This article written by Laurie Pearson first appeared in The Elk Valley Times’ Millennium Edition published Jan. 1, 2000. To read the rest of the story from our archives, just click here
“They took Fayetteville by storm,” said John Shutt, an old friend of Jimmy and Havelon Gearish.
John and his wife Margaret, now in their 80s, reminisce about the late, but unforgettable Gearish couple and the impact they had on Fayetteville when they came to town on tour in 1934.
Jimmy and Havelon met while they were in the Chautauqua Talent Group, which performed throughout the United States and Canada.
“They were very talented … fun to be with and had so many stories to tell about their experiences,” said John.
Decked out in show clothing with spats covering the instep and ankles of his shoes, Jimmy Gearish, walked up the streets of the small town. Finding that the town’s people would speak to him, he decided it was a friendly town and bought some acreage on Wells Hill Road, said John.
The Gearishes moved to Fayetteville in 1935, Havelon cancelled a contract to do a play in New York and signed a contract with Fayetteville to teach piano, voice, dancing and music at schools in the city and county.
Drama and speech were taught by Jimmy at Central High School.