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Margot Mayo - biographic (square dance, et al.)

GUEST,Bob Coltman 01 Sep 06 - 08:57 AM
Desert Dancer 03 Sep 06 - 02:58 PM
Peace 03 Sep 06 - 03:10 PM
GUEST,Tony 03 Sep 06 - 08:03 PM
Sandy Paton 03 Sep 06 - 11:44 PM
GUEST,Susan of DT in UK 04 Sep 06 - 12:17 AM
dick greenhaus 04 Sep 06 - 05:41 PM
Desert Dancer 06 Sep 06 - 11:20 PM
dick greenhaus 07 Sep 06 - 04:40 PM
dick greenhaus 07 Sep 06 - 05:52 PM
Desert Dancer 09 Sep 06 - 02:51 PM
Bob Coltman 10 Sep 06 - 07:31 AM
Desert Dancer 10 Sep 06 - 08:34 PM
Bob Coltman 11 Sep 06 - 05:48 AM
GUEST,L. Young 28 Feb 08 - 12:35 AM
GUEST,Bob Mayo 08 Apr 12 - 05:47 PM
GUEST,Peter sussman 16 Sep 14 - 11:33 AM
GUEST,Bernard Bossom 13 Dec 14 - 09:27 AM
GUEST,Jhork 20 Aug 15 - 05:59 PM
GUEST,nora guthrie 28 Oct 15 - 05:21 PM
GUEST 24 Feb 16 - 01:58 PM
GUEST,John Cohen 21 Aug 16 - 08:27 PM
GUEST,Carla Sciaky 19 Jan 18 - 01:03 PM
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Subject: Margot Mayo - biographic
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 01 Sep 06 - 08:57 AM

I am seeking a couple of details about about Margot Mayo, who founded and headed the American Square Dance Group in New York in the 1940s. I know she was a grade school teacher, folklorist, collector of folk music, and cousin of Kentucky banjo player Rufus Crisp. I know she later was a music producer.

Here are my questions:

I believe she was born in Ohio. True? What locality?

I believe she played tenor banjo with her square dance group. True?

Any other pertinent details useful for a capsule biography?

Thanks,

Bob


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Subject: RE: Margot Mayo - biographic
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 03 Sep 06 - 02:58 PM

Bob,

I'm going to post this message on a traditional dance callers' listserve. I'll then post replies here, if any, unless you would like to post contact information that I can pass on.

If you want to reach me personally (rather than publicly, here), you may get contact information from CDSS.

~ Becky Nankivell, in Tucson


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Subject: RE: Margot Mayo - biographic
From: Peace
Date: 03 Sep 06 - 03:10 PM

Title: Margot Mayo Collection
Description: One hundred and ninety 10-inch and 12-inch discs, one 5-inch tape, and eight 7-inch tapes
of radio programs and home recordings from the 1930s and 1950s recorded in New York
City by members of the American Square Dance Group; songs and instrumentals played on
banjo and fiddle, recorded in Kentucky, North Carolina, and Tennessee by Margot Mayo and
others, 1946-47. The collection includes three-quarters linear inch of a concordance, logs,
notes, a magazine article, and photographs.
Inclusive Years: 1930s-1950s
AFC Number: Unassigned
AFS Number: AFS 17770-17968

At this site:

http://www.loc.gov/folklife/guides/listofcollectionsL-Q.html


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Subject: RE: Margot Mayo - biographic
From: GUEST,Tony
Date: 03 Sep 06 - 08:03 PM


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Subject: RE: Margot Mayo - biographic
From: Sandy Paton
Date: 03 Sep 06 - 11:44 PM

When Dick Greenhaus returns from the UK, he'll surely respond, Bob. Dick travelled with Margot to visit and record Rufus Crisp. Learned his banjo style from Crisp, I understand. I suspect Dick and Susan are at Whitby right now. Maybe one of our UK 'Catters can let him know about your thread.
    Sandy


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Subject: RE: Margot Mayo - biographic
From: GUEST,Susan of DT in UK
Date: 04 Sep 06 - 12:17 AM

We will be home later today. Dick will definately respond.


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Subject: RE: Margot Mayo - biographic
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 04 Sep 06 - 05:41 PM

Bob-
Give me a ring at 800/548-FOLK (3655). I can tell you some about Margot (her last 20 years in particular), and steer you to some others who knew her.

Informally, BTW, the Digital Tradition is dedicated to Margot Mayo. One of the great teachers of the world.


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Subject: RE: Margot Mayo - biographic
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 06 Sep 06 - 11:20 PM

on another list Tony Saletan wrote:

In the 1940s, Margo taught me and my schoolmates (at The Walden School in New York City) dances and songs from her heritage and valuable collection. She played piano to accompany the dances, and I'm aware that my own piano style when accompanying dances shows that strong early influence. I don't remember her playing banjo. And I thought she came from further south than Ohio.

My cousin Gene Saletan, who danced in Margo's American Square Dance Group, wrote me: "I don't know where she was born, but I'll lay odds that she never played a banjo at the ASDG. Never even saw her pick one up. Was she really a cousin of Rufus Crisp? As far as I know, she was a grade-school teacher only in that she would come around to teach folk songs and dances in some private schools...Other details? The musical instrument she played for the ASDG was always the piano, and always with a cigarette dangling on her lip. Her favorite drink was a Manhattan, and although we were under-age by today's rules, we often joined her at a bar after a performance or after one of those Saturday night Open Houses. I remember sitting at a table with her and Leadbelly, with him talking in that rhyming way he had and calling Margo a great lady. She joined the WACs during WWII."

Take a look at Ray Lawless' book "Folksingers and Folksongs in America" which has a page on Dick Wilder who joined the ASDG in 1941. It says, "Miss Mayo at that time was a teacher of education at the Mills School for Nursery, Kindergarten, and Primary Teachers."

More recently Robert Cantwell wrote, in his book on the folk revival ("When We Were Good") "...the folksong revival was becoming in schools and camps a folk revival. Margot (sic) Mayo continued her emphasis on folksong and dance at the Woodward School in Brooklyn." You may want to follow his footnotes to a couple of articles in Sing Out!: Margot (sic) Mayo, "Five Years of Folk Song Favorites," Sing Out! 12 (April-May 1962), 37-39. See also "Folk Music Goes to School," Sing Out! 12 (February-March 1962), 5-6.

One more clue to Margo's geographical background: There's a comment by Ben Stein in The Strathspey Server about the walking (vs. buzz-step) swing: "The southern mountain dances that I learned in the early 1940's from Margo Mayo, who was brought up in the Kentucky mountains..."

---

I finally pulled out my father's copy of "The American Square Dance" (Sentinel Books, 1943). It has a little note about the author that opens "Margot [sic] Mayo a native of Texas...."

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: Margot Mayo - biographic
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 07 Sep 06 - 04:40 PM

Margo (no t)was christened Margaret Melba Mayo. I'm not sure where she was born, but she did spend a portion of her childhood in Kentucky, and later moved to Texas, where her father started a college (later assimilated into the U. of Texas.)
   She was definitely related to Rufus Crisp, although one would have to consult the wood-covered geneology/scrapbook that Margo travelled with to determine the exact relationship. Some folks that accompanied her in trips to Kentucky back then were Stu Jamison, Pete Seeger, Woody Wachtel and Myself.
   Margo was hard for many of the academic types to deal with; the had no formal educational training in folklore, and had a voracious curiousity and a wide-ranging breadth of knowledge about a variety of things from American folk dance, Shakers, Catalan music and dance, New England dancing masters, Labanotation, shape-note singing, Indian (from India) dance and music and God knows what else.
    Her instrument was the piano, although she was known to pick up a guitar occasionally.


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Subject: RE: Margot Mayo - biographic
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 07 Sep 06 - 05:52 PM

After some digging, I find she was born in Commerce, Texas.


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Subject: RE: Margot Mayo - biographic
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 09 Sep 06 - 02:51 PM

Refresh


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Subject: RE: Margot Mayo - biographic
From: Bob Coltman
Date: 10 Sep 06 - 07:31 AM

Thanks to all.

Dick, excuse my lateness in replying, I've been away.   I'd call, but I think you've told me everything I needed to know. And thanks for correction about the spelling of her name. I wonder where the T got added? Certainly it has become common to refer to her as Margot in recent references.

Best wishes,

Bob


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Subject: RE: Margot Mayo - biographic
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 10 Sep 06 - 08:34 PM

Well, she published under Margot Mayo, at least once (the 1943 American Square Dance book)...

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: Margot Mayo - biographic
From: Bob Coltman
Date: 11 Sep 06 - 05:48 AM

Becky, many thanks. Your replies have been very helpful. It seems Ms. Mayo must have used both versions at some times. Bob


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Subject: RE: Margot Mayo - biographic
From: GUEST,L. Young
Date: 28 Feb 08 - 12:35 AM

Apologies for the great time lapse. I only just found this space, doing a search, which I do perodicly.

    Margot Mayo was one of our teachers at Woodward School, in Brooklyn N.Y. The Years i was there were about "62-'70. Of course she was there before i arrived.
    She tought music, "Orchestra", & square dancing. She was wonderful, quirky, and inspiring.   She played a funky old piano, as far as i remember.   She did square dance calls, and our class, all of 14 to 16 students square danced, laughed, and had a great old time. We also did the virginia reel.   Pretty much all i can remember right about now.
          I regret i didn't keep up with the autoharp, i was playing in "Orchestra".   
             Regards,
             L. Young
             ly393@yahoo.com


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Subject: RE: Margot Mayo - biographic
From: GUEST,Bob Mayo
Date: 08 Apr 12 - 05:47 PM

Margot was actually born in Commerce, Texas to William Leonidas Mayo (founder of what is now TAMU-Commerce) and wife Etta Booth Mayo.

Hope this helps.


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Subject: RE: Margot Mayo - biographic
From: GUEST,Peter sussman
Date: 16 Sep 14 - 11:33 AM

I was one of the youngest members of ASDG in the early 40s. Gerry Geismar took my place in our set when I went off to college. I danced in the set with Izzy Young and, believe, Marcia Cohen was my partner.
I would love to hear from other survivors at www.peter@shadygrove.ca


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Subject: RE: Margot Mayo - biographic (square dance, et al.)
From: GUEST,Bernard Bossom
Date: 13 Dec 14 - 09:27 AM

Both my brother, Joe, and I were members of the dance troupe that performed around New York in the '50s. For several years, at Christmastime, Margot invited me to her apartment for her annual party populated by youngsters from wherever she brought them. My regualr ssignment was to read to them a folktale which was one of her favorites.

I recall our performing once at a large party of Elsa Maxwell "introducing" to her metropolian society friends Square Dancing. This was at the height of the folk music revival that was sparked by Pete Seeger and the Washington Square weekends. Following our demonstation on a makeshift stage we stepped down to the floor and brought the audience to join in and dance with us.

Stu Jamison, I recall, was the caller. In the middle of a dance, a new guest arrived to great commotion - Clark Gable. He was instantly recruited into my set with his coat still on. It was a fun moment but, to tell the truth, he couldn't dance at all, He did have a great attitude and laughed robustly as he was dragged around the floor.

To add to other comments, I never saw Margot (with a "t") with a banjo. Her instrument was the piano.

Time does march on. Recalling those days of my 'teen years brings back warm emories.


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Subject: RE: Margot Mayo - biographic (square dance, et al.)
From: GUEST,Jhork
Date: 20 Aug 15 - 05:59 PM

I was a camper at Meadow Lark Camp, and Margot taught folk music and square dance in the late '40's and early'50's. The camp was owned by the Cravens and was in Montery, Mass.


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Subject: RE: Margot Mayo - biographic (square dance, et al.)
From: GUEST,nora guthrie
Date: 28 Oct 15 - 05:21 PM

I love reading about Margo. My brothers and I were at the Brooklyn Community Woodward School (that's the real name, not Woodward School)from 1958 - 1964. Margo was our music/folkdance teacher. She was brilliant at teaching us all kinds of songs, fearlessly making us learn 4 part harmonies at very young ages! After school we would take the bus down to DeKalb Avenue, hop on the BMT (to Coney Island) and sing all the parts we had learned that day on the way home. We "entertained" the subway riders with choral versions of "Lift Every Voice", "We Gather Together" and many many others. This was our NYC style doo op moment, all acapella! "Drunken Sailor" was another subway favorite. We also had square dancing twice a week - learned all the reels and squares, and Orchestra, where we all performed with recorders, autoharps, triangles, bongos and many other instruments. Margo was simply the foundation of all of our music and folk culture-to-be futures, plugging away (standing up) at her piano and yes, with a cig dangling from her lips.


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Subject: RE: Margot Mayo - biographic (square dance, et al.)
From: GUEST
Date: 24 Feb 16 - 01:58 PM

Avery Booth Stone

Margo's niece. Her sister Aileen was my mother. Violinist who played at soem of ASDG's get-togethers. Margo's other instrument was the 'cello which I have, along with Margo's library.    Still have the autoharp, and the wooden scrapbook from her trip to KY. I too was al member of The Group. Glad to hear from anyone.
Pooh


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Subject: RE: Margot Mayo - biographic (square dance, et al.)
From: GUEST,John Cohen
Date: 21 Aug 16 - 08:27 PM

In the late 1930s Margo Mayo sometimes taught square dancing in Sunnyside, Queens. My parent (Sonya & Iz Cohen) were leaders of the Sunnysdie Folkdancers, and invited Margo there.


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Subject: RE: Margot Mayo - biographic (square dance, et al.)
From: GUEST,Carla Sciaky
Date: 19 Jan 18 - 01:03 PM

My mother, Barbara Altstadt, and her older sister Judith, danced and sang under Margo's tutelage at the ASDG, and I believe they were also on a weekly radio program on WNYC? All of this would have been in the early 1940s. Does anyone know more about the recordings of the radio program? My mother is now suffering from growing dementia, and I would love to reconnect her to those songs and the sound of Margo's voice on that radio show. My mother speaks of those days as magical.

She met my father, Peter Sciaky, when Margo recommended her as a camp counselor for a new summer camp run by my grandparents, Frances and Leon Sciaky, called High Peak. It is long gone, sold in 1955, but was situation right next to the Catskill Game Farm.

So my mother's association with Margo is the reason I came into the world! And it led me to be a folksinger with my own career.


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