Marshall Flippo · My Thoughts · square dance · Travel

Marshall Flippo, an International Sensation!

Flippo, Neeca and Prince Mikasa. International
Flippo, Neeca and Prince Mikasa of Japan

An international sensation—a shy Texas square dance caller? How did it happen? Flippo called in Japan, Germany, England, Spain, Morocco, and Majorca. He joined callers on several cruises. How did this unfold?

First, his popularity at Kirkwood Lodge for forty-two years influenced this part of his successful career, as it did so many areas. Dancers came to this dance haven from all over the world, then requested he visit their home country.

Love Affair with Japan

After World War II, Flippo made two trips to Japan as occupational forces. He related, “I kind of had a love affair with Japan. When I started going over thar as a caller, I had stood over a year down at Yokosuka after the war, and they treated you like their kinfolk. I mean, they just treated you so good, it was unbelievable.”  

Larada Horner-Miller, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo, (2020): 235.

When asked how many times he traveled to Japan as a caller, he couldn’t remember. Matt Asanuma, a Japanese caller, first booked Flippo in Japan in 1983, and he told me his favorite story a couple times from that trip:

Matt announced to Flip the Prince would be there in about thirty minutes, and the Prince only knew about twenty Basics. “The Prince is NOT going to break down. Do not let him falter. You stay within those twenty Basics.”

Matt added, “We’ll all dance what he wants. He won’t stay but about twenty minutes. Call a tip, and he’ll probably be out of there, but don’t call anything so damn hard that he can’t do it.”

And his wife at that time could not be seen in public. Flippo didn’t know why, but it’s changed since then. “I ’member that afternoon almost like it was today. I called to them, and he came in.”

Matt stressed to Flippo, “Don’t call anything that he can’t do. We’ll put him in our best square, and he will NOT BREAK DOWN. He’ll probably be here only one tip.”

Well, he stayed two hours, and all these really, really good dancers just smiled about it. They didn’t mind. “Boy, they just danced along with twenty Basics for two damn hours. And they came after he left and said, ‘We’re sorry about that.’”

Flippo answered, “Well, I betcha you are, too.”“Oh, no, no, no. We had fun. We had fun. We like to dance.”Flip and Matt both thought the Prince would leave earlier, but Matt said, “He is having a good time.” Well, he stayed two hours, and all these really, really good dancers just smiled about it. They didn’t mind. “Boy, they just danced along with twenty Basics for two damn hours. And they came after he left and said, ‘We’re sorry about that.’” Flippo answered, “Well, I betcha you are, too.”“Oh, no, no, no. We had fun. We had fun. We like to dance.”Flip and Matt both thought the Prince would leave earlier, but Matt said, “He is having a good time.”

Larada Horner-Miller, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo, (2020): 236.
Calling schedule in Japan - International

Flip shared a copy of the calling schedule for that memorable first trip, and the only time he wasn’t calling was when they were eating lunch or supper. Ten hours of calling for two days! Flippo said, “I should have been quintuplets!”

Japanese officials asked if Flippo had ever been to Japan before, but he avoided their question because he didn’t want to bring up his presence their after the war.

Flippo opened the door to Japan for many other callers by recommending callers like Gary Shoemake.

Flippo returned a couple times with the Chaparral Record Label “boys,” Gary Shoemake, Ken Bower, and Jerry Haag, but he couldn’t remember if Beryl Main ever went with them before he died. Gary said Beryl had already died before they traveled to Japan.


Larada Horner-Miller, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo, (2020): 244.

In his biography, he shared hilarious international stories about his Japanese trips with “The Boys.”

The Love Affair was Mutual

In 1994 Martha Ogasawara wrote in an article, “Out of the American callers popular then, Marshall Flippo probably had the most influence on Japanese callers. Everyone slavishly imitated his style of calling, and to this day, many older callers call with a Japanese/Texan accent.”

The Japanese people loved Flippo. I connected with one of Flippo’s friends, a Japanese caller named Masaharu Hiraga, for information and mementos from Flippo’s times in Japan. He was incredibly helpful, contacting several people who knew Flippo throughout Japan and sending me their photos and stories of Flippo.


Larada Horner-Miller, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo, (2020): 245.

Germany

Flippo enjoyed another international destination—Germany.

Flippo traveled three times to Germany with Tom and Gina Crisp as one of the calling staff. Once when he was still married to his second wife and two by himself.

Tom Crisp clarified Flippo’s trips to Germany. “We took Flip three times to Germany, first in 2002. We were scheduled for 2001 but had to cancel because of 9/11. He went again in 2007 with Jerry Haag, Ken Bower, and Gary Shoemake. We took them all again the next year in 2008. All three were sell-outs.”


Larada Horner-Miller, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo, (2020): 247.

Spain, Morocco & Majorca

Continuing his international travels, Flippo and his first wife, Necca, went to Spain, Morocco, and Majorca with Bob and Nita Page for an eight-day trip. They started in Madrid, and he shared another hilarious story with Whitey Puerling, a dear square dance friend, and an trying to find an Easter parade you have to read (page 248 & 249 in his biography.)

England

Flippo added England to his list of international targets.

Flippo and his second wife went to England with Dave Taylor [another square dance caller], flying into London. They rented a car, and he remembered Dave asking, “Have you driven over here?”

“No.”

Dave stated, “I drove over here for about a mile.”


Larada Horner-Miller, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo, (2020): 249.

What a time they had with the driving and a fantastic dance experience.

One That Got Away—New Zealand

Flippo received a written invitation in 1989 to go to New Zealand from the Prime Minister to celebrate the anniversary year in 1990. Flippo finished up his discussion about his international travels with, “And let’s see. I never did get to go to New Zealand. I guess I was asked a couple of times, and it always . . . Thar was somethang holding me back—somethang.”

Larada Horner-Miller, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo, (2020): 250.

Cruises

Flippo went on several international cruises but didn’t know the exact number or destinations. He cruised with “The Boys” from Chaparral Recording Label: Ken Bower, Scott Smith, Jerry Haag, and Gary Shoemake. Flippo also joined these callers on cruises: Jerry Story, Tony Oxendine, Larry Letson, Tim Marriner, Randy Dougherty, Wade Driver and Mike Seastrom. He loved any time he could be calling and traveling with his caller friends.

Finally

In all his travel stories, Flippo related fun-loving tales. He never lamented the long hours of travel or the calling time there. He celebrated the fun, his friends, the different cultures and the people.

So, throughout his career, his popularity soared both nationally and internationally! Flippo reunited each year at CALLERLAB with his international caller friends, especially his Japanese friends. He loved his international connections.

Hopefully, these travel stories have whetted your appetite to read about this sensational caller, Marshall Flippo. You will find the travel stories and more in his biography, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo.

Did you ever travel with Flippo? If so, share your stories with us! (Scroll down below to the Comment section.)


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Add Flippo’s biography to your personal library

~HAVE YOU ORDERED YOUR AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF THE FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY? 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:

~Stop by my website for all the information you need about me & my books: https://www.laradasbooks.com

~Drop by my Amazon Author’s Page: https://www.amazon.com/~/e/B00LLQTXSM

~VISIT MARY ZALMANEK, A FRIEND’S BLOG: Cooking in a One-Butt Kitchen | Eating Well in Small Spaces: https://cookinginaonebuttkitchen.com/

Marshall Flippo · My Thoughts · square dance

CALLERLAB—How Did Flippo Take Part?

Flippo & Neeca at a CALLERLAB banquet
Flippo & Neeca at a CALLERLAB banquet

CALLERLAB came to life because the future of square dancing looked bright! All over the United States this dance craze exploded during the 50s and 60s. But with no organization in place, dancers faced mayhem if they traveled just fifty miles away from home because there was no standardization of calls. So, at home one call meant one thing; over there, something totally different.

Bob Osgood, being a futuristic thinker, caller and the editor a popular national square dance magazine, saw a gigantic need and provided an answer. Producing his square dance magazine provided him contact with callers from all over the United States, and this same problem kept cropping up.

Something of this magnitude took time. Organizational meeting started in 1964, and Bob used his magazine, Sets in Order, to report the progress of his group to the dance community. After organizing, they realized they had other issues to address in this group besides the standardization of calls.

In 1974, the first CALLERLAB convention occurred, with ten callers working with Bob to form this new organization, the international association of square dance callers. “Marshall Flippo was one of the eleven founding members of CALLERLAB.” They meet annually with banquets, training, calling and conversations.

Eleven Founding Fathers of CALLERLAB
Eleven Founding Fathers of CALLERLAB

The founding fathers were Bob Page, Marshall Flippo, Ed Gilmore, Lee Helsel, Arnie Kronenberger, Bruce Johnson, Joe Lewis, Bob Van Antwerp, Dave Taylor, Frank Lane, and Bob Osgood.

Flippo had a close association with Bob Osgood because he had worked with him at Flip’s favorite festival at Asilomar, California, and several of these callers worked there, too. Interestingly, Flippo had close relationships his whole calling career with all the founding fathers. He told hilarious stories about many of them and wanted them included in his biography.

Flippo’s Thoughts About CALLERLAB

When I interviewed Flippo for his biography, Just Another Square Dance Caller, he labored over his responses to my questions about this group he loved.

Flippo wondered about CALLERLAB, “See, we were getting great, huge, humungous classes at that time. I wonder if CALLERLAB hurt it, or did it? I believe it might have. It could have made the longevity longer, you know. Anyway, I thank, but it might have hurt it in a way like I go into a town and the guy following me, he called the same type of dance. So now you went in, at that time, you went in as a person, but now you go in as ‘He’s a Mainstream caller or Plus caller or, at best, caller.’ They still used your name, but it’s just incidental.”

Larada Horner-Miller, “Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo,” (2020): 223.

As he processed his feelings, he recalled specifics, yet still wavered about CALLERLAB’s influence on the activity he loved.

Flippo was on the Board of Governors for ten years, “but I got off it and decided I’d never get back on it. I had enough. I wasn’t much of a leader, Larada. I was just in thar, and I’d be real quiet. Sometimes I wouldn’t say anythang the whole meeting.” Flippo never envisioned himself as a leader—he helped get this organization off the ground and running but didn’t want to participate in the governing anymore; however, he was a regular attendee right up until the 2018 CALLERLAB Convention, the year he died.

Larada Horner-Miller, “Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo,” (2020): 222.

How Did CALLERLAB Standardize Square Dance Calls?

CALLERLAB’S standardization divided the square dance calls into separate lists at five different levels, with each level becoming more difficult. It started with Basic and then Mainstream. Originally, they had Plus1 and Plus2 but consolidated into Plus. Then they had A1 and A2 with the A standing for Advanced. The last level was Challenge divided into five levels. Today we still dance and teach these levels.

This topic was hard for Flip. “Geez, this is tedious.” So, when the list came out and everybody was teaching the same things, it became easier for a caller to go some place and they say, “Now we want Mainstream.” Then he knew they could probably dance Mainstream pretty well.

Pretty soon they were hiring callers for the level they could call, and a lot of the festival were all Mainstream, and then Plus got in there and most of them now are Plus. “So, damn, I can’t say it the way I want to say it.”

But once the list came out, it seemed all the callers began to call the exact same things. “Basically, if you hired one caller, the next caller you hired would call basically what the other caller called. Do you see what I mean? Before . . . it seems like they hired callers for their name and how they called . . . so pretty soon, they were hiring them for their level instead of for their name.”

After the lists came out, Flippo remembered that he was to call over in Lubbock, Texas. “Man, I knew those guys over thar were good dancers, so I made up a whole dance of stuff that I wanted to call. Well, when I got over thar, I started calling. Well, I thought they could do what I had written down, but every time I’d try somethang, it would go under. I knew the first tip that they weren’t going to be able to dance what I had written down and what I thought they could dance, so I had to kind of fall back on really what I thought they could do. It was tedious for a caller in a way to go somewhere without the list.”

Larada Horner-Miller, “Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo,” (2020): 227-228.

Finally, to end our discussion

Flippo’s statement, “We took ten lessons, and we were square dancers” demonstrated the evolution in square dancing. Today’s weekly lessons average four and a half months—a far cry from ten weeks.

He responded, “Yeah, that’s about all you had to do. You know, Betty [Casey, one of his mentors] taught four or five classes a year because if you just did ten lessons, you had two and a half months. She could teach another class, and that’s what I did when I first started calling. I’d teach a class, and two weeks later, I would start a new class. So that way, I thank, we got too uppity, uppity or somethang.”

Looking back, CALLERLAB came up in fourteen interviews with Flippo, a topic he loved to talk about yet wrestled with often. No matter what, he loved it!

Larada Horner-Miller, “Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo,” (2020): 229.

CALLERLAB Today

CALLERLAB continues to be a major influence on square dancing and has endorsed a new program, “Social Square Dancing” which can be taught in twelve weeks. Interesting how similar its length is to Flippo’s original experience of lessons so many years ago. The pandemic has affected our activity, so hopefully this new mindset will provide a movement that makes Flippo’s word come true, “I thank it’s going to survive it.”

For more information about CALLERLAB, visit their website: https://www.callerlab.org

Did you know about CALLERLAB before this blog? For more information about square dance history, here are two other books to look at:


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Add Flippo’s Biography to Your Library!

~HAVE YOU ORDERED YOUR AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF THE FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY? 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:

~Stop by my website for all the information you need about me & my books: https://www.laradasbooks.com

~Drop by my Amazon Author’s Page: https://www.amazon.com/~/e/B00LLQTXSM

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Marshall Flippo · My Thoughts · square dance

Did You Dance at Kirkwood with Flippo?

Kirkwood Lodge
Kirkwood Lodge

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:

  1. Origin of the Kirkwood name
  2. Flippo’s Stories About Kirkwood Employees
  3. Picture of Kirkwood Employees
  4. 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.

Flippo back at Kirkwood

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!

FINALLY

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!)

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Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo - Kirkwood

~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:

~Stop by my website for all the information you need about me & my books: https://www.laradasbooks.com

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~VISIT MARY ZALMANEK, A FRIEND’S BLOG: Cooking in a One-Butt Kitchen | Eating Well in Small Spaces: https://cookinginaonebuttkitchen.com/

Marshall Flippo · My Thoughts · square dance

How Did “The Auctioneer” Affect Flippo’s Career?

"The Auctioneer" received a Gold Record Award in 1967 for selling 500,000 records

The recording of “The Auctioneer” became a decisive moment in Marshall Flippo’s square dance calling career. How it unfolded supports his often-repeated motto: “I was at the right place, at the right time.”

LEROY VAN DYKE RELEASED “THE AUCTIONEER”

            First, Leroy Van Dyke released “The Auctioneer” in 1956.

Van Dyke was inspired to write the song from his own experiences as an auctioneer and those of his second cousin, Ray Sims.

He wrote it while stationed in Korea during the Korean War, and first performed it to troops on the same bill as Marilyn Monroe. After finishing his service, Van Dyke entered the song in a Chicago talent contest. It gained him a record contract with Dot Records. “The Auctioneer” subsequently topped the pop music chart, selling 2.5 million copies.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Auctioneer#:~:text=Van%20Dyke%20was%20inspired%20to,his%20second%20cousin%2C%20Ray%20Sims.&text=%22The%20Auctioneer%22%20subsequently%20topped%20the,chart%2C%20selling%202.5%20million%20copies.

            Then because of its popularity, Flippo must have heard this hit repeatedly on his favorite country and western radio station, wondering to himself if it would make a good singing call. All the words in the song made this unlikely—lots of words because of the auctioneer’s chant, but its popularity outweighed that difficulty to Flip. Can’t you see him memorizing all the words then experimenting with the choreography.

HOW FLIPPO CHOREOGRAPHED “THE AUCTIONEER”

When asked how Flippo choreographed “The Auctioneer,” he chuckled. One person, all eight parts! He did it in the living room at 1918 Marshall in Abilene.

That shocked me, so I asked him, “So you danced all the parts?”

Flippo walked through the whole thing. “It’s a terrible figer [figure], the first one [in] the first Auctioneer. Of course, we didn’t have a lot of Basics they got now, so I had six Basics. It’s not too good of a figer [figure]. Nowadays, you have to walk people through it two or three times before they get it, but back then, people, I don’t know .”

His laughter continued as I commented about the feat of him walking through it, one person doing all eight parts.

People tended to memorize singing calls because there weren’t that many basic calls. Now, if Flippo went into their town and called “The Auctioneer,” and changed the figures, “they flat-ass knew it. They knew it. They memorized that— they did better than you did!”

I asked Flip if it was unusual to take a pop song like Leroy Van Dyke’s “The Auctioneer,” and it became popular then in the square dance world. Was that going on or did he kind of pioneer that?

“No, I don’t know what happened thar. I know I went to Houston after he had recorded it, about six months. I don’t know how come it to hit. Callers bought it big.”

Norman [Merrbach from Blue Star Records] didn’t think it would go. Flippo was surprised, and Norman was surprised, too, that it took off like it did, but the reason for that big sale back then was the dancers were buying records, too, and callers. So, callers were buying, and dancers were buying them. “I’s putting ’em in the garage! Breaking ’em!”

Flippo chuckled. “No, I wouldn’t [break ’em].”

Later, “The Auctioneer” was re-released, and Flippo put different figures (calls) to it, and it never did sell like the first one.


Larada Horner-Miller, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo (2020): 95-96

FLIPPO RELEASED THE SINGING CALL, “THE AUCTIONEER”

            So, Flippo started calling in 1952 and released his first singing call, “The Auctioneer” in 1958, just two years after Van Dyke’s release, so the song’s mystique still held over. Several serendipitous events made this monumental event happen.

The turning point in his career happened in the Hayloft in Abilene. It was 1957, and Flippo was calling “The Auctioneer.”

One night Flippo was at the Hayloft in Abilene, and he was calling “The Auctioneer” before it was recorded. Two callers from Baytown near Houston had been to Colorado at some square dance and were going through town. They decided to come to Flippo’s dance. One of them had a French name that Flippo couldn’t remember, and the other one was Andy Lyons.

They came up after Flippo called “The Auctioneer” and congratulated him. “That’s pretty damn good.” They encouraged Flip to call Norman Merrbach in Houston, who was the producer of Blue Star records.

They repeated, “Call him.”

Flippo responded, “I’ve never thought anythang about recording it.”

“That’s pretty good. You ought to do it.”

After that, Flip forgot about it. Then he got a phone call from Norman. Norman asked Flippo to send him the words to that song.

So, Flip sent him the words. “Thar’s a lot of words.”

Norman called Flippo up, “I believe I’m going to pass on that ’cause callers want one with not too many words, and they don’t have to learn all the words.”

So, Flippo understood that, and he continued calling for a couple months. Then Norman called him up again and asked him to come to Houston “and do that thang.’”

Flippo answered, “Well, I’ve got to work Monday. I’ve got a dance Saturday night in Abilene, here. How far is it?”

“It’s three hundred and sixty-five miles.”

He stalled a little, “I don’t know.”

Norman persisted, “Well, I’ll tell you how you can do it. After that dance, start driving down here.”

“What you mean—at night?”

“Yeah, drive down here and get here early morning and we’ll do the thang. You can drive back and be ready to go to work Monday.”

Flip’s humor prevailed, “Wait a minute. You must be talking about my brother, and I don’t have a brother.”

Norman encouraged Flip to think about it.

So, Flippo asked Neeca, “You thank we could cut this? Go down?”

“Oooh,” she exclaimed, “I bet Momma and Daddy would go with us, and they can both drive. I can drive. We’ll take turns about sleeping.”

There were three sitting up in the front seat, one in the back seat trying to sleep. They drove down to Houston and got there about nine in the morning, just in time for Flippo’s appointment. “We had breakfast at a Sambo’s, which they don’t have anymore. I remember Fred trying to pay for it. Fred was Neeca’s dad.”

Flippo told his father-in-law, “No, you drove down here. Let me get it.”

Fred answered, “You don’t have any money. I have your billfold right here. You left it up on the table last night at the dance. Bless your heart!”

They went to Norman’s place, Norman and Nadine Merrbach, the owners and producers of Blue Star Records. “He was really a good guy and a good engineer.”

They did the recording in the studio, and “the studio acoustical stuff was egg crates.”

“I can see the studio from my mind right now. We went in and when they played it, I called it at the same time. Well, I remember one time we had trouble. I’d make a mistake and we’d have to start over, and then somebody else would make a mistake. It wasn’t one of those days that everythang went well.”

But now “The Auctioneer” went really well. Flippo hit it the first time, and of course he had been calling it with a band for a long time, so he was lucky to get out of there, and they headed back to Abilene. They got back in time to get a little sleep and go to work the next day.

“Anyway, ‘The Auctioneer’ hit pretty good. Well, I’d say, you know, all of my career I just lucked out, being in the right place at the right time. I don’t know what it was, and ‘The Auctioneer’ hit really good.”

Flippo was pleased with the way it sounded, but he didn’t realize it was anything big. He would think about it from time to time. Then the square dance magazine started praising it. “The only thang I can thank of is a lot of dancers bought records at that time, and learned the singing call that was on the record.”

The records were only sixty-five or seventy cents apiece, and they were 78 records. You could take a pile of them into a dance and they’d just be gone in a minute. People were just hungry for some kind of records to play at home or listen to. And some callers started from listening to tape recorders and to records. “They picked up ideas, started calling, and some of them turned into really good.”

Flippo remembered calling with a band in Houston one time. He turned around and asked them if they knew “The Auctioneer.”

Their response, “Oh, yeah, yeah. We done that. We can play it for you if you want to call it. Ohhhh, that’s Norman’s big one!”

They repeated, “Oh, that’s Norman’s big one, big one.” Flip repeated their response and chuckled.

“Well, I thank I’ll call it next the tip.”

So they did a good job on it, and they said this is “going to make ole Norman.”


Larada Horner-Miller, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo (2020): 93-95
Norman Merrbach congratulated Flippo for his first Gold Record Award for "The Auctioneer."
Norman Merrbach congratulated Flippo for his first Gold Record Award for “The Auctioneer”

What an amazing story! Little did that band know that this song launched Flippo’s career, skyrocketing him to become a legend in the square dance world. In 1967, Flippo received a Gold Record award for “The Auctioneer” selling 500,000 records, an outrageous number for the day.

Thinking back over Flippo’s story, have you ever had a series of events unfold in your life to create something unthinkable? Let me know. (Scroll down below to make a comment)


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Just Another Square Dance Caller cover - The Auctioneer

~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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Marshall Flippo · My Thoughts · square dance

Flippo & Obstacles He Faced

Young Flippo—Obstacles he faced
Flippo as a Young Caller

To think the Flippo we knew faced many obstacles as a young caller! Square dancers all over the world know the refined quality of the program Marshall Flippo presented at any dance he called—smooth rhythm, wonderful choreography and a beautiful voice. It wasn’t always that way.

“Marshall Flippo’s calling career could easily have not happened. In fact, Flippo missed his first night of square dance lessons. Initially, he couldn’t connect with the music and find the beat. Being a shy man by nature, his temperament could have stopped him from becoming the well-known caller who’s so well- loved. Just one of these could have been fatal, but Flippo faced all three and over-came the challenge placed before him.”

Larada Horner-Miller, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo, (2020): 81.

Flippo and Neeca and their good friends, Hub and Hazel Evans, arrived at their first square dance lesson late, so the guys refused to go in. The women made sure they were on time the next week. Thank God for Neeca and Hazel’s unflagging commitment. Once there, Flippo fell in love with what the whole activity offered: physical contact, friendly people and movement to music.

After their lessons, Betty Casey, their class caller and Flippo’s mentor, encouraged them to go out to a local dance at the YMCA. She assured these fledgling dancers J. C. Wilson, the caller, would be good to them. This time they took a complete square with them, squared up and the first call J. C. called they’d never heard. So, they tried to sit down, but J. C. noticed their evacuation from the floor, so he stopped the dance and separated the dancers.

“Flippo added with a laugh, ‘And God, strangers coming up thar and getting us. I never did see my wife again until the end of the dance, so they split us all up, and we had one hell of a good time, you know.’”

Larada Horner-Miller, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo, (2020): 82.
J. C. Wilson-Obstacles he faced
J.C. Wilson

What they experienced as beginner dancers at the hands of J. C. Wilson and those experienced dances exemplify true square dance hospitality. What happened kept these couples and a great caller wanting to dance.

Flippo and Neeca’s love of square dancing continued to grow, so his becoming a caller seems like a natural progression.

When I asked Flippo why he started calling, he answered,

“I thought, ‘Maybe I can do this in time.’ I loved to sing. I was out of lessons about a year before I ever started. Thar was two square dance clubs, and they were both full. They both had waiting lists for people to get in. The list wasn’t that long, probably ten to twelve couples. So, we put our names in for that one downtown. They could only dance twenty-five squares.”

Larada Horner-Miller, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo, (2020): 83.

So, Ed Hall had a chicken coop in Wylie, near Abilene, that he offered to clean up for a small square dance hall. It would dance three squares. Twelve couples signed up, and they danced to records for a while and then had a live two-piece band, but they needed a caller.

“One night someone had a suggestion. Thar’s twelve of us here. Why don’t we all learn to call? And we won’t have to have a record or a band, so we’ll just be our own caller.’

So that’s the way it started. Flippo remembered the first one he called. Singing calls didn’t appeal to him too much at that time, so he learned patter. First one he learned was ‘Dip and Dive.’ So, they all learned some kind of calls. “Some guys were good. I wasn’t one of the good ones.”

Larada Horner-Miller, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo, (2020): 83.

After deciding to call, Flippo faced one of his obstacles as a caller: he couldn’t keep the beat. Would this be the obstacle that would block our world-renowned Flippo?

“At one point, Neeca told him, ‘You can’t stay on beat. What’s wrong with you? Can you pat your foot to the music?’

‘Yeah,’ Flippo explained. He had a ‘Turkey in the Straw’ record, and he would go in the front bedroom of their house because they had no furniture in there and he had a little record player.”

Larada Horner-Miller, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo, (2020): 83-84.

Neeca would listen to him practice and stand it as long as she could, then she’d question him about his ability to stay on the beat. She finally suggested to say something every time he pat his foot with the beat, and that seemed to help.

Recently I heard a long-time caller friend of Flip’s say that Flippo said more words in his calling than any other caller because of his problem with keeping the beat.

Flippo persistently worked hard at mastering his craft. He would not let this get him down. Feeling a little confident, he ventured out after a time. First, he made his calling debut in Abilene at the CrossTrail square dance club, one club that they had been on the waiting list. He made a mistake on his first try and had to restart—he saw Neeca duck into the bathroom.

Melton Luttrell-Obstacles he faced
Melton Luttrell

For his next calling adventure, Flippo and a group traveled out-of-town to Cisco, Texas, to dance to the legendary Melton Luttrell. Two couples that came with Flippo told Melton that he had started calling. The hospitable move then was to invite the visiting caller to the stage to call. So Melton invited Flip up to call (this was when he was having trouble staying on the beat). Scared to death, he didn’t share with me how he thought the evening went.

Before they left the dance hall to go home, Flippo had seen the two couples talking to Melton after he called, so Flip asked them what he said.

They said, “Melton told us to tell you, ‘Don’t quit your day job!’”

Instead of discouraging Flippo, he went home and continued his practice, working hard on keeping the beat. The next time they returned to Cisco, Melton again invited him to call a tip, but this time, Melton noticed a marked improvement and told Flippo.

Wagon Wheel Dance Hall-Obstacles he faced
The Wagon Wheel Dance Hall

From those early days, Flippo called locally in Abilene, first at the Hayloft and then helped build the dance hall, The Wagon Wheel. He faced adversities that might have made someone else quit, but that was not Flippo’s nature. Because he never faltered but persisted, his calling career exploded so the obstacles never stopped him, and we’re the luckier for it.

Did you know this about Flippo? I would appreciate any comments! Scroll down below the information for the Comment section.


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Just Another Square Dance Caller Cover-Obstacles he faced

~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

~Pre-Order My New Book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? To be released mid-Junehttps://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdJNjMivaCzk2YcNWHGMoxG4FPsfVEqEQEzYbcYr4tX9cDPVQ/viewform?usp=sf_link

~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:

~Stop by my website for all the information you need about me & my books: https://www.laradasbooks.com

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Book Production · Marshall Flippo · My Thoughts

One Year Later! Let’s Celebrate Flippo’s Biography!

One Year Celebration!
Photo by Rakicevic Nenad from Pexels

Let’s celebrate one year since I released Flippo’s biography!! So much goes into publishing a book! Here’s what I did with Flippo’s. On May 3, 2020, I uploaded three formats of Flippo’s biography to Ingram Sparks’ publishing company. Flippo wanted hardback copies available, so that’s why I selected Ingram to publish his biography. I also published the paperback and Kindle e-book version through KDP on Amazon with the publication date of May 8, 2020. Whew! A year ago, I met myself coming and going for sure!

One year—that’s hard to believe! Because I self-publish, I do all the work to prepare a book to be released: create the cover and the interior. What made this an outrageous task is I had three covers to make: the hardback, paperback and e-book formats. Then I had to format the interior for each also, making sure each version had its own unique ISBN number! I really worried about messing up on that!

COVERS

Dust jacket for Flippo's hardback book
Hardback Dust Jacket with Template from Ingram Sparks

The hardback version required a dust jacket, which is a much larger space than a paperback cover, so I had to alter it considerably. (See image above.) I battled with the layout, making sure the title stayed on the spine and the text didn’t run over on the folds of the dust cover—tricky for sure!

Previously, I had laid out paperback and e-books covers for my other books, so I had less trouble with these two, and their dimensions were similar, so that helped!

But prior to the actual layout of these, I had to come up with the design. John and Neeca Flippo and I wanted the picture of Flippo calling as a young man with a live band. What a wonderful picture depicting Flippo calling as a young caller! It needed to be the focus point of the cover. Then I searched for the background graphic, and I wanted something that looked like a dance floor and found that.

Then, I experimented with the font and the color of the title, arriving at the one I felt stressed the title and went with the color scheme of the picture and the background. I love all these parts of design work!

Bryan and Kenta Swift helped me with the back cover. I wanted to feature Flippo’s favorite places he called, and they suggested I cluster them around the edges. I first added the four on the top: Asilomar, Kirkwood Lodge, Wagon Wheel, and Chula Vista. Flip had identified those four as his favorites. Then I knew I had to add Japan! He loved his trips to Japan and the Japanese people.

Early in my self-publishing career, advisors encouraged me not to write the book description on the back of the book, so I paid to have someone do that.

INTERIOR OF THE BOOK

Vellum app - One year later

For the interior layout, I used an app, Vellum, which is only available for Mac computers, and I love it. That took time too, though, doing the three formats! Then I decided because this was a history book of square dancing and people might be interested in looking for a specific person or places, it needed an Index. I found an app to help index the keywords, but what a grueling experience that was!

UPLOADS

Finally, I was ready to upload the covers and the interiors for each format. Before this book, I’d only used createspace.com which has become KDP, and I knew their upload process. Ingram Sparks was totally different. It required the .pdf documents for the covers and interiors to be in a specific format, PDF/X-1a:2001.

Adobe’s InDesign app is the publisher’s standard and creates that format, but I don’t have it because of its expense. So, I researched every nook and cranny on the Internet and found a solution—I outsourced my covers and interiors to fiverr.com and someone there converted my files.

So, after I successfully uploaded the documents to Ingram Sparks, I uploaded them to KDP, as well. Each of these publishers provided me with a “eproofs” to look over and give my final approval.

SALES

Stack of books - One year later
Photo by RODNAE Productions from Pexels

After that, the sales poured in from the pre-order list, word-of-mouth and my advertising on the Internet, but because of the coronavirus pandemic, I had a heck of time getting the shipment of books. After several weeks’ delay, I’ll never forget opening the box of hardbacks and holding that precious book in my hands for the first time. I think Flippo would have been proud!

Also, because of the pandemic, CALLERLAB was canceled, and I had planned to release the book there. So, the travel restrictions forced me to have the release party online with Zoom, and we had a fabulous time swopping Flippo stories that night.

With the continued restrictions and no dancing, the sales have dropped off, but I keep Flippo’s biography in front of the dance world on square dance Facebook pages and through emails to possible interested parties.

ONE YEAR LATER

Release party for one-year anniversary of Flippo's biography

Here we are one year later. I know the sales will spike once we dance again. Also, I’m having a Zoom celebration on May 10, 2020 7:00 PM MST to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the release of Flip’s biography, so join me for a fun-filled night. Go to the Facebook Event page and click you are going or email me at Larada@icloud.com

A year later—so much has happened! Have you ever self-published a book? If so, how did it go?

Have you bought your copy of Flippo’s biography yet? If not, now’s a good time!

(Scroll down a little farther below to make comments!)



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Just Another Square Dance Caller cover one year later!

~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

~One-Year Anniversary of the Release of Flippo’s Biography! Join me to celebrate on May 10, 2021 from 7:00—9:00 PM Email me at larada@icloud.com if you are interested!

~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:

~Visit my website for all the information you need about me & my books: https://www.laradasbooks.com

~Visit my Amazon Author’s Page: https://www.amazon.com/~/e/B00LLQTXSM

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Marshall Flippo · My Thoughts

Flippo’s in the Navy Now!

Flippo, the young sailor in the Nay
Young Marshall Flippo, the Sailor

Navy and Marshall Flippo? Really? I never would have guessed that! Marshall Flippo had an amazing life with world experiences I would have never dreamed of for a boy from Abilene, Texas.

During our interviews, he quickly relayed how he volunteered to join the Navy at the end of World War II. It’s a poignant story.

World War II began on September 1, 1939 and ended on September 2, 1945. In 1944, the war was intensifying. Flippo’s sister, Helen, had already joined and was serving. Patriotism flourished across the country with Flippo experiencing his own version in his small west Texas town.

“I joined the Navy when I turned seventeen in 1944.” After Flippo shared this, he sat quiet—his thoughtful silence spoke volumes.

In reviewing the part in the first interview about him joining the Navy, I mistakenly thought he had falsified his records to join.

Quickly he answered, “Whoa, whoa, whoa!! What did you say about the records?”

From his tone, I realized I had made a mistake. “I thought you told me that you falsified your records when you were seventeen. That’s how you got into . . .”

He interrupted me with a resounding, “No!”

So he explained what happened. “Well, Dad had to sign for me, but we didn’t falsify it. I got in. Daddy signed for me, and I went in on my seventeenth birthday. I didn’t falsify anythang.”

Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo, p39.

Before he signed up, Flippo’s friend, R. H. ‘Hub’ Evans returned to Abilene in his Marine uniform and this influenced the young impressionable teenager—Flippo was ready to sign up!

In Flippo’s biography, I divided the Navy section, The Texan Becomes a Sailor, into three chapters:

  • You’re in the Navy Now!
  • USS Lander
  • Three More Ships and Baseball

Flippo’s easily made friends and connected with two men in boot camp, Thurman Curry and Harold Snodgrass. Thurman lived in Abilene, and Harold grew up in Tennessee. I loved his stories about hitchhiking with Thurman to Abilene from San Diego between boot camp and Amphibious Training. No one would dare do that today!

Then the three of them—Flip, Thurman and Harold—enjoyed Harold’s car driving around small towns around Abilene and a trip back to San Diego and then around San Diego.

USS Lander - Navy destroyer tender
USS Lander

After Flippo’s training, the Navy assigned him to the USS Lander, a destroyer tender. As he talked about his years in the Navy, he referenced his War book often. I regret that we never read it together, but I used it as a reference for his biography. The book’s title is USS LANDER 1945, so it had in-depth information about his time on that ship. What a treasure this was for Flip!

Interesting fact about the USS Lander: seventy-five percent of the sailors on the ship had never been to sea before! So Flippo fit right in! He looks so young in the pictures!

Young Navy man onboard ship
Young Flippo, the Sailor onboard ship

It was on the USS Lander, Flippo made his first trip to Japan which began a love affair he had with the country and people the rest of his life.

USS Piedmont

After the USS Lander was decommissioned, Flippo sailed on the USS Piedmont, another destroyer tender, and ended up at Yokosuka Harbor again, right back to Japan, right in the same harbor where he had left a month before.

Did you know Flippo was an athlete? Flippo’s sports career started on the USS Piedmont. They had a football team and baseball team, and he was on both.

USS Wiltsie

Then the Navy transferred him to the USS Wiltsie, another destroyer tender. So, the Navy decided they’d make a team: DesPac, standing for “Destroyers of Pacific.” They took two guys off of all the destroyers who had baseball teams. They selected Flippo as one of the two players from the USS Wiltsie to go the USS Dixie for the DesPac team. They played Navy teams or Army teams who had baseball teams. He ended his Naval career on the USS Dixie, another destroyer tender.

USS Dixie

Finally, the Navy wanted Flippo to reenlist, but he wanted to go home to Abilene—he was done! Laced throughout these three chapters in his biography, Flippo shared a bird’s-eye view of World War II and what it was like on a destroyer tender in Asiatic-Pacific Theater, providing support to the Marines on the shores of Iwo Jima and being a part of the occupying force in Japan.

These four years had a lasting impact on Flippo and his view of life. He entered the Navy a young naïve seventeen-year-old and left a seasoned sailor who had seen the world.

Have you read about World War II? Does seventeen seem young to go to war? Was it different back then? To make a comment, scroll down to the bottom of the page! I’d love to hear from you!


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Just Another Square Dance Caller book cover

~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

~One-Year Anniversary of the Release of Flippo’s Biography! Join me to celebrate on May 10, 2021 from 7:00 – 9:00 PM Email me at larada@icloud.com if you are interested!

~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:

~Visit my website for all the information you need about me & my books: https://www.laradasbooks.com

~My Amazon Author’s Page: https://www.amazon.com/~/e/B00LLQTXSM

~ Visit my Etsy Shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/LaradasReadingLoft

~VISIT MARY ZALMANEK, A FRIEND’S BLOG: Cooking in a One-Butt Kitchen | Eating Well in Small Spaces: https://cookinginaonebuttkitchen.com/

Marshall Flippo · My Thoughts · square dance · Writing

How Do You Start a Biography?

Cover of Flippo - start a biography

After several hours of interviews, Marshall Flippo had definite ideas how to start his biography. He ended up with two unique pieces he wanted, so my dilemma became, which would it be?

His passionate interest in the intricacies of his biography fascinated me. Then I found out he had prior experience with book publication because he wrote a chapter in Bob Osgood’s book, The Caller Text. Flippo was one of the contributing callers, writing chapter 24: “Building and Maintaining a Repertoire.”

As we discuss the layout of the book, Flip stated, “I have a dirty joke a caller’s wife told me the first time I met her, and I want you to start my book with it. I’ll tell it to you, and then you clean it up so we can use it.” Then he told me the joke, and I howled because I loved Flippo’s outrageous humor. I assured him we could use it, but I wondered about starting his life story with a dirty joke.

Laughter - start a biography
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

But as I transcribed the interviews and relived our 40+ hours together, I realized that humor defined Flippo in a way I hadn’t realized. His practical jokes and stories about his caller friends showed the humorous life he lived!

Another reason for humor came up when I transcribed the first few interviews and Flip was still alive. I sent him a copy of the interviews so he could answer questions I had.

In his raspy Texas drawl, he stated, “Take the giggles out!”

I laughed and replied, “Flip, any time you giggled in the interviews, I put in the word “Giggle” to remind me when I wrote the actual text, I wanted to remember to add your laughter.” He accepted that. Yes, he laughed a lot in the interviews, reminding me how much he enjoyed his life.

Also, Flippo told me repeatedly he wanted people to laugh when they read his biography. So, I understand the reason to start with a joke.

Hs joke is hilarious about some hunters caught in a cabin in a snowstorm and nature calls—you’ll have to buy the book to get the full joke.

So, we went with that for a few months. Flippo often returned to the joke, chuckled and wrote a reminder to himself to phone the caller and ask permission from his wife to include her name in the book. Somehow, he never made that call, so I emailed the caller about this touchy topic. He said his wife would prefer not being named.

I felt good about the joke and the start of this book. After several months, during one of our weekly interviews, Flippo stated, “I have something else I want to start the book with.”

Not knowing what was coming, I sighed and wondered what it could be.

Flippo added, “I want a tribute to those callers who’ve gone and helped me get started.”

After this poignant request, I swallowed, and the lump in my throat expanded. I stopped the tears because I had to listen.

“Okay, we can do that, but what about the joke?” I asked.

Easily he figured, “Put the joke after this part,” so I did.

So, once again Flippo recited a list of callers’ names to me who he wanted in this part. The first part consisted of Abilene, Texas callers: Betty Casey, J. C. Wilson, Bob Sumrall and Owen Renfro.

Then he named Bob Osgood, Bob Page, Arnie Kronenberger, Bob Van Antwerp, Joe Lewis, and Bill Castner. Those men lived all over the United States. He told stories on each, and the gratitude he expressed about these people was palatable.

In my research, I found a picture of everyone but Betty Casey, so I added her signature. I loved adding the pictures to provide a visual to the name. Some names are historical callers in the square dance world.

Sadly, two callers died near Flippo’s death who he might have added to this list: Frank Lane and Lee Kopman. I added them here because of their gigantic contributions to square dancing over the years. Also, Flippo loved and admired both of them.

Honor those who go before you—yes, that’s the man Flip was!

Finally, how we started Flippo’s biography depicted him to the tee: a spicy sense of humor and deep gratitude to those who went before him and helped him get his start as a caller.

One last note: I started Flippo’s biography with an unusual piece we never talked about with the assistance of his son and ex-wife. Someone who preordered Flip’s biography asked before he died if she could get her copy autographed by Flippo. After he died, that question haunted me. How could I do it?

I emailed John and Neeca, and Neeca found this treasure on a card he sent her years ago—how appropriate it was to use because he truly loved all of his friends.

Love Flip - start a biography

How do you start a biography? I believe there’re hundreds of ways to do it, but the solution is in the person the book is about! What best portrays the subject?

What do you think? How do you think a biography should start?

Previous Blog Posts You Might Have Missed

Cover for Just Another Square Dance Caller

~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:

~Visit my website for all the information you need about me & my books: https://www.laradasbooks.com

~My Amazon Author’s Page: https://www.amazon.com/~/e/B00LLQTXSM

~ MARCH MADNESS SALE: 20% Discount my Etsy Shop for select paperbacks & digital copies: https://www.etsy.com/shop/LaradasReadingLoft

~VISIT MARY ZALMANEK, A FRIEND’S BLOG: Cooking in a One-Butt Kitchen | Eating Well in Small Spaces: https://cookinginaonebuttkitchen.com/

Marshall Flippo · My Books · My Thoughts · square dance · Writing

Who Should Write a Foreword to a Biography?

For quite a while, I wondered who Flippo would choose to write the Foreword to his biography. Before he died, I asked him a couple times who he wanted to write it. Each time we broached the topic, he lamented over the fact Betty Casey and J. C. Wilson, his two mentors from the Abilene, Texas area, were dead because they were his first choice. He made no decision before his death. I ended up with the perfect person: John Flippo, his son.

During our conversations, he kept evading the question. I would repeat, “Flip, who do you want to write the Foreword to this book?” Names came up, and his lack of commitment spoke volumes—so many had died already. So, we made no decision before his death.

After he died, I continued to muse over this vital part of the book. My husband, Lin, suggested John Flippo, his son. Immediately, I knew in my heart and soul I had found the right person, so I asked him, and John humbly agreed to write it. Any time Flippo talked of John, his voice softened, and his deep fatherly love shone through, using words like “my best friend“ and “good man.” What powerful words to describe the love and respect Flip had for his son.

In reading John’s Foreword, his words speak reciprocally of his father. Enjoy what John wrote:

FOREWORD

I remember my first-grade teacher going around the room and asking each of us what our fathers did for a living. There were lawyers, doctors, truck drivers, and the like, but when she got to me, I proclaimed my dad was a square dance ca!ler! The whole room busted out laughing.

Restraining her own giggles, the teacher informed me that square dancing was a hobby, not something someone did for a living, but I insisted, with only a hint of doubt in my young voice. She asked where he went in the mornings and what kind of uniform he wore. He wore a bolo tie and cowboy boots, but I was certain that if I mentioned that, I would have been laughed at again.

Being a square dance caller was the only job I knew my dad to have. He was one of the best in the world, but of course he would never say that. People who danced to his calls always made a point to tell me how much he meant to them and how much they loved him.

I never cared for school and didn’t plan on taking any more, so when I graduated high school, I was thrilled. Unfortunately, shortly after, my mom told me that instead of just working at our resort, Kirkwood Lodge, I was going to need to go out and get a real job. This was a responsibility I had never considered, nor thought to consider.

Noticing I was reeling from the revelation, my mom suggested that I go on tour with my dad. She has always been there to rescue me when needed. Going on tour seemed to me a great deal better than getting a real job or going to more school. The plan was to do three months out east, come home for Christmas, and finish with three months out west. Dad made room in the car for my boom box and a few dozen t-shirts, and we were off.

Dad loved everything about touring, and we loved being on the road. We reveled in making good time on a trip (we took this very seriously), getting “smokie” and “statie” reports from the CB radio, finding the cheapest motels in the best locations, and finding the best coffee and breakfast in town. The only thing he didn’t like was doing laundry. He taught me how to do it, and it was clear this was my main purpose in being on the trip. I am still using those skills today at FlipBack, our boutique resale store.

Dad made a point to introduce me right away at the dances. I was shy and tended to mumble, but no one cared about that. I was Marshall Flippo’s son, and that made me royalty and an instant friend of anyone that knew my dad. We both had great memories of that tour. I got to see another side of my dad, and I learned more on that trip than I could have ever learned in school.

When my dad told me Larada was planning on writing a book about him, I was ecstatic. I had always thought his life would make a great book, and I was immediately on board. He was a little harder to sell. He didn’t want the cover to mention square dancing, or have a picture of him on it, and he figured the book would be better if he didn’t talk about himself. Fortunately, Larada won him over. I could tell, the more they worked together, he began to look forward to their weekly interviews. He would even take notes during the week of things he wanted to go over or something he thought might be interesting. I hope you enjoy this book as much as he and Larada did in putting it together.

John Flippo June 5, 2019

When I read this Foreword for the first time, I choked up—what a precious tribute to Flippo from his loving son.

In 2021, I plan to feature monthly an excerpt from the book, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo, for your reading enjoyment.

In conclusion, if asked to write a Foreword for your dad or mom’s biography, how would it sound? How about if your children wrote yours, how would they describe your relationship? Something to think about.


Here’s a chance to see my blog posts from the last two weeks:

~My Agony of Waiting

~Did Democracy Win? Hell, Yes!

Just Another Square Dance Caller Meme

~HAVE YOU ORDERED A PERSONALLY 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:

~Visit my web site for all the information you need about me & my books:  https://www.laradasbooks.com

~Larada’s Amazon Author’s Page: https://www.amazon.com/~/e/B00LLQTXSM

~ Visit my Etsy Shop for all my books for a Valentine’s Day discount of 25% off select books and bundles:   https://www.etsy.com/shop/LaradasReadingLoft

 Enter the $400 Valentine Giveaway & WIN a $400 Amazon eCard! Only One Lucky Winner – Why not YOU? ~> http://ow.ly/L7Vn50DkYGN

~VISIT MARY ZALMANEK, A FRIEND’S BLOG: Cooking in a One-Butt Kitchen | Eating Well in Small Spaces: https://cookinginaonebuttkitchen.com/

Coronavirus · Goals · Marshall Flippo · My Books · My Thoughts

What Does 2021 Hold For Us?

2021
Photo by Vladislav Murashko from Pexels

2021 is here! Yahoo! Happy New Year! Whew! I thought it would never come! Closing 2020 with a quiet bang, I look to opening up 2021 with enthusiastic gusto!

But like so many others, I reminisced about meaningful past New Year’s Eves, and one repeatedly came to mind. In 2017 many square dance callers and dancers met in Green Valley, Arizona to witness Marshall Flippo call at his last square dance on New Year’s Eve 2017.

Flippo’s Last Dance 2017

Many national callers came out to see their mentor and friend end a 60 year+ career. Numerous dancers traveled from far and wide to hear Flippo call one last time. I felt the magic in the air that night—sadness mixed with deep love and appreciation. I will never forget that evening nor my dear friends in attendance.

This year, we celebrated a quiet one. We watched “Bells of St. Mary” with Bing Crosby and Ingrid Bergman and cried at the ending even though we had seen it before. After the movie, we prepped an elk roast and vegetables to cook in the crockpot overnight for our New Year’s Day dinner. Then we ended the year watching the celebration on the plaza in Santa Fe, NM—what a New Mexican party it was. I loved that they sang, “Las Mañanitas!” to bring in the new year!

So, let’s talk about this new year. 2021 is an empty book, a new chapter, today a blank page in my life! What will I do in 2021 with still so much uncertainty? Yes, we have the vaccine, but not many people have been inoculated yet. So, we need to be cautious and use those familiar safety suggestions:

  • Masks
  • Social distancing
  • Wash, wash, wash our hands

That just reminded me of a hilarious experience Lin and I had on cruises we have taken. Greeting us at the door of any restaurant onboard, two ship employees sprayed our hands with sanitizer and sang, “Washy, washy.” What made this so hilarious was the enthusiasm they did their task with—smiles and pure joy! I wish most Americans handled all the safety suggestions with such joy and enthusiasm!

So, as I ponder 2021, I think about a day in this year as being a blank page—the nemesis of many writers. I love the sight of a clean page, a new year, a new beginning. I choose what’s written there. I choose my attitude with which I face each day. I choose to be positive and proactive.

So, I spent part of yesterday and today reading book marketing ideas to prepare for this new year as an author. I jotted down several new ideas to incorporate into my plan for 2021. I also thought about how I want my life to be different, especially incorporating what I learned in my solitude in 2020.

2021 Goals
A Word Cloud of My 2021 Goals

So, here’s my list (more than book marketing stuff):

  • Publish a new book, Bitter or Better: My Year’s Coronavirus Journey
  • Do my daily Quiet time
  • Dance
  • Attend recovery meetings
  • Dance
  • Promote my books, especially the Flippo book at dance events
  • Dance
  • Exercise
  • Dance
  • Spend time outside in nature
  • Dance
  • Connect face-to-face or virtually with family and friends
  • Dance
  • Recreational Reading
  • Dance
  • Visit our family ranch in Colorado
  • Dance

As you can see, dancing tops my list of activities I want to add back this year.

As I face 2021, a year with possibilities, adventures and people, I wonder. I know I thought 2020 had all those possibilities. Will this year be different or more of the same? I’m sure the first part will feel very similar to 2020, but hopefully mid-year 2021 will take a turn towards normalcy.

What do you think?

I do want to end with some 2020 humor. This was shared our Next Door app before the end of the year, and I thought it was hilarious:

2020 – A YEAR IN REVIEW!!! I hope everyone can get a chuckle from this!

  1. The dumbest thing I ever bought was a 2020 planner.
  2. I was so bored I called Jake from State Farm just to talk to someone He asked me what I was wearing.
  3. 2019: Stay away from negative people. 2020: Stay away from positive people.
  4. The world has turned upside down. Old folks are sneaking out of the house & their kids are yelling at them to stay indoors! 5. This morning I saw a neighbor talking to her dog. It was obvious she thought her dog understood her. I came into my house & told my cat. We laughed a lot.
  5. Every few days try your jeans on just to make sure they fit. Pajamas will have you believe all is well.
  6. Does anyone know if we can take showers yet or should we just keep washing our hands?
  7. This virus has done what no woman has been able to do. Cancel sports, shut down all bars & keep men at home!
  8. I never thought the comment, “I wouldn’t touch him/her with a 6-foot pole” would become a national policy, but here we are! 10. I need to practice social-distancing from the refrigerator.
  9. I hope the weather is good tomorrow for my trip to the Backyard. I’m getting tired of the Living Room.
  10. Appropriate analogy. “The curve is flattening so we can start lifting restrictions now” is like saying: “The parachute has slowed our rate of descent, so we can take it off now.”
  11. Never in a million years could I have imagined I would go up to a bank teller wearing a mask & asking for money.
  12. The spread of COVID-19 is based on 2 things:
    1. How dense the population is;
    1. How dense the population is.

~Visit my Christmas blog posts:

Just Another Square Dance Caller cover

~HAVE YOU ORDERED A PERSONALLY AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF THE FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY FOR A CHRISTMAS PRESENT FOR A LOVED ONE OR YOURSELF?   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:

~Visit my web site for all the information you need about me & my books:  https://www.laradasbooks.com

~ END OF THE YEAR SALE: Visit my Etsy Shop for 25% off individual paperback titles & bundles. Good until JANUARY 15, 2021. https://www.etsy.com/shop/LaradasReadingLoft