January 8th…”DURING THE FROZEN WINTERS, WHAT INDOOR FAMILY ACTIVITY WAS FUN TO ENJOY?”
Outside of our quaint farmhouse walls, “Jack Frost” was having a good old time decorating our windows with icy swirls, but inside our warm and cozy home, we were doing some swirls of our own.
Each week, my family looked forward to watching “THE JOHN DEERE BANDWAGON” television show that flew out over the airwaves from KEYC Channel 12 broadcasting station in Mankato, Minnesota. “THE JOHN DEERE BANDWAGON” was brought to life in 1960 and, in its early heyday, was sponsored by many of the John Deere tractor dealerships of southern Minnesota.
Many local and national polka bands would come to entertain not only the television audience watching, but also for the many farm families that would drive to the studio to enjoy dancing to live music while the television show was being filmed for broadcast.
I loved to watch local couples dancing on the TV screen to this happy Nordic music. Many of these dear farmers were from various Scandinavian backgrounds such as Norwegian, Swedish, German and other northern ancestries. A smile would creep across my face as it was easily seen that these dear, balding men with amply fluffy farm wives were ensconced in the lifestyle of agriculture. The main reason for this recognition was that the men bore the mark of the “farmer’s tan”. You see, in order to protect their skin from the harsh elements of Summer’s weather, any wise farmer would wear either a baseball cap or a full brimmed hat. Day in and day out, while tending their crops, those head coverings protected them from the brutal Midwest sun. From the midpoint of the man’s forehead, to his chin and neck, these hardworking men were burnt brown, yet upward from their bald or receding hairlines, their scalp was white as snow.
The device used to bring us this weekly musical merriment, was our little black and white television set that was tucked into the corner of our linoleum-floored Living Room. Within that glowing picture tube were the sources for our gateway to entertainment, learning, and in this case, a rousing good time. Chairs and other furniture were sometimes moved off to the edges of the Living Room to allow us kids a chance to wiggle and giggle as we knew the show was about to come on the air.
Our beloved sister, Rosemary, was the happy ignition switch that usually sparked a party attitude wherever she went. When the television master of ceremonies turned over the microphone to Harold Loeffelmacher and His Six Fat Dutchmen, Rosie often would grab either myself or little sister, Candi and would spin us around the Living Room as the polka music would fill the house with songs like, “You’re Too Old To Cut The Mustard Anymore”.
It may have been dark and dreadfully cold on the outside of our farm home, but inside we basked in warm smiles and outright laughter as us little tikes sometimes rode upon the feet of big sister as she attempted to teach us to waltz, polka and even try the schottische dances. Our loving parents couldn’t help but giggle right along with us kids as their progeny not only made memories there in front of them, but also, in a childishly quaint way, maintained the heritage of the Scandinavian ways from timeless eras gone by. Those truly were warm memories inside our warm home for this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.