The Literary Corner: Renegade Writer’s Guild

Published 10:08 am Thursday, June 23, 2022

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By Marie Craig

The movie South Pacific was released in 1958.  This was about the same time as many other musicals such as Oklahoma and Carousel.  Back then, we were accustomed to people suddenly bursting into song in the middle of various situations in films.  I don’t remember thinking that this was awkward or unexpected.  For many years, I had a phonograph record of the songs from the movie that I played often and enjoyed singing along with.

I borrowed the DVD South Pacific from the library and watched it last night.  This movie takes place in World War II and contains serious war actions, military guys enjoying life, and of course, love stories.  I had forgotten that it is three hours long.  There was little segue between speaking lines and a sudden explosion into song which caught me off guard almost every time.  I wonder what the difference is.  Perhaps we don’t sing as much now as we did back then.  I am fully aware of the powerful value and therapy of songs and the sentimental feelings that result.

Perhaps we need to burst into song more often. I dare you to try it. YouTube has a video of a young woman in England who takes her guitar on a train ride, hands out papers with the words of a song, and she leads everybody in singing this optimistic song “We All Need Somebody to Lean On.”  Amazingly, everybody joins in, and frowns turn into big smiles.

In researching this movie, I found an article that described a high school wanting to do this play. After review, it was rejected because of sensitive dialogue about minority issues. There is a song in the movie, “You’ve Got to Be Taught.” The basic idea of the song is that prejudice is taught. It was a song before its time when most schools and organizations were still segregated. There’s a good lesson in that song from over 60 years ago that could be helpful today.

Old School

By Gaye Hoots

My condo was built in 1975, and I was told Pamlico County did not have a building code then. The contractor started my building project a few days ago, and I had watched them long enough to leave it in their hands for a few days while I was visiting Advance. I wanted the discolored acrylic shower replaced with a white subway tile shower.

They tore out the old tub/shower and the floor of the bathroom, which had rotted. This was caused by a slow leak from the bottom of the commode. The contractor smelled a slight burning odor and thought he heard a sizzle. When he checked, the drainpipe was dripping onto the only power line under the condo, which had destroyed the insulation on a few inches of the wire. This was potentially dangerous, so he called an electrician to replace and move the wire.

When they tore out the floor, they discovered two floor joists had been cut, presumably by the company that had cut out water pipes when installing a heating system. These were replaced along with the subfloor, and concrete boards were added. You never know what is there if you can’t see it. I was told my crawl space needed more ventilation, which he will address later by adding additional vents and placing a large vent in the wooden door to my crawl space.

The guys at the local hardware store recommended the contractor who worked with his son and another worker. They work hard to ensure I am happy with their work and tell me, “If it is not right, we will make it right.”

The contractor is teaching his son as they work together. They appear to be 6’5” tall, and both were working in a bathroom that is 5’x7,’ which must be stressful. He has the son measure and cut the tile and watches him place the tiles as he butters the next tile.  I am obsessive about symmetry, so he aligned the tiles perfectly, including the niche on the back wall. They worked patiently until the ceiling and the 60”x32” shower were completed.

I was impressed that the father took the time to teach his son a trade and that the young man was receptive to this. When he had completed the shower, I think he was as proud of it as I was. The son installed all the fixtures, painted the room, and scraped off the popcorn ceiling and painted that. The walls were original, and they had sanded and repaired the rough spots, but after it was painted the father decided it was not perfect, he smoothed the repaired areas again his son repainted.

They painted other areas, including both front doors. When the second coat of paint dried, I looked them over and questioned whether they needed a third coat. I decided that I was being too picky, and I did not mention it. The contractor looked them over carefully and asked that a third coat of paint be applied.

We are down to the finishing line, and the contractor is paying for a cleaner to come tomorrow and clean for me. I plan to have them return and redo my laundry room and am looking forward to it. .

Congratulations, Class of 2022

By Julie Terry Cartner

Palms sweating, heart pounding, Louisa stood in line awaiting her name being announced over the loudspeaker. Finally. Yolanda Louisa Alvarez. I did it, she thought. I did it! Stepping carefully onto the stage, her heels tip-tapping in a rhythm matching her heartbeat, she remembered the instructions. “Take the diploma in your left hand; shake hands with your right.” And then she was across the stage, her brain barely registering the handshakes, the unexpected hugs, the click of the cameras, her family, ugh, her family cheering from the bleachers even though announcements had requested all applause wait until after all had graduated.

But how could they not cheer, she thought. She, the youngest of four, had accomplished what the others had not. She, the lone daughter, with three older, protective brothers, had navigated her way through the required courses, sometimes as challenging as navigating her way through the hallways of school, to emerge victorious at the end. She, the first high school graduate in her family, had the chance to succeed, to have a life beyond assembly lines and hard laborious jobs.

Returning to her seat, she slipped the cover open, eagerly anticipating the moment she saw her name in print on the certificate of graduation. Instead, shock, fear, and nausea. The folder was empty. What had she failed? What had she forgotten to do? Was it physics? Anatomy? Had she forgotten to turn in her term paper? Logic warred with emotion. She’d aced her physics and anatomy exams. She’d gotten a respectable B on her term paper. She’d passed all her classes. Fees, then? Fines? Had she turned in all her books? Again, logic prevailed. Someone would have told her if she’d failed to take care of any of those things.

Yet, as all her hopes and dreams faded away; no diploma meant no college, and no college meant no medical school, a flame of determination flickered brightly. I will do it, she thought, one way or another. But I am sure I did everything. It’s just a misunderstanding.

Then, as the ceremony drew to a close, she picked up on the words coming across the speakers… “Don’t forget, graduates, go to the gym to pick up your diplomas.”

A wave of relief washed over her, as she remembered the words from the director at practice. We were told about this…they didn’t want to risk giving the wrong diploma to the wrong person; the folders would be empty, and diplomas would be handed out in the gym by faculty members. Louisa smiled for the first time in what seemed like ages as the tension slid off her neck like a turtle shedding its shell.

Now that the last senior had crossed the stage, the declaration of graduation reverberated across the stadium, tassels were moved from right to left, then caps pitched into the air by exuberant graduates, Louisa stood, statue-like, cap firmly in her hands, the reality of the moment washing over her live an avalanche of sunflowers. Joy, exultation, and wonderment vying for supremacy, then co-mingling in a blanket of pride. I made it, she thought again, and, like the speaker said, the future is mine. I will show the world. I have arrived. I will make my statement, and people will hear me. With that, Louisa made her way proudly to her cheering family, now relishing their excitement.

Graduation, a door, open and waiting, starts a journey that can lead in many directions. Congratulations to the Class of 2022, and best wishes.