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

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 25, 2011

Peeping through my Venetian blind, I thought of “Knee-deep in June,” a summer poem by James Whitcomb Riley, referring to the middle of June. Each year, I like to read Riley’s poem about this month as well as the June section from “The Vision of Sir Launfal” by James Russell Lowell, especially the line, “And what is so rare as a day in June?”

Summer came in last Tuesday, June 21, officially. Wednesday, June 22, was the first full day of summer. It felt like summer a long time before then, though. Boy, it’s hot! What will July, August and September bring? Remember, those of you who complained, the cold weather? Well, I bet you long for it now.

Thank You, God, for the rain that we have had.

Riding around with Miss Flora Covington the other day, we commented on the beauty of the crepe myrtles, daylilies, petunias, mimosa, geraniums, verbena, lantanas, marigolds, yucca, Queen Anne’s lace and phlox.

Amid the lush, green leaves of summer we spotted green figs, green apples, green pears, and green grapes, green-on-green.

The Portly Gentleman motored up to Montgomery for Father’s Day and invited his dad (the Aged One) and brothers to enjoy the seafood buffet in the Fantail, just off Highway 65 at Prattville/Millbrook. The fried oysters were big and plump and reminded him of what someone once said about oysters, “It was a brave man ‘whut’ first ‘et’ an oyster!”

The Portly One bragged on the recently completed intersection of I-65 and I-85 at Montgomery and how smoothly the traffic now flows there on good roads, free of holes and rough spots.

Miss Cora Covington invited me over for some blackberry cobbler this week. She had boiled her berries in sugar water before adding them to the cobbler, leaving in her pan what she called “nectar.” She poured a little of the nectar into a glass and filled up the reminder of the glass with Sprite, making a refreshing punch. (I had two glasses of it!)

I saw thr­­ough my Venetian blind “Clydie” Clump, taking a watermelon into Covington Hall. (I hope I get invited for that, too.)

Have you had some boiled peanuts?

It’s nice this time of year to enjoy fresh vegetables out of the garden. I was in Wingard’s Farm Market the other day and selected from okra, corn, potatoes, eggplant, boiled peanuts, blackberries, blueberries, cucumbers, onions and squash. Also selecting produce was that delightful Methodist, Maggie Shelley. I lingered a bit to talk to her and to Sharon Wingard and her son, Collin.

Mattie O. Thweatt told me long ago always to add a tad of sugar to any vegetable I cooked. I’ve followed her advice since.

Have you tried eggplant fritters? Peel an eggplant or two. Cut into cubes and boil in salted water with a tad of sugar till soft. Drain. Mash. Add one egg and dust in enough self-rising flour to make a stiff batter. Cut in onions if you wish. Heat some oil in an iron skillet. Dip a heaping tablespoon of batter into the hot oil and let it settle into a patty. It doesn’t take long to brown the lower side. Turn it over to brown the other side. Have a platter with a paper towel ready to soak up the oil. Eat hot. Yum!

Seen at David’s Catfish House were Mary Wilson, the retired teacher, and her daughter, Caryl Lee, who’s on the library staff, Caryl Lee’s son Ben, and Mary’s son, Craig Wilson, visiting from Memphis, Tenn. Craig told of the wild animals that the recent flood waters forced onto his property by the Mississippi River.

The Portly Gentleman told me that, on his way home from Montgomery, he stopped in Greenville for lunch at the Cracker Barrel, sitting in the Hopalong-Cassidy corner. Also dining there was Mickey Goodson, up from “the Dimple of Dixie” to check on some business.

After some corn-on-the-cob, barbecue chicken, and potato salad, the Portly One waddled out onto the porch and rocked a spell, fanned by summer breezes.

Seen at Tabby D.’s for the lunch buffet Wednesday were Leon Hattaway, John and Amy Jones, Judge Trippy McGuire, Stacy Brooks and Trey Burgess. Trippy and John were entertaining their group with stories learned from Ab Powell, old football stories that led Trippy and John to label Ab as a good “color man” for commentary at football games. They described Ab as one of the best storytellers around.

Margie (Jacques) Thomasson, recently retired teacher from Pleasant Home School, has returned this week from her old alma mater, Harding University in Arkansas, where she served as one of three chaperones for 20 students from our area, attending an annual Leadership Seminar. Six of the students from this area were sponsored by Andalusia Civitan Club of the Alabama – West Florida District of Civitan International. Mrs. Thomasson has been chaperoning similar groups for 25 years, especially enjoying returning to the campus of her beloved Harding, rich with memories dear to her.

Curtis and Margie Thomasson had as their houseguests, Charles and Helen Hodge from the Dallas, Texas, area, last week. Brother Hodge, a noted preacher and author in the Church of Christ, was here to speak at Cedar Grove Church of Christ and then as the keynote speaker for four days at the annual conference for church elders and their wives, Elders Connect, at Faulkner University in Montgomery.

Brother Hodge has been speaking at Cedar Grove annually since l962.

The conference for elders and their wives has been sponsored at Faulkner for 15 years now. Elders and their wives stay on campus in apartments for four days of meetings that include meals.

Attending the entire conference this year were Curtis and Margie (Jacques) Thomasson. Driving up for the day were Esker Thomasson and the new preacher at Cedar Grove, Eddie Boggess.

The theme was “strengthening families.”

To celebrate the 400th anniversary of the publication of the King James Bible, I quote President Andrew Jackson, “That Book is the rock on which this republic rests.”

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.

Sue (Bass) Wilson, president of the CHS, tells me that she has begun a campaign called “Friends of the Museum” for all who want to help. If you wish to be a “Friend of the Museum,” send your contribution to CHS, P.O. Box 1582, Andalusia. You will be added to the mailing list to receive a newsletter.

The family of the late Faye (Grider) Marty has sent a generous contribution to the Society in memory of their mother.

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

Virginia Unionists elected Francis H. Pierpont as governor of the proposed state of West Virginia. Federals attacked Mathias Point, Va. (It looks to me that here we have secession within a state. Did not Winston County secede from Alabama later? I wish I knew more about West Virginia’s becoming a state – just how and when.)

Remember to buy Sesquicentennial stamps.

No one shared his guess for the mysterian this week, so I repeat the cluegraph: partly black, partly brown, three legs.

Today and tomorrow are the last days this year to visit Jasmine Hills Gardens below Wetumpka and above Montgomery. The gardens are open today till 5 p.m. and tomorrow, Sun., June 26, noon till 5 p.m..

Bellingrath Gardens of Theodore near Mobile is open almost daily.

I continue this week with an excerpt from the biography of the late John D. Stokes, a local, beloved farmer, who passed away recently at 94. The biography was written for his 90th birthday by his daughter, Gail Segrest of Huntsville.

“During my early years, Andalusia had become a bustling town with several businesses and even a newspaper. The L&N Railroad (l899) had brought growth to Andalusia and other nearby towns. There were soon several banks, hotels, a cotton gin, stores and a post office. The wonderful smell of cinnamon rolls and bread from the Brunson Bakery filled the air all around town. You could buy three loaves of bread for a quarter, four cinnamon rolls for a nickel, and a pound cake for 20 cents.

“A beautiful new courthouse was finished in 1918 and is still serving as our Covington County Courthouse today.

“Mr. J. G. Scherf came to Andalusia around 1920 and was a great influence on the city. He started the Andala Company in 1923 and a few years later (in 1929) started the Alatex company where Arrow shirts were made for generations. These companies provided employment for a large number of people in the area.

“Mr. Scherf was elected mayor of Andalusia in 1932 and continued to be re-elected for the next 16 years. He died in 1949, a year after his last term ended.”

Again, thank you, Gail, for this history of your dad. I hope to share more in weeks to come.

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