An international sensation—a shy Texas square dance caller? How did it happen? Flippo called in Japan, Germany, England, Spain, Morocco, and Majorca. He joined callers on several cruises. How did this unfold?
First, his popularity at Kirkwood Lodge for forty-two years influenced this part of his successful career, as it did so many areas. Dancers came to this dance haven from all over the world, then requested he visit their home country.
Love Affair with Japan
After World War II, Flippo made two trips to Japan as occupational forces. He related, “I kind of had a love affair with Japan. When I started going over thar as a caller, I had stood over a year down at Yokosuka after the war, and they treated you like their kinfolk. I mean, they just treated you so good, it was unbelievable.”Larada Horner-Miller, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo, (2020): 235.
When asked how many times he traveled to Japan as a caller, he couldn’t remember. Matt Asanuma, a Japanese caller, first booked Flippo in Japan in 1983, and he told me his favorite story a couple times from that trip:
Matt announced to Flip the Prince would be there in about thirty minutes, and the Prince only knew about twenty Basics. “The Prince is NOT going to break down. Do not let him falter. You stay within those twenty Basics.”
Matt added, “We’ll all dance what he wants. He won’t stay but about twenty minutes. Call a tip, and he’ll probably be out of there, but don’t call anything so damn hard that he can’t do it.”
And his wife at that time could not be seen in public. Flippo didn’t know why, but it’s changed since then. “I ’member that afternoon almost like it was today. I called to them, and he came in.”
Matt stressed to Flippo, “Don’t call anything that he can’t do. We’ll put him in our best square, and he will NOT BREAK DOWN. He’ll probably be here only one tip.”
Well, he stayed two hours, and all these really, really good dancers just smiled about it. They didn’t mind. “Boy, they just danced along with twenty Basics for two damn hours. And they came after he left and said, ‘We’re sorry about that.’”
Flippo answered, “Well, I betcha you are, too.”“Oh, no, no, no. We had fun. We had fun. We like to dance.”Flip and Matt both thought the Prince would leave earlier, but Matt said, “He is having a good time.” Well, he stayed two hours, and all these really, really good dancers just smiled about it. They didn’t mind. “Boy, they just danced along with twenty Basics for two damn hours. And they came after he left and said, ‘We’re sorry about that.’” Flippo answered, “Well, I betcha you are, too.”“Oh, no, no, no. We had fun. We had fun. We like to dance.”Flip and Matt both thought the Prince would leave earlier, but Matt said, “He is having a good time.”Larada Horner-Miller, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo, (2020): 236.
Flip shared a copy of the calling schedule for that memorable first trip, and the only time he wasn’t calling was when they were eating lunch or supper. Ten hours of calling for two days! Flippo said, “I should have been quintuplets!”
Japanese officials asked if Flippo had ever been to Japan before, but he avoided their question because he didn’t want to bring up his presence their after the war.
Flippo opened the door to Japan for many other callers by recommending callers like Gary Shoemake.
Flippo returned a couple times with the Chaparral Record Label “boys,” Gary Shoemake, Ken Bower, and Jerry Haag, but he couldn’t remember if Beryl Main ever went with them before he died. Gary said Beryl had already died before they traveled to Japan.
Larada Horner-Miller, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo, (2020): 244.
In his biography, he shared hilarious international stories about his Japanese trips with “The Boys.”
The Love Affair was Mutual
In 1994 Martha Ogasawara wrote in an article, “Out of the American callers popular then, Marshall Flippo probably had the most influence on Japanese callers. Everyone slavishly imitated his style of calling, and to this day, many older callers call with a Japanese/Texan accent.”
The Japanese people loved Flippo. I connected with one of Flippo’s friends, a Japanese caller named Masaharu Hiraga, for information and mementos from Flippo’s times in Japan. He was incredibly helpful, contacting several people who knew Flippo throughout Japan and sending me their photos and stories of Flippo.
Larada Horner-Miller, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo, (2020): 245.
Flippo enjoyed another international destination—Germany.
Flippo traveled three times to Germany with Tom and Gina Crisp as one of the calling staff. Once when he was still married to his second wife and two by himself.
Tom Crisp clarified Flippo’s trips to Germany. “We took Flip three times to Germany, first in 2002. We were scheduled for 2001 but had to cancel because of 9/11. He went again in 2007 with Jerry Haag, Ken Bower, and Gary Shoemake. We took them all again the next year in 2008. All three were sell-outs.”
Larada Horner-Miller, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo, (2020): 247.
Spain, Morocco & Majorca
Continuing his international travels, Flippo and his first wife, Necca, went to Spain, Morocco, and Majorca with Bob and Nita Page for an eight-day trip. They started in Madrid, and he shared another hilarious story with Whitey Puerling, a dear square dance friend, and an trying to find an Easter parade you have to read (page 248 & 249 in his biography.)
Flippo added England to his list of international targets.
Flippo and his second wife went to England with Dave Taylor [another square dance caller], flying into London. They rented a car, and he remembered Dave asking, “Have you driven over here?”
Dave stated, “I drove over here for about a mile.”
Larada Horner-Miller, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo, (2020): 249.
What a time they had with the driving and a fantastic dance experience.
One That Got Away—New Zealand
Flippo received a written invitation in 1989 to go to New Zealand from the Prime Minister to celebrate the anniversary year in 1990. Flippo finished up his discussion about his international travels with, “And let’s see. I never did get to go to New Zealand. I guess I was asked a couple of times, and it always . . . Thar was somethang holding me back—somethang.”
Larada Horner-Miller, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo, (2020): 250.
Flippo went on several international cruises but didn’t know the exact number or destinations. He cruised with “The Boys” from Chaparral Recording Label: Ken Bower, Scott Smith, Jerry Haag, and Gary Shoemake. Flippo also joined these callers on cruises: Jerry Story, Tony Oxendine, Larry Letson, Tim Marriner, Randy Dougherty, Wade Driver and Mike Seastrom. He loved any time he could be calling and traveling with his caller friends.
In all his travel stories, Flippo related fun-loving tales. He never lamented the long hours of travel or the calling time there. He celebrated the fun, his friends, the different cultures and the people.
So, throughout his career, his popularity soared both nationally and internationally! Flippo reunited each year at CALLERLAB with his international caller friends, especially his Japanese friends. He loved his international connections.
Hopefully, these travel stories have whetted your appetite to read about this sensational caller, Marshall Flippo. You will find the travel stories and more in his biography, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo.
Did you ever travel with Flippo? If so, share your stories with us! (Scroll down below to the Comment section.)
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