Max Frank Fockele's
Stromberg Deluxe

Purchased from his loving daughter, Martha "Marty", at the Eureka Springs Banjo Rally 2005

Max, with his Ludwig Banjo

Daughter Marla on her right


 Max was born in 1910 and graduated from Ottawa High School 18 years later.
He went to college in Manhattan, KS (Kansas State University) and got a degree in business. He profession was that of a banker, but his LOVE was playing his banjo's at dances, Pizza joints, etc.
I think he might have even gone to church if they'd have let him play the banjo in the choir :) Mother played the organ.

Yep, that was Mother and Dad - - married 1/20/1935. Mother went through one of the phases whereby she changed the spelling of her first name. It was "really" spelled Pauline.
I remember her telling me about changing the i to y. I don't think she used it very long.

My dad really wanted to be a doctor, but his dad was a banker, and from Germany, so whatever "Mr. Fockele" said the kids would do, they had to do!!
I think it's something daddy always regretted (not going to medical school), but he had profound respect for his dad, so he didn't dwell on it.
Daddy was a HUGE football star during his Ottawa high school days but obtained a knee injury. When he went on to college, the Dean of the university wanted to pay for him to have surgery on his knee so he could play college football, but his dad wouldn't hear of it.
I think partly because it was a new procedure, and I "suspect" partly because his Dad wanted him in the banking business.

I love these kinds of stories about my parents, many of which I learned after Mother passed away and I went through a lot of letters, pictures, newspaper articles, and the like.
Many times I thank God for letting me born to Max and Pauline. They were absolutely the best parents anyone could hope for. Always encouraging and full of love for me and and my sister.
I suppose the fact that we were born to them rather late in their lives might have helped them to be better than the average parent - they were 36 and 38 when I was born.


One of the first "jobs" I remember him taking in the evenings was at Shakey's Pizza  in Manhattan, KS. It was about 50 miles one-way, but he didn't mind.

He played various bar/grill type places, American Legion dances, and stuff like that. We had a skating rink in the little town (Frankfort, Kansas) where our home was and it was frequently turned into a place to dance. That was the only "local" playing that he could do. All the other gigs were in surrounding towns at a distance of 25-200 miles. He played at the State Fair in Topeka at least one year - might have been more.

As for personal concerts, when I came home to visit after I got married, I would bring stacks of LP's which we would play on his little (tiny) record player and daddy would strum along with the songs. Have you ever heard of a banjo player called "Ira Ironstrings"? Daddy liked his stuff. Another favorite of ours was "Jack Blanchard and Misty Morgan". They never made it big at all, but they sang GREAT harmony. Daddy liked a bit of gospel, especially Brooks Benton. He did a song called "Going Home" that always brought tears to our eyes. I've tried to find it on CD but it doesn't exist. He also liked Pasty Cline and Floyd Cramer very much.

The MAINSTREAM music that daddy liked to play included songs like; Bill Baily (I always get choked up when I hear that song); When You're Smiling; When The Saints Go Marching In; The World Is Waiting for the Sunrise; Alley Cat; Mac The Knife; Baby Face; It's A Sin To Tell A Lie; Four Leaf Clover; You Are My Sunshine  . . I really think the only kind of music that he didn't care for was blue-grass. He loved Dixieland music, and Bill Baily was hands down MY favorite.

Have you ever seen an old movie called "Papa's Delicate Condition" with Jackie Gleason? It always reminded me SO MUCH of Daddy. Not only was the character much like my dad, the theme song was "Bill Baily." In the movie, J. Gleason was a fun loving guy and his world revolved around his little girl. But, he liked to drink too much so his wife left him and took his 2 daughters. Well, the same thing happened to my dad. He was a "recovered alcoholic" (20 years sober when he died), but mother took my sister and I and moved to Kansas City when I was 8 and my sister was 10. Mother was a very strong woman and gave him a choice - the liquor or his family. He chose his family and never "fell off the wagon."

My sister and I played the piano so we'd have our little music sessions with us on the piano and him on the banjo. We enjoyed listening to him so much though, that we'd always stop playing and just listen to him. He loved it. He "was" a bit of a ham, you know. :)

When he died, a very nice article appeared in our little local newspaper that someone wrote about how they enjoyed walking past our house at night and listening to daddy play the banjo. He's sit out in the yard - on a ROCK - in his underwear, and play his banjo. He liked to dress comfortably, you know. He was the only adult I knew that all the kids liked. He'd do anything for a laugh and they knew it. He was never judgmental, always put people at ease, and was kind to everyone. Yep. I have him on a pretty high pedestal.

Well, that's the Reader's Digest version of Max Fockele. I was blessed to have been his daughter.

Vinnie, truthfully, just the fact that you CARE about this great man that used to have that banjo is reward enough for me. Really and truly.

Love, Marty

And from Marla, Marty's Daughter................

I'm Max Fockele's oldest grandchild & have very fond memories of Grandpa playing the banjo. I was 14 when he died. He had an AWESOME character.

Mom has been sharing your emails with me & I just wanted to say THANK YOU for putting a spark of her dad's legacy back into our hearts. It's SO exciting to hear about the banjo that sat for so many years........ finally getting out of it's case!! It's great to remember such a man who's spirit is so strong.

 Mid 1920s to Early 1930s
No serial number
(None had them)

Good original condition.
Excellent candidate for restoration
 Carved heel
Elaborate inlays
Brazilian Rosewood, with intricate veneers
Waverly Tuners
Engraved flange and tension hoop
"Cuppophone" tone ring (Pre- patent)
Original case


After cleaning
 All I have done to it is add the missing inlay and engrave it then clean and wax it and set it up fresh again.
I will leave Max's "patina" on it, it feels good that way.

"Plectra" is always by her Dad too.


Tyler Jackson
Schulenberg Banjo Show, 2005

Tyler is one of the brightest stars in the banjo world today.
He has moved his playing to the level of the very best in the business.

He chose the Stromberg for its "cut" while doing a  song I fondly call "Tylers Rag"
The archtop with the skin head really emulates the old tone and especially Ragtime.


I took all of the eupherma and Max's old head and Bridge, added in some family pics and surprised her with a shadowbox.
This way she will always have a part of her Dad's banjo, to keep the memory alive
Thanks for Watching