“In the 1950s, back in the days when legislators stayed in downtown Raleigh’s Hotel Sir Walter during legislative sessions, you couldn’t buy a drink anywhere in town.
“And didn’t need to. Each of the 45 liquor salesmen who supplied N.C. ABC stores had three cases of liquor a month to give away – and much of it was delivered to the loading dock of the Hotel Sir Walter and quickly stored (wink, wink) in a room ostensibly rented to A.B. Carter. Notice anything cute about Mr. Carter’s initials?
“A memorable front page from the News & Observer on May 28, 1957 featured seven photographs of liquor arriving, being unloaded, carried into the hotel and delivered to certain rooms by a bellhop around noon. The local Alcoholic Beverage Control board office was notified at 3 p.m. and sprang into action. And sprang. And sprang. After, oh, about an hour and a half, ABC agents finally entered the room where the contraband booze had been taken – and it was empty. What a surprise. The newspaper’s photos proved what had happened, and once again the state’s ABC law enforcement officers looked like Keystone Kops – without as much action….”
— From “Liquor in North Carolina, from A to C” by Jack Betts in the Charlotte Observer (Dec. 3, 1995)
“A.B. Carter” was actually Frank Sims, former lobbyist for the Association of County ABC Boards, who was later fined $100 for registering at a hotel under an assumed name.
Forgive me if I like to imagine one of those deliveries being made to this key’s Room 940.
“Textile workers asked Congress today to pass laws that would upgrade state compensation for disabled employees with brown lung and other occupational diseases.
“The Carolina Brown Lung Association believes federal legislation is necessary because state compensation laws are not working and the textile industry is using its power and money to fight claims.
–– From “Textile Workers Press for Upgraded Brown Lung Compensation” by Janet Staihar of the Associated Press (March 26, 1980)
“The Charlotte Observer today won the 1981 Pulitzer Prize for meritorious public service for its series on brown lung disease….
“Industry and government responded with anger and resistance, but changes occurred…. By the end of 1980, textile workers in North Carolina had received a record $4 million in workers’ compensation for brown lung — more than the total paid in the previous nine years.”
— From “Charlotte (N.C.) Observer wins Pulitzer” by UPI (April 13, 1981)
The National Sunshine Club was part of Observer Junior, an eight-page tabloid insert in the Charlotte Observer, 1928-1934. Sending in coupons from four successive Sunday editions would bring you this pin — and if your story, joke, poem, cartoon or pen-pal letter was published, you could even win a dollar!
“Billy Graham may have paved the way for rock concerts at Ericsson [now Bank of America] Stadium.
“After dismantling equipment for Graham’s Carolinas crusade, officials found the field in good condition, alleviating a major concern about holding nonfootball events at the stadium….
“For organizers, the extra time and money it took to convert Ericsson was well worth it….In three offerings the crusade brought in more than $800,000, and 305,400 people attended the four-day crusade.”
— From “Stadium held up well under crusade” by Ky Henderson in the Charlotte Observer (Oct. 1, 1996)
When Elvis died — Aug. 16, 1977 — the Charlotte Observer wasn’t prepared for the enormous demand for single copies. (We weren’t the only ones.)
A year later, however, the Observer and the afternoon Charlotte News had days of commemorative coverage lined up, as these two rack cards illustrate.
“[During World War II] the Charlotte Observer took up the hunt for un-American activities, claiming that over 2,000 subversives were present in the area and arguing that the U.S. Constitution did not protect anyone accused of Communist or Nazi sympathies. The paper chastised those who complained about FBI investigations as more concerned with civil liberties than with victory….
“The bureau examined a number of cases, including the rumor of a Nazi spy ring in Salisbury, and found no saboteurs….”
— From “Home Front: North Carolina during World War II” by Julian M. Pleasants (2017)
“Sgt. John Dwyer, who was not listening to the radio, was on the desk at the Charlotte Police Department that Sunday night. He became aware of the hysteria when a woman walked in, an infant in one arm, a Bible in the other and a trembling boy clutching at her dress. She asked for protection from Martians.
“ ‘Sgt. Dwyer admitted that it was the strangest request the department had ever had,’ The Charlotte Observer reported the next morning beneath the banner headline: ‘Thousands Terrified By Mock-War Broadcast.’ He did his best to assure her all was well and sent her home.
“She was but the vanguard of Charlotteans who would be appealing to police that night, most of them by phone.
“At the Observer, calls poured in seeking information on the invaders’ advance. After answering 100, those on duty lost track of the number.
“ ‘Many of them refused to believe that what they heard was a play,’ the paper said. ‘Others seemed panic stricken.’ ”
— From “Remembering the night WBT dominated the scarewaves” by Mark Washburn in the Charlotte Observer (Oct. 30, 2013)
“My grandfather ate the Charlotte Observer. Regularly. The entire paper. I’m not making this up….”
— From “Here’s one way to eat newsprint” by Walter Dellinger (letter to the editor of the Washington Post, April 8)
h/t Michael Hill
“President Truman’s frequent blasts at the editorial pages of U.S. newspapers have not overly concerned us. If a majority of U.S. newspapers have backed the Republican Party candidates in recent Presidential elections, it does not follow that (1) they are wrong, or (2) they are dishonest….
“But there is another aspect to the ‘one-party press,’ as Governor Stevenson has dubbed it, that cannot be passed over lightly. This is the tendency of some newspapers to give emphasis in their news columns in accordance with their editorial viewpoints.
“This newspaper has very stringent standards for reporting political campaigns, and every person who handles the news is under positive instructions to give the opposing parties and candidates an absolutely even break in the news columns….”
— From “One-Party Press Dangerous” in the Charlotte News (Oct. 14, 1952)
This editorial may have been targeting the rival Charlotte Observer, which endorsed Dwight Eisenhower over Stevenson. I found it reprinted on the backside of a flyer promoting a speech at the Armory Auditorium by Truman’s vice president, Alben Barkley.
A Charlotte News headline writer had played a small part in the 1948 presidential election, coining a catchy but unwelcome nickname for the States’ Rights Democrats.
On this day in 1911: The Glidden Tour, a cross-country caravan promoting the automobile, approaches North Carolina from Virginia, where residents have complained about their dogs being run over. The Charlotte Observer, however, doesn’t hesitate to roll out the welcome mat:
“Roaming dogs are not held in high esteem in this community. . . . Speed up and enjoy yourselves. . . . “