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Words & Images: Dellwood Ballroom

by Carol Stewart

It is generally accepted that the end of World War I marked the upswing in ballrooms and ballroom dancing across the country.  Ballrooms refer to all those establishments, whether called pavilions or just dance halls, where large crowds would gather to dance to the new music of the times.  Although ballrooms have long been associated with the Big Bands, it was the Jazz Age where many of them got their start.  The 30’s and 40’s were undoubtedly the highpoint of the ballroom era, and ironically, it was the end of World War II that also saw the downswing in the number of ballrooms across the United States.  Many ballrooms remained quite prominent through the 50’s and into the 60’s.  But by the later 60’s changing times began to take a heavy toll on these popular dance locales.
Ballrooms could be elegant or plain.  They could be in the biggest cities or in the smallest rural area of the country.  But they all shared a common denominator of music and dancing.  For many decades the ballroom was the dominate place for social gatherings.  These nights at the dances still provide many generations with their fonde4st memories.
My mom used to roller skate and dance at the Dellwood Ballroom on Main Street in Buffalo, New York.  She would wear Evening in Paris perfume and that famous blue bottle was always on her mirrored toilette tray along with her silver comb and brush set.  Later, when she retired to the Friedwald Nursing Home, I found a bottle for her from the Vermont Country Store.  I took it into the nursing home and she remembered the scent and the blue bottle and dancing with Eddie Lock at the Dellwood Ballroom and then onto the Crystal Beach Boat.  She danced all the way from the foot of Michigan Street across Lake Erie and over to Ridgeway, Ontario, Canada and back for 35 cents.
Mom was delighted with her gift.  But …. every other woman in that room of elderly people had their eyes locked on that famous azure bottle.  I tucked it away in her drawer so no one could find it.  Problem was she forgot were she put it, where it could be or who came in her room and took it.
How did Evening in Paris perfume survive the Great Depression?  Savvy marketing by Chanel.  This beloved scent in it’s memorable cobalt blue bottle was sold in dime stores for 25 cents while the department store version was sold in expensive Baccarat bottles with crystal stoppers.  Thus all women could indulge in the most famous fragrance in the world.
I found it!  From the daring decade of the 1920’s glittering nightlife, flapper fashion, the heady perfume of luxury –  the fragrance Soir De Paris, or Evening in Paris as we knew it.  The haute monde embraced the most famous fragrance in the world made by the Chanel Company Bourjois.  By the 1950’s it was touted as the fragrance more women wore than any other in the world.

One never stops learning and teaching and has played an important role throughout my life. There have been 38 educators in my family. I have three masters degrees and a doctorate in Educational Organization and Administration.

I own a true antique house in Palisades, New York and a lovely condo on Cape Cod.  I’m a true Buffalo girl enjoying real Buffalo wings, Vernor’s ginger ale, all kinds of sausage, call soda “pop” and loved my cottage on the Canadian side of Lake Erie. Music has threaded throughout my life as well as my family’s. I have sung throughout school, performed in Buffalo and Ridgewood’s Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Company. Now I enjoy helping to costume my daughter’s shows in NYC.
Words and Images is a column that features the work of students from Bill Batson’s sketch logging class at the Learning Collaborative.  
Thanks to Bonnie Timm for editorial assistance.

Nyack People & Places, a weekly series that features photos and profiles of citizens and scenes near Nyack, NY, is sponsored by Sun River Health.

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