Were slave’s descendants ‘duped’ by honor?

“I believe it matters that the descendants of a slave have been duped into believing that their ancestor somehow served as a soldier or was acknowledged in some official capacity within the army.”

— From “SCV Butchers Another Slave’s History” at Civil War Memory (Feb. 16, 2012

Kevin Levin’s criticism of a marker honoring Aaron Perry, a Union County slave who accompanied his owner into the Confederate army, attracted quite a string of comments.


Gardner had his eye on ‘the wealth of New England’

On this day in 1944: Former Gov. O. Max Gardner, a Democrat, enjoys himself in a letter to the president of Massachusetts’ Pepperell Mfg. Co., a Republican, on the occasion of FDR’s reelection:

“I thought about you around midnight November 7th when the first glimmering results came in from Massachusetts, and I had no difficulty in recognizing that you were again in the minority..

“We are going to start on this glorious Fourth Term on a wider and more complete distribution of the wealth of New England, starting with you and terminating at Shelby, North Carolina, by way of Washington, D.C.”


Artifact of the Month: World War II ration book

“If you don’t need it, DON’T BUY IT.”

It sounds like the advice of a frugal mother, but during World War II those words were issued from the federal government to all Americans on the home front. It was only seventy years ago that U.S. citizens were asked to be judicious in their shopping, driving, and eating habits in an effort to conserve resources and support the war effort.

The government managed rationing by providing Americans with ration books like this 1943 example, which is our November Artifact of the Month.

The cards here include an “A” gasoline ration, which entitled the holder to four gallons of fuel, and a “B” ration — a supplemental mileage ration issued to citizens whose work on the home front supported the war effort in some way.

ration cards

The restrictions on driving were intended to conserve fuel, but more importantly they served to address a shortage of rubber. Most of the world’s rubber came from Southeast Asia, where rubber plantations were occupied by Japanese forces. Less driving meant less need to replace tires. In addition, Americans were asked to turn in any scrap of rubber they didn’t need, including old tires, raincoats, and garden hoses.

ration book instructions

This ration book belonged to Albert McKinley Coates and Gladys Hall Coates, who established UNC’s Institute (now School) of Government in 1931. Mrs. Coates’ occupation is listed in the ration book as “housekeeper,” a title that belied her contributions both to the Institute of Government and to the study of UNC history. (Because of her research and writing on University-related topics, a University history lecture series bears her name.)

ration cards

World War II at UNC-Chapel Hill

The ration book represents just one way in which World War II changed the lives of a nation and a town. This Sunday, the Chapel Hill Historical Society will present a talk that looks more deeply into the war as it played out locally.

In honor of Veterans Day, former UNC University Archivist Janis Holder will talk about the University’s contributions to the war effort and how WWII transformed the campus, particularly with the establishment of the Navy Pre-Flight School.

This free, public event takes place from 3:00 to 5:00 at the Society Office, 523 East Franklin Street (lower level of old Chapel Hill Museum building). A reception will follow the program. See the attached flyer (PDF) for more information, or call the Chapel Hill Historical Society at 919-929-1793.

Celebrate National Pickle Day with one of these treats!

“Lime Pickle Cucumbers”

“Game Pickle” from High Hampton Hospitality.

“Bread and Butter Pickles” from Good Eatin’ from Duke Memorial United Methodist Church, Durham, North Carolina.

“Artichoke Pickle” from Soup to Nuts: A Cook Book of Recipes Contributed by Housewives and Husbands of Alamance County and Other Sections of State and Country.

“Green Tomato Pickle” from The Charlotte Cookbook.

“Mixed Pickle” from Dixie Dishes.

“Quick Squash or Cucumber Pickles” from Buffet Benny’s Family Cookbook: Recipes, Stories & Poems from the Appalachian Mountains.

Charlotte Businessmen Enjoy Thanksgiving Feast for the Ages on 1911 Trip

I found this impressive Thanksgiving Day menu in the December 3, 1911 issue of The Charlotte News. The feast was served to a group of Charlotte businessmen who traveled to Savannah as guests of the Indian Refining Company, which was engaged at the time in applying “liquid asphalt binder” on the macadam roads in and around Charlotte. A longer description of the trip, and the road-building process, was in the December 2, 1911 paper.

The menu begs lots of questions. Has anyone ever had a “Liquid Asphalt Cocktail”? What’s in a “Southern Salad”? Are any NC Miscellany readers planning to include “Young Opossum” on their Thanksgiving tables?

“I asked her name. ‘Madonna,’ she replied….”

In 1978, Richard Maschal of the Charlotte Observer visited Durham to cover the American Dance Festival. In a class of leotard-clad students, he recalled later, “One stood out.  She had a beautiful face, the image, I immediately thought, of a Renaissance madonna….We sat on a bench, and I asked her name. ‘Madonna,’ she replied…. She seemed remarkably self-possessed for a teenager and incredibly self-absorbed….

“She [said] she found the styles of dress in Durham stodgy and conservative. She had a rather low opinion, too of the clubs and other sources of entertainment….”

Could Madonna have found Durham so boring that she would choose Charlotte over the Triangle for her first-ever tour stop in the Carolinas? Surely not!


Obama re-election re-energizes N.C. secessionists

“We petition the Obama administration to:

“Peacefully grant the State of North Carolina to withdraw from the United States and create its own NEW government….”

— From We the People: Your Voice in Our Government

At last check, North Carolina was one of 21 states to have post-11/6 secession petitions listed on the White House’s We the People site.  The North Carolina petition has attracted 18,082 signatures  — still far behind the total for the former Lone Star Republic.

I was surprised how many of these petitions have attracted support from nonresidents. Are they hardcore expats, who have changed their addresses but not their state loyalties? Or might they be of the “Better Off Without ‘Em” school?


Think there’s nothing new in UFO stories?

“Mark Schultz’s News & Observer colleague John Frank calls this ‘the BEST lede ever,’ and others agree. ‘Totally restored my faith in the snarky wonder of journalism,’ tweeted Khadijah Britton.”

— From “ ‘Peeing in his compost’: Best newspaper lead ever?”   at jimromenesko.com (Nov. 12)


Carbine Williams’ ‘collision of inventive thoughts’

On this day in 1926: Firearms inventor David Marshall “Carbine” Williams, imprisoned at Caledonia Farm, writes his mother:

“I am not in a writing mood. I am at present under stress of an unusual type of blues caused by a collision of inventive thoughts on a certain subject in my mind that is hard pressed to solve with other thoughts that come in, in the form of a most lonesome mood. Inventive thoughts in themselves to me are serious, and when other thoughts far more serious and of a most lonesome nature bombard each other at the same time in one small head [it] generally gives me the blues.”

While in prison for second-degree murder of a revenue agent in a raid on a moonshine still in Cumberland County, Williams develops — with the warden’s permission — the M1 carbine that will be used by 8 million soldiers during World War II.

His invention wins him a pardon from Gov. Angus McLean in 1929. In 1952 Jimmy Stewart will portray him in the movie “Carbine Williams.”


Research Triangle Park offers first change in plans since 1959

Image from Master Plan for Research Triangle Park
Research Triangle Park leaders unveiled plans today to update “mom and dad’s research park.” The 68-page document lays out steps for denser development of the park and the creation of a wider range of amenities. The plan is a response to concerns that there is little land left for development in the 7,000 acre park and that RTP lacks restaurants, shops and other services for its employees. As the News and Observer reports, the update is the first change to the master plan since legislators approved the development of research park in 1959.