I started Square Dancing back in September of 1976 with a club that met in the Moyer Recreational Center at Fort Rucker, Alabama called the Heels & Toes. The instructor for our club was Bart Blake. I can honestly say I was hooked from the first lesson and still am today. I got my first “taste” in Calling in 1978 at a Thursday night class in Enterprise, Alabama (The Boll Weevil Squares) where I had the opportunity to do a singing call (“Ma She’s Making Eyes At Me” Red Boot Records).
A big thanks goes out to Bart Blake for his encouragement. There are so many people to thank for helping me along the way. In addition to my instructor, there was Darryl McMillan, Tex Brownlee, Horace Newberry, Walt Childs, Bob Ruff, Larry McBee, Phil Farmer, Don McWhirter, “Red” Cullup and of course my mentor Lee Schmidt. Each of these men have given me great advice and best of all their friendship over the years. I will forever be grateful. Really the list of Callers who have helped me along my journey is great. I can’t believe how lucky and blessed I am to be a part of this great activity.
I started calling professionally in September of 1990 as I attended a Caller’s School taught by my friend and mentor Lee Schmidt (known to us all as the “Crawdad Man”). We met every Saturday morning at Lee’s home from September through February. We had a lot of fun learning how to be Callers. It was intense as well, I thought I knew definitions, and by the end of the class, I really knew them well. If you were not prepared you didn’t get any “mike” time. Being a professional Square Dance Caller isn’t for everyone, We started with nine people eager to learn and at the graduation, we had five left. Out of the five Callers that graduated only two of our class remain active.
Last and certainly not least, I am so blessed to have met my wife Kathy at a Square Dance in Glendale, California. She is my rock, my inspiration, the love of my life and my best friend. Wow, how could life get any better than that.
I look forward to seeing you out on the dance floor, so “Square’em Up and Let’s Have Fun”. ~Bob van West~