Traveling here to there, Mrs. Grundy is everywhere

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 27, 2013

Peeping through my Venetian blind, I waved goodbye again to Mrs. Gotrocks. She had driven down from Greenville to ride around town with me and see some of the flowers in bloom this spring. We especially liked the spray of pale yellow blooms of the Lady Banks rose at the Bay Branch Hill home of June Smith. We also enjoyed the flowerbeds at First Methodist, at City Hall (old East Three-Notch Elementary), at the Dairy Queen (the oldest eatery in the “Dimple of Dixie”), and in various yards.

Last week I had driven up to Greenville and eaten with Mrs. Gotrocks at the Hopalong Cassidy table in Cracker Barrel. As I turned off I-65-N, I was impressed with the red array of Knock-out roses at the cloverleaf.

Too, I noticed on my trip north through Georgiana that the bypass is almost connected and almost ready for use.

It’s the time of year for senior parties at the Andalusia High School. If you want a party recorded for posterity, I’d be pleased to include it in this column. Just get me the information. Parties for graduating seniors seem unique to A.H.S.

Seen at David’s Catfish were Boyd and Karen Pass.

Seen at Hook’s was Greg Mayberry.

Seen on the Golden Square for the Luncheon Pilot Club picnic (a fundraiser) were “Uncle Bob” and Denise Brooks, Greg and Jan White, Benny Barrow and Michele Gerlach.

Playing and singing for the Pilot picnic, as customers sat, enjoying their soda pop and sack lunches, were members of the Carroll Williams Band. Boy, they were good!

It seems that Fred Karthaus, pastor of First Baptist on East Three-Notch, got the men in his congregation into trouble last Sunday. He just had to share that, early in his marriage to Connie, she trained him to make his bed as soon as he got up. Some men in the pews cast nervous looks at each other.

Two winners in the local (associational) Baptist Bible drill, Lexi Aldrecht of the fifth grade and Ada Short of the fourth grade, both won top honors in regional (state) competition Thurs., April 18, at Hillcrest Baptist in Enterprise.

Adult chaperones to the drill were Ada’s parents, Lex and Susan (Jones) Short and Joan (Hill) Mitchell, sponsor. The group celebrated with a meal at Ruby Tuesday’s.

In Montgomery last week I enjoyed lunch at Panera Bread with a childhood friend, Charles Casmus, a singer with two rock groups, Charlie C. and the Cuzamatics, and Cuz and Neil. He told me that his neighbor has Andalusia connections. She is Leslie Ryland, whose mother is Gwendolyn Ryland, whose sister is Kim Ryland, and whose brother is Cory Ryland.

While in Panera Bread, I ran into none other than the sparkling Jane Albritton, dining with her friend, Prim Brown. Jane, eyes twinkling like diamonds in the light of a chandelier, was her petite, gracious, vivacious, engaging self. Oh, it was good to see her again! I miss the presence of Harold and Jane in Andalusia. I’m glad that one of their three sons settled here – Tom. Andalusia wouldn’t be Andalusia without at least one Albritton.

Panera Bread is an upscale restaurant, emphasizing soups, salads, sandwiches and bakery goods.

It was my pleasure to attend the Alabama Book Fair last Saturday, April 20, in Old Alabama Town, downtown Montgomery, on a perfectly beautiful day of sunshine and gentle breezes.

Some 44 literary sessions were offered at six venues, six to eight sessions at a time, each about 30 minutes. I wanted to sit through all but had to narrow my choices to eight in total.

The sessions included readings from their own works by poets, novelists, historians, cooks, memoirists and essayists, followed by question-and-answer periods and book signings. Children were treated to special activities just for them. A Cloverdale bookstore, Capitol Book and News, made copies of the latest books available.

The venues were tents, an old church, a log cabin, and an old house.

Old Alabama Town is a collection of historic buildings grouped in several blocks off Madison Avenue, Montgomery. Even if one doesn’t attend the book fair, it’s worth the trip just to walk among the old buildings, with their little gardens here and there.

In one of the first sessions Morgan Murphy of Mountain Brook, a natural-born humorist, presented his new cookbook with its punny title, Off the Eaten Path. He is connected to the Dimple of Dixie by his late grandparents, Ray and Win Murphy, and his Uncle Mark Murphy (local attorney) and Aunt Merianne Murphy (of ballet fame). Morgan has a whole string of honors, but I remember him best for his knee-slapping humor in a series of essays published some years ago in the Star-News.

Andrew Glaze, 92, the latest poet laureate of Alabama, read from his works. Others I heard were Jeremy Downes, a poet who teaches writing at Auburn University; Ameerah Sanders, a senior at Booker T. Washington in Montgomery, whose poetry won second place in Alabama; May Lamar of Montgomery, who read from her novel about Sidney Lanier, Brother Sid (Lanier, a Georgian poet, once lived in Montgomery; the high school there is named for him); Kathleen Driskell of Louisville, Ky., a poet; Lila Quintero Weaver, a graphic-literature artist; Judith Hillman Paterson, whose book, Sweet Mystery, records the influence of her mother; Sena Jeter Naslund of Birmingham, the current poet laureate of Kentucky, a novelist whose latest work is Adam and Eve; and Therese Anne Fowler, whose latest book, Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald, came out just last month (this book fair was her first time ever to visit Montgomery).

F. Scott Fitzgerald, the famous American novelist, chose Zelda Sayre of Montgomery to be his wife. Their Montgomery home is a museum.

I spoke several times with Mary Ann Neeley, currently, Montgomery’s best-known historian.

I ran into a couple of people I knew from Andalusia. One was Jennifer (Andress) Watson, her husband Heath, and their two, Riley, who wanted me to know that he was not just 5; he was 5 and a half, and Riley’s sister, Claire, 2. They live in Cloverdale, Montgomery.

Another was Bill Kennedy and his wife, Angie, and their four, Winola, William IV, Willa Tate and Wenton. They live in Pike Road. Bill’s dad, William, and I began teaching at the Andalusia High School the same year. The older Mr. Kennedy was a popular history teacher, retiring after 25 years. That same year, the fall of l966, was the first year, too, for S. Daniel Shehan, J. Murray King and Joseph Cecil Wingard.

The last event of the fair was a one-act play by Nelle Lee, written when she was a student at the University of Alabama, “Now Is the Time for All Good Men.” The short, comical play, which had never been acted before, was read as if a radio program by Don Noble and three others. Noble, a scholar, retired from teaching at the University of Alabama, is host of book-review programs on both public radio and public television.

Nelle Lee is better known as Harper Lee, author of the novel, To Kill a Mockingbird.

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 l582, 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.

Confederate soldiers lost to Federal soldiers in Tuscumbia. The Federals continued to “close in” on Vicksburg, the Confederate stronghold on the Mississippi River. Federal General Hooker led 70,000 troops in the Army of the Potomac toward Chancellorsville, Va., which would be one of the more famous battles of the War.

If you collect stamps, buy ones associated with the War of 1812 and the Sesquicentennial of “the War.”

Congratulations to Martha Parrish and Nan Johnson for tying in the naming of the mysterian, Dr. Ed Richardson.

The new “mysterian” is a quiet, residential, hilly area of old Andalusia, containing Watson and Montgomery streets, known for neighbors and roses.

Birthdays this week are those of Charlotte Bronte, English novelist of Jane Eyre; William Shakespeare, English poet and playwright (about 37 plays); and Edward Gibbon, English historian of The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, which some consider the greatest history ever written.

Gibbon believed that the Roman Empire fell because of the following reasons: loss of virtue among the citizens, dependence on hired armies to do their fighting for them (hired foreigners who eventually took over their bosses), an effeminate populace, Christianity (which emphasized life after death over the things of this world), pacifism, and the Praetorian Guard’s abuse of their power (guardians of the emperor).

Many a sermon has been based on this list, especially comparing the fall of Rome to the potential fall of the United States.

As for Shakespeare, mentioned above, he is thought by many to be the greatest writer of all time, replacing, over the years, Virgil and Aristotle.

He is the most quoted of writers in our language, having some 40 pages dedicated to him in Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, far more than any other writer.

Travellers west used to take with them the Bible, John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, and Shakespeare.

What makes Shakespeare great? It is his understanding of human nature and the imaginative language in which he clothes his thoughts on human nature.

April 26 was the traditional Confederate Memorial Day, a time to recall the sacrifices of those who believed in Southern independence.

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

Mother’s Day is about three Sundays away. Remember to wear a red rose if your mother is still alive; a white rose, if she is in Heaven.

Fare thee well.