Hear Ye, Hear Ye: Working As A Town Crier (Transcript) | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

Transcripts

Hear Ye, Hear Ye: Working as a Town Crier

MR. SABRI BEN-ACHOUR

13:41:09
Welcome back to "Metro Connection." I'm Sabri Ben-Achour in this week for Rebecca Sheir. And we're talking today about labor and the world of work. We've already heard about all the dirty work going on under our feet, and coming up, we'll talk about the work that's a bit more glamorous. Hollywood crews are invading this region this fall. But first, we turn to a job opening that's basically a life appointment.

MS. AMY BURT

13:41:28
We're looking for a great voice that's clear, that's loud. They need to be good with children and visitors and really be an ambassador, so a good sense of civic pride.

BEN-ACHOUR

13:41:43
That's Amy Burt (sp?), she's with the city of Alexandria.

BURT

13:41:45
We are searching for a new town crier.

BEN-ACHOUR

13:41:48
Yes, a town crier.

BURT

13:41:50
Well, we had one more 200 years ago and then the tradition really went away.

BEN-ACHOUR

13:41:56
Back in the 70's, people got really patriotic around the bicentennial and the city brought it back.

BURT

13:42:00
Well, we're really proud of our history, so having a town crier, somebody -- it's visible. They are in period costume and really make you feel like you could see this person on Alexandria streets a couple hundred years ago.

BEN-ACHOUR

13:42:14
Now, it's not paid position, it's all volunteer. You just get a hat and a bell basically, but auditions are coming up on the 7th, so in case you want to get a leg up on the competition, and there is competition, we went to Annapolis to see this guy.

SQUIRE FREDERICK TAYLOR

13:42:32
Oh, Yay, my lords, my ladies. I welcome WAMU to the fair city of Annapolis, Maryland.

BEN-ACHOUR

13:42:42
His name is Squire Frederick.

TAYLOR

13:42:44
Well, my real name is Fred Taylor. The name that I go under when I'm dressed in colonial attire like today is Squire Frederick and I'm the official town crier for the city of Annapolis, Maryland.

BEN-ACHOUR

13:42:57
Before he became Squire Frederick, Fred Taylor worked for the Department of Defense for 40 years. He's now one of about 42 official town criers in the country.

BEN-ACHOUR

13:43:06
Well, can you -- I guess really what, I mean, what is a town crier?

TAYLOR

13:43:11
Well, in the old days, town criers gave the news of the day. In modern times -- in the 21st century, we do the same exact thing. We present the news of the day. Today though, it's kind of morphed into being a ceremonial position, representing the city at different events. Also ceremonially I've kind of opened the state legislature here in Annapolis.

BEN-ACHOUR

13:43:34
Well, what kind of news? I'm just curious, like, what kind of news might they have announced back in the day?

TAYLOR

13:43:39
It just so happens I do have a cry that I took from the Maryland Gazette back in 1776. Criers would begin with the words, Oh Yay, which simply means a French word saying hear me. Oh Yay, oh Yay, oh Yay, gracious citizens of Annapolis, I bring ye important news from Mr. James Murray, which may bring thee monetary rewards.

TAYLOR

13:44:09
Harkin, strayed from Mr. Murray on the 24th of August, a dark grey mare about 7 years old, near 14 hands high, has a small switch tail with a hanging mane and has a number of dark colored spots, particularly on her rump and legs. Whoever will bring her home shall receive 20 shillings reward. God bless America.

BEN-ACHOUR

13:44:37
So a missing horse announcement?

TAYLOR

13:44:39
A missing horse announcement. They would give announcements of things that were lost, servants that had escaped, what was happening in New York in August of 1776 when the British are invading. So they gave the news of the day.

BEN-ACHOUR

13:44:58
Basically before there was Twitter, before there was radio, there was this guy, yelling in the town square. That's how society got its info.

TAYLOR

13:45:06
Town criers are all over the world. Here in the United States, I'm going to the North America Town Crier Championship next month in Anacortes, Washington. There's a crier in Deerfield, Massachusetts. There's a crier in Missouri.

BEN-ACHOUR

13:45:26
Sometimes people think Squire Frederick is a pirate or the Quaker Oats guy or Colonel Sanders, but it doesn't bother him, neither does crying in the heat or crying in the cold. He's having fun.

BEN-ACHOUR

13:45:37
What's your favorite part about this job?

TAYLOR

13:45:40
My gracious, things like this, talking to people, you know, spreading the news, you know, throughout the country. People that I meet, people that I've cried for, new friendships that I've made from people from other countries. I wouldn't trade it for all the tea in China.

BEN-ACHOUR

13:45:57
Well, thank you so much for crying for us. I really appreciate it.

TAYLOR

13:46:01
Well, thank you for asking me to do this. It's been absolutely a pleasure.

BEN-ACHOUR

13:46:07
So if you want to be a town crier in Alexandria, we have the details for the tryouts at metroconnection.org.
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