-Take a Mulligan-

Band Concerts In Chelsea!

John Sheda
A view of the former Chelsea Bandstand Photo Provided by John Sheda

Attached to this column is an old picture of Chelsea’s Bandstand. Truly a piece of Americana. An icon to “Chelsea-ites.” To anyone growing up in the 50’s and 60’s and even into the early 70’s I think, the Bandstand could only mean one thing–BAND CONCERTS. Every Wednesday night during the summer months, the little town of Chelsea blossomed with excitement, music, crowds, car-honking; and just plain old fun for all ages. Especially a kid of nine or ten. Or a kid of 60 or 70. Something for everyone for sure.

The excitement every Wednesday began around 4pm on Wednesdays. Now to be fair, Chelsea also hosted Saturday night “Hootenannies” which included the same Bandstand, albeit different music–I think!! But this column is dedicated to the Wednesday Night Band Concerts . Our town cop, Leonard Klenk would get the town tractor out, hook up the old Bandstand, which was kept hidden away behind the Water Tower, and he slowly, (everything was slowly in Chelsea in this era), made the ten or so blocks to set it up for the evening’s night of music.

The band concerts were held either uptown or downtown. Yes, Chelsea had both back then. Uptown was on the north side of the railroad tracks while downtown was on, of course, on the south side of the tracks. Or was it the other way around? Regardless,on both sides of the town, the bandstand was sent up on the west side of the street. And when it was set on the south side, the Bandstand was almost right in front of Sheda’s Grocery Store. Right next to Ryan’s & Hine’s Hardware Store also. Across the street was Uridel’s tavern, which I’m sure did a brisk and profitable business on Wednesday nights. Boheme’s enjoyed their “Pivo.”

Chelsea probably doubled in size on band concert nights. The stores were open. “Pop-Corn Annie” was selling her popcorn. Dad made us sell too. But so very hard to compete against Popcorn Annie. Plus the Sheda kids didn’t want to either. At least this Sheda kid didn’t. Chelsea’s main street was wide enough to accommodate diagonal parking on both sides of the street. However on Wednesday and Saturday nights, the cars would back in diagonally so as to enjoy the evening more. After each song, boy did the horn-honking begin. It was Chelsea’s way of clapping their hands and showing their appreciation for a job well done.

Yes, the music. That’s what the evening was all about. GREAT BOHEME’ MUSIC. The old and perhaps not so old musicians from their high school days brought their trumpets, French horns, tubas, trombones and anything else that made music. The old time Boheme’ music. Everyone loved it. I remember only a couple of the musicians. Old Fred Vitek was one and a couple of friends of mine, Joe & Ken Behounek played too………….I think. Who were some of the others? Let me know at jsheda@indytel.com or call me at 319.327.4640. Also check out the Chelsea Page on Facebook. Many great and old pictures. Oh, and by the way, there is a movement brewing about sometime this summer just having a huge Chelsea Reunion of all the people who grew up in Chelsea. Good idea???? Let me know.