Tom and Jane Burgin - Part 2 - interview

ZOOM0002.WAV. Burgin 2 (Tom and Jane Burgin, Part 2)

JH:  Well, you know, we used to play with this guy, Wes St. Onge, and his father played, maybe more in Oneonta.
[00:00:10] But he played in Walton, square dances.
[00:00:17] RR:  So did you interview any other square dance callers besides Bruce?
Tom:  No, no.
RR:  OK. All right.
[00:00:24] RR:  Up at South Kortright.
[00:00:28] RR:  I was thinking that we went to a dance at Buels on Elk Creek. They had a dance every year, every year in the spring when the hay was out.
Tom:  So, Jane and I used to go there and they…
RR:  what I liked about that one was that the barn was so nice and big. Yeah. And so there was plenty of room to dance. Not always was there a lot of room….  You were squished (together).
[00:00:53] A nice part of it was, where you went in the upstairs, the doors were right on the level. You didn't have to climb any stairs.
RR:  Right. Right. Yeah, but I liked that part, too. That's right. Yeah. Yeah. So did you dance over in Meridale?
[00:01:10] Tom:  No, I don't think we ever did. I don't remember.
RR:  Because Meridale Farms was there.
[00:01:17] That's what made me think of that.
Tom: No, I don't remember any dances there.
JH:  Here's a tune that's a little different. It's not mentioned on here. But I think all this music is part of these lists. I guess they call them quadrilles. I don't know what the theory of them is, but there's one on here called “Miss McCloud's.”
[00:01:35] JH. That’s an old tune, a reel.  That goes way back to Scotland.
[00:01:39] Tom:  I wrote something on the back of that sheet you’ve got in your hand? I don't know, what that was…
[00:01:49] RR: (You) Didn't start till nine o'clock. Holy mackerel. Oh, no, you had to do your chores first.
Tom:  I didn't get done out of the barn usually till around 8:00, right.
RR:  By the time you got a bath or shower or whatever.   And ate a little say
Tom:  and drove clear over there. Right. Right.
[00:02:08] JH:  Yes. It would be nice to copy this, too. This is a kind of a description of a dance. Everything the caller would do. You (Robbie) would probably know this.
RR:  OK, I might.
[00:02:20] JH:  You know, this, and this was from your great grandfather.
[00:02:23] RR: I love this. I think you ought to read this.
Tom:  That's what I copied out of
[00:02:26] His call book, he had a regular call book. Look. And that music in that list I gave you. I took out of that book.

[See Peter Fraser's Tune List in Burgin Interview, Part 1]
[00:02:35] JH:  Maybe sometime we can imagine, if people are interested, we can copy this. Right. That's interesting, because the way the music changes every year, I think it's sort of interesting.
[00:02:49] Jane:  Well, you can sit right there and write this.
RR:  She's making you work.
[00:03:04 Tom: Now, give me this.
[00:03:05] JH:  Just read it into the thing here. We can do it later. Is this the first book, the extra one, this line here? You just read the first line and I can, we can copy it later. Where do you want it?  You just read it.
[00:03:25] Tom: “This has a list of square dance calls taken from Peter Fraser's call book written March 1st, 1890. Of these on this list, only three were on the list given to me by Bruce Hoyt.  The list also includes the key in which each would have been played on his violin/fiddle.”
[00:03:49] One is reading down the left hand and then we have the list here. We have put this on one side and the other. That's all, that's like that. That's right.
RR:  Says here square… Yeah. That's the… This know. Yeah.
Jane:  This is the one I copied off from.
[00:04:11] RR: In the original it says that the square dances went on regardless of the weather and it was unusual for one to be canceled.  So Bruce spoke of one winter night while playing in Roxbury during a snowstorm. A state trooper came in and announced that Palmer Hill to Andes was closed.  So when the dance got over later, he and his band went home by way of Stamford.  Oh my gosh!
[00:04:33] RR:  Oh, my gosh. All the way around to get home.
[00:04:38] Wow. Oh, wow.
[00:04:40] RR:  Only once did he fail to get home, and that time he couldn't get up the last hill due to the deep snow.
[00:04:46] RR:  Wow. That's amazing.
[00:04:48]  RR: I suppose that's true, though. I mean, you know, that was their entertainment. It wasn't like you had Saturday night to watch TV, though, right? There you go. And that makes the difference. It really does make the difference now. Yeah.
[00:05:04] JH:  Yeah. So any funny stories about the dances or..  I guess you have lots of memories.
[00:05:08] RR:  What do you remember about what? Lots of memories about going to the dances.
[00:05:13] Tom:  Well, I gave you two in there. And Bruce's, that I remember.
[00:05:19] Tom:  Ok, well, I remember going to Pleasant Valley and always they had refreshments at 11:00. George and I, of course, had worked all day. And when it got time, about time to go to the dance, we didn't have time to only just grab a little something to eat.  So we went to the dance and we figured out we’d get something in the intermission? Well, one night we were over there, the women (they) had putting it on. I think it was the Ladies Aid Society or something. They put that out, had a whole string of pies. So George and I bought one.
[00:05:55] Tom:  Divided it between us and we liked, George and I, we both like pies. And we had a good pie like that night.
[00:06:05] It was great. And then there was a little girl with us there. She was apparently from, from in the city or down that way. And she didn't know much about this part of the country. So she came. She was around there.
[00:06:25] Finally, she asked George, where are you from? All George says, “I'm from Apex.” Well, she's just says, “Where's Apex?” “Well,” he says “It's over there somewhere in the woods,” and she just wouldn't let that go. She kept at that all night long. What?
[00:06:48] You don't worry about it as much, you know. But not at all.
RR:  So George was your brother?
Tom:  No. Oh, just George Boles. George Boles. Okay. He’s just a good friend. Oh, yeah, I've known him….
[00:07:01] We went to grade school together out here and we've known each other for all those years. Right. We still, we still have a good time. We could visit all night.
[00:07:11]  …just remembering, you know, all these things.
[00:07:17] JH:  But it was all pretty much before television, a little bit later.
[00:07:22] We didn't have television, or we didn't have television here till 60. Right. In 1961 when we moved in the house we had and we got a television. She (Jane) says we had snow.
[00:07:42] Tom:  Yeah, that's what we had, a lot of snow.
[00:07:45] JH: Well I think you didn't miss much. And you got a lot more out of what you did, right? That's what I think, that's why people are interested in this stuff.  People had a good time. You can make your own entertainment.
[00:07:57] Tom:  Sure. Bruce talked about all the things that he saw from the stage that were happening on the floor.
[00:08:07] RR:  Yes. That's what he said. He said, “I could tell you stories.”
[00:08:12] Tom:  Yeah, yeah.  You know, he knew who came with who, who went home with who, too.
[00:08:17] RR:  He did. He told me about who went out during intermission and didn't come back in for a while.
[00:08:24] And so would this be your typical type of music instruments?
[00:08:32] That is that, was, that was Arnold Truscott. He called for them and they played for him. I don't know whether they all played every time. I had no idea. I don't remember only once going to a dance where they played.
[00:08:48] JJ:  So I don't know. OK. What was the normal play? When you’d go normally? Who would be playing music and what instruments?
[00:08:55] Tom:  I mean, we’d have… the fellow…. What was his name?  Harry Hitchcock. He played violin and Bob Parsons played accordion. Bruce played guitar. Who else, was there anybody else, that played at that time?
[00:09:23] Tom:  Somewhere I have a list of those fellows that played right, groups is the one in here.
RR:  You have that Bob McClenon played with them. OK. Where was it? Yeah. And I know Art Jamieson played with them once in a while. Yeah. Yeah, yeah. I can't remember who else, but I think Larry did too. Larry Jamieson did too. So what was your favorite square dance? What was the one that you always wished that you could dance?
[00:09:52] Which one, Mother?  “Promenade in the Moonlight.”  The one I liked.
[00:09:57] RR:  Ah.
[00:09:58] I mean, you got to do a lot of promenading close together.
Oh, is that what the words are?
Jane:  “Kiss your little honey if you dare.” Yeah, and “bump the ladies bustle.”
[00:10:15] I like the “Grape Vine Twist”. You think so? Yeah. Yeah, I did.
RR:  Yeah, that was fun.
Tom:  Yeah, that was fun. You know that? I think we…I think it was up to the high school we met one time, they had played “Grape Vine Twist” and led down the whole length of the floor. Oh, wow. That was quite a night. Yeah. I don't remember. I think probably… one or the other played in that night, either Bruce or maybe Hilton (Hoyt). It was good. I enjoyed that so much.
[00:10:55] Oh my. Yeah. We used to do that one.
JH:  Yeah. You did a lot too.
RR:  We did. We used to dance a lot, but I grew up in New Jersey and northern New Jersey kind of over on the Pennsylvania border area.
[00:11:08] RR:  We used to dance a lot. Yeah. So that was similar. Very similar in calls and dances, very similar. I think.
[00:11:23] You know, when I came here and Harold Tweedie picked us up -- one of the first weekends we moved here -- took us someplace to a dance. We certainly knew what we were doing.
[00:11:33] So it couldn’t have been too different anyway.
[00:11:39] Tom:  Yeah, Harold always has a good time.
RR:  He did. They did. He still is.
[00:11:49] RR:  So, Jane, what was your favorite dance? She mentioned one. Did you have a favorite dance?
Jane: No, nothing special. OK. You just want… it was good entertainment.  The kids of today don't know what they're missing.
RR:  Yeah, it's true. It's true.
[00:12:06] Did you have a special outfit that you wore?
Jane: No. We’d just wear whatever.
[00:12:14] Huh? At Buels, yeah, at the awesome Baldaufs.  And did you ever go to a dance over there? Sometimes I think I'm crazy, but Bob Miller's over in Franklin. Didn't he have them in his barn when he lived down like, near East Handsome Brook?
[00:12:31] Tom:  No, I don't think so. I don't think we ever went over there, OK?
[00:12:37] JH:   So your great grandfather …then?
[00:12:43] Did your father also and other relatives do dancing? No.
[00:12:47] Tom:  No. My father was crippled with polio when he was 19, so he never (did).
[00:12:57] I don't think they ever went to dances at all. I don't think they ever went to dances at all, though they might have.
[00:13:03] They might have gone to musicals (?).
[00:13:06] Tom:  Oh yeah. Dad enjoyed music.  He had a quite a library of (music).
[00:13:12] RR:  Oh yeah. And did he play?
Tom:  No. No. My grandmother, who would have been Peter Fraser's daughter. She played piano and she tried to teach me how to play piano but I never got along at that.
[00:13:31] RR: Oh my. Yeah.
[00:13:34] Tom: I played, played clarinet in high school, when I was in high school. The boys enjoyed music. I like good music.
RR:  That's good.
Tom:  We stay up quite often on Saturday night.
[00:13:46] Saturday night is our music night. Because you can find good music all the way from 6:30 till 11:00. Then we stay up and listen to that. I enjoy Molly B's poker party at 10.  I really enjoy that.
[00:14:03] RR:  And where do you listen to this or watch this?
Tom:  on television?
RR:  On television? Is there a country music station?
[00:14:11] Tom: Message 1 2 5. It starts out in Florida.   RFD.
RR:  Oh, got it. Yeah. Okay.
[00:14:18] Tom:  All right. It starts out, is it on 3. We watch Lawrence Welk tapes, tapes of Lawrence Welk. On 3, I think that's right. We watch that first. And then. And then we go up to 1 2 5, right.  It’s all country music.  Right on from then, it’s country music.
Jane:   But some I care for and some I don't. Marty Stuart. Too much noise, music.
[00:14:54] RR:  Yeah, that's right. Yeah, that's true. So you have brothers and sisters, right? Were any of them musical?
[00:15:02] No, I don't think either Dick or my sister Jean ever played. I remember anyway. Right.
[00:15:10] RR:  Right. Jean was my aid in school for a long time. Yeah. Yeah. Well, she worked in the classroom next to mine and so she came in. You know, she would come in with the students, the special students, and spend my class with me. I love her very much.
[00:15:29] JH:  Do you have any idea whether your great grandfather played by ear or read music?
[00:15:36] Tom:  I really don't know.
JH:  Because originally it was that people played more by ear.
Tom:  No, I don't really know.
[00:15:43] JH:  Matter of fact, I don't see him having a (music) stand there anywhere.
[00:15:54] JH:  Well, this is really quite wonderful. (We) got a lot of really good memories and we hope it will help…This will help on the (Grant Rogers) website. People, as you said, see what they've missed. Thank you very much.



Excerpt from Tom Burgin’s article about his 1990s interview with Bruce Hoyt, square dance caller:
Bruce Hoyt was a popular square dance caller from 1940 to 1990. [See Grant Rogers’ Project interview with Bruce on this website.]  Tom summarized his and Bruce’s conversation in a seven-page article written shortly after they spoke.  Many of the incidents involving Bruce that Burgin described were included in the Grant Rogers’ interview of Hoyt.  However, this is how Burgin ends his article:
“As time has gone on and all of the new technology has been embraced by young people, square dancing has gradually disappeared.  Most of the old-time callers have passed on or retired and families rarely seek similar entertainment.  Occasionally you find a benefit dance advertised, but the old-time regular dances are pretty much a thing of the past.  Places like the Shavertown Community Hall, Turnwood, Andes Dance Hall, Walton Grange Hall and most of the others where families went on a regular basis seldom if ever have dances anymore.
“Even the regular yearly spring and fall barn dances such as Buels and Baldaufs have disappeared.  No longer do families work together on the family farm all week and then go out on Saturday night to have a good time together.
“While there will always be a square dance here and there, it seems like an era has ended, but it sure was fun while it lasted.
“The following list is the square dance bands remembered today by Bruce and myself and is probably not a complete list:
Catskill Mountaineers
Stew Nickels Band
Hilt Hoyts Harmonizing Hillbillies
Bob Bird and The Nighthawks
Hilt Kelly and The Side Kicks
Arnold Truscott and the Delhi Firemen
Burt Pease Orchestra
Jerry Laing and the Tumbleweeds
Jerry Madore and the Prairies Ramblers
Bill Lainge’s Band
Keith Shaver’s Band
Pleasant Valley Boys”