‘She was at her best when she was playing dead’

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 23, 2013

Peeping through my Venetian blind, looking out upon the beauty of the world, I rejoiced that spring arrived this week. Again, I saw in my mind’s eye the roadsides lined with yellow rabbit clover, red clover, and white Dutch clover, the arching limbs of the white Cherokee rose, bridal wreaths like wedding gowns, the honeysuckle-like wild azaleas, iris, Bradford pears, Indian hawthorne, flowering almond, stars of Bethlehem, and hundreds of azaleas, like Southern belles in their ball gowns.

The senior adults of First Baptist Church (East Three-Notch) assembled for their monthly luncheon March 19 in the Fellowship Hall.

The speaker was Brandy (Burnett) Miller, director of the local Sitel service center at Sanford near Andalusia.

The center receives mainly long-distance calls, mostly complaints and questions directed at a variety of companies who have contracted with Sitel to assist them with public relations.

Some 500 people are employed by our local Sitel, which supports 2.5 million contacts per day globally for more than 300 clients in 36 languages, 26 countries, and 140-plus facilities.

Brandy, who finished Straughn High School in 1988, went on to Troy State University and the University of Phoenix.

Her work with service centers began in l990, taking her to Phoenix, Arizona, and Minot, N.D.

She returned to Andalusia in 2003.

Brandy is married and the mother of two boys, 6 and 11.

The Fellowship Hall was decorated with a St. Patrick’s Day theme, including green napkins and Irish centerpieces with green candy, green beads, and shamrocks. The decorators were Trudy Vickers and Kittye Wyatt.

Gordon Vickers, who works with the senior adults, presided.

Herb Carlisle prayed the invocation; Judson Blackstock, the benediction.

The group sang “Happy Birthday” to Kittye Wyatt and Betty Brunson.

The buffet, catered by Hilltop, included baked pork chops, scalloped potatoes, turnip greens, fried bread, apple cobbler and tea.

Recent deaths among the senior adults at First Baptist were those of Lavon Echols, Lucille Donaldson, A.W. Donaldson, Marilyn Palmer and Bobby Norsworthy.

Lucille and A.W., who were husband and wife, died within two weeks of each other.

The Baptist senior adults motored March 14 over to Troy to eat supper at the Sisters Restaurant along Highway 23l.

Neal Dansby drove the church bus with the following passengers — Gordon and Trudy Vickers, Herb and Sue Carlisle, Kittye Wyatt, June Smith, Buddy and Betty Brunson, Morgan and Wilma Moore, Gillis and Laura Ann Jones, Joe Wingard, Vivian Hickey, Bill Law, Bea Miller and Nancy Robbins.

The Sisters provided one of the best buffets ever assembled – fried chicken, chicken tenders, barbecued chicken, spaghetti and meat sauce, fried chicken livers, salmon patties, fried white meat (salt pork, streak o’ lean), meatloaf, dumplings, chicken casserole, minute steak, rice, gravy, biscuits and tomato gravy, hush puppies, rolls, turnip greens, creamed corn, green-bean casserole, green beans, field peas, rutabagas, macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, sweet-potato casserole, corn on the cob, butterbeans, a salad bar with particularly good beets, bread pudding, banana pudding, peach cobbler and strawberry short cake.

Dining in the same room were the members of the varsity baseball team from Troy University.

James and Joan (Hill) Mitchell were in Oxford March 8 to see his people. While up that way they worked in a visit with Scott and Jolaine (Martin) Sims. Joan and Jolaine went to Andalusia High School together.

Jay and Beverly Farrington were recently in Savannah, Ga., for Jay to attend some business meetings. They took their daughter Jennifer with them. While Jay worked, the girls ate at Paula Deen’s Restaurant. The whole family enjoyed a meal at the historic Pirates’ House Restaurant where Beverly ordered pecan-encrusted chicken. Jay had to have a taste.

Last Sunday night at First Baptist the new technology known as Skype was used on the three big screens in the auditorium.

Using the big screens, the assistant pastor, Judson Blackstock, talked face to face in “real time” to a Baptist missionary in New York City. Blackstock could see the missionary as they talked, and the missionary could see Blackstock.

It reminded me of the two-way, wrist radio that Dick Tracy of the daily comics used to wear on his arm.

Blackstock talked first to Nathan Tubbs, a teacher as well as a missionary, trying to plant a Baptist church in New York City, and then to Jason and Tracy Livvix, missionaries in Oscoda, Mich.

With the Livvixes was Lindsey Moore from around here who went north to help the Livvixes.

To someone who doesn’t even know how to turn on a computer, that was amazing!

Seen at Larry’s for supper were Mr. and Mrs. Pete Blackwell and Don and Cheryl Cotton.

Dozier Simmons and I had a sidewalk visit at the P.O. this week. He has two jobs, one with the carnival, one, driving trucks.

Glenn and Cindy Cook attended the National Religious Broadcasters Convention in Nashville. While there they met the young man who plays Jesus in the currently popular television series, the Bible.

The Irene Hines Handbell Choir rang last Sunday morning at First Baptist, playing three Easter pieces, “Were You There?,” “In the Presence of the Lord,” and “Because He Lives.”

Dwight Crigger, minister of music, directed.

The choir was named for the donor of the money for the bells, Irene (Faulkenberry) Hines, who was known for her lovely voice and love of music, her personal beauty, and her example as a Christian lady.

At the end of the morning worship service at First Baptist last Sunday the pastor’s wife, Connie Karthaus, tearfully thanked the congregation for all their love and help during her husband’s heart attack, hospitalization, and recovery. She then read a note of gratitude from Fred Karthaus, who is still home-bound.

Miss Dofunny, a friend of mine, called the Alabama Public Television people last week to ask why the British sit-coms, especially “Are You Being Served?” and “Keeping Up Appearances,” weren’t being shown anymore on Saturday nights. She was told that APT couldn’t afford to rent them anymore, but they were hoping to afford them again some day.

The thought of how different life would be without God and Jesus came to me the other day. As Easter approaches, such thoughts grow. What would be the focus of our lives then? Where would the hope of reformation be? Where would the hope of eternity be? There would be no hope of seeing my loved ones again. There would be no such thing as a Christian lady. There would be no forgiveness, no unchanging right and wrong, no assurance. There would be no Sunday School, no hymnbooks, no Christmas, no Thanksgiving, no salvation, no Bible, no dinners on the ground, no “In God we trust.” Many of the great works of literature, art, and music would not exist.

I thank God that I had a Christian mother and father who taught me to go to church, to pray before meals, to have a standard of behavior, to believe, to trust, to hope, to try to do right. I do believe in God, in Jesus, in eternity. How hopeless life would be without Easter!

Did you see the local theatre group’s production last week?

ACT I and the Covington Arts Council presented a comedy, murder mystery, Marriage Can Be Murder, three times in the Adult Activity Center behind Church Street School.

I went Sunday afternoon after church.

It was fun. I laughed from the first minute to the last.

The setting was that of a wedding. We in the audience took part as wedding guests. Eventually we were served a meal as part of the play – green salad, chicken cordon bleu, green beans, mashed potatoes, rolls, tea and wedding cake.

The round tables were covered with black and white cloths. Candles, rose petals and cardboard favors (a bride/ a groom) served as centerpieces.

Throughout the play Steve Hubbard, a teacher of English at our community college and organist of First Presbyterian here, played the piano, music for dining and music for the “wedding.” He received a warm round of applause, especially for some old-fashioned wedding songs, “Because,” “Ah! Sweet Mystery of Life,” and “O Promise Me.”

Two of the actors were selected unexpectedly from the audience, Eric Lidh and Mary Vines, to play members of the wedding party. Neither knew he would be asked to participate. That was fun in itself. Both caught on immediately and were good sports, ad-libbing as though they had practiced for weeks.

Each was dressed quickly in opposite outfits. Mary donned a “tux” and Eric wore an apron, turned-up hat with pigtails, and carried a basket. He was the funniest looking character in the play with the possible exception of Roger Powell, recently circuit clerk, talented artist, and local comedian. Roger was the star of the show, playing the prissy wedding director, dressed like a fruit basket.

Roger or “Alphonso” had a line that ran through the play, “No problems! Just solutions!”

Of course there were problems, including a murder, that of the mother of the groom, whom no one liked, not even her son, played handsomely by Johnny Brewer, a teacher at Lurleen B. Wallace.

The murderee was acted by Fran Davison, a professional, who was at her best when she was dead, especially being dragged off the stage in a comical position.

The cast included Curtis Simpson, father of the bride, who was especially convincing; Jennifer Jones, the bride wannabe, who was a hot potato; Lori Couturie, the emotionally exasperated bride; Ronda Ricks, the bossy twin of the murdered woman; and Derek Stump, who played a smug little boy. It was a rather novel idea to have an adult cast as a child.

Students from local schools served the meal.

The producer was Paula Harr, who has enriched our county countless times with tireless, faithful, devoted, dedicated efforts to bring culture into our midst. She is a remarkable disciple of culture for whom we should all be grateful.

The director of the play was June (Grimes) Simpson, who brought together the talented cast in a hilarious and clever comedy.

June, whose heart is as big as her fondness for drama, continues to bless our community with her many deeds of kindness and of love.

The audience was allowed a chance to guess the murderer before he was revealed on stage. (I’m not telling, but I guessed wrong.)

Also, a door prize was awarded from the wedding-gift props on stage.

Did you notice, gentle reader, how many wore green March 17? Still, there were quite a few who qualified for a pinch.

Educators and their support personnel in District 24 of the Alabama Education Association assembled Friday evening, March 15, in the Brewton Civic Center for their annual Association Representatives’ Banquet.

District 24 includes Conecuh, Covington and Escambia educators associated with AEA.

Most educators and support personnel in public education are members of AEA.

The evening included a welcome by Alan Baker, member of the Alabama House of Representatives for Escambia and Baldwin counties; invocation by Joe Wingard, district secretary; buffet dinner with pulled pork or baked chicken; recognition of special guests by Charlotte Ewing, president of Conecuh County ESP (support personnel); a keynote address by Dr. Gregory T. Graves, new associate executive secretary for AEA; presentation of a plaque of appreciation to Dr. Graves by Jimmy Ponds, president of District 24; and drawing for door prizes by Mr. Ponds, assisted by Vivian M. Jones, AEA director for District 24.

Also participating were Teresa Hultz, vice-president of District 24, and Dianne McKenzie of Brewton, district treasurer. Beverly Wade of Brewton assisted Mrs. McKenzie with tickets and registration.

Dr. Graves emphasized the need for teachers to stand together rather than fall apart from apathy.

Tables were decorated in black and white cloths with centerpieces of red roses, snuggled by baby’s breath and fern. These were also given as door prizes.

The theme was “Alabama Educators – Top of the Class.”

Seen in the audience were Coach Richard Robertson and his wife, Ethel. Coach Robertson has worked at AHS about 43 years, a record, and has been in education some 48 years. He is greatly loved and admired by those who know him.

Also seen was Joe Thomas, “Joe the Camera Man,” a journalist from Flomaton, and a friend of John and Martha Givhan.

The celebration of 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 to help preserve the history of our county, whether you attend meetings or not. Mail to CHS, P.O. Box 1582, Andalusia, Alabama 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.

Federal Gen. W. W. Averell attacked Gen. Fitz Lee, nephew of Gen. Robert E. Lee, at Culpeper, Va., withdrawing after a day of fighting.

Admiral Farragut with two vessels positioned them just below Vicksburg, a Confederate stronghold on the Mississippi. In Kentucky the Federals were harassed by Confederate Gen. John Hunt Morgan and John Pegram.

Buy stamps to recall the Sesquicentennial, Mark Twain, O. Henry, and the War of 1812.

Thanks to Nan Johnson for identifying our mysterian last week, J. Murray King, who came to Andalusia in the fall of l966 and served six years as principal of the Andalusia High School before going on to be county superintendent of education.

Our new mysterian is the person who ran the Gables Motor Hotel on Church Street prior to Grace Larson.

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

Tomorrow is Palm Sunday, when Jesus entered Jerusalem, riding a donkey along a trail of palms.

I hope you wear a bit of palm tomorrow in remembrance.

I also hope you get to hear that beautiful piece of music called “The Palms.” It is a heavenly anthem!

Are you familiar with the riddle/poem, “The Donkey,” by G. K. Chesterton? It’s worth a look-see.

Fare thee well.