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

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 3, 2011

Peeping through my Venetian blind, a cup of hot chocolate in my hand, I peered out upon a bleak landscape in a cold world and cheered my heart with that old Christmas song, “Christmas is coming; geese are getting fat; please put a penny in the old man’s hat. If you haven’t got a penny, a ha’ (half) penny will do; if you haven’t got a ha’ penny, then God bless you!”

St. Mary’s Episcopal Church here in Andalusia was the setting for a memorial service for one of its faithful members, the late Josephine “Jo” (Peake) Mosdell, Nov. 21 at 4 p.m..

Jo died Nov. 9 in a Pensacola, Fla., hospital and was later cremated in Pensacola. Her late husband, Ernie Mosdell, had been cremated, also. By her wish her ashes, as Ernie’s were, are to be scattered in the Gulf of Mexico.

Three friends were with Jo when she died – Lenora Johnson, Margaret Goodspeed and Mike Jones, who once taught reading at the Andalusia High School.

Participating in a service of hymns, scripture, recitations, responses, prayers, choir, a sermon, and holy communion were Dr. Cynthia (Carter) Howard, the new minister and officiant; George Proctor, bearing the paschal candle; Evans Barnes, bearing the crucifer; Jonathan Weed and Catherine Weed, bearing the torches; Mike Purnell and Charlie Morris, readers; Frankie Lancaster, leading the prayers of the people; Jan Morris and Tom Goodspeed, chalice-bearers; John Beasley, organist and choir master; Charles Simon, playing the bagpipes; and John Earl Duggan, Terry Kyzar, George Barnes and Jim Boswell, ushers.

The altar was decorated with flowers from Dr. and Mrs. Wayne Johnson and family. Mrs. Johnson, a dear friend, was in charge of Jo’s last wishes.

Flowers in the Parish Hall (fellowship hall) were given by Marty and Sara Robinson. Other flowers in the hall were gifts from George and “Sister” Barnes, and from Jo’s two sisters, still living in England, Ernie and Jo’s native land. All flowers were given to the glory of God and in memory of Jo.

At one point bagpipes were used to play “Amazing Grace” because Jo loved the bagpipes so.

One song all sang was “He Who Would Valiant Be,” a song Jo and her sister, Bridget, sang as girls. It was their school song in high school.

“Mother Cindy,” who has a strong and beautiful voice, sang throughout the service.

During the homily (sermon) “Mother Cindy” read from a poem Jo had written.

There are two fine, detailed accounts of Jo’s life in her obituaries in the Nov. 18 and Nov. 19 numbers of The Star-News.

The Parish Hall was hung with colorful banners, each with a member’s name and his date of confirmation or baptism.

On display were paintings by Jo, as well as two humorous reminders of her likes, some 3 Musketeers bars and a couple of lottery tickets.

A buffet of tea sandwiches, sweets and nuts was offered to all, plus an array of beverages. Tables and chairs made eating and chatting a pleasant time.

During the recessional all sang the inspiring hymn, “Lift High the Cross.”

The service was filmed by Robert Evers, to be sent to Jo’s two sisters in England.

Another service I attended recently was that for Frances (Dykes) Ward (Mrs. Judson Ward) Nov. 22 in Foreman Funeral Home Chapel at 10 a.m..

The closed casket was covered with a blanket of pink roses and white baby’s breath, with matching bouquets on either side, atop pedestals.

Pictures of Mrs. Ward and her family were displayed.

Martha (James) Givhan played the electronic organ.

Dwight Crigger, minister of music at Mrs. Ward’s church, First Baptist of Andalusia, led all in “Great Is Thy Faithfulness,” which has become, more or less, the theme song of First Baptist.

Dr. Fred Karthaus, minister, First Baptist, spoke of Mrs. Ward’s life, her marriage to Judson Ward for 68 years, her teaching Sunday School, Training Union, and Vacation Bible School, and her influence upon several generations.

Dr. Karthaus read “Psalm 23” and other scriptures and led in prayer.

Mr. Crigger sang a solo, “It Is Well,” accompanied by Mrs. Givhan.

Dr. Karthaus spoke again, again sharing scripture and prayer. He spoke of Mrs. Ward’s two great loves, her family and her church, and described her as a gift-giver, gracious, kind, loving, humble, a “sweet little lady,” who lived with one foot on Earth and one in Heaven.

He recounted the time she heard the great evangelist, Billy Sunday, when he came to Andalusia, and the walls in her home, decorated with family pictures, her “walls of love.”

He compared her to Dorcas in the Bible.

As all exited, Mrs. Givhan played “Victory in Jesus.”

A private burial followed in Magnolia Cemetery.

An obituary can be found in The Star-News.

A third service I attended since we last met, gentle reader, and the hardest to bear, was that for Melissa (Grimes) Henderson, on Sun., Nov. 27, at 2 p.m. in Bethany Baptist Church.

Atop her closed casket was a blanket of red roses interspersed with white baby’s breath.

Melissa had died on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 24. She was a blessing to all who knew her.

The day of her funeral was one of steady rains. I have heard it said that rain at a funeral means that the angels are weeping for the beloved one.

I was particularly touched by the presence of Melissa’s mother, Frances, who came in a wheelchair from the hospital where she is in rehabilitation.

The church pianist, Pat Aplin, played during the service.

The entrance music was “It Is No Secret.”

Josh Wilson, the pastor at Bethany, read a list of relatives and some scripture before praying.

Two friends, Damon and Dorothy Morgan, sang “What If,” accompanied by Mrs. Aplin.

Billy Joy, a former pastor at Bethany, spoke next of Melissa as a person of unconditional love, one with no fear of death, one whose life was wrapped up in her husband and three children. He called her the ideal, submissive wife, as described in the Bible, a quiet, behind-the-scenes person.

Mr. Joy then shared a brief sermon, ending with prayer.

Mrs. Aplin played “It Is Well” as the family and friends exited.

Burial was afterwards in Andalusia Memorial Cemetery. In answer to many prayers, I believe, the rain ceased for a time.

When I moved to Andalusia, the first person I met and the first person with whom I did business was Melissa’s father, Harold. His family was the first to invite me to a meal and to befriend me. I once rented a room in the home of Melissa’s grandmother, “Little Momma” Burke. In school, I taught Melissa and her husband Frankie and, later, their children. I taught Melissa’s siblings and other relatives. They helped me paint my schoolroom. When Melissa and her siblings were little and used to visit “Little Momma,” I’d hold Melissa on my lap and tickle her, saying, “I’m going to kiss-a Melissa!” She’d giggle and smile and squirm. She was such a beautiful child, a face of smiles, a heart of sunshine. Frankie said to me sadly at the funeral, “no more kiss-a Melissa.” The last time I saw Melissa was at Frankie’s A.H.S. Class of 1972 reunion. She was thin from her illness, and still beautiful. I asked her if she’d like to sit on my lap as she did when a little girl. She smiled and sat down across my legs. I held her for a moment and said softly, “I’m going to kiss-a-Melissa”; and I did.

James Bristow tells me that he and his daughters, Edith and Susan, spent the Thanksgiving holidays in Destin, eating seafood instead of the traditional turkey and dressing. His grandson, Will, joined the trio one day. The “girls” even got to sun on the beach. Those were warm days, as you may recall. James especially was impressed with the shrimp in Bubba Gump’s Restaurant.

Seen at Tabby D.’s were Allan and Nell Wiggle, Melodie Wilson and her son, Jake “the Snake” Wilson, Don and Cheryl Cotton, their Chase and his LeAnne with their little Crews and Savannah, Trippy and Margaret McGuire, Gary and Mary Ann Hall, Ed and Judy Buck, her “baby brother,” Charles Ward, and his wife, Jullianne (Floyd), Dwight and Babs Mikel, their grandson, Aiden Rogoski, Kenny Lee (whose wife had deserted him to go shopping), Jerry Stokes, Wayne Smith, Martha Duggan and Mr. and Mrs. Otis Messick.

Gary Hall, I learned, taught one year at A.H.S. with Kennith Mount in vocational agriculture. Then he went to Opp to teach and has been there since.

Dwight and Babs Mikel, by the way, were officially babysitting their grandson, Aiden Rogoski, for the first time. (Put that in your baby book.)

Sandra Sansom, Trippy McGuire and Betty Baldwin were all treated to a birthday lunch at Tabby D.’s by the staff of the second floor at the county courthouse. That was Nov. 18.

Seen at the hospital cafeteria for Sunday lunch were Betty Bass, Dan and Virginia Frasher, Benny and Esther Barrow, Herb and Sue Carlisle, A. G. and Pat Palmore, John and Nancy Smith, their son, Parker Smith, and the Palmores’ grandson, Austin (Alan’s son), a houseguest of theirs from the Atlanta area.

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. Gentle reader, we have only a month left. Why not read the Christmas story from Luke in the King James version? That would be a good way to end the 400th anniversary.

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 1582, Andalusia, Alabama 36420.

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

Missouri entered the Confederacy; at least, part of the population did. The Federals seized agricultural products and slaves in the Port Royal area of South Carolina. The U.S. gunboat Penquin seized a Southern blockade-runner. General McClellan, dragging his feet as usual, made President Lincoln lose patience. The 37th Congress met. Lincoln delivered his State of the Union address. The Federals occupied Ship Island, Miss., to get a foothold in the South. Great Britain bristled over the seizure of Confederate diplomats, John Slidell and James Mason, taken from the Trent. Queen Victoria herself reprimanded those responsible for the Trent Affair. The Federals were in hot water with the English. The Federals certainly didn’t want the English to support the South, but the North had greatly offended the English.

Remember to buy Sesquicentennial and Mark Twain stamps.

Congratulations to Wilma Moore for identifying the mysterian, Margaret Eiland. The new mysterian is a retired teacher, a pianist, the mother of three, the grandmother of four boys, and a songster.

Birthdays this week included those of William Blake, an English poet-artist; Louisa May Alcott, American novelist; John Bunyan, an English novelist; Mark Twain, an American novelist; and Winston Churchill, an English prime minister, artist, and author.

Miss Alcott wrote novels that appealed to youth, especially Little Women, which was made into a musical here in the “Dimple of Dixie.” It was used as a money-maker for local projects during the American Bicentennial in 1976. Out of the local bicentennial celebration came our historical society, the worldwide domino tournament, and two monuments on the courthouse lawn.

John Bunyan penned Pilgrim’s Progress, one of the three books pioneers took out West, along with the Bible and Shakespeare. If you are a Christian, you especially should read Bunyan’s masterpiece.

Mark Twain wrote a few books that every boy should read – The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Prince and the Pauper, and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.

Churchill stood almost alone in warning Great Britain to prepare for Hitler’s invasion in World War II. People laughed at him and ignored him. They turned him out to pasture. They treated him like an old fool. Then, when what he had predicted came true, the people called upon him to save them. In a sense, he did. He became to many the greatest man of the 20th century! He became England!

Then, when the war was won and he wasn’t needed any longer, the people turned him out of office – again. Such is human nature.

With Christmas on its way, remember your Christmas cards, gifts, church services, decorations, visits and traditions. The Portly Gentleman asked me to include Christmas cooking! He wants a Lane cake this year.

I know there’s more to do than time and strength to do it; but do the best you can, you ol’ stocking stuffers!

This cold weather puts me more into the spirit of Christmas. Does it you?

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