The Literary Corner: Renegade Writer’s Guild

Published 1:50 pm Tuesday, August 15, 2023

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Road Trips Part 2

By Denise Bell

     Road trips of my youth created a wanderlust in me that resonated throughout my entire life. I am about to head back to Michigan to visit my family over Labor Day. I am looking forward to the time in the car, a time when I cannot be distracted by the things in my everyday life. Not much one can do but drive.  I love listening to the radio or an audiobook, driving in silence, fully taking in the ever-changing surroundings as I make my way home.

When I was growing up, my family went on a fun, impromptu road trip.  We ate hot dogs in Chicago as we walked along Lake Michigan. Then off we went to see the Archway Arch in St. Louis, my first time to cross the Mississippi. Indianapolis was our last stop, and we could not leave the city without a trip to the Speedway and a lap or two around the track!

I have made the trip from Flagstaff, Arizona to Michigan a few times. Each trip was for a momentous occasion such as a marriage, a birth and a move. The first time was with my youngest daughter who was getting married in North Carolina and I flew west to start making her wedding dress. I did most of the machine sewing in Flagstaff and then we hit the road.  We camped in one-man tents in a national forest in Wyoming. I hand stitched her dress while my daughter drove through the Rocky Mountains. Once we got to Michigan, we had her bridal shower and then headed to North Carolina for her wedding.

The next time I made the reverse trip, Michigan to Flagstaff with my four grandchildren and my oldest daughter. My youngest daughter was expecting her first child, and we made the trip to be there to welcome my new grandchild. While we were there, we took extra road trips. A day trip to the Grand Canyon when my granddaughter was just a week old. Then we left the new family for a few days to explore the Canyons of Utah.

The third time I made the trip, my daughter was moving her family to Michigan. I flew out to Flagstaff to help with the move and the drive back. While they were packing up the last of their stuff, I wandered to Four Corners where I had a hand in Colorado, a hand in Utah, a foot in Arizona and a foot in New Mexico. I explored another canyon in the Grand Circle of Canyons and then went to the Petrified Forest on my way back to Flagstaff.

I love road trips and have made many through the years. I have driven from Seattle to Portland, to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, from Detroit to Hot Springs, Arkansas, fourteen hours straight. Not to mention the dozen or so times I have driven back and forth to North Carolina from Michigan before I moved here.

I get such joy when I get behind the wheel of my car and am heading off on the road. Whether a day trip or a longer distance trip, I never tire of the winding roads that take me from one place to another. Over my adult years, I have accumulated so many wonderful memories of road trips I have been lucky to have taken. I am looking forward to future road trips to come and the experiences I will have of stopping and seeing new places along the way.

New Kid: For Our Younger Readers

By Julie Terry Cartner

Scuffing her brand new, back to school, shoes in the dust, Bria scowled. Mom would not be happy if she messed up her new shoes. Part of her didn’t care. Her life was ruined anyway.

Was it just two weeks ago that she and her best friend, Regan, had made plans for the first day of school. Finally in fifth grade and in double digits, Bria and Regan planned to walk to school together instead of having their mothers drive them the short distance. Ten years old had been the promise. They could be trusted to walk. Excited to no longer be protected babies, as they’d felt all last year, they were ready to be big girls, almost pre-teens.

Then Bria’s world had imploded. Dad had been transferred, effective immediately, and the family was moving. Not only was Bria losing her home, but she was also moving away from her best friend, and, to make bad even worse, she had to start a new school.

No longer excited about back-to-school shopping or the new clothes in her closet. Bria now dreaded going to school. The new kid. She didn’t want to be the new kid. New kids stood out. New kids were teased, bullied, or ignored. Everyone would have friends already, and nobody would want her. Friend groups had already been formed.

In the rush of moving, Mom had only gotten Bria registered the day before, and today was the first day of school. She’d had a tour of the school, but the new hallways were confusing, adding to her stress and sadness. As she climbed out of the car, and yes, she was still a baby car rider, Bria gave her mom a wobbly smile and trudged towards the school.

As Bria walked towards the building, she watched the other children walk in pairs, in trios, and in groups, all chatting excitedly about their summers and their shared classes.

And here I am, Bria thought glumly, the new kid. Alone. She was about to go find her classroom figuring she’d stand out less sitting in her classroom than standing in the entranceway when a voice beside her spoke. “Hi, I’m Maddie. Are you, by any chance, Bria?”

Startled, Bria said, “Yes,” then added, “How did you know?”

“Magic,” Maddie answered. “I read minds.” Then, giggling at Bria’s startled expression, she said, “Not really, of course; I’m just teasing. Mrs. Grimes, the principal, showed me your picture.       This school has a buddy program. Students who wish to be in the program are assigned to a new student, someone in the same classes with at least some similar interests. Remember the forms you filled out? Seeing Bria’s nod of understanding, she continued, “We’re both in Mrs. Johnson’s fifth grade class, we’re both in band, and we both play soccer.”

Seeing Bria’s worried face, Maddie added, “I was new here two years ago. I know how hard it is to leave old friends and make new ones. I just want to make it easier for you like someone did for me.” Then she added, “Bria, I’d like to be your first new friend.” Then, smiling, she added, “You have to say yes, or I’ll get kicked out of the buddy program.”

Taking her first big breath in what seemed like days, Bria laughed. “Well, we wouldn’t want that! Think of your reputation; you’d be a buddy dropout,” she teased. Then, smiling, Bria said “Yes, thank you. I could use a friend.” As they walked to their classroom, Bria thought, maybe this won’t be so bad after all.

*Many schools have some kind of Buddy Program, but whether they do or not, you can help. If you see classmates struggling to make friends, or being picked on, or if you see new students looking lost and lonely, talk to them. Invite them to sit with you and your friends at lunch. Get to know them. Ask questions and listen thoughtfully to their answers. Offer directions to classes and answer questions. You never know what’s going on in their lives, so be generous with your time. Be kind. You never know what impact you can have on another’s life.

Christmas 1942

By Marie Craig

This is a group photograph that I want my great grandchildren to understand. The youngest person is my cousin who was born 25 May 1941. That’s the best way to date a picture. She appears to be about one to one and a half years old. There are no leaves on most of the trees in the background, so I know this is not summer. I am going to assign the date of Christmas 1942 in Statesville, North Carolina, to the image which shows a family reunion of my dad, his two brothers, families, and his parents. I’m the little girl at the right struggling to get loose from my cousin.

We lived 100 miles away in Black Mountain. It was during World War Two. The man in uniform was a guard at a munitions plant in Charlotte but lived with his family in Statesville. The man at the right and his family lived in Baltimore, Maryland, and he worked at an airplane assembly factory. My father worked at a furniture factory in Black Mountain that made tables, desks, and chairs for the war effort. 

Everyone looks happy and optimistic, but it had to be worrisome to be in the middle of a world war. The bombing of Pearl Harbor that pushed the United States into the war was December 7, 1941, just a year before the reunion. Perhaps this urgency was one reason the family gathered, traveling from Baltimore and Black Mountain. It was a time of scarcity so that supplies like tires, food, and metal could be used overseas. I still have some ration books that my parents used when they needed to buy groceries or supplies. Blackout curtains were drawn at night so that the possible enemies could not know where to bomb civilians. I hope you, my descendants, never have to live with this fear. 

As you can see, everyone is dressed up. That’s what people did back then. Each man probably had only one suit, but he wore it often. The dress code has really changed since then. We all look well nourished, so we had adapted to the limited amount of food available. My mother and all the others had gardens, and they canned food. My grandfather had goats at one time. He never owned a car but rode a bicycle around Statesville. This was back when only children rode bicycles. Nowadays, it seems to me that adults ride bicycles more than children do. 

How I wish I knew who had a camera and who took the picture; probably a neighbor. This is the only photograph I have of the entire family. This was just a small snapshot that I have enhanced, enlarged, and savored. I hope you’ll have many family reunions, and that you will take many, many family pictures.

Old Advance

By Gaye Hoots

My earlier memories of Advance have recently been stimulated by a Facebook site, LA Originals, started by Phillip Carter. One of the main contributors is Larry Vogler. He has a treasure trove of Advance history, as does Jim Jones. I hope they are preserving it for others.

Until I was six, most memories were of Grandpa Hoots’s farm on the river at the end of Burton Road. This farm and the adjoining one that we referred to as Matt Peebles, later purchased by my father, now belong to Dr. Branch and is called Branch Ranch. The house that I lived in for six years has burned down.

The families I remember from those years were Buck Burton’s, Ed Myers, Lester Riley, the Wallers, Louie Zimmerman; and the Clines, all were neighbors or worked with Daddy. We attended Elbaville Church then, and families there were also friends.

When we moved from Grandpa’s to Marchmont, my horizons expanded. I started school at Shady Grove and met Janine Vogler and Charles Markland, who remain friends today. My Grandmother attended the Baptist Church, and I started attending with her.

The Advance, I remember, had several stores, Anderson Potts’s, which I remember well because I later married his son, B R Bailey’s, whose sons knew me well enough to tease me, and Frank Vogler’s, across from the Potts’ store. Charlie Cornatzer and Red Fishel also ran grocery stores. Most families traded locally then.

We moved to the farm in Advance when I was in seventh grade.  Anderson Potts owned it, and Bob and Betty Potts lived there. It was sold when Anderson Potts died, and Daddy bought it, so it was owned by both grandfathers of my children and now is part of my sister’s estate.

Faye, Phil, and I walked to school then and passed Seabon Cornatzer’s service station, crossed the road by the Methodist Church, the fire station, Milton Carter’s garage, and by Potts store and the old lumber mill lot where Roy Potts and Gray ran a small trucking company. We stopped at the store if we had the change to spend. Phil later got in trouble when he heard Frank Markland’s kids tell Charles Markland to put their drinks and snacks on their tab. Phil told Charles to put his on the tab, not knowing what that meant. When Charles asked Daddy to pay, it was explained to Phil. Daddy let us get something anytime he was with us.

Mother often sent us to the store to pick up items, but she figured the cost to the penny and did not include snack money. Before we moved to Advance, Daddy was planning to go to the store, and Faye begged to go along: but was told she could not. Ever the helpful big sister, I suggested she hide in the back floorboard, and she did. When she told Daddy it was my idea, she escaped punishment and got her snack. I once had a pet pig that followed me to the store and waited on the porch for me. Milton Carter teased me about this and the cow that I milked twice daily.

The Patton kids lived near the store, as did Jackie Carter and the Markland kids. In the winter, we would ride snow sleds on the hill of our farm. We had friends to spend time with, but with the farm crops and my cow, we did not have much time to play.

Faye and I played basketball at Shady Grove, where Vestal Potts was the coach, and I played in high school until I married at the end of my junior year. The Potts store, managed by Charles Markland, closed around that time. The Vogler store had been closed, as had the pool room. Milton Carter’s garage was the only business open at that end of town.

Most people who lived in the immediate area were cousins, the Marklands, Carters, Pooles, and later my kids from the Potts family. Mrs. Shermer, Mrs. Ed Vogler, Mrs. Ruby Markland, Mrs. Fallie Vogler, Mrs. BR Bailey, Mrs. Crawford, Vestal Potts, Jim Jones, and Mrs. Lucille Cornatzer all lived in Advance and taught at Shady Grove.

Everyone knew everyone then, and most of these families are still here.