Pacesetters Memories

Remember those Anchorage teen dances and concerts of the 1960s? Return to those days with Pacesetters Memories.

pacesetters memoriesThe Arsons and the Heartbeats

Do you remember going to the teen dances at the National Guard Armory in Anchorage, Shindig City or the Cheetah?

And did you attend some of those fun rock concerts in the 1960s?

Anchorage Memories sat down with Betty Poeschel of Betty's Record Den, who helped put together an organization called Pacesetters who put those dances and concerts together for Anchorage teens.

Anchorage Memories – Mike and Mary:

Betty, how did Pacesetters first get started?


My husband Ralph “Pretz” Poeschel and I had Betty's Record Den, and we ask, “what could we do?”

Anchorage Memories Note:

Soon, Betty and Pretz began Pacesetters and brought in other people. Like popular Anchorage radio personality Ron Moore, who was also hosting “The Coke Show” from the radio booth above the Bun Drive-In, Joe Bacon and Ray “Buff” Westin to help put the organization together.

Anchorage Memories – Mike and Mary:

What was the first event that Pacesetters put together?


It was a dance. We held it at the Pines on the corner of Lake Otis and Tudor. We called it a “shindig” because it was a country bar. But the kids couldn't go in because it was a bar.

So, there was a bowling alley that had gone out of business on Tudor road across from the Baptist church. We held our first “Shindig City” for teens right there.

For seven years, we had Shindig City in one location.

Anchorage Memories – Mike and Mary:

You also started bringing up groups that had hit records on the music charts. Who was the first group that Pacesetters brought to Anchorage?


The first concert put on by Pacesetters was Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs who had a big hit called “Wooly Bully”.


Anchorage Memories Note:

Take a look at Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs performing Wooly Bully on television.

Anchorage Memories – Mike and Mary:

Betty, you held the Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs concert at West high school, but you had to do this one a little differently. What did you do?


At West, we held the concert in the gym, so Anchorage teens could also dance. But because it was a special gym floor, the teens had to check their shoes and coats in the West high auditorium. We actually put their belongings in the auditorium seats.

Anchorage Memories Note:

Heidi, the daughter of Betty and Pretz Poeschel, was very young at the time, but added these memories.


I remember the Pacesetters meetings in our living room with Ron Moore, Joe Bacon, Buff Westin and my parents Betty and Pretz. The meetings were secret because no one was supposed to know the surprise that the group had in store for Anchorage teens.

These folks were true “Pacesetters” doing all they could for Anchorage kids with nowhere to go. They set out to put together a non-alcoholic venue for adults and teens as well.

Kids weren't invited to those meetings. But since the meetings were being held in my house, I would sometimes try to “spy” on the Pacesetters meetings hoping to hear their secret plans. But I was never successful.

Some of the groups that Pacesetters brought up to Anchorage included, The Grass Roots, Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs, Dobie Gray, Don, and the Good Times, the Turtles, Marilee Rush and the Turnabouts and others.

I remember taking the Grass Roots back to Anchorage International Airport. The drummer's hands were all bandaged up because he had played so hard.

I remember dancing on stage during a concert wearing my patent leather Go Go boots.

In looking back, I am so proud to say that Betty Poeschel and my late father Ralph “Pretz” Poeschel and their friends and business partners put together these shows for the teens of Anchorage. Pacesetters left a lasting impression on the city of Anchorage.

Anchorage Memories – Mike and Mary:

Betty, Pacesetters also got involved in helping local teen bands who played at the Pacesetter dances. And some of them were used as the warm-up bands for many of the Pacesetters concerts. How did you get involved with the local teen bands?


I heard a young man named Skip Konte play an electric accordion. He had it laying on a stand, so he could play it like an organ.

So, I bought him a Hammond B 3 organ. It was huge, so Skip chopped it down to a smaller size.

About that time, there was a new group called the “Heartbeats” that were practicing in the back room at Betty's Record Den. I put Skip together with the Heartbeats.

Anchorage Memories – Note:

Skip Konte, who played keyboard for the Heartbeats and the Blue Chip stock, went on to leave Alaska and join a group called the “Blues Image”. Skip co-wrote the song, “Ride Captain Ride” which became a big hit.

Following the Blues Image, Skip became a keyboard player for “Three Dog Night.”

Anchorage Memories – Mike and Mary:

You also got involved in making records for at least one local teen band. Can you tell us about that?


The Heartbeats, Eddie,  Rafael “John” and Raul Apostol came up with a song titled “Anne”. They recorded the song in the back room at Betty's Record Den.


Anchorage Memories – Mike and Mary:

Take a look at the Heartbeats hit song, “Anne”

Anchorage Memories Note:

To discover more about the Heartbeats

Take a look at In John's Own Words; The Pulsating Heartbeats and enjoy.

 Anchorage Memories – Mike and Mary:

Like your store, Betty's Record Den, what was a favorite thing about Pacesetters?


Pacesetters was an extension of Betty's Record Den. Our favorite thing was being able to be an ear for Anchorage teens. We were there to listen. And occasionally when a situation called for it, we got involved.

Anchorage Memories – Mike and Mary:

Our thanks to Betty Poeschel and Heidi for taking the time to remember when for you here on Anchorage Memories. Betty's Record Den and Pacesetters meant a lot to Anchorage teens.

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