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!

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Albuquerque · Holidays · My Thoughts

Día De Los Muertos, A Celebration of the Dead!

Women dressed for Día De Los Muertos,

Have you heard of Día De Los Muertos, the Day of the Dead? Right now, today and tomorrow, this celebration features skulls, painted skeleton faces, candles, food and cemeteries. It’s a popular Mexican holiday that has migrated into the southwestern states of the United States. So many mysteries reside in the Southwest: gorgeous sunsets over purple mesas, delicious Mexican cuisine, red or green chili and the Día De Los Muertos observance.

The traditional American culture avoids talking about death and grief, much less celebrate it. I wrote a grief memoir a few years ago about the loss of my parents and my growth in the process, and many who supported my other books have shunned it—too serious, too sad!

This Mexican tradition is a fresh approach uniting the living and the dead, celebrating the departed in a visceral way. They share a meal with their deceased loved ones as if they were here!

Before I moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1991, I had never heard of this celebration. I grew up in southeastern Colorado. I had studied Spanish at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado and received a minor in Spanish—never heard of it. When I arrived in Albuquerque, I worked at a school with mostly Hispanic students and soon learned about the importance of Día De Los Muertos to my students. They spoke of calaveras (skulls in Spanish) which is

“an ornately decorated representation of a skull, often featuring flowers, animals, and other decorations. During the holiday, this imagery is seen everywhere, from Ofrendas, to paper crafts, and even to cartoons on newspapers. In a way, the Calavera has become an embodiment of the holiday itself.”

My students quickly identified another definition of calaveras with this celebration. When my students first mentioned calaveras, I only knew them to mean skulls in Spanish and they talked of eating them, so I knew I had something to learn. My students’ eyes lit up as they described this festive occasion, so I listened and learned first-hand. Calaveras are sugary candies eaten at this time. Obviously, as families and a community, they honored their dead in a much different way than I had ever seen.

After their introduction, I did my own research and became knowledgeable about this important event. As an Episcopalian, I knew about All Saints or All Souls Day, November 1, but this holiday took it a step further. Here’s some interesting information about this delightful holiday:

Día De Los Muertos skeleton statutes
Image by dat7 from Pixabay

“Families create ofrendas (Offerings) to honor their departed family members that have passed. These altars are decorated with bright yellow marigold flowers, photos of the departed, and the favorite foods and drinks of the one being honored. The offerings are believed to encourage visits from the land of the dead as the departed souls hear their prayers, smell their foods and join in the celebrations!”

Día De Los Muertos Traditions

“Day of the Dead is a unique tradition celebrated every year across Mexico. It is a festival aimed at honoring one’s dead ancestors on the date when their souls are believed to return to Earth.”

Día De Los Muertos skeleton singer

When is the Día De Los Muertos?

 “Day of the Dead is celebrated on November 1st and 2nd. It is sometimes confused with Halloween because of the symbolic skulls but is not related at all.

It is said that on November 1st the children who have passed come back to visit and celebrate as angelitos and on the following day, November 2nd, it’s the adults (Difuntos) return to show up for the festivities.

Family members prepare for several weeks in advance for the tradition by creating altars, decorating burial sites, and cooking specific Day of the Dead food.”

5 Movies You Need to See about the Día De Los Muertos

  1. Coco
  2. James Bond’s Spectre
  3. The Book of Life
  4. Macario
  5. Día de los Muertos/ Day of the Dead

10 facts to know about Día De Los Muertos?

1.     Day of the Dead is NOT Mexican Halloween

2.     The holiday has a rich and ancient history, dating back over 2000 years.

3.     Mexican families place Ofrendas to honor their deceased relatives

4.     Day of the Dead isn’t somber, it is a celebration

5.     Humor has played an important role in the holiday

6.     It is customary to visit cemeteries

7.     Marigolds are a key component

8.     Pastries and sweets are central to the holiday

9.     Different traditions exist in different parts of the country

10.  The Day of the Dead parade in Mexico City is a very recent addition

La Catrina of Día De Los Muertos
La Catrina Image by Jae Rue from Pixabay

Día De Los Muertos has become so popular where I live! Stop in at many souvenir shops in Old Town Albuquerque and multi-colored skeletons in a variety of forms fill the shelves. One character I see repeatedly: a tall slender woman topped with a hat with feathers. Her name is La Catrina and she has been given credit for the skeleton-like makeup so associated with Día De Los Muertos. Learn more about her at:

Día De Los Muertos pickup
Image by Please Don’t sell My Artwork AS IS from Pixabay

So, if you’re driving through a southwest city on November 1st or 2nd in the evening, look for a cemetery, lit up with candles placed around a grave and families gathered together to celebrate the lives of their departed. Think about how you remember your deceased love ones. Maybe, next year, don some bright skeleton makeup and join in this age-old tradition!

This morning, I went to the App store on my iPad, and it featured six Día De Los Muertos sticker sets!

Larada celebrating Día De Los Muertos!
Larada celebrating Día De Los Muertos!

A special thank you to Day of the Dead website for valuable information. Visit to learn about delicious recipes of food shared at this holiday and more about the Mexican culture.

Have you ever heard of the Día De Los Muertos? Have you ever participated in the Día De Los Muertos celebrations? How do you view death?

Just Another Square Dance Caller Cover



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