Marshall Flippo · My Thoughts · square dance

Marshall Flippo: Gone for Two Years but Not Forgotten

Marshall Flippo
Marshall Flippo

Yes, it’s hard to believe! Marshall Flippo died November 4, 2018, and here we’ve lived two years without him. Hopefully for those who bought his biography, you’ve been able to keep his memory alive and celebrate his life.

Lin and I watched Disney’s “Coco,” to add to my celebration of the Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) in my blog from last week. What a precious story that is! One of the premises in the movie is Miguel’s father, Hector, abandoned the family, so for several generations they banned music in their homes, and they cut Hector’s photo out of the picture celebrated on Día de los Muertos. So, on the Día del los Muertos, Hector came to the gate to cross over to join his family’s celebration, and the gatekeeper denied him because no one posted his picture—Hector’s retribution!

As I thought about this story line and the loss of Flippo and so many dear friends and family, I wondered what Flippo, Frank Lane, Lee Kopman, and many others were doing right now, so here we go!

Frank Lane died on October 31, 2018, Flippo on November 4 and Lee Kopman on November 13—within three weeks, three major square dancers lost to this world. Unlike the movie, “Coco,” the inhabitants of the Great Beyond look young and vibrant. When Flippo passed away, Frank greeted him warning him about the smoking policy in their new place. To Frank’s surprise, Flip stated, “I don’t want a cigarette!” Miracles do happen!

Then Flippo added, “Frank, have you played ‘Petals Around the Rose’ recently?” Frank laughed and said, “I’ve played it several times up here.” Soon the two of them greeted Lee—a heavenly reunion. Square dancers rejoiced and have enjoyed many festivals since this trio arrived.

Dia de los Muertos 2020 arrived and many of our deceased loved ones crossed the bridge and joined us on this memorable day whether we saw them or not, so obviously we remembered them with photos and reminisces.

Bob Osgood
Bob Osgood

After their return across the bridge before dawn, dancers donned their festive square dance attire and participated in a gigantic dance with this powerful threesome calling on the biggest celestial stage with live music similar to our amazing Ghost Rider Band. This heavenly band included Pancho and Marie Baird and the Git-fiddlers Band playing with Earl Caruthers and his Hoedowners. Bob and Becky Osgood and Lloyd “Pappy” and Dorothy Shaw organized this big event with workshops on dancing and style. They reminded the dancers about smooth dancing. And was it smooth!

Flippo kept elbowing Frank saying, “Listen to that band! The best I’ve ever heard!” And Frank agreed.

Bettye and Charlie Proctor
Bettye and Charlie Proctor

Favorite cuers like the Manning and Nita Smith, Charlie and Bettye Proctor joined in, providing rounds between tips. The multiple round dance circles filled the whole dance floor.

My dad and mom sought out Flippo and made a strong connection through me. I can imagine the smile on my dad’s face as he danced to these historic callers and cuers!

Neeca Flippo and Barbara Lane sat at the back of the stage, clapping and enjoying their husband’s music and friendship. Norman and Nadine Merbach sat beside them, proud of their star, Flippo.

Lee Kopman wowed everyone with a variety of new moves he’s created in that other world with unfamiliar names and calls I can’t even imagine!

The highlight of this special dance came when this trio invited other callers to join them. The crowd went crazy when their favorites took the stage, yet it appeared the dancers loved all of the callers. Flippo honored his mentors from Abilene, Texas to be the first on the stage during this part of the dance: Betty Casey, J. C. Wilson, Bob Sumrall and Owen Renfro. When they finished, they circled Flippo and celebrated his successful career and their part in it.

Bob Fisk
Bob Fisk

As always, Flippo enjoyed the breaks between tips, socializing with friends. He teased Bob Fisk about his full head of hair. Beryl Main reminded Flippo of his lost suitcase and all the fun they had being “The Chaparral Boys.”  When that topic came up, Jerry Haag joined in the reverie, and Flippo recalled Jerry’s Brenda Flea after party routine.

The Chaparral Boys
The Chaparral Boys

A cluster of callers gathered around Ed Gilmore, an icon in the calling world. Joe Lewis stood near Ed, and Flippo joined them. Flip had always been in awe of Joe Lewis as his hero.

Arnie Kroenberger
Arnie Kroenberger

When the music stopped, Flippo heard a familiar voice and saw a crowd of dancers huddled around Arnie Kronenberger, and immediately he knew Arnie was telling his favorite joke—cleaned up for sure.

Dave Taylor
Dave Taylor

As he surveyed this collection of callers, Flip eyed Dave Taylor and moved towards him.  As they hugged and reconnected, they remembered their countless dances they worked together, especially their trip to England and Dave’s driving on “the wrong side of the road.”

Al "Tex"Brownlee
Al “Tex” Brownlee

After the next tip, Al “Tex” Brownlee shouted, “Flippo, come on over here!” He waved a pair of handcuffs at Flip and began laughing at that hilarious trick he pulled on Flip. Flippo wondered how Tex could tell any of his jokes here, but Tex assured him that he had clean versions.

Bill and Phyllis Speidel
Bill and Phyllis Speidel

Flippo relished his dancer friends as much as his caller/cuer friends. He approached Bill and Phyllis Speidel with a laugh. Bill had his magician outfit on, and he grabbed Bob Fisk to remind him about his cowboy hat that appeared to be ruined so many years ago.

Then Flippo rushed to Whitey Puerling and hugged him close. With tears in his eyes, he recalled their trip to Spain and the Easter parade they never found. Another couple nudged Flippo, Joe and Cricket Young. He left Whitey and visited with them. As happened so often for Flippo when he was at a square dance event—he didn’t have enough time to spend with each friend!

Cal Golden

When Cal Golden took the stage in his glittery costume, the dancers roared. Other callers made their appearance: Bob Page with his wife Nita, Bob Van Antwerp, and Bill Castner. I love it when multitude callers sing together. Later Max Forysth and Johnnie Wykoff joined Bob Yerington and Johnny Davis on stage. Bob and Al Brundage also performed for the crowd. The night ended with C. O. Guest, Billy Lewis and Hotsy Bacon.

After the dance, Harper and Ray Smith organized the after party, the party after the dance, and they are created with its’ beginning. They featured Singing Sam Mitchell and Flippo applauded the loudest—he loved Sam’s singing voice.

This memorable celebration of Dia de los Muertos, square and round dance style, ended in the wee hours of eternity—remember, no time in heaven! As you can see, the beat goes on, and square and round dancing continues to flourish in the next world. Someday I’ll see you there!


~Visit my blog from last week about Día de los Muertos: https://laradasbooks.com/2020/11/01/dia-de-los-muertos-a-celebration-of-the-dead/

~HAVE YOU ORDERED A PERSONALLY AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF THE FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY?   AVAILABLE NOW! Go to the homepage on my website and pay for it there: https://www.laradasbooks.com

ALL FOUR E-BOOK FORMATS OF FLIPPO’S BIOGRAPHY AVAILABLE NOW:

~Visit my web site for all the information you need about me and my books:  https://www.laradasbooks.com

~ Visit my Etsy Shop for 25% off individual paperback titles. Good until December 20, 2020. Here’s the coupon link: https://www.etsy.com/shop/LaradasReadingLoft?coupon=25OFFSANDIA1220INDIV

Dancing · Marshall Flippo · My Thoughts · square dance

Yes, It’s a Thick Book!

“It’s a thick book!” Many have received their copy of Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo, and this has been one of the major responses. Wow, thick!

Thick book spine of Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo

Yes, it ended up being thick—Flippo had a rich full life. There’s 592 pages (sixteen pages of front matter), more than 450 pages of memorable pictures and ten appendices. Also, there’s story galore: Flippo told stories about callers and cuers and then callers and cuers told stories about Flippo. Because I felt this was a history book, I included an Index of thirty-seven pages for cross-referencing.

Flippo worried about the size of this book and commented, “It won’t be as big as Bob Osgood’s.” So I worked hard to keep it smaller. Bob Osgood became the leader of square dancing for many years. He published a monthly magazine, Sets in Order, that kept dancers and callers abreast of square dance news in its heyday. This magazine influenced many callers’ careers with articles, advertisements and reviews of newly released songs. He helped Flippo’s career immensely. He also was the mastermind behind, CALLERLAB, the international organization for square dance callers that standardized square dance calls.

As I Saw It, Bob’s biography is 636 pages, so Flippo’s is smaller, by a few pages.

After readers received the book, the other comment I’ve heard with much scrutiny is about something special I added to the title page. Early on when people signed up to pre-order a book, someone asked that Flippo autograph her book. I agreed to do this, and I was certain many people would want his autograph, then he passed away before it was published.

That thought returned to me often as I was transcribing our interviews and putting the book together, then I had a brainstorm. I contacted his son and ex-wife and told them about my plan. I asked if they had a good signature we could use.

His ex-wife found a couple: one on their divorce decree that wasn’t as legible and another one from a card sent at an earlier time in their lives with a clear signature, so she sent it to me. I inserted it on the title page, and it actually looks like he autographed the book, saying, “Love Flip.”

So, no I didn’t forge his name as some have intimated which I would never do. I just thought it was a nice touch when the reader opens the book—a welcome from Flip!

I’d like to end this with a list of books written about square dancing. Some are thick; others aren’t. You can find this list in Appendix J, Additional References in Just Another Square Dance Caller:

  • Betty Casey, Dance Across Texas, University of Texas Press (1985).
    • $24.95 paperback; $7.49 hardback; $11.95 e-book on amazon.com
  • Betty Casey, The Complete Book of Square Dancing [and Round Dancing], University of North Texas Press (2000).
  • Bob Osgood, As I Saw It, Humbug Enterprises (2017).
  • Bob Sumrall, Do-Si-Do, (1949).
  • Jim Mayo, Step by Step Through Modern Square Dance History, (2003).
  • John W. Jones, Square Dance Fundamentals, Jones Street USA, LLC, (1970).
  • Lloyd and Dorothy Shaw, Lloyd Shaw and the Cheyenne Mountain Dancers, (2014).
  • Lloyd Shaw, Cowboy Dances, The Caxton Printers, Ltd. (1949).
  • Richard Severance, A Step in Time: The American Square Dance, (2018).

The history of our activity fascinates me. I’m hopeful that Flippo’s biography will join these legendary tomes in your library. Yes, it’s thick but it’s worth it!

Are you a history buff? What history do you enjoy?


~ RELEASE PARTY of Flippo’s biography on Zoom on Wednesday, July 29, 2020 at 7:00 pm MST! Be ready to celebrate! Door Prizes, the inside story, Flippo song bytes & interview clips and more! The meeting ID number & the password will be posted on my website on Wednesday, July 28.

~HAVE YOU ORDERED A PERSONALLY AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF THE FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY?   AVAILABLE NOW! Go to the homepage on my website and pay for it there: https://www.laradasbooks.com

ALL FOUR E-BOOK FORMATS OF FLIPPO’S BIOGRAPHY AVAILABLE NOW.

~Visit my web site for all the information you need about me and my books:  https://www.laradasbooks.com

Marshall Flippo · My Thoughts · square dance

Who Was Bob Osgood in Marshall Flippo’s Life?

Marshall Flippo and Bob Osgood enjoyed an amazing working relationship for many years. Bob, the visionary, and Marshall, the new hot caller made quite a team.

Bob published and edited the square dance magazine, Sets in Order, from 1948 – 85. Flippo’s name first appeared in Sets In Order November 1958 in the “Round the Outside Ring” article for calling at the Permian Basin Festival. “The Auctioneer,” Flippo’s first smash hit, also first appeared in the same issue in the “On the Record” section, listed as a new release.

From then on, readers saw Flippo’s name regularly, whether in reports about where he was calling around the United States or a review of his newest released song.

Flippo’s name appeared repeatedly with song after song being reviewed and lauded in Sets in Order, and Bob noticed this! After Bob hired Flip in 1964 to call at a week and a weekend event at Asilomar, California, he actually saw Flippo in action. Flippo’s skilled calling prowess and his popularity with dancers drew respect from Bob, and their relationship deepened.

“. . .his personal appearance tours throughout the country have given a real ‘lift’ to thousands of dancers,”

Bob Osgood, Sets in Order, (August 1965):33

Bob wrote this in an ad in his Sets in Order magazine, August, 1965 issue.  Flippo’s years of tours touched many lives, his popularity increased, and Bob watched Flippo’s successful calling career grow.

So, Bob started a series called DIALOG in Sets in Order magazine in February 1968 and stated, “This month we inaugurate a new series of dialogues directed to those people who have a desire to call square dances.”

Bob Osgood, Sets in Order (February 1968): 12

First of all, Flippo and Frank Lane teamed up with Arnie Kronenberger and did two interviews for Sets in Order magazine in May and June 1968 on “How Does One Go About Learning to Call?” Bob Osgood wrote in the May issue, the focus: “If you have never called before, then there must be a thousand questions running through your mind. We’ve tried to anticipate some of these, and we’ve brought together several outstanding callers to field the answers for you.”

Bob Osgood, Sets in Order (May 1969): 19

Then the second interview on this topic in the June 1968 issue focused on “Last month we asked this trio of experienced callers several questions having to do with memorizing calls and with sight calling. This month we question them on a variety of related subjects including some hypothetical questions a beginner caller might be expected to ask. We start of by trying to get some opinions.  

Bob Osgood, Sets in Order (June 1968): 19

In the third interview, Frank and Flippo teamed up with Bob Page, longtime friend who Flip worked yearly with at Asilomar, in the DIALOG article titled “Leadership In Square Dancing.” This article focused on “Calling a square dance is only a portion of the caller’s many responsibilities. He is looked up to as a “leader” and there are many opportunities for the caller to evidence good judgment, to develop sensitivity and to provide the type of activity that the dancers hope to receive. We asked three nationally known callers a series of questions and we think you will be interested in their frank replies. We began by asking, “What do you consider the caller’s responsibilities in a club run by the members themselves?”

Bob Osgood, Sets in Order (April 1969): 19

Finally, the fourth interview saw Frank and Flippo back with Bob Page and the title of the DIALOG article was “BuildingDancer Reaction.” Bob Osgood introduced it with “Being able to work with people — with human beings — to impart to them your ideas, to encourage them to follow your instructions and suggestions, is just about as basic to square dancing as it is possible to get. Only the caller who naturally gets on well with others or who specifically trains himself to do so, can really do the job successfully. This month we question three well-known callers on this subject and the first thing we asked them was how to “lift” a group that seems disinterested, that seems to have no spark.”

Bob Osgood, Sets in Order (June 1969): 19.

You can see that Bob identified Flippo as one of the leaders in the square dance world at this time and respected what he had to say. He felt this so much, he asked Flip to write a chapter for a book he published about square dancing, The Caller Text which took 36 years to write.

This dynamo duo loved and respected each other and touched so many with across the country and the world. Enjoy the four articles below.

Here’s the four DIALOG articles from Sets in Order

  1. “How Does One Go About Learning to Call?”
  2. “How Does One Go About Learning to Call?” Second Part
  3. “Leadership in Square Dancing”
  4. “Building Dancer Reaction”

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~Whitey & Gladys Puerling were playful friends of Flippo’s who created a Fan Club. I thought it would be fun to recreate this group. Would you like to join the Marshall Flippo Fan Club Facebook page? Read interesting posts about Flippo’s life. https://www.facebook.com/groups/328325644382769/

~I HAVE OVER 200 PRE-ORDERS FOR THE MARSHALL FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY!  You, too, can pre-order this amazing story? You can select which paper format or e-book format you would like. Go here to order the version you want. Monthly SWAG Giveaways!  https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42

Dancing · Marshall Flippo · My Thoughts · Writing

Marshall Flippo – A Success Formula That Worked

As I continue to write Marshall Flippo’s authorized biography, I ponder his life and how it unfolded. Flippo’s success as being the most famous square dance caller in the world didn’t just happen. He had friends galore across the United States and internationally, and he treated them fairly and returned to square dance clubs and festivals for decades for repeat performances at numerous places. How did he engineer such a successful career?

He always credited Neeca, his first wife, with his business success. Early on his career, she planned out a successful tour after people became acquainted with him at Kirkwood Lodge at Osage Beach, Missouri where he spent six months of his year. From the clientele that visited there, Neeca lined up a tour across America and the world, and the clubs and festivals were so pleased with Flippo’s performance, that he was repeatedly asked back—some places over thirty to forty years of continuous visitation.

Imagine that—an annual six-month tour filled to the brim with dancers who were anxious for his return every year. Marshall’s supreme memory compelled people to love him dearly because in many cases, he called them by name after his year absence. This can’t be explained or identified at face value—his people skills endeared him to the dancers.

So, what made him so successful? When asked, Flippo said it was luck and being at the right place at the right time, but there was so much more.

He was committed to his craft of square dance calling and practiced extensive hours—Melton Luttrell, his longtime caller friend, remembered him practicing singing calls while he was driving down the highway. Being on the road for six months of the year gave him ample practice time.

Another caller noted Flippo refusing to participate in an after party at a convention so he could practice his calls before the next day’s events.

Flippo’s talent of unique choreography and his wonderful singing voice won him many fans—he was a star in the square dance world to many. To hear him sing “The Auctioneer” which was his first recording and became highly successful, his clear voice and choice of popular music shines through.

Check out a snippet of Flippo’s famous singing call recorded in 1958:

https://squaredancehistory.org/items/show/160

He connected deeply with other callers who helped him. One caller mentor was Betty Casey of Abilene, Texas who had studied with Lloyd “Pappy” Shaw in Colorado Springs, Colorado and influenced Flip with Shaw’s teachings. She is the one who taught Flip to call.

Flip received more of Shaw’s dance philosophy from another mentor, Bob Osgood, the editor of the highly successful square dance magazine, Sets in Order.

Another mentor from Abilene, Texas was J. C. Wilson who took the young Flippo under his wing and help him with his rhythm and shared something unique—Burma Shave jingles that were popular at the time. J. C. used the jingles as fillers as dancers did certain calls or moves. Flip became known for his selection of these jingles and other callers followed suit and “borrowed them” from Flip.

Flippo’s career started in the late 50’s and early 60’s during a time that square dancing flourished, so he had events with record numbers outrageous in size compared to ours today. The large number of dancers increase Flippo’s popularity worldwide and the number of fans increased.

Success formulas are hard to analyze—as Flippo said being at the right place at the right time did have a impact, but his personality, talent and well-planned tour with its connection to Kirkwood put him in a place to become one of the most successful square dance callers in the world.

And, I promise you, as I continue writing this amazing book, I will continue sharing my musing with you!

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

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Whitey & Gladys Puerling were playful friends of Flippo’s who created a Fan Club. I thought it would be fun to recreate this group. Would you like to join the Marshall Flippo Fan Club Facebook page? Read interesting posts about Flippo’s life. https://www.facebook.com/groups/328325644382769/

Do you want to pre-order the Marshall Flippo biography? You can select which paper format or e-book format you would like? Go here to order the version you want. Monthly SWAG Giveaways! https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42