Jess Gruhn, Omaha Square Dance Caller

Listen to a greeting from Jess Gruhn!


My Grandfather, Jess Gruhn, came to Omaha with his wife, Addie, in 1919. He began working at the Union Pacific Railroad Shops, which have now been torn down to make way for Omaha's new Convention Center and Arena. Jess worked for the Union Pacifc until retirement in 1956. His passion from an early age was square dance calling and, besides calling at local dance halls, he and his wife occcasionally hosted impromptu dances in their home for friends.


Evening World-Herald, Omaha, Neb., Thursday, November 9, 1939

Omahan, Barn Dance Caller, to Give at Chermot Tonight

There is no dearth of barn dance callers in Omaha, and one of the best is Jess H. Gruhn, 5825 Florence boulevard, who will be a feature attraction at tonight's World-Herald "Goodfellow" barn dance at the Chermot ballroom.

Gruhn first began calling them when 15. He came out of retirement when he read in the The World-Herald that Al Wolf of the Chermot ballroom was in need of a barn dance caller.

With his brother, Luther, Gruhn occasionally indulges in a bit of fancy "double calling," but mostly he sticks to plain calling, disdaining "hillbilly calling." An example of his song:

"First couple out, balance and swing.
Lead right out to the right of the ring.
Lady around lady and gents solo.
Lady around the gent and the gent don't go.
Round up four in the center of the floor;
Docey lady and a docey-do
Now a little more to do and a little more to jo,
Like a chicken in the bread pan pickin' out the dough."

With Gruhn will be "The Cornhuskers," a special dance band specializing in barn and folk dances. Leader of the band, Brownie Walters, is planning to play a number of folk dances being revived in many of the country's ballrooms.

Admission to the dance is 25 cents a person.

Listen to a sample of Jess' call! (1476K) See a picture of Jess calling in a dance hall!


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