The camellias are out over Covington Hall

Published 12:18 am Saturday, January 10, 2015

Peeping through my Venetian blind, I saw Miss Flora Covington, heading my way with a basket of camellias, picked from the camellia garden over at Covington Hall.

I invited her in to sit by a cozy fire as we caught up on some news.

I told her how surprised I was to have seen already henbit in bloom. It usually waits for the spring.

Don Parsons and I enjoyed a sidewalk conversation at the post office.

Seen for lunch at the Corner Market were Bill and Maria Thigpen, Wayne and Lenora Johnson, Joe and Sandra Davis, Danny and Barbara Posey, Ed and Gloria Short, James Bristow, and Jimmy Gillis.

Seen for supper at the Samurai were Billie Jo Butler and her daughter, Rexanne, an eighth-grader.

Bruce “Chuck” Bryant, youngest son of the late Mayor Chalmers and Mrs. Bryant, and his wife Jan paid a visit to Chuck’s ol’ teacher, S. Daniel Shehan, now a resident of Savannah, Georgia. Mr. Shehan took the couple on a personal tour of Savannah, pointing out historic sites. The three dined elegantly at lunch in the famous Pink House.

Seen for supper at the Dairy Queen the night of December 21 were Mary Wilson, her son Craig from Tennessee, and one of Mary’s grandsons, Clark, with his wife Kimberly and their two children, little Clark and Mary Catherine, named for her great-grandmother.

The grandson Clark is a son of Mary’s older son, Clark, Craig’s brother. That makes three generations of Clarks.

The families were visiting Mrs. Wilson for the Christmas season.

Sonia Crigger, pianist at First Baptist Church, East Three-Notch, accompanied herself at the Ann Martin memorial piano as she sang a special Christmas medley for the distinguished Baraca Class December 21 during the men’s Sunday-School assembly.

Seen at Tabby D’s for the Friday-night buffet December 19 were Esker and Ann Thomasson and their granddaughter Beth, Charles and Jullianne Ward from Dothan, Don and Laura McMullan from Dothan, Sonny and Sue Ann Helms, Joel and Patsy Moore of Opp, Clay and Heather Smith, and Haley and Belle Bass.

Lucy Martin was honored for her 90th birthday the afternoon of December 20 with a reception given by her daughter, Freida Armstrong, and her son, Kevin Price.

Mrs. Martin’s actual birthday followed on Christmas Eve.

Family and friends gathered in the fellowship hall of the First Baptist Church Youth Building to congratulate Mrs. Martin and to enjoy a brief program, Christmas decorations, and refreshments.

The honoree’s sister, Peggy Shirley, delivered a tribute to Mrs. Martin, followed by “Happy Birthday,” sung by attendees.

Mrs. Martin looked lovely in black and purple.

A friend, Mary Avery, took candid photos.

Linda Truman catered the affair, serving sausage balls, cracker mix, birthday cake, and punch. Mrs. Shirley added cheese straws.

The entrance was decorated with a picture of Mrs. Martin, set amid Christmas greenery and poinsettias with a separate area of more greenery and poinsettias about a school desk with books. Mrs. Martin was once a schoolteacher.

In the fellowship hall, round tables were covered with white cloths, red overlays, and centerpieces of potted poinsettias, set in beds of Christmas greenery and bows.

Other areas included a registration table, buffet, and punch table.

Pictures of children taught by Mrs. Martin were available for viewing.

St. Mary’s Episcopal Church hosted its annual Epiphany tea and evensong service Sunday afternoon January 4 in its lovely library and sanctuary.

Guests enjoyed afternoon tea in the church’s library, which had once been the sanctuary of the old church building a few blocks away and which had been moved to become part of the new St. Mary’s on East Three-Notch Street.

Centering the library was a buffet table, covered with Sister Barnes’s Battenburg lace cloth. A potted poinsettia centered the table. An assortment of finger foods, placed in silver and crystal appointments, tempted those present. Various types of chicken-salad sandwiches, trimmed of their crusts, were popular.

The tea was organized by Pam Rabren.

Debbie (Boswell) Grimes poured hot tea into china cups.

Following the tea, 3 – 4 p.m., a lovely, vesperial evensong service, 4 – 5 p.m., emphasized the visit of the three kings to the Christ Child.

Officiating was Dr. Cynthia Carter Howard, the priest at St. Mary’s, whose clear, clarion voice rang like an angel’s during the service.

Organist was Dr. Steve Hubbard, who plays regularly for First Presbyterian Church and teaches English at the local community college.

Readers were Mike Purnell, Jan Morris, and George Proctor.

Torch bearers were Ashlyn Nall and Brenna Wells.

The crucifer was Shemar Luckie.

I wanted to be early for the funeral of Jeanice (Paul) Kirkland January 5 at First Baptist Church. I knew every seat would be taken, and it was.

Arriving early, I came upon Dwight Crigger, current minister of music at First Baptist, and Don and Dot Lingle, who had driven down from the Birmingham area that morning with John Foster, former pastor of First Baptist here, for almost 20 years. Don served as minister of music at First Baptist for 28 years, so he and John are former co-workers and friends.

They were discussing Jeanice.

Dwight said that Jeanice supported him to be the new minister of music when Don retired and that he, Dwight, owed his job to her.

Don said that Jeanice had recently recommended him for interim minister of music at First Baptist, Gadsden, where Jeanice and Jimmy were planning to move their church membership. Don had been hired.

(Due to health concerns Jeanice and Jimmy were in the process of moving from Andalusia to Gadsden in order to live next door to their daughter, Kim Back. They had been attending First Baptist of Gadsden during their transition.)

When the organist at First Baptist, Gadsden, unexpectedly died, Don suggested that Jeanice become organist at First Baptist, Gadsden; thus, the two, who had worked together here at First Baptist in Andalusia, once again teamed up briefly – at First Baptist — minister of music and organist.

Finding my seat, I listened as Martha Givhan, the current organist at First Baptist, Andalusia, played preludes. At times she would be joined by Erica Ziglar, a college student, on the trumpet.

Only God knows how Martha managed to play with composure. She and Jeanice were dearest of friends.

The casket was rolled to the altar. It was shut, having been opened only to the family. It was covered with camellias, which only recently have come into bloom. A skirt of red roses surrounded the coffin, supporting the top blanket of camellias.

Floral tributes flanked the casket.

The morning was clear and cold.

Jeanice’s pastor at First Baptist, Andalusia, Dr. Fred Karthaus, opened the service at 11:00 a.m. with prayer.

Having read her obituary and some scripture, Dr. Karthaus shared his memories of Jeanice, calling her “an icon of Andalusia,” who “brought people together,” an “encourager” who “always thought of others.”

Karthaus elaborated on her beauty, strength, and dignity, and recounted with humor that Jeanice was always referred to with “There’s Judge Paul’s daughter.”

He ended with another prayer.

Mr. Crigger then led the congregation in singing all four verses of “Holy, Holy, Holy.”

Jeanice’s granddaughter, Kirkland Back, read the obituary she had written herself about her grandmother. (This beautiful tribute was published in the local newspaper.)

Jeanice’s son-in-law, Kent Back, beautifully sang “My Tribute” by Crouch, accompanied at the piano by Judd Wiggins, a good friend of the Kirklands and a classmate of Jimmy and Jeanice’s late daughter, Susan.

This song was known locally as Jeanice’s song because she had sung it as a solo so often, and it was associated with Jeanice.

Kent has a beautiful voice, and both he and Judd did very well.

John N. Foster, Jeanice’s pastor and pastor of First Baptist, Andalusia, just shy of 20 years, delivered his eulogy, saying, “It’s not over.” He emphasized eternal life, faith, and heaven.

Calling Jeanice “gracious,” he spoke of Christian hope and assurance.

At the end of his eulogy, unexpectedly, Foster’s cell ‘phone rang in his coat pocket. By then much humor had been interjected into his words, and the congregation was not taken back by the sudden sound. It seemed almost planned. Foster turned off the ‘phone and treated the interruption lightly. Suddenly from the pew, Jimmy called out that the call was from Jeanice, which observation seemed almost realistic. A gentle wave of laughter followed.

Following prayer by Foster, Martha Givhan played “A Mighty Fortress” on the organ, full force. All stood as the casket was rolled out, followed by family.

The mighty hymn filled the sanctuary and grandly ended the funeral.

Many drove to Andalusia Memorial Cemetery for the burial. Brother Foster shared some last words, followed by a prayer by Dr. Karthaus.

Although the sun was shining, a cold breeze reminded those attending that it was “in the bleak midwinter.”

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 commemorating 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 December and January 150 years ago.

Federal forces occupied Savannah. Northern General Sherman sent President Lincoln a message, “I beg to present you, as a Christmas gift, the city of Savannah.”

Southern General Hood led his Army of Tennessee in retreat over the Tennessee River to Tupelo, Mississippi.

The North failed to take Confederate Fort Fisher, irritating both Lincoln and General Grant. (Fisher was a Confederate fortress at Wilmington, North Carolina.)

A proposed Constitutional amendment to abolish slavery failed to pass the House of Representatives in Washington.

General Sherman was accused of alleged mistreatment of black freedmen.

The Worms and the Roaches – who are these mysterians?

Recent birthdays are those of Woodrow Wilson, president of these United States; Rudyard Kipling, English poet, novelist, short-story writer, author of “If”; Betsy Ross, who sewed the national flag; William Lyon Phelps, Yale teacher/author; Cicero, Roman statesman/writer; and Jacob Grimm, German writer of fairy tales, along with his brother, Wilhelm.

Also, Washington crossed the Delaware Christmas Day in 1776, and “Little Christmas” or Twelfth Night came January 6.

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.