During recent renovations, some cassette tapes were unearthed. Long forgotten, these tapes held memories of the church's history.
The 150th Anniversary Event
One cassette tape was simply marked "November 16th, Year ? -- Many members speaking." It appears to be a recording of an assembly to launch the History Committee. This committee was tasked with collecting and writing OPC's history for the then up coming 150th Anniversary.
OPC's 150th Anniversary was in 1995. So this kick-off event was probably held on November 16th, 1994. The congregation was invited to share stories of the church. And it appears that some of the older members were specifically asked to speak at the event.
The sound quality is uneven, despite a digital remastering. But the audio is clear enough to understand what's being said.
This was recorded on cassette tape, so the audio start and stop abruptly. There could be a second cassette tape that recorded the end of the event. But it hasn't been found (if it exists at all).
Side One - Atwell Somerville
Atwell Somerville was the church's self-appointed historian. As you can hear, he thoroughly researched the church's history, and knows it well. He's speaking without notes. Atwell relates the origins and history of the church from the 1700s through the end of the Civil War.
Side Two - Congregation Memories
Jean Berkman serves as MC for the assembly. Below is a list of the members who spoke and where they appear in the recording.
0:00 Louise Lord shares her story growing up in the church. Her parents joined in 1922, and Louise joined at age 12. Her great, great, grandfather was a Presbyterian missionary from Scotland who baptized Andrew Jackson.
7:32 Jean Berkman reads a letter from Jackie Maddex. She related life in the church during the Second World War.
9:07 Emma Francis Bartley relates her time in the church. Her family moved to Orange and joined OPC in 1921. She tells the story of the cattle sales at the Virginia Tech Reserch Center. The Women of the Church sold food and refreshments at the sales, held five times a year. The money helped pay off the church's mortgage.
12:51 Dan Sale talks about how the church expanded from the corner, replacing three homes over several decades.
14:48 Jean Berkman reads excerpts from a letter written by Jack Maddox. He relates how the church was run in the late 1940s and early 1950s.
17:15 Russell Bailey talks about his experience at OPC. He joined the church in 1945. He talks about Rev. Dick Taylor. Bailey was an architect, and so was Rev. Taylor before turning to ministry.
20:31 Betty Bailey tells the story of how the church embraced their special needs child, and helped her become a member in the 1950s.
22:33 Richard Sanford reads excerpts from his mother's recollection of the church. The tape runs out before he can get to the substance of the letter.