Coca-Cola was the real thing…. Rheumacide wasn’t

“Dear Sir:

“Coca-Cola has had a big run at my fountain, and is gaining in popularity all the time.

“A line of soda drinks is incomplete without it.

“Coca-Cola has come to stay!”

— From an 1892 letter to Coca-Cola from Raleigh pharmacist J. H[al] Bobbitt

Four years later, Bobbitt moved to Baltimore to manufacture a “general blood purifier” called Rheumacide.

In 1915 Bobbitt Chemical Co. was found guilty of violating the Food and Drugs Act for selling a product that “contains no ingredient or combination of ingredients capable of producing the therapeutic effects which were claimed.”

 

Welcome to the mansion, Miss Hepburn — need a light?

On this day in 1941: After appearing at Raleigh’s State Theatre in the stage version of “The Philadelphia Story,” Katharine Hepburn attends a cast party at the Executive Mansion hosted by Gov. and Mrs. J. Melville Broughton.

“Miss Hepburn wore a mink coat over tan gabardine slacks and jacket, with white blouse of crepe silk and brown suede shoes with crepe rubber soles,” reports the News & Observer. “Her informal attire and equally informal manner put at ease all her admirers.”

The accompanying photo shows her enjoying a smoke while conversing with the Broughtons.

Hepburn, 33, tells reporters she hasn’t seen enough of North Carolina to form an opinion, “But the beds in the hotel are nice.”

 

In China, a 50-year future for N.C. tobacco farmers?

“The China National Tobacco Corp. is by far the largest cigarette maker in the world. In 2013 it manufactured about 2.5 trillion cigarettes. Its next largest competitor, Philip Morris International, produced 880 billion. …

“Last year, China National opened an office in suburban Raleigh to facilitate its growing purchases of American tobacco…..

“A few years ago, a delegation from China National showed up at the farm of Thaddeus ‘Pender’ Sharp III, whose family has grown tobacco near Sims, N.C., since the late 1800s. Wearing business attire and bearing gifts, they told Sharp they wanted to buy some of his tobacco. Sharp says China’s cigarette market reminds him of the U.S. of his childhood, when ‘people smoked everywhere but church’ and the government didn’t care much about tobacco’s effects. Inevitably, he says, China will strengthen its antismoking laws….For now, though, China National represents a way for the Sharp family to prosper.

” ‘It’s not like we are going to quit because 50 years from now everyone might not smoke,’ says Sharp, who hangs his gift from China National, a hand-painted scroll, near the door of his office. ‘Hell, no! We are going to make a living for 50 years.’ ”

From “The Chinese Government Is Getting Rich Selling Cigarettes” b at businessweek.com (Dec. 11)

 

Lexicographers stumped by ‘fade barn’

“Of all the major American dialects, South Mouth is the most consistently difficult to translate.

“Among the most amusing examples is the expression a fade barn that the editors of the Dictionary of American Regional English tried to track down for a couple of years. The editors knew that the expression existed because field interviews had recorded it in North Carolina without establishing its meaning.

“When a Raleigh newspaper joined in the search, the answer was quickly apparent. Dozens of correspondents chided the editors for not knowing, in the words of one North Carolinian, that ‘a fade barn is whar you stow fade (feed) for the livestock.'”

— From “The Facts on File Dictionary of American Regionalisms”  by Robert Hendrickson (2000)

 

Ted Williams makes secret trip to Raleigh (shh!)

“In the late 1940s, when the Red Sox were in Washington to play the Senators, Williams received a telegram from a doctor in North Carolina who was attending a dying boy. The doctor said the boy talked about him constantly and wondered if Williams could send him an autographed ball to give him a lift. Ted flew down [to Raleigh] to deliver the ball in person and returned to Washington that night.”

— From “The Kid: The Immortal Life of Ted Williams” by Ben Bradlee Jr. (2013)

According to Bradlee, the often-cantankerous Williams made at least three such long-distance deliveries, always avoiding publicity about his generosity.

John Blythe has detailed Williams’ earlier stay in Chapel Hill for Pre-Flight School.

 

Oakwood architectural dispute goes national

Lewis Mumford wrote that, in a city, ‘Time becomes visible.’ Not, it would appear, in Raleigh, North Carolina, where a city board has just decided that a rather discreet and understated modern house might need to be torn down because it damages the ambience of a historic district, which is to say it destroys the illusion that the [Oakwood] neighborhood is a place in which time has stopped….

“It’s especially odd that this is happening here, since there is a lot of history for modern architecture in North Carolina, which actually has more significant modern houses than any state except California and New York…”

— From “Is This House Too Modern to Exist?” by Paul Goldberger in Vanity Fair (April 29)

 

Hacker trackers find prey in Raleigh apartment

On this day in 1995: After a 24-hour stakeout of his Raleigh apartment building, FBI agents capture Kevin Mitnick, “the most wanted computer hacker in the world.”  Mitnick, 31, had used his sophisticated skills to worm his way into the nation’s telephone and cellular telephone networks and vandalize government, corporate and university computer systems.
He first came to national attention at age 17 when, as a prank, he tapped into a North American Air Defense Command computer.

Mitnick’s crucial mistake: breaking into the home computer of Tsutomu Shimomura, a San Diego computer security expert, who became obsessed with tracking him down.

Most recently Mitnick has worked as a security consultant.

 

Pick up the phone, it’s Lee Harvey Oswald

Fifty years ago today — the day after Oswald killed Kennedy, the day before Ruby killed Oswald — a telephone call may have been attempted from the Dallas jail to a number in Raleigh. Regardless, no call went through.

This lengthy and evenhanded account of the episode appeared in the News & Observer in 1980, but what has become known to the conspiracy community as “the Raleigh Call” continues to defy convincing explanation.

 

Bluegrass master shares ‘Moment’ with Raleigh fans

“In bluegrass circles, it is being called ‘The Moment,’ and some of the people who saw it wept. I heard about it from Gillian Welch. It involved the master guitar player Tony Rice, who was giving a speech late last month in Raleigh, North Carolina, on the occasion of being inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Association Hall of Fame.

“Rice, who is sixty-one [and lives in Reidsville], is a revered figure in bluegrass…. He released his first record in 1973, and the shadow of his articulate and forceful style falls across the playing of nearly all other bluegrass guitarists. If you play bluegrass guitar, you have to come to terms with Rice the way portrait photographers have to come to terms with Avedon….”

— From “An Astonishing Moment from a Bluegrass Legend” by  Alec Wilkinson at newyorker.com (Oct. 14, 2013)  

Wilkinson, a New Yorker staff writer since 1980, has also written appreciatively about North Carolinians  Doc Watson and Garland Bunting.

 

A ‘wide and pitiful difference’ during Reconstruction

“I often had occasion to notice [in the Carolinas and Georgia] the wide and pitiful difference between the residents of the cities and large towns and the residents of the country. There is everywhere a rigid spirit of caste….

“Thus, Charleston has much intelligence, and considerable genuine culture; but go 20 miles away, and you are in the land of the barbarians. So, Raleigh is a city in which there is love of beauty, and interest in education; but the common people of the county are at least 40 years behind the same class of people in Vermont.”

— From “Three Months Among the Reconstructionists” by Sidney Andrews in The Atlantic (February 1866)

Andrews, a prolific correspondent for Northern journals, spent September, October and November 1865, traveling North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia by stage and railway.  After having  “had much conversation with many individuals of nearly all classes,” he came away repulsed by the region’s present and future. Here’s how he viewed  “the native North Carolinian.”