The Literary Corner: Renegade Writer’s Guild

Published 8:50 am Thursday, January 6, 2022

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Blue Christmas
By Linda H. Barnette
For some reason, I am not a lover of holidays. During these times I sometimes feel sad and depressed except for those wonderful family visits!!
Trying to understand these feelings is difficult, but I have a couple of ideas. When I was a child, I got up early on Christmas morning eager to see what Santa had left. But rather than having time to play with whatever it was, we had to get dressed up and spend Christmas with the grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins who all gathered across the street. (I would give anything now for that opportunity, but young folks must live and learn). Also, we never missed church for any reason other than hospitalization, so we attended all of the extra holiday services.
I’m also a dreamer and a believer in “magic,” not the kind one thinks of but real magic. I specifically remember being absolutely crushed when I learned that there was not a real Easter Bunny and so on. That’s one reason why it might be better if children were not misinformed about such things.
I am also a creature of habit and routine; thus, I enjoy living by a schedule. When that schedule is interrupted, my whole way of life is confused. It causes my OCD to act up, but days when stores, offices, and businesses are closed are somewhat scary—too many what if’s.
On the other hand, I imagine I am not alone in these feelings.
My last point is that we as parents and a society might think about paying more attention to the Christ in Christmas!

Richard Sterling
By Marie Craig
To compile the nine books I have written about Davie County, I have completed much research. This is something I really enjoy and chose the topic of a family, the Sterlings, who lived in the 1800s. Richard Sterling was born in Ireland on March 18, 1812 and came to the United States when twelve years old. Much later, he was the first superintendent of schools in Davie County beginning in 1881. He died in 1883 while performing this duty.
The Martin-Wall History Room of Davie County Public Library has great resources for research. In a file about the Sterling family, there was a transcription of a letter that Mrs. Sterling wrote on June 6, 1856 to her sister in California. The Sterlings lived in Greensboro, North Carolina, where he was principal of the Edgeworth Female Seminary for thirteen years. In her writing, she describes the route of her letter: fourteen days by train to New York and then by steamer to California by way of the southern tip of South America. [I just sent an image and message to my granddaughter in Utah, and got an immediate response from her. What a different world we live in.]
One part of her seven-page letter had this comment, “I hope you are all going to vote for Filmore for our President in November. I think he is certainly at this time the brightest star above the horizon.”
She continued, “What do you think of a war with England? Her minister has been dismissed but what is to be the result none can tell. I would really love to give her one more drubbing if I were sure we could do it. She is an arrogant tyrannical and overbearing nation; has always kept her foot upon the neck of the weak whenever possible, and though English blood runs in my veins I despise England. Do not forget that I am the wife of an Irishman, but I believe this is not a woman’s business, only I hope ever to cherish a dear love for my country [the United States] and teach my sons to feel the same.”
Online research yielded much more information about Richard Sterling and his family. There were nine children — three of them served in the Civil War with two of those dying, three little children died, and some of the others remained in this area as adults. One adult son went “to Texas and vanished.” Only two of their nine children married and had children.
Mr. Sterling also served as the third mayor of Greensboro during the Civil War, helped
establish an insurance company, and co-wrote children’s textbooks which have
been reprinted and are available for purchase online in our day.
In the 1870 census, the family was living in Shelbyville, Kentucky. He was principal of the Female College in that town. His wife had died of pneumonia two years before this census and is buried there. They next moved to Mocksville where he was teacher of a boys’ school at the Episcopal Church on Salisbury Street. This was located close to the intersection of Salisbury
Street and East Maple Street, on the northeast side. He was an advocate for better education for Davie’s children and was active in placing newspaper articles promoting good schools.
His sister, Margaret Sterling, moved to Mocksville and became the third wife of Archibald
Carter. They are buried in Rose Cemetery in Mocksville. Richard’s daughter, Mattie, married Thomas Lemuel Kelly. He was associate editor of a newspaper in Winston-Salem. They are buried at Joppa Cemetery.
There’s even a likeness of him and one of his wife at the History Room. I look at his serious, sad eyes and see a man who lost 5 children and his wife to early death, but he continued in his quest to promote good education and opportunities for himself and others.

“And Just Like That”
Julie Terry Cartner
The Saturday after Thanksgiving, my daughter and I, along with our three dogs, were hiking in Gold Hill, NC. What started as a pleasant day ended less than pleasantly. There was a tree down across the path, and my usually less than adventurous daughter decided to climb up it for a photo op. Up she went, the photo was taken, and then she realized coming down, in hiking boots, would be problematic. And it was. Halfway down, straddling the log, she brought her leg over the side to slide down. Apparently not clearing the log, she caught her heel and fell.
Kudos to the Gold Hill Rescue Squad who carried her out of the woods, and the ambulance drivers who transported her to the hospital, but despite their quick action and care, the results were not so good. Due to the angle of impact and some seriously bad luck, my daughter broke her leg, four breaks along the tibial plate. Two hospitals, two surgeries, the insertion of a titanium plate and rods, and a little over a month later, and we’re looking at somewhere between six months and a year for complete recovery.
And just like that, a stupid accident, and my 33-year-old daughter is back living at home, reliant on her parents for care. Isn’t that life? Stuff happens and we deal the best we know how. I think this brings home a New Year’s Resolution worth mentioning.
We don’t plan for accidents, they just happen. Oftentimes they happen due to a moment of inattention, bad choices, or carelessness. Other times, they are just the result of bad luck, bad timing, or some uncontrollable outside source. It matters not. Sometimes their impact is negligible, but other times, their impact is substantial.
In the past two years, few people have emerged without losing someone they know or love to Covid-19. I dare say nobody has gone through this pandemic unscathed. Two years ago, we never could have conceived of life as it has been since the emergence of this deadly virus. Two years ago, we made our plans for parties, events, opportunities, and then, just like that, our world locked down.
So much of life is not under our control. However, we can control our behaviors and choices we make in reaction to the vagrancies life throws at us. I remember sitting on my porch the day our world changed, September 11, 2001. It was a beautiful day, heartbreakingly beautiful, and as I looked up at that brilliant blue sky, I made a decision and a promise. I won’t say I’ve always kept the promise, but I have tried. My daughter’s accident brought it back home to me.
Although we have little control over so many aspects of life, we can control how we react to the things that happen, and we can control how we live our lives. Accidents happen; that’s why they’re called accidents. Bad things happen through no actions of our own. So, rather than living with fear or regrets, rather than letting life pass you by, go and do. Take advantage of opportunities, live your life, learn and grow. Determine who and what matters. And most importantly, take the time to say, “I love you.” And just like that, your life becomes your own, once again.

RWG Literary Corner
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