Winston-Salem’s little ‘puddle jumper’ that could

On this day in 1948: Piedmont Airlines, headquartered in Winston-Salem, inaugurates passenger service with a DC-3 flight from Wilmington to Charlotte to Cincinnati.

Over the next four decades Piedmont will grow from what competitors dismiss as a “puddle jumper” to the nation’s eighth largest airline. In 1987 Piedmont is bought by Washington-based USAir [later US Airways] for $1.6 billion.

Pictured: Pinback button promoting Piedmont’s new flights from Charlotte to London Gatwick in 1987; plastic badge for child passengers; pinback button promoting Piedmont’s in-state Florida shuttle service, circa 1985.


Cornwallis pondered army of former slaves

“More than any other British field commander, General Charles Cornwallis considered creating an army of former slaves. Although he ultimately rejected that course, during his drive through North Carolina Cornwallis transformed the black people who trailed his army into foraging units.

“They did their work too well, and he ordered that ‘no Negroe shall be Suffred to Carry Arms on any pretence’…. At last Cornwallis called a halt to the ‘Shameful Maurauding’ and ‘Scandalous Crimes,’ [but] the mobilization of black stragglers had already had a powerful effect….One North Carolina slaveholder was certain Cornwallis could have raised an army of ‘500 Negroes’ in Wilmington alone.”

— From “Many Thousands Gone: The First Two Centuries of Slavery in North America” by Ira Berlin (1998)

Backstage with the Charlie Daniels Band

Today is the 75th birthday of Wilmington (Leland) native Charlie Daniels, whose long country-musical career accelerated with the release of “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” in 1979.

Especially in its early years, promoters of appearances by the Charlie Daniels Band often created their own backstage passes. Here’s a sampling.

Charlie Daniels Backstage Pass 1

Charlie Daniels Band Backstage pass 4

Occupy Wall Street movement spreads to link dump

—  “Yes, Dear, a Battleship; No, Dear, I’m Cold-Sober”

— Ken Burns missed quite a scene at the Eureka Saloon.

— $30 for a year’s worth of “Freedom, Sacrifice, Memory.”

— Memphis, Gibson. Nashville, Fender. Asheville, Moog.

— “We wish to negotiate with you about the Bodys of the twins….”



Yelling ‘Firestarter’ in a crowded theater would be hard

It bombed at the box office, but this 1984 sci-fi thriller marked the beginning of Wilmington’s lively movie industry.

Pictured: Pinback button depicting 9-year-old Drew Barrymore, probably worn by staff in moviehouses or video rental stores.


Link dump shrugs off Iowa straw poll, heads to N.H.

— Captured battle flags returning to N.C. coast  (and not everybody is happy about it).

— Tidbits of Tar Heelia tucked in David McCullough’s latest.

— For Colored Agricultural Fair, “The whole city participated, just like Bele Chere.”

Nitrate negatives yield a (slow-loading) gallery of “Old Wilmington Mystery Photos.”

— Who would steal Mitch Easter’s storied guitars?


A ship is launched, a ship is lost

“At 19.58 hours on 30 Jul, 1942, the unescorted Cranford was hit by one torpedo 

from U-155 about 250 miles east-southeast of Barbados, as she was proceeding on

a nonevasive course at 8.6 knots because of a lack of fuel and daylight conditions.


“The torpedo struck on the starboard side between #2 and #3 holds. Her cargo

caused the ship to sink bow first within three minutes. The complement of nine

officers, 27 men and 11 armed guards (the ship was armed with one 3in, four .50cal

and two .30cal guns) left the ship in one lifeboat and two rafts, but most men

had to jump overboard. Six officers (among them the master), three crewmen and

two armed guards died.


“U-155 surfaced, questioned the survivors and asked them if they could do anything

for them. Two injured survivors were treated on board the U-boat, and water,

supplies and directions to land were given before U-155 left. Several hours after the

sinking the survivors were picked up by the Spanish steam tanker Castillo Alemenara

and landed at Curaçao on 3 August.”


— From a U.S. Navy account ( of the torpedoing of the

S.S. Cranford, a merchant ship carrying chrome ore and cotton to the U.S.

I’m struck by the U-boat crew’s polite treatment of survivors — do

Miscellany readers know if this was typical?

Pictured: Pinback button distributed at launching of S.S. Cranford

Link dump works weekends to serve you better

— Greensboro to Wilmington by boat?

— Reared in Granville County, he was Tennessee’s wealthiest free black — and a slaveholder.

— The before and after life of a 1956 National Science Fair winner.

— Tobacco heritage may be embarrassment to baseball  in Tampa, but not in Wilson.

— On eve of labor landmark’s demolition, “I grabbed as much paper and stuff as I could.”

— Fontana: a dam site better, now that it’s incorporated.




N.C. Jews: Taxpayers but not officeholders

“North Carolina was one of the last states in the Union [preventing] Jews from holding public office.

“After [Rabbi Isaac Leeser of Philadelphia] encouraged Wilmington Jews to challenge this prohibition, they took up the cause, circulating a petition and running an ad in the local newspaper calling on the state legislature to repeal it.  In 1858, the Wilmington Journal also called for its repeal, arguing that ‘Jews pay taxes and are liable to perform all civil duties.’  Despite this effort, the ban on Jewish officeholders was not removed until 1868.”

— From “Encyclopedia of Southern Jewish Communities” (Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life)

Link dump survives another week on ‘Idol’

— “Like no-one else’s, Mr. Taylor’s music distills a primal American yearning that can never be completely satisfied….”

Descendant adds color to “Arrangement in Black and White.”

— “He will not be hanged until the mail train comes through tomorrow.”

Lost Cause was lost on W. J. Cash.

— “We left Wilmington… to witness and, if allowed, to participate in the bombardment of Fort Sumter”….  Road trip!