“There was no reckoning with the [News & Observer’s] role in the Wilmington coup until 2006, when Timothy B. Tyson, a historian at Duke University, authored a sixteen-page special section detailing the events. The editorial board also issued an apology….
“Without the News & Observer’s stories — and especially the cartoons — a hostile takeover would not have been possible. ‘You can’t underestimate the heat involved in these political cartoons,’ he said. ‘They were the cable news of their day. You didn’t even have to be literate to understand them.'”
— From “On Atonement: News outlets have apologized for past racism. That should only be the start.” by Alexandria Neason, Columbia Journalism Review (Jan. 28)
“The story goes that President William Howard Taft sat in this plain wooden chair — specially procured for his outsize stature — in 1909 while delivering a speech at Johnson C. Smith University, then known as Biddle University. Except Taft never really sat in this chair at all.
“Brandon Lunsford, university archivist and digital manager, says that the truth is widely accepted. ‘It’s a cool little artifact and just a fun story,’ he explains. The whereabouts of the actual Taft chair remain a mystery.”
— From “19 Hidden Treasures at North Carolina’s Universities” by Chloe Klingstedt in Our State (January)
Among the eclectic selection of treasures: Miles Davis’s trumpet, Elisha Mitchell’s pocket watch and Southern Culture on the Skids’ flaming La-Z-Boy.
“Mr. W. N. Smith of 608 Polk Street sends the News and Observer a clipping from this paper. One advertisement is for a barber at $35 a week. Two others are for teachers, [offering $55 a month] in one instance, $65 in another, and $60 in a third….
“No wonder teachers are so scarce. Any kind of work pays better, yet teaching is at the foundation of individual and national success and happiness.”
— From the News & Observer, as reprinted in the Monroe Journal, Oct. 22, 1918 (hat tip, Rural North Carolina History)
“[C]oach Glenn “Pop” Warner directed [Jim] Thorpe and two other Carlisle athletes to play semipro summer baseball in North Carolina [for the Rocky Mount Railroaders]. Thorpe was paid a pittance — the exact amount isn’t clear — but Carlisle’s strict control over the wages of students who worked meant he probably kept nothing. And remember: Thorpe played at Warner’s instruction.”
— From “‘World’s greatest athlete’ Jim Thorpe was wronged by bigotry. The IOC must correct the record.” by
“The report of a case of smallpox [in Williamston in 1862] has been confirmed. William Hoell… is said to have gone to New York and returned by sea. It is supposed he contracted the disease while in New York. The village has been thrown into great excitement. Several families have left…. Business is at a standstill. The school has come to a close two months sooner than planned….
“The sick man, Hoell, has been carried about one and one-half miles from town to a school house… where he is to be attended to by a nurse, and no one else but the physicians is to visit him.”
— From the diary of Elder C. B. Hassell, published in “Martin County History, Vol. I” by Francis M. Manning and W. H. Booker, 1977
h/t Northeastern North Carolina Stories
“I am opposed to gay and expensive dressing, and I am opposed to balls — or hugging schools, I call them. I warn all boys against marrying ball room girls. I tell them if the girls practice hugging strange men before marriage they are likely to have the same taste afterwards.”
— Carry A. Nation, quoted in “‘Smashes’ Everything in Sight” (News & Observer, July 30, 1907)
h/t Northeastern North Carolina Stories
“In spring 1942 — shortly after the United States entered World War II — the State Department leased the Grove Park Inn as an internment camp for Axis diplomats, family members and servants.
“ ‘All of this is strictly in accordance with international law,’ the [Asheville Citizen reported]. ‘While the Italians, Bulgarians and Rumanians are here they will be isolated from the community and protected from the curious.’
“Subsequent information arrived only after the 221 prisoners (the first official number provided to residents) departed [on May 6] for their homelands in exchange for U.S. diplomats held abroad.
“According to the Citizen, the foreign diplomats had paid for their stay at the Grove Park Inn. ‘Shuffleboard, lawn bowling, badminton, and bridge were reported to have been the chief amusement’ during their confinement.”
— From “Foreign diplomats held hostage at the Grove Park Inn, 1942″ by Thomas Calder in Mountain Xpress (Sept. 6)
“The annual report of the Commissioner of Internal Revenue for the fiscal year ended June 30, 1919, shows that North Carolina continues to lead the Union in the number of illicit distilleries seized, the total being 814.
“Georgia comes second with 789; Virginia third with 356; Alabama fourth with 348; South Carolina fifth with 280; Tennessee sixth with 226; New York seventh with 126; and Kentucky eighth with 125. In no other state were as many as 100 distilleries seized during the year.”
— From “North Carolina leads” in the Forest City Courier (Dec. 25, 1919)
h/t Rural North Carolina History
By 1954 the state’s annual count of still seizures had risen to 3,846, and the Board of Alcoholic Control had decided to fight firewater with firewater.
“Shortly after I arrived in North Carolina [from Texas and Colorado] in 1991, I was talking to my editor at the [News & Observer] when she said something about ‘beach music.’ It was the first time I had heard the phrase, which I found puzzling. And so I responded with a variant of the same question a half-century’s worth of clueless transplants have asked.
” ‘ “Beach music”? Is that like the Beach Boys?’
“My editor laughed, emphatically shook her head no and then become the first (but far from last) person to bestow that most Southern of putdowns upon me: ‘Oh, bless your heart.’ Truly, that conversation was a gateway to all things North Carolina in more ways than one.”
“In Durham [one of the places Joan Didion’s parents lived during World War II] we had one room, with kitchen privileges, in the house of a fundamentalist preacher and his family who sat on the porch after dinner and ate peach ice cream, each from his or her own quart carton. The preacher’s daughter had a full set of Gone With the Wind paper dolls, off limits to me.
“It was in Durham where the neighborhood children crawled beneath the back stoop and ate the dirt, scooping it up with a cut raw potato and licking it off, craving some element their diet lacked.
“I knew the word even then, because my mother told me. ‘Poor children do it,’ she said, with the same determinedly cheerful expression. ‘In the South. You never would have learned that in Sacramento.’ ”
— From “Where I Was From” by Joan Didion (2012)