The Phoenix Fall 2011 Pfeiffer University MIsenheimer, North Carolina
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Pfeiffer University Misenheimer, North Carolina
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Cover Photograph by Kirsten Bragg
The Phoenix ÂŠ 2011 Reproduction of any material within this publication is prohibited without consent of the artist or author of that particular work.
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Letter from the Advisor Another step in the ongoing evolution of the Pfeiffer University literary magazine, The Phoenix, has transpired. In keeping with current trends in publication, the staff is transforming from print format to an e-zine with plans for an annual print publication that celebrates the’ best of the best.’ The 11-12 staff, listed below, is creating an online presence linked to Pfeiffer’s Web Site that includes the current publication, archives of previous publications, a blog, and an opportunity for readers to respond. As their advisor, I congratulate them on taking ownership of the process and completing the transformation within the confines of one semester. -Sylvia Hoffmire“…there were creative writing teachers long before there were creative writing courses, and they were called and continue to be called editors.” Kurt Vonnegut
Production Editor Stacy Deese Asst. Editor for Poetry Cynthia Dick Asst.. Editor for Fiction/Non-Fiction Joleen Hill Asst. Editor for Art/Photography Brittany Loder
Faculty/Staff Readers Dr. Kristy Embry Paula Morris Dr. Gerald Neal
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Table of Contents The Qualities of Silence
Dr. David Palmer
Sunrise in January
If Life Was A Staircase
The Seen Untold Story
The “O” Train
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Education, For Granted
A Catfish-and-Mouse Game
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The Qualities of Silence The qualities of silences are many and yet, Each one has a surprisingly different effect. The qualities of silences are such that I find Every silence has a different impact on my mind.
There was a silence, and I filled it with noise. The conversation stalled, so I piped up my voice. But there are moments in which silence is my friend. Every earthly rest prepares us for that silence at the end.
“Some silence is welcome; some silence is sad. Like the end of a noise or losing a friend that we had.” “Like losing one’s voice after having too much talk.” “Just having a rest after having a long squawk.”
“After the power goes out when there’s been too much TV.” --“After the gunfire stops, and enemies agree.” “After the vitriol gets caught in their throats.” “After the music stops when there’ve been too many notes.”
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“When you love the one you’re with, and silence is enough.” “When the talk show host goes off the air, and they finally shut up.” “When you go to the country, and you can’t hear cars any more.” “When the lump of lard turns over, and you cannot hear them snore.”
“Yahweh’s in her holy temple; let all the earth be silent. Be still before the Lord; let go of sonic violence.” “Un moment de silence après le tempête.” “At the end of the song, the fade out to rest.”
“The qualities of silences are many and yet, Each one has a surprisingly different effect. The qualities of silences are such that we find Every silence has a different impact on our mind.”
-David Palmer Department of Music
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Sunrise in January
- Brittany Loder Phoenix Staff Member
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If Life was a Staircase If life was a staircase
which way would you look?
Would you look to the
bottom or the top?
Would you look
to see how far the top
is from the bottom, or
how far the bottom
is from the top?
Would you rather take
one step at a time to the top,
or just use the escalator,
which can bring you down just as quick?
- Lindsay Sisco
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- Kirsten Bragg
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Trouble Ride On June 12th, in the year 2000, a desperate man by the name of Nascimento got on a bus in Rio de Janeiro and took its passengers hostage. Five days later, on June 17th, 2000, my mother, my two brothers, and myself got into my Daddy's car, and were taken hostage. The passengers on the bus couldn't have possibly known what was going to happen to them that day; undoubtedly they were just along for the ride, from one place to another, completely unsuspecting of the man who would get on bus #174 and change their lives. I should consider myself lucky, then; I knew from the moment Daddy opened his mouth that morning and said, â€œlet's get in the car and go somewhere,â€? that we weren't just going for a ride. Just as it's normal for people to get on a bus, it was normal for my family to take rides. Coming from somewhere, going to somewhere, if there was extra time, we would just ride. But this kind of ride was different. This was a trouble ride. When I was eleven and I didn't like my Christmas presents, Daddy took me for a trouble ride. It wasn't a ride from somewhere or a ride to somewhere; it was a ride to trap your ass right there so he could say whatever needed saying without you escaping. It's really ingenius, if you give the notion some thought. You can't run away from a moving vehicle! Nascimento and my Daddy are wise kinds of men, in that way. But, on June 17th, I wasn't eleven, and it wasn't Christmas. I was thirteen and it was Father's Day. I Pfeiffer Phoenix 13
was thirteen and it was Father's Day and it wasn't just me in the car, or just Granseur or just Jonathan, or just Daddy and Momma for that matter. It was all of us, and Momma wasn't talking and she didn't look happy and this was most certainly not one of our usual rides. It was a trouble ride, I could tell, and he was taking the whole family along on leather seats and too much air conditioning and all of us sliding around with the curves, not bothering to grasp for the â€œwahooâ€? bars because we didn't go very far. We just went down Badin Road to Guard Road, or maybe we went down Badin Road to Momo Road and then he took us up Valley Drive. Or, maybe I wanted him to take us down all those roads and never tell us why we were in the car, but he didn't. He just turned left out of the driveway, and turned right onto the Kirk property and bumped us up and down on the dirt road back to that old house at the edge of the woods with the rotting tire swing and the broken down porch and no cornerstone to hold that house up. How far did that bus go, before Nascimento expressed his intention? I remember reading that the route traveled through an upper-middle class neighborhood, and I wonder if he rode along for a while, letting the bus make a couple of stops and allowing the passengers to remain comfortable. Or, if like Daddy, he took the short route, and laid it on them quick. It must've been early, because we got out of the car and it wasn't hot yet. Actually, it was beautiful. The sky was blue, the sun was shining, and the breeze was making those delicate patterns as it kissed Pfeiffer Phoenix 14
each strand of wheat and moved on to the next. I'm sure it was hot in Rio de Janeiro, where the bus full of people was still awkwardly trusting that each rider was simply going about his usual way. I'm sure it was hot there, but it was a rare, cool-ish June morning here in North Carolina, and we were all walking around, trusting, or hoping, that this was just a pause in a ride to somewhere or from somewhere. â€œLet's sit, I want to talk to y'all for a while,â€? Daddy said, and I imagine Nascimento probably requested something similar of his bus passengers. I wonder if they stayed in their seats, or if there was a hero who would stand when asked to sit. Momma, did she sit on a fence? And Jonathan and Granseur and me, where did we sit? Maybe we didn't sit but we were all there, together, and Daddy told us that Momma and he had decided that they couldn't live together anymore and that he was going to be staying at Mawmaw's for a little while. I read that Nascimento told his passengers how he had had no where to live, that he had nothing. I read that he told his passengers that he had nothing and he needed their money, that he had no intention of hurting anyone. When we got back in the car, Daddy told us that it didn't mean that he didn't love us, but we knew that, so he told us that it didn't mean that he didn't love our mother. He didn't want anyone to be hurt, he just wanted to be honest. Then, he did turn right, on Badin Road, and then right taking Guard Road to Burd Road. Right again he turned onto Valley Drive, and right on Momo Road. He just kept turning right Pfeiffer Phoenix 15
and there we all went in a circle when I damn well knew that not one of us still wanted to be in that car. We were trapped in there with poor Daddy trying to hold on to what it was like to all be together and it be okay. Those hostages were trapped on that bus with Nascimento trying to hold on to the last option he thought he had. Daddy took us on a trouble ride and no matter how many right turns he made, he couldn't make it right, and that was sad. It shouldn't have been his fault, and he shouldn't have felt guilty, but you can't go on a trouble ride and expect it to come out right. Nascimento got on a bus and no matter how long he held those hostages, it wouldn't fix his life. And that was sad, but it didn't make it right.
- Cynthia Dick Phoenix Staff Member
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-Tabitha Shue Phoenix Staff Member
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The Seen Untold Story The love for the game never changed started off as a kid grew into a burning flame
Pull through every time I see their names live life fear nothing reminds me to never change
Things happen which become mental note I rise up with a personal prayer and a quote
Which lets me know I conquer any obstacle chase after my dreams knowing anythingâ€™s possible
Showing homage to a city close to my heart I feel I can do it all through this musical art but most people say it is absurd because they only see it as body art and ink words. - Jarvis Wardsworth
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The “O” Train
- Jordy Carson
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Everywhere One night I came home and my house was burned to the ground. My father stood in the front yard, facing the smoldering remains. “What happened?” I asked. He was wearing jeans and his plaid shirt and nothing else: he was barefooted, his feet blackened by the soot. “Your mother was everywhere,” he said. “I smelled her everywhere.” They got married when I was five. I was the flowergirl to my own parent’s wedding. I was born when they were both eighteen, and my father saw it through until I was two, and he left, unsure of whether he was with my mother because he loved her or because it was for the sake of their baby. I never understood why it couldn’t have been both. He wandered for a year, and returned one night in the middle of a rainstorm, a broken man. My mother opened the screen door, me on her hip, and we both looked down at him. “I love you,” he said, and my mother let him in. It was my first memory—my father, on his knees, tears in his eyes, his hands resting on my mother’s feet, looking up and saying those words. I guess a year is long enough for someone to figure out they’ve made a mistake. He became the strongest man. He loved my mother with everything he possessed, and he loved me . Pfeiffer Phoenix 20
There was nothing more powerful on this earth that was stronger than my father’s love. I don’t know what cracked inside of her, what crumbled, what creature grabbed her by the core and made her walk away. She left us in the same way he had, except she was sure, and she wasn’t coming back. My father ceased to live. As if she filled every space within him, once she left, he was a shell. Her things were still a part of every room in our house. It was as if she vanished, disappeared, evaporated. I looked up at my father, and saw that his face had fallen apart as he had begun to weep fiercely. “Dad?” I asked. “I can still smell her,” he sobbed. It wasn’t until then that I noticed my mother’s car sitting in the driveway, her belongings half-filling the gaping trunk.
- Kaitlyn Mullis
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- Matthew Effinger
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Something Beautiful They say your body describes who you are, But is it your body that defines beauty? Our bodies are simply the judged containers While something beautiful lies inside. Unfortunately the decisions you make Determine whether it is dead or alive. Looking at the superficial, There is nothing unique. But as you search for beauty, You will see what there is to seek. As Mother Nature starts off under the ground, She produces the essentials of life. As your body is only what the eye can see, The most beautiful part is out of sight. The true beauty comes from within, You just have to want to find it To see what has always been.
- Morgan Barnes
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- Jingzhuo Li
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Monster It's creeping closer, this monstrous fear. It slinks and it slithers, drawing ever-near.
I don't want this; I try and flee but no matter how far I run it always comes to me.
It wraps around my mind whispering treacherous lies and some frightening truths (at least, I surmise).
Though try as I might, it's always about encircling my heart; this monster called doubt. - Brittany Loder Phoenix Staff Member Pfeiffer Phoenix 25
- Brittany Loder Phoenix Staff Member
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The hour cannot slow the second hand. Always first, it passes it to pass again. Both hands are each otherâ€™s to hold, But they touch for a moment, then let go. Again theyâ€™ll touch sometime they know, What time they tell together, I dismiss. From missing you, it feels amiss, I am the hour, I am old.
- Stephen Schroeder
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- Kirsten Bragg
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Pink Ribbons I always see them now, everywhere, at basketball games in the cheerleaders’ hair. I see them on shirts, sweaters, and hats. They are so abundant, I am just realizing that.
On wine bottles at grocery stores and magnets on cars, on blankets, bracelets cups, and even on scarves. I wonder why I didn’t see them so much before? They are just reminders that make me want to ball up on the floor.
Awareness. Support. Love. Hope. People say that’s what they stand for, but I didn’t get a vote. Slogans like “save the ta-tas” make their use seem like a joke, sometimes when I see them, I tear up and start to choke.
For me they represent the future unknown, while also meaning a stronger family, and never left alone.
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I now wear them to show and silently voice my support, and Iâ€™ve built up walls around me that would resemble a fort.
I wonder why I didnâ€™t see them so much before? They are just reminders that make me want to ball up on the floor.
- Hailey Starnes
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- Tabitha Shue Phoenix Staff Member
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Education, for Granted This is the story of a woman named Benazir. She used to be a student, and eventually a teacher, alongside her best friend at Zargona High School in Kabul, Afghanistan…used to be. Benazir studied English in high school, enjoying poetry, nature, and photography. She got her master’s degree in education at Queensland University in Brisbane, Australia. During her college career, she was involved in the Business and Professional Women’s Association, the Soroptimist Club, the YWCA, and the United Nations Association. After teaching for while and winning best teacher of the year three times, she was appointed the principal of the Afghan Women’s Society Vocational High School, a women’s school which at one time had three thousand students enrolled. Soon after taking the job, Benazir began to travel abroad to conferences and seminars, going to countries such as Mongolia, Indonesia, Moscow, Manila, and Bangkok. (Ellis 4) The Taliban came. In Afghanistan’s attempt to fight off the rebellion, bombings went off without warning, randomly killing whatever citizen had the misfortune of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Gradually, the Taliban took over the city. The women were forced to wear burqas, which are dark garments designed to hide the entire body, must be worn whenever a woman enters Pfeiffer Phoenix 32
the public eye, and taken off only when she enters her home. Every Friday, alongside other Kabul citizens, they were made to go to the stadium to watch the mutilation or killing of arrested Afghanis. The Taliban targeted educated people, throwing the ones who did not escape the country into jail. Benazir escaped the country. She fled to Peshawar, a large city in Pakistan near the border of Afghanistan, along with thousands of other Afghanis who held the title “refugees”. Her life was much different. (Ellis 5) “Now, I am jobless,” Benazir explains. “I have no way to survive economically. I live in Peshawar with lots of difficulties. Having an education and not being able to use it is like having money and not being able to buy food” (Ellis 6). This is a very true story, but it is not the only one telling of botched education. This next story is about an American college student who will go unnamed by choice. At about seven on a Thursday night, she takes a shower and lets her friends fix her hair while she works on her makeup. They leave the dormitory and climb into the car, giggling the whole way. They arrive at their destination, a house blaring dance music and loud drunken yelling. She dances into the night, growing more and more comfortable with each alcoholic drink she consumes. Here is where the story goes into intermission, not for storytelling’s sake, but because our main character wakes up the next afternoon with no recollection of the previous night. She does not care that she Pfeiffer Phoenix 33
has missed her morning classes and has too much of a headache to attend her afternoon class, for which she has not finished her homework anyway. This is not a true story in the traditional sense, but based instead on the growing statistic of college students that go out every night looking for a good time, no matter what cost it has on their academic life. The Core Institute, which in 2005 surveyed 33,379 undergraduates on over fifty United States campuses, found that 31% of college students missed a class due to alcohol, 22% failed an exam or essay, and roughly 159,000 of the nationâ€™s current freshmen will drop out of school because of alcohol or drug use (Burrell 1). It is hard not to wonder, in the light of these contrasting stories, what Benazir would say to the young girl in the second story. There is a terrible amount of things she could say, but it would be enough for her to just shake her head and look away. There are thousands of women where Benazir lives that would understand this reaction. Their desire for education is so immense that they often compare having no education to having no life. Without it, they are forced to lives lived monotonously indoors, where venturing outdoors means wearing the burqas under the threat of violence from the Taliban. American students, however, continue to suffer from the disease of not understanding. They spend their days sitting in spoiled splendor, lounging in desks inside well-equipped classrooms with fluorescent lights shining overhead and temperatures that can be made warmer or cooler by a single degree, depending on Pfeiffer Phoenix 34
the weather outside. They do not think of Benazirâ€™s heartbreaking situation in Afghanistan as they sleep through their morning classes. They do not think, as they daydream in the middle of a lecture or doodle in their notebooks during presentations, about the teacher-less children in a faraway village in Korphe, Pakistan who scratch their multiplication tables into the dirt that they sit on with sticks (Mortenson 35). These children did not have a teacher because the Pakistan government has no money left over from their military budget, they wrote in the dirt with sticks because their families cannot afford school supplies, and they were outside on a cold winter day because there was no school. The last sentence was written in past tense because a man named Greg Mortenson risked everything to build a school for them. Why do American students take education for granted? To take for granted, in a sense, means to gradually lose gratitude for something or someone. Education, however, is not something or someone. It is everything. Education is everything that holds open the door to a life lived to the fullest. What constitutes as education being taken for granted, therefore, can be as small as education not being taken full advantage of. A student that walks past a neglected half-written essay on his way to the door to meet his friends for a night-long quest to pick up girls, or the history textbook that never gets read, or the mark beside somebodyâ€™s name that symbolizes absenteeism due to a vicious hangoverâ€Śthese are all examples of an opportunity for Pfeiffer Phoenix 35
education that is bypassed multiple times. There are young adults elsewhere in the world that would love to have a chance to write the rest of that neglected essay, pour over chapter after chapter of the textbook, and sit in that temperature-controlled classroom, away from the sweltering heat of the desert sun or the sub-zero winds that rip through the harsh landscape of their hometown. Education is made readily available to today’s American students. From the time they are very young to the time they walk out of graduate school with their doctorate’s degree, students in the United States are fully aware and used to the fact that their right to an education will never be stripped away. They live a life where there is no doubt where they will be pressured to spend the four years that follow their high school graduation. As of 2006, the percent of high school seniors who enrolled in college the autumn following their high school graduation was sixty-six (Transition to College 1). Students walked into their kindergarten classroom surrounded by colorful posters that claimed “The Sky is the Limit!” and teachers that assigned papers that had the title “What I Want To Be When I Grow Up.” These kindergartners grew up, and moved through elementary school with the promise of attending a middle school soon after. Middle school is where students are first bombarded with the idea of college. Parents encourage their children to make excellent grades in practice for high school, so that the university they apply to will be impressed. They may even introduce their middle Pfeiffer Phoenix 36
school-aged kids to the term “college fund.” Once students hit high school, everything is about the next step to the university. They are encouraged to get involved in student government, because it looks great on a college transcript if someone has held the title of student body president or class treasurer. Honor societies such as the Beta Club and the National Honor Society exist for the sole reason to push students into college. Classes become weighted, preceded with the words such as Honors and AP, or advanced placement. If one should take an AP class and receive a high score on the official AP exam, they earn college credit. Athletics are important, whether someone is striving for an athletic scholarship or the sport becomes just another bullet in a student resume. Dozens of other extracurricular activities are scattered across a high school campus, just waiting for the high school student to join, using the mantra that “it looks good on a college transcript” to lure them in. After three years of this, students move into their senior year. Applications are sent off to universities, and the wait begins for the admissions office to send acceptance or denial letters. Worse still, the letter could place the student on the waiting list, and more anticipation builds. Finally, after thirteen years, the students graduate and move off to college, where in the first week, they are usually asked about their intentions for graduate school. Education continues, just as expected. It is easy to see how students can place their education on the backburner. They become weary of the monotony that school presents, and they long for a break in the habits of the typical school week. Parties Pfeiffer Phoenix 37
become more and more enticing, offering alcohol and drugs that allow a tough week in frustrating studies to melt away almost instantly. The social scene of the party is all too much for a young adult to resist. In a studentâ€™s mind, it makes no difference whether they party on a Saturday night instead of studying for midterm exams. It is America, after all, and it is the land of opportunity. No one is going to take that opportunity away from a young person. They can study for midterms the following Sunday, and the exams will still be there in the coming week. Education will still there when they go back to school on Monday. The idea of the omnipresent chance at education that swims around in the head of a student may be true, but it is not the right mindset for a young person, and not all students are able to enjoy that kind of attitude. School-age children in the war-torn countries of Afghanistan and Pakistan have lost all hope at gaining an education. Before the Talibanâ€™s takeover, children in Afghanistan went to school as usual, usually going on to graduation and college. Now, schools have closed down due to lack of funding or because they have been destroyed by the effect of the war. The Taliban have made it against the law for girls or women to attend school. Any female that attends school is punished, usually by torture or execution. Even before the Taliban took control, girls were usually forced to quit school by their families and entered an arranged marriage with a man they have never met before. Girls as young as thirteen were sworn into marriage and started families, spending their adolescent years in the repetitive duties of a housewife. Pfeiffer Phoenix 38
After the Taliban, women hardly venture outdoors. Amongst other laws against the women of Afghanistan, the rule that forces females to wear a burqa is the most hated, and the most widely enforced. If even a hand should show, a woman is beaten down in the middle of the street. The Taliban target educated people in particular, forcing them to quit their jobs, which cut their families off financially to the point where the parents become beggars and the children are set back even farther from their longing to go to school (Ellis, 60-65). While it is now plain to see why American students take their education for granted, it has been made equally difficult to learn of the struggles of the Afghani people, especially in contrast with the average American student. The fact that we Americans fail to take full advantage of our opportunities to take a firm hold of education while others scratch helplessly at the dirt in an insatiable hunger to learn is quite a bitter pill to swallow, as it should be. If our democracy should crumble, and the rights to an education were stripped away, we would become terribly aware of the situation in Afghanistan. Perhaps, then, American students would become capable of appreciating education the way they should, and maybe this would be the only way to do so, since the fact that their schooling is readily available has been engrained into a young personâ€™s mind and personality since they were four years old. When one knows that something, or rather everything, is sitting on a table and never will be taken away, it may become understandable for him to ignore it for a while, to take care of it later, because when he Pfeiffer Phoenix 39
comes back, it will still be there. After all, if education were a stopwatch, wouldn’t it be tempting to stop time, go enjoy yourself for a weekend, and come back whenever you’re ready to press the start button again? It seems that this would be an opportunity every student would take, and many students do. The students growing up under the oppression of the government cannot, and while it is not the American student’s fault, it remains his responsibility to appreciate every minute of education he receives, and to never push the button on the stopwatch to make it slide to a halt, even if it is temporary and harmless. This is the last story, and it is short. Feyba is a seventeen-year-old young lady from Kabul, living with her mother and two brothers in Pakistan for the past six years. Her family dislocated from Afghanistan for the same reason that the schools in Kabul were closed— because of the war. (Ellis 136) “Education means everything to me,” Feyba says. She says if she could say one thing to other people her age, it would be this: “If they have the chance for an education, they should work as hard as they can, because not everyone has the chance they have.” (Ellis 137) - Kaitlyn Mullis
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Â Works Cited 1. Burrell, Jackie. "Sobering Statistics on College Students and Alcohol Use: The Impact on Your Freshman." About.com. 2008. 23 Oct 2008 <http://youngadults.about.com/ healthandsafety>. 2. Ellis, Deborah. Women of the Afghan War. Westport, Connecticut: Praeger Books, 2000. 3. Mortenson, Greg, and David Oliver Relin. Three Cups of Tea. 1st ed. New York: Penguin Books, 2006. 4. "Transition to College." IES: National Center for Education Services. 2006. Census Bureau. 23 Oct 2008 <http://nces.ed.gov/programs>.
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- Kirsten Bragg
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A Catfish– and – Mouse Game Dodge Elder was quite a teller of tales. People listened attentively but among themselves wondered how he thought they could believe such ridiculous stories. Dodge was a bright enough guy – he earned an MS degree in Physics from an institution in Cleveland, Ohio and taught physics at a small college – but he always insisted these stories were true. One claim he made was that he saw an eagle swoop down and carry off a newborn fawn. Another was about a flying moose: he claimed that once in Maine he saw a bull moose charge a train, and the collision propelled the moose into the air in a parabolic arc to a height of 80 feet and a horizontal distance of some 300 feet. One of his most dubious animal stories was his claim of a muskellunge grabbing an adult Canada goose by a foot and dragging it the length of a large pond until it was pulled under water and drowned. He even claimed that during one bitter winter while he was working on his Masters’ degree, Lake Erie froze over completely. After he finished his final first-semester exams, he and a friend got drunk and decided to drive across the lake in his 1951 Mercury sedan. When they got to the Canadian side about 4 AM they were greeted by Ontario police, who detained them until 3PM that afternoon and had them escorted all the way to Windsor, Ontario so they would not be tempted to go back across the lake. They didn’t get back to Cleveland until 3 PM the following day. Pfeiffer Phoenix 43
There was nearly always at least an element of truth in the stories. Moose have been known to charge trains, but in the few known cases they were merely knocked to the side. Muskellunge, or muskies, are carnivorous fish that have been known to eat young waterfowl, but a fully grown goose is something else. People have been known to drive out on the Great Lakes when the lakes were frozen, and Lake Erie does become entirely frozen over about once each decade; however, it’s probably not enough to hold up the weight of an automobile. Although Dodge said that he had a newspaper clipping of his apprehension, he was never able to produce the clipping. Dodge’s most believable tale concerned his own father Ellis Elder. Ellis loved cornbread but insisted it be made from freshly-picked corn. Store-bought cornmeal, he claimed, was made from what he called “dead corn.” Dodge went each week with his mother to a local mill that jutted out into a stream so clear that he could see catfish swimming around. There were usually fisherfolk on the other side angling the fish. The mill was always busy, and Dodge marveled at the 19th century mill and its beautiful finely-grained floorboards. People waiting in line could pet two handsome marmalade tomcats that flanked the checkout desk, one on each side. Dodge said that he didn’t understand the significance of the cats at the time. Sometimes, Dodge would go into the milling room, where patrons and their children could watch the millstones at work grinding the corn. At any rate, Dodge and his mother would make the trip faithfully each week until shortly Pfeiffer Phoenix 44
after Dodgeâ€™s 12th birthday his father died. Dodge and his mother visited the mill sporadically after that, but since nobody else in the household was a great fan of cornbread, she eventually quit going. Within two years, the mill had closed. During the next three years, Dodge would often dream about going down to the old mill to snoop around. Sometimes in the dream there would still be customers inside, and at other times there would be a watchman who would chase after him and threaten to have him sent to reform school for trespassing. Then one day at age 17, Dodge and two of his friends were in the woods picking blueberries when they got lost. After walking for an hour in the woods, they came to a stream. They followed the stream for about 15 minutes when they came to a clearing. Not 500 feet ahead was the old grist mill. As the three approached the building, Dodge sensed a flurry of activity inside. His mind went back half a decade as he imagined entering to see customers buying cornmeal and petting the tomcats. The door to the old mill was open, so the trio went inside to find that the activity was not the result of the ghosts of customers past. Instead, the old mill was overrun with mice! There were mice in the sales and storage rooms and even more mice in the milling room. That was why the owners kept the two cats in the mill while it was in operation. There were still unopened bags of corn in the milling room and kernels of corn stuck between floorboards. Some of the bags had already been gnawed open, and all of that corn attracted rodents. Dodge chased after Pfeiffer Phoenix 45
one of the mice only to see it suddenly disappear in front of him. He investigated and found that the mouse had fallen through a hole made when a knot in the floorboard had come loose. He looked down just in time to see a catfish grab the swimming mouse and submerge with it. Dodge looked back to see an incredible sight: some 25 mice seemed to be staring at him as if they dared him to chase after them. He looked back through the knothole to see something just as odd: a slew of catfish swimming below the hole, perhaps attracted by the first fishâ€™s prize, as if they were all waiting to be fed. Dodge and his two buddies decided to see how many of the mice they could chase through the knothole and into the drink. The two friends kept the mice away from the doors, but Dodge was unable to direct any of them toward the knothole. The mice seemed to sense that one of their kind perished there, so they avoided that part of the room. After keeping up this game for some 30 minutes, one of Dodgeâ€™s friends became impatient and whacked one of the mice with a board he found outside. Dodge picked up the dazed mouse by the tail and dropped it through the hole for another waiting catfish. The three boys spent another half hour chasing and hitting mice with boards until they had fed 18 more of the mice to the fish. By this time, the remaining mice had retreated out the doors and into the fields adjacent the mill, with the exception of one hapless mouse that ran into the road in front of the mill and got run over by a car. Pfeiffer Phoenix 46
The catfish, however, remained in place. Dodge took his penknife and pried up several kernels of corn. He dropped them one at a time into the water, but the fish ignored the corn, which slowly fell to the bottom of the stream. After five minutes the fish swam away, apparently realizing that there would be no more falling mice, at least that day. The three decided it was time to leave, but Dodge decided he wanted a souvenir. After looking around for ten minutes, he discovered an old large porcelain sign that read â€œBaker Bros. Roller Millsâ€? just inside the front door. This he took home and hid in the crawl space adjacent to the half-basement in his house. Years later after his mother died, Dodge went back to her house to clean out her possessions, and he found the old mill sign he had hidden many years before. The old mill is gone now, destroyed after it caught fire in what was thought, but never proven, to be arson. Dodge was home at the time, and against his motherâ€™s wishes he went to watch the fire. He became almost mesmerized by it, and he seemed to hear squeaking above the crackle of the flames. Shortly after that, the stream was diverted and townhouses built over the entire area. As Dodge contemplated the sign he had hidden, his mind went back to the fire and the squeaking he had heard. It must have been the souls of those poor mice he fed to the fish! - Dr. John Grovesnor Pfeiffer Phoenix 47
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Published on Mar 27, 2012