Albuquerque · Marshall Flippo · My Thoughts · square dance

Money Hidden in Flippo’s Travels!

Large square dance with Flippo calling. Money hidden
Large square dance with Marshall Flippo calling

Money and safety—always an issue when you are traveling. Today, we don’t think about how to hide enormous sums of money while traveling in the United States. Easily, we would go to the nearest branch of our bank in our current location and deposit it. No problems, no need to worrying about hiding it.

Marshall Flippo had to be creative in the 60s and 70s during the heyday of his calling career. Flippo drew sizeable crowds wherever he went and got paid with cash or checks while traveling for weeks before heading home. With no bank branches, he had to get imaginative in his travels when he carried a large sum, forcing him to hide his money.

In 2017, when I was interviewing Flippo for his biography, Mike Seastrom asked me, “Have you heard the stories about how Flippo hid his money while he was traveling?” We were sitting at dinner at the CALLERLAB Convention one evening in Albuquerque, NM. I told him I hadn’t heard those stories but would ask.

So, when we talked the next day in one of our only face-to-face interviews, I asked Flip. He chuckled, then related the following amazing stories:

Flippo’s First Money Hiding Story

Because Flip got paid in either check or cash on his tour, he devised unique ways to hide his money. Often the dances paid him in cash since they would pay him out of the money they collected at the door. He never mailed the money home to Neeca, so he would carry it all with him until he got home.

Flippo did a Sunday morning at Chula Vista Resort then hurried like heck to get over to Rockford, Illinois and had a dance Sunday afternoon at two o’clock. Then Flip had the next night off, but he always drove a little ways because he was going down into Indiana for Monday. So he usually drove to Chicago and stayed in “this motel in Chicago—nice hotel, nice motel. And I had stayed thar before.

“This time I had a lot of cash on me, and I was so tired when I got in thar. We went out to eat after the dance in Rockford—a bunch of us, then I drove on over to Chicago, and so I was quite tired when I pulled into the motel. With my clothes on, I just laid across the bed and went to sleep. I slept about three hours. I woke up. It was 11:30 at night, and I was hungry.”

So Flippo thought, “Well, I’ll go out and get a hamburger somewhere,” but he had all this cash.

He thought, “I don’t want to go out this late at night with all this cash.” So, Flippo took the toilet paper off the spindle, wrapped all this cash money around it. Put the toilet paper back on, went out, and got himself a hamburger. The next day, he was going to Kokomo, Indiana, and got there about 4:00 p.m.

Toilet roll - hide money
A good place to hide money!

Flip decided to eat dinner, and he opened his billfold and there was no money.

He thought, “Oh, I left that money on that spindle.” So Flippo called that motel. As we talked, he worried about not knowing the name of the motel and promised to find it somehow but never did.

He told the clerk, “I was in the room—I don’t know what the number was now. I left some money on the spindle on the toilet paper in that room. Forgot it. Left it and I’m over in Kokomo, and I left that money in thar.”

And the desk clerk asked, “You know, how big was the roll of toilet paper?” “Ah, about a quarter of it had been used.”

He stated, “Well, that’s pretty good. When it gets down pretty low, they usually take it off and put a new roll on thar.”

So Flippo thought, “Oh.”

The clerk commented, “I’ll go over and check. Give me about two minutes.” “Well, after a while, he came back.”

“I got sixty-five twenty dollar bills here.” That was $1300! Today that would be over $11,000! (Comparison of $1300 in 1960 to 2020. Ian Webster, “CPI Inflation Calculator,” 2020, https://www. in2013dollars.com/us/inflation/1960?amount=1300)

“Glory me. Take one of those twenties for yourself and send the rest to that address. You got my address when I checked in.” Can you imagine sending that amount of cash in the mail today!

He stated, “I’ll do that,” and Flippo added with a flair, “He did.” That’s unbelievable!

Flippo’s Second Money Hiding Story

Flippo repeated, “It’s amazing! It’s not the end of the story. The next year, same motel, same situation—God, I didn’t thank I’d ever forget the name of that motel. Same motel. Same type of situation—tired, laid out across the bed, went to sleep, woke up hungry.”

He thought, “I ain’t going to put that toilet paper around that dang gum money, so I put it under the floor mat of the car. I’ll be in that car. I’ll know where my money is.”

Car floor mat - hide money
Another good place to hide money!

Next day, while Flip was driving toward Kokomo, before he got out of Chicago, he saw a car wash.

Flippo went on, “Oh, thar’s a car wash, pulled in thar. It was a full service. Pulled up to the vacuum, and the ole boy stopped me thar.”

The attendant directed him to go through that tunnel, go down to the cashier, and pay out.

“Okay.” Flippo added, “It’s a young black guy. So, I’m walking down that tunnel, and I hear the door open behind me.”

And that guy stated, “Hey, sir. This money almost went down the vacuum.”

“He had it in his hand, so I give him five dollars.”

Flippo told him, “Oh, thank you very much. I forgot it. I ’member putting it under thar last night.”

Flippo concluded these stories, “They talk about, you know, the crime in Chicago and everythang. Thar was two incidents that the guys could have said, ‘No, haven’t seen no money,’ and anyway, end of the story.”

And he added as he finished, “I need to go smoke.”

Larada Horner-Miller, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo (2020): 170-171.

Finally,

How remarkable for sure! I love how these stories about Flippo’s ingenious methods of hiding money turned out so well when they could have been a tragedy. Also, what honest people he dealt with at that hotel and carwash! It describes a different time and a different mindset for sure. If you enjoyed these stories, buy his biography for many more.

Do you hide money? If so, how do you do it? Have you ever had a near miss or two like Flippo?


~WATCH MY NEW INTERVIEW on Chat & Spin Radio, from Friday, June 24, 2022. Join us for a lively description of all my books!

~MY FIRST AUDIOBOOK IS AVAILABLE: Go to Audible to buy my first audiobook, Let Me Tell You a Story. I’m working on Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? but have gotten stalled with shingles.

~Do you listen to podcasts? Here are three podcasts with interviews about my new book & some Flippo stories:

Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo

~Have you bought a copy of Flippo’s biography yet? Believe it or not—it’s been two years. Go here for your hardback or paperback: https://www.laradasbooks.com or at Amazon.

~For me, it’s Christmas all year long! Here’s a variety of Christmas greetings from Flippo & Neeca, featuring his song, “When It’s Christmas Time in Texas”: https://youtu.be/mpJCUGffU3A

~Wish You Were Here: A Novel by Jodi Picoult, one of my favorite authors, deals with the COVID pandemic in fiction as opposed to my nonfiction book. Check it out! Interesting story!

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? meme

~What happened to you in 2020-2021 during the coronavirus pandemic? Do you care? Are you on a spiritual path? Do you want to heal from the horrible effects of the pandemic of 2020? Visit my website to find out about my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? and my other five books and three cookbooks: https://laradasbooks.com

Marshall Flippo · My Books · My Thoughts · square dance

Are You a History Buff?

Collage - history pictures

History fascinates me—I love to read about what has happened in the past with well-known characters and events. When I wrote Marshall Flippo’s biography, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo, I knew without a doubt; it stands as a history book of square dancing and so much more.

When I first interviewed Flippo, I heard stories about his growing up in west Texas in Abilene. He enjoyed his teachers and his education and had a favorite story about ink wells and the ink used in them. Family meant the world to Flippo.

World War II

Marshall Flippo in the Navy. History
Marshall Flippo in the Navy

Laced into those first few interviews, Flippo identified his patriotism with World War II raging in the background of his teen years. His older sister, Helen June, had already enlisted, so it seem natural for him to join up, but he was only seventeen years old. That felt so young as he described the process.

When I referenced his enlisting in the navy, I had a major misunderstanding about that event. Originally, I thought he said they had faked his enlistment papers, but he vehemently corrected me. His dad had to sign for him; patriotism ran strong in the whole family.

So, World War II became a significant topic in his biography, with him spending four years in the navy. He spent two years at the end of the war, going to Japan twice. He described being onboard ship, observing Iwo Jima as an eyewitness.

When Flippo described his last two years in the navy, I laughed out loud in amazement. No one could have guessed what he did those last two years. He enjoyed a dream post—playing baseball for the navy overseas and then in San Diego, California.

Square Dance Caller Career

After the service, Flippo returned to Abilene, Texas, married Neeca and embarked on a career that would change his life forever—square dance calling. He stood as a bridge in the history of square dance calling between an influencer like Dr. Lloyd “Pappy” Shaw, the person credited for the square dance explosion in the late 30s and 40s, and all those who followed him. Flip never met or trained under Lloyd Shaw, but Bob Osgood and Betty Casey did and, in mentoring Flippo, Shaw’s influence carried over to him through those two people. Learned more about Lloyd Shaw at https://squaredancehistory.org/exhibits/show/lloyd-shaw

With his career spanning sixty years, he followed those influencers and became a mentor to many callers over the years, carrying on Shaw’s legacy. As one of the original eleven founding fathers, Flippo helped start CALLERLAB, the international organization for callers that changed the direction of square dancing in the 70s. He continued attending this annual convention throughout his career, going to his last one in 2018 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where I spent 4-5 hours with him, interviewing him for his biography.

In organizing this book, Flippo immediately let me know he wanted to tell stories about callers and cuers who influenced him. He so much wanted to honor those who were deceased; we created a tribute to them at the beginning of the book. Then the book ends with stories he told about other callers and cuers. I added stories callers wanted to tell on Flippo. Flippo’s humility prevailed throughout the book, and I had to ruin him in, reminding him this book was supposed to be about him!

Sadly, Flippo died in 2018 before we finished what he wanted to share. When he passed away, I had 258,000 words to transcribe from his interviews—so much information. Flippo totally involved himself in the production of his biography. Before he passed, Flip commented about the thickness of Bob Osgood’s biography, As I See It. We saw it at CALLERLAB in Albuquerque. He demanded his biography not be that thick, so I found the word count of Bob’s biography and made sure Flippo’s was less!

However, yes, this book is thick, but the following features liven it up.

Added features to this book—

  • Footnotes explaining square dance terminology—interactive in the e-book formats
  • Period pictures of Flippo, callers, cuers and dancers from Neeca’s three scrapbook/photo albums
  • Pictures from a war book about his time on the USS Lander Flippo referenced often
  • An Index at the end of the book, simply because of my commitment for it to be a history book. I wanted readers easily to cross-reference any topic identified in the book.
  • Appendices
    • Appendix A–Chronology of Marshall Flippo’s Life
    • Appendix B–Itinerary of USS Lander (one of the destroyer tenders Flippo was assigned to)
    • Appendix C–More Burma-Shave Jingles
    • Appendix D–International Tours
    • Appendix E–Chek-A-Kaller Legend
    • Appendix F–Flippo’s Recordings & Reviews
    • Appendix G–List of Callers who Attended Flippo’s Last Night, December 31, 2017
    • Appendix H–Festus Article & Letter
    • Appendix I–Glossary of Square Dance & Round Dance Terms
    • Appendix J–Additional References: books, URLs, Marshall Flippo Song Bytes, News & Websites
  • Additional resources on my website for those who buy the book in the “Members Only” section

Finally,

If you’re a square dancer, this book has so much information for you about the activity we love and the inside story of Flippo’s life. If you’re not a square dancer, the historical aspect might capture your heart about a time in our history rich with stories and people of a time gone by.

Do you like history? Do you like stories about World War II? About life in the 20s in Texas? Let me know what you think in the Comments section.


Favorite child - Happy Father's Day

~Need a Father’s Day gift for your dad or granddad? How about a bundle of my books about ranch life? Go to my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft, for 25% discounts on three bundles!

~MY FIRST AUDIOBOOK IS AVAILABLE: Go to Audible to buy my first audiobook, Let Me Tell You a Story. I’m working on Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? but have gotten stalled with shingles.

~Do you listen to podcasts? Here are three podcasts with interviews about my new book & some Flippo stories:

Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo Meme

~Have you bought a copy of Flippo’s biography yet? Believe it or not—it’s been two years. Go here for your hardback or paperback: https://www.laradasbooks.com or at Amazon.

~For me, it’s Christmas all year long! Here’s a variety of Christmas greetings from Flippo & Neeca, featuring his song, “When It’s Christmas Time in Texas”: https://youtu.be/mpJCUGffU3A

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? meme

~What happened to you in 2020-2021 during the coronavirus pandemic? Do you care? Are you on a spiritual path? Do you want to heal from the horrible effects of the pandemic of 2020? Visit my website to find out about my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? and my other five books and three cookbooks: https://laradasbooks.com

Books · Dancing · Marshall Flippo · My Thoughts

Recordings of Flippo: 14 Different Labels!

Marshall Flippo - recording king

In Marshall Flippo’s square dance calling career, he recorded over 222 records for fourteen different recording labels. He started with Blue Star Record Label, owned by Norman and Nadine Merrbach. During his illustrious career, he moved on and worked with many recording labels. Here’s how it went after Blue Star!

Move from Blue Star to Chaparral Records

Flippo’s loyalty to Blue Star records and Norman and Nadine Merrbach kept him there for twenty-seven years, but times changed. The move to Chaparral welded lifelong friendships for Flip with the callers at that record label: Gary Shoemake, Ken or Kenny Bower, Jerry Haag, Beryl Main, and Scott Smith.

Larada Horner-Miller, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo (2020): 257.

Flip and Neeca talked about the royalty issues with Blue Star Record. After much deliberation, he chose to move. His big concern was Norman and Nadine. Flippo was a people person—he loved people; they produced his first hit, “The Auctioneer” which rocketed his career. He didn’t want to hurt their feelings, and he commented to me how his move changed their relationship.

Flip retold many stories about the Chaparral callers, and once again, his connection with people affected his choices. The staff callers did various popular Chaparral weekends all over the country, with hundreds of dancers in attendance. Flip found his niche.

Years later, when I interviewed Flippo for his biography, his go-to guy was Gary Shoemake for any details he couldn’t remember, and he told multiple stories about each of the men listed above. These five callers became family to him.

Also, this rowdy gang traveled internationally, and some of his most hilarious stories told in his biography are about these travels and these men.

Sets in Order

“Then Flip did albums with Sets in Order with Bob and Becky Osgood. Flip never did do a single for Bob. He was always on an album with a bunch of other callers where each caller did one song. He was on quite a few of his long plays that he put out.”

Larada Horner-Miller, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo (2020): 285.
2 Sets in Order Album Covers: 18 & Lucky 13th Jamboree. Source: Just Another Square Dance Caller
Masaharu “Doc” Hiraga
2 Sets in Order Album Covers: 18 & Lucky 13th Jamboree. Source: Just Another Square Dance Caller,
Masaharu “Doc” Hiraga

Flip did not know how many Sets in Order albums he did, but Mike Seastrom connected with Masaharu “Doc” Hiraga from Japan, and Doc sent me pictures of six album covers. Then Ted and Karen Clements sent me pictures of four more, and I found others. Last count: he recorded twelve Sets in Order Albums and twenty-five Blue Star Long Play Albums, enjoying every moment.

Other Recording Labels

As Flippo’s popularity grew, he expanded out to other labels. Some label owners were personal friends, and he only recorded a couple of songs with some of them.

When asked how many recordings Flippo did, he responded, “Exact number of songs I called, I have no earthly idee how many.”

 Larada Horner-Miller, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo (2020): 285.

Flippo recorded for more than Blue Star and Chaparral. Rhythm Records is Wade Driver’s company, and Flip did a few here and there. Also, he did one on River Records. “I believe I just done one or two for Chinook out of Knoxville, for ole Ted Frye.” The Internet showed that Ted Frye was owner of Square Tunes and Pioneer Records.

When I listed the number of record labels he recorded with, he replied, “Holy mackerel! Good Lord a Mercy, some of them I don’t even remember. A bunch of old records. Well, the one from Knoxville—Ted Frye’s ole one. They’d call you up and say, ‘Hey, can you do this number for me? Will you do it?’ Of course, I usually did somethang. Some of ’em were terrible, but I did. I did one for Riverboat, I thank was. I hated for anybody ever to hear any. I don’t know whether he released ’em or not. But it was God-awful!”

Larada Horner-Miller, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo (2020): 285.

The Fourteen Record Labels

Flippo’s popularity put him in high demand. Here are the fourteen labels who recorded with:

  1. Blue Star Record Label –
    1. Single song – 171 records
    1. Blue Star Long Play Albums – 25 albums
  2. Dance Ranch Record Label – 6 records
  3. Bob Cat Record Label – 1 record
  4. Chaparral Record Label – 24 records
  5. Desert Gold Record Label – 1 record
  6. E-Z School Record Label – 1 record
  7. ESP Record Label – 4 records
  8. Four Squares Record Label – 1 record
  9. Rhythm Records Record Label – 6 records
  10. Riverboat Record Label – 1 record
  11. Royal Record Label – 3 records
  12. Square Dancetime Record Label – 1 record
  13. Square Tunes Record Label – 2 records
  14. Sets in Order Record Label Albums – 12 albums

Notice that Flippo only recorded albums for Sets in Order, and that he recorded twenty-five long play albums for Blue Star.

Finally,

Flippo’s recording career fascinated me—I was more interested in how many records he recorded than he was. When I asked him which of his recording was his favorite, he surprised me. As a lifelong Texan and country boy, I figured it would be one of the country and western songs.

When asked about his favorite recording, Flippo responded, “Oh, geez! I have no idee. ‘Every Street’s a Boulevard’ is probably—you know .”

Larada Horner-Miller, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo (2020): 289.

If you are interested in perusing the lengthy list of songs Flippo recorded, be sure and buy this amazing biography!

In comparison with today’s square dance world, I can’t even visualize Flippo’s popularity during the heyday of square dancing. He said he’d take a stack of records to a dance, and they’d all sell out—imagine that!

What was your favorite Flippo recording?


~ Check out my blog post from last week. I usually advertise my blog on one of the social media platforms, and they rejected it because of the topic! Please, read!

~MY FIRST AUDIOBOOK IS AVAILABLE: Go to Audible to buy my first audiobook, Let Me Tell You a Story

~Do you listen to podcasts? Here are three podcasts with my interviews about my new book & some Flippo stories:

~Buy a copy of Flippo’s biography on my website: https://www.laradasbooks.com or at Amazon.

~Here’s a variety of Christmas greetings from Flippo & Neeca, featuring his song, “When It’s Christmas Time in Texas”: https://youtu.be/mpJCUGffU3A

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? Meme

~Are you on a spiritual path? Do you want to heal from the horrible effects of the pandemic of 2020? Visit my website to find out about my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? and my other five books and three cookbooks: https://laradasbooks.com

Marshall Flippo · My Thoughts · square dance

Flippo’s Last Dance: A Night to Remember!

Flippo's Lasr Dance
Flippo’s Last Dance

Recently we celebrated New Year’s Eve 2022, and I’m always taken back to one specific night, Flippo’s last dance at Green Valley, Arizona, on New Year’s Eve 2017.

Here’s an excerpt from Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo describing that memorable night:

Green Valley, Arizona—New Year’s Eve, December 31, 2017

At the end of November 2017, Jerry Junck asked me in a phone conversation if we were going to Flippo’s New Year’s Eve dance in Green Valley, Arizona. Lin and I weren’t sure.

He added, “I think Gary and I are going to drive down.” I had heard that this would be Flippo’s very last calling.

“That’s what he claims.”

I added, “It sounds to me like it might be the place to be on New Year’s Eve.” Flippo was asked four years earlier to sign a contract to do the Green Valley New Year’s Eve dance, and he refused a couple of times. Dean Capes, a member of the club, finally arrived with a contract in hand, so Flip couldn’t refuse any longer.

As Flippo signed it, he stated, “I doubt if I will be here in four years!” But he was, and what a wonderful celebration it was.

Ann Salwaechter, a dear friend, called him the Sunday afternoon of the big event to see how he was feeling.

Flippo told her, “I’m nervous with all these professional callers coming tonight.”

Ann exclaimed, “Flippo, you taught them all to call!”

When we arrived, Flippo met me at the door with a kiss, as usual. He always had a kiss for the ladies. He was greeting all the dancers as they came in and let me know about a man in attendance who wanted to talk to me about this book.

Numerous callers came from all over the USA, as well as many local callers. Larry Letson, a dear friend and caller from Indiana who had stopped calling, came in the door right after the announcements. It felt like a family reunion!

During the festive evening, the Green Valley square dance club gave Flippo a plaque thanking him for all his years of support.

Flippo receives a plaque from Kay Hill, Vice President, Green Valley Square and Round Dance Club, Flippo and Dean Capes, MC.
Flippo receives a plaque from Kay Hill, Vice President, Green Valley Square and Round Dance Club, Flippo and Dean Capes, MC.

Flippo called a memorable dance to faithful dancers and callers. Groups of callers gathered around the dance hall. Ken Bower, Gary Shoemake, and Wade Driver huddled together and shared a story (possibly a favorite Flippo), and belly laughs and deep laughter came from each of them.

Another time I saw Jerry Junck leaning up against a wall with eyes riveted on Flippo on stage. His expression stated everything—admiration and love for his mentor for decades, mixed with deep sadness. Often throughout the evening, the callers’ eyes were glued to Flippo on stage with admiring expressions. Their teacher was done.

During the evening, he announced this book from the stage and asked a question he’d wondered about often in our interviews, “Who would want to buy a book about me?” In no way did he ask this question in a solicitous manner—he could not imagine anyone wanted to read a book about him. The crowd roared!

Several people came up to me after his announcement, querying when it would be done, wanting a copy.

Patty Greene, then chairperson of CALLLERLAB, exclaimed, “How are you going to edit out the X-rated stuff?”

During the amazing night, Flippo handpicked his music. He sang, “Another Square Dance Caller.” He shared a heartfelt thank you to everyone in attendance and ended his final dance with the song, “I’m Leaving Here a Better Man.” I’m sure that’s how he felt that night!

Here’s the chorus to his last song with a profound message:

Still, I’m leavin’ here a better man

For knowin’ you this way

Things I couldn’t do before now I think I can

And I’m leavin’ here a better man

https://genius.com/Clint-black-a-better-man-lyrics

When Flippo stopped calling and the music ended, people gathered around him after the traditional big thank you circle. So many wanted to thank him personally with a final hug and kiss. Flippo and his fans lingered, exchanging stories. No one wanted the evening to end.

Kim Oxendine gives Flippo a hug with Gina and Tom Crisp waiting in line

Kim Oxendine gives Flippo a hug with Gina and Tom Crisp waiting in line

I’m sure that a sizable group of callers and friends took Flippo to a local drinking establishment to end the night with drinks, camaraderie, and stories to mark the end of an era in the square dance world.

To see the caller list of attendees for Flippo’s last night, see Appendix G.

Larada Horner-Miller, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography: Marshall Flippo, (2020): 326-329.

Callers from all over the United States in attendance to Flippo’s Last Dance.
Callers from all over the United States in attendance to Flippo’s Last Dance.

APPENDIX G – LIST OF CALLERS WHO ATTENDED FLIPPO’S LAST DANCE, DECEMBER 31, 2017

National Callers:

  • Ken and Dee Bower, Palm Desert, California
  • Bob Lottie & Dee Dee Dougherty-Lottie, Mesa/Casa Grande, Sun City, and Florence, Arizona
  • Wade and Healy Driver, Spring, Texas
  • Patty Greene, Monroe, North Carolina
  • Jerry Junck, Mesa, Arizona
  • Vic and Shauna Kaaria, Redlands, California
  • Larry Letson, Lafayette, Indiana
  • Tony and Kim Oxendine, Sumter, South Carolina
  • Mike and Lisa Seastrom, Thousand Oaks, California
  • Mike Sikorsky, Apache Junction, Arizona
  • Gary Shoemake, Sevierville, Tennessee

Local Callers:

  • Glenn Condit, Tucson
  • Tom and Gina Crisp, Sonoran Stables, Tucson
  • Rick Gittelman and Patty, Tucson
  • Don Haney and Sandy, Voyager RV Resort, Tucson
  • Wendy Krueger, British Columbia, Canada
  • Juanita Portz, Sierra Vista
  • Janet Shannon, Tempe
  • Mike Smithers, Sierra Vista
  • Harue and Bryan Swift, Sierra Vista
  • Bill Reinders, Green Valley

Larada Horner-Miller, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography: Marshall Flippo, (2020): 515.

I hold on to this memorable night as a once-in-a-lifetime experience! What an emotional New Year’s Eve that was—tears and laughter overflowed! Flippo’s last dance was a historical night in square dancing with the ending of a legend. I felt privileged to be there to witness Flippo’s last dance. Were you there? If so, how did you feel?


~Buy a copy of Flippo’s biography on my website: https://www.laradasbooks.com or at Amazon.

~Here’s Christmas greetings from Flippo & Neeca, featuring his song, “When Its Christmas Time in Texas”: https://youtu.be/mpJCUGffU3A

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? meme - Flippo's last dance

~Visit my website to find out about my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? and my other five books and three cookbooks: https://laradasbooks.com

Christmas · Dancing · Marshall Flippo · My Thoughts · square dance

Christmas Celebration Flippo-Style!

Marshall Flippo - Christmas Celebration

For his Christmas celebration, Marshall Flippo came home to Abilene, Texas, for one or two weeks each year to be with his family after a busy travel and calling schedule. In fact, Flippo sandwiched Christmas in between his tours. He went north and then east, south, west and then home for Christmas. After Christmas, he headed north again and then west.

Heading Home for His Christmas Celebration

Annually, Flip called in Memphis, Tennessee, before Christmas for their holiday dance. After that dance,

Flippo headed west toward home and the holidays, calling in Dallas. “It’s 180 miles down to Abilene, so I went home, spent Christmas. I was calling basically every night. I was usually home around one or two weeks. Then after Christmas back to tour again.”

Larada Horner-Miller, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo, (2020): 182.

Flippo’s Christmas Celebration in Sets in Order

Flippo enjoyed notoriety in Bob Osgood’s December issue of Sets in Order. Each year in the December issue, Bob went above and beyond by featuring many callers with a greeting in the footer on many pages. Dancers searched the holiday magazine to see a seasonal greeting from their favorite caller and spouse. This idea personalized that magazine.

From 1964 to 1985, Bob had a greeting from Flippo each year. He repeated other callers throughout the years, but Flippo was the constant for twenty-one years! See Flippo & Neeca’s holiday greetings and listen to Flippo’s Texas holiday song, “When Its Christmas Time in Texas”: https://buff.ly/2VhFtKk

Neeca’s Special Christmas Present

Neeca created a scrapbook for Flippo as a Christmas present one year, filling it with articles, pictures and memorabilia about his calling career. Afterwards, because of his amazing success as a caller, she filled two more. He cherished those scrapbooks, and they became the source of much of the information for his biography.

Finally,

Flippo cherished his time with Neeca and his son, John, so he prioritized his schedule so he was at home in Abilene every year to celebrate with their families there. Before and after Christmas, he traveled, but he wanted to be home for the holiday.  

What does your Christmas celebration look like? Do you prioritize your schedule to be home for Christmas?


Christmas Meme for Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better?

Visit my website to find out about my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? and my other five books and three cookbooks: https://laradasbooks.com

EXCITING NEWS HERE!

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

My Fifth Book: Flippo’s Veteran Story & More!

A young Marshall Flippo, the Sailor - fith book
Young Marshall Flippo, the Sailor

My fifth book was a book project that fell into my lap! How à propos—today being Veteran’s Day, and writing about Marshall Flippo’s biography who served in World War II.

How My Fifth Book Started

Marshall Flippo, an icon in the square dance world, was nearing ninety years old. In March 2017, a group of square dancers were sitting around after a dance weekend and Flippo’s name and age came up. One enthusiastic fan said, “Someone should write his biography.”

My husband, Lin, looked at me and said, “You’re the writer in the group. What do you think?” Nothing more was said, but the thought tumbled around in my mind. We prayerfully considered the possibility, and I decided to run it by Flippo.

In April, I called Flippo and proposed the project to him, and his swift response showed his quick wit. “Larada, no one would want to buy a book about me. But I do have a book you should write: a collection of stories of all the thangs that happen to traveling callers over the years. Wait a minute—that would be R-rated.” Another Flippoism!

At that point, he gave me no definite answer.

At the New Mexico Square Dance Festival, in May in Albuquerque, Marshall fulfilled his last calling contract in New Mexico because he was retiring. Early Friday night, while a group stood around him before the dance, Flippo brought up the topic.

“Larada wants to write a book about me.”

He continued with a humble air, “Who would want to buy that book?”

“I would,” said a longtime friend and caller, Greg Tillery.

“Me, too,” replied Jim Martel, another local caller.

“Put me on the list—I want a copy!” Ted Clements, a caller from southern New Mexico, chimed in. The chorus continued and everyone standing there raised their hands. Flippo turned to me and said, “Come over to my hotel room about 1:30 a.m. and we’ll talk about it.” The group laughed at his flirtatious nature, but he agreed to do it that weekend.

Later that year, I planned a trip to Tucson, Arizona, in October for the Women Writing the West conference. Lin and I met Flippo at the Texas Roadhouse there for dinner on Friday, October 27, 2017, to start our research. We planned to meet on Wednesday, October 25, but the Houston Astros were playing the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series. Flippo, an avid fan, wanted to watch the game, so we changed nights.

When we met, he immediately started with a saucy story. “Mama said, ‘If you play with it, it will fall off.’ Ninety years later, it still hasn’t.” I had to grab my notepad and start taking notes.

The waitress hadn’t taken our orders, and Lin started the questions. Flip immediately jumped into relaying his life with the exact addresses of the multiple homes he lived in Abilene, Texas, as a child. In fact, he had trouble with only one address. I still wonder why he forgot that specific address. But he had also picked a restaurant that had TVs 360 degrees around us, and he watched the World Series out of the corner of his eye.

After dinner, we moved from the restaurant to his home to finish the first interview. We muted the TV, and he watched the game over my head as he talked. One minute he’d be sharing his life stories, the next he’d catch me off guard with a comment on a batter, “Knock the hell out of it.” He amazed me how he could be telling a Navy story about a destroyer tender he was on, then comment on what a player on TV should have done. We took brief breaks when the game took its twists and turns. During one break, he lamented, “I can’t get my mind going again.” Lin and I both assured him that his memory was exceptional.

Within that short evening, he covered many of the major topics of his life: his childhood and family, his Navy experiences during World War II and afterwards, and he ended the night with how he met Neeca, his first wife. With the flair of a master storyteller, Flippo gestured his hands like when an umpire signals the runner is safe and said, “Let’s leave it.” We watched the rest of the baseball game together.

He sent me home with seven photo albums busting at the seams with memorabilia, precious stories, and the assurance that we had embarked on an adventure.

During the next year, we spent many hours together talking over the phone, and we had one more face-to-face opportunity to compile this document. As you can imagine, it was a delightful, fun adventure.

Flippo’s Naval Career

Flippo referenced his naval service several times during our interviews. As a patriotic seventeen-year-old lad from west Texas, his life changed forever the moment he volunteered. Because the war ended soon after he enlisted, his service time took a unique twist—he played baseball for DesPac. Destroyers of the Pacific baseball team took two guys off of all the destroyers who had baseball teams and formed a team. This tells me he was an exceptional baseball player.

So, you can see where his interest in the World Series came that night we talked in Tucson.

Flippo led a large life, calling square dances all over the United States and the world. I Said “Yes!” to the project of a lifetime I will never forget. Grab the book—hardback, paperback and/or one of the popular e-book formats—to see the full extent of his amazing life.

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

How about writing a biography, autobiography or memoir? What family stories need to be told? Leave your comments below. I’d be interested in your thoughts!

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? fifth book

Visit my website to find out about my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? and my other five books and three cookbooks: https://laradasbooks.com

Book Production · Books · Marshall Flippo · My Thoughts

Interviews—Do Them Successfully!

Women talking on the phone - interviews

“Interview someone.” Yesterday’s assignment for this challenge reminded me of an amazing series of interviews I did. I orchestrated forty hours of interviews from 2017 to 2018 for my fourth book and learned so much. In 2017, a writing project fell into my lap, the biography of the most famous square dance caller in the world, Marshall Flippo. He lived in Tucson, Arizona; I live close to Albuquerque, New Mexico. We did a face-to-face interview to start with in October 2017 in Tucson, then one more in March 2018. So, most of those interviews we did over the phone.

Larada & Marshall Flippo
Larada & Marshal Flippo

My Suggestions for successful interviews

  1. Be in a quiet space for the recordings. The second face-to-face interview we did in a restaurant with lots of background noise. Even though I did mosts interviews at home, several had interior background noise from my cat and my husband, but it was mostly undisturbed.
  2. Set a specific time and length of time. Think of the age of the talker and set the length accordingly. Flippo was 90 years old, so we did an hour each week.
  3. Have specific goals and questions prepared ahead of time, but let the person go where he wants. A friend warned me that Flippo might hijack the interview, and he did. But I wouldn’t have gotten those extra captivating stories.
  4. Record the interviews and back up regularly to multiple places. To record, I used an iPad app, VoiceRecorder, and left a copy on my iPad. Then I uploaded the file immediately after the interview to DropBox, an online storage space. I regularly made a backup of that folder on DropBox.
  5. Number and date each recording for later reference.
  6. Take handwritten notes. I filled four steno-pads and numbered the notebooks and dated them, following the numbering system of the recordings. I also noted each time where I was when recording.
  7. Ask questions about spelling and specifics immediately–don’t wait. Flippo passed away before I could get answers to all my questions, so I had to ask his son and ex-wife.
  8. Don’t stop the talker from sharing a memory multiple times because Flippo went deeper and added details each time he recalled it. The meat of the stories and memories is in the details. So when I wrote the book, I laced the details from the multiple renditions together.
  9. Listen to what the talker is saying and not saying. When asked, Flippo avoided his first divorce at first, and I knew this was a key part of his life and painful. When the time was right, his sharing was heartfelt and authentic.
  10. Limit your responses because the focus is on the person interviewed. After transcribing these interviews, I realized I laughed uproariously at Flippo’s stories, and my laughter blocked out his comments that followed. My laughter made some parts difficult to transcribe.
  11. Use a visual aid to stimulate memories, stories, and ideas. Flippo’s ex-wife, Neeca, put together three photo albums/scrapbooks of his calling career during their marriage, and we went through them page by page. He physically had the scrapbooks, and I had a digital copy. They sparked so many stories I don’t think I would have gotten otherwise; he had so many.
  12. Don’t comment–you may have an opinion about what is being said, but refrain from commenting. Your opinion doesn’t matter.
  13. After transcribing interviews, ask questions you have from unclear recordings or information you don’t understand. Flippo died before we finished, so I didn’t have the luxury of asking him. Again, his son and ex-wife helped me out tremendously.

Finally, I know that my advice about interviews is for a biography with multiple interviews. The meat of these suggestions still applies. Enjoy the experience and savor the time someone shared with you—it’s a privilege!

What advice would you give for having a successful interview? Add your comments below.

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better?

Visit my website to find out about my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? and my other five books and three cookbooks: https://laradasbooks.com

Book Promotion · Books · Marshall Flippo · My Thoughts

SWAG Strategies for Book Promotions

Money & books

I’m sure you’ve heard the term SWAG and loosely know what it means—cool stuff given away for free to promote something. People love free stuff, and it’s a great way to advertise your books and reward your current readers or future readers. So, SWAG works well with book promotions, but it must relate to your book somehow: the cover, characters in the book or the setting.

Here’s where the term SWAG originated:

The freebie swag, sometimes also spelled schwag, dates back to the 1960s and was used to describe promotional items. 

https://www.merriam-webster.com/words-at-play/what-does-swag-mean

When I first started my book business in 2014, I started with bookmarks for SWAG.

Bookmarks

A key SWAG item for authors is a bookmark, so I have created bookmarks for each book and given them away for free anywhere I can. I also include all of my bookmarks in any book order. I order them from overnightprints.com and have been happy with everyone. Most are two-sided which you pay extra for, but the newest one is only one-sided.

In 2020, I released the biography of the most famous square dance caller in the world, Marshall Flippo. I created a book pre-order system and had a monthly drawing for SWAG—items I purchased with his picture on them. Now that sounds expensive, but it wasn’t.

Inexpensive SWAG Sources:

I used two online photo companies:

I have bought from each of these fantastic companies regularly for several years, so the SWAG for Flippo’s book promotions cost me nothing but the shipping. Weekly I get advertisement from them, and often they offered several items for free—my cost, the shipping. So, I waited until one company offered the suitable items for free and ordered them. I stockpiled several for the Zoom Launch Party and gave them as door prizes.

Look at a sampling of some I bought:

SWAG Samples
Samples

I also made book bags, spiral notebooks, and coffee mugs. The most popular were the deck of cards and the coasters. In reality, the choices are limitless. If you do not receive emails from these companies, sign up for one or the other (or both if you create photo gifts). You’ll probably need to buy something to receive the emails with the free promotions.

Ultimately, the recipient of the SWAG connects it to your book and might encourage a sale or two. That’s its main purpose: advertisement for your book.

What do you do for SWAG? Share your ideas in the Comment section below.

Visit my website to find out about my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? and my other five books and three cookbooks: https://laradasbooks.com

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.)


Recent Blog Posts You Might Have Missed:

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? - International
Read, Reflect, and Respond on the beach!

My new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better?, is now available:

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


Recent Blog Posts You Might Have Missed:

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? CALLERLAB

My new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better?, is now available:

Join me at my Zoom Launch Party for my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? on September 22, 2021 at 7:00 pm. Go to my Facebook Event to RSVP, and I will send you the meeting info: https://www.facebook.com/events/596181948062057

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

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