E. Orville Johnson's Memories of Richsquare

Richsquare is a very special corner of the world to me. Here I lived during the first twenty years of my life - all happy years and important years in growth and development. The church and two-room school at Richsquare were the center of a simple existence in the 10's and 20's of the twentieth century. Among the early teachers who are remembered at the Sunday School were Ruth White and Mable S. Johnson. I recall, as a small lad, the warm handshake and friendly smile of Will White - one of the leading members of the meeting. Also coming to mind are the visits of Earlham Students who came to speak at the morning worship service. It was a real treat to entertain in our home these young men who sometimes came from Richmond for the weekend. We would go to Lewisville or Straughn to meet them coming from Richmond on the interurban. My mother would prepare meals for our visitors - meals which were both abundant and delicious. I particularly remember Herschel Folger, Leslie Shafer, George Peacock, Leslie Penington, and Neal Newlin.

My teachers through the eight grades at Richsquare School were Bernice Lamberson, Wilma Ball, Jocquina Combs and Paul Lamberson. They were all excellent teachers and even though they had four grades to instruct in all subjects, the pupils received superior preparation for the high school years. I am indebted to all of them.

I should mention here the unique place that Mildred White held in the minds of members of the Richsquare Meeting. She was our special representative to foreign lands as a teacher in the Friends School at Ramallah, Palestine. Although we only saw her at five-year intervals on her furloughs, we listened with rapt attention as she told of her work and experiences. 

During the 20's Richsquare had a rather large group of young people and the activities ranged from Halloween parties to Christmas programs. On one occasion Cloyce Johnson used his school bus, which we call "the hack," to drive us around the neighborhood in our costumes to visit various households. At Christmas all the children and younger members of the Meeting would receive treats of candy and cookies.

Two musical groups come to mind as I think back over the early years. The first is a men's quartet which brought a great deal of enjoyment to its audiences. The singers in the quartet, if I am not mistaken, were Everett White, Arthur Johnson, Floyd Jefferies, and George Coffin. They entered into their musical numbers with enthusiasm and good humor. 

The second group was instrumental and included the following: Mabel S. Johnson, piano; Arthur Johnson, saxophone; Everett White, slide trombone; Marjorie Johnson, clarinet; Mildred Johnson (now Mrs. Neil Gaddis), violin; and my brother, Ralph, and I, trumpets. With help from the more accomplished musicians, Ralph and I could, after considerable practice, play the rather simple pieces in our repertoire. This instrumental group appeared once or twice at a church event and we enjoyed our practice sessions at the Arthur Johnson home near the church. The high school at Lewisville had started an orchestra under the impetus and direction of Don Rogers, a musician who started music lessons and musical groups throughout the county. The Lewisville orchestra took part in the opening of the National Road as a paved highway.

One further reminiscence concerns Everett White who was a person of many talents. He was, among other things, an amateur magician. I had the pleasure of serving as his assistant on at least one occasion. some of his magical tricks exhibited rather spectacular feats and captivated his audiences. 

I would be remiss if I did not pay tribute to my parents, Myrton and Bessie Johnson, who were prominent members of the Richsquare Friends Meeting and the Richsquare neighborhood all their lives. They played a leading and honorable role in the church and in the community of their day. My heritage is great indeed.

E. Orville Johnson
Son of Myrton and Bessie Johnson
Brother of Wilmer, Ralph, Janet
written in June 1984