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

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 23, 2011

Peeping through my Venetian blind, I looked out upon a world of beauty, appropriate for Easter Sunday tomorrow. In my mind I could hear Paula Sue Duebelt, singing “The Holy City” while John Beasley accompanied at the Methodist pipe organ and Louisa Baker at the piano.

In my mind I could hear thousands of choirs and billions of souls, encircling the globe, all joining to praise Christ the King and Christ the Saviour and Christ the Lord in golden tones of worship, “Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Truly, Christ is risen!”

I had feared that with a late Easter all the blooms would be gone by the Holy Day, but they were here in abundance – the privet hedge (looking like snow and at its height this week), the ligustrum (heavy with waxy blooms), yellow thistles, the winter huckleberry, stately iris, daylilies, Queen Anne’s lace, fields of shiny buttercups, the bending English dogwood, English daisies and daisy fleabane, purplish chinaberry blooms, pyracanthas, honeysuckle, white clovers, pink primroses, red clover, yellow clover, purple verbena and roses, roses, roses.

The Lord doth provide.

I was in Coosa County last Sunday at a family reunion; so I did not hear Martha (James) Givhan play an organ solo of “The Palms” in morning worship at First Baptist. I regret that I did not hear that traditional piece for Palm Sunday. I heard that Mrs. Givhan played it beautifully.

I wonder how many wore palm fronds on their clothing.

On my way up the Double Nickel (Highway 55) last week to get to the reunion, I passed the restaurant at McKenzie, the one along the four-lane. I noticed a new name on the roof, Kayla’s Diner.

I wasn’t the only one, traveling. James Bristow and his daughter, Susan Cammack, flew out of Montgomery last week to Charlotte, N.C., to visit his older daughter, Edith, her children and theirs. It was a mini-family reunion for the Bristows.

Parties for graduating seniors of the Andalusia High School are underway. This is a long-standing tradition, dating back almost 100 years.

There are several Easter-egg hunts today. I wonder who’ll find the gold egg.

The Portly Gentleman tells me that when he was a boy, his mother hid Easter baskets behind doors and in other spots in their house for him and his brothers to find. His grandmother did the same at her house. He treasures a little set of plaster rabbits (mother and two bunnies) that served as the centerpiece of an Easter basket given him by his grandmother one year. His grandparents also made little nests outside in some tall grasses for him and his brothers to find. Each nest had real, dyed eggs, each with a name on one egg, so the boys could identify which nest was whose.

The senior adults at First Baptist attended their monthly luncheon this past Tues., April 19, in Fellowship Hall.

Larry Cummings, director of missions (since 2000) for Baptists in Covington County, spoke in his fine, stentorian voice, on the coming of Jesus in keeping with Easter.

Said he, “We’ve got not only good news (the gospel) but also great news.”

Cummings, born in West Point, Ga., in 1948, was graduated from Baptist Bible Institute in Graceville, Fla. He is married to Genia Waites and has three adult children.

His 23 years of pastoring include Westview Baptist in Opp, Northside Baptist in Ponce de Leon, Fla., and Bellwood Baptist in Bellwood, Ala.

“Happy Birthday” was sung to two April birthdayers, Neal Wyatt and Wilma Moore.

Gillis Jones worded the blessing.

Green’s catered with beef tips and gravy, mashed potatoes, green beans, rolls and fried bread, tea and lemon cake.

Trudy Vickers and Betty Bass decorated with centerpieces of stuffed bunnies, surrounded by candy-filled, plastic eggs and Easter napkins.

Some of these same senior adults motored April 7 to Montgomery to tour the Capitol, the State House and the House of Representatives. The group visited Senator Jimmy Holley of Elba and Representative Mike Jones of Andalusia.

Lunch was taken in the RSA (Retirement Systems of Alabama) cafeteria. On the way home a snack was enjoyed at Priester’s along I-65-S.

Traveling were Irene Butler (the trip’s coordinator), Herb and Sue Carlisle, Gillis and Laura Ann Jones, Jean Jones (mother of Mike Jones), Morgan and Wilma Moore, Gordon and Trudy Vickers, Betty Bass, Neal and Kittye Wyatt and Kim Dyess (bus driver).

At the Riddlehoover-Rawls Reunion last weekend, April 16 and 17, at Point A Lodge, no fewer than three in their nineties appeared – Margaret Eiland of Andalusia (93), her brother, Walter Hogg of Jacksonville, Fla., (97), and her aunt, Faye Rawls of Daytona Beach, Fla., (98).

Families from all over attended the fish fry Saturday night and “dinner on the grounds” Sunday.

Irene (Davis) Butler found recently two lesson cards, part of a series published by Southern Baptists, dating back to l930 when she was 4 years old. These cards were used at one time to study one’s lesson for Sunday School. A pretty picture, the lesson in brief, scripture and a memory verse were all printed on the cards, back and front.

Irene had the two cards framed handsomely with double glass so that one can turn the frame around and read what’s on the back as well as the front.

Bill and Maria Thigpen treated their friends, Dr. Wayne Johnson and his wife Lenora to a birthday dinner at Applebee’s in Crestview, Fla., honoring the good doctor’s 76th return of the day, March 16. The doctor, it must be recalled, married a “child bride.”

James and Joan (Hill) Mitchell traveled to Mobile March 17 for Match Day ceremonies at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine where their older son, Ryan, has been studying. In this annual tradition, called the National Residency Matching Program (Match Day), future doctors at medical schools across the country simultaneously learn where they will be doing their residency. At 11 a.m. on that day, fourth-year, medical students open the letters that contain the specialty name and location of the program where they “matched.” Each student is then called to the podium to announce this information to the audience. Each also takes a pin and places it on a map at the location where he will be training. The Mitchells’ older son, Ryan, matched in orthopedic surgery at the University of South Alabama. All 69 of USA’s “med” students were matched with a program.

A week after Match Day, Ryan left to go to Tenwek Hospital in Kenya, Africa, for a four-week, mission rotation.

When I was up Montgomery way last Saturday, I attended the sixth annual Alabama Book Festival, located downtown in Old Alabama Town. It was a windy, cool, sunny day, following that bad weather Friday before.

More than 40 authors took turns, speaking of themselves and their works every 30 minutes or so at six locations in Old Alabama Town. I attended every session I could schedule. There was also a bookstore, a tent for authors to autograph their books and vendors with food for sale. Pretty gardens were stuck between the old buildings that had been moved in to make Old Alabama Town. It was worth the visit just to see these fine, old, preserved structures, let alone all the authors.

Among those I ran into were Sue Brannon Walker, the poet laureate of Alabama, and her husband; Rob Gray of Mobile, who was documenting with film some of the programs; Mary Ann Neeley, the popular historian of Montgomery; Bob Martin, editor and publisher of the weekly, Montgomery Independent; Penn Dilworth of Huntsville, rare-book dealer; Suzanne Hobbs of Jacksonville, a poet I had met at a conference of the Alabama Writers’ Conclave; Sherry Kughn, author of inspirational books; Betty Wilkinson, also an author of inspirational books; Linda Fisher of Montgomery, author of two young-adult novels about William Shakespeare; Dean Faulkner Wells, the niece of William Faulkner, an author in her own right, especially memoirs; Sonia Sanchez, whose poetry emphasizes black culture and who won the Harper Lee Award for Alabama’s Distinguished Writer (she broke down and cried when speaking of her dad; she said, “I’m black when I’m singing and blue when I’m not); Randall Horton, a poet living in Connecticut, but originally from Birmingham; and Eric Litwin, of New York, who sang, picked the banjo, entertained the children especially, and wrote “Pete the Cat.”

Another person I came across was Christy Jordan, who started the blog, SouthernPlate.com for her heritage of recipes.

She said, making fun of her talkativeness, “I sneeze, and it’s 500 words.”

When Christy met Paula Deen, the famous cook from Savannah, Paula told her that she (Christy) has such a Southern accent that she makes her (Paula Deen) sound like a Yankee!

Christy said, “Aren’t we glad we’re not rich?!”

She identified the secret ingredient needed in a good recipe as love.

For every author I got to hear there were five or six more that I couldn’t attend.

The festival lasted only six hours, starting at 10 in the morning, all too short!

The Portly Gentleman was in Montgomery the same time I was, attending the Lee High School Hall of Fame, an annual event honoring those who have contributed to Lee’s history in some way, outstanding alumni, and former teachers.

The ceremony is staged in the Lee Cafeteria and includes a banquet. Each honoree receives a handsome statuette of General Lee, modeled after the statue that stands outside the entrance to Lee High on Ann Street.

Because of the terrible storms last weekend, the 18th annual ceremony was changed from Friday night to Saturday night.

I shall let the Portly Gentleman tell the rest in his own words.

“I ran into Roy Windham’s cousin, Nell (Rushton) McGilberry, and her husband Tom. Nell was named for Roy’s mother. I also ran into Roy’s cousin, Billie Capell. Roy’s cousins were in Andalusia recently for Roy’s birthday and ate at Tabby D.’s.

“Others I met in passing were my cousin, Betty Cobb, who was present for the induction of her daughter, Betsy (Cobb) Echols, into the Hall of Fame; Coach Jim (and Joan) Chafin, who was coaching at Lee when I was a student there and who was a Christian example to me at my home church in Montgomery, Morningview Baptist; Mickey and Joette Castleberry, who ate with me; and Debbie (Dendy) Scott, a Lee graduate, and a mighty pretty one.

“Mickey Castleberry was a big influence on my life, just a year older than I, in his Class of 1961. He led me into Christian activities and on to Howard College (later, Samford). His wife is a cousin to Ken Bush, A.H.S. Class of 1960, who is still preaching at First Baptist, Eufaula, more than 25 years now. Ken also attended Howard and was also a friend.

“The menu was superb – rice, gravy, roast, fried chicken, tea, yeast rolls, delectable green beans, new potatoes, supercalifragilisticexpialidocious squash casserole (it floated down from Heaven!), seven-layer salad, strawberry shortcake and chocolate cake.

“Among those inducted into the Lee Hall of Fame was Leroy Pierce, Lee’s first security officer, who also escorted the statue of Lee to its current location, when the statue was moved from its former location on Madison Avenue in 1960. Pierce, 85, who fought in World War II, was also the officer who chanced to arrest Rosa Parks in the bus incident in Montgomery.”

For this week’s Sesquicentennial Moment we remember that in l861, 150 years ago, Virginia proposed secession but awaited a later vote. People in Western Virginia, however, didn’t need to wait and had no intention of leaving the Union no matter what the rest of Virginia decided later. A separate state grew out of this attitude.

The Confederacy captured a Union ship, The Star of the West.

Col. Robert E. Lee was offered by President Lincoln command of the Union army. Lee declined and later resigned his federal army post, deciding he could not turn against his own people in Virginia.

Lincoln sent ships to blockade Confederate ports, a tactic successful throughout the War.

The 6th Massachusetts Regiment of New York marched to Washington through Baltimore, Maryland, a state divided by loyalties to the North and South. While in Baltimore, the 6th was involved in a riot with Southern sympathizers. Nine civilians and four soldiers were killed. More riots followed. Washington felt in jeopardy because of so many Southern sympathizers in Maryland and the proximity of Baltimore.

A naval yard in Norfolk, Va., was prematurely burned by federal forces with the intention of preventing its use by the Confederacy, a decision the North later regretted.

To honor the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible (1611 – 2011), I quote the father of our country, George Washington, “Above all, the pure, benign light of revelation (the Scriptures) has had a meliorating influence on mankind and increased the blessings of society.”

On the eighteenth of April, did you quote, gentle reader, the lines from “Paul Revere’s Ride” by Longfellow? See if you can now. The first l8 lines should be memorized by all American schoolchildren. They start, “Listen, my children, and you shall hear.”

The 19th of April in 1775 marked the battles of Lexington and Concord in the American Revolution. My Cousin Jo’s hometown, Lexington, S.C., was changed to recall the battle of Lexington, Ma. There are now Lexingtons all over.

Charlotte Bronte, English author of four novels, including the famous Jane Eyre, was born this past week, April 21. She had two sisters who also wrote novels.

Most famous is today’s birthday boy, one William Shakespeare, the English playwright and poet, considered by many the greatest writer the world has ever known. “Old Bill,” as Lester Hamiter, a fine student, used to call him in senior English, was born April 23, 1564, more than 400 years ago.

Miss Flora Covington reminded me again that Jasmine Hills Gardens below Wetumpka and above Montgomery, is open weekends through June 26, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays. Sundays the gardens are open noon till 5 p.m.

Bellingrath Gardens at Theodore near Mobile is open almost daily.

This is the fourth week that our mystery person has gone unidentified, a record; so I offer my “cluegraph” again. This person is so true-blue an Auburn fan that, if you cut him, he bleeds orange and blue. His Auburn bill is paid first each month, if all others have to wait. A former baseball star, the son of a teacher and a Baptist, he has an “underground” job. He has one wife, “so far,” she says, and is master of a beloved dog, Little One. Someone guessed Ralph Wells, but he’s not the one.

Andalusia, you are stumped!

Gentle reader, let me encourage each of us to be in his place of worship this weekend, Lord willing, especially Easter Sunday.

When children, we could expect new clothes twice a year, once, for school’s start, and then, for Easter Sunday.

The Portly Gentleman tells me that his dad let him pick out his own Easter outfit one year because the Portly One thought he was old enough to do so. He selected a charcoal-grey shirt, a pale yellow tie, and a sickly green sports jacket with white tuffs. The Portly One thought he really looked like something; and he did!

He had to wear that outfit every Sunday for the next year. The sad thing is that, at the end of that year, the poor boy still thought he looked the model of fashion.

Fare thee well.