Marshall Flippo · My Thoughts · Writing

How Do You Cut Any of Marshall Flippo’s Stories?

Scissors to cut stories

If you knew Marshall Flippo, you know he wiled you with his stories and he had many—not surprising with the longevity of his 91 years! So, after 40+ hours of interviews, stories galore and 258,000+ words, I faced the dilemma of cutting some of his stories as I prepare the manuscript to be published, but which ones?

Early on in this project, Flip told me he wanted to tell stories about his caller/cuer friends and include them in his biography—an interesting reflection of him. He saw himself through his relationships.

So, originally, we made a list of seventy-one names of callers, cuers and dancers, and it was amazing to listen to how he listed them. After Flip identified the names that came to him easily, he geographically traveled the United States and added to the list, saying, “northern California, northern California. Around and Around. I thank I’ll have a funny story for each one of them.”

That was the criteria—a funny story! So he eliminated some of the names based on that criteria.

Next, he moved to those who called frequently at Kirkwood Lodge where he called for six months out of the year for 42 years. Then Flip moved to his home state of Texas to add more names. Next, he went to “around St. Louis, and oh, Memphis, Memphis, Memphis!”

Regularly he instructed me on how the chapters should be set up, “That’s going to be quite a few in a chapter—headline like Gary Shoemake. The next one would be Ken Bower.”

As we progressed down the list, Flip moved west to Reno and Mesa. Then he jumped back east to Chicago, then East Coast, North Carolina, and then down the East Coast, Alabama and Georgia.

At this point he emphasized, “Put Georgia down thar. I have a story about Georgia.” Be ready for this hilarious one included in the book. He returned to Texas and listed his mentors and dear friends there. He headed to East Texas and then New Mexico, over to Arizona. Then he went south and northwest.

Quickly Flip announced, “I’m down in Houston again.” He added from San Antonio, Amarillo, Lubbock. This went on for weeks!

After we compiled this list, we went back through it, and Flip told his stories, crossed off some names and added some. Again, I saw the importance of relationships to this man.

When Flip first stated he had a list of callers he wanted to tell stories about, with a snicker, he added, “I have another list but it’s short: Callers I’ve Slept With!” I gasped when he said that but laughed when he told me the story. You’ll have to look for who that is in his biography.

Always involved in the layout of his biography, Flippo later requested I separate out the stories and have a section at the beginning of the book, “Before Marshall Flippo was born in Tuscola, Texas,” identifying the callers who have passed away and had helped him, so these people and their stories hold a premier place at the beginning of his biography.

So, back to my dilemma of cutting stories—I’m still deciding which stories will be in the book, and which will land up on the website, but it doesn’t matter because if you purchase his biography, you’ll have access to all of them.


~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

~Visit my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft for digital or paper copies of all my books: https://www.etsy.com/shop/LaradasReadingLoft

Holidays · My Thoughts

2020 is Larada’s Year!

Happy New Year! 2020 is here and I’m ready! 2019 was a hard year for me health-wise, so I’m ready for a change, and Lin, my husband, and I have dubbed 2020 as my year!

Yesterday, I started the new year off with a Cribbage game with Lin during breakfast, and he won. We jumped into the Rose Bowl parade—a tradition Lin and I both enjoy.

Since I have been in recovery, I try to attend a meeting on New Year’s Day, and I did yesterday. It was a glorious celebration of life, and exactly what I needed. Afterwards, I bought some black-eyed peas to serve for our lunch for good measure to start the year off right, southern style.

After our late lunch and between football games, we played two more Cribbage games, and I won. I started off the year ahead 2 -1. For years, LIn and I have started each morning off with a couple Cribbage games during breakfast, and he has beat me over the last two years like crazy. Three years ago, after losing a lot, I told him, “You win more than I do.”

He denied it, saying, “No, you win as much as I do!”

So, to prove my point, I created a spreadsheet of wins and losses, and he has been relentless: in 2018, he beat me by 43 games, and 2019 wasn’t much better. He beat me by 44 games.

We played this morning, and in 2020, I’m already ahead—I’ve won 4 games and he’s won 2! Yahoo! So I’m keeping track again this year!

Yesterday, after my wins, my wonderful day continued with cleaning out the refrigerator and freezer. Because I was sick a lot of last year, I kept bypassing this chore. But I felt it was a good way to bring in the New Year, and metaphorically it felt right—cleaning out the old to make room for the new!

After some relaxation time, I worked on my current project, the Marshall Flippo biography and assigned ISBN numbers to the different versions I will publish. I also investigated Ingram Sparks, a self-publishing company I’m using to publish the books and e-books.

My biggest goal of the year is publishing this biography. I’ve been working on it for two years, and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. The manuscript is with the editor right now. I’m busy doing behind the scene work because I self-publish my books, so I design the cover, adjust the pictures and lay the book out, so I’ve still got a lot of work to do, but I see that it is going to get done. The release date is April 6, 2020 at the annual CALLERLAB Convetion in Reno, NV.

Here’s my favorite Facebook cartoon as we face this new year! Yes, I plan to take advantage of all 365 opportunities ahead of me–how about you?

Yes, I started 2020 in a fulfilling way, and it promises to be fantastic. I hope your start to this new year was as a great as mine!


NEW Christmas ChapbookA Colorado Country ChristmasFull color paperback chapbook or digital version. Visit my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft to purchase: https://www.etsy.com/shop/LaradasReadingLoft

~40% OFF END OF THE YEAR SALE–All Digital Copies of my books are yours at a reduced price. PRICE GOOD UNTIL JANUARY 5, 2020. https://www.etsy.com/shop/LaradasReadingLoft

~30% OFF END OF THE YEAR SALE-All Paper Copies discounted until January 6, 2020. https://www.etsy.com/shop/LaradasReadingLoft

~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

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

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


What do you do for fun with your spouse? Where do you go?


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

My Thoughts · Writing

A Break From Our Trip & My New Project

Quiet surrounds me. A canopy of a clear blue Colorado sky covers this warm spring day. I’m in a small ranching community in southeastern Colorado–the home of my childhood.

Since my mom died five years ago, I visit here monthly to check things out. I forgot to bring my Ireland/England travel journal and hard drive that has my pictures, so I’m going to take a break from the travelogue and update you on my current writing project.

I’m writing the authorized biography of Marshall Flippo, the most famous square dance caller in the world. He’s 90 years old and visiting Asilomar, CA this week, the site of his favorite square dance weekend and week that he did for years.

How did this project start? My husband and I remember its inception differently, so I’ll tell you my version.

We were at a square dance festival last year in the early spring–it was Saturday night after a jam-packed two days of dancing. A group of friends enjoyed a leisure time late in the evening and Flippo (that’s what we call him) came up.

Someone said, “Someone needs to write his biography.”

My husband, Lin, leaned my way and stated, “You’re the writer in the group. Why don’t you do it?”

Nothing more was said that night, but the reoccurring thought surfaced regularly. I was coming to the ranch about this time last year alone, so I brought up the idea to Lin and shared my serious consideration of taking on this task. I suggested we both pray about it and when I returned, we would share what had come up.

Again the idea intrigued me–in the last four years, I had self-published four books and three cookbooks, but the topics had been personal for me. I wrote two memoirs, a historical fiction from a story I had heard my childhood and a non-fiction about our family ranch. Could I write about someone else?

When I returned home, Lin and I both agreed it would be a worthwhile project. So Flippo was fulfilling his last contract at the New Mexico Square and Round Dance Festival in mid-May in Albuquerque, so I called him in mid-April to query if he was interested.

His first comment was, “No one would want to read a book about me, but I do have a topic of a book that would sell–all the stories of traveling callers, but it would be X-rated.”

Seriously, Flippo said he would give me his answer at the festival in May. Friday evening during a break, he was surrounded by several local callers and dancers. I didn’t have to bring it up–he did.

“Larada wants to write my biography. Who would want to read it?” He queried. They all raised a hand, and I think it shocked him.

In traditional Flippo flirtatious manner, he said, “OK, come over to my hotel room tonight at 1:30 am and we’ll talk about.” Laughter exploded and then he said, “Yes.”

During the summer, I started gathering resources. I talked to several close caller friends of Flippo’s to start gathering their stories and information about him. In October, I went to Tucson, AZ for a Women Writing the West. Flippo lives in Tucson, so we planned to meet together on Thursday night.

He called and wanted to change nights because the Houston Texans were playing in the World Series and he wanted to watch the baseball game, so we moved it to Friday night. Before interviewing him, I didn’t realize Flippo had a strong connection to baseball–he was so good, that’s what he did in the Navy.

Lin and I met him for dinner, and Lin started him talking immediately. I was going to wait until we moved to his home so I could record it, but he was off and running, so I grabbed my notebook and started writing. He picked a the Texan Steakhouse which had TV multiple screens on every wall, so he could watch the baseball game as we talked.

After dinner, we went to Flippo’s house, turned on the TV and muted it, and he continued our first interview, watching the game. He sent me home with three scrapbooks/photo albums and three photo albums as resources.

Since then we have talked weekly for an hour, and I have recorded each interview. What a delightful experience this has been. The hardest part is transcribing the recordings; we talk for one hour, and that one hour takes three to four hours transcribe.

Flippo’s last calling event was a New Year’s Eve square dance in Green Valley, AZ. Several caller friends encouraged Lin and I to go, so we did. Twenty-five professional callers and friends from all over the United State supported Flippo on this monumental evening of his career. He announced from the stage that I was writing his biography, and the chair-woman of CALLERLAB (the international organization for callers) said to me, “How are you going to edit out the X-rated stuff?”

During the night I watched several of the professional callers’ eyes riveted on their hero on the stage–expressions of respect, love and admiration for their mentor and teacher covered their faces. I also witnessed traces of a deep sadness at the loss of such a great caller and friend. He ended his final dance with the song, “I’m Leaving Here a Better Man.” I’m sure he selected that carefully.

I’ve spent the last six months doing the work: weekly interviews, research online and reading books. Flippo stands pivotal in the history of square dancing, and I have had confirmation from many callers and square dance historians that this book needed to be written–I’m glad the muses chose me!

I’m collecting data to see if a hard back book is a viable option. Here’s your opportunity to pre-order the book, go here Pre-Order Flippo Book

Visit my web site for information about my other books: Larada’s Web site

Visit my Etsy shop for specials and some great Mother’s Day gift ideas: Larada’s Etsy Shop