Say, isn’t that Randall Jarrell on that pediment?

On this day in 1931: The world’s only actual-size replica of the Parthenon, constructed in Nashville in 1896 to celebrate the Tennessee centennial, reopens after extensive renovation and additions.

Newly depicted on a pediment is eight-year-old Randall Jarrell, who posed for the sculpture of Gunymede, cupbearer to the gods. Reads the inscription, signed by the sculptors and dated 1925: “To Randall — our most interested and interesting visitor.”

As an adult, Jarrell will become more prominently celebrated as literary critic for The Nation, poetry editor of the Yale Review and teacher at Woman’s College in Greensboro.

At age 51, he is fatally struck by a car while walking along a dark road in Chapel Hill.

3-ton statue weighs in for Meck Dec

Whatever your opinion of the long-disputed Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, this  bronze-clad sculpture of deliveryman Captain James Jack is  quite a piece of advocacy art.

I can think of two other examples of equestrian statues in North Carolina: Gen. Nathanael Greene in Greensboro and R. J. Reynolds in Winston-Salem. Are there more?

Welcome to Robbinsville….Just Move Along

“[My arrival in Robbinsville] became a news flash, received about the way a raiding party from outer space would be.

“Most perplexing was the number of people I tried to tell about my walk across America who wouldn’t believe me. Most thought it was a clever city-boy trick to cover up drug dealing…. Now I understood how people felt in Russia. Around every corner and behind every window, I was being watched.

“I should have stopped looking for a job and moved on. But I decided to be stubborn.”

— From “A Walk Across America” by Peter Jenkins (1979)

Jenkins’ resolve soon succumbed to the threat of lynching: “I was guilty for the crime of being a stranger,” he said later.  “A couple of law enforcement officers informed me that I needed to get out town by sundown or I would find myself hanging from a pine tree….  I got out of town.” (Jenkins had a better experience — much better — in Murphy, where he enjoyed a months-long stay with a black family who saw his arrival as God’s way of testing their hospitality.)


Bingham X And Bingham Y?

Do any Carolina grads out there remember “Bingham X” and “Bingham Y”? See the map above from 1958. I have to admit that I don’t know anything about these buildings, so if you have any recollection of them, please share with us on the blog.

While we are at it how about a rifle range on campus (look on Raleigh Street, near where Davis Library would be now)? Click on the map below to see a larger image.

‘You look just like anybody else’ (!)

“The year in Raleigh [1930, playing in the Class C Piedmont League] was an experience. At first I didn’t fit in.  I encountered more curiosity than hostility. My teammates were a bunch of farm boys, and I was a big, ungainly kid from the city. One day I was standing on the field when I became aware of a teammate walking slowly around me, staring.

” ‘I’ve never seen a Jew before,’ he said. ‘I’m just looking…. I don’t understand it. You look just like  anybody else.’

” ‘Thanks,’ I said.”

— From “Hank Greenberg: The Story of My Life” (1989)

The Bronx-born Greenberg went on to become the first Jewish superstar. For most of his career he played first base for the Detroit Tigers. In 1938 he hit 58 home runs,  threatening Babe Ruth’s record.

I’ll go with Greenberg’s autobiography, but for the record I’ve also seen this anecdote placed in Beaumont, Texas, in the 1932 season.

Remembering an early ear on civil rights

Death noted: Asheville native Jim Leeson, civil-rights-era journalist, May 3 in Franklin, Tenn. He was 79.

The New York Times obit centers on his historically-invaluable taping of a 1951 radio broadcast describing the scene at a black man’s public execution in Laurel, Miss., but a fuller account of Leeson’s life can be found at A Man in Full: Jim Leeson, 1930-2010.

Hat tip to blogger Tom Wood for verifying his friend’s Buncombe County roots.