The Literary Corner: Renegade Writer’s Guild

Published 6:00 am Wednesday, September 7, 2022

Libraries

By Linda H. Barnette

My first concrete memory of our local library was the one that was downstairs in the building next to the courthouse. Mrs. Blanche Hanes Clement was the librarian. A tall and imposing lady, she was also very nice. On that particular day, as it appears in my mind’s eye, I somehow got up enough courage to ask her to suggest a book that I might like. She responded that I had read almost every book in her collection except for “War and Peace” so I checked that one out and trudged through the Russian snow with Napoleon Bonaparte and his soldiers. Mrs. Clement is long gone, yet I realize now that what she said to me that day was a pivotal moment for me—that someone whom I admired thought I might be bright enough to read that book.

When I went to Catawba College, three teenage girls were squeezed into one tiny dorm room. Being the more serious student of the three, I spent many evenings in the Corriher-Linn-Black Library doing homework. I fondly remember Mrs. Wentz, the librarian who was married to one of my professors. The library was my quiet place that I craved as an only child of parents who encouraged study.

After graduation, the Hodges Library at the University of Tennessee became my sanctuary for the two years that I was a student. Of the four girls who lived at the house at 1221 W. Clinch Ave., I was the only English major as well as graduate assistant. I spent many hours in the “stacks” either reading, working on a paper, or doing research for a professor. Those were the days before computers, and we had to take notes on index cards.

Many years later when we moved back to Mocksville, I volunteered in the history area with Miss Flossie, who had been my 9th grade science teacher. I took my son to story hour, and we both checked out lots of books. To my great delight, I was invited to join the Board of Trustees of the Davie County Library in 1980. By then there was a new building on Main Street that housed the library, which had been dedicated in 1966.

During the years that I was on the board, we realized the need for more space and asked Elizabeth Martin to chair our fundraising effort. She helped many volunteers and citizens to raise the money for the addition of the History Room, which was named in honor of James Wall and Miss Flossie Martin, thus the Martin-Wall History room. A multi-purpose room was also part of the addition, and today many different community groups use that room for meetings and programs.

In 2012 after serving for 30 years on the board, I was honored with a resolution and a plaque by the Board of County Commissioners. I am proud to have been a part of such a wonderful community effort.

For me, libraries have always been an important part of my life, and still are.  I love the fact that libraries are places where people can read all they want to and thus become better citizens.

Summer Constellation:  Draco the Dragon

By David R. Moore

On warm August evenings, relax under the stars in a lounge chair and try to spot this constellation.  The constellation Draco looks more like a snake than a dragon.  It is challenging to pick out, but you will feel a sense of accomplishment when you discern its backward “S” shape.

The brightest part of the constellation is the head, a distinctive trapezoid of four stars high in the northern sky near the overhead zenith.  It is to the lower left of the Vega, the brightest star in Lyra the Lyre, which can easily be seen by looking straight up into the August night sky.

After you spot the head, look for the next two brightest stars to the lower right.  From there, you will see a line of stars that weaves to the upper left and then to the lower left as the constellation serpentines with the tail tapering off between the Big and Little Dippers.

From mythology, Draco the Dragon provided security for Hera, the queen of the gods.  Draco guarded the sacred golden apples that Zeus had given her at their wedding.  The golden apples were kept in the Garden of Hesperides.  One night, Hercules broke into the garden to snatch the apples as one of his twelve great labors.  Draco caught Hercules in the act, and a great battle ensued.  In the end, Hercules killed the dragon with a knife to its heart and absconded with the golden apples.  Hera honored Draco by placing his body in the heavens.

Grandparents

By  E. Bishop

Don’t forget Grandparents Day, especially if you’re lucky enough to still have them in your life.  Unfortunately, mine were gone before I was old enough to remember them.  So, I have requested nieces to write down snippets of how they remember their grandmother (my mother.)  Mother is no longer here to defend herself, but I believe she would say “that’s about right” and be ok with these statements knowing she was well loved.

“For years, she was known as Maw Frye before a few grands started calling her Granny.  Spitfire personality, full of life, hardworking woman, good cook and made beautiful quilts her great-grandchildren still love.  You knew better than to cross her.  Still remember her sweet potato pies with the little crust pieces on top.  I think my sense of style came from her.”  Robin

“Her love of flowers…she always rooted flowers to give us, always had a cat or dog around,  had funny choice of clothes with red plaid dresses and argyle socks, always had apron on. She would cover herself from head to toe to go berry picking (fair skinned); I thought she would get overheated.”  Angelia

“Tough as nails.  The real-life Granny from Beverly Hillbillies, except she never struck oil. Gardener, fisher-woman, quilter.”  Melinda

Trina’s best early memories were of going to Granny’s on Sunday after church to play and eating her homemade lite bread with butter and sugar. “Granny would let my daughter, Tanya, play outside with sheets and blankets; however, one time they were left outside. Granny made them into a quilt for Tanya and I paid her $20 each for two quilts.”

“Maw was the best grandma in the world even though she didn’t have a television; that was my favorite place in the world to be.  We always had something to do.  I remember playing under her quilt frame while she quilted; she wanted everyone she knew to have one of her quilts.  She taught me how to work in the garden, how to catch fish at the river and she would pass out a whooping when needed.  I loved spending Saturday nights there so we could go to church on Sundays.  Maw’s was my vacation and safe place.”  Peggy

Mary Ann tried to keep it short, but the more she wrote, the more she remembered… “Granny Frye’s was my very favorite place to go when I was growing up. I loved it there.  So many memories – the lil red wagon she’d load up with dough bait and poles and take us to the river to fish, picking blackberries, snapping beans, eating honey straight from the hives they’d just robbed; most favorite thing was roasting fresh peanuts on the old wood stove.  Oh, how I love fresh parched peanuts to this day!!  Baking sweet taters on the wood stove, filling them up with real butter we helped churn…cutting, ironing squares for quilts she would make… sleeping on quilt pallets on the floor.  I still treasure the quilt she made for me when I was nine.  Always cousins to play with.  Plenty of chickens, cats and a dog named Zippy.  Misbehaved-switch nearby.  Sometimes, she’d get tickled at us; I can still hear her laughter.  And above all…Christmas at Granny’s was the best!  Everyone gathered at her house, lots of food, and Santa came…and the smell of the old wood stove.  Learned so much there!  I wish I could go back in time for one more Christmas with her.”

God Is in Your Story

By Stephanie Williams Dean

Recently I attended a writer’s retreat with hope of refining my craft. In a workshop, we were given a writing prompt – a question. Writers were instructed to write for 15 minutes – without removing the pen from paper. The question was, what’s a physical characteristic you don’t like about yourself? So I took off writing about being of muscular build and struggling with weight all my life. There were still minutes on the clock – and we weren’t allowed to stop writing. So I was forced to go deeper – into my childhood. Now, I was in dangerous territory. Being the tallest girl in the class made me the largest girl and subject to name-calling.

     When the timer went off, we put down our pens. It was my turn to read my writing aloud to the class, so I began. From the first sentence – my tears began to flow. I cried from beginning to end. A couple of people cried with me. My instructor encouraged me to read it for group assembly – where all 100 writers come together to hear readings. I’m brave, so I signed up – I was to be the final read the following day.

     When the time came to read – I was waiting to be called to the stage. I began to get heart palpitations, my palms were clammy, and anxiety was creeping in. But, when I stepped on stage and took the microphone – I felt good to go. I began to read. But when I got to the middle of the page – my throat clenched up, and I began to cry. I couldn’t speak. Darn it. Tears ran down my face – I was completely frozen and silent as I looked at my audience. There was a deafening silence – you could have heard a pin drop in there. Folks were on the edge of their seats – waiting to see what I’d say or do next. My hand began to shake. Then, fellow writers called out to me, “Go, Stephanie, you can do it!” I took a deep breath, regained my composure, and read through to the end with no more tears. Thank you, Lord.

     After speaking my final sentence, something happened that I was unprepared for. I received a standing ovation. People were hooting and whistling – it seemed every person in there was on their feet and clapping. I had shared deeply personal feelings and experiences – and they had received it – overwhelmingly.

     For the remainder of that day and the next, strangers approached and hugged me – thanking me for telling my story. They thanked me for being brave. Most of the women could relate to it – but I had men telling me they, too, had suffered over their lifetimes from feeling too small, short, or inadequate in other ways. We shared similar feelings. I had written this story about myself – but it had touched on a common thread among us all.

     God was in my story. The Holy Spirit was behind every stroke of my pen on the paper. My words had benefitted others who heard it. The writing highlighted our commonality and comforted those who had similarly suffered. My reading united us – as we so often feel alone in our situations and troubles. But we are never alone. God is in every one of our stories.

     Beautiful lyrics in a favorite contemporary Christian song by Katie Nicole and Big Daddy Weave, God Is in This Story, sing, “There’s torn up pages in this book, words that tell me I’m no good, chapters that defined me for so long. But the hands of grace and endless love, dusted off and picked me up, told my heart that hope is never gone. God is in this story, God is in the details; even in the broken parts, He holds my heart, He never fails. When I’m at my weakest, I will trust in Jesus, always in the highs and lows, the One who goes before me. God is in this story.

     He’s in every detail of your story, too.