Wildlife in N.C. Best in Nation

I wasn’t surprised to see that Wildlife in North Carolina was named the best state wildlife magazine in the country by the Association for Conservation Information. The magazine, published monthly by the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, is an engaging and helpful journal for everyone who enjoys life outside, whether you’re there to enjoy the scenery or to fire away at ducks and deer.

I make a point of checking in regularly at the website of the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission. In particular, I’m keeping an eye on the North Carolina Black Bear Occupied Range Expansion. I’m sure that other readers will notice the ominous trend of inward expansion toward the Piedmont as bears are no longer held to just the far mountain and coastal regions. How much longer before they’ll be in Charlotte, Raleigh, or Winston-Salem? Sleep well while you can, city-dwellers: the bears are on their way.



This postcard from Southern Pines in 1910 shows “Mr. and Mrs. J.N. Powell among their bananas.” Bananas? I realize that there has been significant climate change over the past century, but I don’t believe that it was ever possible to cultivate tropical fruit in North Carolina. Even when I zoom in I can’t see anything that I would recognize as a banana. Perhaps this was an older nickname for some other kind of plant common to the region. I’d like for this to be possible though. Just imagine how good the banana pudding at local barbecue restaurants would be if they made it with fruit fresh from the garden.

A Dip in the “Cool Pool”

I don’t know about where you are, but here in Chapel Hill it’s hot. With a forecast high of 97 degrees and a heat index of around 105 degrees, I was trying to think of something “cool” to do this afternoon. If I were in Tarboro in the 1930s, I definitely know what I would do; I’d take a dip in the “Cool Pool.”

According to an entry written by Jaqueline Drane Nash in the recently published Encyclopedia of North Carolina, the Cool Pool came about after the Tarboro Town Council asked a Pennsylvania firm to install a refrigerating unit for the town pool. For a mere $2592, the residents of Tarboro enjoyed what “is believed to have been the first and perhaps only refrigerated outdoor pool in the country.” Now that is what I call North Carolina ingenuity (with a little help from Pennsylvania).

North Carolina literature is hot!

Library Journal is a semi-monthly magazines aimed at librarians. I read it regularly because it’s a good source of book reviews and news on forthcoming books. Like a number of other reviewing sources, Library Journal uses a star to draw the reader’s attention to a book that is particularly good. The July 2007 issue contained reviews of four forthcoming books from North Carolina authors, all of which received starred reviews. Mark your calendars for these books:

Sarah Addison Allen. Garden Spells (due out in August)
John Hart. Down River (October publication date)
Margaret Maron. Hard Row: A Deborah Knott Mystery (due out in August)
Robert Morgan. Boone: A Biography (October publication date)

The Peak of Good Living

Here at the North Carolina Collection we love talking and writing about North Carolina superlatives. Yesterday I noticed one that hit close to home–real close to home. The town in which I live, Apex, North Carolina, was named by Money Magazine as the 14th best place to live in the United States, garnering the highest rating for any North Carolina town.

The compilers of the Best Places to Live: Top 100 state that this year’s list “focused on smaller places that offered the best combination of economic opportunity, good schools, safe streets, things to do and a real sense of community.” As a way of quantifying how much “Leisure and Culture” Apex has, the magazine figured out that there were 1,598 restaurants and 122 bars within 15 miles of the town. Wow, I really need to get out more.

The other North Carolina towns that made the list are Holly Springs (Wake County) at No. 22 and Mooresville (Iredell County) at No. 65.

Even better than I remember


Many of us look back on our college years through rose-colored glasses. College yearbooks have encouraged this nostalgia with beautiful images of campus scenes and buildings and formal portraits of us and our friends looking happy and exceptionally well groomed. The 1932 edition of The White Heather, by the seniors of Flora Macdonald College, takes this model to a higher level. Even in my fondest memories, college was not as idyllic as it is pictured here.

“Harry-est” Towns in N.C.

Three North Carolina towns have made it into the top 100 “Harry-est” towns in the country. This promotion run by Amazon.com tracks the towns that, on a per-capita basis, are pre-ordering the most copies of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Morrisville comes in at number 59, Hillsborough is 66, and Hendersonville is number 85.

If you ask me, it’s an easy choice as to which is the “Harry-est” town in North Carolina: Potterstown, of course. This small community is near the town of Tamarack in Watauga County. Some act of wizardry has kept it off of the most recent state transportation map, but the North Carolina Gazetteer assures me it’s there.

Health Clothing


In the 1920s and 1930s, Biltmore Industries in Asheville was well-known around the country for its traditional “homespun” wool cloth, which was woven by hand and known to have been worn by Presidents Herbert Hoover and Franklin D. Roosevelt. I’m sure the natural cloth was comfortable and stylish, but apparently it was healthy, too. I take this from no less an authority than Dr. John Harvey Kellogg of the Battle Creek Sanitarium.

Convinced that natural light was a “life stimulant,” Kellogg encouraged his patients to wear white clothes and porous fibers that allowed light to reach the skin. He was so impressed with the Biltmore Hand-Woven Homespun that he drove from Battle Creek to Asheville to inspect the operation first-hand. He declared the Biltmore cloth “The most remarkable discovery in Health Clothing that ever has been made.”

I found this impressive claim in a pamphlet in the North Carolina Collection, which was accompanied by several samples of the Biltmore Homespun. I’ve included a scan of one here. Unfortunately there aren’t enough scraps to make a suit out of, or else I would put Dr. Kellogg’s theory to the test.