The roadsides are covered with bittersweets

Published 12:38 am Saturday, September 6, 2014

Peeping through my Venetian blind, I noticed along the roadsides the yellow bitterweeds there and in distant, deserted pastures. From my memory a mental picture came to mind of a country hillside pasture thick with bitterweeds, a yellow field. It made a pretty sight. Some may call those yellow wild flowers “weeds,” but even weeds can be beautiful. Did not God Himself make them?

Gentle reader, have you planned anything special for Sunday, September 14? That’s the 200th anniversary of “The Star-spangled Banner,” written by Francis Scott Key and now the lyrics to our national anthem.

The third annual Retirees Reunion of those who retired from the Andalusia High School was attended September 2 at David’s Restaurant in Andalusia.

The meeting was organized by Amy Spurlin and Jenny Pitts.

Following a prayer by Joe Wingard, the group ate lunch, a la cart. Dessert and coffee were donated by the establishment.

Each person present took a turn in updating his personal news to the group.

Also, reports were made, concerning retirees unable to attend, such as the beloved Jule Browder.

Attendees included Elaine Manning, Brunetta Patterson, Sam Shakespeare, Gwin Burkett, Mary Avery, Bobby and Dorothy McGhee (who announced their son Robert plans to be married), Pat Stewart (who is a great-grandmother), Linda Mellown, John Beasley (who’s expecting his first grandson), Jerri Stroud (who directs the Andalusia Ambassadors), Judy Weant (now a grandmother), Kennith Mount (of the city council), Beth Wilkes, Debbie Posey (the Lawnmower Queen), Emma Locke, and Cynthia Gunter (whose younger son announces sports on WSFA, Montgomery).

Recently Erica Ziglar, a student at Troy, played on her trumpet “Amazing Grace” in the opening Sunday-School assembly of the Baraca Class at First Baptist Church, East Three-Notch. She was accompanied by church organist, Martha Givhan, playing the Ann Martin Memorial piano.

Miss Ziglar plays regularly with the congregational singing at First Baptist and often has trumpet solos with special music.

The Covington Historical Society met August 28 in the Dixon Memorial of the Andalusia Public Library.

John Scherf, president for his second time, called the 398th session to order.

Following the pledge to the flag, Bill Stanley offered the invocation.

All stood to sing the state song, “Alabama,” played on the piano by Sue (Bass) Wilson, vice-president.

Nancy Robbins, secretary, presented the minutes; and Harmon Proctor, treasurer, distributed his report.

Mrs. Wilson announced that the museum has lost a good worker. Mary Ann Rabren Johnson has taken a new job with Alan Cotton, the florist.

Mrs. Wilson also shared that a new, pictorial book about Andalusia history has been published in the national series, Images of America: Andalusia. It was edited by Kristy Shuford White of our local junior college, Lurleen Burns Wallace.

Refreshments were provided by Wyley Ward, Irene (Davis) Butler, and William Blocker.

Jarrod Cooper, a local surveyor and former professor of surveying at Troy, gave a detailed program on his adventures while surveying, including encounters with snakes and luxury living on Florida beaches.

Cooper recommended Wyley Ward’s excellent book on surveying in Covington County.

Bull Street Baptist Church in Savannah, Georgia, has invited S. Daniel Shehan, formerly of Andalusia, to be church organist. He had been serving as organist at Washington Avenue Baptist in Savannah.

Seen at Simone’s for supper Friday night were Alex and Nancy Boldog.

In the distinguished Baraca Class last Sunday Terry Powell, pastor of Mobley Creek Baptist for the last nine years, taught the Sunday-School lesson, substituting for the regular teacher, Richard Pass. Powell said that it was in the same room (the chapel of First Baptist) in 1987 that he taught his first Sunday-School lesson.

Rogerl Reeves sang the special music, “Beulah Land,” prior to the lesson.

In worship services later that morning, August 31, young Joshua Blackstock was baptized by his dad, Judson Blackstock, associate pastor of First Baptist. Present for Joshua’s baptism were his mother, Amy; his sister, Hannah Grace; his paternal grandparents, Dean and Marsha Blackstock; and his maternal grandparents, Mike and Cindy Smith.

Tomorrow a book signing for the new pictorial history of Andalusia, Images of America: Andalusia, is set for 1:30 p.m. at the Church Street Cultural Arts Centre at 420 Church Street.

Professor Steve Hubbard of our junior college and his wife Harriet (Jay) welcomed friends and relatives into their Victorian home atop Bay Branch Hill Monday, September 1, to enjoy Labor Day.

Professor Hubbard is organist at First Presbyterian Church and professor of English at Lurleen Burns Wallace.

The grand, old house was once the home of the distinguished Simmons family.

The afternoon-evening celebration featured sitting on the wrap-around porch with its Doric columns, sipping iced tea, listening to the wind chimes in the breeze, watching the playful cats, eating boiled peanuts in the porch swing, singing old songs as the Professor played the piano, and enjoying a meal of barbecue ribs, corn on the cob, green beans, boiled potatoes, baked beans, rolls, raw vegetables, and homemade vanilla ice cream.

A giant American flag decorated the front porch where guests lounged in white wicker.

Attending were Chad and Maggie Smith (Harriet’s daughter), and their children, Avery, Austin, and Lexi; Vivien Otero, Lexi’s friend; Bill Gantt and his mother, Jackie (Bill contributed some tastilicious barbecue ribs); David Walters, a local historian; Martha Hawkins; Prof. Dale Gunn of the junior college; Chuck and Kristi White (Kristi edited the new pictorial history) and their children, Madison and Taylor; Eric and Gari Lidh (Eric is known for his role in the “Nutcracker” ballet); Diaon Cook; Ralph and Misti Purvis (he baked the beans, and good they were!); Richard and Amelia Klosowsky and their son, Chandler; John Bess; Cindy Cook; Ginger Spaulding; Joe Wingard, retired A.H.S. teacher; and Bob and Linda Madson (he is pastor of the First Presbyterian Church).

Following the national convention (“reunion”) of the Sons of Confederate Veterans in North Charleston, South Carolina, the Portly Gentleman headed south to meet his cousin, Jo Driggers, from Lexington, South Carolina, for a continued tour of the grand, old city of Charleston.

The cousins meet every year or two to continue learning about the city where their common ancestors entered America in 1753.

It only took the Portly One half an hour to drive from his hotel in North Charleston to the Sleep Inn in Mount Pleasant, a town across the huge Ravenal Bridge, connecting Mount Pleasant with Charleston.

The cousins have used Sleep Inn for a number of years because of its convenient location. They can be on the bridge in a few minutes and over the Ravenal and onto Meeting Street in a few more. Meeting Street is the main street in Charleston.

The Portly One arrived first and read until Jo appeared about noon.

Since their rooms were not ready, they went to eat at R. B.’s at Shem Creek, located just a few miles away, still in Mount Pleasant, though.

R.B.’s is a seafood restaurant by the side of Shem Creek, which runs out into Charleston Bay. It opened in 1979, built by Ronnie Boals.

Shem Creek is a small marina at the mouth of the creek. It has a nautical feel, a motel, a couple of restaurants, dolphins breaking the surface, seagulls, pelicans on posts, fishing and sailing boats, wharfs, and kayaks.

New to the cousins were paddle “boats.” People stood aboard these boards, paddling slowly. Some had dogs “aboard.”

The cousins sat by a large, glass window, enjoying people watching and the sites mentioned above. Both had she-crab soup.

There are two traditional dishes to try when one visits the Low Country – she-crab soup and shrimp and grits. It doesn’t feel right to visit and not eat these dishes.

After the meal the cousins sat a long time, rocking on the porch, talking, and letting the world go by.

Heading back to the motel, they realized one of their favorite restaurants, Locklear’s, had closed. The Portly One was much grieved at this. He learned, though, that a branch of Locklear’s still existed not too far away.

Buying flowers at Harris Teeter, a grocery, the cousins drove over the Ravenal and out to Magnolia Cemetery to place flowers on the graves of two authors, William John Grayson of Beaufort and William Gilmore Simms of Charleston. Both are antebellum. Simms is the most significant author of the Old South.

Both cousins had read from a book about the cemetery and looked for the graves of those who particularly interested them. They found three – John Russell, the owner of the bookstore in Charleston on King Street where Simms, Timrod, Hayne, and other literary types met; Frank Bunker Gilbrath, Jr., co-author of Cheaper by the Dozen; and Mary Lee with her two husbands and lover.

For supper that night the cousins ate at the Post House in the old Mount Pleasant Village. Jo tried a salad; and the Portly One, shrimp and grits.

I had hoped to complete the tour of Charleston, but I am out of energy; so I must postpone the “The Cousins in Charleston” till a future time.

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.

Confederate General Hood and his Army of Tennessee evacuated Atlanta, burning munitions and stores as they left. This scene can be seen in the movie, Gone with the Wind.

John Hunt Morgan, Confederate raider, was surrounded and killed by the Federals.

Formerly rebellious citizens of Louisiana “ate crow” and ratified a new state constitution, abolishing slavery.

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

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

Birthdays this week are those of Eugene Field, an American newspaper poet, and Sarah Orne Jewett, an American writer. Her Country of the Pointed Firs is particularly lovely.

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.