The Literary Corner: Renegade Writer’s Guild

Published 9:47 am Thursday, February 17, 2022

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Puppy Love
By Julie Terry Cartner
Curled up in a tight ball, I’d shuddered with cold, with fear, with confusion. Just this morning I’d been snuggled up with my brothers and sisters in the barn when men with hard voices had come in. Calloused hands had reached in to pull out my bigger brothers, Bronson and Cagney, from the litter, then passed judgement on the rest. “Give the girls to a breeder, and that one,” he’d said poking at Dexter, “throw him out with the trash. He’s too small. He’ll never amount to anything.”
And just like that, my safe, secure world had exploded. The farmer did just as the man had said. He’d taken me and dropped me, unceremoniously, into the dumpster. Today was trash pick-up day, and when the big, noisy truck had picked up the dumpster and unloaded it into the garbage truck, then later into a giant vat in the ground, I’d been unharmed, my fall softened by bags and bags of trash. After the men left, I crawled my way out, then hungry, I searched for food, my growling tummy allowing no other option.
After searching in vain for a bowl and kibble, the only food I recognized, I fell asleep, my puppy body demanding rest. Now, sometime later, I awakened, still cold, still hungry, and more than a little scared. What would happen to me?
“Okay Dexter,” I said to myself, “you’ve had plenty of time to wallow, now get up and take charge of your life. You might have been the runt of the litter, but that doesn’t mean you’re not smart and resourceful.” With that I yawned, my pink tongue curling out of my mouth as I stretched, then I looked around. Food was my immediate need. I challenged myself again. You’ve got a nose, now use it. With the mini pep-talk behind me, I sniffed the air. It didn’t take long to find a trash bag split open with a discarded half slice of pizza. Not my usual kibble I thought, but it sure smells yummy. With that, I gobbled the treat, then continued my explorations.
“There he is,” I heard an angry voice meow. “That, that, that … creature ate my pizza. I was saving it for later, and now it’s gone,” she wailed.
“Attack!” came a second voice, then I saw two angry cats streaking towards me.
Funny. I didn’t know I spoke cat, I thought, right before I realized the plight I was in. Fight or flight, I wondered, then seeing the size of my would-be attackers, I made the decision to run. And run I did. Soon the dump was behind me, an empty road in front of me. I continued to trudge down the dark, dusty road. My paws, unused to the rough gravel, hurt, but I kept going, only limping slightly.
Suddenly two eyes – huge and golden – were hurtling towards me, growling like a hungry lion. I froze in terror. I just knew that beast was going to devour me. As it came screaming to a stop, I braced myself. I might be about to die, but die with dignity I would. Pride and fear froze my feet for a second, then my brain screamed, “Run!” Heck with pride, I thought, as I turned to bolt, but it was too late.
Giant hands reached out and grabbed me. I shrank back in fear. Maybe if I made myself really small, it wouldn’t be interested in me. No such luck. Shaking so hard I could almost hear my bones rattle; a few words sidled past my terrified brain.
“You’re only a puppy, aren’t you boy?” Then gentle hands rubbed my head, felt my long, floppy ears, stroked down my body, and assessed my paws. “Looks like you’re going to stay pretty small. That’s good; we don’t have a lot of room. My wife’s been wanting a pup. I think you’ll do, and just in time for Valentine’s Day.” With that, the man with the gentle hands tucked me inside his coat.
Burrowing down, I felt warmth for the first time in what seemed like forever. Home, I thought, I’m going home.

By Marie Craig
Come look over my shoulder as I read the 1964 Davie County Enterprise Record online. I think you’ll be intrigued with those current events and how things have changed. This is not a criticism of the newspaper – it was the way everybody did things back then.
This was before I-40 was built through our county. Almost every issue had a photograph of a really horrible wreck that had happened that week. It was also before it was widely accepted to wear seat belts. There were many casualties. Citizens’ groups petitioned the highway department to finish the interstate through our area. It was about 4 or 5 years before that happened. Imagine all of our residents now trying to travel to Statesville or Winston-Salem without this interstate.
The advertisements were amazing. “Winston Tastes Good Like a Cigarette Should” and the accompanying encouragement to smoke. Television and radio promoted this also.
The Woman’s Club had a fundraiser of selling beautiful, fancy hats for the ladies to wear to church. Another group sponsored a tea where recipients of awards were honored. Large photographs of brides in elaborate wedding dresses with full description of details about women’s clothes, visitors, and ceremony were in almost every paper. Very few grooms were photographed with their brides.
If a married woman had her name in the newspaper she was always listed as Mrs. plus her husband’s name. Her own first name wasn’t used. A few obituaries for men in listing the survivors only put “ his wife,” and her name wasn’t even listed.
The papers around Christmas featured ads for stores with an emphasis on their layaway opportunities. If people didn’t have the full amount, they waited for purchasing items until they did. Credit card debt was unheard of.
It had been only months since President John Kennedy had been assassinated, and people were still very upset about that. If you are old enough to remember, I know you could tell me immediately where you were and what you were doing when you learned about that.
There was a massive drive to eradicate Polio. On three Sundays, March 22, April 19, and May 17, doctors donated their time to give Sabin vaccines to citizens. There were several stations in the county. The first 3 drops on a sugar cube for immunization against Type 1 was in March, second was Type 2, and third Sunday was against Type 3. An article describes 10,670 doses administered in May. There didn’t seem to be the hesitation that we’ve seen in the past year to eradicating a terrible disease.
The editor of the newspaper was Gordon Tomlinson. He was particularly interested in the history of Davie County. The reason I’m reading these papers online through the library website is to learn more about the doctors who served in our county who were born before 1900. I am writing a book of biographies about these men. Speaking of differences in 1964 and now, to my knowledge there were no women doctors in Davie back then. From September 1963 to March 1965, Tomlinson wrote 19 feature articles describing 29 doctors from the past. I have found 54 doctors in all; 14 of those served in the Civil War and two in World War One. It’s been an interesting project, and I hope to publish this book soon.

Warms My Heart
By Gaye Hoots
Our writers’ group met today at Julie’s home. The drive was enjoyable because she lives in a rural area like my childhood home, with rolling hills, pastureland, and farming equipment for miles. Their log cabin was on a dirt road with acreage surrounding it. The sunroom ran the length of the house with a glass wall facing the back yard letting in sunlight. The room was filled with original artwork, each with a personal history. I sank into a soft sofa and immediately felt at home.
The soups Julie made smelled delicious and were. We enjoyed our meal and each other’s company. It had been a long time since we met in person, but we had space to safely distance. The members who were not able to attend were missed. Our time was spent discussing our childhoods and past working experiences. We grew up with similar family, cultural, and religious backgrounds which determined our moral compasses.
Our group included two teachers, a nurse with mental health experience, and an IT expert who worked with young military personnel. Many of the children and young adults we worked with had started life with several strikes against them including parents with addictions and mental health issues. All of us were able to see some redeeming qualities in them but the system was stacked against them, often from the day they were born.
It is sad that in a country as educated and wealthy as ours, children go without their basic needs being met, their educations are stunted, and mental health issues are ignored for want of funding. The young children in the projects and trailer parks had a sparkle in their eyes. The elementary school age children lost the sparkle and were sullen, and the teenagers were hostile or apathetic.
We had memories of kids we felt we reached but the ones we mourned were the ones no one could reach. Each of us remained in our careers and had enough encouraging interactions to keep us going until retirement, but there is also an awareness of how much better things could have been with awareness, funding, and training.
It is always good to know that most of us keep trying to contribute and live in communities with citizens and church members who contribute to the growth of our youth. It is reassuring to read positive posts on Facebook and see pictures of happy families.
The warmest times for me are the ones with close friends and family sharing happy experiences and good soup.

RWG Literary Corner
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