Hooper Hometown Players
Contributor: ttburton Created: 2 years ago Updated: 2 years ago
It was in the year 1976 when Hooper along with the rest of our nation was aglow with excitement. Yes, everyone was eagerly awaiting the 200th anniversary of our great nation.
Hooper of course was preparing to celebrate this bicentennial day on the Fourth of July.
My husband, Francis Widdison, and I were asked to be the program chairmen with Jolene A. Parks and Nada J. Lamb to assist us. We decided to have the program in the Hooper Park under the big trees on Brent Draper's long flatbed truck which he willingly placed there for us. Bleachers were moved in front of it, pulled there by tractors.
I wrote a script covering the story of 'our' USA which introduced the various numbers on the program. In honor of the Indians who roamed our great land I requested the song 'Red Wing.' I thought it would be nice if I arranged for a 'peppy' group to play it.
I asked Catherine Garner to come with her accordion, Lynn Garner, Thorald Cox, Edsel Jones and Venice Bell to bring their mouth organs, Genevieve Johnston to play her ukulele and Cherilee Beus to play the violin. They all met with me to hear my plan and to practice. Catherine suggested I play my ukulele with them, which I did. It turned out to be a good number and we enjoyed playing together.
As we were ready to play, I looked down in the audience and had to gasp as I saw my daughter Jeryl Ann with her brand new 5-day-old baby boy, coming clear from Salt Lake City to hear our program. What a thrill!
Six months later on January 28, 1977, Vern Taylor asked us to play at the Hooper Farm Bureau Meeting which we again enjoyed doing. As Cherilee Beus was away at school living in Provo it was difficult for her to remain with us, so she was replaced by her sister, Bonnie Call on the violin. February 11 was our next assignment at the Weber County Farm Bureau Banquet and from then on we were in business. We kept practicing and playing, having 21 opportunities that year. Ned Garner played with us at times on the guitar. Finally when Ned dropped out, Margie Kite joined us with her electric guitar. 'Red Wing' (There once was an Indian maid) became our new theme song.
We kept thinking of new things. I asked Lynn to sing. He sang many solos as well as duets with Catherine. Thorald made a dancing doll, his wife, Eva, dressed it. He whittled some bones to rattle and click then he came up with a whistling bird. He was made us a music stand and a music box. Edsel Jones and his wife, Valeda, consented to dance the Varsouvienne and waltz for us. Catherine and Genevieve sing duets, also Genevieve and Margie sing together. Margie now has a new fancy black guitar, Genevieve purchased 'clip-clops' and a base ukulele. Bonnie also plays the maracas, a mandolin and has now come up with a banjo. I purchased a banjo uke and my children gave me a melodica. Catherine, with my urging, appears as several characters on the piano. At times the 'Cloggin Cousins,' Levi and Rebecca Call, Summer and Bret Criddle, perform with us.
I decided on a name for the group, calling us the "Hooper Hometown Players." My daughter, Ina James, illustrated a name plate and Thorald framed it. We've made several matching outfits to wear. Valeda has been our secretary and recorded in her little black book every one of our performances.
I guess you might call me the 'referee' of the bunch who tells the jokes and announces the numbers and makes the arrangements.
Sadness struck the players on October 3, 1981 when Venice's husband, Leon Bell, passed away. Bonnie and Marg played at his funeral. On January 9, 1985, we were saddened when Lynn Garner died. The players took part at his services. We've also had births, weddings, operations, trips, many illnesses and other things to deal with as a group. We are the parents of 45 children along with many grandchildren also a few great-grandchildren which keep us busy. Thorald and Eva have been married 58 years, while Edsel and Valeda have been married for 56 years.
Ned Garner has again rejoined the group with his new electric guitar. Venice married Worlton Wood on September 20, 1985 and now he plays a drum with us.
We have played over 175 programs and practiced hundreds of times. Our friendship together has increased to a 'close-knit family.'
We've performed as far north as Brigham City and as far south as Taylorsville, have been privileged to play twice at the Utah State Fair in Salt Lake City, also at President Ronald Reagan's Old Fashioned Picnic in the Hooper Park on September 10, 1982 and five times at the Ogden Tabernacle. We have a special 'fan,' Mrs. Ruby Clawson of Syracuse, Utah who has attended about 50 of our programs as well as some of our practices. She has brought several of her family friends along with her and driven many miles to hear us. She tells us nice things that make us feel so good.
Talk about a loyal fan, we do appreciate her.
What a delightful experience it has been for all of us. On July 4, 1986 we will be celebrating our 10-year anniversary as the 'Hooper Hometown Players.'
Thanks to Francis my dear husband who really supports me in this, driving me around, carrying in our things and how winks lovingly at me as I try to remember my lines. Our thanks also to Gary Kite, Van Call and James Johnston who have been the most patient of husbands!
Written by Jewel R. Widdison 1986 taken from 'Just In Hooper'