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

Published 1:25 am Saturday, October 1, 2011

Peeping through my Venetian blind, I saw at a distance, along the road that runs between the Covington estate and my humble abode, lining the roadway as if Midas had passed by, hundreds of goldenrod, nodding in the sun, like coins, dropped into a treasure box.

Immediately I recalled that the goldenrod once was Alabama’s state flower. Now that honor goes to the camellia, thanks to Mrs. Gotrocks and her friends in Greenville.

Also in the distance I saw cotton fields, white unto harvest.

Alabama has long been known as “the Cotton State.”

Last Sunday at Granny’s (once known as Perry’s Restaurant) I spotted Dr. J. Wayne Johnson, Foyl Hudgens, recently turned 90, and Jackie Powell, Foyl’s niece.

There was a fine Sunday buffet with plenty of choice dishes. I thought the fried bread was a special treat.

Glenn and Cindy Cook have recently returned from North Carolina where Cindy and her sisters celebrated their mother’s 88th birthday. The birthday girl is Mrs. Williamson.

Roland and Angie (Clark) Brown were seen dining at Tabby D.’s this week.

Also seen at Tabby D.’s were Mr. and Mrs. Marvin Britt, Elzie McClain (who used to care for Mrs. Harry Lynn), Mary Evers, Robert Evers, Laura Wells and little Lacey Wells.

In the Baraca Class assembly at First Baptist last week the gentlemen sang “Happy Birthday” to their teacher, Richard Pass, who had turned 90 on Sept. 23, the first day of fall.

Also in Baraca, Rogerl Reeves sang “Beulah Land,” accompanied by Martha (James) Givhan, church organist, at the Ann Martin Memorial Piano. Mrs. Givhan is following in the footsteps of her organ teacher, Louise (Bozeman) Barrow, who played for the Baraca Class and was church organist for years and years.

One Accord, the ladies’ ensemble at First Baptist, sang “Hallelujah, I Love Him” to taped music last Sunday.

At the funeral of my second cousin, Wayne Tillman Peavey, in Montgomery last week, I ran into one of his old teachers, who had driven from Troy that day out of respect for Wayne, whom he loved. The old teacher was Johnny Long, 85, long-time band director at Troy University, now retired in Troy with his wife. I remembered Dr. Long from his days as band director at Robert E. Lee High School in Montgomery. He told me he had taught 52 years and spoke of band directors he had known at the Andalusia High School, Lacey Powell, Jim Nettles, Dan Hanna and Tommy Grimes.

The funeral speaker was David McVay, pastor at First United Methodist Church in Troy, where the Longs are members.

Last week I reported that Randy Franklin was seated with Irene Butler and Harrell Cushing in Sunday worship at First Baptist. I believe Mr. Cushing was preaching in First Baptist in Evergreen at the time, so I should have listed the respected John N. Foster as the other person on the pew.

The Ann Chapman Sunday School Class at First Baptist enjoyed lunch the other day at Tabby D.’s. Attending were Pat Palmore (teacher), Jean Jones, Wilma Short, Carolyn Feagin, Annette Burt, Helen Hinson, Tina Moore, Betty Cockcroft, Jeanine Gomillion, Kate Bush, Abbie Taylor, Sonja James, Betty Scott, Nancy Smith, Cinnamon (Smith) Kellenberger and Jean (Carter) Fuqua.

Recalling homecoming at the Andalusia High School Sept. 16, I am in wonderment that the staff and students could present such an excellent order of events so early in the season. Usually homecoming comes mid-October. This year it was slated a mere month and a half after school began. I believe that Dawn (Jackson) Thompson, an English teacher, who coordinated the skits to honor alumni on homecoming morning in the A.H.S. auditorium, deserves the lion’s share of credit.

If there is another school that can match or excel the homecoming activities at our high school, I would like to know its name. It’s not unusual to have a homecoming court, pep rally, alumni as guests, a parade, and the big game; but who has such a “Broadway production” as the skits honoring the returning alumni? This year the classes ending with two were highlighted, back to 1952, represented by Max Fletcher, celebrating his 60th anniversary of graduation.

Other “old-timers” were from 1954, Carl and Ann Jeffcoat, Jack Sasser and Walter N. Martin.

Shelby Searcy, former student, teacher, and coach, represented the Class of 1947. His wife Rachel was with him, both from Greenville.

Only one from 1948 signed in at the registration table, Murray Findley; but I noticed his classmates, Hazel Jordan and Suan (Riley) Salter, actively participating.

Bebe (Faircloth) Green, the oldest living A.H.S. ex-teacher, is still with us in the Andalusia Manor, but was unable to attend.

Also in the manor is our oldest (known) living graduate, Lucille (Williams) McGraw, Class of 1931. She was present last year and presented with red roses from the Student Government.

Coach Richard Robertson, who has taught at A.H.S. 42 years, the longest serving of all teachers in its history, was recognized as the first teacher still to be employed during homecoming when four of his ex-classes returned – 2002, 1992, 1982, and 1972.

Also recognized was Gloria Adams for 32 years of service.

The lobby was decorated with mums.

One heart-cheering moment during the assembly involved Paula Sue Duebelt, a former music teacher at A.H.S., who came out of retirement to teach music again on a part-time basis, rather than allow the music program to die when funds were short.

Mrs. Duebelt, as Dolly in the musical Hello, Dolly, descended a flight of steps, singing modified lyrics to former teachers, who made cameo appearances on stage, each being cheered by the audience – Jerri Stroud, Gary Harper, John Beasley (who retired just last May), Jenny Pitts, Katy Sue Wells, and a few still teaching, Richard Robertson, Dawn Thompson and Angie (Baker) Sasser.

The routine garnered a standing ovation.

In the finale of the assembly Hampton Glenn, a freshman, sang “God, Bless the U.S.A.” while students, bearing American flags lent by the Methodist church, paraded down the four aisles of the auditorium.

Those present rose to their feet with a thunderous ovation!

Hampton, by the way, imitating Elvis in the freshman skit, had already charmed the alumni with “I Can’t Help Falling in Love with You.”

Hampton is from a musical family. His grandmother, Sue (Bass) Wilson, is assisting her Class of 1965 classmate, Paula Sue Duebelt, with the choral program Tuesdays through Fridays.

At the homecoming breakfast in the cafeteria Jule (Bradley) Browder, who taught social studies, and I chatted with alumni who came by our table. Our visitors included Richard Jones (’72), Jerry Short (Class of l972 president), Jerry’s wife Terri, Coach Richard Robertson, Coach Shelby Searcy (’47) and his wife Rachel, Eric Horton (’72), Wilson Haynes (’72), Von Butler (’72), Angie (Baker) Sasser (’72 valedictorian, now teaching science at A.H.S., and an excellent pianist and musician), Harmon Edson (’72), Charlee (Sullivan) Dunn (’72), Lesa (Merrell) Wiggins (’72), her husband, Mark Wiggins (’74), Royce Perry (’62), Dianne (Griffin) Curry (’72), Teresa (Rhodes) Blackwell (’72), Bill Benton (’72), Roger Powell (’72), Amy (Parker) Tomlin (’92), her husband Rodney Tomlin, Helen (Merrill) McIntyre (’82), Karen (Fowler) Soles (’82), Buddy Patterson (’72), Ken Curry (’72), Sue (Bass) Wilson (’65), Gail (Gibson) McInnish, (‘72), her husband, Bill McInnish (‘7l), Joan (Hill) Mitchell (’72), Martha (Eiland) Steele (’72), Debbie (Glisson) Hadley (’72), and Brenda (Jeffcoat) Johnson (’72).

There is yet more about the homecoming I would like to share, but not just now.

To celebrate the 400th anniversary of the publication of the King James Bible, I quote Thomas Henry Huxley, English biologist, “The Bible has been the Magna Charta of the poor and oppressed; down to modern times no state has a constitution in which the interests of the people are so largely taken into account, in which the duties so much more than the privileges of the rulers are insisted on; nowhere is the fundamental truth that the welfare of the state in the long run depends on the welfare of the citizens so strongly laid down.”

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 AL 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.

The Confederates seized a Federal supply steamer in North Carolina.

Remember to buy Sesquicentennial and Mark Twain stamps.

No one has yet guessed the mysterian from last week: a sweet Methodist, a retired teacher, a precious soul, beloved mother and grandmother.

This week past saw the birthday of Thomas Nast, a German immigrant to our country, known as a cartoonist. He created the modern image of Santa Claus as a life-sized, rotund, jolly fellow in a red suit and full mustaches and beard. Nast also created the donkey as a symbol of the Democrats and the elephant as the symbol for the Republicans.

Today is the anniversary of the first Model T Ford, which appeared in 1908.

When last we left Betty Mitchell’s “Buskoteers,” they were entering Canada at Buffalo, N.Y. Mr. Wingard was giving us his notes.

“We crossed over into Ontario and soon stopped for supper at Betty’s Restaurant near Niagara, Ontario (no kin to our Miss Betty).

“Cousin Jo and I sat with Roy and Margaret Donaldson from Estothel, between Kinston and Opp.

“My supper was fish (haddock) and chips (fries), with a salad, roll, coffee and cocoanut-cream pie. All the pies were superb!

“A waitress brought out a piece of pie with a lighted candle in it for Mazel Wiggins, whose birthday it was; and we all burst into ‘Happy Birthday!’

“Our tour guide for the next four days, Pauline Whyte, joined us as we drove into Niagara. She was a wonderful person, friendly, helpful, accommodating, eager to please and be of service, filled with answers to our hundreds of questions. We all became fond of her and felt as though we were losing a close friend when we at last had to part ways, which we did with hugs and kisses.

“On our way to Niagara (thundering waters) we drove through Chippawa, a beautiful community of neat houses, waterways, weeping willows, parks, churches, graveyards, Canadian geese and Marineland, a large amusement park on the skirts of Niagara.

“When we caught our first sight of the falls, we issued forth a stream of oohs and ahhs.

“I was surprised at the great cloud of mist that almost hid the falls, especially on a day so grey, damp and cool.

“We soon came to the Radisson, a towering hotel right in the heart of Niagara, which was our home for four nights.

“Some went out into the dark to see fireworks over the falls, which, unluckily, were cancelled.

“I stayed ‘at home’ and took a hot bath.

“On the TV that night, appropriately, was a documentary about the visits that the Royalty of England had made to Canada over the decades.

“I wanted to call home but had been told how expensive that would be, so I pinched my pennies. Others who did call told me that some fierce storms had hit Andalusia.

“I couldn’t believe I was in Canada. I had never desired to visit Canada. I never thought I would. Yet, here I was. Who would have thought it? I had assumed we would stay on the American side.

“Tuesday morning I joined the ‘Buskoteers’ for breakfast in the dining room of the Radisson. Each morning for four days we were offered a very satisfying breakfast buffet.

“This day I took eggs, Canadian bacon, mandarins, orange slices, orange juice, coffee, pancakes with syrup, and ‘bangers,’ which are are a fancy type of sausage, which I came to like when in England. Canada is very English in many ways.

“Cousin Jo and I ate breakfast with Ann McGowin, Sharon Dye and Glinda Simmons.

“When buying some post cards, I inquired about Canadian money and was told that there are six coins – penny, nickel, dime, quarter, dollar and $2 piece. The first four look much like ours. The dollar coin is nicknamed the ‘loonie’ because a loon (a water fowl) is pictured on it. A $2 coin is nicknamed the ‘twonie’ because of its double value. The lowest paper money is worth $5.

“The venerable James Allen led our prayer after we boarded the bus. Pauline narrated as we left the hotel.

“All along when a silence fell, I would burst into the first four notes of the Canadian national anthem, ‘O Canada!’ That was all I knew. Jo had a copy of the lyrics, but we never could find the music.

“It was grey, misty, and cool almost the whole of the trip.

“Sharon Dye referred to our name tags, hung about our necks by lanyards, as ‘Diamond necklaces’ because we were traveling with the aid of Diamond Tours.

“Driving about we saw the Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian side, learned that four great lakes lie above the falls, saw the American side of the falls and its Bridal Veil (a slender, solitary falls), glimpsed Niagara River, witnessed the great veil of white mist that hangs over the Horseshoe Falls, toured the town with its Imax, Skylon Tower, casinos, gardens, shops, restaurants, motels, hotels, and rode out of town on Lundy’s Lane, where a military battle had been fought.

“I was surprised to see so many American flags displayed in Canada.

“Houses that stand alone in Canada are known as ‘detached’ houses.

“Everywhere we went seemed to be a business called Tim Horton’s, which sold donuts, breakfast rolls, and fast food.

“We headed into the countryside to visit the Welland Canal, which connects Lake Ontario with Lake Eire, all part of the St. Lawrence Seaway, which I recall being built when I was a boy. Ontario flows down into Eire. They are two of the five Great Lakes.

“On our way we passed neighborhoods, soybeans, vineyards, goldenrod, and Niagara College, where protesters were marching. Goldenrod, which is just beginning to bloom here in Alabama, was in full sway in Ontario.

“Pauline’s husband happened to be piloting the cruise ship, the C. Columbus, out of Nassau, which we watched in the Welland Canal. It was carrying passengers on a tour of the Five Great Lakes. We stood by Lock No. 5, a pair of twin locks, and waved at Mr. Whyte.

“I could see passengers, dining at large, plate-glass windows on the cruise ship.

“As we left Lock No. 5, Zolly Mitchell, Miss Betty’s husband, made a headcount. He did this faithfully each time we ‘pulled out.’

“We pressed on to a town named St. Catharine’s, where we toured a museum and more of the canal. Jo called my attention to a display of items from the movie, A Christmas Story, which had been filmed partly in St. Catherine’s, especially at its Victoria Public School. There were the rounded glasses worn by ‘Ralphie,’ Peter Billingsley, whose mother didn’t want him to have a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas because he’d shoot his eye out! There, too, was the very Red Ryder BB gun that Santa gave Ralphie for Christmas, plus a script of the movie.

Leave it to Jo to find something special!

“As we drove on, we passed peach, apple, and pear orchards, and wineries. On the horizon of Lake Ontario we could just see Toronto, the capital of Ontario.

“Our destination was Niagara-on-the-Lake, a beautiful town with quaint houses and shops, gardens, charming inns, and delightful landscaping. The main street is named Queen.

“The town is the annual site for the Shaw Festival, during which the plays of George Bernard Shaw, the Irish playwright of Pygmalion (My Fair Lady), are produced, along with others by his contemporaries or about him. One can compare the Shaw Festival to the Alabama Shakespeare Festival in Montgomery.

“We were given time to tour and eat on our own. Jo and I roamed up and down Queen Street, first eating curried, chicken soup in the Shaw Café, before which stood a statue of Shaw himself.

“We explored shops, eateries, flower gardens, the Royal George Theatre, City Hall and the Cenotaph, catching sight of the black squirrels that are common in Ontario.

“Jo and I took a traditional tea in the glassed tearoom of the Prince of Wales Hotel on Queen Street, a restored and grand Victorian structure. Our table was laid with white cloths and napkins with a rosebud amid greenery in a vase. Our plate was Haddon Hall with matching teapot, teacups and saucers. The silverware included a silver creamer and sugar pot with cubes. We selected orange pekoe tea and were served finger sandwiches of egg salad, ham-and-cheese, salmon and cucumber. Scones were served with clotted cream, butter and strawberry jam. An assortment of fairytale pastries followed.

“Leaving Niagara-on-the-Lake, we drove past lakeside homes, inns, parks, and golf courses. An outstanding bed-and-breakfast was the Charles Inn.

“Along Niagara Parkway we passed houses, picnic areas, a 35-mile sidewalk that follows the Niagara River from Lake Ontario to Lake Eire, a tiny Wayside Church (holds only six), Queenston, and the statue of a military hero, Brock, high on a pedestal on the Niagara Escarpment.

“Pauline explained that roses were planted at the ends of rows of grapes to test for any plant problems. It was Greek to me.

“After a stop at a chocolate factory, we returned to Niagara, stopping for supper at Don Cherry’s Sports Grill, a franchise, where we enjoyed a ‘set menu.’ My tablemates were Jo, Roy and Margaret Donaldson and Vernon and Mazel Wiggins. Don Cherry is a Canadian hockey player and coach, a sportscaster, known for his ‘loud’ sports coats.”

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