And now for a short musical interlude
There is no doubt that the music of Flanders Music was my Mom: Betty Jane (Rossbach) Flanders. A few years after my Dad was born in Chasely North Dakota just to the south in the other Dakota, my Mom was born in Alcester. She was the only child of Carl and Eunice Rossbach. From the moment she was born, she ‘had the music in her’.
It was uncanny how she took to music. Being an only child she already had all of the attention of her parents. But, as a musically gifted person, it was natural that she was loved and respected by everyone. Every church program, every school program included a musical piece from Carl’s little girl, “Bet.” She could read and interpret music from an early age. She was technically approaching flawless by the time she was in high school.
In high school, all Alcester High School theater productions included Betty Rossbach on piano. She would accompany everyone on piano when they tried out for any band program at school. Since the marching band did not have a keyboard, she learned to play the bass drum just to make sure she was a part of all musical endeavors in Alcester.
One thing she was especially good at was transposing music. This meant that whomever she was accompanying she could follow, then lead, them, by playing in their key. If a church soloist was off key, Mom could gently bring them back. If a trumpet was in a wrong key, she adjusted to make them look good. A few years later when she was playing in USO shows during World War II, the cry from band leaders was, “Hey, get the girl Betty, she can transpose on the fly…”
To say that Betty Rossbach was strong willed was an understatement. In the early 1940’s her Dad was like everyone else and was reeling from the depression years. The family farm failed, the victim of the ruined economy and aftermath of the dust bowl days. He moved into town and started Barndahl’s Standard Oil Gas Station on main street in Alcester. When no one was buying cars, no one was buying gas. The gas station failed. Carl heard about all of the jobs in Michigan with the automobile industry. The United States was trying to decide if it wanted to get involved with the mess in Europe. One result was that the machinery business in Michigan was gearing up and needed workers. Carl and Eunice decided they would move to Michigan, somewhere near Detroit so Carl could support the family. When they told their daughter, Bet said, “I am not going. I am going to graduate from Alcester High.”
So it was, Betty and Eunice stayed in Alcester while Carl went to Michigan. The family was to reunite as soon as Bet graduated. Her senior year as filled with musical productions and plenty of opportunities to show off her musical talents. It was during this time that the Civilian Conservation Corp came to town to fix a bridge. Sitting in the audience at an Alcester town musical production was one William Mark Flanders. They spotted each other and started to court and spark.
Grandma didn’t like this young kid from North Dakota. She didn’t trust him and for decades blamed him for anything that went array in her Betty’s life. When Betty graduated they thought they were done with this unfortunate romance. Betty and Eunice moved to Michigan to rejoin Carl. It was pure shock when that danged Flanders kid showed up in Michigan also. Then horrors of horrors, Betty and Bill eloped to Napoleon Michigan and got married. Within a few days after this disaster, Bill shipped out for Fort Riley Kansas to be trained in the US Army Cavalry.
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