Remember When: Remembering the Tryon First Baptist Church Choir, circa 1962

Published 8:00 am Friday, March 16, 2018

I found this photo while looking in my computer for something else, as usual.

The fine folks pictured here were also busy, when not “making a joyful noise” to our Lord in Tryon’s First Baptist Church, making “Our Area” (with a nod to my Bulletin colleague, the late Bob Witty) a better place for everyone to live. These people also loomed large in my continued upbringing, and I am happy to write a few words celebrating their lives.

All of them have now gone to their reward.

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I don’t remember Charles Walker or Charlene Eison very well now, but I knew more about them back then.

Fred Powell was the older brother of my best friend Davey. When he married one of the prettiest girls I knew, Louise Arledge, I attended their wedding — my first. Fred was a renowned Sunday School teacher, and he invited me to fill in for him when he had to be away, an honor I fulfilled with some trepidation. It prepared me to accept a teaching position in my church in Hampton, Virginia.

Jo Fortune Williams was ahead of me in school, but I liked her. Ellen Daniels was the church secretary; she came in when I played the church’s grand piano for a few friends. I overheard her comment that “he sure plays softly, for a man.”

I had worked so hard to be able to produce a credible pianissimo when required by the music. I suppose my fortissimos seemed to Ellen more like fortes.

Julia Brady was a faithful alto voice with near perfect attendance. Polly Scruggs also sang faithfully, even led the choir between paid directors. Elmina Wages taught physical education and even art sometimes at Tryon High, but was best known for taking the juniors and seniors on their annual camping trip; ours to Camp Ton-A-Wanda. Miss Wages was always making sure that we all had fun, managing somehow to teach me to square dance.

Ruth Wilson had a lovely soprano voice and sang solos often. Coline Rippy Goodwin was my mother, and surprised us all when she joined the hand bell choir when attending son Bill’s church in San Diego. Julia Brock always reminded me of my grandmother Goodwin, as both wore their hair in waves, put there by a permanent and kept in place with hairpins.

Susan Fortner was always cheerful, seemed to be happy, in spite of her lifelong afflictions that could have made her a bitter bearer of her fate. R.B. Scruggs bought Andrews Furniture and kept it going under the same name for many years, providing fine home furnishings for many Tryon families over the years.

Bill Hipps was father of two of my friends, Sue and Melvin, and served as mayor of Tryon for some years. Their mother Ethel was one of my mother’s friends, so she arranged for me to have my piano lessons at the Hipps home. Mrs. Mazzy walked around town to her pupils’ homes, so teaching both Melvin and me at one stop was convenient for her. Melvin was soon playing the organ at FBC as a young teenager.

Hazel Huntsinger just died at 93; she was the widow of Henry. I never knew Hazel, but Henry and I waited together to give blood to the Red Cross at Holy Cross for several years. We shared many stories, among which he told me that the Polk County Commissioners (of which Henry was one) were responsible for the crazy interchange of U.S. 74 with I-26. They wanted to be sure that travelers on I-26 who wanted fuel or food could stop in Columbus.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation is now rebuilding the interchange. I hope the result can be considered improvement.