Voice from the Past
Dan Chace's next documentary celebrates Bob Ufer.
by Jan Schlain
From the August, 2017 issue
Dan Chace never met Bob Ufer, but the Ann Arbor native remembers how, as a child, he'd hear the voice of the insurance man and U-M football announcer wafting from the transistor radio his mother carried from room to room with her on football Saturdays. He says independent films are usually inspired by a moment like that.
An actor and acting coach based in L.A., Chace made his first film five years ago. Perseverance is a documentary about a boyhood hero, All-American Michigan running back Billy Taylor. His current project, The Bob Ufer Story, follows a similar template: interviews with family members, clips from memorable Ufer and Michigan football moments, some hysteria mixed with poignancy.
Ufer's U-M story began in 1939 when he arrived as a student; he played freshman football but turned into a track star, setting eight records before entering the radio booth at WPAG in 1945, beginning a broadcasting career that spanned five decades in parallel with building his insurance agency. Chace says the Ufer family "has blessed" the film, but has not contributed any money to the making of it.
One thing Chace wondered about was a term Ufer often used in his broadcasts: "daubers." He asked U-M linguistics prof Anne Curzan, and she didn't know what it meant, either. "She found out in time for our interview," Chace adds. "Daubers basically are your spirits, your emotions--'Their daubers are down' means they're feeling down. Anne said it was a phrase popular in the 1910s, and Ufer was born in 1920, so it was probably something he heard as a kid." Chace hopes to have the film out this fall.
[Originally published in August, 2017.]
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