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

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 24, 2010

Peeping through my Venetian blind, I saw Clay Clyde Clump, sheltering Miss Cora Covington from the scorching sun with a large parasol as they walked across the way between Covington Hall and my front porch. I met them at my steps and received from Miss Cora a basket with several jars of fig preserves. Clydie handed over a bowl of fresh figs, in addition. Of course, they came in for some lemonade, watermelon and talk.

Seen at Tabby D.’s were Willie and Emma Locke, enjoying the lunch buffet after a morning drive up Montgomery way. This is a dear couple with hearts of gold.

Mrs. Gotrocks of Greenville said that if people keep dressing more and more informally, soon they’ll be walking around naked.

Born this week were William Makepeace Thackeray, an English writer, and Francesco Petrarch, an Italian poet.

Thackeray is best known for his novel, Vanity Fair, a title taken from John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress. Bunyan thought of the world as Vanity Fair, an idea inspired by the Bible, which states that all is vanity. Time was the pioneers took three books west, the Bible, Shakespeare, and Pilgrim’s Progress. Gentle reader, if you are a Christian and have never read Pilgrim’s Progress, you should. Ladies, is there not a line of clothing, too, named Vanity Fair? Wasn’t it manufactured in our neighbor, Monroeville?

Petrarch deserves much credit for restoring to Europe a love of learning, especially the contributions of Greece and Rome. He almost single-handedly created the Renaissance.

Robert Lee Holley, born July 18, was feted with a dinner at Hilltop. His hostess was Irene (Davis) Butler. Other guests were Sonja James and Joyce Leddon. The Hilltop staff joined in singing “Happy Birthday” to the guest of honor.

Fred Kelley of Monroeville, who has raised more than $1 million dollars for the American Cancer Society, gave his Christian testimony to the senior adults of First Baptist Church at their monthly luncheon in Fellowship Hall July 20.

Speaking on behalf of Pilots for Christ, Kelley, who had earned his pilot’s license, told of his work with the ill who must be flown to treatment centers. On one such flight, Kelley witnessed a miracle when a young man, paralyzed, began to stir. Kelley’s testimony moved many in the audience to tears, as he wept himself.

Born in Thomasville, a graduate of the University of Alabama, married with one daughter, Kelley told of how a heart attack led to a new life for him.

Senior adults with July birthdays and anniversaries were recognized.

A meal of barbecue, potato salad, baked beans, apple pie, watermelon and tea was catered by Green’s.

Centerpieces of red-white-and-blue starbursts were placed by Trudy Vickers and Betty Bass.

Gordon Vickers, director of senior-adult activities, presided.

Colonel Covington said in his June speech at the Andalusia Lyceum that Democrats and Republicans should “foot the bill” for primaries since the purpose of such is to select their own candidates to run for public office. Democrats and Republicans are private organizations, not privileged, and shouldn’t touch a penny of the public funds for their private use. It must be nice – having the public “fork out” millions and do all that work for them. I wonder if other organizations could “get in” on that. It takes some nerve to tell a taxpayer to vote for one party or the other, especially when it’s the taxpayer’s dollar. The Democrats and Republicans need to live within their means and pay for their own primaries. Look at the debt both parties have piled up for generations to come.

Mr. Topper Propper tells me that the work on I-65 began July 5, 2007, and was supposed to be completed by Sept. 15, 2009. The cost so far is about $3,777 per foot.

Clydie Clump tells a sad story for those of my generation. The Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Museum in Branson, Mo., has been closed; and items are being auctioned. Those items include Trigger and Bullet, Roy’s horse and dog; outfits, boots, the Rogers dining table and the jeep from the Rogers TV show. To thousands of youngsters who grew up in the 40s and 50s, Roy Rogers was “the King of the Cowboys.” He was “the good guy.” In real life Roy and Dale were Christians who often witnessed of their faith. To many a little boy, Roy Rogers was the most important person in his world. One wonders how people can have the heart to scatter such a collection to the four winds. I thought it would have been treasured forever.

Miss Priscilla Primme told me that she passed a church sign in Montgomery that read, “Stop, drop, and roll won’t work in Hell.”

Colonel Covington said at the Andalusia Lyceum last week: “If the President is not very interested in keeping order along the Mexican border, then he should resign and let someone who is interested do the job. He certainly shouldn’t stand in the way of those who want to do the job. The president’s attitude is political correctness at its worst – more concern for hurt feelings than common sense. This nation was founded on common sense, not fear of hurting King George’s feelings.”

The Portly Gentleman agreed to “wind up” his notes on his June trip to Georgia and South Carolina this week.

“Returning to Savannah from Charleston, I stayed a couple of days with my friend and former colleague, Dan Shehan, in his condominium on Whitemarsh Island. We drove into downtown Savannah for supper and dined on the roof garden of Churchill’s Pub, an English-style ‘pub’ (public house) named for Winston Churchill. I tried the traditional, English ‘fish and chips,’ which are similar to those served at any Capt. D.’s. Chips are what we call ‘French fries.’

“On the way home we drove through an area known as Thunderbolt, which abounds with a marina, eateries, and homes along the marshes.

“The next morning Dan put me off at the Colonial Park Cemetery in downtown Savannah while he ran errands. Here are buried persons dating back to colonial days. I was told that during the War Between the States that the Yankees camped in this cemetery and desecrated it by changing dates and names on gravestones for fun. I fear that many a stone was moved so that, today, many graves are incorrectly marked or not marked at all. One would think that his resting place would be inviolate. There are not words strong enough for the contempt I feel for those who do not respect graves.

“One grave caught my eye, particularly, that of James Wilde, who was killed in a duel. He is the brother to Richard Henry Wilde of Augusta, Ga., one of the first poets in the Old South, a man I have studied in my search for antebellum poets. Richard Henry Wilde is remembered mainly for one poem, ‘My Life Is Like the Summer Rose.’

“For awhile I sat on a cemetery bench in the shade and pondered a poem of my own.

“After Dan picked me up, we took lunch at a restaurant called 1790, happening to sit at the exact table where Dan had eaten a meal with his late brother Pat Shehan and Pat’s wife Linda on their wedding day. Pat and Linda had been married in Savannah but had settled in Natchez, Miss., where Pat, a professional photographer, had later died of cancer. He lies buried on a hill, overlooking the Mississippi River.

“Our table was laid with white cloths and cloth napkins, fresh flowers and bread plates. I selected crab cakes and lobster bisque.

“That night we ate at Pearl’s Saltwater Grille at the Isle of Hope with its grand view of the marshes, houses, and boats. This restaurant is modern, attractive, and wonderfully located. I tried she-crab soup (eat your heart out, John Givhan!) and a seafood platter. A basket of about three-dozen hush puppies was placed on our table at first. These were unusual, marble-sized, round, delicious. The building itself and the food, especially, were excellent. I highly recommend Pearl’s as one of the best places I have ever eaten.

“The next day I started home, stopping in Homerville at Jimbo’s for lunch. Jimbo’s has a fine buffet. Beverly (Davis), formerly of Andalusia, who lives in Homerville with her husband and children, has enjoyed Jimbo’s more than once. Her parents, Joe and Sandra Davis, have eaten there when visiting their elder daughter and grandchildren.

“Later, as I neared Opp, I happened by Perry’s about supper time and went in and enjoyed the seafood buffet and talked a bit with ‘Miss Agnes.’

“Once home, I knelt and thanked God that my humble home was still standing and that I had had a safe journey.”

The Portly Gentleman has also recently been to Birmingham to attend a writers’ conference, sponsored by the Alabama Writers’ Conclave, the Nation’s oldest such group, still active. The meeting was housed in the Hilton Hotel in the Perimeter Park, July l6 – l8. I have asked him to tell of it, too.

“It was an easy drive up I-65-N to Perimeter Park. Our group had met in this same Hilton last year; so it was easy to find.

“I ate an early supper in Steele’s Restaurant in the hotel, selecting shrimp bisque for soup and a sandwich with onion rings on the side. The table appointments are modern and unusual, featuring square shapes and spiral ‘bowls.’

“At a reception and buffet supper that night I ran into Riley Kelly of Excel, who knows Mary Hill, ‘the Belle of Excel,’ and her husband John Hill. Kelly followed John Hill as an editor of the Monroe Journal. Kelly, one of Alabama’s elder poets, has published several books and has been honored by having his name chiseled onto the library, fountain coping at Alabama Southern Community College in Monroeville, along with Truman Capote and Harper Lee.

“The speaker at the reception was Sue B. Walker, poet laureate of Alabama and teacher at the University of South Alabama.

“The next day was filled with a breakfast buffet, writing classes, browsing in the book store (mainly, books by those present) and an evening buffet.

“I heard Thomas Lakeman of Fairhope speak on fiction. A graduate of the University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn., and currently playwright-in-residence there, Lakeman has written three mystery novels and some stage plays.

“I attended several sessions on poetry, taught by Susan Luther, a poet of Huntsville.

“A joint session for all preceded lunch. Sonny Brewer of Fairhope, who once ran the Transom Bookstore there, a novelist who has spoken in Andalusia, a friend of our own Bill Spurlin, gave a fascinating account of how he became a writer. Brewer kept us laughing with his humor. He is a talker in the tradition of Mark Twain. One of his stories was about working as a carpenter for the famous author, Bill Butterworth.

“I ran into Nancy Ekberg, a writer of children’s books, whom I had met last year. She is a fine lady, gracious and kind-hearted.

“For lunch I dined in Steele’s with my cousin, Frankie Tatum of Birmingham, who is an award-winning author, interested in non-fiction prose. We spoke of her husband, Eugene, their son and daughter, grandchildren and folks we know at Samford, where Frankie used to work, especially Catherine Allen, whom we both admire.

“After lunch I sat in on a class on children’s literature and wished that our own Sally Patton-Hall were there. Jo S. Kittinger of Hoover, the author of some 15 children’s books, shared her knowledge.

“That night at the buffet-banquet I sat again with Nancy Ekberg, who told me of her work as a volunteer lobbyist for the Alabama Citizens for Constitutional Reform. She favors a constitutional convention to rewrite the 1901 document.

“The speaker was Sonny Brewer.

“Awards were then presented to winners in categorical competition.

“Those who wanted to read from their own works were given chances after that.

“The convention ended the next morning with two classes and a business meeting.

“I enjoyed a conversation about poetry with Suzanne (Jones) Hobbs of Jacksonville, a retired teacher and Baptist Sunday-School teacher.

“I also had a nice talk with Alice Duckett of Anniston, the author of two children’s books. Her nephew, Tim Jackman of Birmingham, is husband to the lovely Laura Mann, only daughter of our own lovely Louisa Mann, local businesswoman and musician, and the late John Spenser Mann. One of Alice’s books is called ‘One Step at a Time.’

“By the way, I want to add a list of Alabama poets laureate for your edification: Samuel Minturn Peck, the first one, 1930-1938; Mary B. Ward, Bert Henderson, William Young Elliott (with whom I carried on a correspondence), Morton D. Prouty, Jr., Carl P. Morton, Ralph Hammond, Helen Blackshear (once my teacher at Lee High in Montgomery), Helen Norris and Sue Brannan Walker (whom I know), our current laureate.

“Next year’s conference was set for July 15-17 at the Marriot in Huntsville, Lord willing.

“Driving south on I-65 that afternoon, I stopped in Clanton at Durbin Farms and enjoyed a peach ice-cream cone. Of course, I thought of Mary Clyde (Sims) Merrill, who hails from Clanton and is the ‘Peach of Chilton County.’ I also bought some fresh squash and baby new potatoes, which I cooked up later, rather well, if I do say so myself.”

Thank you, Portly Gentleman, for your wordology.

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