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

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 15, 2011

Peeping through my Venetian blind, I stared at the pansies in my postage-stamp, front yard, pleased again at their bright-faced beauty, staring into the face of Old Man Winter. The pansy is one of the best buys as far as plants are concerned. They can bloom faithfully, fall into June, sometimes 10 months of the year. One gets his money’s worth out of that pretty, little plant.

Jeff Tisdale was here from Texas last week with his three sons, visiting his parents, Phil and Linda.

Seen at Tabby D.’s for lunch were Elmer and Myrtice Davis.

Graham Tucker taught the Sunday-School lesson in the distinguished Baraca Class of First Baptist last weekend. Then he drove to Searight to preach. Tucker undertook both lessons for Richard Pass, the regular teacher-preacher. Pass was home, ill. In his lesson, Tucker mentioned that he had once heard Robert G. Lee, the famous preacher, preach his famous sermon, “Pay Day, Some Day.”

Following morning worship at First Baptist last Sunday, many ate chili for lunch in Fellowship Hall. The chili meal was a fundraiser to send youth to camp later this year. Sandra Davis and Steven Dendy were the chief cooks.

Linda Ward spent the Christmas holidays, mainly in Georgia, staying Christmas Eve with Louie and Brenda Fryer in Deatsville and Christmas Day with her son Jimmy and his family in North Georgia. For the next few days she was part of a family reunion of her late husband’s (Bill’s) people in Savannah.

John Holley of Moulton motored down to the “Dimple of Dixie” last weekend to visit his brother, Robert Lee Holley, and do a bit of hunting. On the way down John took lunch with his son Wes; on the way back, he ate again with Wes and also with his other son, Will, both times in Birmingham where the young men are students.

John bagged a deer.

The brothers also bagged a couple of good meals. One was the Friday seafood buffet at Country Folks in Florala where the brothers ran into old friends, Rhett and Lynn Butler, on their way to a holiday in Panama City.

Helen King identified Sidney Waits as the mystery person. Congratulations, Mrs. King!

This week’s mystery person is a “golden boy,” one time a high-school athlete, handsome, father of two daughters and a son, a judge and Baptist deacon.

Jan White slipped me a cute quotation: “No matter how famous you are, the crowd at your funeral will be determined by the weather.”

I was shocked and saddened last week when I drove by Church Street School. The old water oak that has stood near its entrance for 80 years had been felled.

The reason my heart sank is that it had been planted in 1930 by the first student council of the Andalusia High School in commemoration. This was told to me years ago by Ed Everage, the first student council president. I don’t believe the tree had to be destroyed; it seems a thoughtless act and is a loss of local history; and I have hard thoughts about those responsible.

I have a couple of suggestions for those responsible, too: make a lectern and/or gavel for the current student council at AHS, using the original oak, and ask the current student council to plant a new oak at the same spot.

I may be the only person in town who cares about the loss of that memorial tree, but the act of destroying it both angered and saddened me very much; and I shall not forget it.

This past week included the birth date of Horatio Alger, an American preacher/author, famous for “rags-to-riches” stories. Every book he wrote was much the same – a poor boy, through hard work, gets rich. The late Miss Annalee Simmons, a local teacher of English and social studies and a Presbyterian, once told me that, while a girl, she had read the books of Horatio Alger and had believed that she, too, through hard work, could become rich. However, when she didn’t become rich, she blamed Mr. Alger for her disillusionment!

Three states seceded from the Union, three days in a row, this past week: Mississippi (January 9), Florida (10), and our own Alabama (11). That was 150 years ago in 1861. I mention this as part of the commemoration of the Sesquicentennial (150th) anniversary of the War Between the States.

Also this past week in 1861 various Southern forts were either occupied by state governments or secured by the federal government, the most notable, being Ft. Sumter at Charleston, commanded by Major Anderson.

Some cadets from the Citadel, a military college in Charleston, fired cannons this week on Morris Island, where 150 years ago, shots were fired at a Union ship, the Star of the West, trying to supply Ft. Sumter. No harm came to the Confederate fort on Morris Island or the Union ship.

Bonnie Ryan, a retired teacher from the Andalusia City Schools, was escorted by her son, Kevin, to the Pensacola Symphony recently. Kevin also treated his mother to a meal at the Outback Steak House in Pensacola. Kevin’s wife and daughter stayed home so the mother/son could have a special night out.

Bonnie has had another blessing of late. She adopted a dog, Honey, from For Paws, the animal-rescue unit at Auburn.

Andalusians were invited to join the congregation of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church Sunday afternoon, Jan. 9, for an Epiphany tea and evensong.

St. Mary’s, a beautiful set of white, church buildings with columns and steeples, was still decorated for Christmas with lighted candles, windows outlined with magnolia leaves and hung with magnolia wreaths and poinsettias at the altar.

Tea was served in the quaint, church library, once the small sanctuary of St. Mary’s when located a few blocks away.

The tea table was laid with an Army-Navy cloth, lent by Jan Derrick, and silver service. The tea itself (P. G. Tips) had been provided by Josephine Mosdell from the English Shoppe in Florida.

A central, circular table, elegantly laid with Battenburg lace, lent by Sister Barnes, held a central vase with a bouquet of spring flowers, surrounded by crustless, finger sandwiches (chicken-salad, tuna, cucumber-cream cheese and pimiento), stuffed celery, cheese straws, chocolate-covered strawberries, cocoanut cake, a variety of cut fruit with dip, red-velvet cake, fudge, brownies, cookies and crackers with cheese and sliced meat, with silver appointments.

Ladies of the church provided the tasty food and tea and served as hostesses to guests.

Harmon Proctor, verger, presided at evensong in the new sanctuary, a lovely and touching service, which followed tea.

The candleglow service included scripture, hymns, recitations, confessions, “The Lord’s Prayer,” and choir numbers.

John Beasley, choirmaster and organist, accompanied the choir and sang a solo section of “O Holy Night.” Frankie Lancaster of the choir beautifully sang “Mary, Did You Know?,” probably the most popular, new Christmas song of the last decade. All sang “We Three Kings,” appropriate for Epiphany or Three Kings Day, remembering Jan. 6, when the Wise Men delivered their gifts to the Christ Child.

Among the guests were Paula Smith, Jan Meeks, Mary Hill, Mary Lee Howard, Cindy Cook and Dr. Morgan and Wilma Moore.

We left the Portly Gentleman last Saturday, asleep in Callaway Gardens, Pine Mountain, Ga., on his way to a meeting in South Carolina. He will speak for himself.

“My room in the Mountain Creek Inn included breakfast and a pass to the gardens.

“I ate breakfast in the Plant Room, formerly called the Plantation Room. The thought crossed my mind that the renaming of the room might have had something to do with political correctness. I hope I don’t hurt anyone’s feelings, but I thoroughly enjoyed eggs (with apologies to the Society for the Rescue of the Unshelled), grits, bacon (with a sad smile to the National Order for the Preservation of the Pig), sausage (another sad smile), fruit, biscuits and gravy, hash browns, milk (with regrets to all the cows of the world), coffee and orange juice (with guilty thoughts about all I consume and every fly I swat).

“Breakfast was followed by a drive through the gardens in the cool of the morning.

“I stopped at the stone, gothic-styled chapel, named for Ida Cason Callaway, with its stained-glass windows, set next to a waterfall and alone by the lake, a peaceful spot that calls us from the world away – Call-away (get it?).

“My next stop was the John A. Sibley Horticultural Center where indoor-outdoor plants are displayed and rotated. I found a blanket of bloom – mums, marigolds, abelia, lantana, Mexican petunias, lily pads, and, among the blooms, goldfish ponds, swings, statuary and butterflies.

“After a stop for gasoline at Chipley Village, I drove over a mountain to Hamilton with its quaint houses, the courthouse of Harris County, and Magnolia Hall, a bed-and-breakfast where my friends, Wayne and Brenda Hicks of Montgomery, once stayed.

“I turned toward Columbus and 80-East, a nice four-lane, leading to Geneva, Ga. There, the four-lane became a two-lane. The 80-East median had been planted with miles and miles of pampas, which were full of flumes, a graceful sight.

“Then came I to Talbot County and its seat, Talbottom (TAUL-bah-tum), with its red brick courthouse and Confederate monument, set in the middle of a square with large magnolias at the corners.

“Talbottom was a quiet, little town, just the size I like.

“As I was leaving it, I noticed on a hill perhaps the most beautiful antebellum house and setting I may ever have seen. I had been told by the county clerks to look for it. They called it the Maddox House. It would be worth driving to Talbottom from Andalusia just to see that house in that setting.

“It wasn’t long before I came to Macon, perhaps the most beautiful city I have ever seen. I had been to Macon several times before, but I never tire of driving up and down its grand, old streets and admiring its handsome buildings – the old, railroad terminal, Mulberry Street Methodist Church, Bibb County Courthouse, antebellum homes, churches, businesses, landscaped medians, the Grand Lodge of Georgia, the Grand Opera House, First Presbyterian Church, the federal building and U.S. Courthouse, St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, First Baptist Church, the Lanier Cottage (where the most famous of Georgia poets was born), Mercer University and civic buildings.

“After a visit to the new visitors’ center on Broadway, and refreshments at Killian’s on Cherry Street, I headed for Gordon and then Milledgeville, once the capital of Georgia; now, a congested college town.

“For those who don’t know, Macon rivals Washington, D.C., with its cherry-blossom festival. Some say the display of cherry trees in Macon outdoes that in the national capital.

“I drove around Milledgeville, a quaint, old-fashioned town, and rented a room there for the night at the Fairfield Inn and Suites. It was across the road from Andalusia, the farm once belonging to Flannery O’Connor, a Georgia author, who lived and is buried in Milledgeville. I was too late to visit the farm, though, a goal I still have because of its literary connection to Flannery O’Connor and its having the same name as our town.

“Still having some hour or so of daylight, I drove over to Lake Sinclair Chimney, a local landmark that looks as though it could topple over any minute, and to nearby Eatonton, the birthplace of Joel Chandler Harris, creator of Uncle Remus and Br’r Rabbit, a town of beautiful houses, where once Don Lingle’s mother lived; and his brother, I think, still does.

“I had my supper at Old Clinton Barbecue before turning in.”

We shall stop there and leave the Portly Gentleman in Milledgeville, still on his way to a meeting in South Carolina.

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