The Literary Corner: Renegade Writer’s Guild

Published 11:13 am Thursday, February 11, 2021

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By Gaye Hoots

We all are alike.

We breathe the same air.

We inherited this earth,

With instructions to share.

When one is injured,

We all bleed red.

If we choose to cast stones,

We’d best cover our heads.

We all are connected.

We are part of a whole.

When we choose to diminish,

We damage our souls.

We have the power to build,

The power to tear down,

The power to nourish,

Or destroy a whole town.

All the choices made,

Have left many without

Was that God’s intent?

I, for one, have my doubts.

Follow the Promptings

By Marie Craig

I have written eight history books about Davie County and have received much special help as I was compiling these. People have welcomed me into their homes to share experiences and photographs for my books. The Martin-Wall History Room at Davie County Public Library has provided books, items, and photos for me to use to tell the story of our county.

One of the most significant experiences I had was in 2012. I was almost through writing Davie County Veterans’ Memorial which gave biographies of each man whose name is on the war memorial on Mocksville square. The Miller sisters had written the book about all the Civil War Soldiers from Davie who died in war, and I had already written the book about all the men and three women from Davie County who served in World War One. This new book contained all deaths from other wars. I had printed out the draft of the book and put it into a notebook which went with me everywhere.

I feel inspired to write these books and always pray for guidance and special help in their composition. The previous Sunday’s message from church had been “Follow the Promptings.” On my way through Hillsdale to Winston-Salem, I glanced right at BoJangles. The long-time residents who gather there had helped me several times with questions about my books or the quarterly historical newsletter I edit. As it went by, I thought, “I should go back and see if they have any suggestions.” I had to take a few minutes to get turned around and find my way through the medians in the street and get something to eat.       

There were several tables of people who looked as if they could share knowledge. One woman called me over, slid to the right, and pulled up another chair for me. She introduced me to the old fellow to my left, but the name didn’t ring any bells. She saw my notebook and asked what I was working on. I described my new book and listed the war casualties I was profiling. I mentioned World War Two, Korean War, Vietnam War, and as I said “Beirut bombing,” the man at my left said, “That was my son.” I was overwhelmed at the moment, but soon asked him some questions. He told me that his son died on his mother’s birthday. As we continued our conversation, I asked him if he came there often. “No. I’m taking chemo and don’t feel like coming much. This is the first time I’ve been here in months.” I was again overwhelmed that I had chosen to stop and that I just happened to sit next to him.

A man at the other table came over and said hello and wanted to know what I was writing. He had served in World War Two, so I knew he would understand about my project. I told him I was trying to include photos with each bio. I had a checklist of each man that listed birthdate, death date, burial place, military service, and whether I’d found a photo. He looked down the list and found a man without a photo. He had known the man and told me that he had an image of him when he was a boy. Since I wasn’t sure I’d have any picture, I told him that I’d like to copy that one. I wasn’t sure how to access it and asked if he came there every day. He laughed and said, “No.  I haven’t been here in a long time. I just decided I would come today.” I had more strong feelings that I was receiving some very special help.

I met him the next day at the same place and was so pleased to copy that boy’s picture. The man told me how he happened to have the photo. He said his dad was janitor at Smith Grove School. A photographer came and took individual pictures of the students. But it was a time of farming with no petty cash to spend on photos. When the photographer came back to sell pictures, not many sold. So he handed the unsold photos to the janitor and said, “I don’t need these. The next time you burn trash, just throw them in.” But instead, my helper’s dad brought them home, and they wrote names on the backs of them. “Every time I find somebody who’s kin to one of these children, I have one blown up and give it to them.”

What a wonderful service to be able to share a picture that could have been lost forever. These two days were very special to me as I had such marvelous results from “Following the Prompting.”

Winter Tales

By Julie Terry Cartner

Gray clouds scudded across the sky as the wind rose in intensity. Giant flakes sprinted through the air as if defying gravity to win the race. At first a tossup between rain and snow, the flakes were wet and thick, guaranteeing gravity would win. They were simply too heavy to go anywhere but down. As afternoon shifted into evening though, subtle differences in the air foreshadowed what was to come. The temperature, dropping a few degrees, changed the chance of rain to complete snow, and as afternoon doldrums often did, the wind slowed down to a whisper, a sound of silence only rivaled by the wisp of falling snowflakes, now so thick as to create a white curtain, a drape so opaque nothing could pierce it.

Knowing the drill, Dad had already tied ropes between the house and the barn, ensured the storm windows were firmly in place, and not only had logs piled by the fireplace but also a deep stack right outside the mudroom door, the only doorway that was protected from the blustery winds. The fireplace, already crackling with golden flames, warmed the hearth and the people surrounding it.

Potatoes, our staple, roasted in the ashes as did apples and chestnuts. Popcorn sat ready for the evening’s snowy ritual, and hot cider was simmering in the old, black crock. We would not go hungry, neither our stomachs nor our souls. As the evening progressed, the elders, grandma and grandpa, would begin the stories, recollections of the snowy nights of their childhoods. Would the blizzards be more fierce than reality? Would the struggles be harder? Possibly, but who cared? More important than accuracy were the brief glimpses, the keyhole portals into their lives.

Then Mom and Dad might recount their first Christmas when the blizzard of ’42 kept them trapped in the house for three days. Other than Dad pulling himself up and down the rope to the barn to feed and water the stock, Mom left behind to have hot towels and drinks for him when he returned enshrouded in snow and ice with frostbite a fearsome possibility, they stayed inside, carefully doling out logs to the ravenous fire. They even slept on a pallet by the hearth as, with no electricity, this was their only heat source.

My older brothers and sisters would chime in, their stories not as compelling, perhaps, but full of adventures in the snow.

Then I, the youngest child, would spin a tale of heroism; I and my trusty collie pulling my sled to the neighbor’s house to save them from starvation, freezing to death, or a maniacal villain, or perhaps rescuing a kitten from a snowdrift. In my child’s mind, both stories were of equal valor. I had no stories to tell yet but had learned at an early age that good stories didn’t necessarily need to be true.

Thus, we’d spend the evening, with the blizzard howling outside, banging on the windows, rattling the shutters, demanding entrance at old, oak doors, safe and warm inside, warmed both by the heat of the fire and the camaraderie of loving families and nostalgic stories, knowing when the morning sun split through the remnants of the clouds, we’d work and play, storing up tales for another day.