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

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 28, 2012

Peeping through my Venetian blind, I saw in the distance a field of Indian cane, waving in the sunny breeze. Along the lane nodded Queen Anne’s lace, verbena, and primroses. Honeysuckle twined about a rustic fence.

This past week has witnessed winds more suitable to March and low temperatures more fitted to fall.

The Country Folks restaurant in Florala, I’m told, has closed its doors. I’m sorry to hear that.

Here in the “Dimple of Dixie” the Verdict Restaurant on the Golden Square has done the same.

The Dairy Queen’s little bed of snapdragons looks really nice. Thanks, D.Q., for the extra effort.

Seen at Mama T.’s Tuesday for lunch were James and Era Andrews, Glen Cook, Jeremy McMath, Chase Cotton and Russell Holland.

I asked Era about her children and learned that her grandson, David Andrews, is playing center for the University of Georgia in Athens.

Seen at David’s Catfish House for supper lately were Byrom and Bobbie Lambert.

In Montgomery last weekend, I attended a matinee at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival. It was a windy day, and youths on the park grounds were flying kites; others were picnicking with blankets laid before them.

The play I saw, The 39 Steps, is based on perhaps the most famous mystery novel in Britain, this side of Agatha Christie.

The novel by John Buchan, made into a film by Alfred Hitchcock, was adapted to the stage by Patrick Barlow.

I haven’t laughed so much in a month of Sundays.

Four actors played all parts in a slapstick spoof of the mystery novel.

The performance, along with the simplest of props, was clever, corny, fun and hilarious.

At the end the audience gave a standing ovation, and the actors turned and applauded the appreciative audience for its participation in the play.

Gentle reader, there’s still a chance to see this production by mid-May, along with Travels with My Aunt and three by Old Bill, as Lester Hamiter used to call Shakespeare when Lester was a senior in the Andalusia High School – The Merry Wives of Windsor, Henry VIII, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

While in Montgomery I also attended the annual Robert E. Lee High School Hall of Fame banquet Friday night, April 20, in the high-school cafeteria.

Some 18 were inducted, including 13 alumni, 2 faculty and 3 special honorees. Their names will be added to a “wall of fame” in the main hallway of the school.

Each was given a statuette of General Lee, based on the statue, standing on the Lee campus.

A 67-page booklet featured pictures of the inductees (in youth and now), biographies, inductees by year (since 1994), the program, history of the school, alma mater, emcees, committee members, memorials and tributes.

At the banquet I ran into Tom and Nell McGilberry. She’s a cousin to Roy Windham, our retired postmaster, and was named for his mother. Tom and Nell mentioned a friend-in-common, Miss Marion Bumpers of Grove Hill, perhaps the best-loved educator in Alabama.

I sat at table with Roy and Lynn Parker, now retired to Auburn. They have twice been residents of Andalusia.

Roy and I were in the first grade together. He was trouble.

Roy, an inductee to the Hall of Fame in years past, is well loved and the source of much fun. He was teased by the emcee that night for giving the longest thank-you speech in the history of the Hall of Fame, some 23 minutes.

Also there was Janice (Goode) Cruce, Lee Class of 1960, the widow of Billy Cruce, a Baptist minister in Tallahassee.

Janice and I grew up in Morningview Baptist Church, Montgomery. For the Hall-of-Fame weekend, Janice was houseguest of the gracious Mrs. Franklin Parker, one of the most elegant ladies in Montgomery’s history. The three of us met for worship Sunday morning at Morningview Baptist, joining Joan Chafin, who with her husband, the much-respected Coach Jim Chafin, had been at the banquet Friday night.

Janice’s husband, I understand, pastored the church, Thomasville Road Baptist, which our Benny and Betty Gay once attended in Tallahassee, Fla. When Benny and Betty lost their spouses, they were introduced by their pastor, Billy Cruce, and eventually married.

Janice has an older sister, Frances, who lives in Atlanta. Their parents, Abram and Lois Goode, were the perfect Christian couple when I was growing up. After I moved to Andalusia, Mr. Goode told me that he had selected the design for our post office on East Three-Notch.

The banquet meal was a buffet of roast, rice, fried chicken, rolls, green beans, squash casserole, fruit, seven-layer salad, new potatoes and strawberry shortcake.

One of the inductees, James Bruce Baldwin, 1974, established during the banquet a scholarship to Auburn in memory of Miss Marion Marler, once a science teacher at Lee.

Inductee Marie (Little) Parma was in the first graduating class at Lee, 1956, with 144 members.

Kate Kiefer, 1968, emceed.

Brian Castleberry, a son of Dr. James Michael “Mickey” Castleberry, Class of 1961, beloved Baptist minister and committee member, paid a tribute to his father, who died Nov. 9.

Mickey was a good friend of mine and helped guide me through my youth and into college. He was one of the main influences upon my early life. I shall miss him.

Inductees were Echol Lee Nix, Julia (Long) Speights, James Bruce Baldwin, Charles “Sim” Byrd (also to be inducted into Troy’s Hall of Fame), Charles Milton Deas, Thomas W. Gowan, Constance L. Jackson, Sue Ann (Chalker) McMahan, James Flynn Mozingo, Marie (Little) Parma, William Thompson Rogers IV, Quinton Spencer Seay, Tonya Nelson Speed, Anne (Pepper) Spooner (niece to Claude Pepper of Florida), Fred Edward Weary, Jr., Jane (McSwain) Thrash, Ed Thrash, and Debby (Dendy) Scott (the “Shirley Temple of Morningview Elementary School”).

While in Montgomery I also attended the Alabama Book Festival in Old Alabama Town, downtown Montgomery on Saturday.

This is an annual fair to hear authors and buy their books.

It lasted l0 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Six areas were designated to sit and listen to writers with each speaking about thirty minutes, six or so taking turns at each location.

There were book displays, street vendors with food for sale, autograph areas, and activities for the children.

It was enough just to wander through the collection of old buildings, relocated to the area known as Old Alabama Town; but on top of that, there were all those authors and programs.

Little gardens were everywhere.

I especially enjoyed hearing Dr. Wayne Flynt, retired Auburn history professor, read from his memoir.

By great good fortune I had a few minutes alone with Mary Ann Neeley, Montgomery’s best-known historian today, during which time we discussed old St. Margaret’s Hospital, the Morningview plantation and names coming from it – Morningview Street, Morningview Elementary School, Morningview Baptist Church – and other Montgomery history.

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.

The celebration of the 200th birthday of Charles Dickens, English novelist, continues. I read that his works have inspired 320 films – so far.

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

This year is also the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812. Celebrations began this month on the Mississippi River in New Orleans with a display of tall ships.

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.

Union forces on the Mississippi River, especially those under David Farragut, closed in on New Orleans, determined to conquer it. Confederate forts surrendered, removing resistance to Union forces from the mouth of the Mississippi on up to New Orleans, which fell into Union hands, especially those of Union General Benjamin Butler (hiss! hiss!).

Remember to buy Sesquicentennial and Mark Twain stamps.

The cluegram for its third week is that he lost his teeth in the World War.

This week saw the birthday of William Shakespeare, said by many to be the greatest writer in the world’s history, following in the steps of Aristotle, then Virgil.

In honor of the Great Bard, I have “commissioned” an original Shakespearean sonnet:

“Oh, thou, the unearthed mine of seamless gold,

Apollo’s twin, whose ev’ry line is cast

In silver tones, dear echoes of the soul,

Whose words, encrust’ with jewels, forever last,

Thou clothier of thought in splendid gown,

Whose wardrobe spans the useages of time,

Oh, King of Verse and Reputation’s crown,

Successor to old Virgil’s art sublime,

Eternal Bard, and kind Ben Jonson’s theme,

Whose works, as that grey-mattered Milton wrote,

Were stories that declare more than they seem,

Oh, choir, which singest ev’ry golden note,

What heart but thine could ever understand

The nuances of life, the heart of man?”

Another recent birthday was that of William Gilmore Simms, the most important writer in the South prior to the War Between the States, a novelist, poet, short-story writer, essayist, editor, who, in the style of Sir Walter Scott of Scotland, lived a literary life on his plantation, Woodlands, in his native South Carolina.

This week also witnessed the birthday of Edward Gibbon, the English historian who wrote the most famous history in our language, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. From this history came the reasons for the fall of Rome, reasons which are compared to those causing America’s “fall.”

This week past has brought us, also, Confederate Memorial Day, on which ceremonies are attended, memorials decorated, and the past recalled.

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

Fare thee well.