Lovely mimosas and elderberries in bloom

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 7, 2014

Peeping through my Venetian blind, I noted along the roadsides some elderberry bushes and a few mimosa in bloom.

Summer is not far off, officially. Of course, it already seems like summer to children out of school. It starts for them with the last bell.

When I was a child, summer seemed eternal. I call it “summerternity.”As I age, the seasons come and go more quickly – too quickly.
Gentle reader, don’t you enjoy these long days with plenty of light?

I was out of pocket last week and out of town with a bus tour to Mackinac Island in Michigan. The Portly Gentleman went along and took notes, which he promised to turn into a travel report in the near future, Lord willing.  “Miss Betty” Mitchell, “the Travel Queen,” organized the adventure.

In my absence I did not have a chance to report much about graduation. I want to share some information now.

At First Baptist Church, East Three-Notch, the following eight high-school graduates participated in a Sunday-morning service May 18 – Will Jones, son of Billy and Lisa; Tori Mack, daughter of Chad and Robin Morris; Michael McCalman, son of David and Stacie; Jackson Moore, son of Jeff and Beverly; Zach Parker, son of Joe and Candy; Mere Katherine Riley, daughter of Scott and LeAnn; Kennedy Thompson, daughter of Casey and Kim; and Andrew Williamson, son of Alan and Paula.

The seniors marched in, dressed in crimson robe and mortarboard, as the Irene Hines Hand Bell Choir rang “To God Be the Glory.”

The congregation stood; then, joined in the song.

During the service Eric Searcy, the new minister to youth, recognized the seniors and their parents, prayed for them, and presented to each senior a Bible and a Christian CD.
Sonia Crigger, church pianist, sang a solo, “Find Your Wings,” to the seniors.

The Adult Choir, robed in red and white, the school colors of the Andalusia High School, sang for the seniors, “Jesus, Firm Foundation.”
-, the minister, asked, “What do you do after the tassel is turned?”

In his sermon he stated that there are seasons in which to live, an eternity for which to prepare, and a God that we must trust.

After church the seniors and their families were guests of the congregation for a luncheon in Fellowship Hall.

Eric Searcy welcomed the seniors and worded the blessing.

Each senior sat at a separate table with his family and guests. Dr. Karthaus introduced each senior, who, in turn, introduced those at his table.

The tables were decorated with tower vases, topped with red roses, asparagus fern, hydrangeas, and baby’s breath.

The buffet offered sweet and sour chicken and rice, petite lima beans, pear salad, rolls, and lemonade pie with mint.

Coordinating the meal was Jerri Stroud, assisted by Mary Avery, Louise Anderson, John and Gloria Collier, Debbie Marcum, and Sharon Bulger.

Having observed A.H.S. for almost 50 years and having known some of its students and teachers whose experience dates back to its earliest days, I feel it is true that the greatest influence on our local public school has been the Spirit of Christ.

Going back to the earliest days it has been a tradition at AHS to have senior parties. This year I have heard only from the Presbyterians and none other. Good for the Presbyterians! It leaves me feeling a little sad, though, about all others. In Ed Dannelley’s day the paper was filled with reports of senior parties. I hate to see all of that information lost to history. Sad, sad, sad.

The Portly Gentleman attended the twenty-first annual Robert E. Lee High School Hall of Fame May 2 in the cafeteria of Lee High, Montgomery.

The three-hour event included an induction ceremony for outstanding graduates, teachers, and supporters of Lee, as well as a banquet.

Tables were covered in white with red napkins and red potted plants, the school colors.

The buffet included roasted potatoes, squash casserole, seven-layer salad, roast, rice, gravy, fruit, green beans, fried chicken, rolls, cake, and tea.

Kate Kiefer, ‘68, presided for her fourth year.

Bob Ritter, ‘61, of Aiken, South Carolina, and I visited. His best friend, Mickey Castleberry, a Baptist preacher and the upper classman who encouraged me to attend Howard College (now Samford), died last year. Bob said Mickey simply went to sleep in his recliner.

Johnny Long, Lee’s first bandmaster and long-time band director at Troy, was present with his wife.

One of the inductees was Sara Ann (Sansom) DuBose, an author of inspirational books and wife of Montgomery dentist, Dr. William DuBose. They have two children, DeAnn Argo and Cherie Preg.

Dr. DuBose or “Bill” had an aunt in Andalusia, Hazel Shreve, known for her beautiful yard.

Another inductee was Janice (Goode) Cruce, Class of 1960, who was given the “Spirit of Life” Award.

Janice is the daughter of the late Abram and Lois Goode, who attended Morningview Baptist Church, my home church in Montgomery. Mr. and Mrs. Goode were to me the perfect Christian couple. When I moved to Andalusia, Mr. Goode, who had been my Sunday-School teacher, told me that he had selected the design for our current post office in Andalusia. I grew up with the Goodes’ two daughters, Francis and Janice. Janice’s late husband, Billy, was a Baptist minister. Billy and Janice have two children, Barrett and Jill, both of whom are married and parents.

Each of the 16 persons honored took home a small statue of Robert E. Lee, whose life-sized statue stands on the Lee campus next to Ann Street.

Each recipient made an acceptance speech, which, combined, gave a sentimental history of Lee.

Three of my classmates from 1962 were present – Alex and Debbie Johnson and Ray McDevitt.

At one point all attending cheered “Two Bits,” common to most schools.

As I sat through the ceremony, I thought how like a homecoming in Heaven this event was. Almost everyone who was honored gave a Christian witness. The ceremony was like a revival. It is, I saw clearly, the Spirit of Christ which made Lee High a great school, as it has Andalusia High School.

The baccalaureate service for AHS was staged Sunday afternoon, May 18, in First Baptist, East Three-Notch.

The Irene Hines Bell Choir, directed by Dwight Crigger, minister of music at FBC, began the ceremony with a spirited “Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho.”

This was the 29th  year for the bell choir to ring. Ringing this year were Mrs. Don Cotton, Mrs. Kenneth Johnson, Mrs. Mary Ann Rabren Johnson, Mrs. James Krudop, Mrs. Jimmy Marley, Mrs. Joel Martin, Mrs. Willis Polk, Mrs. Doyle Prescott, Mrs. Glynn Ralls, Miss Charlotte Rogers, Mrs. Steve Thomas, Mrs. John Twitty, and Miss Erica Ziglar.

The seniors, clothed in mortarboards and gowns, marched in to Handel’s “Largo,” the 45th consecutive time this piece has been used. The organist was retired math teacher, John Beasley, who came out of retirement to play for commencement exercises for his 35th year. Mr. Beasley, who serves as organist for three churches each Sunday, is remarkably generous with his time and talents. He rarely refuses to play anytime that he is asked.

Crigger directed the congregation in the “Doxology.”

Altheia Mechelle Jackson, president of the Class of 2014, led her classmates in Psalm XIX:14, a verse recited by AHS seniors since the 1950’s.

Crigger then led the hymn, “Come, Thou Almighty King,” accompanied by Beasley.

George Evans Barnes III, vice-president of his class, led all in “The Lord’s Prayer.”

This year was the first time in AHS history that a class had two vice-presidents. There was a perfect tie between Barnes and John Reid McGlamory.

The bell choir rang “Celebration.”

McGlamory read Ruth 1:16 – 19a, using the red-bound Bible given as a class gift by the Class of 1973. It is stored in the Heritage Room of the school and borrowed each year.

The special music was “This Road,” sung by Katherine Betty Dean, class songstress.

Robert E. Madsen, pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Andalusia, delivered the baccalaureate, “Committing to Commitment.”

The bell choir ran “To God Be the Glory.”

President Jackson worded the benediction. She used a prayer written by Anna Elizabeth Bowden for the Class of 2013.

Katherine Betty Dean sang “The Lord’s Prayer.”

As the seniors exited, Beasley played the recessional, “Recessional MCMLXXIII,” written for the Class of 1973 by S. Daniel Shehan, a former teacher of English at AHS. Beasley used this same piece last year upon its 40th anniversary. Shehan has composed several pieces for AHS commencements and used to be commencement organist.
Marshals were Nicole Spears, Sarah Atkinson, James Albritton, and Brayden Burkhardt.

Cord bearers were Hannah McCalman and Elizabeth McCalman.

Ushers were Quatasia Wheeler, Haley Booker, Charlie Brock, and Ali Brown.

Faculty line marshals were Allison Foshee, science teacher, and Sara Mixon, English instructor.

The sponsor of the Usher Club for her second year was Tina Rogers, special-education teacher.

Nicole (Burnham) Jackson, Class of 1992, served as grand marshal for her second year.

The Board of Education is Dr. David McCalman, president; Amy P. Dugger, vice-president; W. David Bryant, Dr. William G. King, Jr., and Joecephus Nix.

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

Again, I ask the citizens of Andalusia to 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, Alabama 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 the last two weeks 150 years ago.

The Federal armies closed in on Richmond, Virginia, and Atlanta, Georgia.

Southern raiders, Gen. N. B. Forrest and John Hunt Morgan, plagued supply lines that supported Northern General Sherman, who was advancing on Atlanta.

At Cold Harbor, Virginia, Lee’s and Grant’s armies clashed. Grant ordered three “suicide” attacks on Lee’s entrenched troops. All three failed. Thousands of Union soldiers lay dead and dying between the lines for three days. Only two soldiers of all those survived.

Lincoln was favored unanimously as his party’s candidate for the next presidential election.

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

The mysterian is still the person who ran a miniature golf course along East Three-Notch.

Birthdays for the past two weeks are those of Ralph Waldo Emerson, American essayist and poet; Thomas Moore, an Irish poet; Patrick Henry, an American patriot; Gilbert Keith Chesterton, English writer; Edward Elgar, English composer; Thomas Hardy, English novelist and poet; and Jefferson Davis, only president of the Confederate States of America.
Emerson made famous “the shot fired ‘round the world” and “Hitch your wagon to a star.”

Thomas Moore wrote “The Harp That Once Through Tara’s Halls” (which gave the name of Tara used in Gone with the Wind), “Believe Me, If All Those Endearing Young Charms,” and “The Last Rose of Summer,” three of the most beautiful songs ever composed.

Patrick Henry’s speech, which ends in “Give me liberty or give me death,” is perhaps the best speech ever written by an American.

Elgar’s musical piece, “Pomp and Circumstance,” is traditionally played at graduation exercises. It has been used in ceremonies at the Andalusia High School since 1946. The title comes from Shakespeare’s Othello. It was written to help celebrate Queen Victoria’s anniversary on the throne. When a freshman at Howard, I sang with my classmates the lyrics to “Pomp and Circumstance” at the annual campus Step Sing, a singing competition for which Howard (Samford) is known.

President Davis was born June 3, 1808.

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.

Fare thee well.