Recollections of Columbia, Wisconsin
by Mabel Schlender Jonkel
Contributed by Sarah Poertner
transcribed by Crystal Wendt & Michelle Harder.
The wedding picture of Mary and Fred Meitzke. The bride wore a blue dress and the attendants wore white.
The first dance hall was above my dadís saloon in 1898. Many folks came from surrounding areas including the Indians who also had a dance one evening.
When Dad Schlender started the general store, the hall was discontinued. Then homes were opened for neighborhood dances. We used to pile young folks in a hay rack or sled with four horses and go out four miles for a dance. The home was owned by Attorney Lowell of Elgin, Illinois. Before his marriage Bill Ambelang was the caretaker. The home had a nice hardwood floor, well waxed and ideal for dancing.
One summer my dad put up a pavilion on a knoll in front of the store. There were tree boughs for a roof and it was a place to dance. Another summer William Schulz had such a place at his home. In the fall before hay was put into the barn Charles Ehlert use to have barn dances.
Then came our Columbia Hall, known as the Modern Woodman Hall which saw many wonderful times. Sometimes the crowds were so great one could hardly dance. This was especially so at out masquerade balls which were always held on New Yearís Eve. Neighboring townís people would come.
The Ehlert Brothers, Art(center) and George(right), teamed up with a fiddler friend for happy times.
For music we could always depend upon Fred Moser, Sr., with his violin. Elliott Bliss was also a great "fiddler." He could chew tobacco and stomp
His foot in perfect times. Sometimes the Dux and Wagners boys of Hewettville played. Leat and Paul McKinney played first and second violin and Irving Twamley on mandolin.
For several seasons George Barz, formerly of Chicago, played on his concertina. Art and George Ehlert play violin and accordian. Later years the Keller Brothers five piece orchestra played. Toward the last, Mike Horak played his accordian.
Columbia was very active and alive in its day. There never was a dull moment. There were clubs, dances, sociables, home talent plays, skiing, coasting (on the hills west of Columbia), skating parties, sled and hay rack parties, marshmallow and wieny roast, picnics, as well as many school and church activities.
When we needed to raise money for any cause, the dances and plays were given and proceeds went for the cause. All added up to many pleasant memories and wonderful friends.
The young people spent many happy hours blending voices round
Mabel Schlenderís organ or piano.
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