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

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 26, 2013

Peeping through my Venetian blind, I noticed the Japanese magnolias in bloom, across the way at Covington Hall. The first time ever I became aware of any Japanese magnolia was from a picture in my 11th grade American literature book. The American poet Edna St. Vincent Millay was standing amid the blooms of one, looking poetic.

Through my blind I also spotted here and there other blooms of the moment – camellias, narcissus, winter jasmine, primroses, pansies, violas, and Kiss-Me-at-the-Gate.

Old Man Winter wears these blooms like a gentleman with a “bout” on his coat lapel.

Speaking of gentlemen, I am reminded of a story about the Portly Gentleman. He had gone out alone to eat at a fine restaurant. A waitress was seating people, left and right, calling out, “Party of four,” “Party of eight,” and so forth. When the Portly Gentleman’s turn came, the waitress took one look at him and said, “Party of two.”

Seen at the Huddle House for supper this week were Ted and Jeanette Short, Tom and Gail Savage, Lynn Ralls, Gene Stallings (the country-music writer), Wayne and Lenora Johnson, Larry and Margaret Sanders and Josh Wilson, pastor of Bethany Baptist Church, with his guest, Dr. Wayne Barber from Chattanooga, Tenn., noted Christian author, who was preaching a revival at Bethany.

For years I have sought unsuccessfully for the name for one of those table appointments, made of two or three plates, joined by a rod through the centers, a tiered server. I happened to ask Erica Ziglar, a student at our local community college. Her answer amused me – “Plates on a stick!”

Seen at Tabby D’s for the lunch buffet were Allen and Nell Wiggle and their friend, Ray Ward, Maggie Shelley of the Methodist Church, Elmer and Myrtice Davis, “Trippy” McGuire, Vivian Langley from Auburn University, Marvin and Jeanette Britt, Greg Mayberry, Anthony Bass, Kathy Grimes, Diane Harper, Herb and Sue Carlisle, Robert Lee Holley, Jeff Sellers with his wife and two children, Abbie Taylor, Joyce Fuller, Nancy Smith, Pat Palmore, Douglas and Frances Castleberry and their son Bruce from Crestview, Fla.

Sometimes Miss Dora Covington and I sit at her piano and play some pieces we learned as children just for fun – “Heart and Soul,” “Chopsticks,” “Peanut Butter” and “Poppa Joe’s.” All children could learn these simple songs and find wholesome entertainment thereby. Can you, gentle reader, play any of these? Can your children and grandchildren?

Seen at the “deli” of the Corner Market for lunch were James Bristow, Bill and Frances Rabren, and their daughter, Mary Ann.

Seen at Tabby D’s for the Friday-night, seafood buffet were Jimmy Cox and his mother, Doris, and Greg and Jan White.

Have you heard of the ROMEO Club in Atmore? That stands for Retired Old Men, Eating Out.

Last Sunday morning at First Baptist Judson Blackstock, associate pastor in charge of education, preached for Fred Karthaus, the senior pastor, who was on a mission trip to Haiti with his wife Connie and Jerome Mallory and Jerome’s sister Natasha Mallory. That night Michael Rodriguez, minister to the youth, preached.

Jeanice (Paul) Kirkland was back at the pipe organ, after her fall, substituting for the regular organist, Martha (James) Givhan. In the Baraca Class where Martha usually plays the piano, Sue (Bass) Wilson accompanied the hymns, and Herb Carlisle taught the Sunday-School lesson in the absence of the regular teacher, Richard Pass, who was home, ill. I guess it was “Substitution Sunday”!

Also at First Baptist One Accord, the ladies’ ensemble, sang a call to worship and a special. The ladies were Teresa Nelson, Linda Finlin, Frances Rabren, Beverly Farrington and her daughter, Allison Farrington, Charlotte Rogers, Betty Gay and Janet Brantley. Sharon Bulger usually sings with the ladies, but was ill.

The annual meeting of the Covington Schools Federal Credit Union was attended in the Covington County Schools office building last week. Last year’s minutes and financial statement were discussed and approved. Refreshments were served by Angie Cotton and Paula Sue Duebelt. Drawings resulted in one person’s receiving a deposit of $l00 into his account and 15 others, receiving deposits of $50 each.

Representatives of educators and support personnel in three counties – Conecuh, Covington and Escambia – met the evening of Jan. 14 at Reid State Technical College in Evergreen, to discuss business, affecting those in the Alabama Education Association (the three counties are known as District 24 of AEA).

Attending were Jimmy Ponds (vice-president of the district and president of the teachers in Covington County), Beverly Wade, Dianne McKenzie (district treasurer), Joe Wingard (district secretary), Patricia Oates, Joyce Belcher, Jacqueline Earthly (district president), Nathaniel Belcher, Linda Gibson, Liz Moye, Vivian Jones (district director), Kimberly Gibson, Teresa Hultz and Holly Tullis.

Plans were discussed for the annual banquet for district representatives, March 15, in Brewton. Tickets are $20 each.

One discussion of particular note concerned the fear that some of the younger teachers going into education may indicate that the quality of teachers is declining.

Another discussion centered on the “power play” between AEA and the teachers’ retirement system.

Supper was provided by Dianne McKenzie (cowboy soup) and Beverly Wade (Dean’s cake) of Brewton.

The Covington Rifles Camp 1586 of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and the local United Daughters of the Confederacy assembled the evening of Jan. 21, the birthdate of Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, in the Dixon Memorial of the Andalusia Public Library to celebrate the birthday of Confederate General Robert E. Lee (born Jan. 19) with a covered-dish supper and a speech by Commander Sir Francis McGowin.

Sir Francis welcomed guests and called the meeting to order.

Derick Davis, adjutant, led in pledges to the American, Alabama and Confederate flags. Davis had decorated the room with flags and had set up the kitchen.

All stood for “Dixie,” led by Larry Shaw, and accompanied at the piano by Sue (Bass) Wilson, both members of the Class of 1965 of the Andalusia High School.

Curtis Hampton Thomasson, past commander, worded the invocation, blessing, and benediction.

After a delicious supper those present enjoyed a speech on Robert E. Lee by Sir Francis McGowin.

McGowin began by saying, “I glory in being a Southerner!”

He commented on the new film, Lincoln, saying it was correct in most of its presentation, but not in all.

He recommended several magazines, especially Garden and Gun.

Calling Lee an “icon of the South,” Sir Francis detailed praiseworthy facts from Lee’s life.

Attending were Johnie and Wanda Davis, Derick Davis, Joe Wingard, Mack Lott, Joe Clark, Larry Shaw, Sir Francis and Lady Ann McGowin, Jimmy Cobb, Linda Castleberry, Tammie Evans and her daughter, Brandi Evans, Sue Wilson, Curtis Thomasson, Benny and Barbara McDaniel, Linda McCooey, Annette Reeves, Irene (Davis) Butler, Jimmy Mott, Randy “R” and Sherry Kelley and Joyce Leddon.

Joe Clark of Elba is commander of the Alabama Southeast Brigade of the SCV, now serving his second term of two years.

Mack Lott of Coffee County is lieutenant commander of the Southeast Brigade of the SCV.

Both are from Camp 911, the Coffee County Rangers.

This week sees the beginning of travel notes about a bus trip to Branson, Mo., Nov. 4 – 10, one of those trips organized by Betty Mitchell, “the Travel Queen.”

The notes were prepared by my cousin, Jo Driggers of Lexington, S.C., who went on the trip.

Those traveling with “Miss Betty” were Pat Armstead, Nell Baker, Ed and Patsy Bennett, Joan Cibiras, Marian Godwin, Betty Hall, Mac Baker, Nancy Stock, Alice Thomaston and Dorothy Waldrop, all from Opp.

From the Andalusia area were Barbara Cantaline, Charlotte Smith, Mark and Cynthia Gunter, Rex and Shirley Helms, Doris Hutcheson, Cupie Jacobs, Byram and Bobbie Lambert, Betty Long, Gladys Norris, Frances Ptomey, Jettie Shell, Glinda Simmons, Trudie Steele, James Summerlin, Gladys Trawick, Thelma Glisson and Rosalyn Wright.

From Montgomery were Ray Mitchell (brother-in-law to “Miss Betty”), Kathryn Milton, Donna Werking and Paul Werking.

From Huntsville came Linda Huskey.

From South Carolina came Jo Driggers.

Let’s listen to Jo’s own words:

“Sunday, Nov. 4: Bus driver, R. T. Norman, picked up passengers in Opp and Andalusia; and after prayer by Mark Gunter, we were on our way. The first stop was the Flying J Travel Plaza in Hope Hull where we welcomed Ray Mitchell (Zolly’s brother and Miss Betty’s brother-in-law; Betty and Zolly are husband and wife), Kathryn Milton, Paul and Donna Werking. As is the custom on Miss Betty’s trips, devotions are held when traveling on Sunday. Byram Lambert’s subject for the devotion was ‘Big Results – Small Beginnings.’ A DVD of hymns was played, and all sang along.

“An early lunch was at Cracker Barrel in Pelham where Glinda Simmons and Linda Huskey joined the group.

“Next stop was the Mississippi Welcome Center where the staff handed out individual pieces of red-velvet-cream-cheese cake. Those Mississippi folks really know how to make you feel welcome.

“We arrived in Memphis, Tenn., and ate dinner at the Spaghetti Warehouse, which previously was a train station. One of the original trolley cars was inside the warehouse and was used as a dining car. That night was spent at Hyatt Place.

“Monday, Nov. 5: Before beginning our journey on the second day, prayer was offered by Ed Bennett.

“We drove over the Mississippi River into Arkansas, passing rice fields on both sides of the highway.

“Lunch was at McDonald’s in Clinton, Ark. From there the bus traveled along scenic routes through the Ozark Mountains. Everyone enjoyed looking at the beautiful trees, dressed in their fall wardrobe.

“After crossing into Missouri it took only 10 minutes to arrive at our destination – Branson, the ‘Live Entertainment Capital of the World.’ Our home for the next four nights was the Welk Resort. Miss Betty had to sign papers that we wouldn’t smoke while staying there, so she told us not to take up the habit.

“Following the unloading of our luggage and getting our room assignments, we boarded the bus again for a short ride to McFarlain’s Restaurant, located in a commercial complex which housed souvenir shops, a food court, and an IMAX Theatre. While eating dinner, several of the travelers, along with the bus driver, were seated at a table that rises slowly during the meal. Unaware of what was happening, these diners wondered why everyone at surrounding tables was laughing at them. Finally, when the table was almost chin high, and after singing a song requested by the waitress, the table was lowered to normal height.

“After dinner the travelers had time to spend money in the various shops and then headed to the Mickey Gilley Theatre for their first show. Throughout the evening Mickey told of his life in the music industry for the past 40 years and sang many of his top hits.

“Tuesday, Nov. 6: After prayer by Byram Lambert the next morning, we motored to see the Buck Trent Country Music Show. In 1990 he became the first act to open a live music show in Branson, performed in the morning. Buck greeted each of the travelers as each entered the theatre. His show was lively and fast-paced, and the second half was devoted to Christmas music as was the case with most of the shows.

“In the lobby of the theatre Trigger, Bullet and Buttermilk were on display – a highlight for fans of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. (Trigger was Roy’s horse; Bullet was Roy’s dog; Buttermilk was Dale’s horse.)

“After a quick lunch, we moved on to the next show on our agenda, which featured Daniel O’Donnell, an Irish singer with whom many in the group were familiar, having seen some of his shows on public television. Irish songstress Mary Duff also appeared on the program. Their songs have been described as a mix of country and Irish folk classics. This was a three-hour show but well worth it.

“Dinner was at the Great American Steak and Chicken House, followed by the last show of the day, the Baldknobbers Jamboree Show. In 1959 the Mabe brothers opened the first live music show in Branson; and for over 50 years, the second and third generations of that family have continued to provide country music and hilarious comedy.

“Wednesday, Nov. 7: Miss Betty began the next day with prayer before we journeyed to the American Bandstand Theatre to see the Brett Family Show. Tom and Andrea Brett and sons, Brydon and Garon, provided excellent God-family-and-country-centered entertainment.

“In this show veterans were recognized, the colors presented, and all stood and pledged allegiance to the flag. Andrea recited a patriotic, heartfelt poem she had written.

“Branson is home to America’s largest Veteran’s Day Celebration; and since this was Veteran’s Homecoming Week, many of the shows we attended paid tribute to them.

“Next, the Buskoteers were dropped off at Branson Landing on the Lake Taneycomo waterfront where they were on their own to eat and shop. This is an outdoor shopping mall, one main street with stores and restaurants on each side.

“Then it was back to the Welk Resort for dinner at the Stage Door Restaurant. Outside the restaurant was a display of memorabilia from Lawrence Welk’s life, including pictures, two accordions, and his golf clubs. Also on display was his blue golf cart with the word, ‘Wonderful! Wonderful!’ written on the front.

“Joining the restaurant was the Welk Resort Theatre where we saw a performance by Tony Orlando. Tony sang his greatest hits, including “Tie a Yellow Ribbon.’ The second half of the show was a play in which Santa came down the chimney, brought Tony a manger scene, and taught him the true meaning of Christmas. A wonderful show!

“Thursday, Nov. 8: Our next day was started with prayer by Byram Lambert. We arrived at the Americana Theatre for the Cassandre Haygood – Voice of an Angel – Show. We were told that the February 2012 tornado, which had hit Branson, had taken the roof off this theatre and caused extensive damage. We had seen evidence of the tornado’s wrath while driving around town since some places had not been repaired.

“The bus driver announced that he had found a wedding ring in the back of the bus. Who was the man who lost his? Was it a coincidence the ring was lost before we were to see a young woman sing? Ask Mac Brown.”

Well, with this puzzling anecdote let us stop for the moment the notes from Cousin Jo. Perhaps she can explain what she means next time.

Thank you, Jo, for your notes. We look forward to hearing the rest of your notes in the near future.

The celebration of the 200th birthday of Charles Dickens, England’s greatest novelist, continues, as well as the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812.

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. Include your e-mail address if you wish to be reminded of upcoming meetings.

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

The Northern Army of the Potomac under Gen. Ambrose Burnside stalled in its plan once again to attack Fredericksburg, Virginia. This was because of bad winter weather. Burnside was relieved of his command of the Army of the Potomac by Gen. Joseph “Fightin’ Joe” Hooker. Burnside was relieved, too, because he was glad to be rid of the responsibility. Prostitutes, following Hooker’s troops, soon came to be known as “Hookers.”

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

No one identified the mysterian last week. He was nicknamed “Jeep” and raised camellias.

Birthdays this week are those of Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, a Confederate General; Lord Byron, an English poet; Francis Bacon, an English writer of essays; John Hancock, first signer of the “Declaration of Independence”; and Robert Burns, Scottish poet known for “Auld Lang Syne.”

John Hancock said that he would sign his name in letters so large that the King of England would not need his glasses to read it. Since Hancock’s time, one’s signature has come to be known as his “John Hancock.”

The staff of this paper received a visit from one of its former, fellow employees this week, Carolyn Turner, who has become a grandmother of late. Her daughter Carrie and Carrie’s husband, Clay Hampton Thomasson, have received into their home their first child, a boy, Turner Hampton Thomasson. Carolyn says she has been losing not a little sleep in helping out. Parents and grandparents seem to be doing well, but the grandparents are being reminded daily why having children is for the young!

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

The annual Chautauqua in DeFuniak Springs, Fla., began this past Thursday afternoon and goes through tomorrow Sunday. Drive down today or tomorrow and enjoy some of the classes.

Fare thee well.