Polka fun for all at Echo-Eagles Hall

The 1952 Christmas dance at Echo Hall. Musicians, from left, were Zipp, Zunker, Dietert, Rahe, Constable and Wiliam Richter, plus children from dancing parents. Courtesy photo

After reading the Herald-Zeitung newspaper article on locals remembering the fun times at the Eagles Hall and regretting its closing, many happy memories came to mind that the members of the Hi-Toppers Orchestra experienced at Echo (and later Eagles) Hall during their beginning years. 

The first experience was during a masquerade dance at Echo Hall when Gordon Zunker (trumpet), Darvin Dietert (tuba) and Alton Rahe (clarinet) participated as the Ach und Krach Kapelle (Make or Break Band). It was only a few months later, in 1949, that they added three more musicians (Melford Haag, Allen Moehrig, Kenneth Rheinlander) and the Hi-Toppers Orchestra had its beginning. Karl Zipp and Aubrey Constable replaced musician later.

According to Gordon Zunker’s dance record book, the following year, in 1950, the Hi-Toppers played for the masquerade dance at Echo Hall where 800 dance tickets were sold for the occasion. In those years the dance hall had only benches around the perimeter, or else the hall could have never been able to accommodate that many participants.

Many dance memories were made at Echo Hall where the Hi-Toppers played 63 dances during the next four years, 1949-1952. The 63 included monthly public dances, as well as fundraiser, wedding and anniversary dances.

Another first occurred at Echo Hall for the Hi-Toppers when at an anniversary dance, free beer was served for the entire evening of dancing. Prior to that, the celebrating couple had free keg beer served only during the first intermission of the dance.

The 1952 photo of the Hi-Toppers at Echo Hall was chosen to show that in those days, dances were attended by the entire family — mother, dad and the youngsters.

After 1958, the Hi-Toppers played at the hall for a total of 52 occasions when it was owned and operated by the Fraternal Order of Eagles.

On a personal note, I have many happy memories of Rahe family wedding and anniversary celebrations at Echo-Eagles Hall. We celebrated my sister and our own weddings with meals served in the basement located below the stage when the Echo Association was the owner. My parents celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary, and our daughter’s wedding was held there when it was the Eagles Hall. The basement was turned into a private club and the two entrances to the basement were closed under the Eagles ownership.

As stated in the Bible. “There is a Season for Everything.” It appears that this dance site is nearing its end of the season after providing more than 100 years of enjoyment, including years of entertainment under prior managements.  

A final thought: An enjoyable season, where lots of good memories were made, is a season which the participants hate to see come to an end — which is true for the Echo-Eagles Hall. Let’s not let that happen again.

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