Bob Blecha was born on a farm near DuBois, Nebraska in 1937. His parents were Rudy & Mildred Blecha.
Like a lot of musicians, Bob spent every Saturday night with his folks at dances, either in the DuBois or Humboldt area. Bob said he doesn’t think he ever missed a dance his folks went to. Like all kids, the sandman eventually would catch up with them and Bob was no exception. He said he got the best place to lay: On chairs behind the orchestra. Bob spent a lot of time on stange watching and listening mainly to trumpet players.
Bob attended country school for eight years, so when he went to high school, he was determined to play a trumpet in the band. His instructor, Art Schrepel, a very proficient music teacher, wanted Bob to play tuba or baritone or sax. Bob said, “Trumpet it had to be.” Art replied, “You’ll never play the trumpet worth a $%#&!” Bob said he was right. Three years Bob ended up in the lead trumpet chair. In 1953, one of the high school kids started a Polka band called “The Polkateers.” Also in 1953, Bob’s instructor thought he should have his own trumpet. His mom & dad had a big strawberry patch and they picked and sold enough to buy Bob’s new horn.
In 1955, The Polkateers folded up and Bob played with the Steve Stastny Band until 1961. A band used to come to DuBois by the name of Math Sladky and the KLMS Polka Band. One of the members was Vernon Belik, who played the button accordion. Bob says he, and a lot of people, fell in love with Vernon’s playing. Hearing Vernon playing really inspired Bob to take up the button accordion.
In 1960, Bob married Donna Suanda to which two sons were born: Douglas and Gregory. In 1963, the Bouncing Czechs was put together consisting of a 7-piece band. After a few months of organization, Bob says the B.C. were to see a lot of changes. About 4-5 years after Douglas & Gregory arrived, his wife Donna was to join the B.C. as their permanent drummer. Bob, who at the time was used to playing 2nd trumpet, now was the thrusted to lead chair. The piano player quit and a piano accordion player was added.
In the 60s, some jobs were played with only a 3-piece: Bob was now playing accordion with Bob Stepanek on bass and Math Sladky on drums. The B.C. however was a growing entity in the 70s Bob was blessed with another addition: False teeth!
(If you don’t know, false teeth and horns don’t mix)
As a result of false teeth, Bob started playing the button accordion steadier and the B.C. made another change from a 6-piece to 4 members. The group included Donna on drums, Bob Stepanek on tuba, Lou Stranik or Galen Beck on trombone, and Bob Blecha on accordion and occassionally trumpet (even with false teeth.) This addition of the Bouncing Czechs became quite an item.
They toured Kansas, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio, Iowa, and all of Nebraska. Many records were made as well: One recording was of an original composition of Bob’s: “The Raggedy Rhythm Polka.”
His son Douglas also learned to sing a few Cesky selections and was featured both on records and dance dates.
On New Years Eve, 1978, a 14-year-old young son joined the Bouncing Czechs playing trombone making his mother and father very proud. This young man’s name is Greg Blecha. Bob says Greg brought a lot of life, spirit, and enthusiasm to the B.C. for years to come.