The Literary Corner: Renegade Writer’s Guild

Published 9:01 am Thursday, April 18, 2019

“Green Bean Blues”

By Kevin F. Wishon

Without fail, mid-summer rains and red soil guarantee one thing in abundance every year. It is green beans. Patiently waiting, they hang in thick clusters, ready for nimble fingers to separate them from the vines. In my youth, helping pick, string, and break green beans was an annual dinner table event. Late into the evening hours, multiple sets of hands would swiftly remove the strings and break them into several pieces between their thumbs and index fingers. Heaps of legumes would cover the table fed by overflowing pans and bags of harvested green beans. Then, just when you were sure it was over, several more containers of green beans would appear, and another pile would fill the table. To my young mind, it felt like the flow of green beans waiting to be strung and broken would never end. Even when it did, you knew that this was only one gathering, and within a week, there would be more to come.

Of course, with that abundance, we were overwhelmed with the sheer amount of beans. So, canning was how we made sure we were never without green beans on the plate year-round. Unlike the stringing and breaking, I actually liked the canning process, or at least, the part I played in it. My job was to collect dead firewood and build an outdoor blaze, which would eventually reduce to a pile of glowing coals. A metal washtub would be set over the embers, partially filled with water, and allowed to heat. Prepared and sealed in the kitchen, fifteen canning jars, filled with green beans, were carefully submerged below the hot water bath. This style of outdoor canning allowed us to can many jars without bringing suffocating heat inside the house. However, it was essential to avoid a rolling boil after placing the jars in the tub. Otherwise, the jars would clatter against each other until they broke. Thankfully, I don’t remember that happening too often. Instead, numerous jars of canned green beans lined our cold storage shelves.

Now, you would have thought with all those green beans, they would’ve been my favorite, but they weren’t. Actually, I do like green beans and will gladly eat them to this day. However, it was the variety of runner green beans my family grew, which I disliked. I had a saying about them.

“Those green beans have two sets of strings.”

By this, I meant those beans still had small, spiny strings remaining after being strung. So, come dinnertime, I struggled to consume them with the unpleasant feel of tough, stringy bits in the back of my throat. As I’ve said, I liked most beans, but I felt that variety ruined an otherwise enjoyable meal. Of course, with no one else complaining, I was alone in my opinion. Thankfully, though, I choked them down and survived. Now, I grow a different type of green bean and can only blame myself if I encounter a cooked bean with a string still in it.   

“The Beauty Contest”

By Gaye Hoots

When I was a junior in high school, I decided to enter the Miss Davie County Contest. Friends of mine were entering, and it sounded like fun. There was no talent competition, which was good for me as I had no special talent.

     My uncle bought me a beautiful black bathing suit with white trim around the top. I tried it on and began to feel more confident about participating. We had a couple of rehearsals which were great fun. Practicing the walk across the stage was a piece of cake. We enjoyed the time together, and no one seemed overly competitive. I had no second thoughts about participating and looked forward to the night of the contest.

My family and fiance accompanied me to the school on the night of the contest. Everything was fine as I watched the other girls walk across the stage and smile their warmest smiles. When I stepped onto the stage, I immediately became aware that this was not something I wanted to do.

It was not stage fright. I loved being in plays in front of an audience. It was not that I was uncomfortable in a bathing suit. It was not because half the audience was male. There was a feeling that presenting myself in a bathing suit in front of judges and an audience was not appropriate for me. I was not sure it was appropriate for anyone, male or female.

The tradition of having women dress, sing, or dance, to entertain others dates to biblical times, and probably before that. You see that with our Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders, our Hooters waitresses, and commercials for everything from cars to food.  One of my daughters was a cheerleader in junior high. She loved it, and I would not have questioned the uniforms worn then. Our country has a standard of verbalizing respect for women while continuing to demean some of them. There are women who use this to their advantage and have no problem with it.

     The winner of the 1962 Miss Davie County was Velda Brown. She had a beautiful smile. I did not get the feeling that we were being exploited, but still, I was not comfortable with it, and I knew I would never enter another bathing suit competition.

     This year for the first time the bathing suit competition was eliminated from the Miss America contest. I knew over fifty years ago it did not feel right to me. I made the walk across the stage but was unable to smile while doing it.

“Respect for the Deceased”

By Marie Craig

I was in a funeral procession recently, and we traveled about four miles from the funeral home to the cemetery.  We all had our blinkers on and were following a police car.  Every car we met, stopped and waited patiently for us to pass.  We were traveling slowly, so it was an extended wait.  Not once did I see exasperation on the faces of the drivers.  I marveled at this in a day of great impatience and road rage.  I savored this experience of Davie drivers honoring this deceased woman.

      In writing my history books, I have walked through almost every cemetery in the county looking for tombstones to photograph to put into biographies.  Several times, I would arrive when the graveyard was being lovingly groomed.  On one hot day, I walked through a huge cemetery looking for a particular tombstone.  There were two young men with weed eaters very diligently and carefully trimming around the stones.

When one of them stopped for a break, I said, “That’s a lot of tedious work.”

He replied that he enjoyed doing it, even on a hot day like that one.  I asked how often they trimmed, and he said that they did that every Wednesday until cold weather.  I was impressed by their patience and good spirit.

     I was in another large cemetery, and the man doing the grooming was about 80 or so.  I talked to him, and he told me of his great love for taking care of his own church’s graveyard.  I could tell that he was truly dedicated to this special responsibility.  I’m sure there are many people who share their love and toil with their church’s cemetery.

     Images of tombstones are in abundance on a Website, www.FindAGrave.com.  It currently has 170 million images and memorials of cemeteries all over the earth.  I am a volunteer for taking photos of headstones when the requester lives at a great distance or cannot physically walk through a cemetery.  That has been a true joy for me, and I receive such warm thank you notes from them.

     A Website, www.cemeterycensus.com lists the graves from the 151 Davie County cemeteries that are listed in the two cemetery books that were printed in 1998.  These books were typed by Nancy Murphy, assisted by members of the Davie County Historical and Genealogical Society.

Genealogists and family members are grateful for all of these examples of respect for their deceased ancestors.