Tag Archives: Royal Aires

Why Europe

Betty and Harley, ca. 2013, courtesy of Sandy Moyer[Betty]: He [Taylor] wasn’t around much. Daddy would go to church if he was in town, but he made no effort to engineer getting us to church. He would be in the car beeping the horn on Sunday morning. When we went to Park Street Church, he would drive us and sit in church. I think he went to the drug store to get a Coca Cola while we were in Sunday school.

The idea of missions started with Lee when she felt called of the Lord. When Lee decides something, you don’t get in her way. She was very serious.

I was afraid to ask my father to leave the country, but he was extremely pleased. It was a surprise to me. I thought he was against his girls leaving home.

Education was what was important to Daddy. He had three different master degrees. He thought we should have as much education as possible, the boys and the girls. So I attended Boston University. I paid for it on scholarship, and Wally and Lee helped financially, too.

I studied music, music history and piano, for two years and then transferred to Wheaton for a Christian background. There I had a partial scholarship and I did the work-study program. I washed dishes and worked in the snack-bar.

It was marrying Harley that got me involved in France.

[Harley]: I did a six-month tour with the Royal Aires, a quartet, in Sweden. During the early part of the sixth month, the Lord told me, “You’re going to Finland.”

Fine with me, I thought, but I don’t know anything about it. We were in Helsinki for four nights. The auditorium was packed out. We were in a big downtown church. Over 110 people came to the Lord. After we gave the invitation, I turned around to move chairs in case people came forward. When I turned back, the aisles were full and they were still coming.

During the days, a fleet of taxi cabs took us to meetings at a school, a church, a park, factories, and even with dancers. One of the seven pastors at the cathedral asked us to cancel the rest of our tour in Sweden and stay in Finland. Initially we said yes, but in praying about it, we decided no. We had made commitments.

They booked our return tickets and promised to outfit us with warm clothes. They put a tentative reservation on the Olympic stadium being built for 1952 Olympics. They promised to fill the stadium with 75 thousand.

We returned to the US by ship and slept whole time. We’d had three 1-hr meetings every day plus evening concerts for entire six months.

Two of the fellows went back to school so they wouldn’t be drafted. The group disbanded. I thought the world had come to an end. We’d sung together for five years.

(42 years later, we had a reunion at Canyon Lake. We hadn’t forgotten anything in our repertoire. Our baritone came from Ohio. One was in Buffalo, NY. One was in Rochester, NY. The second tenor and pianist had passed away.)

At the end of our Sweden tour, we’d traveled down through continent to reach our ship. We saw the wartime desolation. As we passed Cologne, Germany, I looked out the window. It was black. There was no building over one story. Rubble everywhere. But the spire and flying buttresses of the cathedral were in perfect condition, which is a tribute to American bombing. The bombers saved that. That is what gave me a vision for missions in Europe.

Anyway, it was raising money to go back to Finland that introduced me to a European missionary to Japan. She stayed at their house. She married a doctor. This is what gave Betty a vision for missions. Then we were introduced to Greater Europe Mission.

story as recalled by Betty and Harley Smith (Betty’s husband) in a conversation with Dawn Harrell (Steve’s daughter), November 13, 2013

Can you add to the story? Please do. Write in the box below (You may need to click “Leave a Reply” above to make the box, name, and address fields appear.).

  • Do you have a photo of Harley and Betty embarking on their first France trip? Can we see it? How about one of Betty’s graduation from college or Harley with his singing group?
  • Can you add details to the story of the missionary to Japan and her influence on Betty?
  • Can you tell more about the process of finding and joining GEM? What year was that?
  • What years was Betty at BU? At Wheaton?
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Harley Waxes Eloquent; Betty Prays

Betty speaking at Bob's Funeral, courtesy of Colin Duncan 2Harley knew Betty’s best girlfriend Lorraine Hernandez. On his first trip to Boston, Bob Damen set Harley up with Lorraine, who eventually became Lorraine Hughey.

Harley was just back from his Royal Aires tour in Sweden, so he spoke at Crusade. Crusade was the name of the youth outreach group that Wally had started. Betty played the piano and accompanied Harley as he sang a solo that first night (March 24, 1951).

He needed a place to spend the night before returning to Rochester, New York, where he lived, so Wally invited him to overnight with the Duncans. He stayed two more nights.

Betty and Harley Smith's Wedding Party, courtesy of Sandy MoyerThen he came back to visit Betty, commuting from Rochester three or four times before he asked her to marry him (m. June 28, 1952).

Harley asked Betty first. He had it all planned, even checking that the moon would be full. Sunday night after church, they went for a drive around Crystal Lake in New Hampshire. Then, where the road runs right down to the water, he parked and presented her with the eloquent invitation to marriage that he had memorized. A full moon shone off the lake. Everything was perfect.

Betty asked him to repeat himself. She couldn’t believe what she’d heard.

Harley was in the middle of saying it all again when a police car pulled up. Four cops piled out of the squad car and surrounded Harley’s vehicle to tell him he couldn’t park down there.

“Wait a minute,” Harley said. “I just asked her to marry me.”

Just then the radio in squad car went off. The police had to answer the call, so they left one guy to find out what happened. Harley had to drive him back to the station.

Meanwhile, Betty said they were Christians and this was a surprise and she had to pray about it. Harley took her home. She and Mother (Virginia) knelt down by her bed and prayed about it.

Three weeks later, Betty went to Rochester and together they drove to Binghamton where Bob Damen was performing. The only place they could find to be alone was a graveyard, so Betty said “yes” to Harley in a graveyard.

Harley asked Daddy (Taylor) second. According to Betty, Daddy had loved Harley from beginning. When Harley asked to speak with him, Daddy took him back into his study and shut the door.

story as recalled by Betty and Harley Smith (Betty’s husband) in a conversation with Dawn Harrell (Steve’s daughter), November 13, 2013

Can you add to the story? Please do. Write in the box below (You may need to click “Leave a Reply” above to make the box, name, and address fields appear.).

  • Harley and Betty told me this story on a bad Skype connection and Harley isn’t in the position to check my work. What about the ring? Do you have details to add or correct? Please do!
  • Anybody else have a proposal story they want to tell about one of the eight? Let’s hear it!
  • Are Lorraine Hughey and Bob Damen in the wedding party photo?
  • Anybody have a photo of Betty accompanying Harley on the piano that you’d like to share?