Imaging and Imagining Downtowns in Postcards

We recently found a real photo postcard of Highlands, NC with its negative housed in the same sleeve.  And in the same box, we found a hand-colored postcard of the same image.  We decided to share these different elements on the blog so that faithful readers of NC Miscellany could see a little more about the production of postcards and the kinds of changes that were made to the images in order to depict a certain idea of the downtown in the postcard.


The negative is fairly damaged, and in the photo above, notice how the top layer is buckling.  The shiny spots on the surface are called mirroring, which occurs when the emulsion layer of the negative oxidizes.

Also visible in this negative are some of the techniques photographers used to doctor their negatives to achieve certain results in the photographic print.  There’s layer of “ruby red” opaque paint across the sky, which would have resulted in a perfectly crisp, clear white sky in the printed photograph.  And the graphite markings on the buildings, along the tree line, and around the Texaco sign would have added definition to the printed photo.


I took the above photograph of the negative sitting on top of our lightbox so that you can see the effect the ruby red has – the sky is completely smooth and opaque where the product was painted on.  The graphite markings were done to give the treeline a  natural, feathered look – without them, the ruby red would have left unnatural straight lines there.


The negative was then photographically reproduced, resulting in the real photo card above.  The clear sky and crisply outlined buildings make for a sharper, cleaner image of this downtown view of Highlands, NC.


The above postcard was created from the same negative we’ve been discussing in this post.  Here the image has been hand-colored after it was printed.  The effect results in less detail when compared to the real photo card and to the negative, but it does add a certain panache.

Flue-curing’s unintended consequence

“Flue-curing [a process accidentally invented by Stephen, a slave in Caswell County in 1839] turned tobacco a bright ‘lemon yellow.’ Many commented on the mildness of this tobacco and its particular  suitability for cigarettes. But what they could not have known is that this process also subtly changed the chemistry of the leaf to make it slightly acidic rather than alkaline…..

“Smokers soon found they could take cigarette smoke deep into their lungs, rather than holding the smoke principally  in their mouths as they did with pipes and cigars. In this way — as we now know —  nicotine absorbs rapidly into the bloodstream; some seven seconds later it reaches the brain. Nicotine addiction was born…. This physiological process would create a mass industry and a consequent epidemic of tobacco-related diseases.”

— From “The Cigarette Century: The Rise, Fall and Deadly Persistence of the Product the Defined America” (2007) by Allan M. Brandt

Detente achieved in Aunt Bee’s kitchen

tvland copy

On this day in 1968: The all-time highest-rated episode of “The Andy Griffith Show” airs, during the last of the show’s eight prime-time seasons.

In “Barney Hosts a Summit Meeting,” former costar Don Knotts returns for a guest appearance as Barney Fife. Hoping to help his ex-deputy impress superiors at the Raleigh Police Department, Andy allows Barney to arrange an East-West summit at the Taylor household. The meeting fails miserably until an impromptu encounter in Aunt Bee’s kitchen saves the day.

The episode won Knotts a fifth Emmy for his portrayal of Fife (Griffith never won any for his Sheriff Taylor).

Pictured: Pinback button from the collection promoting reruns of “The Andy Griffith Show” on the TV Land cable network.

Poor whites disenfranchised along with blacks

“The [1890s] laws that took the vote away from blacks — poll taxes, literacy tests, property qualifications — also often ensured that poor whites would not vote….

“The Charlotte Observer saw disenfranchisement as ‘the struggle of the white people of North Carolina to rid themselves of the dangers of the rule of negroes and the lower class of whites.’ ”

– From “A People’s History of the United States: 1492 to Present” (1980) by Howard Zinn

Zinn, 87, died Wednesday in Auburndale, Mass. “A People’s History,” a pioneering work of revisionism, has sold nearly 2 million copies.

George Moses Horton, Redux

We’ve been discussing which North Carolianians would be good candidates for appearing on a NC-centric Mount Rushmore, and George Moses Horton has come up.  There’s a lot of online resources here at UNC about his life and poems, including:

Slavery and the Making of the University, George Moses Horton
An online exhibit from the Southern Historical Collection that includes correspondence between Horton and David Swain and Horace Greely.

Life of George M. Horton. The Colored Bard of North Carolina from “The Poetical Works of George M. Horton, the Colored Bard of North Carolina, to which is Prefixed the Life of the Author, written by himself.”
From Documenting the American South, the full text of the autobiographical introduction to The Poetical Works of George Horton Moses, which is linked below.

The Poetical Works of George M. Horton: The Colored Bard of North Carolina: To Which is Prefixed the Life of the Author, Written by Himself.
From Documenting the American South, the full text of The Poetical Works of George M. Horton.  For more information about Horton’s biography, click here.

George Moses Horton Exhibit, Documentary Resources Available at UNC
Click on “Horton Manuscripts at UNC-CH” to view scanned images of Horton poems housed in the Southern Historical Collection.

North Carolina’s “Mount Rushmore”

For the past year or so, NC Collection staff members have been participating in a “staff picks” display. We come up with a topic or theme, and then we pick items from the NC Collection that fit. For example, we’ve had displays of our favorite fall festivals, summer-related books, and “what’s the connection to the collection.” You can see some of the past displays on the NC Collection’s fan page on Facebook.

Our current display is “Our Favorite North Carolinians.” It’s a very interesting display of native-born North Carolinians, and one of our staff members suggested that we share it on NCM. I then mentioned the idea to NCM contributor Lew Powell, and he suggested calling it “North Carolina’s ‘Mount Rushmore.'”

Here’s the list (in no particular order):

Terry Sanford
Gaston Means
Charlie Daniels
The Avett Brothers
William Powell
Carl Kasell
Roy Williams
Anna Julia Cooper
Ronnie Milsap
Doc Watson
Daniel L. Russell
André Leon Talley
Nina Simone

So, in the very interesting interconnected world in which we now live, we are opening this display (“virtually” opening it up) to our readers. Who are your favorite North Carolinians? If you’ve got one, share them as a comment.

PS. Just in case you are wondering….I’ve been in North Carolina since I was 4 (except for one sad year as a 12 year old in that state to the South), but I was born in Tennessee. So, you can’t add me as your favorite!

Barber Printing & Stationery Co., Winston-Salem, NC


Several postcards and a few pamphlets/books here in the NCC were printed by the Barber Printing & Stationery Co. in Winston-Salem, NC.  I’m not sure exactly when it was founded, but it appears in the 1910 city directory for Winston-Salem.

I wasn’t able to find out much about their business other than they were a printer and a purveyor of office supplies.  Their office was located at 209 W. 3rd Street, and appears in the postcards above and below.


Memories of a model for ‘M*A*S*H’

Death noted: Actor Pernell Roberts, 81, whose TV credits included “Trapper John, M.D.” (1979-1986), a character based on Greensboro physician John Lyday.

While serving in the 8055th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital in Korea, Lyday worked with another surgeon, Dick Hornberger, who under the pen name Richard Hooker wrote a novel that became the basis for the movie and TV series “M*A*S*H.”

Dr. Lyday died at age 78 in 1999 in Greensboro.