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
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.
- 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
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.
~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:
- Book Talk–June 3, 2022 –
- Live on Purpose Podcast–March 17, 2022 –
- Zbooks.com–January 19, 2022
- Apostrophes, A Writers Series with Double DD–January 10, 2022
- The On Purpose Podcast–January 10, 2022
~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
~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