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1940s Radio Singers Share Their Story

Back in the day, radio listeners were entertained by live performers - among them were the Parkston Pals. In 1947 two best friends from Parkston High School began to live their dream of becoming country music stars as they sang on Mitchell’s K-O-R-N Radio.

Bea Schelske and Alice Hager chose Home In San Antone by Bob Wills as the Parkston Pals’ theme song. It was 1947. They were only teenagers and they had a weekly radio show.

“That was kind of by accident. We were in high school. We cleaned the tables at high school to earn our hot lunch. And we just started singing for the fun of it. And one thing led to another,” Hager said.

“At the Paramount Theater, they had a Country Western Jamboree on Saturday afternoons. And so anybody who wanted to perform and stuff could go in and have a place on the stage. And so we started going up there on Saturday afternoons,” Schelske said.

“So we were approached that we could have 15 minutes of airtime from the radio station at Michell,” Hager said.

“They offered us a spot if we could find sponsors. So her and I, we went to work in our hometowns and I canvased Scotland and Freeman and I found some and she found some to sponsor us. And so, we had to have a sponsor because they paid the bills and they’d advertise you know. And so, we got our program every Saturday morning at 11 and we sang as the Parkston Pals,” Schelske said.

In 1947 Parkston High School students, Alice Hager and Bea Schelske were asked to do a weekly radio broadcast for Mitchell’s KORN radio station.
Courtesy Photo
In 1947 Parkston High School students, Alice Hager and Bea Schelske were asked to do a weekly radio broadcast for Mitchell’s KORN radio station.

The voice you just heard was Bea Schelske. She and her best friend Alice Hager, are both 91 at the time of this recording. And smiles light up their faces as they recall their time singing on the radio as teenagers.

Again, Bea Schelske and Alice Hager.

“Then we got paid for doing it you know. And so, oh that was fun. The days we got paid, then we’d go shopping. We’d canvas Mitchell and go shopping. Oh, that was the best years of our life,” Schelske said.

“Oh yes, we were country music people, you know, living our dream,” Hager said.

The high school juniors took their new singing career seriously.

“We had to have a practice every week to line up our songs, which ones we were going to sing at that time,” Schelske said.

“We mostly sang songs we liked to begin with. And of course, I don’t know if Bea told you this, but we had our favorites. Mine was Eddy Arnold and hers was Ernest Tubb. And so, we’d pick songs that they sang and we sang a lot of Eddy Arnold songs I know. And then songs that were requested from fans that wrote in at that time,” Hager said.

“And then we’d read our fan mail. You know, so-and-so wanted a birthday song for their friend and stuff. We got a lot of mail,” Schelske said.

“It was so fun. And it was all the way up at the top of the high bank building in Mitchell, at the way top of that big building. So we had a lot of steps to climb. I don’t’ think they had an elevator in those days,” Schelske said.

Because neither Bea nor Alice had a drivers license at the time, they depended on their parents to drive them.

“They would take us up to Mitchell every Saturday, and that was a commitment for them because we lived on the farm, so we’d take turns. The Walters would go one week and the Mogcks would go the other week to take us girls,” Hager said.

“I have to tell you, one time, we got the giggles. We couldn’t even look at each other and we’d start laughing uncontrollably. Our mothers’ were shooting daggers out of their eyes. They were mad, but we couldn’t stop,” Schelske said.

“You know, a nervous giggle. When you get nervous it sometimes happens. And that did happen,” Hager said.

Even though they got fan mail and requests for autographed photos, the women said they didn’t let their fame go to their heads. And they said it did not change the way their school friends treated them either.

In 1949 Bea and Alice graduated from Parkston High School. Just a few months after graduation Alice married Don Hager and the couple left South Dakota for his career.

Although this move marked the end of their radio career it did not end their friendship. Seventy-four years later, they remain the best of friends. Today the women live in Sioux Falls and Scotland. They visit frequently over the phone

Lura Roti grew up on a ranch in western South Dakota but today she calls Sioux Falls home. She has worked as a freelance journalist for more than two decades. Lura loves working with the SDPB team to share the stories of South Dakota’s citizens and communities. And she loves sharing her knowledge with the next generation. Lura teaches a writing course for the University of Sioux Falls.