The Literary Corner: Renegade Writer’s Guild

Published 12:49 pm Thursday, May 23, 2019

“Church Street Neighbors”

By Linda Barnette

Although I knew all of the neighbors at least by sight, only a few of them were close friends of my parents.  The Wall family, including Claire, James Wall and his wife Esther, and Tommy and Lois Shore were our best friends and neighbors on the street.

All of the Walls were teachers, and both Miss Claire Wall and Mr. James Wall were among my favorites. Mrs. Wall was also a teacher, but her field was elementary education, and I was never in her class. Miss Wall was a lovely lady with an ever-present smile. She was my ninth grade English teacher for the last year that we were at the old Mocksville High School. Because of her, I learned to love classic literature, although I was always an avid reader. Burned into my memory is our principal, Mr. Farthing, reading Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven” in his deep, dramatic voice! When Miss Wall got married after her mother had passed away, my parents took her and her fiancée to Staley’s Steakhouse in Winston. I knew by that gesture how important she was to our family because we never went to dinner at places like that.

Mr. James Wall was my homeroom teacher in the eighth grade and also my history teacher at Davie County High School. A teacher from the old school, he was strict and all about the business of teaching us his subject. There was no misbehaving in his classes probably because nobody wanted to risk getting punished, but also that was the norm in those days. I clearly recall walking into class one day and seeing a note on the board that his wife had had a baby girl. There was no discussion about it, no cake, no party. He was a well-respected teacher, well-prepared with a master’s degree from Chapel Hill, brilliant enough to have taught on the university level, but his choice was his hometown. He encouraged my interest in history and later became the Davie County historian and wrote a book about our county.  My autographed copy remains a treasured possession.

Mrs. Wall was not so much a part of my childhood, but in later years, when my mother was a shut-in, Mrs. Wall was a faithful visitor who often brought mother sweet treats. She was all about the business of hospitality. When she passed away recently, that was brought out in her eulogy.

Tommy and Lois Shore were out neighbors on the left side. Tommy was the supervisor of maintenance at the school bus garage, and Lois worked at one of the banks. Tommy and my dad often met for conversation while they cut the grass on their riding mowers.

What my dad, Mr. Wall, and Tommy Shore had in common was their love of gardening. They all three had large gardens and would meet in the evenings outside during the summer months. I can truthfully say that it would be difficult if not impossible to find three finer gentlemen than these men.  They were good people, good friends, and good neighbors.  For years after my dad died, Tommy Shore cut my mother’s grass and often dropped by to check on her.

I treasure the memories of those people and those days on Church Street.

“Allergies Abroad”

By N. R. Tucker

Like many, I suffer from seasonal allergies. I have been a life-long sufferer, although allergy shots provided some relief. Still, every spring and fall, I can look forward to a few weeks of breathing issues. Living in Italy provided its own set of pollen problems.

Moving to Italy in 1989, I discovered that most Italian apartments and homes lacked two things I would miss during our stay: screens on windows and air conditioning. No A/C meant the windows had to be open. Open windows allowed pollen and bugs to enter the house freely. The bugs were less irritating than the pollen.

The weather in Verona was very similar to the Piedmont in North Carolina, meaning summers were hot and humid. Interestingly enough, without A/C, my body adjusted to the summer weather easier than with it. Lack of A/C wasn’t much of a problem except at night when it could be too hot to sleep. The same could not be said for pollen.

The pollen was frequently so heavy it looked like yellow snow… on my freshly mopped floors, clean kitchen counters, freshly dusted furniture, and, well, you get the idea. I mopped and dusted every day, but it didn’t matter. Pollen was everywhere.

Following the maxim “When in Rome…,” I took my cue from my Italian neighbors and decided to hang the laundry on the three-row clothesline on our wrap around deck. This was a mistake. Pollen adhered to the line-dried clothes, and I couldn’t breathe. Another issue was the fact that we lived near a marble factory. If the wind blew in our direction on laundry day, the clothes dried with marble dust embedded in every nook and cranny making the clothes stiff and uncomfortable. This is the only time in my life I checked weather patterns before doing laundry.

I look back on those days with amusement. It also makes me appreciate the A/C running in my home today.

“The Poor Taste of Money”

By Stephanie Williams Dean

Recently I had an experience that served to remind me of what my parents taught us growing up.  Good manners dictate appropriate social behavior. As part of that etiquette, one was not to discuss price, cost, or how much you paid for something.  To do so was considered bad manners and in poor taste.

Nor did one talk about the cost of food on the menu while eating in a restaurant and never during the meal – at least not publicly or while you were at the table. One never haggled over the bill.  If the bill was going to be shared, payment arrangements were discussed before the meal, or you quietly and privately let the hostess know ahead of time how the bill would be handled when it came time to pay. And one was not to discuss their salary or how much money they earned. These were discussions to have in private and were to be kept in the family.

But some of the most egregious offenders do all that and more. They can’t wait to tell you how much their car is worth and what they paid for it, or the cost of their home,  how much their latest trip and airline ticket cost, along with their designer purse, the latest piece of jewelry, and the list goes on. They’re known as the status seekers. If you listen, their conversations revolve around money. They want you to know they have a lot of it. They confuse money with status and often portray an affluent lifestyle to gain the status and social standing they’re seeking.

I’ve noticed that people with the most money or “old” money often don’t appear to have much. Sometimes those with the most money seem to have the least. You don’t hear them talk about it,   they don’t necessarily dress like it and often live modestly – usually while quietly doing much good in their community.  And, you’ll probably never overhear them talking about how much their car is worth even if they own an expensive one.

There are some things that money can’t buy – like good manners and good taste.  And money will never be a status symbol – unless you have the good breeding to go along with it.

“Love Valley”

By Julie Terry Cartner

One of my favorite places to compete in a rodeo was Love Valley, North Carolina. Located in the Brushy Mountains, this unique community boasts a population of around 100 people. Love Valley was created in 1954 by founder, Andy Barker. A construction worker in Charlotte, he wanted to get away from the rat race of life, become a cowboy, and build a Christian community. He quit his job, moved his family to a one room shack in Love Valley and fulfilled his dream.

Arriving in Love Valley is like stepping into a western movie set. The one road through town is blocked for cars; only horses and pedestrians are allowed. In keeping with the western motif, the businesses are few, just a jail, a saloon, a general store, a post office and of course, a church. Hitching posts dot the street for the convenience of the riders. The town overlooks a rodeo arena with seats cut into the hillside.

Beyond the picturesque, Love Valley never disappoints. My first visit there I saw a horseman get a ticket for driving while impaired. He was riding his horse backwards through town. Later that night, I saw two men stand back to back, walk away ten paces, turn around and shoot at each other. Luckily, both were terrible shots.

In addition to competing in the rodeos, Love Valley is a great place to trail ride; however, it is very easy to get lost. In fact, I never went there that we didn’t get lost! One of the more memorable moments was when we asked directions to get back to the arena. The reply was simple, “Go over two mountains and turn right.” Shaking our heads, we did just that and amazingly, found the road. Another time we were riding downhill. My friend’s horse managed to walk between two trees that came out of the ground like a V. The mare’s head and chest fit through the V, but her legs did not. Since she was going downhill, all her weight was on her chest leaning against the tree, and my friend could not get her to back up. We finally had to get off our horses, lock arms, and push her backwards to get her unstuck from the tree wedge.

As fun as trail riding was, competing in the rodeo was more exciting. The crowds were always big and excited. They came for a rodeo and were quick to cheer for the competitors. I won my first rodeo there, competing in the Cowgirls’ Goat Tying. Similar to calf roping, the girl races her horse to a specific spot, jumps off, catches the goat, throws it and ties it. Fastest time wins as long as the goat stays down for a designated period of time. The rodeo contractor had found a huge 200 pound billy goat with long curving horns. He was extremely aggressive and would do his best to knock the cowgirls down. After watching several of my competitors get knocked down like bowling pins, I decided to try a different tactic and ran around the opposite way of everyone else. He never saw me coming and I managed to catch him, throw him down and tie him in record time.

Of course, things didn’t always go that well. One time when I was dismounting, my foot got caught in the stirrup, and instead of landing on my feet, I went airborne, flying several yards through the air before sliding face first across the ground. The rodeo clown, always ready to get a laugh, ran out and signaled “safe!” as if I were sliding into home plate! Despite the fact that I had dirt in my eyes, mouth, hair and all down the inside of my clothes, I got up, sprinted to the goat and managed to have a respectable time. I never knew what to expect at Love Valley, but it was always an interesting experience!

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Renegade Writers Guild Requests Your Memories: Submit a favorite memory of life in Davie County to Renegade Writers Guild. Submission is to be typed and no more than 250 words.  Any entry published will receive $10, and we retain reprint rights.  Include your name, email address, and phone number and a stamped, self-addressed envelope. Mail to Stephanie Dean, 428 John Crotts Road, Mocksville, NC 27028.