Music That Will Make An Old Man Dance
A crowd ready to dance at Oscar's Palladium in Sargent, Nebraska in the early 1950s.
We recently obtained a collection of over 70 posters from Oscar’s Palladium, a dance hall located in Sargent (Custer County), Nebraska. Oscar’s was owned by Oscar Melham and in addition to being a dance hall, the building included a bar and supper club and even hosted roller skating nights.
Many big name music acts were booked at Oscar’s including Lawrence Welk, the Dorsey Brothers, and Guy Lombardo. Polka, Oompah, and Schottische bands were also popular as were “Territory” bands, which traveled specific regions of the country, and commonly played the hits of the day as well as their own music. Nebraska was in the MINK circuit which included Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas (thus the acronym). It is estimated that there were more than 300 dance bands actively playing in Nebraska from 1948 to 1957.
Below are a few of the posters from our new collection and give you a small taste of what Oscar’s had to offer.
–Deb Arenz, Senior Museum Curator
- The 6 Fat Dutchmen were a band out of New Ulm, Minnesota. The band was formed sometime around 1936 by Harold Loeffelmacher. They were known for their Oompah style polka music and often appeared on the John Deere bandstand on KEYC-TV, in Mankato. They were booked to play at the Nebraska State Fair for 26 years straight and over 24 years they recorded 800 polkas for RCA Victor and Dot Records.
A website devoted to Lincoln band history includes a band called The Chessmen and states that they were active in the mid-1960s. It is unknown if this is the same band or if there was another band with the same name out of Wayne, Nebraska.
The Redtops were a band out of Norfolk, Nebraska. One of the band members was Mike Sund, who played guitar and sang. Sund was born in 1944 and attended Norfolk Junior High and High School. Mike was an original member of several Norfolk rock bands, including David Lee and the Continentals, The Classics, Little Joe and the Ramrods.
This poster is for Bobby Mills of Grand Island, Nebraska. KGHI television featured "The Bobby Mills Show" with The Bobby Mills Orchestra as the "house band" along with guest artists. Bobby's sons, Bobby Mills, Jr., and Ron, were featured extensively on the program. The show ran during the late 1960s into the early 1970s.
This poster is advertising the Territory Band Skipper Berg and the WOI Viking Accordian Band. The band was booked out of Albert Lea, Minnesota, and had a program on WOI in Ames, Iowa. The band formed sometime around 1930 and wore Scandinavian costumes during their performances although they played German, Czech, Irish, Italian and American music in addition to Scandinavian. By 1940, they shed their Scandinavian costumes and wore tuxedos and continued to play into the mid 1950s.
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