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

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 14, 2011

Peeping through my Venetian blind, I admired the whites in bloom – the magnolias, gardenias, and elderberries. I smiled as I thought of more than one dear, little, Baptist lady who was proud of the elderberry wine she had made.

The Murals Committee met May 10 at City Hall to discuss the fifth mural planned for “the Dimple of Dixie.” Wes Hardin of Dothan, who has painted the first four, shared sketches of utilities, the Three-Notch Trail, and the marriage of Hank and Audrey Williams, being planned for the corner of Central and East Three-Notch.

In attendance were Pat Palmore, chairlady; Earl Johnson, mayor; Nancy Robbins, Robert Anderson and Joe Wingard.

Seen for lunch at Tabby D.’s were Marshall and Jane Bentley (who “inherited” the splendid collection of camellias planted by the Barrows along Stanley Avenue), Linda Ward, Robbie and Susan (Powell) Theus, Elmer and Myrtice Davis, and Maggie Shelley.

Fred Karthaus, pastor of First Baptist, Andalusia, delivered the eulogy for Pearl Moulton May 9 at Foreman Funeral Home Chapel. Dr. Karthaus also offered prayer and scripture. At the gravesite in Andalusia Memorial Cemetery he read “Psalm 23” and ended with prayer.

A recording of “The King Is Coming,” sung by Don Lingle, once minister of music at First Baptist (28 years), was played. Mr. Lingle is associated with this song.

Sonia Crigger, wife of the current minister of music, Dwight Crigger, played preludes on the piano as mourners entered the chapel. At the end she played “Now I Belong to Jesus.”

The casket was open, partially covered with a blanket of spring flowers.

Mrs. Moulton was dressed in a grey suit and a black blouse.

Jennifer (Smith) Dansby, retired teacher, sang “The Gift of Our Mothers,” a Mother’s Day song with music by S. Daniel Shehan, in the opening assembly of the Baraca Sunday School Class at First Baptist last Sunday.

She was accompanied by Martha Givhan at the Ann Martin piano.

Mrs. Dansby’s mother, June Smith; her husband, Neal Dansby; and a friend, Wilma Moore, were present along with the distinguished members of the Baraca.

In morning worship Martha Givhan, the church organist, was presented a check for 25 years of musical service to the congregation, along with a standing ovation. Mrs. Givhan responded with a sweet speech, mentioning her teacher, the late Louise (Bozeman) Barrow, who was church accompanist for some 60 years.

Later in the service Mrs. Givhan’s daughter, Endsley, who has returned to Andalusia from South Carolina, moved her membership back to First Baptist, a precious move for Mother’s Day.

All mothers in the service were asked to stand and received red carnations.

Last Sunday, May 8, a lengthy article on the Albritton family of Andalusia was featured in The Montgomery Advertiser, along with a picture of U. S. District Judge Harold Albritton III, and his sons, William Harold Albritton IV, Benjamin Howard Albritton and Thomas Bynum Albritton.

The attorneys are descendants of Edgar Thomas Albritton, who started in Andalusia 124 years ago what is now Alabama’s oldest law firm with a continuous family connection. He has recently been inducted into the Alabama Lawyers Hall of Fame.

Seen at the Huddle House for supper were Jimmy Kennedy, younger son of the late Bill Kennedy, a beloved teacher of history at the Andalusia High School. With Jimmy were his two sons, Timmy and Tubby.

Jimmy teaches history, like his dad, and also coaches at Eufaula High School, where he has been for 15 years. He and his family live in Clayton in his mother’s childhood home. He was in town to visit his mother, Edith, Mother’s Day.

Dining with the Kennedys were David and Lisa Wiggins, childhood friends. The Wigginses travel to sing church music.

Also seen at the Huddle were Danny and Cathy (Chesser) Gantt, Johnny and Nelda Godwin and Sidney and Polly (Wilder) Waits.

Seen at the Dairy Queen for lunch were Dan Blocker and his daughter, Erica, Brenda Johnson, Tony and Jeanice Fendley, Polly King and Barbara McCommons.

The death of the actor, Jackie Cooper, saddened me this week. I knew him when I was a child, watching the old Our Gang comedies (later called the Little Rascals when aired on television). He and his movie gang were part of my childhood, friends with whom I grew up.

I believe that our children today would be better off by growing up with Jackie and the gang, as I did.

Diane (Green) Pettie had a crowd and a half for lunch at Green’s Restaurant Mother’s Day; and she was ready with white cloths on the tables and pink carnations, ferns, and baby’s breath in vases atop mirrored glass.

Watching all was Mrs. Green herself, the matriarch of the family.

Hurrying about to do everything that needed doing was the ever-popular Jo Florence.

Seen among the crowd were Jimmy and Sue (Bass) Wilson, DeWayne Beesley from Monroeville and his mother, Althea Beesley, Neal and Jennifer (Smith) Dansby and her mother June (both ladies, wearing lovely flowers), James and Era (Mrs. Energy) Andrews, James and Janelle Jones, Dr. Morgan and Wilma Moore, Mickey Goodson, Marie Pierce, Ellen Lamar, Steve and Mary Lynn Edgar and their Mary Morgan Pierce, Carl Smyly from Birmingham, with his mother, the saintly Margaret Smyly, and her sister, Sara Jean Clark, Mr. and Mrs. Ferrell Wright, “Tank” and Ophelia Merrill, Margo Rabren, Elmer and Myrtice Davis, Nobie Kelley, Nadine Parker, Randy and Sherry Kelley with their T.J. and Brylon, Sarah Kelley with Austin, Savannah, Ashland, and Hudson, Jackie and Greg Parker with Ross and Chase, Greg and Lisa Hammett, Zach Hammett, David and Carol Moore, Carlton and Debra Killingsworth, Patrick Haymons, Ashton Teel, Jason Killingsworth and dozens of others.

Each lady, upon leaving, was given a hand-made bookmark, designed by Sheila Daugherty.

The Covington County Education Retirees Association assembled May 4 in the Opp Chamber of Commerce for its final meeting of the academic year.

Guest speaker was the newly elected director of District 9 of the Alabama ERA, Nellwyn Peters from the Dothan area.

President Allen Miller presided.

Geraldine Boothe, a past president, worded a devotional, “Mysteries in God’s Creation,” and led in prayer.

Treasurer Harriet Scofield reported.

Secretary Gayle Weeks shared the minutes.

Money was given to Opportunity House and canned goods directed toward the victims of the recent tornadoes in North Alabama.

Discussion included proposed changes in the retirement board.

Sharon Dye, vice-president, won the door prize of $25.

A potluck buffet brought by the members and organized by Dean Morris, social chairman, ended the meeting. Mrs. Morris decorated with vases of gardenias, roses, and magnolias.

Geraldine Boothe voiced the blessing.

Also attending were Linda Lucas, Kim Dyess, Joe Wingard, Tubby Hall, Evelyn Larrigan (publicity chairman), Marlene Miller, Pat Stewart, Janice Hudson, Lucy Conner, Gwendolyn Jessie, Mary Flagg, Elaine Chavers and Earl and Dot Jones.

Teachers, retiring from the Andalusia City Schools this spring, were honored by their professional organization, the Andalusia Association of Educators, a branch of the Alabama Education Association, at Hickory Ridge Lodge and Inn the afternoon of May 5 at 4 p.m.

Catered by the owners, George and Brenda Gantt, the reception was organized by AAE Treasurer Karen Pass, who has served faithfully and efficiently at least 11 years in her post.

Each retiree was given an engraved, Arthur Court, cake-pie server with ice scoop.

Mrs. Pass presided, offering a sweet prayer for the retirees and distributing the gifts.

She was followed by new superintendent, Ted Watson, who shared humorous stories about some of the retirees, thanked them, and sang “To Sir with Love,” substituting his own lyrics to the taped music.

The honorees had taught a total of 285 years.

Retiring from Andalusia High School were John Beasley with 38.5 years and Debbie (Davis) Posey with 25 years.

From Andalusia Middle School were Marjorie (White) Pryor with 17 and Judy (Shaw) Armstrong with 34.5.

From Andalusia Elementary School were Gwen Sightler with 19, Susan (Studstill) Pitts with 33, Cathy (Lee) Harry with 37, and Judy (Bullard) Clark with 37.

Nancy (Cruce) Clark retired as a bus driver with 20 years.

Phyliss (Wilson) Farris retired from the AHS cafeteria with 24 years.

Spouses present were Connie Beasley, Steve Posey, Gary Pitts, Bob Harry and Barry Clark.

A guest, Joe Wingard, president of AAE for seven years at his retirement six years ago, remarked that Mrs. Pitts and Mrs. Harry had both been in his first group when he taught eighth grade in 1966. Both were in the AHS Class of 1971.

The Gantts spread a buffet of lemonade, hot-and-spicy cheese ball, crackers, deviled eggs, grilled, pork-tenderloin sandwiches, chicken salad, raspberry-and-pecan cheese ball, watermelon balls and fried fig tarts, skirted about a large arrangement of wild flowers, featuring pitcher plants and honeysuckle.

Gentle reader, if you have never been to Hickory Ridge, let me tell you that it is a breath of fresh air. A rustic lodge sits atop a ridge, literally with hickories. The lodge is surrounded by a wide porch with rustic furniture – chairs, rockers, tables, benches, rustic decorations, baskets – and ceiling fans.

A cooling breeze fans one as he rocks in the peace and quiet of the shade.

One looks below to lawns, fences, flowerbeds, and a pond over which one walks a wooden bridge to reach the steps to the inn.

Inside is a rustic world of antiques.

I could sit on that old porch and rock for hours.

The lodge is a most interesting and memorable place, opened in 2002. The first event there was the wedding reception for the Gantts’ son, Dallas.

Three birthdays last week were those of James Matthew Barrie, the Scottish author of sentimental stories such as Peter Pan; Edward Lear, the Englishman known for his limericks; and Sir Arthur Sullivan, the English musician who composed the music to “The Lost Chord” and “Onward, Christian Soldiers” and teamed with Sir W. S. Gilbert to create 14 operettas, the best of which are probably H.M.S. Pinafore, The Pirates of Penzance, and Mikado.

To celebrate the 400th anniversary of the publication of the King James Bible, I quote President Abraham Lincoln again, “I am profitably engaged in reading the Bible. Take all of this book upon reason that you can and the balance by faith and you will live and die a better man.”

Again, I ask that each citizen of Andalusia join the Covington Historical Society and pay its annual dues of $25 so as to help preserve the history of our town. Even if you cannot attend meetings, you could give your financial backing. All of the rich lawyers in our county capital should step forth first. As for poor lawyers – what am I saying!?

To commemorate the Sesquicentennial of the War Between the States, let us go back to this week 150 years ago.

President Jefferson Davis ordered the purchase of warships and munitions for the Confederacy. (Uninvited company was coming.) His naval secretary, Mallory, suggested ironclads.

Riots broke out in St. Louis, Missouri, between federal forces and secessionists, resulting in 36 deaths. The federals got the upper hand.

Queen Victoria in England said that Britain would remain neutral.

Union Gen. Benjamin F. Butler occupied Baltimore.

President Lincoln ordered aid to Unionists in Kentucky, though Kentucky wished to remain neutral.

Have you bought any Sesquicentennial stamps yet?

Carrie Turner has correctly identified the mystery person as Clay Thomasson. Congratulations!

This week’s mystery person is a retired executive and editor, dignified, soft-spoken, a Baptist deacon, a singer, a writer of humorous essays.

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.

The Portly Gentleman attended the 14th Alabama Writers Symposium in Monroeville last Thursday – Saturday, May 5–7. Let’s see what he has to say about it.

“I arrived just in time Thursday night for the opening banquet in the Monroeville Community House, sitting with three friends, Gary and Lynne (Jones) Jones and Patricia Peoples, all from Florala.

“Gary and Lynne are photographers; and Patricia teaches English, French, and yearbook at Florala High School.

“The invocation was worded by Dr. Thomas Butts, a retired Methodist minister, once assigned to Andalusia. His prayer was most creative, in keeping with the presentations by Alabama writers, and was applauded. I think that’s the second time lately that I have heard a prayer applauded.

“The keynote speaker was Mark Childress, a novelist and native of Monroeville, just completing a 32-city tour. He spoke of his early efforts to write, his books and his work with the movie version of his novel, Crazy in Alabama. He also read from his latest novel, Georgia Bottoms, and led in a toast to another Monroeville native, Harper Lee, now 85 and living in retirement in Monroeville.

“Lee, author of the world-famous To Kill a Mockingbird, has put Monroeville on the map so that it is now called ‘the Literary Capital of Alabama.’

“I spent Friday, listening to Alabama authors as they spoke of their lives and works in Nettles Hall of the Alabama Southern Community College.

“Those I heard were Tom Franklin, a novelist, teaching at the University of Mississippi; Don Noble, a book reviewer on Alabama Public Radio; Joshilyn Jackson, novelist; Anita Miller Garner, critic for women writers in the South; Jennifer Horne, poet; Beth Ann Fennelly, poet and wife of Tom Franklin; Jim Murphy, teacher of creative writing at the University of Montevallo; Watt Key, Mobile novelist; Nancy Anderson, literary scholar; Winston Groom, novelist; Jeanie Thompson, poet; the humorous Bill Cobb, novelist; Alan Brown, collector of ghost stories; Wayne Greenhaw, writer on civil rights; Wayne Flynt, scholarly historian; Frye Gaillard, writer in residence at the University of South Alabama; Kathryn Scheldt, song writer and singer and recording artist in Nashville; and Jacqueline Trimble, a teacher at Huntingdon College.

“At lunch the Harper Lee Award for distinguished Alabama author was presented to Winston Groom of Point Clear, born 1943, a graduate of the University of Alabama, and author of Forrest Gump (1986), which has sold 2.1 million copies.

“Also, the Eugene Current-Garcia Award for distinguished literary scholar was presented to Dr. David K. Sauer.

“I sat at table with Frye Gaillard, Jay Lamar, Beth Duke and Kathryn Scheldt.

“It was my first time to see Winston Groom in person. He is tall with thinning hair and a husky voice. He wore a suit and glasses and looked like a grandfatherly scholar.

“When the sessions resumed after lunch, I sat with Barbara Bryant and Arlene Nettles, who had driven over for the day to hear Groom speak.

“He said that he was meant to be a lawyer, originally, went to military school, and was instructed by Stan Moore, who taught Shakespeare and drank beer with his students.

“Groom said he attended the University of Alabama, fought in Vietnam, studied under the famous Hudson Strode, edited a humor magazine, and reported for newspapers in Washington. Groom said that the best job he ever had was writing a column. (Hmmm!) He resigned his job, though, to write a novel, moving to the Hamptons to do so. His interest now has turned from novels to history. He likes to hear from his readers but avoids Facebook.

“Said Groom, ‘I don’t write anything unless I get paid for it.’

“He spoke of presentism, judging past generations by current values.

“I found Groom good-natured and with a healthy ego, but he peppered his speech with expletives.

“That evening I attended a picnic on the sunny lawn of the Monroe County Courthouse. What’s Cooking? of Uriah catered with gumbo and rice, fried catfish, hush puppies, deviled eggs, fried okra, lemonade, and cookie bars.

“The owners of What’s Cooking? catered all the meals – masterpieces! Sadly, they are retiring this year.

“I parked on the Square in front of the law office of a former student of mine, DeWayne Beesley, Saturday morning and went upstairs in the courthouse for the last sessions. The room was the scene of the trial in To Kill a Mockingbird.

“The speakers that morning were Michael Knight, novelist; Jay Lamar, author of a fourth-grade, history textbook; Sena Jeter Naslund, novelist; and Roy Hoffman, novelist.

“The weekend concluded with brunch in the Community House.

“The featured speaker was Sonny Brewer, whose biggest fan may be our own, local Bill Spurlin, manager of David’s Catfish.

“Brewer is a mesmerizing talker. He calls himself an ‘easy talker,’ meaning he likes to talk. I think he and Mark Twain share that trait.

“He is working on a ghost story for his son as well as a new novel, too.

“Heading back to Andalusia, I passed the village of Excel, home to our own Mary Hill, the Belle of Excel.”

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