The Literary Corner: Renegade Writer’s Guild

Published 12:15 am Wednesday, October 26, 2022

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Thru the Years

By Gaye Hoots

This summer, I celebrated my 77th birthday and counted my blessings because my health is good, and I spend more time looking after my kids than they do looking after me. That could change any moment, as it did with my parents, my mom had a stroke, and while she made progress, the brain damage was irreversible. My dad had a heart attack and amputations due to diabetes. I am a nurse, but it was still hard to believe the changes in my strong parents.

My sister and brother have health issues that required lifestyle changes and limited their traveling. I am grateful each day for all that I have. It hurts to see those you love deal with health issues. The last weekend I was in Advance, I visited Bob and Betty Potts, Bob had fallen again, and Betty is managing to look after him at home. I hear Ruby Potts was seriously ill and is in the hospital, and Ruth and Charlie Latham are dealing with multiple health problems.

I went to see Judy and Sam Howard, who are in seriously declining health which they and their children deal with. This was the last weekend they spent together before Sam went to the hospital. He is now in Cadence Assisted Living in Clemmons, and Judy is still being assessed. When I visited, they were not focused on themselves but had picked up a large box of chicken and fixings to take to the grandson of a church member who died, leaving the grandson alone in the house. They were barely managing but trying to care for others. This deeply touched me.

Judy and I have been friends since elementary school, played basketball and softball together, raised our children and grandchildren, and double-dated. We spent a lot of time laughing together, and talking about old times brought the spark back to her eyes and elicited the giggle I love.

Another schoolmate I follow on Facebook is Bill Evans though I haven’t seen him since high school. He has an incredible resiliency beginning with Rheumatic Fever his freshmen year. He recovered and won a football scholarship to Wake Forest but then had heart damage related to Rheumatic Fever. In the last few years, he had his aortic valve replaced, recovered and was hit from behind by a drunken driver causing back damage, which he overcame, only to fall off a ladder while cleaning his gutters and crushed some vertebrae. This was during COVID, so his family could not visit, but he managed to slog through all the therapy and resume living in his home with his pets. A while back, he had a stroke, and recovery is slow but every few days, he posts increments of progress.

Most of my classmates enjoy good health and are very caring about others. Charles and Lorene Markland, Charles and Patsy Crenshaw, Bill and Kathy Junker, Grimes and Fran Parker, Norman and Patsy Woodward to name a few. Pete Frye and Gail were generous too, and we miss Pete and admire Gail who is still serving her community.

When I get frustrated and see the headlines that indicate the world is going to hell in a handbasket, I remember all the loving, generous people I am fortunate enough to know and count my blessings. They are the backbone of our country and still in the majority.


By Marie Craig

I drove 300 miles last Friday to north Georgia so that I could camp for three days with seven members of my family.  It was a lovely weekend with gorgeous autumn colors in the mountain woods.  We had a great time and celebrated two birthdays.

The backs of my car seats all fold down flat, so I use my car as a camper. After a long drive and visit with my family, it was nice to crawl into my car and sleep in preparation for Saturday’s activities and Sunday’s drive back home, 300 more miles. My car was a little crowded, and I had to slither in rather than sit up straight to prepare for bed. But it was warmer and cleaner than sleeping outside.  I woke up at 3 one night and lay there thinking about a similar trip that my maternal grandfather made once a year.

David Richardson lived with his family in the Sheffield township of Davie County which is in the northwest corner.  He was a farmer and grew various crops that he loaded onto his wagon and took to Winston-Salem to sell.  He died when I was about 2.5, so I don’t remember him. My main hobby is family history, so I have attempted to learn more about him from other people.  My mother gave me some basic facts many years ago, but I have so many more questions.  I was fortunate to interview a man from that community who was a hundred years old who remembered David.

He told me that David took his two mules and wagon loaded with crops into Forsyth County and spent the night in a low place near a grist mill. Then early the next morning, he would travel the rest of the way to downtown Winston-Salem. He also said that David had a cover over the wagon and was able to leave space so that he could sleep in the wagon. This description went through my head as I tried to go back to sleep in my cramped quarters, and I tried to picture David in the wagon, anxious to make some petty cash the next day which was hard to come by, being a farmer.

I have also tried to pinpoint the area where he spent the night. I used to think it was alongside Highway 158 about a mile from the Yadkin River in Forsyth County, but there was no grist mill there. So I attempted to learn where he’d camped. I had to do some research for data to make sense of it. David married Molly in 1896, so he probably made this annual trip many times. There are so many unanswered questions. What route did he take from Sheffield? How long did it take? How fast can two mules go in walking over 33 miles? How did he cross the river?

I have a copy of a 1930 County Road Survey that shows 801going across the top of Davie County. Perhaps that was his route. If he went 801, that would get him to the east edge of Davie. The same map shows that what we call highway 158 was then 65, and Highway 601 was labeled as 80.   

Google Maps says that if you walked these 33 miles that it would take 11 hours. I imagine two mules would go faster than that.

The data involved in crossing the river is more complicated. The first bridge built in that area across the Yadkin River was a steel bridge finished in 1914. Previously, a ferry just north of the bridge had operated since 1848. So, when David wanted to cross the Yadkin River before 1914, he would have used the ferry which lined up with Lasater Mill on the far side. This mill still exists on the north side of I-40 near Clemmons. After 1914, he would have used the steel bridge to make his way to Winston-Salem.

My mother told me that she went with him, but only once.  She remembered how long the trip was.  He had bought an oilcloth tablecloth to take home.  This has a definite odor to it that was intensified in the heat of the full sun.  My mother said it almost made her sick, and that she had never been able to tolerate that particular smell again.  She was born in 1909 and probably went with him after 1914, so she would have crossed the river on the bridge.

My round trip of 600 miles took about the same length of time that David’s trip took just getting to Winston-Salem.  I was grateful to have air conditioning, upholstered seats, and an easier trip.  However, I’d trade that to be able to ride with him and have plenty of time to interview him and learn more about my family.

Usurping the Power

By Julie Terry Cartner

     He’d finally reached his limit. He couldn’t wait any longer. The situation had escalated, and he was afraid if he waited, she’d be dead. Or he would. Or both.

     He clearly saw the signs that, for years, had been hidden but were now as visible as the cast he once wore on his arm. The bruises, the winces of pain, the trembling smiles, the forced bravery. His dad, his conscience destroyed by alcohol, had been abusing his mom for years.

     He’d heard the excuses: clumsy, distracted, the dog…she’d had a million of them. Even knowing she’d been trying to protect his childhood, his innocence, and ultimately, his well-being, it still saddened him that she’d felt the need. He should have protected her. Even as he thought the last, a brief smile slipped across his face as he pictured his five-year-old self attacking his nearly 200-pound father. His deep brown eyes crinkled in amusement at the thought of his younger self attacking the ankle of the brute, or maybe, monkey-like, jumping on his back.

     But years had gone by, and, as he matured, he’d realized that his mother’s bruises were more than clumsiness; they were the signs of abuse. At twelve he’d tried to defend her, only to be thrown across the room. A broken arm and concussion had taught him the value of planning and patience.

     Prior to this realization, he’d been uninterested in athletics, but that had all changed when the next school year started. He’d tried out for the football team and signed up for weightlifting. Steadily, thanks to great coaching and an even greater personal drive, he grew stronger and more agile. Mowing lawns had garnered enough cash to enroll in self-defense classes during the off-season. Now, at sixteen, he was strong, agile, and skilled. He could protect himself and his mother.

     The previous night, his dad had beaten his mother, displeased because she hadn’t had his dinner, hot and ready, on the table when he stumbled drunkenly through the door around midnight. He’d grasped her around her throat, calling her vile names, before he’d thrown her down and stormed back out of the house. Asleep, he hadn’t heard the attack until his father slammed the door. Now, livid bruises encircled her neck. She’d attempted to cover them with a scarf, but he knew.

     Instead of going to school, he confronted his mother and told her he was through waiting as he had promised the night his father had broken his arm. “Bullies only know one thing. They need to be met, force to force. We will end this today.” His mother, cowed by years of abuse, tried to protest, but he refused to be stopped.

     As he had been doing for the past several years, he took pictures of his mom’s new bruises, then completed posters he’d been working on. The caption, “Do you know this man?” was followed by a picture of his father, a well-known businessman, then a second caption, “This is what he does at home,” which was followed by pictures of his mother’s various injuries. He made multiple copies and scattered them throughout the town, placing the largest one outside the door of his father’s office building. Then they waited. It didn’t take long for his dad to hear of the posters and return home in a rage, clutching one of the crumpled posters in his hand.

     “What’s the meaning of this?” he roared, slamming through the door. His mother, across the room, cringed in fear, but he was ready. With an uppercut to his father’s jaw, he knocked him down in one well-placed jab. “It’s over, Dad. Now everyone knows, and I’m no longer the kid you can push around. Your bags are packed,” he added, pointing to the pile of boxes and suitcases. “If anything happens to Mom or me,” you will be blamed.” Smiling grimly, he added, “You better hope we stay healthy.” Then looking his father squarely in the eyes, he finished. “Your reign of terror is over. Leave.”

“Children who witness domestic violence or are victims of abuse themselves are at serious risk for long-term physical and mental health problems.”