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Darline Zipf
Born:  May 16, 1927

Darline Mae Lamoree was welcomed by her parents and brother and sister into the world in 1927 in Oceola, Nebraska, west of Omaha. Her musical career would not really take root until later in life when she got married. Let's take a look at how her life evolved to her musical interests.

In her early days, her father owned and operated a cattle transportation business until around 1931 or 1932. When Darline was five years old, her parents decided that perhaps farming was a better way of life. They moved to a farm located a few miles west of Genoa, Nebraska. They enrolled Darline in a country school.

Darline was tongue tied and one of her early memories is the pain she felt when they cut the cord under her tongue. This was the accepted procedure in that era to correct her condition and there was not much in the way of pain medicine to easer her discomfort.

One of Darline's early memories is her dad or brother bringing the battery from the family car into the house so the family could sit and listen to the radio programs of the day. The radio was limited in part by the battery power.

Times were not the best to start a farming life if one considers the era in USA history. It was also a period where droughts were challenging the farmers. Darline remembers one of her jobs was driving/herding the family livestock along the country roadside so the cattle could eat the grass that was always growing there. The drought years were harsh and families learned how to pinch pennies and adjust their efforts. Some of the only grass available for the cattle was along the side of the road. She remembers that she would sing really loud as they walked along and when they had their fill, they always just meandered home with her.

In 1942, her family moved to another farm northeast of Fullerton, Nebraska. This was where Darline met her future husband, Bob Zipf. Bob and his parents were members of the church that Darline's parents had joined. The church had a large youth group that would gather at hayrides, picnic lunches and there was also singing around the campfires.

The first instrument Darline learned to play was a harmonica but there was a man who played a push button accordion that had caught her attention. One day this man overheard Darline tell her mother that she thought she could play that thing. That man sent an accordion home with Darline that day and indeed, she did learn to play it.

One of Darline's fond memories from when she was singing and playing on the hayrides. She enjoyed the fact that there was always a boy sitting on each side of her and of course, she loved it.

Darline's interest in music was not limited to playing instruments and singing on those cattle travels. She was serious about it. And also became quite adept in the art of yodeling. When she thinks back to who was one of her early inspirations for her to learn to yodel, she gives that credit to one of her older sister's friends, Donna Bell Hayden.

Gathering 1981 - Patsy Montana; Darline Zipf Darline would hear Donna Bell yodel and she loved that sound; and, right then and there she knew she wanted to learn how to yodel as well. Everyone encouraged Darline to continue practicing her yodeling. Later in her life, she met the most famous female yodeler ever, the great Patsy Montana. Patsy encouraged her to persevere in her efforts. Over the years, Darline loved being able to call Patsy a very close friend.

Darline married Bob Zipf on July 28th 1945. In 1946 when Bob came home from the service, he bought Darline her own accordion. Over the next 20 years or more, Bob and Darline had five children and spent their time raising their family. Musically, they played at church picnics, family gatherings and such but had not tried playing at festival gatherings or similar venues.

After the kids were grown and had moved on, Darline was inspired to learn to play the guitar. It was 1977 when Bob and Darline began attending Bob Everhart's 'Old Time Country Music Festival' in Iowa.

When she began attending the festival, her aim was only to enter the talent contest portions of the festivals where she usually won by singing her old time songs accompanied by her harmonica and her button accordion.

Her husband, Bob, and Bob Everhart had known each other from childhood. Darline had also known Mr. Everhart since 1942 when her family moved to the farm near Fullerton.

Bob Everhart remembered the families would gather to play pinochle and that Darline would play her accordion and that he, (Bob Everhart) would play some piano chords and everyone would have a great time. Bob remembers that Darline's early career happened because of her great ability to play that old style button accordion music. At being all of four feet eleven inches tall, Darline made quite an impression on any audience that saw her on stage.

Eventually, Darline was through with the contests and found herself being asked to perform on the main stages of all of the festivals that she attended.

Around 1981, her husband Bob began playing the dobro. That would enable him to back up Darline on stage. He wanted to do something besides just sit in the audience. Bob became quite a fine dobro player. If you attend these festivals, chances are you would have found Bob and Darline Zipf right in the middle of the late night 'jam sessions' that are a fixture and popular at these events.

In 1981 they were part of the 'Old Time Radio Reunion' in Atlantic, Iowa where she met and became close friends with the legendary yodeler Patsy Montana. Their friendship lasted until Patsy's death in 1996. Patsy stayed at their home many times over the years. Bob and Darline would visit with Patsy at the midwest area festivals where they would have their camper or recreational vehicle. They also spent time with Patsy and her husband Paul at their home in Lakewood California.

In 1984 they were part of the great show at the Corn Husker Theatre in Louisville, Nebraska. One of her prouder moments occurred in 1989 — Darline won the Yodeling Contest at Avoca, Iowa.

In 1982 Darline released a cassette that featured her playing her accordion.

In 1990, Darline was asked to be one of the specially featured artists on the PBS show called 'Old Time Country Music'. This show ran for seven years and Darline Zipf was an instant hit with her old time accordion and the music she played.

In 1992, with the help and assistance of Tex and Mary Schutz, Darline along with her beloved husband Bob, released a cassette which features Darline singing, yodeling and playing some harmonica to some of the great old favorite tunes folks would always request her to sing on her shows. Tex Schutz plays all of the instruments that Darline and Bob didn't.

in 1998 Bob and Darline Zipf were featured on the first Traditional American Music and Dance Festival in Vienna Austria. This tour was headed up by Bob Everhart and they played to appreciative audiences.

But as the years go by, age begins to have its toll. Starting around 1999, both of them began to experience health problems that would curtail their travels and appearances.

Bob had a brain tumor removed and Darline had a few surgeries to remove cancerous growths.

Today, they are both in good spirits and still come to some of the festivals that are fairly close to their home in Columbus, Nebraska. Until very recently, Darline was appearing regularly at the senior centers and retirement and assisted living homes and she was always welcomed with open arms.

That brings back another favorite memory of Darline's. She remembers when she and Patsy Montana entertained at the area senior centers and she just smiles when she tells how Patsy Montana would stop for autographs and snapshots with every person there.

Credits & Sources

  • Hillbilly-Music.com wishes to express its appreciation to Janet McBride for sharing Darline Zipf's story with us.

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