The Literary Corner: Renegade Writer’s Guild

Published 2:06 pm Tuesday, November 14, 2023

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Zachary Smith Reynolds, Part II

By Linda H. Barnette

Unfortunately, Smith Reynolds died just a few months after his wedding to Libby.

On July 6, he was shot and died in the East sleeping porch at Reynolda. His friend Ab Walker and Libby got him into a car and took him to Baptist Hospital where he was officially pronounced dead.

On the same day, the coroner ruled his death a suicide.

However, at a later inquest the coroner changed the cause of death to “death was the result of a bullet fired by person or persons unknown.”

Both Walker and Libby were indicted and could have been charged with murder but for the fact that W.N. Reynolds, Smith’s uncle, told the district attorney that the family believed it was suicide, so there was never a trial. The Reynolds money and power kept a media show from happening and also the truth of the death.

After his death, the family established the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, which has provided many millions to local charities through the years and is still active.  The Winston-Salem airport was also named for Smith.

For many years my son and I have gone to Reynolda House many times and always on Mother’s Day. I had read “Libby,” a book about Smith’s second wife and his death at the house. Several times we asked the docents to show us where the event happened, but they were never willing to answer questions about it.

When I read about the “Smith and Libby” exhibition, I knew we must go, and we did. There are several pictures, documents, and a short film to watch, along with a reproduction of Libby’s purple gown that she wore on Broadway. After we viewed the exhibit, we toured the house again and were finally able to see where Reynolds was shot. To this day his death remains a mystery because nobody knows for sure if it was suicide or murder.

After his death, Libby gave birth to their son, Christopher, who died at age 17 attempting to climb Mt. Whitney. She took her own life in 1971.

A friend of the family, Charles Brackett, wrote in his diary in 1932 that “the Reynolds children seemed to me to be perfect examples of what too much money and too little discipline can produce.”

Many thanks to my grandfather, W. N. Smith, for getting me interested in this family.  When he was young, he worked there making baskets and always had a fondness for them. Another example of how things get passed on from one generation to others.

Harvest Time

By  E. Bishop

While visiting the 30th annual Cornshucking Frolic at the Horne Creek Living Historical Farm, a 19th century gospel hymn written by Knowles Shaw came to mind.  It’s an old time favorite full of symbolism to bring people closer to God.

“Sowing in the morning, sowing seeds of kindness,

Sowing in the noontide and the dewy eve;

Waiting for the harvest, and the time of reaping,

We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.”

The literal meaning of bringing in the sheaves, of course, is harvesting of the grain into bundles to be used for the coming winter.  Although the historical farm did not have grain to harvest, it did have many activities of interest along with the corn shucking. Horne Creek Farm is in Pinnacle, NC and depicts farm life in the northwest Piedmont area around 1900.  It is a working farm with livestock, poultry, the original farmhouse, a tobacco curing barn, a corn crib, fields under cultivation and a heritage apple orchard among other things.

On the day of our visit, we enjoyed listening to music and watching people flat foot, saw quilters showing off their skills, sorghum molasses making, a strong man using a horse to plow the garden, apple cider being made, and the children and adults thoroughly enjoying shucking corn and throwing it into the corn crib to be used as food for the farm animals.  Touring the tobacco barn which was fully functional with the smoke and tobacco being cured, the house museum with period furniture (imagine straw tick beds), well house and kitchen where bread was being baked, all staffed by knowledgeable volunteers, was very entertaining.  There is also the family graveyard down toward the creek in the woods to visit, down past the sheep and goat pastures.

According to the brochure for the event, Horne Creek Farm’s Southern Heritage Apple Orchard features more than 425 varieties of old southern apples, many of which are on the brink of extinction.  There are dedicated “apple hunters” that are trying to prevent this from happening.   You would not believe how many different apples they had at this event. Let’s hope they save every one.   

     We have enjoyed visiting this place through the years and have seen it materialize into a great historical site that everyone should visit at least once in their lifetime to get a better understanding of how people had to survive before all of the modern conveniences we enjoy today.  It is a great place to educate our children and to have a little fun while doing it.   Another special event to check out is coming up for the Christmas holidays.

     “Sowing in the sunshine, sowing in the shadows,

      Fearing neither clouds nor winter’s chilly breeze,

     By and by the harvest, and the labor ended,

     We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.”

                      HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

“Our Job is to Love”

Stephanie Williams Dean

About once a month, a contemporary Christian artist performs at the well-known Billy Graham Training Center in Asheville. Billy Graham’s daughter, Gigi, always introduces the musician before he takes the stage at the Evenings at the Cove. But first, Gigi tells a story about either her daddy, Billy Graham, or her Mama, Ruth Graham.

At last Sunday night’s performance, Gigi shared a story of a special trip she took with her father to Washington D.C. She goes on to tell us that the trip was right around the time when Bill Clinton was President and the Monica Lewinsky scandal had just broken. And then that infamous dress with the stain appeared on the scene – the dress was all the headline news.

Gigi worried how her daddy would react after finding out he would be seated right beside Clinton for the event. But Gigi said her daddy took it in stride like a champ and said, “I’ll sit beside him the same way I’ll sit beside anyone else.”

Back at The Cove, Gigi spoke some mighty profound words to the audience as part of her introduction.  Here’s what she had to say about what she learned from her father about loving people.

“Our job is to love. And it’s the Holy Spirit’s job to convict. And it’s God’s job to judge. And you know I think we need to practice that a little more because sometimes I look at these young people out here that might look a little strange to some of us older folks. But you know what? They’re crying out for love. Everyone wants love and everyone needs encouragement. So if we could just practice that and let the Holy Spirit convict – now I don’t’ know about you all, but have you ever tried to convict your children of anything? It doesn’t work. But you pray and you just let the Lord Jesus handle it, and you just trust God.”

Our job is to love – it’s worth repeating.