As early as 1913, North Carolina municipalities were empowered to collect local taxes by issuing license plates. The most recent I’ve seen: Blowing Rock 2010.
Most only named the town, but some took the opportunity to self-promote. Take that, Wilson and Tarboro and Rocky Mount!
“Wilson, North Carolina… has been home since 1926 to a memorial that commemorated the Revolution and the Confederacy: It originally featured a massive central column depicting the Stars and Stripes and the flag of the Confederate States of America, flanked by two water fountains — one for whites, one for blacks. It apparently outlasted its welcome sometime during the 1960s. Without fanfare, the fountain was moved from the court house to an inconspicuous park, and the fountains were replaced by small granite caps. Today you would be unlikely to recognize it as a one-time segregated water fountain….”
— From “I’ve studied the history of Confederate memorials. Here’s what to do about them” by W. Fitzhugh Brundage at Vox (Aug. 18)
Professor Brundage was into Confederate monuments before Confederate monuments were
Does anyone have an image of the Wilson monument before its dual water fountains were removed?
On this day in 1935: The first ABC store in North Carolina opens in Wilson, with a line of customers waiting — so many that more than 100 had to be turned away at the 6 p.m. closing time.
— From “ABCs of N.C. liquor sales” by Ben Steelman, part of a fact-packed and entertaining Wilmington Star News project on “What We Drink in North Carolina.”
“It’s unfortunate to begin “Cooked” [by Michael Pollan] with a section about fire, since the world of barbecue is such a world of showboating. In this realm, ‘O.K., but that’s not barbecue,’ is a serious insult, and Ed Mitchell, who ‘just might be the first pit master to have handlers,’ refers to his own biography as ‘the Ed Mitchell story.’ Mr. Mitchell drops the word ‘authentic’ so often that Mr. Pollan begins to fear ‘that I’d opened the spigot on a hydrant of barbecue blarney.’ Nevertheless, he ventures to Wilson, N.C., to learn how to cook a whole hog over a fire.”
— From “Finally, Maybe, We Are What We Cook” by Janet Maslin in the New York Times (April 15)
“[By 1903] it hardly mattered that Coca-Cola contained nothing but the merest trace of either drug named in its trademark. People were growing frightened….’Every ingredient [in Coca-Cola] is a poison,’ the Wilson (N.C.) Daily News warned its readers, ‘and not long hence each unhappy victim of this pernicious tipple, like the opium fiend of the East, may take his neighbor by the hand and say, “Brother, what ailed thee, to seek so dire a cure?” ‘ ”
— From “Secret Formula: How Brilliant Marketing & Salesmanship Made Coca-Cola the Best Known Product in the World” by Frederick Allen (1999)
— 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.
“Roger’s long torturous season [1961, in which he hit a record 61 homers] was over…He had committed to a traveling, postseason home-run-derby exhibition that also featured Harmon Killebrew and Jim Gentile…. He had a miserable experience. Again, the press was at the heart of his problems. Gentile recalls:
” ‘We went to Wilson, Raleigh-Durham, Greensboro and a couple of other places…. After spending a whole season being given a hard time by hostile reporters in New York, having a bunch of new writers on his back was tough for him. He told them, “If I had known that you were going to ask me the same old questions, I would have brought a tape with me.”
” ‘In Wilson we had a real nice crowd, but then what Roger said wound up in the papers and it cut us down a little. They didn’t write anything nice about us after that ….
” ‘Poor Roger couldn’t go anywhere. He’d step out of the hotel and people were chasing him… I thought of Roger when I saw what happened to the Beatles.’ ”
— From “Roger Maris: Baseball’s Reluctant Hero” by Tom Clavin and Danny Peary (2010)
Maris died in 1985. Killebrew, whose only minor league experience came with the Charlotte Hornets in 1956, died last week. Gentile, 76, lives in Edmond, Okla.
“For years, whenever I returned to New York from visits to North Carolina and failed to bubble with enthusiasm while reporting on my barbecue eating to the displaced Carolinians I knew, they would question me about precisely where in the state I had been.
“Then they’d solemnly inform me that I had eaten west of Rocky Mount and the superior barbecue in North Carolina is east of Rocky Mount — unless I’d been east of Rocky Mount, in which case I was informed that every bit of the North Carolina barbecue you wouldn’t throw rocks at is found west of Rocky Mount. I finally concluded that someone who grew up in Kansas City is unlikely to make it to the right side of Rocky Mount….
“[In 2002] while tucking into the barbecue provided by E. R. Mitchell of Mitchell’s Bar-B-Q in Wilson, North Carolina, I realized that I had finally gotten myself on the right side of Rocky Mount.”
— From “Feeding a Yen: Savoring Local Specialties from Kansas City to Cuzco” by Calvin Trillin (2004)
— Looking for the Lost Colony in all the wrong places?
— “Bear hunting highlights Asheville’s cultural divide”
— Who you calling “Buddy row“?
— How a Confederate veteran did right by five Union dead in Richmond County.
— Neogenealogists eager to shepherd black sheep.
— Can Vollis Simpson “put Wilson on the map”?