Lester Buck
Home Up


Lester Buck

Written by Rick Archer
March 2017


One of the most colorful characters to ever grace the halls of SSQQ Dance Studio was Lester Buck. 

Lester was best known at SSQQ for stealing the show at our Halloween parties.  For example, for our 1985 Halloween Party, Lester came dressed as a Woody Allen sperm cell.  Lester got his inspiration from the 1972 Woody Allen movie Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Sex...

Considering Lester was standing next to my wife Pat when I took this picture, I made sure to ask Pat to keep a discrete distance.  That costume seemed suspicious.

There was a TV show in the Fifties known as This is Your Life.  The fun thing about the show is that it found a way to ambush its target. 

Just like a surprise birthday party, they would lure some unsuspecting soul to an event and then inundate him or her with a series of well-wishing celebrities.  The concept was taken from the Jimmy Stewart classic It's a Wonderful Life


Back in the early Eighties, there was an entire group who enjoyed a pretty Wonderful Life of our own.  These were formative days when SSQQ was just coming into its own.  There were very some special people who contributed greatly.  Lester was definitely one of them.

One of the reasons people like the SSQQ Web Site is that it reminds them what they used to look like.  OMG, look at those glasses I am wearing!

Through pictures, it will be fun to take a walk with Lester through his own personal SSQQ Memory Lane.  In this picture, Linda Harwell and Margie Saibara sit with me and Lester on a camping trip.  There were about 20 of us.

Later on this same day we all went to the Texas Renaissance Festival together.  In case you were worried, yes, Margie finally woke up later in the day.


Lester at Halloween 1987!!

Michelle Collins and ??? are pictured here.  It is hard to see, but Lester has a dollar bill in his left hand as 'temptation'. 

One girl quipped, "I usually require more money than this, Lester, but since you brought your own mattress, I will give you a discount".

Jim Wilkins almost stole the show from Lester with his far-too-real Executioner costume.  Also picture are Jim's wife Pat and
Misti Hood.  Karen Gilcrease and her date in back.


Without a doubt, Lester's most famous Halloween costume was the year he came as Mattress Mack in 1987.

'Mattress Mack' was the television identity of Jim McIngvale, owner of the Gallery Furniture store here in Houston.  Mattress Mack was famous for his slogan "Gallery Furniture saves you money!!"

It was an inspired costume.  Lester brought money along with him to hand out to any girl willing to get in a picture with him.  As we can see, the girls were crawling over Lester all night long. 

It was a very clever move.  Lester was the envy of every guy. 

Lester with Marsha Rusoff and Michelle Collins


This picture was taken at a 1983 Labeling Party.  Back in those days, the mailing list had to go out by snail mail. It was a huge undertaking because an address label had to be placed on every flyer, flyers had to be organized and rubber-banded by zip code, then bundled in a canvas bag.

People would volunteer their houses for a Labeling Party. First we would label. It took 30 people an hour to finish the job. Then we would have a potluck dinner and play Charades or water volleyball afterwards.

(In my article 'A Curious Triangle' included further below, I will further explain what a Labeling Party is.)

In this picture we have John Cowen, Jim Ponder, Michael Miles with his wife Terri Box behind him.  Aubrey Passafuma is looking over Lester's shoulder with Don Scott, Linda Ingalls and Margie behind him.

Risa Beckham is looking upwards, Alan Brown is behind Diane Stotz.  In front are Hilary Mears, Tom Edens, and Carol Gafford with the megawatt smile.

By coincidence, there was a 1983 movie titled The Big Chill about a group of best friends in college who reunited 15 years later.  That movie was us.  We were as tight-knit as any group could possibly be.

Lester and these people were my best friends. My work and my personal life were one and the same. I was their leader... yes... but I was also part of the group. I was proud to witness the results of the close-knit group I had weaved together with lots of help from people like Judy Price and V-Ann Noblitt.

This was the Era when I began to notice that SSQQ was becoming a marriage factory.  I'm telling you, these Labeling Parties were hot events.


Here we have Lester and Margie at the 1986 Sock Hop.  Margie's alter ego was a Walt Disney Mouseketeer.  I never asked her whether she was a member of the Mickey Mouse Club, but I have a hunch Margie was a big fan.

Margie and Lester played a big part in one the strangest adventures of my own career.  Following my divorce from Pat in 1986, I found myself caught in the grips of overwhelming depression.

I found the only way I could keep the walls of my house from swallowing me whole was to go dancing every single night of the week.  The dance activity and the companionship of friends like Margie and Lester helped to keep the wolves at bay.  One night at Paradise Beach I mentioned to Margie that I had been dancing for 30 nights in a row. 

Margie said, "I know a guy named Hal Perry.  He lost his job, so he went dancing 50 nights a row as a way to eat the free buffet."  On the spot, I decided to beat Hal Perry's record.  Once I did that, I kept going... and going... and going for 201 nights in a row. 

One immediate benefit of 'The Streak' as I called it was that many of my students decided to go out dancing with me at least a couple nights a week.  The whole group became phenomenal dancers that year.  As people jumped on the bandwagon, the size of our core group swelled to 80-100 people.  On the night of the Tom Easley Look-a-Like event, we must have had 50 people dancing at the Safari Bar that night.  This was the Third Generation of SSQQ, a group that became inseparable.

Tom Easley and Carol Gafford organized the Surfside Weekend, we took a trip to the Bahamas, took a ski trip, had weekend volleyball games, went to the Renaissance Festival, you name it.  As people would discover the studio, they took one look at the kind of fun we were having and would instantly hitch their wagon onto to our momentum. The studio was hot hot hot.

And so was SSQQ Slow Dance and Romance. Out of this group of people, there were at least a DOZEN SSQQ marriages from the Third Generation, probably even more than I can't remember.

1.Tom Easley met his wife Margaret at the studio in 1987.
2.Mike Fagan met his first wife Lisa at the studio.
3.Steve and Cheryl Racey.
4.Doug and Sharon Hollingsworth.
5.Charlie and Beverly Roberts.
6.Diane Head and Ken Paar.
7.Gary and Linda Kryzwicki.
8.Emily Watson and Glen.
9.Hal Perry and Shelley.
10.Irving Carter and Sharon Winters.
11.Fred and DeeDee
12.Jim Smith and Pat Wilkins.

Did I mention we were all having the best time of our entire lives in the process? 

It was this adventure that taught me that SSQQ had healing powers.  I learned that many people had shared a similar experience.  They came to SSQQ broken and started dancing.  The activity and the companionship worked the same magic on them as it did on me.

If you are curious about this story, please read 201 Nights.



Lester and Valerie Ryan


Every summer we had a Beach Ball dance party.  I told everyone the less clothing, the better.

Here Lester salutes Judy Price and Risa Beckham for illustrating the concept quite well.



Here we have Lester and Hilary Mears at a Red and White Valentines Dance Party. 

Those were the Days, my Friends,
We thought they'd never end...

SSQQ was a very special place.  We took care of each other, we had fun together.   As Leader of the Pack, I suppose I get the lion's share of the credit, but as people can imagine, I could not have a created a place as wonderful as SSQQ without a lot of help. 

Lester was one of those people who were always willing to pitch in.  I am grateful to him and his many friends who appeared in these pictures along with him.

Rick Archer




Written by Rick Archer
March 2017

As you all know, every now and then I write about mystical mumbo-jumbo.   My stories are all very harmless.  I have no real way of proving anything I say, but I love to point out things that seem out of the ordinary.   You know what I am talking about... those odd little things that happen now and then that make us raise an eyebrow and frown a bit. 

In particular, I am terribly fond of coincidences.   I have spent my entire life documenting coincidences because I think they provide the best evidence that there just might be more to this world than meets the eye.

Yes, here I go talking about Fate again.  As many of you know, I am writing a book titled 'Destiny'.   The theme of the book is how a series of uncanny coincidences and lucky breaks allowed a young man with no social skills and no dance skills to create the coolest dance studio in history. 

One of the things I point out in this book is that back when I was building SSQQ, certain people kept showing up out of nowhere to help me at just the right time.  These people would prove pivotal in advancing me to the next step in my unusual dance project. 

For example, I ran into Patsy Swayze... yes, Patrick's Mom... and Glen Hunsucker... Houston's most gifted jazz choreographer at the time... totally by accident on different occasions.  Both people went on to give me invaluable dance training that helped me along my path.   I never sought out either person... they just came out of nowhere. 

Just so everyone understands, I have no special powers to allow me to speak with any kind of insight or authority.  I am just an average guy.  I am not psychic.  I am not mystic.  I have no visions, no ESP, no second sight, no X-Man style super powers.  I am just a normal guy like everyone else.  So take everything I write with a grain of salt. 

That said, I can read.  I read several books about a famous psychic named Edgar Cayce who said we are all connected.   From personal experience, I also know there are some people I have an immediate connection to.   In my case, Patsy and Glen are good examples.  My wife Marla is another person I felt immediately connected to.

What about you?  Have you ever just met a person and felt as if you knew them before?  For those of you who are open-minded about the possibility of Reincarnation, Edgar Cayce reported that we travel in “soul groups”.  These are people who reincarnate together so they can work on whatever life lesson is necessary. 

Can I prove any of this?  Absolutely not.  But I can speculate. 

Today I will offer a curious example of how that “soul group” theory might be in operation. 

Lester Buck has played an important role in my life on four different occasions, possibly even more.   Not once has he asked for anything in return.  Lester has floated in and out of my life for thirty-five years.  It seems like every ten years, Lester makes a huge contribution to my life, and then disappears.

For example, in the mid-Eighties, Lester suggested using a computer to handle my growing dance studio mailing list of 1,000 names.  First Lester found a friend who built me a computer at a very fair price.  Then Lester showed me how to use the contraption to keep track of student addresses and print out address labels.  

There were three enormous benefits to Lester's offer.  

First, I suddenly had the best typewriter of my life.  I began to write stories for the studio that I would print out and make copies for people to read at the studio.  These stories would prove invaluable when it came time to write my book because otherwise I would not have recalled many of the details from these long-ago events. 

Second, these address labels would play a curious role in the growth of my dance studio.  It helped create the start of a group identity wrapped around SSQQ. 

Six times a year, I would print a schedule and mail it to every student on my list.  The list had grown so large that it took hours for me to handle the operation alone.   So this gave birth to a popular tradition known as 'Labeling Parties'. 

Someone would offer their home for a night.  Students would volunteer their time and we would all gather together to put out the schedule.  One person would tri-fold the schedule.  Another person would stick the label on the schedule.  A third person would staple the schedule together.  A fourth person would make sure each schedule for a particular zip code was put into the appropriate bag for bulk mail.   With twenty or thirty people working together, the project took about an hour.  No one got paid a cent, but they did it because it was fun to see their friends and they enjoyed playing a part in helping the studio grow.

Afterwards we would sit down for a potluck dinner.  Everyone brought food to share.  The men brought potato chips and the women brought stuff that could actually sustain life. 

Then came the real fun... we would play games.   Oh, how we would play games!

We would have a knockdown, drag out game of Charades at Rilla Ryan's house.  Or we would have a brutal game of water volleyball in Margaret Easley's backyard pool.   Or we would have a spirited Trivial Pursuits tournament at Stan Clark's house.  Or we would have a jigsaw puzzle race at Judy Price's house.   Two teams would put together the identical puzzle and see who could finish first.  Yes, cheating was rampant... pieces would mysteriously disappear.  This was a cutthroat group indeed.  Gosh, we had more fun than anyone can imagine.

What ended up happening was that everyone fell in love with each other.   SSQQ became the finest marriage factory ever developed.  SSQQ ended up having a new wedding every month.   SSQQ was a very special place because everyone put their heart into it.  

This entire tradition started with Lester Buck.   Thank you, Lester.

Fast-forward ten years later... 1995.   Lester walked into the studio and said he had a present for me.  He handed me three videos.  

"What's this, Lester?"

Lester replied, "There's this crazy cult phenomenon taking place in New York City called the Lindy Hop.  They are going nuts over the thing.  I was in town for a business meeting and attended one of their events.  Lindy Hop has already conquered New York and now they are exporting it all over the world.  I thought you would be curious, so I brought you these tapes."

The videotapes were from the 1994 Frankie Manning Birthday Dance.  Lester had connected with the NYC Swing Dance Society while he was up there.  I thought the dancing looked cute, but quickly forgot all about it.  Some visionary I am.

On the other hand, Judy Archer, my wife at the time, was mesmerized!!  She took the tapes home and sat in front of the TV watching the dancing over and over and over again for days on end.  Speaking of reincarnation, I wondered if Judy was a reincarnated Charleston/Lindy dancer from the Roaring Twenties the way she was so instantly hooked.  I have never seen anyone concentrate with such single-minded fascination. 

Judy learned about Frankie Manning's teaching videotapes and sent away for them.  She studied the tapes daily.  Nobody in Houston had a clue how to help her.  She was the only person in the whole city working on this project.  Judy didn’t even have anyone to practice with.  I would walk in and see her dancing in the living room with her hand in the air leading an ethereal partner.  I decided everything was too odd, so I left her alone to follow her passion.

After four months of watching the instructional tapes, Judy decided she was ready  to teach the Lindy at SSQQ. The only problem was that no one had ever heard of it and didn’t care about it.  After her countless hours studying the dance, she was stunned to find that not everybody was a Reincarnated Lindy Dancer from the 20s and 30s.  Should this knowledge have stopped her?  Yes.  Did it stop her?  No.

To her credit, Judy talked up the dance to anyone who would listen. She even found a guy willing to learn, Jack Benard, and taught the Lindy to him so they could demonstrate it to everyone.  Thanks to Jack, Houston had just doubled its number of Lindy dancers from 1 to 2.

In November 1995, Jack and Judy taught the first-ever Lindy Hop crash course here in Houston.  They were not only the best Lindy couple in Houston, they were the only Lindy couple in Houston!  40 brave SSQQ dancers decided to show up for the demonstration and see what the fuss was all about.  They were impressed.

Then in February 1996, Judy started teaching a 4-week Lindy class as a follow-up to her successful Crash Course back in November.  Among those first students were Carl and Margaux Mann.  Judy struck up a friendship with them and they joined her first Lindy Hop Dance Team along with Jack Benard.

Two takeaways from that story:

1. Carl and Margaux were the couple who would rescue my daughter Sam's disastrous Senior year of high school and get her into college 15 years later.  Thank you again, Carl and Margaux.

2. Judy's pioneering work with the Lindy Hop established SSQQ as the go-to place when Swing Dancing hit the country big-time in 1997/1998.  SSQQ made so much money from Swing Dancing that first we put down a truly beautiful dance floor to reward the students.  Then we put the rest into savings which would pay for my daughter Samantha's college education.

Thank you, SSQQ students.  And thank you, Lester.  My daughter owes her college education to all of you. 

Lester floated back out of my life, but returned in the mid-2000s.  This time Lester brought Argentine Tango to SSQQ.  I was too busy to get involved, but we had a huge Argentine dance program here at the studio thanks to Lester's inspiration.

After I sold the studio in 2010, Lester vanished from sight again.  Recently Lester resurfaced to help me with some serious email problems.  It seems like all my SSQQ Newsletters were going to the spam boxes of most of my recipients or were being zapped by blacklisting.   I was so discouraged, I didn't feel like writing Newsletters anymore.

Lester introduced me to his friend Mark McCreary, an Internet newsletter and email specialist.  Mark went way way way out of his way to help me solve this knotty problem.   The consequence of Mark's help was immediate - I started writing Newsletters again.   Thank you, Mark.  Thank you, Lester.

So what does all this have to do with Edgar Cayce, Lester, and Destiny?

Funny you should ask. 

It becomes obvious that if Edgar Cayce is correct about Soul Groups, then Lester has played a major role in the formation and Destiny of SSQQ.  

Now let me introduce another character to our story.

Three weeks ago I went to the Pavillion Dance operated by Gary Richardson.  We will get to Gary shortly.   A pretty lady named Samantha... Sam for short... crossed my path and we danced.  I was immediately struck by the coincidence that her name was the same as my daughter.  So that started the conversation.

Then Samantha said something which really caught my attention. 

"You're Rick Archer, right?  Someone told me you the one who gave all these country moves their names.  They said you got Western dancing started in Houston."

For those who read last week's Newsletter, you may recall I mentioned this incident:

As for the Texas Polka, if you want a good laugh, you will be amused to know that a pretty lady recently gave me credit for bringing the Polka to Houston.  

We were dancing at Gary Richardson's Pavillion party last when she innocently said, "I hear you are the guy who brought Polka to Houston."

I did a double-take.  "I'm not sure what you are talking about."

"You're Rick Archer, right?  Someone told me you are the one who gave all these country moves their names.  They said you got Western dancing started in Houston."

I was definitely taken aback.  "Well, gee, thank you for the compliment.  No, I didn't bring Polka to Houston, but you might be surprised there is some truth to that statement. "

For the record, I did actually have something to with getting Western dancing started in Houston... 

The thing to understand is that Sam's comment was very curious.  Having been retired for seven years, I have receded into the background.  For that matter, my Newsletters have dwindled to a trickle in the past year due to writing my book and my email problems. 

Therefore it really caught me off-guard to have a total stranger knowledgeable about my career from 40 years ago. 

Okay, pay attention now and follow the bouncing ball.  

Sam's observation tickled me so much that I decided to write a story about how I learned to dance the Polka and put it in the previous Newsletter.  In addition, I decided to offer a dance class at Chapelwood based on Polka. 

In other words, I interpreted Sam's unusual comment as a signal, or an 'omen'.   That is how my goofy mind works.  It was so out of the ordinary that I attached unusual significance to it. 

Apparently it was a good idea... we had nearly 50 in our class last Monday.   As 'omens' go, Sam's comment worked out well for me.

So have I lost my mind?  Maybe, but if so, I have lots of company.   There are a lot of people out there who believe in Fate just like I do.   None of us know what 'Reality' is, but sometimes things happen that are just too weird to believe.  For example, the Patriots' Superbowl comeback.   

Three days before my Chapelwood class began, out of the blue, Lester wrote me to complain that the current SSQQ web site could use some updating.  I wrote back to say that this was none of my business, but in the meantime I had a favor to ask.  I told Lester about my 'San Antonio Stroll' Polka class on Monday and asked if he would volunteer his time to be an extra guy. 

Lester said sure.  He liked the idea that his colleague and friend Mark McCreary would be in the same class; they could hang out together.

-----Original Message-----

From: A. Lester Buck III
Sent: Sunday, March 5, 2017 7:06 PM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: helping with your Monday class

"Rick,  Yes, I'd like to come help at your Chapelwood class on Monday, if you still need me.  Do I just show up before 7pm?

Cheers,  Lester"


So who shows up in my Chapelwood class? 

Well, Lester shows up.

And who else shows up? 

Samantha, the lady who teased me into writing my Newsletter story about the Polka.   Sam showed up out of nowhere with her friend Mark.  She had never taken a class from me before.  So naturally I thanked her for coming to my class. I also thanked her for giving me the idea to offer this class in the first place.  I also made sure to tease her about her eye-catching rainbow hairstyle.

When I got home that night, there was an email waiting for me.  Lester was kind enough to compliment me on running an effective class.  He also had a fascinating suggestion... now that I have written an article about the History of Polka in Houston, how about an article on the History of Twostep? 

I am not kidding.  Read for yourself. 

-----Original Message-----

From: A. Lester Buck III
Sent: Monday, March 6, 2017 10:31 PM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: Texas Two-Step 

Dear Rick,

Thanks for letting me hang out in your class.  I don't think I have taken a class taught by you since the late 80s, which is kind of incredible.  You are so in your element when teaching a class, very smooth.

I was looking up the musical notation for the rhythm of polka and two-step, and was reading the Wikipedia page for Two-Step.

When did you name the studio SSQQ?  Because there is a stupid line in that article that reads:

"This Two-Step has been taught as early 1983."

 But SSQQ was teaching the two-step several years before that, right?

You should go edit that page and add some documentation to fill out the historical record.

I'm seeing a long article about the history of C&W dancing in Houston in your future!

Cheers, Lester


First Samantha inspired an article on Polka, now Lester is giving me the perfect lead-in for a story on Twostep.

Oh, one more thing.  Guess who Lester noticed in my dance class?

At the risk of embarrassing Lester a bit, Lester wrote:

"So who is Ms Rainbow Hair, the attractive woman in your Polka class?  I could not take my eyes off of her hair.  I am considering a similar hairstyle for next week.   It's either that or a Mohawk.  I could use the attention.  Which one do you think would work better?"


Okay, now it is time to make my point.  There were nearly 50 people in that room, a virtual mob.   Out of that mob, two people in particular caught my attention with their parallel comments:  Samantha mentioned Polka, Lester mentioned Twostep.  Together they had rebooted my writing career.

And just who from a mob of 50 people did Lester single out?   His literary counterpart, Ms. Rainbow.

They say it is a small world after all.   This story has been a perfect example.  Together, Samantha, Lester, and I make an interesting triangle. 

It is a coincidence.  It is a very small coincidence.   Does it mean anything?   Are we connected in a mystical way?  Who can say?  Something a lightning bolt is just a lightning bolt.   On the other hand, if a lightning bolt happens at a curious moment, we stop and wonder if it is an omen. 

I am simply saying that I believe there is chance that many people in the dance community are connected in underlying ways.   Together many of us may be sharing an incarnation together as a Soul Group.  Or maybe I am wrong.  Maybe we are just meant to step on each other's toes.

All I can say is that in this case, operating completely separate of each other, Samantha and Lester have given me the perfect opening to write about the Good Old Days.   Where did they get the unusual idea to make these suggestions? 




Rick Archer's Note:

As it turned out, I ended up writing a 20 page article on the History of Twostep.  Someone told me the article was too long, so I told them to blame Lester because Lester knew EXACTLY what button to push.

I can't believe how easily I am manipulated sometimes.

That reminds me... I decided in honor of Samantha, Lester should try the Rainbow hairstyle.   It would get him a lot of attention and it would be really popular with all the open-minded Rodeo people. 

Might even start a new trend.

So as a thoughtful reward for his many many good deeds, I bought him his very own multi-colored Rainbow wig.  As we can see, Lester was kind enough to model such wig along with me and his new friend Samantha.




SSQQ Front Page Parties/Calendar Jokes
SSQQ Information Schedule of Classes Writeups
SSQQ Archive Newsletter History of SSQQ