RICKEY HOLDEN INTERVIEW
OCTOBER 11, 2004
Bob Brundage – Well hi again. This is Bob Brundage and today we’re talking with Rickey Holden over in Belgium and looking forward to an interesting conversation. We’ve been trying to get together for some time but we finally made it this morning or this afternoon in Belgium. So …
Rickey Holden – It’s, I believe 8 hours difference so, its 6 o’clock so it must be it must be 10 o’clock in the morning for you.
BB – Yeah, half past 10:00 right. So, we have been wanting to get together and Rickey just asked me before I turned the tape on about what this project is all about. When I moved to Albuquerque back 10 or so years ago I connected with the Lloyd Shaw Dance Archives which are located here in Albuquerque and …..
RH – Yeah, Bill Litchman. Yeah, I gave him some stuff years ago.
BB – …and when we started going through all the material at the archive to file it, etc. I kept mentioning different episodes of people that I ran across that I remembered and Bill Litchman said to me, “Gee, I wish we could get this information down on tape somehow” and I said, “Well, I can do that”. So, I started out first of all to try to interview all the living Hall of Fame – the Sets In Order Hall of Fame people and then all the Milestone Awards and then all the Silver Halo Award people. I’ve accomplished that and along the way I picked up an awful lot of interviews with other people around the country and around the world who had not necessarily gotten National or International awards but who had made a big contribution to the activity – one of which would be Mr. Rickey Holden.
RH – That’s kind of you.
BB – So, before we get onto some of the things that are going on currently and this biography that you are talking about why don’t we get a little background information. Where were you born and brought up Rickey?
RH – These are different places. Actually, Fairfield County..
BB – Connecticut
RH – Yep, actual birth was there – that was because my mother happened to be there. My mother was born in Austin, Texas and I started my 1st grade of school in Austin, Texas – the Elementary School was in Austin and then I moved to New York City and then my – I can give you the dates of this by email but for the 11th and 12th grades[i] of school I finished in Newton, Massachusetts – Newton High School – Newtonville, Massachusetts. Earlier than that – I’ve forgotten the exact years but for about 4 years I spent or maybe 5, I spent in Southeastern Vermont around Ludlow – around Cavendish and then I spent 2 summers at the Putney School – at the Putney Summer Camp.
BB – I’ll be darned – I didn’t know that.
RH – It happened that the Director of the Summer Camp that year was a man by the name of Dr. John Holden – no relation that I have ever found out but it was from him that I learned my first contra dance. I could spot the years but I’d have to go back and think about it now. I must have been about 12 years old. So that’s when I present my first contra – I had been square dancing earlier. Every Saturday night at Putney there were square dances and of course in Cavendish and Ludlow and Proctorsville. If you look these places up on the map they’re all around Brattleboro and Bellows Falls[ii]. Then – just a minute – speaks to someone in the room – I was just asking – my wife is very interested in a television show and I thought I might be disturbing her. Brattleboro, yeah and so I was dancing a little bit in Cavendish but that was when I was 9 or 10 years old, you know, a kid hanging around didn’t do much but in Putney that’s where I really started a lot of dancing. If you want to know what dances we did it’s exactly those dances represented in the book by Durward Maddocks. I don’t know if you know that book.
BB – I know that name, yes.
RH – Well, it’s exactly the dances – favorite contra at that time was Morning Star because you Balance and Swing right and then you did it with left. Quite a number of others – Lady Walpole’s Reel, Lady of the Lake and standard old contras from that area. Now, if you look at your map that’s very close to Keene so it’s almost exactly the same area, the same types of dances that were done. When I graduated from Newton High School, that was in 1946, no it was 1943 it was because that was war time. I was 16 years old so I went immediately to university which was Tufts – Tufts University. Since I was interested in square dancing and also theatre I used to go to Ralph Page’s dances every Tuesday and every other Thursday. Also the IOCA dances will Al Smith. Are these names – Al Smith mean something to you?
BB – Yes, right
RH – It should because he was very influential – and Walter Lob, these boys were older than I about 5 or 6 years and they were all students at M.I.T[iii]..
BB – OK. That’s interesting. So, I was going to ask you about some of the leaders that you knew up in that area at that time but you were rather young … 16.
RH – I wasn’t even 18 when I was in college. At 19 I finished, because of the war we didn’t have 2 semesters we 3 trimesters and we were all trying to rush through to get through as quickly as we can before we got snapped up by the draft. Other leaders that I knew – I guess I knew most of the people who were there. Charlie Baldwin was there and there was some guy named Gene Gowing was there. Did you know him?
BB – Yes, I knew him.
RH – Louise Chapin was there. She was for the English Country Dance Society.
BB – Yes, right. That’s interesting. Well …
RH – And then Ted Sannella and I of course were at the same university. He was, I think a year younger than I.
BB – Is that right? I knew Ted pretty well when I was on the Board of Directors of the New England Folk Festival Association…
RH – Yes, I know.
BB – …for several years when I lived in Massachusetts.
RH – Yes, I know, I know. Well, Ted was very, very well known – he’d been over here several times too.
BB – Tony Parkes.
RH – Yes. I met him in Denmark
BB – Did you? There you go. Well, that’s all very interesting. So, how much time did you devote to calling squares and contras when you …
RH – There was no distinction. A dance included both. As you see in the Durward Maddocks program there were 3 squares and 1 contra or 2 squares and 1 contra. Usually 3 squares and 1 contra, that’s what it was and that’s what Ralph used to do. 3 squares, 1 International Folk Dance, 1 contra, 1 International Folk Dance which could be a simple Schottische and then on to 3 squares and Al followed Ralph because when Ralph came to Boston he would stay at Al’s apartment – a place to stay to save him a little money.
BB – Ah, OK. I never realized that. Well then you got into Modern Western for a time.
RH – That phrase is one that I greatly object to because there are 5 forms of square dancing in the United States and in North America. The words Modern and Western is a conflict in terms.
BB – Oxymoron?
RH – Well, the point is that the influence of Dr. Shaw, which was tremendous and from which a lot of great people – a lot of people followed slavishly in no way takes into consideration the greatness of the folk form in Southwestern as exemplified by Bob Sumrall, Herb Greggerson and about 20 other callers that I could name like that. Southwestern square dancing is folk. Lloyd Shaw’s dancing was developed from teen-age exhibition dancers and young teen-age exhibition dancers. Then there’s the Southeastern Appalachian and not really correct because it’s the mountain dance because there is the same steps and everything that are done in the Ozarks so it’s properly Southern Mountain. Then there’s the Canadian and then there’s the Eastern square dancing which ran all the way from New England to Chicago. New England was a little bit different because they maintained the contras. Then there’s the Maritime Canadian dancing. The Maritime was a little different because they used to have 8 and not 4 couples per set. So those I think are the 5. Then if you go – it’s kind of done in the United States are identical except for that – except for the dance halls of Montreal. That’s why I object to the term Modern Western square dancing because Southwestern was folk and Modern Western as it is done is totally ignores the fact that there is music and that’s my great crusade.
BB – Right. Well of course, Bill Litchman is now proposing what he calls Traditional Western calling.
RH – That’s a lot of hooey. He doesn’t know.
BB – Laughs
RH – Where’s Bill Litchman from?
BB – He’s here in Albuquerque.
RH – Yeah, well I don’t see how he could know unless he delves into the Southeastern part of the United States because the dancing in the Southeastern New Mexico is that which Greggerson and Jimmy Clossin and Roy McCutchen and Butch Nelson and many others – but the great callers were all from around Abilene.
BB – Jimmy Clossin?
RH – Jimmy Clossin no. He was El Paso. There is a book by the way, written sometime in that era – you’ll find it in Bill Litchman’s bibliography of Texas square dance material or, I think in the bibliography that I wrote – you will find that he devoted some time to every person – every caller in the area that he knew – most of them were Texas callers.
BB – Yes. Well, that’s interesting. So, when did you move down into the New Jersey area?
RH – I never did.
BB – Weren’t you associated with the American Squares at one time?
RH – I owned it.
BB – That’s what I thought.
RH – Yes, but that doesn’t mean that I moved to New Jersey. When I finished University I spent a year – two years hitchhiking around the United States and every time that I was in a town – it cost me very little to travel – zero because it was all hitchhiking – sometimes I’d get to the edge of town and every time I was in a town of course, I looked for what I enjoyed and I was a young man and I was interested in seeing young girls and the place that I could find them was square dancing. So I looked for square dancing everywhere and that’s how I learned what square dancing was like all over the country. I learned in West Virginia with Joe Blundon. Have you run across him – his name?
BB – I know – I remember the name, yes.
RH – Well, you should do more than that, you should – he was very influential. He was from Harvard. Al Smith was M.I.T. I was from Tufts and Ted was Tufts and Joe – each of us had a person – in each college – each of those universities there was an expert violinist and each of us transformed our violinists into fiddlers. Mine was George Gulyassy.
BB – Oh yes.
RH – Have you ever heard of his name?
BB – Oh yes. In fact he was and his brother – I think it was George that I worked with – for me a few times …
RH – Yeah – and his brother Bobby. George happened to be born on the same day, in the same hospital in Bridgeport as I was.
BB – Is that right? Interesting
RH – Bobby was a little younger. Joe Blundon’s – I’ve forgotten the name of the fiddler of Joe Blundon’s is but I used to play guitar for Joe at his square dances. Al – Walter Lob was Al’s fiddler and all these names, if you’re doing serious research – unless you’re restricting yourself to Modern Western square dancing – these names are very important.
BB – Right. No, I’m not. I was at one time but I …
RH – That’s a great mistake.
BB – … yeah, well, I’ve changed my direction in the last couple of years.
RH – Isn’t that the way – it’s a sad point for you. How are you planning to publish this material?
BB – Well, I’m not really. Everything is at the archive – the tapes that I made and the transcripts that been done and so they are available, you know, for research purposes but I’ve never put them all together into a book or anything. That wasn’t my intention in the first place.
RH – Too bad. You should digest it and hit the important names as a research project. The Society of Folk Dance Historians in Austin might be very interested but they stay more with International rather than American material. I thought that the Archives had moved to Denver.
BB – Yes, they have.
RH – Oh, so they’re not in that house that Bill built for them anymore.
BB – No, not really.
RH – What happened? He get tired?
BB – No, his health is not too good and the Board of Directors thought it would be better if it was in a permanent residence – some place that had a staff, etc.
RH – Well, that’s right. That’s what Olcutt Sanders and I did with our archives when we moved them to the University of Texas.
BB – Right. OK. Tell me more about American Squares.
RH – Well, there was an interim in 1947 traveling around I went to Ray Shaw’s dance in what was Silver Lake, wherever that was, Silver Lake Recreation Center and that’s where I first saw Allemande Thar. I brought that and quite a number of other figures back to the New England Folk Festival and I think the year was 1947 but I’m not sure. I put on an exhibition with the material that I’d learned. Angie Taylor and I think Connie and both also Freddie Taylor’s kids were in that. I don’t know maybe I can find that. I can look that up for you too. In the traveling I went home to Austin and then because I consider that my formative home and I went to San Antonio and found out there was a square dance there and was being conducted as a square dance workshop – organized by the Recreation Department and the leader of that was a woman Helen Dauncey and she was the traveling recreation person who set up workshops and her workshop was in square dancing and this was at the San Antonio YMCA – no, it was the YWCA – the San Antonio YWCA. So, I went to dance and, of course I was a pretty hot shot dancer by that time because I danced all over the country so they said – Helen Dauncey said, “Oh, you dance. Do you call” which was not true. I only called 2 or 3 times in Stratton Park in the Adirondack Mountains. But I said, “Oh sure”. So I called Texas Star and the head of the Recreation Department heard me there and she said, “Oh, that’s very interesting. We’re starting a program for square dancing this summer. Would you like to come and help us with it?’ And that’s how the whole professional career that lasted 60 years started. That was, I believe in April – and I’m sure the year was 1948 – had to be – April, 1948. Then I went back to wind up things that my mother – my mother at that time was in Boston working for the Boston School of Occupational Therapy and I wound up things there – told her I had a summer job in Texas and I planned to keep traveling after that – to get enough money to travel but it didn’t work out that way. On the way down I stopped in Wheeling – Oglebay Park and I think Ralph was calling there – Jane Farwell – are these names you know?
BB – Sure.
RH – Jane Farwell you know? …
BB – Oh yes. I knew her through …
RH – …and that’s where I first – well, you’re not interested in Miserlou. That doesn’t mean anything to you, does it?
BB – No.
RH – No. That’s another scene in the International field. Then I started in July, 1948 as the – what they called me was a square dance specialist. Then every year they promoted me in title but they never gave me any more money. I think I got $175 a month. I developed classes. My job was to teach the city of San Antonio how to square dance. So we had classes Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and a big dance on Saturday. I had morning classes also where I taught the kids. The whole thing developed from that and the program, they liked it so the boss, Miss Lou Hamilton asked me if I’d like to stay on for the winter and I said, “Sure, why not” and it just went on and on and on and on…
BB – Right. Well …
RH – …and pretty soon, like a small pebble tossed into a still pond the ripples gradually widened and widened and widened and so every weekend or so there was a square dance somewhere, we all went to it just for the fun of it because if I’m calling I’m teaching all the time I had no way to dance so I would go down to Houston or Longview or wherever there was a dance then usually be asked to call. Pretty soon I was asked to call in Louisiana and then I was asked to call in Oklahoma and then in Kansas and then in other places. Before long, if you add it all up I’ve called professionally in every state of the Union except 2 unfortunately. That is of all 40 – of all 50 states I’ve missed 2. I don’t think I’ve ever called in Idaho and I’ve forgotten what the other one was. There’s 2 I’ve not called in.
BB – Good. So, getting back to American Squares…
RH – Well, you see at that time the major – a fellow named Charley Thomas – did you run into him?
BB – Oh yes. I remember Charley.
RH – He was very, very important because he was – while he was never a professional – by professional I don’t mean quality I mean monetary – that is to say, if the they – I had to call square dances in order for my family to eat, he didn’t. He was a lawyer and he started[iv] I think in 1946 if I recall and about 1952, I have the original things here – I can give you the dates – he decided that he or maybe his wife – what was here name? Liz, I think, decided that he’d had enough of it or he couldn’t devote enough time to his lawyer – it was getting too big. So he offered it for sale to his various associate editors. He had about 15 associate editors of which I was one. The Collettes in Georgia were one. Ralph Piper in Minnesota was one[v]. I think – I don’t remember and so I said, ‘Yeah, that’s good” but there was a twin project – that is he had a book and record shop service and he also had a magazine. So, in April 1952 I took over the magazine in San Antonio and Frank Kaltman with whom I’d been associated quite closely since I recorded an album for him earlier – Frank Kaltman took over the book and record store. I took a truck down from Newark and packed all of Charly’s stuff in and took it up to Newark. That may be why you think it was New Jersey but New Jersey was because I took over the magazine. I published it for about two years in San Antonio at which time it seemed wise to move closer to the east so I moved to Arden near Wilmington, Delaware and ran the magazine until about 1957 at which time – or for in 1956[vi] I was invited to go to Cuba to teach dancing and I ran around the Caribbean also. I went and called in Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Caracas, Venezuela and every Central American Country. I think I spent a week in Panama because there were some Texas square dancers there and I spent about a week also or 2 weeks in Mexico City and also Guadalajara because I spoke Spanish without much problem. That was and then I went back – and some people heard about that and so the next year in 1957 they asked me if I’d like to go call square dances in Japan. I said, “Yes” and that changed the whole course of life. Then I went – I started that trip and that was the first round-the-world trip in 1957 to 58. I headed to Japan and I found out it would cost about – they gave me a ticket to Japan from Delaware to Japan and back but I found out it cost $92 or $62 or something like that if I would go back the other way via India via Israel or Europe. So, being young and sort of idealistic I thought. “ Hell, why come straight back” so I did and that’s what started the whole International folk dance because it was a little bit difficult to teach only square dancing in Japan despite the fact that there was a square dance movement which was started YMCA people and Ralph and Jane and some other people had been on a Nelda Drury Lindsay also. You wouldn’t know her because she’s folk dance. They had been there the year before and wanted me to call but it was difficult because of the language so I did also some International Folk Dancing which I’d done at Ralph’s which I had enjoyed as a hobby dancer. Then going to – on the end of that trip I stopped in Europe and made a lot of contacts there. It was appreciated apparently because they invited me another trip and that started in 1960 and lasted 4 years – ’60, ’61, ’62, ’63. ’64 no it lasted 5 years. It was mostly International square dance – International but I did a lot of calling in Europe and a lot of Army bases and the Americans on the Army bases. Then I called all over England too in Nottingham, London, Manchester, Birmingham. It was sort of like the pebble in a pond as I told you. The ripples expanded – unfortunately we were not yet on the moon so I couldn’t call there. That’s my life’s goal is to be the first square dance caller calling on the moon.
BB – There you go. Laughs
RH – You asked the American Squares. Then when I started that trip in 1957 it was improvident to continue editing the magazine if I’m not in the country so I turned it over to Frank and he got a fellow named Rod LaFarge. Did you run into him?
BB – Yes, I remember Rod.
RH – Well you should do more on that because he was a very, very important person also. He had magazines and Rod LaFarge edited it for a while and then something happened to Rod so Frank sold the magazine and it’s been moved around 3 or 4 times. It still, I mean however remains the longest continually published square dance magazine in the United States because Sets In Order started afterwards. In 19- after, about 2 years afterwards. Ralph Page’s started – well his was more square dance and folklore dance. The other magazine – oh there were about 30 different local publications. Les Gotcher had one too. Have you contacted Les?
BB – Well, he passed away.
RH – Oh, has he? You know he was originally from Texas.
BB – Yes, I knew that.
RH – You know from Leaky, Texas in the southwest between San Antonio and Uvalde
BB – Well, he finally moved to Hawaii and …
RH – Well he moved – he was – he didn’t call Texas style. He called really his own style.
BB – Yeah, Gotcher style. Right.
Rickey Holden Interview
RH – Yeah. He gave us all his records. We have his complete Black Mountain Records.
BB – Right. I … Tape stops abruptly –
END OF SIDE A
BB – … turn it over and we’ll start again. I’m sorry I missed part of that but we were talking about …
RH – That’s OK at my age I don’t mind. In fact my defense my daughters say I do it all the time.
BB – We were talking about ‘The Song of the High Level Dancer’ and Madeline …
RH – ‘The Song of the High Level Dancer’ was …
BB – … and Madeline Allen …
RH – … a story I wrote in American Squares. I have a copy of it here and I can look it up and send it to you – what the date was and Madeline Allen – have you run across her?
BB – Yes, I knew Madeline and Dan. They were great people.
RH – Well, she was the brains behind …
BB – Sure, Right.
Rickey Holden Interview
RH – … and she, she wrote a scathing, a scathing reply. She was very unhappy with it but several other people, including Ted wrote and said, “Yes” because dancing to music and phrasing is important. The whole argument was phrasing.
BB – Yes, Very interesting. I probably should explain to the people that may be listening to this tape or reading the transcript just what the connotation of a high level dancer was. Back in the days that you’re talking about, the 40’s and 50’s, dancers were graded sort of as a low level dancer or average dancer or a high level dancer so that, supposedly the high level dancers were better dancers and knew more, etc. which is not necessarily true. I thought I’d better put in that little explanation.
RH – I believe the term was a California term and it meant that they had passed through ‘X’ number of weeks of preparation and essentially it meant they could dance anything that any caller could call which is never true because there is no dancer in the world that can dance anything that any caller can call if the caller wants to louse them up. It’s an absurdity.
BB – Of course it was. Well anyway, I know that you have been involved in the recording business because you presented the music that I recorded to on the Folkraft label…
RH – Sure.
BB – …back years ago. You did that in Belgium and it had quite a symphonic sound as a matter of fact but it never did catch on back here – I mean those particular records. I was hoping they might be – might influence some of our Modern Western people to start dancing to the music a little bit.
Rickey Holden Interview\
RH – I think if you’re writing anything you should define the positive and negative aspects of that term “Modern Western”. The positive aspects are – it is a good recreation and many people enjoy it. The negative aspects are, in my estimation – it ain’t dance.
BB – Right. Yep, I agree with you.
RH – Of course, you have do. You come from a place where they dance. Your calls on Folkraft are beautiful.
BB – Well, thank you.
RH – Frank and both enjoyed it very much. We liked them a little bit better than we liked your brother. Were you ever a full time caller?
BB – Oh yes,
RH – You were?
BB – Yes, pretty much.
RH – I didn’t know. I knew your father called but I didn’t know whether you were full time or not. I know Al had the Barn in Stepney where we used we have – we had 2 or 3 years of dance weeks.
BB – Right. Right. No actually people don’t realize that our father started to call the year that Al and I were away to college the same year.
RH – Oh. I thought he’d been calling longer than that.
BB – Nope, no, he was always very supportive etc. and helped carry us around before we were old enough to drive. No, he was never a caller. He was never a musician.
Rickey Holden Interview
He played bass drum in the American Legion Fife and Drum Corps but that was the extent of his musical knowledge. The music all came from Mother. She was a concert pianist.
RH – Ah, so there is music in the family.
BB – She made her debut as a concert pianist in Hartford when she was 14. As a matter of fact I’ve often said I don’t know really how those two ever connected but they both went to Connecticut State College which – the University of Connecticut was known as at the time. Dad was bound to be a farmer so he had nothing to do but he had to come back home.
RH – From what – what county were you in?
BB – We lived in Fairfield County …
RH – Fairfield County.
BB – … in Danbury, yes.
RH – Well, well, well. That’s interesting so actually we were born in the same county.
BB – There you go. Well that’s interesting. So with all your experience are you still working at all in the field?
RH – Oh yeah. Oh yeah. I do when they ask me. I don’t push it. I’ll be in America in January and February. Maybe I could come see you in Albuquerque.
BB – Oh I’d love to have you. I really would. We probably could arrange something for you if you’d like.
RH – Whew. Sure, Why not. Every little bit helps. That’s the reason for traveling rather than just going there and back. I have to wind up a few things in San Antonio and Austin and around Houston. The Society of Folk Dance Historians has a special meeting and they asked me to come so I’m booking a few dances or something like that.
Not too much International Folk dance work because I have a bad leg now but you don’t happily need to be able to dance in order to call or sometime you should have danced.
BB – Well, we have a folk dance group here and they dance twice a month. Of course there’s the Lloyd Shaw Dance Center is available for a dance. I’ll pass the word around and see if anything – when is it you’re …
RH – When you’re talking it’s the – the area is January/ February. I doubt that I’ll come before the 1st of January. Well, we can do this by email too. By the way, I’m going to change my email because I’m getting 30 or 40 spam things a day. You know, everybody has this problem.
BB – Yes, right. Yeah, I just had a virus get on my …
RH – Does that answer all of the basic questions you had?
BB – Yeah, primarily. Yes, I think so.
RH – Well, the end of my own story is in 1964 in December I came back to the United States. I’d been living in Europe traveling around working and staying a great deal in Germany but other because my daughter had a prob.. – my first daughter, my oldest daughter – because I have 3 children, one with my first wife Marti and 2 with my present wife. So I had to come back to take – to supervise something. So I took a job as the Associate Director of Folkraft Records in Newark and that is what you mean by Folkraft – American Squares Newark. I stayed there for about a year and a half and it was Frank – do you have Frank Kaltman in your – of course you know Frank. Frank said he was going to turn over Folkraft to me but he couldn’t do it like so many people who start a business it just wasn’t in him. So I said I’d go to Belgium and I’ll start Folkraft Europe. That’s why in 1967 I think I had already met my wife – 2nd wife to be and I – my first wife, Marty – she died in 1964 if I recall correctly in Wilmington. So I thought well, I’ll go and live in Brussels and see how it works and it worked out well enough so my wife – we live here, we have our house here, we have – our children were born here in the same hospital she was born in and from here I’ve been all around Europe and to a certain extent Asia and Africa. The same with square dancing when it’s possible but for the large part with International Folk dancing and mostly for educational groups although some with recreational groups. Of course, schools go on forever but recreational groups, well they live and die depending on the leadership locally. In that time I made one other – a third round-the-world trip to Australia and stopped into a lot of countries on the way working to pay for that and that was just 3 trips around the world only. At the present time I think I counted I’ve worked professionally in 80 – eight zero – different countries. So, I don’t think anybody – that doesn’t mean I’m the best it just means that it was my luck to do that at the right time at the right place.
BB – Well, looking back is there anything you might have done differently?
RH – Who knows. Who knows. I joined Actors Equity. I spent one summer in Summer Theatre in Pawling, New York…
BB – Oh, did you?
RH – …and thought I might go – to continue in the professional theatre. Square dancing was more interesting so I got a job for that. That was one of the reasons for moving to – from Texas to Delaware partly to be closer to Frank – partly to be closer to New York Theatre but square dancing was too much – had too strong a hold on me.
BB – Right. That’s interesting. I had a square dance club in Pawling at one time.
RH – You what?
BB – I had a square dance club in Pawling at one time.
RH – In Pawling?
BB – Yes. Called it the PDQ’s.
RH – Well, perhaps you know about the Starlight Theatre there?
BB – Yes.
RH – Well, that’s where I worked.
BB – I’ll be darned.
RH – The Starlight Theatre was run by Isabel Rose Jones and the Jones family and the seats around – special seats around the outside I built.
BB – Is that so? Laughs
RH – I was a carpenter too.
BB – Well what a small world. What a small world. Well this has certainly been a very, very interesting conversation Rickey. I’m sure we’ll be together again on the email so as soon as you change your email address….
RH – Well, write to me on the present one. I actually have 2 and it’s the second one – the first one I got was called – I’ve forgotten it now. Anyhow, the second one is usa.net – RHFE – that’s Rickey Holden Folkraft Europe. That’s the easiest one. I don’t get spam on that. It has a good spam protector thing. Are you still interested in the long biography about how I learned to dance and all that?
BB – Oh yes. I’d love to – love to have that. Right.
RH – Well, I’ve got it scattered on 2 or 3 different computers and I haven’t yet put it all together again. When I find it I’ll send it to you.
BB – Well, I’d really appreciate that.
RH – OK. I have your number. I think you gave me your number somewhere.
BB – OK. Do you want it again?
RH – Well, I think its – wait a minute – let me look it up here. Yeah, here you are. Bob Brundage, 505 266-7375.
BB – That’s the one, right.
RH – That’s the one.
BB – Well Rickey, I can’t thank you enough for taking the time to – I’m glad that we had a chance – that I was able to catch you at a time…
RH – Well, you’re good for the ego you know. Not a lot of people will remember – not a lot of people – young people will remember what I did there because for 35 years I’ve been in Europe and only occasionally done – I haven’t done any real square dance tours because there hasn’t been much point to it. I can’t spare the time because you can’t work locally and – you can’t work in Europe and also run back and forth across the country – across the ocean. So, anything else you want to know or any lapses in this story send me an email. You have it usa.net.
BB – Yes.
RH – OK. Very good to talk with you Bob.
BB – I was just writing that down. Probably there will be a couple of names that I may not know the proper spelling or something like that.
RH – Any names you need to check I mean – any names. You asked somewhere about people who influenced me. I suppose the original caller – I’ve forgotten his name but he used to call at Putney and he was one that I followed mostly but I didn’t call at that time. I was only 13 years old – didn’t call. The first square dance I called was on Stratton Pond in the Adirondack Mountains on a IOCA trip. You know what IOCA is?
BB – Yes, I…
RH – Intercollegiate Outing Club Association. The Saturday night dances that were in – that Al Smith called with Walter Lob fiddling and all the rest of us playing guitars – those were in the Memorial Hall in Harvard and Joe Blundon and I used to dance regularly or Joe danced an awful lot there and Ted did too. I was usually playing guitar because we all sort of joined in the orchestra. So the IOCA – those were IOCA dances. There were a lot of other stories but I don’t want to keep you on the phone.
BB – Well, that’s no problem. Well, let me see, let me say again I can’t thank you enough for taking the time to chat with us and I’ll look forward to talking with you further by email at least and if anything else comes up I have your phone number. I didn’t – I don’t have any problem getting through to you so…
RH – Any time
BB – … I had tried you a little earlier but your line was busy but…
RH – Well, actually I picked up the phone and nobody answered so the line wasn’t busy. I thought it was – I didn’t know who it was.
BB – Oh well, I heard a sound that I thought was a busy signal but be that as it may.
RH – It was a mistake. Anyhow we’ve got it now.
BB – We’ve got it now, right. Rickey, it’s been a pleasure.
RH – Same here Bob.
BB – OK. We’ll be talking to you.
RH – Alright.
BB – Bye bye
RH – Bye.
[ii] Windham County, Vermont
[iii] Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA
[iv] He started the magazine ‘American Squares’ in 1945
[v] The others were: Virginia Anderson (CA), Al Brundage (then of Stepney, CT), Jimmy Clossin (then of Orlando, FL), ‘Gus’ Empie (WA), C.D. Foster (CO), Burt Hall (MI), Paul Hunt (NY), J.B. Hurst (OK), Dr. Frank Lyman (IA), Ralph Page (NH), John Zagoricho (NJ)
[vi] June, 1956, the date the magazine moved to Newark, NJ – Rod LaFarge, Editor