Plymouth, N.C., 1921: No place for Jim Crow

“To venture into many of the small towns situated on barrier islands or peninsulas was to venture outside the archetypal Jim Crow South and into places characterized by high rates of religious and ethnic diversity, social practices and cultural sensibilities that shocked, horrified and piqued the curiosity of visitors….

“Recounting a visit to Plymouth, North Carolina, a remote town near the Albemarle Sound, in 1921, Bruce Cotten, a tobacco planter’s son, speculated that the inhabitants had ‘partaken too heavily of the Lotus Plant[s]’ that lined the waterways leading into town. ‘A motley crowd of whites and blacks [crowded] the sidewalks and streets [giving] the impression of an Oriental Market Place…. There was plentiful signs of bootleg whiskey, as well as intimacies between black girls and white boys, which were openly going on and jested about….. My first impulse was to inquire my way to the American Consulate.'”

— From “The Land Was Ours: African American Beaches from Jim Crow to the Sunbelt South” by Andrew W. Kahrl (2012)


Returning sword reflected code of honor

“The theme of turning swords into ploughshares — albeit popular [circa 1890] — was less prominent, perhaps, than that of returning swords to their rightful owners. The press seized upon these human interest stories….

“In 1887 Captain James A. Marrow of Clarksville, Virginia, returned the sword of Lieutenant A. G. Case of Simsbury, Connecticut — a sword that had been captured by Confederates at Plymouth, North Carolina, in 1864.

“When Marrow learned that the sword’s owner still lived, he wrote to Case: ‘I am a true American and have no desire to retain any relic as a triumph of Americans over Americans.’ Reports of such chivalrous conduct restored American faith that a code of honor continued to exist in their culture….”

— From “Mystic Chords of Memory: The Transformation of Tradition in American Culture” by Michael Kammen (1991)

Link dump seeks license as eclectic utility

Death noted: Country singer Charlie Louvin, 83, last of the two Louvin Brothers and first cousin of esteemed Durham native John D. Loudermilk. Charlie and Ira were in fact born Loudermilks, but found the handle too long for career purposes.

— Among the “All-time most popular” reader queries to the Star-News’ is “Will the Wilmington area be getting a Red Lobster?” Is Lexington similarly eager for the arrival of a Sonny’s?

— The last mayor of Brooklyn — before it became a borough of New York City — was a native of Plymouth, North Carolina. At age 7, Frederick W. Wurster and his German-born parents moved to Brooklyn. He made his fortune manufacturing axles and in 1895 was serving as Brooklyn’s fire commissioner when he won the Republican nomination for mayor.

— Yet another North Carolina politician successfully auditions for “Doonesbury.”

Plymouth native achieves ‘climax of sensation!’

“As we walked home one night, in need of a culminating incident in [his 1867 play ‘Under the Gaslight’], my brother said, ‘I have got the sensation we want — a man fastened to a railroad track and rescued just as the train reaches the spot!’

“On the first night the audience was breathless….It became the town talk. The houses were thronged. An old theatre-goer who stood up in rear of the crowded seats turned to those about him after a long-drawn breath and said, ‘It is the climax of sensation!’ So it was, and so has remained.”

– From “The Life of Augustin Daly” (1917)  by Joseph Francis Daly. John Augustin Daly, born in Plymouth in  1838, had a long and fruitful career writing and producing plays — the tied-to-the-tracks device was only the most visceral of his creations. Taking a troupe on a Southern tour in 1878, Daly wrote his brother

“To-night we are in Raleigh — a city without a paved street, & yet  an extensive and important-looking place. At any rate its citizens have turned out to-night en masse, headed by the Governor (not that Governor of North Carolina who made the historical remark to the Governor of South Carolina) but Governor Vance, to whom I was introduced & whom I escorted to a box amid the enthusiastic approbation  of the entire audience. Everybody seems to know I’m a native & they welcome me as a brother….”