‘Show Boat’ had its origins on Pamlico River

On this day in 1927: The musical version of Edna Ferber’s novel “Show Boat” debuts at the Ziegfeld Theatre in New York.

Ferber researched “Show Boat” not on the Mississippi River but on the N.C. coast — she had never even laid eyes on the Mississippi.

She heard about the James Adams Floating Theatre, a family-operated show boat that worked the mid-Atlantic coast, and in 1925 met the boat in Bath, on the Pamlico River, for its first stop of the season.

Ferber spent several days aboard the 700-seat boat. Her hosts, Charles and Beulah Hunter (“The Mary Pickford of the Chesapeake”) provided her a private bedroom, and the troupe regaled her with tales, which she took down on a yellow pad.

“Show Boat” scored enormous success not only as a musical (revived in 1994) but also in three movie versions.


Who was North Carolina’s last man standing?

The widely noted death of Frank Buckles made me wonder: Who was North Carolina’s last surviving veteran of World War I?

Depending on how strictly you define “North Carolina’s” and “World War I,” he seems to have been either

David Samuel “Tex” Little,  born in Catawba but moved to Texas after the war and died in Jackson, Wyoming, at age 103 in 2006. He trained troops at Ft. Dix, New Jersey, and didn’t make it overseas. Or…

Robert Hodges, born in Bath and died in New Bern, at age 115 in 2003. He served in France.

The digital evidence on this distinction doesn’t inspire my confidence. Maybe the North Carolina Division of Veterans Affairs can provide something more authoritative.