It was homecoming in true sense of the word

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 21, 2013

Peeping through my Venetian blind the other afternoon, I dwelt on the beauty of the sunlight as it streamed through the plumes of the pampas grass over at Covington Hall where Colonel Covington and his sisters, Miss Cora, Miss Dora and Miss Flora, were seated on lawn chairs, enjoying the cooler temperature in the gloaming.

Summer ends today, and Sunday is the first day of autumn.

The senior adults of First Baptist, East Three-Notch, assembled for their monthly luncheon on Tues., Sept. 17, in the church’s fellowship hall.

Gordon Vickers, director to senior adults, presided.

Kim Dyess worded the blessing; Dr. Fred Karthaus, pastor, offered the benediction.

Judge Benjamin Bowden, probate judge of Covington County, a graduate of the School of Law at the University of Alabama, and member of the law firm of Albrittons, Clifton, Alverson, Moody, and Bowden, spoke. (The law firm mentioned above, by the way, is the oldest in the state, in continuous existence.)

Judge Bowden, a native of Brundidge, is married to Angela Mobley. They have two children, Anna Beth (18) and Sim (14).

Judge Bowden spoke on handicapped tags, drivers’ insurance, health care, one’s last will and testament and adoptions.

“Happy Birthday” was sung to Kim Dyess, Peggy Eiland and her mother, Margaret Eiland, and Herb Carlisle.

Trudy Vickers decorated the tables with centerpieces of apples, baby’s breath and nandina leaves, skirted with red candy. She placed floral napkins of black and white.

Hilltop provided the buffet of country-fried pork steak, rice and gravy, green beans, rolls, peach cobbler, and tea.

Larry Shaw sang solos the last two Sundays in the pre-class assembly of the distinguished Baraca Class at First Baptist, accompanied both times by Martha (James) Givhan at the Ann Martin Memorial piano.

Seen at the Corner Market for the Sunday buffet were James and Era Andrews, Gordon and Trudy Vickers, Wayne and Margaret Bennett, Jeremy and Kristen Craig and their son Gibson, Natasha Mallory, Sally Hall, Frank and Tina Moore, Wayne and Lenora Johnson, the Carrs, Dallas and Boncile Merritt, the Billy Bryant family, Ed and Judy Buck, Thagard and Linda Colvin, and Frances Ptomey with her daughter, Sara Boone, and her son, Joe Ptomey, and his wife, Vickie.

Also seen were June Smith, her son Bill and his wife Wanda, from California, here for Bill’s reunion of the Andalusia High School Class of 1974 – the 40th; as well as June’s daughter, Jennifer, and her husband Neal Dansby, and their daughter, Judith Anne, who has entered the field of education like her parents and grandmother.

At First Baptist last Sunday I ran into Bill Dannelly, one of the sons of the late Ed Dannelly, one-time editor of our local newspaper. Bill told me he lives in Raleigh, N.C., and was in the AHS Class of 1969 (I think). I supposed he was in “the Dimple of Dixie” for the AHS homecoming. His dad was a character, one of Andalusia’s most memorable persons. I can see him now, a mat of white hair, large, dark-rimmed glasses, pipe clutched in his teeth, bowtie, hearing what he chose to hear, writing of someone ill as “under the knife,” promoting Birmingham-Southern and other causes. His wife, “Twinkle,” sweet and petite, checked every word in the paper for correctness before it went to press.

Homecoming at AHS was Friday, Sept. 13. It began with a breakfast for alumni, followed by an extended assembly with skits, honoring mainly the classes of 1974, 1984, 1994, and 2004. Recognition was also given to the classes of 1964 (Golden Reunion – 50 years), 1954 (60 years), and 1944 (70 years).

Two members of the Class of 1944 were present, Frances “Dooley” (Colquett) Hogg and Frances (Palmer) Ptomey.

Their gift to the school 70 years ago was the sidewalk, leading up to the front doors of Old Main. It is still there.

The assembly was followed by an afternoon parade through town and the game that night, which the Andalusia Bulldogs won against Hillcrest of Evergreen, 29 – 21, their third game and third victory this season.

The Class of 1954 ate breakfast at the high school, sat together in assembly, and ate lunch in the River Room of David’s Catfish House. Some went to the parade and game.

In assembly the class performed their cheer – “We’ve been there; we’ve done that; and we’re back for more! We are the Class of ’54!”

Attending assembly were Judy (Ward) Buck, Tarldon Neese and his wife Helen, Jewel (House) Curry, Bobbie June (Barrow) Willis, Frank Daniel, Charlie Vickery and his wife Mary Emma Moates of the Class of 1957, Ann (Wishum) Jeffcoat and her husband Carl Jeffcoat (Ann and Carl were the only classmates to be married to each other), and Louise (King) Norsworthy.

Joining their classmates for lunch were Levon Lindsey and his wife Kate (from Brantley), and Maxine (Walker) Bannister.

At the game, John Cook and his wife, Shirley, joined the group.

I have no information about the Class of 1964, their names and activities. Perhaps someone in that class would supply me with some notes for a future column.

The Class of 1974, the largest class in AHS history – some 200 – assembled around six Saturday evening, Sept. 14, at Marilyn Williams’ Oakwood Lodge for a buffet of barbecue, chicken tenders, potato salad, slaw, rolls, peach cobbler, pound cake and tea.

Some sat in rockers on the front porch in the cool of the evening.

Don Cotton presided. Gary McCurley worded the invocation.

A DJ, Ron Terry, played music from the ‘70s, such as “Jeremiah Was a Bullfrog.”

Guests included four former teachers, Gloria Dupree (formerly known as Mrs. Donaldson), who taught math; Jerri Stroud, who taught science; Walter Wytch, who taught English; and Joe Wingard, who taught English. All live in Andalusia except for Mrs. Dupree, who resides in Asheville, N.C. Her son Gavin lives in Andalusia.

Don Cotton updated his classmates as to all the changes at AHS since their last reunion. He was followed by brief speeches by the former teachers.

Most of the evening was spent just talking with each other. A class picture was made before the assembly went home.

A display of pictures of classmates who are deceased stood at one wall.

Tables were centered with artsy arrangements and pictures of classmates.

A bowl of boiled, green peanuts invited tasters.

Toward the end of the get-together, classmates gathered at a large TV screen to watch Auburn win another football victory.

Below is a list of classmates and some spouses who attended the reunion fellowship. The ladies are listed by maiden names if I didn’t know their married names, as follows: Chris and Mary (Adams) Wilson, Andy Alexander, John David Anderson, Cozy (Ballesteros) Baker, David Barnes, Julie Bass, Gary and Sue (Bass) McCurley, Wanda Beasley, Bruce “Chuck” Bryant and his wife Jan, Andrew Carroll (whose team at the Tuscaloosa newspaper won a Pulitzer Prize for their work on the tornadoes that struck Tuscaloosa), Drew Cook, Lucky Cope, Nellda Cross, Don and Cheryl (Spaulding) Cotton, Tanya Dembitsky, Jerry Garvin, Jan Glisson (and Frank King), Donna Grissett, Sharon Lucas, Joan (Meadows) Moulton, Rickey Morrow, Sharon (LeMay) Patterson, Karon (LeMay) Holley, Becky Meeks, Bill Smith (and his wife Wanda), Abbie (Taylor) Miller, Rocky Thomasson, Pat Traywick, Altheia Veasey (and her husband, Sheriff Dennis Meeks), Tommy Walker (valedictorian of his class, and his wife Donna), Bobby Waller, “Boo” Flowers, Gary Goodson (and Ann), and Marion Bell Taylor (and her husband Craig Dyess). I wish I could have listed all the spouses and all those present, but I couldn’t remember all. I recall that Amy (Davis) Williams attended with Andrew Carroll.

Betty Mitchell, the “Travel Queen,” led a group from this area on a bus tour to Chicago, June 2-8.

Here is the first chapter of notes on that trip, kept by the Scribe of the journey.

“Boarding the bus in Opp on Sunday morning were Pat Armstead, Effie Brooks, Mary Buckelew, Louise Buehler (from Enterprise), Barbara Holley (from Florala), Betty Kelley, Virginia Merritt, Jan and Jerry Scroggins (from Ozark), James and Joy Simmons, Barbara and Joe Tisdale, Stephanie Rogers (their daughter), Margie Jordan (Barbara’s sister), and Dorothy Waldrop.

“The bus then traveled to West Highland Assembly of God in Andalusia (Miss Betty’s church) where Margaret and Wayne Benett, Barbara Cantaline, Jo Driggers (from Lexington, S.C.), Shirley Hickman (from Grove Hill), Betty Long, Ann McGowin, Betty Mitchell, Gladys Norris, Jo Ray, Trudie Steele, Gladys Trawick, and Rosalyn Wright (from Red Level) joined the group.

“Our driver was Julio Gacitua-aga Vasque, a native of Chile, South America. Julio, who recently became a citizen of the United States, had previously driven one of Miss Betty’s tours to the Amish Country in Pennsylvania. Some of the ladies were always taking pictures of the handsome Latino. The bus, a fairly new one, was equipped with seat belts and WiFi access.

“Wayne Bennett offered prayer for a safe journey, and we were on our way. This being Sunday, we worshipped as we rode along Highway 65. Wayne also conducted the devotions entitled ‘Friendship from a Biblical Perspective.’ A CD of gospel music was then played.

“A late breakfast/early lunch was enjoyed at the Cracker Barrel in Prattville. It would not be a ‘Miss Betty trip’ unless one ate at a Cracker Barrel several times. A blessing was always offered before each meal.

“After eating, we napped, read books, talked, and looked at the scenery. Following Highway 65, we motored through Birmingham and into Tennessee, taking rest stops every few hours. We were able to stay on 65 for most of the trip, only getting off in northern Indiana as we turned west to head for Illinois and Chicago.

“Our destination for the first night was Nashville. When we arrived, we were told our rooms at the hotel were not ready; so Julio rode us around the city to see the sights. The first thing we saw was the AT&T Building. Its design and dark coloration have earned it the nickname, ‘Batman Building,’ due to its resemblance to the mask of Batman. It has been named one of the 12 most original office buildings in the world and currently is the tallest building (23 stories) in Tennessee.

“While riding around, we saw the strangest thing on the streets – a Pedal Tavern. This is a self-powered, mobile bar, with stools on each side, rented by 12 or more people for parties and outings. Each stool is equipped with bicycle pedals, which the passengers use to propel the novelty bar through public streets. Passengers either buy or provide their own food and drink – even beer – which they enjoy as they pedal, steered by a ‘bartender.’ (Pictures can be found on the Internet.) Are tickets given for pedaling under the influence?

“We saw the Ryman Auditorium, former home of the Grand Ole Opry. Nearby was Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge, one of the city’s most famous honky-tonk bars, which hosts some of the best live acts in Nashville. Many country-music stars got their start at Tootsie’s – Willie Nelson, Patsy Cline, Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson – to name a few.

“While looking out the window, someone spotted a PowerSouth car, driving along beside the bus – tag 23. Who was in that car?

“Driving over the Cumberland River, which runs through Nashville, we stopped at the Ernest Tubb Record Shop in the Music Valley Village. Here one can buy country and bluegrass CDs, DVDs, LPs, books and memorabilia. Gladys Trawick even found some cookbooks to add to her collection. On display was the Green Hornet, the tour bus of Ernest Tubb and the Texas Troubadours. We climbed aboard and saw where they lived while traveling the 48 continental states and Canada.

“Our next stop was Bob Evans Restaurant for dinner. After an enjoyable meal we drove to our hotel, passing by the Grand Ole Opry and the Opryland Hotel. A sign on one of the motels we passed read, ‘Locally Brewed Beer and Moonshine Are Our Speciality.’ Glad we didn’t stay there!

“The night was spent at Alexis Inn and Suites.”

Thank you, Scribe. We look forward to more adventures of the “Busoteers.”

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 l50 years ago.

Union forces under Rosecrans, Thomas, Granger, Reynolds, and Woods and Confederate forces under Bragg, Forrest, Polk, Longstreet, and Hood fought a bloody battle at Chickamauga Creek (in Cherokee, “River of Death”) in Georgia, with many losses.

Northern Gen. G. H. Thomas held his position while General Rosecrans fled back to Chattanooga. Thomas became known for his stand as the “Rock of Chickamauga.” (I guess that this was the northern equivalent to “Stonewall” Jackson’s stand.) Both sides suffered great losses. The North regrouped in Chattanooga, pushed back there by Confederate forces.

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

For the fourth week the mysterian is still a mystery. The answer is part of a riddle, “Where can one park at Straughn and yet not be at Straughn?”

Last week I had a “senior moment,” stating that the words to our national anthem were written by F. Scott Fitzgerald. That, of course, is incorrect. Fitzgerald wrote novels such as The Great Gatsby. Fitzgerald was named Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald, after the actual author of “The Star-spangled Banner,” Francis Scott Key. I knew better. After all, I was there.

Birthdays this week are those of James Fenimore Cooper, American novelist, who wrote The Last of the Mohicans, and Samuel Johnson, the English author and lexicographer, famous also as a critic and for his dictionary.

The Mayflower sailed Sept. 16, 1620.

Constitution Day was Sept. 17.

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

Fare thee well.