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

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 6, 2012

Peeping through my Venetian blind, my eyes dwelt upon the sunlight, filtered through the plumes of the pampas grass in a corner of my garden.

Golden October and its idyllic days have arrived with golden aster, bitterweed, narrow-leafed sunflowers, abelia, both red and white cypress vines with their fairy lace, the Confederate rose and cotton, white beneath the sun.

I suppose the Confederate rose is also known as the cotton rose because, like cotton, it blooms white, pink and red.

Enjoying lunch at the Piggly-Wiggly “deli,” James Bristow and I fell to talking of the Greens, who run the food services near the Conecuh River. James knew them way back. They were his neighbors in Bullock County where Sidney Green ran a store known as Blue’s Stand – still open, by the way. The oldest son of the Greens, C. W., moved to Covington County and opened Green’s on the Conecuh.

James told me, in a different vein, that he wanted to be a baseball player when he was a boy; but he had three problems – he couldn’t hit the ball, he couldn’t throw the ball, and he couldn’t catch the ball!

Seen, reading the newspaper in a corner of the Piggly-Wiggly “deli” was Ab Powell.

Richard Pass, preacher, and teacher of the Baraca Class Sunday School, faithful in his service to the Lord Jesus Christ, turned 91 on Sept. 23. God, bless him.

Today, Oct. 6, is the 70th birthday of S. Daniel Shehan, retired to Savannah 10 years ago, one-time teacher of English at the Andalusia High School and local businessman here, also known for his talent as a musician (piano/organ), composer of more than 100 pieces of music.

I ran into Gloria Riley at the store the other day. She mentioned Kate Head, who had been my mysterian recently. Gloria remembered Kate for decorating and directing her wedding.

Seen at Green’s for the Sunday buffet were Gordon and Trudy Vickers, Mr. and Mrs. James Jones, Ed and Judy Buck, Mrs. Green, the matriarch of the Green family, herself, the faithful Jo Florence, Mr. and Mrs. Joe Ptomey, Judy Weant, Donnie Weant, Diane (Green), owner and the “Singing Hostess,” Bobby and Judy Scott, Evan “Tank” and Ophelia Merrill, his sister, Margaret “Peggy” Wright, Randy Walden, Mary Lee Goggins, Helen Philips, Walt and Hannah (Gantt) Merrell, and their three girls, Bay, Cape and Banks, all named for something to do with water.

Charles and Annette Rogers, their daughter, Charlotte, and friends, Ralph and Katherine Jones, motored to Louisville, Ky., recently to attend the National Quartet Convention. Mr. Jones preaches at Fairview Baptist near Enterprise. Charlotte teaches at W. S. Harlan here in Covington County. Annette and Charlotte both sing in the adult choir of the First Baptist Church here.

A happy belated birthday or “Birthday to Be” party was given by Irene (Davis) Butler in her home for some of her friends – Margaret Eiland, who has turned 95; Myrtle “Aunt Mutt” Boyette, who turns 95 Oct. 18, residing now in Savannah Terrace with plans to return home soon to Antioch; Sue (Bass) Wilson, who played the piano and led all in “Happy Birthday” (the party actually fell on her real birthday, Sept. 28); Joyce Leddon, Shirley Stokes, Vonceil Newman, Peggy Eiland and Robert Holley, who voiced the blessing.

Irene, always the gracious hostess, served chicken tenders, roast beef, baked ham, pineapple casserole, dressing, white gravy, chicken and dumplings, butter beans, collards, corn salad, potato salad and Italian cream cake.

Several, who were invited, could not attend.

The Covington County Education Retirees Association met Oct. 3 in the offices of the Covington County Schools on the Andalusia By-pass.

Sharon Dye, retired teacher, principal, and superintendent, presided at the monthly meeting.

Current county superintendent of education, Terry Holley, welcomed the retirees and provided a buffet of snacks, sweets, nuts and colas.

The attractive, clean, neat and orderly renovations in the offices impressed all in attendance.

Flu shots were offered to all as the program for the day.

Two new members were recognized, presented gifts, and asked to speak briefly of themselves. Barbara Reynolds taught 36 years at Opp and just retired from four years at Troy. Rebecca Powell taught at Red Level for 34 years.

President Dye announced that there are 75,000 education retirees in Alabama and more than 600 in Covington County. Of the 600-plus, only 107 belong to CCERA.

Allen Miller presented a devotional and prayer.

Glenda Presley, secretary, read the minutes.

Kim Dyess, treasurer, shared his financial report.

A thank-you note from Straughn was read. The CCERA had given school supplies.

Committee reports were made with special reports by Peggy Mobley on scholarships and Johnnie Meeks on insurance.

Peggy Mobley, vice-president of CCERA, served twice as president of the Alabama Education Association, twice as vice-president of AEA, and as a teacher for 41 years.

Retired teachers come from the Covington County schools – Florala High School, Red Level High, Red Level Elementary, W.S. Harlan Elementary, Fleeta, Pleasant Home, Straughn Elementary, Straughn Middle School, Straughn High – and two city systems, Andalusia and Opp.

Some, but not all, attending were Glenda A. Presley, Larry Presley, Carolyn H. Davis, Ophelia Merrill, Barbara Linder, Earl Jones, Dot Jones, Lynda Powell, Peggy Mobley, Barbara Reynolds, Tubby Hall, Elaine Chavers, Johnnie Meeks, Dean Morris, Evelyn Larigan, Lucy Conner, Gwendolyn H. Jessie, Ethel M. Robertson, Linda Lucas, Elaine P. Johnson, Kim Dyess, Sharon Dye and Joe Wingard.

Here follows the first of an account by the Portly Gentleman of a trip he took to South Carolina the last week of September.

“I took I-65 north onto I-85 northeast, crossing the Chattahoochee River into Georgia, exiting at Newnan, to take 16 across country to I-20.

“Always I think of Curtis Thomasson when I come to Newnan because that’s where his beloved cousin, Margie Malloy, who wrote much of their family history, lived. Newnan is a fine city with a grand, old courthouse, stately churches, and grand, old homes.

“Along 16, I came to Griffin and Jackson. Griffin is a handsome town.

“As I drove along, I thought of how quickly I could drive across Georgia today in a car; whereas in the old days of wagon trains, it must have taken folks 40 forevers to get about. The modern highway system amazes me.

“The next town of any size was Monticello with its fine, old homes and dogwoods.

“When I arrived in Eatonton, I started looking for a place to stay the night. I thought of Don Lingle because his mother used to live in Eatonton; I think his brother still does.

“Eatonton has an attractive courthouse with a statue of Bre’r Rabbit on its lawn. The creator of Bre’r Rabbit, Uncle Remus, came from the mind of a native of Eatonton, Joel Chandler Harris, who was born and reared there. Harris moved off from Eatonton to Atlanta where he wrote for the Atlanta Constitution and rose to fame. He’s buried in Atlanta, and his house there is now a museum. The room he died in has been kept as it was the day he died.

“North of Eatonton I left 16 and turned up 44 toward I-20 and found a ritzy neighborhood around Lake Oconee, taking a room in the Lodge. My room looked right out onto the lake.

“Next door to the Lodge was a restaurant, the Bone Island Grill. This modern eatery had one large room with seven TV screens, both tables and booths, an inside bar, an extensive, outside, covered area with outside dining and bar, a long side porch with rockers, and a view of the lake. Here I ate supper.

“The floor manager was River Rutherford, who was married in Donaldsonville (here I thought of Benny Gay, from Donaldsonville). Because of River’s name I told him about Walt and Hannah (Gantt) Merrell’s three girls, Bay, Cape and Banks.

“My entrée was a bacon-lettuce-and-fried green tomato sandwich.

“The next day I headed up 44 to I-20, passing swanky businesses, million-dollar homes, eateries, and shops – beautiful lake country and modern, trendy sights. If you have plenty of money, Lake Oconee is the place for you!

“Once on I-20 I headed along easily toward Augusta, passing exits to Sparta (poor, sad Sparta), Crawfordville (where remains the plantation of Alexander H. Stephens, vice-president of the Confederate States of America), and Washington (where Priscilla Greene, only daughter of our beloved Betty Greene, lives).

“Before reaching Augusta, Georgia’s second-oldest city, also built along the Savannah River like Savannah, the mother city of Georgia, herself, I came to the spot known as Grovetown, one-time home of Paul Hamilton Hayne, Southern poet.

“Grovetown means something to me because Hayne lived there in a humble home called Copse Hill. He was buried there, but his body was later moved to Augusta.

“Hayne came from a prominent and well-to-do family in Charleston. His family’s fine, old house in Charleston still stands. The War Between the States ruined him. He retreated to the country pines of Georgia to live out his literary life in poverty after the War.

“I drove about Grovetown, finding a street named for Hayne, finding the railroad tracks that used to pass below his house, but not finding the site where Copse Hill stood. The house is long gone. I have spoken in the past with the mayor and others about preserving the site where Copse Hill stood, marking off the foundation, adding an historical marker. Sadly, nothing yet has been done, as far as I know.

“Still, I make my little pilgrimage to the area, hoping.

“It was only a few minutes north to Augusta, where I turned off on Washington Street, thick with eateries, shops, and motels, and drove by the National Golf Club where the Masters golf tournament is played. Of course, I thought of our own Frank Moore, who loves golf.

“Washington led me downtown to Greene Street with its median of paths, benches, landscaping, and monuments.

“I drove almost the length of Greene, admiring its fine, old churches and homes.

“A few blocks away I found Magnolia Cemetery and paid my respects at the grave of Paul Hamilton Hayne. I sat at Hayne’s plot in the flittering shade and shine and had poetic thoughts. A gentle breeze moved the magnolia leaves above Hayne’s grave. Only the birdsong broke the silence.

“Hayne, born January l, l830, in Charleston, died July 6, l886, at Copse Hill. His wife and son both died in Augusta and are buried with him. I imagine they had his body moved to Magnolia from Georgia.

“The very next plot to Hayne is that of Richard Henry Wilde, an earlier Georgian poet.

“A few plots away in this “Poets’ Corner” of the cemetery lies James Ryder Randall, a poet born in Baltimore, who died in Augusta. He wrote the state song of his Maryland, “My Maryland,” sung to the tune of “Oh, Christmas Tree.” There is a full-length statue of Randall in Augusta.

“A visit to the graves of these three antebellum poets is a literary pilgrimage I take whenever I’m in Augusta.

“Back on Greene I passed a memorial to four poets associated with Georgia – Randall, Hayne, Sidney Lanier, and Abram Ryan, the last of whom lies buried in Mobile, Alabama.

“Continuing on 20, I came to Lexington, S.C., the home of my ancestors and relatives for over 250 years, since their arrival in America in Charleston in l753. Here I reserved a room for a few days and called on my cousin, Jo Driggers. We went out to eat supper at Fatz, part of a chain restaurant and a very good place to eat.”

Here we shall pause in the travels of the Portly One until another time.

The celebration of the 200th birthday of Charles Dickens, England’s greatest novelist, continues.

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

This year is also the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812; and, I think, the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Girl Scouts.

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 the last two weeks of 150 years ago. I am including the week I was absent.

President Lincoln suspended the writ of habeas corpus for those deemed guilty of discouraging volunteer enlistments, those resisting militia drafts, those guilty of any disloyal practice or those affording comfort to the Rebels.

President Lincoln also met with General McClelland at Harper’s Ferry.

A battle was fought at Columbia, Miss., and at Corinth, Miss., in which the South took the offensive. After the battle, though, the South retreated south; and the North followed.

Southern Gen. Braxton Bragg and his men conflicted with Northern General Buell in Kentucky.

Remember to buy Sesquicentennial and Mark Twain stamps. There are some new ones of the War of 1812, too, and the Girl Scouts.

The mysterian is Mrs. Hill Guy. Do you know anything about her?

The historical birthdays are those of William Holmes McGuffey and Thomas Nast.

McGuffey was the American author of a spelling book and several reading books, used by millions of school children to learn to read. The books also taught American values and exerted a positive influence upon American life for generations. I remember that a local attorney, William Albritton, wished that McGuffey readers might be used again in modern society. He thought they might help what ails the country.

Thomas Nast, a German-American, was the artist who created the modern image of Santa Claus as an adult with a round belly, red suit and cap, white whiskers, and fur trim. Nast also created the elephant as a symbol for the Republican Party and the donkey as a symbol for the Democratic Party.

Now, gentle reader, allow me to encourage each of us to be in his place of worship this weekend, Lord willing – like Charles and Caroline Ingalls, Mary, Laura, and Carrie.

Fare thee well.

Thank you for excusing me last week.