Presesquicentennial backlash?

Weary of endless repercussions from a 1969 hurricane, a Mississippi legislator complained,  “Camille, Camille, Camille…. Sometimes I wish it had never happened.”

No doubt the coming sesquicentennial celebration commemoration will provoke similar responses about the Civil War. But before anybody gets testy about the sesqui — uh-oh, too late — let’s ground ourselves with a look back at Allan Gurganus’s evocative “The Ramada Inn at Shiloh” (first published in Granta 35, Spring 1991). He had me at the Ramada’s promise of “instant off-ramp battlefield access.”

It’s Literarily Cyber Monday

Literary Map of North Carolina

You’ve got the credit card out and you’re ready to do your holiday shopping. You’ve worked your way down the list. Blender for the margarita lover? Check. Leatherman for the handyman? Check. Wii for the kids? Ok, why not? But what should you buy for the dog-loving reader who can’t stop talking about his Tar Heel roots?

No need to take your hand off the keyboard (Okay, maybe you’ll need to click the mouse). Our colleagues at UNC-G have created a Literary Map of North Carolina (their site includes a few more writers than the map above, produced by the NC English Teachers Association in 1950). The rich, searchable database allows you to search in a host of ways, including the author’s hometown, the towns in which her works are set and the genres in which she writes.

Click on “Adventure Fiction.” Ah, yes, there it is. The perfect gift. John Sergeant Wise’s Diomed: The Life, Travels, and Observations of a Dog, (Truth be told, the book’s author was a Virginian and only a small bit of the plot is set in N.C. But when a Virginian deigns to mention the Tar Heel State we like to note it). Originally published in 1897, Diomed has just been reprinted. You’ll find it at your favorite online book retailer. And when the dog lover gives you a big wet smooch as a thank you for your gift, just remember who should really get the credit (no smooch required).

First tornado account predates Weather Channel!

“The first known mention of a tornado in pre-colonial America was in the diary of a member of the 1586 Roanoke landing party. On June 23, he recounts, as the fleet of Sir Francis Drake stood at anchor off the North Carolina coast, there arose a tempest characterized by awesome spouts — the manifestation of a tornado over water — of such violence as to cause all the ships to break loose from their anchors.”

— From “The winds of ruin” by C. W. Gusewelle in American Heritage, June/July 1978

Link dump doorbuster sale! (no stampede, please)

Surfboat is a-comin’.

— Was steamboat a-comin’ to white sand trail in Robeson County?

— Squirrel Nut Zippers pitch in for Cher.

— Remembering a black fireman‘s death in the line of duty in 1902.

Pop watch: Durham wrests fourth place from Winston.

— Jan Karon:  Mitford, R.I.P.

What wasn’t in a name: Anson’s ill-fated OK Boys

“After OK had been adopted as the name of a club by the Tammany boys in the presidential election of 1840, others happily follow suit….

“During the Civil War, there were OK Boys, at least in North Carolina. An 1867 narrative… by Augustus Woodbury says of the Confederate forces on Roanoke:

” ‘There were infantry and artillery on the island. There were the “Overland Greys,” “Yankee Killers,” “Sons of Liberty,” “Jackson Avengers,” “O.K. Boys” from North Carolina….’ ”

— From “OK: The Improbable Story of America’s Greatest Word” by Allan Metcalf (2010)

The women of Anson County sent off the O.K. Boys with a gorgeous flag, but it was lost early on to the 21st Massachusetts Infantry and has since fallen into dire condition.

‘Oh, your jeering methods, your hisses!’

“North Carolina’s Dry Senator Cameron Morrison threw the meeting [of the Democratic National Committee] into wild confusion with another loud speech….

“His attacks on Chairman [John Jacob] Raskob for injecting Prohibition into the meeting brought boos and hisses from the audience. Angrily he exclaimed: ‘Oh, your jeering methods, your hisses! But understand you’ll never tie the Democratic party down to death and destruction for lack of men who scorn your hisses and defy your unfair methods…. If the Democracy would cease this foolishness over liquor, we could go forward to a great triumph –‘

” ‘What have you got in your locker?’ cried a heckler.”

— From Time magazine, March 16, 1931

John Shelton Reed, mischief maker (the prequel)

“When John dropped out of high school to join the Navy, my father hunted him down and shipped him north [from Kingsport, Tenn.] to Deerfield and then to MIT, where he… orchestrated such pranks as planting a large cardboard missile from a military recruitment display nose-first in the floodlit MIT dome and then painting a crack down the dome as though the missile had crash-landed there.”

— From “Kinfolks,” a 2007 memoir by Lisa Alther, younger sister of John Shelton Reed, retired Kenan professor of sociology at UNC Chapel Hill

Sunday link dump knows how to swivel its hips

— Winston-Salem wowed by early look at Elvis.

— “If western North Carolina was so pro-Union, why didn’t more men join the Union army?”

— More guerrilla artistry from the city that brought us the Barrel Monster.

Susan Stamberg’s cranberry relish is so 1621. Count on Krispy Kreme to rescue your contemporary Thanksgiving fail.

‘Imperishable symbol’ of U.S.-German friendship?

On this day in 1932: At Asheville’s Riverside Cemetery, F.W. Von Prittwitz, German ambassador to the United States, dedicates a monument to 18 German sailors who died of typhoid while imprisoned nearby during World War I.

“Germany is happy to find herself in the same line with the United States when she advocates disarmament. . . . ” Von Prittwitz tells the crowd of several thousand. “May this monument stand as an imperishable symbol of the friendship between our two peoples and a mark of our determination to maintain it for all future to come.”

In less than a decade, however, Germans and Americans will again be at war.