Favorite 2008 Campaign Ephemera

In October, we asked our loyal readers to send us the political mailings that were filling their mailboxes, along with buttons, posters, and whatever else the candidates put out. Y’all came through! We received over 700 pieces of campaign ephemera. Thank you. Between now and Inauguration Day, I want to share with you a few of my favorites. This selection is subjective in the extreme. These are items that caught my eye based on the image, or how an issue was framed, or the humor. Don’t read politics into my choices—this is more a popular culture exercise than a political one.

So, today, here is my third most favorite:

It’s all about the dog. Who won’t be stopped in his tracks by this image? This is one of the best visuals on any mailing that I received. It would have been higher up on my list of favorites if the dog pictured was a Plott hound, our state dog, rather than a bloodhound. I know that the bloodhound is universally recognized as a tracker, but the failure to use our state dog tipped me off to the fact that the group that produced this card was “not from around here.” We like our political mailings homegrown. (The mailing came from Change to Win, a pro-labor advocacy group based in Washington, DC.)

Check back on Tuesday and Thursday next week for my choices for runner-up and best ephemera from the 2008 elections.

Local Dog Makes Good


He’s no Broadway Joe, but the Plott Hound will be seen around Manhattan this week. The Plott Hound has been the North Carolina State Dog since 1989. This week the breed makes its debut at the 132nd Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. The show is taking place today and tomorrow at Madison Square Garden. The best of the Plott Hound competitors will be chosen in judging at noon today. The best of the breeds compete against each other in the group competitions over the next two nights, with the grand champion of the show selected tomorrow night. The USA Network and CNBC are carrying the evening judging. The Plott Hound is known as a quick-foot, tenacious hunter rather than an over-groomed lap dog, but if our big dawg proves to be the star of the Hound Group, who knows what’s next–the role of arm candy for Paris Hilton?

Models of Sewing Instruction

The North Carolina Collection recently received as a gift the sewing model book created by Helen Bales when she was student at the Home Industrial School in Asheville in 1898-1899. Helen was studying to be a teacher at a time when it was expected that common schools would teach young girls how to sew.

Miss Bales had to demonstrate that she could teach over a dozen types of stitching. Her samples are presented one to a page. On the facing page is a handwritten explanation of the materials employed and the likely uses of the stitching style. Some pages also include verses to read to the children as they stitch. Here is one such verse imposed on the model for an apron:


Helen Bales’ excellent model book was graded at 95%. After finishing her education, Helen Bales married Bruce Slaughter and taught school in Robbinsville, Graham County, North Carolina.

A Little More about Bones McKinney

Many people remember Bones McKinney as the coach of the Wake Forest men’s basketball team, a post he held from 1958 to 1965. That’s no small claim to fame, but Bones may be part of a more select club–a person with ties to all the “Big Four” Tobacco Road basketball programs. Here’s the story: Bones grew up within sight of Duke’s east campus. His Durham High School basketball team played some of its home games on the Duke campus (first at Card Gymansium, then later in the newly-opened Cameron Indoor Stadium). Four of Bones’s teammates (Gordon Carver, Bob Gantt, Cedric Loftis, and Garland Loftis) later started at Duke. McKinney chose not to go with his Durham High pals to Duke, but instead went to North Carolina State where he played for two seasons. World War II interrupted Bones’s college career. When he came back he spurned the Red Terrors (as NC State was then known) for UNC. He enrolled at UNC in January 1946 and played on the team that went to the Final Four that year. After that season, McKinney left college ball for the NBA.

Santa came early


The North Carolina Collection got an early Christmas present this year when two friends of the collection, Snow and Ben Roberts, brought us a copy of Don’t Buy Me Any Green Bananas. I have been looking for this book for at least a decade. As a coach at Wake Forest (1958-1965) and with the ABA Carolina Cougars (1969-1971), McKinney was known for his colorful personality and showmanship. He channels that same zaniness in this collection of his newspaper columns as he expounds on such topics as traveling with family, personal ads by senior citizens, and ticket distribution for NCAA tournament games.

Our Favorite Grandad

Although Grandfather Mountain has not achieved the iconic status that the Old Man of the Mountain had for citizens of the Granite State, we Tar Heels do have a special place in our hearts for our geological grandfather. Images of Grandfather Mountain are widely available, including on the North Carolina Collection’s postcard site, but do you know that the mountain also inspired a poem? Two, in fact. “The Legend of Grandfather Mountain” was written by Henry E. Fries and published by the Charlotte Observer Publishing House in the mid-twentieth century. A more obscure piece, “A Tribute to the Grandfather,” recently came to my attention when it appeared in manuscript form in this lovely keepsake.


Media synergy in the last century


With the advent of the Web, we’ve grown used to newspapers supplementing their print product with interactive and continually updated websites. The advantages of this expansion into a new medium are obvious–the websites are places to provide more information and to offer it in forms that the print page doesn’t permit. It’s all pretty neat, but it turns out it’s not that new. We recently received a copy of the third edition of the International Radio News Map. This 1943 map shows the world at war with military bases, ship sizes, aircraft types, and nations colored-coded to show political alliances. It was distributed by WBIG Radio in Greensboro so that their listeners could follow war news broadcast by the station.

Curious, But Not Truly Weird


As was mentioned in an earlier post, the North Carolina Collection Gallery was included in the new book North Carolina Curiosities. Sadly, not even the presence of a copy of Napoleon’s death mask was enough to get the Gallery included in Roger Manley’s, Weird Carolinas. Maybe because Manley’s book includes both Carolinas, the competition was just too great.

Despite this snub to our great Gallery, the University here at Chapel Hill did merit inclusion in Weird Carolinas. Like so many other people, Manley was taken by the story of the unsuccessful UNC applicant Peter Dromgoole and the secret society that built its meeting place, Gimghoul Castle on the site of his fatal duel.

A Soldier’s Tale

Just as the nation was embarking on the the current wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, North Carolinians were reminded of the conflicts, hot and cold, of an earlier era. Charles Robert Jenkins, a soldier from Rich Square, North Carolina, disappeared while patrolling the DMZ in Korea in 1965. Nothing was heard of him again until 2002 when his Japanese wife and four other Japanese kidnapped by the North Koreans were allowed to visit their homeland. Jenkins did not accompany his wife, in part because the North Koreans were using him and their two daughters as hostages to force Mrs. Jenkins to return, but also because Jenkins feared extradition to the United States to face a court-martial.

The case of the Jenkins family became a cause célèbre in Japan, where there was much sympathy for Mrs. Jenkins. North Carolinians were not of one mind on Mr. Jenkins. Was he a deserter, or someone victimized by the North Koreans–or both? Two years of media attention and diplomatic activity produced a resolution. Mr. Jenkins went to an American base in Japan and admitted to a court-martial that he deserted because he feared being sent to Vietnam. The court showed mercy, giving Jenkins a short sentence. He and his family retired to his wife’s hometown in Japan where Jenkins wrote his autobiography, which was published in Japan in 2005. The North Carolina Collection now has a copy of that work, Kokuhaku=To Tell the Truth. If you can’t read Japanese, check back in 2008, when the University of California Press will be publishing an English language edition of the autobiography under the title The Reluctant Communist: My Desertion, Court-Martial, and Forty-Year Imprisonment in North Korea.

From Asheville to Budapest

In the “36 Hours in Budapest” article in the travel section of last Sunday’s New York Times (August 12, 2007), I found a surprise reference to a talented Tar Heel. It seems that one of the chic new hotels on the banks of the Danube contains the work of Donald Sultan, who is Asheville born and a UNC-Chapel Hill alum (Class of 1973). The Art’otel’s website touts not just the presence of Sultan’s artworks but also his contribution to the style of the hotel. The Art’otel is now on my list of places to visit when I am in Budapest next spring. Perhaps if the works of more Tar Heel artists pop up in this lovely old city, I can call my trip work-related!