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Wisconsin Historical Society

Painting

House Party

House Party | Painting | Wisconsin Historical Society
"This scene can be dated by the homemade calendar under the wall clock. It is December of 1927. Farmers were prospering at that time, as was the rest of the economy. Two years later, with the 'Crash of '29,' these same farmers would suddenly find themselves in dire financial straits. Still, parlor dances continued through the Depression as an inexpensive source of neighborhood fun. House parties could be called for any number of reasons. One unhappy but common reason, especially in the Depression, was a 'going-away' party for a family that was moving. Sometimes the family was leaving to buy another farm, more often they were just renters who were moving to another place, sometimes not very far away.<p>"Another excuse was a 'house-warming' dance for new neighbors moving in. It was important to get aquainted, for these rural farmers would soon be working together over the coming year.  A party would also be held as a congratulations for a young couple who had just announced their engagement. Probably this dance was not for that purpose, for there are fewer teen-age participants.<p>"Occasionally dances were held in country schools. One drawback to these was that rural school boards sometimes were reluctant to allow neighbors to show up with a jug of homemade wine, an event quite acceptable at a house party. Notice the glasses happily being filled by the host in the kitchen.<p>"Most often, however, the only excuse for such a farmhouse dance was that a week had passed since the last one. In many rural neighborhoods, dances were held once a week from the end of the harvest in the fall until spring planting was ready to begin. These parties rotated around the neighborhood. Favorite spaces included good-sized parlors, especially one with a pump organ or piano. Even a large kitchen with enough space for a set or two of dancers could be used for a house party.<p>"This particular farm parlor in the painting seems to be of enormous size, perhaps a trick of memory. When most of the furniture had been carried to another room or out onto a porch, farm parlors did indeed look much bigger, especially to young participants, than they did in everyday life." (Chester Garthwaite, Threshing Days: the Farm Paintings of Lavern Kammerude, 1990, page 83.)<p>"I coaxed a few details out of him [Kammerude]. 'Well... that guy taking off his coat--he can hardly wait to get his coat off, 'cause he's spotted those guys in the back room pouring the homemade wine.' He indicated the fiddle player in the corner and admitted, 'I tried to make him look like you [Philip Martin]. And the accordion player is Rick March [of the Wisconsin Arts Board, plays the accordion]." (Philip Martin's preface from Chester Garthwaite, Threshing Days, page 6.)</p>

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DESCRIPTION
"This scene can be dated by the homemade calendar under the wall clock. It is December of 1927. Farmers were prospering at that time, as was the rest of the economy. Two years later, with the 'Crash of '29,' these same farmers would suddenly find themselves in dire financial straits. Still, parlor dances continued through the Depression as an inexpensive source of neighborhood fun. House parties could be called for any number of reasons. One unhappy but common reason, especially in the Depression, was a 'going-away' party for a family that was moving. Sometimes the family was leaving to buy another farm, more often they were just renters who were moving to another place, sometimes not very far away.

"Another excuse was a 'house-warming' dance for new neighbors moving in. It was important to get aquainted, for these rural farmers would soon be working together over the coming year. A party would also be held as a congratulations for a young couple who had just announced their engagement. Probably this dance was not for that purpose, for there are fewer teen-age participants.

"Occasionally dances were held in country schools. One drawback to these was that rural school boards sometimes were reluctant to allow neighbors to show up with a jug of homemade wine, an event quite acceptable at a house party. Notice the glasses happily being filled by the host in the kitchen.

"Most often, however, the only excuse for such a farmhouse dance was that a week had passed since the last one. In many rural neighborhoods, dances were held once a week from the end of the harvest in the fall until spring planting was ready to begin. These parties rotated around the neighborhood. Favorite spaces included good-sized parlors, especially one with a pump organ or piano. Even a large kitchen with enough space for a set or two of dancers could be used for a house party.

"This particular farm parlor in the painting seems to be of enormous size, perhaps a trick of memory. When most of the furniture had been carried to another room or out onto a porch, farm parlors did indeed look much bigger, especially to young participants, than they did in everyday life." (Chester Garthwaite, Threshing Days: the Farm Paintings of Lavern Kammerude, 1990, page 83.)

"I coaxed a few details out of him [Kammerude]. 'Well... that guy taking off his coat--he can hardly wait to get his coat off, 'cause he's spotted those guys in the back room pouring the homemade wine.' He indicated the fiddle player in the corner and admitted, 'I tried to make him look like you [Philip Martin]. And the accordion player is Rick March [of the Wisconsin Arts Board, plays the accordion]." (Philip Martin's preface from Chester Garthwaite, Threshing Days, page 6.)

RECORD DETAILS
Image ID:2717
Creation Date:December 1927
Creator Name:Kammerude, Lavern
City:
County:
State:
Collection Name:WHS Museum Collection
Genre:Painting
Original Format Type:paintings
Original Format Number:1996.118.200
Original Dimensions:unknown
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
From the book "Threshing Days: The Farm Paintings of Lavern Kammerude". Text by Chester Garthwaite.

This work was commissioned by Philip Martin for the Wisconsin Folk Museum and painted by Lavern Kammerude (1915-1989) of Blanchardville, Wisconsin, in 1988. It was acquired by the State Bank of Mount Horeb from the Wisconsin Folk Museum in 1996.

Restricted; Reproduction and licensing rights held by Edward Kammerude.

SUBJECTS
Accordion
Dance
Music
Performing arts
Parties
Children and adults
RIGHTS AND PERMISSIONS
This image is issued by the Wisconsin Historical Society. Use of the image requires written permission from the staff of the Collections Division. It may not be sold or redistributed, copied or distributed as a photograph, electronic file, or any other media. The image should not be significantly altered through conventional or electronic means. Images altered beyond standard cropping and resizing require further negotiation with a staff member. The user is responsible for all issues of copyright. Please Credit: Wisconsin Historical Society.
Reference Details
Location:Wisconsin Historical Society Archives, 4th Floor, Madison, Wisconsin

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