The Literary Corner: Renegade Writer’s Guild

Published 9:37 am Thursday, December 13, 2018

Mister Gwyn” (written as a children’s story)

By Kevin F. Wishon

Many years ago, there was a man by the name of Richard Gwyn.

He moved his family north into the foothills of North Carolina.

There, a large stream flowed not too far from where he built their home.

Intrigued by the creek, he considered how he could harness its power.

So, he built a grist mill on that stream, and it did really well.

To ensure his children’s education, he looked around and made a decision.

Richard built a one-room school for them that later became a chapel.

This building still stands today and is now a museum you can visit.

Life for Richard Gwyn was good, and his mill was successful.

So, he built more mills along the creek.

He built a lumber mill for wood and a cotton mill for clothing.

It was about this time the nation engaged in a Civil War.

However, Mister Gwyn remained optimistic even during this crisis.

With confidence, Richard invited passing Union soldiers into his home.

Impressed by his charm and hospitality, Richard’s wealth was spared.

His cotton mill was one of the few left undestroyed by the Union soldiers.

After the war ended, the Southern economy changed.

Fearful and uncertain of what the future held,

Richard Gwyn sold off his mill assets to other men like Alexander Chatham.

So, he quietly lived out the rest of his life until his death in 1881.

Nonetheless, Richard Gwyn remains recognized as the founding father of Elkin, NC.

“Patience at Christmas”

By Marie Craig

1971, Christmas, Tallahassee, Florida, older son, 3.5, younger son, 1.5.  Wanting to do something different and spectacular for Christmas decorating, I remembered that my mother had enhanced her Christmas tree with fake snow.  I wrote her a letter asking how she did this.  This was all before email, easy telephone calls to North Carolina, and texting.  She wrote me back right away describing buying Lux soap flakes and then putting some in a mixing bowl with a small amount of water and beating this until it resembled whipped cream.

We had a cut tree that year, which was the last year because throwing it away made my tender-hearted son cry.  After that, we had trees with roots.  We’d dig one up, put it in a wash tub and lug it into the house for decorating.  We had two of them we alternated so that they had less stress in adapting to going from outdoor to indoor for a few weeks.  In the blistering summer, he would walk by the tree and say “Christmas tree, Christmas tree.”  But I diverse…

After the cut tree was finally moved from the tub and attached to a flimsy stand that held water, I made my wonderful snow batter.  I used my hand to stroke it onto each limb, getting stuck by needles at every move.  Finally, I had it all covered, and it was gorgeous, I’ll say for sure, myself.  As it dried more and more, chunks would occasionally fall off onto the gifts, but no big problem.

Our ceiling was about twelve feet from the floor above the tree and sloped down to eight feet across the long room.  We had only lived there for a few years, and we were still in the process of improving the place.  My impatient husband decided that he was going to paint the ceiling one night.  My objections were: wait until the boys are asleep, wait until the tree has been dismantled, just wait until daylight when you can see better.  But alas, these fell on deaf ears.  Nothing would do but for him to instantly get the paint roller with a long, long handle and the paint ready to do this quickly.

     It started out OK and might have worked, except the younger son turned the tree over, water went everywhere on the hardwood floor, and the water melted the soap/snow on the horizontal tree and made the floor so slick that nobody could stand up.  It was a disaster, but now it’s funny.  I wish I could do it all over again.

“Keep Calm and Carry On”

By Gaye Hoots

I was at work on 9/11 when we began to hear of the hijacked planes and the damage they wrought. We had no way of knowing where the next target might be, but my job was to prepare to take medicines to my assigned clients. I was employed by a mental health clinic that served a population of revolving door patients who were in jail or the hospital repeatedly. I did touch base with my family to be sure they were safe and loaded my med bag.

My phone rang, and I heard the voice of a friend who worked at the same facility. She told me she was watching the news on TV and that her daughter was on a plane leaving Washington. She believed her daughter was on the plane that hit the Pentagon. She had received no official information, but I could not console her. Her premonition was correct. Her daughter was a physical therapist leaving for a vacation in Australia. She had finished college the year before and had been working in Washington about a year. It was her dream job.

It was hard to absorb the reality of the events of 9/11 and the devastation. My day was spent trying to reassure a population who spent much time in crisis mode and dealt with fear and anxiety daily. When I spoke with my friend later that day, she knew her daughter had died. She was in shock, and there was no way to help her.

My friend became an advocate and spent time speaking to the public about the events of 9/11. She told me about going to clean out her daughter’s apartment. She kept all her daughter’s things in her home stacked on top of her furniture. When I encouraged her to sort through the boxes, she said, “I can’t stand to lose anything else of hers, not even a box she may have touched.”

     My friend has moved to a new home, but everything remains in the old home untouched. These tragedies tend to take on an unreal quality to those of us who had no immediate losses. Those who lost loved ones will never be the same again. She received her daughter’s purse more than a year after the tragedy, but it was empty. Each news update and reference opened the wound anew. Bin Laden’s death may have brought some sense of justice served, but it does not seem to have brought closure.