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

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 18, 2011

Peeping through my Venetian blind, I thought of the pretty stand of daylilies over at Mrs. Riley’s house. She is, indeed, a master gardener.

So many people contribute to the beauty of this world. God, bless those who do, for all those “little acts of kindness and of love,” as Wordsworth put it.

Additional brickwork has been done on the gateway to the Andalusia Memorial Cemetery.

Seen at Hook’s for its barbecue were Jimmy and Tammy Cox. I can’t believe that they are already grandparents. How time goes by!

Seen at Samurai, the Japanese steak house and sushi bar down the Florala Highway, were Mike and Donna Cauley, looking culinarily satisfied.

Gordon Vickers, a special minister to senior adults at First Baptist, East Three-Notch Street, told me that some 22 of his age (not “aged”) group met at David’s Catfish Restaurant June 7 for an early supper of seafood, fun, and fellowship.

Those attending were Margaret Smyly, Bill Law, Gillis “the Comb Man” and Laura Ann Jones, Herb “the Barbecue King” and Sue Carlisle, Sybil Smith, Martha Griffin, Graham and Peggy Tucker, Margaret Eiland, Walter Hogg, Dennis and Charlotte Johnson, Anna Johnson (Dennis’s mother), Frank and Tina Moore, Lucy Martin, Vivian Hickey, Betty Bass, Bea Miller and, of course, Gordon himself. Gordon’s wife, Trudie Vickers, who’s usually in the midst of all the fun, was “under the weather.” We pray for her recovery.

At First Baptist last Sunday Russ Vaughn, speaking for the work of the Gideons (a group, best known for placing Bibles in motel rooms), spoke in the morning worship service. The regular minister, Dr. Fred Karthaus, was absent on vacation, which he followed with a trip to the annual convention of the Southern Baptist Convention.

The Adult Choir, directed by Dwight Crigger, minister of music, sang “Though Your Sins Be as Scarlet,” with newcomer, Charlotte Rogers, singing the solo sections.

That Sunday night Judson Blackstock, associate pastor of First Baptist, delivered the message. Peggy Tucker with her sweet voice sang, “I Miss My Time with You.”

Sunday was also the day that Alabama’s most famous storyteller, Kathryn Tucker Windham, died at 93 in Selma.

Mrs. Windham, perhaps most famous for her book about Alabama ghosts, made more than one trip to Andalusia.

One such trip was to perform in period dress a one-woman, biographical play about Julia Tutwiler, Alabama’s famous reformer, at our community (then, junior) college.

Boy, has it been hot!

The Montgomery Advertiser reported that baptisms have fallen to their lowest number in 60 years among Southern Baptists.

Some Baptists blame this on not keeping up with the times. Others say that’s the problem – trying to keep up with the times.

Some Baptists think that more modern ways would draw in the youth. Others think that Christianity is not a matter of doing what’s popular.

Something’s wrong.

Not long ago, after John D. Stokes, a beloved, local farmer, died, I quoted from a little biography about him, written by his daughter, Gail Segrest. I want to quote again. What follows is from the section of the book called “Early Life.”

“My first vivid memory as a child was from about 3 years old – walking into the house and seeing a coiled snake on the center table.

“I was the fourth of six children, the son of a Conecuh County farmer. When I was two, we moved back to the ‘home’ community in Covington County and built a new house in front of Adellum Baptist Church.

“The neighbors helped build the house, as was typical in most country communities of that day. People were good to each other. When a farmer got sick, the neighbors would plow and harvest his crops for him, and help provide for the family. They visited one another and ate together and talked and played music regularly for entertainment.

“Young children were considered old enough to help with chores and farm work. Families depended on them because there was no money for hired help.

“I helped mama in the house with washing dishes, churning butter, and rocking L.C. and Bernice (siblings) in the cradle. Washday was once a week. Dirty clothes were heated in an iron wash pot with homemade lye soap. They were scrubbed on a metal scrub board and rinsed in metal tubs. A black neighbor lady would help sometimes with the laundry and also help take care of the babies.

“We didn’t feel mistreated. Work was a big part of life for people of all ages; but we had time to play, too! Our toys were mostly homemade. We played marbles, hide-and-seek, cat-ball, pushed old wagon rims, and made tom-walkers and a ‘horse and buggy’ with two bottles (for horses) attached to a board with string. We built ‘roads’ under the house because it was high off the ground and a good place to play.

“One very special Christmas I got two toy pistols. Our stockings were filled with apples, oranges, raisins, and Brazil nuts.

“The best toy I ever had was one that my brother, Hamp, got in a trade. It was a toy wagon built by Mr. Oscar Lee Garrett out of wooden apple crates. He put wheels on it and wired them to a stick so it could be steered.

“As a young child I had a happy life. I didn’t realize how hard times were. Mama and Dad didn’t complain; and since everybody lived the same way we did, I didn’t realize we were ‘poor.’ If there had been a ‘poverty level’ then, we would have qualified; but so would everybody else we knew!

“Happy childhood memories include getting a new baby brother (L.C.) in l920 and a baby sister (Bernice) when I was eight. The day she was born I was taken to Mr. Marion Rabren’s house for the day. When Dad came to get me, he told me I had a little sister, waiting at home. When I went in, I saw the pretty, little baby and asked Grandma Fuqua, ‘Where did Mama get that baby?’ She quickly said, ‘The doctor fetched her!’”

Thank you, Gail. It’s a wonderful thing you have done for your dad and your family’s genealogy. I wish every family were blessed to have a storyteller in it.

As time allows, I want to share more from Gail’s book.

Birthdays this week included those of Charles Kingsley, English clergyman and novelist; William Butler Yeats, Irish poet and dramatist; and Charles Gounod, French composer.

Kingsley penned the children’s book, Water-Babies, which includes a fine poem, which has gone by various titles, such as “Young and Old.” The poem is about life as seen by a young person and life as seen by an old person. It is a basic in English literature, one your children and grandchildren should know.

Gounod’s masterpiece is Faust, an opera. The end of the opera features a soprano, tenor, and bass, all singing at the same time. That scene is one of the grand experiences of life, as angels fight over the fate of a soul and Heaven appears in its cloudy splendor!

June 15 is the date that “Magna Carta” was signed in l2l5 at a place near Windsor, England, called Runnymede. The “Carta” was the forerunner of our American documents of freedom. Several copies of the “Carta” still exist. When in England, our travel group saw one such copy. The agreement guaranteed certain freedoms from King John of England to his barons.

After President John F. Kennedy died, an acre of land at Runnymede was dedicated to the President’s memory.

To celebrate the 400th anniversary of the publication of the King James Bible, I quote Dr. Schurman, once president of Cornell University, “The Bible is the most valuable document in English literature. No man can be called an uneducated man who knows his Bible and no man can be called an educated man who does not know his Bible.”

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 150 years ago.

Gov. Claiborne Jackson of Missouri, who was pro-South, feared a federal takeover of his state. Indeed, federal troops established themselves in Missouri at this time, securing Missouri for the North. Thus it was in more than one state with combined loyalies – the use of force won the day; and the federal government has been using its force ever since with growing power. (To me, gentle reader, the War was about power. Who would run the show? The War fascinates me because of all the questions it raises. It is a study in human nature. Is it ever a victory when one wins by using force? Is force the way of Christ ?)

To continue, Professor Thaddeus S. C. Lowe demonstrated 150 years ago one of his hot-air balloons as an aid in warfare, flying up into the air to “spy” over the grounds within sight. President Lincoln liked the balloons, which were used at times in the War.

Remember to buy Sesquicentennial stamps.

Congratulations to Angie Theus for identifying the mysterian, “Jimbo” Caton.

This week’s cluegraph follows: partly black, partly brown, three legs.

After my last week’s column had gone to press and it was too late to mention the following, I was pleased to hear Bill O’Reilly on television mention Longfellow and his poem about Paul Revere in connection with Sarah Palin. He was the only newsman to do so, as far as I know. He keeps reminding his viewers that he was once a teacher. His format reminds me at times of a classroom. He gives quizzes on subjects he likes. He leaves his audience with a vocabulary word. He “preaches.”

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!