The rise and long, hard fall of muscadine wine

More phrase-frequency charts from Google Books Ngram Reader:

— Chapel Hill vs. Raleigh and Durham

Variety Vacationland. Tourism promotion not a priority during World War II?

— Billy Graham vs. Jim Bakker. No contest, even during the glory run of PTL.

— North Carolina vs. South Carolina. South Carolina’s spike in the early 1700s roughly coincides with its becoming a royal colony.

muscadine wine. After 150 years out of favor — longer even than big band music! — still waiting for a comeback.

North Carolina was no place for all that jazz

“At the time I was making a reputation… I couldn’t go South….

“Greenville was a nice little country town… It became a university place  later, but it was not a place I could take my family. That’s a terrible thing to live with… and I guess John [Coltrane] and [Thelonious] Monk experienced some of the same things. We knew about people being lynched….”

—  The late Billy Taylor, recalling the North Carolina he and his fellow jazz giants left behind.

Quote from “John Coltrane and Black America’s Quest for Freedom, Spirituality and the Music,” edited by Leonard Brown (2010).

A link dump as spicy as bamboo pickles

— Never the twain shall meet — except in the Barbecue Battle Box.

— Appalachia without “feisty Grannies.

— Artist’s scissors await donated  Confederate flags.

— iPhone tosses lifeline to Cherokee language.

Bamboo pickles no longer a Wilkes County secret.

— Wilmington welcomes  “Blue Velvet” reunion.

— “We’re not a secret society. We’re a society with a few secrets.”

From Fort Bragg NCO club to Kennedy Center

“[In 1969] Merle Haggard…. introduced the newly penned composition to a live audience at the noncommissioned officers club in Fort Bragg, North Carolina. ‘It was a small club and the audience had been exceptionally dead,’ Haggard later told a reporter. ‘But then we sang “Okie,” and the whole place went berserk’….

“Besieged, Haggard stiffened…. Within a few seconds he relaxed, realizing the soldiers were merely rushing forward to shower him with handshakes and bear hugs. The next night at a show for the base’s enlisted men, an even more spirited uproar ensued, as eager soldiers hurrahed the song’s apparent excoriation of critics of the Vietnam War….

“[Later] audiences found contradictory and overlapping meanings… Haggard himself has [said ‘Okie from Muscogee’] offers… ‘about 18 different messages.'”

— From “Proud to be an Okie: Cultural Politics, Country Music and Migration to Southern California” by Peter La Chapelle (2007)

Merle Haggard is among recipients of this year’s Kennedy Center Honors (tonight at 9, CBS).

Antilynching bill: Step toward Reconstruction II?

“[North Carolina’s Josiah] Bailey became the first Southern senator to outline what he perceived as a dangerous aspect of the [1937] antilynching measure…. To him, it  represented the vanguard of a much larger movement aimed at dismantling Southern society.

” ‘I fear it, I dread it, I fight it, I argue against it because I know the moment it goes through the very men who put it forward will almost be compelled to go ahead with the old Civil Rights Act [of 1875]….

“Reconstruction all over again…. will destroy the South.’ ”

— From “Delaying the Dream: Southern Senators and the Fight Against Civil Rights, 1938-1965” by Keith M. Finley (2008)

The Civil Rights Act of 1875, passed in the waning days of the last biracial Congress of the 19th century, was not enforced, and the Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional in 1883. It contained many provisions — such as guaranteed access to public accommodations — that eventually were included in 1960s legislation.

Money’s to burn when you yearn for a churn

“The Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts in Winston-Salem, N.C., has focused for a few years on expanding its holdings of antiques from the western edge of the Southeast. In October the museum set an auction record for Kentucky pottery: at Case Antiques in Knoxville, Tenn., it spent $55,200 on an eight-gallon butter churn [scroll down to No. 229] with “Kentucky 1836” in blue script and the stamped name of the potter, Isaac Thomas. The piece, the earliest known ceramic vessel made in Kentucky, will be exhibited in a gallery about westward expansion, tucked between Kentucky cherry furniture and silverware.

“The auction estimate was $3,000 to $3,500, but the museum ended up in a bidding war with a private collector. The final price ‘caught us a bit by surprise,’ said the museum’s chief curator, Robert Leath, ‘but when you’re determined, you’re determined.’

“Mr. Leath added that the two-foot-tall churn was ‘a fantastic self-promoting object.’

“ ‘It’s really shouting out its identity,’ he said. ‘It tells you everything you could want to know about it, all in cobalt-blue decoration, on a monumental scale.’ ”

— From The New York Times (Dec. 23)

Although the Times rates the butter churn among “the year’s more intriguing auction lots” (along with a Roy Rogers saddle and a folk predecessor of the Monopoly game), the sale seems not to have merited a mention elsewhere — even on the MESDA site. C’mon, newspeople — historical significance aside, what reader wouldn’t be curious about a churn that cost more than a new Porsche?

Jonathan Daniels: Brickbats for Boswell

“If Harry Truman ever had a faithful Boswell, he was Jonathan Daniels, the even-voiced editor of the Raleigh, N.C. News & Observer (circ. 113,277). Daniels, briefly Truman’s press secretary in 1945, was always welcomed at the White House as a friendly reporter. The President read, and edited in galley proof, large chunks of Daniels’  ‘The Man of Independence.’

“Last week Presidential Press Secretary Joseph Short angrily denounced an article by Daniels in Collier’s which…  attributed to the President some recommendations for reforming Congress. Most notable: limiting tenure to 12 years. Daniels pointed out that such a limitation would lop off such Democratic pillars as Speaker Sam Rayburn….

” ‘That subject,’ said Short, reading from notes he and Truman had prepared together, ‘was mentioned a long time ago in a casual, joking way during a confidential conversation…. The President never has considered the subject seriously . . . The article is an entirely misleading distortion….’

“Stung at being called a bad reporter, Daniels snapped back: ‘I wish . . . Joe Short had consulted the White House files . . . Letters . . . will show that the article was not even undertaken until I had written the President, asked him if I could see him to get the story, and had a reply that he would be glad to see me . . .’ ”

— From Time magazine, April 16, 1951

Ervin on racial lawlessness: Silent Sam

“Sen. Sam Ervin found much to criticize in Gov. George Wallace’s [1963 ‘schoolhouse door’] face-off with the Justice Department, arguing that ‘such conduct seriously handicaps Southern senators in the fight against civil rights bills.’

“Nonetheless, Ervin, who had staked out a hardline position on integration early in his career, chose to keep these sentiments private. Like the more moderate J. William Fulbright before him, he would not… publicly condemn white lawlessness and through his silence helped to ensure it would continue.

“Ervin theorized that voluntary community initiatives to create an interracial dialogue offered the best means of diminishing tensions…. What he never admitted was that these very same communities had been granted decades of opportunities to right the most pronounced racial injustices in the region.”

— From “Delaying the Dream: Southern Senators and the Fight Against Civil Rights, 1938-1965” by Keith M. Finley (2008)

Link dump tips its green eyeshade to copy desks

— In Winston-Salem the first rough draft of history gets ever rougher. Cue the bagpipes.

— Literary world rocked by dispute over rights to “Me and My Likker.”

— Synergistic centennial in Denton: Last of furniture stores that doubled as funeral parlors?

— And it wouldn’t be Christmas in the Lower Cape Fear if you failed to “Close your flounder around the stuffing.”

What’s the frequency, Ngram Viewer?

The Google Books Ngram Viewer may not be remembered as one of the 21st Century’s most useful (or statistically sophisticated) inventions, but the patterns revealed in its phrase-frequency charts can be addictively entertaining. For example:

— Tar Heel vs. Tarheel

— beef barbecue vs. pork barbecue

— North Carolina football vs. North Carolina basketball

— University of North Carolina vs. Duke University

— Research Triangle vs. Bermuda Triangle and isosceles triangle