Joan Bittner Fry

Note: The Red Men’s Hall was a part of Sabillasville’s local history for a long time. It is now a residence.

From a “programme” dated May 9, 1914, for Cranberry Corners, a comedy drama held at the Redmen’s Hall. Local actors were Alvie Harbaugh, Jesse Poole, Francis Manahan, George Small, Earl Eby, Kennard Harbaugh, Miss Bernice Wachter, Mrs. Mabel Eby, Hazel Eyler, Eva Harbaugh, Francis Rowe, and Mary Wachter.

Note: I can remember all these people as adults. My house was purchased from Eva Harbaugh’s estate.

Two other playbills are A Minstrel Show, presented by the Sabillasville Minute Men, Company 822, November 1942, and George in a Jam, a comedy in three acts, presented by Sabillasville School PTA, April 1943.

Starring in the minstrel show were an entire group, and specials were a dance by Glenn Wolfe and Lewis McClain, a playlet by Glenn Wolfe and Lester Sanders, and a monologue by Harold Bittner. Others listed are Francis Manahan, Edgar McKissick, Harold Wolfe, George Eby, and Glen Brown. The play was directed by E. Maurice Clarke, the principal of the elementary school.

Note: At this time, World War II was happening and everywhere our patriotism showed. My father, Harold Bittner, sang “White Cliffs of Dover,” as it was mentioned many times later when he would sing it to us. 

The White Cliffs of Dover are the first and last sight you see when departing from or arriving in the port of Dover and is a sentimental symbol of England. The cliffs’ symbolic value to the English is exemplified in the famous World War II-era song.

“White Cliffs of Dover” lyrics

I’ll never forget the people I met braving those angry skies.

I remember well as the shadows fell the light of hope in their eyes.

And though I’m far away I still can hear them say “Thumbs up!”

For when the dawn comes up

There’ll be bluebirds over

The white cliffs of Dover tomorrow, just you wait and see

There’ll be love and laughter and peace ever after

Tomorrow, when the world is free

Later, starring in George in A Jam, also at the Red Men’s Hall, were Lewis McClain, Margaret Leatherman (teacher), Karl “Bud” Gray, Helen Ratas, Harold Bittner, Naomi Waynant (teacher), Virginia Kuhn (teacher), Alice Dysert, Oliver Kipe, and Glenn Wolfe. This play was directed by Edgar Wachter.

In 1954, the Sabillasville PTA presented Look Out Lizzie for the benefit of the Blue Ridge Mountain Vol. Fire Co. No. 1. The play was held at the fire hall and was directed by Maurice Clarke and Harold Jarrett. The players were Harold Bittner, Mary Benchoff, Joan Bittner, Helen Beard, Lewis McClain, Geneva Shindledecker, Bob Fox, and Raymond Kipe.  Prompters were Ada McKissick and Catherine Clayton.

Every time Lewie McClain saw me thereafter, he called me Hazel and I called him Hank, our “stage” names. I was 16 at that time. Advertisers in the brochure (all with old phone numbers) were Stanley Bros., Dingle Brothers, Blue Ridge Coal Co., Davis and Shuey Construction Co., Hull’s Super Market, Bohn’s Shopping Center, Weikert’s Garage, Summit Sales and Service, Smith’s Esso Station, Highfield Liquor Store, V.L. Pryor and Son, Harry E. Harbaugh, New Shirt Laundry, Winebrenner Motors, Trostle’s Grocery, Coffman’s Taxi, First National Bank, Ray Birely’s Men’s Wear, Flohr Lumber Company, Cornerette Beauty Salon, McClain’s Diner, Luther N. Martin, Traceys, Spangler’s Electric, Pauline Kramer Antiques, Jefferson Standard, L. M. Barton, J. Bob Benchoff, Clarence Smith, G. Ross Pryor, Park View Tavern, Sam’s End of Trail, Gearhart’s Pharmacy, Knox Welding, Angell’s, Gonder’s Gas & Electric, Geesaman’s Inn, Benchoff’s Grocery, Ressler’s Metal Works, Monterey Tea House, and the Blue Ridge Mountain Volunteer Fire Company No. 1.

Those were the good old days!

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