Overheard, out and about, Mrs. Grundy sees all, tells all

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 8, 2010

Peeping through my Venetian blind, I saw in bloom in my cottage garden, along the road, and across the way at Covington Hall weigela, daylilies, dandelions, lagustrum, Dutch clover, wild roses, Sweet William, privet hedge, red honeysuckle, chinaberries, oakleaf hydrangeas, begonias, petunias, geraniums, Van Fleet roses and Thweatt roses.
About six generations ago, privet hedges were the fashion, especially at country homes. In those days, people kept grass pulled from their yards. It was considered shameful to have grass growing out front. What one wanted was a sandy, smooth surface, swept clean with a broom-straw broom or cluster of bare branches.  Often, a row of privet hedge skirted the front porch of a house or outlined the sides of the yard. These hedges replaced fences and required regular trimming and boxing. Privet hedge was cheap (free) and could be transplanted from roadsides and woods.  Lawnmowers changed the style to grassy lawns.
A little bird tells me that Don Lingle, former minister of music at First Baptist, Andalusia, was given a surprise 70th birthday party May l at Lake Martin by his children, Kristen and Jeremy. Of course, Don’s Dot.com was there and a number of friends. I hear tell that his actual date of birth is April 29.
Jed Blackwell, co-executive director of the South Alabama Regional Airport, hosted a tour of the airport for the senior adults of Cedar Grove Church of Christ recently. Jed heads up the Cedar Grove ministry to their senior adults. After the tour all ate at the airport restaurant.
Motoring over to Perry’s for the Sunday buffet last weekend, I passed the hilltop home of Mrs. Smith. The neat house was edged on three sides with a horseshoe garden of petunias, snapdragons, amaryllis, roses, coreopsis, English daisies and violas. Mrs. Smith, like her garden, is a smile on the face of her community and a blessing to humanity.
John and Mary “the Belle of Excel” Hill were treated to dinner in the House Restaurant of the Renaissance Hotel in Montgomery May l in honor of their 60th wedding anniversary. Joan (Hill) Mitchell of Andalusia and Jane Hill Crain of Birmingham hosted their parents, along with Joan’s husband, James, the Mitchell sons, Ryan and Matthew, Matthew’s date, Emily Frost, and Harrell and Ann Cushing of Montgomery. Dr. Cushing, who worded the blessing, is a former, two-terms pastor at First Baptist in Andalusia, and with his wife, close friends of the Hills.
Mary remarked to her husband, “If you make the living, I’ll make it worthwhile!”
Jason Tucker, one of my former students, pianist at First Baptist, and band director at the Andalusia Middle School, tells me that I didn’t begin my quotation from Longfellow’s “Paul Revere” correctly. I started at the third line.  The first begins, “Listen, my children, and you shall hear.” Thank you, Jason.
At the bank the other day I read the following instructions: “Bring rolled coin or bulk deposits to lobby.” It is common practice today to use bring instead of take, yet one should use take when one is going somewhere.
Seen at Country Folks in Florala Tuesday night for the buffet were James T. and Eula Davis, Charles Jeffcoat and his daughter Teresa Therote, and her Kaitlyn, Robert Lee Holley, Letha Barrow, her daughter Susan Barrow Henderson, and Mrs. Barrow’s son, Mike and his wife.
Gillis “the Combman” Jones and his Laura Ann, as well as R. E. Ivey and his Edwyna, attended their 62nd high-school reunion April 30 and May 1 in Evergreen, meeting in the Methodist Church Fellowship Hall. Actually, three classes of Evergreen High School, 1947, 1948 and 1949, made the weekend a triple reunion. Gillis was in the Class of 1948; the Iveys, in 1947.  Gillis was quick to point out that he was the only one without grey hair.
Said he, “I didn’t want to stay.  There was nobody there but old folks!”
Someone spoke for each class; Gillis represented ’48.
Meals were catered.
S. Daniel Shehan of Savannah, Ga., was a guest of the United Daughters of the Confederacy (Chapter No. 2) at the historic Green-Meldrim House, Savannah, for the annual celebration of Confederate Memorial Day, April 24.
Attired in period dress, Mr. Shehan enjoyed hors d’oeuvres and entertainment by Steven Branyon, pianist, and the 22nd Georgia Company Band.
Central Church of Christ sponsored Teacher Appreciation Day Sun., May 2, recognizing and honoring teachers in morning worship and with a luncheon immediately following the service.
Travis Perry is the inventor of ChordBuddy, a device that can be attached to the neck of a stringed instrument to help beginners learn their chords.  Travis and others with stringed instruments play in a band called “Pure and Simple.”
The Young Musicians Choir, directed by Sonia Crigger, presented a Christian musical, Knight Camp at Rock Kingdom, last Sunday night at First Baptist, Andalusia.  Mrs. Crigger was assisted by Wynne Glenn and Mary Ashley Wise.
The youth were confident and talented in their presentation of some ten, costumed scenes and some nine songs.
Participating were Anna Ballard, Will Black, Hannah Bulger, Branyon Clarke, Georgia Dean, Trish Echols, Steadman Glenn, Cooper Gooden, Blakely Hammonds, Grant Holley, Joshua Jones, Marie Josey, Millie Manring, Peyton Miller, Ben Parker, Anna Grace Thomas, Tessa Walker, Alden Wells, and Callen Woodard.
Assisting the youth as their “Grandpa Jubal” was the not-so-ancient Neal Dansby.
The senior adults of First Baptist, Andalusia, were honored last Sunday morning.  A. G. and Pat Palmore, husband and wife, were voted the outstanding senior adults for the year.  The senior-adult choir, the Glory Singers, sang two specials, “Turn Your Radio On” and “The Old-Fashioned Meeting,” directed by Dwight Crigger, minister of music, accompanied by Martha Givhan, pianist.
Jeanice Kirkland, organist, and Jason Tucker, pianist, played a lovely offertory, “O Master, Let Me Walk with Thee.”
The Covington County Education Retirees Association met May 5 in Florala City Middle School for their last meeting of the academic year.
President Joe Wingard, at the end of his two-year term, presided for the last time.
Geraldine Boothe, immediate past president, worded the devotional and prayer.
Elaine Chavers read her last minutes.  Harriet Scofield presented the treasurer’s report.
Committee reports were made by Kim Dyess (membership) and Dean Morris (social).
A motion to send flowers to Caron Johnson, member, for her 101st birthday May 23 was passed unanimously.
Officers for 2010-2011 were installed by this year’s officers:  Allen Miller, president; Sharon Dye, vice-president; Gayle Weeks, secretary; and Harriet Scofield, treasurer.
Gifts of appreciation were given to Mrs. Boothe, chaplain, Vice-president Miller, Secretary Chavers, and Treasurer Scofield.
Mr. Miller introduced the program, a tour of Florala City Middle School, which is closing at the end of this year.
Principal Rodney Drish, a friendly and enthusiastic leader, welcomed the CCERA.  He plans to move to Red Level next fall as elementary principal.
Business was conducted in a room with cloth-covered tables, centered with arrangements of coreopsis, where the retirees later ate a lunch prepared by Dian McCurley, adult-education coordinator, and financed by the staff of The Cat Chronicles, the award-winning newspaper published by FCMS for the Head Start program, and Florala’s elementary, middle and high schools.
The retirees next met in the auditorium for informative talks by Principal Drish and some outstanding students, plus a Power Point presentation about the many projects of FCMS, made possible by a cornucopia of financial aid.
Robert Morris, a student, took photographs of the tour.
A tour of the school’s fisheries, water gardens, fruit trees and new koi pond with fountain and waterfall followed.
Fresh cabbage, lettuce, and strawberries were viewed – and sampled!
Mrs. McCurley’s lunch, served on cloth and accented with red roses, was enjoyed leisurely – trimmed, chicken-salad sandwiches, crackers and salad dip, deviled eggs, brownies, banana-nut bread, coffee and tea.
Some expressed sadness that all the improvements they had seen, as well as the lovely, old building, would soon be abandoned. A sign over the door read 1912. The students and staff will melt into other schools next term.
The hospitality of the staff and students was touching. The accomplishments of the school were impressive.  The retirees were given a wonderful time in the last days of the middle school.
Attending were Elaine Chavers, Sharon Dye, Gayle Sims, Harriet Scofield, Gayle Weeks, Geraldine Boothe, Earl and Dot Jones, Lillie M. Thompson, Allen and Marlene Miller, Dean Morris, Linda Powell, Mary Bass, Christine Wilson, Kim Dyess, Ethel M. Robertson, and Joe Wingard.
Yesterday, by-the-by, was the birth date for three famous persons:  Robert Browning, an English poet, who wrote, “Oh, to be in England, now that April’s there”; Johannes Brahms, a German composer and pianist, who wrote that famous lullaby; and Peter Tchaikovsky, Russian composer, who wrote some of the most melodic and beautiful music ever heard.
Upcoming dates to remember include the following: Awards Day at A.H.S., May 21; the combined choral and band concerts at A.H.S., May 17 at 6 p.m.; baccalaureate at A.H.S., May 23; graduation at A.H.S., May 28; Grease (the musical) at A.H.S. tonight; Hamlet and All’s Well That Ends Well at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, now through May 22; and Jasmine Hill Gardens, now through June 27, weekends only.
Those who know of Covington County writers, please tell Jan White, Karin Taylor of the public library, or Joe Wingard, all of whom are trying to compile a master list of local authors for the big town homecoming next November 12.
The Portly Gentleman attended the l3th annual Alabama Writers Symposium in Monroeville, the “Literary Capital of Alabama,” April 29 – May 1 on the attractive campus of Alabama Southern Community College, formerly Patrick Henry Junior College. The white dome atop the campus library imitates the famous, be-clocked dome over the Monroeville Courthouse.
The opening event was an evening banquet in the Monroeville Community House, a modern, ranch-style, rectangular, brick-and-glass structure, originally built by Vanity Fair and later given to the city. The banquet featured a speech by Warren St. John, a reporter for the New York Times and author of Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer and Outcasts United, about refugees in Clarkston, Ga.
His themes were diversity, adapting to change that’s coming, and finding a new identity when one’s home is taken away.
Said the Portly One, “I ran into Gary and Lynne Jones, the mother of Thomas Jones and Darcy Jones. Gary and Lynne are professional photographers in Florala. With them was Patsy Peoples, an English teacher for the last 23 years at Florala High School.”
What’s Cooking? of Uriah catered all the weekend meals. The opening dinner included prime rib, stuffed potatoes, asparagus spears, yeast rolls, garden salad with raspberry vinaigrette and cheesecake.
At table with the Portly Gentleman was Dr. Douglas Mitchell of the University of Mobile, author of a book of six, scholarly essays about Southern authors who also wrote history. The Portly One was delighted to find someone with whom to discuss William Gilmore Simms (the subject of Mitchell’s first chapter) and other Southern writers, such as Lanier, Hayne, Timrod, Abram Ryan, and Augusta Jane Evans Wilson, whose childhood home is just around the corner from Mitchell’s house in Mobile. Mitchell is especially interested in Ryan, who was also a Catholic. Both Wilson and Ryan lived in Mobile and are buried there.
The next day was one Alabama writer after another, speaking, reading from his work, answering questions, each introduced by a scholar or fellow author, all in the Nettles Auditorium of Alabama Southern.
Speaking were Ralph Eubanks, whose themes concern race, presented by Jacqueline Trimble, who teaches English at Huntingdon in Montgomery; Philip Shirley, who writes about sports and works for Alabama’s oldest advertising company, presented by Anita Miller Garner, who teaches English at the University of North Alabama; Eddie Curran, a newspaper reporter who has written a book about the legal troubles of Governor Siegelman, presented by Dr. Mitchell; Sue Walker, Alabama’s poet laureate, speaking alone; Ted Dunagan, Georgia’s author of the year and writer of The Yellow Watermelon, presented by Nancy Anderson, who teaches English at Auburn at Montgomery; Rheta Grimsley Johnson, a syndicated columnist, presented by Anita Miller Garner; Jim Noles, who has written a history based on state quarters and one about 50 important Alabamians, presented by Rob Gray, a poet and English instructor at the University of South Alabama; and Connie Baggett, who sang her own songs, accompanying herself with a guitar.
In Sue Walker’s presentation, in which she read from her own poetry, the Poet Laureate of the State stated, “The key to writing poetry is to read poetry.”
At a book signing by attending authors, the Portly One spoke with Rheta Grimsley Johnson, finding that she was born in Georgia, grew up in Montgomery, and spent one year only at Morningview Elementary School, where the Portly One spent six, being in the very first, first grade there. The two were delighted to find that they had had the same, fine teacher, Mrs. Hardin, in the third grade, and went about the rest of the weekend, calling each other “Morningview.”
The sessions were broken by a noonday luncheon, again in the Monroeville Community House, which sits on a wooded slope above a duck-filled lake.
This time the Portly One sat with the genial Glenda Lee Blow, first lady of Alabama Southern, wife of its president, Bill Blow; George and Vanessa Landegger, siblings and two of the five children of George Landegger, the philanthropist; and Carol Highsmith, working on a project for the Library of Congress to record states, beginning with Alabama, in photographs.
Among the Portly One’s common acquaintances with the Blows were Vernon and Lisa (Thomasson) Taylor of Prattville, best friends with the Blows’ daughter, Leanne, and her husband, Brett Crawford; Tommy and Michelle Gerlach, at whose restaurant in Atmore the Blows had eaten; and Thelma Graddack, cousin to Mrs. Blow and close friend to Margaret Banks of Atmore, a cousin of the Portly Gentleman.
The luncheon centered around two awards, one for the 2010 Harper Lee Award for Alabama’s Distinguished Writer, given to Carolyn Haines, and one for the 2010 Eugene Current-Garcia Award for Alabama’s Distinguished Literary Scholar, given to Ralph Voss.
Harper Lee, of course, a native of Monroeville, author of To Kill a Mockingbird, still living, was on everyone’s lips. A version of her novel, made into a play, was presented that weekend.
Carolyn Haines has penned 10 books about Sara Booth Delaney and her “Bones” mystery series.  She teaches fiction at the University of South Alabama.
Ralph Voss taught English at the University of Alabama and is interested in Kansas themes. He is currently writing about Truman Capote, who spent his summers in Monroeville, and Capote’s book, In Cold Blood.
Also honored was George Landegger, the senior, for his many contributions to culture.  He was given a prolonged, standing ovation.
That afternoon many enjoyed a picnic of fried fish on the lawn of the Monroeville Courthouse, made famous by Atticus Finch’s defense of Tom Robinson. Overcast skies and cooling breezes made the picnic exciting.
The Portly Gentleman enjoyed conversations with Ralph Voss; Bert Hitchcock, former head of the English Department at Auburn; Dr. Wayne Flynt, noted Alabama historian; Sue Walker, Alabama’s poet laureate; and Ted Dunagan, Georgia’s “Author of the Year.”
As the Portly One was getting out of his sedan on the square, he noticed a name on an office door, M. DeWayne Beesley – Attorney at Law, one of his former students.
Earlier that day the Portly Gentleman had run into Miss Marion Bumpers, affectionately known as “Bumpy,” who had motored over from her home in Grove Hill to hear a reading. Miss Bumpers taught fifth grade at Morningview Elementary when the P.G. was a mere lad.  Everyone wanted Miss Bumpers for a teacher; everyone loved her – and still does.  Just ask Jeanice Kirkland, who knows “Bumpy,” how wonderful she is.  She is a lady that represents all that’s wholesome, good, happy, encouraging, and optimistic! She is “Miss Happiness”!
The last morning sessions were attended in the circular courtroom of the Monroeville Courthouse.
Speakers were Anita Miller Garner, presented by Jeanie Thompson, poet; Michelle Richmond, novelist, presented by Jay Lamar, director of an arts center at Auburn; and Carolyn Haines, presented by John Hafner, who teaches English at Spring Hill College in Mobile.
The weekend ended with a breakfast brunch at the Monroeville Community House, featuring the dashing Ace Atkins, novelist.
The Portly One sat at table with Bill and Glenda Blow and Wayne DeLoach, poet and treasurer of the Alabama State Poetry Society, Howard College Class of 1959.
Leaving Monroeville, the Portly One drove past the Vanity Fair Golf and Tennis Club where at that very time the Alabama – West Florida Civitans were attending their spring meeting. Inside were William Blocker, Andalusia Civitan president; Kristy White, member; Dr. Morgan Moore, past governor for the district; and
Wilma Moore, his wife.
Shan Evans, a Civitan at the L.B.W. campus, was also present with her mother.  Shan was recognized as the winner of the $1,000 John Simpson Memorial Scholarship. Dr. Moore, in charge of scholarships, presented hers to Miss Evans. The Moores stayed over in Monroeville that night to see To Kill a Mockingbird.
Gentle reader, allow me to encourage each of us to be in his place of worship tomorrow, Mother’s Day; and please wear a red rose if your mother is alive – a white, if not.  Fare thee well!