Gene Gowing Square Dance Caller
IN THE MONEY-Pert Pat Thomas, of Chicago, one of a small army 01 -money counters" gSl "" filled WUh ™ n * y ' The mom * was collected to the There's Big Dougk In Do-Si-Do But Look Out For 'Charlatans' to joift irt the cafnfjaigih to kfiep stats highways trash-ffee. By DICK KLEINER NBA Staff Correspondent . :NE\V YORK XNEA) — There's getting to be a lot of dough In the old do-si'do. That's because there's a, big shortage of good square dance callers and the ones who can do H well are profiting accordingly. accordingly. A take of $300 a week isn't unusual, unusual, according to Gene Gowing, who Is probably America's most Xamoufl' caller. Of course, that's only during "the 'season," but the Mason is getting longer all the time as square dancing keeps growing more popular; •Cowing isn't typical of the callers. callers. He dresses.impeccably — sort of.-a '-white collar caller — and speaks in the cultivated accents of a highly • educated man, which he i». At 81, he'wears a clipped mus- lach°. and his hair is gray.'ng al his temples. He looks ike a Wall Street banker or retired quiz show contestant. But the lines of his distinguished i>ce grow angry and his voice grow* 'firm when he talks about "the 'charlatans" among the callers. callers. • • "There, are maybe five ,or. six Kood callers in the.country," Gow- >ng- says. ;i "Eut there are., thousands thousands i of ^charlatans. They don't know what they're ddng. They can ruin a person for square dancing fcr the rest of his life." Gowing comes from Peterborough, Peterborough, N.H., where they look on the Virginia Reel as a new-fangled for- tign dance. His father and his Un?)e Un?)e were callers and he thinks his grandfather was, too. He grew up to the strains of "Turkey In the Straw" and could allemande al- GENE GOWING— Some callers have gone crazy with patter. most before the could talk.. But he .set his sights on other careers. He is a,graduate.of M.I.T, In architecture, a former art director director and a veteran actor. He succeeded succeeded Lon Chaney in horror pictures pictures in Hollywood's young days. In '32, he felt -the call to call. And he says he's never been pier or youthful of rhythm Rives him. healthier, attributing his appearance to the sense that square dancing He's been a professional caller now for 25 years, and -has been «t the corn-fed controls for square (lancing in such varied places as the White House, mental hospitals, swanky Florida hotels, the UN, factories, factories, society mansions, dorf-Astoria and Army camps. H«'s dsvised ways and means for the deaf-ahd-dUmb and patients in wheelchairs t6 square dance. He's Written a book, "Square Dane* i-nf for Everyone." And he's Itch* ing to go behind the iron Curtain, figuring maybe the Texas Star fan soften the Red Star. In all his travels, he says he's heard thousand of .callers and "tnost of them are pure charlatans." charlatans." Gowing feels that square dance calling is ah aft — a person person must feel the Urge to call, learn ull he can learn, then work hard for ten years before he's any good. "There are three requirements for a caller," he says. "He must be able to get along with people, have a sense of humor and have Infinite Infinite patience." And then he lists some more requirements requirements — a good Voice (Gowing (Gowing once studied nothing but "upward "upward inflection" for four weeks With a Voice teacher); an ability to manage a large crowd; a sense of rhythm; and a couple of changes of clothes. "If they ask me., to," he says, With a sad face, "I'll, wear cowboy clothes or dungarees., But I prefer to work in a business suit like this." There are three kinds of calls for square dancing. The basic call is prompting —"The caller is just a leader, prompting the dancers a measure or two before the action." Then came singing calls. And finally finally are the patter calls — "In the West, some callers have gone insane with all-kinds of weird patter patter and chatter. They have to be translated." Gowing thinks a beginner should stick to prompting. And, as for charlatans, they should stick to r some other line of work. 10-Lb. BAG Shop 421 E.