Josephus schools Eleanor in racism

“[After FDR went to work as undersecretary of the Navy under Josephus Daniels], Eleanor Roosevelt brought from New York four servants, all white….

“When the Danielses had the Roosevelts to dinner … Eleanor appreciated her host asking the traditional blessing but had difficulty reconciling the piety with the harsh reprimand Daniels gave her that night at the table.

“Cloaked in his soft Piedmont voice, the secretary of the navy declared it unnatural for whites to assume a servile position in the house of a white family; only Negroes could wait on their superiors. ‘Whom else,’ he said, ‘could one kick?'”

— From “Eleanor” by David Michaelis (2020)

New in the collection: Randy Travis souvenir sticker

A sticker with a photograph of Randy Travis and the words, "ninety-nine point nine KISS country welcomes Randy Travis to South Florida. Miccousukee Indian Freedom Festival. July 11, 1996."

“Randy Travis changed the course of pop-leaning country music in 1986 with the release of his multiplatinum-selling ‘Storms of Life.’ In the next three decades, he charted 16 No. 1 songs including ‘Forever and Ever, Amen,’ ‘Deeper than a Holler’ and ‘On the Other Hand.’

“ ‘I can’t find another artist in any format in the history of music that turned a format 180 degrees right back into itself, a mirror of what it was, and made it bigger than it was before,’ Garth Brooks told The Tennessean.”

— From “Randy Travis opens up about childhood trauma, addiction struggles and the music industry in new memoir” by Cindy Watts in the Nashville Tennessean (June 5, 2019)

At the time of this concert the 37-year-old Marshville native had no reason to suspect his best decade was already behind him.

 

Blacks’ barriers to independence

“In North Carolina, during slavery and into the era of sharecropping, people in the lowest caste were forbidden to sell or trade goods of any kind or be subject to 39 lashes. This blocked the main route to earning money from their own farm labors and forced them into economic dependence on the dominant caste.”

— From “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents” by Isabel Wilkerson (2020)

New in the collection: Ku Klux Klan business cards

Three business cards for Ku Klux Klan organizations. One card includes the words "Realm of North Carolina, United Klans of America," an illustration of a Klansman on horseback and a name and address in Rockwell, NC. A second card also includes an illustration of a klansman on horseback and a message that reads, "You have been paid a social visit by the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. Don't make the next visit a business call." The third card includes an illustration of a Klansman on horseback and the message, "one dollar donation. Thanks for purchasing a brick to help build a building for the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan."

The membership applications on the backs of these undated cards list either a post office box in Granite Quarry, a longtime center of Klan activity, or one in nearby Rockwell.

The “social visit” card — no membership application included — is especially chilling, isn’t it?

 

Olmsted’s eye roamed after focus on poor

“There was no escaping the irony of his last great endeavor. The young [Frederick Law] Olmsted had ridden this part of North Carolina in 1854 as a decrier of aristocracy and proponent of state-aided uplift of the masses. He’d returned to the region to end his career designing the grounds of a 250-room French-style chateau, the largest private home in the nation.”

— From “Spying on the South: An Odyssey across the American Divide” by Tony Horwitz (2019)

More about Olmsted in North Carolina here. And there’s even a statue at the North Carolina Arboretum. 

New in the collection: WITN-TV desktop calendar

Calendar stand with a television tower next to the Empire State Building and the Eiffel Tower. The words, "The high and the mighty," are next to the structures. The stand also includes the words "7 WITN-TV TV for Eastern North Carolina."

“Channel 7 has had three broadcast towers over the years in Grifton. The original one of 919 feet was the tallest in the market at the time. It was replaced in 1961 with a 1,549-foot tower, and then in 1978, the current 2,000 foot structure was erected.”

— From “WITN History: A Look At How We Began In 1955” at witn.com

How proud did the Greenville station feel about that 1,549-foot tower?  Proud enough to label it “The High and the Mighty” — and to point out its supremacy to the Empire State Building (1,454 feet), the Eiffel Tower (1,063 feet) and the Washington Monument (555 feet). 

 

Where the famous once fled?

“At some point in the early 1820s, [the pirate Jean] Laffite pulled a disappearing act…. Did he die of a fever in Mexico? Did he die in one of his many raids along the Central American coast? Or did he, to escape his many enemies, make his way to a village called Lincolnton… to live out his days under the nom-de-guerre of Lorenzo Ferrer and be buried in the cemetery of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church?”

— From “Jean Laffite Book Sheds Light On Mysterious Pirate” by Thomas Lark in the Lincoln Herald (Feb. 12)

“Peter Stuart [sometimes Stewart] Ney, a teacher from Rowan County, is said to have made a deathbed confession that he was, in fact, Napoleon Bonaparte’s most trusted commander, Marshal Michel Ney. Marshal Ney was rumored to have escaped execution in 1815 and fled to America….

“However, researcher William Henry Hoyt amassed conclusive evidence that the true Marshal Ney did not escape the firing squad.  He also found an 1820 application for citizenship filed by Peter Stuart Ney in South Carolina and a record of his baptism in Scotland….”

— From “Peter Stuart Ney Confesses to be Napoleon’s Closest Aide” (North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources blog)

“History never repeats itself. But it rhymes.”

— Mark Twain (perhaps)

New in the collection: Brown Lung Association pinback

Burgundy pinback with the words, "Cotton Dust Kills. Carolina Brown Lung Association."

“Textile workers asked Congress today to pass laws that would upgrade state compensation for disabled employees with brown lung and other occupational diseases.

“The Carolina Brown Lung Association believes federal legislation is necessary because state compensation laws are not working and the textile industry is using its power and money to fight claims.

– From “Textile Workers Press for Upgraded Brown Lung Compensation” by Janet Staihar of the Associated Press (March 26, 1980)

 

The Charlotte Observer today won the 1981 Pulitzer Prize for meritorious public service for its series on brown lung disease….

“Industry and government responded with anger and resistance, but changes occurred…. By the end of 1980, textile workers in North Carolina had received a record $4 million in workers’ compensation for brown lung — more than the total paid in the previous nine years.”

— From “Charlotte (N.C.) Observer wins Pulitzer” by UPI (April 13, 1981)

 

Charlotte’s ‘salt-and-pepper’ era

“What few people know is that the South wasn’t always so segregated. During a brief window between the end of the Civil War and the turn of the 20th century, black and white people lived next to each other in Southern cities, creating what [Charlotte] historian Tom Hanchett describes as a ‘salt-and-pepper’ pattern.

“They were not integrated in a meaningful sense: Divisions existed, but ‘in a lot of Southern cities, segregation hadn’t been fully imposed — there were neighborhoods where blacks and whites were living nearby,’ said Eric Foner, a Columbia historian and expert on Reconstruction. Walk around in the Atlanta or the Charlotte of the late 1800s, and you might see black people in restaurants, hotels, the theater, Foner said. Two decades later, such things were not allowed.”

— From ” ‘Segregation Had to Be Invented’ “ by Alana Semuels in The Atlantic (Feb. 17)

New in the collection: Swinging bridge pinback

Pinback featuring a colored image of the swinging bridge and the words "I crossed the Mile High Swing Bridge. Grandfather Mountain, N.C."

“The swinging bridge was one of two options when [Hugh] Morton decided to get visitors from the gift shop-museum parking lot to the rocky overlook. ‘We had to have some way to get them across, and we could either have a stationary bridge or a swinging bridge,’ he said. ‘We decided the swinging bridge would be more fun, and would make a good conversation piece.’
“Some 30 percent of women visitors, and a smaller percentage of males, however, think it best not to cross the bridge.”

— From the Greensboro Daily News (Oct. 1, 1978) via A View to Hugh