Out and about, Mrs. Grundy sees all, tells all

Published 5:24 pm Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Peeping through my Venetian blind, I saw “Clydie” Clump, coming up my walk. He had come over to discuss some winter yard work with me. As we drank hot chocolate, we decided on what should be done. Of course, we got in a little news, too.

Last Sunday the same quartet that had sung at the funeral of Guy Wiggins sang the same song, “Hallelujah to the Lamb,” a favorite of Mr. Wiggins, in the morning worship service at First Baptist. Kim Dyess, Dr. Morgan Moore, Dwight Crigger (minister of music) and Joe Wingard were accompanied by Sonja Crigger at the piano and Martha Givhan at the organ.

Seen at the hospital cafeteria for lunch last Sunday were Roy and Sybil Weaver, John and Mary (“the Belle of Excel”) Hill, Dr. Wayne and Lenora Johnson, Danny Posey, Betty Bass, Ron and Caroline Picking, Rayford and Carolyn Davis, John and Nancy Smith, Parker Smith and A.G. and Pat Palmore. Some were enjoying the New Year’s Day with the traditional black-eyed peas and collards, hoping to get rich by eating plenty of peas and greens.

Patti (Conley) Neiderer of Gettysburg, Pa., and I had a little talk by ‘phone this week. I was apologizing for not calling her when I passed through Gettysburg with “Miss Betty’s” bus tour in October. Patti and I had run into each other at the Andalusia High School Class of 1972 reunion previously. She didn’t actually finish with her class – had to move – but was included in the reunion by her ol’ friends. I promised to do better next time, Lord willing.

Irene (Davis) Butler assembled some 30 – 40 guests at David’s last week to hear Bill Cavins present a program on insulation and to enjoy a complimentary meal of “surf and turf.”

Eva Maloy, a retired, elementary teacher from Church Street School, who moved to Auburn some years ago with her husband, Samuel James “Jim” Maloy, has taken residence in an assisted-living home in Columbus, Ga. She can be written at Gardens at Calvary, Apartment 110, 7595 Moon Road, Columbus GA 3l909. Her late husband, Jim Maloy, is buried in Auburn. Eva’s daughter, Ann (Maloy) Whittington, and Ann’s husband Jim live nearby in Waverly Hall, Ga. Eva’s son, Sam, who was married to the late Pam Patterson, and reared two daughters, now grown, has been married again, of all things, to a lady with two daughters, whom he is helping to rear. One of Sam and Pam’s daughters lives here in Andalusia.

Did you see the Rose Bowl parade on Jan. 2? I was impressed with the fact that the Girl Scouts organization is 100 years old this year. It was represented by a float. “Clydie” Clump got all excited at a float, honoring the l00th birthday of Roy Rogers, the popular movie cowboy, and using the stuffed figures of his horse, Trigger, and dog, Bullet. Rogers’s son sang from the float. Rogers was also remembered by a parade of 100 golden palominos. (Trigger was a palomino.) The crowd stood and cheered, the narrator began to weep, and many sang Rogers’s theme song, “Happy Trails.”

It is good to be alive and walk amid the wonders of the world.

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.

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

Federals in Fort Pickens, Fla., fired on Confederates in Pensacola, Fla. (That’s getting close to home.) Federals increased their strength in Port Royal, S. C. (later, scenes in the movie about Forest Gump would be shot there). Skirmishes between North and South occurred in Virginia and Maryland with threats of skirmishes in Tennessee, Kentucky and on Ship Island, Miss.

Remember to buy Sesquicentennial and Mark Twain stamps.

No one guessed the cluegraph. Who wears diapers and a top hat?

Birthdays this week are those of Betsy Ross, who sewed the first American flag; Dr. William Lyon Phelps, a professor at Yale University in New Haven, Conn., who helped popularize literature in America; Cicero, the Roman senator, orator, and author; and Jacob Grimm, the German, who, with his brother, Wilhelm, preserved popular fairy tales.

Yesterday was Twelfth Night or Little Christmas in Europe, remembered by Americans in the song, “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” in the title of one of Shakespeare’s plays, and as the eve of Epiphany. Epiphany is Jan. 6, the 12th day after Christmas, the day the Three Kings, or Magi, appeared and Christ was made known to the Gentiles.

Last week the Portly Gentleman was telling us about his trip with a bus tour in mid-December to the venerable resort, the Homestead, in Hot Springs, Va. He resumes his notes with those taken on a Sunday morning.

“Mid-morning I ate from the breakfast buffet in the grand dining room.

“This dining room is, indeed, grand. It has four distinct, large areas, all white, and joined by freestanding, Ionic columns, circular and fluted. It dates back 100 years and can seat at one time some 600 at some 100 tables. It is used for breakfast and dinner, but not lunch. One area has a wall of false windows with mirrors instead of glass panes. One area is octagonal with white, fluted columns as supports, made, it seems, for dancing. The main area is rectangular, framed by columns, and containing the buffet. A fourth area is circular, beneath a dome. The walls include single and double pilasters, also white and fluted, arches, prints, and drapes, festooned with Christmas decorations. Three ornate chandeliers hang from the high, recessed ceiling in the central area.

“After breakfast I wandered the carpeted halls, lined with historical prints, and a grandfather’s clock, standing guard.

“My favorite room was George Washington’s Library, with its curved, outside wall of windows, a semi-circle of light, divided by pilasters. I listed five brown, wicker chaise loungers (defining five reading areas), writing desks, built-in, mahogany bookcases, historical pictures (including one of General Lee, who had stayed there), tables for puzzles, dominoes, and chess, potted palms, hotel displays, lamps, brown wicker chairs and paneled, wooden walls.

“One historical display was a place setting, under glass, from the old days of the Homestead. The pieces included a berry bowl, dinner plate, salad plate, dessert plate, egg cup, cup and saucer, butter knife, salad fork, dinner fork, dinner knife, salad knife, appetizer knife and spoon.

“Ah, I thought! How nice to sit down to such a table!

“As I wandered about that Sunday morning, I passed through the glass-walled walkway to the Garden Wing, a long hall with its own sitting areas, writing desk, and game tables; through the history room with a display on Sam Snead, the famous golfer who got his start at the Homestead; and through the Empire Room, a ballroom with a wall of false windows of mirrored panes. I passed, too, through a room with a gingerbread village and a carriage on display, one with a circular skylight and walls of windows — a sunny-bright room with a slate floor. Everywhere were shops and meeting rooms and grand rooms with architectural wonders.

“Then I came to the Crystal Ballroom, a room of sunshine with yellow walls, one wall made of windows, a room surrounded by white, Ionic, fluted columns, pilasters, arches with recessed couches, a small stage, a piano, a dance floor, sitting areas about the dance floor and crystal chandeliers. Here, I thought, is where Ed and Gloria Short must have danced when they came here.

“As I stood at one wall of windows, I looked out upon the snow-covered ground, gleaming in the cold sunshine. I could see across this back lawn of the Homestead a village street and a small church. Its door was open. I wondered if someone were having church. I exited the Homestead and walked over to look in. It was 11 a.m., and the processional was just starting. I felt that God had led me there at that moment, and I stayed to worship.

“St. Luke’s Episcopal Church is a charming, gothic structure with an old-fashioned interior and a seasoned pipe organ. The congregation that Sunday was few in number; and, mainly older people. The winter sun streamed in through the stained glass of the beautiful chapel. It was all lovely and quaint. One cannot help but worship in such beauty. Dr. David Cox delivered the sermon.

“It being Sunday, I had wanted to worship, but had no idea where to go. I believe the Lord led me to St. Luke’s. The door was literally open! I’m so glad I went! Oh, I felt all the better for worshipping on the Lord’s Day.

“Back in the Great Hall of the Homestead, I found Rosalyn Donaldson of Tifton, sitting by the fire; there, too, were the ‘Sisters,’ Naomi Jane Britton and Margurite Morris, from Carrollton, all, looking like a Christmas card.

“Five of us had agreed to share the expense of a one-hour, carriage ride through the snowy woods Sunday afternoon. The ladies, with blankets over their laps, sat in the carriage – Rosalyn Donaldson, Madelyn Henderson of Macon, Montine O’Quinn of Bainbridge, and Kay Hind of Albany. I climbed up, huffing and puffing, beside the driver, Wayne Hornsby, an ol’ country boy who hunts, rides and lives by the Homestead. Our horses were Bert and Ernie. We asked many a question of Wayne, and he kept us entertained over the frozen, muddy ruts. We could hear the ice break beneath the wheels. We came upon four deer, which simply stood, looked at us as harmless, and lay back down in their snowy nest. We rode through great ridges of bare hardwoods. Kay, who reminded me so much of the great actress, Marie Dressler, led us in ‘Jingle Bells.’ Wayne pointed out the house once owned by Dave Thomas, who began Wendy’s, and one that belonged once to Pat Robertson, the television evangelist. Wayne also pointed out a ski slope, private homes, and stables. It was cold despite Pap’s lined coat, my Irish patch cap, a blue sweater-vest, gloves, and a scarf given me by Mrs. W. M. Thweatt.

“Back at the Homestead we warmed by the fire; however, I was not long there because I was determined to sit in those white rockers on the front porch near the porte cochere, despite the cold; and I did – briefly. I looked up to the Tower to my left and noted the white trim, ornate with urns, brackets, pilasters, windows, glass and a clock and cupola on top.

“I next explored the President’s Lounge with its wide wall of glass, overlooking the ice rink, Old Course (golf), two pagodas over hot springs, the famous first tee, Casino, hills with bare trees, snow patches, and Christmas decorations – garlands, ribbons, wreaths and twinkling lights. The wall of windows was like another Christmas card.

“In the lounge are chairs and tables in little groupings along the wall of windows. Here one can sit and enjoy the out-of-doors in heated comfort. Along the interior, paneled walls are portraits of 22 presidents who have visited the Homestead. Off the lounge is the 1766 Grille, a large, dining room. The Homestead dates back to 1766. We were not a country then, and Washington had 33 more years to live.

“I walked down to the skating rink and tried my feet at ice skating. It looked so easy. I held onto the handrail and circled the ice four times, never letting go. Then I fell; and great was the fall! I decided to waddle back to the safety of a chair.

“Someone had a campfire burning near the rink. The oak logs smelled so good! I sat and watched others skate – ah, what grace! Poor Portly One! He thought he could skate. Recorded Christmas music filled the air. Some children toasted marshmallows. I especially enjoyed the music when Longfellow’s ‘I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day’ came on.

“I eventually returned to the Great Hall for afternoon tea, selecting Earl Gray tea, and drinking it in a winged-back chair. The tea sandwiches, scones, and hot chocolate were to be found in the Jefferson Parlor, as on Saturday. Many guests had left by Sunday, so this experience with tea was much more pleasant with room to move about. There was practically no line at all.

“The pianist played again – Dave Morrison, who had driven over from Staunton, Va.

“I walked back to the ice rink next to the Casino, a quaint building, more than 100 years of age, decorated for Christmas. It is surrounded by a columned porch. The Casino used to be a game room, not a gambling place. That day half was a restaurant; half was a Christmas shop. I bought a sleeve of Homestead golf balls for Frank Moore, who loves golf. I wish for him to play the three golf courses at the Homestead.

“Back in the Presidents’ Lounge I sat by the wall of windows, looked out on the ‘Christmassy’ scene before me, and had two drinks, a Shirley Temple (Sprite and cherry juice) and President’s Punch (orange juice and pineapple juice). The peanuts were free. I understood why eventually. The more one eats salty peanuts, the thirstier he becomes; so, he buys more to drink. It’s called an investment.

“I stay away from alcoholic drinks. I over eat, so I would over drink and become an alcoholic. I don’t want to be an alcoholic. Besides, my parents taught me not to do that; and I don’t want to disappoint my mother and father. I guess some can manage strong drink. Longfellow drank wine. If Mr. Longfellow drank, then it must not be all bad; but I bet Mr. Longfellow never got drunk, God bless him.

“I heard later that Kay Hind, that delightful spirit, ‘took the waters’ Sunday afternoon, bless her jolly soul! She said that she was the only one there at the time, swimming in the Hot Springs, where Thomas Jefferson himself once swam. She also wanted us to know that she wore a bathing suit, though that was optional!

“I was seated for dinner Sunday night with the same, delightful ladies as Saturday night.

“My choices were shrimp bisque, lavender-honey cured salmon with carpaccio, potato chive cakes, horseradish crème, fraiche, duck vilette in apricot jam with slices of crusty bread, petit herb salad, New York strip steak, balsamic braised mushrooms, red pearl onions, asparagus, rainbow carrots, truffle potato tart and a white chocolate cone. I couldn’t pronounce everything, but I could eat it.

“After dinner I explored more of the Homestead; then, wandered outside in the cold to study the Christmas decorations. It was so quiet. The moon was full. Electric lights were strung around the six columns of the great porte cochere, over shrubs and trees, outlining electric Christmas displays. It was all so lovely. Down by the ice rink, lights were draped from the skating rails and Casino.

“Returning to my cozy room, I left instructions for breakfast to be brought to my room Monday morning. That way I could avoid rushing down to breakfast and then back to my room to finish packing. Besides, I wanted the experience.

“The next morning a fellow named Alexander rolled in a desk-sized table laid with a white cloth. He pulled up a chair, and I sat down to luxury.

“I removed the cover over my plate to find Virginia ham and cheese in an omelet, link sausage and hash-browned potatoes, two rolls wrapped in a white napkin, a bread plate, a little pitcher of cream, two small jars of jam, butter, a small bottle of ketchup, water, apple juice, salt and pepper, sweeteners, a cloth napkin, a pot of coffee, a cup, two forks, two knives and two spoons. It was a relaxed, pleasant way to end my visit to the Homestead.

“Our tour group boarded the bus and headed down the mountain to the town of Covington, passing Falling Springs Falls, glorious in the winter wild wood. In Covington we saw the paper mills again and the Jackson River.

“We drove all the way back to Dothan in about 18 hours, letting off couples and groups along the way.

“In Wytheville (With-ville), Va., set in the Blue Ridge Mountains, we stopped at the Log House, a real log cabin, for lunch. I sat in a snug booth by a fire with Johnnie McMilian and Marshall and Alice Stephens. Wytheville was named for George Wythe, a Virginia signer of the ‘Declaration of Independence.’

“Edith Bolling Galt, the second Mrs. Woodrow Wilson, was born in Wytheville. She ran the nation secretly while her husband suffered from a stroke.

“Our group became fewer and fewer, until only eight of us were left by the time we arrived in Dothan. It was so late – or early – that I spent the night in Dothan and drove back to Andalusia the next morning.

“One special memory I have of the trip is on the bus when our guide, Pat Lanier, played a tape of Christmas music for us. One song was the ‘Hallelujah Chorus,’ and many of us joined in and sang along. That was swell!

“I was especially sad to see Elizabeth Beers of Newnan and Harriet Reardon of Peachtree City leave our company. Elizabeth, a retired secretary, knew grammar and literature well and quoted familiar passages to my delight.

“Leaving the friends I had made on the trip was almost like leaving family, a bitter-sweet feeling.”

Thank you, Portly Gentleman, for your account.

Now, gentle reader, let me encourage each of us to be in his place of worship this weekend, Lord willing. Fare thee well; oh, and “Happy New Year!”