Have you tried Grundy’s Soup on the Square?

Published 2:34 am Saturday, February 6, 2016

Peeping through my Venetian blind Groundhog Day, February 2, I wondered at the weather, sometimes sunny, sometimes overcast, and whether the groundhog saw his shadow or not. I would predict that if he did, then he would have been frightened back into his hole and we would have six more weeks of cold weather.

The Surly Mermaid on the Golden Square tried serving up a new soup Groundhog Day. Since it was based on a recipe I had created and shared with the cook, Steve, the staff called it “Grundy’s Soup” and compared its taste to that of a cheeseburger.

Seen out and about were John and Shelley Tomberlin, Phil Rogers, Chuck Simon, John Scherf, Jerry Andrews, Herb Carlisle, Ab Powell, Cindy Cook, Sally Hall, Fred Karthaus, Mr. and Mrs. Keith Pittman (at McLain’s in DeFuniak Springs), Brent Martin, Melanie Dreading, and Voncile McLeod, who was Pennye Anderson’s college roommate.

Dr. Rex Butler and his son, Allen, drove up to Birmingham January 8 to spend the night for a 5 a.m. presentation to Shuttlesworth International Airport in Birmingham for a chartered flight with other Alabama fans to Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix, Arizona.

Once back on the ground, the group rode chartered buses to the Embassy Hotel.

For two days they had appointments to enjoy the food and flavor of the great Southwest in the Valley of the Sun.

The Alabama group rode chartered buses to the site of the National Championship Football Game in Glendale, Arizona, where they experienced a pre-game, tailgate party at the Renaissance Hotel. Then they attended an “epic” game, which the Crimson Tide won 45 – 40 over Clemson.

The Alabama group returned by chartered jet to Birmingham on January 12.

Joey Collwell, Landon Collwell, and Allen Butler, accompanied by Allen’s father, Dr. Rex Butler, drove to Tuscaloosa January 23 to attend the National Championship celebration for the University of Alabama’s football team.

Following the celebration, they attended the Alabama – L.S.U. basketball game at the Coleman Coliseum.

The last weekend in January the Portly Gentleman attended the annual Chautauqua in DeFuniak Springs, Florida.

He stayed at the Best Western Crossroads Inn because a set breakfast is included, with a waitress, cloth on the table, and cloth napkins.

The Chautauqua began in New York state at Lake Chautauqua. It was a summer workshop for Sunday-School teachers.

It grew into a cultural program with famous speakers, workshops, and music during the summer months.

DeFuniak was chosen later as a branch of the Chautauqua for more programs and because of its mild weather in the winter months.

The Chautauqua died out in DeFuniak, but is being revived for one weekend in winter.

The Portly Gentleman can tell you, gentle reader, about his weekend there.

“Driving down to DeFuniak, I noted my journey was a ‘colorful’ one – Red Oak Baptist, Blue Lake turn-off, Yellow River.

“In Lockhart I crossed the new bridge for the first time.

“It took only an hour to drive from ‘the Dimple of Dixie’ to DeFuniak. Once there I circled Circle Drive, which circles Lake DeFuniak, one of the few, perfectly round lakes in the world. I noted the beautiful houses that stand along Circle Drive and the other structures – the depot/museum, First Presbyterian, St. Agatha’s Episcopal Church, First Methodist, the great, domed, be-columned Hall of Brotherhood, built for the winter Chautauqua, the oldest library in Florida, the eighth largest magnolia in Florida, the home of Pansy, a children’s author, next to the home of Wallace Bruce, one-time head of the Florida Chautauqua, an amphitheatre, the old hospital (now the headquarters of the modern Chautauqua), Octagon House (eight-sided), and a welcome center.

Between these structures and the lake is a circular park known as the Lake Yard, dotted with trees, camellias, flowers, bushes, memorials, play areas for children, benches, and a paved walk.

“I registered at the old hospital, bought last year to serve as headquarters for the Chautauqua. There I ran into Marie Hinson, who lives in DeFuniak with her husband Charles. Marie was the soul of hospitality to me my three days in DeFuniak. She told me that her husband has written over 200 songs and painted many paintings. Charles was the choral director once upon a time at the Andalusia High School. The Hinsons live in a handsome, brick house across the street from the First Baptist Church.

“I went to Bogey’s for lunch. Named after the actor, Humphrey Bogart, this modern restaurant has been re-located to the former site of Murray’s. Previously, Bogey’s was housed next to the Hotel DeFuniak, which, sadly, has closed.

“A branch of Murray’s opened briefly in Andalusia. Now both locations are closed.

“Bogey’s re-opened May 11 with an outside balcony and sidewalk, eating area.

“Bogey’s is decorated in black and white with an emphasis on movies. For example, pictures of movie stars hang on the walls.

“The food is excellent. It’s well worth the drive to eat at Bogey’s for a special occasion, such as Valentine’s Day or an anniversary.

“That night was windy and cold, so I stayed close to my motel room and ate in the motel dining room, trying the stuffed flounder.

“The next morning I was first in line at the Walton High School to hear Jerry Mathers speak to the student body and us old Chautauquans. Jerry played Theodore ‘Beaver’ Cleaver in the TV show, Leave It to Beaver. ‘The Beave’ spoke an hour about his life and then took questions. I asked him what became of his schoolmates, such as Judy and Larry. He said that Larry’s family moved to the East Coast, so he had to be written out of the script.

“’Beaver’ told much. He saved his money, invested it, and became a banker. Barbara Billingsly, June, was a New York model. Hugh Beaumont, Ward, was a Methodist preacher. Tony Dow, Wally, became an artist and was very athletic. Ken Osmond, Eddie Haskell, became a police officer and was shot three times, but lived because of a bullet-proof vest. Beaver has three children and a granddaughter. He brought his current wife, Teresa. They were enjoying their fifth wedding anniversary.

“Jerry is short and trim with thinning grey hair. He was dressed in a grey suit and had pale green eyes. He looked just the way one would picture Beaver, all grown up. He is about 68 years of age.

“Jerry was serious, dignified, cooperative, taking pictures with his fans, signing autographs, all with infinite patience, kind, polite, quiet, soft-spoken, not showy at all.

“I felt as if I were visiting with a childhood friend because I grew up with Beaver through TV.

“Later in the day Jerry planted a red maple in the Lake Yard. A granite marker was placed to recall the occasion. I was invited to have my picture taken with him and to shake his hand. I teasingly called him ‘Theodore’ and said that Ward and June would be proud of him. He teased me back by calling me ‘Eddie Haskell.’ As I walked away, I quite sincerely said, ‘God bless you’ and I meant it with all my heart. Good, ol’ Beave.”

We’ll save the rest of the Chautauqua trip for next time, Lord willing.

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 1582, Andalusia, Alabama 36420.

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

Recent birthdays are those of Victor Herbert, an American composer, especially of operettas such as Toyland; Sidney Lanier, an American poet, born in Macon, Georgia (the most handsome town I have seen); Felix Mendelssohn, a German composer, who wrote the “Wedding March”; Abram Joseph Ryan, an American poet of the Confederacy; and Christopher Marlowe, an English writer of plays, best known for The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus, which includes the famous lines by Faust when he first sees Helen of Troy, “Was this the face that launched a thousand ships and burnt the topless towers of Ilium (Troy)? Sweet Helen, make me immortal with a kiss.”

Victor Herbert wrote perhaps the most gorgeous song ever written – “Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life.”

Lanier High School in Montgomery was named for Sidney Lanier, the poet. Lanier lived in Montgomery for a time and taught school in the Prattville area.

February 4, 1861, the Confederate States of America was born in the Capitol in Montgomery, Alabama.

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.