“There was no escaping the irony of his last great endeavor. The young [Frederick Law] Olmsted had ridden this part of North Carolina in 1854 as a decrier of aristocracy and proponent of state-aided uplift of the masses. He’d returned to the region to end his career designing the grounds of a 250-room French-style chateau, the largest private home in the nation.”
— From “Spying on the South: An Odyssey across the American Divide” by Tony Horwitz (2019)
More about Olmsted in North Carolina here. And there’s even a statue at the North Carolina Arboretum.
“Channel 7 has had three broadcast towers over the years in Grifton. The original one of 919 feet was the tallest in the market at the time. It was replaced in 1961 with a 1,549-foot tower, and then in 1978, the current 2,000 foot structure was erected.”
— From “WITN History: A Look At How We Began In 1955” at witn.com
How proud did the Greenville station feel about that 1,549-foot tower? Proud enough to label it “The High and the Mighty” — and to point out its supremacy to the Empire State Building (1,454 feet), the Eiffel Tower (1,063 feet) and the Washington Monument (555 feet).
“At some point in the early 1820s, [the pirate Jean] Laffite pulled a disappearing act…. Did he die of a fever in Mexico? Did he die in one of his many raids along the Central American coast? Or did he, to escape his many enemies, make his way to a village called Lincolnton… to live out his days under the nom-de-guerre of Lorenzo Ferrer and be buried in the cemetery of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church?”
— From “Jean Laffite Book Sheds Light On Mysterious Pirate” by Thomas Lark in the Lincoln Herald (Feb. 12)
“Peter Stuart [sometimes Stewart] Ney, a teacher from Rowan County, is said to have made a deathbed confession that he was, in fact, Napoleon Bonaparte’s most trusted commander, Marshal Michel Ney. Marshal Ney was rumored to have escaped execution in 1815 and fled to America….
“However, researcher William Henry Hoyt amassed conclusive evidence that the true Marshal Ney did not escape the firing squad. He also found an 1820 application for citizenship filed by Peter Stuart Ney in South Carolina and a record of his baptism in Scotland….”
— From “Peter Stuart Ney Confesses to be Napoleon’s Closest Aide” (North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources blog)
“History never repeats itself. But it rhymes.”
— Mark Twain (perhaps)
“Textile workers asked Congress today to pass laws that would upgrade state compensation for disabled employees with brown lung and other occupational diseases.
“The Carolina Brown Lung Association believes federal legislation is necessary because state compensation laws are not working and the textile industry is using its power and money to fight claims.
–– From “Textile Workers Press for Upgraded Brown Lung Compensation” by Janet Staihar of the Associated Press (March 26, 1980)
“The Charlotte Observer today won the 1981 Pulitzer Prize for meritorious public service for its series on brown lung disease….
“Industry and government responded with anger and resistance, but changes occurred…. By the end of 1980, textile workers in North Carolina had received a record $4 million in workers’ compensation for brown lung — more than the total paid in the previous nine years.”
— From “Charlotte (N.C.) Observer wins Pulitzer” by UPI (April 13, 1981)
“What few people know is that the South wasn’t always so segregated. During a brief window between the end of the Civil War and the turn of the 20th century, black and white people lived next to each other in Southern cities, creating what [Charlotte] historian Tom Hanchett describes as a ‘salt-and-pepper’ pattern.
“They were not integrated in a meaningful sense: Divisions existed, but ‘in a lot of Southern cities, segregation hadn’t been fully imposed — there were neighborhoods where blacks and whites were living nearby,’ said Eric Foner, a Columbia historian and expert on Reconstruction. Walk around in the Atlanta or the Charlotte of the late 1800s, and you might see black people in restaurants, hotels, the theater, Foner said. Two decades later, such things were not allowed.”
— From ” ‘Segregation Had to Be Invented’ “ by Alana Semuels in The Atlantic (Feb. 17)
“The swinging bridge was one of two options when [Hugh] Morton decided to get visitors from the gift shop-museum parking lot to the rocky overlook. ‘We had to have some way to get them across, and we could either have a stationary bridge or a swinging bridge,’ he said. ‘We decided the swinging bridge would be more fun, and would make a good conversation piece.’
“Some 30 percent of women visitors, and a smaller percentage of males, however, think it best not to cross the bridge.”
— From the Greensboro Daily News (Oct. 1, 1978) via A View to Hugh
“The mystic Herman Husband had perhaps the furthest-reaching vision of American democracy. Having grown up a pampered and willful child on his parents’ Maryland plantation, he [later became] an abolitionist and apostle of nonviolent protest. By the 1760s he was living in the western wilds of North Carolina, a full-time activist against the creditor class and the corruption of government.
“Because Husband was both land-rich and a democratic idealist, he served as a bridge between the truly poor and the landowning class that could vote. His neighbors elected him to the North Carolina assembly in the provincial capital of New Bern, where he spoke so uncompromisingly against the corruption of the assembly that he was repeatedly jailed. Soon he was a leader of the North Carolina Regulation, an uprising that took over court towns, roughed up officials and tore down buildings. Husband tried to moderate the violence, but by the time the royal governor sent in troops, he was a marked man; he fled on horseback right before the Battle of Alamance…. In the grip of biblically inspired visions, Husband began developing and writing down his plans for a unified American nation founded on egalitarian principles.
“The national plan that Herman Husband devised does not resemble the U.S. Constitution written in 1787. It resembles the New Deal of the 1930s, the Great Society of the 1960s, and measures yet to be achieved even now….”
— From “Our Chief Danger: The story of the democratic movements that the framers of the U.S. Constitution feared and sought to suppress” by William Hogeland in Lapham’s Quarterly (Fall 2020)
” ‘Lizard Lick Towing’ makes ‘Jersey Shore’ look like a Martha Stewart episode.
“Drawing its name from the nearby crossroads community about 20 miles east of Raleigh, Lizard Lick Towing & Recovery is the enterprise of Ron and Amy Shirley…
“Wendell’s Chamber of Commerce isn’t trumpeting the news of a cable show being taped in its precincts, and the antics of the stars can’t be expected to pull many viewers off PBS.
“But for the low-falutin’ crowd, it’s the place to be. Brawls, bash-ups and a tow truck, too — too good to be true. And after a few minutes, you’ll doubt that is.”
— From “Out of Lizard Lick, something tasteless” by Mark Washburn in the Charlotte Observer (Feb. 12, 2011)
“Lizard Lick Towing” is long gone from cable, but this oddball, perhaps homemade wooden plaque remains. And so does the business itself.
“The stock market crash in 1929 was met with a run on banks by depositors who wanted to pull their money out because they didn’t trust that it would be there later. In response, President Franklin Roosevelt, just two days after taking office, ordered all banks across the country to close for three days to allow the public’s mood to calm down. Off the beaten track, East Carolina Bank [also known as the Bank of Engelhard] remained open because bank officials didn’t receive the order until after banks were reopened….”
— From “The bank of Engelhard finally closes its doors” by Sandy Semans Ross in the Outer Banks Voice (May 25)
Details on North Carolina’s banks that did close.