The Literary Corner: Renegade Writer’s Guild

Published 10:01 am Thursday, August 8, 2019

“Technology”

By Marie Craig

We bought our first computer, a Texas Instrument, in the mid-80s.  The four of us thought we were hot stuff. I finally figured out how to save data by attaching an audio cassette player.

Then we bought a KayPro computer that was in a case almost like a portable sewing machine. Demonstrating this computer, I have a video that my husband made of me explaining what a computer was and how to use it. I actually said, “This computer is like a record player. It won’t play any music unless you have a record. This computer won’t do anything unless you put the 5.25 inch floppy with the program into this slot and another floppy into the other slot so you can save your data.”

About 10 years ago, I changed that VHS to a DVD with my magic machine that I wore out. They no longer make a machine like that.

Then a few months ago, I downloaded the DVD to my computer and changed the format to mp4, the best method for loading a video to a YouTube. I saved it onto my Google Photos app which has stored it in the cloud. I could bore you at any moment by opening this 1987 video on any computer or smartphone.

     The photos I take now are interesting and significant, but the pictures I wish I could take now are of my great grandparents. Somehow, I have acquired one likeness for each of these eight ancestors. I even have a tintype for one set of great grandparents. He died in 1907, so that’s an old photo. I imagine this is the only time these relatives ever had their pictures taken.

Imagine in this day and age that you get only one image of yourself. What age would you choose?Where would you be located? Who would be with you?

I nonchalantly took a photograph of fabric in a store recently to take home to match to the background. If it’s not right, I’ll delete it without pausing. What a different world we live in. Perhaps we have become too flippant and don’t appreciate what a marvelous age we live in.

I wish I could swap people. I’d take my great grandparents and bring them to this age and demonstrate technology. I’d choose apathetic people in our age and transfer them to life 150 years ago. I’d love to see them hoeing, sweating in the heat, walking or riding a mule everywhere, and having very little variety in their diet. I think you could cure road rage this way.

“Opportunity Passes Through”

  By Kevin Wishon

His nickname is Clever, but Charlie Clayton Burgutte is his real name, which he despises. He has heard it all. CCB, CB, Clay, Burger, Charles, and the lists go on. One day while fixing a tractor attachment, some neighbors called him clever when they saw how he had repaired the tool without buying parts. Clever loves the name because he is good at finding solutions for broken equipment. Still, he considers mechanical repair work dull. Clever instead, dreams about inventing something new and unheard of to change the world.

Each day as he daydreams, Clever thinks about life’s drudgery and imagines creating something new to simplify life. Sometimes, daydreaming gets him into trouble. Clever dismisses the consequences by assuring himself that it will one day pay off. As it turns out, three months and three days after his fourteenth birthday, a unique idea pops into Clever’s head. He feels sure it currently does not exist, and the idea will improve life. Still, one problem remains. The invention is complex, and he needs experienced help to make it a reality. Where in Mocksville, North Carolina, will he find someone willing to help a kid’s dream come true?

In August of 1918, Mocksville has plenty to do and see, but the consultants and infrastructure Clever’s idea needs are difficult to get. So, when a wildfire rumor reaches Clever’s ears, he’s overjoyed by the serendipity. Three well-known American industrialists have just driven into Mocksville’s Court Square asking for a drink of water. One of the three men is an inventor of renown. Another is the founder of a large American motorcar company and the third, the founder of a tire and rubber company. Deep inside, Clever knows this is no coincidence. This opportunity is what he needs to bring his idea to the world. All he must do is get to the Square, push through the bystanders, and get one of these men’s attention. Believing it to be his future, Clever rushes to the Square. Comically, the obstacles he will encounter along the way will challenge his surety.

“Old-School Medicine”

By Gaye Hoots

My father grew up during the Depression years, and perhaps that is what shaped his views of necessary medical treatment. One of the earliest stories I remember is when he had a throat infection so severe it interfered with his farm work. I was a small child then. He drove himself to Mocksville and saw Dr. Long, who removed Dad’s tonsils in his office. Dad drove himself  back to the farm in Advance after the surgery.

Dad was overweight and had degenerative disc disease. This was aggravated by heavy farm work, lifting bales of hay, and other chores. He had several back surgeries, but would delay getting the surgery until he was no longer able to get out of bed. Once he stopped in Yadkinville and saw a doctor there who was very old. I am not sure he was still practicing medicine, but when Dad stopped at his house, he was home.

The story Dad told was that the doc picked up a large bore syringe, drew up liquids from at least three different bottles. The shot was excruciatingly painful and remained so for weeks. It was so painful it dulled the pain in his back. It eventually necrosed, and some of the hip tissue sloughed off.

Once he went to the Farmington Medical Clinic and saw a nurse practicioner, whom he had gone to elementary school with. She told him she would give him a shot. He began to roll up his sleeve when she said, “I know a prettier spot than that. Drop your pants.”

Dad complied and asked, “Do you think you can find a spot to put that needle?” “Mr. Hoots, I could land an airplane back here” was her reply.

On another occasion Dad had a sore throat and was giving antibiotic shots to his cows. The men assisting him said he drew up a shot of the antibiotic and injected himself in the hip with the same syringe he used on his cows. I hope he sterilized it first. He did not have any side effects to my knowledge.

The most vivid memory of his medical issues came in his later life, after he was diagnosed with diabetes. I was going out of town to a nursing workshop and checked on him before I left. His right big toe was inflamed, so I asked him to make a doctor appointment. He didn’t think that was necessary. “If you get red streaks going out from the toe it could be blood poisoning, so see a doctor,” I warned.

When I returned home a few days later, he was sitting at the dinner table with his right foot resting on a stool. He was eating a large piece of Mom’s blackberry pie. I saw the foot was heavily bandaged and asked about it.

“I got the red streaks you warned me about and went to the doctor. He told me the toe had to come off and he would put me in the hospital to do the surgery. I told him I was not going to the hospital and that if he wanted to take it off then and there he could; otherwise, I was going home.”

I could not believe that a doctor would take the risk of doing the surgery in his office and then let him drive home alone, but there sat the proof.

“Hollywood – Smart or Not?”

By S.L. Keller

I consider myself lucky. Growing up a child of the 50’s afforded me the education of a lifetime, yet I did not recognize it for many years. Life was simple, uncomplicated for a youngster living in a small town, and daydreaming was one of the pleasures. It was free, extremely personal, and could be done anywhere, anytime, even in church, for which I admit my guilt. Fuel for daydreams was everywhere, in print, on the radio, television or in the movies. The must have magazines, Sixteen or TV Radio Mirror, found on most every girls’ nightstand, escalated my desire to escape the simple life. Sleepovers became planning sessions, as we girls were convinced the smart move was going to Hollywood where dreams come true.

Wishing for Annette Funicello’s  pink bedroom, complete with a round bed, became my constant obsession. The bed looked ominous, as if staying in the middle might be difficult, but periodically falling off would be a small price to pay for stardom. I had managed somehow to wrangle a stuffed pink poodle from an admirer at the county fair, and spent hours positioning it just right on my pillow, just like Annette’s’ When I get to Hollywood, I mused, I will have a pink round bed if nothing else. The big problem was how to get there, and other than hitch-hiking; the route to stardom would take money, hard work and even more, lots of luck.

I understood the demands of hard work, as most of my friends came from blue-collar families. Money was never to be wasted, but tithing every Sunday was an unspoken rule, giving back to the One who had given us so much to be thankful for. Church played such a vital role in our small community. Many times it felt as if we were just one big family. A person might become very ill, unable to take care of responsibilities, but  invariably, someone would show up to cut the hay, or take care of the children. People looked out for each other with genuine caring and respect. Work like that was never done for money, but you could always count on a meal waiting as a gesture of appreciation and gratitude.

Homecoming on the church grounds was the social event of the year. Covered tables were set end to end, stretching out for what seemed like a mile, laden with more food than I had ever seen. Every woman in church arrived carrying “just a little something” they “threw together,” but which was always cooked to perfection. All ages, babes in arms to great-grand parents, gathered in one place, to give thanks, sharing more than food. I learned a great deal listening to people at those gatherings. I heard about success and many failures, coming to an early realization that accomplishments and fame are earned, not freely given.

With money being the basic driving force behind advancing in today’s’ world, I ponder on what it really takes to become a star? The daydream of discovery while sitting at a lunch counter is a cruel illusion. To become a star, one is assumed to be smart, have indescribable magnetism, be extremely talented with marketable looks, as one must not just be liked, but absolutely loved by millions worldwide. Months turn into years, as the would-be star struggles to gain acceptance in that most exclusive club, and from the public who will pave their way to fame. Work becomes never-ending, as one project succeeds and the next one fails. Constantly being scrutinized, criticized, photographed at the most inopportune times, the rising star sacrifices self for the masses.

When is that magic moment they cross from “just rising” to actual stardom? It’s all about the money, box office receipts, concert attendance, book sales, record sales, public appearances, tours, contracts and endorsements. Unfortunately, the determining variable, which proceeds success or failure, always remains, lurking in the background like a paranormal shadow. Everything is dependent or whether or not the public likes you and keeps liking you.

Hollywood has a history of devouring good people. Those who arrived with morals, good intentions, a conscience and convictions about their beliefs become subjected to the pressures of acceptance. They bend to the sacrifices, the separation from family, the expectation to maintain a certain look, gambling everything on the buying public to love them for a long time. They rise to stardom on the fabricated illusion of who they are.

Valuing the hard earned, regular paycheck, and endless hours required to earn it, I am mystified that even one person would use the platform of “stardom” to disrespect the beliefs of half the country. Has the illusion of who they believe themselves to be clouded their ability to do simple math? Potentially, losing fifty per-cent of their fan base equals loosing half their income, equals a rapidly “falling star.” Subtraction is learned in kindergarten. My elementary school education strikes a chord here.

I believe in the freedom of speech, but is making disparaging comments, just because you can by having attained the spotlight on the world’s stage worth risking your life’s work, your livelihood? What is there to gain when you have everything to lose? A wise man once said “Pick your battles.” The smart person would interpret this as “don’t pick a fight you are destined to lose.”

I am embarrassed by some of the “stars” I tried to emulate, those who I paid to see and bought their books or records. I am disappointed at those whom I felt possessed a high level of integrity, but failed to rise above the “cloned Hollywood rhetoric.” I am thankful that my dreams of Hollywood never materialized due to living in a small town that taught me about respect, and for a country church that provided a foundation on which I keep my feet firmly planted.  As the brightness of those “stars” dim, and slowly fade away, I only have one thought, who was really the smart one?

• For more information on Renegade Writers Guild, visit https://renegadewritersguild.wordpress.com.  Renegade Writers Guild requests your memories. Please submit a favorite memory of life in Davie County. Submission is to be typed and no more than 250 words. Please include your name and phone number.  RWG retains reprint rights.  Email to lhb1@yadtel.net.