Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Vacation Bible School

Anna Faber was a girl from Fairmont, WV who grew up during the depression. Anna visited Orlando twice and never forgot it. Her daughter Jill Landis shares her her mother's experience and her own experience of Orlando.

by Jill Landis

My dad, Rev. Harold Sturm, (age 84) asked that I write to ask if anyone recalls the following -

Major and Sylvia Knight arranged for my teenaged mother, Anna Faber and friend, Wilma Kennedy, to lead Vacation Bible School in Orlando. They did so in 1948.

The following year, my mother returned as a new bride, Mrs. Anna Sturm. Along with my dad, the team led Bible School in a school building, with the program held on a Friday night at the EUB Church.

My parents traveled in music and church work for a few years in West Virginia before my dad entered college and seminary in Ohio in the early 1950's.

Left: Anna Faber on Oil Creek Road on a rainy day in 1948.
Right: Anna and Harold on their first wedding anniversary

With my mom's passing last summer, I have endeavored to write a "story a day" about her on the "annalog" wordpress website. The following were recent entries:

March 19
Orlando, WV
In summer of 1996, while my husband’s employer demanded nonstop work, my boys and I enjoyed some back road West Virginia trips with my parents. They took us on a “pilgrimage,” telling stories of the churches where they ministered and places they stayed shortly after they were married.

The most intriguing was Orlando, WV. Since the boys had recently enjoyed a trip to Disneyworld (courtesy grandma and grandpa), they were “all about” a trip to Orlando, West Virginia.

Several miles down a rugged gravel road, safety conscious Nathan suggested that Grandpa turn his Buick around and head back to the main road. Seven-year-old Kevin found the jerking and jarring to be just as great as an Disney ride, while my mom voiced great concern about the “Buick’s bottom” falling out.
All passengers then focused on Anna’s concern about the Buick’s bottom falling out, which, by the way, never did.

We finally arrived at a rural Bed and Breakfast, once the home of Major and Sylvia Knight, who housed my parents when they led Vacation Bible School in Orlando in 1949.

[The Bed & Breakfast would have been the Kilmarnock Farm, which Bob and Ann Craven of New England purchased from Major and Sylvia Knight. -ed]
Above left is a recent photo of that home where the author Jill Landis and her family stayed, and where her parents had stayed in the 1940s.
Left: Anna and Harold on the 50th wedding anniversary.

March 20
Orlando Prequel
Known for chronicling corresponding stories on the backs of her photographs, my mom wrote the following information (picture was of my nineteen year old mom carrying her shoes and wearing a wet dress).

“In Orlando, W.Va. - A Sunday Morning and I waded a flooded creek bed and walked four miles to church (not the building where Harold and I later conducted Bible School which was a seven mile walk).

On my return home I not only waded in deep water but got caught in a rainstorm. The sky looks stormy. I look wet.

I think I am standing in the road of ruts where Harold and I tried to ride bicycles the next year, but didn’t succeed. Wilma (friend) said she would walk with me. She also waded and got wet.”

Right: Mt Zion Methodist Church, the church which was about seven miles from the Knights' home on Clover Fork. where Harold and Anna conducted Bible School in 1949.

Readers: Please post your comments by clicking on "comments" below left,
or e-mail them to . Thanks!

an e-mail from Pat Reckart:
"I do remember someone staying at Mage Knight's and teaching Bible school. I remember going to one at the school and the teacher asked us what we had for breakfast and most of the kids said eggs, toast and juice, and I was too embarrassed to say biscuits and applesauce so I said I had the same as the other kids."

Left and Right: Pat (Morrison) Reckart
Note 1: From her daughter Jill, more about the life of Anna Sturm, a girl from Fairmont, WV whose vocation brought her to Orlando two ordinary but unforgetable summers in the 1940s.
"... My mother’s life began in the hills of West Virginia. Her family was poor; however, my mother was unaware of this. In fact she thought she they were rich because home was so much fun.

"Her family lived near a river and the railroad tracks. She loved swimming in the river.

"When the train whistle blew, my mom and her siblings (her sister Martha is here today) ran to the tracks and yelled their requests for CARBON PAPER to the conductor. My mom loved it whenever he threw it to them from the back of the caboose.

"One day when she invited a friend to her house, the friend told her that she was not permitted to visit because Anna lived in the bad section of town. That was my mother’s first realization that she was poor.

"My mother was a model student and loved school, She was voted most outstanding student.

"As she entered adolescence, she developed a passion to learn to play the piano, so she started praying. When Anna told her godly Baptist mother of her prayer request, she was cautioned not to build up her hopes.

"When Christmas arrived someone left toys on the porch for the family. In that stack of toys was a miniature piano. My mother quickly mastered the three octave keyboard and could only imagine how full the music would sound if she had more octaves on either side of middle C.

"The old table on which her little piano sat is down front here today.

"My mom continued to secretly pray to learn to play, but had no money for lessons. In her prayer she always added, “Lord if I learn to play, I’ll play for you.”

"When she entered West VA Bible College, one of the directors was a concert pianist. Unaware of my mother’s request, she asked my mother if she would lead back yard Bible clubs. Unable to reimburse my mother monetarily, the instructor said that she would give her piano lessons instead. Well, she learned, and stayed true to her pact with God.

"My parents were married in 1949 and began their adventure in the music ministry, traveling on the road serving the Lord through song, piano, trumpet and also accordion, which my mother played when a church had no piano.

"Danny came along, and the three continued traveling, with a little trailer in tow. As Danny got a little older, my mother desired to establish a home where he could feel secure, but she didn’t want to tell my dad, because he loved their traveling adventures.

"While serving in a revival, here at Mills Memorial, they stayed in the master bedroom of the parsonage (my former home just up the street). After an evening service, in the master bedroom, my mother told my dad that she needed to talk with him; surprisingly, he said the same.

"My dad began by telling my mother that he realized she loved the work they were in, but he was heavily sensing the call of God to be a pastor. Imagine their delight when each discovered how God had perfectly timed this meeting.

"When I was eight, we traveled to Washington D.C. where I visited the Smithsonian American History Museum. I thought that was where my mother belonged because she was so special, one of a kind.

"There was no limit to my mother’s creativity, quick wit, music ability, and love for everyone, most of all, my dad. She was something like Martha Stuart, before it was in vogue to be a homemaking titan. My mom made home such a warm, wonderful and fun place to be.

"She liked to get creative in the kitchen and once announced that each evening she would prepare a new recipe. Her enthusiasm was squelched one Saturday night, when we refused to eat her Sauerkraut Cake, which fell in the middle.

"I once won first place in the town’s Halloween costume contest when I wore a long pleated evening gown, sewn by my mom, from the local newspaper. She was amazing.

"For one Christmas she cleverly disguised our gifts, keeping us from correctly guessing what was in any package. One week before Christmas, she placed a Christmas pig under the tree – its body wrapped in red paper, with stubby legs and snout covered with foil. Danny and I looked for hours at the Christmas pig trying to guess what was inside. On Christmas day the pig was presented to Danny. Inside of an old Lincoln Log canister was a new pair of pajamas.

"When my mother tried to teach us table manners, she decided to let each of us take turns being the guest at our own home. For four consecutive Tuesdays, each of us took turns being “the guest.” Not only did we learn how to treat a guest, we got to be treated like a guest. I’ll never forget standing at my front door, ringing the bell and being welcomed inside by my family.

"As an only daughter, I spent a lot of time with my mom doing the dishes. We always began our conversation by laughing and sharing witticisms; however it always seemed that she seized these teachable moments by concluding with a life lesson.

"At her knee, I learned to value integrity. She spoke to me constantly about it, and about doing the right thing, and that whenever possible, not to permit wrong to prevail and to stick up for the little guy.

"As all of you know, my mother loved to write. She wrote all the time, journaling even the smallest events of the day

"She was organized and meticulous. She read the Bible through several times, one time she did it in nine days."
- from the Memorial Service program as "reflections."
by Anna's daughter Jill (Sturm) Landis

Note 2: Taken from "Annalog"

taken from Annalog, Jill Landis' tribute to her mom
posted July 28, 2008

My House by Anna Sturm
I love my house, it’s good to me
It plays its band when I am blue
The bathtub is ringleader
The alarm clock gives the starting cue
The cookbook gives right timing
The front door gives the key
The yardstick gives a measure
And the teakettle sings for me
The water pipes add some drumming
The doorbell adds the chime
The mailbox furnishes all the notes
For this household band of mine.


  1. I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


  2. It is my honor today, whilst we attend a professional conference "Wonders of Water", to sit next to Anna's daughter, Jill, who I shall hereafter refer to as "The Author". As I read about Anna and her jaunt across the creek, and then glimpse upon The Author, I cannot help but think "The apple does not fall far from the tree". Or perhaps it would be best said, "The tributary does not lead far from the creek". Anna may be gone, but thankfully the faithful pen of The Author can not be stilled.

  3. I remember "Vacation Bible School" well. Grandma made sure my sister and I attended. I distintly remember the church on the hill, I never knew it's name before.