It was a trip Scarlett, Eudora would’ve just loved

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 10, 2013

Peeping through my Venetian blind, I saw white lilies, growing wild all over the place. The landscape looked more like Easter than summer.

The Mildred Hart Sunday School Class of First Baptist Church honored one of its members, Agnes Fowler, Wed., July 30, with a farewell luncheon at David’s Catfish House. Mrs. Fowler plans to move to Memphis, Tennessee, to be nearer her granddaughter.

Honoring Mrs. Fowler were Margaret Eiland, Linda Finlin (class teacher), Vivian Hickey, Carolyn Lambert, Lucy Martin, Voncile Newman, Carolyn O’Neal, Margaret Smyly, Mary Frances Taylor, Marie Pruitt (a guest), Bea Miller, Georgette Pass, Rose Marie Price, Peggy Eiland (a guest), Irene (Davis) Butler, and Doyce Cox (class president).

Seen at Larry’s Restaurant August 5 for supper were Billy and Madelene Smithart. They lived most of their adult lives in Louisiana but have come back home to Andalusia for “the duration.” They have already celebrated 50 years of marriage.

The Murals Committee of Andalusia met in City Hall Aug. 5, to hear a presentation by Barbara (Meredith) Nichols, encouraging the committee to consider a mural about local law enforcement.

Mrs. Nichols used Power Point, a display of pictures, and a 10-page handout to offer a detailed background for such a mural.

On hand to hear the details was Wes Hardin, the muralist from Dothan who has painted all the murals in Andalusia so far.

A separate presentation by Barbara Tyler of our town government informed the committee about grants for murals.

Presiding was Pat Palmore, chairwoman.

Committee members present were David Fuqua, Elaine Manning, Nancy Robbins, Mary Lee Howard, Robert Anderson and Joe Wingard.

Currently the murals committee is working to complete the Alatex murals on River Falls Street.

Mrs. Palmore set the next meeting for Aug. 12 at 2 p.m.

The Covington Rifles Camp l586 of the Sons of Confederate Veterans met Aug. 1 in the Dixon Memorial of our public library.

Curtis Hampton Thomasson, the new commander, presided.

“Hank” Roberts, chaplain, led in both invocation and benediction.

Jimmy Cobb led the three pledges to the flags.

Randy “R” Kelley led in “Dixie.”

Commander Thomasson announced new officers: Jimmy Mott, surgeon; Jimmy Cobb, color sergeant, assisted by Morris Mullen; Randy Kelly, songster; Sir Francis McGowin, newsletter editor; Joe Wingard, historian; Vaughn Bowers, first lt. commander; Larry Shaw, second lt. commander; Derick Davis, adjutant; John Allen Gantt, judge advocate; and Ken Reeves, quartermaster.

The program was a report on the national SCV reunion (convention) July 17–20 in Vicksburg, Miss., by two local members who attended the reunion, Sir Francis McGowin and Joe Wingard. Sir Francis’s wife, Ann, also attended.

In attendance were Jimmy Cobb, Morris Mullen, Philip Mott, Jimmy Mott, Curtis H. Thomasson, Joe Wingard, Sir Francis McGowin, Kelly Veasey, Ken Reeves, Randy “R” Kelley, Hank Roberts, John Allen Gantt, Vaughn Bowers and Derick Davis.

Ann McGowin sent a cake for the camp to enjoy. Sherry Kelley had sent two pecan pies last month. Those present last month were still talking about those pecan pies.

Two young ladies, Ava Ramsden and Erin Riley, were baptized during the morning worship service at First Baptist Church, Sun., Aug. 4, by Dr. Fred Karthaus, pastor.

Some 24 senior adults from First Baptist toured the facilities at the SITEL plant on Thurs., July 11, hosted by the site director, Brandy Miller.

The tour included a review of the work of each department.

Attending were Dr. Morgan and Wilma Moore, Gillis and Laura Ann Jones, Bill Law, Gordon and Trudy Vickers, Herb and Sue Carlisle, R. K. and Rose Marie Price, Kittye Wyatt, Vivian Hickey, Bea Miller, Nancy Smith, Dan and Virginia Frasher, Billy Beech, Buddy and Betty Brunson, Annette Burt, Irene Butler and Claude and Nan Pike.

After the tour most of the group reassembled at Hilltop Seafood Restaurant for food, fun and fellowship. Joining the group for supper were June Smith and Betty Bass.

Seen at the hospital cafeteria last Sunday for lunch were Ron and Caroline (Cumbie) Picking, Richard and Georgette Pass, Rayford and Carolyn Davis, Willie and Rachel (Davis) Watson and Wem and Linda Mellown.

Shirley Stokes and Irene (Davis) Butler motored to Montgomery last Sunday afternoon, Aug. 4, to attend the Alabama Senior Citizens Hall of Fame for 2013 in Montgomery’s First Baptist downtown.

This Hall of Fame was created in 1983 by the Alabama Legislature to recognize and honor Alabama’s senior citizens.

In 2008, the Hall of Fame became part of the Alabama Department of Senior Services.

This year, 10 seniors were inducted into the permanent hall, 15 married couples (married 65 years or more) were recognized, and 45 seniors 100 or older were recognized. Eight of these 100-year-olds were actually present to receive recognition.

Concerning these honors, Covington County has been represented in various categories over the years – Dr. A. B. Lee of Opp (1998), Thelma Dixon and Irene Butler (2001), and Dr. Rex A. Butler (2003 as the Golden Eagle Physician).

Classes ending in “4” are set to be honored at homecoming this September at the Andalusia High School. If you are in the following classes, make plans for your reunions – 1934, 1944, 1954, 1964, 1974, 1984, 1994 and 2004. Homecoming is set for the middle of September this year – unusually early.

The Portly Gentleman drove to Vicksburg, Miss., in July to attend the national SCV reunion (annual convention).

I’ve asked him, gentle reader, to tell you about his trip in his own words.

“I set out a day or so early for Vicksburg so that I could enjoy the journey and not feel rushed, taking 84-W.

“Summer was all about me – the green woods, blue July sky, translucent clouds, crepe myrtles, petunias, sunflowers, corn fields and rows of cotton.

“My rolling machine and I wheeled through Evergreen, Repton, Excel (with thoughts of Mary Hill, ‘the Belle of Excel’), Monroeville, and Perdue Hill with its collection of white, wooden, clapboard houses. The Masonic Hall Lodge No. 3 there is the oldest building in Monroe County. Built in 1824, the lower floor served as a Baptist church and as a courtroom where William B. Travis practiced law and where General Lafayette visited on April 6, l825.

“Crossing the hills of Clarke County and the Alabama River, I came to Grove Hill, that pleasant little town, the home of Miss Marion “Bumpy” Bumpers, a retired teacher who served for years in the educational system of Montgomery, earning an excellent reputation, beloved and popular across the state. Although she was never my teacher, I knew her when I was but a pupil at Morningview Elementary School, Montgomery, and wished I could be in her class. Everyone wanted to be in her class.

“Nowadays Miss Bumpers lives in an 1850 antebellum house, her childhood home, with the Methodist Church she attends across the way, along with the First Baptist Church, the library, and the Clarke County High School. What a neighborhood!

“She was not home; so, leaving a note, I continued on my way.

“The highway looked like a wavy ribbon, hill after hill, a ribbon of Confederate colors – yellow, white, and gray, as though some Confederate wife had washed her husband’s trousers and laid them out in the sun to dry.

“Past Coffeeville I came to the Jim Folsom Bridge over the Tombigbee River.

“Just ahead of me was a stretch of tall wildflowers, all the same, name unknown to me, and beautiful. I noticed that two ladies had pulled off the road and were gathering some, pulling up roots to transplant. I pulled off to ask the name. They didn’t know either. There, out in the middle of nowhere perfect strangers were suddenly friends, all from something in common, a love of flowers.

“Passing into Mississippi, I entered Wayne County where the road, which had been two-lanes across Alabama, suddenly became four-lanes and stayed so all across Mississippi.

“My destination for the day was Jackson, the capital of Mississippi, named for Andrew Jackson, the most populous city in the state. I had to leave 84-W at Collins and take 49-N to get there. When I arrived, I found a tangle of roads.

“Turning off onto State Street, just because of its name, I happened to pass by the old state capitol, now a museum, and found down the street the Capitol Inn, where I stayed the night. It was the first place I came to, and I was too tired and ‘lost’ to look elsewhere.

“Capitol Inn, named for the old capitol up the street, was a fancy bed and breakfast.

“The clerk was nice enough to make me a little supper of shrimp salad so that I wouldn’t have to go out amid strange streets. I had never been to Jackson and dreaded getting lost downtown.

“I ate alone in the sunroom, which also served as the dining room. From my chair I could see outside a patio and courtyard with a garden, goldfish pond, a little bridge over the pond, benches, iron-wrought tables and chairs, umbrellas, birdbath, and large fountain.

“After supper I walked about the courtyard and then up to the roof garden where I had a grand view of the city. Gentle breezes blew as I took in the domes of the old and new capitols in the distance.

“A breakfast buffet was served the next morning in the sunroom. Cloths, cloth napkins and fresh flowers were on the tables. My plate hosted biscuits and tomato gravy, bacon, sausage, scrambled eggs, grits, juices, coffee, and fresh fruit. I especially enjoyed the tomato gravy. (I never heard of tomato gravy before I moved to Andalusia, believe it or not. Now I can’t get enough of it!)

“I was told it wasn’t far to Vicksburg, so I decided to see a bit of Jackson. I had become aware since my arrival that Jackson is the home of that famous Southern novelist, Eudora Alice Welty (1909 – 2001), who was born there, lived there, died there, and is buried there. Her parents’ tudor-style home on Pinehurst Street, built in 1925, was Miss

Welty’s home for 76 years. She moved in at the age of 16.

“It was easy to find the Welty house, a beautiful structure, lovingly restored, and run now by the state, if memory serves. I just had to continue down State Street until I came to Pinehurst, a matter of a dozen or fewer blocks from my bed and breakfast.

“Turning right onto Pinehurst, I found it was only a hop, skip, and a jump to the Welty house.

“Across the street from the house is Belhaven University, a private school associated with the Presbyterians.

“Next to the Welty house is the Armstrong house, purchased for a welcome center and a museum. I watched a film on Welty there and studied keepsakes in this excellent museum. The Armstrongs, neighbors, willingly gave up rights to their house and moved, to make possible this center/museum next to their famous neighbor.

“The yards of both houses were beautiful, maintained by volunteers. Some plants had been started by Miss Welty and her mother. The Welty yard was kept as Eudora had kept it. I sat in a rose-covered trellis and took in the beauty.

“A docent, Julianne Summerford, took two young ladies and me through the Welty house, where Eudora had written all of her major works. The furniture is mainly original. When Eudora died, there were 5,000 books in the house.

“The one item that fascinated me most was a white feather, brought to Miss Welty from Ireland by a friend, a white feather from a swan, one of “The Wild Swans at Coole,” written by the Irish poet, William Butler Yeats. This was a favorite poem of Miss Welty.

“On the side porch I sat in Miss Welty’s rocking chair and enjoyed a breeze.

“The two young ladies were on a literary tour and planned next to visit Montgomery to see the home in Cloverdale of Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald.

“Mrs. Summerford, at my request, suggested a place for lunch – Sophia’s in the Fairview Inn, a grand, private home with eight columns, a colonial showpiece, built in 1908, now a bed and breakfast and restaurant. Scarlet O’Hara would have felt right at home.

“I took lunch in an elegant dining room with walls of windows. My table appointments included a white cloth and napkin, bread plate and butter knife, fresh flowers, and seven utensils.

“My lunch consisted of tomato-basil soup, yeast rolls, an Arnold Palmer, smoked fried chicken, mashed sweet potatoes and asparagus.

“After lunch I walked about. A huge magnolia leaned over an outdoor area of tables and chairs.

“This was Southern living on the grand scale.”

Next Saturday, Lord willing, we shall hear of the arrival of the Portly Gentleman in Vicksburg.

The celebration of the two-hundredth anniversary of the War of 1812 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 upcoming meetings.

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

Confederate General Lee offered to resign as commander of the Army of Northern Virginia, but President Jefferson Davis refused the offer.

For those who collect stamps, consider those associated with the War of 1812 and the Sesquicentennial of “the War.”

Edwyna Ivey correctly identified the mysterian as Miss Sandra King, the much admired and missed. Thank you, Mrs. Ivey.

The new mysterian is a building that stood at the corner of South Three-Notch and Pear, used for local entertainment and early high-school graduation exercises.

Birthdays for the past week include those of Percy Bysshe (rhymes with fish) Shelley, English poet; Alfred, Lord Tennyson, English poet; Izaak Walton, English writer; and John Dryden, English poet and dramatist.

Tennyson’s best-known line is “’Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”

Walton wrote the best-known book on fishing, The Compleat Angler (The Complete Fisherman).

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

Fare thee well.