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

Published 12:03 am Saturday, September 17, 2011

Peeping through my Venetian blind, I thought of summer’s coming to an end soon and what a hot summer it has been. Cooler air seems on its way, though.

Summer ends officially Sept. 22; and autumn begins Sept. 23, so I am told. I was out of town last week. That’s why I didn’t have a column in the paper last Saturday.

Two city committees, the Tourism and Relocation and the Murals, met Tuesday morning, Sept. 13, in City Hall to discuss a proposal by David Fuqua for Andalusia to become part of a state Scenic Byway.

Guest speaker was Mary Lou Crenshaw of Greenville, who is with the Alabama Department of Transportation. She chairs the Bicycle and Pedestrian Division and has worked with scenic byways since 2002.

She stated that there are four national and six state scenic byways in Alabama.

In the discussion that followed her presentation the inclusion of the Three-Notch Trail in the state scenic byways was advocated.

Pat Palmore, chairman of the Murals Committee, reported that the utilities mural is being completed by Wes Hardin of Dothan and that he is preparing to paint the long-awaited mural of the marriage of Hank and Audrey Williams at the corner of Central and East Three-Notch streets.

She added that postcards of the mural may be prepared for sale.

Members of the Tourism Committee present were Jewel Curry (chairman), Ashley Eiland, Jerri Stroud, John Howard, Martha Duggan, Barbara Nichols, Gwen Kelley and Melissa Merrill Gambill.

Members of the Murals Committee present were Pat Palmore (chairman), Willie Thomas, John Taylor, Hazel Griffin, David Fuqua, Mary Lee Howard, Elaine Manning, Nancy Robbins, Robert Anderson and Joe Wingard.

Those attending were offered a breakfast buffet.

Have you seen the brick retaining wall being built in the park between City Hall (the second brick Andalusia High School) and Springdale, once the estate of John Scherf, local businessman? The brick matches City Hall. Someone has excellent taste in all this landscaping.

The Covington Rifles Camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans met the first of September in the Dixon Memorial of our public library (old post office) for their monthly meeting.

Attending were Derick Davis, Sir Francis McGowin, Larry Shaw, Morris Mullen, Jimmy Cobb, John Allen Gantt, Andrew Stephens (a visitor), Vaughn Bowers, Curtis Thomasson, Jimmy Mott and Joe Wingard.

Sir Francis, commander of the local “camp,” presided.

John Allen Gantt worded both invocation and benediction.

Larry Shaw led the pledges to the flags and “Dixie.”

Refreshments were shared.

A business session followed.

The next meeting was set for Oct. 6, Lord willing.

Seen at Tabby D.’s were Frankie and Melissa (Grimes) Henderson and Herb and Sue Carlisle.

Wayne and Lenora Johnson enjoyed a weekend visit with her cousins at Lake Burton, Georgia, mid-August to celebrate the 70th wedding anniversary of her Aunt Lilla and Uncle Wamon.

From there the Johnsons went on to Highlands, N.C., to spend several, relaxing days in a mountain cabin.

They sat on the porch and watched the sunsets and, one night, relished some cool, breezy air and a wonderful rain upon the rooftop.

They rested, read, shopped (well, Lenora did), and ate out at places like the Thyme Bistro.

There was also a trip down the mountain into Georgia to eat at the world-famous Dillard House, known for bowl after bowl of good, country cooking being placed on one’s table.

If my memory serves, the Highlands is where Howard and Betty Ham spent their honeymoon and returned year after year to celebrate their marriage. Both are now gone.

Back in Alabama Lenora took her grandson, Campbell, to Daphne to visit his Aunt Suzanne (Johnson) Simmons. They ate at Logan’s, and young Campbell really enjoyed seeing all the water in that area.

Clay Clyde Clump was asking me the other day what had become of Buford P. Nerdley. I couldn’t answer him. I have heard rumors that he was last seen bicycling over to Red Level. Another story is that he ran off the road into the Patsaliga River and drowned. Say it isn’t so.

In the Sun., Sept. 4, edition of The Montgomery Advertiser is an excellent feature by Allison (Law) Griffin, formerly of Andalusia, now a writer for the Montgomery daily.

Allison and her dad, Bill Law of Andalusia, recently attended a filming in Atlanta of the popular TV show, Antiques Roadshow.

Allison wrote most interestingly of their adventure in Georgia and included three colored photographs, one of her happy dad.

Allison ended her story by stating that memories – such as this time with her dad – “are always priceless.”

To celebrate the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible, I quote Immanuel Kant, German metaphysician, “The existence of the Bible as a book for the people is the greatest benefit which the human race has ever experienced.”

Again I ask that each citizen of “the Dimple of Dixie” 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 1582, Andalusia 36420.

CHS President Sue (Bass) Wilson asked me to include the address of a new CHS website: www.3nmsm.com.

To commemorate the Sesquicentennial of the War Between the States, let us return to the last two weeks 150 years ago.

Both Northern and Southern troops sought footholds in the border state of Kentucky.

General Fremont’s wife visited President Lincoln to defend her husband’s position in Missouri, another border state that could go either way.

Lincoln wrote Fremont, asking the General to alter his August 30 proclamations, favoring the confiscation of property and the emancipation of slaves in Missouri.

General Lee failed to win a victory at Cheat Mountain in West Virginia, giving the North virtual control of West Virginia, which had all along favored staying with the North and had broken away from the rest of Virginia.

Battles continued in Missouri for control of that state.

Ship Island in Mississippi was evacuated by Rebel forces. The North then occupied Ship Island to use it as an operating base for military actions along the Gulf Coast.

Remember to buy Sesquicentennial stamps and the new Mark Twain stamp, too.

Robert Lee Holley identified the last mysterian as Audrey (Thomasson) Wilson. Congratulations!

The new cluegraph is as follows: tall and short, educators, parents of two children, intelligent, attractive, local roots, grandparents.

Notable birthdays the past two weeks included those of Anton Dvorak, the Czech composer of the “New World” Symphony with its plaintive song of death, “Going Home;” our national anthem, “The Star-spangled Banner;” James Fenimore Cooper, American novelist of such classics as The Last of the Mohicans; the sailing of the Mayflower in 1620; and Constitution Day, celebrating our national set of laws.

“Miss Betty” Mitchell, the “Travel Queen,” led a bus tour to Niagara Falls, Canada, for nine days, Sept. 3–11.

It took three days to drive to Canada and three days back with three full days for touring Niagara Falls and other areas on Lake Ontario in the Province of Ontario, Canada.

The weather was cool, grey, overcast, rainy, and often dreary; but the spirits of the “Buskoteers” were bright.

Three bus drivers swapped out to do the driving.

There were stops along the way to rest, to eat, to shop, and to tour, and entertainment aboard the bus in the form of Bingo, door prizes (each morning), games, DVD movies, naps, talks and gazing out of the windows at the scenery.

All during the trip homemade goodies were passed and eaten and eaten and eaten.

Going from Opp were James and Nell (alias “Neil”) Allen, Patricia Armstead and Glora (only five letters, not six) Armstead (whose husbands were first cousins), Jimmy “the Wasp” and Keron Donaldson, Roy and Margaret Donaldson (no kin to the above), and Oren and Vivian Stewart.

Going from Andalusia were Glyndia Baker, Dale “the Blessing” Griffin, Barbara Cantaline and Gladys Norris (cousins), Sharon Dye, Jo Driggers of Lexington, S.C., and Joe Wingard (cousins), Thelma Glisson, Cupie Jacobs, Betty Knowles, Byram and Bobbie Lambert, Ann McGowin, Zolly “Official Counter and Water Man” Mitchell (Betty’s spouse), Estelle Scroggins (whose son runs Tabby D’s), Glinda “57” Simmons, Martha Smith, Barbara Teel, Hattie Lawson, Gladys Trawick, Vernon and Mazel Wiggins and Trudie “the Artist” Steele.

I have asked Mr. Wingard, who kept a travel diary, to give a detailed account of the Niagara trip.

“We left West Highland Assembly of God, which ‘Miss Betty’ attends, on Saturday, about eight of the morning and went north on 55 and 65, stopping in Pelham to eat lunch at the Cracker Barrel, Miss Betty’s favorite stop. Here Glinda Simmons joined us. She had already driven this far in order to leave her dog with her daughter for safekeeping. Here, too, Glinda earned the nickname of ‘57’ because a waitress dropped a bottle of 57 sauce near Glinda, soiling her shoes before she had stepped a foot on the bus.

“On the way up I had pointed out some familiar landmarks to my cousin, Jo Driggers, of Lexington, S.C., who was my seatmate for the journey.

“The landmarks included the Alabama River, Prattville and Millbrook with its Fantail Seafood Restaurant, the Devil billboard with ‘Go to church or the Devil will get you,’ the two water wheels, the large Confederate battle flag, Clanton with its Durbin Farms outlet, and the Confederate Park, none of which Jo had seen.

“For my first meal I ate turnips with cornbread crumbled in the ‘pot likker’ and milk with cornbread also crumbled into it.

“We went up 459 and 59, crossing just the NW tip of Georgia and on into Tennessee.

“The northern part of Alabama with its little mountains was as pretty as any other scenery we saw.

“When we crossed into Georgia, we ‘lost’ an hour by having to turn our time pieces ahead an hour. Our watches remained thus until we returned to Alabama.

“On we went through Chattanooga and Cleveland, Tennessee. In Cleveland we swapped drivers. Keith Hart was replaced by Gerald Kuykendall, who drove for most of our trip. In Chattanooga, Jo and I harmonized on the 1941 ‘hit,’ ‘Chattanooga Choo Choo.’ We often harmonized on songs as we rode along.

“We stopped in Knoxville for supper at Ryan’s, that abundant buffet, and checked into the Jameson Inn for the night. We would stay again at this same motel on our way home.

“One thing a person can count on when he joins one of Miss Betty’s tours is prayer for the journey. We had prayers-a-plenty and blessings before meals, too.

“Our second day out, Sunday, began with a worship service aboard the bus. James Allen gave us a fine devotional. Miss Betty prayed for us all and led us in silent prayer. Bobbie Lambert led us in two hymns, and Trudie Steele read a thought for the day.

“The weather was misty through the mountains. It had grown cooler partly because of the storm, Lee, in the Gulf.

“We ‘ooed’ and ‘ahed’ at the mountains as we crossed into Kentucky.

“We suffered several minor accidents. One ‘Buskoteer’ fell off her bed; another fell in the lobby. Some had stomachaches and other problems. However, prayer kept us from major health problems. ‘Miss Betty’ is a great believer in prayer. She has faith.

“In Kentucky Cousin Jo and I harmonized on the state song, ‘My Old Kentucky Home,’ and ‘Down in the Valley.’

“Ann McGowin was amazed at how few in number had been the brick houses in Tennessee.

“I was amazed at the fields of tobacco, which I had never before seen growing. Dale Griffin pointed out row after row of tobacco leaves to me.

“We stopped in Berea, Kentucky, where there is a college where students work their way through, much like Berry College in Rome, Georgia. In Berea we toured the Kentucky Artisan Center, a modern, stone-and-glass complex with crafts on display, studio artists, and a café.

“Our own artist, Trudie (Cobb) Steele, especially appreciated the variety and beauty of the crafts.

“I was charmed by some simple, rustic, little end tables, made of bent sticks, similar to three at my dad’s childhood home in Deatsville, bought years ago by his mother, Alline (Garner) Wingard, still in use.

“The café was clean and neat with grand views through large windows. The food was among the best on the trip. Jo and I both chose tomato pie and corn pudding. That tomato pie may have been the best dish I ate in nine days. It was thick with melted cheese. Boy, it was good!

“Ann McGowin recommended the Bourbon bread pudding.

“We had wanted to try Kentucky Hot Brown, a hot sandwich served at the café during the week but not on Sunday. Glinda Simmons had told us of this special sandwich, named for the Brown Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky, where it was created in l926. The reader may check its ingredients and history ‘on line.’

“In the men’s washroom I saw something I had never seen before. In the stall was a small, stainless-steel, spring shelf that could be pulled down, once the door was closed, and used to place an item, such as a purchase. The weight of the item kept the shelf down till the item was removed, a convenient and handy invention.

“I also saw two other items I had never seen in a men’s washroom. One was a vase of fresh flowers. The other was a potted plant.

“While at this stop, I asked Vernon and Mazel Wiggins about their daughter, Candi Chu, who works in New York. I had taught Candi in high school. She was a brilliant pianist and excellent student. I learned that the tornadoes that hit New York struck in front of her house and buckled the sidewalk, that the recent earthquake knocked her down, twice, but that Hurricane Irene spared her. I learned, too, that Candi works for a foundation for mentally handicapped, the Daniel Foundation. One day the New York Yankees spent the day with her students and took them to a ballgame that night.

“Bussing on, we skirted Lexington, Kentucky, viewing tobacco fields, miles of lush corn, white fences, horses, farms, and bluegrass (I think).

“On we went to the Ohio River, which flows through Cincinnati, Ohio.

“At our next rest stop I asked Gladys Norris, the widow of John Norris, who worked for the post office in Andalusia, about their son, John, learning that John is married with two daughters, now living in Maryville, Tenn.

“We zoomed through Cincinnati, a city I had never seen. Was I impressed! What a skyline! It was bigger than Red Level! Skyscrapers! Tremendous buildings, all crowded together like Atlanta! The Cincinnati Reds Stadium! Wondrous architecture! I strained my neck and could only take in so much! It was overpowering! Over the Ohio River we sped.

“On our way to Columbus, the capital of Ohio, ‘the Buckeye State,’ we passed miles and miles of flat land and corn fields.

“It was in Columbus that we spent the night in the Hyatt Place after a supper at the Home Town Buffet.

“My room was especially nice with the expected, plus a sitting room, wide-screen TV, refrigerator, desk, swivel chair, vanity room, shelves with bric a brac, and a beverage counter.

“That night when I called home, I found that a cousin of mine, Mary Alice Baker of Montgomery, had died at 96 and that I would miss her funeral. Sadly, such situations are always a possibility one faces when he travels.

“Those are notes from our first two days.”

I shall ask Mr. Wingard to share his notes on the next seven days in future columns, Lord willing.

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