From history to interstate, she tells of her travels

Published 2:46 am Saturday, September 28, 2013

Peeping through my Venetian blind, I noticed in bloom the cypress vine, morning glory, honeysuckle, lantana, petunias, bitter weed, golden aster, abelia, zinnias and Confederate rose.

In fruit are the muscadines, scuppernongs and pomegranates.

Miss Cora Covington has invited me over for some boiled green peanuts this afternoon, so let me share a bit of news before I go over to Covington Hall.

Seen at the Corner Market for the lunch buffet were Bob McDonald, Hubble “Mr. Personality” Sowards, Jody Jackson and Sidney and Polly Waits.

It just happened to be Jody’s 40th birthday (Sept. 24).

Sidney Waits is one of Andalusia’s historians, the author of several historical books.

As the new annex to the high school is being constructed at this time on the site of the old annex, my mind goes back some 50 or more years. The seventh and eighth grades were then housed in the old Annex, or “Little Building.” Junior high, as it was called, was made of seventh, eighth, and ninth grades, and shared the Third-Street campus with the senior-high classes. (Later, middle school, made of sixth, seventh and eighth grades, replaced the junior-high organization, and was housed at the old Woodson High School, before integration, the campus for black students.)

Back then, the seventh grade was known as “the Worms” or Junior Is. The eighth grade was known as “the Roaches” or Junior IIs. Ninth graders or freshmen were Junior IIs. Tenth graders or sophomores were Senior Is; 11th graders or juniors, Senior IIs; and 12th graders or seniors, Senior IIIs.

Now time has come full circle. The junior-high students are scheduled to be back on Third Street in a year or so.

During choir practice at First Baptist, East Three-Notch, the choir telephoned Mary Hill at home and sang “Happy Birthday” to her. Mary “the Belle of Excel” Hill, a faithful soprano and long-time treasurer of the choir, has not been able to attend lately. The optimistic Mary, who always has a rhyme to go along with each birthday, responded, “84 and wanting more!”

Jewel Curry, Molly Hart, Dorcas Williamson, Juanita Anuao, Doris Tyler, Nan Gafford, Sue Holloway and Jenia Dorman gathered for lunch at Tabby D’s Tuesday to celebrate Dorcas’s birthday. Afterwards, they adjourned to the home of Doris to continue the celebration.

A copy of a book by one of our own, William “Bill” York Smith, Andalusia High School Class of 1974, has come into my hands. The Happy Advisor is a collection of 56 inspirational, motivational essays by Smith, who is a financial advisor, living in Escondido, Calif. The book is based on a series of columns composed by Smith.

Last week the first in a series of essays about Betty Mitchell’s bus tour of Chicago was shared. Today the series continues.

“Monday morning, after we had boarded the bus, Wayne Bennett offered prayer, as he did most days. We were on the road around eight o’clock. An hour later found us in Kentucky. We passed the National Corvette Museum on the outskirts of Bowling Green. Driving through Louisville, we saw the campus and stadium of the University of Louisville. Between these two cities we had to change our watches to Eastern Daylight Time.

“Louisville is situated on the Ohio River, which we crossed, going into Indiana. Lunch was in Scottsburg. We were given the choice of eating at Wendy’s, Arby’s or McDonald’s, since they were near each other. Back on the bus we watched the movie Amish Grace: How Forgiveness Transcended Tragedy. It was the true story of the aftermath of a school shooting that occurred in an Amish community.

“Going northward through Indiana, we traveled through beautiful farmland with crops in the fields, silos, barns, and farm houses. Then we were back in the city. This time it was Indianapolis – too big to go around. It took us a while to drive through.

“An interesting sight was on the other side of Lafayette. We motored through miles of wind turbines on each side of the road. They are used to generate electricity from the kinetic power of the wind. James Simmons informed us that some of the wind-turbine spinners were made at Opp (at Molded Fiberglass Southeast).

“Once again we traveled back into Central Daylight Time.

“The Old Country Buffet in Highland served us a delicious dinner. Leaving there, it was just a few miles until we were in Illinois. In about an hour we arrived at the Best Western Plus in Hillside, a suburb of Chicago. This was to be our home for the next four nights.

“Our Tuesday morning began with prayer. It took around 45 minutes to travel into Chicago because of bumper-to-bumper traffic. We were to pick up our guide at the Willis Tower (former Sears Tower) on Wacker Drive. However, Wacker Drive is a bi-level street, running along the Chicago River (which empties into Lake Michigan). After making a wrong turn, we found ourselves on Lower Wacker Drive, which runs about two miles under the city. The lower-level is for through traffic and trucks, servicing buildings on the upper-level. Here we saw where many of the homeless live in Chicago. It was a good experience to see this part of the city.

“After circling around, we got on the correct street, picked up our guide, and were off for a tour of Chicago. In the 1600s, local Indians called the area ‘Checaugou.’

“First was the Chicago Board of Trade Building, which houses the world’s oldest futures and options exchange (established in l848). Atop this building is a statue of the Roman goddess Ceres, who is faceless. Its sculptor believed the building would be taller than any other nearby structure; and for that reason, no one would be able to see the face anyway.

“Next was the Civic Opera House, which has over 3,500 seats, making it the second largest opera auditorium in North America.

“Then came the University of Illinois at Chicago, a state-funded, public research university. It is the largest university in the Chicago area, having approximately 35,000 students. It also operates the largest medical school in the United States.

“The University surrounds the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum, which it now owns. Jane Addams co-founded the Hull-House, the first settlement house in the United States, to provide social services to immigrants and the poor. She was the first American woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize (for her social-justice work).

“We then saw the Chicago Fire Academy – the training facility for the second-largest fire department in the United States. Ironically, this building stands on the very spot where the 1871 fire began. The academy trains firefighters so they’ll be ready the next time somebody, or some critter, kicks over a lantern.

“While driving around, we saw gas priced at $4.65 for regular. That made us glad we lived in the South.

“We drove by a huge rail yard. Chicago is the most important railroad center in North America. About 25 percent of all rail traffic in the United States travels through the Chicago area.

“Our tour also carried us through the Chinatown neighborhood. It is the second oldest settlement of Chinese in America and the largest Chinatown in the Midwest. We saw grocery stores, herbal shops, bakeries, restaurants, and a unique mural, showing the history of Chinese immigrants in the United States.

“As we turned onto Lake Shore Drive, we saw McCormick Place, the largest convention center in North America. It consists of four interconnected buildings near the shore of Lake Michigan.

“Not far down the street was Soldier Field, home of the National Football League’s Chicago Bears. It is the oldest NFL stadium, second smallest, and serves as a memorial to American soldiers who died in war.

“We drove near the Adler Planetarium and parked beside Lake Michigan. All got off the bus to take pictures of the boats in the harbor and the awesome Chicago skyline. Julio, the driver, was also making good use of his camera.”

At mid-tour of Chicago, let us pause until next week for the third in our series, Lord willing.

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.

The Federals, under General Rosecrans, retreated to Chattanooga after their loss at Chickamauga Creek in Northern Georgia. Confederate General Bragg followed, but tardily, and besieged the Federals. President Lincoln sent reinforcements to the area by train. Blame for the Federal failure was passed around, but landed on General Rosecrans.

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

For the fifth 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?”

Birthdays this week are those of William Holmes McGuffey, American educator and author of a series of readers, and Thomas Nast, American cartoonist.

McGuffey’s readers were used by generations to learn to read. These moralistic books not only taught reading but also influenced hundreds of thousands with wholesome ideas and ideals. I once heard the late William Albritton wish that children still learned to read from McGuffey’s readers.

Nast, a German immigrant, created the modern image of Santa Claus, still with us today, as well as the elephant as a symbol for the Republican party and the donkey as a symbol for the Democratic party.

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

Fare thee well.