The Literary Corner: Renegade Writer’s Guild

Published 10:39 am Thursday, May 9, 2019

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“Joe: My Rodeo Dog”

By Julie Terry Cartner

Going to rodeos with me was Joe, my border collie’s, greatest joy. During the week, he was my constant companion except when I was at work, but the weekends were so much more. As soon as I started hitching the horse trailer, Joe knew. I’d lead Miki, my quarter horse, into one side of the two horse trailer, and Joe would jump into the trough of the other side. There he’d snuggle down in the hay to keep Miki company. Not visible over the sides of the trailer, he sometimes took people by surprise if they ventured too close, and he’d bark a warning.

When I’d arrive at the rodeo, I’d park my van and trailer, and leave Joe on guard duty. By this time Joe was so well trained I could leave him in the trailer with the gate open, and he wouldn’t leave Miki’s side, or at least, so I thought. One day, however, Joe left the trailer. When I realized he was gone, I immediately searched for him. All the rodeo people knew Joe, so I wasn’t too worried, but with all the strangers around, I was concerned. Finally, I went around a corner, and there was my friend, the rodeo clown, John Gillstrap. John was an outstanding bull fighter, and the bull riders depended on him to keep them safe when they hit the ground, but beyond that, he had a way with animals. He had several trained animals that traveled with him and were part of his comedy act. That day, John wasn’t paying any attention to his animals, he was playing with mine. Beside him was a pile of hamburgers. As I watched, John broke off pieces of burger and threw them – high, low, slow, fast, long and short. It didn’t matter; Joe caught every one. “Never seen anything like that; he never misses a bite,” John mused as my very intelligent border collie managed to con John out of his entire supper.

After competing in the rodeo, I’d either spend the night, often sleeping in the van, or load up to go home right after I finished my events. With Joe by my side, I felt safe either way. One Saturday morning after I’d spent the night and then been on the road for several hours, I stopped to get gas. After I’d filled the tank, I went inside to pay and buy a soda. When I came out, I could see that a truck had pulled up on the other side of the gas tank. I could hear two men talking, but I couldn’t see them, and they couldn’t see me. Just then one of the men walked closer to my trailer to take a look at my horse. As usual, when he got too close, Joe barked a warning. Now Joe was a pretty good sized border collie, but on top of that, his bark sounded ferocious, even more so by the echo effect inside the trailer. Satisfied when the man backed away, Joe lay back down in the hay. As I was about to praise him, I heard the one man say to the other, “I know I had too much to drink last night, but I could have sworn that horse just barked at me!”

“15 Miles”

By N. R. Tucker

My daughter and I spent three days hiking in the Smoky Mountains, exploring a few trails I hiked in Tennessee when I was in college. We stayed in a hotel as I’ve reached an age where I don’t want to sleep on the hard ground. However, we are both early risers and planned to be on the trails early and off the trails in time to clean up and enjoy the comforts of a hot tub, hot food, and cold drink.

On day two, I had three waterfalls on the itinerary for a total of nine miles, well within our comfort zone. As I hadn’t hiked in the area in forty years, we stretched our legs and waited for the ranger’s office to open by hiking a lovely nature trail by the river where turkeys, deer, and a few other critters welcomed us to their wooded wonderland. I highly recommend checking with a visitor’s center or ranger station before hiking, especially if you are in new territory. The rangers may have vital information to share. Case in point, the road to one of the waterfalls wouldn’t open until May 1st. Since day two was April 30th, plans were adjusted.

We arrived at the Rainbow Falls Trailhead by 8:30 am which is later than I like to start, but the ranger’s station didn’t open until 8 am. We donned our backpacks and began our hike. The trail to the waterfall is 5.6 miles (round trip) straight up the mountain. I confess, I enjoyed the trail more than the falls. The wooded trail follows the river and ascends Mount LeConte if you continue past the falls. Beautiful cascades remain in visual range for most of the trail. The wooded path felt even cooler with the sound of water flowing over the rocks.

When we descended Rainbow Falls, we saw a trail to the destination of the closed road. The sign said 3.5 miles (that’s 7 miles round trip) to Grotto Falls. That would put us past the planned ten miles for the day, but we felt good about the journey. Besides, Grotto Falls Trail meanders with a bit of flat trail allowing us (mostly me) to catch our breath, unlike Rainbow Falls which ascends ever higher toward a peak.

The connector trail was peaceful and not as peopled as Rainbow Falls allowing for additional critter sightings, including a Pileated Woodpecker and more turkeys. When we reached 3.5 miles, we were at the Grotto Falls parking lot. It was then I realized my mistake. It was a connector trail. We still had 1.5 miles to hike to get to the falls. That added another 3 miles out and back to our hike. We were too close to turn back, so we carried on, carrying our backpacks. We both carry full packs on the trail in case of emergency. At this point, my shoulders questioned the need to carry a loaded pack when the supplies weren’t being used.

When we reached 10 miles on our journey, Grotto Falls – the only waterfall in Tennessee you can walk behind – was as beautiful as I remembered, although I suspect what I truly enjoyed was removing the backpack for a while. We took a nice break at the falls for which my legs and shoulders gave thanks. We also did the obligatory photos behind the falls. The return trip to the car was a mere 5 miles, although the last couple of miles I had to remind my legs that we were moving closer to our goal with every step. The goal being the car, including a cold Dr. Pepper for me and a cold coffee for my daughter.

We added the third waterfall to our day three itinerary. We hiked fewer than 5 miles on day three before driving home.

“Honor Thy Mother”

By Stephanie Williams Dean

My mother wasn’t a best friend to my brother, or my sister – and especially not to me. For as a child, I was the most strong-willed and independent of her children – I had a mind of my own and knew no fear.

Mom never came to our defense, either. If in trouble at school, the problem was our fault.  If in a fight with a friend, we were to blame for the conflict.   Except for the time she jerked Guy Whitley out of line at the school bus stop, and in front of all the other students, told him if he ever hit me again, he would be answering to her. That was priceless.

What Mom was – was a parent.  She taught, instructed, guided, protected, provided, and punished us – never hesitating to put us in our place when necessary. My mom instructed us to look inward at our faults and not blame others. If I was sad, she told me to stop thinking of myself and get busy doing something for someone else. There was always someone who had it worse.

She taught us good manners, table manners, how to behave in public and the appropriate dress for different occasions. Mom was good-hearted with a generous spirit and exhibited kindness and humility. She had no patience with conceit or arrogance. I was admonished and disciplined when appropriate. I remember many days of having to “sit in the chair.”

My mother made it clear what she expected from me. I was to be a person of my word and always do what I said I would do. I was to show up wherever I was expected to be and to arrive on time.

Teaching by example, mom gave money to the poor, performed community charity work, and was an active member of our church. I was raised in Sunday school and church, singing in the choir every Sunday and playing handbells.

Our mother was a provider. She was a homemaker and worked during the summer conducting interviews by phone, so we could attend private schools, participate in summer camps, and take swim, music, and ballet lessons from the best instructors.

What mom was – was an excellent parent during my formative years. I understand the love she had for her children and her desire to see them succeed in life. Later, as I matured, she became my best friend. On this Mother’s Day, I honor the life of my mother, Anna Quinton Green Williams and her legacy.

“My Other Church Street Family”

By Linda Barnette

My parents were Gilmer James and Louise Smith Hartley.  Everyone called my dad “Slick.”  How I wish I had found out where that came from! In any case, I remember that Mother and I debated whether to put his nickname on his tombstone when he died in 1985, and I’m happy to say that we decided to do that. Daddy was tall and thin with blue eyes and sandy hair much like his own father, and I inherited his coloring and his height. He was witty and intelligent and was a proud graduate of the Cooleemee High School class of 1931.  Thanks to Thelma Mauldin, a classmate of his, I have a copy of his graduation picture!  He lived off Cherry Hill Road and drove a bus to school, no easy task in those days before roads were paved, but he made a little money that way.  At various times he worked at the mill, at my grandfather’s Esso station uptown, and for Grady Ward’s Pure Oil Company; however, his best job came about when Ingersoll-Rand moved from New York to Mocksville.  For the first time, he had benefits such as health insurance and a retirement pension plan, which helped out the family more than they might have imagined.  His love of gardening and public service, as well as his Christian beliefs, defined him as one who loved others and who wanted to help people. In a time when racism was common, he was an uncommon man. He was also gifted with numbers and always had time to help me with my high school math homework.  I think he realized that he had a dreamer for a daughter.

Mother was also tall, thin, and very lovely.  She had light brown hair and beautiful green eyes.  She and daddy were married in 1936 and rented a house here on Church Street until they built the house I grew up in.  The lot that the house was built on belonged to my great-grandfather, so the family on this street continued. She absolutely loved shopping, and I recall many trips to Salisbury with her on her days off from work.  It was such a treat to have lunch at the fountain at Woolworth’s.  She was also a gifted seamstress who made my clothes until I was in high school.  I remember being shocked to find out that she made the fancy little dresses for my Christmas dolls.  Her first job was at Christine’s Gift Shop uptown and then at Daniel Furniture Company until a fall caused her to become disabled at age 59.  Never interested in public life, she nevertheless supported my father’s ventures into politics and in other leadership roles. He proudly served 14 years on the Mocksville Town Board and as president of the Lion’s Club and also as the treasurer of First Baptist Church for over 30 years. They really were a union of opposites; she was quiet and shy, and he was outgoing and friendly.  I am a perfect combination of the two of them; quiet and shy but also devoted to public service and to the good of all.

When I was growing up, I was expected to practice the piano and to make good grades in school!  Obviously, I realize now that both of them had as their main goal in life to send me to college, probably because they neither one had that advantage.  They never asked me what I wanted to do, and I would not have challenged them anyway.  I hope that they knew how much I appreciate all that they did for me, and I do know that they were very proud when I decided to become a teacher.  Much of my genealogical work is done in their honor as they both loved family above all except God.

My mother’s uncle, Marsh Dwiggins, and his wife, Belle, also lived on Church Street.  I honestly don’t have memories of them, but I have a lot of memories of my aunt and uncle, Katherine and Jim Poole, and my cousin Vivian.  Jim was a superb cook, and Katherine worked at Sanford’s Store and then at B. C. Moore’s.  Not long ago an older lady whom I did not know asked me if I used to work at Moore’s, and I told her that lady was my aunt.  Vivian was the cousin I grew up with, and I remember many happy hours spent in the front porch swing at the Smith’s house.

Thank God for memories.  They are the stuff that dreams are made of!