The Literary Corner: Renegade Writers Guild

Published 9:30 am Thursday, September 21, 2017


By Kevin F. Wishon

Recently, as I returned to my car in the parking lot, I noticed two young adolescent boys arguing with one another on the sidewalk. As I approached, it became apparent that this was just friendly banter and play as they pushed each other and bragged. Then from a distance, I heard a voice say, “On your mark-ready-set!” I don’t believe they waited for go, as they took off sprinting down the sidewalk towards the bottom of the hill. I couldn’t help but smile as I watched them shove each other as they approached the finish line. I never saw who ultimately won, but it didn’t matter; let the winner enjoy the moment. It will be one of many competitions to come.

How many times had I seen this play out as a youth? It seems silly now as I look back at all the times we tried to settle disagreements with a competition. My parents, fearing expensive medical costs, warned me about the risks of foolish competition. My grandfather as a youth had seriously injured his back in a competition to see who could cradle more wheat. Therefore, I moderated my competitive nature as a youth and escaped with only a fractured bone. Nevertheless, I still competed and lost often. Gradually, I improved and learned to choose competitions I knew I had a chance of winning.     

Eventually, my last public competition was an arm wrestling match. I did not want to compete while on a public job, but after listening to hours of bragging, I just wanted the fellow to hush. I assured him he was making a mistake. My upper forearm was double the size of his, so I could say this with assurance. Still, he couldn’t back out; he had bragged to his friends and put his pride on the line. While the shift took a lunch break, we settled the matter. I have no idea where that fellow is today, but I wish him well. Additionally, I hope he was careful with bragging in the future because I won that day without breaking a sweat.

“Jaden’s First Summer Camps”

By Gaye Hoots

My great granddaughter went to her first overnight camp this summer. She was enthusiastic about the first camp but returned with a finger bent at a 45-degree angle. The bone was broken on a diagonal slant at the top joint. It required a cast for weeks, and they hinted at surgery to put a pin in. Luckily it healed well and did not require surgery.

I sent her off to the second camp with high hopes. When she returned she related her experience to me.

“When we arrived our group was told that our cabin was not ready yet and we would be notified when it was ready. Around midnight they told us our cabin had bedbugs. They had treated this by heating the cabin to one hundred sixty degrees. One hundred forty degrees was required to kill the bedbugs. The other method was to use 91 percent alcohol. The two rooms that had been infested were kept locked. Our group leaders went to the drug store and purchased the alcohol, and we wiped down all surfaces.”

“We did not put anything on the floor. We kept our belongings on tables. It was 2 am when we went to bed. We had to be up at seven thirty am, so we got little sleep.”

“We thought the issue was settled but there were some groups who refused to enter the cabin and had slept in other buildings. Some of these kids refused to touch those of us who had stayed in the cabin. One camper was a special needs kid, and he was very upset when another camper refused to hold his hand. The counselors tried to smooth things over with everyone.”

“So you probably don’t plan to go next year after that experience,” I said.

I thought I was an incurable optimist, but she has me topped.

“Yes, I am going back. Except for that, it was great! They did all they could, and they are giving all our group free camp for next year. It is paid for, and I am looking forward to it.”

“Mary’s Butterflies”

By Mike Gowen

The family sat at the table eating breakfast.   

     “Mom, I don’t feel good,” Mary said.

     Mary’s mom put her hand on Mary’s forehead.

     “You’re not running a fever, sweetheart,” Mary’s mom said.  “What hurts?”

     “My stomach feels funny,” Mary replied.

     “You have a spelling test today, don’t you Mary?” her mom asked.

     “Uh huh.”

     Mary’s mother smiled.  “Mary, you just have butterflies in your stomach.  Go on to school and everything will be fine.”

     Everything wasn’t fine.  How did she get butterflies in her stomach Mary wondered?  She didn’t remember eating any.  She would never eat butterflies.  She thought they were beautiful.  Mary’s stomach felt worse.  Her mom must be right.  Mary guessed one of her brothers must have put the butterflies inside a sandwich she had eaten.  Mary thought about it all morning.  She felt sad about the butterflies she had eaten.  Mary knew she had to do something soon.

     Then she got an idea.  Her teacher, Mrs. Perry, let kids go to the library when they finished their lunch.  Maybe she could find out how to get rid of the butterflies.  The library had computers where you could look things up on the Internet.  One day in class they were taught how to search for information.  The mornings usually went by fast for Mary but not today.

     When lunchtime finally arrived, Mary hardly touched her food.  She was afraid the butterflies wouldn’t like a bunch of food dumped on them.  She put up her tray and hurried to Mrs. Perry.

     “Mrs. Perry, may I please go to the library?” Mary asked.

     “Are you already finished with your lunch, Mary?”  Mrs. Perry asked.

     “Yes Mrs. Perry, I wasn’t very hungry today.”

     “Very well Mary, you may go,” said Mrs. Perry.

       At the library, Mary found a computer.  She typed “butterflies in your stomach” in the search box and pressed the enter key.  Soon a page displayed that showed several links about butterflies in your stomach.  Mary remembered that links helped get from one place to another on the Internet.  Mary was surprised to see so many links about butterflies in your stomach.  Lots of kids must eat them, she thought.  The first link was to a website called  This would be a good place to start.

      Preparing for the worst, Mary began to read.  The website explained that butterflies in your stomach weren’t real butterflies at all.  It was an expression used to describe nervous or fluttery feelings you got in your stomach before a big game or a test.  A test?  Mary almost screamed.   She had been worried about her spelling test.    She had trouble sleeping thinking about it.  Mary was glad the butterflies weren’t real.  She had been so busy worrying about the butterflies she forgot to worry about her spelling test.  Mary did well on her test.

     Looking out the window Mary watched a beautiful yellow and black butterfly fly across the playground.  Mary grinned, happy to know the butterflies were safe outside and not in her stomach.

“Keep Yourself from Disappearing”

By Marie Craig

    Why is it important to compile family history?  It seems that there is no middle ground for feelings of desire to write down and save details about ancestors.  You either love it and spend many hours chasing data, or you just say, “They’re all dead; why does it matter?”  Hopefully, I can convert the disinterested.

    I feel it does matter very much.  You’re the result of many generations of relatives with unique mannerisms, facial features, and language.  You need to know where those things came from.  Attitudes toward family and top priorities in your life can be altered for the good if you learn more about your family.  You might have had a stressful life as a child in dealing with harsh parents and unresponsive grandparents.  There’s always a reason for negative behavior.  But despite all their flaws, they’re still your family, and you need to learn about their childhoods and the things they endured.

    You only need to go back two or more generations, and you’ll find poor dirt farmers and blue-collar workers who really had to strive long hours to support their large families.  Everybody had to help just to make ends meet.  Our affluent young families and children have no idea how tough it was back then.  Interview the oldest person in your family about the Great Depression and World War Two.  Then you’ll get an appreciation for enjoying the good times we have.  We have so much “stuff” we must rent separate quarters to store our things we probably never needed in the first place.

    You need to write down information about your parents, your grandparents, and relatives as far back as you can reach.  It’s a way to honor them and the way they enabled you to live the good life that you do.  You should share this data and family stories with your children and grandchildren.

    Consider these four generations — count them off on your fingers if you wish.  First, there’s you.  Then there are your two parents.  Next come your four grandparents, and last are your eight great-grandparents.  Quick, think of the name of one of your great grandparents.  Can you do it?

    Let’s do it again, but go the other way through time.  First, there’s you.  Then there are your children.  Next come your grandchildren, and last are your great-grandchildren.

    If you don’t write your ancestors’ information down for future generations, chances are that years from now, your great grandchildren will have no idea who you are, and you will disappear!  Four generations are included in both examples above.  Do you want to disappear?