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A Songbook for Rose, 'Songs we Love to Sing'

Tanberg, Kathy. "A Songbook for Rose, 'Songs we Love to Sing'." Hazen Star, 18 October 2007, 7.


It was a mission of love and memorial for Virginia and Curtis Schulz as they created “Songs We Love to Sing,” a new song book for the nursing home dedicated to Curtis’ parents, Ed and Rose Schulz.

Rose Schulz loved music. It was always part of her life and something she enjoyed sharing. So it was only natural that after she left this earthly world, her family would find a way to carry on this love in a memorial dedicated to Rose and her husband, Ed. Both Rose and Ed had given countless hours as volunteers at the Knife River Care Center in past years – Ed, as a nursing home board member, and Rose, who volunteered her time at least two days a week, even up to her last year whenever she was able, including singing with The German Singers.

When Rose passed away the fall of 2006 at the age of 99, her son Curtis and his wife, Virginia, already had their plan in mind. In fact, they had spoken of it with Rose. A new German-English music book was the perfect memorial that would honor both Rose and Ed, who had passed away in 1991. They would make new German-English singing books for the Knife River Care Center.

The song books at the nursing home long held a special place for Rose as she and her sister, Ella Meier, both members of The German Singers, had created the first song book years before.

Both Rose and Ella sang with the group and Ella played the organ for the weekly sing-a-longs. Sometime in the mid-1980s, the sisters decided it would be easier for both The German Singers and the nursing home residents if they had a song book. It became the pair’s mission to create the first German-English song book used at the nursing home. Curtis and Virginia remember when Rose and Ella worked on that first song book. The sisters gathered the preferred music and Virginia had helped make photocopies. “They did the best they could, a wonderful job. They bought three-ring binders and paper themselves and put together three song books, one with English and one with German songs, and one with Christmas music,” Curtis recalled.

After more than 20 years of steady use, the original music books the sisters created had become tattered and were filled with taped pages. The binders were falling apart as well. The condition made it difficult for many of the residents to use them without help if at all. Curtis, who joined The German Singers when his mother became resident of the nursing home in the fall of 2005, began to see first-hand the condition of the song books. And he knew just what to do.

Curtis and Virginia put their idea into action in December 2006 and completed the project in about five months, using memorial money given for Rose. They chose 190 songs, using those from the old books and adding other selections: hymns, folk songs, patriotic songs and holiday selections for Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving. One new song that Curtis says has been well received is “You Are My Sunshine.” “We sang it for the first time two weeks ago and one elderly resident, who never sings, began to sing along, moving the lips. When you sit up there and watch this, you can see that you’re doing so much more than singing. You’re bringing back memories to them,” Curtis said.

Resident Clara Elder expressed just that sentiment.

“The German songs remind me of when I was young, and of my folks, and how nice it was to hear our priest (St. Joseph’s Catholic Church) as he talked in German,” Clara said.
As work on a new song book took hold, friends, family and others provided assistance to make the song book happen. Because several of the chosen music could only be found for guitar, Curtis enlisted the aid of Clyde Eisenbeis who did arrangements for piano. They also needed help to create the cover. While Curtis and Virginia created the basic design with permission to use the drawing of the new nursing home, their daughter, Aneica Behm, used her talents to put the drawing together with graphics to come up with an eye-pleasing cover.

The end result for the cover is called “Songs We Love To Sing,” depicting the new nursing home with a sheet music background and a whimsical, purple floral border. Then one final touch was added in remembrance of Rose – a spray of four red roses that accent the bottom right corner.

With a completed master for the song book, it was time to put everything together. With plans to make 50 books, Curtis and Virginia used memorial money to purchase the paper, ink and various supplies. The nursing home allowed the couple use of their copier and binding machine and the couple did the work.

Music soothes the soul, or so it is said. Whether young or old, it is music that often brings a peace of mind and relaxation.

Residents at the nursing home can tell you it is so. For many years, each Monday afternoon, they have enjoyed a music fest of good old fashioned music, sung by the ever faithful group, The German Singers.

A selection of melodies ring throughout the walls of the nursing home’s activity room, sung in both German and English. As you watch the faces of the residents, you see many singing along.

Others, though they are no longer able to sing, show signs that they, too, enjoy hearing the tunes, many that take them back home once again.

And today, in their hands, they hold those memories even more dear, as most are able to hold the new song books with their own hands now. Sturdy, with a binder that can be easily folded back, the books are so pleasing that many of the residents think of them as their own, personal property.

Activity aid Carey Van Pelt said many people have even asked if they could buy one.
“Some residents take them back to their rooms, they’re so proud of them,” Cary said.
Activity Director Sheryl Misslin said everyone loves the new songs books, from the residents to the staff, to visiting pastors.

“We use them for almost every activity,” she said.

There are presently 14 dedicated members of The German Singers. The public is welcome to join in the singing on Monday afternoons.

Singing along with The German Singers, Erna Adolf, Hazen, Hertha Adolf, Bismarck, and Darlene Miessel, Hazen

The German Singers
Front :Viola Schiermeister, Wilma Lang, Ida Mohl, Viola Weisz, Kate Bauer and Hilda Backfish; Back: Leona Brecht, Emil Lauf, Curtis Schulz, Art Eissinger, Rudy Hildebrand, Fred Menge, and organist Leona Weil.


Our appreciation is extended to Kathy Tandberg
for permission to use this article.

Permission to use any images from the GRHC website may be requested by contacting Michael M. Miller
North Dakota State University Libraries
Germans from Russia Heritage Collection
Libraries
NDSU Dept #2080
PO Box 6050
Fargo, ND 58108-6050
Tel: 701-231-8416
Fax: 701-231-6128
Last Updated:
Director: Michael M. Miller
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