- WARM 'WELK'OME'
Lawrence Welk Show' alumni
perform at 4-H fair grandstand
By Marcia Fulmer
Elkhart Truth newspaper, Elkhart, Indiana
July 20, 2002
That's the easiest description of the music that floated through
the Elkhart Co. 4-H Fair Grandstand Friday morning as "The
Lawrence Welk Show" alumni Guy and Ralna and Myron Floren
took about 2,000 mainly senior citizens on a melodic trip down
memory lane. Even the champagne bubbles were recreated, thanks
to a group of GinDor Inc. employees who took the day off to help
at the fair. Seated right nest to the stage, they created a continuous
flow of bubbles throughout most of the hour and a half performance.
- The excellent tuxedo-clad Tim Forneck
Orchestra from Grand Rapids, Mich., played and, en masse, went
from jackets to shirt sleeves as the heat increased.
- The Welk show has not been on television
"live" since 1982, but PBS re-runs have kept its performers
perennially pouffed and polyestered.From "Stop and Smell
the Roses" through a variety of oldies ("My Blue Heaven,"
"Tangerine," "Only You," "Side by Side,"
"You'll Never Know") and gospel ("Put Your Hand,"
"How Great Thou Art"), the singing duo of Guy Hovis
and Ralna English demonstrated the vocal power--individually
and together--that made them popular favorites on the weekly
cavalcade of music.
- The tuxedo-clad Guy and red-gowned Ralna
work comfortably together, no surprise except the once married
duo, the Welk show's dream couple, has been divorced since 1984,
a fact Ralna explained early on. Earlier Guy said some fans didn't
know of the split until years later, because it happened after
the show left the air. Both insist Welk performers are still
"one big happy family," a statement that has to be
believed after seeing them on stage and off. All are proud of
the "Milestones and Memories" TV special which brought
surviving Welk show members together.
- Another is planned for March, but this
time, according to Guy, there will be only about 18 invited performers.
- Today Ralna lives in Scottsdale, Ariz..,
and performs the most of any of the three. Guy, now remarried,
says his "day job" as state director for Sen. Trent
Lott (R-Miss.) limits his outside performance time. He did admit
his favorite music is gospel and, if he had his choice, he would
be first tenor in a gospel quartet. "Being on the Lawrence
Welk Show was my only claim to fame," he said grinning before
the show, while wondering whether he would be able to sing so
early in the morning (no problem). "I was the utility man,"
he said. "If there was a song that didn't fit anyone else,
they'd say--Give it to Guy.
- Although glad that PBS has kept the show
alive, he rarely watches the re-runs. "It's those clothes
and that hair from the"70's," he cringed. His mom,
however, still watches and she tells me every time I'm not on.
- "Today, the place I'm in is real
nice," Guy said. "I can sing when, where and what I
want...and even for free because I don't have to make a living
- The senior member of Friday's performing
trio was the amazing Myron Floren, a very youthful 82 (almost
83), whose warm grin and hearty handshake tend to make a stranger
feel like a longtime acquaintance. A big hit at last year's senior
day, the mostly-retired Floren said then he'd like to return.
It was obvious the audience was glad he did.
- He was joined once again for "Beer
Barrel Polka" by Goshen Mayor Allan Kauffman after newly
crowned Senior Queen Julia Bauman shared an on-stage dance with
young Tyler Hostetler. Poking fun at the problems of advancing
age (he suffered a slight stroke during a performance in '98),
Floren introduced medleys by announcing, "I'm gonna play
three songs. I forget the first, but you'll know it" or
"I can't think of it...but the first one's in G and the
next one's in C."
- The laughter was definitely empathetic.
The musician who gave new life and new status to the accordion,
"cut down" on public appearances, doing only about
20 shows a year instead of 150 to 200.
- He still practices daily at his home outside
of Los Angeles, a habit that began in Sioux Falls, S.D., when
Myron, 15 got his first piano accordion and practiced eight to
10 hours per day.
- It was the instrument that was his first
love and, like his wife of 56 years and his five daughters, is
still the love of his life.
- A patriotic medley concluded the show...and
the bubbles were still floating.