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Bob Lind, Published August 19 2012

Lind: Readers share memories of Lankin’s polka bands

The beat rolls on; the beat from the old bands out of Lankin, N.D., that is.

A Neighbors item about them weeks ago led several people to send in their memories of the polka bands formed in Lankin.

Here is a photo of one of them, sent in by Charles “Chuck” Ruzicka, Fargo.

Chuck’s grandfather, Edward Ruzek, who formed the Ruzek band when he was 19, is its leader, and one of the musicians in the Rose band is Chuck’s uncle, Ed Rose.

Chuck’s mother told him the Ruzek band played dance jobs and barn dances nearly every weekend, with each member getting paid 50 cents per job.

Jack McDonald, the trumpeter in the Ruzek band, later played in John Philip Sousa’s band.

The Rose band, which preferred being called an orchestra, was very popular in the 1930s, Chuck says. But it declined several invitations to tour nationally, because it would have taken it too far from home.

“Unfortunately, the Rose Brothers did not become a nationally known polka band as a result,” Chuck says, although it did earn the reputation of being “the region’s top polka band.”

Chuck says he grew up hearing many polka bands in the Lankin area. In fact, he occasionally played with the George Barta band when he was in high school.

“I have long been removed from that genre of music,” Chuck writes, “but I still have much admiration for these dedicated musicians and their music.”

Chuck knows something about music. He’s a professor emeritus of music from Minnesota State University Moorhead.

Musical genes obviously run in his family.

If you have an item of interest for this column, mail it to Neighbors, The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107; fax it

to (701) 241-5487; or email blind@forumcomm.com