The Literary Corner: Renegade Writer’s Guild

Published 12:31 pm Tuesday, June 27, 2023

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White House China

By Stephanie Williams Dean

Hospitality has always been associated with ceremonial eating and drinking – including the foods served and the tableware on which food was served.  Ever since John Adams moved in, the first President to occupy the White House, an increased interest in foods served helped to inspire a formal collection of White House china.   

When First Lady, Caroline Harrison, arrived on the scene in 1889, a new, fresh perspective was offered. Mrs. Harrison was a talented watercolor painter and quite accomplished in china painting. Being an artist, she focused on decorative arts, furniture, and accessories that once had been associated with White House history. A lover of history, she was most instrumental in bringing to light the importance of their preservation.

Mrs. Harrison began to gather the many presidential china plates that were still in the house. Although she died before she could accomplish the goal, her idea of building a cabinet in the State Dining Room to display the Presidential patterns had already created a buzz of interest. She was also instrumental in recognizing a need for less elegant dishes and purchased a less expensive version of her pattern for everyday use. The only way to distinguish between the two sets was the number of pieces in each collection and the price of each piece.

When referring to the White House, the term “china” means both the porcelain and earthenware used for table service and refers to the collections in both the China Room and the White House China Collection.

My personal collection of tableware is rooted in history as well – I’ve saved my parent’s and grandparent’s dishes, and have my own personal selection.  My collection of china is made up of about 6 patterns – and I have cabinets that house much of it.

There’s certainly an art to a beautiful table setting – it took Mrs. Harrison’s artistic perspective to recognize the value in categorizing and displaying these decorative arts in the White House for the sake of history. In favor of her cause, it didn’t hurt that her husband’s administrative platform was one focused on the superiority of products made in America. The President adopted an “America first” theme that supported high tariffs to protect American industries. And the rest is history.

Long live our family’s food heritage – and the porcelains on which we eat.   

A Garden Quest

By Katie Bell

It was an in-between time, and I was living in Flagstaff, Arizona at what we affectionately called The House for Wayward Women. During graduate school, I worked in sexual assault and relationship violence prevention on the college campus.  With my own rocky relationship history, it was a difficult but important job and it had all but drained me of my optimism in men.  The House for Wayward Women was everything I needed at that time.

The House Mom, as we affectionately called her, had appointed me in charge of the garden that spring.  I was a single 30-something with seeds to sow!  I was battling weeds and nurturing fruits. I pulled the persistent willows that popped up in the rows of tomatoes, zucchini and squash.  I blanketed the tomatoes in teepees and cheered for the pollinating bees. I trusted the makeshift greenhouse and watched in surprise as the seeds did exactly as they were supposed to do and sprouted.

While learning to trust the natural process of a garden, I was also celebrating my completion of graduate school with a Vision Quest – a spiritual retreat for self-exploration.  I prepared for this spiritual adventure with optimism.  I was to immerse myself in nature without companions or the distraction of food or cell service. Starting with an 8-hour solo hike, the purpose was to limit the daily distractions and to clarify my intention for growth.  My instructions were also to find a token, something to bring back with me from my day of hiking.

A timer on the irrigation system and a trust in the independence of growth, I set out toward the San Francisco Peaks trail system. As I stepped out the door to start my solo hike, I found a dead Steller’s Jay on the driveway by my car door.  A strong believer in the symbolism of things, this seemed like an omen.  I couldn’t help but think what finding the bird might mean and hoped it was not my token. I gave it a proper burial and began my trek toward the trails to discover what might lie ahead.

I had to admit, I was intimidated being alone in the San Francisco Peaks, with its system of trails and isolation.  But in the midst of the beauty, I took in the adventure.  The Steller Jays were my companions – alive and bright blue, they hopped along the limbs and observed me as I observed them.  I saw the jays on limbs all along the sunny side of the mountain that day.

But as I turned to the snowy face of the mountain, the trail was slippery and nature was quiet, still in a wintery sleep.  I started to feel lost, on a part of the trail system where I had never been.  I stopped to consult with my map, heart pounding from a mix of fear and high altitude.

As I pulled my map, I caught a silver glimmer in the snow.  It was a pin, a button lying face down. It must have been lost by someone before the winter and was just resurfacing out of the melting snow.  I picked up the button and turned it over.  It said “Awesome Cool Dudes”.

This was my token!  It was just what I needed to find to repair my cynicism toward men after a long and tumultuous relationship and two years of working in a very difficult field. I found my way through the forest trails and back to the sunny side of the mountain.

Back at the House, I returned to the garden with a glow and a newfound peace.  I pulled the blankets off the tomatoes and carefully took the glass off the makeshift greenhouse.  By August, I was reaping what I had sown, a daily harvest of fruits that were as sweet as any I’d ever had before.

The universe must have been watching over me that summer because it also sent me the Awesome Cool Dude that would later become my husband.  As we harvested the garden together, he created a veggie man with a tomato head, squash legs and zucchini arms.  My garden had grown a man, as sweet as any I’ve ever known before!

The Regulator Movement

Part I

By Linda H. Barnette

Before the Revolutionary War, governors were appointed by the King, and he then appointed local officials.  At that time, mid-1700s, many people in this area were upset by the way the government was functioning.  Apparently, some of those in power charged exorbitant fees for such things as deeds, marriage licenses, and other legal papers. Remember that there were no set fees for any of these things at the time, so officials could charge what they wanted to and make money for themselves. In addition, there was no particular accepted method of taxation other than a poll tax-a tax on every person regardless of wealth or poverty. That tax was especially hard on the people in the western areas of the state. And in 1767 Governor Tryon himself admitted that much of the money was not turned over to the proper authorities.

However, that did not stop him from building Tryon Palace in New Bern, his home here in the colonies. That particular situation was the last straw to the colonists, most of whom really were poor. At that point large numbers of people in Rowan County refused to pay their taxes, probably over half of the citizens. In response to all of these unfair practices, groups of resistors sprang up in Rowan County and in the area of the Yadkin that later became Davie County. These people were given the name “Regulators.”

Finally, in 1769 the people of Rowan, Anson, and Orange counties petitioned the assembly asking for many changes, not only in taxation, but also in the fees paid to local governments. In that same year the Regulators elected people favorable to their cause. Yet that governing body was dissolved after just a few days, causing the Regulators to use force to try to change things. They interrupted court proceedings, attacked officials, and did other things, causing them to be a strong force against tyranny.

There has been speculation that the religious leaders of the day supported the Regulators, but no proof really exists except for the following information. In his book, James Wall states that many people in the Yadkin area were Regulators, according to the Moravian Records. The Moravian travelling preacher Soelle wrote that “the Regulator party was strong on the Yadkin.” Because he travelled from place to place, he would have known that for sure.