On this day in 1906: “Cork life vests began to wash shore between Cape Hatteras and Kinnakeet. During a two-week period, over 400 made their way to Hatteras beaches….  Those that were identified bore the markings ‘Caswitz Rettunysyurcer, G.R.P.’ ‘Sealanan’ and ‘Smeskf.’ Along with the life vests, pieces of unmarked wreckage also washed ashore 3 miles to the north.

“Surfmen believed that because the life preservers washed up in such a short stretch of beach, and because of the large number of life vests, that had a wreck occurred it was most like a passenger ship close to shore. No maritime records corresponded with the names of the life preservers, and because no other traces of a wreck washed ashore, the incident remained a mystery.”

From “On This Day in Outer Banks History” by Sarah Downing (2014)

What puzzling names (?) on the life vests — even Google seems stumped….


“It never ceases to amaze me the number of people in this day and age who still approve of holding onto these things [human remains such as Nat Turner’s skull].

“Several years ago, in my decently liberal large Southern city, there was an article about one of these depicted as a ‘human interest’ piece. Apparently in the early 1900s a young Italian-American circus worker died here and there was no knowledge of who his family was. So someone kept his skull in their family and named him ‘Spaghetti.’ This was portrayed as cute and funny, which as an Italian-American (and frankly, fellow human) I don’t find it at all. Rather than getting the Catholic burial that I am certain his family would have wanted, he’s sitting on someone’s desk and called a stereotypical name. Yet even in this century there are enough people who think this is OK that they publish in the newspaper? Unbelievable….”

The details of Consetto Formico’s life, death and postmortem journey are complicated and sometimes conflicting, as Bridget Madden noted in “Laurinburg’s Modern Mummy.” 


Excuse our immodesty, but surely Bob Dylan’s appearances over the years in North Carolina Miscellany played a small part in bringing him to the attention of the Swedish Academy:

— On his view of Billy Graham as a rock ‘n’ roll model

— On his performance in Charlotte during Watergate

— On his debt to Thomas Wolfe

— On his visits to Carl Sandburg and from Bland Simpson

If only he could’ve waited for Love Valley before going electric….


It’s fall y’all and that means pumpkins are everywhere.  So visit a patch, a store, or your closest pumpkin retailer, pick one out and get to cooking.


Pumpkin Soup from The country gourmet cookbook.


Fried Pumpkin Seeds from A Taste of the old and the new.


Spicy Pumpkin Cookies from The Pantry shelf : 1907-1982.


High Jumpin’ Pumpkin Bread from Hornets homecooking : favorite family recipes from the Charlotte Hornets players, coaches, staff and special fans.


Pumpking Pound Cake from What’s cook’n at Biltmore.


Flyer for Dr. Ralph Mcdonald

Ralph McDonald ran against Clyde Hoey in the Democratic primaries in 1936.

Election day is a mere 27 days away, so the robocalls should be interrupting your evening meals and the postcards and fliers will be filling your mailboxes. We, in the North Carolina Collection, can’t help make your evenings more peaceful. But we can relieve you of some of the clutter. As with elections past, we’re eager to collect campaign flyers, postcards and fundraising letters. Our collection of campaign ephemera now includes more than 5000 items and dates back to the 1800s. And we’re eager to keep it growing. We want to document campaigns across the state and at all levelsᾹlegislative, judicial, Council of State, Congressional and Presidential. That’s hard to do from our spot here in the Triangle. Please help us. Hold on to those mailers, flyers and voter guides. Then when you can stomach the clutter no more, send them our way. The address is:

John Blythe
Assistant Curator
P.O. Box 8890
Wilson Library, CB#3930
Chapel Hill, NC 27515-8890

One final note. We like knowing about the yard signs, particularly ones that strike you as unique. Unfortunately, they take up significant space and it’s hard for us to store them. Before you send us the actual sign, would you mind taking a photo of it and emailing the file to us as an attachment? The address is blythej@email.unc.edu Please remember to tell us where and when you spotted it.

Thanks for helping us document North Carolina politics.

“By 1987 Reagan found his control over Congress slipping….The Democratic majority in the House easily overrode his veto [of what would be the last interstate highway authorization], and the Senate did the same by a single vote.

“A hapless freshman senator from North Carolina [Terry Sanford] , who had opposed the bill because there wasn’t enough pork for his state, switched his vote after a phalanx of senators threatened to kill federal subsidies for tobacco farmers.

“In a curious way, then, those subsidies enabled Boston to transform its landscape with the most expensive interstate highway project in history [to be nicknamed the Big Dig].

— From Divided Highways: Building the Interstate Highways, Transforming American Life” by Tom Lewis (2013)


“My friend does some work for ShopBot Tools in nearby Durham, N.C. He recently let me borrow a HandiBot CNC tool.

“One of the first things I did with it was cut out a small etching of North Carolina and its 100 counties….”

— From “A Wooden Map of North Carolina”  by Michael Fogleman at medium.com (June 23, 2015)

The handsome outcome, illustrated step by step, is 80 inches wide, 30 inches tall and weighs 50 pounds.


“One day in the early 1960s, when drinking from the ‘Whites Only’ water fountain on the factory floor [in Taylorsville, my husband, Mike Claman] had had enough of it. He tore off the signs. He then went to the ladies’ and men’s bathrooms and tore off the signs there, announcing that there would be no more segregation within the plant.

“The outcry was horrendous, with delegations marching into Mike’s office. He politely informed the workers that if they did not want to drink the same water, from the same fountains, they could go thirsty; if they did not choose to use common facilities, they would have to wait until they went home….”

— From North Carolina Ends Factory Desegregation—with Backlash” by Edith Claman at Moment magazine



Candies and Confections from The Progressive farmer’s southern cookbook.


Reba Bowen’s Molasses Pull Taffy from Columbus County cookbook II.


Cream Candy from Cook book.


Caramel Layer Chocolate Squares from The Pantry shelf : 1907-1982.


Ladyfinger Dessert from Count our blessings : 75 years of recipes and memories / Myers Park Presbyterian Church.


Chocolate Souffle with Chocolate Sauce and Whipped Cream from The Fearrington House cookbook : a celebration of food, flowers, and herbs.


Congo Bars from Favorite recipes : Blowing Rock.

“The most famous ghost that is said to haunt the shores of North Carolina and pop culture in equal measures is the spirit of Virginia Dare… the New World’s first Christian ‘wild child.’ The sweet babe likely never survived infancy, but her name is immortal.

“She has been the subject of numerous romance and supernatural novels, including the rather cringe-inducing 1908 book ‘The Daughter of Virginia Dare,’ where Virginia is revealed to be the secret mother of Pocahontas (a later 1930 novel would in contrast place Virginia in a love triangle with John Smith and the teenage Pocahontas)….”

— From “Roanoke: The Real History of the Lost Colony & How Its Legend Haunts Pop Culture” by David Crow at Den of Geek (Sept. 20)

Indeed,  “American Horror Story: Roanoke” is only the latest modern knockoff of the Lost Colony story. What would “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” have been without it?


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