Who was North Carolina’s last man standing?

The widely noted death of Frank Buckles made me wonder: Who was North Carolina’s last surviving veteran of World War I?

Depending on how strictly you define “North Carolina’s” and “World War I,” he seems to have been either

David Samuel “Tex” Little,  born in Catawba but moved to Texas after the war and died in Jackson, Wyoming, at age 103 in 2006. He trained troops at Ft. Dix, New Jersey, and didn’t make it overseas. Or…

Robert Hodges, born in Bath and died in New Bern, at age 115 in 2003. He served in France.

The digital evidence on this distinction doesn’t inspire my confidence. Maybe the North Carolina Division of Veterans Affairs can provide something more authoritative.

If it’s not in today’s link dump, you don’t need it

— A visceral provenance indeed: The staircase where Harriet Jacobs was beaten.

— The hoopla for “The King’s Speech” gives cause (were any needed) to look back at the insightful and unblinking work of Durham’s Barry Yeoman, e.g.,  “They Called him B-Biden” and “Why My Stutter Makes me a Better Reporter” and “Wrestling with Words.”

— From the farthest front, 77 accounts by North Carolinians at Gettysburg.

— Jock Lauterer’s latest A Thousand Words selection, from Dorothea Lange, depicts  74-year-old Caroline Atwater in the doorway of her Orange County log home on July 1, 1939.

Just wondering: Might she be kin to Anthony “Shine” Atwater of “Reet and Shine,” the  inexplicably uncelebrated dual biography by Michael Schwalbe? (Ranking one-two worldwide in frequency of the Atwater surname: Chapel Hill and Durham.)

— ” ‘Hush puppies don’t have sugar in them,’ she stated categorically.”

Remembering a Tar Heel in John Brown’s Raid

State and local officials unveiled a highway historical marker recognizing the life of Lewis Sheridan Leary in Fayetteville yesterday. Leary was among the 21 men who joined John Brown in the raid on Harpers Ferry on Oct. 16, 1859. Leary was born in Fayetteville in 1835. The son of free blacks, Leary worked with his father, a saddle maker, until moving to join family in Oberlin, Ohio at age 21. In Oberlin Leary became heavily involved in the abolitionist movement, which had a large following there. Leary was recruited by John Brown Jr. to join the raid on Harpers Ferry. He and two other men, one of them Raleigh-born John A. Copeland Jr., were assigned to seize a rifle works. They did, but then were surrounded by militia. Leary was shot multiple times as he and his partners fled. He died about 10 hours later.

Little is known about the treatment of Leary’s North Carolina relatives when word of his participation in Brown’s raid reached North Carolina. Year later, during Reconstruction, his father and older brother served as Cumberland County commissioners. Another brother, Matthew, was one of the founding trustees of what would become Fayetteville State University. And Leary’s youngest brother, John Sinclair Leary, earned a law degree and was one of the first blacks admitted to the bar in North Carolina. John Sinclair Leary also served in the N.C. legislature and later founded and served as the first dean of Shaw University Law School.

The North Carolina Civil War Sesquicentennial website (by our friends at state Archives and History) features an informative essay on Tar Heels at Harpers Ferry. The NC Highway Historical Marker program’s essay on Lewis Leary is also a must-read (you’ll have to search for Leary among the Cumberland County markers).

The world measures itself against North Carolina

As an attention-grabber, it’s hard to match “There’s a meteor the size of North Carolina heading straight for Earth!” But screenwriters aren’t the only ones to make the state their yardstick of choice….

“Panama is about the size of North Carolina.”

— internationalliving.com

“Ecuador… is about the size of North Carolina.”

— rampant-books.com

“Scotland is about the size of North Carolina.”

— prostrakan-us.com

“Italy is about the size of North Carolina.”

— solidpapers.com

Roumania is about the size of North Carolina.”

— “Carpenter’s Geographical Reader: Europe”

“Switzerland, about the size of North Carolina…”

— “A Nevada Local Government Perspective of European Nuclear Waste Management”

“About the size of North Carolina, Montenegro….”

— iwp.edu

“Anbar, which is about the size of North Carolina….”

— USA Today

“The country of Georgia… about the size of North Carolina.”

— Georgia biodiversity analysis update team, USAID

“Twenty-five centuries ago and a tough and gifted people [the Greeks] lived on a peninsula about the size of North Carolina.”

— Life magazine

“In aggregate, [American] lawns would cover an area about the size of North Carolina.”

— Poughkeepsie Journal

“More than 32 million acres of tropical forest are destroyed annually…  an area about the size of North Carolina.”

— Stanford News Service

“The southern U.S. alone is projected to lose 31 million acres of forest, an area about the size of North Carolina.”

— SC Business blog

“Ford will govern a rubber plantation in Brazil larger than North Carolina.”

— “Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford’s Forgotten Jungle City”

“Oaxaca borders the Pacific coast and is slightly larger than North Carolina.”

— “Zapotec Inheritance”

“England is smaller than North Carolina.”

— “Words from the Countryman”

Who can ever forget Vandermint Auditorium?

1. “Vandermint Auditorium, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.”

2. “There’s a meteor the size of North Carolina heading straight for Earth!”

3. “When I think of Orville and Wilbur Wright standing on a hill at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, tossing a coin to see which one would take the first airplane flight… and then I think of us here today….”

4. “Charlotte, North Carolina, you’re on the air with Christof.”

5. “Jim here teaches at the University of North Carolina and is writing a book about the criminal dishonesty, corruption, paranoia and abuses of power of Richard Nixon.”

6. “I’d like to introduce the latest addition to  the KVWN News Team, directly from WYPN in Asheville, North Carolina, Ms. Veronica Corningstone.”

7. “Well, the teacher asked me what was the capital of North Carolina. I said, ‘Washington, D.C.’ ”

8. “It was Notre Dame over North Carolina…. son of a bitch.”

Eagled-eyed readers of North Carolina Miscellany have no doubt detected the pattern here — but can you identify the movies from which these lines are taken?

I’ll append the answers to this post Friday….

And now — with a histrionic hat tip to subzin.com — the envelope please….

1. “This Is Spinal Tap”(1984)

2. “Rat Race” (2001)

3. “The Right Stuff” (1983)

4. “The Truman Show” (1998)

5. “Frost-Nixon” (2008)” Jim is James Reston Jr.

6. “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy” (2004)

7. “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby” (2006)

8.  “Back to the Future II” (1989)

A link dump even more instructive than usual

— How Charlotte got to be CHARLOTTE (while somehow retaining an amazing microhabitat or two).

— How Asheville came to host its first  flash mob pillow fight (while still honoring its more traditional pastimes).

—  How a covered wagon from Rowan County ended up on the second floor of a restaurant in New Washington, Indiana.

— How Benny from Lexington became “the old man” on “Pawn Stars.”

— How North Carolina lost  — to Ohio! — its official unofficial state  “ready-to-eat spiced sausage treat.”

One-term president less likely to become king?

“….We shall at some time or other have a king; but no precaution should be omitted that might postpone the event as long as possible — ineligibility a second time appears to be the best precaution. With this precaution I would go so far as a 10 or 12 year term.”

– North Carolina delegate Hugh Williamson, as quoted in “Constitutional Chaff: Rejected Suggestions of the Constitutional Convention of 1787,” compiled by Jane Butzner from the notes of James Madison, et al. (1941)

Lizard Lick Makes It Big…If You Watch truTV

Even though I currently live in Wake County, I’ve never ventured out to Lizard Lick, a crossroads community in eastern Wake County. I’ve always wanted to say that I’ve been there…or at least through there. Little did I know, however, that I could be magically swished away to Lizard Lick by simply switching on truTV’s “Lizard Lick Towing and Recovery,” which comes on truTV on Monday nights at 10 p.m. Take a look at it next Monday night and let me know what you think.

Just in case you were wondering…according to The North Carolina Gazetteer, Lizard Lick was named “by a passing observer who saw many lizards sunning and “licking” themselves on a rail fence here.”

P.S….someone just reminded my that the Raleigh News and Observer had an article about Lizard Lick Towing recently. You can read it at: http://www.newsobserver.com/2011/01/31/958027/lizard-lick-towing-the-tv-show.html#storylink=misearch

R.I.P., Buddy Lewis: Big bat, bad glove, long life

John “Buddy” Lewis, onetime Washington Senators slugger, died last week in his native Gastonia.

At 94 Lewis was the 11th oldest living major league baseball player — and the only one whose career had begun before 1936. (Second-oldest: 98-year-old Clarence “Ace” Parker, Duke’s two-sport star.)

Lewis’s chronic weakness was fielding. Before the Senators exiled him from third base to right field, he committed a jaw-dropping 140 errors over four seasons. But at the plate he was a menace from the get-go — at the age of 24 only Ty Cobb had recorded more career hits.

World War II cost Lewis nearly four seasons of his prime. He flew more than 350 cargo missions “over the hump” in India.

After the war he came back strong — starting in the 1947 All-Star game alongside Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio — but retired after the ’49 season to concentrate on his Gastonia Ford dealership.

He seems also to have been the last remaining player to witness Lou Gehrig’s “luckiest man on the face of the earth” farewell speech in 1939.

Depicted: This cheaply made tab-style button from the collection was a candy or gum premium, circa mid 1930s. It’s probably coincidence that the odd, open-mouthed image of Buddy Lewis  suggests he’s desperately searching the sky for a pop fly, but….

And here are his baseball cards from 1939 and 1940 and 1941.