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Charlie Haaser & Rainbow Rhythm Orchestra

Rainbow Garden
1940's

In 1946 Cy Connors sold Rainbow Garden to Bob Wingard, who continued to run it much as it had been for the previous 20 years.

One practice Wingard continued was featuring local orchestras, which performed on Saturday nights, while the nationally known musicians performed on Sundays. Wingard noted that area bands earned their keep at the Rainbow.

I made my money on Saturday nights, he said. Sunday night (when the name bands played) was a glamour night. I was lucky to break even.

[Wingard] recalled the time that Harry James came to Rainbow.

The first time Harry James was here, he was sick. I mean he had the flu. But you would never have known it. He was a showman.

After his performance, James retired to the Fremont Hotel for a meal and some sleep. Before going to bed, he called his wife, actress Betty Grable. It was the phone conversation heard ‘round Fremont.

He called his wife and told her, ‘Yeah I’m staying at a hotel in a little town where you don’t even have to walk up stairs to go to your room.'

Bob [Wingard] recounted.

The telephone operator was listening in, so the next day it was all over town what he had said.

[Excerpted from John Moor, "See You At Rainbow," The Bridge, June 2, 1988]

The best known local orchestra performing at Rainbow Garden was Charlie Haaser and his Rainbow Rhythm Orchestra. Haaser’s band began performing at Rainbow Garden in 1946 and continued to play there until the Garden closed in 1959. Other local orchestras featured at the Garden were led by Lew Waterman, Will Keating and Charlie Lenhart.

During Bob Wingard’s tenure Rainbow Garden continued to be a popular singles spot. With topnotch musical entertainment, a fountain, a mirror ball, and marble dance floor, the Garden offered an atmosphere for romance. It was not unusual for the dance hall to be packed with 1,500 to 2,000 people on a weekend night. High school proms were held there, and other gala events such as the local hospital's Charity Ball.

- Written by Cheryl Laugherty -

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