Sweet music, sweet memories float in the air

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 4, 2013

Peeping through my Venetian blind, I spotted some thistles, coming into bloom, across the way in one of the outlying pastures that flank Covington Hall.

The sight of thistles puts me in mind of a trip I once took to Scotland.

Our travel group was visiting Abbotsford, the castle-like home of the late Sir Walter Scott, chief Scottish novelist.

As a sentimental gesture I walked into the valley below his home, down to the Tweed River, and picked a wild thistle, the symbol of Scotland, there on Scott’s estate. I treasure that dried bloom to this day.

By the way, millions of dollars have been spent the last two years to renovate Abbotsford, and it has just been reopened. When I was there, one of Scott’s descendants, a stately lady, resided there.

Seen at the Corner Market for lunch were Leamon Hudson, Sonya (Brooks) Sanders, Randy Wahl, and his son, Todd, “the Far Wall.”

It’s rare to see a mulberry tree, but I think I saw one along Crescent Street, beginning to berry.

I can recall only two others that I have seen – one on my grandfather’s property at Deatsville, a tree well over a hundred years, and one in the back yard of Will Shakespeare’s son-in-law in Stratford-on-Avon in England. That tree must be more than 500 years old, and Shakespeare probably ate berries from its branches.

Clay Hampton Thomasson, I hear tell, preached during the evening worship service at Cedar Grove Church of Christ last Sunday, April 28.

Come to find out, Eric and Jenny Searcy of First Avenue, Bellwood, and First Baptist Church (East Three-Notch), hosted a party April 7 for the nine boys in the congregation who are being graduated this May with the Andalusia High School Class of 20l3. Their fathers were invited, too, to a “Father/Son Fish Fry.”

Neal Dansby, a church friend and a retired educator, helped the Searcys with the fish, hush puppies, slaw, cheese grits, and lemon pie.

Attending were (son/father) Corey and Jeff Hopkins, Hunter and Steven Dendy, Grant and David Markham, Brady and Mickey Sharpe, Ethan and Marcus Jones, Carl and Dwight Crigger, Will and Joe Parker, Alex and John Ward, and Chris and Dodd Riley.

I wonder if anything will be done for the girls of First Baptist, “the sweet girl graduates,” as Tennyson penned in a poem. I wonder if other congregations will do something to honor their graduates.

Remember, gentle readers, that you may hand me write-ups about senior parties for this column, if you wish. The senior party is an AHS tradition going back a hundred years.

Dwight Crigger, minister of music at First Baptist (ETN) was out of town with the Alabama Singing Men, a group of Baptists who witness for Christ through song. In his absence his wife, Sonia Crigger, led the congregational singing and choir Sunday morning during worship. That night the singing was led by Charlotte Rogers, a soprano in the Adult Choir and a teacher at W. S. Harlan School in Lockhart.

That Sunday Jeanice (Paul) Kirkland played the piano; Martha (James) Givhan, the organ.

By the way, does anyone know what the S in W.S. Harlan represents? The W is for William.

Michael Rodriquez, minister to students at First Baptist (ETN), announced to the congregation Sunday morning that, as of May l9, he was leaving First Baptist, after five years, for a job with Grace Baptist in Oxford.

Seen Sunday at the Hospital Cafeteria here in the “Dimple of Dixie” were Glenn and Cindy Cook, Richard and Georgette Pass, and Mrs. Tiller, Norman’s mother.

Richard Pass amazes me. At 91, he teaches the Sunday-School lesson each Sunday morning to the Baraca Class here in Andalusia, then drives up to Searight to preach in its church.

Martha (James) Givhan presented her piano pupils in a double recital Sun., April 28, at 2 p.m. and at 3:30 p.m. in the chapel of First Baptist Church.

The chapel was decorated with ferns, flanking a spring bouquet. Mrs. Givhan wore wrist flowers given her by a pupil.

Performing in the first recital were Abigayle Mancil, Caleb Geohagan, Tessa Walker, Madison Geohagan, Collin Ward, Brinnley Stewart, Madeline Pugh, Ethan Barton, Lauren Guilford, Mason Barnes (with his good sense of humor), Loni Blatz, Madeline Miller, Hannah Lawless, and four senior students – Sung Mo, Caleb Couch, Laura Gatlin and Anna Beth Bowden.

Mrs. Givhan played duets with four of her pupils and awarded certificates and keepsakes to all.

Laura Lea Blatz, another pupil, was unable to participate.

Performing in the second recital were the three senior girls (each of whom received a bouquet of fresh flowers from their teacher), Ellis Mount and his brother, Addison Mount, Baylee Robertson, Rachel Fleming, Carley Tillman, Adeline Fischer, Alan Butler and his sister, Rexanne Butler, Katherine Finley, Riley Grace Lowery, Ali Brown, Jonathan Bryant and Caroline Andrews.

Jonathan Bryant, his grandmother told me, is descended from a great-great-grandmother who played “by ear.”

Unable to participate was Ian Martin.

Mrs. Givhan, I believe, is the only piano teacher left in town. “Miss Martha” plays the organ at First Baptist, teaches piano, plays at funerals and for soloists and quartets, and plays for the Baraca Class Sunday mornings. She is following in the footsteps of her late organ teacher, Louise (Bozeman) Barrow, who played for First Baptist about sixty years. “Life goes on.”

Mary Clyde “M.C.” Merrill used to teach piano, but she retired to a cottage near the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa to be nearer her daughters.

The 20th annual Robert E. Lee High School Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and Banquet in Montgomery was attended by one of our locals, Joe Wingard, Lee Class of l962, who shared his notes with me.

The four-hour program was staged in the school cafeteria where statuettes of General Lee were presented to former teachers, outstanding alumni, and special friends of Lee High.

Each honoree was pictured, in his youth and in his age, with a printed biography in a 70-page, souvenir booklet.

Each honoree was introduced, applauded, and given a chance to respond.

The souvenir booklet also contained the school alma mater, history of the Hall of Fame, portrait of Lee and picture of the General’s statue outside the main entrance to the building on Ann Street, the pledge, the emcees, committee members, and inductees through the years (since 1994).

A “Wall of Fame” in the main hallway of Lee lists all inductees.

A new security wall has been constructed in the main lobby of Lee since the trouble at schools throughout the country.

Nell (Rushton) McGilberry, Lee Class of l959, a member of the induction committee, was there. She’s a cousin to the late Roy Windham, Andy’s exemplary postmaster and writer of children’s books.

Also, making the rounds and talking to everyone in the place was Mr. Congeniality, Roy A. Parker, Lee Class of 1962, and, twice, a resident of Andalusia as an ALFA agent, along with his better half, Lynn. The Parkers have retired to Auburn and are “world travelers.” Roy, who is in the Hall of Fame himself, has successfully nominated over 40 “Generals,” as Lee students are called, to the Hall of Fame. Roy is a “kingmaker.”

The beautiful Amanda Borden, once a teacher at Samford University and a Lee graduate, was present with her mother, her husband Lee, and Lee’s brother, Tom Borden. Amanda and Lee are living now on a farm near Tallassee, Fla.

Lee Football Coach Jim Chafin and his Joanie were not there, for the first time in 20 years. They have just moved to Texas for health reasons to be near their daughter, Cindy.

Paul and Debby (Dendy) Scott added their smiles to the reunion.

Mickey Castleberry, who died last year, was especially missed. His stentorian voice added much when he was emcee. Mickey, Lee Class of 1961, was a retired Baptist preacher. His wife is a cousin to Ken Bush, formerly of Sanford, a Baptist preacher at First Baptist in Eufaula.

The tables were appointed with white cloths and red napkins. Pots of red begonias served as centerpieces.

The traditional menu included fried chicken, roast and gravy, rice, green beans, roasted potatoes, squash casserole, seven-layer salad, fruit, yeast rolls, cakes and tea, served as a buffet.

The emcee was Kate Kiefer. Presenters of the Lee statuettes were James Bozeman, former principal; Randy Skipper, former principal; and Lorenza Pharrams, current principal.

Former faculty honored were Tina Gaffey Bowlin, Judy Mayr Head, Virginia Brophy Holmes, Nettie Weatherington Jennings and Brenda Best Aitken Rambo.

Special awards were given to Helen Elaine Haigler Scovell and to Bob and Dianne Brooks.

Alumni honored were Marshal Wayne Blackwell, Terri R. Clark, Robert G. Enslen, Sr., Commander Randall Charles Hardy, Curtis A. Henley, Dr. Rhonald M. Jenkins, Dr. Richard Jones, Douglas E. Lindley, Fred Raymond McDevitt, William L. McNair, Chasity Quianna Thompson and Pastor Thomas Keith Waldrop.

Someone present said that Heaven couldn’t be any better than this reunion of old teachers and friends. There was much talk of God and Jesus by the honorees.

Mother’s Day is coming up. Wear a white rose that Sunday if your precious mother is in Heaven. Wear a red one if you are still blessed with her on this earth.

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, 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 Federal Army of the Potomac, under Gen. Joseph Hooker, crossed the Rappahannock River and confronted Southern Gen. Robert E. Lee at a little spot called Chancellorsville, Virginia. In this battle Southern Gen. “Stonewall” Jackson, Lee’s right arm, successfully engaged the enemy in a dense area called the Virginia Wilderness but was wounded accidentally by his own men (dying a few days later, May 10). His command was taken by Southern Gen. J.E.B. Stuart. Southern Gen. A.P. Hill was also wounded. While on the Southern side of the Rappahannock, the Federals attacked Fredericksburg again in a battle called the “Second Fredericksburg.” (The South had overwhelmingly won the first battle of Fredericksburg.) Lee’s men, though greatly outnumbered, held their ground and pushed the Federals back across the Rappahannock River, thus securing Fredericksburg once again. The Battle at Chancellorsville was called Lee’s masterpiece and “one of the most brilliant tactical achievements in military history.”

In the West the Federals, under Gen. U. S. Grant, continued toward Vicksburg on the Mississippi River. The Federals took Grand Gulf and Port Gibson, Mississippi, as they moved toward Vicksburg, one of the South’s last strongholds on Old Man River.

(I guess you know, gentle reader, what will happen next.)

If you collect stamps, I suggest the purchase of stamps associated with the War of 1812 and the Sesquicentennial of “the War.”

No one guessed the area described as the hilly, residential section at the upper end of Watson and Montgomery streets in Andalusia. Let’s try again for a second time.

The birthday this week is that of Joseph Addison, an English essayist. It was said of Addison that he set the style for writing for a hundred years, following his death. His style was simple and organized. His is the style I try to copy.

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

Fare thee well.