My dad and me around 1967.
My father kept paper clips in a rusty tea tin. He kept a Civil War bullet wrapped in Kleenex in an envelope in a dresser drawer. In a faded wooden cigar box, a handful of letters his mother had written home from the hospital just before she died when he was eight. Outdated train schedules. Tiny pencil nubs with the pocket-sized notebooks he always carried in his breast pocket. I never saw him without one. He never threw one away.
Read the rest in York Literary Review.
In March of 2017, a story of mine won second place in the North Carolina Writers’ Network’s Rose Post Competition. Although this honor comes with a substantial monetary prize, it does not offer publication, so the story remains as yet unpublished. Stay tuned. For now, here is an excerpt.
Loblolly. My father loved this word, delicious on the tongue. My father also loved the loblolly pine. He had a particular fondness for trees in general, in part because they reminded him of his childhood in rural North Carolina. He loved Manhattan and spent all his adult life there, but the spindly street trees were something of a disappointment.
Every summer, he and I would board the Piedmont Airlines jet at La Guardia and two hours later disembark into the swelter of the Raleigh-Durham airport. My cousin David would pick us up and drive us down the old two-lane Highway 70 to Smithfield. We passed through Raleigh and left behind its familiar concrete skyline for what was to me the increasingly exotic and alien landscape of greenery. About an hour into the two-hour drive, David would ask if my dad wanted to drive by “the old home place” and my dad would say, “Well, if it’s not too much trouble.” In the backseat, I rolled my eyes. As we neared the farm, which contained my great grandfather’s decrepit farmhouse, he would turn to me and say in a reverent tone, “Bethy, look at that tree.” David would obligingly slow down so Dad could crane his neck for the longest view of some specimen, which to my city-loving eyes was brown trunk, green leaves, no big deal.
A longtime goal was realized when I got this story published in Cruising World in October of 2016. I ran across Carole Ann Borges’ book when her brother, Cruising World columnist Cap’n Fatty Goodlander, posted about it on Facebook. I liked the book so much, I contacted her about doing an interview. We talked non-stop for ninety minutes, my longest interview yet. She was so excited about the article because she really wanted her book to see a wider audience. Sadly, she was taken by cancer before the piece was published. If you’d like to buy her book, click here. To read my article, click the picture.
By Beth Browne
Published in 234 Journal, May 2011
It was written on a small plastic table in a shaky pencil stroke: Sandy’s table. I think that’s how I guessed his name. It wasn’t until much later that we found out his real name. He commanded a spot on the beach near the parking lot of the vacation rentals, tucked into a V-shaped section of unpainted picket fencing whose original purpose was to protect the dunes. On the far side of the “V” he had a large piece of driftwood decorated with shells. He had collected some nice large whelks, a piece of an iridescent fan and a few of those big sand colored clams that are so common on Carolina beaches.