Bancroft News

Band music was an important part of town life

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I'm sorry, folks, that there was no column in last week’s paper. At 7:09 a.m. that morning, we received word that Larry, my son who had been in the motorcycle accident over two months ago, had just passed away. He had been doing so well, as I reported every week, and he suddenly took a turn for the worse. He was taken back to the trauma hospital where he first went, but he had so many things wrong with his insides that needed surgeries, he just wasn't strong enough to withstand it. We are having a visitation for him from 1-4 p.m. Sat., Feb. 13, at the Bancroft Presbyterian Church, and there will be 'celebration of life' and inurnment at a later date. Masks suggested but optional.

Ted Houge was the speaker at the Presbyterian Church on Sunday, Feb. 7, and Brad Magness was the speaker the previous Sunday.

Rose Grothe’s children visited during the past two weeks. Sharon Pieper of Valley Springs and Janice White of Brookings on Jan. 31, and Dale and Peggy Martens of Aberdeen on Feb. 6. Dale and Peggy's son, Eric, and his son, Jeremiah, joined them for lunch. Jeremiah was playing in a basketball tournament in Arlington that day.

more history

In 1888, a band pavilion was built, and music became a part of this town's life. The earliest recollected band was a group prior to 1910 with C. E. Norton the director and Ernest and Henry Rusche members of the group. The band idea then faded out of the picture for a short time until the Lutheran church started a chorus using the only available instruments around, which belonged to the Rusche family.

This group was going especially strong under the Rev. R. Schoenbel (1908-10). The choir then developed into another band which started under the Rev. E. Senst in 1918. He conducted the town band until around 1921, when it became more than a Lutheran band, it became a community band. Other directors on through the years, until it finally disbanded around 1927, were Ernest Rusche, following Rev. Senst, Mr. Gowers and finally Mr. Odenbaugh.

It is said the band would generally practice about one night a week (usually Wednesday) at the schoolhouse or at Eilt’s grocery store (present Zell building). Their performances would generally be during the summer at the bandstand south of the post office, in somebody's yard or at Sports Day. They were even to venture out as far as the Spirit Lake Church.

One of the incidents, which made for an interesting day, was the time Harm Dirksen, on July 4 at Willow Lake, lost his bass drum beater, and it flew into the air and came down on the beat after being caught by him. The crowd thought this was quite a bit of fancy work. There was also the time when director Odenbaugh sat on a town dunking machine feeling confident he would never get wet, and one of the young band members came up behind the machine to the trip and released it, giving the director a good soaking.

The band was financed by itself as each member paid dues, and there was a 25 cent fine per member for every time he would miss practice. The high school band soon took over, and when the members began moving away to other states and other areas, along with a loss of interest on the part of some, they decided to draw out what they could from the bank (which went broke in 1933) and hold an oyster feed.

Some say there still is some of the treasury left.

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