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

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 30, 2011

Peeping through my Venetian blind, I saw Miss Cora Covington, heading my way from Covington Hall with something in her hands. I opened my cottage door and waited for her to come up on my porch. In her hands was a warm dewberry cobbler. Well, nothing would do than for us to sit down, have a serving (or two), and catch up on the latest.

We talked flowers, of course; and Cora mentioned what was in bloom at the Hall – catalpa, yucca, primroses, verbena, coreopsis, magnolias, amaryllis, bottlebrush, Gerbera daisies, petunias, daylilies, ligustrum and other bedding plants.

Cora spoke of her dewberry nectar and promised me a bottle.

I told her of my trip to Camden to spend Easter with relatives and friends. There we enjoyed a potluck buffet and Easter-egg hunt. Camden is a beautiful, old, country town with antebellum and Victorian structures, a postcard of beauty.

On the way I drove over Road 10, through the lovely Poole Community with its neat and well preserved church, cemetery, and homes, through the village of Pine Apple (two words, not one) with its grand, old houses, shady woods, far-flung fields, and rustic fences with wild roses and honeysuckle, cascading over them, as ideal and idyllic a spot as any in the Country, and through the smaller village of Oak Hill with its fine homes and hill-top beauty.

Miss Priscilla Primme, the English teacher, complained the other day that there hasn’t been as much rain this April as she wanted.

“April showers bring May flowers,” Miss Primme repeated, adding, “I hope we have some flowers in May!”

Seen at the Huddle House for lunch were Claude Summerlin, Douglas and Frances Castleberry and Judge Jerry Stokes.

I know little about computers. I can type on one, but I don’t know enough to turn one on. Others have been trying to educate me about the “net” and something called Facebook. Well, let me tell you, I read some “hard copy” from the Facebook the other day (that’s a print-out on paper of the words; I think it’s called hard copy because it’s hard to believe the copy!). Talk about “airing one’s dirty laundry in public”! I’m here to tell you it ought to be called “Disgrace Book”!

If some of you don’t cut that kind of behavior out, you are going to get a verbal whipping from me, one you won’t soon forget! I’m here to tell you!

Let me add this. The worst students I ever taught didn’t misspell as much as I saw on one page of Facebook! There are incomplete sentences and incomplete thoughts. The punctuation, capitalization, vocabulary and vulgarity are shameful. English grammar has been set back 100 years by all these electronic gadgets!

The Covington Rifles Camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans met in honor of their Confederate ancestors April 21 in the fellowship room of Cedar Grove Church of Christ for a program and potluck buffet.

Tables were decorated with Confederate flags.

SCV Commander Sir Francis McGowin presided, escorting Tammie Evans, president of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, to the strains of “Dixie” to her place to present a program on Confederate Memorial Day.

Mrs. Evans in period dress was assisted by her daughter, Brandi Evans, also in period dress, who placed the Confederate flag on an altar, decorated with pictures of Confederate leaders.

Mrs. Evans spoke of the times when businesses closed on Memorial Day, when graves were decorated, and when speeches, parades and bands were common.

Memorial Day in Alabama this year was celebrated April 25, a Monday. The fourth Monday in April is commonly celebrated as Confederate Memorial Day. The whole month of April has been set aside by the State to spotlight Confederate history in Alabama.

The invocation was worded by Chaplain John Allen Gantt.

Sir Francis led in the pledge to the American flag.

Also attending were Jimmy and Madge Cobb, Rosemary Gantt, Ann McGowin, Larry Shaw, Irene (Davis) Butler, Sue Wilson (president of the Covington Historical Society), Curtis Hampton Thomasson (past commander), Derick Davis, Delia Knight, Norma king, Robert Lee Holley, Mitzi Butler, Esker Thomasson, Morris and Rita Mullen and their grandson, Brodie, Eleanor Williamson, Vaughn Bowers, Linda Castleberry, Janelle Windham, Margie Thomasson and Joe Wingard.

The Sesquicentennial Moment follows to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the War Between the States.

This past week, 150 years ago, President Lincoln was fearful that Washington, D.C., would be invaded by the Confederates; so, he was somewhat relieved when the 7th New York Regiment arrived to provide added protection for his capital.

All the time Lincoln was hoping the South wouldn’t invade the North, he seemed to feel no qualms about invading the South. He had made up his mind to keep the South in the Union by force. (He reminds me of King George III.)

Lincoln suspended the writ of habeas corpus for an area near Washington, partly as a result of the turmoil in Baltimore, Md.

Lincoln also ordered blockades of the ports in Virginia and North Carolina even though these two states had not officially joined the Confederacy. (I wonder how the blockades affected feelings about secession there.)

Lincoln was pleased that Maryland had rejected secession.

In the South President Davis spoke to the second session of the Confederate Provisional Congress in Montgomery. He said that the Confederacy desired peace but not at the sacrifice of honor and independence.

Lincoln ordered federal troops to leave forts in Indian Territory, which left the Indians under Confederate control.

By the way, the first two stamps in a series, commemorating the Sesquicentennial of the War Between the States, have been issued. Both are “forever” stamps. One depicts Fort Sumter in April of 1861, burning. The second pictures the first battle at Bull Run (a stream) in July of 1861. Bull Run is also known as Manassas because of a nearby rail line at a junction of that name.

To honor the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible (1611 – 2011), I quote Thomas Jefferson, our third President, “I have always said, and always will say, that the studious perusal of the sacred volume will make better citizens, better fathers, and better husbands.”

A special birthday this week was that of the English historian, Edward Gibbon, who wrote A History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, which some consider the greatest history in our language.

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.

Congratulations to Bobby Johns for identifying Brian Riley as the mystery person. The next mystery person is “the Plowboy Poet.” Who is he?

At this point I wish to conclude notes on Betty Mitchell’s bus tour to New Orleans. Her notes have already been printed. Because of her illness, “Miss Betty” turned the job of finishing the report over to one of her faithful “Buskoteers,” my cousin, Jo Driggers of Lexington, S.C. I shall let Jo speak for herself.

“First on the agenda for Wednesday was a visit to the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, which featured 500 species of marine life. Highlights were watching the feeding of the penguins, seeing a blue-eyed, white alligator, and walking in an acrylic tunnel underneath a l32,000-gallon tank, which contained marine life from the Caribbean. The aquarium lost much of its sea life due to generator failures in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. It reopened in May 2006.

“Lunchtime followed; and the travelers were on their own to eat, shop, and sight-see in the French Quarter, the oldest and most famous neighborhood in New Orleans. Some visited Jax Brewery, a former beer factory, which was converted into shops and restaurants. Many explored the French Market, America’s oldest continuously operated public market. It is comprised of an open-air Farmers’ Market, a Flea Market, restaurants and upscale specialty shops. Several could not resist Aunt Sally’s Creole Praline Shop. Others bought Mardi Gras masks and beads. Across the street was Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville.

“At the appointed hour everyone met at Toulouse Street Wharf to board the steamship Natchez and take a two-hour cruise down the Mississippi River. The captain told the group that the Natchez (the ninth with that name) is the last steamboat on the Mississippi, the largest river in North America. He pointed out many sights on shore. Among those was Jackson Barracks (a military base established in l834), located in the Lower 9th Ward. It once served as headquarters of the Louisiana National Guard and had an extensive military museum prior to Hurricane Katrina.

“Another sight of interest was the Domino Sugar refinery, the second largest in the world. Sixteen million pounds of sugar is refined each day. The refinery has been in operation over l00 years and reopened six months after Katrina.

“The location of the Battle of New Orleans (January 8, 1815) was seen as the steamboat slowly made its way down river. This was the site of Andrew Jackson’s victory over the British in the last major battle of the War of 1812.

“When the Natchez returned to the wharf, awaiting the passengers were street mimes and musicians, all wanting a tip. It was only a short walk to Landry’s Seafood House for a delicious dinner. The night was young; and many did not want to go back to the hotel, so they walked to Bourbon Street. After dark several blocks are barricaded against traffic to permit hard-drinking tourists to walk in the streets. Of course, none of Miss Betty’s group fell into that category; however, they did see some ‘risque sights,’ which cannot be mentioned here. It was then back to the hotel for the night.

“Thursday morning after breakfast the travelers motored to Marrero, La., to take a two-hour Jean Lafitte Swamp Boat Tour. The Cajun guide, Captain Joey, steered the boat through the bayou, pointing out alligators, snakes, turtles, herons, etc.. Plant life included dwarf palmetto and pond cypress trees, duckweed, moss, and water hyacinths. The boat passed by a ‘house,’ typical of those inhabited by Cajuns who once lived there and a shack built by Burt Reynolds for the movie Tempted. The group spotted an eleven-foot alligator named Joe, sunning himself on the bank.

“Captain Joey brought out a baby alligator, which he keeps in a tank. The passengers were encouraged to hold him; and if Miss Betty’s group was brave enough to visit Bourbon Street at night, they could certainly hold an alligator, which they did. There are pictures to prove it!

“The ‘Buskoteers’ then headed back to ‘New Awlins’ for some free time. Those who had expressed an interest in touring the World War II Museum were dropped off there. They ate lunch at the nearby Ugly Dog Saloon and BBQ where they saw actress Sandra Bullock and got her autograph.

“The rest of the bus load went to the French Quarter for lunch, followed by more shopping and sight-seeing. A favorite landmark of this district is historic Jackson Square, named for Gen. Andrew Jackson. In the center of the square stands a statue of General Jackson on his rearing horse. It is the world’s first equestrian statue with more than one hoof unsupported. The square is a gathering place for artists, caricaturists, tarot-card readers, mimes, fortunetellers, and street performers.

“On the opposite side of the square from the river is Saint Louis Cathedral, the oldest continuously operating cathedral in the United States. The inside is breathtaking with its paintings, statues, and stained-glass windows.

“To the left of the cathedral is the Cabildo, the old city hall, now a museum. The Louisiana Purchase was signed there in l803.

“Café du Monde, across the street from Jackson Square, was a favorite of the tourists. Here one could dine while listening to street musicians, playing jazz. The café is open 24 hours a day and serves beignets (square French donuts, covered with powdered sugar) and café au lait. One cannot be on a diet in New Orleans!

“That night the group arrived at the Holiday Inn Downtown-Superdome for a Mardi Gras Dinner Party with travelers from New Jersey and Georgia. Many Alabamians were wearing Mardi Gras masks purchased earlier in the week and were given an ovation as they entered the dining room.

“A delicious meal was served and live Cajun music provided, using an accordion, fiddle, guitar and washboard. Many enjoyed dancing to the lively music.

“Before leaving New Orleans Friday morning, the bus driver, Michael, had high praise for Miss Betty. He said that, of all the Diamond Tours for which he had driven, he had enjoyed this one the most. Betty, he said, was the most organized person for whom he had driven; and everyone in her group was always on time. The ‘Buskoteers’ showed their appreciation for Michael by giving him a round of applause.

“The bus passed over Lake Pontchatrain and soon made its way into Mississippi, stopping for a late breakfast at the same Cracker Barrel in Moss Point as before. The final leg of the journey was spent playing Bingo and listening to a CD of Fats Domino. All arrived safely home in the early afternoon and thanked Miss Betty and Michael for a wonderful trip.”

Thank you, too, Jo, for a thorough and enjoyable report about the second half of the New Orleans trip. For such a delightful report you have well earned your nickname of “Computerella.”

I hear that another one of the tourists had a nickname, too, “The Plowboy Poet.” He wrote a nice poem about the journey. I’ll conclude with a couplet of his, “Miss Betty’s tours are rated A-number one!

She takes you everywhere under the sun.”

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