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Marty VanWart 
Square Dance Caller
ID: 1520

 No picture available 

At the age of six Marty started to square dance to Peg Bennett at the YWCA. In the spring they were to put on a Maypole festival at the old Bangor auditorium. In the month of August he was asked to go to Square Acres in East Bridgewater, Mass. to learn rounds with Hazel Robinson, as her husband couldn't dance due to polio. When they came back in the Fall he helped her to teach rounds. The first night she had trouble teaching the man's part, and this made it hard for the people to learn. She said she wasn't going to teach anymore. The people asked Marty if he would do it with the help of his mother and father. Of course he couldn't say no and this got him started. He bought a Califone player and started teaching the next Sunday. That winter he taught fifty rounds that the dancers could do without him cueing after the second week. In the spring Peg said she wanted some of her students to try calling and wanted volunteers. Marty did, and the week before the Maypole festival he asked her if he was going to be the caller for the festival. She said no that he would never make a caller, so he went back to round dance school that summer and listened in on the callers school.

Marty attended the round dance school every year until 1953. He went to the school in August again, and again sat in on the square dance callers school as he had nothing to do until that afternoon. The school was put on by Earl Johnston and Jack Livingston. While they were teaching the other callers he would listen to what the teachers had to say about the other callers at the school. While one of the future callers was calling, Earl got together with Jack and to his surprise discussed having him get up and call next. When they asked, he said he came for the round dance school, but Earl wouldn't take no for an answer; he asked him to try it and maybe he would like it and want to do it. Marty said he didn't have any records, but Earl said I do. Needless to say he got Marty up there. The most the other callers called was for five minutes and then they would talk about what they should do to improve. Marty stopped calling at five minutes and was looking for them to say, you won't make a caller, just like Peg Bennett did. Instead they were both smiling and asked him if he would do a singing call the next day at that class. Of course he said, he didn't have any singing call records, and again Earl went to his record case and took out Walking In The Sunshine and said for him to go practice it in the square dance shop so that he could call it the next day.

Since that time Marty has never been without a square dance record to call. When he came back to start his round dance class that Fall he said he would do a few squares to break up the working on rounds as some of the rounds were harder than in the past. They all liked that idea. Before one month went by he was asked to start a club in Dover Foxcroft and an advance group in Bangor. Marty joined a group of callers that started, "the Northeast Callers and Teachers Association." He is one of two charter members still active in the association along with Hillie Bailey. He called at a dance put on by the association in Augusta, Maine and after he called, some dancers from Richmond, Maine asked him if he would call for a new club they were going to start. Again he said yes.

Since September of 1953 he has called for clubs in Canada, Iowa, Tennessee, Mass., Conn., Or., New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, Penn., West Virginia, Nebraska, Florida and at twenty Nationals along with thirty-two New England Square Dance Conventions. He has been club caller for ten clubs and started Marty's Workshoppers for dancers who wanted more than just the basic's.

Marty called while he was a junior and senior in high school and college. For the gym class as square dancing was a requirement for all students. During his years of adolescents his parents had to drive him to the dances. That was not easy on them, what with working. For their making sure that he could keep up his calling he would work for them in the business's that they had.

In 1974 he met his wife at a dance in Augusta. She came with some of their dance friends. He asked them if they knew her and they said yes. After the dance they went out to a fast food restaurant and he asked her if she would like to go to a dance in Skowhegan the next Saturday night. She said yes. That was the start of a great relationship with a wonderful woman who supports him in almost everything he does. They have been to Bermuda, National conventions, and Florida for vacations and calling. For the last ten years they have been extending their time in Florida, as he calls there during the winter months. The only thing that was stipulated is that they have time to do something other than square dancing or Marion would stop going.

He enjoys calling for people and seeing them enjoy an activity that is both fun and gives people exercise and helps people to relax. It is an activity that is good for all ages. He hopes that he can continue for many more years bring more people into an activity that is fun.

If you have any additional pertinent information about this person, please Contact Debbie.

Recordings by Marty VanWart:
G & W   
Walkin' In The Sunshine  (sample clip) (cue sheet) (lyrics)  Singing Call, G & W 603
War Is Hard On The Homefront  (sample clip) (cue sheet)  Singing Call, G & W 606

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