Article Details

John Kaltenthaler May, 2001

Jim Mayo – Award winner John Kaltenthaler. John has a long history in square dancing and we hope that he will tell us something about it. I am Jim Mayo and have been asked by Bob Brundage to do this interview because I am a lot closer to John than Bob is. John, Bob likes to start off these interviews with you as a smaller child

 

John Kaltenthaler – You can skip over that as I was never a small child.

 

JM – I see. So you can skip over that segment of your life experiences as rapidly as you like but

 

JK – We used to dance in the Poconos in the summer with Eastern style dancing or visiting couple, Captain Jinks and Sugar Daddy and Birdie In The Cage and things of that nature and I was asked in nineteen forty-eight if I could call a square dance for some adults in an evening ballroom dancing class where the men were in tuxedos and the women were in floor length evening

gowns.

 

JM – And you were just a kid.

 

JK – I was at that time, I would have been nineteen years old, eighteen or nineteen years old. That was my first professional gig and I dropped out of it for a while and when I was in the service over in Japan they wanted to have a western night and the only square dance music, or even close to square dance music that the Japanese band knew was the “Yellow Rose of Texas”.  It was not exactly a night of live music that you would expect to hear but “Yellow Rose of Texas”, about the only thing and we did that and then, this was in nineteen fifty-five and then when we got back to the states we said, “Well, we’re going to go overseas again. I would like to become prepared to do it so that I’m not kind of thumb length from hand to mouth on it and

 

JM – You had no training before the

 

JK – No training, no. I had looked at it and I had always had the ability of singing and carrying a tune and memorization so that was not the problem. I didn’t know the theory of it and I started to study so that I was more prepared for that when we went back overseas because I knew that I was going back overseas which we went overseas in sixty-one and by that time I had been teaching square dancing for a couple of years in Albuquerque, square and round dancing both and then in nineteen sixty-one when I got over there I got active with the European Callers and Teachers Association.

 

JM – Did they exist at that time?

 

JK – They existed as a partnership with the European Callers and Leaders Association and as many organizations sometimes do they say, “Oh, the callers take over so why don’t we become the Leaders Association and let the callers become their own association”. That was the formation of European callers and Teachers Association and then I got more heavily involved with the caller training aspect and began writing things and in nineteen sixty-four we held the first College of Square and Round Dancing in Europe down in ?? with Bill Higgins and Bob Milligan, Bob Milligan on the rounds and Bob and ?? were protégées of Manning and Nita Smith and basically most of the square dance theory and choreography and lectures were stuff that I had written and because I was working with the European Callers and Teachers Association as their Training Director, the President and Training Director mostly and we found that I loved

teaching callers. I just think that’s the greatest thing going because you can see that light of recognition when it comes on and you feel you’ve done your job and to me that’s as rewarding as watching a dancer suddenly he says, “Oh, that Allemande Left isn’t that hard”. It’s, and we all go through it. I think it’s just a marvelous feeling of training of other callers and of course, in the military you could go from five or ten squares of dancers and three callers to a set of orders and then you have two squares of dancers and no callers and someone would say, “You’ve been here longer than anyone else so you’re the caller for next week” and let’s give these guys some training, let’s prepare them for when they get curtailed and cut back.

 

JM – Was the square dancing mostly military at that point in Europe?

 

JK – Yeah, except that in our, where I was initially in Germany we were up in the north ?? section in the British Zone and they had a group called the NATO Squares that we serviced the Dutch and the Belgian, the Germans, the Canadians and British people. So, we had a mixture, it wasn’t all Americans at all and I was assigned courier duty was to go to the British Army in Rhine Headquarters as a courier because they had a western night and I was going to be their caller and in between tips we did Scottish folk dancing and at two in the morning I said to the band leader, “Play, God Save The Queen it’s time we called this stuff off for the rest of the night” but everybody, I had a dance floor which was large enough for nine squares and I had nine squares from this section of the room would dance and then these nine squares from this section would get up and I better do exactly the same thing that these do because they were all watching, and similarly I had to do identical, and they wanted me to use the same words and that’s tough. It’s tough for a caller to remember, “How did I phrase that?” because we all have multiple ways of presenting any given subject.

 

JM – Although then we were still working with mostly memorized material.

 

JK – Oh, it was, clearly it was memorized material but you know, you just, I can remember some silly things which happened.  I had a guy one time who did not understand three-quarters and I thought, “Well” I said, “What do you do for a living?” He said, “I’m a CPA”. I said, “What’s seven five” and he got it immediately. Now, that sounds silly when you think of it Jim, but I don’t know what triggered that in my mind an yet that’s what we all have to do in square dancing is to have multiple ways of explaining it to your group so that they all can get it and it’s part of

 

JM – And when you’re dealing with people who don’t speak English as their native tongue

 

JK – Yeah, yeah

 

JM – Even then the concept’s

 

JK – That’s even more complicated because now when we were at the British Army Headquarters I had a whole Section of Dutch people who wanted to get up and I had no idea how much English they knew and of course, the British and the Canadians were not going to be a problem but the German and the Dutch and the French people speaking officers there were going to be a problem because if the didn't have the English, but it worked out quite well and then later on I was transferred down to Heidelberg, Germany because they had a critical need for a ordinance nuclear weapons officer who could call square dances and that’s how Freddie and I happened to be transferred down to Heidelberg where we proceeded to continue our calling and cueing and teaching of square dance callers to the extent that we were got busy six or seven nights a week. We did gigs down in Baden Baden for a television show down there and we did down at the colleges every year in Garmish and would do weekends, just six and seven nights a week it was very easy to get over committed.

 

JM – Were there many groups from the States passing through at that time?’

 

JK – Well, Bob Osgood would come over every year and that’s when I guess when I first met Bob was in nineteen sixty-two, sixty-one or two, something like that, he came over with Van Antwerp and, who was the round dance cuer that was so very popular, was a photographer and he and Bob were one group and Bob Page was in the other group. We had dinner with them and then we danced at Heidelberg, at the Heidelberg Castle. There again was another thing that was kind of interesting. We had one of our callers over there dressed in chained maile and he was a good caller in his own right and Bob Van Antwerp was, we had this caller leaned up against a table in the chained maile with a sword and Bob Van Antwerp was calling “Tweedly Dee” and he kind of raised the sword and went, “Ahhhh” and Van Antwerp’s eyes got huge.  He didn’t know what was coming.  He stopped calling and I said, “ If we’d only known that’s what he was going to call we could have had Steve finish calling because he was a caller in his own right and a very good caller. Bob remembers that with great glee and it was, and you have such marvelous things in square dancing that you remember. In Albuquerque I was teaching a group of undertakers at a dance from scratch and I said, “Well now join hands”

 

JM – From the ground up sort of

 

JK – Yeah, (laughs) from the ground up absolutely and I said, “Grab hold of their hands” and he said, as only an undertaker can say, “We’re not used to things that grab back”. So, you get some of the perfectly innocent things.  One day, another one of the guys would say, “Oh, I’m so tired today. I was selling plots all day”, and again, it’s just the tone that they have it, you’re not used to that and it’s amusing things.  We had a television show we used to do a half hour show every week in Albuquerque and one of the callers who was there his false teeth fell out on the floor during the dance and we said, “Smile, Bob” and he said, “(Mumbling) Smile?” He didn’t even want to open his mouth because he didn’t have his teeth in but we survived it all. We had some good dances.  We did things in Europe that were the forerunners of a lot of the things we’ve done here since Callerlab came into being. We used to have a thing called, “The Five Week Peg Point” and we said, “You can teach it in any sequence you want but at the end of five weeks these are the segments of the calls that you should have, at the end of ten weeks and the end of fifteen” and then we said, “OK, we’re going to have a festival. These are the calls we want you to limit yourself to”, and we would run three classes a year because we didn’t have that many basics.  We would have a fifteen week learning session and if you remember the sixties we had a lot of new calls with Swing Throughs and Spin The Tops and so forth came in being during the sixties and everybody learned them at the same time and so when we were teaching classes we didn’t have to go into that stuff right away because that was the new stuff that we used to equalize the floor. It was very interesting stuff and we got involved with buying records.  I would call over to Newark, New Jersey, order the records on Monday, I would receive them by Thursday via Airmail and then the next weekend when we would have the callers meeting I would distribute the records to the people and in those days I would sell them for a dollar ten, cost me ninety cents plus my phone call and postage and I would sell them for a dollar ten. I think I made two cents a record profit and one of the callers thought I gouging. He, I don’t know whether he’s still calling today or not but I’m sure he would be shocked at the cost of equipment and records today.

 

JM – You bet. When did you come back from Europe?

 

JK – Came back from Europe in May of nineteen sixty-six and got involved with forming two callers associations and a dancers association in the Scranton area and in the Bethlehem area.

 

JM – Did you come directly from the Poconos?

 

JK – Yes, I did. That was our summer cottage and we always considered our home base and when we came back I got out of the service and started working for IBM in Scranton which was about a thirty mile drive or so from our home and I worked for IBM for ten years before IBM began to interfere too much with square dancing and then I became the Executive Director of Callerlab.  Those days it was called the Executive Director of Callerlab in nineteen seventy-six.

 

JM – How much were you calling while you were working for IBM? Were you back on the same schedule you had in Europe?

 

JK – No, I didn’t do that much but I was still calling about, probably one hundred and sixty, one hundred seventy dances a year. I was calling in around the New Jersey and New York area.

 

JM – That was pretty much a hotbed of square dancing at the time too.

 

JK – It was. In New York City they had the Twenty-Third Street YMCA. They had a club in there and we had another club out in Paramus which was very close to suburban New York and we had other clubs which were just down the road from there in Jersey, most were in the North Jersey area. I still call for many of those same clubs today. It was fairly easy to get to and the only problem was, being in New York, you had any equipment, it was somewhat of a problem but they had a lot of specials and stuff and I was probably doing I guess mostly

 

JM – You were involved in both the North Jersey Callers Association and the Pennsylvania

 

JK – Well, we formed new ones, Callers Association in the Northeastern Pennsylvania and also in the Bethlehem area and then when I when I became Executive Director of Callerlab I joined the Callers Council of New Jersey which had been in existence with people like Betsy Gotta.

 

JM – That was the first time I met you was in Williamsport Callers

 

JK – Yes, the PennYork  Callers and Teachers Association. That’s right, that was many, many, many years ago.

 

JM – Yes, it was.

 

JK – Gosh, it was.

 

JM – Was it shortly after you got back from

 

JK – Sixty-seven or sixty-eight or something like that

 

JM – Yeah. So, you went to work for Callerlab.

 

JK – Went to work for Callerlab.

 

JM – Callerlab didn’t have any money.

 

JK – Didn’t have much the year that I became full time Executive Secretary we were, I think it was fifteen thousand dollars in debt and by the end of that first year we had changed it into business practices and we were in the black from then on.  We had some lean times in which I would defer payment but much to the consternation of some of my friends on the Board of Governors who said, “Don’t do that” I said, “That’s the only way we’re going to stay solid” and I could afford it and that’s what we did.

 

JM – What are your thoughts about the early days of Callerlab?

 

JK – Probably the greatest thing for square dancing.  I do not subscribe to the idea that Callerlab has caused problems with the grouping of square dance calls into lists. I think that was a form of reality that people danced a series of calls and immediately identified and put a label on it. People are going to become status conscious and want to climb the ladder to more complexity which I violently disagree with. I think dancers want variety and not complexity but we as callers don’t necessarily know how to do that efficiently.

 

JM – We certainly didn’t know how to do it in nineteen seventy four.

 

JK – We certainly did not, but if you recall, every caller that came into town to call or get out a note service he said, “Oh, here’s a call that I just got in the mail this afternoon. Let’s try it” and you might work all night on a call or a couple of calls. You’d never hear them again and that caused a great deal of frustration with the dancers and, in a lot of cases it probably caused some frustration with the callers because they didn’t have a chance to examine it before they tried to use it and, as a result they had some lousy choreography and, I think while callers give lip service to timing and smoothness it’s not widely known how to do it properly. I think that a great deal of the timing of calls and the smoothness of calls is atrocious. I truly believe that and I

 

JM – I certainly agree on that one.

 

JK – I don’t know how we can educate the callers typically, you know, sometimes I’ll ask among the, “Why don’t you go to caller’s school?” and he said, “I’ve been calling twenty years. What could I possibly learn from you?” and my answer has always been the same, “With that attitude, probably nothing” but, I don’t know how else to answer somebody if they say, “Are you going to take a leadership course?”  “No, I was a Boy Scout once. I don’t need that”. “How about a session on teaching?” “No, I taught a class once. I don’t need to go to a class on teaching” and yet, we see every day examples where the teaching of square dancing is just, just poorly done and we don’t give the dancers a fighting chance because we don’t do our job as callers. You know, if we took any dance program and I don’t care what it’s called whether it’s Mainstream, Plus or Advanced if we approached that with the idea that it is our obligation to give them all the calls on that list dancers would become familiar with them then we would become challenged to give that to them from a variety of formations and arrangements and they wouldn’t have to learn a new vocabulary. As it is now, a lot of callers are making dancers think like callers in order to survive, and that’s wrong, in my judgement anyway, that’s wrong.

 

JM – You were Executive Secretary slash Director for fifteen years.

 

JK – Fifteen years

 

JM – Wow

 

JK – Fifteen years of harpoons and, actually it was

 

JM – Up to nineteen ninety?

 

JK – Nineteen ninety-one. Seventy six to ninety one.

 

JM – You certainly saw some major changes in square dancing over that period of time.

 

JK – Boy, did we ever.

 

JM – Do any of them stand out in your mind?  You mentioned that programs and a number of that people say that they destroyed square dancing but

 

JK – Probably the biggest change, the most dramatic change was when we had the, two things really the advent of Callerlab taking the responsibility of a callers seminar to the National Square Dance Convention which I think was a very positive thing for the callers because it became quality education conducted by Callerlab and this top drawer, it was always done by very qualified people who just happened to be members of Callerlab almost without exception. But perhaps the greatest single change that came about was the advent of BMI and ASCAP with the licensing to use Country Western music. There was some extreme bitterness and rancor and just harpooning of one another and just saying, “Why is Callerlab messing with this”.  My answer to the critics is that if it weren’t for Callerlab the tongues would have all gone out of business because we made it possible at a minimum cost to the clubs to be licensed to do square dancing and round dance activity.

 

JM – But there are still many who think that Callerlab created that problem.

 

JK – Oh, I know there are. But nothing can be further from the truth. We reacted to that, we were not being

 

JM – We had talked about it a couple of times.

 

JK – Yeah, but

 

JM – Before it happened, decided to let

 

JK – And them see what they wanted to do and then they started to push it a little bit and they sent out I guess it was about eight thousand letters and scared an awful lot of clubs and callers and we became involved.

 

JM – I’ve heard that they went through the National Square Dance Directory and that’s where they got the mailing list.

 

JK – That could very well be.

 

JM – They sent it to callers and clubs

 

JK – And then we asked some of the clubs in New York and I sat down with, I started initially the, most of it was done with BMI. They were more receptive than ASCAP and ?? ASCAP what we had done with BMI and we got an agreement to do a less than fifty dances a year and greater than fifty dances a year to have a licensing structure based upon frequency of use and that eliminated the, every club was going to be charged twenty dollars a night for licensing of BMI and probably a similar amount from ASCAP and we were able to negotiate the fee for the caller who was licensed and therefore the caller maybe some clubs paid them an additional five dollars but five dollars for each night that they called a dance in deference to forty dollars a night is a big difference in survivability financially. But that was probably the largest single change and that’s why the membership in Callerlab had put us solidly in the black although not without bitterness on the part of some of the callers.

 

JM – Do you have any sense of the often, almost always bend above the number five thousand, the number of square dance callers in the world. I think that nobody ever believed that included all the traditional callers too but do you have any sense of that we got anywhere near all the callers, the membership went up to about four thousand at that point.

 

JK – Yeah, it did.

 

JM – And ACA had some

 

JK – Yeah, they had some, both talk at the same time, number of members

 

JM – But they had some, maybe another thousand would come pretty close to the five thousand.

 

JK – I would say probably there are more than that although I don’t think that our numbers, as far as formerly members of Callerlab or ACA ever came to more than forty eight hundred or five thousand and we know that there are a lot of traditional callers and/or contra callers who didn’t necessarily join Callerlab.

 

JM – Or ACA.  That certainly was a major event in the life of Callerlab. I don’t have the sense that it had much impact on square dancing. It could have if we hadn’t solved the problem.

 

JK – That’s why I said it was dramatic because we had callers who thought this was going to be a golden opportunity for them to almost double their fees and some of them got very cross when dancers would call us up at the home office and they’d say, “ Now hold on, if the caller is going to pay a fee of so much per year” and I say, “If you figure a certain number of dances a year they call that’s about, you know maybe two or three dollars a night more that they have to spend.  If we give them five dollars a night and I said, “ That would be fine” and some of them thought I was cutting their throats but I stood by it because I thought it was the truth and I don’t think you have to defend the truth. 

JM – Do you have any recollection of the changes that happened in square dancing when the dancers from the dancing perspective over the period of when you got back from Europe to the end of your term as Executive Director?

 

JK – You and I have talked about this a number of times and I think that what happened was probably in the early, mid sixties, late sixties Bob Osgood and the Sets In Order Square Dance Society formed a Gold Ribbon Committee to try to standardize and they put out their Basic, Extended Basic and Mainstream programs and Callerlab in seventy four adopted them and the stratification of programs with the identification of various things and about the same time some of the officers of the time began to publicize more things like modules and mental image calling and sight resolution techniques and we eliminated the walk through and when we eliminated the walk through we made

square dancing a great deal more difficult for the average dancer. We used to walk through everything regardless of how simple it was and the dancers would commit to memory, maybe not everything but certainly they had a pretty good idea of the traffic pattern and we would call that traffic pattern four times through in a singing call and callers as they began calling more once a week maybe they would call three or four or five times a week they began to get bored doing the same thing over and over and over again so they would put in a singing call four different figures. Well, that was fine for the callers but it was tough for the dancers and that would be probably the most significant change that I saw in the art and science of square dance calling. We forgot about the preparation aspects of dancing and made it more complex for the dancer. Whether that, I just think we make life much more difficult for them than it has to be.

 

JM – And what they want it to be.

 

JK – And certainly the dancers, there are segments of the dancing population that wants complexity, there is no question about that and certainly the people who go on to Advanced or Challenge dancing – I don’t really care how complex the callers make it for them – that seems to be what they want but for the typical recreational dancer - not a high frequency hobby dancer they don’t want that complexity. They want differences, variety but they don’t want complexity.

 

JM – You continued to caller regularly all the time you were Executive Director.

 

JK – Yes, I did

 

JM – Far be it from a callers association  to complain about it’s employee moonlighting. I think most of us did that.

 

JK – Yes

 

JM – It certainly was not inappropriate in that role but you also played a double role because you contributed a great deal to writing. You were also one of the early caller-coaches and were a regular contributor to the development of caller training materials

 

JK – Yes

 

JM – Can you comment some on that process.

 

JK – Yeah, you know -  

 

JM – So, it told a lot - your job and moonlight responsibilities.

 

JK – It did, it did but that part of that goes back to my background as, in the military teaching, my wife is a teacher my brother is a teacher, my sister is a teacher and to me, education of people is so critical.  It’s like the father who says to the child, “Why do you want to become a teacher? Why not become a doctor. Doctors make more money,” “But who’s going to be there to teach the Doctors if you don’t have teachers” and to me education of the callers is so critical that we have to be able to educate the dancers and years ago, and Jim I’m sure you know this having been a caller for over fifty years yourself that we have our own notebooks and God Forbid our notebooks would fall into someone else’s hand and I think with the advent of Callerlab in seventy four you saw callers turn around and say, “I’m willing to share” and probably that’s one of the greatest things that Callerlab did was the sharing of information and if you had the opportunity to sit there and you had the ability of writing coherently that’s a nice combination which Callerlab did with a few callers, and in nineteen, I guess it was nineteen eighty we formed the Caller-Coach Committee to see if we could standardize the curriculum for caller training and our first meeting was down in the Fort Worth area. Then we had a subsequent meeting up in Chicago where we had many of the original caller-coaches sat down together and we agreed on a curriculum of twenty-one subjects and then we had to figure out what has been written on these and some of these things there was not an awful lot of things period and strangely enough the one thing that was probably the hardest single subject to get agreement on was timing and, as you know because you were so actively involved with it we had the two schools of thought basically that everything should be timed out to an eight beat musical phrase and coincidental to this Callerlab was working with their timing committee and we found that not everything had eight beat phrases. We had some calls that took an odd number of beats and that meant that we had to make some adjustments somewhere. How do you deal with that and how do you write to teach other callers how to deal with the fact that a Square Through from a static square takes ten beats and yet you have eight beats to get over to the corner so you clip two beats well, that’s not good timing but then you combine it with a Swing Through of six beats that gives you two musical phrases and you’re back to the phrase of the music. But again, it’s. it was difficult to get these things agreed to in writing and when the curriculum guide lines came out then the second step that Callerlab had to get involved with was the technical supplement to expand on those topics.

 

JM – What was the difference between those two?

 

JK – Well, the curriculum guideline gives you the nature of the subjects and the quantification of what should be taught. The technical supplement says this is the procedure by which you teach this to callers and then the individual callers schools would come up with technology or phraseology as to how you would teach this to the caller so he is able to relate that and teach it to the dancer. So, it’s a three phase, first is the subject, then what’s the scope of that subject and then how do you do that and how do you implement it, the implementation of it. It’s very difficult because we a lot of scope of callers but not very good writers.

 

JM – OK. Well, now that you have retired from your paid job, that’s not the way.

 

JK – Laughs

 

JM – Calling is supposed to be paid isn’t it from your full time job as Executive Director how did you find that it changed your involvement in the square dance activity?

 

JK – Still involved with Callerlab heavily serving on the Board of Governors, Committee chairman, not calling as frequently as I used to but I’m still calling about a hundred dances a year, not as few as my wife would like me to call but we are cutting back. I find that I do the dances that I enjoy calling and if I don’t want to call a place why we sometimes say that we just can’t make that commitment. I’ve done, you know caller’s school, caller training continues to be my major thrust. We’re active in out local callers association and I’ve gone overseas to do a number of clinics and colleges overseas in Germany and Sweden and Denmark and Australia. I love that aspect of it. Caller training seems, I think gives me more satisfaction than any other aspect of calling.

 

JM – I have the sense that the number of people interested would be trained would be tricky.

 

JK – I would agree with that and I don’t know how you motivate them but there is certainly no less of a need for it. I think there’s a greater need now than there ever was but I don’t know -

 

JM – It’s probably not as much fun as it was when we started.

 

JK -  Well –

 

JM – I’ve often wondered if I – if square dancing had been as complicated when I began calling as it is now would I have ever started and I think the answer is clearly, “No”

 

JK – I would say that would happen to a lot of us Jim, I think of the time in sixty-one when we were calling in Europe – they came up with that five ?? a week peg point system that was a Godsend to us in Europe because it stratified – said OK, do it this way . here is a road map and you this five weeks, this five weeks, this five weeks and –

 

JM – Well, in sixty-one you were only teaching twenty-five calls.

 

JK – Fifteen weeks that was the full dance program.

 

Jm – That was being very generous with the teaching time – that’s only two calls a week. Now we do ,more than three, close to four.

 

JK – Three or four a night, remember that. I think the other thing that happened there is that Callerlab tried to stratify but a lot of people didn’t believe it. They thought that their method was better than Callerlab and they didn’t accept it right away which is – the dancers accepted the Callerlab lists far more readily than the callers did and I think that asaserbated the problem.

 

JM – What do you see in the future for square dancing?

 

JK – I think we have to learn how to market it. I think we need to learn how to publicize it and we need to figure out a way to make it more appealing in a less of the time commitment than we currently require.

 

JM – Does that mean a change in the product?

 

JK – It may very well mean a change in the product. Certainly the frequency of the teaching product where people learn or start classes once every year is not sufficient. It’s interesting when you think of a place like State College or Penn State University you don’t ever want to start in September because that’s football season and there they start in January and by the following fall people say, “OK, I can skip football one night a week but you’ll never get them to admit that when the football season starts if we’re going to make a one night a week commitment to square dancing” they just won’t do it.

 

JM – Reminds me of the start of Monday Night Football.

 

JK – Yes

 

JK – It taps attendance in one of my clubs by almost twenty percent.

 

JK – Yep.

 

JM – It’s a Monday night club and they suffer -

 

JK – Yep

 

JM – from the start of Monday Night football on television.

 

JK – Yep, and the – and again I think that the not only do we have to adjust that but the multi-cycle program I think can be the salvation because the best recruiters we have for square dancing are the square dancers and I think that as you’ve been calling for fifteen, twenty, thirty years whatever time frame it is that you’re calling and the dancers have been dancing have been dancing that long who do they recruit from? They don’t have anyone friends that aren’t square dancing and we’re not addressing the church groups, the young peoples groups, the Parents Without Partners – there are a lot of segments of the activity because we’re not a part of their social activities we’re not getting them into the activity and I think the same thing is true with the nature of people – they don’t want to make the commitment for long time activities. Bowling likes to stop a length of time, bridge clubs, tennis clubs all sorts of activities don’t have that same commitment to time. It just takes too much time to do it and you just scare people off when you say, “Well, you have to dance for thirty weeks or thirty-five weeks”.

 

JM – Well, square dancing has had quite an impact on your life. Could sum it up for us?

 

JK – Square dancing has enabled me

 

JM – It has been a major part of –

 

JK – It has and it’s even – well, if you go back to the early – well, even the early World War Two years that ah, and shortly after that when I became thoroughly involved in it in multiple nights a week from fifty-eight on and it’s enabled me to do things that otherwise I would never have found possible – to go places as a result of square dancing. I’ve called in nine foreign countries, five Canadian Provinces and forty-seven of the American fifty states and I’m just as proud as can be and I’ve had fun in all of it that I’ve done. As you say, if I knew at the start what I know now I might not have started but having done it I have no regrets, I’d do it all over again.

 

JM – You wouldn’t give up any of what you got from it -

 

JK – No.

 

JM – even if you had to work a little harder.

 

JK = Huh, you’ve got to work at it – probably the thing that’s most - least understood by most callers or potential callers is that they feel that if they go through a callers school for a week they will become a caller and they neglect the hours and hours of hard work it takes to be successful.

 

JM – Didn’t seem like work thought did it?

 

JK – No, it really didn’t, you know it’s ah – we can come up with cliches – they say only in the dictionary that success comes before work but ever at that it’s a lot of fun and it’s very rewarding - as I say the teaching and the teaching of callers how to become more talented is a marvelous reward. I think it’s been a, you know a people oriented thing – if you’re a people oriented person square dancing is a marvelous recreation hobby and/or sideline business that enables you to do things you otherwise you wouldn’t be able to do.

 

JM – But can you teach those of us who are not people persons about the values of that?

 

JK – Well, not only the values of it but it’s something that you can do with your whole family from the ages of eight through eighty plus.

 

JM – How many of your family got involved?

 

JK – Well, I have a daughter who cues and all of them have danced at one time or another. Our daughter in Florida was dancing regularly for a while, she and her husband. Our youngest girl can do one night stand material quite easily and out oldest girl is the one that cues round dancing – is a superb round dance cuer and a very capable dancer – she and her husband are  beautiful dancers together and we’re involved with a couple of the organizations – the Overseas Dancers Association – every year we have a reunion in August. That’s kind of fun to see the people over, you know every year that you see them and renew your friendships. It’s the same thing with Callerlab you get to see good friends – you make some marvelous friends in this activity that otherwise you would never have the opportunity to share fun and fellowship with.

 

JM – Well, thank you very much for your contributions –

 

JK – Pleasure

 

JM – Hope we’ll find somebody to transcribe all of this.

 

JK – Yeah – laughs

 

JM – I’ve done video but I think this year as my chairman duties fill me up I’m going to pass the transcription on to others but I think it’s a wonderful project that Bob has undertaken.

 

JK – Yes, I do too

 

JM – He’s got, I think over ninety tapes now – most of the Milestone Award winners are done and the Silver Spur Award winners and Silver Halo Award winners – it’s a marvelous contribution to the archives of our activity.

 

JK – I don’t know that I told you when we were talking whether – the fact that I got the Silver Spur in nineteen seventy-eight

 

JM – Hmm. No you didn’t.

 

JK – At that time –

 

JM – So that was doubles for you for the Milestone and the Silver Spur

 

JK – The Milestone and the Silver Spur and I also got the – from the Overseas Square Dancers I also got the Messer Award -

 

JM – Ahh. Very good

 

JK – the joy of the people in the activity makes it all worthwhile.

 

JM – Thank you kindly and we’ll bring it all to a close.

 

 

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Written By: Jim Mayo
Date Posted: 1/19/2007
Number of Views: 1480

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