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

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 25, 2010

Peeping through my Venetian blind, I saw the Covington girls, Miss Cora, Miss Dora and Miss Flora, coming across the way, each with a package in her hand.

Opening my door to the cold weather, I wished my neighbors a “Merry Christmas,” as I do you, gentle reader, upon this Christmas Day!

Indeed, “Merry Christmas!” and “God, bless us, everyone!”

Inviting the girls in, I presented my gifts to them and served up Christmas punch and sweets. (I was to be a guest of theirs for dinner over at Covington Hall.)

Did you realize, gentle reader, that this past Tues., Dec. 21, was the first official day of winter, the shortest day of the year?

Seen at Tabby D.’s were Mary Kanaley and three of her grown grandchildren, A.G. and Pat Palmore, Nancy Smith, Parker “Bear” Smith, Dick and Paula Sharp, James and Joanne Boswell and Jimmy and Debbie (Boswell) Grimes.

Lee Perrett tells me that his “little brother,” Joe, is now married and about to be a grandfather.

I enjoyed a telephone visit with Miss Marion “Bumpy” Bumpers of Grove Hill this week. In educational circles in Alabama she is well known and respected. Two of our local teachers, Jeanice (Paul) Kirkland and Cathy (Lee) Harry, have worked with her and speak most highly of this living legend.

Cousin Jo Driggers of Lexington, S.C., tells me that she attended and enjoyed a musical version of Dickens’s A Christmas Carol in the restored Opera House in nearby Newberry, S.C.. (Jo, along with many of our relatives, was graduated from Newberry College.)

Seen at the hospital cafeteria for lunch Sunday last were Ronnie and Sharis (Smith) LeMay from Montgomery, here to visit his mother, Dr. Mike Wells, Ron and Caroline Picking, Rayford and Carolyn Davis, John and Mary “the Belle of Excel” Hill, Danny Posey, Larry and Mary Avery, John and Nancy Smith, Parker “Bear” Smith, A. G. and Pat Palmore, Hazel Griffin and Linda Tucker.

I learned from Sharis that her mother, “Gus,” is doing well at 92 in Montgomery.

I asked Dr. Wells about the flag, flying from the tower above his house on East Three-Notch. It seems it is a school flag, waving loyally for the University of Alabama, for which Dr. Wells roots instead of Auburn. (Auburn, however, seems to have done better in football of late.) The tower itself has to do with Dr. Wells’s being a ham operator. He said he got his lessons about the ham radio from ol’ Mr. Hand.

Sally Patton-Hall, one of our local writers of children’s books, spoke in November to the Enterprise Christian Women’s Connection at the Enterprise Country Club. Her subject was “How do you go about writing, and how do you know you are meant to write?”

December 14, Sally taped a segment for the Ann Varnum Show on Channel 4 in Dothan.

Sally’s latest book, “Tales about the Cat Who Wanted to Fly,” is out. In it Midnight the Cat discovers three valuable lessons.

Seen at C.J.’s Grille for lunch the last day of autumn were Jo Mosdell (another local author), Greg and Jan White (a local columnist), and the “Courthouse Crew” – Sandra Sansom, Kathryn Sharpe, Charlotte Morgan, Pam Cottle and Melissa Phillips-Martin.

Larry Shaw, president of the distinguished Baraca Class of First Baptist, sang a solo, “In the Bleak Mid-winter,” during assembly last Sunday morning. He was accompanied by the church organist, Martha (James) Givhan, at the Ann Martin Memorial piano.

Dr. Fred Karthaus, pastor of First Baptist, was severely ill Sunday; so Judson Blackstock, associate pastor, preached in his stead. A collection was made during the service for the Lottie Moon Christmas offering for international missions. Lottie Moon is a famous missionary of yesteryear for whom the offering is named.

That night an improvised service of “lessons and carols” replaced the sermon. Dwight Crigger, minister of music, led the singing.

Colonel Covington hopes to plant American chestnut trees on his estate. He told me that one has been planted on the campus of Huntingdon College in Montgomery.

That’s rare because a blight around 1900 almost destroyed the American chestnut.

I guess the most famous reference to a chestnut tree is in Longfellow’s poem about “The Village Blacksmith.”

“Under a spreading chestnut tree

The village smithy stands;

The smith, a mighty man is he,

With large and sinewy hands;

And the muscles of his brawny arms

Are strong as iron bands.”

I understand that there are only 100 or so chestnuts left in the wild.

Seen at the Huddle House for supper were James and Joan Mitchell, Benny and Betty Gay and Bob and Cathy Harry.

As is common in social gatherings, the men and women separated and eagerly engaged in conversation. I overheard the men speak of Montgomery in the old days (each had some association with the state capital), of good places to eat, and happy memories. I noticed, too, that the men were well trained and waited patiently for their wives to let them know that it was time to leave.

Chapter 1408 of the American Association of Retired Persons met Dec. 14, Alabama’s birthday, in the Dixon Memorial of our public library for their Christmas program. The library staff had “prettified” the memorial with Christmas decorations.

Herb Jasper, a talented pianist, entertained the membership with Christmas pieces prior to the meeting.

President Norma Gavras presided.

Clarence Trousdale led the pledge.

Mary Green worded a devotional about “Jesus Is the Reason for the Season” and led in prayer and the singing of “Joy to the World,” accompanied by Herb Jasper at the piano.

Irene (Davis) Butler introduced the speaker, Judge “Trippy” McGuire, who said that a Christian never retires and spoke on God, patriotism and the spirit of Christmas, salting his address with inspirational quotations.

Judge McGuire expanded upon his own acronym, YALF – a youthful attitude, life-style factor.

Additional entertainment was provided by Julie Bass McDonald, who accompanied herself with a guitar as she sang “Silent Night,” in imitation of the first time that that most famous of Christmas carols was sung.

Mrs. McDonald, who also writes her own songs, led the group in singing “ Jingle Bell Rock,” to taped music.

Judge McGuire installed the 2011 AARP officers and worded the blessing for the buffet that followed.

New officers are Irene (Davis) Butler, president; Dot Treadaway, first vice-president; Evelyn Murphree, second vice-president; Nancy Robbins, secretary; and Elizabeth Milhorn, treasurer.

A cornucopia of mouth-watering food included the popular cooking of Robert Lee Holley, who contributed his freshly baked biscuits, crispy fried bread, crunchy, fried white meat and tantalizing tomato gravy.

Attending were Clarence Trousdale, Charles McCrory, Norma Gavras, Liz Milhorn, Flossie Skanes, Catherine Edmonds, Joyce Leddon (the ever-faithful), Mary Green, Delores Gomez, Irene Butler, Robert Lee Holley, Evelyn Murphree, Herb Jasper, Ollie Belle Landrum, Pricey Best (whose popular rum cake soon disappeared), Sonja James and Joe Wingard.

Guests included Calmese Veasey, Trudy (Cobb) Steele (the artist), Julie Bass McDonald, Betty Johnson, Peggy Watson, Audrey Ballard, Thelma Scott, Kym Keahey and Judge McGuire.

Since last I mentioned December birthdays, two have come to mind, those of Jane Austen and John Greenleaf Whittier.

Miss Austen, an English novelist, is most famous for her Pride and Prejudice.

Whittier, a Massachusetts poet, wrote the masterpiece, Snow-Bound, a poem about his memories of a childhood snowstorm on his family’s farm.

Today is the anniversary of Washington’s crossing the Delaware in 1776. Years later we still have soldiers on duty on Christmas Day, safe-guarding our freedoms.

No one has yet identified the mystery person of last week. The cluegram is “average height, blonde, a grandmother, sweet, gentle, kind-hearted, a retired teacher, mother of three sons, and devoted wife.”

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