THE BAKERTON CENTENNIAL
Bakerton residents celebrated their centennial on June 17, 1989. The following article was published in the Spirit of Jefferson, June 22, 1989.
Rain clouds blanketed the sky Friday morning as I threw some sign boards and wooden stakes into my pickup and headed toward the center of Bakerton. Behind the store, Tom Bradshaw and Biff Lee were building a frame over the flatbed trailer that would be the stage for the weekend's entertainment. At the store, Jody Neil made last minute preparations for selling food at Joe Thompson's barbecue. Across the street at the Methodist Church, Walter Cool and Rev. Doug Liston were digging out the hole for the time capsule and Jack Koonce was putting the finishing touches on his new brick steps.
Bakerton residents who had been painting and sprucing up the village over the last few weeks were now trimming their grass, setting that last geranium in place, or tracking down any scraps of litter that had escaped their earlier scrutiny. The two centennial cakes were carefully escorted into the church and locked up. Fat drops of rain spattered on the blacktop now and then, reminding us that our good work could be washed away in minutes.
The rain held off until the afternoon, when I had all of the cardboard signs up. Then it washed most of them down. That evening, as rain thudded against our bedroom window and the wind howled around the corner of the house, I wondered what would be left in the morning. Were the animals lining up two by two? Was it too late to get a seat in the ark?
Saturday dawned cool and cloudy, but the rain was gone. I was back in town about 7 o'clock, putting up new signs and talking to Charles Knott, Tom Bradshaw, and Pete Kerrigan about the day's activities. Joe Thompson arrived about an hour later and showed us the marker that would cover the time capsule. Seventy-year-old Robert Duke hefted the 100-pound piece of granite, carried it over to the Methodist Church, and set it in place. He and his wife had arrived Friday night to be ready for the celebration.
By nine o'clock, a pretty good crowd was on hand to witness the placement of the time capsule. Several people brought photos or wrote letters to the Bakerton residents who would open the capsule in 2089. Helen Mills and Louise Talley donated copies of the histories of Bethel Methodist Church and the Bakerton Church of God, and Frank Gift donated a bottle of wine from Bakerton's premiere winery. It was an apple wine that goes by the name of "West Virginia Road Apple." (I'll bet it has quite a bouquet.) Other mementos included canning jars full of Silver Queen corn (Bakerton's favorite), and fireballs (the kid's most popular kind of candy). One of the kids gave us a 1989 penny and another donated a miniature skateboard. Joe Thompson brought a newspaper printed on the day of President Bush's inauguration. The time capsule, a waterproof concrete vault, was donated by Bob Spencer of Eackles-Spencer Funeral Home.
The horseshoe tournament began out behind the store, and the clank of shoes hitting the pins punctuated the festivities throughout the day. Ed Walsh supervised the event. When it was over, Jeff Moler had taken first place in Division A and Bobby Crum in Division B. Owen Lloyd was number one in the Junior Division. The winners received $25 prizes from Tom Bradshaw, president of the Bakerton Ruritan.
The sun was out by ten o'clock. People lined both sides of Carter avenue, trying to catch a glimpse of the parade that had just started out from Ridge Road, next to Don Boyer's farm. Older folks sat in lawn chairs under the trees that shaded the front of the Methodist Church. Frances Millard was there, along with Geneva Carter Emory, Guy Moler, Lowell Hetzel, Helen Mills, and several other former Bakerton residents. As they waited, they glanced at those nearby, trying to recognize former friends and neighbors that they hadn't seen in decades. Every once in a while, you would hear "Why, aren't you ...? Well, I'm .... Golly, I haven't seen you in years!"
Then the parade arrived, headed by my daughter, Amy, who rode her buckskin quarter horse and carried the Stars and Stripes. A horse-drawn carriage followed, holding Skeeter and Dottie Welsh dressed up in old time clothes. Other carriages and drivers from the Free Wheelers' driving club participated, including Dick Flaherty, the Pattersons, and a mule-drawn wagon. Doc Master, Kevin Carter, and Ed Morgan rolled by in classic cars, interspersed with kids on bicycles. June Miller wore a coonskin cap and marched along with a flintlock rifle on his shoulder. Louise Talley, Dot Miller, Lillian Lloyd, Frances Custer, and Helen Loudan rode by dressed in old time costumes. An ambulance and fire engine from Harpers Ferry brought up the rear with their lights flashing. No one in Bakerton could remember seeing a parade that matched this one in splendor or the number of distinguished participants. Of course, no one could remember ever seeing any parade here at all. This might have been the first.
A quiet crowd gathered at 11 o'clock in front of the Methodist church for a memorial ceremony for John Mahoney, a resident who was killed in Vietnam. A photo of John rested where the memorial stone will be placed and a floral arrangement donated by Val Tol Florists sat nearby. The wreath presentation ceremony was led by VFW Auxiliary president, Ann Rock and past president, Lucille Kidwiler, and it was followed by a prayer by Rev. Doug Liston. John Mahoney's mother attended the ceremony. Jack Koonce from VFW Post 3522, presented me with a donation for the memorial stone.
During the weekend, other donations were received from, Harold and Bertha Harding, JoAnne Schurtz, Skeeter and Dottie Welsh, and Ernest and Gladys Houser. Thanks to you and the others who have contributed in the last few weeks. Preparations are now under way for the formal dedication of the memorial August 12, exactly 20 years after John Mahoney's death. Representatives from state and local chapters of the American Legion and VFW are planning to make this a very special occasion, and armed forces bands and the National Honor Guard have been asked to participate.
The centennial cakes were served at noon by members of the Methodist Church. Kids of all ages came back for seconds and even thirds. The most enthusiastic eaters had the biggest smiles and the most frosting on their chins. Smells of cooking hot dogs and hamburgers drifted over from the barbecue next to the store, and hungry people munched food and drank sodas throughout the day.
The music started about half an hour later and included Frank Lowe and the Southern Gentlemen and gospel groups from Shepherdstown and Duffields. The 4-H Dancing Clovers provided plenty of entertainment and got many from the audience to get up and dance with them. The Free Wheelers and Ed Morgan gave carriage and antique auto rides throughout the day. My daughter, Amy, gave pony rides to lots of eager children. During the rest of the day, people lounged on the grass listening to the music, visited with folks sitting on nearby porches, or strolled into the post office to see Heather Moler's photo exhibit on Bakerton.
The evening ended with music from the Jamison Sisters. A full moon rose as the entertainment ended and people drifted off toward home.
Sunday morning, people gathered for a community worship service at the Methodist Church, and a photo history of the church was on display in one of the Sunday School rooms. The day's music began around 1 o'clock with the Jamison Sisters, who were followed by the Middleway Gospel Singers and the Beacons. The crowd was nearly rolling on the ground when the Jamisons sang one song about at revival frenzy caused by a squirrel who ran berserk in a Baptist Church. Forest Caton dropped by to say hello as well as Sarah Alnutt, the daughter of Frank Thomas. (Mr. Thomas was General Superintendent of Standard Lime and Stone.)
Midway through the afternoon, I gave a slide presentation at the Church of God and we had some fun looking at old pictures of Bakerton. After supper, people got back together for a community hymn sing. Then, happy and exhausted, they headed for home. Some just across the street. Others hours or even days away.
I personally want to thank all of the people who made the centennial celebration happen. We went through some rough times. But together, we helped the community remember its past, and we showed everyone that we can work together. Now, with a sense of our own identity and the knowledge that we can cooperate, we are ready to face the future.
APPENDIX D. INTERVIEWS WITH LOCAL RESIDENTS