Trips, sightings galore as travels are told today

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 3, 2013

Peeping through my Venetian blind, I saw the sweet autumn clematis, coming into bloom. Its lacey, curling beauty was climbing o’er trellis and post.

Seen at Larry’s for Sunday supper were Johnny and Nelda Godwin, B. J. and Hazel McClain, Robert and Louise Anderson, Gary Brooks, Perry Smith, Kelly and Amanda Windham, Larry and Margaret Sanders and their son David, Bill and Judy Godwin, and Ricky and Laura Oswald.

Kelly Windham preaches at Esto Church of Christ in Esto, Fla.

Word comes of the good preaching done by Chad Griggs of the Church of God in Brewton, especially the revival he preached at New Song Community Baptist Church here in Andalusia.

Seen at the hospital cafeteria for lunch Sunday were William and Dianne Blocker, Jeff and Laquetta Grimes and their Aunt Nett, Danny and Kathy (Chesser) Gantt, John and Nancy Smith, Betty Bass and Dan and Virginia Frasher.

Rogerl Reeves sang a solo, “How Great Thou Art,” in the Sunday-School assembly of the distinguished Baraca Class of the First Baptist Church, East Three-Notch. He was accompanied at the Ann Martin Memorial piano by Martha (James) Givhan.

In morning worship the associate pastor, Judson Blackstock, was recognized for five years at First Baptist and presented a gift by Larry Avery, representing the congregation.

The special music, a solo, “Take Me to the King,” was shared by Callie-Marie Crigger, home for the summer from college and daughter of Dwight and Sonia Crigger, the minister of music and his wife, the church pianist. Callie-Marie was accompanied by her mother.

Blackstock preached in the absence of the senior pastor, Dr. Fred Karthaus, who was away, preaching a revival.

In clearing the grounds for the construction of the new middle-school wing at the Andalusia High School, those in charge cut down the deodar, which stood to the left of Old Main as one faces the high school on Third Street. That was July l0.

This was particularly sad because the tree, once one of four in Andalusia, was the last left standing and was healthy and beautiful.

As one faced Springdale, the high school, Church Street School, and East Three-Notch School, he once could see to the left of each building a deodar, a cedar from India known as “the timber of the gods.”

How these came to be in Andalusia I don’t know, but I have an idea. I think Mr. John Scherf was involved because one deodar stood at his home, Springdale.

I think all four must have been planted at the same time because of the age of the trees and the similar location at each site.

The trees must have been planted around 1939 because Old Main was not built till then and there would have been no campus before then to landscape. That means the last of the deodars was about 73 years of age.

Someone said of the death of the deodar, “That’s progress.”

I say, “That’s a shame.”

There’s more sad news, concerning the history of the high school.

Termites have gotten into the Heritage Room where much of the school’s history is preserved. One wall has been eaten through and termites have gotten into some items hanging there. A coat of arms painted by Sally (Thompson) Reagan, Class of 1973, has been ruined, as well as an antique diploma.

Also, some of the uniforms donated are tainted with mildew.

I understand that termites can be found in other parts of Old Main, too. (See Editor’s Note at the bottom.)

When the Portly Gentleman was traveling in South Alabama, he passed a Methodist Church in Spanish Fort. The church sign advertised “traditional worship service at 9 a.m.” and a “temporary one at 11 a.m.” He could not help but smile.

While in the Mobile area, the Portly One stopped for the night at the Grand Hotel in Point Clear.

He ate dinner in the Grand Dining Room, which, for the night, had been divided into two dining areas, the Steak House and the Saltwater Grill. He ate at the latter.

Taking a table by the floor-to-ceiling windows, the Portly One had a view of the following: Mobile Bay and Mobile itself like a gray shadow in the distance, seagulls, live oaks with Spanish moss, sailboats, ships, speed boats, paddle boats, guests on bicycles, walkers, hammocks, a croquet lawn with children at play, an arbor swing, shrubs and gardens, an old cannon fired each evening, horse shoes, and the setting sun.

His dinner included fried oysters, fried shrimp, hush puppies, seasoned rice, slaw, stir-fried vegetables, a small pone of cornbread in a little, iron skillet (enough for a supper in itself), butter in a little bowl with its own handle, an Arnold Palmer, coffee, and strawberry short cake.

The table appointments included cloths, cloth napkins and bread plates.

The next morning he ate from the breakfast buffet, also in the Grand Dining Room.

With time to spare, the Portly Gentleman drove to nearby Fairhope, that small, fashionable, Southern town known for its art and beauty, the site of the Portly One’s destination – the Alabama Writers Conclave, an organization for writers. The group meets annually for a workshop and business.

Stopping at the Fairhope Park on the Eastern Shore of Mobile Bay, he sat a long time in the sun, watching the purple martins in their houses atop poles in the shallow bay, reading, and trying his hand at a poem.

The park is a pleasant place with shade trees, a manmade beach for sunning and swimming, volleyball nets, a children’s play area with see-saws, swings, and climbing bars, picnic tables, a fountain in the midst of a rose garden, bird houses, educational signs, benches, a marina, Mobile across the bay, a pier, and honking geese.

He walked out on the pier to the rustic Yardarm Restaurant with its nautical decorations and outside-or-inside dining.

There he ate lunch and drank an Arnold Palmer (half tea, half lemonade).

Driving into the heart of Fairhope, the Portly One visited the local history museum and walked to a gift shop to see Shirley Russell, a friend of his sister-in-law. Shirley was away, but the Portly One struck up a conversation with Janice and Janet, who also work at Ole Bay Mercantile.

He walked on to the Fairhope campus of the University of South Alabama where the Alabama Writers’ Conclave planned to gather for its three-day convention.

The USA campus in Fairhope was formerly the property of the St. James Episcopal Church in Fairhope. Several AWC classes were taught in the former sanctuary.

Back the Portly One went, then, to the Hampton Inn, his “home” for the weekend.

In his room was a trashcan such as he had never seen. In it was a liner divided in two sections, one for garbage, one for recycled items.

“Hmmm,” thought the Portly Gentleman.

After a rest the Portly One went back to the USA campus, registered, fellowshipped and ate from a buffet. There he ate hummus and couscous for the first time.

The program that evening was given by Jeanie (Weaver) Thompson, director of the Alabama Writers’ Forum, who spoke on the state of literature in Alabama.

Our own David Walters could benefit with a grant from the AWF to develop his list of local writers.

The next morning the Portly One attended two classes on poetry, taught by Beth Ann Fennelly from Olde Miss in Oxford, Miss.

For lunch the Portly Gentleman dined in the Fairhope Inn and Restaurant on Church Street, a lovely, cool world of green-and-white awnings and matching interior.

He sat on the sun porch with its ceiling fans, looking out onto the patio with its gardens, gazebo, and tables.

Across the front of the inn was a porch with wicker furniture.

The inn was a place of taste and excellence.

His table by a wall of plate glass was covered with a white cloth and laid with a cloth napkin, bread plate, butter knife, and fine cutlery.

He selected roasted oysters, tomato basil soup, a hot loaf of bread (just baked), a bowl of configurated butter, and a crab cake atop a mixed salad, topped with a sweet-potato “haystack,” a cluster of extraordinarily thin, deep-fried, sweet-potato “strings.”

For dessert there was hot blueberry bread pudding and coffee.

There were two more classes on poetry for him after lunch.

That night he attended an awards banquet in the Venue on Section Street.

The next morning the Portly One attended two more classes, one on haiku and one on non-fiction.

The haiku was taught by Terri Frend, Southeast coordinator of the Haiku Society of America, founded in 2008.

The other class was instructed by Linda Busby Parker, a novelist who teaches creative writing at the USA.

A variety of classes was offered for aspiring writers.

In the final business meeting Sue B. Walker, former poet laureate of Alabama, was elected president of the AWC for the next two years.

On his way home to Andalusia the Portly One stopped for lunch at Street’s in Bay Minette – John Beasley country. Street’s serves a buffet of good, country cooking.

The celebration of the two-hundredth anniversary of the War of l8l2 continues.

Again, I ask that citizens 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 up-coming meetings.

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

This week’s review will cover the last three weeks since I did not write columns for the past two Saturdays.

Union forces occupied Jackson, Miss.

Battery Wagner in Charleston Harbor, S. C., was attacked and besieged by Unionists. The 54th Massachusetts Colored Infantry, in particular, suffered defeat. Their commander, Col. R.G. Shaw, was killed. (This battle has become famous because of a modern movie, Glory.)

In Ohio, Morgan’s raiders lost more than 800 men to the Federals, escaping with 300 men.

Northern General Meade followed Lee’s retreating troops into Virginia, but failed to cut Lee’s Army in two as he had hoped.

Still in Ohio John Hunt Morgan and his officers were captured and placed in the Ohio Penitentiary, from which Morgan later escaped. Even later Morgan returned to battle and was killed in a raid.

Confederate John Singleton Mosby (“The Gray Ghost”) and his Irregulars harassed Meade’s army with guerilla warfare.

Desertion from the Confederate army increased.

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

Both Sidney Waits and Judy (Ward) Buck identified the two businesses that advertised in the “Bottom” (the dip in South Cotton Street) when trains arrived. They were the Dixie Hotel, located on South Cotton, and the Riley House, which stood on a little bluff on South Three-Notch Street next to the railroad tracks. Porters from both would be on hand to gather up customers for the night when trains arrived. Each shouted out his hotel’s name – “Dixie Hotel!” “Riley House!”

The new mysterian was once librarian at the Lurleen Burns Wallace Junior College. She was civic-minded and active in clubs. Her unexpected death left many feeling they had lost a precious friend.

Birthdays for the past three weeks are as follows: Rembrandt van Rijn, Dutch painter; Clement C. Moore, preacher who wrote “The Night Before Christmas”; Isaac Watts, English writer of hymns; William Makepeace Thackeray, English author; Francesco Petrarch, Italian poet; Ernest Hemingway, American novelist; Stephen Vincent Benet, American poet; Thomas a Kempis, German writer; George Bernard Shaw, Irish-English playwright (perhaps the best since Shakespeare); Beatrix Potter, British author/artist of “The Tale of Peter Rabbit”; Booth Tarkington, American novelist; Alexandre Dumas, French novelist; Emily Bronte, English novelist; and Francis Scott Key, author of the words to our national anthem.

The last three weeks also saw the anniversaries of the founding of Columbia University, the Battle of Atlanta (in which our own “Uncle Aus” Prestwood fought), the founding of the post office, the beginning of World War I, and the adoption of our motto, “In God We Trust.”

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

Fare thee well.


Editor’s Note: xxxxxxxx