A Night to Remember: Lawrence Welk in Broken Bow Phil Gardener remembers the excitement when Lawrence Welk and his Hotsy Totsy Boys played at Bernard's Dance Hall just south of Broken Bow, Neb., in the 1930s.
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A Night to Remember: Lawrence Welk in Broken Bow

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A Night to Remember: Lawrence Welk in Broken Bow

A Night to Remember: Lawrence Welk in Broken Bow

A Night to Remember: Lawrence Welk in Broken Bow

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/6362597/6362598" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Phil Gardener remembers the excitement when Lawrence Welk and his Hotsy Totsy Boys played at Bernard's Dance Hall just south of Broken Bow, Neb., in the 1930s.

LIANE HANSEN, host:

As we reported earlier, we visited Broken Bow, Nebraska this past week to hear from residents about how they're feeling about life in their community with elections just more than two weeks away. Naturally, we learned much more than just about the present.

The town dates back to the late 19th century, when two boys wandering along Muddy Creek found five pieces of a Pawnee Indian bow. Their father, Wilson Hewitt, had submitted an application to name a new post office and was inspired by his sons' discovery. On November 4, 1880, the Broken Bow Post Office was Christened. A piece of the original bow is still on display at the Custer County Historical Society.

(Soundbite of City Cafe)

HANSEN: At the City Café, a Broken Bow resident told us more about the town's past and a brush with musical fame.

Mr. PHIL GARDNER(ph): My name is Phil Gardner. I was born in Broken Bow in 1926, and Custer County had 29,000 people in 1930, and now we're down to 11,000 because the depressions and the draughts and so forth. But there was a homely dance hall a mile south of Broken Bow, Bernard's Dance Hall, and Lawrence Welk and his orchestra from Chicago - they called them the Wrigley Hotsy-Totsy Boys - it was a nine or 10 piece orchestra - he played out here to this dance hall, and my - the Gardners - there were 12 in that family - and they all loved to dance.

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. GARDNER: And so Lawrence Welk came - they'd been charging in the gym 50 cents a couple - they had to ante it up to a dollar a couple. But Lawrence Welk played out there, and they'd been letting them play until 1:00 o'clock in the morning. They let them dance until 3:30 or 4:00 in the morning. The whole bunch came back here to the City Café. It was one space north. Lawrence Welk put on an apron, went out in the kitchen and cooked breakfast for about 50 or 55 people.

(Soundbite of music)

HANSEN: Phil Gardner spoke to us at the City Café in Broken Bow, Nebraska. Lawrence Welk's recording of Spiked Beer was provided by Rob Banberger(ph), host of Public Radio's Hot Jazz Saturday Night.

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