Dunmore king and queen wish their subjects well
It's hard to imagine a little town nicer than Dunmore. Wildflower-filled pasturesﾠ surround the town, once again surrounded by forested hilltops.
Nestled at the western base of the Allegheny Front, the historic church, immaculate gardens, farm fields and beautiful homes make a perfect picture postcard.
The nicest thing about Dunmore is its people, who celebrate their community every year during Dunmore Daze. Always hospitable, village residents give visitors a special welcome during the festival and treat them with a hearty, home-cooked meal, a parade, old time music and a square dance.
None of this costs a penny, but a donation jar sits by the door of the community center, the village's all-important gathering place.
During the festival, people of the village honor two residents, who have contributed to the community in a variety of ways, and crown them king and queen.
This year's monarchs are King Bill Lovelace and Queen Dorothy Lovelace. Dorothy is Bill's sister-in-law and sister of Bill's departed wife.
Dorothy was born and raised in Dunmore and moved to Washington, D.C., where she worked in the State Department as an administrative assistant.
The queen said she enjoyed her career in Washington, during which she met lots of interesting people, including President Jimmy Carter, Secretary of State James Schultz, Queen Juliana of the Netherlands and several celebrities.
After her retirement from government service, Queen Dorothy retired and moved back to Dunmore with her husband Kline, who passed away 11 years ago.
Surprised by the announcement, Dorothy was proud to be queen.
"I'm proud of it because I was raised here," she said. "I went to school right here in this building. Dunmore is special because of the people. Friendly people - people who are willing to keep the town going and keep the community center going and people who attend our churches."
The community center, where concerts, parties, cakewalks, bingo, benefits, breakfasts and suppers are held, is a vital asset, said Dorothy.
"I told them to keep the community center going and to get younger people interested in running the community center," she said.
King Bill Lovelace is a life-long resident of Pocahontas County and a well-known country music performer. He is beloved in Dunmore for his kindness and his wonderful cowboy tunes, which he often performs at the community center.
Bill worked as a mechanic, timber cutter and school bus driver and eventually went to work at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in 1965 as a driver and later, as a security officer. He retired in 1982 - the same year his wife died at age 52.ﾠ
Bill grew up in a musical family.
"It all started with my mother and my mother's family and I just plain grew up with it," he said. "I was the oldest grandson and the first grandson. My mother was an Arbogast - her first name being Juanita - born in 1908.
"My grandfather was a band teacher, whose picture's on the wall over there with the old brass band from years ago. They had a lot of brass bands in the past but, as time went along,ﾠ the brass bands faded away and they started more in the string music."
It's a special treat to hear the king strum his guitar and sing soulful cowboy ballads. The Dunmore crooner said he was inspired in his younger days by singers Gene Autry and Roy Rogers.
"Gene Autry was the first cowboy singer," he said. "That was before Roy Rogers' time."
Not born into royalty, the king lived through some hard times, during which a trip to the theater in Marlinton to see a movie was a special experience.
"Roy Rogers was a western movie actor and singer," he said. "He had a great influence on me as a young child. We lived about 20 miles here to Marlinton to a theater and money was another story, but occasionally I got to go to the movies. I loved all the entertainers and the movie actors."
Other musical influences included Tex Ritter and Jimmy Rogers.
"Jimmy Smith was very instrumental and he didn't do cowboy stuff, generally speaking," he said. "Most of his stuff was blues and so forth. Great singer and great yodeler and he was a brakeman on the Southern Railroad. He was buried in Meridian, Mississippi - that was his hometown."
The Arbogast Family played on WRON radio in Ronceverte and Bill performed concerts, including many benefits, throughout the area.
Bill started a band in 1966 along with co-workers at the NRAO - the Quadrillers. The band played at the first Pioneer Days square dance in 1966 and for many years thereafter.