Albuquerque · My Thoughts · square dance

Yes, I Always Think I Can—How About You?

When you’re asked to volunteer to do something, what’s your first response: I can or I can’t? If I can’t do the big thing someone asked me, can I contribute in a small way? Or is my answer immediately, “I can’t.” It’s all in the attitude.

I just finished a weekend square and round dance festival, Duke City Singles and Doubles’ Spring Fling, and yes, I’m exhausted, but in a good way. I’ve been the chairperson of this event since 2013, was the chair from 1997 to 2000, and I have taken part on the committee for 24 years. Why?

Today when I looked around at the sheer joy on happy dancers’ faces as they twirled and spun around the dance floor, all my hard work was worth it! The rewards resounded. That’s why I volunteer!

In 1994, I attended my first Fling (that’s what we called it then) as a dancer only and caught the square dance fever. In 1995, the chairperson asked me to help on advertising, and I failed miserably because I didn’t know what I was doing. But that was a learning experience—ask questions when you don’t know!

In 1996, our club took over this festival, and I agreed to be the co-chairperson, again not knowing what I was doing. The next year I moved up to be the chairperson! People believed I could do the job, and their belief confirmed I could. I had no idea what I was doing but someone needed to step up, and I said, “Yes, I can!” The previous chairperson had put together a manual for running a festival, so I followed that for many years until I got my system in place.

 My involvement with this has gone on and on. Why continue doing it or why do it at all, you may ask. Volunteering has been core to my life for the last 25 years. I don’t hesitate; I jump in and worry about the specifics later.

I have volunteered for other activities besides square dancing, and I love the connections I’ve made with people over the years and the rewards from those activities.

My square dance outfit for the National Singles Square Dance Convention in Albuquerque, 2003

After being involved in this festival for years, three square dance girlfriends asked if I would chair the National Singles Square Dance Festival for Singles in Albuquerque in 2003. They said they would help if I headed it. They had worked with me on our local festival and liked the results. Again, I didn’t flinch, and again I had no experience at chairing a national event, so I took my time-tested knowledge from our smaller event and applied it, and we had a smashing success.

So why volunteer? Someone has to do the work—the event won’t happen without you, without me! Is it time consuming? Yes! Will you have to work with disagreeable people? Probably! But what else in life offers deep connections with people which we all crave?

I have a wealth of wonderful memories that became a byproduct of volunteering. Several women dancers sat around a table and hand painted our square dance outfits one year. We laughed and shared our lives as we painted. Our hostess dropped her paintbrush on her vest and remarked, “That’s a bird,” and it worked out fine. Today when I wear that outfit, my heart glows with those moments.

My friend, Kathi, and I stayed up until 3:30 AM one Saturday because one of our talkative club members distracted the band who was trying to put up their instruments and equipment and get home at one of the Flings. We watched this talker and tried to get him away from the band but back he went repeatedly! Whenever we recalled this, we joked about who would sit on him next year so we could get home earlier, but what a memory!

At this talkative friend’s funeral, I shared this story with his family with a laugh and a lot of love in my heart. 

I sprayed a caller in the face with Silly String at our National Square Dance Convention for singles which started a war of Silly String the whole weekend. I ended up being the biggest target. What rich memories!

Because of my involvement in this national organization, I have dear friends all over the USA—because I volunteered years ago at our local event. See what happens? The opportunities grew and grew from volunteering, and I became self-assured about my talents in organizing an event like this.

I’m tired tonight. Each year when the Spring Fling is over for another year, I look into the faces of the committee members and my co-chair and marvel at their commitment, their willingness to take part and am so deeply touched. The success unites us together as a force, and immediately the thought moves to next year’s events and what we needed to do.

Believe me, the rewarding answer when someone asks you to volunteer is “Yes, I can,” and you will never know where it will take you!

Do you volunteer? If so, where? What have been your rewards?


Check out my NEW and IMPROVED web site at https://www.laradasbooks.com

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Would you like to join the Marshall Flippo Fan Club Facebook page? Interesting posts about Flippo’s life.https://www.facebook.com/groups/328325644382769/

Do you want to pre-order the Marshall Flippo biography? Go here to order the version you want. Monthly SWAG Giveaways! https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42

Marshall Flippo · My Thoughts · square dance · Writing

What To Do With 258,490 Words?

           Thousands of words! Forty hours plus of interviews! I have a dilemma! I’m realizing I have to make some decisions quickly on the Marshall Flippo biography. I have 258,490 words from the forty hours plus of interviews. I will edit the interviews as I create the chapters and shrink the word count considerably, but. . .

In the first six sections, I have edited it down to 42,000 words, so I know the final version will be much less than almost 260,000 words. If I stay at that number, the book would be 650 pages which is too way long.

As I thought about a possible tool to help me get organized, I created a database and divided the book into sections:

  1. Front Matter
  2. Childhood
  3. Navy
  4. After the Navy
  5. Abilene
  6. Kirkwood
  7. Tours & Festivals
  8. CALLERLAB
  9. Divorced
  10. Tucson Years
  11. End of Career
  12. Flippo’s Stories about Callers
  13. Stories About Flippo
  14. Letters & Notes
  15. Awards
  16. Photographs
  17. Recordings
  18. Epilogue
  19. Appendix A – Chronology of Flippo’s Life
  20. Appendix B – References
  21. Appendix C – Glossary

In this database, I also did a word count and realize now the largest section is “Flippo’s Stories About Callers” at 72,924 words, Yes, it is rough interview material that hasn’t been edited yet, but it’s the biggest section, and it’s not about him.

Flippo shared stories about many of these callers!

He told hilarious stories about 86 different caller friends because they played key roles in his calling career, and he wanted to share his favorite stories. As I have put together the first six sections of Flippo’s biography, I can see the importance of people in his life, so it’s understandable that he spent so much time in our interviews talking about his caller friends.

Early on in the interviews, Flippo listed 67 callers he had known or called with over the many years of his calling career. We used that list as the guide to all his stories and added to it. When we returned to the list for the stories, some names from this list we crossed off because he couldn’t think of a “funny” story—that ended up being the criteria for including someone. He had to have a funny story about that person.

        Flippo really wanted these stories included in his biography. He asked if we could have a section in the book named, “Callers I Have Known or Have Worked With.” He described the chapter as, “We’ll start out with each caller. I’ll have something about each one. It would make a pretty good chapter, I think. Different stories. I’ll try to tell a funny story with each caller. Let’s do that then. That whole section will be about callers.”

         What he didn’t realize was all the stories he told would total up to be over 70,000 words. I was shocked myself when I realized the length of this section.

What should I do?

        Therefore, I have a hard decision to make: have Flippo’s biography be super-lengthy, and he was emphatic about the size of his book, “It couldn’t be as thick as Bob Osgood’s book, As I Saw It.” Or. . . So, what do I do?

        My husband, Lin, came up with a possible solution: write two books—his biography which would be longer and then a shorter book of his stories about callers. Lin laughed, “His biography will be fun, but the stories about the callers will be funny!”

         I could keep a few of the stories in his biography to honor Flippo’s wishes of having stories about his caller friends in his biography, especially the ones about the callers who helped him in his early career.

        As I have gone through Flippo’s interviews and told his story in the early sections, he wanted to tell stories about his Navy friends, the callers he knew, the employees at Kirkwood and the owners of Kirkwood. These stories were a part of his DNA, but I have to make sure that his biography is about him! So, this is a balancing act.

         I’ll keep you posted on my final decision. What do you think I should do? I need your suggestions!

Check out my NEW and IMPROVED web site at https://www.laradasbooks.com

MOTHER’S DAY SPECIAL: 25% off of A Time to Grow Up: A Daughter’s Grief Memois — digital & paper copies. Visit my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft, to purchase my books.

Would you like to join the Marshall Flippo Fan Club Facebook page? Interesting posts about Flippo’s life.https://www.facebook.com/groups/328325644382769/

Do you want to pre-order the Marshall Flippo biography? Go here to order the version you want. Monthly SWAG Giveaways! https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42

Dancing · Marshall Flippo · square dance

Marshall Flippo’s Career Started in a Chicken Coop

Marshall and Neeca Flippo

            We have Neeca, Marshall’s first wife, to thank for getting him into square dancing! After arriving late to their first lesson, they decided not to go in but returned the next week to learn in ten lessons the basics of square dancing from renowned caller, Betty Casey.

Excerpt from Just Another Square Dance Caller, Biography of Marshall Flippo

         When asked about how and why Flippo started calling he said, “I thought maybe I can do this. In time, I loved to sing but to whistle? I was out of lessons about a year before I ever started. The square dance club downtown, and thar was two of them, and they were both full. You had to go on a waiting list. They both had waiting lists for people to get in. So, we put our names in for that one. They could only dance 25 squares.  The list wasn’t that long, probably 10 – 12 couples. But Ed Hall, who was in our class and I knew him, lived out at Wylie. And Wylie, Texas is where I went to school from the fourth grade on until I joined the Navy in my Senior year.”

         Ed said, “I have an ole chicken coop that would probably dance three squares.” Flippo continued, “He had a farm out thar at Wylie.” Flippo located Wylie, “5 miles south of Abilene (now in the Abilene city limits).”

            So, Ed said, “I’ll clean that thang out if ya’ll wanna come out thar, but I can’t take more than twelve couples.”

Flippo explained, “So twelve couples of us signed up to go out thar, and we danced out thar every Friday night. So, we were dancing to records, and thar weren’t many out at that time that were good to dance to. Joe Lewis had the best ones. Joe played an accordion, and he had it fixed up where he could put different musical instruments in it, or he could play a guitar. He had about three or four instruments that he could play out of his accordion. He lived in Dallas, Texas. And Les Gotcher had some that were really hard. He was a hash caller from California and toured the whole country—probably the tops in his time.”

            Flippo added more about square dancing at the time, “Jonesy had some, but thar was no way we could dance them. Come to find out, Jonesy played in a band in LA. He picked up the lingo and said I believe I can do this, so he just got up and called a whole bunch of stuff he didn’t even know what worked into what. He just knew the words he’d heard callers use. He put them on Capitol Records. Well, thar was no way we could do those. And later on, he learned to square dance and then to call and then became a very good caller.”

            Flippo added, “We danced to records for quite a while, and then we’d have a band come in. Most of the Fridays we danced out thar with him to a two-piece band. If you said, ‘Record! We’re going to have a record dance,’ nobody’d come. People liked live music. So, we’d have a two-piece band and the fiddle player.”

Flippo continued, “When we couldn’t get them, we’d use those ole records that had calls on them like Jonesy, Joe Lewis or Les Gotcher. I can’t think of anybody else at that time. Thar were very few people recording at that time.”

            And one night someone said, “Thar’s twelve of us here. Why don’t we all learn to call? And we won’t have to have a record or a band, so we’ll just be our own caller.” Flippo explained, “So that’s the way it kinda started. I remember the first one I started. Singing calls didn’t appeal to me too much at that time, so I learned patter. First one I learned was ‘Dip and dive.’  Let me think a minute. So, we all did some kind of little calls. Some guys were good. I wasn’t one of the good ones.”

            Neeca remarked, “You can’t stay on beat. What’s wrong with you? Can you pat your foot to the music?”

Flippo Started with a Califone

           Flippo said, “Yeah.” He added, “So I had a big ole ‘Turkey in the Straw’ record, and I’d get in the front bedroom of our house ‘cause we had no furniture in thar, and I had a little ole record player. I believe it was a Califone. So, I’d get in thar.

Neeca’d come in and she’d say, ‘Flip, you’re not on the beat. I know good and well you can pat your foot to the music.’”

            He’d say, “Yeah.”

            She’d answered, ‘Well, start patting that foot to the music. Don’t do anythang—just keep patting it. When it hits the floor, you say ‘Bow to your partner, corners all,’ and just stay on the beat.”

            Flippo remembered, “Well, I had a hell of a time with that. So, we danced out thar a long while. Then we got taken in by one of those clubs in Abilene. I believe that was the Abilene Crosstrails. Somebody set it up. At the time, all the clubs—thar wasn’t one caller calling a dance. If you were thar and wanted to call, you could call, so it was multiple callers all the time.”

            Flippo provided a glance into what square dancing looked like in the 50’s. After he became a national caller, he met Joe Lewis and has stories about him. He had a picture at the WASCA festival in the DC area with Les Gotcher. In his intervies, he shared his historical perspective of square dancing and a variety of callers.

Flip started small, but one “lucky event” turned this small-town caller into a national hit. I’ll share this turning point with you next month.

Check out my NEW and IMPROVED web site at https://www.laradasbooks.com

25% off of When Will Papa Get Home? — digital & paper copies. Visit my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft, to purchase my books.

Would you like to join the Marshall Flippo Fan Club Facebook page? Interesting posts about Flippo’s life.https://www.facebook.com/groups/328325644382769/

Do you want to pre-order the Marshall Flippo biography? Go here to order the version you want. Monthly SWAG Giveaways! https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42

My Thoughts · square dance · Travel

What Happened at Hummingbird Hoedown This Year?

This Year’s Flyer

I created a schedule for my blog posts back in late November for 2019, and this Sunday’s topic is Hummingbird Hoedown, an annual square and round dance festival in Sierra Vista, Arizona with caller, Jerry Story. We weren’t able to attend this year because of my husband, Lin’s hip problem.

For the last couple days, I have vacillated back and forth on whether to write about an event I didn’t attend. I decided I would because I know what happens there–great challenging dancing with a fun-loving committee and dancers. It’s an unusual festival that has gained momentum over the years.

Hummingbird Hoedown is a weekend festival the last weekend in January: a dance Friday night, workshop all day Saturday and a dance Saturday night–sounds like a lot of dancing to the non-dancer but this is the usual format for weekend square and round dance festival.

It began five years ago. Harue and Slappy (Bryan) Swift started it with Jerry Story with a new format in mind: round dance party for one hour before the dance and then only one round during the evening dance, mostly mainstream dancing with a two minutes, two seconds break between tips. That program translated into an aerobic evening of dancing, attracting high energy dancers.

Immediately it was a success and has continued growing with this year’s record number of seventeen squares! Lin and I attended the first three festivals but weren’t able to go last year and sorrowfully this year.

The schedule has morphed over the five years, and this year’s alternated mainstream, plus, mainstream and two rounds during the evening.

Another innovative addition started at Hummingbird Hoedown by Lisa Wahl. During the round dance workshop on Saturday afternoon, Lisa taught a rhythm not a whole dance and was able to teach more moves per rhythm that way. During the evening’s dance, Lisa cued the moves taught instead of a song and many people participated. This has continued throughout the years.

Bob and Lin Van Atta have cued the rounds for the last couple years and make the rounds enjoyable for all!

The Hummingbird Hoedown’s lively committee has fun door prizes and schedules dinner out Saturday night at one of the Mexican restaurants in Sierra Vista, providing time to sit and talk and get acquainted. I love this special time to sit with dancer friends and talk about our lives.

Jerry Story, the featured caller, puts you through the drill the whole weekend. Jerry is the master of making mainstream dancing a challenge. Then during the workshops on Saturday, he teaches the dancers all the key items to dancing that are important to him–his emphasis helps dancers improve their dancing.

The weekend is fun-filled, and the committee welcomes you with open arms. Jerry makes the squares entertaining and challenging. After a tip at this dance, you run to the bathroom or grab a drink– you can’t do both, and you rush back on the floor for another tip full of great choreography and singing. It doesn’t get better than this!

Lin and I WILL be there next year ready to dance the weekend away with good friends, a great caller and lots of dancing!

Want to see what happened at Hummingbird Hoedown this year? Go to the Thunder Mountain Twirlers Facebook page for pictures: 5th Annual Hummingbird Hoedown

Have you ever attended Hummingbird Hoedown? What was your opinion of it? Share it here.

Check out my web site at https://www.laradasbooks.com

50% Discount of A Time to Grow Up: A Daughter’s Grief Memoir–both paperback and e-book version–at my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft.

Do you want to pre-order the Marshall Flippo biography? Go here to order the version you want: https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42

Christmas · family · My Thoughts · square dance

Lin & Larada’s Christmas Letter

Our Christmas newsletter is one of my favorite traditions–I have been sending out a Christmas letter for 30 years. Here’s this year!

Enjoy!

Merry Christmas to you and yours! Feliz Navidad!

Check out my web site for information about my books: https://www.laradasbooks.com

Check out my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft for last minute sales!

Life Lessons · My Thoughts · square dance

A Celebration of Marshall Flippo

Cover MemorialToday, November 26, 2018 loved ones gathered at Elliott-Hamil Funeral Home in Abilene, Texas to celebrate the life of Marshall Flippo, and what a celebration it was!

Lin and I arrived at the funeral home forty-five minutes early, and the reception area already overflowed with callers and dancer friends. We greeted dear friends from all over the country who had come to honor a true legend. We were ushered into the chapel early. The majority of the people present were professional callers from all over the United State–the cream of the crop for sure. We continued greeting each other with hugs and subdued smiles.

I looked for Mary Sheehan Johnson, a dear friend of Flip’s who took him to Asilomar in April for his last visit. Asilomar was his favorite festival in his career with its beautiful beach side setting and the organization of Bob and Becky Osgood. We found each other and felt like we were old friends–our common denominator–Flippo.

Kayla Jones began the service with beautiful soft music. Reverent David Hargrove officially opened the service with a warm greeting, Flippo’s obituary and a prayer.

Then Jon, Deborah, Vernon and Kayla Jones sang a beloved hymn, “The Old Rugged Cross.” With the majority of attendees being callers and singers, many joined in the singing. What a beautiful start!

Gary Shoemake gave the first eulogy with heartfelt stories. His longtime friendship with Flippo shined through his words and tears. We laughed and cried in response to his stories. I cried with my dear friend and his raw emotion. Afterwards, we recited the familiar Twenty-Third Psalm.

Wade Driver, Mike Seastrom, and Gary Shoemake sang, “Amazing Grace,” another beautiful hymn that many in the audience sang. What a delight to have of these callers sing!

Melton Luttrell, Flippo’s long-time best friend, did a second eulogy with stories of Flippo’s early years. Melton’s deep love for Flippo grabbed my heart–they were best friends for decades. Then Reverend Hargrove shared several Scripture verses and a message of hope, personalized with Flippo stories–many that highlighted the precious father-son relationship that Flippo had with his dear son, John. He ended this part with us saying The Lord’s Prayer.

Ken Bower, Tony Oxendine, and Melton Luttrell sang the last song of the service, “Just A Closer Walk with Thee,” another song that made me cry. I loved hearing all of Flip’s dear friends give tribute to him through music and song.

Stan Jeffus shared a beautiful video presentation honoring “Precious Memories” of Flippo that had us laughing one minute and crying the next. Stan had Flippo’s songs playing in the background with photos of Flippo with so many friends through the years. The highlight were videos of many of the skits that Flippo was famous for: The Boxer and “I Don’t Look Good Naked Anymore.” Again we laughed and cried.

Boxer and Frank
Flippo Doing The Boxer Skit

Reverend Hargrove ended the service with the Benediction, then we drove to the Wagon Wheel Hall, a square dance hall that Flippo and Neeca helped build many years ago. The Abilene Square/Round Dancers provided a delicious dinner.

Then friends spent a couple hours telling Flippo stories–full of love and admiration for Flip and lots of humor. Jon Jones started the sharing with playing Flippo’s first recorded song, “The Auctioneer” and a square tried to dance it but had trouble with the figures because we don’t do some of them in square dancing anymore. Jay Henderson played Jerry Story’s tribute to the three legends in square dancing that died in the last month: Frank Lane, Marshall Flippo and Lee Kopman. Lin and I danced that time and it was so precious.

The end came–people lingered. Stories continue out the door. It was hard to leave this festive day. To me, this was the best celebration of someone’s life I’ve ever been to–lots of stories, laughter and tears about a man we all loved dearly. John and Shelly and Neeca–you did a great job in honoring Flip. I will never forget this day!

Paul Cote recorded Flippo’s Memorial Service using Facebook Live. Go and watch this awesome service celebrating Flippo. Here’s the link: https://www.facebook.com/paul.cote.104/videos/10215219947390187/

 

 

My Thoughts · square dance · Travel

The Huntsman World Senior Games–A Life Changing Experience!

Every year in October, thousands of seniors descend on St. George, Utah for the Huntsman World Senior Games. All athletes must be 50 years old by December 31, 2018. This year 11,300 athletes from 32 countries will compete in 30 events, and we competed  in square dancing.

Our week started off on Monday with practice sessions all day to prepare for the square dance competition Tuesday morning. We had a set square with another couple from Albuquerque, New Mexico–Jerry and Mary Beth Gilbreath–and two couples from St. George, Utah. That evening we had a square dance with Gary Shoemake and Ken Bower calling the squares and Steve and Lori Harris doing the rounds. We danced the whole evening with our square to practice.

Tuesday morning we competed in three categories of square dancing: Mainstream, Plus and Random. We competed in our set square in Mainstream and Plus. In the Random category, couples put their names in and the square is formed randomly.

IMG_9567 WP.JPG
Our Square Danced in Red, White & Blue for Competition Day

Each square had two judges watching to see if the square broke down. When the square broke down, the timer started, and it stopped when the square formed facing lines at the head position–that’s what down time is on the scoring.

Each competition has three tips that are five minutes long with each tip progressively getting harder and harder. Whew! When it was over, I was exhausted. I wanted to do as well as the previous the year, so I felt the pressure.

Last year we took a square from Albuquerque for our first time, and we brought home Gold medals for Mainstream and Plus and one of our couples won a Gold medal for the Random square.

Tuesday evening was the Opening Ceremony at Trailblazer Stadium at Dixie State University. We marched onto the field with our square dance banner waving. We each carried a flag and I felt like a real athlete in a world competition.

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The evening program was outstanding with entertainment by a local youth troop, the Diamond Talent Dancers. We were welcomed by the mayor of St. George, John Pike, and the lieutenant governor, Spencer Cox. Mr. Cox’s storytelling ability captured my heart. The guest speaker for the evening was Dan Clark, a renown author and speaker that held our attention with his motivational stories and humor.

IMG_5978 Flags
The 32 Country Flags Represented

Each competing country was honored with a person dressed in a flag of that country, then each country was recognized during the evening. The delightful evening ended with the lighting of the torch and a magnificent fireworks display.

Running concurrently throughout the week was our own Cribbage tournament with Lin and Jerry against Mary Beth and me. We played whenever we had free time and ended up playing about 22 games. The guys won with 14 wins to our 11, but they double skunked us Tuesday night after the Open Ceremony and that counted as 3 wins. We laughed and enjoyed the competition and the fun.

Wednesday morning we danced and enjoyed the awesome dancers in attendance, then we were free for the afternoon for a variety of health screenings, provided by the Senior Games. We danced Wednesday night again. One of the perks of attending the Senior Games is all the dancing.

That evening Steve and Lori Harris, the cuers and dear friends of ours, were inducted into the Hall of Fame for the Senior Games–so deserving!

Hall of Fame
Hall of Fame Recipients

Thursday morning was the celebratory brunch and medal ceremony–I was so nervous this year because the pressure was on after our first year’s performance.

It’s been hilarious over this past year as Lin and I have traveled to festival across the country because dancers knew we won and some solicited to join our square, if we needed someone!

The 2018 results are in: our square won a Gold medal for Mainstream with a down time of .32 seconds. Our square won a Silver medal for Plus with a down time of 8.75 seconds. And Lin and I won a Gold medal for the Random square with a down time of 8.73 seconds. We had dancers in our Random square from California, Washington, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah.

My Medals
My Three Medals – Yahoooooo!

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Whew! How exciting! A big thank you goes out to Dave and Rose Marie Chapman for organizing the square dance competition!

More than anything, this event is about the people–the dancers–and the fun!

 


Are you 50 or older and would like to compete in the Senior Games? What sport do you play? Leave a comment below.


Visit my web site:  https://www.laradasbooks.com

Check out my Etsy Shop for Fall Specials, Larada’s Reading Loft

Visit the Senior Games web site: https://seniorgames.net

 

My Thoughts · square dance · Travel

How Do You Handle a Change of Plans?

Lin Driving In Front of Me Through Zion National Park

Today was an unusual day in the desert Southwest–rain and more rain. Heading towards St. George, Utah from Albuquerque, New Mexico for the Huntsman Senior Games,  we attempted to drive through Zion National Park in two 37-foot Class A motorhomes, each towing a car. Notice I said, “Attempted!”

Lin and I followed Jerry and Mary Beth Gilbreath all day yesterday and today. Up until this point, the trip had been uneventful–the way any veteran RVer likes. After our successful trip here last year and winning two gold medals in the square dance competition, we were jazzed to get our destination and sign in.

Driving along this morning, I was shocked when I saw the “Zion National Park” sign pass by because years ago I had driven through Zion with my ex in a smaller motorhome and it was tight fit–how could we do it today with these monstrosities and towing cars?

No warning signs said, “No big RV’s,” so I thought they must have changed the route–it had been over ten years ago. Things do change!

When we pulled up to the checkin station, the ranger curtly laid out the plan, “You have to unhitch the car, and someone drive it through. There are two tunnels. The first one, drive through as normal. At the second one, a ranger will stop the oncoming traffic, make it a one-way lane and you can drive safely down the middle. Do you understand the instructions?”

Lin took it all in and nodded his head. Our travel companions in the RV ahead of us had already pulled into a lot to unhitch, so we did the same. Talk about a change in plans–I now had to drive through Zion National Park with its winding roads, cars parked along the road and people walking from the cliffs back to their cars. Wow! What an adventure!

Jerry led the parade through Zion with Mary Beth following in their tow vehicle. Then Lin followed her and I brought up the rear.

Jerry in the Lead, Mary Beth in the Middle and then Lin

 

Lin Going Through the First Tunnel

 

Lin Making A Corner

What a gorgeous drive we had, winding our way through the red rocks, but I was sure that Lin and Jerry weren’t in agreement with me. I took pictures a long the way–our speed was extra slow so I had time.

The tight curves made you slow down. The road was lined with cars parked wherever they could and tourists walked back to their cars with cameras bouncing with each step. Families, singles and couples relished the view of the majesty of this canyon–smiles and satisfied faces everywhere.

I felt my God in this adventure–I have had a strong attraction to the Colorado Plateau for years and all of its expression of grandeur from Zion to Capitol Reef and the Grand Canyon–breathtaking vistas of hoodoos at Bryce Canyon and the curvatures of Arches and Bridges. So this was a respite for me in the midst of the chaotic world of today.

God often touches my life like this–an event that could be stressful and negative turned into a peaceful time of admiring His handiwork. I guess the years have tempered me to not react with a gasp and screech, “Oh, no” when there’s a sudden change like this. As a smile crept slowly across my lips and heart, I bowed my head thankfully and said, “OK, God! I’m ready for another adventure.”


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My Thoughts · square dance

My First CALLERLAB Experience–Through the Eyes of a Dancer

I wrote the following article for the June issue of Square Dance Magazine–enjoy!

Lin & me - Flippo dance

“Why don’t Lin and you ever come to CALLERLAB?” Eric Henerlau asked me four years ago as I drove him to the airport after the Spring Fling festival in Albuquerque, NM.

“I’m not a caller” was my quick response. He explained CALLERLAB wants dancers to attend and would welcome us because we have promoted square dancing locally and nationally and would have ideas to share.

When I heard that CALLERLAB was coming to Albuquerque in 2018, I remembered Eric’s suggestion and made the commitment to attend. The decision was worth it.

As I tentatively stepped in the hallway Sunday night for the Social Hour to kick off CALLERLAB, I felt at home immediately as I scanned the room and realized how many of the callers I knew. Different callers and their wives warmly welcomed me, and not once did I hear, “What are you doing here?”

When Denise Hogan saw me, she rushed over and hugged me, and we reconnected after not seeing each other for a while. Mike joined us shortly and told me that our local club, Duke City Singles and Doubles Square Dance Club, would be mentioned in his keynote address the next morning.

And so he did—we were one of the case studies mentioned. Mike had me stand up and be recognized as being on the board when major changes happened for our club. After his speech, I was shocked; women quizzed me in the bathroom. I just happened to have the postcard we used to promote our lessons with me, and they

took a photo of it. Throughout the week, people stopped me and wanted a quick summary of what we did. We had several old postcards left over, so I gave them away.

I so appreciated that CALLERLAB provided a strand of marketing and promotional seminars because that’s my passion. I also attended a couple of caller seminars, and my respect of what callers do before they go on stage increased 1000%.

I was thrilled with the Marketing Manual created by the Marketing committee and plan to use it this year when we promote our lessons. In fact, we’re having Mike Hogan do a Marketing Seminar in Albuquerque, NM, the Sunday afternoon of Hot August Nights this year.

I thoroughly enjoyed the panel of the Legends and enjoyed the presenters’ stories, but was so sad that Bob Brundage couldn’t attend.

At each one of the marketing and promoting sessions, I gleaned an idea to incorporate into our advertising plan—great strategies from a variety of presenters all over the United States.

One caller workshop I attended was on Sustainable Square Dancing, facilitated by Vernon Jones. For the last five years, I have been involved in promoting our lessons, and it breaks my heart to see how many people we lose each year. We have to make the lesson sequence shorter to retain more dancers. Hearing the success stories from the panel and attendees convinced me that this might be a viable solution.

I’m writing the authorized biography of Marshall Flippo. In my weekly interviews with Flippo, in describing his lessons experience, he said, “We had 10 lessons and then we were square dancers!” Do we need to rethink what we are doing—could

Sustainable Square Dancing be the answer? After the workshop, I was excited with the possibilities.

I had the privilege of meeting Jim Mayo, Elmer Sheffield and Melton Luttrell. Since CALLERLAB, I’ve interviewed Jim Mayo and Melton Luttrell for the Flippo biography. I also had a special time with Flippo to work on his book.

I relished the conversations about square dancing and promoting shared at any meal time. It was rich conversation and an opportunity to network with like-minded people from around the world.

One highlight for me was the banquet Tuesday night. I sat at Mike Hogan’s table and had the pleasure of visiting with Mike and Denise Hogan, Mike Seastrom and Lisa, Andrith Davis and Michael Turley. At this banquet, I witnessed Jim Mayo receive the Lifetime Achievement award—so deserving. Jim and Marshall Flippo are the only two members who have ever received this award!

Tuesday night during the square dance, a couple of young women and a man stood outside in the hall, and they asked me what was going on. They were fascinated by the square dancing—a perfect opportunity for the promoter that I am. We talked, and I encouraged them to go in the hall and watch. I also found out where they lived and assured them that there was square dancing in their area.

The three days were jam packed with activity, but my most noted observation was the fraternity CALLERLAB is for callers—many special relationships that have spanned many years.

I highly recommend CALLERLAB to any dancer.

Lin.Larada Collage


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Check out my web site:  https://www.laradasbooks.com

Visit my Etsy Shop for Fall Specials:  Larada’s Reading Loft

For more information about square dance lessons starting Thursday, September 20, 2018, visit Duke City Singles & Doubles Square Dance Club