“Blowing Rock was a summer resort, and a rather posh one. Lured by the area’s beauty and cool summer air, wealthy families from throughout the Southeast maintained summer residences there. The Cannon textile barons had a huge estate, as did the R. J. Reynolds tobacco clan, and the Coca-Cola Snyders* from down in muggy Atlanta. Beginning in early June, our sidewalks sported pedestrians in tennis whites and gold jewelry, our streets opened their asphalt arms to European sports cars and luxury sedans. There were boutiques with flagship stores in West Palm Beach and Boca Raton, a produce stand that displayed fruits (avocados, papayas, yellow plums) that no hillbilly could identify let along afford; and then there as the movie theater that showed first-run films as soon as they opened in Los Angeles and New York — until Labor Day Tuesday, that is, when it went as dark as the Tomb of the Unknown Gaffer.
“It was an annual occurrence. Come June, the merry masquerade began; come September, Appalachian reality settled upon the community with a mournful sigh. The shops were shuttered, golf courses deserted, the last fancy auto went Cadillacking down the mountain and out of town. Even the Lois XVI colors of the autumn leaves failed to paint over the detail that many residents would have to survive for nine months on what they’d earned in three. There would now be fatback suppers, rotgut hangovers, malnourished kids, flour-sack fashions, occasional stabbings; and always outbreaks of measles, whooping cough, scabies and head lice. And then… and then June would jack out of its box and life would get healthy and merry again.”
– From “Tibetan Peach Pie: A True Account of an Imaginative Life” by Tom Robbins (2014)
Robbins, who was born in Blowing Rock in 1932, is best known for novels such as “Another Roadside Attraction” and “Even Cowgirls Get the Blues.”
* J. Luther Snyder, who moved from Atlanta to Charlotte to open the Carolinas’ first Coca-Cola bottling plant, developed the Chetola Estate in Blowing Rock.
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Cora Corpening with Second Year Medical Class, 1916 Yackety Yack
The Class of 2018 began its studies at the UNC School of Medicine earlier this month. The class of 180 doctors-to-be is 48 percent female. That’s a far cry from 100 years ago, when Cora Corpening became UNC-CH’s first female med student. According to Gladys Hall Coates’ Seventy-fifth anniversary of the coming of women to the University of North Carolina, the student body voted against admitting her to the school. But Corpening attended classes anyway. And after about a month, she was formally admitted. According to a profile of the Corpening family in the July 17, 1940 edition of The Robesonian, Corpening finished the two-year program at UNC in spring of 1916 and then completed her medical studies at Tulane University, where she was one of the top students. “After completing her medical course, she located at Suffolk, Va. and did the work formerly done by eight physicians during World war times,” The Robesonian reported. After serving at Lakeview Hospital in Suffolk, Corpening moved to Virginia Beach, where she worked in private practice. She died in 1984.
The Tar Heel, October 1, 1914
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“Asheville’s first drive-in was Buck’s Restaurant, founded by John ‘Buck’ Buchanan in 1946….
“The next drive-in to come to Tunnel Road was Wink’s, which had a radio tower and disk jockey perched on the roof during peak cruising hours. The DJ, writes [Rick McDaniel, author of Asheville Food: A History of High Country Cuisine], ‘would lower a peach basket on a rope down to would-be Romeos, who would send up their requests for songs to be dedicated over the air to their sweeties below’….
“On the other side of the Tunnel was the third drive-in, Babe Malloy’s. ‘The Big Three’ created somewhat of a ‘cruising circuit,’ said McDaniel. ‘All the kids made a loop around the three to see who was at which one.
” ‘The Big Three lasted from the 1950s to about 1975. Back then, you didn’t have a McDonald’s every 5 feet…. Eventually all of the fast food places started popping up, and it drove the traditional drive-ins out of business because of advertising — kids wanted to eat what they saw on TV.”
– From “The history of the Asheville burger” by
Posted in Just A Bite | Tagged asheville food, asheville nc, drive-in restaurants, mcdonalds, rick mcdaniel | 2 Comments »
On this day in 1955: Over statewide radio and television, Gov. Luther Hodges gives North Carolina’s response to the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education decision.
Hodges argues that the Supreme Court has outlawed only forced segregation of schools and asks that blacks now send their children to black schools voluntarily. If they don’t, he warns, the state might abandon public education altogether.
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“I love that you said ‘Scotch-Irish’ instead of this new term ‘Scots-Irish’ that you hear….”
– D.G. Martin, interviewing Walt Wolfram on “North Carolina Bookwatch” (May 18)
I was surprised to hear “Scots-Irish” described as the newer usage, but sure enough….
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Tabitha Anne Holton was a 22-year-old woman who became North Carolina’s first female attorney after successfully passing the bar examination, alongside her brother, Samuel Melanchthon Holton, in 1878. Her success was published in both Northern and Southern newspapers and drew a variety of comments, including some about her appearance. She practiced with her brother in Yadkinville and conducted research for their firm. Tabitha Holton died of tuberculosis in 1886. She is buried at the Springfield Friends Church in High Point, North Carolina.
The following images are pulled from newspapers on Chronicling America:
The Charlotte Democrat. (Charlotte, N.C.), 11 Jan. 1878. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.
Memphis daily appeal. (Memphis, Tenn.), 26 Jan. 1878. Chronicling America: Historic
The progressive farmer. (Winston, N.C.), 23 June 1886. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.
Posted in From the Stacks, History, NC Historic Newspapers, Tar Heelia, Tar Talk | Tagged Chronicling America, guilford county, History, lawyer, NC historic newspapers, nc supreme court, NDNP, Tabita Anne Holton, women | Leave a Comment »
On this day in 1935: Just days after Sen. Josiah Bailey of North Carolina helped filibuster to death a federal anti-lynching bill, a black man is lynched in Franklin County.
The lynch mob — unmasked and in full daylight — takes Govan “Sweat” Ward from the custody of Sheriff John Moore and two deputies and hangs him from a scrub oak with a cotton plow line. Ward, 25 years old, was accused of decapitating a white farmer with an axe.
The sheriff will claim later that he recognized none of the two dozen lynchers and failed to note the license number of the car that carried away his prisoner (“I wish we had,” he says).
In spite of Gov. J.C. Ehringhaus’s calls for action, Ward’s murderers will remain anonymous. About 100 lynching deaths occurred in North Carolina after 1882; Ward’s will be the last in which the killers go unpunished.
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Oh, c’mon now — you know you can’t resist clicking on “1935-2013 Map of North Carolina’s Confirmed Unprovoked Shark Attacks.”
That link comes via a New York Times account of how Cape Cod merchants have cannily alchemized shark fear. And of course the Times can’t pass up the opportunity to recall Mayor Vaughn’s classic line in “Jaws”: “You yell ‘Shark!’ we’ve got a panic on our hands on the Fourth of July.” (If “Jaws” were being remade yet again, this time on the North Carolina coast, the mayor no doubt would declare “You yell ‘rising sea level!’ we’ve got a panic….’)
And whom did Steven Spielberg cast as the “Jaws” mayor? Why none other than North Carolina’s Murray Hamilton, who both was born and died in coastal (Little) Washington. Hamilton’s lengthy character-acting credits also provide the answer to the eternal headscratcher “Who played Mr. Robinson?”
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“Players [in 1960] found in these small Carolina cities what they were wont to find. New Yorkers first found them oppressive, too tranquil, and lamented their inaccessibility to Coney Island….
“Drive-in restaurants where one could get a a variety of sandwiches and beer abounded in this era predating most national fast-food chains. The downtowns all had small cafes, some of them run by snuff-dipping, middle-aged women who looked after a regular clientele but doted on the local ballplayers as well….
“Some store owners offered prizes to players who excelled. A four-hit night, a key home run, a well-pitched game, could bring a new shirt, a couple pairs of underwear, some fancy new shoes…..
“The civil rights movement had not yet gained ground in the Western Carolina League cities…..Black players roomed in homes in the black section of town and seldom associated with white players off the field.”
– From “The Continental League: A Personal History” by Russell D. Buhite (2014)
The Western Carolina League was constructed to provide players for the Continental League, Branch Rickey‘s unsuccessful attempt at forming a third major league. It comprised Gastonia, Hickory, Lexington, Newton-Conover, Salisbury, Shelby, Statesville and Rutherford County (Forest City).
Author Buhite, now professor emeritus of history at Missouri University of Science and Technology, played for the Rutherford County Owls before retiring to academia.
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