‘I don’t want to be Hugh Hefner, just Derick Daniels’

I never met Hugh Hefner, but in 1979 I interviewed Derick Daniels, the Raleigh newspaper scion tapped by Hefner to shape up sloppily-run Playboy Enterprises.

“Hefner — the vicarious experience — is our most important promotional product,” Daniels told me in his Chicago office.  “It’s a helluva lot more productive than taking out ads in the Wall Street Journal touting ourselves. But I couldn’t stand the lack of privacy that goes with having your life promoted that way….

“I don’t want to be Hugh Hefner, just Derick Daniels.”

Being “just Derick,” however, wasn’t exactly a commitment to the piety so prominently espoused by his grandfather Josephus. When Derick Daniels died in 2005, at age 76, Frank Daniels Jr. recalled that his cousin had been attracted to Playboy “because it had the three things in the world he enjoyed the most: drinking, gambling and women. You scored pretty well with all three with Playboy.”


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.

Race distinction vs. race discrimination — a fine line indeed

“North Carolina has a law that white and Negro children shall not attend the same schools, but that separate schools shall be maintained. If the terms for all the public schools in the State are equal in length, if the teaching force is equal in numbers and ability, if the school buildings are equal… then race distinction exists but not a discrimination….

“If scientific investigation and experience show that in the education of the Negro child emphasis should be placed on one course of study, and in the education of the white child, on another, [then] it is not a discrimination to emphasize industrial training in the Negro school and classics in the white school. There is no discrimination so long as there is equality of opportunity….”

— From “Race Distinctions in American Law” by Gilbert Thomas Stephenson (1910) 

“Separate but equal” had been approved in Plessy vs. Ferguson (1896) and would remain the law of the land until Brown vs. Board of Education (1954).


Legislature hasn’t always valued mission of UNC

[George Tayloe] Winston‘s accomplishments [as president of the University of North Carolina, 1891-1896] were impressive, especially at a time when the university was unpopular in some powerful political circles and among influential religious leaders, who insisted on a halt to public funding for higher education.

“These opponents of the state university… contended that it was not the public’s responsibility or the state government’s role to educate the masses beyond grade school, that only a few people could benefit by an education beyond elementary school, and denominational schools could better educate men for Christian leadership. Despite this serious and highly vocal opposition, Winston was ultimately successful in convincing the state legislature to continue its appropriations to public institutions of higher learning….”

— From Winston’s entry by Neil Fulgham in the Dictionary of North Carolina Biography


What name belongs on Pack Square’s obelisk?

“Now that New Orleans has toppled its statue of Robert E. Lee, Asheville should take a hard look at the man we honor in our city’s most prominent public space….

“[The name of] Zeb Vance, North Carolina’s Civil War governor, is carved into the granite obelisk rising above Pack Square….

“Bringing down the monument has symbolic appeal, but it would be politically difficult and may not be necessary. After all, it is not a statue of a man but a simple spire that could be rededicated to a new cause.

“For a start, the city could place, near the monument, a historical marker that gives an unflinching account of Zeb Vance’s life and legacy. Another plaque detailing the city’s African-American heritage could be added as well.

“And then I’d propose that the city rename the obelisk.

“With the simple addition of two letters, the Vance Monument could become the Advance Monument….”

— From “The Advance Monument: A proposal for Asheville’s Vance problem” by Mark Essig in the Asheville Citizen-Times (June 3)

This wouldn’t be the first time Vance’s name had become part of an Advance.



A 1925 lynching for which 10 men went to prison

“in 1925 a mob of white men broke into the Martin County jail and removed a young Jewish man named Joseph Needleman, who had been accused of raping a local woman named Effie Griffin.

“They had carried him to the cemetery at the Skewarkey Primitive Baptist Church, where they castrated him and left him for dead.

“Needleman barely survived his wounds. He stumbled into town to find help and somebody rushed him to a hospital in Washington, N.C., for emergency surgery. A grand jury later found him innocent of rape, but another jury convicted 18 of his assailants and sent 10 to prison….”

— From “In Skewarkey Cemetery” by David Cecelski at davidcecelski.com (Aug. 31) 

Though much less publicized, the Needleman lynching unavoidably echoes the Leo Frank case in Atlanta a decade earlier.


Plagiarizing Maya Angelou: Height of flattery (or gall)?

“The poet Ira Lightman stared at his laptop screen in disbelief. Could it be true?… He’d just made a routine visit to the Facebook group Plagiarism Alerts. There, a woman named Kathy Figueroa had posted something extraordinary: ‘It appears that one of Canada’s former poet laureates has plagiarised a poem by Maya Angelou’…

“How likely was it that a poet laureate would steal anything at all, let alone a keystone work by a modern legend? How could he think he’d get away with that?…”

— From ” ‘Plagiarists never do it once’: meet the sleuth tracking down the poetry cheats” by Will Storr in The Guardian (Sept. 9)


There’s church, there’s state and there’s Billy Graham

On this day in 1971: H.R. “Bob” Haldeman, chief of staff for President Nixon (referred to as “the P”), writes in his diary about evangelist Billy Graham:

“This afternoon the P got into a little harangue on IRS investigations, saying that he had been told by Billy Graham that the IRS is currently investigating him. . . . The P wants now to be sure that we get the names of the big Democratic contributors and get them investigated. Also the Democratic celebrities and so forth.”

The entry is one of many that portray Graham, longtime counselor of presidents, in a more political than spiritual light. Haldeman also reports Graham’s being used as an emissary to potential rival George Wallace and former President Lyndon Johnson and discussing with Nixon “the terrible problem arising from the total Jewish domination of the media.”


Sherman hauled off plenty, but he did leave this verb

“Writing her reminiscences, a North Carolina woman affectionately recalled her cousin Ann, who had lived through the war, then in her later years had become a garrulous terror to the unwary. Having once survived a visit by Yankee bummers, the old woman thereafter, to her dying day, was ‘never better entertained than when set to Shermanize a stranger.’ ”

— From “The Destructive War: William Tecumseh Sherman, Stonewall Jackson, and the Americans” by Charles Royster (2011)

Not surprisingly the verb “Shermanize” seems to have originated in Atlanta, where a century or so later a Confederate-themed restaurant would prepare steaks “Shermanized (burned to a crisp), Lincolnized (warm, red heart), and Stonewalled (rare).”


Why there’s an Oregon on the East Coast

On this day in 1846: A hurricane punches through the Outer Banks into Pamlico Sound, creating Oregon Inlet (named for the first ship to pass through, the sidewheeler Oregon) and Hatteras Inlet.

Before the storm, Cape Hatteras was joined to Ocracoke Island.