Do myths hold secret to eternal life?

Before we’ve wandered too far down the road from Michael Hill’s call for “major myths of North Carolina history” (June 19 Miscellany), let’s consider three myths that make up in stubbornness whatever they lack in size:

  • “Pulitzer” for Lamar Stringfield, founder of N.C. Symphony
Myth: “In 1928 his ‘From the Southern Mountains’ won the Pulitzer Prize for Composition.” (Dictionary of North Carolina Biography).
Reality:He was awarded a Pulitzer traveling fellowship for his promising work in music composition….” (ncsymphony.org).
  • Nicks in the Capitol steps
Myth: “During Reconstruction, carpetbaggers and scalawags… left permanent nicks in the capitol steps from the whiskey barrels rolled up for the thirsty legislators.” ( WPA Guide to the Old North State and currently mobiltravelguide.howstuffworks.com)

Reality: “A recent investigation determined that the edges of the steps actually had been damaged from beneath. The visible damage was likely caused by the iron-rimmed wheelbarrows used by enslaved (and later free) African Americans as they carted heavy loads of wood upstairs to fuel the fireplaces. Records indicate that more than 300 cords of wood were used during a regular legislative session….” (nchistoric sites.org).
  • Hospital’s alleged refusal to treat Dr. Charles Drew
Myth: “When [a white soldier resists a transfusion of “black” blood], Hawkeye tells him about Charles Drew, the black doctor…refused treatment at a whites-only hospital in the South after an accident.” (“Watching ‘M*A*S*H,’ Watching America” by James H. Wittebols, 2003)
Reality: “On April 1, 1950, Drew died after an auto accident in rural North Carolina. Within hours, rumors spread: the man who helped create the first American Red Cross blood bank had bled to death because a whites-only hospital refused to treat him. Drew was in fact treated in the emergency room of the small, segregated Alamance General Hospital. Two white surgeons worked hard to save him, but he died after about an hour.” (UNC Press blurb on “One Blood: The Death and Resurrection of Charles R. Drew” by Spencie Love, 1997)

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