music. You may recall that they played for our dance last April – and Al won the 50-50 pot. That made him happy and he made his band members happy by paying them each an extra $10. Nice, huh? But, then, no one who knows Al Sulak would expect anything but nice from him. We saw many friends there, including club members Russ & Barbie Loitz. We munched on some Fritos on the way home – not good for you, but they hit the spot.
Now it’s time to get everything ready for our own club dance on this next Sunday afternoon, October 30. Again we’ll have it at the Sealy American Legion hall, and the doors will open to the public at 1 PM. The dancing will be from 2-5:30. As always, we’ll have a silent auction, a 50-50 drawing, and door prizes. And, the supreme reason to come: The Dujka Brothers will be providing their wonderful music for us. You may even find some Christmas gifts at the silent auction. Remember, children 18 and under have free admission when accompanied by their parents, grandparents, aunt, uncle, etc. Come in costume or not (just come in SOMETHING!), and come prepared to have a great time! Bring friends and neighbors. All are welcome, and it’s a bargain at $5 admission for non-members. Members get in free, of course.