Mrs. Grundy: Oh those bare, November days!

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 17, 2012

Peeping through my Venetian blind, I looked out last Monday on a rainy world. Remember the dark clouds, the constant rain, the chill? It was a foretaste of winter. Tuesday, the sun came out – as promised – and a blue sky with it! Oh, what glory! I love these bare, November days!

The Covington County Education Retirees Association (retired teachers) met Nov. 7 in the library of Fleeta School (grades K-8; principal, Roger McLain).

The library tables were decorated with rustic runners, topped with hurricane lamps, fall leaves, nuts, pinecone-and-construction-paper turkeys, large persimmons and cotton bolls. Placemats had been made by the children.

President Sharon Dye recognized new members and those with lengthy membership. Earl and Dot Jones have been in the CCERA 27 years.

Geraldine Boothe of Opp presented a devotional and prayer.

Glenda Presley read the minutes.

Kim Dyess voiced the treasurer’s report, announcing 115 members.

A CCERA scholarship for a student training to be a teacher was discussed. A silent auction is planned for raising money for the scholarship.

State Senator Jimmy Holley and Representative Mike Jones were on hand to update the retirees on education finances and the Canfield Bill.

CCERA District 9 director, Nell Peters, also gave an update.

Allen Miller worded the blessing for a lunch there in the library, provided by Fleeta School and catered by the Opp I.G.A. – stuffed chicken breast and gravy, mashed potatoes, rolls, creamed corn, green beans, butter beans and apple dumplings.

Hosts were Sandra McLeod, Susan Blackstock, Lori Caldwell, Bethany Lott, Kendall Riley and Charles Williams.

Those reporting hours of community service were Lucy Conner, Linda Mellown, Evelyn Larigan, Earl and Dot Jones, Dean Morris, Linda Lucas, Elaine Chavers, Gwendolyn H. Jessie, Christine M. Wilson, Mary F. Bass, Peggy Mobley, Rebecca Powell, Jerri Stroud, Gayle Wells, Martha Jean Jones, Earl Kelley, Larry Sanders, Margaret Sanders, Geraldine Boothe, Larry Presley, Ethel M. Robertson, Allen Miller, Margie Thomasson, Barbara Reynolds, Sharon Dye, Ricky B. Bass and Joe Wingard.

The next meeting is set for Dec. 5 at the Opp Elementary School.

Seen at the Friday-night buffet at Tabby D’s were Greg and Jan White, Robert Lee Holley, Greg Caton, Don and Cheryl Cotton, their son Chase, and his children, Savannah and Crews, Judge Jerry Stokes, Jeanette ( Burke) Carroll, Gwen Bonner, Addie Simpson, Kenny and Gwen Lee, Sonny and Sue Ann Helms, Betty Traywick, the Neal King family, Jeff and Rosemary (Hudson) Mills, Ed and Judy (Ward) Buck, Judy’s brother, Charles Ward, and his wife, Jullianne (Floyd) from Dothan, and the Wards’ friends from Dothan, Don and Laura McMullan.

Lena Boswell, executive director of the Andalusia Housing Authority, and Doris Richardson, director of housing in Evergreen, recently returned from a fall workshop, sponsored by the Southeast Regional Council of Housing and set in Savannah, Ga. When not in class, they ate at the famous Mrs. Wilkes’s Restaurant and Paula Deen’s Lady and Sons Restaurant, tried the ferry, viewed the historic squares, churches, and parks, enjoyed the beautiful weather and walked River Street with its cobbled stones.

The ladies stayed in the Marriott Riverfront.

They also had time to visit with S. Daniel Shehan, who retired from Andalusia to Savannah ten years ago. Miss Boswell and Mr. Shehan used to work together in Andalusia for the federal job-training program.

Mr. Shehan welcomed the ladies into his home, took them to coffee, twice gave them mini-tours around Savannah, played his electric organ for them, explained his work with the disability program in Savannah, and presented his pet dog, Miss Emmie.

It was Miss Boswell’s first time in Georgia’s oldest city.

Seen for supper at Larry’s were Mr. and Mrs. George Kelley. George’s old boss, Hugh King, had recently died, which prompted me to ask George about his time with Mr. King.

George worked 42 years in the I.G.A. for Hugh King, and then nine years for the Piggly-Wiggly, a total of 5l years in the grocery business before retiring. He started out with Mr. King on River Falls Street when Mr. King bought Vernon Bell’s grocery there. For a time, Mr. King ran his business on River Falls and on South Three-Notch in a new building at the corner of Baker Street. Then, King’s I.G.A. was located only on South Three-Notch till its move to East Three-Notch where the Winn-Dixie had been housed. That’s where the I.G.A. was located when Mr. King retired.

By the way, the flanking vases of red roses, used last Sunday in the sanctuary of First Baptist, were from the funeral of Hugh King.

Mark Stewart, who used to work for the Methodists here, called the other night, wanting to know about the song sheets used by Mr. Shehan in his annual Christmas Carol sings, which went on for 25 years. I think Mark is planning a Christmas sing.

Mark lives now on his family’s farm in the very house where his mother was born on the outskirts of Nashville, Tenn.

His younger son, Scottie, an actor, lives on the farm with Mark but works at times in Birmingham.

Mark’s older son, Marcus, or “Skipper,” lives about 30 miles away with his wife and two girls. One is a sixth-grader; one is a freshman at the University of Tennessee.

Mark lost his wife about two years ago. She taught public school when the Stewarts lived in Andalusia.

A reception honoring Otis Corbitt, the new Baptist director of missions in our county, was attended Sunday afternoon, Nov. 11, in the Covington Baptist Association offices.

Mr. Corbitt and his wife welcomed visitors.

Round tables, covered in brown cloth, allowed eating spaces. Each table was centered with a small section of wood, cut from a tree’s branch or trunk, and made into a candleholder by a tea candle. Napkins were the colors of fall. Leaves were scattered about each candleholder.

A buffet was centered with an arrangement by Alan Cotton – a basket of fall colors, pumpkins, leaves and crotons.

Spread upon the table, supporting an overlay of green on brown, were petit fours topped with “leaves” made of sugar, nuts, cheese straws, mints, and punch made of white grape juice and ginger ale.

The decorations and food were arranged by Joyce (Teal) Sightler.

In a sweet moment last Sunday, Nov. 11, in the morning worship service at First Baptist, Judson Blackstock, associate pastor and educational director, baptized his own daughter, Hannah Grace Blackstock.

Also in church at First Baptist last Sunday, on Veterans Day, veterans in the congregation were asked to stand and be recognized. There followed one of the most prolonged rounds of applause in the history of the church.

Colonel Covington at a recent meeting of the Andalusia Lyceum quoted Benjamin Franklin as having said, “When the people find that they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic.” The Colonel said he believed that is what happened during the recent election for president.

Larry Shaw attended the Sacred Harp singing at Pilgrims’ Rest Primitive Baptist Church in Samson last Sunday. Larry said that the “sacred harp” is the human voice.

Dr. Fred Karthaus, pastor of First Baptist, said in his sermon last Sunday that Jesus was not a member of a political party although he rode a donkey and created the elephant.

Miss Cora Covington has invited me to Thanksgiving dinner at Covington Hall this coming Thursday. Her sisters, Miss Dora and Miss Flora, are helping. Her brother, the Colonel, usually has a table full of friends as well as family. I think our mutual friends, Miss Priscilla Primme, Mrs. Gotrocks of Greenville, Mr. Topper Propper, the Portly Gentleman, Clay Clyde Clump and Miss Birdie Purdie have also been invited.

I love Thanksgiving, even more than Christmas, because there is not all that preparation time and expense. Thanksgiving has become more of a religious time, too, quiet, prayerful, spiritual.

I love the attitude of gratitude.

I am already humming and singing Thanksgiving songs. There are five that help make Thanksgiving perfect.

The first starts “Over the river and through the wood.” Its name is “Thanksgiving Day,” written by Lydia Maria Child. Some think it’s a Christmas song, but it was written for Thanksgiving.

The next is “Bless This House,” a glorious solo that thanks God for His blessings upon the family.

A third is “Let All Things Now Living.”

The last are “Come, Ye Thankful People, Come” and “We Gather Together.”

It just doesn’t seem like Thanksgiving to me without those songs.

The Colonel always says the blessing. There are toasts. The Colonel reads from Psalms 65: ll – l3:

“Thou crownest the year with thy bounty; the tracks of thy chariot drip with fatness. The pastures of the wilderness drip; the hills gird themselves with joy; the meadows clothe themselves with flocks; the valleys deck themselves with rain; they shout and sing together for joy.”

The Portly Gentleman is already rubbing his hands together with thoughts of the menu – MAIN-you, as Grace Larson would have said.

Oh, the thought of all that bounty! Turkey and dressing and giblet gravy and cranberry sauce, English peas, buttery rolls such as Sister Schubert’s, stuffed eggs, pumpkin pie, sweet-potato pie, peach pickles, stuffed celery sticks, apple rings, parsnips, corn, cucumber pickles, ham, potato salad, green-bean casserole, chicken and dumplings, fried chicken, chicken casserole, tea, red-velvet cake, ambrosia, fruit salad, collards, turnip greens, chocolate cake such as Mrs. Deen’s, watermelon-rind preserves, such as Miss Grace used to serve at the Gables, beets, sausages, butter beans, garden peas, squash casseroles, clam chowder, rabbit, squirrel, fried bread, pecan pie, oysters, fish, you-name-it! Oh, yum! Yum! Yum!

Betty Mitchell, the “Travel Queen,” shared the following with me.

“Monday, Oct. 15, the senior adults of First Baptist Church – and others – traveled to Sevierville, Tenn., to the Celebrators Conference, hosted by Phil Waldrop Ministries. (This is a get-away time for Christians to enjoy good preaching and singing and to get renewed.)

“We stopped at the Pelham Cracker Barrel for breakfast on our way north and later arrived at our hotel, the Holiday Inn Express, for a three-night stay. After checking in, we were off to the Convention Center to hear great music, led by Charles Billingsley, and the teaching of God’s Word by Dr. David Jeremiah, founder of Turning Point, a thriving, broadcast ministry.

“Tuesday morning, after breakfast, we were off to hear Dr. Jeremiah again. His topic for the week was ‘God Loves You: He Always Has; He Always Will.’At 11 a.m., Karen Peck and New River performed.

“We departed for lunch at the Applewood’s Farm House Restaurant where their specialty is apple fritters and apple butter – delicious!

“Then we shopped in the gift shop and then were off to the outlet stores for some serious shopping. The ladies enjoyed the Alfred Dunner outlet, a clothing store.

“Then we were back to the convention center to hear Dennis Swanberg, America’s Minister of Encouragement. Greater Vision sang until 8:30 p.m. They were great. They are the most awarded trio in the history of Gospel music.

“Wednesday it was breakfast and then back to the convention center to hear singing and Dr. Jeremiah.

“We had ‘free time’ next, so we ate in Pigeon Forge at the Golden Corral and shopped in Gatlinburg at Mr. Table Cloth and Arts and Craft Show.

“I asked to stop at the Lodge Cast Iron Cookware Outlet. Then we stopped at Wendy’s for a frosty and burger.

“Then it was back to the convention center for a two-hour performance by the Gaither Vocal Band. A great time was had by all!

“Thursday we were up early, eating breakfast, and heading for home. We had lunch at the Cracker Barrel and stopped later at Durbin Farms in Clanton for some peach ice cream. Oh! How good!

“Kim Dyess was our driver, who did an outstanding job. Herb Carlisle was our tour coordinator, who also was outstanding. Everyone came home refreshed.”

Thank you, Miss Betty, for your delightful news. Here follows a list of those who went. They were Betty Bass, Irene (Davis) Butler, Jolene Boyington, Herb and Sue Carlisle, Martha Cordell, Kim Dyess, Cathy Gresham, Thelma Glisson, Joyce Gaines from Pensacola, Betty Knowles, Voncile Newman, Betty Reynolds, Barbara Teel, Gladys Trawick, Dorothy Waldrop, Juanita Windham, Rosalyn Wright and Kittye Wyatt.

The celebration of the 200th birthday of Charles Dickens, England’s greatest novelist, continues. Christmas always brings to mind his classic, A Christmas Carol. Someone has said that that little book has done more good than all the pulpits in the world.

We also continue to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 and 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 l582, Andalusia, AL 36420.

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

Captain Raphael Semmes sailed the Confederate steamer, Alabama, into the harbor at Martinique. Captain Semmes survived the War and is buried in the Catholic Cemetery in Mobile, Alabama. There is a fine statue of him on Government Street.

Remember to purchase stamps recalling the Sesquicentennial, Mark Twain, O’Henry, War of 1812, and Girl Scouts.

Does anyone have more to say about Mrs. Hill Guy?

Birthdays this week are those of Thomas Bailey Aldrich, American writer, and Robert Louis Balfour Stevenson, Scottish author.

Stevenson wrote in four genres – novels, poetry, short stories, and essays. His book of poems for children is perhaps the best known in our language – A Child’s Garden of Verses. Grandmothers, see that your grandchildren read from this book. Such books make nice gifts for birthdays, Christmas, and rewards for different accomplishments.

Stevenson’s novels are his best-known works and include Treasure Island with Long John Silver, the one-legged pirate, Jim Hawkins, the adventure-hearted boy, buried treasure, a deserted island, old Ben Gunn, and a good, ol’ pirate song, “Yo, ho, ho, and a bottle of rum.”

Stevenson also wrote the novels, Kidnapped, David Balfour (using his family name), and The Black Arrow.

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

Fare thee well.