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

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 14, 2012

Peeping through my Venetian blind, I saw here and there the bending blooms of the draping deutzia, the beautiful trumpets of the amaryllis, the upward-turning faces of daylilies, the hidden blossoms of the English dogwood, the dazzling, white clusters of lagustrum, and the wild roses and honeysuckles, cascading over roadside fences,

Last week, Miss Flora Covington and I went motoring about Covington County in my rolling machine. One of the prettiest sights we saw was the rambling roses o’er the rustic rails at Robinson Park. There was beauty here, beauty there, beauty, beauty, everywhere!

Miss Flora’s heart is a cozy corner, and one feels secure and welcome to discuss a wide range of topics; and so we did!

I ran into Jackie Covington the other day. She plays the piano for Coldwater Congregational Church. When she was attending First Baptist, she would sing a solo once in awhile. One of her solos was so moving that I wondered if I could ever hear better!

Speaking of excellent solos, I hear tell that Paula Sue Duebelt, choral director for the Andalusia City Schools and choir director at First Methodist here, sang a glorious rendition of “The Holy City” on Palm Sunday. Gentle reader, make sure you and yours hear this stained-glass wonder of a song as often as you can.

Saturday a week ago I drove over to Greenville to eat with Mrs. Gotrocks at the Cracker Barrel. I noticed on the way that the bypass around Georgiana is being paved and is almost connected to the road, leading up to McKenzie Hill.

Also eating in the Cracker Barrel were Kendra Bolling, her husband Lee, and their little girl, Kenleigh. The family had driven up from Brantley to celebrate Kendra’s birthday April 9. Kendra is a copy editor for The Star-News.

Also seen at the C.B. were Merellee Robinson and her mother Mellodee Robinson, who had driven down from Montgomery to eat with Merellee’s grandparents, Bobby and Merle Hill from Andalusia. Merellee, who attended the Andalusia High School at one time, is working in theatre.

Seen at Tabby D.’s April 6 at the Friday-night, seafood buffet, there to celebrate Edna Goodson’s birthday, were her sons, Mickey and Gary, Gary’s wife, Ann, their daughter, Nicole, Nicole’s pretty, little daughters, Catherine and Caroline, Edna’s brother, Jessie Wiggins, Edna’s brother, Del Wiggins from Wiggins Crossroads between here and Opp, and his wife, Shirley.

Miss Edna was presented with gifts, cards, and a store-bought, birthday cake. The staff at Tabby D.’s turned out and sang her a hearty “Happy Birthday,” too!

As the old folks used to say, “A good time was had by all.”

Seen, also, at Tabby D.’s were Sammy and Bobbie Brown, their daughter Lee, Lee’s husband, Alan Watkins, and their son, Turner.

Another table at Tabby D.’s grouped Charles and Sandra Grantham, their son, Chris of Birmingham, his wife Renell, and their son, Garrett.

At yet another table were found Don and Cheryl Cotton, their son, Chase, his wife LeAnne, and their children, Savannah and Crews.

A little bird told me that Katie Romero is running a fine restaurant, the Mossy Grove Schoolhouse, on the Elba – Troy Highway. She’s open Monday – Saturday nights from 5 p.m. till …. Mollie (Simmons) Riley says, “Wonderful food! Great hospitality! You need to try it!”

Colonel Covington at the last meeting of the Andalusia Lyceum stated, “I feel no loyalty to a government that murders babies, perverts marriage, passes unread legislation, lives beyond its means, and insists upon and glorifies sin.”

The Murals Committee of our town met April 5 in City Hall to discuss the latest mural, one on early schools in Covington County, intended for the wall at Dairy Queen.

Pat Palmore, chairlady, opened with prayer.

Wes Hardin of Dothan, the muralist who has painted all of our murals thus far, shared sketches with committee members, Robert Anderson, Willie Thomas, Mary Lee Howard, Nancy Robbins, Elaine Manning, Hazel Griffin, David Fuqua and Joe Wingard.

Carlene (Adams) Anderson and Myrene (Moore) Henley, beloved members of the team at The Andalusia Star-News, were honored with a luncheon April 5, their last day. Carlene retired, and Myrene took a new job.

The staff served a buffet of lemon-pepper chicken, dressing, green salad, pasta salad, butter beans, rice-and-broccoli casserole, and Dean’s chocolate cake. The blessing was worded by Jeff Moore, circulation editor.

Editor Michele Gerlach presented a pretty speech and gift certificates to both. Myrene’s was for her favorite eatery, the Red Lobster. Carlene’s was to All Is Well Health Store.

Carlene said, “This is the nicest group of people you can find” and “I had the best job in the house!”

Carlene, who composed classified ads and ad pages, coordinated advertising in Andalusia, Troy, Greenville, Luverne, Brewton and Atmore.

As of March 22 she had worked nine years at The Star-News.

She lives on a farm in Red Level with her husband Mike or “Dufus.” They have two children, Shana Bascombe, and Michael, deceased, and two grandsons. They attend Bethany Baptist.

Carlene said that her job was “getting in the way of her having fun.” She is looking forward, enthusiastically, to more travel and gardening.

The staff said they will miss Carlene’s homemade, cinnamon rolls.

Carlene’s Mike, a Navy man, moved all over the place. Of course, Carlene followed, moving every three years or so.

She worked everywhere they went.

Her first job – pre-Mike – was for l7 years with The Sun News in Myrtle Beach, S.C. Then came three years with The News Record in Wyoming; three years with The Daily Press in Newport News, Virginia; and a half-year with The News Journal in Pensacola.

There were also government jobs at Saufley Field at Pensacola and one with a print shop in Maine.

“I like to see what’s around the corner – what’s down the road,” explained Carlene.

Mike retired from the Navy in l999 and enjoys his cows, peacocks, goats, chickens, donkeys, and stock.

Myrene, receptionist and file clerk for The Star-News, had been with our hometown paper since 1994, some 18 years.

The widow of Woodrow Henley, she was married 37 years, losing Mr. Henley, a supervisor at Alatex, in l986.

Myrene has a son Rickey, a daughter Cathy, three grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.

She worked 44 years at Alatex and around 10 years at the Little Kitchen, a locally famous cafeteria, now gone.

Like Carlene, Myrene lives on a farm.

“This is like my family here,” she said of the newspaper staff. “I’m going to miss it!”

Myrene is a member of Oakey Ridge Baptist.

One of her great loves in life is to dance.

The Covington Rifles camp (chapter) of the Alabama Sons of Confederate Veterans met April 5 in the Dixon Memorial of the public library for their monthly meeting.

Sir Francis McGowin, commander, presided and provided a buffet of refreshments, sent by his wife, Ann.

John Allen Gantt, chaplain, worded the invocation.

Derek Davis led in pledges to the flags.

Larry Shaw led in “Dixie” as all stood.

The men had looked forward to a program on the l4th amendment, presented by Rick Boswell, an enthusiastic member; and were saddened and shocked to learn from his son that Mr. Boswell had died, unexpectedly, Sunday night prior, of a heart attack.

Sir Francis filled in at the last minute with a review of the battle at Shiloh, Tenn., which happened 150 years ago that week.

Sir Francis said that men from Covington County fought at Shiloh.

He mentioned the expression, “seeing the elephant,” which means experiencing battle first-hand.

Curtis Hampton Thomasson, a former commander, was recognized for his honor as a “fellow,” given by his club, Civitan.

Sir Francis announced the upcoming state “reunion” (assembly, or convention) of the SCV June 8 – 10 in Guntersville State Park, Ala., and the national “reunion” July 12 – 15 in Murphreesboro, Tenn.

Posters, remembering the Sesquicentennial of the War Between the States, were distributed.

Sir Francis reminded members that April is Alabama Confederate History Month, as recognized by the Governor and Board of Education.

A visitor, Hank Roberts, a Baptist minister, asked about interest in organizing a “round table” to meet periodically and discuss the War. He said there is one in Huntsville with 650 members and one in Birmingham with 300.

Attending were Jimmy Mott, Jimmy Cobb, Sir Francis McGowin, Larry Lee, Ken Reeves, Joe Wingard, Derick Davis, Josh Lee, Larry Shaw, Hank Roberts, Chip Adams, Curtis Thomasson and John Allen Gantt, who dismissed the camp with prayer.

The Covington County Education Retirees Association (retired teachers) of the Alabama Education Association met Wednesday morning, April 4, in the civic room of the Covington County Bank.

Bank President Wem Mellown welcomed the CCERA.

Barbara Pilotte and Mark Chambers of the CCB also welcomed the retirees and presented a program on the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).

The Civic Room in the bank had been decorated in matching, Easter colors by Joy Norris, who coordinated tablecloths, plates, napkins, and cups, and used potted tulips for centerpieces, which were later given as door prizes.

A buffet, courtesy of CCB, was enjoyed after the program – fried chicken, butter beans, mashed potatoes and gravy, rolls, peach cobbler and tea.

Sharon Dye, vice-president and incoming president, presided. President Allen Miller was absent because of a doctor’s appointment.

An Easter devotional, “Christ Arose,” was given by Geraldine Boothe of Opp, followed by a prayer.

Secretary Gayle Weeks shared the minutes.

Treasurer Kay Cassady presented her report.

Committee reports followed.

The much-admired, retired teacher, Harriet Scofield of Opp, who died recently, was remembered.

A discussion of charter schools broke out.

A memorial to Virginia Shakespeare of Church Street School was authorized.

New officers were scheduled to be installed at the May 2 meeting, the last of the academic year, at 11 a.m. in the Opp Chamber of Commerce. Members were asked to take dishes for a “pot-luck” buffet.

Officers for 2012 – 2014 are Sharon Dye, president; Peggy Mobley, vice-president; Glenda Presley, secretary; and Kim Dyess, treasurer.

A report was given by Kay Cassady of the annual, state meeting of the Alabama ERA in Birmingham April 3 at the Grand Conference Center, attended by Kay Cassady, Geraldine Boothe, Allen and Marlene Miller and Peggy Mobley, twice the state president of AEA, and twice the vice-president.

Completing service reports were Carolyn Davis (legislative- committee chairlady), Gaylen Sims, Rosalyn Wright, Lucy Conner, Gwendolyn Jessie, Elaine Chavers, Kim Dyess, Earl and Dot Jones, Evelyn Larrigan (publicity chairlady), Tubby Hall, Kay Cassady, Jerri Stroud (nominating chairlady), Gayle Weeks, Geraldine Boothe, Sharon Dye and Joe Wingard.

The afternoon of Easter Sunday I was a guest for a garden party at the home of Paul and Donna Wingard in Camden in Wilcox County.

Paul and Donna had added onto their house since last year and sported a large, covered deck, a large patio, and beautiful landscaping. The house and yard, decorated for Easter in a hundred ways, looked like a scene in Southern Living.

On my drive over I passed through the villages of Awin, Pine Apple and Oak Hill, and some of the streets of Camden, which is filled with lovely, old homes, churches, and public halls.

The drive from Greenville, with its cloverleaf of Knock-Out roses, along 10-W, to Camden offers idyllic scenes, such as a field filled with thousands of yellow wildflowers and Gaines Ridge, the antebellum house, now a restaurant.

As I drove, I noted old chinaberry trees in purple bloom, rarely seen anymore.

The Wingards’ yard was a-bloom with oxalis, petunias, begonias, daylilies, and roses, dotted with birdhouses, potted plants, tables and chairs, patio umbrellas, window boxes, a columned porch with ceiling fans and wicker swings, benches, and bird baths.

I enjoyed sitting on the wicker, porch swings, supported by stuffed pillows, watching the butterflies flutter in the sun of a perfect day and the children hunt for Easter eggs after lunch – and what a lunch! It was a cornucopia of culinary delights!

The buffet included dressing, fried chicken, stuffed pork, ham rolls, Sister Schubert’s rolls, rutabagas, sugared carrots, squash casserole, butter beans, white peas, green salad, stuffed eggs, broccoli casserole, pickled okra, dumplings, homemade pickles, cupcakes, cakes, pies, candies, lemonade, colas and much else.

Conversation turned to a white hummingbird, certainly a rarity, that had been seen at a feeder in the yard. Other birds were seen then and there, zooming about, helping to make a picture of the house and yard.

Attending were Chris and Shirley Russell, Henry and Gretchen Mann, Donald and Pat Jackson, Donald and Wendy Jackson, Shirley Betros, Jim Gould, Arlie and Rachel Watkins, Owen and Bonnie Guff, Bobby and Sheila Wells, Cassie Jackson, Cherry Jackson, Allison Divine, Dale and Cindy Woodward, Cole Allen Woodward, Ken and Peggy Orr, Daryl and Tina Cleworth, Skyar Cleworth, Katelyn Cleworth, Sherry Woodward, Claire Woodward, Kyle Woodward, Jason and Stephanie Ledbetter, Logan Ledbetter, Mallory Ledbetter, Eli Ledbetter, Donnie Hutto, Robin and Nolla Bradfield, Shawn and Brandy Bradfield, Gage Bradfield, Tommy and Robin Moore, Riley Moore and Buddy and Jeanette Niles.

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.

Please consider watching a new film of The Mystery of Edwin Drood on public television April 15 on Masterpiece Theatre, in honor of its author, Charles Dickens, whose birth 200 years ago many are remembering this year. This was the novel Dickens was writing when he died; so it will always remain a true mystery. He left no ending. Like many others, I have written my ending to the novel, trying to guess how Dickens would have ended it. To tell the truth, Dickens may not have known himself. He may have changed his mind before concluding the final chapter. I am interested, particularly, in seeing how the makers of the film will imagine the ending.

Last Sunday night a new film of Dickens’s Great Expectations was shown. It was excellent except that it took liberties with the original in a number of ways.

This year is 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 1582, Andalusia, AL 36420.

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

Federal troops on Tybee Island, Georgia, captured Fort Pulaski in Savannah harbor. Fort Pulaski was there to protect Savannah.

The South, bit by bit, was losing its grip on Tennessee.

The South’s ironclad, Merrimack, seized three small, merchant ships of the North.

A group of 21 Federals, led by James Andrews, a Northern spy, penetrated the Confederate lines and stole a Southern locomotive, the General, in Big Shanty (later called Kennesaw), Ga. Then they fled north. Confederates aboard another locomotive, the Texas, chased the Federals north, captured them, and retook the General. The General is on display today in Kennesaw, Ga., according to Jeff Moore. Walt Disney in 1956 made a film with Fess Parker about the great locomotive chase. Some of the Federals, who were executed, became the first recipients of the Medal of Honor, Jeff told me.

The Siege of Yorktown, Va., continued. This was part of the Federal Virginia Peninsular Campaign to capture Richmond, the Confederate capital, from the south.

Remember to buy Sesquicentennial and Mark Twain stamps.

Congratulations to Betty Copeland for correctly identifying the long-unidentified mysterian – Louise Vickery, the wife of Byron Vickery, long-time business manager for The Star-News. Louise kept her windows at the old newspaper location on Dunson Street filled with African violets

The new cluegram follows: He lost his teeth in the World War.

Birthdays this week are those of William Hazlitt, an English essayist, and Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States.

Hazlitt wrote the best essay I have ever read, “On the Feelings of Immortality in Youth.”

General Lee surrendered April 9, 1865, at Appomattox, Va.

Noah Webster published his dictionary in 1828. It is still the standard.

Do not confuse Noah with Daniel Webster, the famous senator from Massachusetts.

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

Fare thee well.