The Literary Corner: Renegade Writer’s Guild

Published 11:26 am Tuesday, February 27, 2024

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Timely Reminders

By Julie Terry Cartner

It was one of those aha moments. On our return trip from Colorado Springs, our plane blew a tire upon takeoff. A loud bang, some swerving, and a great deal of shaking told the tale. But then we lifted off, and everything seemed fine. As the flight to Denver is only about twenty minutes long, we didn’t have much time to wait before the answer to “What happened?” came through the deep, calm voice of the pilot. “This is your pilot speaking. Some of you might have noticed a slight disruption when our plane took off…”

Some of us, I thought. Might have, I thought. Slight disruption, I thought. Ha! I thought. The only people who didn’t hear and feel the bang and swerving were those not on the airplane! The pilot continued, “We blew out a tire when we took off.” He continued to explain this would not affect the flight, but when we landed, we might notice a few emergency vehicles – you know, fire, ambulance, police…  Not to worry, these are just precautionary; however, the landing might be a bit rough. He told us they didn’t expect any problems and to just sit back, relax and enjoy the rest of the flight.

Enjoy the rest of the flight… for such a short trip, planes don’t go very high, so the flight was quite turbulent, and yes, the landing was a bit rough. And, as indicated, we were immediately surrounded by emergency vehicles. But, when the plane came to a stop, everyone was safe, unharmed. We applauded.

For the most part, people were patient as we waited for Plans A, B, and C to be analyzed, despite the cramped conditions and the concerns about schedules, appointments, and connecting flights. Whether they would fix the tire with us on the plane, tow us to the terminal, or load us onto buses were the ideas up for consideration, but ultimately, somewhere beyond an hour later, we thanked the pilot and crew, disembarked, and rode buses back to the terminal.

All in all, our experience was little more than a blip on the screen of life, and yet, it was so much more. We are frequently reminded of the brevity of life, of the many areas over which we have no control. We seem to need to learn and re-learn the value of prioritizing what really matters and letting the rest go. God, family, friends and everything else after is my mantra, and that day it served me well.

I’m not perfect, far from it, in fact, and thus the aha moment was an excellent reminder. I can get distracted by trivial things or go into mini rages at a myriad of unimportant issues. Thus, occasionally, I need something or someone to get me back on track.

As I sat in my seat during the flight, I thought how glad I was that we had taken the time to fly to Colorado to visit my niece and her family, something we hadn’t done since her wedding. We’d never met their two children, our great-niece and great-nephew, and I was glad we had decided to do that. For, even though if we hadn’t gotten on that first plane, we wouldn’t be in the precarious position of landing a six wheeled plane on five wheels, there could have been a car accident or some other calamity. The point is, I’m glad we took time for family.

It reminded me of another time, years ago. With five young children in tow, I went to Atlanta to visit my sister and her family. We had a lovely time and came home happy we had made the effort. Six months later, I returned to Atlanta for my sister’s funeral. At the time of the visit, I’d had no idea it would be our last. Thank goodness, despite the challenges, I went.

And so, the aha moment: Our lives have no guarantees. Love your family deeply, unselfishly, unconditionally. Love your friends unreservedly. Make time for what’s important and let the rest of your responsibilities fit into appropriate slots. And, of course, put your life in God’s hands. He’ll never steer you wrong.

Trying to Prove a Legend

By Marie Craig 

I made a new friend in a store last Saturday.  She told me that she enjoys reading these articles and particularly the one about the circus midgets.  I told her that I have written 197 of these and sometimes have trouble finding a new subject.  She asked me about the legend of the man riding his horse through the old courthouse, so I decided to pursue the request.

When I first moved to this area 19 plus years ago, Doris Frye told me of this Davie story. I have all the Davie history books, so I started looking for validation. On page 119 of James Wall’s History of Davie County, he quoted part of an article on page one of the 2 October 1930 Mocksville Enterprise. This article is quoting a previous resident, O. Howard of Jacksonville, Fla.  Mr. Howard had returned to Davie for a visit. He came by the newspaper office and told this story of “Old Jim Lanier” who rode his gray mare southward through the main hallway of the old courthouse and jumped her over the five rock steps. He walked upstairs to the courtroom where the judge fined him $10, but he paid $20 and said that he was going to do it again. So he walked back downstairs and repeated the exciting ride.

I have studied the many photos of this old courthouse and tried to picture size, location, and placement. Images of America, Davie County, has a collection of photos of the building.  Mr. Wall mentions details on page 118 about the size and location. He quoted the newspaper Western Carolinian on 25 April 1839 as describing the two-story building, 45 by 40 feet, with a vestibule 10 by 30 feet at the south end. Most of the photos we have were taken looking north. It was in the center of Henderson Street (now Main Street) and Factory Street (Depot Street). Enlarging the photos seems to show three steps on the north, and five on the south. The next time you are near Davie County Public Library, slow down and glance at the rock slab at the front. This is one of the steps. This morning, I measured that step. It is 71.75 inches long, 19.75 inches wide, and the thickness tapers from 9 inches at the back to 6 inches at the front. I tried to imagine leaping through the air on a horse over five of these.

While I was at the library, I went into the wonderful History Room. I found four folders of information about the Lanier family. One page I copied was an article written by C.G. Tomlinson in the 5 December 1963 Davie Enterprise-Record. Tomlinson wrote many articles of local history which have really helped me as I have written 11 Davie history books. This article is much more detailed and includes family history about Jim Lanier and his family. Jim was born in Virginia, with his young mother dying the next day. His father, Dr. Camillus Voltaire Lanier, remarried and moved to Davie. His plantation was the “Pass Place presently the site of the Mocksville airport.”  Yes, in 1963, there was an airport. Description of location: travel west on 64; at the intersection of Madison Road, look south to a big flat field. There it is. If we want to always have current data, we would put LL: 35.902823, -80.596181.

When I saw his dad’s name as Doctor, I wondered if I had included him in my book Davie Doctors born before 1900. There he is on page 68 and 69. His son is listed in the 1850 census of Halifax County Virginia as 10 years old along with his father, his stepmother, and four siblings.  He is not living at home with his family in the 1860 census for Davie County.  Tomlinson says that he attempted to join the Confederate Army, but his health did not allow it.  So he formed the Laniers Guards and fought as their captain.  His poor health caused him to abandon this.  He continued to fight for Davie’s future.  There was a Judge Clowde who was his enemy.  Jim was called to jury duty but refused to go.  The judge ordered him to appear by 2:00.  According to this version, Jim rode his gray mare into the courthouse, up the stairs to the second floor and calmly to the judge’s bench.  The judge fined him $50 for riding his horse into the building.  Jim threw down $100 and said “I am riding right back through.”  And so he rode the horse down the steps, back outside, through the courthouse and jumped out the south entrance again.

     In researching Jim, I find his dates of 11 June 1840 – 7 December 1894, dying at 54.  In the 1860 census, he is a trader living in the Fulton area with his brother.  In 1880 he is listed as J.B. Lanier, a distiller, in Salisbury.  He is buried in Chestnut Hill Cemetery in Salisbury, N.C.  The name on the tombstone is James B. Lanier.  A family tree on says that his middle name is Bell.  [His mother’s name was Isabella.]

     This is lots of data and detail but did he do it?  If so, which story and amount of fine money was involved?  We’ll probably never know for sure, but it’s fun trying to learn the truth.

Girl Power

By Gaye Hoots

My grandpa taught me to walk before I was ten months old by tying small bundles of broom straw for me to hold onto. By the time I had mastered the art, and my mom was pregnant with my sister Faye, I had determined that the men had more fun than the women and I followed Grandpa everywhere he would allow me to go.

The only time he referred to me as a girl was when Dad whipped me, and I don’t ever remember one I had not earned. Grandpa would tell Dad that boys were built for that but that, “Girls are just glued together.”

One memory I have is of a fox hunt Dad took me on. I didn’t understand everything they discussed but I loved that they enjoyed the stories and laughed together. Once one of the men carried me for a while, I took off my knit cap and shook out my hair when he sat me down. He exclaimed, “I thought you were a boy!”

My foxhunting career ended when I repeated one of the funny stories to Mom. She did not appreciate the men’s sense of humor and never allowed me to go again.

I was made more aware of the difference between the sexes when I started first grade. My teacher, Miss Carolyn Hartman, stopped me when I followed the boys into their bathroom. She approached me when I took my blouse off and hung it on the lilac bush with the shirts of the boys I was playing with. She did make them put their shirts back on too, as I refused to put mine on until they did. When she asked whose mom worked, meaning public work, I gave her a list of all the work my mom did as I was sure no one worked harder than my mom.

When my daughter, Kendra, was in elementary school and wanted to try out for football, her teacher told her, “No.” I was going to confront this, but Kendra asked me not to as she felt it would make the rest of her school year more difficult. Now girls are allowed to play in elementary school.

My career choice of nursing did not emphasize the difference between the sexes, but most nurses were female, and most doctors were male at that time. There were only two incidences in my career when a doctor disrespected me. One apologized in public and the other appeared regretful. I once worked with a doctor from India who spoke to me and the head nurse and no other females. When I became aware of this and talked with him, he stopped snapping his fingers at the nurses, and at one point offered to bring me a cup of coffee, which was strong enough to melt a spoon, but I appreciated the gesture.

My graduating class consists of women who have their businesses, teach, are nurses, have post-graduate degrees, have helped their husbands in their careers, raised strong, independent children, and served their communities, and churches in many ways. They are women to be celebrated.

On Wednesday, March 13th the girls from our class of 1963 are meeting for lunch at The Olive Tree in Mocksville to celebrate each other. Please save the date and attend if possible. I am looking forward to seeing each one of you. Reply to Shirley Boger at her email or me if you can’t reach her.