“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.
“It was a wonder to me…. how popular these associations were in your city. Of course we naturally feel that there cannot be any town equal to Philadelphia in building association matters, but I am afraid that if we were to make a careful comparison, to use classical language, ‘you would have us beaten to a frazzle.’ “
— From a letter from George W. Clippe, delegate to the convention of the U.S. League of Local Building and Loan Associations, published in the Charlotte Observer
North Carolina, especially the Piedmont, was indeed a hotbed of building and loans in 1910.
An image not often seen: North Carolina’s tar heel overlaid on Mecklenburg’s hornets nest.
Hat tip to the Mary Boyer Collection at J. Murrey Atkins Library, UNC Charlotte, for this background:
“The outer walls were covered in coal, and the roof was red-tiled. Beside the building, one can see some of the red delivery trucks. Founded in the 1920s, the company also traded in gasoline, motor oil, solvents and kerosene. The ‘house’ was part of an advertising gimmick in the ’20s to construct buildings of coal, [as survive in] Williamson, W. Va., and Middlesboro, Ky.”
Although F. & R. Coal & Oil Co. boasted that “We believe in our coal enough to build an office out of it,” its coal-clad testimonial is long gone, replaced by a tailgating lot for Carolina Panthers games. The four-story industrial building behind it survives as offices.
Even if it weren’t scarce, this would be my favorite Charlotte postcard. The tinted image of “Progressive Charlotte — Getting her new streets and skyscraper” puts us present at the clangorous creation of what would become today’s million-pushing metropolis.
The 12-story Realty Building (later the Independence Building), the state’s first steel-framed high-rise, was imploded in 1981.
“The crowd of at least 5,000 welcomed the new and old Dylan, dressed in a dark suit and white cowboy hat. The show was general admission, so hundreds of people packed the arena floor, some dancing and others sitting along the perimeter nodding their heads appreciatively.
“Dylan’s influence on music is undeniable, from his political folk songs of the early ’60s to his electrified folk-rock of the mid-’60s. Sunday’s show attracted a range of fans representing his impact, from hippie throwbacks dancing next to tie-dye Phish fans to yuppies with young children….”
— From “Band steals show as Dylan delights fans of all ages” by Tonya Jameson in the Charlotte Observer (Feb. 11, 2002)
Pretty busy from a design standpoint, but this 3-inch button does have a lot of information to impart – plus a showy shot of the Charlotte skyline!
Yes, it’s just a fast-food placemat — but what better illustration of the core values of Charlotte-born and -based Bojangles’ Famous Chicken ‘n Biscuits?
No Southern food goes undebated, of course.
Soap Box Derby used to be be big, both nationally and in North Carolina. Today the derby apparently survives in the state only in Morganton, where it has its own track at the Burke County Fairgrounds under the sponsorship of the Morganton Optimist Club.
Newspaper archives offer a look back at the race’s glory days in Raleigh and in Charlotte.
In 1970 a Durham contestant won the national championship. Less illustriously, a 1993 champion from Huntersville — perhaps influenced by the local culture? — was stripped of his title for using unapproved materials.
“About 450 attended, compared with about 1,500 in Asheville Wednesday and an even larger crowd in Raleigh Tuesday.
“Out of deference to UNC-Charlotte’s televised basketball game [against N.C. State in the NIT], Wallace spoke a little more than 20 minutes….
“Wallace was joined on the Park Center stage by Barry Worley, who was shot in 1974 as a Charlotte park policeman on duty outside a Memorial Stadium rock concert.
“Worley, like Wallace, is partly paralyzed and in a wheelchair.
” ‘Your former patrolman… is a typical example of what happens if we don’t get a handle on this problem of crime,’ Wallace said. ‘What we need is to return to the electric chair to get some people off of society.’
“He also touched on his familiar campaign themes — tax reform, welfare reform, the importance of military strength and the evils of ‘big government.’ ”
— From “Wallace: No Plan to Bolt” by Jerry Shinn in the Charlotte Observer (March 19, 1976)
Wallace’s loss to Jimmy Carter in the next week’s Democratic primary, 54 to 35 percent, virtually ended his fourth and final bid for the presidency.
“By the end of the 1960 campaign Golden had made more than 50 speeches supporting a Kennedy presidency. When speaking to Jewish audiences in California, Golden was joined by Carl Sandburg, in Hollywood at the time serving as a consultant on a film. The two men on the stump together were a bit of genius.
” ‘I played the impresario by keeping him in the wings,’ Golden explained. He introduced his friend with a flourish: ‘I brought you a bonus — Carl Sandburg!’ Sandburg usually drew a standing ovation. The cheers would break out anew when the older man [Sandburg] paused and — as if he had just thought of the phrase — declared, ‘We are just a couple of North Carolina boys plugging for a young fellow from Boston who will make us a good president.’ ”
— From “Carolina Israelite: How Harry Golden Made Us Care about Jews, the South, and Civil Rights” by Kimberly Marlowe Hartnett (2015)