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

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 24, 2012

Peeping through my Venetian blind, I stood, spell-bound, at the beauty of the Indian summer before me. Fall has a hush about it that calms the spirit.

Word comes that one of our hometown daughters, Emily (Albritton) Hill, will serve as hostess in her own home Dec. 1 for a tour of homes in Union, S.C.

In the December issue of Southern Living one can find a recipe for fruitcake cookies on page 10 by Jennifer Heichel of Andalusia. Congratulations!

Colonel Covington, speaking at the Andalusia Lyceum, said that we can have the Bible without the Constitution but we cannot have the Constitution without the Bible.

The Christmas tree on the Golden Square is beautiful, especially with all the presents around it – beautiful in the day and beautiful in the night. Those presents remind me that I’d better get busy, Christmas shopping.

Some churches around here place potted poinsettias in their church houses in memory or in honor of someone each Christmas season. I like that practice. It helps keep “green” (alive), as Dickens put it, the memories of those who have gone on before us.

People also place Christmas arrangements at the graves of beloved ones at this season.

Seen at the Mar-Be-Mart “deli,” up Highway 29 Sunday for lunch were five ladies from Bethany Baptist Church – Wilma Tillman, Merilee Brawner, Nancy Edwards, Madine Lee and Jeanette Huber.

During Sunday-School assembly in the Baraca Class of First Baptist last weekend, Erica Ziglar, a freshman at the Lurleen B. Wallace Community College, played her trumpet to the melody of “Fairest Lord Jesus,” accompanied by Martha (James) Givhan, pianist at the Ann Martin Memorial Piano. Erica’s tones sounded like melted gold – simply beautiful.

Also presenting special music during the Thanksgiving assembly for the Baraca Class was Sue (Bass) Wilson, who sang “Thank You, Lord” to taped music, accompanied by her four grandsons on the chorus, Hampton, Steadman, and Tucker Glenn and Brunson Wilson.

Larry Shaw, Baraca president, taught the Sunday-School lesson for the regular teacher, Richard Pass.

Seen at Tabby D’s for the Friday-night buffet were Judge Jerry Stokes, Robert Lee Holley, Luke Popwell and family, Don and Cheryl Cotton and Tom and Martha Steele.

Tom told me about E. O. Wilson, formerly of Brewton, a professor at Harvard and a winner of a Pulitzer Prize. Wilson has written a fascinating book on ants.

I enjoyed lunch at Tabby D’s with Herb and Sue Carlisle this past week. As I was leaving the restaurant, I ran into Shannon and Wynne (Wilson) Glenn, who were coming in with their eldest, Hampton, who had just turned 16 and passed his driver’s test. Congratulations, Hampton!

Gentle reader, did you see in the Nov. 10 issue of this paper the letter-to-the-editor entitled “Spicer’s Has Long History,” written by Ernestine (Spicer) Crosby? It’s worth a read and details an interesting part of Andalusia’s past.

Last Sunday night three Baptist churches in Andalusia gathered for a “Thanksgiving Worship” at 6 p.m. in Southside Baptist Church.

Three choirs, those of Southside, First Baptist (East Three-Notch), and First Baptist (Whatley Street), sang in three distinct styles of worship.

A sermon was delivered by Otis Corbitt, new director of missions for the Covington Baptist Association.

Prayers were offered by the pastors of the three congregations – Dr. Fred Karthaus of East Three-Notch, Darrell Conley of Whatley Street, and Bill Pritchett of Southside.

The styles of worship included electronic tapes, instruments, and visuals, praise bands, big screens, standing, clapping in rhythm, frequent applause, holding up hands, swaying, piano accompaniment, special numbers and congregational hymns.

A time of fellowship and supper followed in the spacious Family Life Center of Southside.

There was enough chicken salad to float a boat. It was wonderful! The Portly Gentleman stuffed down 15 or so chicken-salad sandwiches, as well as a few pimiento. There were also chips, raw vegetables, cakes, cookies, lemonade and cola.

The remarkable Hazel Jordan, a faithful member of Southside and a member of the noted Andalusia High School Class of 1948, was seen at her post in the kitchen, ever faithful, ever faithful.

Not long ago the Portly Gentleman was telling us about a trip he had taken to Columbia, S.C., for a literary conference in September. Let’s pick up on his fourth installment.

“Cousin Jo met me Friday morning at the Inn of the University of South Carolina, and we walked across the ‘Horseshoe’ (central courtyard shaped like a horseshoe) to Cooper Library to hear four papers read by scholars about William Gilmore Simms, the most prominent author of the antebellum South and the subject of the literary conference we were attending.

“After lunch in a sandwich shop, Cooper’s Corner, Jo and I spent a brief time in the reading room of the rare-books section of Cooper Library, running into a book dealer who had sold me an autograph of Simms two years ago.

“Jo and I heard four more Simms papers (essays) that afternoon before leaving to dress for the banquet Friday night.

“First, I took time to buy a new book on Magnolia Cemetery in Charleston, City of the Silent. Simms is buried in Magnolia. This book details biographies of memorable persons buried there.

“The Simms Award Banquet was staged in McCutchen Hall on the Horseshoe of the USC, a building older than Alabama, in the Robert E. and Anna Tronco Wiliams Room. The Williamses own Lizard’s Thicket, the family-style restaurant chain where Jo and I eat at times in the Columbia area.

“Jo and I sat with Allen Stokes, the director of the South Caroliniana Library, who received a silver cup from the Simms Society for his service.

“Jo and I also fellowshipped again with the descendants of Simms, Katie Counts, Bill Counts, Elizabeth Villanova, and little Luke Simms Villanova.

“I ran into Benjamin Boatwright Alexander, who owns his mother’s house in Ridge Springs, S.C. My ancestors, too, had land in Ridge Springs, along Clouds Creek, 250 years ago; so Mr. Alexander and I had this in common for conversation.

“Saturday morning Jo and I heard the last five Simms papers read and then took lunch in the campus food court. The day was Open House, and thousands of students and their parents were on campus.

“Afterwards at the closing business meeting new officers were elected and suggestions received.

“I suggested an historical marker in Charleston, recognizing the site of Russell’s bookstore on King Street, where Simms, Henry Timrod, and Paul Hamilton Hayne used to attend literary meetings. These men are among the antebellum poets of the Old South.

“The conference, being over, Jo and I ambled back to the Inn and sat a long time on its front porch, rocking.

“After our rest on the porch, Jo and I went a-driving, stopping at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral next to the Capitol in Columbia. There I paid my respects in Trinity’s graveyard to Henry Timrod, buried with his only child, Willie, beneath a granite marker. Timrod, 1829 – 1867, had such a sad life. His best-known poem used to appear in the American-literature book in high schools. It was a dedication to the Confederate dead buried in Magnolia Cemetery in Charleston.

“Our tour of Columbia included stops at the First Presbyterian Church, where lie buried the parents of President Woodrow Wilson (the father preached at FPC); St. Paul’s Lutheran, where Emmanuel Albert Wingard, the poet, was its first pastor; the boyhood home of Woodrow Wilson; and, across the street, the Mary Chestnut Cottage, where she and her husband James lived in town during the War (President Davis once spoke from its steps). Mary Chestnut lived in Montgomery during the early days of the War and kept a notable diary during the length of the War, including her stay in Montgomery. She was a good friend of Mrs. Davis.

“For supper Jo and I dined at Sadie’s Cafeteria, similar to the old Morrison’s Cafeteria some of you have patronized.

“Sunday morning I drove into Lexington, South Carolina, and attended Sunday School at Zion Lutheran Church, which my ancestors attended over 200 years ago. I studied the lesson with my cousins, Boyd and Carolyn Wingard.

“Cousin Jo met me for church at Zion, and we worshipped in its gothic sanctuary.

“I took communion, teary-eyed, thinking of the generations of our family who had worshipped there, and of Godfrey Drehr, an early minister of Zion, who had married my great-great-grandparents at Zion, the very ones who moved to Alabama and set up our line here.

“It felt good to take communion with relatives, good to be at Zion after all these generations, all these years. So rest we in Christ; so joined are we by His love and sacrifice. It was good; oh, it was good. My heart rejoiced. It is good to worship together, good to sing, good to confess, good to pray, good to take communion.

“I visited with Boyd and Carolyn’s son, Steve, and his wife Jenny and their Stephanie, and with Cousin Margaret, who is the Sunday-School director, and with an old friend, Thomas Kleckley, who sang in a men’s group that morning.

“While at Zion I visited the family marker, dedicated in 2003 to John Adam Wingard, the founder of our line in America, and to his descendants, put in place upon the occasion of our 250th year in America.

“Jo and I ate lunch at another Lizard’s Thicket before I left for Alabama.”

Thank you, Portly One, for your fourth and last account of your September visit to South Carolina.

The celebration of the 200thbirthday of Charles Dickens, England’s greatest novelist, continues. There may be no better way to celebrate his special year than by reading his Christmas classic, A Christmas Carol. For 25 years Mr. Shehan’s annual Christmas Carol Sing here in the “Dimple of Dixie” ended with the words of Tiny Tim from that novel, “And so,” as Tiny Tim observed, “God bless us everyone!” Ah, Tim, bless your heart.

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 1582, Andalusia, AL 36420.

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

Federal General Burnside and his Army of the Potomac arrived on the banks of the Rappahannock River across from Fredericksburg, Virginia. Confederate General Longstreet and the Confederate cavalry under J.E.B. Stuart turned their attention to Fredericksburg (where George Washington grew up). Gen. Ulysses Grant, out in the West, eyed the Confederate town of Vicksburg by the Mississippi River. Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee arrived at Fredericksburg. The mayor of Fredericksburg refused to surrenter to Burnside. Federal Secretary of War Stanton ordered the release of political prisoners. The Battle of Fredericksburg was approaching.

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 Sir William Schwenck Gilbert, English poet of comedy, and George Eliot, English novelist.

Mr. Gilbert wrote the librettos for 14 operettas with Sir Arthur Seymour Sullivan, the English composer of “The Lost Chord” and “Onward, Christian Soldiers.”

Their 14 comical operas include H.M.S. Pinafore, The Pirates of Penzance and The Mikado, some of the most delightful creations in the history of the world.

George Eliot is the pseudonym of Mary Ann Evans. Her novels include Silas Marner, Adam Bede and The Mill on the Floss.

Every school child used to read Silas Marner and know the line, “Eppie in the coal hole!” Once I quoted that line to my elderly landlady; and, immediately, she recognized it, though we were separated by three generations. That’s a sad thing about today. The traditional is being neglected, the traditional that held the generations together.

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

Fare thee well. +