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

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 16, 2011

Peeping through my Venetian blind, I saw Miss Cora, coming across the way from Covington Hall, something in hand.

I was waiting for her at my door. She had been canning fig preserves (some with strawberry flavor) all morning and had ended up with several fig cobblers, too. One was for me. I talked her into staying for some bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwiches and lemonade. We caught up on some of the doings in the “Dimple of Dixie.”

The Portly Gentleman tells me that his Aged Parent, 92, baked an apple cobbler from the old trees at Deatsville.

Saint Swithin’s Day was yesterday. Swithin was a bishop of Winchester. I stood at his grave just outside the entrance to Winchester Cathedral when I visited England. They say that if it rains on his day, July l5, then we shall have rain for forty days. If it’s dry, however, we shall have forty days of drought. We shall see.

Senior adults from First Baptist, East Three-Notch, enjoyed eating supper together at Granny’s Restaurant July 7 (formerly known as Perry’s).

Fellowshipping were Bill Law, Herb “the Barbecue King” and Sue Carlisle, Betty Bass, Vivian Hickey, John and Mary “the Belle of Excel” Hill, Margaret Smyly, Gordon and Trudie (much on the mend) Vickers, Kim Dyess, Morgan and Wilma Moore, Lucy Martin, and Joe Wingard.

Seen, too, at Granny’s were Hubert and Rebecca Sullivan, Tubby Hall, Jim and Sara Perry and his brother Jack Perry and Jack’s wife, Marian, as well as Harold and Shirley Parker. The Perrys’ Aunt Agnes ran Perry’s until it closed because of her passing.

The Methodists, Presbyterians, and Episcopals of our town have joined forces to sponsor a Vacation Bible School three Thursday mornings in July, a novel idea.

I hear from Tim Trent, pastor at First United Methodist Church, that Frederick Outlaw, the district superintendent of Methodists in this area, has been assigned to Conference headquarters. The new district superintendent is Dr. Cory Smith. A reception for Dr. Smith and his wife Alecia, is set for Sunday afternoon, July 24, at 2:30 p.m..

Allyn Powell, daughter of Roger and Cathy Powell and a student at Huntingdon College in Montgomery, is spending the summer in Washington, D.C., following a tour of Italy in May.

I hear tell that our beloved Joy Tway is recovering in Destin from knee surgery.

Seen at the lunch buffet at Tabby D.’s were Wayne and Judy Holmes, her mother, Hope Lane, her twin sister from Enterprise, Jean Russell, her and Wayne’s son, Michael Holmes, and Michael’s beautiful, nine-month-old daughter, Lexie.

Also seen at Tabby D.’s were Joe and Anita Bratton, who saddened me with the news that they plan to pull up stakes and eventually move to Tuscaloosa, for no other reason than both their daughters now live there.

Mary Clyde Merrill, beloved piano teacher, is considering making Tuscaloosa her home, too, to be nearer her two daughters. “M.C.” just retired from teaching piano this past spring. She played for over 25 years as the official pianist at First Baptist Church.

You know that the Sikes-for-sore-eyes moved up “thataway,” too.

Is everybody moving to Tuscaloosa?

Seen at the hospital cafeteria last Sunday for lunch were A. G. and Pat Palmore (who celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary June 24), John Smith (his Nancy was absent, nursing Hazel Griffin), John’s son, Parker Smith, Jerad Decker, Charles and Norma Jackson (at the “executive table”), Betty Bass, Mickey and Jennie Pitts, Paul and Judy Armstrong, Danny and Barbara (Watson) Posey, Rayford and Carolyn Davis (the power behind the Domino Tournament), and Karen Gibson.

Jerry Short, president of the Andalusia High School Class of l972, his wife, Teri, and older son, Scott, traveled to Austin, Texas, to visit the younger son, Gavin Short, who works there in a computer program.

Dwight Crigger, minister of music at First Baptist, and his wife, Sonia, were away Sunday and this past week to teach a music program at Shocco Springs, a Baptist camp in Talladega.

Filling in for the Criggers Sunday morning were Charlotte Rogers, a newcomer to the choir, who admirably directed the choir and congregational singing, her first time, I believe, and Jeanice Kirkland, who played the piano and offered a fine offertory with Martha (James) Givhan, organist.

Dr. Fred Karthaus, pastor, baptized two young ladies, Olivia Lane Wise and Katie Black, and preached on “Little Faith.”

Jennifer Dansby, soprano, sang “I Pledge Allegiance to the Lamb,” accompanied by the talented Mrs. Kirkland.

That night Miss Rogers sang a solo in her beautiful soprano voice to taped music.

The congregational music was directed by the amiable Casey Thompson, choir bass. This was his first time to direct, I believe.

To celebrate the 400th anniversary of the publication of the King James Bible, I quote President Theodore Roosevelt, “Almost every man who has by his life work added to the sum of human achievements, of which the race is proud, almost every such man has based his life work largely upon the teachings of the 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, whether you attend meetings or not. Mail to CHS, P.O. Box l582, Andalusia, 36420.

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

Union forces dominated in clashes with Confederate forces in Virginia, especially at Rich Mountain and Laurel Hill.

Remember to buy Sesquicentennial stamps.

The mysterian was the lovely Patty Ashworth, wife of Ruck, the hand-writing genius. Thanks go out to Caroline Picking for identifying Patty.

The new cluegraph is as follows: a shock of white hair, black-rimmed glasses, bow tie, pipe clinched in his teeth, supporter of Birmingham Southern, Methodist, iconic newspaperman, who used his “deafness” to his own advantage, known for his phrase, “under the knife.”

Recent July birthdays include the following: Nathaniel Hawthorne, American novelist, best known for The Scarlet Letter; Stephen Collins Foster, American songwriter of such songs as “Oh, Susanna” (which features our state of Alabama) and “Beautiful Dreamer”; John Paul Jones, the American naval hero; Henry David Thoreau, American author of Walden, which described his two-year stay at Walden Pond in order to discover the meaning of life; John Quincy Adams, sixth president of the United States and son of John Adams, second president; George M. Cohan, American actor, dramatist, and producer and composer of “Over There” and “You’re a Grand, Old Flag”; Calvin Coolidge, 30th president; Phineas Taylor Barnum, American showman; James A.M. Whistler, American painter, famous for the painting of his mother; Gaius Julius Caesar, Roman general, statesman, and writer, whom Shakespeare helped immortalize with a play; Clement Moore, author of “The Night Before Christmas”; and Rembrandt, Dutch painter.

This month sees, also, the anniversaries of William Jennings Bryan’s “Cross of Gold” speech and the opening of the Panama Canal.

Mr. Bryan ran for president and lost four times. He died shortly after winning the verdict in the “Monkey Trial.”

To end the column this Saturday, I want to share “The Great Depression” from the booklet about John D. Stokes, beloved, local farmer, written by his daughter, Gail Segrest of Huntsville. (I seem to recall asking John D. for what his middle initial stood. I think he said it stood for nothing.)

“Times had been hard before the Depression, but life was about to get even harder.

“When the stock market crashed later that year, both banks in Andalusia closed. Workers in one of the banks stole the money and left town. The Depression years were easier for country people because they at least had food to eat! Many who lived in cities and larger towns were hungry.

“Farm families traded eggs for sugar and coffee, carried sugar cane and corn to the mill for syrup and bread. They fished and hunted for meat. Even in winter they had dry peas and corn and always had a milk cow.

“Unfortunately, the Depression began the same year of the big flood. After losing our place, dad agreed to take over debts of the Hogg family for their farm, which consisted of about 350 acres. In the deal he gave them back l7 acres and didn’t put them out of their home. It turned out that there were more debts than he had been told about; and after two years, he had to let the bank take the place. We also lost our two good mules.

“With the help of the Federal Land Bank, Dad was able to buy 45 acres (where Bernice Holley, John’s sister, most recently lived). The bank would lend Dad only $60, which he used that year for food, fertilizer, and seeds for his crops.

“We cut and hauled firewood to people in Andalusia for 75 cents a wagon load. Dad planted a big crop of watermelons, and we sold those for 5, l0, and l5 cents. This was used to pay off a nine-dollar grocery bill.

“Dad would give me a nickel out of the money we made, and I would run to the Jitney Jungle grocery store and buy five big sticks of peanut-butter candy. I would ‘have me a feast.’ This era was called ‘Hoover Times.’

“Fertilizer for crops came in l00-pound bags. Mama would bleach the bags to remove the writing so she could make shirts, underwear, sheets, and towels. We didn’t waste anything. Clothes were very ordinary. You didn’t see men in dress shirts and ties. Flour came in 24-pound, cotton bags and cost 60 cents.

“It wasn’t unusual for strangers to come by and ask for food. Many times they would spend the night. Peddlers would stay with families in the community.

“They didn’t always appreciate being treated with hospitality. One Yankee, soap peddler who came around pretty often, driving a horse and buggy, would stay at our house. He had no teeth so mama would cook a pot of mush for him. One morning he got out of bed, grumbling and complaining about being cold all night; but mama said that she had given him six quilts for cover. One day he fell off a bench at the dining table and got up and declared, ‘We didn’t have such as this where I came from!’”

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