Dick Crum Culture Session
St. Paul, Minnesota, 1979
Submitted by Carol McGinn
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Here's a general idea of the Upper Downsko story told during Dick Crum's Culture Session in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1979. It starts with his rousing speech, in character, as a Village Leader (or perhaps the Soviet era village liasion-spy) to the peasants about the "creativity of the masses."
The crowd answers, "Vive!"
Village Leader says, "There will be a record harvest this fall."
The crowd cheers.
Village Leader, "We know this because all the villagers of Upper Downsko have been assigned their quotas and will break them."
The crowd cheers.
Village Leader, "We will recognize the glories of Upper Downsko. You will perform on a stage your folkloric music and dance."
Crowd, "What's a stage?"
Village Leader, "A stage is like the threshing floor in the village, made of wooden planks. The workers of the county seat will work on the stage every day. Now you will do the dance of the village of Upper Downsko on the stage."
Village Leader, slowly and menacingly, "B-e-c-a-u-s-e y-o-u w-i-l-l." (Laughter) "And all the people of the county seat and from other counties around will watch you do the dance. We want to see the glorious production of Upper Downsko, don't we?"
He looks over at a pretty girl and in a sotto voice says, "What is your name and number." (Laughter)
Then he says, "Now I come from the county and I want to see the dance of your village. Where is the school teacher? Well, what is the name of the village dance?"
Someone says, "Nashki."
(Live music plays and everyone dances Nashki.)
Village Leader, "Alright. Thank you very much. You may sit down. We must call on the oldest person in the village."
Someone in the audience shouts out, "Fred Kedney!" (who was from Minneapolis and one of the oldest dancers present). (Laughter)
Village Leader, "The oldest person in the village is Baba Branca. Baba Branca, we have problem. We need to have costumes from village of Upper Downsko. You know all the costume and tradition. What can we do?"
They confer and then the Village Leader says, "Very good, we make you in charge from costume committee. You will find costumes for the fine performance, yes?"
He answers as Baba Branca, "I saved my costume to be buried in and my daughter-in-law has a costume. Maybe Baba Meeloyka . . . but she ain't got a costume. We don't talk for maybe fifty years."
Village Leader, "We make Baba Branca in charge of costumes. You WILL find costumes."
He answers as Baba Branca, "I try. But don't take no bets."
Village Leader, after the competition, "I think we did pretty good! Another village did same dance you did, but they did a stamp. They came in second, we came in fifth because of the bump. We gonna put in two bumps next time. And they go first, too! Now we go to State. Now we going to put in two bumps. We gonna knock 'em dead!"
Village Leader, "Well, remember what happened? We did our version with two bumps. They did three bumps! And, that school teacher in that village, he had boys come in one line and girls in another line. Who won first prize?"
The crowd moans, "They did."
Village Leader, "We won sixth prize. I have a son, Boshko. He works in the city. He knows a professional [pronounced slowly as 'pro-fish-on-al']. My son do everything I tell him. Professional means he from out of town. He hot stuff."
Crowd, "He costs us money?"
Village Leader, "No, I don't think he costs money. My son never learned to milk a cow, but he okay in the city pushing pen. The professional come to our village for two weeks. Professional stay in my house."
The crowd protests, "Why he stay in your house?"
Village Leader, indignant, "Why Not? I'm one running this thing here!" (Laughter) "I move the chickens, I move the magazine rack . . . GUEST ROOM! He gonna show us how to make house beautiful. Nashki will be hot! Now, everybody is standing up."
(Again, live music plays and everyone dances Nashki.)
As the music ends, Village Leader says, "Tacky, tacky, tacky."
Dick, now as folk dance researcher Harald Underfoot, says, "I'm here because I'm doing some research and it's kind of wierd at home. I'm now going to talk to the oldest person I can see. Maybe that lady in the front row there."
Harald, "Uh, excuse me ma'am, I'm Harald Underfoot."
Village Lady, "What?"
Harald, "Harald Underfoot."
Village Lady, "Who your daddy? You married?"
Harald, "My father's name was Moncrief."
Village Lady, "That very nice. You married?"
Harald, "No, I'm single."
Village Lady, "My name Branca. My daughter not married. You married?"