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

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 12, 2011

Peeping through my Venetian blind, I “took in” the beautiful, fall weather and thought of Thanksgiving, approaching through a haze of days.

First Baptist on East Three-Notch enjoyed its annual homecoming last Sunday.

Among the out-of-town guests were John and Evelyn (Wilder) Anderson, Shelby and Rachel Searcy from Greenville, Abbie (Taylor) Miller from Birmingham and Dottie (Pippin), here to see her dad, Darwin.

Returning to preach the homecoming sermon was the much beloved Bob Marsh, pastor from 1963 to 1967. He and his lovely wife, Myra, were houseguests of Mrs. James Marion Taylor.

Also returning, to lead the music that morning, was Ray Burdeshaw, minister of music at First Baptist 1971-1974, accompanied by his beautiful wife, Jane.

The Burdeshaws joined with the current minister of music, Dwight Crigger, and his wife, Sonia, in a mixed quartet to sing two numbers that morning, “Now Sing We Joyfully unto God” and “Jesus Paid It All,” accompanied both times by Jeanice (Paul) Kirkland at the piano.

Mrs. Kirkland later partnered in a splendid, instrumental duet, “To God Be the Glory,” with the church organist, Martha Givhan.

An interesting side note is that the Criggers were first introduced on a blind date, arranged by the Burdeshaws. Ray and Jane had known Sonia since she was born, having been next-door neighbors to Sonia’s parents in Panama City, Fla.

The Marshes, who reside in the Atlanta area, have been involved in international mission work, mainly in Europe, during the past 16 years. So far Dr. Marsh has been in God’s work for some 56 years. Their only child, Charles, a graduate of Harvard, is now a professor at the University of Virginia and a big fan of the University of Alabama.

In Dr. Marsh’s sermon, he asked for a show of hands by those who worshipped at First Baptist when he was pastor there. He then said, “Pastor (referring to current pastor, Fred Karthaus), “you are among some of the dearest people in the world.”

Dr. Marsh’s sermon was thought-provoking and peppered with humor. For example, he told of mistranslating in German the expression, “dinner on the grounds,” by saying instead, “We’re going to eat dirt.”

Dr. Marsh spoke of chains, symbolizing adversity, that bind all of us in life, tempting us to lose our joy in God. He explained that joy is not the same as happiness. Happiness depends on happenstances. Joy does not. Joy depends on the presence of God, the promise of God, and the power of God. With joy in God comes peace. With God one wins, no matter what. He encouraged the congregation not to let sin reign in their bodies. He said do not let sin make slaves of you.

“Dinner on the ground” followed in Fellowship Hall.

Seen at the Huddle House were Gene and Betty Windham and Johnny and Nelda Godwin.

Seen at the Opp I.G.A. was Peggy Parkinson.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans met Nov. 3 in the Dixon Memorial of the public library on “a dark and stormy night.”

Jimmy Cobb worded the invocation.

Curtis Hampton Thomasson, past commander, worded the benediction.

Sir Francis McGowin, commander of the local unit, the Covington Rifles, presided, provided refreshments and presented the program.

Derick Davis led in the pledges to flags.

Larry Shaw led in “Dixie.”

Two guests from the Evergreen SCV were Frank Murphy and John Raines.

A new member, Tony Summerlin, drove all the way from Ponce de Leon, Fla.

Others attending were Morris Mullen, Perry Dillard and Joe Wingard.

The next meeting was set for the first Thursday in December with a Christmas buffet and program.

I want to share my notes from the funeral of my friend, Judy Armstrong, a fellow teacher, who died Oct. 2l, 2011, lest some details be lost.

The service was in First Baptist on East Three-Notch, Oct. 24, with near capacity attendance.

A concert preceded the service. The Irene Hines Handbell Choir, directed by Dwight Crigger, minister of music, began by ringing “We Gather Together.” Judy had been a member of the handbell choir.

The choir was followed by Jeanice Kirkland, pianist, who played “I Must Tell Jesus” and “What a Friend.”

Then the church organist, Martha Givhan, contributed “Softly and Tenderly.”

The three participants thereafter took turns, playing, one after the other.

The bells rang “In the Garden.” Mrs. Kirkland followed with “He Hideth My Soul.” The bells rang “Sunlight.” Mrs. Givhan played “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.” Mrs. Kirkland contributed “Trust and Obey.” Mrs. Givhan played “Because He Lives.”

Pianist and organist joined on “Beulah Land” as the family entered.

Following prayer by Dr. Fred Karthaus, Judy’s pastor, a video of family pictures, featuring Judy, was shown.

Then her little grandson, Evan Armstrong, flawlessly played two pieces on the piano, “I’ll Fly Away” and “Oh, How I Love Jesus.”

Dwight Crigger led the congregation next in three verses of “Amazing Grace.” All stood.

The eulogy was then delivered by Dr. Karthaus, who included scripture and prayer.

He spoke of her husband of 43 years, Paul; of her childhood in Clio; her sister, Rita; her sons, Wade and Joe; of her grandchildren, outings on Lake Gantt, her love of travel, her work with the children’s choir, of her playing the organ, of her singing in the Adult Choir, of her teaching school.

He spoke of how Judy loved the church and her family, of how she had the “gift of hospitality.”

Dr. Karthaus read from a letter to Judy by one of her students. In it the student said, “You’re just like a grandmother to me.”

At one point, Dr. Karthaus asked all to stand who had been influenced by Judy just in the field of education. Almost every soul stood.

Dr. Karthaus spoke of Judy as “a woman of outer and inner beauty” and of “the selfless manner in which she lived.”

An interesting tidbit mentioned was that both of her sons had worn #22 in playing high-school football.

Dr. Karthaus said that the love of her Lord was the source of all her other loves.

He then shared a poem, “I Must Leave You.”

In conclusion, Dr. Karthaus told of how Judy and her family always held hands when grace was said before a meal and then all squeezed hands three times for “I love you.”

In memory of that Dr. Karthaus asked all to stand and join hands and squeeze hands three times. So all did.

The message was followed by a solo, “At the Midnight Cry,” sung to taped music by Ted Watson, superintendent of the Andalusia City Schools and once Judy’s principal and fellow teacher.

Dr. Karthaus prayed again; and the bell choir rang “Unclouded Day” as the family exited.

Behind the floral tributes, across the back of the choir loft, where Judy had so often sung, was a bank of American flags, matching the red-white-and-blue “blanket” on Judy’s coffin, all reminders of her appreciation of veterans and her patriotic heart.

Burial was at Andalusia Memorial Cemetery where Dr. Karthaus read scripture and prayed.

I’ve asked Mr. Wingard to share his notes on homecoming at Samford Univeristy, his college alma mater, Oct. 28 – 29.

“When I arrived in Homewood, which is actually the address of Samford rather than Birmingham, I visited the retirement home atop Shades Mountain, Mount Royal Towers. I first visited one of our former Andalusia residents, Guy Wiggins. I found Guy, who is now 95, bedridden for the time, and wished him well.

“My second visit was to my ol’ English professor from Samford days, Dr. Ray Atchison, who turned 90 Oct. 8. He was his merry, old self with still a boy-like innocence and quality, every thing neat and in order. He told me he doesn’t get out much anymore but enjoys his apartment, which overlooks Shades Valley below with the statue of Vulcan atop Red Mountain in the distance.

“Since I had last seen Dr. Atchison two years ago, he had lost his wife Doris and given up his house to live in Mount Royal Towers. I was surprised to learn that Doris’s mother is still alive, past 100.

“Dr. Atchison had me read aloud Robert Frost’s ‘The Road Not Taken.’ My voice faltered as I neared the end, my old teacher by my side.

“He also had me sign his guest book with my name, the date and the occasion.

“Driving over to Samford, I burst into the alma mater (the original one) as I do each time I drive onto my old campus.

“Going to the student center, I caught up with an ol’ friend, Mark Chandler, from North Carolina. He and I became friends by being in the same group several times to travel to London on tour. Samford has a nice dormitory there for its students and alumni.

“Mark, now 85, had called some time back to ask if I would be around at homecoming. If so, he had promised to drop by Samford for homecoming on his way to visit a friend in Texas.

“Mark and I had a good time talking and were soon joined by another ‘old fellow,’ Robert Youngblood of Florence, South Carolina, Class of 1951, present for his 60th anniversary reunion. He kept us entertained with stories of his time at old Howard (Samford changed its name around l966).

“I especially enjoyed his accounts of Percy Pratt Burns, a legend at Howard, once an English professor and dean of the college, known for his knowledge of Shakespeare and his requirements for memory work. (That’s where I got my idea about memorizing.)

“Mark and I then walked over to Reid Chapel for vespers. The A Cappella Choir and the University Choir presented lovely music, especially their concluding anthem, ‘My Shepherd Will supply My Need.’

“The hymn, ‘Day Is Done,’ was beautifully sung by the congregation.’

“At vespers I was pleased to speak with Andy Westmoreland, president of Samford, again.

“An awards banquet, to recognize outstanding alumni, followed. This I attended, but Mark said he needed to go to his room and rest.

“At the banquet I ran into Dr. Sigurd Bryan, formerly of the religion department; Mary Weatherley, who works with public relations and is a friend to our editor, Michele Gerlach; and Lindy Martin, who was advisor to my service fraternity, Alpha Phi Omega, when I was a freshmen. Lindy was the first professor I knew at Samford; and something he said at freshman orientation has stuck with me through the years, ‘The spirit of Howard is the Spirit of Christ.’

“At the banquet I sat at table with Ben and Ann Gaylia Breedlove, Don and Helen Brown, and Daniel and Barbara Chrouser. Ben kept us amused with his anecdotes. He has had many unusual adventures in his life and was one of the most open and interesting persons I have yet met. His wife, Ann Gaylia, is a novelist who writes under the name of O’Barr. So far, she has penned four novels of ‘romance, mystery and international intrigue.’

“The next morning Mark called me at the Marriott Courtyard to say he was on his way to Texas.

“I drove back to campus and ran into Stan Davis, who works with estate planning for Samford. Stan grew up in Andalusia. We had a long and interesting talk.

“I then went to the library to hear Dr. Wayne Flynt. He was on campus for the 50th anniversary of his Class of 1961.

“I ran into Dr. Bryan again and his wife, Sara (Pate) of Evergreen, as well as Bill Nunnelley, the star publications man at Samford.

“Dr. Flynt, a man of many honors and distinctions, was introduced by Elizabeth Wells, special-collections librarian at Samford, and a friend of John Foster, former pastor at First Baptist, Andalusia.

“Dr. Flynt, an Alabama historian and retired college professor, taught 12 years (beginning in 1965) at Samford and then 28 years at Auburn. He is now retired in Auburn. His wife told me that when Wayne built an addition for his library in Auburn, she knew they were there for the duration.

“Dr. Flynt spoke on his generation and read from his new memoir, Keeping the Faith. He later autographed and sold copies in the library.

“A parade came next with the Kazoo Band, my favorite among the entries. When I heard the school fight song, I recalled that the writer of Samford’s fight song had been present last night at the banquet.

“After lunch I joined a crowd of folks, waiting to greet presidential candidate, Herman Cain. He had been invited by the young Republicans on campus to shake hands and toss the coin at the Samford football game that afternoon. He was about 30 minutes late; and it was just my luck, thanks to those who broke line, that when my turn in line came, I was the cut-off point and didn’t get to meet him. Such is life.

“I decided that Samford is not a place for fat men, what with going uphill and downhill all day long. I huffed and I puffed like the wolf at the door.

“Among those I met on the ‘Quad,’ where greeting tents had been erected by various organizations, were Jeff Hansen, a reporter for The Birmingham News; Claude Rhea III, son of the famous singer; Dale Skelton, the new APO adviser; and his wife, Julia (Wright) Skelton, who told me that her son Barry had once dated Whitney Hudson, the granddaughter of Leamon and Fosteen Hudson.

“I kept running into the Flynts. I asked Wayne if he remembered a teacher at Samford, Dr. Joseph L. King. Wayne told me that he, too, loved and admired old Dr. King, who came at 70 to teach English at Samford and stayed till his death at 87. Wayne added that he loved Samford deeply and would have stayed there happily the rest of his life if he could only have made a living there.

“I couldn’t help admiring Mrs. Flynt, who is a beautiful lady, especially her eyes. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen such beautiful eyes.

“I asked Wayne about the recent changes in the Baptist Church – he has written a history of Baptists in Alabama —and he responded, to be brief, that it was the Pentecostal influence.

“That afternoon, before returning to my motel, I bought a chicken-salad plate at Savage’s Bakery in Homewood as well as some pastries, the chief of which was petit fours decorated with pumpkins for Halloween.

“Before I left Samford the next day, I circled Sherman Circle, named for Howard’s first president. A tree, Sherman Oak, is planted near it, grown from an acorn from the original Sherman Oak, which stood on the old campus across town at East Lake. Boys used to propose to their sweethearts under it. I think my childhood pastor, Louis Armstrong, proposed to his Ann Weaver there.”

To celebrate the 400th anniversary of the publication of the King James Bible, why not read or memorize from this most popular edition before 2011 ends.

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.

Jefferson Davis, till now the provisional president of the Confederacy, was officially elected president of the Confederacy for six years. Alexander Stephens was officially elected vice-president. Federal vessels carried troops that secured Port Royal, SC, rooting out Confederates from three forts in the area. Captain Charles Wilkes, aboard the USS San Jacinto, forced a British vessel, the Trent, to stop and removed from it two Confederate commissioners, James Mason to Britain, and John Slidell to France. This prompted Britian to favor the South.

Remember to buy Sesquicentennial and Mark Twain stamps.

Congratulations to Robert Lee Holley for identifying Sue (Bass) Wilson as the mysterian. Miss Sue; she runs this town; she do!

This week’s mysterian can be identified with one clue – one vote.

Birthdays this past week included those of John Philip Sousa, “the March King,” most famous of American bandmasters, composer of “Stars and Stripes Forever”; James Arthur Wilson, local legend who taught at Andalusia High School 36 years, 18 as principal; Martin Luther, German leader in the Protestant Reformation, for whom the Lutheran congregation is named; Oliver Goldsmith, Irish poet; J.C.F. von Schiller, German poet and dramatist, best known for his play, William Tell; and Thomas Bailey Aldrich, American author.

By the way, Goldsmith’s poem, “The Deserted Village,” begins with the line, “Sweet Auburn, loveliest village of the plain,” from which we get the name of an Alabama town and university, as well as an alliterative soubriquet for the town, “loveliest village of the plain,” and the college newspaper, the Plainsman. I keep hoping that someone will erect a copy of the statue of Goldsmith found at the university in Dublin, Ireland, with his famous line on the pedestal beneath. I hope someone with Auburn connections will have flowers placed annually at the grave of Goldsmith in London, as a memorial to the man who provided Auburn a name.

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