KDUV was a recreation society - not just for dancingI talked one afternoon with Joe Kraetsch about the Kanaranzi Deutsche Unbeholfen Verein — the KDUV society and the KDUV Hall. Those Germans learning English joked KDUV means, “Katy Do You Valtz?”
By: Ray Crippen, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — One man was telling me how our world is, or how our world was.
“You were writing about those Norwegians in Ransom Township and Little Rock Township.”
“Well then, the next township west is Grand Prairie Township. Ellsworth. That always was a mix of people.”
“Well then — next place west is Kanaranzi. Kanaranzi was Germans. Those Germans were something. You ever talk to any of them?”
I did. (This took deep digging.) I talked one afternoon with Joe Kraetsch about the Kanaranzi Deutsche Unbeholfen Verein — the KDUV society and the KDUV Hall. Those Germans learning English joked KDUV means, “Katy Do You Valtz?” Joe Kraetsch said KDUV also was translated Kanaranzi German Clumsy Club.
There is nothing, almost, like the KDUV Hall in all the history of southwest Minnesota and northwest Iowa.
KDUV might be labeled a dance hall. It was older than the Roof Garden at Arnolds Park and far older than the Coliseum Ballroom at Worthington. Lawrence Welk and Tiny Little (among other band men) discovered KDUV in the late 1920s, the early 1930s. Lawrence Welk thought KDUV was an outpost of his German home folks at Strasburg, N.D.
The hall, which was a short distance south of Kanaranzi, was an impressive, white frame building, mostly two stories high. Ninety feet wide, 100 feet long. The beer barrels were in the basement.
In the first years, there was a livery barn out back. People came with horses and buggies, left their teams with a full-time caretaker, and danced until dawn. “People came — “couples brought their children. Kids slept in a large loft upstairs while parents danced the night away.
“They had that full-time caretaker — he lived upstairs with his family. When there were dances, The Missus would cook a midnight supper and we’d all eat at some long tables.”
In the beginning (1902), Joe Kraetsch told me, KDUV was an exclusive society. “They were all Germans around here then. Most of them came from Scott County, Iowa. That’s by Davenport.
“Only people who lived within a nine-mile radius of The Hall could be members. You paid ten-dollars to join and then your dues were fifty-cents a month. After five years they put you on a special dollar-a-year membership list.” By-laws were printed in German.
“In 1918, of course, we had to change all that.” Joe Kraetsch smiled. KDUV translated its by-laws into English and opened it doors to all dancers.
This column is making a mistaken impression — from the beginning, KDUV was a recreation society, not just a dance society.
Joe Kraetsch said, “In June they always had a bird shoot for the kids. The boys shot darts from guns for prizes and for the girls they fixed up wooden birds and strings and they threw those birds at targets.
“Then we always had a big celebration there on the Fourth of July.”
Gradually, KDUV “came to be more of a public hall.” Crowds grew as automobiles crowded aside horses and professional accordion players (Lawrence Welk, WNAX Yankton radio star) crowded aside local talent. KDUV was hard-pressed to find space to park all the cars which rolled into Kanaranzi.
Joe Kraetsch remembered 1952 — 1952 was the year of KDUV’s 50th anniversary, as well as the year KDUV began a slip into history.
“There was a big community celebration that year. They honored 10 living charter members.” But — 1950s — Elvis Presley recorded, “Hound Dog,” and, “Jailhouse Rock.” Rockabilly music. Buddy Holly. Ritchie Valens. The Big Bopper. In 1952, Perry Como recorded, “Don’t Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes.”
At Kanaranzi, Joe Kraetsch reflected, the 50th anniversary celebration “was just about the last thing we ever did there.”
“The state clamped down. They said we had to have inside plumbing. We had to have running water for cooking, and screens on all the windows.
“We had to have a policeman when we had a dance.
“It finally got to be just too much. Out here in the country, you can’t keep up a place like that. Everyone finally quit.
“But it was quite a place. That hall used to have the best dance floor in the area.”
A one, and a two — and a Katy Do You Valtz?
Ray Crippen is a former editor of the Daily Globe. His column appears on Saturdays.