Good-bye graduates; hello summer visitors

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 1, 2013

Peeping through my Venetian blind, I thought of the words of the American poet, James Russell Lowell, “And what is so rare as a day in June? Then, if ever, come perfect days!”

Yesterday, May 31, was the last day of work here for one of our local, newspaper staff, Kendra Bolling. Kendra has accepted an offer to be managing editor at the Luverne Journal and the Lowndes Signal.

Kendra has been copy editor and page designer at The Star-News for the last three and a half years.

She and her husband Lee have one child, Kenleigh, named after her parents.

Kendra has been a good friend and a great help to these old eyes and old brains. All who know her will miss her.

Seen, taking lunch at the Corner Market, were Hazel McClain and Sharon Dye.

Roger Powell tells me that two graduating seniors from the Andalusia High School, Savannah Ricks and John David Thompson, were recognized prior to worship services at the First Presbyterian Church May 5 when they were honored with a morning tea, hosted by the Presbyterian Women. In the receiving line were the seniors, plus proud family members, Ralph and Ronda Ricks, John and Dawn (Jackson) Thompson, John David’s brother, Jackson Thompson, and equally proud grandparents, Tommy and Patricia Thompson.

The tea was prepared and served by Judy Scott, Gail Mitchell, Judy Bryant and Emily Yehling.

The seniors were again recognized during morning services when they were presented Bibles from the women’s group. The presentation of Bibles to graduating seniors in the church is a long-standing tradition of the Presbyterian Women, dating back decades. Barbara McCommons, a retired teacher and very active member of the church, who has been called “a neat and unrepeatable gift,” offered remarks about Savannah and John David as she made the presentations. Both seniors have received college scholarships, Savannah to Lurleen B. Wallace Community College, and John David to the University of Alabama.

On the following Wednesday evening a crowd of around 60 gathered in the Presbyterian Fellowship Hall for the seventh annual senior roast. This is always an anticipated event each year when graduating seniors are at the center of attention. All present were served a delicious barbecue dinner with baked beans, cole slaw and sheet cake, embossed with the honorees’ names. This year, Savannah Ricks was “roasted” before an audience of friends and family in a game-show fashion with “Who Wants to Be a Graduate?,” modeled after “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” Emcee Roger Powell recounted and elaborated 13 humorous and mostly embarrassing episodes from her life, which she correctly identified in order to progress from kindergarten to 12th grade and “successfully” graduate. The evening concluded with many well wishes and with a video of Savannah’s life, set to music and prepared by Cathy Powell.

Roger Powell tells me that he has two mulberry trees in his yard. I have seen only three in my entire life.

Like churches all over the states, First Baptist, East Three-Notch, honored the war dead Sunday morning on Memorial Day. All those who had lost loved ones during war were asked to stand. “Taps” was played by Erica Ziglar, a freshman at L.B.W.C.C.. Many an eye filled with tears. Judson Blackstock, associate pastor, who was preaching that morning in the absence of Dr. Fred Karthaus, offered prayer.

One Accord, the ladies’ ensemble, sang two pieces.

In the assembly of the distinguished Baraca Class the men sang “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”; and Rogerl Reeves sang a solo, “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee.”

Jeanice (Paul) Kirkland served as pianist in Baraca and organist in morning worship in the absence of Martha (James) Givhan. Mrs. Kirkland played “My Tribute” for the offertory, a song she had introduced to the congregation years ago, which has become her own theme song.

A little bird tells me that Darwin Pippin is turning 90 on June 5. “Happy Birthday, Mr. Pippin!”

Attending the 16th annual Alabama Writers Symposium in Monroeville April 25 and 26 were Barbara Bryant, Arlene Nettles and Dr. Steve Hubbard.

Seen at the Huddle House for supper were Sally Hendrix, Gloria Boswell, Mike “Grandfeathers” Jones and Clayton and Barbara Bryant.

Seen at the Hilltop for supper were Kim and Eleanor Dyess, their son Steve, Eleanor’s mother, Voncile Greathouse, Eleanor’s Uncle C. J. Coursey (retired, Navy), and a friend of the family, Teresa Herring.

Oh, but it was good to see Jo Florence in the kitchen again – still going strong!

At Hilltop I also ran into Jason Tucker, AHS graduate who has been bandmaster at Greenville High School the last two years.

Seen at the Corner Market for the Sunday buffet were Tripp and Regina Bass and their daughter, Rosemary, Andy and Mickey Riley and family, the alliterative Buddy and Betty Brunson, Jackie Covington (who some years ago sang the most beautiful solo I have yet heard), Charles and Norma Jackson, Frances Ptomey, James Summerlin, Ed and Judy Buck, Mickey and Jenny Pitts, Dan and Virginia Frasher, Rogerl and Elaine Reeves and their grandson, Hunter, Mamie Ruth Lane, Patricia Blanton, Max and “B.J.” Fletcher, Jimmy and Bertie Smith, Phil Gantt, Lena Boswell, Gloria Boswell, LRara Junior, Jeff and Beverly Moore, John and Gloria Collier, Bob and Nancy Smith and Thagard Colvin.

Word comes from Lesa (Merrell) Wiggins in Cordova, Tenn., formerly of Andalusia, that she and her husband, Mark, have a new granddaughter, Nora Lee Tolbert, born April 12.

Nora’s middle name was also the middle name of both parents of Mark. Her first name is after our own Lenora Johnson.

Lesa wrote the following of Lenora, “Yes, she is named after our beloved Lenora. We pray that as she grows, she, too, will be a blessing and inspiration to others as Lenora has been to anyone who has had the privilege of knowing her.”

True words, Lesa – true words.

Nora’s older sister, Mary Collins, turns 3 in July, Lord willing.

Mark and Lesa have four grandchildren now. Their daughter Lindsay has two boys, Cohen (4) and Rett (2) in Dallas.

Daughter Whitney and the two girls mentioned above live only 10 minutes away.

Whitney and her parents all sing together in their church choir.

Lesa’s younger sister Connie and her daughter Vanessa live nearby.

Lesa’s mother, Frances Merrell, lives in Birmingham and is under the care of Lesa’s older sister, Kathy.

The baccalaureate exercises of the Andalusia High School were conducted Sunday afternoon at 2:30, May 19, in the sanctuary of First Baptist Church (ETN).

The altar was decorated with white carnations.

The Irene Hines Bell Choir of First Baptist, directed by FBC minister of music, Dwight Crigger, began the service by ringing “How Great Thou Art.”

Ringers were Mrs. Don Cotton, Mrs. Kenneth Johnson, Mrs. Mary Ann Rabren Johnson, Mrs. James Krudop, Mrs. Jimmy Marley, Mrs. Joel Martin, Mrs. Willis Polk, Mrs. Doyle Prescott, Mrs. Glynn Rawls, Miss Charlotte Rogers, Mrs. Steve Thomas, Mrs. John Twitty and Miss Erica Ziglar.

This group has rung 28 years for baccalaureate, beginning in the days of Don Lingle, once minister of music at FBC.

The seniors, dressed in crimson robes and mortarboards, marched in double lines to their seating in the front pews of the central section as John A. Beasley, retired AHS math teacher, played on the pipe organ Handel’s “Largo” from Xerxes, a piece used now for 44 years. Mr. Beasley, who retired from AHS two years ago, has served as commencement organist for 34 years. He is an organist at three churches in Andalusia, First Baptist, First United Methodist, and St. Mary’s Episcopal.

Mr. Crigger led in the “Doxology.”

Anna Elizabeth Bowden, president of the Class of 2013, led her classmates in reciting Psalm XIX:l4 (KJV), a verse used by AHS seniors since the l950s.

Crigger led next the hymn, “Come, Thou Almighty King.”

Miss Bowden followed by leading all in “The Lord’s Prayer.”

The bell choir rang “Blessed Assurance.”

Lora Raegan Eiland, vice-president of her class, read the scripture for the sermon, using a red-bound Bible given as a senior gift by the Class of 1973. This Bible is usually autographed by the vice-presidents and preachers.

Sonia Crigger, FBC pianist, wife of Dwight Crigger, and mother of Carl Crigger, a member of the Class of ‘l3, sang a solo, “Find Your Wings,” accompanied by Mr. Beasley.

This was a big day for the Crigger family with both parents participating in the ceremony and Carl among his classmates. Carl’s sister Callie Marie, also a graduate of AHS, was in the congregation.

Dr. Fred Karthaus III, pastor at FBC, delivered the baccalaureate, “Preparing to Graduate.” It was an excellent, appropriate, and inspiring sermon.

The bell choir next rang the vespers, “He Touched Me.”

Miss Bowden prayed the benediction.

Mrs. Crigger ended the prayer by singing beautifully “The Lord’s Prayer.”

The seniors exited as Mr. Beasley played “Recessional MCMLXXIII (l973),” written in 1973 for the AHS Class of 1973 by one of their English teachers, S. Daniel Shehan, who played at the 1973 commencement exercises and other exercises for a dozen or so years. This was the 40th anniversary of “Recessional 1973.” Mr. Shehan, who is retired to Savannah, Ga., writes music under the pseudonym of S. Daniel O’Sheehan.

Marshals for commencement were Daniel Henderson, Michael McCalman, Shelby Golden and Ali Jackson.

Cord bearers were Nicole Spears and Ali Brown.

Ushers were Emily Kelley, Megan Kelley, Karlee Shirey and Gabrielle Purdue.

Faculty line marshals were Dr. Louis Anderson, who is retiring this year, and Allison Foshee.

The new sponsor of the Usher Club was Tina Rogers.

The program sketch of Old Main was drawn by Roger Powell, Class of 1972.

Serving as grand marshal for her first year was Nicole Jackson, Class of 1992.

The baccalaureate lasted about 45 minutes.

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.

Port Hudson, La., on the Mississippi River, withstood a Union attack. The North wanted Port Hudson because they wanted to control the Mississippi River. At Fort Hill on the river the Union also failed.

A regiment of black Union soldiers, the 54th Massachusetts Volunteers, left Boston to train at Hilton Head, South Carolina – a first for the Union.

President Jefferson Davis blamed Southern General Johnston for not attacking Grant’s positions near Vicksburg; thus, Davis thought, costing the Confederacy’s hold on Vicksburg. Northern General Burnside in the Department of the Ohio, tried to suppress The Chicago Times for expressing statements that seemed to him disloyal to the Union.

For those who collect stamps, consider those associated with the War of l8l2 and the Sesquicentennial of “the War.”

Thank you, Judy Buck, for identifying the mysterian (owned a millinery shop, AHS graduate in 1905, wife of Dr. Cook, the Baptist pastor) as Martha Riley.

This week’s mysterian was the first male member of our library board.

Birthdays this week are those of Thomas Moore, Irish poet; Patrick Henry, American patriot; and Gilbert Keith Chesterton, English author.

Moore’s sentimental songs include “Believe Me If All Those Endearing Young Charms,” “The Harp That Once Through Tara’s Halls,” and “The Last Rose of Summer.”

In “Believe Me” Moore writes that the heart that has truly loved never forgets but as truly loves on to close, which I take as truth.

Henry’s speech that ends with “give me liberty or give me death” is to me the greatest speech in American history. Every schoolchild should put it to memory.

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

Fare thee well.