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Shamrock Squares Celebrate 40th Anniversary

If you can find yourself in one of these pictures, it means you made it to this once-in-a-lifetime event. Thanks to all who shared our 40th anniversary with us. It was a truly memorable evening.

For openers, Mike Callahan shared with us how the club came to be named Shamrock Squares…and the person responsible for the name was there to dance with us: Joan Engelbrecht. It also gladdened my heart to have Fran Holladay with us too…so I got to sit between two pretty ladies: Irma and Joan! Sadly, for the group picture I had to use the one without me in it. When I knelt in front of Wanda, I completely blocked her out.

Forty years ago, in 1975, there were no “advanced calls” as we know them today. However, the inventive Mike Callahan recognized the need for something new and challenging that would fill in his Monday and Tuesday schedule and generate the income stability of a “year-round” square dance club.

Recall also that this was the “heyday” of square dancing. TV and “go-watch-your-kids-play-sports,” and whatever else is now keeping people away, were less of a factor then. Callers and dancers were anxious to expand to A1 and A2, and they did.

By the second get-together, Joan Engelbrecht had submitted the winning name for this new club, and there were soon Monday and Tuesday night sessions, with Monday night being an A1 club and Tuesday night being an A2 club. Callerlab had come into being, with outstanding callers of the era in leadership roles, including Ed Foote of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, and Mike Callahan of Rochester.

The Monday night A1 club soon dissolved, as all of the dancers had moved up to A2, and it became known simply as an Advanced Club. A1 clubs are not uncommon in popular winter-over places like Florida, the Valley in Texas, and of course the Mesa area of Arizona. However, they do need a continuous feeder group to survive, and these places satisfy that requirement.

In any event, Wanda and Mike announced that they planned to hire Ed Foote for their 40th Anniversary Celebration and attempted to contact all former members for their catered Dinner-Dance, and you can see by the accompanying pictures that everyone who could possibly make it did. Our typical three to five squares swelled to almost eight!

If you would like to join this happy family of dancers, you are just a few calls away—and Sid Marshall’s excellent instruction can solve that for you. We dance at the Pieters Family Life Center, where we enjoy air-conditioned comfort all summer. We are a “Caller Run Club,” with no annual fees. If you dance regularly, you can get a new Green Shamrock Squares Badge.

I leave you with a little Ed Foote humor:

“Want to get a bargain engagement ring for your sweetie—just in case it doesn’t work out?

…Buy her a ‘Sham’rock!”

Dick Halstead, Roving Reporter

PS: For a three-page list of “Tips for Advanced Dancers” by Ed Foote click HERE. Many of the general tips on page one are applicable to dancers at every level, so I thought it would be a good idea to share this with everyone.

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Promenader Dance 2015

[Roving Reporter]

For a great number of years the Promenader Dance meant going through our Square Dance closets and looking for good serviceable items to donate…and maybe at the same time fantasizing about bargains that we might find at this highlight of our dance calendar, second only to DOR.

Well, as six or more squares worth of us dancers now know, that has all changed with our new FREE ONLINE version. While there is a certain nostalgia, reflecting on the camaraderie of the sorting parties, I certainly did not miss the loading and lugging stuff that didn’t sell to our basement and wherever else, and I am certain that Jane Avery does not miss that either.

Thank You Jane for finally resolving everything associated with the clothing donation, and especially for your pre-planning of this event.

Jane Avery has made arrangements with the manager of the Ridge Road Salvation Army Thrift Store to set up and maintain a used Square Dance Clothing section. Because this is a special section in the store, DO NOT drop clothing off at the back door where donations are usually left. You must bring the clothing in the FRONT DOOR and go directly to the counter and tell the clerk that you have SQUARE DANCE CLOTHING TO DONATE. If possible ask for the manager Elaine and make sure they understand that it is Square Dance Clothing to go in the special section. Some of the people there know what to do with it. It is best to wait until someone takes it and understands what it is. Otherwise, you can call Jane Avery at 585-690-3161 to make arrangements to drop the clothing off at one of our dances and someone there will take care of it. The participating store is The Salvation Army Thrift Store at 3790 West Ridge Road, Rochester, NY 14626 (just west of Sam’s Club).

As the attached pictures suggest, the Promenader Dance was a fun evening. Many thanks to our great staff for the excellent rounds and squares…and to Mary Ann Lane and Sharon Meyer, who manned the desk all evening with backs and legs that needed resting and healing.

Our thanks also to Peter and Sally Emmel, and to Betty and Andy Ludwick for their on-going efforts. I note that Peter’s fertile brain is yet busy conceptualizing perhaps a new creative format, hopefully bringing the “Promenader Benefit Dance” event more in line with our new and greater need for new dancers. This year’s net dance proceeds of $238 went to help fund the RAF grant program to help support clubs in their recruitment and retention efforts.

Perhaps the answer is as simple as creating an awareness that happiness is right around your corner…as is a healthy longevity in dancing.

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The Holladay Home Wednesday Night Challenge Dancers

[Roving Reporter]

Everything can be “challenging” if you don’t know the definition or the language of square dancing. I can remember when Irma and I were first learning to dance and something as simple as “Tag the Line” made my head swim. Now that we have visited Rochester’s only Challenge Club, wearing our “Roving Reporter” hats for this article, we find ourselves ready to join them. Hey, I need the brain exercise!

The club meets every Wednesday and dances from 7:30 to 9:30, and sometimes on Fridays, depending on the expressed wishes and vote of the members. With so few members and no “official” club status as far as I could tell, things are kind of dynamic, and yet they seem to have a great communication and rapport with each other. Inasmuch as they meet in Fran Holladay’s home (see Thomas M. Holladay obituary in this issue), she acts pretty much as the coordinator to determine everyone’s wishes and availability for the next session.

Do NOT think this is a fly-by-night operation however. The club has been in existence for over 40 years according to Joan and Ted, members since day one I believe, and they are the ones who pointed out this fact to us. Tom and Fran Holladay built the house in the early 1990s, and Tom insisted on the floating hard-wood dance floor in the roomy basement and triple-wide driveway specifically to accommodate the club.

Tom and his first wife, Janice, had a long history of dancing at every level and they traveled widely — wherever the great dancing was. Tragically, Janice was diagnosed with cancer in 1988, and died just nine months later in 1989. Tom and Fran both worked at Xerox and met as part of a devoted noon-hour walking group, and when love and wedding bells rang anew, Fran found herself on the fast-track to Basic, Mainstream, Plus, and Challenge.

So with this no-cost dancing facility, there are no dues, and lessons to tapes are free. However, Mike Callahan calls there every other Wednesday and, I believe, charges just the very modest $4 per person. What a deal, and we are already long-time friends with everyone, even the others not shown here like Jim and Laurie from Avon.

I do not feel comfortable putting a private address in here. However, I can say that their home is within a mile of the Arboretum in Webster, just off Phillips Street on Wildmere, if memory serves me correctly. Anyone wishing more details can call or email me. I am sure the club would welcome you as they have us.

On that note, we thank Mike Callahan, Fran, and all the club members for their kind welcoming, and for their patience with us as we enjoyed learning some new calls and dancing concepts. Now to download the C-1 definitions…

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Federation Expands Support for Club Advertising & Promotion

Following a very successful basket raffle from the 2015 Dance-O-Rama the Federation has reviewed its advertising programs. The purpose of these program is to assist all of our clubs who want to grow and remain strong through the addition of new dancers. The cost of advertising has always been a major stumbling block for many clubs. The Federation wants to support all the clubs with advertising that will attract new dancers for classes, as well as provide funds to assist clubs in retaining existing dancers.

The Federation is offering two programs. The first is a $60.00 reimbursement. Any Club can use this one time per calendar year for any advertising it chooses to do. Any appropriate advertising qualifies for this reimbursement, including radio, print advertising, posters, lawn signs, just to name a few. The club carries out their program, and once it has been finished, all they need to do is send receipts and a copy of the ads to the federation president for reimbursement to the club up to $60.00. (The preferred submission method is via email to Please note: This is a reimbursement program — the Federation will pay you, NOT your vendors.

The second program, is a Grant Program. This program could be used for recruitment or dancer retention events, and can be used one time per calendar year. This has an upper limit of $125.00 and can be used in any number of ways that assist the club in recruiting new dancers or retaining recent graduates. The Federation has provided a simple business form on the Federation portion of the website along with instructions: Click HERE. This should be filled out and submitted to the Federation president ( for approval at least 6 weeks prior to your event. After the event has occurred, provide the president with your proof of the activity along with any receipts and a summary of the event for reimbursement to the club. Again the Federation will not pay your vendors.

These are very exciting programs and it is important that ALL of our dancers help the Federation in the funding of the programs. This is currently done through four sources of money. First is the Basket Raffle at Dance-O-Rama; second is the Promenader Dance; third is any Memorial Gifts to the Federation and finally any undesignated gifts to the Federation. As with all funds, money can run out so it is very important that these sources be continually refilled, and the best part is that dancing revolves around most of them.

Warren Olson, RAF President

A Tribute to Unassuming Greatness in a Life Lived Among Us: Thomas M. Holladay, Ph.D.

November 16, 1934 – June 8, 2015      

Tom had not danced with us at the Shamrock Squares for the past few years, and as a consequence, he had fallen off many of our square-dancing world “radars&rdquo: thus I apologize for the lateness in writing this. Of course, Tom’s absence from the Shamrock Squares was not willful, as he suffered the early onset of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, which ultimately brought about his demise.

Absence from the Shamrock Squares, however, was not absence from dancing. When Tom and Fran designed their new home together in the early 1990s, the home included a spacious basement with a floating wooden floor: specifically to accommodate his Challenge dancing group…such was his love for dancing, and such was his love for all of us. In doing so, according to his doctors, this activity prolonged his life and did much to stave off the ravages of these insidious diseases.

Courageously, and honoring the selfless wishes of husband Tom, wife Fran continues to host the Wednesday night Challenge Dance Club, perpetuating its over 40-year history.

Although we had danced with Tom and Fran for many years at Mike Callahan’s Shamrock Squares, when confronted with writing this, and finding the Ph.D. after his name in his published obituary, I suddenly realized that I did not really “know” him at all!

Talking to Fran, I discovered that Tom had attended Berea, a Christian-based college in Kentucky for people needing financial assistance. Berea provided work opportunities to pay for tuition. I asked Fran if she could give me a little background on Tom’s square dancing history, this was her answer:

“He actually started square-dancing in high school as he came from a dry county, and there wasn’t much else to do. In college and university there wasn’t much time for extracurricular activities, so he didn’t get back to it until the ’70s (up north, family man with kids). He loved the challenge of anticipating the moves in his head before they were called. I’m sure all callers and really good mathematical minds have the ability to continually calculate. Some can be annoying with this exceptional gift but you would never have suspected it with Tom. Even though he could have done a wonderful job, he never had an interest in calling.”

Tom did everything he could to promote dancing by supporting whatever level. He and Janice (his first wife) were dancing as high as C4 and traveled as far away as California to dance. “His traveling was not just for conventions and weekends; he traveled weekly—throughout every season, year after year—to both Buffalo and Syracuse just to support those groups. In his treasure of things, I found 14 club badges in addition to literally hundreds of convention ribbons,” added Fran, who continued,

“The plans for building our house always included emphasis on being able to accommodate dancers. On the few occasions I got bored or annoyed with having our house as the dance place, he always had a way of ‘softly’ bringing me around to ensure the promotion of dancing continued.”

Tom’s doctorate was in Physics, and before you think, “Ho Hum,” know that he retired from Xerox, and holds the patent for halftones. Halftones are pictures! You know those things we easily send back and forth today…that before Dr. Thomas M. Holladay’s contribution to the world, you could not do with the ease we do in digital format today.

In an eternal perspective however (that’s the one that we all eventually face), after reading the pages-long plaudits about this man, I find he could easily have been prideful; but he was not, and even though he was the most expert dancer that I have ever known, he was always helpful and kind…and content to let the caller do the teaching. He exemplified all the points of the Boy Scout Pledge of Honor, and the Scout Oath and Law. Of course, he was an Eagle Scout and he lived his too-short life in guileless obedience to all of these principles…not for show, but just because he was a kind and just man, practicing the Golden Rule…this was exemplified when his church asked for volunteers to open their home to a Vietnamese boy: his actions culminated in sponsoring and raising six such young lives over a span of 15 years. That is putting your money and your love where your mouth is.

Try not to picture a man of wealth spending to do all of this: Tom owned very few cars, fixing them all himself. Compounding the problem, think of all the “clunkers” required to transport all of these people all of the places they needed to go…and then think of the endless teaching and learning experiences trying to pass along these self-reliance talents to your children. His score is reflected in the life-long respect of an adoring family…and all of us, his square dance family.

I note that Fran did show up at Mike and Wanda Callahan’s Shamrock Squares 40th Anniversary Party, making all of this possible…and while a man like Tom can never be replaced, we can all pay him the honor of emulating the selfless life he led.

Our condolences to Fran and to all of Tom’s family and friends. We have lost a national treasure in this man of many talents who took such joy in serving others.

Dick Halstead, Roving Reporter, Friend

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