Today is National Astronaut Day.  Why not try a new recipe that’s out of this world!

Out of This World Cake-Out of Our League

Out of This World Cake from Out of our league.

Moon Pie - Sugar Pie & Jelly Roll

Moon Pie from Sugar pie & jelly roll : sweets from a southern kitchen.

Milky Way Ice Cream - Granny's Drawers

Milky Way Ice Cream from Granny’s drawers : four generations of family favorites.

Polenta Stars-An Appetite for Art

Polenta Stars with Wilted Spinach and Gorgonzola from An appetite for art : recipes and art from the North Carolina Museum of Art.

heavenly pie - Dixie Dishes

Heavenly Pie from Dixie dishes.

Moon Balls - Pass the Plate

Moon Balls from Pass the plate : the collection from Christ Church.

Second of two parts  (Part one)

Went to high school in North Carolina: Althea Gibson

Went to college in North Carolina and graduated despite having flunked his English placement test because he was imitating Faulkner: Walker Percy

Went to college in North Carolina but didn’t graduate: Shelby Foote, Emmylou Harris and Jeff MacNelly

Had three hits for Yale in a college baseball game in North Carolina: George H.W. Bush

Had to return his Olympic gold medals because he had played semipro baseball in North Carolina: Jim Thorpe

Met in North Carolina: Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll

Married in North Carolina: Horace Greeley, Walter Reed, Charlton Heston, Stephen Douglas, John Hersey and Daniel Boone

Honeymooned in North Carolina: Margret Mitchell and Woodrow Wilson (separately)

Wrote books in North Carolina: Carson McCullers, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Jack Kerouac

Wrote books set in North Carolina despite never having been here: Jules Verne

Wrote a book set on the Mississippi River despite never having been there because she had done her research in North Carolina instead: Edna Ferber

Got drunk in North Carolina and gave a memorable reading at Duke: Dylan Thomas

Got drunk in North Carolina and lost — forever — page 12 from his “Light in August” manuscript: William Faulkner

Didn’t get drunk in North Carolina: Carry Nation

Cut his first record in North Carolina: Bill Monroe

Cut “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag” (in one take!) in North Carolina: James Brown

Shot out a TV set in North Carolina: Elvis

Preached a sermon in North Carolina: P.T. Barnum

Joined the Marines in North Carolina: Art Buchwald

Crowned the Azalea Queen in North Carolina: Ronald Reagan

Visited North Carolina in the Spirit of St. Louis: Charles Lindbergh

Visited North Carolina in an autogiro: Amelia Earhart

Visited North Carolina in a carriage and got stuck in the mud: Marquis de Lafayette

Visited North Carolina on a Greyhound bus and went to jail: Joe Perkins

Visited North Carolina and found it, to his surprise, “a peacefully homogenous community where money is never mentioned, where no racial tension exists either on or under the surface; & where instead of colliding with indoctrinated automata, one meets courteous individuals! For the first time I realize what ‘America’ might have been.”:  e. e. cummings


“ ‘Presumptive nominee’ was used as early as 1908 by Charlotte Observer to describe William Howard Taft.”

— From a tweet by presidential historian Michael Beschloss (April 26)

hat tip/  Ed Williams


Just a list cobbled together in a previous century and recently happened onto….

Born in North Carolina, though not usually associated with it: Howard Cosell, Soupy Sales and Elwood Edwards

Not born in North Carolina, though usually associated with it: Michael Jordan, James Taylor and John Shelton Reed

Died of natural causes in North Carolina: Sidney Lanier, Wolfman Jack, Kate Smith, three sets of Siamese twins and the last two surviving members of baseball’s Gashouse Gang.

Died in a mental hospital fire in North Carolina: F. Scott Fitzgerald’s wife Zelda

Died in a Civil War prison camp in North Carolina: Dr. Livingston’s son David

Died at sea off North Carolina: Aaron Burr’s daughter Theodosia.

Died in North Carolina after being attacked by a turkey while nodding off on his front porch: Samuel Spencer

Died in car wrecks in North Carolina: Dr. Charles Drew, Jack Johnson and Fireball Roberts.

Nearly died in a car wreck in North Carolina: Stevie Wonder

Nearly died in a train wreck in North Carolina: Annie Oakley

Took sick in North Carolina and almost died: Babe Ruth

Took sick in North Carolina and did die: Jim Henson

Hanged in North Carolina: Tom Dula

Hanged in effigy in North Carolina: Dean Smith

Buried in North Carolina in the same cemetery in Asheville: Thomas Wolfe and O. Henry

Buried in North Carolina in the same cemetery in Shelby: W. J. Cash and Thomas Dixon

Buried in North Carolina but moved to Virginia after her monument was vandalized: Robert E. Lee’s daughter Annie Carter Lee

First of two parts


“On the same day the U.S. Treasury announced Andrew Jackson’s image would be removed from the front of the $20 bill, Congress moved a step closer toward declaring [James K.] Polk‘s Tennessee home a national treasure.

“A bill that passed the U.S. Senate contains a provision directing the Interior Secretary to study the feasibility of preserving the 11th president’s home in Columbia, just southwest of Nashville, as part of the national park system.

“The two-story brick structure, built in 1816 by Polk’s father while the future president was attending the University of North Carolina, is where Polk returned after graduation and where he began his legal and political career. The house contains more than 1,300 objects and original items from Polk’s years in Tennessee and Washington, including furniture, White House artifacts and political memorabilia.”

— From “James K. Polk home moves closer to national park status” by Michael Collins in the Knoxville News Sentinel (April 25)

Considerably less well situated is the site of Polk’s 1795 birth in Mecklenburg County, which in recent years has endured trial by both fire and legislature



It’s springtime and herbs are plentiful.  Why not use those herb gardens to make something tasty.

Basil Butter - The Fearrington House Cookbook

Basil Butter from The Fearrington House cookbook : a celebration of food, flowers, and herbs.

Herb mayonnaise - Foods Flavored for Friends

Herb Mayonnaise from Foods flavored for friends.

Egg Casserole with Herbs - North Carolina Bed & Breakfast Cookbook

Egg Casserole with Herbs from North Carolina bed & breakfast cookbook.

Parsley Rice-The Pantry Shelf

Parsley Rice from The Pantry shelf : 1907-1982.

Quick Guide to Herb Use-Waldensian Cookery

A Quick Guide to Herb Use from Waldensian cookery.

Herb bread - Buffet Benny's

Herb Bread from Buffet Benny’s family cookbook : recipes, stories & poems from the Appalachian Mountains.

“My grandfather ate the Charlotte Observer. Regularly. The entire paper. I’m not making this up….”

— From “Here’s one way to eat newsprint” by Walter Dellinger (letter to the editor of the Washington Post, April 8)

h/t Michael Hill


“This winter, amid the news of the FBI’s arrest of the remaining occupiers of a national wildlife refuge in Oregon, another story unfolded more quietly in the Appalachians. At the heart of it were a small plant that plays a significant role in eastern mountain forests — American ginseng — and Billy Joe Hurley, a North Carolina man who had just been released from prison for stealing ginseng plants from Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
“Hurley, 47, has been convicted at least five times, stretching back nearly two decades. While ordinarily such a case would be the stuff of the local paper’s police blotter, Hurley’s malfeasance is unusual, garnering national coverage, both because American ginseng roots fetch high prices in Asian markets – hundreds of dollars a pound — and the oddity of a plant heist resulting in a [six-month] prison sentence….

“The history of the park and its creation in the 1930s still stings for some who feel their grandparents were swindled out of their land through eminent domain to establish what is now America’s most visited park…. A few descendants today use that grudge to justify taking ginseng from the park. But for most, like Hurley, ‘ginsenging,’ is a tradition handed down one generation to the next.”

— From “The Fight Against Ginseng Poaching in the Great Smoky Mountains” by David A. Taylor in the Smithsonian (April 21)

Meanwhile, the other side of the state is confronting its own plant poaching problem.



This month’s Artifact of the Month post illustrates our continuing fascination with objects related to tobacco marketing. (For prior evidence of this obsession, see posts about the Seal of North Carolina Plug Cut tobacco pouch, the Joe Camel holiday lighter, and the Duke Cigarettes tobacco cards.)

Our April Artifact is a bumper sticker for the Winston Rodeo, circa 1975. That’s Winston as in the cigarette brand, owned by the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company.


The Winston Rodeo series began in 1971 or 1972 (depending on which source you consult). It originally included roughly 600 rodeos each year throughout the country.

An intriguing 2010 article in the American Journal of Public Health analyzes internal tobacco industry documents to reveal the motivations behind tobacco company rodeo sponsorship. Not surprisingly, the goal was the promotion of cigarettes — not rodeo.

The researchers conclude that it was no coincidence that the advent of Winston’s rodeo sponsorship coincided with the 1971 ban on cigarette advertising on television and radio. During a televised rodeo event, TV cameras can pick up branded banners, scoreboards, and clothing, such as the jacket worn by a cowgirl in two photographs that came to the North Carolina Collection with the bumper sticker:


Tucked under the collar on each shoulder is the embroidered slogan “Winston: How Good it Is.”

If you find that kind of branding too subtle, then take the example of Miss Winston:


Miss Winston was a spokesmodel for the Winston Cup, a NASCAR racing series that was also sponsored by Winston. Miss Winston presumably made an appearance at the rodeo and autographed this photo for a lucky fan.

In 1975, R.J. Reynolds offered free Winston Rodeo bumper stickers, of which our Artifact is likely an example. Fans who were younger than 21 could skirt the company’s policy against marketing to young people by having their parents sign a statement provided by RJR.

On the back of the bumper sticker Winston advertises a 45 rpm souvenir record, a “Musical Salute to the Professional Rodeo Cowboy.”


It’s a clever marketing move: Why not use your promotional materials to advertise other promotional materials? The cost was only $1.50 and two empty Winston packages.

A 1979 study commissioned by R.J. Reynolds concluded that Winston’s rodeo sponsorship had its intended effect of increasing purchases among fans. The study found a 10% per-year increase starting in 1974 attributed partially to Winston’s sponsorship of its Rodeo Superstars and College Rodeo Scholarship programs.

We’re grateful to the researchers who sifted through all those tobacco industry documents: Drs Pamela M. Ling, Lawrence A. Haber, and Stefani Wedl.

And we’re grateful to the anonymous rodeo fan who opted not to affix this artifact to his/her bumper. It’s a perfect addition to the NCC Gallery’s collection of tobacco-related objects.

“When I drove into the parking lot of Replacements, Ltd., on the outskirts of Greensboro, North Carolina, I thought of a saying that Rosanne Cash attributes to her father, Johnny, who was an avid collector of rugs, china, linens, and furniture: ‘Every possession is just a stick to beat yourself with.’ There are many, many sticks with which one might beat oneself at Replacements….

“I came to see the huge collection of Fiestaware, the beloved American-made brand of colorful china, and to follow a hunch I had that a plate has special significance in the South. This was both an ethnographic mission for my work as a cultural anthropologist [at Duke] and a personal quest: I am one of countless Americans who collect Fiestaware. Nietzsche would describe me as an ‘antiquarian,’ or someone who believes that the past ‘belongs to the preserving and revering soul — to him who with loyalty and love looks back on his origins.’ Mostly, I hoped to understand the pull in my gut, an embodied sense of longing, I feel every time I see those brightly colored dinner plates….”

— From “The State of the Plate” b in the Oxford American (April 19) 

Alexander isn’t alone in her fetish. Approaching the vast Fiestaware display at Replacements, her guide warned that “One woman fainted when she saw this, and another fell to her knees — I saw it happen…. Fiestaware can do that to people.”


« Newer Posts - Older Posts »