Monday, December 28, 2009

The Betsy B

The Betsy B is just a building. I know this is a true statement, but it somehow does not do the "old girl" justice. For too many years- from 1981 until 2000- she was a huge part of my life and ministry. Today I want to tell you our story.

In 1980, Martha Ratledge Farlow and I were working as youth leaders at New Garden Friends Meeting, and we decided to put together a reunion for the folks we had been in youth group with during our high school days. We researched and found a house at North Myrtle Beach, and we rented it. The following year we did it again, but decided on a different house, oceanfront in the Ocean Drive section of NMB. This house was The Betsy B. The "B" is a three story house, and each level is rented separately. Each level sleeps 14, as long as you really like each other! In those days we never needed the whole thing, so we often had neighbors. There is nothing fancy about the "B." In fact, after doing the reunion there a couple of years, some of our group wanted to stay at a nicer place, so we quit using it.  

In 1988, the summer after our first Walt Disney World trip from Springfield Friends Meeting, we decided to take the group to NMB. I called about the "B" only to discover that the realty company no longer rented to groups or house parties. After some negotiating, they agreed to "grandfather" me in. We could rent the house; but if we ever messed anything up it would be the last time we would stay there. We stayed at the "B" in '88 and '89 with Springfield, and returned in 1995, 1997, and 1999 with First UMC-Kissimmee. All of those trips are filled with memorable stories that you will read about later. The highlight of The Betsy B for me was the same no matter which group I was with.  I loved that you could sit on the big wrap-around oceanfront porches any time of day and see amazing things. During the day I could see the crowded beach, the beautiful Atlantic Ocean and the bright sunshine while the kids' boom boxes blasted out great music. At night I could sit out on the porch and see the moon reflect off the ocean, or watch amazing thunderstorms out at sea. I could sit quietly and wait in the cool ocean breeze and eventually youth would come out to sit and talk about life, faith, relationships and heartache. I could take my guitar out and began to play and write songs, and eventually a crowd would come out for some spontaneous worship. Students tell me quite often that their favorite memory of our youth ministry was singing with me on the porch of The Betsy B. It's near the top of my list as well.

The Betsy B was so important to so many of us that Jim & Karen Fry, who chaperoned several of the Kissimmee groups, started taking their own kids and their friends after I left for Chicago. They were still able to use my "grandfather" status- a real testament to all the kids who kept our reputation in place over the years. Marilyn, Will and I came down from Illinois and joined them in 2000- my last trip to the "B." I miss the place, but the memories are rich and plentiful. And I haven't given up hope that one of you will decide to buy it for us so I can put my Hall of Fame there someday...

Because of Jesus,

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous9/20/2012

    I spent many summers at the Betsy B as a kid. At the time it was only 2 stories. (It was the 1970s). My best memories are from those summers. Many hours on that porch reading and watching the ocean. My brother and I would walk up to the pavilion in the evenings. So glad it's all still there!


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