My Lasting Memory
(After 60 years it still makes me laugh.)
By Rev. Wilson Shearer ’54
On the second day of the Seminary Chorus’ Concert Tour in 1953, our bus left the site of our first stop in Charleston, WV, and we came upon Hawk’s Nest State Park, which has a scenic overlook above a deep river valley. The driver stopped so we could stretch our legs and see the view. When it was time to return to the bus I spied a second trail back to the parking lot and without speaking to anyone I began walking a circuitous route up the hill through the forest.
When I got back to the parking lot I was shocked to see just the back end of the bus disappearing down the road around a curve. They assumed everyone was onboard so they left — without me! After 30 minutes of waiting, I decided that apparently the bus was not coming back because no one missed me.
Quite a few cars passed me by before a kind couple stopped to ask what I was doing there alone, and could they help. I hopped in and they took me to the next village, where I called the police. They heard my sad plight and didn’t hesitate when I asked them to call or radio ahead on Route 60 to have an officer stop the bus and tell them they were missing one chorus member. By this time, the bus was far down Route 60 in a town called “Rainelle.” With great chagrin, Walter Schutz, the faculty advisor and chorus manager, admitted to the police that Wilson Shearer was not on board.
I was told they couldn’t turn around, and would wait for me in Rainelle, but they had to be at Staunton, VA, in time for a special radio broadcast late that afternoon. If I couldn’t catch them I’d have to hitch hike all the way to Staunton, since there were no commercial buses going that direction.
I couldn’t catch them. When I finally arrived at the church, the chorus had just finished eating supper and was getting up from the tables. At my entrance there was a lot of yelling and clapping by the chorus and the church folk who had been told of the incident. I had a red face due to the exposure to chilly winds and the embarrassment of the situation. I was also very hungry.
During the rest of the tour, Harlan Snow, the director, introduced me as “The Hawk’s Nest Kid.” He continued to do this at all eight remaining concerts. Whenever we boarded the bus, chorus members shouted, “Where’s The Hawk’s Nest Kid? Don’t leave without Wilson!”