Cocke, Enid

Photo Cocke

Enid Cocke

November 11, 1997

Bob Brundage: Today is November 11, 1997, and today I am in Manhattan, Kansas, and enjoying a very pleasant visit with Enid Cocke, who is currently president of the Lloyd Shaw Foundation. And we’re here to learn a little bit about Enid’s life. So tell us Enid, about your early days, your family and especially your relationship with Pappy Shaw and so forth.

Enid Cocke: Okay. I remember square dancing as far as back as I remember anything.  When I was, uh, I was born in Colorado Springs, where, of course, my grandparents lived and when I was about 1 year old, my parents moved to Boise, Idaho. My dad took a job as head of the biology department at Boise Junior College and quite frankly, one reason he left Colorado Springs was so that he could stop being Lloyd Shaw’s son-in-law and could be his own person.  Talk about the long shadow of Lloyd Shaw. It was a little hard living right next to it, no reflection on my Granddad, but my father simply wanted his own life, And his own sphere of influence. So, my earliest memories are in Boise, Idaho, and as a pre­schooler, I can remember that my parents were actively involved in square dancing. This would be in the late ’40s, and they got dressed up in their square dance clothes and my mother in her long skirts, on a regular basis and went out square dancing.  A lot of activity in the Boise valley. A lot of their close friends and their social connections in those days were square dancers, and, and some of the nicest people in the – the people I remember from my pre-school years were square dancers callers like Mel Day, Jerry Long, Roland (?), Ross and Penny Crispino.

BB: Oh, I remember them.

EC: Yes. Who I think stayed active for a very long time. And they all lived, at some point, in the Boise valley, no necessarily in Boise, but in the near-by towns.  And one event that I do remember and that was as a pre-schooler was when Les Gotcher came to town.  And even as a pre-schooler, I sensed and I overheard my parents saying this was a very controversial caller. And they went to some big festival that he was conducting, and he was very flamboyantly dressed. He had a purple outfit and white fringe. But he certainly brought a lot of people out in Boise. And my father was a square dance caller, and he, I think organized a square dance club on the campus of the local college where he taught. And I also remember that the socializing that went along with the square dancing involved helping people build outdoor fireplaces on their patios. And I remember evening dances on people’s patios. You know, just one single square. And then, of course, there were the times when my grandparents came to visit. And that certainly gathered all the local callers together who came and, wanted to visit with my Granddad.  Whenever my grandparents came to visit, life simply got – went up a notch.  The excitement, everything seemed more exciting, a little more special, simply because they were there, and they, they had that quality about them as people. My Granddad loved to drive, and all the time I knew him, he drove an Olds 98, and I remember going on rides. We would go on rides out in the country, and my Grandfather loved to go fast, and he loved to pass cars, and my brother, who was 3 years older, he and I would say, pass him, Granddaddy.  And my grandfather would accelerate and zoom around some car on the highway, and my Grandmother would sit there nervously saying, Oh, Lloyd.

BB: Okay. Did you ever get involved with Cheyenne Mountain Dancers?

EC: I did not. I do recall one vacation, one family vacation, when we went back to Colorado Springs, at a time when the summer classes were still being held at Cheyenne School.  And I remember, once again as a small child, pre-school, going into the gymnasium and seeing the classes in action but from my perspective simply recognizing it as a lot of people square dancing.  So I, I unfortunately have no recollections first hand of my Grandfather teaching or leading as a square dance caller or as a teacher at the summer classes.

BB: Okay. Well, there’s certainly many, many people who became well known in the business because of the Cheyenne Mountain Dancers and because of Pappy’s summer school sessions that he had. I attended myself in 1954. I understand that at one time, just before he passed away, he had actually gotten up to three sessions a summer, I think.

EC: I believe that’s right.

BB: I think the people listening to this tape might be interested in making a connection of your actual relationship with Pappy.

EC: Oh, he’s my Grandfather; my Grandparents had two children, Doli and David.  My mother was Doli Shaw and then she married my dad and became Doli Shaw Obey, and that’s my maiden name.  And their son, David, died of rheumatic fever when he was 6 or 7 years old, so my mother was their only surviving child.

BB: I see. All right. And you mentioned you have a brother.

EC: I have a brother named Kent who, uh, now lives in my Grandparent’s house in Colorado Springs.

BB: Is he involved in dancing at all?

EC: Not at all.

BB: Isn’t that interesting.

EC: Not at all. He’s somebody who loves to listen to music but didn’t get the dancing and music producing genes.  And he has really kept his distance from it.

BB: Uh, huh, okay. Well, tell us now about your personal experiences. I know as the years have went along, you’ve been involved in teaching of square dances, and calling and so forth. Tell us a little about that.

EC: Well, the great epiphany for me was the year I was 15 years old. We had had an understanding with my Grandparents that when my brother and then I reached 15 that we would, each of us individually, be able to go to Colorado Springs and spend part of the summer with our Grandparents.  Well, when my brother was 15, my Grandfather was still alive, and so he went and visited them and they traveled around the state and did various things. And by the time I reached the age of 15, my Grandfather was no longer there.  But my Grandmother definitely wanted to honor the commitment and said absolutely you will come and spend some time with me this summer. And that was the summer of 1960. And what I did was visit in August when the Lloyd Shaw summer class or that remnant that continued after the big summer classes of the ’40s and ’50s. The year that my Grandfather died, he died in July, on July 18, and

BB: ’58, I think.

EC: In ’58, right. And as I say, I didn’t know these people at that time, but I know the story that they all said to my Grandmother, we’re coming again in August when their scheduled fellowship time was. And she said, yes I want you to come. It was by mutual consent, I think. And so, I then turned up 2 years later in 1960, when this was still going on, and there was this wonderful nucleus of teachers and dance leaders. And I was simply overwhelmed. I had not personally experienced a lot of dancing up until that point, and I certainly had not experienced it on that level. I had experienced it at Girl Scout meetings and in phys ed classes and things like that. And here, suddenly, I think Becky Osgood once referred to my training and dance as sort of an angle’s hair existence, where I had this beautiful sheltered existence where I walked into the La Semilla, the little dance hall on my Grandparent’s property and here were Deanna Fresh and Carlotta Hegemann and Don Armstrong, Bob Howell and a whole roomful of wonderful leaders and dancers. Kirby Todd being another very important figure in my life. And, and the one who really took me in hand was Muriel Curd Smith from Wichita, who was a teacher through and through. And I had the experience of getting up and being pulled through my first square dance and thinking it was the most wonderful thing that had ever happened to me. And Muriel was the one who was willing to take me aside and, and spend the lunch hours teaching me how to waltz, how to do a two step, how to do the basic steps, and the mechanics of leading and following, and so on. And I was, I just thought it was the most wonderful thing that had ever happened to me, and I loved it so much. But it was a 1­week a year thing.  There was this 1 week in paradise and then back to Boise, Idaho, and back to high school and all of those things, and back the next summer. The thing that really, really influenced my dancing was when I went off to college, at Scripts College in Claremont, California, and I enrolled in modern dance classes.  And those classes created a whole different kind of dancing for me. It put me in touch with my body and put me in touch with natural movement, and I brought all of that with me the next time we had the fellowship.  And suddenly dancing was just ecstasy. It was such a joy to, to do folk dancing with the additional dance training that I had gotten with modern dance.

BB: So you actually started teaching then primarily folk dances at that time.

EC: That’s true that’s when I was a sophomore in college.  I discovered a really wonderful and vibrant folk dance group that was going on in Claremont, California, and the first night I went, some, some nice fellows asked me to dance and because I knew how to waltz, and two step, and polka, and Schottisch, and all of those things I was invited to join their exhibition team that first night.  And I jumped into it with both feet. I loved it. So, yes, through college I did exhibition folk dancing. I took a course at Cal State, LA, on teaching folk dancing. Met Bob Ruff there. He did the square dance section of that course.  After college, Lou and I, well I met Lou in the folk dance group, and we got married immediately after college. As soon after graduation day as we could manage the logistics, and then Lou and I went off to France for 2 years. We lived in Strasbourg, France, where we didn’t do much dancing at all. But then we came back to Manhattan, Kansas, and I did indeed start teaching folk dancing at that time. We did try the local square dance group. There was a campus square dance club.  This was in 1969, but after my Lloyd Shaw dance exposure, I just found it very inadequate.  The format of that square dance was something I had never experienced before which was simply do a tip of squares, sit down and take a break, do a tip of squares, sit down and take a break. And I couldn’t believe we weren’t going to do any round dancing, there were no contras, there was nothing like that. And I asked the caller, when are you going to teach some round dancing. And he pulled out a really boring mixer to Allison’s Restaurant. And we tried that maybe for four or five times and decided that it just wasn’t for us. It simply didn’t offer the satisfaction that we thought went with dancing. So we, we couldn’t make it in the then contemporary square dance world.

BB: Okay. So I’m not sure what is your job these days, today, as a matter of fact.

EC: Oh, you mean my day job.

BB: Yeah, right.

EC: Right. I’m Director of the English Language Program at Kansas State University.  I run a program that teaches intensive English to the international students who come to the university.

BB: So you’ve really been in teaching all your life, primarily, or all your adult life.

EC: Well, yes, we had our children, and I did the mommy thing for some years, but when I did get into earning a living, that’s exactly what I did. I gravitated into teaching.

BB: Right. So, what has been your dancing experience since that time. In other words, did you evolve some local clubs,  or dance groups yourself.

EC: Yes, with, with friends. I found some kindred spirits here in Manhattan, and for quite a few years, we taught international folk dancing, and for quite a few years, I offered international folk dance classes through a free university that we have here. And it’s amazing, those classes used to get 60 registrants back in the 1970s, and today, if you offered the same class, you’d be really lucky to get 10.  For some reason that was popular then. People embraced it, and in the same way, it’s just not right now. But I also had wanted to develop my skills in calling contras. And Don Armstrong always says, well, the way to learn how to do something is to go teach it. And it had a good turn-out, and I certainly learned a lot from doing that. I started out using recorded music, and contra dancing was beginning to take off 8 or 9 years ago. And Lou and I were gone 1 year on a sabbatical in Germany, and when I came back, I discovered that other people had started some contra dancing with live music. And I participated in that ever since, and that’s where we are right now. We have a monthly contra dance with a variety of different callers. I take my turn, but others also call. And we have a variety of bands that we can call on. So, it’s, it’s a very friendly, folksy, kind of thing where we can always accommodate newcomers and where we’re open to anybody who wants to come, and where people can come without a partner.  So, it’s an open kind of thing, and we do contras, of course, but we do some traditional type squares or New England type squares, we do some mixers, we do some traditional round dances.

BB: Okay. Well, that was going to be my next question. What balance of the program currently going now, goes into the traditional squares and so forth? I guess at one time, back in your folk dance experience, didn’t the folk dancers usually as a break would do a square dance once in a while?

EC: Some of them did, and in Southern California, where we started folk dancing, they would do it, uh, depending on the group, some of them were quite snobbish. Some of them felt that anything international was really authentic and legitimate.  And then there was this, this clumsy American stuff.  And in Southern California, we encountered that kind of snobbism about square dancing, and we didn’t, when we were doing international folk dance, we didn’t try to introduce square dancing, but a good friend of ours, Tom Masterson, who leads folk dancing in Boulder, Colorado, has always managed to bring in some, some squares and even some, some round dances like Edelweiss.

BB: I see. That’s interesting. But that gives a pretty good picture of what’s been going on in your life. One thing that’s always concerned me, and I’m sure you’ll give me the right answer in this.  What was the cause of Pappy Shaw’s use of canes?

EC: Oh. Well, it’s interesting. I visited my parents last year, just last year, and I quizzed my mother about the exact history. I’d always known that he’d been in a car accident.  And he was the passenger, and I believe this was in 1928 when he would have been about 38 years old. He was the passenger in a car that got broad sided.  And it’s interesting to realize that medicine was different enough and less sophisticated in those days, and he apparently was semi-conscious, he was bleeding, and he said, take me home. And that was people’s instinct, was to take this man home to die.  And so he was taken home, and he convalesced at home and did not go to a hospital, did not get X-rayed, and he had a very long and painful convalescence. I know he spent some time living south of the Springs in, I don’t know what the location was, but spent some time out of town convalescing, and it was a very slow and painful recovery. But he seemed to get back to normal and then gradually, I would guess, over the succeeding 10 years, he had more and more pain in his hips and, I think it was about 5 years after the accident, he bought a saddle. They rode horses in the summer. He bought a saddle and he bought it from a rodeo rider, and he knew that this was a saddle owned by a professional and that the stirrups and everything else would be exactly the same. And he used this saddle, and he discovered that one stirrup was longer than the other except it wasn’t .  That one leg was longer than the other.  And what had happened is that he had fractured his hips, and it had not been diagnosed. I don’t know to what extent they could have really treated it in those days. Anyway, the thing mended on its own without any surgical or medical correction. And over the years, basically arthritis set in on those, those fractures.  All the time that I knew him, and my recollections would go back to the – I was born in 1945, so my succeeding recollections, you know, say from ’48 on, he always walked very heavily with two canes.  My mother cannot remember quite when he started using the canes. Other people remember him in, as early as, I think, around 1940, relying on the canes. My family told me that by all rights he should have gone into a wheel chakr, but he absolutely refused to do that.

BB: Right. Well, I had heard all kinds of rumors, I heard that he had a mountain climbing accident, but I guess the general gist of any of the rumors is that he was just not properly treated and developed into an unfortunate situation.

EC: Yeah. He did have mountain climbing accidents. He risked his life on mountains, but that is not what caused his crippling condition.

BB: Well, that’s probably a carry-over.

EC: Yeah.

BB: The interesting is that he continued to be a dance teacher even though he never got out on the floor to demonstrate.

EC: No, and some people maintain that that was a reason that he was such a fine teacher is that he had learned to put into words. What he could not demonstrate with his own body. there were a few times when I saw him, when we were talking about dances, he could walk a few steps without the canes, and there were a few times when I would see him get up and try to limp through some figure.

BB: Right. I remember him doing that at the summer school that I attended too, but it was very brief, but I always had a feeling that a lot of teaching, even in dancing, is the ability of the leader to convey what should be done by voice.

EC: Well, then, he managed to do it to very, very large groups of people and for things like round dance teaching, he relied heavily on his Cheyenne Mountain Dancers who came with him. He had them come to the summer classes, and he had them out there demonstrating and he had them breaking up and dancing with the students in the classes so that they could get a feel of what it was like, how it should feel.

BB: Well, I think his interest in contra dancing must have been a little bit limited back in the ’50s.

EC: I think it was the historical program that the Cheyenne Mountain Dancers presented was the whole spectrum, a real historical picture of American dance. And they did things, I think, like Hulls Victory, traditional New England contra dances. Just the same as they did Kentucky running sets and Appalachian dances and so on. And, no, I don’t think there was much in the way of contras, but Don Armstrong says is that the summer my Granddad died, he had said to Don, let’s do lots of contras this summer. And certainly Don is really the one who, who brought contras into those dance classes.  And taught them, explained them, trained other people in the very expert cueing of contras, so we, I see Don rather than my Grandfather as the person who created a very important place in the Lloyd Shaw Dance program for contra dances.

BB: Well, I think Don has inherited this trait of being able to get people through all kinds of things with his voice. One of the things that I’ve noticed – as you know, I’m going to the York, Pennsylvania, weekend again, and last year, I thoroughly enjoyed it, and trying to analyze what he was doing.  He’s getting a lot of not terribly advanced contra dancers through some pretty complicated material and doing it entirely with his voice.

EC: He really has and in the Lloyd Shaw Foundation, Don is the one who, I think, above all, has set a standard for us of very precise, clear, succinct, teaching.

EC: And I think he’s been a major influence in those – what the Lloyd Shaw Foundation thinks about teaching and how we try to teach it to other people.  It’s a very logical very intellectual approach, and what it does is try to teach as efficiently as possible, and I know that’s exactly what my Granddad also was trying to do.

BB: All right, let’s bring us up to date now on the Lloyd Shaw Foundation itself.  After Pappy passed away and then a couple of years later, Dorothy passed away and

EC: No, she died a whole, well, a couple years ago. She, she lived an entire generation longer.

BB: Oh, did she really? I didn’t realize that.

EC: Yes.

BB: I thought she died fairly soon after Pappy died.

EC: No. She really went the distance. He was not quite 68 when he died, and, and my Grandmother was about 93 when she died.  .My children were the same age when she died that I was when my Granddad died.

BB: But what I was getting at was this group that kept meeting, and now they call it the fellowship and this evolved into the foundation.

EC: Yeah, once again Muriel Smith was one of the really significant players in this. Muriel was, uh, so devoted to teaching and so devoted to having dance taught right, and Muriel came to one of the fellowship sessions and said, I see these teachers in school, and they don’t know the dances and they don’t know how to teach, and we really should be helping them. And it was Linda Bradford, or Muriel and John and Linda Bradford, I think, who took the initiative to get the first summer workshop at a university. They made arrangements up at Colorado State University, and they taught two sessions. They taught a session for elementary school teachers and then simultaneously there was another session for secondary and recreation leaders. And I was able to go to help with one of the first ones, and I worked with Bob (?) and Mary Jo Bradford, who was the mother of John Bradford. What we did was workshop a lot of elementary school dances with groups of children of different ages and figure out what, which dances were appropriate for which ages.  And from that was developed an elementary dance kit and at the same time, Don Armstrong and  John Bradford and Muriel Smith were teaching secondary workshops with squares, and rounds, and contras.  And, I’ve been involved in, in many of those university workshops over the years, in the years when we were able to place them in universities.

BB: Well, the primary purpose of the foundation was to get these teaching materials out.

EC: Well, that was the impetus, and it was in 1964, at the fellowship, where people were talking about creating kits, about putting on more university workshops, and my Grandmother said, or somebody said, you know what we are is a foundation. And somebody else said, well, let’s call a lawyer and let’s make it official. And then everybody just went into overdrive that summer.   They were saying, yes, we can, we can train teachers, we already have a recordings company which Lloyd Shaw and Fred Bergen had started. We’ve got recordings, let’s start an archives. Let’s start a place where you can save dance materials, books, records, costumes, everything, so that we, we have a reference branch, a teaching branch, a materials branch,  And so that’s what started, all in 1964.

BB: Well, in 1964 when you first conceived the idea, you know, an archive

EC: Yeah. It really was. There was – my Granddad had a dance library simply because he was crazy about dance, and he had sought out all these resources and so, and he had worked with book shops back East to acquire as many books on dance as he could. So, he had quite a fair library himself. And then the archives really took off when Bill Litchman came. I think he first came in 1969, and Bill was a chemistry professor at the University of New Mexico, but Bill is simply a collector at heart.

BB: I understand that it was Bill Litchman that was the prime mover, or certainly is today, of the archives that are located in Albuquerque. I understand he had quite a collection of material that helped start the archives as such. Is that about right, or am I

EC: Well, Bill has his own personal library called the Dance Away Library which is at his own home.

BB: Yeah. I know this.

EC: And that’s actually separate from the Lloyd Shaw Foundation Archives, and it’s actually also separate from my Grandfather’s collection which I currently am holding here at this house. We had originally thought that my Granddad’s collection would go down to Albuquerque, but then one time I visited Bill, and I realized that he had the great bulk of those materials already.  And I thought, why, why send all of these things down to go into a collection when I’m actively involved in dance, and if this duplicates what he has down there, I think for the time being at least, I’ll keep those books here. And so that’s what I have done.

BB: Well, where did all the 1,600 books that are in the archives down there in Albuquerque now come from?

EC: Bill solicited them .

BB: Oh, he did. I see.

EC: People, because he has continued to acquire his own library. He has acquired books for the foundation. He has purchased books for the foundation, but he has persuaded many, many people to donate what they have.  And I really think that that’s the source of the materials in the archives.

BB: Okay. Then, when did they start collecting these publications,  We have 29,000 of those also.

EC: Right. I think this is the Bill Litchman interview here.  Bill will know far better than I do when and where and how he began to collect those items.

BB: All right. Well, for the record, the Lloyd Shaw Dance Center in Albuquerque is still active and there’s a beautiful dance hall there, and it’s being used just about every night in the week, I guess.  All right, getting back to teaching a little bit I’ve asked everybody what did you or what do you find appealing about teaching and calling square dances.

EC: Oh. Well, the, the one of the things that made my Grandfather tick, and I see it in his descendants, is that if he found something he loved, he had to share it. If he found a classical recording, he had to invite people up to the house to sit and listen to it.

BB: I’ve heard that, yes.

EC: Just time and again, if there were something he discovered and loved, he had to share it.  And I feel the same way about dance, that it is such a pleasure to, to give this thing to other people and to see them enjoying it and growing in the activity. So, I think that’s what I love the most about it. But it’s, it’s also a participatory pleasure because I love to dance, and I love sharing in a dance event where I get to teach but I also get to dance as well.

BB: I mentioned the name Lawrence Loy earlier in the evening, He had a statement that I always thought was appropriate, excuse me, he always said that nothing that I have in my mind is worth anything until I give it to somebody else.

EC: Yeah. Really.  Give us a little background about the recording portion of the Shaw Foundation.

EC: Oh, I cannot tell you when it began. It would be late ’40s or early ’50s.

BB: It was in Colorado Springs.

EC: It was in Colorado Springs. Fred Bergen, who was a remarkable musician who played with some of the big dance bands like the Dorsey Brothers, I believe for one, and he had his own little recording company called Rinx Records, R I N X.  And he played organ and piano, and he recorded the music that you heard in every skating rink in the country.  And he put out new records every month because he would keep up with the pop tunes, and he would produce the popular tunes. And I do not know where or how he first met my Grandfather, but I do know that he approached my Grandfather and said, I would like to make music for your dances.  And it seemed a reasonable outgrowth of what Fred was doing in his own business, but he and my Granddad started then their own little recording company, I think it was called Lloyd Shaw Recordings. And as people like Dena Fresh and Carlotta Hegamann and other round dancers wrote rounds to current tunes, Fred would record them, and they would produce the records with dance instructions.  So, the bulk of the recordings company was the round dances which required specific tunes.  And, like every popular dance trend going back to the country dances in the 17th century, new tunes and new dances would come along, and nowadays be recorded. In the days of the (?) be published. So that people had access to them. I think the first recording that my Granddad was involved in was in 1945.  He was invited out to Hollywood to be the consultant and the caller in the film Dual in the Sun.  And he taught Gregory Peck and Jennifer Jones how to do a lovely series of Varsouvianna variations, and then he called a square dance in that film. And after that, they did produce a recording, and it was called the Dual in the Sun Square Dance Orchestra. I guess it was the pick-up orchestra that they’d assembled for that film. And so there is that one recording of his calling at least three dances and then the orchestra providing several other, just dance tunes. But by and large, the recordings that they produced were not square dance recordings. They were round dance recordings.  One of the last things he worked on, I believe he was working on it very shortly before he died, was the Learn to Waltz album where he tried to, on a record, tried to tell people what steps to go through to learn to waltz. And in fact the first time I heard that was after he had died. We got the record from the pressing company and put it on and there was that voice again.  And then once again with Don Armstrong’s interest in contras, some years after my Grandfather’s death and Don assembled a little orchestra at La.Semilla, the dance hall at my Grandparents’ house and started recording some contra dance tunes.

BB: And they’re still recording today.

EC: Yeah. Don has with his international contacts.  He’s, for the most part not recorded music so much as he has gotten rights to various other dance band music.

BB: Yes. And a lot of it from New England, too, I think.

EC: New England, and some rights from Belgium and German dance music producers.

BB: Well, looking back one of the questions that I get a variety of answers to, any regrets, anything you wished you had done differently in your dancing experience.

EC: No. I wished I had danced more, you know.  I’m sorry for every evening when I could have gone dancing and I didn’t. But, uh, no, I just, I just, uh, on the contrary, feel tremendously enriched by all the dance experiences I’ve had.  All the Lloyd Shaw Foundation workshops I’ve helped with or the dance weeks where I have been on staff or the year we lived in Denmark, and we joined a Danish dance group. Everything I’ve ever done connected with dance has been an absolute joy.  And I wouldn’t have, wouldn’t give up a minute of it.

BB: Okay. Well, Enid, I think we’re kind of winding down. I certainly have enjoyed this conversation, straightened out a few things in my mind, and have to put them in the archives for future generations to think about. So, unless you have anything else to add that you think of, I’d like to say thank you very much, and so this concludes our interview with Enid Cocke in Manhattan, Kansas, in, uh, November 1997. And thank you again for your kind hospitality.

EC: Oh, thank you for coming, Bob.

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