A Brief History Of A Long Square Dance Career
Harold met Lill in
1942, they were engaged in 1943, married in 1944, and moved to Leigh, Nebraska, Harold’s home town.
Leigh was their home until they moved to Fremont, Nebraska in 1972.
They attended their first
square dance in August of 1952, at the Oak Ballroom in Schuyler. Lill remembered they had to be pulled
through the calls, because there were no square dance classes at that time. She said it was the
helpfulness and friendliness of the square dancers that convinced them to continue dancing.
Harold started calling
square dances in 1953. He & Lill were the first presidents of the club in Leigh, and members of the club
encouraged Harold to start calling. He was also asked to call for a club in Humphrey.
According to Harold, square
dance records were not common when he first started, and he had live accompaniment for the first few
months. Then, he bought an amplifier and speakers, added a record album of square dance calls, and
gradually built a library of 78 rpm records. Those thick and heavy 78’s gave way to the 45 rpm records
that came on the scene in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s.
Harold became a recording artist early in his career. His first recording made in 1957, was “I
Dream Of You” on Dash records, and featured the music of “Schroeder’s Playboys”. Through
the years, Harold recorded 42 square dance records, mostly on his own “Keeno!” label. Many of
the recordings were made in Omaha at “Sound Recorders” studios, and featured musicians from
Nebraska. Some of the songs he recorded include… “Don’t Sit Under The Apple Tree”, “That
Lady Loves To Dance”, “Later Than You Think”, “Johnny Will”, “Wooden Heart”, “The Old
Lamplighter”, “Round Robin”, “Those Were The Days”, and “Rolling On” (Freight Train). The term
“Caller” is a bit of a misnomer when applied to Harold. He really was an excellent “Singer” of
Harold & Lill considered themselves partners in the square dance business. Lill attended nearly
all of Harold’s dances, and helped him teach square & round dancing to thousands of people
during more than 44 years in the business. Lill excelled at round dancing, and eventually
selected and cued the rounds.
Harold & Lill started and served 10 square dance clubs in Nebraska that included the towns of
Columbus, Norfolk, Omaha, Fremont, Albion, Surprise, and Leigh. Some of their clubs continue
dancing to this day. Harold’s Squares of Columbus, Nebraska has enjoyed the greatest
longevity. Harold and Lill called and cued for them for 43 years! Harold often called 25 nights a
month. In addition, Harold & Lill did “Calling Tours” that took them to 48 states, Canada, &
Germany. They were well known in square dancing throughout America.
Harold’s teaching went beyond dancers. He was a pioneer in establishing and conducting one of
the first “Callers Colleges” which he held annually for approximately 30 years. The callers who
attended were encouraged and trained in a relaxing atmosphere of camaraderie. Their calling
was also featured in front of a large group of square dancers at Harold & Lill’s “Dance-O-Rama”.
Jerry Junck attended one of the very first colleges held in Norfolk, Nebraska. In later years, the
school was held at Camp Comeca between Lincoln and Omaha. Harold also participated as a
staff member of caller’s schools around the country. He did a number of schools in Illinois,
Indiana, and also worked schools with Stan Burdick from Ohio.
Harold and Lill had the idea for the first Night Owl Dance as a result of a brainstorming session
one evening at a dancer’s home. The first Night Owl Dance was held on august 31, 1958 from
9:00 P.M. until 5:00 A.M. in Columbus, Nebraska. Lill designed the Night Owl badge, and in
1962, the Grasshopper badge. Beginning in 1975, the Night Owl badge could be earned by
dancing until 3:00 A.M.
Nebraska celebrated it’s Centennial in 1967. As a part of the celebration, Harold was asked to
call with the Omaha Symphony Orchestra as part of the summer entertainment program.
Dancers from around the state were invited to make up the squares, and Harold shared the
program with country music entertainer Rex Allen.
Harold and Lill contributed so much to square dancing, not only in Nebraska, but around the
country. They wrote numerous articles and columns for some of the State and National
Magazines around the country, and published their own newsletter, “The Reporter,” from about
1962 until 1998. Many dancers used this newsletter as their source for all the dances in the area
Harold and Lill called and cued dances
several times in Hawaii, across the United States, and Germany.
This includes calling a square dance on the deck of the Forestall Aircraft Carrier. Also, Harold and Lill were tour
guides for trips to Hawaii and a trip to Germany; most all of the people who traveled with them were square dancers that they
knew. Harold also was a past president of the National Callers Association. Harold and Lill stayed active in calling
and cuing until they passed away at the age of 74. They loved square dancing, but they especially loved the wonderful friends
they made and kept for so many years!
Many numbers were used throughout this summary, but it’s impossible to measure Harold & Lill’s
impact on square dancing, and the enjoyment they helped provide to people all over the United
States. They contributed tirelessly with their time and energy to this great activity we call square