The writer made this drawing of the Little Bohemian Band playing in the beer garden at the Mount Angel Oktoberfest in 2004. (Courtesy Michael van der Hout)
The writer made this drawing of the Little Bohemian Band playing in the beer garden at the Mount Angel Oktoberfest in 2004. (Courtesy Michael van der Hout)

Blackballed for accordion rock and roll

Consisting of the four German and Latvian-born Hartfeil brothers, the IV Tempos was one of the original accordion bands in the early days of the Mount Angel Oktoberfest, which began in 1965. At his 80th birthday party in 2017, accordionist and band member Leo Hartfeil told me that at one Oktoberfest, back in 1970, one of his younger brothers got the band playing, “Jeremiah was a bullfrog…”  — Leo’s reference to the 1970 Three Dog Night hit “Joy to the World.” Their performance of the song excited throngs of teenagers who began storming the tent where the band was playing. Leo said of the event, “We were instantly ordered to stop playing this riot creating music and we instantly switched to “In München steht ein Hofbräuhaus” and other beer drinking songs.  We completed our evening playing Schunkelmusik, but were never hired to play at Mount Angel again.”  

Knocked off polka pedestal

Speaking of accordions, Willamette Valley accordionist and band leader Ron Sadowsky was so excited when he learned back in 1985 that polka superstar Frankie Yankovic (many of you may be familiar with his nephew “Weird Al Yankovic”) was going to be staying at his house in Albany with his entourage for an extended weekend, while doing shows. To Mr. Sadowsky, it was almost as if God were going to be joining him in his humble abode.

In preparation for the big event, Sadowsky’s wife, Linda, drove to Albertsons and bought an entire shopping cart full of groceries for the guests. But much to their surprise after Yankovic arrived that Friday afternoon, they quickly learned that the polka king wasn’t that much of an eater. Instead, they discovered, he was a drinker, a big drinker. Ron and Linda spent the entire three-day weekend running back and forth to the liquor store. In fact, one night Yankovic got so inebriated that at 3 a.m. they had to rush him to the emergency room, as he felt he was having a heart attack. Happy to see the polka icon depart on Monday morning, the Sadowskys were informed that the maestro also had a propensity for lifting things from people’s houses.

Monastic demographics

Speaking of Mount Angel, the 485 foot butte on which Mount Angel Abbey and Seminary sits, originally was called Lone Butte. It came to be known as Mount Angel (an English translation of Engelberg) after Benedictine monks settled there from Engelberg Abbey in Switzerland in 1882. The official name of the monastery is St. Benedict Abbey, and it has had its own post office and since 1914 and its own ZIP code, 97373. From the federal government’s point of view, it is the small town of St. Benedict.

Not including the 225 students at the seminary, the 2016 population of St. Benedict, was 172 (down from 178 in the 2010 census).

With a land area of .119 square miles, the population density of St. Benedict is 1,496 people per square mile.

Here are some other statistics from the 2010 census concerning the demographics of St Benedict:

Male population — 98.31%

Female population — 1.31%

Median age —  38.9 years

Married — 0%

Those who have children — 0%

Number of businesses — 4

Number of employees — 139

Retired workers — 25

Since the 2010 census, Mount Angel Abbey has added a fifth business — the Benedictine Brewery. From what I learned from a distributor, the brewery is doing extraordinarily well.

Van der Hout lives in Southeast Portland.