March 30, 1997
Bob Brundage: Hi again, this is Bob Brundage and today is March 30, 1997, and today we are in Fremont, California, talking with Nita Page Rogers, and Nita is the widow of Bob Page who, we’re primarily here to talk about, and we have a lot to discuss with Nita herself So Nita, tell us a little bit of Bob’s background, where he was born and brought up, and so forth.
Nita Page: He was brought up in Oxford, Nebraska He was born in 1923. He never ever, his mother and father divorced when he was very, very small so he doesn’t remember his father and never ever met him until, you know, until he died. He never got to know him at all. He lived with his grandparents and then moved to California, to southern California and was there at the time of the war, World War II breaking out, and he signed up in the paratroopers and was given training and that, and was involved in everything in the South Pacific. He was the only one to come home from his outfit.
NP: Uh, was killed. Bob was wounded. He had so many medals which I did get together for him and, and his daughter Bobbie has them now, including the Purple Heart, and I could never tell you how many medals he had. He wasn’t impressed with them. He would have never gotten them if I hadn’t done it. He was so surprised to see them in the back.
BB: So how did he get involved in square dancing?
NP: Well, he was a good dancer, ballroom dancer. He loved to dance. When he was down in southern California at the pavilion and all those places, he loved to dance. So he loved, and his mother taught piano lessons and he played the saxophone, clarinet, I think it might, I believe it, I’m not sure now.
Al Brundage: Maybe both of them.
BB: Yea, play one you play them both.
NP: And so he was always involved in music. And we, and how I met him, we met at a folk dance class that Sandy Tepfer was running in the Oakland area and this would have been back in about 1947, 48, I’m not really sure, and Sandy was from New England, and he was a biology professor at the University of California at the time, but he was teaching a folk dance class, and he had been introduced to square dancing in New England. The, after he taught, it’s hard for me to remember all of this, but after he started teaching square dancing, Bob knew all the folk dances, it was just like nothing but the square dance intrigued him, and he immediately wanted to learn to call and, no, you know, there were only three or four basics at that time. So it was quite easy to learn. But when Sandy did work with him and helped him was really happy that he wanted to get involved in this and he immediately got involved and somehow immediately had clubs, and was in it for the rest of his life.
AB: There you go. So tell us some of the things that Bob participated in like National Conventions and festivals and so forth.
NP: His list would be as long as yours Al I don’t know.
AB: Well, I know Bob and I worked together on many of those and it is, it’s even hard for me to remember just which ones they were. But probably Bob was at the Riverside, the First National Convention.
NP: No, we weren’t.
AB: You missed that.
NP: Yeah, we missed it.
AB: And I think that the first one that I came
NP: When was that?
AB: I don’t, Bob may know.
BB: ’51,I believe, ’51 or 2.
NP: That was, we should have been that was
AB: Then it was in San Diego. Was that the following year or 2 years?
BB: No, that was the fourth.
AB: Fourth one?
NP: ’cause that was the first year we went to Asilomar with Bob Osgood. Was about ’52, I believe.
BB: All right
NP: Well, of course, he did all of the, he loved to do the square dance vacations where people stayed, I think that’s what carried over in him wanting to do groups. He liked to do more with people than just be with them 1 night. And he, if I could say anything about Bob, it’s how I really remember him, he was people oriented. Truly people oriented. He really loved people and never lost patience or never got upset that I know of. I mean he could have told you calling.
AB: No, I’ve never known him to be upset. Sometimes he was in when three or four callers got together we have a way of talking about dancers sometimes, but Bob never was very strong on that point, and he’d agree that many dancers were a pain in the neck but that was as far as it went with Bob.
NP: That was true. Yea, he had the patience to deal with that. I think that was what a lot that people realized that in him, and trusted to him to learn to dance with him. But he did up in Van, close to Vancouver in British Columbia and we started a square dance week up there and did that for quite a few years, outgrew it, and then moved to Squaw Valley, that was after the Olympics there, and then we, I can’t remember now, but I think he did Squaw Valley for 8 or 9 years, I don’t know, and then moved on to Asilomar. He took a session, he started working at Asilomar on a different dance level than say Bob Osgood did. He didn’t try to compete with him at all, and in the level of the people that he was giving. He also did a work shop above Toronto at Bangor Lodge for quite a few years with the Canadians, and then, I don’t know, he was, I think he did just about every convention.
AB: He did a lot of conventions. More than I.
NP: Oh, he did so many that I could, I know we were invited, we were, first started going to Alaska to do things, we went to Michigan once, we did the Interlachen thing.
He did that for quite a few years, Interlachen. I only went with him 1 year, Boyne Mountain. I can’t remember all of this now.
BB: Well that’s a full schedule all right. What about recording? I know he recorded on Sets in Order the promotional
NP: My life has taken such a turn.
BB: You have to think back.
NP: He did all of his recording for Sets in Order. And I could not tell you right now how many records he did before he died, but I know he did quite a few.
AB: A bunch.
BB: Right, a bunch.
NP: He did. The first one was Second Fling that he did. That was the first one and that really went good I think.
BB: All right. Well, so let’s talk a little bit about the touring business. One of the questions I’ve been asking people is their overseas travel and, certainly you and Bob have been involved in that.
NP: Well, we got involved in travel with Bob Osgood. I mean he’s the one that introduced us to it, and we took a group with his Sets in Order group and, but he was also the work shop editor for Sets in Order.
BB: That’s right, that’s right.
NP: I’ll forget a million things. But he, now where was I? I’m not thinking very good.
AB: You were touring with the Bob Osgood group.
NP: Oh, yea, okay, okay. I shouldn’t change subjects. I should not change subjects. But we went to Asia, to Japan, and Bob was in Japan during the occupation. So he had a deep, deep love for the Japanese, and we went there in 1960, 60, no first we did Europe. I have to say we did Europe first with Bob Osgood, and he did the all, the first all Europe square dance convention in Frankfurt. And that would be 1965. Then in 1966, we went to Asia, and then we were all over Asia, but he, the main thing that he loved in Asia was Japan, went back to it, and we had a dance in Tokyo with about 600 square dancers. It was our first introduction to all single people, you know, and Prince Mikasa was there, Hirohito’s youngest brother, Well that, then we started doing Hawaii and cruises and that sort of thing. But our dream really was in this international travel.
And I, he, Bob felt, I’m sure, that that he had to do something else besides calling. He always said what would happen to us if he couldn’t call anymore. And he really worried about this to the point that in 1970, he went to international travel school in San Francisco for, I’ve forgot how many months this course took, and then in 1971 took every penny we had and opened his own travel agency. And it opened in July of, and his whole thing on opening the travel agency was to be able to do groups for square dancers although he would have a full travel agency. He knew he had to do that. So he opened it and then at that time, you had to hire everybody to work, you had to have somebody with so much experience, you had to have your place, you had to put money up to, everything had to be there like a business set up, but you couldn’t sell a ticket. So you had to sit there, and in his case, it was Thanksgiving weekend. He opened July 1, it was July, August, September, October, it was 5 months before he got clear, and I, and this would be by the airlines and all of that, it’s not called a license but it’s kind of the same thing. And, he was, we did a weekend every year over on the San Francisco peninsula, and Thanksgiving weekend, and he had returned from doing a big convention in Tennessee, I think it was Nashville, and flew in and he was very sick and on Thanksgiving Day he had a stroke. And his weekend was coming up, oh, I can’t get into this stroke business that was too terrible. But anyway, I did take that over replacing, get it, do it, you know get that all going so it didn’t fall through and left everybody and ran to the hospital sort of a thing. And while he was in the hospital, about the second or third day, well he still couldn’t, I didn’t know if he could hear me or not, but we’re trying to tell him that his license or his (?) came through. We thought that would help him.
BB: Cheer him up, right.
NP: Yea, cheer him up, but he was, you know, almost not there. So we got through that all right, but then that, Bob couldn’t be in what he felt was perfect, he didn’t what to be anything and it did, he had to cut way back on his calling, and it was very, very, very, very hard, the hardest thing he ever did.
NP: But the blessing was to still be involved in square dancing and to be with the callers and everything. He went on running his weekends and hiring the callers and doing the group, and I remember going with Al and doing, Bob in the sense, it was Al and Bea on their honeymoon when they had a group to Hawaii. I don’t know if you knew that or not.
BB: No, I didn’t.
NP: We took, sort of tried to take care of the group so they could have their honeymoon. And I, of all the women, I think, I can’t
BB: No, that’s okay.
AB: That’s okay.
NP: I was going to say something about
BB: So we were talking about touring and wandering off to Hawaii and
NP: We wandered off, yea, but anyway what Bob was most interested in, in touring, was doing really big things, not the small groups that I love, or the smaller groups that I love, but he wanted to do hundreds or a thousand or something like that. He was really a dreamer where travel was concerned. And the first, the very first tour that we did was with, I can’t think what they were called now, Chaparral but I think
AB: Oh, the Chaparral.
NP: Yea, at that time, but that probably doesn’t matter. But Jerry Haag, Ken Bower, Buryl Main
AB: Gary Shoemake
NP: And Don, no
NP: No, Don Franklin, then, it wasn’t Shoemake then. That was 1972 or so.
AB: That was Wagon Wheel, wasn’t it?
NP: Wagon Wheel, that’s what, yea, they were called Wagon Wheel then. And we filled the first 747 and was the first 747 to ever land on the Big Island. They’d never brought that big of a plane. They had no reason to. So, we were the very first ones. We made history in Hawaii with that. In fact, I was at a travel meeting once, and it was Hawaii people over there, and they mentioned that not knowing that I was there as a travel, you know, right there then, so I talked to them, and I guess the mayor and all of that down there, they thought that was pretty great. And then he started doing conventions in Hawaii. I don’t know how many years he did that, at the Sheraton Waikiki and their conference center.
AB: That’s right. Oh, about 3 or 4 years perhaps.
NP: Oh no, I think more than that.
AB: More than that.
AB: I wasn’t there, I wasn’t involved at all in that.
NP: You weren’t involved in that. I can’t remember, but he started that, I feel like it was forever because they wanted me to continue after he died, and that was one thing I did not want to do. But he loved that because he was totally, really totally involved in square dance and then we continued doing tours for callers anywhere, you know, they wanted, anywhere they wanted to go. He did a convention in Acapulco, I forgot, and I’m not right, I’m sure I’m not right on my numbers, but we took over the Acapulco convention hall, and I forgot, five or six plane loads went in from all over the country, and that was very dramatic. I really remember that, being very dramatic. And I don’t know, one thing I remember, I don’t know why I’m saying this, you go to Mexico you aren’t supposed to drink the water. Everybody would eat, nobody would drink the water. Well, while they were dancing, we’d have these, we didn’t realize what they were doing bringing in these big containers of water all over the room, which was their water.
AB: And everybody was drinking the water.
NP: And not knowing that they were drinking while they were dancing that that’s the water they didn’t drink when they were eating. I don’t know how many got sick, I don’t think too many though. Okay, what else.
BB: Well, let’s get talking about China now.
NP: Okay. China? That’s me, that isn’t Bob.
BB: Right, I realize that.
AB: Well, you’re part of this, Nita. You were a big part of it.
NP: Well, right, but Bob never got to, Bob never went to Australia, and New Zealand, which I’ve done a lot there. He never went, and of course, he never went to China. I don’t, and Bob died in 1982, and I didn’t know what I was doing. That was a terrible time in my life. In 1983, late ’82 or ’83, somewhere in there, I read in our newspaper, it’s a cultural revolution going on in China then, and I don’t know if you know much about the cultural in China, but it was the most horrible, hideous situation that you could ever, ever, ever imagine. And I read in our newspaper that they were allowed to dance in China again. They had not been able to dance at all for 10 years. And that’s how long the cultural revolution went on. And so I thought, oh, they’re able. In Hong Kong I’d gone out, probably even out to the, where you looked in over the wire fence and all that.
AB: That’s right, you did. Looked into Red China.
NP: Yea, and I don’t know why I was so intrigued with Red China. I worried about the people, and I didn’t even know any. But when I read they could dance again, I thought, somebody should go let them know we’re alive here. They don’t know anything about the western world, and I’m sitting here knowing about square dancing and everything, so I’ve got to find a way to get it there. So I started writing. Like you know, little kids write Dear Mr. President, well, I’m writing Dear Mr. CITS and every body in the government I had any name for. I’m sending these letters. And I sent packets of records, pictures, Sets in Order books with pictures in it. I don’t know what all I sent. Then, I had a lady come in right, not, after I started doing this, and ask me that she was a ground operator, you know a person going around trying to work up business, and she asked me if I would like to take a group to China, or take a tour to China. And I said, well, yes, but not to see the country in that sense. I said the only thing I want to do in China is take square dancing. She didn’t know what it was, and I had to explain it to her. And she said, well you know, China is really, really full of dancing. Their minority groups is who she was thinking of because they were still able to dance all the way through the cultural revolution, and there’s a lot of minority groups in the autonomous regions, and she said maybe I can reach some of those for you. She says if you go to China, then I promise I will set up dances for you. So, I asked Kip Garvey if he would like to go, and it intrigued him, and we got a group and it just like filled immediately with an overflow. But, because then it was hard to get hotels. They weren’t ready for tourists. So I can’t remember now how many we had 42, 45, I don’t know, somewhere in there as many as they would let us, and I think I had over 70 sign up. So you can see the interest. And, so we took the group and went, and, of course, it was the greatest tour of my life, but it didn’t work out the way we thought it was going to do on square dancing because, and now I know why, because nobody knew where anybody was in China, but I mean it was, you know, so, we, and I, but our people, I think they understood after they saw China. I just think they really understood that there was like no connecting, and it was, we did dance some in the hotels and people were interested in it, but they were interested in anything, you know, and then, you know they’re all dressed in their little green uniforms and you can’t tell the men from the women, and this is not supposed to be on their, very much like the (?) needing a bath, you know. It really was. You work here, you do this, you know, and you were told your job. It was kind of scary that the whole country was that way.
BB: We took a break there, and now we’ve turned the tape over and we’re just in the midst of talking about China, so go ahead.
NP: Well, this in regard to meeting a Chinese dancers association, and we did meet them on this first trip, and it was, I was meant to meet somebody who could help me, and I met a girl who said her boyfriend was a dancer in Beijing, and she gave me his name, and she said she would try to contact him and tell him what hotel we were in. So by the time we got to Beijing, he had set up a real true cultural exchange for our group, and we were as amazed as anybody, but it was Tang Xialing, and all of the people, a lot of the people that you met in China, that showed up at that first group, gathering. And aft, aft, so it was all over. Oh, and then I told him I was coming back. I had a group, another 30 something, and I was going to come back about 6 weeks later, and I said could they help me. And I was set up to go with Bob VanAntwerp and the brochures and everything was out on it. And when I got back home, so anyway, after that first cultural exchange, the head man who was in charge of it, asked me if I would like to, you know, if I would like to go have a drink with him, and I remember he asked me if I liked, if I needed help with anything, and I said yes, I said I wanted to buy a cane for my mother, so he took me shopping and then we sat and talked, and he said I will do anything I can to help you come back. Not only will I do everything I can, you give me the cities, and I’ll have a cultural exchange set up for you anywhere you want to go. Do you believe that? So, I came back home. I was so thrilled because then the next year it was really going to be good, you know, I knew that. But, when I got back home, Bob VanAntwerp, his wife was really sick, and he had to cancel. I’m ready to leave, and I don’t have a caller, and you know, you have to have visas, you have to have everything. So at that time, that’s when I remembered John Barbour, who was basically out of square dancing except 1-nighters, and I called him and asked if he would be interested in going to China. And he was interested, and we had lost contact with each other for some many years that when I, he was going drive up or take BART up or something, I can’t remember, and I was supposed to pick him up, and I’m telling him what I got on practically so, you know, so he would recognize, yeah so he would remember me. So anyway, we went to China, and John really, really, I don’t want to say this for Kip, they really touched Kip. Kip for the first trip to China, just that one cultural exchange, he came home and, I probably have this wrong but it’s in my memory something like this. He wanted to help them so badly that he just got into a room by himself with a tape to send back to them so they had something they could use, you know. But it was so hard not having the Chinese translations. But anyway, John was just totally, and absolutely intrigued with this Chinese thing. And, he had ideas, you know, coming out of every where. So, he, during the second one, he went back, they asked to have a meeting with us, the two of us, so we went to their meeting, and there’s quite a few of them there, and they say now you’ve come over and you showed us this dance, how are we going to learn it? You’ve created a problem for us. Will you come back if we do work shops? And, we, what do you mean come back, you know. Well, not with a group, we just want you to come back and we’ll, and let us send you. If you can pay your way to get to China, because they have no money, and they were, you know, they weren’t even on the money currency, they were really bad off then. They said we’ll pay for everything within China. So John and I decided to go, and we went the following year, that would be ’85, I guess. We went to six cities, and we taught about a thousand people during that, that attended. And they were all professional dancers. They loved the round dancing, too, but they didn’t have to be taught round dancing. They could just look at it and follow your feet. So you didn’t need a voice. But, I mean you didn’t need Chinese. But, in, you know.
BB: No cuer necessary.
NP: No cuer necessary, they just followed your feet, memorized it, no matter how hard it was. Because we taught them dances back then that were kind of like classics, the Dancing Shadows, and, I remember Hot Lips, and, I don’t know, some of them were old, old ones. I don’t know how many we taught, but they loved it, but they just did it. But the square dancing, really. They had, every where we went they had choreographers coming out of your ears sitting there writing down everything that these people were doing, which was just basic stuff and for the first time in my life, I started looking at the choreography of square dancing and how beautiful it is. And I don’t, if any of you have ever thought of that or not, because when you are on a great big floor, you don’t see this, maybe you do, but I’m in there dancing so I didn’t see it, and like they’d go, you know, like Bend the Line, well, my God, did you ever look at a floor Bend the Line, and they’re all squared up exactly even all over, the whole floor’s going straight, straight, it was totally amazing. Because they never got anybody, if they’re a square, nobody moved from it, you know. And they’re writing everything down, and we had 48 basics then, and they thought, you know, they wanted 48 basics. I mean, they wanted to see all of them. Fighting the language and then work shops, you know, was really, really hard, but we just, they kept saying, our teachers are all here, they are watching everything you do, they’re writing down everything, you don’t have to take a lot of time with it, just show it to us, just do it and get us doing it. And, John Barbour loved this. He was really, really good with them. And it, oh it was cold, it was freezing cold, they had no heat in their halls. Once in Hangzhou, he did a work shop it was, I mean, I don’t know, really, really cold, freezing. And his sound equipment went out.
BB: Oh, dear.
NP: And he had to use, just, you know, use his voice, and he had his overcoat on. You know, just
NP: Oh, the whole thing, boots, the whole thing, you know. But I tried to wear square dance clothes through all of this, and I just about froze, but that was one time I put on fur-lined boots, but I still had my dress on. But anyway, they were, and everybody said to me you may get those people dancing but you will never get them in square dance clothes. And I thought, that’s really silly. I thought square dance clothes were really pretty when I first saw them. So, they took to square dance clothes immediately. They had more ideas for square dance clothes than, you know, anybody ever had, and then we started bringing, I had dancers for many years, bring their square, we’d take all our square dance clothes to them, to just kind of get them out all over and use for patterns and things like that.
AB: And they’d take clothes over to wear and leave them, leave them so many times.
NP: I’m still back on this (?), I hope I’m not taking up too much time, but I really think it was important. We got to Shanghai, that was our last, no Beijing was our, would have been our last, no I take it back, it doesn’t matter anyway. Shanghai was our last place, because we were flying out of Shanghai. We went into Beijing but we flew out of Shanghai home. It was our last place and they said we’re doing something different here in Shanghai. We have three squares, and they are all professional dancers. They want to really be exposed to all of your 48 basics, but we only have like 6 hours. And they can’t speak English.
BB: Piece of cake, right.
NP: Piece of cake. We really, really worked. They couldn’t even believe how hard we worked. We would go to bed at night so exhausted, that we couldn’t even hardly move because you are just doing this all day long with these people, but they were so beautiful and just, it was just something that made you keep going. What these people did, they did not tell us, we did not know who we were really with, but we were with the Shanghai Ballet Troop, the very famous one. They not only took those 48 basics, but they made gorgeous square dance costumes, and added it to their performance all over China.
BB: Is that right.
NP: And that is one of the things that spread it all over China because when they danced this, they would tell them about us coming over and, wanting to get this going in China, and my reasons, I said from the beginning, that I wanted the masses to learn it because they didn’t know what dance was. Forty years of, you know, they were 40 years, 10 years the cultural, 50 years, that’s almost generations that died off. Anybody over 50 you’d never even know anything, you know, so you were dealing with those kind of people, and that’s what this ballet troop was trying to tell everybody. So every where they would go and show it, then, they would write the headquarters in Beijing and say please come, please send them here the next time they come. Everybody wanted us, so that is why even today, I can go anywhere in China I want to go. CITS said they’ve never had any thing like me because I just pick out names, you know, and one of the groups with Jerry Haag went into Xishuangbanna making up, you know
AB: Near Tibet?
NP: No, we’d been to Tibet twice. Tibet is up in the Himalayas, and we’d been there twice, beautiful dancers, beautiful people. I think about those people all the time, the Tibetan dancers. We danced in Xishuangbanna, it was dancers were there to, in fact in Xishuangbanna, it’s out in the jungle. They had a little school and everything, but they didn’t have any, we had to dance at night, well that (?) this is cultural exchange. And they got the mayor to turn on, what is it you call it, not outside lights,
NP: Not floods, well, just, generator, generator
AB: Oh, okay.
NP: They didn’t have anything to generate lights so they generated light, and we had the lights for 2 hours, that’s all they could afford, and we were on a huge outdoor, I don’t want to say football field but more like I think basket, no, it would be bigger than that.
AB: Soccer, soccer field?
NP: I don’t know, 500 people showed up. 500 people showed up, and it was just totally unbelievable, you know, all of these things that happened so it’s over now, and, that and the jungle area, and we’ve just been all over China, and the last time I went which was last year, we went to Mongolia, Inner Mongolia, and we were treated royally. Oh, it was, the dancing, everywhere we went they’re dancing was so beautiful, you couldn’t believe it. So pretty soon when we start going back, they’re having demonstration squares of square dancing. That’s immediately what they went to. We never told them that, but they were on TV, they had all their beautiful clothes, and it was just amazing. Amazing the cooperation that I got and all the way through and this Tang Xialing that’s with a group now, without her, well we couldn’t, we’re like, you say Bea and I were just like sisters, you know, we’re just totally, totally love each other.
BB: We should make some reference to the group of Chinese that are here who just appeared at Callerlab.
NP: Tang Xialing was the first one to say, and she could not, she has a very difficult time with the English language. Some people did know a little bit of it, but this lady realized that she had to learn it in order for it to continue. She just had to. And through the years, she has worked harder than anyone I have ever known on earth to keep square dancing going, anywhere. If anybody was a saint in square dancing, she is, and she was a famous, famous ballet dancer, and so was, is, her husband. Her daughter, her little granddaughter is now coming up to be. The whole family is in dance, but Tang Xialing is dedicating the rest of her life, she’s retired now and is going to dedicate the rest of her life to square dancing in China. And that’s why she gets these people over here. She got the first club ever, well she’s the first Chinese ever in Callerlab.
BB: Right, you mentioned that.
NP: Right, I’ve got Jon Jones is totally in, well, there’s so many callers involved in this, if you want their names, I can give them to you. That was, Kip Garvey, then John Barbour, we have, I’ll probably leave someone out, Wade Driver, Jerry Haag, Jack Murtha, of course, and Jon Jones. They’re the main ones. Jon Jones has been, Jon Jones is very, very interested in the Tibetan dancers, so both, he has gone with me two times to China although we’ve been on, I’ve probably been on more tours with Jon Jones than any other caller. And I think the world of Jon Jones. I think he is so good to tour with, he is just so right to be a tour guide. You wouldn’t think that, but he is.
BB: Well, he’s so right to be a lot of things.
AB: Yes, Jon is right.
BB: Well, let’s talk a little bit about Bob’s affiliation with Callerlab.
NP: Well, let’s see, that started from, I guess, day one. He was at the first meeting of Callerlab, and I can’t remember the year, whether it was in the 70s, oh wait a minute, was it, it might have been the 60s.
AB: It was earlier than that, it was in the 60s.
NP: Yeah, right 8, or ’67, ’68.
AB: Well, the very first might have been like’ 64.
NP: Oh, was it.
AB: I think. Well, we do have that on tape from Bob Osgood.
NP: Yea, well, because that’s right. We were going there for Bob Osgood doing a weekend then, and this happened during one of those weekends.
AB: That’s right.
NP: And then it was after the weekend and everybody left, and then I stayed there which was one of the reasons that I remember this. I didn’t sit in on the meetings or anything, but I did, I was there, and
BB: Well, the first actual convention of, convening of the masses was in ’71.
AB: ’71, right. Well, then it might not have been ’64 then, because I think that it was only 2 or 3 years before we
NP: Well, I could tell you the callers, I’ll bet, who were there.
BB: Yea. No, we have them on record.
NP: You have that, so you know that.
BB: Well, they were all the Hall of Fame Members.
AB: They were.
BB: The ones that were able to make it to that meeting.
AB: That’s right.
BB: And that was at Asilomar.
AB: But, wasn’t Frank Lane and Flippo, and
BB: Don Armstrong.
AB: Don Armstrong and Bob Page, I believe.
NP: Oh yea, Bob was there and Marshall Flippo, Bruce Johnson.
AB: Bruce Johnson, yes.
NP: Uh, I have a picture, Osgood, of course, Gilmore.
AB: Yes, Ed Gilmore.
NP: Uh, Arnie Kronenberger.
AB: Was Van there?
NP: Van, yea, I’m pretty sure. I know I’m not sure, I am not sure. I have that picture of them, all of them. Of everybody that was, then they started meeting there every year after their Asilomar weekend, and then they started, I don’t know where the first one was.
BB: The first convention?
BB: It skips me at the moment.
AB: I would think, I came to it, but
NP: Bob was on the govern, the Board of Governors from the beginning almost
AB: Yea, he was one of the original founders and was on the Board of Governors for a lot of years. I can’t remember how many, but
NP: Almost up until he died.
AB: That’s quite possible.
NP: I think so.
AB: Quite possible.
NP: Very close to when he died. And I’ve been with him several times, not too many because usually he was on tour when he would go to Callerlab or something.
BB: Well, I want to get off square dance subject for just a moment. Al and I have been prowling around your apartment here, and you certainly have some beautiful artwork here of Indian lore.
NP: Thank you.
BB: So many beautiful portraits and wall hangings, rugs, pottery, and so forth. It’s really out of this world. We ought to make sure the folks now about that. A couple of statues I’m really amazed at here. Some of these are probably originals. You should talk to Poncho Baird some time. He is an American Indian (?) if you will. He studied the history of American Indians for some time. Well, I think we are just about down to the end of our little discussion here, Nita.
BB: And, I want to really thank you so much for taking the time to sit down and, put some of these thoughts
NP: Well, I could go on forever.
BB: Right. We often said that many times when we conduct these interviews the talking before and after and on into the night sometimes perhaps should be recorded too. But, we won’t take that much time, so
NP: Can I have 1 minute more?
BB: You bet you can, you can have an hour.
NP: And I won’t cry. But, after Bob died, in the same year, and we had a big group going on a cruise to, out of New York, to, oh gosh, all over down in there, and Al and Bea, and I don’t know how many callers were on this, but I was left alone to run it. And all of my life with Bob, I wouldn’t get close to a mike, I mean I would even say, maybe thank you or hello or something, but it was not me. And, I’m still, I tell the Chinese when I’m talk to them that I am not a public speaker, I’m just up here from the heart. But, I was going to have my first meeting. Do you remember this?
AB: I do.
NP: And, I want, with everybody, we had a big group. I don’t know how many hundreds, I don’t know, well, it was a lot.
AB: Well, it was close to 200 as I recall.
NP: I don’t even remember, but it was like a lot of people, and I said, Al would you run the meeting for me because I don’t, won’t tell you what to say
NP: And he looked at me and he said no, I can’t do that for you, Nita. You’re going to have to learn to do it yourself. How, it was like somebody, I would fall over dead, I don’t know what I thought, but it was the most horrifying experience I can ever remember going through. Al just said you have to do it. You can intro, you introduce the callers. I was going to have him introduce everybody. Oh, it scared me to death. And I didn’t know what to do, and I thought well if I’m this scared, I’ll just get, all the other callers wives have to go through this with me. I don’t know where it came from, but I remember I got up, all the callers wives that were, and I said I’m going to let each wife introduce her own husband. And they all looked at me. And some of the funniest things came out of that. I don’t know if you remember.
AB: I don’t remember.
NP: It was like getting even. But anyway that was the total relaxing thing after that that was what I got through.
AB: That’s funny, that was.
BB: Okay, well unless you have some more comments, we’ll
NP: I could, you know, I could go on and on forever. You know. It’s just been my life. I don’t know if you know this or not, my Dad was a square dance caller.
BB: No, I did not know that.
NP: When I was born, from 3 months on, I went to a square dance every Saturday night almost, well until we moved to California. So, I basically grew up in it. In fact, when they started teaching it, I already knew everything, and you know, I’d been doing, it was just kind of nothing. But, so I actually started where it started.
AB: Started in the cradle.
NP: Yea, right.
BB: Well, that’s really interesting, so, well, I’ve got to head on down the road pretty soon, I’m going to be stopping at
NP: Okay, I won’t think of anything else.
BB: Well, I’m sure you will. But, so again I would like to thank you so much for your hospitality and for taking the time to sit and put these thoughts down on tape.
NP: Thank you.
BB: And you’ll be hearing from us and
NP: Hope you have a lot of success on your book.
BB: Thank you, Nita, so very much. So we’ll be seeing you down the road.