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Adams Farm

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Great pairs for a great pair. Art for Eyes | Eye for Arts Fine Eyewear, Artwork and Jewelry 327 South Elm | Greensboro 336.274.1278 | Becky Causey | Licensed Optician Singer/songwriter Laurelyn Dossett; journalist and educator Justin Catanoso. A pair since 1984.

T yler R edhead & M cAlister salutes A damsleigh the 2013 Junior League of Greensboro ShowHouse Adamsleigh

Adamsleigh — one of the last great estates built during an era of opulence and luxury. Noted architect Luther Lashmit considered Adamsleigh one of his greatest achievements noting that “no expense was spared in its construction” which was during the 1930 depression. The sprawling mansion includes the main house as well as an attached servant’s/chauffeur’s wing. The home at one time had two pools, a stable, pony ring & barn plus a five car auto court. Adamsleigh’s woodwork, materials, spiral stairway and other architectural features will long be rivaled for their endurance of time. With over 17,000 square feet and 13.5 acres on the famed Donald Ross’s Sedgefield Golf & Country Club golf course, it is indeed one of America’s last great estates. Price & brochure upon request.

Oak Hill Farm

3125 NC Highway 150East

Situated on three magnificent parcels of land totaling approx. 30 acres, this farm offers rolling land, water and numerous out-buildings. The main house has been beautifully renovated including a state-of-the art Kitchen, hardwood floors, separate Laundry Room, Butler’s Pantry with wet bar and wine cooler. Formal living and dining rooms, family room with brick fireplace and sunroom now overlook a slate patio with brick walls and side gardens. Enjoy all the bounties of mother nature yet still have convenience to shopping, schools and airport all within Guilford County! Survey on file. Brochure available.

For more information about these fine Greensboro properties contact Katie


M A G A Z I N E volUme 3, no. 4

“I have a fancy that every city has a voice.” 336.617.0090 227A North Spring Street, Greensboro, NC 27401 Jim Dodson, Editor andie Stuart rose, Creative Director David c. Bailey, , Senior Editor 336.617.0090 • ashley wahl, Associate Editor cassie Butler, Photographer/Graphic Designer kira Schoenfelder, Graphic Designer

... this stunning Irving Park home would tell you how the founder of Sampson Sauce perfected his recipe under its roof, or of the wonderful parties the home has hosted. More recently it would tell you about the remarkable renovation it received at the talented hands of the Zenkes. Now you have the opportunity to become part of this fine home’s story. Contact Wendi or Tom for more information.

TomChitty &Associates Tom’s team is the top producing sales team for Prudential Yost & Little Realty.

CONTRIBUTING EDITORS Harry Blair, maria Johnson, Deborah Salomon, Jim Schlosser CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS Sam Froelich, Stacey van Berkel CONTRIBUTORS Jane Borden, tom Bryant, Fred chappell, tina Firesheets, tc Frazier, Bubba Greene, Bill Hancock, Sara king, meridith martens, miss meemaw, mary novitsky, ogi overman, connie ralston, Deborah Salomon, noah Salt, Stephen e. Smith


David woronoff, Publisher ADVERTISING SALES marty Hefner, Sales & Circulation Director 336.707.6893, Hattie aderholdt, 336.601.1188 amy Grove, 336.456.0827 ADVERTISING GRAPHIC DESIGN kira Schoenfelder, 910.693.2508

Tom Chitty Ph: 336.908.0983 Email:

4 O.Henry

April 2013

Wendi Huffman Ph: 336.254.4122 Email:

©Copyright 2013. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited. O.Henry Magazine is published by The Pilot LLC

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Begin your own tradition.

You never actually own a Patek Philippe. You merely take care of it for the next generation.

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April 2013 Features

What if Emily Dickinson was wrong . . . 47 Poetry By Connie Ralston

Anne of a Thousand Days 48 By Jim Schlosser

The Historic Odyssey of Reid Stowe

52 Scallion Worldly wise Mary Ellen, inventor New Fiction by Fred Chappell

of the kale burger, is back

Friday Night Firefighters and 56 Drinking Club By Bill Hancock

A group of remarkable Friday night friends who changed — and shaped — life in the Gate City

Miss Meemaw and Bubba 59 Take Your Life Questions By Miss Meemaw and Bubba Greene

and Found 60 Lost Barn

By Jim Schlosser

A house with a questionable past is reborn as a home of treasures

April Almanac 69 By Noah Salt

April Fools, April blooms


Omnivorous Reader 19 The By Stephen E. Smith 23 Wine Guy By TC Frazier 27 Serial Eater By David C. Bailey 33 Food for thought By Deborah Salomon

9 Hometown By Jim Dodson 12 Short Stories Requested Recipe 17 Most By David C. Bailey

35 37 41

By Tina Firesheets Gate City Icon

By Maria Johnson

The sporting life

By Tom Bryant

artist at work

of Jane 45 Life By Jane Borden

73 Arts Calendar 87 GreenScene 95 Life’s Funny By Maria Johnson 96 O.Henry Ending By Ogi Overman Cover Photograph from R eid Stowe

Photograph this page by Stacey Van Berkel 6 O.Henry

April 2013

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

With age comes wisdom and with wisdom comes preference,

even for a colonoscopy. When your doctor recommends a colonoscopy, know that you have a choice. You can ask to have a virtual colonoscopy at Greensboro Imaging. Virtual colonoscopies don’t require sedation, are less invasive and require less time. You can even drive yourself home after the procedure is completed. If your doctor recommends a colonoscopy, tell them you’d like to go to Greensboro Imaging, the Piedmont’s premier image provider. For a complete list of our services and locations or to make an appointment, call us or visit our website.


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My Beautiful Madness

By Jim Dodson

With apologies to Mr. Eliot, during the 15 years we lived on a coastal hill in Maine, April really was the cruelest of months, far more fickle than anything he knew in England — teasingly warm one minute, biting cold the next, with brave green crocus shoots poking through the hoarfrost one morning followed by a foot of new snow falling the next, days alternating between mud and ice, sun and gloom, and me the whole while dreaming of spring back home in Carolina. Several times I had to shovel snow from the front walk just to get out the door for Easter services. And during those rare years we didn’t flee home for the holiday. The simple act of watching the Masters telecast was almost too much for my thawing senses to abide: all that lurid spring-green grass and banks of blooming azaleas; all those reverently hushed and respectful galleries sunning themselves in the short sleeves; the greatest names in golf bent to the task of earning the most coveted green jacket on the planet. Do you blame a son of Old Catawba — who otherwise loved everything about the simple life on a forested hill in Maine save for the approximate two days of spring it offered — from going a tad stir-crazy? A little madness in the spring, understood Dame Emily Dickinson, poet laureate of New England shut-ins, is wholesome even for the King. But forget the King — unless you mean His Majesty King Arnold, of course, because April is really the start of golf season for many of us. To make matters worse, my father would invariably phone from Greensboro on Masters Sunday to inquire, cheekily, if I’d seen any sign of my yard yet that spring. The Art & Soul of Greensboro

“Played over at Mid Pines yesterday with the boys,” he would casually let out like a showgirl accidentally showing too much leg to the vets at the old soldiers’ home. “Looked better than Augusta National. Wish you’d been with us. Your mom thinks the dogwoods and azaleas have never been more beautiful than this year. I’d have to agree. This year they’re something to see.” Because I hail from a race made up of far more gardeners than golfers, my mom, on the extension, would cheerfully inquire how my geographically challenged “Southern” garden had fared through yet another Maine winter. This was a small cultivated spot between the decks on the south-facing side of our house where I attempted, with varying rates of success, to replicate the spring blooms so near and dear to my redneck heart. For several years running, in a bold affront to nature, I transported a string of young and entirely innocent Eastern redbud trees across several state lines and planted them in my “Southern” garden hoping they would somehow find a way to survive and even thrive and bloom their silly heads off. No single one did so, proving it’s not nice to try and fool Mother Nature. My form of arborcide became a source of family amusement for years. “So how’s your garden looking this April?” I’d politely ask her in return, knowing the answer even before I posed the question. Her spring flower beds were always standouts, little wonder she’d been one of the garden club volunteers who worked on the spring gardens at nearby Tanger Family Bicentennial Garden. “Oh, the daffodils came a bit earlier than expected and the cold nipped them a bit. But the irises and tulips were simply lovely. And my peonies are looking very good. Spring has really sprung here. You should see the azaleas this year, honey, especially across the street! Joe Franks and Frank Sinatra are doing their thing — a true sign of spring!” I could just picture old Joe Franks across the street from my boyhood home, polishing his beloved Cadillac with Ole Blue Eyes crooning from his Caddy’s eight-track, his house bunkered by tens of thousands of blazing azalea, red, white and several shades of pink, dogwood petals drifting April 2013

O.Henry 9

HomeTown down like snow, sweetly oblivious to the steady stream of cars bearing garden gawkers who couldn’t fathom how one street could possibly boast so many blooming shrubs. It wasn’t named Dogwood Drive for nothing. The Southern dogwood is a funny and frail creature. It generally only lives 30 to 40 years before it gives up the ghost to disease and decay. The two glorious spreading giants in our yard, as it happened — one pink, one white — lasted more than half a century before they showed signs of disease and seemed to lose sections of themselves with every passing year. By the time I moved home to North Carolina seven years ago, taking up a sweet life between Greensboro and the Sandhills, both they and my parents had passed on and old Joe Franks had polished his last Cadillac to the music of Ole Blue Eyes. But the lovely single woman who bought my parents’ house invited me to come dig up some of my mom’s beloved peonies and day lilies and transplant them to my own garden. That’s a holy spring task I have yet to perform simply because now that I gave up my faux Southern garden in Maine in favor of a lovely old house we rent in Southern Pines, I really have nowhere to dig in the soil and delve in the soul, as the small garden sign in my mother’s perennial beds read for decades. After reluctantly parting with our house up North three years ago — waiting a year too long to pull the trigger to sell, thus losing a small fortune as the real estate market tanked — we found a beautiful old house in Weymouth Woods that’s owned by a retired Pennsylvania couple. The house reminds me of the Ludwig Bemelman’s beloved Madeleine story that my daughter Maggie grew up loving, and begins In an old house in Paris that was covered in vines, lived twelve little girls in two straight lines. As the ancients, all golfers, and certainly my farming forebears understood, nature has a way of reminding us who keeps the upper hand and what’s really important, the impermanence of life yet also the power of its annual renewal in the form of glorious Southern spring, a perfect Easter symbol of resurrection and the Masters’ famed green jacket. For years, I suppose, grieving in a quiet way for the Northern garden I gave up helped mute my itch to get down and dirty in the spring. The portico and modest half-moon terrace of the old house where we’ve been surprisingly happy sufficed, sheltered by a pair of Mediterranean hollies where the robins invariably swarm in March, feasting on red berries that make them feisty and drunk with the nectar of returning spring, providing me just enough space for a decent container garden that begins to bloom modestly come April. The redneck verdure in my Southern blood seems to be reasserting itself with even more inten-

10 O.Henry

April 2013

sity this spring, however. I find myself cruising the older neighborhoods of Greensboro and Southern Pines looking at cottages and imagining myself as the staff gardener in residence. “I’m an old man but a young gardener,” Thomas Jefferson was alleged to have remarked, and that certainly sums up my own reviving passion for the dirt. Some years back, not long before I came home for good to the South, I slipped off to South Africa for an entire month with a group of blissfully obsessed plant hunters and had one of the finest adventures of my life, venturing into some of the wildest Afromontaine jungles on Earth in quest of rare pineapple lilies and mountain hyacinths no larger than the tip of your little finger, dodging angry Chakma baboons and lethal spitting cobras. Every time they found some extraordinary plant growing in its natural habitat, my learned companions let out hoots of joy — “hortgasms,” as I referred to their involuntary vocal passions. The book that came out of this adventure, Beautiful Madness, is far and away the most fun book I’ve written. It reminded me of something important about my connection to the soil — namely that I can’t ignore my other favorite outdoor passion — my own beautiful madness — for long. Especially at Masters time — which I’ll be attending again this year, by the way — golf reasserts its comforting and familiar hold over me. But it’s really my love of getting gloriously dirty and working alone for hours in a garden of my own making, fussing with the soil and planning this new bed or that, digging out or planting in, feeling the rain and smelling the spaded earth, watching things come to life and briefly flourish before they too pass on for another year that calls out to my redneck soul. It’s the closest mortal man can get, I sometimes think, to playing God or simply brushing the divine. In one way or another, with each returning spring, we’re all going the same way as my parents and old Joe Franks and even Ole Blue Eyes. In another Walter Mitty life I might happily have been a landscape designer or even a golf course architect, several of whom are among my closest friends. Winning the venerable Donald Ross Award from the Golf Course Superintendent’s Association of America as I did a couple years ago was not only a lovely surprise but something of a sweet revelation that brought everything full circle. For me it all commences in earnest with sweet April’s rising curtain. Someday very soon I’m likely going to venture back to Dogwood Drive and finally see about digging up those glorious peonies that belong to my past — and future. OH Contact editor Jim Dodson at

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Breadth and Lit In 1964, when the Woman’s College became the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, only two universities in America had creative writing programs: Stanford and the University of Iowa. Literary luminaries Fred Chappell, Robert Watson and Peter Taylor helped UNCG become the third. “We didn’t want some kind of magic wand program where we handed out graduate programs for signs of poetic sensitivity,” Chappell once commented. “Our aim was to build a community of writers. We wanted to give students . . . the chance to have the kinds of conversations that only happen when you’re around other writers.” That’s also the idea behind the North Carolina Writers’ Network’s Spring Conference, which takes place on Saturday, April 13, on the campus of UNCG. Professor Emerita Lee Zacharias will lead an all-day fiction workshop. Author Judy Goldman will give pointers on writing your memoir. Andrew Saulters of the Greensboro-based publisher Unicorn Press will demonstrate the fine art of bookmaking. Over one hundred writers and publishing professionals will be there. Join them. Discounted tickets are available until April 7. Here’s your chance to have lunch — and rub shoulders — with our state’s literati. Info: AW

devil’s in the details

dr. Funnyman


There in the rarefied confines of Weatherspoon Art Museum — mounted alongside a Cubist copper head of Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw and a Willem de Kooning bronze in the exhibit Head to Head — the tortured gaze of a horned and goateed fiend looks hauntingly familiar. Captured in plaster, the half-tattooed head of Otto Long, a Greensboro artist who works in wood, demands a second . . . third . . . or fourth glance. Aptly described as Demon Head, it’s so startlingly realistic you almost want to reach for your handkerchief and mop his furrowed brow or bloodshot eye. Cast in 1995 by then-UNCG-artist-in-residence John Ahearn, Long once said, “I got tattoos to get rid of my demons.” Ahearn, who now works out of New York, met the much-tattooed artist in a tattoo parlor on Lee Street, says Elaine D. Gustafson, Weaterspoon’s curator of collections. “Otto self-identified as a demon and the artist respected that in his work and used it as a title,” she says. The theme, though, dates back to antiquity — “the depiction of the duality of human nature.” Two current exhibits featuring portraiture — Head to Head and The Penetrating Gaze — are drawn from the museum’s permanent collection of 6,000 items and will be up into June. Info: (336) 334-5770 or DCB

The man who once compared the modern South to a pair of comfortable tattered jeans is coming to Greensboro. Author of 1,001 Thing Everyone Should Know about the South, sociologist John Shelton Reed will discuss his latest book, Dixie Bohemia: A French Quarter Circle in the 1920s, at the annual dinner of the Friends of the UNCG Libraries on April 29. The only sociologist to make Roy Blount’s list of funny people in his Book of Southern Humor, Reed also penned Holy Smoke: The Big Book of North Carolina Barbecue, which he wrote with his wife, Dale Volberg Reed. Born in Kingsport, Tennessee, the man is a genuine Southerner, though his education is Northern, with a bachelor’s from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a doctorate from Columbia University. The annual event, which begins at 6 p.m. in the Elliott University Center, is the Friends of the Libraries’ major fundraiser, with the money going to Walter Clinton Jackson Library and the Harold Schiffman Music Library. Tickets for members are $50 each; $60 for nonmembers. For information call (336) 334-4849 or click on JS

second Wind

Maybe we’re partial. OK, we’re real partial. But we’d like to point out O.Henry editor Jim Dodson has won the U.S. Golf Association’s Herbert Warren Wind Book Award, a prize given every year for the most outstanding contribution to golf literature. Dodson took the top prize for American Triumvirate: Sam Snead, Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan, and the Modern Age of Golf, which The New York Times put on its 100 Notable Books list last year. We’d also like to point out that this is J.D.’s second Wind award. He also won it for Ben Hogan: An American Life, published in 2004. Dodson will get his second Wind, so to speak, during the week of the Masters Tournament, April 8–14, but you don’t have to go to Augusta to say, “Congrats, Jimmy D.” Just come to Barnes & Noble in Friendly Center — near Dodson’s alma mater, Grimsley High School — on April 25 at 7 p.m. We promise he’ll tell stories, read from his book, sign copies and flash that irrepressible grin of his. MJ

12 O.Henry

April 2013

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Short Stories

talk of the town

sauce of the month

Sometime last year, Skip Moore, Lee McAllister and a handful of their savvy Weaver Foundation associates were sitting around, talking about TED Talks — the counterintuitive lecture series that examines a tantalizing array of topics, everything from “How a fly flies” to “How to reverse climate change.” Suddenly, the idea struck them: “Let’s bring TED here.” Basically, the whole premise of TED, which gives folks from the realms of Technology, Entertainment and Design a platform upon which to exchange ideas, is to gather people together and inspire conversations. On April 16, speakers from Greensboro — professors, creators and industry leaders — will be engaged in TEDxGreensboro, our own independently organized TED event. They will also tap into the accumulated volume of the globally popular TED talks, which anyone can watch online at Although there’s only room for one hundred participants (chosen via ticket lottery in late March) to attend the event at the Greensboro Historical Museum, various local sites including high schools, colleges and organizations will stream it live. “I hope what it achieves is interest in further kinds of gatherings where people can get together and talk,” says Moore. For more information and to inquire about how your site might host a live stream event, visit AW

My mother, rest her tortured soul, absolutely cringed when my father and I would pour steak sauce on almost everything she served. “You haven’t even tasted it yet,” she’d wail. “I already know what A.1 tastes like,” my dad would say with a grin. I wish he were around to try Leblon Churrascaria Brazilian Steakhouse’s Signature Steak Sauce, which is sort of halfway between his beloved A.1 and my personal favorite, Heinz 57. Thick, studded with black pepper and hot enough to make you sit up straight, Leblon’s steak sauce delivers an aromatic and tangy overtone that will have you wondering what’s the secret ingredient. The answer is the same refined palate that has made the steakhouse one of Greensboro’s favorite fine dining venues See “From Brazil with Love,” page 27. Available from the restaurant at 106 South Holden Road; (336) 294-2605 or DCB

Cirque City When 9-year-old Adrienn Banhegyi skipped rope with her schoolmates in Hungary, they must have watched in awe as they chanted something like: “Cinderella dressed in yella, went upstairs to kiss her fella, made a mistake, kissed a snake, how many doctors will it take? One, two, three, four . . .” And they counted and counted and counted, certain that, eventually, she’d miss a beat. Flash forward twenty years. Adrienn’s still jumping — and from city to city — as a Cirque du Soleil rope-skipper and acrobat extraordinaire in the whimsical stage production Quidam, which lands at the Greensboro Coliseum April 17–21. The show, entirely dreamed up by a curious young girl named Zoé, takes the audience along on a capricious journey during which contortionists dangle from bands of silk like spiders working in the night, jugglers dazzle and a slew of various characters send one’s imagination running wild. The jump-rope act, which includes Adrienn and nineteen other acrobats smiling like they can eat all the candy they want — will make you breathe hard just watching it. Tickets start at $40 for adults, $28 and up for children 12 and under. For a performance schedule and more information, visit AW The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Hop, sip ’n stroll You do the math: Ticket price for Sip-n-Stroll? $25. Number of venues, each offering two samples of beer or wine? More than a dozen. Sounds to me a lot like a buck a beer. Not bad, especially if it’s NODA’s Hop, Drop ’n Roll or Coco Loco Porter, available at the Mellow Mushroom. Or in the wine arena, sample a 2010 Guenoc Victorian Claret 2010 or a 2012 Dry Creek Fume Blanc at The Worx. But pace yourself: Sipping will begin at 1 p.m. sharp on April 13 and ends at 6. Five hours, 24 samples. You might consider wearing running shoes. And definitely grab a map at one of the event tents at the south end of Elm near MLK Drive or the north end of Elm near Friendly. “We anticipate that the restaurants will pull out all the stops and, with the help of their distributors, feature some of their very best beers and wines,” says Dianne Ziegler, president of the event’s producer, the Greensboro Downtown Residents’ Association. Participants include Crafted — The Art of the Taco, Grey’s Tavern, Liberty Oak, Natty Greene’s, Tavo and Zeto. Advance tickets $25 at Tickets on the day of the event, $35, from the event tents. DCB

April 2013

O.Henry 13

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14 O.Henry

April 2013

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The Art & Soul of Greensboro

short story Contest In honor of the anniversary of William Sidney Porter’s 151st birthday, O.Henry magazine announces its 2013 O.Henry Magazine Short Story Contest. Check out the winners from last year’s contest by going to and clicking on the October issue. Open to Guilford County residents only, awards and cash prizes will be presented to winners in three categories: • High school students • College students • Adult writers Contest guidelines: • All submissions should be no more than 2,000 words in length. • Entries should be emailed, along with complete contact information, to (or snail-mailed with a selfaddressed, stamped envelope to O.Henry Short Story Contest, 2103 Rolling Road, Greensboro, NC 27403). • Winning entries and runners-up may be published in the magazine. • Winners will be announced at a special birthday celebration. • One entry per writer. • All entries must be received by no later than July 1, 2013.

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Working It

Short Stories

You might think of Guilford Technical Community College as a place to hone workplace skills — and it is — but it’s also a ticket to arts and entertainment. To wit, GTCC’s Fine Arts Theatre is putting on its very first major musical, 9 to 5: The Musical, April 4—6 and 11—13. The show is based on the 1980 hit comedy movie about female friendship and revenge in the workplace. Several GTCC grads — including the choreographer and musical director — are helping with the production. Director Giuseppe Ritorto is also a GTCC graduate and current faculty member. Performances — at the Joseph S. Koury Hospitality Careers Center, 601 High Point Road in Jamestown — begin a 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, with additional matinee performances at 2 p.m. Saturdays. (The show is not recommended for children.) Tickets cost $15 and are available at or or by calling (336) 887-3001. A pre-show dinner will be served by GTCC’s Culinary Arts Program at 7 p.m. April 4 and April 11. Meal reservations can be made at MJ

April 2013

O.Henry 15

Some people always seem to be buttoned up

even when they’re not.

High Point

I Greensboro I Winston Salem

Most Requested Recipe

the Bread of Life Yes, they have bananas by david C. bailey

since Christ Lutheran Church’s first worship service was held at General Greene Elementary in 1958, a year before the sanctuary was built at the corner of Lawndale Drive and Pisgah Church Road, members have been sharing food, fellowship and, of course, family recipes. Picking out the best from all the rest is impossible, but Judy Woodham’s pecan-and-chocolate-intensive Martha Washington candy is a candidate, passed down from her grandmother. Or there’s Nan’s cheesecake, which has “become a staple and centerpiece at a yearly holiday party we host for our church council and staff,” Nancy Shellaway says. ”That amounts to more than twenty-five years and fifty-plus cheesecakes,” she reflects. Any good recipe, of course, needs an interesting backstory. Judy Barrett recalls how she learned to make yogurt from scratch in the 1960s from an Armenian friend in Beacon Hill, Massachusetts. “You need some to make some,” her friend explained in heavily accented English. Barrett recalls how her friend suggested that she “wrap a Corning Ware bowl in a sweater overnight and put it in an unlit oven.” The pilot light supplied just enough heat to turn the mixture into yogurt. From angry onions to St. Peter’s fish, from Aunt Bee’s kerosene cucumbers to raggedy robins, each recipe from Bread of Life has a rich history. Genny Cobrda’s buttermilk-banana cake, frosted with coffee-and-chocolate icing, is a contender for the church’s most-requested recipe. It has a rich heritage. The original recipe is scribbled onto a small slip of paper, written in her grandma Caroline’s Slovak tongue. “It was first transcribed to English for a church cookbook in 1954, after being dictated from Yugoslavian to English by my grandmother to my mother,” Cobrda says. “Growing up in Akron, Ohio, my brother John and I knew a birthday celebration was never complete without this special cake.” Cobrda’s grandmother used to whisper her secret to them: “The bananas aren’t ready until they are brown, and look rotten!” But in the eyes of those two children what will never be forgotten was the cake’s prodigious size: “That cake was huge — three 10-inch layers, covered with a chocolate icing like no other,” Cobrda says. Be advised, though. The icing must be stirred nonstop, with the utmost care. No stopping once you’ve started. And there were two more essential ingredients: “love and patience.” “Even the walnuts have a story,” Cobrda says. “My grandfather would buy whole walnuts in a huge canvas sack as big as my little brother, who was 4 at the time. When I was old enough, Grandma would let me help her crack the nuts, one at a time, using an old-fashioned nutcracker.” Then they had to be chopped by hand. “No food processors in those days,” she recalls. Cobrda’s cakes come close to those of her grandmother’s, but there’s a little something missing: “She never measured anything, but each time the cake was perfection,” she says. “The lesson we learned is: Never substitute anything!” The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Grandma’s Banana Cake 1� 1/2 cups sugar �1/2 cup shortening (Crisco) One egg and one yolk 2 cups cake flour 1 teaspoon baking powder 1 teaspoon baking soda 1/2� teaspoon salt 1 cup mashed, very ripe bananas (brown) �3/4 cup buttermilk 1 teaspoon vanilla 3/4� cup chopped English walnuts, optional, 1/2� cup added to cake, 1/4 cup as a garnish Cream the sugar and shortening with a mixer, adding the egg and yolk. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Gradually add to the shortening mixture, mixing with an electric mixer. Add bananas, buttermilk and vanilla. Blend with the mixer until the batter is smooth, adding walnuts if you want them. Pour into two 8-inch cake pans that have been greased and floured. Bake at 325 for 30–35 minutes.

Frosting: �1/2 cup strong coffee 4 tablespoons butter, unsalted 4 squares baking chocolate 4 cups powdered sugar 2 teaspoons vanilla Put the coffee, butter and chocolate in a pot. Heat carefully until melted. You might want to use a double-boiler or a second, larger pot underneath with water in it. Remove from the heat, gradually adding the sugar and vanilla, while beating. Beat to frosting consistency. You should have enough frosting to frost the center, top and sides. Garnish with walnuts, if desired. Bread of Life is available from the office of Christ Lutheran Church, 3600 Lawndale Drive, for $15 or by mail order, including shipping for $19.95. Info: (336) 288-4482 or OH April 2013

O.Henry 17

The Omnivorous Reader

The Great Refrainer

Silent Cal Coolidge and the business of saying as little as possible

By Stephen E. Smith

Americans tend to indentify our media-savvy 20th century presidents with their most memorable soundbite — “I’m not a crook,” “Read my lips. . . ,” “I didn’t have sex with that woman,” etc. — but it’s impossible to tell where Calvin Coolidge, the first president to address the American people via radio waves, falls on the oops-I’msorry-I-said-that scale. Silent Cal not only escapes being identified with any egregious misstatements, he escapes being identified with any utterance whatsoever. Indeed, the question most Americans would ask about Coolidge is: What did he say? The answer, according to Amity Shlaes’ new biography, Coolidge: An American Enigma, is not much. For Coolidge loquaciousness was a vice. All his life he made a point of saying as little as possible, even though he held more press conferences than any other American president, then or now. What he did say usually fell into the tomorrow-is-another-day category of self-verifying truisms: — “I am for economy, and after that I am for more economy.” Also, “The business of America is business.” Under Coolidge’s light-handed leadership the federal debt fell, the top income tax rate came down by half, the federal budget was always in surplus, and the unemployment rate lingered at 5 percent. Although Coolidge may have ridden the horse in the direction it was headed, there’s no denying that during his administration Americans wired their homes for electricity, The Art & Soul of Greensboro

bought their first cars or household appliances on credit, took to the air in large numbers, submitted more patent applications than ever before, cut back on their nasty habit of lynching fellow citizens, quit the Ku Klux Klan in droves, lit the first White House Christmas tree and so forth. Shlaes would have us believe that most of the positive aspects of American life began to flourish during Coolidge’s tenure, in large part because he said and did little. She dubs Silent Cal “the great refrainer.” In her extensively researched biography, Shlaes includes all the obligatory facts concerning Coolidge’s rise to power — his sojourn in city offices and the state legislature, his stint as governor of Massachusetts, and in particular his handling of the long forgotten Boston police strike, the event that catapulted him into the national limelight. In September 1919, the majority of the Boston police force walked off the job, leaving the city open to hooliganism and looting. Governor Coolidge held to a hard line when dealing with Samuel Gompers and the union, stating: “There is no right to strike against the public safety, anywhere, anytime,” a stance that would later be adopted by Ronald Reagan when dealing with air traffic controllers. Coolidge’s three years as Warren Harding’s vice president left the American people with little insight into what his policies might be when he assumed the presidency. They need not have been concerned. When Coolidge took over the reins of government, the country was enjoying unparalleled prosperity. As president, he worked to keep federal interference at a minimum. He opposed farm subsidies, preferring a loan program. He spoke out on civil rights, but did little to promote equal opportunity for minorities, and he ignored pleas for federal relief and flood control measures, even when his native New England was ravaged by natural disasters. In short, Coolidge was a president who strongly embodied the contemporary Republican view of small government — which raises questions about the timely appearance of Shlaes’ “scholarly” work and the responsibility and April 2013

O.Henry 19


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20 O.Henry

April 2013

motives of the biographer writing during a time of intense political turmoil. Ms. Shlaes, a syndicated columnist for more than a decade, is a former editor for the conservative The Wall Street Journal. She serves on the board of the Calvin Coolidge Memorial Foundation and is the author of The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression, whose hypothesis is that the New Deal only worsened and prolonged the Great Depression. In a recent editorial, she writes that Ronald Reagan isn’t the only president who could right our teetering economic system: “. . . if you look back, past Dwight Eisenhower and around the curve of history, you can find a Republican who did all those things: Calvin Coolidge.” She identifies Coolidge’s conservative approach to governance as enjoying three advantages that shaped a thriving economy. First is the Budget and Accounting Act of 1921, which denied the president control over the budget. The second is Coolidge’s determination to make austerity permanent. The third is Coolidge’s belief that ambitious budget cuts would be accepted if he could “align” them with ambitious tax cuts — all gratifying information for those who share the conservative viewpoint. As soon as Coolidge appeared in bookstores, a pundit no less than George Will wrote a column touting the virtues of Ms. Shlaes’ biography and the strengths of character demonstrated by Coolidge, stating that if Barack Obama, “America’s most loquacious president (699 firstterm teleprompter speeches),” could learn from the Coolidge biography — and by extension, from the man himself — the country would come together in an orgy of love and thanksgiving. Shlaes’ biography has been mentioned favorably by Joe Scarborough on Morning Joe and on other conservative news programs. Even the Raleigh News and Observer ran a letter to the editor touting the new Coolidge biography, reminding liberal readers that Ronald Reagan hung a portrait of Coolidge in his cabinet room. Shlaes isn’t effusively enthusiastic about Coolidge’s record as president, but she seems to gently nudge readers into the inescapable conclusion that Silent Cal’s approach to government is best reflected by today’s Republican Party, such as it is. The serious reader, Democrat or Republican, might do well to read David Greenberg’s 2006 Calvin Coolidge, which fills in some of Shlaes’ omissions and counterbalances her view of our 30th president. OH Stephen Smith’s most recent book of poetry is A Short Report on the Fire at Woolworths. He can be reached at The Art & Soul of Greensboro

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Wine Guy

A Spring Bouquet of Rosés The ideal chilled companion for the return of warm weather

By TC Frazier

As springtime approaches, a fresh almost “new-ness” is in the air. Soon, paper bags will be filled with huge zucchinis and red, ripe plum tomatoes. Spring showers will serve as an excuse to sit on the porch and listen to Otis Redding. Kids will run through fresh-cut grass with not a care in the world. These moments can be fleeting. Similarly short-lived is the vast array of rosés that adorn our favorite wine list and pop up in shops from April to October. As a wine industry person, I feel it is my job, nay my mission, to bring fun, interesting wines to the foreground. I truly enjoy letting people know that there are dry rieslings, or that merlot is OK to drink (after all it’s the noble grape in bordeaux), or that some of the best values come from far flung places that you can’t possibly say three times fast. Yet as adventurous as we have become in America with our wine selections, I feel that rosés are left largely unexplored. The Art & Soul of Greensboro

The majority of rosé wines are made from red grapes. The red varietals most often used in making a rosé wine include: pinot noir, syrah, grenache, merlot, malbec, cabernet sauvignon, tempranillo, sangiovese and zinfandel. These varietals may be either used solo or in a blend. Rosé varietals are often country dependent, so a rosado from Spain will often be largely derived from a blend of tempranillo and garnacha grapes, while Italy may use more sangiovese for its rosatos. Here, we tend to lean more toward cab, merlot and zinfandel. In making a rosé, the skins of red grapes are allowed to have less contact with the grape juice than when making a red wine. The shorter the contact time with the skins, the lighter the wine’s color will be. Extended time with juice and skins yields some amazing, eye-catching color variations from vibrant orangey-pink to nothing less than a vivid hot pink. Sparkling rosés are traditionally made with a blend of red and white grapes. While this practice is usually limited to the sparkling category, it has also popped up in producing some interesting still rosé wines. Rosés are perfect for spring and summer, as they are served chilled and can be a refreshing accompaniment to warm weather fare. Rosé wines also top the charts for food-friendly versatility. So, if you are opting for surf’n’ turf, rest assured that a rosé could handle both the seafood and the steak in one fell sip. Also a great picnic wine, rosé tends to have a lighter body and more delicate flavors on the palate, presenting a great wine partner for a ham, chicken or roast beef sandwich, served with fruit-, potato- or eggApril 2013

O.Henry 23

Wine Guy

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salad. And it’s a perfect complement to chips and dips. Rosés are also a great accompaniment for a backyard barbecue, tackling hamburgers, hot dogs and grilled corn with ease. What’s more, the acidity in rosés tends to diminish faster than other wines. So when Thanksgiving comes around, I break out all my rosés hoarded since early spring, because I’ve learned nothing goes better with turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes than rosé. Regrettably, rosé wines fell into disfavor when the wine market was flooded with white zin lookalikes. Now many consumers are discovering that rosés are so much more refined than those sweet, wine-cooler quaffs and are embracing the broad stylistic offerings on the rosé market from all over the world. Wine-lovers and wine-makers are both the better for it. Rosé wine sales are on the rise as savvy oenophiles have discovered that many of these pink wines are not sugary sweet, but rather sophisticated summer sisters of red wine varietals. Cheers!

Suggestions Tempier Bandol, Provence, France Grown in soil tilled both mechanically and by hand without the use of herbicides, the vines are grown without the use of any chemical fungicides. The grapes are harvested by hand and carried in small bins. Clusters are hand selected in the vineyard and in the cellar. You wanted the best, you got the best.

Lamberti Brut Rosé, Italy The fruit for this delightful off-dry pink prosecco is sourced from the best hillside vineyards across Treviso in the Veneto region of Italy. Expect white flowers, roses and red berries in the nose, with red berry, apple and milk chocolate flavors in the mouth. The finish is clean and refreshing. This sparkling wine has a delicate, lightly fruity style that will make it the perfect aperitif on its own or served with salmon appetizers or delicately fried morsels, such as nuts.

Muga Rosé Rioja, Spain Made from 60 percent garnacha, 30 percent viura and 10 percent tempranillo, this rosada is a very pale pink. Spicy orange, strawberry and floral aromas mean very good clarity and energy. Tangy, sappy red-fruit flavors are enlivened by dusty minerality and a hint of white pepper. Look for a finish with very good cut and length, leaving orange zest and floral notes behind. OH TC Frazier lives in Greensboro and has been in the hospitality business since he was 14. He currently is employed by Tryon Distributors.

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April 2013

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

please call today for appointment 4004 spring garden st suite e greensboro, nc 27407 336.855.0903


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26 O.Henry

April 2013

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Serial Eater

From Brazil With Love Leblon’s secret ingredient calls herself Ilma

By David C. Bailey

At Leblon, suit coats and sometimes ties

Photograph by Cassie Butler

are shed as red-bandannaed gauchos carve sizzling slabs of pink lamb and juicy beef amid a rustic Brazilian backdrop of exposed bricks, polished hardwood and gleaming brass. The Pantagonian gauchos-fromthe-grasslands atmosphere could hardly be more masculine, with co-owner Walter Vanucci often frontand-center, charming guests with his rich accent and cosmopolitan manners. But the fireball behind Leblon’s success is a dynamic five-foot-four, ravenhaired Latina who doesn’t mind setting you straight about who’s riding herd on those gauchos in, arguably, Greensboro’s most successful locally owned steakhouse: “People walk in and they think I work for Walter,” says Ilma Amaral, her eyes flashing. “They look at the restaurant and assume, ‘You’re his wife and you came after this,’” she says, gesturing with a flip of the wrist at the sea of neatly arrayed white linen napkins and crystal glassware awaiting guests. “It’s the other way around, people.” After all, Walter Vanucci, 55, had limited restaurant experience in 1990 when he met Ilma at her highly successful four-star Continental restaurant, which she and her brother Carlos Amaral founded in Roanoke, Virginia. Once they became a couple, the two decided to pick up and move to Greensboro, motivated by Triad diners who had vacation homes at Smith Mountain Lake and kept telling them they’d be so much more successful in Greensboro than Roanoke. Together, they opened the city’s first and only Brazilian restaurant in 1996 to excellent reviews. In 2004, the couple The Art & Soul of Greensboro

reopened it as a churrascaria, an all-you-can-eat steakhouse, then moved six years later into a more visible location at the corner of Market and Holden, supplanting the Gate City Chop House as the city’s premier, locally owned purveyor of steak. But if this is beginning to sound a little like a story about how a couple lovingly worked together to realize their dreams, forget it. “It’s not,” says Ilma, 50, with finality. “It has to do with surviving. When you’re an immigrant, you have to survive . . . I was raised without a father, and I don’t have Plan B. I only have Plan A.” Nowadays, Plan A includes a bold reinvention of the couple’s other restaurant, Monezi, which they just moved from a lackluster location on N.C. Highway 68 near the airport to a more heavily trafficked spot once occupied by Schlotzsky’s Deli, just west of Walmart off Wendover. Ilma admits the concept is risky and totally different from Leblon Churrascaria Brazilian Steakhouse — or anything else in Greensboro — a pay-by-the-pound Brazilian and Continental buffet featuring fine-dining fare: chicken steeped in dark Brazilian Xingu lager, for instance; seafood-studded paella; Italian favorites such as eggplant Parmesan and lasagna; chicken in a lemon-cream sauce with artichokes; and their fabulous signature collards, flash-fried in olive oil and garlic. Call it casual elegance, if you will, but it’s a bold move for the couple, just like the bakery on Muirs Chapel Road they opened in 2007 and closed a year later. “Many times, we have an argument, but I say let’s do it because nothing lasts forever, and you have to constantly re-create yourself,” Ilma says. “The simple life is not complicated enough for her,” Walter adds. Ilma Amaral was born in a town of 20,000 in an agriculturally rich section of Brazil known for its cheese and coffee. Her father was a well-to-do German immigrant, her mother Brazilian. “She married this guy who had a lot of money,” Ilma recalls, “and he left her to raise five kids on her own.” The house was paid for and relatives and neighbors helped them out, but Ilma still wonders how her mother managed to make ends meet working as an accomplished knitter of artisan sweaters. All the children attended college on scholarships, April 2013

O.Henry 27

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Serial Eater Ilma says. After one of her brothers moved to Montreal in 1972, he managed to file immigration papers for the whole family. Although she had a teaching degree, Ilma went to work in Canada as a sewing-machine operator. After three years, she moved to Toronto for a job doing piecework for more than four times her original hourly wage of $3.75. “I loved it, and I have no regrets,” she says. She bought a house, sublet the first two floors to tenants and made extra cash cooking for them on the side. “I made my first $100,000 by the time I was 23 years old in the real estate market,” she says. In 1989 she sold the house and moved to Roanoke, joining a small Brazilian community there. Using $48,000 to buy a Thai restaurant, she and her brother, Carlos Amaral, who had previously served as a chef in several four-star restaurants, opened a fine dining venue serving Italian and Brazilian cuisine. It struggled for months but finally got a rave review for its exceptional fare, cooked from scratch using fresh ingredients. “We went from having twenty-five people a day to having three hundred,” Ilma recalls. As business picked up, her brother hired Walter, who happened to be visiting friends in Roanoke, to help out as a waiter and manager. Walter, the perfectionist, and Ilma, a Type-A, get-it-done sort, immediately clashed: “I told my brother to fire him. He was so slow,” Ilma says. Walter Vanucci grew up in a well-heeled neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro. His father was of Austrian extraction and worked as an accountant; his grandmother on his mother’s side was an Italian immigrant whom Walter remembers as an incredible cook. Eventually his mother opened her own pastry shop in the ritzy Copacabana district, which she still operates. At 19, Walter had to quit college because of his father’s death at 45. He worked at various jobs — in his mom’s bakery and with a travel agency, which gave him the opportunity to visit Miami, Hawaii, New York — and Roanoke. Despite Ilma’s dictum, Walter didn’t get fired. Instead he started spend-

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

ing more time in the kitchen, where Carlos taught him how to cook: “He was a great chef,” Walter says of Ilma’s brother, who still runs the restaurant in Roanoke, “and I learned a lot from him.” In Greensboro, Ilma ran the front of the house while Walter cooked. Finding the right menu items for Greensboro was tough, Walter remembers. The Brazilian national dish is called feijoada, a hearty black bean stew that’s still offered at both restaurants. “In Brazil, the traditional way to prepare it is with odd parts of the pig — the feet, the tail, the ears,” Walter says. “At first, I did it traditionally, and the first person I served sent it back to kitchen and said there’s no way I’m going to eat those things . . . That was a red alert for me.” But with the help of Ilma, who’s always reading trade magazines and attending fancy-food shows, they created one of Greensboro’s most eclectic à la carte menus, with an accent on seafood: “She’s very creative,” he says, “always trying new things, rotating the menu. Within the first year, we were breaking even.” Which was a good thing, since they’d used their house as collateral to get a loan from BB&T. It was touch-and-go for a while, Ilma recalls: “People sometimes commented, ‘Oh my God, you’re so empty. Do you think you’re going to make it?’” She’d tell them with utter confidence, “Yes, I’m going to make it.” But Greensboro was a much tougher market than Roanoke, with a lot more competition, especially from big chains. Which is why Leblon abandoned its à la carte format in 2004 and became the Triad’s first Brazilian steakhouse. It was an instant success, although Ilma says, “We lost 99 percent of our regulars.” The new clientele was younger, and they saw a lot more business clients on expense accounts. “Our bar business tripled,” she says. Some restaurateurs might be tempted to leave well enough alone, but not Ilma. When their lease came up for renewal in 2010, she jumped at the chance to move into Gate City Chop House’s prime location on Holden Road. Again,

April 2013

O.Henry 29

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1993 — 2013 30 O.Henry

April 2013

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Serial Eater putting their house on the line, they moved practically overnight: “We don’t take a month off to do things,” Ilma says. “We closed Leblon up the street on a Sunday, and on Tuesday we were open here. It was crazy.” Just as crazy was the schedule for opening Monezi’s first location. They closed their illconceived Brazilian bakery and sandwich shop on Muirs Chapel Road in June of 2008. “It was a nonprofit organization,” says Walter. By August, they’d opened Monezi, with Ilma eager to provide jobs for those who lost them at the bakery. Admittedly shaken by the bakery’s failure, Ilma says, “I got right back on the horse. I am Aries. I think it has to do with my stubbornness, not giving up.” Ilma had been thinking about the Brazilian buffet concept for some time when she stumbled across a restaurateur who practically begged her to take the keys of his restaurant, with all its furnishing . . . and a cooler full of food . . . and three-months free rent. “The offer was too good to turn down,” she says. By the time Walter found out about it, it was practically a done deal. Same with the bakery: “I don’t always tell him what I’m going to do,” Ilma admits. “Sometimes, he comes home and says, ‘What the hell is this?’” Walter’s quick to give his wife credit for her innovative ways: “She really does have a vision,” he says. And Ilma’s gotten used to her husband’s attention to detail and buttoned-down attitude (he doesn’t drink and, though from Rio, disapproves of Carnival, she says). “He keeps an eye on quality and he’s a perfectionist in the kitchen.” Says Walter: “We execute well together.” True, she agrees, “but I’m the one who takes all the risks.” Despite being in the middle of a recession, moving the steakhouse to the new location almost doubled their business. It’s too soon to say whether Monezi, which wasn’t a moneymaker at the old location, will experience similar success. It was jammed on a recent weekend, but, as the couple knows only too well, Greensboro has a way of mobbing new restaurants for a few months and then forgetting all about them. That’s why Walter has gone back into the kitchen at Monezi, preparing many of his old favorites with the help of a Brazilian cook, Helena Almeida. Ilma’s son by her first marriage, Leo Freitas, is a manager. What’s next? “There’s something cooking,” says Ilma. “But don’t say anything. Walter’s not going to be able to sleep.” Giving her husband sleepless nights is all about a promise she made when she was a child: “I promised myself, and not because I was a girl, that I would prove to my brother and mom that I would be as successful as my brothers.” Besides, she says, “Life becomes too boring. Get stuck and you die.” OH

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

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O.Henry 31

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32 O.Henry

April 2013

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Food for Thought

Bagels Rule By Deborah Salomon

Bagels are a many-storied food. Here’s the most likely: Centuries ago King John Sobieski of Poland helped the Austrians save Vienna from marauding Turks. As a gesture of thanks, a Jewish baker created stirrup-shaped yeast rolls called a beugel (“stirrup” in German) with which he showered Sobieski and his victorious horse brigade. Eventually, the stirrup got rounded out and the beugel became a bagel. Polish immigrants brought their bagels to New York City — real bagels, not blueberry-cinnamon-oat bran-chocolate chip-heart shaped for Valentine’s Day. Blessedly, hard-shell plain bagels remained in New York for decades. They were baked in the bowels of Brooklyn or the Lower East Side and delivered before dawn in big brown paper sacks to delis and corner stores. Price: About a dollar a dozen. They were, in a word, divine. We ate them untoasted with plain cream cheese (a little salty smoked salmon, if you could afford it), for breakfast, never lunch, brunch or snack. Nobody froze bagels or attempted to retain freshness with a plastic bag. Why, with fresh available every morning? Then bagels were discovered. Discovery (even by Lender’s) is not a good thing when it turns a classic into a Lady Gaga. Some food marketing genius decided that tangy, chewy bagels deserved Americanizing. They should be softer, sweeter, puffier. And they should be everywhere. Soon freezer cases, bread counters, cake bakeries stocked a dozen flavors, even colors, like green for St. Patrick’s Day. An abomination! Bagel shop chains, as well as local bagelries, sprung up. I was there, in Burlington, Vermont, when attorney Nord Brue birthed Bruegger’s. I’ll give him this: a Bruegger’s plain comes comfortably close to the real thing, which is dead, dead, dead even in New York, even at Zabar’s. Experts blame the flour, the water, the ovens. More likely the hands, the spirit, the respect. The Art & Soul of Greensboro

So, short of resurrection, we’ll work with what’s available. Plain (just not the mushy supermarket kind) bagels make wonderful skillet pizzas: Cut in half, place cut side down in a skillet or griddle rubbed with olive oil. Brown lightly over medium heat. Turn cut side up, top with best-quality pasta sauce from a jar, pepperoni, spinach leaves, mushrooms, cheese, anything. Cover skillet and continue cooking over low heat until toppings are hot. For something really special, use Alfredo sauce, chopped garlic, sweet onion and cooked shrimp sliced lengthwise. Lightly toasted plain bagels make the greatest dunkers for thick pea or lentil soup, tomato bisque or the fancy new offerings in cardboard containers. Back at the breakfast table, use the pizza method to heat bagels, flip, fill hole with an egg (graded small or medium). Cover and cook over low heat until egg reaches desired doneness. Or slice bagel lengthwise into thirds; soak in an egg-milk mixture, brown in butter like French toast, top with syrup, jam or warm cinnamon applesauce. I’m not much for bagel sandwiches; soft fillings squish out the sides. Exception: sliced real turkey (the kind you roast at home, white and dark meat) and lettuce with Russian dressing (mayo and chili sauce) on a pumpernickel bagel. The New York bagels of my childhood may be gone with the wind, but I’ve been bagel-blessed by living in Montreal. Montreal bagels — hand-rolled, coated with sesame or poppy seeds, baked around the clock in wood-fired brick ovens at hole-in-the-wall bakeries — earned the World’s Best title from Food & Wine magazine. They are chewy, never sweet. The flour and water must be just right. I buy them hot — divine in a different way. For a Southern city (other than Atlanta and Charlotte), Greensboro is also bagel-blessed, I’m told. Bruegger’s, First Carolina Deli and Lox Stock & Bagels — here I come. Thomas Wolfe was wrong: You can go home again. Only problem, not much at home is the same. But stuff happens. The Greeks left a giant wooden horse at the gates, to sneak into Troy. Lady Godiva rode naked through Coventry to protest taxation. Horse-god Pegasus sprouted wings. Would then, Epicurus, a Polish stirrup smeared with Carolina pimento cheese be asking too much? OH Deborah Salomon is a contributor to O.Henry and PineStraw. She may be reached at April 2013

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Majorly big brownie points


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34 O.Henry

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The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Artist at Work

The beautiful, readable art of calligraphy

By Tina FiresheeTs

PhotograPh by caSSie butler; calligraPhy by Pat leVitin

She calls it seduction in black ink. Letters that curve like a woman’s figure. Words of honor, love and passion that flow line by line. This is what draws Pat Levitin to calligraphy. The hand can take a simple sentence and turn it into a work of art. Examples, framed and encased in glass, hang throughout Levitin’s home. Her name and her husband’s name — Pat and Peter — with whimsical trails of ink sprouting from the P’s and T’s. Lines from Shakespeare’s play As You Like It, swirling in a circular pattern. At the center lies the the play’s signature quote: “All the world’s a stage.” *** Levitin took up calligraphy more than thirty years ago on a whim. She had three young children — and a master’s degree in economics — but she yearned for some creative time. So she signed up for a calligraphy class at GTCC and left her children a few hours a week with a woman known as the “neighborhood grandma.” Every night, after she put her children to bed, Levitin cleared the kitchen table and threw herself into perfecting each letter. She got better. Then she got really good. She attended workshops and international conferences. Most of her teachers were British calligraphers who practice medieval methods. They include Shelia Waters, who’s considered the mother of calligraphy. Then there’s her mentor, Peter Thornton, regarded as a pioneer in the craft. For years, Levitin stayed busy with calligraphy jobs and served as president of the Carolina Lettering Society. When she enrolled in the University of North Carolina at Greensboro’s art school in 1993, she didn’t tell anyone about her calligraphy. But she couldn’t escape it. People called her sculpture “calligraphic.” Today, she works for the university, promoting UNCG in three programs, but calligraphy remains her passion and a thriving sideline business. Many of her clients are men who have written original poems for their wives or girlfriends. Those are her favorite jobs. A client in the early 1990s came to her when he was dying of AIDS. He wanted to leave his lover with a collection of poems. She completes many wedding certificates and invitations. One popular request is to create double intertwining hearts with the The Art & Soul of Greensboro

bride’s and groom’s names with the date of their marriage. Sometimes, people want her to copy a quote they’ve read. Her most distinguished clients include the late Pat Sullivan, once chancellor of UNCG, who asked her to copy a poem written in honor of the philanthropist Joe Bryan. A relative of Maya Angelou’s also hired her to copy one of Angelou’s poems. Levitin remembers hearing Queen Latifah read the poem at Michael Jackson’s funeral. “That would be so beautiful written in calligraphy,” she thought. A week later, Angelou’s niece contacted her to copy the poem to give to the Jackson family. Her everyday handwriting? It’s better than your doctor’s signature. *** When Levitin is in the calligraphy zone, her studio is silent. Her door is closed. She can’t lose her rhythm. Her tools: textured, acid-free 100-percent rag paper, two to three sheets per job. At least two or three different calligraphy pens. Black Sumi ink — the world’s blackest. She lays it out on graph paper. Once the spacing is right, she can begin. She takes a couple of deep breaths, and prays to her calligraphy gods. Go. The first line is the hardest. Her hand still shakes. Word by word. Line by line. By the time she’s finished, her shoulders are tight. Her back aches. Levitin, who stands 5-feet-10-inches, may have spent hours hunched over her light table with no bathroom break. And if she messes up? Levitin is a perfectionist. She will redo for just one stray flick of ink or oddly slanted letter. Even if she’s reached the final word. She has learned to take it in stride. Deep breath. OK. That was a good sample, she tells herself. The last line is just as hard as the first. OH Tina Firesheets, a freelance writer living in Jamestown, gave up the glamorous working life for toddler temper tantrums and endless demands to see Elmo. April 2013

O.Henry 35

Greensboro builders AssociAtion


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36 O.Henry

April 2013

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Gate City Icon

Savor the Flavor

For sixty-six years this remarkably adaptable company has put the flavor in thousands of beloved consumer products Murphy’s Suzanne Johnson once developed gin-flavored thoothpaste. “Why?” she wondered

By Maria Johnson

Once in a while, the smells of

Photograph by Sam Froelich

vanilla, honey and brown sugar wafting from Mother Murphy’s in south Greensboro grab passers-by who stop at the front office, looking for the baked goods they imagine behind the luscious scents. Alas, their gratification is delayed. Mother Murphy’s Laboratories Inc. doesn’t sell treats from the oven. Rather, the 66-year-old Greensboro business sells flavorings to companies that do. You’ll find Mother Murphy’s flavorings in major brands of snack cakes, doughnuts, muffins, cookies, biscuits and pizza doughs. Their flavorings also enhance candies, cereals, cough drops, yogurt, ice cream, soft drinks, flavored liquors, cigarettes, pharmaceuticals, nutritional supplements, pet foods and animal lures. That’s right. Flavorings for catfish bait and deer feed. “When I came to work here, I said, ‘Oh, we’re in this? We’re in this, too?’” says vice president Robin Conner. “If you knew everything Mother Murphy’s was in, you wouldn’t believe it.” Save your disbelief because you’re not going to know all of the brands. Many of Mother Murphy’s clients guard their recipes — and the source of their flavorings — but company president David Murphy is willing to share the identities of a few customers past and present. Little Debbie, the snack cake company, bakes with Mother Murphy’s The Art & Soul of Greensboro

flavorings. So does Dewey’s Bakery in Winston-Salem and Cheesecakes by Alex in Greensboro. Fast food behemoth McDonald’s uses Mother Murphy’s flavorings in some of its drinks. Before Hostess went belly up, there was a little bit of Greensboro in every Twinkie and Ho-Ho. Mother Murphy’s also provides flavorings to High Point-based Hunter Farms, which makes ice cream and dairy products for Harris Teeter grocery stores. “We’re probably in two-thirds of the grocery aisles,” says David Murphy, whose father developed a taste for the business in the 1940s. Kermit Murphy was selling insurance for Jefferson Standard Life when he discovered that Greensboro physician Richard Stelling, who examined potential policy-holders, had put himself through college by making and selling food flavorings. Stelling still tinkered with flavors in his basement. Soon, he and Murphy formed a company, Southern Laboratories, which sold fruit-flavored bases for fountain-style drinks. The dough started rolling in when they added bakery flavorings. In the 1950s, Kermit’s brother Pete joined the business, and the company changed its name to Mother Murphy’s. Their logo featured a bespectacled old lady. There was no granny in the lab, but company officials thought the maternal name sounded more inviting. The old lady logo is no longer used in marketing, but it remains on the side of the building at South Elm-Eugene Street and Interstate 40/85, the epicenter of Mother Murphy’s production, research and development. The company also occupies a building on nearby Dougherty Street and operates a bakery lab in Texas, where a master baker turns up the heat on flavorings. Including sales people around the country, Mother Murphy’s April 2013

O.Henry 37

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April 2013

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employs about one hundred, most of them in Greensboro. Half have logged more than twenty years with the company. “Dad said, ‘Treat your customers like friends and your employees like family,’” says David Murphy. “We’ve got some world-class people.” The Greensboro staff includes four certified flavor chemists who lead efforts to develop new tastes. There might be a quaint granny on the sign out front, but the white coats inside mean business. Want your company’s product to taste like another company’s product? Mother Murphy’s chemists can — with the help of mass spectrometry — analyze and most likely duplicate the flavor. They work with a palette that includes florals, nuts, cheeses, butters, grains, fruits, sugars, chocolates, coffees and the king of flavors — vanilla. “We make one of the best vanillas in the industry,” says David Murphy, citing a coldextraction technique used with vanilla beans. So central is vanilla extract to Mother Murphy’s success that botanical prints of the Madagascar vanilla orchid decorate some of the wood-paneled offices in the 1960s-era headquarters. Recently, the company has taken advantage of the public’s thirst for flavored liquors — think of granny the next time you’re sipping honeysuckle-flavored vodka — as well as the hunger for healthier sweets. For example, Mother Murphy’s scientists have devised ways to mask the bitterness of the no-calorie sweetener stevia. Among the more unusual flavors that Mother Murphy’s has cooked up: dirt, pencil shavings and baby wipes for a line of Harry Potter-inspired jelly beans. “They really tasted like baby wipes — or like baby wipes smell,” says David Murphy. Every year, he says, his company ships more than nine million pounds of liquid and powdered flavorings, putting the enterprise in the middle-tier of flavoring businesses, those with annual sales of between five and one hundred million. The smell of success? That would be whatever scent clings to David Murphy’s clothes when he leaves the office. People can only sniff and wonder. “You’re sitting at the bank, and they say, ‘Who’s been eating doughnuts?’” Murphy says. Q&A with Suzanne Johnson, senior flavor chemist at Mother Murphy’s, who specializes in bakery, dairy and candy flavors. O.Henry: What does a flavor scientist do? Suzanne Johnson: We try to take the chemicals that are naturally in a food and put those together in a concentrated form so they give the taste we’re trying to create. If you’re eating an apple, for example, it’s going have a certain amount of water, a certain The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Gate City Icon amount of sugar, a certain amount of acid, but the apple also has created a lot of esters and aldehydes and aroma chemicals that make it taste like an apple. Our job is to know what those are and put them together in the right proportions. O.H.: It sounds like a lot of chemistry. S.J.: It is. But to me, it’s almost fifty-fifty creativity and chemistry. Two different chemists could make an apple flavor, and the average person would say, ‘Oh yeah, they’re both apple,’ but they’d be slightly different. That’s where the creativity comes in. You want it to be hard to duplicate. So you might put some essential oil in there at a low level to give it just a nuance. O.H.: So you have to have a discerning nose — or is it palate? S.J.: Both, but nose more predominantly because most of your taste is smell. People think you have taste buds only in your mouth, but you also have retro-nasal tasting. When something is in your mouth, it’s also going up into your nose. That’s why when you have a cold, you can’t really taste things. O.H.: Do most flavor chemists have a chemistry background? S.J.: Yes. I have a major in biology and a minor in chemistry. You have to have a background in sciences and decent math skills. From there, it’s on-the-job training. You have to train with a flavor chemist for five years, then pass a written and an oral test. If you pass those tests and have the recommendation of your

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

mentor, you’re called a junior flavorist by the Society of Flavor Chemistry. O.H.: Are you a flavor snob? Would you taste a cookie or a coffee and go, “Blech!” or “That���s really good!” S.J.: Yeah, I’ll often say, “Wow, kudos to whoever did that one.” And one thing I don’t compromise — I always buy good vanillas. Yeah, it matters to me. O.H.: Why do some of your customers want to keep their flavors secret? S.J.: I’ll put it this way: What distinguishes one product from another is not always anything major. For baked products, they’re using flour and butter or shortening or whatever, and a lot of times the thing that gives them their distinctive taste is the flavor, so that’s the thing they really don’t want anyone else to get. They want it custom-made for them, so (for example) we have thousands of vanillas. To the average person it would all seem like vanilla, but they’re all different, and they may perform differently in the product. It’s all trade secrets. You don’t patent flavors because once you patent a flavor, then you have to publish it. O.H.: What’s the most unusual flavor you’ve ever worked on? S.J.: Back in the ’80s, we did a line of alcohol flavors for toothpaste. I thought, “Who wants to have gin-flavored toothpaste? Why would you want people to think you’d been drinking?” They didn’t buy much. Big surprise. OH

April 2013

O.Henry 39


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40 O.Henry

April 2013

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

The Sporting Life

Life, Death and Rebirth at Slim’s Spring cometh again with daffodils by the shed

By Tom Bryant

It was time. After three solid days of rain, along with the damp cold that seeps into the bones, I was going cabin crazy. I had to do something. Writing was no good. The muse left when the bad weather came. I would sit up in the roost, the little garage apartment where I do my creative stuff, and just stare out the window at the miserable, soggy, frigid weather. I would have loved to see the rain just a month earlier, at the height of duck season. Now it was worthless. Insult added to injury as I was still getting over the upper respiratory crud that had afflicted so many across the country. Point of fact, as another sneezing fit racked my miserable bones, I hated February and was looking forward to spring. There was only one thing to do and that was ride up to Slim’s old country store and see if any of the regulars were about. Slim was no longer with us, going the way of several of my friends in the past couple of years. As I backed the Bronco out of the garage, I thought how every passing day emphasizes our mortality. Too many friends have died recently. I went in the house to tell Linda where I was going. I think she was a little relieved to see that finally I had something to do. I’m afraid my restlessness had affected her mood. “You be careful,” she said. “Why are you driving the Bronco? You know it leaks. Take the Cruiser. It’s safer.” “Nah,” I replied. “The Bronco needs to get out, too. We’re both about to go bonkers.” “I believe it, especially when you start talking about that truck like it’s alive. Tell Bubba I said hey, and you get home in time for supper. Don’t The Art & Soul of Greensboro

forget your phone.” Bubba and I have been friends forever, it seems. Fortunately for the regulars who frequent Slim’s old store, Bubba bought the place after Slim died. To keep it open, he hired Leroy, Slim’s cousin, to run it for him. We would still have a place to go, as Bubba so eloquently put it, where the idiot television box couldn’t intrude. Bubba hates TV and cell phones. He claims that the latest craze, the smart phone, is an oxymoron. When you’re at Slim’s Country Store, you leave that cell phone in your vehicle. If you don’t and it rings, he will banish you from the place. There is a story about Bubba that I know to be true. One early spring day when the newly nesting birds were singing and bream were beginning to bed, Bubba and a friend of his, who was also his investment counselor, were in a small boat fishing at the pond at the Alamance Wildlife Club. The friend’s cell phone rang. Now the phone was in a jacket on the middle seat of the boat. Bubba picked up the jacket, retrieved the phone, and tossed the still ringing instrument into the lake. He didn’t say a word, just kept fishing as his friend, the stockbroker, sat in the boat wide-eyed. The ride up to the ancient store was uneventful with the exception of my having to constantly wipe the inside of the front windscreen where rivulets of rainwater seeped. I should have listened to Linda, I thought as I was nearing Slim’s place. The old Bronco has become a fair weather vehicle. “Happens to all of us,” I said aloud, not wanting to hurt the old vehicle’s feelings. “Man, I’ve got to get around people more. I’m talking to things.” I pulled into the gravel parking lot at Slim’s, dodged mud puddles, and came to a soggy halt. I dragged an old canvas tarp out of the back of the truck and draped it over the top just as Bubba came out on the porch and hollered through the wind-driven rain at me. “Get on in here out o’ the rain, boy. You look like a drowned muskrat.” “Yeah,” I replied. “I feel like one too. Linda’s gonna kill me if I have a relapse with this crud. How you doing, Bubba?” “I’m doing a lot better than you, it looks like. Come on in by the stove. Leroy just put in a fresh load of hickory.” The potbelly stove sat catty-corner in the store and was glowing red from Leroy’s latest load of aged firewood. Four slat-back straight chairs were in a semiApril 2013

O.Henry 41


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April 2013 to find out More inforMation. The Art & Soul of Greensboro

The Sporting Life circle around the blazing fire. I was surprised to see that I was the only one in the place. Even Leroy seemed to be missing. “Where is everybody?” “Leroy had to run home for a while, so I told him I’d look out for things while he’s gone. The rest of the crowd kinda drifts in and out. Get some coffee.” I poured myself a mug and sat down by the fire. Bubba moved one of the chairs and dragged over his favorite rocker. “You look kinda beat, boy,” he said as he took a sip of his coffee. “Things been rough down your way?” “Not too good, Bubba, what with all the sickness and people up and dying on us. You heard about Blue, I guess?” Cliff Blue, a longtime friend, had recently passed away, suffering from heart disease. “That was a shocker,” Bubba replied. “But you know, really it wasn’t. We’re getting old Tom. I read that Clifton was 72, no spring chicken just like the rest of us.” “You’re right, but it’s still not easy to accept. You sorta wonder where the time went.” We sat silently for a bit, watching the fire as it flickered through the glass on the door of the stove. Bubba got up and went to the drink box behind the counter. He came back with a flask. “Hold out your cup, Buddy Roe.” He poured in a big shot of an amber liquid. “This brandy will warm you up and make you feel better. Come on back here. I want to show you something.” We walked to the back of the store. “Look out there.” Bubba pointed, and through the plate glass window at the back of the old place, I saw a clump of blooming daffodils. They were in the lee of the wind right next to the shed where Slim had kept his 1940 John Deere tractor. “Aren’t they pretty?” Bubba asked. “I watched Slim plant those things — just a few — when he put them in the ground, but they come back more and more every year. Every time I’m at the store, I come back here to see if they’re still blooming. If you think about it, everything is relative. Those flowers are here just a little bit, but they sure are beautiful while they’re blooming. Then you turn around and they’re gone. But you know they’ll be back next year, bigger and better. Could be we’re a lot like those flowers — here today, gone in a little while, only to come back even better than before.” I looked at the little clump of flowers as Bubba headed back to the fire. I felt better. It could have been Bubba’s homespun philosophy that helped or more likely the dollop of brown whiskey he poured into my coffee cup. Whatever, I’ll take it. OH Tom Bryant, who graduated from Elon and lived in Alamance County for decades, is a lifelong outdoorsman and O.Henry’s Sporting Life columnist.

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

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O.Henry 43


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April 2013

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Life of Jane

Watching Over Roger Wildlife comes and goes, even in a small rural plot

By Jane Borden

Comparing our

Illustration by Meridith Martens

individual personalities to the general behavior of cats and dogs is an American pastime. Or Western, I suppose. Surely humans have always played the game of “Which Domesticated Animal Are You?” Today, someone in Ohio may postulate, “Carrie is a hugger; she’s a dog. But you must give David time to warm up — what a cat.” In 1521, a member of the Incan empire might have opined, “Chic’ya would jump in your hands to be cooked and eaten; she’s trusting like a guinea pig. But Inti Cusi Huallpa, he is more a llama: Consider how much weight he carries without going bald!” When given only feline and canine options, my animalization is clearly dog. I’m eager to please and regularly knock vases off tables when excited. While on a mission, I’m blissfully unaware of anything else. This was a boon while living in New York City, where minimizing focus on the majority of one’s surroundings, such as piles of trash bags and packs of rats, is a psychological-survival necessity. But my current home in the woods of Tennessee is coy. Participation requires keen, patient and catlike awareness. I’ve adapted. For example, I regularly sit stock still by our glass door waiting for Roger, the chipmunk in our backyard, to forget that I am not a piece of furniture and resume his business. Roger either lives or stores nuts in the woodpile by our back stairs. Sometimes he scampers across the patio with cheeks bulging. Sometimes he perches on hind legs, snacking with front paws. I believe the scientific term is adorable. I keep a spare pair of Roger-Watching Glasses hanging by the door, as to always be prepared. (I should say that, although I get close, I’m not that close, i.e., he may be a she.) We also come across stick-bugs, which are insects that, you may have guessed, look remarkably like sticks. I discovered them when a twig would not be brushed off my bike. Leaning down, I saw its tiny legs holding on. Hell of a camouflage, I thought, and vowed to be more like the stick-bug, lest Roger find me out and warn his friends about furniture-people. I gingerly removed the insect and placed it on the ground, hoping to disturb its plan as little as possible. The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Generally, I subscribe to an isolationist approach. A tiny oak tree is currently growing inside one of our potted plants. But, once, I deviated. On a sunny morning, after removing my bicycle cover, I discovered minuscule wood shavings covering the vehicle, and traced them to a thumbsized hole newly bored into the wooden partition separating our small backyard from the abutting townhouse’s. I peered inside, heard a buzzing, and jumped back before the holesized bee climbed out and flew away. Suddenly seeing an image of me, a few mornings later, pulling up the bike tarp and meeting a swarm of adolescent stingers, I procured a piece of duct tape, ensured the nest was still vacant and covered the hole. Several times through the day, I saw the frantic insect flying the length of the wall, seeking the hole, trying again and again to get in. How could I have been sure she hadn’t laid her eggs yet? I wondered if intervention had been warranted, if I shouldn’t have found a new station for my bike instead. After all, I am bee-like, laboring to make a home in these strange and inhospitable woods. A year after we began our rural adventure, new neighbors moved in next door, and I found a different and even more alien creature on the other side of the glass door: a small white and spotted terrier. Cookie’s extendable leash allows her to wander deep into the trees directly behind her owners’ yard, or to cut back at the edge of the wooden partition and explore the entirety of our small, carefully uncultivated plot. She sticks her nose in holes or under leaves, barks wantonly, and urinates where she pleases. After a few weeks, I gingerly suggested that Cookie might be deterred from our patio area and our neighbor replied, “Oh, isn’t it funny how she loves it? I think there’s a chipmunk or something in the woodpile because I can’t keep her away!”  “Yes,” I said. “There is,” I said. That’s Roger, I thought to myself. Leave him alone, I thought, realizing it had been days since we’d spied him hopping about, even though it was still quite warm outside. I wandered around the dozen or so square feet behind our townhouse and didn’t see much of anything, in fact. It appears that, under Cookie’s haphazard policing, our backyard has become a monoculture of fauna, a society of Cookie. It’s very human of her. OH Jane Borden is a native of Greensboro and the author of the highlyacclaimed memoir, I Totally Meant To Do That.

April 2013

O.Henry 45

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April 2013

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

April 2013 What if Emily Dickinson was wrong . . .

“Hope is the thing with feathers” — E.D.

“It is difficult/to get the news from poems/ yet men die miserably every day/ for lack/ of what is found there.” – W.C.Williams

What if Emily Dickinson was wrong . . .

and there were no feathers — only accidental hollows holding hope interrupted, hidden debris of bare wings, a bruised insufficiency?

Emily would have a lot to answer for in that case, except poetry’s sufficiency elides that whole answer (dare I say hoped-for?) imperative

preferring, instead, to plume itself sometimes in the hard raptures of reasonless flight, the airy real estate of both poet and metaphor

that gives ground to the unsayable.

— Connie Ralston

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

April 2013

O.Henry 47

Anne of a Thousand Days

By Jim Schlosser


alk about a fish out of water, that’s Reid Stowe. He, his girlfriend, Soanya Ahnad, and their 4 1/2-year-old son, Darshen, find themselves landlocked on Montpelier Drive in Greensboro, two hundred miles from
Stowe’s schooner, Anne, which is docked in downtown Wilmington. Stowe was born to be at sea, far at sea, and in solitude. He holds the world’s record for most consecutive days spent at sea without resupplying, touching any ports, or seeing land — 1,152 days aboard Anne, the 70-foot, two-masted vessel he built with help from his father and friends from 1976–78 at Ocean Isle Beach on North Carolina’s coast. In the early 1990s while guiding the Anne in Antarctica waters, he decided he would eventually stretch his trip into a thousand-day journey to break the 657-day record of sailing without coming within sight of land. It then took him fifteen years of seeking sponsors to equip the Anne with enough essentials to last at least four years. He sought donations through a web site,, which remains active with Reid’s and Ahnad’s latest exploits. While he sought support, he made a few dollars in New York City taking people on charter boat rides and selling his artwork. In 2005 while preparing to set off on his thousand-day voyage, he met Ahnad, a native of Guyana about to graduate in photography from the City College of New York. She loved roaming the piers of New York’s waterfront taking photos. Spotting Stowe, she asked to take pictures of his boat. When she kept returning for more shots, he asked her if she wanted to go sailing.


April 2013

Little by little she got hooked on the sport and began taking courses on sailing techniques at a community college, eventually earning an associate degree in maritime technology. Eventually, a person who was supposed to accompany Reid on his voyage dropped out. Ahnad volunteered to substitute. She moved aboard the Anne. Within a week she and Reid were “a couple.” He was 55, she 23. Her parents were outraged. “Yeah, I can do it,” she remembers telling herself about the challenge ahead. “I didn’t have any obligations.” At last, on April 16, 2007, Stowe and Ahnad set out from Hoboken, New Jersey. About fourteen days later, far off the New Jersey coast, the Anne collided with a container ship. The Anne’s bowsprit, essential for navigation, was heavily damaged. Stowe managed to make repairs without returning to land, but his jerry-rigging wasn’t a match for the original bowsprit. Essentially, he says, he was forced to make the rest of the voyage in a disabled boat. Ahnad remained with Stowe for 306 days until she became ill and had to be evacuated by helicopter off the Australian coast. The ailment turned out to be morning sickness. She was pregnant with Darshen. Still, she was aboard long enough to set the record for sailing longer than any other woman without seeing land. Stowe sailed on alone for two more years. After meeting his 1,000-day goal on January 16, 2010, he was far from home and faced bad weather. It took him another 152 days to reach New York. He says if not for family obligations, he would have remained at sea longer. He liked it that much. When he finally returned home, June 17, 2010, The New York Times, The The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Photograph by Sam Froelich

The man who set the world record for consecutive days at sea without seeing land is a family man at home — for now

Photographs from Reid Stowe

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

April 2013

O.Henry 49

New York Post, the New York Daily News, the Associated Press and Reuters greeted him at Pier 81 in Manhattan. Reporters from Germany and France flew in for the occasion. He looked up at the crowd and saw Ahnad and, for the first time, his son, Darshen. Reid’s parents, Harry and Anne Stowe of Greensboro, stood cheering. The schooner is named for Anne Stowe. The Post’s headline summed up the occasion nicely: “Land ho, baby.” New York magazine did a feature story on Reid. The New Yorker mentioned it. The Associated Press wired stories to newspapers across the nation. Since then there’s been little publicity. “A French reporter told me that if I were a Frenchman I’d be a national hero with a ticker tape parade in my honor,” says Stowe, now 61, standing in his father’s house surrounded by canvases painted during the voyage. Fifteen of his paintings are on display at The George on the Riverwalk, a restaurant in Wilmington, not far from where Anne is docked.


ennis Chamberland, an aquanaut who’s worked on fourteen seafloor missions as mission commander of the Atlantica Undersea Colony, proclaimed, “One thousand years from now, Reid Stowe’s record will still probably remain unbroken.” Reid agrees, declaring, “No one has the practical experience to accomplish what we accomplished.” Carter Craft, a Greensboro native who now lives in Hoboken, is a long-time friend of Stowe’s and was present for his April, 2007, launch. “He had back-ups to the back-up systems,” Carter said, amazed at Stowe’s preparations. Stowe and Ahnad will be landlubbers for some time. His mother died last August, leaving her husband of 60 years alone in the house they had shared for thirty-eight years ever since Col. Harry Stowe’s retirement from the Air Force. Reid says his 83-year-old father’s health is good, but he has become more forgetful lately. Stowe says he felt obligated to move to Greensboro to care for him rather than move him to a rest home. “It is a very big adjustment for us,” he says. “It is nice to be in the family home with Dad, but being on land after a life of adventure at sea, we still feel a little bit out of our element.” Other than the Anne, if any place comes close to being Reid Stowe’s home, it’s the house on Montpelier. He was already grown and sailing the seas when his North Carolina-born parents moved there. Between adven-

50 O.Henry

April 2013

tures he would drop in for visits, once staying six months while teaching yoga. His quests date back to the 1970s, when he set the record for the smallest boat to cross the Atlantic — twice — a 28-foot catamaran. In the early 1990s, he did a 194-day expedition on the Anne to Antarctica. Born in Washington state, his traveling days started early as the family moved from post to post throughout the nation and overseas while his dad was in the Air Force. Reid Stowe’s maternal grandparents, however, had a place at Ocean Isle Beach, where he fell in love with things oceanic. With help from his father and others, that’s where Stowe built his record-setters, the catamaran and the Anne. Today, except for trips to Wilmington every two or three weeks, about the only water Stowe sees larger than a bathtub-full is when he, Ahnad and Darshen walk with his father a few blocks to Lake Hamilton, the centerpiece of the Hamilton Lakes neighborhood. Thinking of her time at sea, Soanya Ahnad says she was never bored and only became frightened when the boat hit the container ship and she watched as the sail was blown to tatters. “But there are different levels of scared,” she says. “Most of the time you knew you would get through it.” That’s because of her faith in the ship’s captain: “I knew he knew every inch of that boat. Everything was well within his capabilities.” They frequently saw whales and dolphins. The flying fish that landed on the boat became lunch and dinner. They watched albatrosses, a solitary bird, who like Stowe, prefers to be far out in the ocean. A GPS tracking system monitored the Anne’s movements. The only link he and Ahnad had to the outside world was a satellite phone over which they sent and received emails. People throughout the nation monitored the voyage through their web site. Ahnad keeps the web site supplied with photos from the boat and now from land. Even though she had to leave the Anne, make no mistake, says Stowe, “She was an integral part of this voyage.” They want to include their story in a book Stowe is writing. Surprisingly, publishers he’s approached so far have shown no interest. One editor put it bluntly: He didn’t like Stowe and predicted readers wouldn’t either. The editor was angry Stowe didn’t terminate the voyage once he learned Ahnad was pregnant. The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Photograph by Sam Froelich

“I started getting hate mail from people because I wasn’t taking on my fatherly responsibilities,” Stowe says. Ahnad defends Reid’s decision not to end the voyage. “The baby was not old enough to know his daddy. It was a good time for him to be away.” Reid points out that when he was born, his father was serving in Korea. Stowe doesn’t remember anything about his absence. Alone, Stowe stayed busy with the chores on the boat, the hardest task being repairing torn sails. The boat once capsized in a storm, knocking Stowe out cold. Water rushing inside the cabin revived him. The heavy ballast boat righted itself, repairs were made and Stowe kept going. On day 658, Stowe broke the record of days at sea without sight of land. When he reached the 1,000 days target in January of 2010, he says he was too busy to get emotional. Besides, he felt he was slipping into a state of timelessness. Stowe says he had been depressed after Ahnad’s departure, knowing he faced two years of sailing alone. But by the last year of the voyage, Stowe says, “I entered into a state of grace.” He prayed and eventually “I felt that now I was being shown the way and that I was being looked after.” This state of grace “took away any fears,” he says, “and gave me confidence I was going to make it.” Once back in New York, Stowe basked in the excitement and publicity. But negative thoughts, which had been absent during the voyage, returned. He realized he had two people to support. Their only home was the Anne. Where will his next buck come from, he asked himself. The Art & Soul of Greensboro

“I entered into a very different state of mind than when I was at sea,” he says. “Right now we are in a temporary state without security for the future.” Stowe plans to persist with his book. And he would love to see a movie made of the adventure. He has always had a knack of getting things by boldly asking for them. Scores of contributors reacted to his emails for donations before and during the voyage. His boat was allowed to dock free in New York while he raised money and materials. It now has free dockage at The George in Wilmington. The owner thought it would be good for business to have a history-making boat out front. Stowe has been married before. From a previous marriage, he has a 34-year-old daughter, a lawyer in California. Now the question in the minds of people who know Stowe and Ahnad: Will they ever tie a knot other than one on a boat? “We do intend to get married,” Stowe says, “but we haven’t set a date or know how we are going to do it.” He says Ahnad loves sailing “and the day will come when we go back to sea, though not trying anything like we did before.” In other words, he plans to play it safer and not let his sailing obsession ruin another relationship. One of his former wives has been quoted as saying, “I love Reid, but he is a fish and I am not.” OH Jim Schlosser is a regular contributing editor of O.Henry magazine. April 2013

O.Henry 51


April 2013

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Scallion Fiction by Fred Chappell • Illustration by Harry Blair


have been reading a magazine,” Mary Ellen said. “Huh-oh,” her father said. “That’s interesting,” said her mother. “What was it about?” “Food. The article said we are not eating a proper diet. Too many hamburgers. Not enough lettuce and broccoli and all kinds of greens.” “Your father likes hamburgers.” “My name is Eric Ackerman, not Benjamin Bunny,” he said. “I need to keep up my strength to carry books. You’d be surprised how heavy a box of books can be and we sell a lot of them at Barnes & Noble.” “The article said that spinach makes us strong,” Mary Ellen said. “You must have been reading Popeye Magazine,” her father said. He flexed his biceps to illustrate, but he was wearing a dingy T-shirt and the overhead light of the dinky, small kitchen did not flatter his physique. “It was called Smart Health. Don’t you want to be healthy?” “Yes — as long as I can do smart health on hamburgers.” “We could have spinach burgers. I’ll look for a recipe.” “Oh Lord. Is this another of your missions? A dietary missionary project? Are we going to suffer long debates and wind up eating horrible-tasting food?” “I wouldn’t know how to cook spinach burgers,” her mother said. “Do you fry them like the regular ones or broil or sauté?” “I don’t know yet,” Mary Ellen said. “I will have to read some more.” “How is your schoolwork? Will you make all A’s again?” she asked. “I don’t like Language Skills. Language Skills is dumb. ‘As white as snow.’ By the end of the day, snow is dirty and sloppy. It should be, ‘As white as the white of a boiled egg.’” “It should be Language Skills are dumb,” Mr. Ackerman said. “That would be the correct grammar.” “Grammar are dumb too,” Mary Ellen said. “And I expect kale would be better. A nice, thick, juicy kale burger. It makes my mouth water just to think about it.” “It makes my eyes water,” he said. “If I have to eat kale burgers, I will weep like . . . like a . . . what would they say in your Language Skills class that I would weep like?” “They don’t say weep. You would cry. Like a baby. That’s what Language Skills makes you say. Anyhow, you would like burgers made of good kale and not the supermarket kind. We could grow our own.” “What Language Skills make you say. Grammar is important.” “Not to me. I made all A’s, you know.” “Yes, I know,” her father said. “Your mother and I are very proud.” But his tone sounded dismal, like that of a meek youngster sentenced to Sunday school for a decade without parole.


ary Ellen had a propensity to attach to personal ambitions without being able to formulate clear reasons, even to herself. She was sketching an unclear scheme to become a vegetarian, although she was not passionate to eat veggies, especially carrots, which in her eyes were of a color a little vulgar, too much like school buses. And carrot-orange did not fit well with her red hair. When she pictured herself with a carrot protruding from her mouth, she looked like one of those dreadful plastic jack-o’-lanterns that got remaindered after Halloween. The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Eggplant was enrobed in a lovely, dark, smooth purple, but when you peeled it, the flesh was the same color as apples, onions, and light bread. Disappointing. Other vegetables had important drawbacks too. She probably had thought of becoming a vegetarian because she liked the sound of the word. Anybody could be a writer or a shortstop or a preacher, but it required five nimble syllables to enunciate the title, Vegetarian. You gained importance when you yoked yourself to the term. If she had ever heard the word utilitarian, she might have kissed vegetables goodbye. “I used to be a vegetarian,” she would tell her utilitarian buddies, “but I grew out of that.” For a 14-year-old, Mary Ellen was worldly-wise. When she got a little older, she would have a horse. That particular happiness was written in the stars, she told her schoolmates. Now that she was a vegetarian, she would name the horse Scallion and not Lost Vegas. He would be a vegetarian too. But where was she going to situate her kale garden? The grounds of the housing project called Diaper Hill by nonresidents were covered with scraggy grass that revealed patches of red clay like scabs on knees and elbows. Even if she tried to dig in that earth as hard as terra cotta, it would never yield produce. And if it did, people would steal it or yank it up for sport. Her friend Merla claimed an uncle who owned a farm. He might let her have a little spot to plant, but she would have no way to travel to it. Too bad. Merla’s Uncle Haskin could teach her how to farm her plot of kale. Mary Ellen wasn’t certain how to begin the task. She would need implements. A hoe and a watering can and bib overalls and a straw hat to shade her eyes and a red bandanna to pull from her back pocket and wipe her forehead. And fertilizer. Plants must be fed, she knew. When she acquired her stallion Scallion she would have lots of fertilizer, but that would be years from now. She had been saving up five-dollar bills in a big envelope marked Lost Vegas, but she had amassed only thirty dollars. “A thousand years,” she said. “It will take ten thousand years.” Yet even when she was discouraged, she never gave up. Every problem has a solution. The trouble now was that there was a bunch of problems tangled together in a tight knot. Money was the most difficult of the lot, so she started working on that aspect and developed a plan.


er mother owned three cookbooks that she kept stacked on the Formica counter beside the sink drain board. They were a shabby trio with spavined spines, pages soiled with sauces and wrinkled with water stains, pages missing. One was a Rombauer Joy of Cooking purchased at a yard sale. Certain pages of desserts had been ripped out. A collection of health-food recipes called Mother Earth Loves You sported covers painted over with Day-Glo pink and green. “A hippy heap of horse manure,” her father described it, not saying manure. The third volume was titled Fine Wine Cuisine. It looked like it had never been opened. Mary Ellen paged through the first two books inattentively, having decided beforehand to concentrate on the recipes that were to accompany beatific bordeaux and marvelous margaux. She was determined that her cooking had to be different from her mother’s. Her mother could never conceive of inventing the kale burger, of keeping secret the ingredients that would make it so wonderfully April 2013

O.Henry 53

savory, and then selling the recipe to restaurant owners for barrels of money. Mary Ellen only needed one sale to start with and soon afterward word would get around. “Kale burger sweeps the nation”— the newspaper headline read, as it emerged in her mind. She envisioned the accompanying sidebar in which a famous movie star revealed her favorite version of the kale burger. As she read the cookbooks, she made a list of the elements she must procure. Kale, of course, was paramount. And bread. She decided it ought to be some sort of cornbread hamburger bun — for the rustic touch. A number of families in the project ate black-eyed peas and collards. She could boil up some peas or get them in a can and mash them up and mix them with her kale and make a patty. Kale was green, as were collards, so she figured they would taste pretty much the same. On hamburgers we smear mustard and squirt ketchup, but these did not seem to go with kale. The colors were wrong and she couldn’t taste the combinations in her mind. There were no recipes for kale in Fine Wine Cuisine, but she found a spinach salad that called for vinaigrette classique. She did not know what a vinaigrette was. For that matter, she did not know what cuisine meant. But she was content to go forward on the strength of faith alone. The ingredients for the vinaigrette dressing were two different vinegars, “fine sea salt to taste,” and a cup of expensive olive oil. “Extra virgin” must mean costly. She would make do with cider vinegar, Mazola corn oil, and Morton’s iodized salt. I have to start somewhere, she thought. Nobody will be able to tell the difference. All the main dishes in the book were cooked with wines: medoc, beaujolais, cabernet franc, and other unpronounceables. There was no wine in the apartment. Her father often kept a few cans of what he called PBR in the cramped refrigerator. Wine and beer must be about the same, Mary Ellen deduced, because people drank both to get drunk. She would use PBR, if she could figure out how to snitch one. Now she was ready to prepare to begin to get ready.


ary Ellen was deeply sorrowed to remove a five-dollar bill from the envelope marked Lost Vegas. Five dollars represented the savings of a whole week. But if she didn’t obtain ingredients, she could not experiment with them and her famous secret recipe would never come into existence. In the little grocery store across the broad street from Drummond Heights — as a sign bewildered with graffiti named her neighborhood — she found no kale. She knew the storekeeper, a thin, gloomy, unhurried man everyone but Mary Ellen called Jacklight. She called him Mr. Ponder because he took so long to think when you asked him a question. The store was small, dimly lit, and the shelves were sparsely stocked. When you asked for condensed milk or orange juice, he ambled to the correct space and handed it to you only after you had paid for it. Even then he seemed reluctant to let it go. “Kale?” he said. His voice was light and whispery. “The Joyful Sunrise Grocery Emporium cannot afford to stock fresh greens. They do not last long on the shelf and nobody likes fresh greens. They like meat. They like hamburger meat.” “I am a vegetarian,” Mary Ellen said. Mr. Ponder blinked and began to examine Mary Ellen as if he thought her flying saucer had carelessly departed without her. “No kale,” he said. “No greens fresh.” “What else have you got that I might be able to use?” A ponderous silence ensued. “Well, maybe,” he said at last. “Come over here.” She followed him into the third of the four aisles and he knelt and retrieved a can from a bottom shelf. As he stood, he brushed dust from the top of the can with the elbow of his sweatshirt. “Spinach,” he said. “Is it like kale?” “Not much.” The front door opened and a man with pointed tufts of hair on his head called out. “Hey, Jacklight, did my special order come in?” Mr. Ponder regarded him with mild interest. “No.”


April 2013

“I’ll try again later.” The tufty man left. “What is his special order?” Mary Ellen asked. “He thinks I sell dope,” Mr. Ponder said. “Everybody thinks so.” “Well . . .” It took a while before he said, “Grass.” “You sell marijuana?” “If you took this can of spinach and drained it real good and found you a patch of fresh green grass in somebody’s yard and cut you some and chopped it up real fine and mixed it with the spinach, it might taste something like kale. A little bit.” “Are you sure it would work?” His eyes upon her upturned face were pensive. “I am sure of nothing. This world is no place to be sure about anything.” His sad tone saddened Mary Ellen. “Can you keep a secret?” she asked. “Most of the time. Have you committed a criminal act?” “I am trying to invent a kale burger,” she said. “I want to keep the recipe a secret so I can sell it to make money to buy Scallion.” “Scallions don’t cost a whole lot. I can get you some for free.” “Scallion is the name of the horse. When I get him.” An age passed. “If you’re going to try to shape a hamburger patty, you’ll need something besides greens or it won’t hold together.” “I thought about black-eyed peas. All mushed up. Salt and pepper. On a cornbread bun.” “You better stick to regular buns. I can tell you never made cornbread.” “How?” “The way you talk, words you say. But I have lots of cans of black-eyed peas. That is a mover. Most of the brands have hog fat in them. You don’t want that.” “What words?” “Vegetarian. People that make cornbread don’t say vegetarian. But you could use corn meal to kind of help paste it together.” “How much do black-eyed peas cost?” “If you’ll take that can of spinach off my hands, I’ll give you a deal on a can of peas.” “How long has the spinach been here?” “Since before you were born.” “Are you sure it’s still good?” She regretted her question immediately. The universe took another leisurely turn before he said, “I am sure of nothing.” “Thank you very much.” She paid, ruefully, and left.


ext morning, after her father had gone to his work at Barnes & Noble, the labor he described as “toting Pattersons,” Mary Ellen shooed her mother out of the kitchen, announcing that she was on the verge of a cookery breakthrough. She couldn’t allow anyone looking over her shoulder, she explained, because that would make her nervous and might cause a misstep. “All right,” her mother said. “Genius at work. I won’t get in your way.” So Mary Ellen went to the closet of her tiny bedroom, took up the cardboard box of ingredients, and lugged it to the kitchen. Before she opened it, she crossed to the vertical row of shelves that served as a pantry and took down an apron hanging there from a hook. It was the “Kiss the ook” garment that she hated with a passion so deadly that, given rein and means, it might wipe out the population of a medium-sized middle European nation. She tied it on with a pitiful sigh and laid out her elements on the counter. A plastic bag of ordinary hamburger buns $1.37. An ancient can of boiled spinach $1.50. A newish can of black-eyed peas $0.50. Six ounces of cornmeal in a business-letter envelope $0.10. A double handful of fairly green grass $0.00. Total outlay: $3.47. It sorrowed her so much to break the five-dollar bill that was supposed to help purchase Scallion that she placed the remaining $1.53 into her underwear drawer instead of the equestrienne envelope. The Art & Soul of Greensboro

These expenses were curious. Mr. Ponder had first charged her $1.50 for the peas. When she objected, he lowered the price to fifty cents and raised the price of the spinach by a dollar. When she declared that this sort of pricing made no sense, he agreed and with a sad, unhurried smile, refused to change his prices. So she stopped dickering. Mr. Ponder was not dickerable. The grass entailed no expense except for the dulling of the pinking shears from her mother’s sewing kit. She had cleaned the scissors and restored them in place and now she washed the grass blades thoroughly in cold water. She had found a patch of grass behind a maintenance shed on the grounds of the project and she was certain that dogs and drunken boys had peed on it. After she washed the grass she washed it again and pressed it mostly dry. When she opened the can of spinach she did not like the smell, so she drained the clump and washed it too. She chopped the grass as finely as she could with the dull butcher knife and mixed in the spinach. She poured the envelope of cornmeal in and looked for beer. Her dad must have used up the PBR, but the label of a bottle tweaked her attention. Red Wine Vinegar. This must be a kind of wine, she thought, pouring a strong half cup into the yellow mixing bowl with the greenery and cornmeal. Now what? Salt and pepper and something called meat tenderizer and corn oil, all stirred together to compose a greenish-blacking murky mush that closely resembled the flop from a distressed bovine. She dared herself to taste it and failed. “It will look better when it is cooked,” she said. In a pan on a front eye of the small electric stove she melted butter, not measuring. Then she scooped up a handful of the mush and tried to make a patty, but it was too wet. She held the lump over the sink and squeezed. Then it was too thin so she put a cup of flour on a plate and smoothed out the lump and floured it liberally. Finally she had something shaped like a patty. Wiping her hands on the pink apron, she stepped back from the plate to judge her handiwork and found it passable. She plopped it into the bubbling butter. It didn’t sizzle the way she had imagined that a regulation kale burger would; it made a sort of guttural moan and oozed juices. In three minutes it stopped oozing and she flipped it over. The upper side was black. As black as ink? “There is red ink and purple ink and green and blue,” she said aloud. “It should be, ‘As black as the space behind your eyeballs.’” Black enough to look unappetizing. But she soldiered on and let the patty tremble in the butter which had now turned a surprising purple-green color, something like the shade of a shoe polish rejected by the manufacturer. She opened the package of buns and smeared one with mustard. “Why don’t we have any ketchup?” she complained. When she lifted the patty from the pan it dripped liquid, so she laid it on the financial section of the newspaper which lay on the dinette table where her father had left it. In a few moments the paper was sopping, but the patty had dried enough to transfer to the bun. Before she did so, she cut off a little sliver at the edge and chewed and at last managed to swallow. She did not like the taste one little bit. “How can vegetarians eat this stuff?” she said. Then she turned it over again and laid it on the bread. “We have to make a start somewhere. This is the experimental model.” She would try it out on her father at supper.


e sat waiting at the table when she entered the kitchen. “My oh my,” he said. “You’re all dressed up. What’s the occasion?” Mary Ellen had exchanged her tan cotton shorts and soiled white shirt and flip-flops for clean blue jeans, a pleated blouse, and red-and-white sneakers. She had wanted to wear a flowery apron, but there was none and nothing in this whole starry galaxy would induce her to don the pink “ook” apron again. “I am introducing a new kooey-sign,” she said. “So I dressed up for it.” “Kooey-sign?” “I think Mary Ellen means cuisine,” her mother said. She too had freshened her outfit. “I saw the book open on the counter, Fine Wine Cuisine.” “This is something to look forward to,” her father said. “What is it?” The Art & Soul of Greensboro

She brought the large red soup pot from the counter to the table, removed the lid, and took out a small plate holding her creation, and set it before him. “Ta-da!” her mother caroled. He leaned toward it, then leaned back from it. “What do we have here?” “It’s a new kind of burger,” Mary Ellen said. “What’s in it?” “I don’t want to say. I want to keep it a secret till I sell it to restaurants and burger palaces. If you like it, they will pay me money to know the recipe.” “Is it some kind of dreadful-tasting health burger?” “I don’t think so.” He took away the top of the bun and peered at the patty. “It’s got writing on it,” he said. Mary Ellen edged to the table and examined it. The patty was a purple-gray color that set off the bold, black news headline on top. “I thought it would be cute to have writing on it,” she said, thinking quickly. “What is cute about ‘U. S. Stock Yields Drop 2%’?” “You like to read the news when you eat. This way you can —” “Never mind,” he said. He clapped the bun-top over it. He sat up straight in his chair, closed his eyes, and took a long, deep breath. Then he opened his eyes and declared with the calm determination of Joan of Arc before her judges, “I am going to try it now.” “Would you like it warmed up?” his wife asked. “It has been sitting around


e silenced her with a curt shake of his head, snatched up the sandwich, and bit into it. As he chewed his eyes widened and then grew wider. He chewed faster and swallowed and took another, larger bite. Then he laid the uneaten half on the little white plate and said, “This is great stuff. This is one of the best hamburgers I ever ate. Ever.” Mary Ellen was able to stop herself just in time from shouting out in irritation: “It is a kale burger! For vegetarians! Not a hamburger!” So she said nothing and only watched as he devoured the remainder. “Are there any more?” he said. His tone was almost plaintive. “No,” she said. “It was an experimental model. But I can make more, if there is popular demand.” “Well, I’ll demand. Do I count?” “Oh yes. Would you like to invest in the recipe? If it catches on, we will make a lot of money and buy Scallion.” “What is Scallion?” “A horse not named Lost Vegas.” “Invest money, you mean?” “Yes.” “How much?” She blurted an enormous figure. “Forty dollars.” “Whoa. That’s serious money. I’d need to think about that.” “You say it is a real good burger.” “I don’t want to pay forty dollars for one hamburger.” “I’d tell you the secret recipe.” “Well . . . maybe. I’ll have to think about it.” “Don’t wait too long,” she said. “Maybe some other people would want it.” “It’s a good hamburger.” It is not a hamburger, Mary Ellen thought. It is vegetarian. Then it occurred to her that any circular object plunked onto bread was hamburger, as far as her father was concerned. For him, hamburger was the same word as food. If she had served him a Dolly Parton CD on a bun with mustard, he would have declared it a good hamburger. Maybe there were lots of people like her father. If there were, she was going to be rich, rich, rich. Scallion would be a pampered animal. She would house him in a golden stable and feed him kale burgers day in and day out. OH Retired UNCG creative-writing professor and former North Carolina Poet Laureate Fred Chappell first wrote about the headstrong and rebellious Mary Ellen and her quest for a horse in the November 2012 issue of O.Henry, archived online at April 2013

O.Henry 55

Friday Night Firefighters and Drinking Club They were good friends who met faithfully every Friday night. They wanted to change the world, and they did — creating a spirit of renewal in Greensboro.

By Bill hancocK



April 2013

Interior of The Mantelworks restaurant on South Elm Street, an effort to recreate the mood of the 1920s and 1930s in the ’70s.


was a world of urban flight. Elm Street in the 1950s had been everyone’s destination for shopping and business. By the ’70s, downtown was in free fall, punctuated by empty streets, sleazy bars, porno bookstores and public fears that this was no-man’s land after dark. In the midst of this, a young couple, Bob and Shelia Williams, did the unthinkable. They opened a sandwich shop. It would be fun, they said.

They bought an old, three-story building on the west side of South Elm that decades later would be the site of the former Bin 33 restaurant. Inside, they recreated a 1920s soda shop with wooden booths, old radios, a collection of records on display, and a menu of homemade soups and sandwiches. They called it The Mantelworks, since the building earlier housed a mantel manufacturing company. Eventually, there were regulars, young wouldbe entrepreneurs who bought and began renovating decrepit downtown buildings, living on the The Art & Soul of Greensboro

PhotograPh by JeFF waymaN

sun’s glare and the midsummer humidity were taking a toll on the crowd. Nevertheless, there she was. Dressed from headto-toe in thick pants and blouse. Elderly. Frail. Walking slow, struggling really, while pushing a middle-aged man, her son, in a wheelchair. Making her way through all the people, standing shoulder-to-shoulder at Center City Park, there for the music, food and the crafts for sale along rows of outdoor tables. It was the Fourth of July in 2009, and this was Fun Fourth in downtown Greensboro, with thousands of people on the streets. All were oblivious to this elderly woman, forcing her to pause and change course as they impolitely strolled in front of the wheelchair. If only they’d known who she was. You see, when she was young, this woman, Delia Faber, was among a half dozen or so couples who whimsically described themselves as “The Friday Night Firefighters and Drinking Club.” They were fixtures at a long-ago Elm Street restaurant called The Mantelworks where they crowded into the same semicircular wooden booth against the wall each Friday night. They showed up with priestly devotion. In their 30s, they were filled with energy and moxie. They wanted to change the world — at least their small part of it. They drank beer, martinis, whiskey sours, gin and tonics, pushed tables aside to dance, then ate dinner. They had costume parties. Needled each other with repartee. And they talked into the night — the gossip and politics of downtown Greensboro. This ensemble of partiers, sometimes sitting at the booth for long hours, set in motion ideas that pushed the envelope — and helped make downtown what it is today. Now, almost no one knows what they did.

upper floors, some of them running a business downstairs. Judi and Dave Hill owned a clock repair shop at Elm and Washington streets. Jim and Marilyn Forster lived next door. Al and Delia Faber owned The Book Trader nearby. Jim and Jennifer Bennett owned a building on Davie Street, two blocks from the restaurant. And John Tasker owned several downtown buildings. There were others: Charlie and Hilda Knowles and Carter and Molly Cooper, who owned a dollhouse shop downtown. A few were less regular but very much part of the group. The Art & Soul of Greensboro

“We all sat in this circular booth, and if there were a lot of people, we’d pull up extra tables and chairs,” says Judi Hill. “It was mainly people who lived, worked or owned buildings downtown, but that applied to almost everyone who came in.” And everyone got along. “Maybe it’s because we only met on Friday nights,” she says. “It wasn’t like we went down there every night. We just couldn’t. None of us had that kind of time. We all owned businesses.” But Friday was their night. They showed up in the early evening and stayed until closing time, which was whenever the other customers left. “Then the waitresses and everyone else would join us,” says Judi. If anyone could lay claim as their spiritual leader, it was Bob Williams. On that, they all agree. Outgoing, friendly and, above all, fun. Case in point: During the energy crisis of the 1970s, Bob says, “We turned all the thermostats down one night. We offered the customers blankets. We called it ‘bundling.’ We did lots of things like that.” Out of the partying and late-night conversations around the table came ideas about changing downtown — one step and one building at a time. Bob and Shelia were idea people; they had a good one early on — a two-day street festival to celebrate the nation’s upcoming 200th anniversary in 1976. They painted a large sign on the side of their building to announce the new festival and its name: “Fun Fourth.” After a few years of running it, they turned it over to good friend Betty Cone, who headed up the United Arts Council and became an investor in the restaurant with her husband, Benji. Thirty-eight years later it’s one of the city’s largest annual events, still run by Betty. From the Fun Fourth Festival emerged the Old Greensborough Preservation Society that set out to preserve downtown’s historic buildings on the south end of Elm Street. Dave Hill was president for a time. Nearly all of the Friday night group served on its board at one time or another. After a few years, Bob and Shelia added a cabaret stage at the back of the building, inviting theater groups to perform. Mark Woods brought in his small company of actors, staging eighteen plays before moving to High Point and creating The North Carolina Shakespeare Festival. “The festival has The Mantelworks at its core,” says Woods. “I’m not sure there would have been a Shakespeare Festival without them.” As the Friday night group tackled renovations to their own buildings, they dived headlong into downtown eyesores, closing down two bars, and convincing city officials to plant trees up and down the street, paying for part of it themselves. They began a small newspaper about downtown, called The Hamburger Square Post. It’s still around today. But there was always time for fun, like the “Who Shot J.R. Party” from the old Dallas televi-

sion show and “A Night to Remember” party from an old gangster movie, everyone dressing in Roaring ’20s clothes. Then came the fire. Davie Street. April 13, 1985. The Lofts at Greensborough Court, a large apartment complex, was under construction on South Elm. The backside of the large complex, facing Davie, turned into a raging fire, threatening to spread up and down Elm Street from one building to the next. Jim Bennett, one of the Friday night members, spent the night atop his three-story building, garden hose in hand, spraying his roof as the flames across the street shot into the sky. Police ordered him down. He refused, and he wasn’t the only one on his roof. At The Mantelworks, the chef also pulled a hose to the roof, spraying it to keep cinders away. When the group showed up again at The Mantelworks, they found a red sign atop their table. In black letters it read: The Friday Night Firefighters and Drinking Club. No clue as to who put it there. The name stuck. In 1989, The Mantelworks closed. The “Firefighters” tried another restaurant but it didn’t fit. And by then, downtown’s revitalization was catching steam from other groups and organizations.


the years, most of the “Firefighters” have kept in touch. Judi and Dave Hill’s business has turned into Thousands O’Prints, which their son operates. Their neighbor Jim Forster is the longtime owner of Jae-Mar Brass & Lamp Co. on Barnhardt Street by the railroad tracks on Elm. Bob and Shelia have for many years lived in Summerfield. John Tasker is involved in real estate. Both Al and Delia Faber have died. At The Mantelworks, fire gutted the building in 2003. After that the land was left a vacant lot for years. It became the site of Bin 33 restaurant, which is being replaced by a Ham’s. Could others have done what they did? Maybe. But no one else did. Not back then. Betty Cone puts it best. It was, she said, their early energy and willingness to push the envelope a little bit that made the difference. “People like Bob and Al and Delia and others were pioneers creating a new life downtown. And eventually a lot of people drifted to that kind of spirit.” As for me, I’m often reminded of Delia Faber pushing her son’s wheelchair though that crowd at Center City Park on July 4, so invisible to them all. If only they’d known that she and the other Friday Night Firefighters did nothing less than inspire the revitalization of downtown Greensboro. OH Bill Hancock is the former editor and publisher of 99blocks Magazine in downtown Greensboro. April 2013

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Miss Meemaw and Bubba Take Your Life Questions Dear Bubba and Meemaw: I never thought I’d be asking for advice from people like you, but I’m desperate, so here goes. I’m in love with my neighbor’s chicken. I know the Bible says thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife or his ass and such like. But I see nothing in there about chickens. My question is, am I a sinner for loving my neighbor’s chicken? Her name is Fiona, and she is lovely. Signed, Lonely Roger

Dear Bubba and Meemaw: I have struggled with my weight for years. I used to be a size 2, but after three children and early menopause, I have ballooned to a size 4. I have tried everything to lose those extra three pounds, but nothing works. I cannot get rid of the little Tootsie Roll of fat on my belly. Should I just throw in the towel and buy a new “fat” wardrobe? P.S.: I work in a bakery. Signed, Patsy in Pastry

Meemaw replies: Roger, hon, you ain’t no real sinner. But you’re crazy as a bedbug. First off, you got to get that stewing hen outta your sight. Too much temptation. I suggest you kidnap her and drop her off at my house ’round dinnertime Sunday. Problem solved.

Meemaw replies: Honey, you done made Meemaw sick.

Bubba replies: I got to go with Miss Meemaw on this one, son. But it’s dang worryin, this thing you got for a chicken, against the natural order as the Good Book talks about. Just remember the goats and sheep will someday be divided, though I reckon both might have good reason to give you a wide berth until then. I’d call me a decent shrink or large animal vet immediately. Dear Bubba and Meemaw: I am 42 years old and recently separated from my husband. He abused me, stole from me, hated my family and ate my yogurt without asking. I miss him like the dickens. What should I do? Signed, Truly Confused Tessa Meemaw replies: Lord have mercy. Where is your sense, girl? A man who eats his wife’s yogurt without permission ain’t worth having around. Fact, a man who eats yogurt at all is kindly on the edge. Cut him loose. Bubba replies: You sure touched a raw nerve on that one, sugar pie . See, I once ate a whole Mason jar of pickled quail eggs Miss Meemaw’d set out for Easter lunch and she about ran my rear-end out of the county. I ate a spoonful of plain white yogurt once and it tasted like spoiled buttermilk. So I can’t figger any real fella eatin’ that stuff except by pure accident — especially if his wife is involved. He’s just asking for trouble.

Bubba replies: Sorry, Patsy, you pushed the wrong button. Miss Meemaw’s always been a big-boned gal, see, and middle-age ain’t been all that kind to her, truth be told. I casually suggested she sign up to do some “before” shots for the new Weight Watchers class being formed in the basement of the Baptist church and durn if I didn’t wind up sleepin’ on the porch for a month. I say shovel in them yeast rolls and fried pies, Patsy, and fret about that extra weight! There’ll just be more of you for your man to love! Dear Bubba and Meemaw: Two years ago, our nerdy son Scooter dropped out of high school. We were embarrassed by this and did not tell our families. Instead, we perpetuated a charade that he was still in school and doing well. Meanwhile, Scooter has founded an Internet company and made millions. Here’s the problem: This spring, our families will expect invitations to Scooter’s graduation, but there will be no graduation. Should we come clean to our families? Signed, A Secretly Proud Mama Meemaw replies: Lord, no, whatever you do, do not tell them the truth. They will be all over you for that money. Take a sliver of that cash and buy you some fake invitations. Throw yourself a nice fake party. Hire Scooter some fake high school buddies if you have to. When your family comes to the party, tell them Scooter is going to some up-North college to study philosophy and cross-stitching. You will never hear from them again.

Dear Bubba and Meemaw: Recently, I saw my best friend’s wife having lunch with her personal trainer in a secluded Italian restaurant. I know that people are free to have lunch with anyone they want, and this could have been strictly all business, but I am slightly suspicious, as they were having sex in the booth. I am willing to forget about it this time, but should I say something if I see it again? Signed, A Deeply Worried Friend

Bubba replies: Meemaw’s right. You’ll just turn ’em into a bunch of mooches like my half-cousin Phil Roger who still ain’t returned either my beloved Husqvarna chain saw or the bass boat I borrowed from my boss when he got in trouble with the law and had to go off to Florida for a spell. Might tell ’em Scooter was so smart he graduated early and got himself on one of them crazy “reality” shows. I saw a young fella on one the other night who’s become a millionare growing watermelons shaped like the heads of U.S. presidents. That boy’s got major talent. Maybe Scooter does, too!

Meemaw replies: Yes, you should, dear. Out of sight, out of mind is often the best policy in matters of infidelity and taxidermy. But if you see ’em going at it again in view of God and country, I’d march myself straight up to the booth and say: “Listen up, you two! GO GET A ROOM, for heaven’s sake, before I have to call your spouses and the health department!”

Dear Bubba and Meemaw: I am a shopaholic. I buy things I don’t need because it makes me feel better temporarily. I have a closet full of shoes and clothes with the tags on them. Unfortunately, I can afford this lifestyle, so there is no financial incentive to quit, but I know it is not healthy. What should I do? Signed, Sherri the Born Shopper

Bubba replies: One thing can quickly lead to another, darlin, especially if they’s Eyetalian food involved. I speak from experience having once stumbled upon my fiancée Bernice and her first cousin Eugene sharing more than a double cheese Whopper in the back of his Firebird at the Burger King. Sometimes it’s all for the best, though. Me and Bernice broke up, and I met Meemaw not 24 hours later. I knew she was different and probably my soul mate from our very first date. For one thing, she loves McDonald’s, ’specially them little fish bites and green Shamrock shakes.

Meemaw replies: Honey, long as you can afford it, I wouldn’t bother with it. Let’er rip, Tater-chip! But it might make you feel better to give some of them clothes and shoes to truly deservin’ people. For example, Meemaw wears a size 7 s⁃ hoe.

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Bubba replies: Meemaw’s always been a big gal with princess feet. If you need to feel better about yourself and got the plastic to support your habit, I say keep on shoppin’! Shoppin’ is as American as ownin’ a borrowed bass boat or eatin’ three times a day any place but Burger King. OH April 2013

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April 2013

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Story of A House

Lost and Found Barn Talented renovators Cyndy and Rick Hayworth turned a sad one-story house into a home of rediscovered treasures

By Jim Schlosser


he house at 1903 North Elm Street may lack that all-important real estate ingredient: location. A clever agent, however, could, with a slight stretch, boast that the house sits on the fringe of Irving Park. Nevertheless, it faces one of Greensboro’s busiest streets. A car trying to turn across traffic into the driveway the other day had to let at least twenty other cars pass. The house also wouldn’t please a suburban purist, who would likely be put off by its proximity to a commercial district. A gas station, barbershop and drugstore are practically next-door neighbors. Plus, the house has a scandalous past: A previous owner used a backyard building — called the Above Ground Basement — as a high-stakes poker parlor. Rumors buzzed of women in the gambling den. The owner also took full advantage of the front yard. He sold autos there. But Cyndy Hayworth wasn’t daunted by the house’s reputation or the busyness around it. She was used to living in homes of different shapes and comfort levels. She and her husband, Rick, once lived in a tobacco barn they converted near Summerfield. They sold it for eleven times what they paid for it. After two more houses in the rural area, they moved in 2005 to 1905 North Elm, at the corner of Newlyn Street. That’s next door to their present 1903 North Elm home. Investing $100,000, they renovated the corner house so beautifully it was chosen for the city’s Home and Garden Tour in 2007.  The Art & Soul of Greensboro

“Anything Cyndy does is A1,” says former neighbor Olivia Kelly. “She is a perfectionist.” In 2009, the Hayworths turned their attention and money to the neighboring house. It was built in 1960 by a contractor who lived there briefly. It also served as the parsonage of nearby Newlyn Street United Methodist. In more recent times came the poker-playing, car-hustling man. When the Hayworths bought it, the house had been converted into a group home. Since then, the couple has transformed the house into a stunning abode. It is classic ranch-style, common in the 1950s and 1960s (and said to be making a comeback), except removal of walls have made the floor plan open. The house is hard to miss with its celery green facade. The reaction of anyone peeking through the front door may be similar to that of famed archeologist Howard Carter. When he first looked into King Tut’s tomb and was asked if he saw anything, Carter replied, “Yes, wonderful things.” Cyndy and Rick have made the rounds of area antique shops and old houses, buying lots of wonderful things. The floral pedestal decorating the entrance came from the studio of renowned interior designer Virginia Zenke. The double doors to the Hayworths’ den are from Chinqua Penn Plantation in Rockingham County. Cyndy found them there perched against a garage and paid $200 for the pair. Granted, some of the window slots in the doors were missing or cracked, but she had replacements installed in varying colors. She says guests find the odd glass combinations fascinating. At Mary’s Antiques, she spotted some mahogany doors from Tahiti. April 2013

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They had once been part of a horse barn. The ironwork on the horse barn doors remains.  The doors now lead into what were three bedrooms. The Hayworths removed a wall to merge two of the rooms. The space that was once a bedroom is now a home office, decorated with an elegant French mirror that includes stitched embroidery. It came from Kinnaman’s Antiques. An 1800s’ Louis XV high-back bed with beautiful inlaid woodwork dominates one of the two remaining bedrooms. Cyndy bought it at the Antique Mart for $150. She says an interior designer told her it’s easily worth $8,000. Typical of ranch houses, a narrow hall once ran between the three bedrooms. The Hayworths removed the walls, creating a large open space connecting the bedrooms. To enlarge the master bedroom, they added six feet to the back of the house. Cyndy and Rick had a stained-glass window from Ellenberg & Shaffer Glass Art built into the wall over the bed. Cyndy loves the gold light that streams in through it. The “man’s bathroom,” as Cyndy calls it, connects to the master bedroom. This is Rick’s space, as evidenced by a piece of furniture with a sink they found in Burlington. It stands high, perfect for a man who doesn’t want to bend far to reach the faucets. The shower has a solar tube overhead that lets in light even when the rest of the room is dark. In Cyndy’s nearby bathroom is her favorite find, a claw-foot bathtub in which she soaks daily. It’s got quite a backstory. She and her husband had been looking for an antique tub they liked without success. Then a neighbor around the corner on Newlyn Street said she had a claw-foot tub in her garage. It was just what the couple was looking for. While cleaning it, they found a note attached to the bottom: “1929 Starmount Farm.” Starmount Farm was the large home of Ed and Blanche Benjamin, who continued to live in the house even after Ed built Friendly Shopping Center in one horse pasture and Burlington Industries headquarters in an adjoining pasture. 

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The Art & Soul of Greensboro

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

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April 2013

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Blanche Benjamin stayed on in the house after her husband’s death. When she died, the house was moved a short distance to Northline Avenue in the shopping center. It is now the plantation-like headquarters for Junior Achievement of Central North Carolina. Cyndy Hayworth just so happens to be president and CEO of Junior Achievement. Within arms’ reach of the tub is an antique gold-plated coal box. It came from the Red Collection, and Cyndy uses it to store odds and ends, including her bathing supplies. The living room and kitchen were once two rooms. The Hayworths ripped out the kitchen walls. The kitchen and living room are now one, with an arched ceiling between them, held up by columns that are wood but made to look like limestone. She found the columns at Mary’s Antiques. With the walls gone, Cyndy likes to work in the kitchen while carrying on a conversation with guests seated in the living room. The original fireplace remains, but the pink bricks are gone. The fireplace has been redone to resemble an Italian wall. To cover holes that were there to send out heat from a blower inside the old fireplace, Cyndy and Rick installed old radiator grates they bought at Mary’s Antiques. The house’s floors remain hardwood but the light color of old has given way to a merlot color. Crown molding has been added to every room. Oh, let’s not forget the Above Ground Basement, which the Hayworths have renamed The Man Retreat. It has been completely redone, and Rick, a machinist at Lorillard, uses it as a get-away place to read and watch television. The Hayworths almost didn’t buy the house. They were so angry at what was happening in the block, they considered selling the house on the corner and returning to the country. The target of their outrage was the group home that had opened in what’s now the Hayworths’ home. “It was absolutely horrible,” Cyndy says. She had no complaints about the patients. But the staff arrived and departed 24-7. They used part of the Hayworth’s adjoining yard to turn cars around. The Art & Soul of Greensboro

April 2013

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April 2013

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

One day, while Cyndy was talking to the man who owned the house and leased it to the group home, he announced plans to pave the front yard. That did it. On the spot, the Hayworths made the owner a low-ball offer for the house. He accepted. At first, the couple thought they would touch up the house and flip it. But the downturn in the housing market nixed that idea. They decided to lease out their two-story corner house and move next door to the one-story house, even though that meant another expensive renovation. Cyndy says they reduced the house down to its studs. She estimates they spent $100,000 redoing the 2,600 square feet, plus the 700 square feet that comprises The Man Retreat. Together with what they spent earlier renovating the corner house, “We have put a lot of money into this block,” Cyndy says. Their goal in buying items for the house is “to find things we like and when put together with other things it all fits together,” Cyndy says. The decor includes oil paintings done by Cyndy. And Cyndy didn’t always need Rick’s help in moving heavy things around the house. She is a former powerlifter with three national and two state titles to her name. As for noise on North Elm, they don’t hear it. The house is well-insulated. And they love being near the business district, which includes the popular Brown-Gardiner Drug Store, with its venerable soda fountain. The couple often walks there or to nearby State Street, with its shops and restaurants. Proud is too mild to describe Cyndy’s feelings about the house. “People come in and they can’t get over it,” she says. “They say, ‘This should be in a magazine.’ We have heard that so many times.” And now it is. OH

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April 2013

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The Art & Soul of Greensboro

The Taste of Four Season Farm

By Noah Salt

For anyone who loves good food and great gardening wisdom, April brings a special gift in the form of The Four Season Farm Gardener’s Cookbook ($22.95) by Barbara Damrosch and Eliot Coleman, America’s foremost authorities on organic gardening and the gurus of sustainable living. These two national treasures have put together a sumptuously illustrated and powerfully useful exegesis on how to create the perfect sustainable garden — and what extraordinary things you can do with what comes out of it. The first half of the book is devoted to why and how you should grow your own food, including detailed, easy-todigest advice and helpful working plans for providing the best soil and growing the most nutritious organic food. Part two takes you into the kitchen at Four Seasons Farm near Blue Hill, Maine, where Barbara and Eliot dazzle their guests with 120 of the finest homegrown recipes you’ll ever taste ranging from the simple sandwiches to the most memorable stews, soups, roasts, salads and desserts (hint: the Stuffed Squash Blossom Fritters are a sublime opener), often served alfresco in the garden. Take it from the Almanac Gardener, who has been lucky enough to dine with them twice, this is one garden and kitchen resource you’ll be using like your favorite garden gloves. Look for an excerpt in next month’s O.Henry magazine.

By Noah Salt

April commences with a celebrated day of pranks dating to medieval times and winds up with our national homage to trees, also known as Arbor Day. Between these calendar points, temperatures range upward seven degrees, rain typically falls in abundance, and Southern gardens burst forth with flowers galore — beds of tulips and hyacinth, iris and dogwoods, apple trees and azaleas have their big moment, as do rhododendron and early daylilies, daisies and allium. Lawns are at their greenest, dotted with dandelions and screaming for a good mowing. Now is the time to plant cosmos and zinnia seeds straight into the warming soil. The woods are full of Virginia bluebells and the roadside ditches wear carpets of the first buttercups — so common in grazing meadows worldwide. English farm lore holds they are the reason butter is yellow.

Out in the garden, Out in the windy, swinging dark, Under the trees and over the flower-beds, Over the grass and under the hedge-border, Someone is sweeping, sweeping, Some old gardener. Out in the windy, swinging dark, Someone is secretly putting in order, Someone is creeping, creeping.

In Roman mythology, Flora was celebrated as the goddess of the flower and the renewed cycle of life with a festival of eating and drinking and weddings, making the beginning of the critical growing season for grapes and olives. The precise origins of April Fool’s Day are unknown, but it is mentioned as early as The Nun’s Priest’s Tale by Geoffrey Chaucer in his Canterbury Tales (1392) wherein a vain chanticleer cock is fooled by a wily fox. Iranians also make a claim to the tradition of innocent prank-making that dates back to 536 B.C., and the French and Italians each have their own days dating from medieval times in which masters attempted to fool servants and even lovers played innocent tricks on each other. In Scotland, the unwitting “fool” is sent in search of “gowks,” a fowl that does not exist, while in Poland elaborate hoaxes are common. The idea seems to be to throw off the seriousness of winter and embrace the whimsy of returning spring. For those of you who don’t fancy fooling friends or planting trees, National Golf Day is on the 18th, National Kiss Your Mate Day on the 28th. The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Katherine Mansfield, from Out in the Garden, 1922

Writer in the Garden “Peace — and grief — made gardens more precious. The gaze turned inwards, away from the world. A retired friend of mine remembers her father-in-law’s garden, so vital to him and the family. He had been badly wounded at the Somme, but seemed completely at peace in his garden, which was tremendously long but very narrow, the width of their little terraced house. He grew practically all their vegetables and fruit, and his wife celebrated Whit Sunday each year with a lunch off the season’s first crop. He saved his own seeds, sorting out and sowing them in soil that was rich and black from the compost and manure dug in over many years. He had a small shed with a folding chair and outside it a patch of lawn circled with snapdragons. The other flowers — Japanese anemones, gladioli, roses, chrysanths, stocks, sweet peas, sweet Williams — grew in rows, like the vegetables. They were poor, since he could not work for a long time after the war, and the garden was their lifeline, as it must have been for many people. It used to give him huge pleasure to load his grown-up children with boxes of vegetables when they called. He never went to a garden centre in his life.” From A Little History of British Gardening, 2004, by Jenny Uglow OH April 2013

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Arts & Culture

Saturday, April 27 8:00 PM Are you ready to “Shake Your Booty”?


“get down tonight!”

Headed Home Monday, April 29 7:30 PM Christ United Methodist Church 410 N Holden Rd Greensboro

Tickets available online, over the phone, and at the door.

(336) 333-2220 This concert made possible in part with funding from the Tannenbaum-Sternberger Foundation, and the United Arts Council of Greater Greensboro and the N.C. Arts Council, a division of the Department of Cultural Resources.

thursday, april 18, 2013 Support the Carolina Theatre by attending a ‘70s-inspired Benefit Gala featuring KC and the Sunshine Band. Choose from an elegant pre-show dinner or high-energy cocktail party, or just attend the concert. (336) 333-2605 72 O.Henry

April 2013

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

April 1

Arts Calendar April 4

MONDAY NIGHT POETRY. 7 p.m. Celebrate National Poetry Month with silly poems, clean limericks and goofy songs. Sillier the better. Central Library, 219 N. Church St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 373-3617 or

April 1– June 1

PHOTOGRAPHY EXHIBIT. The Photography of Lewis Hine: Exposing Child Labor in North Carolina, 1908–1915. High Point Museum, 1859 E. Lexington Ave., High Point. Info: (336) 885-1859 or

April 2

POETRY GSO FILM FESTIVAL. 7 p.m. Sylvia. Gwyneth Paltrow stars in this film based on the life of poet Sylvia Plath. Rated R. Hemphill Branch Library, 2301 W. Vandalia Rd., Greensboro. Info: (336) 373-2925 or www.

WAMJAM. 6 – 7 p.m. A series of informal performances featuring UNCG students, faculty and friends. Featuring Steve Landis, double bass; Charlie Rasmussen, cello; and Elisa Foshay, dance. Weatherspoon Art Museum, 500 Tate St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 334-5770 or MEET THE ARTISTS. 7:30 – 9 p.m. Guilford College Exhibition, on display through May 17, feaArt Faculty Biennial Exhibition, tures paintings, drawings, ceramics, photography, sculpture and textiles by Adele Wayman, Roy Nydorf, Mark Dixon, Charlie Tefft, Maia Dery, Kaitlyn Barlow, Kicki Deyton, Phil Haralam and Juie Rattley III. Panel discussion with the artists will be moderated by Kathryn Shields, assistant professor of art. Free and open to the public. Hege Library, Guilford College, 5800 W. Friendly Ave., Greensboro. Info: (336) 3162483 or MIXED TAPE SERIES. 7:30 – 9:30 p.m. Enter the Dragon (1973). Rated R. Tickets: $6/adults; $5/students, seniors & military. Carolina Theatre, 310 S. Greene St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 333-2605 or

April 4–7

NO RULES THEATRE COMPANY. 7:30 p.m.; 2 p.m. (Sat. & Sun.) Black Comedy. Tickets: $30. Hanesbrandes Theatre, 209 N. Spruce St., WinstonSalem. Info: (336) 747-1414 or

April 5

Hin phy of Lewis The Photogra


EARLY AMERICAN SKILLS WORKSHOP. 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Detailed instructions for hands-on activities and historical background for those interested in learning about early American culture. Learn how to create programs that can be tailored to various historical missions. Egg dyeing, stenciling, quill pen writing, candle dipping, soap making, and more. Cost: $10. High Point Museum, 1859 E. Lexington Ave., High Point. Info/Register: (336) 885-1859. PARENTS NIGHT OUT AT GREEN HILL CENTER. 6 – 8 p.m. ArtQuest will be open for

Key: The Art & Soul of Greensboro

• • • Art


Performing arts

children while parents enjoy First Friday. Dance Performance with Jan Van Dyke Dance Group in The Gallery. Cost: $10 per child. Green Hill Center for NC Art, 200 N. Davie St., Greensboro. Reservations/Info: (336) 333-7460 or www. FIRST FRIDAY. 6 – 9 p.m. Free self-guided walking tour of local art galleries, art studios, museums, alternative art venues, plus live music and more. Downtown Greensboro, 122 N. Elm St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 373-7523 or www. FIRST FRIDAY AT GREEN HILL CENTER. 6 – 9 p.m. Public opening of Independents: Paintings by Brett Baker, Mark Brown, Ashlynn Browning, Philip Thomas Lopez & Bonnie Melton, an exhibit featuring the recent works of NC abstract artists. Live music by Sourwood Sweet Acoustics starts at 7 p.m. Free and open to the public. Refreshments and light hors d’oeuvres provided by The Fresh Market. Cash bar. Exhibit on display through June 2. Green Hill Center for NC Art, 200 N. Davie St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 333-7460 or MUSIC FOR A GREAT SPACE. 7:30 p.m. Joby Bell, organ. Christ United Methodist Church, 410 Holden Rd., Greensboro. Tickets: Carolina Theatre Box Office at (336) 3332605. Info: (336) 638-7624 or

• •

April 5–14

TOURING THEATRE OF NORTH CAROLINA. 8 p.m. (April 5–6 & 12–13); 2 p.m. (April 7 & 14). The Sweet By and By. A realistic portrait of the challenges faced by the elderly, capturing the authentic voices of Southern women. Tickets: $20/general admission; $17/groups of 10 or more and Care Givers; $15/ Cabaret Club members. Triad State Upstage Cabaret, 232 S. Elm St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 3374925 or

April 6

BB&T GATE CITY HALF MARATHON & 8K. 8 a.m. – 2 p.m. Post-race festivities include: massage tents, beer garden, live entertainment, and a feast hosted by Carrabba’s. Center City Park, 200 N. Elm St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 834-9919 or

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April 2013



O.Henry 73

Arts & Culture

74 O.Henry

April 2013

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Arts & Culture

Please Join Us



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Saturday, April 13 at 5:30pm, at Flintrock Farm in Reidsville, NC Dinner, Entertainment and Square Dancing Dress Code: $65 per person • $120 per couple Jeans/Western Wear $450 per table of 8 (boots or outdoor shoes recommended) A portion of the proceeds from this event will also go to HorseFriends (



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The Art & Soul of Greensboro

April 2013

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April Arts Calendar •

POTTERS OF THE PIEDMONT SPRING STUDIO TOUR. 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Potters of the Piedmont, 636 S. Cedar St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 662-2357 or BLACKSMITHING DEMO IN THE HISTORICAL PARK. 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Watch costumed blacksmith craft various iron pieces. All ages welcome. Free. Drop-in. High Point Museum, 1859 E. Lexington Ave., High Point. Info: (336) 885-1859. OPEN MIC POETRY PROGRAM. 1 – 4 p.m. Share an original poem or an old favorite. Hemphill Branch Library, 2301 W. Vandalia Rd., Greensboro. Info: (336) 373-2925 or LISTEN LOCAL. 8 – 10 p.m. A music party. Tickets: $15. Mack and Mack, 220 S. Elm St., Greensboro. Info:; SINBAD LIVE. 8 p.m. Actor and comedian Sinbad, ranked by Comedy Central as one of the top 100 standup comedians of all time, delivers comedic hysteria. Tickets: $29.50 & $39.50. Memorial Auditorium. 1921 W. Lee St., Greensboro. Info:

• • • •

April 7

EVALUATION EXTRAVAGANZA. 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Expert evaluators will assess your treasures and provide verbal approximation of value. Cost per item for High Point Historical Society members: $6; $15 (3 items). Cost per item for non-members: $12; $25 (3 items). No large furniture or firearms. High Point Museum, 1859 E. Lexington Ave., High Point. Info: (336) 885-1859.


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Performing arts

Digby Eye Associates

STEPPING TONES MOSAIC CONCERT. 2 p.m. Small ensembles from The Music Center perform throughout the gardens. Free admission; donations appreciated. Greensboro Arboretum, 401 Ashland Dr., Greensboro. Info: POETRY, JAZZ & JAVA. 2 p.m. A diverse group of gifted local poets plus live music with the Astanza Project. Sponsored by the Greensboro Public Library and Writers’ Group of the Triad. Coffee at the Summit, 623 Summit Ave., Greensboro. Info: (336) 373-2471 or GILBERT-CHAPPELL DISTINGUISHED POET

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April 7 – May 5

TRIAD STAGE MAINSTAGE. My Fair Lady. A Broadway Legend adapted from George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion; Directed by Bryan Conger. Tickets: $10–$52. Triad Stage, 232 S. Elm St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 272-0160 or

April 8

MONDAY NIGHT POETRY. 7 p.m. Join Danny Glenn, Brenda Bey, Nelson Stover, and Charlotte Hamlin as they bring to life the power and the words of Mystic poets. Central Library, 219 N. Church St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 373-3617 or

April 9

First Friday at Greenhill, April 5th

SERIES READING. 3 p.m. Catherine Stumberg and her mentor, distinguished poet Ann Deagon. A brief open mic will follow the reading. Tannenbaum-Sternberger Room, Central Library, 219 N. Church St., Greensboro. Info: www. COMMUNITY COFFEE ART SHOW OPENING RECEPTION. 5 – 7 p.m. Coffee-inspired creations from amateur and professional artists. Tate Street Coffee House, 334 Tate St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 275-2754.

• • Fun


NOON AT THE ’SPOON. 12 p.m. Twenty-minute docent-led tour of the new exhibition, The Penetrating Gaze. Weatherspoon Art Museum, 500 Tate St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 334-5770 or POETRY GSO FILM FESTIVAL. 6:45 p.m. Bright Star. Director Jane Campion’s film is the story of the last few years in the life of one of the major Romantic poets, John Keats. Rated PG. Central Library, 219 N. Church St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 373-3617 or IN FOCUS OPENING EVENT. 7 - 9 p.m. Photo

• •


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Counseling and psychiatric medication management for adults, children, families. Bringing reconciliation, hope and healing to the triad for 38 years. 3713 Richfield Rd. Greensboro (336)288-1484

76 O.Henry

April 2013

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

exhibit and community conversation. A collaborative effort between the Community Theatre of Greensboro and InFocus. The Green Bean, 341 S. Elm St., Greensboro. Info: INTERNATIONAL POETRY NIGHT. 7 p.m. Enjoy the eloquence of poetry performed in languages from around the world. Share your own poetry, choose an international author, or read a poem in your native language. Glenwood Branch Library, 1901 W. Florida St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 297-5000 or CAROLINA CLASSIC MOVIE. 7:30 p.m. Casablanca (1942). Tickets: $6/adults; $5/students, seniors & military. Carolina Theatre, 310 S. Greene St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 333-2605 or

• •

April 9–13

ARTQUEST TABLE PROJECT. 12:30 – 5 p.m. (April 9–11 & 13); 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. (April 12). Roy G. Biv Makes a Color Wheel. Green Hill Center for NC Art, 200 N. Davie St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 333-7460 or

April 10

FRIENDS OF THE UNCG LIBRARIES EVENT. 4 p.m. Meet Kathryn Stripling Byer, UNCG alumna and former North Carolina Poet Laureate. Free and open to the public. Hodges Reading Room, Jackson Library, University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Info: (336) 256-0112 or www. DICKEY BETTS & GREAT SOUTHERN IN CONCERT. 8 p.m. Dickey Betts, founding member of the Allman Brothers Band, and Great Southern break new ground in the grand tradition of great Southern Rock. Tickets: $42.50, $37.50 or $29.50 (depending on location). Carolina Theatre, 310 S. Greene St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 333-2605 or

April Arts Calendar

April 11

April 12–21

GREENSBORO GRASSHOPPER’S OPENING DAY. 7 p.m. Minor League Baseball is back. Kick-off the new season with great promotions and giveaways. NewBridge Bank park, 408 Bellemeade St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 268-2255 or POETRY GSO FILM FESTIVAL. 7 p.m. The Edge of Love. Kiera Knightly, Matthew Rhys, and Sienna Miller star in this film, which salutes two women who made a significant impact on poet Dylan Thomas in the 1940s. Rated R. Hemphill Branch Library, 2301 W. Vandalia Rd., Greensboro. Info: (336) 373-2925 or

COMMUNITY THEATRE OF GREENSBORO. 7 p.m. (April 12–13 & 19–20); 2 p.m. (April 13–14 & 20–21). Disney’s The Little Mermaid, Jr. Tickets: $10–$20. The Community Theatre of Greensboro, 520 S. Elm St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 333-7469 or RIVERRUN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL. One of the premier film festivals in the southeastern United States, featuring over 120 films, plus special events, celebrity tributes, family programs, panel discussions, and parties. Downtown Winston-Salem. Info: (336) 724-1502 or www.

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April 12

GREENSBORO SYMPHONY MASTERWORKS CONCERT. 8 p.m. Big Nightmare Music: Igudesman & Joo. Aleksey Igudesman, violin; HyungKi Joo, piano; Dmitry Sitkovetsky, conductor. A unique show full of virtuosity, enchanting music and zany, outrageous humor. Music by Mozart, Rachmaninov, Bach, Vivaldi, Strauss, Beethoven, Igudesman and Joo. Tickets: $24–$42 (depending on location). Westover Church, 505 Muirs Chapel Rd., Greensboro. Info: (336) 335-6465 x 224 or THE RED CLAY RAMBLERS IN CONCERT. 8 p.m. Tony Awardwinning North Carolina string band. Tickets: $24.50/general admission; $22.50/students, seniors, military. Carolina Theatre, 310 S. Greene St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 333-2605 or


• • Art


First Friday at Greenhill, April 5th

Performing arts

Spring in to better oral health.

Confidence. Comfort. Enjoyment. AFTER

• • Film


• • Fun




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The Art & Soul of Greensboro 910 692-9448 April 2013

O.Henry 77

Junior League of Greensboro ShowHouse benefiting the Junior League of Greensboro’s mission and partnership with Cone Elementary School

National Media Sponsor

April Arts Calendar April 13

Center for NC Art, 200 N. Davie St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 333-7460 or

NORTH CAROLINA WRITER’S NETWORK SPRING CONFERENCE. 8:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. Over 100 writers and publishing professionals gather for a day of workshops, panels, readings, and more. Early registration: $99/members; $150/non-members. On-site registration: $135/members; $165/non-members. Lunch with an author (not available to walk-ins): $15/members; $25/non-members. Moore Humanities & Research Administration (MHRA) Building on the UNCG campus, 1111 Spring Garden St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 293-8844 or www.ncwriters. org/2013-spring-conference. ALL DRESSED UP IN THE HISTORICAL PARK. 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Try on some clothing reproductions and discover what was fashionable in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Free. Drop-in. High Point Museum, 1859 E. Lexington Ave., High Point. Info: (336) 885-1859. SIP-N-STROLL. 1 – 6 p.m. Craft beer and wine stroll Downtown. Venues include Mellow Mushroom, The Worx, Natty Greene’s, Grey’s Tavern, Crafted, Liberty Oak, Zeto Wines and more. Tickets: $25. Downtown Greensboro. Info: BARNYARD BASH. 7 – 11 p.m. Black tie and jeans gala to benefit Peacehaven Community Farm and its efforts to provide affordable and independent living for adults with intellectual disabilities. Tickets: $50. Peacehaven Community Farm, 1458 NC Highway 61, Whitsett. Info: (336) 449-9900 or PHILHARMONIA OF GREENSBORO. 7:30 p.m. Peter Perret, Conductor. Program: “Symphony No. 7 in A major”, Beethoven; “Violin Concerto in D major”, Tchaikovsky; “Firebird Suite”, Stravinsky; “Overture to Candide”, Bernstein. Free admission; donations appreciated. Dana Auditorium, Guilford College, 5800 W. Friendly Ave., Greensboro. Info: SWING DANCE. 7:30 – 11:30 p.m. Introductory jitterbug lesson at 7:30 p.m. followed by live swing dance music. No partner or experience necessary. Nonmembers: $10; Members: $8. Vintage Theatre, 7 Vintage Avenue, WinstonSalem. Info: (336) 508 9998 or www.piedmontswingdance. org.

• • •

Come see local and national designers transform

“Greensboro’s Grandest House” the Adamsleigh Estate Featuring 33 rooms, including 10 bedrooms and over 15,000 square feet April 20th – May 5th, 2013 (operational times may vary) Special Events: Meet the Designers (Friday, April 26, 2013) Hats Off! - A Derby Event (Saturday, May 4, 2013)

Tickets $20 in advance, $25 at the door Add $10 for historical guided tour For more information or to purchase tickets go to

Location: 3301 Alamance Rd.

Sedgefield Community, Greensboro, NC

Sponsors Jeri K. D’Lugin, JD, CLU, AEP, Carolina Bank, Rebecca and Michael Schlosser

• •

April 14

BARNYARD DASH. 2 p.m. 5K run/walk and Smile Mile to benefit Peacehaven Community Farm and its efforts to provide affordable and independent living for adults with intellectual disabilities. Peacehaven Community Farm, 1458 NC Highway 61, Whitsett. Info/Registration: (336) 449-9900 or GUEST LECTURE AT WEATHERSPOON. 2 – 3 p.m. Historian Gail Levin, author of Lee Krasner: A Biography, examines the evolution of a woman whose life was as dramatic and intriguing as her art. Weatherspoon Art Museum, 500 Tate St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 334-5770 or

April 2013

POETRY GSO FILM FESTIVAL. 7 p.m. Disappearance of Garcia Lorca. The story of an investigation into the disappearance of famed poet and political agitator, Federico Garcia Lorca, who disappeared in the early days of the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s. Rated R. Central Library, 219 N. Church St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 373-3617 or www.greensboro-nc. gov.

April 17–21

CIRQUE DU SOLEIL PRESENTS QUIDAM. 7:30 p.m. (April 17–20); 3:30 p.m. (April 20); 1 & 5 p.m. (April 21). Young Zoe is bored; her parents, distant and apathetic, ignore her. Her life has lost all meaning. Seeking to fill the void of her existence, she slides into an imaginary world, Quidam, where she meets characters who encourage her to free her soul. Tickets: $40 and up; $28 (children ages 2–12). Greensboro Coliseum Complex, 1921 W. Lee St., Greensboro. Info:; www.

April 18

NATIONAL POEM IN YOUR POCKET DAY. Select a poem you love and carry it with you to share with co-workers, family, and friends, or share it on Twitter by using the hashtag #pocketpoem. HERB SALE. 7 a.m. – 3 p.m. Thousands of plants — parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, fenugreek, elderberry, chamomiles, stevia and more. Proceeds benefit the North Carolina Herb Society of America. Greek Orthodox Church, 800 Westridge Rd., Greensboro. Info: (336) 674-2424 or GREENSBORO YOUTH CHORUS AUDITIONS. 5:30 p.m. Open to treble voices grades 3–12 during the 2013–14 school year. Room 100, Greensboro Cultural Center, 200 N. Davie St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 373-2549 or COMMAND PERFORMANCE BENEFIT GALA. 5:30 – 10 p.m. Live concert by three-time Grammy Awardwinning pop group, KC and the Sunshine Band. Concert tickets: $75; Cocktail party & concert package: $125. Gala dinner party and concert package: $250. Proceeds benefit the 85-year-old Carolina Theatre. Carolina Theatre, 310 S. Greene St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 333-2605 or www. SUSTAINABLE SHORT FILM COMPETITION. 6:30 – 8 p.m. Part of a year-long series featuring new documentary films and post-screen discussions with local experts. Weatherspoon Art Museum, 500 Tate St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 334-5770 or

• • • •

April 19

GROVE’S WINE & SONG CONERT SERIES. 6 p.m. Greensboro R&B group, Doby, takes the Grove Lake Stage. Grove Winery and Vineyards, 7360 Brooks Bridge Rd., Gibsonville. Info: (336) 584-4060 or www.grovewinery. com.

April 16

TEDxGREENSBORO. Dreamsboro: Imagine. Design. Build. An independently organized TED event featuring live speakers, TED talks and entertainment. Greensboro Historical Musuem, 130 Summit Ave., Greensboro. Info: www.

April 19–21

CANTERBURY SCHOOL ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION. Celebrate 20 years with a weekend of fun, including a Spring Fling Carnival, fun run and alumni events. Canterbury School, 5400 Old Lake Jeanette Rd., Greensboro. Info: (336) 288-1541 or www.canterburysch. org.

POETRY GSO FILM FESTIVAL. 7 p.m. Stevie. Glenda Jackson stars in this film biography of British poet Stevie Smith. Rated PG. Hemphill Branch Library, 2301 W. Vandalia Rd., Greensboro. Info: (336) 373-2925 or

April 16–20

April 19–25

ARTQUEST TABLE PROJECT. 12:30 – 5 p.m. (April 16–18 & 20); 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. (April 19). Color My Mood with Music. Green Hill


78 O.Henry

April 17

• • Art


Performing arts

THE WIND ROSE AT ANTIQUE DESIGN CENTER. Beautiful antiques; custom made, designed and painted furniture. Market Square, 316 W.

• • Film


• • Fun



The Art & Soul of Greensboro

April Arts Calendar Commerce Ave., High Point. Info: (336) 908-2735 or www.

April 20

BLACKSMITHING DEMO IN THE HISTORICAL PARK. 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Watch costumed blacksmith craft various iron pieces. All ages welcome. Free. Drop-in. High Point Museum, 1859 E. Lexington Ave., High Point. Info: (336) 885-1859. NEO NATURAL HAIR CONVENTION. 6 – 10 p.m. An evening of cultural exploration that contains a symposium style panel to educate the community on stereotypes, healthy hair care, fashion, lifestyle, and products that can benefit women. Natural Hair Competition plus a Model and Indie Designer Competitions. African American Atelier Inc., 200 N. Davie St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 809-8851 or www. THIRD DAY IN CONCERT. 7 p.m. The Miracle Tour with American Idol’s Colton Dixon and singer-songwriter Josh Wilson. Tickets: $25, $40 & $75. Greensboro Coliseum Complex, 1921 W. Lee St., Greensboro. Info:; POETRY, JAZZ & JAVA. 7 p.m. Hear live music by Astanza Project and some of the best poets in the area. Sponsored by the Greensboro Public Library and Writers’ Group of the Triad. Starbucks in Quaker Village, 5607 W. Friendly Ave., Greensboro. Info: (336) 373-3617 or

• •

April 20–21

HERB FEST. 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. (Sat.); 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. (Sun.) Nursery herbs, live music and educational demos. Refreshments and herbal products available for purchase. Free admission. Sponsored by the Herbal Thyme Herb Guild. Piedmont Triad Farmers Market, 2914 Sandy Ridge Rd., Colfax.

April 20–25

SPRING MARKET. The largest furnishings industry trade show in the world. High Point. Info/Register: (336) 8691000 or

April 21

LOCAL VOICES POETRY PROGRAM. 3 – 5 p.m. Share an original poem or read an old favorite. Call to sign up to read. Vance H. Chavis Lifelong Learning Branch Library, 900 S. Benbow Rd., Greensboro. Info: (373) 5838.

April 22

MONDAY NIGHT POETRY. 6:30 p.m. “Performing Your Poetry” workshop with Josephus Thompson III. Take your words from the page to the stage. Central Library, 219 N. Church St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 373-3617 or www.

“Digby” Beagle

graphite on Canson paper

Pamela Powers January

April 22–23

NC ART OUTREACH PROJECT. 5:30 – 6:30 p.m. (Monday); 9:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. (Tuesday). Project connects North Carolina artists with a panel of NYC art professionals and provides a platform for learning and sharing opinions in a collegial atmosphere. Green Hill Center for NC Art, 200 N. Davie St., Greensboro. Info/RSVP: (336) 333-7460 or www.

••• • •

Key: Art Music/Concerts Film Literature/Speakers Sports The Art & Soul of Greensboro

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Performing arts Fun History







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April 2013

O.Henry 79

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April 2013

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

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The Art & Soul of Greensboro

April 2013

O.Henry 81

April Arts Calendar April 23

RUSSIAN NATIONAL BALLET THEATRE. 7:30 p.m. A unique intercultural exchange. Tickets: $20/general admission; $5/A&T faculty and staff. Discounts available for A&T students. Carolina Theatre, 310 S. Greene St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 333-2605 or

April 23–27

ARTQUEST TABLE PROJECT. 12:30 – 5 p.m. (April 23–25 & 27); 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. (April 26). Color Optics. Green Hill Center for NC Art, 200 N. Davie St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 333-7460 or

April 24

BLACKSMITHING DEMO IN THE HISTORICAL PARK. 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Watch costumed blacksmith craft various iron pieces. All ages welcome. Free. Drop-in. High Point Museum, 1859 E. Lexington Ave., High Point. Info: (336) 885-1859.

April 25

JIM CLARK POETRY READING. 7 p.m. Clark, who heads the MFA Writing Program at UNCG, presents a multi-disciplinary performance of poetry and stories rooted in the Appalachian foothills and complementary old-time mountain music. Blanche S. Benjamin Branch Library, 1530 Benjamin Parkway, Greensboro. Info: (336) 373-7540 or

April 26

HAIR DO PROJECT’S LIVE EXHIBIT. 5:30 p.m. Through still photography and video, the Hair Do Project explores subjects’ efforts to utilize their hairstyles so their outward appearances align with their inner aspirations. Free and open to the public. The Interactive Resource Center, 407 E. Washington St., Greensboro. Info: www.

SIP & SEE WITH ARTIST CURT BUTLER. 3 – 4:30 p.m. Enjoy light finger foods and refreshments while Gastoniabased artist Curt Butler demonstrates his style of painting. Cost: $20. Tyler White Gallery, 307 State St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 279-1124 or ARTIST RECEPTION. 6 ��� 8 p.m. Curt Butler and Connie Winters. Exhibit on display through May 20. Free and open to the public. Tyler White Gallery, 307 State St. Info: (336) 279-1124 or

April 26–27

April 27

INCREDIBLE PLANT SALE. 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Vegetables and herbs for the garden, plus live music, food, and more. Edible Schoolyard, Greensboro Children’s Museum, 220 N. Church St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 5742898 or POETRY GSO FILM FESTIVAL. 2:30 p.m. Poetic Justice. Janet Jackson and the late Tupac Shakur star in this love story of a poet and a postman. Maya Angelou wrote the poems that pass as those penned by Jackson’s character. Rated R. Hemphill Branch Library, 2301 W. Vandalia Rd., Greensboro. Info: (336) 373-2925 or SWING DANCE. 7:30 – 11:30 p.m. Introductory jitterbug lesson at 7:30 p.m. followed by live swing dance music. No partner or experience necessary. Nonmembers: $10; Members: $8. Greensboro Shrine Club, 5010 High Point Rd., Greensboro. Info: (336) 508 9998 or www.

BEER LOVER’S WEEKEND. Sample six courses paired with six Highland Brewing Company beers at Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen and, if needed, sleep it off at O.Henry Hotel with a Beer Lover’s Weekend Package, breakfast buffet included. Info: (336) 854-2000 or TRIAD HIGHLAND GAMES. Heavy athletics, piping and drumming, Scottish dancing, food vendors, children’s activities, live music and more. Bryan Park, 6275 Bryan Park Rd., Greensboro. Tickets/Info: www.

April 27 & 29

April 26–28

BEL CANTO CONCERT. 8 p.m. (Saturday); 7:30 p.m. (Monday). “Headed Home.” Celebrate our home state with “Greensboro: A Bicentennial Cantata”, composed by Eddie Bass with texts by former North Carolina poet laureate Fred Chappell, and an eclectic program of music featuring a number of other NC composers. Tickets: $20/general admission; $18/seniors; $5/students. Christ United Methodist Church, 410 N. Holden Rd., Greensboro. Info: (336) 333-2220 or

YOUTH POETRY SLAM TOURNAMENT. Over a dozen North Carolina high school and literary teams com-

Somewhere between oooh and aaah!

pete in Louder Than a Bomb, the world’s largest youth poetry festival in the world. Presented by Poet.she, a spoken word and literary non-profit organization that strives to strengthen the female presence in the literary and spoken word community. University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Elliot Center, 1400 Spring Garden St., Greensboro. Info: www.


April 28

ARTIST TALK & OPENING RECEPTION. 2 – 5 p.m. 2013 UNCG MFA Thesis Exhibition. On display in the Falk and Tannenbaum galleries through June 2. Weatherspoon Art Museum, 500 Tate St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 334-5770 or

Friddle and Company, Inc. offers a unique perspective on construction and design with the commitment to raise the standards of custom home building.

April 29

FRIENDS OF THE UNCG LIBRARIES DINNER. 6 p.m. Featuring John Shelton Reed, author of Dixie Bohemia: A French Quarter Circle in the 1920s. Tickets: $50/members; $60/nonmembers. Walter Clinton Jackson Library and the Harold Schiffman Music Library, University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Info: UNCG Box Office at (336) 334-4849 or

We build custom homes from $350,000 to over $1 million and have become known for our attention to detail, creativity and exceptional customer care.

April 30

STOMP IN CONCERT. Compelling and infectious rhythms created by use of trashcans, tea chests, plastic bags, plungers, boots, hubcaps — everything but conventional percussion instruments. War Memorial Auditorium, 1921 W. Lee St., Greensboro. Info: www.greensborocoliseum. com; POETRY GSO FILM FESTIVAL. 6:45 p.m. Tom and Viv. The story of T.S. Eliot and his wife starring William DaFoe and Miranda Richardson. Rated PG-13. Hemphill Branch Library, 2301 W. Vandalia Rd., Greensboro. Info: (336) 373-2925 or CAROLINA CLASSIC MOVIE. 7:30 p.m. To Kill a Mockingbird (1962). Tickets: $6/adults; $5/students, seniors & military. Carolina Theatre, 310 S. Greene St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 333-2605 or

Visit our Parade of Homes entry at 7606 Calmeria Ct. in Arbor Run on April 27-28 & May 4-5 from 1-5 p.m.

gh Friddle and Company, Inc. Michael and Paige Friddle Phone: 404-0160 or 908-0966

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Key: Art Music/Concerts Film Literature/Speakers Sports 1 82Ohenry_April2013.indd O.Henry April 2013

3/11/2013 11:10:53 AM

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Performing arts Fun History

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

April Arts Calendar

April 30–May 4

ARTQUEST TABLE PROJECT. 12:30 – 5 p.m. (April 30–May 2 & 4); 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. (May 3). Color, Grid, Shape, Web. Green Hill Center for NC Art, 200 N. Davie St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 333-7460 or


LIVE MUSIC AT LUCKY 32 SOUTHERN KITCHEN. 6:30 – 9:30 p.m. Skillet Fried Chicken & Songs From a Southern Kitchen. Featuring Chef Jay’s skillet fried chicken, select beverage specials and live music by Laurelyn Dossett and friends. Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen, 1421 Westover Terrace. Info: (336) 370-0707. OPEN MIC COMEDY AT THE IDIOT BOX. 9 p.m. Local pros and amateurs take the mic. Admission: $4 (includes one drink). Idiot Box, 348 S. Elm St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 274-2699.


MUSSELS, WINE & MUSIC. 7 – 10 p.m. Mussels for $15, wines from $10 to $15 a bottle, live acoustic musice by AM rodeo. Print Works Bistro, 702 Green Valley Rd., Greensboro. Info: (336) 379-0699.


JAZZ NIGHT. 7 p.m. Tate Street Coffee House, 334 Tate St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 275-2754.

Fridays & Saturdays

IMPROV COMEDY. 10 p.m. (Fri. and Sat.); 8 p.m. (Sat.). Actors create scenes on-the-spot and build upon the ideas of others. Performances based on suggestions given by the audience; each show is one-of-a-kind. Saturday 8 p.m. show appropriate for the whole family. Tickets: $10/$7(students). Idiot Box, 348 S. Elm St., Greensboro. Info/RSVP: 336-274-BOXX. NIGHTMARES AROUND ELM STREET. 8 p.m. A 90-minute historical candlelit ghost walking tour of Downtown Greensboro. Open Year-Round. Cost: $15/ adults; $13/children 8-12. Children 7 and under are free. Group rates and online discounts available. Info: www.


JAZZ IN THE A.M. 11 a.m. Featuring saxophonist Alex Smith and friends. Tate Street Coffee House, 334 Tate St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 275-2754.

Saturdays & Sundays

KATS: THE MEERKAT MUSICAL. 1 & 3 p.m. The Natural Science Center’s meerkats take center stage. Duration: 30 minutes. Free with admission/membership. Natural Science Center of Greensboro, 4301 Lawndale Drive, Greensboro. Info: (336) 288-3769 or


LIVE MUSIC AT TATE STREET COFFEE. NC Hot Club with Rex Griffin (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) Irish Music (3 – 6 p.m.) Tate Street Coffee House, 334 Tate St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 275-2754. OH

To add an event, e-mail us at by the first of the month prior to the event.

••• • •

Key: Art Music/Concerts Film Literature/Speakers Sports The Art & Soul of Greensboro

• • •

Performing arts Fun History

T RU N K SH OW We d n e s d a y, A p r i l 17 10A M — 6 P M

D ov e r S q u a r e 1616 B a t t l e g ro u n d Av e n u e 3 3 6.8 51.5 025

m a i n a n d tay l o r s h o e s . c o m

April 2013

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A local store for healthy living ◆

◆ Fresh Organic and Local Produce ◆ Café with Hot & Cold Food Bar Fresh Baked Goods ◆ Clean-Raised Meats, Seafood ◆ Dietary Supplements ◆ Beer & Wine, Cheeses ◆ Indoor/Outdoor Dining ◆ and so much more!

NOW OPEN at our new location! Join us for our Grand Opening Celebration on April 20th ! 600 N. Eugene St. • 336.292.9216 • M-Sa 7:30a - 9p; Su 8:30a - 9p

Authorized Dealer for Diabetic Footwear

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84 O.Henry

April 2013

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Simply Meg’s

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

April 2013

O.Henry 85

Treasures - Antiques - Consignments ANTIQUE MARKET PLACE Over 45,000 sq. ft. – Over 150 Dealers

Jewelry Antiques Oriental Rugs Fine Furniture Decorative Accessories & Much More 6428 Burnt Poplar Rd. Greensboro, NC | 336-662-0544

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Mon. – Wed 10-6 Thurs. – Sat 10-8 Sunday 1-6

Sunday 12-6pm (336) 643-6994

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86 O.Henry

April 2013

910.245.3055 or 910.245.3020 The Art & Soul of Greensboro


Anne Daniel, John Graham

Preservation Greensboro symposium on home designer Charles Barton Keen at the Greensboro Country Club on Tuesday, February 19, 2013 Photographs by Sam Froelich Judith Kastner, Alison MacCord

Carol Franklin, Jessie Ogburn Madge Megliolia, Debbie Venter

Jane Levy, Maggie Triplette Anne Bowers, T.G. Daniel

Margot & Decatur Cunningham

Benjamin Briggs, Jackson Smith Ann Sean, Charlie Harris

Gay Dillard, Miles Jones

Prof. Peggy Supplee Smith, Jim Collins

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

April 2013

O.Henry 87

Charmaine Purdum, Greg Harper

Diane & Richard Shope

GreenScene Corks For Kids charity event benefiting Kidspath at Hospice of Greensboro at the Regency Room downtown Friday, March 8th, 2013 Photographs by Sam Froelich Paul & Meghan Davis

Lauren Buchanan, Cameron Batson, Alle Leonard

Dabney & Walker Sanders

Valerie Clasby, Roger Pierce Charlotte Davidson, Paul Russ, Julie Tesh

Sharon & Tim Britt, Lyanne & Rick Roberts Donnie & Mellissa Smith, Katrina Wolley Guilford, Nate Hayes BJ Polux, Sokino Vanstory, Angela Brown

88 O.Henry

April 2013

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Downtown Greensboro

Jewelry • Clothes • Shoes • Home Accessories

803 Hood Place Old Irving Park, Greensboro



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4 Bedrooms 5 Full Baths 3 Half Baths This French Style home has been totally remodeled. It sits on a quiet street overlooking Greensboro Country Club’s Golf Course. It boasts large rooms with Master Retreat, Guest Quarters, 4 Car Garage and Spectacular Grounds.

8 Loch Ridge Ct Provincetown, Greensboro

Taste of Italy Five courses paired with Five half glasses of wine $40 per person Live Jazz every Friday night

S O L D House-made pastas, sauces, desserts using fresh, local ingredients.

6 Bedrooms 5 Full Baths 3 Half Baths Located on a private culde-sac overlooking Buffalo Lake. 11,400 plus sq. ft. High ceilings, custom moldings, hardwood/tile flooring. Master Suite on main with his & her closets. Heated pool, security system, generator.

“CLICK OR CALL… WE DO IT ALL” Xan Tisdale Kay Chesnutt 336-601-2337 336-202-9687

Yost and Little Realty

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

April 2013

O.Henry 89

Summer Camps Recreation Center Day Camps June 10 – August 9 (ages 5-12) 7:30 am-6 pm, Monday-Friday

Develop Skills

Registration ongoing, now until full!

Brown, Craft, Glenwood, Leonard, Lewis, Lindley, Peeler, Trotter, Warnersville, Windsor Scholarships available! To register or for more information, call the recreation center in your area.

Make Friends!

Outdoor Adventure Camp Fishing, archery, kayaking and more!

City Arts: Dance, Drama, Music, Arts, Caldcleugh Multicultural Arts Center

Greensboro Sportsplex Basketball, volleyball, roller hockey, soccer, sports, fitness and more!

Enjoy neighborhood playgrounds, city pools and spraygrounds!


373-CITY (2489)

Music & Movement


Beth & Kevin Farrell (Cary, NC)

ACC Fanfest during the ACC Tournament at the Greensboro Coliseum Friday, March 15, 2013 Photographs by Sam Froelich

Nick Bertocchio, Evan Judge, Philippe Bartholemo (Eastern Shore, MD)

Carey & Hannah Price (Chapel Hill, NC)

Ben Kemp, Cynthia Ahrens-Nelson (Pinehurst, NC) Zoe & Bob Cordell (Durham, NC)

Marty & Sam Block (Charlottesville, NC)

Denise & Roger Lush (Raleigh, NC)

Bentley & Pam Cobb, Diane Clemons, Jeffrey Hayes, Candice Cobb (Richmond, VA) Kelsey Byrd, Rakilli Washington, J. Nicole (Geico Nation)

Jason, Taevyn, & Meghan Elmore (Sanford, NC)

Johnny Weisner (Winston Salem, NC), Caleb Barnhardt (Indian Trail, NC)

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

April 2013

O.Henry 91

summer camps Come check us

out! Open House: Ap ril 21st 9 am-2pm

RealScience Summer 2013!

SAINT PIUS X SUMMER CAMPS We offer summer day camps to rising K-9th graders across the Triad!

Choose from • Sports • Technology • Enrichment • Art • Science • Stage Performance and more!

Explorations for ages 9 – 15

Water, Water Everywhere! July 8th – 12th Potion Science! July 22nd – 26th 336.339.2674




Saint Pius X School 2200 North Elm Street Greensboro, NC 27408 336.273.9865

w ay A r me boro Ballet m s Su reen r G ou of ol

at T Dan he c Sc e y ho

Explorations for ages 4 – 8

r Online T od ste i g

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Kids vs. Wild! June 24th – 28th Molecular Gastronomy! July 15th – 19th Science of Survival! July 29th – August 2nd Upcycling! August 12th – 16th


YMCA camps offer your kids a


chance to have fun while building a healthy spirit, mind and body. Plus, they get to:

Au g

• make new friends • play sports and games • learn funny songs • have fun


• be a kid

SIGN UP NOW! 92 O.Henry

April 2013


• get messy

e1 n u

For ages 3 and up


The Art & Soul of Greensboro

summer camps

Make This Yours NC Teaching Studio AT GREENSBORO DAY SCHOOL, learning is about helping students DISCOVER AND DEVELOP their unique talents and strengths. Boundless opportunities, phenomenal resources, outstanding experiences – they’re here for the taking at GREENSBORO DAY SCHOOL.

Summer Classes in Cooking and Sewing for Kids 9 and up (and Adult “Kids”, too!)


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Or Call


2:59 PM

Hands-on instruction in arts, sciences, and technology Two age groups for classes and activities Recreation, citizenship, and evening entertainment Camper achievements are showcased in the Friday Festival Professional staff provides structure in a relaxed environment

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

April 2013

O.Henry 93

Life’s Funny

Lady Liberty Rocks! Worried about your taxes? Just dance

By Maria Johnson

I’m a sucker for the Statue of Liberty for

Photograph By sam Froelich

a lot of reasons. A) She’s a gift from the French. Say what you will about the Frenchies, but if you look back to the American Revolution, you might note that there would be no good ol’ U.S. of A. if we hadn’t had their help. B) Because Lady Liberty is A), she is unusual. I mean, really, who’d a thunk of sending a giant green lady who stands in the water as a token of appreciation? This falls under the category of Wish I Had Been There When This Was Pitched. Bartholdi to gift committee: “I woood like to geev zee Americains a wooman. A beeg wooman. Wis fire. And zee spikey hat.” Committee: “Wee, wee, wee! A beeg gween wooman! In a bassrobe! Zey will adore!” So there’s that. And there’s this: In 1929, when my dad was 9 years old, his family came over on The Big Boat from Greece. The boat was steaming into New York Harbor and my dad was below deck with his mom when my grandfather came in and told him to put on some nice clothes because there was a lady on deck he wanted my dad to meet. So my dad got dressed and went up top, where my grandfather introduced him to the Statue of Liberty and explained what she stood for. Freedom. Opportunity. A fresh start. All of the things they found on the back of my grandfather’s dry cleaning store in Louisville. And that, in short, is why I contributed a chunk of my meager reporter’s paycheck to the renovation of Lady Liberty in the 1980s. It’s why I have a framed poster of her. And it’s why I love guys like Cornelius “C.T.” Goldston. C.T. is a waver for Liberty Tax Service. That’s right, he’s one of the people who dresses like the Statue of Liberty and stands on the street, waving and dancing, trying to draw attention to the fact that your taxes are due soon, and whaddya know, Liberty Tax can help. I remember the first time I saw a dancing Liberty. It was a few years ago. I was rounding the corner at Holden Road and High Point Road, and there she — I mean he — was. In a foam crown and a green crushed velvet robe. Dancing up a storm. I couldn’t help but laugh. That wasn’t C.T., but that’s the corner where C.T. got his start as Lady Liberty last year. His sister-in-law works for Liberty, and she suggested he try out for a spot. So he auditioned with about ten — yes, ten — other people and got a waver’s job. Midway through the tax season, they moved him to the Spring Garden Street location, which is where I saw him a few weeks ago. Actually, I saw him at the nearby intersection with Aycock Street. His boss would like for him to stay in front of the store, but C.T. says he catches more people at the busy intersection. Plus, he’s not as self-conscious dancing where his co-workers can’t see. “It’s easier to dance when people keep going,” he says. The Art & Soul of Greensboro

At 30, C.T. is a shy guy, a man of few words, and when he does allow them, it’s softly. Also, he’s built like a fire plug, and if you walk up to him cold, he looks like he’d just as soon smack you as look at you. Until he takes his shades off. And smiles. Then you see who he really is. Working as Lady Liberty is not exactly his dream — he plays piano and drums, and he’d love to do something with gospel music — but he didn’t graduate from High Point Central, and he knows his options are limited. He has worked at McDonald’s. And Sonic. And Libby Hill. And now, for a few months a year, at Liberty. He has a following. People honk and wave. They stop and get their pictures taken with him. They send him shout-outs on the radio. There have been a couple of rubber-neck wrecks because people were watching him instead of the road. His boss, Christina Ingram, has no doubt that he has generated business. “He’s kind of like the Liberty waver celebrity,” she says. Like most celebrities, C.T. has his own style. He prefers the new Red Liberty costume designed for business-to-business promotions this year. He wears his foam crown flipped down, which he says looks flee (a newer version of fly), and you’ll never catch him without dark shades and ear buds streaming up-step music. “I like a cool Liberty,” he says. He likes to work, too. C.T. tells the story of a man who stopped as he was driving away from a competitor’s tax-prep office across the street. “I respect you for what you’re doing,” the man said. C.T. caught his meaning: Some people wouldn’t do this for a paycheck. But C.T. would. He thinks of the man’s comment often. It gets him through the unpleasant times. Standing in the rain and snow. Being hit by an egg thrown from passing a car. Being on the receiving end of obscene gestures and insults. He will not repeat the words that some people have said to him. He keeps waving and dancing because he needs money, and even that is dwindling. The company has cut back on waver’s hours. C.T.’s down to one four-hour shift a week now, so he’s looking for something else. Lady Liberty needs work. “If I had to, I’d shovel poo,” C.T. says. “A job is a job.” A cold rain is falling. He pulls his foam crown over a knit cap, slides into gloves, plugs in his music and starts dancing, spinning his hands in front of him to attract attention and stay warm. Within seconds, someone honks, and C.T. flashes that smile. What he won’t tell you, but his boss Christina will, is that recently someone bought C.T. breakfast because C.T. — who could not afford to keep his scooter and now relies on a friend for transportation — had given the guy some money when he was a struggling. Yes, I love the Statue of Liberty for many reasons. OH Maria Johnson likes to think of herself as flee, though in fact, as a keeper of hounds, she is more flea. April 2013

O.Henry 95

O.Henry Ending

Requiem for the Rankin Family By Ogi Overman

Everybody has to have a favorite band. There’s a rule somewhere. Most, I imagine, would be familiar with household, Beatle-esque names. Not mine. Nope, mine would be a group very few folks in the good ol’ U. S. of A. have ever even heard of. Granted, they have a rabid cult following here, and are mega-stars in their home country, but you’ve likely never heard them on the radio or seen them on TV. From that you might surmise that they’re from some faraway land and play some arcane genre known only to ethnomusicologists. Nope again. They play Celtic folk music and are from that obscure netherworld of . . . Canada. More specifically, Nova Scotia — and even more specifically Cape Breton Island. They hail from a village of barely a thousand souls, called Mabou. They are the Rankin Family. I encountered them at my first MerleFest, in 1996, eight years after the hugely successful Americana music festival was launched. Oh, I would’ve fallen in love with MerleFest without the Rankin Family, but without MerleFest, odds are that I would’ve never even heard of the Rankins. Once I set foot on the campus of Wilkes Community College, where the four-day festival is held, there was no turning back; I knew I’d found my musical and spiritual home. But what I had no way of knowing was that I would also find this group of three sisters and two brothers who would sing and dance their way into my heart, never to depart. A photographer friend tipped me off that there was a group that I needed to see. But his breathless description had less to do with the fact that the sisters — Cookie, Raylene and Heather — sang the most angelic three-part harmony this side of the Andrews Sisters and more to do with the fact that they performed a slight variation of Irish step-dancing — think “Riverdance” — known as the Cape Breton two-step. They wore tap shoes and brought a board on stage to amplify the clicks. When they broke into it, the crowd went ballistic. Watching them was truly mesmerizing. But even more mesmerizing were those harmonies. One memory stands out. They sang several of their songs in Gaelic. During one I glanced over at my crew of four guys. There were tears in the eyes of two of them. Now, these were battle-hardened vets of the bluegrass circuit, mind you, guys known to drink rotgut liquor out of a dirty cup on a Sunday morning. But here they were, bawling like babies over a song they couldn’t understand a word of. That’s the power of perfect harmony, brothers and sisters, the universal language.

96 O.Henry

April 2013

After their set I rushed backstage and introduced myself to Cookie and interviewed her on the spot. I wrote my first story on them that week, the first of probably a dozen over the ensuing years for the weekly entertainment tabloid I was editing at the time. My obsession became such that not only did I buy everything they ever recorded, I had three photos of the sisters blown up to eighteen-by-twenty-four and framed. I even joined their fan club, a no-no for a member of the media. Then, on January 16, 2000, the stage went dark. John Morris Rankin, the eldest sibling, pianist and fiddler, died. He was taking his son and two of his teammates to a hockey game when his truck hit a patch of ice and careened into a fjord. He pulled all three of the kids to safety, but by then hypothermia had set in and he drowned. I remember tears falling on my keyboard as I wrote the story. For years afterward, when MerleFest announced the lineup for the next year, I prayed for a miracle, that somehow my heroes would regroup and return. Then, in 2007, it seemed that my prayers were answered. John Morris’ daughter, Molly, joined the band and they began touring and recording again. But, for whatever reasons, they never played MerleFest again. Still, I never gave up hope. Until now. In January, I happened to run into a couple from Nova Scotia. It took all of no time for the conversation to turn to the Rankins. As I was regaling them with my longstanding love affair with their favorite sons and daughters, the lady looked at me plaintively and said, “You haven’t heard, have you?” After a long battle with breast cancer, Raylene Rankin passed away September 30, 2012. This 26th annual renewal of MerleFest will mark the first after Doc’s passing. There will be tributes every day from every stage, as well there should be. Amid the music and laughter and camaraderie and fellowship, there will be tears. A few of them will be mine. But for a different reason. OH Ogi Overman has been a reporter, columnist and editor for a number of Triad publications since 1984. He is currently the editor of the Jamestown News and is compiling a book of his columns, to be titled A Doughnut and a Dream. Illustration by Harry Blair

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

0912-00121 09/2012

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April 2013 O.Henry