The Literary Corner: Renegade Writer’s Guild

Published 11:09 am Thursday, June 20, 2019

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

“Memories of Mocksville”

By Linda H. Barnette

I was born in 1941 and grew up in Mocksville in what I would call “the best of times.”  Mocksville then really was a small town where everybody knew everybody else.  There were three main churches in town then, First Methodist, First Baptist, and First Presbyterian.  My parents were members of First Baptist and were active in the life there.  Mother taught a children’s Sunday school class, and daddy was in the men’s group and was the church treasurer for many years. We went to church on Sunday morning, Sunday evening, and Wednesday evening. I also personally always enjoyed Vacation Bible School because it gave me the opportunity to be with other children for a whole week. We usually celebrated the end of Bible School and also had church picnics at Rich Park. Keep in mind that these were sweet times when children really could be children—not busy with all kinds of activities and electronic devices.  Thus, anything different from the daily routine was exciting.

I did, however, take piano lessons from Miss Louise Stroud for many years and enjoyed playing the piano.  So it seemed obvious that Miss Louise asked me to play for the Sunday evening services just to give her a break.  My parents thought it was a good idea, so I learned to play the popular Baptist hymns.  On Sunday evenings, Mrs. Ruth Jones led the singing, and I accompanied.

Then when I was 13, our church organist, Mrs. Claude Horn, passed away, leaving only Miss Louise to play except when I did on Sunday evenings.  She decided that I could help her out; therefore, she taught me how to play the organ, and we spent every lesson practicing preludes, postludes, and pieces for the choir to sing on Sundays.  Until I went to college, I continued to assist her and alternated the Sunday services with her so that I could also sing in the choir.  As an adult, I have often wondered what I would have done musically had it not been for those particular circumstances.  On the other hand, I have enjoyed my music a great deal.  Some of the happiest times in my memory are of my family standing around the piano singing the great old hymns of the church.  My dad’s favorite was “When the Roll is Called Up Yonder.”

Altogether, some of my best times were at FBC, especially since several of my best friends went there too.  I’m eternally grateful to my parents for making church a habit for me.  Everywhere I have lived, Salisbury, Knoxville, Charlotte, Fayetteville, and back home, I have searched for and found churches to join and contribute to.  In good times and bad, my faith has sustained me thus far. Still today, Sunday is a day set aside to do church activities, or as I sometimes do, watch a live stream service on my computer or listen to one on my radio.

When I was young, Sundays were strictly family days.  We always went to Sunday school and preaching and then to my dad’s parents for lunch.  My grandmother cooked on a woodstove, and I remember that her kitchen was always a beehive of activity that I managed to escape because I had no interest in cooking or eating.  After lunch, we all piled into Daddy’s car and drove to the Potts home on 801 right above Concord Methodist Church.  The women would talk and visit inside, and the men would go outside to roll their cigarettes and smoke and talk.  They often pitched horseshoes and played croquet, and being bored and often the only young person in the group, I played with them and became good at both.  After we took my grandparents back home, we went back to the evening service at FBC.

Even though the way we lived might be boring to children of today, I think that the simple life gave me an opportunity to know my family members well, to cherish the values I learned both at home and church, and to love nature and the outdoors.  I am thankful for the childhood that I had.

“History of Books”

By N. R. Tucker

There was a time – not that long ago – when books were for the wealthy. Today, there are nearly 130 million books available for your reading pleasure. Audiobooks, digital books, and paper books are at various stages of affordable, and libraries are also readily available. How did we arrive at a world full of books?

It started in 3500 BCE. The Sumerians of Mesopotamia are credited with the first attempts to place symbols on material that could be transported from place to place. Thought to be the first people to use the earliest known written system, they etched cuneiform symbols onto clay tablets. The tablets dried naturally or were fired in a kiln to ensure the longest possible life.

The earliest surviving papyrus scrolls date to around 2400 BCE in Egypt’s Fifth Dynasty. Made from the papyrus plant, the center of the stem was cut into thin strips, pressed together, and glued before being left to dry. Only then could it be written on. Either a calamus or bird feather was used as a writing implement. The Greeks and Romans adopted this technique only after the Egyptians had used it for hundreds of years. The papyrus was rolled and stored in wooden tubes. Books were produced by gluing together several scrolls.

Around 600 BCE, the Mediterranean cultures developed a left to right system of writing that is now the standard in western cultures. Before this, writing occurred in any direction: left to right, right to left, up to down, and down to up. Five hundred years later, China heralded the paper revolution and is credited with inventing papermaking. Five hundred years after that, the first illustrated handwritten manuscripts appeared. Without the efforts of monastic scribes from the 3rd to 7th centuries, the entire collection of Greek and Roman literature would have perished.

Although block printing was used on cloth as early as 220 CE, it would be another 600 years before the first book was printed in China. A block of wood, with characters carved in reverse, was covered in ink and placed on the paper to create a print. Multiple colors could be achieved by using one block for each color. Moveable type was also created by the Chinese. Initially, wood was used to create the individual characters, but ink soaked into the wood, and the move to ceramic (baked clay) happened quickly. During the Goryeo Dynasty, Korea created moveable metal type. Finally, in 1377, the first movable metal print book was published.

In 1439, a German named Gutenberg, developed moveable type technology independent of the system used in Asia. The first noteworthy book he printed was the Gutenberg Bible of which 21 complete copies are still in existence.

Italic type was invented by an Italian. He also established the modern use of the semicolon and introduced inexpensive small format books in 1501. His books were the precursor to the modern-day paperback, allowing gentlemen of leisure to easily transport a book in a pocket or satchel. The italic type was not used for emphasis as it is today, but for pocket books due to the narrow and compact letter forms. Virgil’s “Opera” was the first book formatted in this manner.

Puritans brought the first printing press to North America in 1639 and used it to print the first book in the colonies, a volume containing the books of Psalms. Eleven copies still exist.

In 1744 chlorine was used to bleach paper, giving paper books their clean white look. Book sleeves, printed detachable paper jackets, arrived on the book scene in 1832 and remained largely unchanged for sixty years. A pulp (mass market) book was called “penny dreadful” in Britain and “dime novels” in America.

Affordable hardback books were available to readers in 1920. As a result, the hardback replaced the paperback as the preferred style of book to purchase. Paperbacks, even when the same book was offered in both, were considered poor quality. In 1945 Penguin turned that around by provided paperbacks of classic works, like Homer’s Odyssey.

In the 1980s books became available on cassette and then CD, making audio books a thing. E-books joined the publishing options in 2000.

Regardless of form, enjoy the fact that affordable books are available to teach you something new or transport you to places both real and imagined.

“Dancing through the Doors of Life”

By Julie Terry Cartner

She sits, pink glitter shoes dancing in her chair, eyes bright with animation, the smile of remembered times glowing on her aged cheeks as she listens to Elvis croon, “All Shook Up.” Not a singing song so much as a dancing song, her hips sway to the beat, but it’s the pink sparkly shoes that command my attention.  They tell me the sixteen-year-old girl is still there inside the venerable woman. They tell me, despite her age and circumstances, she still embraces life. Although to longer able to move as her body once did, she has not forgotten how to dance, and dance she does.  Her feet tapping out the rhythm, they almost move of their own volition. She has danced before.

Beside her, a man similarly ensconced in a wheelchair also dances to the beat. He, in 1960’s tye-dye, swings his arms to the beat, as the rhythm of the music carries him into his forgotten past. A smile lights up his face while his arms, shoulders and chest follow age-old rhythms requiring no conscious thought. I look at eyes vacant of memories but sparkling with the joy of dancing, clearly, a universal language that knows no strangers.

Did they know each other, this man and this woman? Of similar ages and locale, did they once bop to the beat of Elvis, Little Richard, Bill Haley and His Comets or Chuck Berry? Did they once share a dance, a kiss, an embrace? Did they once attend Davie High football games, sit beside each other in senior English, or share a night to remember at the prom? Or were they total strangers, never meeting until they entered this last phase of their lives? Regardless, at this moment, they bond with the joy of dance.

When our performance is over, I speak to her, and she tells me of hot summer days, long summer nights and love. She tells me of her family, her marriage, her children. They’re all gone now. She is all who is left, and all that remains for her are her memories. She is safe and cared for in the nursing home, and she has strong reminiscences, powerful enough to pull out one at a time and explore, remember, share and kiss good-bye. She is lucky, she tells me, because her life was good and rich and filled with everything she ever wanted. “Age,” she tells me, “is a blessing and a curse. It takes away so much, so many who have gone on before, but it leaves you with enough memories to keep you warm on long, lonely days.” She thanks me for coming to entertain her for a section of her day, and she looks forward to seeing us again next month.

And then I speak to him. He has no memories, other than the ones his mind refuses to release. He can’t tell me of families, a wife or children, but he remembers the beat of the music and how to move in time with the endless rhythms of life. He is joyful, embracing each day as a new adventure, no burden of past memories weighing him down. He thanks me for coming, then I see his mind dismiss me, already forgetting what he has just seen. When we return in a month, he won’t remember that I’ve been there before, and as he watches us dance, his body swaying in reciprocal motion, he will experience us once more as a uniquely new experience.

Who is blessed? She, who remembers or he, who forgets? Perhaps both receive blessings in their own ways. What I do know is that I am blessed – to be able to dance, and share my love of dancing with others. To be able to follow a beat with steps that come, almost unconsciously, as I move across the floor, is a joyous thing, and to see that joy reflected in others creates an unbreakable bond, a timeless bond that bridges gaps of generations, life’s experiences, and memories. I’m blessed each time someone talks to me after we dance because I have opened, if only for a moment, a door into their past, and I have welcomed them through my door, all through the power of dance.

“We Live Too Long”

By Stephanie Williams Dean

I visited with a man at the hospital last week who told me I might not agree with him, but he believed people lived too long. About 65 years old was a good year to check on out of life.  The man was in bed, non-ambulatory, and felt he was useless to society. I inquired about whether he had a family – and he said he did, but they never visited him.

“When your kids get older, they have their own lives and are no longer interested in you.”

“Well God knows you, and He’s still very interested in you,” I shared.

My heart breaks for older adults with health issues who have a family but are all alone.

For more information on Renegade Writers Guild, please go to

Renegade Writers Guild Requests Your Memories: Please submit a favorite memory of life in Davie County to Renegade Writers Guild at email address Submission is to be typed and no more than 250 words.  Any entry published will receive $10, and we retain reprint rights.  Include your full name, email address, mailing address, and phone number.