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The Literary Corner: Renegade Writer’s Guild

War Memorial

By Marie Craig

As you zoom through the downtown area of Mocksville, do you notice the Davie County Veterans’ Memorial?  How would you classify yourself in regards to this tribute: disinterested, learned a little about it, or full of emotional feelings about the names of 411 men who went to war and did not return alive?

Some people mistakenly think that these names are the men who served in wars, but no, these men died in war. When I was writing Davie County in World War One, I found evidence of 11 more casualties who had not been added to the memorial when it was built in 1987.  These names were added to the left edge of the monument.  Several years before that, the Miller sisters from Cooleemee, Mary Alice Hasty and Hazel Winfree, had discovered 55 additional men from Davie who had died in the Civil War.  They learned this in compiling their book, The Civil War Roster of Davie County, North Carolina.  Those names were added to the right edge of the memorial.

In writing the book, Davie County Veterans’ Memorial, I learned much more about the large number of men who gave their lives in battle.  The monument is a special part of our local history.  There are biographies of each of the 411 men who died in war in the three books mentioned above.

Jack Koontz and Taylor Howard were the organizers of building the memorial. There was a special dedication on 7 November 1987 with an address by Colonel Thomas W. Ferebee.  A huge crowd attended, and a video was made of the parade, speeches, and dedication.

When you are in Mocksville, slow down and go have a look at this important memorial and say thank you to them.

Uniquely Gran

By Julie Terry Cartner

I could hear the music as I rode my bicycle down the old tar road. My sister and I had reached the top of the one hill in my hometown and were gleefully flying down the other side, racing to see who would get to the bottom first. Hair floating in the breeze, wheels spinning, sun-tanned legs pumping furiously, I tried to keep up with her longer legs. But even as I raced, I could still hear the music. Good, I thought, as I heard the strains of “I Could Have Danced All Night” coming through Gram’s bay windows. My Fair Lady, one of my favorites. I loved when she played music from the great musicals; whereas my eight-year-old self was less than impressed when she played classical music or, even worse, operas.

Reaching the bottom of the hill and Gram’s driveway, we turned our bicycles in and left them in the yard. Knowing Gram, she’d be so lost in her music, she’d have no idea we were there. Quietly entering her house through the back door, we slipped through the house until we entered the living room where she was sitting behind her grand piano, playing with her whole heart and focus engaged.

Giggling quietly, we began to dance and sing, “Bed, bed, I couldn’t go to bed. My heart’s too light to try to settle down…” playing the role of Eliza Doolittle after her success at the ball. We continued until the song ended, then Gram, fully aware of our presence by then, continued with several other songs from My Fair Lady, then segued into other songs she knew we loved such as “I Feel Pretty” and “One Hand, One Heart” from West Side Story, and “Feed the Birds” and “Chim Chim Cheree” from Mary Poppins. She could go on all day, and so could we.

The impromptu concert and performance finished, Gram offered us ice cream sodas – always vanilla ice cream with ginger ale, and we visited for a while before we mounted our bicycles and headed home.

My grandmother was talented, so very talented. Born in 1897, she and her family came to America from Ireland and settled in New York City. A musical protégé, hardworking, and ambitious, she mastered the piano, and among other things, played with symphonic orchestras, vaudeville, and accompanied the action in silent movies. She said silent movies were the most challenging because as she watched the movie, she had to keep changing the music to match the action, and all the music had to be in her head. There was no time to search for sheet music. Always in high demand, she never lacked for work, and she rubbed elbows with many of the greats of the music world.

I didn’t have a typical grandmother by any stretch of the imagination. She couldn’t cook. We were never greeted at the door by the scent of homemade chocolate chip cookies and an apron-clad granny. She didn’t read us books or rock us in a rocking chair. I don’t think she ever picked up a needle, thread, crochet hook or knitting needle. She wasn’t Grammie or Grannie. She wasn’t Grandma or Me-Maw; she was Gram. But what she did do was to expose us to as much music as we could take in. She encouraged us to sing and dance, to spread our wings and find our paths, and proudly introduced us to her friends, often famous people – forerunners in the word of Broadway.

As an avid reader, I knew in my mind what a proper grandmother was supposed to be like, and, as a young child, to some extent, was disappointed that I didn’t have one of those grandmothers. I didn’t get home-made cookies; I got music. I didn’t get hand-made dresses or blankets; I got encouragement. I didn’t get a Grandma, Grammie or Grannie; I got a four-foot, ten-inch dynamo of a grandmother who chose her own path in life and encouraged me to do the same. As I matured, I learned a valuable lesson: we’re all human, we’re all unique, there isn’t any one-size-fits-all model, and that’s exactly what makes us special.

Memories

By Gaye Hoots

In the past two weeks I have spent time with some classmates from elementary school. I had lunch with two close female friends and spent time with a group that included a male classmate and his wife. A few minutes with any of them and I could recall vividly events from our childhood.

Janine and I started Shady Grove School in first grade together. Her aunt was our first-grade teacher, and her mother taught there. We were thick as thieves until the fifth grade, when Janine’s mother transferred to Cooleemee and she left Shady Grove. Janine was not the tomboy that I was, but she would try anything that I could do. I tried to outdo her by hanging from my knees from a tree limb and picking up a quarter that I stuck upright in the dirt below the tree limb. She was able to repeat the trick, which we both remember because she swallowed the quarter.

Travisene started Shady Grove in the fifth grade, and I classed her as a tomboy too. We both had strong personalities but got along well. Her cousin Glenda was one of our gang. In sixth grade the school districts changed and Glenda and Judy Hendrix joined our class as did Martha, the daughter of the minister of Fork Baptist Church. Barbara moved from another town to our class, and she also attended the church I attended, Advance Baptist Church. Mrs. Crawford, our minister’s wife was our teacher, and her son Charles was in our class.

Until sixth grade, I spent as much time with the boys as I did with the girls. Eddie, a neighbor, and Gary were friends through the school years. In sixth grade some of the girls began to swoon over Elvis Presley, and some claimed boyfriends. This was awkward for me because while I liked being one of the boys the idea of a boyfriend was foreign to me. I gravitated back to girls to prevent being teased about having a boyfriend. Other girls who had been with us since first grade were Carol Jane, Evonne, and Carol.

I may not have been ready for a boyfriend, but in sixth grade I fell in love with basketball. This was the motivating factor of my life from then until the end of my junior year in high school when I started dating the man I married.

Memories of the boys included first grade when Charles Markland, and his mother, who was also a teacher there were told that their house was on fire. It burned to the ground. Later in years Carol Jane, whose grandmother managed the lunchroom, lost their home to fire. It was hard to imagine what this must have been like for them.

Charles and I competed for grades and usually compared our test results. In eighth grade he was the class valedictorian and I was salutatorian. I remember a group from our church going to Tanglewood to swim when I was playing drop and retrieve the dime with the two Charleses. I got my hand caught in a grate covering the drain and they were able to lift the grate with my hand to the surface of the water to remove it. While writing this, I retrieved many more memories but will save those for later.

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RWG Literary Corner

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Submit a favorite memory of life in Davie County.  Story should be typed and not more than 250 words.  Please include your name and phone number or email address.  RWG retains reprint rights.  Email to lhb1@yadtel.net.