The story of Col. Joseph Shelby, the Overmountain Men and the Battle of Kings Mountain is well documented — less so the cigars named for him in the town named for him.
This ad appeared in the Danville (Va.) Bee on April 18, 1927: “Wanted: Responsible Salesman To sell Hava-Rexa, Champagne, and Colonel Shelby cigars to retailers. Attractive line; liberal commissions. Rex Cigar Co., Shelby, N.C.”
“Colonel Shelbys are growing in favor,” this pitch to dealers claims, but a Cleveland County history notes only that “After several years the business moved from North Carolina and smokers lost the pleasure of a local cigar.”
The “4 More” theme on this somewhat crowded convention badge linked the Clinton-Gore ticket’s bid for an encore in the White House with Gov. Hunt’s simultaneous run for his fourth and final term.
Reelection ruled. Hunt defeated Robin Hayes 56-43 percent. Nationally Clinton received only 49 percent — 44 percent in North Carolina — but that was enough because Ross Perot’s third-party candidacy kept Bob Dole from topping 41 percent.
“The RJ Reynolds Tobacco Co. created ‘Pride in Tobacco’ to promote this pro-tobacco culture and oppose tobacco-control policies…. through news releases, billboards and also materials such as bumper stickers, posters, window decals, baseball caps, stamps, and brochures….
“A 1978 Tobacco Institute newsletter stated that ‘RJ Reynolds “Pride in Tobacco” campaign won praise in four North Carolina newspapers.’ Examples are ‘Those of us in tobacco country have stood by in embarrassment and shame and have silently taken the abuse for too long. It’s time for us to tell our story’ (Greenville Reflector). The campaign ‘not only is appropriate, it is important to North Carolina’ (Goldsboro News-Argus). ‘The embattled tobacco community must unite in developing a counterattack to bolster its image’ (Wilmington Star). ‘North Carolinians have nothing to be ashamed about in the production of tobacco products’ (Franklin Times).”
— From “Tobacco-Control Policies in Tobacco-Growing States: Where Tobacco Was King” by Amanda Fallin and Stanton A. Glantz in the Milbank Quarterly (June 4, 2015)
Was the desperate clamor of “Pride in Tobacco” the death rattle of decades of North Carolina’s unenlightened self-interest?
Of uncommon origin (Japan) and material (rayon) is this showy souvenir from the Nation’s Safest Beach.
Cruising beneath the Spanish moss is the Lilly III, last of the lake’s fondly-remembered tour boats. It was decommissioned in 1995.
“No Carolinas train tour can omit quaint Hamlet, just east of Rockingham. It was here that the rails of the Seaboard Air Line crossed and headed into the four cardinal directions. At the turn of the 20th century, more than 30 trains a day paused on journeys to New York, New Orleans, Norfolk and Florida.
“ ‘Hamlet was like the Charlotte airport is today,’ says Miranda Chavis, who manages the rail museum beside the restored 1900 passenger station built in grand Queen Anne Victorian style. ‘Small town, big railroads.’
“It was one of the nation’s earliest tourist traps. There were seven hotels and many boarding houses for transferring passengers in the town nicknamed “Hub of the Seaboard.” Shops and restaurants catered to visitors. There was an opera house where tenor Enrico Caruso once performed. Lavish accommodations were to be found at the Seaboard Hotel, which fronted the tracks.
“Hamlet, pop. 6,000, is still a railroad town. Amtrak stops twice a day, and Seaboard’s successor railroad CSX has a massive switching yard just outside town. In front of the Hamlet station, the tracks still cross and trains constantly thunder through, attracting train watchers. In the book ‘Guide to North American Railroad Hot Spots’ by J. David Ingles, Hamlet is listed as the prime watching spot for train fans in North Carolina.”
— From “Love of railroads spans the Carolinas” by Mark Washburn in the Charlotte Observer (May 26, 2013)
Not every striking photo of Charlie Justice was taken by Hugh Morton. Credit for this one from 1949 belongs to the remarkably prolific magazine shooter Ozzie Sweet.
The cover story by Lewis Burton of the New York Journal-American promises “The Truth about Charlie Justice” but addresses only glancingly those “persisting rumors about fabulous sums his touchdowns command…. A distinctive feature of the whispers is that they discount the altogether mundane possibility that Charlie might actually crave a college education….”
“Generally,” Wikipedia explains, “soda jerks wore iconic white paper or cloth caps called ‘soda jerk caps,’ button-up shirts with a bow tie and an apron as their uniform….”
In 1932 the White Castle hamburger chain, headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, patented the style of paper hat worn by its employees and formed the Paperlynen Co. to manufacture them. Among Paperlynen’s many outside customers: Pepsi-Cola , Piggly Wiggly and Dwight D. Eisenhower’s 1952 presidential campaign.
The hatband inside this Cheerwine cap dates it as 1968.
“Born to Chinese parents in what is now Thailand, Eng and Chang Bunker became famous throughout the world as ‘Siamese twins.’ After years of being displayed at exhibitions, they settled in the mountains of North Carolina in the 1830s. They married two local sisters and had a total of 21 children.
“Adelaide ‘Alex’ Sink is the great-granddaughter of Chang Bunker. Sink was the chief financial officer of Florida from 2007 to 2011. She also ran for governor of Florida in 2010. She grew up in the Mount Airy home built by her great-grandparents Chang and Adelaide Bunker….”
— From ” ‘Siamese Twins’ Still Fascinate, Two Centuries Later,” a Tell Me More interview with Sink on NPR (June 5, 2013)
The North Carolina Collection includes holdings related to Chang and Eng Bunker and its Gallery includes a permanent exhibition on the Bunker twins.
“On June 13, 1903, Ambrose Jessup Tomlinson spent much time in prayer at the ‘fields of the wood’ in Cherokee County and had a revelation that the local Holiness church was the Church of God as prophesied in the Bible….
“In 1940, Tomlinson established a monument in Murphy at the site of his revelation. Before he died in 1943, he inscribed into the hillside in rock the ‘world’s largest Ten Commandments.’ The site today is a Bible park operated by the Church of God of Prophecy….”
— From This Day in North Carolina History
“Billy ‘Crash’ Craddock, born in 1939 in Greensboro, earned the nickname ‘Crash’ while a running back on his high school football team.
“The young, handsome Craddock was signed by Columbia Records to compete with Elvis. During 1959 he had a No. 1 record in Australia and was greeted there by screaming crowds when he toured with Bobby Rydell, The Everly Brothers, Santo and Johnny and the Diamonds…”
— From his biography at the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame
After his teen idol career stalled, Craddock made a successful transition to country. In 2003 Greensboro named a bridge after him.