Today over on the DigitalNC blog we’re sharing 10 examples of North Carolina student protests, beginning with the historic Woolworth’s lunch counter sit-in on this date in 1960 and continuing up to 2012.
The North Carolina Digital Heritage Center is located in Wilson Library and works closely with the North Carolina Collection. We’ll occasionally be cross-blogging some posts that North Carolina Miscellany readers may find interesting.
If your web browsing has included perusal of yearbooks or newspapers from North Carolina colleges and universities, then you likely have seen the work of the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center. Its mission includes scanning and publishing online materials from cultural heritage institutions throughout North Carolina. The center and its hardworking staff are headquartered in Wilson Library, here in Chapel Hill. And this month the Digital Heritage Center is celebrating a milestone. It just added its 200th partner institution. And those partners extend across 119 communities in 73 counties.
Earlier this week, we ran across a New York Times article about Ida O’Keeffe, the younger sister of artist Georgia O’Keeffe. Intrigued by the mention of some time spent teaching in North Carolina, we did some investigating of our own. O’Keeffe taught art at Pembroke State College (now University of North Carolina at Pembroke) during the 1941-1942 school year.
A course catalog suggests O’Keeffe taught not only drawing and painting but also weaving, basketry, and art appreciation. She’s featured in the 1942 yearbook Lumbee Tattler as the art professor and as advisor of the art club. We don’t know exactly how long O’Keeffe was at Pembroke, but by 1945 a different art professor is listed.
The U.S. Navy Pre-Flight School at UNC was about a year old when Cadet Ted Williams arrived in Chapel Hill in May 1943. The campus was the second stop in his year long effort to earn the wings of a Marine aviator. As Williams biographer Leigh Montville writes, Williams and his Boston Red Sox teammate Johnny Pesky had already spent several months at Amherst College in western Massachusetts in a civilian pilot training program, logging time in the classroom learning about navigation, radio code and aerology and in the cockpit mastering flight in Piper Cubs. Pesky described the duo’s time on the UNC campus as “like basic training.”
Up by the light of the moon, double-time all day, to bed with the owls….Drill till your tongue bulged. Sports, hikes, inspections. We played all games to test us for versatility—boxing, wrestling, swimming, soccer, and baseball. The object was to find if we had a nerve-cracking point. Some did.
Williams and Pesky also found time to crack the bat. They were among the members of the UNC Naval Pre-Flight program’s baseball team. In addition to Williams and Pesky, the 1943 lineup for the Cloudbusters, as they were known, included several other cadets with Major League experience. John Sain and Louis Gremp played for the Boston Braves and Joe Coleman pitched for the Philadelphia Athletics. The team also included officers who were Major League veterans. Lt. John “Buddy” Hassett had played first base for the New York Yankees. Ensign Joe Cusick was a catcher for the St. Louis Cardinals. And Lt. Pete Appleton had spent time on the mound for the St. Louis Browns.
The Cloudbusters competed against university teams, service teams and all-star teams from the minor leagues. In the “Ration League,” which included UNC, Duke and N.C. State, the team finished the 1943 season with a record of 3 wins and 6 losses. UNC took first place and Duke, second. But many of those games were played prior to the major leaguers’ arrival.
With Williams, Pesky and the other big league veterans, the Cloudbusters took on service teams at Camp Butner and at Norfolk. The team at the Norfolk Naval Training Station (there was also a team at the Norfolk Naval Air Station) included one-time Yankee shortstop Phil Rizutto, former Red Sox outfielder Dominic DiMaggio, and former Brooklyn Dodger outfielder Don Padgett. The Cloudbusters played the Naval Training Station team several times during spring and summer 1943. When the teams met at Emerson Field in Chapel Hill in July, the major league veterans posed for photographs for Cloudbuster, the UNC Naval Pre-Flight program’s weekly newspaper (back issues are now available online through the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center).
Williams and Pesky took a break from Chapel Hill and the Cloudbusters on July 12 to join an all star team of former major league and college baseball players in a game against the Boston Braves at Fenway Park. The service all-star team was managed by Babe Ruth. Prior to the game, which the service all-stars won 9-8, Ruth, 48, took on Williams in a batting contest. Facing pitches from Braves bullpen thrower Red Barrett, Williams, dressed in a 1942 Red Sox traveling uniform, belted three balls into the right field stands. Ruth, however, showed his age and that his playing days were long behind. Newspaper accounts report that the Babe was unable to drive the ball off the playing field. Upon meeting Williams in the clubhouse, Ruth is reported to have said, “Hiya, kid. You remind me a lot of myself. I love to hit. You’re one of the most natural ballplayers I’ve ever seen. And if ever my record is broken, I hope you’re the one to do it.”
Williams and Ruth met again two weeks later at Yankee Stadium when the Cloudbusters were part of a charity event to benefit the War and Service Relief Fund of the Red Cross. A double-header on July 28 featured a match-up between all stars from the Cleveland Indians and New York Yankees. In the second game, the Cloudbusters took on a combined team of Indians and Yankees.
With strong pitching from Cadet Johnny Sain, the Cloudbusters prevailed over the combined Yankees-Indians team, or “Yanklands,” as the Cloudbuster named the team.
Back in Chapel Hill, Williams continued his academic studies. Courses included “Essentials of Naval Service,” “Nomenclature and Recognition,” “Celestial Navigation,” and advanced Aerology. When Williams wasn’t in the classroom or on the ball field, he showed promise as a boxer. As Pesky recalled (and as related in Montville’s biography of Williams), the pre-flight program’s boxing instructor, a former professional fighter, called Williams into the ring on one occasion and told the ball player to hit him.
Ted was just swinging at first….Then Ted started to get the hang of it. He fakes! And then he unloads. Pow! He hits the guy. Then he fakes again. Pow. He hits the guy again. When the thing was over, the instructor says, ‘Hey, how would you like to have me help you make a fast million bucks?’ Ted says,’How would you do that?’ ‘I’ll train you as a boxer.’ Ted says,’Oh no, not me.’ [The instructor] didn’t even know who Ted was.
Williams, Pesky and other members of the Cloudbusters shipped out to Naval Air Station Bunker Hill, near Peru, Indiana in September 1943. There the cadets were taught how to take off and land airplanes. From Bunker Hill, Williams headed off to Pensacola, Florida. And there, on May 2, 1944, Williams received his wings as a second lieutenant in the Marine air corp.
I was searching for some information on the Remember Cliffside website several days ago when I stumbled upon a story about the Goat Man. Reno Bailey, the creator of Remember Cliffside, recalls from childhood a man who used to pass through town with a wagon pulled by goats and made money by taking photographs of children posed in his wagon. Bailey described how his young imagination had added a few details to the Goat Man’s biography. In his mind, the itinerant goatherd was a Nazi spy taking photographs of the town’s power plant and other installations. Of course, as an adult, Bailey learned that the Goat Man was not a spy. Instead he was a man who traveled the South’s backroads with his goats and, occasionally, some two-legged companions, preaching and living off the land and the kindness of strangers.
I probably wouldn’t have given the story much more thought if I hadn’t come across these two images of the Goat Man in the North Carolina Postcards online collection yesterday.
I figured if there were postcards of the Goat Man and if he drew such large crowds when he preached, then someone must have written about him. Heck, I thought, maybe there’s even a Wikipedia page about him. Indeed, there is. There’s also a book and a song about the Goat Man, whose real name was Charles “Ches” McCartney.
According to several biographies on the web, including one in the New Georgia Encyclopedia, McCartney was born on an Iowa farm in 1901. At 14 he left home and headed for New York City. There he met and, eventually, married a Spanish woman who had a knife throwing act. McCartney, who was allegedly 10 years his wife’s junior, served as her knife throwing target. When the couple had a son, they left the city and began a life of farming. The Depression hit the couple hard and McCartney searched for other work. In 1935 McCartney was injured while cutting timber as part of a Works Progress Administration project. Some accounts suggest that a tree fell on him and several hours elapsed before he was found. According to those stories, McCartney was pronounced dead and taken to a mortuary. As the undertaker inserted a needle with embalming fluid into his arm, McCartney stirred.
Whether because of this supposed near death experience or for other reasons, McCartney underwent a religious reawakening. He hitched up a wagon to a team of goats and, accompanied by his wife and son, he took to the road preaching. Wearing goatskin clothes fashioned by his wife, McCartney called for sinners to repent or face eternal damnation. He marked his path with signs bearing such messages as “Prepare to Meet Thy God,” with the fires of hell painted at the bottom. Eventually McCartney’s wife tired of the itinerant life and she left, taking their son with her. McCartney continued his travels, inspired, he said, by Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe and the Bible, two books he carried with him. Along the way, McCartney married two more times and may have fathered several more children. At some point his son, Albert Gene, joined him on the road.
McCartney established a base in Twiggs County, Georgia, calling his home the Free Thinking Christian Mission. From there, he continued his travels, claiming to visited all of the lower 48 states as well as Alaska and Canada during almost 50 years on the road. Although he eventually forsook goatskin clothing for denim overalls, his fiery sermons and eccentric appearance left strong impressions on those whom he encountered. Flannery O’Connor mentioned the Goat Man in letters and may have incorporated some of his ways into her characters. It is believed that Cormac McCarthy’s novel Suttree includes a character based on McCartney.
McCartney retired from the road in the late 60s or early 70s, shortly after a mugging during which three of his ribs were broken and two goats killed. When his mission building burned in 1978, McCartney and his son moved into a broken down school bus. He made one last road journey in 1985 when he set out on foot toward Los Angeles in hopes of meeting and marrying the actress Morgan Fairchild. After a mugging on that trip, he returned to Georgia and lived in a nursing home until his death at the age of 97 in 1998.
If you met the Goat Man along the way, please share your memories with us.
The new NC ECHO statewide search makes it easier than ever for users to find local and state history resources online. Through a single, simple search interface, users can find historic photos, maps, postcards, genealogies, yearbooks, oral histories, and much more. The statewide search was developed by NC LIVE, the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center, and the State Library of North Carolina.
NC ECHO searches content freely available online in multiple digital collections. Selected collections from Johnson C. Smith University, UNC-Greensboro, the New Hanover County Public Library, Western Carolina University, East Carolina University, UNC-Chapel Hill, the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center, and the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources are currently available through NC ECHO.
A previous program by the same name was run out of the State Library of North Carolina from 1999-2012, with the intent to identify and digitize local cultural heritage collections. The newly revived NC ECHO program continues with the same spirit, to build connections and improve access to these collections of historic materials. Over the coming year, the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center will continue to work with cultural institutions across North Carolina to add new materials to this statewide search.
Here’s how the story was reported in the Chatham Record published on December 24, 1903:
The story goes on to describe the dramatic scene, but, unfortunately, the microfilm that was digitized was quite faded, making the story difficult to read. Aviation aficionados may still want to give it a shot — by zooming in all the way on the text, it’s possible to make out just about every word. The story is on page two, at the top of the page.
We’ve been mining the collections at DigitalNC for references to and images of Santa Claus in the Tar Heel state. We put together a Flickr set with some of our finds, which include some terrific images of Santa in Rocky Mount, Pinehurst, Burgaw, and Ashe County, lots of ads, and my favorite, a photo of Santa on mop duty at the Overseas Relocation Depot in Greensboro in 1944.
I was particularly interested in looking through the old newspapers we’ve digitized to see how early I could find a reference to Santa Claus in North Carolina papers. The oldest I could find was from 1848, a quarter-century after Clement Clarke Moore first published “A Visit from St. Nicholas.”
The Lincoln Courier from January 20, 1848 ran a piece by a “Major Jones” about hanging up stockings on Christmas Eve. It was written in dialect, and did not have any clear local connections, so I’m assuming this was reprinted from another publication. Major Jones writes,
When I was a boy I never used to miss hanging up my stockins, and I’ll have to be a good deal older than I am before I forget with what hopeful morality I used to go to sleep on Christmas Eve, or with what eager expectation I used to wake in the mornin to count over the ginger-cakes and lasses candy which I was always sure to git from good old Santa Claus.
The earliest reference I could find with a definite local connection was from an issue of the Wilson Advance published on December 16, 1881. A correspondent from Whitakers, N.C., described as “one of the liveliest little places on the Wilmington & Weldon Railroad,” writes,
Santa Claus is seen in every store and shop window, and from all appearances the little ones will awake on Christmas morn with full stockings and glad hearts.
Early course catalogs from UNC are now available online at DigitalNC. Ranging in date from 1822 through 1870, these catalogs contain lists of required courses as well as rosters of faculty and students at the University. Recent graduates won’t have a hard time finding differences between the great variety classes offered now and the significantly more restrictive course of study in the 19th century. Here were the required courses for students entering UNC in 1822:
Do any UNC students read Sallust anymore? (I admit to having to look him up.)
In addition to what they tell us about the evolution of higher education, these catalogs are helpful for genealogists tracking down ancestors who went to UNC, and are full of interesting tidbits of campus history (annual expenses for the 1849-1850 school year were $185, which included tuition, room and board, servant hire, and candles).
There’s great material throughout the yearbooks in the North Carolina High School Yearbooks collection on DigitalNC. We’ve pulled out a few of our favorite senior superlatives for a Flickr slideshow.
The superlatives range from Most Studious to Most Vivacious and include great photos from high schools in Fayetteville, Burlington, Mocksville, and a handful of other towns around the state.