“Is Andy Griffith our Robert Burns? One should argue Whitman or Poe, or even Frost, makes for a richer comparison. Certainly self-invented Whitman, who loved Burns, is the triumphant American version — yet the Whitman house in Camden, New Jersey, receives scant visitors. The same is true for Poe’s tidy home in Baltimore, now temporarily closed for lack of community support; and poor Frost’s New Hampshire farmhouse was vandalized and set aflame by a horde of drunken teenagers, who literally pissed on his stuff. Maybe these aren’t fair comparisons. But in the second half of the 20th century, television is popular culture.
“Perhaps whatever impulse propelled Keats in the 19th century — and Clark Gable, Irving Berlin, Joe Louis, and the Prince of Wales over a century later — to make a pilgrimage to the simple birthplace of poet Robert Burns, propels people to commune with the spirit of Andy Griffith in Mount Airy.
“The city earned over $100 million last year because people want to witness the place where this man came into being, and as any casual observer can discern from fans talking on the candlestick courthouse phone, they desire to exist inside his fiction.”
– From “Our Town: Andy Griffith and the Humor of Mourning” by Evan Smith Rakoff” in the Los Angeles Review of Books (April 20, 2013)
Posted in Just A Bite | Tagged andy griffith, evan smith rakoff, los angeles review of books, mount airy nc, robert burns | Leave a Comment »
“The University of North Carolina Extension Bulletin in 1925 published a booklet of historical pageants for youths, ‘Children of Old Carolina,’ by Ethel Theodora Rockwell. … Any elementary school in North Carolina was obliged to send $10 for each performance [it staged], while those outside North Carolina had to pay $25.
“The cast of ‘Children of Old Carolina’ include ‘colored’ characters played by children, presumably in blackface. When the character of a ‘negro boy,’ playing a lively tune on a banjo, enters, the ‘colored children carrying baskets and bags of cotton’ join him onstage singing, ‘Dis cott’n want a-pickin’ so bad’…
“The play encourages children to act out the revised history of an Old South populated by happy African American slaves who cannot wait to pick cotton.”
– From “Raising Racists: The Socialization of White Children in the Jim Crow South” by Kristina DuRocher (2011)
Posted in Tar Heelia | Tagged children of carolina, Ethel Theodora Rockwell, Kristina DuRocher, raising racists, unc extension bulletin | 1 Comment »
On this day in 1952: Collier’s magazine profiles Grady Cole as “Mr. Dixie.” Cole, a homespun announcer who wakes up the Piedmont every morning on WBT, has been Charlotte’s premier celebrity since 1929.
“Cole says he’s still not a professional radio man,” Collier’s notes. “But he snows under all rivals, and his droll news and weather reports bring him $100,000 a year.” His share of the Charlotte audience: 71 percent.
Gov. Kerr Scott is credited with the state’s massive rural road-building program in the early ’50s, but it was Cole who generated popular support with his long-running “Get Farmers Out of the Mud” campaign.
Posted in On This Day | Tagged charlotte nc, collier's magazine, grady cole, kerr scott, wbt | Leave a Comment »
The North Carolina Collection Gallery proudly announces the launch of Carolina Keepsakes, a digital collection of some of the Gallery’s most interesting and significant items.
As the main photographer for this project, one of my favorite items is the shaving kit of David L. Swain, president of UNC and former governor of North Carolina. This polished and engraved wooden box opens with a tiny key. What must have been routine for Swain felt like opening a treasure chest to me. You can see photographs of all the delicately crafted razors and glass jars nestled in their individual compartments. One hollow spot in the box did not have a handle. I thought I must have found a secret compartment! I used a delicate tool to lift up the wooden piece, but, alas, there were no hidden messages or shaving secrets that had lay dormant for 145 years.
Chang and Eng engraving
Another item I encourage you to view is the watercolor portrait on ivory of Chang and Eng Bunker. The image has been reproduced many times, but never before has it been available in such a high-quality format. We have two images online. If you click on the thumbnail of the second image (without the frame) and use the slider to zoom in, you can see how the artist painted fine details in the eyes and hair. This souvenir of the twin’s trip to Paris ca. 1835 is definitely a significant Carolina Keepsake.
We hope you enjoy browsing Carolina Keepsakes as much as we enjoyed working on it.
Posted in From the Stacks, Just A Bite, Memorabilia Moment, Tar Heelia, Tar Talk | Leave a Comment »
For decades, patriotic souvenir hunters have chipped away at Plymouth Rock and cut fragments from White House curtains. Less exuberant collectors satisfy themselves with the mass-produced trinkets available at historic sites. In a recent article on Smithsonian.com, curator Larry Bird attributes this behavior to our desire to “touch” the past by owning a piece of our nation’s history.
The “souvenir mania” he describes inspired us to look through the Gallery’s own collection of relics. One of these keepsakes is a rifle ball embedded in a piece of wood. Inscribed on the back of this piece is “Rifle Ball, Battle at Bentonville, the Last Battle of the War between the States.” This 2 x 2.25 inch fragment was taken from a structure at Bentonville Battlefield as a memento of North Carolina’s largest Civil War battle.
Some relics are associated with revered historical figures, such as this unassuming half-inch piece of fabric, a fragment of the braid from General Robert E. Lee’s dress uniform donated in 1930 to the Library by one of Lee’s cousins.
The Gallery holds a number of souvenirs and relics, and most of these are related to the Civil War. The collection of these is a testament to a universal human desire to connect with monumental events and historic personages of the past.
What relics or souvenirs have allowed you to touch the past?
Posted in Artifact of the Month, History, Memorabilia Moment, Tar Heelia, Tar Talk | 1 Comment »
“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)
Posted in Tar Heelia | Tagged ed mitchell, janet maslin, michael pollan, nc barbecue, wilson nc | Leave a Comment »
Noah Charney: I’ve read of some eccentric writing habits of yours, involving hotel rooms without pictures on the walls, sherry, and headgear. How did you first come upon that cocktail for writing success, and has the routine evolved over your career?
Maya Angelou: And headgear! Ha! It was head ties, not headgear! Well, I was married a few times, and one of my husbands was jealous of me writing. When I write, I tend to twist my hair. Something for my small mind to do, I guess. When my husband would come into the room, he’d accuse me, and say, “You’ve been writing!” As if it was a bad thing. He could tell because of my hair, so I learned to hide my hair with a turban of some sort.
I do still keep a hotel room in my hometown [Winston-Salem] and pay for it by the month. I go around 6:30 in the morning. I have a bedroom, with a bed, a table, and a bath. I have Roget’s Thesaurus, a dictionary, and the Bible.
Which edition of the Bible?
Uh—that’s a good question, it’s slipped my mind. Name a famous edition.
Anything else in the hotel room?
Usually a deck of cards and some crossword puzzles. Something to occupy my little mind. I think my grandmother taught me that. She didn’t mean to, but she used to talk about her “little mind.” So when I was young, from the time I was about 3 until 13, I decided that there was a Big Mind and a Little Mind. And the Big Mind would allow you to consider deep thoughts, but the Little Mind would occupy you, so you could not be distracted. It would work crossword puzzles or play Solitaire, while the Big Mind would delve deep into the subjects I wanted to write about.
So I keep the room. I have all the paintings and any decoration taken out of the room. I ask the management and house-keeping not to enter the room, just in case I’ve thrown a piece of paper on the floor, I don’t want it discarded. About every two months I get a note slipped under the door: “Dear Ms. Angelou, please let us change the linen. We think it may be moldy!” But I’ve never slept there, I’m usually out of there by 2. And then I go home and I read what I’ve written that morning, and I try to edit then. Clean it up. And that’s how I write books!
– From “Maya Angelou: How I Write” by Noah Charney at Daily Beast (April 10, 2013)
Angelou, Reynolds Professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University since 1981, is most recently the author of the memoir “Mom & Me & Mom.”
Posted in Just A Bite | Tagged maya angelou, wake forest unversity, Winston-Salem | Leave a Comment »
“The R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., formerly one of the largest subsidiaries of the American Tobacco Co., contemplates entering the cigarette manufacturing field.
“The main plug and smoking tobacco factories of the company are located at Winston-Salem, N.C., but it has not definitely decided as yet whether or not to locate the cigarette manufacturing end of its business in that city. The uncertainty is due to the fact that a bill framed to prevent cigarette manufacture is before the North Carolina state legislature.
“The company has two large warehouses in Richmond, and in the event of unfavorable legislation in North Carolina, the cigarette manufacturing for the company will be undertaken in Virginia.”
– From “If Legislation is Unfavorable in North Carolina, Plant May Be Located in Virginia” in the Wall Street Journal (Feb. 22, 1913)
I haven’t found details on the proposed ban on cigarette manufacturing, but it must not have turned out to be a problem — just a few months later Reynolds’ Winston-Salem plant would be turning out 425 million Camels per year.
Posted in Just A Bite | Tagged camel cigarettes, r j reynolds tobacco, richmond va, wall street journal, winston-salem nc | 1 Comment »