Andy and Barney didn’t just happen

“[Critics and CBS] never saw through to the sophistication underlying the show. If the men aren’t wearing Brooks Brothers and the women aren’t wearing the latest hairstyles and fashions and they’re not discussing something terribly chic at cocktails, then it isn’t ‘sophisticated.’ Andy felt very strongly about that attitude, really resented it….

“Those other shows [‘Green Acres,’ ‘Petticoat Junction,’ ‘The Beverly Hillbillies’] were fine for what they attempted, but ours was a different type of show entirely.”

— Producer Aaron Ruben, as quoted in “The Andy Griffith Show” (1981) by Richard Michael Kelly

Ruben, credited by Griffith with “set[ting] the style of this show” in its early years, applied a crucial sensitivity to the subtle  interplay between Andy Taylor and Barney Fife.  (Just imagine how that could’ve gone amiss!) He died Saturday in Beverly Hills at age 95.

Now THAT was a mea culpa!

“When I was completely taken in by the Communist agitation at Gastonia in 1929, there wasn’t a bigger jackass or a more gullible sap in the State of North Carolina than I was. I knew absolutely nothing about what I was talking about, as I whooped it up continually in this column in support of the murderous Gastonia defendants. My experience in the bloody Gastonia business is THE thing of all  others which has done most to make me distrust so-called ‘liberalism,’  which so often, like mine was then, is not only ignorant and neurotic, but very dangerous.”

— Nell Battle Lewis’s “Incidentally” column in the News & Observer of Raleigh, Dec. 16, 1951 (as quoted in “Battling Nell: The Life of Southern Journalist Cornelia Battle Lewis, 1893-1956” by Alexander S. Leidholdt [2009]).

When Lewis died, N&O editor Jonathan Daniels, who had served simultaneously as her patron and her archvillain, wrote that “Nell Battle Lewis made for herself a name that will be long remembered in North Carolina.”

Through no lack of effort on her part, it hasn’t turned out that way. Leidholdt’s thoughtful and thorough biography, which details Lewis’s transitions from “most versatile” graduate at St. Mary’s School to daring advocate of the underclass to hard-line segregationist, has gone virtually unnoticed. (Hat tips to exceptions Ben Steelman of the Wilmington Star-News  [] and Charles Wheeler of the Greensboro News & Record [].)

Check out what’s new to the North Carolina Collection.

Several new titles just added to “What’s New in the North Carolina Collection?” To see the full list simply click on the link in this entry or click on the “What’s New in the North Carolina Collection?” link under the heading “Pages” in the right column. As always, full citations for all the new titles can be found in the University Library Catalog and they are all available for use in the North Carolina Collection Reading Room.

Fifty Years Ago — The F.W. Woolworth’s Lunch Counter Sit-In

In honor of the 50th anniversary of the Woolworth’s lunch counter sit-in in Greensboro, North Carolina, and of the opening of The International Civil Rights Museum, the North Carolina Collection shares this document from its collection.

Don’t buy at these stores : Woolworth’s, McLlellan’s, Walgreen’s, Efird’s, Kress’, Hudson-Belk’s. [Raleigh, N.C.? : s.n., 196-] [Handbill advocating a boycott of certain Raleigh businesses because of their refusal to seat Blacks at their lunch counters. Signed: St. Augustine’s College, Shaw University, Ligon High School.] Cb326 D688s


This Month in NC – Piedmont Airlines’ First Passenger Flight, February 1948


Take flight into our most recent installment of This Month in North Carolina, which discusses the origins of Piedmont Airlines in Winston-Salem, NC.  Tobacco and aviation are linked more closely than I’d ever imagined!

Piedmont Airlines’ inaugural passenger flight took place on Friday, February 20, 1948 at around 7 a.m.  It left Wilmington, made several stops along the way to Cincinnati, OH, and then made the return trip home. 

The photo above is from the Hugh Morton Collection of Photographs and Film, and shows two of Pidemont Airlines’ DC-3s parked in a WWII hangar they were using as a base.  The photo is dated to ca. 1948, the same year as their first passenger flight.

Homefront fashion: pajamas suitable for flying

“I hope when I wear them that I do not start counting ten and jump!”

— President Franklin D. Roosevelt, writing on Feb. 2, 1943, to thank N.C. Gov. O. Max Gardner for his Christmas present — pajamas custom-made from nylon parachute cloth manufactured at Gardner’s textile mill in Shelby.

Gardner devised the gift to tout the value of synthetics research, which had invented nylon for parachutes just in time to offset the Japanese monopoly on silk.

February 1948: Piedmont Airlines’ First Passenger Flight

This Month in North Carolina History

Postcard of View of a Piedmont Airlines plane at Fayetteville's Municipal Airport, ca. 1953.
View of a Piedmont Airlines plane at Fayetteville’s Municipal Airport, ca. 1953.

Thomas H. Davis was born in Winston-Salem in 1918, and grew up in a family of successful businessmen. His father worked as an executive for R. J. Reynolds Tobacco, a relationship that would later be crucial for the story of Davis’s own success story and for commercial aviation in Winston-Salem. Davis had an interest in planes and aviation from a young age and began taking flight lessons on the sly when he was 15 or 16 years old at the Winston-Salem Airport.

In 1939, Davis began working as a salesman for the Camel City Flying Service, an aviation company owned by R.J. Reynolds, Jr. As a salesman, Davis’s job was to fly planes to potential customers. He enjoyed the work so much that he put his college career on hold to take a full-time job with company. Camel City Flying Service was in debt, and Reynolds had a vested interest in its success. At the time, he was gearing up to run for mayor of Winston-Salem, and wanted to see his town and companies do well. Furthermore, North Carolina was a major manufacturing center for textiles, tobacco, and furniture, but was cut off from the distribution centers in the Midwest. Reynolds offered to sell the Camel City Flying Service to Davis if he could bring the company out of debt. He did, and in 1940, the company was reincorporated under the name of Piedmont Aviation. At the time, Davis was only 22 years old.

During World War II, most of Piedmont Aviation’s business came from training pilots and flight instructors – it’s estimated that they trained more than 1,000 pilots. As the war was winding down, the military took over responsibility for training pilots and instructors, and Piedmont Aviation quickly set into motion plans to re-envision itself as a passenger airline.

Piedmont applied to the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) in 1944 for a contract that would recognize them as a feeder airline operating passenger, mail, and cargo routes to many North Carolina towns, as well as branching out for a few longer trips. So many companies applied for this contract that it took the CAB several years to make their decision. Although Piedmont Airlines was awarded the contract in 1947, their initial service was held back by competition from other small airlines, including State Airlines, a company based in Charlotte. State Airlines petitioned the CAB with a similar service plan, but was not awarded the contract. They brought a case to the Supreme Court that took several months to iron out before deciding in favor of Piedmont Airlines.

Photograph with View of Piedmont Airlines' DC-3s in a hangar in Wilmington, NC, ca. 1948.
View of Piedmont Airlines’ DC-3s in a hangar in Wilmington, NC, ca. 1948.

Four years after submitting their application to the CAB, Friday, February 20, 1948, at around 7:00 am, Piedmont Airlines launched its first passenger flight. The flight took off in Wilmington, made several stops along the way, and landed in Cincinnati at 12:24 pm. The plane then made its return trip and landed back in Wilmington at 7:19 pm. The DC-3 plane Piedmont Airlines was flying at the time could carry up to 28 passengers, a pilot, co-pilot, and a purser.

Early regional airlines like Piedmont Airlines modeled their schedules after the railroads. Piedmont Airlines had proposed a system of several routes to connect small cities in North Carolina. The first flight followed a route that began in Wilmington, made stops in Southern Pines; Charlotte; Asheville; the Tri-Cities, a regional airport serving Tennessee and Virginia; Lexington, KY; and Cincinnati, OH. Because of their fast schedules and quick time spent on the ground, Piedmont’s planes earned the nickname “puddle jumpers.”

Despite their lowly nickname, Piedmont Airlines quickly became known for its famous balance between excellent customer service and spartan accommodations. An anecdote recounted in Elliott’s Flight of the Pacemaker mentions how the pursers picked up Krispy Kreme donuts on their way into work for flights leaving out of Winston-Salem, but that was one small comfort in a crowded cabin that was hot in the summer, cold in the winter, and unpressurized.

The airline’s reputation and customer base grew steadily, as did its good relationship with the CAB. Piedmont Airlines jumped a much bigger puddle and made its first international flight to London in 1987. In 1989, USAir acquired Piedmont Airlines.

Piedmont wings pin from Lew Powell Collection

Dunn, James Alexander Clarke. “The History of Piedmont Airlines” in Pace, vol. 15, no. 12, p. 53-78.

Eller, Richard E. Piedmont Airlines: A Complete History, 1948-1989. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, 2008.

Elliott, Frank. Piedmont: Flight of the Pacemaker. Winston-Salem, NC: Piedmont Aviation Historical Society, 2006.

“Air Route is Given Supreme Court Okay,” in News & Observer, 7 February 1950.

“Thomas H. Davis, Founder of Piedmont Airlines Receives the Honor of His Peers,” in We the People of North Carolina, vol. 42, no. 4, p. 22-24, 59.

Image Sources:
<a href"“Piedmont Airlines planes in hangar,” in Hugh Morton Collection of Photographs and Films, P081.

“Municipal Airport, Fayetteville, N.C.” in Durwood Barbour Collection of North Carolina Postcards (P077), North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives, Wilson Library, UNC-Chapel Hill.

Piedmont Airlines wings button, in the Lew Powell Memorabilia Collection.

How to win voters: Clobber the QB

“One photograph [from football history] has always stuck in my mind: Y.A. Tittle on his knees, blood dripping down his forehead, after losing a game in 1964. … [Unlike Tittle, Brett] Favre at least has a Super Bowl ring, but watching him get brutalized by the Saints made me think of the Tittle photograph, widely known as ‘The Agony of Defeat.’ ”

— Larry Canale, blogging in the New York Times, January 29

“Morris Berman of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette…. had gone to Pitt Stadium that day not to cover the game but looking for human interest. He decided to focus on Tittle. But his editor, wanting an action photo, refused to run the injured warrior photograph. It became widely seen only after Berman entered it in contests….

“Now, it [hangs] in the lobby of the National Press Photographers Association headquarters in Durham, North Carolina, alongside Joe Rosenthal’s photograph of the flag-raising at Iwo Jima and the image of the fiery death of the Hindenburg dirigible at Lakehurst, New Jersey.”

— Michael Shapiro in Smithsonian magazine, February 2007

“When John Baker ran for sheriff of Wake County, North Carolina, the first time [in 1978], he put the photo on his campaign flyer with this message: ‘Baker sacked Y.A. Tittle, and he’ll sack crime the same way.’ “

— From “Pittsburgh Steelers: Men of Steel” (2006) by Jim Wexell