Mrs. Grundy sees, tells all

Published 1:00 am Saturday, July 21, 2012

Peeping through my Venetian blind, I saw the Covington sisters, Miss Cora, Miss Dora and Miss Flora, all headed my way. We had agreed to shell peas in my little home today – and to shell out some gossip, too.

For a belated Fathers’ Day celebration Wayne and Lenora Johnson motored to Applebee’s in Pensacola, Fla., one of Wayne’s favorite eateries. They were joined by their daughter, Suzanne Simmons, who motored over from Mobile Bay, and their son, Brooks, who drove over from Tallahassee, Fla. As the old editors used to write, “A good time was had by all.”

Seen at Tabby D.’s for the Friday-night buffet were Rita Young, Willie and Emma Locke, Willie and Thelma Thomas, Kenny and Gwen Lee, Buddy and Beth Wilkes and Thagard and Linda Colvin.

Also seen at Tabby D.’s were the 12 members of the Supper Club, all members of either Mobley Creek or Hopewell Baptist churches.

Established in September of 2008, the club of six couples are Jerry and Carolyn Wilson, Rufus and Marie Armstrong, Jimmy and Bertie Smith, Charles and Shirley Watson, D. C. and Lil Lambert and Marc and Joyce Godwin.

The club usually meets in homes. The host provides meat and beverage. Guests take side dishes. This sighting in public was only the second time the club has eaten out instead of in a member’s home.

The couples rotate turns as host and meet the second Friday of each month.

Seen at David’s Catfish were Clayton and Barbara Bryant and their son, Clint.

Seen at the Piggly-Wiggly “deli” for lunch were Robert and Sheila Williams, Mark Murphy, Jean (Carter) Fuqua and her son David, Jenny Pitts, Sammy Glover and Raymond Worley.

Mr. Murphy has recently returned from a tour of Europe.

Mr. Glover and I discussed the late Robert Moseley of Florala, who served as superintendent of the Andalusia City Schools for two years. Mr. Moseley was hired to put the school system on a firm, financial footing, and did so. In doing so, though, he proved unpopular with those who did not get what they wanted. Mr. Glover and I both expressed our admiration for his financial discipline. I found Mr. Moseley admirable because one knew where he stood with him and always received an honest, brief, and direct answer to questions.

If you like to sing the old hymns, join others of like heart at one of the following: the first Friday of each month in Samson Community Center, the second Friday in the Opp Adult Activity Center, the third Friday in East Highland Baptist Church in Andalusia, and the fourth Friday in Enon Baptist, all between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m., with a variety of song leaders and pianists.

All are welcome.

While perusing Seasons, the periodic magazine of Samford University, I came across a two-page, colored feature on our own “Sister Schubert” Barnes, known all over for her successful business of rolls.

Sister had been invited to speak to the School of Business at Samford.

How fortunate we Dimpletonians are to have such a beautiful and wholesome, Christian lady associated with our town.

The Covington sisters and I stopped our shelling long enough to have tea. I served up finger sandwiches, some, sliced cucumbers, and others, chicken salad.

As we ate, I shared that this year is the 250th anniversary of the sandwich, named for the English Earl of Sandwich, who requested that meat between bread be brought him so that he wouldn’t have to leave his gaming table.

We raised our teacups in a toast to the Earl.

So do you, gentle reader.

Colonel Covington, speaking at the Lyceum, had some remarks about State Rep. Alvin Holmes, who disapproves of changing the name of the Rosa Parks Avenue Branch Library to the Bertha Pleasant Williams Branch Library, after Montgomery’s first black librarian at a public library.

Said the Colonel, “I wish that Mr. Holmes had been as upset when Cleveland Avenue was changed to Rosa Parks Avenue. Cleveland Avenue had both historical and sentimental importance to many. I don’t believe in taking away one honor in order to give honor to another. Think of a new way to honor someone without ‘robbing’ another.”

Last week, the Portly Gentleman told of his trip to the annual state meeting of the Alabama Sons of Confederate Veterans at Guntersville State Park on Sand Mountain in North Alabama. While in that “neck of the woods,” he spent the night at Gorham’s Bluff in nearby Pisgah, Jackson County, Alabama.

He will speak now of Gorham’s Bluff.

“Some time ago my former pastor’s wife, Ann (Mrs. Harrell) Cushing, asked if I had ever heard of Gorham’s Bluff. I hadn’t. Ann and her three daughters, Charlotte, Jama and Connie, had stayed there for a treat. Ann praised it highly. Later I saw a one-page feature on Gorham’s Bluff in Southern Living. I tucked the name into a corner of my brain; and when I learned that the state SCV would meet in North Alabama, I looked at a map to see if Gorham’s Bluff were close by. It was about an hour’s drive from Guntersville State Park; so, when the state meeting ended Sunday morning, I drove over to spend the afternoon, night, and Monday morning at Gorham’s Bluff.

“Don’t ask me how to get there. One can’t get there; but, if he does, he doesn’t want to leave.

“The ride over on Alabama 227 and County Road 67 (Sauty Road) was beautiful.

“I drove along narrow lanes, made shady by emerald tunnels of o’er-arching trees, lined with wildflowers, especially Queen Anne’s lace, thousands upon thousands, mountain fields, farms, gardens, homes, both humble and grand, boulders, the Tennessee River on my left, with fish camps, piers, fishermen, corn ‘as high as an elephant’s eye,’ mountains, and ‘water, water, everywhere’ – man cannot count the beauty God has made.

“Of course, I eventually got lost. I can’t cross a street without getting lost. Stopping at a gas station, I was asking for directions when a lady overheard me. She and her husband were on their way to Gorham’s Bluff and suggested I simply follow them. I did.

“God looks after me.

“Arriving about noon, I was much impressed with Gorham’s Bluff.

“I thought Gorham’s Bluff was a bed-and-breakfast. It is much else.

“I found a planned community on Sand Mountain, high on a bluff, overlooking the Tennessee River, with the Appalachian Mountains, stretching off, range after range.

“The still-growing neighborhood had a dozen or so streets, some lined with private cottages and mini-mansions. Many streets ended abruptly at a surrounding wall of woods. There were no distracting wires and poles. All was neat and orderly. The charming cottages, most, two-story, looked like storybook houses and reminded me of Seaside in Florida. I found out, later, that, indeed, the cottages had been modeled after those at Seaside; and the community itself, after the Chautauqua village in New York State.

“I drove around the small village over and over. Most of the developed lots had cottage gardens. There were public areas, too – a fitness center, post office, welcome center, the old Pisgah School (relocated there), a chapel/meeting house, offices, apartments, pool, lake, barbecue pit, picnic areas, a large tree house and trails.

“The Lodge, atop Gorham’s Bluff, was the grandest building in the community. It stood above a sheer wall of stone, overlooking the Tennessee, and had been named for Billy Gorham, an old settler.

“The Lodge is a large, white, wooden structure, completed in 1995. It stands three stories with double porches with railings on the front and back, 10 square columns supporting each porch. Three gables top the roof. The central one is made of glass, like a small house, from which one can observe in the distance the magnificent, vast view of the Tennessee River and mountains.

“Rockers line the porches.

“Behind the house is a level lawn, dotted with Dutch clover. It drops suddenly as one approaches the stone wall of the bluff. The sudden drop took my breath away.

“To one side of the lawn is an amphitheatre of wood, built among boulders, jutting over the bluff.

“On the other side is a fanciful pavilion where one can take in the view. It has been the site for many a wedding and sits atop ‘the Big Rock,’ a local landmark where picnics have been enjoyed by generations.

“The view, I repeat, is vast – the expansive valley, below and beyond, seems large enough to hold all the world.

“I was greeted at the Lodge by Thelda (Freeman) Arnold, whose sister, Linda (Mrs. Ronald Rice), lives in Andalusia.

“Thelda, a gracious hostess, gave me a tour of the house. There were, downstairs, a dining room, parlor with piano, and library, with a guest pantry, stocked with food and drink for the taking.

“The second floor houses four rooms, each named for a local family. The third floor houses two rooms.

“Mine, the Satterfield, on the second floor, had a four-poster bed (one of those nine-pillow beds), library, sitting area, fireplace, ceiling fan, and bathroom in white tile with a whirlpool tub. The bed was so large that, the next morning, I had to hail a taxi to get to the side.

“Thelda served me coffee on the back veranda, setting my table with cloth, silver tray with cream pitcher, coffee pot, belle terra cup and saucer, and potted flowers, with a blueberry muffin, to boot.

“I walked over the lawn and explored the amphitheatre and pavilion; then, settled into an Adirondack chair near the edge of the bluff for half an hour. The sky was overcast; the wind was cool; it felt good; and I tried my hand at a poem, ‘Gorham’s Bluff,’ which I later copied into the guest book in my room.

“Gorham’s Bluff is the dream of Miss Dawn McGriff, a lover of art, reared in Pisgah, who found a world of art in Atlanta, and brought her dream home in the form of this planned community.

“Leaving the edge of the bluff, I explored the Lodge, climbing up to the glass gable.

“I drove over the community, stopping at the chapel and walking out to the tree house, picking a few blackberries on my way. Rain chased me back to the Lodge.

“My room had a private balcony with rockers and table. I sat a long time, enjoying the coolness and the view, which reminded me of the Lake District in England; then, soaked in the whirlpool.

“Resting in my room, snug in one of those over-sized bathrobes, I tried my hand at another poem, ‘No Writer Writes the Perfect Poem.’

“Going down for dinner, I found 29 guests, gathered to celebrate the 40th anniversary of a couple whose three daughters were giving their parents an anniversary banquet and a night at the Lodge. Each girl had been married at Gorham’s Bluff.

“Being the only other, over-night guest, I was served apart from the banquet at a private table on the bluff-side porch. A personalized menu was printed just for me with my name and a four-course meal listed. A private waiter was assigned to my table, Dylan Bain, a junior at Pisgah High School.

“My table, laid with cloth, centered with begonias and candle, was appointed with cloth napkin, three forks, knife, butter knife and bread plate, teaspoon, soup spoon, and water glass.

“Soft, soothing music played in the background.

“The first course was corn chowder, served in a wide-brimmed soup dish, atop a serving plate cushioned with a doily.

“The second course was a green salad.

“The third course was filet mignon with potatoes and green beans.

“The last course was mixed berry cobbler, with coffee.

“Before bedtime, I sat on my balcony and enjoyed the stormy weather as long as I could. The dark, rain, and cold finally nudged me indoors – ah! gusts of rain, howling winds, spooky weather – a good night to sleep. I thought of that old line, ‘Oh, how the wind doth blow!’

“There were no television sets in the rooms, but plenty to read and house stationery for writing.

“With morning I waddled downstairs for breakfast. The only other guests in the dining room were the anniversary couple from last night. We fell to talking; and they turned out to be Gary and Kathy Carlyle of nearby Henager. They, too, like me, had come from the SCV state meeting at Guntersville State Park. Indeed, Gary was the newly elected commander (president) of the Alabama SCV; and I had heard him make his stirring acceptance speech the Saturday before; only, I had not recognized him. I couldn’t believe this happenstance!

“Both Gary and Kathy are retired educators and taught math. Kathy taught middle school. Gary taught 35 years, l9 and a half as a principal. Both are from Sand Mountain. One of their sons-in-law is Wes Long, state representative for District 27.

“Our tables, spread with cloths, were centered with yellow roses and white mums. Coffee was served on a silver tray. The chef, a professional, took our orders at table. A bread plate with its own knife assured me of the quality of all.

“After breakfast I headed for ‘the Dimple of Dixie.’”

Thank you, Portly Gentleman, for your report.

The celebration of the 200th birthday of Charles Dickens, English novelist, continues.

The 100th anniversary of the birth of the movie cowboy, Roy Rogers, born Nov. 5, continues.

The 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 continues.

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.

The Southern ironclad, Arkansas, successfully engaged Federal vessels on the Mississippi. President Lincoln signed into law the provision for freedom of slaves coming into Federal jurisdiction from outside the Union. Confederate Colonel John Hunt Morgan won a victory against Northern troops in Cynthiana, Ky. A few days later his Raiders were dispersed by the Federals.

Remember to buy Sesquicentennial and Mark Twain stamps.

The missionary couple in Valdosta, Ga., are Clay and Carrie Thomasson, identified by her mother, Carolyn Turner.

This week, I’ll turn the tables and tell you, gentle reader, the mysterians – Holly, Monty and Willow. Now tell me who they are.

Recent birthdays are those of Rembrandt, Dutch painter; Clement Clark Moore, American author of “The Night Before Christmas;” Isaac Watts, English hymn writer, who also wrote the popular children’s poem, “How Doth the Little Bee,” promoting the virtue of industry; William Makepeace Thackeray, English novelist; Francesco Petrarch, Italian poet; and Ernest Hemingway, American novelist, a favorite of Amy (Russell) Spurlin.

One might want to read more about Petrarch. He influenced those of us in Western society tremendously.

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

Fare thee well.