What did Tompkins Corners, Putnam Valley and Putnam County look like 45 years ago? John Cohen’s documentary film, “Fifty Miles from Times Square” that will be shown at 7:30 pm on Friday, September 28th at Tompkins Corners Cultural Center, brings the not-so-long-ago scene to life. This is a free showing for area residents and others who may be interested in local history.
A selection of the film may be viewed here: https://squaredancehistory.org/items/show/1318 including the square dance scene with caller, Herb Strickland.
Fiddler Jay Ungar, seen in the dance footage, writes: "The dances were started in 1972….Lyn Hardy, John Cohen, Abby Newton, Bud Snow, Tom Allen and I were the core band. We were called the Putnam County String Band. John renamed the concert version of our ensemble, the Putnam String County Band.
"The dances were fun, wildly popular community events. Herb Strickland was a truck driver and a classic square dance caller. He was a died-in-the-wool Putnam County local, a descendent of European settlers and local Native Americans. Herb called with our band and with a Country Western band at the local Volunteer Fire Department dances.
"There were lots of sit ins which occasionally included singer/guitarist Don McLean of eventual 'American Pie' fame. Pete and Toshi Seeger would frequently come to dance. They'd met at a square dance in 1939. You can see them swinging as the dance winds down near the end of this clip.”
Tompkins Corners Cultural Center
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