Stroll through memory lane lends to history lesson

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 16, 2013

Peeping through my Venetian blind, Miss Cora Covington exclaimed, “Here they come!”

She was referring to her sisters, Miss Dora and Miss Flora, who were joining us in my little cottage for brunch and a game of Rook.

I was returning a favor. The Covingtons had included me in an evening of old-time singing around the piano as Miss Dora played.

We four soon fell to “newsing.”

This afternoon, Nov. l6, between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. in the First United Methodist Church Fellowship Hall a come-and-go reception, sponsored by her children, will honor Ora Mae (Myers) Thompkins for her 90th birthday.

Jerry and Teri Short of Montgomery were in town for a funeral last week. While here they took supper Wednesday night at First Baptist Church with his mother, Wilma (Short) Moore, and his stepfather, Dr. Morgan Moore.

Seen at Corner Market for the lunch buffet were Vela (Cooper) Walden, Bob Brooks and Henry Kinsey.

I became acquainted this week past with a fine couple, Lister and Marilyn Hill. Lister smiled and said he was not kin to the other Lister Hill, famous in Alabama history.

John and Mary “the Belle of Excel” Hill are yet another set of Hills with whom I visited this past week, running into Herb and Sue Carlisle at the same time, as well as Mary Frances Taylor, resplendent in a red sweater.

The Covington Rifles Camp l586 of the Sons of Confederate Veterans met the first Thursday in November in the Dixon Memorial of our public library.

Commander Curtis Hampton Thomasson presided.

“Hank” Roberts, the chaplain, offered the invocation, program and benediction.

Jimmy Cobb led in the triple pledges.

Larry Shaw led “Dixie.”

Some 46 members have renewed their memberships.

Mr. Cobb and his son-in-law, Morris Mullen, reported on their trip to Biloxi, Miss., and Beauvoir, the last home of Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederate States of America, to view a re-enactment.

Mr. Roberts’s program was a presentation about the last battles of the War Between the States in Alabama, one at Blakeley, a “pitched” battle, and one in Eliska (called Pleasant Home today), a battle on the run. Each was the last battle of its kind in Alabama and each has been called the last battle of the War, though that is debated.

The one at Blakeley, April 9, 1865, was the shortest battle of the War, lasting about 15 minutes, according to Mr. Roberts.

Mr. Roberts’s great-uncle was in the Battle of Eliska and wrote, if I am not mistaken, the only account of the battle (1915).

Mr. Roberts wove a detailed and exciting account of those days.

Attending were Derick Davis, Curtis H. Thomasson, Joe Wingard, Jimmy Cobb, Morris Mullen, Ken Reeves, Larry Shaw, Vaughn Bowers, John Allen Gantt, Charles Studstill and “Hank” Roberts.

Seen at the Friday-night seafood buffet at Tabby D’s were Kenneth and Helen Johnson, Kenny and Gwen Lee with their granddaughter, Baylee McVay, Jimmy “Grandfather” and Tammy Cox, their son Bryan, and his wife Adrienne and their little son, Jay, Robert Carr and his family, Paula (Hughes) Walden, Walter Wytch, Harley and Wanda Wytch, Judge Jerry Stokes, Sonny and Sue Ann Helms, Tony Horn, and Larry and Patricia (Bullock) Gunter.

The Gunters and I talked of their nephew, Stephen, son of Mark and Cynthia Gunter, who is now a sports announcer on WSFA TV.

Seen at last Sunday’s brunch at Simone’s were Robert and Sheila Williams, Ivan and Jean Bishop, Dr. David McCalman, his wife Stacie, and their children, Michael, a senior at the Andalusia High School, and the twins, Hannah and Elizabeth, both sophomores at AHS, David and Jill Bryant, and their Jonathan and Anabell, Bob and Pat Olive and John and Corrie Owens.

The main room of the storybook Simone’s was decorated prettily for Christmas with trees, red tablecloths, swags, and greenery, and made me feel as if I were in a Bavarian lodge and could look out and see the snow-clad Alps.

The early death of Ronnie Thompkins, AHS Class of 1970, keeps bringing back one memory in particular. It was near the end of the AHS school year, during an assembly, when Ronnie, who had been elected the year before as president of the Student Government Association, stood before the student body and eloquently thanked his classmates for the opportunity and honor to serve. He was overcome with gratitude and emotion during his speech and had to pause to hold back tears. All could tell how much the experience had meant to him. Those who knew Ronnie are filled today with the same emotion and gratitude for having known him.

Seen at David’s on Saturday night were Dr. Rex and Billie Jo Butler and their Rexanne and Allen.

Brenda Faal and I ran into each other while shopping and enjoyed a brief conversation.

Seen at the Corner Market for lunch were Roy Barnes, Christy White, Dorothy Meredith, Curtis Scott and Michael O’Rourke.

First Baptist on East Three-Notch last Sunday morning conducted an eye-opening, patriotic service in connection with Veterans Day, the following Monday.

Members had purchased 108 American flags, each one in honor or in memory of someone, and had placed them up and down the sidewalk before the church.

Inside, the choir loft was backed by 14 American flags.

There were flags, too, in the hearts of those present.

The choir wore white robes with red stoles.

Martha (James) Givhan, organist, played “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”

The congregation sang patriotic songs, including the national anthem, and repeated the pledge to the flag.

The choir sang a “Salute to the Armed Forces,” including the theme songs of the Army, Navy, Coast Guard, Air Force and Marines. As each theme song was sung, those who had served in that branch of the military stood. Each time a group stood, the congregation burst into thunderous applause.

Dr. Fred Karthaus, the preacher, also called out the most recent wars, dating back to World War II, and recognized those who had fought at those times.

In his sermon Dr. Karthaus spoke of this nation’s living in fear today and the need for Christians to be brave – like military soldiers – to face fears that Christians face.

At the end of the service the congregation gathered on the front steps for a dedication by prayer of the new display flags; then, they sang “God Bless America.”

Last Sunday night at First Baptist the Glory Singers, a choir composed of senior church members, sang beautifully and powerfully three pieces. They really did well.

The music for the day was directed by Dwight Crigger, minister of music.

In the distinguished Baraca Class of First Baptist last Sunday veterans were recognized in the Sunday school assembly.

Richard Pass, 92, taught the lesson, saying, “Don’t say ‘no’ to God.”

A special attendee in Baraca was Robert Linder, escorted by his younger daughter, Vickie Coleman of Madison, Ala.

R. K. Price, a class member, sang “Open My Eyes” a cappella, in keeping with the theme of the lesson.

First Baptist enjoyed its annual homecoming Sunday, Nov. 3. Former pastor for some 20 years, John Nichols Foster, preached the homecoming sermon. The music was led by former minister of music for 28 years, Don Lingle, who sang as a solo his signature piece, “The King Is Coming.”

Also returning were Harrell and Ann Cushing. Dr. Cushing was twice pastor of First Baptist.

Also at homecoming an old-fashioned quartet made of Don Lingle, Kim Dyess, Dr. Morgan Moore and Casey Thompson sang four times, “Victory in Jesus” and “He Keeps Me Singing.”

The celebration of the War of 1812 (1812 – 1815) 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.

The Federals kept bombarding Fort Sumter, which was being blown into rubble; yet the South held onto this fort in Charleston Bay. (One can visit it today.)

Southern Generals Longstreet and Wheeler attacked Federal General Burnside’s troops at Knoxville, Tenn.

Federal General Sherman (“boo” on behalf of Aunt Pittypat Hamilton) joined Federal General Grant in Chattanooga.

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

For the 12th 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?”

(Hint: it’s in plain sight along East Three-Notch.)

Birthdays this week are those of Martin Luther, German-Catholic priest whose 95 complaints concerning the Catholic church of his day led to the Protestant (protestors’) Reformation; Oliver Goldsmith, an Irish poet; Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller, the German poet who wrote the play William Tell; Thomas Bailey Aldrich, an American author; and Robert Louis Balfour Stevenson, Scottish author of novels, poems, short stories, and essays.

Goldsmith’s poem, “The Deserted Village,” begins with the line, “Sweet Auburn! loveliest village of the plain.” From that one line we get the name of Auburn, its university, its athletic teams, its alliterative nickname (“loveliest village of the plain”) and its newspaper (the Plainsman).

It has been suggested numerous times that some rich Auburn fan or group of fans ought to pay to have a copy made of the statue of Goldsmith at the University in Ireland and then have it placed in Auburn, with the famous first line on the statue’s pedestal. The town of Auburn ought to participate in this, too.

Some Auburn fraternity or sorority ought to see that flowers are placed on Goldsmith’s grave annually on his birthday. He’s buried in London.

Schiller’s play, mentioned above, was put to music by Rossini as an opera. Its famous “Overture” is perhaps the most popular and best-known piece of opera in the world. Millions know it as the theme song of The Lone Ranger.

Stevenson’s book of poetry for children, A Child’s Garden of Verses, is perhaps the most famous book of children’s poetry in our language.

Every boy should read Stevenson’s Treasure Island.

These books could be given as Christmas, birthday, or prize gifts by loving grandfathers and grandmothers. Hint! Hint!

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

Fare thee well.