Learn how to have a ‘wunnerful’ life

It was years ago, but I still remember how happy my mother and her friend, Emelia, were when Lawrence Welk came to town.
The tickets were very expensive, so Emelia’s son and daughter-in-law and my husband and I paid for their tickets. After dropping them off at the concert, we went out to eat until they were finished.
At the time, I had no idea why it was so very important to my mother to see Lawrence Welk in person. I had never watched The Lawrence Welk Show on television and had never read Welk’s autobiography entitled “Wunnerful, Wunnerful!”
I found out later that Lawrence Welk was so popular as an entertainer that he was the second-richest performer after Bob Hope. But it wasn’t always that way. Lawrence was born in 1902, the son of poor German immigrants.
In his autobiography, Lawrence said his earliest memory is of “crawling across the floor of our sod farmhouse toward my father, who was smiling and holding out his accordion.”
“I can still recall the wonder and delight I felt when he let me press my fingers on the keys and squeeze out a few wavering notes.”
Lawrence’s schooling ended at fourth grade, but he knew he was not cut out to be a farmer.
So at the age of 17, Lawrence begged his father to buy him a $400 accordion. For a boy who had a yearly allowance of 10 cents, that was a huge sum of money.
In exchange, he promised to work on the farm without payment until age 21. During the next four years, he also gave his father all of the profits he made playing at barn dances.
At 21, Lawrence left home in a horse-and-buggy to seek his musical fortune. He had a fourth-grade education, carried only $3 in his pocket, and could not speak any English.
Years later when The Lawrence Welk Show was launched, people called him an overnight sensation.
What they didn’t know was that he had learned the essentials of entertaining the hard way—through 30 years of one-nighters. And they didn’t understand how many disappointments he had on the way.
He had problems with his early bands, especially during the Depression. It was hard to get bookings and some theaters were so cold that the band had to wear coats and gloves on stage.
One time, his whole band quit because they thought he was impeding their musical progress. Another time his bus ran off the road, injuring several band members and destroying all of their instruments.
That was almost too much for Lawrence. Fortunately, his natural optimism and his stick-to-it-iveness got him through everything.
His hard work finally paid off when The Lawrence Welk Show came to television in 1955. But at the height of his popularity, ABC cancelled the show because he didn’t attract enough younger viewers.
Lawrence was crushed at first. But as his wife said, whenever there was adversity, Lawrence soon popped back up like a cork. So he decided to continue producing the show himself.
And a week later, The Lawrence Welk Show was back on the air—syndicated to more than 250 stations and reaching a larger audience than ever.
Lawrence Welk had a “wunnerful” life because he never gave up when the going was hard, he believed in himself, and he always had a smile on his face.
What you can you learn from Lawrence Welk to make a “wunnerful, wunnerful” life for yourself?
Marie Snider is an award-winning health care writer and syndicated columnist. Write her at thisside60@aol.com or visit www.visit-snider.com

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