Contributing Works Stories

The Southern Yellow Jacket

By WT Cox 

I love doing yard work and spend a lot of time working my our yard, which  consist of mowing, putting out mulch, weed eating, trimming shrubbery and the like. You have to enjoy having a nice, manicured yard because it is a lot of hard work.  

Not only is the heat this time of year exhausting, here in the South, but we are also in a constant battle with wildlife. The deer love my fruit trees, and usually get more apples and peaches than I do. During rutting season, the bucks like to use my small fruit trees as scratching post for their antlers. Fire ants are also a menace. If left un-treated, red hills of aggressive little fire ants would dot my landscape, but I have learned to keep a bottle of acephate on my mower to sprinkle on the hills when I first seen signs of them.   Moles and voles can also wreak havoc on a yard. The trick to keeping them away is to treat the yard in the spring for the grubs that they are seeking. This is not a sure cure, but it does help. 

The most irritating and annoying critters that we have to deal with are the vicious Yellow Jacket. This time of year these little devils seem to be everywhere.  These small wasps are not only annoying, but their stings can also be very painful. My mother was putting out some pine bark nuggets along her drive a few days ago and inadvertently laid a bag directly on top of a nest of yellow jackets.  Before she knew what was happening, she was stung over 40 times. 

While the sting of a yellow jacket is painful enough to earn my respect, if your are allegoric to bee stings like my mother is, they can be deadly. Within a few seconds, she began to swell and lose conscience. It was nothing short of a miracle that she was able to call for help and was rushed to get medical help. That many stings could have easily caused death if not treated quickly. 

Yellow Jackets are vicious little critters. They are considered beneficial insects because they feed their young on insects that would otherwise damage crops and ornamental plants in your garden. They can also feed on house fly and blow fly larva.  All this is great, but to me, they are just a pest. I was mowing my yard a couple weeks and got popped in the back of the neck by one. It felt like someone had hit me with a baseball bat.  I can only imagine what my 89-year-old mother must have went through when she got stung so many times.

A yellow jacket will sting you seemingly for no reason.  While enjoying a picnic or meal outdoors, they will fight you for your food and refuse to leave you alone. Yellow Jackets are basically the assholes of the wasp family. They live in very well camouflaged holes in the ground, usually in flower beds or around trees and shrubbery, just waiting for a reason to attack.  There can be thousands of them underground and you never see them until you inadvertently stumble onto their liar… then it is “run for your life.” If you just stand there as swat them, they will cover you up with stings in a few seconds.  

The best cure for these little devils is gasoline…   I am not a fan

. Jackets Pest Control Services, Nest Removal ...

Contributing Works Stories Yesteryear

How did they celebrate the 4th of July 150 years ago???

The 4th of July did not always mean fireworks, hot dogs or a trip to the beach. Years ago it had a more traditional meaning. Somehow over the years, we have lost much of our patriotic pride that used to be exhibited to the fullest on Independence Day. As for me, I am very patriotic, but I still enjoy our trip to the beach every July 4th.

Traditional Independence Day celebrations used to include the singing of the National Anthem and the Reading of the Declaration of Independence. It was a time of remembrance and one of thanksgiving for the freedom we enjoy as Americans. Marching bands, local militias doing drill marches and a lot of flag waving were the order of the day. Afterward, a speaker would usually give a patriotic speech and then more singing, then a covered dish dinner on the grounds. 

Our current “National Air ” or anthem is of course The Star-Spangled Banner, but it probably was not the song played in this position on the program. President Woodrow Wilson first ordered the SSB to be played at military and naval occasions in 1916, but it was not designated the national anthem by an Act of Congress until 1931. Before that time, “Hail Columbia” had been considered the unofficial national anthem. The words to “Hail Columbia, Happy Land!” were written in 1798 by Joseph Hopkinson (son of Francis Hopkinson, composer and signer of the Declaration of Independence), and set to the tune of “The President’s March,” a tune composed by Philip Phile for President George Washington’s inauguration.  ‘Hail Columbia’ is still used as the official song for the Vice President of the United States of America.

Whether vocal, instrumental or military, there is a wealth of American Independence Day music that could be inserted here.  “The Liberty Song”, written by Founding Father John Dickinson in 1768 and set to the music of William Boyce’s “Heart of Oak” was perhaps the first patriotic song written in America. The song contains the line “by uniting we stand, by dividing we fall…”  Others written in the 18th century were “Ode for the 4th of July” and “Ode for American Independence” (1789).  “The Patriotic Diggers,” published in 1814 was popular in the period. If it was another ‘patriotic hymn’ read and sung, “The American Star” is a good possibility because it is one of the few non-religious songs published in the original Sacred Harp hymnal (#346, 1844 ed.).  The first publication of the song was in an 1817 collection entitled The American Star, which was inspired by the War of 1812 and also included the first printing of the Star Spangled Banner.   White and King’s “The Sacred Harp” was first published in 1844, but it was based on William Walker’s “Southern Harmony” (1835).

Taken from, by Mac Whatley , with introduction by WT Cox

Fife Drum OSV2

Independence Day OSVIndependence Day OSV 2

Contributing Works Tea Talk

Scotland = The Loch Ness Monster and The Wee Tea Company

by Mary Murkin

World-wide attention has been given to the Loch Ness Monster—-and rightly so! “Nessie” reportedly inhabits Loch Ness, a lake in the Scottish Highlands. This lake monster made its debut in the year of 565 AD when an Irish monk, Saint Columba, first sighted the beast and saw it go after an acquaintance of his in Loch Ness. More and more Nessie sightings have been recorded over the centuries. Concrete proof of its existence is slow in surfacing, but it doesn’t take away from the thrill of the thought of this creature being out there.

Another exciting discovery in Scotland, and with complete proof of its existence, that is making quite a splash (tea humor) in the tea world is a tea plantation owned by The Wee Tea Company. It was in 2011 that the plantation owners put down roots (a little more tea humor) in the foothills of the Scottish Highlands, Dalreoch in Highland Perthshire.

The Wee Tea Company owners, Derek Walker, 39, Tam O’Brann, 44, and Jamie Russell, 36, began their business as
specialist tea blenders—creating delicious luxury tea blends for a consumer to purchase. This was quite a successful business start………….but, it does not end there. These partners decided that they wanted to grow their own tea and began their tea plantation at Delreoch. This plantation is home to two thousand tea plants, which makes it one of the largest in Europe.

When talking of tea plantations, our minds conjure up images of Indian hillsides and Sri Lankan glens, but now we will be able to include sights of the Scottish Highland Perthshire. This Perthshire tea has its own distinctive flavor. It has a delicate and almost nutty flavor drawn from the local soil and water.

In March of 2015, just four years after starting their plantation, The Wee Tea Company took the tea world by storm! Their smoked white tea won the Gold Award at the Salon du The’ competition in Paris, France. This was an impressive achievement considering they were fending off famous tea names from plantations in China, India and Sri Lanka. This improbable award gives us all hope that nothing is impossible. Raise your cup of tea to Scotland and then, “Bottoms up!”

Mary Murkin is the owner of Carriage House Tea which is sold at Brightside Gallery, 170 Worth Street, Asheboro, NC. Contact her at:

Contributing Works Stories

The Tale of a Talented Broomstraw

by Debra Vernon

My Saturdays are spent washing clothes and cleaning house. While bedecked in my little terry cloth robe over the
weekend, I proceeded to sweep the kitchen. Somehow I managed to trip over my own two feet and took a tumble to the floor. I felt a brief sting in my derrière at the time but gave it little thought. I picked myself up, determined there were no broken bones and started sweeping again. It was then I felt another stabbing pain in my right buttock. I rub my hand over the area and can feel something where there should be nothing. A quick trip to the bathroom and a mirror in hand reveals a broom straw embedded just under the skin of my right butt cheek! How in the world did it evolve from a normal broom straw to a hypodermic one in the nano-second it took me to fall upon the broom on my way to the floor? And how did it manage to wedge itself between my robe and body? This was a seriously talented broom straw! It had traveled places where no one had before! And I wanted it out! Then I had to ponder – should I just yank it out or try to gently pull on it? What would I do if I broke it off before getting it all out? Go to the ER
with a straw in my butt? Nope, not an option. Didn’t want to have to explain to the doc or the insurance company. So with a “grin and bear it” mentality, I took a deep breath and pulled out the offending particle. I’m glad to say I successfully removed all of it, and with very little bloodshed. But I do believe I will switch from a straw broom to a Swiffer. What can possibly go wrong with that, right?

Contributing Works Stories Yesteryear

Nicknames. Like it or not, most of us had one.

by W.T. Cox

What’s in a name?  Every person has one.  The folks from Randolph County are special, in that most people who grew up here have more than one name.  Almost everybody had a “nickname”.  These were names given to people and you were known for the most part by your NickName.  Many times, we recognize a person’s nickname and not know his real “birth” name.  Nick Names are special and are given for a variety of reasons.  Some glamorize a person or highlight a certain achievement.  Examples of this kind of nickname is “Slugger”, or “Hard Hitter”.  Other nicknames describe a person’s appearance, such as “Red”, “Freckles” or “Slim”.  There are even nicknames that are basically shortened versions of a person’s name, such as “Mit”, “Bob”, and “Ed” for Eddie.   Then there are the nicknames that are given for reasons unknown that seem less glamorous.  Examples of these are “Stump”, “Fat”, “Stick” and “Dub Dub”.   Also some nick names seem to be given for no reason at all.   For these, there seems not to be an explanation. 

One thing is certain:  No one ever gets to choose their nickname.    

My nickname growing up was “Dub Dub”.  I used to hate that name.  It seemed so demeaning, or sometimes like a tease.  But over time, I accepted it, and today when someone comes up to me and calls me “Dub”, it brings back memories of growing up here in Ramseur and many of the good times I shared with friends.   Just like most people, I did not have a choice as to what my nickname would be.  Mine goes way back to my first grade class in Ramseur School.  I was in Ms Pete Burgess’ first grade class.  As a six year old, I saw Ms. Burgess as a strict, no nonsense teacher, but one that we could tease… sort of like a female Sergeant Schultz. In our class, we had three “Tim’s” in there, and when the teacher would call on “Tim” to answer a question or to tell “sit down and behave”, all three of us would answer.  This seemed to irritate our teacher, so naturally we all did it every chance we got.  There was Tim Cranford, Tim Clarkston Cox and me… William Timothy Cox.   Sometimes we would do this just to spite Ms Burgess.  Most of the time, we knew which one of us she was referring to when she snapped “sit down and be quite”, but being the malicious little kids like we were, all of us would answer.  Eventually Ms Pete got tired of our mocking and came up with a solution.  She said, “for now own, when I call on Tim, I mean Tim Cranford and just him.  If I say Tim C, then that is you Timothy Clarkston, and from now on Mr. Cox, you will be Tim W.” I immediately protested saying that my name was not Tim W, but W Tim.  Ms Burgess would not listen to reason, and told me to shut up and sit down or I would experience her wrath (which could be considerable). When recess came and we were allowed on the playground, my classmates began to laugh and kid me about my new “name”..  “Tim W… Doubua.. Doubua…   Dub Dub”. Well, I did not like the nickname, but it stuck. I did not have a choice. That was 62 years ago, and some of my classmates still call me by that name.  Over the years, I have accepted it and actually like it now.   

Most people with nicknames can recall how their name came about, but some still don’t have a clue. One thing is for certain. We don’t have a choice of what we are called, but almost everyone had some kind of nickname growing up here. Below are just a few that I remember? There is also a list of nicknames I recall growing up, but cannot put a name to them. How many of these do you remember? 

Nick Names from the Eastern Randolph area:  

–Twink/ Larry Wright

–Tink/ Tim Wright

–Pickles/ Sally Tucker

–Doughbelly/ Mickey Simmons

–Flash/ Jerry Parks

–Pulpwood/ Danny Presswood

–Stick/ Ricky Horner

–Nose/ Hal Richardson

–Pig/ Bill Marley

–Mit/ Milton Brown

–Mushie/ Johnny Crutchfield 

–Measel/ Kenny Morgan

–Wolfee/ Jerry Wolfe

–DubDub/ Tim Cox

–Yellar/ Richard Garner

–Bubba/ Billy Whitten

–Chigger/ David Chriscoe

–Stump/ Larry Stout

–Noonie/ Robert Poe Tucker

–Blimp/ Bobby Johnson

–Porky/ Karl Ernst

–Skinny/ Joe Hodgin

–Boody/ Waylon Brown

–Mayor/ Steve Siler

–Moe/ Franklin Clyde  McAlister

–Son/ Charles Lane

–Prissy/ Janet Siler Booth

–Cube/ Don  Burgess

–Fat/ Ashley Goldston

–Nellie/ Carnell Goldston

–Ernie/ Earnell Watson

–Red/ Teresa Horner

–Red/ William York

–Happy/ Hampton Spivey

–Gouber/ Bob Graham

–Toad/ Craig Macon

–Toad/ Jerry Hopkins

–Pep/ Culpepper Watkins

–Toot/ Thursell Lineberry

–Pot/ Benny Flowers

–Dynomite/ Mike Brown

–Greenie/ Harris W Marley

–Cowboy/ Richard Garner

–Fish/ Wayne Salmon

–ET/ Claude Edgar Tucker

–Goat/ Billy York

–Jay Bird/ Millard Everette Hinson

–Stanjo/ Stan Brown

–Puddin/ Jaws Jeff Hoover

–Pierre/ Perry Stout

–Flea/ Keith Carmac

–Stop/ Danny Gallimore

–A-Boo/ Edna Nixon

–Hat/ Bobby Bower

–Fid/ James Coward

–Ott/ Arthur Gant Sr

–Little Ott/ Arthur Gant

–Ear/ Ronnie Campbell

–Cotton/ James Raines

–Donut/ Delano Welborn

–Hat/ Clarence Harris

–Bubby/ David Kenedy

–Bush/ Phillip Wright

–Bush/ David Craven

–Cactus/ Terry York

–Charm/ Bobby Burgess

–Soup/ Crain Campbell

–Little Armp/ David Staley
–Sharp Eye/ Jack Stout

–Rabbit/ Jeff Wright

–Measel/ Kenny Morgan

–Duffy/ Jerry Cox

–Tiny/ Frank Chamberlin

–Bunt/ Cletus Carmac 

–Soup/ Craig Campbell

–No Hit/ Wayne Burgess

–Ace/ AJ Kirkman

–Doc/ Robert Thomas

–Doc/ Robert Graham Sr.

Here is a list of NickNames from the Ramseur Area over the past 50 years.  Do you recognize any of these?  E-mail your answer to us and we will include them in the next issue of the “Bulletin”.  Send your answers to 






Hard Rock

Sharp Eye


Red Eye

Bad Eye





Short Jaw

Crooked jaw


Tall Man









One Arm









Short Legs






High Crown


New Grounder


Long Arm




High Gear



Wild Man

Dirty Jack







Double P


Big Daddy





























Duck Soc



















Contributing Works Stories

Is That A Tick?

by Debra Vernon

Here is something sure to entertain you for the evening. I call this little ditty “is that a tick on my nether regions”? After mowing and weed-eating my yard and my mom’s, I came into the house and immediately jumped in the shower. While lathering up, I thought I detected a little “bump” where there should be none. After getting out of the shower, I proceeded to investigate. “How,” I asked myself “can I even see the nether regions area to investigate?” I proceeded to put a mirror in my hand and propped one of my legs up onto the edge of the bathtub, intending to get a peek at the area where I felt the bump. As I’m tilting the magnifying mirror to and fro, the mirror itself falls out of the frame and breaks. I now have one leg in the air, little slivers of glass on the floor, and still the possibility of a tick munching on my nether regions. I lower the leg, clean up the glass and press on. Next up is trying to use the video option on my phone to see if there is a blood-sucking parasite located in the nether regions. I can only hope I deleted the video before it uploaded to the cloud, or I may be arrested tomorrow for indecency. After all this, no tick was found feasting on my nether regions – believe me when I say I looked closely! Now, this makes your evening seem much more serene and pleasant doesn’t it?

Contributing Works Stories

Defeated No More

By Debra Vernon

It’s early morning on a Monday as I write this to you.  I love the long days of summer when the sun rises early and sets late.  It provides a lot of hours of daylight to fill with either activity or rest.  I am a morning person.  I do not mind getting up early and enjoying the quiet time before the start of the day.  But if you expect much out of me after 9 pm, you’re certain to be disappointed, as I turn into a sleepy gremlin around that time!

I especially cherish this morning, as my outlook on life has improved from where it has been these last few weeks.  The long days of summer bring heat, and I don’t do well with heat, even in my air-conditioned world.  It causes me irritation and frustration, and there are times I let that fester and grow into a season of discontent.  Joy becomes reclusive during these times, and a smile is not as quick to show on my face.  The quiet I usually cherish becomes dismal due to no one to talk to.  And it sneaks up on me, hardly without notice, until something or someone mentions a change.  I was reminded of this on two separate occasions just yesterday: first at worship and then at prayer group.

During worship, a missionary our church has supported for years came to provide an update of their work in South Africa.  And a mighty work it is!  I am so enthralled and appreciative of those who pack up their family and their home and move to a land far away to spread the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ!  There are hardships for sure, but evidence shows there are blessings unmeasured in following His will to go into the world and tell others of His love.  The speaker mentioned that people go through seasons; and challenged us to find our season and the purpose of it.  So, I took the challenge and reviewed my situation.  

My most recent season has been one of some mild physical ailments, work which has taxed the limits of my expertise and ability, and an unusual feeling of loneliness.  What’s up with that?  As I age, with a birthday this month, I guess some physical limitation is to be expected.  I am blessed to continue to work through the pandemic and into the recovery period, but the stress of trying to help all those who call upon me with their problems has stressed me out.  And then, though I speak with folks daily on the phone and some in person, the end of the day has me wondering, “did anyone think of me today”?  What is my purpose during this time I am in the valley instead of on the mountain top? 

I was still pondering this as I arrived for prayer group.  I almost did not go.  It was hot, I was tired even after a nap, and I just wanted to stay home.  Not exactly the picture of someone with a purpose in life, right?   As it turns out, the gathering was small.  Tis the season for summer vacations, so that attributed to some absences, and health issues to others.  But the ones that were there greeted me with a smile and a hearty hello as I arrived, and I was happy I had come.

Our prayer group is such a blessing to me, and others!  We share our hopes, dreams, hurts and frustrations.  In other words, these folks see me “warts and all” and still love me.  You cannot ask for more than that.  And it was there, as we met together and prayed for our families, our church, our community, and a host of other things we stormed the gates of heaven with, I became aware that satan was being vanquished.  For you see, I had allowed him to occupy my thoughts, and he did what he does best:  kill, steal, and destroy.  He was killing my desire to gather with other believers, stealing my time away from being in The Word and destroying my joy!

Well, let me tell you.  A great burden was lifted from me last night.  And I believe others felt it too.  Will I succumb to the valley again?  I can guarantee it.  Will I be able to lift myself out of it?  Only through the One that loves me like no other.  But with Him by my side, as well as my prayer buddies, I am defeated no more.   

Contributing Works

An Ode to the Single Mom on Father’s Day

I don’t think anyone ever plans on being a single parent.  On that much-anticipated wedding day, the future seems so bright and everyone thinks that surely, this was meant to be.  Time passes, and children often come along to bring additional blessings to your life.  Ah, the family unit is complete.  How much better can life be?

But sometimes, due to circumstances that can never be planned for, situations occur that break the union that wasn’t intended to be broken.  Sometimes death snatches a loved one away, and suddenly there is a void that will never be entirely filled again.  Other times, the love that was so strong at the beginning proves not fervent enough to endure those tough times that all marriages encounter.  And, there are also those who abandon marriage to pursue other interests or other people.  Whatever the cause, the cocoon of safety and assurance that once enveloped us is shattered, and life is never quite the same again.  

That’s where I found myself long ago, when my daughter had just turned 6, and was getting ready to graduate from kindergarten.  Suddenly, we weren’t your typical family unit anymore, just a mom and daughter wondering what in the world the future held for us.

Fortunately, due to God’s goodness, and a family that loved us more and more with each passing day, we grew together through the ensuing years.  Was it easy?  Gracious no.  Was it hard?  Heavens yes – both financially and emotionally!  But there were blessings to be found in every circumstance, and if we looked for them, we were sure to encounter them, tucked away in the most mundane moments of life.  So, this month, when we celebrate Father’s Day, I want to salute the single moms out there who fulfill the role of dad.

You know who you are:  the one trying your darnedest to fix the leak under the kitchen sink with just a pair of pliers.  Or the one looking under the hood of the car, trying to figure out just exactly where the air filter is, so that you can change it yourself, and not pay someone else to do it.  Or perhaps, while fixing that leaky toilet, you didn’t realize you had not turned the water connection off before proceeding to work your plumbing magic (though this did make for a good laugh for your daughter who is watching the fountain of youth spring up in your bathroom).  

And, since there is only one of you filling the role of two, you sometimes overbook yourself, and try to be in two places at one time, such as work and the school awards ceremony.  And, when the kids are sick, you can’t trade off with a spouse and say, “Honey, you take her to the doctor today; I did it last time”.  You also go into work sick, so that you can save your sick days for when the kids are sick.

You cash in some of your vacation time to buy them a computer, so they can have the opportunity to do better in school.  You stay up at night and figure out how your “in-come” relates to your “out-go” and then figure it again to see what must be paid now and what can wait.  You’re the one putting the bicycle together on Christmas eve to help Santa out.  You’re the one who helps with homework, dries the tears from the effects of young love gone wrong during science class and, in general, keeps the home fires burning.   You mow the lawn, service the car, clean the house, wash the clothes, cook the meals and anything else that needs to be done, as there is no one else to do it.  But there, among all the things that you do, lies the secret of happiness – giving the best you have for the best part of you, your child.  Someone once said, “I never knew that my heart could exist outside my body, until I had a child”.  Isn’t that the truth?

The values instilled in me as a child served me well during those lean years.  My own childhood was quite different, as I was blessed with a wonderful mom and dad, whose marriage lasted “until death do us part”.  This Father’s Day, I will stop to honor the memory of my dad, who left this earth way too soon.  It is because of him, and the many things I learned from him, that I have been able to fulfill the role of dad for my own daughter.

It’s on occasions like this that I realize how much has been accomplished over the years.  Remember the little skinny girl who graduated from kindergarten the year my husband left?  She matured into a very bright and wonderful young woman.  She knows the value of a dollar, that anything worth having is worth working hard for and that mom will always love her, no matter what.  She’s married to a fabulous man, which means I’ve gained a son.  And I now have three wonderful grandchildren, and this MiMi loves them with all of her heart and then some!  

Would I recommend rearing a child on your own, without the presence of both parents?  No.  But when faced with such a situation, I know it can be done.  So happy Father’s Day to the single mother who fills the role of dad, regardless of the reason.  You are to be commended on all you do to provide for and protect your family.  You are special, you are needed, and you are the one God has chosen to lead your family.  It’s quite the challenge, with disappointment and failure sure to come.  But, just as with any garden, you reap what you sow.  Keep on sowing lots of love, lots of patience, lots of kindness and lots of goodness and hopefully you will see your children grow up and provide a bountiful harvest you can be proud of.  That was my goal, and my harvest has been wonderful. 

Contributing Works

Father’s Day, What It Means to Me

  When I was growing up, this was just another day, not really special, but kind of.  We would recognize Dads at our church on Sunday, but I did not realize just how special of a day it was until I lost my father. 

  My Dad would always go to his father’s house and just spend time with him on Father’s Day.  I thought that was so boring. They usually did not do anything but sit and talk. Our family celebrated the birthdays, and special days like Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas. These holidays were always a full family event where Aunt Velma and her family and ours would get together with my grandparents, have a meal and spend the day together. Father’s Day was more of a personal note, just a time we would go and spend with PaPa. When Granddaddy passed away in 1977, it was just me and my Dad, but I still made it a point to go and spend a little time with him on Father’s Day. I did not realize just how important that time would mean until years later.    

My Dad was a simple man.  Everything he did, he did for his family.. that was his enjoyment. When I was 12 years old, he offered to let me work for him after school and during the summer at his lumber yard. Since I always had to earn whatever money I had, this was something I eagerly agreed to. I would ride with him sometimes when he layed off new home sites and my job was to hold the scale rod so he could get measurements from his survey instrument, or to hold a stake so he could drive it into the ground with a sledge hammer.  During the summer, if I was not helping prime tobacco with our neighbors, I would work at the Building Supply and stack lumber from our sawmill so it could be air dried and then planned into lumber for the houses we built. My wages were 30 cents an hour.  I remember thinking that was a lot of hard work for such little pay, but in hindsight, a young kid like me could not be too much help, me and my cousin Eddie worked hard, but we also goofed off a lot too. My Dad never said anything.  I wondered why, unless the work we did was really great… but it was not. Years later I realized that Daddy just wanted to be able to spend time with me. He seemed to work all the time, leaving home at 6:30 and coming back after 7… he worked 7 days a week and that was what was needed back then to keep a family going. I just did not realize how much my Dad really wanted to be with me.

  Sometimes we would  go fishing on Sunday afternoons after Church… that was a special time for me and my Dad. I remember him making a wooden boat in the barn one year so we could paddle down the river like he had done in his youth.  Daddy spent many hours sanding, and putting in solid brass screws into a flat bottom “Jon” boat that he planned to take down Deep River. When it was finally finished, and had several coats of varnish applied, we were ready. I caught up a mess or worms from around the barn and Daddy fixed a picnic lunch.. (Actually my mother made the sandwiches, but it was Daddy’s idea).  We went down to the wildlife landing off Hwy 64 and put in at the Sandy Creek landing.  Once we paddled down into the river, where we were  met with sheets of gooey, dark brown dye floats. The river was a patchwork of goo. The cotton mill in Franklinville used to dump their waste into the river before it was regulated. The paddles that Daddy had hand carved became stained with dye, and it was obvious that even if we caught some fish, we could not eat them because of the pollution.   I was disappointed, but my Dad lost a chance to spend time with his son. Looking back, at all the things my Dad did for me over the years, I realize now that most were just opportunities for him to spend time with me. What I would give to have another day with my Dad… just an hour.  Just time to tell him how much he meant to me and how much I loved him. The older we get, the more I realize just how precious just spending time with someone can be.  

Daddy suffered from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease the last couple years he was alive. I tried to spend as much time with him as I could because I realized his days were numbered. Every day I would make an effort to see him and sit and talk, even if just for a little while. Sometimes he had difficulty understanding, but at other times, he would remember the times we had together and reflect. The last thing my Dad said to me was not spoken words.  He looked at me and squeezed my hand as he lay in the Hospice bed.  “It’s OK Daddy, I will take care of momma… I love you,” I said. And then my Dad was gone. He died peacefully, knowing that he would soon be in the presence of Christ. I was left still wanting to say so many things to him… I was not ready to let him go. I still had fishing trips I hoped to take.

 On  Father’s Day, I remember the pain of losing my father and the emptiness I felt afterward. I guess that is why Father’s Day is so special to me.  I remember my Dad, but most of all, I remember how much my Dad enjoyed just being around and spending time with me. 

  I am thankful for all the memories of my Father, and regret that I did not make time for more. 

Contributing Works Uncategorized

Decoration Day: A Historical Look At Memorial Day

by T. Hill

The Civil War. One of the bloodiest wars in America’s history, ended on April 9, 1865. Four years after its first battle at Ft. Sumter, SC, this war claimed more lives than any other conflict in U.S. history, with an estimated 620,000 men; 2% of the population during that time.

Following the Civil War, it became a tradition in most small towns around the US to host annual tributes or ceremonies in honor of lives lost during the war, a day called Decoration Day. Known today as Memorial Day, it continues to be a day of celebration and honor of fallen veterans, a concept actually dating back to ancient Greece and Rome in 431 B.C. Still today, there remains controversy over the origins of this holiday.

One of the earliest Memorial Day celebrations happened in Charleston, South Carolina by a group of freed slaves following a month after the Confederacy surrendered in 1865. It happened on what had been a horse race track, where 257 Union Soldiers had died in the makeshift prison camp and were buried in a mass grave. 10,000 people attended this momentous memorial, including freed slaves and white missionaries and teachers. Known then as “The Martyrs of the Racecourse” cemetery, the graves were moved and reinstated as Hampton Park after Confederate General Wade Hampton.

The traditional Confederate Memorial Day originally began by the Ladies Memorial Association of Columbus, Georgia who invited Confederate states throughout the US to join in the celebration in the Spring of 1866. There are still a few states today who continue to commemorate those fallen soldiers on the 26th of April each year.

But it was in the Summer of 1865 when Henry C. Welles and General John B. Murray of Waterloo, NY began the declaration of an annual memorial ceremony in honor of fallen soldiers. 

Finally, in May of 1868, US House of Representative and leader of an organization for Civil War veterans, General John A. Logan, called for a nationwide day of remembrance. May 30th 1868 was then declared as Decoration Day, in honor of those fallen in defense of their country.

In 1966 the State of NY, Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller and the US Federal Government declared Waterloo, New York, the official birthplace of Decoration Day (Memorial Day).

Since this holiday was specific to veterans of the Civil War, Decoration Day was later changed in 1968 by Congress in order to honor fallen American soldiers of all historical wars. First celebrated in 1971, the Uniform Monday Holiday Act declared Memorial Day as a federal holiday and declared it as the last Monday in May in order to create a three-day weekend for federal employees.

Today, regardless of it’s origins or it’s meaning, the purpose behind Memorial Day/Decoration Day are one in the same. To honor those fallen soldiers. Cities and towns across the United States host Memorial Day parades, while families and friends visit cemeteries and memorials to decorate graves with flowers and decorations. Some post-WW1 traditions of wearing a red poppy flower are still seen in many communities. Unofficially, Memorial Day marks the first day of Summer for all Americans, beginning the season with a long weekend for travel, cookouts and summer festivities.

On a national level, the American flag is hung at half-staff until noon each Memorial Day and since the U.S. Congress passed legislation in 2000, all Americans are encouraged to pause for a National Moment of Remembrance at 3 p.m. local time. 

As then California Governor Ronald Reagan proudly stated at his 1967 Inaugural Address “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.” 

May we never forget freedom isn’t free.