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The Literary Corner: Renegade Writer’s Guild

“Screams in the Night”

By Julie Terry Cartner

A single, shrill scream permeated the solitary stillness of the night.  Then silence descended once again, when the chirping of tree frogs and cicadas slowly resumed at approximately the same time as my thundering heart slowed its pace to its normal rhythm. What was that and how or should I respond pervaded my thoughts. Then as my eyes peered fruitlessly into the darkness of a moonless night, the scream resumed, accompanied by countless more, a  cacophony of sound that made the hair stand up on the back of my neck, my shoulders cringing from the vocal assault.

Babies and small children being murdered? A coven of witches? A sacrifice to a pagan god? All these possibilities, and more, swirled around my brain; all seemed valid and yet, at the same time, far-fetched. But I had never heard anything like it. I now knew what blood-curdling really meant, and I truly never wanted to hear it again.

But hear it again I did, the sound getting closer to my home rather than my as-hoped-for farther away. As the sounds crashed against my unwilling ears, I willed my rational brain to outweigh my fantasy fueled fears. What could it be? Then, as another shriek reverberated through the night’s air, I realized what it was. Coyotes. They were on the run again.

The problem with coyotes, I learned, is that they are smart, tough and adaptable. They will eat small game such as rabbits and young deer, but they will also root through people’s garbage and will even eat birdseed. They used to be native to the mid-west and farther, and didn’t exist in North Carolina until the late 1980’s. The first ones were imported by hunters for the sport of hunting them, but as the wolf and cougar populations declined, coyotes took up the slack, moving eastward until they permeated every county in North Carolina. They survive, not only in the wild, but also in towns and cities.

Hunting coyotes in the attempt to reduce the numbers accomplishes nothing because when the numbers decline, coyotes produce more pups. When their numbers get too high, they produce fewer pups. The experts believe the numbers have stabilized now, but they acknowledge there is really no way to determine what the number is because these packs travel over large territories of land.

Armed with this knowledge, I conclude that I must co-exist with these pointy-eared canines, despite the fact their howls are the stuff of nightmares. Mankind destroyed nature’s balance by nearly eradicating coyote’s natural predators, and we must live with the consequences. In addition, I have to admire anything is so smart and adaptable. I guess before next Halloween, I’ll record the eerie shrieks and play them for the trick-or-treating ghouls and goblins!

“Numbers”

By Gaye Hoots

Tracking information on the Coronavirus, which lists over 2,000 deaths worldwide with no deaths of children under 10 years to date, led me to other statistics. In 2019 flu-related deaths were estimated and reported in some cases, to be over 80,000. The CDC lists over 60,000 reported deaths from flu for 2019. More deaths were from the ten leading diseases, with heart disease accounting for over 600,000 deaths. A growing number of deaths is from medical errors, hospital infections and medication errors.

Drug overdose or drug poisoning deaths were over 70,000, with suicide accounting for another 70,000 or more. There was a high rate of military-related suicides, over 15,000 were gun death suicides. 20,000 plus were suicide other than guns. Vehicle deaths topped 40,000. The drug and suicide deaths are growing yearly.

The population of drug overdoses and suicide deaths have underlying issues of mental health disorders. Mental health disorders have played a part in many of the mass shootings. I had a career working in the mental health arena and also lost a beautiful granddaughter to a drug overdose.

The US cannot keep drugs out of our country. I would like to see funding for screening and mental health treatment starting in elementary school, for the bullied, and the bullies, for the children living with disabilities, and those living with parents who use and abuse drugs. I feel it should continue throughout school and college. Our soldiers and veterans should have access to it at their request.

The workplace needs these services, as well. When we fire disgruntled employees, and have them escorted from the workplace by security, it adds to their anger. If guards are needed to escort them out, who is going to keep them from coming back and enacting revenge as we often see? Would it make more sense to have a support system for struggling employees to help them improve their performance? When dismissing employees, why not let them inform colleagues they are leaving the company? Have HR work with them by offering a small severance package, unemployment benefits, and counseling for three months after their departure date to help them deal with the loss and make a new plan for future education or employment.

It would be helpful if students and employees who are struggling with substance use and abuse could seek help from employee health programs for treatment and to assist them while they attend school or work.

This scenario sometimes exists in healthcare positions. I was working in an adolescent psychiatric unit when two girls reported that a nurse on another shift lost his temper and behaved in a manner that frightened them. I spoke with the accused and related their account without giving the names of the girls in the group. I explained that I would like to know his version of the incident. He thanked me for coming to him before going to management and promised it would not happen again.

The next morning my manager told me he had asked for help with a substance abuse issue and had entered a treatment program.

The numbers we read, sometimes casually, are people with lives and families just like us.

“County Home Road”

By Marie Craig

The road that turns by Ingersoll Rand starts out being labeled Sanford Avenue and then it morphs into “County Home Road”.  Mr. Wall discusses the county home in his history of Davie County on pages 309-310.

“In 1831 the North Carolina General Assembly authorized counties to build poorhouses and to purchase lands for the support of the poor. In 1839 the Davie County Court named a committee ‘for the purpose of Selecting a Situation for a Poor House and contracting for Buildings on the same.’ A County Home is said to have been located near the Clarksville Post Office. About 1865 the county purchased a 138-acre tract on the County Home Road [as it’s now named] and built a home for its indigent citizens. In 1875 three months’ care for ten paupers at the County Home cost a total of $127.72.

“In 1913 a large brick-veneer structure was erected containing about 40 rooms to accommodate 28 inmates. The cost was approximately $10,000. According to Dewey Sain, caretaker from 1945 to 1955, average occupancy during those years was about twelve. A farm operated by the caretaker provided some of the food. Residents who were physically and mentally able helped with the work on the farm and in the home.”

“A ‘pesthouse’ primarily for isolating smallpox patients, was built on the County Home property about 1905. In 1936 Dr. Lester P. Martin, County Physician, instigated the building of a ‘T.B. Cottage” there to treat those unable to enter sanitariums.

“The county commissioners discontinued the County Home in 1955 and transferred the nine residents to rest homes.

“In 1936 the commissioners sold 63 acres of the County Home property for a state prison facility; in 1963 two acres were deeded to the Davie County Rescue Squad, and in 1964 the remaining 81 acres were sold to private ownership.”

Further research yielded an article in Davie County Heritage Book, section 577: “Cora Layfayette, known by “Faitie”, she was the daughter of James Monroe and Tabitha Belle Driver Seamon.  She was the oldest of 8 children, born Oct. 31, 1898. Her family worked together to run the County Home. This was a place for elderly and ill people that had no one to care for them. Faitie helped her mother with the food preparation. Her specialty was biscuits and she made enough in her life to go around the world.”

In a Davie Times article of 19 December 1884, I found a list of county expenditures: “B. Bailey, bacon for pauper at poor house, $11.32; B.F. Stonestreet making clothes for paupers, $2.50”

Davie Record, 21 December 1910: “M.B. Bailey, who has been steward of the county home for the past six years, has moved to town, and is occupying the Clement house on Sanford Ave.  H.C. Jones succeeds Mr. Bailey at the county home.”

Davie Record, 11 September 1912: “The county commissioners have decided to build a new county home, work to begin at an early date. The building will be of brick, with sewerage and heating fixtures, and will cost between $5,000 and $8,000. A new county home has been needed for a long time, and no man in the county will raise a kick on building one.”

Davie Record, 28 January 1914: “The editor took a stroll to the county home Sunday and selected his room. The new building is nearing completion, and is something that every citizen in the county can well be proud of. The building is of brick with metal shingle roof, and contains 45 rooms, which are plastered.  There are 28 rooms for inmates, several pantries, bath rooms, office, reception room and living rooms for the superintendent. The building is supposed to be steam-heated and have a sewerage system. D.R. Cecil, of Lexington, is the contractor, and he is a good one.  The building will cost about $10,000.”

Davie Record, 17 June 1914: “Mrs. Viney Keaton, an aged lady, died at the county home last Tuesday and was buried Wednesday.”

Davie Record, 30 August 1916: “Mr. Holman Dwiggins, a Confederate veteran, aged 81 years, died at the county home Saturday evening, and was buried Sunday morning at 11 o’clock, at Center, Rev. T.S. Coble conducting the funeral services. Mr. Dwiggins became mentally deranged some time ago and was carried to the county home.”

Undated, later article: “The county built a county home at a cost of about $15,000.”  [Notice the price going up?]

There is a photograph of the brick buildings on page 125 of Images of America: Mocksville.

RWG Literary Corner

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