So how did this book get started? In reality, I said, “Yes!” 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.
Lin has a different memory of how this happened, but I’ll stick with my version.
Then we prayerfully considered the possibility.
In April, I called Flippo and proposed the project to him, and his quick response was, “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 happens to traveling callers over the years. Wait a minute—that would be R rated.” Another Flippoism!
At that point, I had no definite decision from Flip.
At the New Mexico Square Dance Festival, May 2017 in Albuquerque, Marshall fulfilled his last calling contract in New Mexico. Early Friday night while a group stood around him, 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. He turned to me and said, “Come over to my 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.
Lin and I met Flippo at the Texas Roadhouse for dinner on Friday, October 27, 2017, in Tucson, Arizona to start our research. We were supposed to meet on Wednesday, October 25, 2017, but the Houston Astros were playing the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series, and Flippo 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 for the multiple homes he lived in Abilene as a child. In fact, he had trouble with only one address. I still wonder why he forgot that one address.
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 short 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, and he ended the night with how he met Neeca, his first wife. With the flair of a master storyteller, Flippo moved his hands like when an umpire signals the runner is safe and said, “Let’s leave it,” and we watched the rest of the Series 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.
It’s been three years in the making! Lots of hard work, research, emails and phone calls, but it’s coming together and will be out shortly, a true labor of love!
~Whitey & Gladys Puerling were playful friends of Flippo’s who created a Fan Club. I thought it would be fun to recreate this group. Would you like to join the Marshall Flippo Fan Club Facebook page? Read interesting posts about Flippo’s life. https://www.facebook.com/groups/328325644382769/
~I HAVE 211 PRE-ORDERS FOR THE MARSHALL FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY! You, too, can pre-order this amazing story? You can select which paper format or e-book format you would like. Go here to order the version you want. Monthly SWAG Giveaways! https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42
~Visit my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft for digital or paper copies of all my books: https://www.etsy.com/shop/LaradasReadingLoft