Bob Brundage - Hi again. This is Bob Brundage and today is May the 6th, 2008 and today we’re talking with a gentleman back in Ringgold, Georgia, Mr. Ed Juaire. Ed and his wife are editors of the New England Square Dance magazine - Square Dancer magazine (that should be Northeast Square Dancer) so we’re to find out a little bit about Ed and the magazine going back - way back - to the New England Caller. So Ed, when I first knew you, you were living in Rhode Island. Were you brought up around New England?
Ed Juaire - Yes Bob. I was born in Rhode Island, actually in Central Falls, lived in Pawtucket and Pat was born in Providence so we’re native New Englanders.
BB - OK. So, tell us a little about your life before square dancing.
EJ - Myself, I was in broadcasting. I was a broadcast engineer for many, many years until the company was sold and I got phased out like happens and that was about probably ten years ago now.
BB - Where was that Ed?
EJ - I was Vice-President of Corporate Engineering for a chain in New England (Knight Quality Group). We had stations in New England, actually also in St. Thomas down in the Virgin Islands and in Florida at one time. So, that kept me pretty busy and on the road quite a bit.
BB - Yeah. You’re a little bit weak Ed.
EJ - My basic hobby prior to square dancing was photography and model railroading.
BB - Yeah. I can hardly hear you so, if you can get a little closer to the phone or something.
EJ - All right, How’s this?
BB - Yeah, that’s better. OK. So, where did you first get introduced to square dancing?
EJ - Well, typical male…. good friend of ours had been in square dancing for several years. My wife had tried to get me to go and I kept refusing. I finally broke down one night and that was back around, I believe it was 1981, 1980, 1981 and the bug bit me and square danced after that all that we could.
BB - Well, do you remember who the caller was?
EJ - Yeah, Norm Phaneuf was the caller. He was out of Smithfield, Rhode Island.
BB - OK. So …..
EJ - Smokey Squares was our club that we belonged to for many years.
BB - Yes. All right. Well, let’s talk about the New England Square Dancer magazine. I noticed that ….
EJ - Actually it’s called the Northeast Square Dancer Magazine.
BB - Oh, Northeast. What am I thinking? I’m sorry.
EJ - Everybody makes that mistake. We thought many times of putting the name ‘New England’ ….
BB - Northeast, right.
EJ - I came up with the fact the New England Caller still had the old copyrights on so you never know.
BB - Well, it’s quite an ambitious endeavor because I know you have several contributors that contribute articles every month : Bob Howell, Jim Mayo, Ed Foote, Paul Moore, Ken Ritucci and I noticed last months issue had a nice article by Jim Mayo talking about the 50th Anniversary of the New England Square Dance - Square and Round Dance Convention which was interesting and the interesting thing to me was, in the article he mentioned how many callers who were on the program had been calling for over fifty years.
EJ - Oh yeah. It’s surprising. People really stick in with square dancing. Most of them really have the bug to stick with it, there’s no question, because I know there are some dancers who never became callers that were also at the 50th Convention.
BB - Yes, that’s true. So, tell us a little bit more about how you developed this program. Did you copy it pretty much from the old New England Caller?
EJ - Well we, just for the way of background, we got involved when we got into square dancing real fast because the convention was coming to Providence in 1985 and the people that got us involved, actually was the chairman, that got us into square dancing at the convention so we were made registration chairmen for the Providence convention. Prior to that, our first convention had been in Burlington, the 25th and fortunately we got the chance to see some great people calling then including Charlie Baldwin. Once we got through the convention in Providence in ‘86 we got finagled and arm twisted to get on the CO-OP Committee where we served for many, many years. I’m trying to get … oh, goodness gracious … talk about forgetting names for a moment…. That’s Conrad and Pauline Cote that got us involved with CO-OP. We would go to meetings and several meetings were, if you remember back then, was Ray Aubut - Ray and Carol owned the magazine and at one of our meetings, which was actually a guidelines meeting - the committee that we were involved with - they mentioned the fact that he was looking to sell the magazine. We always had a very deep interest because we took that magazine. We also took American Square Dance. So, Pat and I driving home, I talked about it. She looked at me as if I had three heads - what would I want to get involved with the magazine for - because of my other work. I said, “Well, it would give you something to do” which she didn’t particularly like too much at first. Both laugh. All in all, we went home, we thought about it, then we called Ray and said we’d be interested in talking to him. So we did that and we did pick up the magazine and actually, last April - this past April - should be April 7th - April 7th we started our 19th year with the magazine.
BB - Is that right?
EJ - Yep. So, of course, many things have changed in this amount of time and we did try, originally, to do our best to keep the magazine in a very comfortable fashion that people were accustomed to. And the magazine was done the old fashioned way. It was typed up, pasted up, touched up, sent to a printer. We’d get the magazine back and we’d get the labels cranked out and we’d get these put on the magazine and brought to the Post Office. I think the one advantage that we had was being involved in broadcasting. Where I was I had a pretty good background of computers so Ray and Carol did not have anything computerized so we moved to computerized as much as we could as early as we could.
BB - Right. Well, when was it you made the changeover from publishing printed copy to putting it out just exclusively online?
EJ - I think it was just about 2 1/2, 3 years ago.
BB - Oh, is it that long ?
EJ - Quite frankly, what had happened, if it hadn’t been for the job that I had, the magazine probably would have gone under because the magazine wasn’t paying for itself. It wasn’t paying for the staff. It wasn’t paying for the printing. It wasn’t paying for the postage. So, we made a decision at that point in time … to keep it going we’d have to go online. Obviously, what it would have cost to support itself (jumbled). That’s one of the problems today. It’s the same problem with all other publications in having more and more people looking for the finer things online so you have all the major newspapers and magazines suffering the same thing that we suffered. The unfortunate part of it is that that part of our subscriber base didn’t have computers. So, we knew we’d lose those people but, on the other side of the coin we picked up more people who didn’t subscribe. We still get an awful lot of people, somewhere around a thousand downloads of the magazine every month. It varies. Summertime it’s less and, I think that this past year we were up to, to about 1200 downloads.
BB - Is that right?
EJ - We could tell what was happening because we post the magazine just about the 19th of the month and you’ll see - we spike for those couple of days when the new issue is out of people getting copies of it. So, I’m happy with what’s going on. I’ll try to address something like the same problems that Ray suffered and Charlie suffered. A lot of people don’t think the magazine has a purpose and they don’t support it. As long as we can - are making a bit of an income with it - it’s paying for our internet - our service - because there are expenses - it’s paying for us for we need to keep up. We’ll keep it going until there is really no reason to keep it going.
BB - Yes. Well, I’d like to mention too that it’s more than just …. just the magazine itself because I know you publish the CO-OP Directory every year . Let’s see - let’s talk about the CO-OP.
EJ - That directory - all we do is we assemble all the information that EDSARDA, NECCA and NECORTA obtain. We keep a data base of the information here and usually in late December or early January I farm out the information to both NECCA and NECORTA …. NECCA and NECORTA …. EDSARDA handles all their own now that they saw fit to begin handling all that information. Then they return that information to us and we update the information in the machine and we assemble everything and put it back out on the internet. The next one would be due out in September - the beginning of September. It actually probably gets posted earlier than that.
BB - Yes. Well, it’s quite comprehensive because you put in all the members - all the callers that subscribe, etc. and the various members of the different organizations around New England.
EJ - Being online, one of the advantages we have when we have a change - somebody has address, telephone, email change - callers and cuers particularly, we can make that change very simply.
BB - Yeah, I can imagine.
ED - When you look at our web site you can always tell when a feature has been updated because we keep a date of the most recent update. So, it stays actually current all year long.
BB - Right. Well, for the sake of the tape we should also mention that NECCA stands for the New England Council of Caller’s Associations and NECORTA is the New England Council of Round Dance Teachers and CO-OP is made up of NECCA, NECORTA and anybody else?
EJ - Yes, EDSARDA which represents the dancers, and NECCA the callers, and NECORTA the cuers.
BB - Yes. The Eastern District ….
EJ - Square and Round Dance Association.
BB - Yeah, right. So, OK, we cleared that up. Now, also beside that I see you also have a caller/cuer contract that you can download from your site.
EJ - Yeah. We used to print those but again, the demand became so little it wasn’t worth our effort to print them. We would just never get our money back on it so we just made the form available and they could just copy it. As a matter of fact, we’re going to be changing that form very soon so we can just bring it up on their computer and type the information in and then just print it out so that will be another advantage that computerization allows us to do. We won’t actually have any hand writing that way.
BB - Right. Well, that’s actually a good service for everybody. I’m sure everybody appreciates your doing that.
EJ - We enjoy doing it. You’ll probably remember, for a while we also had the American Square Dance magazine. So, at one point we had an awful lot going. We had that magazine. I believe we held that for six years. We had tried to get it from Stan but he had sold it - he was in the process of selling it to a fellow out in California. We missed by probably two weeks talking to him on that. Eventually, the fellow in California wanted out of it so we had it around for about six years. But, the same thing happened with that. It just wasn’t supporting itself. Pat and I felt we were putting in so much money just to keep things going we eventually we just had to let American Square Dance go and that was picked up by a fellow who actually owns a printing company so it saves him a certain amount of money in publishing that. But we get to hang on to the Northeast Square Dancer and we’ll hang on to it as long as we can.
BB - Good. Well, OK. Why don’t we talk the old New England Caller magazine? Do you remember when that first started publishing?
EJ - No. We weren’t in the business back then but, believe it or not, we have copies that go back to the original August, 1951 inception. I think from day one up until now there’s probably only about 12 issues that we don’t have.
BB - Is that right? Well, that’s great.
EJ - Yeah. We still have them. We have them all on the shelves here. People can look back or something we can go back and take a look. Of course, it’s easier now a little bit, being online for the last ten years we can search our computer for information which makes it a lot easier. It’s really interesting going back and looking at all the old - old magazines from time to time.
BB - I’m sure. I’d like to go back and browse a couple of them myself.
EJ - The New England Square Dance Foundation does have - I do believe they still do have a full set of the mag ….
BB - A full set. That’s great. I was going to ask you that. Of course, the original editor was Charlie and Bertha Baldwin and I noticed that the Baldwin Apple Squares are still in operation. He was their original caller, wasn’t he?
EJ - I believe so.
(Johnny Wedge’s note: Charlie Baldwin was not the original caller for the Baldwin Apple Squares. The Baldwin Apple Squares were named after the Baldwin Apple. Charlie never called for the Baldwin Apples Square Dance Club. They’re original caller was Bob Burwell.)
BB - And it was also Charlie that organized the Square Dance Foundation of New England so we want to be sure to make note of that. Did you ever know Charlie?
EJ - No. Not personally…. did not know him…. had the opportunity to dance to him a couple of times.
BB - Did you really? Well, I’m a little bit at a loss for words because this is a little bit different interview than I usually make with square dance callers or round dance cuers. So, anything that you can think of that you’d like to tell us ?
EJ - No, I think we - there was a sort of Readers Digest version that we covered a lot of territory. It’s been extremely rewarding again to do this because you obviously get to speak to and talk with a lot of people. The problem that we have today, beside the audience dwindling, the suppliers are dwindling. I mentioned about other people writing for us well, Bob Howell just formally retired about three months ago. Paul Moore did the same thing. Bob Howell has been writing since 1964. He was doing multiple articles - multiple reviews for American Square Dance. He came with us after we had met him a number of years back. I forget now - I had an issue on that when Bob did retire. So, we’ve lost Bob and there’s nobody out there who wants to pick up and do this kind of work. Paul Moore has done the same thing. He’s now retired. He’s out in California having a lot of fun. So, finding people to feed information to us is very difficult. But, on the flip side of that, with the exception of some new music coming up, there’s not an awful that’s changed in the last several years because in terms of new music coming out we still have our music reviews done by Tom Rudebock and Ralph and Joan Collipi for the cuers. You see a lot of the music being reissued today as the older music….
BB - Yeah. I noticed ….
EJ - …. which is great that it is now being made available in a more modern medium.
BB - What predicated your move to Georgia?
EJ - Well, all of this came about - you may remember - about, I think it was nine years ago just about - we were in a real bad traffic accident.
BB - That’s right. I’d forgotten that.
EJ - Ever since then Pat has had a serious problem with the cold weather up there in New England so it was a decision that I kept putting off. Finally I just said we just can’t put it off any more. So, we moved to a warmer climate. She would have liked Florida but I just said that there was a certain distance, a certain part I wouldn’t go over. We spent about two years looking around the east coast where we’d like to move and we found Chattanooga. We’d come back to this area of Chattanooga, Tennessee quite a bit and we ended up finding a nice home down here in Ringgold, Georgia which is only ten minutes south of Chattanooga. So, we’re in a nice home. We’re two hours from Nashville, two hours from Atlanta, so there’s an awful lot of activity down here. Unfortunately, since the accident it did leave Pat somewhat nervous so we haven’t danced - I think we danced maybe - tried to dance a few times after the accident about a year later but it’s just too brutal on us so we really have not been dancing all this time. It’s something that we do miss.
BB - Right. So, that’s really interesting and I’m certainly glad that you got yourself recovered OK. How’s Pat doing? She was injured I think a little worse that you were.
EJ - Oh, she was injured quite a bit. The night of the accident she was flown out of the area to a hospital up in Worchester and then she was recovering from the operation for about three months and then a lot of recuperation at home. We tried to put a - as much as she tried - it did put an end to her calling career. She has been doing good. She tried just doing fun nights after that but even that became difficult. Unfortunately, the impact left her - some part of her memory was damaged ….
BB - Oh, that’s too bad.
EJ - …. because of a severe blow to the head and she was having a problem putting her calls together and so she decided on a high note - she was doing a lot of several fun nights at that point in time. Several of them she’d been doing for a long time. A lot of them for about 14 years. One was at this gym and that place would get packed. She’d have something on the order of 18 to 24 squares every year so that was an awful lot of fun.
BB - There you go.
EJ - But she’s doing pretty good now. The weather is helping. She’s getting around a lot better.
BB - Well, that’s great.
EJ - I appreciate your asking about her.
BB - Well, why don’t we think a little more profound about - where do you think square dancing has been and where do you think it might be going?
EJ - Well, where it’s been … I’ll just say it’s been a real highlight of distracted calling like was strong here in the forties - you can tell that I did a lot of research - and really built to it’s powerless peak back into the seventies and fortunately we became very good friends with Bob Osgood. So, Bob was a tremendous source of information for us and we woke him up in California a few times. But it appears that, along about the mid-seventies or so, was the peak for this hobby and then things changed here and a lot of new ventures came along. We just couldn’t get the younger people involved in it - I’m not talking teenagers now - I’m talking just people in their 30’s and early 40’s and a consistent age base. Unfortunately I think, what we’re going to see after the square dancing it’s probably is going to literally vanish into a handful of people until somebody, someday rediscovers it as the latest and greatest thing. As we look around, you know, we’re all getting a lot older and if you look at the average age of the dancers it’s really up there now. I think the Turkey Town Trotters - they’ve been around for 45 years - and after 45 they’re closing their doors this year. Stan (Kandrut) is going to be retiring so, it just keeps dwindling. So, I’m not … for the foreseeable future, I don’t think that we can really say it’s going to bloom anywhere near like what it was. The world is so different now and people have so many different opportunities for different hobbies but socialism seems to be on the way out. And it’s not unique for square dancing. Any of the church groups, they have the same problems. You talk with other social groups - the Lions - similar to that, they have the same problems. Their groups are dwindling down. The socialism aspect of the people in this country seems to be fleeting downward at the present time.
BB - Right. Well, over your years of experience in broadcasting and publishing do you have any regrets? Anything you wish you’d done differently?
EJ - No, not really. I mean, you can always think about opportunities possibly lost, but we both feel very gifted for what we’ve done - for what we’ve done. Pat and I will be celebrating our 45th anniversary coming up here this year and you don’t find that too much. People don’t seem to hang together but it will be … we remember … we had a great time in broadcasting. Because of what I did I got to see an awful lot of the country, got to meet a lot of folks. Then, with square dancing that broadened even more. (I) met even more people because with the national magazine, in particular we traveled around a lot more. So, there’s hardly any state that I can think of right now that we don’t know somebody that lives in it.
BB - Yes. You sure have people who sign onto your (web site) and download your magazine everywhere.
EJ - Oh yeah.
BB - Even probably overseas.
EJ - Oh yeah, there’s a couple of callers overseas that still get the magazine. They enjoy it. As a matter of fact, we just printed an article by one of them recently. They stay in touch so, you never know who’s going to look at it.
BB - That’s true. That’s true. Well, Ed I appreciate your taking the time to sit down and chat with me this morning.
EJ - Well, you wanted to do this before ….
BB - Yes, I did.
EJ - …. but it seemed we just couldn’t connect and I’m glad we finally did.
BB - Yes. All right well, why don’t we call this a day and thank you very much unless you can think of something else you’d like to add for posterity.
EJ - Well just hopefully people will keep on dancing.
BB - Yeah. Right. OK. Well, we’ll get this in the Square Dance Foundation of New England archives and, of course, it’s now available online for anybody that clicks on sdfne.org and yours will be online fairly soon I’m sure. Ed, thank you very much for chatting with us this morning and we’ll call this the end of that tape.
EJ - OK. Thank you
BB - Thank you Ed. Bye bye.
EJ - Bye bye.
End of tape - End of interview with Ed Juaire