The Original Sensational Showmen

The Original Sensational Showmen
National Guard Armory-Concordia - 1965

Friday, February 27, 2015

Library Ballroom Cou Falls, Iowa

A night club called "The Red Carpet" operated by former NBA basketball player, Guy Sparrow of the New York Knicks, opened its doors around 1962, only to fall upon hard times and closed in 1964. The building stood idle for two years until Ray Scheetz and Al Huntzinger finally found what they were looking for - a building located nine miles south of Cedar Rapids just off Highway 218 in the little incorporated town of Cou Falls. The structure was owned by the Schlesselman family who also operated a well-known restaurant, "The Ranch Supper Club," located across the street. A one-year agreement contract was signed for the lease of the building and a three-month renovation began in the spring of 1966. The renovation included special wallpaper looking like books on a shelf (like what would be found in a public library), gas fireplace, re-sanded dance floor, beautiful bar and four new air conditioning units placed on top of the building. Booths and tables were bought from the well-known Armar Ballroom in Marion that was being torn down to make room for a new mini mall. As booths & tables were being placed inside the building, Huntzinger and Scheetz found hundreds of pieces of old chewing gum stuck to the bottom of the well-used booths and tables. They wondered if the gum was stuck in place when Jan Garber, Stan Kenton, Tommy Dorsey, Jimmy Dorsey, Glen Miller Lawrence Welk, Benny Goodman or even Spike Jones had played at the Armar Ballroom! They left the gum, knowing this would be an additional musical education piece for the young people who would soon become the new patrons at "The Library". What fun they had with the name "The Library"! Just imagine high school kids as they are walking out the door of their house on a Saturday night saying to their parents, "we're going to The Library!” Their parents must have thought, "what studious children we have brought up!” Open only on Friday & Saturday nights, entertainment consisted of penny beer, free peanuts with shells thrown on the floor and free old time movies - all for $2.00 for "Collegiate Night" held on Friday nights. Saturday nights were Rock ‘N Roll bands like they had never heard before. There were live performances by Tommy James & The Shondells, The Buckinghams, The Fabulous Flippers, Sam The Sham & The Pharoahs, The Zombies, American Breed, Detroit Wheels, The Box Tops, Johnny & The Hurricanes, Pete Klint Quintet, Yellow Balloon, D.J. & The Runaways, Spirit of St. Louis, Cryan' Shames, The Mob, The Fortes, Strawberry Alarm Clock, The Rumbles, O'Kaysions"and Rivieras, just to name a few. According to Huntzinger, “our biggest night we had the Box Tops and Dance Mor Ballroom, only three miles down the road, had The Fabulous Flippers. There were 3,000 kids driving back and forth to see these two groups.” He continues, “It was a wonderful four years watching these kids growing up, some in high school, others in college, many stopping in to dance and say Hello or ‘I have graduated and guess what? I no longer have to tell my folks, I'm going to The Library. I just leave my books at home!’”

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