Let me tell you about Ms. Stroud’s party

Published 1:39 am Saturday, January 23, 2016

Peeping through my Venetian blind, I saw Mrs. Gotrocks of Greenville pull up in front of my cottage. I greeted her at the door and invited her in for some hot tea and finger sandwiches.

“Let me tell you about Jerri Stroud’s 80th birthday celebration,” I volunteered.

“Is that the retired teacher?” asked Mrs. Gotrocks.

“Yes,” I affirmed.

Jerri Stroud was honored by her two sons and their families Sunday afternoon, December 20, with a reception at the beautiful Springdale estate in Andalusia.

(Mrs. Stroud’s actual birthday is December 5.)

Her sons, their wives, and all her grandchildren were present – DeJuan, her elder son, and his wife Debra; their four children, Rob and his wife Nakisa with their child, Oliver; Molly and her husband, Burke Fathy; Emily and her husband, Eric Goodnight; and George; Chris, Mrs. Stroud’s younger son, and his wife Donna, and their three children, Logan and his fiancee, Kelsey, and Brad, and Thomas.

DeJuan and Chris sponsored the celebration and served as hosts.

DeJuan of New York City is a special-events planner and floral designer.

Chris of Greenville, South Carolina, is part of an engineering firm.

The house at Springdale was decorated throughout with flowers, especially roses, many of the flowers imported from New York City and even foreign countries. Eight rooms, representing the eight decades in the honoree’s life, featured different flavors of cake, which matched the floral colors in the room.

Mrs. Stroud, adorned in a berry-pink dress, pinned with a brooch, and wearing pearl-drop earrings and silver shoes, received her guests for two hours.

Only the queen of England could rival the elegance, charm, dignity, and beauty of the honoree that day.

Professional group photographs and candid “shots” were taken during the afternoon as attendees moved room to room, admiring the cakes, decorations, and furnishings.

Round tables, covered with white cloths, and set with centerpieces and banquet chairs, offered a moment of rest and a place to eat a slice of cake.

In the background a stringed trio from Pensacola, two violins and a cello, played classical music.

At one point during the afternoon a hush fell over the crowd as Mrs. Stroud was paid a formal tribute by her two sons and Mayor Earl Johnson, who read a proclamation, honoring her.

A red-velvet birthday cake with eight tapers was presented to the lady of the hour as all sang “Happy Birthday.”

The food and service were provided by King’s Table Catering out of Montgomery. Gentle reader, I shall now attempt to describe some rooms in the house.

In a hall were two, large, inset windows with red roses in each. There were roses, roses everywhere!!

The registry was accented with a bouquet, matching the bouquet in the dining room.

The sunroom offered three coconut cakes on crystal, pedestal stands and a dish of white rock candy. The refreshments sat upon a table covered in white cloth and overlay. There were tables and banquet chairs for resting while one ate. Most rooms provided such tables and chairs, covered in white cloths with cloth napkins and silver.

The living room featured a table covered in red velvet with two red-velvet cakes, resting on elevated stands, skirted with red roses. Vases of white tulips and silver plates backed the cakes. In the inset shelves in the room were pictures of the Stroud family and a variety of small floral arrangements. The mantel was flanked by matching arrangements of flowers interspersed with old-fashioned smilax.

The courtyard with its fountain boasted a table covered in orange cloth, which matched oranges in a large pedestal bowl. There were “stations” in the courtyard where one could get water, coffee, tea, and apple cider. The coffee was served in china; the cider, in glass mugs. Three sweet-potato cakes tempted guests. Decorating the room were clusters of grapes, a terrarium, cheese straws, nuts, and roses everywhere!

A lower-floor bedroom was highlighted with the color of bronze in the tablecloth, wooden stands for the four caramel cakes, vases with roses, roses in the windows, and bronze pedestal bowls.

The breakfast room featured three chocolate-peanut-butter cakes on a serving table covered with a custom-made overlay sewn with delicate pink and white rosettes. Pink and white roses provided a background.

The kitchen serving table was set with two pound cakes with a choice of either strawberry or raspberry topping. The table was decorated with a line of bubble-stemmed vases with purple orchids interspersed with maiden-hair fern.

Another table was abundantly laden with vegetables – red peppers, green peppers, yellow peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, and broccoli. In addition were varieties of cheeses and crackers in a biscuit jar.

In the center of the dining room was a large table, covered with a custom-made cloth ordered by DeJuan especially for the birthday celebration. Six cakes – three German chocolate and three carrot – were displayed. A large, central, pedestal urn, filled to overflowing with a variety of flowers – roses, amaryllis, tulips, berries, peonies, ranunculus – caught the eye. Flowers and fruit graced the mantel. All blended to match the colors in the room.

The cornucopia of beauty and love made Mrs. Stroud’s 80th birthday celebration one of the grandest events in the history of Old Andalusia.

Seen this past week were Sarah Clark, Marcia Reichert, Horace Worley, Earlie Ellis, Harold and Kathy Rouse, Gene Stallings (the country-music composer), Wayne and Lenora Johnson, Lloyd Phillips, Gates Snowden Scott Tillman (whose name is bigger than he is), Jeanette Grant, J. C. Dean, Donna Neal and her son Johnathon, his baby, Mary Michael, and Donna’s husband, Michael Neal, Gordon Vickers, Dr. Rex Butler, Richard Pass, Janette Carroll, Esther Barrow, Charlie Cope, Dan and Virginia Frasher, Bill Smith (son of York and June), John Powers, Mrs. Tiller (mother of Norman), and Mike Jones (the reading teacher).

Seen at Jerri Stroud’s 80th celebration was Rasmus Wegener, a foreign-exchange student from Germany who lived with Jerri and her husband Gene in 1986 and 1987 as he studied at the Andalusia High School. He now has a wife and two children and lives north of Atlanta.

Once 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 l582, Andalusia, Alabama 36420.

The mysterian is the member of the AHS Class of 1926, still living.

Recent birthdays are those of Ben Franklin, “the Grandfather” of America; Robert E. Lee, the most respected Confederate general; Edgar Allan Poe, American writer of poetry and short stories; “Stonewall” Jackson, Lee’s prize Confederate general; Lord Byron, English poet; Francis Bacon, English essayist; and John Hancock, American who signed his name to the “Declaration of Independence” so largely that the King of England could read it without glasses.

January 20 was St. Agnes’s Eve. Girls, check that on your computer. It might affect you.

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.