The Texas Polka News, a publication dedicated to promoting dance hall music, announces a new chapter in its endeavor to bring happy music to happy people. Theresa Cernoch Parker, current publisher of the Texas Polka News (TPN) and polkabeat.com, will handing over the reins of the media outlet to Gary E. McKee, on August 1, 2020. Ms. Parker bought the paper in 2014 from the estate of Julius Tupa who founded the paper in 1987. The paper complimented her website, polkabeat. com, and was vital to keeping the dance floors full and educating the public on the cultural history of Texas. Mr. McKee, a photojournalist, had been providing content for her website and assumed editor and photojournalistic duties when Ms. Parker purchased the paper.
Now it stands to reason there doesn’t seem to be anything strange about a polka band being formed by high school students in the middle of German/ Czech Texas in the 1950s. However, for a group of them to be performing together in the new millennium under similar circumstances is pretty amazing.
Those of you surfing YouTube looking for some comic relief and an escape from pandemic shut-in, no doubt have run across the East Bell County Corona Busters. The video is a product of local Temple, Texas friends starting with businessman, Billy Popelka who “had an idea”. He enlisted the aid of two of his friends, Jerry Haisler (from the Melody 5), and Earl Nottingham (a professional photographer). The original thought was, “Let’s do this fun thing to lighten the mood and center it on the “good ole (Czech or wannabe Czechs) boys and girls in East Bell County who use crazy props, dress up funny, and drive up in this big ole black Hummer. Their mission is to fight the Coronavirus – East Bell County style. The setting would be out in front of historic Tom Sefcik Hall at Seaton Texas. We’ll invite a couple of friends and just have fun with it, but also have a serious message at the end thanking medical staff, first responders, grocery store folks, truck drivers, postal carriers, etc.
In today’s world, the radio airwaves produce a bountiful array of Country, Pop, Hip-Hop, Talk as well as other popular genres. Unfortunately, polkas have for many years taken a backseat in radio. But there are still several outlets that can satisfy that “oompah” craving. One such outlet is the American Czech Hour on KHBR Radio in Hillsboro, Texas. In fact, Father’s Day 2020 marked 50 years of offerings from this polka outlet. During this half century of programming, the show has been broadcasting polkas and waltzes every Sunday afternoon for an hour and a half.
Michael Dean (Mike) Barker, age 66, passed away in Corpus Christi, Texas on Sun., May 3, 2020.