Marshall Flippo · My Thoughts · square dance · Travel

Marshall Flippo, an International Sensation!

Flippo, Neeca and Prince Mikasa. International
Flippo, Neeca and Prince Mikasa of Japan

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.
Calling schedule in Japan - International

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.

Germany

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.)

England

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?”

“No.”

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.

Cruises

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.

Finally

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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Costa Rica · Ireland & England · My Thoughts · Scotland · Spain · Travel

World Explorer—Why I do it!

World traveler

World exploring and its wonders! Souvenirs, pictures, reminisces of fun-filled travels remind me daily of my experiences in this big beautiful world. Because of the pandemic, we canceled our travel plans for later in 2020 and have nothing planned for 2021. So today, I wondered why I love to travel so much. The packing and planning put many people off, but I enjoy every part of a trip.

I grew up in a small rural ranching community fifty miles from the nearest doctor and grocery store. I lived in a small town though, but the world out there seemed so big and unattainable, beyond the prairies and canyons of southeastern Colorado. Granddad Horner subscribed to the National Geographic magazine, and I thumbed through each issue, mesmerized by that world out there and its mysteries. I blushed at the foreign women’s bare chests, yet yearned to see that world.

Granddad and Grandma Horner took annual vacations touring the United States, and I relished their slide show of pictures from places I dreamed about in the United States—the Grand Canyon, Bullhead City and so much more.

My dad, a high school graduate and world thinker, read voraciously and kept educated about world matters so much so I gave him a globe for Christmas one year so he could find that faraway country he’d read about.

Little girl pointing at a world globe
Little girl holding index finger on Earth globe

So, I inherited a large worldview, bigger than Colorado, bigger than the United States. My first husband and I discovered Mexico: Mazatlán and the Yucatan peninsula in the 70s, when tourist hadn’t discovered both areas yet. When I saw my first Mayan Indian ruin, I felt captivated by the mystery, and I was hooked.

After we divorced, I traveled with a girlfriend back to the Yucatan peninsula to see many more Mayan Indian ruins and then on to Tikal in Guatemala, the Mecca of Mayan Indian ruins to me.

Then in 1999, Mom and I took our first European trip to do an Eastern Europe tour, basically to find her lost grandfather who had immigrated into the United States, but we had no record of his entrance here. That trip opened me up to a larger world—the wonders of eastern Europe with so many historical sites and cities.

In Berlin, we looked in a phone book for Mom’s granddad’s last name, Ulbig, and found several names listed. Neither of us spoke enough German to call any of our possible relatives. So, we tore that page out of the phone book, and that became Mom’s favorite souvenir of our trip. I cried during our tour of Auschwitz, the infamous concentration camp, a horrible example of man’s inhumanity against man. I will never forget that sight.

In 2001, my third husband and I drove the Can-American highway in our RV to Alaska. What an adventure that was! We saw Denali, Alaska’s tallest mountain, usually shrouded in clouds. We took a small airplane ride up to a glacier and walked around on it, surrounded by absolute white.

During our years together, we toured the United States in an RV, dancing and sightseeing all over the United States. We went up the west coast in 2003, promoting a national festival. We traveled to the Midwest and east—so many adventures.

In 2007, I joined the cruising world doing an inside passage tour to Alaska on a square dance cruise. I feel in love with cruising.

My present husband and I love to travel and see the world. We have taken several cruises—what a relaxing vacation they are. On one, we went through the Panama Canal and marveled at that amazing engineering feat.

In 2017, we traveled to England and Ireland. Lin drove in both countries and we had a delightful time. In Ireland, we saw the Cliffs of Moher, enjoyed dancing in Irish pubs and enjoyed staying in bed and breakfasts. While visiting England, we based ourselves in London, alternating between a tour one day and a free day the next. In London, we visited the British Museum, realizing we could have spend days there. We saw Stonehenge on a tour but were so rushed; I didn’t buy one souvenir there. We saw a Broadway play, Les Misérables, on the West End, and Lin vowed never to attend a play in the USA again since the production was so outstanding.

In January 2020, we went to Costa Rica with my husband, Lin’s ex-wife who is Costa Rican. The group was small, only twelve! She knew everyone in the group; we knew her, her husband and one other couple. Lin had told me repeatedly he wanted me to see Costa Rica. We had stopped at a Costa Rican port on one of our cruises, but his ex-wife shuddered when he told her where. She said it wasn’t a great example of Costa Rica. On our tour with her, we saw animals galore, ate delicious food and saw many gorgeous sites. I saw a quetzal bird in the jungle, a bird I had heard about thirty years before on the Yucatan peninsula.

At the end of February 2020, we went to Spain with twelve square dance friends and fell in love with Spain. We saw several major Spanish cities, starting in Barcelona and ending up in Madrid. We traveled through Don Quixote land, and I could see him mounted on his trusty stead, Rocinante, a long side his trusty companion, Sancho Panza.

So why do I enjoy traveling so much? I love seeing that world Granddad and Dad introduced me to so many years ago. When I stand at a site like Strafford-on-the Avon, Shakespeare’s home, I can’t believe this little country girl is there. The tour guide hugged me there as I cried. She remarked, “I wish all people responded like you.”

In my travels, the big world has shrunk, because I now know people in Scotland, Ireland and England. We sat and chatted, and I realized we have the same hopes and dreams—we’re really all the same.

In March of this year, Lin got a little cabin fever and had received several brochures promoting cruises next year. So, we signed up for two cruises in 2022 and one for 2023. The first one next year is a Transatlantic cruise going from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to Barcelona, Spain. Our next one goes through the Mediterranean. And in 2023, we travel to Japan.

In conclusion, I travel to discover what’s out there—my dad used to look at a side dirt road going up over a hill and out of view. He always commented, “I wonder where that goes!” Obviously, I inherited his wanderlust, but he never traveled outside the United States, so I do it for him.

Do you like to travel? What is your favorite travel memory? Why do you travel? (Scroll down below to make a comment!)


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Coronavirus · My Thoughts · poetry

What Is Self-Care?

Two more poems reflect my feelings about the coronavirus and self-care and how we narrowly escaped Spain’s outbreak about a month ago! We could still be there!

In recovery, we talk often about self-care: measures we do to take of body, mind and soul. For me, usually I enjoy regular routines of dancing, exercising and associating with people. I also find alone time, my Quiet Time, to recharge my spirit and soul.

This coronavirus pandemic has disrupted my social and active practices and has taken self-care to a new level, adding unusual routines to my life: shelter-in-place and follow our governor’s guidelines and more. As I pondered this early in April, self-care took on a different meaning.

Self-Care

April 3, 2020

A mask
            A Bandanna
                        Social distance
                                    Space
                                                Wash my hands singing the Doxology
                                                                  Stay home
 
Self-care for
            The coronavirus
 
But what about
            My spirit
                        My soul
 
A Quiet Time
            Solace
                        Time Alone with my God
Words exchange
            Thoughts shared
 
Prayer—
            Silence
                        Solemn
                                    Desperate today
 
An ancient tradition
            Praying the Rosary
                        Repetition
                        Veneration of
                                    Mary
                                    Jesus
                                    God, the Father
                        Meditation
                                    Staying in the moment
 
I yearn for my God
            I seek him daily!
 
Who am I
            Without Him?
Who am I
            With Him?
 
An obedient girl child
            A rebellious teenager
                        A maniac in my twenties
                                    Heart-broken
                                              Destroyed by my first divorce
 
A recovered woman
            A struggling middle-aged woman
                        A desperate 50-year-old
                                    A grief-stricken 60-year-old
                                                A serene 66-year-old crone
In love with my life
            Before the coronavirus!
 
Today
            I avoid crowds
                        I wear a mask
                                    And you can’t shame me out of it
                                                I move away from you
                                                            For social distancing
           
When I take care of myself,
            I take care of you!
                        Remember that when you see
                                    Me in a mask!

I’ve taken this shelter-in-place time to go deep inside and wonder about this world and all the possibilities. We left Spain on March 8, and the virus exploded there the next day. Had we left there a couple days later, we could still be there—think about that one! Here’s my poem dealing with that:

Tomorrow is a Month

April 7, 2020

 Thirty-one days
        Since we left
                        Coronavirus-stricken Madrid
                                    And Spain
 We left on March 8th;
            It exploded there the 9th.
 
Thirty-one days of
            Holding my breath
            Self-examination
                        By the minute
            Self-diagnosis
                        Daily
            Self-screening
                        Repeatedly
 
Washing hands
            washing hands
                        washing hands!
 
A throat tickle
            Sore throat
                         Diarrhea
            Cough
Is it the virus?
            Dread and anxiety gripped me
 
Two weeks of
            Self-quarantine
Desperate not to share it
            If I had it.
 
Dances cancelled
            CALLERLAB cancelled
                        Life cancelled!
 
After two weeks
            A sigh
                        Maybe we made it
Yet. . .
 
Incubation period
            2 — 14 days
                        maybe 27
 
Oh, my God!
 
Shelter-in-place
            Nothing new
                        No new symptoms
 
After two weeks,
            Out of the house for the first time
                        For a prescription and groceries
Panic and fear
            People six-feet apart
                        at the drug store
                                    Safe yet foreign
            People too close to me
                        In the grocery store
                                    Claustrophobic
 
Malted Easter Eggs lured me in
            Impulse buying
                        No, it’s Easter time
                                    I always buy them at Easter
                                                Normal routine
Two bags
            I wolfed down one whole bag
                        immediately
                                    And gained three pounds!
 
Remedy to grocery shopping
            Senior time slot
                        Early in the morning
                                    Safer
                                                Respectful of distance
                                                            Less people
Still washing hands
            disinfecting the bags
                        the Jeep
                                   the steering wheel
                                                the knobs
EVERTYTHING!
 
Watching my husband, Lin, closely
            Fear gripped my heart
Both of us have had health issues
            the last couple years
 
Three weeks gone
            Another sigh of relief
 
Yet in the back of my mind
            And heart
Will it happen?
            Will it sneak up and attack
                        when I least expect it?
 
Tomorrow I will breathe
            Celebrate
                        Relax
                                    Praise God!
 
But today,
            I am still apprehensive
                        Not sure
                                    Wondering?
 
God protect us!

Have you used this time allotted us to look inside and seek yourself and God in a new way? I’ve relished that opportunity, as sad as it has been. What are your thoughts about self-care and this virus? When will it end? Will we ever get back to normal?


~DO YOU WANT AN PERSONALLY AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF THE FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY?   It’s available NOW! I am experiencing a delay from the publishers—sorry about that! Go to my website and pay for it there: https://www.laradasbooks.com

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Dancing · Marshall Flippo · My Thoughts · square dance

Marshall Flippo’s Success–Luck or Not?

A Young Marshall Flippo

In one of our last interviews for Marshall Flippo’s biography, I asked him, “I have a question: if I was to ask you to describe yourself, how would you describe yourself?”

His short response, “Don’t ask me!” His humorous response made me laugh again, like so many times during these interviews. His sharp sense of humor caught me off guard regularly.

After a moment, he answered with a chuckle, “A little short squirt with lots of luck! That’s about it!”

         This topic tickled him and he added, “A little short squirt—after all, a lot of people didn’t know me when I had hair, but, anyway, a little short squirt with lots of luck!” I complimented him on his concise description but wondered about it. I have mused over it for months now.

         Flippo often referenced this thought about how lucky he was in relationship to all his life, not just his calling life and added, “I was at the right spot at the right time!”

         When Flip shared about his Navy assignments, he felt he was lucky to a “Baker and Cook” in the first couple years, and then to play baseball his last two years. When Flippo described his hitchhiking experiences between San Diego and Abilene after Basic Training, he felt it was luck that got him considerate people who picked him and his friend, Thurman Curry, up and helped them out so much.

         He often referred to himself as “the luckiest man in the world” to marry Neeca and praised her frugal nature and scheduling genius to make his calling career so successful.

         Standing back and looking at Flippo’s successful calling career, the threads of cause and effect weave their way through, but was it all luck?

         Neeca and Flip started square dancing in 1951, and he began calling in 1952 in a chicken coup, at a time there wasn’t much recorded calling. So, he agreed to be one of several dancers to memorize a song and call it. From this agreement, his career sprung and he started calling regularly.

         Calling careers, though, aren’t made overnight, so Flippo persisted. In 1957, two callers from Houston stopped by his dance in Abilene and heard him do “The Auctioneer,” a popular song at the time recorded by Leroy VanDyke. They suggested he connect with Norman Merrbach in Houston who owned Blue Star Records to record this song.

         So, he called Norman. When Norman heard the title of the song, he told Flip that callers wouldn’t like it because it had too many words to say. Flip let it go, and a few months later received another phone call from Norman saying, “Let’s record it!” They did and were able to do it on the first take, and his career took off from that one lucky phone call and visit from two strangers.

Kirkwood Lodge in Osage Beach, Missouri

         His luck continued that year. A bus driver who happened to drive graduating seniors to a resort in the Lake of the Ozark’s area, Kirkwood Lodge for their senior trips, stopped by one night in Abilene. Flip and Neeca were told: “Throughout the season, they square danced as the majority activity at this resort,” and the bus driver suggested Neeca and Flippo go.

         This was a turning point in Flip’s square dance career: they were getting burned out on square dancing and considered quitting, but this vacation became one of the luckiest trips they ever made. They went and had a great time, and returned for several years. In 1961 Flippo became the resident staff caller at Kirkwood Lodge for six months out the year. He did this for 42 years—a solid career choice and quite lucky, wouldn’t you say?

         His 42-year tour schedule became the next lucky piece of the puzzle. Visiting dancers coming to Kirkwood would ask Flippo to come to their hometown and call a dance or festival. Neeca managed this growing list and sizeable schedule and put together synchronized tours after Kirkwood’s six-month season that began in October. He went north, east, south and home for Christmas. After time home in Abilene, Texas, Flippo started the new year going through the Midwest, then back home, west, and back to Kirkwood to start the new season there in April.

         The backbone of these tours and his success lay in repeated weekend and week-long festivals that continued for thirty and forty years! At one time in his career, it took a club nine years to have Flippo call for them!

         Also from Kirkwood, Flippo became an international success, gaining fans across the seas. He toured Japan, Germany, Spain and England because of foreign dancers’ time at Kirkwood with Flip. Again, they wanted dancers back home to experience square dance Flippo-style!

         Another piece of the puzzle for Flippo’s success stemmed from the network of friends he made in the calling and dancing worlds. He treated people fairly which made him a Godsend to dance organizers. He connected deeply with many callers—so many that when we started this project of his biography, he wanted to tell stories on all his caller friends, and he dictated a list to me—he named 67 callers he wanted to tell a story about for the book. I’m sorry to say that we can’t include all of them because of size restraints.

Flippo’s calling career spanned sixty-four years. He recorded 100’s of records for several recording labels and he traveled extensively!

         Luck? Being at the right place at the right time? I don’t know about you, but I disagree with Flip. Yes, luck did have a hand in it. He flourished at a time when square dancing was in its heyday—he recalled easily that an event had 40 or 50 squares! But I’ve danced to him for years, and I enjoyed his choreography, his Burma Shave jingles he interwove in the patter and his friendly nature.

         All of our lives are about choices we make and how this choice today affects what happens tomorrow and the next day, unfolding into a life time. Flippo succeeded because he made some choices which like a domino effect, tumbled to the next success which tumbled to the next one! Yet, at the core of his success: he was in high demand because he was who he was–Marshall Flippo!