The Literary Corner: Renegade Writer’s Guild

Published 9:48 am Thursday, April 14, 2022

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The Opal Necklace

By Julie Terry Cartner

In a continuation of my Lenten journey, I continue to write about simple things that bring me joy. Today, I remember a necklace that was far more than a necklace to me. The memory brings me the delight that comes from being a beloved child. As you journey down your path, I challenge you to find your own memories that bring you appreciation and happiness.

There is a necklace in my dresser drawer, still in the original, dark pink velvet case. The silver heart encases an opal, my birthstone.

In my twelve-year-old mind, this was the most beautiful piece of jewelry. It wasn’t just the necklace; it was the whole package.  The pearlescent opal held hidden sparks of color, deep blues and purples, greens, and dark pinks which turned into fire when the sun hit it.  The silver heart and chain sparkled in the light of Uncle Wilbur and Aunt Renee’s Orient Country Store.

They didn’t carry jewelry as a rule; the store was more of a basic necessities kind of place with a wonderful case of penny candy. With a shared quarter, my sister and I could leave with a bag brimming with that candy: fireballs and jawbreakers, vanilla caramel creams, and chocolate kisses.

But one day, Dad and I were in the store, and there was the necklace. Because opals are much more fragile than most other birthstones, my parents were hesitant to give me any. Being the outdoor kind of person that I was, and still am, an opal necklace was not a very practical present, and my parents were sure that I’d wear it swimming, or ice skating, or just on my impetuous rambles through the woods, climbing trees and crawling into caves.

So, as much as I longed for that opal necklace, I knew it was not to be. But time changes many things. It was the spring of my sixth-grade year, and graduation from the elementary school was a big deal for us Orienters. All the girls wore white dresses, and the boys wore suits. The next year we’d have to ride a bus to Greenport to continue our education. Graduation was more than just finishing seven years of education; it was a rite of passage; we were children no more.

The night of graduation, dressed in my adult white dress, my hair set and curled, I slipped on my white shoes. Dad walked into the room, and I prayed he’d treat me like a young lady and not a child. He couldn’t have done any better. Smiling, he reached in his pocket and pulled out the dark pink velvet box of my dreams. Opening it and revealing the opal necklace, he told me I looked beautiful, and then he told me that as I was growing up, he thought I was old enough to care for the necklace. Opening the clasp, he put it around my neck, kissed me, and told me how proud he was of me.

As an adult, I realize the necklace doesn’t have a great deal of monetary value, but I truly don’t care. Dad let Mom do most of the present shopping, and, though the tags always said, Love Mom and Dad, we all knew the presents were purchased by Mom. But this time, Dad had seen how badly I wanted that necklace, and he purchased it for me. As it turns out, he’d bought it that day, right before my eyes. Who knew he could be that sneaky?

The necklace remains in my dresser. I neither lost it nor damaged it. Rather, I treasured it.  I wear it occasionally, and whenever I fasten the clasp around my neck, I think of my dad, the farmer, the salt of the earth, the man that he was. And yet, despite his practical nature, he bought me a present that was so much more than a necklace. Dad, a man who loved his family, listened with his heart, and helped his baby girl start down the path to adulthood.

Five Generations

By Gaye Hoots

My first memories are of the farmhouse where we lived with my father’s parents: Jasper called “Jap” and Maude Hoots.  My father and grandfather farmed the land, and we lived with my grandparents until I was six years old. The house overlooked the Yadkin River, and no other homes were visible. A large shed housed farm equipment and provided a place to work under shelter. Beyond that was a barn and pasture for pigs; further up the hill was a large cattle barn and the cow pastures. Goats and the dogs had access to the yard.

I grew up raising the runt pig from each litter, playing with the goats and dogs, and watching my grandfather weave fish baskets to catch fish from the river. He also raised vegetables, grapes, strawberries, and had a small orchard. The large barn was for the dairy cows, and I was allowed to roam freely there.

My mother’s parents, Robe and Bessie Fulk were also farmers who lived near Pilot Mountain, but their farm was for grain and tobacco, not animals. Both sets of grandparents raised large families, survived the Depression, and raised families who learned to work hard and provide for themselves and their families.

When I was six years old, we moved to Marchmont, and Daddy managed that large farm and we lived in the large plantation house where we occupied only a few rooms. I started school at Shady Grove School and had chores of bringing in the wood from the garage down the hill to the house: we also worked in the garden and helped with the crops.

My parents had grown up working in the fields and expected the same from us, as did most farm families in the area. This was a healthy lifestyle, and the animals were perks for me, especially the horses, dogs, and pigs. I had a Jersey cow to milk twice daily during my teen years, and we worked in tobacco.

My children grew up seeing my father farm and spent time on the farms of both grandparents. They did not work on the farm but did help my mom occasionally with gardening and shelling beans and went with Daddy when he had time to take them for a tractor ride. They loved the farms and enjoyed times with my grandparents when they were young. Kendra also had a pet pig when she was young.

My oldest granddaughter was the first fifth generation grandchild born into Mother’s family. Grandmother Fulk was the only grandparent living at that time. She lived to be ninety-nine years old. The grandchildren were young when my father died, but mother lived on the farm until the older ones were grown.

When my great- granddaughter was born, my sister and her husband had moved to the farm, but Mother was living, so Jaden became a fifth-generation child. Faye and Nick kept Jaden while her mother worked, which enabled her to spend time on the farm we had lived on. My daughter lived in the house we had lived in as children with her younger children for a few years.

Jaden and her mom live in walking distance of the farm where my sister and her husband live, so the farm is still a thread that runs through five generations. I wonder if I will live to see that fifth-generation great- great grand as my mother and her mother did.

“You Are My Sunshine”

By Marie Craig

     In the seventeen years that I’ve directed the Davie County Singing Seniors, we have sung many, many songs.  Since we love to entertain residents in care centers, we choose songs from their earlier years that they remember and that will bring back happy memories.  We always invite them to sing with us, and many of them do.  We’ve had some wonderful experiences of comatose patients arousing and singing with us.  It’s been special to see this happen.  Music seems to be the last thing to leave a deteriorating mind.

     One of the songs we sing is “You Are My Sunshine.”  Quick research shows that it was written in the 1930s by Jimmie Davis who used it in his campaign to become governor of Louisiana.  Further searching says that Oliver Hood wrote it, Paul Rice copyrighted it in 1937, and sold the rights to Jimmie Davis.  Many other artists have recorded it.

     Everybody seems to know the chorus and sings along with great gusto.  We sang it once to a woman when we were delivering Valentine’s Day Singing Telegrams.  She said, “I hope not,” when we were through.  Afterwards, I read through the words and realized that the verses describe a song of betrayal and broken hearts, not the message we wanted to convey.

     With some minor effort, I rewrote the song.  See if you like this version better.

     “The other night, dear, as I lay sleeping/ I dreamed I held you in my arms./ When I awoke, dear/ I was so grateful/ so I sang this song to you/ You are My Sunshine, My only sunshine.  You make me happy when skies are gray.  You’ll never know, dear, how much I love you.  Please don’t take my sunshine away.

     I’ll always love you/ and make you happy/ and you will always do the same/ You are my hero/ my best friend always/ In my heart you’ll always stay/ You are My Sunshine…

     You told me once, dear/ You really loved me/ and no one else could come between./ We’ve come together to form a family./ I will love you every day/ You are My Sunshine…”

     Hopefully, I won’t be sued, but I believe in making things happier.  We really need that now with so much stress and uncertainty.  Maybe we all need to count to ten, smile, and start over with positive attitudes and comments.

RWG Literary Corner

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