Check out what’s new in the North Carolina Collection

Several new titles just added to “New in the North Carolina Collection.” To see the full list simply click on the link in the entry or click on the “New in the North Carolina Collection” tab at the top of the page. As always, full citations for all the new titles can be found in the University Library Catalog and they are all available for use in the Wilson Special Collections Library.

Doc Watson: Remembered in Words and Images

Arthel Lane “Doc” Watson died Tuesday evening in Winston-Salem. He was 89. A native of Deep Gap, N.C., he was considered by many as one of the world’s best flatpick guitar players. He was known for his devotion to family and to the land of his birth, Watauga County in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Watson is also remembered for his wry sense of humor and warm rapport with fans.

Doc Watson at dedication of Linville Viaduct
Doc Watson performs at dedication of the Linn Cove Viaduct in September 1987. Photo by Hugh Morton.

I don’t care one thing about travelin’….I’d just as soon stay at home and have to go to work in the morning and come back in the afternoon. But the thing of it is the music.

They say that behind every man that’s successful there’s gotta be a good woman, and it’s very true in my case….When I was on the road working hard to try to bring in a few dollars–when the pay wasn’t very high–Rosa Lee was here working, growing a big garden, raising two kids. Without her help, knowing that I could depend on somebody, I could never have made it.

Doc Watson, quoted in The Charlotte Observer, August 10, 1979

Doc Watson, Merle Watson and others
Doc Watson (second from right), son Merle Watson (left) and others (likely family members). Photo by Hugh Morton.

You know it’s our duty to develop what we’ve got. I needed to earn a living for my family and I knew how to play. One good thing that happened to me, when I was a boy about 13 my daddy put me on the other end of a crosscut saw. I didn’t realize it then, but it was an asset. It gave me the knowledge in my head that I wasn’t worthless because I was blind. I didn’t have to set in the corner.

Watson quoted in The Independent, 1983

A man’s ability to communicate with people from the stage is not something you manufacture, son. It’s something you’re born with. It’s a talent God gave you.

Watson quoted in The Charlotte Observer, 1979

Doc Watson (center) with Billy Graham (left) and Joseph M. Bryan (right) at North Carolina Awards, 1986
Doc Watson with Billy Graham (left) and Joseph M. Bryan (right) at North Carolina Awards, 1986. Photo by Hugh Morton

Let me ask you. Do you know the difference between a northern Baptist and a southern Baptist? Well, a northern Baptist will talk to you all quiet and say,’You know there really is no hell,’ and a southern Baptist will look right at you and say,’The hell there ain’t.’

Watson, quoted in The Independent, 1983

I’ve always told them that I’d like to quit the road while I was still able to carry in a stick of firewood or something and do a little chore around here or something and not kill myself on the road.

Watson, quoted in The Charlotte Observer, April 24, 1988.

Watson was scheduled to perform at the North Carolina Museum of Art on June 30 as part of a daylong symposium in his honor. Organizers have not yet announced updated plans.

Doug was a Dillard, and Doug was a Darling

Death noted: Banjo picker Doug Dillard, at age 75 in Nashville. Although Dillard wasn’t a North Carolinian — he was born in Salem, Mo. — the one he played on TV played a key part in the bluegrass music revival of the 1960s.

Dillard was a founder of the band bearing his surname — except on “The Andy Griffith Show,” where they became the mute but musical Darlings.

One of the Darlings’ songs mentioned but apparently not played was “Tow Sack Full of Love.”



On 124th Birthday of First Belk Store: Where’s Belk?

On May 29, 1888 William Henry Belk opened a dry good store in his hometown of Monroe. Although the store was originally known as New York Racket, the name was changed to Belk Brothers in 1891 when John Belk, an Anson County doctor, joined the company. The business grew as the Belk brothers partnered with other businessmen and opened stores in downtowns throughout the Carolinas and beyond. In the 1950s, a second generation of Belks took over the company and, in recognition of changing consumer shopping habits, guided the department store chain as it migrated from downtowns to suburban malls.

We remember downtown Belks with the postcards below. Can you find the Belk store in each?

Postcard of downtown Monroe  with Belk in foreground

Postcard of downtown Waynesville with Belk store

Postcard of downtown Charlotte with Belk store

Postcard of downtown Dunn with Belk store

Postcard fo downtown Fayetteville with Belk store

Postcard of downtown Kannapolis with Belk store

Postcard of downtown Lincolnton with Belk store

Legislators, lobbyists and liquor: A front page to remember

On this day in 1957: The News & Observer of Raleigh runs seven front-page photos of liquor lobbyists furtively unloading crates of their goods at the Hotel Sir Walter, home away from home for most lawmakers, and of bellhops distributing bottles of bourbon and Scotch.

The expose ends the longtime practice of legislators receiving free liquor.


‘Coed Quota’ ensured room for returning GIs

“Some of the clearest messages… concerning their perceived status as ornamental husband-hunters…. came from the admissions offices of leading Southern institutions like the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which established a ‘Coed Quota’ of 1,000 in 1946 in order to accommodate more male veterans and announced that ‘additional student body increases in the next few years will be made by men students.’

“A policy of restricting female admissions to ‘especially well qualified’ applicants remained in force until overturned by federal law in 1972.”

— From “Remaking Dixie: The Impact of World War II on the American South” (1997), edited by Neil R. McMillen


Remembering UNC’s War Dead

Postcard of Memorial Hall, UNC-Chapel Hill
Memorial Hall was the University of North Carolina’s first monument to graduates killed in war. Occupied in 1885, the building honored the University’s Civil War dead as well as David Lowry Swain, who served as the University’s president from 1835-1868, and others who served the University. Memorial Hall was the first building erected on campus after the Civil War. It served as an auditorium, chapel and gymnasium. The walls featured marble tablets listing the names of war dead and others who served the University. A total of 287 UNC graduates died during the Civil War.

By the 1920s Memorial Hall’s interior wood trusses had decayed, leading University officials to declare the building unsafe. Its Victorian Gothic architectural style was also considered outdated. Consequently, the building was demolished in 1930 and a new one, in the Colonial Revival style, constructed in its place. The marble tablets were moved to the new building, and both the tablets and the building remain today. There’s more on Memorial Hall and other campus buildings in the North Carolina Collection Gallery’s exhibit A Dialogue Between Old & New: Notable Buildings on the UNC campus.

A total of 716 UNC alumni have died in military actions that span from the War of 1812 through Vietnam, Bosnia, the Persian Gulf, Iraq and Afghanistan. Their names are included on The Carolina Alumni Memorial in Memory of Those Lost in Military Service, which sits between Memorial and Phillips halls. The UNC General Alumni Association has created an online database with the names and biographies of the war dead.

NC’s Stuart Cramer Coins “Air Conditioning”

Portrait of Stuart Cramer
Willis Haviland Carrier may get credit as the first to devise a system for simultaneously cooling, dehumidifying, circulating and cleansing the air. But it’s a Tar Heel, Stuart W. Cramer, who coined the term to describe the system. Cramer delivered a talk on “Recent Development in Air Conditioning” at the annual conference of the American Cotton Manufacturers Association in May 1906.

We’ve got more on Cramer and air conditioning in our latest This Month in History. Check it out.

Only Tar Heels said ‘tow sack’? Who knew?

“Expressions  common to all parts of the state [but] not current  in Virginia or South Carolina — real Tarheelisms — are exceedingly scarce. These two words may perhaps be so regarded: tow sack and biddie!

“Tow sack for a burlap sack is in general use throughout the state and very little outside its boundaries….

“The chicken call biddie! widdie!, though used in New England and on Delamarvia, is nevertheless characteristic of North Carolina….

“The expression He lay (or laid) out of school, which is current in all except the northeastern part of the state, has certainly been disseminated from the North Carolina piedmont, down the Cape Fear and Peedee and up into the mountains…. ”

— From “A Word Geography of the Eastern United States” by Hans Kurath (1949)