On Friday 15th April, Wild Frontier hosted “royalty”; well at least that’s what we in the square dance fraternity consider to be royalty. Dulcie Matthews and her daughter Sue plus Joan and Ollie Clarke visited our club. Who? Dulcie is the widow of Kevin Matthews, a founding member and the 1st president of the SA Square Dance Society. Joan Clarke (nee Huddleston) is the daughter of Australia’s most famous square dance caller Colin Huddleston.
Joan (wearing Colins hat) Jeff and Dulcie
Colin became Australia’s most famous caller, because for many years he was on the very popular Reg Lindsay country music TV show. He was born on May 1st 1914 in Broken Hill NSW and later moved to Iron Knob in South Australia. His parents died when he was young and he was raised by his grandparents.
In 1927, at age 13, he left home to work at numerous jobs, including boundary rider along a section of South Australia’s dog fence, and as a fettler on the Ghan railway line. During his travels he became very interested in country music and would entertain around the campfire. He would also travel hundreds of kilometres to attend country music shows, sometimes on a camel.
In 1953 square dancing was taking off in Australia and it caught Colin’s interest, especially when 4500 attended a dance at Centennial Hall in Adelaide; Colin decided to form his own club. In four months he had a large following; his children often provided the backing music on the piano for his calling. Colin became “the” square dance caller on Adelaide’s Reg Lindsay “Country and Western Show”. He also travelled with Reg teaching people how to Square Dance.
In 1980, illness forced him to reduce his work load and he transitioned into radio, presenting on Adelaide’s 5UV country music program “Colin Huddleston’s Country Hour”. In 1984 at the South Australian Country Music Festival Awards, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame.
1983 Colin was inducted into the Hands of Fame Park, Tamworth
Colin was a founding member and Life Member of the S.A. Callers Association & the S.A. Square Dance Society Inc. he also had his hand print laid in concrete in Tamworth in recognition of his contribution to Australian square dancing and country music. His square dance equipment is on show for all to see in Tamworth’s “Australian Country Music Hall of Fame” museum.
Tamworth’s Australian Country Music Hall of Fame museum.
Sadly, Colin passed away on July 6th 1988
Click on the link below to see an ABC video featuring Colin (he’s the one with the hat and glasses). The video also shows some of the “essentials” missing at today’s square dances, a live band and a large number of dancers, many of them in their teens.
During their visit, Dulcie and Joan were reunited with some old friends, notably Jeff and our own Joan Smith (OBN). Ollie gave a short dissertation about Collins life including details of a visit he and Joan made to Tamworth where they were enthusiastically welcomed by staff at Tamworth’s Hall Of Fame museum. Jeff presented Joan with one of Colin’s hats once given to him. Joan and Ollie will take this hat and some of Colin’s other clothes to be displayed in Tamworth’s museum, because, whilst they have some of his equipment, they did not have any of his attire.
Joan, Jeff and Dulcie (this time its Joan Smith OBN)
For those who attended, it was a most pleasant evening, one to remember. Go take a look at that video; they must have been great times.
Posted on April 26th, 2016 by Roger M
Filed under: Activities, Interstate And Overseas Visitors, Personalities, Wild Frontier | No Comments »