Saturday, September 27, 2008

The U. B. Youth Program



I went outside and whistled up my dog,
I’m goin’ on the hill and kill an old groundhog.


Bill Barnett had cleared his throat twice before beginning his famous groundhog song which he was singing in the musical part of the United Brethren Youth Sunday School class program. Everybody, especially the members of his Youth Sunday School class, got a kick of the lyrics and Bill’s comedic delivery of the catchy song.

The church was full. Young people with bright eyes and eager faces were scattered throughout the church pews. Their proud parents beamed with pride as the youth group took their places for one of their parts in the program.



Left, above: Some of the young people at the Orlando E. U. B. Church in the 1950s.
Front Row: Betty Riffle, Jake Riffle, Louie Mae Beckner
Second Row: Eugene Parrish, Mary Ann Wiant, Doris Riffle
Third Row: Patsy Morrison, Max Hamilton, Jimmy Morrison

Back Row: Roy Stout, possibily Bill Barnett, Berton “Bud” Conrad
.
.
Preacher Charles Parrish and Naomi Parrish
In the late 1940’s and early 1950’s, the United Brethren Church in Orlando was humming with activity. Preacher Parrish and his wife Naomi actively and creatively involved the young people of the church in church-related activities. The Parrish family had arrived in Orlando in September 1947 from Belington. Their son Eugene who was very musically inclined and talented became immediately popular with all the young people in Orlando and later at Burnsville where he served as the charismatic drum major of the excellent Burnsville High School band. Reverend Parrish was fortunate to find excellent youth leadership in the church upon his arrival in Orlando.


Left: Some of the congregation in front of the church.
Right: Preacher & Mrs. Parrish
.
.


Bill Barnett
A church couldn’t ask for a better youth Sunday School teacher than Bill Barnett, who always had time, both in word and deed, for the activities of his Sunday School class. “Betty (Riffle) Stout said, “He was a natural teacher for teenagers.” Everybody loved Billy Barnett,” effused Millie McNemar in recalling all of the activities of her Sunday school class. “He just didn’t tell us what to do, he jumped right in and participated himself.” Perhaps from concern for Bill’s senior citizen status, Mildred noted that “He even climbed all the way up the steep hill behind Brown’s Store for the class picnic.”


Right: Bill Barnett
Left: Maggie Hamilton
.
.
Maggie Hamilton
The youngest daughter of Bud and Georgia Hamilton, Maggie Hamilton, a 1952 graduate Burnsville High School, was also very talented and involved in youth activities at the Orlando United Brethren Church. A take-charge girl, Maggie directed many of the Christmas and Easter pageants which were presented by the youth Sunday school class of the United Brethren Church.
.
.
Christmas Pageants
Berton “Bud” Conrad recalls the fun times of being a teenager in Orlando, especially around the Christmas holidays when the Orlando Mt. Zion Methodist Church and the Orlando United Brethren Church would join forces for the annual Christmas pageant. Bud remembers that the Christmas play always took place at the Methodist church because it was easier to get to in the winter and there was adequate parking. Bud believes that Ford and Bea (Bosely) Brown also had a hand in the direction of the Christmas play. In the portrayal of the three wise men, the program director would call upon the taller men in the community, such as Bill Barnett, Bill Beckner, and Claud Mick, to don the colorful robes and present the gold, frankincense and myrrh. Bud remembers his youth church group as “not very large, but very active.”



Right: 3 Wise Men: Bill Barnett, Bill Beckner, and Claud Mick.



Easter
“I played Barabbas,” said Bud Conrad in recalling the Easter play which the youth group produced during one Easter season. Bill Barnett’s youth Sunday school class enjoyed the Easter season also for the opportunity to portray the significant Biblical event and the array of the cast of characters involved in the crucifixion and resurrection. Doris (Riffle) Snyder recalls that frequently both the Methodist and United Brethren churches would combine for the Easter program as well and perform first in one church and then the other. There was never any “interdenominational squabbling,” Doris remarked, “we all got along well.”


Right: Orlando's young Barabbas: Bud Conrad

.
.
Other Programs, Activities and Reminisces
“Oh, we would finish one program and start to work on another,” said Doris (Riffle) Snyder. “We had programs for father’s day, mother’s day, Thanksgiving, Easter, Christmas.” The Orlando United Brethren Church seemed to have the right formula for creating interest in the church for the young people of the community. The many programs created by the youth Sunday school class not only brought the young people to church but also adults from other denominations. Homer Wilfong also recalled the days of the United Brethren Sunday school class. “We had lots of enjoyable experiences. They were fun times.”


Right: Homer Wilfong
.
.
Camp Evan Breth
Camp Evan Breath in Upshur County was another summer activity for the youth of Bill Barnett’s Sunday school class. Located near Buckhannon, this church camp sponsored by the United Brethren Church was looked forward to by the youth of the Orlando church. Doris Riffle recalled that the church was a great opportunity for Orlando youth to meet kids from other places and to just be away from home for a week. The camp was sold by the United Methodist Church after the merger of the Methodist and United Brethren denominations as superfluous and is now a golf course.
..
.
Hikes and Picnics
Bill Barnett's Sunday school class enjoyed hikes and picnics every summer. Doris (Riffle) Snyder recalls the long climb up the hill behind Brown’s Store and the enjoyment of a picnic on the large rock which is located on the top of the hill. “Martha and Homer Wilfong would bring hot roasting ears in a metal bucket,” Doris said about the picnic food. “Everything was delicious.”


Right: The hill behind Brown's store is in the upper right corner. The 3 story building in the center is the (now 2 story) warehouse. This photo was taked 20 or 30 years before the youth hiked the hill for their picnic.


Bud Conrad recalls one hike the group took on the hill behind the United Brethren Church. Bud remembers a large apple orchard through which the group passed on the way. He was also impressed with the cave-like features of the rocks at the very top of the hill.
.
.
A Scary Weiner Roast
Doris (Riffle) Snyder also recall that someone built a barbeque pit near the church and that the youth Sunday school group would have weiner roasts at night. Doris also recalls a happening one dark, moonless night, after a weiner roast when the kids were returning home and going off the hill. The way home passed by Mike Moran’s old horse drawn hearse which he kept in his yard. As the homeward-bound kids drew near the hearse, frightful moaning sounds came from out of the hearse, causing panic among the timid. “They were terrible sounds,” Doris said. “We were really frightened.” The next day, Doris felt somewhat sure that the ogres of the night were Lee Paul and Joe Eddie Moran.
.
.
Women Don’t Know How to Sweep a Floor
Betty Riffle also recalls that the youth group decided as a project to scrub and re-oil the floor of the church. Betty recalls that Jake Riffle and Eugene Parrish were the only boys involved in the project and all the rest were girls who were well-versed in the art of housekeeping. As she was sweeping the floor, she recalls that Jake Riffle took her broom and told her that she “didn’t know how to wield a broom and that he would show her how.” Needless to say, Jake was out of his league.

.
.
“Our House was His House”
“We were really a very close knit group,” recalled Eugene Parrish. “Roy Lee Stout was dating Betty Riffle and he would come over to the parsonage after a date with Betty or after a program and spend the night. He spent many a night in the parsonage,” said Eugene, “and the same can be said with Jake Riffle who was a frequent guest in the parsonage. Jake had lost both his parents early, and “our house was his house,” said Eugene.
.
.
Hill Climbs, Song Services and Egg Hunts
Every Sunday, Eugene recalls, Bill Barnett would lead his Sunday school class up the hill above the church and have testimony and song service. “They could hear us all over town,” Eugene remembered. “Bill, on every Easter, would hide Easter eggs at his house and the Sunday school class would go over and search for the eggs.” “Those were very good years. Bill was really a nice person.”

.
.
Making Music

Betty (Riffle) Stout recalls that sometimes the youth group would just meet and pop popcorn and sit on the porch of the parsonage and sing. “Eugene was so musically talented. He had a great voice and could play any instrument.” Betty recalls that Eugene would sometimes get into trouble with his mother because he would add a little boogie to a gospel tune. Betty recalls that Eugene ’s mother Naomi caught him doing his variations on a gospel tune and chastised Eugene, saying “If the music had been meant to be played that way, it would have been written that way.”
.
.
The Bells
Betty (Riffle) Stout, Millie (Morrison) McNemar and Eugene Parrish particularly enjoyed being members of the church quartet along with Roy Stout. Louie Mae Beckner. joined the quartet when Millie left to get married. Eugene's mother Naomi Parrish organized and coached the quartet which often was called upon during the Christmas season to sing during the holiday festivities. Millie recalls that the foursome, being young, could reach the high notes that the elderly ladies and men of the choir would miscarry. Millie also recalls that the quartet sang in other churches in the area and as far away as Copen. Eugene remembers, “The Bells was our name, which was composed of the first letter of the names of the members except for Roy Lee and we used his middle name. The “B” was for Betty Riffle who sang soprano, the “e” for Eugene Parrish who sang bass, the “l” for Louie Mae Beckner who sang alto, the other “l” for Roy Lee Stout who sang tenor. The “s” was for my mother Naomi, whose nickname was “Snook.” Eugene couldn’t remember all of the churches the group sang for but “there were several.” “We also sang for funerals,” Eugene noted. Millie Morrison recalls that one sad experience of the group was singing at the funeral of Donnie Goodwin who died at the age of eight from polio. Donnie was the son of Wilbert and Lucille Goodwin and grandson of Dave and Maysell (Parmer)Bennett.
.
.

A State-Wide Band Contest
Commenting on his participation in the Burnsville High School band, Eugene recalls that in the West Virginia High School State Contest for drum majors he placed fourth state-wide which was quite an accomplishment, given the number of high schools in the state at that time in all classes. Eugene also noted that Orlando’s other Betty Riffle who lived on the hill behind the Methodist Church also was a participant in the state contest as a twirler and did well.
.
.
Happy Times
Nearly sixty years have passed since the group of young teenagers featured in this story was a part of the Orlando United Brethren youth Sunday school class. To a person, the memories which flowed back to them were positive and uplifting. All had fond memories of their friends, many of whom are now deceased. Perhaps the description given by Eugene Parrish of the group as being “close knit” is apropos of the opinion of them all. The Orlando United Brethren Church taught them well and they all are the better for it.


. . . . .



Comment by Millie (Morrison) McNemar
Bill Barnett, our Sunday School teacher, couldn’t understand why the girls in our Sunday school class snickered and whispered during the Sunday school lesson. He probably thought that “girls will be girls,” and mild-mannered that he was, did not reprimand us for our seemingly impertinent conduct. I’m sure that he went home puzzled by our “out of ordinary” behavior.

Now it can be told. Prior to the Sunday school class beginning, Bill had bent over to pick up something and his shirt raised above his belt level, exposing the top of his red polka dot boxer shorts !!!!!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Post a Comment