My mother’s birthday is New Year’s Day. This year, Matt decided it would be fun to take her, my father and our family, to Molly B and the Squeezebox Band which were performing at the Rose Garden Hall in Hays. Knowing full well that Molly B is second only to Anacani and Lawrence Welk in my husband’s mind, I rolled my eyes wondering if the offer was self-serving or a genuine heartfelt gesture. However, as I know my German-Catholic mother from Liebenthal loves polka music, I conceded that it was a great idea.
So, Thursday morning when it was about 11:30 and 12 degrees, I was standing in line waiting to get into the performance. As I stood there, legitimately feeling underage, I thought to myself about how much I must love my mother to have agreed to this.
Now, in my defense, I don’t really mind polka music, but you won’t catch me playing a polka CD because I get my fill of it every Saturday night watching the Molly B Polka Party on RFD TV. (And, I learned that there is a different Molly B Polka Party Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m. and Thursday mornings at 4—although I don’t think even Molly B could get Matt out of bed at 4 a.m.)
Fortunately, we were able to find a table at this packed event. It seemed like extra chairs and tables were sprouting up in every nook and cranny to accommodate the huge crowd. But where else would you be able to spend four hours kicking up your heels to a nationally known band for only 10 bucks?
That’s when reality hit me.
Growing up in a rather large family, we attended wedding or anniversary celebrations about every other month. I attended school dances in high school and college. But it was very rare that I heard a D.J. In fact, D.J.s were a novelty, as almost every event I went to had a live band. Even my wedding and senior prom had a band. I spent my free Friday and Saturday nights attending outdoor “concerts” and street dances where you could dance the night away for a couple bucks. I grew up listening to Submission, Blind Date, Jimmy Dee, Freddie Fox, AND about every polka band in about a 100-mile radius of Hays. Even my grandfather played in a band. I remember attending funerals where an accordion or two would be pulled out after lunch to the delight of fellow mourners.
Now I know, you can still buy tickets to see live concerts. But they’re usually not designed as dancing events. Occasionally a local bar will have a band you can dance to, but that’s not really my scene anymore. Weddings and anniversaries? I only remember one with a live band in the past 15 years and that was my parent’s 45th anniversary 8 years ago. Even my daughter who is starting to plan her wedding wants a D.J. As far as funerals are concerned, I haven’t heard live music outside of the church service for more than 30 years.
I didn’t realize how much I had taken for granted my exposure to local musical talent. It saddens me that my children will barely know the joy of dancing to live music—not to mention hanging out with the really super cool band when they are taking a break. These are some of my favorite childhood memories that my own children won’t have the opportunity to experience.
So sing on Molly B and thanks for helping me to remember just how lucky I am.
Mary Hoisington is the publisher of the Great Bend Tribune. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.