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

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 12, 2010

Peeping through my Venetian blind, I thought of lines from the American poet, James Russell Lowell, a section of his The Vision of Sir Launfal, “And what is so rare as a day in June? Then, if ever, come perfect days!”

Today is the birth date of Charles Kingsley, an English clergyman/writer, who penned the fairytale, Water-Babies. Probably his best-known poem, “Youth and Age” (also called “Young and Old”), is found in that book.

This past week brought the anniversary of “D-Day,” a turning point for America and the Allies during World War II, dated June 6. How many men died that day for that victory? Can the dead look back and see the results of their sacrifices? Do they ever know?

This week also brought the birthdays of Robert Schumann, German composer, and John Howard Payne, American writer of the opera Clari from which comes that most famous of songs about home, “Home, Sweet Home.” (“Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home.”) That phrase on samplers has decorated the walls of thousands of homes. Dorothy ends The Wizard of Oz with a reference to the famous song, “Oh, Auntie Em, there’s no place like home!”

By the way, June 8, 2010, was the 200th anniversary of the birth of Schumann.

Tomorrow, Lord willing, First Baptist Church of Eufaula plans to honor Dr. and Mrs. Kenneth “Ken” Wayne Bush at 6 p.m. at the Lakepoint Resort at Lake Eufaula. Dr. and Mrs. Bush have served at First Baptist, Eufaula, for 30 years. Dr. Bush, reared in the village of Sanford near Andalusia and a graduate of the Andalusia High School (Class of 1960), began preaching when still a student in school. He finished at Howard College (now Samford University), Birmingham, before going on to seminary. He served for a time under the great Edgar M. Arendall, pastor at the great Dawson Memorial Baptist Church of Birmingham. Then Dr. Bush moved on to Montezuma, Georgia, for 11-and-a-half years. The Bushes have three grown children and five grandchildren. Mrs. Bush, born Joyce Cox, was reared in Deatsville. She and Ken met when both attended Old Howard.

Andalusia Elementary School honored three graduating A.H.S. seniors with an afternoon pizza party in the school’s media center (library) May 24. A.E.S. traditionally recognizes graduates whose parents are members of the A.E.S. faculty and staff. Honored this year were Marcus Ingram, son of Kay Ingram; Cody McDaniel, son of Susan McDaniel; and Lauren Powell, daughter of Cathy Powell.

First Presbyterian Church recently accepted into membership eight individuals by transfer of letter or reaffirmation of faith – Myrtle Buitt, Harry and Joyce Hugghins, Jim Locklier, Nancy Sallans, Steve and Hope Salter and Dottie Spencer.

Mary Clyde Merrill, local piano teacher and long-time pianist at First Baptist, Andalusia, was featured with a picture and article in The Alabama Baptist, the official state paper of Alabama Baptists, June 3, 2010.

A workshop for schoolteachers and staff in Conecuh, Covington and Escambia counties is set for July 22 from 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. at W. S. Neal Elementary School in East Brewton. Sponsored by the Alabama Education Association, the workshop includes classes on legal rights and responsibilities, officer and representative training, membership recruitment, politics, and PEEHIP changes. Lunch and door prizes are to be provided. Andalusia teachers can check with Perry Dillard, local president. Covington teachers can check with Jimmy Ponds, county president.

Jasmine Hill Gardens are open Friday, Saturday and Sunday afternoons between now and June 27. Located between Montgomery and Wetumpka, the gardens are open only a few months in the year.

My friend, the Portly Gentleman, attended the annual Alabama convention (“reunion”) of the Sons of Confederate Veterans June 4 – 6 in the Lakepoint Conference Center at Lake Eufaula. I’ve asked him to tell us about it in his own words.

“I’d been in Montgomery, visiting my aged father, when I drove south on the Troy Highway until I reached 82. Turning there I drove east on a two-lane road, woodsy, rural, green, pleasant, a bit lonesome, a beautiful drive with more churches than shops. The loveliest structure I saw on my way was Hopewell United Methodist Church, sitting in a forest nook, shaped like the number seven, white, wooden, board-and-batten, gothic with the entrance in the crook of the seven and a tall, stately steeple above it.

“As I drove along, I noted red trumpet vines, daylilies, elderberries, magnolias, gardenias, crape myrtle, hydrangea, and mimosa.

“Coming to Union Springs, Alabama (U.S.A.), I drove about its wide streets, admiring the grand, old houses, library, the Bullock County court house, post office and churches, especially the Methodist. Most notable was the famous statue of a bird dog atop a pedestal right in the middle of town.

“Another two-lane led me south into Eufaula.

“There I checked into my room at the Lakepoint Lodge, part of an Alabama state park and resort on Lake Eufaula, made from the waters of the Chattahoochee River, which serve as the lower border between Western Georgia and Eastern Alabama. I think of the Georgia poet, Sidney Lanier, when I think of the Chattahoochee because of Lanier’s famous poem, ‘The Song of the Chattahoochee.’

“This Lakepoint Lodge has recently been redone. It is modern, clean, spacious, and large with 101 rooms. My room had its own private balcony, overlooking the lake. Nearby were many modern cabins (one-bedroom to four-bedroom), a marina, swimming pool, tennis courts, hiking trails, camping sites, a golf course, picnic areas, woods, and ‘water, water, everywhere.’

“The lodge had an extensive lobby, dining room, lounge, meeting rooms, banquet hall, covered and uncovered patios, walks and landscaping. Most of the walls were glass and offered fine views of the lake. Thousands of stones were used in walls and columns, giving the lodge a rustic look.

“Eufaula is just six miles south. It is an Indian name meaning ‘high bluff.’ Founded in 1813, Eufaula is most famous for its April pilgrimage of houses. There are enough grand, old houses to satisfy the most Southern of hearts. They are jaw-dropping beautiful! The Old South lives again in Eufaula.

“By the way, do you know what happens if you get too near the high bluffs? Eufaula.

“My first night I ate in the lodge restaurant, Water’s Edge, with its glass walls and views of the lake. A seafood buffet was offered. I responded.

“After dinner I sat on a large, stone patio, drank my coffee, watched the martins at their nests, and took in the tranquility of the lake.

“Saturday morning I took the breakfast buffet in the Water’s Edge and then mingled.

“I ran into Robert Reames, commander of the Alabama SCV, his wife Jackie, and their three talented children, Brendan, Matthew, and Alaina; Philip Davis, a member of the Montgomery SCV; and Joe Clark, commander of the Southeast Brigade (the counties in the southeastern part of Alabama). I had met all at last year’s ‘reunion’ in Mobile and at the national ‘reunion’ in Hot Springs, Arkansas.

“Dent’s Artillery Camp 486 of Eufaula hosted this year’s state ‘reunion.’

“An opening ceremony, lunch, and two business sessions dominated the day. An evening banquet rounded it out.

“I learned that $25,000 had been given by the Alabama SCV to the state archives in Montgomery to preserve Confederate flags.

“Much was said of the upcoming Sesquicentennial (150th anniversary) of the War Between the States, which will stretch from December, 2010-2015. South Carolina seceded in December of 1860.

“The stately Dr. Charles Baker, SCV chaplain in Alabama, prayed most of the prayers at our meetings. He brought with him from Birmingham his collection of books about the South to sell. Dr. Baker was honored with the Jefferson Davis lifetime award.

“At lunch in the Banquet Hall with its glass walls and views of the lake, I came across Mike Williams, once of Andalusia, the state SCV web-master.

“Some 31 SCV camps (local groups) were represented. Numerous awards were presented. Among the recipients was Joe Clark, who had helped plan the state ‘reunion,’ and Sir Francis McGowin, new commander of Andalusia’s Covington Rifles Camp.

“Philip Davis of Montgomery announced that next year’s national SCV convention is set for July 20 – 24, 20ll, at the Renaissance in Montgomery.

“Others I ran across were Bill Cawthon and Sam Nelson. Bill is kin to the Cawthons of Old Andalusia, a prominent family here in the ‘Dimple of Dixie’ some hundred years ago. Some Cawthons are buried in our Magnolia Cemetery. I had met Bill in Athens, Georgia, when we were attending the William Gilmore Simms Society conference.

“Leonard Wilson, former SCV commander in Alabama, reported on the Confederate library housed at Mountain Creek near Clanton.

“At the end of the business sessions we stood and sang ‘Dixie.’

“That night at the Awards Banquet I sat with Larry and Sue Spears. Sue works in Jimmy Holley’s office space in Montgomery and knows our Irene (Davis) Butler from Irene’s work with the Silver-Haired Legislature.

“We enjoyed a delicious dinner of steak, baked potato, garden salad, yeast rolls, and chocolate pie.

“The after-dinner speaker was Michael Bunn of Eufaula, who spoke on ‘The Eufaula Regency,’ a group of prominent, antebellum men who early favored secession.

“Sunday morning, following another breakfast buffet in the Water’s Edge, I drove into Eufaula. I had forgotten how beautiful Eufaula is with its old houses, streets with arching branches meeting in their tops like green tunnels, stately churches, statues, a central fountain, gazebo, and handsome, commercial buildings.

“I went to church at First Baptist, a white, Greek temple of a building with the unusual number of five columns across its portico. Inside were ornate ceiling decorations, stained glass, and Corinthian pilasters.

“Dr. Ken Bush, my best friend from college years, pastor at First Baptist for 30 years now, preached, saying that Jesus will not take second place in anyone’s life. Before church began, Dr. Bush went around the sanctuary, speaking with all, including me. He gave me a bear hug, my being his old, college mate. He’s still fit and trim and his old charismatic self, the man closest to a perfect Christian that I know. After worship I found Ken’s wife, Joyce Cox of Deatsville; and we tried to catch up on the latest. My family and the Coxes have been friends all my life and all my father’s, too. I knew Joyce and her family long before she and Ken met at Howard College (now Samford University).

“I learned that Ken plays golf twice a week at the Lakepoint course.

“For lunch I drove over the causeway and bridge, which cross the Chattahoochee, and into Georgetown, Georgia, and ate at Michelle’s Restaurant, a cross between Tabby D.’s and Perry’s – good, country cooking!

“Dark clouds gave way to a terrific rain as I drove out of Eufaula and north toward Union Springs and Montgomery, via 82, passing through Midway and Simsville.”

Thank you, Portly Gentleman, for your report.

Now, gentle reader, let me encourage each of us to be in his place of worship this weekend. Fare thee well.