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ROBINSON HISTORICAL | What’s a Frajtonarca? Good question, here's the answer

A Hohner brand button box accordian.


By Janet Gonter

The old Moon Run Slovenian Hall (now American Legion Post 862), was once the site of lively parties and dances with music provided by the Slovenian button box or frajtonarca – an ornate accordion that uses pearlized buttons instead of piano-type keys to make music.

Button box music, in the form of waltzes and polkas, has been hugely important in the Slovenian culture since the Middle Ages, and continues today in many Slovenian clubs and homes. The elaborately decorated instruments are manufactured in Slovenia, each one hand-made and unique.

A button box accordion would have been a coal mining family’s most treasured possession, handed down from generation to generation, along with a knowledge of how to play it. The early part of the Twentieth Century was a time when there were no televisions and very few radios. To the poverty-stricken miners, music was a precious form of entertainment.

As late as 1984, residents of Moon Run formed their own Button Box Club, one of dozens across the country. The group played for parties, dances, festivals and other celebrations in Moon Run. The Slovenian Club has since moved to Imperial and become part of the Slovenian National Benefit Society or SNPJ (which stands for the club's name in Slovene), where club members continue to enjoy the lively ethnic music played on these unique instruments.

Could faint echoes of button box polkas still linger in the misty hollows of Moon Run?



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