Alcohol vs. abstinence: The mule ruled

“The heyday of alcohol drinking began in the 1790s and lasted until the first prohibition efforts in Asheville in the 1830s — an effort backed by women and ministers alarmed by alcohol’s effect on work habits, church attendance and marriage.

“In the 1790s, Methodist Bishop Francis Asbury had just come to North Carolina to start the Great Awakening. He noted how liquor consumption led to excess and distracted from a different kind of spirit; but he could only be cautionary in this regard.

“Whiskey was not only considered a social amenity and a health-giving potion, but also an economic necessity in the mountains.

” ‘A mule could carry about four bushels of corn on the long journey to market,’ Bruce Stewart writes in his book, ‘Moonshiners and Prohibitionists.’ ‘After it was distilled into whiskey, however, a mule could haul the equivalent of twenty-four bushels of corn.’ “

— From “Eavesdropping on an Asheville committee in 1792” by Rob Neufeld in the Asheville Citizen-Times (April 1, 2013)

Grove Park Inn as internment camp

“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)

Tenn. just wasn’t that into preserving mountains

“Tourism was a primary justification for this environmental preservation movement [circa 1900]. Thus Asheville, the most important resort of the Blue Ridge region, was the birthplace of municipal sanitation campaigns, modern forestry conservation and the movement to create a national park in southern Appalachia….

“On the Tennessee side of the mountains, however, there was much less interest…. Logging and mining were far more important elements of East Tennessee’s economy than tourism.”

— From Tourism in the Mountain South: A Double-edged Swordby C. Brenden Martin (2007)


Confederate colonel’s fame shrinks even further

“Question: Conspicuously missing from the corner of Tunnel Road and Chunns Cove Road [in Asheville] is a state highway historical marker titled,  ‘Lee’s School, 1846-1879.’ The silver and black aluminum sign commemorated a school for boys conducted by Stephen Lee, a West Point graduate and Confederate colonel….  Has it been removed for maintenance, replacement or retirement?

“Answer: First of all, the information on the sign was incorrect.

” ‘I got a message from somebody up that way saying Stephen Lee did not graduate from West Point, so that makes one line out of four or five on the sign incorrect,’ said Ansley Herring Wegner, administrator of the North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program. ‘And sure enough, he was right. He entered the U.S. Military Academy, where he remained for two years, but he resigned’….

“If something simple is incorrect, like a date, that can be fixed with a kit that cost about $100. But in the Lee case, an entire new sign would cost $1,700.

” ‘The [marker review] committee said this guy just doesn’t qualify for a marker,’ Wegner said. ‘This marker came to be in 1951. Back in that day, less research went into the markers. The process for approving markers was not as rigorous….’

“Lee’s failure to graduate West Point was not the disqualifying factor, Wegner said. While locally important, Lee did not have accomplishments of statewide significance, and his military service was relatively short.

” ‘He ran a school, and he was in the Confederate Army for a very short time — less than a year,’ Wegner said, noting that even some generals or military heroes in North Carolina do not have markers. ‘Basically, as a package, the committee didn’t want to spend $1,700 to put up marker for someone who would not qualify for a marker today.’ ”

— From “Confederate marker to go down forever?”  in John Boyle’s Answer Man column in the Asheville Citizen-Times (Aug. 2) 


Arthur Murray’s Asheville, sweet and sour

“At summer’s end [of 1914], Arthur went from Marblehead [Mass.] to the Battery Park Hotel, a sprawling resort sitting on its own 40-acre hill in the middle of Asheville.

“Almost at once he became the favorite dancing partner of Mrs. George Vanderbilt. At nearby Biltmore he taught young Cornelia Vanderbilt the currently popular Lulu-Fado.

“The standard fee for dance lessons was $5 an hour, which Arthur and [his teaching partner] the Baroness split. Soon there was a falling out. Arthur discovered that the Baroness was charging Mrs. Vanderbilt $50 a lesson, while giving him only $2.50. Moreover, although Arthur never took a drink, the Baroness never refused one. When the management asked her to leave, Arthur maneuvered himself into the position of social director of the hotel…. It was a fabulous life indeed for the poor boy from the slums.

“Whenever Arthur talks about Asheville… he looks wistful. ‘Never before had I seen such attractive people, nor dreamed of such delicious little tea sandwiches  and fancy cakes.’ ”

— From “My Husband, Arthur Murray” by Kathryn Murray (1960)

Arthur Murray Studios became the world’s most successful chain of dance instruction, and Kathryn had a 10-year run on network TV hosting “The Arthur Murray Party.”

More details from their daughter’s recent memoir.

Occupy Wall Street movement spreads to link dump

—  “Yes, Dear, a Battleship; No, Dear, I’m Cold-Sober”

— Ken Burns missed quite a scene at the Eureka Saloon.

— $30 for a year’s worth of “Freedom, Sacrifice, Memory.”

— Memphis, Gibson. Nashville, Fender. Asheville, Moog.

— “We wish to negotiate with you about the Bodys of the twins….”



Link dump: Mercy, mercy, what controversy!

— Tourism insurgents: “There’s more to Mount Airy than Mayberry.”

— Barbecue Confidential: “It’s so minimalist — dressed with only a little bit of vinegar, salt and pepper. It’s hard to argue with that.”

— But really, Mr. Bourdain, for an old-fashioned barbecue tempeh sandwich you still can’t beat Asheville.

Link dump’s research untouched by decline effect

— If Western North Carolina was so big on Unionism, why weren’t its legislators?

— 18th century “stone” dollhouse from defunct Old Salem Toy Museum blows away auction estimate.

— I hadn’t realized that Pearl Fryar, the topiary wizard (and movie star) of Bishopville, S.C., had such extensive roots in Clinton and Durham. And he’s appearing Jan. 29 in Greenville.

— “Site of the nation’s first student lunch counter sit-ins”: Baltimore?

— Making the case for “a Rutherford Platt Hayes Day in Asheville.”

— J.B. Rhine, father of the “decline effect”?

‘Imperishable symbol’ of U.S.-German friendship?

On this day in 1932: At Asheville’s Riverside Cemetery, F.W. Von Prittwitz, German ambassador to the United States, dedicates a monument to 18 German sailors who died of typhoid while imprisoned nearby during World War I.

“Germany is happy to find herself in the same line with the United States when she advocates disarmament. . . . ” Von Prittwitz tells the crowd of several thousand. “May this monument stand as an imperishable symbol of the friendship between our two peoples and a mark of our determination to maintain it for all future to come.”

In less than a decade, however, Germans and Americans will again be at war.

Link dump: Which way to CROATOAN, buddy row?

— Looking for the Lost Colony in all the wrong places?

— “Bear hunting highlights Asheville’s cultural divide”

— Who you calling “Buddy row“?

— How a Confederate veteran did right by five Union dead in Richmond County.

Neogenealogists eager to shepherd black sheep.

— Can Vollis Simpson “put Wilson on the map”?