Happy 70th to Kannapolis’s founding father of funk


“When talk turns to great musicians born or raised in the Carolinas, a name that rarely comes up is George Clinton, the godfather of funk and architect of today’s rock and hip-hop.

“To be sure, Clinton, who was born in Kannapolis [on July 22, 1941], didn’t begin blending doo-wop and rock with his early band the Parliaments until his family moved to New Jersey…. But Clinton’s childhood in this gospel-rich area of North Carolina surely had an effect on the music that was playing in his impressive brain — at least as much of an effect as the Carolina in James Taylor’s mind.”

— Rock critic Mark Kemp in The Charlotte Observer (Aug. 15, 2003)

Pictured: A pinback button from the collection promoting Clinton’s 1993 single “Paint the White House Black.”




William Peace University…A New Name and…Men?

Breaking news from WRAL:

Under new name, Peace College will admit men as students

In honor of the change, I thought we’d share a few items from our collection on the soon-to-be-renamed institution in Raleigh:

Click here for more Peace postcards.

In addition, here’s a commencement invitation from 1883.

Let’s all go to the lobby… to take ourselves a quiz

1. True or false: The 1962 movie “Cape Fear” (remade in 1991) was modeled on a true N.C. story.

2. In 1940 only two U.S. cities with populations over 100,000 prohibited Sunday movies. One was Knoxville, Tenn. What was the other?

3. The movie “Cold Mountain,” set in the N.C. mountains, was filmed mostly in what country?

4. Although best known as a Pulitzer-winning playwright and creator of the outdoor drama “The Lost Colony,” Paul Green also worked as a Hollywood screenwriter. A line he adapted for Bette Davis in “The Cabin in the Cotton” (1932) she called her favorite. What was it?

5. True or false: Actor Robert De Niro once appeared as a beauty pageant emcee in a Duke Power commercial.

6. Both shot and set in North Carolina, it was chosen in 2003 by Sports Illustrated as “Greatest Sports Movie” of all time – what was it?

7. True or false: Until “Birth of a Nation” — the movie version of Thomas Dixon’s “The Clansman” — it never occurred to the Ku Klux Klan to burn crosses.
Check back tomorrow for answers…. And here they are!

1. False. It was based on novelist John D. MacDonald’s “The Executioners,” set in a lakeside town in upstate New York. Gregory Peck, who owned rights to the book and would star in the movie, chose the name off a map of the Eastern seaboard because he liked the sound of it. (Location shooting was done in Georgia, not North Carolina.)

2. Charlotte

3. Romania

4. “I’d like to kiss you, but I just washed my hair.” Green picked up the line from the novel of the same name by Harry Harrison Kroll.

5. True. De Niro was discovered for the role while performing at the Matthews Dinner Theater in 1967. His big break in movies didn’t come until six years later in “Bang the Drum Slowly.”

6. “Bull Durham.”

7. True


Link dump pleads no contest to serial plagiarism

The best hot dog in Wilson

Postcard of Dick's Hot Dogs
It’s lunch time as I write, so I’m thinking with my stomach. And my stomach is wishing that it and the rest of my body was in Wilson. Today’s Raleigh News and Observer features a mouth-watering article about one of Wilson’s culinary treasures. Sadly, work keeps me here in Chapel Hill today. But the next time I’m on the road in Wilson County, I plan to check out Dick’s Hot Dog Stand.

The postcard above and the three photos below (from Wilson Public Library and available to you via the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center website) provide you with a look at Dick’s inside and out.

Unfortunately we don’t have a photo of the secret to Dick’s longevity. You’ll need to check out the N&O’s image gallery to see a Dick’s hot dog.

Time to eat!

Whites could watch Dizzy (but, please, no dancing)

On this day in 1945: A dance and show at the Charlotte Armory features the Nicholas Brothers and 27-year-old Dizzy Gillespie (who is still playing a conventional trumpet — his famous upturned bell will result from a serendipitous 1953 mishap).

Admission is $1.50 – “white spectators, 75 cents.”

Nothing could be finer than to be a ‘fambly’ in ‘Cah’lina’

“When mornings get nippy, as they must even in Carolina, and black Emma swings along the road, kitchenwards, and sees a glint of frost on the rail fences, then some lucky family in ‘Cah’lina’ is going to get meat pie for dinner.

“And such a meat pie! Big, deep, steaming — with a flaky, brown crust crimped so becomingly on its circumference and pierced twice in the center….

“You serve it invariably, as black Emma’s ‘fambly’ has found out, with Heinz Tomato Ketchup….”

— “Miss [Josephine] Gibson, of the Home Economics Department, H. J. Heinz Company,”  quoted in an ad in the Delineator magazine (October 1930)

However acclaimed, Emma seems not to be the woman depicted serving the meat pie.

Mencken: Charlotte no place for ‘a civilized man’

“When [Edgar Lee] Masters did leave [New York] to reunite with his estranged wife and moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, [H.L.] Mencken said that he could not imagine how a civilized man could remain content in such a town.”

— From “Mencken: The American Iconoclast” by Marion Elizabeth Rodgers (2005)

In fact, Masters seems to have been reasonably content during his residence  (1944-45)  in Charlotte. In his mid-70s and well past his creative and physical prime, the author of “Spoon River Anthology” lived in the Selwyn Hotel with his wife, head of the English department at Charlotte Country Day School,  and son, a student at Davidson College.

“We have everything we need here,” he wrote friends. “There’s good food in the hotel restaurant downstairs. I spend the day reading or working. Ellen… can bring me any book I want from the library…. The beds are fine and we have good sleeps.”

Addendum to Artifact of the Month

This newspaper article mentioned in the July Artifact of the Month post contains the transcript of a letter written by Union Private Samuel Patton to his wife, Nellie. Published in The Wooster Daily Record in Ohio on January 20, 1938, Patton’s letter includes many observations and details about his surroundings in 1863 central southern Tennessee. To make the letter easier to read, we have transcribed it below:

July 5, 1863

Dear Nellie,

I sit down once more to write you a few lines, not knowing when I will have an opportunity to send a letter, but I can write it and put it in the post office and when a wagon train goes to Nashville it will go with it. I wrote you a few lines in a hurry the other day but I don’t know whether it went or not, it was dated July 1, but it makes but little difference at any rate as General Rosecrans issued an order on the 22nd of June prohibiting the mail from being taken out of his department for fifteen days.

On the morning of the 22nd we started out at daylight to drill an hour or so as usual before breakfast, when we received order to pack up immediately, get our breakfast and be ready to move. We soon after started in the direction of Murfreesboro, our brigade taking the advance. It is customary to let the brigades each take their turn in the advance, and then the next day fall back in the rear and let the next take the lead. The first day we saw nothing of the enemy, but the next day we turned south, and about 10 o’clock the frequent discharge of artillery announced that our advance had stirred up the enemy. We kept slowly advancing all day though the road had been rendered extremely muddy by the heavy rain, which had commenced to fall in the morning. The firing became quite rapid toward evening but had nearly ceased at dark. An occasional shot was heard, however, until about midnight when we camped for the rest of the night on a flat piece of ground which resembled a swamp more than anything else. The rain poured down in torrents all the rest of the night. We got up at daylight to find the ground nearly covered with water. We ate our breakfast, wrung the water out of our blankets and started forward again. About 10 or 11 o’clock we reached the pike that leads from Murfreesboro to Shelbyville and about eight or ten miles south of the former place. It had continued to rain all morning and when we reached the pike we camped to await further orders, Gen. Rosecrans having moved out on another road with his main army. We stayed there a day or two and then again moved forward, this time on the pike toward Shelbyville. Immediately after starting, skirmishing commenced, and increased as we advanced. About 5 o’clock our cavalry drove them out of their entrenchments and pursued them to this place, by which time the enemy were falling back in great confusion, thinking, no doubt, that the whole of Gen. Rosecrans’ army was at their heels. Here the cavalry made a general charge, driving them before like a flock of frightened sheep.

The panic was complete. Our cavalry captured their stores, five hundred prisoners, and a battery of artillery. Large numbers of them were drowned in attempting to swim Duck river, while others crowded the bridges, pushing each other off into the water, 20 or 25 feet below. The citizens say the scene was one that beggars description. Gen. Bragg in his hasty retreat was compelled to leave his private carriage and retreat on horseback, though it is said his health is so poor that he looks like a ghost. The carriage is built in the style of those used by the ‘upper ten’ in large cities and probably cost about a thousand dollars before the war commenced. It was built in New York City. I took off one of the silk curtains from one of the windows, wrapped it in a newspaper, and sent it to you by mail. I should like to know if you get it.

The citizens say that the rebels claimed to have 60 or 70 thousand men here, but that they don’t believe that he really had more than 20 or 25 thousand. Gen. Bragg had his headquarters at this place, had built very extensive fortifications on the pike about three miles north of the town on the road to Murfreesboro. An immense amount of labor had been expended on them but they were abandoned on our approach almost without striking a blow. Gen. Rosecrans is still after Bragg, who at last accounts was straining every nerve to get out of his reach. His men are deserting him at every opportunity. When the rebels left here, a number of conscripts concealed themselves in the houses of their friends and thus got away from the rebel army. I have seen a number of persons who it is said have been concealed in the woods for six months to escape the rebel conscription. Most of the citizens of this place are Union, and many of them have friends in Gen. Rosecrans’ army. Some of the boys were diving in the river a day or two ago to get guns lost there by the rebels in crossing, and one of them found the rebel mail bag. It was filled with letters written home by their soldiers. They were of the most gloomy character. Most of them seem to have little or no hope of the ultimate triumph of the South. They say they must finally submit and they sooner they do so the better, as they are bound to be whipped in the end. They tell their families that they cannot send them any money nor can they get away to go home to do anything for them. In fact, they seem to see nothing ahead but want and the certainty that their families will sooner or later become beggars or be reduced to starvation. How men can fight with such a future staring them in the face, and from which no good can possibly result to them from it, is more than I can imagine.

The people here say that by the time Gen. Bragg crosses the southern boundary of Tennessee, he will have lost one third of his army by desertion, but such predictions are to be taken with considerable allowance, but still I know large numbers of them desert whenever an opportunity offers. But one thing I think can be relied on, and that is our armies in the west will not be allowed to fool away any more time this summer, notwithstanding the ill success of our army in the east I have more hopes of a speedy termination of the war than I ever had before. Bragg may be retreating to some stronghold in the south where he hopes to fight Gen. Rosecrans and have all the advantages on his own side, but I have the utmost confidence in old ‘Rosa.’ The rebels have been in the habit of calling him ‘the dog Rosecrans.’ I think before they get through with him they will find he combines the qualities of the bulldog and bloodhound with the cunning of the fox. I think he will fight Bragg as long as Bragg has the vestige of an army.

Everything here has been selling at extravagant prices, calico at from three to four dollars per yard, coffee six dollars per pound and everything else in proportion. I saw a man today wearing a pair of shoes that he said he paid $45 for. They would cost about two dollars and a half in the North.

The Fourth of July passed off very quietly here. There was no demonstration at all to remind an American of our national birthday. We had camped outside of the town but moved in yesterday and took up our quarters in a large three story brick building. The lower story had been used for a store, but our boys occupy the entire building from the counter to the lower shelf behind it. On these we spread our blankets and in short, so far as appearance goes, live quite aristocratic for soldiers. I received a letter from you on the 4th, dated June 18. I had not received any for some time, I believe the last one before that was dated the 6th or 7th of June, but perhaps it was well enough I didn’t get any before, for if I had known Minnie was sick I should have been very uneasy.

Morning, July 6. A train of wagons starts for Nashville this morning. It was the 23rd instead of the 22nd of June we started from Trynne. I can’t tell you when we will leave here, but will write again the first opportunity I have. I got my paper and envelopes wet on the march. This is written on some paper I confiscated. I managed to get enough I think, to do me until the war is over.

Your husband,

Samuel Patton

The donor of the July Artifact of the Month and the great-grand-nephew of Samuel Patton, Dr. William H. Race, and I recently noted that Bragg’s Tullahoma campaign coincided with the battles at Gettysburg and Vicksburg, leading to a true turning point in the war; however, unfortunately for Patton and the other soldiers, the war would still continue for nearly two more years.