New in the collection: Red Cross canteen postcard

Image of Raleigh Red Cross canteen

Verso of Red Cross postcard. Message written in pencil.

“The Raleigh Canteen House and Service Station… will cause thousands of soldiers to look back as long as they live to their one hour’s stay in Raleigh as being altogether different than any other experience they had on the way from home to France and from France back home. The Raleigh Canteen and Service Station is like an oasis in the desert; or the shadow of a great rock in a weary journey….”

— From “Raleigh was a welcome stop for WWI troop trains” in the News & Observer, July 21, 1918 (reprinted in Teresa Leonard’s Past Times column)

The Raleigh Canteen was oft-photographed, but I haven’t seen this image online.

“I will drop you a card to let you know that I am well….” the postcard writer tells his cousin in Greenview, Ill. “The Red Cross served us with aples, sigarettes & candy.”

Another postcard promoting the canteen.

New in the collection: Pinback from MLK visit to Raleigh

Pinback for Martin Luther King visit to Reynolds Coliseum

“Nearly forgotten, Dr. King spoke in Raleigh to an integrated audience of about 5,000 at Reynolds Coliseum at 4 p.m. on July 31, 1966. A counter-protest began two hours earlier with speeches at Memorial Auditorium and continued with a march by members from two factions of the Ku Klux Klan….

“King spoke against ‘Black supremacy’ in Raleigh because Stokely Carmichael had stirred crowds just weeks before in Mississippi by repeating violent declarations of  ‘Black Power.’ He also declared. ‘The Negro needs the white man to save him from his fear, and the white man needs the Negro to save him from his guilt.’ ”

— From “When MLK and the KKK met in Raleigh” by W. Jason Miller in the News & Observer (April 3, 2018)

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Carry Nation finds Salisbury a ‘hell hole’

On this day in 1907: Billed as “an extra added attraction,” Carry Nation appears in Salisbury’s Fourth of July parade. After inspecting local saloons — at 61, she is no longer busting them up — she declares the town a “hell hole.

Nation’s month-long N.C. tour concludes in Raleigh. Raleigh Electric Co., whose streetcars profit from ferrying her supporters to Pullen Park, pays her $35. She makes an additional $25 from sale of souvenir cardboard and pewter hatchets.

 

New in the collection: Durham Soap Box Derby pinback

Pinback button that reads "Go 'Lucky Seven,' Kenny Walker, Durham, 1978

 

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.

 

Frog and Nightgown: Wrong place, wrong time, but….

“The existence of a successful jazz club in [Thelonious] Monk’s home state in May 1970 was an anomaly. Woodstock (August 1969) marked the era….Jazz clubs were closing in bigger cities across the country while Raleigh, with a population of 120,000, wrestled with integration. But Peter Ingram — a scientist from England recruited to work in the newly formed Research  Triangle Park — opened the Frog and Nightgown, a jazz club, in 1968 and his wife Robin managed it. Don Dixon, a house bassist at the club who later gained fame as co-producer of REM’s first album, Murmur, says ‘It took a native Brit like Peter to not know that a jazz club wouldn’t work in 1968.’

“The Frog, as it was known, thrived in a small, red-brick shopping center nestled in a residential neighborhood lined with 19th century oak trees. Surrounded by a barber shop, a laundry mat, a convenience store and a service station, the Frog often attracted large crowds; lines frequently wrapped around the corner. Patrons brown-bagged their alcohol (the Frog sold food, ice and mixers), bought cigarettes from machines, and some smoked joints in the parking lot….Due to its mixed clientele, the club came under threat of the Ku Klux Klan, but Ingram never blinked, and the Frog held on, exceeding all odds….”

— From “Thelonious Monk: Is This Home?” by Sam Stephenson in the Oxford American (Fall 2007)

Biographer Robin D. G. Kelley provides a well-detailed account of Monk’s 10-day gig at the Frog and Nightgown — his last visit to North Carolina before his death 12 years later.

 

David Sedaris and Briggs Hardware: Not a good match

“September 17, 1981

“Raleigh

“I’ve had it with Briggs Hardware. Again today when they asked what I was looking for, I was at a loss to tell them. ‘Something wooden,’ I’ve told them in the past. ‘Something shiny.’

“I don’t want a tool to do something with; I just want something to draw. In the toy department I asked to look at one of their jack-in-the-boxes. The saleswoman got snippy when I didn’t want to buy it, and when I reached for my knapsack and said I could explain, she said, ‘I don’t want to see none of your old mess.’

“I turned to leave and saw all the employees standing at the front counter talking about me. They think they’re hot stuff because the store was pictured in National Geographic.”

— From “Theft by Finding: Diaries (1977-2002)” by David Sedaris (2017)

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A breakfast break that changed face of Raleigh

On this day in 1831: In Raleigh, a workman who goes to breakfast in the midst of soldering leaks in the zinc roof accidentally burns down the Capitol.

Backers of Fayetteville, a larger town with livelier commerce — that was just recovering from its own disastrous fire — will lobby unsuccessfully to have the capital relocated there.

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David Sedaris gets a job (and maybe an alarm clock?)

“March 28, 1979

“Raleigh

“I found a job. Today I’ll work, really work, for the first time since December. I’ve been hired as a waiter at a little restaurant next to the Arthur Murray Dance Studio called the Breakfast House, so I’m up at five. The last time I was up at five was because I hadn’t gone to bed yet.”

— From “Theft by Finding: Diaries (1977-2002)” by David Sedaris (2017)

Sedaris spent the late ’70s and early ’80s in Raleigh, working odd jobs, making art and getting high. Despite his record of unreliable narration   “Theft by Finding” more often than not struck me as credibly poignant. The guy can sure tell a story.

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