Christmas season arrives merry and bright for all

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 21, 2013

Peeping through my Venetian blind on this first day of winter – and shortest day of the year – I watched Miss Cora, heading my way from Covington Hall. She had on her arm a basket, seemingly filled with greenery and red ribbons. When I opened my door to her, I was told that the basket was a gift for me and included slices of various cakes and pies baked by her for the holidays.

We “set” ourselves down to some eggnog and tea sandwiches as we talked about the latest news.

The senior adults of First Baptist, East Three-Notch, gathered Dec. 17 in their Fellowship Hall for their monthly luncheon.

The hall was “Christmassy” with holiday scenes arranged by Trudy Vickers and Kittye Wyatt. Each dining table was laid with white cloth, red placemats, green programs, napkins designed with poinsettias to match the plates, and a centerpiece of a candle lantern set in a bed of greenery (holly, cedar, pine, magnolia) with red balls and “silver bells” (candy). I longed for Margaret Smyly to be in her place at the tea table.

The menu, prepared by Hilltop, presented pork steak, rice and gravy, cabbage, fried bread, red velvet cake and tea.

Dr. Fred Karthaus, pastor, worded both invocation/blessing and benediction.

The program was a concert of Christmas music, sung beautifully by the Glory Singers, a choir of older Christians, directed by Dwight Crigger, minister of music, and accompanied by Martha Givhan, pianist.

Following the concert, Crigger led all present in a Christmas sing-a-long.

Mrs. Givhan’s husband, John, was present; and they were recognized for their 47th wedding anniversary this month.

Also recognized were those present with December birthdays – Vivian Hickey, Buddy Brunson, Lucy Martin, Nancy Robbins and Laura Ann Jones, who stood as those present sang to them “Happy Birthday.”

Monday night, Dec. 16, at First United Methodist Church, the combined choruses from the Andalusia Middle School and the Andalusia High School presented a program of Christmas music, directed by Paula Sue Duebelt, choral director, assisted by Sue (Bass) Wilson, her classmate in the AHS Class of 1965. Jeremy Boyd, a sophomore, sang well a complicated solo.

Sunday, Dec. 15, after morning worship, the widows of First Baptist, East Three-Notch, were honored with the 15th annual Deacon Christmas Luncheon. Each deacon was responsible for hosting one or more widows.

Larry Avery, chairman of the board of deacons, welcomed all to Fellowship Hall.

Ziba Anderson worded the invocation.

Sonia Crigger, church pianist, wife of the minister of music, and music teacher in Greenville, accompanied herself as she sang “Joy to the World.”

Mrs. James Krudop read a Christmas story from a book by Billy and Ruth Graham.

Dr. Fred Karthaus, the pastor, read “Mary’s Song” from Luke.

Casey Thompson, immediate past chairman of the board of deacons, closed with prayer.

The menu provided turkey and dressing with cranberry sauce, rolls, butter beans, sweet-potato casserole, chocolate layer cake, and tea.

Those invited were Betty Bass, Patricia Blanton, Gwen Bonner, Danabel Brabham, Annette Burt, Irene Butler, Jean Carr, Janette Carroll, Sarah Gene Clark, Betty Cockcroft, Margaret Eiland, Carolyn Feagin, Jeanne Gomillion, Hazel Griffin, Judy Heath, Vivian Hickey, Rebecca Kinard, Donnie Manner, Lucy Martin, Jeanie McCrory, Bea Miller, Voncile Newman, Louise Norsworthy, Carolyn O’Neal, Sharon Owen, Opal Radford, June Smith, Sybil Smith, Margaret Smyly, Shirley Stokes, Jerri Stroud, Jean Thomas, Clara Nell Wambles, Myrtle Ruth Williams, Vi Williams and Dorcus Williamson.

It was good to run into Era Andrews this past week at Ansley Place and catch up on her and her husband, James. Era can always be counted on for a smile, for optimism, for energy, for industry, for enjoying life every minute of the day! She is sunshine in the darkness!

This week as I was typing this column, the cheerful and lovely Jan White dropped by. We reminisced about the old days when Charlie Smith was still with us. It didn’t matter what time of the year it was – he always greeted passersby with “Merry Christmas” and “Happy New Year.” Jan said that she greets people with the same during the season as many times as she can because “Charlie isn’t here to do it anymore.”

Seen at lunch in that storybook restaurant, Simone’s, were Laura Darby and her mother, Helen Griffin, from Baton Rouge, and Byram and Bobbie Lambert.

Also seen at Simone’s were Jerri Stroud, adviser to the city’s young Ambassadors; Kelly McLain, coordinator of special education in Covington County; Helen Philips, at 92 still a strong Christian in the Methodist Church; and Nina Keenam, columnist for this newspaper.

Seen at the Sunday brunch at Simone’s, enjoying the cozy warmth and Christmas decorations, safe for a time from the cold and grey outside, were Jim and Beverly (Armstrong) Yantt and their daughter, Allison, a junior at AHS; Maggie Shelley, Nina Keenam, Helen Philips, Mary Lee Goggin, Gretchen Franco from Panama City Beach, Gretchen’s daughter, Alexis Franco, a junior at Arnold High School in Panama City Beach, Alex and Nancy Boldog, their daughter, Illy Reiker, her husband, Josh, their girls, Reagan and Elle from Fort Walton, and Fred and Mary Jane Winkler.

Seen singing in the First Baptist Choir, East Three-Notch, nowadays are three generations of the same family – Jimmy and Sue (Bass) Wilson, their daughter, Wynne Glenn, and Wynne’s son, Hampton, a junior in the AHS.

Shopping at Brooks Hardware for Christmas, I ran into Earl Jackson, who humbly shared with me a story he has written, “Could It Have Been Jesus?” This is an inspirational story and an inspirational man.

Going into a grocery store this week, I ran into David Nall and his mother, the beautiful Jean Nall. David shared his concern for a mutual friend, Garrison Hale, who had fallen from his roof and broken his leg. Garrison, our prayers go up for you.

Buzz Brunson and I enjoyed a sidewalk conversation recently.

The Murals Committee met in City Hall (once, the Andalusia High School) Dec. 12 to discuss plans.

Pat Palmore, chairlady, opened the meeting with prayer.

Wes Hardin of Dothan, who, so far, has painted all the murals here in “the Dimple of Dixie,” was present to answer questions.

Others present were Robert Anderson, Barbara Tyler (representing our city), Elaine Manning, Mary Lee Howard, Hazel Griffin, Nancy Robbins and Joe Wingard.

Mrs. Palmore announced that the committee had received a grant for $5,600 from the Alabama State Council of the Arts to go toward the Piney Woods Cattle mural, to be painted on the Powell Building, Lord willing.

The group discussed panels for the Alatex wall at the new Chamber of Commerce on River Falls Street and a Rotary Club mural that would feature Andalusia as the home of the World Championship Domino Tournament.

Guest Barbara Nichols spoke on the law-enforcement portion of a future mural, still in the planning stage.

Robert Anderson reported that a tour bus from Michigan had stopped at the mural depicting the marriage of Hank Williams and had crowded into that area to take pictures.

Some have even been married at that spot for sentimental reasons.

A man doesn’t get too old to serve God. That is seen every Sunday during the Baraca Class Sunday School assembly at First Baptist when Richard Pass, 92, stands and teaches the lesson.

Another, serving his Lord, is R. K. Price, who sang a cappella last Sunday a Christmas song, “He Come from the Glorious Kingdom.”

During morning worship last Sunday at First Baptist Sonia Crigger sang “I Believe,” a relatively new Christmas song.

I was present at the graveside funeral service for Romaine Tadlock Thursday afternoon Dec. 12.

Dr. Fred Karthaus, pastor of First Baptist, read scripture, prayed, and worded the eulogy.

The day was bright with sunshine but cold and windy.

I thought of Romaine’s son David, who had died so young and so unexpectedly. His wife and children were at the grave.

I spoke at length with Bill, who had been Romaine’s husband for 64 years.

I embraced Tamela, Bill and Romaine’s daughter, whom I had taught. She, too, became a teacher. I met her children.

When the brief ceremony had ended, most stayed, despite the cold and the wind, and talked with each other.

So ended on this earth the physical life of one most dear, most precious, most beloved to so many of us.

I have mentioned in this column a new restaurant named Simone’s. Bill Tadlock told me that his father, David, built the original structure, now called Simone’s, in its own distinctive style and that he (Bill) and his family lived there from the mid-l930s until 1948. Bill said that his dad built three other houses in the same style, one near the high school, the Speller Moates house on East Three-Notch Court, and the Fletcher house on the Brewton Highway. I call them storybook style.

Congratulations to Meryane Martin-Murphy, the Andalusia Ballet Association, and all associated with our local ballet for the splendid production of the Nutcracker last weekend.

All the color, scenery, costumes, youth, talent, and glorious music combined to make an evening of enchantment.

My, at the talent that is and that is to be!

Mrs. Martin-Murphy does things up first class. We are indeed blessed to have her as a citizen of Andalusia. She is our local representative for beauty, grace, style, and culture.

Congratulations to the Methodists for their grand presentation of Christmas music last Sunday morning. An orchestra of 16 or 17 pieces accompanied. Paula Sue Duebelt, Andalusia’s Queen of Music, led the way.

Congratulations to Dwight Crigger and the Adult Choir of First Baptist for their inspiring presentation of the Christmas cantata, Come, Messiah, King, last Sunday night. The music was both thrilling and beautiful.

Three young people sang the solo parts, Maegan McMullen, a post-college working girl; Hampton Glenn, a junior at AHS; and Jeremy Boyd, a sophomore at AHS.

Following the cantata, the Criggers hosted a party for the choir and their families in the Crigger home, beautifully decorated with thousands of Christmas images.

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.

In the South Gen. J. E. Johnston became commander of the Department of Tennessee. Gen. Leonidas Polk became commander of the Army of Mississippi.

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

Well, it didn’t take long to identify the Methodist organist who lived with Mrs. W. M. Thweatt. She was Josie Lyons, who taught music and played for the Methodist Church here in Andalusia. Curtis Hampton Thomasson knew “right off the bat.”

I asked him how he knew the answer. He said that his once future wife, Margie Jacques of Arkansas, rented a room from Mrs. Thweatt at 408 South Cotton Street, and lived there until her marriage. He had heard Margie’s landlady, Mrs. Thweatt, a Methodist, speak of offering Mrs. Lyons, also a Methodist and a widow in need of shelter, a room in her home. The Portly Gentleman, who also rented from Mrs. Thweatt at one time, was given by her a silver napkin ring that had belonged to Mrs. Lyons. In the days before paper napkins, diners used cloth napkins. The napkins could not be washed and dried and ironed between meals. They were used several times. To know whose napkin was whose, people pulled napkins through rings. Each ring was distinctive.

The new mysterian is the man who was hit on his bald head with a walking stick in our public square.

Birthdays this week are those of Jane Austen, the English novelist who wrote Pride and Prejudice, and John Greenleaf Whittier, the American poet who wrote “For of all sad words of tongue and pen/ The saddest are these: ‘It might have been!’”

Now, gentle reader, allow me to join Buffalo Bob Smith in encouraging each of us to be in his place of worship this weekend, Lord willing. It is the last Sunday before Christmas and the first Sunday this winter. Wear a sprig of holly on your coat, gentlemen.

Fare thee well!