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The Literary Corner: Renegade Writer’s Guild

“Our Generation”

By Gaye Hoots

We were a lucky generation even with the dark shadow of the Vietnam War and the memory of those we lost in it. When we were born, most families could feed their kids by working hard, and they instilled that same work ethic in their kids. The whole community functioned to keep the children safe and busy. Today we discussed bullying, something we rarely, if ever, saw. Not all the kids got to participate if extra expense or transportation were required, but we were taught to be empathetic and to help where we could.

I had no desire to belittle anyone, and if I had, my dad would have punished me, and been disappointed in me. Our schools were small, so the teachers knew the families by name, and were aware of family circumstances. We knew the kids who got the free lunches but did not punish them. We were grateful it was not us. We knew they had no choice about their circumstances. No child went without food.

We looked up to and respected our teachers because they earned our respect. There were some with problems of their own, but only a few compared to today. My family has had mostly positive experiences with the school system, but some recent headlines have made us aware that the times are changing.

When we graduated from school, there were work opportunities that provided a comfortable lifestyle for those able and willing to work. Today it is harder for young people to find this. It is true they are used to a style of living they may find it hard to provide for themselves. Getting a college education may involve an enormous amount of student loans with hefty interest rates.

Many churches have a diminishing population. Church and school comprised our social life growing up. Today kids have many opportunities to participate in activities; some are helpful; some are not. Parents both work outside the home, giving them less contact with their children and their children’s friends, and less knowledge about their children’s activities.

The political climate is more hostile and aggressive. Much energy is expended expressing personal views and arguing politics. Your child’s future depends more on what they live with and the values they see displayed by their parents than it does with which political party is in office. I may be a bit cynical, but I believe that regardless of which party is in office, or which program or platform in implemented, the rich will find a way to exploit it and the working class will pay for it.

“Unsung Hero”

By Kevin F. Wishon

It’s a bright, sunny day in the municipal park of Lisbon. The usual flow of families and young lovers walk by Juan Pujol Garcia as he sits on a park bench reading the local newspaper. War-related events cover the front page, but he considers this old news. He, instead, mentally rehearses the mix of truths, half-truths, and outright lies he is planning to feed the German High Command shortly. Hearing approaching footsteps, Juan buries his face deep in the centerfold of the late May edition of Diário de Notícias and waits. Momentarily, a shadow darkens the newspaper, and someone sits down next to Juan. Without reacting, he keeps the paper raised, ignoring the person sitting next to him. After some time, the individual relaxes. “Hello, Alaric.”

Juan recognizes his German code name but pauses before answering. Here at the height of the war, he isn’t going to make the error of appearing to be too eager.

“Very well, my friend, and how goes the war?” Juan stares at a section of text inside the newspaper centerfold calmly waiting for the German agent’s reply.

“That, my friend, depends on what news you have for us,” the agent replied.

“Yes, I have news. Are you not expecting unwelcome guests in France?”

“You have information about this?” the agent asks.

“My trusted network never fails to provide us with valuable information.”

Knowing Alaric has supplied Germany with valuable intelligence in the past, the agent accepts Alaric’s answer without question. “Please continue.”

“My contacts tell me the invasion will occur on two different occasions beginning on the sixth day of June. The first will be at the Strait of Dover. But this is a ruse. The second and true invasion will occur at Pas de Calais. Your observers will see troop and artillery movements in many locations along the British coastline. Do not let this deceive you. Pas de Calais is the intended target, and it must be defended.”

  “Is your contact certain of the accuracy of this information?”

“As certain as they can be as of this moment. I will notify you of any changes via coded radio transmission beginning the fifth day of June.”

“Our appreciation to you and your network, for this information. We will not forget your efforts and support for our cause. Good day, Alaric.” Juan feels a slight breeze as the agent departs from the bench.

“I hope not,” Juan mutters to himself. The British and Americans are counting on it.

What makes a hero? What keeps them going when others would turn back? Apparently, for one Spaniard, his distaste of fascism, Communism, and Nazism surpassed his fears. Even when others doubted his ability, the double agent Juan Pujol Garcia, proved his worth. He became instrumental in manipulating the German War Machine from the inside with no suspicion of treachery from his Nazi handlers. In 1944, he was awarded both the German Iron Cross and the MBE – (Most Excellent Order of the British Empire). After WWII ended, the Germans still considered Juan Pujol Garcia, a loyal spy. The Nazis never realized he had deceived them with a complete work of fiction: a network of German spies that actually never existed.

“Travel While You Can”

By Marie Craig

Bill and I married in 1965 in the midst of the Vietnam War.  He was in the Marine Reserves, so it was a frightful time of wondering how much time we would have together.  Luckily, we had almost 30 years, but we didn’t know that at the beginning of our marriage.

Bill had monthly reserve meetings in Raleigh, 280 miles from our home in Brevard.  I was teaching math, and when the school year was over, he got permission to skip a reserve meeting.  We traveled West in his VW bug with all our camping gear.  We drove 8000 miles in 4 weeks.  It was a long ride, but it gave us an opportunity to get to know each other better and to cope with riding long distances each day and sleeping in a tent almost every night.  We were forced to cooperate and help each other to make the trip successful and pleasant.  I feel like this experience helped us to have a happy, thoughtful future together.

We visited many national parks, Disneyland, Mount Rushmore, California friends, and his grandmother in Milwaukee.  We drove in the snow in June and roasted in the flatlands with hot sunshine and no air conditioning in the VW.  He was a forester, so we collected specimens of various tree cones.  In my scrapbook, I have a United States map with hand drawn route.  I wrote my mother in great detail about our trip.  I borrowed these letters when we returned and typed them on my typewriter.  Reading these again now, I realize how great it was to have all these experiences.  In Harmony, Indiana, a policeman insisted we get in his police car, and he gave us a tour of the town where we were camping.  This is my only experience in riding in a police car, thank goodness.  My log mentions riding over the Golden Gate Bridge and eating on Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco.  I’m glad I have notes about our trip, for I have now forgotten many of these special things.

In 1989, Bill, my younger son, and I flew to Sicily to bring our older son back from his two- year church mission there.  While there we traveled for several weeks.  Two years later, Bill and I went to England and Scotland.  Two years after that he died.

I hear people say, “When we retire, we’re going to travel and see the world.”  My advice is to go now.  The future is uncertain, so savor the time right now.

“Is That Enough”

By Stephanie Williams Dean

Celebrating our first Christmas together, my husband, Joe, and I exchanged gifts. After I opened my last present, one of several lovely gifts, he asked me, “Is that enough?”

Joe wanted to make sure he had spent enough on me or purchased enough gifts for me – a carryover from a past relationship.

Each gift I opened was more than generous. But deeper than that, the love and respect he showed me were the best gifts he had given me.  So the simple answer to his question was yes.

Today, Joe’s words still echo in my ears. “Is that enough?”

From a spiritual perspective, the answer is no.  Without my strong relationship with God, there is no number of gifts that could ever satisfy me.  No matter how many beautiful presents I might receive, they would never be enough – without God in my life.   If I didn’t recognize the power of the presence of the Holy Spirit within me, my life would be much like a hollow, empty shell.

Because God is deeply fulfilling, I already have all I need, and all I need is already enough. One can be caught up in all that is shiny and gold, but if you’re not caught up in a relationship with your maker, there’s just no amount of money, gifts, or material goods that will ever be enough to satisfy.

RWG Literary Corner

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