The Literary Corner: Renegade Writer’s Guild

Published 9:59 am Saturday, February 18, 2023

A Love Story

By Julie Terry Cartner

Grasping the small box in his gnarled hand, Colin rushed, as quickly as he could, down the cobbled path. He couldn’t be late. After all, tradition was, well, tradition. He remembered the first time…

They’d been on their first date, a Friday night football game, followed by coffee at the local diner and bakery, Paradise Sweets. He’d ordered a slice of hot apple pie, a’ la mode; Molly had declined. But, as he’d sliced his fork into the pie, releasing the tart-sweet aroma of baked apples, spicy cinnamon, and warm nutmeg, she’d hummed, just a tiny soft sound, but enough to let Colin know she’d declined, not because she didn’t want the pie, but because she was, who knew at that point? Counting calories? Trying not to spend his money? Too nervous? He didn’t know, but at that moment, he was pretty sure he wanted to take care of her that night, and perhaps forever. Without a word, he offered her the first bite, his blue eyes twinkling in kindness, and, almost without thinking, she’d opened her mouth and accepted the warm, tangy deliciousness. He then asked the waitress for a second fork, and they’d shared the treat.

That was the beginning of their Friday night tradition. First, they’d attended the games because that was what high schoolers did, then, after graduation, because, in small towns, that’s where everyone went. Years later, they’d watched their children on the field playing, on the sidelines cheering, or in the bleachers enjoying the game. And even later, their grandchildren doing the same. Traditions: they helped the world make sense in a somewhat senseless time.

That night, the first night he’d shared his pie with her, he’d driven her home, walked her to her porch, kissed her on the cheek, and murmured a soft goodnight. He’d wanted to kiss her properly, but he reasoned with himself that he’d have that opportunity later, and not to rush things.

He’d been right. The next morning he’d gotten up early, returned to Paradise Sweets, and bought an apple Danish. He’d swung by her house on his way to work and left the pastry hanging on the front doorknob. Ringing the bell once, he slid back into his car and went to his part time job at Franklin Farm Supply. He’d loaded bags of feed and various farming supplies. He’d re-stocked shelves, and helped little old ladies find goodies for their pets. At the end of the day, tired, but happy, he headed for his truck, only to find a bag sitting on the front seat. Opening it, he found an apple fritter, sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and still warm for the oven. He looked around just in time to see Molly’s car pulling out of the parking lot.

He’d followed her, and when she pulled down a side road, he parked behind her. Slipping out of his car and into hers, he’d leaned over and kissed her.

It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, smart people don’t fight it. They dated through the remainder of their senior year and for the next two years. He gave her time to get the education she wanted, and she gave him time to build a house beside his family’s orchard. They married in a simple ceremony at their families’ church and settled into the life they were meant to lead.

Fifty-three years later, Colin still got butterflies when Molly entered the room. She lit up the deepest recesses of his life. Now, on the anniversary of their first date, he rushed to her, hot apple pie a’ la mode in hand, before the ice cream could melt.

Settling into a chair pulled closely to the hospital bed, he opened the lid, allowing the fragrance to escape. “You wouldn’t order this on our first date, my Molly, but I’ve never let you deny yourself again.” Sliding the fork into the fragrant pie, Colin fed her the first bite, even as tears glistened in his eyes. “Here’s to you, my forever love. Happy Anniversary,” he said, as he stared at the woman, still lovely to him, even surrounded by the accoutrements of the nursing home.


By Marie Craig

     The next time you are riding on Wilkesboro Street near Davie Florist and Lambert Funeral Home, take a look at that spot and travel back in time to 1940.  Right there was a campus of the federally-funded Civilian Conservation Corps.  In researching the two newspapers in Mocksville, The Mocksville Enterprise [leaning to the Democrat party] and the Davie Record [Republican-slant] I found references from 1934 of local men who were serving in CCC Camps in the Smokies, Charlotte, Marion, Greensboro, and Lexington.

     The 1937 papers described the fact that North Carolina would have 52 camps.  They were an attempt to pull people out of the Great Depression slump, with young men arriving with almost nothing.  They were issued uniforms and fed nutritious food and were paid $30 per month, with a requirement that $25 had to be sent home to their family.  Thirty dollars in 1940 is equivalent to $643.43 in 2022 according to an inflation calculator online.

     Their work involved road building, planting trees, and forest fire fighting.  The May 20, 1937 Mocksville Enterprise had this quote: “The work in these camps has given them courage and self- reliance.  These young men, who constitute a good cross section of average American life, have picked up habits of work and also special skills which enabled many of them to step out of camp into jobs in useful private employment.”

     The June 12, 1940 edition of the Davie Record had this information, “The population of Mocksville has increased about 15 per cent in the past week.  About 200 CCC boys have arrived from Lexington and taken up quarters in their new camp on Wilkesboro street.”  Another article in the same paper: “Uncle Sam’s “soldiers of the soil,” Civilian Conservation Corps Company No. 3408, are busily engaged in establishing headquarters in Mocksville.”  Online research gives the camp name as Daniel Boone.

   “Recently moved from a point near Lexington, the 179 young men in the camp, not including officers, are working now under the direction of civilian carpenter foremen and carpenters in erecting their camp buildings.  The camp is located on the Statesville road, on the edge of the Mocksville city limits.

   “First Lieut. Charlos R. Wright, Jr., is in charge of the camp, assisted by Second Lieut. W.D. Vestal, with Dr. Daniel Rothstein as camp surgeon.  The discipline of the members of the company is under the direction of these officers, while they work under the direction of the soil conservation service, G.B. Foster, project superintendent.   More buildings are to be used than were in the camp at Lexington.  At the present camp there are or will be five barracks, a mess hall, recreation hall, school building, officers’ quarters, headquarters building, infirmary and other necessary bath and toilet buildings.  This is in the CCC division.  In addition the soil conservation service, located adjacent to the CCC camp, includes four new garages, S.C.S. quarters, and S.C.S. headquarters.  Not all of the numerous buildings in the camp can be seen from the highway.  Most of the barracks are built in the woods, giving the boys a cool place this summer to rest on their time off and to sleep during the hot nights.  The camp presents a busy atmosphere as the boys work on completing the movable houses, getting everything in readiness for a long stay.

   “With the exception of the help being given by the several civilian carpenters, the boys are doing the work themselves.  They have built roads through the camp and otherwise conditioned the grounds in addition to putting up the buildings.

   “First building completed was the mess hall.  Here several boys work faithfully peeling the thousands of potatoes and otherwise preparing the huge quantities of food that only 179 hungry young men can put behind their belts three times a day.  The mess hall, without doubt the most popular spot in the camp, is under the direction of Mess Sergeant I.L. Wright.

   “Once the camp is properly established the personnel will begin their usual work in repairing soil erosion damage and in working with the landowners in the area in preventing erosion in the future.”

     Davie Record, April 8, 1942: “The CCC Camp which was opened here nearly two years ago, has been dismantled, and most of the boys left for their various homes and other camps on Wednesday.”

     Daniel Boone CCC lasted only two years, but the impact of improving lives and environment was mighty.  Except for these newspaper articles, there is almost no information about the camp.  Many of the men who grew stronger and more dedicated served in World War Two.

Caught in Passing

By Gaye Hoots

When Hanes Mall opened, I worked part-time at Belk and at full-time job. This was before we heard frequent stories of child trafficking, but as a mother, I was always alert to children who might be in distress. At Belk a small child’s cries alerted me to a well-dressed man rushing toward the door to the parking lot holding a crying toddler in his arms.

I stepped in front of him and asked what was wrong with the child. He explained that his wife had insisted that he take their daughter with him and give her some time alone. This was his first time taking her without her mom, and she was not happy. I asked the girl her name and if she knew this man, and she said, “Daddy.”

“Where are you going with him?” I inquired. “Home to Mommy,” she snubbed. I apologized to the man, who told me he understood and said, “I am in as big a hurry to get her back to Mommy as she is to get there!”

A few years ago, I was in Lowe’s Building Supply and heard a baby about six months old crying as if in acute distress. A young woman had the baby in a shopping cart carrier and had a toddler by her hand. I kept them in sight, and when the cries increased, I spoke to the mother, saying it sounded like her baby was in pain.

She explained that the child began to cry each time she took her into a store but stated that as a single mother, she had no choice. I thought a single mother overwhelmed with two small children could be a warning sign, so I continued to follow them, as the baby cried. I trailed them through checkout and the door. Just like clockwork, the cries ceased the minute she was outside.

The mom said, “See, it happens every time, and I don’t know if it is the overhead lights, the fans, or the noise, but it never fails.” Do you have any idea why she does this?”

I said my only guess is that she is trying to train you not to take her into stores. The mom snorted but thanked me for my concern.

Last week a young mom told me about problems she was having with disciplining her twelve-year- old. She stated they had not gotten her a Christmas present because of her behavior. I felt this was a little harsh, but she continued that her daughter had complained that they did not spend quality time with her, so for Christmas, both parents spent the whole day doing activities she chose and fixed meals she requested. She told them this was one of her best Christmases ever.

I also toured a camp that has programs for kids four through twelve with a two-year age range. The number of days offered varied, and the cost was expensive. I was surprised there was a long waiting list as it was entirely outdoors unless there were storm warnings; parents had to pack all snacks and a change of clothes because they were allowed to play as we did on the farm as children. The only play equipment I saw was an old tire swing and a tether ball. I watched kids overflow the water fountain to make a large mudhole and play happily in the mud. They were left to their imaginations; two girls sat at a picnic table talking, one climbed into a low-hanging tree, and the others played in the mud. There were two friendly dogs on the property, and the staff did not call instructions to the kids; they just tried to keep them in sight.

The girls I was with were excited to sign up. I asked one of them if she was sure, and her reply was, “Yes, I want to play in the rain, and the mud, and the dog poop just like everyone else!”

I think this would be a good income maker for anyone with a few acres and small farm animals.