Leonard J. Piitz

Leonard PiitzI received my music instruction at the Brainard High School under direction of my music
instructor, Mr. Fred Semin. I graduated in 1939. After graduation my brother, Lawrence, and I organized an orchestra, calling it the Golden Star Orchestra.

The original Golden Star Orchestra was started in 1939, 61 years ago. At that time we had two Clarinets, bass, drums, trumpet, sax and accordian, until in the late 1940’s when
we went to a trumpet, trombone, accordian, bass, drums and two saxophones. The
personnel in this orchestra was Val Sypal (trumpet), Milo Sypal (trombone), Jerry Siroky
(bass) Frank Curda (drums), Lawrence Piitz (accordian.) These five are all deceased.
Alto sax player John Rerucha of David City and myself on tenor sax.

We made a radio broadcast over radio station KMMJ in Grand Island, Ne. in 1940. The
announcer was Joe Lukesh and a person by the name of Ernie Prucha of Howells
recorded this broadcast on the hard type 78 discs.  Anyway, I had these 78 records, some
which were played on the old type phonograph and were distorted and had scratches on
them. I picked out seven numbers and put them on cassette tapes. We played polkas and
waltzes and traveled in a 1929 Oldsmobile and pulled a trailer. We also made broadcasts
over Norfolk and Fremont radio stations. This is the history of the Golden Star Orchestra.

The Golden Star Orchestra disbanded in 1942. I then did play a short time with the Albin
(Beenee) Kucera Orchestra until he was called to the Army, when his brother Ernie took
over the orchestra. I played with Ernie until 1945 when I was called for the Army. After
returning from service, I went with the Matt Sladky KLMS Polka Band. After leaving
Matt’s band, I went with the late Al Grebenick band in 1950 for about four or five years.
We played over the KHAS—TV station in Hastings on Sundays. After this stretch, I went
back with Ernie Kucera Orchestra, of which I played most years. I might mention that
Ernie’s orchestra played in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, South and North Dakota,
Wisconsin, Ohio, Iowa, Minnesota, Colorado, and of course, Nebraska. We also played
in Canada and in 1983 we played in Czechoslovakia on the Tour of Music. Last of all, I
would like to see more polkas and waltzes dances come about. At present, I play with
my brother and nephew with the Leo-Lonnie Orchestra of Brainard.