“It was wonderful to be together again and hear everybody’s memories,” Abbie (Reichmann) Hubbard said. “Forty years ago the group grew from 20 to 50 to 75 people in the first year because we were fun. We all loved the Lord but we had crazy personalities. It was the 70s; we’d graduated from college and it seemed like everybody around us was bar hopping. We were all looking for good clean fun instead. We had crazy, wholesome fun – there was no drinking, and we even went disco dancing together. It was a safe group and we looked out for each other.”
“Our group was originally called ‘Inbetweeners,’ explained Susan (Riddle) Bidart. “We were college graduates, but then people started getting married. The name Salt Company worked because in Biblical times, salt was used to preserve food, and as Christians, we’re called to preserve good things in the world. We were all good friends, and we did life together.”
Debbie (Arnold) Primrose explained that God used the sad loss of Abbie’s mother to help birth the group.
“Abbie found herself in an empty home and longed for a family,” Primrose explained. “Susan moved in and soon Abbie encouraged Rich Kredel to start a Bible Study in her home. At that first meeting (about six of us) Rich asked us to commit to coming each Thursday night and commit to prayer. The rest is history—God working out His purpose. The Salt Company is a testament to the many seeds produced by God’s faithfulness.”
Kredel remembers the early days fondly.
“God was clearly at work, sometimes in spite of us,” Kredel said. “The group was really spontaneous and organic – no church planned this. Abbie had gone on a singles retreat and was committed to starting a Christian fellowship. She invited me to come, and then said that Jim Astor and I were going to lead it. There was a genuine interest in having a Christian singles group and studying the Bible.”
Kredel said after Abbie’s, other locations for Salt Company included Sergeant Pepperonis, Eastbluff Boys and Girls Club, the Dining Commons at Southern California College (now Vanguard), and Plaza de Cafes.
“We were led by volunteers, and after a year and a half of growth, we realized we needed help,” Kredel said. “We were attached to Mariners Church and finally in 1978 Mariners hired a staff member for us. Salt Company ended in the 90s, and we’ve had 40 consecutive Christmas reunions! There is a directory and email prayer list. We have Karen (Amburgey) Harrison to thank; she keeps us all connected.”
During the course of the evening, people shared memories of Bible studies, costume parties, square dancing, hiking, camping, retreats, and baptisms.
Lives then went on to include weddings, babies, childrearing and now grand parenting. Sixty couples came from within the group. They have also provided support after deaths of loved ones. There are now three widows in the group, and they tribute the group for helping them with their grief and life without their spouses.
“Three men from this group championed my life when my husband Bill died suddenly at 40 years old and I had three young children,” explained Jean (Russell) Winder. “They teamed up to help me sell a home, move, rent a home, invest money, figure out school and church options, and offered emotional support. Their families gave us a sense of normalcy. I could never have navigated widowhood without them.”
Cindy can be reached at [email protected]