“At the very least, we can definitively trace the term to 1937, when it was used in a popular song. It is likely that Cackalacky’s etymology runs much deeper, however….
“It may have arisen from a kind of sound-play utterance used to refer to the rural ways of people from Carolina — a play on the pronunciation of the state. Another hypothesis is that Cackalacky was derived from the Cherokee term tsalaki, pronounced ‘cha-lak-ee,’ the Cherokee pronunciation of Cherokee. Yet another hypothesis traces it to a cappella gospel groups in the American South in the 1930s, who used the rhythmic (but apparently meaningless) chant clanka lanka in their songs. Derivations related to the German word for cockroach (kakerlake) and a Scottish soup (cockaleekie) have also been suggested….
“Certainly the popularity of Cackalacky has risen in the last decade, and it has now become a positive term of solidarity used throughout the state. We favor the sound-play etymology for Cackalacky, but we are honesty just venturing our best guess….”
Francis J. Hale, co-founder of the UNC Parachute Club, recently dropped in with July’s Artifacts of the Month. Hale, Class of 1973, organized the Club in 1969 with fellow student Bob Bolch. Not surprisingly, the University did not easily warm to the idea of its students jumping out of airplanes. Hale recalls “The athletic department wanted nothing to do with us. I nagged the devil out of them, until I finally got some old warm up suits from the swim team.” Undaunted by the University’s lack of enthusiasm, the Club designed suits, acquired equipment, and thrived. Members were soon winning trophies in regional contests with other parachute clubs.
Army regulations were looser back in those days and Club members were allowed to jump with the 18th Corps Sport Parachute Club at Fort Bragg and later the Green Beret Parachute Club. According to Hale, UNC Parachute Club members didn’t spend too much time at Fort Bragg, but hanging around the seasoned soldiers there opened their eyes “a little too wide.”
Also included in this gift is a helmet with camera, a t-shirt with logo designed by team member Canda Sue Reaugh, a logo pendant, and, most priceless of all, the stories Hale told us about his experiences as a student. Understandably, Hale is holding onto his Parachute Club jacket, which, like his 1969-1973 jumpsuit, still fits!
“I’d spent most of the day in the archives of the Southern Folklife Collection at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where a patient young archivist named Aaron Smithers had played me a stack of Blind Blake 78s….
“Despite most [78 rpm record] collectors’ contentious relationship with academia and with archives in particular, many still posthumously bequeath their records to institutions rather than burdening their already strained estates with thousands of pounds of shellac. The Southern Folklife Collection’s curator, Steve Weiss, estimated that nearly 95 percent of the SFC’s holdings were sourced from private collections….
“Interestingly, Weiss was grateful for collectors’ contributions not just to the archive he oversees but also to the broader notion of folklore as a viable academic pursuit — a field that didn’t really blossom until the 1950s and ’60s…. ‘They really have preserved the music, and they’ve promoted the music,’ he said. While there was sometimes tension between collectors and academics, there was symbiosis, too.”
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.
“Ringgold, Ga., has a mayor who’s one generation removed from the Civil War.
“Joe Barger’s grandfather — that’s right, his grandfather — Jacob A. Barger served as a private for the South in North Carolina’s infantry. Mayor Barger grew up in Salisbury, N.C., about 35 miles north of Charlotte.
” ‘He was born in 1833,’ Barger said. ‘So it’s 96 years’ difference between when he was born, and I was born.’
“The births were spaced that way because both Barger’s grandfather and father married younger women after their first wives died.
“Being the grandson of a Civil War soldier is so unusual, the 84-year-old mayor said, that when he tells people about it, ‘I don’t think they believe me.’ ”
“If you have any oyster shells lying around, the U.S. Army wants five dumptrucks’ worth. You don’t even have to include the delicious oysters inside. And they’re willing to pay up to $15,000 for them.
“That’s the gist of one of the stranger U.S. Army Corps of Engineers contracts in recent memory. Last week, the Army put out a call for the empty shells — specifically, shells that have been ‘shucked and air dried,’ ready for transportation. There was, intriguingly, no additional detail….
“But it turns out the shells are destined for the southeastern corner of Roanoke Island, N.C. abutting Wanchese Harbor. That’s where the Army Corps of Engineers has a marsh creation and restoration project. There’s no military value to the enterprise; it’s part of the Corps’ longstanding civil works and environmental mission. To complete it, the Army needs 4,000 bushels of oyster shells.”
“On February 18  Wilson and his daughters and his Cabinet gathered in the East Room for the first running of a motion picture in the White House [“The Clansman,” later retitled “The Birth of a Nation.”]
” ‘It was like writing history with lightning. And my only regret is that it is all so terribly true,’ Wilson purportedly said when the lights came up. In fact, Wilson almost certainly never said it. The encomium does not even appear in the unpublished memoirs of the self-serving Thomas Dixon. The only firsthand record of Wilson’s feelings about the film appear in a letter three years later, in which he wrote , ‘I have always felt that this was a very unfortunate production and I wish most sincerely that its production might be avoided, particularity in communities where there are so many colored people.’ … Another member of the audience that night reported that the President seemed lost in thought during the film and exited the East Room upon its completion without saying a word to anybody….
“The comment did not appear in print for more than two decades. In any case, word of a White House screening circulated, and that was tantamount to a Presidential endorsement.”