Monday, November 4 will be a year since Marshall Flippo died! When he passed away, I was in shock. I wasn’t ready for our conversations to end. I knew he was in the hospital and not doing well, but he had bounced back before. I had endless questions to ask: to clarify, to expand and to enrich the forty interviews we did.
We had talked weekly for over a year—40 hours of laughter, memories and stories. I felt honored and privileged for Flip to share his intimate life details with me. Yes, several of the stories will not be published in his biography, but I laughed at his bawdy humor and deep joy for living.
I wasn’t ready for our weekly dates to end–for the end of “us”!
An interesting situation transpired around his death. His life-long friend, Frank Lane, died on October 31, 2018—just four days before Flip. Flippo’s son suggested Flip might have died of a broken heart.
Yes, Flippo’s health was failing—three times in the hospital in three months with pneumonia–and his 91-year-old body wore out, but I wonder about that possibility. . .
“Being the last person standing” was something my husband, Lin, questioned Flip about and here he was. Frank and Flippo were the last of the “original 11” who formed CALLERLAB. After Frank’s death, Flippo truly was the last man standing of his peers.
The one person Flippo referenced the most in his stories and recounting his calling life next to Neeca, his ex-wife, was Frank Lane.
Flippo said, “I worked with Frank Lane two weekends a year for 36 years. I got to know him pretty well.” In reality, they worked together more often than that!
Frank and Flippo worked together at Asilomar’s week event for 35 years. Frank and Flip were two of the original members that started CALLERLAB and were active throughout their careers with this organization. Frank owned the Dance Ranch outside of Estes Park, Colorado and Flip was a regular there every year in July for decades. Flippo and Frank worked together at Kirkwood Lodge for decades. There they worked together, and they played together water skiing.
Bob Osgood started an interview series called DIALOG in Sets in Order magazine in February 1968 and stated, “This month we inaugurate a new series of dialogues directed to those people who have a desire to call square dances.”
Bob Osgood, Sets in Order (February 1968): 12.
In 1968, Flippo and Frank teamed up with Arnie Kronenberger and did two interviews on “How Does One Go About Learning to Call?”, answering different questions in each interview about this gigantic topic.
In 1969, this duo teamed up with Bob Page, longtime friend who Flip called with at Asilomar’s weekend event yearly for many years, to do two DIALOG interviews titled “Leadership In Square Dancing” and “Building Dancer Reaction.” Both Frank and Flip were respected leaders in the square dance world.
They started out calling about the same time and their paths crisscrossed over the United States where they teamed up at numerous festivals and events for decades.
The stories Flip told on Frank were priceless centering on the fun they had golfing and Flippo pulling tricks on Frank. Flippo created enduring relationships with people that lasted his lifetime and did things to nurture those relationships like regular phones and visits. In mid-2018, when we spoke of Frank last, I wanted to call him to get his side of some of Flippo’s stories.
Flip readily shared Frank’s phone number with me and said, “Well, he’s pretty bad off, so. . .. Sometimes Barbara answers, so. . .. Let it ring a good while. I don’t know whether he’s got answering (machine) or not. The last time I talked to him, Barbara picked up pretty quick, about three rings. I don’t know.”
I did call, and Barbara answered the phone, telling me that Frank couldn’t talk on the phone because of his hearing, so I never had the opportunity to get his side. I also missed a prime opportunity to see the Lane’s in personal during the summer of 2018 when Lin and I went to Loveland, Colorado to visit a friend—Estes Park is just one hour from Loveland, but I wasn’t thinking!
All of this talk about this pair reminds me of one of Flippo’s favorite Frank Lane stories. Here’s a partial exposure of Flippo’s side of the story, “I probably told you that Asilomar was my favorite, favorite weekend and week to go to, right? Frank Lane and I were doing the week, and he was, of course, the leader.”
With a chuckle, Flip added, “He was a born leader. At that time, there’s a thing come out called a Barge Thru. If you said, ‘Barge Thru,’ it’s kinda like square through four and then Trade By. So, at that time, you said, ‘Barge Thru,’ then you sung the words of the song as they were doing the Barge Thru. Jerry Haag had a call, I don’t have an idee what the name of this call was, but he had a call out at that time that had Barge Thru in it.”
“Star Thru came out at the same Nationals as Snaparoo in one hall. At the same time, somebody was calling, I think it was Les Gotcher, and he called it Star Thru in the other room. I think it might have been Red Warrick, introduced it as Snaparoo. So thar became a good big ole debate about that, and finally we all decided we’d stick with Star Thru.”
Frank Lane said, ‘That’s ruining all your Star figures when you call it Star Thru.”
Flip added, “And he was absolutely 100% correct. It hurt a lot of our Star figures. And so, he stayed with Snaparoo. He’d tell people at the dance, ‘Now when I say Snaparoo, it’s the same as a Star Thru. Don’t let it bother you.’”
The story continued with lots of bantering back and forth about Flippo’s favorite call, Barge Thru, and Frank’s renaming of a call, Snaparoo. This exchange had a hilarious ending (find it in Flippo’s biography, Just Another Square Dance Caller, In the CALLERLAB chapter). You can see how they interacted!
During his lifetime, Flippo loved people—many people over the past two years have repeated this phase to me as being one of his sterling characteristics. He created relationships that lasted a lifetime—Melton Luttrell was one of his best friend for six+ decades. Whenever he mentioned Frank Lane, he had a deep love for this man and he always had a laugh to accompany that name.
So, did Flippo die of broken heart that day a year ago thinking about life here without his dear friend? Who knows?
I ponder the possibility of them reading this blog post. Are they still arguing good-heartedly about Snaparoo and Barge Thru? I doubt it! I believe they’re calling one heck of square dance festival to our dance friends gone from this earth who are enjoying those two callers once again!
And yes, I was not ready to lose this man—who was?
Here’s a recording of Flippo sharing a part of the Snaparool/Barge Thru debate—enjoy!
~$500 Black Friday Giveaway from November 4-26! More details in next week’s post!
~Two memoirs, a historical fiction, a nonfiction and three cookbooks! It’s your choice! Just be sure to select at least one. Also, I have bundles where you save money when you buy more than one! Also, FREE SHIPPING now in the USA. Visit my Etsy Shop for all my books, Larada’s Reading Loft
~Whitey & Gladys Puerling were playful friends of Flippo’s who created a Fan Club. I thought it would be fun to recreate this group. Would you like to join the Marshall Flippo Fan Club Facebook page? Read interesting posts about Flippo’s life. https://www.facebook.com/groups/328325644382769/
~I HAVE OVER 200 PRE-ORDERS FOR THE MARSHALL FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY! You, too, can pre-order this amazing story? You can select which paper format or e-book format you would like. Go here to order the version you want. Monthly SWAG Giveaways! https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42