Town and Country Squares Celebrate Hebert’s 20 Years as Caller

Square Dancers having a good time at the party celebrating Terry Hebert’s 20 years as caller for the St. Stephen Town and Country Squares. (Submitted photo)

How fortunate it was that on a Friday the 13th 1998, Town and Country Squares decided to hire the young Terry Hebert as official Club Caller. So, on April 13th, the square dance club held a surprise celebration at Christ Church Hall in St. Stephen to honor the 20 years of dedicated service that the now internationally-renowned square dance caller Terry Hebert has provided for the club. 

 Thelma Mundie from DeWolfe, one of the original members of Town and Country Squares that began 43 years ago, said that when Terry Hebert first started calling in St. Stephen, “He was very young and it was always fun because he put life in it. He’s got rhythm.” Of course, it’s still fun. His clear, rich tenor, singing and calling voice makes it pleasant and easy to hear and understand the calls. He keeps the rhythm upbeat and fast except for beginners. He is constantly learning and creating original call patterns that keep both young and not so young dancers on their toes. 

Mrs. Mundie also spoke of his dedication to the Town and Country Squares Club. “He gets here every week through snow storms and rain.” Past President, Frank McCullum from Beaver Harbour, agreed, stating, “Terry would travel down from Fredericton every week. Lots of times, I wouldn’t be on the roads at all, but he’d still manage to get here.” Callers and square dancers at this surprise celebration were from all over New Brunswick, including Woodstock, Fredericton, Oromocto, Cambridge Narrows, Saint John, and Sussex as well as people from Maine. The square dance floor was full to capacity with eight dance squares (32 dancers) and many more sitting about watching when Terry Hebert began calling. 

At the celebration was Ron Lowe from Quispamsis, a popular Maritime square dance caller, who told me a bit about Terry Hebert’s experience. “Terry began at age 13 under the tutorship of Bill Clark, a caller in Fredericton, 30 years ago.” He added that Terry is currently involved with various provincial, national and international organizations. “He is Past Chairman of the Maritime Callers and Cuers Association; Chairman of the Federation of Dance Clubs of NB; and he’s been training callers and cuers in NB and PEI. Currently, he is a member of both the National and International Square Dance Callers Associations.” He explained that Terry is an active member of Caller Lab, an American square dance callers association that has members from around the world, and participates on several of its committees. He added that, “Terry is also a capable round dance cuer and leader. He is always willing to help callers learning to call and willing to take on jobs and help people out. He says, ‘I’ll do it; I’ll look after it.’ That’s his attitude. He is well liked and loved by all the other leaders and callers. I think the world of him. He’s like a third son.”

 Another guest at the celebration was the well-known, former radio broadcaster Bill Scott from Fredericton, who said, “I’ve known Terry for approximately 20-odd years but I’ve only been square dancing for 8 years. Right now, we [he and Terry] are teaching kids between the ages of kindergarten to grade 5 how to square dance in Cambridge Narrows.”

 After receiving his recognition award for his twenty years of service to the Town and Country Squares Club, Terry Hebert spoke to the audience about how he started calling for this club in St. Stephen when he was 23 years old. “On Friday the 13th one February, I walked into this building for the very first time. I can remember that Vince and Olive [Clark] and Mel and Barb [Weeks, Co-Presidents of the Club] were sitting in the front corner. Back then, there was the elite team that you had to make an impression on, but I didn’t know that. So, I called the dance that night. During the last tip [dance] of the night, my mom [Margaret Hebert] went over and switched the lights off because it was a black cat dance on a Friday [the 13th]. When we got in the car that night and were heading home, she says, ‘Well, what do you think happened there?’ Well, we probably won’t be called back after that stunt. We came back down the next week. We set up and called, and all went well. Then Olive [Clark] looked me up and down, and looked me up and down. ‘Yep,’ she said, ‘Well, you’re not bad for the first couple of nights.’ I thought, ‘That was not good.’ Then in May, the club decided it was desperate enough to ask me to call here, and that was that.”

 He explained that several other callers had been asked to call for the Town and Country Squares that year while they were deciding which one would become the official caller for the club. Terry continued, “I came down one Friday night with Bev and Jerry O’Hare [by car]. The dance that night was at the St. Stephen Pythian Hall. I kind of knew I was going to be caller here. In the back of Jerry O’Hare’s mind, he was sure it was going to be his. So, Jerry is calling away and I’m sitting behind the bingo machine not saying anything. Barb [Weeks] comes over and says, ‘We’re going to tell the club tonight that you are going to be the Club Caller.’ ‘Barb! It’s going to be a long walk home. Can we wait?’ ‘No!,’ she says, ‘It’s tonight.’ ‘Well I said, do what you have to do.’ I stayed behind the bingo machine because I figured that’s the safest spot to be. All of a sudden, she announces that the club decided that I would be the Club Caller. Jerry turns around to me and says, ‘You know, it’s a long… damn… walk home don’t you?’ ‘Yes Jerry, I’m well aware.’ After a half hour of convincing from Bev - thank God for Bev - he allowed us to get back in the car for home. It’s hard to believe it’s been 20 years. It’s flown by so fast. I thank you all for very much for coming out tonight. It certainly was a surprise and thank you very much for these 20 wonderful years down here.”

 Thelma Mundie told me that square dancing isn’t just fun, it’s great exercise for the mind and the body. Then she shared a well-known saying: “It’s amazing the great people I have in my life that I wouldn’t have ever met if it wasn’t for dancing.” How true! Town and Country Squares meet every Friday evening at Christ Church Hall on Prince William St. in St. Stephen from September to May. Anyone interested in participating in square dancing or wishing to see and experience the fun atmosphere with Terry Hebert as caller are welcome to attend. There is no charge for the first dance of the season, which begins September 7th. Call 466-5247 for more information.

Frank McCullum, Past President of the St. Stephen Town and Country Squares is enjoying a good laugh with internationally renown square dance caller Terry Hebert who was being celebrated for his 20 years of service with Town and Country Squares. (Submitted photo)