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Underwood Inauguration

Charleston Daily Mail
January 15, 1957

Reception Thrills High School Group

By Jim Millstone of The Daily Mail Staff

Out of the crush of more than 1,500 bandsmen, the son of two Republican voters emerged as the first to shake the hand of Gov. Underwood.

The occasion was the governor's reception for the high school musicians who weathered snow and ice to march in his inaugural parade. Underwood threw open the doors of his reception room in the Capitol Building shortly after 1 p.m., and the handshaking marathon began.

The honor of hitting the line first went to Joe Ingerick, 15, a sophomore at Point Pleasant High School and a clarinet player in the band.

"It really feels good to shake a big guy's hand," Joe commented from behind a flushed face as he stepped from the reception room.

He said his parents, Mr. and Mrs. J. A. Ingerick, both are Republicans.

Other teen-agers registered emotions ranging from ecstasy to nonchalance at the prospect of passing the time of day with their new governor.


Two girls from Wahama High School in Mason raised their eyebrows, opened their eyes wide and said something like "Wooohooo," when asked what they thought of Underwood. Sharon Berry, 16, who once lived in Charleston, said she was so excited, she couldn't remember what she had said to the governor.

"I thought he was really nice looking," said her friend, Jane Powell, 16.

If they were old enough, would they have voted for the poised and handsome Underwood? The tone of the reply was emphatic:

"Oh, yes."

Another bandsman who was visibly impressed with the experience was Forrest Ramsey Jr., 15, of Summersville.

"It thrilled me," he drawled. "I thought it was right nice of him to shake hands with all of us. Fact is, I never thought I'd ever get to shake hands with the governor. I saw that line and thought we were going in for something to eat."

The line was a corker. While the officials inside the reception room were getting ready for the greeting, the high schoolers milled around in front of the closed doors. The hodge-podge of colorful uniforms and youthful voices gave a new character to the usually dignified halls of the State Capitol.

Once state police opened the doors, the line moved swiftly. Nonetheless, one perspiring girl limped out of the room after her last handshake and told a friend, "I thought we'd never get out of there."

First in the reception line was Haven Fair, former sheriff of Marshall County and an active man for Underwood during the campaign. He passed youngsters to former Gov. marland, who presented them to Underwood. The line of state officials and their ladies curved toward an exit so that the bandsmen were able to step directly out of the room after meeting the last man in line, George H. Seibert Jr., House minority leader.

Once outside, the musicians were eligible for a box lunch, compliments of the state. It was served up by Mad Jack's Restaurant which prepared 1,800 boxes. Inside were ham and cheese sandwiches, potato chips and a piece of cake. Chocolate milk also went into the bargain.


Some of the musicians had to get started home and were unable to meet the governor and other officials. One such disappointed student was Judy Hess, 15, of Morgantown.

"I would have liked to have met him," she said, "but we have to start back in about 15 minutes."

The Marlinton High School band had the best fortune of all the groups. They arrived too late to march through the snow and ice, but in time to tour the reception line and try the food. A Marlinton student, Phyllis Lane, 15, was composed after meeting Underwood.

"I told him who I was," she said, "and he said he was glad to meet me. That was about all."

Harry Strawser Jr., 15, of Morgantown, said he might have been more impressed except he was an old hand at meeting governors.

"I've met three of 'em," he remarked, "including Mr. Underwood once before."

Reactions of other students who went through the reception line:

Elizabeth Grow, 17, Grafton:"I felt honored."

Henry Burgess, 15, Wahama:"This shows he doesn't think he's too high and mighty. He's just one of us."

Linda Schupback, 15, Wellsburg:"I was very pleased."

Louise Keister, 16, Point Pleasant:"It was a great honor. I never thought I'd get to meet him."

Larry Swearingen, 16, Richwood:"I thought it was wonderful. I could hardly wait in that crowd to get to him."

Dorothy Herring, 17, Elkins:"It was very exciting. He said he hoped we got home safe, and to come again and see him. I thought it was real nice of him."

Kay Simpson, 17, Elkins:"I think it's a great opportunity to meet and get to know the people in your state government."

While the reception was in progress, somebody set up an organ in the corridor, and a young musician found it. Music, complete with spontaneously organized vocal groups, filled the long hallways.

About 2:30 p.m., 75 minutes after it started, the reception broke up. Bandsmen straggled toward their waiting buses. State officials remained only a few more minutes.

A few minutes later, Marland left the building with a state policeman. He had a smile on his face. His next-to-last official act was completed.

"Taking the Oath" Chapter 6

West Virginia Archives and History