The Literary Corner: Renegade Writer’s Guild

Published 2:36 pm Tuesday, September 19, 2023

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Eugene Fuller Hartley

By Linda H. Barnette

When my original oncologist dismissed me in 2017, she told me to continue my work in genealogy because “You might find out that you are related to Queen Eizabeth.” That, of course, was not my goal, but over the years in my research, I have discovered several interesting characters in my family lines.

One such individual is Eugene Fuller Hartley, one of my Grandfather Hartley’s uncles, who was born in the Horseshoe Neck section of Davidson County in 1876, one of the 7 children of H. H. Hartley and Ellen Davis Hartley, his second wife. While I don’t know anything about his early education, I did find him and some of his brothers listed as boarding students at Yadkin College, a very early institution of higher learning in the small village of Yadkin College right across the river off Hwy 64, which is a story for another day.

From Yadkin College he went on to Chapel Hill where he obviously got a degree in economics and mathematics.  After university, he married Celeste Boykin of Hickory, NC. They lived in New York City in the early 1900’s and had one son Boykin, who became the vice-president of American Railway. Boykin married and had at least one child.

In any case, according to his obituary in the Lexington Dispatch of December 6, 1961, Fuller Hartley retired as the executive secretary of IBM and was their chief statistician.  He was also the head of the US Census Bureau and the author of several books, including one called the “Fourteenth Census of the United States.”

However, what drew me to his life was his abiding interest in his family, his hometown, and the people of Davidson County. Even after being gone for 50 years, he still maintained membership in the Davidson County Historical Association. His obituary says that he had mailed a check for his dues shortly before his death.

He is buried in Pungoteague, Accomack, Virginia at St. George’s Episcopal Church there along with his wife. Mr. Watson, the president of IBM, attended his funeral.

This story makes me think that my Daddy might have inherited his aptitude for numbers from his great-uncle!! Thank goodness that he could help with my math homework!!


By Stephanie Williams Dean

In elementary school, I was stabbed by a student with a pencil. The ¼-inch round, purple lead mark that remains on my left wrist today testifies to the wound.

I was warned. Cecilia went to the front of the class to sharpen her pencil. She drew back her hand and lowered the sharpened lead down in the direction of my face.  I lifted my arms to protect my face – a well-established defense posture.

She had asked to see the answers on my paper. When I didn’t allow her to do so, Cecilia told me she was going to stab me with her pencil.  I watched as she walked to the front of the classroom to sharpen her pencil.  She returned with a long, very sharp, pointed lead tip – and smug smile.

At first, I didn’t believe she stabbed me.

But when I said it didn’t hurt, she responded, “Oh yeah, then why is my pencil broken?” Then, I saw a piece of broken lead sticking out of my wrist and felt the pain. I began to cry. Lucky for me, she missed a few important tendons, nerves, and vessels. Afterward, she was reprimanded by the teacher – and that was it.

The incident wasn’t referred to as an “assault.” There was no student arrest or criminal charge filed.  Cecilia didn’t get suspended, expelled, or taken to juvenile court. I didn’t receive any victim impact or trauma counseling. My parents didn’t press charges, sue anyone, or demand to come to the school to speak with the principal. In fact, I told my parents – they never even received a call from the school.

Thank goodness we know better, today.

Young Lives at Stake

By:  E. Bishop

Back in ancient times when I was in high school, I was allowed to be a school bus driver for Cooleemee Elementary.  Thinking back on that, it sounds crazy.  What a big responsibility that was for my age!  I would never even think about doing that now, especially with all the crazy things that are being reported lately.  There are so many safety issues and dangerous behaviors, not only from students themselves, but the general population of drivers.  Maybe some reminders are in order for the beginning of this new school year.

When I drove that bus in my senior year, I can plainly remember the place a driver ignored the RED stop sign that was extended at a bus stop.   It was reported but nothing was done about it.  I just wonder how many times this type of thing happens currently.  According to NC Department of Public Instruction, each day 3,000 vehicles illegally pass a stopped school bus in North Carolina putting our children’s lives in danger.  Last year, nearly 1,300 drivers in the state went to court for passing a stopped bus.  So, quite a few drivers got away with it!  There is a mandatory minimum $500.00 fine with five points on driver’s license for not stopping (a misdemeanor).  And, if driver passes the extended stop sign and hits someone, they face a minimum of $1,000.00 with a Class 1 Felony.   Is this enough of a deterrent?

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, riding a bus to school is 13 times safer than riding in a passenger vehicle and 10 times safer than walking to school.  However, children need to be taught and often reminded the rules of keeping themselves safe.  And adults need to remember that children are unpredictable.  When they are walking to and from their bus, they are usually very comfortable with their surroundings and may take risks, ignore hazards or fail to look both ways.  Drivers should stop their cars far enough from the bus to allow children the necessary space to safely enter and exit the bus.  The students should be taught the proper way to get on/off the bus – line up 6 feet away from the curb as bus approaches, wait for driver to signal you to board, buckle up if seatbelts are available, wait for bus to completely stop, and if the student must cross the road, student should walk at least ten feet in front of the bus.  Be aware that ten feet all the way around the school bus is called the Danger Zone.  Students should always check that traffic has stopped and their route is clear before crossing.

School bus drivers are in short supply all across the state; Davie County had six openings at the beginning of the school year.  Hope they have found more drivers so they get all the students to school on time.  We all have to be patient as they hire and train new drivers for all the challenges they will face.

A disturbing fact I have read and hope it is not true is that K-12 students can be let off the bus without a parent or guardian being present.  For older students, this may not be a problem but, for the elementary aged, it could be.   In the case of waiting on the bus to arrive for pick up/drop off, parents should probably try the app “Here Comes the Bus” to track their children’s bus (check to see if your bus has that option).  Or is it possible to get bar codes to scan (or Air Tags) that will let parents know where their children are at all times?   Sounds extreme, but is it?

As adults, the safety of unpredictable children, whether getting on/off the school bus or anywhere else, is still in our hands.  A little patience and common sense are all that is needed.  Do not pass that stopped school bus with a red arm extended; know the rules.