Shepherd, Art: CALLERLAB Milestone

Photo Shepherd


Bob Brundage – This is Bob Brundage again, the date today in the United States is September twenty five and I’m today making a long distance call to Art Shepherd over in New Zealand. And we had a little mix up in our time (short laugh) and so it’s midnight where he is and I’m sorry to interrupt him but, be that as it may. So Art, why don’t you tell us what your family background was and things like that before you got into square dancing where you were born and brought up so forth.

Art Shepherd – Okay thanks Bob, well, I was born in the year of 1924 in a place called Littleton New Zealand. That’s a seaport.  My father was a retired ship’s captain and was doing, he was a company, a steamship company rep. And my mother was a maternity nurse, we had a private maternity home, and so that’s my arrival on this Earth.  And I went to the Littleton District High School, which is the name of the school and then I finished there in 1939 and went into a special course at what’s called a boy’s school in Christ Church.  Then the war came along so I volunteered for the “Royal New Zealand Air Force, and from there, after doing my basic training here in New Zealand, I was transferred to Canada.  Finished my flying training, and from there I went into England and flew in the European Theatre.


[BB] Oh, did you ? Okay.


[AS] And at the end of the war, instead of coming back to New Zealand, I, because I had married Blanche in Canada at that time, I returned to Canada and joined the regular forces of the “Royal

Canadian Air Force”, and from there I went into an instruction role and besides flying and administration, that in the end I ended up as a staff officer at the “School of Instructional Techniques”.  And during my sojourn at that particular school we got involved with square dancing and a guy by the name of Ernie Dempster and Lucille (?) was running a club on the base, so we were looking for some activity to do and that was our first sojourn into square dancing.


[BB] Okay, that according to your bio, that was around 1960.


[AS] Right.


[BB] Okay, and then you actually started calling a few years later, 1965 I think it said.


[AS] Oh well actually Bob (short laugh) it wasn’t quite that late ah Bob

Brundage actually pardon me, Al Brundage was um doing an evening of calling at a place called Peterborough, Ontario which was about 80 miles of our airbase –


[BB] Ah


[AS] and (….) was a sort of learners beginners festival


[BB] Ah ha


[AS] so in 1960 we went up there and, on the way home, of all things, the

wheel, front right wheel fell off the bus.


[BB] Oh great


[AS] So we were stuck on the side of the road in this air force (…)


[BB] (short laugh)


[AS] sixty of us from the base going up –


[BB] Yeah


[AS] and Ernie in his ah way of doing things said “Okay, while we’re waiting for the new bus to come and get us, everyone has to have a sing say or do.


[BB] (short laugh)


[AS] and uh, I opened my big mouth and sang “Waltzing Matilda”


[BB] Okay


[AS] coming from way down the South Pacific and, we got home rather late, or very early in the morning and that particular evening there was a knock on the front door and Ernie and Lucille were there and Ernie said “Can I come in and talk to you ?”. And this was in 1960.


[BB] Yeah


[AS] He said ah “I think you have a nice voice and you use it on the bus,

here’s two records, one’s  called “The Alabama Jubilee”


[BB] (short laugh)


[AS] and the other was “Arkansaw Traveller”.


[BB] Okay


[AS} and he said “I’ve written you up a little pattern for the “Arkansaw

Traveller”,which was the old pattern of the –


[BB] Yeah


[AS] uhh go across the square and turn the lady right come back –


[BB] Yeah


[AS] and I can’t think of the name of the figure now


[BB] Right


[AS] and uh – so he came around three or four times and said “Okay it’s

time” and then one evening he said ah ” Okay – you can have a call tonight at the club”

[BB] (slightly longer laugh) Okay


[AS] so it was (….) on hand, which took at least another half hour to get

it out of my hand, after that first call. And that’s how I got into calling,

with Ernie, and I called for about six months. And then our base, pardon me, our school, the “School of Instructional Techniques” was transferred to the Air Force base, and, there were four couples in the staff school who had got into square dancing –


[BB] Ah ha


[AS] and when we got to new base, they all decided that we would like to get square dancing going in the new base, oh, so we had a meeting on the base, and u,a whole bunch of people turned out and they said “Well, the only here who has got any experience in this is you – so you’re the caller.


[BB] Okay (followed by short laugh)


[AS] That’s how it started.


[BB] Right, right. Well that’s very interesting. I was interested going

back to that festival that you went to that you say um, you said was me that was calling then ?


[AS] Um, oh, no, pardon me, um, ooh


[BB] You said


[AS] Al, um,


[BB] Al is my brother


[AS] Yep


[BB] Yeah


[AS] It was Al Brundage


[BB] It was Al, okay


[AS] Yeah


[BB] I remember I called in Canada one time at an, at an Air Force base –

and I thought maybe we happened to be at the same dance, but uh, that was the only time I called in Canada. But be that as it may. Okay. So, and then, it must have been around that time that you moved back to ah New Zealand ?


[AS] Well no actually – when I got to the new base I needed all the

equipment etc – so I made an application to the sports officer for some gear.


[BB] Yeah


[AS] He said “That’s fine, but we’ll buy it for you, but you need some

training in that field” –


[BB] Yeah


[AS] and it just so happened that Dave Taylor –


[BB] Yeah


[AS] and Earl Parke –


[BB] Okay


[AS] were running with, um, oh golly, dear oh gosh I can’t think of her name at the moment, the lady caller that used to be well known in Toronto.


[BB] Um Marg Hoff


[AS] Marg Hoff, that’s right –


[BB] Yeah


[AS] running at a place called Brace Bridge, or just outside of Brace Bridge –


[BB] Yeah


[AS] which was a couple of hundred miles north of the base –


[BB] Ah ha


[AS] a weeks callers school –


[BB] Oh yes


[AS]  so I got into that, and we went up there, and got as much instruction from them as we could and about four months later the old Ed Gilmore –


[BB] Okay


[AS] came to a place not too far from the actual base that I was on at the time, a place called Clinton Ontario –


[BB] UM hum

[AS] and he was in (London ?) and he ran a weeks course, a caller’s a school there –


[BB] Oh yeah


[AS] so I went down to that.


[BB] Ah ha


[AS] In the meantime, the “Toronto and District Council” had had people like um Dick um


[BB] Decko?


[AS] Dick from ahh Rhode Island


[BB] Ohh, Dick Ledger


[AS]  Dick Ledger. Isn’t it funny how names decline –


[BB] (short laugh) welcome to the club


[AS] Dick Ledger


[BB] Yeah


[AS] Um – Marshall Flippo


[BB] Yeah


[AS] Um – Frank Lane


[BB] Oh yeah


[AS] um – ohhh – all the guys that were going at that time came into Toronto and we used to have –


[BB] Yeah


[AS] caller sessions there as well –


[BB] I see


[AS] and so from sixty when I first started calling until I left Canada in

sixty five


[BB] Yeah


[AS] I had attended at least three caller’s schools –


[BB] Good


[AS] and it was at that particular time I was also calling for five clubs in

Ontario –


[BB] Ah ha. Okay. Well


[AS] in nineteen sixty five, I retired from the air force and came to New



[BB] I see – okay – that er takes care of that then. Yeah it’s funny, just a

couple of days ago I got Marg Hoff’s address, and I got it from , um um,

Audrie Palmquest


[AS] Oh, right


[BB] You remember Audrie


[AS] Yeah, I remember Audrie, I remember even before she was Palmquest.


[BB] That’s right, yes, I don’t remember her maiden name, or her other

married name


[AS] No, I can’t remember


[BB] It doesn’t really matter, but


[AS] No, it doesn’t


[BB] It’s funny, I just got it, she’s in Scarborough


[AS] And still alive ?


[BB] Yeah


[AS] Oh, great


[BB] Scarborough, Ontario


[AS] She’s still in Scarborough


[BB] Yeah


[AS] She hasn’t moved in all these years


[BB] Eleven Princemere Crescent. But anyway. Okay, so moving right along, ah, so now you’ve moved back to New Zealand, and um then you started the square dance activity there, and um, I understand at that time,  there was very very little activity there. What was it, what was a topical, er a typical square dance kind of a program was going on when you moved back there ?


[AS] Well, when I arrived back in New Zealand, I found out that there was what we call an old time, if you want to call it that.


[BB] Yeah


[AS] The old time, Lady ‘Round the Lady the Gent Don’t Go that sort of thing.


[BB] Yeah


[AS] There was a club in a place called Gisborne –


[BB] Ah ha

[AS} up on the north east corner of New Zealand, and down in a place called Dunedin –


[BB] Oh, yeah


[AS] there was a modern western square dance club –


[BB] Ah ha


[AS] there was a caller by the name of Jim Donaldson, god rest his soul,

he’s gone now –



[BB] ah ha


[AS] and that, he was doing things, (….) up to swing thru, which was going in those days.


[BB] Ah ha


[AS] and all the other things that were beyond it, he just said no – that’s

not for me –


[BB] Hmmm


[AS] we’ll do what we’ve been doing, and that was it. But they had a fine

club down in Dunedin at a place called a club called the “Wagon Wheelers”


[BB] Ah ha


[AS] and when I arrived in New Zealand there was a record club here in

Christchurch going (…..) this particular time ummm, which was still

surviving from 1933 –


[BB] Is that right ?


[AS] when a guy named “Happy Hill” –


[BB] Ah, okay


[AS] a caller from Calgary Alberta


[BB] Ah ha


[AS] was out here and had square dancing, the the old time square dancing going in the days just prior to the war.


[BB] Yeah


[AS] Yeah, square dancing was a fabulous activity, ahh, hundreds of people were going square dancing because, six basics and you had it all sort of thing –


[BB] Yeah


[AS] but that all faded during the war, of course, the men all went overseas etc etc, and uh, so it actually faded out and left these two little groups. One which was old time in the North Island, and one which had modernised –


[BB] Hmmm


[AS] in the South Island.


[BB] Yeah, okay. So you developed quite an active program there as I



[AS] Yes, we started out by going to the local radio stations and newspapers –


[BB] Ah ha


[AS] working off the American attitude that if you publicise you die


[BB] Right (short laugh)


[AS] and we were fortunate enough to get a magazine feature story in one of the national magazines as well as a big story in one of the local newspaper


[BB] Ah ha


[AS] and, we said we were available for charity functions to do square

dancing –


[BB] Yeah


[AS] and from there we traveled the whole of New Zealand, actually as far as basic civilization is concerned a place called Whangarei which is in the top end of the North Island down to a place called (Invercargill ?) which is in  the southern part of New Zealand –


[BB] Ah ha


[AS] and we’d be on the road ah weekends, every weekend –


[BB] Yeah


[AS] running one night stands and fun nights –


[BB] Yeah


[AS] as well as getting a club going right here in Christchurch.


[BB] Ah ha Good, well, so ah, and that was around nineteen sixty five was it ?


[AS] sixty five, sixty six


[BB] Yeah right. Okay. So ah, I know you’ve been active in Callerlab, ah,

why don’t you tell us um, your affiliation there ?


[AS] Yeah, I think it was nineteen sixty three, if I remember rightly, I got

a letter from Bob Osgood –


[BB] Ah ha


[AS] who I’d been associated with of course in North America. And Bob said that Callerlab was being formed, and he sent me an invitation, because if I remember rightly it was by invitation only.


[BB] Ah ha, yes


[AS] Ah so –


[BB] About that time, yeah


[AS] so we looked at it and thought “Well, this is what we need”. We were looking at the sort of programs we were doing, ah, though we were getting bits and pieces from here and there and nothing was really standard, shall we say, and nobody had a real program as such.


[BB] Yeah, Ah ha


[AS] one guy in Florida, I cannot think of his name now. You’ll know who he was, he was a choreographer but not a caller


[BB] Oh, Jack Lasry, no


[AS] No, not Jack –


[BB] No


[AS] in seventy four, but before that –


[BB] Okay


[AS] there was a guy works, worked out of Florida who was a choreographer and put out caller’s notes


[BB] Oh yes,


[AS] Umm –


[BB] Well… I don’t


[AS] his name escapes me


[BB] Yeah, it does me too, go ahead.


[AS] Umm, so I bought into his notes,and he had a program going on basic. Which was twenty five, and I think the next one was sixty, and the next one was seventy five basics –


[BB] Ah ha


[AS] and I had been using that program


[BB] Yeah


[AS] um, while I was, before I got this information about Callerlab. So I

thought it was a very fine idea that we’re going to get ah or try to get a world standard of (….) –


[BB] Yeah


[AS] lists and things –


[BB] Uh hu


[AS] the programs and the teaching guides ideas and concepts. And so we decided that we would go to Callerlab at Saint Louis in seventy four, so we went and ah thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. And of course it was great to meet all those people who were part –


[BB] Yeah -all right


[AS] that came along. I think there were, from memory, one hundred and four callers –


[BB] Yeah


[AS] at the first one at Saint Louis.


[BB] Yeah


[AS] There’s one major thing I remember about Saint Louis is when we had the final feast, as we used to call it –


[BB] (short laugh)


[AS] on the final evening, or (…), we all had, um, what do you call it in

United States, uh rib roast –


[BB] Oh yeah


[AS] yeah, oh beautiful meal. And everybody’s giving the meat back because it was underdone.


[BB] Oh dear (short laugh)


[AS] but that was my sojourn into Callerlab,  and, I subscribe to the ideas and principles of Callerlab


[BB] Yeah


[AS] and by that time, of course, in New Zealand we had organized the “New Zealand Caller’s and Cuers Association” which I have been President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer –


[BB] Yeah


[AS] and I’m now a life member –


[BB] Yeah


[AS] um, and introduced the Callerlab program into the activity here in New Zealand, and I must say, it’s still going.


[BB] Yeah. You know, un, unfortunately Art, I  just sitting looking at my

recording machine. And it’s battery operated –

[AS] Oh


[BB] and my low battery blinker is blinking. And I’m sure we’re still

recording now, but I, I seriously wonder how long this is going to last. So

I should replace the batteries –


[AS] Okay


[BB] and uh


[AS] I’ll hang on


[BB] No, I don’t want, I don’t, I would be kind of a project for me to

change the batteries at the moment –


[AS] Okay


[BB] so why don’t I call you again ?


[AS] Okay, you give me a call um –


[BB] and I’ll promise to call you (short laugh) at 6 o’clock.


[AS] No, no, this time is fine, it’s not a problem, because Thursday night

we go out and the families all get together, we have a meal together –


[BB] Yeah


[AS] so It’s, it’s not a problem.


[BB] Okay, well, no I’ll call you. Is noon time convenient for you ?


[AS] Noon time, New Zealand time or American time ?


[BB] Yeah, no, New Zealand time.


[AS] Yes, umm, when were you thinking of it ? Any particular..


[BB] Well, um, today’s Thursday, what about er , what about tomorrow


[AS] Tomorrow at noon, just one moment


[BB] And that would be 6 o’clock this evening, here.


[AS] Yeah. No that’s okay, call me at noon tomorrow. I’ll shall be here.


[BB] All right. Well let’s do that, and I’ll um, I’ll get these batteries

changed during the day


[AS] (softly) Okay


[BB] and uh, because there’s some other things I want to ask you, and I want to get it down on tape. And I apologise for doing it this way, but –


[AS] No, that’s alright Bob, I understand


[BB] Yeah. Alright, so I’ll call you


[AS] Alright


[BB] Alright, so I’ll call you ah


[AS] My time noon, your time 6 o’clock I guess


[BB] Yeah I’m gonna be, yeah, it’ll be uh, I’ll wait until just after six

o’clock, um, so that I get the cheaper telephone rate


[AS] Right


[BB] Okay, and I think it starts at six, or maybe it’s at five, but be that

as it may, I’ll call you this evening which will be, ah, ah, ah, noon

tomorrow for you.


[AS] That’ll be great.


[BB] I hope


[AS] Okay


[BB] Okay, thank you Art. Goodnight.


[AS] Goodnight




[BB] Ah, due to the unexpected problem with the tape recorder. I’ll ask you, who is listenning to this, to please run it all the way to the end, and turn over to side B. And I’ll start again when I call back this evening.


[BB] I’ve just turned the tape on, so here we go again


[AS] Okay fine, what sortt of day you got over there ?


[BB] Oh, it’s a beautiful day here in Albuquerque.


[AS] Yeah


[BB] Yeah we got


[AS] Yeah is it there isn’t it ?


[BB] Yeah, it’s about seventy five degrees, and clear blue skies


[AS] Oh great, ours is about eleven at the moment

[Note BB was probably talking Fahrenheit scale, AS was probably talking

Celsius scale]


[BB]  Aha, well, (short laugh) okay. Well I just uh, played back part of the tape, and I, er, we were talking about Callerlab and how uh, and your involvement, and then New Zealand Caller’s Association. So, let’s continue then. Uh, are there any, uh, callers from the United States that visit New Zealand these days ?


[AS] Yes, well, ah, we go a, a few years again in nineteen sixty seven Bob Osgood –


[BB] Yeah


[AS] brought out one of his, you know, “Sets in Order”  tours  out here –


[BB] Oh  good


[AS] Ah then, ah so, Bob was here, Manning Smith was here –


[BB] Oh


[AS] Um, and then I started a program in nineteen eighty one which was

called the “International ,ah, Square and Round Dance Convention” –


[BB] Oh yeah


[AS] and, each year we would bring out from the States or Canada a caller. And the first caller we had in October of eighty one was Bob Van Antwerp –


[BB] Oh yes, okay


[AS] And then, um, we had, uh,  Dave Taylor


[BB] Yeah


[AS] Earl Parke, Frank Lane, umm, Jerry Helt, umm, oh I’d have to go and

look up all the badges –


[BB] (short laugh) Right


[AS] every year a caller.


[BB] Well, I’ve interviewed all of them except Earl Parke


[AS] Yeah, Earl Parke, ah, of course, was Canadian.


[BB] Yeah, So, um, okay, well that’s um, and how about, is there still

activity on now, are you still getting people in ?


[AS] Ah, no, I retired in February of ninety four


[BB] Oh yeah


[AS] I stepped right off the mike and sold everything –


[BB] Ah ha


[AS] and, um, then became in the last four years in line dancing,


[BB] Ah, there you go


[AS] but then, that’s another story


[BB] Okay, um, what about ,a, big conventions. Do have a thing like a

National Convention, or, that we have here?


[AS] Yes, we,  organized the first National Convention in nineteen sixty

six. And I think we’re having our thirty fourth, thirty third –


[BB] Ah ha


[AS] this coming year. And we also had in nineteen seventy four the

“Southern Hemisphere” Square and Round Dance festival –


[BB] Oh yeah


[AS] and we had callers come out from both the States and Australia and

Canada and New Zealand –


[BB] Oh yeah


[AS] and there were about fifteen hundred people –


[BB] Oh great


[AS] Which is a fairly large crowd for New Zealand.


[BB] Yes


[AS] Our national convention runs somewhere  between six and eight hundred –


[BB] I see


[AS] and then in the second “Southern Hemisphere Square and Round Dance Festival” was held in February nineteen ninety four –


[BB] Ah ha


[AS] and that’s when I actually made my public announcement about retiring.


[BB] Yeah


[AS] well, I didn’t get a chance to make it, Dave Taylor beat me to it –


[BB] short laugh


[AS] announced it before me


[BB] yeah, yeah, that’s a Dave, that’s Dave alright (short laugh).


[AS] That’s Dave (short laugh)


[BB] Yeah, right, well


[AS] Those would be the largest, two largest conventions. Nineteen seventy four

[BB] Yeah


[AS] The first Southern Hemisphere Convention and then Ninety Four twentieth anniversary of it –


[BB] Yeah


[AS] Um, and we had dancers from Japan and England and as well America, Australia and Canada, New Zealand.


[BB] Oh yeah, great. Do you have local festivals, um, you know, smaller than the National, um


[AS] Yes, there are area festivals


[BB] Yeah


[AS] The “South Island Federation” for instance –


[BB] Ah ha


[AS] they will hold occasional festivals, and then there is the “North

Island Federation”,and, they have festivals as well. So there’s, shall we

say, area festivals, and there’s the national festivals, and there’s the

international festivals


[BB] Oh yes, good. Okay, so you, are you still involved in line dancing ?


[AS] Yes, I still do three sessions a week with, ah, mainly above the



[BB] Ah, great, great. Ah, which is a little of the subject, but,uh, do you

have other hobbies ?


[AS] Umm, well my one other hobby use to be, um, aviation, but ah, I’m

getting past my , well past that now –


[BB] Ah ha


[AS] my medical certificate for that is a wee bit of a problem –


[BB] Yeah, right


[AS] but flying, flying was my second love,


[BB] Well, great. Yeah you said you were Air Force, ah


[AS] Ah-hm


[BB] Yeah, what did you, ah, what was your primary flight, ah, ah, machine ?



[AS] During the war ?


[BB] Yeah


[AS] Ah, Mosquitos


[BB] Oh, well, okay, I was a P47 pilot myself


[AS] Ah well, why I, a, after the war, ah, after the conflict was over I

went into the regular force –


[BB] Yes


[AS] ah, we actually had, um, B25s and we were flying those for about 5

years –


[BB] Oh yes


[AS] and then, from there on in I was ahh, ground staff or pardon me, you

know into staff schools and –


[BB] Yeah


[AS] things like that –


[BB] Right


[AS] and non flying activities –


[BB] Oh yes


[AS] cause I went into flying control –


[BB] Yes


[AS] and then into radar, and then to staff college.


[BB] Oh, okay. Um, getting back to square dancing ah, did you do recording?


[AS] Yes, I did my first recording for “Sets in Order” as you know one of

those ah, I think..


[BB] Yeah, promotion records, promotion records –


[AS] Yeah


[BB] Yeah

[AS] the first one of those was a basic –


[BB] Yeah


[AS] then, I did um, a round dance for um, Glen ‘Now Is The Hour’.


[BB] Oh yeah


[AS] then I did a singing call for Grenn on Top which was um, “Welcome to my world” –


[BB] Oh yeah, okay


[AS] and then I did a plus on the promotional record for “Sets in Order” –


[BB] Oh yes


[AS] and my final recording was with um, Prairie records um –


[BB] Oh yes


[AS] um, Al Horn


[BB] Ah ha


[AS] and I did on (short pause) “Good old E A” pardon me (caugh) “Good old E A R and H” which is a railroad train that runs from um, Mombasa to Kenya.


[BB] Oh yeah (short laugh)


[AS] Nairobi, pardon me –


[BB] Um, okay, well, that’s all very interesting, umm


[AS] Hmmm –


[BB] Umm


[AS] and I, I did put out a series of, excuse me just a moment got a frog in my throat.


[BB] Yeah


[AS] (clears throat), I did in the early days, here in New Zealand, put out

a series of manuals for teaching –


[BB] Oh yes


[AS] basic square dancing –


[BB] Oh that’s great


[AS] calling, and, you know, how to teach a left allemande, and a dosado and how, what order to teach them in, and so forth.


[BB] Right, are there copies there still around ?


[AS] Umm, I’m not sure whether I can put my hands on one of those or not. I, I have a hunch I sent one to Lloyd Shaw Foundation, cause, because I joined –


[BB] Oh yeah


[AS] did  join Lloyd Shaw, Lloyd Shaw Foundation –


[BB] Oh great


[AS] many years ago


[BB] Great, okay. Well it..


[AS] It might be in the archives there somewhere –


[BB] Yeah. Well I don’t recall, I haven’t (short laugh), As you can imagine

I haven’t –


[AS] (laughing)


[BB] been through


[AS] I guess there’s a bunch of stuff there.


[BB] We’re, we’re just about to. I have just finished, um, about a thousand


[AS] Excuse me just a moment, sorry –


[BB] Sure


(about two second pause)


[AS] Sorry, I just had to, um, I’m in the kitchen and the plug just pulled

out of the (….)


[BB] (short laugh) okay


[AS] Sorry, I missed that last little bit.


[BB] Ah, I was just finishes cataloguing about a thousand twelve inch

records, and uh, we have a whole stack of ten inch, and, um, we’re going to start on next. And 45 RPM’s also, and we estimate um, somewhere around twenty thousand –


[AS] Good god


[BB] That have got to be catalouged, and then put in the computer –


[AS] Ah ha


[BB] and so forth, you know. So we have a big job ahead of us. I’ll look

forward –


[AS] Yes, well I know, we used, I used to use quite a lot of the Lloyd Shaw stuff. Because we did Contras as well, and –


[BB] Did you now, okay.


[AS] circle mixers and things like that


[BB] Yeah, okay. That was one of the questions, I wondered if you ever

gotten into contras. I looked up to see if you were a member of Contralab, and I see you’re not, but uh


[AS] No, I wasn’t


[BB] Yeah, right


[AS] I didn’t, er, what with Roundalab, and New Zealand Callers and Teachers Association I..


[BB] Sure


[AS] Ahh the, ah, Callerlab, I felt that (short laugh), I was getting more

information than I could handle anyway.


[BB] Yeah right. So, tell me about, what’s the extent of square dancing in

New Zealand now, umm


[AS] Well. I’ll, I’ll have to be honest and say it’s, it has decreased in

numbers, or maybe I should say that it, it hasn’t expanded over the last

five years, it –


[BB] Ah ha


[AS] like, it’s been a hard battle for people to get new people in. They’ve

tried or soughts of ways to get younger people into the activity


[BB] yeah


[AS] and they’re not getting them


[BB] yeah


[AS] same old problem. And of course line dancing being so popular now, uh, since you don’t need a partner, is, um. I mean I can remember back in seventy eight, seventy nine, eighty, eighty one, eighty two. The square

dance club I had here in Christchurch had three hundred couples in it.


[BB] Oh yes, right.Hmmh


[AS] And today I suppose, um, if you get a function and you have ten squares


[BB] yeah


[AS] You’ve got a reasonable , I’m talking within the region club function.


[BB] Yes right


[AS] You get ten squares you’ve got a large crowd.


[BB] Right, right. Well, it’s the same way here. In Albuquerque, and the

same way, I guess, most everywhere. But


[AS] It seems to have been a, a hard battle


[BB] yeah


[AS] But I mean, I mean I’d hate to say this but, line dancing they just

come in in droves because you don’t need a partner.


[BB] yes, right. Are there any, ah, Contra Dance clubs there.


[AS] Um, the only, in that way Scottish Country.


[BB] I see, okay


[AS] There are not um Country Western dance clubs


[BB] yes right


[AS] It’s pretty well all line dancing . Very little couples dancing.


[BB] yes okay.Um, getting a little profound Art, um, what do you find

appealing, or what did you find appealing about being a square dance caller ? What, what was the appeal to calling


[AS] Well, actually Al, Bob, pardon me. I’m, I suppose I stumbled into it

because, as I say this wheel fell off the bus all those years ago, and we

had this thing say or do with Ernie and Lucille Dempster and he just knew that callers were wanted and, since I was already in what, teaching teachers how to teach, because that was my job in the airforce


[BB]  yes


[AS] ah, it then became a matter of the technical side of, of ah, being a

caller. And, I found it a challenge.


[BB] yeah


[AS] and it, it took me away from the air force, if I can use that as an



[BB] aha


[AS] and got me into dominion, another domain and


[BB] yes, yes


[AS] ahh, it was a form of relaxtion


[BB] right


[AS] altough I never… wasn’t


[BB] yes


[AS] but it appeared to be something that was challenging, um, satisfying


[BB] yes, and


[AS] and I think the learning again of the aspects of you know, calling


[BB] yeah


[AS] because we just broken out of the ah, visiting couples


[BB] right


[AS] you know late fifties, early sixties


[BB] and getting straight into modern western, as it was called then


[AS] right


[BB] which was much more challenging


[AS] yes


[BB] well, that’s. If um, if you could change anything in your calling

career, would you have do, would you do so


[AS] To give you an honest answer Bob, if I was going to change anything in my calling career, let’s see what would it, let’s see, it didn’t change as rapidly as it did. I think Callerlab was a marvelous idea but we went too



[BB] Yes. And too fast


[AS] I think we, um, when we started out with our basic and ah, program. And then the, the next stage of that program was great. But once we started getting into ah, Plus One and Plus Two, and Challenge and all the rest of it. It just seemed to me that, ah, I hate to say this, but I suppose it’s, it’s my feelings


[BB] right


[AS] that the younger callers were pushing to get the higher levels


[BB] right


[AS] where is we old timers were trying to keep


[BB] (short laugh)


[AS] the more popular levels going


[BB] yes, right, well welcome to the club.

(both laughing)


[BB] um, okay so, but you don’t really, don’t have any regrets necessarily


[AS] Oh no, I have no regrets whatsoever


[BB] yeah

[AS] um, square dancing was wonderful for me, once we had stopped traveling across Canada and the States and came to New Zealand. Um, I think if I remember rightly now we organised twenty one overseas tours taking square dancers to, um, North America, to, ah, Asia,


[BB] oh that’s [AS] Australia, Europe. And we even took um, a sixty six day tour around the world with square dancers.


[BB] There you go, ah that’s great


[AS] yes, that was ah, very rewarding.


[BB] Right, well


[AS] And then, I’m not saying that financially, there’s no great millions

made out of it, but


[BB] well


[AS] um, we, I had the opportunity when I retired from the Air Force in

Canada to stay in Canada, and try to go professional. But I could see the

writing on the wall, and that way that, all you had to do was slip and break and arm, or break a leg, or have an accident, and, it was going to be a, a no no. So I decided to keep it as a hobby, more so than as a profession.


[BB] right, right. So, well, but you were ah, actually working almost full

time at it actually.


[AS] Oh yes, I was (short laugh). No doubt about that.


[BB] It’s still a hobby, but, the same with a lot of us, it was not a

primary source of income, um


[AS] no


[BB] but primarily


[AS]  but it’s taken more time than anything else


[BB] right


[AS] (laugh)


[BB] Do you have any thoughts on costuming? Um, There’s a, you know today there’s a little controversy about whether some people don’t get into square dancing because they, they don’t like the clothes. Do you have any thoughts on that ?

[AS] yes, I’ve heard that, um, going back a few years now when we started a group at the University of Canterberry here, um, we used to take our dancers along, so that we had,um, people there to assist us


[BB] yeah


[AS] buddy couples sought of thing. And the, well they weren’t teenagers, well they were, they were late teens and early twenties


[BB] aha


[AS] the girls always used to say, “oh you’d never get me into those outfits like that”.


[BB] right


[AS] but, in so far as an actual club situation was concerned, there’s never any trouble. I think it became, um, ah, a problem for the leader, if the leader was going to dress properly and, their partners, and the majority of the dancers, then everybody obviously did.


[BB] Right


[AS] Then, New   Zealand is slightly different than that, there’s lots of

clubs, and lots of uniforms for all clubs. Like if you’re going to lawn

bowls, you have to dress a certain way.


[BB] yes


[AS] if you play tennis within a club, you have to wear the white shorts and all the rest of that sought of stuff


[BB] right


[AS] and, they’re great ones for blazers and badges and monograms and things like that.


[BB] aha


[AS] So, it never really became a problem, but I had heard, dancers saying, or not dancers, callers at meetings, when I’d been talking to these callers after meetings


[BB] yeah


[AS] saying that, the uh, the younger callers are saying um, were not

getting people because it cost too much money to dress up.


[BB] yeah

[AS] to me that’s a lot of hogwash. I mean I can remember the first, I don’t know how much materials cost now,  but most of the girls used to make their own


[BB] sure


[AS] of course, if you want to pay one hundred and fifty dollars for a

dress, and a hundred and twenty dollars like we do out here for a, a

crinolin, sure it can be expensive


[BB] right. Well, that’s pretty much the thinking around here I guess, um,

are any of the clubs dressing down. Are they changing from their big(crinolins and things like that, and dancing..


[AS] No, most of the,uh, just hang on a moment Bob.

(Art speaks to someone in the room – Mary ?) Are dancers still wearing their dresses on Wednesday night ?

[Voice in background – Mary] Ah, majority of them are


[AS] Yeah, no, we’re just, Mary still dances with a plus group on a

Wednesday night. And she was just saying that a majority of the dancers are still wearing their outfits. If we have a festival or convention,

everybody’s dressed.


[BB] Yeah


[AS] But in a club situation, um, I notice particularly in Australia, over

the years when I was there, very few of the dancers there would dress for a normal learning night.


[BB] I see


[AS] It wasn’t until they got to festivals and conventions that you found

them dressed. Where as here


[BB] yeah


[AS] we always ask the ladies in the beginning to just wear, you know, skirt and a blouse even to a learners class


[BB] right, right. Well I


[AS] There didn’t seem to be any objection to that


[BB] yeah. Well I find a great similarity between your experience in New

Zealand to ours in the United States. And, ah, and it’s, it’s a wonderful

universal hobby, obviously

[AS] yeah

[BB] and uh, if you come over here and dance, why, you’d have no problem, if we  went over there and danced, we’d have no problem with you either. So, um, oh looks like we’re winding down a little bit Art, um, before we get too far away I wanted to mention to you that I will send you a, a release that I would appreciate you signing


[AS] okay


[BB] ah, just as a guard for the Foundation. Um, I, I’ve also asked other

interviewees if they would like a copy of the, of this tape


[AS] yes I would, and I, whatever the expense is just let me know


[BB] well, okay. I’ll send you a copy, and I’ll, I’ll put in a copy of that

release, and if you


[AS] okay


[BB] just sign that and mail it back, that’ll be fine. Or if you have any

objections for some reason or other, um, just let me know, you know


[AS] Not likely Bob


[BB] No, not likely. But it’s only a safequard, ah, who knows, ah, sometime fifty years from now, maybe one of your heirs


[AS] Oh (laugh)


[BB]  say, no you can’t do that, you know, this is where the money is

[AS] Yes, (…..), know the feeling. And there’s the, we had danced at the

center theLloyd Shaw Center there in Albuquerque


[BB] had you really ?


[AS] Hmmm, and I actually called there


[BB] oh great. Well you know it’s a nice little hall


[AS] Ah, When was that. Ninety two.


[BB] Oh is that so. Well, you don’t have any plans for coming back here I

guess ?


[AS] Ah, any plans that we have to go to North America would be just, you know, visiting as such


[BB]  yeah


[AS] not actually bringing a tour group or anything like that


[BB] yes right. No that’s


[AS] You see, we plan one more trip somewhere


[BB] yeah, okay. Oh, you know the “Hall of Fame” port, ah Portraits are at the Lloyd Shaw Center


[AS] yes, I knew they were there


[BB] yeah, well they must have been there when you were here right


[AS] hmmhm


[BB] well, Art I certainly appreciate you taking the time to, ah, to make

this little interview, and it was certainly very interesting, and uh


[AS] Well Bob. I’m glad you got in touch with me. I had heard that something was going on like this, but


[BB] oh great


[AS] Oh well, it’s a few thousand miles away


[BB] (chuckle) yes, all right


[AS] yes, so


[BB] And  again, I’m sorry for calling you at midnight last night


[AS] Oh that’s not a problem. Not a problem at all.


[BB] Oh, okay (short laugh). it’s funny we just, I got thinking about the

time changes and “that can’t be right”, so I should have called you at this time. But anyway.


[AS] (laugh)


[BB] So, I’ll keep it in mind if we ever chat again. So say


[AS] okay


[BB] say hello to Mary for me


[AS] I will, and we’re getting married on the eight of November, so we may come that way for a honeymoon next year.


[BB] There you go. Okay, well if you come near Albuquerque, be sure and let us know, we’ll


[AS] okay Bob, we’ll do that


[BB] good. Thank you very much Art


[AS] Nice, nice talking to you


[BB] You bet, bye bye


[AS] Okay Bob, bye

(phone hangs up)


[BB] this concludes our interview with Art Shephard, from, um, New Zealand. Who is a winner of the “Milestone Award” awarded by ah, Callerlab. Ah, Back a few years ago. It was a very enjoyable interview and we appreciate Art’s taking the time to do that.


End of tape

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