Van Antwerp, Bob: SIO Hall of Fame, CALLERLAB Milestone

Photo VanAntwerp


March 31, 1997 

Bob Brundage: Well, hi again, this is Bob Brundage, the date today is March 31, 1997, and today we are in Stateline, Nevada, right next to Tahoe, and we are talking with Bob Van Antwerp, one of our Hall of Famers and Milestone Award winners. So Bob, we saw you down at Callerlab, and we had a great time. Why don’t you start off by telling us where you were born and brought up.

Bob Van Antwerp: I was born in Edmond, Oklahoma, on November 8, 1920. I went through elementary school at Edmond. I also went through high school. I played football, basketball, and baseball, and lettered in all three sports. And then from there, I went to college at Central State University, which is right there in Edmond, and at that time, I had a couple, about 3 years of college in when the war came along, so I enlisted in the service.  And after I enlisted in the service, I still had some units to pick up before I could get my degree, so I was asked to come back and coach football and basketball at the high school where I graduated.


BB:  All right, great. So tell us about your military service, and your


BVA: Well, I enlisted, like I say, I enlisted in the Air Force, and I was called, and I am sorry, I can’t remember the date.


BB:  Well, that’s okay.


BV A: But I was called in the military service, and I, my first place was in Santa Ana, California, which was our pre-flight area.  From Santa Ana, I was sent to basic training in Pecos, Texas. I take it back, I was sent to basic flying the Steermans, the twin wing open air cockpits.


BB:  Right, I flew those.


BV A: Flew those out of Twenty-nine Palms, California. Then from there I went to Pecos, Texas, for basic and flew the BT-I3s which we called the Maytag washers.


BB:  Okay. Yeah, I flew those.


BVA: And the then from B-13s, Pecos, Texas, I was sent to Nebraska, but before that time, I had a stint at Fort Summer, New Mexico. At Fort Summer, we flew UC-78s. They called them Bamboo Bombers.  And that was advanced at that time, and we, that’s where I got my wings in January of 1944, which was the class of 44A.


BB:  Yeah. Well, that must have been multi-engine then.


BV A: That was twin engine .


BB: Yeah. Okay. And, then you wound up in B-17s.


BV A: Yeah. I was hoping to get into fighters. At that time, they were needing bomber pilots, so I was sent from there to Nebraska to pick up my crew. And after I picked up my crew, we went into Salt Lake City which was a 10-day staging area prior to our going overseas. And at that time, I was flying the B-17s, and they sent our crew and myself across, and we landed 1 day after D Day.


BB:  I was getting (?) then.


BV A: Landed in Scotland and then on to our base.


BB:  Right. You flew your own plane over.


BV A: Flew our own plane over.  Never had flown over any kind of water before. And all we were prepared, each of our had a 45 hand gun. That’s all we had.  And we didn’t fly with a group of planes. We were on our own to fly it. And after we got into Scotland, then we were sent from Scotland on to our base which was called Moles Worth Army Air Base, an air base really. And that’s about, near Bedford, which was about 25,30 miles from Bedford, England.  The 8th Air Force.


BB:  So you were flying bombing runs to Berlin, and


BVA: Had 35 missions. When I first arrived over there, it was 25 missions, and then they went up to 30, and it went to 35.  We got our 35 missions in, but on our 31st mission, we were shot down.  We were hit with some of the first jets that came out of the Luethhofer We were hit over Luxembourg, and we crash landed in Paris after Patton’s troops had just gone through.  And we had thrown everything out of our plane to be sure that we would stay aloft. We had some P-30 escorts and got us into (?) Airport in Paris. We had lost two engines and also lost our brake fluid.  So, when we crash landed, our tail gunner pulled out his parachute at the end of the tail so it would slow it down, and we did slow it down enough just to slide off the, barely off the end of the run way.


BB: I’ll be darn.


BVA: Patton’s troops had just gone through, and there were still snipers on the field. So we crawled on our belly for about a quarter of a mile to get to the tower, and we got up to the tower, and here was Dinah Shore to greet us.


BB: I’ll be darn.


BV A: So, we stayed there in Paris for a week, and the American Embassy kept trying to get us, some way to get us back over to England, and we didn’t have anything but our flight suits and so finally I asked for permission to speak to the Colonel at the base there, and there was no, I think it was C-47, called the Big Guppie I think they called it, and I asked for permission if they weren’t going to do anything, if I could get permission to fly myself and my crew back over to England across the channel. And it took 2 days for him to make up his mind. And after he made up his mind, I wandered, we wandered around Paris for a while, and we were confronted one night by the Free French who were in control at that time and by a, looked like a German, they took a shot at him, and we happened to have our uniforms on, our flight uniforms on. But anyway, he allowed us to fly back, so I took off and flew our crew back over across the water to England. That’s how we got back.


BB: Good. Okay. Well, let’s get to the transition into square dancing Bob.


BV A: Square dancing started in 1947 with me. I was at that time, the recreation leader for the city of Long Beach in charge of a 28 acre park which was called Halpin Park. We had a community building there, and the community building was very nice size hall. My first start was with a, actually, was, I had a bingo night scheduled but hardly anybody did show up, so I said, well, come back next week. I know there’s a square dance record in the back shelf in one of the closets, and I didn’t know what square dancing was, and I had an amplifier with a turn table on top. I can’t remember the name of the turn table. So, we decided, well, we’ll try it. So, the name of the record was by Ed Durlacher.


BB: All right.


BV A: And it was Take a Little Peak.  We studied that for at least 2 hours that night, and it took all of the 2 hours for us to learn what we were doing, and we had about 25 people, 25 or 30 people that night. We had such a good time, and I knew nothing about what I was doing; now that was in 1947. And then I said, well, let me see what else I can do. So I told them all to come back the following week and bring their friends. Well, I had close to 90 to 100 people the next night. I said, oh, gee, what am I going to do now. I need help. So I turned the record over, and it was, let’s see, I think it was Duck for the Oyster, Duck for the Clam, (?) the Old Tin Can.  Well, we worked another 2 hours with all these people.  And they had such a good time, And they wanted come back next week, well, I didn’t have any records, I only had that one record, So, I found out there was a plumber who I’d heard had called square dancing in Oklahoma, So I contacted him, and I said, I need help. So will you come over and teach me as well as teach the people how to square dance, and I’ll pay you $5 an hour.  So he accepted it, and he came over for about 3 months, and I was watching what he was doing, and I was checking out see what he was trying to work with the calls and everything. In the meantime, I was making coffee for the people and sweeping the floor after the dance  and everything. So after 3 months, well one night he came up with the flu, and we were doing this every Tuesday night, and we were having about 120 to 150 people there now.  So, I said, well, I’m going to try it.  So I went over to his house, and I picked up his records, and we had the old turntable, and he used my old turntable which belonged to the park.  And so, I started in. And I started calling. Started teaching. Really not knowing what I was doing yet you know. But I was following what he had taught me, and that’s the way I got started into square dancing. Now it progressed from there with the recreation department It became so large that we had to move out of Halpin Park into Pan American Park which Bob Osgood visited one night.  And we were giving, I think we were giving 8 or 10 weeks, it could have been 12 at the most, and we would have 50 squares from 7 o’clock until 9 o’clock, and then from 9 o’clock to 11 o’clock, we would have the intermediates come on, and they would have another 50 squares, and we were charging them, I’m guessing, maybe a buck, or two bucks each, and people thought I was just making a whole lot of money because (?) all these people, and all I was doing was taking the afternoon off from my regular job with the recreation department to actually teach that night.  Well, we didn’t make a lot of money, of course, at that price, but we actually made enough. (?) we were serving refreshments and coffee as well with that money. So it got to where we were having a hundred squares in one night.  So from there is where we started after so long a time, I think my first square dance club was organized in 1947. They were called the Fairs and Squares, and they were from the beginners’ class which I had had. I just talked to Bob Baxter who calls for them now in Long Beach, and they’re having their 50th anniversary this coming month.  They wanted to know if I would come back. And I said, are you kidding. I’ll come. And, so that’s the way I started, and I ended up having 50 squares, I mean having the Fairs and Squares.  Then I organized another group which was called the Whirlaways, and then I had the Haylofters, then I had the Square and Star, then we had one club that lasted for about 3 months because the hall was taken away from us. But those clubs have all gone by the waste side except Fairs and Squares.


BB: Right. Before we get too far away, Bob, do you remember the caller’s name that came in to help you, the plumber?


BV A: Danny, Danny is all I can remember.  That’s his first name was Danny. But he was never a professional in any way.  He just called in Oklahoma.  Just as part of a country western night or something like that.  He had no experience.


BB: All right, then


BV A: Danny Daniels.


BB: Danny Daniels, okay. So, well you became an overnight caller then, like somebody handed you the mike and say go to it.


BVA: That’s right.


BB: Right. Most people, of course, start out dancing for a year or 2 and learn how to dance and then start to call, but


BV A: I learned at the same time.


BB: Yes.


BV A: I learned to dance while he was calling


BB: Right.


BV A: But learning at the same time to call.


BB: Well, that’s great. Well, we, then when did you get together with guys like Osgood and Kronenberger?


BV A: Well, let’s see. I think Arnie started calling in 1948, and I met Bob and Arnie about 1949, I’m guessing.  Something like that, when they were holding classes up in the Hollywood area.  And the reason I happen to know them, because if I recall, Bob called me one day and heard I was recording for Les Gotcher.  And I true, that was my first recording. I did a, two records for Les Gotcher on Black Mountain Records.  And that was, Just Because and Why Don’t You Haul Off and Do Paso.  It was a 78 label, 78 RPM. And we got into a conversation, and I became acquainted with Bob at that time, and with Arnie. And Arnie and I did some calling stints together. I don’t think I ever really called a full dance with Bob.  But Arnie and I did. And then, Bob asked me to serve on the staff at Asilomar, but I can’t tell you the date (?)  I served on the staff about 23 years.  But I can’t remember (?)


BB: Well, were you part of that big, huge big dance they had in, wasn’t it Long Beach?


BV A: I knew of it, but I wasn’t invited.  At that time, I was not well known to any degree.  I knew about it, and, but I was not part of it.  And, Bob, to me, was, as far as I was concerned, he was the editor and owner of Sets in Order.  I knew him from that. And then, about 1950, I was asked by McGregor Records to start recording for them. Mr. McGregor was still alive and Mrs. McGregor, and Ed Lawry was the general manager, and Frank Machino was my head manager.  And Frank Machino was my head man on music with his accordion, and I recorded something like 130 records for McGregor, and two albums, and at that time, we were given a royalty and were paid for doing it. I don’t know whether they’re doing that now or not. I have no idea. But it got to the place where I was having to record almost one a month, and they were asking me, I had to keep, well, as you well realize, Bob, that’s difficult to record one a month and get the music made.  Get the dub, have to go back to the dancers and try it out, write a figure, and go for there.  But Frank Machino, I will say, and he’s still being heard on my regular records, was one of the most excellent musicians I ever worked with. And I worked with a lot of them. I worked with Joe Mayfis, who was an instrumentalist; Buddy Merrill, who was with Lawrence Welk’s band; Neil (?), who was with Lawrence Welk’s band; I worked with, oh, we had one of the drummers one night from Jack Benny’s group; and, but he didn’t wear ear phones for tempo, and we speeded up four beats per second which we didn’t know until after the record came out.  We recorded 128, and I think we ended up with 130 or 32.


BB: Well, Bob Osgood keeps talking about Bunky.


BV A: Oh, yeah.


BB: Bunky was what, a fiddler?


BVA: Yeah.  And then, I worked with Jack and Lynette. They were just a piano and a fiddle.  And then I worked with, used to call out of Sunny Hills Barn in (?), California. It had a huge big wood floor, packing house which they made into a square dance hall. And at that time, I, gosh, I can’t remember the band name, but they recorded on the Sunny Hills label.  And we had some great 50, 60, 70 squares out there, every weekend down there. Then I recorded, after, well, Mr. McGregor passed away, he was going to sell the company, so Ed Lawry, the general manger, I think, I honestly think, bought out Windsor, or at least he went over to Windsor.  So he asked me if I would come over to Windsor and record over there, and I said, I will if I can take the guys who recorded with me. So I took Don Stewart, Bill Ball, Chuck Railey, and myself.  And the four of us went over there, and we did some recording over there. And then Ed, well, he didn’t keep all his promises. So, in between that time, I ended up recording for a man who owned a record company called Marlinda. Marlinda was something else. It was in a machine shop, and every time the machinery would stop, we’d have to stop recording. Then I went to word for a man named Bill (?), started a record company called Lucky Records. And when he passed away, his wife asked me if I would continue the Lucky Records label in his behalf. So I took it on for a year.  So I had Lucky. And then I recorded for TNT, one or two for Elmer Shefield’s ESP.  And then I did one for Red Boot with Don. So I’ve had all those (?) recording.


BB: Right. Well, that’s quite an experience for a recording life. You mentioned that you had recorded with Jerry Helt.


BV A: Jerry and I were on McGregor to start with in 1950.  Jerry, we both, I think that was our first recording experience for both of us.  And in the mean time, I put out children’s, a singing calls, and it was for Bomar Records, and it was really done for just fifth, sixth, and seventh grades, and we did this one it first came out when the 45’s were coming out. We were doing 45’s. So I took Frank Machino and some of the boys over there.  And we recorded three albums, singing call one, two, and three. And then, also they made them into long plays. And then before that, but I have a hard time remembering, Bob, I did a 78 album with the Schottisch, Heel and Toe Polka,  Varsouvienne, you know, some of those.  And I still have some of those copies.


BB: Right. Well, that’s great.  Along this time, you must have bumped into Fenton Jones.


BV A: Oh, yeah. Yeah, Fenton was, well, he was kind of our idol to a certain extent at that time, you know. In fact, I was the one who presented Fenton with the Milestone Award at Callerlab.


BB: Were you. Okay.


BVA: And I think they still carry Fenton’s, I was looking through the record of Callerlab here last week, and I can’t remember what it is, but they still carry on McGregor label, one that he recorded (?).


BB: How about Sets in Order? Any of their promotion records?


BVA: Yes. I did, let’s see, I did a promotion record, well, you know, they would have a bunch of callers call. I did about five or six of those.  And then Bob asked if I would do basic, Flippo would do Mainstream, and Seastrom would do Advanced. No, Seastrom would do Plus, and then, can’t think who did Advanced. But he put those out.  And those went, those went pretty well, too.


BB: Right. So, well, going back to Les Gotcher, that was way back when (?) mountain, and


BV A: I don’t know whether, I could tell people about that now, and they wouldn’t even know what I was talking about.  And he was starting his note service at that time.


BB: Oh, just about that time.


BVA: And that’s where he and Bob


BB: Yeah. We have two complete sets of his note service.


BV A: Do you really?


BB: At the archives, yes.


BV A: I still have some of his singing call records on 78.


BB: Singing calls?


BVA: Singing calls.


BB: You’ve got to be kidding.


BV A: Terrible. Laughter.


BB: Oh, I guess they are, right. That’s why I thought he had you come and do singing calls.


BVA: He did two or three, then I still have his 78s, where it’s hash.  Of course, hash to me, I didn’t know what hash was at that time until Les came in the picture.  And then with Helsel, we, Lee and I called a lot of dances together. And then we had a group that would go to Richmond every year. And it was Lee Helsel, Arnie Kronenberger, Bruce Johnson, and myself.  The four of us would go to dances each year and they’d sell a hundred squares. And that was an excellent dance because all of us had different personalities, different type of calling techniques.  But that’s been, oh, a long time ago.


BB: Well, tell us about your affiliation with Callerlab.


BVA: Well, with Callerlab, as you already know from Bob’s comments, that he took the Hall of Famers, and I think there was 11, I don’t have my notes with me. Eleven or 12, that we met at Asilomar February 1971, I believe it was.  I’m fairly close.  And at that time, after we met, we decided that we were going to have to continue on with it, so the group asked Bob, who was really putting up his Sets in Order building as our office and paying the expenses we were (?).  So there was Lee Helsel and Arnie, Bob, and myself; they asked us if we’d be kind of like the executive committee on this, to spearhead this.  So, I can remember, I was in Long Beach, and Arnie was in the Los Angeles area, and Lee was working as, in the Los Angeles Parks and Recreation at that time. So the four of us would meet up there when and if we would get together, and we would discuss (?). So that’s where we really got started with Callerlab and that was the beginning of Callerlab. And I know Bob has told you, and other people have told you, where it progressed and how he invited different people to join that.  So that’s where,  and I had to be chairman for two terms, and


BB: Well, you’ve been on the board.


BVA: I was the board a long time. I just said, well no, as far as I’m concerned, I still feel there’s a great need to bring new blood to the organization.  But I don’t believe in bringing all new blood at the same time. I think you have to have some of the people who are stallers who have been there to kind of guide the other people.  But I had a good board. I was very pleased, and at that time, we didn’t have the money that Callerlab has.  And my last year was ’85, and the money they are now getting from the membership that they have, and most of us coming from, paying for this record royalties that we have with BMI and


BB: Yeah, ASCAP.


BVA: ASCAP, and, but I don’t know, we made it, and it was a difficult time, but we made it.


BB: Well, a lot of things start on a shoe string, of course, and, I imagine Sets in Order was that way when it first started out, I don’t know.


BV A: I’m sure.


BB: The first issue, they passed out thousands of copies, and they did it at that big Long Beach festival.  That was the beginning of it.


BVA: Yeah. Bob and I, and Bob, and Becky, and Roberta, and I, we’ve had very close association ­well, since at least, ’48 or ’49, at that time, Becky (?).  And, so in 1962, Bob asked if Roberta and I would go along with he and Becky, and we called it the American Square Dance Workshop which, our first group, I think we had 125 people (?). And on that trip was Chuck and Dottie Johns, you know Chuck.


BB: Sure.


BVA: (?) the head man of cartoons for Warner Brothers for years.  And, so we had, after that, we had, counting it, we had nine trips, and we always take care ­go to five countries, and in these five countries, we’d stay in one city maybe for 3, 1,2, or 3 nights.  I mean in a certain city. Then after that, we had dances in many locations. We had, we were in Tokyo twice, in ’64 and ’68, I believe we were in Tokyo.  And we had dances in Bangkok, Thailand; we had dances in Norway, we had dances in all, in England twice, and we made a lot of nice friends in foreign countries. In fact, Tak Asaki, in 1964, was just starting to call when we were in Tokyo.  And I still have the tape of that dance.


BB: Oh, do you really.


BV A: When I called, and I was trying to be so distinct, this was before a lot of the other guys were calling over there.  I was being sure my enunciation was a right and left through, pass through, you turn back, until one Japanese caller came up one night,  that evening and says, “Mr. Van Antwerp, when are you going to call Circulate”. Well, Circulate was written by a real (?), Chuck Revy.  And, but we enjoyed Tokyo. We enjoyed Switzerland. We had dances in Switzerland twice. All were just wonderful opportunities to spread the word of square dancing.  We didn’t have a dance in Turkey, Istanbul, we were just aboard ship. But I can remember being aboard ship and docking, and I can’t remember where it was exactly, but I can remember us dancing on a ship where the people along the wharf could see us, and we drew quite a crowd. We had no micro, we had a microphone or we didn’t have any music.  So I called with a megaphone to about a hundred dancers on the, aboard ship with just a microphone, and they danced, and, I can remember funny incidences where we were in (?), Yugoslavia. They let us dance in the lobbies, so we always dressed in our nice, best wear. I can remember standing on a chair holding a tape recorder with my music on it, a hand-held tape recorder with music, and I was calling without a microphone.  Of course, one of the funny experiences, I dropped through the chair while I was calling. So different experiences, different countries; New Zealand, Australia, and, Bob and Becky were just real great people to be with, I mean, we enjoyed our association as we still do today.


BB: Right. Going back to Circulate, I was listening to Red Warrick’s tape of the interview I had with him, and he said, he came up with a call which was exactly the same thing only he called it rotate.


BV A: Oh, is that right.


BB: But rotate wound up going by the boards, and Circulate was the one that stayed.  And he also did, he invented Snaparoo.


BVA: That’s to the Star Thru, huh.


BB: Yeah. Well, he told me about that controversy, and they wound up with Star Thru.


BV A: Frank Lane, he stuck with Snaparoo for a long time.


BB:  Long time, right. So, well getting off square dancing; Well, before our tape clicked off, and I stopped to turn it over, we were just saying what about hobbies in your lifetime.


BVA: I think my major hobby has been square dancing because we have been so involved all our life. Sure I played golf, being in the recreation field, I had a huge department in Long Beach.  We had about a $7 million budget, and I had about 300 employees, and we helped build the first Olympic pool which was called Belmont Plaza in Long Beach while I was there.  And where they had the pre-Olympics there at one time. We built four tennis courts for Billy Jean King. Billy Jean, we taught to play tennis in our program. So we built those courses to dedicate to her, and she and, with her husband at that time, they came back for the celebration, and we had that responsibility. I spent 30 years in the recreation field in Long Beach, and I was going to spend 2 more years which would increase my income, but they were going, they were considering putting the Queen Mary in my department.  So this helped me decide to retire.  So I went up to the city manager, and I told him, I said, I don’t want the responsibility of this ship.  I mean, it’s had its troubles, and it’s still going to have troubles, he says, we’re going to give you a nice increase. And I said, sir, I don’t want the increase, I’m going to retire.  I had nine city councilmen and nine city commissioners to report to, and I met with the ­my commission twice a month, and I took care of the agenda for that. We had a very extensive agenda as far as we had the city manger, a city council member, we had the superintendent of schools, and we had one of the board members, plus we had five lay people, and one of them was executive secretary of the Professional Baseball Players Association of America.  And then we had four other people, and, but we had a very, and they had a lot of power.  More power than over the city council because in the city charter, it gave us more power than the city council in regards to Parks and Recreation.


BB: Oh, right, that’s interesting. So. Okay, well let’s, one of the things that’s not a controversy but there is discussion going around in the activity now about costuming. And some people are feeling we are over dressed, some people are feeling we should maintain the square dance costuming and the big square dance dresses and so forth. What’s your opinion?


BVA: I personally feel that we have gone too far and our callers have not exerted their leadership in allowing the dancers to tell the callers what they, how they will dress, personally. I think that dress in the square dance activity is part of square dancing.

I, for one, do not appreciate going to any kind of an activity, square dancing and seeing people wearing shorts or slacks. I know it’s (?), but my wife, to this day, after 54 years of marriage, still has slips and square dance dresses.  And I still think that is part of the activity, to be dressed accordingly as a square dancer.  And I, even they’re doing, I know they’re using this in some of the retirement communities where they can come in any way they want to. I would have a mixed feeling. For example if they’ve come into a morning workshop for an hour, hour and a half, I don’t think I would be as a complainer as much as I would for an evening dance.


BB: Right. That seems to be the opinion of most people now. Here’s a profound question, and I’ve been asking everybody I talk with, where do you think square dancing has been and where do you think it is now. Where do you think it might be going, and this is kind of an overview of your experience.


BV A: Well, I think from, you were in my session the other day at Callerlab, you probably heard how I felt.  I really feel like that, and I have to agree with Arnie, and Lee, and Bob, because we all stipulated that we’ve taken the fun out of square dancing. I think that we have gone too far in actually pressing our dancers to become higher echelon of their dance experience which to me is not what we intended to start with. Now I’m not saying that people, you shouldn’t give them an opportunity to dance a different level.  But, whenever the caller stresses this to his dancers for his benefit, not theirs, it’s wrong.  The callers have got to realize that he is there to please and serve those dancers and not let the dancers tell him what his leadership role is.  So, I,  where are we going from here? I only hope that we will get back to an established list.

If you want to take a few movements out of the Plus list and add them to some of the basics, fine. The ones that are popular that the dancers enjoy, let them dance those. I think that’s all right. But, as I said in one of my sessions, in 1 year, I counted 38 changes, deletions, elimination, etc., 38 in 1 year’s time.  That’s too many. The dancers, they say, they can’t make up their mind.  So my feeling is that if we get something established, I think they’re working on this from what I heard at CallerIab, leave it alone. Ha, leave it alone. We didn’t have any problems way back in the ’50s and ’60s, there was no problem because we weren’t trying to push people out, we wanted them to be with us.


BB: Right. Well, Callerlab ended just a couple of days ago, and in their final meeting, they proposed a resolution that they are going to go back to the 49 basics, the basic program as we know it and to stress that and really attempt to keep people dancing at that level until they are ready to move up and not push them before they’re ready to move up. Some people are saying that, some callers are, well, said, well people, they want the challenge, they want to advance, and so forth, and they get bored with the lower level things, and I think it was Don Armstrong that said, well, it’s not the dancers that are bored, it’s the callers that are bored.


BV A: I agree with Don.  And besides, you can take our basic and mainstream, and make an interesting dance, that keeps them on their toes for 2 and a half hours.  But the callers have become lazy.  They’ve got to work on these things.  And the way they think they can get by is by adding different things to the echelon of the dance.


BB: Absolutely, right.


BV A: So this is why I’m very opposed to, in fact, I was the one who was very instrumental in starting the community dance program when I was chairman.  And right now, although I don’t call for a club regular, because I decided after 47 years, 48 years, 49 at that time, I decided it was time to not carry those record cases in snow and everything like that, but to take 1 night stands, and this is what I’m doing. And I love to go to a 1-night stand.


BB: I do to.


BV A: Because of the excitement that you generate.  And that’s what we should be generating every time we walk into a club.


BB: Yeah. Well, one of the things I’ve found, though, Bob, if you enjoy 1-night stands, don’t move to Connecticut now. I had a nice clientele of 1-night stands, people I worked for, usually regularly, and I moved to Albuquerque and it’s all gone.


BV A: Oh, really.


BB: Oh, yeah. Well, you know, I have no contacts in Albuquerque.


BVA: Well, that’s right.


BB: I had never thought about it. And, so stay where you are.


BV A: What about the recreation department in Albuquerque.


BB: Yeah. I’m going to be checking with them and so forth, but


BV A: They’re always looking for new kind of programs.


BB: Right, yeah. And I want to get together with the University of New Mexico, student activities people, too. But I’ve been out of calling for so long, and, but, be that as it may. One of the other profound questions I’ve been asking people is, do you have any regrets, anything you wish that you had done differently in your career.


BV A: No. I don’t think so, Bob. I think that I came up in a good era. My experiences in square dancing has been wonderful to me. I have made thousands and thousands of friends. I feel like I could go into any state in the Union and not have a dollar and call up a square dancer or a caller, I used to be able to, and I’d have a, I’d have a hot meal and a place to stay and everything like that.  So, but I think I worry about our activity, Bob, to the extreme I think that, and I said this in my panel the other day, I feel like we have forgotten that we are supposed to be leaders and not followers.  And too many of our callers are coming into the activity real quick because they see the dollar signs in their eyes, and they want to get rich quick, and you know you’re not going to get rich quick. And they want to be like the prominent callers, and so they, they’re rushing themselves, but at the same time, they’re rushing the dancers.  That’s my personal


BB: Right. What have you found over your life time, what do you think is the appeal, what was, what did you find fun about calling?


BV A: About calling?


BB: Yeah.


BVA: The excitement of seeing the people’s faces, the smiles on their faces, and I, we used to hear them hoop and holler.  And it got to the place where I didn’t hear this during the last year of my calling for a club.  They’d give a nice hand and applause, but it seemed like the excitement was gone. I felt that, I can remember going into one of my clubs in Long Beach, and there would already be maybe 80, or 70, 75, or 80 people there before I even got there.  I would always have people who were willing to come out and help me carry my equipment in, carry it out. They could hardly wait to get started. And I haven’t called enough, I mean club dances, in the last 3 or 4 years to really know what is being done now.  But it was excitement that I got out of being up there.


BB: Right. Well, Bob, we’ve covered a myriad of topics here in this hour or so. And,  unless you have any other thoughts, I think we’re getting down near the end of this tape.


BVA: Well, I don’t think I can add, I can just say to you that, knowing you and your brother, AI, and what you did back in the East, and I regret that I was not able to, actually, the only time that I ever called with Al was at the Washington Festival


BB: Okay, in Washington, DC.


BVA: Washington, DC, right. And I can just remember flying back. Jim Mayo flew me into Boston. I left here on a morning, flew into Boston, did an afternoon workshop and a night dance, and flew home the same night, and went to work at 8 0′ clock the next morning. But see, I didn’t do this on a full-time basis like many callers did.  I still had a job to do, a 40-hour a week job to do, but I still enjoyed the opportunity to take what I could, but I never did want to be a traveling caller.  I never wanted to live out of a suitcase.  And, that’s


BB:  Yeah, I don’t know how Flippo does it.


BVA: I don’t either. I told Flip, I told Stan Burdick the other night in the elevator, I said, Stan, every time I read your article in the square dance magazine, I’m completely bushed. I can’t even (?). I have to take a rest. I have to see what he says. I’m slowing down, Bob, I’m slowing down.  But, it’s been good for me, and I have to give Osgood a lot of credit for, he was really the mentor of many guys and where square dancing is today.  And he calls me about once every 2 or 3 weeks, and we chat.  And we’re just like the ladies’ aides society, we talk and talk.  But it’s done a lot for me, I can say that.


BB: Right. Well, this has been very interesting, and I know you’ve made a tremendous contribution to the activity, Bob, and the square dance world thanks you very much, and I certainly thank you for taking the time to sit down today and put these thoughts down on tape. So, as I’ve been saying, well, I’ll jump back in the car and get on down the road. I’m going to go see Bill Peters here in a few minutes. And, so thank you very much for taking the time, Bob.


BV A: Thank you for you asking me.

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