— Every few years I’d get a phone call from Roy “Whitey” Grant to make sure the Observer was adequately recognizing the latest Briarhopper death. Now Whitey himself is gone, at age 92, and with him the most prominent link to the original string band that performed on WBT from 1934 to 1951. What a pleasure to have seen him rediscovered in his last years by the roots music movement.
As a nonacademic I’m unsure how to frame this question, but let me bumble ahead: Who these days is studying North Carolina as North Carolina?
Of the 23 U.S. History faculty at UNC Chapel Hill only Harry Watson and James Leloudis include North Carolina as a special interest apart from broader topics such as the South, civil rights and the Civil War.
Are there contemporary historians who still see the study of North Carolina as a calling in itself? Or have Bill Powell and H. G. Jones retired that trophy?
The celebrations include the re-dedication of the U.S. Federal Courthouse at 10:30 this morning. The building’s lobby has undergone a few changes, including the addition of a small exhibit space. And that’s where you’ll find 22 prints by New Bern native Bayard Wootten hanging. Those prints are produced from glass negatives in the North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives.
The prints were produced between 1910 and 1916, the period coinciding with the bicentennial of New Bern’s founding. The exhibit includes photographs of city buildings(both interior and exterior shots), as well as images of the city waterfront and railyard.
The photo above depicts the inside of Bradham’s Drug Store about 1913. Here’s what the exhibit panel says about the photo: Located on the ground floor of the Stanly Building, completed in 1913, on Middle Street at the corner of Broad Street was the “Broad Street Store” of the Bradham Drug Company. Caleb D. Bradham, inventor of Pepsi-Cola, used the store, which featured a decorative soda fountain, for retail sales.
Our friends at the New Bern-Craven County Public Library asked us to mention another fascinating exhibit that they’ve mounted in the Kellenberger Room. They’ve put on display documents, pamphlets and books illustrating the early history of New Bern and Craven County. Items include an original 1720 land patent for land along the Neuse River signed by Gov. Charles Eden and Thomas Pollock; the 1753 Custis Family Bible of New Bern; Abstract of the Army Accounts of the North-Carolina Line, 1794; the 1812 New Testament of the North Carolina branch of the DeGraffenried Family; and the sheet music for William Gaston’s The Old North State. They’ve sent us a link to more information on the library’s website. But they’re experiencing some web problems so the link may not work.
It’s not often you get to attend a 300th birthday celebration. Make sure you’re a part of this one.
“The VQR’s founding, in 1925, was in large part the work of a Wilmington native, UVa President Edwin A. Alderman. Ten years earlier, Alderman had called for ‘an organ of liberal opinion …’ (that’s as in liberal arts, not politics) ‘solidly based, thoughtfully and wisely managed and controlled, not seeking to give news, but to become a great serious publication wherein shall be reflected the calm thought of the best men.’
“Born in Wilmington on May 15, 1861 — Alderman Elementary School, off Independence Boulevard, is named for him — Alderman served as president of three major universities: Chapel Hill when it was THE University of North Carolina (1896-1900), Tulane, down in New Orleans (1900-1904) and Virginia (1904 until his death in 1931). He was actually the first president of UVa — Thomas Jefferson’s ‘academical village’ had always had a loose governance until he took over.”
“Not seeking to give news” seems an unlikely goal for a literary magazine, but maybe Alderman was prescient.
On this day in 1979: A Bob Timberlake exhibit at the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh brings protests that he is an illustrator and a promoter rather than an artist. One reviewer calls his work “a contrived world of plastic nostalgia.” Critics also contend Timberlake’s limited-edition prints fail to satisfy professional criteria.
The show draws huge crowds, however, and Timberlake’s standing as the state’s most popular artist is unshaken.
— Am I the only one left unenlightened by this compare-and-contrast of addled Gainesville preacher and martyred Gastonia striker?
— Theme of Sunday’s L.A. Times syndicated crossword puzzle: “The Long and Short of It — A long E sound in familiar phrases is changed to a short I sound and clued wackily.” 61 across calls for 21 letters meaning “Black gooey knolls near Charlotte”…. Get it?
The Beatles put “Penny Lane” in your ears. Gerry Rafferty took you winding down “Baker Street.” Bruce Springsteen hit you with a “10th Avenue Freeze Out.” And Simon and Garfunkel got you to slow down and feel groovy with their “59th Street Bridge Song.”
Now add J. Robert Wagoner to those hoping to move you with their music (Mind you, I’m steering clear of predicting how you’ll be moved).
Wagoner’s ode to Chapel Hill’s main drag includes some of the names you would expect — Thomas Wolfe, Mia Hamm and Michael Jordan. But there’s also mention of Kathrine Everett, one of the first female graduates of the UNC Law School and the first woman to argue and win a case before the North Carolina Supreme Court.
Kwame Nkrumah, the first president of Ghana and, apparently, a UNC student at one point, also gets a shout out. Wagoner mentions another African leader. I can’t make out his or her name. Can you?
Do you know any additional details on Wagoner? Are there other songs about North Carolina streets? Let us know.
[After Larry MacPhail of the Yankees made an offer to radio announcer Red Barber to leave the Dodgers, Branch Rickey made a counteroffer for him to stay.]
“I was deeply troubled that Rickey’s offer might be because MacPhail’s offer had put him on the spot, that in time he might regret having had to make such an offer. Sometimes in our needs a completely unplanned, unprepared, unrehearsed response breaks through.
” ‘Branch,’ I began, ‘down in North Carolina recently — in fact, the day my dad was to be buried — the kinfolks and friends from all around gathered at my aunt’s house. There were so many there they had to stand in the yard. They didn’t come to mourn, they just gathered like a clan, to sort of strengthen everybody. They just visited.
” ‘One fellow said to another, “Jim, what did you ever do with the piece of land you had down on the South Carolina line?” And Jim said, “I found me a willing buyer.” ‘
“Rickey got up from behind his desk, walked around to me, stuck out his hand and said, ‘I’m a willing buyer.’ ”
–– From “1947: When All Hell Broke Loose” by Red Barber (1982)
In 1954, after a contractual dispute, Barber did switch to the Yankees. Later in life he and Bob Edwards chatted weekly on NPR.
“…The luminaries of phone-book collecting [include] Gwillim Law, a computational linguist in [Chapel Hill,] North Carolina, who at one point possessed more than 3,500 outdated volumes. (He has since started selling them off.)
“Law was inspired to begin his collection by an interest in cover art…. He continued collecting because ‘I just enjoyed the possibilities for looking things up…..At one point, I did a study of what fast-food chains there were in Connecticut by looking at all of the Yellow Pages.’ ”
— From a Talk of the Town item in The New Yorker, September 13, 2010
Phone-book collecting actually ranks among the more conventional of Gwillim Law’s many pursuits. He is, for instance, the father of statoids — that is, “major administrative divisions of countries.”