Ah, yes, a basket with blackberries for cobbler

Published 12:04 am Saturday, June 28, 2014

Peeping through my Venetian blind, I saw Miss Cora Covington, heading my way with a mess of fresh squash, and some blackberries for a cobbler.

When I opened my cottage door, she was humming “Good Ol’ Summer Time.”

Her sister, Miss Flora, was already here. We had been discussing plants in bloom – daylilies, crepe myrtle, lantana, verbena, daisy fleabane, hydrangeas, Sweet William, canna, mimosa, petunias, vinca, elderberries, and abelia.

The sisters and I made a trio of the old song and harmonized.

It wasn’t long before we put a cobbler together; and, when it was done, we served it up at my tea cart, adding ice cream and lemonade.

As we ate, we talked.

Seen Sunday night at the Huddle House were Donald and Judy Knox.

Seen at the lunch buffet at Tabby D’s were Trudie Steele and Virginia Merritt.

Ben Parker, a son of Joe and Candy Parker, a sophomore at the Andalusia High School, and a pupil of Sonia Crigger, played the special music in the opening assembly of the distinguished Baraca Class at First Baptist, East Three-Notch, last Sunday morning.

Ben played by heart “Shout to the Lord.”

Also, during the Sunday-School assembly, Gillis Jones was recognized and serenaded “Happy Birthday.” It was his 85th birthday.

That same Sunday, June 22, the second day of summer, in morning worship, the pastor, Dr. Fred Karthaus, baptized four brothers, Sam, Connor, Gray, and Will Dalton, who had all made their profession of faith in Christ as Savior and Lord, a previous Sunday.

Seen at David’s for supper the first day of summer were Dennis and Darbee Knowles (he’s pastor of Pleasant Grove Baptist Church), Russell Broussard, Jeremy and Renee Stewart and their five-year-old daughter, Jasmine (the Stewarts are missionaries to Norway), Johnnie Meeks, Barbara Strickland, Mark and Cynthia Gunter, Thelma Glisson, Mike Jones (retired teacher), Terry and Janet (Rabren) Stahler (they had driven up from Gulf Shores to visit Janet’s mother and to eat at David’s) and their seven-month-old grandson, Bradley Stahler, who, that night, had eaten his very first grits and catfish.

Nina Keenam and Jan White, both columnists for the Star-News, motored to Tuscaloosa to attend the Southern Christian Writers Conference, staged at First Baptist, June 6 – 7.

With one of her columns, published in our paper, Jan won first place in the newspaper category of the SCWC writing contest.

Some 200 from nine states attended.

Following an opening session Friday afternoon, workshops were attended on Friday and Saturday.

Keynote speakers were delivered by Patricia Hickman, a novelist, and Don Aycock, a non-fiction author.

This makes two national awards that Jan has won in writing for our paper.

Last week the Portly Gentleman told us of the first two days of a bus tour to Michigan, organized by “Miss Betty” Mitchell for May 24 – June l.

Today he continues his narrative.

“Before leaving South Bend, Indiana, where we had spent the night, we drove through the campus of Notre Dame and took some pictures, especially of the gold-domed administrative building.

“As we drove north, we watched a movie on the bus, Somewhere in Time, set on Mackinac Island, our destination. This viewing helped prepare us for our visit to the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, seen in the movie.

“I studied a bit of geography as we entered Michigan.

“Michigan is a divided state, made of the Upper Peninsula and the Lower Peninsula. It blends into three of the five Great Lakes. Lake Superior rests above the Upper Peninsula. Lake Michigan rests below the Upper Peninsula and west of the Lower Peninsula. Lake Huron is east of the Lower Peninsula.

“Mackinac Island lies in the Straits of Mackinac, which separates the two peninsulas.

“At the straits some 115 years ago the French erected a stronghold in the wilderness. The English later took over.

“The French called the island ‘MACK-i-naw,’ but spelled it with a c. The English pronounced the island, town, and straits the same way but spelled them with a w. The Indian name means ‘great turtle.’

“A bridge of five miles connects the two peninsulas.

“I could see the bridge from my motel room. We stayed in the Holiday Inn Express at the Bridge for four nights, going out on an adventure each day.

“The Inn was located in Mackinaw City at the upper tip of the Lower Peninsula, more a town than a city. We ate there this first night in Michigan at the Blue Water Grill and Bar. I sat at table with Jo Ray and her sister, Linda Hammett (both first cousins to Seth Hammett), and Mazell Wiggins, and enjoyed trout.

“After supper many walked to a park below the bridge, but were pestered by swarms of insects and soon retreated. My weary feet kept me in my room and thus saved me from the misery.

“Tuesday morning we took a Star Line ferry, the Marquette II, over to Mackinac Island, a trip of twenty minutes, across the straits, to spend the day. Boat is the only way over.

“It was a chilly morning and one needed a cap and coat. There was so much fog over Lake Huron that one was hardly able to see anything. A member of the crew sold souvenir booklets. The ferry could hold a hundred easily.

“Mackinac Island is a large one. Some live on it year-round. Charming, old Victorian houses, built two stories, shoulder-to-shoulder, dot the cliffs. Motorized vehicles are not allowed except for emergencies. People get about by foot, bicycles, horses, and wagons. Tourists and residents were all over. The streets were crowded. There was a main street with hotels and shops. I was surprised to see so many people so early in the season.

“We docked at a wharf, disembarked, and boarded a large wagon, capable of carrying 20 of us at a time, drawn by two, large draft horses.

“Lilacs were about to bloom, but we missed them by a week or two. The daffodils and tulips, however, were in their glory.

“Up on a cliff, overlooking Lake Huron, was the famous Grand Hotel with its long, white, columned porch, said to be the longest porch in the world.

“We were in one of many wagons, going back and forth, carrying tourists from all over.

“One of the prettiest sights I saw were green lawns, especially on the hills, dotted with bright yellow dandelions, hundreds of them.

“A beautiful stagecoach from the Grand Hotel passed us, taking tourists around the island.

“Our wagon tour was the first activity we undertook on the island. Our first stop was at the Surrey Hill Carriage Museum where one could see historic items and buy souvenirs.

“At Surrey Hill we transferred to a bigger carriage, holding 35 people, drawn by three horses. I felt sorry for the horses, Murphy, Ben, and John. The driver/guide was Candace.

“Candace drove us through a state park where we saw beds of white trillium in the woods, as well as violets and St. Ann’s Cemetery.

“Stopping at Arch Rock, we climbed up a platform to look down through a large hole in the rock to a road far below. This arch is one of Nature’s striking structures. Beyond was Lake Huron with its clear waters and picturesque shoreline.

“We passed a reconstruction of Fort Mackinac. (Recall that the French and then the English maintained outposts hereabouts.)

“Candace returned us to Surrey Hill where we transferred once more to a two-horse carriage, which took us to the Grand Hotel for lunch.

“Entering through a lobby and hall of shops, we went upstairs to the dining room, a long hall, as long as a football field, stretching along the front of the Grand, with large, plate-glass windows, letting in the spring light, a hall set with white columns, inset with mirrors, a hall done in white and green, with tables overlaid with starched, white cloths, and a staff of waiters in black ties and white jackets.

A pianist played in the background.

“Little chandeliers and modern globes provided light.

“My table setting included seven utensils. The coffee cup and plates were decorated with pink camellias.

“Outside the lake-facing windows was the long porch with its sitting areas and rockers, all in white. Potted red geraniums accented the white porch, the longest in the world.

“A buffet included more items than I can list. At our table cold duck was voted our favorite. There were 22 kinds of desserts that day. Two waiters said that a thousand diners could be served at one sitting.

“At table I sat with Trudie Steele, Virginia Merritt, Mazel Wiggins, Gaylen Sims, and Rosalyn Wright.

“After lunch we had about three hours to ‘explore.’ I wandered off alone, all about the hotel.

“The first thing I did was just sit in a white rocker on the world’s longest porch and rock and rock and rock, enjoying the fresh air and sunshine. This, and the meal, were the main reasons I went to Mackinac. Life offers fewer pleasures more satisfying than rocking on a porch, or anywhere.

“Lake Huron stretched before me—so blue I could hardly tell where the lake stopped and the sky began. I sat amid grandeur with white columns, spaced down the porch. Below me were daffodils on the banks rolling below the façade of the hotel.

“Climbing the stairs to the fourth floor, I found the Cupola Bar, where I rested, a grand view around me. Living dangerously, I ordered a Shirley Temple. A chandelier with glass ‘roses’ (or ‘camellias’?) hung down into the bar from the upper cupola just above.

“Walking the steps to the circular cupola above, I found a smaller, tip-top room, flooded with light, filled with tables and chairs, and cushioned seating beneath the windows, and a view to rival any!

“In a panorama were Lake Huron, two lighthouses, the village below, the five-mile bridge between St. Ignace and Mackinaw City, the pool where Esther Williams made a film, gardens, walks, people, carriages, churches, boats on the Huron, cliffs, daffodils, and rocky hills.

“Back on the third floor, I ran into Gloria Loser and Liz Pike, exploring on their own. They showed me the room used in the film, Somewhere in Time.

“Outside I called a ‘taxi,’ meaning a horse and carriage, to take me down to the village. A kindly attendant got me a ride instead with three people from Missouri in one of the Grand Hotel carriages itself. So, down the hill I went in style!

“Back in the village I found part of our group, waiting at the Star Line ferry to return to the mainland. Since we had over an hour left to explore, I walked to the little P.O. for stamps. The walk made me feel as though I were in a New England village.

“The ride back to Mackinaw City was cold, despite the sunshine. Kindly Sharon Dye lent me a wrap for I was shivering.

“Our bus driver, Earl, drove us to the Lighthouse Restaurant for supper. This was a stylish place with an inlay ceiling, stone walls, plated, wooden-striped walls, and flowers, floating in water. The utensils were the nicest I have yet seen in a restaurant, heavy, stylish, and exceptionally clean. Betty Mitchell worded our blessing aboard the bus before we got off. There was always a prayer as we began the day and always a blessing before a meal.

“Earl and I ate together. I wasn’t good company, though. I was so tired that I fell asleep at table, which my fellow travelers found amusing.”

Thank you, Portly One. Waddle off to bed now. That’s four days down and five to go.

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 this week 150 years ago.

The siege by the Federals of Petersburg, Virginia, continued. The Federals began digging a tunnel toward the Confederate earthworks at Petersburg.

Sherman’s Federal assault at Kennesaw Mountain near Marietta, Georgia, failed.

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

The mysterian is the answer to a riddle. I am half, yet I am whole.

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.