National Anthem turns 200 in September

Published 12:05 am Saturday, August 30, 2014

Peeping through my Venetian blind, I saw Clay Clyde Clump, putting up bunting and American flags at Covington Hall in preparation for the bicentennial celebration of the “Star-spangled Banner,” which turns 200 this September 14.

The anniversary falls on a Sunday; and the Covingtons plan to attend a special program in church that morning and to sponsor a patriotic picnic at Covington Hall that afternoon, culminating with everyone singing the national anthem.

Seen at Granny’s (formerly, Perry’s) for the Friday-night, seafood buffet were Jimmy and Brenda Syler, Nathaniel and Joyce Belcher, Jimmy Ponds, Oscar Hamilton, and Marlene Carpino.

Gentle reader, have you ever eaten sweet-potato cobbler or vinegar cobbler? I mean cobbler, not pie. I heard of these only the other day for the first time.

Seen at the Dairy Queen were Karon and Debbie Norris and Wayne and Lenora Johnson. The D.Q. is the oldest eatery in the “Dimple of Dixie,” still in business. It was the first place I ate when I moved to Andalusia.

Seen at David’s were Greg and Jan White and their daughter, Kelley.

Last week we left the Portly Gentleman in the Embassy Suites in North Charleston, South Carolina, at the annual reunion (convention) of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

It was Friday morning, and he was attending the second general session, a round of reports and self-congratulatory speeches.

During the session a man was seen, smoking an electric cigarette, a first sight for the Portly One.

At lunch the Portly One boarded a bus with other SCV members and their wives to visit the nearby museum housing the H. L. Hunley, the Confederate submarine, built in Mobile, which was the first successful, wartime “sub.”

The Hunley, named for its builder, sank three times, losing 2l crew members in all, five, eight, and eight. Horace L. Hunley died in the second sinking.

Lifted from the ocean some years ago, the submarine is currently being restored in a bath of restoratives.

“I gazed and gazed at that small metal tube and wondered how eight men could fit into it and tolerate the close quarters,” said the Portly Gentleman.

“In the excellent museum, built around the actual submarine, there are, among thousands of items, the reconstructed faces of eight crew members. One can stare face-to-face at the dead, thanks to modern technology.

“All 2l, by the way, are buried in Magnolia Cemetery, Charleston, if I am not mistaken.

“Back at the convention center, next to Embassy Suites, I caught another bus, provided also by the SCV, to attend a memorial service for members who had died since the last national reunion.

“On the long ride to the church I talked with Scot Peeler, a retired Spanish teacher from Tampa.

“Only 39 attended, which included those on program.

“There was no pianist; all singing was a cappella.

“The service was staged in the Ashley River Baptist Church, large and ‘newish.’

“Three chaplains took turns, reading the names of the SCV who had died in the past year.

“There were prayers, a sermon, songs, and one solo, sung by Chaplain Cecil Fayard, Gen. Robert E. Lee’s favorite, ‘How Firm a Foundation.’

“After a long ride back to the hotel, I took supper in the Palm Tree Grille in the atrium, the restaurant of the Embassy Suites. My supper included a filet, asparagus, rolls, fingerling potatoes, and bread pudding with ice cream. This was one of several meals that I enjoyed in this restaurant.

“Before retiring for the evening, I listed all SCV members from Alabama of whom I was aware – Gary Carlisle (Alabama’s SCV commander), Mack Lott, Joe Clark, Jimmy Hill (an Alabama lt. commander), Russ Hare, Sir Francis McGowin, Frank Leatherwood, Butch Godwin, Philip Davis of Montgomery, Charles Baker (Alabama chaplain), Joe Wingard, Paul Vaughn, and Carl Jones (Alabama 2nd lt. commander).

“On the last day of the reunion, Saturday, I started the day at my SCV division meeting. I’m in the division called the Army of the Tennessee, after a section of the old Confederacy in which Alabama lay.

“At the third and final business session, which followed divisional meetings, I sat with Sir Francis McGowin of Andalusia and Joe Clark and Mack Lott of the Enterprise camp.

“Elections for new national officers ended in a run-off, which Tom Stain of Alabama won. Sir Francis and I cast our votes for Tom.

“In the voting line I ran into Ian Pearce of Guernsey in the Channel Islands near France and England. He’s a big fan of the SCV and flies all those miles each year to attend its meetings. He defends the Confederacy and flies a Confederate flag at his home overseas.

“Back at the hotel I took a lunch of bratwurst, lentils, and toast in the Palm Tree Grille.

“That afternoon Sir Francis McGowin, Lady Ann, and I shared a carriage for a leisurely tour of old Charleston, starting at the newly renovated Market Place at Meeting Street.

“Our guide was Bob Jones; our horse, Clementine.

“We took the back streets by homes, gardens, and churches.

“Instead of attending the formal ball that night, as did the McGowins, I stayed in my room and rested, enjoying the luxury of room service – homemade chili and cocoanut cake. The ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise came in three small, novelty bottles.

“That ends my account of the SCV reunion.”

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 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 Confederate ship, CSS Talahassee, captured 31 Union vessels in three weeks.

The Democratic National Convention, meeting in Chicago, nominated Gen. George B. McClellan for president.

Many in the North were as tired of the War as those in the South.

The siege of Atlanta continued.

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

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

The birthdays this week are those of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, German novelist/poet; Lev N. Tolstoy, Russian novelist; and Oliver Wendell Holmes, American doctor, poet, and essayist.

As Shakespeare is to England, so is Goethe to Germany.

Goethe’s masterpiece is Faust, a poetic play in which Faust sells his soul to the devil for the lovely Marguerite. The poem is often compared to Englishman Christopher Marlowe’s The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus, in which a man trades his soul for earthly pleasures.

In Marlowe’s play Faustus bargains for the beautiful Helen of Troy of whom he famously asks, “Was this the face that launched a thousand ships and burnt the topless towers of Ilium (Troy)? Sweet Helen, make me immortal with a kiss!”

(The Greeks sent a thousand ships to burn Troy and rescue Helen, a prisoner. Anyone who kissed her would be remembered forever.)

The Frenchman, Charles Gounod, made Part I of Goethe’s play into an opera, Faust, which features two hauntingly beautiful sections, “Even Bravest Heart May Swell,” sung by Marguerite’s brother, Valentine, and the world-famous trio at the end, sung by Faust, Marguerite, and Mephistopheles (a devil).

Tolstoy wrote War and Peace, which some consider the greatest novel ever written in the world.

Holmes taught medicine at Harvard and wrote comical and sentimental poems as well as clever essays. He is buried in Mount Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge, along with his colleagues, Longfellow and Lowell.

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.