“Perhaps [no populist politician in the South and West] used barbecue more effectively than Eugene Talmadge, who served three terms as governor of Georgia….
“In 1932 he kicked off his first campaign with a rally in his hometown of McRae. Local farmers donated over 10,000 pounds of pigs and goats, and they were cooked over a shallow pit by Norman Graham, the ‘Barbecue King of Telfair County’…. Talmadge staged similar barbecues in most of Georgia’s rural counties. ‘We didn’t carry any counties with streetcars running in them,’ he later noted, but he won the election handily.
“During Talmadge’s reelection bids, ‘the Tree-Climbing Haggards of Danielsville’ became a regular part of the barbecues. The elder Haggard and his eight sons dressed like Gene Talmadge in black suits, wide-brimmed hats and red suspenders. They climbed to the top of tall pine trees around the barbecue grove and shouted down scripted cues like, ‘Tell us about the schoolteachers, Gene!’ and ‘Tell us about the old folks!’
“One afternoon a Haggard boy ate a little too much barbecue at the previous campaign stop and dozed off. He tumbled through the pine branches to the ground, bringing Talmadge’s speech to a crashing halt and demonstrating the perils of too much political barbecue.”
– From “Eugene Talmadge and the Art of Political Barbecue” by Robert Moss (southernfoodways.blogspot.com, Sept. 11)
Of course, North Carolina has its own history of “the perils of too much political barbecue” – or at least the perils of complaining about it.
Posted in Just A Bite | Tagged barbecue, eugene talmadge, georgia politics, robert moss, tree-climbing haggards | Leave a Comment »
“In the important town of Charlotte, North Carolina, I found a white man who owned the comfortable house in which he lived, who had a wife and three half-grown children, and yet had never taken a newspaper in his life. He thought they were handy for wrapping purposes, but he couldn’t see why anybody wanted to bother with the reading of them. He knew some folks spent money for them, but he also knew a-many houses where none had ever been seen….
“I found several persons — whites, and not of the ‘clay-eater’ class, either — who never had been inside a school-house, and who didn’t mean to ‘low their children to go inside one.”
– From “Three Months Among the Reconstructionists” by correspondent Sidney Andrews in The Atlantic (February 1866)
About that “clay-eater” reference: In 1866, a dispatch in The New York Times described “the notorious clay-eaters [as] the lowest representatives of the United States … little more than mere animals … strange, undeveloped [and] repulsive…. For the most part, however, they are long-lived and rarely ill, realizing the old notion that dirt is extremely healthy.”
By 1984 the Times was regarding the practice less with disgust than with clinical curiosity.
Posted in Just A Bite | Tagged charlotte nc, clay eating, nc reconstruction, sidney andrews, the atlantic monthly | Leave a Comment »
“Correction: An earlier version of this column misstated the title of a 1960s television series named for its star. It was ‘The Andy Griffith Show,’ not ‘The Andy Griffin Show.’ ”
– From “Recalling TV’s Golden Age, Stars Pitch Products Tied to Their Shows” in the New York Times (Dec. 5)
Posted in Just A Bite | Tagged the andy griffith show, the new york times | Leave a Comment »
“I’m an editor at The Duke Chronicle, and I received a request from a researcher at the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Journalism to fill out a survey designed to ‘identify attitudes toward the implementation of monetization of mobile media products.’ Pretty standard stuff in media research these days. But here’s the punch line: it came in the mail — snail mail.
“This isn’t just a Blue Devil looking to rat out a Tar Heel. I just can’t believe that in 2013 someone would mail a survey to college students, let alone a survey about digital media!”
– From Lauren Carroll’s letter to jimromenesko.com (Dec. 4)
Posted in Just A Bite | Tagged digital media, duke chronicle, jim romenesko, lauren carroll, unc school of journalism | Leave a Comment »
The Napoleon death mask in the North Carolina Collection Gallery, described by Nicholas Graham as “what must be the Gallery’s most unexpected holding,” is rare indeed but not unique. In fact, the recent sale of a similar mask and its proposed export from England are causing a minor international incident.
Interviewed in June by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette — Pittsburgh has its own Napoleon mask — former Gallery keeper Neil Fulghum compounded the controversy by expressing doubts about the provenance of the mask sold in England.
If that Napoleonic issue is ever settled, perhaps we can concentrate on the origins of “Able Was I Ere I Saw Elba.”
Posted in Tar Heelia | Tagged able was i ere i saw elba, napoleon death mask, neil fulghum, north carolina gallery, palindromes | Leave a Comment »
“Beginning in the nineteen-thirties, fans thronged Philadelphia’s Municipal Stadium for the Army-Navy football game…. The game was frequently held on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, and just as visiting fans were showing up the day before, holiday shoppers also would descend on downtown…. The cops nicknamed the day of gridlock Black Friday, and soon others started to do the same….
“Retailers worried the phrase would scare people away….. A few decades later, when the term came to describe a day when retailers’ ledgers shifted ‘into the black’ for the year — a connotation also pushed by marketers — people assumed that had always been the connotation.
“That idea never made sense to Bonnie Taylor-Blake, a neuroscience researcher at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an amateur etymologist. ‘Since when was “Black Friday” ever used in a positive manner?’ she wrote in an e-mail. She searched for the earliest uses of the phrase, finally landing on [the Philadelphia] reference, a discovery Taylor-Blake reported to the listserv of the American Dialect Society….
“Puncturing the myths surrounding Christmas, even cynically manufactured ones, can make a person feel like the Grinch, but Taylor-Blake hasn’t suffered. ‘I’m fortunate that family, friends, and co-workers I’ve shared this story with are, like me, skeptical at heart,’ she said. She doesn’t care much for shopping; on Black Friday, she plans to stay home.”
– From “”Everything You Know about Black Friday is Wrong” by Amy Merrick in the New Yorker (Nov. 28)
Posted in Just A Bite | Tagged amy merrick, black friday, bonnie taylor-blake, the new yorker, unc chapel hill | Leave a Comment »
“Thomas Hart Benton… counterposed the truth of his art against the lies of advertising in an account of his dispute with the American Tobacco Company in 1943.
“The company, pioneering what has become a standard business practice, sought to counteract its federal conviction for price-fixing by hiring N.W. Ayer to surround it with ‘jes’ folks’ imagery. Benton was a natural choice for the assignment: His work was accessible but carried connotations of high-art legitimacy. Yet when Benton was sent to the hills of south Georgia, and painted what the saw — black people harvesting tobacco — the agency executives complained: ‘The Negro institutions would boycott our products and cost us thousands of dollars if we showed pictures of this sort. They want Negroes presented as well-dressed and respectable members of society. If we did this, of course, then the whole of the white South would boycott us. So the only thing to do is to avoid the representation of Negroes entirely in advertising.’
“So Benton went to North Carolina ‘where the hillbillies handle tobacco’ and produced a picture of an old man and his granddaughter; the agency thought it was fine but that the girl was too skinny. ‘ “Everything about tobacco must look healthy,” the advertising people declared….’ ”
– From “Fables of Abundance: A Cultural History of Advertising in America” by Jackson Lears (1995)
Posted in Just A Bite | Tagged american tobacco co, fables of abundance, jackson lears, n w ayer, thomas hart benton, tobacco advertising | Leave a Comment »
Fifty years ago today — the day after Oswald killed Kennedy, the day before Ruby killed Oswald — a telephone call may have been attempted from the Dallas jail to a number in Raleigh. Regardless, no call went through.
This lengthy and evenhanded account of the episode appeared in the News & Observer in 1980, but what has become known to the conspiracy community as “the Raleigh Call” continues to defy convincing explanation.
Posted in On This Day | Tagged jfk assassination, lee harvey oswald, pat stith, raleigh call, raleigh nc | Leave a Comment »