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

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 19, 2011

Peeping through my Venetian blind, I noticed a line of sasanquas in bloom over at Covington Hall, a kind of hedgerow. I associate the sasanqua with November more than any other plant.

The senior adults of First Baptist attended their monthly luncheon in Fellowship Hall November l5 with Thanksgiving decorations provided by Dwight Crigger, the talented minister of music.

The blessing was prayed by Gordon Vickers, minister to the older generations; the benediction, by Dr. Fred Karthaus, pastor.

A Thanksgiving buffet from Green’s included turkey, dressing and gravy, cranberry sauce, green beans, sweet-potato casserole, rolls and fried bread, Dean’s caramel cake, tea and coffee.

Vickers, born Nov. 3, was celebrating his November marriage of 37 years with his wife, Trudy.

Guest speaker was Michael Jones, our freshman representative for District 92 to the Alabama State House of Representatives, serving his first year in a four-year term.

Jones gave an up-date of the past legislative session and then took questions from the audience.

He spoke of his habit of daily being among the first on the floor, of prayer before each workday, and of reading each bill before a vote. He said that there are many members who do the same.

The senior adults of First Baptist also ate out Nov. 8 at David’s Catfish. Participating were Bill Law, John and Mary (“the Belle of Excel”) Hill, Gillis “the Combman” and Laura Ann Jones, Margaret Smyly, Dennis and Charolette Johnson, Margaret Eiland, Peggy Eiland, Herb and Sue Carlisle, Kim Dyess, Morgan and Wilma Moore, Linda Tisdale, Gordon and Trudy Vickers and Joe Wingard.

Irene Butler reminded me that the American Association of Retired Persons has planned a free driver-safety course for senior adults Nov. 28, beginning at 8:30 a.m., in the Power South boardroom. The course can result in reduced costs for auto insurance, good for three years. If you want to attend, call Mrs. Butler at 334-222-4006. A light lunch is planned.

Jerri Stroud, retired science teacher from the Andalusia City Schools, entertained two of her former students as houseguests this past weekend. Mrs. Stroud had taught the ladies (from the classes of 1960 and 1961) in physical education and coached them in basketball at the Greenville High School, Greenville, Fla. They were among the first students she ever taught.

Unable to attend the recent 50th anniversary of their classes, Mrs. Stroud had graciously offered her hospitality in turn to Joann Byington from Valdosta, Ga., and Faye Black from Live Oak, Fla. A sweet sidenote is that Faye had borrowed Mrs. Stroud’s bridal veil to wear in her own wedding.

I was joking in a recent column about a Krispy Kreme burger, mentioned to me by James Simmons, former owner of the Opp I.G.A. I didn’t believe there was such a sandwich. I was wrong. My cousin, Jo Driggers of South Carolina, sent me the recipe from the Internet. I think Paula Deen had something to do with it.

Seen at Tabby D.’s for the lunch buffet were Joe and Anita Bratton, still in the process of moving to Tuscaloosa where their two daughters and their families have settled. Also seen were Elmer and Myrtice Davis, who have been married 63 years. I spoke, too, with the Marvin Britts.

In the lobby of Tabby D.’s I ran into George Washington Burnette III, colonel in the U.S. Army, retired, reared in Dozier, now living in Lithonia, Ga. He has authored an autobiography, It’s Not Where You’re from but Where You Wish to Go. He was an interesting and well-spoken gentleman.

At David’s Catfish House, I ran into Betty Baldwin and her sons, Bill and Grant. The “boys” were here to celebrate Betty’s birthday.

The older I grow the more I cherish ordinary days with nothing pressing, no meetings to attend, no place I must go, nothing I must do, just an ordinary day to idle about and piddle.

Seen at Tabby D.’s for the Friday-evening, seafood buffet were the Cox Clan – Jimmy and Tammy Cox with their son, Bryan Cox, and his wife Adrienne and their little son, Jay (it’s hard to believe that Jimmy and Tammy are grandparents!). Also at table was Jimmy and Tammy’s daughter, Beth Coleman, with her daughter, Maddy, another grandchild of the youthful Jimmy and Tammy. Filling out the table were friends, Kimberly Jacobs and Todd and Kim Killough, who had their own grandson, Collin.

Seen, too, at Tabby D.’s were Sonja James and her mother Betty Scott.

The Covington Historical Society met for the last time this year, Nov. 10, in the Dixon Memorial of our public library.

The room was decorated for fall with “leafy” mats and gourds for centerpieces, arranged by Bea Miller.

Sue (Bass) Wilson, president, ending a two-year term, presided.

Lee Enzor installed the new officers for 2012: John Scherf, president; Nancy Robbins, vice-president; Evelyn Murphree, recording secretary; Harmon Proctor, treasurer; and Sue Wilson, corresponding secretary, a slate recommended by William Blocker, chairman of the Nominating Committee.

Bill Law, chaplain, led in prayer.

Larry Shaw led all in the state song, “Alabama,” accompanied by Sue Wilson at the piano.

Mrs. Wilson presented certificates of appreciation to Bebe Greene and Jackie Gantt, two faithful members, unable to be present.

Following a buffet supper, John Scherf introduced the guest speaker, Lt. Col. James D. Lawrence, a retired Air Force officer in town for Veterans’ Day ceremonies, who presented an autobiographical sketch about his growing up in Opp, his career in the Air Force, his genealogy, and his book.

Colonel Lawrence met his wife in Andalusia. He said the first thing he bought her was a chilidog at the Dairy Queen (opened in 1950).

Seen at the Huddle House were Dr. Steve and Harriet (Jay) Hubbard and Harriet’s brother, John Jay, and his wife Bobbie.

The Alabama Singing Women, a group of Baptist ladies who have been traveling about the state, performing, for the past ten years, presented a mini concert at First Baptist, Andalusia, last Sunday morning. They were directed by Gayle Smith and accompanied at the piano by Deb Anderson.

That night they sang at First Baptist, Opp. Then they traveled to Mobile where they sang at the annual Alabama State Convention this week. (A feature story about them was on the front page of this newspaper Thursday a week ago.)

Three members of the Andalusia First Baptist Adult Choir are in the A.S.W., Janet Brantley, Jennifer (Smith) Dansby and Betty Gay.

Another member, Pat Bonner of Atmore, was familiar to Sue (Bass) Wilson and me because we had gotten to know each other on a Samford-University trip to Ireland.

Ray and Jane Burdeshaw were back for the second weekend in a row. He’s a former minister of music at First Baptist. Jane sings in the A.S.W. They are a fun couple.

The Burdeshaws were houseguests last weekend with Dwight (the current minister of music) and Sonia Crigger, who had been introduced to each other by the Burdeshaws, “the matchmakers.”

Dwight was unbelievable last weekend. In addition to having houseguests, he elaborately decorated Fellowship Hall with a cornucopia of fall and Thanksgiving materials from his own collection. That was Saturday. Sunday morning, he was up at 5:30 and at church to cook, by himself, a meal of pork tenderloin, gravy, Sister Schubert rolls, potatoes, carrots, green beans, a California tossed salad and beverages, enough for the Alabama Singing Women, other guests, and adult choir servers after morning worship. The ladies of the adult choir and Glory Singers provided cakes.

The A.S.W., all dressed in black, began their concert with the national anthem, followed by seven anthems. Their style of music was flowing, smooth, melodic, inspiring, lovely and messagic.

The choir was followed by a guest speaker, a Christian pastor from Haiti, Francky Jeune, who had helped members of First Baptist on their mission trips to Haiti, to help in the wake of the terrible earthquake there.

The soft-spoken Pastor Jeune was accompanied by his wife of 28 years. (They have seven children back in Haiti.)

Jeune’s description of the troubles in Haiti and his sincere gratitude for help from the Alabama Baptist Convention during the past two years brought tears to my eyes. (Let us do something for Haiti, gentle reader.)

Jeune told that it was considered a blessing, after the earthquake, if someone could just find the body of a loved one in order to bury it. Many were never found.

He said that Haiti must be rebuilt on the foundation of Jesus and spoke of Haiti as a nation of faith. He added that Haiti must have help. It cannot stand alone.

There are many still living in tents with miserable conditions caused by rains. Orphans roam the streets.

The first thing Haiti needs, said Jeune, is prayer.

About his own family Jeune said that he trusts God to provide for his seven children. “We never have enough to set aside for tomorrow,” he added.

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 and Covington County join the Covington Historical Society and pay its annual dues of $25 for 2012, so as to help- preserve the history of our county. If you do not choose to attend meetings held on the last Thursday evening of each month (except December), you may be a “Friend of the Museum.” Mail checks to CHS, P.O. Box l582, Andalusia, AL 36420. Memorials and honorariums are also appreciated.

To commemorate the Sesquicentennial of the War Between the States, let us return to this week l50 years ago.

President Lincoln “called” upon General McClellan at McClellan’s home, only to be snubbed. The Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) provided aid on the home front. Some in the North had second thoughts about the Union’s capture of two Confederate commissioners (Mason to Britain and Slidell to France) and realized the damage this caused to relations with those two countries. In North Carolina a second government, pro-Union, was organized. In Kentucky, likewise, two governments tried to rule.

Remember to buy Sesquicentennial and Mark Twain stamps.

Congratulations to Lucy Martin for identifying the mysterian, Hazel Griffin, who was elected to her seat on the city council by one vote.

The new mysterian, a female, walks with a staff.

Birthdays this past week are those of Robert Louis Balfour Stevenson, the Scottish poet, essayist, short-story writer, and novelist, and Sir William Schwenck Gilbert, English writer of comical poetry and lyricist for the operettas written for the music of Sir Arthur Sulliven.

Stevenson’s book of poetry for children, A Child’s Garden of Verses, may be the most popular book of children’s poetry ever written. (Have you read from it to your grandchild?) Stevenson’s novels include Treasure Island, Kidnapped, and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Gilbert’s librettos include H.M.S. Pinafore, The Pirates of Penzance, and The Mikado.

Sue (Bass) Wilson provided the following:

“Amy (Russell) Spurlin, a historian at the First United Methodist Church, invited Paula Sue Duebelt and me to Blue Lake a recent Friday ago for the evening event commemorating the 60th anniversary of the founding of Blue Lake. We arrived around 4:30 when ‘60 Years of Memories and Ministry’ began. For several hours, we heard stories and histories of Blue Lake’s founders, board of trustees, directors, staff, counselors, lifeguards and campers. If you can imagine this, a ‘volume’ of Methodist historians from the Alabama-West Florida Conference was present. I must say that the evening could be described as a Blue Lake history marathon!

“At the Oakwood Vesper Point Tim Trent, Andalusia’s FUMC pastor, dressed in a fisherman’s attire, impersonated Dr. S. M. Baker, a former pastor of the local church, whose vision in the late 1940’s of an assembly campground in a rural, forest setting was the spark that ignited the idea. By the lakeside Trent used a Biblical theme of making ‘fishers of men.’

“Eland Anthony, after-dinner speaker and long-time board trustee, told of his father, Eiland E. Anthony, and his assistance by making financing possible through the Commercial Bank. Additionally, local Methodist churches played significant parts in early financial support, as did Charles and Thelma Dixon, whose swap with government, national forestland made the 300-acre parcel available for the original campsite.

“Beginning in 1951, the first camp sessions hosted campers, housed in tents, cooking over campfires. Elaine (Stuart) Harper of Bay Minette and formerly from Andalusia (1964 AHS graduate) talked of her 1968 wedding having to be held at Blue Lake because of a fire in the basement of First Methodist that required relocating her ceremony at the ‘last minute.’ Some used the ‘Baptist’ church, she said in a light-hearted way; but since she had served as a camper at Blue Lake, it was the first option that she chose. She brought along some crafts that she had handmade as a youth camper, which she donated to the historical group for permanent display. Several attendees stated that they also had been married there; and others mentioned having been proposed to at Blue Lake.

“Dr. Bill Hansford, 1959 AHS graduate and retired physician now residing in Birmingham, told a quite interesting story of a young man named Mark Rutland, now Dr. Rutland, who went on to the ministry and world-mission work (Global Servants) because of his experience as a high-school camper. He is now president of Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Okla. Mary Ann Pickard, archivist emerita of Huntingdon College in Montgomery, which houses the archives of the Alabama-West Florida Conference and the United Methodist Church, presented some history of Blue Lake.

“Amy Spurlin’s part of the program included the activities and progress at the camp in the 1960s. On the ‘spur’ (pun) of the moment, Paula Sue led and I accompanied at the piano ‘Kum Ba Ya,’ a popular campfire song of that era.

“Mary Ann Pickard shared a story of a former camp director, John Lane. I took a great interest in this since the Lane family lived in my McRainey Loop/Doyle Street neighborhood when I was a child; and his three children were my playmates. Precious memories returned!

“Most of the presentations were held in the Wesley Chapel. Dinner was served in the Oakwood Dining Room where everyone enjoyed the famous Blue Lake rolls (yeast-style). The Johnny Appleseed song was sung as the blessing. A map was displayed on Power Point, which showed the three main complexes – Oakwood, Pinewood and Dogwood. Year-round conferences and programs are held today at the Blue Lake Camp.

“Other Andalusians present on Friday were Caroline (Cumbie) Picking, Marcia (Mathews) Reichert, Heenan Spurlin and Eland and Jane Anthony, along with their daughters and sons-in-law, Elizabeth and Sam Starr and Katherine and Terry Dubose of Marianna, Fla. Terry serves on the board of trustees, too, an example of the second generation of leaders.

“Two granddaughters of Dr. Baker were also in attendance and were recognized. I was pleased to learn that Blue Lake is not only for Methodists but also for other denominations, as was shared by Mr. Anthony. He emphasized that the early founders desired for the camp to be utilized by all Christian groups, and that wish has been carried over to the present.

“The following day, Saturday, the celebration continued. Joe Proctor told about the Lambuth Chapel, moved to Blue Lake in 1969 under the supervision of the late Mr. George Proctor. John Croft spoke about the Methodist Men’s involvement with the camp. The ‘birthday party’ was celebrated with cake, hayrides, canoeing, walking the trails, bicycling and just sitting beside the five-acre lake and enjoying the beautiful fall scenery in the oh-so quiet setting.

“Winding our way into the camp on the drive after the turn from the main highway, one would have thought we were in Gatlinburg with all the fall colors – and no cell ‘phone service! What a nice get-away! I think that I was the only Baptist there with the exception of a few Methodist converts! We were so grateful that Amy had invited us to this serene, worshipful, and enlightening experience, which makes all of us Covington Countians proud of the Blue Lake Methodist Camp, situated deep in the Conecuh National Forest.

“As we walked down the long hallways of the residence halls, glancing at the neatly arranged beds in the dorm rooms, stunning lake views from many of the windows beaconed us to the outdoors. It is here where thousands upon thousands of children and adults alike have answered the call to various ministries and have been blessed to have had the opportunity to commune with nature and God’s beautiful world while strengthening their faith.

“There are currently 11 employees and some 5-or-6,000 campers each year – interesting statistics of which many of us north of Blue Lake, right here in town, were not even aware! Executive director, Phyllis Murray, writes in a newsletter, ‘I imagine them, the children and youth, 50 or so years from now, thinking back over their lives; and I pray that they will view their time at Blue Lake as an important part of their success as people – and I wonder how they will change the world for Jesus. What impact will they make on their families, their churches, and communities, and on our world? The potential is great!’

“Methodists and friends are encouraged in 2012 to give $20 for 12 months. Next year’s theme is ‘Be counted in 20 for 12 in 2012.’

“It occurred to me that all of this work to establish, to build and to maintain this complex has been accomplished because of God’s inspiration, with the vision of a few, and the support of many over the past 60 years. Happy birthday, Blue Lake – and many more!”

Thank you, Sue, for this excellent report.

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