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MEMORIES OF THE COMMODORE BALLROOM
 
     Soldiers from Fort Devens took the train to Lowell.Parents 
pulled up in their Packards and small groups of teenagers spilled out. 
Parents praised the Brauns for giving their youngsters someplace 
healthy to go. They would feel safe dropping their girls off there, 
and coming back to pick them up later.

     Carl Braun, and later his son, Carl Jr., always maintained a tight 
ship. During the 1940s, he would not permit dancing of the then-popular jitterbug because he felt it was likely to cause rowdiness. Friday 
night used to be "Old Timers" night.

     By the late 1950s, the Commodore was catering to fans of jazz, 
swing and eventually rock and roll, bringing in such stars as Frankie Avalon, Fabian, Tony Bennett, the Four Aces, Connie Francis and B.J. Thomas.

     In addition to running the Commodore, Carl Braun Jr. was active on 
the national level, and had become the youngest ever president of the National Ballroom Operators Association.

     By the 1960s, Commodore acts included Cream, B.B. King and Johnny Winter, Rod Stewart, the Byrds, the Kingsmen, Grand Funk Railroad and The Turtles. Even in the 60s, the average cover charge 
was only $2. It never surpassed $3.50, even for the biggest names.

     The combination of a changing society and city politics prompted 
Braun Jr. to sell the ballroom in 1972. Ten years later, this famous 
structure which catered to all those wonderful memories and perhaps spawned countless romances, found itself at the end of a wrecking 
ball.

     The Brauns may have left the Lowell scene in body, but this family 
of entrepreneurs left a tremendous impact ont he city in spirit - the 
Commodore Ballroom was a "bright light" during the decline of the 
textile mills, through the throes of a major World War and two
military conflicts - we have much for which to thank them.

     Thank you to all who helped make this exhibit possible through advice, loan of equipment, and through giving of their time.

     We hope it has kindled some memories of the "Swingin' Years" for
you - memories we never want to relinquish!
 

Information compiled by Dick Cook,
 Lowell Sun Publishing Company

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