Overheard, out and about, Mrs. Grundy tells all

Published 12:29 am Saturday, March 24, 2012

Peeping through my Venetian blind, I noted the beauty of the azaleas, dogwoods, and wild crabapples over at Covington Hall. The large azalea bushes reminded me of Southern belles in their ball gowns, waiting to waltz.

Of all the blooms of spring the wild crabapple seems loveliest to me. Sara Hobson gave me three of these crabapples once-upon-a-time.

Spring arrived last Tues., March 20, but felt more like the first day of summer.

Also in bloom were the cherry, oxalis, winter jasmine, daffodowndillies, flowering quince, redbud, wisteria, Indian hawthorne, clovers (red, Dutch white, yellow rabbit), verbena, Lady Banks rose, Cherokee rose, red top, wild azaleas (which some call tree honeysuckle), purity, bluets, iris, sloes (wild plums), pears, button spirea, bridal wreath, South Carolina yellow jasmine, Indian cane, catalpa, dewberry, snowball, almond, pink feathers and spiderworts.

Seen at the Huddle House were Suzie Adams, Glenda Simmons, Amy Williams, and her daughter, Anna.

Seen at the Piggly Wiggly “deli” was James Bristow, who told me that his son-in-law, Walter Cammack, took ill at his job in Africa, was flown to Paris, France, for special treatments, and then back here, where he is recuperating.

The senior adults of First Baptist, East Three-Notch Street, attended their monthly luncheon last Tuesday in Fellowship Hall.

Trudy Vickers, assisted by Betty Bass, decorated the hall in green in keeping with St. Patrick’s Day the 17th. Green napkins, green newsletters and shamrock centerpieces brightened the room. Each centerpiece used paper shamrocks of different sizes and shades, a spray of artificial shamrocks, and parade beads.

The group sang “Happy Birthday” to Betty Bass.

Bill Law worded the blessing; Dr. Fred Karthaus, pastor, the benediction.

Margaret Smyly hosted the tea table.

Green’s (who else for St. Patrick’s?) catered pork chops, scalloped potatoes, turnip greens (there’s green again!), fried bread, rolls and peach cobbler.

Gordon Vickers, minister to senior adults, introduced the speaker, Alan Cotton, who has served as a deacon in First Baptist.

Cotton, a 1971graduate of the Andalusia High School and a 1975 graduate of Auburn, has been in the floral business here since graduation from college. His current shop is located on South Cotton Street, appropriately.

He and his wife, Angie (South) Cotton (how much more Southern can you get?), have two sons, Lee and Chris.

Cotton demonstrated how to arrange flowers, answered questions about gardening, and spoke of local gardeners.

He volunteers to place floral arrangements in the Baptist sanctuary each Sunday, often using plants donated by locals such as Dr. Morgan Moore, Dr. Karthaus, Evelyn Timmerman, Margaret Eiland, Jean (Carter) Fuqua, Neal Dansby and others. He paid tribute to the late Carl and Mildred Shaw for their many donations.

Cotton also mentioned his mentor, the late Mrs. Perkins Taylor, who had the job of decorating the church before Cotton came along. He called her the “Martha Stewart” of her day and spoke highly of her creativity.

This past weekend I drove up to Greenville, on my way to Birmingham, and had lunch with Mrs. Gotrocks at the Hopalong Cassidy table in the Cracker Barrel. The restaurant served us dishes designed for St. Patrick’s Day, large bowls of corned beef, cabbage, carrots, boiled potatoes, and cornbread. It was enough for three people!

Above Montgomery on I-65, I “checked off” landmarks I’m used to seeing – the big, water wheel; the smaller, water wheel with the painting of the devil, warning all to go to church or else; the large Confederate flag, placed by the Alabama Sons of Confederate Veterans; and the large, water tower, painted like a peach, at Clanton.

When I think of Clanton, I think of Mary Clyde (Mims) Merrill, for years a beloved piano teacher here in Andy, because Clanton is her hometown. “M.C.” is now retired to Tuscaloosa to be nearer her two daughters. Boy, do we miss her at First Baptist! We miss her Christian light, which shines in this old world, warming all through her personality and presence, pleasing like spring, bubbling joy and encouragement, happiness and fun, love and acceptance! Oh, Mary Clyde, you are greatly missed!

In Birmingham, I attended the city’s annual opera, Carmen, Fri., March 16, at Wright Center on the beautiful, Georgian campus of Samford University. The French opera by Bizet was presented again Sunday afternoon, March 18.

Each performance cost about $100,000.

The tragic story of rejected love and murder included some famous pieces, such as “Habanera” and the “Toreador Song,” which almost everyone remembers once he has heard the melody.

Participating were professional singers, local talent such as the Birmingham Girls Choir and Opera Birmingham Chorus and the Alabama Symphony Orchestra.

The setting was Wright Hall, named for a former Samford president, Leslie S. Wright. The handsome building features a large auditorium, a pipe organ, and grand chandeliers in the lobby.

The hall is the setting for the Alabama Ballet’s annual Nutcracker, the Alabama Symphony Orchestra, Step-Sing (a campus song-and-dance competition), Opera Birmingham, the Alabama Dance Festival, the Birmingham Music Club, the Samford School of the Arts and Miss Alabama.

I was saddened to hear that the Encyclopedia Britannica plans to cease publication in print. One can depend on the accuracy of this standard. One cannot always depend on the accuracy of sources found on the Internet. This is why, when I was teaching, I was reluctant for students to use Internet sources for research papers. I did not feel that I could count on them with the same confidence as I could with the Britannica or a similar, proven source. It is human nature to trust anything in print as truth. I hope that current teachers will emphasize to their students that not everything on the Internet can be taken as truth. If we are not careful, our education may take a step backwards instead of forwards.

It is common to find in church services today a song negatively nicknamed by some a “7-11” song. The complaint/joke is that the same seven words are sung eleven times.

One Sunday morning when a “7-11” song was going on – and on – and on, a little, old lady turned to address one of her fellow worshippers about the length of the singing, “Does he think God’s deaf?”

Do you remember when the spring holidays for public schools were known, not as “spring break,” but as the “A.E.A. holidays”?

Teachers – at one time, 100 percent of teachers here in Andalusia – belonged to a professional organization called the Alabama Education Association. Most still do. (Today A.E.A. is thought of more as a union than as a professional organization.)

Teachers would gather from all over the state for a few days in spring in Birmingham to tend to their business. The students, meanwhile, had holidays. Those days in spring were beloved by both teachers and students, and highly anticipated. Eventually the teachers in A.E.A. started attending their annual meeting around the first of December. The “spring break” continued for teachers and students as a break from studying and was still called “A.E.A. holidays,” though it was not. Gradually the name of “A.E.A. holidays” was dropped and forgotten by the younger generations.

I have mentioned the Hopalong Cassidy table at the Cracker Barrel in Greenville so often in this column that several of our Dimpletonians asked to be seated there upon a recent visit to the “Camellia City.”

Their waitress was sweet and very, very young. She had never heard of a Hopalong Cassidy, and she certainly didn’t know where he sat.

Smiling knowingly, the Andalusia group found the table for her and gave her a cinematic education about the famous movie cowboy of yesteryear, pointing out his picture, hanging near the window-table.

Enjoying lunch at the Hopalong were Jerry and Linda Andrews, Jerry and Sally Hall, Bill Thigpen and Wayne and Lenora Johnson.

While eating, they looked about, hoping to see Mrs. Gotrocks and Mrs. Grundy; but she and I were out and about, viewing the dogwoods and azaleas.

Clay and Carrie Thomasson have moved to Valdosta, Ga., to take up Christian-missions work. Helping them move last weekend were Carrie’s mother, Carolyn Turner, and Carrie’s sister, Amy, as well as Clay’s mother, Margie Thomasson. Carolyn and Amy spent the night in beautiful Thomasville, Ga., on their way home. Margie stayed overnight in Valdosta. The “caravan” of four cars motored along Highway 84.

The Murals Committee of Andalusia met March 19, the last day of winter, in City Hall to discuss the seventh mural proposed for the “Dimple of Dixie.”

Wes Hardin of Dothan, who has painted the other six murals, was present to hear input on the latest mural, one to feature education in Covington County.

The sponsors of this mural are local businesses and the Dixon Foundation.

The meeting began with prayer by Pat Palmore, chairlady. Attending members were Robert Anderson, Mary Lee Howard, Elaine Manning, Hazel Griffin, Nancy Robbins and Joe Wingard. David Fuqua and Willie Thomas were absent.

The next meeting was set for April 2, 10 a.m., in City Hall (the former Andalusia High School).

First Baptist Church is planning a trip for senior adults, mainly, to see the Passion play March 30 at Dauphin Way Baptist in Mobile. The play about the life of Christ is co-sponsored by the University of Mobile.

The play is also scheduled for March 31 and April 1, each evening at 7 p.m..

Anyone may attend. Tickets are free, and may be picked up at Lifeway Bookstore, the University of Mobile, or Dauphin Way Baptist, all in Mobile.

Some 250 will perform.

Additional information can be had at 251-442-2420.

Jasmine Hills Gardens above Montgomery but below Wetumpka is open “for the season,” now through June, each Friday and Saturday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., and Sunday, noon – 5 p.m..

This is a beautiful place, featuring Greek art.

Adult entrance costs $7.

The Eufaula Pilgrimage is set for March 30 – April l.

Please consider watching a new film of Great Expectations on public television April l and 8 on Masterpiece Theatre, in honor of its author, Charles Dickens, whose birth 200 years ago many are remembering this year.

This year is also the 100th anniversary of the birth of the movie cowboy, Roy Rogers, born Nov. 5, 2011.

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.

Confederate President Jefferson Davis named Judah Benjamin the new secretary of state for the Confederacy.

The Peninsular Campaign, organized by General McClellan to attack Richmond, the Confederate capital, from the south, continued.

Union President Abraham Lincoln recalled some of his troops to protect the Federal capital, Washington, D.C., fearing an attack by the Confederates.

Lincoln pondered “compensated emancipation” of slaves in the South.

Remember to buy Sesquicentennial and Mark Twain stamps.

For the eighth week no one has identified correctly the mysterian. Here is the clue-graph again – soft-spoken, quiet, professional, a bookworm, known for growing African violets in her windowsills. I shall add another clue this week. She is deceased.

I have no birthdays this week.

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

Fare thee well.