The Literary Corner: Renegade Writer’s Guild

Published 1:44 pm Tuesday, April 9, 2024

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Unsung Heroes, Part II

By Julie Terry Cartner

I’ve always hated the expression: she was always there for me. My grammatical mind always thinks, where is there? But, although I hate the wording, I appreciate the sentiment. There are people in our lives who support us without question, and we are all blessed to have them. They are our personal unsung heroes.

People of my generation and older probably fall at the end of a long line of adults who had mothers who were the epitome of that statement. Most of our mothers didn’t work outside the home. They got us up for school, prepared our breakfasts, and were home in the afternoon when school ended. We’d have a snack as we discussed our day, in response to the age-old question, “What did you do today?”

“Nothing” was not an acceptable response to that query. We were expected to speak about our day, what we learned, our grades, and the general ups and downs of the school day, including the social aspect. We were expected to speak in complete sentences and with clear voices. And then, when the (as we might have felt at the time) daily inquisition was over, we’d go to our rooms to do our homework while our mothers put the finishing touches on dinner.

If we had ever asked our mothers about their day while we were at school, the answers would have been long and varied. Regular chores included sweeping, dusting, mopping, and vacuuming, all of which Moms did several times a week. Old houses weren’t airtight, and dust and soil gathered quickly. Then to add to list of regular chores, once or twice a week they would go to the grocery store after meal and budget planning for the week, then prepare meals daily for their families, complete with homemade desserts, cakes, pies, and other treats.

During the day our mothers washed clothes and hung them on the clothesline to dry, then later brought the dry clothes in sorted into two piles. One was folded and put into stacks for each family member, the other was the ironing pile. If it were the day allotted for ironing, out would come the ironing board, the water bottle, the spray starch, and the iron. Countless hours were spent behind that board as everything from blouses and skirts to tee shirts and even sheets were pressed into submission, until every wrinkle was revealed and eradicated. Other days the big chore might be cleaning bathrooms, or washing windows, or waxing the uncarpeted floors.

And then there were the dreaded days of spring cleaning and fall cleaning. On these days, we were all pressed into service, but nobody worked harder than the moms. These were the cleaning days on steroids. These were the days allocated to preparing the house for the warm months or the cold months. Where I grew up, spring cleaning included taking down the storm windows and putting them away, and replacing them with screens, then in the fall, we cleaned those storm windows with a nasty pink cleaner that you stroked on with a sponge, let it dry, then wiped it off with a cloth, taking both the dried residue and the soil accumulated in the past year. Then we took the screens down and put the storm windows up, thus preparing the house for the storms of winter.

Similarly, these days were when we changed out the curtains, replacing the heavy drapes designed to help block winter’s chill with light, airy curtains appropriate to let in any summer breezes. We’d take down all the curtains to wash, dry, and iron, then hang the seasonally appropriate ones. These were the times that we also washed and put away heavy winter blankets and quilts and winter clothes, replacing them with lightweight bedding and clothing. This was in a world before air conditioning and central heat, so the changes were necessary.

In the evenings, mothers would knit, sew, or crochet, and, though they might have enjoyed these crafts, they weren’t really hobbies because they made clothes for us to wear, and outer garments to keep us warm in the winter.

Although the memories of our mothers’ lives may not be exactly the same, they are similar. These women were the unsung heroes of our childhoods.


By Marie Craig

For the first time in a long time, I watched my DVD “The Music Man.” I had forgotten how much fun that movie is.  It was filmed 62 years ago in 1962! What a long time ago that was. The songs and script were written by Meredith Willson. He wrote other well-known songs: It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas, May the Good Lord Bless and Keep You and a funny song to encourage exercise: Chicken Fat. It’s on YouTube if you don’t believe me.

But the songs in The Music Man were wonderful.  The march song, Seventy-six Trombones, made everybody want to strut down the street in a parade while twirling a baton.  The beautiful song, ‘Til There was You, was a declaration of true love and rejoicing at finding the one love just for you.  Robert Preston played the salesman who was selling band instruments.  He was a persuasive character.  The movie is terribly naive and innocent and would not pass muster now for inclusiveness.  But since it’s something of a fantasy, it’s fun to just follow along in step as the salesman makes his pitches.  It all works out in the end, and the whole town is happy.  The beautiful Shirley Jones was Marian, the librarian.  She was so talented and sang so well.  She just turned 90, and a few years ago starred in a Hallmark movie, The Irresistible Blueberry Farm.  She didn’t sing, but she played her grandmother role well.

There were a lot of other musicals about that time.  South Pacific, Brigadoon, and The King and I are three that come to mind.  In all of these musicals, people would just suddenly burst into song without any warning.  It would seem very strange now to see a current movie with a character suddenly singing.  But we thought nothing of it back then.  Maybe we need to all follow this technique.  The next time you’re happy at home, or enjoying a walk, just suddenly start singing your favorite song that describes your feelings.  Just kidding, you’d probably get arrested.

But in all these musicals, everybody got good solutions to their problems and lived happily ever after.  The emotions 62 years ago are the same as now.  I see a delivery truck turn down our street and I hope it’s coming to my house.  There’s a song in The Music Man that gives this same anticipation.  Oh, the Wells Fargo Wagon’s coming down the street now; please let it be for me.  Some things never change.

Dealing With Loss

By Gaye Hoots

This past year I lost both my sister and my brother. They were prepared to face death with the support of family, friends, their church, Hospice, and God. I am the only one from my original family left and will face the same situation with the same support system. Those of my generation know that each day is a precious gift, and we are grateful.

The loss of parents, siblings, spouses, and for some children, grandchildren, and friends can be overwhelming. Some of us cope with the support systems we have. Services are available to help cope with grief and Hospice offers free individual, group, camp, and online services. Friends highly recommend this.

Many friends have lost spouses, and this is hard because having lived with someone for many years and missing waking up, eating three meals a day, and spending seventy-five percent of each day with them leaves an acute awareness of being alone. People either find friends, family, and activities to help keep them involved or isolate themselves because they no longer feel they are good company for others. The last meal I had with female classmates was composed of as many widows as those with spouses living.

It may be easier for women because we are traditionally the cooks and caretakers and more likely to have a large circle of friends. My brother’s wife cared for him and entertained the family for meals, holidays, and birthday celebrations. My sister’s husband was her main caretaker and cooked for her for two years. We no longer celebrate holidays there, but our close friend, Lorene Markland, included Faye’s and my family for Easter. This was a precious gift.

We experience a loss of independence as we age. Many are no longer able to drive or live independently. This is crushing for some, but others recognize that their physical needs are being met and content themselves with that. Two close friends are living in residential care, and I see them trying to adjust and recognizing they still have a life they want to maintain.

Our graduating class will have a reunion in September on the twenty-first at noon at Bill Junker’s. Bill has hosted our class for more years than I can remember, and Charles Crenshaw keeps us informed of special events, illnesses, and deaths. Each year we lose members, but we also celebrate the births and successes of classmates’ families.

Those of our generation in Davie were afforded a firm foundation on which to build our lives and we attempted to provide the same to our families. This year my great-granddaughter will be the fourth generation, counting from my graduation, to graduate from Davie. We were afforded great schools, teachers, coaches, church, and community volunteers and we attempt to keep this legacy going. God has blessed our nation, our county, and us.