The Literary Corner: Renegade Writer’s Guild

Published 12:48 pm Tuesday, May 28, 2024

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Travels to South Dakota

By Linda H. Barnette

John and I loved to travel, and in the years before his health declined, we visited many places. We always traveled by car and enjoyed seeing many things that we would not have seen had we flown.

One of our favorites was a trip to South Dakota in the summer of 1995. We were amazed to see bison up close in Custer State Park. The donkeys there were also interesting, and the prairie dogs were highly entertaining. When we were there, the traffic was not bumper to bumper as it probably is today, so we could take our time. We did not have a cell phone to take good pictures, but our camera was pretty good.  Thankfully, I took pictures of all the places we went.

Another favorite spot was Mt. Rushmore, where we looked through the big telescope to see the presidents up close.  It was definitely awe-inspiring, and since that time I have watched “North by Northwest” numerous times to see Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint escaping the bad guys on the mountain itself. The sculpture itself is 60 feet tall and carved in granite. It was sculpted by Gutzon Borglum and his son Lincoln during the years 1922-1941. The faces on the mountain are those of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln.

Deadwood was another interesting place not too far from Rapid City. It was very remote, so we could understand why the outlaws in the old West hid out there. We did find a nice restaurant and a casino, but if you used imagination, you would see cowboys with guns roaming the streets.

One of the most fun things we did was to pan for gold. Gold was discovered in the Black Hills and also in Deadwood during General Custer’s expedition there in 1874, and a gold rush followed although it did not last as long as the one in California.  Panning was great fun even though we did not find any gold. John bought me a bracelet made out of Black Hills gold, which remains a treasure personally, though not worth anything.


By:  E. Bishop

The English poet Lord Byron once said:  “Always laugh when you can.  It is cheap medicine”.  The old adage “laughter is the best medicine” must be true.  Duke Health and the Mayo Clinic believe it is.  Not only is it good in the short term, but will carry over into long term health benefits as well.  There are many reasons you should laugh every day.

Laughter is good for your immune system, decreases stress, releases endorphins (the feel-good chemicals), protects the heart, reduces blood pressure, diffuses anger and conflict faster, may even help you burn calories and live longer.  Who doesn’t want to add joy to their life with less anxiety and an improved mood?  Laughter brings people together and will help strengthen relationships.  Laugh so hard that you cry – it’s ok!  Listen to a child’s giggle.  Know of someone with an infectious laugh – they will make you laugh just listening to them laugh.  Have you ever inhaled from a helium filled balloon and tried to talk – try it; it’s fun.  I remember at my retirement party, my friend Jessica and I did this – hilarious!

So when I heard of a southern comedy legend’s passing, I was at first sad but then I remembered the times I have seen his shows and what joy he brought to me and others.  Just days after his 78th birthday, James Gregory died (5/6/1946 – 5/9/2024).  Although he never used the term in his shows, he was often considered a “southern” comedian with a “down home, common sense” type of humor.  He started out as a radio icon on syndicated programs including John Boy & Billy and with the Nashville Network.  Since the 80’s, he was called “the Funniest Man in America.”  From Alabama, he was a great storyteller reflecting on life on the front porch of America. If you enjoy humor, without foul language, look up some of his shows on You Tube to get you started – “This Conversation Happens at Every Funeral,” “Baptist know how to Die with Dignity”.  It is true, we respond with every tragedy in life with food –  “a covered dish.”  Check for his biography in November “A Bushel of Beans and a Peck of Tomatoes:  The Life & times of “The Funniest Man in America.”

Some other comedians that don’t rely on too much nasty language to be funny include Nate Bargatze, Jim Gaffigan and a North Carolina native Cliff Cash. Saw  Mr. Cash lives in Wilmington, graduated from UNC-Asheville and is also a photographer with a goal of visiting and documenting all US National Parks while on tour as a comic.  It was stated, his comedy is inspired by George Carlin, often satiric and politically pointed, also somewhat southern in nature. He’s trying to “stop making southerners look stupid, at least 20% of us are not.” Look out for his comedy routine on Netflix in the future.

Find your inner child to bring more laughter into your life.  It can be contagious.