Letters from Anglophile worth pursuing

Published 12:24 am Saturday, August 24, 2013

Peeping through my Venetian blind, I saw Noah and the ark go floating by.

Homecoming at the Andalusia High School is scheduled for the middle of September this year. Classes ending in “4” are to be honored – 1914, 1924, 1934, 1944 (Frances Ptomey’s), 1954, 1964, 1974 (the largest in AHS history), 1984, 1994 and 2004.

If you know of anyone in these classes, please inform the graduate to be up and doing.

A distant cousin of mine, Adam Wingard, has directed a new film, You’re Next, which was released yesterday.

Getting their ears lowered at Randy’s barbershop were Jim Starley and Ricky Linton.

The senior adults of Harmony Baptist Church assembled for their monthly lunch and program Aug. 14 in the church’s Fellowship Center, an impressive, modern, spacious, well-equipped building.

The seniors go by the name of the Joy Group, an acronym for “Just Older Youth.”

Members brought good home cooking for a delicious buffet. Chicken tenders were provided by the church.

On hand in leadership positions were Greg Cotter, the pastor; Sonja James, the chairlady for the group; and William Blocker, program chairman.

The program was given by a guest, Joe Wingard, who spoke on three books that influenced him positively – Uncle Arthur’s Bedtime Stories, Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, and Thomas Hughes’s Tom Brown’s Schooldays.

A commemoration of the Fort Mims Massacre is set for next weekend, Aug. 30 – Sept. l, near Bay Minette. Some 200 years ago, Aug. 30, 1813, Creek Indians killed some 400 settlers and militia after rushing into Fort Mims.

This led to a battle at Horseshoe Bend in Tallapoosa County where Andrew Jackson (later, the seventh president) and his troops killed about 800 Creek warriors.

A hero of the battle was Lemuel Montgomery for whom Montgomery County is named.

Alabama was not yet a state. It was part of the Mississippi Territory.

All this is tied into the War of 1812, which we have been remembering upon its 200th anniversary.

James Mitchell, who grew up in Greensboro, has been passing on to me some letters to the editor of The Greensboro Watchman, written by a Greensboro citizen, Randall Curb, an Anglophile who has spent about a dozen summers in England and has sent reports home of what he has experienced. Mr. Curb’s letters are rich with English architecture, history, and culture, and well worth pursuing.

Betty (Hand) Taylor, AHS Class of l954, would have loved to read them. She, too, was a true Anglophile.

Betty was also a poet. Much of her poetry and some of her manuscripts are lovingly preserved in the Heritage Room of the high school.

Seen at the Corner Market for the Sunday buffet were Wayne and Lenora Johnson and their grandson, Campbell, Rosalin Tiller, Neal King, Ed and Judy Buck, John and Gloria Collier, Thagard and Linda Colvin, Neal and Jennifer Dansby and her mother, June Smith, Gordon and Trudy Vickers, Brian and Anna Ward, Larry and Myra Wambles, Betty Cockcroft, Evan and Ophelia Merrill, Jimmy and Birdie Smith and Jimmy Gillis.

One of our local college students, Erica Ziglar, a trumpeter, played “Amazing Grace” in the assembly of the distinguished Baraca Class last weekend during Sunday School at First Baptist Church.

She then played “It Is Well” for the offertory in morning worship.

Martha (James) Givhan, church organist, accompanied Erica both times; first on the Ann Martin Memorial Piano in Baraca Hall; then, on the pipe organ in the sanctuary.

Flowers in the sanctuary at First Baptist were given in memory of Glenn Anderson by his family.

Seen at the Friday-night seafood buffet at Tabby D’s were Jimmy and Tammy Cox, their son Bryan and his wife Adrienne, and Bryan and Adrienne’s son, Jay, along with Jimmy’s mother, Doyce Cox, whose birthday all were celebrating.

Also seen at Tabby D’s were Morris and Rita Mullen, Robert Lee Holley, Sonny and Sue Ann Helms, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Ward of Opp, Gordon and Trudy Vickers, Brian and Jennifer Earnest, Don and Cheryl Cotton, Chase and LeAnne Cotton and their children, Savannah and Crews.

Seen Aug. 15 at David’s Catfish House for food and fellowship were senior adults of First Baptist – June Smith, Kittye Wyatt, Larry Shaw, Cynthia Shaw, Bill Law, Gordon and Trudy Vickers, Vivian Hickey, Bea Miller, Graham and Peggy Tucker, Morgan and Wilma Moore, Buddy and Betty Brunson, Joe Wingard, and Gillis “Combman” and Laura Ann Jones.

Returning at this time to the Portly Gentleman’s account of his trip to Vicksburg, Miss., in July for the national convention (“reunion”) of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, I shall let him pick up where he left off last Saturday.

“A business meeting Friday morning – the third day of the reunion – was followed by an awards luncheon and then a memorial service for SCV members who had died since the last reunion.

“The national reunion for 2014 was set for Charleston; the one for 2015, for Richmond, Va. All these tied into the Sesquicentennial of the War Between the States.

“The memorial service was attended in Christ Episcopal Church, an antebellum building begun in l839 with the first services in l843. During the Siege of Vicksburg in the War Between the States, the minister of Christ Church conducted daily services there.

“At that time the building was damaged by Federal explosives, but survived. All but one of its windows were blown out. Today it is beautifully restored.

“During the present-day service several SCV chaplains took turns, reading the names of SCV members who had died since last year. “Prayers were offered.

“We sang Robert E. Lee’s favorite hymn, ‘How Firm a Foundation.’

“At the end we sang ‘Amazing Grace,’ which moved me to tears, and listened to the final prayer, worded by Dr. Charles Baker, Alabama SCV chaplain.

“That morning I saw and spoke with Sir Francis and Ann McGowin, Joe Clark, Gary Carlisle (Alabama SCV commander-in-chief), Paul Vaughn, Philip and Rose Mary Davis, and Grace Long. Both Sir Francis and Joe Clark received honors at the awards banquet.

“During the meetings and meals I especially noticed what people wore because I had been scolded once for not wearing a coat and tie to the SCV state and national meetings. One is expected to dress well at SCV reunions. Many men wore period pieces. Sir Francis had a different set of clothing each day. He was a fashion plate.

“On Friday at national reunions, it is traditional for SCV members to wear seersucker suits, white bucks, and hand-tied bow ties. Most wore blue seersucker, but some wore green and even pink.

“We had free time after the memorial service, so I drove about town and looked for a place to buy supper. It turned out to be dinner.

“Friday night I ate in the dining room of the Cedar Grove Mansion, a large and beautiful antebellum home, now a bed and breakfast. I had spotted this mansion on Washington Street as I had driven back and forth to my room at the casino.

“Its dining room is open to the public. I did not need a reservation.

“My meal was served atop a black cloth, appointed with a black, cloth napkin, candlelight, and bread plate.

“I was served rolls in a basket, a garden salad with raspberry dressing, mashed potatoes, asparagus, filet mignon, and bread pudding.

“The next day was Saturday, the last day of the reunion, and our third and last business session.

“We ended the meeting with a rousing rendition of ‘Dixie.’

“For lunch we were on our own. I had heard about Walnut Hills Restaurant on Adams Street, housed in an l880 Victorian cottage.

“There are several dining areas within the restaurant with regular tables and chairs. One can sit at one of these and order off the menu or he can sit at one of two ‘round tables.’ These round tables are literally round. Each has a large lazy Susan in the middle, which one can rotate to select from a variety of dishes, like fried chicken and vegetables.

“I sat at a round table and ate to my heart’s content.

“After my meal I sat a long time on the front porch in a white wicker rocker and watched a mockingbird.

“Vicksburg was founded in 1819 like Alabama. The Indian name for Vicksburg means ‘Walnut Hills,’ thus the name of the restaurant. The Indian name for ‘Walnut Hills’ is Nogales, which is also the name of the house next door, used for special events, and owned by the owners of Walnut Hills Restaurant. If ever you travel to Vicksburg, be sure to eat at the Walnut Hills Restaurant.

“After lunch I drove around Vicksburg, up hill and down, stopping at the 1858 Warren County Courthouse, high atop the bluffs, perhaps the grandest and most imposing building in Vicksburg. The old courthouse is magnificent with its clock tower, bell tower, and Corinthian columns on all four sides. It is made even taller by three floors, the hill upon which it rests, and the bluff on which the hill rests. It’s quite a sight!

“The old courthouse is now a museum of Confederate history.

“There I ran into Gary and Kathy Carlisle, the Alabama SCV commander-in-chief and his wife.

“I huffed my way upstairs and sat a long time in the old courtroom, striking up conversations with passers-by.

“A fat, black cat named Maggie lay in the middle of the downstairs hall as if she were the curator.

“After an hour or two in the museum, I rode around, especially admiring the churches.

“Although I’d eaten not long before, I ate again at Rusty’s because I’d heard so many nice compliments about this plain, simple restaurant at the bottom of the bluff. Rusty’s was dark – dark as a cave, but pleasingly cool.

“I must record here for ‘POTsterity’ what I ate at Rusty’s – a green salad with Thousand Islands dressing, an Arnold Palmer, cheese grits, and a plate FULL of big fried oysters, one of the best servings of oysters that ever I did eat — oysters piled upon oysters as if the cook didn’t even bother to count them! Oysters! Oysters! Oysters!

“That puts me in mind of the old saying, ‘It was a brave man whut first et an oyster!’

“Stuffed with fried oysters, I felt the world was my oyster! I drove up the street to the nearby Convention Center for the last meeting of the SCV reunion – a grand ball and banquet – a steak dinner, with steaks that hung off the plate!


“I had parked near the front door. ‘How smart I am,’ I thought. I’m first. I have an excellent parking spot. This is too good to be true. It was.

“I parked over the line. ‘I’d better back out and try this again,’ I thought. My car wouldn’t start. Dead as a door nail! Everyone knows how miserable it is to have car trouble away from home. I tried and tried and tried. My ignorance of automobiles bested me. Oh, I was blue. I saw some security guards and begged help from one named Ronnie Nichols. Another guard, Edward Allen, told me it wasn’t the end of the world and to stop worrying, that everything would be all right. Bless him! He called a friend of his, Larry Judge, who got my car started. I am writing their names in gold for their help and encouragement. ‘God, bless them, everyone!’

“While I waited for help, I did have some good fortune – to see the men and women in their period dress as they arrived for the ball. They looked like a million dollars!

“By the time my car was repaired, though, I was too tired, disheartened, hot, and soiled to attend the ball and banquet, so I missed out on my steak dinner.

“I dragged myself back to my room at the Lady Luck Casino and spent my last night there.”

Next Saturday, Lord willing, we shall read about what the Portly Gentleman did on Sunday, after the SCV reunion was all over.

The celebration of the 200th 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.

In Lawrence, Kansas, a Union stronghold, William C. Quantrill’s guerrillas terrorized civilians, leaving 150 dead, many wounded, and property destroyed. Although Quantrill had been denied a commission by the Confederate Secretary of War because of his barbaric notions, he sided with the South, to the disapproval of many Southerners.

The bombardment of Fort Sumter in Charleston Bay continued.

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

No one guessed the mysterian last week. It is the building that once stood in what is now the front yard of the City Hall.

Birthdays for the past week include that of Edgar Lee Masters, an American attorney and poet, whose masterpiece is Spoon River Anthology, a collection of autobiographical voices from the graves of those buried in Spoon River, a town. Each poem in the collection is one person’s voice, telling about himself. Perhaps the most popular is “Richard Cory.”

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

Fare thee well.