Spring is nearly here: There are blooms around

Published 12:07 am Saturday, March 14, 2015

Peeping through my Venetian blind at the beautiful world beyond, I thought of Browning’s poem, “Pippa Passes,” and its line, “The year’s at the spring.”

Signs of spring are bursting into bloom all over – redbud, winter jasmine, purity, daffodils, Japanese magnolia, South Carolina yellow jasmine, azaleas, camellias, baby’s breath spirea, winter huckleberry, patches of purple henbit, red clover.

Spring arrives officially March 20.

St. Patrick’s Day arrives March 17. Wear some green on that day or prepare to be pinched. That’s the custom.

Found upon my desk at the newspaper office on Dunson Street when I went to work this week was a bouquet of pink and lavender blooms – roses, daisy mums, lilies of Peru – a thank you from the Merrill family, mentioned in last week’s column. The real credit for the inclusion goes to Sue (Bass) Wilson, who provided the material.

Thank you, Merrills, for including me in such a beautiful way.

Dr. and Mrs. Wayne Johnson have returned from Birmingham, where they attended his 55th anniversary of graduation from medical school.

Dr. Johnson is also author of several books of genealogy.

Seen at Larry’s for supper were Mr. and Mrs. Mac Pace, his mother, Ken and Jane Sport of Opp and their daughter, Kendall, and Mark and Cynthia Gunter.

On a given day half of Andalusia is at the doctor’s office or at the drugstore.

The price of gasoline has started edging back up. The falling prices were nice while they lasted, but ol’ Greed and Glutt are at it again.

While out and about, I passed some pleasant words with Henry Wiggins, the retired barber, a pleasant fellow.

Jo Florence and I enjoyed a sidewalk conversation this past week. Jo is a devoted attendant to Mrs. Green, the matriarch of that hard-working family.

Seen at Randy’s Barber Shop was Aaron Grace.

Seen at the Huddle House were Bill Law, Greg White, and Bobby and Faye Craig.

The retired teachers of Covington County, those who belonged and still belong to the Alabama Education Association, met March 4 at W. S. Harlan School (K – 6).

Peggy Mobley, Covington County president of the Alabama Education Retirees Association, presided.

The staff of the school generously provided an abundant buffet for the retirees.

Some retirees had trouble driving to the school because of the new bridge being constructed at Lockhart.

Today in Newton, Alabama, the Battle of Newton will be re-enacted downtown in Heroes Park at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.. This will be among the closing commemorations of the Sesquicentennial of the War Between the States.

Some 150 years ago a small band of townsmen and Home Guard fended off an attack by Capt. Joseph Sanders’s band of deserters and outlaws.

It is traditional among those with ties to Scotland to honor its greatest poet, Robert Burns, on or near January 25, his birth date.

Here in the “Dimple of Dixie” a formal celebration of that birth and life was attended in the home of Sir Francis and Lady Ann McGowin. Their guests were Larry Shaw and his son Josh, Bryan and Jamie Pope of Huntsville, and David and Bobbie Bayne of Mobile.

Songs and poetry by Burns were sung and recited.

Shaw, known for his phenomenal memory and love of recitation, delivered “Ode to the Haggis.”

The haggis is to the Scottish meal upon this occasion what the turkey is to the American meal at Thanksgiving.

Various toasts were made, including those to Burns, guests, and the Queen and President (“The Loyalty Toast”).

Some six courses featured traditional Scottish fare – haggis, roast, tatties, nips, Scotch eggs, scones, tea, coffee, and other good, liquid refreshment.

Sir Francis, one of the most colorful personalities ever to reside in Covington County, presided over the gathering for an evening of good food, good drink, good company, and good poetry and song.

Seen at the Huddle House for supper was Genny Spurlin Lee with her two children, Thomas, 6, and Amelia Grace, 4. named for Genny’s mother, Amy (Russell) Spurlin. Thomas was dressed like Captain Hook (from dress-up day at school), and Amelia, like a princess. It was the children’s first visit to the Huddle House. Soon, in came their grandmother, Amy Spurlin and a host of others.

In came Steve and Jeanne Bozeman.

In came Peggy Watson and her granddaughter, Olivia Butler.

In came Marianne Kilpatrick and her sons, Corey and Adam.

In came their friend, Pat Woodham, and her son Brady.

In came Chad Morris and his mother, Amy Morris, and Chad’s own stepson, Nate Mack.

In came Melanie (McVay) and her husband, David Dreading.

Lastly, in came the Portly Gentleman, who spoke to all those above and took down their names for me in the style of Dickens.

Gentle reader, be aware that a new poet laureate of our nation has been selected by the Library of Congress. He is Charles Wright, 78, born in Tennessee in 1935, a retired professor from the University of Virginia.

A poet laureate is the official poet of the nation.

Teachers belonging to AEA in the counties of Conecuh, Covington, and Escambia (all known as District 24) met March 6 in the Conecuh County Bus Shop (converted into a banquet hall) in Evergreen for their annual banquet to honor representatives of AEA groups in the aforementioned counties.

Keynote speaker was Peggy Mobley, retired teacher and former president and vice-president of AEA, holding each office twice, one of the most important persons in AEA history by way of her faithfulness and involvement.

The hall was decorated with red table coverings and red/white napkins, featuring centerpieces of #1 hand gloves, tying in with the theme, “We’re still the one.”

The dinner, catered by Hall’s Barbecue of Castleberry, Alabama, included pulled pork, grilled chicken, mac and cheese, green beans, garden salads, yeast rolls, peach cobber with ice cream, and tea.

It is said that District 24 is the only AEA district in the state that still sponsors annual banquets, a point of pride with those in the district.

Jan Locke, formerly employed at Straughn, is the District 24 director, serving in her first year.

Holley Tullis welcomed guests. Willie Willis, minister, worded the invocation.

Teresa Hultz, president of the district, introduced Mrs. Mobley.

At the end, door prizes were awarded for fun.

District 24 officers are Teresa Hultz, president; Marcia Adams, vice-president; Charlotte Ewing, secretary; and Dianne McKenzie, treasurer.

The entertainment was a bluegrass band called HomeWORD Connection. Its four members were Gene Griggs, banjo; Bobby Jackson, guitar; his wife Cynthia Jackson, bass; and Glen Thornton, mandolin and fiddle. They did excellently well.

Attending from Covington were Jimmy Ponds and Joe Wingard.

The Covington Rifles (Camp 1586) of the Sons of Confederate Veterans met March 5 in the Dixon Memorial of the Andalusia Public Library.

Randy “R” Kelley, commander, presided.

“Hank” Roberts, chaplain, worded both invocation and benediction, including in his prayers special requests for Curtis Thomasson and his wife Margie, who has undergone surgery of late. Curtis is a past commander of the camp.

Jimmy Cobb led the pledges to the flags.

All stood to sing “Dixie.”

Refreshments were enjoyed. Hot coffee was provided on the bitterly cold night. A pound cake, hot from the oven of Ann McGowin, was devoured. A tasty oatmeal cake, topped with nuts and cocoanut, was sent by Wanda Davis, along with hot Ro-tel dip with scrambled hamburger added, and chips.

Derick Davis organized the meeting room, coffee, and refreshments, settling up and cleaning up, the hardest-working member of the camp.

Posters, featuring the end of the commemoration of the Sesquicentennial of the War Between the States, were brought from Enterprise by Brian Fleming and Mack Lott for distribution to the public. These posters are provided by the Alabama Division of the SCV. They featured Confederate men and flags.

“R” reported that he and Derick attended the state-wide SCV meeting in Montgomery recently.

Fleming advertised the Battle of Newton, mentioned above in this column.

He distributed flyers.

John Allen Gantt presented a book review that shared facts about “Stonewall” Jackson and other persons in the War, tracing what became of them.

A robust question-and-answer period followed.

Sir Francis mentioned a Brian Peterson of Cecil, Alabama, who, I think, won the amateur pointing-dog championship. Check this out on your computer.

Attending were Derick Davis, Joe Wingard, Larry Shaw, Sir Francis McGowin, Vaughn Bowers, Jimmy Cobb, Randy Kelley, Mack Lott, Brian Fleming, John Allen Gantt, and “Hank” Roberts.

If you collect stamps, now is the time to buy stamps commemorating the Sesquicentennial of the War Between the States and the War of 1812.

The Sesquicentennial ends in a couple of months.

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.

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

President Jefferson Davis signed into law a bill to arm slaves for use in the Southern armies. Those participating could expect to be liberated.

Battles were fought, involving Southern leaders, Gen. Braxton Bragg, Gen. Wade Hampton, and Gen. Joseph Wheeler and Northern leaders, Gen. Jacob Cox, General Sherman, General Sheridan, Gen. Judson Kilpatrick, and General Schofield.

The new mysterian is a lady who taught science at the Andalusia High School. She liked to say, “The older the bird; the brighter the plumage.”

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.