Hattie Butner Stagecoach Is Impressive

Published 9:56 am Thursday, May 11, 2017

I had seen it many times without actually looking at the graceful stagecoach inside the Village of Clemmons town hall. With the help of a few historians on Saturday morning, I got to know the elegant Hattie Butner, the well-restored coach that once prowled dirt roads from Clemmons to High Point and Raleigh, to Asheville and Wytheville, Va., carrying mail and passengers.

The mud and dust that coach must have once stirred.

Nine passengers could crowd inside with maybe two more joining the driver on top. The coach was operated by Edwin T. Clemmons, great-grandson of the village founder Peter Clemmons, in the late 19th century before trains made it obsolete.

I replayed scenes in my mind from the classic movie “Stagecoach” with John Wayne firing his rifle at pursuing Indians on a very similar vehicle.

The coach is suspended on strong leather straps so the passengers didn’t feel every jolt and bump. The historians demonstrated the coach’s clever craftsmanship and where the driver shielded the money bag.

They are giving another presentation on the stagecoach this Saturday from 8:30 a.m. until noon at the Clemmons village hall. For those of us who love Westerns and cowboys, the stagecoach offers a chance to revisit those days.

• • • • •

Old friend George Stansbury died a couple weeks ago. He was among the few veterans of the Korean War that I have known well. The Forgotten War, it’s called.

George had managed to suppress all those memories, too, until the 9/11 attacks in 2001 brought them to the surface. He had carried a 20-pound automatic rifle in the war. He weighed a mere 130 pounds.

The war lasted three years, 1950-53. There were 33,664 American deaths and over 100,000 wounded.

It was a much smaller operation than World War II, but the battles were just as violent for the men involved, and the Americans at one point faced a human wave of Chinese soldiers bearing down on them. The late Max Roland of Clemmons received a Silver Star for his heroism as a medic at the Battle of Chosin Reservoir. His 7th Marines Division had only 385 survivors of 3,200 fighters who retreated in temperatures so cold, minus 30, that their weapons at times wouldn’t fire.

We’re still having problems on the Korean peninsula that weren’t resolved 65 years ago. George might have had something to say about that.

• • • • •

The show is almost over in the iris beds at home. Only a few buds have yet to reveal themselves. For the past month I have searched for new flowers every morning on my way to pick up the newspaper from the driveway.

It has been a very good spring for irises. My beds don’t get enough sunlight, but the displays were impressive.

A root I received as a gift several years ago from a Georgia lady who married a Sheffield fellow flowered with a deep violet color, almost black. She had brought her irises with her when she left Georgia.

The Beverly Sills pink irises have multiplied. A few other roots purchased from catalogs were just as pretty as the pictures. And some others … didn’t flower.

Now begins the wait until next year’s display.

• • • • •

Back to North Korea … Why would any American in his right mind visit there? Yet, they have. Some go for business despite the risks. And then there is Otto F. Warmbier, 21, a student at the University of Virginia who lifted a propaganda poster as a souvenir. He’s now in prison and a pawn in the trouble between North Korea and the United States.

What was he thinking?

— Dwight Sparks