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Jim Mayo - "Little Black Book"

This is caller Jim Mayo's book of dances, dating from the 1950s and into the 1960s. It's a good example of a serious caller's repertoire during this period.For comparison with another well-known New England caller, see Al Brundage's Little Black Book, stored on the website of the Square Dance Foundation of New England.

Bob Aylward - related items

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Bob Aylward - caller biography

This is an excerpt from an unpublished memoir by Robert Aylward, who called square dances in the Boston area, starting in the 1930s. It's a detailed portrait of the evolution of a caller.

Sammy Spring's Quadrille - Don Armstrong

This dance, presented by Don Armstrong at the 1955 Minnesota State Square Dance Convention, comes from the calling of Sammy Spring. Don remarks in his introduction that the dance is similar to one of the figures of the Lancers, and he has this to say about the man from whom he learned the dance:

"We are privileged to have down in Florida one of…

Description of a Quadrille, 1870, West Virginia

Satirical description of a quadrille, from a West Virginia newspaper; no mention is made of a caller

Fifty Miles from Times Square

This is an excerpt from John Cohen's 1972 film, used here by permission of the filmmaker.

caller: Herb Strickland
musicians: Bud Snow, Jay Ungar, Lyn Hardy, Abby Newton, Tom Allen

Fiddler Jay Ungar, seen in the dance footage, writes: "The dances were started by the Concerned Democrats in Putnam County, NY to raise money for the McGovern…

Santa Monica 1950 - Don Ward comments

The Trad-Dance-Callers listserv in 2008 had a discussion that touched on the Santa Monica dance. Don Ward was a participant in that event and he shared a few memories with the group.

Santa Monica 1950 - interview with Bob Osgood

As part of his extensive series of interviews with notable figures in the square dance world, Bob Brundage conducted a lengthy interview with Bob Osgood. Included here is the part of that discussion that dealt with the Santa Monica event. (It has been slightly reformatted by inserting paragraph breaks to improve readibility.) Brundage's…

Santa Monica 1950 - interview with Dan Allen

"Calling All Folk Dancers" was a weekly radio show created by California caller Mildred Buhler. The next show after the Santa Monica dance included an interview with Dan Allen; this is a transcription of that portion of the show. It's valuable as a first-hand account from immediately after the event.

Santa Monica 1950 - Sets in Order

Bob Osgood was editor and publisher of Sets in Order; he was also one of the prime organizers of the Santa Monica event. Here is his magazine's story about the dance.

Santa Monica 1950 - Let's Dance

Cover story about the Santa Monica dance from Let's Dance magazine

Santa Monica 1950 - program

The program was announced ahead of time in Sets in Order magazine, and it's an excellent list of common dances and prominent callers of that era. At the dance itself, a round dance was inserted after every three squares.

Santa Monica 1950 - World's Largest Square Dance

At the time, it was the world's largest square dance event. Santa Monica, California, was celebrating its Diamond Jubilee in square dance style. Lloyd Shaw was invited to be the Grand Marshall of the the parade and he acted as MC for the dance, along with Bob Osgood, on July 13, 1950. Dancing lasted for four hours, and some 30,000 people watched as…

Don Armstrong - square dance

By this time in his long career, Don Armstrong was mostly calling contra dances. In this example, he keeps dancers moving smoothly with a relaxed cadence to his calls.

I Like Mountain Music - Don Armstrong

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Servel Square Dance Club

The Servel Square Dance Club of Evansville, Indiana was formed by employees of the Servel plant, which made refrigerators before and after World War II. In this photo are square dancers, caller Clarence Haller, and the four-piece square dance band. This picture was taken at the Evansville Coliseum in 1950 or 1951.

Square Dance Institute - Rickey Holden, 1950

Syllabus of a workshop led by Holden in Massachusetts in 1950, introducing Texas style square dancing to New England dancers. In addition to notes on figures and styling, this handout included directions for some sample Texas dances. From the introductory remarks:

"One of the most common misconceptions about Western square dancing is that all of…

Square Dance Lessons - Doc Alumbaugh

A series of photographs with text illustrating basic square dance figures. This set, incomplete at the moment, appeared in a Rochester, New York, newspaper in 1950; Alumbaugh led a series of well-attended square dance classes in southern California in the mid and late 1940s. This geographical spread indicates the burgeoning appeal of square dance…