A life-size cardboard cutout of Lawrence Welk greeted guests at the opening of the Strasburg, N.D., home that nurtured the "King of Champagne Music." But the 88-year-old bandleader stayed in California.
The official opening of Welk's boyhood home Wednesday was low-key. The town of 600 people has had enough fussing.Cries of "pork-barrel" dogged their plan to use a $500,000 federal grant to create a museum on German-Russian immigrants. Outsiders apparently confused that plan with the Welk home restoration, which never sought government money.
Congress eventually withdrew the museum money anyway. The Welk home was restored with $197,000 in private donations, including $105,000 from the Welks.
"Lookee there, they got it all made up and done," said Katie Werner, 89, one of the inaugural tourists, as she entered the living room area.
"I love that nice china cabinet. Oh man, look at that nice organ," said Carol Jean Dykema.
Mannequins in period clothing populate the five-room, two-story house. One clad in overalls sits in a rocking chair, holding a well-worn Bible.
Welk left Strasburg at age 21.