Fern-like foliage a testament of nature’s greenery

Published 12:05 am Saturday, August 23, 2014

Peeping through my Venetian blind, I noticed on my little, front-yard fence some curling cypress vine, some with red blooms, some with white. The fern-like foliage of the cypress vine is among nature’s loveliest greenery.

Seen at Larry’s for supper were Ivy Jones and her minister, Diane Everette, the new pastor at Mt. Zion Methodist Church; Bobby and Susan Johns, Robert Lee Holley, Russ and Sharon Jarvis, and Roy and Sybil Weaver with their grandson (young Roy’s son) and his date.

Recently returned from a pleasure trip to Atlanta are Lisa Pickron, Joe Rainey, and Joe’s son, Jonny. On the outing they rode the Skyview ferris wheel, visited the Georgia Aquarium and the CNN building, and toured the Coca-Cola Museum. They dined at a “very cool” restaurant called Johnny Rocket’s, designed to reflect the 1950s and 1960s.

I’ve asked the Portly Gentleman to tell us of his journey in mid-July to the annual national convention (“reunion”) of the Sons of Confederate Veterans in North Charleston, South Carolina. Being a member of the local “camp” (a unit named the Covington Rifles of the SCV), the Portly Gentleman was eligible to attend.

The SCV is an international organization of descendants, direct or indirect, of those who fought for the South during the War Between the States. Members attempt to honor their ancestors by keeping their memories alive.

Getting off to a late start, the Portly One took 84-E from Andalusia through Enterprise, giving the “hi” sign to the boll weevil, crossing the Chattahoochee River with thoughts of Lanier (who penned “The Song of the Chattahoochee”), passing through Donaldsonville (the home of Benny Gay), admiring the handsome college and high school in Bainbridge, pausing in pretty, little Whigham, slowing down in Thomasville (“City of the Roses”), gawking at lovely Quitman, and coming to rest for the night in stately Valdosta, Georgia.

Valdosta is grand with its courthouse and churches. It was in a state of disrepair at the time, though, because of road construction.

The Portly One took a room in the Clarion, right along 84, which he has done since having to break his trips to the Low Country into two days.

He ate dinner next door at a restaurant called Austin’s, known for its good food and generous portions.

As he was eating his onion rings and fried shrimp, he heard someone at a nearby table mention “Andalusia.” Listening intently, the Portly Gentleman heard “Andalusia” mentioned again and again. The diners turned out to be Shep Lucas and his son Dale from McKenzie, along with Lamar and Norma Williamson from Red Level and their children and their friends. They were in Valdosta for the Wild Adventures Theme Park and were staying at the Clarion, too. They make the trip each year to enjoy over 50 species of animals and 30 rides.

Shep is a nephew of Rogerl Reeves, by the way.

The next day the Portly One got an early start, driving that long, seemingly endless four-lane between Valdosta and Homerville, where lives Beverly (Davis) and her family. Beverly is the older daughter of our own Joe and Sandra Davis and was reared in the Dimple of Dixie.

Past Homerville the road became a two-lane until Waycross, winding through swamplands, the most dangerous section of 84-E in Georgia.

Waycross was a challenge. For one like the Portly Gentleman, who cannot cross a street without getting lost, he miraculously threaded his way through all kinds of arrows and signs.

In Blackshear he admired the handsome Pierce County Courthouse.

The Portly One stopped in Jesup, a progressive town, and ate lunch at Sybil’s, which provided a buffet, ending with blackberry cobbler.

There he met Keith Johnson, 30 years a principal, now a greeter. He also met Sybil Lynn, who began the restaurant that still bears her name. Miss Sybil, who had sold her restaurant one and a half years ago, was eating with her daughter.

“They” say to stop and eat where you see the most cars. Sybil’s was packed!

Driving over the Savannah River into South Carolina, the Portly Gentleman stopped at the welcome center for instructions.

He took I-95-N till he got to 17, which he drove to North Charleston, where the congested traffic was horrible.

The Portly One prayed earnestly for travel protection, which the Lord was pleased to give him. In fact, he prayed almost without ceasing when upon the highway, fearing as he did car trouble with his deluxe sedan even though it had only 200,000 miles.

After a drive of almost eight hours, the Portly One pulled into the parking lot of the Embassy Suites in North Charleston, where he stayed for the SCV convention. The hotel was designed with an atrium of nine floors with greenery, streams, and a restaurant at the ground level and several glass-walled elevators, zipping up and down like something from a futuristic city. Each room had a little kitchen and a sitting room as well as the bedroom and bath.

No sooner had the Portly One checked in than he had to rush to catch a SCV bus at the convention center next door to the hotel in order to attend an evening buffet cruise in Charleston Bay, one of the social events of the convention.

During the ride to the Bay, he became acquainted with Lamar McMillin, a retired doctor of 35 years with a wife, three children, and five grandchildren, living in Vicksburg, Mississippi, where the national SCV reunion was staged last year.

Those attending the bay buffet, a boatload, boarded The Spirit of the Low Country, viewing, as they sailed about Charleston Bay, the great Ravenel Bridge, connecting old Charleston and the town of Mount Pleasant, sailboats in the sunset, historic Fort Sumpter, and Charleston on the horizon.

The Portly Gentleman thought of his ancestors, who sailed aboard the Elizabeth into Charleston Bay in 1753, after crossing the Atlantic from Europe, and how they must have felt, starting a new life in America.

On the cruise the Portly One sat at table with Alabamians Philip and RoseMary Davis from Montgomery, Paul and Patty Vaughn of Pell City, and Larry and Sue Spears of Prattville.

On the way back to the hotel Lamar said that he was staying, not at the Embassy, but at the Mills House, that antebellum hotel on Meeting Street, the main street down the length of the Charleston Peninsula. General Lee had stayed there. The Portly One turned green with envy.

The next morning the SCV opening assembly kicked off the weekend meetings, followed by the first business session.

On his way to the convention center next door, a good stiff walk from his eighth-floor suite, the Portly One ran into Ann McGowin in the elevator. She and her husband, Sir Francis McGowin, had driven up from Andalusia. He, like the Portly One, was also representing the Covington Rifles Camp.

Others from Alabama that the Portly One met in the hallways were Jimmy Hill (a lt. commander in the Alabama SCV), Dr. Charles Baker (the Alabama SCV chaplain), and Mack Lott and Joe Clark from the Enterprise camp.

That night the Portly One attended a banquet. The after-dinner speaker was Ben Jones, who played “Cooter” on the Dukes of Hazard 36 years ago.

Jones, white-haired and clean-shaven, spoke without notes about his love of the South, of the War, flag, racial relations, Lee, Lincoln, and slavery, which he called a “national sin.”

He said that Gene Autry was his favorite cowboy and that some 1500 cars were destroyed in making his TV series.

Once serving in the Georgia legislature, Jones delivered a Christian message and received a standing ovation.

Let’s stop at this point and finish the Portly One’s trip to North Charleston next issue, Lord willing.

The celebration of the War of 1812 (1812 – 1815) continues. The bicentennial of our national anthem is this coming September 14. It was penned during the War of 1812.

Again, I ask the citizens of Andalusia to join the Covington Historical Society and pay its annual dues of $25 to hellp preserve the history of our count, whether you attend meetings or not. Mail to CHS, P.O. Box 1l582, Andalusia, Alabama 36420. Include your e-mail address if kyou wish to be reminded of upcoming meetings.

Tocommemorate the Sesquicentennial of thke War Between the States, let us return to this week 150 years ago.

Union General U. S. Grant refused again to exchange prisoners. This meant starvation for Federal prisoners because the Confederates could hardly feed themselves.

The siege of Atlanta continued.

Confederate General Early and Union General Sheridan skirmished in Vorgomoa/

Confederate Gen. A. P. Hill failed to retake a railroad at Petersburg.

Confederate General Forrest took Memphis, Tennessee, temporarily.

Fort Morgan in Mobile fell to the Federals. The only major port left to the South was Wilmington, North Carolina.

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

The mysterlian is the answer to a riddle, “I am half, yet I am whole.”

The birthday this week is that of Edgar Lee Masters, an American lawyer-poet, who authored Spoon River Anthology.

Now, gentle reader, allow me to join Buffalo Bob Smith in encouraging each of us to be in his place of worshkip this weekend, Lord willing.

Fare three well.