The Literary Corner: Renegade Writer’s Guild

Published 12:51 pm Tuesday, May 7, 2024

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Noah’s Ark

By Marie Craig

One of the most picturesque stories in the Bible starts in Genesis 6. Because of the wickedness of the people, Noah was commanded by God to build a huge ark which could house male and female of the entire animal kingdoms. It was three stories high, and the dimensions were based on measurement terminology of the time, the cubit. One cubit was the length of a man’s arm from his elbow to the ends of his fingers. Not very specific but would have been about one and a half feet, or 18 inches. However, there was also a royal cubit which was about 20.62 inches. Those 2.62 inches difference would have been a builder’s nightmare. The length of the ark was designated to be 300 cubits or 450 feet but 510 feet if they used the royal cubit. Another way to visualize this: the length of the boat was the same length as 1.5 football fields. The width was 50 cubits, and the height was 30 cubits. The building material was to be gopher wood, not a type of tree, but wood that was sealed with pitch to make it watertight.

After it was completed, provisions were loaded, and then Noah’s family and the representative animals. It rained for 40 days and 40 nights while the ark floated in the flood. It took 150 days for the water to recede and then the passengers could disembark. Our pragmatic minds wander as to all these logistics and the environment for about five months.

There is a reenactment of this structure in north Kentucky, at Williamstown called Ark Encounter. Probably the most amazing thing is the vast size of the ark.

I remember a toy my sons had that was a boat and several animals for them to load onto the vessel. I also remember a special event we enjoyed on Aug. 15, 1986.  (Thank you, scrapbook. Wow, it cost only $4 for a ticket!)  We were in Salt Lake City, Utah, and attended a play, The Ark, about this story. When we arrived, we were seated in bleachers which faced the center of the room. Across this theater was another set of bleachers. It was fairly dark in there, so we couldn’t see all the details of the room. I did notice this huge door where we first entered. When the play began, I realized this was theater in the round with the audience on two sides of the center stage. Noah came out in Biblical costume, went over to this huge door which he slammed shut. Little by little, I realized that we were the animals in the story and our “cages” were our seats in the bleachers. They would feed us by throwing wrapped candy our way. Then they would complain about how messy we were.

This play was a musical with 12 songs describing the parts of the story. Noah’s family were the musicians. It was a delightful way to enjoy and savor this story of new beginnings.


By Gaye Hoots

I carry memories of every home I have ever had, the layout of the house and rooms, favorite pieces of furniture, decorative objects, and most of all the people I loved. Some objects in my present home have been with me for as long as I can remember.

My first home was with my Hoots grandparents above the Yadkin River. The farm was large enough that no other homes were visible, my private world, or so I thought. The farm now belongs to Dr. Branch and the house burned, but I can describe every room and the contents of each. I learned the most important life lessons during my six years there.

We never lived with Mom’s family, but every holiday was celebrated there, and the entire family attended. I am just as familiar with this home where my Grandmother Fulk lived from when she was 16 until she was 99. I absorbed the importance of family and spiritual beliefs here. This home has been updated and preserved. I often drive by there to look and remember.

When I was 6, we moved to Marchmont, where I was fascinated with the architecture of the plantation-style home and gardens, although they had been neglected. This property has a rich history, which I have explored in previous articles. I can describe most of the details of the house and property, although the house no longer exists.

The next move was to Advance to a farm previously owned by the Potts family, of whom I later became a member. I was about thirteen, and my world now included basketball, which matched my love of reading. This was the first time I had my own room, and I relished the privacy. We had learned to work on the March farm, and the duties now expanded to include tobacco and the family cow, which I milked twice a day until the day I married. This house is still in our family, though it too, has been updated. This completed my education in farming and probably has been more valuable than my post-graduate education.

After marriage, we lived with Roy’s mother in a house that was built on land that the Potts family originally received as a land grant. The original walls were log but each generation had added to and updated the home. No one in this family was farming at this time, and I completed my last year of high school here. The family dynamics were very different here, but my father and Roy’s mother had similar personalities.

We bought a mobile home, which was first located on property now belonging to Shady Grove School, and later to the corner of Taylor Road where we shared the lot with Jack and Jane Carter. I began to make this into my version of home. Cami was born here and Jane’s first child David. These were the second births for both of us, having lost out first. We became a support system for each other and our children, now adults and cousins on their fathers’ side remain, as close as we do, also.

We began building the house on the corner of Bailey Road before Kendra was born and moved in at her birth. We did not have a blueprint but worked from a house plan I found in a book and fine-tuned to my taste. I remember everything we selected for this home and realized my style was different from Roy’s, which was more formal. I was a stay-at-home mom during this time and wanted to go back to school but could not work out how to do that, care for the girls, and finance education. After our divorce, Roy sold the house to an interior decorator from New York. He had hated the bright pink, green, and black, large floral wallpaper I put in my bathroom and said he could not wait to see what she replaced it with. She kept the wallpaper. The home is now owned by Scott Chandler who was a neighbor then.

To be continued …

May Day Lessons and Lore

By Julie Terry Cartner

Maureen and her friends raced home from school, skipping, laughing, and talking about all those things that are so important to eight-year-old girls. They giggled as they talked, and then they reached the street. Everyone knew about the street, the one old Mrs. Connolly lived on. In her dark baggy clothes, ebony cane, and long gray hair, in the girls’ minds, she was the epitome of a witch, and they thrilled themselves creating stories about her terrifying acts. When they got to her street, they held their breaths and ran as fast as they could until they were on the other side of the two-story house. They’d never talked to the old woman; they just made-up tales and scared each other silly.

When the girls arrived at Maureen’s house, still laughing about Old Mrs. Connolly, Maureen’s mother, Eileen, heard them and realized she had to do something to teach the girls a lesson. Mrs. Connolly was a lonely widow, not an evil witch as the girls believed, and the girls needed to learn how hurtful their words could be.

While the girls were at school the next day, Eileen and Mrs. Connolly devised a plan, and by the time the girls headed home, they were ready. As the girls started to run by the house as usual, Mrs. Connolly stepped out through her gate and firmly said, “Stop.” Shocked, the girls did as they were told. Mrs. Connolly didn’t look like herself. She was dressed in a white flowing gown, and flowers were braided into her hair. Only the ebony cane remained, but even it was polished, gleaming in the sunlight. The yard, usually wild, had been tamed, a pole full of flowing ribbons was in the center of the yard, and flowers were blooming everywhere. “Come in, girls,” Mrs. Connolly urged.

Hesitating, the girls looked at each other. Stepping into a strange lady’s yard seemed foolish. But then a voice they recognized spoke from the porch, where they then saw Eileen, also dressed in white, sitting comfortably on a porch swing. “That’s right, girls, come on in. I’d like you to officially meet my friend, Brigette Connolly.” As the girls walked through the gate, she continued. “Brigette has graciously agreed to teach you about the Irish traditions of today, May 1, May Day.”

And so, she did. She told them how May Day had been celebrated in Ireland since pagan times as the feast of Beltane. The townspeople would light bonfires and dance around it to celebrate the coming of summer, fertility and rebirth, and to grant good luck to all. Later, the fires were often replaced by dancing around a maypole. She wove her tales and taught the girls of Irish lore.

When Maureen asked about the maypole, Mrs. Connolly pointed to the pole and told the girls to each take hold of one of the ribbons. Once they were in place, she taught them the dance, how to spin and twirl, and how to weave the ribbons. Soon the two women and the girls were laughing and dancing. Smiles abounded.

Later, when they sat down to afternoon tea, the girls asked Mrs. Connolly about her life. She told them of her husband, their lives, and their immigration to America.

And then she told them of the other May Day ritual, how they should pick flowers, make them into bouquets, and leave them on people’s porches; how they should sneak up, leave the flowers, ring the doorbell, and run away to hide. She explained this was a way of wishing good fortune to everyone.

Most importantly, Mrs. Connolly taught the girls about kindness, about treating everyone with respect, about not judging people by appearances; she taught them how to be better people, and Eileen just sat back and watched the girls soak in the lessons.

When the afternoon drew to a close, each girl carried a bouquet of flowers, and they did as tradition decreed. They chose houses where they thought the families might need a blessing, and one by one, they placed their flowers, rang the bell, and ran, then watched as lonely widows, stressed mothers, and careworn wives received a moment of pleasure in their May Day gift.