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The Literary Corner: Renegade Writer’s Guild

Photography, 1924

By Marie Craig

[Page 11 of Mary Ellen’s Diary, 1924 by Marie Craig]

Crawford’s Drug Store put an advertisement for a camera in the newspaper recently.  In the ad, there was a photograph of a man using a camera to take a picture of a cow.  I couldn’t figure out why anybody would want a picture of a cow, but I guess somebody would. My neighbor works at Crawford’s Drug Store. Last Saturday, I went in there when there were very few customers, and I asked him to tell me about this camera and how it works.

I wrote this down because it was hard to remember. It’s a Kodak Folding Autographic Brownie No. 2-A and takes film A 116 that costs 60 cents for 12 pictures. He opened the box, and we read the directions together. The little booklet of instructions was 31 pages, but we skimmed it. It had pictures of how to load the roll of film without letting the light ruin the film. This is how you do it. You take the camera apart and then load the film into the back part in a shady spot. Then you put the camera back together. When the film is loaded, you can wind it to the correct spot by looking at the numbers in the little circle on the back. You can set the speed to instantaneous or bulb. Then you set how much the lens is open for the light to expose the film. Next you focus by setting it at 8, 25, or 100 feet by pulling out the folded part of the camera, a little bit like playing an accordian. Finally, you press the push-pin of the cable release to take a picture.

It’s called an autographic camera because there’s a tiny door on the back that you can open between taking pictures. You use the little writing stick to record how the camera was set or who’s in the picture. The other neat thing is that you can buy a Flash-light to attach for use at night. This is a sheet of paper that goes into a holder. You strike a match to the paper and the light it produces lets you take a picture when it’s dark outside. You can use more than one at a time if it’s real dark.

Then you take the roll of film to Crawford’s Drug Store and they send it off to have the film developed and the pictures printed. Or if you have a darkroom, you can do this at home.

He said that Kodak also makes a movie camera but he didn’t think anybody in Mocksville would buy one. He hopes lots of people will get cameras and take pictures of family and buildings in Mocksville.

I’m sure my dad won’t buy one, but it was fun to learn how it works. That was nice of him to show me. Maybe I can get one someday.

First Snow

By Julie Terry Cartner

First times are special. We experience many firsts in our lives, but some stand out more than others. For me, the first I will always remember was my first snow.

When I was a child, my dad was a farmer. Unfortunately, small farms struggled to stay financially afloat, so Dad farmed in New York, our home, in the spring and summer, and in Florida in the late fall and winter. As a result, until I was ten, we lived in Florida in the winter; hence, no snow.

I loved snow, at least theoretically. I wrote poems about it. I read poems about it. One of my favorites was John Greenleaf Whittier’s poem, “Snowbound.” I dreamt of what it would be like to be snowed in, to have only the fireplace for heat, and to have to dig our way out of the house. In my child’s mind, nothing could be better than that. But alas, my chances of seeing snow in South Florida were nonexistent.

Finally, when I was 10, Dad was offered a farming opportunity full time back in our hometown. I was thrilled to be moving back to the place I loved, and it didn’t take me long to realize I’d finally get to see snow. What could be better than that!

As the fall days got colder, I’d wake up every day in anticipation of seeing those first flakes come drifting out of the sky.  I was faked out by my first frost; sure, it was snow, but sadly it wasn’t. I was thrilled when “Jack Frost” drew patterns of ice all over the storm windows of the house in spectacular, sparkling designs, but still no snow.  It seemed that everyone was on snow watch for me. Teachers would come by and point out the potential snow clouds, and as the temperatures dropped repeatedly into the freezing category, my anticipation mounted.

Some things in life don’t live up to your expectations. You build them up until they can’t possibly be as good as you hope they will be. This was not the case. I was working at my desk when my teacher, Mr. Boerum, tapped me on the shoulder, then, putting his finger to his lips in the universal language of shhh, he pointed to the windows. I looked out and saw the magic of falling flakes for the first time. I watched them, first drifting slowly, then falling faster and more furiously as the snowfall became more intent. He handed me my coat and told me to go outside.

When I slipped through the big front doors, I was greeted by the wonder of winter. I twirled around in circles, catching snowflakes on my tongue. Soon there was enough snow for me to make my very first snow angel. I made and threw my first snowball. And then I just stood in awe watching the crystalline flakes drop silently out of the sky. The silence held me in its thrall; I had never experienced anything like it, and truly it was the stillness, the peacefulness of the snow that I will always remember.

As I walked home that afternoon, I looked forward to playing in the snow, and later, sipping hot chocolate by the fireplace. My mother knew my book-fueled fantasies and did her best to make them come true. All that was missing were the roasting chestnuts.

Before that winter was over, I’d done it all – sledding down the biggest hills in town, building snow-forts and having epic snowball fights and, of course, making snow cream. We’d had blizzards and had been snowed in. Once we even had to climb out the second-floor windows to get out of the house. We tied a rope from the house to the chicken coop so we wouldn’t get lost during blizzards, and my sister and I had tunneled through snow so deep that we could actually walk upright through them, entranced by the way the sunlight created magical rainbows through the ice crystals.

Many years have passed since my first snowfall, but every winter I feel the same anticipation. As the first flakes fall from the skies, I am never disappointed.

What We Need

By Gaye Hoots

Recently I spent several days with my three-year-old granddaughters and observed the range of their behaviors and emotions. They are fiercely independent, insisting, “I can do it myself; let me do it. I am a big girl.” They are learning to do many things for themselves, mastering a new skill each day. We have to monitor them carefully because they attempt to do some things that they have not learned. When things don’t go their way, or they are tired, they ask you to meet their needs. “Hold me, hold me; I am still little, hold me.”

Adults are reluctant to ask for this kind of help or support. When things are going well, we feel we need very little from anyone else. If things fall apart, we are much like the twins, in desperate need of support, but usually too proud to ask for it. Most of us have families, friends, and church connections who recognize our needs and offer help. Not everyone is that fortunate.

Many in this world grew up in homes that did not nurture or offer support. They are abused as babies and throughout their lives. As a psychiatric nurse, I have worked with people who never had anything positive in their lives. Most of these survive the damage, live with the depression and sadness, and don’t harm others, but this is not always the case. Daily news programs tell the stories of those who choose to harm others. There are various motives for their behaviors. Sometimes they want relief from the pressure of their own sadness and anger.

I viewed an example of this on a video. An angry young man enters a convenience store where several people are shopping. He does not attempt to rob the store. He levels his handgun at the cashier, striking her in the head, and then shoots the person closest to him. The customers run screaming toward the back of the store, where there is a storage room leading to a back door. The shooter is only a few feet from a young man running to the back of the store. As the runner approaches a cross-aisle, a young girl no older than four years, toddles out in front of him. The runner stops in front of the shooter, drops to his knees, and covers the child with his body.

The shooter stops and looks at the man and lowers his weapon. He does not attempt to shoot anyone else but starts toward the storage room. On his way out of the store, he encounters a female employee who for unknown reasons had not run outside. He does not point the weapon at her, but she watches the gun as he asks her where the back door is. She indicates the outside door, and he runs out.

     I believe police killed him on the street with the gun in his hand. I don’t know what triggered the deadly rage that brought him into the store and prompted him to shoot two or three people point blank. The man who risked his own life to protect a child helped to dissipate the gunman’s rage. The shooter may never have witnessed that kind of love and sacrifice before, but it flipped a switch. He understood it and respected it.

RWG Literary Corner

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