Stanky and the Coal Miners Celebrate Fifty-Fifth Anniversary
Representative Paul E. Kanjorski
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to John "Stanky" Stankovic of Nanticoke, Pennsylvania, who has been entertaining people of all ages with his polka magic for fifty-five years. In 1945, at the age of nine, Stanky and some friends landed a job playing polka music at a three-day wedding in Nanticoke.
From that beginning, Stanky and the Coal Miners, as he and his band are known now, have gone on to play all over the world with scores of famous people. He has learned or written more than 500 songs, most of which are featured in the band's twenty-one albums and six videos.
He learned to play the accordion from his father, Joe Stankovic, a Czech immigrant who came to America at age sixteen and went straight to work in the coal mines. When Stanky was a young man, he was more interested in being a professional baseball player. However, his father wisely made sure he practiced his music one hour a day before going out to play, and audiences around the world have benefited from Stanky's ultimate career choice. For example, in 1988, Stanky and the Coal Miners played to a crowd of a million people in Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China.
While the membership of the Coal Miners has changed many times over the years, Stanky's own family now forms the core of the band. Playing regularly with him are his wife, Dottie; his daughters, Kim Bukowski and Debra Horoschock; his son-in-law, Vince Horoschock; and his granddaughters, three-year-old Alexandra Bukowski and two-year-old Ashley Horoschock. Other members include drummers Norbert Wisniewski, Tom Novakowski, and Dave Burns, and trumpeter Mark Steinkircher.
Stanky and Dottie also host and produce the popular "Pennsylvania Polka" program on WVIA, Northeastern Pennsylvania's public television station. The show has aired for twenty years, allowing him to reach a wider audience of fans. While Stanky travels the world, he always remembers the region he calls home and the people who love his music. When he is in Northeastern Pennsylvania, Stanky also devotes one or two days a week to playing concerts at local rest homes.
Mr. Speaker, I send my congratulations to Stanky and the Coal Miners in this, the year of their fifty-fifth anniversary, and I also send my best wishes for continued success.
[Taken from the Congressional Record, 25 October 2000, page E1933.]