Admiring the Thanksgiving decor at Covington Hall

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 15, 2014

Peeping through my Venetian blind, I saw Clay Clyde Clump over at Covington Hall, taking down the bunting and flags that decorated the great hall for Veterans’ Day and putting up decorations for Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 7, Sonny “Papa” Helms was treated by his family to a birthday buffet at Tabby D’s.

In Baraca Class during the assembly for Sunday School at First Baptist, Larry Shaw, the class president, sang a solo, “Let All Things Now Living” in preparation for the Thanksgiving season. He was accompanied by Martha (James) Givhan at the Ann Martin Memorial piano.

During morning worship at First Baptist, November 9, Dwight Crigger, minister of music, led the Adult Choir in a tribute to veterans of the armed forces. As the theme song for each branch of service was sung, veterans in that branch stood, receiving thunderous applause from the congregation. The branches honored were Army, Navy, Coast Guard, Air Force, and Marines.

Seen for supper at David’s were Wayne and Lenora Johnson, Trent Taylor, Ray Wilson, and John Fussell.

The Covington Rifles, Camp 1586, of the Sons of Confederate Veterans met November 6 in the Dixon Memorial of the Andalusia Public Library.

Commander Randy “R” Kelley presided.

“Hank” Roberts, chaplain, worded both invocation and benediction.

Jimmy Cobb led in the pledges to the flags of America, Alabama, and the Confederacy.

Kelley led in “Dixie.”

Guests were introduced, Larry Morgan, whose grandfather was a Confederate soldier, and Walt Wyatt.

James Worley, a new member, was installed, presented a certificate, and greeted by members.

The next meeting was announced for December 4, 6:30 p.m., in the Dixon Memorial.

A double program was presented.

The first, by Chaplain Roberts, demonstrated the effects of bullets fired from Confederate weapons.

The second, by Jimmy Mott, detailed the Mechanized Cavalry, a branch of the SCV. Members of this branch ride motorcycles, which Mott called “iron horses.” The “bikers” gather for special events and fellowship to protect Southern heritage.

Kelly Veasey shared plat books about Butler County, which can be used to trace one’s genealogy.

Ann McGowin sent a just-out-of-the-oven pound cake and some cookies for refreshments. Wanda Davis sent a freshly baked pumpkin cake.

Present were Derick Davis, Randy Kelley, Curtis Hampton Thomasson, Larry Morgan, Vaughn Bowers, Larry Shaw, Sir Francis McGowin, Jimmy Cobb, Henry Jordan, James Worley, Hank Roberts, Walt Wyatt, Jimmy Mott, Kelly Veasey, and Joe Wingard.

The Portly Gentleman said he had lunch at the Surly Mermaid on the Golden Square the other day and reported the food quite enjoyable. He ate a turkey Reuben and – for the first time ever – couscous, which he described as grated bread. It is actually a kind of pasta. He liked it.

Young Campbell Johnson turned six November l0 but began, as Campbell said, “the best birthday ever” with lunch Sunday, November 9, in the home of his father, Ken Johnson, and paternal grandparents, Wayne and Lenora Johnson.

Guests included Maria Thigpen, Sammy Tang, Kelly Davis, and Joe Wingard.

A delicious meal was followed by the singing of “Happy Birthday,” a wish, blowing out the candles, “spanking” (one spank for each year and “one to grow on”), and opening presents (tons of them!).

Grandmother Johnson had provided eye-of-round roast, potato casserole, honey biscuits, white peas, green salad, and ice-cream cake.

The dining table was festive with matching cloth, napkins, plates, and party hats.

Campbell said to all present, “I love you.”

Seen out and about were Mr. and Mrs. Tim Nall. Congratulations for their marriage.

Seen at the Samurai Restaurant for supper Saturday were Billie Jo Butler and her daughter, Rexanne. When asked where “the boys” were, Mrs. Butler smiled and said that her husband, Dr. Rex Butler, and their son, Allen, were at the Alabama football game in Baton Rouge. (We all remember that victory!)

Margaret (Williams) Smyly died November 2, the soul of kindness and the heart of thoughtfulness. I went to her funeral at Foreman’s November 7. I want to share some memories.

If you ever taught her two sons, Al and Carl, as I did, you could expect a box of her homemade cookies at Christmas time.

Margaret lost Al to a heart attack when he was 39. I remember Al in class, at my desk, his face all a-glow at a poem in our anthology. He had been moved by the line, “holding wonder like a cup.” Al’s face was “holding wonder like a cup,” after discovering the genius of this line. I shall never forget that look of realization, appreciation, wonder.

Both boys became attorneys in Birmingham. Both were Eagle Scouts. Both Carl’s sons are Eagle Scouts.

Margaret’s casket was closed. A “blanket” of beautiful flowers lay, like lace, across the top.

The day was all sunshine but chilly with cool breezes.

The Glory Singers opened the service with “It’s Not the First Mile.” They were led by Dwight Crigger, the minister of music at First Baptist, of which Margaret was a member, both the church and the choir for senior adults.

John Beasley, retired math instructor from the high school, played the piano.

Margaret’s pastor, Dr. Fred Karthaus, presided.

Her two granddaughters, Sara Marie Smyly and Marie Margaret Smyly, read scripture from the Bible.

Mr. Crigger led all in the hymn, “For the Beauty of the Earth.”

Margaret’s son Carl, the last of his immediate family, stood and delivered a moving eulogy for his mother.

Dr. Karthaus followed with his eulogy, scriptures, and prayer.

Mr. Beasley played “Amazing Grace” as those in the chapel disbursed.

Afterwards family and friends gathered at the grave where Dr. Karthaus led in scripture and prayer and led all in reciting Psalm 23.

Family and friends then assembled in Fellowship Hall of First Baptist for a buffet provided by the Glory Singers and the Mildred Hart Sunday School Class, all coordinated by Jerri Stroud.

Among those present was Bobbie McCommons, Margaret’s backyard neighbor, who has “adopted” Margaret’s little dog, Reecy. She would take Reecy to the nursing home to visit Margaret in Margaret’s final days.

Last week the Portly Gentleman wrote of homecoming weekend at Samford University October 31. Today the Portly One concludes his story with what happened Saturday, November 1.

“I drove over to the Homewood campus mid-morning for the installation of four new members into the Wall of Fame of Samford’s Journalism and Mass Communication Department, Jack Brymer, Carol Guthrie, Tony Hale, and Debbie McGrady.

“Each honoree was presented and then responded. All were present.

“Jack Brymer worked with Hudson Baggett at the Alabama Baptist. Hudson’s son, Mark, a friend of mine, introduced Brymer. Brymer told me that he goes to church with Kristen (Lingle) and knows her parents, Don and Dot Lingle. Don led the music at First Baptist, Andalusia, about 28 years.

“Tony Hale is an actor in the TV shows, Veep and Arrested Development.

“Among those I knew at the ceremony were Jack Brymer’s sister, Jane Sherer, who knows our Linda Mellown; Dr. Sigurd Bryan, retired professor of religion; Dr. Bryan’s wife, Sara, who grew up in Evergreen and babysat John Croft; Bill and Carol Nunnelley, journalists; and Dr. Harold Hunt, my ol’ speech professor.

“I wandered out on ‘the Quad,’ that central, rectangular park about which Samford’s main buildings stand. There I went from tent to tent, looking for lunch. Organizations sponsored tents and meals for visitors. I found the tent for the Howard College of Arts and Sciences and settled down for an hour of fellowship. Joining me were a former student and a graduate of Samford, Elliott Dansby, the son of our Neal and Jennifer (Smith) Dansby, and his wife, Jenny. I learned that Elliott’s sister, Judith Anne, has moved back to Birmingham and is teaching English at Woodlawn High School. I met some friends of Elliott and Jenny, Nate Troost and Emily Lavender. I also met Rosemary Fisk, professor of English in the Howard College. We talked of American literature, which she teaches, especially of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

“I told Elliott and Jenny about my days at Howard. When Sundays came, many of us without cars depended on buses sent over by Dawson Memorial Baptist Church to pick us up Sunday mornings and nights to transport us to that famous Baptist church where Edgar Arendall preached. The church would deliver us back to campus; then, return that evening to take us back to church. The evening trip also included a supper of sandwiches at Dawson. We benefited spiritually and physically. We sang Christian songs all the way to Dawson and all the way back. That’s when ‘Wherever He Leads, I’ll Go’ became my favorite song and when I learned many songs I know today.

“After lunch I drove to downtown Homewood to buy some pastries at Savage’s Bakery. My purchases included petit fours and chicken salad.”

That concludes notes by the Portly Gentleman.

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 buy those celebrating 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.

Northern General Sherman prepared for his infamous “March to the Sea” between Atlanta and Savannah, destroying along his route any property useful to the Confederacy.

Our local, distinguished historian, Sidney Waits, shed light on the mysterian, the “Bulldog” who lent his name – perhaps – to the football team of the Andalusia High School. Mr. Waits said that a local vet, Dr. Richard Kearley of South Three-Notch Street was nicknamed “Bull,” but he likely would not have named the team the “Bulldogs” because, being an Auburn fan, Dr. Kearley disliked the Georgia Bulldogs.

The new mysterian is the only person in Alabama who attended the ceremony in Richmond, Virginia, to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Jefferson Davis.

Recent birthdays are those of Martin Luther, the German Catholic who began the Lutheran movement in the Christian Church; Oliver Goldsmith, the Irish poet; J.C.F. Schiller, the German writer; Thomas Bailey Aldrich, an American writer; and Robert Louis Balfour Stevenson, a Scottish poet, short-story writer, novelist, and essayist.

I wouldn’t be here if it were not for Luther. How about you?

Goldsmith’s most famous poem is “The Deserted Village,” which begins, “Sweet Auburn! Loveliest village of the plain.” From that line we get the name of Auburn, its nickname, and a newspaper. There is a movement afoot to erect a statue of Goldsmith in Auburn with the lines from his poem on a pedestal. Some organization connected to our Auburn ought to place flowers annually on Goldsmith’s grave in London.

Schiller’s play, William Tell, was made into an opera with the famous Rossini overture.

Stevenson’s novel, Treasure Island, is one “every boy should read.” His poetry book for children, A Child’s Garden of Verses, may be the most famous of all books of poetry for children.

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.