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

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 15, 2011

Peeping through my Venetian blind, I saw Miss Flora, coming over from Covington Hall with a bouquet of pink daisy mums in her arms. I met her at my door and invited her in for tea.

I was soon telling her about Mrs. Gotrocks, who drove over from Greenville to see our latest mural, that of Hank and Audrey Williams, newly married, at the corner of East Three-Notch and Central streets, where they were married (indoors). It was completed this past week by Wes Hardin of Dothan, who has thus far painted all our murals.

As Mrs. Gotrocks and I rode around, we noticed the abundance of goldenrod, narrow-leafed sunflowers and yellow aster along county roads, as well as abelia and Confederate rose (cotton rose) in yards. The cotton rose is so called because its rose-like blooms turn from white to pink to deep pink (red), reminding one of blooms on a cotton plant.

We lamented the death of Charles Brooks, cartoonist for The Birmingham News for years, reared in Andalusia, and a graduate with the Andalusia High School Class of l939, the last senior class to attend high school in the Church Street School location. A selection of his original cartoons hangs in the A.H.S. Heritage Room.

We also lamented the death October 8 of the pianist, Roger Williams, at 87. I heard him in person when I was an undergraduate at Howard College (now Samford). He was most famous for his version of “Autumn Leaves.” After his concert I shook his hand and got his autograph.

Miss Flora and I took up the local talk where Mrs. Gotrocks and I left off.

Seen at Tabby D.’s for lunch were Trey Burgess, Maggie Shelley, Debbie Maraman, Randy Wahl, Todd Wahl and a trio of Lisa Pickron, Charity Welcher and Carlene Anderson. Charity and Carlene had taken Lisa out for her birthday Oct. 4.

The Covington Rifles Camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans gathered for their monthly meeting Oct. 6 in the Dixon Memorial of the public library.

John Allen Gantt worded the prayers. His wife Rosemary had sent the men pumpkin bread for refreshment.

Derick Davis arranged the meeting room and warmed up the coffee.

Larry Shaw led in “Dixie.”

Curtis Thomasson kept roll.

The program was presented by Vaughn Bowers, who used a book of letters written by both Northern and Southern soldiers in the War Between the States. The book, Fields of Fire and Glory, emphasized various aspects of the War.

S. Daniel Shehan, a retired teacher and businessman, turned 69 Oct. 6 in Savannah, Ga., where he has resided for the past 10 years. There he is active with concerns of the handicapped and plays the organ in three churches.

Lucille (Williams) McGraw, A.H.S. Class of 1931 and the oldest known, living graduate of our high school, was honored with a bouquet of pink roses from the A.H.S. Student Government at homecoming time, mid-September. Mrs. McGraw resides in Andalusia Manor. Her next birthday, Jan. 30, she should turn 98, Lord willing.

Also living in Andalusia Manor is Bebe (Faircloth) Greene, the oldest known, retired teacher from the high school.

In a talk at the Andalusia Lyceum, Colonel Covington welcomed the weakening of President Bush’s educational program, No Child Left Behind, a source of misery to most educators and students. The Colonel said that President Bush – and other presidents – had no business meddling in state education. He also condemned the use of federal money by presidents to “coerce” states into following federal dictates about education in order to get money. He faulted states that “sold out” for federal dollars, asking, “What did they expect? They sold their souls for a mess of pottage.” Alabama, sadly, was no exception. The Colonel praised the few states that refused to take the federal “carrot.”

In a recent karate tournament in Albertville the Butlers “hit the mark!” Dr. Rex Butler came away with first place in weapons kata, third in open-hand kata and third in sparing. His son Allen was named youth grand champion and finished first in weapons kata, open-hand kata and musical kata, as well as second in sparing as a 13-year-old while fighting in the 16-to-17-year-old division. Dr. Butler’s daughter, Rexanne, finished first in open-hand kata, second in weapons kata, and third in sparing.

Ruth (Wingard) Caughman was honored on the occasion of her 93rd birthday with a luncheon Thurs., Sept. 29, at the home of her cousin, Kathryn (Wingard) Liverman of Lexington, S.C. A friend, June Carroll of Seneca, S.C., co-hosted.

Guests included Charlotte (Caughman) Compton, Ruth’s daughter; Virl (Swygert) Caughman, daughter-in-law; Patty (Cox) Wingard, sister-in-law; Ella (Corley) Wingate, Mandy Blackman and Jo Driggers.

A white tablecloth, accented with green cloth napkins, underlay three vases of white flowers mixed with ivy.

The menu included Ruth’s favorites of chicken salad on lettuce, beets and a sweet-potato patty encrusted with ground nuts and cereal.

Also served were a fruit cup and water with lemon.

Dessert was cheesecake with strawberries and whipped topping.

To celebrate the 400th anniversary of the publication of the King James Bible, I want Mr. Wingard to tell us a true story from his college days.

“When I was a student missionary to the Baptist Children’s Home in Troy the summer of my junior year at Howard, one of my duties on Sunday was to walk some of the children to First Baptist where Dr. Browning preached. One Sunday Dr. Browning read from a book that caught my attention. It was interesting, clear, and inspiring. After the service I asked Dr. Browning what was that book. He looked at me in disbelief and answered, ‘Why, son, that was the Bible.’

I was amazed. In my ignorance the only Bible I knew was the King James Version. I didn’t know there was any other translation. Dr. Browning informed me that he had read from the Phillips version of the New Testament. I loved it because it made the scripture so clear. It was like reading the Bible for the first time. I went on to read this version 13 times and to see how useful translations can be. I think one ought to read the King James Version, but also to read other translations for clarity.”

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, Alabama 36420.

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

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

President Lincoln ordered Gen. Winfield Scott to suspend the writ of habeas corpus.

Jeff Thompson, once mayor of St. Louis, Mo., a pro-secessionist, tried to secure Southeast Missouri.

Confederate commissioners, John Slidell (sent to France) and James Mason (sent to Great Britain), sailed for Europe to secure help for and recognition of the Confederacy.

Remember to buy Sesquicentennial and Mark Twain stamps.

Congratulations to Georgette Pass for identifying the mysterian of the week, her beloved friend, Jule (Bradley) Browder.

The new cluegraph follows: short, petite, dark-eyed, chic, business woman, cultural ambassador, fashionable, artsy, theatrical, tactful, attractive.

Today is Poetry Day, so read a poem or recite one to a friend or memorize one or even write one. It is also the birthday of Virgil, the Roman author of The Aeneid, considered the greatest poet in the world until Shakespeare came along. It is likewise the birthday of Helen Hunt Jackson, American novelist and poet. She wrote the novel, Romona, an Indian love story made into a movie with Loretta Young and Don Ameche. I remember several colleagues, singing the theme song, “Romona,” to me in the teachers’ lounge one day at school – Carolyn Rankin, Annalee Simmons, Ellen Barrow and Sarah Baugh. They sang it to me because I had never heard of the song or the movie.

Helen Hunt Jackson also wrote the poem, “October’s Bright Blue Weather,” which I quoted to you, gentle reader, last week.

Other birthdays this past week were those of Edward William Bok, American editor, and Giuseppe Verdi, Italian composer of operas.

The Singing Tower in Florida is named for Bok, who lies buried in the surrounding park. Bok lived by his grandparents’ philosophy – to make the world a bit better and more beautiful because you have been in it. His autobiography of l920, The Americanization of Edward Bok, won a Pulitzer prize. After reading it, I wanted to read everything Bok had ever written.

Now Mr. Wingard will complete his account of Betty Mitchell’s bus tour to Niagara Falls.

“I left us, gentle reader, driving along Niagara River toward the School of Horticulture.

“We passed the Sir Robert Moses Power Station, which malfunctioned in 1965, causing a blackout on the Eastern seaboard.

“We had our own malfunction – Jimmy Donaldson had been stung by some sort of critter and was getting plenty of advice on how to treat the wound.

“Driving on, we came to a large park with an outdoor floral clock, a large, leaning clock (set in a knoll) that actually kept time and played Westminster chimes on the quarter hour, a clock laid out with real flowers. Each year a different clock design is created with flowers. This year was the 75th anniversary of the School of Horticulture of the Niagara Parks and Ontario Parks, and a new park, as well as floral clock, had been created in honor of the 75th anniversary. A goldfish, wishing pool was part of the scenery.

“Back in town we ate a buffet supper in the top dining room of the Skylon, an excessively tall, observation tower in the town of Niagara Falls. Its restaurant slowly rotates for fantastic views of the falls and the surrounding area.

“I sat at table with Jo Driggers, Sharon Dye, Glinda Simmons and Ann McGowin.

“After supper I went upstairs to an observation floor where one could see the world from behind glass windows or from a deck in the open air.

“Pauline, our guide, left us at the Skylon; and we immediately missed her.

“Jo and Ann chose to walk back from the Skylon Tower to our hotel. They walked, I tell you – on purpose!

“I took my last breakfast buffet at the Radisson in the company of Glyndia Baker and Dale Griffin.

“Vernon Wiggins led us in prayer as we left Niagara Falls, heading to a duty-free shop.

“I burst into ‘Oh, Canada!’

“In the duty-free shop was a Tim Hortons, one of a ‘million’ of those fast-food restaurants in Canada. This one sold breakfast sandwiches, specialty coffees, timbits (donut holes), soft drinks, and donuts. I bought one donut for $.95. It didn’t match Krispy Kreme.

“Martha Smith and I had a good talk as we waited on the others to finish shopping. Martha said the coffee at Tim Hortons’ was better than Starbuck’s coffee. As to all the shopping, Martha said, ‘I’m sick of “stuff”; you can’t wear but one pair of shoes at a time. There’s more to life than stuff. You’ve got to worry about the hereafter.’

“I think I saw more strong drink for sale than anything else in the duty-free shop. A root beer is strong enough for me. I wondered what would happen if anyone bought some of the strong drink and had to unload it on Sunday, of all days, when we arrived – Lord willing – back at West Highland Assembly of God Church in Andalusia.

“We came next to Peace Bridge Plaza and waited a long time to cross the border into Buffalo, USA. It was much easier to get into Canada than to return to the States. We were made to leave the bus, show our passports, answer questions, and wait until the bus was searched, too. Though inconvenient, all this made me feel better about our Nation’s security. One of our ‘Buskoteers’ was so nervous during questioning that she forgot where she was born, or so I was told.

“As we drove into Buffalo, the sun came out; our whole time in Canada had been gray.

“Our first stop on the way home was at the Angola Travel Plaza where we’d stopped on the way up.

“Our second stop was at the Erie Maritime Museum by Lake Erie in Erie, Pa. Here we saw a film on the War of 1812, featuring O. H. Perry, and saw excellent displays about the famous sea battle between Americans and British on Lake Erie.

“Perry, in command aboard the Lawrence, defeated the British on Lake Erie, announcing ‘We have met the enemy, and they are ours.’

“Perry had to leave the Lawrence, which was crippled during battle, for another ship, the Niagara. Perry took to his new flagship a flag with the motto, ‘Don’t Give Up the Ship,’ the dying words of Capt. James Lawrence, who had uttered those words and had died in another sea battle of the War of 1812, the man for whom the Lawrence was named.

“By the way, in speaking with Roy and Margaret Donaldson, I found that they organize their travels around waterfalls.

“Rains fell on us as we traveled south, stopping in Ashtabula, Ohio, at the chain restaurant, Bob Evans, a fine place, clean, neat and with good service. Jo and I tried the chicken potpies.

“Back on the bus, Dale Griffin told us of her first time to fly. Said she, ‘It was like dancing with God!’

“We reached the Hilton in Beachwood, Ohio, to spend the night.

“The next morning Sharon Dye led us in prayer. Heavy rains fell. Later we came upon a wreck, and Miss Betty asked us to pray for those involved.

“At this point let me brag on my Cousin Jo, who researches before her trips and fills a book with notes and maps. She has a remarkable memory that draws all that information together, making her an invaluable traveler.

“I was much pleased with the appearance and pace of Columbus, Ohio’s capital, where we stopped to visit the Franklin Park Conservatory off Broad Street, seeing themed gardens, such as butterflies, bonsai, palms, koi and tropical plants, a water garden, desert, tropical rainforest, ‘Himalayan Mountains’ and waterfalls.

“Blown glass was also on display all over the gardens; and we saw glass pumpkins in a variety of colors and sizes, glass strawberries, glass pears, apples and peaches, some in fantasy colors. We witnessed a glassblower and displays of glass ornaments placed among the greenery.

“It was in Columbus at the Conservatory that Sharon Dye in a pre-arranged meeting met her former high-school classmate, Glenda Moss, whom she’d not seen in 45 years.

“That night we ate at the Cracker Barrel in Corbin, Ky., with Miss Betty saying the blessing and thanking God for His ‘traveling mercies.’ We stayed in the Jameson Inn in Knoxville, where we’d stayed the first night. John Norris, who lives nearby, drove over to visit his mother, Gladys Norris.

“Our last day out was a beautiful Sunday, the 10-year anniversary of Sept. 11.

“Glyndia Baker, who had lost and then found her wallet, said, ‘The Lord doesn’t have limits as we do.’

“Vernon Wiggins worded a devotional that brought tears to my eyes.

“Bobbie Lambert played a recording of ‘Let Your Glory Fall,’ sung by a group of five ladies, Sisters by Grace, from Southside Baptist in Andalusia. The music was wonderful. The ladies were Beth Dean, Heather German, Gabrielle Baldwin, Amy Nichols and Bobbie’s daughter, Lori Gowdin.

“Thus we worshiped on the bus.

“We stopped in Cleveland, Tenn., where the bus driver, Gerald, left us and his son, Alex, took over.

“Back in Birmingham we had lunch in the same Cracker Barrel where we’d stopped on the way north. Glinda Simmons left us there, being picked up by her daughter, Kristi Sasser, who had been keeping Glinda’s shitzu, Benson.

“We ran into another bus group at the Cracker Barrel, heading to Branson.

“Our last stop before getting home was at Durbin Farms in Clanton for ice cream.

“Oh, it was good to get back into the South, into Alabama, and into the ‘Dimple of Dixie.’”

Thank you, Mr. Wingard, for your account.

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