than the song, the Falls County community of Westphalia is best
known for its annual homecoming and picnic. About 5,000 people show
up every second Sunday in October for the fried chicken and sausage
meals. Many stay into the evening to enjoy the down home ambience
of a town the German immigrants named in honor of Westphalia Province
The town's church, the Church of the Visitation, is notable as the
oldest wooden church in the state.
The highway that leads to Westphalia, Highway 320, is notable as
the shortest state highway in Texas.
town, for out-of-towners, is notable for the song written by Cotton
Collins, a fiddler with Lone Star Playboys, who are perhaps best
known as an early backup band for Hank Thompson.
Collins heard the song while he was stationed with the Army in Germany
during World War II. He committed the melody to memory and then
to the fiddle after the war.
What he did not do was name the tune.
After a dance
at Westphalia Hall in 1946, the band met with hall manager B.J.
Lignau to divvy up the evening's proceeds. Collins mentioned the
crowd sure like his 'No Name Waltz.'
Lignau said that since the song had no name, he might as well call
it 'Westphalia Waltz.'
Collins agreed, and the 'Westphalia Waltz' became a number one hit
when it was released on Herb Rippa's fledgling Dallas label, Bluebonnet
Fiddle master Johnny Gimble played with the band in 1948, and it
is Gimble's version of 'Westphalia Waltz' that is included on most
compilations of Texas dance hall music.
The band's national popularity waned following a West Coast tour
with Thompson in 1949, but the Waco-based band remained popular
in Central Texas well into the 50s.
The Lone Star Playboys' final recordings are on Everstate Records
under bass player Charlie Adams' name. Adams recorded 'Hey, Liberace,'
a minor hit in 1953.
Lignau, B.J. Lignau's daughter-in-law, knew the Lone Star Playboys
well. During a visit to the Little School Museum and Covenant in
Westphalia, Ms. Lignau pointed to a picture of the band and rattled
off the names: Pee Wee Truehitt, singer Hamlet Booker, his brother
Morris Booker, Bob Walker and banjo player Vince Incardona.
Another picture shows the band with steel player Lefty Nason. Nason,
who joined the Lone Star Playboys in 1947, supplied the band with
its other well-known song, 'Steel Guitar Bounce.'
Ms. Lignau shakes her head. 'Lefty was a Yankee,' she says. 'He
was from New Jersey or some place. I don't know how he ever got
in the band.'
A version of
the song called 'New Westphalia Waltz' has lyrics written by Hamlet
Booker but the original instrumental version is the one most often
is at the Little School Museum and Convent and features photos of
the band, sheet music, a fiddle, and an original 78 rpm Bluebonnet
Records version of 'Westphalia Waltz.'
A unique, striking handmade quilt serves as a backdrop for the display.
The name of the quilt: Westphalia Waltz.
© Clay Coppedge
"Letters from Central Texas"
- May 30, 2006 column