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

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 3, 2012

Peeping through my Venetian blind, I noticed signs of spring in the flowers now blooming, some, seemingly premature.

I almost wanted to say, “No, not yet! Wait just a bit longer!”

The Alabama Education Association sponsored its annual banquet for this area of the state – Conecuh, Covington and Escambia counties – known as District 24 – Friday night, February 24, in the Bolden-Cardwell Hall in Evergreen.

Bolden-Cardwell Hall is an old warehouse that was converted into a modern, spacious, and attractive fellowship hall by the Evergreen Methodist Church, just across Mill Street.

Driving up to park, one could enjoy the church bells, ringing out the Westminster chimes, followed by a hymn.

Ronnie Brogden, superintendent of the Conecuh County Schools, acted as emcee.

Calvin McIntyre, vice-president of District 24, worded the invocation/blessing.

Lisa Thomas McMillian of Drexel and Honeybee Catering catered the banquet.

The keynote speaker was the Honorable Marc Keahey, state senator for legislative District 22 (not to be confused with AEA districts) and a Democrat.

Others on program were Thomas Jackson, representative for the state’s 68th legislative district; Jacqueline Earthly, president of AEA District 24; Janelle Riley, soon to retire and a faithful member of District 24, who was presented a dozen red roses; and Vivian Jones, AEA director of District 24, who organized the distribution of door prizes.

One could sense in various comments during the banquet that there were strong anti-Republican and strong pro-Democrat feelings.

There were also anti-charter-school feelings. One person said that charter schools might lead back to segregation in schools.

Those attending represented AEA members in the three counties mentioned above, as well as guests involved in education, including Dr. and Mrs. Herb Riedel, president and first lady of Lurleen B. Wallace Community College.

Most educational employees in District 24 belong to AEA.

Miss Sue tells me that the Choral Department at the Andalusia High School is preparing a musical, Bye, Bye, Birdie, for presentation this month. The two Sues, Paula Sue Duebelt and Sue (Bass) Wilson (Miss Sue), classmates from the AHS Class of 1965 and directors of the choral program, are “scurrying around, getting props at yard sales and flea markets,” such as poodle skirts, sneakers, and headbands from the l960s.

Their student stars are getting excited, some having never performed on stage before. Austin Shirey will be Conrad Birdie, an Elvis-type character, along with Megan Rogers, who plays Kim, the high-school girl who will be kissed by the rock-and-roll star on the Ed Sullivan Show prior to his leaving for the military. Sam Shakespeare, expert sound-and-lighting man, is standing by, eagerly ready for practice and performance.

The Covington Historical Society gathered for its 371st meeting the evening of Feb. 23 in the Dixon Memorial of our public library.

John Scherf, new president, presided over a capacity crowd.

Severe weather had postponed the January meeting.

Nancy Robbins, vice-president, introduced Jared Boutwell, activities director at Savannah Terrace, who introduced Agnes Gatlin, who turned 105 Dec. 9, a resident of Savannah Terrace, said to be the second oldest person now living in Alabama.

Mrs. Gatlin spoke with good humor about her life and times.

Mrs. Gatlin said, “Learn it when you’re young.”

She remembered of her father that she “had one of the best daddies anyone ever had.”

One lesson she learned from him was to work in the fields.

She walked five miles to Straughn High School. Her education continued at the Troy Normal School and Montevallo, where she finished in 1930. In those days it was only for ladies.

Mrs. Gatlin recalled working her way through school with a summer job with the state Department of Health in Montgomery.

After college she moved to Huntsville, where she worked 1930-1968.

Mrs. Gatlin said that she loved her work, covering three counties in North Alabama.

Upon retirement in 1968, she moved back to Montgomery and then to Andalusia, living at one time with her sister and brother-in-law in a house they had built.

In 2000, Mrs. Gatlin made her home in Savannah Terrace.

Confessing that her hearing and eyesight are weak, she explained, “All I can do is to walk and to talk.”

Mrs. Gatlin drove a car until she was l00.

When asked to what she attributed her longevity, she responded, “God’s goodness.”

She was given two standing ovations.

A member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy proposed that the UDC keep open the Society’s museum each fifth Sunday afternoon, in exchange for advertisement and displays concerning the UDC. Sue Wilson moved to accept the offer, and Sir Francis McGowin seconded. The motion passed.

Sir Francis gave a brief history of the “Pledge of Allegiance,” followed by the pledge to the flag.

Bill Law, chaplain, led in prayer.

Larry Shaw, accompanied at the piano by Sue Wilson, led in the state song, “Alabama.” It happened to be his birthday, too.

Curtis Hampton Thomasson volunteered to serve as parliamentarian.

Sue Wilson agreed to serve as corresponding secretary.

Harmon Proctor, treasurer, thanked the Moore family for their generosity and reported on the museum.

Refreshments, organized by Bea Miller, were served after the speech by Mrs. Gatlin.

At the last meeting of the Lyceum Colonel Covington commented upon the movement by some to change the name of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Said he, “They might as well. The Baptist church I knew as a youth is already changed to the point that I hardly recognize it.”

He also observed that when there are problems that people cannot solve, that they change the name of something, thinking that change of name will somehow solve the problems.

Have you tried the sweet potato “tater tots” at the Sonic? They’re tasty.

It was good to chat the other day with Raymond Worley at the Piggly Wiggly “deli.”

Some of our Dimpletonians ate at the Hopalong Cassidy table at the Cracker Barrel in Greenville recently. That reminded me that this year is the centennial of the birth of another movie cowboy, Roy Rogers, born Nov. 5, 1911.

This year is also a memorial to Charles Dickens, who was born Feb. 7, 1812. To celebrate there is a new movie of his novel, Great Expectations, set to air April 1 and 8 on public television.

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. l582, Andalusia, AL 36420.

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

The Confederate Congress authorized President Davis to suspend habeas corpus. President Davis also called for martial law in certain towns in Virginia and for a national day of fasting. Some Southerners were arrested for treason.

Remember to buy Sesquicentennial and Mark Twain stamps.

For the fifth week no one has identified correctly the mysterian. Here again is the cluegraph – soft-spoken, quiet, professional, a bookworm, known for growing violets in her windowsills.

Birthdays this week include those of Victor Hugo, French novelist; Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, American poet and “centerpiece of American literature;” John Tenniel, English illustrator of the two Alice books; Gioacchino Rossini, Italian composer of operas; and William Dean Howells, American editor and novelist.

The Covingtons invited me to their annual Longfellow dinner in memory of dear, ol’ Longfellow. We shared a discussion of his life, favorite poems, and a toast. Miss Dora played his song, “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”; and we sang along.

Allow me to encourage each of us to be in his place of worship this weekend, Lord willing.

Fare thee well, gentle reader.