New in the collection: Robin Hayes campaign washcloth

White wash cloth with words "Vote Hayes."

Did this distinctive if humble item spring from Robin Hayes’s campaign for Concord City Council? For N.C. House? For Congress? For governor?

Regardless, the Cannon Mills scion’s hortatory washcloth bears a Cannon Mills label (84 percent cotton, 16 percent polyester) — and even found its way to a booth at the mammoth antique mall now occupying the former Cannon-owned Gibson Mill in Concord.

New in the collection: cotton gin ‘fire tag’

Cotton gin tag


After cotton was picked and baled, it was stored at the local gin and tagged with an identifying number linking it to the farmer who owned it. Cotton is highly flammable, so the metal tags were especially important in the event of fire. These “fire tags” had mostly given way to other means of identification by the end of the 20th century.

A busy day at Cochran’s Gin in the late 1940s. 


Remembering a monument that remembered the Klan

“In 1926, the United Daughters of the Confederacy erected a monument to the Ku Klux Klan in a town [Concord] just outside Charlotte, North Carolina. Though the marker itself seems to have been lost to time—or more precisely, to the urbanization and shrubbery that has sprouted around it—proof of its existence endures thanks to the UDC’s own meticulous record-keeping. In 1941, a local division of the group published North Carolina’s Confederate Monuments and Memorials, a book that handily compiles various tributes to the Confederacy from around the state, many of them the UDC’s own handiwork. Writer James Huffman got his hands on a first pressing, in which he noted the monument’s inscription:

“ ‘In commemoration of the “Ku Klux Klan” during the Reconstruction period following the “War Between the States,” this marker is placed on their assembly ground. Erected by the Dodson-Ramseur chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. 1926.’ ”

— From “Time to expose the women still celebrating the Confederacy” by Kali Holloway in the Daily Beast (Nov. 2)


New in the collection: multitasking Cabarrus Fair souvenir

Cabarrus County Fair souvenir from 1969
Back of Cabarrus County Fair souvenir. It reads "Officer Be Right Back. Gone to Get Change for Parking Meter."


This odd plastic relic of the age of coin-op parking meters just makes me smile. Designed to slip over the top of a driver’s side window, it not only promotes the Cabarrus fair, but also serves to dodge a parking ticket and (I’m guessing here) to provide a couple of handy coathooks.

Wonder how “gone to get change” went over with the local constabulary….


Glitter of gold once pulled Cabarrus together

In 1949 the 150th anniversary of Conrad Reed’s discovery of a 17-pound nugget in Little Meadow Creek — which predated the California gold rush by half a century — was celebrated locally with pride and enthusiasm. Events in Concord included an outdoor drama, a beard-growing contest, a Miss Cabarrus Gold pageant, an air show, a midway, a performance by massed choirs and a visit by Gov. Kerr Scott.

In 1977 Reed Gold Mine opened as a state historic site — an idea envisioned and advocated by H. G. Jones during his tenure as state archivist.

By the gold bicentennial in 1999, however, Cabarrus County had more than doubled in size. Age and emigration had diminished the pool of those who claimed deep roots, and newcomers lacked their sense of place. Though spirited, celebration at Reed Gold Mine paled beside the ambitious community undertaking of 1949.

Pictured: From the collection a silk (I think) ribbon from the Sesquicentennial.

What’s in a burger name? Potential for confusion

No date on this 3-inch pinback button, but the typography and the vaguely Space Age rendering of a pickle-topped hamburger suggest 1960 or so. (Is that cheese or lettuce squashed beneath the patty? Regardless, doesn’t it belong  on top?)

Surprisingly, this cluster of Concord-based What-A-Burger stores (not all of which survive) is unrelated to  either the Texas-based Whataburger chain or the Virginia-based What-A-Burger chain — though all three date back to the 1950s and specialize in jumbo burgers that compared with Big Macs might qualify as artisanal.


Poitier movies on front lines of racial discord

“[In 1965]  ‘A Patch of Blue’ inflamed some Southerners…. Authorities discovered a homemade bomb with five sticks of dynamite planted in a Concord, North Carolina, theater. Luckily, the bomb malfunctioned….

“[Two years later] in Lexington, North Carolina, 20 Ku Klux Klan members picketed a drive-in theater [showing ‘Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner’], carrying signs that read ‘Fight for your Rights’ and ‘Mom and Dad — It Could Happen to You.’ ”

— From “Sidney Poitier: Man, Actor, Icon” by Aram Goudsouzian (2004)