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

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 16, 2010

Peeping through my Venetian blind, I was shocked to stare directly into a horribly distorted face, that of “Clydie” Clump. I opened my door and asked him what was going on. He had just eaten a persimmon, one not quite ripe, and was trying to compose his face before he rang my bell. Poor Clydie. I let him in for some boiled, green peanuts to get the taste of the persimmon out of his mouth. It’s funny how one green thing can be so bad and another so good.

Said I, “Clydie, you won’t need to buy a Halloween mask; just bite into another persimmon, and your reaction will make a mask for you!”

I hear that Perry’s Restaurant in Kinston at Perry’s Store is closed because the lady who ran it, Agnes Perry, became ill and later died – last Saturday. Many were used to dining at Perry’s seafood buffet Friday and Saturday nights, as well as the Sunday buffet. In my wanderings I never sat down to a buffet I enjoyed as much or rated so highly as Mrs. Perry’s Sunday buffet. Many a life will have to form different habits now that Mrs. Perry has left us. I wonder if she ever realized how many lives she affected for good. Perry’s was part of my life and the lives of countless others for decades.

Country Folks in Florala has cut out its Tuesday-night buffet and some of its noonday meals. I understand that it will be serving Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, only.

Dr. Rex Butler, local physician, was honored Sunday night, Oct. 10, his 58th birthday, with a party hosted by his wife, Billie Jo. Family and friends gathered for a few hours of food and fellowship in Butler Hall where Dr. Butler’s children, Allen and Rexanne, joined other youngsters to sing “Happy Birthday” to their dad. Robert Lee Holley, a 1971 Andalusia High School graduate with Dr. Butler, grilled hamburgers, hotdogs and sausages for sandwiches, served with soda pop, potato salad, baked beans with beef, ham dip, corn dip, ranch dip, chips, corn-on-the-cob, birthday cake and homemade ice cream. A good time was had by all!

The Sons of Confederate Veterans, local camp, Covington Rifles, assembled for their monthly meeting Oct. 7 in the Dixon Memorial of the Andalusia Public Library. Sir Francis McGowin, commander, presided, reminding his audience of how many important dates there are in September.

Chaplain John Allen Gantt worded prayers at both the beginning and ending of the meeting.

Jimmy Barlow led in pledges to the American, Alabama, and Confederate flags.

Larry Shaw led in “Dixie.” All stood, as is traditional.

The placing of a monument in memory of Confederate soldiers from Covington County was discussed.

Joe Wingard reported that he had recently seen the original Ordinance of Secession of South Carolina in Columbia, S.C., and the sites in Charleston where the Ordinance was both passed and signed Dec. 20, l860. Wingard said that he had gone there as part of his celebration of the Sesquicentennial (150th anniversary) of the War Between the States.

The program on “Music of the Confederacy” was presented by Larry Shaw. Shaw used a cappella, taped and live piano music, giving historical facts about the songs between selections.

Margie (Jacques) Thomasson, a member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, a recently retired teacher from Pleasant Home, and wife of the former commander, Curtis Hampton Thomasson, played the piano.

Shaw and Wingard sang two duets, “Aura Lee” and “Lorena.”

Those present sang along on most pieces: “How Firm a Foundation,” “The Yellow Rose of Texas,” “Rose of Alabamy,” “Riding a Raid,” “Goober Peas,” “Bonnie Blue Flag” (from which Rhett Butler got the name for his daughter in Gone with the Wind), “The Homespun Dress,” “Roll, Alabama, Roll” and “Dixie” (several times).

The late Tennessee Ernie Ford sang two songs via tape.

Also assembling were Morris Mullen, Fletcher Jones, Jimmy Cobb, Derick Davis, Delia Davis, Irene (Davis) Butler, Evelyn Murphree, Tammy Evans (president of the UDC) and William Blocker.

Miss Flora Covington tells me that I ought to brag on the flowerbed at the Dairy Queen, Andalusia’s oldest eatery still in business. I drove by and looked. Miss Flora’s right. The DQ has contributed a beautiful garden to the public.

Poor goldenrod! Once, it was the official state flower till Mrs. Gotrocks and her ilk in Greenville ushered in the camellia. Yes, the camellia is lovely, but foreign-born. I’m for the homefolks! Good, ol’, humble goldenrod! Everywhere I turn these days, I see it, nodding in its glory. Poor goldenrod!

District 24 of the Alabama Education Association – that’s the AEA counties of Conecuh, Covington and Escambia – met Oct. 11 at Reid State Technical College in Evergreen for its monthly meeting.

Jimmy Ponds, president of the district, in his second term, and librarian at the Straughn Elementary School, presided.

A potluck supper was mixed with business.

Attending were Eugene Smith, Calvin McIntyre, Dianne McKenzie (treasurer), Ethel M. Robertson, Jacqueline Earthly, Warrick Maye, Rebekah Sullivan and Joe Wingard (secretary).

The Covington County Education Retirees Association met Oct. 6 at David’s Catfish House in Andalusia for its monthly meeting.

Allen Miller of Opp, president in the first of a two-year term, presided.

Member Carolyn Davis, sister to Seth Hammett, introduced three candidates for her retiring brother’s seat as representative for House District 92, Don Cotton (I), David Darby (D) and Mike Jones (R).

Cotton stated that, if elected as an Independent, he might find himself in a position at times to exert extraordinary influence. He said that he favors increasing the tax base, charging toll for certain new highways and reducing the welfare rolls.

Darby, a Democrat, wants a new emphasis on two-year colleges as training grounds for the unemployed, funding for pre-kindergarten and four lanes for U.S. Hwy. 33l.

Jones, a Republican, is for open government but against gambling. He said that the only paddling he got in school was from one of the retired teachers present, Kim Dyess. Jones praised the work of Seth Hammett, whom he called his “mentor.”

During a question-and-answer period some retirees expressed resentment for increases in medical co-pays and renewed federal reductions in take-home pay, remembering that many times in the past teachers compromised increases in pay in exchange for good health coverage. One said, “I feel double-crossed because that understanding has been violated.” Several called the reductions in take-home pay and the increased medical costs equivalent to a “pay cut.” One person said that there is an “X” on the back of AEA members, meaning that, nowadays, AEA has been targeted.

Retirees contributed canned goods for the needy, a statewide project this year, as last.

Nan Johnson won $25 as a door prize.

Others attending were Ethel M. Robertson, Kay Cassady, Linda Lucas, Evan Merrill, Gwendolyn H. Jessie, Peggy Williams, Jerri Stroud, Tubby Hall, Dot Jones, Murray Johnson, Jean Jones (mother of Mike Jones, a candidate), Lucy Conner, Evelyn Larigan, Glenda Presley, Ophelia Merrill, Elaine Chavers, Earl Jones, Marlene Miller, Sharon Dye, Larry Presley, Johnnie Weeks and Joe Wingard.

Today is the birth date of Noah Webster, the American lexicographer, famous for his dictionary, not to be confused with Daniel Webster, the American statesman and orator from Massachusetts, who fought so hard to keep the Union. Today, in Noah’s honor, look up a word!

Famous anniversaries in the first half of October, the Golden Month, are as follows: William C. Gorgas, the Alabamian who defeated Yellow Fever so that the Panama Canal could be completed; Jenny Lind, the “Swedish Nightingale” who sang concerts around the world (hers was the most beautiful, soprano voice the world had ever heard; portraits of her still hang in many homes); James Whitcomb Riley, the Indiana “Hoosier” poet, known for old-fashioned, country themes and such poems as “Little Orphant Annie,” a good Halloween poem that Jeanice Kirkland can recite from memory; Edward W. Bok, American magazine editor who lived by “Make you the world a bit better and more beautiful because you have been in it”; Giuseppe Verdi, Italian opera composer of – some think – the best operas the world has known; Columbus Day (the 12th, not the 11th, no matter what the politicians think); Virgil, the Roman poet, thought to be the greatest writer in the world till “Old Bill” Shakespeare came along; and Helen Hunt Jackson, an American novelist and poet.

October 15 was Poetry Day, perhaps because Virgil was born then.

As a new teacher I had never heard of Helen Jackson or her novel, Ramona. Sitting in the teachers’ lounge one day, I heard about the book and movie from the older teachers who had seen the movie made from Ramona and sang its theme song to me – Carolyn Rankin, Annalee Simmons, Ellen Barrow and Sarah Baugh. They sounded good. I felt so green.

Walking to lunch one October day with Miss Barrow, I heard her quote the first stanza of Helen Jackson’s poem, “October’s Bright Blue Weather.” It was standard memory work in Miss Barrow’s day. I had never heard of it. I learned it, though; and, each October, would read it as a “thought for the day” to my students, “Oh, suns and skies and clouds of June/ And flowers of June together, /Ye cannot rival for one hour/October’s bright, blue weather.” As long as Miss Barrow lived, I sent her a copy of the poem each October as a thank you.

Riley’s poem, “Little Orphant Annie” led to Harold Gray’s, long-running, cartoon strip in newspapers, Little Orphan Annie, which led to the modern musical, Annie, and its optimistic masterpiece, “Tomorrow.”

As for Edward Bok, he is a man in history whom I greatly admire. I have read every book of his that I can find. His best may be the one for which he won the l920 Pulitzer prize, The Americanization of Edward Bok. Bok Singing Tower in Florida stands in his honor; he is buried there. I can only begin to say how much his life has meant to me.

Last week I ran the names of AHS alumni who signed the AHS Homecoming register. I ran out of room and time and stopped after 1971. I want to continue.

From the Class of 1981 came Jill O’Brian, Vivian Burnette, Sonya Hines, Pam (Partridge) Steele, Katrina Saulmon, Greg Caton, Cathy ?, Tammy Morgan Capps, Terry Wilson, Lisa Smithson Mollitor, David Wyatt, Sonya McAdory, Tim Hattaway, Suzy Cope Lord, Wade Wiggins, Brenda Wambles Biggs, Robbie Theus, Debra Lott, Jeffery C. Ray, Melanie Wiggins Hammer, Shawna Ellis Harmon, Patricia Vick Moody, Edy Studstill Moore, Chris Martin, Scottie Stewart, Linda Tyree, Lisa Bates Veasey, Keith Veasey, Jackie Carnley Miller, Linda Benson, David Walker, Teresa Baisden Farr, Shelia Evans and Beverly Yant.

From the Class of 1991 came Amy Powers Sellars, Christy James Heath, Erica Capps Ware, Chris Worley, Alphonso Simpson, Angela Kelly, Kelley Barefoot Weaver, Lynn Walker Starnes, Chandria Ward Fulgham, Kevin Harp, Darren Sheridan, Abby Malphrus Adams, Ben Roberts, Lori Grimes Stewart, Tammy Nelson McDuffie, Amy Pitts Dugger, Mona Cook, Katrina Jones, Leslie Parrish?, Michelle Benson Evans, Marie Hudson, Londra Graham, Matthew Avery, Jonathan Douglas, Daphne Stallworth, Brantley Leverette, Robert E. McGhee, Michael Jackson, Darcy Jones and Johnny Brewer.

From the Class of 2001 came Chelsea Bowers Mancil, Bryan Knox, Sophia Sigers?, Beth Ann Brannon, Tiffany Porter, Anna Marler Pate, Eric Johnson, Rickey Perry II, Rebekah Wilkes Lollar, Ashley Williams Sasser, Ashley N. Smith, Christina Johnson, Britton Williams, Millicent Kirkpatrick, Katherine Jones, Cedrick Florence, Naushia Hill Woods, Angela Dukes Biggs, Megan Gross Prichard?, Lorie Locklier, Elizabeth Noel ?, Leslie Riley, Miranda Powell, Jamie Mann, Brian Lee, Rosa Ball, Angela Curry, Kayla King, Colin Brooks, Kelley Wright Bergfeld, Billy Bergfeld, Hunter Owen, Katie Riley, Peacia Davis, Joshua Williams, Leanne Williams, Ashley Ballard, Alphee Anderson, Krystal Ward Whitehurst, Casie Cartwright Bush?, Curtis Mullis, Ashley Stovall and Kayla Stovall.

From the Class of 1987 came Bill Ossenfort.

From 1979 came Shirley Trawick.

From 1973 came Angie Pifer.

From 1983 came Laura Spears.

Signing without a year was Whitney Parham.

Again, I apologize for misspelled names. I did the best I could in the time allowed. A few names I could not read at all. There were also those present who did not sign in, and still more at the parade, game and parties.

Last week I stumped my readership. No one identified the mystery person, so I shall repeat the clues: “trim, business-like, professional, attractive, intelligent, brave and looks good in black, particularly.”

Gentle reader, have you seen the pink daisy “mums” in bloom?

Let me encourage each of us to be in his place of worship this weekend.