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Johnny Wedge June 20, 2005

Bob Brundage – Well Hi again. This is Bob Brundage and today is June the 20th, 2005. Today we’re talking with a gentleman up in Dracut, Massachusetts by the name of Johnny Wedge. Johnny’s had a long and fruitful experience with square dancing and we’re anxious to find out a bit more about his life experiences in square dancing. So, Johnny why don’t you start – tell me a little bit about where you were born and brought up and a little bit about life before square dancing.

 

Johnny Wedge – OK Bob. I was born and raised right here in Massachusetts in a little town called Chelsea which borders Boston on the north. Stayed there right up through high school at which time I went into the Air Force. Stayed in the Air Force for a little bit better than eight years – eight years and three months in the active Air Force.

 

BB – Oh, did you really? What were those years Johnny?

 

JW – I went into the Air Force in June of 1957 and got my honorable discharge in August of 1965.

 

BB – OK. So, what was your function in the Air Force?

 

JW – Administration. Air Force administration.

 

BB – OK, Good. So you say you went to local schools there?

 

JW – Yep.  I went to - mostly all local parochial schools, Roman Catholic schools – about eight years in Chelsea and then 4 years in the city of Lynn, Massachusetts – a high school – parochial high school.

 

BB – OK. So that’s all eastern Massachusetts?

 

JW – Yep.

 

BB – Yeah. So, tell us a little bit – where did you first get exposed to square dancing?

 

JW – In the Air Force.

 

BB – Did you really?

 

JW – In San Antonio, Texas. I’ll tell you this little story. I worked in an office – let’s see, it was probably about 1958 or the beginning of 1959. There was a sargeant there – his name was Sergeant Freeman Sattlemier. Freeman was a square dance caller and he had talked to me about joining a square dance class. He said he had a single girl there and she really needed a partner but being a young, nineteen or twenty year old Air Force guy I looked at him like he was poison. Square dancing, that’s for squares. There’s no way I’m going to go square dancing. A week later, I think it was I was all the way back to the base after being out somewhere – probably drinking some beer someplace and I got a blowout. I didn’t have a flat tire - I didn’t have a spare, excuse me and who happened to come along but Freeman Sattlemier. He saw me and he stopped and he –

 

BB – I’m sorry. Who was that again?

 

JW – Freeman Sattlemier, the square dance caller.

 

BB – Oh, yeah. OK.

 

JW – He saw me and stopped and he happened to have a spare tire that was the same size wheel as my tires and he loaned it to me. He helped me jack it up and change it and then he said – you know, I told him I appreciated it and I’d like to pay him back and he said, “Well you can. I’d like you to come to that square dance class – just for the first one or two, Johnny.” He said, “Because I need a partner for this woman and after that we won’t need you anymore.” Well, certainly I could pay him back that favor so I did it and after the second week I kind of liked it. I went to Freeman and I said, “Freeman, I like it and I want to keep coming.” And he said, “Oh no, no, no. You can’t come. We don’t have room for you now. You’ve done your two weeks.” Then after he saw the disappointed look on my face he said, “I’m just kidding with you. Come on down.”  Well that’s how I began. That was in San Antonio, Texas and as I say – I think – let’s see – I went into the Air Force in ‘57. I went to San Antonio right after Christmas of ’58 so it was probably in August or September of 1958.

 

BB – So, did you dance with any other callers around Texas?

 

JW – Oh yeah. We used to bring in Johnny LeClair, C. O. Guest, Marshall Flippo – we had Ed Gilmore there a couple of times. Jon Jones I remember calling for us.

 

BB – Well, of course he lives in Texas.

 

JW – Yep. My club caller and original teacher was Freemen Sattlemier. As far as I know he’s still alive. When the convention was in San Antonio – or the CALLERLAB convention - I talked to a couple of fellows who knew him. He’s retired. No longer active as a square dance caller but he still lived in San Antonio.

 

BB – Well good. That was quite an experience. Then when did you move back to Massachusetts?

 

JW – Well, I was transferred to an Air Force base in Lexington, Massachusetts in 1962. Actually, since it was so close to my home in Chelsea, Massachusetts I actually lived at home with my parents and commuted back and forth. Before that time – before I left Texas I went to caller’s school. A school run by Marshall Flippo and C. O. Guest.

 

BB – Oh yes. That was where?  

 

JW – You know, I can’t – I was in San Antonio, Texas but the school was held somewhere south of San Antonio – it may have been San Angelo, Texas. I’m really not positive where it was but it was definitely in Texas. It was near the City of San Antonio. It was a week long school. It was held in a resort of some sort where you had to book for the whole week. We enjoyed that. Then, I didn’t do any major amount of calling in Texas – I did a guest singing call tip here and there but that was about it. Then I came here to Massachusetts in January or February of ’62 and I started a square dance class in my local hometown of Chelsea, Massachusetts. That was called the Friendly Folks of Chelsea, Massachusetts.

 

BB – Friendly Folks?

 

JW – Yeah.

 

BB – Well, that’s great. So, what developed out of that?

 

JW – I kept that club until 1964. In September of 1964 the Air Force told me they were transferring me back to Texas again – this time to Amarillo, Texas. I was at the time dating a woman whose company I very much enjoyed, Barbara, so I asked her to marry me and go to Texas with me. She did. We’ve been married forty-one years this year. So, we went to Amarillo and I joined a club there called the Dandy Dancers. Their club caller was Tex Hencerling or D. J. Hencerling. You may know the name. He’s passed away since but he was a well-known caller – very active in the Overseas Caller’s Association.

I didn’t ever become their club caller but I was there and he would have me call tips here and there. Then in 1965 it came time for my discharge and my wife and I came back to Massachusetts.

 

BB – You got right back into square dancing?

 

JW – Not immediately. The club that I had left, the Friendly Folks of Chelsea of course had gotten another caller and I didn’t want to push him out but I did go dancing with him – did call some tips. But it was actually 1969 when I formed a club in Billerica, Massachusetts - that’s where my wife and I were then living – called the Shuffling Shoes of Billerica. That became a very successful club. I kept that club until about 1990 I think. It folded somewhere around 1990.

 

BB – Well, Billerica. That’s the hometown of Tony Parkes.

 

JW – That’s right. Tony and Beth live in Billerica.

 

BB – Right. I interviewed him there as a matter of fact stayed overnight with him. Which brings up the point, did you ever get into that style of dancing at all – the contra dances, etc.?

 

JW – No. I’ve done some – a little bit but not as a caller. No, not at all. When I do fun nights – one night stands with non-square dance people I may do a Virginia Reel or something but other than that no I haven’t.

 

BB – Right. OK. Well, going back a little bit, who do you consider your mentors?

 

JW – Oh, Marshall Flippo and C. O. Guest – no doubt about it. Marshall Flippo especially. Marshall Flippo was my – and your brother Al and Earl Johnston.

 

BB – Did you ever go to their school?

 

JW – No, I didn’t. I never went to school again after my original school in – I went to every NECCA Clinic that was ever held. Once I got back up here in 1969 I consider every one of them a school because they’re – there’s another mentor I may say would probably be Ed Gilmore. When I was in Amarillo he called for our club and he stayed at the home of the caller there – Tex Hencerling.  Tex and his wife asked me to come to their house that night after the dance. Ed Gilmore was just an unbelievable man. We stayed up until 3:30 – 4:00 o’clock in the morning.

 

BB – And you drank coffee and you inhaled a lot of smoke.

 

JW. Well, I was one of them too. I was a smoker at the time. As I recall – I was a beer drinker – as I recall Ed Gilmore was Scotch. He and Tex Hencerling wrote a singing call to the tune, “See the US A in Your Chevrolet” and they worked on the figure. Then Tex said, “Let’s work on the opener and the break” and Ed Gilmore said, “Let’s let the Kid” – they called me the Kid – “Let’s let the Kid do it”. I did it. It was such a simple, simple Four Ladies Chain, Rollaway, Rollaway. Allemande Left, Weave the Ring – “Hey, that’s great. We’ll use that” He was a real gentleman.

 

BB – Great. Then Ed recorded it, did he?

 

JW - I don’t know. I don’t know if they ever – I never saw it. I never saw it come out.

 

BB – Maybe C. O. Guest did.

 

JW. – Maybe. I never saw it come out but he and Tex Hencerling worked on it together but he did tell me, “By the way, your name won’t be on the jacket.” Both laugh.

 

BB – Well. I noticed that you are a member of the Tri-State Caller’s Association.

 

JW. Yes. I joined the Tri-State probably around 1972. At the time my Billerica Club the Shuffling Shoes of Billerica was a Sunday club so I wasn’t taking a real active part in the Caller Associations because everything was done on Sunday. That changed around 1976 when I became very active with my associations.

 

BB – You know – can you tell me a little bit about the formation and the background of the Tri-State. I think Jim Mayo – wasn’t he instrumental in getting that organization started?

 

JW – Jim Mayo, Joe Casey, Tom Potts and there was one other name – I can’t remember who that were very instrumental in getting that association started. I’ve seen the history of it. I wish I had a copy of it here in front of me but I don’t. T here were four or five – oh, Tom Noonan was another name. That’s the other name I was trying to remember. I think those five were very, very active in creating that association. I believe Ed Ross Smith was also a charter member.

 

BB – Oh, yes. And the three states were what?

 

JW – Massachusetts, the east coast of New Hampshire and southern Maine.

 

BB – Oh yes. OK. I was trying to pinpoint the geographic area there. That’s what I thought it was.

 

JW – Actually, I shouldn’t have said Massachusetts I should say northeastern Massachusetts.

 

BB – North of Boston.

 

JW – Two or three other associations in Massachusetts.

 

BB – Well. Tri-State, that wasn’t North of Boston – isn’t there another caller’s –

 

JW. There is an association called North of Boston. North of Boston – I’m not sure of it’s origin but right now North of Boston is pretty much an association of traditional and contra callers.  Mil Dixon is kind of the secretary. For years Tony Parkes belonged to it, Ted Sannella belonged to it, Walter Lenk and a few other traditional callers. Now it’s down to maybe four members.

 

BB – Had you any affiliation with the New England Folk Festival?

 

JW – No, not at all. As a matter of fact it’s quite interesting; Jim and Joann Mayo just went this year to it and is telling us quite a bit about it – what it was like. A couple, I guess of some of the old time traditionals were there. Laufman was one of the names I think of – Laughlin?

 

BB – Dudley.

 

JW – Dudley. Dudley Laufman.

 

BB – I don’t know if you knew but I was on the Board of Directors of the New England Folk Festival Association back in the fifties.

 

JW – Oh, my goodness.

 

BB – That was when I lived in Massachusetts and worked at the University. So, you said you never went to any other caller’s schools but how about things like festivals.

 

JW – Well, I was privileged to be hired to do the Saudi Arabian National Jamboree. . . .

 

BB – There you go!

 

JW - . . .  in 1976. There had been a couple who had been in our square dance club in Billerica and he worked for some Engineering firm and he moved – he was transferred to Saudi Arabia to work for Aramco, the Arabic American Oil Company. Doug and Judy followed me and sometimes did tapes of my workshops and one time, in a letter to me they said, “How would you like to come here and call our jamboree?” I took it as a joke. I wrote back to them and I said, “Sure. Send me an airline ticket and I’m on my way.” One day I received this thing in the mail from Aramco, somewhere in Dallas, Texas. I had no idea what that was. I almost threw it away without opening it and I opened it up and it was a contract.

 

BB – I’ll be darned.

 

JW – Because it was Saudi Arabia, because you just don’t go there on vacation it stated that I was going there as a consultant. That’s all it said on the contract. But yeah, it was really nice. I went into Athens, Greece first. Met the square dance club there and called two or three nights in Athens. Then did seven days in Saudi Arabia –traveled all over the country. . .

 

BB – I’ll be darned.

 

JW -  . . . in an Aramco aircraft – a little 6 and 8 passenger aircraft. I called every single day I was there, sometimes two or three times in the same day. Then when I came back I landed in Germany for one night at Frankfort, Germany – at the time -  I said I got out of the Air Force in ’65 – I failed to mention that – in 1974 when I went into the Air National Guard for twelve years – for six years, excuse me, six years. So I was in the Air National Guard at the time, had the ID and all, went into the Air Force base there. It turned out to be the night the club was dancing so I ended up getting there and calling a few tips there so it was a very enjoyable trip. I always joke when people ask me what my scope of travel is when calling and I always say, “Strictly the New England area and Saudi Arabia”.

 

BB – Ah, that’s great. That was really quite an experience.

 

JW – It was. You know, let me tell you what happened, it kind of just happened that they booked me and I know I was not their first choice but they had Lee Kopman booked and then suddenly someone realized that Lee Kopman is Jewish and you can’t have a Jewish caller go to Saudi Arabia. They said, “Oh, we have a big problem. Lee Kopman can’t come to Saudi Arabia” and this couple said, “Well, our club caller, he’s really good and we enjoy dancing with him – we’ll try him.” and that’s how I ended up getting it.

 

BB – Well that’s really great. No, I never realized that Johnny and I’m real happy for you.

 

JW – It was a wonderful experience.

 

BB – I’m sure.

 

JW – I still on occasion when we’re doing a dance somewhere around New England when someone will come up to me and say, “ Do you know me?” and I’ll say, “ No” “ I was in Saudi Arabia working for Aramco when you were there calling” and I go, “ Oh well, ash”.

 

BB – There you go. How about festivals around locally in Massachusetts?

 

JW – Well, the New England Square Dance Convention, I’ve been doing that since 1969 I haven’t missed one. I’ve called once at the Connecticut Festival, one time in Vermont at the Snowflake Ball I guess it’s called, something like that.

 

BB – Oh, the Falling Leaves?

 

JW – The Falling Leaves Festival, I called there once as a guest caller.

 

BB – Yeah, how about Nationals?

 

JW – I went to one National, Baltimore, Maryland – not the last Baltimore, the one before that. Don’t ask me the year, my God I could never remember – ’84 maybe.

 

BB – It’s probably around there, yeah.

 

JW – I went to that one and I enjoyed it. It really humbled me because at the New England Convention - I’m pretty well known through out New England – I’m not bragging – but e few at least know my name. At the New England Convention I’ll walk into a hall I may hear a voice – someone will say, “Oh, there goes Johnny Wedge” or “Hi Johnny”. I went to Baltimore, Maryland and there wasn’t a soul in the world that ever heard of Johnny Wedge. Both laugh.

 

BB – Yeah, well, you’re like me. When I moved to Albuquerque, I got out here no one knew, never even heard of the Brundage family.

 

JW – Oh, that’s amazing. I thought all fifty states had heard of the Brundage family.

 

BB – But any way, how about – you mentioned CALLERLAB – you been a member there?

 

JW – Yeah, I joined CALLERLAB, I think in 1982. I’ve been to, I believe ten conventions – never held office – I’ve been on committees – never been Chairman or Vice-Chairman of any committee but I like to keep active – keep my hand in it. I consider myself a personal friend of the past Executive Secretary, John Kaltenthaller. I met with John many times – went to many dinner with him and he went with us so I do enjoy John and Freddy’s company.

 

BB – Have you done any square dance weekends?

 

JW – Yeah, I did a weekend at East Hill Farm – I’m sure you’ll remember East Hill Farm in Troy, New Hampshire. I started it in 1970 and just did my last year in 2004 so It was thirty-four years that I ran it.

 

BB – Well, that’s great. Who was on your staff there?

 

JW – I’ve had different callers. It started with – do you remember Charlie Tilley?

 

BB – No. coughs – I’m sorry, no.

 

JW – An old New England caller from Lynn, Massachusetts. Then after him there was the late John Chadwick and then I had Dick Steele for a few years and then Paul King was the last caller with me. The cuer was Frank and Barbara Strong from Lynnfield, Mass. 

 

BB – From Winfield did you say?

 

JW – Lynnfield.

 

BB – Lynnfield, yeah. OK. Well, you certainly had a lot of experience calling. What did you find appealing about calling. What turned you on about calling?

 

JW – The very first thing that turned me on was when my class teacher would tell us to do these various moves and would suddenly would say, “There’s your corner” and, by God, there was my corner. That fascinated me. I wanted to know how he did that and he said, “Well, you have to go to square dance caller’s school if you want to learn that”. So, really, it was - I didn’t want to go become a caller. I seriously had no intention of becoming a square dance caller. I just wanted to know more of the mechanics of it. I wanted to know how they did that. How do they just – all this stuff and then suddenly say, “There’s the corner” and there was the corner. So, I went to caller’s school to learn – I never did learn. I still don’t know today how they do it – both laugh.

 

BB – You are not a sight caller I take it.

 

JW – I am. I’m a 100 percent sight caller. I have a lot of modules and equivalents and what not but my calling is 99 percent sight calling.

 

BB – OK. Well, do you consider yourself a singing caller?

 

JW - I did. My voice has been affected over the past four or five years but I think I had a very good voice – a very good singing voice. I never did do any recordings – never did do a recording. I was tempted to a couple of times but ….

 

BB – Well, that was another question I had for you.

 

JW – I was complimented – one of the compliments I receive a lot at the end of the dance – and I’ve discussed it with Jim Mayo – and I say, “You know what I think it’s a great compliment….” I very seldom hear, “Fascinating choreography” and that kind of thing but I hear, “Great music. I love the music” because I love music. I play the piano, I play guitar and I do love music and I like to choose music that is really danceable. I do get that compliment a lot, “I love the music”.

 

BB – Well, are you in favor of the trend today – at least out here in Albuquerque – that people are trying to go for Rock and Roll.

 

JW – Alternate patter I think we call it here. Am I in favor of it? I’m in favor of it for the people who are doing it and doing a good job with it – it’s not for me. I like the traditional. Some of my singing calls are Rock and Roll or they have a Rock and Roll beat to them.

 

BB – Well, I’m thinking of the patter calls.

 

JW – The patter, right. Yeah, We just had a session at Tri State Callers Association on alternate square dance music and its full data. Ted Lizzote and I think a couple of the younger guys are using – and they did a good job of it but it’s not for me.

 

BB – Yeah, it would not be for me either I’ll tell you Johnny. But we’re talking a couple of old timers here.

 

JW – As you know Bob, one of the big problems of square dancing today is that all of our square dancers are old timers. Maybe we need this alternate music to try to draw the young crowds. I don’t know. If it will do it and it will draw them then I say, “Do anything’. You know, roll your pants up to your knees – anything if will draw a younger crowd.

 

BB – Right. Well, one of the things I wanted to talk to you about – I know you’ve been active in the Co-op Committee so tell us a little bit about your experience there.

 

JW – I think I became active in Co-op probably around 1986, ’87 as a delegate from NECCA to Co-op. Last year I was appointed by the NECCA Chairman as the Chairman of Co-op. So I am currently the Chairman of Co-op as I am in my second

year now as Chairman of Co-op. Generally, the Chairman of Co-op stays until the person is ready to quit or something is drastically wrong and is thrown out. I know Joe Casey was Chairman of Co-op, oh my gosh I guess fifteen or twenty years.

 

BB - I think we should mention that Co-op is a committee that is composed of the New England Council of Caller’s Associations, the Round Dance Callers, Cuers Association and the dancers association, NECCA…

 

JW – NECCA, NECORDA and EDSARDA was the three organizations – callers, cuers and dancers.

 

BB – Well, as chairman what are your ambitions or will you just carry on what you’ve been doing?

 

JW – Pretty much that but what I would love to see is – and we’re trying to go that way – is more and more leaning toward publicity, leaning toward getting the word out that square dancing exists – retention, recruitment and then not only recruitment but retention. It’s an ongoing thing.

 

BB – Are you working with this group called ARTS?

 

JW – Boy, I’m very closely associated with them. I talk on occasion with some of the people there.

 

BB – Jim Maczko?

 

JW – Well, I’m thinking of a caller – oh my goodness, throughout it all I can’t remember his name now – he was one of the callers on the original committee – in fact, he was chairman of CALLERLAB at the time. My goodness, that’s terrible. I can’t think of his name.

 

BB – Oh, Herb Egender?

 

JW – No, no. I don’t think Herb was ever Chairman of CALLERLAB, was he?

 

BB – No, he was – no you’re right…

 

JW – Mike Jacobs.

 

BB – Oh yes. OK

 

JW – He was on the original committee to from CALLERLAB. I talk with Mike on occasion. And Betsy Gotta was very much involved with ARTS also.

 

BB – Yes. Well, I’m just checking this tape. I’ve got a couple more questions I want to ask you. The tape is getting down near the end. Why don’t we take a breather for a second. Let me shut it off and turn the tape over and start again?

 

JW – Go right ahead.

 

BB – OK. Hold on.

 

                              END OF SIDE A –

 

BB – OK. We’ll turn the tape over right where it ended and start all over again. So, a couple more questions I wanted to ask you – I’ve been asking most of the other people I’ve interviewed, and you know I’ve interviewed a lot ….

 

JW – Yeah, I was with Joe Casey just a couple of days ago and he took out this big stack of papers and he said, “ Here’s my interview”. I didn’t read it but there it was.

 

BB – There you go. So, do you have any regrets? Have you – anything you wished you’d done differently in your experience?

 

JW – That’s a very interesting question. I’ve got to answer, “No” – no, not really. I’m very pleased with anything I’ve done. I’ve never pushed myself to go any further than a local New England caller. I have no desire to call nationally. I only went to one National Convention. No, I really have no regrets. I’m very, very pleased with everything I’ve done.

 

BB – Well, that’s great. That seems to be pretty much the reply I get. So, the only other thing that I asked was where do you think square dancing has been, where is it now and where do you think it may be going?

 

JW – Well, certainly somewhere between the early 50’s up to the late 60’s and 1970 it was in its heyday when we were drawing people like crazy. We were running six and seven square beginner’s classes and if our retention was only one-third of that we were still keeping two squares to add to our club membership. Now, if we’re lucky we’re graduating a class and if our retention is two-thirds we’re keeping one or two couples to add to our club membership. Of course, because of our club membership are all people over sixty-five years old we're losing them as we go so, where it was a great heyday, where it is today it is not healthy. I think – I see it as it needs a total, total revamping. We need to offer to our customers, to the public, a program that they don’t have to commit heavily to. I think today’s generation doesn’t want to commit. I don’t know if you had an opportunity to read a book called, ”Bowling Alone”.

 

BB – Yeah. I’ve read all of Jim Mayo’s ideas about that and you’re right, yes.

 

JW – Bowling Alone, the final theory is that bowling is as healthy as it’s ever been but there are no more bowling leagues or very little which means that people are bowling alone and not joining leagues. It’s all the same as you say with all organizations – Moose. Elks, K of C, Masons. So, I think we have to offer a program that says you can come down, have a lot of fun and if you can’t make it next week don’t worry about it. Maybe twenty, twenty-five basics – it may be a total revamping but that’s a hard thing to do with today’s current square dancers because they spent all that time getting to where they are and they don’t want to regress back to that. I can understand that so it has to be a totally separate program or it has to just totally die and get restarted again.

 

BB – Right. Well, do you think that the club program as we know it today will eventually just disappear?

 

JW – Yes. I think the club program is – here in our area – I was booked every Saturday night. Not 52 a year because by primary choice I cut myself back during the summer. But I can name within fifty miles of my home twenty clubs that have folded. So that’s twenty Saturday nights that went away. Now you take the other clubs that haven’t folded are all heading that way. Every one of them are. They’re drawing three, four squares. They’re dying at workshops and there aren’t a lot of beginner classes.

 

BB – Right. Well, is anybody making an attempt to do any kind of a twenty-five basic program?

 

JW – Not that I’ve seen in our area. We do have three – at least from what they tell us – really successful multi-cycle programs running. Chris Pinkham was running a multi-cycle program with a club in Danvers, Massachusetts and having fairly good success with it. I guess there’s one in Connecticut with Randy Page. I hear of one down on Cape Cod and I think there is one in New Hampshire or maybe in Maine. But still, that’s still the same program. That’s still the same CALLERLAB Mainstream, Plus program and I really believe that the success of square dancing is going to be a whole different thing than we know today.

 

BB – Right. Well, do you think it will be patterned after what the contra dancers are doing now? You know, I’m in contact with a lot of contra dance callers and programs up in the – especially in the New England area and they’re all very successful. It’s walk in, no costume, that type of thing.

 

JW – That’s right. That’s what I see – yes, it might be closely patterned after that. There might not be as much contra – still squares – I would like to see it still be squares but just some very simple stuff. People would be able to come in off the street and with just a little bit of coaching – five or ten minutes of coaching – they’ll be dancing. Wear anything you want. I’ve been fighting for relaxing the dress code. The New England convention still has a statement in there about proper attire. Although, it  doesn’t ever say what proper attire is.

 

BB – Right. Well, that’s usually the evening dances too. I think they’re not quite as restrictive during the day probably.

 

JW – Well, that’s true. You see, in most clubs in workshops and classes they’re not restrictive at all. People just come – as a matter of fact when I go to the local workshops for my club I don’t even wear square dance attire. I do believe though that square dance callers should be properly attired because they are paid – they are paid professionals and we are essentially entertainers and I’d hate to see us become entertainers like the current Rock and Roll entertainers – get up on the stage in shirts, sometimes not even a shirt – old dirty looking jeans. That I’m against. I think square dance callers should be properly attired – neckwear. I usually wear a jacket – a suit jacket. I don’t think that’s necessary but I always wear nice clothes.

 

BB – Yeah. I’m with you 100%. So, getting away from square dancing for a minute, do you have any other hobbies?

 

JW – Actually, no. Square dancing was my hobby. I was very, very active with the Boy Scouts of America for many years. I was a Scoutmaster then I was on the District level. I was District Commissioner – did that in San Antonio – did that in Amarillo and back in my home in Chelsea. No, no other hobbies.

 

BB – You don’t play golf or fish?

 

JW – Well, I like to fish. I just don’t seem to have the time but now that I’m retired and we’re spending a lot of time up in York Beach, Maine – I do go fishing with Bob Silva. Bob Silva is an adamant fisher. He loves to go fishing. He goes fishing four or five days a week. I generally try to go one day.

 

BB – Laughs. And you like to play cards with Jim and Bob, right?

 

JW – We play a lot of cards.

 

BB – Now, you aren’t playing for money now are you?

 

JW – Is anyone listening? Both laugh. We play like a quarter a game or something like that.

 

BB – All right. So, you don’t plan to retire on your winnings then?

 

JW – Ah, that would be tough.

 

BB – Well, I know you’ve had a long, happy life with Barbara and we don’t want to get away from – she was an integral part of your activity over the years I’m sure.

 

JW – She certainly is. I start my calling before I met her but, as a matter of fact we always joke that she never officially graduated from a square dance class. She kind of got pulled through and now she’s an excellent dancer. We dance – the highest level we dance is Advanced 1 – A1.

 

BB – There you go. How about – do you round dance?

 

JW – Yes, we round dance quite a lot.

 

BB – Phase 4?

 

JW – That’s about it, yeah. Four is about as high as we go.

 

BB – OK. Well, that’s great. Well, I’m really glad you’re still active. How old are you now, Johnny?

 

JW – Twenty-six.

 

BB – Twenty-six. That’s …

 

JW – I’m fifty-five this year, Bob.

 

BB – There you go. OK. Well, this has been a lot of fun and unless you think of anything that you’d like to add – anything I’ve forgotten to ask you about?

 

JW – No, Bob. It has been my pleasure. I’m honored that you called and asked me to be one of your interviewees.

 

BB – Well, I know you’ve made a big contribution to the activity in the New England area and, as you probably know I’ve been concentrating my efforts with this little project in trying to get the history of people who have made a significant contribution in the New England area and to the Foundation. Which reminds me – you’re probably very active with them too, aren’t you?

 

JW – Actually no, I’m a member. I go to the annual meetings. I have been on a couple of work …

 

BB – I was going to say, I know you’ve done a little volunteering.

 

JW – I’ve done a couple of work sessions. I probably could be more active than I am. I’m very active in my local church.  

 

BB – There you go. That’s great.

 

JW – I do a lot for my local church.

 

BB – Sure. Well Johnny, thank you very much. I appreciate your taking the time to talk with me this evening and when I get this transcribed I’ll send you a copy of it.

 

JW – Well Bob, that would be great.

 

BB – I’ll look forward – and if you think of anything else drop me an email. You’ve got my address. If you think of anything else you’d like to have included. That often happens with some of the people I interview so don’t hesitate to add anything – you say, “Oh gosh I was going to mention this or that” so just drop me a line.

 

JW – Will do Bob

 

BB – And if I have any questions about spelling, etc. I’ll drop you a line.

 

JW – OK

 

BB – OK. Thank you John.

 

JW – Take care of yourself and it was nice talking with you.

 

BB – Right. Say hello to Barbara.

 

JW – Will do Bob.

 

BB – Right. Bye, bye.

 

JW – Bye, bye.

 

 

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Written By: Bob Brundage
Date Posted: 1/18/2007
Number of Views: 1488

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