Tuesday, July 26, 2005
The End of an Era
I remember with fondness the summer weeks I would spend at my grandparents house in northern Wisconsin.
They had an old - and I mean old - record player. It looks like a wardrobe, but you open the top and the controls for a record player and a radio are underneath. I imagine it must be at least 60 years old.
From that record player came my introduction to polka music. My grandparents were born in Munich, Germany and Riga,Latvia. Needless to say, there was plenty of "wurst" around. No muslims need apply.
For some reason, I liked to hear one particular album, and it was full of old polka hits. My grandma still lives in that house and I imagine that record is still up there somewhere, probably where I left it 20 years ago on that record player. I will have to take a look next time I visit. Anyway, the fellow pictured above, Myron Floren, is featured several times on that record. He just died yesterday. Darn.
He was a regular feature on the Lawrence Welk show. For those who may not be familiar with the Welk show, it just simply defies explanation, but I will give it a shot. It was on TV for some 35 years. The show was a mix of big band music, along with goofy skits put on by people who were singing along as they acted. Every show eventually has a polka in it and Myron Floren was "the man". His fingers slinked along that accordion keyboard like nobody elses, with the occasional wrist flick for style points, almost like a basketball player spinning the ball on one finger and saying "not only can I dunk, but look at this!"
The reruns of the Lawrence Welk show still show here in Wisconsin (and other places, I imagine) every Saturday and I have introduced my kids to it. We always sit through the skits and musical numbers to get to the best morsel of the show - the polka. Myron Floren, rest in peace.