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

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 20, 2010

Peeping through my Venetian blind, I noted the leaves of the trees, turning Thanksgiving-beautiful. Across the way at Covington Hall were some decorations of pumpkins, corn stalks, gourds, “mums” and fallish leaves.

This coming week brings Thanksgiving with its traditional feast of turkey, dressing, giblet gravy, cranberry sauce, English peas, stuffed eggs, peach pickles, watermelon-rind pickles, stuffed celery, apple rings, parsnips, potato salad, ham, all kinds of vegetable and meat casseroles, pumpkin pie, sweet-potato pie, pecan pie, cakes, green-bean casserole, Sister Schubert’s rolls, ambrosia, fruit salad, collards, turnips, chicken and dumplings, salads, sausages, beets, all kinds of cucumber pickles, squash casserole, corn, peas, butter beans, fish, quail, rabbit, squirrel, venison, clam chowder, punch, tea and anything else one can imagine.

The Covingtons have invited me to Thanksgiving dinner this coming Thursday. Colonel Covington usually delivers the blessing and reads Psalm 65: 11 – 13, “Thou crownest the year with thy bounty; the tracks of thy chariot drip with fatness. The pastures of the wilderness drip, the hills gird themselves with joy, the meadows clothe themselves with flocks, the valleys deck themselves with grain, they shout and sing together for joy.”

We sing “Over the river and through the wood” by Lydia Maria Child, as Miss Dora plays. This is followed by “We Gather Together,” “Come, Ye Thankful People, Come,” and “Let All Things Now Living.”

The Colonel sings “Bless This House.”

It wouldn’t seem like Thanksgiving without these songs.

I like Thanksgiving better than Christmas because it doesn’t call for all the expense and preparation. It’s simple and over in a day. It is truly a family time when all can gather around the table. For that I am thankful.

I ran into Clayton and Barbara (Barton) Bryant in the Huddle House last week when I was taking supper. We fell to talking about Clayton’s hobby of raising Blonde cattle. Clayton is a past president of the American Blonde d’Aquitaine Association (ABAA) and with Barbara hosted this year’s annual meeting right here in “the Dimple of Dixie,” November 5-6.

Clayton now serves as a director of the national organization, which is made of those who own Blonde cattle, a stock originally from Southwest France.

Clayton’s herd runs between 85-90.

While here, the ABAA was headquartered in the new Holiday Inn; but members also enjoyed the Bryants’ hospitality at Clayton’s farm, where some guests ate boiled peanuts for the first time, and the Bryants’ home, where Barbara served Italian-cream cake, German-chocolate cake and pecan pie, another first for some guests, who came from Canada, Texas, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Louisiana, Ohio and Kentucky.

Barbecue, another Southern favorite, was catered for meetings at the Holiday Inn.

Friday night, the ABAA ate at David’s Catfish House. Some had never eaten fried-green tomatoes, cheese grits, catfish or hush puppies.

Saturday night the group enjoyed steaks at C.J.’s Grille.

Seen at Tabby D.’s for lunch were Barbara Bradley, the dashing Bill Alverson and Margaret Prestwood, who turned 96 Nov. 19. Mrs. Prestwood is perhaps the oldest living retired teacher from the Andalusia City Schools. Everyone admires how she still gets out and about and is active in First Baptist, Andalusia.

The Covington County Education Retirees Association (CCERA) met Nov. 3 in Fleeta School for its monthly fellowship.

Allen Miller, in the first year of his two-term presidency, presided.

The guest speaker was Clint Niemeyer from the Alabama Securities Commission, who advised retirees on fraud prevention.

Canned goods were collected for the needy, a statewide project for the Alabama ERA.

The Fleeta Parent-Teacher Organization treated the retired educators to a meal in the school library in honor of Retired Teachers Month. Each table was decorated with fall-colored runners as well as two Mason jars as rustic centerpieces. The jars were filled with cotton balls, magnolia leaves and dried corn and bean seeds.

The PTO served rolled chicken breasts, rolls, butter beans, creamed potatoes and desserts.

Roger McLain, principal of Fleeta, served as host.

Mary F. Bass won the door prize of $25.

Geraldine Boothe worded the devotional; and Kim Dyess, the blessing.

Secretary Gayle Weeks and Treasurer Harriet Schofield made reports.

Dean Morris, social chairlady, asked members to take covered dishes and supplies for the needy to the Dec. 2 meeting set for the Opp Adult Activity Center.

Four new members joined.

Congratulations to Lucy Martin for identifying the mystery person, who had gone two weeks, unidentified. Lucy correctly pinpointed Jerri Stroud, one of Andalusia’s most active citizens.

That’s two for Lucy, our own Miss Marple.

This week’s person is short, pretty, brave, blonde, appearing more like a sibling than a mother to her three children, calm, steadfast, inquisitive, full of wonder and wearing a determined smile.

This past week saw the birthday of Sir William Schwenck Gilbert, English poet and librettist, who with Sir Arthur S. Sullivan, composer, created some l4 world-famous operettas, including The Pirates of Penzance and H.M.S. Pinafore. Interestingly my former colleague, S. Daniel Shehan, called to say that he had attended a performance just this past week of Gilbert and Sullivan’s masterpiece, The Mikado. Mr. Shehan, who once taught school here, retired to Savannah nine years ago. It was there that he saw a traveling troupe perform the well-known light opera.

I have been astounded by the talent and activities experienced in Andalusia this past weekend of “Absolutely Andalusia,” our part in the state-wide celebration of Alabama’s small towns. Wow! Wow! Wow! and Wow Again! We not only can rename our county capital Activityville, but also Talent Town. I had no idea so many abilities existed here. I doubt that any other county in the state can match what was done here! All responsible are to be thanked and praised for a thousand jobs well done!

Sunday, appropriately, ended the weekend with homecomings in area churches.

I happened to be at First Baptist, East Three-Notch, and took some notes. I wish I could have been at all events and taken notes, but I was feeling poorly.

Richard Pass taught a lesson on marriage in the Baraca Sunday School class. After the lesson, during class discussion, one man asked, “How would you like to be married to Nancy Pelosi?” Gillis Jones, the elder, quipped, “It wouldn’t be so bad; she’d be gone most of the time!”

The guest preacher was Dr. Bruce Chesser, pastor of First Baptist in Hendersonville, Tenn.

He said, “You only have one hometown.”

The dynamic Dr. Chesser delivered a powerful and impassioned sermon on going home to Heaven, our real homecoming.

Dr. Chesser, who was reared in Andalusia and attended West Highland Baptist, was nonetheless influenced by the youth program at First Baptist. Later in his career, while preaching in Tuscaloosa, he served as chaplain of the football team at the University of Alabama.

With him was his lovely wife Joy.

Guest musician was Harrell Sinclair, who served as minister of music at First Baptist in the l960s. Sinclair directed the choir in three anthems as well as the congregational singing.

His wife Joy, whose face shines with joy, was with him.

(I thought it interesting that both ministers were married to a Joy.)

The Sinclairs, when they lived in Andalusia, rented a house from Darwin Pippin, who lives in that house himself nowadays. The Sinclairs were Darwin’s houseguests Saturday night, Nov. 13, in their former home and even slept in the same bedroom they had used while renting his property years ago.

The house, by the way, was built by Will Rushton for himself. Later, it became the home of Darwin and Dot Pippin, who rented it to the Sinclairs. After the Sinclairs left Andalusia, the Pippins moved back into the house. Darwin says the house had the first refrigerator in Andalusia, put in by Mr. Rushton.

A big “dinner on the grounds” was set up in Fellowship Hall and on the church lawn for feasting after morning worship. My, it was good! I’ve never seen so many peas and butter beans in my life!

There followed in the auditorium a concert by the Lamb family from Tuscaloosa, violinists who play – and, sometimes, sing – to recorded background music. The four siblings are three sisters, Karis, Kiemel, Kolson and their 16-year-old brother, Caleb They played a dozen or so pieces and gave witness of their faith in Christ.

They are exceptionally talented and disciplined, between schoolwork and performances. They have played up to four weddings in one day and, during Christmas season, concerts seven days a week. They have recorded appearances on television, too, and made at least three CDs.

Their parents introduced them and told their story.

All began learning the violin on miniature violins at the age of 5.

I couldn’t believe my eyes at who was “tripping the light fantastic” at the street dance the other night. I especially was amazed at J.J.!

I was equally surprised at “grandmother’s punch.”

Mercy Maud!

Jo Driggers of Lexington, S.C., was houseguest of Zolly and Betty Mitchell this past weekend after Jo’s return from Miss Betty’s Bus Tour of New Orleans. The Mitchells escorted Jo to the air show Saturday last. Jo attended homecoming at First Baptist last Sunday with her cousin, Joe Wingard, participating in Georgette Pass’s Sunday School class, worship, dinner on the grounds and the Lamb concert. Jo and Miss Betty then attended the dance

concert later Sunday afternoon. Jo ate supper at the Dairy Queen Sunday night with her cousins, Wayne and Lenora Johnson and Joe Wingard. Jo was also Joe’s guest for dinner Friday night at Tabby D.’s and Saturday night at Larry’s, where they were joined by the Mitchells.

Something happened this week that reminded me that from Sunday to Sunday the world can change.

I didn’t know that Betty Greene had died and been buried till it was all over. I felt so guilty. I tried to recall the last time I saw her and what we had said. I wanted another chance to say goodbye and to spend a little more time with her, to tell her I loved her and how much I appreciated her. Being around her was like being around springtime and sunshine and smiles and all that’s good and wholesome and sweet and fine and good.

We’d better tell folks we love ‘em every chance we get, because the time does come when it is too late.

I was told that on her last day or so that Betty went looking for yellow pansies to plant in her yard. She had a pretty yard, a pretty house, a pretty soul. She was the only person I knew in Andalusia that grew stock and had it in her garden.

Each of us is unique. Each of us cannot be replaced, no matter what folks say. Each of us is one of a kind. We are not drops of water in a bucket or an ocean. We are the ocean, full of a million, complex drops of life. My dear, my precious friend – I think of Betty with her special group of friends – Janette Carroll, Esther Barrow and Suan Salter – sitting around a table, laughing, eating, talking, so full of life, of fun, of hopes. I can see Betty, setting the table for tea and patiently waiting ….

It has been, indeed, a week of homecomings.

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