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Taylor Memorial Pool: Forty years of memories

A ribbon-cutting was held Sunday at the 40th anniversary celebration of the Ricky Taylor Memorial Swimming Pool in Deltaville. Above, from left, preparing to cut the ribbon on the Ricky Taylor Memorial marker are, from left, Ricky’s mother, Julia Wray Taylor; event official Betsy Hudgins; and Ricky’s sister, Roxanne Taylor-May. (Photos by Larry Chowning)

by Larry S. Chowning

Last Sunday the community of Deltaville celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Ricky Taylor Memorial Pool with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and a picnic at the pool, which is owned by the Deltaville Community Association (DCA).

Ten-year-old Ricky Taylor was killed in 1968 when he fell off a float after the July 4th Deltaville Parade. The tragedy inspired the Christian Youth Unlimited (CYU), an interdenominational group, along with the Deltaville community to raise funds for the pool, tennis courts and to purchase 3 acres of land adjoining the DCA property. At that time, the leader of the group was Rev. David G. Brown Jr., a young minister at Philippi Christian Church in Deltaville.

A 40th anniversary cake was cut and served at the ceremony.

At Sunday’s ceremony, Walter Allen Harrow, who was president of the DCA in 1968, said the pool and playground are a reminder of what the “community can do when it puts its mind to it. The pool has meant so much to the youth of our community. It has also been a wonderful tribute to the short life of Ricky Taylor.”

At the ceremony, the Taylor family was honored and Ricky’s mother, Julia Wray Taylor, thanked the community for its continued support of the pool and playground.

The ribbon-cutting was supposed to have been performed by Dr. Brown, but he was unable to attend. Brown has been named a grand marshal for the Deltaville July 4th Parade this Saturday. He will be in the community this Friday and Saturday and riding in the Saturday parade.

Betsy Hudgins, who was a member of the CYU when it was active, cut the ribbon around the redecorated monument at the pool in honor of Ricky Taylor. The remodeled granite stone has a picture etching of Ricky engraved on one side. The photo etching was taken of Ricky not long before he was killed.

Ricky’s brother David thanked Kent Walker of Walker’s Carpets in Richmond for creating the granite etching, and also thanked John M. Frances of Deltaville for helping him mount the plaque.

Following the ceremony, a covered-dish lunch was served to the community, and a special pool anniversary cake was cut.

History of the CYU

by Larry S. Chowning

In an article on the history of the pool published in the June 18 Southside Sentinel, it was stated that Rev. David G. Brown Jr. was the founder of the CYU. However, the CYU was actually started as a county-wide Christian youth outreach program through Zoar Baptist Church in Deltaville.

According to church minutes, in June of 1967 the seed was planted for the CYU when Edward Harrow Sr. requested that he be allowed to start a nondenominational youth group through the church. Walter Allen Harrow was the chairman of the church deacons at that time.

The minutes state that Edward Harrow was the leader of the Christian Youth Unlimited and that the youth organization had already been organized and was to be interdenominational for ages 15-20. Edward Harrow requested the use of the recreation center for dances and also to use the center after Sunday evening church services for a youth social hour.

The minutes also state there would be CYU projects, such as car washes, to raise money in order for the group to be self-supporting.

A letter from the board of deacons to Edward Harrow at that time stated, “The entire board expressed gratitude for your interest in the young people and join with you in proposing with you the need for a Christian youth organization at Zoar involving the age group you have in mind.”

Interestingly, the board suggested very few limitations except that the group refrain from dancing on Sunday night. “The board is not opposed to dancing on any other night in the week for the group membership at the community center, but feels that Sunday is a very special day in the life of the Christian.”

“It (CYU) was interdenominational from the beginning,” said Edward Harrow last week. “I had written to every minister in the county and told them that I planned to form the youth group, and wanted to know if it would interfere with any other youth programs in the county. 

“We met at Zoar for a while and our final meeting place was the community center. We operated a coffee house on one side of the building. We had a wood stove and they decorated.

“We met on Friday nights and had a few dances that my wife and I and community members chaperoned,” said Harrow. “When Dave [Brown]came, he was young and vivacious and wanted to carry the CYU to another level. So, I turned the reins over to him.”

Edward Harrow said that Rev. Brown brought a “zeal and spark” to the program that could not have been equaled by anyone. “Rev. Brown did a beautiful job, and did everything and more than what has been said about him.”

The CYU continued to meet until the mid-1970s and was one of strongest young groups ever formed in the county.

posted 07.02.2009

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