Article Details

Dick & Erna Moore 1980

 

INTERVIEW WITH DICK & ERNA MOORE
Conducted by Dave Taylor
1980
 
(Ed. Note: the tape seems to start in mid sentence)
Dave Taylor - …. what seems to me a very sad story to a very glorious start – you know the … (unintelligible) it seemed as if Mr. Ford, when he passed away … that the Ford family … it sounded like he had left a type of legacy that he wanted to continue, but that the people, either in the family or in the management end … I wouldn’t say they purposely went in,  according to what I read, and tried to stop it, but it was just a slow deterioration where they absolutely were not behind it or something. 
Dick Moore – Well, they had very little to do with anything. I think it’s the way their will and various things of that nature were set up that did more to kill the legend, if you will, than anything else. I’ve been associated with the Ford family since I was seven. And my wife just about the same.
Erna Moore (Dick’s wife) – Um hm.
DT – I’ll be darned.
DM - You want to get over some of the heavy stuff first?
DT – Sure. Whatever you’re thinking …
DM – I did this … this was oh you might call it part of a research project between Lovett, Mr. Ford and myself, with Lovett and I doing all the work of course, but we had to be sure of our facts. Unfortunately, it was so lengthy we had to leave out a lot but this will give you an idea of how the whole darn thing started.
DT – This is something you put together and documented for this type of thing.
(Editor note: Dick turns on his tape player and plays Dave a recording of Dick’s “History of Dance” presentation which he plays on occasions when listeners will be interested. The text is shown in italics below)
Throughout all of the annals of history man has expressed himself in the arts. The arts include the dance. And this expression of art is as varied as literature, music, painting, sculpture, etc. Each step or movement in dancing has meaning to the person who first originated the particular movement. Every culture and every country of the world has dances which are indigenous to their life style. American dancing is naturally a pot-puree of many nations which make up the culture of America. Early American dancing is a set series of movements. And because of this, many dances are organized into sets, or called a set. Some of these sets are very foreign. Others are a loose organization of steps. Dancing during the colonial days of America was a very fixed series of steps. These colonial dances have always been fascinating to those who dance them and caught the attention of a famous American, Mr. Henry Ford the elder. As with many of his enthusiasms, Henry Ford followed through thoroughly with one which got his fancy. He and his wife organized old fashioned dinner parties before World War I. In 1923 Ford purchased historic Wayside Inn in Sudbury, Massachusetts. There they organized early American dances as part of the entertainment program. The dancing master of Wayside Inn was Mr. Benjamin B. Lovett. To publicize his hobby, Mr. Ford invited 200 Ohio and Michigan dancing instructors to Dearborn to learn the Virginia Reel, Schottische, Varsouvianna, Gavotte, Ripple, Oxford Minuet, and other almost forgotten steps. In addition the industrialist arranged for Mr. Lovett to teach dancing to Dearborn school children. For myself, I began my dancing career at the age of six or seven years of age in about 1927 under Mr. Lovett’s tutelage.
Old fashioned dancing became the rage. Newspapers carried detailed instructions covering an entire page. And 34 institutions of higher learning, including such famous names as Radcliff College, Stevens College, Temple University, and the Universities of Michigan, North Carolina and Georgia added early American dancing to their curriculum. Mr. Ford sent Mr. Lovett on a junket to supervise the teaching. After the spring of 1926, early American dancing pretty much lost its popularity. But Mr. Ford continued to hold dances and parties in Dearborn until the early 1940s. During the 1940s, the city of Dearborn became very active in the early American dancing field and organized a number of groups in 1943. The dancing master for the city of Dearborn was Richard R. (Dick) Moore who was a dance caller and instructor for the Dearborn recreation department. Mr. Moore was a former pupil of Mr. Lovett and eventually became his assistant. He was a member of the American Federation of Musicians and the Dance Masters of America and is one of the few men that can teach, call, and play for the dancing. Mr. Moore was the Midwest Outstanding Teacher of early American square dancing which owes its origin to the British and French court, and was brought to this country by the colonists. Mr. Moore worked very closely with Mr. Lovett and Mr. Ford in studying the origins of these dances and their music. A typical evening of dancing with Mr. Ford and/or Mr. Lovett will find gavottes, schottisches, mazurkas, minuets, and many other types of round dances on the program as well as square dances. 
An interesting fact is that when the dances were first brought to this country from overseas, there was no such thing as a “caller”. The dance master was intended for one purpose, and that was to teach the round dances and Quadrilles of the time to those who did not know them. You were expected to be familiar with the dance and music before setting foot on a dance floor. As time went on and more and more people became interested the dance master was sometimes called a “prompter”, because he would get up on a platform with the musicians and from time to time would prompt the dancers so that they might get reorganized if they were having difficulty. As people migrated west they were often without this prompter and asked a member of the group who could recall the dance patterns of … to call them out to the dancers. Also with the migration west originated the legends of the trek. And the caller would often try to use these legends which had been put to music and weave them into the story of the dance. So singing calls were originated. 
 
The Dearborn recreational groups … early American Dancing Groups perhaps I should say, which had an active adult membership of over 350 couples who danced once a week. There was only one hall in Dearborn large enough to accommodate all the people, and that was available only once a month. So we divided into neighborhood groups. These neighborhood groups met in the local schools. And then once a month the groups would get together for a formal ball at the Ford Navel Armory where over 600 persons would take to the floor at one time for Quadrilles and round dancing. We also occasionally danced on the green. A special program of dances attended by Mr. and Mrs. Henry Ford at Ford field in Dearborn. 
A typical dance evening at the recreation building in Greenfield Village sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. Ford and being called by Mr. Lovett, would include a program of dances such as Keynote Schottische, Canadian Barn Dance, Billy Boy, Gunnings Quadrille, Fascination, Varsouvianna Waltz, Red River Valley, Columbine Mazurka, My Little Girl, Nellie Bly, Old Susanna, then an intermission. This was usually followed by a round dance of some sort, perhaps a waltz or a fox trot, then the Texas Double Star, French Quadrille, New Mexico Star, Waltz of the Bells, Devil’s Britches, Double Chasse, and then all would join in singing God Bless America and dance a closing waltz. 
Most of the early American dance parties were held with the women wearing formal gowns and men in dark suits. Corsages were the order of the day and the evening was made up of waltzes and quadrilles, polkas and schottisches as mentioned above. Whether dancing in beautiful Lovett Hall in Greenfield Village to a program of schottisches and quadrilles or dancing at a large square dance convention, or at a small gathering of a local group, the feeling of participating in a form of dance that has been with us over the centuries is still exciting. 
Sincerely,
Dick Moore the Ford Caller
(Dick Moore’s tape machine clicks off as the recording ends.)
DT - That’s very good. (chuckle)
DM – It’s just intended to give a quick, very fast rundown.
A lot of people think, unfortunately, that square dancing when we started … was a matter of a few years ago.
DT – Yeah, that’s right. Most people that I talk to think it started after World War II. (laughs)
DM – But back in the old days every moneyed family that came to this country had their own resident dance caller. I should say dance teacher. And you had to know … I mean the dances are so darn intricate, you had to know definitely what you were doing or you could be in deep trouble. In fact, things were so controlled back in those days that you wouldn’t even be asked to attend a dance unless you’d had formal training. 
DT – On the tape I heard you say Benjamin Lovett was at the Inn … Wayside Inn?
DM – Yeah.
DT – And it was … and I read in the archives that Mr. Ford purchased that. He used to go out there and I guess he was impressed with Benjamin Lovett. And then he more or less financially persuaded Benjamin Lovett to come here, wasn’t it?
DM – Well he … (laughs) as a matter of fact, in order to get Lovett he had to buy the Inn. (Dave laughs) If you really want to know the true story. Of course that didn’t bother Henry, back at that time, he had some 20 billion dollars in his personal bank account. And that’s not a mistake. It wasn’t million, it was billion. The last billionaire. They wrote a book about him way back then. But buying the Inn was really nothing, and then of course he brought it up to snuff where it ought to be. But Lovett only came … well he insisted on coming out here on a two month contract and as far as I can figure he … when did he retire … I called for …
EM – Twenty six years. 
DM – Yeah, twenty six years
DT – Twenty six years on a two month contract. (laughs)
That’s not bad.
DM – No.
DT - I suppose it’s hard to equate with today’s inflation but would you say he was rather well paid? 
DM – Oh yeah. He was the top executive in the company. That was his field.
EM – During the depression I know for a fact that he was getting about $1000. a month. 
DM – A thousand a month during the depression.
EM - ... during the depression which was darn good money …
DT – Yeah, I imagine. If people could find a job they were working for $15 or $20 a week weren’t they?
DM – Yeah, Erna lived right across the street from Ben.
EM – When he would go with Mr. Lovett to Georgia my mother and dad and I would move into their house, into Lovett’s house. (unintelligible)
DM – I see.
DT – He went to Georgia quite often to help the University of Georgia one of the small ….
DM – No, no, no, no. 
EM – He went down there because Mr. Ford was down there … Mr. Ford’s plantation was down there. 
DM – Well he had us to do the work at the University, teaching. But no he … that was his winter home.
DT – Oh I see, he had a home in Georgia.
DM – Plantation.
DT – Plantation. (laughs)
DM – I’m not with it today. (Erna calls dog in background) I’m not with it today.
DM –Hill.
EM – Richmond Hill was Mr. Ford’s plantation. (To the dog)
Now look, you’re going to get put in the bedroom if you don’t stop that.
DM – Well put him in there then. You’re going to lose your train of thought. I know, I asked to have him out.
DT – I remember many years ago … when just by word of mouth when I got into square dancing that the people used to tell me that Benjamin Lovett was a very strong personality … very strong leader type with the people. The story I heard was when he instructed the people to dance he also instructed them in courtesies and manners and the story I heard was that he actually told the ladies … well while at a dance they were not to cross their legs at the knee and this type of thing …
DM – Well yes certainly. You see … Erna do you have an invitation there to one of the dances (they get out an invitation and look at it). If you notice, it doesn’t say anything about a dance, does it.
DT – You are cordially invited to attend a class …
DM – Yes.
DT - … in old fashioned dancing sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. Henry Ford … then it gives the date … recreation building Greenfield Village … 1939.
DM – See those were … those were held every Friday night. It was my job and my wife’s job to be there. We were buffers between he and the less experienced dancers. For instance Mr. Ford would form his set … well there were over 200 people there and it was always a difficult to control crowd. They would all try to get into his set. Well we were there to ward them off, to dance in the set, and if there was an inexperienced couple the Fords themselves and Erna we pushed them around to make sure they didn’t … (all laugh)
DT – Things haven’t changed too much in that respect. (laughs some more) Right.
EM – We pushed them around.
DM – Yeah you see I was a member of what was called his “social staff”. And our job was to send invitations to the dances and so on. New people received a little communiqué inside their invitation that told them what to wear, what not to wear, what shoes to wear, don’t wear any shoes that had nails in them …
DT – Because the floor ….
DM – Yeah. See the floor in Lovett hall was teakwood. They had beautiful floors from his plantation in South America. And there was a fellow there that had nothing to do but to polish that floor. 
DT – Now was it a ….
DM - Eight hours a day six days a week.
DT – Whether it was used or not?
DM – Of course.
EM – Of course it was used every Friday night.  And we had classes there … school all week, dance classes.
DM – And we … the new dance teachers we’d have to … we would work with them up there every day during the week. 
DT – When Benjamin Lovett came here … it sounds like you say he … his job, his (unintelligible) training you and the other dance masters, is that right, and you actually did the training of the dancers? Is that how it ….
DM – No, humm. How can I explain it? I trained the dance teachers.
DT – I see, because you were his assistant?
DM – Yeah. And a dance master in my own right. So that entitled me to certain privileges, mainly doing as little as possible. (Dave laughs) But the dance teachers would take care of teaching any of the guests that were there for the first time. I’ll give you a fore instance. A fellow by the name of Ferguson, Ferguson tractors. Brought his tractor over from England, and eventually he got gypped out of it. 
(Grandfather clock strikes in the background)
But, that’s neither here nor there. The other dance teachers were … had their own schedule.  I wish I could show you.  Every day they had a different schedule. They went to a different school … all day. Now they might go to four or five schools in one day depending on how many classes that school had. There were country schools, schools out in the country. Macon, Dundee, Cupseole?, Chicago, Chicago school system. They would send a couple of teachers and musicians to Chicago for instance. And down into Ohio all over.
DT – Mr. Ford paid those?
DM – Oh yes. All the schools had to do was request “social training”, that was the key word. It wasn’t dancing. Dancing was used as a means to an end. How to set tables, how to sit, cross ankles, uncross ankles. How to conduct themselves in a ballroom. Oh so many things. Just the social arts I guess. That’s what they were taught and we were supposed to teach. 
DT – The convention that Lovett came here then … he was a social arbiter.
DT – One of the members of the archives said to me, you will have a little trouble finding any amount of written material on Benjamin Lovett and that’s why he gave me your phone number. He said you would know more about him than anyone and he said the reason you would find it difficult to find written material was that Mr. Ford didn’t particularly care to have anyone who worked for him involved in a great deal of publicity.
EM – (unintelligible)
DM – I think it went a lot further. 
DT – Is that right?
DM – Lovett was a very self contained man himself. I mean he drove a big Lincoln all the time and all that … and all the trappings that went with it, but you wouldn’t find his picture in the papers or anything. I probably have … I think I have one of two known photographs of him. 
(Ed note: there is a picture at
DT – The only one I have ever seen is the one in the book. The Memorial I guess he was…. 
DM - Yeah he was in there using Mrs. Lovett as a partner. Did you have the big book or the little one? 
DT – The little book, I have never seen the big book.
EM – It’s interesting, the big book.
DM – It’s more. It’s got more in it honey. The large book is meant for the use of people who are going to attempt to call a square dance. And it’s quite detailed. Now on the other hand there are a lot of dances that aren’t in there because they were too difficult. 
DT- So Benjamin Lovett came here then … he had … I guess at first had absolutely nothing to work with, he had to just start from ...
DM – Oh yeah. He …. well one of the first things he did was start teaching in the Dearborn schools.   Now Ford sent him out and … because when the Dearborn schools found this was available to them and them only, why they jumped right on the old bandwagon. 
DT – Sure.
DM – And Ben did quite a bit of teaching on his own then. He organized an early American orchestra and that’s why I say he had to. He had to get busy and research both the music and the calls. 
DT – That’s an issue. Your wife might remember … I didn’t bring the things I went through with her, first I flew over here, and secondly I didn’t want to clutter up your home but you might remember I said to her … the name of a fellow whose name escapes me now he had several of the Ford, ex Ford executives who used to attend these dances and if you read the accounts you would have to really go through it to find anything about Benjamin Lovett.  But when you did there were several conflicting accounts. In which one would think he was just absolutely a great dance master. One man in that account, I remember I mentioned to you in the following and you said it wasn’t true, he said that Benjamin Lovett maybe had really tricked Mr. Ford. He really didn’t know very much at all about dancing when he was out in Massachusetts and when he had gotten this job he had to research like crazy to come up with the things he was responsible for.
DM – Yeah, he had to research and come up with the type of dances that Henry would be interested in and that the old man could do himself. Ben was the dance master but he passed his exam in ballet. I passed mine not in … I mean they were eager enough, the committee to see what this early American dancing thing was all about, but I couldn’t take an examination on that, I had to take it on ballroom dancing. 
DT – That’s interesting. You say Mr. Ford … was there a problem with his capabilities? Was he a good dancer?
DM – No. It was a question of what he wanted to dance. 
EM – I think he was a good dancer.
DM – I don’t think he was a good dancer. (Dave laughs) I think he was … yes I know I didn’t dance with him.   (Dave laughs)
DT – If you had to dance then you would know ….
DM – I would call him a vigorous dancer. I wouldn’t call him a good one. 
DT – Very active. I mean very …
EM – I think for his age he was a good dancer.
DM – He bounced around. (Dave laughs)
DT –Benjamin Lovett then you said trained quite a few of the people as he did … you said you started with him when you were seven years old?
DM – Yeah.
DT – And Benjamin Lovett taught you to dance when you were seven?
DM – Yes. You see you have to understand this. He had a series of classes organized by that time that would meet over in the Engineering Lab.   The one that faced the ponds over there.
DT – Um hm. 
DM – OK. Depending on your age you’d go to different classes. Like the older kids … how old would you say would go at night?
EM – High school kids.
DM – Yeah. And other ages would go Saturday afternoon, Sunday afternoon, somewhere. When you were younger you went during the day. 
EM – Yeah, after school. Not Saturday. After school.
DT – Saturday’s are after?
EM – Saturday’s are after school.
DM – That’s right. And that was a big thing. It all started out with the executives children and was expanded. And the only reason I got in was because my dad was a Ford executive. I never would have gotten in. But your dad wasn’t an executive and you made it (talking to his wife) (laughs). 
EM – Of course, I was a neighbor of the Lovetts.  Of course. That’s how I first got started.
DT – Mr. Lovett lived here in Dearborn?
EM – No he lived over in the Ford homes section.
DM – Ford built that whole group of homes south of Michigan. 
EM – South of Michigan.   Between Military and Nowin, that whole community in there he built. There were about five or six different models.
DM – Most of the people worked in the Engineering Lab or The Rouge. 
DT – If you were seven when you started then … was Mr. Lovett at that time working alone or did he have this staff like he did…
DM – No he worked alone. Pretty much.
DT – Then it was later on that he developed this staff?
DM – Yeah. It kind of all just all fell in line. 
DT – It worked out … he was the head man at first and you were his assistant and then how many other would you say …
DM – Well there was a considerable period of time …
DT – I would imagine … (laughs)
EM – We both started in school naturally. As he grew up he started guiding in the Village and weekends he worked there and he brought him into the dancing part so that he could guide him with the dancing.
DM – Somebody said something to him I know.
DT – Were there a set number of lessons or a plateau that they would reach?
EM – Yeah. It was by age group.
DM – Well now wait a minute, you’re talking about when the dance teacher went out into the Detroit schools or into the country schools.
DT – Right.
DM - Well it was … certainly they had a program … I mean as far as manners were concerned and we would relieve the monotony by having to teach dancing between …. And then … We didn’t have to hit a certain plateau, not really. We expected performance, yes. And of course the big thing was it was so popular with kids.   I mean back then no matter where we went …
EM – Oh man.
DM – Detroit schools, big. And the … we’d say well, all right, were gonna have to go back and talk this over with Mr. Lovett in the village and you’re not performing up to par and we’ll just have to see whether we’ll be back next week. Sometimes we let them sit on their fannies for a week. We had the teacher take them into the … it was always in the gymnasium, and let them sit on their fannies for a week. 
DT – What about the adults? Was there a class or a training program for adults?
DM – Are you speaking now of the Ford executives? 
DT – I read about them, yeah, the Ford executives. Were they required to take … not required, I saw in there that Ford didn’t exactly require them but they understood that …
DM – Oh that’s true, really true.
DT - … that it’s something he wanted.
DM – Well for instance I’m a member of the Society of Automotive Engineers. He felt … you see everybody had more than one hat on … and I used to work over in the power house in the mansion up in the little room he had set aside for experimental engineering stuff. And this guy expected me to be half engineer and half lackey you know. So he arranged for my education and got me enrolled in the Society of Automotive Engineers … that had a certain amount of clout. Now a suggestion for me … oh man it was a command.
DT – Or demand.
DM – No two ways about it. He said “I think you ought to be an engineer so you can be of more use to me around here”. Bingo, that was it. I said “yes sir Mr. Ford, what do I do first”.
DT – Then the executives, did they learn just by going to the dances as opposed to going to a class? 
DM – No, no. The executives had to … I started to tell you about this man (dog barks in background)
DT – Ferguson .. Um hm.
DM – I had to take him in hand and teach him for weeks. He and Mrs. Ferguson and his two kids. They had Lovett hall all to themselves.
DT – That’s a distraction (talking about the dog barking).
EM – Be quiet down there.
DM – No they would have classes set up for them. Same as they did for the little kids.
EM – Would you like a cup of coffee?
DT – That would be very nice. I appreciate it.
EM – Do you take sugar and cream?
DT – Just black, nothing real fancy.
DM – See first they started out with some intimate friends over at the mansion. There was a ballroom there, not a very big one, because it wasn’t … was just the way you visualize it, it was intimate. And then they would say, you know (unintelligible) Then it got too big in no time at all. So then they moved it to the engineering lab and put up this big curtain. Curtained off big hunks of the engineering lab. And that’s where they had the children from Dearborn, and eventually from all over would come there. And as I say it was just a great big huge curtain affair and they had to bear it sitting outside or in an office down a little way from there and they had to listen to the Gavotte and the waltzes and the rest of it you see. (laughs) And a lot of them hanging around there, the kids.   A lot of them could see the handwriting on the wall. 
 DT – If you wanted to get anywhere with Henry Ford you better get involved with this ….
DM – That’s right. 
DT – You mentioned Al Hards before.  You know I used to have a square dance radio program here in Detroit on WJLB, and one of first things I did at that time was … the very first program, I had someone from the Henry Ford Museum who is not involved in the dancing at all, historian came out, and he gave us a little talk on it and to follow it up since I knew Al Hards, I had Al Hards come on, and Al Hards told me the story that’s why … I’m not changing the subject … he told me the story of this laboratory you told me about.  That’s where he met Mr. Ford. He was on the other side. 
DM – Yeah.
DT – I guess involved in that and he said that he happened to walk by and Henry Ford gave him a rather sharp look and said do you have a handkerchief. And Al said yes. He said would you give it to me, he gave it to him, and he wiped his nose … he had evidentially some ink or something on his nose from drawing or something … I don’t know what it was. And he said the end result of that was some twenty two years over at the … he was at the yacht club, was it?
EM – Yeah.
DT - and he said he had to take some training … he didn’t have to of course, but he said “you see the writing on the wall”. He began to work through the system and learn how to become a dance instructor. 
DM – You know in Lovett’s letter there it mentioned about being put on, what did he call it?
EM – (unintelligible)
DM – Payroll or something.
EM – Put on salary.
DM – But what he actually meant by that was insane. Was his personal payroll. When one …. I don’t believe Al was ever on it, but Lovett for instance was on his personnel payroll. But there were people all over the place. Worked around the village and in the Museum. That meant getting on his personal payroll which was both good and bad.
EM – (unintelligible)
DT – Yes, I agree with you.
DM – It didn’t pay well but is was very prestigious.
DT – That part I got. (laughs) I guess in that respect he was what would you say almost … one aspect or the other … like a pendulum because they say he would be extremely generous in certain areas and often very tight fisted in others and it didn’t seem to make any rhyme or reason why … it … just his whims.
EM – (unintelligible) (apparently looking at pictures in album)
DT – Then … I suppose the laboratory got too cumbersome and they built Benjamin Lovett hall?
DM - They called it the rec. … recreation building. (unintelligible)
EM – I dropped it once … it’s a little off. Mr. Ford went over to the museum and picked it out at the Museum. (Ed. Note: They are apparently looking at something.)
DT – Oh it’s one of the pieces ….
EM – Yeah, it’s an antique.
DT – I imagine it’s very valuable.
DM – Did you want to hear some different records?
DT – I sure would. That would be great.
DM – You name it now. All I can do is suggest.
DT – Yeah. Lets just … I’ll just finish a little bit here … Mr. Lovett … just so that I have my facts right because as I talk to both of you I see you have, in my opinion at least, you have the absolute word on it and I read little discrepancies from the little bit I read over there, but I did read through (unintelligible) that was fascinating, but evidentially the program that you worked on with Mr. Lovett was eventually … went into these schools, and went to colleges and Mr. Ford had instructions printed in the newspapers and started a radio program in Chicago.
DM – Right.
DT – And as I understand it this radio program … the people could see the instructions in the paper, is that right? And then try to work with them and if they listened to this radio program that they could do a fair amount of dancing. Is that correct?
DM – No.
DT – Ok, then I misinterpreted, so that’s why I wanted to ask you.
DM – No, actually the program was done … what do you call it … there in the studio, they were kind of sealed off.
DT – Yeah, I understand.
DM – Is that what ….
DT – No I meant, could the people at home practice?
DM – Oh, at home.
DT – Yeah, at home, could they practice from the instructions in the newspaper … could they practice what was being done on the radio?
DM – Well you know that would be darn hard.
DT – Yes I know. (they both laugh)
DM – Because what’s on the radio was not the kind of music you’d want to practice with. When it went out over the air, it went coast to coast. They’d play an hour’s program and that was for the east coast and then they’d have to wait an hour and play another program. They were all the same program over again … that’s for the west coast. 
DT – And they did tell me, but I didn’t know that that radio program originated in Chicago. 
DM – Yes it did. 
DT – And it was every week?
DM - Yep. For awhile.
DT – So Mr. Lovett would have an awful amount of traveling, wouldn’t he?
DM – Oh yeah. He was used to that. And, you know, Ford had another home in Fort Myers, Florida. Same street … just down the street from Edison. They were buddies. The mansion was Edison’s home away from home. He had a suit of rooms named after him. 
EM – Is that right?
DM – Oh yeah. 
EM – Have you been to the mansion at all?
DT – I never been to the mansion, no.  I’ve been only to the museum.
DM – I didn’t know what you had for lunch today in mind.
DT - I thought maybe I could take you out to lunch.
DM – Maybe we could just drop in to the mansion. 
DT – Oh that would be really …
DM – We could have lunch there.
DT – Oh I see.
DM – Sure we could have lunch there, and it’s not very expensive and it’s cafeteria style.
DT – That would be very nice.
EM – No, it’s not cafeteria style.
DM – Oh all right, you go up to get the helpings.
EM – They had a crowd there.
DT – I see.
EM – It’s called the pool because it’s made where they had their swimming pool. When the archives spilled over into the mansion after they died, then they filled in the pool.
DM – The archives died? You wish.
EM – After the Fords died.
DT – They filled in the swimming pool?
DM – Yeah. Foundry sand, four inches of concrete on top of that. Put their file cabinets in there. 
DT – Beautiful swimming pool.
DM – It ruined the beautiful …. I don’t think it’s Olympic size an over size pool anyway.
DT – In this case I may be finishing Benjamin Lovett.
DM – Then go.
DT – And then I’d like very much to hear this music.
One of the things you did for me on the telephone … you know to see if I could get more things out of it for you … the picture just seemed to die in the written word and I admitted that to you that Mr. … it started out saying in one account that I read over there … the man evidentially seemed very honest and said that he felt that Mr. Ford had turned senile.   And that Benjamin Lovett … if you want to call it his swan song … and for Ford it was a very sad one, he related that the last time he went to see Mr. Ford, Mr. Ford didn’t even know who he was. And that things became very sad for Mr. Lovett and that the ending to what was a great era, you know, a lot of pleasant thoughts in a day, ended sadly. It was kind of a traumatic experience for Mr. … and then after that I guess even worse dealing with the executives that took over.
DM – Yeah, I guess that’s one reason I turned my efforts in another direction. Because I could see that things were fast drawing to a close. Even before Mr. Ford died. It’s true that he was senile at times. But at other times we would go for days and weeks, no problems, just as sharp as a tack. When these attacks would come, and maybe they would only last a day or two, but that was enough. He had to be kept … you know, protected from the public. And since I worked on the first floor of the firehouse up there, which is where he kept all his mementos … I did little odd jobs for him, you know. He was very different at times. I don’t know how many times, it must have been three or four times anyway, right close together, you know, he said in a close period of time that he told me about his problems with the Jewish bankers in New York and how they had tried to steal his company from him. His version of it. 
EM – (unintelligible)
DT – Since you were so close to Mr. Lovett I guess at that time he was upset I suppose?
DM – Lovett? I just want to make this one point. I worked … Lovett was my immediate boss but Mr. Ford was my big boss. There was no in between or whatever. So, a good part of the time I was working on the estate (unintelligible) …. for Mr. Ford.    Lovett could have been a million miles away.   And other times I’d be with Lovett for weeks at a time and never see Mr. Ford. There I’m trying to explain the whole situation …
EM – Not only that Mr. Lovett was not a person to show his emotions that much. Or show his feeling or tell his feelings.
DT – You know I guess … I actually believe you were the ones that told me that his retirement was just one last dance and he announced that night and had his car packed and he just left and that was it. And nobody knew.
EM – He had a kind of party over at the Country Club.
DM – I called that party for him and Mrs. Ford was there. It was the last time she was out in public. She sat up in the balcony and watched the dancers. And Mr. Lovett did say a few words and in fact we had him call one set of dances as a farewell gesture. Most everybody knew what was going on. 
DT – (unintelligible)
EM – (unintelligible)
DM – I won’t tell you what he said to me. He left me with the whole shebang see, he told me that. And he made a few comments as to how I should behave myself and I would never ever have to want for anything if I did as I was told.
DT – Now when he … was that the end of it or was he provided for … a pension?
EM – I doubt that, but I don’t …
DM – No he didn’t … no he … he wasn’t like the servants over there. I mean he was above them. 
EM- I think they would feel that he had made so much money in the years that he worked there ….
DM - He did. 
DT - And then his pay raises were …
DM - Substantial.
DT – Substantial with the times.
DM – Um hm.
DT – Did he have an office there, he operated …
DM – Yes he did. In Lovett Hall. Yeah, he used to have a cute little way of calling some of us in. He would maybe see us somewhere around the building somewhere and he would say “come in my office” and we would go in there and we never knew what would happen. We could be done, we could be anything and I’ll never forget this one time … 
(Some strange music comes on the tape at this point)
DM – (talking to the dog probably) Terrible. I’m going to chastise you now.
DM - … and he proceeded to give us this series of rules on how to smoke. I … most of it went right in one ear and out the other … but I remember him trying to show us how to hold a cigarette between your fingers, and he said “you see”, he said “I always keep it up here, keep it up here, he said right now I keep it up here because it won’t go up here, it won’t get up your coat sleeve and that will smell for hours and hours.” You can’t put a mint up your coat sleeve.”
EM – Mr. Ford was death on smoking. No one dared smoke there when he was around. 
(They all talk at once unintelligible)
DM – I don’t know how I got away with it. (laughs)
DT – I’ve heard that after Benjamin Lovett told you of this that you were in charge of the program?
DM – Yeah, but there wasn’t any program. 
DT – (laughs) So it didn’t work out that (unintelligible)
EM – No we went into our own business then. Had our own business.
DM – I went on to the city of Dearborn. I was their first and last dance master. 
DT - For Dearborn.
DM – The city. Recreation department.
DT – Was it Mr. Lovett’s idea or Mr. Ford’s idea to start putting … to getting the record business going?
DM – I think that was kind of forced on Henry. I mean, it would have been done through Lovett, I mean … I’m sure he was the one that … that was a feather in his cap too. I mean people all over the country are buying up records, not settling for news papers.
DT – Mr. Lovett was he aggressive like that, or ambitious? I imagine he must be …
DM – Oh yes. 
DT- It was hard not to be when you had Henry Ford behind you. 
EM – And you know it was somebody else’s money you were working with.
DT – Sure. 
DM – He was the personification of a gentleman. Boy oh boy. 
EM – He was attractive.
DT – I heard that he was not …
EM – I was no more scared of him.
DT – I heard that he was not above correcting people no matter what their station was. 
DM – Oh that’s right. He felt that that was his duty and Mr. Ford had …
EM – That’s what he was hired for.
DM – Oh yes. That’s a business and he was a craftsman. And that’s true and he wouldn’t stand for any monkey business in walking across the ballroom … during intermission or anything.
EM – The only one that could do something out there was Mr. Ford.
DM – And he …
EM – And he deliberately would do just the opposite. 
DM – I remember one time he walked in and went straight across the ballroom, Mr. Ford never did that ordinarily. Because he knew that Lovett had just given a lecture on ballroom etiquette. And he sat down next to the piano player on the bench put his feet up on the grand piano, a real absolute no no. 
DT – He must have been trying for Benjamin Lovett.
EM – Yeah.
DM – Trying, he turned fourteen different colors. 
DT - Mr. Ford was the king and he was trying to put him in his place.
DM – Well sure, that too.
DT – What was the … not knowing myself, was it walking around the perimeter, is that the idea?
DM – Yeah.
DT – Where, to walk across was …
DM – Unh unh. 
DT – Yeah, pretty interesting. Well maybe we could … the records now … I understand you have the last copy of what has been left of … you told me something burned when they were going to repress them or something ….
DM – I don’t know if they ever did anything over at the village about that or not but that’s one thing I was left … all the masters … I think we’ll have to go in the other room …
DT – OK you have them over in there? 
DM – Well the record player is there.
DT – I’m going to turn this tape over anyhow.
(tape goes off and then on again)
(music is playing with comment it’s replayed later)
DM – Start that over again. I want us to say something. Maybe you would want to make a little comment before we start. I’ve found that generally speaking if we can stand it on this table in the middle of this table and get the bigger speakers. And turn it, is this your mic.?
DT – Right here.
DM – Right there, just like mine.
DT – Turn it up like that.
DM – Will it stand that way? No, No.
DT – How about that?
DM – That will pick it up real good I think. Now, this record along with some others I have were one of a kind made for Mr. Ford. I have the bill of sale. (unintelligible)
DM – They made one of each of these records and then they destroyed them … the masters. As you could see they were mentioning the various Stradivarius violins that were used in this. And those are over in the village in a case.
DT – Yeah, I’ve seen them. 
DM – OK, those are the instruments. Now did you want to say something (unintelligible).
DT – Yeah, the ….
EM – (unintelligible)
DT – These are the Stradivarius instruments that are at the Ford museum incased over there and they are as I have it now one of a kind. Was it Mr. Ford that wanted these destroyed … the masters destroyed after he had them … or were they just for his own private use?
DM – Yeah, that’s true.
(the record starts again and the commentator says)
C – A court tip played on famous Stradivarius instruments. First violin of 1716, known as the Cessole, played by George Jackson; the second violin of 1734, known as the Ames, played by Emil Herrmann; The viola of 1731, known as the Paganini, played by Herman Kolodkin; Cello of 1730 known as the Pawle played by Bernard R. David(sp?). They will now play an Old English Air “Drink To Me Only With Thine Eyes”.
 (music plays)
DM – That’s got to be one of the most expensive records in the world when you consider the Stradivarius and the fact that they weren’t (unintelligible) … the instruments were Stradivarius …
EM - (unintelligible)
DM – He had three of those made. Those were of course for home listening at the mansion.
DT – (laughs) (unintelligible)
DM – You noticed the color of the plastic there. Those were very very old Columbia records. 
DT – Yeah, they’re real old. 
DM - None of these were ever published. A “Medley of Reels” I’d like to play for you. That’s by Ed Baxter and he played dulcimer in Mr. Ford’s orchestra. There was a dulcimer which is an instrument played with a little hammer. And then … well I can tell you about the other instruments in the orchestra later. But I would like to have you hear this because it’s an old Irish instrument, it’s very difficult to play, as you can note.
DT – It’s a dulcimer?
EM – It’s a dulcimer.
DM – What?
EM – It’s dulcimer.
(Medley of Reels record plays with a little interference near the end)
DT – Boy that’s great. This is all in these little hammers?
EM – Yeah. 
DM – These were … Yeah, wooden hammers. Now that’s a dulcimer. Then there was another instrument that came years later that was an Hungarian origin.  It was twice as big as a kitchen table and that also used hammers but they were padded. And then it had seats on it that could be depressed and change the tone. Now this … you tell him, where am I …
EM – This is the Oriental Lancers. This is the orchestra later on once they made (unintelligible) public to buy the records from.
DT – I see.
EM - You want with or without calls?
DM – With calls.
DT – Would this be Benjamin Lovett calling?
EM – He called on some of them and some of his teachers call on some and Dick called on some. They are not all Lovett on them.
DT – Which one is this?
DM – Well we’ll have to wait and see.
DT – Is it advertised, the caller on the record?
DM – No.
(music plays they talk in background a little)
DT – In this case “forward again and address” is that like a bow? 
DM – Yes.
DT – They call it an address.
DM – Yeah, the ladies curtsey.
DT – The Chasse, is that sideways?
DM – Chasse is French for slide. Sideways.
EM – You’re the head couple, 2nd couple, 3rd couple and 4th  couple are all lined that way. Facing that way. They slide through each other
DM – Is this the end?
DT – The sides here.
EM – The gentlemen go one direction and the ladies the other direction. Keynote Schottische way? Uptown-Downtown?
DM – Naa.
DT – What did they mean when they say “march”?
EM – March.
DT – Not a promenade then?
DM – No.
EM – When they are in line like that, like I said head couple, 2nd, 3rd and 4th, and my actives (unintelligible) says All March, the ladies went that way, the gentlemen went that way and they came around and passed each other so they ended up with all the ladies on that side and the gentlemen on that side
DM – Facing each other?
EM – Facing each other. And then they went forward and back. 
DT – Almost like … what was it an old … Marching Thru Georgia thing … or something like that … on an old
EM – What do you want now?
(some noise on the tape as he checks the microphone)
DM – Now lets see one that’s … was very popular when I retired or whatever was the Gunning’s Quadrille with the Grand Square. Did you ever call it?
DT – The Grand Square but not the Gunning’s Quadrille.
DM – Not the Gunning’s?
DT - No. 
DM - Well the reason I asked you … you see that one too had something to do with the Fords. Vaughnley Gunning was a fellow that used to call out at Botsford’s Inn. That’s out at Grand River.
(Editors Note: Stephen Jennings bought the original Inn in 1841 and in 1860 it was bought by Milton Botsford and so became Botsford’s Inn. It was later purchased by Henry Ford in 1924 and the Fords operated it until 1951. By 2010 it was torn down to make way for a Cancer center.
Vaughnley Gunning played the bass viola and apparently called at Botsford’s Inn.
 There is a picture at:
It’s a great big place now. It was just a country tavern. So Gunning was over to the Village, the old man had him over there one time. Gunning didn’t know music actually, but he said that if Ford would have somebody take the music down it was alright with him if he wanted to use the dance too, the music and the dance. So this is the Gunning’s Quadrille and the Grand Square.
EM – This is our record. 
(Gunning’s Quadrille is played)
Head ladies and opposite gentlemen forward and swing in the center
Four ladies half grand chain, and quickly half promenade
Half grand chain again, half promenade
Heads to the center, grand square
Sides to the center, grand square
 
Head gentlemen and opposite ladies swing in the center
Four ladies half grand chain, and quickly half promenade
Half grand chain them again, half promenade
Heads to the center, grand square
Sides to the center, grand square
 
Side ladies and opposite gentlemen swing in the center
Four ladies half grand chain, and quickly half promenade
Half grand chain them again, half promenade
Heads to the center, grand square
Sides to the center, grand square
 
Side gentlemen and the opposite ladies swing in the center
Four ladies half grand chain and quickly half promenade
Half grand chain them again, half promenade
Heads to the center, grand square
Sides to the center, grand square
(Editors note: Glen Morningstar has provided information about this record. ALBUM TITLE:  EARLY AMERICAN DANCES Featuring DICK MOORE (The Ford Caller) and his KEYNOTE ORCHESTRA. This is a four-record set, a total of 8 sides.  The sides are KEYNOTE SCHOTTISCHE/UPTOWN-DOWNTOWN, SCHOTTISCHE MEDLEY/HOOK and a WHIRL, PRAIRIE QUEEN/YANKEE DOODLE, GUNNINGS/NELLIE BLYE. The record number for GUNNINGS QUADRILLE is 725-A.  Yes, they forgot the apostrophe in Gunnings. The records were produced by UNITED SOUND SYSTEMS, Detroit, Mich. USA.  The label shows the large text UNITED. Band members listed on the label:  George Bishop - Piano, Harry Uren - Trumpet, Earl Bolle - Accordion, Roy Austin - Guitar, Dick Moore - String Bass)
DT – That’s great. The orchestra you worked after that dance (unintelligible) so you started your own orchestra? 
DM - Yeah, after while. 
DT – Is there any of you calling?
DM – That was me.
DT – Oh, was that you? Oh, oh ok. I thought you said that was another fellow. 
EM – (unintelligible)
DT - Do you have any of them with Benjamin Lovett calling?
DM – Yeah. Honey?
EM – Yeah. If I can find one. (unintelligible)
DM – Well they are facing … a big circle around the room and the Fords are facing, contra dance. 
DT – How many records do you suppose you have all together of the Fords collection?
DM – About one hundred and fifty. 
DT – You don’t mean one hundred fifty different ones do you? How many did they record?
DM – (big sigh) I don’t know, about two hundred maybe.
DT – About two hundred.
DM – They just picked out certain ones … to sell over at the village. 
DT – I wonder if you’d mind telling me was Mr. Lovett and Mr. Ford … what their reactions were to the records? Was Lovett pleased with them and thought it was a good thing, and was Ford pleased?
DM – It’s hard to explain that because these records stretched over a period of many years. We’ve got them on the old Edison records, and they’re thick records, no lead in rows or ….
DM - The Fords played around with these things ….
EM – That Plain Quadrille wasn’t that Lovett?
DM – Plain Quadrille, I don’t think so but we can try it.
(clock chimes for a second time in the background)
EM – (unintelligible)
DM – Now this Plain Quadrille, this is the kind ….
(tape suddenly stops)

 

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Written By: Bob Brundage
Date Posted: 8/14/2007
Number of Views: 1384

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