The Literary Corner: Renegade Writers Guild

Published 10:17 am Thursday, July 13, 2017

“By the Waterside”

By Kevin F. Wishon

Recently, several old photos fell to the floor while I was reaching for something else in my bedroom closet. Why these pictures were loose and not with the rest of the collection, I am uncertain. As I picked each one off the floor and stacked them according to time and location, a particular set of photos got my attention.

The decades-old photos were pictures of a stream near my parent’s home. On the surface, there was nothing significant about these pictures. They were taken during the winter time and did not reveal how beautiful these places could be in the summertime. Honestly, they were not appealing pictures, and most people would have discarded them. So, why had I taken these photos?

Then it occurred to me. These pictures were places where I once played as a child. I had spent untold hours exploring this portion of the stream. Each photo gave rise to a new memory as I flipped from one to the next. However, one was a picture of a rock by a stream which gave me pause.

Now, as an adult, the rock seems so small to me, but in my youth, it was large enough to allow me to lie on it without getting wet. The rock extends out of the bank, sloping down into the waterway. Overhead, low hanging branches shrouds the area making it a relaxing haven.

This place was where I sought refuge from stress, trouble, and heat. Here, I often received solace for my youthful frustrations. By the waterside, I forgot all my troubles and experienced consolation in the refreshing, tranquil atmosphere of this location. Whether it was the sound of the water, the cold surface of the rock, or the private nature of the place, all of it remains special to me.

Of course, I thankfully recognize the spiritual significance of this place and remain grateful for the memories. Additionally, I can see how we all, even as adults, need a place to escape the stresses of life if only for a few minutes. It would be wonderful if we all had a rock by the waterside, but sometimes it’s just a few tears shed in our closet, as we get dressed. Nevertheless, wherever you may find comfort, cherish these places. While they may seem insignificant on the surface, this is where we cast off our burdens and find relief.

“World War One”

By Marie Craig

For over a year, I researched Davie County’s role in World War One. This involved copies of honorable discharges, interviews with about a hundred people, many trips to cemeteries to take photos of tombstones, buying fifty rolls of microfilm from the North Carolina Archives and reading thousands of filmed cards, reading the 1930 US Census for Davie County to find those who had served, reading Draft Registrations on, reading local newspapers of 1917 and 1918, researching cemetery books, and collecting and editing old photos that were about 100 years old.

The question I asked all relatives I interviewed was: “Did your relative talk about his war experiences?”  In almost every case, I was told no.  However, I was told some incredible stories.  I discovered that three women from the Farmington area had served – two as yeomen (secretaries) in the US and one as a nurse.  This was before women could serve in the military.  The nurse had to get a passport and get a letter of reference from the president of the bank in Mocksville before she could sail to Europe to tend the wounded military men.

One woman told me about her parents. They were married with a small son when the husband was serving overseas.  The child was playing on the porch, and the mother heard a huge crash.  She was so afraid something had fallen on the child, but he was just fine.  She looked and looked for the source of the crash.  A week later, she got a telegram that her husband had been killed in heavy firing the week before at the same time she heard the loud noise.

One man came home with only one leg.  But he was able to continue farming.  When he came to a fence, he’d throw his crutch over and leap over the fence and keep going.

John Frederick Anderson went to dental school, played professional baseball with the New York Yankees, served as a dentist in the war, and later practiced dentistry in Winston-Salem.

A woman told me her father went through basic training and was marched onto a ship to sail to Europe.  The ship stayed in port overnight, and they were marched back off and told they weren’t going because the war was over.  She said a lot of the men were disappointed because they wanted to go see Europe.

One man was slightly wounded and went to their makeshift hospital.  He wouldn’t stay in bed, but got up and helped other wounded.  He did such a good job that they let him stay there and assist instead of going back to the front lines.

     One man wrote home and thanked his mother for sending him some possum to Camp Jackson in Columbia.  He said it sure was good.

     One hundred and eighteen of these 670 men were Negro (term used at that time).  There was segregation then.  Their jobs were to manage the mules, serve behind the lines, and build caskets.  France recognized their heroism and awarded medals to some of the more valiant men.

     Eighteen names of fatalities are on the front of the Davie County Veterans’ Memorial, but in researching this book, I found eleven more from Davie who died in the war.  They were added to the left side of the monument.  Of these 29 deaths, ten men were killed in action and nineteen died of illness.

     A lot of the people I interviewed have died since then, so I’m glad I was able to hear these stories and save them.