Darrtown "Gathering" #5 - December 8, 2012
Darrtown Bicentennial Committee Hosts Event to Remember
Earl “Red” Huber’s Christmas Parties for Kids
It could be said that “ghosts of Christmases past” visited Darrtown, Saturday morning, December 8, 2012.
Nearly 70 people gathered at the Hitching Post tavern for a two-hour ceremony that honored the memory of Earl “Red” Huber and the children’s Christmas parties that Mr. Huber hosted from the late 1940’s into the early 1960’s.
Background of Red's Parties for Kids
Initially, Huber hosted the Christmas party by himself. As the years went by, the number of guests increased. In 1957, the guest registry included 26 handwritten pages, which contained the names of 669 guests, from throughout southwest Ohio and parts of Kentucky and Indiana.
With more youngsters lining up to see Santa each year, others from the community pitched in to help Huber. One contributor, especially well equipped to pitch in, was Darrtown native, Walter “Smokey” Alston, who managed the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers for 23 years. On several occasions, Alston added baseballs to the fruit, candy, popcorn balls, and whistles, that were found in the “goodie bags, that Huber provided. The distribution was made easier because Huber’s project was aided by a special helper – one Mr. S. Claus, who hailed from somewhere north of Darrtown.
During Saturday’s trip down memory lane, some of those in attendance reported that they still possess a Smokey Alston baseball that they received from Santa, when they attended one of “Red’s” parties.
Memories of Christmases past were enhanced with story-telling from the audience and from those who organized the event. The program included an appearance by Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus, thanks to the help of Dale Bufler and Sandy Jolivette. Dennis Byrd and Doug Krause provided instrumental selections. And, Ron Wiley and Fred Lindley performed a special duet number, as they sang a parody of “We Three Kings” that began with the words, “We two kids from Darrtown are, bearing gifts from Red Huber’s bar.”
RIGHT: This image shows the group engaged in a "participatory theater" activity. While Fred Lindley read aloud the familiar lines from the poem, "Twas the Night Before Christmas," audience members displayed "stage props" that coincided with various words in the poem. For example, who knew that the clatter that arose from "out on the lawn" could be simulated with a metal spoon and a tin pie plate?
LEFT: Fred Lindley and Ron Wiley (l-r) are seen here as they reprised their rendition of "We two kids from Darrtown are…"
Prior to singing, Ron explained that he and Fred attended the first Red Huber Christmas party (in approximately 1948). Ron recalled that, after departing from the party at Hitching Post, the two lads walked to the Wiley home on West Street and began to enjoy the items they found in their goodie bags from Santa.
That experience, combined with their weekly participation in the Darrtown Sunday School choir, prompted the twosome to create a musical tribute to Red Huber and his Christmas parties for kids. Sung to the tune of "We Three Kings," the lyrics go like this:
"We two kids from Darrtown are…
Bearing gifts from Red Huber's bar.
Fruit and candy and whistles were dandy-y-y…
They-y-y brought kids from near and far.
Santa's presence gave us cheer,
Red gave goodies, instead of beer.
A popcorn ball and goodies for all-l-l…
Made us come back…year after year-r-r."
Much to the surprise and delight of the audience, Santa and Mrs. Claus appeared from behind the Hitching Post bar!
Mrs. Claus looks a little like Sandy Jolivette.
But...who's the dude in the red suit?
LEFT Santa is seen here as he shared his memories of Christmases past, in Darrtown.
Santa said that he has many fond memories of Darrtown and assured everyone that he would return on December 25th and he would bring, like always, bring presents for all the "good little girls and boys."
Santa added that, sadly, he did have present a lump of coal to one person in today's audience. For privacy, that individual's name is omitted from this report.
However, it should be noted that, as soon as Santa mentioned a lump of coal, Joe Pater immediately rose from his chair.
Santa searches his bag of gifts for the lump of coal that he brought for Joe Pater.
Joe (standing at the right, in the white shirt) waits patiently for his gift.
This image shows Santa making his closing remarks.
A few minutes
left the building,
efforts to raise
Santa and Dale
have the same
taste in rings.
Ron Wiley (standing at the center in the red shirt) and Fred Lindley (standing at the right in the black shirt) presented the plans that the Bicentennial Committee was projecting for the Darrtown village square. The table at the right displayed drawings of the tentative plans for landscaping the northwest and southwest quadrants of the village square.
Among those in attendance were State Senator (Ohio District 4) Wm. Coley; State Representative (Ohio District 53), Tim Derickson, and Milford Township Trustees, Russell McMillan and Paul Gillespie.
The Darrtown Bicentennial Steering Committee hosted Saturday’s tribute to Huber, as part of the group’s preparation for the Darrtown Bicentennial in 2014. The Steering Committee sent electronic invitations to this event to all who are listed on the Darrtown Bicentennial mailing list.
Bicentennial Progress Reported
Prior to the nostalgic part of the program, several members of the Bicentennial Steering Committee reported on events that the committee has undertaken on behalf of the Bicentennial. These reports included:
> Recognition of Senator Coley, Representative Derickson, the Milford Township Trustees, and Sean Hurley, owner of the Hitching Post.
> The distribution of the most recent list of Bicentennial donors.
> An update on the village square landscaping project (water and electric lines have been installed). The public is invited to donate to the project, which will include (1) a memorial to area military veterans that will incorporate the existing memorial and (2) commemorative pavers, trees, plantings, and benches.
> A description of events surrounding a Bicentennial dinner and fundraiser that will occur on Saturday, March 23, 2013, in the Milford Township Community Center in Collinsville.
BELOW: Paul Gillespie, Milford Township Trustee and member of the Bicentennial Steering Committee is seen here as he described the village square landscaping project.
Paul has been instrumental in working with area landscapers who are donating labor and materials to the landscaping project.
BELOW: This image shows Steering Committee member, Dale Bufler, as he explained the plans for the new Veterans' Memorial that will be erected in the village square.
Dale explained that the committee will explore the possibility of incorporating the existing veterans memorial into the new one.
The existing memorial, which was dedicated in 1956, now stands in the southeast quadrant of the village square, next to the fire station.
ABOVE: Deborah Lindley assisted
with the sale of raffle tickets.
LEFT: Ron Wiley reviewed
the printed program,
prior to the start
of the Gathering.
Three raffles were conducted during this Gathering:
1. One "Split the Pot"
2. One commemorative walking stick - made by Ron Wiley.
3. One caricature of Walter "Smokey" Alston - drawn by his nephew, Virgil Alston, when Virgil was age 15.
BELOW: This image shows Jack and Betty Daniels, as they prepared for the sale of raffle tickets.
Janet Pater assisted with the sale of raffle tickets and photography.
Joe Pater, member of the Steering Committee, assisted with multiple tasks related to this Gathering.
BELOW: Janet and Joe Pater appear in this image, taken during the program.
LEFT: Sean Hurley, owner of the Hitching Post is seen here.
The Bicentennial Steering Committee commended Sean for his willingness to make the Hitching Post available for the Darrtown Gatherings.
Goodie Bags for all!
Before departing, each audience member received a "goodie bag" that was reminiscent of the gift bags that Earl "Red" Huber dispersed "back in the day." Each paper bag contained an apple and an orange (all, courtesy of the Hamilton Kroger store), a pop corn ball (hand-made from the kitchen of Gloria Metcalf, with ingredients from her special - and secretive - recipe), several pieces of hard candy (donated by Jack and Betty Daniels) and a toy whistle (donated by Ron Wiley).
As the partiers left the confines of Sean Hurley's Hitching Post on this December 8, 2012 afternoon and began their travels homeward, several could be heard exclaiming...
"Merry Christmas to all and to all, ...a good night!"