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Ach du lieber!

January 31, 2013 - Karin Elton
I’m not usually a fan of polka music or accordion music, but I do like live music and lively people. Though we were at a sad setting, a hospice, the joint was jumping Wednesday afternoon.

Musician Larry Olsen of Lake Benton played his accordion for Prairie Home Hospice residents, family and friends at the request of a hospice volunteer, Ruth Bot, on behalf of resident Elmer Grimes. Grimes is 98 and loves old-time music and has been to many dances where the Larry Olsen Band has performed. He even plays the button accordion himself and accompanied Olsen.

After Olsen played a few tunes, Grimes picked up his accordion and played “Home on the Range” and “You Are My Sunshine.”

Olsen took requests from the audience which included Ray and Evelyn Hively, who live at Boulder Estates now. Evelyn told me that she used to babysit my husband and his siblings in Lynd. Ray was on oxygen and was in wheelchair, but that didn’t dampen his personality at all. I later told Evelyn their last name should be “Lively” instead of “Hively” because they are a couple of cards. Ray had a horn attached to one arm of his wheelchair and he give it a couple of honks it after a particularly pulsating polka.

During a couple of polkas, Evelyn grabbed hospice volunteer Betty Krogman and they danced in the kitchen — away from the reporter’s camera, they said. I snapped a few pics anyway. The hospice house is an open layout and the camera has a zoom lens.

The quips were flying inbetween the playing of “Beer Barrel Polka” and “Roll Out the Barrel.”

“Do you remember ‘The Old Lady Polka?” Olsen asked Grimes. “I remember “Pistol Packin’ Mama,” Grimes replied and played a few bars before saying “That’s all she done.”

Ray remembered that Olsen’s dad drove a Kaiser automobile — an apparently steady-as-she-goes vehicle. “He put a 7-Up bottle on the hood and drove from Tyler to Lake Benton and it never fell off,” he said.

Names from the old days where thrown out and most of the people there knew the names or a relative of the person. “Do you remember Norman Hall from Russell?” said Olsen. “He played accordion.” “I took care of his mother,” said Evelyn. “He had a sister in town here,” said Olsen. “Babcock — Irma.”

“Do you remember Otto Hagedorn from Tyler? Olsen asked Grimes and the Hivelys. Olsen said one time in church Hagedorn put a box on the pew where Olsen was seated. Hagedorn said “Olsen, that’s for you but you can’t look at it until you get home.” Olsen said he had a hard time sitting through the sermon thinking about that box.

Olsen said an accordion was inside the box. Hagedorn couldn’t play it anymore so he gave it to Olsen.

Grimes played “Home on the Range” again.

Ray asked Olsen if he could play “Ach Du Lieber Augustin.” He asked Olsen if he was German.

Olsen replied that he was German and Norwegian. “I said, “But your name is spelled ‘sen’ — aren’t you Danish?”

He said that he wasn’t Danish, that the family name used to be something different, but was changed to Olsen when they came to America. “The story goes that (his ancestor) said, ‘we’ve already got an “o,” let’s put an “e” in there,” Olsen said.

“Here’s a song that I know,” said Grimes and the familiar notes of “Home on the Range” filled the air once more.


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