The Literary Corner: Renegade Writer’s Guild

Published 10:03 am Thursday, February 20, 2020

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“Planting Seeds”

By Linda H. Barnette

My grandmother, Blanche Dwiggins Smith, was my hero. She was four-foot-ten and had white hair that was never cut but worn in a bun at the back of her head. Until old age prevented travel, she went to the beauty shop every week and had her hair arranged in what ladies at that time called “finger waves.”  Even though I never saw her hair down, I was in awe of it and always wondered how long it was.

I grew up across the street from her and visited her daily.  Mama, as we called her, was a farm girl who moved to Mocksville with my grandfather in 1920.  She raised seven children and also did all the necessary farm work. In the 1940’s they had their own little farm here in town with cows, chickens, and pigs along with a large vegetable garden, and my favorite, a spring house down on the little stream behind their house.  I can still see her chasing chickens around the back yard, eventually catching them, wringing their necks, and chopping their heads off. They also slaughtered the animals, and one of my most vivid memories is of walking next door to Mama’s dad’s house and seeing a hog hanging outside the smokehouse.  That made me physically ill, and I did not eat pork for a long time.

Mama was also a great cook.  I especially enjoyed her sugar cookies and her chocolate pies with meringue on top. Since Mother worked outside the home and did not have time for baking, my grandmother always satisfied my sweet tooth.  Until I was in my late 30’s, she made me a large sugar cookie at the end of each batch of dough. This was an advantage of living across the street! Although we have the recipe, nobody’s sugar cookies have ever turned out like hers.

In her spare time, she loved to garden.  She had lots of absolutely beautiful flowers and flowering bushes.  She started the flowers off from seeds that she planted in little cups until they were ready to go into the ground.  My favorites were her lilies of the valley right beside the back door and her pale pink peonies in various spots in the yard.  She also had beautiful irises and roses as well as an ash tree and others whose names I do not remember. She worked in her flowers even when she was in her 90’s.

Something that she planted in me was a love of family history.  She told me stories about her family members, things they did, how they looked and so on.  She once commented that her great-grandfather, who was a preacher, could “put up some pretty prayers.”  Her collection of family keepsakes was not large, but it was impressive.  She had two deeds from 1813 signed by John Boone, Daniel’s cousin, for land that her ancestors had purchased from him, which included part of the original Boone land grant. She also had various other deeds, letters, ledgers, and pictures.    My favorite keepsake is a daguerreotype that she gave me of one of her grandmother’s uncles who was killed in the Civil War. She did not remember who he was, just that he was one of her Leach relatives. My aunt inherited the Boone deeds and donated them to the history collection of our local library, so they are forever safe.  I have the daguerreotype also in a safe place both in my home and in my heart.

Mama also had the original membership book for Center United Methodist Church, which her great-grandfather helped to organize around the time of the Civil War.  It contains the list of both the white members and the slaves.  In 1980 my aunt presented that book to the church as was my grandmother’s wish, and it is safe on their premises now.

Since I retired from teaching in 2004, I have spent endless hours doing extensive research on her parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents and have put my research into written narratives of their stories. Through the process of elimination, I have discovered that the face in the daguerreotype belongs to one John Leach, who died in the Battle of Chancellorsville in 1862.  She would be pleased to know that!!  With my work I honor her.

In my imagination she and I are once more sitting in the swing on her front porch talking about those folks whom she knew and loved.  We would be eating sugar cookies and splitting a Coca-Cola, as we did so many other times.  She might even literally let her hair down!

“Canned Corn in the Cellar”

By Kevin F. Wishon

Evie waited most of the day to make a phone call to her sister. When the chores were complete, she sat in her favorite chair, picked up the phone handset, and waited for the party line to clear. Then, Evie heard someone on the party line making a complaint to local law enforcement. This will take a while, Evie thought, and pulled the phone from her ear just as she heard her home address stated. Drawing the handset tight against her ear, Evie listened intently as the law officer read the address back to the caller.

     “Now, that was 5694 Big Oaks Lane. Is that correct?”

“Yes. That’s it,” said the caller.

“Ok. We’ll have the fellas visit and see if they find anything. We are much obliged for the information.”

When Evie heard her home address given over the phone, she stood up. Now, she sank into the chair with weakness in her legs. What can they possibly want with us?

Five minutes later, the screen door opened, and Evie stepped into the hallway to see who had entered. It was her husband.

“Ernest, come here. I need to tell you something!”

“Can it wait?”

“No. We have a problem.”

Evie shared the conversation she had overheard on the phone with Ernest. She wondered aloud about who would call the law on them. Turning to Ernest, Evie asked him who he thought might be reporting them.

“It doesn’t matter right now,” he said. “Do me a favor. Go next door and ask Al and his two boys to come over. I need some help out back of the house. Don’t worry. I’ll deal with the law when they get here.”

Evie thought Ernest was working in the barn that day, but instead of asking further questions, she left to get the neighbors.

Fifteen minutes later, Evie returned leading Al and his adult sons to the rear of the residence. Behind the house, a spectacle surprised her. Ernest, with two other family members, labored to remove hidden corrugated boxes from their root cellar. The boxes were stacked carefully in the bed of an old Ford truck her brother-in-law owned. Without question, Al and company joined the group and finished loading the last of the boxes. Then, the truck bed was thoroughly covered. As the pickup pulled away with the secured load, Ernest hollered his thanks to the departing neighbors. Evie patiently waited until everyone was out of earshot.

“So, what was that about?” Evie asked with hands on her hips.

“Oh, my brother ran out of room at his house, so he asked me to store some canned corn for him in the root cellar. I was just returning it to him.”

“Uh, hmm. I see,” Evie said, pausing. “So, that’s what you’re calling it these days!”

“Random of Sovereign?”

By Stephanie Williams Dean

A friend commented to me that she doesn’t believe that anything is “meant to be.” Later while thinking about that statement, I should have asked her to clarify what she meant because if one believes in the sovereignty of God, then much is meant to be.

In the book of Paul, the sovereignty of God, as a concept, dominates his writings. Among the terms Paul uses that emphasize this concept is the word, predestine. Predestined means to mark out with a boundary beforehand. Out of the six times the word, predestine, is used in the New Testament, five of those are found in the epistles of Paul.  He indicates that your salvation was rooted in eternity past through God’s predestination.

Another word, foreknow, means to know beforehand, to take note, to fix the regard upon. This word emphasizes an active relationship between one who foreknows and those who are foreknown and not just foresight.

The word, elect or choose, means to call out. God chose the believer in eternity past, and His choice indicates He chose believers for himself. God’s Adoption of us resulted from God’s predestination of believers in eternity past.

Finally, being called is the call of God to salvation, and is the call from God that enables a person to believe. Being called is also related to unconditional election as God has chosen us without any merit on our part but with an irresistible grace, meaning the one called does not resist the call.

So God acts sovereignly in regard to securing your salvation if you’re a believer, and all history is consummated according to the sovereign will of God. When the word sovereignty is used in reference to God, it means that God is the supreme ruler and authority. God ordains whatever comes to pass, and his divine purpose is always accomplished.

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