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

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 11, 2011

Peeping through my Venetian blind, I noticed the crepe myrtles in bloom. One gets his money’s worth out of crepe myrtles. They bloom and bloom and bloom. I keep hoping that someone will develop the variety of beautiful blooms already represented by the lilacs in the North. I like to think of the crepe myrtle as “the lilac of the South.”

At Tabby D.’s this week for the lunch buffet, I ran into Wade and Jearlon Rogers. We talked about how much we miss a mutual friend, Gertrude Nelson, who passed away recently.

I also enjoyed passing the time of day with Elmer and Myrtice Davis.

On television this week some of the newsmen were teasing Sarah Palin, the former governor of Alaska and a presidential hopeful, about not knowing American history. The newsmen claimed that Mrs. Palin thought that Paul Revere warned the British as well as the Americans that “the British are coming” by ringing bells. Never once did I hear anyone on TV give credit to the American poet who made Paul Revere’s ride famous. That was Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, once a teacher of foreign languages at Harvard in Cambridge, Ma., and, in my opinion, the centerpiece of American literature and the most important poet in American history. An elementary knowledge of Longfellow and his famous poem would have saved Mrs. Palin some embarrassment.

There was a time when almost every American child knew of Longfellow and could quote from his poetry, especially the first l8 lines of “Paul Revere’s Ride,” which begin with “Listen, my children, and you shall hear/ Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere.” Anyone who knows those lines knows that Revere was riding to warn the countryside that the British were coming and that it was not bells, but lanterns in the tower of the North Church that would indicate if the British were to come by land or sea, “one if by land and two if by sea.”

The North Church still stands in Boston on the “Freedom Trail.”

To me one measure of a good educational system and a good teacher of literature is whether that system and instructor teach Longfellow and his standard poetry or not. Longfellow is “basic.”

I know of a teacher who once taught English at the Andalusia High School. She said, “I don’t teach Longfellow because I don’t like him.” It may be because of such attitudes that students do not receive basic knowledge at times. Teachers should teach the basics, whether they personally appreciate them or not. That may not be possible. Boards of education should hire teachers who know the basics and appreciate them. Boards may need some help in hiring such teachers. Hiring a good teacher is perhaps the most important act of a board of education.

Parents and grandparents, ask your children about Longfellow and Paul Revere’s ride. See what kind of education your children are receiving.

Riding along Easley Road with Mrs. Gotrocks, who was here in the “Dimple of Dixie,” visiting from Greenville, we noted the brick columns, being formed along the edge of the Andalusia Memorial Cemetery. I presume fencing will be placed between the columns. Much work has been done to improve the looks of the cemetery.

The Covington Rifles, the local “camp” (chapter) of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, met June 2 in the Dixon Memorial of the public library.

The stately John Allen Gantt, camp chaplain, worded both the invocation and benediction.

After salutes to the flags, Larry Shaw led in “Dixie” as all stood.

Sir Francis McGowin, commander, presided, giving a report of his attendance at the state SCV “reunion” (annual convention).

McGowin led in a discussion of recent television programs about the War Between the States and their reliability.

He announced the national “reunion” of the SCV, set for July 13–16 in Montgomery because of its connection with the Sesquicentennial (150th anniversary) of the War. The Confederacy was organized in Montgomery and its first (and only) president, Jefferson Davis, inaugurated there.

John Allen Gantt agreed to present the August program, about the Jewish influence in the Confederacy.

It was stated that the Causeway, leading into Mobile, was originally built on bales of cotton discarded by the Confederacy.

Also discussed were a web site for the local camp, a possible error in The Montgomery Advertiser about Jefferson Davis, the monument to soldiers in Covington County who fought for the Confederacy, and marking all the graves of Confederate soldiers, now buried in Covington County.

Also attending were Curtis Hampton Thomasson (past commander for some 11 years), Jimmy Cobb, Morris Mullen, Derek Davis, Rick Boswell, Vaughn Bowers and Joe Wingard.

Birthdays this week included those of Robert Schumann, a German composer, and John Howard Payne, the American dramatist who wrote the opera Clari, which includes the famous song, “Be It Ever So Humble, There’s No Place like Home.” Thousands have had these words stitched on samplers for the walls of their homes. Today the words have become more associated with the end of the movie, The Wizard of Oz, when Dorothy quotes them to Auntie Em.

To celebrate the 400th anniversary of the publication of the King James Bible, I quote Sir Walter Scott, the great Scottish novelist and poet, who said on his deathbed, “Bring me the Book!” When asked which book, he replied, “There is but one Book!”

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.

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

President Lincoln’s cabinet agreed to accept all debts for the War.

Tennessee – at last – secedes.

Remember to buy Sesquicentennial stamps.

No one guessed the mysterian of the week, so here is the cluegraph again – he 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.

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