The Literary Corner: Renegade Writers Guild
Published 8:44 am Thursday, August 10, 2017
“Storm of 1989”
By Kevin F. Wishon
Locally, spring storms are quite common every year. We can usually expect at least one rough storm every spring. These storms are the result of changing weather patterns and the seasonal transition that occurs as we proceed towards the summer months. Usually, these are seldom remarkable nor seriously concerning unless there is the chance of property damage. On May 5, 1989, several storms passed through Davie County that changed the appearance of the area and gave me a new respect for spring storms.
Late on a Friday evening, we heard ominous sounds as a storm approached my parent’s home. Unexpectedly my mother opened the bedroom door and informed me of a severe storm warning being issued by a local news station. Apparently, a storm had intensified near the Farmington community and traveled east towards us. Busy with what I was doing and ignorant of the peril, I ignored my mother’s warning at first.
Within moments it became dark outside, and only water and tree leaves were visible on my bedroom window glass. Initially, rainwater streamed vertically up the glass and transfixed me; the force of wind influenced the rain in unusual ways. The center of the window glass began to bulge inward. I had seen the glass move during heavy winds before but never bulge. At this point, my mother called for the entire family to come to the center of the house where there were few windows.
With all of the doors closed, we gathered just in time as the power to the house failed; in dim light, we nervously awaited the outcome of the storm. The intensity of the wind and rain made it difficult to see anything outside and made the situation worse. We waited and listened as the wind roared, the house creaked, and trees broke and fell. Several minutes of this commotion began to set my nerves on edge so I found my portable radio with headphones, sat on the floor and listened to music to calm myself. At one point, I noticed my parents looking at something outside as the storm raged, so I took my headphones off and got up to look. It was hard to see, but a young pin oak in the front yard was bent completely over, and the tree’s top leaves touched the ground.
Once the storm subsided, there was just enough daylight left to investigate the damage before darkness fell. Shredded leaves covered the exterior of the west side of my parent’s house; the thick, raw odor of cut foliage and wood filled the air. Thankfully, we discovered that the majority of our damage was from tree loss. The amount of tree and brush cleanup that laid ahead of us was almost overwhelming. In the days to come, as we slowly recovered, we learned that numerous residents across the entire county also suffered storm damage. Many homes and other structures were severely damaged, and a few lost. It still amazes me to this day there were no deaths.
The following September, Hurricane Hugo passed through North Carolina and brought heavy winds and rain to my parent’s home place, but very little else in the way of damage. The storm from earlier that spring had wrecked the surrounding landscape and left little for Hurricane Hugo to ruin.
Now approaching 30 years, I still clearly remember the events of that evening. I have not forgotten how small, weak, and uncertain I felt experiencing that storm. I was a teen at the time, but it gave my family and I a powerful reminder of our mortality.
By Gaye Hoots
My grandmother was one of the strongest women I knew. When she was about eight years old, her mother was hospitalized. It may have been post-partum depression or simply having so many children so close together, but she became unable to care for the children. We were told that she had wandered away from home carrying her baby and was gone overnight before they found them. They were afraid to leave her with the children after that. She was hospitalized at Butner N. C. and later died there.
Grandmother tried to look after her younger siblings. They lived near her grandmother and an unmarried aunt who helped to look after her family. After her mother’s death, Grandma’s father married the sister of his first wife. The second wife was loved by Grandma and her siblings. Grandma’s father and his brother operated Spainhour’s Mill which provided a living for the family.
When she was sixteen years old, Grandma married my grandfather who was twenty-four years old. They had five boys and one girl, my mother. They had three sons in WW11. One of their sons never returned. This was difficult for her, but her faith never wavered.
When I was a small child we visited her, and she served fried chicken. There was no Bojangles then. I would watch with fascination as she put corn in her apron to scatter to the chickens. She would release the corn, which the chickens would dive for. Her right hand would grab the closest chicken by the neck and twist it while the chicken flopped, fluttered, and died. The other chickens continued to peck at the corn.
Grandma then plucked the feathers, singed them with fire and scraped out the pin feathers. The next step was to open and clean the chicken before cutting it up to cook. I had seen my other grandma pluck and clean chickens. She never killed them. My Grandpa Hoots caught the chicken and tied their feet together. He then hung it over a clothes line and cut off its head. This drained the blood from the chicken.
No crisis was ever too much for Grandma. She and Grandpa came to every wedding of their grandchildren. When my oldest male cousin married, it required them to fly. Grandpa opted out, but Grandma took her first and last flight and attended the wedding. They were at the hospital when my first child was pronounced dead, twenty-four hours after her birth.
Grandma hosted Christmas every year for everyone. She was the glue that kept her twelve grandchildren connected. Those are some of my favorite childhood memories. When Grandpa began to have problems with his health, she tried to keep him from getting hurt. She did not allow him to go out of sight of their house. She missed him one evening and went to find him. He had entered the pack house to see the tobacco. His vision was so poor he did not see the trap door was open and fell through. This resulted in his death.
I was sure Grandma could handle being alone, but I did not realize they had been married sixty-four years and lived on the same property all that time.They had never spent a night apart that I remember. She would stay overnight with him when he was in the hospital.
When we visited after Grandpa’s death, she would be tearful. This lasted almost a year before she was able to adjust. He was eighty-nine years old when he died. Grandma was eighty- one years old. She continued to live in their home until her death at the age of ninety-nine years.
Grandma was fortunate to have Nora care for her at home until her death. Nora had married a man who worked for Grandpa when she was only fifteen years old. My grandparents built a small home on their farm. Frank died many years before Nora, who continued to live on the farm. After Grandma died, Nora continued to live in the house until shortly before her death,
“Math and Aftermath”
By Marie Craig
I was a math major and math teacher for a good many years. I used to tell our two sons, “Everything comes back to math.” They would roll their eyes. But you know what? One is now a library statistician and the other is a physics teacher in a community college. I really didn’t think it would turn out this way, but it did.
Math is such a great basis for everything. Music is nothing but applied math. I used to get annoyed trying to grab hold of truth in history classes but decided most of it was a matter of opinion. Nobody can agree on the cause of the Civil War, for example. Fake news and fake stories have been around forever. I won’t even mention religion or politics. I learned at an early age that mathematics is absolute — no matter of opinion or interpretation — just indisputable facts and rules. That’s what matters, I decided, and with that analysis, I became a math person.
However, I do find myself getting confused once in awhile about numbers. My friend from my previous town said that her grandson is learning to drive. How can that be? He’s just a toddler! Oops, it’s been 13 years since I saw him as a 3-year-old. How could he have changed that much? I guess if I can’t see the math, then it doesn’t make sense.
People seem to create abstract situations that are hard to comprehend. So many things can be thought through logically if given numerical qualities. Trying to make a tough decision? Make a list of reasons to do it and reasons not to do it. Then decide based on the longer list. I thought I had invented that technique but then learned that Benjamin Franklin used this method. He’s a few years older than me, so I guess he started it first.
Logic should be simple — smoking ruins your health, so therefore, don’t do it — spending money you don’t have makes you worse than poor, so don’t do it — eating too much makes you fat, so don’t do it. Logic should rule our lives, but alas, the lack of self-control makes us do illogical things. So, the ever-sensible math can play tricks on us in terms of age, decisions, and personal commitment to ideals.