The Literary Corner: Renegade Writer’s Guild

Published 2:00 pm Tuesday, May 16, 2023

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Fair Catawba

By Linda H. Barnette

Seeing all of the graduation posts at this time of year, especially those from my alma mater, Catawba College, takes my memory back to my school days there.

The beginning of my first year was nothing short of traumatic! As an only child, I was used to my own room and a lot of privacy. On move-in day I met my 2 roommates for the first time. We were to all live in a tiny room with 2 bunk beds and a single bed.  We had a tiny closet and shared a bathroom with the girls in the next room. So all of that took much getting used to. Very early, I realized that if I wanted a good place to study I should go to the library, which became my home away from home for all 4 years.

Luckily, I was a born learner and a product of parents who read to me from the very beginning. As such I soaked up the material in English and American literature, British and U.S. history, philosophy, and art and music appreciation.

Most of my professors were excellent, but my 2 favorites were Dr. Raymond Jenkins and Dr. Elisabeth Scranton.

When Dr. Jenkins, Professor of English, walked in the room, he greeted us always with a big smile that made us want to learn.  In his class he also encouraged us to memorize lines in plays and poetry. Then at intervals we had what he called “jewel matches.”  They worked exactly like spelling bees!  Although I was very shy, I nevertheless was often the last one standing and thus the winner!  Apparently, I made a good impression on him because he asked me to be his assistant. For $5.00 a week I generally read his English 101 papers and did other little things like write notes on the board if he were going to be out of class for any reason. He gets all the credit for encouraging me to go to grad school also!

My history teacher, Dr Scranton, was a tall, aristocratic lady type.  She was single and must have devoted her life to teaching. She was very strict and required much. Many of the girls were afraid of her, but my reaction was to study hard so as not to be embarrassed by not knowing the answer to a question.

Although I did not realize it then, my studies in so many areas at a liberal arts college opened my eyes to ideas and possibilities that I had never imagined. With the encouragement from so many great teachers, I learned to read deeply, to comprehend, and to form ideas and write them down. My mind expanded, and I learned to think.  There is no greater gift, and in teaching I passed along not only knowledge but also encouraged my students to learn, to imagine, and to create.  Teachers really do affect eternity, as Henry Adams said so long ago.

Food Drive

By E. Bishop

At least six days a week, letter carriers see firsthand the needs of the community they work in.  Traditionally, not only do carriers deliver the mail but they provide a community service by being involved when something needs to be done, whether it is collecting funds for a charity like the Muscular Dystrophy Association, watching over their elderly patrons through the Carrier Alert program, assisting the American Red Cross during times of disaster, or rescuing victims of fires, crime, and other unfortunate events.  These are great areas of involvement for any employee of any company, but the one that stands out for letter carriers in the month of May is the Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive Day, which was held Saturday, May 13th.

Once again, cartoonist Jeff Keane provided special artwork to promote the drive for this 31st annual event.  The drive is held each year on the second Saturday in May, which falls right before Mother’s Day.  The reason being that the food banks suggested it be held in the spring when the stock of food donated during the winter holidays was starting to run low.

As a retired letter carrier, I remember those days well when we had to deliver the mail and pick up the donated food left by our patrons. It was a tiring yet fun day. The cards (and sometimes plastic bags) were a pain to deliver several days ahead of the drive.  Some complained of course, but we would remind ourselves of how lucky we were to have a job with food on the table and that the less fortunate may be just down on their luck or have no family support.  For whatever reason, someone may need a little extra help sometimes.  Being involved in picking up that food on that Saturday made us feel like we made a difference.

All the postal patrons that donated food this past Saturday for the Letter Carrier Food Drive – THANK YOU.  You will be making a difference, especially for the summer months when children are out of school.  Food donated in Davie County will be given to the Storehouse for Jesus, which is a non-profit Christian ministry given freely to those in need.

     For all those involved in this concerted effort, feel free to consider yourself “showering motherly love” to your community.   

Go Ask Mamma

By Stephanie Williams Dean

All my life when there were things I wanted to know, I’d just ask you, Mamma.

But there were things you never talked about – and I never asked. I wish I had.

Like why did you cry in church?

Maybe you thought of your baby sister, Pearl, who died shortly after birth. Or you had memories of your oldest brother, Frank, who caught pneumonia and died in his early 20s. Or maybe thoughts of brother, Buck, a pilot who was missing in action, lost at sea, and later, when his body was recovered and returned, and his funeral was held.

Maybe that’s why you cried.

Or it could have been the memories of your younger sister, Sarah, who died of a ruptured appendix – because with 13 children, your dad couldn’t afford to pay another doctor’s bill. They waited too long, and infection set in. Just one year apart, you and Sarah shared a bedroom, sleeping in the same bed.

I wish I’d asked you why you cried.

Or maybe it was having to watch your parents suffer the loss of children – and your family was never the same. Maybe it was because your mother had to go stay at the hospital because she was having another “spell,” and as one of the younger children, you didn’t get the care and love you needed. Your older sister, Rene, had to take care of you and your little sister, Hattie.

Maybe that’s why you cried.

Or it could be because you lived in such a small home that so many had to share a bedroom – and you couldn’t wait to leave that place, but later, had only one wish – and that was to go back home, again.   

I wish I’d asked you why you cried.

Maybe thinking of your sister, Edna’s young daughter, Tenra Belle, when killed by a drunk driver who hit her head on. Or about your sister Harriet’s newborn grandbaby was accidentally dropped, and the baby girl died of head injuries.  Maybe you cried remembering your sister, Virginia’s daughter, Boo, was diagnosed with bone cancer and passed away so young. Or memories of your remaining brother, Leon’s, boy who was killed during the Viet Nam War when two friendly helicopter blades collided, and shrapnel punctured his heart.

Maybe that’s why you cried.

Even if I’d thought to ask you – I might have been too young to understand. I was just a child myself.  Life leaves no one unscathed. We find our own ways to deal with painful memories and losses of life.

But I wish I’d asked you, Mamma.