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Bob Lind, Published March 16 2014

Neighbors: Rec center welcomed many musical acts

The Red Dogs. The Fab Flippers. The Castaways. And don’t forget the Churchkeys.

They were among the musical groups that once performed in the area, including at the Legion Recreation Center in Halstad, Minn., which has been a topic of several Neighbors’ columns.

Those columns listed some of the bands that played the LRC, as the rec center is commonly called. Paul Lee now adds more names to the list: the Canois, the Cornerstones, Spider and the Crabs.

Paul grew up in the Shelly, Minn., area, went to school in Halstad and moved to Duluth, Minn., “a few years ago,” he writes in quotation marks.

“The (musical) groups would play the LRC one night and then most likely work the Maple Lake Pavilion northeast of Fertile (Minn.) Sunday nights,” he says.

“You could tell when it was summer, as the bands from greater distances would make the northern circuit tour then.

“After the dances, we’d head up to Fabian’s in Nielsville (Minn.) for some authentic Mexican food,” Paul says.

Speaking of the Maple Lake Pavilion, Doug Sorenson, who grew up in Crookston, Minn., and now lives at Maple Lake, says that pavilion booked many of the same bands as the LRC. “But it also had bands and acts of bigger status,” he says. “In fact, the Everly Brothers learned to water ski on Maple Lake.”

Doug also notes that two bands mentioned in an earlier column, the Red Dogs and the Fab Flippers, were from Oklahoma City.

Now, here’s Jerry Bass, who writes that he was a member of the Churchkeys.

Jerry, originally from New Rockford, N.D., and all but one of the seven other members of that band were University of North Dakota students. The exception, who was the lead singer, was a high school senior.

“The first dance I played as a member of that group was in the LRC,” Jerry writes. “The other trumpet player and I had learned only two or three songs and had been rehearsing for a week.

“We returned to the LRC and many other sites in northwestern Minnesota and in eastern North Dakota on weekends over the next couple of years, but spent the summers on the road – especially the summer of ’68 when we played clubs from Lawrence, Kan., to Battle Creek, Mich.”

It seems appropriate that Jerry was a member of a group called the Churchkeys, because he became a minister. But not at first.

“I spent 15 years in Minnesota school districts as teacher, coach and administrator,” he writes; “10 years as professor and administrator at Oklahoma State University, and then some time back at UND as a faculty member before being called into ministry.

“I am now serving a one-year appointment as pastor for the United Methodist churches in Perham and Dent, Minn., having retired from full-time ministry after eight years as senior pastor of the Wesley United Methodist Church in Grand Forks.

“While I am living in a parsonage in Perham,” he says, “Grand Forks is still home, as that’s where our house is and that’s where my wife Gail resides while in her final year before retiring from the occupational therapy department at UND.

“In retirement,” Jerry says, “we’ll be splitting time between there and our seasonal cabin on Big Floyd Lake north of Detroit Lakes, Minn.”

And maybe he’ll still be humming tunes he played as a member of the Churchkeys.

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