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Kip Garvey February 23, 2005

 

Bob Brundage – Well, hi again. This is Bob Brundage and today is February the 23rd, 2005 and today we have the pleasure of talking with Kip Garvey out in California so …..

 

Kip Garvey – They used to say, “That young caller”.

 

BB – Yeah, right. So, I’m anxious to hear all about Kip’s involvement in square dancing over the years so Kip why don’t you tell us where you were born and brought up and we’ll take it from there.

 

KG – I was born in Lawrence, Massachusetts. Raised in North Andover. Born in 1947 so I guess I’m a war baby, an official war baby – of the big one. I was born in Lawrence and I went to Central Catholic School in Lawrence, high school. Lived in North Andover as I said and that where my first exposure to square dancing occurred – in the Andover, North Andover region with my parents learning to dance with the Rocketeers I believe was the name of the club out of – sponsored by Raytheon, Corporation out of Andover. At that time, my guess maybe 1960’s – about this time frame – actually closer to 1958. I started dancing with my sister.

 

BB – OK. In Andover you mean.

 

KG – In Andover – the Rocketereers – actually the club at that time was huge. The beginner class was filled – the Punchard High School Auditorium and it was probably in the neighborhood of forty squares, maybe fifty squares in the beginning.

 

BB – Laughs – Yeah, that’s great. Did you come from a musical family or not?

 

KG – Well, in a very informal way. My dad had served in the Pacific front and was associated in some way with the USO shows and traveled through it. He was a drummer himself – kind of a jazz aficionado and he, again it was very informal. We didn’t have any formal training back in those days.

 

BB – So, you started out in other words going through classes with your sister, is that it?

 

KG – Yeah, my sister and I were partnered with each other. The class was an adult class and apparently we started a wave of activity with the young people. I guess the parents were beginning to bring the young people in. Paul Pratt was the teacher at that time he was the caller.

 

BB – OK. I was just going to ask you who that was.

 

KG – Yeah. He was exceptional. He was a very good teacher. Through no fault of Paul’s of course the club had decided to that they wanted to separate the teens and pre-teens from the adult class and at that time there was not much available by the way of teen organizations in that area. A young man by the name of Bob Bailey [1] was learning how to call over in Andover and he began to run classes in the basement of the home of his significant other. I forget her last name – her first name was Sandra. Bob was a teenager himself.  I would say probably in the neighborhood of 17 – 18 years old while we were 12 and 13. We basically learned to dance in Sandra’s basement with Bob Bailey. I mean that’s where we officially finished our classes and I had coerced a handful of my friends from school to come in and Sandra had a younger sister and she brought friends in. So we had about a square and a half, two squares that were learning how to dance while Bob was learning how to call.

 

BB – OK, so when did you get interested in calling?

 

KG – Well, right about the time that Bob Bailey got drafted. Let’s see, Bob had just stated I believe – the club was officially started as the Twilight Twirlers in Andover. It later grew to be a very large teenage club but Bob unfortunately got drafted or chose to enlist rather than get drafted – one or the other. We showed up one Sunday to dance at Sandra’s house and there was no caller. They were apologizing and trying to send us home and I said, “You know, let’s just go down and spin some records anyway – give it a try. So, one thing led to another and I picked up the microphone and tried to call Well, I had men boxing the Gnat with men and people unable to do the calls – both laugh – it was a mess. I was derided by my friends which was about all I needed to catapult me into a frame of mind saying, “Well, there’s no magic to this stuff. I’m going to learn how to do it”.

 

BB – You took up the challenge. Right. Well, that’s really great. So, over the years who would you say were some of your mentors?

 

KG – Oh, there were quite a few. Of course, Paul Pratt – I immediately turned to Paul and asked him if he would give me some training. He was very polite, very business-like and charged me six dollars a session which I had to come up with. At that time I wasn’t even driving. I had to hook a ride over to Lowell and Paul would run me through a few training sessions of calling. He was probably the first teacher that I had. He had a fairly well organized training curriculum that he had put together himself. Jim Mayo at the time was calling and a lot of the familiar names in New England – Charlie Baldwin of course was running the New England Square Dance Caller magazine. Let’s see, Dick Steele was a very prominent caller in the area.

 

Of course, this was all in the framework of – let me put this in lower case letters so we understand that not everybody agrees with the definition but this was in the framework of what we called Modern Western Square Dancing. I didn’t have much experience in square dancing that existed prior to Modern Western Square Dancing. All of my training and upbringing in the activity was centered around the very fast-learning pace and the rapidly-changing environment of calls and figures and terminology. Let’s see, I think the very first caller’s school, formal caller’s school I attended was the East Hill Farm with Earl Johnston and Dick Jones – Dick and Ardie Jones – and another caller that you may or may not be familiar with – his name is Al Brundage.

 

BB – Oh yeah, I think I remember him. Right. Both laugh.

 

KG – He’s your kid brother, right?

 

BB – Well, yes and no. No, he’s a little older than I am but that’s all right. Go ahead.

 

KG – I was trying to be facetious but evidently not successfully. At any rate that was a great exposure. At that time there wasn’t very many resources for learning how to call. There were hardly any. I had a just a voracious appetite for it. I just needed to know what everybody else I knew about calling. Any time I had a chance I would - I was a little bit more bold that most young people should be I think but, I would collar, no pun intended the nearest pro I could find and try to find out what it was all about - choreography and presentation. I remember an experience I had with Ed Gilmore where I was actually able to get him aside and talk to him one-on-one. That was an eye-opener because here is an individual who, self-admittedly supported the – is it OK for me to say the birth of Modern Western Square Dancing from a teaching aspect and had developed a lot of the curriculums for teaching square dancing in an organized modern western type of environment – meaning, of course that he was partially responsible for abstracting out the basic calls and putting them onto a list in a program and presenting them so that people could dance them in an extemporaneous fashion rather than complete memorized dance routines.

 

And yet, on a one-on-one even back in those days, Ed Gilmore had said to me that he is not sure that that was the way to go. I can still remember that comment and in the light of the way square dancing – a lot of us in square dancing anyway today I think that Ed Gilmore showed a perception that was not only true but very accurate. That was back in 1964-65.

 

BB – OK. Right.

 

KG – So, the exposure that I had at that time to a lot of my parents friends got me involved in teaching my first adult class which later developed into a club called the Scarlet Squares. Dot and Stan Hart were big promoters of the young Kip Garvey I guess you might say and helped me get that launched. Later on we moved – I picked up another club in Woburn. I’m struggling to remember the name of it actually but it was a huge club and we had beginner classes that were just jammed. We actually had to – we had a waiting list. People had to wait until the following season sometimes to get into the class. It was just so huge at the time Bob, it was incredible when I look back on it how popular it was. Besides the beginner classes we put everybody in the Tarky school in Woburn. We put everybody into that hall that we could. We even had to limit some of the club members from coming in and angeling because the classes were so big. We were running twenty, twenty-two squares in classes. That was wall-to-wall.

 

That was an interesting experience for a young caller because we had an eight-sided hall. There were eight sides to that hall. It was interesting trying to convince everybody that the heads were lined up with the heads because the men’s and lady’s rooms were on one wall. We said, “That’s where the heads are”. The whole development of square dancing at that time was extremely rapid with a lot of young callers getting involved.

 

BB – Do you remember who some of them were?

 

KG – Well, Buzz Chapman in Massachusetts who later became involved in politics out in Western Massachusetts ….

 

BB – Oh, did he? I didn’t know that.

 

KG – Yeah, he and I were about the same age and he was  started calling before I did and he had a great reputation as a caller.

 

BB – Yes. I remember Buzz.

 

KG – Later on, it turned out I think he went into banking and then into politics. Jack O’Leary was a caller at the time.

 

BB – He’s still busy today.

 

KG – He’s still busy today ….

 

BB – Got his own record company.

 

KG – Has his own record company. Back in those days there weren’t very many full-time callers. Earl Johnston was one that I recall. I remember going out to a – the whole club of teens went out to a – trying to remember the name of the town – I think it was Westwood[2],  Mass. out to a weekend. It was run by a gal by the name of Gloria Roth. Actually it was Gloria Rios at the time and what I remember about was not only the excellent dancing and training that we were getting but she ran it – she ran the whole camp like it was a military organization. She really did. There was a point where my father got caught swimming in the pool when it wasn’t pool time and she had heard about it or somehow got wind of it while she was calling. She put the microphone down in the middle of a tip and ran out and scolded my dad. Both laugh

 

BB – That’s Gloria.

 

KG – That’s Gloria and shoo’d him right out of the pool.

 

BB – That’s funny.

 

KG – We had a lot of local talent in New England at the time. Joe Prystupa and Joe Portelance. There were a lot of – Skip Smith – there

Were a lot of – New England just seemed to be just a warehouse of calling talent. There was a lot going on.

 

BB – Of course, that was about the time some of the barns started to open.

 

KG – Yeah. Kramer’s Hayloft. We called there. Johnson’s Barn. I remember doing a New Year’s Eve there.[3]

 

BB – Bay Path.

 

KG – Bay Path Barn with Chet and Dot and Stew Allen over in Allen’s Homestead. Eventually, after calling for several years, once I got out of college I started an organization called ‘ Partners In Progress’ and we focused in on – in those days it was called advanced workshops before Advanced was actually the name if a program. But that was not unique because almost all of the callers at the time who were calling regularly had their own closed workshops. There was a group called ‘Experimental Squares’[4]. John Hendron had a group called ‘Jets’. So, Kip Garvey had an open advanced workshop group called ‘Partners In Progress’. We had multiple locations. We called in Lynn. We had an operation in Lynn, at Allen’s Homestead, later on at Bay Path Barn at the same time. We had one in Andover. At that time the people were so hungry for new calls, new routines – they were just so well attended.

 

I managed to bump into – of course I got very friendly with John Hendron. He’s a unique individual and so talented. He had gotten together with Ken Anderson. Together they had formed a record company – J Bar K Records and I had my first recording opportunity on J Bar K Records. I recorded several tunes with them. Later, Mick Howard on Thunderbird Records gave me an opportunity to call and I recorded with Mick one of – probably one of the best records I ever recorded as far as sales go called ‘Skiek of Chicago’.

 

BB – What was that name again?

 

KG – The name of the tune was Sheik of Chicago.

 

BB – Oh, Sheik of Chicago. OK.

 

KG – The strange thing is that that piece of music had been sitting in Mick Howard’s cans for a couple of years and he just didn’t

have anybody on his team that he really wanted to record it – that wanted to do the recording and he sent it up my way and it ended up being just a great opportunity for me.

 

BB – OK. Well, going back a little bit Kip what about some of the festivals etc, that were going on around. Did you ever get involved in them?

 

KG -  Oh sure. Of course the New England Convention was the annual thing which was run – in a sense it was a microcosm of the National Convention the way it was run – in the different cities and the way it was bid on hosting and it would be held in a high school complex of some sort. They would use multiple facilities, buses would carry the people around from hall to hall and callers would volunteer their time to call. Probably – aside from that I started doing the festival circuit I believe one of the first ones I did was the Delaware Valley Convention which was a big festival at the time. Getting the invitation to do Delaware Valley was the result of the first traveling loop that I had set up. I would travel out through I guess it was Interstate 90 – out through Ohio, western Pennsylvania and into Ohio and swing back down into Pennsylvania and back through the Delaware Valley. I did that loop about twice a year. You know, I called at State College, a lot of the different towns and that’s where I bumped into Curly Custer and we had a great relationship with Curly over the years. He was just such a unique talent. I learned so much from Curly and he just made sure I learned it. Both laugh. I mean I learned a lot from Curly like at one particular festival out in Olean, New York, it was a big festival, afternoon and evening dance and it was very large. They had a split-the-pot thing that they did and, son of a gun if I didn’t win the afternoon pot. It was about $390 or something. Of course, Curly was working with me on the stage and right away he said, “ Of course, Kip’s going to donate this back to the club” and everybody yells, “Yeah, yeah” and I’m going, Oh my gosh”. So I said, “Of course I will” and, as luck would have it during the evening session the split-the-pot was over $500 and Curly held the ticket - Both laugh – so turn around is fair play.

 

BB – Oh, that’s funny.                                              

 

KG – Yeah, so the club walked off with their half and ours. Laughs. But it was great, great fun with Curly over the years.

 

BB – Do you talk to him anymore?

 

KG – I haven’t had a chance to talk to Curly in I bet 15 years.

 

BB – Oh, he’s living in Florida now.

 

KG - Oh, is he?

 

BB – I’ll send you his email address if you’d like.

 

KG – Oh great. That would be great. Is Ruthie still with him?

 

BB – Yes.

 

KG – Great, great. He was trying to sell his dad’s airplane design.

 

BB – Yeah, I know. I was just about to ask you about that if you had ever heard ….

 

KG - … the Channel Wing. I’m wanted to build a radio-controlled version of it ….

 

BB – Oh, did you?

 

KG - … but I couldn’t quite get the plans for it.

 

BB – Well, that was a unique design. It’s too bad the aeronautical  people turned him down for licensing you know.

 

KG – I know that all happened. He was the only other caller I knew that had – well, there was one other I knew that had a promotion shall we say going on the side and that was – oh, out of Texas – Black Mountain Records –

 

BB – Les Gotcher.

 

KG – Les Gotcher, yeah who, amazingly impressed me so much with his unique choreography. I was off the wall. Anybody that could call the whole night of nothing but hash and do one singing call and sell the singing call. I don’t think I’m being critical in a sense when I say, you know there was no melody. It was a singing call because I think it had a refrain that repeated seven times. Other than that it was the same thing as hash. He was an amazing talent. I really did appreciate working with him one last time at the Washington Spring Festival when they had him come back as a guest caller. That was another festival that I did that was very large – the Washington Spring Festival and the Washington Fall Cotillion that Decko Deck used to run. I did that festival for many years also.

 

You know Bob, I had the greatest – absolutely, unequivocally the greatest young life that any young man could ever have. I met the greatest people, I met some of the most sincerely talented people - people who were very giving – they taught me a lot. I’ll always be thankful for the exposure I had through those years. The festivals that I did were great. They were the reward that I think that I got for working as hard as I did in learning my trade and I did, I worked very hard. My dad gave me that ethos when I was very young. He did not want me to call. Finally, when he decided that I was going to do it he sat me down once and he said, “ You’re going to do this right or you’re not going to do it at all”. He set down one guideline for me. He said, “Two hours a day you’ll work at your calling” He said, “If it’s listening to a tape or it’s writing choreography or whether it’s actually calling”. That was the best advice I ever got because I did it and I think it really helped. My dad was a very quiet guy – not very free with the compliments and it wasn’t until I was 27 years old that he came to me after I was calling a dance and he said, “ Kip, that was fabulous. That was the best overall performance from 8:00 to 11:00 that I’ve ever heard”. That was the very first time that my dad came to me and complimented like that.

 

BB – That’s great. That’s great. Well, How about national conventions?

 

KG – I did a few. The national conventions were disappointing for me. I think a lot had to do with the fact of my age at the time. Philadelphia – let’s see I did Atlantic City – I did Philadelphia, I did Milwaukee, Louisville, Kentucky – oh god, Anaheim – yeah, I was at the Anaheim convention when it was wall-to-wall people – 44,000.

 

BB – No, I thought you would have been accepted out there because they had some nice young callers – Buzz Brown, used to yodel all the time.

 

KG – I was accepted. I don’t think that was the problem. I think it was personal more than anything else. I just really believe that, you know I would take a lot of shuffling around in programming.

 

BB – Well, it was a rat race, no doubt about it.

 

KG – Yeah, and I’m sure it happened to a lot of the callers. I simply had to look back and … at that time in my life, too I was trying to raise a young family and call and I wasn’t a full-time caller either. I was teaching school at the time so it was difficult for me to break free and get the time off.

 

BB – Which brings up the subject of that we should talk about – where you met your wife and when, etc.

 

KG – Well, I met my wife in college. We were actually in college together and we were married I guess about nine months after graduating. – so, in 1968 and we both taught school. We were both certified teachers and moved out to central Massachusetts. She taught in Sudbury, Mass. and I taught in – I went out the other way to Warren, Mass. in the regional school system. I taught school for seven and a half, eight years then I went into the insurance business with my cousin who was an independent insurance agent and had a - 

Cushing, Christman, Potter and Paine was the name of the company and they were in Framingham. I picked up my license and sold insurance – property and casualty insurance and some life insurance for about 4 years, 5 years. At the same time I picked up my real estate license and so I was kind of a jack-of-all-trades.

 

        BB – Well, you were never actually a full-time caller then.

 

KG – Yeah, I was but up until around 1975. In 1975 it was coming together for me to a point where I could actually pull the plug on the daytime job and go full time in calling. I’m not so sure that was the wisest decision I ever made but that was certainly what I did at the time.

 

BB – Were you ever involved in any square dance weekends?

 

KG – Oh sure. We had – I used to work with Curly Custer in Hagerstown – not in Hagerstown – what was the name of that place[5] – Curly gave me the first opportunity to do weekends with him which I’m sure it’s a river but I can’t remember the name of it.

 

BB – Well, he lived in Hagerstown.

 

KG – He lived in Hagerstown but this was west …

 

BB – Well, it doesn’t matter.

 

KG – The junction of the Shenandoah Region …. anyway, that was a great opportunity too , to be able to do that. At that time I was a pilot. I picked up my private pilot’s license and there was a dancer down there that used to fly up to Massachusetts in his Mooney[6] and we’d fly back again. We’d fly down, do the week and he’s fly me back. So, I was doing some flying around the area. Didn’t do too much but that’s how I ran into Bob Fisk who, of course was, at that time selling airplanes for Bonanza …

 

BB – Oh, I didn’t know that. I knew he was a pilot but I didn’t know he sold airplanes.

 

KG – Yeah, he did actually – I don’t know how official that was – whether he was full time at it or not but that was what he did. Beachcraft was the name of that company. He sold Beachcraft products. 

 

BB – So, you learn something new every day.

 

KG – Dick Jones was probably my number one mentor at the time. Dick took me under his wing and later on, at the Milwaukee convention one of the last ones that we all did together, we went out at the after party. There was Dick Jones, Kip Garvey, Wade Driver and Tony Oxendine – a very young Tony Oxendine and we were going to the after parties and calling and we had a ball. It was later that we found out that we were all students of dick Jones – the three of us. We had all mentored under him and Dick was great. He not only had a remarkable talent but he was also very free in giving of himself any time you needed help. We had a weekend in the Pocono Mountains that I was doing and up in the Catskill Mountains also. I was doing weekends with Curly – I mean with Dick and that was how I got to meet a lot of the callers that – like Bob Fisk and Marshall Flippo. That Flippo is something else.

 

BB- Yeah. He was just here in town. I picked him up at the airport – took him to the dance etc.

 

KG – Well, I told him one time I said, “Flippo, you’re going to be around forever so when we’re all gone would you turn out the lights?” He’s that amazing.

 

BB – There’s a good story about Flippo I may as well interject. I interviewed Herb Egender who was Assistant Executive Director of Callerlab at one time. When he was interviewed for the job John Kaltenthaler and Flippo – John said to him. “Herb, you don’t do much traveling do you? You don’t travel a lot” and Herb said, “ No, I kind of prefer the kind of dance where I don’t have to leave town the first thing the next morning.” Both laugh. Flippo went right over backwards In his chair.

 

KG – I remember I did a weekend with Flip in Cincinnati. We left Sunday morning to go to the airport and we happened to see – Flippo had left early. It was Easter weekend. He wanted to get back down to Texas – it was just before Thanksgiving,  that’s what it was – it was just before Thanksgiving. He wanted to make sure he got back to Texas for Thanksgiving so had left earlier Sunday morning. As we were leaving town we happened to notice that Flip’s car was on the side of the road – by the outside of the hall. As it ended up he had left for the dance – he got down to the street and the police had him arrested. He was spread eagle up against the car and they put him in the car and the police – and they took the cruiser and they took him to the police station. What had happened was that it was a case of mistaken identity.

 

BB – I’ll be darned. I didn’t know that.

 

KG – Anyway, when he told me the story I said, “Flip, how could anybody mistake you for anybody else. Both laugh.

 

BB – Right. Right. Well, so you’ve made several recordings?

 

KG – Yes, I met – I did ‘Sheik of Chicago’ which gave me a heavy boost as a young traveling caller and I ran into Wade Driver who, at that time had just started Rhythm Records at the Atlantic City Convention. He – at that time he had just released ‘You Ring My Bell’ which was a huge hit. I think that – every hall you walked into at Atlantic City that’s what the caller was calling. That was the singing call. So I met Wade there and he and I talked. We hit it off. So he invited me to join Rhythm Records. I remember the first time that I flew to Texas – flew to Houston to go to a recording session. The guys down there were pretty generous, Bob Baier, Pat Barbour and Wade had given me a couple of nights to call while I was there too. So I left New England as I usually do and at that time – you can imagine – that was the time of leisure suits and some pretty flagrant colors – color schemes – so, I get off the airplane in Houston, Texas in my mint green leisure suit with white patent leather shoes and these three guys like, disappear. Both laugh. It finally passed on because Pat said, “Hey, little brother we’re all going to take you to a jeans place where you can – both laugh. They outfitted me in my first pair of blue jeans with a cowboy hat and all that stuff.

 

I joined the Rhythm staff and, you know I honestly think we made history in a small way. The synergy between the four of us was a package that had never existed before in the Modern Western Square Dancing scene. We did music that was creative – Wade was super creative. We did several weekends, festivals a year and we did four- part harmony that was tight. It was new at the time. All of the things that we did in our Rhythm Records weekends were just innovative. The country western dancing thrust which later became a huge hit in California and you couldn’t go to as festival without it, even to this day. We basically started that at after party events in Texas and then later on in California. We had a wonderful experience in the years I was associated with Rhythm Records. In 1979 I moved from Massachusetts to California and started my calling operation out here in the San Francisco Bay area. It was quite a transition.

 

BB – Yeah. Gosh, I didn’t realize you’d moved out there that early. 

 

KG – Yeah. It was 1979. We’ve been out here quite a while now. In 1980 I started a festival out here called ‘Winter Festival’ and originally it was with Rhythm Records callers and, to this day, even this past January we had our 25th Winter Festival again. So, California has been very good to me. All of square dancing has been good to me. I owe my college education to square dancing. I owe most of my young adult life to square dancing. It was really a true mainstay of my upbringing. Let me tell you , you couldn’t do any worse or you couldn’t do any better I should say.

 

BB – Well you’ve probably described the experiences of many others have that you were in the right place at the right time.

 

KG – That’s true and square dancing itself had reached a peak. My involvement with Callerlab was a method that I used to try to give a little back. I had a long tenure with Callerlab from 1984 on I believe. No, I’m sorry, 1978 on with Callerlab and it was around 1984, 1986 that I ran into a fellow by the name of Bill Davis out here in California and Bill Peters. Bob VanAntwerp, who I dearly loved – I loved his syncopated rhythms as he called and such a relaxing delivery. I learned from him on tape and never got to meet the man until several years later. I was studying his tapes back in the late 60’s and early 70’s and never got to meet him until the early 80’s. Just an amazing – and a gentleman – oh, just a terrific person to know. VanAntwerp was a huge influence on my style. The move here to California and I got involved with Bill Davis and Bill Peters and we sat down and began to analyze what was going on in square dancing. From about 1986 on I was writing articles making strong editorial statements regarding how fragile the activity had become. With the influence of so many calls - the programs that Callerlab had espoused was the right way to go I feel and yet I think at the Mainstream part of the program that it was an overreaction – that they had frozen it too much. Modern square dancing needs change. It’s defined by change. It’s what makes it different from any square dancing that occurred before and yet there was a huge element within the square dance community that was adverse to any change whatsoever. The number of calls that people had to learn is just way too many in my opinion. I carried that opinion      through the 80’s – late 80’s and early 90’s. I worked in Callerlab to try to make the changes. It was just recently that I finally put down my gavel and retired from the battle because I felt like I had been ineffective – not unappreciated but ineffective in making some positive changes in trying to alert square dancing leadership that the activity was in danger.

 

I don’t claim to be clairvoyant or anything but to me it was very evident but it was such a hard sell. Callers through that whole era seemed to be singularly focused. They all wanted to be superstars. They all wanted to be the ones going to festivals. They all wanted to be the ones doing the privately-closed-held workshops. They all wanted to know all about choreography. They would run these week-long caller’s schools and if you weren’t talking about sight calling they weren’t listening to you. It was such a shame because they were missing so much of the true spirit and characterization and body of square dancing and focusing on these mechanics that, in the long run didn’t amount to anything.

 

It was like a carpenter. A carpenter has a skill set where he can work with wood and make things happen but he has to have the vision and if he doesn’t have the vision to see what’s going to work in what place then his skill set is useless. But, that’s the way it was and there was nobody to listen to a second opinion so to speak. I have to admit I was a technician. That was my focus. I’m an engineer today and I’m attracted to the technical aspects of choreography. I knew about them. I wrote about them. I created a lot of the phraseology and coined some of the phrases that we use today. I’ve written many calls but that was only one aspect of my calling. I feel like, I mean I taught beginner classes almost every year that I was a caller – for forty-two years I taught beginner classes. So it was difficult for me to convey that. Everybody wanted to know about the secret get-out – how to make the crowd go crazy but they didn’t want to learn about teaching and what makes things happen and how clubs are formed and how they're held together.

 

BB – And how to move to music.

 

KG – And how to move to the music. I mean it’s there. It’s music. There was a time when they were down-selling the music. They were actually saying, “You don’t need any rhythm to be a square dancer”. I was thinking to myself, “Yeah, you don’t need rocket fuel to go to the moon either but try to do it without it”. So, I think that square dancing had evolved beyond Kip Garvey. I think maybe all of us reach that point where we feel, not burned out but just ineffective where the reality of square dancing is different from the image that we have.

 

BB – Kip, we’re just about at the end of the tape and what I’d like to do is stop for a second and turn the tape over because there are a few more questions I’d like to ask. So, why don’t you just hold on and I’ll come back in a minute.

 

KG – OK, Bob

 

                                END OF SIDE A

 

BB – OK. We’re back on the air.

 

KG – You want to put the pause button on for a minute?

 

BB – OK. Tape clicks off momentarily. So, getting back to Kip again – I wanted to ask you Kip if you ever got involved with contra dancing at all?

 

KG – I danced it and you know, I really enjoyed it. It was and continues to be a highly popular form of square dancing – American square dancing. It’s never had the highlight or the spotlight on it as Modern Western Square Dancing has had and I think that’s a shame because it’s an amazingly – it offers in many regards more than what today’s Modern Western Square Dancing offers. Modern Western Square Dancing today is an intellectual activity where the appreciation of music and dancing aspect has been, not eliminated but let’s say placed on the back burner. Contra dancing on the other hand focuses on the music and the ability of music to bring people together and the sociability that goes with it. I danced in – can’t think of the name of the town – Lincoln, Mass. – Ted Saney?

 

BB – Sannella. Ted Sannella.

 

KG – Ted Sannella. I was able to walk in to Ted and, of course he didn’t know me from a hole in the wall and just danced a couple of nights. I spoke with Ted and really enjoyed it. I never had a chance to teach it. It was almost like I had a pretty full plate trying to teach Modern Western Square Dancing at the same time I was teaching rounds. So it was difficult to involve myself in the contra aspects.

 

BB – Right. How about round dancing?

 

KG – Yeah, round dancing – we did round dancing. I learned that when my parents were learning how to round dance and I always stayed up on it. Tom Potts, Tom and Barbara Potts from Massachusetts were people that influenced me in learning to cue rounds. Dot Allen from Allen’s Homestead used to cue rounds just like Barbara Smith did over at Baypath Barn. So I started cueing rounds when I had an operation going at Baypath Barn[7] twice a week. I would come in at 8:00 o’clock to do my workshop and I would call, cue, call, cue. call and cue until 10:30 – no beak – just straight through and it was fun. I enjoyed it.

 

BB – One of the questions I’ve been asking a lot of the callers – do you have any regrets? Is there anything you wish you’d ever done differently?

 

KG – How can anybody go through life without having a regret. I don’t have any regrets that nag me Bob. You know, it’s like when I think about my tenure in square dancing and square dance calling I don’t have regrets pop into my mind as the first thing I think of. What would I do differently? I’m not sure I would do differently. I think I would focus more on trying to be more effective in the leadership role and trying to effect some significant change in the direction that square dancing is going. I think that Callerlab was a bold effort in it’s time and it got so – Callerlab was an organization. By that I mean, the initial founders of Callerlab were so hung up on what the impact Callerlab would have to them and their careers that they were almost to the point of being paranoid about it. That paranoia hung over the organization for several generations after they had lent their leadership to it.

 

BB – Well, that’s interesting

 

KG – It’s that type of paranoia that has that organization, in my somewhat less than humble opinion perhaps to be frozen into inactivity. They were afraid to do anything. They were afraid to do anything that would cause any segments of the membership to react. They were looking for – and these are my terms only because I’m sure I’m the only one that views it this way – it was highly successful in striving for mediocrity. As a result, I think the square dance leadership function – now when I say, “they” you need to know that I’m speaking of myself because I spent five years on the Board of Directors. I was on the Executive Committee for two years and was even elected to the Vice-Chair of that organization. In my capacity I was unable to be effective. So, I’m being self-critical.

 

BB – Right. Well, so you keep thinking back to Ed Gilmore’s advice.

 

KG – Ed Gilmore. Both laugh. Ed Gilmore was conflicted. There’s no question in my mind about it. I think maybe the relationship that I had with the some of the leaders back in that time frame and I don’t claim to have run with them I was fortunate enough to be able to hear them and speak with them once in a while. They had an impact on me. They could see it moving. Curly Custer could see things moving way, way too fast. Here’s a guy who got more mileage out of a Horseshoe Turn than anybody I’d ever heard of in my life. I bet you if he’s calling today he’s still calling Horseshoe Turn – Partner Tag. Partner Trade – Horseshoe Turn – Partner Tag – Partner Trade – Horseshoe Turn. Yet, a guy who was so adamant about the some of the changes that were occurring and the number of calls that were coming in. Bob Osgood – fabulous leader. You know, for me to say anything praise worthy of Bob Osgood would lose my voice in the crowd because he was just such a tremendous leader. He brought sense and stability to the organization – to Callerlab when it was needed. He not only fathered it along, everybody treated him as a paternal figure but he also had vision and he could see. Talk about conflicted. I think that man was conflicted. I honestly believe that he sensed that square dancing might be going the wrong way and yet he had a lot of confidence in the ability of the leaders that surrounded him to help guide square dancing away from the precipice.

 

No, I don’t think that square dancing is headed for a precipice. I think it’s going to go through a metamorphosis. I think it has to shut down, go through a metamorphosis, go through some change – it needs to get back into the hands of the local caller and local citizenry and out of the hands of the national and international organizations. I think that once square dancing becomes what it originally was, and that is a rural, localized community folk activity that it will once again rise like a Phoenix. It will be something everybody be worthwhile doing.

 

BB – Well, do you think the Community Dance Program is the answer?

 

KG – I was involved when I was in Callerlab in trying to help and promote the Community Dance Program. I think that there’s a lot of merit to that – to that program. I think, if anything that program suffers from organizational stress and if they would just – again, I’m a firm believer in the type of – I don’t believe in Fascism and I think that that’s the state that square dancing is in right now. I think that people are putting more energy into trying to lead the organization and if they put some of that energy into developing it instead of just trying to force leadership on it that it would come around better. The Community Dance Program is an example of that. What they need to do is they need to get out and do it – not talk about it – not plan it – not try to write books about it. They need to do it.

 

        BB – Well, Kip I couldn’t end this conversation without talking about your hobby so – I know you’re – I might not have enough tape.

 

KG – We might not have enough tape.

 

BB – Well, just give me a thumbnail sketch.

 

KG – Well, I’ve been interested in aviation since I was a kid. As I said before, I’m a private pilot but I’m not current at the time so I release my energy by getting involved in competition aerobatics of a giant scale radio-controlled airplane. I build them from a set of plans and a box of wood. We build these airplanes that weigh in the neighborhood of 35 to 40 pounds. They’re approximately 130 inches in wingspan. We need a van to transport them around. They are actually flown with a small, twin-cylinder engine that weighs about eight pounds but generates sixteen pounds – I should say sixteen horsepower which an approximate horsepower that the Wright Brothers used when they first flew.

 

BB – Is that right?

 

KG – So, it’s an amazing technology with the digital radio equipment that we have today and a lot of the composites that we use we can build very powerful and very large airplanes that are very light. So, I travel around on weekends – about two weekends a month in competition and with other giant scale aerobatics pilots. We have a wonderful time

 

BB – There you go. Is that mostly in northern California?

 

KG – Well, it’s in the western region which includes northern California, southern California, Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, Utah…

 

BB – That’s interesting. Will these things do acrobatics?

 

KG – Oh yeah. That’s exactly what we do. We fly the same aerobatic patterns as the full scale aerobatic pilots fly but, of course it’s reduced down. We fly exactly the same type of figures, the loops, the cuban eights, the hammerheads, the stall turns, the humpty bumps and we fly a very strict pattern or sequence of patterns and we’re judged on it. We have a ranking and it’s just great fun.

 

BB – Yeah, Barrel rolls?

 

KG - Oh yeah. All kinds of rolls including rolling circles.

 

BB – Fractional rolls?

 

KG – Yep. Two-point rolls, four-point rolls, eight-point rolls …

 

BB – Is that right?

 

KG - … we do rolling circles – rolls in one direction followed by rolls in the opposite direction.

 

BB – Ah ha. I don’t think I ever did one except clockwise[8].

 

KG – Well yeah. The patterns that – we like to say that the patterns we fly are the same as are used in full-scale competition.

 

BB – That’s interesting. Snap rolls?

 

KG – Snap rolls, barrel rolls…

 

BB – Immelmans?    

 

KG – Immelmans, yeah – split …

 

BB – You can’t do outside loops can you?

 

KG – We sure can.

BB – Can you really?

 

KG – You name it.

 

BB – I’ll be darned. Huh. Well, that’s great.

 

KG – Yeah. We have a great time.

 

BB – Well, have you suffered any casualties?

 

KG – You don’t build and fly these airplanes without knowing

that one of two things will happen to them. You’ll either sell them or you’ll crash them. They just don’t last forever. Yeah, I’ve lost one giant scale airplane. I have a friend of mine who just in the last four weeks has lost three of them. It does happen. It just does happen. We build enough technology into these airplanes that it doesn’t happen very often.

 

BB – But you build these from scratch I take it.

 

KG – That’s right.

 

BB – Any such thing as a kit?

 

KG – Yeah, there are kits available. The builder kits are few and far between. There’s only two companies now that make builder kits for this size airplane. There are a number of companies that pre-build the airplanes over in Asia. They ship them back over here and you can buy them in of two completed stages. You can buy them in what we call bare bones and we have to cover them and put the finish on or you can but them in what we call ‘arf’ which stands for ‘almost ready to fly’ and it had the vinyl covering on it and all you have to do is put your engine and your radio equipment in – just assemble the airplane. It takes about four months to build one and it takes about two, maybe two and a half weeks to put an ‘arf’ together and fly it.

 

BB – I see. So, I was going to ask you if there were fabric covering, is that it?

 

KG – Yeah we use a vinyl covering called ‘Monokoat’ or ‘Ultrakoat’ and it’s a heat-sensitive plastic. It’s very sturdy. It comes in just a rainbow of colors. It’s not cheap and it stretches out over the airframe and you apply heat to it and it shrinks itself in. So we’re not building the airplanes like they used to build them.

 

BB – Did you know that Lee Helsel had a hobby of that same type?

 

KG – I didn’t know that Lee was involved in that. In fact, Lee and Bill Peters were the ones who gave me my oral exam for Caller/Coach but I had no idea at the time that Lee was involved in that.

 

BB – In fact Flippo told me this weekend that he lost a part of a couple of fingers working in his workshop and I assume it was on that.

 

KG – Well, these airplanes will do it.

 

BB – Yeah, that’s interesting. It’s so interesting to me – I didn’t know if you knew that I was a pilot myself.

 

KG – I didn’t know that Bob.

 

BB – Yeah, I was a P-47 pilot in W  W 2. I flew three missions out of England on D-Day.

 

KG – Wow. I made a P-47 once – a smaller one when – before I was involved in competition. It ‘s a favorite of the War Bird Modelers.

 

BB – Well, that’s great. Well, this has certainly been a very, very interesting conversation Kip and I appreciate your taking the time to call me and let me know you’re available. Anything else you think of before we sign off?

 

KG – No, not really except I’m currently not calling at the time. I’m working for HP but I’m not retired from calling, if you know what I mean. I will once again pick up the microphone and call some more.

 

BB – Do you do one night stands?

 

KG – I did, I have but have not recently. My involvement with HP for the past five years has precluded me from committing myself to anything in the evening. I work cross-divisionally and cross-functionally with a lot of our Asia HP employees which means I have to be available late evenings.

 

BB – Well, for the tape, HP stands for …

 

KG – Hewlett-Packard.

 

BB – Hewlett-Packard, right. OK, well, I wish you a lot of luck in the future Kip. I’ll send you a Curly’s address. Anybody else that you might want?

 

KG – Oh golly, I’d just love to ping Curly and see what he’s doing.

 

BB – Well, I’m sure he’d love to talk with you.

 

KG – If you happen to have Decko Deck’s lying around I’d like to speak …..

 

BB – Yeah, I wrote to him just the other day as a matter of fact  . In the Contralab Quarterly a comment came out and I sent him a – I’ll send you that along at the same time.

 

KG – Great.

 

BB – Alright. Well, thank you again very much, Kip and we’ll be talking with you.

 

KG – OK, thanks.

 

BB – Yep, lot’s of luck.

 

KG – Thanks. Bye, bye.

 

BB – Bye, bye.

 

                                END OF INTERVIEW



 

[2]  Westfield

[3]  Note added – I failed to mention Newton Pavillion in New Hampshire operated by Leo Finn; and in Massachusetts, Kramer’s Hayloft owned by Sammy Kramer, Square Acres run by Howard Hogue and Paul and Laura Marola’s Canoe Club, the Hayloft in Sturbridge, Mass.

[4] with Red Bates calling

[5] Harper’s Ferry

[6] He said Mooney but believes it was an Avion

[7] Actually this was at Allen’s Homestead

[8] Should be counter-clockwise

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Written By: Johnny Wedge
Date Posted: 1/19/2007
Number of Views: 3191

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