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Darling Nellie Gray - Happy Hale

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Darling Nellie Gray - Happy Hale


Happy Hale was a caller from Bernardston, MA, and some have speculated that Ralph Page patterned his style as a singing caller on Hale's technique. Other Happy Hale recordings at the Library of Congress are a mix of contras and squares: Hull's Victory, Pop Goes the Weasel, Morning Star, Miss McLeod's Reel, Merry Widow, a Quadrille, Lady Walpole's Reel, Morning Star

In addition to an audio file and a photograph, there is a published (1938) description of his calls for this dance.

Dudley Laufman writes: "Happy Hale was a colorful character. He was a Negro, or at least with Negro blood. (A lot of folks from his part of Massachusetts around the Greenfield area were part of the Underground Railroad in the Civil War.) John Putnam was a Negro barber and fiddler caller dancing master from Greenfield, MA. I have a photo of him.

"But old Happy was a wild one. He smoked a ceegar while calling. (I wonder if that is why [Ralph] Page puffed on ceegars.) Happy was quite the ladies' man. Used to dance and call at the same time so's he could get his arms around the damsels. He used to take one outside and call the dance through the open window at the same time he was courting a sweet thing in the bushes.

"His brother Jack Hale used to come to the dances armed with a case of Coke and a case of rum. He would open the coke and fill some empties halfway with Coke and fill the other half with rum. And sell rum and Cokes. They were on the wooly side, I'll tell you."



American Folklife Center, Library of Congress, Collection ID #: AFC 1942/002: SR195

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Item: Darling Nellie Gray - Ralph Page (clip) is related to This Item