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Remembering 55 Years of the Callahans

[Roving Reporter]

The only couple that I know that remember all 55 years of Mike Callahan’s square dancing history among us are Ted and Ruth Phillips; and they were members of the Teen Club at the time.

Looking back at Mike and Wanda’s now 40-year celebration of their Shamrock Squares club, and with years of old Promenaders at my fingertips, I felt “prompted” to look back through my own historic picture files and share some select few of them with you…in the hope that you might just happily smile in remembering some of the good square dancing friends that are no longer with us.

So, with just these few words of introduction, take a few moments to scan through the pictures, and for those of you that know or knew them, let your hearts be gladdened by the special “knowings”…and make a point of telling people like the Callahans how much you treasure all that, through them, we continue to enjoy. You might also count the times you discover our treasured friends, Ted and Ruth, and tell them, too…

Happiness Is Right Around “Your Corner”…

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“Your Support of This Publication Will Determine Its Continuance!”

     Ralph Weber, 1962      

The support was resounding, and Vol. 1, Issue 2 was in the mail the next month, November 1962, and already wearing the PROMENADER name. Grace Boyer made the winning name suggestion, selected from over 50 entries. Grace was a member of the Irondequoit Squares and the Swinging 8’s. She walked away with $5.00 worth of prizes for her efforts.

Of course we are talking about the beginnings of the publication you are now reading: The Promenader!

I am including the first issue here, and hopefully the second issue also, once we work out the mechanics for doing it. In any event, the two make some very interesting reading and paint a portrait of dancing then — not so different from now.

Read on. You might find some refreshing ideas.

Dick Halstead, Roving Reporter/Federation Historian

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Over a Half Century of Published Promenader Issues

Actually I had feared that a “Half Century of Promenader Issues,” a full set, plus extras, might extend wall-to-wall in my downstairs second office/workshop!

The good news in terms of “manageability” is that as you can see, they all fit nicely on my father’s old office desk that I now use as an overflow work area, and “Man Cave”!

Irma’s worst fears as expressed in her first reaction were:

“What are we going to do with all of them?”

Alas! All has now been peacefully allayed. As you can see, the full set, from the last published issue in 2014 on the extreme left in the picture, to the very first issue mailed out in October of 1962, covers just a little over three feet of desk space, and includes the stack of “Extra Copies” stacked flat behind my right shoulder. The two black and one grey plastic containment open boxes add stability…needed especially for the early four-page plain paper stapled issues.

My plan is to devise a way, working with Sid and Peter, to copy these issues and make them “Historic Documents” under the HISTORY TAB in our website. These first two issues are very revealing in terms of how our Promenader came to be, who was involved, and even the Promenader title itself. I envision just scanning them. However, we will see how enlightening talks with Peter and Sidney resolve this.

My quick survey revealed that the first editors were Lew Dietz and Bill Bibler, with Bill continuing until September, ’68 and Lew until September ’69, when Carl and Anita Warschkow took over these duties until February, ’71. On a personal note, Carl and I worked together at then RF Communications. I have not explored all the interim editors, but I do know that Carl and Elaine Mallaber were editors for four years until Betty and Andy started their tenure with the September 1998 issue, and were still at the helm with our last printed issue ending in 2014.

One last observation before I end this for now, hoping to have piqued interest to the extent that we may soon have a small committee to work with me in recovering historically interesting information…such as, how many know the clubs that were active then: it is all in there, including club officers and a wealth of other information. The clubs then were: Belles ’N’ Beaus; Country Twirlers; EKC-O Squares; Fiddle A Rounds; Genesee Dancers; Irondequoit Squares; Swinging 8’s; and the Rochester Rollaways.

For anyone interested, we will happily offer access to these files at any time we are home. Heated in winter/air-conditioned and humidity-controlled year around…but during January, February, and March we are away for the winter!

Dick & Irma Halstead, Roving Reporters and Federation Historians


Cayuga Cut-Ups and Boo Bull Squares Host National Caller Johnny Preston

[Roving Reporter]

The Cayuga Cut Ups have a long history of bringing in great national callers, like Johnny Preston, who just returned from thrilling square dancers in Europe. So if you missed the Cut Ups Dance on Aug. 13 at the Apple Station in Cayuga, NY, then maybe you caught up with him at one of the Boo Bull dances at the Henrietta Fire Hall on Aug. 18!

I didn’t get an accurate count of squares at the Cayuga dance, being busy dancing myself, but the place was packed with exhuberance and smiling friendly faces. It would have been hard to find someone NOT smiling!

I also point out that when other callers show up to dance, you know we are dealing with an exceptionally talented caller. Among the pictures here, you will find: Ron Brown, Dick Schweitzer, Gil Porter, Keith Harter, and Richard Rosenfield…also professional cuers, Lisa and Geoge Treichler, Jeannie and Keith Harter, and Eileen and Carl Webster.

Prompting me also to remember that Mark Thone has his own devoted following and had the floor full of round dancers between tips…making it a perfect night for dancing.

Dick Halstead, Roving Reporter

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How To Be A Good Angel

The monthly magazine American Squaredance carries a regular column called “Callerlab Viewpoints.” The topic in the current issue (Volume 70, Number 9 – September, 2015) covers a very timely topic, so we present the column below in its entirety (with minor changes to adapt it to our area):

Callerlab Viewpoints, by Mike Seastrom

The following has been edited from “Square Dance Nebraska — Ideas.” A special thanks to Mike Bramlett for sharing some great information on the subject of how to be a good angel.

Is your halo on straight? It is important that as many club members as possible come to the class as “angels.” What are “angels”? They are the wonderful people who volunteer their time to ensure that new dancers have the best possible learning experience.

“Angels” provide new dancers with their first real look at a club. How “angels” behave and treat new dancers, other “angels,” and visitors will affect class members’ decisions regarding whether or not to join your club.

“Angels” are also role models. No matter what the instructor and club try to communicate to the students regarding etiquette, attitudes, or styling, class members inevitably take their cues from what they see “angels” doing. So it is important that “angels” be extra careful to be good role models.

Smile, be enthusiastic, and enjoy the dancing. Be friendly, courteous and gentle. This is sometimes easier to say than do, especially if it has been a long day. Let’s be honest; some of us have personal agenda, perhaps disagreements with club policies, or less than cordial relationships with specific club members. These issues are out of place at new dancer events and must be put aside.

Although most of us do the right things instinctively, the majority of the time it can’t hurt to reiterate certain points. The following advice for “angels” has been extracted from several sources, including articles in square dance publications and handouts prepared for other clubs.

“Angels” Are Not Teachers

This is perhaps the most common misconception that can cause problems. The primary teaching function of an “angel” is to teach by example and be in the right place at the right time. One important thing you can do is establish hand holds after every move. Not only does this help students maintain their orientation in the square, but it’s also a very good habit for every dancer to develop.

It is always tempting to explain something your square is not getting, and the new dancers will often ask you to do this — but you must resist. It diverts the student’s attention from the teacher and one of the most important things for a new dancer to learn is to listen to the teacher/caller. Sometimes you can clarify a simple point for students between tips; this is fine, but not while the caller is at the microphone.

Another difficult point is just how much help you should give in getting dancers into the right place. Dancers, after all, must learn to do the moves on their own. To gently guide someone through a maneuver, if they have a momentary lapse of memory, might be okay and sometimes one can help by indicating nonverbally where a person should go. Just remember that we accomplish little by pushing or pulling a dancer through an action when he or she doesn’t know what was supposed to have been done.

It is better to let a square break down rather than to use force getting people into the right place. A broken down square is an indication to the instructor that dancers are having problems. Be sure the teacher is aware of problems. Raise your hand if necessary and ask the teacher to explain something if your square is having trouble.

But be careful not to embarrass any dancer by the way you ask for help. It is much better to say that “the square is not getting a certain move” rather than saying “Steve is not getting a certain move.”

Encourage students. Let them know that all new dancers make mistakes and that things get better with practice. Also, “angels” make mistakes too. It is good to admit to them cheerfully, as it makes the students less tense about their own mistakes.

Club Styling

Club styling is always a major source of contention. It is important new dancers learn the calls with standard CALLERLAB styling; that is, without the added flourishes that are done in certain areas. The teacher will introduce these regional differences at appropriate times after the calls are mastered. “Angels” must use only the styling which has been taught to the class.

This is not always easy. How many remember to Swing Your Partner without a Twirl at the end? It is really very important not to introduce more confusion into a new dancer’s learning experience. Some students are going to want you to teach them how it’s done before they have mastered the call, but you should resist the temptation.

Some Random Additional Advice

  • Square Up With Everyone, not just a few friends. Seek out the new dancer who is having difficulty and ask them to dance with you. Make sure than new dancers are not sitting out because “angels” are dancing.
  • End Conversations Promptly when the teacher begins a tip. If you are not dancing, keep your conversations far away from the dance area.
  • Cheerfully Lend A Hand if you are asked to help set up or clean up, help with refreshments, or take attendance.
  • Watch For security problems, accidents and dangerous situations like spills or debris on the floor.
  • NotifyThe Instructor if there are problems with the sound.
  • Don’t Complain about the hall, the floor, the caller or anyone attending the class.
  • Don’t Criticize students or other “angels.”


  • Your name badge.
  • You are an example to the new dancers and an ambassador for your club.
  • Have fun! “Angels” are a key part of whether a new dancer joins your club.

(For American Squaredance subscription information, send email to:

Sybil Briggs

A Square Dance Tribute to an Outstanding Leader      

I cannot remember ever entering the Washington Irving School without receiving a smiling, hugging welcome from Sybil Briggs. And pretty much the same can be said for visiting the Village Squares or Country Twirlers, or for attending any Rochester Area Federation meetings over the past many years. Almost the same can be said for the Southern Tier Wheelers. The list could go on and on. The Rochester Area Federation has lost one of its most outstanding leaders, and for many of us, a dear friend.

You may recall that Ed and Sybil were the 2001 Daphne-Norma Leadership Award recipients. Earlier, though it was somewhat less publicized, this couple also received the Circle of Service Award for their work in revitalizing Rochester’s travel club, the Circul-8-tors. This goes back a few years, but as chairpersons of DOR for seven straight years, they returned this centerpiece of our calendar into profitability at a time when it was thought to be failing.

Sybil and Ed were officers of the Southern Tier Wheelers when we joined in the early ’90s. That was in the days when there was a “Waiting List” to join. The club had more than 150 members, and they would not all fit on the dance floor. Happily, Irma and I were approved in a month, and I know we have Ed and Sybil to thank for that. Like Irma and me, Ed and Sybil served for many years as NSDCA North East area representatives, an area that covers all states north and east of Virginia, with the one exception of Pennsylvania.

Of course, going back to the early 1960s and with their former spouses, Millie Briggs and Fred Northrup, we find that they have been members and officers in many clubs, including the Village Squares, the Country Twirlers, and the Victor Swing-A-Longs. Sybil was at one time president of the Lilac Squares. She and Ed also round danced with the Seneca Silhouettes. Who can forget the pork roast/barn dances that Sybil and Fred Northrup hosted through the ’80s and early ’90s in Bloomfield, which she and Ed continued until they moved to Chili. The barn had a specially rebuilt floor to make the dancing comfortable and safe.

We all extend our condolences to Ed, and share in his loss. …but our trials here merely fit us for an eternity with those we love.

Dick Halstead