Alas, I see the beautiful goldenrod, morning glories

Published 1:44 pm Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Peeping through my Venetian blind, I noticed across the way at Covington Hall that the fall flowerbeds, which make a horseshow around the great, front lawn, were bordered with October’s happiest flower, the pink daisy mums.

Driving around the Golden Square this week, I stopped at Yo’ Craving for a late lunch. Sitting at the sidewalk tables, eating ice cream, outside in the golden sunshine and sweet, fresh air were Beth (Kanaley) Taylor, her daughter-in-law, Blakely (Mrs. Riley Hill Taylor), and Blakely’s year-old son, Hill (Riley Hill Taylor, Jr.).

Riley Hill and Blakely have recently moved here and have bought the house once occupied by Agnes Fowler, who is now living in Memphis, Tennessee. In fact, the young Taylors drove up to Memphis of late to visit Mrs. Fowler.

Seen at the Friday-night buffet at Tabby D’s were Carley and Nell Johnson and their friend, Helen Clark, as well as Jimmy and Tammy Cox.

It saddened me last Sunday to see a sign outside Simone’s Restaurant-Bakery that the eatery was closing permanently. I enjoyed many fine meals there. The Portly Gentleman said that his favorite dessert from Simone’s bakery was coconut-crème pie.

Allison Griffin, reared in Andalusia, a former writer for the Montgomery Advertiser, has been hired as the new, managing editor of Alabama Living. Allison is one of the two daughters of Mr. and Mrs. Bill Law.

At First Baptist, Andalusia, members are being asked to give testimonies of what Jesus means to them. Last Sunday Cathy (Lee) Harry, quoting scriptures throughout her testimony, inspired the congregation with her thoughts on God and Christ.

In the absence of Dwight Crigger, minister of music, Charlotte Rogers, a teacher at W. S. Harlan, led the choir and congregational singing.

In the absence of Sonia Crigger, church pianist, Sue (Bass) Wilson accompanied the singing.

Speaking of “Miss Sue,” she is to be congratulated for her booklet of some thirty pages and sixty-odd pictures, composed to celebrate the l00th anniversary of East Three-Notch School, at one time THE Andalusia High School, then an elementary school, and now City Hall. The colorful and informative booklet was dedicated to the AHS Class of 1965, Miss Sue’s own class, celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

The Portly Gentleman and his cousin, Jo Driggers of Lexington, South Carolina, traveled together in late September to a literary conference in Orangeburg, S.C.. The Portly One will tell of their trip in his own words.

“Jo and I belong to the William Gilmore Simms Literary Society. Simms was the most prominent author of the Old South prior to the Southern War for Independence. The Society meets every two years. Its purpose is to keep the memory of Simms alive.

“Since I drive slowly, I gave myself two days to drive to Lexington to pick up my cousin for the conference. I took I-85 to Newnan, Georgia; then, got on 16, stopping in Griffin, Georgia, for lunch at Anderson’s Café. I had eaten there before and ate there again on my way home. Anderson’s serves good, home cooking; and I highly recommend it.

“Towns I passed through were Senoia, Griffin, Jackson, Monticello, and Eatonton.

“Monticello has dogwood-lined streets, a grand courthouse, lovely homes, and a bank that looks like Thomas Jefferson’s house.

“Eatonton is the home of Joel Chandler Harris, who created Uncle Remus and Br’er Rabbit, and used to be the home of Don Lingle’s mother and brother.

“On the other side of Eatonton, I stopped for the night at the Lodge by Lake Oconee, where I had stayed before and where I would stay again on my way home.

“The Lake Oconee area is being developed handsomely.

“The next day was the first, full day of fall; and it felt like it with rain, overcast skies, and breezy, cold weather. For once autumn had come in exactly on time.

“It was a short drive to I-20, which took me to Augusta and then Lexington, four-laned all the way.

“On my way I passed turn-offs to sites that I had visited previously – Crawfordville, the home of A. H. Stephens, vice-president of the Confederate States of America; Harlem, the home town of Oliver Hardy of Laurel and Hardy fame; Washington, where Jefferson Davis’s cabinet disbanded at the end of the War (also, the home of Betty Greene’s daughter, Priscilla); and Grove Town, the final home of Paul Hamilton Hayne, Southern poet, reduced to poverty after the War.

“After I had arrived at my cousin’s, she served me a snack, white grapes, a toasted pimiento sandwich, and tea.

“Later we ate supper at IHOP and then visited the graves of two of our favorite cousins, Ruth (Wingard) Caughman and Betty Ann (Wingard) Hite, both buried in St. Stephens Lutheran Cemetery. Betty Ann and her husband ran Hite’s Restaurant in Lexington, well known in its day.

“Our waiter at IHOP was named ‘Howdy,’ which led to a conversation about Buffalo Bob Smith and the old Howdy Doody TV program.

“That night, for the first time, I opened the door to my hotel room with a plastic ‘key’ that only had to be ‘flashed’ in front of the lock. There was no insertion. Will wonders ever cease?

“The next day Jo and I ate lunch at the Flight Deck, a novelty restaurant, decorated with pictures of airplanes, large figures of Superman, King Kong, the Titanic, and large model airplanes, hanging from the ceiling. The eatery had been expanded since Jo and I had eaten there before.

“It took only an hour on I-26 to motor to Orangeburg. We had reserved rooms at the Holiday Express and Suites so as to be present to register early the following day.

“Having some time ‘to kill,’ we drove around Orangeburg, seeing what we could – Calhoun Technical College (where the Simms Society was to meet), Claflin University (founded in 1869), South Carolina State University (founded in 1896, next door to Claflin), Edisto Memorial Gardens, eateries, houses, and churches.

“Jo had researched Orangeburg and shared the following with me – it was named for William, Prince of Orange, and son-in-law of George II of England; it became a township in 1730; it was settled by an Indian trader and later by Germans, Swiss, and Dutch on the banks of the North Edisto River; it sent products to Charleston; it was on a road to Charleston by 1737; it is home to the S.C. Festival of Roses; it is home to the largest field trial for coon dogs in the country; it is home to Southern Methodist College; the Edisto runs through it, the longest black water river in the world.

“That night Jo and I ate at the Ruby Tuesday.

“The next morning we registered for the Simms conference in the Calhoun Technical College and met in a conference room with a small group of scholars from l0:00 – 4:00, hearing nine ‘papers’ (essays) on Simms read. We took lunch in the college cafeteria.

“By the way, one particularly interesting point about the cafeteria is that flags, representing each college in S.C., were displayed there.

“Alex Moore, who works for the University of South Carolina Press, had brought a collection of books about Simms to sell. I purchased Castle Dismal, or the Bachelor’s Christmas.

“After 4:00 p.m. Jo and I explored Orangeburg again. We stumbled upon the old First Presbyterian Cemetery where many Confederates lie buried. One grave was that of David F. Jamison, a founder of the Citadel in Charleston and president of the S.C. Secession Convention. He lived 1810 – 1864 and died in his hopes.

“The cemetery was filled with broken, fading gravestones, large magnolias, a willow oak, a red (?) oak, and tattered Confederate flags.

“We also happened upon the Pink Palace, an old jail, faded to pink, resembling a castle.

“That night we ate at the Cracker Barrel and remembered the many times we had eaten at a Cracker Barrel on bus tours with ‘Miss Betty’ Mitchell. After supper, Jo and I rocked on the front porch of the restaurant and listened to a mockingbird sing.

“Supper was courtesy of a friend in Montgomery, Charlie Casmus, who had given me for my birthday a gift card to eat at any Cracker Barrel.

“I shall stop at this point and save the last two days of the Simms conference for another time. They were spent at Woodlands, Simms’s nearby antebellum plantation.”

Thank you, Portly One.

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.

If you collect stamps, now is the time to save those connected to the Sesquicentennial of the War Between the States and the War of 1812.

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

Confederate John S. Mosby and his rangers derailed a passenger train and robbed Federal paymasters of nearly $173,000.

Confederate General Hood moved toward Gadsden, Alabama, trying to lure Sherman’s army from the Atlanta area.

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

Recent birthdays are those of Virgil, the Roman poet; Helen Hunt Jackson, an American author; and Noah Webster, the American maker of dictionaries (lexicographer).

October 15 was Poetry Day.

Helen Hunt Jackson is remembered for her poem, “October’s Bright, Blue Weather,” which begins “O suns and skies and clouds of June/ And flowers of June together/ Ye cannot rival for one hour/ October’s bright, blue weather.” The late Ellen Barrow taught me that, reciting it as we walked to the school cafeteria together one October day. I used to send her a copy of the poem each October as long as she lived.

“Miss Jackson” also wrote a novel about the mistreatment of the American Indian, called Romona, which was made into a movie with a title song, “Romona.” One day Carolyn Rankin, Annalee Simmons, and Ellen Barrow sang it to me in the teachers’ lounge during lunch. I was a young teacher then and had never heard of it.

I used “October’s Bright, Blue Weather” thereafter as a thought for the day for my students each October as long as I taught.

Virgil said, “Love conquers all.”

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.