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Clarence Hajney was a promoter and manager of local rock’n’roll bands in the late 1950’s and into the 1960’s. The following article was printed in the Sunday Pictorial Magazine of the St. Paul Pioneer Press (May 3, 1959). The writer was Bill Diehl, staff writer.
Friend of youth, and a few of his boys…
It all began 12 years ago with his two daughters and their two accordians. The girls started performing for a church group, the Holy Spirit Men’s club, and before long their father found he was guiding an accordion band.
Today, Clarence R. Hajney, 1204 Juliet, is practically a one-man youth office. He has counseled, advised, formed and booked numerous entertainment units, all of which have one thing in common: they are made up of youngsters. At the moment, Hajney has nine such units ranging from a pair of sub-teen dancers to polished rock’n’roll bands.
Born in New Prague, Minn., 45 years ago, the soft-spoken Hajney receives for his efforts only the satisfaction that he’s helping youth. He says: “Let’s keep them off the streets. And away from the police station. I’ve always had a love for children – and I still do.” Also capturing a large share of his affection is the realm of entertainment. At the age of 14, he was in the cast of touring stage company productions at the Lyceum and old Orpheum theaters here.
He accompanied these units to California– and later appeared in three motion pictures including a barracks scene in “All Quiet on the Western front,” and a sequence with Douglas Fairbanks Sr. in “Reaching for the Moon.” His own dance talents included acrobatic, adagio, tap and Russian, and he is a versatile musician: he plays trumpet, accordion, piano, guitar, drums, French horn and tuba.
Despite his personal business (he is employed by Display Specialty Co. of St. Paul), Hajney devotes some 20 hours each week to his youth activities. His young entertainers appear all over the state before such groups as PTA’s, veteran’s clubs, and civic organizations. He also provides entertainment for such places as orphanages, the Little Sisters of the Poor, the Cancer Home, the Children’s Hospital and the House of the Good Shepherd. A Christmas tour of almost all of these places is a yearly assignment.
Hajney works with the youngsters on their own interest level. He feels that rock-roll music is the music of this generation, and that it has established itself, outgrowing the early stigma some attached to it. Some of his units become so skilled that they turn professional. Three of his rock units have joined Local 30 of the American Federation of Musicians and are full-fledged bands-men in steady demand.
He also manages to find time for other civic endeavors. At the moment, he’s president of the Edgcumbe Boosters club.
Before he will work with youngsters, Hajney lays down his rules: “I want no drinking and no vulgarity. You will be gentlemen or ladies at all times. I’ll work hard with you – but you’ll have no second chance. And remember, you must be gentlemen off the stage, too… not just angels while you’re on display.”
His daughters, Kathy, 14, who graduates this year from Holy Spirit grade school and Terri, 18, senior at Our Lady of Peace high school, are musically active. Mrs. Hajney, who must wonder how she got into this musical ménage, can’t play a note on anything.
Hajney listens with pride when his dozens of youngsters perform – but he’s proudest when he says: “Not one of my youngsters ever has gotten into trouble.”
Photos by Paul Iida.
Photos (Click a photo to see it full-screen, then click the arrows to see the next one.)
Clarence R. Hajney passed away on August 24, 1992, at the age of 82. Clarence is remembered as an early supporter of the local rock’n’roll bands.
Interview PART ONE