Clark County Press, Neillsville, WI

February, 20, 1992, Page 20

Transcribed by Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon.

Index of "Oldies" Articles 





By Larry Dorst, Borrego Springs, CA


Another Dance


Once again it’s a Friday night in the winter of 1936.  Snow flakes flutter down and in the cold, frosty air smoke rises from chimneys of the Moose Hall in Neillsville.  The caretaker had been busy that late afternoon getting the hall in order for a dance where teenagers will glide over a well-waxed floor.


At 16, I was putting on another dance, something the parents overwhelmingly approved in this small mid city in the thirties.  To start with, there had been chaperons, but after the first few weekly dances, they had fallen into oblivion for now it became obvious the members of the Neillsville High School were quite capable of running their own show. 


All the essential ingredients were there: a big amplifier, a 16-inch speaker, record player and a fair-sized amount of popular dance tunes.


Dave Thayer, Thayer photo Studios, had purchased the amplifier and speaker from the Adler Theatre who had replaced their sound equipment with more up-to-date units.  We constructed a speaker housing made of wood, purchased a single play turntable and microphone; we were now in the sound business.


Dave was not only a photographer, but a member of the school board and had the reputation of helping more than one high school student graduate.


Through donations of records and those I purchased, from time to time from the Schultz Brothers Variety Store, we had a pretty good repertoire of popular dance tunes.  The records I purchased were three for one dollar, popular tunes by Wayne King, Guy Lombardo and Henry Busse, to mention a few. 


Dave and I split the profits from this enterprise while kindly Mr. Paulus, owner of the Neillsville Bottling Works supplied me with cases of soda at no charge.  To cover expenses, I charged 10 cents for a soda and admission to the dance.  Even with this kind of revenue, there was little profit.  Dave’s return on his investment was many times non-existent.


With the aid of some folding chairs and card tables, I managed to achieve a night club atmosphere.  Several times some of us got together and put on a floor show.  There was a wooden stage and a couple of spot lights.  I still have memories of a girl named Vera who in (a) husky voice did a pretty good rendition of “Mood Indigo.”


There was Louie, a friend of mine who came to the dance wearing the loudest tie and socks he could find.  I tried to keep up with him, I didn’t want to be outdone; however, I never did succeed, unfortunately.  He and Les, another good friend, would often help me take the rig down from the Thayer’s Studio to the Moose Hall.  It was pretty heavy.  We’d get there shortly after supper.  By then, the hall would be warm and waves of heat would gush out to meet us from the wood-fired stoves.


During the dances, I had an enviable job.  Despite my shortcoming as a dancer, I never had trouble getting a partner.  When each song was finished, a new record had to be put on the turntable.  My partner had the privilege of choosing the new tune.


That was long ago, but on a cold, windy night with a bit of snow, it’s not hard to imagine a ghostly enclave of teenagers who once more get together and dance to the sound of the big bands. 


The Moose Hall mentioned in Larry Dorst’s memories was on the second floor of the Nash Garage, with proprietor, Bill Whaley at the time.  Presently, Gene Ross Auto Clinic is on that site, the northeast corner of 5th and Grand.  The Neillsville bottling building was located where the Ben Franklin parking lot is now, and Mr. Paulus lived next door (on the present Ben Franklin store site).


If you were around Neillsville in the 1930s, then you may remember “Stelloh’s Implement” shop.  Fred Stelloh’s dealership was located on the northwest corner of the intersection of 5th Street and Grand Avenue (currently the parking lot of Bob & Caryl’s IGA).  After this building was torn down, an IGA grocery business was built and served the community until 1987 when Bob and Caryl Solberg had a new and larger building constructed to accommodate their grocery business.  This photo was probably taken in the mid-1930s.




Wall’s Service Station in 1950s with new addition.



Wall’s Service Station as it appeared in 1936 and is still located on the Southwest corner of 5th Street and Grand Avenue.  It was then the Deep Rock Station.  The gas station business was started by Fred Wall in 1927.  His son, Todd “Ellis” Wall (shown in the photo at age 5) began working with the business in year 1950 and is the present owner.


Pictured above is the inside of Wall’s Service Station in 1950s.






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