Volume 12 • Issue 3 December 2016
Merry Christmas “And you thought we were sleeping” December 2016
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C O N T E N T S
The Courts — Then and Now In light of 50 years since the inception of court reform in North Carolina, High Country Magazine takes a look at the changes in the court system, which created a unified order of the courts across the state.
32 Stronger Together
When life gives you lemons, think of the Barkers in Ashe County. Tim and Ginny have endured more than enough curve balls tossed at them, yet they are standing tall, smiling and following God’s path.
44 Husband-Wife Troupe
Karen Sabo and Derek Davidson of Boone founded the professional theatre company, In/Visible Theatre, in 2012, when they debuted the “Bumbershoot” production in New York. The duo is fresh off the inaugural BOLO Fest in the High Country.
54 It Takes a Village
From the wild auction house days of the 1970s to running his own business in the digital age, local entrepreneur Charlie Travis has been selling fine art and jewelry in the High Country for decades. Read about his story, his inspiration, his secrets to success and his business formerly known as Old World Galleries that's now named Village Jewelers.
66 Running for Change
After a severe car accident and subsequent weight gain to 300-plus pounds, Bobby Cordell, who grew up on the backside of Beech Mountain, sold his car, moved closer to town and decided to start running — everywhere.
on the cover
n this month's cover is Peg Carino's painting called “And You Thought We Were Sleeping.” The scene is of the arched stone bridge at Tynecastle. Want to know more about Carino’s work? Contact her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or ring her up at 828-260-9399. Plus – read more about Carino on page 14.
Peg Carino 4
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READER SERVICES ABOUT US
The first High Country Press newspaper was published on May 5, 2005, and the first issue of High Country Magazine went to press in fall 2005. In March of 2012 the newspaper made the transformation to an online newspaper at our new website: www.HCPress.com. Our new â€œwebpaperâ€? is still packed with information that we present and package in easy-to-read formats with visually appealing layouts. Our magazine represents our shared love of our history, our landscape and our people. It celebrates our pioneers, our lifestyles, our differences and the remarkable advantages we enjoy living in the mountains. Our guiding principles are twofold: quality journalism makes a difference and customer care at every level is of the greatest importance. Our offices are located in downtown Boone, and our doors are always open to welcome visitors.
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Editor & Publisher Ken Ketchie
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came across a bit of good news while surfing the web a couple of weeks ago. We’ve been hearing about “Shop Local” for a number of years now. It’s been a campaign inspired by folks wanting to help locally owned businesses, many which have been struggling against the onslaught of competition from national chains and online behemoths. On top of the Great Recession, it’s no secret that the existence of stores owned and operated by our friends and neighbors has been at risk. But from the story I was reading, it seems that the concept of “Shop Local” may be starting to bear fruit. This story referenced a study done this summer that focused on people’s shopping habits for the upcoming holiday season. Among the consumers they interviewed, a whopping 73 percent said that they were planning on shopping at new or different stores than from years past, and two thirds said that included locally owned businesses in their hometown. The conclusion was that shoppers are beginning to again “crave distinctive merchandise and unique shopping experiences.” It went on to say, “the change in spending patterns has been spurred by consumers — particularly millennials — who are on the hunt for more unique merchandise, and are focused on personalization and local and handmade." This will be good news for Charlie Travis, who is featured in this month’s issue in a story about his retail jewelry business. When it comes to retail, you could say Charlie’s been around the block a few times. Our story starts with Charlie beginning his career in Blowing Rock in the early 1970s working at one of the three auction houses that thrived on Main Street. During this time, in 1976, he was the youngest license auctioneer in state of North Carolina at the age of 21. After gleaning knowledge and experience at the Fincke Gallery, it wasn’t long before he opened his own business, which ironically, would eventually be housed in one of the buildings that an auction gallery occupied. He would go on to have one of the largest stores on Main Street in Blowing Rock and was very successful. After an early retirement in 2003, Charlie tried his hand at the corporate world and quickly learned it wasn’t right for him. He belonged exactly where he had always been, in his own store in the High Country. He eventually reopened on King Street in downtown Boone, where his store, Village Jewelers, is thriving. He returned to find a dramatic change in the business landscape and learned that national competition and internet sales had changed people’s shopping habits once again; but like Charlie, small businesses haven’t given up. In their true entrepreneurial spirit they have adapted and fought back, and many now are prospering again. Charlie sums up the relevance of shopping local when you can because . . . “doing business with your neighbors means the same folks are there year after year to help you with all of your needs with personalized service.” So, this Holiday Season, follow the trend and jump on the bandwagon for Shopping Local. 6
High Country Magazine
Jesse Wood Jessica Isaacs Frank Ruggiero Virginia Roseman Karen Sabo
Contributing Photographers Frederica Georgia Candice Corbin
SHARE WITH FRIENDS You can share our magazine with friends that are out of town by sending them to our website. Just click on “Magazine” in the Menu Bar and that will take you to our online magazine where you can flip through an issue online - just like you would with a printed copy.
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Calendarof Events DECEMBER 2016
Anniversary Weekend, App Ski Mtn., appskimtn.com Winter Exhibition Celebration, Blowing Rock Art and History Museum, blowingrockmuseum.org
Holiday Stroll, Downtown Blowing Rock, blowingrock.com Studio K Youth Ballet Company: The Nutcracker, The Schaefer Center, theschaefercenter.org
SugarFest, EDGE of the WORLD Mini Games, Sugar Mountain, skisugar.com
Santa at Sugar, Sugar Mountain, skisugar.com Christmas Sing-Along at BRHAM, Blowing Rock Art and History Museum, blowingrockmuseum.org
Cookie Decorating and Ornament Making for Kids at the Lodge, Beech Mountain, beechmountainresort.com An Ensemble Christmas, Ensemble Stage at Valborg Theatre, ensemblestage.com
New Year’s Eve Extravaganza, App Ski Mtn., appskimtn.com
EDGE of the WORLD Snowboard Demo Days, USASA Slopestyle, Winterfest Beer Festival,
Totally Retro ’80s Ski Weekend, Beech Mountain,
National Winter Trails Day, Sugar Mountain, skisugar.com High Country Junior Race Series, Beech Mountain,
Shred for the Cup Rail Jam, App Ski Mtn., appskimtn.com
Septuagenarian (70 and Older) Party, Sugar Mountain,
January Old-Time Dance, Blowing Rock Art and History
Never Summer Demo, USASA Skier/Boarder X Finals, App Ski Mtn., appskimtn.com
Shred for the Cup Big Air, Appalachian Ski Mtn,
Easter Egg Hunt, Last Day of the Season Celebration,
WinterFest, Downtown Blowing Rock,
USASA Skier/Boarder X, App Ski Mtn., appskimtn.com
Sugar Mountain, skisugar.com
Sugar Mountain, skisugar.com
wRECklESS Rail Jam, Live Music at Beech Tree Bar and Grille, Beech Mountain, beechmountainresort.com Wounded Warrior Event, App Ski Mtn., appskimtn.com Richard T. Trundy Memorial Sugar Cup Competition,
Adaptive Ski Week, Beech Mountain, Museum, blowingrockmuseum.org
Shred for the Cup Slopestyle Finals, App Ski Mtn., appskimtn.com
USASA Slopestyle/Rail Jam, App Ski Mtn., appskimtn.
President’s Day Family Weekend, App Ski Mtn.,
Banked Slalom, Beech Mountain, beechmountainresort.com
Beech Mountain, beechmountainresort.com
USASA Slopestyle, Beech Mountain, beechmountainresort.com
Sugar Mountain, skisugar.com 7
College Week, Beech Mountain, beechmountainresort.com
Christmas Day Skiing, App Ski Mtn., appskimtn.com New Year’s Celebration, Sugar Mountain, skisugar.com New Year’s Eve Beech with Melissa Reaves at Beech Tree Bar and Grille, beechmountainresort.com
totally retro ‘80s ski weekend, beech mountain
High Country Magazine
Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour: Student Edition, The Schaefer Center, theschaefercenter.org Meltdown Games, App Ski Mtn., appskimtn.com
12 Days of Giving at the Boone Mall
ot your wish list ready to go? Take the kids over to the Boone Mall this holiday season to share your requests with big man! Local photography studio Boone Portraits will be on hand Christmas Eve and the days leading up to it to capture your perfect moment with Santa Claus. The mall is located at 1180 Blowing Rock Road in Boone. For more information, visit boonencmall.com or call 828-264-7286. For pricing information and turnaround information on portraits with Santa, contact Boone Portraits at 828-386-1310 or visit booneportraits.com. This year, Boone portraits will be orchestrating a 12 Days of Giving special, through which $1 of every Santa portrait made at the mall will support a different assigned nonprofit organization each day. The studio turned to the community on Facebook, and local friends voted for the agencies who will be featured. See the schedule for assigned agencies. Check out Old Saint Nickâ€™s 2016 holiday schedule at the Boone Mall:
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Thursday - Dec. 9: 4 to 6:30 p.m. (Supporting Ashe Humane Society)
Friday - Dec. 10: 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. (Supporting Western Watauga Food Outreach) Saturday - Dec. 11: 1 to 6:30 p.m. (Supporting Purple Heart Homes)
Thursday - Dec. 16: 4 to 6:30 p.m. (Supporting Shriners Hospitals for Children)
Friday - Dec. 17 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. (Supporting Boone United Methodist Church Haiti Relief Fund) Saturday - Dec. 18: 1-6:30 p.m. (Supporting The Childrenâ€™s Playhouse)
Thursday - Dec. 21: 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. (Supporting Quiet Givers)
Friday - Dec. 22: 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. (Supporting Avery County Humane Society)
Saturday - Dec. 23: 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. (Supporting Watauga Humane Society)
Christmas Eve - Dec. 24: 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
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High Country Magazine
Gunther Marks 40 Years At Sugar Mountain the Sugar Mountain Resort, now held in receivership, the victim of two warm winters, spiking interest rates, and the first oil embargo. Compared to the other southern ski mountains he’d seen, Sugar was huge. Jochl said ‘go’, and Stancil leased the failed resort with a two-year option to buy. With Jochl directing day to day operations, and Mother Nature delivering a long overdue cold and snowy winter, they opened on November 5th, an unheard of strategy at the time. One hundred fifty thousand skiers bought lift tickets that year, doubling the previous record, and Stancil exercised his purchase option before spring claimed the winter snows. Over the next four decades, Sugar Mountain’s reputation grew. Snowmaking and grooming techniques became a hallmark of Jochl’s operation. Ski racing found a home where Jochl reached Level 4 Technical Delegate status with the United States Ski Association, just one step below FIS World Cup Racing. And in good seasons and not so good seasons, Sugar delivered the best product conditions allowed on any given day. He raised two children by his first marriage, Andrew, an engineer who earned a patent in the development of a revolutionary joy-stick control in the Pisten Bully Sno-Cats his father drives, and Heather, who is learning the ski business in Vail, Colorado. During his years as the U.S. distributor of Volkl skis, which was headquartered at Sugar Gunther Jochl preparing for the 2017 season Mountain, he met his current wife Kim, who along with her twin sister Krista were signed to rowing up in the German border village of Sachrang, in the southern Alps surrounded Volkl contracts as members of the women’s U.S. Alpine Ski Team. They have a child together, by Austria, Gunther Jochl never saw a basketball until high school. Idyllic summers Olivia, who is an aspiring racer in the mold of her mother and aunt. All along, Jochl was driven to validate the viability of southern skiing as a sustainof youth were filled with hiking and herding, but “winter sports are what you do in the Alps,” he remembered. “Ski racing was natural and ski jumping and cross-country skiing. able industry. In 1986, along with Grady Moretz of Appalachian Ski Mountain, and Rick Coker of Cataloochie, they founded the North Carolina Ski Areas Association. Last year, an Even our school outings were centered around skiing.” Decades later, skiing remains the center of Jochl’s life. But for reasons easy enough to economic impact study funded by the association, published eye-opening statistics that explain, in spite of the sheer serendipity of it all, his passion has played out in the North included a summary dollar impact of almost $200 million annually from ski tourism in Carolina Blue Ridge. It was just another mountain village--a world away from his youth--yet North Carolina alone. He’s a former “Employer of the Year” award winner from the Employment Security Comnot so different at all. They called it Sugar Mountain. This season marks Jochl’s 40th year at the helm of the Sugar Mountain Resort, and his mission of North Carolina, and winner of the “Alfred Adams Employer of the Year” by the sixth year as its sole owner following decades of a fruitful partnership with his friend, and Boone Chamber of Commerce. A long-time member of the Town Council of the Village of Sugar Mountain, the incorposouthern skiing pioneer Dale Stancil. Together, they helped to define winter sport south of ration process of which he led with Stancil, Jochl has watched his mountain home prosper. the Mason-Dixon Line. His incredible journey began when he answered an ad in a newsletter calling for ski in- The village now maintains roads and other vital services and manages the popular tennis structors in the southern United States. “I wanted to be an engineer,” he remembered. “Math and golf facilities that have returned Sugar Mountain to the thriving four-seasons resort local developers had originally envisioned back in the late sixties. and Science were not a problem, but English was a bear and By any measure, it’s been quite a run. What’s notable without it I had no chance. A friend said if you go there I’d though, is after 40 years he believes he’s just getting started. have to learn English, so off I went into the wild blue yonTwo years ago, the south’s most significant slope construcder. Jochl wasn’t the first Son of the Alps in the south but tion in decades opened to great praise. Christened Gunther’s he’s the only one still here running a ski resort Way, Sugar’s latest addition sends a loud message to south“People didn’t know what frostbite was, or the other ern skiers everywhere. Last year, the old reliable summit lift dangers out there,” he explained. “The Europeans knew that at Sugar was replaced by a six-seat, high-speed detachable stuff. They knew what cold was and how to treat a broken lift. The new Summit Express represents a $5 million capital leg on the mountain. People had to be taught.” investment and cuts the ride to the top of Sugar’s Flying Jochl arrived at Bryce Mountain, VA in December, 1972. Mile by almost ten minutes. It was 75 degrees when he arrived but a few days later he The combination of those recent developments make awoke to the sound of snow guns. “I had never seen snowfor a real game changer on the local ski scene. But don’t bemaking before and it was very impressive to see,” he said. lieve for a moment that Jochl is done yet—he’s far from it. “Southern skiing in the seventies was about real estate “We’ve produced more new skiers than any other and fast money and Bryce was booming. By 1975 he had region of the country,” he observed long ago. “Other convinced Joe Luter, the owner of the Blue Knob Resort in parts of the country should be aware of that because Pennsylvania, that he could manage the mountain. That they will get a lot of those skiers once we get them year Stancil bought Blue Knob from Luter, his former classtaught and ready to go.” mate at Wake Forest, and Jochl came with the deal. It was After 40 years at Sugar Mountain, even for Gunther the start of a beautiful relationship. Gunther Jochl in the mid 1980s Jochl, that might prove validation enough. A year later, Stancil, accompanied by Jochl, toured
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Art is Life: Remembering Sculptor and Painter Wayne Trapp
amily, friends and creative minds across the region are mourning the recent loss of local sculptor and painter Wayne Trapp, whose unique perspective on the world around him and passion for making art have impacted the lives of many people over the years. Trapp passed away in November, and some of those who were closest to him have opened up to share their precious memories in his honor. Born and raised in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, Trapp spent two years in the army, ran a studio in Lima, Ohio and even farmed in Vermont for several years before he found his way to the Blue Ridge Mountains in 1980. Immediately developing a strong connection to the High Country, he established his home and his studio here. Tucked away in the quiet community of Vilas, the place grew along with him over time. Throughout his career, he created larger-than-life sculptures in stone, steel and other metals, a number of which have been included in the annual Rosen Outdoor Sculpture Competition at Appalachian State University over the past three decades. His towering creations have belonged to a vast array of corporate, private, museum and university collections across the country, as well as in many public exhibits. His artwork has prompted viewers in many states to open their minds and hearts, but his passions for life, beauty and other people have also left significant marks on the world. “Wayne was all about being happy and finding new things that make you happy. He encouraged people to live fearlessly, and I think that’s a beautiful thing,” said Becky Trapp, his wife of four years. “He had a zest for life, a childlike curiosity and was romantic about all things. Everything was special to him. “He leaves his legacy in all of us. The way he influenced our lives. To those of us who knew Wayne, he is much more than a grand artist. I feel very lucky and blessed to have known him. He was a man who changed lives.” Plans for celebrating his life include an upcoming memorial service and, in the future, a retrospective show at the Turchin Center for Visual Arts, although plans for both are tentative at the moment. By Jessica Isaacs 12
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High Country Lake Living in the Heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains SweetGrass.com // 6382 Hwy 221 S, Blowing Rock December NC //2016 (866) 370-2054 High Country Magazine
mountain On the Cover: Peg Carino’s Dreamy Winter Wonderland
By Jessica Iaaccs
with it and thank goodness, it has always worked out,” she said. On the cover of this magazine, you’ll find her latest piece, called “And You Thought We Were Sleeping.” So, what was her inspiration for this imaginative scene and Peg Carino how did she dream it up? “Behind the children’s shop that I manage in Tynecastle is my favorite place,” Carino said. “There is a little arched stone bridge that can carry you back in time and offers the most amazing scenery year round. Luckily, the property owners are my dear friends. From the moment I was asked to do the Christmas cover, this was the only place that it could be. I just saw bears frolicking and ice skating on this little pond. I have read about bears hibernating and that they do come out now and then, we just don’t know about it.” Take a closer look at the piece and see how many hidden surprises you can find! Want to know more about Carino’s work? Contact her by email at email@example.com or ring her up at 828-260-9399.
he furry ice-skating friends you see on our cover are the subjects of an original work of art created by painter Peg Carino, and they’re only part of the dreamy winter wonderland that she’s created just for us. After working in South Florida for nearly two decades as a yacht chef, artist Peg Carino made her way to the High Country in 2008. “I am originally from Richmond, Virginia but was in South Florida for many years,” she said. “Like so many, I started coming up here at Christmastime and I decided I wanted to move here. I did, and I haven’t looked back.” Now located in Banner Elk and staying busy as a painter, Carino is known as “the artful gourmet” and spends much of her time creating one-of-a-kind works of art and commissioned pieces that tell the stories of her patrons. “I am a whimsical painter. Even though many of my pieces may look somewhat serious at first glance, there is always something very whimsical in it that only the recipient of the painting will know,” she said. “I do family history, murals, furniture and decorative pieces.” Most of the time, she paints realistically and incorporates elements of visual illusion. Carino is known to blend multiple aspects of a client’s life, such as special things and events they treasure and hold most dear. “A lot of artists can do preliminary drawings for their clients. My minds eye is always different. So, I ask them to just let me run 14
High Country Magazine
It’s that time of year Visit Boone Drug at New Market to send some Christmas cheer! Custom made Christmas cards printed in house Personalized tumblers, mugs and note cards Now carrying Crane&Co. stationary & Christmas cards Boone Drug at New Market 245 New Market Center Boone, North Carolina 828.264.9144
By Cramer Lewis
Blowing Rock’s most Prolific Painter on Display at Blowing Rock Frameworks and Gallery
lowing Rock Frameworks and Gallery will feature the work prolific 20th century oil landscapist Elliot Dangerfield alongside that of Edward Szmyd in an open show from Thanksgiving to Christmas 2016. The show will also feature a recently discovered Daingerfield, which he originally painted in Blowing Rock. Daingerfield, who was spiritually connected to his art through nature, also had a special connection to Blowing Rock, where he lived and worked for a great portion of his career. His mystic paintings depicting the natural beauty of the High Country, mythology, the human form and Christian themes will be on display, on sale and open for the enjoyment of High Country art enthusiasts at the Blowing Rock Frameworks and Gallery during their regular hours. The show features 10 Daingerfields and three Szmyds. The gallery is also offering an exclusive look at a recently discovered Daingerfield, which has never before been publicly displayed in North Carolina and treats as its subject one of the most prominent natural landmarks of the High Country. Elliot Daingerfield was born in Harper’s Ferry, Virginia (which is now part of West Virginia) in March of 1859. He was raised in Fayetteville, North Carolina after his father took command of the city’s Confederate Arsenal. At the age of 21, he set off to study art in New York and established himself in the art world, studying under William Merritt Chase of the Hudson River School. Between the years of 1886 and 1932, Daingerfield would travel each summer with his family from New York to Blowing Rock. During his lifetime, Daingerfield left his mark on the High Country, founding his Permanent Art School and building three homes and personal studios in Blowing Rock. Of his three Blowing Rock homes, Daingerfield first constructed Edgewood Cottage in 1890, which is protected today by the Blowing Rock Historical Society. Throughout his career, Daingerfield kept busy during his time here, writing, painting, drawing and bringing students to his summer homes. “All during these times he would bring students to Blowing Rock to go out onto the landscapes and paint and to teach painting,” says Tim Miller, the owner and curator of Blowing Rock Frameworks and Gallery. “His second house in Blowing Rock was Windwood, and that was built probably right around the turn
of the century. We’re talking about an entire life of building houses in Blowing Rock.” After entering into the peak of his career and traveling to paint the Grand Canyon at the request of the Santa Fe Railroad in 1910, Daingerfield completed his most ornate studio in Blowing Rock, Westglow, in 1917, which he oriented toward the majestic Grandfather Mountain. Today, Westglow still stands as a world-renowned destination resort and spa, which displays many of Daingerfield’s works. Daingerfield featured the grounds of this grandiose summer retreat in many of his works, like “The Sisters,” which could perhaps be considered his most famous work. Daingerfield’s emotive style hides under some inexact shadow between realism and impressionism. His careful consideration of the natural beauty of Blowing Rock as a common subject brings out a deep emotional effect in those intimately acquainted with the High Country. Some of Daingerfield’s paintings clearly display specific perspectives well known to the Blowing Rock community. Daingerfield also liked to use different modes and styles within his works, blending oil, charcoal and watercolor. “The watercolor is so impressionistic. But then, the nude, right next to it, is so realistic,” says Miller, referring to Daingerfield’s “Study for ‘Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane.’” “I think during his career, Daingerfield ran the gamut between different styles, but overall he’s an American impressionist.” The recent discovery of a long lost Elliot Daingerfield titled “Twilight” has excited the art world and increased the demand for his work. “That painting was hidden for 40, 50 years, and it was hidden in California. An auction house in Oakland saw that there was a painting behind this mirror,” says Miller excitedly. “They took the painting out, and it was a pristine Elliot Daingerfield that was painted from the Westglow area of a Grandfather Sunset.” Art enthusiasts attending the gallery will have the unique privilege to count themselves among the very small number of persons who have seen in person this long lost depiction of Grandfather Mountain from Blowing Rock. While ”Twilight” will not be for sale, the painting will be on display throughout the show. Blowing Rock Frameworks and Gallery is located at 7539 Valley Blvd. For more information, call 828295-0041. December 2016
A Bit of the Grand Canyon
Twilight, Grandfather Mountain
Homage to Albert Pinkham Ryder
Maidens Bathing High Country Magazine
hen the historic battle for court reform was raging in Raleigh in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s, local lawyer
Charlie Clement was standing literally in the middle of this feud, one that formed the order of the courts that exists to this day in North Carolina and led to the abolishment of the old system that was ripe for exploitation – or to put it in Charlie’s slang – “home cooking.”
Story by Jesse Wood Photography by Ken Ketchie
“We have a system that funnels everything through in an orderly process …
High Country Magazine
Celebrating 50 Years
It is a beautiful system in work when you see how fluid it is.â€?
Charlie Clement, Boone attorney December 2016
High Country Magazine
50 Years of Court Reforms Across NC, the High Country
From the Barn Shed to the Courthouse Charlie grew up in Wake County, where his father was the local manager of the Bell Telephone Company and knew some of the prominent members in the legislature like N.C. Sen. Pou Bailey. At the request of his friend, Sen. Bailey brought a 13-year-old Charlie onto the Senate floor in 1953 to serve as a page, delivering messages and documents within the legislative complex. Charlie’s first assignment was to work for Lt. Gov. Luther Hodges, who succeeded Gov. William B. Upstead upon his death Charlie Clement in 1954. One year later, Gov. Hodges requested that the N.C. Bar Association establish the Bell Commission, a committee tasked with creating a unified court system across the state. In the old days before the adoption of reform in 1966 – which makes this year the 50th anniversary of the court system as we know it today – more than 1,400 local courts functioned in the state. With a myriad of courts and no uniformity of jurisdiction, rules, fees and the like across North Carolina, the court system was nearly a metaphorical zoo. Towns and cities across the state operated and funded their own lower courts. Appellate courts, district courts and much more didn’t yet exist yet. For example, hundreds of Justices of the Peace, who are similar to today’s magistrates, performed on a feebasis, meaning they only got paid for finding the defendant guilty. “They didn’t get paid a dime, not a dime for handling criminal cases. They got paid only if you were found guilty, and then they got a piece of the action,” Clement said. “Those of us who started practicing under this [old] system, which I did, fondly referred to JPs as Judgment for the Plaintiff.” Aside from the baffling and troubling incentive presented to the JPs, the state’s court system, which had been in place since Reconstruction, was also extremely political. The lower court system featured city and county recorder courts, which were presided over by a judge, who answered to his employer, which were the county or town. Before moving to Boone in 1972, Charlie worked for a town-operated court under Judge Ray Brooks. “[Brooks] wasn’t hired by the state. He was hired by Garner, the Town of Garner, to run the Garner court. If they didn’t like 18
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what the judge was doing, they’d get another judge,” Charlie said, beginning to explain the controversy surrounding court reform, which seems so obvious in retrospect. “So it was very, very political you see. You had all of the little counties and all the little recorder courts throughout North Carolina, [and if you look] you began to see where the political power was about to change because all of these [judge appointments] got done away with [after reform].” There were hundreds of judges who stood to lose their jobs with the court reforms, though many were likely elected or appointed back into the system as magistrates, district judges, superior court judges and appellate court judges. “So, there was a lot at stake in terms of the humanity of the thing – not to mention the homegrown, home cooking aspect of our court system was about to go down the tubes,” Clement said, summing up much of the opposition to the needed reforms. In 1959 – four years after the Stacy Eggers Jr. establishment of the Bell Commission, which was officially titled the Committee on Improving and Expediting the Administration of Justice in North Carolina – the Bell Commission reported its findings to the N.C. General Assembly, which met the “ambitious recommendations … with widespread skepticism,” according to a history of the reforms published in North Carolina Lawyer in November 2016. By this time, Charlie was attending school at UNC-Chapel Hill, but he had enjoyed being a page so much in ’53 and ’55 and chief page in ’57 that he temporarily dropped out of college as a sophomore and senior to become an assistant to the Sergeant-AtArms, which is tasked with enforcing directions of the Lt. Gov. in the N.C. Senate. Today, the Sergeant’s office is also responsible for security and maintenance. As a 19 year old, Charlie was present in ’59 when the legislature turned down the reform recommendations and was present two years when those reforms passed. Enamored with the law by now, Charlie was cognizant about what was going on and listened emphatically to the “historical debate,” where on each side of the Senate floor sat two very powerful men who would die with resumes that included presidential appointments.
Diane Deal, standing in the Courtroom 1 in the Watauga County Courthouse, is the Watauga County Clerk of Superior Court, an elected position. Aside from clerical and record-keeping duties, Deal sits in judgment on foreclosure, adoption and incompetency hearings. The clerk is also empowered to issue search warrants and exercise similar powers granted to magistrates such as guilty pleas for some minor offenses.
by the citizens of North On one side sat Sen. Carolina in 1962, and J. Spencer Bell, a Charthe Judicial Department lotte lawyer who was Act of 1965 eventually, the chairman of the according to North CarBell Commission, later olina Lawyer, “brought named after him, that the decades-long search spearheaded the courtfor tangible court reform reforms initiatives. After to close.” In 1966, the his legislative victory, reforms were enacted President John F. Kenneand began to be rolled dy would nominate Bell out. to the U.S. Court of ApCharlie, who had a peals for the Fourth Cirfront-row seat to all of cuit, which is one step this, started practicing below the U.S. Supreme law in 1964. He would Court. On the other make his way to Boone side sat Rep. Lindsay District Court Judge Warren Hughes sits at the bench in the fall of 2016. in 1972 – at which time Warren, a lawyer from After Judge William A. Leavell III retired in 2011, Gov. Bev Perdue he was among a handful Beaufort County and the appointed Hughes to the bench in October of the same year. of lawyers actively pracbill’s major antagonist. ticing in town. Note that Before the battle over court reforms in North Carolina, Warren served nearly 14 years local lawyers, Jim Holshouser who was successfully running for as Comptroller General of the United States, a post offered to governor when Charlie arrived, his father Judge Peck Holshouser and N.C. Parole Commission Chair Wade Brown weren’t achim by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The reforms required a constitutional amendment supported tively practicing law in Boone back then as they had other jobs. December 2016
High Country Magazine
Watauga County Clerk of Superior Court Diane Deal shows off some of the old records kept at the Watauga County Courthouse. Some of the old documents housed in the courthouse include the Book of Lunacy; a record of Confederate pensions for injured soldiers and/or their widows; clerk-issued certificates for nurses, physicians, surgeons and chiropractors (which is what Deal is looking at in the top photo); a list of witnesses for old court cases; a record of permits for purchase of concealed weapons; a list of all the Justices of the Peace operating in their respective townships; and the Oath of Office registry.
Keeper of the Records
A lawyer that was actively practicing locally was Stacy Eggers Jr. In fact, Eggers had been practicing law on King Street for more than two decades prior to Charlie Clement’s arrival. Founder and patriarch of Eggers Law, Stacy Eggers Jr. opened his law office in 1950. His first case was over $50; the defendant agreed to pay $50 to settle the matter at Eggers’ home. When he first began practicing, the local Justice of the Peace mostly met in the grand jury room in the courthouse – and only for minor infractions. But if the Justice of the Peace was somewhere else, Eggers said you followed the JP: “Wherever the Justice of the Peace was that’s where you were. If he was at work in a barn shed, you could try it in a barn shed.” Asked about law before court reforms, Eggers replied: “It was a different system of justice. We got a long. I wouldn’t say it was always 100 percent right, but it was adequate at the time.” 20
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The Watauga County Courthouse burned down in 1873 – and with it much of the history of the county and its people prior to that time. But even so, the Watauga County Courthouse today is home to a riveting collection of documents chronicling many of the past 150 years. This past October, the Watauga County Bar Association and the office of the Watauga County Clerk of Superior Court celebrated the 50th anniversary of the court reforms. Prior to the event, Watauga County Clerk of Court Diane Deal gathered some of the old, fragile records stored in the courthouse to display at the event, for the public to see what things were like before 1966. “The old records just fascinate me,” Deal said, speaking a couple weeks after the event. “I’ve been here many years, but I usually haven’t taken the time [to flip through the old documents] unless someone comes in to research family history or if someone is trying to figure out what books to look in.” In preparing for the event, Deal came across a slew of documents that would pique the curiosity of anyone interested in local history. She said she was particularly fascinated by the list of the Justices of the Peace. “Notes where they were sworn in and appointed by the governor, clerk or legislature,” Deal said. “It
To review case files (left and opposite page), search the criminal and civil databases (right) for the case number and then thumb through the files until you find the case in question. Located in the clerk’s office, the files and databases are open to the public to peruse.
appears every township had a Justice of the Peace. I think a lot of them did it at their home.” For example, D.B. Doughtery, one of the brothers that founded Watauga College, the beginnings of Appalachian State, was appointed by the legislature to be a Justice of the Peace in Boone in 1889; W.H. Farthing, Beaver Dam township, by the legislature in 1891; and John Norris, Meat Camp township by [unknown] in 1889. Deal also stumbled upon what looked to be a list of law books borrowed out to the appointed JPs, so they could look up information for rulings. Another book Deal found related to voter registration info, which looked to be a reconstruction of voter records after the courthouse burned down: “That was interesting too. All these years, I’d never seen that book.” Official oath records also exist; here are just a few individuals who signed the oath of office book (C.M. Watson; A.J. Edmisten; Earl Cook), Register of Deeds
(Helen Underdown), County Attorney (Stacy Eggers), Board of Education (W.R. Cottrell; J.B. Horton; Troy Norris), Superintendent of Schools (S.F. Horton), County Commission (Grady Greer, Ira Edmisten and Bert Mast in ‘40; W.C. Green, W.M. Winkler and H.O. Aldridge in ’42; and A.G. Miller in ’44). Among the records are the Book of Lunacy, a listing of people who were deemed mentally ill and shipped off to Broughton or Dorothea Dix hospitals; a record of Confederate pensions for injured soldiers or widows sent in 1925-26; registration certificates issued by the clerk for nurses, physicians, surgeons and chiropractors; a list stating how many miles a court witness travelled and how many days it took to get to the courthouse; and a record of permits for purchase of concealed weapons going back to 1919 with some reasons listed for needing the permit as home protection, carrying mail, official duty, target practice and game warden.
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North Carolina Superior Court
Superior court judges are elected to eight-year terms. District court judges are elected to four-year terms.
December Court 2016 North Carolina District Districts
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Before court reforms in the ‘60s, the North Carolina court system featured more than 1,400 local courts, including hundreds of justices of the peace. This myriad of courts featured none of the uniformity that is seen in the court system today. While superior court existed, district and appellate courts did not. As Boone attorney Charlie Clement said, “We have a system that funnels everything through in an orderly process.” “It’s amazing [the records have] held up so well,” Deal said. “The reason probably is that most of us don’t even know they are still in here and have never been looked at, at least not for the last 30 years that I am aware of.” Deal has worked in the courthouse for much of her life. At 23 years of age, she started as a deputy clerk in 1979, when they used handcrank mimeograph machines to print the calendars for court. For 18 years, she worked as a bookkeeper. Also a former assistant clerk, Deal worked in the clerk’s office for about 30-years total prior to being elected. She ran for Clerk of Court after her predecessor Glenn Hodges retired in 2010. Well-known duties of the Clerk of Court are of a clerical and record-keeping nature, but that’s just a sliver of the tasks that Deal and her staff perform on a daily basis. The clerk, who isn’t required to have a law degree, sits in judgment on foreclosure matters. The clerk also hears special proceedings for adoption and incompetency determinations and is empowered to issue arrest and search warrants and to exercise the same powers as a magistrate regarding accepting guilty pleas for minor littering, traffic, wildlife, boating, marine fisheries, alcoholic beverage, state park recreation and worthlesscheck offenses. As the judge of probate, the clerk handles the probate of wills and administration of decedents, minors and incompetents. “You have to care for people because what we do is serve the public. That’s the primary goal to do good public service, and at the end
Superior court in the state is divided into eight divisions, and district court features 30 districts in the state. Superior court judges are attorneys elected to eight-year terms and rotate among the districts for impartiality. District court judges meanwhile are elected to four-year terms and operate within their district.
The jury box is where the jury sits during jury trials. While district court judges primarily preside over bench trials, superior court judges oversee jury trials for all felony criminal cases and civil trials involving more than $25,000.
of most days, you can walk away knowing you helped somebody and that’s the gratification we get from doing the jobs we all do in this office,” Deal said. Perhaps the most heart wrenching part of the job is observing the children who end up in the system because of negligence or abuse and no fault of their own. Years ago, Deal said she worked in juvenile court, which she said didn’t easily escape the mind. “Charles Haynes is my district court juvenile clerk now and he does a phenomenal job, and I think anyone of us who has worked in juvenile court: you just want to take those children home with you,” Deal said. “Sometimes it could be abuse. Sometimes parents are just neglecting children because of drugs or alcohol. Children act out sometimes; as parents we do the best you can and sometimes you can’t help how your children [behave],” Deal said. “When it’s the cases of neglect or abuse, those are the ones that break your heart and you want to try to fix everything and it’s hard not to take that home with you.”
From the Bench and the DA’s Office
$25,000, such as personal injury cases, medical malpractice and contract disputes. District court judges, meanwhile, primarily reside over bench trials. District Court judges hear criminal cases involving misdemeanors and infractions and civil cases less than $25,000 and all family-law matters (such as juvenile, divorce, custody and child support) no matter the amount of the controversy. The general perception of a judge on the job – perhaps from TV or personal experience sitting in a courtroom – is usually hearing cases from the bench and banging the gavel every once in a while. But behind the scenes, a judge must research decisions and prepare opinions for filing. As chief judge, McEntire also handles administrative duties, such as assigning judges to court sessions. “As far as the big picture, I try to make sure we are efficiently dealing with cases and trying to find out whether we need two judges to run two criminal courts in Watauga County to work on a backload and not have as many days in the other end of the district,” McEntire said. “I am looking at numbers, backlogs and things like that on a monthly basis to effectively use people’s time and resources to do it, and we are doing well even though we
Echoing some of Deal’s sentiments – e.g., “you don’t stop caring about kids and families at 5 o’clock” – Chief District Court Judge Ted McEntire became a judge to try to “make a positive difference in the world,” especially for families and children. Judge McEntire has worked in the courts for about 20 years. Twelve of those were spent as an assistant district attorney with the 24th Prosecutorial District, which is comprised of Avery, Madison, Mitchell, Watauga and Yancey counties, under former District Attorneys Tom Rusher and Jerry Wilson. In late 2015, he was appointed as chief judge of the district courts. District and superior court judges preside over vastly different cases. Superior Court judges oversee all felony criminal cases with a jury trial and civil trials involving more than The entire Watauga County Bar at the dedication of the “new” courtroom, circa 1967: (from left) John Bingham, Louis Smith, Peck Holshouser, Jimmy Holshouser, Wade Brown and Stacy Eggers, Jr. Photo courtesy Four Eggers December 2016
High Country Magazine
The Watauga County Courthouse is located on King Street in Boone, which is the county seat. The county government, including the courthouse in most instances, is located within the county seat.
Known as the “old commissioners boardroom,” Courtroom 3 is where non-jury matters are held. Notice that no jury box exists inside Courtroom 3.
Courtroom 2 is usually the host of civil cases because of its relative coziness, for lack of a better word. It is smaller than the larger courtroom known as Courtroom 1, which can sit about 300 people. Both Courtroom 1 and Courtroom 2 host jury trials. 24
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deal with that many cases. We are disposing as many cases as are coming in.” From January through September 2016, the 24th District Court has disposed of 28,567 cases. As of early November when we spoke, about 9,400 cases were pending. Of those 28,567 cases, the breakdown is as follows: 2,570 civil cases, 16,723 criminal cases and 9,274 infractions. Superior court disposed of about 3,200 cases within that same timeframe; generally speaking, superior court cases take more time to move through the system. Nearly 32,000 cases during the first nine months of the year is a lot. For McEntire, this is the most obvious change he’s noticed working in the courts for the past two decades. “We deal with an ever-increasing case load,” McEntire said. “Another change is the self-represented litigate … there are cases where both sides are unrepresented now and seldom a week goes by that there aren’t unrepresented people appearing in one of the courts I preside over.” Another change – aside from the rise of drugs like meth and opioids – is the specialty courts such as drug-treatment court in Watauga and Avery counties and alternative courts and mediation-resolution programs for civil and misdemeanor matters in criminal. Drug treatment court, for example, seeks to address the addiction that is causing a cycle of appearances in court. “Banging the gavel is not the challenge,” McEntire said. “Trying to make a positive difference and accurately … making the very best decision for the person in front of you in light of also looking at the community need or what may be involved in family situation [and figuring out] what is going to help that family [is].” Though District Attorney Seth Banks is relatively new on the job with about six years as an assistant
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Below is a list of local personnel involved in the court system, including every superior court judge, district court judge and district attorney serving in the 24th district since inception of court reforms in the â€˜60s. Also listed are the past and present Watauga County Clerks of Superior Court since court reforms.
Local Court Personnel Since Reforms
Superior Court Judges in 24th Since Inception Judges of Superior Court were elected statewide in partisan contests when the Disrict Courts were established. Over the years, those contests were changed to nonpartisan elections within judicial districts. J. Frank Huskins W.E. Anglin Bruce Briggs Ronald Howell Charles Lamm C. Phillip Ginn Hal G. Harrison Gary Gavenus* Gregory Horne*
Watauga Clerks of Court
Since Inception of Court Reforms Orville Foster, serving during establishment of court reforms John T. Bingham, 1974 to 1992 Marry Warren, interim appointment in 1992 D. Glenn Hodges, 1992 to 2009 Wanda Howell, interim appointment in 2009 Diane Deal, elected in 2010*
Pictured Above: Top Row: Gary Gavenus, Gregory Horne, R. Seth Banks, Hal G. Harrison Bottom Row: Ted McEntire, F. Warren Hughes, Rebecca Eggers-Gryder, Diane Deal
4 Seats: District Court Judges in 24th Since Inception The first judges for the 24th district were elected in the general election in 1968 and took office on the first Monday of December of that year. Over the years, district court contests were changed to nonpartisan and beginning terms to January 1st.
The Braswell Seat DAs Serving 24th Prosecutorial District
Since Inception Originally, the districts for Solicitors were not coterminous with the district courts. In fact, the 24th district was once divided among four Solicitor districts. Those districts did not become coterminous until 1971. Legislation in 1973 changed the job title to District Attorney. W. Hampton Childs, Jr. (16th) J. Allie Hayes (17th) Leonard Lowe (18th) Clyde M. Roberts (originally Solicitor for 19th district, later 24th, and changed to DA) James T. Rusher Gerald W. Wilson Robert F. Orr R. Seth Banks* *Currently serving 26
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J. Ray Braswell served from Dec. 2, 1968 to Nov. 30, 1980 Roy Alexander Lyerly served from Dec. 1, 1980 to 2014 Hal G. Harrison, appointed in 2014*
The Holshouser Seat J. E. Holshouser Sr. served from Dec. 2, 1968, didnâ€™t seek re-election Bruce Briggs served from Dec. 4, 1972 until Feb. 22, 1975 Robert Howard Lacey appointed March 15, 1975 to April 30, 1995 Kyle D. Austin, retired Dec. 31, 2008 Ted McEntire, took office Jan. 1, 2009*
The Ginn Seat Charles Philip Ginn, appointed Sept. 19, 1981 and resigned Dec. 31, 2008 Claude D. Smith, appointed Jan. 3, 1992 William A. Leavell, III, elected Dec. 5, 1994 and retired Aug. 1, 2011 F. Warren Hughes, appointed Oct. 31, 2011*
The Briggs Seat Bruce B. Briggs, appointed July 20, 1998 R. Gregory Horne, elected and took office Dec. 6, 2004 Rebecca Eggers-Gryder, appointed Feb. 13, 2015 and elected in 2016*
district attorney and two years as DA of the 24th Prosecutorial District, he agreed that the “sheer volume of cases” is one big difference between then and now. “If you look back prior [to court reforms], often times speeding tickets were handled in superior court. If you look back at some of the old files, they are hand-written, alleging some type of traffic violation and [you’re] indicting somebody in front of a grand jury for speeding,” Banks said. “You also hear stories from back in the ‘70s where the district attorney here might have one or two assistance DAs and individual counties would go weeks – if not months – without having a court session. Those days are long past.” Today, Banks, who was born and raised in Yancey County, has seven assistant district attorneys working across the district – in addition to nine legal assistants – and three of those assistant DAs have Watauga County as their “home base,” per se. But that fluctuates depending on court loads, and traveling across the five-county region is just part of the job. As the elected DA, Banks represents the State of North Carolina in court matters from the run-of-the-mill speeding ticket to capital murders. While defense attorneys are required under the rules of ethics to defend a client based upon the client’s desired outcome, Banks said his role in working for the state is different in the sense that the “right outcome” in one case might be a dismissal and the pursuance of jail time in another. “It just depends on a case-bycase basis,” Banks said. “As an advocate, my role is unique in the court system because the rules of the ethics mandate that I pursue justice and that’s a pretty special role and a high honor.” Since entering office in 2014, Banks said the DA’s office in the 24th has been “deploying resources on a number of fronts” when asked what particular crimes or kinds of cases his office is actively pursuing to prosecute. “First of all, I think we as a society and a civilization should be judged on how we treat the most vulnerable in our community, and the biggest populations that come to mind when you think about the vulnerable are the children, and the elderly,” Banks said, noting that initiatives launched in the past year include crimes against children and elderly abuse and seek to not only educate the public but effectively prosecute said crimes. The “drug problem” is perhaps the biggest challenge the community faces, Banks said. Meth has been tearing apart families
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Eggers-Gryder: First Woman Judge in the 24th
hen Judge Becca While she had never Eggers- Gryder really set out to become was a child, it a judge, she certainly wasn’t unusual for legal had a unique skill set principles to be discussed by the time that calling around the dinner table. came with nearly three Her father, Stacy Eggers decades of family law Jr., who is now father and under her belt, 16 years grandfather to several lawas the Department of yers, has practiced law on Social Services attorney King Street since 1950. “I and experience with drew up my first contract about every matter that a when I was 9 … and at our district court judge prekitchen table, we would sides over. have discussions about Aside from the obhow to get a sugar bowl vious goal of justice, Superior Court Judge Gregory Horne into evidence,” EggersEggers-Gryder said she swears in District Court Judge Becca Eggers-Gryder. Gryder said. hopes to make life better for children as a district In 2015 when a judicial vacancy in the 24th Prosecutorial District opened up, Gov. court judge. As an attorney and now judge, she’s seen first Pat McCrory appointed Eggers-Gryder to become a district hand the issues – such as domestic violence and substance court judge, making her the first woman judge in the 24th. abuse – that rip families apart and take children out of homes. Then this past fall, the citizens in the 24th voted for Eggers- She’s also seen the positive influence of breaking those negative cycles. Gryder to remain on the bench. She described being the first woman appointed and elect“With my training, my hope is to make life better for ed as judge in the district as “humbling,” saying that she children. That not only affects children and that family, but hopes the next qualified woman’s journey to the bench is a it affects the entire community for generations. Frankly, little bit easier. I’ve been doing this so long that I know the grandparents of Prior to becoming a judge, Eggers-Gryder practiced law some of the children I first started dealing with in 1986,” for about 30 years in Watauga County in the areas of fam- Eggers-Gryder said. “We can’t change it over night, but we ily law, juvenile law, custody, alimony, post-separation sup- can try to deal with it one child at a time.” port, divorces and equitable distribution and criminal law.
and wreaking havoc in the community for years now, and more carrot-and-stick approach: i.e., participate in the program, stay recently, opioids such as fentanyl are causing an alarming number clean and receive community referrals for job training, potential housing and more. Drug-treatment court is also a great example, of overdoses that is reaching epidemic proportions. “And you know that problem is responsible for destroying Banks said, of the overlapping nature of community and judicial families and creates all kinds of related crimes, property crimes resources. Likewise for the agencies working together to handle hunand violent crimes that arise out of what has become an epidemic, not just here in the mountains but across the state and the nation,” dreds of cases each day. As Banks noted, the law enforcement officers, the clerks, judges, defense attorneys Banks said, adding that this priority in his ofand DA’s office have all played a part in refice is two-fold. “We want to see individuals ducing the backlog of cases in Watauga during who are dealing, selling and manufacturing the past two years. “We as a court system can drugs, we want to see them in prison, where take ownership in and can be very proud of they need to be, but in addition we want to that,” Banks said. “You hear the cliché: Justice see those who are addicted to a controlled delayed is justice denied. It’s true though. The substance, we want to see them get better. I longer a case is continued, the longer a case am a firm believer that ultimately addiction is is pending in our system, the less chance we a disease that needs to be combated as such.” have to effectively seek justice in many cases. Drug-treatment court, for example, Witnesses disappear, and things happen to might be in store for an addict who shows a cases over time.” willingness to bite on the carrot part of the District Attorney, Seth Banks 28
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For the Better in Watauga, the 24th & NC When court reforms were rolled out in the mid-to-latter part of the ‘60s, Charlie Clement said all of the lawyers noticed the changes immediately. Though they did take a little bit of time to get used to. For example, the attorneys had to familiarize themselves with where to file cases under the new order and the new scheduling procedures. Previously, lawyers would “just call the judge,” but now they worked through the Administrative Office of the Courts. “Everything changed, and it all changed for the better,” Charlie said. “It was like any kind of change, it just took a little time.” While lawyers like Charlie or Stacy Eggers Jr. who worked in the courts before the reforms are now accustomed to way things are handled these days, Charlie said he doesn’t hear complaints from younger lawyers who don’t know any different. “We know exactly how the system works, and I don’t hear anybody here saying, ‘You know, when we put this system in, I wish we would have done this or done that.’ I don’t hear any criticisms. I think it’s a great system.” No matter the problem, controversy or feud someone is experiencing, whether it is of small or great consequence, someone can walk into a law firm’s office – and assuming competence – the attorney will know exactly where the matter should be overseen. It might be the town’s quasi-judicial board of adjustment or maybe the magistrate’s office, district or superior court. “But we have a system that funnels everything through in an orderly process,” Clement said. “Everything starts somewhere … Eventually it will work its way through the system into superior court level usually and from there into the appellate level and no matter what the problem is it’s going to take the same route, and it’s uniform throughout the state. It is a beautiful system in work when you see how fluid it is.” Clement noted that in the old days, controversies were resolved by the gladiators or with sword fights and gunslinging duels. Our jurisprudence, Clement said, has provided stability not only for dealing with conflicts but to society as a whole. “I truly believe without that stability of a uniform, reliable judicial system, we could face anarchy,” Clement said, speaking of issues involving state law. “That’s why I think it is so important and why it grabbed me when I was a kid. I still feel the same way; I am pretty passionate about it.” t
Avery County Courthouse
uilt in 1912 – around the time that Avery County formed as North Carolina’s 100th and final county – the Avery County Courthouse overlooks the downtown square in Newland. The front of the courthousehas a portico with four columns rising to the plane of the second floor. The architect was Charlotte-based Wheeler and Runge, which also designed similar-looking courthouses in Ashe, Avery, Caldwell and Wilkes counties – in addition to the Watauga County Courthouse that was built in 1904 and demolished in 1967. Remodeled in the ‘90s, the Avery County Courthouse underwent another renovation a couple years back to add office space and an additional courtroom and renovate the old courtroom. When workers renovated the old clerk’s office in the courthouse, an original chimney was uncovered – and it still had ashes inside! During the renovations, Daniels said the clerk’s office operated temporarily in the large courtroom for several months. As for the project as a whole, “It turned out beautiful,” Daniels said.
Lisa Daniels Avery County Clerk of Court
very County Clerk of Superior Court Lisa Daniels has spent about 30 years working in the clerk’s office. She started out as a bookkeeper two decades ago before running for clerk, an elected position, in 2006. Since then, Daniels has been re-elected twice. The clerk is the “keeper of the records” and performs tasks of a clerical nature. The clerk also sits in judgment on foreclosure, adoption and incompetency hearings and like a magistrate is empowered to issue arrest and search warrants and accept guilty pleas for minor offenses. The clerk’s office also administers estates and handles probates of wills. “Probably the most satisfying [part of the job] to me is when you have a situation, for example, where a family is going through an estate after a loved one passed away and we can be of help and make the process easier, and we feel like we’ve done some good for them and helped them through a hard time,” Daniels said. “We’ve had so many different situations, and hopefully, if you are nice and help them the best you can, hopefully you can make their day better.”
Lisa Daniels December 2016
High Country Magazine
Healing through Art
Big Challenges, Little People, and Loving Hearts By Virginia RosEman
amilies come in all different shapes and sizes. Even though families look different, certain attributes — love, determination, support, challenges, pain, growth, and hope — can be found in nearly every home. When facing challenges, the way to overcome them has a lot to do with one’s experiences and values instilled in them by their family and upbringing. A Florida man and his family faced trials and tribulations that would have crushed many. Family tragedy and medical hardships dealt the Barkers a blow that was physically, emotionally and financially crippling. It felt like the rug was pulled out from under them, and they prayed and leaned on one another while they were seeking answers. The answers included surprising changes ... a long-distance relocation to the Appalachian Mountains of Ashe County and the healing power of art.
An Unexpected Love: “It was like God kept us close to each other, but would only allow us to find each other when each of us had finally found ourselves…” Tim and Ginny’s nuptial in Fort Myers, Florida in April 1995
During the late 1960s, Fort Myers, Florida, was a sleepy coastal town with a population only a quarter its current size. Into this small town came a medical phenomenon. Timothy Barker, the youngest of five sons born to Curtis and Hazel Barker, was born with a medical condition so unique, 32
High Country Magazine
the doctors of Fort Myers had only read about it in books. Tim broke both arms and both legs during his birth. While holding this fragile broken infant, doctors prepared the Barkers for the worst. The doctors saw a newborn whose body shattered with every movement, and their thoughts were that the infant would not survive his first day. Heartbroken, Curtis, Hazel and their four older sons (Ricky, Richard, Terry and Fred) came together to offer every ounce of love, hope and prayer they had for Tim. “After I was born, word spread around the local medical community about the baby boy born with shattered bones,” said Tim. “They diagnosed me with osteogenesis imperfecta, or OI for short.” OI is a genetic disorder characterized by fragile bones that break easily, and it is sometimes referred to as “brittle bone disease.” People are born with OI and it affects them throughout their lifetime. There are eight different subtypes of OI, primarily defined by unique effects upon bones, connective tissue and muscles. Tim was born with Type III, that in addition to fragile bones, causes scoliosis and bowing of limbs and a smaller stature. “When I’m explaining OI to people and they have
The Barker Family today, left to right, Timmy, Curtis, Tim and Ginny — sitting in front of the boy’s playhouse Ginny’s father, Bob built in 2003. Photography by Frederica Georgia trouble wrapping their head around it, I ask them if they’ve ever watched the action movie ‘Unbreakable’ starring Bruce Willis,” said Tim. “It actually helps with explaining. Willis’ rival in the movie is a character with OI played by Samuel L. Jackson. If they haven’t seen it before, I suggest it.” In their new reality, the Barkers now had an understanding of what was happening to their newest member, Tim. This made the family more determined to give him the greatest chance at a normal life. The family brought baby Tim, wearing a body cast, home after several days in the hospital. “My body was so fragile, that I was told I had to be carried on a big, fluffy pillow with the greatest of care. I had to be moved with precision and as delicately as possible,” said Tim. Over the years to come, Tim would experience multiple fractures. Sometimes no sooner than the family would bring him home from getting a new cast, they would hear a new bone break, and off they’d go again to have yet another cast put on. Around the age of four, to help him get around the house, Tim’s father, Curtis, took apart an old wooden wheelchair to create a gurney that Tim could manipulate while laying on his stomach. “I was unable to walk, but I could drag myself around the house. I was able to get myself in the mix of things where my brothers were playing,” reminisced Tim. Curtis also constructed the device for his bed that would hold his legs as they were healing. So that Tim could be as selfsufficient as possible, his father made many contraptions, either
Tim Barker adapting them from existing pieces or creating them from scratch. During those early years, Curtis and Hazel also learned about the Shriner’s Hospital, and arranged for them to evaluate Tim. “I was four going on five when my parents took me to the Shriner’s Hospital in Greenville, South Carolina. Their hearts were filled December 2016
High Country Magazine
with both hope and dread,” Tim Ginny’s Story recalled. “What if they couldn’t In the 1960s, Charles (Bob) help me? What if they tried and it Lawson of Fort Myers, Florida, only made matters worse?” moved to Orlando to marry his The Shriner’s were able to pen pal bride, Joy Christ. Bob help, and Tim received the first was an average height man who of a series of life-changing surfell head over heels for a beautigeries. Eventually, these surgeries ful woman in a small, stunning allowed Tim to walk. His stays package. Joy was a little person at the Shriner’s Hospital would with Achondroplasia Dwarfism. range from a few weeks to many Achondroplasia is a rare genetic months at a time. To this day, Tim condition characterized by short still recalls the kindness the staff arms and legs. Since it is in a gehad for the patients in their care. netic condition, it can be passed One of those vivid memories of from one generation to the next. his time at the Shriner’s HospiWhile they lived in Orlando, tal was seeing his first snowfall. the Lawson family expanded Tim in the highlight of his career with the Having come from Florida, Tim with the birth of their daughter Lee County 911 dispatch services. wasn’t even certain what he was Virginia (Ginny). A year later, seeing at first, they were just spoBob moved the family to his radic heavy white blobs falling! hometown of Fort Myers to pursue a new job opportunity. In “I yelled for a nurse to come quick and pointed to it,” said Fort Myers, their second daughter, Dulcey, was born (two days Tim. “It took a moment to dawn on me that I was seeing snow before Tim was born in the very same hospital). Both Ginny and for the very first time. Two of the nurses went out in the cold with Dulcey are little people like their mother. Ginny’s dad could not a hospital blanket to catch some of the snow, and they brought it have been happier. back to me.” “Dad would often say that his two beautiful daughters took After each procedure, Tim returned home to Fort Myers stron- after their mother, his true love and ‘Joy’!” shared Ginny. ger than before and with more determination to have a normal The Lawsons were your everyday family. life. However, in addition to the danger of fractures, OI caused “We had a working father, a stay-at-home mother, and me and Tim to be of a much shorter height than his brothers. my sister were just two socially active daughters” Ginny said. “We “Though I am a little person, it is not dwarfism,” explained were in choirs, we did many school clubs and and were members of Tim. “Each of my brothers are around six feet tall, and if I didn’t several social clubs. My dad was a Shriner, which meant he was also have OI, I would be that tall, too.” a member of the Freemasons. My sister Dulcey and I loved this and Tim did indeed have a normal life. He attended school when followed in his footsteps in being members of the Masonic family. he wasn’t at the Shriner’s Hospital. And like most people, Tim’s We each join the International Order of Rainbows for Girls.” Rainlife had moments of personal tragedies and hardships. He lost his bows is a club for Mason’s daughters and their friends, doing both mother and oldest brother, both passed away while Tim was still community service and fundraising for various causes. One instituin grade school. In his later years, he did normal teenager activities tion that Rainbows, Masons and Shriners actively raised funds for like going to the mall, watching movies, and hanging out with his was the Shriner’s Hospital in Greenville. buddies. He especially enjoyed family vacations to the Appalachian While growing up in Fort Myers, Ginny and her sister were Mountains to see family in Saltville, Virginia (north of Abingdon). always on the go. Their county had five high schools, and they at-
Left: Tim with his father relaxing after coming home from one of many cast settings. Center: Tim being visited by his father, Curtis, while during one of his stays at the Shriner’s Hospital. Right: Tim using his adapted gurney his father made him so that his could get around in the house. 34
High Country Magazine
Adaptive bed that Tim’s father made him so that he could lift himself and hold his limbs steady when playing, while healing. I saw Ginny and was immediately enamored by her beauty.” The second the meeting was over, Tim mustered up the courage to ask Ginny out on a date. Because of her recent decision to give dating a break, Ginny nearly turned him down, but convinced herself to give romance another chance. “It was the greatest decision of my life!” Tim and Ginny: grinned Ginny. “We found out we had a lot in common. It was crazy how many times our an Unexpected Love paths had nearly crossed. We lived in the same During the early 1990s, Ginny broke up county. Dulcey was born at the same hospital with her then boyfriend, and vowed to her sisjust two days earlier than Tim. We were literter she was tired of guys and the drama, and that ally hanging out at the same mall and movie she was going to stay single for a while to work theater, attending sporting events at each othon making herself a stronger, more independent er’s high schools. Somehow, I had never met woman. God had a different plan for Ginny. Tim Barker second grade Tim before.” Also in the early 1990s, Tim Barker found school picture That was all it took for love to bloom, just a rewarding career working for the Fort Myone date. Tim and Ginny knew they had found ers, Lee County 911 system. Tim thrived in the environment, made wonderful friends, and found great joy help- true love and the person God had placed in the world to make ing others in times of crisis. Dulcey Lawson was also employed the other whole. “It was like God kept us close to each other, but would only at the same office. Some of their colleagues attempted to play matchmaker for the the two, but Tim and Dulcey stayed friends allow us to find each other when each of us had finally found ourand coworkers. It dawned on Dulcey, however, that Tim might be selves. It was amazingly perfect timing,” they both shared. Two years later, Tim and Ginny became husband and wife. right for her sister. Dulcey invited Tim to attend the local chapter meeting of Little People of America. Tim agreed, and was intro- New hopes, new love, and new dreams were before them. Proud that Tim had found his joy and was now starting his duced to Ginny for the first time. “I never thought of attending a Little People of America chap- own family, Tim’s father Curtis, felt he could remarried. Curtis ter meeting,” said Tim. “ The moment I walked into the meeting took his new bride to live in Ashe County, North Carolina in the tended many of the sporting events at each of the schools. They often went to the one local mall, hanging out for hours at a time. Also, like all teens of the 1980s, they could often be found at one of the two movie theaters in their town. “We loved growing up in Fort Myers. We did it all. We just happened to be little people,” said Ginny.
High Country Magazine
“I am making art out of wood, while helping organizations — everyone wins. I have never done this to make money. Woodworking has given me a purpose. It keeps me moving, keeps my mind active, and allows me to have the honor of making others happy.”
A toy wooden airplane that Tim’s father, Curtis made him during one of his stays at the Shriner’s Hospital. Appalachian Mountains, so he could be closer to his mountain family. Tim and Ginny were having the best years of their lives as newlyweds. Ginny was learning about OI, helping Tim with his inevitable fractures, making their home as safe as possible for him, and encouraging him every step of the way in his career. Shortly into their marriage, the newlyweds received news they were not sure if they would ever hear — a baby would soon
Curtis with his Wright brother’s replica, and Timmy with his BellX-1 plane — each made with the supervision of their father Tim. Photography by Frederica Georgia 36
High Country Magazine
be joining their happy little home. In September 1998, Curtis Charles Barker came into the world. “We named him after both of our fathers, two of the greatest men either of us have ever known,” Tim shared full of pride. Like his mother, grandmother and aunt, Curtis was born with Achondroplasia Dwarfism. He was a small and a perfectly healthy baby boy. The Barkers lives had changed forever. They were three in a home filled with love. Due to the progression of Tim’s OI, and the additional surgeries, the hopes that they would have more children were extremely slim. Tim and Ginny were heartbroken over the thought, but cherished the great miracle of the birth of their son, Curtis. The new millennium, though, brought more wonderful news and another son for the Barkers. Timothy Jr. (Timmy) was welcomed into the home that fall. “This was a huge surprise. We had accepted the news from doctors that future children were next to impossible,” said Ginny. Timmy is of average height, like the Barker men and Ginny’s father. Neither son showed any signs of OI, or that they might be carriers, therefore concluding that Tim’s OI condition was most likely a rare spontaneous mutation in his DNA during his development. With a family to love and protect, the world took on a new look for Tim and Ginny. Working for the 911 system of a fastgrowing town, Tim got a front row seat to the difficulties their hometown was facing. Increasingly, calls were of more severe types of situations. Tim explained, “Because I worked at the 911 call center, I was in a unique position to see just how much my hometown was changing.” The county had grown to fifteen high schools. The streets were always congested. Fort Myers was quickly losing the small town feel that Tim and Ginny had loved while growing up. To show their sons a slower pace of life, the Barker family often found themselves traveling to the mountains to spend time with Tim’s father. To Tim and Ginny, the North Carolina mountains, brought back
Left: Tim and Ginnyâ€™s sons, Curtis and Timmy during their last Christmas living in Florida. Right: Family church photo, Curtis, Ginny, Tim and Timmy. fond memories of how they felt as children growing up in a small town. The Barkers would often find themselves talking about how they wished and hope to some day retire to the mountains. This desire grew with every trip. Each time they drove back and forth
from their Florida home, the family would look at every small town along the way in search of their future retirement home. Wherever this eventual dream home would be, all that mattered would be that they would both be there to grow old together.
Shattered Bones and Shattered Dreams
Life sometimes has a funny way of playing cruel tricks, causing doubt, breaking down self esteem, and making it seem that a wonderful life has come crumbling down
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High Country Magazine
“God has always been so good to me, I could not fail him. This was easily my hardest and most rewarding piece yet.” Left Top: Tim and Ginny with the recreation of the Tabernacle. Left Below: Ginny and Tim sitting in their beloved church, Welcome Home Baptist Church. Photography by Frederica Georgia around a person when one least expects it. In 2005, Tim lost his greatest role model, his father Curtis. Since Tim lost his mother at the young age of 10, his father had filled both parental roles. He was always there, always encouraging him, telling him he could do it and to never give up on a dream. The loss of his father left a huge void in his life and in his heart. During the early part of 2006, Tim received news from his doctor that he had a hernia and strongly suggested a routine surgery to fix the issue. Tim was told it would be an outpatient procedure, and he would be able to return to work in a few days. Playing it safe, because OI meant healing could be slower, Tim asked for a week medical leave. Tim said, “I was no stranger to surgeries and I have always left them stronger and healthy. My doctor nor I saw any reason to not have this routine surgery.” Ginny took Tim to the outpatient wing of the hospital, waited, then took her loving husband back home for some TLC. Everything was routine to that point, with no glitches. However, two days after his hernia correction, Tim was feeling worse than he did before the surgery. On the third day, Tim started running a fever. By the next day. Ginny knew there was something seriously wrong with Tim. Extremely concerned if Tim would survive, the Barkers and Lawsons descended on the hospital for prayer along with other family members, friends, co-workers and members of their church. It was like Tim’s first day on earth as a newborn, with the love of his family giving him strength to fight once again. Every time a person has surgery, there is a chance for complications. Tim had contracted the killing bacteria Methicillinresistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). It’s tougher to treat than most strains of staphylococcus, or staph, because it’s resistant to some commonly used antibiotics. In Tim’s case, the MRSA was internal and surrounding his vital organs. He already had more challenges than others, and now this was something no one was prepared for. Tim almost died. His abdomen was opened to cut and clean the infected areas. What was meant to be a simple routine hernia outpatient surgery, turned into 38
High Country Magazine
months in the hospital. Finally, Tim was on the mend. The fight left him weak, but his family had the strength to help him continue on the path of recovery. While recouping from the battle to save his life, Tim wanted to get back to his normalcy as quickly as possible. He wanted to be there for his young boys, and return to work. “Boy, I was suffering from cabin-fever from the hospital stay and then the confines of my home,” Tim recalled. Tim pushed himself too much, too soon. Tim’s fight with MRSA left him physically exhausted and more susceptible to injuries. Tim shattered his hip in a fall, and found himself right back in the hospital. “I mean broken bones are a normal thing and I am so used to them as part of my life, but I was so weak and was still re-
covering. This setback caused an even longer leave from work and everyday events,” said Tim. “My family was counting on me, and I felt like I had to get back to work as soon as I could. I was unable to walk, but I thought everything would be fine if I used my scooter.” As if the previous year and a half had not been tough enough, life threw the Barkers yet another curve ball. Tim had finally returned to work and was getting back out into the world when his trusty electric scooter malfunctioned, dumping Tim to the ground. Protecting his still healing hip, Tim extended his arm. The fall caused him to shatter his wrist and shoulder. After this injury, Tim’s faith and self-esteem started suffering greatly. Why was his happy world turning into his worst nightmares? How was he going to provide for his family if he couldn’t get back to work? How could he help his loving wife raise their two boys? Why couldn’t his father be there to tell him to fight? His world was growing dark. While at his appointment for the followup to his latest bone fractures, Tim’s doctor thought it was time to share Tim’s new world reality with him and Ginny. With the strongest of advice he’d ever received, Tim was told, “Do you want to live to see your sons get through grade school? You must understand, at the rate you are going, you are pushing yourself into an early grave. You will not be there to watch your boys graduate high school, get married or become the men they are destined to be. You must slow down. It is time to retire.” As much as Tim did not want to accept that his body was telling him it was time to slow down, his heart knew it was true. Fear began to grip Tim in ways he never in his life knew before. How was he going to raise his family on just his disability income? He did not want to ask Ginny to become the primary breadwinner of the family, taking her away from the boys. Fort Myers was now a big city and was becoming a more expensive place to raise a family. With their future up in the air, Tim and Ginny turned to each other for support and prayed for guidance.
Answers to Prayers Are Not Always Easy to Hear
The Barkers tried hard to get back to a normal life, but nothing seemed to be working. Deep in conversation trying to come up with ways to provide the best life possible for their sons, Tim and Ginny acknowledged that many of their future dreams were now out of reach, like retiring some day and being able to afford the mountain home December 2016
High Country Magazine
replaced badly damaged when they grew old. They pieces with new ones. He weren’t even sure if they had many bones mended would have the chance to or pinned to make them grow old together. useful again. Tim found a “I was so longing for purpose. Tim found a talmy father and his wisdom. ent that he never realized I needed him to tell me he had ... and he began to it was going to be okay,” start to heal through art. Tim recalled sadly. With a renewed purFeeling especially down pose, Tim found himself one day in early 2007, obsessed in making airTim thought of his father plane after airplane. Each and how Curtis felt his time he made a new one happiest when he returned it would better, stronger, back to the Appalachian and more aerodynamically Mountains. Tim felt that correct. Ginny saw the God was trying to send pride and talent in Tim. him a message that he also Here were all these beaubelonged in the mountiful handcrafted planes... tains. Excited, yet fearful for the change, Tim shared Wooden piece created by Tim Barker. The cabins and snowman are incense how could she help be part burners that have smoke that bellow from the chimney and pipe. of this healing process and his thoughts with Ginny. support her husband? She Within a month, the Barkers packed up their sons and belongings and moved to the Appa- knew a little about painting, and Ginny started painting, sealing lachians. Not far from Saltville, the Barkers found an affordable and setting the planes to dry on the ramp to their shed. As soon home in Ashe County. They also found an accepting church fam- as a few were laid out to dry, a passersby stopped to inquire if they were for sale or if he did other woodwork. Overwhelmed ily at nearby Welcome Home Baptist Church. and humbled, Tim realized that the children that ran to pick their planes were filled with great joy. Tim was never looking for this Healing Through Art Even though the healing process had started for the Barker fam- therapeutic hobby to provide an income. Instead, Tim made more ily, Tim still suffered not just physical, but also mental and emotion- airplanes for his own fulfillment and the knowledge they brought al scarring. As it would for any person, Tim’s ego took a beating. It happiness to others. Tim didn’t stop with airplanes. One day while working in the hurt him that he wasn’t able to continue working the job he loved, and to be able to provide for his family. That part of his life was shed, Tim’s boys, who were playing in the yard with sticks, came rushing in. They asked, “Dad can you turn our sticks into guns, missing. At times, self-doubt and self pity would overtake him. One goal of the couple was to find new things they could do cause that would be really cool.” Tim was still learning his craft, together. Ginny and Tim became thrifty yard sale hunters. They but was determined to succeed. Tim knew he could make planes, found many treasures that could be repurposed into new things for but this was different. This was his boys, and it had to be just right. That night, after hours of nonstop work, their family. During one of their yard sale he did it. He had made rifles with workoutings, Tim came across a simple wooding triggers and hammers for the realistic en airplane. The plane was in a dilapidataction. Watching his boys play with their ed state, missing pieces and falling apart new toys filled him with glowing pride. as he held it. But for some reason, Tim Tim knew that there was still so much he was drawn to it. Tim bought the airplane, could do to provide for his family ... the carefully holding it, hoping to not cause role of being a dad was much more than anymore damage to it. Why was he drawn working a 9-to-5 job. to the plane? What was it about this plane that gave him hope? Why did he think he In the years that followed, the toys the could fix it? Tim was not a handyman or boys requested were grander and grander, even that crafty of a person. and happily Tim fulfilled every one of When they returned to home, Tim them. Curtis and Timmy’s friends would headed to the shed where he kept his bastart asking for cool homemade crafts afsic tool box. Tim tried to fix the plane, but ter playing with the boys’. Tim was more the pieces were too brittle and delicate. than happy to fulfill their wishes. Next Instead, Tim started taking the airplane thing Tim knew, people from within the apart, keeping and reinforcing the parts Barkers lives were lining up to ask for he could. Next, he built pieces to replace special one-of-a-kind crafts to give away those missing or unable to be used. Little as gifts. He did so because he was given did Tim know at the time, but this aira new purpose, and found happiness in plane would become a metaphor for his Tim and his mom Hazel at the Shriner’s Hospital making others happy. life. His bones were brittle, and doctors For example, Tim’s kids would somein Greenville, SC 40
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times have school projects and presentations where models were helpful. Because the boys knew their dad could ‘build anything’ they came to him for help on their projects. Curtis did a report on the Wright Brother’s and the first flight. Timmy did a project on BellX-1, the first plane to break the sound barrier. “Those were great times I shared with my boys,” stated Tim. “We did all the research, and drew up plans on how to design the models. I even got to teach each of the boys how to use the latest tools that had been added to the shed over the years. They each built their plane with my guidance. When we made those planes, I think the boys both started to understand my love for woodwork and art.” Other inquiries about woodworking came to Tim, including one surprise request that really made him feel humbled and honored at the same time. His pastor at Welcome Home had asked if he could build a model of the Tabernacle as described in the Bible. Recordings in the Book of Exodus, indicate the Tabernacle was a portable structure designed by God and used by the Israelites. It served as the earthly meeting place of God with the children of Israel during the time of the Exodus of the slaves from Egypt. Tim was not sure if he could do this project. “The Tabernacle was written in such detail, every ring counted, every color for every piece of the structure was spelled out, even the layer of the hides that hid the house of worship from prying eyes was recorded all down to the smallest detail,” declared Tim. “I was not sure that I could do it justice.” With the support of his family, Tim took up the task. It took over four months to make the Tabernacle. It had to be done just right. Weeks of research was poured into the project. “God has always been so good to me, I could not fail him. This was easily my hardest and most my rewarding piece yet,” Tim recalled. “Ginny and the boys helped to make sure every detail was painted flawlessly and followed the description in the Bible.” This model of the Tabernacle can be found on display in Tim and Ginny’s church. Other churches from around the area have sent their Sunday Schools to Welcome Home Baptist Church to study the model. “My greatest honor would be to show the Tabernacle to Billy Graham,” shared Tim. “Billy Graham is a spiritual man that helped me when I was at my lowest. I would watch him on television, preaching, and knew this man truly knows God.” With encouragement from friends and family, Tim has as gone on to make art pieces that could be purchased through various nonprofits in the area. The items were sold as fundraisers for those organizations. Currently, Tim has several walking sticks and decorative art pieces for sale at the Ashe County Historical Museum in Jefferson, North Carolina. “I am making art out of wood, while helping organizations — everyone wins,” Tim explains. “I have never done this to make money. Woodworking has given me a purpose. It keeps me moving, keeps my mind active, and allows me to have the honor of making others happy.” “Because of my OI, and getting older, I can not make things in mass quantities,” said Tim. “However, I have and could be persuaded to create special one-of-a-kind pieces for auctions that have direct fundraising purposes. God gave me a talent, and I must honor him by doing good deeds for others.” If you have a project that you believe one of Tim’s art pieces could help raise funds for, or to learn about other locations where you could buy his artwork — Tim and Ginny would love to hear from you. For further information, email them at CurTim2@yahoo.com. t
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High South Weddings Magazine 2017
hrough every season, western North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, lovingly known as “the High South,” offer unforgettable experiences for visitors from all walks of life who hail from various corners of the world, and the same is true for couples who come here to tie the knot. While a revolution in the wedding world is motivating brides across the country to create more imaginative and stylish events than ever, the experts behind our area’s vast, efficient and thriving wedding industry ensure there’s no better place to get married than right here in the mountains. It’s the hard work of So, who said “I do” in the those professionals, and mountains? Read about several the beautiful weddings and local couples in the next edition, special events they create, including: that inspired us to establish our latest publication, High Breanna Brown & Keith Shockley Married Oct. 24, 2015 South Weddings. The inauat Boone United Methodist Church gural edition was produced Burton Photography in 2015 for the 2016 wedMichelle Eggers & John Garner ding season and was later Married July 30, 2016 awarded the coveted “Best at the bride’s family home of Category” award from Joy Davis Photography the Printing Industry of the Katie Boyette & David Brewer Carolinas. Married June 11, 2016 The brand new 2017 at Brayshaw Farm edition will be ready to go Ellen Gwin Photographer and on local stands by early Kata Dungan & Chris Cioffi December, showcasing the Married June 11, 2016 incredible events that took at the bride’s family home Photography by Andi Peters place over the 2016 wedding season. Amber Singleton & Ethan Sluder All year long, we’re Married Sept. 7, 2016 at Overlook Barn Tracy Brewer Photography working day in and day out
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Making the Invisible
Visible By Frank Ruggiero
Call it theatre with an edge. Boone, N.C.-based In/Visible Theatre strives to bring a new voice to theatre in the High Country. Above, from left, Karen Sabo, Travis Boswell, Derek Davidson, Tori Allen and Teresa Lee pose in a publicity shot for ‘Kill Will,’ an original work featuring a collection of William Shakespeare’s greatest fight scenes. Photos courtesy of In/Visible Theatre
There’s community theatre, and then there’s community theatre.
The difference is invisible. The concept is challenging. The result is magical.
n/Visible Theatre, a Boone, N.C.-based professional theatre company, has been raising curtains and eyebrows since 2012, asking difficult questions, celebrating diversity and giving a voice to those not often heard. For co-founders Karen Sabo and Derek Davidson, it’s not just a passion. “It’s a service,” said Davidson, the company’s artistic director. “I think theatre is an im44
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portant component of a healthy community, and history proves it.” He would know. Davidson holds a doctorate in theatre history and serves as a senior lecturer in Appalachian State University’s Department of Theatre & Dance. Sabo, his wife and artistic producer, has been in theatre since the age of 3, having later studied with the American Conservatory Theatre in California, Shakespeare & Co. in Massachusetts and the Saratoga International Theatre Institute in New York. The couple met in 2002 at the Barter Theatre in Abingdon, Va., Davidson a resident actor and Sabo a resident director and dialect coach. “Derek and I bonded at Barter, because we’re both a little weird for actors,” Sabo confessed. “We know so many wonderful actors who are fully, well, actors. By this, I mean that they didn’t care if the show was well directed, or if the script was strong, or if it was a good
In/Visible Theatre artistic producer Karen Sabo and artistic director Derek Davidson believe theatre is a service, directly— and historically—tied to a community’s well-being. producing choice for the community. But we’re both big-picture people who can’t help asking larger questions about the nature of theatre in society in both theoretical and very practical ways.” They shared a meet-cute when Sabo asked Davidson about his Ph.D. thesis, and he graciously thanked her for asking. “It’s a comparison of early female Christian martyrs with modern day female performance artists, by the way,” Sabo noted. He also loaned her the first book on theatre history she’d ever read. “We’re both literary people, so when he joined the acting company at Barter after Id’ been there for a few years, I was glad to have someone else in the company who took performing in ‘The Scarlet Pimpernel’ or ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ as an excuse to read the book.” The rest is history. In 2012, with the help of several core collaborators, Sabo and Davidson made In/Visible Theatre visible, establishing a company tethered not just to the community, but its well-being. “Looking at theatre’s continuity in every civilization we’ve encountered, except for really a tiny swath of our own, theatre’s had more than a merely ancillary position in our culture,” Davidson said. “In Greece, Rome, China and Japan, it’s been much more centered as a civic, quasi-religious, cultural duty. When you have theatres being shut down, you see there’s a community whose health is being jeopardized. When it grows more robust, so does the community.”
As In/Visible builds momentum for 2017, Davidson and Sabo December 2016
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2016: Boone Solo Festival Mark Suggs performs his one-man show, ‘Angel Hair,’ during In/Visible Theatre’s inaugural Boone Solo Festival.
2016: ‘Mauzy,’ commissioned by An Appalachian Summer Festival, Boone Written and directed by In/Visible’s own Derek Davidson, the play ‘explores the concepts of storytelling and music that are inherent to the Appalachian tradition.’ The show starred James Gaither, Kadey Lynn Ballard, Teresa Lee, Savannah Bennett, Jared Coble and Lauren Hayworth. Photo by Jessica Isaacs 46
High Country Magazine
Mike Ostroski, top left, stars in ‘Groundwork,’ an original piece written by Ostroski and In/Visible’s Derek Davidson. Top right, the Boone Solo Festival (BOLO Fest) is In/Visible Theatre’s most recent project. As Boone’s first fringe festival, BOLO Fest took place Nov. 17-19. Photos courtesy of In/Visible Theatre are, as it were, filling a prescription. The active ingredient is relevance — not theatre for a community, but theatre for this community. Sabo calls it “conscious producing.” “One of the things Derek does very well is dramaturgy, and part of that is asking, ‘Why this play now?’ But we also like to add ‘here,’” she said. “There’s a friend of ours who coined a phrase — the ‘Walmart-ification of American Theatre.’ Because a lot of regional theatres will look at whatever they’re doing in New York … and bring it to their area, say, the hinterlands of Washington.” If a production is trendy, it’s not unusual for it to appear in theatres across the country, even if those particular audiences draw little or no connection with the material. Some, however, manage to touch on universal themes. “All theatre is local, inherently,” Davidson said. “You look at the ancient Greeks, and they were writing for fellow Athenians. Shakespeare was writing for an Elizabethan London audience and ended up tapping into universals. ‘Death of a Salesman’ is universal, but it’s about a guy in New York City in the 1940s, very local. Really, so the more you focus on those localities, the more you tap into
universal human conditions and response. “I think you should first serve your community, and that’s one of our desires, one of our goals.” Sabo agrees. “We want to make sure that what we’re producing is for the Boone community,” she said. For instance, In/Visible’s debut production, “Bumbershoot,” written by Davidson and described as “a neo-noir … meditation on just how banal the banality of evil can be,” seemed an odd fit for the High Country. Instead, it premiered at the New York International Fringe Festival in 2012, and In/Visible Theatre was born. “We’re interested in very deliberate producing,” Sabo said. “‘Bumbershoot’ wasn’t made for Boone. It’s more of a big-city show, and we produced it to go to New York.”
2013: ‘Groundwork,’ Boone, N.C. Mike Ostroski stars a Paul O’Malley, a man who reaps more than he sows from his first foray into gardening. He’s looking for the right way to live and is certain this is it. But can he help fix the world if he doesn’t fix himself? December 2016
High Country Magazine
On the other hand, their 2013 follow-up, “Groundwork,” dealt with themes of environmentalism, a subject many High Country residents hold near and dear. “So, it was a good match for the Boone community,” she said. That’s why In/Visible Theatre is extraordinarily selective when it comes to production, having produced five full-length shows since its 2012 inception. While many theatres produce a full season, Sabo and Davidson follow a less-than-conventional formula. “According to Derek’s students, he applies his art to teaching,” Sabo said. “I’m trying to apply what I know from being a theatre artist. If we can produce in different ways, you can break out of that model. We’re trying to just do projects that we feel are important — not just to us, but to the local community; shows that honor them in some way, that ask them to look at things in a new way, from a different angle.” It can even be something with which they’re intimately familiar. Take, for instance, the historic Appalachian Theatre in downtown Boone, currently under renovation to eventually reopen as a community center for the performing arts. In/Visible Theatre is slated to be one of the venue’s user groups, which Davidson and Sabo see as a prime opportunity — not only for In/ Visible, but also for the Boone community. “Derek suggested the first play we do there should be one that was a film,” Sabo said. “This was, after all, a theater, where many people saw films there as kids. So, we’re doing a play there that honors this very important community.” The Appalachian Theatre of the High Country board of directors is recording videos of past Appalachian Theatre patrons recounting their stories and memories from the cinema’s heyday. “So, we’re looking into the possibility of doing a project that would be sort of intergenerational, taking young people — high-school age — and having them do a character study, focusing on these past theater-goers,” Sabo said. “They’ll find one person to research and then make a monologue based on parts of the video, and we would do this as a live show. The older generation in the community would see there’s this bridge between these two very disparate groups that nonetheless live in the same area, while honoring the community’s past and helping demonstrate to younger people how important their elders are and how important this building was. “We think art, at its best, can make people’s lives better, and not just for the two hours they’re sitting
2014: “Kill Will,” Boone, N.C. A collection of the greatest fight scenes from the works of William Shakespeare, “Kill Will” features the celebrated fight choreography of In/Visible core collaborator and Appalachian State theatre instructor Teresa Lee. 48
High Country Magazine
in the show. If we can make projects that are more than the sum of their parts, those are projects that stay with people.”
Filling an Empty Space
Ask a drama geek, “Who wrote the Bible?” Chances are they’ll name Peter Brook. Brook, who Davidson described as one of the preeminent theatre practitioners and theorists of the 21st century, is author of the seminal work, “The Empty Space,” written in 1968 as an exploration of four aspects of theatre — “Deadly, Holy, Rough and Immediate.” In it, Brook writes, “I am calling it the Holy Theatre for short, but it could be called The Theatre of the Invisible-MadeVisible: the notion that the stage is a place where the invisible can appear has a deep hold on our thoughts.”
Hence, “In/Visible Theatre.”
In/Visible Theatre’s Derek Davidson and Karen Sabo feel it’s the company’s duty to give a voice to those who aren’t often heard. Photo by Jessica Isaacs
The company’s 2015 production, “Without Words,” is a prime example. An adaptation of Susan Schaller’s book, “A Man Without Words,” the story is based on the author’s memories of a man who was born deaf and never learned sign language, existing on the fringes of human interaction and society.
The show, which celebrated its world premiere at Appalachian State’s An Appalachian Summer Festival, featured a cast of hearing, hard of hearing and deaf actors and was also presented in Valdese, N.C., and Blountville, Tenn., both of which have a prominent deaf community. “We feel like an artist’s job is to notice things other people over-
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The inaugural Boone Solo Festival — or BOLO Fest — featured nine solo shows performed at various locations throughout town. Pictured are (top) Suzanne Gray, (bottom left) Mark Suggs and (bottom right) Eugene Wolf. Bottom left photo by Frank Ruggiero look,” Davidson added. “Therefore, it’s our job to take those overlooked things and pluck them from people’s peripheral vision and into their main focus, such as this whole culture of deaf people in our country, Americans who are often marginalized, but Americans who have their own culture and language. “The slash is really important in our name. It’s the word, ‘visible,’ in the word, ‘invisible,’ to remind people that they’re not actually invisible, just that they’re overlooked.” But not for long. “Without Words” featured a talk-back session after the show, during which audience members could ask questions, offer feedback and interact with the cast and crew. “One of the most rewarding moments for me was when a guy in the back stood up and said he’d never really thought about this,”
High Country Magazine
Davidson said. “He was fascinated with American Sign Language in that it isn’t just a language, but that the deaf have a culture, and he decided to start learning ASL. And this was a guy in his 60s.” “What we really learned from doing that piece was that if we continue to work on growing institutionally … we can do work that’s just as important artistically and culturally as some of our other pieces, but we can reach more people,” Sabo said. “We want to make society better through the arts, so reaching more people is crucial.”
Setting the Stage
To extend that reach, Sabo recently resigned from her position as executive director of the Women’s Fund of the Blue Ridge, a nonprofit organization dedicated to affecting positive change and economic justice for women and girls in the High Country. “As a project-based theatre, we wait until there’s something to do, and then we do it,” she said. “Over the past year, we’ve just gotten more momentum and have more projects in the works. I’ll always support the WFBR mission, but one of the problems was I couldn’t fully devote myself to In/Visible Theatre.” Now, Sabo can focus her attention on leading In/Visible Theatre forward — including finding a home base. Since its inception, the company has performed in various locations throughout Boone, including Appalachian State’s Valborg Theatre and I.G. Greer Studio Theatre, and the Harvest House Performing Arts Venue. “We’re definitely going to be one of the many user groups for the Appalachian Theatre when it’s done and will use both the mainstage and smaller upstairs community room,” Sabo said. “But, ideally, we’d also like our own studio space, one that we could also let other groups use for improv performances, classes, short-term runs of shows. We have some early plans for this, and I think a space like this is just what Boone needs.” As executive producer, Sabo is also leading the company toward full nonprofit status. “We’ll have more structure, support, momentum and a wider circle of people involved,” she said. “Involvement is very important to us.” It’s also contagious. That momentum brought about Boone’s very first fringe festival, the Boone Solo Festival — or BOLO Fest, for short — held Nov. 17-19. Fringe festivals typically showcase more experimental work from smaller companies, and this inaugural installment featured nine different solo shows performed at numerous locations throughout downtown Boone and the Appalachian cam-
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pus. In fact, the second annual BOLO Fest is already slated for 2017. “We’re doing this partially to honor some of the independent spirit we have here,” Sabo said. “We also love the idea of helping develop ‘artrepreneurs.’ Actors are so often at the mercy of other people — other directors, other producers, other playwrights. We love the idea of helping artists develop their solo pieces that are about their voice … so they have a piece they can truly develop.” Actor Mark Suggs concurs. Suggs debuted his piece, “Angel Hair,” at BOLO Fest, depicting his discovery of his childhood best friend’s final destiny. He also learned something in the process. “It was interesting to see how truth isn’t immutable,” Suggs said. “Things In/Visible Theatre is setting the stage for its future. While currently performing in various came out that I didn’t intentionally locations throughout Boone, including Appalachian State’s Valborg Theatre, pictured, the mean to make happen. Where it ended company is hoping to establish its own studio space. Photo by Jessica Isaacs up was a very different story, but still founded in the truth of my childhood.” “This is truly a professional company with a fresh take on theLike Suggs, most of In/Visible’s performers are local, as the atre,” she said. “It’s giving a voice to a different kind of theatre, the company features local and regional actors whenever and wher- kind that doesn’t get done a lot in Boone.” ever possible. But In/Visible Theatre isn’t here to compete. “That’s one of our motives,” Davidson said. “There are artists “Anyone who’s making theatre in the High Country, we want to here, like us, who like the mountains and don’t want to live in a big be their friends,” Sabo said. “We try to build bridges with the projcity, but want to do their art. So, we want to give them opportunities, ects we’re doing and plan on doing. I think the way we’ll make the and we’ve been doing that consistently since we’ve been here.” community better through art is using these great connections we For instance, 2014’s “Kill Will,” a collection of fight scenes make with fantastic people. We’re creating a network with other from the works of William Shakespeare, choreographed by one of people with similar philosophies, people who love art and want to In/Visible’s original core collaborators, Teresa Lee, featured an en- make art.” tirely local cast. People who make the invisible visible. For Lee, In/Visible offers an exceptional alternative to the High For more information, or to get involved, visit www.invisibleCountry’s already robust stable of theatrical offerings. theatrenc.org. t
Left, Jared Coble and Teresa Lee Star in 2016’s production of ‘Mauzy,’ while Dennis Bohr, right, stars in ‘The English Whore,’ his one-man show performed during In/Visible’s recent BOLO Fest. Left photo by Jessica Isaacs; right photo by Frank Ruggiero 52
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Charlie Travis and a Jewelry Business to Stand the Test of Time
he stoic mountain townâ€™s untroubled charm abides, although an air of excitement begins to filter through the still quiet streets. Spreading swiftly from one corner to another, it moves like the wind along the sidewalks, passing as it flows storefronts that have been closed and secured until the morning comes. Daytime shoppers and visitors have long withdrawn from Main Street Blowing Rock, but with the setting sun came a bevy of new characters â€” a medley of wealthy jetsetters, summer residents and local thrill seekers. The haut monde of the American South have sojourned to the 54
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hill country seeking not only cooler temperatures, but also the indulgences and rarities up for grabs at the three competing auction houses that anchor the townâ€™s flamboyant nightlife. Brilliantly dressed, donning fur coats and dripping with their most resplendent jewelry, throngs of eager patrons spill out into the streets as they work to infiltrate the crowded galleries on a bustling Friday night in 1976, their Rolls-Royce cars parked alongside the curbs. Having slipped over from the neighboring town, college students line the walk to watch the action through large windows from across the street.
By Jessica Isaacs It’s standing room only in the Fincke Art Gallery, which plays to a packed house of enthusiastic buyers waving cash in the air, the sounds of vibrant conversation roaring in a smoke-filled hall. At the podium stands 21-year-old Charlie Travis, the youngest auctioneer in the state of North Carolina. Rich, dramatic oil paintings drape the walls, Persian rugs are piled high and delicate, ornate porcelains hide behind glass cases and stand tall atop antique furniture, lining the space with mountains of heirlooms awaiting their turn in the spotlight. Trays of precious jewels and diamonds in hand, well-dressed employees of the auction house weave in and out of the seated rows, drumming up interested parties and reminding folks not to let those precious pieces slip away. Buyers are ready to bite, and the crowd stirs as the next item up makes its way to the auctioneer. Travis announces the opening bid, and the dance begins. Deals are closing right and left, in-demand products still circulate the room and
new pieces are shown, contested and sold quickly as the fast-as-lightning auction process carries past midnight, despite the scheduled closing time that has long since been surpassed. The Fincke auctioneers could go all night with a crowd like this, and that’s exactly what they’ll do. Forty years later, just across town on King Street in Boone, Charlie Travis is still selling treasured nonpareils at his own store, now named Village Jewelers. With his wife, Joy, and a team of trusted experts by his side, Travis has built an enterprise that can and will continue to stand the test of time.
The Auction Life
Charlie Travis has owned and operated Old World Galleries in the High Country for the better part of four decades, and, thanks to his keen business sense and his focus on the customers he serves, the gallery has been able to change with the times and adapt to growing social trends and cultures over time. In fact, the transformation continues now as the store adopts is new name, Village Jewelers, in order to better represent its specialties for its clientele.
Long before the transition, however, Travis got his first taste of the fine art world as a teenager working in the Fincke Art Gallery, a bustling auction house in downtown Blowing Rock, in the 1970s. “I grew up in Blowing Rock, and it was a sleepy little summer town then. During the wintertime, you might see three cars on the street — and that’s it, all day long. You knew everybody, and we missed a lot of school because we played in the snow a lot,” Travis laughed. “We went sledding down Echo Park and ended up at the pharmacy. There was no traffic because nobody had four-wheel drives, so it was fun growing up in Blowing Rock. At the same time, it was hard for people to make a living. In the wintertime I worked as a carpenter, and in the summertime I worked at the auction.” By the age of 17, Travis was working two auction sales a day at Fincke, which was formerly the Fincke-Sobel Art Gallery and had moved to the High Country from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. “Blowing Rock was a funny place back then. There would be crowds of people spilling out onto the street at these auction houses, because there was nothing else to
Village Jewelers, complete with a new name and a fresh new look, is nestled into the downtown Boone business community. Swing by and say hello next time you're shopping! December 2016
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do in the whole county, except maybe go to a movie theater,” he said. “It was really live entertainment. We sold everything from umbrellas and steak knives to five-carat diamonds and everything in between. At the time, people really loved to collect things. They collected oil paintings, porcelains, silver, diamonds, fine jewelry, Persian rugs. People still bought silver tea services.” Operating from the building that now houses Kilwin’s at 1103 Main Street, Fincke was one of three competing auction houses in the downtown community. Down the road at 1053 Main was the Blowing Rock Art Gallery, which also drew large crowds. “We had two auctions a day — one at 10:30 a.m. and one at 7:30 p.m. — and we gave away prizes. The college kids would come for the free ice creams and Coca Once he purchased it from the former owners of Blowing Rock Art Gallery, Charlie Travis worked Colas,” said Travis. “The majority of the to convert the space into a showroom for Persian rugs and his estate jewelry business. people there were summer residents and their guests, and then people that would and forth and do Florida in the winter months and Blowing Rock come up to stay there — I guess you would call them tourists.” in the summer months. They were all crazy people, but it didn’t “They only operated from, say, the first of June to the middle of matter how sane they were, because the business was just that October, and that’s it. Then the people would go back to Florida. way. It was a crazy business, you know?” Most of them were from the Miami area. They would travel back Two sales a day six days a week meant a lot of activity for summertime on Main Street, and a lot of work for the folks behind the auction houses. “Especially on weekend nights, people would come up and we would have crowds. The seating capacity was probably close to 200, and then it would be standing room only with people spilling out on the streets,” he said. “As long as clients were interested in buying things, we’d stay there and sell. Many nights we would close after midnight because the place was packed and people kept bidding on stuff and asking for things to be sold. “We really worked our asses off, you know? We’d have one sale in the morning until about 1 o’clock. We were supposed to go home and take a nap, but I’d usually get on my Moto Guzzi and ride out 221, take a little nap and go back to work at 7. It’s really hard to describe because it was almost surreal.” Auction sale culture in the High Country thrived in the ’70s, particularly in the otherwise quiet community of Blowing Rock. “It was such a different time in the whole country, for one
Pictured left, the first Old World Galleries location in Blowing Rock was situated next to Sonny's Grill, a popular local hangout. Eventually, the store moved into the larger building just down the road along Main Street, which is pictured right. 56
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Above, the auction floor at Blowing Rock Art Gallery on Main Street is piled high with heirlooms, antiques and other treasured items awaiting their turn in the spotlight. Upon the gallery's closing, Charlie Travis purchased and moved his own business, then named Old World Galleries, into the building that held the auction house. thing, and in this area in general. Everything was more seasonal here, and Blowing Rock was really just a little summer resort town that basically folded up in the winter,” Travis explained. “Most of the businesses closed. Most of the people left. In 1970, I think the population of Blowing Rock was about 900 people. It was hard to make a living. “The auction life was almost like a carnival, you know, because we were showmen. We were entertainers. Part of the appeal, for most people, was that you could go there with your friends and have good, clean fun and be entertained by these crazy people. We always told a lot of jokes and sold things at really reasonable prices, and sold things that you couldn’t go to the store and buy. These days you can go out to Wal-Mart to get steak knives, if you will, but, back then, where did you go to buy steak knives? We would sell everything. Perfume, steak knives, umbrellas. Especially if it was raining, we sold the heck out umbrellas.” Naturally, with such an interesting business came plenty of interesting characters. “We had one guy who was an auctioneer named Artie Fincke. He could remember everyone’s names, where they lived, the street they lived on and he kissed all the women when he came in the door,” Travis said. “Artie Fincke was a great guy and he was from Charlie and Joy Travis are pictured standing in front of their storefront after purchasing the space from the owners of Blowing Rock Gallery. Image courtesy of the Blowing Rock Historical Society's Jerry Burns Collection. December 2016
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When you shop at Village Jewelers, you're bound to be greeted by smiling faces, maybe even those of Boone and Ozzie, Charlie and Joy's Standard Poodles, who are important fixtures in the store. Above, Charlie, Joy and Boone are pictured with employee and friend Jennie Trivette. that I know of in the state of North Carolina that’s down near Hendersonville.”
Fort Lauderdale. He came over to me one night and said, ‘Charlie, don’t put your hands in your pockets. Put your hands in somebody else’s pockets.’ I think they were really from the boardwalk in New Jersey.” By 1976, Travis was working as the youngest auctioneer in the state of North Carolina at age 21, and continued to be part of the Fincke Art Gallery’s success until it closed a few years later. “We stopped having auctions by 1978 because the Fincke could see the writing on the wall. People weren’t buying that way anymore, so he started doing more of the antique shows and selling directly to the customer,” said Travis. “In retrospect, the whole culture changed. It started in the early ’80s, and by the mid ’80s/early ’90s those venues were no longer a viable business model. Today, if you’re looking for an auction gallery like that, where they operate on a regular basis and have auctions every day, I think there’s one 58
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Times They Are a-Changin’
The Fincke family saw change on the horizon, allowing them to transition into business practices that would better suit the next generation of shoppers; and, during his time with them, Travis picked up on their vision. “People changed and their buying habits changed, especially when they stopped collecting things. It happened over a long period of time. When this was going on, you couldn’t just go to Wal-Mart and buy stuff because we didn’t have stores like that,” he said. “As more and more companies entered that marketplace, it almost diminished the value of those collectible things and people stopped looking at them the same way. The buying public began to look at things differently. “Now, granted, you can December 2016
Expert jeweler Morgan Shaw has been working in the industry just as long as Charlie has, and the two eventually joined forces. Charlie commends Morgan's mastery of technique and ability as a crucial component of the store's success. watch the TV and see Antiques Road Show and some items are worth a small fortune, but a lot of the pieces that you see on that show have gone down in value from 20 years ago, 15 years ago, partly because nobody’s collecting them anymore. People used to collect dolls, everything. It was a crazy time, and then they began to evaluate that and think, do I really need that?” The growing number of mainstream shopping stores made many product areas increasingly available to the general public, effectively pulling business away from auction houses like Fincke.
“People changed their buying habits, and people became skeptical of products that were sold in that type of environment and they don’t want to buy that way anymore because of that, I think,” said Travis. “If someone wants to sell an estate at auction, that’s a different kind of environment; but where you’re actually filling a store with product and inviting people to come in and sit down and auction every day, people don’t want to buy that way anymore. Their tastes and preferences have changed. There’s not a pretty way to put that, it’s just what happened.”
When the auction house closed, Travis took his interest in fine art and his business sense, both of which were fostered under the Fincke gallery, and set foot on a journey toward a career on his own terms. “I had no knowledge of those things when I started, but just by being around it you become interested in certain forms of art and study those art forms and learn about them,” he said. “I loved learning about antique jewelry and porcelains and Persian rugs, so those are the things that I concentrated on.”
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EVEN THE COMPETITION NEEDS A LIFT. December 2016
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The year following Fincke’s last auction sale, he opened Old World Galleries in a Foscoe shopping center that was, at the time, called Country House Village and now houses Gilded Age Antiques. “I didn’t have two pennies to rub together in 1979. I couldn’t hardly pay rent. My mom loaned me $800 and her good wishes, and that paid rent for a couple months and bought some office supplies,” he said. “We had mostly antiques and Persian rugs, mostly because we knew people in that business and they’d give us stuff to sell.” Travis was 24 when he opened his own business, and it was generally well received in the community. “It was good. We had clients who wanted to do business with us right from the start,” he said. “People we had relationships with from the auction days and people who supported us. Clients who wanted to buy product from us.” From the get go, Travis had his eye on the storefront at 1053 Main Street, which still housed the Blowing Rock Art Gallery by the time he was out on his own. He knew the space would eventually become available, but in the meantime continued to grow his business in other locations while keeping a watchful eye on his target property. In 1980, Old World Galleries relocated to downtown Blowing Rock next to Sonny’s Grill, the local hangout, in a building that is now home to Six Pence Pub. “After we moved to Blowing Rock, we still had the same product mix, and it was probably about 1985 when we got back into the jewelry business. We sold a really big estate from Chicago, and that’s how we got back into it,” he said. “They had beauti-
ful things from the Art Deco and Art Nouveau periods. All kinds of things, like cut glass, fine jewelry, Persian rugs.” The company would grow over time in its lean toward fine and estate jewelry, and the storefront he’d been waiting for eventually made for an ideal jewelry store, too. Although Fincke had closed up shop more than a decade beforehand, the Blowing Rock Art Gallery was still in the auction game by the early ’90s when Old World Galleries made its way to Main Street. Based on its reputation for less than honorable business practices, Travis new that the still functioning auction house would eventually close its doors, and he was prepared to make his move when it did. “I knew that one day he would screw up and we’d have a chance to get that building. We made an offer on it and he laughed at us,” said Travis. “A couple days later, he accepted our offer because the department of revenue served papers on him.” Travis purchased the building in 1994 and reopened it as the newest home of Old World Galleries. “It was the perfect showroom for our products. We built a jewelry store within a rug store, so we had a big showroom for Persian rugs with beautiful displays,” he said. “We began importing directly from the weaving centers in India and Pakistan and developed the estate jewelry business by liquidating estates from New York to California.” The store enjoyed success in that location for nearly a decade before Travis sensed that change was again on the way. “The reason I like the business I’m in is because I know that we offer a product that will last a lifetime and hold its value and
Friendly, personal, exceptional customer service is the name of the game at Village Jewelers. Customers become longtime friends around here, and each member of the team develops strong working relationships with every client they meet. Pictured here, Joy Travis helps a customer at the counter (left) and Morgan Shaw stands at the ready to meet and greet newcomers. 60
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be appreciated for generations to come,” he said. “That was the basis of why I went out on my own in the first place, but the whole thing about running a business on your own is that it’s hard to get away from it. That’s why corporations have boards of directors — they’re not in the pits every day and they’re stepping away from it to make decisions. “It’s challenging when you run your own business to see how to change it to meet the demands of a changing marketplace. I love working with the public and I love working with products that have lasting value and helping people with them, but I had done it for a long time and I could see the marketplace changing.” Anticipating the recession that would a few years later drastically impact the United States economy, he closed the doors on Old World Galleries for the time being and sold the storefront to Capel Rug in 2003.
Stepping out of the fine art world for the first time in his career, Travis and his wife, Joy, explored other ways to make a living after the store closed in the 2000s. He completed graduate school and tried his hand at the corporate world, but they were ready to jump back into their passion for jewelry and art by the time another decade had passed. “We actually did real estate investment. We’d buy a house, fix it up and sell it. That’s what we did at first, then I went back to school and got an MBA and I worked for a couple of big corporations before I decided that I’m not cut out for that kind of environment,” he said. “In other words, I like to be able to keep my promises and work with people. The corporate life was not for me, so that’s when we decided to go back in business.” In 2013, Old World Galleries reopened in its current spot at 697 W. King Street in downtown Boone, which had served as a jewelry store for many, many years. “Old Man Walker was a watchmaker back in the 1930s and he moved his family here and got into the jewelry business,” Travis said. “It had been a jewelry store forever, maybe 70 years.” The store, and the Travis family, have since found a home in the Boone community, offering a variety of new and antique, vintage and estate pieces. They also specialize in restoring antique jewelry and building completely custom, modern pieces, many of which are created in the styles that were popular during the Art Nouveau and Art Deco periods. December 2016
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As small business owners, Charlie and Joy Travis know all too well the hard work that must be invested in order to achieve success. Not only is this reflected in their overarching plans and vision for the company, but also in their decision to handle the often daunting day-to-day tasks of running a business. They love what they do, and they're willing to go the extra mile to provide their customers with the best experience possible, even if it means taking on those monotonous tasks (like stuffing envelopes) on their own. These high art eras of jewelry making are often the inspiration for custom-created pieces at the store, like an engagement ring that Charlie recently developed using a 1930s diamond and modern technology, which resulted in a one-of-a-kind family heirloom for the client. Travis has been careful and intentional in making sure his business has changed with the times over the years, and he’s perfected both his craft and his operation in many ways since he first opened in 1979. “It was hard starting out — even starting out the second time was challenging. Although we had a pretty good following, a lot of our clients weren’t around anymore. That’s one reason we de-
cided to reopen with the name Old World Galleries, because people knew us and they knew what we did,” he explained. “Today, we have the ability to do more to accomplish more to make sure that we can create exactly what the customer wants. In the other store, we were really more of an estate jewelry business, so we bought and sold things. We did some jewelry work, but custom work is more important to us now than it was then.” Some things haven’t changed, however, like the businesses core values, and Travis guarantees that they never will. “I have always been one with strong faith and hope and a vision, so those things haven’t changed. We concentrate on offering clients quality at a good value and service,” he said. “One of
40 Years of Service: Charlie Travis and the National Ski Patrol
harlie Travis, auctioneer, entrepreneur, art dealer, jeweler, is also Charlie Travis, lifetime public servant. Since the age of 21, he’s been a member of the National Ski Patrol at Beech Mountain, where his love for helping people finds its home. Here’s what he has to say about his four decades of service on the mountain: “My first home on the ski patrol was at Beech Mountain and I’ve been there ever since, and I still do it today. In fact, we just finished our medical refresher. That’s been such a great organization for me because we’re a helping organization. We help people who are in need. We basically work as first responders — skiing first responders to help people who are sick or injured or just help the general public. “Everyone in the organization has medical training. We have our own course now, but it used to be that you were an EMT or were trained by some other medical organization. We call it Winter Emergency Care with the National Ski Patrol. “I’ve always worked at Beech Mountain. It’s kind of a long drive for me, about 25 miles, but I’ve always done that. I’ve always worked up there, partly because it’s a little bit like a family. We know each other. I work with people who I’ve worked with now for 39 years who are still doing it and are still proficient at it. I just really like helping people.”
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the guiding principles of what we do in stocking the store is that we will not buy anything to resell if we wouldn’t want it for ourselves. The whole reason people want to do business with anyone is because they feel a connection to that person. They feel like that person is going to take care of them, and that’s what we want to do.” Although much of its work lies in restoring antique and estate jewelry and creating custom pieces, the store also represents local artists. “We have Wes Waugh, who is from North Carolina and has lived in the area for about 35 years. He loves to paint watercolors and uses brilliant colors very effectively,” Travis said. “We have Jane Miller, also a North Carolina native, who
A festive winter window display shows beautiful pieces ready for Christmas shopping, enticing downtown Boone shoppers to stop in and check out Village Jewelers.
lives on Beech Mountain. She uses oils and concentrates on portraits, primarily. She does commissioned work for clients, as well as painting portraits of the people and the dogs that she loves. We also represent Gale Champion, who lives in Blowing Rock, and also works in watercolors. She paints beautiful local scenes.” Finding balance between constant change and lasting virtue hasn’t been an easy job, but Charlie Travis continues to do it year after year. Most recently, he changed the name of the business from Old World Galleries to Village Jewelers in a total branding overhaul aimed at better reaching potential clients in a digital world. “In trying to adapt to the new social order, we realized
It Takes a Village: The Village Jewelers Team
ach member of the Village Jewelers team plays a crucial role in its success, and, while they each boast their own strengths and specialties, it’s the coming together of their skills and interests that makes this place special. After all, it takes a village, right? “It’s funny how we all do a lot of the same tasks, you know, but the most important is customer service, so each one of us has a really strong relationships with certain customers,” Travis said. “We all like people and we’re all good 64
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with them. “As far as specialty skills, Morgan is really one of the best jewelers I’ve ever worked with, and I’ve worked with a lot of them. A lot of people think they have the skills and abilities to do almost anything in the jewelry business, but Morgan can take on almost any task and do it better than anybody. “Jennie is great with people, and she’s been in the forefront of the jewelry business around here for 20 years. She loves to work with people and she’s
Morgan Shaw very resourceful. She knows exactly what’s available and she knows how to analyze jobs and come up with the best solution. “Joy loves working with people, too. She started in the jewelry business in the early ‘’80s and learned how to do metal and clay sculpture and bead stringing and pearls. She’s taken the Gemological Institute of America’s colored stone course and passed that, too. She loves to work with fine jewelry, especially antique things.”
that, because our specialty is fine jewelry and our name didn’t have the word jewelers in it, people would get us mixed up with companies that are in some other business,” he said. “So, as far as Internet searches go and the way people look for and decide who to do business with, all that has changed. When people go online to find someone to work with, if the name comes up as jewelers, they will assess that you’re a jeweler. I think we were missing out on some business — that’s the short answer.” The new name better reflects the specific services the store offers, but, after decades of doing business in the High Country, the name Village Jewelers means so much more than that.
“We have always felt that it was important to be part of a downtown area or a village. I’m really happy that we could get the name, for one thing,” Travis said. “The concept of a village is that everybody takes care of each other, and it takes more than one person to make things happen, so we rely on suppliers all over the world and we rely on a community that supports us. “The name Village Jewelers just seemed to come together — it was kind of like magic. We’re really thankful to be able to live in Watauga County and make a living here and support our friends and customers.” t
The Evolution of Jewelry: The High Art Period
harlie Travis is passionate not only about fine jewelry, but about its evolution throughout history. Village Jewelers specializes in restoring antique pieces and building brand new, custom designs for his clients that recall the grandeur of styles made popular in the Art Nouveau and Art Deco periods. “The workmanship of 100 years ago is fantastic. That’s when the art form began to develop,” he said. “Around the turn of the 20th century was the high art period in jewelry making, especially during the Art Nouveau period, from about 1890-1915, and the Art Deco period, from about 1915-1935.” So, what makes jewelry from these eras so special? Charlie explains for us the distinctive characteristics of each time period and evolution of the industry in general over time.
The Victorian Era: 1830s-1890
working more with their tastes and preferences. The tradition of an engagement ring and a wedding ring weren’t even popular then. Really, they would just wear one ring, not two. A lot of Victorian things were kind of heavy, by comparison. They weren’t very streamlined and kind of geometric almost.”
Art Nouveau: 1890-1910 “We began to see diamond cutting develop during this time. We understood more about precision cutting and how precise cutting could enhance the brilliance of it. We saw artists like Cartier and Louis Comfort Tiffany, who developed these workshops where they just turned out magnificent pieces of jewelry and they were really creative and the style kind of moved from a more strict design to a more flowing design, almost more organic. Really, the type of jewelry that I think of to symbolize the Art Nouveau period is a silhouette of a woman on translucent enamel. A lot of human and insect figures were used during that period. A dragonfly brooch might symbolize it.”
“If you think about what happened in that era, technology really took off. Prior to 1850, diamond cutting was kind of primitive, and jewelry making was primitive, too. Actually, prior to the Victorian era, only the super wealthy people, the kings and Art Deco: 1910-1930s queens and a few other wealthy Art Deco was really a further people, were the only ones that development of Art Nouveau. had jewelry. Most of it was made Again, it comes back to our abilby contract for royalty up until ity to use modern equipment, about the Victorian era, then inlike electrically powered cutting dustrialization began to take hold machines. Before, they were powand people were able to amass forered by a treadle or bicycle. All tunes — regular people, not kings of the sudden, we had this ability and rulers of countries. Really, the and were able to actually underAn 1890s cameo brooch at Village Jewelers jewelry industry began to develop stand more about light refraction epresents a staple in Victorian era jewelry design. in the early 1800s. One jewelry and the brilliance of a diamond. Photo by Joy Davis Photography item that come to mind from this Toward the end of the Art Deco period is a cameo brooch—that’s period is when the Gemological kind of symbolic of the Victorian era. Women couldn’t even Institute of America was formed, and they further studied vote until the first part of the 20th century, but they were diamond cutting to better understand how we could get the beginning to help develop jewelry designs and people were most brilliance out of a stone. December 2016
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You’ve probably seen
He Covers a lot of
Ground Story by Karen Sabo Photography by Candice Corbin
f you’ve noticed Bobby running, it may have been because he was wearing a full sweat suit and knitted hat on a balmy summer day. Maybe you saw him running up one of our steep local inclines wearing a formidable, heavy-looking backpack. Or you may have been surprised to see this slightly-built, red-haired guy running barefoot, but in any case, if you waved to him, you’d definitely notice that he would return your wave with an unusually friendly enthusiasm, even for our wave-conscious High Country culture. Some people jog. Some people train for marathons, named for the Greek story of a messenger who died after a 26-mile run. Cordell is an ultra-marathon runner, meaning that he’s one of those people with some kind of cranked-up internal drive that makes him regularly run distances of 30, 40, 50 miles and more. He grew up on the Watauga side of Beech Mountain, and didn’t grow up running, although he says that some of the labor of his youth did prepare him for the kind of strength and endurance he needs for regularly running 30 miles at a time. One single moment changed his life forever, and set him on his current path. When in his early 20s, he was involved in a car accident that left him with severe injuries, but healing from this devastating event was what led him to his current path of fitness. “I had a collapsed lung, broken jaw, broken bones and stuff. I spent seven days down there in the ICU in Winston-Salem. When I got out I pretty much just gave up on any hopes of exercise,” said Cordell. 66
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After the accident, his weight crept up to 310 lbs., over twice what he currently weighs. Eventually, he decided to get in shape, but when basic exercise and light jogging got him down to a plateau of 240 lbs., he realized he wasn’t making the progress he wanted, and he took a drastic measure. “One day I came up with an idea to sell my car and force myself to run everywhere. I sold my car and moved to Clint Norris road, and I would run to Boone and back every day for about two years, carrying everything I had with me,” said Cordell. Even in the winter, he’d run the 3 ½ miles from home to work in downtown Boone, carrying his backpack and gear, and run back home after finishing his shift at a downtown restaurant at midnight. “That was the get-in-shape fast plan and it worked because I had no clue what I was doing. My body basically went into survival mode and started burning fat and pounds like crazy. I was actually eating more but I was losing weight really fast because I was run-
Bobby Cordell ning an average of about 7 ½ miles every day no matter what.” Despite taxing his still-healing body, he started to feel a lot better. Eventually, he began to run extra distances, covering miles around town for exercise, instead of just for transportation. He added miles gradually, but became inspired to try long distances because of an article he read about pioneering ultra-marathon runner Al Arnold. “I read about this man and he ran from Death Valley to Mount Whitney just to see if he could do it. 135 miles in the middle of July. No help, no nothing, just him and a friend to see if they could do it. Park rangers didn’t even believe he did it. But he did it. And after a while they turned it into a race, it’s the hardest race in the world, called Badwater. I read that and I was like, well, if he can do that, I can. So, I started running further and further to see how far I could run. One day I did 84 miles. In one day, just to see how far I could go. And I was like, okay, I
can go a pretty far distance.” Cordell learned he liked to push himself to go further, try harder, and do better than he’d thought he could. The longest run Cordell has done was 105 miles on the Boone Greenway Trail, and in his typically generous fashion, that event was a tribute to his friend Matt Jenkins. Jenkins had just completed a 760 mile run across North Carolina to raise awareness for the local non-profit, Western Youth Network. “He came back to Boone and as a welcome back present, me and some friends decided we were going to do an all-day thing out there. I ended up doing 105 in 22 hours.” Cordell added, “Matt ran 50 that day, barefoot, after he ran across the state.” Susy Slingland, who knows Bobby through the Boone Running Club, describes him as “a very, very, very nice guy.” This club has both casual runners and ultra-marathon athletes, but SlingDecember 2016
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land said that Bobby is supportive of all the runners, regardless of level. “Bobby is great because he can run his mouth during the entire run. So if you’re struggling, you don’t have to talk at all, it’s great. He’s great as a pacer, because he likes to run just a little bit ahead of you and he likes to talk the whole time, so he keeps your brain engaged, so you’re not thinking about what pain you might be in, and keeps you going because he’s always right in front of you.” His chatty nature also endears him to people who have little to do with running or marathons. Appalachian State grad and Appalachian Voices staff member Lauren Essick met Cordell because of his fondness for Earth Fare muffins. “I’ve known Bobby since around the time I moved to Boone in 2008. He and I were both frequent shoppers at Earth Fare, and Bobby would often come in after his runs to eat muffins when he needed to refuel. He’s so friendly and was always quick to start conversations about any number of topics, from running to activism, healthy food, or philosophy,” said Essick. She describes him as one of the friendliest people she’s met, and as caring deeply about his community. He shared his story with her about how he started running, which impressed her. “While most people would have started out slow with some moderate gym workouts, Bobby decided that he would run to his job every day. He told me he had been determined to get in shape, even if it killed him. I’ve always admired the dedication that must have taken. Bobby’s story of getting healthy is really inspirational to me.” She added that while she admires him, “We don’t run together. There’s no way I could keep up with Bobby.” Cordell said that the largest race he’s ever won was the Charlotte Big View 5K with about 300 runners, but his very first race was a notorious 50-miler called the Bethel Hill Moonlight Boogie in Ellerbe, North Carolina. The web page for this race reads more like a warning than a mere description: “This is not your normal marathon. The course is not certified. You will be in the middle of nowhere. There are only 6 houses on the course and they have dogs. Aid stops are over 5 miles apart…. If you decide to quit, there are no pick-up vans…there are no street lights…If you need to be catered to every couple of miles along the course or worry running in the dark, perhaps you should not come. The drop out rate among veteran 50-milers is usually 40%... Think long and hard before you enter this event… If you’re not ready to step up…stay away. Find an easier event.” In other words, this was the perfect first event for Bobby, who liked to challenge himself while running up the 1000-foot climb from downtown Boone to Howard’s Knob Park by wearing a backpack filled with 80-100 pounds worth of
“While most people would have started out slow with some moderate gym workouts, Bobby decided that he would run to his job every day. He told me he had been determined to get in shape, even if it killed him.” Lauren Essick 68
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“Eat. I eat a lot. I eat a whole lot.” rocks, chains, and a spare tire. “[The Bethel Hill Moonlight Boogie] is considered one of the hardest ultras in the country. It was hard. I finished fourth place in that, and I was really proud. It starts in June at 6pm, and the average temperature’s 95-97 degrees. The reason I think it’s so hard is it’s all road and it’s so hot that your body wears down really fast. And the tobacco smells. And the wild animals. The race waiver will tell you that there’s snakes, snapping turtles, turkey vultures, people will throw things at you, everything in the race waiver is there. It only has two aid stations, that’s it. You gotta carry your stuff. I honestly will say that the Boogie is the hardest race I ever seen in my life. It’s hard.” Cordell says running 50 miles actually feels good. “I can run 40 or 50 and get a nice endorphin rush. Anything over 67-70 is when it starts to become very hard to continue, at least for myself.” While Bobby admits what he does is extreme, and leaves him little time for hobbies, he has been cutting back a little on his running schedule. “I’ve been running about seven years now, but when I first started I would run every single day no matter what. And now, I’m like, okay, it’s good to take breaks and rest and recover. So sometimes I’ll run seven days a week and sometimes I’ll run like six or five. Yesterday I ran 28 [miles], today I did just one. 28 yesterday was… phew.” He estimates he burns up between 40005000 calories a day, on average, so he described his hobbies as involving food, saying what he does in his spare time is “Eat. I eat a lot. I eat a whole lot.” This was corroborated by friends and running-mates who mentioned his preference for muffins, and jars of peanut butter. Cordell said he also goes to coffee shops, meets the Boone Running Club at Appalachian Mountain Brewery for running and beer, and likes to check out the trail shoes at Footsloggers. “I just like running, eating, resting, work. That’s about it.” Bobby has done varied kinds of work,
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including manual labor like construction, factory work, and has a good deal of restaurant experience. He currently works at Over Yonder restaurant in Valle Crucis, and will turn 40 next May. Cordell mentioned that Al Arnold, the ultramarathon runner who created the Badwater run, was in his late 50s when he accomplished that feat. Cordell hopes to keep running well into his older years as well. He thinks this will be possible “because I started later in life…The guys in college, they’d still keep racing until they were 40 or 50 or so. They’re still really fast and good, but they just quit. They stop. I started later, and most people who start later tend to keep with it, they do it more for enjoyment.” He enjoyed growing up on the ‘backside of Beech,’ calling it “nice and peaceful.” His parents commuted to Boone for work, with his mother working as a nurse for the elderly, and his dad picking up furniture to deliver all over the U.S. Cordell says that no one else in his family runs, but he still credits his rural background as giving him the foundation for his current strength and endurance. His uncle had a Christmas tree farm on Roan Mountain, and Cordell would make wreaths and help with the trees in the winter. Running 60 miles at once is tough, Cordell said, but not as hard as that. “There’s nothing like old hillbilly, pine-tree-diggin’ strength.” t
Bobby Cordell’s Advice for New Runners • Set a length of time you want to run, and stick with it. • Don’t worry about speed or distance. • The best shoes are the ones that feel comfortable for you. (He likes Adidas and mixed racing flats). • To try running barefoot, start slowly! Add just a few minutes each month. • Complex carbs are best for long distances, but find what works best for your system. • Always just enjoy the run!
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HCPress.com “I heard a guy once explain the beauty of a newspaper. The newspaper, he said, was an adventure through your hometown, and as you ﬂipped through the paper you never knew what you might ﬁnd on the next page. That’s what made the local paper a part of your life, and that’s what we hope our website can still be – a window to our local communities where our readers are always ﬁnding something new as they scroll down our front page.” – Ken Ketchie
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Photo: Darren Reese, App State Athletics
App State Athletics Loses a Legend
erald Adams, otherwise known as “Mr. Yosef,” passed away on Nov. 9 at the age of 84 years old. Only retired for about a month, Adams was diagnosed with inoperable brain tumors days prior to his death. Adams first arrived on the Appalachian State campus in 1950 as a student. After graduating from App State and serving in the U.S. Army for a couple years, Adams spent nearly 40 years in the Pittsylvania County Schools system in Virginia, where he was a teacher, coach, principal and assistant superintendent. In 1991, he returned to Appalachian State for good to direct the Yosef Club, which is the fundraising arm for Appalachian State Athletics, where he became a recognizable figure, donning a gold jacket, black-and-gold dancing shoes and, of course, a fist-full of championship rings. His impact on ASU athletics was substantial. In announcing his retirement, ASU Athletics noted that the Yosef Club raised about $360,000 in the year prior to his arrival – compared with roughly $3 million per year in the past three years. In all, he helped raise $33 million in scholarships for athletes during his 25 years leading the Yosef Club. But his impact was much more than financial. David Jackson, a broadcaster who was the “Voice of the Mountaineers for more than 15 years, remembers Adams’ energy, enthusiasm and encouragement as inspirational to those working in the vicinity of Mr. Yosef. “He was an incredibly hard worker,” Jackson said. “He was 72
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a rare breed in that he bled blood from being a football player at App back in the days before helmets. He was as old school as they came, but because of that experience he really took it to heart that he was able help the next generation of student-athletes have that college experience.” Adams, Jackson said, didn’t just look at just the fundraising amount goal. He thought of his work in terms of “human capital.” In other words, how many lives can I impact today? Jackson recalled that Adams always wore his Sony Walkman headset to listen to “every second of every game,” and on many a plane ride back to Boone after an away game, Adams would always relive his favorite parts of the broadcast to Jackson. Sometimes, Jackson and the broadcast crew would make a call for fans listening in to wave their hands, and Adams might be the only person in the stadium to answer the call. “Some days weren’t going as well for us, but we knew Gerald was listening,” Jackson said. Gerald was genuine, incredibly gracious and a champion of those working behind the scenes. “He would randomly seek you out and say, ‘Hey, you did a good job,’” Jackson said. “That was a big boost of confidence to a lot of us really just learning how to do it for the first time … He didn’t have to do that, but him being an educator first, I think that was his nature, and we certainly all were able to benefit from it. By Jesse Wood
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