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

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 18, 2010

Peeping through my Venetian blind, I saw carolers at my little gate. Out I went onto the front porch and listened as they sang “In the Bleak Mid-winter.” It was a cold night; so I invited them in for hot chocolate and cookies. All were “Christmassy” in caps, scarves, jackets, gloves and bits of greenery, pinned onto hats and garments.

The greenery reminded me of a day this past week when the Covington girls, Miss Cora, Miss Dora, Miss Flora and I went across the fields and into the woods, searching for fresh cuttings for our houses. Clay Clyde Clump and a couple of his buddies went along to help carry what we found – holly, mistletoe, pine boughs, pinecones, cypress, cedar, yaupon, magnolia leaves, possumhaw and winterberry. Nearer the house we found firethorn and nandina. We located our trees, too; Clydie and his friends went back later, cut them and hauled them to our homes.

While it’s on my mind, I want to remind the boys and girls to leave some milk and cookies on the hearth for Santa Claus. I bought a plate a few years ago made just for that purpose, but you may already have a special plate you like to use.

Sunday last at First Baptist that lovely group of ladies, One Accord, sang two Christmas songs in morning worship. The ladies are Teresa Nelson, Frances Rabren, Janet Brantley, Linda Finlin, Sharon Bulger, Betty Gay and Beverly Farrington. On their first piece, they were accompanied by Devin Williamson with her flute.

Earlier, in the Sunday-School assembly for the distinguished Baraca Class, the “Cousins Choir,” made of several related by marriage, if not blood, sang “The Birthday of a King.” Singing were Dr. Wayne and Lenora Johnson, Frances Rabren and Joe Wingard, accompanied at the Ann Martin piano by “M.C.” Merrill, the Peach of Chilton County.

That night at First Baptist the Adult Choir, directed by Dwight Crigger, minister of music, presented a Christmas cantata, The First Noel, accompanied by the amazing John Beasley, so-called, not only because of his talent and willing cooperation, but also because he was a last-minute substitute.

Soloists were Jeff Hopkins, Betty Gay, Jason Jewell and Callie-Marie Crigger, daughter of Dwight and Sonia Crigger and president of her senior class at the Andalusia High School. This was her fourth year to sing the part of Mary in the Christmas cantata.

I must mention one song, “’Tis a Wonderful Thing,” which was probably the most memorable piece in the cantata.

Jim Krudop and his wife, Holly, did excellent jobs as narrators.

A rather humorous moment occurred at the wedding of Jeremy Weant and Abbi Reynolds last Saturday at the First United Methodist Church. Tim Trent, minister of FUMC, was marrying the young couple, asking the groom if he would take Abbi to be his wife. Hardly had the minister begun the sentence when Jeremy blurted, “I will!” Trent quickly responded, “Not yet!” Laughter erupted everywhere. When it subsided, Trent finished his sentence, and all progressed nicely.

First Methodist, by the way, was beautifully decorated with pots of white poinsettias in the windows, a large chrismon tree, a nativity scene on the altar, a large wreath on the balcony, and greenery and candles in the choir loft, on the podium, and along the altar rail. With the setting sun, coloring the stained glass, the scene was ethereal.

The other day I ran into Becky Lowry at the P.O. Becky, Andalusia High School Class of 1980, was visiting, home from Camden.

Shopping in Ansley Place last week, I spotted Jeremy Weant, picking up his wedding suit in the last hours of his freedom. Zane Thompson, one of Jeremy’s groomsmen, came in shortly after for his outfit.

Placing poinsettias at several graves in Magnolia Cemetery, I met Lucy Brady, who was busy, doing the same for her family members.

Seen at Tabby D.’s for the lunch buffet were Mack and Bernadine Williams from Evergreen, Annalois Nall, Robbie and Susan (Powell) Theus, James and Jenelle Jones, Peggy Harrelson, Andy and Mickie Riley, Maggie Shelley, Johnny and Nelda Godwin, Lori Fite, Nikki Cobb, Lisa Patterson and Melinda Fuller.

I came across Carla Mooney last week, buying Christmas cards for those in jail, and was impressed when she told me that she tries to attend every Christmas cantata in our area, an admirable goal.

The Covington girls, Miss Priscilla Primme, Miss Birdie Purdie, Mrs. Gotrocks of Greenville and I went riding around “the Dimple of Dixie” one night not long ago, to enjoy all the Christmas decorations on the Golden Square and on houses and yards. My, I admire those who go to all that trouble and expense for the rest of us. To paraphrase Dickens, “God, bless them, everyone!”

Here, I must insert a warning to certain, little boys and girls, who have been naughty this year. (I hope their grandparents and parents will call this to their attention.) I fear, little ones, unless you behave yourselves from now till Christmas, that you might find switches and lumps of coal in your stockings instead of apples, oranges, nuts, tangerines, candy canes and other candies, toys, and what-nots.

Congratulations to Dot Burkett and Jody Dillard, who tied in identifying last Saturday’s mystery person, the admirable Curtis Hampton Thomasson, genealogical columnist for The Star-News.

This week’s mystery person is of average height, blonde, a grandmother, sweet, gentle, kind-hearted, a retired teacher, mother of three sons and devoted wife.

The Portly Gentleman tells me that he had supper at the Huddle House with a former colleague and reading instructor at the Andalusia High School, Mike Jones, the other day. Mike is known for his musical abilities.

I heard Norma Gavras, that delightful personality, speak of “a sawmill whisper” the other day. I’d never heard that expression. Norma told me it really wasn’t a whisper, but a shout.

Enjoying a barbecue at Hook’s last week, I struck up a conversation with a former student, Hoke Smith, A.H.S. Class of 1971. Hoke lives in Millbrook and has a wife, son and daughter. He works part-time in Andalusia and was buying food stuffs on his way to spending some time with the brothers, Riley and Vernon Taylor.

Jimmy Gillis, A.H.S. Class of 1974, dropped in for supper at Hook’s, too; and we had a good talk about his grandparents’ house, where he resides, his family, and his work.

Dining in C.J.’s Grille Wednesday night, I was touched by overhearing a child, praying the blessing most of us know, “God is great; God is good; let us thank Him for our food. By His hands we all are fed. Give us, Lord, our daily bread.” I realize that the readers’ versions of this prayer may vary. My point is that this child was praying in public so well and was encouraged to do so by his parents and grandparents, there at table with him.

Seen at Tabby D.’s were Billy and Marie White, Marvin and Jeanetta Britt and Bill and Frances Rabren.

Also seen were Katie O’Neal, a teacher of history and sociology at Lurleen Burns Wallace Community College; Heather Owen, a recruiter for LBWCC; and Diaon Cook, a teacher of English there.

The teachers were rewarding members of the college’s honor society and Student Government Association with the lunch buffet.

This coming Monday, Dec. 20, marks the 150th anniversary (sesquicentennial) of South Carolina’s secession from the Union and the beginning, in earnest, of the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the War Between the States, set to run 2010-2015.

It was in First Baptist Church, Columbia, the capital of South Carolina, in December of 1860 that state delegates met to discuss secession. The church still stands, by the way. Fear of a local plague, however, sent the delegates to Charleston to continue the meeting. The men met in a large building, Institute Hall, on Meeting Street, the main street on the Charleston Peninsula. They later moved around the corner to Broad Street, meeting in St. Andrew’s Hall for more privacy. There they voted to secede. They returned to Institute Hall, though, to sign the document known as the Ordinance of Secession, because the building could hold not only the delegates but also the public. Both buildings later burned.

The Portly Gentleman, earlier this year, visited the sites of Institute Hall and St. Andrew’s Hall, and a display of the original Ordinance of Secession in the state archives of South Carolina.

Recently, some 200 descendants of the signers of the Ordinance of Secession gathered to honor their ancestors and remember the 1860 convention in Columbia and Charleston. They assembled in the S.C. Department of Archives and History to see the ordinance, lay a wreath, call the roll of signers, salute the flags, sing “Dixie,” and enjoy a reception at which many shared stories passed down from the old days.

The event was sponsored by the Mary Boykin Chesnut Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. (Mrs. Chesnut kept a famous diary about “the War.” She lived in Montgomery when the Jefferson Davises did and was a close friend to Mrs. Davis.)

Colonel Covington in a recent speech in the Andalusia Lyceum stated that the “Declaration of Independence” justifies setting up new governments when old ones violate the will of the people. In fact, such rebellion is called a right of the people. An example is the Revolutionary War in which many Americans, not all, rebelled against Great Britain, which tried by force to hold the colonies in line, just as the North by force tried to hold the South in line. The Colonel believes that secession is logical.

I want to offer to the public a list of Christmas literature. I hope the public will save the following as a guide to readings to buy, read to children and grandchildren, give as gifts, and pass on to younger generations: “The Christmas Story” from the Bible, A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (the best book in the world next to the Bible), “The Night Before Christmas” by Clement Clarke Moore, “The Littlest Angel” by Charles Tazewell, “How Come Christmas” by Roark Bradford, “Christmas Night in the Quarters” by Irwin Russell, “Jest Fore Christmas” by Eugene Field; “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” by Dr. Seuss, Francis Pharcellus Church’s reply to Virginia (O’Hanlon) Douglas’s letter of l897 to the New York Sun, asking if there is a Santa Claus, “Everywhere, Everywhere, Christmas Tonight” by Phillips Brooks, “Christmas Bells” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, “The Gift of the Magi” by O. Henry, “The Story of the Other Wise Man” by Henry Van Dyke; The Chimes, The Cricket on the Hearth, The Battle of Life, and The Haunted Man, four more Christmas books by Charles Dickens, Miracle on 34th Street by Valentine Davies, “The Little Match Girl” by Hans Christian Andersen, sections of The Sketch Book and Bracebridge Hall, both by Washington Irving, The Golden Christmas by William Gilmore Simms, and A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote.

A knowledge of Christmas art should include the following: Christmas paintings by Norman Rockwell, prints by Currier and Ives, Christmas drawings by Thomas Nast (who created the modern image of Santa Claus), and Ideals magazine, which, sadly, has ceased publication.

A knowledge of Christmas music should include the following: Messiah by George Frederick Handel (one traditionally).

stands during “The Hallelujah Chorus”), The Nutcracker Suite by Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky (we are lucky to have this ballet presented annually to us Dimpletonians, thanks to Meryane Martin-Murphy), and countless carols and songs.

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