Grove Park Inn as internment camp

“In spring 1942 — shortly after the United States entered World War II — the State Department leased the Grove Park Inn as an internment camp for Axis diplomats, family members and servants.

“ ‘All of this is strictly in accordance with international law,’ the [Asheville Citizen reported]. ‘While the Italians, Bulgarians and Rumanians are here they will be isolated from the community and protected from the curious.’

“Subsequent information arrived only after the 221 prisoners (the first official number provided to residents) departed [on May 6] for their homelands in exchange for U.S. diplomats held abroad.

“According to the Citizen, the foreign diplomats had paid for their stay at the Grove Park Inn. ‘Shuffleboard, lawn bowling, badminton, and bridge were reported to have been the chief amusement’ during their confinement.”

— From “Foreign diplomats held hostage at the Grove Park Inn, 1942″ by Thomas Calder in Mountain Xpress (Sept. 6)

1918 epidemic found new use for flasks

“The social impact of the [1918 flu] epidemic extended well beyond medical masks.

“According to the [Asheville Citizen], the health scare led to the reemergence of flasks, despite the state’s 1908 referendum on Prohibition.  Rather than nipping on whiskey, owners now carried mouthwash in the containers. ‘[I]t’s easier to practice oral hygiene when the disinfectant comes from the receptacle which formerly held … Scotch,’ the paper observed.”

— From “The 1918 influenza changes social norms” by Thomas Calder in Mountain Xpress (Oct. 31)

Cherokee face ‘existential struggle’ in marketplace

“There’s a cultural amnesia about what it means to be Native American, says Cherokee woodcarver Christy Long. ‘When you look at what people understand about a nativeyou get people who only understand natives from [a] romantic point of view.’

“Such misconceptions mean tourists to Cherokee seek headdresses and dreamcatchers — neither of which are native to the tribe. That doesn’t mean, however, that headdresses and dreamcatchers aren’t sold. ‘When you’re trying to make a living, you still have to look at those things that people will purchase, so that you can make money to feed your family,’ says Long. ‘It’s [an] existential struggle for a native person.’ ”

— From “Cherokee artists consider life beyond the mountains” by Thomas Calder in Mountain Xpress (Dec. 22)

From the Miscellany vault: Examples of Cherokee image vs. reality in postcards and pinback buttons.

 

‘What of a state’ that refuses to accept fair criticism?

“[I am] pained at the implication in your letter that I was ashamed of North Carolina — only what is N.C. willing to do for me? I don’t think there is a place there now for anyone who cares for anything besides Rotary and Lions and Boosters Clubs, real-estate speculation, ‘heap much’ money, social fawning, good roads, new mills — what, in a word, they choose to call ‘Progress, Progress, Progress.’.…

“N.C. needs honest criticism — rather than the false, shallow ‘we-are-the-finest-state-and-greatest-people-in-the-country’ kind of thing. An artist who refuses to accept fair criticism of his work will never go far. What of a state?.…”

— From Thomas Wolfe’s letter to his mother, Julia, on April 21, 1924. Excerpted in “Thomas Wolfe v. the state of North Carolina, 1924” by Thomas Calder in Mountain Xpress (July 19, 2016).

Wolfe, 23, had just begun teaching at New York University.  It would be another five years before publication of “Look Homeward, Angel.”