The Merrimack Merrymakers
The dancers are, left to right, Clara B. Colby (Myron's mother, who often played piano with him for local dances), Frank E. Colby (Myron's father), Ethel H. Colby (Myron's wife), Sherman P. Stevens, Genevieve Bowers, Frank Keaton, Marjorie Emery, Mayford Emery, Alice Hoar, Emerson Hoar (who occasionally called for dances), Theda Stone, and Ned Bowers. Kneeling are the musicians, Chester Baldwin who played drums, Katherine Gardner who played piano, "Mike" Ernest Downes, who was the caller (also picture on right) , and Myron Colby who played the fiddle.
The Webster History 1933-1983 includes a section which says "After winning in competition at county level, the six couples won a demonstration trip to Durham, N. H. There, they danced to Colby's Orchestra."
Ralph Page wrote about the group in THE COUNTRY DANCE BOOK (Copyright 1937):
"We get a big kick out of groups which will probably never go professional, like the Webster people. Calling themselves the Merrimack Merrymakers, these six couples from Webster, New Hampshire, are: Mr. and Mrs. Eugene Colby, Mr. and Mrs. Emerson Hoar, Mr. and Mrs. Gaylord Emery, Frank Keaton, Genevieve Bowers, Theda Stone, Ned Bowers, Sherman Stevens, and Mrs. Katherine Phelps.
These people have been organized for several years as an old-fashioned dance group and have taken part in amateur tournament and outdoor festivities with a great deal of success. All of the group live in Webster or Boscawen and are under the direction of Mr. Ernest Downes, prompter and one of the last of the old-time dancing masters.
The ladies in the group wear beautiful gowns, replicas of those worn many years ago. The men wear striped trousers and cutaways, with flowing ties and dickies. The group is an ideal combination of young and old, which is natural and normal to country dancing.
These people claim that they never rehearse before any of their performances, but there's a twinkle in their eyes when they tell you, daring you to be sucker enough to believe it.
Obviously, hats should come off to Mr. Downes. A very genial man, his weather-beaten face crinkles into a smile ast the mention of old-time dances - they are his life. He doesn't know one note of music from another, and plays no musical instrument by ear, yet he has a perfect sense of rhythm, and besides, a great gift for teaching.
The particular 'set piece' of this group is the best thing we've ever seen done to music. It's called the Combination Dance, and is original to Mr. Downes. It is far too puzzling to learn from print,but suffice it to say that it combines Hull's Victory and one version of Old Zip Coon. The first two couples start the dance doing Old Zip, the third and fourth Hull's Victory, and the fifth and sixth, Old Zip. Everybody is dancing at the same time. They change steps every other time, you see, doing first Hull's Victory and then Old Zip. To end the dance everybody does a few steps of a glide waltz.
This dance, like all real estate, should be seen to be appreciated. We were lucky enough to see them do it two separate times - and both times without benefit of a prompter! If Ernest Downes was shooting them signals, the signals were expertly camouflaged. We rather believe that the dancers were on their own."