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.
What a beautiful weekend we had! So beautiful that there was only one good reason to be inside, and that is dancing! Even so, we only got in one dance over the weekend, although I had thought it would be good to dance on Friday night at Conroe to Mike Gest’s “small band”, Night Session. Lee Roy, however, being an avid basketball fan, thought the better idea was to watch the Rockets. Well, sadly, we should not have even thought about the Rockets, as they lost the first game they have lost in their first playoff series. Well, at least they made up for it on Sunday, though it certainly was NOT a blow-out. I personally like the blowouts better. Say it with an exclamation point! More importantly, I prefer football. It’s a game that’s much easier to follow the action. Well, to each his own. We had planned to go to Houston’s SPJST #88 on Sunday for the annual Spring Fling held by the Harris County Czech Heritage Society. We’ve gone to that every year for a good while, but when it was brought to my attention that Al Sulak was playing at the Wharton County Youth Fair on Sunday, we changed our focus and decided to go there. We always enjoy their music, and there’s hardly time to get back to your seat between songs when that band is playing. There were a reasonable number of dancers, but definitely not a full hall. Too bad. Those who didn’t go there missed out on a good time! I’m sure there were plenty of folks at Lodge 88. That event always draws a good crowd. Part of that is that Houston is vastly more populated than Wharton. For sure, we all need to do our part to encourage more people to go to the polka dances. If they don’t know how, there’s always someone who is willing to teach. If Lee Roy is there, he can always be counted on to teach anyone willing to learn……and once they learn, it’s something they can benefit from for the rest of their lives. We were very surprised and happy to see club members Lane and Susan Schoeneberg at the dance in Wharton. They didn’t get there early, but they did get there. They joined the club when they were just a couple; now they are the parents of four children: Lily, Nathan, Laura and Josiah. Lily is probably six now, as we remember her parents and grandpa (a lifelong close friend of Lee Roy’s) bringing her to our club’s first dance at Swiss Alp. The music scared her, as her little ears weren’t accustomed to hearing loud music (or loud anything!). As soon as Lane and Susan danced onto the floor Sunday Lily and Nathan followed close behind, having a really great time “dancing”. Yes, I think they have inherited their parents’ love of polka dancing and polka music. Thanks for exposing them to our kind of music and dancing, Lane and Susan!
Friends and fellow club members John & Donna Roberts and Rudy & Lucille Antrich went on Saturday to Hallettsville to the annual Fiddlers Frolics. They went to hear and dance to the music of Chris Rybak – and to partake of the cook-off offerings. There were 16 cook-off teams, all offering a full meal to whomever wanted to use their tokens to try their specialties. From what we hear, everything was wonderful at Hallettsville – food, music & dancing. That’s par for Hallettsville. They always seem to know how to do things right. We hope you got to dance somewhere. DON’T FORGET that our own club dance happens on Saturday, April 29, at the Sealy American Legion hall. We surely hope to see YOU there. Doors open at 1 PM, and the music by Texas Sound Check Band will start at 2 PM sharp. We’ll have a silent auction, including some yummy food you’ll want to bid on, some plants from Lee Roy’s green thumb, and many other types of things. Maybe you’ll even find some Mother’s Day gift items. Members gain admittance FREE, and for non-members it’s only $5 per person, a real bargain! Bring friends with you, or arrange to meet them there. Children 18 & under are free when accompanied by parent(s), grandparent(s), etc. As always, we’ll have a 50-50 pot. At our last dance, the winner of the pot took home $238. She was HAPPY, to say the least! Her face lit up the hall so well that I think they may have had to turn down the lights after that! :>)
I keep way too many things on my refrigerator with various magnets I have acquired. One of those things is a poem I found in Ann Landers’ column many years ago, written by Veronica A. Shoffstall entitled ”Comes The Dawn”. Here it is for you, with love:
After a while you learn the subtle difference Between holding a hand and chaining a soul,
And you learn that love doesn’t mean leaning And company doesn’t mean security,
And you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts And presents aren’t promises,
And you begin to accept your defeats With your head up and your eyes open With the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child,
And you learn to build all your roads on today Because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain for plans.
And futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight. After a while you learn That even sunshine burns if you get too much.
So you plant your own garden and decorate your own soul, Instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.
And you learn that you really can endure…That you really are strong. And you really do have worth. And you learn and learn…With every goodbye you learn.
Something on the computer the other day reminded me that I probably have not shared with you a good solution for your leg cramps if you have them sometimes. As often as not, when I do get leg cramps it seems to be when I am sitting still too long. Of course, many times it’s probably from dancing and THEN sitting too long. The infamous and unnamed “they” say that often it is because of getting dehydrated. Sometimes you may be dehydrated and do not know it. Anyway, a dear friend shared with us some years ago that plain yellow mustard gives very rapid relief from leg cramps (maybe other cramps, too?). No, you do NOT put it ON your cramping muscle(s). Take a spoonful (perhaps about a tablespoon, but I have a hard time getting that much down), and swallow it. You’ll be quite surprised to find that it works almost instantly. Yes, almost instantly. Lee Roy thinks that it may be the vinegar, and that drinking pickle juice would probably work. I’ve been told that water also helps (logical if the cause is actually dehydration), and a friend experienced severe leg cramps after working in the attic of the home they were building – lots of being down, then up, etc. He was told by his doctor that sports drinks (think Gatorade) would help because they replenish your electrolytes. So there you have it. I can personally vouch for only the mustard, but definitely know from our friend that the Gatorade helps. Mustard is cheaper and usually on hand. Try it. Oh, I’ve also noticed when we are at Wurstfest and it’s cold enough to want to wear socks to bed, my feet sometimes start cramping. Usually that happens when I haven’t put on socks, and if I get up and put on socks it helps the foot cramps go away, and usually they stay away once I have put on socks. I don’t know if the same would help during warmer weather. Good luck!
It was a pretty quiet weekend for dancing since it is Easter weekend. We drove to Wallis late Saturday for their monthly Wallis Dance Club dance at the American Legion hall. We thought it would be a very sparse attendance, as some friends had told us their (Catholic) church holds a 3-hour service the Saturday evening before Easter. We were so surprised to see several other members of that church there. The band was Charles & the Fabulous 4, which is very popular with many of the dancers, even though the vast majority of their offerings is in the country genre. They did play several polkas & waltzes, at a fast clip, which Lee Roy and I enjoyed immensely. Meantime, I sincerely hope that you and your family had a blessed Easter, and that your life will be filled with nothing but sunshine and rainbows in the future. Gwen
Do you like to dance? How much? Would you be willing to help keep our dancing alive and well? Well, I know WE want it to stay alive and well, not only for the rest of our lives, but for generations to come. I’d be willing to bet you want that, too. It can’t happen unless we all do our very best to interest friends, relatives, co-workers, neighbors – young and old – to join us at some dances. We went to two dances this weekend, and both were lightly attended. The halls cannot continue to host dances if it’s a losing proposition for them. The same can be said for the various dance clubs. And the bands play for really very little, considering the time (set-up, playing, taking down their equipment and reloading it into their vehicles/trailers, plus all the travel time), and the fact that they spend all that time away from their homes and families. So, help to keep this wonderful tradition “alive & well”. Please!
Back to the weekend’s dancing that we did. On Friday night, we drove to Eagle Lake for their monthly “first Friday of the Month” dance. The Texas Mavericks were playing – mostly country, but they play the Czech polkas and waltzes well also – but probably no more than 60 or 70 dancers were there. The guys in the band do a good job, but it has to be somewhat disappointing to them that they can’t get a busier schedule going. So, my question is: Where were you? The dancers all seemed to be having a good time. Fortunately for the singles, I hurt my back very shortly after getting to the hall, so I danced much less than usual and Lee Roy danced with many of the single ladies when I felt I needed to rest a couple of dances or so. Yes, there were a few single men, but they definitely were outnumbered by the single ladies. We had a good time, and this band is very open to playing requests – so if there’s something you want to hear, don’t hesitate to ask the band for it. This dance is always very sociable, as folks bring items for the door prize, and people also bring food to share “smorgasbord style” at intermission. I wasn’t even hungry, as we had eaten before leaving home, and I still had a plate full of good food. I had run out of time, so didn’t have time to fix food at home to take to the dance, but still we were able to bring something that seemed to go over well with the dancers.
After using Icy-Hot twice and receiving a wonderful massage from Lee Roy on my lower back, my back was considerably better for Saturday night’s dance at the Rosenberg American Legion hall, where Lost Cause provided very lively and enjoyable music for everyone. We especially enjoyed their polkas. We saw many of the same people at Rosenberg as we had seen at Eagle Lake the night before. Again, the number of dancers was smaller than usual. Maybe after Easter things will pick up on the attendance. We surely hope so! Have a blessed Easter, and we’ll plan to see you on the dance floor again soon.
We made it to some of the places we intended to go this past week/weekend, and didn’t make it to others. We didn’t get to the Tomball German Heritage Festival, which started Friday night, continued on Saturday, and is to wind up on Sunday. The weather forecast is for nearly 100% chance of stormy weather, and I think that has negatively impacted attendance there and elsewhere. We heard from a musician at the Rosenberg Spring “doings” in downtown that there was not a very large number of attendees there either. Too bad, because they would have heard well-played music by a very good band. Another place where it looks like we won’t be going is to Elgin’s SPJST #18 today (Sunday) where the Red Ravens are scheduled to play. We definitely had it on our radar, but hate to get on the road with the possibility of some wild weather. Last night we went to the Sealy Dance Club monthly dance (always the first Saturday of the month), and the attendance was very sparse. People who ALWAYS are there were not. There may have been 50 people there. So sad for the band to have to play to such a small group of people. The music was surprisingly good, with the band This Is It playing. One thing that really stood out was the vocals. So often (much too often) it is impossible to hear the words clearly – more of a blur – but this band either has some very good vocalists that really do project their voices and enunciate the words, or they have a really good speaker system. Maybe both.
By the way, one of the leaders of this club, Don Lipke, is in serious condition at Memorial Hermann in the Texas Medical Center. He fell and hit his head, causing some serious bleeding into his brain. He was taking medicine for arrhytymia of his heart (now discontinued), and also has been taking blood thinners. He originally was taken to Oak Bend Hospital, but was transferred to the main Memorial Hermann in the event he would need neurosurgery. He was in the ICU, but has progressed to a private room. If you would remember him in your prayers, I am certain it would be appreciated, and in my opinion prayers are a very important part of health and healing. Don is a very nice man, rather shy, but a hard worker, and has stepped up to the plate to offer whatever he can to help the Sealy Dance Club continue and hopefully to have a long future ahead for us. In the event you do not recognize him by his name, he is the one who takes the mic at each dance and calls the winning tickets for the door prizes; he’s a smallish fellow with blonde hair, and it is his nature to be quiet and not to bring attention to himself. Please pray for him each time you think to do it. We surely wish him both a quick recovery and a complete recovery to good, vibrant health.
We hope you had a good weekend including dancing. Be sure to check our dance schedule to see what dances/events interest you in the remainder of April. God bless.
The folks who run the Hallettsville KC Hall know how to put on a polka festival. I think this year may have been even better than past years. In late March, they “do” their annual Polka & Sausage Festival. There was plenty of polka and more sausage than I care to have (not having grown up in a Czech, German, Polish or Slavic family), and the attendees all seemed to be having a great time (most of the time, anyway). This festival has the music, dancing, and meals inside the hall. The festival they put on in the fall, the Kolache Festival, has dancing and music outside, which definitely is not as pleasant. Friday night featured a meal of fried catfish and all the trimmings for $9 a plate, and music by the Moravians and the Czechaholics. We’ve always been pleased with the music of the Moravians; not always with the Czechaholics. For one thing, every polka sounds very much like every other polka they play, and the same goes for their waltzes. The worst thing is when they ruin a song by putting in their own notes that differ from the music written by whoever it was that wrote the music. Another very unpalatable thing they used to do (but thankfully they didn’t do it this year) is to stop playing, making everyone think they are finished with that song, then start playing again when dancers start exiting the dance floor – and I’ve known them to do that as many as three times with one song. That trickery is NOT popular with the dancers. I’ve talked with MANY dancers who really dislike that. But, fortunately, we didn’t have to endure that this festival. Many people who go to this festival camp out at the hall, which started with a few campsites directly behind the hall. That’s where we like to stay. Then they built some other sites north of those, with concrete pads, and in recent years they went all out and built a lot of campsites behind the hall, but much farther back on the property. One year, because of heavy rains prior to the festival, we had to park on the “back 40″. It wasn’t bad; we just had to drive our vehicles to the hall and park there, usually under cover. We really goofed this year, though. We forgot to bring our dance bag, which has our fans, dance towels, usually snacks, and other things in it. Of course, you know who got blamed for our having left that at home, and it isn’t the male in the family……even though he’s always the one who puts those things in the car. Yes, it was a different vehicle, but it still was an event when we would (and always do) bring our dance bag and the things in it. To make it even worse, I had printed 55 flyers for the upcoming THMDC dance, which means none of those people, unless they’re at another dance where we are in the interim, will get to see a flyer. SO, put our dance on your calendar right now while you’re thinking about it. It’s on Saturday, April 29, at the Sealy American Legion hall, from 2:30-5 PM. As always, we’ll have a silent auction and a 50-50 pot. At our last dance in October, the pot winner took home $236. Pearl was happy! Non-members will only have to pay $5 each, and there will be a special offer for becoming a member. You’ll be dancing to the music of Texas Sound Check, a band that plays each year at Wurstfest. We welcome donations to our silent auction so that we can continue to offer at least two dances a fiscal year. With the fiscal year starting on July 1 we hope to be able to offer a bonus dance, for 3 during that fiscal year.
After a not-too-comfy night in our camper Friday, we started Saturday’s festival before 3 PM when the Polka Mass was happening. After that, they offered a dinner of sausage, sauerkraut and potatoes, and kolaches for dessert. The kolaches were wonderful. The sausage dinner would keep one from starving. Of course, Lee Roy says I could stand to miss several (perhaps more?) meals. The 20 pounds I recently got rid of is not enough for him, and he also has informed me that I not only need to lose more, but need to exercise. Jeez! Does he think I’m a teenager or something? Besides that, I’ve never been a beauty queen and seriously doubt I ever will. Music on Saturday night was another “two-fer”, with the Dujka Brothers and the Jodie Mikula Orchestra playing. Both bands are always excellent, two of our favorites.
Sunday has always been the most popular day of this festival for a lot of dancers, or even just polka aficionados. It did not disappoint. Tables and chairs started filling up quite early. They started serving dinner at 10:30 AM. Personally, I am never ready for dinner at that hour. Often I may not even have had breakfast at that hour! The Shiner Hobo Band played first, from 11 AM-1 PM, followed by three bands, the Red Ravens, the Leo Majek Orchestra, and the Ennis Czech Boys. We always enjoy each of these bands. The Hobos are not as polished as the other bands, but they put on a good show, and plenty of folks were dancing to their music, including us. In the afternoon, the hall presented some awards which were well-deserved. The first award went to Mark Hermes’ dad who died in August or thereabouts. He put in many hours in the kitchen for this event, for many years. Surely that dedication deserves recognition. I’m sure his family was happy about it; it’s too bad the person who was posthumously given the award was not alive to personally receive the recognition. Next, the hall awarded plaques to John Dujka and Mark Dujka, aka the Dujka Brothers. I know they were pleased, and certainly deserving, and am equally certain that their parents, Mary Lou and William Dujka, were pleased with their sons’ honor. Again, it was definitely well-deserved. The Dujkas have a very busy schedule, helping to keep our beloved polka music & dancing alive & well, and they not only play for this festival each year, they always are leading the music part of the polka Mass. The third and final award was given to twins who reside in San Angelo. I know Alphonse Schwartz, and never knew that he and his twin, Alfred, had a polka band. They are such nice people, and I’m so happy that they still are able to come to this festival (and also to the National Polka Festival in Ennis each Memorial Day weekend), and also happy that they were recognized as “movers and shakers” in the world of Texas polka. Recognizing these folks was such a nice thing to do. There are others also deserving of recognition, and no doubt they will be future recipients of these awards. After that little ceremony, and picture taking, the music and dancing resumed. Dinner today included an option for fried chicken OR the sausage dinner. Naturally, I opted for chicken, which was fine with Lee Roy since he didn’t really want sausage two days in a row. It was so wonderful to see our new friends again! They live in Clovis, NM. Grandma Susie & Grandpa Frank Oborny have taught their 5 youngest grandchildren how to dance, and those precious children LOVE to dance. They get quite a lot of attention from the older dancers because they dance very well and love to do it – AND they are very nice, well-behaved children. The youngest one, Rileigh, mostly dances with her 5-year-old brother, Cody. Rileigh is all of 3 years old! And, yes, all of the children are almost always out on the dance floor actually dancing. Rileigh doesn’t quite have the steps yet, but she is happily working on it. The other two grandkids that came on this trip are 10-year-old Tristan and their cousin, Lileigh (pronounced Lily), who is 9. We hope to see much more of this lovely family and these precious children, God willing. We so much enjoyed seeing many other dancing friends over this weekend. It was a special treat to see our friends who are winter Texans. They reside in Minnesota during the warmer months and soon will be returning there until next fall. That would be Rudy & Joyce Tokkesdahl. Joyce unfortunately suffered a stroke several years ago very shortly after we returned from a visit to the Rio Grande Valley. She’s in a wheelchair, but it was wonderful to see that she has made some pretty good progress in her communication and speech. She is a very accomplished accordion player, and I doubt she’ll ever be able to play accordion again, but she and Rudy certainly have been an inspiration, and a beautiful example of true love doing whatever is needed. We are always so happy to see them, and how wonderful it is to see the progress made since last year.
We returned home on Monday, arriving about 2:30 PM, and picking up an accordion in Bellville, for Lee Roy to make some repairs. Another thing we forgot to take with us to Hallettsville (this time it truly was MY fault) was our T-bone steak that I had been planning to have for Friday night’s dinner. Fortunately, I realized that I had forgotten it (in the refrigerator at home) in time to go to Brookshire Brothers to purchase a replacement meat, some honey BBQ’d fried chicken strips. They were quite good, (but chicken is never as good as beef) and since I forgot to take the steak to Hallettsville we had a very easy dinner Monday at home. Our friend of many years decided she would like to go to the festival, so she brought her little camper, just the right size for her. She parked next to us and we enjoyed our Friday dinner and Saturday breakfast together. She was only able to stay until about noon on Saturday, as she plays the piano at church, and did not want to leave the church attendees without music. Lee Roy helped her learn to dance, and she had a very good time, loving both the music and the dancing. Maybe she’ll be able to come to some more dances. We hope so. Let’s all keep our eyes open for others who might be interested in going to some polka dances with us. There can’t be too many polka dancers!
Saturday was the third Saturday of March, so that means it was time for the Wallis Dance Club dance at the Wallis American Legion hall. Al Sulak, always popular with the dancers, played for us, and as usual their music was wonderful. There were a couple of songs late in the dance that may have been new for them. I don’t know that we’ve heard Al’s band play those two songs before. They didn’t seem quite as much “at ease” with those songs, but they’ll definitely get there. These are good musicians – as well as nice folks. We were very pleasantly surprised to see so MANY families who had brought their children, and so many of those children were definitely interested in learning to dance, or in some cases learning how to dance better. It always thrills us to see youngsters who have an interest in learning how to dance. And what NICE children they are! I danced several times with Jonah, who now is in the 9th grade. I told him that I remembered 9th grade very well (even though it’s been just about a thousand years since I was a 9th-grader). I asked if one of his subjects is World History, and he affirmed that it is. Apparently he dislikes that subject as much as I did. As he said, it’s about “dudes who are dead”. I always enjoyed school, but World History was boring beyond belief! Jonah and I agreed that we both like American history and Texas history, and when I told him that I am always interested in World War II (having been born in 1941, and seeing newsreels from the various fronts when my mother took us to the movie theater every Saturday). Jonah was really excited when I mentioned WWII, so it was nice to learn that we have more in common than dancing. Nice folks – his family as well as the others who brought their children. Some of the boys have no qualms at all about asking women to dance, and each of those women is old enough to be their grandmother. That’s so nice! Our friend, Donna Roberts, was unable to dance, as she slipped on melted ice on her kitchen floor and broke her toe well back in her foot, so she was wearing a boot on it and was instructed to keep it elevated. So, her husband, John, danced very little. He and I did a couple of dances, a polka and a waltz, while Lee Roy was occupied with some of the children, but that may have been the sum total of his dancing that night. We had a table full of friends, and I didn’t hear a single complaint about the poppyseed roll or the apricot roll that we brought to share at intermission.
Sunday we went to Shelby’s Harmonie Hall for a dance to which we had been invited by new friends. All of their guests except four were people we had not met before. And two of the four we had met only a few times, but they are delightful folks whom we hope to see many more times. Central Texas Sounds played for this dance, and the dance floor always was full, so clearly the dancers approved of the music. We saw friend and club member Georgia Gavranovic there, still in a cast and a sling from having broken her collar bone, I believe. She and Frank Huvar enjoyed the socializing that is an important part of going to a dance. Frank did a little dancing. He’s coming along nicely since his recent heart surgery. Thanks to each host that helped sponsor this dance, and we especially thank our host couple, Ralph and Judy Stevener. We really had a good time, and with the time change we got home before dark. That’s a nice change, even though it seems more practical to just leave the time alone and not have to “spring forward” and “fall back” each year.
A very popular festival will be happening next weekend, Friday through Sunday, at the Hallettsville KC Hall. That would be the annual Polka & Sausage Festival. If you can’t make it for all three days, you can still enjoy just one or two days of it. And if you can’t make Hallettsville at all, there are still plenty of dances from which to choose. April looms very soon after that, so check the dance schedules and find something you don’t want to miss! Don’t forget to ask friends to join you!
Yes, you can do the polka to a march – and I guess you could march to a polka. Whatever floats your boat, as they say. We only went to one dance this past weekend, and that was at the Sealy Amerian Legion hall for the monthly dance of the Sealy Dance Club, always the first Saturday of the month. You can join this club or attend as a guest. Everyone is always welcome. The hall has a very good dance floor, and it’s almost always in good condition for dancing – not too much wax, but some. This month the band playing for us was Lost Cause, led by Tim & Alicia Kulhanek. They mostly play country songs, but are very capable of playing Czech polkas and waltzes, German and Polish, too. They welcome requests. I think Tim may have ESP, as I was going to request one of my lifelong favorites, “Four in the Morning”, but before I got to make my request, they were playing it! Next month, the band This Is It will be playing on April 1. Remember, if you want to bring food for yourself or to share with your table mates, that is fine. The dance club does not “eat en masse” at break time like it used to. It’s nice this way, and if anyone “pigs out” like some folks used to do, it only affects their table mates. The dancers were fewer than usual on Saturday, most likely because of widespread rain. I don’t think any of us will melt if we get rained on, but it is nice to have dry soles, especially if they are leather, which are the best for dancing. There was a very special birthday in the hall Saturday. Harold Lawson turned 93 that day. Way to go, Harold! He still loves to polka, and often does the “hop” polka. Yes, at 93. Isn’t that great??? Harold is one of our beloved WWII veterans, and his wife, Mary Lou, had purchased some yummy cookies and a very special table decor from Cookies by Design. She said she spent 10 minutes on their web site because of all they had from which to choose. That decor had 3 “flags” flying with the words, “Harold U.S. Navy”, “WWII Veteran”, and “Happy 93rd Birthday” – or something similar. It was really cute! Harold got plenty of cards from folks, and he and Mary Lou both seemed to be having a great time. What nice folks they are, and both of them love polka dancing and music. We wish Harold – and Mary Lou – many more dancing birthdays and many blessings, which they richly deserve.
Sunday we had an annual family reunion at New Bielau, just about 5 miles south of Weimar on Hwy. 155. It was the 51st reunion for this group of Lee Roy’s relatives. So, we had a good time doing something other than dancing, though we always love to be dancing. Had it not been for this reunion, we would most likely have danced to the Red Ravens at the Hungerford community center. It was a benefit dance for KJT and KJZT. We’ve heard that it was well-attended, and of course the music was good. There were plenty of dances from which to choose, country at Granger’s Cotton Club, Houston’s VFW 10352, and Sweet Home’s Community Center, plus polka by the Dujka Brothers at San Antonio’s Martinez Social Club (sponsored by the Bexar County Czech Heritage Society), at Star Hall in Seaton by the All Around Czechs and the Czech Melody Masters (a fundraiser for TPMM), at Pearland’s King’s Biergarten with Enzian Buam, and at San Antonio’s Riverwalk Biergarten with the Alpine Express Duo. So, all you have to do is decide what type of music you want to dance to and where. We hope you go to put your feet to good use Sunday!
For planning your dancing, be sure to check out our dancing schedule here on this web site. Plan short-term (this coming weekend) and long-range, at least another week or two, possibly even some things that aren’t even on our schedule yet, like some of the annual polka fests. Make your plans, and bring along some friends. Speaking of making plans, don’t forget that our own dance club, Texas Heritage Music & Dance Club, is having its next dance on Saturday afternoon, April 29, at the Sealy American Legion Hall. Dancing will be from 2-5:30 PM, and Texas Sound Check Band will be playing for us. Be sure to put that on your calendar and don’t let anything else get in the way! You KNOW we’ll have a good dance and you’ll have lots of fun!
The last weekend in February is always a busy one for us, with lots of miles on our car. Worth it, for sure! Friday morning we headed south for Corpus Christi, where the South Texas Czech Heritage Society holds its annual Czech Heritage Festival the last Saturday in February. The festival is held in Sokol Hall on Kostoryz Rd., a couple of blocks off of the “main drag”, South Padre Island Drive, aka SPID. Three bands play for this event, the Czechaholics, the Red Ravens, and the local band, the Leo Majek Orchestra. Each band plays twice, with a jam of all three bands which follows the Grand March about 3 PM. We weren’t the first folks there. There was a line waiting for the door to open, which should have happened at 10 AM. About the time we got up to the building to get in line, the line started moving. That was about 10:15, I guess. The music and dancing started at 11 AM with the Czechaholics first up. The people are always so friendly here – and the music is always good. I even got to play during the jam session, until my right thumb started hurting me. You see, I am officially “old”, diagnosed with arthritis right where the thumb joins my right hand. Well, I am truly blessed that it isn’t bothersome all the time, but it does take note when I pick up the accordion. I’ll deal with it as long as it behaves most of the time. We had brought two 12-bass accordions with us because a friend wanted to buy one. She actually plays a 120-bass accordion (the biggest size) and wanted a smaller accordion for her “at home” use. I enjoyed playing with these three bands, and it was wonderful to find that most of the time I found the correct notes for the various songs we played. One song, “Memories of Cameron” is especially beautiful. Our friend and fellow club member, Norman Smoot, loves that song, and I thought about him when we played it. Sometimes he goes to that festival, but he wasn’t there this year. This beautiful song was written by the original leader of the Leo Majek Orchestra (I guess that would be Leo himself), after they had moved from Cameron to Corpus Christi. Some years back, at our first time for this festival, we met a very sweet lady, Dorothy, who always brings her severely handicapped adult son to the dance. I think he enjoys the music, and she enjoys the music AND the dancing. Sadly, when she left to take him back to the facility where he lives, she found herself blocked in by someone who had triple parked! Getting the owner to pay attention and get out there and move her vehicle took quite a long time and several pleas over the microphone for the owner to move her vehicle. PLEASE, PLEASE don’t ever park three deep. Remember that you are blocking someone in. I’ve never before seen a frown on sweet Dorothy’s face, but it was definitely there when she was blocked in and the offender wasn’t paying attention. Remember, you never know when someone will need to move their vehicle, and you definitely would not be able to determine WHY they need to move! And this happened in the handicapped parking area! When the driver of the offending vehicle finally made her appearance, it looked like the handicapped hanger on her car must have belonged to someone else, as she herself had NO handicaps. Don’t ever be so self-centered as to use a handicap marker when you don’t need it!! So, please do be cognizant of others who really do have a need for parking in those spaces!!! We were glad to see Dorothy come back to the festival after she had taken care of getting her son back to his home. It was a pleasure for us also to meet up again with another sweet lady who lives in Corpus Christi, Trina, whom we first met at the festival. Then, much to our surprise, shortly before the Majeks played, our friend and fellow club member, Patsy Polasek, walked in with her accordion. Turns out she was going to play with the Majeks! It’s a longer drive for her to get there than it is for us, and we have a drive of 5-plus hours! It’s always good to see Patsy, and it’s her heritage that made her want to learn to play the accordion. She’s full Czech, and her father played for 30 years with Fritz Hodde & the Fabulous Six……so Patsy has lots and lots of songs in her head. Isn’t that wonderful???? Oh, I must tell you that our dinner on Friday night was really terrific, and we would recommend that when you’re in Corpus Christi, be sure to dine at the Golden Corral, an all-you-can-eat buffet with a huge variety of food. This Golden Corral is really wonderful. Both Lee Roy and I loved everything we tasted. I had butterflied fried shrimp, pot roast, fried mushrooms, fried okra (yes, fried is always good!), plus a huge, light and delicious yeast roll (with plenty of butter) – and four desserts plus a large strawberry that I coated with chocolate from the chocolate fountain. My very, very favorite was the pot roast – AND the yeast roll. Yum! Lee Roy ate so many things that I couldn’t even begin to recall what all is was, but he also was bragging about how delicious the food was – and yes, the desserts, too! Maybe that will help him regain the 8 or so pounds he’s lost by working so hard repainting the frame portion of our rent house. Still working on it, too. And when he finishes he’ll have to put on a second coat of paint.
We spent Friday night at a motel where we’ve stayed every year except the first two, the Days Inn & Suites on SPID at Weber. We were in for a big disappointment. They must have changed management or ownership because you could see where they had cut so many corners, and we will NOT plan to stay at this motel again unless we can be convinced they have reverted to good management. Breakfast was especially lacking – both in the taste and also in WHAT was offered (very darn little, hardly any variety – and NO waffle batter even though the waffle iron was “hot and ready”). Never again! After the festival, we headed north to Victoria to be an hour-plus closer to Shelby where we were going Sunday for a private dance. What a difference in motels! We had booked the Super 8 near the mall, only a block west of Hwy. 77, aka Navarro. It was quite a wonderful motel, with a definite pride in Texas. Friendly people, wonderful ambience, delicious breakfast with lots of different things from which to choose. It was at this motel that Lee Roy and I fixed chicken salad and made chicken salad sandwiches Sunday morning to share with our friends at Shelby. People who have eaten our chicken salad sandwiches rave about it, and one friend, Louis Stewart, calls it the “polka-famous chicken salad”. Well, I revised that to “famous in very small circles”. :-)
Shelby’s Harmonie Hall had a few spots that weren’t occupied; as I always say, “When it’s free they will come.” Well, we are very glad there was a good crowd to enjoy the music as well as that wonderful dance floor. We had SO MUCH fun! Jerry Haisler & the Melody 5 played, and we heard many folks comment on how wonderful the music was. Several had come specifically because they were eager to hear this band again. Bernard Greener was really looking forward to the Haisler band, but unfortunately Pearl was sick (maybe the flu?), so they did not get to go to the dance. Betty Tidwell also was really looking forward to this band, and she will be happy to tell Bernard that it was as wonderful as she remembered. This band has been playing a long time, just about 50 years. Alice Sulak, who owns Sefcik Hall in the Temple area, played for this band 45 years, but she’s now in her 90′s and no longer playing with the band. She was unwilling to travel too far from Temple, so they restricted their playing area because of that. Now they are getting out into farther reaches from Temple, and they have plenty of fans who are happy for the chance to dance to their music again. Yes, they did a great job, and we hope we’ll be hearing them more closer to home. Please send out your best wishes to Georgia Gavranovic, who recently suffered a fall in CVS and as a result has a fracture in her chest area and is wearing a sling that must be stable against her body. She’s another sweet lady, and we wish a speedy and complete healing for her. It was so good to see old friends as well as several new friends. Friends are certainly a treasure, aren’t they? A blessing. We trust that God will bless all our friends with whatever it is that they need. He knows our needs better than we do. Isn’t that wonderful? God bless, and thank YOU for being our friend!!!!
This weekend was Wallis x 2 for us. We actually had planned to go to Houston’s SPJST #88 on Saturday to enjoy Barefoot Becky’s annual gig there. She does gigs at various halls in Texas when she and her band, the Ivanhoe Dutchmen, are on the way home to Iowa after their winter schedule in warmer climes. We decided to go to the Wallis American Legion hall instead, for the 3rd Saturday of the month dance sponsored by the Wallis Dance Club, where Benny Okruhlik’s Texas Sound Check Band was playing. Unfortunately, Benny is still having health problems, and we certainly wish him well with that. We thought it would be nice to support his band since that’s the band we’ve hired for our next club dance on Saturday, April 29, at the Sealy American Legion hall. Benny didn’t get to be there because of his health, but they had the very-talented Joe Zetka playing the accordion and occasionally doing vocals, so it was a very nice evening. When we arrived, it looked like it was going to be a huge crowd, judging from the vehicles that were there; however, it was only a so-so attendance. WE certainly had a good time dancing, and it seemed that everyone else did, too. It was so wonderful to see Casey and his family again, and Casey (who just celebrated his 12th birthday) was definitely enjoying dancing almost every song. He, for good reason, is a very confident dancer. It’s terrific when we see youngsters (especially NICE ones) who not only know how to dance, but enjoy doing it. There was another young man there, a few years younger than Casey. He’s learning, and I’m sure it won’t be long before he’s developed confidence in his dancing, too. And a young girl, about 7 or 8, was there again; Lee Roy had danced with her last month. I remember that her name is Brodee; as she told Lee Roy last month, her parents picked the name Brodee because she is adopted and they didn’t know if they were getting a girl or a boy, so they selected a non-gender-specific name. So, parents, thank you so much for exposing your children to the wonderful world of “our kind” of dancing!
Thanks to our friends, John & Donna Roberts, we spent the night in Sugar Land in one of their spare bedrooms, as we were going right back to Wallis on Sunday for the annual fundraiser dance of the Polka Lovers Klub of America, Texas Chapter 1. Wallis is much closer from Sugar Land than from Plantersville, and we certainly appreciate John & Donna’s hospitality. The Red Ravens were playing for that event; however, the attendance was a long shot from filling up the hall. I think they made a profit, so that is good. They had a “refreshment raffle”, which we didn’t participate in since we don’t drink that stuff, a 50-25-25 pot with two folks winning $108 each, and a silent auction. And we got to dance – and to socialize – which are always good!
This coming Saturday will be the annual Czech Heritage Festival in Corpus Christi at Sokol Hall on Kostoryz. We always try to make that, and we used to love it that Inez held their Czech Heritage Festival the next day. That was on the way home, so very convenient to do both events in a weekend. Unfortunately, a few years ago Inez stopped having theirs, as the folks who always had put it together and worked so hard to make it a success, gave it up. They were unable to get more folks to help, so they had no choice. That’s really sad, and will continue to happen if younger folks don’t participate. Take a hint and do all you can do to help keep our heritage dances, the bands, and the halls going. We all depend on each other so that we can all continue doing what we love – dancing to the heritage music. Plenty of other dances are going on during the weekend: Saturday it’s Cajun in Houston, Alex Meixner in Houston, country in Granger, variety by Lost Cause in Round Top, and on Sunday country at Geronimo’s VFW, Granger, Houston’s VFW 10352, San Antonio’s Martinez Social Club, Seaton’s Sefcik Hall (Roger Kirby has a great country band), and Sweet Home, plus polka & variety at Schulenburg’s KC hall with Central Texas Sounds. So, plenty to do. Don’t miss out! After that, March arrives on Wednesday. Already! As I’ve said before, time flies when you’re having fun!
We’ve done some dancing, but not all we had planned to do. We hope you got to dance. We heard that the Thursday dance at the El Campo American Legion hall was well-attended. That’s probably because it was Charles & the Fabulous 4 providing the music. People really like that band, and I must say their music last weekend at Sealy was very good. I think some of our members probably have enjoyed Canton’s 8th annual Western Swing Valentine Party, which was from Thursday through Saturday (with a little time between for sleep!). We got an invitation to dance on Friday at the Schulenburg KC Hall where Central Texas Sounds was playing for a full house. They did a good job and included a few polkas & Czech waltzes, always popular with us. We thank all the hosts for picking up the tab so lots of folks could have a fun time.
Saturday it seemed to take us an extra long time to get to the Rosenberg American Legion hall for the monthly club dance, Happy Cousins, which is always on the 2nd Saturday of the month. This dance club always welcomes the public, of course. It started out as a pretty light showing, but thanks to a Lutheran church in Sugar Land, the attendance really picked up. A group from that church decided to sponsor some dance lessons earlier in the evening (2 hours we hear, with one style each of polka, waltz and country), and after the lessons they came to the hall to put their lessons to work. Mostly, though, they spent their time visiting among themselves. Too bad, as they won’t benefit from dancing that way. The band at Rosenberg was the New Texas Plainsmen, whom we had heard very recently in Sealy. They started out with almost entirely country songs, but they eventually started playing more polkas and waltzes, along with some “wilder” things – but all in all it was good music, and the vocals, except for one song, were quite excellent. On that one song, the vocalist was in a different key than the instruments. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen again!
We heard that quite a few folks were planning to go to Sweet Home on Sunday (today) where the aforementioned Charles & the Fabulous 4 are playing. They may actually have more dancers than they have room for, as this is a very small hall. It also has a tile floor, but since it doesn’t seem too humid today that shouldn’t be a problem. With tile, the humidity (and rain!!!) really make dancing difficult. You can’t slide your feet, so you end up WORKING at dancing instead of enjoying dancing. Lee Roy and I were planning to go to the annual Valentine dance at the Elgin SPJST, where the Dujka Brothers always play. We always make this dance, but here we are at home today and NOT dancing. It doesn’t seem to be a day when we can enjoy a Valentine dance, or probably any dance. Let’s hope things improve on that front! Besides, Lee Roy is still putting in a lot of time repainting the exterior of our rent house (next door). I’m sure he will be happy to get finished with that job, which almost has taken on a life of its own. Still looking for some good renters, which are hard to find.
Wishing you a happy Valentine Day! God bless. Don’t forget to dance this coming week. After Valentine Day, February will be half over. Time definitely flies (unless you’re having difficulties when time seems to creep along). Anyway, enjoy dancing all you can!
No, I’m not talking about betting on the Super Bowl. BTW, it turned out like I thought it would, but not like I wanted it to. Actually, the first half was much better than I expected, but you have to play the entire 60 minutes, and sometimes more than that. Oh, well. At least we won over the weekend. How? By dancing, of course! Anyone who danced was a winner – you know, it’s not only fun, but it’s good for you! Don’t believe me? Just ask your doctor.
I had hoped we would get to go to Eagle Lake to visit with friends and dance to the music of Lost Cause. That’s a fairly new band, but their music is good. Mostly country, but they do know how to play the Czech (and German) songs. Lee Roy has still been working hard on repainting the exterior of our rent house, and since he missed out on some time he had planned to use for that job, he had to catch up. Yes, he missed out by the appearance of a kidney stone and subsequent pain, follow up with the urologist, etc. – and then there were some days that were too cold to paint, too rainy, or too humid, etc. Well, although he would have preferred not to have the pain that resulted from the kidney stone, and more pain that was the result of the procedure, maybe it was planned by God so he would not work himself to death! Anyway, we didn’t get to go to Eagle Lake because he had worked really hard that day, plus lit the fire pile and had to stay home to be sure it didn’t burn anything he had not planned to burn. We heard from quite a few folks that it was a very well-attended dance, and that’s always good to hear. We can’t afford to ignore dances. We need to support the bands and the halls so they don’t stop having dances that we definitely want to continue for a very long time. Be sure to do your part!
Saturday night we did get to the Sealy American Legion hall for the club dance there, always on the first Saturday of the month. It was a good crowd, and one family had brought their two young sons. It was such a delight to see the boys dancing (and doing it well – thanks, parents!). They were quite confident in their dancing and were on the dance floor with various partners quite a bit. Keep up the good job, parents! People kept coming in, even fairly late into the dance. It surely was good to see such a nice crowd! If you’re not a member, remember that the best deal is to join the club. The music was by Charles & the Fabulous 4, a country band that has learned to play more polkas & waltzes, and we certainly thank them. They have actually gotten to be a band that we enjoy, and I made sure to tell that to Charles. We do appreciate that they try to appeal to the dancers that prefer polkas and waltzes as well as to the dancers who like mostly country music. We may have to see if we can hire that band for a dance in our next fiscal year. They really did do a wonderful job!
Some interesting dances are coming up this weekend, including the annual Music Fest in Ennis at the Sokol Hall. It’s a one-day festival, 12 hours long, I believe. Each band plays for two hours, and all the bands are from Ennis. If you have never been to this festival, I can guarantee it’s a good one. Most of the musicians you’ll hear grew up in Ennis, a true Czech community that carries on the Czech traditions brought here from Europe when immigrants seeking a better life came to the United States. They embraced their new country, but did not lose the Czech heritage. That’s the way it should be. Immigrants who come to the United States should embrace what we have to offer, bring traditions that can add something positive, and contribute in a positive way to our economy and well-being. Immigrants of yesteryear did just that, and it’s part of why our country grew into such a great place, with opportunities for all who wanted something better than what they left behind. None of those immigrants wanted to make this country be like where they came from; they recognized the positive things this country has to offer and were willing to help it become ever greater for all. Well, that’s probably enough of my soap box. Anyway, not only is Ennis having their Czech Music Fest on Saturday, there are plenty of other places to dance on Saturday, such as at the Rosenberg American Legion, the Western Club in Navasota offering country music by Rocky King, a Cajun dance at the Hermann Sons in San Antonio, a Valentine Dinner & Concert at TCHCC in La Grange with John Dujka playing semi-classical as well as Czech favorites, another Cajun option at SPJST #88 in Houston, a western swing Valentine’s party at the Canton Civic Center, and much more. In other words, you can certainly find any kind of music you want to dance to!
Sunday has lots to offer, too, including several Valentine dances. The Brazos Valley Czech Heritage Society will have the Praha Brothers; Elgin’s SPJST #18 always has the Dujka Brothers for this dance; country music can be found at Houston’s VFW 10352 on the north side, with Detour playing;the always popular Barefoot Becky will play at Eagles Hall in New Braunfels, sponsored by the Goodtime Polka & Waltz Club (public welcome, of course!); the aforementioned Charles & the Fabulous 4 at Sweet Home’s community center; San Antonio’s Martinez Social Club will feature Jim Byrom (country). More dances can also be found. Check the dance schedule on this site. Just click on THMDC.org to find all the options we know about (or just stay on this site, go to the home page and click on “Dancing”, then “Schedules”). Then choose at least one (maybe you could get in two dances?), and GO! Take along a friend or two. Why not? More fun that way. See you soon.