Audrey Woody shares this rare photo from October 1948 made at the Piney Grove Church in the mountains near Del Rio. The Piney Grove quartet often sang at the Sunday School Conventions and singing conventions. From left are Harrison Messer, who sang tenor; Leesta Messer, soprano; Audrey's uncle, Oscar Lunsford; and her father, Ance Lunsford, who had a strong bass voice.
Friday, October 12, 2012
(Last modified: 2012-10-12 22:16:38)
Author: David Popiel
Source: The Newport Plain Talk

Mid October has been rather mild with leaf color still deepening as residents of our hometown still await a major frost or hard freeze that may not arrive until late November. But keep your scraper handy.

You noticed the announcement of the upcoming Big Creek Sunday School Convention to be at Mt. Zion Church in Grassy Fork. I got a call from Iva Lee Rathbone to please put it in the Plain Talk again as the dates were wrong in the first publication. By chance on Thursday I got a call from Audrey (Lunsford) Woody, who happened to have a very old photo related to Sunday School conventions or Gospel singing conventions in the mountains. At Luther and Audrey's home, which by the way is still for sale, she pulled out a photo from October 1948 featuring the Piney Grove quartet. Also what interested me was this photo was made by Preston Moore, because Audrey, as a 16 year old, recalled that Preston was there at the church making photos with his large flash bulb camera. Bill Murr is still pastor of the Piney Grove church, which is the largest in the circuit, said Audrey.

Her mother, Ethel Carlisle Lunsford and father, Ance Lunsford, attended the church and he sang bass in the quartet. She was happy to share this unique photo as it also gives a little publicity to the upcoming convention at Mt. Zion church in Grassy Fork, and Iva Lee will be glad of this. Going back 64 years, Audrey still recalls some of the singers at the popular Piney Grove convention. One group was the Haze Moore family. Many of you will recall that Roy D. Brown and his brother, Buck, and sisters Edith and Betty also sang during that era for many years afterwards. "They would stay until 10 p.m. singing," said Audrey. She was so proud of her father's voice and the Piney Grove quartet. We reminisced a little and Audrey said one of the original small one-room church buildings was bought by Hubert Hill. Today there is the new brick church plus the older frame one. Audrey plans to attend Saturday, Oct. 20, after lunch "to see how different the music is today."

Luther Woody's family was raised nearby at John's Creek but the Woodys were Church of God members and attended the Church of God at Tom's Creek off Blue Mill Road. Luther turns 90 on January 27, 2013. One of the favorite things he and his father, Cleave Woody, did in September and Oct. was dig ginseng, and it was easier to spot because of its bright red berries. They would rise at 4 a.m. and walk to Bull Mountain to gather the wild root. Audrey hopes this old photo will bring back memories for some and prompt others to attend the singing convention on October 19 & 20.


POW Cureton to be honored soon


We have been visiting and talking with World War II prisoner of war George Junior Cureton, who will be 88 on tax day in April 2013. You recall he talked some about the six months he spent in a German POW camp near Munich towards the end of the war, as allies were bombing Germany. President Franklin D. Roosevelt had died just days before George was released from prison and FDR's vice-president, Harry Truman, became president. Were George and other POWs even aware of this as they cleaned the Munich streets of bombed buildings and bodies?

There was a bit of good luck for him and more to come. One of the allied bombers dropped a bomb that landed in his prison camp, "just the other side of the wall." The bomb did not explode, and, if it had, chances are George and many other Americans would have been killed. They rejoiced in late April when American troops liberated them from prison: A late birthday present, as George turned 20 on April 15, 1945. The former POWs were taken by truck to France for a few weeks. From there he went to New York via ship and eventually returned to Newport later in 1945. Imagine the rejoicing at the various Sunday School and Gospel singing conventions after the ward ended.

My fellow Kiwanian Dale Brown, commander of the Newport AMVETS post told me last week that during the upcoming Veterans Day ceremony at CCHS, George would be honored and given medals he earned during the war.


A return to a familiar area


George has always been a hard worker and spent many years at Stokely's cannery handling case goods and doing "a little bit of everything." Another job he liked was driving a furniture delivery truck for a Morristown furniture manufacturer. And, what he really seemed to enjoy was farm work. Two jobs he especially recalled were as a dairy hand for Allen Thomas and Harold Huff. I featured both of these men during my years covering the farm scene in the 1970s with the help of then extension agent Raymond Sutton.

That afternoon of my Oct. visit the family was packing up to move in with Mrs. George (Judy) Cureton's relatives at Allen's Chapel. This is not far from where he worked for Harold Huff. I also learned a bit more about George's wife of the past 34 years. She is the daughter of Ralph and Georgia Hazelwood of Irish Cut. Both are deceased. She is one of seven children. Some of you old timers from the Rhyne Lumber Company and Wood Products era might recall that Ralph worked at these plants. I left George thinking how difficult or impossible it is for any of us who were not serving during WW II to have any understanding of the magnitude of the war and the disruption it caused, particularly the memory scars.

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