How ‘Soupman’ became Soupy Sales


Death noted: TV comedy pioneer Soupy Sales, born Milton Supman in Franklinton, where his parents Irving and Sadie ran a dry-goods store. According to today’s obituary in the New York Times, “His last name was pronounced ‘Soupman’ by neighbors, so he called himself Soupy as a youngster.” He was 83.

After joining the Navy, earning a journalism degree from Marshall College and working as a disc jockey, he found fame catching pies in the face and dodging paw swats from White Fang, “the biggest and meanest dog in the United States.” “The Soupy Sales Show,” first aired as “Soup’s On” on a Detroit station, made its network debut on ABC in 1955.

Spiritual Power in Our Own Backyard

An article in today’s New York Times on deaths in a sweat lodge in Arizona quotes Page Bryant, described as a “psychic in Waynesville, N.C.” Ms. Bryant herself had once been in Arizona, but left because the New Age craziness there was too much for her. She came to the mountains of western North Carolina where she taps into the ancient powers within the Great Smoky Mountains. Her experiences, and guidance for other seekers, can be found in The Spiritual Reawakening of the Great Smoky Mountains, a book that adds depth to the North Carolina Collection.

Score one for the ‘demon-worshippers’

“If you read ‘Paradise Lost,’ they think you’re a demon-worshipper.”

— Bill Flowers, owner of the Milestone Club in Charlotte, describing (in 1982) his neighbors’ reaction to the New Wave scene

This week the Milestone, still gritty but and now venerated, celebrates its 40th anniversary. Saturday: Raleigh’s Birds of Avalon. Among past acts: R.E.M., Nirvana, Melissa Etheridge, the Violent Femmes, the Go-Gos and Bo Diddley.

Bear Bryant In Chapel Hill


The first two years of the Mack Brown football era in Chapel Hill were pretty miserable. Back-to-back 1-10 seasons were hard to take, and the ABC (Anybody But Carolina) fans had a blast making fun of the Tar Heel football program. In fact, I distinctly remember a joke that was told during those years:

Person 1: “Hey, did you hear that Bear Bryant’s wife was moving to Chapel Hill for health reasons?”

Person 2: “No, I didn’t. Why?”

Person 1: “Her doctor told her that she needed to get away from big-time college football!”

Little did I know until recently that Bear Bryant has a true UNC connection (other than the one suggested in the not-so-funny joke). Lieut. Paul “Bear” Bryant was on the coaching staff of the North Carolina U.S. Navy Pre-Flight School, which was housed on the campus of the University of North Carolina during World War II. The image above comes from a game program in the North Carolina Collection’s UNC-related ephemera files for 1944.

First woman to puff her way across the Atlantic

On this day in 1928: Exemplifying the cigarette industry’s effort to win over women, a full-page ad in Progressive Farmer magazine offers this testimonial from Amelia Earhart:

“Lucky Strikes were the cigarettes carried on the Friendship when she crossed the Atlantic. They were smoked continuously from Trepassey
[Newfoundland] to Wales. I think nothing else helped so much to lessen the strain for all of us.”

Four months earlier Earhart had become celebrated as the first woman to fly across the Atlantic, as a passenger in a Fokker tri-motor piloted by two men.

Did Marion Butler father ‘The Boys on the Bus’?

Until William Jennings Bryan’s 1896 campaign against William McKinley, presidential candidates seldom left home in search of votes. Stumping was left to surrogates. Although Bryan lost (and then lost and lost again), his willingness to hit the trail changed American politics forever.

This passage from American Heritage magazine (April/May 1980) suggests that Marion Butler, the North Carolina Populist leader, helped to establish another campaign precedent:

“Butler, who accompanied Bryan during part of his Southern tour, was appalled at his absorption in such trivia as checking train schedules, buying tickets and arranging for baggage and mail. Bryan rose in the middle of the night to make train changes and connections, toting his own heavy grips. At Butler’s recommendation, the national committee provided Bryan with a special car, known inappropriately as ‘The Idler,’  in which the press and local committees could travel comfortably along with the candidate.”