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New Anterior Approach for Total Hip Replacement This technique offers a patient less pain and scarring as well as an anticipated shorter recovery time.

M A G A Z I N E Volume 4, No. 8 “I have a fancy that every city has a voice.” 336.617.0090 1848 Banking Street Greensboro, NC 27408 www.ohenrymag.com Jim Dodson, Editor jim@ohenrymag.com Andie Stuart Rose, Creative Director andie@ohenrymag.com David Claude Bailey, Senior Editor dbailey@ohenrymag.com Lauren Shumaker, Graphic Designer Kira Schoenfelder, Graphic Designer Contributing Editors Cynthia Adams, Harry Blair, Maria Johnson, Jim Schlosser Contributing Photographers Lynn Donovan, Sam Froelich, John Gessner, Hannah Sharpe

Matthew D. Olin, MD

is a fellowship trained hip surgeon with extensive experience performing direct anterior total hip replacement surgery. To schedule an appointment with Matthew D. Olin, MD to determine if this surgery is for you. Call: 336.545.5030

Contributors Anthony S. Abbott, Barbara Black, Jane Borden, Emily Frazier Brown, Susan Campbell, Wiley Cash, Porter Chamblee, Brianna Rolfe Cunningham, Angela Davis-Gardner, Jenny Drabble, Clyde Edgerton, Laurel Holden, Virginia Holman, Burns Jones, Sara King, Brian Lampkin, Meridith Martens, Jill McCorkle, Logie Meachum, Ruth Moose, Mary Novitsky, Nancy Oakley, Ogi Overman, Drew Perry, Sandra Redding, Dana Sachs, Noah Salt, Jim Schlosser, Lee Smith, Stephen E. Smith, Bob Wickless, Lee Zacharias

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David Woronoff, Publisher Advertising Sales Marty Hefner, Sales Director 336.707.6893, mhefner@ohenrymag.com Hattie Aderholdt, 336.601.1188 Amy Grove, 336.456.0827 Circulation Darlene Stark, Circulation Director 910.693.2488 Advertising Graphic Design 910.693.2469, lauren@ohenrymag.com Judi Hewett, Graphic Designer

For more information about Dr. Olin and surgery visit www.greensborohipandkneesurgeon.com

Subscriptions Dana Martin 336.617.0090, dana@ohenrymag.com ©Copyright 2014. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited. O.Henry Magazine is published by The Pilot LLC

4 O.Henry

August 2014

The Art & Soul of Greensboro


keynote speaker

Lauren Bush Lauren

Lauren Bush Lauren co-founded FEED Projects seven years ago and now serves as its CEO. Through the sale of products attached to measurable donations, in partnership with companies like Whole Foods Market, Barnes & Noble, the Gap, Bergdorf Goodman, Lord & Taylor and more, FEED has provided over 75 million meals globally through World Food Programme and Feeding America and has supported nutrition programs around the world through UNICEF. For her work with FEED, Lauren was named one of Fortune Magazine’s Most Powerful Women Entrepreneurs in 2009 and one of Inc. Magazine’s 30 Under 30 in 2010. Lauren has spoken at global conferences that focus on business, philanthropy and the issues of hunger and poverty, including Forbes 400 Summit on Philanthropy, Forbes Women, Women in the World, Women in Entrepreneurship and Politico. Lauren is also recognized for her well-known family, as she is the daughter of Neil and Sharon Bush, niece and granddaughter of two former U.S. presidents, George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush, and wife of David Lauren, the son of fashion mogul Ralph Lauren.

WOMENinPHILANTHROPY LUNCHEON to benefit

YOU’RE INVITED TO JOIN US for United Way’s 4th Annual Women in Philanthropy Luncheon to celebrate the power of women and impact of philanthropy in Greater Greensboro. Hosted by United Way’s Women’s Leadership Council Presented by VF Corporation Sponsored by Global Brands Group

TICKETS ON SALE NOW $55 per guest. includes lunch and an exclusive FEED tote bag.

Register by August 27 at www.UnitedWayGSO.org/rsvp or contact Julie Longmire by phone at 336-378-5023.

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UNITED WAY OF GREATER GREENSBORO

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 3, 2014 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Registration begins 11:00 a.m. Lunch served at 11:30 a.m.

Grandover Resort & Conference Center 1000 Club Road, Greensboro Please help those in need in our community. Bring a non-perishable food item to the event to help fill the pantry at The Salvation Army Center for Hope.

EVENT & TABLE SPONSORSHIPS AVAILABLE Sponsorships are available now. To learn about event and table sponsorships, please contact Julie Longmire at julie.longmire@unitedwaygso.org or 336-378-5023.


August 2014 Features

s Indoors 62 The Mysteriou By Dana Sachs

53 Crabbing

s Poetry by Bob Wickles

ernoon 63 Summer Aft

ts Summer Shor ue g Our annual readin iss

By Lee Zacharias

e of a Different Life 54 The Fragranc By Anthony S. Abbott

and 55 The Grandst

By Clyde Edgerton an Moth By Virginia Holm

56 Luna 57 Blasphemy

By Stephen Smith

ovels 58 Swimming N ner

By Angela Davis-Gard y Cash The Body By Wile

59

By Lee Smith 60 Back Then r By Ruth Moose 61 Benji’s Mothe

Days 64 The Bad Old By Drew Perry

mer Close 65 Keeping Sum By Jill McCorkle

Smells Like Love 66 A House that By Maria Johnson “old school” Breadmaking and other rnwallis house of ways make the West Co a living ray Ninevah and Dan Mur emaking m ho of art e lesson in th

ac 79 August Alman

By Noah Salt d feasts Why we need August an at the beach

ams Friend By Cynthia Ad 33 Lunch with a Ogi Overman 37 Game On By Susan Campbell 41 Birdwatch By Jim Schlosser 43 Street Level By

ts Departmen

By Jim Dodson 9 Simple Life s 12 Short Storie n Jane Borden e By Emily Frazier Brow 49 Life of Jane By 15 The City Mus alendar nment August C ai rt a Johnson te ari n M E By & y s n rt A un 74 17 Life’s F eachum M gie rive Lo By e if L 85 Worth the D 19 Pleasures of ith Sm E. n s Reader By Stephe 88 GreenScene 21 Omnivorou trid Stellanova l Astrologer By As ta en Brian Lampkin id By cc lf A he 5 ks 9 oo 24 B ra Redding rns Jones s Notebook By Sand enry Ending By Bu r’ te .H ri O W 6 . 9 .C N 9 2 Black oirs 2014 By Barbara em M r de ea R t es 31 B

A Cover Photograph by Hannah Sharpe

6 O.Henry

August 2014

nniversaries provide a natural moment to pause and reflect. Here at O.Henry magazine we’re happy to report that our brand of rich and soulful storytelling — our visual and literary love affair with the Gate City — seems to resonate more powerfully than ever with our readers. This issue marks our third anniversary, or as we prefer to think of it, the start of our best year yet. To readers and advertisers alike, we’d simply like to say thank you for being an integral part of our growing family. Our goal from the first issue has been to bring you the finest writers and artists this amazing city has to offer — and stories you won’t soon forget. We think our famous namesake would be pleased with how we’re doing so far, and might even raise his glass for a toast. We, in turn, raise our glass to you. — Jim Dodson The Art & Soul of Greensboro


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Simple Life

Beautiful Killers

By Jim Dodson

Come the end of August, dragon-

Illustration by Laurel Holden

flies will begin to disappear from the garden. Their lease, like summer’s, is far too brief. I always hate to see them go.

The other evening I was watering my parched perennial bed when a pair of iridescent blue dragonflies zoomed up out of nowhere, performing a delightful pas de deux in the gentle spray of my hose. Though I don’t know my dragonflies as well as I probably ought to, I believe these were a male (blue) and female (green) Eastern pondhawks on a dinner date. According to a recent piece in The New York Times, new research shows dragonflies may be the keenest hunters in the animal kingdom, snatching and devouring 95 percent of their prey on the wing — not bad, notes The Times writer, for a dainty insect that belongs to the short-list of insects most people like, alongside ladybugs and butterflies, resembling flying “bubble bath or costume jewelry.” Equipped with compound eyes that are believed to be the sharpest in the insect world, and dual sets of wings that flap only thirty times a second (compared to a bee’s 300) enabling a dragonfly to stop mid-flight and move in all directions at will, these ancient acrobats are believed to be the swiftest predators in the air, capable of reaching speeds of 35 mph or higher, which perhaps accounts for their voracious eating habits and need to consume up to thirty house flies or mosquitoes in an hour, all while in flight. For this simple reason alone we should honor these beautiful killers of summer, which prey on any number of stinging and annoying insects that make being outside for a lowly human on a fine summer evening sometimes more painful than it’s worth. Despite their fearsome optics, dragonflies actually can’t sting humans or animals, though in their aquatic nymph form — which takes up well over half their lives — they can indeed deliver a sharp but harmless bite. The research team that determined the dragonfly’s impressive flying and eating habits also points out that their sophisticated nervous systems can The Art & Soul of Greensboro

lock on and track specific targets through clouds of other flying insects with such impressive skill that a mosquito or house fly rarely sees the creature that swallowed it whole. The public clamor over the growing use of unmanned aircraft or drones by military and private commercial entities — promoting drones as an efficient way to deliver everything from intel on natural disasters to FedEx packages but raising significant concerns about the right to privacy — takes on an interesting new level of meaning when you learn that our military studied the killing efficiency and acrobatic brilliance of dragonflies for decades in order to decipher how they operate so efficiently. A dragonfly’s brain, it turns out, may be the closest thing in the insect world to our own, the ultimate onboard computer designed for hunting and gathering — only better. Then again, as a species they predate us on this Earth by hundreds of thousands of years, dating from the carboniferous period 300 million years ago when dinosaurs roamed the Earth and at least one species of dragonfly, long extinct, was two or three feet in length and weighed approximately the same amount as a medium-sized dog. Dragonflies belong to a relative small order of species called Odonata, which translates to mean “toothed ones,” a reference to the serrated mandibles that crush their prey to a pulp on the fly, with just 7,000 different species that includes their related cousins, the lesser-winged damselflies. Species of butterflies and bees, by comparison, number in the tens of thousands. The fearsome name derives from ancient lore that dragonflies were indeed the progeny of flying dragons. In some places — the bush of Australia, for instance — dragonflies were considered (incorrectly) tormentors of horses and livestock, capable of delivering poisonous stings, while in medieval Sweden some believed they were sent by evil spirits to weigh the souls of unhappy people. August 2014

O.Henry 9


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Simple Life Most cultures welcome them, though, as signs of vibrancy and good health. In China they’ve long been regarded as symbols of spiritual harmony and prosperity; in Japan, chosen by the Samurai warriors as symbols of courage and integrity, perfect creatures balanced in nature. The Irish see them as the winged transport of fairies. They enter our dreams and our gardens displaying a curiosity that prompted some to believe they might actually be messengers or angels in insect form. One common interpretation holds that dreaming about dragonflies — symbols of beautiful movement and grace — means your life is about to change. A dragonfly’s life is a study in transformation. Most of it is spent in nymph form under the surface of the water, sucking up nutrients like mad until it achieves pupae form and eventually sheds its skin before flying away for a surprisingly brief time, rarely living more than a month or two longer. Perhaps its only consolation for such brevity of life are its remarkable flying skills, intelligence and fragile beauty. Having said this, several species have been known to fly 10,000 miles across India and Africa in search of a mate — the real purpose

of their glorious colorings and acrobatic skills. Dragonfly love lasts only few seconds and often takes place, impressively, on the wing. The female lays her eggs in warm freshwater shallows and the males venture off to eat and soon die, a story as old as time itself. Several years ago I was bass fishing on a lake late on a drowsy summer afternoon when a small squadron of iridescent blue dragonflies came out of nowhere and swarmed my boat, circling and whizzing by the end of my nose and the end of my casting rod, before zooming off in perfect formation. I’d never seen anything like it, a jaw-dropping airshow of synchronized flying worthy of the Blue Angels themselves. One of the performers even briefly alighted on my lowhanging fishing rod, seemingly as curious about the creature at the other end of the rod as I was about it. Just then a huge bass lurched brazenly from the water, just missing his prey, who darted away in the nick of time. Last evening, after a rain shower cooled off a very hot afternoon, I had a second chance to study a dragonfly up close and personal, stepping out near dusk in a rush to meet my wife for an early movie only to find a lone pondhawk dive-

bombing the upper garden birdbath. I decided it must be the same courting male I’d been watching all week. But the beautiful green female was nowhere to be seen. As I watched, the blue male perched on the edge of the birdbath and let me come close enough to actually get a look into his extraordinary translucent eyes, curious what I might see there. Pride of a new dragonfly papa? Or maybe the grief of a beautiful killer who knows his duty is done, his time left on this Earth is measured only in days or weeks — perhaps even hours? Time, wrote James Thurber, is for dragonflies and angels — the former live too little and the latter live too long. If nothing else, as summer wanes and the days begin to shorten, the dragonflies of my garden remind me to pause and take note of this world’s passing beauty before it vanishes too — and takes us with it. Which may explain why, after a moment of sizing me up, the beautiful blue dragonfly zoomed away to dine on a few dozen delicious mosquitoes on the moist evening air before life, beautiful life, got away from him. OH Contact editor Jim Dodson at jim@ohenrymag.com

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August 2014

O.Henry 11


Short Stories

In the Grove

Mary or Jesse?

American painter Henry Ossawa Tanner thought the world of his wife, Jesse Olsson. Actually, he thought the heavens of her. As he set out to paint the Virgin Mary in 1908, he modeled Mary exactly after his wife, posed in reserved sophistication. “Mary’s not presented as ostentatious or loud, which goes along with the teachings in the Bible that those who are modest will be rewarded in heaven,” says Elaine Gustafson, curator of the Shouts of Joy and Victory: Jewish and Christian Imagery from the Collection, on display until October 12. “It’s a contemplative image that has a quiet strength like many in the exhibit.”  Anticipating, yawn, oldy-moldy boring religious art? True to the Weatherspoon Art Museum’s mantra, the exhibit is a spiritual whirlwind of contemporary art illustrating Judaic and Christian stories ranging from Adam and Eve to the Virgin of Guadalupe. One could say it, too, is heavenly. Info: (336) 3345770 or weatherspoon.uncg.edu.  JD

With a growing reputation as an outdoor music venue, Grove Winery — located near Gibsonville in eastern Guilford County — continues its summer concert series on August 15 with country balladeer Michael Ken and, later in August on the 31st, with folk musicians Bruce Piephoff and Scott Sawyer. Wine & Song starts at 6 p.m. both days, rain or shine. Admission: $10. Wine and beer are available for purchase, and local vendors sell food. Table seating is limited, so pack a blanket and chairs and head over early to stake out a good view of Lake Cabernet. Our recommendation is to pass on tasting the lake, but do try the Grove’s 2012 Estate Merlot and their 2011 Malbec, both of which received scores of 88 by the Beverage Tasting Institute. See grovewinery.com for other events, including a recurring food truck rodeo on the second Sunday of each month. PC

Iron Dolley

Former first lady Dolley Madison spent only her infancy in Guilford County — she was born to Quaker parents in the New Garden community — but she’s still celebrated here for her grown-up hospitality and grace under fire. Literal fire. At 3 p.m. on August 24, the O.Henry Hotel will host a high tea in honor of the woman who hastily arranged for the rescue of White House treasures — including a fulllength portrait of George Washington — just before the British torched the joint during the War of 1812, our second major run-in with the blokes. Greensboro Historical Museum director Carol Hart and community historian Linda Evans will provide the play-by-play of that anxious August night in 1814 when Dolley, an extraordinary hostess and the wife of fourth president James Madison, switched gears from expecting forty people for dinner to anticipating a whole lot more unwanted guests. “I confess,” Dolley wrote her sister later, “that I was so unfeminine as to be free from fear.” No cream puff, this one. Reservation deadline August 8. Tickets $30. Tables $200: 336-373-2306 or greensborohistory.org. MJ

Seeing China in a Whole New Light

At Greenhill’s Light on China exhibit, you’ll begin to see the bustling super-power nation in a whole new light. Revel in the as-yet-unseen as the exhibit, on display until September 6, offers a “peek behind the scenes of stereotype,” defying expectations. Belgian-born Chicago photographer Jerome De Perlinghi never dreamed he would find children playing Monopoly in Communist Shanghai: “It was quite funny to see these kids playing a capitalistic game right in the heart of the small streets and backyards of the Old City,” he says. The captivating image was the fruit of traversing fourteen hours a day for several months back in 1987. “Even in a large city like Shanghai, there were few foreigners.” De Perlinghi found it was easy to get lost and surprise inhabitants by his presence. “The reward would be shooting a scene like this,” he says of this unforeseen gem. Join the five photographers, including David M. Spear, at a round-table discussion August 17 at 2 p.m. Info: (336) 333-7460  or greenhillnc.org. JD

12 O.Henry

July 2014

Rising Stars

For all of you aspiring stars looking to nail your next audition, Community Theatre of Greensboro is offering a Musical Theatre Audition Workshop on Thursday, August 7, 7–9:30 p.m. Acting coach Mitchel Sommers, vocal coach Garrett Saake and accompanist Aaron Shows will share their insights on what to wear, how to present yourself, how to choose the best song for your voice and how to absolutely dazzle the director. If you aren’t ready for the big stage yet, check out another CTG event: The Broadway Sing-Along . . . Where YOU are the Stars!! on Thursday, August 14 at 7 p.m. Bring your best shower voice and get ready to belt out some of Broadway’s best. www.ctgso.org or 336-333-7469. PC The Art & Soul of Greensboro


Sauce of the Month

I’m proud to say I’ve raised two chili-heads, one of whom lived in Mexico and, like her dad, loves things hot and salty, with the occasional sour note. Sugar? Save it for margaritas and dessert. My younger child takes after her mother. She loves sweet — and gravitates toward chutneys, relishes, pepper jelly, sweet Thai chili sauce, Memphis bourbon-and-molasses-inflected rib sauces and, ugh, even Sweet Baby Ray’s. I brought her home a bottle of Thomas Gourmet Foods Sweet and Smoky Lip Lickin’ BBQ Sauce thinking I’d test her limits. She loved it — on ribs, on chicken, on burgers — you name it. I thought it was good on fries. I guess you could call it Eastern N.C. meets West. I call it ketchup meets sugar, with a hint of vinegar and notes of smoke and Worcestershire sauce. I watched, and, yes, as advertised, she licked her lips. thomasgourmetfoods.com DCB

Sharing the Harvest

If scooping up fresh produce is one of the highlights of your Saturday morning, consider sharing the joy through Farmer Foodshare. Since June, the Greensboro Farmers Curb Market has become a collection site for the nonprofit organization that’s determined to do something about local hunger. It also helps farmers get a little bit more cash for their crops. Market-goers purchase items, such as a cantaloupe or a few extra tomatoes, and drop them off at the donation station. Or you can make a direct donation, which will be used to buy additional produce from vendors. At market’s end, some of the goods will go to Mary’s House, a transitional home for women recovering from substance abuse. Other produce will be delivered to Hot Dish and Hope, First Presbyterian Church’s meal program feeding the hungry every Tuesday and Thursday evening. Any food left over goes to Share the Harvest of Guilford County, which collects produce from local gardeners and gives it to families in need. Homegrown vegetables and homegrown generosity: What could be better? Info: www.farmerfoodshare.org HS

HBTY

Happy birthday to you Wyndham Championship, no matter what they’ve called you over your 75 years — Greater Greensboro Open, K-Mart Greater Greensboro Open, Greater Greensboro Chrysler Classic, Chrysler Classic of Greensboro and, finally, the Wyndham Championship. But may we also wish our own Jim Schlosser happy 61! Not in terms of birthdays, but in the number of years he’s successively attended Greensboro’s greatest golf tournament. As a reporter for the News & Record and then columnist for O.Henry, Jim has kept us entertained and informed with his keen grasp of historical details. “When I subtract 1938 from 2014 I get 76. Also, there was no tournament in 1943 and 1944 during the peak of World War II,” he says. Jim also recalls a time when “there were no corporate tents or grandstands or elaborate press facilities. Spectators walked or brought their own seats, or sat on the grass or in portable seats brought from home. Concession stands were in funeral home tents.” And Jim seems to remember “a scoreboard with the tournament leaders mounted on the back of a truck that rode around the course.” Jim interviewed some big stars during past pro-am tournaments, including Don Knotts, Jerry Lewis, Glenn Campbell and Ernest Borgnine. Look for him on the job Wyndham week, beginning with a pro-am on Monday, August 11, and another on Wednesday, August 12,  with practice rounds beginning on Tuesday, August 12. The tournament officially begins on Thursday, August 14, and concludes on Sunday, August 17. And we’re with Wyndham: 75 sounds so much better than 76. Info: www.wyndhamchampionship.com DCB

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Ogi Sez Ogi Overman So you think it’s hot outside? Wait till you see the sizzling August entertainment lineup. Don’t even think about winding down those lazy, hazy, crazy days just yet.

• August 3, Lindley Park: The Music for a Sunday Evening in the Park series continues though August, beginning the month with bands fronted by Allison King and Rob Massengale. Allison is slowly being coaxed out of retirement, but Rob, like his dad, Burt, will have to be dragged kicking and screaming off the stage. • August 4, then August 15, Greensboro Coliseum: Baby boomers take heart, this is almost too good to be true. Steely Dan on the 4th; Crosby, Stills & Nash two weeks later on the 15th. As our grandkids would say, OMG! • August 8, Triad Stage: The magical, mystical Molly McGinn is at it again. The songstress has put together Postcards from the Swamp, a multimedia homage to the Great Dismal. Besides her original music, the Southern oeuvre combines video (produced by the great Harvey Robinson), photos and an e-book. • August 9, Turntable: Trust me on this one. Ease over to Jamestown for Curtis Eller’s American Circus. Unique doesn’t even come close; their website does: “They specialize in banjo music for funerals, gospel tunes for atheists and novelty dance fads for amputees.” Told ya. •August 26, Blind Tiger: Addicted to the HBO series True Detective? Catch the duo that does the theme song, “Far From Any Road,” at the ever-popular BT. They are the Handsome Family. And, yes, they are. OO August 2014

O.Henry 13


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The City Muse

Sunday On Elm Soothing quiet and a lovely scent of tea

By Emily Frazier Brown

My brakes

Photograph by lynn donovan

squeak to a stop, reminding me that I intended to get my car inspected a week ago. I add that to my list — right behind groceries, before canceling our cable subscription. The ground beneath me begins to weakly shake and a slow rumbling sound picks up in the distance — a screeching whistle calling out to nearby walkers: The train is leaving from its temporary stall downtown. A young mother jerks her preteen son away from the tracks by his shirt, but I can’t hear over the chugging sound of the machine picking up speed on its way out of town, so she’s either perturbed about her lack of morning coffee or her son took an extra piece of toffee.

I’m too distracted by the list of tasks I have to finish in the next week. And then I pull open the door to Scuppernong Books, and the light, soothing fragrance of green tea welcomes me in to Elm Street’s; sancutary of good books, caffeinated beverages and delicate pastries. I’ve forgotten most of my worries by the time I wrap my fingers around the mug, noticing their playful-looking fox mascot surrounding the typography of their store name with his bushy tail. Sunday mornings on Elm Street aren’t usually busy, but there’s enough foot traffic for coffee and brunch that you can seamlessly slip into the same stressful hustling as any weekday, forgetfully jaywalking from one errand to the next, hoping you remembered to pay at the parking meter. Scuppernong Books isn’t in the business of reminding us of our errands. Children’s books, fantasy books, books made into movies, travelers’ diaries, memoirs and a “local” section that varies from popular North Carolina beverages to a detailed account of an infamous showdown between the Ku Klux Klan and the Communist Party in downtown Greensboro are just a few of the offerings to help us escape whatever burden we brought through the door with us. But it doesn’t stop there. Sunday mornings in Scuppernong Books, 304 South The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Elm Street, are quiet. Though not officially open and fully operational until noon, it’s exceptionally quiet for a store that has bodies in it. Purposefully quiet. At 9 a.m. every Sunday, an organized group practicing silent meditation meets at Scuppernong Books for an event known as Gate City Zen. The group has met for four years in the Triad, led by Denise Gabriel, but they started coming together at the independent bookseller this January. Denise has just over thirty years of experience with meditation and sensory awareness and has shared her teachings in Colorado, Massachusetts and a Zen center in Chapel Hill. For many, meditation is spiritual. Denise herself formally trained with Buddhist Zen leaders in the United States and abroad, and in 2009, returned to the Hokyoji monastery in Japan to participate in the ritual for receiving the Buddhist vows, formally taking refuge in the faith group. But being comfortable in silence is a skill that must be learned, and a taste that must be acquired, as opposed to something that is naturally developed through childhood. Our lives are busy, fast-paced, technologically driven and made up of noise. The number of seconds that the average person can sit in silence has dramatically decreased between baby boomers and millennials, making Zen meditation a popular retreat whether or not somebody has a spiritual connection to Buddhism. Each of us can benefit from developing a spiritual connection with our mind, uninhabited by pettiness left behind from conflict or the inevitable stress of uncompleted tasks. For a small window of time, Scuppernong Books is host to a world of nothing but rhythmic breathing and the distant smell of a cup of a tea. Soon, their doors will open and late risers or churchgoers will bustle in for a glass of wine or to poke around the bookshelves, children will play at the intermittent activity stations, a prose reading or local musician may be performing in the back of the store, and the newly wrapped chocolate croissants will be devoured by people on their way to or from whatever obligations are clogging up their last reprieve from the impending workweek. Trains will chug along, creating waves in the mimosas of brunch-goers sitting outside. Brakes will squeak, emails will light up our smartphones and laundry will beckon us home. But those things can wait until the afternoon. Sunday morning is a purposefully calm and undisturbed quiet in Scuppernong Books. OH Emily Frazier Brown, a resident of Greensboro, will only rise early for green tea and pastries. August 2014

O.Henry 15


Life’s Funny

Let Me En-Lighten You Our bright bulb explains it all

By Maria Johnson

Starting with

this month’s issue of O.Henry, I will periodically engage in dialogues with myself regarding timely topics. Today, we (I) discuss the sorry state of light bulbs in this country.

Q: Maria, can you explain the different kinds of light bulbs that are currently on the market? A: No. You need a Ph.D. to understand light bulbs these days. Q: How about a basic primer? A: Well, if you insist. Q: What does CFL stand for? A. Constantly Flickering Light. Q: Doesn’t it stand for Compact Fluorescent Light? A. That’s one theory. Most people accept that CFLs are filled with lightning bugs, and that’s why they go on, off, on, off and perform poorly in cold weather. But yes, a few rogue scientists claim that CFLs are really tubes filled with gas that glows when it’s hit with an electrical current. Q: Is it true that most husbands see nothing wrong with these tremendously ugly light bulbs, which look like pigs’ tails, and that they would, in fact, put CFLs in the most decorative lighting fixtures, then stand back and say, “There. That looks pretty good.”? A: Yes. Q: What does LED stand for? A. Lights Emulating Death. If you ever want your home to have that died-in look, I heartily recommend LED lights. The whole place will be bathed in pale, bluish light and look like a morgue. Q: Isn’t it possible to get LED lights that mimic the warmth of incandescent lights? A: No. Q: What about LED Christmas lights? Don’t LED Christmas lights save a lot of energy? A: No, because people like me go out and buy 500 strings of LED lights trying to get the oomph of just one string of good ol’ incandescent lights. Also, I’m pretty sure Jesus is ticked off about people celebrating his birthday with wussy LED lights — not that he’s the kind of guy who’d complain. “Hey, Jesus, we’re going to stick a paper match in your cake instead of a candle. That OK?” “Uh, yeah, I guess.” Lightning bolt. Flood. Pestilence. Q. Can you explain the difference between kelvins, watts and lumens? A: Yes, and I have devised a system to remember this information, which I The Art & Soul of Greensboro

will share with you now. Watts measure how much power a light bulb uses. Watts is also where Fred Sanford lived. Fred Sanford was very animated and expended a lot of energy. “Did you hear that, Elizabeth? I’m comin’ to join you, honey.” Therefore, a light bulb with lots of watts will use a lot of energy. A kelvin — or K — is a measure of how warm or cool the color of a light appears. It’s also the root of the word Kelvinator, which, as your granny knows, was a brand of refrigerator. Therefore, a light bulb with lots of kelvins gives off a cold light. Lumens measure how bright a bulb appears. It also sounds like lemons, which are bright and sunny. So a bulb with lots of lumens appears very bright and sunny. Feel free to clip and save this guide: Watts = Fred Sanford = energy. Kelvins = refrigerator = cold. Lumens = lemons = bright. Q: What about all of the old uses for incandescent light bulbs? A. I’m glad you asked about this because while I am all for saving energy, yada, yada, yada, I am very concerned about the groups that have benefited from incandescent bulbs. One group is unborn baby chicks. How will anyone hatch a fertilized egg in a shoebox without an incandescent bulb? I speak for the peep-less. Another underserved group is child spies. As every former and current child spy knows, letters written with invisible ink (aka lemon juice) becomes visible when the letters are held over a hot bulb and the “ink” yellows. Without incandescent bulbs, the under-age espionage business is in jeopardy. Closely related to child spies are your Easy-Bake Oven chefs. My sources tell me that the incandescent bulbs in Easy-Bake Ovens have already been replaced with halogen lights, which do not produce as much heat, meaning that EasyBake cookies and cakes will be soggier than ever — if that is physically possible. And finally, I would like to speak out on behalf of the student groups that have, for years, made money by selling light bulbs. I understand that these groups are now selling CFLs instead of incandescent bulbs, which must make for some interesting conversations at the front door. Student: “Would you like to buy some light bulbs so the band can afford new uniforms?” Homeowner: “Oh, I’m sorry. I just installed LED bulbs. Come back in twenty years.” OH Maria Johnson blows a circuit every time she thinks about how she threw out her multi-colored, C-9 outdoor Christmas lights in favor of LED lights. Contact her at maria@ohenrymag.com. August 2014

O.Henry 17


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A Poem with Sistah

Pleasures of Life

Remembering Maya Angelou By Logie Meachum

Sistah, by nature, was towering

and powerful. She was a one-woman storm who could bring thunder, lightning, pouring rain, rainbows and bright sunshine all in one day. She was poetry in motion and song and dance down to her bone, Calliope and Lyssa in one brown and elegant frame. Always, she was present in the moment, and always she was lucid and strong. If she was too weak to say a word, you could see in her eyes that she meant business. You didn’t cross Sistah, accidentally or otherwise. I saw Maya get upset more than once, and it was frightening. In the early ’90s, I was proud to be the director of The Drama Guild at Winston-Salem State University. Several of my students were participating in one of Maya’s touring shows. They all were excited about working with her, and I thought it was a marvelous opportunity for them. At the end of one tour, students were staying in hotel rooms because Maya said they would be going out again soon. So they stayed and paid for the hotel rooms with their own money. This went on for weeks. Soon, the students were broke, but Maya insisted that they stay put, and they didn’t dare budge. They came to me to sell their watches, clothes, radios, microwaves and anything else they could. I bought what I could afford, until one day I loaded up my car with all their wares and drove to Maya’s to get my money back. I brought along a fifth of Courvoisier to oil the business of the evening. Sistah could put away some cognac back in the day. I once saw Ruby Dee fall up some stairs while trying to keep up with her. My visit was just about as painful. By the time the bottle was half-empty, our points of view had grown further apart. Somewhere around my fourth shot and second beer, I brought up the students. “If they are waiting on you, why don’t you take care of them and give me my money back?” I said. It was not long until she was marching me toward the door with arms spread. “Get the hell out!” she roared. Years later, I got invited to Toni Morrison’s Pulitzer Prize party held at Maya’s house. Dr. Elwanda Ingram invited me. She and Maya had worked together on the National Black Theater Festival. Maya respected Elwanda, so I thought I might be safe. I actually thought Maya might have forgotten about me. The evening was a spectacle. Every time someone of note came in, everyone would get up and run to the middle of the floor to greet the new arrival. There were Amiri Baraka, Angela Davis, Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson, and too many other luminaries to name. I sat back-to-back with Oprah Winfrey. She was looking good in a white lace short dress, black back-seam stockings, sexy pumps and that Beatles cut that she sported in those days when she was fine and thick as a $10 milkshake. All those famous folks were something to see, but they were disrupting the flow of roast beef for the commoners amongst us. I promised a white lady at my table that I would refresh her plate. I left the table The Art & Soul of Greensboro

for a moment and went back to the kitchen, where I actually knew people . . . the waiters, the students, the caterers. Laden with roast beef, I came back to the banquet and joined my friend. At that moment Maya was herding people into another tent to hear a young musical talent that she had discovered. My friend and I lingered at the back of the crowd. That’s when my friend teased me that I had abandoned her for too long to get the roast beef and didn’t love her anymore. “Not true,” I replied. “I would shave a lion’s ass in a telephone booth for you.” My friend burst into laughter. Maya quickly figured out who was disturbing the concert. “Get the hell out!” she ordered me once again. I was hugging my companion, and Maya couldn’t tell who my partner in crime was, but when our embrace broke up, Maya recognized her, and, honey, did she change. That was when I knew my newfound friend must be rich. I later found out that she, like Maya, was a big whig at Wake Forest University. Unlike Maya, she gave her check back to the school. Maya started bragging on me, reciting my biography to her colleague. She pleasantly bid us both to have a good time. That sweet little dumpling of a white woman saved my ass that night. I was stunned that Maya actually knew who I was. I was having fun but decided that, indeed, it may be best for me to go home. On the way out, I had to take one more look at Angela Davis in a short black dress. Ump, Ump, Ump. Beautiful, I tell you. I did not see Sistah again until about seven years later, when her two-limo caravan descended on a park in downtown Winston-Salem. It was the celebration of her 80th birthday. People had been waiting and listening to the Winston-Salem State University Jazz Ensemble play some of the best horns I’d heard in a long time. When Sistah stepped from the limo, I was moved by how feeble she was. When she got to the stage, I grabbed her by the arms and helped her to her seat. As we waited for the festivities to formally begin, Maya’s microphone dropped to the floor. I picked it up and adjusted it. In front of the whole city of Winston-Salem, she said, “I’m so glad you still love me.” I looked into her eyes, and those windows to her soul were wide and sparkling. “I’ll always love you, Sistah, always,” I said. Later that evening at a party in the City Club, my wife and children got a chance to spend some time talking with her. She was amazed at how well my boys knew Spanish. She tested them. Before the end of the party we stood together, white wine in hand, and recited one of my favorite poems written by Maya, Preacher Don’t Send Me.   “Preacher , don’t send me when I die/To some big ghetto in the sky” we began. And concluded, “Where families are loyal and friends are nice/ Where the music is jazz and the season is fall/ Promise me that or nothing at all.” Somewhere in the universe is a place that God has made just for Sistah Maya. The trees are filled with golden and purple leaves that sway to the sounds of Charley Parker and Billie Holiday. Sistah is holding court, telling the angels stories about people on the other side. Someday, just maybe, I’ll pull up a cloud and pour us both a Courvoisier. OH Storyteller and blues singer Lorenzo “Logie” Meachum was given an O.Henry Award for his commitment to arts and culture in the Triad region of North Carolina. August 2014

O.Henry 19


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The Omnivorous Reader

Bohemian Tales

Mark Twain, Bret Harte and the writers who reinvented American literature

By Stephen E. Smith

No writer has insinu-

ated himself into American popular culture with the force and resilience of Mark Twain. He worked at being famous, and since his death in 1910, literary critics and popular scholars have continued to reinforce his efforts by turning out a steady stream of books and articles on every aspect of his life and writing. Ben Tarnoff’s The Bohemians: Mark Twain and the San Francisco Writers Who Reinvented American Literature is the latest and certainly one of the more readable popular studies to have appeared in recent years. Tarnoff’s premise is simple enough: The writer we know as Mark Twain didn’t evolve in a vacuum; he was the product of a fortuitous convergence of likeminded writers — Bret Harte, Ina Coolbrith and Charles Warren Stoddard — who matured as artists in a particular time and place. They called themselves the Bohemians, and they lived and wrote in San Francisco in the 1860s. As a young writer, Twain was a frequent visitor to the city. With his wild shock of red hair, disheveled appearance, and his proclivity for overindulgence, he seemed the least likely of the Bohemians to achieve lasting fame. Nattily attired Bret Harte, whose impeccably crafted prose beguiled readers, was the rising star of the group, and it was he who gave the movement its name: “It [the Bohemians] came to represent a creative alternative to the mundane and mercenary in American life,” Tarnoff writes, “a way to overThe Art & Soul of Greensboro

come California’s crude materialism.” Both Twain and Harte began their careers as newspaper reporters who churned out poems and occasional human interest stories that catered to Western tastes. Harte, who’s remembered today for his stories “The Outcasts of Poker Flat” and “The Luck of Roaring Camp,” was the first to attract national attention with his reporting on the 1860 massacre of Wiyots in the village of Tuluwat. His graphic editorial — “Old women, wrinkled and decrepit, lay weltering in blood, their brains dashed out and dabbled with their long gray hair . . .” — first appeared in the Northern Californian and was then reprinted throughout the country, attracting death threats. In fear of his life, Harte fled south to San Francisco, where he found work as a writer and editor in the city’s booming newspaper business. Twain, an erstwhile riverboat pilot, literary freelancer and failed silver miner, arrived in the city to find it brimming with inspiration. “The birds, and the flowers, and the Chinamen and the winds, and the sunshine, and all things that go to make life happy, are present in San Francisco to-day,” he wrote. While walking the streets he heard brogues, drawls, a jumble of languages, and tall tales, all of which he filed away for future reference. His “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County,” a story he’d appropriated from oral tradition, would thrust him into the national limelight and signal the beginning of the end for the strain in American literature that drew its inspiration from genteel European writers. In the rhythms of frontier speech, Twain discovered the makings of an authentic American art. The courageous Ina Coolbrith was born a Mormon, the niece of Joseph Smith, but left Illinois and the Latter Day Saints to strike out on her own. She settled in San Francisco in early 1862 and proved herself a poet of considerable talent (she’d later become California’s first poet laureate). Her home on Russian Hill provided a salon for the young writers who’d flocked to the city for work. Charles Warren Stoddard was a native New Yorker. He was an introverted, venerable, gay writer, whose formal verse found acceptance in San August 2014

O.Henry 21


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Reader Francisco’s newspapers and magazines. He was also a devout Catholic whose strong belief in the church’s doctrine of forgiveness allowed him to rationalize his “temperament,” a term he employed because the expression “homosexual” had not yet been coined. Harte nurtured the writing careers of Stoddard and Coolbrith, and he generously employed his editing skills to soften Twain’s rough prose. Under Harte’s direction, the three writers joined with him to form a literary coterie not unlike the Algonquin Round Table and Beat Generation, and their work was widely read in a frontier hungry for low humor laced with an occasional touch of refinement. Stoddard and Coolbrith aside — both rate as also-rans in the literary canon — Tarnoff’s study focuses on the relationship between Twain and Harte. Their friendship, tempered by Twain’s competitive nature and Harte’s waning literary reputation, was a rocky one. Twain valued loyalty above all else, and he remained Harte’s friend as their literary fortunes began to diverge. He lent Harte money, took him into the Twain household, and recommended him for various editorial jobs. But Harte’s idiosyncrasies eventually overwhelmed their friendship and the two writers became enemies. Huck Finn may have refused to betray Jim, but when Harte applied for a cushy government job, Twain spoke out against his former friend. He wrote to William Dean Howells: “Harte is a liar, a thief, a swindler, a snob, a sot, a sponge, a coward.” Beyond the obligatory detailing of literary spats, gossipy infighting and personality quirks, Tarnoff excels at capturing the vitality of postGold Rush San Francisco and the burgeoning Western expansion. “Its citizens spent lavishly,” he writes, “on feasts of oysters and terrapin, on imported fashions and furnishings. They drank seven bottles of champagne for every one drunk in Boston” and “To the first generations of settlers, the country beyond the Rocky Mountains was truly another world. Its strange weather, its monumental scale, the coloring of the sky and soil — all these were alien.” The degree to which readers will appreciate The Bohemians depends on their familiarity with the biographical materials already available on the writers whose careers Tarnoff scrutinizes. For well-read Twain and Harte aficionados, there’s little to intrigue. But the story of the Bohemians as a literary movement is a compelling one, and Tarnoff is a superb writer whose descriptive and narrative skills will appeal to the most discerning readers. OH Stephen E. Smith’s most recent book of poems is A Short Report on the Fire at Woolworths. He can be reached at travisses@hotmail.com The Art & Soul of Greensboro

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O.Henry 23


Bookshelf

August Books A southern classic and great summer reads

By Brian Lampkin

On page 223 of Harper

Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird, a strange word appears that has puzzled many a reader since the novel first appeared over fifty years ago. Here’s the sentence containing the unusual Southern word:

“Our tacit treaty with Miss Maudie was that we could play on her lawn, eat her scuppernongs if we didn’t jump on the arbor, and explore her vast back lot, terms so generous we seldom spoke to her, so careful were we to preserve the delicate balance of our relationship . . . ” Writer Marja Mills has written a new book on Harper Lee and her sister, Alice Finch Lee, and scuppernongs are in it. In an interview with me, Mills said, “My first experience with scuppernongs is on page 27 of my book, in the Lees’ kitchen. I didn’t detail in the book my later scuppernong adventures but I enjoyed picking a bucketful with a Lee friend, Methodist minister Thomas Lane Butts. He later visited my family in Black River Falls, Wisconsin, and proved no more knowledgeable about cranberries than I had been about scuppernongs.” But no one reads To Kill A Mockingbird for the grapes and no one will read Marja Mills’ The Mockingbird Next Door: Life With Harper Lee ($27.95, Penguin Press) to learn about berry picking. Mills spent eighteen months living next door to Harper Lee and countless hours talking with the Lee sisters about things both large and small. The great mysteries surrounding Lee and her only book are all addressed. Is there a secret second book? What was Truman Capote really like? Why did Harper Lee remain so reclusive? But the real treasures of the book are the small details of Lee’s small-town Alabama life. Like those scuppernongs in her kitchen. Some controversy erupted over this book three years before publication. (The book was due in July 2014.) In 2011, Harper Lee announced that she did not willingly participate in Mills’ book and she did not authorize the book. I asked Mills a few questions about The Mockingbird Next Door and its controversies. Brian Lampkin: In his review of your book, Clyde Edgerton says, “Clearly, the sisters wouldn’t have talked so much to someone they didn’t trust and like.” In that sense, the proof of your relationship to Alice and Nelle is in the writing. What can you say about your current relationship with them? Have they made any recent public comments? How is their health? Marja Mills: Well, I visited with Alice about five months ago and had a lovely chat with her. I was not able to see Nelle [Harper Lee] when I was in town. Both are in assisted living facilities, and I respect their privacy to this

24 O.Henry

August 2014

day; Nelle had a stroke in 2007 and no longer was able to live at home. I’m told she has her good days and bad days, so I cherish the time I had with her and her sister when they were at home, in their routines of many years, and I could visit with them often. It was one of the reasons I wanted to write the book. I knew that many of these stories, and that way of life, would be gone with them one day. So I tried to capture them the best I could. I am forever grateful they felt they could trust me enough to open up their home and their circle of friends to me. B.L.: Edgerton went on: “. . . and it’s clear and fair, in spite of a few sentences that Harper Lee might like deleted from the final draft.” Such is the nature of biography. How hard was it to include things you knew would be hard for Nelle? M.M.: This is an affectionate memoir of my time with Nelle and Alice and their circle of friends and family in Monroeville. So there was a joy in sharing a lot of these stories. It tells you something about Nelle that most of what she said she wanted off the record was to spare the feelings of a friend or relative. I respected that and I could relate to that. I felt protective in another way, as well, and that was in wanting to give the broader context of the Lees’ life in Monroeville, good and bad. The sisters and their friends were sensitive to the fact that small-town Alabama conjures up certain mental pictures for a lot of people. I had the time and the desire to get to know the Lees’ world there in a way you only do living in a place. One of the themes of the book is that these are two women who were a lot of fun to spend time with, more so than people might expect. Nelle always was so private and Alice so proper that even around their hometown people didn’t really have a sense of that unless they were part of the Lees’ close-knit circle. “They’re a hoot,” is the way one of their friends, Ila Jeter, put it at the time, “and I don’t think people know that.” B.L.: People are so protective of their relationship to the book. The source, it seems, of some of the response to your book is that many readers don’t want anyone tinkering with their own very personal response to the novel. What makes To Kill A Mockingbird so powerful? And why does it remain so relevant? M.M.: Its power and its relevance have to do with a lot of things, but one of the main ones is readers’ sense that this is not only a compelling story but a guide to living. Especially with Atticus Finch an example of standing up for what’s right, even when that is unpopular. The particulars change. Eras change. Laws change. But the courage it takes to do that is a constant. In the novel, Atticus and his children paid a price for his defense of Tom Robinson, the black field hand falsely accused of raping a white woman in the segregated South of the 1930s. But Atticus does it anyway, in court and in how he deals with the people around town who see him as a traitor. He teaches his young children by example. There’s an appeal, too, in Atticus being so delightfully far from the stereotypiThe Art & Soul of Greensboro


Bookshelf cal hero who rides in to save the day. He isn’t larger than life. He isn’t given to grand gestures. He isn’t even a trial lawyer, usually, but someone who writes wills and does the unglamorous work of a smalltown general practice. He’s a quiet man who wears glasses and likes to read. He’s a good shot — he kills a mad dog that poses a threat — but he’d much rather not have to raise a gun. B.L.: Where is the secret second novel buried? M.M.: Wouldn’t that be a treasure? In a dream world, I imagine it would be buried under the family chinaberry tree Nelle climbed as a tomboy growing up on Alabama Avenue. In reality, the house is long gone and what stands on the former Lee property is a burger and milkshake stand called Mel’s Dairy Dream. So I don’t have any treasure maps of buried secret novels. For me, the treasure was the stories that unfolded as I got to know the Lees. To Kill A Mockingbird is a summer-filled book. You can feel the oppressive Southern heat and the sweat dripping from the pages. The staff at Scuppernong Books offers a few other summer reads: Brian Etling suggests Jess Walter’s novel Beautiful Ruins ($15.99, Harper): “It opens like a great movie and never loses its pace. The kinetic plot drags the reader through time and space from the sunny Amalfi Coast of Italy, to 1960s Hollywood, and then all the way back to the present in rainy Edinburgh. This novel is as much about the utility of love and human relationships as it is about the importance of place and the boundaries of memory. Snippets from plays real and imagined, a chapter of an unfinished war novel, and an excerpt from the memoir of one of the central characters are just a few of the tricks that Walter uses to complement the otherwise straightforward narrative. Sometimes hilarious, sometimes heartbreaking Beautiful Ruins is a luxury to lose yourself in.” Gregory Grieve suggests this summer’s new John Waters’ book Carsick ($26, FSG): “In Carsick, a 68-year-old man hitchhikes across America. Be warned, however, that he is armed with a cardboard sign that reads: “I’M NOT PSYCHO.” In fact, the hitchhiker is none other than John Waters — evil genius, king of camp and director of such films as Pink Flamingos and Hairspray. The book is a mix of fantasy about what could happen, and what actually occurred on his journey. The first section, “The Best That Could Happen,” describes Waters’ usual circus of eccentrics, The Art & Soul of Greensboro

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O.Henry 25


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Bookshelf

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freaks and lovable perverts. On-the-edge characters that only Waters could imagine (and who are not for the squeamish) populate the second section, “The Worst That Could Happen.” The final Section, “The Real Thing,” describes Waters’ actual eight-day journey from Baltimore to San Francisco. With a relief, everyone who picks him up is kind and considerate. “My riders were brave and open-minded,” Waters writes, “and their down-to-earth kindness gave me new faith in how decent Americans can be.” Steve Mitchell offers My Struggle, by Karl Ove Knausgaard ($27, Archipelago): “This is Volume 1 of a memoir that defies sentimentality; the memoir of a normal man who happens to be a writer. He never met famous people, was never present for historic events. He relates his early life as it was, without melodrama or rosy filters, and makes it immensely compelling and readable. Always in the shadow of his father and the blue-cold Scandinavian obsession. All the snow in this book will make you appreciate the beach even more.”

T:10.75”

Beach Books What makes a beach book a beach book? Sand. The Woman in the Dunes, by Kobo Abe ($15, Vintage) You want sand, this book has sand. Here’s a book that has sand like poppies have red. An amateur entomologist misses his bus, then is held captive by the locals, pressed into shoveling back the dunes with only an odd young woman at his side. Haunting, beautiful. Sandy. (Steve Mitchell) In A Sand County Almanac ($7.99, Ballantine), Aldo Leopold has a knack for tenderly describing scenes that most people would likely walk past, around, through and on without a second (or first) thought. His observations of the land are scientific bordering on poetic; the section on the Round River in Wisconsin hints at a religious experience. Leopold’s adoration for the natural is balanced with knowing that nature is also beautifully cruel and that we are a part of that cycle (if not its greatest instigators). This environmental classic is timeless in the sense that mountains, valleys and rivers should be timeless, but are they? Has the foundational structure of the world been altered so that these things are no longer permanently grand in the ways they always have been? Leopold says, “Only the mountain has lived long enough to listen objectively to the howl of a wolf.” I think I have to agree with him. (Kira Larson) As long as your trip to the beach doesn’t end with a gunshot on the dunes, you are doing it better than the narrator of Albert Camus’ The Stranger ($12.95, Vintage). Sunny setting, sandy climax, messy consequences. (Brian Etling) There is a lot of sand in Dune, a 1965 Hugo Awardwinning science fiction novel by Frank Herbert. Actually, there is a whole planet of sand called Arrakis. The sand is filled with “spice,” the most important and valuable substance in the universe, warring kingdoms and giant sandworms. (Gregory Grieve) OH

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26 O.Henry

August 2014

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Congratulatory Notes By Sandra Redding

The first week of August hangs at the very top of summer . . . like the highest seat of the Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning. — Natalie Babbitt

August Book Events

August 7 (Thursday, 7 p.m.) Scuppernong Books, Greensboro. A celebration of Fred Chappell’s newest book of poems, Familiars, with readings by Fred and National Book Award finalist Sarah Lindsay, author of Debt to the Bone-Eating Snotflower. scuppernongbooks@gmail.com August 14 (Thursday, 6:30–8:30 p.m.) Benjamin Vineyards and Winery, Saxapahaw. Join 2014 Piedmont Laureate Carrie Knowles for a free writing workshop. Buy a glass of wine and enjoy the sunset as you write. To sign up, email cjknowles@earthlink.net. August 17 (Sunday, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.). Fourth Annual Carolina Writers Networking Lunch, Charlotte, sponsored by the North Carolina Triad Chapter of Murder We Write. Meet authors, editors, publishers, librarians and agents. Limited to sixty, so register ASAP by email: info@murderwewrite.org. September 5–6 (Friday & Saturday). Carolina Mountains Literary Festival, Burnsville. A gathering of writers, readers, listeners and learners. Barbara Bates Smith adapts and performs off-Broadway productions; Cathy Larson Sky of Spruce Pine is an Irish fiddler who combines oral verse with old-time tunes; Terry Roberts, a lifetime educator, writes about family. Plus, Press 53 Publisher Kevin Morgan Watson of Winston-Salem and Kathy Pories, senior editor at Algonquin Books in Chapel Hill, will be on hand to offer editing and publishing advice. Tickets: cmlitfest.org September 6 (Saturday). Annual Bookmarks Festival of Books and Authors, Winston-Salem. Over fifty award-winning authors will gather at the Milton Rhodes Center for the Arts. A panel on the “Future of the Book” will be led by Robin Miura, co-director of Carolina Wren Press, and Carolyn Sakowski, president of John F. Blair, Publisher. Robert Morgan will sit on the Southern Identity panel and Frances Mayes of Hillsborough will provide her views on how to adapt a book for film, television and video games. bookmarksnc.org.

Peggy Payne’s most recent book, Cobalt Blue, set in Pinehurst, won a medal from the Independent Publisher Book Awards (IPPY) in the Visionary Fiction Category. IPPY awards honor superior literary works by publishers other than the five major New York houses. Ecotone, the press at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, won an IPPY in the anthology category for Astoria to Zion, Twenty-Six Stories of Risk and Abandon from Ecotone’s First Decade. And John F. Blair of Winston-Salem published Long Gone Daddies, by David Wesley Williams, which garnered an IPPY for fiction. Movie land has smiled on Ron Rash, who lives in the North Carolina mountains. His haunting novel Serena has been adapted to a film which will be released later this year. The leading roles of a lumber baron and his determined wife will be played by Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence. At 92, prolific Chapel Hill fiction writer Elizabeth Spencer has been awarded the $30,000 Rhea Award for lifetime achievement in short stories. Her past achievements include five consecutive O.Henry Awards.

Writing Lessons

Maya Angelou died May 28, 2014. The most quoted of all North Carolina’s authors, she left behind a bounty of words to inspire, teach and enrich lives. How should we put words to paper? “The idea is to write it so that it slides through the brain and goes straight to the heart,” she once advised.

The value of surprising readers is the lesson learned from reading Buccaneer: The Provocative Odyssey. This nonfiction page-turner, a collaboration of adventurer Jack Reed and Winston-Salem TV personality Maycay Beeler, will surely keep you on the edge of your armchair. First Jack chronicles his misdeeds: smuggling cocaine in his plane, becoming involved with the infamous Medellín Cartel and living in a tropical paradise with a girl young enough to be his daughter. These escapades take place before Jack is thrown into prison (no surprise). Then Maycay, an accomplished pilot, surprise, surprise, flies in to help the aging pirate complete his book and get out of the pokey. More surprises: pictures of Jack’s paintings, handwritten notes to Maycay and after-death visitations. Definitely takes one’s breath away. Thanks for sending your literary news. Keep me updated at sanredd@ earthlink.com. OH Greensboro writer Sandra Redding’s novel, Naomi Wise: A Cautionary Tale, is a riveting story about heartbreak and hope in a Quaker community. Email her at sanredd@earthlink.net.


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30 O.Henry

August 2014

The Art & Soul of Greensboro


M y

L i f e

i n

a

T h o u s a n d

W o r d s

Best Reader Memoirs 2014 A Life in Lovely Pieces

By Barbara Black

B

orn with the boomers, Wesley Long, downtown Greensboro, Elm Street, 1947. Mama, a true seamstress, who saw children’s clothes in Belk, sketched them and went home to make them for me. Daddy, who liked to make up stories like “Little Black Walking Shoes.” A sister I named “Kathleen Irene.” Beautiful, I thought. She holds it against me. Inky, my dog. A parakeet named Pete, who could say “I like Ike, vote for Eisenhower” or “I’m Pete the parakeet” or “Be careful crossing the street” or “Here, Inky.” Summer games outside with neighbor kids — Red Rover, Roller Bat and Ain’t No Bears Out Tonight, played in the shadows of the evening, very scary. Riding my bike, one time down a hill with my eyes closed. The mailbox wasn’t hurt. Skating at Hawkins. Reading Nancy Drew. The smooth smell of cured tobacco from the cigarette factory nearby. The party-line telephone, recognizing our ring. Daddy bringing home a boxy thing, a Motorola television. Rabbit ears. The test pattern. Black-and-white shows — Sky King, Annie Oakley, Winky Dink, Old Rebel, Mighty Mouse. The polio epidemic that killed my little cousin. Mama’s brothers helping build a hospital for victims. Childhood illnesses — measles, mumps. Lots of sore throats. Dr. Thomas Hinson coming with his brown satchel to my house. Coming once on Christmas Day and not charging anything. Having my tonsils removed, eating lots of ice cream. Hurricane Hazel, which turned the sky so black that I thought we kids at school should get under our desks. Ten years at Bessemer School, where my mother graduated. Everyone knowing everyone’s mama. Fall festivals with Brunswick stew cooked in huge pots on the school yard. Liking school. Mrs. Cude, my third-grade teacher, teaching us to sing the names of the presidents to the tune of “Yankee Doodle,” something I can still do, up to Eisenhower who was in office then. Elvis. Bessemer condemned for its age and condition (it could happen to me). Being sent to Page High School, where some students were seriously rich and smart. Discovering poetry, Shakespeare and the Beatles. Being in history class when the hall monitors rushed in with the news that President Kennedy had been shot. Wearing Weejuns and madras. Driving for hours on Saturday nights from the Hot Shoppe on Summit to the Boar and Castle on Market. Buttered steaks and onion rings. Off to Catawba College in Salisbury, where my best friend was going. Making lifelong friends. Embracing dorm life. Playing bridge, casual with the rules, when we should have been studying. Liking Dr. West’s religion classes, even at 8 a.m. The God-like voice of the campus pastor as it rang through the majestic chapel. Not reading Return of the Native. Curfews, no men in the dorm, a dress code, room checks for cleanliness. Ha! A summer job, catalog department of Sears on Eugene, meeting Tom there. On Cloud Nine in love. Realizing Tom had been in my class at Page. Back to college. Tom to the Navy and Vietnam. Lots of love letters. Waiting. Worrying. Getting The Art & Soul of Greensboro

him back and marrying him ASAP in my church, Calvary Baptist. Living in bonnie Scotland where Tom’s ship was stationed in the Holy Loch. Being deliciously happy and damp from the climate. Riding the ferry, taking the High Road around the loch. Home to Greensboro to family and jobs. Tom with the telephone company, me at Southeast Junior High, teaching language arts. Loving my work. Building a little house. Getting a mama cat, Angel. Becoming a mama myself to a sweet bicentennial baby, Susan. Vandalia Presbyterian Church and Pastor Bob Wells. A job promotion for Tom taking us to Harrisburg, near Charlotte. New friends, Harrisburg Presbyterian Church, Rev. Jim Sample. All still special thirty-five years later. An adorable baby boy, Casey, and a calico cat, Molly. Trips back to Greensboro to see family. Digging a fish pond. Sitting on the back porch. Staying home with the kids and cats. Being a little poor but thankful and careful with money. Enjoying my yard. Planting trees, more than sixty, because the yard used to be a pasture. Growing a garden. Potatoes, which the kids liked to dig, corn that blew over but which popped when we burned the garden off in the fall, sugar baby watermelons. Vacations to beaches — Kure, Carolina and Ocean Isle. The Outer Banks. My sister moving to California. The death of Pop, my daddy. Devastation from Hurricane Hugo’s direct hit on us, this after the Winston-Salem “Wind” of 1989 during my sister’s wedding. Back to teaching, Cabarrus County, middle school language arts. Happy with the work. Blessed and lucky, lots of papers to grade. Still loving Tom, who reads, cooks and has hobbies. A new cat, Tuppy, a silver Persian — long-haired, not self-cleaning. Teenagers in our house! Marching band. Daughter Susan rescuing a little black ratty thing that became Max the Cat, who lived 19 years (Angel —15, Molly — 19, Tuppy — 17). Sending kids to college, State, Appalachian. Empty nest. Bittersweet. The Grand Canyon at last. Daughter in love with David. A charming wedding. Reluctantly retiring back to Greensboro to help with aging mothers here. Moving to a cozy house on a lake. Son Casey student teaching (band) at Page and meeting student teacher Laura (orchestra). Love, music, marriage. Mt. Rushmore and the Bad Lands. Awesome. GRANDBABIES! More awesome than anything! Helping Mama, 94, still pretty. Losing more family members, friends, neighbors. Reading, reading, reading. Sudoku. Joining a bridge club. Trying to remember the rules. Not remembering. Laughing. Aging. Trying to ignore it. Being with special friends when we all celebrated forty-five years of marriage. Watching the grandchildren grow. Adoring them. Seeing their parents, my children, in their 30s, wondering how that happened. Thanking God daily for my sweet life. Still loving Tom. Epilogue Awaiting. OH Barbara (Bobbie) Black taught middle school for many years. It seems to have affected her ability to write in complete sentences. August 2014

O.Henry 31


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The Art & Soul of Greensboro


Lunch with a Friend

Tacos and Kids These Days

For novelist Drew Perry, Greensboro is the place he’s almost grown up

By David Claude Bailey

I recently read

Photograph by Lynn Donovan

Drew Perry’s Kids These Days, not because my idol Dave Barry said it was “sweet, soulful, smart and funny as hell.” Nor did I read it because Kirkus Reviews called it a “best bet.” I read it because the blurb on the back of the book said it is about a guy who moves to Florida out of desperation after losing his job and is petrified of having his first child.

I immediately knew I wanted to meet this guy. When I was Perry’s age thirtysome years ago, my wife, Anne, and I decided on a lark to move to Florida. We had our first child there — after thirteen years of nonstop pressure from family. Oh, and a few years ago, in 2009, I precipitously lost the best job I’d ever had. I could — and did — relate to the protagonist in this Elon professor’s novel, which came out earlier this year. Being a journalist, I called him up and said I wanted to have lunch with him so I could meet the author of one of the most gripping novels I’d read in ages. “Let’s go somewhere you really like but which won’t be too loud and raucous for an interview,” I suggest. We consider his old haunt, Old Town Draught House. College Hill Sundries is out unless we wanted a liquid lunch. We briefly consider Elvis’ booth at Brightwood Inn in Whitsett. “That dollar taco place way out Spring Garden at Market!” Perry blurts out. “El Camino Real?” I ask. “Great place. Not too loud, and we’ll ask for Luis.” And so on Friday the 13th, I find myself inhaling chips and chunky salsa

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

while sucking down an icy pint of Negra Modelo in the presence of Drew Perry. I keep thinking he looks like a forest ranger with his short but ragged goatee and squarish glasses. Born in Florida, raised in Atlanta, Perry says his dad was in commercial real estate, his mom a family counselor, “middle class, not super rich.” Competing against a telenovela on El Camino’s TV, he tells me he changed his major nine times at the University of Georgia. Although he developed an interest in creative writing during his junior year, he actually graduated with a degree in public relations. After working — and crashing — at a PR firm that handled high-tech start-ups in Boston (“I always had stories I was working on open behind the spreadsheet”), Perry kept sending UNCG’s MFA writing program more and newer stories until they accepted him. (“I was stubborn — and hopeful,” he says.) He promptly fell in love with Greensboro: “If I’ve grown up, I grew up here. I feel like I’m from here.” Moving into the MFA student ghetto on Carr Street just off Tate, he recalls how he and his fellow students “were 24 and in graduate school and drinking beer like it was our profession.” [See “The Bad Old Days,” page 64] He met his wife, Tita Ramirez, also a writer, in the program and, miraculously, starting as adjuncts at Elon, the two of them both got jobs in the English department there by 2000. Our server, my old friend and restaurant-kitchen work mate Jose Luis Ramirez, asks whether we’re going to talk or eat or just drink beer. “This is the first place I ever had real tacos,” Perry says. “[UNCG almnus and poet] Martin Arnold and Ann Arnold wanted to know whether I wanted to eat dollar tacos one night, and I’ve been coming back ever since. I can never not get the tacos. Like I want to branch out, but then I eat the tacos and I’m so happy.” Little by little, it’s becoming a struggle to speak over the TV, which is no longer in the background. In fact, the restaurant suddenly seems to explode. Luis, who is usually one of August 2014

O.Henry 33


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Lunch with a Friend

Greensboro’s smoothest and most attentive servers, is distracted. In fact, I notice he’s ecstatic about something, along with everyone else in the joint. Perry and I are apparently the only two people here who don’t know that Mexico, playing Croatia in the World Cup finals today, has just scored its first goal. So much for a quiet spot. I like El Camino Real because it’s almost a parody of a traditional Mexican restaurant with its overload of kitsche. It is long, narrow and atmospheric with intimate booths. We move outside, where the cold beer tastes twice as good. As Perry tucks into a taco stuffed with crunchy marinated pork and roasted pineapple and I attack a grilled steak (carnitas) taco, amped up with loads of cilantro and fresh onions, he explains that Walter, the main character in Kids These Days, is, in fact, based on himself, as was the character from his first novel, This is Just Exactly Like You. “I tend to write about what I’m afraid of, versions of people like myself whom I’m afraid will exist,” he says. “I’m interested in the whole bootstraps American dream, and I cry when there are fireworks, but, really, the American dream is going to chew you up more often than not, and spit you back out the worse for wear.” In Kids These Days, straight-arrow Walter, whose wife is pregnant, moves to Florida from North Carolina after losing his job in the mortgage industry. Walter is beyond terrified of having a kid, as was Perry (and most men, eh?): “I never lied to my wife about my not wanting to have a child.” In contrast to the circumspect protagonist of the book, Walter’s brother-in-law is a laid-back, margarita-sipping, likeable entrepreneur, who off-handedly and generously offers Walter a nebulous job doing not much of anything but keeping him company. But not unlike the character who appears flying overhead in a hang glider made out of a grocery cart or the twisted red-neck wearing a pirate costume in a grocery store, handing out samples and copping feels from the ladies, the brother-in-law is not at all what he seems to be. In fact, in Perry’s Florida, nothing is as it seems. Relying on decades of family vacations in the Sunshine State, Perry created a beach-town Florida where there’s an enforced happiness — “America distilled or snow-globed,” he says. As the novel progresses, the plot veers off into wild and suspenseful territory totally out of the reader’s comfort zone, the hallmark of much good fiction. “I’m interested in the way we’re all broken,” Perry says. “I’m not intentionally pushing toward the weird. I’m trying to account for it.” The roar from inside El Camino Real has begun to abate, Mexico having trounced Croatia 3-1. The mostly blue-collar lunch crowd streams out, noisily rejoicing as they roar away, tires spinning, in shiny pickup trucks. Perry and I discuss how nicely the restaurant straddles the line between the dollar taco stands in town (Camino Real’s tacos are actually $1.50 each) and the host of same-old Mexican restaurants with nearly identical menus and predictable fiesta décor. El Camino’s real measure of difference comes from a kitchen that produces all the The Art & Soul of Greensboro

standards but also truly authentic dishes such as fluffy Salvadorian papusas with savory slaw and fried plantains. Or the restaurant’s signature burrito Texano, a massive tortilla wrapped around chicken, steak and shrimp fajitas, smothered with cheese sauce and flanked with guacamole. But I’m with Perry, the tacos, lighter and with distinctive fillings and salsa, beckon to me, and I always order one tripe taco and beef-tongue taco just to mix things up. Returning to the business of writing, Perry tells me that he always asks new students at the end of their first class “to show me something I’ve never seen before. Best of luck. See you Tuesday.” It’s a daunting assignment, but, says Perry, that’s just what the poet or writer has to do. “We’re all supposed to draw the world new every time, the simplest and most difficult thing in the world, all at once.” As we pick at the leftovers and decide not to have a third beer, Perry tells me about his “Damage Theory of Literature, which is that I want to be a little bit damaged by a piece of writing, not necessarily in a bad way, but I need for my understanding of the world to be shifted a little bit, changed and complicated by a piece of writing.” Perry likens writing to his interaction with The Toad, his 4-year-old. “I love having to explain the world to someone who’s never seen it, and it’s not so far removed from the job of the novelist,” he says. And yes, Perry was predictably smitten with his first son, The Toad, aka Tomás, and then Nico, his second child. “I never knew my heart could be so large.” For the last year or so, Perry has memorialized a father’s interaction with Tomás and Nico in a blog, Live from the Time of the Toad, so-named for the sound Tomás made at the age of 3 days. In June, Perry combined the best of his blog with a narrative of his father’s stroke for Huffington Post. In it he comments on how he feels “stupid and foolish . . . at a backyard barbecue when I’m telling a friend, whose own dad almost died of a heart attack, all about how difficult it is to discover that one’s father might be mortal. I’m Greek tragedy and small-time soap opera all at once. I’m the idiot who’s discovering he’s alive.” Thinking of my own father’s death and how I circled back to North Carolina from Florida as my two daughters grew to adulthood, I’m grateful to Perry — and all the other novelists and poets — who seem to know us so much better than we know ourselves. OH El Camino Real Mexican Grill, 4131 Spring Garden Street, Greenboro, (336) 632-0003 or www.elcaminoreal01.com O.Henry senior editor David Claude Bailey wants to know if anyone in Greensboro serves soft-shell-crab tacos. August 2014

O.Henry 35


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The Art & Soul of Greensboro


Game On

Charlie and Mose As the unplanned friendship that changed the world of golf

By Ogi Overman

Mose Kiser Jr.

(C) 2010 The Denver Post, MediaNews Group

carries a big stick around Greensboro. Now a young 80, he’s been carrying it for a long time, just as his father and his father before him. There is something in his manner that exudes leadership, humility, character and a strong work ethic.

Perhaps it was those characteristics that persuaded the executive committee of the Greensboro Jaycees to name him the general chairman of the 1961 Greater Greensboro Open (now the Wyndham Championship). At the tender age of 27, he was (and is) the youngest person to hold that position. But neither Kiser nor the Jaycees had any way of knowing the unprecedented challenges that would lie ahead for them and the PGA event they sponsored. To backtrack, until that year the tournament had alternated between Sedgefield and Starmount country clubs. But after eventual seven-time GGO champ Sam Snead had made disparaging remarks about the condition of the course during the 1960 tourney, Starmount owner Edward B. Benjamin refused to host the event ever again and unceremoniously forbade the Jaycees from ever setting foot on the course. “Obviously, the only logical move was to go to the powers that be at Sedgefield and try to negotiate a contract with them to be the permanent host for the tournament,” says Kiser. “Finally, after a lot of hassling, we worked out a deal that turned out to be profitable for both sides.” Not long after that, another challenge would crop up that had far more ramifications than the move to Sedgefield. In January 1961, Kiser received a phone call from prominent local dentist, Dr. George Simkins Jr., who was president

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

of the local NAACP chapter. Simkins told him that there was a black golfer originally from Charlotte now living in California who had earned his limited PGA card (there was a Caucasians-only clause in the PGA bylaws) and should be invited to the GGO. His name was Charlie Sifford. “Honestly, I had never heard of him, so I told Dr. Simkins that I would do some checking and get back with him,” Kiser recalls. One of the first calls Kiser made was to his friend Dugan Aycock, who was president of the Carolinas PGA. Turned out, not only had Sifford won some non-PGA-sanctioned events, including the 1957 Long Beach Open and a streak of five Negro National Opens, but Aycock actually knew him. “Dugan said Sifford had been his caddie as a teenager in Charlotte; said he remembered him being a very nice young man,” says Kiser. “Then he asked me if I would like for him to call him, and I said that would be wonderful.” Aycock made the call and reported back to Kiser that Sifford said, “It would be the greatest honor of my life to play in a professional tournament in my home state.” But before he could issue Sifford a formal invitation, he had to clear it with both the executive committee of the Jaycees and the board at Sedgefield. “There was a lot of back and forth and a lot of mixed feelings,” he says. “Remember, no black golfer had ever played in a PGA event in the South, and there was some trepidation. But in the end, they decided to issue him an invitation,” adding, “It ended up being a unanimous vote, and to tell the truth, there was less hassle over that than the negotiations over the contract with Sedgefield.” So, Kiser phoned Sifford with the good news, and he excitedly accepted the invitation. “He told me what he’d told Dugan that this would be the highlight of his career,” says Kiser. “He said Dugan had played a big part in helping him get started.” August 2014

O.Henry 37


Game On

Then it was time to call a press conference to announce that the color barrier was about to be broken. It was held in the Dolley Madison Hospitality Room at Guilford Dairy on West Market Street, where Kiser was a marketing executive. The response from the media to what at the time in the Old South was momentous news, according to Kiser, “was cool but positive.” Except for one reporter, whom Kiser to this day refuses to identify, who adamantly objected. “He said this will ruin the GGO, that it will never survive. ‘All those who went before you, their efforts will have been wasted,’” says Kiser. Then a remarkable thing happened. Iconic local sports broadcaster Charlie Harville stood up and stridently contradicted his colleague from the print media. “Charlie said, ‘You don’t know what you’re talking about. It will be the exact opposite. It will be good for the Jaycees for making the right decision, good for the city, and it will make national headlines for the GGO.’ And then he ended it by saying, ‘If anybody has any more to say about it, we can meet out back in the parking lot.’” Still, groundbreaking though it was, there was a caveat in the invitation. Since they were dealing with a private club, there were some restrictions: Sifford could not come in the front door of the country club, and he could not eat in the main dining room. “I told him if he would tell me when he was arriving, I would meet him at the front door and we would walk over to (head pro) Tom Case’s pro shop and we would walk in together,” Kiser recalls. “We met, shook hands and threw our arms around one another. Tom welcomed him in and said he could go ahead with a practice round. He could go in the locker room, where he would have the same privileges as any other pro golfer, and he could eat in the snack bar there. I said, ‘You know about the motels, right?’ and he laughed and said, ‘I got enough

friends around here, I won’t have a problem finding a place to stay or eat.’” Then it was tourney time, Thursday, April 13, 1961. If the plan, as Charlie Harville had suggested, was to bring Greensboro into the national limelight, he could not have scripted it any better. Amidst some hecklers and assorted drunk rednecks — and lots of uniformed and plainclothes law enforcement officers — Sifford fired a 68 to take the first-round lead. Then, Sifford took center stage at the post-round press conference, attended by, among others, Newsweek, The New York Times, Life magazine, The Saturday Evening Post and newsreel cameras for broadcast in movie theaters. “But they were all asking him questions about his reception here, how he was treated, if the hecklers bothered him, and all that,” Kiser says. “Then he said, ‘Wait a minute here. I am leading this golf tournament in my home state. Now who wants to ask me a question about my round?’ There were a group of us standing behind him, and he turned around and, in a stage whisper, said, ‘Boy, I just f***ed up their story, didn’t I?’ We all just cracked up.” Sifford went on to shoot rounds of 72-70-75, good for a fourth-place finish behind winner Mike Souchak. He pocketed $1,300 for his efforts. Six months later the PGA’s “Caucasians-only” clause was deleted from its membership requirements. “I have no way of knowing, but I’d like to think we had something to do with that,” says Kiser. While it is generally acknowledged that Greensboro acquitted itself well, there were at least two isolated yet serious threats to both Sifford and Kiser. After his opening round, Sifford received a late-night phone call at the private residence where he was staying. According to an article written by Rhonda Glenn of the USGA, the caller “unleashed a torrent of curses and racial epithets, warning him not to come to the course the next day.” After teeing off he heard a

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38 O.Henry

August 2014

The Art & Soul of Greensboro


Game On

slur from the crowd and recognized it as the caller’s voice. PGA official George Wash was alerted and eventually the offender and his accomplices were hauled away by the police. But before the tournament even got under way, Kiser received an unsigned letter saying, “If you love your children, don’t let them play in your front yard by themselves. Don’t let that nigger play.” Undaunted, Kiser simply took his kids, Mose III, 7, and Pat, 5, to their grandfather’s house and left them there for the duration of the tourney. “Nobody ever knew where they were and nothing ever came of it,” says Kiser. Even though Sifford, now 92 and living in Shaker Heights, Illinois, was past his prime at 39 when he broke golf’s color barrier, he did go on to win two PGA events, the Greater Hartford Open in 1967 and the Los Angeles Open in 1969. He thrived on the Senior Tour, winning the 1975 PGA Senior Championship. He was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2004. Three years before that, the pioneering golfer was invited back to the GGO (by then called the Greater Greensboro Chrysler Classic and held at Forest Oaks) to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of that now-fabled ’61 event. Just as before, Mose Kiser Jr. was there to greet him. “I met him on the first tee and said, ‘This is not the first time we’ve met.’ He grinned and said, ‘I know, but you were a lot younger then,’ and I said, ‘So were you.’ Before he left he said, ‘You know what I told you in the beginning; it really did turn out to be the highlight of my life.’” Irwin Smallwood, retired sports editor of the Greensboro News & Record for whom the media headquarters at the Wyndham Championship is named, wrote a column for that 2001 GGCC program. In it he brilliantly chronicled the events leading up to and during the tournament, and closed with a quote from Rev. R. Harold Hipps of West Market Street United Methodist Church. Speaking of the Jaycees, the minister said: “Charlie Sifford’s participation makes it not only a historic event but an honored one, and your action in this regard is an excellent example of the true spirit of our community.” Kiser readily concurs. “It was the right thing to do back then. We had a lot of trash thrown at us, but we stood up to it and did the right thing. I don’t mean me, but all of us. Dugan Aycock and Charlie Harville and Tom Case and George Simkins and the Jaycees and Sedgefield. And it wasn’t just us who welcomed him here, it was the whole community. We all did the right thing.” OH Ogi Overman, an editor, columnist and reporter for various Triad publications for thirty years, is putting the finishing touches on a book of his columns, A Doughnut and a Dream, due out around Thanksgiving. The Art & Soul of Greensboro

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O.Henry 39


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40 O.Henry

August 2014

The Art & Soul of Greensboro


Birdwatch

Nightjars The fabled songsters of summer nights in the Triad

By Susan Campbell

Early summer in the Triad is

certainly the peak season for birdsong as the days lengthen and migratory birds return. Over 100 species can be identified by call or song during the breeding season. Although catbirds, mockingbirds and cardinals often herald the coming of dawn, the majority of our familiar birds do most of their singing during daylight hours. Even so, nocturnal songsters are among our most remarkable choristers.

And it’s during the summer that you can hear some of our loudest nighttime songsters — the nightjars. After returning from their winter sojourn in the tropics, nightjars literally jar the night with their raucous nocturnal calls. Two species found in the Piedmont, chuck-will’s-widow and the whip-poor-will, can often be heard repeating their names at dawn and dusk. “Chucks” and “whips,” as birders love to call them, inhabit slightly different woodland habitats. Chucks are associated with dry pine stands or mixed woods. Whips, however, are associated with wetter areas such as wooded ponds, bottomlands or seeps. In flight, both species eat a variety of large insects, scooping them up into their huge mouths and swallowing them whole. Chucks and whips rapidly twist and turn as they fly through the trees, feeding on an abundance of beetles and moths. Unfortunately, they sometimes forage low to the ground along roads, where they run the risk of being hit by passing cars. The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Due to their nocturnal habits, these birds are rarely seen. Their plumage is cryptic, a mottled mix of gray, brown and black. They almost blend in perfectly with the leaves and low branches where they roost during the day. Nests are a mere scrape on the ground, and unless a female is approached within inches, she will remain motionless in the hopes of going undetected. Since the parents are not equipped with sharp beaks or talons for warding off predators, the best defense for the eggs and the chicks is camouflage. In addition to the nightjars, nighthawks inhabit the Piedmont. The common nighthawk can actually be seen foraging during daylight hours, especially just before dusk. These birds share a number of characteristics with chuck-will’s-widows and whip-poor-wills: They are migrants, feed on insects, and are cryptically colored. The males combine a buzzing call with shorter wing flaps to produce a booming territorial signal. Otherwise they produce a short nasal “peent” to advertise their presence. Their long, pointed wings with bold white stripes as well as a high, bounding flight pattern makes them fairly easy to identify. They, too, lay their eggs on the ground (on open soil such as between row crops), but will also nest on gravel rooftops, obvously a safer choice. Unfortunately, as more wooded areas are developed in the southeastern United States, the nightjars’ chorus is diminishing each year. The disappearance of nesting habitat along with an increase in ground predators from pets has resulted in dramatic declines of these species. The use of insecticides in agriculture is also taking a toll, reducing the food supply. So if you do hear a “chuck-will’s-widow” or “whip-poor-will” from your front porch as the sun goes down or spot a nighthawk soaring over the treetops, consider yourself very fortunate! OH Susan Campbell would love to receive your wildlife sightings and photos. She can be contacted by email at susan@ncaves.com, by phone (910) 949-3207. August 2014

O.Henry 41


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42 O.Henry

August 2014

The Art & Soul of Greensboro


Street Level

The People’s University

One man’s love poem to Greensboro’s remarkable — and enduring — public libraries

1910

1942

By Jim Schlosser

Greensboro didn’t have the first public

Photographs from the Greensboro Historical Museum Archives (30),

library in North Carolina, but the state’s earliest ones — in Durham, Raleigh and Asheville — owe their existence to two Greensboro men. In 1897, State Senator A.M. Scales of Guilford County introduced a bill that the legislature approved, authorizing North Carolina towns with more than 1,000 people to use tax money for libraries.

The bill had been requested by Greensboro Schools Superintendent George Grimsley, who chaired a state committee looking at the need for public libraries. Grimsley, for whom Grimsley High School was renamed in 1962, was leading a movement in Greensboro to start a library. Libraries free to the public, he said, were “the university of the people.” Since 1902, Greensboro has had five different main public libraries. Today its collection is made up of more than 300,000 books and other items that remain within arm’s reach of patrons, unlike the city’s previous central libraries. The system today is far removed from the public library I encountered in the 1950s when I was going through the old Greensboro City School System. The city had two libraries, the downtown library for whites and the other on the Bennett College campus for African Americans. Racial segregation defined everything in those days, even the library, supposedly a place for opening minds. The library for whites occupied two connected buildings, formerly housing the First Presbyterian Church, where North Davie Street merges into Summit Avenue. The library was so cramped that books were stacked anywhere space could be found, including the window seats. I don’t remember sweating, but accounts by others indicate perspiration dripped from patrons and staff because of faulty air conditioning. The place was built for preaching and prayer, after all, not fiction and nonfiction. A newspaper editorial in 1957 cried “Shame on Greensboro” for allowing such a library to exist in what was then the state’s second largest city after Charlotte. That was the city’s third central library, which patrons tolerated from 1939 to 1964 and which now serves, quite well, as the Greensboro Historical Museum. The fourth central library, 1964–98, at North Greene Street and West Friendly Avenue, was a new building designed from the ground up to be a library. But

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

1972 almost from the start, most of its books were stored in the basement due to lack of space on the upper two floors. By 1977, library director George Viele was calling for a two-story addition, which never came about. The building today, a wonderful example of modernistic architecture, houses the Elon University Law School. I wasn’t around for the first two central libraries. The first, from 1902 to 1906, opened with 1,490 books, thirty magazines and local newspapers galore — the Greensboro Daily Record, the Greensboro Telegram and the Greensboro Patriot. The library was made up of three rooms on the third floor of City Hall, then at North Elm Street and what’s now West Friendly Avenue, current site of Center Pointe Condominiums. The second library, from 1906–1939, was an architecturally eye-catching edifice with a dome on Commerce Place (now John Wesley Way) behind West Market Street United Methodist Church. It cost $30,000, a gift from libraryloving steel tycoon Andrew Carnegie. According to retired library staffer Helen Snow’s book, “The Greensboro Public Library: the First 100 years,” published after the library’s centennial in 2002, the Carnegie Library in 1926 started a bookmobile, only the state’s second. A Dodge truck was fitted with shelves and sent out into rural Guilford County. The bookmobile’s operation was financed by a city tax on dogs. The levy was so novel it prompted a national magazine, the Saturday Evening Post, to do an article in 1927. The Carnegie Library (for whites) had a large reading room with a fireplace that glowed in winter. Its meeting rooms were popular with civic groups. It even had a children’s room, which was stocked with $1,000 worth of books paid for by a citizen campaign. More than 200 children attended a weekly children’s story hour to hear stories, sometimes told by the authors who wrote them, including Hugh Lofting, author of the Dr. Doolittle books. But eventually the city’s growing population and an increasing book collection overwhelmed the building. Money was also lacking for proper maintenance. Snow’s book tells of poor maintenance that resulted in walls going unpainted, the lighting being dim and various problems that attend a leaky roof. Instead of making improvements and building an annex, as some local leaders proposed, the city chose to move the library to the former church buildings. The structures had been purchased, renovated and donated to the city by the Richardson family, whose patriarch, Lunsford Richardson, invented Vick’s Vapo-Rub. The library suffered through thirty-seven years there. In 1960 citizens passed a $3 million bond referendum to build the North Greene Street library. Go figure. According to Snow’s book, only 21,800 square feet of the Greene Street building’s 76,000 total was open to the public. I remember countless times going to the card catalog, finding a book’s 3-by-5 card and then searching in vain August 2014

O.Henry 43


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Street Level

for it in the stacks. I then had to go to the reference desk, fill out a slip of paper with the book’s Dewey Decimal System number. (Until an age I should have known better, I thought the system honored a man named Dewey Decimal.) At the desk, a library staffer would take my request, vanish underground and get the book that I wanted. This usually took fifteen or twenty minutes. Even now, some of the library’s vintage books are still stamped “lower stacks.” Finally, in 1998 came the fifth and current central library, a long, graceful, school-house red building with an arched portico that runs the length of the building along North Church Street. Voters approved a $14.7 million bond referendum to build it. Of the building’s 98,000-plus square feet, public space accounts for 76,000. As a result, Greensboro finally has a central library with its collection in the open. The building has room enough for meeting rooms and an art gallery. Predictions have been circulating for years that electronic books would eliminate the need for libraries to maintain vast collections of books on their shelves. While the Greensboro system offers patrons access to electronic books that can be downloaded on Kindles and other devices, the demand remains for the oldfashioned kind that are printed on paper, says Bridgitte H. Blanton, the eighth head librarian (now called director) in the library’s 112-year history. She says, “People still want to hold a book.” And in some cases steal it. The city was abuzz back in the 1970s when police arrested a library user after hundreds of library books, none of which he had bothered to check out, were found at his home. Reporter Hayes Clement Jr. of what’s now the News & Record wrote a story declaring that if the law throws the book at the thief, “he’ll probably keep it.” There were other library abusers. In 1988, when the library had typewriters for the public to use to type term papers and other documents, a patron went to the Benchmark Square Branch Library in southwest Greensboro and pecked out two notes that he later handed to tellers at two banks announcing, “This is a stick-up.” Public computers have long replaced typewriters. In 1979, still during the typewriter era, the Greensboro Library System became the state’s first to computerize its card catalog. For the benefit of people terrified of computers, the library kept its old catalog of 3-by-5 cards, although new books were not added to it. Today, the central library has more than 100 computers spaced throughout the two floors. The machines stay busy from opening until closing each day. The other day people sat at the computers playing games, watching Web cast TV shows and doing crossword puzzles. Some did serious work, including one man who sought to solve one of Greensboro’s most pressing social problems. “I’m trying to develop a program to end homelessness in Greensboro and surrounding counties” said Max Gamache. Greensboro, he said, does a good job feeding the homeless, but not finding housing for them. The college-educated Gamache comes to the library almost every day, and he knows his subject. He says he sleeps each night in a tent in the woods. He’s one of many homeless people drawn to the central library. Some come seeking relief from the heat in the summer, others, warmth in the winter. Some come in to just use the restrooms or to relax in the inviting chairs in the magazine section. In San Francisco, the library system added a social worker to the staff to assist the homeless. Greensboro hasn’t done that yet, but the staff has had training to help them relate to the less fortunate among us. “They are just like everyone else,” Blanton says, “and that is how we treat them. The library is free to everyone.” Branch libraries have increasingly become as important, if not more important, than the main library. When the Glenn McNairy Branch Library on Lake Jeanette Road opens this summer, it will mean the library system’s long-range plan for building and enlarging branches will be completed. In addition to the central library downtown, Greensboro will have eight branches in the suburbs. Blanton says the Kathleen Clay Edwards Family Branch off New Garden Road has the heaviest patronage, followed by the Blanche S. Benjamin Branch on Benjamin Parkway. The Art & Soul of Greensboro

August 2014

O.Henry 45


Greensboro didn’t have a single branch library until 1957. Even then, it was more a vestige of past racial segregation than a branch library. African American folks made do starting in 1924 with a small municipally run library on East Washington Street toward the rear of the Bennett College campus. The $10,000 to build it came from — there’s that man again — Andrew Carnegie. After integration, the Bennett building became the city’s first branch library. It was replaced in 1963 by what’s now called the Vance Chavis Branch Library at Benbow Road and East Lee Street. Since then, Bennett College has used the old library building for nonlibrary purposes. During a remodeling in the late 1990s, workers uncovered “Carnegie Negro Library” inscribed above the entrance. Beginning in the 1960s, downtown Greensboro began seeing an exodus of retailers to the suburbs where Friendly Shopping Center and many smaller cen- Today’s Greensboro Public Library ters beckoned. Some wanted the library to leave downtown altogether. During the discussion of where to build the fourth central library, a site was proposed at the corner of Wendover Avenue and North Elm, which at the time intersected near Moses Cone Hospital. The Greene Street site downtown won out. Twenty years later, when the city decided a new central library was needed to replace the one on North Greene, library director George Viele urged a suburban

site off Benjamin Parkway. Again, a decision was made in favor of downtown. The argument was that downtown desperately needed the library. Others insisted that it was only logical that a central library be in the central business district. People can despise government, and judging from the tea party and libertarian movements, some do. But here’s a challenge: Find a person who hates the Greensboro Public Library, which depends on tax money — presently $8.5 million annually. It’s nary impossible. As best can be determined, voters have never turned down a library bond issue. They have approved three since 1990 for building the present central library, to build new branches, to replace an old one and to expand two others. Although some workers in other governmental offices seem to exude a “do-you-have-to-bother-me?” look when the public approaches, the opposite prevails with staffs at the central and branch libraries. Bette Caldwell, the city’s first head librarian who never had more than two assistants, gained a reputation for finding answers to the most arcane questions patrons could pose. Wise-guy reporters at the Greensboro Daily News decided to test the library staff in 1924. They asked for the name of an obscure prince of an obscure European principality. By the end of the day, with no answer forthcoming, the reporters chortled, convinced they

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Street Level


Street Level

had stumped the library. At the last minute, a messenger appeared in the Daily News newsroom with a slip of paper. On it, the prince’s name. Nothing has changed. What are the names of Daisy Duck’s nieces, not to be confused with Donald Duck’s well known nephews, Huey, Dewey and Louie? The nieces have made only rare appearances over the ages in Donald Duck comic books, comic strips and movies. The staff did a little digging and informed the patron that the girls are April, May and June. Library staff members who graduated in library science at UNCG remember a professor who routinely made them search out answers to difficult questions. He knew patrons would ask them once the students entered the real world of libraries. About the only time the staff doesn’t succeed is when a question doesn’t have an answer. A person asked, who were God’s parents? The library staff always responds diplomatically to questions that some might view as idiotic. Diplomacy has paid off. “Our customers have established relationships with our staff,” says director Blanton. “They say, ‘My library.’ That is the greatest.” The staff mourned the death in 2005 of perhaps its most faithful customer, Edna Arnold, who checked out books for 85 years at four of the five central libraries. She was 10 in 1919 (Quick, library staff, who was president? Answer: Woodrow Wilson) when she walked by herself a mile from her home outside the northeast city limits to the streetcar stop on Summit Avenue. She rode to the downtown and for the first time went to the Carnegie Library. “I don’t know how you live without reading,” Arnold told me in a 1998 interview as the latest central library prepared to open. She recalled how at the old Carnegie Library she was told she could only check out one book at a time. She had two in her hand. One of Bette Caldwell’s assistants, Nellie Rowe (later Nellie Rowe Jones, who succeeded Caldwell), allowed her to check out the second book using Rowe’s card. “That showed the library would trust you,” Arnold told me. Judging from the successful bond votes and the crowds that gather outside central and the branch libraries each day waiting for doors to open, the public in turn trusts and likes its own People’s University. Perhaps the library’s greatest compliment, according to Helen Snow’s book, came in 1998 when “The Tattler,” an international newsletter about libraries, wrote that Greensboro’s new central library might be “the most patron-friendly . . . in the nation.” OH Jim Schlosser, contributing editor of O.Henry, is a walking library. He can be reached at jim@ohenrymag.com

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O.Henry 47


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The Art & Soul of Greensboro


Life of Jane

Faking It

How I came of age — sort of ­— on the Grand Western Tour

By Jane Borden

Sometime in the late ’80s, a couple of my

Illustration by Meridith Martens

sister’s friends approached a convenience store counter in Greensboro, put a case of beer on it and pulled out fake IDs. The cashier denied the request, saying the girls were underage. They protested: No, they were definitely 21. Then the cashier produced a newspaper, opened it, folded it, said, “No, you’re not,” and pointed to their pictures above a story about area Girl Scouts receiving Gold Awards.

The Great Gold-Award Caper, a favorite story from my youth, has left me with many questions — including: Would the clerk have believed them otherwise? And also: Why was the clerk so interested in a story about Girl Scouts to have recognized them in the first place? There is a question, though, I didn’t have to ask for long: Where did they get the IDs? They’d purchased them on the Grand Western Tour. A few years later, I snagged one myself. When I turned 15, my parents sent me on a five-week field trip, via bus, across the country and back, called the Grand Western Tour. It left out of Winston-Salem, as it does today — and has for more than fifty years. My sisters were also fortunate enough to make the tour, as were many of their friends and mine. My year, there were enough 15-year-olds, almost all from North Carolina and Virginia, to fill two buses, each with forty-four passenger seats. The demographics broke down as such: eighty kids, eight chaperones, two drivers. But the drivers were mostly concerned with steering and pumping brakes; for all intents and purposes there were eight adults in charge of eighty kids. That’s ten-to-one. Latin American countries have been overthrown by a fraction of that margin.  The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Why would any adult willfully enter this postmodern hell? I remember some saying they did it in order to see the country. But what can you see when your eyes must never stray from the pimply faces of eighty impudent teens? Eighty. In some towns, that’s an entire high school — except put on wheels and sleeping in motels. Every day I’m thankful, if surprised, that the drivers and chaperones didn’t take each other’s hands one morning and Thelma and Louise us off Pike’s Peak. But if I’m not sure how they put up with us, I do know why we behaved: fear and threats. The rules were numerous and strict. No smoking, drinking or being out of your room after curfew; no boys allowed in girls’ rooms or vice versa; no single boy and girl allowed alone, ever. (Romantic relationships formed and dissolved without ever encountering a kiss.) Any transgression, even once, resulted in immediate ejection, without refund, via a plane ticket purchased at your parents’ expense. No trial, no second chance. Rumors flew down the bus aisles about rogue kids kicked off in the past. Almost always they were those who already had reputations in their respective towns, and sometimes statewide notoriety. But occasionally, the names surprised. “Him? Just one cigarette? But he gets honor roll!” It could happen to anyone. We were terrified. None of us, as far as I knew, ever broke a rule. Which I can only say because there was no edict regarding fake IDs. In this endeavor, tour veterans banded together over the years, passing down the location of the unscrupulous purveyor of identification cards like a piece of oral history. I can’t remember exactly what information we had — an address scribbled on a slip of paper, a business name we then found in a motel phone book, a description of a building on a block? But I do recall that several people, from a variety of cities, boarded the bus already informed. “There’s a place in El Paso. It makes IDs. They ask no questions.” Did no one across the state of North Carolina wonder about the influx of Texans, and how they defied the ravages of time? I knew I didn’t appear old enough to drink. I still had baby fat. When you’re 36, you might look 30. But 21 and 15 are hardly ever interchangeable, as evidenced by the unconvincing casts of shows on the ABC Family network. August 2014

O.Henry 49


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Life of Jane

So, before my friends and I entered the small, nondescript business, I’d already decided not to push it. I’d choose a birthdate making me 18, because I wanted it to be believable — the cheaply laminated “Personal Identification” card from Texas that looked nothing like an actual ID from Texas — but believable. My friends laughed at me. I didn’t even smoke. “What are you going to use it for,” they joked, “to vote?” But this was a grave matter. One must be fastidious when breaking the law. So I thought of everything. Anticipating questions from suspicious future bouncers, I provided almost exclusively accurate information, including my real full name, street address, birth date and month, and Social Security number. I was me, except 18 and from Dallas. I didn’t know the ZIP Codes of Dallas, though, so I guessed. Googling 78408, today, I see it’s assigned to an area of Corpus Christi, so at least I was within the same state. Then I flipped my long hair, parting it on the opposite side for lift and body — which equalled age, in my 15-year-old brain — and barely smiled for the shot, ambivalence being another attribute of maturity. In retrospect, I’m sure the only successful transactions made with these IDs occurred when the checkout employee didn’t care anyway. But at the time, we were cocksure. Who in North Carolina would be familiar with Texas IDs? Or Dallas ZIP Codes? Or the fool-proof hair-flip trick? Later that summer, while my family vacationed on the coast, the Spin Doctors announced a concert at the Mad Monk in Wilmington. I wanted to go, but the Mad Monk, which burned down a few years later, was an 18-and-over club. How fortunate that my pal from Texas was with me. I remember joking with a friend, while standing in line, that I felt like I had a “pocketful of kryptonite.” But El Paso pulled through. Without asking me to recite my address, re-part my hair, or list the state bird and flower of Texas, the bouncer nonchalantly waved me in. I’m not saying I passed for 18, only that, if the bouncer was suspicious, he probably asked himself, “Who gets a fake ID for 18?” OH Greensboro native Jane Borden, author of the highlyacclaimed I Totally Meant To Do That, lives in L.A., where she relishes being asked for an ID. The Art & Soul of Greensboro

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O.Henry 51


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www.meridithmartens.com The Art & Soul of Greensboro


August 2014

Crabbing My chore, a child on a boat, Was to hold unforgiving In spider-like hands A wooden ruler, wooden So it would float Should I drop it over the side And, having no other standard To judge them by, the coastal patrol Would hold us immeasurable For illegal possessions.

I do not now know What size I need be To be measured for death And its odd in-betweens — Whether it will be a joy To be thrown back rough, cold, Into the unforgiveness of oceans, Or more a joy To finally behold the flame With the pot for the boiling.

How all day crabs could be fooled As strung pieces of meat Swung from our boat Like the real heart of darkness Or some crazed Chicken Little Too horrible for telling. I stood measuring up The brown basket’s filling.

— Bob Wickless

By evening, with hungers worked keen In salt air and Old Bay Seasoning, We legally feasted On dozens of crabs 5 inches or longer, And night came slowly, Rippling the waters Like a Venetian blind so carefully closed You didn’t first notice the closing . . .

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

August 2014

O.Henry 53


Summer

Shorts

The Fragrance of a Different Life By Anthony S. Abbott

It begins, of course, with the ocean — the Jersey Shore, the Grand Strand, Big Sur, Malibu and the thousands of less famous beaches where we all went and continue to go for a

week or month as the case may be. It begins with the waves coming in and us as children or adults riding the waves, churning through the foam to the gravelly sand on the shore. How I loved the beach as a boy, loved riding those waves. How I loved making sand castles and watching the waves come in, bit by bit, inch by inch, until they swallowed up our best handiwork. I made these works of art first of all for myself and then for my niece and nephew and later for my children and later still for my grandchildren. Sometimes we waited to watch the waves wash over them, and sometimes we left when we finished our work so that we wouldn’t have to see the destruction. For me, the summer was the most complex time of year. I started boarding school in the fourth grade, and often would go to the beach for a few days with my grandparents or a school friend before settling in for the vast reaches of June, July and August. The question was where? And with whom? I just went where I was sent. At 12 I flew across the country by myself, braving summer thunderstorms in a series of D-6s, to spend the summer with my father and his second family in California. It was not particularly successful, and the following summer I begged my godmother, Marion Lowe, to let me stay with her at her ranch in Santa Cruz, California. She consented, and this time I crossed the country by train rather than risking the terrors of the sky. The train was wonderful. Closed in the Pullman car’s lower berth, I could raise the shade and watch the mysterious mountains and rivers, cities and towns, slide past in the starlit darkness of the night. Two summers later I went back to California to work as a camp counselor, this time on the Greyhound bus, because I had to pay for the trip myself, and I remember arriving in San Francisco, pale and thin like Banquo’s ghost, because I had not saved enough money to feed myself properly on the way. One of my favorite summers was the one after my senior year in prep school, when I worked for the Pennsylvania State Highway Department and stayed in the home of a friend, who taught me how to drive and how to smoke. How we all smoked then, and how we loved it, cradling the cigarettes between our index and middle fingers, trying to take the tip of the cigarette into our mouths with the casualness of Cary Grant or Humphrey Bogart. As teachers we mark our calendars by the school year, which begins in September and ends in June, and so when we came to Davidson, North Carolina, in 1964, as a family of five, the question still remained — what will you do this summer? Our solution was to buy property on nearby Lake Norman, a huge artificial lake built by the Duke Power Co. And so every summer, when school was out, we moved the family from Davidson all of eleven miles to Lake Norman, where we swam and fished and waterskied and lived side by side with two other families whose children were the same age. Now, fifty years later, we live in our local retirement community, The Pines at Davidson, but when school is out we still move back to the lake for the summer and continue to enjoy our dear friends on either side of us. The children and grandchildren come back to visit, and the neighbor across the cove, who taught some of us to waterski in the 1960s, is now teaching the grandchildren. Summer has always been special — a time to smell the fragrance of a different life. And my three sons seem to have inherited that feeling. Two of them are teachers, and we all savor that moment when the last class is over, the last exam taken or graded, the last faculty meeting attended — a moment when we can stop and breathe and feel the lake or the ocean or the mountain air, something entirely different from the classroom and the college campus. And after Labor Day, when a few yellow maple leaves begin to fall, we come back to our teaching and our studies refreshed and renewed by the magic of one more summer. I am thankful for that. Anthony S. Abbott served as president of the North Carolina Poetry Society from 2009–2011. His newest book of poems, The Angel Dialogues, was released in March 2014.

54 O.Henry

August 2014

The Art & Soul of Greensboro


Summer

Shorts

The Grandstand By Clyde Edgerton

When I think of childhood summers, I see the

baseball field and grandstand on the school near my boyhood home. No fence stood around the field. My friends and I used it at will. I remember fences around nothing but dog pens, chicken pens and pastures. But there were plenty of invisible fences. No black child would have dared walk through the invisible fence around that ball field or the one around our church or school. But we — my four or five main buddies and I — were carefree. (Mind you, I’m not writing here about a romantic, hazy-lazy summer boyhood thing: one friend’s daddy regularly beat him with a belt; another was often hungry and sometimes uncared for — his parents were bad to drink.) But back to baseball. I recall ball field sweat, sunburn, dirt and game suspense — with brief spells sitting in the shade of the ancient, covered, wooden grandstand that stood behind home plate. I recall no regulation bases (we used boards, cardboard or discarded shirts), no adult supervision and no uniforms. We did have a pitcher’s mound with a rubber (“pitcher’s plate”) that was occasionally replaced after almost wearing away (high school ball was played on the field until 1958 when a consolidated high school was built in a nearby community). Left field was relatively shallow. You could hit a home run over the left fielder’s head and into a deep gully that ran from left to center. If you hit the ball over the right fielder’s head, the ball would roll eternally — and on until it came up behind you. I remember regularly driving a car across the outfield once I was about 12 (there was a dirt road and a cart path from my house to the ball field). In the open car trunk would be a barrel of trash for me to empty in the community trash dump. It was in that left-field gully. Surely my mother saw the unbridled glee in my eyes when she handed me the car keys. Crafton Mitchell and I, setting off fireworks, once caught the dump on fire. The grandstand served as our backstop — since we never had enough players for a catcher. It was a wooden structure about a story high, maybe four car-widths wide and just as deep. Chicken wire extended across the open front. If you could have looked down from the sky, you’d see that the entire infield appeared to be placed in a deep horse-hoof print in the sand. The highest bank stood behind home plate — slanting upward under the grandstand floor — the grandstand having been built up the slant of the high bank. The floor of the grandstand was composed of giant wooden “steps,” each The Art & Soul of Greensboro

wide enough to sit on comfortably and tall enough to lean back against — not “open” like today’s bleacher stands. The character of our spot on earth, the soul of the enterprise, rested in that grandstand, the structure. When I was 7, Crafton Mitchell and I, exploring the neighborhood, found a half pack of Lucky Strike cigarettes on one of those big steps. We were old enough to know what we shouldn’t do — but, alone, at the grandstand, we looked at each other and realized . . . realized what we had to do. Crafton walked home for matches while I stood guard. We lost our clear-lung virginity that afternoon. At the grandstand. What all else was gained and lost inside, beneath, and behind that grandstand — from glasses to coats to other treasures — I will never know nor measure. (I only heard stories, of course.) I do know it was cool under the grandstand, especially if a breeze blew across the shaded red clay. I remember cheering from the grandstand during high school baseball games and church softball games. I remember watching field events, a donkey baseball game, hobby airplane flying, pickup football games in the outfield. One day at a church field-day footrace, Gideon Powers, a church elder, stood at the end of a makeshift racetrack (a group of us 6-year-old boys started on the third base line and raced to a chalk line drawn between first and second base). At the race’s end, he grabbed the winner, me (the only race I ever won), lifted me onto his shoulders and paraded me around the bases and along the grandstand walk-through aisle that was behind the grandstand screen. Spectators cheered. I was on top of the world — in the grandstand. I remember Cecil Overcash, during a church softball game, turning, standing, and charging backward from his catcher position (eyes to the heavens — on a fouled pop softball), running full speed into a tall corner post of the grandstand — so hard he was knocked unconscious. They lay him on one of the big wooden steps and waited. He finally came around. The game started up again. I’m guessing that the grandstand was a place like some of those places you remember. Pick up a pen. Talk into your cell phone recorder, if you must, but, please, see that your grandstands and swimming holes stay alive in the stories and memories of those who love you, that they stay alive after your mind — their current keeper — is no more. Clyde Edgerton is the author of ten novels, a memoir, and a new work, Papadaddy’s Book for New Fathers. He is the Thomas S. Kenan III Distinguished Professor of Creative Writing at UNCW. August 2014

O.Henry 55


Summer

Shorts

Luna Moth By Virginia Holman

The shadow

of the Milky Way is the best path. You’ll know you’re close when you hear the mockingbird that’s switched day for night. He’ll call from atop the starlit juniper: I’m a shrike, a jay, a hawk, a frog. Past the paved road, past the shell-lined lane, past the lit kitchen of the widow woman find a creek and beside it a blank-faced silvered tree. Follow the grassy lane beside the garden planted from last year’s harvest: tasseled Country Gentleman, pole beans coiling web thin tendrils, ripening Hanovers, okra and cucumbers for pickling. Move the box turtles from the strawberries before the man with a bucket arrives near dawn. The wood steps are now concrete, but step light just the same. Press your face against the sour screen. The old ship’s table is there, a thick scar down its center, the bolts long removed from the heavy brass base. A magnolia darkens in a hand-painted tureen. The table’s set for breakfast, all the dishes turned upside down. Beyond that lies the unseen parlor, farther still, the bed where your family was made and born. The door’s not locked, it never is, but the rusting hook is set, and what better place is there than this side of the threshold, where, if you wait long enough, the day will arrive and with it your man, and the hinge in your heart will unfold as he rocks the old cane chair up on two legs, and points out — there, right in front of you — what you’ve missed? Virginia Holman is the author of Rescuing Patty Hearst (Simon & Schuster), a memoir of her late mother’s untreated schizophrenia. An avid kayaker and outdoorsy type, she writes the monthly “Excursions” column for Salt magazine. She teaches in the department of creative writing at UNC Wilmington.

56 O.Henry

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The Art & Soul of Greensboro


Blasphemy By Stephen E. Smith

The Reverend Aldridge Chandler hunkered in the airless vestry, his black velvet robe billowing about

him, and placed his hands on the shoulders of my newly altered seersucker jacket. “Well,” he said, “your mother’s not much of a seamstress, is she?” I didn’t respond. Language had lost all meaning an hour earlier as I stood before the bedroom mirror to examine Mother’s handiwork. Somehow she’d transformed the two dollar thrift shop jacket she’d purchased for me the day before into a sagging circus tent. The puckered shoulder seams fell an inch below where the upper joint of my humerus joined the scapula and sent the crooked sleeves distending downward to catch me just below my elbows. She’d managed to shorten the sleeves a full three inches more than necessary so that the cuffs of my starched dress shirt extended like stovepipes into my clammy palms. My cuff links provided the crowning touch. Embedded in opaque amber were Caribbean sunsets pieced together from butterfly wings. My grandparents had given me the cuff links for my birthday, and until that moment I’d thought them the height of fashion. As I studied my funhouse reflection, those two twilights dangled like cheap souvenir ashtrays at the ends of my wilted arms. I was as mortified as an 8-year-old could be. “It’s OK,” Reverend Chandler said. “I think you’ll make an excellent acolyte.” He produced a Zippo, snapped it open, touched fire to the wick and handed me the brass candle lighter, the flame flickering tenuously as the first booming notes from the Möller pipe organ reverberated in the rafters. Then he spun me around, opened the door to the sanctuary and gave me an emphatic shove. And there I was in front of the congregation at Saint Mark’s United Methodist Church, my brain overloading on sensory stimuli — the dust motes suspended in the light funneling through the stained-glass windows, the high altar’s brass cross and collection plates, the plush red carpet, the purple altar drapes — and the eyes of every member of the church focused on me. I was utterly stupefied. What the heck was I supposed to do? I cast a side glance at the congregation and spied Mother, her face crimson — whether from the August heat or embarrassment, I wasn’t sure — grimacing in the front pew. She nodded toward the altar. Oh, yeah, I had to light the candles! Stepping off solemnly on my

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

right foot, I halted momentarily when I noticed that my left shoelace had come untied. I considered pausing to retie it, but what would I have done with the brass lighter? Instead, I shuffled cautiously to the first candle holder, touched the flame to the brass-capped wick and watched it flicker to life. As Reverend Chandler had instructed, I performed an abbreviated genuflection in front of the cross and paused before attempting to light the second candle. That’s when I noticed that the flame on the lighter had gone out. How in heaven’s name was I going to light the second candle? The answer came in a burst of divine inspiration, a voice whispering in my brain: “Hey stupid, walk back to the first candle and relight the candle lighter.” Of course! I staggered in front of the cross a second time, pausing to offer a cursory bow, and carefully touched the wick of the lighted candle. Nothing. I tried a second time. No flame. I spotted the problem: The lighter wick had burned down. I pushed the extender up with my thumb, forcing the wick out to its full length — at least six inches — and touched it to the lighted candle. A flame shot heavenward like a bottle rocket, and a palpable gasp issued from the congregation. I retracted the wick, brought the conflagration under control, and strolled back to the second candle, which, praise God, lighted without incident. All I had to do was make a clean getaway. I stepped off toward the vestry door, successfully completing four respectful strides before my shoelace twisted around my left shoe and sent me sprawling, the brass candle lighter clattering across the floor. I instantly rose to a crouched position, one foot extended, the other bent beneath me as if I were on the starting blocks for the fifty yard dash, and lurched forward just as a hand reached from the vestry to grab me by the arm. A loud tearing of cloth reverberated through the sanctuary as my newly tailored jacket ripped loose at the left shoulder seam. For a moment, I lay flat on the vestry floor, perspiration running in rivulets down my arms, my breath coming in short shuddery jolts. And then I did it — I looked the Reverend Aldridge Chandler full in the face and blurted an involuntary profanity. “It’s well,” he said, “that Jesus loves the little children.” Stephen E. Smith, our Omnivorous Reader, is the author of eight books of poetry and prose, including Selected New and Old Poems: A Short Report on the Fire at Woolworths. August 2014

O.Henry 57


Summer

Shorts

Swimming Novels By Angela Davis-Gardner

A girl and boy, each dressed in a black tank suit, mount writers’ blocks at the end of a regulation length

pool. The water is blue and flat, a tabula rasa of a pool. It’s the swimming of novels event, no ties allowed. The stands are hushed. Editors line the front row, craning forward with binoculars. The girl tries out her racing dive position, curling her toes over the edge of the block and flexing her strong brown knees. A recent M.F.A. graduate, she is a tall, well-made young woman with long smooth muscles and a calm exterior. She is aware that she looks formidable, but this weakens rather than strengthens her, for she is acutely conscious of the chasm between seeming and being. Furthermore, too great a show of strength may put the crowd on her brother’s side. She glances up, looking at the far end of the pool where her father is typing, coaching by example. He has lectured her on the perils of vacillation. The boy hikes up his suit. Still ringing in his ears is the locker room pep talk, a tape of Faulkner’s Nobel acceptance. He will not only survive but endure. He already has some brilliant metaphors; all he needs is a conflict. He casts a glance at his sister. She tried suicide once; he might use that. “On your marks, get set . . .” The swimmers crouch. The gun sounds. The boy leaps in, holding his nose. The girl stares out at a wisp of fog moving over the water’s surface: pistol smoke? Miasma? In the distance there is what might be the roar of a crowd. She stares down at her own reflection, then out at her brother. He is dog-paddling back toward her, his hair plastered to his skull, a look of terror on his face. “Go on,” she shouts at him. “Get going.” He tilts backward and flails his arms, his eyes still fixed on her, beseeching. She dives, glides beneath the surface. There’s a fine silence underwater. She executes a strong frog kick, pulls her arms down her sides. Maybe she’ll go the whole distance like this. A pelagic habitat: She likes the sound of it. Other liquid sounding words come to mind: nesslerize, plaice. She comes even with the boy’s flutter kick. Words begin to teem around her, a soup of vowels, consonants. She breaks the surface, sidestrokes beside her brother. He turns toward

58 O.Henry

August 2014

her and they swim together, moving dreamily toward the end. Both coaches are at the pool’s edge now, typing against each other and shouting their protégées forward. The boy’s coach is trumpeting reviews of his first lap: heartrending, original. The girl’s coach growls to get serious, she’s behind for her age. She does a flip turn and pushes off hard. Behind her he’s reciting names, Eudora, Flannery, all the early learners. She kicks harder, moving out into the silence, then turns on her back and drifts. There’s no hurry. Her coach has already written out the first chapter for her; all she has to do is swim it. The boy churns past doing the Great American Crawl. He gives her a gleeful smile as he turns his head to breathe. He’s in water wings now, and flippers. Treading water, the girl looks back over her shoulder. He’s younger, their mother shouts, it’s only fair. Her coach shouts at her through a bullhorn: the advantages she’s had, all the money spent, orthodontia, violin. They are even on the turn, then swim side-by-side, stroke-forstroke, in comfortable rhythm. They go on, lap after lap, sentences trailing after them. The coaches shout page counts on the turns and sieve out the words in nets. The words are dried, strained, formed into chapters, set in type. Slim volumes appear on the blocks along with publicity photographs. The girl develops a foot cramp, her pace slows. She and the boy pass going opposite directions. It’s hard to tell who’s ahead or behind. They seem to be in a different pool now, kidney shaped, like the pool at a cheap motel. The girl watches her right hand as she swims; it’s wrinkling, shriveling. Her heart is shriveling; a small stone in her chest. It is growing dark. Her brother is no longer in sight. She discovers that it is impossible to cry underwater. In the distance her father is urging her to hurry, bring the story to a climax. She’s been published but remaindered, he says, there’s very little time. The water begins to pick up a chop; it tastes of brine. The bottom lines are no longer visible. The bleachers have emptied, and the coaches have vanished. No one is keeping score, yet as night falls the boy and girl keep swimming, striking out into open sea. Novelist Angela Davis-Gardner was in the first graduating class of UNC Greensboro’s MFA program. In her youth, she swam thousands of miles as part of Bob Jamieson’s Greensboro girls’ swimming team.  

The Art & Soul of Greensboro


Summer

Shorts

The Body By Wiley Cash

Close your eyes for a moment and find yourself standing in the yard of the house you grew up in. It’s early summer and

not quite hot this late in the day. The soft light of fireflies has begun to lift from the high grass around the porch. There are things you can hear in the distance: the muffled bounce of a basketball on the pavement up the street; the piercing but somehow comforting whine of an electric saw that echoes from a neighbor’s garage. A sprinkler runs in the yard next door, the soft spray of water carrying itself across the grass; the smell of freshly cut blades mingles with that of the damp earth beneath. The sprinkler mists the road, and there is the smell of sun-warmed cement being cooled. You’re not quite old enough to have a job, but you’re old enough to be at home alone. Because of this there is a range of possibilities that seem limitless; you’re confined only by your imagination or how long you’re willing to wait for something — anything — to happen. But then you hear it: the crunch of bike tires on the road behind you; the squeal of brakes before a foot comes off the pedal; the voice that calls your name. John Warner’s 15, too old to be sitting on his bike in front of your house, calling your name and staring at you. You’re not so much afraid of him as you are wary of him. He’s alone, which is good, because you’re more afraid of his friend: Jerry Kistler. There was the time you left your skateboard near the mailbox and went inside for a drink, and when you came back out Jerry

Kistler was sitting on his bike with your skateboard tucked under his arm. John Warner sat on his own bike beside him. It seemed as if Kistler were waiting for you so you could see him with your skateboard, and then the two of them rode away. John Warner had looked back at you and smiled. You’re thinking about that smile now as John calls your name again. “What do you want?” you ask, your voice higher and tighter than it would be if John were one of your friends. “I want to show you something,” he says. “What?” “I can’t tell you.” He spits something out and rubs it into the asphalt with his shoe. “You have to come see it.” “My parents aren’t home,” you say. “I can’t leave the yard.” He laughs at this, and you feel your face turning red, your ears growing warm. “It won’t take but a second,” he says. He turns his bike to face down the street. Your garage door is open, and your bike leans against the wall inside. John nods toward your bike. “Follow me.” Before you know it you’re on your bike following John Warner through your neighborhood, praying that he doesn’t cross Union Road, the only place where you know for certain you’re not allowed to go. But he turns right just before the road dead-ends at the elementary school, and you follow him down the nature trail behind the baseball field. When you catch up to him you find he’s left his bike lying on its side, and he’s standing atop a culvert at the edge of the trail. “Look,” he says, pointing into the culvert. You leave your bike beside his and walk over to him, fearing what you’re about to see or what he could do with the two of you out here alone, the sun sinking behind the trees, the light fading. “Look,” he says again. In the culvert, just a few yards below, are the bones of some small animal. Little tufts of orange-brown fur are caught in the dry, dead leaves around it. “What do you think it was?” John asks. At first you think it was a cat, but it seems that John is asking you a question to which he already knows the answer, and you’re afraid of being wrong. “I don’t know,” you say. “I think it might be my cat,” he says. “I’ve been looking for her.” And something about how he says it makes you believe it is. “Jerry told me cats go off to die alone when they’re sick, and that I’d probably never find her.” It’s grown darker while the two of you have been standing there, making the bones even harder to see. “I don’t think it’s a cat,” you say. “Really?” John says. “It’s too small.” “You think we should bury it?” But he turns away before you can answer, and you hear him pick up his bike and push it up the trail. “I’m going to get a shovel,” he says. “Wait here.” And it’s not until he’s gone that you realize he was crying. Wiley Cash is a New York Times best-selling author whose second novel, This Dark Road to Mercy, was released in January 2014. He lives in Wilmington.

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

August 2014

O.Henry 59


Summer

Shorts

Back Then By Lee Smith

Back then, summer stretched out before us like another country, ours to plunder and explore. “Summertime” was

literally different, another kind of time — longer, larger. It belonged to us alone. In that rough remote corner of southwest Virginia where I grew up, the landscape was pretty much perpendicular and the roads were pretty scarce. But I always felt comforted by the ring of mountains which nestled our little town “like a play-pretty cotched in the hand of God,” as my Aunt Kate always described it. Once school was out, we threw down our books and ran those mountains ridge to ridge like little animals, me and my cousins and the other kids in Cowtown, as our stretch of Route 460 was called, enjoying a kind of freedom which would be hard to imagine today — climbing trees and cliffs, playing in caves, swinging on grapevines, catching salamanders, damming up the creek, building lean-tos and lookouts, playing Indians and settlers with our homemade slingshots or the occasional Christmas bow-and-arrow set. We formed dozens of clubs, each with its own secret handshake and code words and initiation. We’d stay up in the mountains until they rang the big bell to call us home. Back then I ate supper with everybody. Martha Sue Owens was my best friend and her mother made the best cream gravy and cornbread, my favorite, but the sophisticated Trivetts ate the most exotic things, such as lasagna and chop suey, which the rest of us had never heard of. I learned to swim in their backyard pool. Back then we didn’t have camps or lessons or any organized activities except a week of Vacation Bible School, where we made lanyards and drank red Kool-Aid and ate Lorna Doone cookies and sang “Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight, Jesus loves the little children of the world,” though we had never seen any of those other ones. Back then I spent a lot of time in my own backyard sitting under a giant cluster of forsythia bushes that I called the “dogbushes” because

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I took an endless series of family dogs under there with me — my Pekingese Missy and our boxer, Queenie, come to mind — along with an entire town filled with imaginary friends. My two best friends in that dogbush town were Sylvia and Vienna. Vienna was named for my favorite food, the Vienna sausages in the nice flat cans that I used to take under there to eat, along with some of those little cellophane packets of saltine crackers. My friend Vienna was very beautiful, with long curly red hair. But my friend Sylvia could fly, something I aspired to. I often took the steep path down the riverbank to my “wading house,” the understory of a willow tree half in and half out of the water. The wading house was home to many animal friends such as a young lizard named Jerry (because I couldn’t tell if it was a boy lizard or a girl lizard, and Jerrys can go either way), old Grandfather Turtle and his three silly granddaughters, a baby watersnake named Oliver, and a huge family of busy brown bugs. We weren’t supposed to wade or swim when the river ran black with the coal they were washing upstream. But once Martha Sue and I made rafts out of boards tied onto innertubes and floated away to Kentucky, where we planned to become racehorse riders. We floated down the river around the bend and under the Hoot Owl bridge, past the hospital and the depot, all the way to town where our trip was cut short behind my daddy’s dimestore. Here we were greeted by a sizable crowd including my daddy himself, alerted by enemy spies. We were quickly returned dripping wet to our worried mothers for a spanking. I think I was lucky to grow up back then in those long lazy summertimes that stretched our souls and our imaginations, with mountains and trees and animals for friends, back then when the word “twitter” meant only birdsong. Lee Smith has published thirteen novels and four collections of short stories. She is the recipient of numerous literary awards, including the N.C. Award for Literature. Her newest novel is Guests on Earth.

The Art & Soul of Greensboro


Summer

Shorts

Benji’s Mother By Ruth Moose

The first and only time I ever met Benji’s mother she accused me of murder. Her eyes black onyx, her hair loose and wild,

she screamed, “You tried to kill my child.” Stunned, I just stood there, shaking. For the last six weeks, Benji, her son, had come every day to play with my son. Benji would appear at my back door as soon as Captain Kangaroo went off the TV, asking if Lyle, my 5-year-old, could come out to play. The two boys played well together, never arguing, not even mock wrestling or fighting. They played in our backyard on swings, a sandbox, the treehouse/fort my husband had built. In and out, they had Kool-Aid, graham crackers, cheese, snack kinds of things. Sometimes I fed Benji lunch if he lingered long after I called Lyle in. One of my house rules was Quiet Time. After lunch every day, my son had to go to his room to read or nap or play quietly. Alone. Two peaceful, quiet hours. No playmates. Often he napped. And so did I. Survival mode. After lunch, I explained to Benji about Quiet Time and that he had to go home. He seemed to accept this and, head down, slowly left. For some reason I felt a bit guilty. Especially after the day I found him sitting on our front steps where he’d been the whole time. Waiting. Two quiet hours. Always in clean jeans or camp shorts and T-shirts, though rumpled and scruffy, Benji wore an air of sadness. I don’t remember ever seeing him smile. He was a good kid, shared, never raised his voice nor asked for anything, not even a drink of water. Busy with a new baby, I’d been grateful for Lyle to have a pleasant playmate and Benji seemed a sweet child, absolutely no trouble. Once when I had some errand and Benji was there, I drove him home. I was also a bit curious. Two streets up, the house was like others in the development, brick, front porch stoop, back screen porch, large, but bare, lawns, front and back. Good level playing areas but no swings, no trampoline, nothing. The grass was mowed, but shrubbery, straggly, untrimmed, reached the tightly shuttered windows. I’d asked neighbors about Benji when he first came to play. No one knew much. Only that his mother sent him and his older sister out to play, locked her doors. They weren’t allowed back in until dark. Or maybe a thunderstorm. What did she do all day in that locked house? No one knew. Alcohol? That was a guess. Hooked on soaps? Another guess. Few had ever seen “hide nor hair of her,” they said. The father? Word was he traveled, gone weeks at a time. The day I met Benji’s mother was one of those rare, rainy days in summer. Not hard rain, but enough so kids had to play inside. Benji had been there, as he was most mornings. He and my son had played board games, done puzzles and I’d brought out some coloring books, magic paint books, brushes, a toy teacup of water. The boys played until lunch time, then Benji went home. I hadn’t gotten the peanut butter sandwiches on the table when The Art & Soul of Greensboro

someone blam, blam, blammed my back screen door, barged in my kitchen. Barged in! Scared me. Startled, I turned around, saw Benji being held by the scruff of his T-shirt and a woman wild with rage, screaming “What have you done to my son?” “Nothing.” The boys had played well. Peaceful. “What did you feed him? You tried to poison him,” she screamed, still holding the hapless child like a small, scared animal. Benji looked pale, helpless. “Nothing,” I repeated. Tried to think what they’d had for snacks. Maybe a cereal bar. Did it have nuts? He was allergic to nuts? “Look at his mouth,” she jerked Benji around, yanked open his mouth. “Stick out your tongue.” Benji’s tongue was black. “Look,” she said. “It’s black. His tongue is black. You tried to kill him.” I was puzzled. Nothing I’d fed him would have caused his tongue to go black. I called my son into the room. “Let me see your tongue.” Lyle looked puzzled but poked out his tongue, his eyes asking if I was going to take his temperature or was he going to the doctor. His tongue was pink, normal. Really puzzled now I said, “Let’s go to your room.” Benji’s mother followed, having finally let go the scuff of his T-shirt. “Show me what you were playing, ” I said. The play table with two chairs had puzzles and games and on top them, open, lay the two Magic Paint books, pages damp and limp. I picked up one of the brushes. Wet, too. “We painted,” my son said. “Lots of pages.” “Show me,” I said. He picked up a brush, dipped it in the water, flipped to a new page and began to paint. Colors appeared. Red, blue, purple. No black. Benji picked up a brush, put it in his mouth to wet it, started toward the page. “Wait,” I said. “Is this how you did all your pages?” He nodded. His mother stepped back from looking over his shoulder, hands still on her hips.“Is it poison?” Her voice was lower now, but still had an edge. “I bet it’s poison.” I picked up one of the books, read on the back cover in very small print, “Safe. Only water required to make the colors appear.” I pointed, showed her, watched her read it. Mystery solved. She took her hands off her hips and we went back to the kitchen. Benji followed her out the door. I never saw either of them again. Ruth Moose, author of three books of short stories and six collections of poetry, taught creative writing at UNC-Chapel Hill for fifteen years. Her first novel, Doing it at the Dixie Dew, won the Malice Domestic Prize and was published by St. Martin’s Press in May, 2014. August 2014

O.Henry 61


Summer

Shorts

The Mysterious Indoors By Dana Sachs

It was August 1979 and the Memphis heat was a monster. My friends Laura and Kathy and I didn’t emerge from

the air conditioning until 10 at night, when the city turned soft and amiable, easy on the skin and full of promise. For three or four hours, we would roam the bars of Midtown, listening to the bands we loved, dancing until our hair clumped with sweat behind our ears, until our bare feet turned black from dirty floors, subsisting on Tic Tacs and water. When the lights came on after a show, we dug around under tables to find the tortuous pumps that we had bought — optimistically and at fifty cents a pair — from St. Vincent de Paul or Salvation Army. We had known each other all our lives. Laura and I were about to start our senior year of high school; Kathy was heading off to college. Insatiable and fearless, they refused to go home until dawn. I was the sleepy, shy one. I trailed them in the crucial experiences of life (love and sex, namely), but felt too meek to catch up. Usually, they dropped me off at home at 2 a.m. before dashing off to a new adventure. Many nights, “adventure” meant using the Howard’s Donuts pay phone to call Randy and try to get into his house. Randy played bass in our favorite band, the Randy Band (I still don’t know if it was named for him or for the British term for “lusty”). Quirky and elusive, Randy was 26 or 27, long-haired and bespectacled, big-grinned but often silent, part John Lennon, part Cheshire Cat. He lived alone in a ranch house, his mother having died, his father having decamped to a girlfriend’s place in the suburbs. He had converted a spare bedroom into a recording studio and he and his guy friends hung out there all night. He made that humdrum neighborhood as cool as New York City. Randy was gracious with invitations but only rarely followed through. Phoning Laura in the afternoons, he would purr, “Call me later and come over.” But when she dialed his number at 2 a.m., he mostly didn’t answer. That was the game they played: Sometimes he let them in; sometimes he didn’t. That summer, I decided that seeing inside Randy’s house was a necessary step toward growing up. One night, then, I stayed in the car when they drove over. We parked Laura’s brother’s yellow Beetle at the curb and went around to the

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carport. Kathy knocked on the back door. No answer. “Randy!” Laura hissed, loud enough for him to hear but not loud enough to wake the neighbors. Kathy returned to the front of the house and tossed pebbles at his music studio window. I lay down on the front lawn, slightly fearful that the door would open. What did people do in that house? Unlike the mysterious indoors, nothing scared me in the yard and I stretched out like a sunbather while Kathy and Laura prowled near the shrubbery, eyeing the windows for movement in the Venetian blinds. Memphis is a city of fine trees, and on that summer night the canopy above my head formed a lacy screen across the sky. I could have stayed there for hours. Then the blinds moved. The door opened. I followed them inside. What happened in that house? Well, Laura and Kathy became domestic. Randy’s mom had decorated years before, and my friends seemed determined to restore the femininity that was lost when Randy turned the place into a bachelor pad. They replaced the toilet paper in the bathroom, rearranged knickknacks on the coffee tables, made faux canapés out of the Triscuits and Cheez Whiz they found in the pantry. Eventually, we entered the studio, where Randy hovered over synthesizers with guys we barely knew. For the next few hours, we perched on barstools, listening. Instead of whole songs, they played notes and chords, tunes that changed and matured through the process of creation. They were actually making music there. Laura passed around another plate of Triscuits. Kathy straightened a pillow. I ended up by the window, looking out through the blinds. Near me, Randy and his nameless friends tweaked at knobs and levers, filled the air with sound. Outside, through the branches of those big Memphis oaks, the stars watched over all of us. I was not quite 17 years old, in love with night and summer and sweat and music — in love with love, too, though I hadn’t experienced it yet. Was that dark sky more spectacular when I observed it through Randy’s window? More than anything, I wanted to believe in the wonder of the world. So, I thought, Yes. Novelist Dana Sachs has lived in North Carolina, Connecticut, California, Scotland, Vietnam and Hungary, but her heart retains its Memphis beat. Her latest novel is The Secret of Nightingale Palace. The Art & Soul of Greensboro


Summer

Shorts

Summer Afternoon By Lee Zacharias

Henry James once said that the most

beautiful words in the English language are “summer afternoon,” though it seems unlikely that for him those words summoned the sweltering humidity of a Piedmont August. Rather, they imply something deliciously lazy, a luxurious indolence that exists outside of time, just as memories of childhood summers do: backyard kiddie pools, Kool-Aid mustaches, the melody of the ice cream truck and feel of cool evening grass on bare feet, most of all the pursuit of fireflies at dusk, a time not driven by school bells or minutes counted till recess. Not until we are teens do our music, hairdos and clothes return us to the world of calendar and clock, transforming us into relics of this generation or that. Summer is a magic trick lost for most adults, who scramble to cram a season’s worth of indolence into a week or two at the beach. Even for teachers, with their famous “summers off” — and for thirty-five years I was one — the trick doesn’t quite work. Oh, I experienced the magic briefly during the very first days after school adjourned, days that were technically not summer at all but late spring, when months of writing time, laps at the outdoor pool and the promise of a newly planted garden seemed to stretch endlessly ahead. Fresh mulch hid the weeds waiting just beneath the soil, the water was refreshingly cold and the shimmering ideal of all those words not yet set to paper seemed to float miraculously in the air. But even before June could slip into July, the pool would grow tepid, the wild morning glories and poke would launch their invasion, and few were the mornings I could walk the dog, swim or pull weeds before sweat stung my eyes and soaked my shirt. Worse: As the words piled up on the pages they somehow had less shimmer, less resonance and more thunk. How I used to hate to see the crape myrtles bloom, those omens, reminders that summer would come to an unseasonable end when school began again in August. It is probably no coincidence that I could not grow crape myrtles myself. Invariably they got powdery mildew and had to be dug out. The first house I bought in Greensboro had a screened porch. This was a bonus I had not learned to covet in the years I spent growing up in the Midwest (like the sunroof that came with the first used car I purchased, a sunroof I didn’t want and wouldn’t pay for because all they did was leak, I The Art & Soul of Greensboro

insisted to the salesman, the same sunroof that led me to swear a week later I would never buy another car without one). I acquired some secondhand wicker furniture, sprayed it white, and hung plants. Because I wrote at an electric typewriter I ran an extension cord. Much of my first novel was typed at a little table on that screened porch, long before the days of word-processing, when the rainless afternoon thunder of July and August would force me to unplug. In the evenings my husband and I often sat out in the dark, listening to the tree frogs and cicadas as the hum of traffic slowed for the night. Sometimes we even moved our little black and white TV to the side door and watched Masterpiece Theatre and Hill Street Blues from the porch. When it was time for a bigger house, a screened porch topped the list of must-haves. We got a grand one, running the width of the house with a roof held up by white pillars. I no longer wrote there but could have entertained an army. These days the porch is much smaller. My late mother-inlaw’s wicker settee and chairs, now grown somewhat shabby, are all that fit. There’s no room to entertain — for if the dog so much as moves, his tail sweeps every wineglass to the floor. But it is a wonderful place to sit in the dark and listen to a soft rain, and most summer afternoons you will find me there, reading, dog snoozing nearby on the settee. Let the crape myrtles bloom, for a few years ago I retired, and the book in my lap is not a text I plan to teach or a manuscript from someone’s portfolio for promotion and tenure, but an untasted world taken from the tottering stacks of such worlds atop the file cabinets in my study. Summer no longer ends abominably early, and if the August humidity oppresses, there’s a breeze from the overhead fan. I will linger until the light fails before dinner, the weather chills, and it’s time to turn on the gas logs. But for now it is summer, and when I look up from my book there is another world going on just outside, leaves blow, children play, a package is delivered, a dog strolls past, somewhere down the block someone is mowing a lawn, and for that one eternal moment I know exactly what Henry James meant. Lee Zacharias is the author of two novels and a collection of short stories. Her latest book, The Only Sounds We Make, a collection of personal essays, is published by Hub City Press. August 2014

O.Henry 63


Summer

Shorts

The Bad Old Days By Drew Perry

You probably won’t even need an air conditioner, somebody said. Summer, 1997. Put a box fan on one end blow-

ing out. Put another on the other end blowing in. I’d just moved to Greensboro from Boston. My ex-girlfriend and I had spent the better part of the previous year proving to each other that we ought to stay ex-ed. I had a brand-new pound dog. I’d come for the MFA program, to try to learn how to write. This was my first time living alone. I’d found a one-bedroom shotgun apartment in a hundred-year-old Victorian. I was in a delicate place, is what I’m wanting to say. I lasted maybe a week. But it turns out nobody else could live AC-free, either. Most of us grad students were living in the same kinds of places, all these apartments cut into all these houses in the same few mainly historical blocks. No one could afford more than one air conditioner, and no fuse box could survive it, anyway, so the question was this: Do I want to live comfortably, or sleep at night? Everyone I knew opted for sleep. Set up a window unit in your bedroom, close the door a couple of hours before you intend to go in there, suffer through the rest of your apartment growing stiller, smaller — or crank up that box fan — and there is no joy truer than walking in and feeling the refrigerator rush of cold air, the growing suspicion that if you work at it hard enough, you might achieve a small thunderstorm in the hallway where the two air masses meet. Except for sleeping, we lived on front porches. It was like this for two or three summers. Or six. It’s all a wash. We call them the bad old days now. We were poor. We were happy. Mornings we wrote, or worked odd jobs. We survived until the afternoon. We had baby pools in the front yards. One fairly sodden string of weeks, I am ashamed to admit, we bleached them to keep mold from growing — it was hard work, the dumping and refilling, and the water bills grew expensive. I had a buddy who dug a full pond, waist-deep, into the backyard behind his apartment.

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Another who hung a junker window unit off his porch railing, extension cord running around the side of the house, coolish air blowing out the front, blast furnace out the back. We kept what beer we could afford — so off-brand we had to special-order it from the grocery store — on ice in broken coolers. We had plans to affix lawnmower wheels to one of the dead refrigerators in somebody’s basement and make a sort of soapbox derby car, but no one could figure out a suitable braking system. When it rained — if it ever rained — we’d set up two-liter soda bottles in the street, pull an actual bowling ball from a tractor-tire flowerbed and bowl, mid-storm, right down the middle of the road. Three separate people had to serve as backstops — we were worried the ball would roll through the intersection and maim somebody, or worse. The neighborhood association loved us. Summer is for children, and that’s what we were. We were too old for it, and knew it. Or we knew that we were almost too old, and were spending those years trying everything we could to hang on. To keep whatever was coming at bay. And now it’s here. We’re grown. We’re married. We have jobs, functioning automobiles, clean laundry, central air — some of us may, even though I shudder to think of it, be members of neighborhood associations. I have two boys. A bunch of us have children. Those of us who are still here get together on summer weekends, cook out in the backyard, let the kids chase each other through sprinklers. And while that’s summer through and through — fireflies, watermelon, kids right up against the edge of injury — we try not to forget the old summers altogether. Last year a friend down the street, a veteran of those bad old days, rock-salted a cooler, froze everything inside. He was thrilled. We all were. And while the kids played, while we watched them, we set in right away trying to improve his system, trying to figure out how to do it right. Drew Perry is the author of the novels Kids These Days and This is Exactly Like You. He teaches writing at Elon University.

The Art & Soul of Greensboro


Summer

Shorts

Keeping Summer Close By Jill McCorkle

My earliest

childhood memories of summer are anchored at one end by my grandmother’s garden — the adjoining lot she single-handedly manned, producing enough bounty to keep everyone filled with field peas and tomatoes and corn all through the year — and the other by my family’s annual pilgrimage for a week at the beach. As is often the case, a large part of the trip was the getting ready and anticipation of it all to come. My mother always had baked a big ham and my grandmother sent us off with pound cake and vegetables. There were always new coloring books and comics (later novels and needlework projects that may or may not get done) spread there on the back seat where my sister and I sat for what seemed the endless drive that would get us there. I have now, at times, spent as long commuting to work, but then the journey seemed long and the week was an endless stretch of sun and sand, fishing and collecting shells. There was the quest to be the first to see the ocean; we rolled down the windows and could smell it long before we crossed over the bridge and could see dunes and sea oats and, finally, a sliver of green. The years all run together in my mind. Sunburns and mini-golf and sparklers lit and twirled most nights. There was always one night spent at the Myrtle Beach pavilion: riding The Swamp Fox or wanting to ride the Swamp Fox but chickening out and watching from the sidelines; the bells and calls of those throwing darts or baseballs to win the large stuffed bears dangling from booths; and homemade ice cream from a place called Painters. But the bulk of the time was just spent on the beach, long lazy days. I was an adult before I saw any beach other than those of the Carolinas and I think the first word in my mind was, really? Had I really spent a lifetime taking for granted what was just an hour and a half down the road? The wide white sandy beaches, often sparsely populated, the large dunes and sea oats, water just the right temperature. From a kid’s point of view, it was a week of heaven, even though in those earliest years, most houses didn’t have air conditioning and so windows were left wide open, everything glazed in a fine coat of sand and salt. We had to take our own drinking The Art & Soul of Greensboro

water and so by the end of the week, that final jug was often reserved for brushing teeth. There usually wasn’t a washer and dryer and so by Friday, my mother was starting to gather up everything and talking about how good it was going to feel to get home to clean cool sheets and no sand. And sure enough, as much as I hated to leave, I was always amazed to get home and see how green our yard looked, how different the air smelled, how good it did feel to stretch out on clean sand-less sheets. And I would find my grandmother just where we had left her, picking and cooking and canning and freezing the vegetables that would keep summer close all through the year. In choosing memories to anchor summer, I would put my grandmother in her side yard in a chair I still own, a big colander on her lap as she shelled endless amounts of butter beans and field peas, the lull of the adult conversation and cars passing on the street in front of her house, as soothing as the rhythmic sounds of the ocean I was already missing. When I think of summer, I immediately do go back to childhood and the enormous sense of freedom that came with that last day of school. And before my mind is able to fully fill in the blanks of all other aspects of life — difficulties and hardships of a particular time — I can conjure the adults around me — alive and engaged with daily life in a way that is all too easy to overlook. My dad would often sit on the beach in a sand chair, his fishing pole anchored in a holder so all he had to do was sip a beer, puff on his pipe and watch the line for action, and he would say: “It just doesn’t get any better than this.” I would have to agree. OH Jill McCorkle, a native of Lumberton, North Carolina, is the author of four story collections and six novels, among them, Life After Life, Ferris Beach, and Carolina Moon. She lives in Hillsborough with her husband. August 2014

O.Henry 65


Story of a House

A House That

Smells like Love

Breadmaking and other “old school” ways make the West Cornwallis house of Ninevah and Dan Murray a living lesson in the art of homemaking By Maria Johnson • Photographs by John Gessner

W

hatever you do, don’t try to shorten Ninevah Murray’s name to Nin. Or Nan. Or Niveh. Don’t prune the name that belonged to the paternal grandmother she never knew. “It’s the only thing I have that belonged to her,” Murray says. Some old things can stand to be changed, updated. But other things — if you alter them too much, you lose the essence of what they are. Ninevah Murray understands that. She might be the only person in the world who begins a tour of her home in the garage — or what used to be the garage. But if you want to understand Murray and the rest of her home, it helps to understand this space, the epicenter of her one-woman business, Make This Yours. In classes that last between two and three hours, Murray teaches small batches of students the vanishing arts of cooking, sewing and bread baking — old-school skills she hopes they will take and make their own. More than 200 people have attended the classes. More want to. They include a guy who wants his girlfriend to love cooking as much as he does; a woman who moved here from Texas and is looking for a fun activity for herself and a friend who is planning to visit; and two women — one in Rockingham County, one in Raleigh — who are strangers to each other but will bake artisanal bread together. A word about the bread: For thirty-plus years, Murray has been making her family’s bread. We’re not talking bread-machine bread. We’re talking bread that is born when a sourdough starter, multiple grains and flours, yeast, oil, salt and a smidgen of sugar get knocked around, set aside to rise, turned out on a floured pastry cloth, kneaded and shaped, laid in a pan, allowed to rise again and shoved into a blistering oven where the dough swells and browns and makes the whole house smell like love. It takes time. But Murray, who is now retired from working as a speech therapist, thinks the payoffs are worth it: the taste, the smell, the nutrition, the feel of dough under her hands, the firm biceps and triceps that result from kneading. “Michelle Obama is not the only one who can wear a sleeveless dress,” Murray cracks. She and her civil engineer husband, Dan, moved to Greensboro from Raleigh in 2006, after he retired from the state Department of Administration’s construction office. Already, Murray had been working in Greensboro for a couple of years, first at UNCG and later in the public schools. Weekdays, she lived in a one-story brick condo on Whilden Place. She and Dan saw each other on weekends.

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The Art & Soul of Greensboro

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The Art & Soul of Greensboro


That’s when they noticed that traffic in Greensboro was much lighter than traffic in Raleigh. They also thought people in Greensboro were friendlier. “Greensboro just had a feel to it,” Murray says. Their 1953 brick ranch house on West Cornwallis Drive was the third house they looked at with a real estate agent. Murray’s interest was piqued by the courtyard and a latticed brick wall behind the house. In the front yard, more landscaping added soundproofing. You could stand at the home’s front door, 150 feet back from the road, and never hear the steady stream of passing cars, thanks to a bank of magnolia, azalea and dogwood. When she saw the inside of the house, she was sold. “This house just spoke to me,” says Murray. She moved in, made friends and made bread. She gave the bread to friends. “You should sell this,” they said. “I won’t sell it, but I’ll teach you how to make it,” said Murray. She showed them how. “You should teach classes,” they said. So she started teaching classes in the kitchen of her home, but there were two problems: 1) Molly, the dog, barked at strangers. 2) Dan, the husband, barked at not being able to get a snack from the kitchen. In 2010, the Murrays hired Southern Evergreen to do several renovations, including converting a single-car garage into a studio that Murray could use for her business. Their architect, Steve Johnson, was determined that no one would walk into the studio and guess that it used to be a garage. The Art & Soul of Greensboro

He succeeded largely because of a semiformal entrance, a portico with curved brick steps leading to a bright red door. Inside, some of the original rafters still brace the roof, but the space has been civilized by a tile floor, stained glass made by Murray, and stainless steel appliances that were transferred from the main kitchen. Half-mannequins rescued from a dress shop on State Street model Murray’s collection of aprons, some of which belonged to her mother and grandmother, and one of which she made when she was in 4-H in Fieldale, Virginia. “That’s when I started bread-baking, when I was 9,” she says of her club experience. “That was an amazing opportunity for me. I got to go places and see things I never would have otherwise.” A bookcase holds a collection of old spice tins, mixing bowls and wooden kitchen utensils. The Better Homes and Gardens cookbook belonged to Dan’s mother. The wood-stove instruction manual belonged to Murray’s beloved maternal grandmother, Ever Layman, of Critz, Virginia. Every morning, Layman baked two pones — one cornbread, one light bread — atop a cast iron pan. Murray reaches into a cabinet and pulls out the hefty, flat pan. There’s more family history on the wall, where a honeycomb of cubbies holds fabric Murray has collected from relatives and estate sales. The discontinued prints ensure that students in Murray’s sewing classes will leave with one-of-akind pieces. Right now, Murray teaches novices how to make decorative pillows and tote bags. In the fall, she’ll add a class on making a simple elastic-waist skirt and raglan-sleeve blouse. In the sunroom adjoining the studio, there are more echoes of Grandma Layman: a homemade end table with bentwood flourishes, and a cupboard that August 2014

O.Henry 69


Layman hammered together herself. Her carpentry was square and neat. She stored canned vegetables in the cupboard so her family could eat in the winter. “She was just an amazing woman,” says Murray. “The only way they made it through the Depression was they lived on a farm. She sold butter and eggs at the market to get money for the kids’ shoes.” The cupboard is made of raw wood, but Murray isn’t about to finish or paint the piece to make it more fashionable. “I want it to stay like she made it,” she says. She steps into the refurbished main kitchen, which gleams with quartz countertops, white cabinets and new white appliances. A complementary dark wood island is topped with brownish-gray Silestone. Murray swings open a door in the island and raises her pride and joy — a white Viking mixer on a lift shelf. “This is my favorite thing in the kitchen,” she says. “I can do two batches of bread dough for six loaves.” New equals neutral in the kitchen. Old pieces provide the color. Splashes of red, blue and green come from a collection of Blue Ridge Pottery plates mounted on the soffit above the sink. A white Hoosier cabinet in the breakfast nook is detailed with red and gray Art Deco designs, all original to the house. The cabinet came from Grandma Layman. In every room of the Murray home, there’s a bit of family history. The bow-front china cabinet in the dining room belonged to Dan’s family. The dish emblazoned with a photo of an old house? That was Dan’s grandmother’s house, now the Murray House Country Inn, down east in Kenansville. The front room is home to a glossy green table lamp with a pastoral scene trimmed in gold paint. It belonged to Murray’s aunt. She won it at a fair. In the master bedroom, the quilt atop a cedar chest was made at a quilting bee for Murray’s grandfather, then a bachelor. Every quilter contributed a square embroidered with her initials. One young woman, who hoped to catch the bachelor’s attention, made her initials extra large. The John Hancock approach did not work. He married someone else. In a guest room, there’s a tiger-striped Empire chest that Murray fished out of her aunt’s damp basement. The piece was coated in white mildew. Murray cleaned off the mildew with wood soap and uncovered a bit of history. What appears to be maple veneer is really paper veneer, common in Depression-era furniture.

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The family pieces dovetail with more recent purchases. A serpentine-front oak buffet came from Murray’s favorite local haunt, Antique Market Place off Interstate 40 near the airport. A grandfather clock came from Stroup Hobby Shop in Spruce Pine, where customers can pick their clock’s wood, face and finish, and the Stroups will build the clock for them. Two side tables were purchased at Target, back when the retailer carried a collection of Thomasville furniture. What looks like an antique iron bed is really a brass bed that Murray got for $10 at a yard sale, painted white and propped up on dorm-room risers, which are invisible under the matelasse bedspread. “It’s how you use what you find,” says Murray. “I really have nothing that I would consider to be valuable. That makes it more fun, to see how it all fits together.” It’s not just economy that drives Murray to preserve old things and ways. It’s the desire to have things that are unusual, if not unique. Making your own clothes, for example, guarantees individuality. “If you have the ability to make your own clothes, you’re not bound by what you see in stores,” she says. For Murray, who spent much of her career filling out forms and pouring energy into non-tangible work, there’s something satisfying about making concrete things, even if — in the case of bread — they get gobbled up a few minutes later. She points to a brightly colored plaque that she found in a Denver gift shop. The plaque, which is shaped roughly like a person, hangs in her studio and sums up her feelings about creativity. “There are some things you do because they feel right & they make no sense & they may make no money & it may be the real reason we are here — to love each other & to eat each other’s cooking & say it was good.” OH Check out Ninevah Murray’s classes and some of her recipes at makethisyoursnc.com. Maria Johnson is a contributing editor of O.Henry. She can be reached at maria@ ohenrymag.com. The Art & Soul of Greensboro


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The Art & Soul of Greensboro

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The Art & Soul of Greensboro


August

By Noah Salt

Arranging a bowl of flowers in the morning can give a sense of quiet in a crowded day — like writing a poem, or saying a prayer. What matters is that one be, for a time, inwardly attentive.” — Anne Morrow Lindbergh, from a Gift From the Sea

Life’s a Beach

“There are few secrets to eating well at the shore — unless a newcomer thinks that fish and shellfish come from a fast-food case tasting like their cardboard wrappers. The sea is where seafood lives. So catch it, net it, dig it, trap it. If all else fails, buy it from a local grocer or a skipper on the dock and tote it home. If there’s no place to buy fresh seafood, you must be in Ohio. Pack up and drive east. And another thing about catching and cooking your own: When the sea serves up dinner it doesn’t order the diner to ‘Enjoy your meal,’ a remark about as conducive to good appetite as ‘eat those Brussels sprouts.’ Unless you are spectacularly sedentary, it’s most rewarding to gather seafood by yourself, whether from the surf with rod or reel, from the marsh with baited string, or from a clam flat with toes or muddy fingers.” — From The Wild Edge: Life and Lore of the Great Atlantic Beaches, by Philip Kopper

“In August . . . there’s a few days somewhere about the middle of the month when suddenly there’s a foretaste of fall, it’s cool, there’s a lambence, a soft, luminous quality to the light, as though it came not from just today but from back in the old classic times. It might have fauns and satyrs and the gods and — from Greece, from Olympus in it somewhere. It lasts just for a day or two, then it’s gone. . . the title reminded me of that time, of a luminosity older than our Christian civilization.” — William Faulkner, Light in August

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

August is either a month to quietly endure or a month to celebrate, rarely anything in between. If summer were a human lifetime — as some of us thought as kids — August would be summer’s old age, for everything begins to wind down, fade away and show its wear by month’s end. For the cottage gardener who is weary from the long days of battling heat and drought, weed and sucker vine, a second burst of shrub roses, the last wild phlox at the edge of the woodlands and the first ripening fruit trees may provide a needed boost to the spirit. But otherwise the garden has fallen pretty quiet. Time to go elsewhere for a bit. Few months are better suited, in fact, for other tasks rarely seen on one’s work BlackBerry, including a neat disappearing act to coast or mountain slopes or just the back of the yard, a necessary escape from the tyranny of the clock to be with family or friends or simply alone to write a note in longhand or steal a nap in the hammock, chat with an elder on the porch, take an evening walk on a country road, read pure trash, beachcomb at low tide. We love August. We hate August. We need August. Can’t wait till you’re over, long hot August. Won’t you please come again soon, dear sweet lazy August? — Noah Salt

August 2014

O.Henry 73


August 2014 Dark Shadows

Pix Flicks

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DARK SHADOWS. 2 p.m.; 4 p.m. Listen to poetry or see a production of Rapunzel — with shadow puppets, courtesy of Matt Sandbank’s Shadow Factory. High Point Public Library, 901 North Main Street, High Point. Info: (336) 883-3666 or highpointpubliclibrary.com.

BEAT IN THE HEAT. 5:30 p.m. Hear the tattoos and watch the moves that students of the Dance Project’s African Drumming and Dancing Workshop have learned — in just one week. Studio 323, Cultural Arts Center, 200 North Davie Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 373-2727 or danceproject.org.

INGE WORTHY. 6 p.m. Dine al fresco at the third annual Greensboro P.I.C.N.I.C. (Partners in City, Neighbors in Community), hosted by Elsewhere. For a donation of $5–20, you can taste local eats, while getting to know fellow citizens of the

• • Art

Music/Concerts

74 O.Henry

4–9

8/

August 1

Key:

Happy Feet Dance Week

August 2014

Performing arts

Gate City — ants are not invited. Green space beside Elsewhere, 606 South Elm Street, Greensboro. Info: goelsewhere.org/picnic.

area. Center for Visual Artists, 2nd Floor, Cultural Center, 200 North Davie Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 333-7475 or greensboroart.org.

•LIGHT-HEARTED. 10 p.m. (doors open at 8 p.m.). Come to a CD-release party for Greensboro’s

August 1–24

own Ameriglow. Blind Tiger, 1819 Spring Garden Street, Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 272-9888 or theblindtiger.com.

August 1–2

•HOPPERS HERE. The Greensboro Grasshoppers are home again, with those lovable

COMESTIBLES ON CANVAS. See how food is transformed into art at Food for Thought. Weatherspoon Art Museum, corner of Spring Garden and Tate Streets, Greensboro. Info: (336) 334-5770 or weatherspoon.uncg.edu.

August 1–September 6

Labs, Babe, Yogi and Lou Lou. NewBridge Bank Park, 408 Bellemeade Street, Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 268-2255.

CHINOISERIE. Travel to China through the lenses of five photographers in Light on China. Greenhill, 200 North Davie Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 333-7460 or greenhillnc.org.

August 1–22

August 1–September 30

DIGIT-AL ART. Admire the artwork of some 300 summer campers, ranging from ages 3 to 18 at Dirty Fingernails, the largest youth exhibition in the

• • Film

8/

Literature/Speakers

• • Fun

History

Sports

GOOD SKATES. Calling all N.C. artists! Greenhill is accepting original artwork for the 2015 U.S. Figure Skating Championships Poster Competition. Think: grace + athleticism. The winner will receive a $3,000 prize for reproduction rights The Art & Soul of Greensboro


August Arts Calendar

— not to mention royalties from poster sales during the Championships. Submit online to greenhill. slideroom.com by September 30.

REEL TIME. 7:30 p.m. It’s worth worrying about no-seums to see A Night at the Museum outside, at Historical Park. High Point Museum, 1859 East Lexington Avenue, High Point. Info: Info: (336) 885-1859 or highpointmuseum.org.

August 1–October 12

SAY AMEN, SOMEBODY! Judeo-Christian motifs aren’t just the purview of medieval and Renaissance art; see how they inspire modern painters at Shouts of Joy and Victory: Jewish and Christian Imagery from the Collection. Weatherspoon Art Museum, corner of Spring Garden and Tate Streets, Greensboro. Info: (336) 334-5770 or weatherspoon. uncg.edu.

August 5–23

DREAM ON. ArtQuest Table Project encour• ages you to gather a group of friends and create a

collective dreamscape using clay, plaster and natural materials. Then draw from the works of photographers Joe Lipka and Bill McAlister. Greenhill, 200 North Davie Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 3337460 or greenhillnc.org.

August 1–Indefinitely

OUT OF AFRICA. Ceramics, textiles, baskets, masks, weapons and objects from daily life comprise the long-term exhibit A Glimpse of Africa: Five Cultures from the Continent. Museum of Anthropology, Wake Forest University, 1834 Wake Forest Road, Winston-Salem. Info: (336) 758-5282 or moa.wfu.edu

Summer Film Fest

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August 2

FORGE AHEAD. 10 a.m. Watch a costumed blacksmith make various iron pieces. High Point Museum, 1859 East Lexington Avenue, High Point. Info: Info: (336) 885-1859 or highpointmuseum.org.

PIX FLICKS. 2 p.m. See twelve short animated films at Pixar Short Film Collection 2. High Point Public Library, 901 North Main Street, High Point. Info: (336) 883-3666 or highpointpubliclibrary.com.

•REX, WHITE & BLUES. 6 p.m. Head to the Red, White & Blues Festival and queue up for ’cue, courtesy of Rex, the Crazy Rib Man, while Piedmont Blues Society provides the background music. Grove Winery, 7360 Brooks Bridge Road, Gibsonville. Tickets: grovewinery.com.

August 2–October 26

I-CONE-IC. See part of the renowned Etta and Dr. Claribel Cone Collection, a series of prints by French painter Henri Matisse that comprise Matisse and His Muses. Weatherspoon Art Museum, corner of Spring Garden and Tate Streets, Greensboro. Info: (336) 334-5770 or weatherspoon.uncg.edu.

August 3

MUSIC IN THE PARK. 6 p.m.; 7:15 p.m. Throw down to the bluesy tunes of Allison King Band, then the rockin’ Rob Massengale Band. Lindley Park, corner of West Market Street and Wendover Avenue. Greensboro. Info: greensboro-nc.gov.

August 4–9

HAPPY FEET. Dance Week, er, kicks off with Suah African Dance Theater, and continues with Lumbee dancers, the North Carolina Youth Tap Ensemble, a film and dance-related crafts workshop. The Art & Soul of Greensboro

August 6

MOVIES FOR MINORS. 9:30 a.m. The Carolina Kids’ Club winds up with a tale of critter-napping in FernGully 2: The Magical Rescue. Carolina Theatre, 310 South Greene Street, Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 333-2605 or carolinatheatre.com. SO YOU THINK YOU C AN DANCE? 3 p.m. Which high-school hoofer will take the prize at Win the Spotlight Dance Competition, presented by rePUBLIC of daNCe? Greensboro Cultural Arts Center, 200 North Davie Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 517-7456 or republicofdance.org.

Days, times and locations vary. High Point Public Library, 901 North Main Street, High Point. Info: (336) 883-3666 or highpointpubliclibrary.com.

August 4

•SUMMER FILM FEST. 7 p.m. Don’t call him SUMMER FILM FEST. 7 p.m. Light fingers Shirley! Leslie Nielsen leads the hijinks in 1980’s • abound, as a former cat burglar (Cary Grant) investiAirplane! Carolina Theatre, 310 South Greene gates a series of jewel heists and woos Grace Kelly in Alfred Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief (1955). Carolina Theatre, 310 South Greene Street, Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 333-2605 or carolinatheatre.com.

Street, Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 333-2605 or carolinatheatre.com.

•DEACON BLUES. 8 p.m. They got a name for the winners of the world, and it’s Steely Dan.

SUMMER FILM FEST. 6:30 p.m. It’s rated S — as in, Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious! Mary Poppins (1964) floats onto the screen. Carolina Theatre, 310 South Greene Street, Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 333-2605 or carolinatheatre.com.

The 1970s group brings their jazz-infused sounds to the “Jamalot Ever After” tour. War Memorial Auditorium, Greensboro Coliseum Complex, 1921 West Lee Street, Greensboro. Tickets: 800-745-3000 or ticketmaster.com.

August 5

SUMMER FILM FEST. 7 p.m. What’ll it be? Jail time or a suicide mission to take down Nazi bad guys? Lee Marvin, Charles Bronson and Telly Savalas star in The Dirty Dozen (1967). Carolina Theatre, 310 South Greene Street, Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 333-2605 or carolinatheatre.com.

AUTHOR, AUTHOR. 7 p.m. Meet Scott Blumenthal, author of The Kiss. Scuppernong Books, 304 South Elm Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 763-1919 or scuppernongbooks.com. Info: (336) 885-1859 or highpointmuseum.org. Key:

• • Art

Music/Concerts

Performing arts

August 7

• •

AUTHOR, AUTHOR. 7 p.m. Celebrate the new releases by local literati, featuring poet and novelist Fred Chappell’s Familiars, and poet Sarah Lindsay’s Debt to the Bone-Eating Snotflower. Scuppernong Books, 304 South Elm Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 763-1919 or scuppernongbooks.com.

A STAR IS BORN. 7 p.m. Learn how to put your best foot and singing voice forward at a musical theater audition workshop, hosted by Community Theater Greensboro. Registration is limited to 10 people 18 and older for a cost of $50. Starr Theatre, 520 South Elm Street, Greensboro. Info: Contact Dawn Rumley at (336) 333-7469 or boxoffice@ctgso.org.

• • Film

Literature/Speakers

• • Fun

August 2014

History

Sports

O.Henry 75


Life & Home

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August 2014

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The Art & Soul of Greensboro


August Arts Calendar GIRRRRL POWER. 10 p.m. (doors o • pen at 8 p.m). Part punk, part ’60s girl group,

Daddy Issues, Greensboro’s only all-female band (that we know of) rocks it. Blind Tiger, 1819 Spring Garden Street, Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 272-9888 or theblindtiger.com.

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AUTHOR, AUTHOR. 7 p.m. Hear a reading of Apostrophe Now, a play by Gabrielle Sinclair. Scuppernong Books, 304 South Elm Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 763-1919 or scuppernongbooks.com.

MICHELLE PORTER

August 8

MP

SMOKIN’. 10 p.m. (doors open at 8 p.m.). Hear some good ole Southern rock from Crossing Avery. Blind Tiger, 1819 Spring Garden Street, Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 272-9888 or theblindtiger.com.

L E T ’ S

er Crossing Avery Blind Tig 8/

8

August 9

August 10

AUTHOR, AUTHOR. 3 p.m. Meet young adult novelist Bonnie Doerr, of Stakeout and Island Sting fame. Scuppernong Books, 304 South Elm Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 763-1919 or scuppernongbooks.com.

MUSIC IN THE PARK. 6:30 p.m. Enjoy a little night music from the Greensboro Concert Band. Latham Park, West Wendover Avenue at Latham and Cridland Roads. Greensboro. Info: greensboro-nc.gov.

August 11

•SUMMER FILM FEST. 7 p.m. Cornfields have never been so scary as in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1959 classic, North by Northwest. Carolina Theatre, 310 South Greene Street, Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 333-2605 or carolinatheatre.com.

August 11–13

BLINDED BY SCIENCE. Learn about spycraft, slippery, slimy things, states of matter and how to create things that explode at a Mad Science workshop. Days and times vary. High Point Public Library, 901 North Main Street, High Point. Info: (336) 883-3666 or highpointpubliclibrary.com.

August 11–17

•HOPPERS HERE. The Greensboro The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Grasshoppers, along with lovable Labs Babe, Yogi and Lou Lou, are home again. NewBridge Bank Park, 408 Bellemeade Street, Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 268-2255.

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August 12

SPOONIN’ IT OUT. Let a docent give you an in-depth perspective of Shouts of Joy and Victory: Jewish and Christian Imagery from the Collection, part of the Noon @ the ’Spoon tour series. Weatherspoon Art Museum, corner of Spring Garden and Tate Streets, Greensboro. Info: (336) 334-5770 or weatherspoon.uncg.edu.

SUMMER FILM FEST. 7 p.m. Popeye’s back! Gene Hackman keeps the adrenalin pumping as he chases drug kingpins throughout Manhattan in the 1971 Oscar winner The French Connection. Carolina Theatre, 310 South Greene Street, Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 333-2605 or carolinatheatre.com.

August 13

Visit

HOSED. 10 a.m. Compete against junior interpreters in a water bucket relay and see how early settlers watered plants using a thumb hose. Yup, it’s Fun With Water at Historical Park. High Point Museum, 1859 East Lexington Avenue, High Point. Info: (336) 885-1859 or highpointmuseum.org.

G E T

...turning dreams into an address

AUTHOR, AUTHOR. 7 p.m. Meet O. Henry • columnist Sandra Redding — and her book, Naomi

Wise: A Cautionary Tale. Scuppernong Books, 304 South Elm Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 763-1919 or scuppernongbooks.com.

• SUMMER FILM FEST. 7 p.m. Beware the knights who say, “Ni” in Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975). Carolina Theatre, 310 South Greene Street, Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 3332605 or carolinatheatre.com.

online @

www.ohenrymag.com August 2014

O.Henry 77


Arts & Culture

Grace. Strength. Confidence. Just a few of the things your child can gain at The School of Greensboro Ballet. From our Children’s Dance Program for ages 3-6, to our Ballet, Pointe, Modern and Jazz curriculum for students of all ages, Greensboro Ballet has been teaching the art and discipline of ballet for over 30 years.

Now enrolling for the 2014-15 school year. Go to www.greensboroballet.org or call 336.333.7480 for more information.

78 O.Henry

August 2014

The Art & Soul of Greensboro


August Arts Calendar Complex, 1921 West Lee Street, Greensboro. Tickets: 800-745-3000 or ticketmaster.com.

FREE (JAIL)BIRD. 8 p.m. After taking the rap, Lil Boosie is ready to rap. Come hear him — and friends. Greensboro Coliseum, 1921 West Lee Street, Greensboro. Tickets: 800-745-3000 or ticketmaster.com.

August 16

Crosby, Stills & Nash 8/

15

August 13–17

BEST IN SHOW. 9.a.m.–7 p.m. Hounds, pugs, retrievers, terriers and beagles strut their stuff at the Carolina Kennel Club Show. Special Events Center, Greensboro Coliseum Complex, 1921 West Lee Street, Greensboro. Tickets: $4 at the door.

August 14

SIZZLIN’. 6:30 p.m. Leave the kids at home and get fired up at an “adults-only” event at Edible Schoolyard. It’s the hot sauce that’s XXX-rated as Lucky 32 Chef Jay Pierce shares grilling tips. Greensboro Children’s Museum, 220 North Church Street, Greensboro. Registration: (336) 5742898 or gcmuseum.com. ALL TOGETHER NOW! 7 p.m. Stop prac• ticing in front of a mirror with a hairbrush and

be the star attraction — along with the rest of the audience — as you belt out your favorite show tunes at Community Theatre of Greensboro’s Broadway Sing-Along. Starr Theatre, 520 South Elm Street. Tickets: $5 at the door (plus tax).

AUTHOR, AUTHOR. 7 p.m. Meet Arthur Powers, author of A Hero for the People. Scuppernong Books, 304 South Elm Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 763-1919 or scuppernongbooks.com

SUMMER FILM FEST. 7 p.m. Who’s up for a road trip to Walley World? Join Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) and family in the 1983 hit National Lampoon’s Vacation. Carolina Theatre, 310 South Greene Street, Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 333-2605 or carolinatheatre.com.

August 15

FOLK HEROES. 8 p.m. Teach your chil• dren what real music is with a performance by folk rock legends Crosby Stills & Nash. War Memorial Auditorium, Greensboro Coliseum

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

A WALK THROUGH TIME. 9 a.m. Join histo• rian Glenn Chavis on a walking tour of Washington Street, once a vibrant business and entertainment district during segregation. Changing Tides Cultural Center, 613 Washington Street, High Point. To reserve, call the High Point Museum: (336) 885-1859.

IRONS IN THE FIRE. 10 a.m. That black• smith is at it again. Watch him in action. High Point

Museum, 1859 East Lexington Avenue, High Point. Info: (336) 885-1859 or highpointmuseum.org.

PRE-SCHOOL. 3 p.m. Assuage your little ones’ fears of the unknown at Kickoff to Kindergarten, a free event in partnership with the Guilford County Schools and Guilford Education Alliance, among other groups. Greensboro Children’s Museum, 220 North Church Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 5742898 or gcmuseum.com

August 16–23

RACKETEERS. Catch some aces, lobs and volleys from the likes of Sam Querrey and — we hope — John Isner at the Winston-Salem Open. Wake Forest Tennis Center, 100 West 32nd Street, Winston-Salem. Tickets: 888-758-3322 or (336) 758-3322 or winstonsalemopen.com.

August 17

MUSIC IN THE PARK. 6 p.m.; 7:15 p.m. The Zinc Kings strum up some bluegrass, followed by country crooners The Radials, with Lisa Dames. Festival Park, 200 North Davie Street, Greensboro. Info: greensboro-nc.gov.

August 19

AUTHOR, AUTHOR. 7 p.m. Meet Laurie Lake White, author of Play Music. Scuppernong Books, 304 South Elm Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 763-1919 or scuppernongbooks.com.

August 22

Common Core when you can learn the basics and differences in school at Readin’ Writin’ ’Rithmetic? High Point Museum, 1859 East Lexington Avenue, High Point. Info: Info: (336) 885-1859 or highpointmuseum.org.

THE NAME’S SMITH. 10 a.m. As in, blacksmith. He just can’t get enough. High Point Museum, 1859 East Lexington Avenue, High Point. Info: Info: (336) 885-1859 or highpointmuseum.org.

DARJEELING DOLLEY. 3 p.m. Salute Greensboro’s game gal who heroically saved a portrait of George Washington during the burning of the White House 200 years ago. A Teaworthy Toast to Dolley Madison features tea and treats — and a dramtic reading of the First Lady’s letter written on that fateful day. O.Henry Hotel, 624 Green Valley Road, Greensboro. Tickets (register by August 8): Info: (336) 373-2306 or greensborohistory.org.

STRICTLY BALLROOM. 7:30 p.m. Learn the basics of swing dancing with a free lesson before taking to the floor to live music. Greensboro Shrine Club, 5010 High Point Road, Greensboro. Info: (336) 508-9998 or piedmontswingdance.org.

August 23–December 31

SIT! Shaker rocking chairs, Victorian armchairs and postmodern loungers are featured in The Art of Seating: Two Hundred Years of American Design. Reynolda House Museum of Art, 2250 Reynolda Road, Winston-Salem. Info: 888-663-1149 or reynoldahouse.org.

August 24

MUSIC IN THE PARK. 6 p.m.; 7:15 p.m. Feel the funk with the band named doby, followed by Soul Biscuit. Bur-Mil Park, Highway 220 North, right on Owl’s Roost Road, Greensboro. Info: greensboro-nc.gov.

August 26

PURTY. 8 p.m. (doors open at 7 p.m.). If you’ve seen HBO’s True Detective, then you’ve heard their hit, “Far From Any Road.” The Handsome Family brings their haunting brand of roots music to town. Blind Tiger, 1819 Spring Garden Street, Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 272-9888 or theblindtiger.com.

August 26–28

•HOPPERS HERE. The Greensboro AUTHOR, AUTHOR. 7 p.m. Meet Tracy Grasshoppers (and their lovable Labs) are home • Banghart, author of The Shattered Veil. Scuppernong again. NewBridge Bank Park, 408 Bellemeade Books, 304 South Elm Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 763-1919 or scuppernongbooks.com.

August 23

THE THREE R’s. 10 a.m. Who needs

Street, Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 268-2255.

Key:

•• •

•• •

••

Art Music/Concerts Performing arts Film Literature/Speakers Fun History Sports August 2014

O.Henry 79


ART CLASSES FOR EVERYONE!

Fall-Winter Session 1 Begins the Week of August 25 Adult 8-Week Classes

Youth 6-Week Classes

• Pottery • Drawing & Painting • Sculpture & more!

• Pottery • Drawing & Painting • Homeschool classes

Workshops & Events

• Acrylic Painting Workshop with Don Morgan, Sunday, August 17 • More workshops being planned!

For a schedule of classes and to register, visit www.artalliancegso.org

Arts & Culture

Greensboro Cultural Center | 200 N Davie Street | Greensboro, NC 27401 336-373-2725 | artalliancegso@gmail.com Art Alliance is co-sponsored by City Arts

weekly classes ages 18 months to adult

workshops

for professionals and the serious dancer

drop-in classes

FA L L 2 0 1 4

project the school at city arts for information or to register www.danceproject.org/school 336-373-2727

photos by Danielle Kinne

for adults scholarships available

Catch Triad Arts with David Ford, Bethany Chafin, and Eddie Garcia— Monday through Friday at 8:35am and 5:44pm. Tune in for interviews and insight into the Piedmont’s rich artistic community. Get a full hour of arts with Triad Arts Weekend— Fridays at 1pm and Sundays at 4pm. P. O. Box 8850 • Winston-Salem, NC 27109 • wfdd.org

80 O.Henry

August 2014

The Art & Soul of Greensboro


August Arts Calendar August 26–September 6

YOU WHO. ArtQuest Table Project demonstrates ways you can create self-portraits in mixed media, with photographs by Barbara Tyroler as inspiration. Greenhill, 200 North Davie Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 333-7460 or greenhillnc.org.

August 28

AUTHOR, AUTHOR. 7 p.m. Meet Martha Woodroof, NPR personality and author of Small Blessings. Scuppernong Books, 304 South Elm Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 763-1919 or scuppernongbooks.com.

and his “Mahomies”? White Oak Amphitheatre, Greensboro Coliseum Complex, 1921 West Lee Street, Greensboro. Tickets: 800-745-3000 or ticketmaster.com.

August 31­–September 28

Tuesdays SPY VS. SPY. You know it as a Hitchcock espio• nage thriller set in the moody Scottish Highlands. •CHICKEN ’N’ PICKIN’ 6:30 – 9:30 p.m. Y’all But The 39 Steps is just as compelling as a play, come for Skillet Fried Chicken & Songs from a thanks to Patrick Barlow, who adapted it for the stage. Triad Stage, Pyrle Theater, 232 South Elm Street, Greensboro. Performance times vary. Tickets (336) 272-0160 or triadstage.org.

August 31–March 8, 2015

August 29

•AUTHOR, AUTHOR. 7 p.m. Meet Roland Russoli, author of The Little Boy in the Tree.

Scuppernong Books, 304 South Elm Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 763-1919 or scuppernongbooks.com.

MAHONE RANGER. 7:30 p.m. Mmm, yeah! What better sendoff to the end of summer than a concert by teen pop sensation Austin Mahone

in a Busy Bees preschool program focusing on music, movement, garden exploration and fun in the kitchen, at the Greensboro Children’s Museum, 220 North Church Street, Greensboro. Preregistration: (336) 574-2898 or gcmuseum.com

IT’S A DRAW! Hand-drawn works by thirteen North Carolina artists using graphite, ballpoint pen, conté crayon, ink and charcoal define Line, Touch, Trace. Greenhill, 200 North Davie Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 333-7460 or greenhillnc.org.

WEEKLY HAPPENINGS Mondays

Southern Kitchen. Tuck into Chef Jay’s signature fried chicken and gravy, select beverage specials, including buttermilk with cornbread crumbled in it, and live music by Laurelyn Dossett and Scott Manring; Molly McGinn; Martha Bassett and friends— at Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen, 1421 Westover Terrace, Greensboro. Info: (336) 370-0707 or lucky32.com/fried_chicken.htm.

Wednesdays

TO MARKET, TO MARKET. 8 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. Get fresh with locally grown produce, cakes, pies and cut fleurs for a pretty table. Greensboro Farmers Curb Market, 501 Yanceyville Street, Greensboro. Info: gsofarmersmarket.org.

•BUZZING. 10 a.m. Your busy little bees engage •• • • • • • • Key: Art Music/Concerts Literature/Speakers Fun

Performing arts Film History Sports

Arts & Culture Arts & Culture

Leanne Pizio’s

Alice

Paintings B y

C.P. Logan

Comes To Town Opening Night: Saturday, August 2, 2014 6:00-9:00 pm Irving Park Art and Frame 2105 W Cornwallis Dr, Greensboro, NC 27408 (336) 274-6717

Red, White, and Blue 20x24” original oil

FIND OUR EVENT ON FACEBOOK! The Art & Soul of Greensboro

The show continues through the month of August.

Original Oils, COmmissiOns, WOrkshOps, studiO Classes, Online Classes, painting parties

www.cplogan.com

August 2014

O.Henry 81


A Vacation for Your Dog!

Your dog will love our boredom-free run, fetch, swim, slide play space DAYCARE

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modern furniture made locally

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Call 336-617-0900 OR . . . 515 S Elm St. | Greensboro NC 27406 | 336.370.1050 areamod.com

82 O.Henry

August 2014

mail payment to: P.O. Box 58, Southern Pines, NC 28388

delivered to your home! $45 in-state • $55 out-of-state The Art & Soul of Greensboro


August Arts Calendar •

Fridays

TASTY TUNES. 12 p.m.–1:30 p.m. Brownbag it or order from a food truck and hear free, live music. Tunes @ Noon presents Tammie Davis (8/6); Lowland Hum (8/13); Lyn Koonce & Friends (8/20); The Radials (8/27). City Center Park, 200 North Elm Street, Greensboro. Info: citycenterpark.org.

FOUR-TUNATE. 5 p.m.–8 p.m. Check out the delights at the Greensboro Children’s Museum for a song. Yep, it’s $4 Fun Fridays through the month of August. Greensboro Children’s Museum, 220 North Church Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 574-2898 or gcmuseum.com.

Fridays & Saturdays

MUSSELS, WINE & MUSIC. 7–10 p.m. Mussels with house-cut fries for $15, wines from $10–15 a bottle and live music by Evan Olson and Jessica Mashburn — at Print Works Bistro, 702 Green Valley Road, Greensboro. Info: (336) 379-0699 or printworksbistro.com/live_music.htm.

Thursdays

•JAZZ NIGHT. 7 p.m. Fresh-ground, freshbrewed coffee is served with a side of jazz at Tate Street Coffee House, 334 Tate Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 275-2754.

OPEN MIC COMEDY. 8–9:35 p.m. Local pros and amateurs take the mic at the Idiot Box, 348 South Elm Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 274-2699 or www.idiotboxers.com.

Servicing what we sell since

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

NIGHTMARES ON ELM STREET. 8 p.m. A 90-minute, historical, candlelit ghost walking tour of Downtown Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 905-4060 or carolinahistoryandhaunts. com/information.

IMPROV COMEDY. 10 p.m. on Saturday, plus an 8 p.m. show appropriate for the whole family. The Idiot Boxers create scenes on the spot and build upon the ideas of others, creating shows that are one-of-a-kind — at the Idiot Box, 348 South Elm Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 274-2699 or www.ibcomedy.com. To add an event, email us at ohenrymagcalednar@gmail.com by the first of the month prior to the event.

Saturdays

TO MARKET, TO MARKET. 7 a.m. until 1 p.m. The greens are still fresh, the pies still still yummy, the coffee fresh-ground and the fleurs still belles — and yours if you grab ’em early. Greensboro Farmers Curb Market, 501 Yanceyville Street, Greensboro. Info: gsofarmersmarket.org.

905 Battleground Ave., Greensboro ph: 379-8640 • fax: 379-7837 info@godwinagency.com www.godwinagency.com 1953

August 2014

O.Henry 83


Now enrolling for Fall 2014-15

(a small school with a big heart) Located at: 2100 Fernwood Drive Greensboro, NC 27408 A loving discovery and literacy enriched environment

Area Schools

Crib – Pre-K Monday – Friday • 9:00 am – 1:00 pm Small class sizes • Enrichment programs Summer camps • Sibling discounts

Canterbury S C H O O L

Now accepting applications for limited spots for fall 2014. Please call to inquire. Canterbury School is Greensboro’s only PreK-8 Episcopal day school and combines a rigorous program with a full host of athletic and extracurricular activities. Financial assistance and an extended day program are available.

On the web at http://www.guilfordpark.org/education/preschool.html On Facebook at Guilford Park Preschool, Education Contact us: dhuneycutt@guilfordpark.org

(336)282-6697

Prepare to be your best. 5400 Old Lake Jeannette Rd. www.canterburygso.org • 336.288.2007

Treasures • Antiques • Consignments

Business & Services

The Treasure House Consignment • Antiques Art • Furniture • Gifts Home Decor • Garden MORE Arriving Daily

PET FRIENDLY

New Location Two entrances at 346 S. Worth St. and 347 S. Main St.

336.228.1691 | Mon-Sat 11-6 Downtown Burlington, across from Zack’s Hotdogs

thetreasurehouseshoppes.blogspot.com | Like us on facebook

UPHOLSTERY

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clean, dye , repair leather and fabric

Residential/CommeRiCal • HaRd to Clean stains small oRiental RUG CleaninG • mattRess CleaninG/disinFeCtinG CUts/teaRs in leatHeR, RePaiR FadinG • Home, aUto, Boat, aiRCRaFt

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3626 North Elm Street

www.northelmanimalhospital.com

84 O.Henry

August 2014

336-545-3400 The Art & Soul of Greensboro


Worth the Drive to High Point

A Love Supreme

Are we really happy here, with this lonely game we play? Well, yes, if George Benson is taking the stage. The jazz singer and guitarist, and 10-time Grammy Award winner, will be headlining the John Coltrane International Jazz and Blues Festival on August 30 at Oak Hollow Festival Park in High Point. Now in its fourth year, the festival is the brainchild of the Friends of John Coltrane, a coalition of jazz enthusiasts who, in 2009, felt that the Triad was long overdue for a major venue for the musical genre. It helped that three years earlier the city had erected and dedicated an 8-foot bronze statue of Coltrane, who grew up in High Point, where he attended William Penn High School — and learned to play the saxophone unlike any other human being. You can see the jazz legend’s likeness downtown on the corner of Commerce Avenue and Hamilton Street, as well as some of his sheet music, complete with scribbles in the margins, at the High Point Museum. But it’s Coltrane’s legacy that you’ll appreciate most, when the festival opens with a medley of its namesake’s hits, courtesy of the North Carolina John Coltrane All-Stars. In the past, the group has included some of the Triad’s top musicians, such as director Wally Weast, trumpet player Jay Meachum, bassist Matt Kendrick, percussionist Roberto Orihuela and pianist Dave Fox. You’ll also hear the likes of Boney James, a saxophonist like Coltrane, who blends R&B and Latin rhythms into a smooth groove, much in the tradition of his musical hero, the late Grover Washington Jr. Another James — Morgan James — brings sultry vocals to the stage, while Latimore will have the crowds swaying to his blues classics. And 17-year-old guitar prodigy Andreas Varady will enthrall, especially when he plays alongside Benson, his lifelong idol. That’s the lovely thing about the festival: It bridges generations of musicians, from masters, such as Benson and Latimore, to the rising jazz stars. Middle-school students who attend the High Point Arts Council’s John Coltrane Jazz Workshop (a jazz camp) have been invited to perform at the festival for the past two years. There is also an essay contest for Guilford County students who compete for prizes and instruments with explanations of what jazz means to them. When you see these eager young artists accept their awards from the professional performers under a bright summer sky with the backdrop of Oak Hollow Lake shimmering below, you’ll understand what Coltrane meant by “a love supreme.” OH

Emerywood

Soda Fountain Drinks • Sundaes • Floats

Vintage Thrift and Antiques

Located in the Historic Sherrod Home at 1100 N. Main St., High Point 336.886.1090 | Monday - Saturday 10-6

M A G A Z I N E Find it at these High Point Locations:

• Harris Teeter, 265 Eastchester Dr. • Harris Teeter, 1589 Skeet Club Rd. • J.H. Adams Inn, 1108 N. Main St. • Shores Fine Dry Cleaning, 804 Westchester Dr. • Tex & Shirley’s, 4005 Precision Way • Theodore Alexander Outlet, 416 S. Elm St. • Vintage Thrift and Antiques, 1100 N. Main St.

Info and tickets: www.coltranejazzfest.com — Nancy Oakley The Art & Soul of Greensboro

August 2014

O.Henry 85


TENNIS SERVED SOUTHERN STYLE

TICKETS ON SALE NOW

WINSTON-SALEM OPEN August 16–23, 2014

WinstonSalemOpen.com . 336-758-6409

86 O.Henry

August 2014

The Art & Soul of Greensboro Players subject to change. © 2014 USTA. Photos © Getty Images.


Worth the Drive to Winston-Salem

Spreading the Words

Bibliophiles, rejoice! The BookMarks Festival of Books and Authors is preparing to take over downtown WinstonSalem on Labor Day weekend (September 4–7). Celebrating its tenth anniversary, North Carolina’s largest annual book festival continues to grow by leaps and bounds. “Last year we attracted people from forty-seven counties and twelve states,” says director Ginger Hendricks. Since its inception, BookMarks has brought 500 authors to the Triad — Pulitzer Prizewinners, James Beard Award-winners and New York Times best-sellers (including a certain golf writer and editor of O.Henry, Salt and PineStraw by the name of Dodson). “We were happily outgrowing our space,” says Hendricks of the festival’s former home in the Arts District. Hence, its relocation to the Milton Rhodes Center for the Arts, HanesBrands Theatre and Winston Square Park — the better to accommodate food trucks, vendors and a children’s storybook parade in which pint-sized participants dress up as their favorite storybook characters. “We shot the moon this year,” Hendricks observes. “We wanted a really exciting diverse lineup.” And boy, did she and the other organizers at BookMarks deliver! Kicking off the festivities is a ticketed event, an evening with ever-popular and prolific mystery author James Patterson, who’ll be speaking at the R.J. Reynolds Auditorium and signing books of his latest volume for kids, Middle School: Save Rafe! Best-selling travel author Frances Mayes of Under the Tuscan Sun fame will also be on hand; in fact, you can whet your appetite for her appearance this month, by attending a screening of the 2004 film adaptation of the book at SECCA (August 24). Other literary lights include Rita Mae Brown, food writers Sandra Gutierrez and Lisa Leake, National Sportswriters and Sportscasters Hall of Famer Rick Reilly, western North Carolina natives Robert Morgan and Jeremy B. Jones, and Wake Forest grad Emily Giffin, who chucked a legal career and landed an agent with her first novel, Something Borrowed. Hendricks is especially excited about the appearance of a children’s author, one Edward Hemingway, grandson of Papa. “He’s also an illustrator and designed the T-shirts, which he will sign,” she says. In addition to authors reading their works, there will be panel discussions addressing digital and print formats in publishing, Southern identity in writing, and the future of books. Aspiring writers can also learn from workshops about penning family memoirs or books for the prepubescent male demographic, and “Genre Writing 101” with J.A. Jance (reservations required). There will be Eat & Greets, English and Spanish story hour, and new this year, a poetry corner. Also new is a “Behind the Pages” weekend package at the Historic Brookstown Inn, within walking distance of downtown. For either two or three nights, you’ll receive a restaurant gift certificate and tickets to the private welcome reception, where you can mingle with the literati. And that, really, is the whole point of BookMarks: to connect readers with writers. “We try to pick and choose the best authors for our audience,” Hendricks notes. As for the audience? “We just want ’em excited,” she says. Mission accomplished. OH Info: bookmarksnc.org. — Nancy Oakley The Art & Soul of Greensboro

FINBkmk Ohenry Ad 71114.indd 1

August 2014

O.Henry 7/11/14 87 3:30 PM


Susan Siler, Lyn Greenway

GreenScene Children’s Home Society of NC Presents BB&T Beach Music in the Park Thursday, June 26, 2014 Photographs by Lynn Donovan

Harper Shepherd, Carly Helms, Mamie Jane Haldeman, Morgan Webb, Kate Hunter, Mary Claire Haldeman Christian Woody, Marlee Young, Louisa Black, Danielle Jennings Claire Davis, Jenna Schnitzler

Emily Morris, Giuliana Sciabbarrosi, Tricia Gentry, Laine Smith, Jennifer Bell Tim Saunders, Kathy Allred, Diana Cuddeback, Dennis Simerly Matt & Jean Lojko

Max Meadows, Bronwyn Cortez, Dillon Smith, Andres Rodriguez Danny Saez, Kareem Coombs

John, Ava & Jennifer Mlekush

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88 O.Henry

August 2014

Jeff Gilliam, Drema Hargett

Elsie Hairston, Al Hinnant, Brenda Conyers

Rachel Murphy, Ally Walls

The Art & Soul of Greensboro


Pam & Greg Grimm, Maureen Gonsalves

GreenScene

Linda Mitchell, Eleanor Schaffner-Mosh, Emily Mosh

Summer Serenade An EMF & Greensboro Ballet Collaboration Carolina Theatre Wednesday, July 2, 2014 Photographs by Lynn Donovan

Chrystal Libby, Jeremy Huggins, Daevid Mendivil, Stephanie Brown, Sophia Libby, Cecilia Libby

Jackie Hauser, Shelby Finnie, Connor Speetjene Heidi Romero, Josh Hogan, Lydia McRae, Nina & Brad Munda Virginia & Robert Barnett (Repetiteur for ‘Serenade’)

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August 2014

O.Henry 89


Art of Cloth Parsley & Sage Fenini Comfy USA Winter Sun Chalet Amma

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EVERY 3Rd ThuRsdAY (oPEn Till 7Pm WINE • FINGER FOOD • GOOD CONVERSATION)

90 O.Henry

August 2014

The Art & Soul of Greensboro


GreenScene African American Arts Festival Charlotte Hawkins Brown Museum Saturday, July 12, 2014 Photographs by Lynn Donovan

We Make Greensboro Home

Jayden Cummings, Marcia Chue

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Kara Deadmon, Brandie Cline April C. Turner

Classic Old Irving Park home that has been updated and renovated throughout. 9 foot ceilings on main level, hardwood floors on both levels. Master Bath with separate shower and pedestal tub, large closet. Kitchen has solid surface counters, tile back splash, custom cabinets, 2 ovens, appliances. Wet bar between Dining Room & Kitchen. Bedrooms with built-ins. Sunroom. Screened porch overlooks gardens & play area. 2-car garage with workshop. Lots of storage & much more! Price upon request.

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Gail Stroud, Sterling Cole, Anderson Cole

Feel at home as soon as you walk in this classic Irving Park brick home in prime location near park and within walking distance to GCC. 9 foot ceilings on main level, hardwood floors, custom moldings. Many updates (kitchen), den with new wet bar, 2 fireplaces with gas logs. 2-car garage. Master bedroom has wonderful bath with separate shower & jetted tub plus a really “roomy” master closet! Price upon request.

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August 2014

O.Henry 91


Create Memories

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UPCOMING EVENTS

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Sun. 8/3 Music in the Vines Featuring Lacy Green, 2-5:30 pm Autumn Creek Vineyards Sat. 8/16 Join us at the Clam Jam, 4-10:00 pm, Market Square, Downtown Reidsville Sat. 8/23 Music in the Vines Featuring Les Moore Trio, 2-5:30pm Autumn Creek Vineyards

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92 O.Henry

August 2014

Fine dining in a casual setting • Renowned Sunday Brunch Less than 2 hours from Greensboro • Reservations recommended MP 171.5 Blue Ridge Parkway • Floyd, Virginia THEDOGS.COM • (540) 593-2865

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Scott Manring, Edie Carpenter

Linda Morris, George Johnson

Light on China Exhibition Opening The Gallery at Greenhill Friday, July 11, 2014 Photographs by Lynn Donovan

Beatrice Schall, Nancy Hoffmann, Helga Barna

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O.Henry 93


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The Accidental Astrologer

Hail Yeah, Caesar Don’t let August get your goat

By Astrid Stellanova Did your Mama tell you why August is so important? Because of Caesar Augustus? Surprise! — he was a Libran. Or because it’s National Goat Cheese month? Look to the stars, Lovey. The Perseid meteor shower occurs mid-month.

Leo (July 23–August 22) Lordy mercy, when you cast such a wide net, you are going to haul up a whole lot of trash. So, here you are, dealing with flotsam and jetsam, but you went fishing, didn’t you? Do some triage on your own life, baby. Let your legs of faith carry you right where you need to go. You may complain, and do often and loudly, but you are also a born finisher and you are almost as capable as you think you are. This month will be almost too calm for your tastes. By mid-month, you will enjoy new income that will make your pricey tastes nearly affordable. Virgo (August 23–September 22) Gut check time. Recently you’ve been the top ticketing agent for guilt trips — give it a rest. Can you stop issuing tickets? It’s second nature for you to help people. So get in synch and stop being critical. You may want the last word but you aren’t all that all the time. Except, when Venus transits your sign August 12–September 5, you are going to be unusually creative and spectacular. Keep a journal. Libra (September 23–October 22) Go deep or don’t go at all. Deep, as in, deeper than a pie pan. All cylinders will click this month — socially, romantically, financially and even emotionally. You’ll find yourself almost bewildered by the positive attention you get. The colors blue and pink will bring you some big magic this month, but don’t wear them thirty days in a row, OK? You may think it’s all coincidinky those colors work for you, but it ain’t, Honey Child. Scorpio (October 23–November 21) Let’s just get off that high horse you’ve been riding, and lower your standards. Life is 80 percent reality and 20 percent where you want to be. You will always want what you can’t have. Fuggedaboutit, Darling. Work for what you want; dust off the résumé and get it out there. You have a transit between August 12 and September 5 that will make it easier to make work prospects come together to suit secretive ole you. Sagittarius (November 22–December 21) The saying is, you can’t make a comeback when you haven’t been anywhere. Get off the sofa — the cushions are sagging! Fish out the change under them cushions and go somewhere! Adventure calls, you’re overdue, and luck (plus spare change) is on your side. Between the 12th and the 15th, you have a unique opportunity when Venus and Mercury travel through Leo. This means put yourself out there — flip a coin — take a trip or a chance. The transit favors you all month. Capricorn (December 22–January 19) If the buck really did stop with you, you’d finally get paid. You’ve been responsible since you were 6 years old and got a paper route. Time to experience irresponsibility! Push back from the desk and take the trip you’ve been daydreaming about this month. The first two weeks bring a time of opportunity when Mercury enters Leo. By the 25th, you may well find yourself overseas, living the dream, Baby. The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Aquarius (January 20–February 18) Ever have the feeling it’s simpler to get older than get smarter? You have spent most of your life not caring what other people think, and why start now? You really might just save the world, but, more importantly, yourself. When Venus enters Leo after the 12th, relationships resolve and you can sink into a bliss-out time. Pisces (February 19–March 20) The water is hot, right? So take your finger out, and don’t just stand there talking about how durn scalding the H2O is. After all, affection and understanding are what you are craving, even more than attention. The good news is, the stars line up for you when Mercury enters Virgo on the 15th. That bad patch with your loved one gets fixed up very nicely, by the way. Just squirt some Fix-a-Flat into your blow out and keep on trucking, as all will be forgiven. Aries (March 21–April 19) Can you put out a fire by blowing on it? Or breathing it? There is a lot of strength in being a risk-taker, but you, ever-ramming Ram, got burned. Your daredevil self knew it would happen. And you don’t want advice from Astrid either. So make a note, and take it in stride, but don’t throw caution to the wind. When Mercury enters your sign you will be obsessed with work. The full moon on the 10th is going to be something else, Baby. Make it fun. And lead by example. Taurus (April 20–May 20) The full moon on the 10th and new moon on the 25th mean good — no, excellent — news. I know this has come up before, but bears repeating: wonder why they named one of the most popular cars after your sign? Because most Taureans had rather fight than switch. That’s right. A Taurus will work hard. A Taurus won’t give up. A Taurus may not be charming, but they are reliant. And this month, you experience a nice reward, long due you. Gemini (May 21–June 20) Time to inhabit your own fool self. You got your mind together, but your body is falling apart. Stop talking and start walking. Watch your diet. Get some sleep. You are going to need it because company is coming, and your home is where everybody is going to gather. Activity is going to ramp up from the 15th onward. Roll out the welcome mat, but roll it back up when you are really exhausted — even you need shut-eye sometimes. Cancer (June 21-July 22) Suspicious? Sulky? Crabby? Your imagination is on overdrive. What you think happened is not exactly accurate. Give your friends another chance, and use it for a good story. Because most things in life are material for you, anyway. During the full moon on the 10th, you receive unexpected news that is beneficial and might make an opportunity open up that wouldn’t have been possible before. OH For years, Astrid Stellanova owned and operated Curl Up and Dye Beauty Salon in the boondocks of North Carolina until arthritic fingers and her popular astrological readings provoked a new career path. August 2014

O.Henry 95


O.Henry Ending

By Burns Jones

Invariably, the

arrival of the summer dog days spurs memories of hallowed childhood experiences. Attending camp, playing under the sprinkler and visiting my grandparents constitute just a few, but my fondest memories are of chasing fireflies. The absence of shoes and socks, perhaps, ensured that those experiences were both intimate and indelible.

Those of us born in the South probably share the memory of catching them in a canning jar, usually during that liminal period in the evening between half-light and half-dark, when fireflies are most abundant and their light most profound. As a child, the best place for me to catch them was in our neighbor’s yard, an almost impenetrable tangle of vines and vegetation that created the perfect firefly habitat. There, ivy cloaked once magnificent azaleas and grew up around some of the best climbing magnolias in the town. (Many a baseball entered that yard never to be recovered.) Mr. Halbert, who had lived in the house for as long as anyone could remember, was an elderly bachelor with a fabled temper that intensified with each passing year. Normally, his temper was not a problem. Mr. Halbert rarely left the confines of his home. But occasionally, when the allure of the magnolias was just too strong, we would summon the courage to sneak into his yard to climb those trees — known as “attractive nuisances” in our household. The only thing that could thwart our imagination as we climbed higher and higher, beyond the brandish of a pirate’s sword or the flight of an enemy’s arrow, was the smack of Mr. Halbert’s screen door. Spying us through his dingy front window, he would scurry out of the house — his cane raised high, his words garbled by chewing tobacco or homemade brandy — and frighten us away. Our escape, always a combination of both thrill and terror, was part of the fun. One late summer evening, when the humidity was so thick that it seemed to suspend the fireflies in midair, my brother and I decided to catch some. Emptying exoskeletons of bugs now long departed from the jars kept by our bedsides, we scurried out the door and into our front yard. We were quickly enthralled by our work. The fireflies were dense. The heat impeded their already lethargic flight. We caught them in droves. Soon, however, our attention was drawn to Mr. Halbert’s yard. There, the fireflies were preternatural. The sheer volume of insects was beyond any-

96 O.Henry

August 2014

thing we had ever witnessed. At times, their lights would display in unison as if the very hand of God was rhythmically manipulating some great switch. The temptation was impossible to ignore, and we stole into the yard. Quickly, our jars were so brimming with the bugs that it became impossible to place one in the jar without three or four others escaping. Our world was aglow with fireflies. It was at that point that the report from Mr. Halbert’s screen door set us running like a starter’s gun. We didn’t steal a peek until we were bunkered behind a large camellia in our own front yard, where we hid until the old man’s diatribe ended and he re-entered his house. Feeling the exhilaration that only a near-death experience can produce, we were overcome with laughter. It was at this point that the screen door announced Mr. Halbert’s return. We watched as the old man descended the steps and shuffled out into the ivy. His forays out of the house were usually limited to the front porch. This was new territory. Instead of his cane, he carried something peculiar. (Only much later did I appreciate what it was: an antique fumigator, resurrected, perhaps, from the recesses of some dark closet.) With the methodical rasp of the pump accentuated by rust and by the sucking sound of liquid being drawn from the reservoir, he began to discharge a noxious haze that hovered just above the ground. He stood motionless once his work was complete — his immobility was only matched by our own — and admired his handiwork. Slowly, very slowly, the little lights began to sag and then fall into the ivy. After all the lights had died, the old man took one look back at us and then re-entered the house. We remained transfixed, my brother and I, as the darkness fell, and having lost all interest in our quest, we returned home, too confused to speak. Later that night, I lay in bed struggling to sleep. I watched the fireflies crawl inside the jar on my bedside table. Occasionally, their lights would flash, but never, it seemed, with the intensity that distinguished their flight outside. One or two soon began to fall to the bottom of the jar. Then, motivated by some force ineffable yet undeniable, I raised my window and released the fireflies back into the night. I followed the last straggler after it lifted off from my windowsill and drifted out into the yard. As it became lost within the spangle of light that radiated from the bushes and shrubs up and down our street, I knew that, at least until the heat and humidity began to wane with the season, the fireflies would continue to keep our evenings aglow. OH Burns Jones is head of Canterbury School in Greensboro. The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Illustration by Harry Blair

A World Aglow


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The Art & Soul of Greensboro

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