*Anthony, Art (RI): SDFNE Hall of Fame, NE Yankee Clipper Award

Photo Anthony

Art and Pat Anthony Interview

Bob Brundage – Well, hi again. This is Bob Brundage and the date today is August the 4th, 2005. Today we’re having the pleasure of talking with a very busy square dance couple up in Rumford, Rhode Island – Art and Pat Anthony and I’m anxious to find out because I know they’ve had a very busy life. Why don’t we start out Art and tell us a little bit about where you were born and brought up and a little bit about what life was like before square dancing.

Art Anthony – Well, let’s see. I was born in Cranston, oh oh, here comes the tough part in July 2nd, 1931. can’t be that long ago. My father was a mechanic, brake and wheel, he had just bought his business and, of course that was kind of like in the depression times and I remember living in a tenement. We had a lot of macaroni.  He was pretty successful and by the time I was about five years old he bought a house here in East Providence. Now Rumford is one of these pieces of Rumford, pieces of East Providence. Boy, talk about getting confused when you get older, right? We were in East Providence and I was six years old and going to East Providence Elementary School. We kind of chugged along. My father was a great one for traveling. Even in those days, in 1938 we went to California. He bought a brand new ‘39 Pontiac and in those days that was something.

BB – I’ll bet.

AA – His brother lived in Whittier near San Diego so we went out and I saw a lot of the country. I remember being at Boulder Dam and when I went back to a couple of CALLERLAB conventions and we went back, of course, now it’s Hoover Dam. We said, you know, it’s just like when I was seven years old. He did go back and forth a lot and we were on the road. he loved to travel.

BB – Well, and gas was about $2.00 a gallon cheaper in those days.

AA – Ah yes. Pretty close. I was out of school a little bit. I managed to keep going.

BB – Right. So, did you get on through college somewhere?

AA – No, I was one of those that went on because my father was a mechanic and I worked for him for a while. Then I went to work for an automotive parts company as a machinist and as a parts man and then the manager. Of course, somewhere along the line I think, when was it, we were married in 1951 so I guess she had to be with me. She went to school, Pat was in school with me from the seventh grade on and, of course, I showed her how to do all the good stuff like science and that. I was pretty good at it. (?)

BB – OK. So, military?

AA – No. No, I just kind of fell right in the middle.

BB – Yeah. OK. No problem. So, you were married long before you got into square dancing then so the next question might be, how did you get into square dancing in the first place.

AA – Well, as I mentioned, my father loved to travel and he and my mother would go to Florida for a good part of the winter after he retired. They went down to a place called New Port Richey which was kind of like a Rhode Island center. I don’t know, there were a few callers down there I guess. One of them was Don Armstrong. I think he had a radio station down there.

BB – Yes, he did.

AA –  So this would now be about 1949 and they kept coming back and then Pat and I were married in ‘51 they said,“ You’ve got to go square dancing” you know, like give me a break, like the rest of the guys, ‘Drag me, drag me’. He kept bugging us and bugging us and then he started with Dick Leger and the Friendly Mixers and, whups, wrong Pop, Merrymakers. Dick had started the Merrymakers and they were just getting going in 1955 and, sure enough. I ended up in one of Dick Leger’s classes. Very small at that time. I think we had six couples and we took between eight and ten lessons. Dick was just a fabulous person to learn to dance to and, of course his timing was always right on the button, the Man with the Guitar. We ended up going into the club and dancing. When I mentioned to someone when I was playing with Do Paso the other night with some of the new people I said,“ When we called a Do Paso we’d say Partner Left and you’re on your own”. You just had to keep doing it.

BB – That’s right.

AA – Nobody stopped. We kept going for about three years or so and I got interested in calling. My father said, “Do you know, these guys make big dollars. They’re up there for three hours and you know, they get twenty- five dollars”. So, I started a little with Dick but then we were dancing with a lot of the people around and you know how the young people are, we wanted to move up. So we started dancing with Ray and Claire Anderson and the Eden Park Hoedowners. They were great round dance teachers, good friends of Dick and Evelyn Doyle. We went back and forth. We danced with the clubs then Ray kind of helped me and the next thing I know in 1959 I started calling. He wanted to get into the rounds, just the rounds.  He and Claire and within a couple years I took over the Eden Park Hoedowners and we continued up the ladder to high level. Any questions?

BB – Yeah, I was just going to say, when did you start a club of your own?

AA – Well, of course when we took over we started running classes for Eden Park. Then we had another club up in Holden, Mass. that we would continue from, I think we started in October and we ended in April. We had about fifteen squares and we’d just keep, something we’d talk about now, you’d never stop. You’d just keep putting them in the end. Of course, we didn’t do rounds at that time very much. There was White Silver Sands, somebody said, “Oh, you did Leftfooters”. I said, “ No, Leftfooters wasn’t out yet”.

BB – Oh, is that right?

AA – So, basically you did, you kind of did the ones that you knew and the others helped, the angels as we call them and moved right along until about three or four years. The ladies decided they wanted to form a club. Then they started trying to be a little exclusive and I think we know where that took us. It started a long time ago and it’s taken us down a kind of a rocky road. We’re ending up with, I also had the Western Whirlers for about fifteen, eighteen years. Super, super people. Then we had many classes and when I think back, and Pat was doing the cueing. Of course, gradually she was doing the cueing because you taught the round but you didn’t cue it in those days. She got into cueing and we kind of continued on. All of a sudden I started with another club, the Frontier Twirlers.  I was calling for them also and they really, people would come in and they would just not be nice to them. All of a sudden I’m said, “ What am I doing here?” I want to have fun and anybody that knows me I know, Mil will tell you I’m a little, a little off the wall. Sometimes I think Frannie Heinz comes out in me.

BB – Oh, yeah. OK.

AA – We said, “ Wait a minute. We’re going to get off of this high level bit. We’re going to start just having fun”. We had two girls eleven years apart so I kind of stumbled the whole thing. We found out from another caller who had a kind of a bad thing, when their daughter got married and told them, “ You guys always liked square dancing first and I was always the last thing”. We went to Camp Beckett, I don’t know if you remember Camp Beckett.

BB – Oh, yeah.

AA- Up in Springfield, oh, that was all we ever did. I went up there and I always had to be with those square dance brats. You know, he came to us and he said, “Now Arthur, don’t neglect your family”. So, for about ten years or so we really backed off, still called but not a tremendous amount and then when the girls started to get married they, they all were doing a little teen age dancing and we were working with that. Do I have them now, did I ever really get them into clubs? No.

BB – Well, that’s the way it goes. Is Pat right there? Can I ask her

AA – Yeah. Hang on a second.

PA – Hi.

BB – Hi Pat. How are you doing today?

PA – I’m hanging in there.

BB – Well good. I wanted to get a little of your background. I understand you were really acquainted with Art for many, many years, back in seventh grade he said?

PA – Yep.

BB – And than when you got married you got into square dancing together, he started calling and you started cueing so I wanted to get that down. So, when did you start getting interested in the cueing part of it?

PA – When we were working we were not. We were working with Ray Anderson and Claire because they taught the rounds and so she started to teach me. I took it up and did them but it was just as you said, at that particular era you only cued the first sequence. Then you shut up and they danced to the music. We didn’t have tons of them at that time so it was easier to do and it was always the music with me. Eventually we backed out and for about ten years and danced and did a little bit and I stopped cueing. Then he started summer dances and we needed a cuer so I came back in and couldn’t believe what had happened to the rounds.

BB – Oh, sure.

PA – Oh, my gosh. So, anyway, It was a long road back to get used to this, all the new cues and you had to do every single one because they all had to get the ending. They were coming too fast and furious and it was, “WOW”. We found that I had records downstairs everywhere. Then I ended up cueing and doing the summer dances and I’ve cueing and kept up with it although I don’t go beyond, up to about level 3. I don’t do much with the 4’s, then getting up to the 4’s and 5’s and 6’s.

BB – Well, you’re getting into pretty serious round dances when you get to Phase 4 and above.

PA – Yeah, and I’m at the stage of life where I really don’t want to get into that. I like a few Cha’s and Rhumba’s and stuff that I run. The people that I am cueing to most of them are still, they’re older and they’re still doing the easy levels of the rounds, and the old music, they like the music. So, I just go with the flow.

BB – Well, that’s really nice. Nice to talk to you Pat. Let me talk to Art again.

PA – OK. Art (calling to him)

AA – Opening a window. Let in some of the cool air that’s coming in.

BB – Yes. OK. I want to talk about, I know you have been very active as a volunteer in the business and I want to be sure to acknowledge all your efforts along that line. I know, for example that you and Pat received the Yankee Clipper Award back in 2000.

AA – Right, We did.

BB – That is certainly a very prestigious award. It’s just not given out lightly and only indicates that you’ve been very, very active in your volunteer efforts in New England I know. So, let’s think about NECCA for a minute. That’s the New England Council of Caller’s Associations and, at one time you were Treasurer of that organization.

AA – Still am.

BB – And still are, OK.

AA – Yes, I was, I guess it’s nine years now.

BB – Is that right?

AA – I think it was about nine years.

BB – Well, tell us a little bit about what NECCA’s purpose is.

AA – Well, NECCA is kind of the mother for our local associations. We have right now up to ten associations in New England. I’m with the Narragansett Callers which is for Rhode Island. I was President let’s say about four times and I was Vice-President, Pat was Secretary and we’ve been working along with that so then we said, “ OK”, before I became treasurer I was the delegate to NECCA. We have right now I think somewhere around 200 callers that are on our rolls with NECCA. We work together with EDSARDA which is the square dancers organization and we originally were involved in the startup of that, I’m trying to think, I think about 48 years ago. We had a meeting a place called Square Acres, Howard Hogue, five halls and it was just boomtown out there. That’s where we held the first the first meeting of EDSARDA and we all thought that this was something we should be doing. At that time we didn’t have a local federation for the dancers and they formed that fairly soon. Then we got one more, what we called Co-op and joined together with the rounds. We think we have a unique system here in New England. We have the callers which is NECCA, EDSARDA and NECORTA and Co-op holds us all together and plans, keeps us all in line.

BB – Well, tell us exactly what NECCA stands for and then EDSARDA and NECORTA.

AA _ Oh boy!

BB – I can do it. NECCA is the New England Council of Caller’s Associations, EDSARDA is Eastern District Square and Round Dance Association and NECORTA is New England Council of Round Dance Teachers Association.

AA – Right!

BB – And you’ve been involved in all of them, you and Pat.

AA – Oh yeah. Pat has been an officer in NECORTA and we have our own local Rhode Island Round Dance Teachers Association which, believe it or not I am the President of now. We ran out of people. Now you’ve got to be scraping the bottom of the barrel when you have to get a caller to be President.

BB – Well, a lot of callers are cuers too you know.

AA – Well, that’s right. Pat being a cuer, she was President for two years and then she had to give it up you know, they put this limit, they have this limit of two years for the President. The other people forever. They said, “How about Art taking over because Marge and Bill who have been Treasurer for, no, Secretary, they’ve been the Secretary of our local and they were the Treasurer of Co-op for twelve or fifteen years. They’ve kind of kept chugging along.

BB – Well, I know there’s a lot of collaboration between the three groups and a lot of people are delegates or officers in one as well as another, etc. just as you have been. And you’ve been involved with the New England Convention I know.

AA – Oh yes.

BB – And I see one blurb I saw somewhere that you were Chairman of the Trail Out Dance.

AA – Yes, thanks to my good friends Anna and Mil Dixon.

BB – Well, that’s really great and ah, are you still actively calling?

AA – Yes. As a matter of fact, Pat mentioned the summer time dances. For fifteen years we’ve been running dances in the summer almost every Saturday. There was one or two Saturdays that we couldn’t get the hall and it’s worked very well for people who come out of class. They can come and practice and just have plain fun and they can, there’s a lot of things going on now on the internet right now that’s fun, fun, fun. We’ve had to put fun back in or we’re all in big trouble.

BB – Yes. Now, where are those dances held Art.

AA – We’ve held those dances in the same hall for sixteen years and it’s in Esmond which is part of Smithfield, Rhode Island, it’s like fifteen miles from my home here. A lot of other clubs use it now. We’ve got everybody using it. It’s a very popular hall.

BB – On of the questions I’ve been asking all the intervewers, interviewees I should say, do you have any regrets? Is there anything you wished you had done differently?

AA – It’s hard to say. You know, callers kind of hedge on this one. I think we wasted a lot of people. I don’t believe the callers, everybody’s to blame on this. We were losing people every 2, 2½ years when we were going. Howard Hogue sat with us when a fellow by the name of Bob Kent was out there with me and we were doing a weekend.  He said. “You know, you guys are flying high. It’s not going to last guys. You’re running through people and the people in square dancing have to both be able to do it, both want to do it and stay that way. You’ve got to have a partner. It isn’t going bowling”. That always comes up when we talk and I think back when I was calling high level that maybe I should have stayed with what Dick Leger did a little bit more and kind of played what I’m doing now. I call strictly Mainstream and I call a lot of patterns, particularly on the singing calls because I grew up with, you can take a rest on the singing and then we’ll work you to death on the patter.

BB – Yes. Well, where do you think square dancing might be going?

AA – I can tell you from the Rhode Island area it’s really tough. We are going to, I belong to the Rhode Island Foundation that’s been a little bit inactive now but we’ve been trying to save square dancing, introduce it to the children wherever we can put it. We’ve got to keep it out there. Our governor square danced ten, twenty years ago and he never realized what he was getting into when he got the governorship of Rhode Island but he and his wife said, “You know, we thought this was going to be when we were going to come back into square dancing. Susan and I up to our ears in politics and it’s terrible”. But he’s helping out a bit. We’ve lost two of our major clubs, one with forty-seven years, that was the Friendly Mixers that I called on and off for at least three or four dances every year and their parties because I’m kind of a party type guy. The Whirlaways that Everett Mackin was calling for and Marge Headen cueing. They were in forty-one years. We still have the Town Howlers which are coming up with their fifth anniversary next year and a big time is, they are probably the strongest club in Rhode Island. We had well over 2000 dancers. Now I have a list that is probably about 125 of Rhode Island dancers.

BB – Well, I see we are getting down near the end of this tape Art and so I really appreciate you’re taking the time to talk with me this evening and unless you can think of something else you’d like to add?

AA – Just that we’re going to hang with this and keep square dancing having fun as we almost always did but for the last sixteen years that’s been my motto. So we’re heading in the right direction, I think that caller now are going to keep square dancing and we’re all going to all have a good time together.

BB – Great. That’s great. Well, thank you for your thoughts and thanks to Pat also for

AA – Very good. It’s been great talking to you and maybe we’ll see you at the next convention.

BB – Well, don’t hold your breath. It’s a long ways from Albuquerque you know.

AA – Albuquerque. Oh, I think I know that. We’ve been through that three or four times but you’re doing a great job and it’s a great thing that you’re doing.

BB – Well thank you Art. I appreciate that. So, I’ll be sending you a copy of this tape and I’ll be sending you an email about, for making corrections for some of the names that you’ve mentioned. You’ll be hearing from me and thank you very much for your help.

AA – OK. Thanks a lot Bob. Bye bye.

BB – Bye.

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