Write On! “Heatwave” and “1963 trip of a lifetime”

Published 9:20 am Thursday, September 30, 2021

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Community writers may join in on the Write On! program sponsored by Davie County Public Library. Participants meet virtually once a month to read aloud their original stories written in response to assigned prompts. The next meeting is Monday, Oct. 4 at 4 p.m.; interested persons can link in by going to the library Facebook page and clicking on the meeting link or contacting Jazmyne Baylor at jbaylor@daviecountync.gov. The October prompts are: “harvest” and “full moon.”

The September prompts, “heatwave” and “a 1963 trip of a lifetime” yielded the following two stories.


By Jane McAllister

Sweltering, suffocating heat removed all incentive to work or play outdoors. Unprecedented high temperatures created dangerous conditions, especially for those living in areas where residential air conditioning was not prevalent. For cities and towns generating electricity to support air conditioning, engineers speculated as to the capacity of the electric grid being able to meet demand without system blackouts or other crises.

Sidewalks buckled and small bodies of water dried up, rendering wildlife and crop irrigation vulnerable to drought. Weather fronts moved to extremes, with severe thunderstorms, high winds, and wildfires wreaking damage and destruction to anything in their paths. Human health issues related to heat rose and tempers flared as the high heat continued for days into weeks.

Weather forecasters and scientists saw no real relief on the horizon until a change in season, but even then, higher than normal temperatures were foreseen. Is this what the apocalypse looks like?

All these challenges streamed through my brain as I felt the warmth and sweat course through my body. What could I do as an individual to contribute to strategies of coping and resilience? As I pondered this question, I shifted position, startling myself awake. I immediately realized that I was wedged under the covers by two pit bulls sleeping soundly nestled up against me on each side. No wonder I felt warm!

Sadly, though, I also realized that the challenges swimming through my sleeping brain did exist in our reality, and that answers and strategies were required to deal with the future. Climate change is real and taking immediate action to curb its effects is mandatory. No more denials, no more kicking the can down the road. Carbon emissions must be reduced; clean energy technology, and energy conservation must take center stage in our thinking about infrastructure, public health, and environmental sustainability. Let’s work together to save our planet. Let’s start today.

My Big Adventure

By Linda H. Barnette

It was 1963, and I was about to take the trip of a lifetime. In June of that year, I finished my BA degree and graduated from Catawba College. Unlike most of my close friends, I was not getting married right after graduation. Rather, I was embarking on another kind of adventure.

Upon the advice of my English department chair whose assistant I was, I applied to several graduate schools because after student teaching, I had no interest in teaching high school English. The University of Tennessee was my choice because it was out of state but not too far away in addition to the fact that they offered me a graduate assistantship, which meant what people now refer to as a “free ride.”  On the other hand, we had to work hard to keep our assistantship.

During the summer of 1963, my parents and I went to Knoxville to find me a place to live since being a residence counselor did not sound very appealing. We found a rooming house just one block from Cumberland Avenue, the main street through campus and close to my office, my classes, and the library. 1221 W. Clinch Avenue is forever etched into my memory even though it is no longer there. The house was two stories and was owned by two unmarried sisters, so my dad signed an agreement for me to have a room there in September. When we returned, there were three other girls there. We each had a small bedroom and shared a bath and a kitchen/dining area. It was all very spartan compared to dorms and apartments that students have these days.

In any case, there I was, away from home, not knowing a soul, a graduate of a small college, with no car, and clueless about how hard the courses would be. However, as it all worked out, I loved my work, made new friends, and studied most of the time. The Hodges Library became my second home, where all of us in English studied in what we called “the stack,” doing research and writing notes on those little lined notecards and typing all our papers and eventually a thesis.

The biggest irony in the whole situation happened years later when I lived in Fayetteville and taught high school English for two years at Pine Forest Senior High School, loved the job and the students, and became aware for the first time that teaching was not a job but a calling.