The bunting at Covington Hall is admirable

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 5, 2014

Peeping through my Venetian blind, I admired once more the bunting over at Covington Hall where I spent the Glorious Fourth of July yesterday with Colonel Covington and his sisters, my friends, Miss Cora, Miss Dora, and Miss Flora, plus other guests, such as Mrs. Gotrocks of Greenville, Miss Priscilla Primme, Mr. Topper Propper, and Miss Birdie Purdy.

Clay Clyde Clump was a semi-guest, having been hired to help with the work.

We celebrated with barbecue, camp stew, slaw, beans, homemade ice cream, lemonade, patriotic readings, music, bells, and fireworks, as John Adams suggested so many years ago.

Driving up to Montgomery on the Double Nickel the other day I noticed that the speed limit at the bottom of McKenzie Hill changed from 65 mph to 55 mph. Before I could drive the new bypass at Georgiana, the speed limit dropped to 45 mph. Somebody told me that’s what’s known as a “speed trap.”

Once on I-65-N, a truck with a helicopter on its bed passed me (I think 30 mph is a safe speed). I had never seen a helicopter on the highway.

Closer to Montgomery, still on I-65-N, I spotted one of those electrical screens, the kind that flashes changing messages. That was new.

The last day of June Lenora and Wayne Johnson entertained her brother, Cecil Faulk, his wife, Martha (Collins), and guest, Joe Wingard, with a supper in Johnson Hall.

The Faulks, who are retired and living in Virginia Beach, Virginia, have been visiting relatives in Alabama.

Mr. Faulk is Mrs. Johnson’s only brother and sibling.

Supper included chicken spaghetti, Sister Schubert rolls, garden salad, and peach cobbler, made from fresh peaches purchased in Clanton, the Peach Capital of Alabama.

Said the guest, “That’s the best peach cobbler that ever I did eat!”

For the last two weeks the Portly Gentleman has told us of his bus tour to Michigan and Mackinac Island with “Miss Betty” Mitchell, the “Travel Queen.” This week he continues his report.

“Our fifth day we boarded the bus for Sault Ste. Marie (sue-saint-marie), which translates from the French into ‘the rapids of St. Mary (a river).’ This town, the oldest in Michigan, is known for its locks, which allow boats to be lifted by water to a higher or lower level.

“Wayne Bennett worded our travel prayer, and we ‘Buskoteers’ all sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to Emily Snowden, born this date, May 28.

“We crossed the five-mile-long Mackinaw Bridge with Lake Michigan to our left and Lake Huron to our right.

“Our destination was the South Locks Boat Tour at Dock 1in Sault Ste. Marie. Across the rapids of St. Marie were Canada and Canadian geese. A Mrs. Welch, who worked at the boat tour, provided fresh cookies and coffee.

“We boarded Le Voyageur for our tour of the locks. The Irish patch cap I wore and the lined jacket that had belonged to my cousin, ‘Pap’ Driggers, felt good in the cold air.

“As we slowly sailed up the St. Mary’s River, a guide pointed out sites to our left, such as the longest power plant in the world, made of stone with pilasters that looked like lighthouses between sections. We saw, too, the Tower of History, an observation tower. Then there was the house of Henry Schoolcraft, who wrote a book about Indian life, a book that would influence Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and his poem, The Song of Hiawatha.

“Our boat was lifted through Lock 1 with Lake Huron before us and Lake Superior behind. (The first lock was built in 1855.)

“On we sailed up to Canadian waters and a steel plant, returning to our dock through a Canadian lock, where we waved and waved at Canadian school children on an outing (so we assumed).

“Across from the American Sault Ste. Marie is a city of the same name in Canada.

“After returning to the dock and boarding the bus, we drove into town for lunch. Our bus stopped at the Ojibway Hotel on Portage Street, where we ‘split’ into groups and hunted out a nearby eatery of our choice.

“Being footsore, I walked off the bus and right into the Ojibway Hotel, taking a table in the Freighter’s Restaurant. George and Barbara Bush stayed there once.

“About a dozen of us chose to dine in the modern restaurant of the hotel.

“I sat in a glass-walled room that overlooked Water Street, a park, the river, and ships coming through the locks. It was a bright, sunny day — most pleasant and peaceful.

“As I ate my fancy taco in its crispy shell, a large freighter, the Arthur M. Anderson, came gliding through the lock just below and beyond my window.

“After finishing my blueberry tart, I sat and talked a long while with Jo Ray and Dorothy Waldrop.

“Most of our group ate down the street in Moloney’s Alley Irish Pub and tried fried green beans, locally popular.

“Nell Baker spoke of eating a pastie (rhymes with nasty), a fried pie filled with vegetables and meat, popular in the area and back in Mackinaw City.

“Fudge is famous in the area, too. In fact, tourists are known as ‘fudgies.’ Wayne Bennett ate so much fudge that he was a boon to the local economy.

“We next drove out to picturesque Point Iroquois Lighthouse on Whitefish Bay on Lake Superior with Canada across the way. It was a beautiful site, but cold. The chilly wind made white caps on the lake. Wild primroses grew on shore. (These flowers do not grow naturally in the South.) We met the keeper, Ronny ‘Gilly’ Gilmore, a pleasant fellow, who told us of the lighthouse.

“Returning to Mackinaw City, we dined at the Depot Restaurant where I sat with Mack and Nell Baker, Mazel Wiggins, Trudie Steele, and Virginia Merritt. Mack was the only one of us who ordered whitefish. The rest of us became jealous of his order, which was superior to our orders. I enjoyed discussing DeFuniak Springs, Florida, where Mack and Nell live.

“The next day a hail-fellow-well-met, Dick Perlick, boarded our bus as guide for the day. He was with us all day, until we returned to our motel at 4 p.m..

“We began the day with a prayer by Sharon Dye and by singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to Barbara Teel.

“Dick was full of information, pointing out local businesses and homes, informing us that the Mackinaw Bridge is the third largest suspension bridge in the world, that pasties came over from Cornwall, England, as a quick meal for miners, and that the beginning of the Dixie Highway is in Mackinaw, and runs down into the Old South.

“As we headed out, we saw a film about the old fort at Mackinaw by the Mackinaw Straits, a fort which has been reconstructed. We soon were taking a walking tour of the fort, based on the one originally taken from the French by the English.

“This was a fantastic sight! History come to life! Oh, to be a boy again and to play all over that fort! What a thrill! Those of you who have children, take them to that fort, Colonial Michilimackinac! The recreated fort is unbelievable with walls, shooting posts, church, homes, quarters. Costumed re-enactors put on a show of daily life and can be questioned.

“I started my tour of the reconstructed fort with a film in a small theatre and learned that the French founded the fort in 1715 for religion, fur trade with the Indians, and military security. The English took over in 1761.

“Then I wandered about until time to go.”

That’s all for now, folks. Part IV will follow, Lord willing.

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.

Confederate Gen. Jubal Early crossed the Potomac, leading his troops toward Washington, D.C. and Maryland.

Federal General Sherman and his troops pushed Confederate General Johnston and his Army of Tennessee back to Atlanta.

Federal troops attempted to take Charleston.

Lincoln “pocket-vetoed’ the Wade-Davis Bill, too radical for his plans.

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.”

Birthdays this week are those of Nathaniel Hawthorne, an American novelist, author of The Scarlet Letter, and Stephen C. Foster, American composer of well-known songs, such as “I Came from Alabama with a Banjo on My Knee,” “Beautiful Dreamer,” and “Old Folks at Home.”

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.