Ngram: Good old mountain dew? Not exactly

More phrase-frequency charts from Google Books Ngram Reader:

— mountain dew vs. Mountain Dew

— Michael Jordan vs. Thomas Wolfe, Andy Griffith and Sam Ervin

— Lumbee Indians vs. Catawba Indians

— Wilmington 10 vs. Chicago Seven

— Charlotte Hornets vs. Charlotte Bobcats

First in flight no match for latest in millinery

“In talking with some of the people who live on the outer banks — bankers, they are called — I soon discovered that wrecks like that of the [Carroll A. Deering in 1921] have a way of serving as points of personal reference. One venerable gentleman who lives on Hatteras recalled that when the barkentine [a sailing ship with at least three masts] J. W. Dresser came ashore on July 23, 1895, it was his 12th birthday; a lady told me that she well recollected the wreck of the schooner Catherine M. Monahan off Ocracoke on August 24, 1910, because she had the worst toothache in her life; another lady remembered that some of the nicest hats she ever owned were acquired at a salvage auction on Nags Head beach after the steamer Elizabeth was blown ashore on March 19, 1919.

“ ‘There was everything aboard the Elizabeth,’ she said. ‘She was on her way from Baltimore to the Canal Zone and she carried everything from three automobiles to a case of silk shirts. The men had a lighter [a barge] and a schooner boat and they unloaded her cargo in that. Soon as they’d get a load of stuff ashore, it would be auctioned off…. I bought a case of white hats, a dozen, the nicest hats you ever saw. There was much more on the Elizabeth than the men could get off. A big tide came in and she floated herself on the fifth day and that was the end of the auction….’

“Few events in the more recent history of the outer banks, I gathered, exceeded the Elizabeth auction in importance. The achievement of the Wright brothers at Kitty Hawk, only a few miles from where the Elizabeth grounded herself, was obviously nowhere in the same class. And I gathered, also, that there was a certain amount of nostalgia for the days when ‘going wrecking’ — plundering wrecked ships — was the leading cottage industry of the outer banks.”

— From “How Cape Hatteras earned its evil notoriety….” by Hamilton Basso in American Heritage, February 1956

Basso, a journalist and novelist (“The View from Pompey’s Head,” 1954), lived for a time in a cabin in Pisgah Forest, where he sometimes hosted Thomas Wolfe.

Thomas Wolfe, a ‘great, obnoxious beast’?

“Thomas Wolfe, the novelist, has just taken an apartment at 865 First Avenue….Going down in the elevator the other morning, he was joined by a lady with a big police dog. The dog took an immediate liking to Mr. Wolfe, and began jumping up on him, and kissing him. Mr. Wolfe, who is only moderately fond of dogs, pushed this one away, whereat the lady spoke up sharply. ‘Wolfe!’  she said. ‘You great, obnoxious beast!’

“Being a gentleman, Mr. Wolfe made no reply, but he was terribly hurt. He spent the rest of the day wandering along the waterfront in the rain, bumping into warehouses and brooding, like a character in one of his own novels. However, the matter was cleared up when he returned home that evening. The elevator man explained that the police dog is named Wolf …. The lady… was bawling out the dog and not the novelist, whom, as a matter of fact,  she rather admires.”

—  The New Yorker, March 6, 1937

I’d be surprised if this Talk of the Town amusement wasn’t apocryphal. In fact, it almost predicts the Reggie Jackson (Eddie Murphy, et al.) urban legend of half a century later


When Tom Wolfe found Thomas (no kin) Wolfe

George Plimpton: What about Thomas Wolfe? Did he float into your consciousness at all?

Tom Wolfe: Yes, he did. I can remember that on the shelves at home there were…  Look Homeward Angel and Of Time and the River. Of Time and the River had just come out [in 1935] when I [at age 4] was aware of his name. My parents had a hard time convincing me that he was no kin whatsoever. My attitude was, Well, what’s he doing on the shelf then? But as soon as I was old enough I became a tremendous fan of Thomas Wolfe and remain so to this day. I ignore his fluctuations on the literary stock market.

— From The Paris Review (The Art of Fiction No. 123)

This new Google tool tracks the literary stocks of Thomas and Tom.

In sync with the ‘inner rhythm’ of Thomas Wolfe

“The little town of Monroe [Georgia], where I spent my 14th summer, seemed miles from everywhere….It was there one morning that my older cousin gave me ‘Look Homeward, Angel’ by Thomas Wolfe and insisted that I begin reading immediately.

“Four hours later, at the height of the afternoon heat, I let go the book, hands trembling, face flushed. I had finished only some 50 pages and my life had been changed. I was shaken, not so much by the specific content of the writing as by the  quality — the rhythm if you will — of the experience….

“Years later, on a trip to Asheville, North Carolina, I visited Wolfe’s home and grave. I met people who had known him intimately and had lunch and dinner with his sister.  But his personal presence was not so well rounded and clearly defined on that trip as it had been on those long, hot days and magical nights when I first read ‘Look Homeward, Angel.’ ”

— From “The Silent Pulse: A search for the Inner Rhythm that Exists in Each of Us” (2006) by George B. Leonard (UNC Chapel Hill ’48).

Leonard, an accomplished journalist but better known as a founder and popularizer of the human potential movement, died Jan. 6 in Mill Valley, Calif. He was 86.