October is here – let the fall celebrations begin

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 5, 2013

Peeping through my Venetian blind, I looked out upon the Golden Month of October. Already, goldenrod nodded along rustic lanes, persimmons ripened on their knotty branches, and golden aster dotted fields.

There was a time was when goldenrod was the state flower of Alabama. Then Mrs. Gotrocks and some of the ladies of Greenville wanted something fancier and replaced the native goldenrod with the imported camellia.

There is a lovely poem called “October’s Bright Blue Weather,” by Helen Hunt Jackson. This is a good time to read it, gentle reader.

It seems to my fading memory that the first time I heard that poem was when I was walking to the school cafeteria one day with a colleague, Miss Ellen Barrow. It must have been an October day for Miss Barrow began quoting the poem mentioned above. I liked it so much that I read it as a thought for the day to my students from then on for as long as I taught.

The Covington Historical Society met Sept. 26 in the Dixon Memorial of the Andalusia Public Library.

The room was decorated with centerpieces of zinnias and boxwood on each table, courtesy of Fran Fine.

President William Blocker welcomed members to the 388th meeting since the society was formed as a project during the Bicentennial of America.

Bill Law worded the invocation.

Following the pledge to the flag, members sang the state song, “Alabama,” accompanied by Sue (Bass) Wilson, vice-president, at the piano.

Guests were recognized.

Norma King provided the minutes; and Harmon Proctor, his treasurer’s report.

Barbara Tyler, representing the City of Andalusia, presented a video of The Way We Worked, an advertisement for an upcoming, pictorial display on past American work habits from the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D. C., which is scheduled for exhibition in Andalusia Jan. 4 – Feb. 8 in the Chamber of Commerce on River Falls Street.

Andalusia is one of only six cities in Alabama where the exhibit is scheduled.

The main program was by Scotty Merrill, local contractor, who spoke on the history of hospitals in Andalusia. Merrill has been involved with local health care for 36 years or so.

He was accompanied by his wife, Claire (Grant) of Rose Hill.

In an interesting and detailed presentation Merrill mentioned early “hospitals” at saw mills, the Lakeview Hospital on Lake Jackson in Florala, the Covington County Hospital at the corner of Watson and South Three-Notch (once, the home of the Simmons family), Covington Memorial at Watson and South Cotton, Ray Evers’s Hillcrest Infirmary (1943 – 1982), the leadership of George Proctor and Hugh King, concerning our current hospital (which started as one story), different administrators, doctors, problems with Medicare and Medicaid, the Andalusia Health Services Foundation and its gifts to medical students, totaling over three million so far.

(I hope Mr. Merrill will compose a booklet on local hospitals and detail facts. His talk was rich with facts.)

Refreshments were provided by the industrious and generous Glen and Barbara Powell – corn/pea salad, Georgia cornbread, peach cobbler, taco dip and a pot of boiled green peanuts. Yum! Yum!

The Powells are always going the extra mile.

Sunday in the opening assembly of the distinguished Baraca Class at First Baptist, Rogerl Reeves sang a solo, “When They Ring Those Golden Bells,” accompanied by Martha (James) Givhan at the Ann Martin Memorial piano.

He was followed by an a cappella solo by R. K. Price, “There Is a River,” which tied in with the Sunday-school lesson on the woman at the well, taught by Richard Pass.

Sunday happened to be the final day for Brother Pass, now in his nineties, to preach at Searight Baptist. For a long time he has gone from teaching the lesson at First Baptist to preaching at Searight, which is made more remarkable by his age.

Last Sunday night at First Baptist, in the absence of the minister of music, Casey Thompson led the congregational singing. The accompanists were Jeanice (Paul) Kirkland at the organ and John Beasley at the piano. Thompson had asked the two instrumentalists to play a duet, which they did with exclamations on the keys! Thompson also brought back the old Baraca Quartet “out of mothballs” to sing. This quartet goes back to the l920s or before. Of course, the membership has changed over the years.

Singing “Ring Out the Message,” were Thompson, Dr. Morgan Moore, Kim Dyess and Joe Wingard, accompanied by Beasley.

Congratulations to Director Paula Sue Duebelt and all involved in the local production of the The King and I for a splendid staging of local talent, costumes, scenery and music.

Johnny Brewer was particularly good as the king, with his lines and excellent body language, his singing, and his interpretation of the script.

Barbara Peek as Anna reminded me of Julie Andrews with her precise pronunciation and lyric voice.

Stedman Glenn, as Anna’s son, had the best projection in the play.

Seen Sunday at Corner Market for the lunch buffet were Benny and Esther Barrow, Perry and Stephanie Dillard, Tim Dillard, Wayne and Lenora Johnson, Thagard and Linda Colvin, Mike and Marilyn (McInnish) Williams, Dallas and Boncile Merritt, David and Carol Moore, Justin and Candace Vinson, Andrew and Ashley Lankford, Shannon Glenn, Tucker Glenn, Hampton Glenn, Herb and Sue Carlisle, Ed and Judy Buck and Mr. and Mrs. Robbie Ballard.

Marilyn Williams was in town to celebrate the birthday of her mother, Betty Sue McInnish, as were Marilyn’s brothers, Carl and Bill.

Last week, we heard the second section of an essay about a trip to Chicago, organized by “Miss Betty” Mitchell, locally famous as “the Travel Queen.”

We left the “busoteers” midway in their tour of “the Windy City.”

Let’s see what they’re up to now.

“Back on the bus we made our way to Grant Park, Chicago’s principal downtown park, located between Lake Michigan and Michigan Avenue. It covers 319 acres and is named for former U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant. The park is built on a landfill where debris was dumped after the 1871 fire. In the center of the park is the impressive Buckingham Fountain – one of the largest fountains in the world.

“Millennium Park is the northwest corner of Grant Park. This is where we saw Cloud Gate, a large, bean-shaped structure (66 by 33 feet) made of polished, stainless steel plates, welded together. The shiny material reflects the Chicago skyline.

“Kayakers were seen as we crossed the Chicago River. Next was the Wrigley Building, headquarters of the Wrigley (chewing gum) Company.

“Just down the street was the Tribune Tower, home of The Chicago Tribune, one of Chicago’s newspapers. The tower contains many famous stones from historically important sites around the world. They have been embedded into the lowest levels of the building and are labeled with their location of origin. Some are from the Alamo, the Great Wall of China, Westminster Abbey, the Parthenon and the Taj Mahal.

“From there we headed out of town to see Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs and oldest National League ballpark. This ballpark is unique in that the rooftops of the surrounding buildings have bleachers or seating on them from which to watch the game.

“Coming back into town, we passed Lincoln Park, Chicago’s largest public park. It lies along the lakefront and is seven miles long with 1,200 acres.

“We made our way to the Navy Pier, which served as a naval training facility during the second World War. Former President George H. W. Bush received carrier-landing training here. The Pier and its grounds cover more than 50 acres of parks, gardens, shops, fast-food places, and restaurants. We were on our own to shop and eat lunch. Some rode the 150-foot Ferris wheel. Others visited the Museum of Stained Glass Windows, many of which were salvaged from Chicago mansions. This museum contains the largest public display of Tiffany windows in the world.

“At the appropriate hour we boarded a sightseeing boat for a 45-minute tour along the shoreline of Lake Michigan, the only one of the Great Lakes entirely within the USA and the fifth largest lake in the world. From the boat we could see Chicago’s majestic skyline, which is among the world’s tallest and most dense. The guide pointed out various buildings as we motored along, and many of the group took pictures.

“We were told that Chicago, on the same latitude as Rome, Italy, was the first city to erect a Ferris wheel and the world’s first skyscraper. We also learned that Chicago is not nicknamed the ‘Windy City’ due to the gusts of wind, coming off Lake Michigan. The city is windy, according to most local legends, because of the hot air bellowing from politicians.

“Our tour ended back at the Navy Pier where we had more time to roam around.

“Dinner that evening was at the Parthenon Restaurant, the oldest standing restaurant in Greektown. Immigration of Greeks was spurred when laborers came to help rebuild the city after the 1871fire. We dined with other tour groups from Missouri and North Carolina.

“Jo Ray offered our prayer on Wednesday morning.

“We spent around four hours at the Shedd Aquarium located on the shore of Lake Michigan. It contains 1,500 species, including fish, marine mammals, birds, snakes, amphibians, and insects. When the aquarium opened in l930, some 20 railroad tank cars made eight round trips between Key West and Chicago to transport one million gallons of sea water for the saltwater exhibits.

“While at the aquarium, we lunched at the various eateries. In the Oceanarium’s amphitheater, we enjoyed an aquatic show, featuring dolphins, a sea lion, and beluga whales.

“After we were back on the bus, tasty goodies brought from home were handed out. This happened quite often on the trip. Looking out the bus windows, we saw a sign, ‘Potbelly Sandwich Works.’ Surely we didn’t want to eat there.

“In a few minutes we were at our next destination, the 110-story Willis Tower – the tallest Chicago skyscraper. We rode the elevator to the 103rd floor observation deck, known as the Skydeck. With floor-to-ceiling windows on all sides of the building, we got a wonderful view of the city and tried to find landmarks we had seen.

“The most exciting part of the observation deck was The Ledge – a series of glass balconies, extending four feet from the building, where one could look straight down. Many had their pictures taken while standing on the ledge – even our bus driver, Julio. It took some longer than others to get up their nerve to do this.

“Returning to the Navy Pier, we were served a delicious dinner at Capi’s Italian Kitchen. Back at the hotel our room cards wouldn’t work, so we had to get them reprogrammed.”

Let’s stop at this point and await the fourth and last installment next Saturday, Lord willing.

The celebration of the 200th 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 upcoming meetings.

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

Confederate General Bragg ordered raids on Union communication and supply lines in and out of Chattanooga and besieged that city. Union reinforcements arrived by train in Bridgeport, Ala., to aid General Rosecrans’s Army of the Cumberland, besieged in Chattanooga and suffering from famine. Elsewhere, a Confederate semi-submersible damaged a Federal ironclad.

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

For the sixth 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?” One reader said “Straughn,” but that is not correct.

Birthdays this week are those of the Model T (1908) and William Crawford Gorgas, American surgeon and sanitation expert.

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

Fare thee well.