Saturday, August 1, 2009

Marvin Shilling

Head south out of Pueblo, turn right at Walsenburg, and you’ll come to La Veta, Colorado—population 882.

Situated on the eastern side of La Veta Pass through the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, at the northern opening of the Cuchara River Valley, you’d never expect to find one of the kings of square dance callin’ – Marvin Shilling.

Shilling ran the Lightning S Guest Ranch in town, a popular tourist destination for city slickers wanting to play cowboy. The facility also served as a Huerfano County hot spot, with dances held throughout the year.

Bow and Swing - June, 1960

A savvy businessman, Shilling recorded not only himself, but close to 20 different callers on more than 60 records on his Lightning S label.



The June, 1960 issue of Bow and Swing describes "Rocky Mt. Dew" as "a singing call, with a continuous do-paso ending in a promenade with the right hand lady." He sold the record for $1.45.

While Colorado was Shilling’s home base, he would regularly gas up his private plane and fly himself to dances across the country, where his calling was always in demand.

Bow and Swing - December, 1957

Shilling died October 25, 1962 when the plane, of which he was piloting, crashed while on his way to call a dance in Nebraska.

COMING NEXT POST: What does Warren Beatty have to do with one Pueblo 45?

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