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

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 9, 2010

Peeping through my Venetian blind, I admired the coral vine with its curly pink blooms, trailing all over the arbor entrance to my side garden. The sky looked unusually blue and seemed fresh and new simply because autumn had arrived after a long, hot summer. The pampas grasses at the main entrance to Covington Hall were topped with plumes, inset with sunshine. All over the “Dimple of Dixie” Dimpletonians were decorating with pots of “mums” and pumpkins, anticipating Halloween and Thanksgiving.

Devereux Hill had received the Midas touch with goldenrod atop it like a crown.

All over Andalusia were spider lilies with their red turbans, the Confederate rose (sometimes called cotton rose because of its red, pink, and white blooms), abelia, butterflies, bees, adjuratum, tea olive and morning glories (both red and purple).

On the outskirts of town were cotton fields, white unto harvest, and bundles of hay.

Fall had fallen.

Roger Powell identified the mystery person in my last column, the beautiful Betty Sue McInnish. This week’s mystery person is trim, business-like, professional, attractive, intelligent, brave and looks good in black, particularly.

It is rare nowadays to find oysters on a seafood buffet because of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Robert Lee Holley tells me that he found fried oysters on the buffet down at McLain’s in DeFuniak Springs. Let us go thither!

I was over to the Andalusia High School recently and enjoyed a brief visit with the staff in the renovated cafeteria, Carolyn Johnson, Angie Brewer, Martha Cook, Karen Piland, Phyllis Farris and Stephanie Dillard. I have always been partial to cafeteria food, especially at AHS.

While at the high school, I visited the new band hall, too, including a visit to the genial bandmaster, Benny Shellhouse. I understand that the new band hall is dedicated to the memory of long-time director, the late Jim Nettles.

Two last September birthdays I wish to mention are those of William Holmes McGuffey and Thomas Nast. McGuffey wrote a series of readers used by millions of American children for a hundred years to learn how to read. The readers included stories and poems with moral themes, so that the children were learning character as well as their letters. One could say they were learning to have an American character. McGuffey’s influence on that American character can only be estimated. William Albritton, a rather esthetic attorney, a kind of Ralph Waldo Emerson right here in Andalusia, told me that he wished the educational system would return to the old McGuffey readers. He thought our children would be better off. Perhaps they would. Thomas Nast was a German immigrant and artist. In cartoons he used the donkey as a symbol for the Democratic Party, the elephant as a symbol for the Republican Party, and created the modern-day image of Santa Claus as a full-grown, portly man with red suit, white hair, mustaches, and beard. Before, St. Nick had been a tiny, skinny elf.

At First Baptist, September 19, Michael Rodriguez, minister to students, did an excellent job of preaching in the absence of Dr. Fred Karthaus. Rodriguez “lit in” on sin, especially sexual sins, lust, the love of money, pride, power, anger, slander, wrath, lying and selfishness. He said that Christians do not have freedom to do just anything they want.

One Accord, the group of ladies who sing at First Baptist, presented “You Are My Refuge” in the morning worship service. The ladies are Sharon Davis, Beverly Farrington, Betty Gay, Frances Rabren, Linda Finlin, Teresa Nelson and Janet Brantley. They are professional.

Also singing, in three Sunday-School assemblies, was the Baraca Quartet, the oldest such group in Andalusia. Singing “Life’s Railway to Heaven” were Kim Dyess, Casey Thompson, Dwight Crigger and Joe Wingard, accompanied by Mary Clyde “M.C.” Merrill, the “Peach of Chilton County.”

I want to preserve some notes I took at the funeral of William “Bill” Albaugh Ward at the First United Methodist Church in Andalusia, Sat., Sept. 18, at 11 a.m..

John Beasley, organist, and Louisa Mann, pianist, played preludes as family and friends filled the church.

A military honor guard led in the family. One soldier placed the folded flag of our nation on the church altar.

Floral tributes had already been placed on the podium.

Tim Trent, Methodist minister, read scripture and prayed.

All sang “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.”

Trent continued with more scripture and memories of Bill’s life.

Mr. Beasley and Mrs. Mann played an instrumental duet, “Surely the Presence of the Lord.”

In his eulogy Trent said, “All of us knew Bill and loved him.” He quoted Bill as saying, “I have wonderful children. I have had two great marriages.”

Trent spoke of Bill as a family man, a sportsman, one who lettered more than 14 times in college, a military man, a veteran, a story teller, “the ultimate gentleman.”

Trent brought some laughter to all when he said that Bill was “tall and handsome, something that will never be said at my funeral.”

Trent shared that the American flags had been placed around the church in honor of Bill, something never done before. He added that in the future the flags will be placed in honor of all veterans whose services are conducted at the church.

Trent concluded that Bill “not only taught us how to live; but, how to die.”

Prayer followed; and then the honor guard, flag in hand, led the family out, in silence.

The instrumentalists played “Amazing Grace” as the congregation followed the family onto the front lawn for a brief military service in which the flag was presented to Linda Ward and “Taps” was played.

I’m sorry, gentle reader, that I missed visiting with you the last two Saturdays. I was “on the road.”

Seen for Sunday dinner at C.J.’s Grille were Dr. Wayne and Lenora Johnson and Jimmy and Jeanice Kirkland.

Homecoming, Oct. l, at the Andalusia High School has come and gone since I returned home. I attended and want to preserve some of the memories.

Following a breakfast for the alumni in the school cafeteria, an assembly, honoring classes ending in one (1931-2001), was staged in the auditorium from 9 a.m. – 11:30 a.m..

I notice of late that classes only with living members are honored. I wish 1911 and 1921 had also been remembered to keep alive the memories of those who are also part of Andalusia’s history. The “Old School” are our ancestors, our great-grandparents; and we should, as Dickens said, keep their memories green. Let us not forget. If we do not remember, who will? All are important. All matter.

Justin Dooley, president of the Student Government Association, presided at the assembly.

Callie Marie Crigger, parliamentarian of the SGA and president of the senior class, led the pledge of allegiance.

Taylor Donaldson, class songster, led “God, Bless America,” accompanied by Angie (Baker) Sasser, pianist, math instructor, and a sponsor of the senior class.

Maggie Jones, class poet, read a poem for the devotional.

Penny White, vice-president, recognized members of the Board of Education, alumni, veterans and special guests.

Former teachers, Jule (Bradley) Browder, Amy (Russell) Spurlin and Joe Wingard , were present. Roses had been sent to Bebe Greene, oldest, living, retired, AHS teacher, who could not attend.

Mrs. Browder, that precious lady who taught English one year and social studies for the rest of her years at AHS, 1961-1979, has just become a great-grandmother at 85. She was accompanied by her daughter, Julanne Veasey, Class of l968. Mrs. Browder was delighted to see her grandson, Bradley Browder, a senior this year, in the skits.

Mrs. Spurlin, a retired English instructor and librarian at AHS, followed in the steps of her mother, Rebecca (Darling) Russell, who also taught English and served as librarian. Mrs. Spurlin’s daughter-in-law, Charlotte (Smith) Spurlin, also has taught English at AHS and is currently the librarian. That’s three generations of the same family as librarians at AHS.

Mr. Wingard taught at AHS 39 years in the same room, same desk, same chair and left behind the Heritage Room of school history, which he still oversees.

Other SGA officers participating in the assembly were Haley Moody, secretary, and Stephen Caton, treasurer, who also acted as a narrator.

Suan (Riley) Salter, Class of 1948, announced this year’s two, outstanding graduates, Charles G. Brooks Sr., Class of 1939, and Benjamin W. Roberts, M.D., Class of 1991, later honored in a ceremony in the City Hall (once the city’s high school), following the homecoming parade.

Brooks was in the last graduating class when AHS was housed in the Church Street location and the current high school at the head of Third Avenue was just being built. The high school moved into the current location in 1939-1940.

Mr. Brooks was assisted by his son, “Chuck.” (When I was a senior at Samford University and editor of the yearbook, I met Chuck, then a freshman, and asked him to draw some cartoons for the yearbook, which he did so, professionally, in the steps of his famous father, cartoonist for The Birmingham News.)

The first recipient of the outstanding-alumni award, Bob Brown, Class of l948, was recognized at this time. Mr. Brown has probably done more, financially, for the high school than any other graduate.

Also presenting the two honorees was another outstanding graduate, Dr. James Krudop, Class of 1965.

When Ben Roberts was recognized, the members of his class, present for their 20th reunion after graduation, stood and gave their classmate a standing ovation. It just so happened that Ben’s class was one of those being honored this year.

The Class of 1991 did something else nice; they placed a floral arrangement on the stage in memory of classmates, Carnell (?) Gray, Keith Grissett, Annette Pettis Holloway and Gray Sharpe.

As far as I know, no one is alive from the classes of 1921-1911; but there was one person present from the Class of 1931, amazingly, present for her 80th reunion, Lucille (Williams) McGraw (Mrs. Auburn McGraw). Not only was she the oldest graduate present, but also, as far as is known, the oldest living graduate of the high school. It just so happened that her class was being honored this year, too, another, interesting happenstance, giving her a triple honor as oldest graduate present, oldest AHS graduate anywhere and oldest of those being honored.

Mrs. McGraw looked like a million dollars. She was assisted to her place of honor down front by her daughter, Suzy McGraw Hedges, and presented a bouquet of red roses by the SGA. The crowd went wild and gave her a standing ovation!

No one from l941 was present, though there are three known to be living, Luther and Mary Frances (Ward) Taylor and Hayward O’Neal, I believe.

About 16 from 1951 were on hand. They created a comical moment when they rose to give their class yell, looked about, as if trying to remember it, and ended up, sitting down without a word.

The Class of 1961, on the other hand, numbering 30 or so, gave a rousing cheer, followed by tumultuous applause from an appreciative audience. Let’s hope that in another decade they can still do the same.

Justin Dooley paid tribute to the older classes, 1931-1961.

Then, the classes of 1971-2001 were honored with skits, written by the college-level, senior, English classes, under the direction of Dawn (Jackson) Thompson, teacher at AHS for 20 years (since 1990-1991) and member of the Class of 1984, who donated untold hours to the homecoming assembly. She had before her an almost impossible task, but came through with shining colors.

Mrs. Thompson was assisted by Linda Mellown, Tina Rogers, Perry Dillard and Charlotte Spurlin.

Mrs. Thompson paid tribute to students who researched and wrote the skits, using digital presentations, “slides,” music and choreography. Their theme was The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer. Students, dressed as the famous pilgrims, were filmed for an introduction to the skits and participated in the skits.

Demario White, Class of 2010, son of Will and Linda Sconiers of the Class of 1971 (being honored for their 40th anniversary), proved a “hit” with his imitation of Coach Richard Robertson. He came out of “retirement” to participate. I think that’s five years he has played Coach.

Coach Robertson is now the longest serving teacher in the history of the Andalusia High School. He is also the only teacher still employed during a homecoming celebration who has taught four of the classes being honored.

The skits, manned by the classes of 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014, ended with a Hollywood presentation of the Andy Bulldog.

There followed class yells, presentation of the homecoming court and queen by Principal Daniel Shakespeare, a pep rally, and the alma mater.

Maggie Jones, daughter of Henry and Elizabeth (Doulin) Jones, was crowned homecoming queen.

Andy defeated Hillcrest in football that night, 20–l4.

Signing the register, from 1948 were Benny Barrow and Bob Brown.

From 1950 came Albert Cook and Betsy Ross Blackerby.

Those, signing the register, from 1951 were Catherine Bennett, Randy Stokes, Lewis Chesser, Eddie Herring, Gerald Findley, Tom Moore, Dorothy Martin Hallford, Jacqueline (Girdner) Dorriek, Betty L. Brook, Billy Ross, Clarence Brown, John Straughn, Reba Veasey Baisden, Sue Messick Reeves and Count Darling.

From 1952 came Betty J. Brown.

From 1953 came Eloise Palmer Owens, Sally Gilbert Simpson, Michaelyn M. Zorn, Estelle Easley Scroggins, Merle Findley Bass and Jerry F. Brown.

Signing from 1961 were Caton Gantt, Richard Rawls, John Smith, Ab Powell, Pat Rawls Barton, Connie Wilson Rainer, Ramona Jones, Pete Donaldson, Judy Donaldson, Linda Wiggins, Mickey Johnson, Bobbie Hughes Nichols, Paul Conger, Jr., Norma Moore Jackson, Ann H. McGlaun, Jim Rabren, Frank Rentz, Salle Rentz, Melissa Gambill, Helen Peak Grissett, Frances Edwards Weaver, Linda Bishop Whitman, Amelia Stokes Lindsey, Martha Cotton Fitzhugh, Ann Easley Sutton, John R. Richey, Bobbie Ann (Dupree) Foshee, Nita Andress Ward, Ray Kelley, Johnny Jordan, Sue Ann DeLoach Boutwell, Rozita Fletcher Jones, Levon Walden and Gail Franklin Adams.

From 1965 came Robert Cremer.

Signing from 1971 were Hoke Smith, Al Adams, Donna Bush Taylor, Levon Glisson, Margo Rabren Chesser, Diane Trawick Hart, Linda Mathews, Lee Perrett, Craig Bozeman, Curtis Wilson, JoAnn Maddox Wilson, Clark Wilson, Paul Spears, Benny Dunn, Shirley McMeans, Alma Pitts, Edna Wilson, Sheila Grantham Peek, Kathy Portemont Ammons, Lenora Sheffer, Kathy Walker, Kathy B. Grimes, Eleanor Wells, Bill McInnish, Diane Grissett Baugher, Nancy Ptomey Jones, Tamara Little Pelham, Jerry Wishum, Jerry W. Smith, Lynette Edins, James Kyzar, Gail Sanders Gallion, Beverly Russell Pittman, Susan Studstill Pitts, Christi Hooper, Dana Cross, Alan Cotton, Keith Bryant, Joan Moody Santiago and Gayle Hughes.

I can only imagine the misspellings above; horrors! I partially blame your handwriting, though, young ones. I’ll have to leave 1981, 1991 and 2001 for another time, Lord willing. I am running out of time and space.

Oh, I heard that a young lady with the initials of C.C. has proposed marriage to an older man.

Homecoming day I lunched with Paula Sue Duebelt and Sue (Bass) Wilson at C. J.’s Grille. These classmates from 1965 have joined forces to co-teach music part-time at the high school this year when the program, thanks to financial woes, had to be thrown “under the bus,” so to say. Paula Sue came out of a recent retirement as choral director, and Sue returned to her love of teaching music after decades in the business world. The two friends have only a couple of classes to instruct in music; yet if they had not been willing to step in, AHS would have had no music program whatsoever this year.

Also seen at C.J.’s homecoming day were Thagard and Linda Colvin with their grandchildren, Ben and Caroline Nelson of Dothan. Caroline, by the by, has been named the No. l, over-all gymnist in the Alabama Elite program.

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