Mrs. Grundy enjoys holiday cheer

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 11, 2010

Peeping through my Venetian blind, I saw Clydie Clump, grinning back at me. As soon as I opened my door, Clydie cried, “Christmas gif’!” Letting him in out of the cold, I offered some wassail, hot from the stove.

“You know the one who says ‘Christmas gif’’ first, gets a present, don’t you?” I said I knew and pointed to one under my Christmas tree, tagged with Clydie’s name.

“You’ll have to wait to Christmas Day to open it, though,” I said.

Clydie grinned and rubbed his hands.

When I was a child, growing up in Montgomery, The Montgomery Advertiser on Christmas Day always ran a one-frame cartoon called “Hambone.” Every Christmas Hambone would cry, “Christmas gif’!” It became a tradition.

I have learned that this Christmas greeting goes back at least a hundred years.

Miss Priscilla Primme, the English teacher, gave a Christmas-card party this week. Each of us took cards and envelopes to address, as well as stamps and return labels. As we talked, we prepared our cards for mailing. Her table was set with a gumdrop tree and a red bowl of eggnog with cups and plates of red Depression glass. A “Yule log” burned in the fireplace. She served a Lane cake (invented, if I am not mistaken, here in Alabama), petit fours, chicken-salad sandwiches, deviled eggs and fruit.

Alabama, by the way, was the first state to make Christmas a legal holiday; thus, we can honestly be called “the Christmas State.” Alabama’s birthday is Dec. 14, next Tuesday. The Covingtons always have a cake shaped like the state, baked by Miss Cora, and sing the state song, accompanied by Miss Dora, on Dec. 14. Sometimes, they have guests for a simple party. Miss Flora decorates with the state flower, the camellia, at which Mrs. Gotrocks of Greenville smiles smugly.

Last week, I misspelled Linda Finlin’s name; I want to apologize and set the record straight.

Sue (Bass) Wilson identified the mystery person, correctly, as Louisa Mann.

Our new mystery person is tallish, greying, mustached, handsome, a faithful member of the Church of Christ, a genealogist, historian and active member of the Civitan.

Miss Purdie Birdie said that she saw Hugh and Johnnie King at Winn-Dixie and wished them a “Merry Christmas.”

I ran into David Andress at the Dollar General.

Seen at C l was Mona Cook, who spoke of her husband Brent, a preacher. B.J. McClain re-covered my steering wheel.

I enjoyed a steak sandwich at the Crow’s Nest and talked with my ol’ student, Charles Gantt. Kelly (Wilson) Hart served me. I used to teach her husband, Gary, who is clever with a pen. I also enjoyed a chat with Kelly’s mother, Judy Wilson, who taught fourth grade at Straughn for 41 years.

Shopping at Ansley Place, I was assisted by the lovely Paula Harr and offered my advice to Amy Jones, who was shopping for her mother’s Christmas.

Seen at the Huddle House were Preston and Kelley B. Weaver, who spoke of schooldays, and Bill McClain and his son Kevin, who spoke of their work.

Seen at Covington Electronics was Gary Buck, assisting Mickey and Kellye Sharpe, who spoke to me of Santa Claus, Christmas presents, children and Kellye’s dad, Don.

Irene (Davis) Butler had as guests for Sunday lunch, Mitzi Butler, the late Ray Butler’s niece; Sonja James and her mother, Betty Scott; and Joe Wingard.

Jennifer (Smith) Dansby sang, a cappella, twice last Sunday morning in First Baptist. First, she sang “Mary, Did You Know?” in the Baraca Class; then she sang “Sweet, Little Jesus Boy” in morning worship.

Her brother, Bill, by the way, has authored a book, The Happy Advisor.

Jennifer and Bill are the children of June and the late York Smith.

June and Jennifer’s husband, Neal, were present in Baraca to hear Jennifer sing.

First Baptist looked “Christmassy” with a red, poinsettia “tree” in the baptistry, pots of poinsettias set about, wreaths with red bows in the windows, candles in the windows and swags and bows beneath each window.

Last Sunday night at First Baptist Tim and Charlotte Cearley, missionaries to Africa, spoke of their work. Charlotte, the eldest daughter of Harrell and Ann Cushing, was reared in Andalusia. Her father, Harrell, has twice served as pastor of First Baptist.

I witnessed something new to me at the wedding of Ashley Butler and Kate Bryan Sat., Dec. 4, at Harmony Baptist. The groom and bride each took a vial of sand and poured their sands together into a common vial. The minister, Bill Pritchett of Southside Baptist, said he hoped the marriage would last as long as it would take to separate the grains of sand again.

A veteran who had fought in World War II said that he donated nowadays to the Salvation Army because they gave him coffee, free of charge, when he was in service. He said he will not donate to the Red Cross, though, because they made him pay 10 cents for a cup of coffee.

I hear tell that Roland and Angie Brown have returned from a tennis tournament in Hilton Head, S.C. Roland played in the 70s division.

We wish a speedy recovery to Mavene Nichols, faithful employee of the Andalusia Public Library.

Congratulations to the Pilot Club for its successful Pancake and Sausage Day last Saturday in the Kiwanis Building. I sat at table with Ron and Sherry Pouncey, Hazel Jordan, Robert and Barbara Linder and John and Mary “the Belle of Excel” Hill.

I want to recommend to the public a CD (that’s compact disc) of 14 instrumental, religious pieces, played by Carroll Williams, Tripp Bass and others.

What’s this about Marie Pierce, sitting on Santa’s knee at the lighting of the Christmas tree on the Golden Square?

Mr. Gried and Mr. Glutt are at it again – skipping gasoline prices as fast as one can skip a stone across the water.

Mr. Political Correcticus wants to change “Merry Christmas!” to “Happy Holidays!” He doesn’t realize that a holiday is a holy day. What other “holiday” besides Christmas does he have in mind?

This month begins in earnest the celebration of the Sesquicentennial (150th anniversary) of the War Between the States. It is slated for 2010-2015.

My Cousin Jo told me of a remarkable event in Philadelphia Oct. 30. The Opera Company of that city and some 600 singers from area choirs joined together to sing spontaneously at noon “The Hallelujah Chorus” from Handel’s Messiah. Singing in downtown Macy’s store to surprised shoppers, the chorus was accompanied by the Wanamaker pipe organ, largest in the world. Downtown Philadelphia is the third largest downtown in America. The program was part of a series called “Random Acts of Culture.”

The Covington Rifles Camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans met Dec. 2 in the Dixon Memorial of our public library for its last meeting of 2010.

Sir Francis McGowin, commander, presided.

Tony Wells led in prayer.

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

Larry Shaw led in “Dixie.” All stood.

A special guest was Mitch Anthony, commander of the Evergreen camp.

A buffet was enjoyed with ham and chicken provided by Jimmy Cobb.

Sir Francis spoke on an 1864 Confederate Christmas. He stated that Southerners put their children and servants ahead of their own needs. He also explained a display of Confederate flags.

A special certificate from the SCV state “reunion” (convention) was presented to Sir Francis for his meritorious service to the SCV.

New historical posters about the secession of South Carolina in 1860 were distributed.

A report was made about the Covington Rifles Memorial Fund to erect a monument to Covingtonians who fought for the Confederacy.

Sir Francis announced Jan. 20 for the annual Lee-Jackson program, honoring Gen. Robert E. Lee and Gen. “Stonewall” Jackson.

Attending were Sir Francis and Ann McGowin, Derek Davis, Joe Wingard, Curtis Hampton Thomasson (past president), Larry Shaw, Norma Gavras, Kim Little, Jimmy Mott, Morris and Rita (Cobb) Mullen, Jimmy and Madge (Bryant) Cobb, Jimmy Barlow, Josh Shaw (Larry’s son), Margie (Jacques) Thomasson, Clay Thomasson, Linda Castleberry, Melissa (Castleberry) Steele, Mitchell Anthony, Tony and Julie Wells, Sue (Bass) Wilson (president of the Covington Historical Society), Vaughn and Robin Bowers, Tammie Evans (president of the United Daughters of the Confederacy), Brandi Evans, Eleanor Williamson, Irene (Davis) Butler and Mitzi Butler.

The Covington County Education Retirees Association met Dec. 2 in the Opp Senior Citizen Center. I had never been in this facility before. It is large and nice with a great, open space, large kitchen, plenty of storage, and a bandstand.

Dean Morris, social chairman, Jenelle Kelsoe, and Linda Lucas had decorated the circular tables with Santa centerpieces and the buffet with Christmas “trees,” along with Christmas napkins.

Members took canned goods and household supplies to share with the needy.

Allen Miller, president in his first term, presided.

Geraldine Boothe, beloved past president and educator from Fleeta, gave a thought-provoking devotional and prayer.

Secretary Gayle Weeks read the minutes.

Treasurer Harriet Scofield reported financial affairs.

Vice-President Sharon Dye introduced the program, the newly elected state representative from our area, Mike Jones.

Jones humorously reported that his first request was at 11:45 p.m. on election night.

Jones praised retiring representative, Seth Hammett, and his staff.

Jones stated that the transition into office was faster than he had expected. The whole experience was “humbling.”

There are some 33 freshmen representatives, of whom Jones is one.

Jones has received already advice from Hammett and Governor-elect Bentley.

Jones has been studying legislative procedures. He spoke of the upcoming special session.

He favors openness in everything.

Jones mentioned a training session for members Dec. 6-8 in Tuscaloosa. On Dec. 8 at 4 p.m., all representatives began the special session in Montgomery.

Jones plans to keep his law practice on the Golden Square, but is bringing in partners to help him.

He said that the State provides only six clerks to type for all elected officials.

He does not know yet the committees to which he will be assigned.

He is meeting as many people as he can and LISTENING.

“I like opening the doors up,” stated Jones.

In a question-and-answer session after his remarks, Jones said the special session will cost $82,000 a week.

He reported that lobbyists have already approached him.

He said that the CCERA is the first group to which he has spoken since taking his oath. Jones’s mother is a member of the retired teachers.

Elaine Chavers won the door prize of $25, presented by Kim Dyess.

The next CCERA meeting is set for Feb. 2 at Chen’s in Andalusia.

Earl Jones worded the blessing before an abundant buffet.

Attending were Elaine Chavers, Linda Lucas, Harriet Scofield, Dean Morris, Clara Talley, Debra Fowler, Jenelle Kelsoe, Lucy Conner, Gwendolyn H. Jessie, Gaylen Sims, Sharon Dye, Allen Miller, Geraldine Boothe, Gayle Weeks, Janice Hudson, Frances Senn, Mary Flagg, Glenda Presley, Larry Presley, Kim Dyess, Marlene Miller, Kay Cassady, Pat Stewart, Bernard Stewart, Jerri Stroud, Jean Jones, Carolyn Davis, Kathryne King, Emma Locke, Ethel Robertson, Dot Jones, Earl Jones and Joe Wingard.

Dr. Paul Hubbert, executive secretary of the Alabama Education Association, said that the election of Nov. 2 put the Republican party in charge of all branches of government in Alabama. He said that the last political change to match this was in 1877 when Reconstruction ended. Alabama had been dominated by Democrats for 136 years till last Nov. 2.

Significant birthdays this past week were those of Thomas Carlyle, Walt Disney, Horace, Sibelius, John Milton, Joel Chandler Harris and Emily Dickinson.

Thomas Carlyle, Scottish historian and essayist, moved to London; his house there is now a museum. There’s a famous poem about his wife, “Jenny Kissed Me.” The Portly Gentleman actually stood by the famous chair in the poem as he recited it.

Walt Disney, American producer of animated, motion-picture cartoons and movies, founded Disneyland and Disney World, created Mickey Mouse and his voice, and became a symbol of wholesome, family entertainment. Disney was and continues to be a positive influence on countless millions.

Horace was a Roman poet and satirist.

Jean Sibelius, a Finnish composer, gave us “Finlandia,” one of the most beautiful songs ever written.

John Milton, along with Chaucer and Shakespeare, is rated as one of the great poets of English history. His masterpiece is Paradise Lost. He gave us the lines, “Come and trip it as ye go/ On the light, fantastic toe.” (“Trip the light fantastic” refers to dancing.)

Joel Chandler Harris of Georgia is most famous for his stories by “Uncle Remus,” especially the one about Br’er (Brother) Rabbit and the tar baby. Harris was born and reared in Eatonton, Ga., where Don Lingle’s mother used to live. (Eatonton is worth a visit just to see the beautiful homes.) Harris later moved to Atlanta and worked as a newspaperman for The Atlanta Constitution. His home is still in Atlanta, a museum, his bedroom the way he left it the day he died. Harris is buried in Atlanta. He was a champion of the black man and made him the central figure of his writings.

Emily Dickinson, perhaps the greatest of female poets in American literature, published only a couple of poems in her lifetime. Hundreds were found after her death. Her family home is now a museum. She is buried in a cemetery behind it.

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