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

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 24, 2011

Peeping through my Venetian blind, I was pleased to see the spider lilies with their red turbans at attention on September lawns, the abelia with their arching blooms, and the morning glories, climbing over trellises and fences. Goldenrod is selecting its royal robes, and bitter weed still yellows the sides of roads.

The senior adults of First Baptist met last Tuesday in their Fellowship Hall to hear Mark Dooley, chief executive officer at our Andalusia Regional Hospital since December of 2007.

Dooley, a member of First Baptist, updated his audience on hospital staff changes, services, and finances.

His biggest news may have been the selling of the rehabilitation beds, ending rehabilitation services in our local hospital.

He also reminded all of the opening of the new cancer center here.

Dooley, a native of Indiana, has worked in hospital administration since 1991.

His father was an administrator for 31 years.

Mark and his wife Shelly have five children.

His activities include coaching youth basketball and soccer, the Rotary Club (board member), the South Alabama Mental Health Foundation (board member), Andalusia Chamber of Commerce (former board member) and the Andalusia High School Booster Club (past president).

Present and recognized for their September birthdays were Kim Dyess, Peggy Eiland and her mother, Margaret Eiland, Mary Hill, Herb Carlisle and Viola Wiliams.

The vivacious Mary “the Belle of Excel” Hill shared a birthday card she had received, reminding her that it wasn’t over till the fat lady sings. She opened the musical card; and a cartoon fat lady began to sing, to everyone’s amusement.

Mary also reported that two friends took her to lunch in Montgomery as part of her birthday. There they were joined by Ann Cushing and Jane Burdeshaw. Ann is the wife of Harrell Cushing, former FBC pastor. Jane is the wife of Ray Burdeshaw, former minister of music at FBC.

The blessing was worded by Robert Lee Holley, a visitor; the benediction, by Dr. Fred Karthaus, pastor.

Green’s catered the noon-day meal of baked chicken, field peas, fried okra, fried bread and banana pudding.

Margaret Smyly served tea.

Centerpieces on the round tables were fall arrangements with scattered leaves lying about, and fall napkins, courtesy of Trudy Vickers and Betty Bass.

Seen at Gary’s Café in River Falls last Saturday were Mike and Marilyn (McInnish) Williams of Montgomery. They were down to check on their farm here and to attend the AHS homecoming this past weekend. Marilyn’s brother, Carl McInnish, was here for his 10-year reunion with the Class of 1962. Her brother, Bill, Class of 1971, was here with his wife, Gail Gibson, celebrating her ten-year reunion with the Class of 1972. Also at homecoming was Marilyn’s daughter, Tracie Murrah, Class of 1992. All the children, of course, visited with their mother, Betty Sue McInnish, beautiful in person and even more so in spirit.

Mike and Marilyn, both in the notable AHS Class of 1965, talked to me of their grandchildren and their trips to Italy and Germany.

Congratulations to the AHS freshmen for defeating the sophomores in float competition, and congratulations to the juniors for defeating the seniors and winning over-all best float in the homecoming parade.

Country Folks Restaurant in Florala has reopened as of Fri., Sept. 9, after being closed due to water damage.

Seen at lunch last Sunday in the hospital cafeteria were A.G. and Pat Palmore, Hazel Griffin, Betty Bass, Wayne and Lenora Johnson, Janette Carroll, Jack and Mariam Perry, Rayford and Carolyn Davis and Randy Franklin and his son Joey, an eighth grader at Andalusia Middle School.

Randy shared his extraordinary week. He had lunch with Governor Bentley, helped Irene Butler present her guest speaker at the AARP meeting, attended his high-school class’s 40th – year reunion, sitting across the table from the lovely Patsy (Newman), caught a 10-pound, one-ounce bass, going into the water to retrieve it, sat with Irene Butler and Harrell Cushing in church Sunday, and had lunch with his ol’ doctor, Wayne Johnson, and ol’ high-school teacher, Joe Wingard.

The AHS Class of 1972 last weekend enjoyed their 40th class reunion with the following activities: breakfast in the school cafeteria, the homecoming assembly, parade, the game Friday night, and a get-together at the Country Club Saturday night.

The club dining room was decorated in red and white, the school colors. A typical table was laid with a white cloth, red, cloth napkins, several candles of various sizes in red and white globes and a dozen or more “rubies,” scattered about the candles. The ruby represents 40 years, so ’72 called their reunion this year the “Ruby Reunion,” thus the artificial “rubies” for decorations.

Before supper a class picture was made on the lawn of the golf course with the class sponsor, Joseph Cecil Wingard, who was called on to word the invocation/blessing. Mr. Wingard was sponsor of the AHS senior classes from 1972 through his retirement in May of 2005.

A delectable buffet was enjoyed – corn casserole, potato casserole, pork loin, chicken tenders, stir-fried vegetables, rolls, a salad bar and dessert bar.

Jerry Short, class president, presided. It has been said of Jerry that he is the best class president in the history of AHS. He has certainly held his class together. The Class of ‘72 has been called the most organized AHS class on record.

The committee responsible for planning the reunion were Roger Powell (whose drawing of the school still is used on commencement programs), Angie (Baker) Sasser (the valedictorian), Charlee (Sullivan) Dunn, Martha (Eiland) Steele, Debbie (Pebworth) Miller, Dianne (Griffin) Curry, and Jerry Short.

President Short had all the ladies present stand for an ovation.

The class sponsor, Mr. Wingard, was also given a standing ovation.

The after-dinner speaker was Roger Powell, whose date for the senior prom had been none other than Angie Baker, the valedictorian.

Powell spoke on the passage of time, universal truths, and changes in Andalusia since 1972. He used comedy and a bit of sadness, reminding all that “everything that’s old is new again.”

He listed persons and places now gone and those still around.

Powell noted the City Hall, once East Three-Notch School; the playground behind it, now a veterans’ memorial park; Church Street, being renovated for the ballet school; Springdale, once Dr. Tomberlin’s home; the missing Annex at AHS, demolished a couple of years ago; and the new buildings on the AHS campus.

Powell also said how bad he had felt when he ran for circuit clerk and defeated his ol’ teacher, Dan Shehan. Now Powell is retiring from that job after this term ends.

Following his speech, Powell presented President Short a gift from his grateful class, which stood in applause.

Angie (Baker) Sasser – the valedictorian – who is teaching science at her alma mater – gave a “pop quiz” on events in 1972.

A memorabilia table was provided, and a booklet with information about each member of the class was distributed.

Near the end of the evening the class stood and sang their “Alma Mater” a cappella, a beautiful blend of perfect harmony, like the class itself.

The final activity was the class yell, delivered with gusto: “We’re so great; we’re so true; we’re the Class of ’72!” Indeed, they are true.

I hear that the girls in the Class of ’72 also enjoyed a Saturday brunch at the home of Martha (Eiland) Steele, who served potato breakfast fajitas, fruit, Gouda grits, tea biscuits, coffee and juice.

Congratulations to Mark and Kay (Weaver) Ingram on the birth of their first grandchild, Holland Grace Harper. She was born in Raleigh, N.C., on Sept. 13, 2011, to Laura Ashley and Lee Harper and weighed 7 lbs., 7 oz. Lee is a student at Southeastern Baptist Seminary at Wake Forest, and Laura Ashley works with Women’s Services. Aunt Lindley and Uncle Marcus, Laura Ashley’s siblings, are happy, too, with their new niece, and Great-Grandparents Roy and Sybil Weaver are ecstatic! The baby is reported to be “beautiful like her mother.” The Harpers plan to enter the mission field after graduation.

It must have felt good to Jerry Short and his wife Terri, here for the AHS Class of 1972 reunion, to look up to the choir loft last Sunday at First Baptist and see his mother, Wilma Moore, singing there.

Judith Anne Dansby, daughter of Neal and Jennifer (Smith) Dansby, is teaching 10th grade English in Camden, Ark., the “home of Tommy Tubberville.”

S. Daniel Shehan, formerly of Andalusia, has been appointed vice-chairman for the next five years (2011 – 2016) of the Savannah-Chatham Council on Disability Issues. Chatham is the county in Georgia where Savannah lies. Shehan has been in Savannah 10 years this month. He is involved in post-polio work, having suffered from polio as a youth in Andalusia.

Emma Locke, Ethel Robertson, Perry Dillard and Joe Wingard attended the monthly meeting of educators and support personnel who belong to the Alabama Education Association in Covington, Conecuh and Escambia counties, known as District 24.

Jacqueline Earthly, president, presided in a classroom at Reid State Technical College in Evergreen.

Also in attendance from the three counties were Vivian Jones (AEA District 24 director), Adrian Hixon, Eugene Smith, Marcia Garrett, Beverly Wade, Margaret Herbert, Marilyn Simmons, Calvin McIntyre, Nathaniel Belcher, Jenelle Riley, Doris McDonald, Anthony Turk and Holley Tullis.

Special guest was Alan Baker of Brewton, a state representative for Escambia and Baldwin counties.

The next meeting was set for Oct. 17 at 6 p.m. at Reid State.

Dillard is president of the AEA group in Andalusia City Schools, the Andalusia Association of Educators, in his second term.

Locke, Robertson and Wingard (district secretary) are retirees.

The first person I saw last weekend at the AHS homecoming was that precious jewel, Jule Browder, being escorted by her daughter, Julanne Veazey, Class of 1968. Mrs. Browder taught social studies at AHS 1961 – 1979. She looked like a regal queen at court as alumni stopped at her chair to pay respects.

I found out that Mrs. Browder was at Montevallo in college with Marion “Bumpy” Bumpers, another retired, beloved teacher, now living in Grove Hill, who spent most of her career in Montgomery.

I noted, too, the nice bulletin boards on classes being honored, located outside the Heritage Room (No. 1 in Old Main). They were prepared by Sue (Bass) Wilson, Class of 1965, one of the most energetic persons who ever lived. She has her fingers in a thousand pies!

A new person I met at the alumni breakfast was Howard Williams, Class of 1962, the son of Vernice Williams, who ran a boarding house on Sixth Street. I think Roger Powell lives there now. Howard said that his dad called dances when Hank Williams and his band played in Andalusia. Howard spoke highly of a former AHS science teacher, Judy Tankersly.

There’s much more, gentle reader, that I want to say about homecoming last week; but for now I shall move on to a different theme.

In a sense, it’s about homecoming, too. One of our former residents, Hazel Marie “Gus” Smith, passed away Sept. 14, at 93, on her birthday. “Gus” had been living in Montgomery for years.

Her casket was open. Her body was clothed in a brightly colored, print garment; with a domino from the game she enjoyed so much clasped in one hand.

A “blanket” of fall colors lay upon her coffin.

Her daughters, Sharis and Carmen, were there, along with Sharis’s husband, Ronnie LeMay, whose mother also died on her birthday, and their son, Matthew LeMay, Gus’s only grandchild.

Gus had outlived her husband, Ray C. Smith, and her parents, Floyd P. Mills and Ruth Pearce Neerings.

The funeral was Sunday afternoon at three in Foreman’s Chapel.

Two of her former pastors at First Baptist, Harrell Cushing and John N. Foster, presided.

John Beasley, just retired from teaching math at AHS, played the piano.

Foster spoke first of Gus’s living a life “energetically and fully.” He spoke of Ray Smith’s being chairman of the pastor-selection committee that called him to First Baptist.

Foster told of how Gus loved to travel.

All stood and sang three verses of “Amazing Grace,” accompanied by Beasley.

Harrell Cushing then read scripture. (His wife Ann accompanied him from their interim pastorate in Evergreen.)

Cushing said he admired Gus’s ability to accept the different stages of life as they came along.

In Montgomery, she was a member of Cloverdale Baptist and a domino club.

The Friday before Gus died, she played dominoes and won every game!

Reared in Nebraska, Gus went on to work in California before moving to Andalusia with Ray.

Cushing said Gus was committed to family, and added, “She lived herself to death.”

He then witnessed of Christ on her behalf and ended with prayer.

As all exited, Beasley played “Because He Lives.”

At the Andalusia Memorial Cemetery, Foster read scripture, and Cushing offered prayer.

It was a warm and hazy afternoon.

To celebrate the 400th anniversary of the publication of the King James Bible, I quote David J. Brewer, formerly of the U.S. Supreme Court, “This American nation, from its first settlement at Jamestown to this hour, is based on and permeated by the principles 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.

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 this week 150 years ago.

In Kentucky the Confederates were able to hold their own; however, a Kentucky newspaper was seized for its alleged hostility to the Union. Also, the editor of a St. Louis newspaper in Missouri was arrested because of his criticism of Gen. John Fremont, who failed to reinforce Union troops in Lexington, Missouri, under attack by Gen. Sterling Price and his Confederate troops. Because of Fremont’s hesitating, the Union troops were defeated.

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

Melba Kelley, bless her heart, has identified last week’s mysterians, Clayton and Barbara (Barton) Bryant.

This week the cluegraph follows: a sweet Methodist, a retired teacher, a precious soul, beloved mother and grandmother.

Notable birthdays this week are those of Samuel Johnson, an English author mainly remembered for his wise conversation and dictionary, the most dominant literary figure of his time, and William Holmes McGuffey, American educator, best known for his series of readers, used by millions of children for decades to learn to read and spell.

Johnson’s house where he and his staff composed his dictionary still stands in London, open to the public.

McGuffey may have influenced the moral character of America positively through his readers more than any other person.

I’ve asked Mr. Wingard to continue his account of Betty Mitchell’s bus tour to Niagara Falls, Canada, begun last week.

“It was Mon., Sept. 5 – Labor Day.

“Vernon Wiggins prayed for our day’s journey. Then we sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to his wife Mazel in honor of her day.

“We had reached Ohio, and the weather felt like winter in Andalusia – grey, cool, dark and almost cold.

“To pass the time we watched a DVD on the bus, The Long Road Home.

“We stopped in Ashtabula County, Ohio, to eat at Denny’s in the Flying J Travel Plaza. Jill, our waitress, one of the nicest I’ve known anywhere, told me we were in Austinburg, Ohio.

“Miss Betty and Miss Trudie (Steele) ordered toasted cheese sandwiches, which were brought with slices of tomatoes in them, something new to both ladies. They were pleased.

“(On Miss Betty’s tours everyone is either Miss Somebody or Mr. Somebody, out of respect.)

“That afternoon we passed into Pennsylvania where a roadside grass caught the interest of many. The only name we could garner from anyone was ‘elephant grass.’ I don’t know if that’s correct or not.

“Along the roadsides we saw goldenrod, in full bloom, which does not reach its peak till October hereabouts; colorful sumac; acres of vineyards; and Lake Erie, which lies south of Lake Ontario, two of the five Great Lakes.

“In only thirty minutes we were in New York State. Almost immediately we came to a tollbooth.

“There were vineyards all over.

“Keeping in touch with Andalusia by cell ‘phone, we learned the sad news that Linda Huggins had died.

“We also heard of the bad weather in Covington County and of tornadoes.

“Our next stop was at the Angola travel plaza, one of 27 rest stops along New York highways. Here we had nice facilities and ate lunch at a McDonald’s. This was a most unusual place with enclosed walkways over eight lanes of traffic, meeting in the middle at McDonald’s and shops. On either side of the eight lanes were brick entrance houses, eight-sided, with cupolas, something like a folly on an English countryside.

“We came next to Buffalo, N.Y., with its beautiful skyline. Statues of buffalo stood at the main intersection. Around Lake Erie we drove to the Canadian border. I looked over to those trying to cross back into the U.S. What a backlog!

“It was much easier, as it turned out, getting into Canada than back into the U.S.

“At the Canadian border an attractive, young lady came aboard our bus to check our passports. Miss Betty had threatened us with abandonment if we forgot them. I, unknowingly, had put my thumb over my picture as I held up my passport. The lady officer smiled and asked me to remove my thumb as I was covering up my “beautiful face.” I turned my face aside and blushed humbly – love at first sight.”

Well, I’ve run out of room and must wait for another Saturday.

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