May O.Henry 2014

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Real Estate Agency Brand of the Year

The Top 100 Most Respected Companies in the World

The World’s Most Admired Companies

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Harris Poll EquiTrend® Rankings, 2014

Berkshire Hathaway Barron’s, 2013

Berkshire Hathaway Fortune Magazine, 2014

A sign recognized for strength, integrity and excellence. Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices is a new real estate brokerage network and is among only a select few enterprises entrusted to carry the world-renowned Berkshire Hathaway name. When our name is placed on a yard sign, it’s a sign that buyers and sellers want to see. Berkshire Hathaway represents strength, integrity and operational excellence — one of the world’s most respected and admired companies is now connected with our neighborhood real estate professionals you’ve come to know and trust in Greensboro since 1928. ©2014 BHH Affiliates, LLC. An independently operated subsidiary of HomeServices of America, Inc., a Berkshire Hathaway affiliate, and a franchisee of BHH Affiliates, LLC. Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices and the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices symbol are registered service marks of HomeServices of America, Inc.® Equal Housing Opportunity.




Artfully crafted character with thoughtful function, comfort and scale.

New Home Collection added to our redesigned gallery. Klaussner Furniture has teamed up with Bill to create one of the most exciting collections in furniture: “Carolina Preserves” a tribute to North Carolina’s unique history and traditions. Featuring both upholstery and case goods, with fabrics and finishes inspired by Bill’s art and travels.

Join Us May 2nd & 3rd

as we debut Bill’s New Home Collection .

Refreshments served: 10am - 5pm

View the entire collection at:

2166 Lawndale Drive, Greensboro, NC


Express the essence of you New bracelet and charms collection



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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. 5 “I have a fancy that every city has a voice.” 336.617.0090 1848 Banking Street Greensboro, NC 27408 Jim Dodson, Editor Andie Stuart Rose, Creative Director David Claude Bailey, Senior Editor Kira Schoenfelder, Graphic Designer Lauren Shumaker, Graphic Designer Judi Hewett, Graphic Designer

Contributing Editors Cynthia Adams, Harry Blair, Maria Johnson, Jim Schlosser Contributing Photographers Lynn Donovan, Amy Freeman, Sam Froelich, Laura Gingerich, Hannah Sharpe Contributors

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

Lavonne J. Adams, Jane Borden, Susan Campbell, Brianna Rolfe Cunningham, Tina Firesheets, Christine C. Garton, Sara King, Meridith Martens, Mary Novitsky, Ogi Overman, Nancy Oakley, Sandra Redding, Debra Regula, Noah Salt, Deonna Kelli Sayed, Stephen E. Smith, Astrid Stellanova


David Woronoff, Publisher Advertising Sales Marty Hefner, Sales Director 336.707.6893, Hattie Aderholdt, 336.601.1188 Amy Grove, 336.456.0827 Circulation Darlene Stark, Circulation Director 910.693.2488 Advertising Graphic Design 910.693.2469,

For more information about Dr. Olin and surgery visit

Subscriptions Dana Martin 336.617.0090, ©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

May 2014

The Art & Soul of Greensboro


Le s s th a n o n e p e rce nt of th e wo r l d ’s d i a m o n d s c a n c a r r y th e Fo reve r m a r k ® i n s c ri pti o n — a p ro m i s e th at e a c h i s b e a u tif u l , r a re a n d re s p o n si b ly s o u rce d .

T H E D I A M O N D. T H E P R O M I S E . Forevermark is part of the De Beers group of companies.

© 2 0 1 2 - 2 0 1 3 Fo reve r m a r k . Fo reve r m a r k ® ,

T H E C E N T E R O F M Y U N I V E R S E ™ F R O M F O R E V E R M A R K®

® a n d C E N T E R O F M Y U N I V E R S E ™ , a re Tra d e M a r k s o f t h e D e B e e r s g ro u p o f co m p a n i e s .

D i s c o v e r F o r e v e r m a r k ® d i a m o n d s i n e x c e p t i o n a l d e s i g n s a t w w w.w i n d s o r - j e w e l e r s . c o m

May 2014 departments

13 Hometown

16 Short Stories 19 Doodad

21 Life’s Funny

22 Omnivorous Reader

25 N.C. Writer’s Notebook

27 Best Reader Memoirs 2014

29 Lunch with a Friend

35 The Evolving Species

38 The Pleasures of Life

41 Artist at Work

45 Birdwatch

47 Street Level

55 Life of Jane

By Jim Dodson

By Deonna Kelli Sayed By Maria Johnson By Stephen E. Smith By Sandra Redding

By Christine C. Garton By Maria Johnson

By Cynthia Adams By Cynthia Adams By Cynthia Adams

By Susan Campbell By Jim Schlosser By Jane Borden

88 98 105 111

Arts & Entertainment May Calendar Worth the Drive GreenScene Accidental Astrologer By Astrid Stellanova

112 O.Henry Ending By Cynthia Adams


59 Nurture Poetry by Lavonne J. Adams 60 A Twee House By Cynthia Adams

Designer Tricia Watkins proves small is beautiful

62 Hunt & Gather

Just one thing for your home and garden

64 The Queen of Junk By David C. Bailey

“I can’t help it,” interior designer Lory Gray says of her obsession with junque

66 The Little School that Could By Jane Borden Learning and good memories go hand-in-hand at 90-year-old Irving Park Elementary.

70 A Woman of Substance By Maria Johnson Cover Photograph by Hannah Sharpe Photograph this page from High Point University

Anne Carlson shows the Gate City how to live a well-furnished life.

80 The Lush Life By Nancy Oakley

With 320 acres to play with, High Point University’s curator of grounds tends 2,000 types of plants in twenty-two gardens

84 May Almanac By Noah Salt 6 O.Henry

May 2014

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Join us at The View on Elm for our Anne et Valentin and Theo Eyewear Event on June 5th, 3-7 PM

Art for Eyes | Eye for Arts Fine Eyewear, Artwork and Jewelry 327 South Elm | Greensboro 336.274.1278 | Becky Causey, Licensed Optician

3301 Alamance $4,000,000

900 Rockford $3,950,000

1801 Carlisle Rd $3,500,000

3215 N. Rockingham Rd $2,900,000

415 Sunset Dr $2,800,000

7304 Autumn Lake Dr $1,350,000

12 Wynnewood $875,000

1 Hillwind Ct $830,000

611 Woodland Dr $750,000

1404 Briarcliff Rd $685,000

809 Dover $625,000

3 Laurel Cove $595,000

5200 Bodie $469,000

1203 Hammel Rd $450,000

2023 Brassfield Rd $449,900

38 E. Kemp Rd $439,000

615 Willoughby $435,000

101 Country Club $414,900

3919 Friendly $329,000

1108 Dover Unit H $324,800

2611 Mackinaw Dr $321,000

4800 Oakcliffe Rd $306,000

806 Fairmont St $304,900

101 Kimberly Terrace $302,500

2605 Sherwood $233,000

2306 Farmgate $226,650

1113 Latham Rd $225,000

832 Olive $224,900

716 Lipscomb $216,400

1517 Independence $213,900

1907 Independence $191,000

29 Fountain Manor Dr $180,000

4104 Laurel Creek $174,900

3 Ackland $169,900

2502 Walker $169,900

613 Scott $159,900

1803 Efland $159,900

2408 Walker Ave $152,900

3035 Renaissance $139,900

3005 Collier $132,000

1700 N. Elm St $104K - $129K

6 Abelia $119,900

700 Woodland $1,225,000

4311 Ravenstone $995,000

14 Provincetown Ct $990,000

1605 Carlisle Rd $989,000

3309-3311 Gaston $975,000

2405 Deer Track $899,900

7612 Charles Place $589,000

601 Chancery Pl $579,000

1401 Briarcliff $575,000

5439 Hiddenbrook $499,000

1401 Hobbs $484,000

1102 Country Club $475,000

206 Cross Vine $388,500

5304 Ashbey $379,900

1401 Latham Rd $359,000

418 Beverly Pl $358,000

810 Courtland $340,000

1607 Deercroft Ct $334,900

1108 Dover Unit C $299,000

124 R1 Wade St $299,000

112 Wedgedale $289,700

6502 Barwick $246,400

1513 Independence Rd $234,000

802 Eugene $234,000

132 Northridge $209,900

1016 Wharton $204,900

1710 Colonial $196,800

6314 Stonewick $195,500

3602 Regents Park $195,000

3412 Northline $195,000

See one you like? To arrange a showing or get more information on one of these charming homes, call one of our agents or visit today. / 336.274.1717

Marti Tyler 336.210.7503

Jill oakley 336.456.6077

kristen Haynes 336.209.3382

katie Redhead 336.430.0219

Tom Jackson 336.362.9749

Jim Blakeley 336.456.7785

Alec McAlister 336.707.0463

Stacey u. ofsanko 336.404.6342

elizabeth Pell 336.447.5516

Preston young 336.420.1478

Patty yow 336.255.9369

kathy nakayama 336.327.7468

Charlotte Davidson 336.314.4105

Frank Slate Brooks 336.708.0479

karen Bickham Jobe 336.430.6552

u 26 Paths to Leisu o re – F Y 21 ind One For

43 Parks & Recreation Administration 43 Athletics Office


Ballfields & Concession Stands

9 Latham Park 11 Levette 10 Lewis 12 Old Peck 13 Pomona 14 Rankin 15 Revolution 16 Smith High School 7 Stoner-White Stadium 17 West Market

1 Allen Jr. High 3 Carolyn S. Allen Park & Athletic Complex

2 Barber Park 8 Joe Davis Park 18 Constance Griffin Field 4 I.C. Apple 5 Hampton 6 Hester Park 7 Jaycee Park Soccer/ Football Complex

24 48



Public Gardens

27 51 7 10

19 Tanger Family Bicentennial Garden 46 The Bog Garden 20 Greensboro Arboretum 56 Gateway Gardens

City Cemeteries

43 Cemeteries Office 51 Forest Lawn Cemetery 52 Green Hill Cemetery

53 Maplewood Cemetery 54 Union Cemetery

44 15



Culture & Recreation

41 City Arts 38 Caldcleugh Multicultural

40 Greensboro Youth Council 24 Lake Brandt 25 Lake Higgins 26 Lake Townsend 43 MainStream Resources


Arts Center 43 City Beautiful 23 Gillespie Golf Course (Therapeutic Recreation) 33 Coach Al Lowe Boxing Center 40 Greensboro Farmers 39 Camp Joy Curb Market at Hagan-Stone Park 44 Greensboro Seniors 23 Specialized Park Services (Smith Senior Center) 40 Youth Programs 42 Greensboro Sportsplex

Regional Parks

2 Barber Park 21 Bryan Park 27 Country Park 6 Hester Park


46 49




18 4

33 Lindley Center 34 Trotter Center 36 Peeler Center 18 Warnersville Center 37 Windsor Center

12 38


57 34



7 Jaycee Park 55 Keeley Park 29 Price Park



43 40





Recreation Centers

30 Brown Center 31 Craft Center 57 East White Oak Center 4 Glenwood Center 32 Leonard Center 10 Lewis Center




11 2



16 5

6 36

Swimming Pools

39 Camp Joy at Hagan-Stone Park 33 Lindley Outdoor Pool 34 Peeler Outdoor Pool 16 Smith High School Indoor Pool 44 Smith Senior Center Indoor Pool 18 Warnersville Center Outdoor Pool 37 Windsor Center Outdoor Pool



Tennis Facilities

21 Bryan Park 6 Hester Park 7 Spencer Love Tennis Center 9 Latham Park 2 Simkins Indoor Sports Pavilion


Visit us online for directions and facility information.

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• Afterschool programs, day camps, classes, special events, sports, parks, gardens, lakes and trails • City Arts - dance, drama, music, visual arts and Caldcleugh Multicultural Arts Center • Recreation centers, year-round programs for teens and seniors, MainStream Resources • Volunteer opportunities, social media sites and more!

ls ra i

P • s

•Lakes •Pa




48 Atlantic & Yadkin Greenway (paved) 10 Bicentennial Greenway (paved) 49 Lake Daniel Greenway (paved) 50 Latham Park Greenway (paved) 58 Downtown Greenway (paved)

Gardens c i l ub


336-373-CITY (2489)

PARKS, GARDENS, LAKES, TRAILS, SPORTS, RECREATION CENTERS & MORE! For a complete list of year-round leisure programs and activities for people of all ages and interests, visit Greensboro Parks & Recreation at:

 Visit us on Facebook & Twitter!

Caring for you is an honor

Leading the way in nursing care Receiving national recognition for excellence certainly feels nice. What feels even nicer is knowing how we earned that recognition – by keeping you at the center of everything we do. We’re proud to announce that Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center, Novant Health Kernersville Medical Center* and Novant Health Medical Park Hospital** have received Magnet® designation from the American Nurses Credentialing Center. This honor is the most prestigious distinction a hospital can receive for nursing excellence and outstanding patient care. Earned by only 6.9 percent of hospitals nationwide and only 23 hospitals in North Carolina, it truly is the gold standard for nursing care. We are proud of our nurses and their unwavering commitment to helping you get better and stay healthy. *Kernersville Medical Center is a department of Forsyth Medical Center. **Medical Park Hospital is a campus of Forsyth Medical Center.

Learn more about our quality, services and providers.


Moving Sale

By Jim Dodson

Something happened last

month I vowed would only happen one more time before I die.

We moved to a new house. Eight years ago we packed up our house on a hill in Maine and moved home to North Carolina. Quite honestly, it was tough to say goodbye to Maine, the place I raised a family and built the only house I’ve ever owned, investing most of my kids’ college savings into a faux English garden in the woods. But as a good friend of mine likes to say, life is subject to change without notice. Two days before the moving truck arrived, my wife held a moving sale and chased me off to go hike a local mountain or play golf with my buddies, accurately pointing out I would not only be in the way but most likely ruin sales by deciding not to part with something purely for sentimental reasons. As in power tools and old books. Since I designed and built the interior of our post-and-beam dream house, I had plenty of cool power tools in my fancy customized (and fully heated) garage and workshop. I even had a deluxe, if somewhat weary, John Deere lawn tractor that provided more cheap fun and custodial satisfaction from April to October than a year’s free subscription to Gentleman Lawn Mower and Power Tool Magazine. Then there were the books — entire walls of collected books — a Jeffersonian library of old books I’d accumulated over thirty years and insanely hauled to five different residences in four different states, initially from my parents’ home in Greensboro to a bachelor pad in midtown Atlanta, then on to a solar house on the banks of a winding river in rural Vermont, followed by a time in a cabin on a hilltop in New Hampshire. Next came a rambling farmhouse on the coast of Maine, followed by the The Art & Soul of Greensboro

aforementioned post-and-beam dream house on a forested hilltop west of town. “I’m never moving these books again,” I vowed when the last book went on the shelf. Famous last words. Before I left my wife in charge of her moving sale, I pointed out which power tools and old books she was absolutely not to sell. I’d personally culled a dozen tools I thought I might be able to part with and by my rough count a dozen boxes of well-traveled books, maybe a hundred titles tops. “No problem,” she said. “Go have fun.” “Where did all this stuff come from?” I wondered, amazed at the sudden and sheer volume of old lamps, odd pieces of furniture, rugs, appliances and things I’d never even seen before. “Stuff accumulates,” she said. “Seriously. Go. Goodbye.” I went and played golf with buddies and drank a couple of beers on the club terrace afterward, casually mentioning my regret and worry about leaving my dream house and selling some of my old books and power tools to complete strangers. “I don’t think I can ever do this again,” I said. “One more move and that’s it.” “I know exactly what you mean. My wife sold my official commemorative Red Sox home brewing system at her yard sale,” one of my buddies commiserated. “I’ve never quite recovered.” “There’s nothing more ruthless than a woman running a moving sale,” agreed my other buddy. “My wife sold the camper where our children were conceived. She even tried to sell our dog — the half-blind one. The woman has no heart.” Friend one added ruefully: “A woman running a moving sale will sell anything that isn’t safely nailed down. It’s in their DNA.” This talk, I confess, spooked me. I finished my beer and hurried home to see how our moving sale had gone. I found an empty garage but one very happy wife. May 2014

O.Henry 13

HomeTown “Guess what?” she said. “I sold most of the tools and even your lawn tractor!” Like an idiot, I’d forgotten to tell her not to sell my beloved John Deere lawn tractor. She was flush with cash and beaming like a gal who’d just won the scrapbook Olympics. “But I loved that lawn tractor,” I pointed out. “Honey, it was old and worn out.” “So am I.” “You can buy another one in North Carolina,” she cheerfully suggested, reminding me there wouldn’t have been room for it in the moving van anyway. “In that case I would have driven it there.” She laughed. “That would take you a month.” “I’d see the sights along the way. Maybe mow a few yards to pay for the gas.” I asked her about my Jeffersonian library of well-traveled old books. She alarmingly replied that she sold maybe a dozen more boxes than planned. “None of your really good books,” she added, though how she knew good from bad books was utterly beyond my comprehension. Women know these things, I suppose. Maybe it really is in their DNA. In any case, getting rid of 600 books made her

visibly happier than a free lifetime subscription to Real Simple. “Besides, you’ve still got enough books left to outfit a fleet of bookmobiles,” she pointed out. Much as it pains me to admit, she was probably right. I hadn’t read or even opened hundreds of those old books since the Jimmy Carter years, just taken them on a guided tour of the Eastern Seaboard. Probably half the old books I’d owned that morning now belonged to somebody else. The rest came home to a rambling historic rental house in North Carolina, where they sat gathering dust on shelves until this week, when she held another moving sale and got rid of probably half of them along with old lamps, odd pieces of furniture, rugs, appliances, stuff I’d never seen before. “Where’d all this stuff come from?” I wondered shortly before she chased me off to go play golf or take a hike though a local park. “Stuff accumulates,” she said. “Go have fun. Seriously. Go. Goodbye.” This time, remembering what my buddy up in Maine said about his half-blind dog, I took our dogs with me and headed for the new house,

which comes with a two-acre lot that resembles an arboretum and will let me get lost and gloriously dirty in the garden for hours. The house fits us like a glove — just needs a little TLC to feel like a permanent home sweet home. And best of all, I still have enough old books left, I calculate, to outfit at least one small home office or one decent bookmobile. On the way there we stopped off at Lowe’s just to look at power tools and check out the latest John Deere lawn tractors. Just wandering those vast home improvement aisles for the first time in nearly a decade made me happier than a guy who’d just received free finish line tickets to the Lawn-Mowing Olympics, though the sticker shock I suffered on the particular Deere model I fancied wasn’t small. Life and lawn tractor prices, I guess, are subject to change without notice. Still, a guy can finally scheme and dream again about all that goes into making a house a home. I decided to buy 200 pounds of composted cow manure, a new garden spade and think about that tractor until the grass starts really to grow. OH Contact editor Jim Dodson at

Mother’s Day Trunk Show featuring new work by Gabriel Ofiesh

49 Miller Street next to Whole Foods • Winston-Salem 723.4022 Monday-Friday 10-6 Saturday 10-5 14 O.Henry

May 2014

May 9th and 10th The Art & Soul of Greensboro

A House to Reflect Your Dreams, An Agent to Make Them Come True. At Tom Chitty & Associates, we understand you have an image of the home you want. That’s why as a Luxury Collection specialist, I and my team are highly trained experts who will turn your vision into reality.

Start reflecting on the home you want today. Visit

Tom Chitty & Associates Direct Line: 336-420-2836 Email: Website:

©2014 An independently operated subsidiary of HomeServices of America, Inc., a Berkshire Hathaway affiliate, and a franchisee of BHH Affiliates, LLC. Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices and the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices symbol are registered service marks of HomeServices of America, Inc.® Equal Housing Opportunity.

Short Stories Pass It Along Dear O.Henry — I am Ginny Sandberg, one of the chairs for the Extension Master Gardener Volunteers’ Annual Passalong Plant Sale & Festival, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Friday, May 9, and 9 a.m. to noon, Saturday, May 10. The majority of the plants, trees and shrubs we have for sale come from Master Gardeners’ own gardens — peonies that have been shared for generations; tuberosas from a family that has had them for seventy-five years; and all colors of daylilies and iris, hostas and hellebores. Vegetables and tomatoes are often of a heritage variety. There are creeping ground covers like pachysandra, liriope and ajuga. We pass along both plants and knowledge, helping gardeners with questions about plants and gardens. Info: Guilford County Cooperative Extension, 3309 Burlington Road, Greensboro, (336) 375-5876. DCB

Master’s Works The twisty-swirly bouquets in UNCG MFA student Stacy Bloom Rexrode’s “Brueghel’s Baroque” just might have been made from something you threw away. “The elegance and beauty of many of Rexrode’s plastic sculptures belie the environmental waste from which they are formed,” says the Weatherspoon exhibit’s curator Xandra Eden, “and are indicative of the highly inventive artistic techniques on display in UNCG’s 2014 MFA thesis exhibition.” Other creations include a large, dragonlike, scaled-steel sculpture by Nam Le, charming arctic animal sculptures by Jennifer Bonner, dreamlike memory models by Katey Austin, poetic typed-text videos by Amanda Wagstaff, and richly layered charcoal drawings by Christian Brahe. On display until June 1, with an Artists’ Gallery Talk Tuesday, May 13, at Weatherspoon Art Museum, corner of Spring Garden and Tate Streets, Greensboro, (336) 334-5770 or weatherspoon@ DCB

16 O.Henry

May 2014

May Days Get out and celebrate the demise of 2014’s lingering winter in this merry month. Downtown’s Greensboro Farmers Curb Market ( begins its Wednesday markets on May 7 — preceded on Saturday, May 4, by its spring “artsravaganza” — and followed by Strawberry Pancake Day on May 17. Out near Colfax, the Piedmont Triad Farmers Market ( plans a strawberry day on May 2, a chili championship on May 10 and a crafts fair on May 30. Going highbrow, the Greensboro Symphony ( ends its season May 8 and 10 with Shostakovich’s rousing Symphony No. 5 and Beethoven’s poignant and tender Piano Concerto No. 5. On May 7, to celebrate the Symphony’s 50th anniversary, the Symphony Guild presents Solid Gold, a Jabberbox Puppet Theatre play by Marianne Gingher and Deborah Seabrooke (jabberboxpuppettheater. com). And speaking of annual events, don’t miss the 56th Annual St. Francis Book Sale on Thursday, May 8, Friday, May 9 and Saturday, May 10, beginning at 9 a.m. each day ( The Hoppers ( will run the bases for eighteen home games in May, three of them on Thirsty Thursdays, when you can get a beer for a buck. In the arena of hard-fought and closely followed competitions, Fire in the Triad’s tournament of toqued chefs serves up the foodies’ equivalent of heaven during its semifinals throughout May ( And don’t miss City Market on May 15 with music (Bump and Logie), food, produce, arts, crafts and a very cool vibe at the Railyard ( DCB

The Write Stuff For Guilford County residents only, the 2014 O.Henry Short Story Contest is officially open. Cash and publication go to winning entries in two categories: Adult and high school students. Contest guidelines:

•Submissions must be no more than 1,000 words in length. •All entries must be received by no later than July 1, 2014. •One entry per writer. •Entries should be emailed, along with complete contact information, to (or snail-mailed to O.Henry Short Story Contest, 1848 Banking Road, Greensboro, N.C., 27408). •Winning entries and runners-up will be published in the magazine or online with winners announced at a special celebration. DCB

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Sauce of the Month “Fresh” is the adjective that O.Henry’s elite product testing unit kept using while sampling Greensboro’s homegrown Sarah’s Salsa. That’s because it’s made totally from fresh ingredients, all of which you can pronounce without a degree in chemistry. Sarah’s “hot” variety, available at Lowes Foods and Fresh Markets, lives up to its name, though chiliheads will find it just on the edge of torrid. But what really got our attention was Sarah’s newly introduced avocado salsa verde, available at only Fresh Market. Bristling with garlic, sassy with lime and rounded with avocado and tomatillos, here’s a green salsa that doesn’t need to be fiery because it’s so very flavorful. Don’t wait until the Cinquo de Mayo to get some.

Boy, Oh Boys With five White House performances during its fiftyfive year history and trips to hundreds of churches and cathedrals, the Burlington Boys Choir will present their annual Spring Dessert Concert on Saturday, May 10, at 7 p.m. Made up of highly trained and talented boys between the ages of 9 and 12 whose voices have not yet changed, the choir of fifteen to twenty lads memorize as many as sixty sheets of music for each of their concerts. Under the direction of Bill Allred, the choir will perform “Blessed Jesu” by Edward Elgar, “What Do We Plant” by Aaron Copland, a Czech folk song, and “Begin the Beguine” and “So In Love” by Cole Porter; at Macedonia Lutheran Church, 410 West Front Street, Burlington. The free performance, followed by a reception featuring homemade cupcakes, brownies and cookies, promises to be the Triad’s “sweetest” concert of the year. Info: (336) 266-5067 or www. DCB

Not Really Odd Isn’t it a little odd that the Odd Fellows generate so little public awareness today, other than for its unusual name? To do something about that, Greensboro’s Buena Vista Lodge of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, possibly the oldest fraternal group in Greensboro, is planning a birthday bash on May 10 from 1–4 p.m. to celebrate its 165th year of quietly helping the poor, providing student loans and sponsoring what is believed to be Greensboro’s oldest continuous little league baseball team. The Odd Fellows organization began in Britian in the 17th century to help widows, orphans and others in need of help. Why were they called odd? One theory holds that charity work of any sort was rare in England at the time, so anyone doing it was so labeled. The birthday celebration — featuring cake, light refreshments, tours of the building and drawing for prizes on the hour — is designed to familiarize the public with the lodge and attract new members. Info: (336) 292-1748 or JS

Even Greensboro Gets the Blues Just like the blues itself, the Carolina Blues Festival has had a bit of a hard scrabble, vagabond existence. The multi-act, all-day, outdoor event has been shuffled from venue to venue at least eight times, lost corporate sponsorships and survived spring’s wrath on more than a few occasions. Now in its twenty-eighth year, it is the signature event of the Piedmont Blues Preservation Society, featuring national, regional and local acts including, this year on Saturday, May 17, Rod Piazza & The Mighty Flyers. For the ninth straight year the festival will be held under the big tent at Festival Park beside the Cultural Center. But before that, look for no fewer than ten concerts and open jams to be held around town featuring the area’s finest blues practitioners. “We have a week’s worth of blues events lined up, so that we can genuinely call it a ‘Blues Week,’” notes chief festival organizer and past president of the PBPS John Amberg. Info: OO

Katz Cradle


The Art & Soul of Greensboro

In September, O.Henry introduced you to Noé Katz, the most celebrated Greensboro artist you might not have heard about. We told you how the guitar-picking artist from Mexico fell in love with North Carolina via James Taylor. Now you can check out his art at a two-man show, Two Artists/One Space. Sharing Greenhill’s gallery with Hillsborough artist John Beerman, Katz’s work defies pat categorization. Between War and Peace, shown here, is a polychrome sculpture created in 2000 of assembled wood, finished with a glimmering coat of oil paint. “The artist’s visual language, based on polished surfaces and meticulous craft, is exemplified in this work in which the two symbolic figures appear inexorably locked in a dance, their interrelationship highlighted by a network of golden arteries binding them together,” says Edie Carpenter, the museum’s director of curatorial and artistic programs. On May 1, Katz will talk about his work, on display through June 22. Info: (336) 333-7460 or DCB May 2014 O.Henry 17

FoR MoRe THan 25 YeaRS

www.Vance 2020 Spanish Wells Drive • Landfall

1827 Verrazzano Drive • Landfall

1312 Airlie Road

Natural light, prevailing breezes make this all brick residence a comfortable spot to call home. Home is stretched over two lots on Dye Golf Course (par 5, Hole #7) $675,000

Located on the picturesque par 5 #12 of the Pete Dye Course, this all brick home built by Dan Kent offers Old World elegance and country French architecture with an open floor plan. $985,000

Always wanted to be on the water? How about a residential/office condominium with ICWW views from every room and 2 boat slips? $995,000

2324 Ocean Point • Landfall

801 Oak Creek Place • Landfall

809 Swift Wind Place • Landfall

Imagine the charm and character of antebellum Charleston architecture combined with today’s modern conveniences like a gourmet/granite kitchen over-looking the Intracoastal Waterway. $2,395,000

Beautiful Charleston style residence located on a quiet cul-de-sac with 10ft ceilings, 8ft doors and hardwood floors on both levels. This open floor plan has great natural light that overlooks a peaceful pool. $1,295,000

This gently sloping private pie-shaped lot overlooks the marsh of Howe Creek. Custom built by Old South, this 6,150 square foot residence features a huge covered front porch and large terrace in the back. $1,450,000

1 Oyster Catcher • Figure 8

6013 Wellsley Place • Whitehall

7807 Masonboro Sound Road

“Twin Views” - Glorious sunrises and spectacular sunsets abound from this reverse floor plan with wrap around decks. Ocean and sound views from this 4 bedroom, 3 ½ bath home. $1,595,000

The scene for several movies and television series, this residence features 4 ½ acres, 5300 sq. ft. main house, salt water pool, private lighted tennis court and a 3 bedroom guest cottage. $1,995,000

Located on Wilmington’s “Magnificent Mile” where Intracoastal waterway views to Masonboro Island and the Atlantic Ocean are paired with large, private multi-acre estates. $1,695,000

1255 Great Oaks Drive • Landfall

2001 Balmoral Place • Landfall

8005 Bald Eagle Lane • Eagle Point

One of Landfall’s finest addresses with over 1 ½ acres of high bluff overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway and Landfall’s Temple Garden. This coastal craftsman inspired design features the main residence, a detached guest house and a refreshing saltwater pool. $2,950,000

Set amidst the manicured 2.28 acre lot overlooking the headwaters of Howe Creek, this Michael Kersting designed masterpiece captures the serenity of life on a tidal marsh. Expansive views from this double lot bring the gardens into play no matter what the season. $3,375,000

This waterfront residence of prominent Wilmington architect, Henry Johnston, is perfectly sited at the southern end of Bald Eagle Lane overlooking the ICW and Little Creek. Enjoy a morning swim in the lap pool or having your boat steps away with the deeded deep water 40ft slip. $1,195,000

Experience the Exceptional


Interior Photo Courtesy of Michael Blevins

Pure Folly

Beginning Friday, May 2nd, Kernersville will once again celebrate folly, with music, dance, gymnastics and clowns. But the very first testament to this town’s fascination with folly is Körner’s Folly, the hard-to-miss Main Street structure erected by a member of Kernersville’s founding family. Consider combining the festivities with a visit to this one-of-a-kind destination. Jule Korner, the grandson of Kernersville’s patriarch, started building a bachelor’s pad in 1878. His home doubled as a storefront and living catalog for his interior design and furniture business. So what if locals called it a “folly.” His bachelor pad eventually grew into a happy family estate, with he and his wife becoming a local force for the arts, craftsmanship and innovative design. Körner’s Folly reflected Jule’s creative acumen: the top floor hosted what is believed to be America’s earliest community theater. The bottom floor functioned, in part, as Kernersville’s first public library. Eighty percent of the furnishings remain original to the house. No window frame or molding is alike, and you may have to bend down to squeeze through some of the doorways in its twenty-two rooms. Jule was the creator of the iconic Bull Durham Tobacco campaign. His alter ego, Reuben Rink, erected billboards featuring anatomically correct bulls throughout the Southeast. He then orchestrated fictional letter writing campaigns by posing as an insulted local. Eventually, Rink would “agree” to place a fence over the offending organ. Körner’s tactics established what is thought to be the first national advertising campaign, and one based on controversy and innuendo. On the National Registry of Historic Places, the “Strangest House in America” offers homage to a Triad legacy that deserves the attention of, say, a loud anatomically correct bull. OH Körner’s Folly, 413 South Main Street, Kernersville, (336) 996-7922 or Open Thursday through Sunday. – Deonna Kelli Sayed The Art & Soul of Greensboro

May 2014

O.Henry 19

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20 O.Henry

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Life’s Funny

My Wild Kingdom

Who knew our neighborhood — and my backyard — was such a critter crossroads? By Maria Johnson

In our last installment of The

Saga of Stinky, the BadAss, Nonchalant Skunk, we covered how my husband had suggested there might be a skunk about our yard, an idea I quickly pooh-poohed, only to be proven . . . not exactly right . . . by Stinky himself, who ambled casually across our cul-de-sac and into our yard one February night and lingered briefly under my own nervous nose.

I believe the legal term is habeus stinkus. Stinky disappeared into the darkness that night — largely because no one in my house was eager to follow him, at least not from the upwind side — and the questions swirled in my mind. What did he want in my yard? What had drawn him here? Was he living nearby? How had my dogs not been sprayed? Would he return? What kind of woman spends so much time thinking about a skunk? The mystery deepened about a week later when it snowed, and my yard was revealed to be an animal ballroom. You’ve never seen so many tracks in your life. Tracks coming, tracks going, tracks through gaps in fences, tracks leading to our birdhouses, tracks across my raised beds, tracks doing the Virginia Reel and the Texas Two-Step. You know those “Family Circle” cartoons that show Billy’s footprints all over creation as he’s going from Point A to Point B? That’s what our yard looked like. But where was Point A? And where was Point B? I went into Elmer Fudd mode, and fowwowed . . . sum twacks . . . vehwee . . . carefuwwy . . . to . . . My next-door neighbor’s crawl space. A vent was askew. Could it be? I texted Sharon at work. She and her husband were just back from Cancun. “Hope you had a great time,” I texted. “I don’t mean to alarm you, but a skunk might be living under your house.” Well, apparently it’s impossible not to alarm someone when you tell her a skunk might be living under her house. My phone rang. “*@^#^!<**#&%#)#><”@#&!=”/>!!!!,” Sharon said. “I know, right? @**#&#^#a><:*&^%_)!!,” I said. You know how friends talk when a skunk might be living under one of their homes. Turns out, Sharon had heard something knocking around under the house one night a few weeks before. An exterminator was summoned and looked under the house. The insulation was torn down, and there was animal poo about, but the interloper was gone. The exterminator put the vent back in place and all was forgotten. Until my text. The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Sharon swung into action and hired an amateur trapper named Sam, who will henceforth be known as Sam, Sam, The Varmint Man. Well, Sam, Sam, The Varmint Man looked at the vent. He looked at a tunnel beside Sharon’s air conditioner. He saw no traces of fur. He smelled no funky smell, which he said would cling to Stinky even if he sprayed somewhere else. He saw no tracks because, by this time, the snow had melted and someone had forgotten to take pictures of the tracks. Sam, Sam, The Varmint Man wasn’t convinced a skunk was responsible for the home invasion. He stuffed the tunnel with Styrofoam and said, “Let’s watch it.” Well, the next day, the Styrofoam was pulled out of the tunnel. Sharon jammed paper towels into the hole. The next day, the Bounty was in the yard. Sam, Sam, The Varmint Man set two cage traps beside the tunnel and baited them with eggs and Honey Buns. That was several days ago. As I write this, the score is: Stinky The BadAss, Nonchalant Skunk, 4. Sam, Sam, The Varmint Man, 0. OK, one animal found the Honey Buns irresistible and was trapped. Sharon’s dog Olive. Sam, Sam The Varmint Man believes a squirrel is living under Sharon’s house. Any other suspect — skunk, raccoon, opossum — would have gone for the eggs and Honey Buns. So the Stinkman waddles free. I must admit, I’ve grown to admire him. Not that I want him living under my house. But I gotta give him props as a survivor. He must be living somewhere else, says Sam, Sam, The Varmint Man. Maybe under another neighbor’s shed. Which would mean a nocturnal menagerie is romping through my neighborhood. Roger that, says Sam. “You wouldn’t believe what comes through your yard at night,” he says, pulling back the curtain on the feral cotillion. Coyotes, foxes, deer, bears — all are fairly common visitors, even in the city. I bid Sam, Sam the Varmint man good day, go back inside and wait for night to come. Maybe I will sit in my nice, cozy living room and watch Animal Planet on TV while, on the other side of the wall, the real show goes on. OH Assuming that Maria Johnson is not trapped while trying to retrieve a Honey Bun, she can be reached at

May 2014

O.Henry 21

The Omnivorous Reader

Bear Trouble

A promising second novel comes up short on delivery. An Eden gone wrong

By Stephen E. Smith

Novelist Guy Owen gave his creative writing students a piece of good advice. “Bring on the bear,” he’d say — meaning that a narrative has to make it from the very beginning, no false starts, no procrastination. No excuses.

In her second novel, The Bear, Claire Cameron comes close to honoring Owen’s simple precept. She literally (I’m using the term correctly) introduces the story’s action — a bear attack on a family of campers — in her first four chapters. But there’s a hitch Owen didn’t anticipate: the novel’s first-person narrator, 5-year-old Anna, is stuffed in a Coleman cooler by her father at the outset of the attack. She only overhears a commotion, filtering events through a child’s perceptions: “There is growling and a sound like Momma is making lunch and using the top of the Coleman to cut apples with a knife. But it is not Momma because her hair is yellow and she always gives me a piece of apple first. It is louder and more like there are ten Mommas cutting up apples but there is too many and they don’t fit.” Regrettably, the terror gets lost in the telling. How do we know the narrator is describing a bear attack? Cameron reveals as much in an “Author’s Note” that precedes the opening chapter, stating that her novel is based, in part, on a 1991 bear attack in a Canadian provincial park, where two adult campers were killed and partially eaten by a black bear. Although well intended, this information overwhelms our suspension of disbelief and involves us, in a critical sense, in the structuring of the novel. After all, we’ve been provided the source of the author’s

22 O.Henry

May 2014

inspiration. Why shouldn’t we have a say in how the story unfolds, especially at those moments when the author’s imagination falters? Cameron has included two fictional children in the narrative (“I added the kids,” she writes at the end of the “Author’s Note”), and the action grows out of Anna’s struggle to save her 2-year-old brother, Alex, and herself in an unforgiving wilderness. It’s an intriguing premise — two innocents propelled from their parents’ loving care into an Eden gone horrifyingly wrong — and the plotting possibilities seem almost limitless. An able screenwriter would have a heyday with such a scenario, and thoughtful readers are likely to anticipate suspenseful plot twists and deep thematic intent, which, unfortunately, the novel never delivers. The fundamental flaw is that Anna isn’t fully realized as a character, and her grasp of language, as imagined by Cameron, isn’t sufficiently developed to convey the full possibilities of the story. Child narrators abound in our literature — who’s to fault Twain, Henry James, Faulkner, Harper Lee and Alice Walker — but Anna’s narration, albeit crammed with excellent description and endearing observations, bogs down in pointless detail, redundancy, and wordiness. Granted, a 5-year-old probably wouldn’t grasp the terrible implications of a bear attack, but a child narrator could bring to the story a fresh point of view, an opportunity for the author to exploit character development, and a necessary sense of realism, none of which occurs to any appreciable extent in The Bear. Here’s a typical passage: “But in the fish land we can’t breathe in water so there are bubbles all around and a fish put a bubble on my lips with its nose and The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Reader when that bubble is done another fish comes and brings a new bubble. I say thank you and I’m not sure if it’s the same fish that brought the bubble before so it is a good idea to say thank you anyway when you aren’t sure because it never hurts anyone. The fish says you are welcome and dips his fish nose at me and I think that the fish seem to want manners so saying thank you might get me more treats. Fish don’t like bubble gum.” To further confuse readers, Anna’s family history — in particular her parents’ temporary separation — is offered in a series of recurrent memories. When Anna asked her mother about her father’s absence, her mother “put her hand on her mouth and said, ‘Oh sweetie.’ I saw a little piece of sad drip from her heart up into her eyes but she didn’t show me her cry and I didn’t see it because she swallowed it back into her heart.” We learn through back-story that Anna’s grandmother is dead, that Barbie dolls are not allowed in the house, that Anna is jealous of a playmate, Jessica, who has a Barbie, that her brother loves cookies. The pacing of the narrative suffers from this constant drifting in and out of these unnecessary flashbacks. Then there’s the constant use of the scatological, intended no doubt to add a touch of verisimilitude to Anna’s descriptions. Admittedly, children are often focused on bathroom habits, but Anna’s obsession with bodily functions only serves to confuse and interrupt the unfolding of the plot. One or two mentions of “poo” would have sufficed. “I look and he is sitting with a naked bum,” Anna observes, “and there is still the pile of poo beside him and yuck. It’s like he thinks I am his momma and do poo and lunches now and I don’t like it no thanks.” Enough already. What would have improved the telling of Anna’s story? Cameron might have taken a lesson from Steinbeck’s Flight, which has long been a part of the literary canon. Steinbeck’s Pepe is older than Anna, but the third-person limited narration as seen through Pepe’s consciousness opens up his story to diverse possibilities, not the least of which is Steinbeck’s use of poetic language to reveal Pepe’s emotions and to create a sense of literary and social naturalism. It’s a brave writer who tells a story from the point of view of a 5-year-old. Placing that child in an unforgiving and unfamiliar wilderness makes the task even more daunting. Alas, Cameron never quite pulls it off, and The Bear is an interesting but unrealized effort. OH Stephen E. Smith’s most recent book of poems is A Short Report on the Fire at Woolworths. He can be reached at The Art & Soul of Greensboro

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May 2014

O.Henry 23


only picture perfect

is acceptable.

The 24 Art O.Henry & Soul of Greensboro May 2014

High Point The Art & Soul of Greensboro

I Greensboro I Winston May 2014 O.HenrySalem 24

May is National Short Story Month. Read a story to celebrate. Even better, write one!

By Sandra Redding May 3 (Saturday, 5 p.m.) Scuppernong Books, Greensboro: Press 53 party and book launch for In the Season of Blood and Gold, a compelling short story collection by Taylor Brown of Wilmington. These twelve skillfully crafted stories teeter between tenderness and horror. May 7 (Wednesday, 7 p.m.) The Regulator Bookshop, Durham: Francine Prose, lecturer and author of twenty-six books, including Blue Angel, a National Book Award finalist, will read from her new novel, Lovers at the Chameleon Club: Paris 1932. May 10 (all day Saturday) Netwest Writers Conference at the Jackson County Library in Sylva. Presenters include Judy Kurtz Goldman, Susan Snowden and Gary Carden. Former N.C. Poet Laureate Kathryn Stripling Byer will conduct workshops along with Nancy Simpson. Register at May 17 (Saturday, 11:30 a.m.) The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines. Joe Miller, popular N.C. author and outdoorsman, discusses Adventure Carolinas: Your Go-To Guide for Multi-Sport Outdoor Recreation. www. June 1 (Sunday, 2 p.m.). Barnes & Noble, Greensboro: Walt Wolfram and Jeffrey Reaser discuss Talkin’ Tar Heel: How Our Voices Tell the Story of North Carolina, in which two Chapel Hill professors explore just about every dialect and language in the state. Take your buddyrow along for this side-splittin’ presentation.

Short stories are designed to deliver their impact in as few pages as possible. A tremendous amount is left out, and a good story writer learns to include only the most essential information. — Orson Scott Card

Anthologies packed with short stories from multiple writers can be delightful. Most of the tales in The Shoe Burnin’: Stories of Southern Soul, an anthology plus CD by twenty-one prose and song writers, will likely make you laugh more than cry. The inspiration sprouted from Joe Formichella’s memory of a gathering of writers who stood shivering in the cold. When their host gave them a box of old shoes and boots to burn, both the fire and their imaginations lit up, confirming that “Any pair of shoes has a story to tell.” The first story, Boots, by Ed Southern of Winston-Salem, probes the odd things The Art & Soul of Greensboro

that matter when faced with destruction. Jim Wilson, graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill, evokes pathos in a tale explaining why a father shoots a bird dog. In Shari Smith’s lyrical Flight, words and wings capture the spirit of a woman searching for what she needs.

Know something, Sugar? Stories only happen to people who can tell them. — Allan Garganus Donald Davis, popular N.C. storyteller and author, recalls, “In stories, I could safely dream any dream, hope any hope, go anywhere I pleased, fight any foe, win or lose, live or die.” Besides entertaining at festivals, his published books include stories, a novel, a memoir and educational books on storytelling. May 18–24, he will be at the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown ( and on June 6–8, he entertains and reveals storytelling secrets at the OcraFolk Storytelling and Music Festival in Ocracoke ( Book titles matter. Ole Giese of Greensboro reissued his book, Long Stories, with a racier title, Poetry and Underwear and Other Stories. “Long Stories wasn’t a good title,” he said. The new title, in fact, better describes the stories, which are engaging, humorous and often feature a twist worthy of O.Henry.

On Mothers’ Day I have written a poem for you. In the interest of poetic economy and truth, I have succeeded in concentrating my deepest feelings and beliefs into two perfectly crafted lines: You’re my mother. I would have no other. — Forest Houtenschil Don’t forget your Mom on May 11. At your local bookstore, you’ll find the perfect gift waiting on a shelf. Need recommendations? Any books listed in The Writer’s Notebook would be swell, including The Nest by Mary Flinn of Summerfield. This clever novel describes how, despite woeful times, a strong mother gets her family back on track. OH Bookstores and organizations, if you have a major event, let us know. Writers, if you have published a book in 2014, we want to hear about it. Greensboro writer Sandra Redding’s novel, Naomi Wise: A Cautionary Tale, is a riveting story about heartbreak and hope in the 18th century Quaker community of Deep River. Email her at May 2014

O.Henry 25

226 S. ELM STREET GREENSBORO, NC 336 333 2993

26 O.Henry

May 2014

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

M y

L i f e

i n


T h o u s a n d

W o r d s

Best Reader Memoirs 2014

Tale of the Toilette Life in a house of teenage hormones

By Christine C. Garton

In the early 1970s our family

Illustration by Laurel Holden

moved into a gracious white brick house on Rockford Road in Greensboro. My two younger sisters and I held teenage dominion over the second floor, a four-bedroom haven complete with a hall closet we converted into our telephone booth, decoupaged with carefully curated photos from Seventeen magazine. Girly scents of Love’s Fresh Lemon and Baby Soft colognes wafted through the long hallway, where the atmosphere was punctuated by estrogen-fueled mood swings of female adolescence.

We danced in our undies, Three Dog Night blaring from the stereo, while Mother stood at the bottom of the stairs and yelled, “Don’t make me come up there!” The intensely feminine ambience of the second floor was an enigma to our father, whom I do not recall ever setting foot in his daughters’ sacred space, though he once allowed as to how he wished he had invested in Kotex stock. As the eldest and Queen of the Upstairs, I had enviable digs. Fashionably decorated in a riot of orange and avocado green, my bedroom connected to a private dressing room and bath. I held court with my sisters in the dressing room to remind them of our pecking order. Not only were they denied the luxury of enjoying a boudoir, they were also forced to share the hall bath. The sisters had always engaged in rivalry and bickering, being only a year apart in age. But the shared bath elevated their competition to a pay-per-view level of intensity. I served as referee. There were regular battles over who used up the hot water, who did not wipe out the tub, who dawdled too long with the door locked on school mornings. Counter space was fiercely contested and punches nearly thrown over a set of hot curlers. The most insidious bathroom power-grab was perpetrated by Lucy, the younger of the two, who stealthily took ownership of the drawer space, much to Sister Cathy’s consternation. Lucy possessed an astonishing collection of makeup and related utensils, which she jealously guarded like a gold-hoarding troll. Four shades of mascara meticulously aligned with colorful rows of every eye shadow sold at Brown-Gardiner Drug Store. Pots of lip gloss were arranged in ombré fashion from dark to light. Her impressive array of eyeliners and blushes and brushes occupied an entire drawer. Lucy’s stash rivaled the cosmetics counter at Thalhimers, and absolutely no one was allowed to touch, disturb or even gaze upon her treasure trove. Cathy retaliated with glee by surreptitiously “borrowing” this and that, deriving satisfaction from our sister’s indignant squawks. The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Christmas season escalated the hall bath battles to full-out war. Parties and dances required intensive primping. The prospect of having our photos taken necessitated a double-down effort of hairstyling and makeup application. Bathroom time was such a hot-button issue with the sisters that I implemented a triage system of access to prevent them from coming to blows. Then a second-floor interloper arrived to further complicate their elaborate toilettes: our grandmother. Mama Chris came to visit for several days over the holidays, ensconced upstairs with us girls. And she shared the hall bath. Our grandmother was a career hypochondriac, prone to checking herself into Baptist Hospital whenever she thought she was not getting enough attention from the family. She professed to be afflicted with a variety of dyspeptic maladies, lugging a large valise stuffed with mysterious potions and purgatives. For the duration of her stay, the bathroom was transformed into a pharmaceutical lab filled with odd metallic odors, glassware coated with chalky substances and oily spoons. Mama Chris spent hours behind the locked door, loudly hacking and gargling. We stood outside looking at one another with alarm, not knowing whether to call an ambulance or hide under our beds. One late afternoon, worn out from upstairs holiday drama, I retreated to the quiet dressing room to survey my piles of Christmas gifts. Cathy padded in and sat down on the shag carpet. Her eyes fixed upon a candle shaped like a large chocolate-covered cherry. “Let’s light it. Maybe it smells like candy,” I said, touching a match to the wick. The small blaze fluttered and melted the brown paraffin, sending dribbles down the sides of the candle. Fascinated by the light and rivulets of wax, we began picking at pieces to remelt in the pool around the flame. Cathy slowly lowered a finger into the warm, tawny liquid and held it up for me to see. “Looks just like ear wax,” she said. We stared at one another silently as comprehension of a delicious opportunity dawned. Cathy darted out and quickly returned with Lucy’s box of Q-tips. Stifling snorts and giggles, we dipped both ends of each swab into the melted candle, blew them dry, and carefully replaced them in the blue and white box. Cathy returned it to the drawer in the hall bath, and we waited. Before long, we heard our sister arrive to take a routine inventory of her toiletries. Cathy and I froze in anticipation. All at once, Lucy flew bug-eyed through the doorway with nostrils flared as though detecting a terrible stench. She took a deep breath, mouth corners pulled down, and gagged out a high-pitched yelp, “Mama Chris did something to my Q-tips!” Cathy gaped at her, then turned to me, lips forming “Mama Chris?” Suddenly the hilarity of Lucy’s horrified assumption hit. Cathy fell onto her back, legs flailing, as she screeched and howled. Hugging my sides, I bent over double and roared. Eyes wet from tears and gasping for air, we could not stop. Our shrieks of laughter exploded throughout the second floor, swelling the long hallway, and tumbled down the stairs. OH Christine Garton is a closet writer and humorist who resides in Greensboro. Since early childhood she has yearned to be a fairy, which will be the subject of her next memoir. May 2014

O.Henry 27

Lunch with a Friend

Howard, Unplugged

Kraut dogs and chocolate milkshakes at Brown—Gardiner drug store

By Maria Johnson

To eat lunch

Photographs by Hannah Sharpe

with Congressman Howard Coble is not to eat.

Not much, anyway. Not without interruption. But such is the lot of anyone who dines with a public official, especially one who has been in the business for twenty-nine years and has cultivated a loyal following of voters — not all Republicans — who view him as a kindly uncle. And why not? Just try to keep the man out of a convertible at a Christmas parade. He’s a regular at civic club luncheons, veterans’ gatherings, retirement receptions and the like. And even those who disagree with his politics will concede that the man is more respectful than rabid in his oratory and his approach to people. “I’m blessed with a lot of good friends on both sides of the aisle,” Coble says of his life in the nation’s capital. “I’ve always been partisan, but not fiercely partisan. I think that’s the difference.” Back home, he wades into crowds every chance he gets. Accessibility is his mantra, and it’s evident at the lunch counter of Brown-Gardiner Drug Store on North Elm Street. It’s right across the street from his office, so it has convenience going for it. He also likes the atmosphere. Folksy. Hey, there. Yessir, how are you, sir? That’s Brown-Gardiner. And that’s Coble, who is 83 and in his fifteenth term, his last. He will not run for re-election, partly because of a newly drawn district that’s full of voters who don’t know him, and partly because of back problems that make walking — and therefore campaigning — painful. “It’s almost a disability,” he says. His lame duck status couldn’t mean less at Brown-Gardiner at lunchtime. We’re inside the door for less than five seconds when it starts. Samantha “Sam” Solis, a waitress, is the first one to spy him. How can she miss him? He’s wearing a red wool blazer and a brownish plaid hat that’s just to the funky side of Bear Bryant. At the congressman’s elbow, on the other end of the sartorial spectrum, is his longtime chief of staff, Ed McDonald, suited up and ready for The Hill. “Hey, Howard!” Sam calls. She walks over to Coble and hugs him. “Oh, you

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

look so good!” McDonald claims a white bistro table, an island in the flow of noontime traffic, which runs the gamut — frosty-haired retirees, workmen in blue uniforms and students downing a burger on their lunch break from nearby Page High School. A man stops at our table. “Hi, Mr. Coble. You’re looking mighty sharp in that red coat,” he says. “The Boy Scouts gave to it to me,” Coble says. “Good to see you.” “Thank you, sir!” The man walks away. Coble tells me about his jacket. He wears a lapel pin from the Coast Guard — in which he served during the Korean War — and one signifying that he won the Adam Smith Award from the National Right to Work Committee. The coat’s pocket bears a Boy Scout patch. Coble was a Scout as a kid. As an adult, he has participated in more than 200 Eagle Scout award ceremonies. He never made it to Eagle himself. He was distracted. “The fumes got to me,” he says. “The perfumes, and the gas fumes.” Girls and cars, he means. Sam, who made Coble a pan of fudge for Christmas, brings a tall Styrofoam cup to the table. It contains a chocolate milkshake, Coble’s usual. “Our milkshake machine is messed up, so I did it by hand,” Sam says. “It’s a little bit chunky.” “Thank you,” Coble says, smiling. “You want your kraut dog?” she says. “Right,” he says, still smiling. “Thank you.” Coble always thanks people, and he always orders the same thing at BrownGardiner. He got hooked on kraut when he attended Appalachian State University for a year before transferring to Guilford College. Mountainous Watauga County produces a lot of cabbage, the main ingredient in sauerkraut. “It’s a tasty dish and healthful,” he says. And the chocolate milkshake? Oh, he orders that because it tastes good. “I always order a small, but Sam always brings me a large,” he says. McDonald and I order tuna-salad sandwiches. McDonald tacks on sweet potato fries. “Where in the HELL did you get that hat?”
It’s one of Coble’s friends. He’s just back from a scuba diving trip. They chat for a minute. “Howard, I’m gonna run,” the man says. “But if I were you, I wouldn’t May 2014

O.Henry 29


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wear that hat.” He laughs all the way out the door. Sam brings the kraut dog and tuna sandwiches. I tell Coble about a chance encounter with his father, “Uncle Joe” Coble, many years ago, when I had car trouble in the southeast part of the county, where Coble grew up. I walked to the nearest house, following my rule to stop only at houses where someone cultivated flowers. That meant someone in the house cared. The elderly man who answered the door was very kind and invited me in to use the phone. Then I spied the photos of a familiar-looking man in a Coast Guard uniform, and “Uncle Joe” started talking about his Congressional son. He was so proud. “Thank you for telling me that story,” Coble says. He asks if I ever ate at Fran’s Front Porch in Liberty, N.C. His father was the greeter after he retired from managing the Belk store in Greensboro. The restaurant was run by Howard’s aunt, Frances Causey Holt. “Best country cooking in the county,” Coble declares. No argument here. Between bites of his kraut dog, Coble, who finished a history degree at Guilford College and a law degree at UNC-Chapel Hill, reflects on a Congressional career that commenced when he was 53, after years of toggling between law and politics. He passed through local government, where he was an assistant county attorney; through the state House, where he was a representative for a little less than a year, until President Nixon named him an assistant U.S. district attorney in Greensboro in 1969; and through the state Department of Revenue, where he was appointed secretary by

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Gov. Jim Holshouser. When Holhouser’s administration ended, Coble nabbed a state House seat again. He kept the job until he rode Ronald Reagan’s coattails to a narrow victory over Robin Britt in the 6th Congressional District race in 1984. Coble ran for the state and national offices, he says, because the Republicans were clearly a minority. “We got crumbs off the table,” he says. “I felt, ‘This is no way to do business.’” Coble squeaked through an even closer contest for his second congressional term, beating Britt by only seventy-nine votes, or 50.03 percent of ballots cast. Ever since then, Coble has coasted to victory. He’s the state’s longest-serving Republican congressional representative by several years. That doesn’t mean he’s universally loved. Coble recalls being blessed out by a man who was upset with his vote on a defense-spending bill. “He chewed on a chicken bone, as Earl Scruggs would say,” says Coble. Later that day, a woman called to sing his praises. “Howard, everybody loves you,” she told him. “Well . . . not everybody,” Coble says, laughing at the diversity of comments a politician can receive in one day. “You have to realize that’s part of the job. You have to roll with the punches and not let it bother you.” Sam, the waitress, steps up to the table. The highlight of his public life, Coble says, has been helping his constituents. McDonald recalls the case of Brenda Gay, an IRS employee in Greensboro in the late ’80s. She had kidney failure. She ran out of medical leave. Her colleagues wanted to donate their leave to her, but federal regulations prohibited it. “We were able to get a private bill passed,” says McDonald. “That’s a bill that works


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The Art & Soul of Greensboro

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May 2014

O.Henry 31

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The Art & Soul of Greensboro

for one person. It took us several months to do that. I remember him getting very emotional about that.” Another highlight of Coble’s public life was getting to know Earl Scruggs, the bluegrass musician who popularized the three-finger style of banjo picking. Scruggs asked Coble to be the presenter when he received a Lifetime Achievement Grammy in Los Angeles in 2008. As a former chairman of the subcommittee that dealt with intellectual property, Coble was visited regularly by entertainers and Hollywood moguls. He had no idea who many of them were. “He blew off Sidney Pollack one time,” says McDonald of the famous film director. When actress Melanie Griffith contacted Coble, he didn’t recognize her name. McDonald tried to jar his boss’s memory. “Antonio Banderas’ wife . . . ?” Nothin. “Tippi Hedren was her mother . . . ?” Zip. “She was married to Don Johnson on Miami Vice . . .?” “Oh, OK,” Coble said. “I know that one.” McDonald says his boss is out of the technology loop, as well. He does not use a computer or a cell phone — his aides handle that — but it seems to matter little to his constituents. “They know they can call the office and talk to him,” says McDonald. Or go to Brown-Gardiner at lunchtime. A woman stops with two teenage girls. She thanks Coble for helping to get a soldier transferred to an Army hospital in Frankfurt, Germany. She asks if she can take a picture of Coble with her daughter and her daughter’s friend. “We were learning about you in class,” one of the girls tells Coble. “My teacher loves to talk about you as an example.” Snap. The most disappointing experience of Coble’s political career? That happened before he was elected to office, he says. It came at the end of his tenure at the state Department of Revenue, when he was not allowed to help with the transition of his successor, Mark Lynch, and he was forbidden from saying goodbye to his former employees. He was instructed not to attend Lynch’s swearing in. Coble doesn’t blame Lynch or then-incoming Gov. Jim Hunt for the snubbing. He thinks it was the work of an overzealous staffer who was trying to impress a

higher-up. But the incivility stings Coble to this day. “I still carry that with me,” he says. A woman in a blue medical uniform, who works in a cardiology office, stops at the table. “You used to see my mom and dad,” Coble says. He and the nurse banter. “You have a blessed day, Mr. Coble. See ya!” “Thank you.” He takes another bite of kraut dog and wipes mustard from his lip. What has changed since he took office? Well, Republicans have more of a voice now, he says. What about the divisiveness you hear so much about? The media make too much of that, he says. A woman comes up and introduces herself as Doris Tanger. McDonald asks if she’s related to Steven Tanger, the namesake of a performing arts center that’s under construction in downtown Greensboro. “He’s my son,” she says. The talk turns to Brown-Gardiner’s lunch counter. Added in 1960, two years after the store opened, the counter’s real specialty is its friendly service and a cast of regulars who keep its stools spinning from 7 a.m. until the service stops after lunch. The printer-paper menu is filled with simple comfort food such as pimento cheese and hand-squeezed orangeade with pellet ice. “This is our favorite place,” Tanger says. What will he do when he retires from public life? No plans, he says, but he wouldn’t be averse to teaching. We walk out under the drugstore’s blue awning and cross one lane of North Elm Street on the way back to Coble’s office. We stand on the double yellow line to wait for a break in the other lane. A Toyota SUV rolls to a stop. A man leans out the window and waves his arm. “I’d only stop for Howard Coble!” hollers the man. Coble raises his hand to the man. “Thank you!” he says. OH O.Henry’s contributing editor Maria Johnson can be reached at

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O.Henry 33


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The Art & Soul of Greensboro 4/9/14 5:48 PM

The Evolving Species

The Art of Home Styling Gift of stylist Todd Nabors

By Cynthia Adams

Todd Nabors is a High Point-based banker

Photograph by Hannah Sharpe

by day. In his free time, he’s a stylist and designer. This duality makes for someone who knows how to conserve clients’ money.

“He is great at reusing things you already have without buying more and more stuff,” says one of his fans. But Nabors’ frequent travels and his interest in history and art infuse his style with classicism and elegance — tempered by his attention to value for dollars spent. “I work with clients who have budgets ranging from less than $500 to far more,” Nabors says, “but almost every project begins with a basic assessment and rearrangement of key pieces within the room and house, overall.” So rather than going out and spending a fortune on acquiring a new look for spring, let Nabors suggest some tips on renewing and refreshing what you’ve already got in place. Nabors, 44, has been buying and reselling antiques in the Triad since the age of 20. After getting an undergraduate degree from Wake Forest, he left North Carolina to earn a graduate degree in English at the University of Florida in

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Gainesville. In the small towns of north Florida, a childhood interest in antiques drove him to buy “great old pieces at low prices.” Nabors says, “There is no better place to shop for antiques than where the wealthy choose to retire.” After graduate school, Nabors returned to North Carolina to find work. He also needed an outlet for the intriguing accessories, art, furniture — his creative haul from antiquing while in Florida. The solution was a resale space at the former Carolina Collection at the old Pomona cotton mill, which was “among the nicest venues for antiques in the area at that time,” Nabors recalls. He made his space memorable by painting the walls of his first space at the Carolina Collection a rich chocolate brown. He covered the floors with sisal and hung the walls with art on high, as was customary in the best English houses. “My nod to English style, rather than the items for sale, caught the attention of Laura Deane Gresham.” Gresham was a Greensboro Anglophile who shared Nabors’ passion for art, taste in antiques and matters of style. Through his friendship with Gresham, Nabors met future clients and his avocation grew. After the Carolina Collection closed in 2000 (after the Pomona location was torn down), Nabors moved his business to the Red Collection and, later, to the Antique Market Place on Burnt Poplar Road, off I-40. Nabors’ style of presenting old pieces captured the attention of designers. Among them was Jason Oliver Nixon, a popular blogger and New York-based interior designer, who May 2014

O.Henry 35



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The Art & Soul of Greensboro

The Evolving Species featured Nabors’ space in his blog for Delta’s Sky magazine. Nabors’ antique-buying customers often seek his help in refreshing their homes via a careful edit — like Sharon James, an avid collector living in Stoney Creek. “When I first started shopping at the Red Collection, his was the only booth that had such great neoclassical accessories.â€? She hired Nabors to specifically help reconfigure her accessories and furnishings. “There were two major things he did for me. One was in helping me rearrange furniture in my family room,â€? she says. Forget going out and buying new stuff: “He took the small hunt board from the entryway and used it in the family room and then replaced the hunt board with a chest in the entry.â€? Next, Nabor massed blue-and-white porcelains on top of the chest to highlight them and placed blueand-white Chinese lamps on a dining room sideboard. Further changes involved rearranging the artwork. But instead of heading to an antique shop, “Todd shopped my house for accessories and furniture to create some new furniture placements and accessories,â€? James says. Pleased, James asked Nabors to move outdoors and help her with landscaping, fountain and bench placement and other improvements. “I didn’t want to spend a fortune to rework the landscape,â€? she says, “so he was able to come up with some very simple changes that had a neoclassical feel.â€? Editing is always a far more affordable option than a complete redesign. Nabors points out that one move, perhaps the sofa moved away from a wall to float in the room, calls for another. Within thirty minutes, the client sees a completely new look for her space, he says. It is often a matter of perspective and artful change. Nabors offers these simple tips to refresh your home for the warm weather ahead without breaking the bank: • Take your design cues from the calendar. “Spring is a good time to edit because we tend to accumulate in the winter.â€? In the spring, your house should wear less. For spring and summer, start by subtracting a few things from surfaces and vignettes. Nabors advises ongoing edits of art and accessories, favoring fewer, better items in place of excess. • Freshen up with paint, but don’t go overboard. Nabors lives in a 1920s-era home with characteristically smaller rooms, so he favors paint choices that visually expand to make rooms appear larger. He keeps the color palette narrow and consistent through the house. He currently favors the French- inspired, gray wall color “Soft Chamoisâ€? by Benjamin Moore. And he’s never reluctant to freshen vintage furniture and accessories with a coat of paint. • “Rethink what you already own,â€? Nabors advises. He suggests a simple trick: Arrange pieces similar in color, texture or form together for a new look. In a local kitchen, he explains, “We unified a disparate group of objects by grouping them according to color.â€? This particular home, Nabors says, “offers a panoramic view of Tanger Park from a large window. The trees and grass rolling along the horizon act as the art for that room, so we added a blanc de chine (white porcelain) lamp and a few accessories from the owner’s collection, which pulled out the green, yellow and brown tones from the landscape beyond.â€? • Bring the outdoors in to infuse calm and natural beauty. Nabors gathers limbs and pots from the garden and puts them to work indoors. He suggests, “You can make any bouquet of flowers more interesting by adding a well-chosen limb. The rough texture and dark color provide a foil and structure for the delicate blooms.â€? Take a walk around your yard for some limbs, and while you’re out, bring in your favorite terra-cotta pot, he suggests. That pot (the more moss and age, the better) will make any foil-wrapped pot of forced bulbs more appealing. Plus, it’s practically free. Cynthia Adams is a contributing editor at O.Henry. Her home’s resident ghost rearranges the furniture constantly for her. The Art & Soul of Greensboro

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O.Henry 37

The Pleasures of Life

The Professor’s Closet A private cache of orderly beauty

By Cynthia Adams

Hoarders, the cautionary TV series on hoarding, bloat and creep. An anthropologist and world traveler, he keeps his acquisitive tendencies in check. But Fitzgerald’s restraint and aesthetic discipline extend to spaces most keep off limits and out of view — the closet.

If the closet is a metaphor for inner worlds, Fitzgerald’s contains nothing so much as style. His closets are smartly curated like an art exhibit. “It isn’t about living with less style,” he explains — but conscious edits. Friends are amazed at Fitzgerald’s habit of discarding clothing before flying home, refilling his suitcases with objets d’art instead. Having spent years conducting international field research in locales including the West Indies, South Pacific and Europe, he eschews clutter. Whenever Fitzgerald returns to Sunset Hills with a case of treasures, he culls rather than stuffs closets. “We would go all over the world with travels, and I lectured in thirteen countries. I’m a collector, but I collect systematically.” Fitzgerald earned degrees at UNC-Chapel Hill and Stanford. He studied at the University of Paris and in Auckland, New Zealand, as a Fulbright scholar, absorbing international influences. His first collection was key chains. “Now, I like circa 1790–1850 Canton china.”

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Upon retiring eleven years ago from UNCG’s anthropology department, he and partner Frank Saunders built a Tudor-inspired home a few blocks from their 1920s Dutch Colonial. Early on, the couple imposed a rule: Acquisitions, including clothing, meant deletions. But they allowed for generous closets in their new home. “I always wanted to have designated ‘summer versus winter’ closets. Frank [now deceased] never did. Now, with his passing, I have a spring/summer closet and a fall/winter closet. I decided to take the rods and shelving out and use the space differently,” Fitzgerald explains. As part of a master suite, he treats bedroom closets like rooms within rooms, adhering to “the same integrity and style of the home.” Even humble T-shirts look important in such a setting as his “summer” closet. Cunningly carved ivory and vermilion boxes sit atop a miniature Chinese console, a furniture maker’s sample. Tea lights twinkle in handblown glass goblets. Tins, boxes, photographs and original paintings are displayed; neckties emulate art. The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Photograph by Hannah Sharpe

You won’t catch Tom Fitzgerald on

In the “winter” closet an antique Canton tray corrals nail clippers. Fitzgerald chose an antique oval mirror with crazing; an African-style basket contains crisp linens. Brass talismans hang on the walls. Freshly painted, crisply designed, these spaces are treated to scale furnishings, mirrors, art and rugs. He adorns the walls with smaller works by his relative (and UNCG alum) Lee Hall, whom he regards as a sister. These, he says, are his “most prized possessions.” Hall reached acclaim in the 1970s New York art world and became president of the Rhode Island School of Design. Charlotte’s Bechtler Museum of Modern Art has a major collection of her work. Why not pay attention to our closets, Fitzgerald asks? Closets become potent metaphors for our lives. Fitzgerald published and taught extensively here and abroad about culture and identity. As a gay rights activist, he advocated openness, saying he has “long been out of the closet.” During his tenure at UNCG, he developed the state’s first approved course on homosexuality. “I also helped start




the first professional group for gays and lesbians.” But if you must be closeted, Fitzgerald quips, “Well, then, you might as well make it attractive.” In making his closets extensions of his master suite, he initially planned to install custom shelving for sheets, towels and other linens. But he opted for fold-out-style wooden shelving from Pier 1 in Friendly Center instead. A leather doctor’s bag contains miscellany. “I thought I’d use it in my travels, but instead, it is neat storage.” Recent purchases include two Turkish rugs in tans and browns, which Fitzgerald brought home from Furnitureland South. He found antique mirrors at Maison on Lawndale Drive, a local consignment shop. These bounce light, and, “when dressing, I have nice mirrors to use.” But an idea anyone could borrow are the color-arranged jackets, shirts and vests. In the summer closet, T-shirts are sunnily color-blocked. “I’m very sensitive to color,” Fitzgerald explains, “and I like to hang them neatly.” OH Cindy Adams lives in Greensboro in an old house. Her closets are stuffed with clothing so old it is nearly stylish again.

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May 2014

O.Henry 39

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May 2014 The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Artist at Work

Pure Window Dressing In the remarkable hands of Tricia Watkins, the old fashioned art of dressing a window is alive and well

By Cynthia Adams

Once upon a time,

people went downtown for a bite to eat and to window shop — not necessarily buying, but looking — standing in awe before stunningly dressed windows. That was way before retail therapy and recreational shopping. Way back then, the act of strolling and looking was therapy enough. And (bonus!) looking was free.

Time was, window designs were seasonal, aspirational and inspirational. Today, virtual shopping threatens brick-and-mortar storefronts in smaller cities. And as for “big box” and chain stores, many lack windows at all. Retail websites drily dissect the human shopping equation, with factoids like this: A simple skylight in a Walmart store enhances sales. You read that correctly: Put a skylight above a stack of toilet plungers, and you sell more plungers. Or fertilizer. Or diapers. No storefront window — no creative display required. Just add sunlight on aisle five and you sell a gazillion rat traps. Can the art of gorgeous window displays survive when industrially engineered, big-box shopping dominates? Are window dressers practitioners of a dying art? Not yet. In large, pedestrian-friendly cities, window displays remain shop-

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

per and tourist magnets. (The windows of Bloomingdale’s, Bergdorf’s, Saks, Lord & Taylor and Macy’s in New York City, or Harrods in London, are big draws.) Since 2010, Greensboro resident Tricia Watkins has been building windows out of practically nothing in her downtime, using chicken wire, paper and spit. (Maybe not spit, but you get the idea.) She began plying her trade by dressing windows for Adelaide Dillon, who owns Adelaide’s Vintage Home and Garden at 1938 Spring Garden Street. She believes — fervently believes — that window dressing is an art, one that shouldn’t be lost. Window dressing is not Watkins’ day job. It’s her after-hours passion. “I’d love to be able to inspire others to look within and find their inner child. I think that’s what my creativity and windows allow for me,” she says. For successful retailers like Anthropologie (where she once worked), the window remains a dynamic stage where magic can and does happen. “But, no,” Watkins insists, “I’m not an artist.” The resourceful Watkins scours Adelaide’s shop, roots through her own supply of found and collected objects, on a mission to reuse whatever she can lay her hands on, make it artful and dress a window that invites shoppers inside. Yet she’s an unlikely candidate to become an artist/cum window dresser, with degrees in psychology and public health. Watkins began stopping by the original Adelaide’s location in College Hill seeking funky, mid-century items as a graduate student, developing a friendship with Dillon, the owner. Dillon, whose father was a Greensboro doctor, left nursing to open the store. May 2014

O.Henry 41

Artist at Work




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42 O.Henry

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“I met Tricia when she was studying public health at UNCG and working in retail,” says Dillon. “She was in graduate school full time and doing windows.” Dillon related to the fact that both of them were analytical types with creative leanings. They shared admiration for handcrafting, repurposing objects and the ingenuity of online venues like Magpie Ethel’s. “I don’t know how it [doing windows] came up, but when I started my business here, Tricia was so into it, I just let her go.” The first Adelaide’s window Watkins devised “featured fake bugs and a vintage fly swatter,” she recalls, saying it was a big hit. “When she comes up with an idea, I don’t stop it,” Dillon adds. “I think that would stifle her.” What Watkins understood about window display was absorbed by direct observation and years in retail while working her way through undergraduate and graduate school. The vintage shop windows evolved into friendly collaboration between them. Dillon gave Watkins a store key so that she could work after hours; the two became trusted friends. “The object is to do the windows and spend about $10 on the supplies,” Dillon giggles. “OK, maybe not that bad. But I was just starting my business when Tricia and I started talking about working together.” Another window was inspired by old window screens found in the storeroom and oversized, incandescent light bulbs that Watkins was given by a retailer friend. The subsequent Adelaide’s location has three display windows that Watkins treats like an art installation. “It’s sort of like a triptych.” It is also a greater challenge, she admits. She recently created whimsical, kite-filled window displays with J. M. Barrie-like themes such as “FLY.” She mulls over designs for days, or weeks, and discusses ideas with Dillon. Watkins’ work inspires the owner, too. “The things she comes up with are sometimes wildly imaginative,” Dillon says. “I mean, Tricia just amazes me. And she builds a lot of what she does for our displays at home.” (Watkins’ efficiency apartment at Cannon Court downtown is tiny — see page 60) “Our customers come in and talk about our windows. People definitely talk about it.” The vintage-driven, artful windows do what retailers need: “A creative window creates buzz,” Dillon says. Adelaide’s windows are also posted on the store’s Facebook page. What started as a modest display endeavor has become a fixed part of her store’s appeal, furthering a base of in-store customers and online ones, too. Customers compare Adelaide’s to Anthropologie for its rough/luxe vibe. After-hours, Watkins creates fantastical forms out of wire and coffee filters, or wire and paper doilies, or lights and found objects. Her inspiration is — well, The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Artist at Work practically anything, she says. “I just get feelings and ideas looking at things I like.” Art feeds her emotionally, she explains. “I decided to go back to school and study public health because I was (and still am) interested in environmental health. I wanted to pursue a more ‘practical’ degree because my B.A. in psychology basically prepared me to work retail for twenty years,” she says wryly. “I would love to study art and design but know the level of talent necessary to excel in the field.” Watkins admires the work of former co-worker Addie Jones, who dresses the window for Just Be, a South Elm Street retailer. Jones was the design coordinator at Anthropologie, where they both worked. On the one hand, Watkins is the kind of person who is mature enough to find contentment (and be grateful) for her desk job by day at a trucking firm. It is, after all, helping her chip away her college debt. (“The pay is fair, and the people are nice,” she says. “I want to make some money and catch my breath.”) Watkins has also spent retail stints in management at J.Crew and Nine West since her teenage years. Retail work can be grinding, she says, but at large stores like Anthropologie, she fell in love with display making. She was “in awe of the creative way the staff created windows.” Although “management structure involves quite a few players,” there was often creative latitude for the local stores and staff. In one memorable instance, the Friendly Center Anthropologie store, under Jones’s creative direction, created a gigantic chicken-wire-and-paper ostrich as part of a nature-inspired display. The ostrich wound up being donated to a local school. “It lives on at General Greene School,” Watkins grins. What Watkins took away from good retail displays was that ingenuity rules. The windows required modest sums of money but enormous amounts of forethought and talent. In a sense, it was counter to the very idea of the retailer’s promotion of acquisition. For inspiration Watkins sometimes watches interior design TV programs. Also, she is a fan of handmade items online at Etsy. “The re-use, re-invent, re-fresh concept is what I embrace.” She’s interested in one day pursuing a job in the marketing side of a public health agency. Meantime, window dressing remains an avocation that keeps her creativity muscle strong. She has recently begun designing Schiffman’s Elm Street window. “I think my dream job would involve a combination of styling, decorating and repurposing,” she muses — a storefront with no limitations on quirkiness. OH Frequent O.Henry contributor Cynthia Adams lives, writes and window-shops in Greensboro. The Art & Soul of Greensboro

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Carolina Wren A bright cheery song from a feisty little bird

By Susan Campbell


Photograph by debra regula

chirpity, chirpity, chirp.” Or is it “teakettle, teakettle, teakettle, tea”? Or maybe it’s more like “cheeseburger, cheeseburger, cheeseburger, cheese”? Regardless of exactly how it sounds, this bright, cheery song belies a small and drab bird — the feisty Carolina wren. This diminutive critter is rufousy-brown with barred wings and tail. The thin, decurved bill is well-equipped to probe nooks and crannies for its favorite food: insects. Not only do they flit around in trees and vines looking for caterpillars, but they will clamber around on windows, doors and porch furniture for spiders and flies. Common throughout the Piedmont year-round, Carolina wrens, the state bird of South Carolina, are frequently overlooked — until spring, when their songs can be heard echoing from forests and fields to neighborhoods here in the Triad. And a rarity among songbirds, both males and females sing, providing double pleasure. In fact, sometimes they can be heard in duets, advertising their territory, vocalizing repeatedly, any time from dawn to dusk. At this time of year, Carolina wrens are a common sight as they seek a protected spot to construct their nests. They frequently prefer houses, sheds or something else manmade over vegetated habitat. Though it may seem foolhardy to us, barbecue grills, bags of potting soil, an old coat or hat may actually provide a perfectly suitable nesting spot. The female will carry in small leaves, pine needles, grasses, moss or even the feathers of other birds to create a large, bulky cup nest. She’ll finish it off with a partial roof to more effectively hide the eggs and young. Wrens don’t seem to mind people coming and going, a seemingly welcome trade-off for the protection humans provide from predators. Peek into one of their nests and more likely than

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

not the female or brooding young will just stare back at you. Sometimes nesting adults demonstrate great resiliency, or even cunning, in adapting to manmade structures. More than once, a Carolina wren female has chosen a nook on one of the trams that circle the N.C. Zoo in Asheboro as a nesting site. The nesting adults sit tight as the vehicle bumps around the property during incubation. Once the young hatch, adults who leave the nest to find food simply wait for the tram (and nest) to return to the parking area to feed their young. It should not be surprising, then, that these resourceful birds will find their way indoors during spring. If they can, they will squeeze under a door or through a cracked window in order to use the corner of a shelf in a shed or the mudroom of a house. When the fledging day arrives, the parents simply call the young from the nest and show them how to slip outside. Be prepared for the whole brood to find their way back in and crowd into the nest to roost for days, or even weeks, thereafter. Each winter I get calls about mysterious critters sleeping on high ledges of porches and carports. Described as small brown balls, these unidentified sleeping objects almost inevitably turn out to be roosting Carolina wrens. After a yawn or two, wrens tuck their heads under their wings to roost, puffing themselves up and looking decidedly unbirdlike. They may also spend the night hunkered down in a potted plant or a basket, frightening the daylights out of anyone who, next morning, comes upon them unaware. Every year around the holidays, I’ll get a call or two about an unexpected Christmas guest. Seeking the warmest spot they can find, Carolina wrens often decide to huddle up in someone’s Christmas wreath. When subsequent visitors open the front door, the wren instinctively flies toward the brightest light — inside the house, occasioning merry and sometimes frantic holiday antics as everyone shares their favorite scheme for getting the bird back outside where it belongs. So if you have never noticed these birds before, you should not have to go too far to find one — unless it finds you first! OH Susan Campbell would love to hear from you. Send wildlife sightings and photos to or call (910) 949-3207. May 2014

O.Henry 45

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Street Level

Cannon Courtship

The story of the historic Cannon Court apartments serves as a reminder of Greensboro’s urban evolution

By Jim Schlosser


Photograph by Amy freeman

Katz is way too young to have heard the mansion-dwelling millionaires howling eighty-seven years ago about the construction of the building she has come to love so dearly. Six years ago, she told her real estate agent she wanted to live in a condo, preferably old and in Fisher Park. Just one bedroom, she said, and lots of light.

The agent eventually came upon a unit in Cannon Court Condominiums, until 1985 known as Cannon Court Apartments, a thirty-unit, three-story, U-shaped complex in the 800 block of North Elm Street. With an intimate courtyard, it features a handsome brick façade graced with bay windows, stair towers and a crenellated roofline. “I had to have it,” Katz told the agent the instant she stepped through the door and saw the oak hardwood floors, crown molding, glass doorknobs, hexagonal tiles in the bathrooms, the 12-inch-thick plaster walls and other charming features, including electrical floor outlets in the dining room for plugging in her toaster, coffee pot and waffle iron. Fearful another party was about to make an offer, she offered the full asking price and became the owner. “I love Cannon Court,” says Katz, now president of the Cannon Court Homeowners’ Association. “I can’t imagine living anywhere else in Greensboro. The people in the building are amazing — I have come to consider many of them additional family members, and we have a fabulous, eclectic mix.” Cannon Court stands today as one of Greensboro’s most dignified residential buildings, trumping, with its classic design and solid construction, scores of modern, sprawling apartment condo complexes built in the last century. Its location is ideal, a block from the park for which the neighborhood is named, and only a few blocks outside downtown. Long ago, if a Cannon resident was too lazy to walk or the weather was lousy, a streetcar stopped righty out front on tracks that split North Elm. The Art & Soul of Greensboro

“The building represents a period of rapid growth in Greensboro,” Preservation Greensboro Executive Director Benjamin Briggs says. In the same decade, downtown saw its skyline take shape with the King Cotton Hotel, the Jefferson Building, the Carolina Theatre, the Central Fire Station and the neoclassical Southern Railway Passenger Depot. “It was an era when Greensboro turned from being a town into an urban city,” Briggs continues. “The Cannon is an example of urban architecture that you see in Queens, New York, and Dupont Circle, in Washington. It is rare and fleeting in North Carolina.” Cannon Court has just been approved by the Guilford County Historic Preservation Commission for Local Landmark status as a historic site. The City Council is likely to agree. The lengthy application, which requires searching newspaper articles from the period, reviewing deeds and old maps and providing architectural and historical context, was prepared mostly by architect Carl Myatt, who lives around the corner from Cannon Court on North Park Drive. He was assisted by Dana Rojak, a UNCG student. Myatt calls the building “sensitive to the site and character of the Fisher Park neighborhood.” Buildings of Cannon Court’s grace and stature are becoming extinct, he says. “That is a special building,” Myatt says. “It is a bonus for Greensboro to still have it.” And to think, when a Norfolk, Virginia, developer, C.C. Pierce, announced in 1926 he was spending $150,000 to build Cannon Court, expressions of outrage resounded from one end of the neighborhood to the other. At that time, Fisher Park, founded about 1902, was second to Irving Park as the city’s gold coast residential neighborhood. A number of wealthy Fisher Park residents complained to City Hall that the apartments would be out of character and would ruin the neighborhood. Among the loudest opponents were Charles Gold, a founder and a top executive with Jefferson Standard Life Insurance Co.; his neighbor, Wilbur Carter, who at different times headed three local life insurance companies; Rudolph Bernau, an optometrist and jeweler; and former Mayor Claude Kiser (namesake of Kiser Middle School). Even the church across the street from the Cannon site, Park Place Baptist, expressed its opposition. May 2014

O.Henry 47

Street Level

Gold, Carter and Bernau lived in nearby mansions, two of them in the very same block as the proposed Cannon Court, which was only a block from the nineteen-acre park that anchors the neighborhood. Kiser lived farther away in Fisher Park, at 108 West Fisher Avenue. The four of them stood convinced that the apartments would bring undesirables into a enclave of stately, single-family homes, many built early in the 20th century in what would be the city’s first planned subdivision. Bernau predicted if the neighborhood allowed Cannon Court, “in twenty years you’ll have nothing but apartment buildings, and in thirty years you’ll have nothing but slums.” By contrast, George Grimsley, an educator turned insurance man, a former City Council member and the future namesake of Grimsley High School, dismissed the criticism, particularly Bernau’s. Grimsley, who had moved from Fisher Park to Winston-Salem to start an insurance company, still owned land in the neighborhood and said he one day intended to build apartments, including one overlooking the park. “I can build an apartment that looks nicer than a residence,” he harrumphed. He dismissed the notion that the apartments foreshadowed slums. Grimsley said he lived in an apartment in Winston-Salem. He pointed out that Pennsylvanian Andrew Mellon, philanthropist and former ambassador to the United Kingdom and no less than secretary of the U.S. Treasury, lived in an apartment. The council voted 4-to-1 to permit the Cannon’s construction. In the majority was Greensboro Daily News publisher E.B. Jeffress, who lived in Fisher Park and was mayor. The lone dissenter was bookstore owner Norman Wills. Two council members, Julius Cone and Jefferson Standard Life President Julius Price, were absent. Price owned one of the largest mansions in Fisher Park.

own Greensboro

In deciding to grant developer Pierce a building permit, the City Council surely took into consideration that Greensboro faced a housing shortage. Apartments, which had become popular in more urban settings, seemed a logical solution, provided they were well-built and tasteful. Everyone who drives North Elm Street to and from downtown passes Cannon Court, which because of its elevation and setback from the street, seems to tower over its neighbors. Developer Pierce and Norfolk architect Philip Moser left a forty-foot frontage between Elm and the first two building, to make sure Cannon Court didn’t overwhelm North Elm. The space also permitted fresh air flow that helped cool the apartments. The Cannon’s courtyard was decorated with shrubs, flowers, trees and benches. From the beginning, Cannon Court attracted tenants from a variety of backgrounds, from schoolteachers to business executives. One of the largest units, two bedrooms and more than 1,100 square feet, was occupied by Ruth and William Boren Jr., vice president of Pomona Terra Cotta Co., one of Greensboro’s largest manufacturing companies. Other tenants through the years have included the late Worth Henderson, a prominent attorney, whose son Doug serves as Guilford District Attorney; and Gladys Duke, a successful retail shop owner at a time when women rarely owned businesses. The name Cannon Court serves as an ideal trivia contest answer. The building honors former U.S. House of Representative Speaker Joe Cannon of Illinois. “Uncle Joe,” as he was known during his many years in Washington, was born in the Guilford College community in 1826. His family moved to Illinois when he was an infant. The court’s residents are fiercely loyal to the building they realize is an integral part of Fisher Park and, for that matter, Greensboro.

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Allison Jones thought nothing could compare to the old houses and buildings in Wilmington’s historic district where she lived for four years. Then, fifteen years ago, she returned to Greensboro, where she had gone to college and now works as a graphic designer. Riding down North Elm Street through Fisher Park, she passed Cannon Court, a building she had noticed many times. She had admired its exterior as had many others, but had never been inside. She spotted a for-sale sign out front. She says that after seeing the unit, with its two bedrooms and one-and-a-half, “I said to myself I can’t let this go.” Then she saw the kitchen sink. “That was the selling point,” she says. “I could take a bath in it, it is so big.” She is, of course, talking about a farm house sink, once standard in all thirty Cannon Court units. While Jones and Laura Katz say the Cannon was love at first sight, others, such as six-year resident Chris Fletcher, an events planner, says, “You fall in love with it the longer you stay.” Current District Court Judge Linda Falls also lives in Cannon Court. For sure, Cannon Court has its drawbacks. The units tend to be somewhat smaller than modern apartments [see page 60.] They lack central air conditioning or an elevator. Parking is on street or, after hours, in a parking lot of an office building next door. Although young tenants are more common, soon-to-be-86-year-old Jan Jacobsen has lived fourteen years in the same studio unit — one room, one bath — on the first floor. “This place is almost like an island in itself,” says the retired nurse, who loves being near the park. She also likes the mind-your-own business character of her fellow Cannon Court residents coupled with the peace and seren-

Street Level

ity of the place. “I have a very secure feeling here. It suits my purpose very well.” Owners include graphic designers, business people, law students and a doctor. They tend to be urban lovers. They especially embrace the park, where dogs are welcome. Laura Katz still attracts the occasional stare when she enters the park with her imposing Great Dane. (Her other Dane was run over and killed on Elm Street recently.) Residents brag about being only a few minutes away from downtown, with its restaurants, night life, baseball stadium and shops along South Elm. “When the Performing Arts Center is built it will be in walking distance and make it more attractive for people to live here,” Katz says. And being historic doesn’t come with a big price tag. Compared to newer Greensboro condo units, Cannon Court is a bargain. Prices range from about $80,000 to $100,000, depending on a unit’s size. One owner says he got his at an opportune time for less than $70,000. A studio has gone for lower than $40,000, but studios rarely come on the market. Some investors buy units to rent out. One investor owns six rental units. The Cannon Court was one of three apartment complexes built in Fisher Park in the mid-1920s. The first, in 1925, was the Dolly Madison Apartments. Yes, “Dolly.” It is, of course, named for another well-known Guilford County native who moved away in her youth. For the spelling of Dolley’s first name, blame the stone mason who engraved it. It stands proud in the far northern end of the neighborhood. It too was also built by C.C. Pierce and designed by Philip Moser. Pierce sold the Dolly Madison a year later and built Cannon Court.

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Street Level

Another Fisher Park complex, built in 1925 by a Richmond, Virginia, developer, is the Vance, Shirley and Fairfax, three apartment buildings side by side at Magnolia Street and East Bessemer Avenue. The Dolly Madison, along with the Vance, Shirley and Fairfax, likely escaped the wrath of wealthy Fisher Parkers because they stood far enough away from the park. But their presence may have aroused fears when Cannon Court was proposed. Enough was enough, those in opposition argued. Cannon Court did seem to have set a trend. In 1939, one of the city’s foremost architects, Charles Hartmann, whose works include the Jefferson Building and Grimsley High, built the Country Club Apartments across from the gates of Irving Park. The large courtyard that’s a hallmark of the Country Club Apartments (now condominiums) may have been an idea that grew in scale from the smaller courtyard at Cannon Court. Other apartments sprang up over the years, most of them bland and out of character with the early 20th century ambience of the neighborhood. But that was before the early 1980s when the Fisher Park neighborhood became a local historic district, setting standards for present and future structures. Now, more than eight decades later, Bernau’s prediction that the neighborhood would be overrun with slum apartments hasn’t come close to being true. In the end where, controversy once reared its head, irony abounds. Charles Gold’s house has been cut up into rental units, called the Howard Apartments. Wilbur Carter’s house is now Delancey Street, a rehab house for the homeless and recovering drug and alcohol addicts. R.C. Bernau’s home has been turned into offices. Park Place Baptist Church later closed, was torn down and Craft Insurance now occupies the site. Claude Kiser’s house on Fisher Avenue has been demolished. The best may be ahead for Cannon Court. Historic Landmark status will allow the homeowners association up to a 50 percent property tax reduction for costs of repairs to the building, the courtyard and other common space, such as stairwells. The designation would add prestige. Cannon Court would become the ninety-eighth county historic property since the the program began in 1980. Approval will put Cannon alongside some high profile properties, including the Woolworth Building; the building now housing Natty Greene’s restaurant, the 110-year-old Dixie Office Building; the 1844-built Greensboro Women’s Club; Reynolda House look-alike the Alexander McAlister house in Irving Park, built in the early 1900’s; and the 76-year-old Country Club Condominiums. OH Jim Schlosser is a contributing editor of O.Henry magazine. He can be reached at The Art & Soul of Greensboro

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The Gardening Life

Maybe it’s just in the blood, for I now talk to my plants the way my grandmother did

By Jane Borden

Illustration by Meridith martens

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happened to park before a florist shop in West Hollywood and discovered I needed quarters for the meter. I bought the plant with the lowest price tag, a “Lion Mane” succulent, in order to receive change. That is not its real name (which I immediately forgot) but rather the one I bestowed on it since the plant’s purple fronds encircle its little lion face. I waited a couple of weeks to be sure I wouldn’t kill it, and then decided, OK, this is happening. I purchased eleven more varieties of small succulents, including Green Spiny, Gray Spiny, Elephant Food, Star Face and Fat Albert. They’re sentinels on my patio wall, continuing to not die. We must start small.

Gardening, I knew, I would eventually do. One comfortable backyard sneaker hit the floor when I was born, and I’ve waited for the other shoe to drop since. I grew up listening to my grandmother Lou Tucker talk to her flowers. She was a daffodil judge and ribbon winner and would wander her backyard — always a stop on the annual garden tour — telling her plants she loved them, building their esteem. She’d greet one or two enthusiastically, “Hey, Bootiful!” or “Aren’t you pretty today?” She generally offered encouragement, “The sun and rain will make you even more bootiful.” But my strongest garden memories grow in the expansive backyard of her sister, my great aunt Janie Armfield, on Country Club Drive. Due to its size, it played host to family birthday parties, play dates, tea parties and Easter The Art & Soul of Greensboro

egg hunts. She had boxwoods, big oak trees you had to duck under to pass, witch hazel, amaryllis, poet’s lauryl, peonies, dozens of camellias and roses. In spite of the hours she spent carefully manicuring the bushes and beds, she gave us all free reign of the grounds: We climbed her oaks with the Ellison children who lived next door. My father frequently relieved the fig trees of their burden. (“There was one in the back that thought it could escape me,” he remembers, “but it couldn’t.”) And friends and family were invited to cut flowers when they liked. On Easter, Janie didn’t hide the candy in eggs, but directly inside the tulip blooms flanking her back porch. Our clumsy hands emptied the cups of their treasure without delicacy, but she never bristled. Her backyard was home. And her gardener Herbert was the first to hold my sister Lou, as an infant, outside of the hospital. Janie and her husband, Britt, built the house in 1938; several generations of my family grew up roaming there. And when she died in 2000, my cousins Alice and Britt Preyer moved in. They took on the garden. Years had passed since Janie’d been able to really keep it up. “The first few winters,” Alice remembers, “we would take out dump-truck loads of branches, trimmings, poison ivy, weeds. The gardens were bordered in old handmade brick, but that was all buried under a foot of dirt, so we started digging and found the outline of the beds. It was a little treasure hunt. It was the same way with finding the bulbs: a little treasure hunt. “I wanted to keep Janie’s character here alive, the character of the garden. I couldn’t plow it over and put in a new one. Some things were still blooming but mainly there wasn’t a lot of light before we cut back, and I had to move some bulbs around, but otherwise it is exactly the same. It was all still there, still alive. And she had it so that something blooms every month of the year. In the beginning, it was fun to see what came up. I love the arum in winter. And right now, I’m looking at the camellias, thirty-five kinds.” When we talked, Alice took pains to make clear that the garden is not pristine, that she is no professional. She called it messy. Rather, I think, it isn’t fussy. Neither was Janie. And neither are we — at the wedding of Alice’s son, held last summer in Alice and Janie’s backyard, one of my cousins pointed at a beautiful, rare bloom and said to the group, with total sincerity, May 2014

O.Henry 55

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Life of Jane “Oh, that is gorgeous! What is that, chlamydia?” Then we laughed for a long time, and she turned a little red. None of us remembered the name of the flower, but it didn’t matter. Like me, Alice acquired her keep by accident, although hers was a much bigger orphan. “I had never gardened before,” she said. “I always told Britt, if we move, I can deal with the house, but somebody else has to do the garden. And then we wound up here. But if I hadn’t been thrown into this, I wouldn’t have realized how much I love it. And this is intensive gardening. You live and breathe it. It never leaves you.” I asked Alice if people knock on her door, asking to wander the yard. “Yes, a few of her friends have, especially right after we moved in. Even though most of the roses are new (only a few old ones made it), they still call them ‘Janie’s roses.’ In fact, those of hers that are actually still back there, I didn’t know the names of them, so when I put up tags, I just called them ‘Janie’s roses.’” Alice also remembers, “right after we moved in, a lady pulled into the driveway, and said she was a friend of Janie’s from the symphony, and she asked, ‘Can I cut some rosemary? I’m doing chicken tonight, and Janie had the best rosemary in the backyard.’” Then Alice mentioned something offhand, regarding the rosemary, that I’d never heard. I remember the bushes that grew together to the top of the wall, climbed over it and spilled into the motor court, so that when you pulled into her driveway, you were greeted first by a prodigious, green drape the size of a sideways double bed. Alice said there were five of them, and they must’ve been there twenty years. But during the winter after the September when Janie died, three of those bushes died too. I think about my grandmother talking to her flowers, and decide to step onto my patio to hang out with Lion Mane, Fat Albert and the others. “You’re particularly cheeky today,” I tell Star Face, its wide visage curling toward the sun with what I can only describe as insouciance. It doesn’t reply. “When you put a plant in the right place, it’s like having a child in the right place: It blooms and thrives,” Alice waxed. “We’re all so different and have to find our right spot. Gardening has taught me a lot.” Then she laughed, and added, “Please don’t make me sound like some sap.” I spin the pot around to investigate its countenance, and when I do, I spot a new growth, a tiny Star Face protruding from the base of the stalk, a little piece of treasure on the hunt. OH Greensboro native Jane Borden practices random plant taxonomy in L.A.

56 O.Henry

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The Art & Soul of Greensboro

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O.Henry 57

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May 2014 Nurture

(for my daughter, one month a mother) There is a beauty to the body wracked by birth, that blood sacrifice of the self, every mother a martyr. If time were a book, the page of the present and the page of the future might elide, your daughter able to see the smudges beneath your eyes as something other than night bruised by her cries. Segments of sleep like some bittersweet citrus. But after a month, your baby has learned the comfort of your hands, the cadence of your breath as it falls on the soft fur of her scalp. Envision every cell as something that needs to be wrapped by what we have labeled love, the body a parcel we must ship to some nebulous future. Bathe and swaddle, diaper and nurse. For now, your chore is to tend to the immediate, that your lips might learn the taste of her skin. — Lavonne J. Adams

Lavonne J. Adams, the Gilbert-Chappell Distinguished poet for Eastern North Carolina, teaches at UNCW. She is the author of Through the Glorieta Pass and two award-winning chapbooks.

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

May 2014

O.Henry 59

Life in a

Twee House Designer Tricia Watkins proves small is beautiful By Cynthia Adams Photographs by Amy freeman


ricia Watkins is a wee Southern lass living in a twee house — make that a 300-square-foot studio in Fisher Park’s 1920s-era Cannon Court Apartments [see page 47]. She lives in a main room that is her living/sleeping area and a cheerfully-appointed kitchenette with only the basics — which in Watkins’ case means more decorative objects than culinary ones. “I don’t cook,” she says. Nor drink coffee. No espresso machine, nor coffee grinder, nor bloated appliances. In the morning, she has an eye-opening cup of plain water before work. “The smaller the space, the more meaningful,” Watkins grins. “I could live in a closet.” With two vintage armchairs, bed, dinette set, art, tchotchkes and a few books, the sunny-natured Watkins is the love child of Tinker Bell and Henry David Thoreau. At age 38, she’s happiest with a flower tucked behind her ear, her hair in a carefree pixie cut and her feet shod in well-worn boots. Her youthful style easily shaves ten years off. And there is plenty of Tinker Bell inside Watkins. “I don’t want to grow up,” she confesses. If accumulating a lot of stuff qualifies one as grown up, well, then Watkins “wants none of it,” she says, twisting her mouth to the side. Watkins not only lives there full time, she occasionally builds art pieces here, in what is a retro studio for conscious and creative living. This small place suits Watkins right down to her cowboy-booted feet. She returned to Cannon Court after renting a friend’s spacious basement apartment. The shower alone was huge, Watkins says, looking abashed. The large, subterranean space rattled her. Vowing “to own nothing so large that I can’t carry it myself,” she reduced her belongings, returning to nest at Cannon Court. After a comic pause, Watkins reconsiders, and looking straight ahead to the sleeping area, she amends: “Except for my bed.” Sporting flawless blue polish on her fingernails, with delicate dandelions and swallows inked on her inner arms, Watkins decorates the skin she is in, just as she decorates walls and windows. The decorative pieces she lives with are in happy primary colors. There is a scattering of pictures and posters, and retro-inspired decorations — but not too many of anything, with more vertical available space than horizontal space.

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“The rules are,” Watkins says happily, “if you can’t eat it, wear it, or rub it on yourself, you cannot have it.” This even extends to muchloved mid-century furnishings and accessories. She chuckles at HGTVremodels, with cavernous spaces and too much stuff. As one “who wants to live very simply,” Watkins has begun helping her mother pare down too. “There were boxes of things from my childhood and Mom’s old jobs.” (Her mother was a social worker for twenty years.) “People just label boxes and move stuff. I told her, ‘You have to give me three reasons to keep it, not just because you like it.’” Watkins shares her father’s tastes, and her mother’s tolerance. “My dad gravitated to unusual things, pottery and art. We’re a lot alike.” They differ concerning materialism. “He has five blenders,” she says ruefully. Her inner Thoreau fashioned a personal manifesto “reacting against materialism.” In the past five years, Watkins stopped “buying things just to buy things.” She chose a studio apartment, rejecting the more-is-better American approach. “I liked the way I felt. I had everything that I need.” Also, there was this discovery: “Possessions keep me too grounded in one place.” She prefers, as mentioned, the caveat of everything being portable. Where the Tinker/Thoreau equation is sorely tested is an admitted weakness for vintage boots. Glancing guiltily toward a closet, Watkins confesses to owning “less than twenty pairs.” With a sunny recovery, she adds, “I recently scored a pair on Ebay for $40.” But friends like Adelaide Dillon say Watkins is living “deliberately and The Art & Soul of Greensboro

simply. She’s very much her own person.” A window dresser in her (rare) spare time, she works in accounting with a Triad trucking company by day. [See page 41.] Keeping her personal life as compact and fantastical as her window concepts, Watkins says, “If you work in retail long enough, you begin to really not want things as much.” Amazingly, Watkins sometimes even constructs whimsical pieces from simple objects like wire, lights, paper doilies — and ephemera and exotica — at Cannon Court. Her favorite was built in the kitchenette. “It was a tree made of encyclopedia pages put in a wire form,” she says. Dillon mentions that she once fashioned a chandelier from a bicycle wheel. Being around retail and business owners “has made me appreciate things that are ruined, or cracked, or repurposed.” But for now, Watkins says she is “resting the pieces of me,” having recently completed graduate school. Her resolution is to find ways to use creativity daily. “I’m aesthetically driven. I find beauty in the old and imperfect.” She happily adds, “My friend Cory says my apartment is like being in an art museum.” Watkins says when she walks in the door, “I feel like I’m being given a hug.” She talks about things being mass-marketed and how she reacts to this. “I have no desire to say, ‘I’m living the American dream, look at what I have.’” Better yet, look at what she doesn’t have. OH Frequent O.Henry contributor Cynthia Adams lives and writes in not a very twee house in Greensboro. May 2014

O.Henry 61


O.Henry’s Springtime

Hunt Gather Our simple instructions to staff: Go find one incedible thing for your home or garden. But only one


French Hens Only

My interior designer friend Lori Gray insisted my bird-loving wife, for whom I once built an aviary in Florida, stop in at Added Oomph in High Point to check out a “vogel kooi.” Owner Barbara Plott explained that what looked to me like a seven-foot-high, upside-down ice cream cone was actually a concrete and wire mesh bird cage that had once graced the garden of a French château. On closer inspection I realized it was shaped like a Christmas tree-sized pine, on the top of which a golden bird had perched, bending the tree over. My wife and Plott went on and on about how it was fabulously whimsical and oh-so-charming and European. And priced at only $987. But if you ask me, this château is for the birds. — Noah Salt


An Oriental Gem

A year ago I dropped into Guilford Garden Center to buy some maidenhair ferns and was taken, instead, by a beautiful Coral Bark Japanese Maple, a spectacular little tree with distinctive coral red bark that intensifies with cold weather and puts out delicate lime green leaves that turn red with the season. The tree seemed a bargain at $130 but the Center’s last one on hand, alas, was already spoken for. Not to worry. According to Chuck “The Fat Boy” Voight, the center’s owner, these Oriental beauties can be specially ordered for fall delivery — the ideal time to plant them anyway. Ever since seeing one of these trees dropping leaves over a backwater pool in the famed Brooklyn Botanical Garden, I’ve wanted one of my own. Come October, I will. ­— Jim Dodson Guilford Garden Center is located at the corner of Hunt Club Road and Milner Drive in Guilford College, (336) 299-1535 or

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The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Photographs by Sam Froelich, Laura Gingerich, David C. Bailey

Added Oomph, Antiques and Eccentricities, 500 North Wrenn Street, High Point, (336) 886-4410 or


Sweet Garden Music

How do I love thee, clever little wireless speakers? Let me count the ways: I love thy breadth — small enough to fit in a pocket or a garden glove, perch on a garden bench or patio table. I love thy wireless range up to thirty feet, sufficiently loud to be heard above the call of mourning doves. Offered in colors subdued as morning fog but lively enough to be found should speakers fall from said pocket into spring green grasses. I love thy seven hours of playtime before weary gardener must recharge the lithium-ion battery via USB. And I love thy cheapness—only $55. — Cynthia Adams Blvd. Interiors Marketplace, 348 North Elm Street, Greensboro, (336) 455-3593 or


A Classical Column

After I finished visiting a series of formal English gardens in the British Isles, I told my youthful self, “One day I’m going to have a garden littered with columns.” Decades later, my garden remains columnless, so I dropped by Greensboro’s Architectural Salvage to remedy the situation. “We have a column forest in the back,” the curator of ruins told me. “I tell children, ‘Walk around it, but not through it.’” My degree in classics helped me to distinguish them — Doric, Corinthian and Ionic. For $175, there were lots of 15-footers, with some really fat 5-footers for $300 and lots of capitals priced at a bargain $75 each. Granted they aren’t marble, but I don’t suggest trying to bring the real deal back from Greece in your carry-on. And isn’t there something appealingly Faulknerian about an oak column with flaking, chalky white paint, developing a green mossy patina among the azaleas. — David Bailey Architectural Salvage of Greensboro, 300 Bellemeade Street, Greensboro, (336) 389-9118 or Open only on Fridays and Saturdays or by appointment.


Catch the Wave

“Funky” and “Amish” might not be two words you’re used to seeing in the same sentence, but I can’t think of anything better to perk up the ol’ fire pit seating area than a funky Amish-made Adirondack “wave chair.” A Pennsylvania Amish craftsman makes the curvy, brightly colored chairs from high-density recycled plastic planks and stainless steel hardware. Retail cost: $319. The store has just two more “waves” in stock — one yellow, one blue — but you can always order one from a rainbow of color choices. You also can take home a peacockcolored chair — with a traditional, fan-shaped back — for $279. — Maria Johnson Amish Adirondack chairs. Amish Trading Post, 2022 Eastchester Drive, High Point, (336) 841-6810 or

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

May 2014

O.Henry 63

T Queen The

of Junk

“I can’t help it,” says interior designer Lori Gray of her obsession with junque By David C. Bailey Photographs by Hannah Sharpe 64 O.Henry

May 2014

he heels of Lori Gray’s cowboy boots clickety-clack across the hardwood floor at High Point’s Antique and Design Center during furniture market. “I am downsizing,” she declares, flinging her arms out in a sweep that encompasses her booth — a mini-museum offering just a sampling of the thousands of found and rescued vintage objects she’s collected. In one corner, spooky carnival Kewpie Dolls, Droopie Dogs, Betty Boops and Bimbos, all of chalk, peer out with soulful eyes. Over here, a photo montage of tins of Rose Bud Salve, Hollywood Theatrical Cold Cream and Dr. Legears’ Diarrhea Tablets for chickens beckon. Across the way, Gray has meticulously sanded off layers of paint that covered the original surface of a circa 1930 prophylactic machine found in the bathroom of a service station: “It’s got years of images of different crude, lewd and sexually suggestive women on it,” she says, bursting into laughter. “I love this stuff. I can’t help it.” Meet Greensboro’s collector extraordinaire, who jovially confesses, “My name is Lori Gray, and I’m a pack-rat collector, not a hoarder.” But don’t dismiss her as just another someone who can’t say no to a yard sale or junk shop. With a nineteen page feature spread in its 2007 premier issue, Signature magazine called her “one of the most brilliant designers in America.” In 2001, she had charmed the local media by re-imagining the mechanical room atop the downtown Kress Building into a penthouse apartment for John Lomax, president of Lomax Construction. In 2003 she wowed Greensboro by transforming contractor Gary Jobe’s European-style “Dream Street” showcase home with her novel “uptown-country” style — characterized by the highly inventive repurposing of items that others might call junk, often industrial cast-offs. Al Capps, managing The Art & Soul of Greensboro

partner of Pilot Financial Advisors, raves about how Gray has, over the years, astonished him with her artistic vision, redecorating his home, a beach house, a rental apartment and most recently, the upscale office and meeting space of Pilot Financial. “I surrender to her artistry, and just let her have a blank canvas and a budget.” The result? “Magical.” Gray, however, claims she has come to a crossroads. She simply has way too much stuff — two barns filled to overflowing, an attic laden with antiques, a workshop too crowded to work in, a basement stacked to the ceiling, a house groaning with artifacts. “I want to be free of the things I love,” she says. “I just started accumulating stuff. I didn’t start out to just collect, collect, collect. It just sort of happened.” Exhibit A: a prison-art portrait of Elvis made from tens of thousands of burnt matchsticks. Exhibit B: a homemade lamp fashioned from Popsicle sticks and studded with marbles. Exhibit C: a detailed and massive diorama of Bass Lake from the Moses H. Cone mansion near Boone. “Most girls come home from the beach with a T-shirt,” she says. “I come back with an airplane propeller.” But once you hear her life’s journey, you gradually realize it might make sense to warehouse a nonfunctioning manure spreader or hang onto a spring-loaded, ride-on buzzy bee from a playground. Credit her mom, Gray says, for her stick-to-it-ness and artistic sensibilities. “My mother said when we were growing up none of her children would ever own coloring books. That’s how I learned how to color outside the lines,” she says. A tomboy who never played with dolls while growing up in Oak Ridge, Gray did the cheerleader thing, but was much more interested in horses and art at Northwest High School than in boys. She went to Greensboro College — but failed to find magic. At Randolph Community College, the interior design curriculum kindled the artist in her. With an associate degree and her dad’s connections as a CPA, she landed a job in 1980 as a showroom designer at Drexel Heritage Furnishings. “It was a dream job, though I didn’t know it at the time,” she says. “I thrived and my creative juices really kicked in.” By 1984, Gray had parlayed the experience she gained working with the furniture giant into a freelance gig, traveling the country to set up showrooms for independent furniture stores. She’d order the latest fashions in furniture to fit the area’s demographic, outfit the showroom with complementary accessories like lamps, tables and rugs. And then she’d engage customers by turning the showrooms into fantasy scenes that looked as if they came straight from a movie or from the pages of Metropolitan Home. Her secret? Scrounging stuff from curio shops, thrift stores, scrap yards and the occasional really unique item from an antique dealer, such as a London pub sign or a Wurlitzer jukebox. “Part of the reason I’ve amassed this amount of stuff,” she says, knee-deep in a tangle of wagon wheels, old board games and industrial valves, “is when I’d do a showroom, I’d have a budget and I kept everything that I didn’t sell.” Seven years later, she had a lot of stuff. It was a fast-paced life, jetting out on Sunday, working long days, partying at night, shopping in L.A., New York and Atlanta for the latest fashions. Her red Porsche 911 enhanced her frosted and perfectly coiffed hair, her manicured nails and her handmade sequined Joan & David loafers. “I saw the shallowness of what was going on around me, and it was not what I wanted for the rest of my life, constantly caring about appearances,” she recalls. Fastforward through two marriages (one to a preacher), several moves, three kids and you’re ready to meet Tim Tyler. “She came over to borrow a leaf blower,” says Tyler, a shy and retiring metal worker with features as craggy as his home state, West Virginia. “When she saw that welding machine, she fell in love with me and we’ve been together ever since.” Gray tartly retorts that it was really her two-tone, white-and-red ’61 Ford The Art & Soul of Greensboro

unibody F-250 truck with its granny gear that sealed the relationship. Says Tyler, “I love that truck.” It’s a dreary day in March, and Gray is conducting a tour of Tyler’s mini-barn workshop that she’s painted raspberry-jam purple. Electric-cable spools cut in half compete for space with industrial gears painted in bright Playskool colors. Here’s the cover for a water meter. There’s an aluminum fan blade. The manure spreader will become, you guessed it, a conference table. The bee from the park? Why, a “bee-stro” table, of course, where you can get, yes, a buzz. A pre-Jiffy Lube wheeled oil-change reservoir becomes a mobile minibar. A Cadillac axle morphs, via Caddy Shack, into a table for Caddy Snacks. “Lori has a way of transforming the ordinary into something exceptional,” says Barbara Plott, owner of the Added Oomph Accessory Showroom in High Point. “Her mind works overtime. She has the creative powers. Tim has the execution.” To do this, insists Gray, “I need an enormous inventory of castaways, artifacts, antiques, diamonds in the rough.” When did junque get so hot? Long before Lori Gray came along, as a matter of fact. Circa 1913 isn’t a bad starting point. That’s when Marcel Duchamps mounted an ordinary bicycle wheel atop a stool and called it art as a statement against bourgeois values and overrestrictive aesthetic standards. The nihilistic movement that evolved was labeled Dada, with Man Ray mounting an eye on a swinging pendulum and calling it Object to be Destroyed, which it was by anti-Dada rioters in 1957. At any rate, junkyards and curio shops have never been the same, with venues like Darryl’s emerging as a sideshow. Gray takes all this one step further by plumbing her customers’ inner memories and transforming them into one-of-a-kind montages — a French puppet theater scrounged from a gypsy’s trunk, a ship’s wheel turned into a table for Pilot Financial, or the door of an industrial boiler fronting a bar where boilermakers are mixed. “I have the ability to get inside their heads and anticipate what they don’t know that they want, to anticipate what they can’t express,” she says. Pretty soon, they realize, yes, what they always wanted was half a water heater turned into a pool-table light. Besides, she says, “objects taken out of context become larger than life.” She’s much sought after for beach houses, new construction in mostly gated communities and corporate rebrandings like Pilot Financial. But, says Gray, “Sometimes, a tight budget from the least-moneyed client presents my most challenge and rewarding work.” Still, Gray is not getting exactly rich off her work, living in a simple ranch house in rural Oak Ridge, where she’s trying to not buy another damn thing. “My girlfriend says ‘STOP. You’ve got to STOP,’” Gray says. “She stopped just the other day,” says Tyler — to pick up a 55-gallon heavy-duty cleaner barrel. “She’s having a hard time. It’s like she has a spiritual connection with this stuff.” But a former husband who wants to sell the barn she uses for storage recently laid down the law: Move it or lose it. “I am having to go to that barn and say good-bye to junk that I love, that I’d rather have than a diamond ring or a Rolls-Royce or anything else.” Junk, to Gray, is precious. It’s imbued with a meaningful history and packed with untapped possibilities. Rescuing objects from the past, transforming them by combining her customers’ memories and her own imagination into personal, one-of-a-kind pieces is something Gray says she’ll never grow tired of. “One of the most rewarding things for me, when it’s all said and done,” she says, “is to see my clients happy and smiling.” OH David Claude Bailey, O.Henry’s senior editor, is sometimes mistaken for an artifact himself. May 2014

O.Henry 65


The Little School That Could Well loved Irving Park Elementary celebrates 90 years of life this month, a place where learning and good memories still go hand in hand

On May 4,

By Jane Borden

Irving Park Elementary will celebrate ninety years of public education. Hosting an open-invitation birthday party on its Sunset Drive campus, current and former students will lead tours for nostalgic alumni and curious new parents. At a time when many public schools are experiencing either attack or attrition, IPE stands out as one institution that’s doing things right. And it’s accustomed to changing with the times. The little school that could opened as McIver, a country school, in 1923 and adopted its current name in 1926 upon entering the city school system. In 1971, answering the call to desegregate, IPE combined with two other city schools, which then divided up by grade levels (IPE took fifth and sixth grades). Eight years later, the school system reshuffled resources again, closing some schools and turning the one on Sunset Drive into a K–6 program.

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Most recently, this past fall, in an effort to compete with magnet and charter schools, IPE (now K–5) achieved designation as a STEAM school, thanks to innovations in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math. The constant throughout all of this change has been IPE’s lasting effect on its pupils, including this reporter. So, to celebrate, I asked alumni, teachers and staff to share their recollections of the classroom and playground, and, in particular, of the former and elaborate May Day dances, which will be reinstituted at the fete on May 4 at 2 p.m. When the music started, we would weave in and out, until the streamers were “plaited” against the poles. Mothers would get together to sew the costumes. A lot of dads would leave work to attend. — Melinda (Wyrick) Ogburn, Greensboro, 1952-1958 The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Miss Gill was probably one of my best teachers of all time. We wrote a thirty-page term paper for her. I also remember her saying, “Kate McNairy, if you look back at that clock one more time, I’m going to put it in your lap.” I guess I wanted to get out of class. But, boy, I did not look at that clock again. — Kate (McNairy) Pierce Ms. McAllister was always willing to take time to make sure each student understood before moving on. And at the end of each week, if you’d had good conduct, you got to pick a prize out of a treasure chest. It came with a little sense of accomplishment. — Andrew C. Clifford, Greensboro, 1983–1988

1979 Let’s see, I was the May Day king. And Benji Cone was the assistant king — or at least he had a paper crown also. — Carroll Inman, Greensboro, 1948–1953

My teacher is Miss Poplin. I like her because she got the Teacher of the Year, and she’s really nice, and that’s all. She read “The Mitten.” It’s about a mitten that a boy really wanted and his grandma makes it and he lost one and it stretched because lots of animals and even a bear sit in the white mitten and he lost it and then when the bear went ahchoo, they all flew out and flew up into the sky and then the boy caught it and then his grandma kept it safe and he got both of his two mittens. — Molly Ruth Redding, Greensboro, current kindergartener Mr. Moore was a very important part of my experience. A lot of what we did was science-based and certainly stimulated my desire to learn. I remember making hot-air balloons out of dry cleaning bags and chasing them all over the city to see where they landed. — Bo Tyler, Nashville, Tennessee, 1982–1987

Each second-grade class did a dance for the court. I can remember the songs . . . “white clouds go by and a rain . . .” They covered this table in fabric and the court sat on top of that, and Rebecca Brantley fell off. — Kate (McNairy) Pierce, Greensboro, 1979-1985 That’s right. I fell off. In my cotton-candy-colored dress that Miss Cooley had made. You know how your teachers always told you when you would lean back in your chair, “Keep all four legs on the ground!” I leaned back and flipped all the way over. Miss Cooley drew names out of a fishbowl, and everyone in the entire second grade had some way to participate. Miss Cooley was a fantastic teacher. — Rebecca (Brantley) Hancock, Raleigh, 1980–1985 I remember being embraced my first day of school with a big hug by my teacher, and that set the tone for feeling like that teacher was really going to look after me. All the teachers made me feel like this. — Mary Norris (Preyer) Oglesby, Chapel Hill, 1954–1961 One of my favorites was Montie Griffin in first grade. When Irving Park had its sixty-fifth celebration in 1989, I went to see her. She lived near Grimsley High School. As soon as she opened her front door, I could smell her perfume — violets — and I started crying. She’s with me still. — Melinda (Wyrick) Ogburn I am still amazed that my second-grade teacher, Ms. Showalter, was also my mom’s teacher! That was double motivation for me to do well in school. — Jane Preyer, Chapel Hill, 1960–1966 Mrs. MacDonald loved me like her own daughter. I was at her nursing home when she passed away in 2010. One year at May Day, I had no stockings underneath my leotard because my mom did not have the money to buy them. When I got dressed, Mrs. MacDonald could see I was embarrassed. She put me in her car, drove me to the store, bought me the cutest shiny pink stockings and had me back in time to run around the pole! How can you forget someone like that? — Lori Tay, New York City, 1981–1985

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

1954 Mr. Moore would let me read underneath his desk so that I could calm down and concentrate. If I was having a really hard time and couldn’t pay attention, I could get up, and go in the alcove under his desk and read. One time, we were supposed to bring in something that didn’t conduct electricity, and my dad had been hunting that weekend, so I brought in birds’ feet. Because they don’t conduct electricity, right? But everybody was like, “Gross!” He still jokes with me about that. — Stephanie Spiller, educator, Greensboro, 1983–1986 I once “buried” dinosaur bones all over campus and had my students use a map to find them. Then they had to figure out how to put them together. But my most memorable lesson was probably when I took classes onto the roof to toss off “egg astronaut” containers to see if the occupants would survive. One of my favorite memories is from after I read Fat Men From Space to my third-graders. Reeves Davis, Bo Tyler, and Chip King came to school dressed as the characters: three little fat men. Cracked me up. I still have the photo. — Mark Moore, Greensboro, IPE third-grade teacher, 1983–1988 May 2014

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After going on to Aycock Junior High and Page High School, I kept coming back to Irving Park, because there was always a basketball game on the concrete court outside. It was a short walk from our house down to get an education on the court from some of the city’s best players. — Jack Betts, Meadows of Dan, Virginia, 1952–1958 The last scene in the movie Stand By Me has Richard Dreyfuss typing words on his word processor to the effect that he never had friends like he did when he was 12. That was Irving Park School for me. — Winburne King We have a garden now. The second-graders just planted potatoes and when there’s a week of school left, we’ll pull them all up, count them, send a few home with each person and then we’re going to plant sweet potatoes for the summer. — Boone Redding, Greensboro, current second-grader

1954 Principal Alex Purcell chaperoned an overnight trip to Betsy Jeff Penn with our AG class, and I remember talking to him at length. He took a real interest in me as a person. He is one of the nicest school administrators and people I have ever known, and I can still hear his voice coming through the loudspeaker as it did every morning: “Good morning teachers, classroom assistants, boys and girls . . .” — Andrew C. Clifford

I always loved [the carnival / PTA fundraiser] Fun Day, whether it was trying to dunk teachers and principals in the dunk tank or being able to have them “arrested” and thrown in “jail.” But the yearly event I really looked forward to was Field Day. Each class competed in such classics as the spoon-and-egg race, and tug-of-war. I still can see Tyrone Doggett throwing a softball to seal Ms. Pritchett’s class’ victory, and then celebrating with the champagne of Irving Park Elementary: McDonald’s orange drink. — Andrew C. Clifford


Mr. Purcell was about the coolest man I’ve ever met. I once got sent to his office for fighting with another kid and he sat us down and asked us to tell our sides of the story. The kid had tripped me a few weeks earlier: I fell and broke my finger. When I came home and told my dad what happened, he told me to let my finger heal, and then I had permission to finish what the other kid started. So I did. I must’ve gotten a lucky punch or two in before it was broken up. When I had the chance to tell my side of the story, Purcell decided I was justified in my actions and that the embarrassment of being beaten up by a little kid was punishment enough for the other guy. — Chip King, Morehead City, 1982–1987 Carolyn McNairy, the principal for thirty-seven years, sent my parents a Christmas card decades after we were long graduated. She was firm, but fair, and very kind-hearted. One time I had to stand in the hall as punishment for talking during the morning prayer. Everyone from other classes going to the water fountain could see me. I never did it again. — Melinda (Wyrick) Ogburn Richard Holderness and I, friends since kindergarten, were kicked out of class, again, for being disruptive — the technical term for smart-assing. Miss McNairy saw us and did not believe Holderness’ spontaneous lie that we were on an errand for the teacher. I was spared the paddle at school, but I got the switch and a sleepless night at home. — Winburne King, Beaufort, N.C., 1952–1958 I didn’t own a paddle. I told my children when they asked if I did, “I think it’s wrong to hit people. What do you think?” I cannot teach children to not hit if I’m going to hit them. — Dr. Nancy Routh, Pleasant Garden, IPE principal 1979-1984, Board of Education member since 2002 We had a lot of freedom on the playground after organized activities, and I remember charging up and down that hill, and in sixth grade gathering under lone pines to sing the latest hits together like “Johnny Angel.” — Mary Norris (Preyer) Oglesby

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For a couple of years I was talked into getting into the Fun Day dunk tank. I’ll never forget when the kids ignored throwing the ball and simply ran up to hit the lever that dunked me. I finally got wise to what they were doing and would jump on the fence when I saw them start running for the lever. One year I broke my finger doing that. — Mark Moore My friend Broward [Milam] Bennett and I were “chosen” to clean the chalkboard erasers. We took them to the weedy yard behind Miss McNairy’s office and threw them at this old, rusty bell lying in the grass. Of course that bell hangs in the front of the school now, and is one of its cherished artifacts. — Melinda (Wyrick) Ogburn There was a stoplight on the back wall of the cafeteria. If it was red, we all had to be quiet; yellow, we were getting too loud. And at the very front, there was an old-fashioned hand-washing fountain. It was a really ornate, half-circle tub, and you stood on the pedal to make water come out. When I went back to the school as an adult, I noticed that they had taken out the fountain, and it broke my heart. — Stephanie Spiller The Art & Soul of Greensboro

The lunchroom served vegetable soup that I could have sworn had tobacco leaves in it on occasion, but maybe that was just the aroma wafting across town from the P. Lorillard plant on hot, windless days. — Jack Betts If only I could have a bowl of that vegetable soup. Back then, its aroma always permeated the lunch line, and I was not wanting it. But now, oh how much I would love to have it. — Mary Norris (Preyer) Oglesby I remember not liking it when the cafeteria switched from Guilford Dairy milk to Coble Dairy milk. I also remember that the tops to the ice cream cups bore a picture of a movie star. — Joe Brantley, Greensboro, 1949–1955 My favorite cafeteria memory was the lunch lady who never smiled. I thought she was the meanest woman. Then one Sunday at church, lo and behold, I looked up and saw her as an usher — and she was smiling. From then on, I didn’t fear her because I knew she at least smiled on Sunday. My other cafeteria memory was when they would come to our classrooms and ask if we wanted salad and which dressing. When I got to that table and had my salad with the ranch that I had pre-ordered, I felt so empowered. — Lori Tay

In 1974, I was hired as the first elementary art teacher in the Greensboro City Schools. I “grew up” here: from a young naïve teacher to, now, the oldest person on the staff and definitely the one that has taught here the longest. The students, teachers and principals come and go, but the school never changes. It still has the same family feeling. — Kathie Williams, Greensboro, current elementary art specialist at IPE I love that public school brings together kids whose paths would never cross otherwise. You are with people who live in dramatically different neighborhoods. And I had friends who were Jewish, Christian and nonreligious. IPE was all white in the 1960s, so my black-white schoolmates did not come until junior high. — Jane Preyer


I rode my bike to school in the mornings. It was my first life lesson in independence. And I remember, if you were the media specialist for your class, or if you were chosen to help when the fire department came to do fire safety, it gave you a sense of responsibility. — Rebecca (Brantley) Hancock I’m very grateful to have learned in an environment that didn’t forget who I was — a young kid, not a statistic or a test score. The teachers made sure we learned what we needed to, not only to do well on a test and succeed in the next grade, but to be a good person and to be a productive member of society. — Andrew C. Clifford One thing I really remember is a teacher in the sixth grade asking to speak to me alone about something she had observed me doing. The fact that she would talk with me like that — a teacher I was in awe of — and speak honestly and firmly with me about the importance of honesty, is an example to me of how IPE was. — Mary Norris (Preyer) Oglesby One week, I had been out of school on Friday, attending a meeting. Monday, a sixth-grader appeared in my office and said, “Ms. Ruth, I’ve got this sore thumb.” It was in bad shape. So I said, “When did this happen?” He said, “Last week.” And I said, “Why didn’t you tell someone last week?” You know what his response was? “You weren’t here.” That’s when I realized that everything we do impacts someone’s life. — Dr. Nancy Routh After thirty-four years of teaching in Greensboro in fourteen different schools, for twenty-six different principals, my days at Irving Park were the best. — Mark Moore


There were quite a few families who pulled their children out during desegregation and put them into private schools. One family, I remember, came back to Hampton midyear and said, “This isn’t working out. Can we bring our child to Hampton, and how much tuition would we have to pay?” I said, “You may enroll your child in Hampton and you don’t have to pay tuition. This is a free public school.” — Dr. Nancy Routh I built strong relationships with people from other walks of life, who I have stayed in contact with. They’re lifelong friendships. — Kate (McNairy) Pierce The willingness of the staff and the community to make sure that this school succeeds is incredible. And it isn’t just current families; it is also families from the past who work to make sure every child feels loved, wanted, needed. It’s amazing. — Cynthia McKee, Greensboro, Current Principal How I wish I had found a way to thank those special teachers who will forever be in my mind’s eye and heart. I only remember one teacher from junior high school, so I realize elementary school was special. Thank you, Mrs. Griffin (first), Ms. Showalter (second), Ms. Wilkinson (third), scary Mrs. Patterson (fourth), Mrs. Stafford (fifth) and Mrs. Cheek (sixth). Thank you! — Jane Preyer I always assured parents that if the decision was to come to public school, I would do everything I could to make sure every child received an appropriate opportunity for learning. That’s what I believe, and what I’ve spent most of my life working toward. It’s possible. I am not surprised that Irving Park is still going. I expect it to. — Dr. Nancy Routh Jane Borden, who lives in Los Angeles, attended Irving Park Elementary from 1984 to 1988.

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Story of a House


A Woman of Substance Anne Carlson is a force of nature in Greensboro, with a well-furnished life that shaped the tastes of the Gate City By Maria Johnson • Photographs by Amy Freeman

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A portrait of Anne Carlson by artist Felix de Cossio — who also painted Betty Ford’s official portrait as First Lady — hangs in the living room of Carlson’s home. Carlson, a devotee of Georgian antiques, bought the breakfront in her living room from famed Greensboro interior designer Otto Zenke, who got many Greensboro residents interested in English antiques in the 1950s and ’60s.


ighty-seven-year-old Anne Carlson is showing me around her home, a compact stucco villa beside a fairway on Greensboro Country Club’s “farm” course. She stops in front of a portrait of herself over the fireplace. It’s a stunning piece that captures her blue-eyed resolve at midlife. My editor has seen the painting and has suggested that we use a photograph of it to illustrate this story.
“How would that work?” Carlson wants to know. “We’d probably have you standing in front of it,” I say. “No,” she says. “I’m not gonna be in it. And the other thing is, I want you to write this as if I’m dead.” “Well, good. Then I can write whatever I want,” I say. “That’s true,” she says, conceding a laugh. “But I don’t even want people to know I was involved in it. I want you to tell it like you just had heard it from someone.” “Well, we’ll see about that.” “Well, don’t quote me.” “I gotta quote you — to bring this story to life.” “OK, you can quote me . . . But it can be, like, a year ago that I said it.” “People can think whatever they want about when you said it.” “Well, I’m not standing in front of that portrait, for sure.” “OK.” “You’re not taking any pictures of me at this age.” “All right.”


Anne Carlson is a force of nature. She blew into Greensboro at the tail end of the 1940s because a dean at Woman’s College, now UNCG, asked Carlson to leave UNC Chapel Hill, where she was doing graduate work The Art & Soul of Greensboro

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Views of Carlson’s villa-style home, which sits across a fairway from where she and her late husband Carl Carlson Jr. once lived in a farmhouse.

Carlson family at the farm in 1959: L to R: Chris, Katie, Steve, Anne, Carl Jr. and Carl III

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A Pan Am photographer followed her and a pilot around London to document all of the things to see in the city. Carlson still has the blackand-white prints. There she is feeding pigeons in Trafalgar Square. Climbing the steps opposite Buckingham Palace. Queueing up to see Song of the Thin Man with William Powell and Myrna Loy. “Look at those heels!” she says, picking up a picture to inspect her uniform, which included gloves and a Peter Pan-style cap. Her parents thought the job was silly. And scary. They asked Carlson to quit. After nine months, Carlson did, but with no regrets. “It was the most educational thing I’ve ever done in my whole entire life,” she says. “I feel so connected to these places because I have been there. Like in Syria? I can see the faces of the people, and I feel so close to the situation, and I don’t know why because it’s been a million years, you know?” Carlson (then Anne Dickinson) and a Pan American World Airways pilot pose for photographs in London. Carlson was a Pan Am stewardess for nine months in 1947–48, flying across Europe, Africa and Asia. and become a dormitory counselor at WC. Carlson, a native of Richmond, Virginia, had never heard of Woman’s College — or Greensboro. But she took the job. That was 65 years ago. Before marriage, before kids, before her antique business and before she earned the reputation of being someone who moved houses. Not sold houses. Moved houses, as in paid a professional to pick them up off their foundations, load them onto trailers and schlep them to new sites. She did it several times in Greensboro, once in Wilmington. The woman knows her houses. She ought to. She’s had enough of them. She has loved them all. But more than anything else, she has loved furnishing them. Point of interest: She lunched with Salvador Dali. Yes, that Salvador Dali — not that there’s a pack of Salvador Dalis running around. The surrealist painter, he of the melting watches and the upturned mustache. It was just after the war, which to a woman of 87 means World War II. She was 20 years old at the time, living in New York and working as an interpreter for Spanish-speaking patients at Columbia-Presbyterian hospital. Salvador Dali was seeing a doctor there. Every time he came in, he asked Carlson — then Anne Dickinson — to lunch with him at the hospital cafeteria. He never talked about art. “He talked about the United States and New York, where he’d been in New York,” she says of the artist who died in 1989. “He told me a little bit about where he was born. I should have been interested . . . but I wasn’t.” She was interested in becoming a stewardess for Pan American World Airways. It had been her goal to work for Pan Am ever since she spent a summer at the University of Havana in 1946. On the way back, a Pan Am stewardess had told her that the best way to learn Spanish was to work their South American circuit. So Carlson graduated early from UNC Chapel Hill, where female students were allowed to transfer in only as juniors, and moved to New York to bide her time for a Pan Am job. She called the office at LaGuardia Field every day. Finally, they were hiring, but only in the Atlantic division. “I thought, ‘Well, I can do South America later. I’ll just go ahead and do this,’” she says. She flew all over Europe, Africa and Asia. The Art & Soul of Greensboro


We’re in the dining room. A chandelier drips crystals overhead. A silver tea service and claret jug rest on a Georgian sideboard below an eagle-topped girandole mirror. In the convex glass, you can see a plate rack stocked with china from England, by way of Tiffany in New York. You can see a portrait of Judge Egbert Reid Watson, her late husband Carl’s relative. Judge Watson lived in Charlottesville, Virginia, next door to Thomas Jefferson. “He called Thomas Jefferson a damn fool,” says Carlson. “That’s his claim to fame.” Her laugh is quick like her mind, her feet, her tongue. If you were going to do a caricature of her, you’d draw a smidgeon of a woman with a helmet of perfectly coiffed white hair, squarish glasses and a dab of red lipstick. Her mouth would be a straight line. She almost never smiles. At least not in pictures. “I feel like it’s so fake-y, you know, when they say, ‘Smile!’” she says. In person, she laughs more readily and usually at herself.


A farmer? That was the last person she wanted to go out with, but a coworker at Woman’s College, now UNCG, insisted. The farmer was a friend’s son. Carlson made excuses. One day, she found a note on her desk: “I’m tired of you putting me off about this young man. He’s going to pick you up Tuesday night and take you to dinner.” Carlson was resigned to her fate. She pictured a hayseed driving a pickup truck. That Tuesday night, she was working the desk at Bailey dormitory when a blond, athletic-looking man appeared. “Can you tell me where I can find Miss Dickinson?” “I’m Anne Dickinson.” 
“I’m Carl Carlson.” She was shocked. He wore a suit. They walked to his car, a dark green Buick convertible. He opened the door for her. “This just keeps getting better,” she thought.
He took her to the Casablanca dinner club, ordered champagne and asked her to dance. She loved to dance. So did he. They went out again. May 2014

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And again. And again. He brought her a bottle of her favorite perfume, Stradivari by Prince Matchabelli. “Isn’t that just the sweetest thing?” she asked the friend who’d set them up. Her friend laughed. “You know, his family owns the company,” she said. “That does it!” said Carlson. Her beau had not told her that his maternal grandfather was Lunsford Richardson, the inventor of Vicks VapoRub, the foundation of Vick Chemical Co., which grew to include, among so many other products, Prince Matchabelli perfumes. She still has the bottle. It’s empty now. “It’s shaped like a crown,” she says.


We’re in his home office. What was his home office. Carl Carlson Jr. died last May at age 98. Anne Carlson fogs up when she talks about him. “He was one of those people who loved life, and loved people and wanted everybody to be happy,” she said.

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His desk is carved. Heavy. Tudor. Mahogany. It came from his childhood home on Irving Park’s “Croup Hill,” a rise named for the ailment that Vicks VapoRub was supposed to help. Lunsford Richardson’s three daughters and their families — the Pricketts, the Preyers, and the Carlsons — lived there. Carl had good taste in design, she says. She always showed him swatches and paint chips. She wanted his input. But in the end, he deferred to her.
“He thought everything I did was perfect,” she says softly.


She proposed to him. But that can’t be in the story. OK, she says. It can. Here’s what happened. She’d been to New York to see a boy named Jimmy. She’d known Jimmy since they were children. They were engaged. Carl knew about it. He picked her up at the train station and asked how it went with Jimmy. “I guess we’ll get married next year,” Anne said. Carl said he’d figured they would. “I don’t know,” she said. “Maybe there’s someone else I’d rather marry.” “Like who?” he said. “Like you,” she said. The Art & Soul of Greensboro

The young woman in the portrait, painted by the late Joe King of Winston-Salem, is Carlson’s daughter Katie as a college student. The Georgian sideboard is from Scotland. The silver tea and coffee service, barley twist wooden candlesticks and china are English. The girandole mirror came out of the Smith Richardson home in Irving Park. The Art & Soul of Greensboro

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Above: Carl Carlson Jr.’s mahogany Tudor desk that came from his childhood home in Irving Park. Below: A brass mortar and pestle said to have been used by pharmacist Lunsford Richardson to concoct a salve to help his daughter Laurinda (Carl Jr.’s mother) recover from a cold. The salve later became Vicks VapoRub. Anne Carlson’s granddaughter Ashley Kaufman is working on a family history to be called “Little Blue Jar,” a reference to the packaging of Vicks VapoRub. “That’d suit me just fine,” he said. He was so excited, he ran his green Buick over the curb. They were married in June of 1949. They lived in the home place of a 500-acre dairy farm that Carl’s father, Carl Sr., a chiropractor, had bought as an investment. Carl Jr. had been groomed for business — at the exclusive prep school Choate, then at Davidson College, then at Harvard Business School, where he was a classmate of Joe and Jack Kennedy — but he knew he wasn’t cut out for the executive world. He took over the dairy farm from his uncle. Anne and Carl spent their first year of married life traveling to livestock shows and buying bulls to perpetuate their Guernsey herd. Then they started a brood of their own. Their first child, Katie, was born in 1950. Three boys followed: Carl III, Steve and Chris. An outdoorsy man, Carl Jr. turned part of the farm into a summer camp for his children and their friends. They swam in farm ponds and played volleyball, basketball, baseball and tennis. In the late 1950s, a group of lawyers leased the tennis courts, the beginnings of Carlson Farm Country Club, which later merged with Greensboro Country Club. Carl Carlson Jr. parsed the land around the club into home sites.

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A portrait of Carl Carlson Jr.’s father, Carl Sr., looks over the foyer of Anne Carlson’s home. Carl Sr. was a Greensboro chiropractor who bought the diary farm — which later became Carlson Farm — as an investment. He kept the best one for himself. In 1960, he and Anne built a 10,000-square-foot white mansion overlooking Lake Higgins, a reservoir that the city had just created by flooding bottomland purchased from the Carlsons. Anne Carlson drew the plans for their home. She decorated it with the help of Virginia Zenke, the sister-in-law of Greensboro’s star designer, Otto Zenke. The Carlsons opened their doors frequently. “We’d have 200 or 300 people for parties and weddings,” she says. “We’d have twenty-four people for dinner anytime. ’Course, we had help. Every weekend there’d be a dinner party or a weekend away. It was a different world.”


In 1974, after her last child went to prep school, Anne Carlson opened an antiques store with two friends, Millie and Holly Lucas. Inspired by the Zenkes’ success at selling English antiques, Carlson and the Lucases traveled to England twice a year and filled shipping containers with antiques, which they sold at reasonable prices. “They called us ‘The Poor Man’s Zenke,’” says Carlson, who was flattered at the comparison to the famous designers. “They are the ones who got everybody in Greensboro into beautiful English antiques. I learned everything I know about decorating from them.” For seven years, Carlson Antiques and Gifts operated out of an old log cabin on Pleasant Ridge Road. In 1981, Carlson moved the store to the Leftwich House on Church Street in The Art & Soul of Greensboro

In 1995, Anne Carlson moved the McAlister House from its site next to First Presbyterian Church to the grounds of her antique shop, also in Fisher Park.

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The “art gallery” in Carlson’s home is an arched hallway covered with the paintings of Carl Carlson Jr. Fisher Park. Once home to a Greensboro mayor, the Gothic Revival home had been divided into apartments. Anne Carlson bought the crumbling mansion, gutted it and transformed it. “It cost me a pluperfect fortune, but it was satisfying,” she told a newspaper reporter at the time. The project won preservation awards. Carlson wasn’t finished. In her mind, there were two kinds of moves: The kind in which you moved your belongings into a building and the kind in which you moved the building. She’d already transplanted three structures on the farm. She’d also moved a shotgun-style home from N.C. Highway 17 north of Wilmington to land that Carl’s family owned on the Inland Waterway, across from Figure Eight Island. “I thought, ‘Well, this is kind of fun. I like moving things,’” she says. So when First Presbyterian Church in Greensboro — where Carl’s other grandfather was one of the early ministers — offered to give a historic home to anyone who would clear the lot for a church expansion, Anne Carlson bit. In 1995, she plopped the McAlister House down next to the Leftwich House and created an antiques compound filled with china, crystal, brass, silver and her trademark Georgian furniture. A confessed neat freak, she arranged the showrooms just so. “I’d go to the beauty parlor, and I’d come back and say, ‘What happened to that piece?’ and they’d say, ‘Well, so-and-so bought it,’ and I’d go, ‘Dammit!’ They’d say, ‘Anne, that’s what we’re here for,’ and I’d say. ‘I know, but I just put it there yesterday, and it looked so good.’” She moved the antiques shop one more time, to a warehouse on Church

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Street. She closed the shop in 2008, when the dollar faltered against the pound and it was no longer profitable to sell English antiques at bargain prices. She and a friend, Carol Leslie, keep a booth in an antiques mall by Interstate 40. From time to time, they talk about opening a store again.
“Wouldn’t that be something?” says Carlson, pitching the headline. “Eighty-Seven-Year-OldWoman Launches Antique Business.”


We’re in the art gallery now. If you were a kid, you’d call it a tunnel. It’s an arched hallway covered with Carl Jr.’s art. He started painting when he was 70, and he was really good. “I said, ‘Carl, why didn’t you tell me you could do this?’” Anne Carlson remembers. “He said, ‘I tried to tell you, but you didn’t have time.’” She added art studios to all of their homes. Every year, she made a Christmas card from one of his paintings. She kicks herself for not listening to him sooner. “I should have gotten on that,” she says.


In 2003, they sold the house overlooking Lake Higgins and built the golf course home to retire in. From the terrace, Anne Carlson can look across

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

A view from the terrace of Anne Carlson’s home across the 11th fairway of Greensboro Country Club’s “farm” course. the fairway and see where their first home was. It has been torn down, but a magnolia tree that the children used to play under is still there. “Boy, has it gotten big,” she says. She and Carl had other homes. A former pony shed that she converted into a family retreat in Roaring Gap. An apartment in Palm Beach, just around the corner from Worth Avenue. A second house on the Inland Waterway, next to the shotgun house. She spent a lot of time in Wilmington. She had a second antiques store there for a while. “I have been everywhere, and I feel like the two best places in the world are Greensboro and Wilmington. Ha! How ’bout that?!” she says. A Wilmington grocery store is where she got the idea for a canned food drive in Greensboro. Back home, she and the antique girls marshaled churches, which posted volunteers in grocery stores to ask for donations to Greensboro Urban Ministry The campaign continues twice a year under the direction of Leadership Greensboro. “That makes me happy,” Carlson says. “If every business in Greensboro could do something like that, it would mean so much.”

g She spends nights at Wellspring, a retirement community. Days, she goes over to the house. Her son Chris lives there now. He just The Art & Soul of Greensboro

bought an old house, one that his mother transplanted on the farm. He plans to restore it. She points it out. She’s driving around her neighborhood now, noting where things used to be — and who lives where. She drives up to her old home overlooking Lake Higgins. A doctor lives there now. The circular drive is caked with snow. “Can I get through here?” she says. “I think I can. If I get stuck, you can get out and push.” A smile tugs at the corner of her mouth. She does not get stuck. She drives on. Sometimes, she says, she wonders why she has been so blessed — with wonderful children, wonderful homes and a wonderful husband. They shared sixty-four years of happiness. We pass the golf course clubhouse. There’s a portrait of Carl in there. He was much loved, she says, and very generous. When people asked him how much he wanted for a home lot, he’d ask what they could pay. “He had too big a heart for making any money,” she says. “He didn’t care about that.” She drives on. “I learned so much from him. All these materials things are . . . In the end, it’s just the love of your children, your family, your friends, the beauty of the world. Of course, sometimes you have to wait until you’re old to figure all that out.” OH O.Henry’s contributing editor Maria Johnson can be reached at

May 2014

O.Henry 79

The Lush Life

Under skilled hands and creative guidance, the arboretum and botanical gardens at High Point University have become a showplace — and living symbol of the institition’s vivid growth


t High Point University, learning starts, quite literally, from the ground up. What began as an effort to beautify the campus has blossomed into a full-fledged initiative to transform its grounds and vegetation into a formal arboretum and botanical gardens. An added bonus is how it has, over the years, sprouted into an outdoor classroom. The, er, seed for all this began with HPU’s first lady, wife of President Nido Qubein, Mariana Qubein. Given that the sleepy little college was posed to undergo a massive overhaul into a university when her husband took the helm in 2005 — and noticing his frequent requests of landscape director Matt Mahoney for “more flowers, more flowers” — Mariana Qubein got the idea for an arboretum. And why stop there? As an avid gardener, she saw a series of gardens as “a way to have people donate money and have naming opportunities.” Together, they would form the Mariana H. Qubein Arboretum & Botanical Gardens.

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May 2014

Meanwhile, Jon Roethling was traveling the world — to Japan, New Zealand, Australia and Europe — in his job with an independent plant breeders’ agency, PlantHaven. Roethling worked with plant breeders in evaluating plants to determine whether they were worth bringing to market. A self-proclaimed “plant geek,” Roethling grew up in Greensboro where, in high school, he worked at New Garden Nursery. After abandoning a pre-med major from UNC-Chapel Hill, he followed his bliss by transferring to N.C. State, where he got a bachelor’s degree in horticultural sciences. He worked at NCSU’s J.C. Raulston Arboretum while still a student and postgraduation, as a curator, until the PlantHaven gig came along. From the very beginning, Nido Qubein’s goal has been to create an “inspiring environment” to foster learning. Since 2005, the university has spent $70 million transforming the school into a dazzling campus, studded with stunning Georgian architecture set in a sort of academic garden of Eden. Enlisting the help of biology professors and students working alongThe Art & Soul of Greensboro

Photographs from High Point university

By Nancy Oakley

side Mahoney, who still serves as landscape director, one of the first steps was to identify and label every existing tree on campus so new ones could be added. Mariana Qubein herself dug the first garden, a grassy patch in front of the university’s library. “It was tricky,” she recalls, “because it’s very welltraveled. And I said, ‘If worse comes to worst, we’ll just re-grass it.’” But the ninety different plant varieties thrived in two years, and, as hoped, along came a donor, a trustee named Clarence Ridley, who named the garden after his wife. Today, the Eleanor Horsey Ridley Rose Garden contains 120 varieties of roses, including several kinds of hybrid tea roses and David Austin English Roses. It remains Qubein’s pride and joy and a stunning backdrop to graduation ceremonies in May. As with all else at HPU, more is more. But with the number of gardens and trees increasing, more started to become too much. The mapping system was outmoded; physically walking up to each tree, writing up its information and cataloging it was too laborious a method for all involved. “That’s when I told my husband, ‘We need a professional who knows what they’re doing,’” Qubein recalls. It just so happened that the student course work that Roethling had done at Raulston was, “in of all things, plant taxonomy and nomenclature,” he says. In other words, the science of naming of plants — “exactly what we wanted,” Qubein notes. By 2010, Roethling was back in his hometown, working as a lab tech in UNCG’s biology department, supporting its plantbased courses, when he heard that HPU was looking for someone to offer botanical advice. “I came over here without any expectations of anything coming of it,” he recalls. Now, he says, “This is my dream job.” As soon as he was installed as curator of grounds in the fall of 2010, Roethling immediately threw himself into his new playground, HPU’s 320 acres — and their myriad possibilities. NCSU’s Raulston Arboretum, by contrast, has only seven acres. Undaunted by the scale of the project, Roethling set about improving each of the gardens, which had increased to seventeen, and promptly started new ones. To prove his mettle, he established the Woodland Hillside Garden, a shaded slope opposite the back of a residence hall, where woodland ephemerals bloom in spring before assuming various textures in summer, a blast of color in fall and a splash from evergreens through winter. With 93 percent of students living on-campus, Roethling observes: “Our client base is the students. And they’re here from September to basically the end of April, maybe the beginning of May. We want the gardens to come alive.” And there are many ways in which the gardens engage the students at HPU. Roethling introduced a digital mapping system done by satellite. “He involved all the students with that,” says Qubein. “You can go on the website, click on a tree. Eventually he wants you to be able to find out where this tree is all over campus and how many we have of it.” Though currently undergoing some tweaking, the website has been a boon to the classroom. Biology and environmental science professors can use it for data research — or a substitution for fieldwork on days when the weather is bad. Some are using information about the vegetation on campus to teach the medicinal uses of plants, such as identifying ones that are harmful to livestock. (And yes, Roethling envisions a physic garden some day. “You could do echinacea, or goldenseal, even things like lungwort, which was actually thought to cure lung ailments,” he muses.) But the science students aren’t the only participants in things that are sprouting around campus. Students from the English department researched quotes that are scattered throughout the gardens. (Who but Abraham Lincoln could come up with, “We can complain because rose bushes have thorns or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses”?) The art students provided the illustrations of leaves for the tree labels and were central to the formation of the Sculpture Garden. Under the tutelage of a visiting artist, they sculpted Portal to Knowledge, an abstract piece of undulating lines that blends with the natural surroundings. There are other works, some permanent, some traveling, some gifts to the university — a Buddha in meditative pose, a giant bird’s nest meant to comment on caring for the environment, and the recently added replicas of the famed Easter Island The Art & Soul of Greensboro

May 2014

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Apart from enhancing the aesthetics of the campus, Roethling is ever conscious of raising its horticultural profile. Along the Lakeside Garden, whose function is to capture runoff, he’s planted species and hybrids of irises, some of which, Siberian iris, were a gift from the collection of the late E. Roy Epperson, an HPU chemistry professor (for whom another garden is named); the purpose is to demonstrate the variations that occur when cross-breeding the plants. Roethling also plans to enhance the selections in the Patrick and Ryan Scarborough Butterfly Garden that will make it a certified stopover for monarchs. And on the Azalea Path, winding around one building and beside the walkway of another, he has added about eighty-five different varieties, twenty-five of which are Encore azaleas, a special patented variety that blooms in spring and again in the fall. This area also contains redbuds and dogwoods, for which Roethling has big plans. Taking full advantage of those 320 acres, he has started building collections; redbuds are coming along, and he has more ambitious aspirations for HPU’s Wandering Dogwood Grove. “It’s my goal to get every dogwood that’s available in this country,” Roethling says. Tapping into a former Raulston connection, Tennessee breeder and dogwood authority Don Shadow, and a recent $15,000 grant from the Stanley Smith Foundation, HPU is building a 2,000-square-foot nursery. “Once we have that nursery space, we can start growing smaller things and grow them up bigger,” he observes, adding that a nursery would open up other opportunities: teaching students how to grow ferns from spores and nurturing items for the Tropical Garden, which, believe it or not, contains banana trees and palms hardy enough to thrive in the climate of central North Carolina. The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Photographs from High Point university

heads. So as not to distract from the sculptures, Roethling didn’t overplant the Sculpture Garden and reconfigured its pathways to prompt students to take the time to stop, look and learn. Other gardens serve similar purposes: The Culinary Herb Garden, while it supplies HPU’s eateries with fresh herbs, is also designed so the passersby can sit, pull a sprig of, say, fragrant rosemary and smell it — a bit of aromatherapy in between the hustle and bustle of classes and exams. Here, Roethling ingeniously accommodated these lovers of dry climates with a baked slate soil mix called Perma Till, which allows for drainage and prevents voles and other unwanted visitors from damaging the plants. A 9/11 Memorial Bulb Garden is stocked with appropriately named resurrection lilies that bloom in the fall alongside bands of red spider lilies, while another by the university’s chapel consists mostly of white-flowering plants, such as gardenias and a weeping cherry called bridal veil. (“We have a lot of weddings there; we want it to be a serene area,” Qubein explains.) There is a wildflower garden that, to Roethling’s delight, has attracted flocks of goldfinches; a cutting garden that goes toward the flower arrangements adorning building interiors; and the Knot Garden, which complements its placement: an angle in front of the university’s Hayworth Fine Arts Building. “It makes sense,” Qubein observes. “It’s Elizabethan. We used to have the Shakespeare festival here; all these plays.” And certainly, one is reminded of Good Queen Bess and the Bard on seeing the interlocking boxwood hedges, filled with pansies, tulips and begonias — all based on Qubein’s design taken from a portion of an arched transom window in a building opposite.

Thanks to all the hands on deck, or rather in the dirt — Qubein, Roethling, HPU students, faculty and staff (they, too have their own garden), not to mention community volunteers — there are now twenty-two gardens, each with its own map and list of plants. The newest is the Welcome Garden (a berm inspired by one Qubein had seen in Paris) that is brimming with annuals, perennials, bulbs and evergreens and serves as a backdrop to a parking area where electronic signs welcome by name visitors and prospective students. All told, there are 300 types of trees on campus, including elms that line the Kester International Promenade and 2,000 types of plants, 600 of which were added in 2012 and 2013. By Roethling’s estimate, some 100,000 bulbs, about half of them donated, have been planted in the last three years. Little wonder that for the fifth consecutive year, the Arbor Day Foundation has named High Point University a Tree Campus USA. It’s quite a distinction, given that there are only five others in the state — Alamance Community College, Duke, Southeastern Community College, UNCG and Wake Forest. To achieve the designation, a school must meet certain criteria, such as establishing an advisory committee, a tree care plan and a service learning project. Among the initiatives filling this bill was the Zeta Tau Alpha sorority’s Garden of Hope, consisting of pink hydrangeas and bulbs that were sold to help fund breast cancer education and awareness and honor those afflicted with the disease. Of course, one of a Tree Campus’ primary responsibilities is to observe Arbor Day. HPU celebrates it by holding a community-wide ceremony; professors speak about the gardens and arboretum as an extension of the classroom; students and staff plant yet more trees. The Art & Soul of Greensboro

But HPU is not content to rest on its laurels — or its elms and dogwoods. Roethling is constantly seeking more ways to integrate the plant world with academia. He hopes to get some ideas from Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, which has “deeply entrenched” student programs. “I know the director, I know the head of horticulture, so I want to go up there and sit down and just kind of crack open their heads and ask: ‘How did you do it? What are some tricks that work? What are some angles that you’ve used to get classes more engaged?’ We’ve been doing some but I’m never satisfied. There’s more you can do.” Sustainability is high on Rotheling’s list of priorities. At some point, he’d like to plant a green roof, and he is already in talks with an expert on water remediation through wetland filters, so he can set up a trial that would pump water from HPU’s lake into a bog area. As for Qubein, “I would love to do gardens that are playful,” she says — perhaps a labyrinth or a courtyard with life-size chess pieces. A pillar garden is another possibility. “The list does not end,” she says. Whether for sustainability or aesthetics, Roethling is always game: “There’s a constant opportunity to reinvigorate a landscape. I’m not a fan of empty space. So, I’m always looking at, ‘Can we fill this bed in more, so it’s really lush?’ I think those are opportunities that will always be there.” And with 320 acres to work with, the lush life will be his for a long time. OH Nancy Oakley, a regular O.Henry contributor and Greensboro native, restricts her gardening to house plants.

May 2014

O.Henry 83

M “ arch winds and April showers Bring forth May flowers” — Mother Goose By Noah Salt

Why We Love May

The simple explanation is, of course, Mom. The month of May is rewardingly free of national holidays, except for Memorial Day on May 26, that must be observed lest one feel a little less than patriotic. Instead, we simply and gratefully honor our mothers with a special day dedicated to them, an observance that began in 1908 when West Virginian Anna Jarvis held a memorial for her late mother and subsequently launched a campaign to have the day set aside for honoring mothers everywhere. By 1914 the observance was so widespread, Jarvis complained of its rampant commercialism by florists and greeting-card makers — proof, as Mother Jarvis might have reminded us, that no good deed goes unpunished. Do remember Mama on Sunday, May 11. By no means is this the extent of May’s celebrations, however. The month kicks off with traditional May Day on the 1st, based on an ancient Roman festival celebrating maternity and the rebirth of spring. Fittingly, May 1 is also Mother Goose Day, a day to appreciate the first poems many of us heard on our moms’ laps. If you still hear your mother’s voice in your head on Saturday, the 10th, don’t be so surprised. It is, after all, National Clean Up Your Room Day. Tulip Day arrives on the 13th, followed by Visit Your Relatives Day Sunday, May 18. Might we suggest you arrive with tulips? For what it’s worth, May is Be Kind To Animals Week (first week), National Bike and Asparagus Month. So eat your veggies, watch the traffic and be kind to critters everywhere. Mom is always watching.

The Bees Have It

“If bees swarm and leave their hives to establish new colonies in May, they will produce good honey that year. When they do so, you are entitled by custom to follow them over anyone’s land and claim them when they come to rest; but only as you “ting-tang” as you go, by beating on some metal utensil — the sound whereof is also said to make your bees stop.” — Tusser’s Revivius 1710

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The Real Mother Goose

The true identity of Mother Goose — personified by the archetype of a kindly countrywoman who tells rhymes and tales in verse to children — is as old and obscure, and hotly debated, as any figure in Western literary lore. Mentioned as early as poet Edmund Spenser’s Old Mother Hubbard’s Tale in the early 17th century, references and sources have abounded, including France’s Contes de Ma Mere l’Oye that included the illustrated tale of “Puss and Boots.” According to one historian of early Boston, a woman named Elizabeth who lived in Boston in the 1660s, brought her own six children to a second marriage with a man named Isaac Goose and spent her dotage reciting ditties and singing nursery rhymes to children, which a third husband who worked as a publisher on Pudding Lane, eventually wrote down and published. Most Americans probably relate to The Real Mother Goose, a collection of rhymes relating the adventures of Little Bo Peep, Peter the Pumpkin Eater, Mary Quite Contrary and company, lavishly illustrated by artist Blanche Fisher Wright, first published in 1916. According to the book’s website, the book has sold more than 3.5 million copies, making it one of the best-selling children’s books of all time. All we can say is: Well, hey diddle diddle.

Pure Delight

If you’ve had the good fortune to pay a visit to nurseryman extraordinaire Tony Avent’s amazing Juniper Level Botanic Garden and adjacent Plant Delights Nursery, May is your lucky month. Unlike most private nursery operations, Plant Delights — famous across the Northern Hemisphere for its beloved and eccentric catalog of unique and rare plant offerings — opens its doors two times in each season, this year from May 2–4 and May 9–11, 8 a.m.–5 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, 1–5 p.m. on Sundays. Avent’s botanic garden, built on ten acres claimed from a defunct tobacco farm, is simply a wonder to behold, as witty as it is inspiring, offering more than 21,000 different plants. Adjacent Plants Delight Nursery is rightly one of the most admired and innovative nurseries in the nation. If spring gets the verdure in your blood moving, get moving to this treasure of botanical wisdom and beauty right in our own backyard. Don’t miss the opportunity to subscribe to their catalog, too. The garden and nursery are located at 9241 Sauls Road in Raleigh, easily reached via U.S. Highways 1 and 70. (919) 772-4794. Even more info available at

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May 2014

O.Henry 87

May 2014

Pump Boys and Dinettes 5/


PICKIN’ AND A-GRINNIN’. Listen to the country crooners — grease monkeys and diner waitresses — from fictional Highway 57 in Pump Boys and Dinettes. Performance times vary. Pyrle Theater, Triad Stage, 232 South Elm Street, Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 272- 0160 or

May 1–4

TOODLE-OO! Before it becomes post-modern, go see American Moderns, 1910–1960: From O’Keeffe to Rockwell. Reynolda House Museum of American Art, 2250 Reynolda Road, Winston-Salem. Info: (888) 6631149 or

May 1–5

HOPPERS HERE. The Greensboro Grasshoppers are home again. NewBridge Bank Park, 408 Bellemeade Street, Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 268-2255.

are yours at Community Theatre of Greensboro’s production of 9 to 5, a musical based on the popular ’70s movie, in which three female office workers exact revenge on their sexist, egotistical boss. Community Theatre of Greensboro, Starr Theatre, 520 South Elm Street, Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 333- SHOW (7469) or

May 1–June 7

VASE DAYS. Ceramics rule at Bloom, Greenhill’s • exhibition of twelve N.C.-based ceramicists. Browse and buy at the Shop. Greenhill, 200 North Davie Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 333-7460 or greenhillnc. org.

May 1–June 22

TWO FOR ONE. See landscapes and modernistinflected portraits at Two Artists, One Space: John Beerman and Noé Katz. On May 1, Katz will sign books and talk about his work. Greenhill, 200 North Davie Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 333-7460 or

May 1

May 1–11

•WHAT A WAY TO MAKE A LIVIN’. The laughs • • • • • • Art

MOVIE MAVENS. 7 p.m. Films for, by and about women are the theme of the fifth annual Lunafest.


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May 2014

Performing arts

Hip Sips 5/



May 1–4





• • Fun



Proceeds benefit National Breast Cancer Fund and one of the festival’s sponsors, Hirsch Wellness Network. Mack and Mack, 220 South Elm Street, Greensboro. Tickets: A CLEAN ACT. 8 p.m. Part gypsy, part folk, with • a little cabaret, blues, samba, swing, classical and jazz

punk, puppetry and theater thrown in for good measure defines Maria-In-The-Shower, a four-piece band from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. High Point Theatre, 220 East Commerce Avenue, High Point. Tickets: (336) 887-3001 or

May 2—3

GAME TIME Lads and lassies sporting kilts, spor• rans, balmorals and brogues will dance, prance, sing, pipe and throw heavy objects that resemble telephone poles at The Triad Highland Games. Info: www.

May 2–16

FINE BY NINE. A variety of media — painting, pottery, sculpture and printmaking to name a few — characterize the senior thesis art exhibition, Altered, by nine

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May Arts Calendar

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student/artists. Guilford College, Bauman Galleries and McMichael Atrium, Founders Hall, 5800 West Friendly Avenue, Greensboro. Info (336) 316-2000 or library.

artists for $100 each. Cultural Arts Center, 200 North Davie Street, Suite 201, Greensboro. Info: (336) 333-7485 or

May 2–30

Talkin’ Tar Heel: How Our Voices Tell the Story of North Carolina. Scuppernong Books, 304 South Elm Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 763-1919 or scuppernongbooks. com.

SUMMER SCENES. Layers of color characterize Kim Kesterson-Trone’s paintings now on view in Summer Flight. Irving Park Art & Frame, 2105 West Cornwallis Drive, Greensboro. Info: (336) 274-6717 or

May 2–31

ELEMENTARY. 6 p.m. Wood and mixed-media take the spotlight for an exhibition of works by artists David MacInes and Karen Spencer. Elements Gallery, 526 South Elm Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 796- 8703 or

May 2

CENT-SATIONAL. 6 p.m. Back for a fourth year is “100 for 100,” a fundraiser for the Center for Visual Arts Gallery featuring — you guessed it: 100 works by 100

PAST-TIME. Learn how to preserve your family • history, photographs and documents from Gail Deaton

AUTHOR, AUTHOR. 7 p.m. Or rather, authors. • Meet Walt Wolfram and Jeffrey Reaser, the scribes of

and Jenny Kulikowski of Heritage Interwoven Services. Then head to Historic Park to watch a blacksmith at his forge. High Point Museum, 1859 Lexington Avenue, High Point. To register: (336) 883- 3637 or larry.cates@

COMIX. 1 p.m. Bam! Pow! Zowie! Join Acme • HIGH STEPPIN’. 7 p.m. Get your kicks from the Comics and Dia de los Ninos as they celebrate Latino • Van Dyke Dance Group, a division of the Dance Project culture and children for Comic Book Day, including a and brainchild of emerita professor of dance at UNCG Jan Van Dyke. Two dances will be performed to original scores by local musician Frank Vulpi. Greenhill, 200 North Davie Street, Greensboro. Info:

street party, free comic books (while they last) and artists drawing on site. Greensboro Children’s Museum, 220 North Church Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 5742898 or

May 3–July 20

TOY STORY. 11 a.m. Everyone loves a shiny new • toy — especially children afflicted with cancer. Thanks

in The Greatest Show on Earth: Circus Imagery from the Collection. Weatherspoon Art Museum, corner of Spring Garden and Tate Streets, Greensboro. Info: (336) 3345770 or

A-MUSE-ING. 5 p.m. Celebrate the power of • the written word at a party for Press 53, Winston-

STEP RIGHT UP. Images of clowns, acrobats and • animals reveal changing attitudes toward the circus

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• • Art


Performing arts

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May 2014


O.Henry 89

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UpCOmiNG EVENTS 5/3 5/11 5/16 5/25

Grove Jazz Festival NC Food Rodeo Wine & Song w/Big Something memorial Concert w/Jon Shain

2014 Grove Wine & Song Series There is something for everyone with three big festivals and more than a dozen total concerts on tap

Visit Grove website for more information

Grove’s Tasting Room Open Daily from Noon until 6pm


Wine and More!

Groceries • Soda • Cigarettes • Candy

  @ Treasures • Antiques • Consignments The Treasure House Consignment • Antiques Art • Furniture • Gifts Home Decor • Garden MORE Arriving Daily

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 | Like us on facebook

Wine Bar & Wine Shop

Come by for our 5th Saturday Store Wide Sale on Sat., May 31

18,000 sq. feet of Memories & Treasures, Visit the General Store for Goodies 106 E. Railroad Ave. Gibsonville, NC

Live Music every Thursday with Joey Barnes Located just down the road from the Greensboro Coliseum Open Tuesday thru Saturday 4:00 pm-until 901 South Chapman Street • Greensboro, NC 27403 • 336-676-5602 •

90 O.Henry

May 2014

Downtown Gibsonville behind the Red Caboose Just minutes from Greensboro

336-446-0234 Mon-Sat 10-6, Sun 1-5

Call us for furniture restoration! The Art & Soul of Greensboro

May Arts Calendar J




Jeff Allen Landscape Architecture, llc

Wiley Cash



Winston-Salem, North Carolina



Salem’s independent publisher of poetry and short stories. Scuppernong Books, 304 South Elm Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 763-1919 or scuppernongbooks. com.

May 4

AND THE BEAT GROWS ON. Noon. Jazz • bands from middle schools, high schools and local

academies fill the bill at Groovin’ in the Garden, which also includes musical instruments made from recyclable materials, an instrument “petting zoo” and tasty eats for purchase. Gateway Gardens, 2924 East Lee Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 373- 2199 or

HIP SIPS. 5 p.m. Chill with some Childress wines, • heavy h’ors d’oeuvres and jazzy tunes from the John Brown Quintet, courtesy of Community Theatre of Greensboro. Starr Theatre, 520 South Elm Street, Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 333-7469 or ctgso. org.


May 5–June 2

GET FIRED (UP)! 6:30 p.m. Chefs from your • favorite restaurants — Marisol, Undercurrent, Fincastles,

B. Christopher’s, Mad Hatter, J. Pepper’s and Perky’s Bistro — go toque-to-toque against those Winston-Salem wanna-bes in Fire in the Triad, part of Got to be N.C. Products Competition Dining Series. Sample a six-course menu in a blind tasting alongside judges to determine the local hero who will compete in the finals in Raleigh. Empire Room, 203 South Elm Street, Greensboro. Tickets:

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

• • •

Performing arts Fun History

1.888.447.5753 |

© 2014 The Terminix International Company Limited Partnership. All rights reserved. Key #40003 New 4/2014 Bruce-Terminix Company (“Terminix”) is a North Carolina corporation licensed by the Terminix International Company L.P., of Memphis, TN, as a Terminix licensee.

May 2014

O.Henry 91

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AUTHOR, AUTHOR. 7 p.m. Meet Jo Maeder, • author of Opposites Attack: A Novel With Recipes

Provençal, now in a new edition, with new recipes and excerpts from the forthcoming Naked DJ. Sign up for a raffle ticket, or two, if you don a beret. Barnes & Noble, Friendly Center, 3102 Northline Drive, Greensboro. Info: (336) 854-4200 or store-locator. barnesandnoble. com/store/2795.

GOON-DOGGLE. 7 p.m. Hidden treasure, evil • developers, fugitives on the run . . . these are just a few

of the plot devices in the 1985 comedy-adventure The Goonies, starring future Samwise Gamgee, Sean Astin. Carolina Theatre, 310 South Greene Street, Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 333-2605 or carolinatheatre. com.

May 7

DLM_OHenry_3rdS_May_14_Layout 1 4/9/14 9:00 PM Page 1

O. Henry Magazine Feature Articles: June 2013 and March 2014

EAT YOUR HEART OUT! 9 a.m. The American • Heart Association hosts the Guilford Go Red for


Jan Metcalf

May 5

Women Educational Expo and Luncheon. In addition to learning about women’s heart health from speaker Dr. Sherry Ryter-Brown, attend a break-out education session, wander through health fair and boutique area, and cast a bid at a purse auction. Joseph S. Koury Convention Center, 3121 High Point Road, Greensboro. Tickets: (804) 934-2208, (800) 950-2482, option 2 or guilfordncgoredluncheon.

Old North State Trust, LLC provides:

Susan Beard

May Arts Calendar

YOU’VE SEEN WHAT WE’VE DONE FOR OTHERS. DISCOVER WHAT WE CAN DO FOR YOU. Old House Remodel Specialists. Thoughtful design. Clear communication. Outstanding craftsmanship. Call 336.275.9457 about your project today. Design. Remodel. Transform.

GILDED GUILD. 11:30 a.m. Launching its 50th anniversary, the Greensboro Symphony Guild hosts a luncheon, featuring a new play from Jabberbox Puppet Theatre (the only one this season), Solid Gold, installation of 2014–15 Guild officers and the presentation of the Golden Note Award. Greensboro Country Club, 410 Sunset Drive, Greensboro. Tickets: (reserve by May 2).

AUTHOR, AUTHOR. 7 p.m. Meet Wiley Cash, author of This Dark Road to Mercy. Scuppernong Books, 304 South Elm Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 763-1919 or scuppernongbooks. com.

May 8, 10

WUNDERKIND. 7:30; 8 p.m. German pianist Alexander Schimpf — winner of the Beethoven Piano Competition and the Cleveland International Piano Competition — performs Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5 (“Emperor”) with the Greensboro Symphony, followed by Shostakovitch’s Symphony No. 5 in the season’s last Tanger Outlets Masterworks Series concert. War Memorial Auditorium, Greensboro Coliseum Complex, 1921 West Lee Street; Dana Auditorium, Guilford College, 5800 West Friendly Avenue, Greensoboro — respectively. Tickets: (336) 335-5456, ext. 224 or

May 8–10

BOOK BONANZA. 9 a.m. Pick up copies of classics, guilty pleasures and best sellers from among the 50,000 tomes at the St. Francis Book Sale. Now in its 56th year, the sale raises about $40,000. St. Francis Episcopal Church, 3506 Lawndale Drive, Greensboro. Info: (336) 288-4721 or info@stfrancisgreensboro. org.

• • • •• • • •

Key: Art Music/Concerts Literature/Speakers Fun

Performing arts Film History Sports

May Arts Calendar

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

May 8

SACRÉ DU PRINTEMPS. 3:30 p.m. Make your own musical instrument, march in a parade, then harvest and prepare some eats from the garden at Springtime Sprouts, a celebration of spring. Greensboro Children’s Museum 220 North Church Street, Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 574- 2898 or gcmuseum. com.

May 10

•VARIE-TEA. 10 a.m. Sample a smorgasbord of colonial teas, including Chinese tea, herbal teas and

types grown in colonial gardens. Then watch sparks fly at a blacksmithing demonstration. Historical Park, High Point Museum, 1859 Lexington Avenue, High Point. Info: (336) 885-1859 or

ART EXHIBIT. 6 – 9 p.m. Merging natural color as they exist on the palette that springs from her minds eye, fine artist, Kim Kesterson-Trone uses depth in layers of color to give “Summer Flight” to an inviting and exciting collection of original oils on canvas. The exhibit will be on display through May 30. Irving Park Art & Frame, 2105 W. Cornwallis Drive, Greensboro. Info: (336) 274-6717.

OUTLAW RE-UNION. 7 p.m. He’s on the road again! Join Willie Nelson and Family, along with Alison Krauss & Union Station featuring Jerry Douglas for some classic country, roots and soft rock at White Oak Amphitheatre. Greensboro Coliseum Complex, 1921 West Lee Street, Greensboro. Tickets: (800) 745-3000 or or

AUTHOR, AUTHOR. 7 p.m. Hear poet Kellie • Rae Williams read from her volume Real Girls

together at the Downtown Greensboro Farmers Curb Market as chefs offer tastings of their signature grit dishes while Big Bump, Logie Meachum and Friends perform to kick off Blues Week. Greensboro Farmers Curb Market, 501 Yanceyville Street, Greensboro, (336) 373-2402 or GSOFarmersMarket. org

May 9–10

MANGUM STYLE. 10 a.m. Artist William Mangum brings even more to the table — with a line of chairs, tables and upholstered goods inspired by his art and travels — as he launches his Carolina Preserves home furnishings collection. William Mangum Fine Art, 2166 Lawndale Drive, Greensboro. Info: (336) 379-9200 or

WHAT’S UP DOC? 8 • p.m. North Carolina folk

May 9

MOTHER LOAD. 10 a.m. Sure, Mom will like those flowers you give her on Mother’s Day, and she’ll like them even more if they’re in a handcrafted vase made by an N.C. potter. Pick one out at the Shop at Greenhill, and fill it with blooms. Greenhill, 200 North Davie Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 3337460 or



May 12–15

BIRTHDAY BASH. Who’s that teenage dream? The Greensboro Children’s Museum, which turns 15 years old. Join the weeklong celebration. Greensboro Children’s Museum, 220 North Church Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 574-2898 or

May 10–16

•HOPPERS HERE. The Greensboro Grasshoppers are home again. NewBridge Bank Park, 408 Bellemeade •

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Performing arts

• • Film

AUTHOR, AUTHOR. 2 p.m. Meet Ruth Moose, author of Doing it at the Dixie Dew. Scuppernong Books, 304 South Elm Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 763-1919 or

TWANG, TWANG! 9 p.m. (Doors open at 7 p.m.) See a man with a plan and a mandolin. Jeff Austin and Yonder Mountain String Band come to town. Blind Tiger, 1819 Spring Garden Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 272-9888; Tickets: theblindtiger. com.


May 11

LA VIDA LOCAL. Noon (gates open at 11 a.m.). Get ready to shake your maracas to some Latin rhythms for a festival commemorating Cinco de Mayo — a Day of Hispanic Musical Artists. White Oak Amphitheatre, Greensboro Coliseum Complex, 1921 West Lee Street, Greensboro. Admission is free. Info:

OPA! 5 p.m. Allow your child to get in touch with his or her phyllo-ings and grill gobs of kabobs at a Teen Cooking Class — Going Greek. Greensboro Children’s Musuem, 220 North Church Street, Greensoboro. Tickets: Info: (336) 574-2898 or gcmuseum. com.


legend Doc Watson left an indelible imprint on the American musical landscape. Paying tribute to his legacy are Grammy Award-winners Bryan Sutton, David Holt and T. Michael Coleman. High Point Theatre, 220 East Commerce Avenue, High Point. Tickets: (336) 887-3001 or

Concert Jake Owen

• •

it’s warm in here…

GRITS & BLUES. Two • Southern mainstays come

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


guarantee We


• • Fun



Josephine’s Bistro & Bar

Introducing Josephine’s Cut Shoppe, now serving flame grilled USDA prime steaks and other selected meats.

336.285.6590 2417 Spring Garden St. Greensboro

Sports May 2014

O.Henry 93

Irving Park

Custom Monogramming Available on In-Store Items 336.275.1555 1724 Battleground Ave. Suite 104 Greensboro, NC 27408

Clothing u Lingerie Jewelry u Bath & Body Tabletop u Baby Home Accessories 1826 Pembroke Road, Greensboro, NC 336-274-3307 (Behind Irving Park Plaza) Monday thru Friday 10:00–5:00 Saturday 10:00–4:00

Treasures for the home and garden SUMMERHOUSE

SUMMERHOUSE 1722 Battleground Avenue, Greensboro Open Weekdays 10am- 5pm; Sat 11am - 4pm 336.275.9655 •

94 O.Henry

May 2014

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

May Arts Calendar May 12

VIRGINIA IS FOR ROCKERS. 10 p.m. (Doors open at 9 p.m.). They may be from the Commonwealth, but their sound is uncommon. Virginia’s Melodime’s tunes are characterized as “haunting with rich vocals.” Blind Tiger, 1819 Spring Garden Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 272-9888; Tickets:

May 13

AUTHOR, AUTHOR. 6 p.m. Meet Elaine Neil Orr, author of A Different Sun. Scuppernong Books, 304 South Elm Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 763- 1919 or

May 13–24

PRINT TO BE. Check out Romare Bearden’s prints and then try making one of your own while listening to jazz at ArtQuest. Greenhill, 200 North Davie Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 333-7460 or

May 15

AUTHOR, AUTHOR. 7 p.m. Meet Ed Williams, author of Liberating Dixie. Scuppernong Books, 304 South Elm Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 763-1919 or

May 16

•WALTON’S MOUNTAINS. 11:30 a.m. Asheville

resident and artist Cindy Walton brings mountain landscapes and Florida beachscapes to a Lunch and Learn session. Tyler White O’Brien Gallery, 307 State Street, Grensboro. Info: (336) 279- 1124 or tylerwhitegallery. com.

•MIXED MINGLING. 6 p.m. Come to a reception featuring artists Cindy Walton and Gastonia resident and painter Curt Butler. Tyler White O’Brien Gallery, 307 State Street, Grensboro. Info: (336) 279- 1124 or

AU-SOME. 7 p.m. Country cat Jake Owen brings his Days of Gold tour to town, with help from Eli Young Band, Thomas Rhett, Parmalee and Cadillac Three. Greensboro Coliseum, 1921 West Lee Street, Greensboro. Tickets: (800) 745-3000 or ticketmaster. com or

DOWN TO EARTH. 7 p.m. If farm livin’ is the life for you, then head to the Green Acres Gala: A Night Under the Stars. Leave the children at home for this adultsonly celebration of food, spirits and socializing, with an auction and raffle. Greensboro Children’s Museum,

• • Art


Performing arts

AUTHOR, AUTHOR. 4 p.m. Meet Cameron Kent, WXII-12 news anchor and author of the historical novel Road to Devotion. Scuppernong Books, 304 South Elm Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 763- 1919 or

FIELD DAY. 9 a.m. Celebrate all things green and growing at the Triad Plant and Landscape Festival, featuring nurseries and vendors selling plants, gardening products and services, a silent auction and tasty treats. Paul J. Ciener Botanical Garden, 215 South Main Street, Kernersville. Info: (336) 996-7888 or cienerbotanicalgarden. org.


May 18

May 19

May 17

220 North Church Street, Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 574-2898 or

LIPPE SERVICE. 10 a.m. How did Greensboro get its “Gate City” moniker? From the rail lines, of course. Historian and railroad aficionado Kevin von der Lippe tells all about life on the tracks at a Museum Guild meeting. Greensboro Historical Museum, 130 Summit Avenue, Greensboro. Info: (336) 373-2043 or

FAMILY TREES. 6:30 p.m. What’s the best way to minimize time and travel expenses while doing genealogical research? Answer: your local Family History Center. Michele Doyle of the Greensboro Family History Center at the LDS Church explains. High Point Museum, 1859 Lexington Avenue, High Point. Info: (336) 885-1859.

May 20

AUTHOR, AUTHOR. 7 p.m. Meet George Singleton, author of Between Wrecks. Scuppernong Books, 304 South Elm Street, Greensboro. Info: (336)

• • Film


• • Fun





for your

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Beautiful Children’s Clothing & Gifts Irving Park Plaza 1738 Battleground Ave., Greensboro, NC 336-273-3566 • Mon - Fri 10-5 pm & Sat 10-4 pm

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Happy Mother’s Day • blow-outs • color • cuts • new styles • • keratin smoothing treatments • 336.285.9379 • Irving Park Plaza • 1736 Battleground Ave. Greensboro, NC 27408 Gift certificates available May 2014

O.Henry 95

May Arts Calendar 763-1919 or

— Since 1966 —

A unique, one-of-a-kind furniture store selling new and transit-damaged furniture and new bedding at prices you can afford.

May 21

ESPRIT DE CORPS. 10 a.m. Penn Wood and Tom Tyson tell the tales of heroism of the 38th Army Evacuation Hospital, which supported the front line aid stations and mobile surgical units in Europe and North Africa in World War II. High Point Museum, 1859 Lexington Avenue, High Point. Info: (336) 885-1859.

May 24

Relax & enjoy youR Patio with hanamint Cast aluminum FuRnituRe items PiCtuRed eitheR in stoCk oR available by sPeCial oRdeR

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PULL! 9 a.m. Take aim at clay pigeons for a good cause: the ninth annual Drake Naylor Invitational, benefiting the Infant/Toddler Program at Gateway Education Center. To date, the 100-bird, fourteethstation event, named for one of Gateway’s students, has raised $485,000. Shane’s Sporting Clays, 6319-B U.S. Highway 59, Summerfield. Info: (336) 202-8546 or

JUMP AND JIVE. 7:30 p.m. Take a jitterbug lesson and cut a rug to the tunes of Prime Rib, courtesy of the Piedmont Swing Dance Society. Greensboro Shrine Club, 5010 High Point Road, Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 508-9988 or

May 26–31

HOPPERS HERE. The Greensboro Grasshoppers are home again. NewBridge Bank Park, 408 Bellemeade Street, Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 268-2255.

May 27

AUTHOR, AUTHOR. 7 p.m. Meet Ben Ross, author of Dead End: Suburban Sprawl. Scuppernong Books, 304 South Elm Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 763-1919 or

May 28

AUTHOR, AUTHOR. 6 p.m. Meet Aaron Gwyn, author of Wynne’s War. Scuppernong Books, 304 South Elm Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 763-1919 or

O, CANADA! 10 p.m. (Doors open at 8 p.m.). Despite their name, the Dukhs are no quacks. Known for Celtic- bluegrass- and Latin-infused tunes, the Canadian roots band has garnered critical praise and a Grammy nomination. Blind Tiger, 1819 Spring Garden Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 272-9888; Tickets:

May 31

BERRIED TREASURE. 10 a.m. Costumed interpreters demonstrate how early settlers prepared and used strawberries. Meanwhile, a blacksmith strikes while the iron is hot. Historical Park, High Point Museum, 1859 Lexington Avenue, High Point. Info: (336) 885-1859 or VIN-VIN SITUATION. Noon. With thirty-odd • wineries and 7,500 visitors, Salute! — The North Carolina Wine Celebration, is rated as one of the top twenty events in the Southeast. Raise your complimentary glass and sip the nectar from the state’s vines. Downtown Winston-Salem. Info: salutencwine. com.

A TISKET, A TASKET . . . 1 p.m. What’ll it be? Sandwiches? Hard-boiled eggs? Fruit? Brownies? Get

96 O.Henry

May 2014

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

May Arts Calendar Tuesdays

6:30 •– 9:30CHICKEN’N’PICKIN’ p.m. Y’all come for Skillet

Fried Chicken & Songs from a 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 htm.


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 To add an event, email us at ohenrymagcalendar@ by the first of the month prior to the event.


some ideas for a kid-friendly picnic basket from Whole Foods’ experts. Greensboro Children’s Museum, 220 North Church Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 574-2898 or

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.


JAZZ NIGHT. 7 p.m. Fresh-ground, fresh-brewed 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.


Fridays & Saturdays

BUZZING. 10 a.m. Your busy little bees engage 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) 5742898 or

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

AUTHOR, AUTHOR. 7 p.m. Meet Jon Sealy, author of The Whiskey Baron. Scuppernong Books, 304 South Elm Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 763-1919 or

• •

•• • The Art & Soul of Greensboro

• • • • •

Key: Art Music/Concerts Literature/Speakers Fun

Performing arts Film History Sports

336.209.0376 May 2014

O.Henry 97

Worth the Drive to Winston-Salem The Wolf of Winston-Salem Demons roaming the countryside, an act of faith awakening a monster, a stranger lending a hand, a cycle of revenge. If this sounds a little like your high-school English class, you’d be right: It’s Beowulf, the Anglo-Saxon epic we all struggled through as teenagers. But the story is reset in the Appalachian Mountains, accompanied by a soundtrack of roots music. And Grendel the monster becomes Grin Dell, while the titular hero is an itinerant preacher named Brother Wolf. And if that name is familiar, you’ll recall it made the rounds several years ago as an original production of Triad Stage. “It happened as an accident,” says Preston Lane, Triad Stage’s artistic director and author of Brother Wolf. At the Barnes & Noble bookstore in Fayetteville, he came across a translation of Beowulf. “I felt guilty that I had only read the Cliff’s Notes,” he laughs. “I read the poem and I loved it.” Not long after, Lane, a native of Western North Carolina, was lamenting the suppression of his Blue Ridge roots with a fellow mountaineer. “We had to hide our accents and be ashamed,” Lane says. The colleague had an idea: Why not write something? Lane transformed Beowulf into an Appalachian epic infused with folklore and some of his own family history (one of Lane’s forebears was the first Baptist preacher in Tennessee), and approached Greensboro’s Laurelyn Dossett to write the soundtrack. As devotees of Triad Stage know, Brother Wolf was a, well, howling success. So much so, he is reviving the play at Hanesbrands Theatre (May

6–25) in Winston- Salem, where he was a student at UNCSA. “I always wanted to work there. It’s so different from our space,” he observes. And having brought two Triad Stage productions to the Twin City (A Christmas Carol and Red), he’s “delighted” with the facility, the Hanesbrands staff, the Arts Council of Winston-Salem/Forsyth County, and the engagement of the audiences. What can they expect from Brother Wolf, version 2.0? “A completely new cast, a new set,” says Lane. “I wanted to approach it fresh, as if I’d never directed it before,” he adds. Now that Triad Stage has joined the theater community of WinstonSalem, along with No Rules Theatre Company, North Carolina Black Repertory Company, among others, Lane will start pairing plays, one in Greensboro, one in Winston-Salem, connected by playwright, subject or setting. So, next season, when you see Beth Henley’s Crimes of the Heart at the Pyrle, you’ll be inspired to attend a production of the Western oeuvre Abundance at Hanesbrands. “The drive between the two cities is so small,” Lane asserts. “We have the ability to have a great destination, and make the Triad a real attraction, a place for great theater.” To which Brother Wolf himself might say, “Amen!” Hanesbrands Theatre, 209 North Spruce Street, Winston-Salem (336) 747-1414 o; OH –Nancy Oakley

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98 O.Henry

May 2014

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or mail payment to P.O. Box 58, Southern Pines, NC 28388 The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Worth the Drive to High Point Regatta Get there

Yasmin Leonard Photography

If you’d like to watch sailboat races — or learn to sail yourself — sailing season is now in full swing at Oak Hollow Lake. And Oak Hollow Sailing Club’s regattas — Italian for fights or contests— will be under full sail the third Saturday of each month through October beginning at 10 a.m. The club’s commodore, aka president, Paul Walter, says the regattas usually consist of three races, weather and wind permitting. But he warns spectators not to expect the Kentucky Derby of sailboat racing. “When you don’t have much wind, there’s not a lot of racing going on. You’re doing a lot of floating,” he says. To see whether sailing’s your cup of tea, Walter suggests coming to the club’s fifth annual Community Fun Day. Held on May 18 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Oak Hollow Marina, the club will offer free refreshments and sailboat rides. While it’s organized to draw new potential members, sometimes people just want to come out and ride on a sailboat. “It is a pretty cool experience to see a child ride on a sailboat for the first time, knowing that there is a possibility it could be their only time,” Walter says. Or it could set off a lifelong interest, as was Walter’s case. He says he dropped by a Community Fun Day event four years ago. “I’d never sailed before, but I wanted to learn,” he recalls. So he went to the marina, got out on the lake and even

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tried sailing a bit that very day. It took him about three months of sailing at least twice weekly to feel confident. “You make a lot of mistakes in the beginning, but in order to feel comfortable, you’ve got to practice,” he says. Those wanting to sail don’t even have to own a boat. Oak Hollow Marina rents Sunfish boats for $25 for four hours, but boaters should first know how to rig and sail. To accommodate those wanting to learn, Oak Hollow Sailing Club will also host an Introduction to Sailing Open House event Tuesday, May 13, at 6:30 p.m. at Oak Hollow Marina, 3700 Waterview Road, High Point. Members will provide anyone joining the club free basic sailing instruction on the water. Family memberships are $30 for one year. Lessons are scheduled Sundays, May 18, June 22, July 20 or August 17. No prior experience is required. The sailing club also has boats it can rent to members. While Oak Hollow Lake doesn’t have large waves or currents, Walter says the size of the boat really makes a difference. Smaller, lighter boats are harder to balance, he says: “With small boat sailing — although the principles are easy to learn — to master it requires passion and practice.” For more info, contact Paul Walter at (336) 707-8112 or pewalterjr@, or click OH — Tina Firesheets



Dennis Whitman 336.549.0219 Kathy Whitman 336.681.7098 10233 North Main Street • Archdale, NC 27263 Hours 10 am - 6 pm Monday thru Saturday

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The Art & Soul of Greensboro

May 2014

O.Henry 99

Arts & Culture

KiM KEStErSoN-troNE • SUMMEr FLiGHt Merging natural color as they exist on the palette that springs from her mind’s eye, fine artist, Kim Kesterson-Trone uses depth in layers of color to give “Summer Flight” to an inviting and excting collection of original oils on canvas. Exhibit will run Friday, May 2 thru Friday, May, 30th

Join Kim at irving Park Art & Frame on thursday, May 8, 6-9pm for the opening reception.

Monday-Friday | 9:30 - 5:30 • Saturday | 10 - 4

2105-A W. Cornwallis Drive Greensboro, NC | | (336) 274-6717 Event is free and open to public with plenty of free parking and handicap access


2014-2015 RON HOWARD


OCTOBER 23, 2014


NOVEMBER 11, 2014

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The Art & Soul of Greensboro

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May 2014

O.Henry 101

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102 O.Henry

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The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Arts & Culture

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104 O.Henry

May 2014

The Art & Soul of Greensboro


Patti and Bill Eckard

Greensboro’s Birthday Bash Greensboro Historical Museum Saturday, March 22, 2014 Photographs by Lynn Donovan

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May 2014

O.Henry 105

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Patrick Grigo, Jennifer Faller

Guilford Green Foundation Gala and Green Party O.Henry Hotel Saturday, March 22, 2014 Photographs by Lynn Donovan

Mary Sue Olcott, Maggie Cannon, Arlene Gutterman, Kate Panzer

Elaine Kiser, Carol Hunt Martha & Tim Theissen

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May 2014

O.Henry 107

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108 O.Henry

May 2014

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Kim and Erick Ellsweig, Carol and Seymour Levin

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Art from the Heart Weatherspoon Art Museum Friday, March 28, 2014

Photographs by Lynn Donovan Erica Procton, Lynn Wooten, Trisha Costello, Paul Russ Bria Hall, Gaby Grune, Dana Rojak

Paul Russ, Lynn Wooten

Lawrence and Joanna Cox, Misty McCall

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Rodney Ouzts, Leslie Ketner, Massimo Fantechi

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Linda and Jim Carlisle

Nancy Hoffmann, Nancy Doll

May 2014

O.Henry 109

Canterbury S C H O O L

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4/7/14 8:09 AM

The Accidental Astrologer

By Astrid Stellanova

Maybe you like the month of May. Maybe May makes you want to holler “MAY DAY,” like I do whenever I see my loopy cousin Mae Ella Mason and her bunch of ill-mannered young ’uns drive up in her banged-up Suburban. You’ll probably love this month if you happen to like sunshine, daisies and duckies. Tell you the truth: Too much pretty hurts my eyes. Taurus (April 20–May 20) The first week of May is intense, Honey, cause with Mercury in your sign you are feeling full of yourself. Twist and shout, and work it on out, like you are Chuck Berry’s long-lost love child. After the 7th, finances come into play and all I’m saying is tuck the plastic away. You’re good with money but curb the impulse ’cause you won’t want something small. You’ll buy big — say, a shiny new Harley. If you can’t stop yourself, do not use credit. And if you cannot pay cash, Honey, wear chaps and don’t get a rash, or you’ll pay for that Harley twice. Trust me: You will look good on the back of a Hog and you were born to wear pleather. Gemini (May 21–June 20) Almost all month you are affected by a transit in your eleventh house. You’re not your old self — you’re better than that. It’s like you have the mind of Walt Disney and the bank account of Bill Gates. Things are creative, you got your twin mojo working, the whole package. Get on down tonight, Sugar, because this month you will be tiger fast in getting what you want and nobody can stop you. Somebody’s going to have to hold Big Mama and Big Papa back. Cancer (June 21–July 22) This is a good month for your career. If you’ve got one, it takes off. If you’re looking for one, you find it. You may have an itty-bitty skeleton in your closet that needs to get taken care off — clean up that old mess, Sugar. You know what I mean. The full moon on the 14th is a strong signal to pay attention. Take care of business; read your mail, and don’t sit around like an unaddressed envelope. Then, take the trip that you get offered. Leo (July 23–August 22) It’s a short distance between the states of cocky and confident. Some of your friends and associates are measuring, and notice you have a foot in both states. Privately, you believe you’re ready to let loose on America’s Got Talent. Uh, not yet. You like a risk, but Honey, wait till the 28th. There will be a new moon in Gemini, and that moon brings nothing but good times. In the meantime, you do get on someone’s last nerve. Make up; say you’re sorry. It’s worth the trouble. Virgo (August 23 –September 22) Just wear your big boy or big girl pants. It’s that easy, peasy. I see you closing a chapter in your life and moving on if you take a little chance. It’s a heavy door to close, but it’s time. If you do this, there’s a new opportunity that can swing wide open on the other side. Mars is in a beneficial position this month, and it means go for that job, or promotion. Don’t hang back like a blue-haired granny plowing along in the passing lane. Libra (September 23–October 22) Breathe through your nose just like you’re about to have a baby. You are about to give birth to something new in your own self, Child. It may feel a little like pushing a piano through a manhole with one finger, but if you do this right, a whole new dimension opens up. Mars is in your sign on the 19th. When this is all over, a new side of you is going to surface and you will experience more fun than two rednecks at a Motel 6 with a bag of quarters and a Magic Fingers vibrating bed. The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Scorpio (October 23–November 21) If that loudmouth Millionaire Matchmaker ever met you, she’d know to zip it up. There’s a lot of possibility for romance in your stars this month, and anything could happen. But you will definitely either get married, or get more involved if you already are, Sugar. If I didn’t know better, I’d say you might even elope and surprise your own self. Your psychic experiences are gonna be unusual this month too. Sagittarius (November 22–December 21) This month Sagittarius is simply irresistible, and you’ll be living in a David Bowie daydream. You’ll be appealing to everybody — men, women, even mean children. Charm is not just something hanging on your bracelet, and you will have it to spare. Romance is center stage in your life, and you won’t have to seek it; it will find you. Throw a little of that excess passion into work, and don’t let the month end before you do. Capricorn (December 22–January 19) Don’t let anybody put the cap on you, Capricorn. Be leery of Debbie and Dan Downer. Some people bring a beam of light as they go down life’s path, and some only when they go away. There will be a good bit of envy aimed your way, because anything you need to shed — excess baggage, old boyfriends, bad debt — looks easy for you now. You’re going to attract nearly everything but men and money this month, so use the good sense your mama gave you. Aquarius (January 20–February 18) OK, let the sun shine in on you, just like the hippies said it would. Let go and let your good karma work. You’re naturally complicated, and your life can easily become a goat rodeo if you over-think everything, Sugar. Mercury transits your sign most of this month, and so the homefront is going to be whatever you want. It’s a good time to tackle a home project, or buy a house. It’s also a good time to buy into a new relationship. It’s just a good time to be you all month long. Pisces (February 19–March 20) You go on a fishing expedition, so to speak, and come back home with a mess of crappies and bunch of good stories to tell. To quote a friend’s daddy, them fish are gonna be jumping up your pant’s leg — and all you got to do is bait the hook. It’s that kinda star time. On the 14th, there’s a full moon in Taurus, which is worth noting. On the 19th, any hiccups that caused trouble will end. Aries (March 21–April 19) Still love Mother Nature despite what She did to you? Well, this month you actually find a good reason for the good will you usually feel toward yourself. (Read: easy for Aries to be conceited. Just saying.) Honestly, about the time when you seem spectacularly self-centered, you manage to do something spectacularly generous. This is one of those times, and your generosity may even surprise you. 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.

May 2014

O.Henry 111

O.Henry Ending

Coop Envy

What seems a grand idea by light of day, seems a little scary after dark

On a Saturday inside the Williams- So-

noma store at Friendly Center, local vendors display their sauces, breads, meats and cheese. This is their monthly farmers’ market. A clerk hands me Agrarian, a “homemade and homegrown catalog.” What I cannot stop staring at is the chicken and coop on the cover.

Williams-Sonoma sells chicken coops for $699. What the cluck? How did this urban chicken movement happen? When did chickens get sexy? Overnight, I have coop envy. I want a cock-of-the-walk golden Sebright bantam or a South American rumpless that lays gorgeous, blue eggs — darling little eggs, warm in the hand, fresh from the flock, just like my friends Cindy, Regula, Michael and Kitty have and even fireman Ryan has, not to mention Martha Stewart and Paula Deen. On Wendover Avenue, Leonard Aluminum Utility Buildings Inc. displays a cunning little chicken coop and run. I’ve been there, twice, to discuss things. When the salesman got to the part about discouraging snakes and foxes getting in the coop, I chickened out. At Wesley Long Hospital, chatting with my farm-bred mother, I broach the topic of raising chickens. We sip tea and I casually ask, “How did you feel about chickens, growing up with them?” Mom looks aghast, as if I just asked her about raising caimans. “I had enough of them when I was young, having to feed them and gathering eggs. I said if I ever got away from them . . .” she clucks heatedly, then eyes me. I scoot over, afraid of getting pecked. “Why do you ask?” “Um,” I murmur evasively, before Jerry, who turns out to be a gospel/bluegrass musician and Gibsonville tobacco farmer, swivels around. “I said that, too, about getting away from them chickens,” he inserts. We turn to Jerry, who is awaiting his wife’s sixth chemo treatment. He shuffles and adjusts his cap. Which is sort of the farmer’s “Howdy.” He seems glad for a diversion because chemo, as he puts it, “is kind of rough.” Jerry stands. “I don’t raise chickens anymore. But I’ve got one friend, a fullfledged farmer, who is in a wheelchair,” he says sadly. “Now all he can do is look after them chickens.” Jerry pulls a rueful, what-can-you-say kind of face. If you plot Greensboro, I personally know of someone raising chickens in every quadrant of our fair borough. Chicken owners keep a low profile. There are a few self-explanatory reasons, including what my Sedgefield friend Lynette bluntly calls chicken shit. Secondly, there is a problem of noise. Roosters crow. “Can you get shock collars for chickens, like for dogs?” one friend wonders. A friend living in northwest Greensboro is so concerned that her lustily noisy roosters might be confiscated she changes her mind about being interviewed. (“No name, please,” she insists.) And, further, there is the problem of flight. Certain types of white chickens

112 O.Henry

May 2014

fly away, dear Lord. One such flock immediately flew straight into a neighbor’s tree and hours were spent coaxing them down. In the end, the chicks’ wings were clipped. Problem solved. A Sunset Hills friend has neighbors who get their chicken feed via FedEx from Online, has everything one needs to begin raising chickens. At the low end (under $5) are those cunning chickens that lay colored eggs, but the wait time is three months. Then there is the issue of chickens outfitted with designer coops but postagestamp chicken yards. Where’s the “free” in “free-range”? Off Westridge Road in northwest Greensboro are two neighbors, now seasoned chicken farmers. One has a barn with a coop. Together, Michael, and his neighbor, Andrew, have raised chicks for four years. Right off the bat, Michael warns: “Don’t name them.” The duo got their first group of twenty from a place in southern Guilford County, and immediately realized that twenty is too plenty. Inside the laundry room of the house are two young chickens separated from the flock, living under house arrest. Turns out, flocks are like gangs. They don’t like new members. They have been known to peck outliers to death. They also discovered it would be months before the hens would lay eggs. Michael now has six chickens, sturdy Rhode Island reds, which give him a couple of eggs daily. But, after a few years chickens quit laying. Michael describes the next stop: the stock pot. “I learned something at the Goat Lady Farm,” he adds helpfully. “If you make a kind of funnel from a milk jug and put a chicken head-down in it, it will faint. It’s a lot easier to kill it that way.” Especially if the chicken doesn’t have a name. Still, Michael runs a humane operation, allowing the chickens out to roam at least an hour before darkness. “Chickens are afraid of the dark,” he explains. In the dusk I also return home to roost, with images of snakes, milk jug funnels and clipped wings dancing behind the windshield. I recycle the WilliamsSonoma catalog on return, knowing I’ve lost heart about a coop of my own filled with fine-feathered friends. Still, with the inky darkness approaching, I cannot help but hope that gangsta chickens, scared-of-the-dark chickens, clipped-wing chickens, even no-name chickens, are getting a little love. OH Cynthia Adams grew up on a farm with horses, cows, pigs and a goat named Billy. But, sadly, no chickens. The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Illustration by Harry Blair

By Cindy Adams

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