Saturday, March 23, 2024

Papa Callan: A Gentleman in Brooklyn

This is a photo I took of Papa Callan dancing at his 90th birthday party.

Today, he would have turned 100.

Papa Callan was not known for being much of a dancer. And while he was a gentleman (and loved the ladies) he seemed disinterested in what he called the art and croissant crowd.  

Yes, he actually used that expression--knowing full well that I was a bona fide member of the Art and Croissant Crowd.  

He often reminisced about his childhood during the last years of his life and one day, he told me a story about how he took dance lessons with Miss Sally at her studio in Brooklyn. This was back in 1934 when he was ten years old. Papa Callan's younger sisters--Dolores, Peggy, Pat and Dorothea were all in the class. They were rehearsing for a recital and for the partner dances—they needed boys. My father was a boy--so he of course he was enlisted--along with his two brothers.

(If you're doing the math, that makes seven children in the Callan family.)

I asked Papa Callan if he enjoyed the dancing lessons. He said he did not, but he had no choice--he had been drafted!

Nonetheless, he learned partner dancing and this changed his life.

In fact, during the war, he met my mother at a U.S.O. dance while he was studying at Yale. He asked her to dance and the rest is history. So you see, it's a good thing that Papa Callan took those lessons with Miss Sally. If he hadn't, he might not have met my mother and then I wouldn't be here to tell you this story. 

Creative Friends--we all know that movement is good for you. When you dance you develop good posture and you give off unspoken signals that you are present and accounted for--that you are fluent in the international language of grace and gesture. Dance has the power to change the way you move through this world. 

Plus, you'll be less likely to step on anyone's toes. 

That's because you're a Gentlemen in Moscow. Or the United States, or France, or Paraguay. You get the idea.

Anyway, dancing is fun. 

 So, Creative Friends—let’s face the music and dance! 



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