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

Holidays · My Thoughts · Patriotism

A Country Girl’s American Dream

American Flag - Dream

“The American dream is not that every man must be level with every other man. The American dream is that every man must be free to become whatever God intends he should become.”

Ronald Reagan

AMERICA’S ORIGINS

Happy Independence Day! America offered me the dream. Looking back over my life, I have realized some of my dreams, but not all. I became a published author, so I am one of the fortunate ones. Not everyone sees their dreams come true. But I always wanted children, and that never happened.

First, we need to see where this festival day originated and see how I saw my dream come to fruition.

“On July 2nd, 1776, the Continental Congress voted in favor of independence, and two days later delegates from the 13 colonies adopted the Declaration of Independence, a historic document drafted by Thomas Jefferson. From 1776 to the present day, July 4th has been celebrated as the birth of American independence, with festivities ranging from fireworks, parades and concerts to more casual family gatherings and barbecues.”

https://www.history.com/topics/holidays/july-4th

MY DREAM

Celebrating the 4th of July - American dream
Me celebrating a few years ago

            I am a country girl who graduated in a class of four from a small rural school. My parents never asked about me going to college—I was going. Neither of them had college degrees and wanted a better life for me. Also, they demanded I go to Trinidad State Junior College for the first two years, so I became a beautician.

I thoroughly enjoyed that career for fourteen years. At first, it uprooted me from the country life and I moved to Denver, Colorado to face life in a large metro area. After divorcing, I became a middle school English and Spanish teacher, the first person in my family to receive a four-year college degree. Then I persisted and earned a master’s degree. I enjoyed that profession for twenty-seven years—my students, team-teaching and my creative projects, yet my writing called.

I enjoyed my two careers, but my dream came true in retirement when I published my first book. Publishing that first book took thirty years. While teaching, I wrote it and put it away. My busy teaching life left little room for writing. Also, I traveled and danced a lot, so my book took a back seat.

            After retirement, I dusted it off and published it and felt like I had finally found myself. Five more books and three cookbooks followed, and each one satisfied a deep need I had to share my voice with the world.

UNREALIZED DREAM

            My parents and culture raised me to marry and have 2.7 children, but having children never happened. My students fulfilled that need for many years, and I’ve come to terms with it. I accepted it and moved on.

American Dream

YOUR DREAMS

           Never let your dreams die. I was sixty years old before I published my first book. What are your dreams?


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

~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/

My Thoughts · Patriotism · poetry · Politics

Did Democracy Win? Hell, yes!

I heart the American Flag Democracy Won!
Photo by Edgar Colomba from Pexels

I cherish and respect our long-held democracy in the United States of America, but then on January 6, 2021, my heart dropped as I watched domestic terrorists breach our Capitol. I’ve spent the last couple weeks mulling over the the bizarre start to 2021. Insurrection has become an often-repeated word. Really? Pertaining to the United States of America? Oh, my God! For other countries, other angry people, yes, but here? I thought we were immune to this sort of rebellion.

So, I turned to poetry to process my feelings.

Words-Democracy Won!
Photo by Edgar Colomba from Pexels

Insurrection, Not a Part of My Vocabulary

January 11, 2021

Definition, “an act or instance of revolting against civil authority or an established government.” https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/insurrection

The word, insurrection

            Has never been

                        A daily word in

                                    My vocabulary.

Never

Until January 6, 2021

            Invoked its repetition

                        Over and over

                                    Again.

I witnessed

The invasion of our Capitol

            By a blood thirsty mob.

Shocked

Spellbound

Disgusted

Violence

            Planned

                        To take over

                                    Our Capitol,

                        To take hostage

                                    Certain congressmen and women

                                    Our vice president

                        To execute them!

Gallows with a noose constructed

            Within view of the Capitol.

                       

Elected officials heard

            Their names screamed

                        As they feared

                                    For their lives!

For months,

            I’ve heard rumblings

                        Of a Civil War

                                    From conservative and liberal

                                                Friends

                                                            And family.

I knew they were planning something.

            Facebook knew.

            Twitter knew.

Why didn’t the government know?

            A question that needs answered.

Insurrection in the USA!

            I’m 67 years old,

                        Never before

                                    In my lifetime.

An anger that has raged

            For years

                        Spun

                                    Out of control

                                                In

                                                            that insurrection.

What’s coming?

            On January 20, 2021

                        Inauguration Day

                                    Threats of massive protests

                                                All over the country.

The Civil War could be here!

            What do I do?


The two weeks before the Inauguration I wondered. I checked news’ source repeatedly. The FBI actively arrested the leaders of the insurrection which totally changed the atmosphere at the Inauguration.

The military presence of 25,000 National Guardsmen in Washington, D. C. sent a strong message to the disruptors—we will not let it happen again!

Here’s my poem after the Inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris:

Insurrection or Democracy? Who Won?

January 22, 2021

On January 6, 2021

            Insurrection raised its

Bloody head

            Stood armed

                        And

                                    Dangerous.

Fear constricted my throat.

            A breached Capitol

                        Desecrated with

                                    Angry urine

                                    A Confederate flag

                                    Unfulfilled dreams

                                    The threats of death

                                                And

                                                            Execution

                                                                        Of

                                                                                    Legislators

                                                                                    Our vice president.

Did democracy win? Hell, yes!

Our legislators counted the votes!

Insurrection did not stand in the way!

Two weeks we waited

            As a country,

                        Holding our collective breaths

                        Multiple arrests

                                    Family members turning in protesters

                        More video of the vile carnage.

Rumors abounded—

            More violence

                        More threats

                                    For January 20, 2021

                                                Inauguration day.

Democracy Won!
Photo by Jill Wellington from Pexels

But democracy won!

            A civil exchange of leadership

            A warm presidential speech

                        Overflowing with calm,

                                    A call to unity.

Musical interludes

Patriotic celebrations

Then my heart exploded!

Amanda Gorman - Democracy Won!
Amanda Gorman

Amanda Gorman spoke,

            The young black poet

                        Crowned her black braids

                                    With festive red ribbon.

My poet’s heart soared.

            Her words captured

                        unquestionably

                                    A much-needed positivity.

            Her presentation,

                        Clear and precise!

Don’t let your political party affiliation

            Stop you! Listen to her words!

They expressed

            A positive spin

                        Of our wounded nation

                                    “The Hill We Climb”

                                                with multiple alliterations

                                                            and strong imagery.

Amanda’s words

Healed my heart

            Healed my fear.

I pray deeply, “If only we’re brave enough to be it.”

            The light

Did democracy win? Hell, yes!

As an English teacher, I printed Amanda’s poem and marked it up, circling the numerous alliterations and images. The repeated sounds created a poetic rhythm that soothed my soul. She made two references to the award-winning play, Hamilton, in her poem. https://bookstr.com/article/amanda-gorman-references-hamilton-in-the-hill-we-climb/

Poetry, above any other genre, needs to be heard, and there’s a magic if it’s in the poet’s voice. Reading it is good, but hearing it is so much better. Be sure and listen to Amanda’s presentation of her poem, “The Hill We Climb.”

If you’d like a copy of Amanda’s poem, download here:

As we move forward in 2021, insurrection no longer needs to be spoken or thought about. I choose to focus on peace and the spirit of Amanda’s intriguing poem.

How about you?


Flippo's Book Cover with Book Excellence Awards Review

~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

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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/

My Thoughts · Patriotism

Where Were You on September 11, 2001?

September 11, 2001—This day is etched in my memory forever—the horror of being an eyewitness to this tragedy! Our world has never been the same since. Three thousand lives lost! Many injured and maimed. Families torn apart. Fear injected into the hearts of all Americans across our country on that day. Air travel interrupted with people strained helter-skelter.

            My Mom had just flown to my brother and his wife’s a couple weeks early to take part in preparing for my nephew’s wedding on September 22.

            My ex-husband lay in bed watching the morning news on the TV. I could also see the TV from an adjacent bathroom as I prepared for work, putting on my makeover and blowing my hair dry.

            We both rushed nearer the TV as we saw the replay of the first plane crash into one tower of the World Trade Center. Trying to grapple with what we had just seen, the second plane crashed into the second tower, and we fell limp on the bed, trying to take this all in.

World Trade Center before September 11, 2001
World Trade Center Before Attack

            I raced to finish dressing and went to work. When I got to school and settled in my room, I turned on the TV to see that both towers had collapsed. Children streamed into my room silent, unusual for lively six graders. Shock permeated the room.

            Military helicopters flew around Albuquerque, concerned about more attacks across the country because by now, we had learned another plane had cracked in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and the terrorists had flown another plane into the Pentagon.

            I taught no classes that day. The TV and the news became the focal point in my classroom. Later administration admonished us for letting the students watch such horror. I had faced nothing like that before. I wanted to keep up with the news of the day, and so did my students. No one cared about learning.

            Several of my students had parents at Kirtland Air Force Base and feared for their parents’ lives. Cell phones rang, and I ignored the no cellphone policy, knowing parents needed to connect with their children.

            The horror of that long day drug on—anticipation of the unknown. The United States had never faced a terrorist attack like this. Finally, school ended, and I sped home.

            During the 6:00 PM news, Peter Jennings gave an emotional report and ended with, “Connect with your family, near and far, right now!” So, I called my brother and talked to him and Mom. Her voice cracked but as we talked, she reassured me she was safe, but I shuddered at the thought: what if she had traveled a couple days later to California? She could have been stranded somewhere alone amid this craziness, scared to death, instead of secure with my brother.

            On this September 11, nineteen years have passed, yet the memory and the trauma linger. Children have grown up without a parent. That fateful day splintered families. Those of us who watched the planes crash into the towers, then saw the towers collapse and people running for their lives will never be the same. I live thousands of miles from New York City, but I felt like I was there. Time eases the pain, but the memory still lingers.

            I shudder and sob today for our loss! I hope you do, too!

Here are some resources:

September 11 attacks

Kirtland Air Force Base

Where were you on that fateful day?