Memories of the Way we Were

2008 – A Year to Remember

Ellen Watts -- February 2013

Praying for our “egg-making” comes quite naturally to those who work in eggs each year for seven or eight weeks.  This poem from 2008 will bring back memories of those who are no longer with us.  Some are enjoying their reward in heaven, some whose health prevents them from helping and some who have moved away.  Those of us still hard at work will remember when Donna was in the kitchen, and Deryel was in the egg closet and Gil was cracking jokes wherever he was.

                                      Let Us Pray

Let us pray that the eggs we make will all turn out okay
I don’t think any of us wants to work another day.

Let us pray that the mixer never learns to talk out loud
Because the kitchen crew especially Rusty tells jokes when there’s a crowd.

Let us pray that Sam and Gil can produce eggs the exact same size
If not we must be forgiven if we have to cover up with lies!

Let us pray for Floyd and Donna in the kitchen who must endure
The laughter and frivolity for which there seems no cure.

Let us pray for the egg shapers Gerry, Ginger, Jane and Betty
Mary Lou, and all the rest that they kept working steady.

Let us pray for all the dippers, who stood and worked all day
Warren, Allen, Phyllis, Blanche, Lucy, Judi, Andy and Kay.

Let us pray for all the wrappers, the talkers, having fun
Vivian, Bob, Gladys, Berlene, Jorgie Jean, and more you’ve wrapped a ton.

Let us pray for Burch, Benny, A.W. and Wendell, too
Without the chocolate and cut paper whatever would we do?

Let us pray for Deryel, and Jan whose jobs are special too
And thank you, Priscilla for training all who were new.

Let us pray for Jane, Clark and Amy who helped as much as they could
And lets remember those not here, may our prayers do them some good

Let us pray for Faye whose patience never wavered
May God give her the rest she needs and may her health be favored.

Let us pray that those people whose names I did not mention
Will forgive my absent mind, Lord, please help me pay attention.

Let us pray that this project be blessed by God’s hand,
And may these eggs be sold throughout all of this great land.

Let us pray that the friends we’ve made will last a lifetime through,
Because we at First Presbyterian could not get along without you!


Ellen Watts  -- March 13, 2008


In Front (left to right):  (standing) Helen Ratliff, Irene Mahood, (seated) Ethel “Monkey” Flint, Gladys Goff, Vivian Stowe, (standing) Jane Crutchfield, Andy Hodges

First row (left to right):  Ellen Watts, Donna Myers, Lucile Dillon, A. W. Dillon, Judi Low, Priscilla Henderson, Faye Hodges, Marilyn Demaree

Second row (left to right): Kay Sudderth, Wendell Watson, Clark Vincent, Jan Vincent, Phyllis Sterling, Berlene Brandon, Mary Lou Barham, Barbara Trafton

Third row (left to right): Burch Idol, Bennie Smith, Gil Sheets, Blanche Sheets, Anne Waddell, Jean Taylor, Ginger Clark, Deryel Clark, Sam Henderson

Back row (left to right):  Allan Mattingly, Bob Myers, Warren Karr, Nancy Karr, Ann Jones, Gerry Sharp, Hamp Langdon

A Mardi Gras Memory

Ellen Watts -- February 2013

Sunday Night, February 10, 2013, famous Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau (Fran McKinney) and Chef John McKinney hosted our Small Group at their home.  What a Mardi Gras Party it was! Most of us came in costume for the occasion. 

Barb and Wendell came dressed in ‘50’s style.  Barb wore a pink poodle skirt and matching sweater set and her penny loafers and bobby socks completed the outfit.  Wendell had his jeans rolled up at the bottom and he was sporting a white t-shirt and ‘50’s jacket.

Becky and Burch were striking in their cowboy garb.  Becky wore jeans, a leather vest and cowboy boots and she even had a bandana mask so that she could call herself “The Lone Ranger”.  Burch was quite dashing in his cowboy boots, cowboy hat, and even wore real spurs!

Fran’s costume was most entertaining.  Dressed all in black she was adorned with multiple beads and trinkets around her neck. Each finger bore a large, flashy ring and her headdress was very Voodoo like! 

John, ever the ultimate baker, wore his chef’s hat, multiple layers of Mardi Gras beads over his crisp Chef’s apron.

Not to be outdone by others, I dressed as a Scottish Nanny.  Covering my long, black skirt and starched white blouse was my Stewart Plaid cape.  Completing my outfit was my black bucket hat and long black gloves. 

We were joined by two weary folks straight from the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre in which the Running on Faith Group had participated.  Amy and Mark Evans were soon adorned with Mardi Gras beads to round out our group.

The group enjoyed a variety of cheeses and crackers, as well as various spreads and jellies as appetizers.  The dinner was a multi course meal of salad, Gumbo, and Shrimp Creole over rice, along with homemade rolls.  The center piece of the table was the King Cake which we enjoyed for dessert.  The traditional King Cake includes a hidden baby in the dessert.  I was fortunate enough to find the baby in my piece of cake which traditionally means I am given special privileges and obligations. I was told that it meant I was to provide the next King Cake or host the next party or both.

The McKinney home was elaborately decorated with the Mardi Gras colors of purple, gold, and green.  There were festive colors on display in almost every room with even a Mardi Gras Mask on the mirror.  The dining room buffet held a beautiful display of colors and plums representing the Mardi Gras Carnival of New Orleans.

Being a part of a Small Group gives the participants a chance to visit other church member’s homes and get to know the others within the group better.  Having this special time with the members of our group allowed us to laugh, enjoy good food, and learn new things about each other.  What a wonderful memory this will be for our group, just as each group enjoys time together in fellowship with each other.

To see more photos of our special Mardi Gras celebration, click here.

Eggs, Eggs, and More Eggs!

Ellen Watts – January 19, 2013

Can you believe it?  It’s time for those cute, little eggs to start popping up all over Kernersville.  And that happens only when those Presbyterians start the creative production in the Fellowship Hall. 

I don’t know if Rusty has dusted off “Big Bertha”, or if Jan has sharpened all the pencils, or if Faye has lined up which apron she’s going to wear.   Speaking of aprons, wonder if Deryel is going to wear his tuxedo apron again this year?

I do hope Spence has been running laps at home, to get in shape for hauling eggs to the closet. 

Maybe we should have a few workout sessions before eggs begin.  You know stuff like, finger flexing for the wrappers; wrist stretches for the dippers; “Patty-Cake” for the rollers; tray carrying for the scoopers; and cheerleading practice for Faye. 

Maybe a cooking class or two for the chocolate melters.  Ha, ha -- can’t you see Mike Lewis, Burch Idol, George Murray and Randall Ivey in a cooking class! 

Priscilla and Gerry could give table cleaning and floor cleaning lessons, and maybe Clark could get some Monks to teach egg wrapping in silence. (Sorry Clark!)

I can’t wait to see Jean and Berlene and their entourage, mostly Baptists of course.  (Wonder if Colfax Baptist Church has to postpone a few events during our Eggs?)  And occasionally some folks will take a day off from work to help out.

I hope Mrs. Edna at Seafood Shack has got her sales pitch ready to go.  Plaza Restaurant is going to have to ramp up their game to be in competition this year.

I just know I am cleaning my house (one last time before Eggs); getting my apron washed and ready to go; and checking my calendar for appointment conflicts.

PGA’s  better get ready!  January 28th is just around the corner.  Oh yeah, you better show up.  You know the old saying “The pen is mightier than the sword”?   I’m not threatening you or anything -- but you better show up!

Christmas Memories

Christmas is just around the corner and I have such fond memories of this special time of year at First Presbyterian Church. 

It seems that the Holiday Market is the unofficial kick-off of the church holiday season.  With so many Christmas items on display, we can’t help but start getting ready for the big holiday.

Christmas is a special time in the church and this church has a long history of special times as we celebrate the holiday. 

We usually have a Christmas play that includes the children as well as the adults.  The play not only reminds us of the Reason for the Season, but allows a lot of laughter, too. 

Some years the choir has provided a special program or Cantata. 

The Presbyterian Women once had an annual Christmas Dinner; everyone dressed in festive garb, tables were decorated, and everyone exchanged gifts and revealed our Secret Pal for the year.


And, almost yearly, the children were honored with a visit by a special man who brought gifts for all the boys and girls.




This photo was taken in the 1980’s but we’re not sure who was standing in for Santa. 
Can anyone identify this mystery Santa for us?






Two particular Santa visits stick in my mind.  Unfortunately, I could find no pictures of either event, which makes me wonder what has happened to the evidence.  

One year, Santa was accompanied by two special elves who were dressed all in green, including green stockings, and they wore cute little elf costumes and elf hats.  Their mere presence brought tears to the eyes of those who saw them.  (Hysterical laughter!)  Please be sure and ask Joy Budkey, and especially Edwin Ford, about this. 

And then not too long ago we had a most comical Santa who visited one Saturday before Christmas when the children were enjoying a wonderful party.  Santa not only had a real beard, but still maintains that beard today, though now it also contains some beads.  Santa asked the children what they wanted for Christmas, and some of the answers and ensuing response from Santa were hilarious!

This Christmas season would not be complete without the special Christmas Eve Service.  On Christmas Eve we gather to hear scripture, sing the Christmas Hymns and end the service by candlelight.  It is a service that warms the heart and reminds us so beautifully why we celebrate the birth of Christ.

Ellen Watts
December 2012

Ocracoke Youth Trip

On a recent trip to the magical island of Ocracoke on the southern end of the Outer Banks, I was reminded of a trip that the Youth of First Presbyterian and their chaperones took in the late 1970’s.  Let me start by saying this is NOT a fond memory.  It was one of those trips where, if something could go wrong it probably did.  I was in my late twenties and had not been a member of First Presbyterian for very long.

This was a camping trip which would go down in the annals of great storytelling by all who were involved.   I am not the only one with these horrific memories.  We set out on a trek to take us across the state in several vehicles.  There were several families: Norman and Lynda Self and their three children Lee, Paula, and David; Bill, Brenda and Kendall Johnson; Barry Dillon (son of A.W. and Lucy Dillon); Ed and Edward Jarrell (son and husband of Betty Jarrell); Matt Matthews; my husband Dale, and myself.  If there were others in our midst, I don’t remember, I have a tendency to block out bad memories; maybe for their sake I forgot them.

The trip seemed to take forever, we stopped several times and I remember vividly the ferry ride from the mainland to the island.  Bill had brought along bread crumbs to throw to the overhead circling seagulls.  Anybody who knows anything about seagulls knows they are most persistent in their endeavors to feed themselves.  And keep in mind when it comes to birds, the digestive system has a short road in and out.  You guessed it … we got pooped on … a lot!

Edward Jarrell, Lee Self, Kendall Johnson, Matt Matthews and Barry Dillon
On the Ocracoke Ferry


Once we arrived on the island we headed for the camp ground which is part of the National Parks Service and is manned by park rangers.  There were very primitive showers with hand pumps and not exactly what I would classify as running water.  Outside at the camping areas there were hand pumps of “potable water” not drinking water.  You did NOT want to get this in your body by any means.

The tents were set up and I remember a storm rolled in.  Everything we had got wet.  From that moment on everything we ate, everything we wore, everything we touched was wet and sandy.  Our food was ruined but Ed Jarrell and Bill Johnson managed to put together something for us to eat.  Mr. Jarrell is remembered by his son, Edward, for providing food from nothing.   We laugh about it now but it seemed like months before I got the sand out of my teeth, hair, nose, eyes and clothes.


Edward Jarrell, Brenda Johnson, Lynda & Lee Self         Norman, Lynda, Lee, Paula & David Self, Ed Jarrell
Saturday Night Meal                                                     At the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse

We played, laughed, ran on the beach, we visited the village shops and the museum there, and on Saturday night we went to Blackbeard’s Lodge where Bill had arranged with the proprietors for us to take a real shower.  This was important because we were going to church the next morning.

Brenda Johnson, David Self
Sunday Morning Breakfast


The next morning we attended the Methodist church (no Presbyterian church at the time).  We were warmly welcomed and no one seemed to object to our appearance.  Soon after, we set out back across the state for home. 

I never will forget this trip and I am sure those now grown youth won’t either.  But this was one of the greatest bonding experiences of my life.  I will never forget how special these young people were to me then and how much more so now.  I cherish the times when they return to First Presbyterian for some occasion. We share a kindred memory…

Ellen Watts
November 2012

Holiday Market Memories

I don’t remember exactly what year we started having the Holiday Market, but it was started by the Presbyterian Women as a Bazaar.  We all made crafts and baked lots of goodies to sell.  At the beginning or sometime soon after, the men started making Chicken Stew to sell on the same day.

This all required a good amount of planning and work before the event.  Women would get together in each other’s homes, and at the church to make craft items or to paint various object to sell. I remember Laura Beane always made dolls and Mrs. Gwyn made beautiful tatted snowflakes.

Days before the event several ladies would gather at the church to set up for the Bazaar.  I remember that we used to have a railroad type theme and each area was a station.  The workers at the Bazaar wore train engineer hats, which were really cute, and each station had a railroad crossing sign. 

The day before the bazaar, I would take off from teaching and help with the chicken stew. The chicken had to cook until it fell apart and then once we shredded the chicken we had to add the other ingredients and cook it all day until it was done.  I remember Glenn Crozier made a huge wooden paddle for us to stir the massive concoction. The next day it was reheated, served with crackers or sold by the container for carryout.

Somewhere along the way the youth decided to get in on the act and started selling Christmas trees and wreaths.  This was possible because Lear and Maxine Powell’s son owned a tree farm and gave the youth the trees at a wholesale price. The youth worked hard selling the trees and helping the buyers bundle them up and tying them on their cars.

The proceeds for the bazaar went to the various organizations within the church so that they could use these funds to support the causes of their organization. The event has changed and evolved over the years.

Today our Holiday Market is part of the missions of the church.  The Missions Committee headed by Kerry Kerr oversees this big event.  We have lots of handmade crafts, painted items, Christmas ornaments, hand knitted items, quilted items, beautiful and delicious baked goods, art objects, candies, meals in a jar, practical items, yard objects, etc.

There is a wonderful pancake breakfast with all the trimmings served by the church youth.  There is time for socializing over breakfast, lingering over coffee, and shopping till you drop.

By far the best part of this event and the reason the people of First Presbyterian work so hard, is that all the proceeds from this event will be used to buy Christmas food, toys, clothing and other needs for families in the Kernersville area, that would otherwise have a very bleak holiday because of financial struggles. Last year, we were able to provide for 8 families. How exciting it must be for them to receive those wrapped packages and containers of food to make their Christmas a special one. 

The people of Kernersville are so supportive of our efforts to help others and the people of First Presbyterian   are so generous with their time and talents so that this Holiday Market is a huge success.

The King will reply, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers (and sisters) of mine, you did for me.” Matthew 25:40 NIV


Holiday Market- November 10, 2012 8AM- 1PM


Browse the Photo Album for more Holiday Market Memories

Ellen Watts
November 2012

The Choir

One of my earliest memories at First Presbyterian Church, would have to be singing in the choir.  When I joined the choir, there were probably ten regular members.  I have had the good fortune to sing with lots of different people in this choir and the talents have always been quite varied. 

I remember Mabel Bolen, playing and directing, as well as Brenda Johnson, and singing with Arzetta Mimbs.  There have been many memorable men’s voices, too, like Leo Burks, Don Snipes, and Tom Stikeleather.  

I remember so many fun times with the choir when we went caroling or had Christmas Choir parties.  There have been many riotous practices like the time we were practicing The Halleluiah Chorus and when we finished Joy Budkey piped up and said, ”Where are we?”.  We used to always giggle a little when the music said, Ad Lib, because Lib Vanhoy joked that that meant it was time for her to join in.

Our Choir in 1998
Lib VanHoy is at the left in the front row.  How many choir members do you recognize?


I have been so proud of our choir because in spite of our small numbers we have had some mighty good music.  It is a thrill for me when the Women’s Ensemble sings because it is fun for us and I can see the joy it brings the congregation.

I guess the most outstanding musical test was the year several of the women dressed up (I was in a blond curly wig) and sang” Mr. Sandman” at the talent show.  But it didn’t end there we were soon serenaded by the Thursday Night Choir.

"The Girls” and “The Thursday Night Choir”

Left to right:  Phyllis Sterling, Clark Vincent, Ellen Watts, Rusty Sudderth, Kitty Thach, Andy Hodges and Deryel Clark.
Seated:  Nancy Bolen who had just been serenaded by “The Thursday Night Choir”


My choir memories could go on and on.  Maybe you have some special choir memories you could share with me.

Maybe you would like to join the choir.  It’s not too late.

Ellen Watts, August 2012


Memories, memories ….. I have so many memories of my many years here at First Presbyterian Church.  I decided after several years of attending a Baptist Church or two in High Point with my husband’s family, that I would look for a Presbyterian Church in Kernersville.  I grew up as a Presbyterian and most of my family for generations were members of a Presbyterian Church.

I love to tell of my beginnings at First Presbyterian this way:  In the summer of 1976, I came to church here one Sunday, sang in the choir the next, and was leader of the Youth Group the next.  That probably is a bit of an exaggeration, but it worked, I’m still here.  I knew that first Sunday, I had found my “home”.

This church was certainly different from the church I grew up attending.  There was no altar or stately, white columns, not even wooden pews. Instead, there was wooden paneling for walls, tile floors, and rows of white stackable chairs.  At the back of the sanctuary were two folding service doors that opened into the kitchen, right off the sanctuary.  It was more like a multipurpose room. There was no Fellowship Hall, no library, no paved parking, and no picnic shelter. Every activity took place in the sanctuary or a classroom.

The congregation was very warm and friendly, and there were many generations represented and everyone was very involved.  There were probably about hundred members, and those folks came from everywhere.  Very few members were native to Kernersville. I found out the very first holiday that attendance during holidays was slight because everyone visited relatives “back home”.

I had many adventures during those early years at First Presbyterian, I can’t wait to reminisce and share my stories with you.

Ellen Watts, August 2012