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“January 24, 1951

“Dear Mr. President,

“How are you today? Fine I hope. I know you are wondering who is writing you. Well, I am a 15 year old Negro 10th Grade school girl. I am speaking for our History class since we are interested in the News and World Affairs….

“Every time war starts, members of the opposite race start talking about freedom. I am living in a town [Greensboro] where we have no freedom….

“Sincerely yours,

“Arlene Williamson”

— From “Dear Harry: Truman’s Mailroom, 1945-1953” by D. M. Giangreco and Kathryn Moore (1999)

 

“[Buckminster] Fuller’s most prominent invention originated at North Carolina’s Black Mountain College. Fuller arrived there in 1948 as a visiting architecture professor with an Airstream trailer full of geometrical models. Under Fuller’s supervision, students first tried to build a structure using venetian blind slats as trusses held in place via tension. It collapsed.

Kenneth Snelson was one of the Black Mountain students mesmerized by Fuller’s blend of design and futurism. Over the winter of 1948–49, Snelson built models whose parts were secured by taut wires, the balance of tension providing structural stability. Snelson showed Fuller his model. By the summer of 1949, the school’s students, guided by Fuller, successfully built a geodesic dome using metal curtain rods purchased at the Woolworth’s in Asheville….

“Fuller began to refer to the engineering principle Snelson had used as ‘tensegrity’ — a clever portmanteau of ‘tension’ and ‘integrity.’ He later patented this design concept just as he did the geodesic dome itself. Snelson’s name appears in neither patent application. (Fuller’s intellectual property claims notwithstanding, Snelson went on to have a successful career as a sculptor. His ‘Needle Tower,’ a 60-foot-tall tensegrity piece, sits in front of the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington.)

“Examples of simultaneous invention litter the past. In this case, the truth likely lies somewhere between Fuller’s ready opportunism and Snelson’s years of protestations….”

The N&O’s David Menconi leaves few strings unfretted in this appreciation of MacArthur winner Rhiannon Giddens, but I can’t pass up an excuse to recall Giddens’s poignant acknowledgement of her North Carolina roots:

“I’m a mixed-race person, so I grew up exploring…. I knew there was Indian in the family, so I joined [a drumming group] in high school and explored that side of it.

“And you know, none of it felt quite right. Where I found my identity was when I realized that I’m from North Carolina. It’s not so much that I’m black or I’m white or I’m Indian or whatever. I’m Southern. And furthermore I’m a North Carolinian…. And it kind of eclipses the race stuff. It’s like this is who I am, this is where I come from…. ”

 

“Meacham called Dolley Madison the most important woman in political life for 25 years, the architect of our political culture. ‘Without her drawing rooms,’ he said. ‘lawmakers would not have talked to lawmakers.’ ”

— From a talk by Jon Meacham at Brevard College, reported by John Lanier in the Transylvania Times

Meacham, biographer of Andrew Jackson and Thomas Jefferson, said the Guilford County native will be his next subject.

 

“Although [‘The Birth of a Nation’] played only in larger cities, by one estimate 90 percent of Southerners had seen the film by 1930….The Charlotte Observer reported that the local theater had received mail and telephone orders from towns as far away as 75 miles….

“These audiences consumed the picture actively….In Asheville, the ‘large crowd experienced successive thrills, several people becoming excited almost to the point of hysteria….’ ”

— From Lynching and Spectacle: Witnessing Racial Violence in America, 1890-1940″ by Amy Louise Wood (2011)

 

A Late Fall Salad with Jerusalem Artichokes from The country gourmet cookbook.

Emmett’s Harvest Ball Pumpkin Bars from Aunt Bee’s delightful desserts.

Fall Fruit Salad from The clock watcher’s cook book.

Pumpkin Chips from Mountain makin’s in the Smokies : a cook book.

Hamburger Harvest  Casserole from Favorite recipes of the Carolinas : meats edition, including poultry and seafood.

Pumpkin-Chocolate Chip Cake from Count our blessings : 75 years of recipes and memories / Myers Park Presbyterian Church.

Autumn Vegetable Frittata from North Carolina bed & breakfast cookbook.

"Whitewater Falls in Autumn," post card published by W. M. Cline Co., Chattanooga, Tenn., date unknown.

“Whitewater Falls in Autumn,” post card published by W. M. Cline Co., Chattanooga, Tenn., date unknown.

Looking to go leafing this autumn but cannot decide where to travel?  Why not search for locations in the online collection of North Carolina post cards, then seek out some then an now photographs?  After all, Governor Roy Cooper has declared October to be “Photography Month!”

“The existence of a successful jazz club in [Thelonious] Monk’s home state in May 1970 was an anomaly. Woodstock (August 1969) marked the era….Jazz clubs were closing in bigger cities across the country while Raleigh, with a population of 120,000, wrestled with integration. But Peter Ingram — a scientist from England recruited to work in the newly formed Research  Triangle Park — opened the Frog and Nightgown, a jazz club, in 1968 and his wife Robin managed it. Don Dixon, a house bassist at the club who later gained fame as co-producer of REM’s first album, Murmur, says ‘It took a native Brit like Peter to not know that a jazz club wouldn’t work in 1968.’

“The Frog, as it was known, thrived in a small, red-brick shopping center nestled in a residential neighborhood lined with 19th century oak trees. Surrounded by a barber shop, a laundry mat, a convenience store and a service station, the Frog often attracted large crowds; lines frequently wrapped around the corner. Patrons brown-bagged their alcohol (the Frog sold food, ice and mixers), bought cigarettes from machines, and some smoked joints in the parking lot….Due to its mixed clientele, the club came under threat of the Ku Klux Klan, but Ingram never blinked, and the Frog held on, exceeding all odds….”

— From “Thelonious Monk: Is This Home?” by Sam Stephenson in the Oxford American (Fall 2007)

Biographer Robin D. G. Kelley provides a well-detailed account of Monk’s 10-day gig at the Frog and Nightgown — his last visit to North Carolina before his death 12 years later.

 

I never met Hugh Hefner, but in 1979 I interviewed Derick Daniels, the Raleigh newspaper scion tapped by Hefner to shape up sloppily-run Playboy Enterprises.

“Hefner — the vicarious experience — is our most important promotional product,” Daniels told me in his Chicago office.  “It’s a helluva lot more productive than taking out ads in the Wall Street Journal touting ourselves. But I couldn’t stand the lack of privacy that goes with having your life promoted that way….

“I don’t want to be Hugh Hefner, just Derick Daniels.”

Being “just Derick,” however, wasn’t exactly a commitment to the piety so prominently espoused by his grandfather Josephus. When Derick Daniels died in 2005, at age 76, Frank Daniels Jr. recalled that his cousin had been attracted to Playboy “because it had the three things in the world he enjoyed the most: drinking, gambling and women. You scored pretty well with all three with Playboy.”

 

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.

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