SDFNE 1960's Era Recordings

Jim Mayo undertook a project to use the Square Dance Foundation of New England's audio archives and locate representative samples of square dance calling from the time period when Modern Western square dancing was taking off, but before the call Swing Thru was invented.

For each caller he has collected a representative patter tip and singing call. The quality of each recording varies and, in some cases, equalization has been attempted to make the calls more intelligable.

Five of these callers were members of the group of ten assembled by Bob Osgood to establish CALLERLAB. The five were Arnie Kronenberger, Bob Van Antwerp, Ed Gilmore, Marshall Flippo and Joe Lewis. Here are Jim's descriptions of the 36 recordings he collected from 1953-1962. Each comes with a "listen" link.

Al Brundage

Al Brundage introduced the "Modern" form of square dancing to New England after attending Lloyd Shaw's Colorado Institute in 1949. The figure is a Route pattern based on Wheel Chain followed by a Whirlwind type of action. Listen

The singing call is Ragtime Piano with a Grand Sashay break and a 4 Ladies Chain figure. Listen

Arnie Kronenberger

Arnie Kronenberger in 1960 at Dance-A-Cade. Arnie was a very popular caller in the early days of MWSD. He was a sales rep for an awards manufacturer. He designed the CALLERLAB Milestone Award that is still in use. This figure is a classic presentation of the concept Ends Turn In originated by Ed Gilmore. The material also includes the call Dixie Chain which was very common at that time. Listen

The singing call is Lazy River; the Lee Helsel version on the Sets In Order label. Listen

Bill Castner

Bill Castner was an early recording caller from California. For many years Bill was the leader of a demonstration group whose performances at the National Square Dance Convention were very popular. Bill also was among the first to put a music stand up to hold the choreography that he read. His choreography was frequently challenging and the Cross Trails near the end of this selection are an example of that. Listen

The singing call is, again, the Helsel version of Lazy River. Listen

Bob Van Antwerp

Bob Van Antwerp, who died in the Spring of 2005, was a recreation director for the town of Long Beach CA. This choreography is based on variations of the Daisy Chain. Listen

The singing call is Bambino Mine. The figure is a complicated star routine. Listen

Dick Jones

Dick Jones was a school teacher who became a very popular caller in the 1960's.The figure open's with the kind of "Gotcha" action that was common at that time. The routine is a complicated single-line-of-four pattern that was clearly a challenge. It also shows the way in which we used a few calls with some ordinary-language directions to add interest to our dances. Listen

The singing call False Hearted Girl was a feature "signature" call for Dick. Listen

Earl Johnston

Earl Johnston was a full-time caller for 40 years who retired in the late 1990's. Earl joined with Irwin Gross, a dancer who designed the Yak Stack to form a company that made that speaker the standard, at least in the East where the old Town Halls that we often used presented a particularly difficult acoustic situation.

Earl had an unusual ability to use many words in delivering his patter commands without losing a near-flawless timing. The choreography is a Route pattern based on Square Thru. Note that it uses the call in ways that might cause trouble on most of today's SD floors. Listen to patter. Listen to singer.

Ed Gilmore

Ed Gilmore was one of the first to offer schools for would-be callers. Because of these schools, his influence on the course of MWSD was huge even though few callers would ever be able to duplicate the timing and choreographic judgement that he tried to teach.

The weathervane pattern in this dance was probably his own creation and is repeated in the singing call. Listen

The singing call, Tipparary, is based on the weathervane pattern. Listen

Earle Park

Earle Park was the most prominent caller in Western Canada in this time period (1962). We're not sure where this dance was held but it is likely that it was in Ottawa. In the patter Earle uses an Ocean Wave formation, the only one we have encountered in this whole series of tapes. It is interesting to hear how he accomplishes what will, a year later, be given the name Swing Thru. Listen

Earle's singing call is Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend. Listen

George Campbell

George Campbell was from Florida and was one of the earliest of "challenge" callers. This choreography uses a wide range of material in a single tip including Dixie Chain and Dixie Twirl (which today we would call As Couples California Twirl), used in Goal Post and Route patterns. Listen

George's singing call is Bambino Mine. Listen

Gloria Rios Roth

Gloria Rios Roth was a contemporary of Red Bates and was also from western Massachusetts. She owned a summer camp and ran a square dance program in the camp facilities at which many of the popular traveling callers of the early 1960's called. Gloria also taught callers and was the first woman to earn CALLERLAB accreditation as a caller coach. Listen

Gloria's singing call is Makin' Whoopee. Listen

Jack Jackson

Jack Jackson was one of a group of callers from Northern Ohio who traveled extensively. Under the influence of Willard Orlich they were choreographic experimenters. Jack was also a folk singer of considerable talent and entertained at after-parties with his guitar. This choreography is a very common triple zero use of the call Wheel & Deal. Listen

Jack's singing call is Swanee. Listen

Jim Mayo

Jim Mayo was the first chairman of CALLERLAB. He worked for MIT and was primarily a local, club caller who traveled to festivals and calling dates only occasionally. The figure is one that Jim wrote which has two couples doing an 8-hand Square Thru in the center while the other two couples do a Square Thru on the outside around them. Listen

The singing call Big Daddy was the record that established the call Wheel & Deal as a permanent part of the SD vocabulary. Listen

Joe Lewis

Joe Lewis was a prominent leader in the Dallas TX area. Joe was an outstandingly successful one-night-party caller and modified an accordian to provide nearly the sound of a full orchestra as his accompaniement. Joe was also brought to Australia by a department store chain there where his visit set off a huge square dance activity in the early 1950's. Listen

Joe's singing call is Alabama Jubiliee, accompanied by himself on the accordian. Listen

Les Gotcher

Les Gotcher was known as the "Hash Master." He was not part of the community of square dance leaders that Bob Osgood organized and recognized in his "Hall of Fame." Les was loner who always believed himself to be the originator of "Sight Calling."

The choreography is a mixture of Wheel & Deal and Wheel Across (which today we would call "As Couples, Trade.") Listen

The singing call Gadabout is unusual because Les seldom did singing calls at all. Many believed he avoided them because he did them poorly but this recording proves otherwise. Note that all of the callers, even the "Hash Master", used the same figure four times through in their singing calls. The idea of "hashing" the singing call had not occurred in the early 1960's. Listen

Marshall Flippo

Marshall Flippo is probably the most prominent traveling caller the MWSD activity has ever known. This 1961 dance would have been early in his calling career and represents a rare appearance in New England. Marshall has traveled calling square dances for more than 50 years. The Texas accent that can be heard clearly in this recording was copied by hundreds of callers as they learned. Listen

The singing call is Stealing Kisses. Listen

Paul Hunt

Paul Hunt, a caller from Long Island, NY is calling this dance in 1957. This is the earliest dance in this set and the choreography is clearly memorized even though, for that time, it was certainly not simple. In fact, most dancers today, even if they were familiar with the Cross Trail call, might find this routine challenging the first time through at least. Listen

Paul's singing call is Put On Your Old Grey Bonnet. It's interesting to note from his introductory remarks that callers were willing to change the rules (for a promenade) occasionally to make a different figure work. Listen

Ray Smith

Ray Smith of Dallas TX. Ray was one of the earliest traveling callers and this recording was made in 1953 at Camp Becket in Massachusetts where, as the announcer declares Ray introduced the western style of square dancing for the first time. The figure is an unusual variation of a well-known traditional pattern known as Right Lady High, Left Lady Low. (Music starts at 2:08) Listen

Ray's singing call is Kansas City My Home Town and he introduces it with a lengthy walk-through and I'm still not sure I understand the routine. (Music starts at 2:40) Listen

Red Bates

Red Bates is a New England caller who traveled widely in NE but rarely outside that region. He was club caller for several clubs in the Springfield MA area and was an early leader in NECCA and later served CALLERLAB on the BOG and as Vice Chairman. The choreography is another example of the Goal Post pattern. Listen

The singing call is Last Night At the Square Dance. Listen

Glossary of Terms

Route pattern
Choreography based on a Facing Lines formation. For example, from facing lines, Pass Thru, On To The Next, Pass Thru, On To The Next, Square Thru 3, On To The Next, Pass Thru, etc. At each occurence of facing lines, one could insert any of the following calls: Pass Thru, Square Thru 3, Square Thru 5.

On To The Next
Today we would call this Bend The Line. In the 1960's this action was also called "Move Along".

Whirlwind type of action
The Whirlwind dance routine was built around the combination (from a Box formation) Dive Thru, Square Thru 4 while the others Divide and Star Thru (or, before Star Thru, Box the Gnat and face the center)

Box formation
Today we would call this an 8 Chain Thru formation -- the formation obtained after a Heads Square Thru 4.

Weathervane pattern
Ed Gilmore is the only caller I know who turned a 4-couple Two-face Line as a unit. He also used that action for Two-couple Two-Faced lines in his singing call Tipparary.

Goal Post pattern
Half the dancers act as goal posts for the active dancers. A typical sequence would start Heads Pass Thru, Separate Around 1 and come into the middle and Pass Thru; Split 2 around 1 and come down the middle with a Square Thru 3; Separate Around 1 and come into the middle and Square Thru 4, etc.

A call or sequence of calls that leaves all dancers back where they started. From normal facing couples, Pass Thru, Chase Right, Boys Run is a Zero. Note: The full subject of Zeros, including True Zeros, Technical Zeros, Geographic Zeros, etc. is beyond the scope of this Glossary.

Double Zero
A call or sequence of calls that, when done twice in a row, leaves all dancers back where they started (e.g., Right And Left Thru).

Triple Zero
A call or sequence of calls that, when done three times in a row, leaves all dancers back where they started. From facing lines, the sequence Pass Thru, Wheel and Deal, Double Pass Thru, First Couple Go Left, Next Couple Go Right is a Triple Zero.