The Literary Corner: Renegade Writer’s Guild

Published 9:32 am Thursday, January 11, 2018

“100 Years Ago”

By Marie Craig

I’m reading The Davie Record online for Jan. 9, 1918.  The main topic is Davie’s involvement in World War One.  Other articles were of interest, and I’ll transcribe them.

“Mr. Editor: Just a few lines to the boys of old Davie.  I like the army very well. Of course all of the boys will get homesick for a while. We are fed mostly on beans and potatoes and sometimes we have eggs for breakfast. I have one of the finest Captains that is in Camp Jackson. We took one little hike of about eight miles, and I thought it was fine. If I never get to a worse place than the army I will be a happy boy. Grady Boger, Camp Jackson, S.C.”

“News was received here Monday of last week, telling the death of Claud Howard, at Camp Jackson. Mr. Howard went to camp just about three weeks before his death. His father Kelly Howard, lives near Smith Grove. The cause of death is unknown. The parents have the sympathy of a host of friends in their loss.” [Spanish flu and meningitis killed twice as many Davie soldiers than warfare.]

“Food Situation of Allies is Very Grave. Washington.  The food situation in the allied countries of Europe is graver than it has been at any time since the beginning of the war and is giving American government officials deep concern. Official reports picture extreme food shortages in England, France and Italy.”

“School to Open Next Monday. On account of the severe weather and the sorry heating plant at the graded school building, the school board decided last week not to open the school until next Monday, Jan. 14th.”

“We thought the weather before Christmas was cold, but we were mistaken. The cold weather didn’t arrive until Saturday night, Dec. 29th, when the bottom dropped out of the thermometers. On Sunday morning the mercury went down to 4 degrees below zero, and some reported that their instruments went as low as 8 and 10 below.  From the 12th of December to Jan. 1st, six snows fell, and both the Yadkin rivers were frozen solid, the ice being thick enough to sustain automobiles. On account of the intensely cold weather many water pipes froze and the factories couldn’t resume business the first of last week.”

“With the Best Year in its History. The Bank of Davie thanks its many friends and customers, and solicits a continuance of their confidence and patronage, and wishes for all a happy and prosperous New Year. Don’t risk robbery or fire at home, but deposit your savings with us and get 4 per ct. interest compounded quarterly. E.L. Gaither – President”

“The bell for the new Baptist church arrived during the holidays and sent out its first peal on Friday Dec. 28. The Baptist church was organized here in 1864, and this was the first bell ever owned by the church here.”

There was a full page continuing story of chapter XXVI, advertisements interspersed with articles, and slanted editorials toward the Republican view of politics. It’s interesting to read these old newspapers and learn about life in Davie one hundred years ago.

“Dusting Off Memories”

By Gaye Hoots

     When I was in my mid-twenties, my two daughters were toddlers. We lived near my parents, and two of my uncles lived within a mile of my home. My grandmother had recently moved in with my younger uncle. Uncle Jones had converted his large back porch into a small apartment for her. She had lived alone for a few years after my grandfather died, but her mobility was declining, and she felt unsafe living alone.

     The day my youngest daughter was born, I had gone to visit Grandma. She had taken a bath in the claw foot bathtub in the upstairs bathroom and had not been able to get out of the tub. I managed to get her out of the tub, but the pulling sent me into labor a couple of weeks early. A few months later Grandma decided to leave the farm and move in with Uncle Jones.

     Uncle Edward lived in a mobile home on my father’s farm. He had cirrhosis of the liver and required frequent doctor visits. Grandma needed occasional checks during the day while my uncle was at work. Uncle Jones, who had grandma in his home, developed headaches from which he could get no relief. The pain worsened, and he had surgery scheduled to sever a nerve, in an attempt to provide relief.

     The day of the scheduled surgery I received a call from a nurse on his unit. She told me the doctor discharged Uncle Jones and canceled the surgery. The nurse told me they were concerned because his reaction to the canceled surgery was to threaten suicide because he said he could not endure the pain. She still insisted the hospital had discharged him. I told her I would come to get him.

     I was having a hard time understanding this but took my two young daughters and headed to the hospital. It was going to be difficult if he was considering harming himself. I planned to ask him what he had said and whether he was considering suicide.

     When I arrived at his unit, the nurse said he was in surgery. I explained that I had received a call saying to come and pick him up. “The nurse got his orders mixed up with another patient’s, but he is having the surgery now.” No apologies offered.

      After his discharge, Uncle Jones still had the headaches but had been told they might subside. They did not subside. The severed nerve caused him to drool. He would no longer go out in public and began to speak of wishing he were dead. My father and uncle had him admitted to the VA hospital.

     Uncle Jones was hospitalized only a few days and then discharged. The discharging psychiatrist had declared that my uncle was as sane and rational as he was. During his hospitalization, I had gone to my uncle’s home and removed his guns. He came to pick them up, and I told him that if he shot himself, I would feel responsible. Uncle Jones promised that he would not shoot himself. I considered the crisis resolved and turned over his guns.

     He told us he was fine with looking after Grandma who was mobile and had a clear mind. A few mornings later my phone rang, and a neighbor told me that when her husband went to pick Uncle Jones up for work, he found my uncle dead.

     “He didn’t shoot himself.” I insisted. She told me that her husband found him inside his Jeep with a hose run from the exhaust to the inside of the vehicle. It was hard to grasp. I went to check on Grandma who knew of his death. She was stunned.

     My Uncle Allen, who lived in Clemmons had Grandma placed in a nursing home near his house. Four weeks later, Uncle Edward, who had cirrhosis, died in his home. It was a time of pain and confusion for the whole family.

      The sale of Uncle Jones’ personal property was hard for me. He was a very private person. It was hard to watch his belongings being rifled through and auctioned off. His home sold, Grandmother’s belongings were reduced to a few things, and she was allowed in the nursing home. The mobile home my other uncle had lived in, sold also.

     The decisions were out of my control. Our family had changed forever. I coped by focusing on my young children, but these events shaped my decision to study and become a psychiatric nurse.


“Another Lesson”

By Kevin F. Wishon

     Taking a shortcut, Harris made good progress through the forest as he headed home; then he stepped off into a chasm. The only thing that saved him from a head-first plunge was the quick turn of his body, which left him clinging to the bank’s edge with one arm. Tearing at weeds and dead tree leaves, Harris struggled to find purchase in the soft soil lining the bank. Making his situation worse, he was unable to get traction on the slick clay walls below him. Just as soon as Harris thought he had support, his footing would fail, leaving him with only his hand-hold to save him.

     Uncertain of the chasm’s depth, Harris focused on pulling himself back over the bank’s edge. The muscles in his arms were already burning from the continuous strain of struggling. Chunks of clay fell out of the bank wall as he kicked to get a solid toehold. By this time, Harris had pulled every leaf, pine needle, and tree root from the bank’s edge until only soil remained; dirt gathered under his fingernails as he continued to claw for a solid grip.

     Finally, just as Harris was about to give out, one toehold in the clay held long enough for him to pull himself higher and grab a small branch from a young sapling along the edge. Leaves from the bough he clutched peeled off between his fingers as he struggled to pull his lower body back over the edge. Once on top, Harris remained on the ground for several minutes, as he recovered from the fatiguing exertion.

     After recovering, he carefully rolled back to the edge to see where he had nearly fallen. A rush of fear washed over him when he saw that it was a ten-foot drop to the bottom. A stream of water at the lowest point revealed how this chasm had come to be. Several yards away an underground spring was forcing water out of the ground. Apparently, over the years, the water from this spring had carved a deep chasm in the soft, clay soil as it traveled downstream.

     “Well, that’s a new one on me!” Harris said aloud. He knew he had to watch for rotten stump holes and fallen logs where snakes may lie when walking in the woods. However, he never expected to discover a narrow, washed out chasm in the floor of the forest. Shaken and sore from his ordeal, Harris set out to find a safe place to cross the stream. Moreover, he marked this day in his memory as a day he learned a new lesson about taking shortcuts through the forest.