Kirkwood Lodge and Flippo became synonymous to square and round dancers for many decades. Kirkwood Lodge, in the Ozarks at Osage Beach, Missouri, played a gigantic role in Flippo’s success as a caller. How did this love affair start? Again, Flippo would say, “I was at the right place at the right time.”
Kirkwood played such a key role in Flip’s life, I dedicated three chapters in Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo:
- Chapter 9 – Kirkwood Lodge
- Chapter 10 – The Pride of Flippo’s Life, John
- Chapter 11 – Life at Kirkwood & More.
Also, in the Members Only section of my website, I have four additional items I couldn’t include in his already sizeable biography:
- Origin of the Kirkwood name
- Flippo’s Stories About Kirkwood Employees
- Picture of Kirkwood Employees
- Picture of Kirkwood Employees
I never danced at Kirkwood Lodge, but I know many people who did. For many, the memorable experience focused on Flippo and the fun he brought to their vacation experience. Flip entertained the dancers with hilarious after party skits and routines. He wowed them with his calling and the guest callers and cuers he hired there. And finally, if you were lucky, he taught you how to water ski, one of his many athletic skills he seldom bragged about.
HOW FLIPPO ENDED UP AT KIRKWOOD LODGE
During our interviews, Flippo returned to the topic of Kirkwood Lodge and Bill Hagadorn often. Kirkwood Lodge and Flippo’s subsequent yearly tours shaped his life and calling career. For forty-two years, he called at Kirkwood, a vacation spot in the Lake of the Ozarks at Osage Beach, Missouri, then for six months, he traveled on the road with dance engagements booked from dancers he met at Kirkwood. Bill Hagadorn, the owner, hired him. As we talked one day, Flip requested, “Now we got to have a whole damn section about Kirkwood Lodge.”
Larada Horner-Miller, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo (2020): 107.
In 1957 Flippo and Neeca took a square dance vacation at Kirkwood Lodge, a place suggested to them by a greyhound bus driver and his wife, who came to one of his Saturday night dances at the Hayloft in Abilene, Texas. This driver described Kirkwood and the dance program provided. He drove high school seniors there from all over the Midwest.
Flippo felt burned out on square dancing, so he planned this square dance vacation to be the end of their square dancing, but a serendipity happened. It rejuvenated them, having the time of their lives. They enjoyed it so much; they returned in 1958 and ’59. In 1960, they joined Les Gotcher, a caller they met at Kirkwood, at Eureka Springs, Arkansas, as a part of the staff.
With the success of “The Auctioneer” in his pocket and his winning personality and voice, in 1961, Bill Hagadorn asked Flippo to become the staff caller at Kirkwood Lodge and the rest is history. Flip often said that Bill was the best boss he ever had! Flippo continued calling there for forty-two years, enlarging the senior week program and the square dance program for families.
Flippo kept up a rigorous weekly schedule [at Kirkwood] but each season differed.
Neeca described his schedule, “Flip called six nights during square dance season, every night during high school seniors, and four nights during family season.’ He kept up that pace for the six months he was at Kirkwood for forty-two years!”
Larada Horner-Miller, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo (2020): 119.
KIRKWOOD BECAME THE BASE FOR HIS TOURS
“Flippo shared, “What happened was Neeca helped me a lot because guys would come to me [at Kirkwood Lodge] like from West Point, Iowa and Minneapolis, Minnesota and they’d say, ‘Hey, can you call for us?’
Neeca remembered, “We had received several booking dates, mostly from guests at the Lodge. Some were several miles apart. We were made welcome in many homes; many of these people became dear friends. Word of mouth spread quickly, and we kept getting more dates. We never in all my years found the need to write and ask for a booking.
We soon received more request than we had dates open. It was difficult to write people back and tell them he could not make; we had to turn down more than we accepted. It took some time to accept dates that would make it easier to travel. In order to accept some dates, he would only go to that area every other year. Flip was always quick to refuse full pay when the crowd was small because of the weather or some other reason. He called many dances for no pay at all.”
Larada Horner-Miller, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo (2020): 163-164.
THE PRIDE OF HIS LIFE, JOHN
While the Flippos lived there, John Flippo, their son, was born, and this monumental addition to this couple made Kirkwood a special place to them.
“Neeca returned to Abilene to have him, ‘so he’s a pure Texan. They’re just thar a few days, and they came on back to the lake. He’s not enough Texan to move down thar. He’ll never leave that lake, I don’t thank.’”
Larada Horner-Miller, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo (2020): 124.
And John didn’t leave. In fact, Flippo moved back to live with John at the end of his life, across the street from his beloved Kirkwood Lodge.
WHAT FLIPPO LOVED ABOUT KIRKWOOD LODGE
Flippo’s association with Kirkwood continued for four decades with a rich variety of national callers and cuers. He loved everything about Kirkwood: the dancers, the employees, and the calling and cuing staff he worked with over the years.
Larada Horner-Miller, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo (2020): 115.
The Hagadorn Era at Kirkwood Ended
Flippo and Neeca and Pat and Joyce Munn bought Kirkwood in 1973 from Bill Hagadorn.”
Larada Horner-Miller, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo (2020): 146.
They owned it for twenty years, but trouble arose, so they parted ways. But Flippo only remembered this pivotal place in his life with fond memories.
When Flippo lived his last months with John near Kirkwood Lodge, he enjoyed time with lifelong friends who were dancers and callers coming across the street to see their dear friend. So, from 1957 until 2018—sixty-one years, Kirkwood Lodge played an instrumental role in his life!
I’m sorry to say that we saw Kirkwood Lodge torn down this summer—a sad end of an era!
To see many historic pictures from Kirkwood Lodge, join this Facebook group: Remembering Kirkwood Lodge-Square and Round Dancing.
To read about Flippo’s experience at Kirkwood in more depth and to see all the extra resources in the Members Only section on my website, buy a copy of Flippo’s book. Then email me at Larada@icloud.com and I will get you into the Members only section!
Did you dance at Kirkwood with Flippo? Share your experience—how many years? What was your favorite memory? (Scroll down to the Comments section and please share!)
Recent Blog Posts You Might Have Missed:
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~HAVE YOU ORDERED YOUR AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF THE FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY? AVAILABLE NOW! Go to the homepage on my website & pay for it there: https://www.laradasbooks.com
~Here’s Christmas greetings from Flippo & Neeca, featuring his song, “When Its Christmas Time in Texas”: https://youtu.be/mpJCUGffU3A
ALL FOUR E-BOOK FORMATS OF FLIPPO’S BIOGRAPHY AVAILABLE NOW:
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7 thoughts on “Did You Dance at Kirkwood with Flippo?”
My parents, Bills and Betty Lincoln, were regulars at Kirkwood Lodge for over 25 years. The only time I was able to go with them was in 1974. I thoroughly enjoyed that visit. During the 90’s my sons spent a week with them there every year. During that time My parents cued rounds there one week each year, and took my sons there another week just to enjoy the dancing, fun and after parties. My father participated in the after parties as skits like that were one of his things. My mother suffered a debilitating stroke right after their 1998 trip there with my kids. My mother was never able to dance again. Marshall Flippo continued to call a dance in Little Rock during December for a few years after that. He also called a dance for my parents for their 50th wedding anniversary in February 1999. Flippo was a wonderful friend and mentor to my parents for many years. He sponsored my father to join Caller Lab in the mid-70’s. My father later was an early member of Round a Lab, I believe it was called. I enjoyed reading about Kirkwood Lodge and Marshall Flippo on this site!
Thank you so much for sharing about your parents & Flippo. I think you would really enjoy his biography.
I have ordered a copy of the biography from Amazon.
Awesome! Let me know what you think.