Albuquerque · Dancing · My Thoughts · square dance

Looking Back—Hot August Nights 2022

Hot August Nights banner - looking back

Looking back a week later, I sigh with relief and marvel at the success of Hot August Nights 2022. We hadn’t had this event since 2019. This year, we required the vaccine to attend, so we wondered how many would support it.

Excited, we had eleven squares pre-registered but received emails from dancers telling us they were attending USAWest in San Diego instead of our event. So, in reality, we did not know.

The Recycle Shop Work Beforehand

The saga began the week before the event. Lin came up with a great idea—every time we drove to the dance hall for a club dance, bring a load of clothes from the storage unit for the Recycle Shop. See, our stash had grown over the two and half years we didn’t dance because we kept getting donations.

Duke City Singles and Doubles’ Spring Fling and our event share the clothes for the Recycle Shop, and they sold lots at the Spring Fling, but dancers kept donating since May. Then it took three vehicles to get the clothes to the storage unit near us in Tijeras, NM.

So, on each of the three—four trips, we swung by the storage unit, packed the Tahoe full and completed the last trip on the Thursday before Hot August Nights.

Looking Back at Our Busy Friday

At 9:00 am Friday morning, we started the arduous task of setting up the Recycle Shop with several helpful volunteers. Immediately, we realized we had to purge the over-abundant supply of clothes or we wouldn’t have enough room. We filled six boxes and put those boxes out Saturday morning, free for the taking.

We finished the Recycle Shop, did minimal decorations and enjoyed lunch at one of our favorite restaurants in the area, Millie’s. While we dealt with the Recycle Shop, Lin picked up Mike and Denise Hogan at the airport, so they joined us for lunch—I love these informal times where dancers really get acquainted. It was especially great to have Denise here with us!

Our event opened with a Welcome dance at 3:00 pm. Pre-rounds began at 7:00 pm for the evening dance with Mitchell and Chelsea Thompson. For many years, Friday night’s dance has been a Beach Party with beach balls and casual dress beach attire. This year, the balls flew across the dance floor and Mike and Mitchell had chosen beach music to dance to. What a fun-filled way to begin the weekend.

Looking Back at Saturday & Some Surprises

On Saturday morning, we focused on round dancing. The morning began with an introduction to rounds with the waltz rhythm at 9:00 am, and several couples enjoyed Mitchell’s easy way of teaching. Then at 10:30 am, Mitchell and Chelsea provided a Foxtrot clinic to help dancers move up from a level three dancer to four. Super-informative.

Several dancers began going through the boxes of free clothing. One dancer from Sierra Vista, Arizona, took several garbage bags home for their new dancer class. Such a better way of using the clothing instead of giving them to Goodwill.

Sadly, we canceled our tradition potluck luncheon because our committee member who headed that had to quit the committee. We organized all the round dancers to go to Jimmy’s Cafe, another favorite restaurant near the dance hall, and wanted to sit together, but the group was too big, so we had to split up.

On Saturday afternoon, we focused on square dancing. The afternoon started with Mike Hogan doing singing calls for one hour and we thoroughly enjoyed his gorgeous voice. Then he did a plus workshop for an hour and a half, focusing on calls he noticed we needed help on—thank God! Then he did thirty minutes of high energy and hot hash. He ended the hot hash portion with Lin’s favorite song, “Fisherman’s Luck,” and had the place rocking. We wondered about putting the high energy section at the end of the afternoon, but the dancers jumped in and enjoyed it completely.

Saturday evening began with an hour of pre-rounds with Mitchell and Chelsea—such a wonderful round dance cuer and a wife/partner who loves to dance and jumps in and dances with any single either part.

The evening continued with Mike Hogan and his exceptional calling and Mitchell cuing. A highlight of Saturday night with Mike Hogan always is his rendition of “Pink Cadillac”—this year was no different, but he added help. Mitchell joined him and the crowd went wild.

Looking Back at Sunday & Our Hilarious Shenanigans

On Sunday morning, Hot August Nights has a reputation to uphold with shenanigans galore and Mike added to it. He did progressive squares, Sicilian Circles, and Air Raid. The dancers jumped in and did Scatter Promenade on their own.

We had eleven squares both nights and felt this was a tremendous success after the two-year hiatus. The dance commitment overwhelmed us this year. In 2019, we had twenty-two squares and twenty couples preregistered for 2020 (which was canceled, so we rolled them over). This year with eleven squares, we had twenty couples preregistered, so we gave away two free Hot August Nights registrations and two free room nights at our host hotel. Our Hot August Nights dancers are the best!

Finally,

Looking back, the laughter, the smiles and the hugs from Hot August Nights marked it a success for me more than anything else. Dancers seemed so ready to be out and dancing again.

Have you been to a big dance event recently? How did it go? Did you laugh a lot? Smile? Give and get hugs?


~NEW ONLINE WEBINAR BY ME—Would you be interested in an online class about writing a life story, either yours or someone else’s? I’m planning on doing a webinar in September on this subject. Let me know if you’re interested at larada@icloud.com. Specific information next week.

~WATCH MY NEW INTERVIEW on Douglas Coleman’s show dated August 5, 2022.

~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
There’s still time to grab beach time with Flippo’s e-book!

~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? mem
Read, reflect and respond—and heal!

~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

My Thoughts · square dance

Exhausted!

Exhausted

Exhausted and ready for bed! Yes, I am! We just finished the 16th Annual Hot August Nights Square Dance Festival in Albuquerque, NM. Because of the pandemic, this was our first since 2019! I don’t know if it’s my age, being idle for a couple years and not chairing this event or what, but I felt overwhelmed by everything this time.

So, next week, I will give you a full report of the event and the stories. Thanks for being understanding and stay tuned!

Exhausted But Still Promoting

Even though I’m exhausted, here’s a plug for my One-Year Anniversary of the Release of Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? Zoom Party on Wednesday, August 24 at 7:30 PM MST. The pandemic affected us all differently—how did it affect you? If you’re interested, email me at Larada@icloud.com for the Zoom meeting information.

Finally

I’m exhausted yet so satisfied with the results of our event.


~NEW—Join me for my One-Year Anniversary of the Release of Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? Celebration on Zoom Wednesday, August 24, 2022 at 7:30 PM MST. Email me at larada@icloud.com for the Zoom meeting information.

~WATCH MY NEW INTERVIEW on Douglas Coleman’s show dated August 5, 2022.

~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

~Wish You Were Here: A Novelby 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

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

My Thoughts · square dance

Measure the Success of a New Festival

Gary Shoemake, Jerry Gilbreath & Ken Bower at April Showers Festival
Gary Shoemake, Jerry Gilbreath & Ken Bower at April Showers Festival

How do you measure the success of a festival? I just attended a new square and round dance festival in Albuquerque, New Mexico—April Showers, and I know beyond any doubt it was a success. Why?

My feet ache, my face hurts from laughing so much and my heart sings! All these signs indicated a smashing success. In a post-COVID world, numbers of dancers are smaller. Some people are still wary about coming out to dance. The Albuquerque Square Dance Center requires dancers to be vaccinated, so that kept some at home. But many came out to forget the worries of this world and dance!

We found out this morning during some story telling, Ken Bower, Gary Shoemake and Bob and Sally Nolen started their calling and cuing careers in Albuquerque in the early 70s at Summer Sounds, a successful square and round dance festival that continued for nearly twenty years and was the predecessors to Hot August Nights, a festival I help run that is still going today. So, Jerry and Mary Beth Gilbreath thought up the idea of a new festival and the other four agreed wholeheartedly; thus April Showers was born.

During the weeks before the event, I wondered if we’d get enough dancers to have it. The registrations trickled in, but I continued to promote it and other upcoming festivals on Facebook, hoping to stir up interest.

Finally, Friday came, and it was a go—our first festival in over two years. After showering, I blew my hair dry and put on my makeup, which has become quite a chore after not doing it for two years. I donned my beautiful square dance outfit, dressing in matching outfits to promote our next festival. I added matching pettipants and a fluffy slip that makes my dress stand out! Square dance outfits overflow with energy in their beauty, swirling with every movement.

The event began. When we arrived Friday night, I looked around the hall and choked up—I knew so many of the dancers from other events, especially Fun Valley RV Resort in Colorado and felt blessed to be back doing what I love—dancing.

Immediately, I noticed the high energy level—no sour faces, no negative words, just an amiable group celebrating life after two years of no festivals. Yes, the size of the crowd wasn’t as big as before the pandemic, but the dancers’ commitment to having a good time enlarged the size.

We danced Friday night away to our three favorite callers and two dear cuers. The evening was over before I knew it!

Here’s a video of dancing Friday night: https://youtu.be/OZ1MSbHDkgU

When Lin and I got home, we reviewed the night, laughing at the fun parts. I had trouble sleeping because of the heightened adrenaline level.

Saturday, we started again at 10:30 am although we missed the round dance workshop at 9:00 am. We live about twenty miles from Albuquerque and had to decide just how much of the weekend we could do, so we gave up the round dance workshop. We did the mainstream workshop and enjoyed the fun the callers did by workshopping some different moves.

For lunch, we joined two other couples and enjoyed the one-on-one conversation and exchange. I realized this is what we missed so much during the pandemic—the sharing of our lives and the laughter. These times over meals over the years have solidified relationships with so many friends from all over the country. After two years’ absence, I felt connected again.

Then we missed the Introduction to Round dancing but took part in the Plus workshop. Afterwards we drove home, enjoyed a brief nap and dressed and returned for the evening dance.

Again, I dressed in matching outfits to promote another square dance event coming up in Albuquerque. I had the surprise of my life when I walked in the dance hall and the cuer and his wife who taught me to round dance had come down to the hall for the evening with a square dance legend from years ago. What a joy to see these three precious friends from the past.

The Saturday night dance overflowed with laughter and energy again, yet more revved up than Friday night. Square dance dresses swirled around the floor. I saw so many smiles, so many people relaxed and enjoying themselves. Some square dance shenanigans happened like scatter promenades and one wild square where the original square was joined by many others walking through the square and joining in. I never laughed so hard. We ended the evening with ice cream sundaes and two-stepping to Jerry Gilbreath’s gorgeous renditions of some of my favorite country music standards.

As if that’s not enough, we returned this morning (Sunday) at 10:00 am for two more hours of dancing fun. Sunday mornings traditionally in Albuquerque are filled with a lot of insane scatter promenades and “Air Raids.” This morning continued the traditions.

So what is the measure of a successful festival? Does the number of squares determine it? We had seven to eight—small compared to pre-COVID standards. How about the smiles, the laughter, the total release from any cares or concerns? I measure the success by those things too, especially in today’s world.

Thank you Gary, Ken, Jerry, Bob and Sally for a successful first April Showers festival. I look forward to next year’s continuation of this wonderful tradition.

Finally, here’s a quote by Bell Hooks that caught my eye: “The choice to love is the choice to connect—to find ourselves in the other.” I felt so connected this weekend and that’s another measure of success!

How do you measure the success of a festival, pre-COVID? I’d be interested!


~NEW PODCAST to be released Thursday, March 17, 2022, discussing my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? : Live on Purpose Podcast at https://liveonpurposeradio.com/category/podcast/

~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 interviews about my new book & some Flippo stories:

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

~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

My Books · My Thoughts · square dance

Book Trailers—Flippo’s Life!

Flippo's young picture - trailers

Book Trailers—a promotional idea I enjoy! I created three book trailers of Flippo’s biography, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo. What a blast that was!

I formatted each trailer the same: I used one of his singing calls for audio background and highlighted many pictures gleaned from the three scrapbooks Neeca made for Flippo.

I focused on major areas of Flippo’s expansive life:

  1. His life
  2. Amazing skits
  3. His Motto & travels

As you can see, I tackled some fun ones.

So here they are for your viewing pleasure!

His Life Trailer

I start with him growing up a Texan, then the Texan becomes a sailor. After the Navy, Flippo came back to Abilene, and to the love of his life, Neeca. He started square dance calling after a few pitfalls. His hit song, “The Auctioneer,” skyrocketed his career. The music background is a clip of “The Auctioneer.”

His Amazing Skits Trailer

At a square dance weekend or during a square dance week, after the evening dance came a fun-filled event, the afterparty. At an afterparty, callers organized skits to entertain the dancers.

Anyone who saw Flippo in one of his amazing skits will never forget it. At Kirkwood with Melton Luttrell, Gary Shoemake and Frank Lane, the shy Flippo entertained everyone with his antics. Also at Asilomar, he teamed up with Frank Lane, and I’m sure many others. At Paris, Texas, he shared the stage with Ken Bower, Mike Bramlett and Justin Russell. The music background is “It Do Feel Good.”

His Motto & Travels Trailer

Flippo repeated his motto often to me, “I was at the right place at the right time.” This attitude sent him traveling around the United States and the world. After traveling during his Navy career, Flippo loved to travel as a square dance caller and the dance world loved him. His extensive tour plan took him all over the United States for six months of the year. Then he added world travel when he could. Flippo traveled to Spain, Morocco, Majorca, England and Germany. He returned to Japan where he continued his love affair started with his Navy career at the end of World War II. The music background is “Sing, Sing a Song.”

Trailers summarize a book’s message and speak to the visual majority of people in the world today. In book marketing today, trailers lead the list of promotional ideas. The message of Flippo’s book was so large I had to do three! And I could probably do more.

Finally,

Do you enjoy book trailers? Make sure you liked my trailers on my YouTube channel.


~Valentine’s Day Special at my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft. 40% off of “This Tumbleweed Landed” paperback until February 16, 2022.

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

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? meme

~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!

Friends · My Thoughts · square dance · Travel

Part 2: Two Special Friends Continued!

Kathi twirling - Part 2
Kathi Twirling

Part 2 of my series on two special friends continues today. I met Kathi Raver at Duke City Singles square dance club in 1997, excited to have a younger woman to relate to—she was a teacher, too! She immediately jumped in and took part in the club’s leadership.

Kathi stood nearly six-foot-tall and I’m 5 feet 3 inches, so we were like Mutt and Jeff for sure, but we loved to dress alike with our square dance clothes. When she died, we had about thirteen outfits alike.

One year to promote the Fling, we went to TASSD (Texas Area Single Square Dancers) in Amarillo, Texas—Art Tangen, our club caller, was calling. So, we decorated our petty pants on our backside with, “I (a heart) Art!” Then we mooned him when he was calling, showing him our petti pants and our support. Someone took a picture of Kathi’s bottom, and they featured her on the TASSD newsletter the next month.

I had been the chairperson for the New Mexico Singles Fling for several years, and she became my co-chair, then chaired it for several years. I stayed onboard the committee then and did the publicity for her. We had so much fun on that committee, producing major successful event, one right after the other.

For years, we did an outfit check before a dance weekend to see what we would wear each night. Kathi made several of my square dance outfits when she was chairing the Fling. She always felt that it helped me out because she liked to sew and I did the computer stuff for us for the Fling.

In 2000, she and two other women square dancers from Albuquerque went to Oklahoma City for Dance-A-Rama, the national single square dance festival. They came home and convinced me to chair the Dance-A-Rama in Albuquerque in 2003.

To promote Dance-A-Rama, 2003, the committee traveled to Richmond, Virginia, Norfolk, Nebraska and Dallas, Texas. Those travel trips top the list of my memories with Kathi. We had a blast doing it, and again, we had a major success. After DAR, 03, we promised each other we would go into the same nursing home and remember DAR, 03 and all of our fun antics over the years.

During this time, Kathi’s melanoma came back with a vengeance after being in remission for twenty years. It broke my heart to watch my spirited, fun-loving friend slow down as she dealt with this horrible disease. She continued working and daily gave herself shots as needed.

In 2004, Kathi met Lin Miller, and immediately they connected. In 2005, I treasure the memory of being present at Festigal, an annual square dance festival in Gallup, New Mexico where they met, when Lin asked her to marry him. Her face said absolute shock.

We hung out together with my ex-husband. We danced all over the Southwest together. When we were home, we danced at Duke City Singles on Friday night, then afterwards played cards until the wee hours of the morning.

Kathi’s the one responsible for my red hair. At a dance in Norfolk, Nebraska, in 2007, we went out to have breakfast. She saw a woman standing in line in front of us. Casually, she whispered in my ear, “Go ask her what color she uses. You’d look great with red hair.”

So, I did. The women chuckled, “Hot Tamale.” I came home and colored it and loved it. I returned to my natural color after a year, but in 2013 I went back to “Hot Tamale” and have had it red ever since. Every time I color it, I think of her.

During the years, we traveled together a lot. In 2008, we went to Branson, Missouri with two other couples. We cried at the Roy Rogers Museum during the show with Roy’s grandson.

In 2008, my ex and I broke up, and Kathi and Lin took me under their wing. Kathi went house hunting with me and her sister-in-law was a realtor. She would tell her sister-in-law, “Larada can’t afford this place.”

When I moved into my new townhouse, Kathi helped me find it. After getting instructions from her brother on how to do it, she hooked up my gas dryer. She climbed behind the dryer with barely enough room to get around in. She did it to save me $85.

In thinking about relationships, Kathi had a brisk attitude about them: give your mourning time of six months, then get on with life. She had a hard time watching me deal with my recent divorce—she wanted me to move on.

Her cancer came back with a vengeance again, and she kept beating it, but she couldn’t for the last time. Her powerful spirit still shown through, though. When the ambulance drove her to the hospice in Albuquerque, they went to the wrong hospital, and she had to direct them to the right one! Leave it to Kathi.

Kathi died on November 25, 2009, eleven years ago today. I felt privileged to be by her side when she died. My heart felt shattered as I stood by her bed and witnessed her last breath after our fourteen years relationship. What a privilege to be there!

Her spirit lives on around me today—because Lin, her husband, and I ended up together and married. We live in her house she built. Some might be uneasy about this. I have never had an issue because I remembered her strong directive when my ex and I broke up—take six months and get on with life.

Lin and I had a very interesting confirmation about our relationship from a mutual friend of ours and Kathi after she died. We’re all on the committee of an annual dance, Hot August Nights. Kathi and this friend were talking in the kitchen. Kathi had been battling her last round of cancer. She watched me on the dance and told our friend, “I hope Lin and Larada get together if something happens to me. They would make each other happy.” That was August; she died in November!

So every day I get to thank Kathi for so much! The memories, the fun, the craziness an her beautiful house! And she gave me Lin!

Part 2 features Kathi; Part 1 featured Candy. I’m so fortunate to have had two friends like these two women, and I carry them with me each day.

Here’s the Gratitude Log again if you need it. I shared a couple days ago.

Do you ever buy clothes alike? Have you ever been present with a friend dying? What did you take away from it?


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

Check out Cyber Week Specials at my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft, on select books! 40% off of select Individual books, 40% off of select bundles and 50% off of digital copies! These books make the perfect gift for your friends and family.

Dancing · family · My Thoughts · square dance

“Born Dancing”: More Poems

Dancing at Texas Stampede, Dallas, Texas
Dancing at Texas Stampede, Dallas, Texas
“Born dancing” describes me to the hilt! So, I wanted to share two poems which detail my birth and my love of square dancing. Here I reveal more of myself to you, my passion!

“She Was Born Dancing!”

On June 26, 1953, my folks left

their thirteen-month-old son with Millie,

the family babysitter,

to go to a square dance in Trinidad,

fifty miles away.

Mom danced one tip that night—

She was nine months pregnant

with me.

They left the dance early

feeling something was about to happen.

Early the next morning

Mom had labor pains

that made her stagger across the floor.

It was time!

The fifty-mile trip back to Trinidad

and the hospital

was made in record time.

At 10:30 a.m. I was born.

Dad went downtown to buy cigars

and ran into a fellow dancer

from the previous night.

Dad announced his good news—

a new baby girl!

Remembering Mom at the dance

the night before,

the only comment the stunned friend

had to make was,

“She was born dancing!”

Larada Horner-Miller, This Tumbleweed Landed, (2014): 9.


As an adult, I returned to square dancing in 1994 after an almost twenty-year lapse in dancing. This poem relates why I love to square dance.

Larada in Dance-A-Rama 2003 outfit. Born Dancing

Why We Square Dance—

Why I Dance

May 31, 2015

It’s a Friday night

            Or

                        A Saturday night

A dance night!

The week lasted for eons

            grueling

I had my work face on for five days

            and I kept going.

I finished this week

            Exhausted!

My family needs drained me

I am wilted,

            ready to dissolve into bed!

But it’s my dance night.

            I breathe deeply,

                        I know!

I select my square dance outfit.

            What do I feel like tonight?

                        Red or turquoise

                                    Southwest design or frilly lace?

The familiarity of my weekly routine

            takes over

Systematically, I put on my outfit

            As each layer goes on,

                                    my perspective and energy level changes!

First my hose

            With a deep breath, I release part of my stress

Then my pettipants

                        Oh my, it’s going—another deep breath

            my top and skirt

                        My goodness—a glimmer of hope

            my belt

                        A smile slowly crosses my lips

Next my matching petticoat and shoes

            Yes, I sigh with relief

Finally, my club badge

            To identify who I am—

            A square dancer!

A spray to finish my hair

            a touch of lip gloss

A final look in the mirror

A pirouette and a spin

            crinoline flowing

                        I am complete!

My exhaustion replaced with anticipation!

The drive to the dance hall

            becomes a time tunnel

                        a vacuum

                                    a timeless space

                                                void of the demands of this world

                                                            stress free

                                                                        relaxing

Either soft music in the background

            or

                        a compatible silence

            or

                        a casual conversation

A bridge between the world out there

            with its demands

and the dance world

            with its pleasures!

Friends greet me as I enter the dance hall—my dance family

The music starts

I step onto the dance floor

            and I am free!

                        The carefree child within me

                                    spins round and around

                                                claps her hands

                                                            and

                                                                        Shouts for joy!

                                                                        I am free!

                                                                                    The tip starts,

                                                                        and I am safe

                                                                        to spend two hours

                                                                                    In sheer joy and ecstasy!

I drop the world’s cares and concerns,

            at the door,

                        kicking them out of view!

So if you have problems in your world, join me

            and

                        leave them at the door!

If you are angry or sad

            The magic begins

                        when you show up

                                    and

                                                dress up!

            The music starts

                        and

                        I step onto the dance floor!

And then the real magic takes over!

Cares melt down my shoulders

            and flitter away on a breath

                        giving a lightness to my step

Sorrows cluster together

            and ride away on an angel’s wings.

Music playing

            I am surrounded by dear friends

I step onto the dance floor

            It is a safe place

                        and

                                    I am free!

That’s why I dance!


Born dancing has been my motto for life—many types of dancing but especially square dancing. It truly is my passion.

What is your birth story? What is your passion? Share your comments below.

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? mem

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