Our Home Town: Strasburg, North Dakota - Wedding celebration, Lawrence Welk

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As part of KCCM's Our Home Town series, this program is a sound portrait of Strasburg, North Dakota. Highlights discussion on traditional weddings and an interview with Lawrence Welk's brother.

About Our Home Town series: KCCM Radio in Moorhead, in conjunction with the North Dakota Committee for the Humanities and Public Issues, produced a series of twenty-six half-hour programs that documented attitudes and character of life in five North Dakota communities (Strasburg, Belcourt, Mayville, Mott, and Dunn Center). The programs were produced as sound portraits with free-flowing sounds, voices and music, all indigenous.

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What would I miss most if I move into a big Tanya me? Probably the wedding's we put on here we get invited to a lot of these weddings lots of fun friendly people and if you'd move to a strange town, I don't think you'd ever run onto. A group like we have here Strasburg North Dakota population 643 our hometown one in a series of programs exploring the values concerns and character of life in small towns produced by Minnesota Public Radio station kccm with funds provided by the North Dakota committee for the Humanities and public issues. Neil Pierce Road of North Dakota, and the Great Plains states across the state once prosperous little farm supply towns are in Grim struggle for survival. Some have even died. The problem is that is a number of farms contract and supplies are purchased from afar or in Regional shopping centers. The little towns have little more reason for being as more and more people leave economic Survival on the quality of life become harsher for those who remain often only the elderly and retired people. Is mr. Said visited Strasburg, he would have found a strong German Russian tradition and the birthplace of Lawrence Welk, there's two factors which make this town unique. Today's program you will hear about the traditional wedding celebration and learn about the roots of Lawrence Welk from those who stay behind Mike Dodge Pius craft and Mike Welk Lawrence Welk's younger, brother. The interviewer is John ydstie the traditions in end and then like the style of weddings and all that stuff their Customs. They had to know that was change the line. Pitt it's inside those stairs. Well, there was a wedding took about two days sometimes too. Well, they're going to wedding. Okay, they have the wedding and invite whoever Some musicians and that the 38 the dance and drinks. Well, that's usually West. Give me a need up and bring up what was left then was referred last I guess it's much more fun than have not had to work hard all by hand labor didn't have those that came later or not. But the last year's, you know, they have an idea. You know, it's also fixed up but those that had the had too many people to have a house made of sand. Come back here. You know they just wait for their vacations to come back here really and all the young people that leave here. They want to get married back here. It's your funny. You know, you wouldn't even the boys. That's what your prize is mean even the boys. They want to come back home and get married to Did you say waiting is no waiting until you had a waiting here and fish? What to do there is they play in a short wall for the bride and the groom the maid of honor take the bride and groom out to dance and they dance just a few minutes alone. Then the other bridesmaids and best men then you get those two and they dance with bride and groom and you keep on all the way down through the parents and everybody and then you got the whole bridal party both side the parents and grandparents out there dancing quite a long dance just a loan. How about the marching in what's that all about? Beginning do the bride and groom lead the best man and bridesmaids in and then the parents behind their leading. Why do they do it? It's tradition. Mainly I think it's been going on for years like that. So everybody can see what I see the cheetah party plus the relatives and close relatives. That is I'd say basically tradition that carried on this for most weddings have Did you guys ever think of having any other kind of wedding? It's just the basic here in this just carried on I think everyone is somewhere there's very few changes since they're already it's minor. At this time, we would like to extend our congratulations. Mr. And mrs. Alloys soccer. Would mr. And mrs. Alex Wolff. LAX beekler, I think that's right. I'm mrs. Marianna. That aware that one more thing which very few people. You get to go to with a great day. Mrs. Mr. And mrs. Burger Okay, but everybody Dance everybody Dance. I'm talking to Mike. Choose a native of Strasburg and the musician well-known musician from Strasburg. Probably is well known as anyone except Lawrence Welk and Lawrence says Mike's the best accordion player. You can hear if you want to hear an accordion begin to play instruments. When I was 4 years old. We had one of these older parlor organs. In fact, I've still got up here and now I started on that and my sister that I have to stand on. Why don't we? Either side of me that pump air into the Oregon, you know, because my feet were not long enough to reach you and I finally graduated from that I guess do I do about a 10 button accordion for basses, whatever it was real small. Do you know German style accordion? And of course, I thought I had everything when I buy that bought me one of those you probably cost around $30 in those days 25. And me and every year why. I need to get me a little bigger carti. I think I was about 16 17 and my dad got me my first 220 a bass 41 key piano accordion. In fact Lawrence Lawrence and I got the audience about the same time. All alarms is a little bit older than I what kind of music did you play in those days music piano. What were the old songs that have been brought over from that's right. You are older people around here who taught them to your how did you pick him up? Yes, there were some old accordion players around here like Tom Guttenberg. And he play for dances around here and you know parties and things like that. And of course I wouldn't miss one of them for anything for just one reason. Just to hear him play and then I'd I'd listen to try and catch all I could then I'd run home and grab my card and see if I could do the same thing. You know, it's about the way we oh we learned to to playlist and my father he he knew a lot of them. He brought over from Germany. And not he would teach me some of them. Why why is music so important to these people do you say here? I just don't know why I think I'm saving saying that you can go to. I would say at least 60 or 70% of the homes here have an accordion believe it or not. They still do an escape from that hard Farm life is out what they needed something new and those things we didn't have automobiles. You know, we couldn't get in and say a while ago to Bismarck Aberdeen, you know, we have maybe a pony horse and buggy and we'd have to in the evenings. We stay home and furniture on entertainment, you know. Play cards play music saying stuff like that. Of course mine was accordion. You know, it's all start asking you. I imagine I was probably 10 11 12 years old and then of course, the time the pay me for playing. Do you know that was a big problem always so they'd always figure out well, let's see how many we got here. We got them boys here at the picture and you know, I need pass the Hat. But they just wouldn't let you throw in a dimer or nickeled. They would set a price or so that I would come out with with at least $0.50 or $0.75 for Furnishing the music for the evening. Don't you see that idea? I still say we have a nice moment of Lawrence Welk are be the biggest tourist attraction get first place. That should have been up there for all the money. We've been getting from Lawrence on the ready. I'm busy. We didn't get anything no more. We got dropped out because it make no use of the money. He likes to see in solving TV. I remember the first time you come out there. He was the heir to hook up with the was it Casey or Kelly? He was a magician or something. We had an opera house recall Opera House their lips Cafe, they're upstairs and stuff like that and he had hired him the first travel traffic is he had and it came out play the accordion on the stage, you know, I had that kind of a nice tuna, with tight pants. And so I remember that smell because when he was here two years ago was 280 or three years ago, then that zebra Club here we put on that party. I was the only one to remember that to the others were all younger. I could remember the real. Well, you know that when he came and stood on then it was very very nervous. Make an ounces own program very very long time. In fact, he didn't until some guy from a Wocket told him if he would make his own announcement teeth everybody contract form for $5,000 or something then he did say I know one time we were I was in when down by mistake to andaz hotel in Minneapolis. And then now his cousin masculine and he this fella was down there and he was working in some. Bar exam nightclub. This fella is master and a half and run on to him and I know him and this is Lawrence has an estate and Anderson tells us where we were and he was playing in the Orpheum there and it says we'll go over there tonight. He's got two shows on tonight. So we went there were two for the second show after 9, and it around the bank door come in on the stage side. And when we commanded we're already going and he was out in the state recruit Caesar to call it what you called us Carlos. This was something you know what to set up this and he coming back in to change. Your neighbor's sweating and nervous are you this is Lawrence? I don't know. Kelly that's a you know, he was so nervous, you know that the thing when he come in to change clothes or something a little bit and I thought he wouldn't last you know, he was so nervous that but then you got over that find it took a long time while he was afraid. He couldn't speak English pretty good. You know it was there as well when he went to school and everything was German. You know those distant Stars whatever Church everything was younger brother to Lawrence. What was he like, is that young man? But I didn't care too much always wanted to go. He didn't play a little bit for dancers. Was pretty strong big big guy. Where did you learn to play? Well, yeah. See my dad played and my older brother and he had such a love for music. So he he played when he was young already he did. How about you did you ever learn to play? I know I am all I did was chord a little bit. I'm not Laurence and Lauren. That's all I I like to hear it, but I didn't didn't play it. I didn't write this. Did you have a lot of music in your home musical instrument choir? Now that was always working here and I remember my dad when he in the evening. And they were all done and so it took the Oregon the small one. Play the little bit of someone catching some time. Lawrence comes back every year. That's why does it come back? Well, we don't come out there to our sisters and brothers getting pretty old now and so we can we go together a little bit in the fall. Sometimes have a little for Union does he miss this place to think? No, I don't think so. I think it's so much nicer. I would you like to live out there. No, you wouldn't I why do you why do you like living here? Got my children hair sisters. know everybody Have you ever thought of leaving know what has been the most important thing in your life? farming what's been your whole life? Practically? That's right. Is it good way to spend your life? fresh air out here sometimes people day We're out here from Michigan and so and then drove over here and the wind was blowing a little bit from the north. I remember one Feller said that are in Edison. Said you're going to be on today or so. Probably right. What are you doing now when you come on? all lately I fix some fence a little bit. I took one part away over here. Clean up a little and trees over here. simple tree stand put in a pile away or maybe going to burn him later on when? We have to get some snow now. It's a dry and I'll have a head to Departed what do you think you'd miss most if you had to leave here? working on the land I'm speaking with Al Kramer. Who is that? Businessman in Strasburg? He runs the pin Palace bowling alley and Cafe hear. What kind of influence is having a man like Lawrence Welk a nationally famous person have his birthplace here. Has it affected the place to think very much. So I can't hear this every day is the Tourist come through some go out of their way just to come to Strasburg. Even if they didn't know they were this close to Strasburg. They just stop in and say they saw the signs and they had to see something about Lawrence Welk's Hometown and we do send them out to his farm, which is 3 miles west from here. And it definitely has a factor. It's is the birthplace of Lawrence Welk and it's helps the business in town. You didn't hear what it still be the same town. I am afraid not. I'm afraid not because there are a lot of towns that are little largeman Strasburg and don't have a celebrity like we have That are not on the upswing. So, I personally I think it is one of the factors for Strasburg be surviving and on the upswing. What do you think accounts for Success isn't something you got here to think he's Prosper. Well, he came up through the ranks. And money was hard to come by in these days. He learned to work hard and save his money and And it's down the earth guy. And I think that's what made them things and that's what you mean. Generally talk about all the Germans here just do what they are pretty hard workers in. And they don't like to be up in the pedal stool thing. I got the money and I don't know anybody anymore in on this not that attitude that people have here and I think Lawrence walks on the same basis. Make it the hard way and safe. Strasburg North Dakota, our hometown one in a series of sound self-portraits illustrating the attitudes and character of life in small towns produced by Minnesota Public Radio station kccm with funds provided by the North Dakota committee for the Humanities and public issues producers of the series are John ydstie Dennis Hamilton and Bill Sebring. You may purchase a cassette copy of this program by contacting kccm, Concordia College, Moorhead, Minnesota 56560. That's the way it goes in Strasburg.

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Digitization made possible by the State of Minnesota Legacy Amendment’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund, approved by voters in 2008.

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