Christmas comes to town, and it sure is yummy

Published 1:14 am Saturday, December 7, 2013

Peeping through my Venetian blind, I watched Miss Cora and Miss Flora head out to the woods to gather greenery and berries, pinecones and mistletoe, to decorate Covington Hall. Clay Clyde Clump went along to help “tote” the gatherings. Clydie had already hauled a tree to the Hall and placed it, ready for trimming.

I turned back to my work, decorating sugar cookies and gingerbread men.

The thought of Christmas ran through my mind – the birth of Jesus, church services, Christmas carols, manger scenes, caroling and sing-a-longs, wreaths on doors, candles in windows, stockings hung over the hearth, bells ringing, Christmas stories and songs, choirs, candy displayed in tall, crystal vases, TV programs, Lane cakes, candy canes, drives around town to see Christmas lights, Christmas cards, cookies and milk left for Santa Claus, stringing popcorn, exchanging gifts, opening one present on Christmas Eve, letters to Saint Nick, sprigs of holly, wassail, eggnog, visits, hot chocolate, shopping, wrapping presents, the Yule log, the Christmas feast, fruit cake, oranges and apples, snowmen, gumdrop trees, the Nutcracker ballet, and chocolate-covered cherries.

Mrs. Gotrocks of Greenville came over this week, and we and the Covington “girls” drove around “the Dimple of Dixie,” enjoying the white lights of Springdale, the large, twinkling tree on the Golden Square, decorated homes and businesses, the electric “snowflakes” on the lamp posts, and the large, electric wreaths on City Hall (formerly, Andalusia High School).

Seen at the Corner Market for lunch were Robert and Sheila Williams and “Uncle Bob” and Denise Brooks.

In town for her father’s 80th birthday was Kathy Grosse from Athens, Ga. Her dad is R. K. Price, noted for his good singing voice.

Overheard at the Corner Market were Chad Long and Michael O’Rourke, discussing the Alabama-Auburn football game. I made out the words, “Got a second, coach?”

Bobby Scott, local pharmacist, must be a bird watcher. The other day I heard him crying, “War Eagle!” I looked, but I did not see one.

The Jones cousins, some 18 of them, met for a meal and fellowship.

Rick Kyle, once voted America’s Most Romantic Southern Gentleman, proved his title by taking his wife Linda to New York City to celebrate the anniversary of their first date.

Seen for supper at the Huddle House were Ricky (AHS 1972) and Sue Sowell, and Mr. and Mrs. Joe Ptomey.

A couple of Sundays ago the Adult Choir of First Baptist, East Three-Notch, sang a beautiful arrangement of “The Lord’s My Shepherd, I’ll Not Want.” It was made even lovelier by the accompaniment of Lynn Twitty with her violin.

The last meeting in 2013 of the Covington Historical Society was attended Nov. 21 in the newly renovated Chamber of Commerce, once the Alatex office building on River Falls Street.

William Blocker, president, called the 390th meeting to order.

The minutes for the last two meetings as well as the financial statement were approved.

A report on the museum by Sue (Bass) Wilson, vice-president, recorded the repair of the museum’s miniature railroad, a visit by the students of Perry Dillard of AHS, and display of the original city flag, designed and produced as a Bicentennial project.

Jan White shared three Life magazines about the death of President John F. Kennedy, assassinated Nov. 22, 1963. They were the original issue, a 25th anniversary, and this year’s 50th anniversary. She also showed her childhood Weekly Reader from December of 1963, the only one she had saved. Mrs. White was in the third grade when JFK was shot.

Officers for 2014 were installed by William Blocker: John Scherf, president; Sue Wilson, vice-president and historian; Nancy Robbins, secretary; and Harmon Proctor, treasurer.

Dr. Morgan Moore, a first cousin, once removed, to the evening’s speaker, Morgan Simmons, worded the blessing.

A potluck buffet followed.

Mrs. Wilson introduced the after-dinner speaker, Morgan Simmons of Evanston, Ill., along with his wife, Mary Day, and daughter, Kathryn, who return annually to his hometown.

Mrs. Wilson said that Morgan is from the local Simmons family “we all love and admire.”

Mr. Simmons has lived 51 years in Evanston, north of Chicago. He was long-time organist at Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago.

(Cousin Jo of Lexington, S.C., told me that she and some fellow travelers visited Fourth Presbyterian while on Betty Mitchell’s bus tour to Chicago and happened to hear the current organist practicing.)

Mr. Simmons, who has a delightful, self-effacing personality, spoke about his birth, April 6, 1929, in the 1928 W.F. Simmons home atop Bay Branch Hill along South Three-Notch Street.

He led his audience from the Simmons house (still standing and occupied now by Steve and Harriet Hubbard) up one side of South Three-Notch to the Square and back down to “Poverty Knob,” as he called Bay Branch Hill, telling who lived where and adding anecdotes.

Curtis Hampton Thomasson, our newspaper’s genealogist, has detailed that information in a recent column of his.

One anecdote was about the Moates family, who ran a garage across the street from what is now our public library. In those days the library was the post office. The Moates used to advertise, “The post office is across the street from us.”

Simmons said that in Chicago he could say, “The John Hancock Building is across the street from the Fourth Presbyterian Church.”

Simmons’s dad, Morgan, was the oldest of the Simmons children. Their mother had been married to a Mr. Payne and had two children by him, half-siblings to the older Morgan and his Simmons siblings, which included the locally famous teachers, Miss Clyde Simmons and Miss Annalee Simmons.

Simmons said that at one time he had 50 first cousins.

More than once the current Morgan Simmons thanked local historian, Sidney Waits, for his book on local history, which proved a source for Simmons’s speech.

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 150 years ago.

Southern General Longstreet abandoned his siege of Knoxville. Both Northern and Southern armies set up winter quarters. The congresses of both North and South convened.

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

For the l5th 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 Thomas Carlyle, Scottish historian, and Walt Disney, creator of Mickey Mouse, Disneyland, Disney World, and a world of wholesome entertainment.

Carlyle lived in London with his wife Jenny. One day Leigh Hunt, a friend and poet, visited the Carlyles. Jenny was so glad to see Hunt that she jumped from her chair and ran to greet him. That inspired a poem by Hunt. The Portly Gentleman tells me that when he was in London that he stood by Jenny’s chair and quoted that poem from memory. It’s called “Jenny Kissed Me When We Met.”

The thought that one should leave the world a better and more beautiful place certainly applies to Walt Disney. He wished upon a star and his dreams came true.

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

Fare thee well.