A Brief History Of A Long Square Dance Career
Jerry Wright grew up on a farm west of Fairbury near Powell, NE. As a teenager, he began calling with his father at the dances on the town square. Jerry graduated from Fairbury High School in 1957. He met his wife Glenda at a school dance in Alexandria, NE, where she attended high school. They were married in 1960 and had two daughters, Peggy and Tina. He started his successful business, Jerry’s Electric, in the early 1970s.
Jerry and Glenda returned to square dancing in 1970, taking lessons under the direction of Al Paul with Crosstrailers Square Dance Club in Lincoln. It was at this time that Jerry’s interest in calling was renewed and he enlisted the help of Al Paul in getting started. Jerry attended Frank Lane’s Caller’s College in Colorado to further his calling knowledge and abilities.
Jerry taught his first set of lessons in the basement of his home with a group of square dancer’s children as his students, in 1971. He started his first square dance club called the “Frolicking Footsies”, which was comprised of several of those children and the children and grandchildren of other Lincoln square dancers.
Jerry and Glenda continued to dance with Crosstrailers during this time and attended their first Nebraska State Square and Round Dance Convention in 1971. They have not missed a single Nebraska State Convention since then, even when their health should have kept them home.
In addition to attending the Nebraska State Convention, Jerry and Glenda also regularly attend the Kansas State Convention, the Lincoln, Omaha, and York Festivals, and many Camper Dance Weekends and Conventions. Jerry has called at several State and National conventions.
Throughout his 40 years in square dancing, Jerry has touched the lives of many dancers. He has been a part of ten or more clubs in Lincoln and the surrounding communities, calling and teaching. Two of these clubs were youth clubs. He absolutely loves to teach children to dance.
Jerry and Glenda have gone into many schools to teach square dancing. Jerry has also taught square dancing to Girl Scout Troops, 4-H groups, and family reunions. They have been involved in doing demonstration dances at nursing homes, the NE State Fair, and the Star City Parade to name a few.
Jerry felt it was important to get his family involved in square dancing and taught his daughters and other family members to dance. He continues to call and teach in Lincoln and surrounding towns. He calls Mainstream through Advanced-2 and was one of the first callers in the Lincoln area to call advanced. He started with a few dancers learning Advanced, this grew to be a club now known as Jerry’s A Team.
Jerry loves to take square dance movements, break them down and figure out what all he can do with them. He loves his Patter Calls more than anything. Anyone who has ever danced to him knows that sometimes when he gets going, you wonder if you are ever going to see your corner again. But he always manages to bring you back together.
Jerry has held many offices in the Southeast Federation Callers and Cuers Association and the Southeast Federation of Square and Round Dance Clubs. He has served as President of the NE State Square and Round Dance Association in the past as well as President of the NE State Callers and Cuers Association, and has served as the Caller Rep to the NE State Square and Round Dance Association for several years.
Jerry and Glenda served as Lincoln Festival Directors in 1976 and have received the Lincoln Council “Outstanding Service Award” twice. He has set up the sound equipment for the Lincoln Festival and the Nebraska State Convention many times and has served on the committee to arrange callers for the various dance halls at the State Convention as well. Jerry is a member of CALLERLAB, has attended CALLERLAB Conventions and served on a few CALLERLAB committees.
Jerry has not only held several leadership positions throughout his years in square dancing, but has also led by example. He has helped young callers get their start, continually works to recruit new dancers and encourage past dancers to return. He promotes square dancing wherever he goes.
In the late 80’s Jerry fulfilled a long time dream of his, he built his own square dance hall with a wood floor. He was lucky enough to buy the bowling lanes from the old Gateway Bowl when it closed down. The owner told him if he could haul them out, he could have them. So, Jerry went in with his saw and meticulously cut the lanes into certain size pieces and with the help of some of his employees, they hauled it out in one night. He and Glenda then spent the next several months carefully laying these pieces of bowling alley, piece by piece, to create the dance floor of the Broken Wheel Hall. Jerry was approached by the Lincoln Square Dance Council and asked if he would be willing to allow the Council the privilege of having a room in this hall that would house the history of the Council and square dancing in Lincoln. Jerry of course said yes and the Heritage Room then became part of the hall.
Naming the hall was a task, but the name was finally settled on as “The Broken Wheel”. Since this was a former square dance move that was retired, Jerry felt it was the appropriate name to give the hall. The night Jerry held his grand opening dance, the smile never left his face. Over the years the hall has been home to several Lincoln square dance clubs and many special dances have been held there. In April 2000, a very special dance was held there to celebrate Jerry and Glenda’s 40th Wedding Anniversary.
When Jerry went in for back surgery in March, 2010 his one comment to the doctor was “Just make it so I can still get up and call square dances and I’ll be good”, and he did. Within a few short weeks of his surgery, Jerry was back up doing what he loves, calling a square dance. He may not have been standing, but he was calling.