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Long Live the Squeeze Box

by JoAnn P.

In 1907, early Czech settlers built a “Bohemian Hall” in Cadott, WI. It was called the ZCBJ (Zapadni Ceska Bratrska Jednota), which translates into Western Bohemian Fraternal Association. Many of such lodges dot the landscape of the Midwest.

When the Iron Curtain came down after World War II, this and other lodges dissolved and these historical buildings fell into ruins. By the 1990’s the Bohemian Hall was starting to deteriorate and the youngest active member was over 75.

In 1999, a small group of local people became active members and started the hall restoration project. As a fraternal organization, ZCBJ was there to help the earliest immigrants as they became American citizens. It was the friends and relatives of those early settles that returned the help when the restoration projects began!

Each spring since the restoration, the Bohemian Hall has a fund raising event called “Long Live the Squeeze Box”. Musicians donate a song or two for the event to help with restoration projects. This year we took it one step further.

In February a local family lost their home to fire. Lloyd and Leona P. have supported every event at the Hall to help with the restoration. (The hall has been part of their family on and off for 4 generations!) The lodge applied for a Community Matching Fund with the Western Fraternal Life Association and used the Squeeze Box as an event to help raise the money. As we raised money for the restoration we were also able to share some with the Lloyd and Leona, in addition to a $500.00 matching fund check from the WFLA!

In many small towns across America, fraternal organizations have helped to keep the community alive. A group of neighbors came together to continue that American spirit by looking out for Lloyd and Leona after an everyday disaster. Join your local community organization to keep our neighborhoods safe and secure or search on “fire” or “disaster” or “safety” or “security” or “fundraising” or “fraternal” or “lodge” or “CERT”.

Click here to read more Safety and Security stories.

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