Thursday, August 4, 2016


Back in the day a young man grew up on a homestead in the German-speaking town of Strasburg, North Dakota.

The youngster left school during the fourth grade to work on the family farm.

But he loved music and he persuaded his father to buy him a mail-order accordion for $400, with the promise that the boy would work on the farm until he was 21 to pay off the debt.

On his 21st birthday, he left the farm to pursue a career in music.

That was in  1924.

Forty years later, Lawrence Welk and his Champagne Music, shown every Saturday night on television, were as familiar on the American landscape as apple pie and just as wholesome.

In 1964 or 1965, Welk made a triumphant return to his home state for a visit and was greeted at the airport in Bismarck like a conquering hero.

I was working for a television station there at that time and went to the airport to film the arrival.

I took along my wife and two small children and they were standing along a ropeline as Welk came through and shook everyone's hand.

But my youngest son was only two or three years old then and, as he was just a little tyke, Welk passed right over him without seeing him.

I noticed Scott crying and my wife told me what had happened.

So I picked Scott up and took him over to the maestro.

The next moment was captured by a still photographer.

Lawrence Welk was a millionaire many times over, thanks to his savvy investments in Southern California real estate, but he remained just a nice guy from North Dakota.

(Cue the bubble machine)


Anonymous said...

One toke over the line, a song performed on his show. He never realized it was about smoking a little dope. Really funny when you think about it. Look it up on You Tube.



Catalyst said...

Oh I know about that. Funny how they posed it as a gospel tune.

The Bug said...

Aw what a nice story!

L Lewis said...

Never knew the back story, but this is how my parents met! My mother was in California with her sister visiting her aunt, who happened to know my dad's sister. They all went out to a Lawrence Welk dance place that was cantilevered over the ocean. There, my parents met and when my dad was in the war in Germany they corresponded and later married. Growing up, there wasn't a Saturday night in our house when we didn't watch the Lawrence Welk Show.

joeh said...

A wonaful story.

Val said...

A $400 accordion! That was a steep price in those days. No wonder he had to work so long to pay it off. Of course, he probably would have worked on the farm that long anyway...

Tom Cochrun said...

Wella, wella! Just hearing that music lightens the mood doesn't it? A simpler, more innocent and bright time.
That's a neat picture too.

Lowandslow said...

Nice to hear about good-guy celebrities. They're too rare these days.

Geezers said...

Great story. And a priceless photo.

Stephen Hayes said...

Extremely heartwarming. I wasn't a fan of his music but he was always wholesome, upbeat and scandal free,

Frank Phillippi said...

Great story. I used to watch Welk as a little kid with my grandparents. Thirty years later a friend took me to a bar/general store on an Indian Reservation in New Mexico and the old guys were watching Lawrence Welk on a tiny black and white TV. Real staying power.

Zhoen said...

I'm glad he was nice. Because reruns of that show when I worked in the nursing home haunt my nightmares.

Thérèse said...

A precious photo with a priceless story.