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“Richard Nader, a concert promoter, recalls a story Berry told him about a show he had played in Fayetteville, North Carolina [in the 1950s].  After agreeing on a fee of $750, Berry made the 800-mile trip from St. Louis only to find a audience of 20 teenagers in a seedy ice-cream parlor. Berry played the show, only to be handed at the end of the night a fee of $1.75 and a list of expenses. ‘[The promoter] had everything down there,’  Nader recalled Berry saying, ‘down to the light bulbs.’

“It was a lesson that would shape Chuck Berry’s view of the music business from then on.”

– From “Brown Eyed Handsome Man: The Life and Hard Times of Chuck Berry” (2002) by Bruce Pegg

Chuck Berry died Saturday. He was 90.

 

“The North Carolina Collection at Pack Library [in Asheville] currently has over 3,650 postcards….

” ‘It’s unusual for a library of this size to have a postcard collection,’ says Terry Taylor, a member of The Friends of the North Carolina Room. ‘Some libraries have a few, but this library is making a concentrated effort to document the history of North Carolina. And it’s such a vivid history.’

“There’s a reason for local postcards’ prominence, Taylor notes: ‘That was a really popular thing from about 1905 to 1930. You could send your film to either a developer here in town or to Kodak and they would send you back prints that were on postcard stock, with a little stamp-marking on it.’ ”

— From “Greetings and salutations: A look at Asheville’s postcard history” by Thomas Calder in Mountain Xpress (March 10)

UNC’s North Carolina Collection is home to more than 15,000 postcards, about 8,000 of which were donated by the late Durwood Barber.

 

It’s 3/14 that means pie!

Macaroon Pie and Lemon Chiffon Pie from Cook book.

Chicken Pie with Sweet Potato Crust from Favorite recipes of the Carolinas : meats edition, including poultry and seafood.

Dinner in a Crust from What’s cook’n at Biltmore.

Rocky Road Pie from Heavenly helpings, seasoned with love : recipes collected from great cooks past and present of White Oak Baptist Church, Archer Lodge, NC.

Cabbage Pie from The Pantry shelf : 1907-1982.

Fruit Pie Supreme from What’s cookin’? in 1822.

Cheese Sandwich Pie from Heavenly delights.

 

“The gathering [at Harvard], which featured a keynote address by Ta-Nehisi Coates, drew an overflow crowd of about 500, including researchers from more than 30 campuses. Between sessions… one scholar was overheard saying that ‘something we’ve been talking about for 200 years has suddenly become urgent.’

Alfred L. Brophy, a legal historian at the University of North Carolina and the author of ‘University, Court and Slave,’ a study of pro-slavery thought at antebellum Southern colleges, described what he called a ‘sea change’ in attitude.

“ ‘People who engaged in this research were once criticized, or had their jobs threatened, or were rejected by their administrations,’ he said in an interview. ‘Now the people doing this work are lifted up.’ ”

— From “Confronting Academia’s Ties to Slavery” by Jennifer Schuessler in the New York Times (March 5)

 

“When [Michael Jordan] made his way into the NBA [in 1984], he wanted to keep his college experience close by….But Jordan’s UNC short shorts wouldn’t fit under his Chicago Bulls short shorts, so he had to wear baggy, knee-length Bulls shorts instead….

“Soon, these extra long shorts became the favored style.  By 2003, almost every single NBA player had jettisoned the short shorts….”

During WWII, keeping up morale for American soldiers was a major national concern. The Library Section of the U.S. War Department, and later an organization called the Council on Books in Wartime, figured out a way to print contemporary titles inexpensively in a small paperback format that would also be easy to carry. The books were printed on presses used for magazines, so the text was set in two columns and each printed page usually included the text of four books. Once printed, the pages were cut apart horizontally. This process created paperbacks that were wider than they were tall. The covers of the Armed Services Editions (ASE) showed an image of the original book cover and noted whether the edition was abridged. Most were not. 

Over the course of the war, 1,322 books (some of which were reprints) were selected to be Armed Service Editions. The list of titles comprised many genres and styles, including fiction, nonfiction, plays, and poetry. It included contemporary literature as well as classics. Though the Army and Navy had to approve the titles selected by the Council on Books in Wartime, there was much less censorship of the titles than might be expected. The program handed out more than one million copies of ASE paperbacks, each free to service members.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Armed Services Edition

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, standard edition

One of the books chosen for publication as an ASE was Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Smith worked for years as a playwright before writing her first novel, which was wildly successful. She wrote A Tree Grows in Brooklyn while living in Chapel Hill, but based the novel on her childhood in Brooklyn. This story of a young girl growing up in the tenements was surprisingly popular with soldiers, who sent lots of fan mail to Betty Smith in Chapel Hill. According to Michael Hackenberg’s “The Armed Services Editions in Publishing History,” Smith actually received much more fan mail from soldiers than she did from civilians, even though her book was very popular at home.

Because of its popularity, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn was one of about 100 titles chosen for a second printing as an ASE. In their fan letters, some soldiers wrote that Smith’s book reminded them of their own childhoods in Brooklyn.

Letter to Betty Smith from September 23, 1944, Betty Smith Papers, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library

In a fan letter dated September 5, 1944, Charlie Pierce wrote, “I am a soldier some 1,500 miles from my beloved Brooklyn of which you wrote, so I know something of loneliness. Your book brought many hours of happiness to me – it was so human and so understanding.” Yet another soldier, Frank Ebey, called it simply, “that splendid book,” in his letter from September 1944. Perhaps it was the humanity that Pierce notes, more than a sense of place, which caused A Tree Grows in Brooklyn to resonate with so many ASE readers.

Betty Smith was not the only author with North Carolina ties to have a work published as an ASE. The program printed two of Thomas Wolfe’s novels, Look Homeward, Angel and Of Time and the River.

Look Homeward, Angel, Armed Services Edition

Of Time and the River, Armed Services Edition

On this day in 1865: George W. Nichols, a major in Sherman’s army, writing in his journal in Laurel Hill, N.C.:

“The line which divides South and North Carolina was passed by the army this morning. . . . The real difference between the two regions lies in the fact that the plantation owners [in North Carolina] work with their own hands, and do not think they degrade themselves thereby. For the first time since we bade farewell to salt water I have to-day seen an attempt to manure land. The army has passed through thirteen miles or more of splendidly-managed farms; the corn and cotton fields are nicely plowed and farrowed; the fences are in capital order; the barns are well-built; the dwelling houses are clean, and there is that air of thrift which shows that the owner takes a personal interest in the management of affairs.”

.

On this day in 1712: After nearly a month of fighting near present-day Grifton, colonial forces persuade the Tuscarora to agree to a truce and peace treaty. The war starts anew, however, when Col. John Barnwell begins selling Indian prisoners as slaves.

“In 2013, we did a dinner at Stagville Plantation in Durham, 150 people. I did invite Paula Deen, [but] she didn’t show up after my infamous letter to her….

“Almost all the food was prepared 19th Century style, open fires, cast iron skillets, wooden utensils. As we sat down to eat in the shadows of these four remaining slave cabins on this plantation that had 900 enslaved individuals across its history, it just dawned on me that the ancestors who had worked and lived and died there could never have dreamed that we would be honoring them in that way, with this many diverse people. I think we achieved a miracle, knowing it or not.

“That’s my whole mission, to uncover pieces of myself but use that to transform the way people look at race in America, to move the conversation beyond ‘this is mine and this is yours’ to ‘this is ours and this is we and this is us.’ ”

— Culinary historian Michael Twitty, quoted at ideastations.org (Feb. 23)

 

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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