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It was 1951, and Bruno Bienek had been invited to be the headliner on KBOP radio’s “Floresville Hour” on Sunday evenings.
Joining Bruno, billed as “The Singing Range Rider,” was a local band, “The Loma Vista Playboys.”
When we shared Bruno’s story in the Nov. 2 Wilson County News and asked if readers remembered the band, we were surprised — pleasantly — by the community response.
We even heard from one of the band’s former members!
Stay tuned for the lowdown on “The Loma Vista Playboys”!
Edwin Albert, who now lives in Floresville, stopped by to share his memories of the band.
Brothers and neighbors
Edwin’s brother, Elwood, was one of the original four members. The Alberts grew up in the country, in the area around Dewees, Three Oaks, and the Darilek School.
“Elwood played guitar,” Edwin told WCN. “Leroy Bienek played guitar; he was Bruno’s nephew. Then there was Leo Schneider on the accordion, and Henry Fisbeck on drums.”
Henry and Leroy were neighbors of the Alberts.
Once in a while, Edwin said, the four were joined by Stanley Kotzur and Alfred Traeger; both played the fiddle.
“The Loma Vista Playboys” played dance halls and schools across their local area, including the SPJST Hall in Floresville, and halls in Three Oaks and Hobson, in addition to their Sunday-evening gig on KBOP.
But the Korean War broke the band up, Edwin said, when Elwood and Leo were drafted into the U.S. military in 1953. Henry eventually was drafted into the U.S. Army.
Keeping the beat
Henry Fisbeck, who now lives in North Little Rock, Ark., has fond memories of playing in “The Loma Vista Playboys.”
He’s the only member of the band still living, said his daughter, Karen Brunetti.
He played accordion when the band was known as “The Loma Vista Playboys,” and drums when they became the “Texas Pearl Aces.”
Henry recalls playing at the Darilek School and Sokol Hall with the original band. As the “Texas Pearl Aces,” they also played in Panna Maria and Falls City, the Poth Hermann Sons Hall, and in Kenedy, along with the prior venues. The band’s name changed in 1952, when Victor Warnken, the Pearl beer distributor in Poth, offered to sponsor them. Pearl furnished shirts with a company logo on them, and the band changed its name to include “Pearl” for the sponsor.
According to Henry, the band mainly played polka music in their first years, but expanded to include country and western as the “Texas Pearl Aces.” Some of their favorite songs to play were “Happy Go Lucky Polka,” “Jambalaya,” and “Ulita Polka.”
One of Henry’s most striking memories of playing with the band was when “The Loma Vista Playboys” played at a dance at a local school on the way to Pleasanton, close to the Boening Dairy. There were so many cars and such a big crowd, that it scared him to death!
But it wasn’t only dance halls where this local band made appearances. The “Texas Pearl Aces,” in either 1952 or 1953, played as they rode on a float in the Floresville Peanut Festival Parade! Their sponsor, Pearl, provided the truck and trailer; the float included a rotating, bucking horse!
They also played at other events, such as weddings.
“‘The Loma Vista Playboys’ played at our wedding dance,” Clarabel (Heinsohn) Ahrens, who now lives in Fashing, wrote in a letter to WCN. This was at the Three Oaks Hall on Nov. 16, 1952.
She and her husband, Werner, were married 64 years and raised two boys together. He passed away in 2016.
Many of the places where “The Loma Vista Playboys” entertained may be gone now, but the memories of their music live on.