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

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 4, 2011

Peeping through my Venetian blind, I thought of James Russell Lowell’s lines, “And what is so rare as a day in June? Then, if ever, come perfect days.” That’s from his poem, “The Vision of Sir Launfal.”

One fact that has stuck with me through the years is that Lowell died in the same house in which he was born in Cambridge, Ma.; and that house is now used as the official residence of the president of Harvard University, the oldest college in the nation. Funny – what we remember.

Seen at Granny’s for lunch last Sunday were Cecil and Brunetta Patterson and Wayne and Lenora Johnson.

The last time I was in Washington, D.C., the mall, our nation’s “front yard,” looked in need of attention. I was pleased to read in The Montgomery Advertiser that a plan is in place to improve the looks.

Back from the Memorial Day weekend in Indianapolis are Ivan Bishop, Robert Williams, Ronnie Lane, and Charlie Cope, who drove up to see the l00th running of the Indy-500. It was very special for Ivan because it was his 50th time to attend. The boys ran into the Portemont family, also attending. I hear that Ivan always bursts into song when he crosses the river into Indiana.

The Andalusia High School Chorus presented its spring concert, “A Taste of Broadway,” May 9 at 6:30 p.m. in the AHS auditorium. The program was dedicated to the mothers of Paula Sue Duebelt, choral director, and Sue (Bass) Wilson, her assistant. The mothers were Barbara Cook and Marge Bass, who “taught, encouraged, and supported their daughters in the AHS choral-music program and throughout their entire lifetimes.” Both Duebelt and Wilson are members of the AHS Class of 1965 and came to the rescue this year to save the choral program at AHS when a shortage of funds threatened to undo the program entirely.

Most educators in the Andalusia City Schools are members of the Andalusia Association of Educators, a branch of the Alabama Education Association. There was a time when every educator in Andalusia belonged, including every teacher, the superintendent, and all principals. AAE officers for 2011 – 2012 have been chosen – Perry Dillard, president; Daniel Bulger, vice-president; Marcus Taylor, secretary; and Karen Pass, treasurer for her 12th time (I think).

May is special for the youth of First Presbyterian Church here in the “Dimple of Dixie.” During Sunday School May 15 the congregation’s graduating seniors from high school were honored with a lovely, morning tea, hosted by the Church. The seniors were Aubrey Boyington, Bradley Browder, Sam Fairley, Maggie Jones, Anna Locklier and Ava May.

That Sunday, known as Youth Sunday, requires all the youth of the church to plan and participate in the morning worship. The youth were coordinated by Tavia Scott Fischer.

Stephen Caton of the AHS Class of 2012 played “Deep River” at the grand piano as the opening prelude with little Adeline Fischer, also at the piano, performing “Jesus Loves Me” as the introit and “Do Lord” as the postlude.

Reading liturgies, scriptures, and prayers were Maggie Jones, Sam Fairley, Anna Locklier, Willie Riedel, Aubrey Boyington, Hope Caton, Abbie Young and David May. Also participating were Matthew Riedel, Mary Katherine Salter and Annaleigh Fischer.

Savannah Ricks and Sam Fairley held the congregation spellbound with their beautiful solos of “He” and “Why,” respectively.

Bradley Browder delivered a wonderful message for the children’s sermon.

Ava May accompanied the Chancel Choir on trumpet as they sang Marcello’s “The Heavens Proclaim.”

Ava also presented the morning message, “Musical Blessings.”

A long-standing tradition of Youth Sunday is the presentation of Bibles from the Presbyterian Women to the graduating seniors.

Barbara McCommons, assisted by Kathy Johnson, made the touching presentation to each.

On Wed., May 18, the church hosted their fifth annual “senior roast.” This event is always a fun time for the congregation, although somewhat stressful for the seniors, as they do not know which embarrassing moments from their lives will return to haunt them.

A delicious meal of barbecue, baked beans, slaw and chips was served with special cupcakes for dessert. A video montage of each senior with appropriate music for the individual was prepared by Cathy Powell and shown after the meal.

This year’s roast took the form of a game show entitled, “Your Goose Is Cooked,” hosted by Roger Powell, who introduced the evening’s contestants and called each forward to join the “blonde” and “brunette” teams. Interesting “facts” from each one’s past and present were presented, to the delight of all present and the squeals of some contestants. A fun time was had by “ratting” out these seniors.

Roger Powell, our circuit clerk, by the way, is a graduate of AHS, Class of 1972. It was he who drew the sketch of AHS that illustrated the commencement programme this year.

Rogerl Reeves sang “America” in the opening assembly of the Baraca Class at First Baptist last Sunday, in honor of Memorial Day. Martha Givhan accompanied him at the Ann Martin piano.

In morning worship at First Baptist Jeanice (Paul) Kirkland, retired teacher and church accompanist, sang a lovely solo with her cathedral voice. She was accompanied at the grand piano by Sonia Crigger.

The AHS commencement exercises concluded Thursday night, May 26, with graduation, beginning at 7 p.m. in the AHS Auditorium.

The 107th class, dating from 1904 – 1905, was graduated by the authority of the Board of Education and State of Alabama.

Of 101 listed on the graduation programme, 96 seniors participated, receiving diplomas from Dr. Daniel Shakespeare, principal of AHS in his ninth year, assisted for the first time by Bennie Shellhouse, assistant principal and bandmaster.

Prior to awarding diplomas, Dr. Shakespeare, dressed in his doctoral gown, delivered an inspirational and stirring speech.

The ceremony began with the traditional prelude, “Trumpet Voluntary,” played by Ava Louise May, trumpeter and senior, accompanied at the grand piano by John A. Beasley, math instructor, retiring this year after 38.5 years at AHS.

Mr. Beasley has played for baccalaureate and graduation for 32 years and promises to return next year to play again, even though retired.

Ava May played the “Trumpet Voluntary” with Mr. Beasley during her sophomore, junior, and senior years.

Angelia (Baker) Sasser, class sponsor, science teacher, AHS Class of l972, then sang the vespers, “Gaudeamus Igitur,” with words written by her old teacher and long-time grand marshal of commencement, Joseph Cecil Wingard.

Beasley next played Elgar’s, world-famous “Pomp and Circumstance,” used here since 1946, as the seniors marched down two aisles and onto the stage, set with red chairs and flanked by greenery in matching white vases atop white pedestals. In the center was the lectern, a gift of the Class of 1984, based on a design by S. Daniel Shehan, a past teacher at AHS, and originally built by his father, Comer B. Shehan. Before the lectern was a silver urn, given by the Class of 1979, filled with red roses, the class flower.

Class President Callie-Marie Crigger led in Bellamy’s “Pledge to the Flag.” Miss Crigger also served as president of her sophomore and junior classes.

Mrs. Sasser stepped forward then to lead all in “The Star-spangled Banner,” sung with gusto by the large crowd of attenders, accompanied by Mr. Beasley.

Miss Crigger, overcome by emotion, nevertheless, delivered her presidential greetings to thunderous applause.

She spoke of how lovingly and kindly she was received into the community when she and her family moved here just a few years ago.

Garrett Jep Sasser, the salutatorian, presented the salutatory, “The Time of Your Life.”

Mrs. Sasser, for her 13th year, sang the traditional graduation song by Russell and Knight, “The Halls of Ivy.”

Zoza Grace Spears, valedictorian, delivered the valedictory, “Light a Fire.” Among those hearing her speak were her maternal grandparents from Florida, Ron and Zoza Harmon.

Ted Watson, superintendent of the Andalusia City Schools, in his first year, presented a heart-felt essay to the audience.

As seniors were graduated, their parents and grandparents were asked to stand as each received a diploma.

I turned in time to see Jule (Bradley) Browder stand for her grandson, Bradley Browder, and had to choke back my tears for there stood a soul, dear, dear, dear to me, a connection with my past, one with whom I had taught for years, one with whom I share precious memories.

At the end Mrs. Sasser came forth and led all in the alma mater, written by Mrs. J. Morgan Prestwood (Ellie Snead) for the Class of 1928 and its sponsor, Miss Striplin. The men respectfully removed their mortarboards, and the “sweet girl graduates” wiped tears from their cheeks. The old school song was first sung 83 years ago at Senior Class Night, May 25, l928, in the auditorium of East Three-Notch School, now the City Hall auditorium.

The senior men and “sweet girl graduates” (as Tennyson labeled the lady graduates in his poetry) then marched out to Verdi’s “Grand March” in Aida, played for its 42nd consecutive year. It was Mr. Beasley’s last time as a teacher to play the old notes.

Ushers for graduation were Hunter Albritton, Alectricia Barnes, Adrianna Carpenter, Candace Cravey, Kristen Evans, Alex Hart, Pierre Johnson, Sung Mo, Kelsey Moore, Catherine Grace Searcy and John David Thompson.

Their sponsor was Nicole Jackson, for her sixth year.

Commencement exercises have been staged in the AHS auditorium since 1964. Before then they were held in the Old Gym (demolished), East Three-Notch Auditorium and the Opera House (demolished).

Mortarboards and gowns were first worn in high-school commencements in this country in 1908 and at AHS by the Class of l926.

The AHS class with the highest attendance was 1974 with an estimated 200.

There is only one list in existence that attempts to name all graduates of AHS. It is incomplete because no one has yet come forth to name graduates of 1911 and 1913. If you find any information about those classes, in particular, please notify this writer. Thank you.

As Mr. Beasley concluded his playing, folks turned to one another in great joy and satisfaction and a little sadness. In the crowd, I spotted Gloria Dupree, formerly Mrs. James Donaldson, whose granddaughter, Taylor Donaldson, was class songster. Miss Dupree taught mathematics at AHS for many years. She has taken back her maiden name and is retired after 46 years (I think) in education and is now living in Asheville, N.C. Like her granddaughter, Miss Dupree was known for her singing.

Only two seniors were the fourth generations in their families to be graduated from AHS, Stinson George Thompson and Phinosha Sinque White.

There were quite a few in the third-generation column: Brandon Jacob Ballard, Lauren Melinda Beasley, Shcaria Ashley Curry, Tameralisha Necole Curry, Dustin Andrew Daigle, Nicholas Patrick Daigle, Andrew Kendall Doster, James William Doulin III, Samuel Levi Fairley, Omarr Giome Feagin, Oreuna Symone Feagin, Keontae Scott Freeney, Margaret Ruth Jones, Anna Malorie Locklier, Robert Wayne Maddox, Jerome Shaivon Mathews, Ava Louise May, Morgan Blake Palmer, Iesha Monique Parker, Lyndsey Carol Stephens and Jordan Robert Theus.

Thirty-two seniors were marked as second generations, including the valedictorian and salutatorian, whose last names both began with s.

This year’s board of education consists of Dr. William G. King Jr., president; Joecephus Nix, vice-president; W. David Bryant, Amy (Pitts) Dugger and Dr. David McCalman, members.

Birthdays this week included Patrick Henry, American patriot; Gilbert Keith Chesterton, English author; Edward Elgar, English composer; Thomas Hardy, English novelist/poet; and Jefferson Davis, only president of the Confederate States of America, whose bicentennial was celebrated in 2008, three years ago.

It was Patrick Henry who delivered the greatest speech in American history, ending, “As for me, give me liberty or give me death!”

Elgar composed “Pomp and Circumstance,” used since 1946 here in Andalusia for our seniors to march in to graduation ceremonies.

To celebrate the 400th anniversary of the publication of the King James Bible, I quote Dr. William Lyon Phelps, a noted English professor, once at Yale University, “I thoroughly believe in a university education for both men and women; but I believe a knowledge of the Bible without a college education is more valuable than a college course without the Bible.”

Gentle reader, I recommend to you the autobiography of Dr. Phelps’s life. It is an education.

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 county. Even if you cannot attend meetings, you could give your financial backing. I ask the schoolteachers of our area, in particular, to help.

To commemorate the Sesquicentennial of the War Between the States, let us return to this week l50 years ago.

Dorothea Dix, later to become famous, helps set up hospitals for the North.

General Beauregard takes command of the Confederate forces in Northern Virginia. The South loses one of its first soldiers in a skirmish.

Stephen A. Douglas, once Lincoln’s rival for president, dies at 48.

The Union soldiers run Confederate troops out of West Virginia and Philippi.

Remember to buy Sesquicentennial stamps.

Robert Lee Holley correctly identified last Saturday’s mysterian as Coach Richard Robertson, beloved and much honored basketball coach at AHS. Coach Robertson’s years at AHS outnumber anyone else’s in its history. Congratulations!

This week’s mysterian has a white mustache, is always “tired,” is the oldest of three brothers and one sister, likes to hunt, is married and attends First Presbyterian Church.

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.

Gentle reader, please allow me to encourage each of us to be in his place of worship this weekend, Lord willing. Fare thee well!