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“….Just down Atlantic Avenue, a narrow four-block-long road from Kure (pronounced “Cure-ee”) Beach Fishing Pier, an old seaside cottage bears witness to a time when things weren’t all sunshine and Cheerwine along the Carolina coast. It was here on a July night in 1943 that a German U-Boat supposedly surfaced and fired shots at a factory complex located a half-mile off shore. If the incident actually occurred—and many believe it didn’t—it would have been the only time the East Coast of the United States was attacked during the Second World War….”

— From “Did a Nazi Submarine Attack a Chemical Plant in North Carolina?” by John Hanc in the Smithsonian (Aug. 2)

Yet more U-boat lore.

 

“September 17, 1981

“Raleigh

“I’ve had it with Briggs Hardware. Again today when they asked what I was looking for, I was at a loss to tell them. ‘Something wooden,’ I’ve told them in the past. ‘Something shiny.’

“I don’t want a tool to do something with; I just want something to draw. In the toy department I asked to look at one of their jack-in-the-boxes. The saleswoman got snippy when I didn’t want to buy it, and when I reached for my knapsack and said I could explain, she said, ‘I don’t want to see none of your old mess.’

“I turned to leave and saw all the employees standing at the front counter talking about me. They think they’re hot stuff because the store was pictured in National Geographic.”

— From “Theft by Finding: Diaries (1977-2002)” by David Sedaris (2017)

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“[The documentary] ‘Rumble’ takes its name from a seminal slice of rock ’n’ roll created by guitarist Link Wray, a Shawnee Indian from [Dunn] North Carolina. A 1958 hit, Rumble introduced the world to the ‘power chord.’ The song was banned in New York and Boston for fear that the mere sound of that amped-up guitar might incite riots. ‘Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck used to play air guitar to Rumble,’ [executive producer Stevie] Salas said. ‘But when I told Jeff that Link was Indian, his jaw dropped.’

” ‘When Link Wray was a boy, the grand wizard of the KKK made a deliberate attempt to go after indigenous people,’ [director Catherine ] Bainbridge said. ‘When his mom was 10 years old and walking to school, a bunch of white girls surrounded her and broke her back. She wore a brace for the rest of her life. That’s the violence Link came out of.’ ”

— From ” ‘Buried history’: unearthing the influence of Native Americans on rock ‘n’ roll” by Jim Farber in the Guardian (July 19)

David Menconi wants to know why Link Wray isn’t in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Me too!

 

On this day in 1861: L. P. Walker, Confederate secretary of war, approves purchase of an abandoned cotton mill at Salisbury for use as a prison for captured Union soldiers. To their later regret, the owners agree to take payment in Confederate bonds.

Before being closed four years later Salisbury prison will become notorious for its unhealthy and crowded conditions.

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From the Lew Powell Collection

This ticket to the Cleveland County Negro Fair, July’s Artifact of the Month, highlights a little known part of North Carolina history, African American agricultural fairs.

Agricultural fairs held by and for African Americans took place in North Carolina starting in Wilmington in 1875. The largest and best-known African American fair in the state was the Negro State Fair.  Organized by the North Carolina Industrial Association, the Negro State Fair was held annually in Raleigh beginning in 1879.  Charles Norfleet Hunter, a former slave, educator, and well-known activist, led the formation of the North Carolina Industrial Association.  He believed that in order to gain equal rights, African Americans must prove their worth to whites and highlight the value that black citizens contributed to the state and its economy.

Charles N. Hunter (ca. 1851-1931). Review of Negro Life in North Carolina with My Recollections. Raleigh, N.C.: C.N. Hunter, 1925.

The Negro State Fair was modeled on the North Carolina State Fair but was smaller in scale.  In 1890, the North Carolina Agricultural Society, which hosted the North Carolina State Fair, allowed use of its fairgrounds and facilities to the Negro State Fair and the state eventually allotted $500 in annual funding.  The North Carolina Industrial Association successfully ran the fair until 1930, three years after the state pulled its funding.

As legal segregation grew in the South in the 1890s and African Americans were excluded from attending many North Carolina fairs, African American fairs became increasingly important for their communities and provided a venue for African Americans to show their accomplishments and instill community pride.  Even after the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which made segregation illegal, some African American fairs continued.  The Cleveland County Negro Fair provides an example of this.  Founded in 1927, the Fair ran through at least 1966, the date of this ticket.

To learn more about the history of agricultural fairs in North Carolina, visit the North Carolina Collection Gallery’s current exhibition “Meet Me on the Midway: Three Centuries of Fairs in North Carolina” on display now through October 31, 2017.

“The summer of 1967 was one of discontent for Joe Namath….The fascination with his swingin’ lifestyle that had dominated in 1966 had given way to criticism….

“When he arrived in Charlotte for the Jets’ fourth exhibition game, Namath was not in much of mood to speak to anyone….

“That night Namath was a guest of the Charlotte Sportsman’s Club at a $500-a-ticket fundraiser. [He] arrived in a lace-front shirt with a pinch of chewing tobacco in his gums and steady line of tumblers of Scotch on his lips….He made an off-color remark about Auburn [and] spoke of the ‘indignities heaped upon him by the scurrilous New York press’….When approached for autographs by local kids, Namath signed, ‘Best wishes, J.W. Smith.’

“Houston Chronicle reporter Wells Twombly wrote that ‘Possibly the last Southern city to be so honored by a guest was Atlanta, which once had Gen. William T. Sherman banging on its gates.’ ”

— From Fun City: John Lindsay, Joe Namath, and How Sports Saved New York in the 1960s” by Sean Deveney (2015)

 

Several new titles just added to “New in the North Carolina Collection.” To see the full list simply click on the link in the entry or click on the “New in the North Carolina Collection” tab at the top of the page. As always, full citations for all the new titles can be found in the University Library Catalog and they are all available for use in the Wilson Special Collections Library.

In mid-1955, the Supreme Court set about identifying its own relocation facility [in the event of nuclear war] and sent clerk Harold Willey to hunt for a spot. Willey surveyed several properties in North Carolina and reported back that ‘Because all large cities are considered to be prospective enemy targets, a hotel in a secluded small city, wherein approximately one hundred people could both live and work, with spaces available for a court room and clerical offices, seems a most appropriate facility for the Court.’ Making the case for the 141-room Grove Park Inn, Willey added that ‘A golf course adjoins the Inn and the new owners … plan to build a swimming pool.’

“A brief contract was inked on April 3, 1956… and the Cold War history sleuths at CONELRAD dug up Grove Park’s copy in a hotel filing cabinet in 2013. Lacking a sunset clause, it remains legally binding to this day. Let’s hope it will never be invoked. ”

— From “The U.S. Supreme Court’s secret Cold War relocation facility in the mountains of North Carolina” in Atlas Obscura

 

This latest look back at the Love Valley rock festival of 1970 produces yet another string of vivid reminiscences, such as this one from Hillsborough lawyer Kenneth Rothrock:

I remember that big hill everyone was sitting on from bottom to top. It was so steep that people were all on little perches. If you moved wrong you might roll down on folks below you…. You got up the hill by people pulling you up. Someone would would extend an arm to you at the bottom, pull you a few feet up and pass your hand off to the next person sitting above them — a people-powered hand escalator, lol…. It was a great wild crazy experience. It changed me forever.”

Previous Miscellany coverage of “North Carolina’s would-be Woodstock”: here and here and here.

 

On this day in 1844: Mary Baker Eddy, future founder of the Christian Science church, leaves Wilmington to return to her family farm in New Hampshire following the death of her husband from yellow fever.

She and businessman George Washington Glover, married barely six months, had lived in Wilmington while he planned a construction project in Haiti.

 

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