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.
Sorry to be a bit late with this week’s posting. Yes, it’s been a very busy week, mostly preparing for this next weekend, the very last weekend of February. Maybe now we’ll be able to look forward to better weather?
Saturday afternoon we went to Houston’s SPJST #88 for a special event – the annual dance at 88 to host Barefoot Becky & the Ivanhoe Dutchmen. The addition of the Dujka Brothers this year made it even better. Everything about this dance was wonderful. Becky does the very best version of one of our favorite waltzes, “Waltz of the Angels”. She and her band do many other wonderful songs that are great to hear and even greater to dance to. It goes without saying that the Dujka Brothers (John & Mark) ALWAYS give a great performance! The dance was 5-10 PM, and it was so nice to be heading home earlier in the evening than we usually do. Because of the hours of the dance, the lodge had prepared some inexpensive – and delicious! – food for the attendees to purchase. Lee Roy and I each had a cheeseburger. They heated the patties and added the bun and cheese; then I was able to fix them like we like them with mayo, mustard, relish, sliced ripe tomatoes, pickle chips, onions and lettuce. Other food offered were burgers without the cheese (same price for cheese or not), sausage wraps, grilled cheese, and grilled cheese with a patty. What we had was quite tasty, and if/when they have another dance those hours we won’t hesitate to buy our dinner there. Two of our club members, Marie Kucera and Sandy Jones, shared our table with us, and it was nice to visit with them. Lee Roy, of course, included them in his dancing. They are pleasant ladies and it was nice to include them at our table.
Sunday we had been invited to a dance at Shelby’s Harmonie Hall. It was an afternoon dance, which always seem to be popular. The band was one of our favorites, Al Sulak’s Country Sounds. Of course, Al is Czech, so he sings plenty of Czech songs. Even though their name includes “Country”, it is a typical “polka” band, some country and plenty of Czech polkas and waltzes….and more. They usually go so quickly from one song to the next that it’s impossible to get back to your seat between dances. We definitely appreciate that! In fact, I had a few songs to request and it was hard to get to the stage because the next song had always begun! That’s a nice “problem” to have. Coincidentally, John Dujka and his friend Kim were invited to this dance, and since Al is John and Mark’s mentor (band leader) from when they were in 5th grade, Al invited John up to the stage to sing and play a few songs with the band. What a nice bonus for us!
Don’t forget that the Corpus Christi Czech Heritage Festival happens on Saturday, February 24. It’s an all-day event with 3 bands: The Czechaholics, Red Ravens, and the Leo Majek Band, which is from Corpus Christi. It’s always a nice event. If you can make it, this would be a good time to make a trip to Corpus Christi. Looking forward to next year, remember this happens each year on the last Saturday in February. Make a note on your calendar. One more note: We’ll have “spring forward” day on March 11, just over two weeks away, when you set your clocks forward for Daylight Savings Time. Yes, I agree that it would be better if they would leave the time alone, but it’s doubtful that will ever happen. We seemed to get along just fine without it when we were growing up, just like we seemed to do very well without all of the rules and regulations to keep us safe, etc. Ditto for the unlikely possibility of doing away with those! Uncle Sam always seems to think we need help with our personal lives! NOT!!!
How lucky and blessed are we??? Four dances in a weekend! Almost couldn’t get better! Friday night’s dance was a Valentine dance at the Schulenburg KC Hall. Thanks to all the hosts who sponsored the dance. We appreciate their doing that, and appreciate the invitation. The band was Lost Cause, led by Tim and Alicia Kulhanek. That band is fairly new, but they are talented and certainly have a busy schedule. You may recall that Tim was formerly with Central Texas Sounds until they retired. Tim wasn’t ready to retire (of course!), so we are fortunate to have another good band that knows how to play a good variety of genres including polkas, waltzes, country and more. Tim is Czech, so definitely knows the Czech songs. Alicia has a wonderful singing voice, and she’s good with a trumpet, too. We enjoyed the company of many friends on Friday evening, and even shared the company of some of them at other dances we enjoyed over the weekend. The only negative of the night was sporadic fog and rain on the way home. We’ve had to deal with much, much heavier fog in the past, so we are grateful that the fog and rain were not any worse.
We had two dances on Saturday, the first one by invitation at the Burton Roadhouse. It was billed as a Mardi Gras dance, and the hosts provided colorful beads and table decorations that were definitely oriented to Mardi Gras, as well as some additional decor on the doorways. They had hired the ever-popular Charles & the Fabulous 4, and naturally everyone enjoyed the music. This band has gotten to be really good, and we are happy to dance to their music. Once again, we knew so many of the dancers and enjoyed dancing with several of them during the afternoon. This facility serves pizzas and hamburgers, but an untimely accident happened that morning, a small fire that caused two cans of Pam to explode, spraying Pam onto the food, so the food that had been planned was NOT available to us. The owner immediately made plans to buy some chopped BBQ from Nathan’s BBQ in Burton, so we were treated to an almost impromptu meal of BBQ sandwiches and delicious potato salad (very similar to the potato salad I make at home). Our hosts requested that we help out the owner of the Roadhouse with donations to at least cover the expense of the unexpected food. We definitely had no problem doing that. After all, this lady is in business to provide a living for herself and her family, not to buy food to donate to people. We were happy to eat there because we had been planning to stop at Subway or a burger joint on the way to Rosenberg, where we had planned to dance that evening. A cold front arrived while we were enjoying the music and dancing, and it was 44 degrees and raining when we left to go to Rosenberg.
It was the monthly dance at the Rosenberg American Legion, sponsored by the Happy Cousins Dance Club, of which we are members. The clubs are always happy to welcome non-members, too. Unfortunately, the weather had deteriorated so much that it was a very light crowd. We definitely had a good time, and it looked like everyone else was enjoying the music of Texas Sound Check and socializing with friends, but dances with such light attendance are hard for clubs since they always have to pay the band and pay rent for the hall. Remember that when you are planning your activities. You are definitely needed at as many dances as you can make. Without enough dancers on a regular basis, our dancing could well go the way of the dinosaurs. Let’s not let that happen! A note to band leader Bennie Okruhlik: Thank you, Bennie, for remembering that I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the song “Who the Hell is Johnny?” What a great beat it has, and it’s up-tempo - so wonderful for dancing – and the lyrics are truly enjoyable. On the way home, more spotty fog and rain, but we made it home almost in the same time it usually takes. Another thank you: Thank you, God, for keeping us safe! We know You are always with us.
After a good night’s rest in our own bed – always the best – we drove off about noon on Sunday to Shelby’s Harmonie Hall for another Valentine dance that was sponsored by some generous hosts. What a crowd they had, and even after intermission, very few people had left for home. We enjoyed the excellent music of Night Session, a band formed by and led by club member Mike Gest. We heard lots of comments about how good the music was. Mike has been in a band since he was about 10 years old. He happily spends lots of his time working on music to be sure that all of the instruments are playing music that will result in the best-sounding songs. He also spends time practicing his Czech pronunciation. Sunday’s version of Night Session was 5 musicians. They offer various versions of the band, ranging from 2 to 6 musicians. They even have access to larger numbers of musicians if someone wants that. “Who is this Mike Gest?”, you might ask. Some dancers know him as the leader of Moonglow Orchestra. He also plays regularly with Mark Halata & Texavia, and also with Texas Legacy Czech Band. And he’s a nice guy. What else could you want? If you’re planning a dance, don’t forget to contact Mike. You won’t regret it. We certainly want to thank all the hosts of this dance for their generosity and hospitality. I didn’t see a single person who didn’t seem to be enjoying the dance. Job well done!
Now, let’s all do our part to keep our dancing alive and well, not only for our own enjoyment and benefit (yes, it’s not only fun, but very good for you physically and mentally), but also for future generations. When you can, bring along some friends (young or old – it all works) and introduce them to the dancing and music that we enjoy so much. Promise? Thanks! See you soon.
P.S. Note to my friend from his Gwen Friend: Missed you Sunday, but it was certainly nice to see and chat with your sister. We hear you were spending some time recently in Las Vegas. I’m guessing you were there for dancing? Know you had fun!
Our weekend dancing started on Thursday in The Woodlands. It was at the South County Community Center, for a “seniors” dance. The 3-piece version of the Night Session, led by club member Mike Gest, played for us. They always play a wide variety of music – country, polkas, waltzes, Latin, jitterbug, Cajun and pops. Several of my favorites were on the “menu” that night, including “New York, New York” and “Tulips From Amsterdam”, which is probably my fave of all time. The dance was scheduled for 6-9 PM (you get home at a decent time!), but at the beginning we were treated to some hula lessons by a dance teacher, her assistant teacher, and some teens (whom we perceived to be her students). They demonstrated (and invited dancers to participate) various hula moves including palm trees, ocean, rain and more. The teens also offered healthy smoothies to the dancers both before and after the demo. In addition, when we arrived, they were offering plastic leis of various colors. They also had a variety of cookies and miniature pecan pies available for us to eat (they were yummy), and lemonade. We were expecting none of that! After the hula lessons and demo, the music we had expected started, and we enjoyed a nice evening of dancing including a mixer. This group usually meets monthly, but they announced that next month they would not be able to have the dance there because the facility is used for voting and the primary elections will be going on. I’m guessing they will be holding early voting at that time as well as voting on the second Tuesday of March. Yes, you should make a note to yourself to be sure to vote in the primary election of the party of your choice.
Friday we enjoyed dancing at the first Friday of the month dance at the Eagle Lake Community Center, where Tim Kulhanek’s Lost Cause was playing. It was a smaller than usual crowd, but we all were happy to be there. The music was quite good, mostly country, but definitely including some Czech music. They also take requests. You may not know that Tim Kulhanek used to play with Central Texas Sounds, plus he is Czech, so definitely he knows the music! His wife, Alicia, not only plays the trumpet in this band, but she helps with most of the songs, and frequently is the lead vocalist. You should have plenty of opportunities to hear and dance to this band. We think you’ll like it. We have hired this band to play for THMDC on September 29, a Saturday afternoon. Be sure to put it on your calendar. (I hope you already have our two previous dances on your calendar: Sunday, March 18, 2-5:30 PM, with Texas Legacy Czech Band, and Saturday, June 16, 2-5:30 PM, with Mark Halata & Texavia. All three of these dances will be at the Sealy American Legion hall. We want you there!)
Saturday wound up our dancing for this past weekend, when we renewed our membership in the Lions Sealy Dance Club at the Sealy American Legion hall. They have dances lined up for the rest of the year with bands you’ll like, always on the first Saturday night of the month. Next month you’ll still have an opportunity to join this club (or to come as a guest), and to hear the aforementioned Lost Cause. Remember, this dance is 7:30-11 PM. This month the band was the very popular Charles & the Fabulous 4. It was a good crowd, and many of the dancers stayed until the end, which is always good.
We wound up our weekend at home so we could watch the Super Bowl. I know I should have been rooting for the Patriots, as they are always an excellent team, with excellent coaching, BUT I was definitely ready for some other team to win that contest this year. I’ve always been a football fan, but I don’t get to see many games since we’re usually dancing when it’s happening – college and pro. I had my hopes up last year when the Falcons were trouncing the Patriots, but as usual the Patriots came through and defeated the Falcons in overtime. This year, the Philadelphia Eagles played a terrific game (excellent running backs who have a way of continuing to rack up yardage even when tackled by multiple opponents at a time!) and came out the winner. Which team did you root for? It’ll be interesting next year to see if the Patriots return for the umpteenth time. Well, if they do, as long as they got there honestly, that’s okay. I’m always in favor of teams who play as good sportsmen getting where they want to be, and I’m always hoping the games will have a healthy team vs. another healthy team. It seems a miscarriage of justice, in a way, for a key player (or several) to be out, with that being the cause for a particular team not to win. Honest and healthy is the best! And while we’re talking about football, let’s hope the NFL will decide to issue a “banned for life” order against players who deliberately try to injure opponent players, like has happened at least two years to our beloved J. J. Watt of the Houston Texans. And while I’m at it, I could always hope that the NFL will fire players who choose to display unpatriotic behavior!!! Yes, I’m talking about not standing for our national anthem. Well, that’s all of my soap box you have to endure for now! :-) Where and when will we see you on the dance floor?
I’m a tad late in discussing our activities on January 20 and 28. Yes, only two dances in two weeks, but they were definitely “wunaful, wunaful”, as Lawrence Welk so often said. The dance on January 20 followed a wedding we were invited to at the very beautiful Guardian Angel Catholic Church in Wallis. That’s the second time we’ve actually been inside that church, and both times we were in awe of the beauty inside. It’s also very appealing from the exterior, but the inside almost takes your breath away. Anyway, club member Lillie Spillars and John Svec were married, and after the wedding, they treated us to a delicious dinner at the Wallis American Legion hall, followed by dancing to the very excellent music of Al Sulak’s Country Sounds. As you can tell by the name, Al is Czech, so not only do they play country songs, they do an outstanding job on the Czech polkas and waltzes and more. It’s always a pleasure to hear them play and to dance to their music. They displayed a family quilt that Lillie had made to celebrate the combining of their two families. It was quite a lovely work of art, with many blocks of family pictures, about 12″ x 12″, precisely sewn onto background material – her family and his, including their deceased spouses. Lillie has made a living making quilts and other items, and all that I’ve seen have been beautifully done. We thank the newlyweds for including us in their special day and the start of their lives together. We definitely were honored to be included. They actually opened the dinner and the dance to the public, possibly even the wedding, as the church was full. What a generous thing to do! It made our weekend to be included.
We had a very busy week following that with much work to do around the house (and especially our 6-2/3 acres where Lee Roy worked so hard almost the entire week), and of course I always have lots of work to do on the computer for THMDC among other things, so we welcomed several days without dancing – even though the dancing ones are the most fun! So, our dance on January 28 was one we enjoy every year at the New Taiton Community Center just 10 or so miles north of El Campo on State Hwy. 71. That’s a good hall, and they had set up plenty of extra tables over and above what they normally have set up. It was so wonderful to see such a huge crowd attending this dance! How lovely it would be if every dance were that well attended! We would know for sure that our beloved dancing is in good health! This dance always features three bands, all excellent. First up was the Majek Band from Corpus Christi, followed by the Red Ravens (with John Dujka filling in for the recently retired Kenneth Kristynik), and Fritz Hodde and the Fabulous Six was the third band of the day. After all three bands had played an hour, they all jammed together for about 30 minutes, and then each band played in turn again. I’ll never complain about 6 hours of music without an intermission! On top of that, they had various food for sale, to benefit the Wharton County Fair – fried gizzards (which they somehow make very tender according to folks who love them), hamburgers (fix your own however you prefer it), chicken noodle soup, chicken salad sandwiches, and various accompaniments along with a wide selection of delicious desserts. They also had a 50-50 pot and raffle prizes. All in all, the music was wonderful, the dancing was terrific (that’s a really good dance floor), and it was so wonderful to see so many folks that we know, many of whom we call friends. What a great way to start the new year! We’ll be dancing more this next weekend, but we’ll make Sunday a day for football. The Big One, Super Bowl LII (that’s fifty-two if you don’t remember your Roman numerals), will start at 5:30 PM, and we all can be thankful that we are able to watch it on TV and won’t have to be in Minneapolis where game time temps are predicted to be -4 degrees. Yes, that’s MINUS 4 degrees Fahrenheit. Definitely not my kind of weather!
Don’t forget that there are several dances going on this week and weekend. Thursday there’s a dance at the South County Community Center (that’s Montgomery County) in the Woodlands. The address is 4235 Lake Robbins Drive, which is at the corner of Lake Robbins Drive and Grogans Mill Rd. The dance is an early one, so eat before you get there. It’s from 6-9 PM. Everyone has to be gone by 9 PM for this county facility. The music will be provided by the 3-piece version of Night Session Band, led by club member Mike Gest. Anyone who knows Mike knows he’s a perfectionist when it comes to music. The music will be variety, including some Czech polkas & waltzes, some country, pop music, jitterbug, Cajun, etc. You’ll definitely find some music that’s right up your alley. Friday is the first Friday of the month, which means it’s time for the monthly dance at the Eagle Lake Community Center, directly across the street from the city library. Until the time change or thereabouts, this dance is always 7:30-10:30 PM. When daylight lasts longer, it’ll be 8-11 PM, but for now, be there by 7:30 at the latest. The Supaks have so lovingly kept this dance going for 25 years, assisted now by their children and grandchildren. If you go to this dance, BE SURE to thank them for all they do to keep our dancing going for us! What a blessing they have been to everyone who has enjoyed this dance! This month the band is Lost Cause, led by Tim and Alicia Kulhanek. Tim played with the now-retired Central Texas Sounds, which was always a popular band…..so you can count on Tim and his band knowing “our kind” of music. Don’t forget that dancers bring food to share on a smorgasbord-type table. At intermission everyone present helps themselves to whatever they’d like to have from the food table. Dancers also bring door prizes, which is an “extra” fun thing at intermission – and the Supaks arrange to have some items donated by local businesses, and they sell tickets from which to draw winners for these items. It’s a lot of fun, and popular with the dancers. Will you be there? We hope so! Don’t forget that they can’t sell beer at this city facility. Saturday is the first Saturday of the month, which means it’s time for the Sealy Dance Club at the Sealy American Legion hall. This month they’ll have the always-popular Charles & the Fabulous 4, which plays mostly country, but they also are capable of playing polkas and some Czech songs, so don’t hesitate to request something you’d like to hear. There will be other dances as well as a couple of oprys this weekend, so be sure to find something to go to. Check the dance schedule on our web site. And then enjoy the Super Bowl on Sunday. Can you believe it’s going to be February tomorrow? Almost impossible to believe! It was quite recently that we were dancing on New Year’s Eve! Time definitely flies, more so the older we get. Don’t miss out on anything you would like to do! We only get so many days on this earth, you know. Make the most of them! We’ll plan to see YOU at a dance soon! God bless!
We’ve had quite a bit more winter weather this season than usual, but it’s definitely possible to keep warm by dancing. In fact, I’ve seen some guys with shirts wet across the back, and it wasn’t because they were out in the rain, though there has been quite a bit of that, too, from time to time. We had intended to go to the Happy Cousins Dance Club dance in Rosenberg’s American Legion hall on Saturday, but we were invited to help a couple of brothers celebrate their birthdays in Bryan at the Sons of Hermann Hall. It was hard to make the decision of which one to go to. You see, we’re still trying to find out how we can clone ourselves so we won’t have to miss any of the dances or musical events. They both were public dances, and we ended up in Bryan. We did hear that the club dance in Rosenberg had a fairly light crowd – which makes us feel guilty for not being there – but it was quite a large group of dancers in Bryan, and most of those had gone there for the birthday celebrations. One birthday boy was Arnold Matcek, and it looked like he was having a good time. His brother, however, was in the hospital with the flu. We are happy he did not come to the dance (no flu germs wanted!), but we did send wishes for a fast and complete recovery. That flu this year is apparently really vicious, and especially with seniors and very young ‘uns. Be careful and be sure to keep your hands CLEAN and also AWAY FROM YOUR MOUTH AND NOSE. We don’t want to lose any dancers! The band playing for this dance was Charles & the Fabulous 4. It seems they’re everywhere! We had been told that the hall is small, so we were pleasantly surprised to find that it was pretty sizable and with plenty of seating. The floor is concrete, but coated to make it smooth. I’ve heard many people say concrete dance floors really make their legs hurt. Fortunately, we haven’t had any problems with that. Folks brought food to put on a table for people to help themselves during intermission. JoAn Slafka had brought a huge (and delicious – and beautiful) birthday cake. I’m thinking it was a full sheet. We took three links of Eckrich sausage (my fave) which I sliced and heated in a slow cooker with a sauce made from grape jelly and cocktail sauce. We first tasted that concoction at a bank who had it available for their customers during the Christmas season. It works well with meatballs, too. We went home full and happy – or as you’ve probably heard “full as a tick”. We were happy that we got into bed before 1:30 AM, and even happier that we slept well, and that Lee Roy didn’t have to tend to a fire in the fireplace that night. It looks like we’re in for more of that this week. Brrrr!!!
Sunday we got up fairly early, but late enough to have had a good night’s sleep, and headed out to the Sealy American Legion hall, where the Polka Lovers Klub of America (Texas Chapter) was having their semi-annual lunch, meeting and dance (with music by the Incredible Music Makers). It’s been awhile since we heard that band, but I’m sure the music was satisfactory. We had elsewhere to go, so left during the meeting (even though I had planned to leave immediately after we ate). They started the meeting, and we hated to interrupt by walking out, but finally we did because it was 1:10 and we were going to Houston’s SPJST #88 for the annual performance of Mollie B and Squeezebox Band. It’s always such a pleasure to hear and dance to their music. It’s both good for dancing and very entertaining, so the audience is always full of dancers as well as non-dancers (most of whom probably watch RFD-TV’s Mollie B Polka Party). In fact, on our way into the hall, two different people stopped us to tell us how much they enjoy seeing us on that program. That’s nice for them to say that. It’s nice to know that we entertain people with our dancing. Something we can enjoy doing, plus knowing others enjoy it, too. Our friends from Clovis, NM were there, much to our surprise, along with two of her sisters who live in Wharton. We had met these sisters when we were dancing in Taiton to the Texas Legacy Czech Band on December 17. It was nice to visit with them again. The grandchildren had other activities this weekend, so they didn’t make this trip. We missed them, of course! They are incredibly nice children, and they LOVE to dance and do it very, very well – and have big smiles on their faces when they dance! I have my granddaughters, and Lee Roy has his grandchildren (and we both have “great-grands”), but we both happily have adopted these “extra” grandchildren in our hearts. Who wouldn’t love them? But, they have been brought up very well, and they know they are loved, so they have developed plenty of confidence, which is always a good thing. Everyone seemed to really enjoy the performance of the band. I surely know we did, as always! Now they’re off to the Rio Grande Valley to do two performances this week in McAllen, after which they’ll do performances at Cyclone’s Flag Hall (another SPJST) on Saturday and at Round Top’s Rifle Association Hall on Sunday. I heard that there are still tickets available at Round Top, but before you plan to show up, call first to be sure they have room for you. This band will be back next year about the same time of year, as they are always en route from more westerly destinations (California, Arizona, etc.) to Florida for their annual cruise with Jimmy Sturr and his orchestra. Jimmy, by the way, is a member of our club, Texas Heritage Music & Dance Club. He recognizes and appreciates that we are working hard to keep polka and other heritage dancing alive and in good health. If you are a member of our club, you are doing that, too! Even just by going dancing as often as you can, you are helping that effort. Thank you, and Polka On!!!!
It was such a busy week last week that I never got around to telling you that we had a great NYE dance at the Elgin SPJST lodge. Fritz Hodde & the Fabulous Six were playing, and of course they’re always wonderful musically, and so friendly too. It’s also great to see that Fritz, by his own admission, is doing so well healthwise. He’s been through some very serious situations in the last couple of years (and probably more), and it seems that his health has taken a turn for the better. He certainly deserves it. We’re hoping we can enjoy many more years of his and his band’s music – and their friendship. The attendance at this dance was far from what it should have been, but we can certainly blame the weather forecast for that. In fact, we were driving to the hall from our motel (no, we don’t like to be on the road on New Year’s Eve, so it’s always a motel night), and it was misting. I decided I should wipe those tiny wet drops off the windshield, but I found out that it had turned to ICE. Very shortly we got to the hall – no problems with weather. While we were inside dancing, it SNOWED 15-20 minutes, so when we left the hall after the dance, we found some snow on the car. That made us really glad that we were staying only a mile or so away! We stayed home the next day and ate our “lucky” New Year’s meal – ham, cabbage, black-eyed peas, mashed potatoes, and corn bread. So maybe we’ll have good luck all year! :-)
Our next dance was at Eagle Lake where Charles & the Fabulous 4 were playing for a very large crowd. In fact, I have never seen THAT MANY folks at the Eagle Lake Community Center – and they all seemed to be having a great time! I think everyone was happy to have a dance to go to. We certainly were! The music was good, the socializing was good, and the food that folks brought to share at intermission was quite tasty. There were so many people, which means there was really a LOT of food, that they had to add two tables to the area where the food is set out. That’s good.
Saturday after I went to my granddaughter’s baby shower, we took off for Schulenburg’s KC hall where the always-excellent Dujka Brothers were playing for the tractor club. At first, they played quite a few country songs, which was likely very appropriate for tractor families. The Dujka Brothers not only are excellent musicians and friendly men, but John is so good at reading the audience, so when most of the tractor folks left, their repertoire returned to the usual fare. I thought I was ready to leave a little early (almost an unknown thing for us), because I wasn’t looking forward to getting home after 2 AM and to sleep at God knows what time, but when the Dujkas’ music returned to its norm, I was very happy we had NOT missed even a note!
We did get to sleep very shortly before 2:30, but it wasn’t hard to get up a little after 9 so we could leave at 11 AM to go to the Rosenberg American Legion for the “first battle dance of the year” that happens there on the first Sunday of each new year. This year the bands were Texas Sound Check (which, by the way, has gotten very good!) and the Red Ravens, which is always popular with the dancers. We were very surprised to learn that their accordion player, Kenneth Kristynik, has left the Red Ravens. In his place, they had hired John Dujka for that dance. Naturally, we were happy to enjoy his music for the second dance in a row. I’m sure the dancers will miss Kenneth, but am equally sure that the Red Ravens will find a good replacement. Meantime, I’m sure they’ll have to use sit-ins until they’re able to get someone on a permanent basis. Anyway, this was another dance (3 in a row) where the dancers arrived in large numbers, eager to finally be dancing again. It would be nice if all the dancers would realize that they need to support our dancing or it will dwindle down to nothing. I’ve said many times that the dancers, the halls, and the bands all need each other. Our dancing cannot exist on festivals alone. I was so saddened when the Wallis American Legion decided against continuing to be available to the Wallis Dance Club when the folks who kept the club going were unable to continue doing that. What the Legion members failed to realize is that there are many folks who live in Wallis (and elsewhere, but those in Wallis are neighbors to some of the Legion members) who depended on the club dances for much of their social needs. Let’s face it. We all need some social interaction, and especially folks who have been widowed, who have grown old, etc. They especially need some social life. Even those who no longer are able to dance enjoyed going to the dances – to socialize, to enjoy the music, and to watch the dancers. To me, it looks like the Legion members gave no thought to the role they fill in the needs of folks in their own community. Let’s hope someone awakens their sensibilities. Meantime, let’s check our dancing calendars and decide which dances we’re going to in the near future. BTW, I plan to add more dances to the schedule we have on this web site, and I’ve promised myself it will happen TODAY! God bless, and be sure to Polka On!!!
Yes, along with the end of 2017, we’ve just about gotten to the end of our dancing and music activities and events for 2017. We had a great time at the annual Christmas dance at the New Taiton Community Center on Sunday the 17th. As always, Texas Legacy Czech Band played, and we definitely enjoyed it. They always are prepared to play lots of Christmas songs, classics, pop, and religious. It really does put you in a Christmas mood. As always, the hall provided free chicken noodle soup for the dancers, and fairly late in the dance the announcement was made that there were hamburgers for sale for anyone who wished to do that. We did, and when Lee Roy ordered our burgers, someone else was up there ordering 4 more. So, hopefully the burgers did not go begging for someone to eat them! The dancers were plentiful, but not as much as usual. We know there was a sponsored dance at Shelby at the same time, and undoubtedly it drew some folks away from Taiton. Another good thing that happens at this dance is that the dancers bring desserts (and this year a few other things, too), and at intermission (and before) the dancers and musicians help themselves to whatever is on the dessert table. There were at least 2 items that had poppyseed in them, which made Lee Roy and many others very happy, and Bob Suttie always brings a fruit cake. Lee Roy thought it was especially good. I took a peppermint and Oreo cheesecake that I made from a new recipe that I had never tried before. Yummy is not an adequate word to describe this cheesecake! We did bring one piece home, but I suspect Lee Roy closed up the container a tad early so that we could have another piece (to share) when we got home. I plan to make another one for family that will be at our home on Christmas day. Maybe we’ll have more left…. Hmm…..good idea.
After the dance we took presents to my niece and her family in Bellville. We don’t get to visit with them too much, between her job, his business, church, and school activities for the children. In return, they gave us THREE large nutcrackers. I’ve always been a fan of nutcrackers. How they ever came to be associated with Christmas, I don’t know, but the varieties of nutcrackers are very numerous, and I enjoy seeing the result of their creators’ imaginations. We managed to get home just about news time, so that’s good. Tuesday was the third Tuesday of the month, which means it was time for us to “gather” at the Pizza Inn in the northwest corner of Loop 610 in Houston. The accordionists who came to this gathering were lots fewer than usual, thanks to the proximity of Christmas. BUT, we all had a wonderful time, and almost every accordionist included Christmas songs among his/her “offering” this month. That was really enjoyable – although we really do enjoy these gatherings every month, no matter the time of year. It’ll happen again in January on the 16th, and everyone is invited to come and hear accordion music of various genres. Some folks simply come to eat and enjoy free music, and they come month after month, so it would seem they like it. We do, too, and our president, Arlyn Visentin, does a terrific job of keeping this group going and keeping it growing. She’s a really good “welcomer” whether you’re an accordionist or an “onlooker”. Maybe that should be “onlistener”??? It’s FREE to everyone, but we do recommend that you eat there since we’re using the Pizza Inn’s facilities. It’s located at the corner of Mangum & 18th in northwest Houston, and it begins at 6:30 PM. Come and see for yourself – and if you play an accordion you’re welcome to join in the playing. If you play another instrument, you are welcome to join the jam session after the accordionists who want to play have all played.
Something happened to my dance/musical events listing that I had posted on this web site. Maybe the Grinch was hanging around our house. If so, I’m certainly glad I didn’t interact with him! Although, if I had, he certainly would have gotten a piece of my mind – sometimes I think part of it has gotten lost. Well, not really, and I surely hope and pray that never happens. Anyway, I’ll try to find time this week to get whatever dances and events listed that remain for this year, including the New Year’s Eve dances that I know of. Stay safe, have a wonderful time, and enjoy a happy and healthy new year!
Actually, I do remember that I wrote a very long and informative post about our activities the first weekend of December. What happened to it? It doesn’t seem to be here. Did I forget to “publish” it? Well, as busy as we’ve been, maybe I did lose my mind for a moment or two. I’ll just give you a very brief recap of that and add last weekend’s activities. You’re probably busy as a bee, too, with all the Christmas “to-do’s”.
Friday, December 1 we enjoyed the annual Teddy Bear Ball at Shelby’s Harmonie Hall. All invited guests were asked to bring a teddy bear which the hosts in turn donate to a fire, police, or sheriff’s department to be given to help comfort children who have suffered a tragedy. Charles & the Fabulous 4 played our dance music. That band has really gotten to be good, hasn’t it?
Saturday, December 2 was a busy day and night. Two dances! The first was a Christmas dance at Weimar’s Veterans Memorial Hall (which we didn’t even know existed!), and Moonglow Orchestra, led by club member Mike Gest, played Christmas music and more for our dancing and listening pleasure. They ALWAYS do such a great job, and their repertoire is huge. Anything you want to hear they can play, and do it very well. Club member Jimmie Heinsohn also plays in that band.
After that dance, we drove to Sealy’s American Legion hall for the first-Saturday-of-the-month dance of the Sealy Lions Dance Club where The Kreneks played. That was a very, very light crowd. We speculate that some folks participated in the parade and didn’t want to do more; others probably had other Christmas doings they were involved in. BTW, this club will not have a dance in January, but will resume their dance schedule on February 3 when Charles & the Fabulous 4 have been scheduled to play.
Then, on Sunday, December 3, we drove to Shelby’s Harmonie Hall again for another Christmas dance some nice folks had invited us to. It was good company, good food and good music by the Texas Legacy Czech Band. We definitely enjoyed our friends, the food and the music!
Now, I’ll try to be fairly brief about our three dances this past weekend. After all, none of us has all day for writing or reading this missive. Our dancing started again on Friday night, this time in Navasota at the Western Club. (Think “close to home” – yea!) It was a country band playing (paid for by the host couples, whom we thank). They call themselves Crossroads Band. Their vocals are remarkably good. It’s a decent dance floor with just about the right amount of room for the number of folks who were dancing. We ate before going, but folks tell us that their menu is good.
Saturday, December 9, we were back at Shelby’s Harmonie Hall, invited by one of the host couples (thanks, Tony & Evelyn). They had hired Lost Cause to play. Tim Kulhanek, formerly with the now-retired Central Texas Sounds, and his wife, Alicia, lead that band. They play a nice variety of music, although mostly it’s country. Alicia really does add a nice touch to the band. She has a good voice and also plays trumpet.
We wound up our dancing weekend at Schulenburg’s KC Hall for the final dance of 2017 for the Swiss Alp Dance Club. Naturally, it was a Christmas dance, and we had the pleasure of dancing to the aforementioned Moonglow Orchestra again.
Now it’s on to New Year’s Eve, and then we must start thinking about where we’ll be going, which bands we’ll be hearing, etc., for 2018. Can you believe it’s already right around the corner? Time definitely flies faster and faster as we get older! You’ll be able to find us at Elgin’s SPJST hall on New Year’s Eve. It’s one of the few places where you don’t have to make a reservation and the admission fee is exactly the same as it is for any other dance there, $10 a person. Can’t beat that! In addition, when we were there several years ago on New Year’s Eve they served a midnight snack of the “lucky” foods to eat for the new year. This year Fritz Hodde & the Fabulous Six will be playing. No doubt the music will be terrific! Always is.
I noticed in the Texas Polka News - great publication, BTW – that in the first three days of January there are 4 actual dances listed from which you can select the ones you want to go to. On Friday, January 5, the Eagle Lake Community Center is where you’ll want to be from 7:30-10:30 PM for Charles & the Fabulous 4. The next day, Saturday, January 6, don’t miss out on the outstanding music of the Dujka Brothers, two very nice guys who also have inherited the genes to be wonderful musicians. Their music has a full, rich sound. This is an annual New Year’s Party of the South Texas Wheel Spinners & Crank Twisters. They’ll also have a silent auction and door prizes, and the donation for entry is only $8. I guess you’re wondering where and when? It’s at the Schulenburg KC Hall (405 South Street), and it happens from 8 PM-Midnight, but you can get into the hall at 7:30. If you want more info about this, call 361-772-4619. On Sunday, January 7, you can choose from two dances. In Houston it will be at VFW 10352 located at 16035 Waverly Drive on the north side of Houston, where Country Jim & the Allstars will be playing from 2-5:30 PM. It’s only $7 per person! More info can be had at 281-443-2023. The other Sunday choice is at Rosenberg’s American Legion hall, a battle dance between the Red Ravens and Texas Sound Check. Naturally, this one will be a polka dance, which we all know includes not only polkas but also waltzes, country, and other genres. Admission is $10 for these two good bands, and you’ll be able to buy hamburgers, pastries, and homemade chicken noodle soup. After all, you don’t want to go hungry, do you? This is always a good dance, and well-attended, so get there early! Looks like this will be a really good start to 2018 dancing, doesn’t it?
One more little thing. Earlier in this posting, I commented that the Texas Polka News is a great paper, a really good source for knowing where you can go to enjoy dancing, and also there’s lots of interesting information in that publication. I was really surprised to find a picture of one of Lee Roy’s relatives in there, one Frank Tannich, who played one of the horns in the Schindler Brass Band in the early part of the 20th century in the Weimar area. Frank Tannich was a brother to Lee Roy’s grandfather Josef V. Tannich. You never know what you’re going to find in the Texas Polka News. It just so happens that they are running a promotion right now, through May of 2018. Folks who either renew their subscription during this time frame, or start a new subscription (or even several, as gifts!), can identify THMDC (our club – that’s short for Texas Heritage Music & Dance Club) as the organization they want to benefit from their renewal or new subscription. For each renewal or new subscription that identifies THMDC as the beneficiary TPN will send $5 to benefit our club at the end of this promotion. Your subscription or renewal will not cost anything extra. This is simply a gift from Theresa Parker, publisher of TPN and part of her effort to benefit the dancing that we all love. In addition, two clubs will receive a bonus cash prize, one for clubs with fewer than 100 members, and one for clubs with 100 or more members. Thank you, Theresa, for your generosity! So, consider renewing your subscription at this time no matter when your expiration date is (she’ll just add another 12 months to your current expiration date), or start a subscription, or gift subscriptions, each time naming THMDC as the organization you want to benefit. You can find a form on page two of any month’s Texas Polka News. In case you don’t have that handy, the cost is $25 per year payable to The Texas Polka News; mail it to P. O. Box 800183, Houston, TX 77280. If it’s easier, do it online at polkabeat.com, using a credit card. Don’t forget to name THMDC as the beneficiary of your new subscription or renewal! And thank you for helping our club to become even stronger financially!
Yes, it was very sad to learn that the Wallis American Legion, where the Wallis Dance Club has been happening for a number of years, has decided that they will cease to have the Wallis Dance Club at its hall. Apparently, there is no other hall in the area where the dances could be held, so we very sadly bid adieu to that club. Folks, this is seriously a detrimental event for those of us who love our dancing. This is my personal plea to support your dance clubs. Do all you can to be a member of the dance clubs, to go to the club dances, and to take friends along (or encourage them to meet you there) as often as possible. The very existence of our dancing is at peril here. I think of some of the folks who live in Wallis who now do not have a convenient place to go socialize while they enjoy the music. Even folks who no longer dance go to the dances for the social enjoyment and the music they enjoy. Let’s all resolve to support our dance clubs! Otherwise, you may find yourself sitting at home watching TV and twiddling your thumbs – and more at risk for Alzheimer’s. Let’s “polka on!”
As the old saying goes, the faster I run, the behinder I get! So, we’ll back up a week and go from there. On Thursday, November 16, we went to Henry Manna’s funeral. Henry and his wife, Mary Ann, joined our club, and we felt we really needed to go to the funeral and offer our condolences to Mary Ann and the rest of their family. We are always happy to see them at a dance, and Lee Roy is always happy to dance a few with Mary Ann. The day started with visitation, followed by rosary and Mass, then a short time at the cemetery which is very near the church, on the same road. The church ladies provided us with a meal that was described to us as a “light lunch”. It was definitely a full meal and quite delicious. Both Lee Roy and I thought the man singing the hymns had a really wonderful voice, and no wonder. When Lee Roy mentioned that to Mary Ann, she said it was none other than Al Sulak, who, in our humble opinions, has the very best voice (along with his sister, Marie), of anyone else in any of the polka bands. One other little note: If you have never been inside the Guardian Angel Catholic Church in Wallis, you really should make it a point to do so. We were astounded to see such a beautiful church in such a small community. After spending the entire day in Wallis, we did not make the Bluebonnet Opry where the very popular Bobby Flores was the featured guest artist. We heard it was an excellent show, no surprise to us.
Saturday found us on the road again to La Grange, where the Polka Lovers Club of Texas Museum was having its annual memorial service for deceased members, which now is in conjunction with the Polka Lovers Klub of Texas. We had to leave immediately after lunch (before the music and dancing) to go to Lee Roy’s oldest grandson’s wedding at an event center in the area known as the Devil’s Backbone, northwest of San Marcos and northeast of New Braunfels (from which we had just returned the previous Monday). I’m beginning to think we should start calling ourselves the Road Runners. :-) It was an outdoor wedding, and just about the time we arrived the norther arrived, bringing with it winds that must have been 30 mph, but fortunately no rain. The wedding site overlooked a canyon or valley in an area where no road could possibly go straight. They’re all up and down many times, as well as curving first to one side, then to the next, for quite a few miles. A nice area to visit, but we’re glad we don’t own any of that land. Mowing could certainly be a challenge! After the wedding ceremony, while the bridal party was having pictures taken, we joined the other guests (which were close to 200) in the beer garden where various drinks and appetizers were served. I really splurged and had a Coke (and several hors d’oeuvres). Eventually we decided it was too windy to stay outside and moseyed into the adjacent dining area. We found our seats at the “Groom’s Family” table where our salads as well as dinner rolls and butter were awaiting us. After a delicious meal and some live “funk” music and “dancing” we left for our drive to a motel in Schulenburg where we could conveniently get to the dance at the Hallettsville KC Hall the next day.
The dance at Hallettsville was a fundraiser for the Texas Polka Music Museum. They had hired two excellent bands, the Dujka Brothers and the Red Ravens. Naturally, it drew a nice crowd. I hope they made a good return on their money. In case you haven’t visited the museum, it’s located in Schulenburg. They aren’t open every day of the week, so check before you go. The silent auction was a little skimpy this year, but it seemed there were eager participants in other fundraising areas. We got home at a reasonable hour after munching out somewhere along the way. The next day was relegated to doing my Thanksgiving shopping……much later than I prefer to do it, but everything turned out just fine.
We had planned to go to Praha for its annual late-November scholarship fundraiser on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. We had asked them to hold tickets for us at the door, but Friday I was feeling kind of puny with a cold or allergies (yes, from the winds at the wedding, I’m sure), and woke up not feeling energetic at all. In fact, Lee Roy encouraged me to stay in bed, and I did just that until about 1:45, sometimes sleeping and sometimes just really resting. I drank some sports drink for electrolytes when I got up, again at Lee Roy’s urging, but we decided it was much wiser to stay home instead of driving 2-1/2 hours each way plus the dinner and dancing, so I called and told them we would not be able to come and we just stayed home hoping I would be back to normal on Sunday.
Sure enough, I woke up feeling much better, which was good, as we definitely wanted to go to KULP’s Polka Expo at New Taiton, in Lee Roy’s home territory. The Red Ravens were hired for that event. There were plenty of door prizes, as well as a raffle, and food available to purchase. Of course, there was plenty of good music. When we got there a few minutes before noon, a small crowd had gathered waiting for the door to open. Very shortly after we joined that group, they did open the door and we all went seeking seats we would like to occupy for the afternoon. Since the music didn’t start until 2 PM, I decided to eat early so my dancing would not be interrupted. Lee Roy ate later in the day, first chicken noodle soup, and later a hamburger (on an incredibly small bun!), followed by pecan pie. I had a dessert after my chicken salad sandwich and chips, but since we had a homemade pecan pie waiting for us at the house, my dessert was called an apricot kolache, always a nice choice. This dance, which offered many free tickets, drew a huge crowd. We even saw some of Lee Roy’s cousins and second cousins. That was nice. Of course, we saw many dancing friends. It truly seemed like “old home day”. Several more events will be upcoming at the Taiton Community Center, including a public dance on December 17 with Texas Legacy Czech Band playing for the dancers. They really did a great job when they played recently at Wurstfest. The December dance is another Sunday afternoon dance. The hall provides homemade chicken noodle soup, and the dancers bring desserts which are put on a table and shared at intermission. I haven’t decided what I’ll make to take that day, but it will definitely be yummy. Be sure to put that dance on your calendar, along with a notation about the desserts. Then, when you get your new calendar, be sure to put Taiton on it for Sunday, January 28. That’s when they have their 31st annual 3-band Polka Fest, from 1-7 PM. The bands are the Leo Majek Orchestra (from Corpus Christi), the Red Ravens, and Fritz’ Hodde’s Fabulous Six. Three excellent bands. You can’t help but have a great time because it will be great music. Admission will be $10 per person, and they’ll be selling BBQ sandwiches, fried gizzards, and chicken noodle soup. This is another dance that will draw dancers from near and far, and plenty of them.
Well, now that we’ve caught up on dancing events and activities, we hope to see you soon. You don’t have to call us Road Runners, even though we seem to be just that, but it’s always nice to be called Gwen Friend, as one of my friends does. And even though it doesn’t even come close to rhyming, I call him Louis Friend. That’s a nice name to have: Friend. See you soon. Have fun, and be safe. And, of course, God bless!
Lee Roy and I have been Wurstfest “regulars” for 11 years now, all 10 days of the festival each year, totaling 110 consecutive Wurstfest days so far. We had a really wonderful time this year, even more so than in prior years. Unfortunately, the first 4 days of the festival (opening Friday through Monday) were quite hot and humid. It was almost impossible to stay in the Wursthalle during that time frame; therefore, we got very little dancing in while the Jodie Mikula Orchestra from Ennis was playing. We really like that band and would have loved to dance to their excellent music much more than we did, but we decided we were better off dancing in the only air-conditioned facility on the Wurstfest grounds. It also happens to be the only facility with wood floors, and is known as the Stelzenhaus (German for stilt house, as the back of the building is on stilts, clearly in an effort to put it above occasional flood levels of the Guadalupe River which runs directly behind it). Once more, we (mostly Lee Roy) taught many folks how to dance, as we do every year. This year there were about 90 people with whom Lee Roy and I worked to enable them to learn some basics about dancing. Most of those people learned adequately enough that they will be able to build on that base with practice. One Opa (the fellows who do all the hard work to make this festival happen and be successful each year), stopped and talked with Lee Roy and me and happily told us how appreciative he was that last year Lee Roy taught his son how to dance, and this year his daughter would be learning from Lee Roy, too. Each year we (again, mostly Lee Roy) teach anywhere from 50 to 100 folks. So many of them return each year and make it a point to come talk with us and let us know how they are coming along with dancing as well as how their lives are at this point. What a joy it is to form those friendships which have meant a lot to so many of those folks! What a joy it is to be able to impact their lives with something they can enjoy and benefit from forever! So many of the Opas have stopped to talk with us and tell us how happy they are to see us again – and to know that we are there each day of the festival – and they express their appreciation for what we do to promote Wurstfest, polka, and dancing in general, as well as the goodwill that is imparted.
We had a new experience this year, which came about as the result of a phone call we received about a week before Wurstfest. When the phone rang, I could see that it was a San Antonio number, and since we have some members and other friends who live in San Antonio, I went ahead and answered. When the lady on the other end said she found us on the interned and wondered if we ever do volunteer work, I responded that we occasionally do if it is not too far from home. When she told me she is the Activities Director at a residential facility for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients, I knew we would want to do what we could. She wanted to offer the residents a program to coincide with Wurstfest. After talking with Lee Roy about it, I called her back and we agreed that we could come dance for the residents in our German outfits on Friday morning (since we always go to festivals a day early to be sure we don’t miss out on any music and dancing). So, we spent about an hour doing just that, plus I played 3 or 4 songs on the accordion for them. The residents (and a few guests) seemed to really enjoy our dancing and music, and we felt so happy that we were able to make their day a little brighter. Who knows? Maybe this is the start of another tradition.
Back to our Wurstfest experiences, which filled our nights (and some days) with delight. We spent the vast majority of our time at the aforementioned Stelzenhaus, relishing every bit of air conditioning as well as a good wood floor. We even enjoy and appreciate the folks who are hired to keep the beer off the dance floors, the trash picked up, the tables cleared, etc. They are nice people who appreciate the opportunity to earn some extra money, and I can well imagine how much the extra money means to them, especially just ahead of the holidays. Hard workers. Good people. Good friends. Opening weekend we enjoyed the wonderful music of Mark Halata and Texavia Friday through Sunday. Club member Mike Gest plays in that band, and Mark and his wife, Cathy, are also club members. We also heard the Ennis Czech Boys on Friday night and again on Saturday and Sunday. They’re always fun and offer some really lively music. After the waltz contest on Sunday, and music by New Braunfels’ own band, the Seven Dutchmen, we finished our Sunday with Benny Okruhlik’s Texas Sound Check Band. We enjoyed all of their musical offerings, but they really thrilled us by playing the recent You Tube sensation, the Jose Altuve Polka (to the tune of Apples, Peaches, Pumpkin Pie). How ABOUT those World Series champs, the Houston Astros?????!!!! Yeah, look it up on You Tube. You can’t help but LOVE it!!!! And we, of course, couldn’t stand to sit still to that song honoring our most recent Very Special Athlete. When Tuesday and Wednesday came along, the Texas Legacy Czech Band thrilled us with the same song both days.. BTW, THREE members of TLCB are members of THMDC – yes, our club. That would be band leader Bob Suttie, tuba and bass guitar player (and vocalist) Mike Gest, and trumpet and steel guitar player extraordinaire Jimmy Heinsohn. This band did a super job playing at Wurstfest. Be sure and take yourself (and a friend?) to a performance of theirs soon. Check your dance calendar for dates. I know they’ll be playing a public dance at New Taiton on Sunday, December 17. That’s the dance where dancers bring desserts to share after the hall has provided the dancers with delicious homemade chicken noodle soup.
Sunday and Monday we missed hearing a band calling themselves Bohemian Blitz. We had never heard of that band. Turns out, that band is actually the All Around Czechs, led by none other than Brandon Hodde, who is Fritz Hodde’s very talented grandson. The band is filled with other very talented young men, and always is a pleasure to hear and dance to. Sorry we missed them for lack of knowing the name under which they were playing. Another band that uses a pseudonym is the San Antonio Combo, who for Wurstfest call themselves the San Antonio Dutchmen. They did a very decent job, and we were so happy that the numerous children who last year ran amok on the dance floor were not there this year. Parents are the only ones who think their children running amok on the dance floor are so cute, when in actuality, the children are learning that it’s “okay” to run amok on the dance floor, putting themselves and the dancers in danger of falling. As a dancer, you know that’s true! We skipped the Stelzenhaus on Wednesday and Thursday because the Walburg Boys were playing there. They are NOT a dance band. They are a show band. They recognize that they should not be in the hall with the good wood dance floor, and would actually prefer to play in the Little Tent (Das Kleine Zelt). Maybe next year the folks who decide on the entertainment will wake up to that. We hope so. Why waste a good dance floor? Or better yet, why waste the ONLY good dance floor at Wurstfest? So, on Wednesday after TLCB we enjoyed the nationally-popular Squeezebox Band, whose star is none other than the very talented Mollie B. They always put on a great show. Apparently, even Lee Roy and I put on a good show, judging from the loud clapping and cheering for our polka dancing. On asphalt, though, it’s close to impossible to look good dancing – but we did the best we could, and enjoyed it. Thursday we were able to dance again in the Wursthalle because a cool front had arrived a day or two before that. A perfect time to be displaced from Stelzenhaus. We stayed there until the crowd got to be too much, as it always does on College Night (Wurstfest Thursday), when the college kids crowd onto the dance floor with pitchers of beer hanging from both back pockets. You can imagine the result. We caught the last part of the 7:00 PM Squeezebox performance, then the Europa Band which seems to be totally from Europe, but calls Orlando home. Perhaps they perform at Disney World sometimes. After Europa we were able to enjoy a complete show by Squeezebox (and Mollie B, of course), which is always a hit with the audience.
Friday we were back in the Stelzenhaus for the Royal Klobasneks, from Dallas, led by the very talented, knowledgeable (and young!) Matt Tolentino. I say that Matt was born about 75 years too late. He loves the songs from the early 1900′s, and even up through WWII, and not only is he very precise about each note of each piece of music, he is quite knowledgeable about the songs – who wrote it, as well as various other information pertaining to the songs. He’s such a friendly guy, too, and very welcoming. Their music is somewhat different, but truly excellent and enjoyable – and beautiful. Let’s not forget beautiful. They were followed by one of our favorite bands, the Dujka Brothers. Who doesn’t like the Dujka Brothers? No one I know! We enjoyed about 4 hours of their talent before it was time to close Wurstfest for the day.
On Saturday, we started off in Stelzenhaus with the Texas Sound Check band again, and from there we had to go to the small tent to hear master yodeler (and I do mean master!) Kerry Christensen. No doubt the best yodeler we’ve ever heard, and I dare say he is THE best yodeler in the WORLD. Not that we’ve heard all the yodelers, but we truly believe he is beyond compare. And such a nice man, too! Our Wurstfest experience definitely would not be complete without at least one Kerry Christensen performance. We just could NOT do without that! Then it was back to Stelzenhaus for more of the Royal Klobasneks and the Dujka Brothers – until 10:30 when I could not take any more of the young folks who had had way too much beer and were spilling it by the pitcherful as well as by the cupful onto the dance floor and did not care that they were doing it and showing what fools they could be. For one, who wants to spend that kind of money for beer only to end up with it on the floor???? As a non-drinker I absolutely had more of it than I could stand and convinced Lee Roy that we really needed to miss the final two hours of the night, even though we would have to miss out on the last half of the Dujka Brothers. Sunday we started our day at the Wursthalle to enjoy the wonderful and energetic music of the Jimmy Sturr Orchestra (another THMDC member). Unfortunately, the many little children running amok on the dance floor forced us to make an early departure from that facility, even though our intentions were to dance to Jimmy Sturr for his entire performance. So, we were back to the Royal Klobasneks at Stelzenhaus, from there to the polka contest with the Seven Dutchmen playing (and us not winning anything but the hearts of some of the audience), and back to Stelzenhaus for another round of Texas Sound Check. When they closed the Stelzenhaus at 7 PM for a party for the Opas and Omas, we headed to the small tent to listen and dance to the Joe Rogers Big Band, comprised of former students of Joe Rogers, who for some number of years was the band leader at the local high school. The musicians in this once-a-year band play music from WWII and forward to such things as New York, New York. (Think Tommy Dorsey, Glenn Miller, etc.) SO well-performed! Such a pleasure to hear such classics! Every person in the audience appeared to thoroughly enjoy this band and its music. It is always a treat! Once again, Opas, thank you for all you do to give us this festival every year!!!
Along the way, we met some wonderful people who, like us, come to enjoy the music and the dancing. One of the people we met for the first time, Cliff Jasek from San Antonio, is a widower who brought his mother and his twin 10-year-old daughters. What a terrific job he is doing rearing those girls! One plays violin and the other plays the piano, and apparently both girls, Olivia and Julianna, are quite accomplished on the instruments and some bands have shown an interest in having them play in their bands. These girls are so very nice, respectful, courteous, and lovely in every way. Cliff credits his deceased wife, whose three criteria for rearing children successfully and having a happy family he tries to follow. That is (1) Respect, (2) Be happy, and (3) Strong character. It certainly seems to have brought about results that we all would like to achieve. We also met a very nice young couple from San Marcos, Nick and Ivette Wilhelm (I hope I have that correct!), and Nick’s mother plays in the Seven Dutchmen. What a lovely young couple this is, and they followed us after the waltz contest into the Stelzenhaus. And we saw again this year the family whose middle and oldest sons got dance lessons from Lee Roy last year and picked it up wonderfully. (Peter is the middle son, but I don’t know the others’ names.) This year we saw that there is a younger son, and clearly their mom has been working with him teaching him Lee Roy’s method in their kitchen, as he has really and truly learned how to dance and wants to learn it better so he can really be a good dancer. What a wonderful family this is, and all three boys are, once more, very courteous, respectful, and really nice young men. Such a blessing! They will definitely get along well in this world, and will make a positive contribution to society. And then there is Vicky, of Asian descent, a nurse practitioner at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, who eagerly sought dance lessons from Lee Roy. Another delightful young lady! I certainly can’t forget Kristi (not sure of the spelling), a single mom who was the guest of Opa Cesar Castilleja and is also a single mom of two young ladies 18 & 19. Such nice folks Kristi and Cesar are, and definitely an asset to New Braunfels. It’s truly such a joy to be able to interact with such wonderful people as these – and many more. So, yes, it truly was a WONDERFUL WURSTFEST in the ways that really count! We hope you are fortunate enough to have some similar experiences – and to have them in conjunction with the dancing that we love so much……WOW, what a blessing!
Now, Thanksgiving is coming, but there’s dancing you can enjoy before it arrives, and more afterward. Let’s meet up on the dance floor!
Mollie B and Squeezebox Band will be coming to Texas in January while they are en route to Florida for their annual cruise which features several bands including the Grammy-winning Jimmy Sturr Orchestra. Jimmy, by the way, is a member of our club, Texas Heritage Music & Dancing Club (THMDC). I talked with a lady at Houston’s SPJST Lodge 88 today (October 30) to find out details on how you can get tickets to their January 14 dance featuring Mollie and Squeezebox. They are appearing elsewhere in Texas, too, including in the Rio Grande Valley, Cyclone’s Flag Hall, Hallettsville’s KC Hall, and Round Top’s Rifle Association Hall. For details on where and when they will be in the various locations, go to www.squeezeboxband.com. BUT, below is the information for obtaining tickets to Houston’s Lodge 88:
Tickets can be requested and purchased beginning November 1. If you wish to go there in person to buy tickets, call first at 713-869-5767. Alternatively, you can mail your request, along with your check, to SPJST Lodge 88, 1435 Beall Street, Houston, TX 77008. The price is $15 pp if purchased ahead of January 14, or $20 pp at the door. This is always a popular event, so don’t delay.
Yes, at some point when October comes around it becomes AAHctober. My fave month, for sure. We lack beautiful mountains and spectacular fall color, but right now it’s just about perfect weather, very decent temps, very low humidity, AND POLKA DANCING!!! How lucky can we be???? Oh, AND the Amazin’ Astros are in the World Series! Now let’s hope they can win the Series. It would be a first, and definitely deserved! As for dancing, we got two doses this weekend, and they were good. The Wallis Dance Club’s monthly dance was Saturday night, and unfortunately it was a light crowd to enjoy the Central Texas Sounds. Sadly, this band is retired now, with their last gig on Sunday. They’ve given the dancers many years of good music. Some of the band members will still be active in the band Lost Cause, led by Tim and Alicia Kulhanek. They are very capable of continuing in the steps (notes?) of the now-retired Central Texas Sounds. Be sure to go dance to this band (Lost Cause) when you can. They do a very good job. We got some bad news when we arrived at the hall in Wallis: The club will be active only through their November dance, which will be November 18. The folks who have given so generously of their time are simply unable to continue doing that, so unless someone else steps up, this club will no longer exist in 2018. There is one couple who wants to do that job, and they are to go before the Legion’s board of directors on November 7 to try to gain approval. They are John & Sue Kopecky, who live about 4 blocks from the hall, and John serves as the bartender. Not only that, but he also takes care of the hall and its grounds in many other ways. Let’s hope (and pray) that the Kopeckys’ efforts to keep this club alive and well will be granted. There is one final dance left in this year for this club, as mentioned above, and the members will be served a BBQ dinner ahead of the dance on November 18. The dance will start at 8:00 PM, and the dinner will start (I believe) at 7 PM. The food will be catered by Peters BBQ in Fayetteville, and they are well known for good barbecue. Odessa will be playing for the club. Whether you’re a member or a “guest”, please be sure to use your best efforts to support this club by going to this dance, and if a member by going to the dinner also. And let folks know that we need to support ALL of our dance clubs, ALL of our halls, and ALL of our bands. Do we want our dancing to stop??? I think I just heard a very loud “NO!!!!!” Let’s keep our dancing going. Support every effort to keep our dancing alive and well.
Sunday we headed off to Schulenburg for the next-to-the-last 2017 dance of the Swiss Alp Dance Club at the KC Hall. We had talked about dropping by Bellville for the church bazaar (Sts. Peter & Paul), BUT we must have really needed our sleep, as we didn’t even wake up until 9 AM and then weren’t ready to get up, so we slept another hour. That was really welcome, as we had several extra things last week that had gotten us out of bed earlier than usual. So, the bottom line is that we did NOT have time to stop in Bellville where Mark Halata & Texavia was playing for the bazaar (interrupted for the live auction, though). We always try to go to Halata’s dances, but our sleep took precedence this time. We also decided to dance to the always wonderful and always very nice Al Sulak’s Country Sounds (and polka, of course!) at Schulenburg rather than going to the Red Ravens’ performance at the Sweet Home Community Center, as the dance floor at Sweet Home is (1) tile, and (2) quite small. We knew there would be a big crowd there, so dancing would likely not have been too much fun with having to almost fight your way through a packed dance floor. Undoubtedly, though, there were more folks there than could be seated. As you know, the Red Ravens are a crowd favorite. The folks at Schulenburg all seemed to be having a good time. I know we were, and it was very nice to be able to visit awhile with club members Cynthia & Walt Rognerud. They are always very pleasant folks. I was somewhat jealous when she was telling me about their recent 7 weeks on the east coast with their daughter and her family, including the three days they were up in the northeast with the fall color. I’ve been there a couple of times in October and it made me want to go again. BTW, the Swiss Alp Dance Club will be having its final dance of 2017 on December 10, with the wonderful music of Moonglow Orchestra. This band is led by club member Mike Gest, who is an excellent musician. The music they play will always be done “just right”, and you can hear some music from them that you won’t hear by many other bands, such as the exceptionally beautiful “Tulips From Amsterdam”, a very, very lovely waltz. They also play some other of my favorites, like “Mack the Knife” and “New York, New York”, as well as my very own composition (yes, written by me), “Waltzing With You In My Arms”, also beautiful, thanks to God’s input!
Speaking of December dancing, some of you know that Lee Roy and I have helped to host a Christmas dance at the Wallis American Legion for several years. Sadly, that dance will no longer be held. Host couples were dropping out and more could not be found. So, don’t save the date for that dance! Instead, you know there will be a dance at the Schulenburg KC Hall, mentioned in the previous paragraph. Definitely don’t let that day not be a dancing day for you!!!
It’s always wonderful to get in two dances over a weekend. More is always great, too, but we’ll always be happy to have at least two. You, too, I’ll bet. This past weekend we enjoyed a special treat on Saturday night with the Happy Cousins Dance Club at the Rosenberg American Legion hall – a delicious dinner that was paid for with our annual dues to this club. I haven’t yet found out who prepared the food, but it was really quite delicious – fried chicken (yes, very hot and very crisp, as if it had just come from the fryer), green bean casserole (which was gone by the time we ate, after most members had already gotten their food), okra gumbo, mashed potatoes, white gravy and brown gravy, bread and tea. Members brought desserts, and the ones I tasted were quite yummy. The desserts were left on the table for non-members to enjoy, so we personally didn’t have to bring any of our dessert home. The band, Odessa, actually started playing their music at a quarter till eight. That was nice since most folks at that time were just visiting and waiting for the music so they could start dancing. This band plays mostly country, but did play a few polkas and waltzes (some of which were country also). Most of the time this band consists of three guitars and a drum set. Occasionally an accordion made a brief appearance, and it was certainly welcomed by us. Anyway, it was danceable music and most of the time the dance floor had quite a few dancers, so that is good. We left about half an hour early because we had to get up earlier than usual on Sunday and we didn’t want to be groggy.
Sunday when we headed to Shelby’s Harmonie Hall for a private dance, the car thermometer showed that it was 84 degrees (much too hot for October!), but by the time we got to the hall it was 75 degrees where it still was when we headed home about 7 PM. Charles & the Fabulous 4 played for us, and that band definitely has risen several notches on the scale where bands are rated. Where is this scale, you ask? Well, I think each of us has one in his or her own head – don’t we? This band mostly plays country, but they do it very well, and they also don’t necessarily play the same songs from gig to gig. They know how to play Czech and German songs as well, even though their repertoire is mostly country. Some of their polkas were really outstanding! It was a really enjoyable dance, and everyone seemed to be having a really good time. I know we did! Good music, wonderful dance floor, good company, and yummy food was shared. What more could you want? I know we were happy when we left. Very satisfied.
We hope you also had a good dancing weekend. If you didn’t, it’s your own fault, for there were certainly plenty of dances from which to choose. Oktoberfest season is in full swing. Anyone can find a dance at this time of year if they want to, so be sure to check the schedules for the halls and the bands and find something you’ll be sure to enjoy. See you soon, we hope.
Most of you know Rose Wilshire, whose significant other is Mike Gest, leader of Moonglow Orchestra and Night Session Band, and who also plays tuba and bass guitar and does great vocals with Texas Legacy Czech Band and with Mark Halata & Texavia. Well, sadly, Rose’s uterine cancer has returned. The prognosis is not good, at Stage 4, but we all know that prayer is a powerful tool, and miracles do happen if it is meant to be. So, if you would be so kind, please include Rose (and Mike) on your prayer list. It would surely be appreciated. Rose is a shining light at dances where she goes with Mike, always so happy to be at a dance, and always with a beautiful smile on her face and in her heart. Please be part of a prayer group for Rose to achieve success in her battle with this disease – and for peace in her heart or whatever you feel is needed at this time.
We took off for Fredericksburg on Thursday for its annual Oktoberfest, always the first weekend in October. It starts on Friday and runs through Sunday. Since we stay several nights we take our little travel trailer along so we can mostly eat food that is not typical festival food (which certainly gets old!). Maybe I should say boring, as well as not usually healthy for folks…..though I’ll surely admit that I like quite a few foods that are not healthy for me, like hot dogs, one of my faves. Friday’s dancing at the Marktplatz starts at 6 PM and stops at midnight. We were quite disappointed in a lot of the band and entertainment lineup this year. For starters, the first band up in the Adelsvereins Halle was one we had never heard, Alpine Village Band, and frankly we hope we never have to hear them again. The first bands in the other venues were not too appealing either, though we’ve always enjoyed Oma & the Oompahs who played in the Main Street Tent. We were unable to leave the Adelsvereins Halle because we were saving seats (and a table) for friends, so we suffered through the exceptionally fast and loud polkas of the Alpine Village Band. They played a few songs other than polkas, but even some of those they played in a very fast polka tempo. The female vocalist was good, but the music that went with her was NOT. What a relief it was when they were finished! The next band up was one of our very favorites, the Sound Connection, led by Gary Kunkel. This band does not have a heavy schedule because some of its musicians have retired from regular playing, and Gary has a very busy work schedule, which doesn’t always have the same hours each week. It’s always such a treat to be able to hear them and dance to their outstanding music. As always, they were kind enough to play one of my very favorite songs, the beautiful waltz, “Tulips From Amsterdam”. Truly, truly beautiful! After the Sound Connection, the Red Ravens set up, and it took quite awhile to get the sound right – lots of attention from the sound engineer – but when they did get started it was very enjoyable, and lots of folks danced.
Saturday we started off in the Kinder Halle, a smaller version of the Adelsvereins Halle. The first band to play was the Cloverleaf Orchestra from New Braunfels, followed by a very good Hermann Sons Mixed Choir which had a rather eccentric, but excellent, maestro. Next up was the always-excellent Jodie Mikula Orchestra from Ennis. At 2:30, rather staying in the smaller halle for the Czech Melody Masters from Austin, we went to the much larger venue (Adelsvereins) to hear and dance to Chris Rybak’s band. Our friend, Mason Nesvadba, who is halfway through his college career, majoring in music with the goal of becoming a school band leader, was playing tuba with Chris’ band. It’s always a pleasure to see this nice young man……and also a pleasure to dance to Chris’ music. Next up was a group called the Schuhplattlers, who perform what is supposed to be entertainment, but we were not impressed. Very little that they do requires any degree of talent. I took some time to leave that area to see if either of our friends we were expecting had arrived. Unfortunately, that did not take up much time, so I had to sit through more of this group. I did, however, happen across a school buddy of Lee Roy’s who now lives in Fredericksburg and who is, with his wife, involved in the volunteer organization that puts on this Oktoberfest. His name is Billy Treude, and he is a retired Methodist minister. Such a nice man, and I was so happy to see him. Lee Roy was so happy about it, too, and immediately came to visit a short while with him. We are talking about a friendship that goes back to first grade. Lee Roy is now 81, so you can do the math….. They were two buddies of a group of 5 or 6 boys who were close friends all through school and beyond. Friends. What a lovely addition to one’s life! After that we heard the Red Ravens again, but when the Walburg Boys came on, we tried to stay and listen, but it just was not appealing. That is definitely NOT a dance band. So, we went to the smaller venue and finished our evening with Czech & Then Some, a very good band from Ennis. Unfortunately, that meant we missed out totally on hearing/dancing to New Braunfels’ Seven Dutchmen, whom we consider good friends. Both Friday and Saturday we enjoyed visiting with, dancing with our friends from Clovis, NM, who had brought their 4 grandchildren who are siblings. These children are 3, 6, 11 and 13, and they all are very capable dancers and love to do it, thanks to Grandma Susie and Grandpa Frank Oborny. Their grandchildren are very well-behaved and pleasant. They always are a big hit with other people at dances, who are amazed to see children this young dancing so well and not only dancing well, but loving it. Isn’t that great??? We also got to visit with our German friend, Egon Spieker, who vacations in Texas each fall at the time Fredericksburg has its Oktoberfest. He has a Harley at home, so he rents a Harley near Houston’s Intercontinental Airport and drives mostly around the Hill Country enjoying both our Texas weather (if not too hot) and our scenery. It was interesting to hear him Saturday night saying about a particular song and the “dancing” that went with it, that “This is just like in Germany, except goes on until 5 or 6 in the morning.”
We had to leave for home on Sunday instead of staying for the final day of Oktoberfest, as we had agreed to teach dancing again this year at Bellville’s O’Bryant Primary School (grades K-3) as a part of their German Heritage Day, which last year and this was divided into two days, on Monday and Tuesday, with different classes each day. We hope that these efforts will result in at least some of the children embracing our heritage dancing as part of what they like to do. At least we try for that.
Now, have you decided what you’ll be doing in the next few days – or should I say where you’ll be dancing? Let’s hope we’ll all be dancing somewhere. If you’re a member of Rosenberg’s Happy Cousins Dance Club, don’t forget that Saturday the members, as part of their annual dues, will be treated to a nice dinner at 6 PM, and members are supposed to bring desserts to share. As always, non-members are welcome to come dance with the members at the American Legion hall at the usual dance time, 8 – 11:30 PM. Other dances will be happening this weekend, so we hope to see you somewhere.
We enjoyed dancing at the annual Hallettsville Kolache Fest at the KC Hall in Hallettsville on Saturday. We couldn’t get there in time for the parade in the AM or in time for the music and dancing to start, but we arrived about 12:30 and shortly went to the small dance floor where the Dujka Brothers were playing, as we had not heard them for too long. It’s always enjoyable to dance to the music of these talented brothers who also are such nice people and interact well with any crowd. On their final piece, Beer Barrel Polka, I danced with a very nice young man, Connor, who is in the 8th grade in Hallettsvile. What a beautiful example of a youngster having been reared right – such a nice young man who also was able to hold a good conversation, and yes, he knows how to polka. Learned it from his mother “in the kitchen”. Way to go, Mom! At the same time, Lee Roy was teaching a friend of Connor’s how to polka. Surely she was able to get at least the basics. Both youngsters had smiles on their faces. And, girls, this young man is going to be a terrific catch for someone. All American looks, clean-cut, great personality, and I’d be willing to bet he’s also a very good student. I’ll look forward to our next Hallettsville dancing to see if Connor is there. After the Dujkas finished their gig, we went back to the much larger dancing area (in the biergarten, they call it) where Mark Halata & Texavia had wound up their first gig, and the Red Ravens were about to play. Mark Halata & Texavia played again at 4 PM after the Ravens had finished, so we got some more of a much-needed “Halata-fix”. Many friends and acquaintances were there, incuding a young lady from Victoria, Cathy, whom we had met last year at Victoria’s Czech Heritage Fest. How lovely it was to see her again. Such a beautiful and friendly lady. Her husband was working that day (he’s a fireman and EMT), so we’ll have to wait to see them both at Wurstfest, where they will celebrate their 11th anniversary. That will be nice! We saw another couple there who had seen us at Wurstfest and who also see us on RFD-TV on the Mollie B Polka Show, and we saw so many other folks that we see quite frequently. I really don’t understand how any folks can enjoy their lives without the pleasure of dancing and the socializing with so many nice folks!
We left the KC grounds just about 6 PM and headed down the road another 14 miles to the Shiner Methodist Church for their annual free dance (their gift to the community) with the Red Ravens playing. They don’t charge any admission, but welcome dancers’ donations of canned goods for the food pantry to assist those in need. The church and its members always have a bounty of food available for everyone to eat, including homemade chicken noodle soup (always delicious), sandwiches, chips, sweets, and cold soda water. A couple of years ago I started bringing some sandwiches to put on the food table. After all, the church and their members are so generous it surely doesn’t hurt to bring something to add to what they’ve provided. It’s always a very nice treat at this event, and we love the folks who make it happen.
We had talked about going to Hostyn on Sunday for their church picnic, but Lee Roy wanted to get the mowing finished and I always seem to be behind in my various chores. So, we decided we needed to stay home. A good and sensible choice, even though we missed hearing the Incredible Music Makers and once more the Dujka Brothers. Maybe next year.
BTW, many thanks to all who offered up some prayers for Lee Roy’s safety when he was repairing our dining room ceiling from Hurricane Harvey rain that made its way onto the 14-foot ceiling from our concrete tile roof. He made the repairs from the top rung of an 8-foot somewhat wobbly ladder, which was on top of our dining room table, whose legs were resting on the equivalent of 2 x 8′s under both pairs of legs, which 2 x 8 equivalents were laying on top of 5-gallon paint buckets. Praise be to God for keeping Lee Roy safe!!! I would really miss that fella if anything were to happen to him. Well, where are we going to see you next? Will it be at Fredericksburg’s Oktoberfest? Maybe it will be the next weekend at Rosenberg’s American Legion hall for the monthly dance of the Happy Cousins Dance Club (always open to the public). Well, whether we see you or not, be sure to keep on dancing! We’ll surely see you somewhere down the line.
You know, a battle dance, with two bands alternating time on the stage. It happened at the West KC Hall on Sunday. We had not been there in quite some time. It’s a wonderful place to dance – friendly people, always good music, and usually a delicious dinner ahead of time. We were disappointed this time, though, because in lieu of a dinner to purchase, they had hamburgers and steak sandwiches for sale starting at 2 PM. The hall had foregone their dinner Sunday because nearby, at Tours, they were having their church picnic, and they didn’t want to affect that event negatively. Since we had only had a little bit of fruit for breakfast in anticipation of the dinner we had expected, I munched out on some homemade trash, which held me until we could get burgers. They were good, and we made do with them, but we surely did miss their yummy dinner. Oh, well. Such is life. I do need to lose a little more weight. (Someone I share a home with makes sure I’m aware that I need to lose some more weight – AND exercise!) Actually, I do agree. Anyway, this was the only dance we had for this past weekend, but it was a good one. The dance opened with music by the Jodie Mikula Orchestra. I’ve only found one thing wrong with this band: They are located too far away (in Ennis) for us to get to hear and dance to them very often. It’s always such a pleasure to hear their music! When Lee Roy and I were dating, he told me his two favorite bands were this one and the Lee Roy Matocha Band……and when I heard each of them, I said I could definitely see why they were his faves. When we dance to the Jodic Mikula Orchestra we get a little bit of the Lee Roy Matocha Band because Lee Roy’s daughter, Janice, plays keyboard with the Mikulas. Her hubby, Mike Marek, plays tuba with the Mikulas, so that’s convenient. Janice was a part of her dad’s band that Lee Roy really liked, though back then she played on a piano (which I hope they didn’t have to haul around! :-) She also sang in her dad’s band.
The second band to battle was a genuine country band, Texas Heartbeat Band, led by the very talented (and very nice) Roger Kirby. He and wife Charlene (Charlie) live in Elm Mott, just above Waco, so they play a lot in that area. They also come to plenty of polka dances just to dance (though quite often the band asks him to come up on the stage to sing). He has a wonderful voice. Mostly during their first time on stage we did not dance, as we were munching out on our burgers. When we finished with that, we had to go check out the Texans-Patriots game on the TV in the bar. Lee Roy had checked on it a couple times earlier and the Texans were doing quite well. Unfortunately, in the last minute of the game the Patriots scored a touchdown and won the game 36-33. BUT, no one has a reason to be unhappy with the Texans’ showing, for sure. I do believe they may finally have an excellent quarterback, something they’ve always lacked. So, get behind them, Texans fans! Personally, I’m a real football fan. I think it would be nice if they played their games during the week so we wouldn’t have to miss football when we dance. Hmmm. I wonder how that would go over with the league…..
Just a little note to tell you about the flood damage from the swollen Colorado River that Joe & Pattie Zetka suffered from Hurricane Harvey. Their one-acre property whose back property line is the Colorado River was totally destroyed, with 5 feet of the river in it despite Joe’s having raised the house 20″ after rains from the last couple of years had come too close for comfort. Very, very sadly, Joe lost all of his instruments that were on the property in his studio. That included several accordions, a guitar, and other instruments. In case you aren’t aware, Joe is a very talented musician. He now plays regularly with the Jodie Mikula Orchestra, and Ken Mikula, when introducing the band members, likes to say they haven’t found anything Joe can’t play. I believe that statement is “right on”. He sings quite well, too. So, remember Joe and Pattie and all they’re having to deal with at this time. The best thing about it is that they were not there when it flooded, so they are still alive and well. Thanks be to God.
We hope we will get to see you at Hallettsville’s KC Hall this coming Saturday, the 30th. They’ll be having their annual Kolache Festival, a day-long event with lots of music. Dancing is outside in the covered pavilion, two different locations. It’s always a fun event. After that, the Shiner Methodist Church hosts a free-to-the-public dance with the Red Ravens playing. It’s from 7-11, so you can still get home about the regular time. Take along a can of food for your admission, which the church will donate to needy families in Shiner. It doesn’t hurt to bring some food to share with everyone. It’s not required, nor asked, but we’ve decided it’s something we can do since we help eat the food and drink the drinks (no liquor) that the church members provide. Seating is limited, as this is a popular dance. See you soon! And then it’s October, my favorite month of the year. It usually has a little bit of fall in the air, something I always welcome.
Saturday night we had several choices. It was the 3rd Saturday of the month, which means the Wallis Dance Club was having its monthly dance, and The Twilights were playing. This band is not well-known, as they aren’t able to have many bookings. Yes, a day job usually pays more than playing in a band. The annual Summer Fling held in late August had to be postponed thanks to Hurricane Harvey, and it was rescheduled for September 16. We usually go to that KC2917 off I-45 & Airline on the north side of Houston. It’s a nice evening of dinner, dancing, some drawings including a raffle for various amounts of cash up to $5,000. The Red Ravens play for that. Then there was the first of two Oktoberfest dances at Houston’s Liederkranz which drew a very nice crowd. Mike Gest’s Night Session Band played for that one, to everyone’s delight. We wanted to get a good night’s sleep (read: earlier to bed and later to arise) so that we could arrive at Sealy’s American Legion Hall the next day with plenty of rest to set up the hall for our first of three club dances this fiscal year. BUT, thanks to Hurricane Harvey, there was not a motel room in Sealy available to us, or probably in the entire Houston area. SO, we decided to go to Wallis for their dance and spend the night in our own bed. After all, it’s better to be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed if possible, but it’s also usually better to spend the sleep hours in your own bed. The dance at Wallis was quite good. Because of the other dances going on, the crowd was a little light, but not too bad. The music was enjoyable and danceable, and there were plenty of folks with whom to visit. And we got a decent night’s sleep.
Sunday was a very important day, as our club dance, with Charles & the Fabulous 4 was that afternoon, the first dance of our new fiscal year, which runs from July 1 through June 30. We plan to have two more dances this fiscal year, and the second one will be the afternoon of March 11 at the Sealy American Legion hall. We hardly had any seats vacant, and everyone was having a terrific time. Besides that, we put a little money in the bank, which helps to ensure that we can have more dances! How about that? So many folks, both members and non-members, brought items to put in the silent auction. Two Sealy-ites won $137 in the 50-50 pot. That would be Roy and Eugenia Liebscher, who are always willing workers at whatever event. I had passed out the last of our flyers for this dance the night before at Wallis, and lots of those folks came, even though prior to the Wallis dance they had not made plans to come to our dance. Roy even made sure our dance was announced at Wallis. Good things come to good people. Many of the Wallis dancers were swayed to come by the fact that they really like the band, and I must say Charles and his band have really gotten to be good. They mostly play country songs, but they are quite capable of playing waltzes, polkas, Czech songs, German songs, etc., and did so at our dance. I do believe everyone went home very happy. That’s our goal. Give folks more dances so that our dancing can continue in good health, not on life support. That way we help ourselves as well as future generations. Yes, I definitely call our dance a great success.
Looking forward to next weekend, since the Czech Heritage Festival at Victoria was cancelled (once more it was Hurricane Harvey messing things up), it left our dancing plans sort of lean. There is a dance on Sunday at the West KC Hall that sounds very appealing. It’s a battle between a country band (Roger Kirby’s Texas Heartbeat) and a polka band (the Jodie Mikula Orchestra), which are two outstanding bands. The hall always serves a delicious meal as part of their dances, especially the battle dances. The doors will open at 11 AM. Make a note of that, as you don’t want to miss the meal or any other part of it. It’s possibly a little farther than you usually travel to dances, but I’ll assure you it’ll be worth it. Don’t forget that the following weekend Hallettsville’s KC hall has its annual Kolache Festival, followed immediately by the free dance that the Shiner United Methodist Church puts on as its gift to the public, and the Red Ravens will be playing. Isn’t that nice??? They do ask dancers to bring a food item that will help the folks who are struggling. What a deal for everyone! That will happen on Saturday, September 30……so, get ready for more fun! I hope to see you at a dance soon!
Joe Blackmon. Remember that name. If you don’t know Joe and his lovely wife Leona, you need to get to know them. They are very loving people. Not only do they love each other, they also love everyone else. Yes, they genuinely do love other people – AND they don’t mind showing it. We are lucky that these two wonderful friends also are in Lee Roy’s extended family, and it makes me happy to know them and to call them friends. This couple quite often stops off at either Elgin to buy some sausage at Meyer’s or at La Grange to buy kolaches at Weikel’s, to bring to dances where they’ve been invited, because they want to share with others. How generous and loving is that? Now, on Sunday, at Elgin, Joe came and sat beside me and said he was there “on business” and explained that they want to help keep our dancing strong and so they are giving personal checks to dance clubs in our area. With that, Joe handed me a check for $125. I was stunned, but knowing these two lovely people, I should not have been surprised. So, our club’s bank account grew on Monday by $125. Thank you, Joe and Leona!!!!! (Joe and Leona, by the way, are 10-year members of THMDC.) You continue to amaze us and to endear yourselves to everyone!!! God bless, and thank you for your generous, kind, and loving hearts. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if everyone in the world were as loving as Joe and Leona? What a beautiful thing that would be! The world would be so much better. One by one, we can do it! Remember to work at helping this world to be more like Joe and Leona! I feel blessed just knowing that I can call them both “friend”.
Sorry to be late getting this missive done, but it seems like I always have more “to do’s” than available time. Does that happen to you? Maybe it’s because I’m getting older??? That’s a good thing, and something I embrace. Who wants the alternative? I’m not ready for it. Yes, I know. It really doesn’t matter if I am ready for it. The One who decides these things will decide it for me when He determines it’s time…..as He does for everyone. Well, the title of this little posting lets you know where we were this past weekend – and it was SO VERY wonderful to be dancing again, and I’ll never complain about 2 dances in a weekend. That’s quite normal for us, and I hope it’s normal for you, too. I was sad to learn just today, though, that Houston’s SPJST #88 has cancelled their annual Czech Day, which we were looking forward to on October 1. It’s my guess they had some damage that will not be repaired in time for this event. It will settle down, in due time. Meantime, we’ll pray for the folks who were so negatively affected by Harvey and also for those who were in the line of destruction wreaked by Irma.
So, on to our dancing. Saturday we enjoyed Al Sulak’s Country Sounds which played at the Rosenberg American Legion for the monthly dance of the Happy Cousins Dance Club. I don’t know who all are cousins. None of them are our cousins, although sometimes one or two of Lee Roy’s second cousins go to that dance with their wives. It’s always nice to see them there. Al Sulak’s band does a very good job, and they don’t waste any time between songs, going quickly from one to the next all night long. Al and his sister, Marie, have excellent voices, by far the best voices in any bands we know. Al’s voice is a deep bass, and Marie reminds a lot of folks of the late Patsy Cilne. It’s always a pleasure to go to a dance when this band is playing, and Saturday was no exception. Next month this club will hold its dance on October 14, and for members they will be having a dinner starting at 6 PM. Members are asked to bring a dessert to share, whatever your little heart desires (and whatever you have time to prepare). I don’t have information at hand regarding which band will be playing, but I’m certain you will like it. Now, if you’re NOT a member of this club, don’t arrive in time for dinner. Only members will be allowed in at that time, one of the benefits of being a member.
Sunday we took off for Elgin’s SPJST #18, to hear Mark Halata & Texavia. Mark has been a member of our club (Texas Heritage Music & Dance Club) for several years, along with Mike Gest, who was the first musician to come to us and want to join our club, and we really appreciated that. Mike, as you may know, plays tuba and bass guitar and does some vocals for Texavia. He also has a “big band”, Moonglow Orchestra, and several smaller bands called Night Session and variations of that name, as well as playing with Texas Legacy Czech Band. That’s another example of how the dancers need the bands and the individual musicians, the halls need the dancers, the bands need dancers and halls in which to play, etc. - SO, if you want to keep on enjoying our dancing, make it a point to support the bands, the halls, and the other dancers, and know that by doing so you’ll not only be able to continue your own dancing, but future generations will also be able to enjoy dancing like we do. It was really wonderful to enjoy the music offered by Texavia, as we don’t get to hear them enough, and they are quite good. It was a pretty good crowd. The dances at Elgin are always 3-7 on Sundays, and of course sometimes they rent out the hall for private parties. It’s a great parquet wood floor at Elgin, easy to dance on, and the people who run the hall and those who go to the hall are always so friendly and welcoming. It’s always a pleasure to be there and to see folks we don’t see too often. Several of our club members were there, including Mark Halata, Mike Gest, Mike’s lady friend Rose Wilshire, Norman Smoot, Linda Maiorana, Patsy Polasek, JoAn Slafka, Joe and Leona Blackmon, and of course Lee Roy and me. I hope I didn’t leave out any of our members who were there. It was SO GOOD also to see new bride (since early May) Jennifer Weber Kaluza and her husband, Brandon, and we also got to wish “Happy Birthday” to our friend from Granger, Glynis Harfmann. Glynis’ husband, Walt, has taught her to play the accordion and also taught the aforementioned Patsy Polasek. It was with great pleasure that we heard (and saw) them all three play with the band for two or three songs.
One thing I don’t want to fail to mention is that Rose Wilshire who was mentioned in the preceding paragraph, and who is a member of our club, has been diagnosed recently with uterine cancer for the second time in less than a year. SO, please keep her in your prayers both for going through chemo again and for having a positive outcome. If you don’t have her address and would like to send her a card, I’ll be glad to send her address to you if you’ll send me an email asking for it. I haven’t met a single person yet who can’t benefit from prayers, and I believe most people appreciate that other folks care enough to want to pray for them. For sure, it doesn’t hurt to offer up prayers, whether for yourself or for someone else. I thank you for caring.
Now, don’t forget that we have our next club dance on Sunday, September 17. Yes, that’s this coming Sunday. The doors at the Sealy American Legion hall will open to the public at 1 PM, and the dance iss from 2-5:30 PM. The very popular Charles & the Fabulous 4 will be playing for us. They mostly play country music, but have agreed to play 6-8 waltzes, 6-8 polkas, and some Czech songs, sung in Czech. They are quite capable of doing this, so whatever your favorite type of music is, they can do it. Maybe not rhumbas and other Latin music, but most anything you’ll hear at a “polka dance”. The American Legion hall is right next door to McDonald’s on Hwy. 36 (the main drag through Sealy), and across the street from the very popular Tony’s Restaurant. We hope to see you there! AND…..I’ve already made some dewberry jelly and peach, pecan & amaretto jam for the silent auction, and will be making a poppyseed cake as well as one or two batches of candy – Pecan Candy To-Die-For and/or pecan pralines. Yum!!! I’ll try not to bribe Lee Roy into bidding on them to bring them home. Still need to lose several more pounds! BUT – YOU could make the winning bid and take something home with you! See you Sunday, I hope!!!
For dancers, Harvey came at a very bad time. Hey, who wants to dance not even ONE time during a week or weekend??? Surely not us, and most likely not you either! Then along comes September and although we planned to go to the dance at Eagle Lake’s Community Center (always the first Friday of the month), the Supaks, who have made sure this dance continues for the past 25 years, decided the wise thing would be to cancel the dance, and I certainly concur. They wanted to be sure none of the dancers encountered any flood problems en route to or from the dance, and as we’ve seen on TV several more times in recent days, driving in the dark when flood waters could be around is a quick way to leave this earth. For myself, I’m not feeling ready for that – though I definitely recognize that I am not the one who will be making that decision when the time does come! Anyway, we had been looking forward to dancing to the music of Lost Cause once again, but it was not to be this time. That disappointment came on the heels of the prior weekend when both dances we had planned to enjoy were canceled, thanks to the now-infamous Harvey! That was Saturday’s (August 26) annual Summer Fling fundraising event (dinner/dance/raffle) at KC2917 on the north side of Houston, just off I-45 and Airline. It’s always such a fun event, and the Red Ravens always play for it. It’s been going on for many years. Then the dance we had planned to attend on Sunday was also canceled, a dance at Shelby’s Harmonie Hall that we had been invited to. We had been looking forward to that partly because the dance floor at Shelby is such a wonderful one, and partly because we had not danced to the music of Jerry Haisler & the Melody 5 in quite some time, and of course because we could visit again with friends we don’t see as often as some others……but, clearly, it was not meant to be. The flood waters had closed many roads, as you know, including the road we take from Brenham to Shelby. No, I’m not ready to leave this earth yet, and hope it’s not that way when it does happen.
Because we had missed so much dancing we were really eager to get to Sealy’s American Legion hall on Saturday (September 2). It was a lightly attended dance, but we are happy that some folks did make it there. After what seemed like far too many days inside, we and some others were glad to get out of the house and back onto a dance floor. Some of our friends who were there also were planning to attend the church picnic today at Hallettsville and possibly the one at Fayetteville. For our part, Lee Roy wanted to get some more work done in the yard (picking up after you-know-who, whose name starts with an “H”…., and hopefully getting a little mowing done before the next rain arrives). And for myself, I find I am really late in getting some more dances on the schedule, so no dancing for us today! The dance was a good one, and everyone there seemed to have a good time. The Country Knights played for us, and most of the music sounded good to our ears, especially Craig Schmidt’s steel guitar playing and his vocals. With this band, there were some exceptions, but mostly the music was appealing, and after all, each of us has our own ideas about what’s good and what’s not. Keep an eye on the dance schedule, as some of this weekend’s church picnics had to be either canceled or rescheduled. It would be a shame to drive some distance to go to one and find it isn’t happening when you thought it would.
Don’t forget that our own club dance will be in two weeks. It’ll be on Sunday, September 17, at the Sealy American Legion hall from 2-5:30 PM (so you can get home before dark, or at least be in familiar territory when dark-thirty comes). The band will be the very popular Charles & the Fabulous 4, so be sure to come! Naturally, members are free. Non-members will be paying only $5 each. It’s definitely better to be a member! For one thing, your dues help keep our dancing alive and well, and for another thing we are planning to have THREE DANCES this fiscal year! We are stretching your “dues dollars”! If you haven’t paid your dues yet, you can pay them at the dance. If you’re not already a member, you are certainly welcome to join! God bless! See you soon.
I never was a fan of the name Harvey, and now I have a darn good reason not to like it. That storm caused us NOT to be able to dance this past weekend. Well, I guess we were actually ABLE, but where we had planned to dance it was not available. Cancelled. No music, no halls, no fellow dancers – but at least we stayed safe and hope you did, too. The dance we had planned on going to actually was a dinner and a dance (and more), but with the expected arrival of Hurricane Harvey into our immediate area, the folks in charge at KC 2917 in Houston’s north side were wise enough to reschedule that annual fundraiser for Saturday, September 16. How fortunate they were to be able to book the Red Ravens for that date! The Ravens play for that event every year, so another band just wouldn’t do! That darn hurricane shows no signs of going away; let’s hope it doesn’t cause a repeat of the rescheduling! That’s nearly 3 weeks away – technically, I guess it’s 2-1/2 weeks away, so it’s pretty unlikely that Harvey will cause another reset of that event. We hated that we had to miss out on the free dance the Jodie Mikula Orchestra held up in Ennis, celebrating their 5oth anniversary as a band. They are an excellent band, and very nice folks, and it would have been really nice to help them celebrate. We heard that it went off well, so congratulations are in order!
I called Saturday evening to find out if the private dance scheduled for Sunday at Shelby was still on, and at that point it was. But, again thanks to Harvey, I got a call at 8 AM on Sunday saying that the dance had been cancelled. In fact, the road we take from Brenham to Harmonie Hall (FM 389) was closed to traffic. Lee Roy and I had discussed that very possibility on Saturday night because it’s a curvy road with lots of ups and downs. We had decided that it was very unlikely that we would want to take a chance on trying to get there. With Jerry Haisler & the Melody 5 scheduled to play, we were looking forward to it, as I’m sure others were. As always, better safe than sorry. So, that is the sad tale this week. We hope you were not too adversely affected by the hurricane and its aftermath. More is still to come as of this writing, but maybe our area has seen the worst of it.
Friday is the start of a new month – so soon! Yes, September will be here very shortly. You’ll have one last chance for dancing in August, which is at the American Legion Hall in El Campo on Thursday from 7:30-10 PM, with Charles & the Fabulous 4 playing. Also on Thursday you can dance in Waco at the Sul Ross Center to the excellent music of Roger Kirby & Texas Heartbeat from 7-10 PM. Then Friday, September 1, Eagle Lake will host a dance, and Lost Cause will be playing variety music from 8-11 PM at the Community Center, directly across the street from the library. Also Friday you can dance to Brave Combo at Arlington’s Levitt Pavilion or in Bandera Jeff Woolsey’s band will entertain; in Boerne Billy Mata will be at the Kendall County Fair; in La Grange the Fayette County Fair will have various bands starting at 4 PM. More dancing and music will be going on at Granger’s Cotton Club, and there’s a bluegrass festival at Salmon Lake Park in Grapeland. And, of course, Friday will be day 1 of the annual Westfest at the Fair & Rodeo Grounds in West. Lots of choices!