You may have been privileged to hear the Sandhill Shamrocks perform somewhere in west central Nebraska. I will continue with my interview of longtime member Alice Springer.
Mary: How often and where else do you play?
Alice: Now, Marge and I play at Centennial Park, Linden Estates and Linden Court in North Platte.
In the prime of our musical years, we have played at four nursing homes in North Platte and four in Broken Bow, two in Valentine, one in Mullen and one in Callaway. We have played at the Chili Cook-off in North Platte along with county fairs in Lincoln, Hooker, Blaine, McPherson and Thomas counties. There have been dances in Cozad, Lexington, Miller and the Senior Citizens Prom along with the trail ride at the National Forest at Halsey. These were highlights of our career. Mason City Ladies Night and the Old Timers Picnic at Stapleton, musical jams at Alliance, Seneca, and Wahoo helped to fill our love of music. We are asked to play at funerals. We always consider it an honor and love playing for someone’s special birthday party.
Mary: I love to see smiles from you two and everyone in the room. tell me how that feels?
Alice: Our playing music for residents and friends means a lot to us. Singing along, seeing a foot tap, clapping in time with the music, happy tears or lighting up, remembering the song is an honor to us. After we finished at a rest home, a woman came up in tears to thank us, because her husband hadn’t smiled in years, but the Shamrocks music made him smile that day. (This brought us to tears and made us realize how our music affects people.) In an Alzheimer’s unit some residents might not know who they are but can sing all the words to songs. Music is a universal language.
Mary: What is your favorite song to play?
Alice: Through the years we all had favorites of our own, “But a side note, the most requested song is ‘Beer Barrel Polka,’” Each one of us would say. “Any song we play together is a cherished tune.”
Mary: How many songs do you know?
Alice: Before we lost Rosa Lee, she and Marge could come up with any song requested — or a similar tune. As to the number of songs we know, it’s hard to put a number down — hundreds of old song s— country, gospel and hymns.
Mary: How many miles do you travel every year?
Alice: A wild guess of the number of miles would be 5,000 a year in our prime. We travel 90 miles one way to play at North Platte. The miles are nothing on good roads to enjoy our love of music shared with residents, guests, and staff of the nursing homes and other events. Our gift to the residents — a smile and a familiar tune and handshakes and a hug.
Mary: They do bring smiles and happiness to each one if us. It is a win-win situation for them and for us. One of the residents at Linden Court shared that they are her favorite group and she would never miss hearing them. I heartily agree.
You know it is the end of the performance when Alice and Marge sing “God Bless America” and “Happy Trails To You.”