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Archive for August, 2010

On this day in 1886: The Charleston earthquake, the most destructive ever recorded in the eastern United States, leaves its mark on North Carolina. Buildings throughout the Piedmont shake and sway. At Swannanoa a railroad tunnel caves in. Gold mines in Cabarrus County collapse, but miners escape injury because the quake hits between the day […]

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Nothing like a “ghost train” fatality to cast the international spotlight, however fleeting, on our vale of humility. But the immediate aftermath of the Aug. 27, 1891, disaster at Bostian Bridge (hat tip to gendisasters.com) was perhaps as curious as last week’s deadly pursuit of paranormality. An Iredell County  grand jury spread the blame among […]

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– Vietnamese-American writer sets latest novel in Boiling Springs, peoples it with Virginia Dare, Wright Brothers and slave poet George Moses Horton. – Fog of war hinders recount of state’s Confederate dead. – Student paper at N.C. State emphasizes importance of campus history, such as  “old rumors that our rivalry with UNC-Chapel Hill started when […]

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A revival of attention to “The Negro Motorist Green Book: An International Travel Guide” (1936-1964) roused my curiosity about what places in North Carolina welcomed black travelers under Jim Crow. It isn’t long, but the list in the 1949 edition includes some evocative names: the Carver, Lincoln and Booker T. Washington hotels; the Friendly City […]

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Today was “Montford Point Marines Day,” and according to the Jacksonville (N.C) Daily News, around 20 original “Montford Pointers” returned to celebrate the anniversary. Montford Point was a segregated training facility for African American Marines at Camp Lejeune. Starting on August 26, 1942, and ending in 1949, over 20,000 soldiers trained at the camp. You […]

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It’s the first day of classes for children in North Carolina public schools. And, as students return to the books, some will find themselves discussing the origins of humans. The word evolution will eventually make its way into the dialogue. No doubt some parent or child from Murphy to Manteo will find the topic doesn’t […]

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“At the Asheville, N.C., City College last fortnight Dean Henry Dexter Learned gave students, including girls, permission to smoke in the college building between classes. An outraged Board of Education planned to oust Dr. Learned…. The Dean calmly explained: ‘If nobody smoked cigarets what would happen to the public school system of North Carolina? This […]

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– Before you pocket that arrowhead…. ….maybe you’ve found the vanished village of Secotan! — Inspired by Bill Ferris, he mined the obits for Southern nicknames that deserve eternal life.  (Unfortunately absent online is the full list that appeared in print.)

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In addition to Mexico, why did you choose Asheville, North Carolina as a main location for this story? “In the early months as I laid out the plot, I cast around for a setting for the U.S. portion of my story: a medium-sized city within a day’s drive of Washington, whose history I could research […]

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“[On being introduced to Ernest Hemingway at his home in Cuba in 1955] I was eager to steer the conversation around to Miss Redmon’s class in American literature at the University of North Carolina. I had always been a bit skeptical of her ability to see into the minds of authors and extract hidden meanings […]

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