O.Henry December 2019

Page 1

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W W W. G R E E N S B O R O - N C . G O V

December 2019 DEPARTMENTS 15 Simple Life

39 Life of Jane

18 Short Stories 21 GreenHill Featured Artist By Nancy Oakley 23 Doodad

42 The Pleasures of Life Dept.

By Jim Dodson

By Grant Britt

25 Life’s Funny

By Maria Johnson

27 Omnivorous Reader By D.G. Martin

31 Scuppernong Bookshelf 33 Papadaddy's Mindfield By Clyde Edgerton

35 Drinking with Writers By Wiley Cash

By Jane Borden By Grant Britt

46 Food for Thought By Jane Lear

51 Birdwatch

By Susan Campbell

53 Wandering Billy By Billy Eye

84 Arts Calendar 105 GreenScene 111 The Accidental Astrologer By Astrid Stellanova

112 O.Henry Ending By Bill Fields

FEATURES 57 The Aurora

Poetry by Karen Filipski

58 An Ordinary American Boy By Ross Howell Jr. The extraordinary life of WWII flying ace George E. Preddy Jr.

64 Hungry for the Holidays

By Cynthia Adams Karen Robbins brings French flair to her Greek and Italian culinary heritage – a portal into a rich multicultural world

68 Crystal Clear

Celtic Pottery’s painstaking art of crystalline pottery By Maria Johnson

72 It's a Wonderful Chaos

By Cynthia Adams Sam Howard and Mickey Richey’s traditional Christmas extravagance

83 Almanac

By Ash Alder

Photograph this page by Amy Freeman

8 O.Henry

December 2019

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

riends, f l u f r e d our won

ought h t e l p o e p Elm and To n o ed with s w s e e i l V B e ? h e T w e opened nate are w u t o r g o a f s w r o 5 yea ll are. H i t s It was 1 e w , taste. , well l y z a a n r o c i e t r p we we ith exce w s t n e i l c the best ! in 2020 eauty, b 0 o 2 t / t 0 s 2 a o t He re’s to raise a t e w , , share i t n i o s r a e f e f s o holiday e feel it, s w i y h t a jour ney, f s o M i t . h e i t r v i o n l p o In the s lth and ning us a i e o j h r , o e f c a s nk s, pe rest tha e kindnes c n i s r it. Ou View. o n s i and find e er t you th u o h t i w ve r yday. e for d n a y a is holid h t u o y o & LOVE t e d u t i t Gra ie Chee rs, i & Georg t r a M , Becky

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Volume 9, No. 12 “I have a fancy that every city has a voice.”

What matters to you, matters to us

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David Woronoff Jim Dodson, Editor • jim@thepilot.com Andie Stuart Rose, Art Director • andie@thepilot.com Nancy Oakley, Senior Editor • nancy@ohenrymag.com Lauren M. Coffey, Graphic Designer Alyssa Rocherolle, Graphic Designer CONTRIBUTING EDITORS

Cynthia Adams, David Claude Bailey, Harry Blair, Maria Johnson CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS

Mallory Cash, Lynn Donovan, Amy Freeman, Sam Froelich, John Koob Gessner, Bert VanderVeen, Mark Wagoner CONTRIBUTORS

Ash Alder, Jane Borden, Grant Britt, Susan Campbell, Wiley Cash, Tony Cross, Clyde Edgerton, Billy Eye, Ross Howell Jr., Billy Ingram, Susan S. Kelly, Sara King, Brian Lampkin, Meridith Martens, D.G. Martin, Ogi Overman, Angela Sanchez, Stephen E. Smith, Astrid Stellanova (Left to right): Karen Button Fiduciary Advisory Specialist, Parrish Peddrick Senior Wealth Planning Strategist, Fritz Kreimer Senior Investment Strategist, LuAnn Dove-Ramsey Private Banker, Pam Beck Private Banker, Ryan Newkirk Wealth Advisor

Our team of experienced professionals will work to help you reach your unique goals. We offer the dedicated attention of our local team backed by the strength, innovation, and resources of the larger Wells Fargo organization. To learn more about how your local Wells Fargo Private Bank office can help you, contact us: Ryan Newkirk Wealth Advisor NMLSR ID 589706 (336) 378-4108 ryan.newkirk@wellsfargo.com wellsfargoprivatebank.com


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Jack Andrews, Frank Daniels Jr., Frank Daniels III, Lee Dirks, David Woronoff ©Copyright 2019. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited. O.Henry Magazine is published by The Pilot LLC

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10 O.Henry

December 2019

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

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ALL month

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HOLIDAY WINE TASTING Beerthirty | 5:30-7:30PM

IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE: A LIVE RADIO PLAY Triad Stage | December 1-22


WINTER SHOW AT GREENHILL GreenHill | December 8 – January 17

12 thursday

20 friday HOLIDAY MOVIE: THE GRINCH LeBauer Park | 5:00PM

21 saturday


HOLIDAY WINE TASTING Beerthirty | 5:30-7:30PM

A SEUSSIFIED CHRISTMAS CAROL ber 7 -15 -1 Community Theatre of Greensboro | December

13 friday


HOLIDAY SHOWCASE Center for Visual Artists | thru December 31

PICTURES WITH SANTA Center City Park | 4:00 -7:00PM


CHRISTMAS AT BLANDWOOD MANSION Holiday tours thru December 29

14 saturday


HOLIDAY MOVIES AT THE CAROLINA THEATRE Visit www.carolinatheatre.com for the schedule.


HOLIDAY COOKING CLASSES Visit www.gcmuseum.com for the schedule.

HOLIDAY CRAFT FAIR Deep Roots Market | 11:00AM-5:00PM


TEA WITH CLARA Carolina Theatre | 1:45PM

23 monday


7 saturday

LOWLAND HUM: MUSIC FOR CHRISTMAS TIME The Crown at the Carolina | 8:00 PM SANTACON BAR CRAWL Visit DowntownInDecember.org for more information.


15 sunday SANTA AT THE BILTMORE HOTEL 11:00AM – 2:00PM TEA WITH CLARA Carolina Theatre | 1:45PM


A VISIT FROM KRAMPUS Terra Blue | 6:00-9:00 PM 3RD ANNUAL UGLY CHRISTMAS SWEATER PARTY Little Brother Brewing | 8:00-10:00 PM



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Simple Life

A Walk in the Dark The nocturnal world reveals its secrets — and the beauty of an Elephant Angel

By Jim Dodson

Every morning for the past few years,

a couple of hours before sunrise, while much of the world has yet to stir, regardless of weather or season, my wife and I walk a mile with our dogs through the darkness. Sometimes a little farther than that.

Neither wind nor rain, neither sleet nor snow — and certainly not dark of night — can keep us from our appointed rounds. What began as a simple way for two humans and three canines to get their feet and bloodstreams moving has become a daily ritual that seems almost second nature now, the one time during a busy week when we — the humans — have time to talk and walk or simply be together. We talk of many things or nothing at all, frequently walking in a mindful silence worthy of Benedictine monks. We carry a flashlight to shine if necessary but prefer to travel by the light of the stars and an ever-changing moon, plus whatever illumination hails from the odd lighted porch or lamppost. Fortunately our neighborhood has only a few street lights, which make night skies more vibrant and provide deep stretches of darkness where we rely on faith and trust that one of us won’t step headfirst into an open manhole or fall over someone’s curbed bag of leaves. That’s a risk I’m happy to take. We live in a world too full of clamor and noise, and save for those wee hours when maintenance crews at the nearby shopping center operate industrial-sized leaf blowers that can be heard for country miles (against city noise codes, by the way, and something that has many in the neighborhood up in arms). The predawn silence and stillness may be

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

the best thing about a walk in the dark, a healing glimpse of a world that was. “Silence is the sleep that nourishes wisdom,” said Francis Bacon. Our two older dogs — Mulligan the aging mixed breed foundling (Queen bee, deaf in one ear) and Ajax the golden retriever dandy (pedigreed goofball) — know nothing of Bacon, except the kind they beg to eat, but do know the way by heart though the darkness, chugging bravely ahead. Gracie, the sweet young Staffordshire terrier we rescued from life on the streets, likes to pause and sniff the earth where others have passed, keeping a sharp eye out for breakfasting rabbits, still learning her way through a civilized world. Darkness, it seems to me, gets a pretty bum rap. As kids, we are programmed against the night by popular culture and to fear the darkness and everything that potentially lurks therein — the monster in the closet, the bogeyman beneath the bed, witches who consort with the moon, robbers waiting in the bushes, black cats and burglars on the prowl. Later in life, of course, it’s the metaphorical darkness that drives the daylight narrative with news of yet another incomprehensible mass murder of innocents in broad daylight by some despondent loner enveloped by his own inner darkness. Friends — and everyone has them — who’ve made the journey through the Stygian darkness of depression live in a state of perpetual twilight, unable to sleep, untethered from a world that seems to hold scant promise of joy or hope. Their journey back to the light is one of the bravest things you can witness. Meanwhile, the Web’s dark side is reportedly shadowing all of our lives, spinning fantastic conspiracies while stealing our identities and credit card numbers. Is it a coincidence that the television ads that run in the predawn hours aggressively peddle home security systems, identity protection and male impotence cures? Probably not. These are what we fear most in our darkest hours of the night. And yet, it is that very darkness where we take refuge and rest and recharge December 2019

O.Henry 15

Simple Life

smile LET YOUR



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16 O.Henry

December 2019

batteries, snuggle down beneath the duvet, temporarily abandon all cares and set loose on travels through our dreams. For all its magnificent abilities to reveal the workings of living creatures, modern science still cannot fully explain why all living things — even honeybees — need sleep. But thankfully we do. And the best benefits of sleep occur, sleep experts agree, in a dark and silent place. A campfire in the daytime seems, well, rather pale and pointless. But on a dark night in the wild, surrounded by the watchful eyes of living creatures great and small, what is more comforting than a crackling fire that sends up sparks to heaven when you toss on another log? In her marvelous book Learning to Walk in the Dark, spiritual writer Barbara Brown Taylor points out that the human body requires equal amounts of darkness and light to function properly, an ancient circadian rhythm of sleeping and waking that matches the cycle of day and night, allowing natural healing properties in both man and nature to do their thing. “I have learned things in the dark that I would never have learned in the light,” Brown writes, “things that have saved my life over and over again, so that there is really only one logical conclusion. I need darkness.” “Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness,” concurs the poet Mary Oliver. “It took me years to understand that this, too was a gift.” Madeleine L’Engle sagely chimes in from a wrinkle somewhere in time, “Maybe you have to know the darkness before you can appreciate the light.” Which brings us happily back to lights on our daily walk made mythical by the winter darkness. Beginning in October (seemingly earlier every year), it’s fun to see the year’s latest crop of illuminated creatures of the night that appear on lawns weeks before Halloween — gigantic black cats, towering ghouls, giant spiders, fake graveyards, skeletal hands reaching up from the azaleas. It’s all in good fun, meant to mock the very thing we are meant to fear: the mysterious darkness. Our favorite by a wide margin is the Great Lighted Pumpkin that appears every year at the start of October, floating high in the limbs of an ancient white oak near the corner where we turn for home. He smiles benevolently upon us as if he gets the joke — a beacon of cheerfulness in a season of manufactured fright. Come December — the hemisphere’s darkest month — it’s the deep winter darkness that makes the lights of our daily trek through the neighborhood such a visual feast, a kinetic pleasure. As the curtain comes down on another year in the life of this struggling old planet, we hopeful types dutifully light candles and build bonfires to politely

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Simple Life rage against the notion of going gently into that good night. As if to indicate our unwavering commitment to optimism in the face of present concerns, we string lights on trees and lampposts, erect illuminated reindeer and waving Santas, blinking constellations of shrubs meant to light the darkened way. Clearly, there is a message in this. During the years we resided on a coastal hill in Maine, surrounded by several hundred acres of a deep beech and hemlock forest, our little ones lived for the annual lighting of trees around the property, particularly an elderly American beech that stood in the side yard off the eastern porch. In order to get up into the limbs of the old tree, I needed a large step ladder and a healthy snort of good Kentucky bourbon for courage in order to finagle the tiny lights into the highest branches. Our resident squirts maintained that the creatures who resided in the surrounding forest — a peaceable kingdom that included a family of white tail deer, a lovesick moose who occasionally wandered over the lawn, a fat lady porcupine who waddled past and a flock of wild turkey, not to mention a couple mischievous made-up story time bears named Pete and Charley — needed our lit-up beech to brighten their cold winter nights. Not everyone grasped this. The UPS guy, for example, wondered why we bothered to put up holiday lights on a forested hilltop where nobody but us could see them. Before I could reply, my wee son Jack spoke up. “The birds can see them,” he calmly explained. “And so can angels.” One year, in any case, I forgot to check whether the current bulbs were still operational and carefully put up several strings only to discover they were dead as Jacob Marley’s doorknocker. In frustration, I went out and purchased several new strings of holiday lights and tested them before haphazardly flinging them into the limbs as darkness fell and an intense downpour of sleet began. Upon flipping the switch, something remarkable happened, proof that children see things that grown-ups lose the ability to see without help. The old beech bloomed to life with glittering lights in the icy darkness and I breathed a sigh of relief. “Look, Daddy,” Jack said matter-of-factly. “An elephant angel.” By golly he was right. I can only describe what he saw — the outline of an elephant with wings, soaring heavenward — as exactly that. A few days later, even the UPS guy, delivering Christmas presents from faraway Carolina, was deeply impressed. OH


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The Art & Soul of Greensboro

December 2019

O.Henry 17

Short Stories

Sproutin’ Santa

And Santa for the sprouts. Old Saint Nick is ready for his close-up! He’ll be suiting up in the Nick of time at noon on December 7 and 8 for visits and photo ops (for a nominal fee of $10) with the kiddos — and pets. Yes, it’s the crunchy side of Kris Kringle: In the Garden with Santa at the Greensboro Science Center (4301-A Lawndale Drive). Presented by Anniversary Garden Club of the Greensboro Council of Garden Clubs, the event also includes free crafts for the children not to mention holiday horticultural displays. Info: (336) 580-6617 or thegreensborocouncilofgardenclubs.com.

Broadway Ben

Suite Française

Or rather, “sweet” française! What’ll it be? Bûche de Noël? Madeleines? Macarons? Crème au caramel? Find out on December 10th by attending Adult Cooking: French Holiday Desserts at Greensboro Children’s Museum (220 North Church Street). From 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. the aptly named Cathy Monnet of Easy Cuisine, will be your gourmet guide to gaulois goodness that will add a soupcon of savoir-faire to your holiday buffet. To register: gcmuseum.com.

Pottering Around

By that we don’t mean Old Man Potter, the Scrooge-like villain of It’s a Wonderful Life, but Harry Potter, the boy wizard who learns to use his powers for good. Celebrate the bespectacled character at Scuppernong Books’ Harry Potter Yule Ball at 7 p.m. on December 14 (304 South Elm Street). Scour your wizardly wardrobe for some fantastical finery and enjoy the fête that includes live music, food and drink specials, a costume contest and more. Admission is $12 at the door, but with the purchase of an advance ticket ($10), your name will be added to the Goblet of Fire for a drawing of raffle prizes, including a copy of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: Illustrated Edition. If this party’s a sellout, we’ll hope that Scup will consider hosting a Hogwarts Hogmanay in 2020. Tickets: (336) 763-1919 or scuppernongbooks.com.

18 O.Henry

December 2019

As in, Ben Crawford, who’s floored theatergoers with his performances in the title role of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera. So turn your face away from the garishness of 2019 and ring in the new year, listening to Crawford’s rich baritone as he sings selections from Les Miserables, Shrek, Boy from Oz, among others alongside Greensboro Symphony at a Tanger POPS New Year’s Eve concert at Westover Church (505 Muirs Chapel Road). Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 335-5456, ext. 224 or ticketmaster.com.

Flame Game

The appeal of firelight flickering in the dark is as old as humankind — perhaps because it brings, well, comfort and joy. From 6 to 9 p.m. on December 7, feel the joy of Candlefest, featuring some 4,000 luminaries spread throughout Greensboro Arboretum (401 Ashland Drive) — as well as live music, hot chocolate and s’mores. And bring comfort to others in the form of nonperishable food for a local food bank. Info: greensboro-nc.gov.

The Art & Soul of Greensboro


Ogi Sez Ogi Overman

Bailing out Bailey

That would be George Bailey, hapless hero who gets a second chance in the 1946 film, It’s a Wonderful Life, which gets its own second life from December 1 through 22 at Triad Stage (232 South Elm Street). But the production of the classic American Christmas fable comes with a twist. As It's A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play, Frank Capra’s sentimental flick is re-imagined as a live 1940s radio broadcast — with performers reading the script, while a Foley Artist creates sound effects — transforming theatergoers into a "live" studio audience. In any case, the angel, Clarence will likely earn his wings. Tickets: (336) 272-0160 or triadstage.com.

Jolly Holidays

Put the brakes on seasonal stress with music breaks, courtesy of local libraries, which will host free jazz concerts. Pack a lunch and head to High Point Public Library (901 North Main Street) at 11:45 on December 3 for a “Big Band Holidays,” featuring vocalists Catherine Russell and Kenny Washington, whose grooves will be streamed from New York’s Lincoln Center. December 5 brings “Jazzing Up the Holidays” at Glenn McNairy Library (4860 Lake Jeanette Road, Greensboro), in which Guilford College’s student musicians serenade from 6 to 7 p.m. while you fashion some wintry crafts. On December 9 at 7 p.m. Wally West delivers “Jingle All the Way with Holiday Jazz” at Benjamin Library (1530 Benjamin Parkway, Greensboro). Info: highpointmuseum.org; greensboro-nc.gov.

What Ales You?

Now that pumpkin spice season is finally over, local brewmasters are determined to take the chill off of Old Man Winter with traditional — and not-so-traditional — winter ales. Joymongers is rolling out barrels of its annual Toter Klaus Russian Imperial Stout — deep, dark and potent with notes of chocolate and jingle bells if you overindulge. Natty Greene’s is brewing its much-anticipated, annual Red Nose Winter Ale. Red Oak is honoring winter darkness with single and double bocks, a.k.a. Black Oak. At press time, Little Brother was “hopping” onto brewing a special release for its two-year anniversary. We hope that Pig Pounder, SouthEnd, Gibbs, LevenEleven, Preyer or someone will make a Gift of the Magi Milk Stout. At the risk of sounding like a Capitol One ad, we want to know: What’s in your taps? Tag us on Facebook or Instagram, and we’ll spread the cheer(s).

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

OK, I like Christmas carols, traditional and modern, as much as the next guy/gal, but even Bing Crosby and Mariah Carey get old after a while. So if you’ve decked your last hall and roasted your final chestnut, I have an idea: Embellish your Christmas cheer with a little live music. Here are four shows with a bit of a holiday flair, plus a one-time New Year’s Eve show guaranteed to keep you in the spirit.

• December 4, Carolina Theatre, Durham: I

know, sending you to Durham again, but this one’s too good to pass up — a double bill with Robert Earl Keen and Shinyribs. And this being REK’s “Countdown to Christmas” tour, I’m betting the show will end with the greatest Christmas tune ever written. Hint: Don’t forget the Salem Lights and the fake snow.

• December 7, Carolina Theatre: All right, I’m

making up for the Durham plug with this show in our own Showplace of the Carolinas. Our “Beautiful Star,” Laurelyn Dossett, put this Appalachian-esque Christmas show together several years ago and is reprising it this season. It’s called The Gathering, featuring her, Joe Newberry, April Verch and Mike Compton. Chillbumps guaranteed.

• December 11, Greensboro Coliseum: It’s

become such a cultural phenomenon that there are actually two interchangeable bands that tour separately during the holiday season. There is literally nothing like the Trans-Siberian Orchestra . . . well, except the other one.

• December 13, Ramkat: Back in the late-’90s when they were topping the charts, the Squirrel Nut Zippers recorded an album titled Christmas Caravan. Leader Jimbo Mathus has put together a re-imagined version of the Zips and is again doing the Caravan tour. Look for me on the front row. • December 31, Lucky 32: It’s a show none

of us thought possible, and it may never happen again, but the top-drawing act (by far) in L32 history, Graymatter, has reunited for this one extra-special, four-hour show. Trust me, several cups o’ kindness will be taken. December 2019

O.Henry 19


Featured Artist


Richard Fennell: Capturing Life



he sky is so blue,” says Richard Fennell of his Ashe County mountain retreat that inspired a series of oil paintings, House at Flat Ridge (left), House Mid-Day and House Afternoon (above), on view, along with their pastel studies at GreenHill’s 40th exhibition of 100-some North Carolina artists, Winter Show 2019, (December 8 through January 17, 2020). From his student days at ECU through postgraduate work at UNCG to his studio in Whitsett, painting has been an endless quest to capture “life” through brilliant color. “I’m using color as a tool to reconstruct the topography,” he says. Fennell, who started out as a sculptor, adopted abstract techniques — here the frothy brushstrokes recreating the grass and trees in the foreground — combined with the clearly defined lines of the houses. “I’m still, after all these years, interested in the reality of the thing. I can’t completely divorce myself from it,” the artist says. Nor can viewers completely divorce themselves from looking upon his canvases, practically feeling the tall grass brush against their legs, as it sways gently in a cool autumn breeze — in a word, life. But Fennell admits, “You never really get it completely. You get close to it, you keep trying.” — Nancy Oakley Info: greenhillnc.org The Art & Soul of Greensboro

December 2019

O.Henry 21

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rom 2007 to 2012, Scott Fray and Madelyn Greco produced an original multimedia play, Awake the White and Wint’ry Queen. Now, after a seven-year hiatus, the couple, known collectively as Livingbrush Bodypainting, is remounting the play at the Van Dyke Performance Space December 20 and 21, which — not coincidentally — is the weekend of the Winter Solstice. In a nutshell, the play is a celebration of the longest night of the year and the return of the light. The thread woven through the story is the passing of the seasonal torch in search of the Wint’ry Queen. It is elaborately told through music, dance, costumes, bodypainting and an ever-changing video backdrop. Fray, who wrote the script and composed all the music, had intended for the play to go dark in 2012, the year the Mayan calendar ended. But last year, after several cast members performed some of the musical numbers in the show, he realized that a revamping was in order. “People who are familiar with the storyline will recognize it,” he says, “but we’ve streamlined it and pared it down from around 40 people to 20.” Technology and a new orchestral backdrop provide more with less: “The idea was to create more richness and depth while retaining the essence of the story.” Otherwise, you can expect to see Fray and Greco, multiple-time, international champions in bodypainting, playing another role as roving goodwill ambassadors for their chosen art form. Since bringing the Livingart North American Bodypainting Championship from Atlanta to Greensboro and winning the Betty Cone Medal of the Arts two years ago, they’ve been quite busy as advocates for art and cosmetic products. Greco, in fact, organized a bodypainting component for the Arnold Schwarzenegger Sports Festival, held at various sites around the world. The result is the Jan Tana Bodypainting Revolution, which has taken the pair to various points on the globe in conjunction with “The Arnold.” The addition of locations as far away as Norway and Australia warms the heart of this wint’ry queen of bodypainting. “I’m enormously grateful,” Greco says with a smile. “But mostly I’m incredulous.”— Ogi Overman Tickets to Awake the White and Wint’ry Queen are available through etix.com

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

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Life’s Funny

Saving Some Dough The Life and Times of UNCG’s Bindery Doughnut

By Maria Johnson

As everyone knows,

2020 promises to be a big year in Greensboro, owing to celebrations of the cultural touchstone that has finally put our city on the map.

I speak, of course, of the Bindery Doughnut, which marks its 40th anniversary in November. The doughnut, a icon of durability, resides in the basement bindery of UNCG’s Jackson Library, which I visited recently. I was greeted warmly by preservation specialist Audrey Sage, who explained just what the heck they do in a bindery, namely fix broken book spines, install new covers, and mend brittle pages with delicate Japanese paper and rice-based paste. I found the last part interesting because it involved carbohydrates and allowed me to say, “Soooo, about the doughnut . . .” Audrey pointed behind me and said, “It’s right there.” I whirled around, and sure enough, there it was, resting on a bed of black velvet, inside a glass box on a wooden table. Oh. I’d walked right past it, probably because I was expecting a regulation size doughnut. This thing looked like an overgrown Cheerio. It was dry and stoney, with little flakes of doughnut dandruff at its shoulders, and a few visible dings. In other words, the Bindery Doughnut looked very middle-aged. Naturally, it wasn’t always so. Audrey recalled that in 1980, it was a plump young cake doughnut, one of a couple of dozen brought in from Dunkin’ Donuts for a staff orientation. At the end of the session, a lone doughnut remained. Apparently, no one wanted to be a hog and eat the last one. I was astounded at this detail because I hang out with writers, and we don’t have that problem. Anyway, Audrey explained that the bindery workers — who were clearly more starved for entertainment than food — hung the surviving doughnut on wires that formed a makeshift antenna for an old radio. Presto! Reception of the college radio station improved immediately. Mystical powers were attributed to the doughnut. Even when the old radio was replaced, the doughnut was kept as a talisman and conversation piece. If you’ve ever worked in a windowless office, you understand. For five years, the doughnut dangled above the fray, a crystallized symbol of wholeness (holeness?) above the broken spines, and delaminated covers and silverfish damage below. Then, one day, a student accidentally bumped into it, and the doughnut plunged to the linoleum floor. The Art & Soul of Greensboro

“Everyone was astonished when it clinked on the floor like a piece of stoneware,” according to a doughnut history penned by former library employee Jack Stratton. “It remained intact except for one small sliver that chipped off.” Word of the doughnut’s invincibility spread. Supporters founded a club, Friends of the Doughnut, with a membership card and a secret handshake. Bindery staffers started throwing a party for the doughnut every five years. Haiku and limerick contests were held in its honor. There once was a doughnut uneaten, Dunkin, a round and quite sweet ’un. Avoiding the teeth, The tongue and beneath, It never became an excretin. That jewel was penned by Jim Thompson, who for years shared doughnut duty with his colleague Stratton. Audrey joined the bindery guard in 1991. She helped throw a blowout party (by library standards) in the year 2000, when the doughnut had survived two decades. Newspapers wrote about the hullabaloo, and wire services picked up the stories. Radio interviews ensued. A syndicated cartoon feature, Ripley’s Believe It or Not, hailed the 20-year-old doughnut in a vignette that appeared above a drawing of Pope John Paul II, who had been named an honorary member of the Harlem Globetrotters. THE DOUGHNUT WAS BILLED ABOVE THE POPE! Also, The Chronicle of Higher Education did a story on the doughnut. Some said it was the most ink the journal had spilled on UNCG up to that point. “I’m sure that made some people mad,” said Audrey. Bow to the pastry, killjoys. After the accident with student, the doughnut was enshrined on a velvet throne. Later, Audrey went to a hobby store and bought a glass case suitable for displaying basketballs and petrified snacks. That’s where the doughnut rests today, in a temperature- and humiditycontrolled room, which may explain how it has lasted all these years. That, and whatever preservatives were mixed into the dough 40 years ago. Occasionally, when students venture into the bindery on tours or scavenger hunts, Audrey and her coworkers show them the doughnut and point out that, nutritionally speaking, it might not be a great idea to eat sweets with a half-life similar to that of uranium. I take their point. On the other hand, if you want to last another four decades, with the main side effect being shrinkage . . . OH Follow the 40th anniversary of the Bindery Doughnut on its Instagram account, binderydoughnut. Maria Johnson can be reached at almost any Dunkin’ Donuts outlet or ohenrymaria@gmail.com.

December 2019

O.Henry 25



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Fight the Good Fight and Keep the Faith The political saga of a father and son

By D.G. Martin

Anyone who wants to master

North Carolina political history must try to understand how Kerr Scott, elected North Carolina’s governor in 1948, could be both a liberal and a segregationist. Two books that can help are The Political Career of W. Kerr Scott: The Squire from Haw River, by retired University of Florida professor Julian Pleasants; and The Rise and Fall of the Branchhead Boys, by former News & Observer political reporter and columnist Rob Christensen.

Pleasants chronicles the exceptional life of Kerr Scott, who was governor from 1949 until 1953 and U.S. senator from 1954 until his death in 1958. Scott, a dairy farmer from Alamance County, won election as commissioner of agriculture in 1936. In 1948, after using that office as a launching pad, he resigned and mounted a campaign for governor. He beat the favored candidate of the conservative wing of the party in the Democratic primary, which in those days was tantamount to election. Once in office, Scott pushed programs of road paving, public school improvement and expansion of government services. Hard-working and hard-headed, plain and direct spoken, he appointed women and African-Americans to government positions. Future governors Terry Sanford and Jim Hunt were inspired by his success. Hunt said, “If not for Kerr Scott I would never have run for governor. My family viewed Scott as our political savior . . . He improved our roads, our schools, and our health care.” Scott’s commitment to common people, fair treatment for African-Americans, skepticism and antagonism toward banks, utilities and big business, and a prolabor platform earned him a liberal reputation that was praised in the national media. In 1949, he appointed Frank Porter Graham, the popular and liberal president of the University of North Carolina, to fill a vacant seat in U.S. Senate. When Graham lost to conservative Willis Smith in the next election, Scott resolved to run against Smith in 1954 to avenge Graham’s loss and reassert the power of the liberal wing of the party. When Smith died in office and Governor William Umstead appointed Alton Lennon, a conservative, to the seat, Scott ran against him in 1954 and won. In the Senate, his liberalism did not extend to racial desegregation. He joined with other Southerners in Congress to fight against civil rights legislation. He signed the infamous 1956 Southern Manifesto, which urged resistance to the The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision requiring the elimination of school segregation. Scott died in office in 1958, leaving open the question of whether he would have won re-election in 1960. Missing from Pleasants’ excellent book is the story of the entire Scott family and its role in North Carolina political life. Christensen takes up that task. He follows the Alamance County farm family beginning with Kerr Scott’s grandfather, Henderson, and his father, “Farmer Bob.” Both were active in statewide farmers’ organizations. Christensen’s important contribution to the Scott family saga is his account of the political career of Kerr’s son, Bob. Born in 1929, Bob grew up on Kerr’s dairy farm. Like his father, he became active in farm organizations and worked in political campaigns, including Terry Sanford’s 1960 successful race for governor. By 1964, at age 35, he was ready to mount a statewide campaign for lieutenant governor. But two senior Democrats, state Sen. John Jordan and House Speaker Clifton Blue, were already running. Christensen writes, “In some ways Scott had broken into the line.” Nevertheless, with the help of powerful county political machines, he won a squeaker victory in a primary runoff over Blue. Bob Scott used his new office to run for the next one, giving hundreds of speeches each year, and he won the 1968 Democratic nomination over conservative Mel Broughton and African-American dentist Reginald Hawkins. The results of the 1968 presidential contest in North Carolina marked what Christensen calls “the breakup of the Democratic Party.” Richard Nixon won; George Wallace was second; and Hubert Humphrey was third. Nevertheless, in the governor’s race, Scott faced and beat Republican Jim Gardner. Mountains of bitter controversies in the areas of race, labor, student unrest and higher education administration were to confront Bob Scott after he became governor of North Carolina in 1969. As governor, Scott followed his father’s tradition of inviting friends to “possum dinners” with the main possum course accompanied with “barbecued spareribs, black-eyed peas, collard greens, bean soup with pig tails, corn bread, and persimmon pudding.” Christensen writes, “Scott may not have been the populist of his father, but he brought a common-man approach to Raleigh.” But times had changed. College campuses were erupting. Black anger was spilling into the streets. Historian Martha Blondi wrote that 1969 marked the “high water mark of the black student movement.” Christensen writes, “During his first six months in office, Scott called out the National Guard nine times to deal with civil unrest.” In March, he sent more than 100 highway patrolmen to Chapel Hill to break a food worker strike and force the reopening of the student cafeteria, overruling the actions of UNC’s president, William Friday, and the chancellor, Carlyle December 2019

O.Henry 27

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December 2019

Sitterson. This action and similar strong measures against student-led disorders earned Scott praise by television commentator Jesse Helms and many others in the white community, “but he got different reviews from the black community.” Although he appointed the first black District and Superior Court judges, his pace of minority hiring and appointments was roundly criticized. Increased desegregation of public schools resulted in more disruption. Speaking about the 1971–72 school year, Scott said, “Many schools were plagued by unrest, tension, hostility, fear, disturbances, disruptions, hooliganisms, violence and destruction.” In response to disturbances relating to school desegregation in 1971, Scott sent highway patrolmen and National Guard troops to Wilmington. Conflict there led to arrests, trials and prison sentences for the group of protesters who became known as the Wilmington Ten. Bob Scott’s stormy relations with President Friday continued as Scott “decided to undertake the reorganization of higher education as his political swansong.” His proposal to bring all 16 four-year institutions under one 32-person board was adopted by the legislature. Scott expected the new organization would eliminate or minimize Friday’s role. But Friday became president of the reorganized 16-campus system and led it until 1986. Summing up Bob Scott’s time in office, Christensen writes that his legacy is “far murkier” than his father’s, in part because the state was “less rural, less poor, more Republican, and more torn by societal dissent, whether civil rights, Vietnam, or the counterculture.” Both Terry Sanford and Jim Hunt acknowledged their connection to Kerr Scott. But Bob Scott never bonded with either of them. The breach with Hunt became a public battle when Bob Scott challenged the incumbent Gov. Hunt in the 1980 Democratic primary. Scott was angry because Hunt had not supported his ambition to be appointed president of the community college system. Scott lost the primary to Hunt by a humiliating 70–29 percent margin. Ironically, in 1983, when the community college presidency opened up again, Bob Scott won the job and served with distinction until his retirement in 1995. Bob Scott died in 2009 and was buried at the Hawfields Presbyterian Church near the graves of his father and grandfather. Kerr Scott’s tombstone reads, “I Have Fought a Good Fight . . . I Have Kept the Faith.” Bob’s reads, “He Also Fought a Good Fight and Kept the Faith.” OH D.G. Martin hosts North Carolina Bookwatch Sunday at 11 a.m. and Tuesday at 5 p.m. on UNC-TV. The program also airs on the North Carolina Channel Tuesday at 8 p.m. To view prior programs go to http:// video.unctv.org/show/nc-bookwatch/episodes/. The Art & Soul of Greensboro

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O.Henry 29




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30 O.Henry

December 2019

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Scuppernong Bookshelf

Holidays Are Not Just for Children Some Surprising Books for Adults

Compiled by Brian Lampkin

Book people can be difficult. They pret-

ty much acquire the books they need with no regard for the impending holiday season, so you’re left with nothing literary to get them to show how much you care about their reading life. Below are a few holiday-related books that just might be off the radar of a well-read book lover. Or perhaps there’s a forgotten gem or two to reinspire an old love.

Rock Crystal, Adalbert Stifter (Author), Marianne Moore (Translator), Elizabeth Mayer (Translator), W. H. Auden (Introduction) (NY Review of Books, $12.95). Seemingly the simplest of stories — a passing anecdote of village life — Rock Crystal opens up into a tale of almost unendurable suspense. This jewel-like novella by the writer that Thomas Mann praised as “one of the most extraordinary, the most enigmatic, the most secretly daring and the most strangely gripping narrators in world literature” is among the most unusual, moving and memorable of Christmas stories. Pretty Paper, by Willie Nelson with Dave Ritz (Blue Rider, $23). For over 50 years, Willie Nelson has wondered about the life story of the legless man who sold wrapping paper to customers on the street in front of a downtown department store in Fort Worth. This seller of “pretty paper” inspired Willie’s classic Christmas song, and now, with a leap of imagination, the singer/songwriter tells the tale of Tom Winthrop. I too thought this was a book on holidaythemed rolling papers. Yuletide in Dixie: Slavery, Christmas, and Southern Memory, by Robert E. May (University of Virginia, $34.95). We don’t get to shut off our brains or ignore history just because it’s the holiday season. How did enslaved African Americans in the Old South really experience Christmas? Did Christmastime provide slaves with a lengthy and jubilant respite from labor and the whip, as is generally assumed, or is the story far more complex and troubling? In this provocative, revisionist and sometimes chilling account, Robert E. May chides the conventional

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

wisdom for simplifying black perspectives, uncritically accepting Southern white literary tropes about the holiday, and overlooking evidence not only that countless Southern whites passed Christmases fearful that their slaves would revolt but also that slavery’s most punitive features persisted at holiday time. Holidays On Ice, by David Sedaris (Back Bay, $12.99). Sedaris’ recent soldout appearance at the Carolina Theatre reminds us all that he’s a much-loved institution in North Carolina. This 2010 update has six new pieces and is written especially for those left quite queasy about the syrupy emotions of the holiday season. Hercule Poirot’s Christmas, by Agatha Christie (William Morrow, $29.99). Every year it’s impossible to find the right book for Aunt June or Uncle Beasley. But 2019, is different. They love English mysteries, they love the classics, they have even forgiven you for last year’s debacle of the gift of the adult coloring book. Who knew that they made “adult” coloring books? Agatha is never a misstep. How to Spell Chanukah . . . and Other Holiday Dilemmas:18 Writers Celebrate 8 Nights of Lights, essays by Jonathan Tropper, Jennifer Gilmore, Steve Almond, Joanna Smith Rakoff, Adam Langer and others. (Algonquin, $13.95). Whether your Chanukahs were spent singing “I have a Little Dreidel” or playing the “Maoz Tzur” on the piano, whether your family tradition included a Christmas tree or a Chanukah bush, whether the fights among your siblings over who would light the menorah candles rivaled the battles of the Maccabees, or even if you haven’t a clue who the Maccabees were, this little book proves there are as many ways to celebrate Chanukah as there are ways to spell it. You Better Not Cry: Stories for Christmas, by Augusten Burroughs (Picador, $16). At 8 years old, Augusten Burroughs profoundly misunderstood the meaning of Christmas. Now proving himself once more “a master of making tragedy funny” (The Miami Herald), he shows how the holidays can bring out the worst in us and sometimes, just sometimes, the very best. From the author described in USA Today as “one of the most compelling and screamingly funny voices of the new century,” comes a book about surviving the holiday we love to hate, and hate to love. Sex Position Coloring Book: Playtime for Couples (Hollan Publishing, $15.95). Who knew indeed. OH Brian Lampkin is one of the proprietors of Scuppernong Books. December 2019

O.Henry 31

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The Chainsaw Saga By Clyde Edgerton

I am groggy (after a nap) when, chainsaw in hand, I


head for the small, dead tree in the yard adjoining our yard. My neighbor has asked me to cut it down — and I’m always looking for an excuse to use our trusty chainsaw. My youngest son, age 14, is with me. This is a good parent-child bonding opportunity. Had my daughter been around — same.

One thing I can teach my children is that old Boy Scout motto: Be Prepared. Gas and chain oil are nearby, as well as a spare chain. “See, I’m prepared,” I say to my son. As we walk up to the tree, I set the toggle switch to “choke,” pull the crank cord, reset the toggle switch to normal, pull the cord again. “Wang-wang.” It’s running. Sweet. My son points to the chainsaw. Covering the chainsaw bar and chain is a lightweight orange plastic sleeve — a safety cover. I’ve forgotten to remove it. I haven’t even seen it. The sleeve is there for a reason: The bare chain, with the engine off, is sharp enough cut you. You are, of course, supposed to take that plastic cover off before cranking the engine, but being groggy from my nap, I’d been . . . well, groggy from my nap. I’d forgotten. When I grab the sleeve to remove it, I do not realize that the engine is idling at a good clip and thus the chain is rotating rapidly. In less than a second, I pinch the plastic just enough for the rotating chain to 1) engage the sleeve; 2) cut through it and into my middle finger; and 3) shoot the plastic sleeve off the chain. It lands about 20 feet away. I look at my finger, look away, and manage to quickly cut off the chainsaw and place it on the ground. I look at my finger again. The cut, just above that first joint, is deep, and jagged, and I see something white. The skin is kind of like a large flap, if you know what I mean. I am not prepared for this. But while in pain — during this emergency — I’ll be a role model for my son. Isn’t there another part of the Boy Scout motto somewhere that says Be Brave or Be Calm or something like that? My son walks over and I show him. Blood is flowing. Normally, I would be able to deliver a lecture: “Be prepared: thick gloves, removal of chain sleeve.” But now that’s out the window, I’ll Be Brave and Calm. I’ll be a role model. My wife is not at home, so my oldest son, 16, with a driver’s permit, will have to take me to Urgent Care or the Emergency Room. He calls Urgent Care. They are open. We will go there — and avoid a long wait, perhaps. I’m in the car and my oldest son is driving. The youngest decided to sit out this next part. I’m holding my right hand up, my left providing towel pressure on that middle finger to stanch the bleeding. “What happened?” he says. I tell him. He says, “Aren’t you supposed to . . . ” “Yes,” I say.

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

We are at an intersection. “Which way?” he asks. I tell him. We are at another intersection. “Which way?” he asks. I tell him. This happens a few times. We finally park and walk into the large Urgent Care waiting room. Ah! It’s empty! What luck. We walk over to the little window. The receptionist smiles, then sees blood. “Oh, my goodness,” she says. “Can I get your insurance card and an ID?” With my good hand I reach for my billfold. Back left pocket. The pocket is empty. “Forgot my billfold,” I say. I’m sure my smile doesn’t mask the deep pain in my eyes. “Can I go get it after my finger is sewed up?” I ask. “My son has a permit only, and I’d have to ride back with him home to get my billfold. And then back here.” “I’m sorry sir. We can’t treat you if we don’t have an ID and insurance information.” We are at an intersection. “Which way?” he asks. I tell him. “How could you forget your wallet?” he asks. I don’t answer. Then I say, “It’s a billfold.” “Not these days, Dad.” We are at an intersection. “Which way?” he asks. “Straight ahead. Then right at the stop light.” “I can’t believe you forgot your wallet,” he says. Not only will I stay calm and brave, I will be humble. I retrieve the billfold. When we get back to Urgent Care, six people sit in the waiting area — honest — with two standing at the window. About a half-hour later, I’m in a room waiting for the doctor. My son is with me. I want him to see my calmness. The doctor comes and explains that getting stitches means you must lie down on the patient table, so that you can’t watch and faint. So OK. To deaden my finger before the stitches go in, the doctor will give me a couple of shots. It’s a very long needle. The very long needle will be inserted all the way into the joint on one side of my middle knuckle. I tell myself to stay calm. The needle goes in. I scream. Then, “What the hell,” I say. That kind of pain has to be rare. The needle is then inserted into the joint on the other side of my middle knuckle. I scream again. In about 10 minutes six stitches go in. No pain. As I prepare to return a couple of weeks later for stitches removal, I don’t ask my sons or daughter to go with me to the doctor for any role model stuff. They’ve learned enough from Papadaddy. Be prepared. Be brave. Be calm. OH Clyde Edgerton is the author of 10 novels, a memoir and most recently, Papadaddy’s Book for New Fathers. He is the Thomas S. Kenan III Distinguished Professor of Creative Writing at UNCW. December 2019

O.Henry 33


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The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Drinking with Writers

The Long Road to Overnight Success

From poet to publisher, Emily Smith makes her mark with Lookout Books

By Wiley Cash • Photographs by Mallory Cash

I first met Emily Smith in September 2010

at the annual conference of the Southern Independent Booksellers’ Alliance in Charleston, South Carolina. She was there with a Spartanburg publisher called Hub City Books, which was releasing a poetry collection by Ron Rash. Emily had designed the collection’s cover. A year later, I saw Emily again, but this time I saw her photograph online: She was attending an awards dinner in New York City, where a book she had published was a The Art & Soul of Greensboro

finalist for the National Book Award in fiction. A lot had happened in the intervening year.

The book Emily had published was Binocular Vision: New and Selected Stories, by Edith Pearlman, a short story writer in her 70s who had long been a favorite of the literati, while never breaking through to a larger, critical audience. Pearlman’s book was the first to be released by Lookout Books, a publishing imprint housed in the Publishing Laboratory inside the University of North Carolina Wilmington’s creative writing department. Emily, along with editor emeritus Ben George, published Pearlman’s book as Lookout’s first release. The book would go on to be nominated for a number of prizes, and it would later win the National Book Critics Circle Award. It was quite the debut for a small press. Publishers Weekly called it a “knockout start,” and Ron Charles of The Washington Post praised Lookout’s release as “one of the most auspicious publishing launches in history.” December 2019

O.Henry 35

Drinking with Writers There are centuries-old publishing houses in New York City that would kill for a single season’s title to receive the acclaim that Binocular Vision received, but there are simply too many bottles and not enough lightning. Or perhaps there is only one Emily Smith, and her journey from advertising executive to publisher of acclaimed books is perhaps as rare as the aforementioned glass-encased lightning. In early November, Emily took a break from promoting the most recent Lookout title, This Is My Body: A Memoir of Religious and Romantic Obsession, by Cameron Dezen Hammon, to sit down with me over coffee at Social Coffee and Supply Co. on Wrightsville Avenue in Wilmington. It was a cool fall morning, and Emily and I found seats by the bright windows just inside the front door. Our conversation turned toward the first time we met in Charleston back in the fall of 2010. “I’d gotten to know the folks at Hub City because I was their inaugural writer-inresidence,” she says. “I went there as a poet, but part of the residency had me working 20 hours per week for the press.” “What were you doing before that?” I ask. “I’d been a graduate student at UNC Wilmington,” she says, “and I’d worked in the Publishing Laboratory here, which I now run.”

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December 2019

But her experience in design and marketing, as well as her ability to network and build relationships, predates her time as a graduate student in Wilmington and writer-in-residence in Spartanburg. After finishing her undergraduate degree at Davidson, Emily spent several years in advertising at J. Walter Thompson in Atlanta. “We worked with big clients,” she says. “Ford Motor Company, 20th Century Fox, Domino’s Pizza. But I burned out. I knew it wasn’t what I wanted to do.” She left Atlanta and returned to Davidson, where she worked in the Advancement office, forging relationships with alumni and the community, and raising money for the university. But something was steering her toward writing, and she enrolled as a poetry student in the MFA program at UNC Wilmington. After finishing her degree and serving as the writer-in-residence at Hub City in Spartanburg, she returned to Wilmington as the interim director of the Publishing Laboratory in 2007. In her role as interim director, Emily found a distributor to ensure that the Publishing Lab’s titles were sold beyond the campus and outside of Wilmington. When a national search began for the permanent director, Emily decided to apply. “I thought, it would be silly not to try for this after doing this job for a year,” she says. She got the job and

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Drinking with Writers

forged a dynamic partnership with Ben George, who at the time served as editor of Ecotone, the university’s national literary magazine. The two joined forces to found Lookout Books, which they envisioned as a literary imprint dedicated to publishing women, debut writers, and overlooked work by established authors. “Ben came to UNCW with a reputation as a meticulous, thoughtful editor,” Emily says. “And I knew the other side of the business. I had an advertising and marketing background. I knew the design part from working at Hub City. I knew how to work as a small press and handle distribution.” After the success of Edith Pearlman’s Binocular Vision, Lookout Books quickly garnered national attention, and the press has consistently delivered critically acclaimed and award-winning books by both established and debut authors. I ask Emily about the press’s current release, This Is My Body, by Cameron Dezen Hammon. “It’s the story of someone who grew up culturally Jewish and then converted to evangelical Christianity post-9/11,” she says. “9/11 was a time in which everyone and everything felt spiritual, and Cameron was caught up in it. She converted and moved with her musician boyfriend to Houston, where they performed music at an evangelical church.” The longer she stayed in the church the more she found herself caught up in a misogynistic culture that limited her to a gender role that defined both her faith and spiritual talents. “It’s a story of seeking something and discovering something else,” Emily says. I cannot help but think about Emily doing the same, setting out on a search that took her from advertising executive in Atlanta to graduate student in Wilmington to writer-in-residence in Spartanburg and back to Wilmington, where she would publish titles that would make Lookout Books an overnight literary sensation. OH Wiley Cash lives in Wilmington with his wife and their two daughters. His latest novel, The Last Ballad, is available wherever books are sold.

The Art & Soul of Greensboro


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O.Henry 37

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38 O.Henry

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The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Life of Jane

An Old-Fashi ned Holiday

Nothing like bourbon and bitters to foster peace on Earth, goodwill toward all By Jane Borden

When I order an Old Fashioned at a


fancy cocktail lounge, I sometimes receive straight bourbon with a dash of bitters in it and a sliver of orange peel hanging perilously off the glass. That is not an Old Fashioned. That is straight bourbon with bitters in it and a sliver of orange peel hanging perilously off the glass. And that will make me breathe fire. Even the original Old Fashioned recipe, dating to 1806, included sugar and water. Anyway, it’s not 1806 anymore. Why do fancy bars insist on making everything as intense and extreme as possible? Drinking is not the X Games. Or, at least, it hasn’t been since freshman year at Carolina. One should not need a helmet and kneepads to enter a bar. And you’ll be no safer drinking beer at these establishments. Their wide selections range from double-hops IPAs that are 13 percent alcohol to triple-hops IPAs served with a punch in the face. God forbid you respond to that glass of bitters-spiked whiskey by asking for a cherry or a splash of OJ or anything to help you forget you’re drinking poison and probably shouldn’t. For if you do, the bartender will give you a look suggesting that instead of imbibing in his establishment, you should be ruminating over the reasons you are a Gap-clothes-wearing, eggnog-latte-drinking, scentedcandle-burning basic-ass bitch. Oh yeah?! Well!!! Guess what?! The Gap makes quality, affordable clothes. My point is I don’t want to be shamed by people on cultural high horses — which, let’s be honest, is why Conservatives hate Liberals, so maybe if Liberals would stop calling Conservatives “bad people,” then Conservatives would stop trying to punish Liberals and instead listen to them. *Cough* Where was I? Whiskey. The great unifier! Let’s all come together in the name of the Old Fashioned. In the spirit of that message, fine, if you want to call straight bourbon with a dash of bitters an Old Fashioned, then you’re welcome in my tent too. But only if you also recognize these three recipes as canon. THE BOB BORDEN HOLIDAY MAKER Obviously I made up that title. My father would never name a drink that. Nevertheless, this cocktail, when drunk, will make any day a jolly holiday. Dad doesn’t remember exactly when he developed the recipe, but it was sometime in Greensboro, after he and Mom married but before I was born, so it was probThe Art & Soul of Greensboro

ably . . . let’s just say he doesn’t know. “Old Fashioneds ought to be strong, sweet and redolent of bitters,” he says. In his case, they are also made with precision and love. Ingredients 2 oz. + bourbon (Makers Mark or Woodford, if possible, but George Dickel Tennessee whiskey is always invited 2 oz. + soda water (i.e. the same amount as the bourbon) 4–5 dashes Angostura bitters (yes, that’s a lot) 1 cured orange slice* (“I like a bite of orange with a sip,” Dad suggests.) 1 maraschino cherry (“Preferably with the stem, so you can fish it out,“ he says.) 4 tsp. orange syrup* 1 tsp. maraschino-cherry syrup from the jar * See below for recipe Orange-syrup recipe (in his own words) “The selection of oranges is more critical than one would think. I like to pick pretty ones. Thin-skinned if I can find them and without blemishes. Big oranges. I use navel so I don’t have to fiddle with the seeds.” “I wash them with my hands and a little soap.” “Then, slice them from pole to pole, not around the equator. I think they look prettier that way.” “Put the oranges in a pot and add simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water) to cover them.” “Boil on low heat for 30–45 minutes — and cover the pot — because it takes the bitterness out of the peel.” “Spoon slices and syrup into jars and refrigerate. I have several frozen jars of orange syrup that I thaw out when I want to use.” “I’m blowing this out of proportion. After all it’s nothing but a drink.” (Editorial note: Oh yeah? Ask any of his neighbors or friends.) Directions Fill an Old Fashioned glass with ice Add all ingredients Spread joy THE MUDDLER If you don’t have the time or bandwidth to cure orange slices in advance, conDecember 2019

O.Henry 39

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December 2019


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The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Life of Jane

sider this lesser version of the Bob Borden Holiday Maker, which I developed during my days as an amateur (and at one point professional) bartender, by which I mean, my 30s.

Ingredients 1 thick, half-moon orange slice 1 maraschino cherry (I prefer the fancy, dark-purple variety) 1 sugar cube 3 dashes Angostura bitters 2 oz. + bourbon


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Directions Place orange, cherry, sugar cube, bitters and a splash of the bourbon in a cocktail shaker. Muddle vigorously for longer than seems necessary. You want the sugar to dissolve, and you want to get not only juice from the orange but also oil from the rind. Sing a song to pass the time. Add remaining bourbon — plus a little more because you’re in training for New Year’s Eve — and fill 3/4 full with ice. Shake vigorously for longer than seems necessary. You want much of that ice to melt, since you are not adding additional water or soda. Turn the shaking into choreography for the song you‘re singing. Strain shaker into a rocks glass on top of one of those square, oversized, casually effete ice cubes. Garnish with another cherry and orange slice. No reason to stop singing and dancing now. POOR MAN’S OLD FASHIONED This drink’s name derives from the ease of making it, not the price tag. When you’re surprised by thirsty guests, if you have these nonperishable ingredients on hand, you’ll always have an Old Fashioned–inspired option at the ready. Also, though, if you drink too many, you will wind up poor.

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Jane Borden won’t be able to return to her native Greensboro for Christmas this year so she’ll spread Bob Borden Holiday Makers all over Los Angeles. The Art & Soul of Greensboro

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O.Henry 41

The Pleasures of Life Dept.

Lifting up Voices — and Lives The Burlington Boys Choir celebrates its 60th anniversary

By Grant Britt

They have the voices of angels, regaling

listeners with heavenly treatments of classical compositions. But this celestial choir is earthbound, with the will and attention span of little boys. For 60 years, the Burlington Boys Choir has been making vocal angels out of young males under the age of 9, “the magic age,” says Director Bill Allred, “because they’re really starting to think independently, and those are the boys who are ready to begin reading music off a page.”

It takes a certain type of boy, he says, to go the distance. Michael Stone is the choir’s newest member. At the age of 9, he’s prepared to take on the challenges of the choir’s activities, which include hours of rehearsal, learning to sing in foreign languages as well as traveling to perform. Michael says he was recommended by his school’s elementary music and choir teacher Mrs. Schmidt to try out for the boys choir. He rates his favorite activities as singing in school, boys choir, art, and Pokémon. Former choirboy Chauncey Patterson, a Burlington resident whose viola skills have taken him all over the world, says the choir changed his life. “The Boy’s choir was such a huge part of my early life, I still think about it to this day even though I’ve had so many other things to do, but it really was life-shaping for me, and career shaping, ultimately for me.” It’s difficult to accomplish in this overscheduled day and age, with its myriad electronic distractions, but Allred says once he does get new musical recruits, retaining them “is not a problem.” For a stint in the Burlington Boys Choir is nothing short of a transforming experience. “It was easy to focus — we rehearsed Monday, Wednesday and Friday, as I recall, and I think on Saturday mornings, four rehearsals a week, so we were pretty focused. That was what we did, that was our life, really,” Patterson says. “We went to

42 O.Henry

December 2019

school. I took viola lessons, and later on I started playing tennis and that sort of thing. But the Boy’s Choir, while I was in it . . . it was my life.” The choir is a vision realized by founder and director Eva Wiseman, a dynamo from Spencer, N.C., who, with a degree in music education from Spartanburg, S.C., and a master’s in voice from Columbia University in New York City, landed in Alamance County in the late 1930s as the Burlington City Schools’ director of music. After attending a concert of the renowned Vienna Boys Choir at Elon College, she was inspired to channel her boundless energy toward a new mission and founded the Burlington Boys’ Choir in 1959, now the oldest one of its kind in North Carolina. (The contenders, Durham Boys’ Choir is 30, and the Raleigh Boys’ Choir is 51 years old.) Over a period of 35 years, Wiseman trained some 500 young voices, teaching them, not only the intricacies of choral music, but also discipline and life lessons, while establishing a respected national and international reputation for the group. Under her guidance, the choir performed 400 concerts throughout the United States and Europe, some for statesmen and presidents, as Patterson recalls: “We went to Europe in the Boy’s Choir; that was my first time,” he says. “I was in the first choir that went to the White House to sing for Nixon in the early ’70s. We sang for the lighting of the Christmas tree.” Patterson was that “magic age,” 8 years old, when he was accepted into the Boys Choir. “I was at Sellars Gunn Elementary school there back before the school system had been desegregated, and the music teacher called me out of my class to come in and see a woman and sing for her, “She asked me to match notes on the piano,” he remembers. “I didn’t know anything about it, not even sure my parents knew anything about it at this point. And I sang for this woman, and that’s how it all started.” Wiseman — and early on in his tenure as director, Allred, too — had the advantage of recruiting boys through the Alamance public schools. Allred used to visit five or six schools in a week and see 100 to 150 kids, in good times culling as many as 20 from the bunch for the three-month choir-training process. But nowadays, very few recommendations are made, and from that, few people actually come to the choir. “It’s very tough,” Allred says. The Art & Soul of Greensboro

The Pleasures of Life Dept. “Thank goodness for the Internet, if a boy has an interest in singing, their parents get online and they go, ‘Oh look, there’s this choir!’ So we’re still there, but we’re much smaller than we used to be. That kind of recruiting just isn’t working anymore, although I still try to do it,” he says. Michael Stone didn’t take much recruiting. “He always loved and has been interested in music, his mom Stephanie says. “Everybody in the family loves to sing, and the family has always been sort of involved in music. He’s always liked performing and just music in general and all of art, painting and drawing and anything musical.” Chauncey Patterson was another who benefited from exposure to music during his formative years. “My mom told me much later in my musical career that my dad played Beethoven’s 5th in my nursery for the first two weeks of my life. So I don’t know whether it sank in, or it was something I heard, but I always loved it,” he chuckles. And, as Allred notes, there are other reasons for sparking a boy’s interest early, if not in the nursery then by Kindergarten or first or second grade, “before they start doing soccer or whatever else their interest might be.” The director has had an idea for some time to start a young choir at a younger age because by the third grade, where he’s recruiting, a lot of them are already into sports or Boy Scouts.” Despite the difficulty, the current choir that Allred has assembled and directs with the aid of vocal coach/accompanist Woody (Woodson) Faulkner is impressive. At their 60th Anniversary Concert in May at Burlington’s Macedonia Lutheran Church, the 11-member Choir dazzled with an eclectic array of classical and folk music during the hour-long presentation. “I don’t do anything I don’t like,” Allred says. “I don’t like pop music, and some people have said over the years, ‘You can probably get more boys if you did stuff from the radio. It’s more fun.’ But I think they get exposed to that stuff plenty; I want to teach stuff they’re not going to hear and develop a taste for that kind of music and an appreciation for it.” But Allred’s disdain for pop doesn’t rule out some Old Broadway tunes: “Never new, ’cause I don’t like that,” he chuckles. “And always a selection of sacred classical as well as secular classical. That was the pattern Miss Wiseman set up for her concerts, sacred and secular, but it also followed a pattern that the Vienna Boys choir and others types of boys choirs in Europe do when they have a concert.” And just because it’s classical doesn’t mean it can’t inspire some laughter. The Bach piece the Choir performed, “Ich jauchze, Ich lache mit Schall,” which translates as Laughing and Shouting for Joy, sounds like a bit like a carousel, an oldThe Art & Soul of Greensboro

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O.Henry 43

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44 O.Henry

December 2019

time merry-go-round. “As I pointed out in the concert, that’s about laughing, so it should have a joyful quality and that laughing motive maybe comes out as a little jumpy and maybe that’s where that carousel image comes from,” Allred says. Whatever the motive, it still invokes smiles on audience members’ faces. “That’s exactly what Bach would have wanted, I think,” Allred says. Bach and his buddies would have also been proud of the influence that singing their music has had on the boys over the years. After the 11-member choir had made its presentations, Allred polled the audience for past members in attendance, starting with original 1959 members. By the time he finished the roll call, half the church was standing, and the Alumni choir — summoned up front to perform a couple of Irish Folk songs and an African Prayer with the Boys Choir — flooded the front of the church. “The distance in years is so great for us, our alumni, it was in their childhood, so the fact that there are some boys who consider it an important part of their life, even though it was way back, is very gratifying.” Patterson would be among the first to agree. “If you put it in a historical perspective, the late ’60s, early ’70s in Burlington, North Carolina, totally different racial atmosphere, social atmosphere.” His neighborhood was very segregated, and his life was very much centered around the African-American community. “It was a bit taboo among my friends to have white friends, which I looked at a little weird. So being in the boys choir, I was exposed to that at a very early age.” He credits Eva Wiseman, whom he describes as “this incredible force,” with imparting life lessons — “ how to tie a tie, how to dress, we learned to keep your shoes shined, it was really great molding, she taught us to be gentlemen.” He says that stayed with him for a long time. “To this day, certain things: manners, table etiquette – there’s a whole book we had with this stuff. When you got in the choir you got the handbook, it told you how to act, how to dress, when you traveled — how to address people, how to dress yourself, how to act in a restaurant, how to act in a person’s house — all sorts of things, it was terrific.” Concurrent with his entry into the Boys Choir, Patterson developed another musical interest — the viola — which he ultimately parlayed into performing at the Eastern Music Festival. The experience would launch his career, starting as the principal viola slot in the Denver Symphony and then the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. Patterson’s viola skills earned him a 15-year stint with the globetrotting Miami String Quartet. Currently residing in Miami, The Art & Soul of Greensboro

The Pleasures of Life Dept. the Burlington native now holds down the solo viola slot with the Florida Grand Opera, is the principal viola with the Palm Beach Symphony, is a member of the Nu Deco Ensemble in Miami, as well as an associate professor of chamber music at Lynn University Conservatory of Music in Boca Raton. As for Allred, he keeps battling to sustain the tradition that Wiseman started 60 years ago, though finances are tight. In years past, the Choir would perform 25 to 30 Sundays a year in church. Now people have other things to do on Sundays, and the Choir only sings in churches on Sunday once or twice a year. To counteract that, two years ago Allred started an annual Love Feast, a traditional Moravian service of readings and carols, with the Choir held on the 13th and 21st of December at Old Brick Church, 3699 Brick Church Road in Burlington.“It’s gotten to be very popular,” Allred says of the free event. “People are returning to it; it continues to grow as another way to keep the Boys Choir in front of the public and raise money for us.” He’s also been in talks with the Raleigh Boys Choir and Durham Boys Choir about holding a joint performance or starting a festival (no mean feat, considering that past directors of all three choirs once refused to have anything to do with one another). Keeping the choir in the public eye is not only about preserving musical tradition and an appreciation for the fine arts, but also as a living testimony to what a positive influence it has on young lives and keeps on giving — for a lifetime. “I like that he has an interest and he enjoys doing this- he’s mentioned how much he likes to sing and wants to continue to sing in the future,” Stephanie Stone says of son Michael’s involvement. “Any exposure to music, learning to read music, learning about pitch and control is obviously very valuable in that regard. And also working and performing in a group, you learn a lot of lessons working with others. I think that the camaraderie of that and the experience, getting on stage you learn a lot of lessons in performing together, learning music, and the experience as a whole.” Patterson still considers it the experience of a lifetime. “If it had not been for the Boys Choir, I might have played the viola but my life. . . I had such a head start with other kids because of the ear training and all the training and all the music I was exposed to at such an early age, it really gave me an advantage,” Patterson says. “It was wonderful. It changed my life.” OH

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Grant Britt is a Greensboro-based writer. He’s no choirboy. The Art & Soul of Greensboro

December 2019

O.Henry 45

Food for Thought

Christmas, Sweet and Savory

The spirit of the holidays begins in the kitchen. Cheese biscuits, gingerbread and garnet-hued poached pears are three simple yet festive ways to celebrate


By Jane Lear

he harried modern person looks to the winter holidays like someone slumped across a railroad track contemplating an oncoming train,” mused food writer Laurie Colwin more than 25 years ago. Her words resonate today amid the ever-increasing hype, and I, for one, refuse to get caught up in the fray. When it comes to feeding people, for instance, I tend to rely on a small repertoire of things I can pull together without too much fuss and which will make folks feel cherished. Cheese biscuits are at the top of my list. I’m using the word biscuits here in the British sense to mean crisp wafers, and it’s still fairly common parlance in Colonial cities. In fact, you’ll see a recipe for these cayenne-spiced nibblies (often in the form of cheese straws) in every community and Junior League cookbook published south of the Mason-Dixon Line. They’re standard fare at drinks parties, wedding receptions, and almost every other social occasion you can think of.

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December 2019

I’m very fond of how my mother served them, with soups and stews. Perhaps this was because the store-bought bread available at the time wasn’t particularly flavorful (a basic baguette or sourdough loaf was unattainable), or perhaps she wanted a change from baking powder biscuits or cornbread; I don’t know. But cheese biscuits are a great way to add a little savory richness, some finesse, to an everyday meal. One — just one, mind you — is also a civilized way to end an evening, along with a nightcap, or what some of us call a baby-doll. And cheese biscuits make a fabulous present. Even though it’s possible to buy every imaginable delicacy online these days, I think people are especially thrilled to open a gift that is homemade and almost profound in its plainness. And that is not something sweet. Southerners appreciate cheese biscuits because they know one can never have too big a stash. For expat Northerners, there is an element of surprise, and, once tasted, delight. “Where have these been all my life?” the recipients exclaim,

The Art & Soul of Greensboro


Food for Thought reaching into the tin for another. And cheese biscuits have legs — that is, real staying power. Not only are they good keepers, but you don’t get sick to death of looking at them, the way you do Christmas cookies. Face it: By early January, those cookies are so last year. Cheese biscuits are so simple to make that anyone, even a person who suffers from an extreme case of F.O.F. (Fear of Flour), can throw them together without thinking about it. The secret is to buy the sharpest cheddar you can find, and add a little Parmigiano, “for sass,” as the cookbook author Damon Lee Fowler likes to say. Gingerbread is another standby in my holiday kitchen because it is easy to make and a hit with young and old alike. It can be enjoyed absolutely plain or dressed up with a glaze made from lemon juice and confectioners sugar, or with billows of whipped cream flavored with a little bourbon. It’s the sort of thing you can serve guests at a fancy dinner party, and they will immediately feel like they’re part of the family. Whenever I make gingerbread, I am reminded of my Aunt Eloise — actually, a longtime friend of my mother’s — who often visited us during the holidays. She would arrive in an immaculately maintained Buick and insist on carrying her own suitcase into our hall, setting it down with a little sigh. (“Always travel light, dear,” she counseled, years before I ever went anywhere. “You may have to move fast.”) My brother and I couldn’t wait to present ourselves before Aunt Eloise because we knew exactly what would happen. She would shake her head in amazement at how much we had grown, and hug us thoroughly before rummaging through a capacious handbag for two chocolate bars, wrapped in thin gold foil and glossy paper. We had to open them very carefully, because Aunt Eloise wanted the foil back. Like my parents, she had grown up during the Great Depression, and never wasted a thing. She would smooth the sheets and tuck them away with a smile. The days before Christmas were filled with tree-cutting and decoration, setting up the crèche, which had an expanded cast (my father trolled thrift shops and pawn shops looking, in particular, for the Baby Jesus — he couldn’t bear the thought of one being adrift), and frantic gift wrapping. And then, of course, there was the gingerbread. Dark, moist, and spicy, it was Aunt E.’s specialty. One year, she turned to face my brother and me in the kitchen. “I have always made gingerbread for you,” she said, removing her apron and hitching it up, neat and workmanlike, around me. “Now, it’s your turn.” She switched on the oven and then got comfortable at the kitchen table. Mom made cups of tea for them both and buttered the pan. My brother stirred the flour, baking soda and spices together. I plugged in the Sunbeam and managed to cream the butter and dark brown sugar, then beat in the eggs and cane syrup — preferred by all in our house to molasses. I stopped, startled, when the mixture looked curdled, but Aunt Eloise peered into the bowl and said, “Oh, it’s fine! Just keep going and see what happens.” After beating in the flour mixture and a little hot water, everything miraculously came together. After my mother helped me pour the batter into the pan, she put it into the hot oven. By the time the dishes were done, so was the gingerbread. Aunt Eloise patted several pockets — she had a magician’s knack for misdirection — before unerringly settling on the right one, then fished out an envelope full of small gold stars, cut out of foil. They smelled very faintly of chocolate as we pressed them into the warm cake. Now, when it comes to holiday food that is both easy and spectacular, things get a bit trickier. It pays to keep a file of these recipes, and if they happen to be gluten and/or dairy free, or not terribly bad for you, then so much the better. My go-to favorite is a recipe for scarlet poached pears developed by my former Gourmet colleague Paul Grimes, a brilliant food stylist with a The Art & Soul of Greensboro

painter’s eye. Because poached pears rarely look as good as they taste, Paul took a cue from a dessert at Le Chateaubriand, in Paris, which uses a beet to intensify the pears’ hue. If you or yours don’t happen to like beets, no worries: You can’t taste the beet in the least, and the fresher and juicier it is, the deeper in color the fruit will become. Beets have long been used as a dye for textiles and food, by the way. Before the advent of artificial colorants, they put the “red” in red velvet cake, for instance, and they turn Easter eggs a delicate mauve. The vegetable’s saturated color, like that of bougainvillea, amaranth and the flowers of some cacti, comes from pigments called betalains (from Beta vulgaris, the Latin name of the common beet). Poaching is among the gentlest of cooking techniques. Although it isn’t complicated, you do want to be mindful of the heat. You don’t want the liquid to vigorously boil — otherwise, whatever it is you’re cooking will either break apart or toughen. A lower flame allows you greater control and precision. The end result — whether you are poaching chicken, say, or eggs or fruit — should possess the quality of moelleux (mwall-YEW) — a soft, velvety mouthfeel that is completely, captivatingly French. If you are at all resistant to the idea of poached pears, you’ve likely been traumatized by one that threatened to skid across the table when pierced with a fork. This usually happens during a first date or dinner with the boss. But understanding moelleux — the pears should be so tender they practically melt in your mouth — is a gamechanger. The key to success is very basic: You must cook the pears until they are done. Since the pears may be of slightly different sizes or at different stages of ripeness, be sure to test them all. When you insert a small skewer or paring knife, it should glide in but the flesh should still feel solid, not mushy. Cheese biscuits, gingerbread and gorgeous poached pears have become three of my favorite traditions of the season, and here’s hoping they find a place at your table as well. Happy holidays!


I don’t have Aunt Eloise’s recipe, but this is a close approximation. It’s based on the Tropical Gingerbread (minus the canned coconut) in Charleston Receipts — December 2019

O.Henry 47

Food for Thought hot water. Continue to beat until the batter is smooth, a minute or so. 3. Pour the batter into the pan and bake in the middle of the oven until a wooden skewer inserted in the center of the gingerbread comes out perfectly clean, around 35 to 40 minutes. Put the pan on a wire rack to cool for a bit, then serve warm. The gingerbread is also a great keeper: the flavor deepens after a day or so, and if tightly wrapped, the cake stays moist.

a standard reference for both Aunt E. and my mother — and the Old-Fashioned Gingerbread in the big yellow Gourmet Cookbook. When it comes to the cane syrup, you should know that this syrup made from ribbon cane is lighter and sweeter than molasses. Not only is it a versatile baking ingredient, it makes the ultimate condiment for pancakes, waffles, and hot biscuits. Cane syrup is available at supermarkets in the South; one of my favorite mail-order brands is Steen’s (steenssyrup.com), from Louisiana. 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature, plus extra to butter pan 2 cups all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon baking soda 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice or cloves 1/2 teaspoon salt 3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar 2 large eggs 1/2 cup pure ribbon cane syrup 2/3 cup hot water

Serves 6 If your pears are very small or ripe (instead of firm-ripe), then set the kitchen timer for 20 minutes, say, instead of the 35 to 40 minutes specified below. And if the pears are indeed done more quickly, then transfer them to a bowl to cool, remove the bay leaf and cinnamon, and continue to simmer the poaching liquid until thickened and syrupy. About the poaching wine: Orange Muscat is not the easiest dessert wine to find, but don’t fret. Another muscat won’t have the same alluring orange-apricot aroma, but it will still be delicious. Serve these beauties with a fork, for stabilizing the pear, and a dessert spoon, for scooping flesh and juice. 2 cups Orange Muscat such as Quady Winery’s Essensia (from a 750-ml bottle) 1 medium red beet (1/4 pound), peeled and sliced 1 tablespoon sugar 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1. Preheat the oven to 350° and butter an 8- or 9-inch square baking pan. In one bowl stir together the flour, baking soda, spices and salt. In another bowl with an electric mixer beat together the butter and brown sugar at medium-high speed until nice and fluffy. 2. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then beat in the cane syrup. At this point, the batter might look curdled, but, as Aunt Eloise would tell you, don’t worry about it. Reduce the mixer speed to low and beat in the flour mixture, then the

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48 O.Henry

December 2019

The Art & Soul of Greensboro


Scarlet Poached Pears à la Gourmet

Food for Thought


1 cinnamon stick (about 2 inches in length) 1 bay leaf 3 small firm-ripe pears (about 1 pound total), such as Forelle or Bosc, peeled, halved lengthwise, and cored 1. Bring wine, beet, sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon stick, and bay leaf to a boil in a 1 1/2 - to 2-quart saucepan, stirring until sugar is dissolved. 2. Add pears and cover with a round of parchment paper to help them cook and color evenly. (So that they stay covered with liquid, place a small saucer on top of the parchment as they cook.) Reduce the heat and simmer, turning occasionally, until pears are tender and liquid is syrupy, 35 to 40 minutes. Transfer pears to a bowl. Discard cinnamon stick and bay leaf and pour syrup over pears. Cool completely in syrup, about 30 minutes. Poached pears can be made 1 day ahead and chilled in the syrup; the color will deepen the longer they stay in the syrup.

Cheese Biscuits

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon coarse salt A generous pinch cayenne 1 stick unsalted butter, cut into pieces and softened to room temperature 6 ounces extra-sharp orange cheddar plus 2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano, coarsely grated (about 2 cups total) and at room temperature

Finely chopped crystallized ginger, for garnish 1. Whisk together the flour, salt and cayenne in a bowl until combined well. In another bowl, with a stand mixer, beat together butter and cheese until smooth. Beat dry ingredients into cheese mixture until smooth. The dough should be very malleable, like Play-Doh. 2. Roll the dough into a couple of logs for slicing. Wrap in waxed paper and chill until firm but not hard, about 30 minutes. (Dough keeps in the refrigerator 1 week. You can also freeze it, wrapped well; let it thaw at room temperature until pliable enough to work with.) 3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and cut each log into 1/8-inch rounds, giving the log a quarter turn after each slice so it stays round. Put a dab of the crystallized ginger on top of each biscuit, pressing gently so it adheres. 4. You can either bake the biscuits, one baking sheet at a time, in the middle of the oven, or set the racks in the upper and lower thirds, and switch the baking sheets halfway through. Depending on the size and thickness of your biscuits, they’ll take anywhere from 16 to 18 minutes to bake. They are done when the bottoms are golden but the tops and sides are still pale. Let cool on a wire rack. Biscuits will stay fresh in an airtight tin for days and even improve in flavor. OH Jane Lear, formerly of Gourmet magazine and Martha Stewart Living, is the editor of Feed Me, a quarterly magazine for Long Island food lovers.


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The Art & Soul of Greensboro

December 2019

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50 O.Henry

December 2019

The Art & Soul of Greensboro


Berry Christmas! For the cedar waxwing, holiday indulgence means feasting on holly berries, and other native fruits

By Susan Campbell

The cold weather is here and just

in time for the holidays, with red berries everywhere. The abundant moisture last spring has spurred our local trees and shrubs to produce a bumper crop of fruit. Hollies in particular are covered with plump, ripe morsels. Any time now large flocks of cedar waxwings will be appearing to take advantage of nature’s bounty.

Waxwings are sleek, brown birds that sport a black mask, yellowish belly and distinctive tail with a splash of yellow on its tip. Although both males and females have a crest of tan feathers, it is rarely raised during the nonbreeding season. These birds get their name from the bright red, waxy spots on their wing feathers. The waxwing’s high-pitched whistle is also singular. The Bohemian waxwing, a close relative, is a larger, grayer bird much farther to the north and west in North America. So far, no individual of this species has been documented in our state. During the warmer months, cedar waxwings can be found in northerly latitudes during breeding season throughout a variety of moist habitats. A pair will seek out a sizeable conifer and the female will build a nest of soft material in which to lay her eggs. Three to five young are normal and, not long after they fledge, the family will join with other waxwings even before fall migration begins. The species is very social most of the year and in winter it is not unusual for flocks to number in the hundreds. Cedar waxwings are unusual in that they can subsist for months at a time on berries. Although they do feed on insects in the summertime, they have no

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

trouble consuming only fruit when the weather gets cold. They swallow whatever small berries they can find: seeds and all. This can be problematic in late winter when the sweet morsels ferment to the point that they intoxicate birds. Bingeing waxwings are at risk of being picked off by predators or being injured if they hit a window. These handsome birds surprise people when they show up at birdbaths. If you are fortunate enough to experience cedar waxwings descending en masse, it is quite a spectacle. Of course, they can drain a water source in no time if they have been feeding heavily nearby. Also, it is important to be aware that when waxwings come close to buildings to eat or drink, they may make a fatal error by flying into the reflection of the sky on windows. To prevent this, break up window reflection with sun catchers, stickers, hanging plants and the like. The best approach is to hang things on the outside of the window — but this is not always practical. If you want to attract cedar waxwings to your yard, add more native fruiting trees and shrubs for them and an abundant source of water. You could consider any one of a variety of hollies, or try adding cedar, juniper, serviceberry or wax myrtle. Do not forget that, like all of our wintering birds, waxwings need thick cover while they are here. Many of the berry-producing species are valuable for cover as well while Southern magnolia (many in the bay family in fact), Leyland cypress or even red tips may prove beneficial. Important note: To those who have nandina bushes in your yards: Remove the berries immediately — or better yet, replace the plants entirely. Nandina is now recognized as being highly toxic (containing significant amounts of cyanide) and is responsible for killing dozens of waxwings at a time in recent years here in the southeastern United States. OH Susan would love to receive your wildlife sightings and photos at susan@ncaves.com. December 2019

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December 2019

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The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Wandering Billy

Jigsaws, Jiggers and Great Red Eye Gravy December’s gifts to the Gate City

By Billy Ingram “I want my home to be that kind of place — a place of sustenance, a place of invitation, a place of welcome.” — Mary DeMuth

Searching for some-

thing to give that proverbial guy or gal who has everything? Why must they vex us every year with their very existence?!? Whoever that inscrutable individual might be in your life, they surely don’t have these two locally sourced items.

The first is hot off the presses, the other freshly uncasked. Strolling aimlessly around the Tate Street Festival last fall, I ran across artist Susan Wells Vaughan displaying her collection of fanciful greeting cards and 1,000-piece puzzles based on her dioramic pastiches of historic North Carolina municipalities. Vaughan limits her subject matter to places she’s lived, showcasing her knowledge about the people and history of the region. Naturally, her initial paintings were confined to the Outer Banks where she’s been residing for the last 30 years. “Nobody else was doing it,” Vaughan notes. “People were painting dunes and the birds; I wanted to do something different. And I love architecture.” Lithographs of her representational paintings of Manteo, the town of Duck and Kill Devil Hills were selling all up and down the coast, business brisk as the afternoon breeze. When the recession hit, sales floundered. “I have these big prints that cost quite a bit to matte and frame,” Vaughan says. “I guess people didn’t want to spend money on something they didn’t really need.” Harking back to her childhood when her grandmother introduced her to jigsaw puzzles, Vaughan says she had an “aha” moment. “I imagined her saying, ‘Make puzzles!’” At first handling manufacturing through Chinese sources, the artist teamed with Heritage Puzzles, which also features jigsawed versions of William Mangum’s Rockwellian cityscapes. A Greensboro native, Vaughan turned her artistic eye on her hometown this year for her latest creation. In the top left corner of her colorful collage you’ll spot Yum Yum Better Ice Cream, the Minerva statue at UNCG just below. Scattered throughout are Amtrak’s Carolinian, Bennett College water tower, Jefferson Standard whatever-it’s-called-now building, the statue of The Art & Soul of Greensboro

the Greensboro Four, a bust of Edward R. Murrow, West Market Street Methodist, and Blandwood, to name some of the delightful highlights Vaughan incorporates into her vision of our city. Give a close look at the puzzle’s bottom right corner where she pays tribute to one of O.Henry magazine’s own: “Not many people know Harry Blair designed the Greensboro logo,” Vaughan says. In the late 1960s, Blair was teaching commercial art at Page. “I decided to give that a try,” she recalls of that pivotal moment from her high school days. “Harry was so cool, he played records, told us stories. He created an environment that made you feel relaxed. That’s the greatest thing an art teacher can do, in my opinion.” Inspired, she decided on a career in the arts. Susan Wells Vaughan’s creations can be found in the Greensboro History Museum’s gift shop, Blandwood, Scuppernong Books and online at Heritagepuzzles.com. According to neurologists, assembling jigsaw puzzles is especially effective at improving short-term memory. No more wandering into a room only to forget why you’re there. You have a puzzle to finish!


Mitchell Nicks and Tom Bruce have introduced a new spirit into the season, Gordian Knot Reserve Rum. A French-trained cuisinier well-regarded in Greensboro and beyond, you may recognize Mitchell Nicks as head chef of the former Tessa Farm to Fork and Muse restaurants. Applying his exemplary culinary palate to this challenge, “It’s not like adding basil or spices to food because alcohol is such a pure medium,” Nicks says. “We knew we wanted a certain regality to it, like you’ll find in a cognac or a scotch.” After a worldwide search for raw materials, they began importing aged rums from the mother countries — Barbados, Trinidad and Jamaica. A protracted experimentation phase testing multiple flavor combinations followed, out of necessity requiring considerable imbibing until the field was narrowed to 52 iterations. “When Mitchell got it down to three there was one that stood out,” fellow entrepreneur Tom Bruce says of a flavor profile with hints of toasted hazelnut, caramel, butterscotch, pepper and cinnamon. A veritable rainbow of flavors emerge naturally from the oak casks used during the aging process: “A lot of people say this drinks like a bourbon,” Mitchell says, “That’s because of the weightier ‘mouth feel’ we have.” Judged a favorite at both the Miami and Charleston Rum Festivals, Gordian Knot Reserve Rum can be found on the drink menu at popular dining spots like Tripps, Coast and the High Point Country Club, as well as your neighborDecember 2019

O.Henry 53


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54 O.Henry

December 2019

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Wandering Billy hood ABC store. Sample it this season in your eggnog, hot toddy, and buttered-rum recipes. Or simply place a bottle by the bedside and allow the festivities to wash right past you (as you drink responsibly, of course).


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Eye mentioned Coast, a casual upscale seafood restaurant in High Point garnering rave reviews after opening just a few weeks ago on Samet Drive. Years ago one of its chefs, Nathan Stringer, watched as I made red-eye gravy for grits. I couldn’t believe an unabashed country boy like him had never encountered red-eye gravy before but that seems to be the case with most of these modern-day, digitally distracted whippersnappers. At Nathan’s suggestion, Coast is now offering red-eye gravy ladled over their sumptuous shrimp and grits. I learned the recipe for red-eye when I was a kid. Dad and I were the only family members up early in the mornings, so he taught me to make breakfast the way his mother taught him. For red-eye gravy Dad-style: Remove the pan from the stove after frying country ham, preserving the caramelized remnants on the bottom of the pan. Add a little more coffee than you have drippings, whisk it together with a fork. You’re done. It might take a few attempts to get the balance right, but how can you beat the taste of salt cured ham with coffee? Like Jerry Lee Lewis once said, “If God made anything better, he kep’ it for himself!”



Visiting relatives over the holidays? After a decade away, a nightclub that rocked the 1990s and early-2000s, Flat Iron, is sizzling again. Perched in that strategic location on Summit and Church, it’s much like you remember with subtle changes rendering it less dive-y, more lively. Under the auspices of Common Grounds’ Dusty Keene, Flat Iron hosts a broad range of top-tier local musicians and touring bands. My fave local party band Corporate Fandango will undoubtedly blow everyone away, as they do, on December 7th. On the 20th, Dusty has booked an event called Ace’s Basement Reunion Show for those who frequented that rough-andtumble hardcore venue located underneath a sketchy motel on what was then High Point Road. On December 28th, Jake HaldenVang from NBC’s The Voice takes the stage. At press time, there’s no way to know whether HaldenVang won that contest or not. “Wouldn’t it be crazy,” Keene asked, “if he wins and then plays here right after?” OH Billy Eye sincerely wishes everyone reading this a fantastic holiday season filled with light, love and just a dash of selfish overindulgence! The Art & Soul of Greensboro



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December 2019 The Aurora Life in the South suits me just fine — warm winters, slow speech, kudzu, and iced tea. But just once I want to stand in the frigid dark, wrapped in a fur-lined parka, mukluks on my feet, scanning the horizon for a snow drift that might morph into a polar bear and watch the aurora borealis explode across the night sky — green and red lights circling and waving, twisting and weaving, in a shimmering dance. — Karen Filipski

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

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O.Henry 57

An Ordinary

American Boy ê

The extraordinary life of WWII flying ace George E. Preddy Jr. By Ross Howell Jr.


et’s start with darkness. Then we’ll look for light. On Christmas Day, 1944 — 75 years ago — our city’s most famous aviator, George Earl Preddy Jr., was killed. He was 25 years old. Just months later, on April 17, 1945, his baby brother, William Rhodes Preddy, was also killed. Bill was 20. The two men rest side-by-side — not in Greensboro, where they attended Sunday services as boys at West Market Street United Methodist Church, but in Lorraine American Military Cemetery, Saint-Avold, France. Both men piloted the P-51 Mustang, perhaps the most famous U.S. fighter of World War II. George was flying in support of the Battle of the Bulge, an enormous German counterattack launched in Belgium after the Allied invasion at Normandy on D-Day. Bill was strafing an enemy airfield near Prague, Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic), just days before V-E Day, when Germany unconditionally surrendered to the Allies. George and Bill grew up in a modest, brown-shingled house their father, George Earl Sr. (whom the family called Earl), had built in 1921 at 605 Park Avenue in Aycock (now Dunleath). The household included their mother, Clara Noah Preddy, and sisters, Jonnice (oldest child) and Rachel (born between the boys). George was small — he stood 5 feet 9 inches tall and weighed 125 pounds as a grown

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The Art & Soul of Greensboro

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dollar for a five-minute ride.” Earl, who was employed by the railroad “for 49 man. And he had big ears. The neighborhood boys nicknamed him “Mouse,” a years and 7 months,” usually worked a freight run to Sanford on Sundays. The moniker that stuck till his WWII days, when he was renamed “Ratsy.” tracks ran right alongside the airfield near Liberty. Since the Preddy house was near War Memorial Stadium, George fre“I noticed a little gum tree there,” Earl said. “And if George wasn’t up in the quently played on the tennis courts there. He was tremendously competitive, air, he’d be standing under that tree in the shade and wave at me. I named the and enterprising enough to make money on a soft drink concession he dubbed, tree, ‘George’s tree.’” “The Mouse Hole.” While barnstorming with Teague in 1939, George’s cowling flew up in George attended Aycock School (now Melvin C. Swann Jr. Middle School) front of the cockpit, completely blocking his view. Looking from the side of the and Greensboro High School (now Grimsley High School). Not big enough to aircraft, he was able to land in a cornfield with no damage. The cowling latches make the high school basketball team, he played hoops at the YMCA, set up a had not been properly fastened, and the incident underscored for him the imhorizontal bar in his backyard to practice gymnastics, and even tried to bulk up portance of a pilot’s thorough walk-around of an aircraft before flight, a lesson his muscles with the popular Charles Atlas bodybuilding method. that would remain with him through his military service. He was a serious enough student to double up on courses, graduating from On September 1, 1939, Adolph Hitler’s GHS at age 16. While he’s remembered as armies raged into Poland, employing a furious being cerebral and quiet, he could cut up with tactic called blitzkrieg — “lightning war.” the best of them, once convincing his buddies That fall George boarded a train bound for to dangle him by the ankles from a second-story Pensacola, Florida, and the Naval Air Training school window in order to prank a teacher on Center. He passed all application tests except the floor below. the physical — the Navy said he had high blood Following graduation, he worked at a cotton pressure and curvature of the spine. mill and attended Guilford College for two Back home he did stretching exercises to years. Then came the experience of a lifetime. improve his back. After applying twice more On November 13, 1938, George wrote in and being rejected, he decided to spend another his diary: “Had my first real airplane ride today. summer barnstorming with Teague. Hal Foster took me to Danville with him in The first performance of the 1940 season his little ’33 Aeronca. It took us 30 minutes to was at Walnut Cove. With few customers at the make the trip. I see now how great the airplane airfield, they made three low passes over Main is. That trip was the most wonderful experience George's Waco. Bobby Boaz, Bill Preddy, Bill Teague, George Preddy. Street and turned out a real crowd. I ever had. I must become an aviator.” George and Teague were vagabonds with Just months later, after learning his flying wings, flying from town to town, sleeping under their aircraft, staying at a skills from Bill Teague, an A&P grocery store manager, George soloed from YMCA every third night so they could get a shower. a grass airfield near Vandalia, six miles south of Greensboro, in Teague’s Adventures followed. Waco biplane — named Wanda C, after Bill’s wife. There was the time George noticed a police car’s flashing lights out on Teague and George hit it off. After George’s solo, Teague suggested that they the field as he landed near Valle Crucis. The officers were carrying the state each chip in $75 to buy a second Waco. Together, they’d set out barnstorming. representative for the district who wanted to get to Asheville in a hurry, “George was absolutely crazy about an airplane,” his father Earl said in rather than take the slow way on curvy mountain roads. George obliged, a 1966 interview recorded by then-director of the Greensboro Historical and was paid handsomely. Museum, Bill Moore. “He wanted to fly all the time.” With “headquarters” at a And there was the time a mother asked him to fly her 10-year-old daughter grass airstrip just outside Vandalia, George and Teague would fly to Liberty on to Winston-Salem because the medical help the girl needed wasn’t available in Sundays and take passengers up in the plane for “hops.” nearby Mount Airy. He refused payment of any kind. At the end of the barn“They had this little two-seater,” Earl continued. “I believe they charged a

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The Art & Soul of Greensboro


Preddy House in Dunleath

storming season, he received a letter from the mother, telling him her daughter had successfully recovered from pneumonia. News of the war in Europe grew more ominous by the day. Holland, Belgium and France were under Nazi control, and the aerial Battle of Britain had begun. George gave up on the Navy and applied to the U.S. Army Air Corps. He was accepted, and his name added to a long list for cadet class. Then, on September 7, Hermann Goering ordered his Luftwaffe to launch the London Blitz, an all-out bombing campaign to destroy the city. Streams of German aircraft flew missions by day and by night, wreaking havoc below. Anxious to get in on the fighting, George enlisted with the National Guard at the advice of recruiters. He did his basic training in Fort Moultrie, South Carolina, then was sent to Fort Screven, Georgia. Next he was ordered to Darr Aero Tech, a flying school southwest of Albany, Georgia. By October 1941 he had reported for advanced flying school at Craig Field, Alabama. The clouds of war were rapidly darkening. On December 7, the Imperial Japanese Navy struck Pearl Harbor. Five days later, George graduated with his class from flying school at Craig Field. His mother, Clara, rode the train to Alabama and proudly pinned pilot’s wings on her son’s blouse at the ceremony. Commissioned as second lieutenant, George used a short leave to come home to Greensboro before reporting to West Palm Beach, Florida, to join the 49th Pursuit Group, 9th Pursuit Squadron. Once he checked out in the P-39 Airacobra fighter, he was ordered to ship by train to San Francisco, where he boarded the U.S. Army Transport Mariposa on January 11, 1942, destination unknown. In February the transport docked near Melbourne, Australia. George’s unit was moved by train from Melbourne to Sydney. It had been six weeks since he’d flown an airplane. He received scant training in his new aircraft, the P-40 Kittyhawk. George’s unit ferried their fighters north to Brisbane, then set off northwest to a primitive base near Darwin, where he slept on the wing of his aircraft. He was now in a battle zone. In honor of the Old North State, George dubbed his P-40 Tarheel. Soon his unit was scrambling to intercept Japanese bombers and fighters. But George was still new to the game. On March 30, 1942, he wrote in his diary: “I had a perfect shot at a Zero [Japanese fighter], but missed by not turning one gun switch on.” By April, George could lay claim to having damaged two enemy aircraft but still had recorded no aerial victories. Then in July, he nearly lost his life. On an evening training mission with three other pilots, George and a wingman were flying level, simulating enemy bombers, while two other pilots “bounced” them from above, diving from an altitude of 20,000 feet. On one pass a pilot misjudged and crashed into George’s plane just behind the cockpit. The first pilot was killed instantly. Badly injured, George was able to bail out before his airplane went down. A tree limb pierced his leg as he parachuted into heavy brush. Fortunately, he was rescued — bleeding badly, but still conscious — before night set in. What followed was a long, painful transfer by air to the new U.S. Army hospital in Melbourne. He would spend weeks bedridden — and three months in recovery. The Art & Soul of Greensboro

But fortune smiled. A young Australian woman named Joan Jackson often visited soldiers at the hospital to cheer them up. Joan made quite an impression on George. When he was finally up on crutches, he’d go on outings with her. Although he saw other women at the time, it seemed that he was smitten. On September 9, 1942, George wrote in his diary: “Had dinner at Joan’s house this evening. . . . Her Dad is a famous golfer and a very nice fellow. Also her sister is a clever girl and very attractive. I think I could love Joan.” There’s a portrait photograph of Joan wearing George’s wings. But the record about her goes silent for a while. At the end of September, George was ready to report back to Darwin. He made it as far as Brisbane, where he received two sets of orders: one directing him to return to the States, and the other promoting him to first lieutenant. By way of Fiji, New Caledonia, Canton Island, Honolulu, California, by military transport to Salt Lake City, and then by rail, George journeyed home to North Carolina. He was surprised and happy to see his father Earl board his train in Reidsville. Together, father and son rode south to Greensboro. George’s nine-day leave was a whirlwind of family and friends. His brother Bill and childhood chum “Bozo” Boaz drove him to Winston-Salem to see Bill and Wanda Teague. During the visit, his old instructor and barnstorming pal flew Bill, Bozo, and George to Charlotte and back in his new Stinson Reliant. On November 10, George boarded a train for Oakland, California. He had been a combat pilot for nearly two years, and had yet to score an aerial victory. In Oakland he was introduced to the P-38 Lightning, an elegantly designed, twin-engine fighter. November 19 he wrote in his diary: “Spent the day at the field and checked out in the P-38. Flew it 45 minutes of the most enjoyable flying I ever did. That is a wonderful flying ship and fast as its name. . . .” Next stops: Orlando, Florida, then back to California, then First Fighter Command in New York. He wrote in his diary on December 31: “Well, here it is the last day of 1942. . . . I am on a train setting out on my sixth crossing of the country since this time a year ago. . . Hope by the end of next year I can have done much more for my country than I have last year.” From New York George was assigned to the 320th Squadron at Westover Field, Massachusetts, where he checked out in the P-47 Thunderbolt, a thick-fuselage, powerful fighter nicknamed the “Jug.” In January he was transferred to the 34th Squadron of the 352nd Fighter Group in New Haven, Connecticut, a tactical unit training to go overseas. George was finally preparing to enter battle in one of the most dangerous places on earth — the skies over Europe. On June 30, George boarded the Queen Elizabeth, bound for England. He had been promoted to captain. Six days later he disembarked at the Firth of Clyde, taking a train to a deserted Royal Air Force airfield in Bodney, 90 miles north of London. At Bodney George named his P-47, Cripes A’Mighty, a phrase he used for luck when shooting craps. On December 1, he scored his first aerial victory — a German Me 109. George’s P-47 was hit by enemy antiaircraft fire in January 1944. He was forced to ditch in the icy waters of the English Channel. With rough seas and poor visibility, the amphibious aircraft sent to rescue him ran over him three times before they could fish him out. December 2019

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George and his parents

“They damn near killed me!” he complained. Piloting his replacement P-47, Cripes A’Mighty 2nd, George continued to pursue enemy aircraft, both on the ground and in the air. On March 22, 1944, he was promoted to major and named operations officer of the 487th Fighter Squadron. December 22, he achieved a second aerial victory, shooting down a Me 210. By letter he learned that his brother Bill was making good progress in his military training back in the States. “You should take advantage of all the instrument time you can get,” George wrote Bill on April 17, “because when you get to our theater of operations you will fly in weather you wouldn’t walk outdoors in at home. . . .” That same month, George’s outfit, the 352nd Fighter Group, transitioned from the P-47 to the P-51 Mustang. George named his new airplane Cripes A’Mighty 3rd. A nimble, fast fighter, the P-51 with drop tanks had the range to escort U.S. heavy bombers on raids deep into Germany, protecting them from enemy fighters. Flying just such a mission on August 6, 1944, George became a legend. For two weeks his squadron had seen fierce action, and he personally had accounted for more than six enemy aircraft destroyed. But poor weather was predicted for August 6, so no mission was planned. George celebrated at the craps table in the officers’ club. Exclaiming “Cripes a’mighty!” with each roll of the dice, he won an astounding $1,200. Ever the dutiful son, he used his winnings Joan Jackson to purchase a war bond and mailed it home to Clara. Greater merriment ensued. But a mission was called the next morning, and it was George’s turn to lead. Others offered to fill in, but he insisted, still tipsy enough to fall off the table he was standing on to brief the men. Their mission was to escort U.S. bombers to a target east of Berlin. Breathing pure oxygen got George on the mend, but when he buckled into the cockpit of his P-51, he had a brutal hangover. That day he shot down six enemy aircraft. It was a feat unprecedented in the course of the air war in Europe, and though his exploit later was equaled, it was never surpassed. Photographers, reporters, and correspondents arrived at Bodney to get George’s story. Three days later, he was interviewed about his exploit for a CBS radio broadcast. The program announcer was the famed head of the CBS European

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George after 6 victories with asst. crew chief “Red” McVay

Bureau, Greensboro’s Edward R. Murrow. As was his wont, George closed the session by acknowledging others: “You just can’t watch your tail and concentrate on your shooting, too. That’s why my wingmen are due as much credit as I am.” In September George was granted a 30-day leave. It was a glorious homecoming. Clara and Earl met him in Washington, D.C., where he was scheduled for a couple days of publicity interviews, standard fare for an American ace. Then it was on to Greensboro. George addressed a crowd at a ceremony in War Memorial Stadium, just blocks from where he’d once sold soft drinks from “the Mouse Hole.” He gave speeches to the Boy Scouts, to high school students, to the Chamber of Commerce. And George announced his engagement to Joan Jackson, the Australian he’d continued to romance by mail. They planned to wed at war’s end. George then traveled with his family to visit Bill in Venice, Florida, where his brother was in the final phases of air combat training. The two even engaged in a mock dogfight in P-40s, with Bill giving George as good as he got. “Don’t get cocky!” George told his little brother. Back in Greensboro, he agreed to do a local broadcast radio address. When he was introduced and asked to tell the audience about himself, he spoke instead about Edward R. Murrow. George spoke about how he and the other officers gathered in the lounge of the Queen Elizabeth — the troop vessel that first carried him to England — listening on the radio to Murrow’s 15-minute news broadcasts, “when he gave the straight dope on the war news of the day.” He spoke about how kind Murrow was to him when he was interviewed for CBS, how they talked about the people they knew back home in Greensboro. “Ed Murrow knows what he speaks about because he has spent every available moment getting a better insight into the feelings of the war-stricken peoples of Europe,” he said. “Greensboro should be proud of him.” By the end of September, George was anxious to get back in the fight. His father Earl tried to convince him to stay stateside, since he had flown many more combat missions than were required. But George was adamant about returning. He felt he had a job to do. When he returned to the 352nd Fighter Group at Bodney, George was assigned to lead the 328th Fighter Squadron, the group’s goat, with the lowest number of enemy aircraft destroyed. His commanding officer felt that The Art & Soul of Greensboro


George with Cripes A’Mighty 3rd

William "Bill" Preddy with his leadership and reputation, George could get the squadron on track. He took over on October 28, 1944, christening his new P-51 simply, Cripes A’Mighty, no number. George took up where he had left off, destroying enemy aircraft as squadron leader. The overall aggressiveness and effectiveness of his squadron considerably improved. That fall, Giles “Runt” Teague, Bill Teague’s younger brother, paid George a visit. Runt asked if George could help him transfer from piloting heavy bombers to fighters. George agreed to have his commanding officer write a letter requesting the transfer. On December 10, 1944, George answered a letter from the Teagues, thanking Wanda for the fruitcake she had sent him. “I have some fine pilots and am proud of the job they are doing,” he added, “particularly on one mission, when we knocked down 24 Jerries to set a new record.” A week later he posted his final letter home to his parents. He complained about the slow mail service, described the awful weather in London, where he’d been on a 48-hour pass. “I sure hope Uncle Laurie [his mother Clara’s brother, who’d been badly injured in a rail accident] is better now,” he wrote. “Mail [delivery] from Joan [his fiancée in Australia] is even worse than from you. I don’t expect to hear from her until way after the first of the year. . . Best love always, George.” In horrendous weather conditions the morning of December 23, Preddy flew with his squadron to Y-29, a primitive air base near Asch, Belgium. Their job was to provide air support for the Battle of the Bulge. On Christmas Day, George briefed his squadron on their mission, hiked up a pants leg to show the men his bright red “fighting socks,” and said, “Let’s go get ’em!” And that was it. After the fighters in his squadron became scattered in a dogfight, George The Art & Soul of Greensboro

spotted an FW 190 flying at treetop level, and dropped to the deck to pursue the German plane. Cripes A’Mighty was brought down by friendly antiaircraft fire. Runt Teague’s transfer never came through. He was killed when the B-17 Flying Fortress he was piloting went down over the English Channel on December 30, 1944. Bill Preddy was killed four months later when his P-51 was destroyed by enemy antiaircraft fire as he and a wingman strafed a flak tower in Czechoslovakia. George died as the highest-scoring Mustang ace of World War II. Joseph J. “Red” McVay, the assistant crew chief for whom George always had nothing but praise, commented about his death in a letter to the Greensboro Daily News. McVay explained that a keg of beer had been purchased to help the enlisted men celebrate the holiday, but when word “came that the Major, our Major, had been killed . . . we emptied our glasses on the ground. “Christmas will never be the same for me again,” McVay concluded. Earl Preddy in an interview described George as “just an ordinary American boy.” He described his son Bill the same way. Certainly Earl and Clara’s boys were like many of their buddies. But their love of flying, their love of country, their skill, their determination and the dark realities of war made them heroes. Their lights burned brief and bright, much like the star that guided searchers to a stable in Bethlehem so long ago. Surely the firmament holds stars for the brothers, and for all their like. Merry Christmas. OH To learn more about the Preddys, Ross Howell Jr. recommends Wings God Gave My Soul — the Factual Story of One of America’s Greatest Fighter Pilots of World War II, George E. Preddy Jr. by Joseph W. Noah (1974), George Preddy: Top Mustang Ace, by Joe Noah and Samuel L. Sox Jr. (1991), Carolina Ace, a documentary film, by Shawn Lovette, and the Preddy Memorial Foundation, preddy-foundation. org, and the Preddy exhibit at Piedmont Triad International Airport. December 2019

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Hungry for the

Holidays Karen Robbins brings French flair to her Greek and Italian culinary heritage – a portal into a rich multicultural world By Cynthia Adams Photographs by Bert VanderVeen


f the dogeared, heavily notated copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking on Karen Robbins’ quartz counter doesn’t snag your attention, then the wafting aroma of sugar caramelizing with butter will. Knees have buckled at less. Luckily, there is a pot of fortifying coffee and a counter to lean into. Welcome to Robbins’ kitchen, sporting a recent refresh, with the accent on functionality, which pleases the resident chef — the nifty pot filler addition isn’t just for looks. Neither is the new Wolf range nor the additional wall oven. Delectable, magical things happen here. And it isn’t yet the holiday. She was baking for her mahjong club, which meets every Thursday evening. Robbins smiles slyly. The baker and holiday enthusiast slides over a dish of toasty blueberry-and-peach “cutie pies” and plump peach scones. She waits. Triple yum, I mumble impolitely, dribbling crumbs. Robbins’ eyes dance. Long before Iron Chef, there was ubiquitous French Chef — Julia Child. Child’s televised programs initiated this Greek-Italian woman into French cooking. (Robbins calls Child, “the Great One.”) The two well-used volumes of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, which somebody gave her long ago, are key references. “The recipes are long but very clear,” she says, thumbing through. There are many scribbles. “Sometimes I slightly alter or tweak Julia’s recipes, but her foundation is usually intact.” In 2009, Robbins saw the popular film Julie & Julia. She related to the young blogger, Julie, who began cooking Child’s recipes and posting about it. She recently rewatched the film. The Art & Soul of Greensboro

“I loved it as much as I did the first time. Afterward, I got teary. I always liked to cook. But I remembered how much she, Julia, had meant and how I got started.” She recalls early trials. “I made her pastries with custard filling.” At the time, it was challenging. Now, “not so hard anymore.” Robbins moved on to Child’s gigot à l’Anglaise (leg of lamb in red wine). Then the duck à l’orange. Classics. “Her lamb recipe has simple ingredients. I marinate and sliver all the pieces,” she explains. For caneton à l’orange, seasoning and trussing a whole duck was a bit more challenging, “but now, you can buy duck breasts versus the entire duck.” She grins. “Simple ingredients.” Not so simple a process. But Robbins is not averse to simplification or improving the Great One’s process. Or variations. Robbins’ eyes dart toward the window where she keeps basil and rosemary in boxes. What for dinner? “Yesterday, I made a filling of spanakopita and pesto and baked it as a crustless dish. Blended two cultures,” she smiles. “People liked it.” Her husband has a saying whenever he truly loves something. “He says, ‘I’d pay for that,’” she laughs. December 2019

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Robbins loves baking, saying it’s more exacting. “But cooking can be more creative.” With the holidays here, Robbins is tickled just contemplating the meals and baking she will turn out of double ovens installed for this very purpose. She much favors the Wolf range’s convection oven for baking. On this baking day, Robbins is all Zen-like and humming. She moves through her kitchen, her warm brown eyes shining as she runs through the flavor profiles for her holiday preparations. “I can taste food in my head,” she says. “Not wines, but food.” When Robbins, a former NYC speech therapist, retired and came South with her husband, Paul, they plunged headlong into retirement. Her husband is out playing golf on a golden morning. Their white Volvo sports the license plate “PAR 3”. She also golfs, but not when she can cook. Baking, cooking and entertaining, three of her fundamental pleasures, just happened to have made her the hit of the Newcomer’s Club. She enjoys a large, hydrangea-filled yard that backs up to an open country field. But the kitchen, which opens to a screened porch, is the beating heart of the traditional home. The Mediterranean aspect traces to her family influences. The gourmet kitchen already had furniture-style cabinetry but Robbins finally got the pot filler she always wanted, adding the Wolf gas range top and an additional wall oven for good measure. She already had a generously sized walk-in pantry, one that she has filled with canned tomatoes, “put up” herself. Food has long been important in her family. With an Italian father and a Greek mother, how could food not be central to family life? Her parents, childhood friends, eloped when pressured not to marry outside the faith. Outsiders were called “goombahs” — pejorative slang for Italians. Friends but not family, Robbins clarifies. Her Catholic father and Greek Orthodox mother had respective, entrenched traditions, especially when it came to food. “My mother learned to cook Italian,” Robbins explains. “What she made, she made well. But she wasn’t experimental.”

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But her daughter discovered she was. Baking is an exact science, she stresses. But cooking isn’t. It relaxed her. Although Robbins had a serious career, she would look forward to cooking after work. Entertaining became her outlet. She did the whole bit, “from soup to nuts.” Even the hardest effort was happiness-making. As for what is difficult now, Robbins pauses. “The more involved things are probably”— and she breaks off to page through her sauce-bespattered French cookbook. “Hmm.” “Some of the things are just not so hard anymore,” she muses. Duck, for instance: “I remember making it and the stove was billowing with smoke because of all the fat.” A good friend who lectures on art history and culture aboard the Silversea cruise line invited her along on a cruise that ended in Nice, France. There, Robbins says she had one of the five most memorable meals of her life. She inquired into a restaurant in walking distance of the hotel. “I went and ordered their duck. It was with peaches,” she says, pausing to conjure up the memory. “Oh my God, it was divine. And so, I got ahold of some duck breast and made my version with peaches, because this is the world of peaches. That was fun.” In Mykonos, she enjoyed another memorable dish while awaiting the ferry — tomato pancakes cooked over a Bunsen burner. The pancakes “were insanely good.” Robbins worked until she reconstructed the recipe. With sparkling brown eyes that widen as she recalls the experience, Robbins enthuses about the culinary surprises that travel brings. “Food opens you to another avenue of the culture.” In 2017, she and her husband took a week of cooking classes in the medieval Italian village of Castro dei Volsci in a gristmill before a cruise departing from Rome. “I asked Paul, do you love me? He said, ‘Yes, of course.’ I said, how much in dollars, exactly?” She chuckles. “The cooking classes weren’t cheap.”

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

She learned to make proper risotto. “Even Paul got into making pizza, appetizers and desserts.” Robbins views food as a portal into a rich, multicultural world — one she eagerly walks through. But coming South, the holidays required the eager cook to adapt to regional tastes. She was shocked to discover ham on Southern Thanksgiving menus. “It wasn’t something you ate for Thanksgiving in the North. If you didn’t like turkey, you did chicken. You only had ham at Christmas!” Robbins baked and transported favorites to relatives outside the South. “I used to cook and take the food north,” she recalls. She even mastered a coconut custard pie originally requiring a three-day process. She simplified it to two. Recently, Robbins adapted a Giada De Laurentiis recipe called “Thanksgiving for two.” The experimental dish? “Ravioli made with Chinese dim sum stuffed with ground turkey, herbs and cranberry sauce.” It was close enough to pasta to satisfy her Italian taste buds. “I grew up thinking everybody had pasta as their main meal at Christmas,” she confesses. “My mother made lasagna. Then we had roast beef. But we had fish Christmas Eve.” For her Christmas meal, Robbins will make fresh homemade ricotta and manicotti using crepes instead of dried pasta. For Christmas morning, she will bake a festive wreath cake with cream cheese and jam, adapted from an old Gourmet magazine. The recipe is butter-stained. “It’s not hard if you’re going to bake — make a dough and roll it out.” She pauses. “It’s not level one,” she admits. But neither is a Southern staple, she claims. The Art & Soul of Greensboro

“I’ve never made a biscuit,” Robbins giggles. “That scares me!” Yet, she bakes breads, biscotti and every manner of dessert, including pistachio cookies, which are beloved when she serves them to a large circle of friends she made in the Newcomer’s Club. “All the men wanted the recipe — that I should give it to their wives!” Some traditions are sacred. But . . . “Christmas almost needs to be tamed,” she notes. “My husband is very helpful. He helps with the gifts. There were a lot of Christmases when we moved here and we had to go up North. I was cooking. Packing. Buying and wrapping. I was so exhausted. It wasn’t fun.” Their daughter and her family now live in North Carolina. When they arrive in Summerfield on Christmas morning, delectables await. Robbins mentions shortcuts the Barefoot Contessa advocates, like not making all menu items from scratch. Some recipes are so dear to her they are nearly perfect. Others still require innovation; things she makes a lot because “it’s a test kitchen,” she smiles. Robbins offers to get back to me on her five favorite culinary hits of all time. Things that Paul would pay for, she laughs. Her brow knits. And as she plots dinner, staples are at the ready. “I have fresh oregano, basil and thyme,” she says. And a pantry stocked with freshly canned tomatoes. For Robbins, with the rapidly approaching holidays, nothing says Christmas more than opening the taps to that pot filler for boiling noodles and revving up the sauce for fabulous, savory pasta-bilities. OH For Karen Robbins' recipes, please visit O.Henry magazines facebook page December 2019

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Celtic Pottery’s painstaking art of crystalline pottery By Maria Johnson • Photographs by Sam Froelich


ixing everyday elements to create something new and beautiful — that’s the juice that keeps artists going. It also could be the theme of Janet Gaddy and Tim Moran’s life together. In pottery circles, the Browns Summit couple are known as accomplished “crystaleers,” people who finish their pieces with crystalline glazes, shimmering topcoats that blossom with frosty crystals after being fired in super hot kilns. “This isn’t for the faint of heart,” says Tim, explaining that only one in three pieces survives the process. “There are very few potters who do crystalline — and very few who do it well.” The couple’s skill with the painstaking craft — and the vividness of their crystals — have landed their pieces in galleries in Raleigh, Wilmington and Black Mountain. More than a third of their business comes from custom orders. They also pack a trailer and roll off to more than a dozen shows every year. They’re regulars at the Carolina Pottery Festival, which happens every November in Shelby, N.C., and at the selective Catawba Valley Pottery & Antique Festival in Hickory in March. “To be in that show is an absolute honor,” Tim says of the Catawba event. “It’s one of those shows you dream about.” Locally, the pair can be found hovering around their booth at Potters of the Piedmont, a spring and fall show at the Leonard Recreation Center in Greensboro. They keep a few pieces in the gift shop at the Greensboro History Museum downtown. The rest of their time is spent making the earthen pieces that are literally — because of the capricious nature of crystals — one-of-a-kind works. “Mother Nature has a lot to do with it,” Tim explains. “When she smiles on you, it’ll send a chill up your spine.” That’s how he and Janet felt when they met. Tim, who’d just sold a chain The Art & Soul of Greensboro

of small radio stations, was in the throes of a divorce, the final act of a 28year union. Janet, a potter and high school art teacher, was stinging from the dissolution of her 20-year marriage. Both were wounded and wary when they crossed paths in a weeklong lifecoaching workshop in Chapel Hill in 2001. They got to know each other during sessions that required them to divulge their histories and feelings. They had dinner together. At the urging of her counselor, Janet made an announcement to the class at the end of the week. Tim was the one she’d spend the rest of her life with, she said. For once, he was speechless. They hugged. “I whispered ‘Thank God’ in her ear. I’d prayed about it,” he remembers. They forged a life together. At first, that involved him driving from Roanoke Rapids, N.C., to Danville, Virginia, Janet’s hometown, to take a pottery class with her. It was a blatant excuse to be together. “I told him I’d seen kindergarteners who made better pottery,” she says. Tim cups his hands around an imaginary vessel then splays his fingers wide to mimic throwing a piece of pottery hastily. “I’d be like, ‘OK — let’s go to dinner,’ “ he says. Pottery assumed a bigger role after Tim had triple-bypass heart surgery, the byproduct of years of stressful living, he believes. “He traded a three-piece suit for a potter’s wheel,” Janet says. “Pottery became my therapy, my obsession,” adds Tim, who now favors denim and flannel. “Anything I do, I do 110 percent.” For years, Tim had collected art glass, a passion that sent him on frequent trips to glass-blowing centers of the Czech Republic, Austria, Hungary and Poland. He bought hundreds of museum-quality pieces from the Art Nouveau period December 2019

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of the late 1800s and early 1900s. As much as he appreciated art, he found there was a difference between collecting and creating. “I enjoyed taking a lump of dirt and making something beautiful,” he says. Janet, who’d inherited a hobby kiln from her father, had long known the satisfaction of creating. She studied pottery and sculpture in Cortona, Italy, in 2006, the same year she started teaching art at Greensboro College. “She’s truly the artist,” says Tim. Pottery became their thing, a common pursuit and a way to learn and grow together. In 2004, they took a master potter’s class at Rockingham Community College in Wentworth. The class took a stab at crystalline glazes, a finish that had been around since the ninth century, when it appeared as a mistake in Chinese pottery. The glaze was revived and refined by a 20th-century English potter named Peter Ilsley. In North Carolina, which is recognized internationally as a pottery hub, only a few people had reputations for crystalline glazes, among them Phil Morgan and Al McCanless in Seagrove and Sid Oakley in Creedmoor. The class members in Wentworth didn’t have much luck with the finicky glaze. Tim, who holds a degree in geochemistry from the University of Georgia, was upset at the group’s failure. He was determined to make the glaze work. He noodled with the formula — zinc and titanium form the crystals while cobalt, copper, iron and manganese provide the colors — until he fired a few successes. His mentor at RCC, Sally Hayes, encouraged him. “She said, ‘You need to be showing,’” he says, pausing to wipe away tears. Hayes recently died, and Tim has just returned from the Carolina Pottery Festival, which was the first festival he attended with Hayes. She invited him to tag along and bring a few pieces to sell. “I sold everything,” he says. “I said, ‘This is pretty cool.’” He and Janet have concentrated on crystalline glazes ever since. Their studio is a former three-car garage behind their home in the woods. No longer an art teacher, Janet works daily with Tim on the couple’s business, Celtic Pottery, a name that reflects her Scottish heritage and his Irish roots. Each of them makes their own pottery — his are more functional pieces such as platters, vases and bowls, and hers are more figurative, incorporating animal and human forms. Currently, she’s selling the heck out of sea turtles that gleam with mottled crystalline glazes. Often, she mounts them on pieces of driftwood that washed ashore at Kerr Lake or the Outer Banks. “We like to use things from North Carolina and Virginia, since that’s where most of our shows are,” says Tim.

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They mold their works from clay that’s custom made for them by STARworks Center in Star, N.C. The blend combines porcelain and stoneware clays. The soft porcelain clay, used to make fine china, is hard to handle, but it’s extremely durable when fired. It also makes a smooth surface required for the formation of crystals. “It’s like throwing cream cheese,” Tim says. After the first firing, their pieces come out of the kiln as bisque, ready to receive the liquid glazes that distinguish the couple’s work. They use a kitchen blender to whirl cocktails of water, powdered chemicals and additives that affect the hardness and shine. “We’ve gone through several blenders,” Tim says. Some recipes yield large fan-shaped crystals that resemble the leaves of gingko trees. Some produce small crystals that interlock like frost on a windshield. Others crystals arrange themselves in a lattice of shamrocks. “Our stuff is functional, but there’s a sort of elegance, and people are attracted to that,” Tim says. Like chefs perfecting new dishes, the duo make detailed notes on every glaze and its complex firing schedule, which can start at between 2,300 and 2,400 degrees Fahrenheit, then dip and rise, at various temperatures, for more than 16 hours. They use four electric kilns with computerized controls. Because of the energy demand, Duke Power installed a transformer outside the studio just for them. “They knew they were gonna get their money back,” says Tim. Once out of the kiln, the pieces must cool under controlled conditions for another 15 hours. Cracks and blowouts are common. Tim lifts a large vase to reveal a jagged hole in the bottom. “You can’t guarantee anything,” he says. Their misses are many, but their hits are spectacular. Multicolored award ribbons cover the bulletin boards in their studio. A show poster on the wall features several of their red pieces. Red is a difficult color for potters to attain. The pigment burns out easily at high temperatures, and the glaze contains cadmium, which is lead and must be applied in an encapsulated stain before bisque firing. The two enjoy pushing themselves to learn new formulas and techniques. They recently returned from a class in Dunedin, Florida, with renowned crystalline potter Ginny Conrow. “I’m 72, but I’m going to be a student for the rest of my life,” says Tim. “We work on glazes every day,” says Janet. OH Celtic Pottery will display work at the Appalachian Potters Market in Marion on December 7. Their work also is part of a crystalline pottery exhibit and sale at the North Carolina Pottery Center in Seagrove until December 14.

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

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It’s a Wonderful Chaos Sam Howard and Mickey Richey’s traditional Christmas extravagance


By Cynthia Adams • Photographs by Amy Freeman

eighbors know that by December, Sam Howard and Mickey Richey’s home in Greensboro’s Browntown neighborhood is no place for a Grinch. When it is decked in holiday finery, there’s more good cheer per square inch of their classic ranch-style home than a curmudgeon could take. Each year, the doors are open to their many friends and neighbors as their spacious home becomes the annual setting for an outrageously overthe-top family extravaganza of Christmas trees, lights, garlands, trim, bows and a bounty of beauty and fun. “There’s a little bit of Christmas in every room,” Richey says with classic understatement.

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Apart from the holidays, the house has enviable good looks that the owners have, over the last seven years, tastefully polished, painted, spruced up and enhanced. The couple had looked in the area for a home that resonated with them. This house, Richey explains, spoke to them from the start. It had them at hello — at the foyer, in fact. “The minute we walked in, Sam said it had good vibes,” Richey recalls. “We immediately liked it . . . and the more we saw, the more we liked it.” For many years, the Howard-Richeys had entertained a circle of women they affectionately called, “the Girls.” The women of a certain age, as the French express it, knew “Sister” Sherill, an original owner of the home. “Katherine [Sister] Sherrill lived here with her husband, John,” says The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Richey, opening the front door into a Hollywood Regency–style foyer featuring Asian accents. Built in 1959, the house is otherwise mostly traditional. That has suited the couple just fine. In fact, the house seemed somewhat modern to them, given that for years they had lived in nearby Latham Park in a quaint, rambling, 1920s house facing the park. Come the holidays, there was always a large tree, heavy with decorative effects and family keepsakes, prominently placed so it was visible to park goers and passersby. The tree in the living room was at Howard’s urging, one trimmed in red and gold and a bit more formal. “Because Sam wanted one on the front of the house.” The trees are usually up within the first week of December, but the entire decoration takes a bit of time. They started to deck the halls by late November, to the delight of their son, Cameron. In the years since the couple first met, Howard had rediscovered the pleasures of the holidays. Richey says he was always nuts about Christmas, and Howard became a convert. “Sam was never that big on Christmas until we got together. Now he’s even crazier about it than I am.” First, the front door and windows get decorated. Then exterior lights go up. Last year, Richey says, “Sam made lighted Christmas trees out of topiary frames.” Howard also put together the dining room and den mantels. Then they decorate the main tree together. The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Family, he explains, was the underlying reason for making such a fuss. Raising a son made them both go all-in when the holidays arrived. “He was 6 months old when Sam and I started living together.” Eventually, the time had come for the couple to sink down permanent roots after living in northwest Greensboro for years. They narrowed their search in order to remain near to their workplaces, school and friends. Browntown fit that bill as well. Browntown assumed its name from Brown Realty during the postwar era. The architectural styles built there were notably more formal, given the residential development was adjacent to Irving Park. “It may be a Guy Andrews­–built house,” muses Tricia Costello, owner of Carriage House Antiques & Home Decor. “He built a lot of the homes.” Costello was familiar with the Howard-Richey house, having grown up in Browntown. The couple acquired the dwelling in 2007. Once they moved in, the Howard-Richeys set to work, making an indelible stamp on the house. Of course, that included going all out for their first Christmas. Although Richey is a longtime interior designer who returned to school after earning his initial degree in order to study design, Howard took charge of the annual Christmas décor. Howard works in finance. “He’s just a big kid,” laughs Richey. “And he loves to decorate for all holidays. I help, but he just really gets into it.” Crossing through the foyer, he pauses. “It used to have a black-and-white foyer floor,” says Richie, “with a compasslike astronomical design.” His voice is heavy with regret. “Unfortunately, that’s December 2019

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probably lying ruined beneath layers of mastic.” The design was by Otto Zenke. Years before, the Sherrills had hired Zenke to lend their home special touches. The original owners were, like many affluent residents, in thrall of the designer whose main showroom still stands today near Greensboro’s City Hall. His name became synonymous with elaborate millwork and unmistakable architectural detail. Zenke decorated the Sherrill residence in the 1960s when his popularity was at its zenith. “He faux painted the den siding and probably installed the [still remaining] trellis in the sun room,” says Richey. Fast-forward to the Howard-Richeys, who later added their own special effects, intended to complement Zenke’s signature style. They meticulously hand-painted stripes in the hallway and applied decorative finishes themselves, including a faux Venetian plaster, which is featured in a bathroom. Richie, now a freelance designer, had honed his craft over the years. He formerly worked as an in-house designer with Furnitureland South. In addition to other clients, he works with Carriage House at Golden Gate Center. Today, the 60-year-old house reveals the imprints of both Richey’s flair and Zenke’s. Quickly he moves through the living room, formal dining room and newly redesigned kitchen, refreshed in white, clean finishes, through to the private areas where the family spend much of their time. But the den, for aficionados of Zenke, Greensboro’s most celebrated designer, is the gem. This is also the room the residents use most. It is vintage Zenke. “The den is still painted like Zenke painted it in 1961 or 1962, when he ‘pickled’ it,” explains Richey. Pickling was a popular whitewashing-style painted effect. “The latticework in the sunroom, and the cornices still hanging in the living and dining room, were all done by him.”

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Those finishes are classic Zenke, he says, and will remain untouched and intact. Yet in December, posh finishes and furnishings are overshadowed by the exuberant Christmas decoration, which bring an entirely different sense of nostalgia and soulfulness. The home’s holiday décor is top-to-bottom festive. Tradition and a bit of nostalgia, as Richey points out, always prevails. Stockings, ornaments and the works are brought out of storage and Howard sets to work. “We’ve been collecting Christmas items since the two of us got together in 1982,” says Richey. “Sam does most of the decoration. It takes a good week to get it all down from the attic and out [on display]. Then, we decorate the tree.” Red and gold rule. The family even used to string popcorn and cranberry garlands on the trees when Cameron was still a child. “Cameron would count,” Richey laughs, “while stringing one-two-three pieces of popcorn and one cranberry.” The holidays showcase the owners’ many collections, some specifically displayed solely at Christmas, like antique toys that date back to great-grandparents. Many of the couple’s favorite decorative items are long-loved and wellused family heirlooms. Cameron, who is now 37 with a family of his own, once played with those heirlooms. There are antique toy cars, mostly owned by Richey, and many rarities among them. The Art & Soul of Greensboro

“They are cars I actually played with,” Richey says. “When we closed out my grandmother’s house, they were in the toy box at her house. There’s a Cadillac, a Corvair, a Plymouth Valiant. And they look like new.” The family treasure those toys. “Other toys include a really old toy car that might have been my uncle’s. It says it’s a Falcon, and I would guess it’s from the late 1940s. It’s 2-feet long and we display it on the bookcase in the den.” A gorgeous nativity scene is one acquired by Richey’s great-grandmother is “still in the box — from Woolworth’s!” Richey’s great-grandmother’s baby doll crib remains on display year-round in a guest bedroom. It is a true antique. “She was born in 1900,” he explains. He says he inherited a great deal of the family heirlooms his grandmother “entrusted with me. She knew I valued it.” She was more valuable than any of her cherished objects, he adds. “She was everything to me.” When he was a toddler, Richey’s parents would put him on the train from Columbia, South Carolina to the Triad for visits with his grandmother, who worked for Southern Railway. He laughs. “I was too young to remember it.” Railroad employees watched out for their treasured young cargo. Then there are the Richey-Howard’s nonholiday collections. The collecting-mad couple displays only a portion of the bar paraphernalia they own. They’ve amassed shot glasses from travels and gifts that they guesstimate number in the hundreds — easily 500. They simply cannot display it all. December 2019

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“We don’t have it all out at this house,” says Richey. In other words, at least half is left in storage. A framed collection of foreign tobacco brand labels hangs over the mantel. They bought them because they liked them and wanted to help someone who needed cash. “We bought those from a friend going through a divorce,” Richey explains. Only later did they learn the labels were valuable. They also collect salt-and-pepper shakers, demitasse cups that were passed down in the family — and holiday items. They cannot resist adding at least one more Christmas ornament each year. “All of our ornaments are either homemade or we bought them at craft fairs,” Richey says. “We might buy one a year.” After 37 years, Richey admits, “That’s a lot.” “It meant a lot to the two of us, having our own Christmas, and our own Christmas tradition,” says Richey. “Cameron thinks it’s not Christmas unless we decorate the tree, have eggnog and play Christmas music.” Traditions are deeply instilled in their son Cameron, who now has a baby girl, Addison. Their first grandchild is now 15 months — too young to fully grasp it all. “Next year will be amazing,” Howard says. “I can’t wait!” The Art & Soul of Greensboro

“Some of Cameron’s toys, including Fozzie Bear from a Happy Meal, have been part of the Christmas tree for 30 years, along with his elementary school art ornaments,” says Richey. The colorful Fozzie Bear, a Muppet Babies Happy Meal toy from McDonalds in 1986, is stationed upon the ladder that leans against the Christmas tree — this is as it has always been. Even Fozzie, after 24 years, is now a collectible. The family is blending new traditions into old ones. On Christmas Eve, they still have dinner with Cameron, but now it is a much larger affair, including his wife, child and Cameron’s sister, Alyson, and her family. After dinner, “a few gifts” are opened. On Christmas Day, Richey and Howard travel to Lake Norman to spend time with Richey’s extended family, where 28 gather for lunch. It’s wonderful chaos, Richey laughs. “My grandmother used to say, ‘I love all my grandchildren. Just not all at once.’” He understands her point. On Christmas night, “we just enjoy the peace and quiet.” OH Cynthia Adams lives amid wonderful chaos year round. December 2019

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The Art & Soul of Greensboro


December n By Ash Alder

December is a treasure trove of fragrance and memory. One whiff of cinnamon, for instance, and I’m back in Grammy’s kitchen, watching the birds through the sunny window as cinnamon sticks simmer on the stovetop. “Is that pesky critter back?” she asks, squinting as she scans the front yard, feeders swinging like pendulums. “Oh, for Pete’s sake,” she says, watching a plump gray squirrel balance between a crape myrtle branch and a hanging tray like some kind of clumsy acrobat. “Hand me my squirt gun, would you?” Incense fumes take me back further still: to the children’s Nativity play at Catholic Mass, frankincense and myrrh wafting up toward the vaulted ceiling as toddlers slink from laps to kneelers, climb from kneelers to creaky wooden pews. As the organist fires up “Joy to the World,” all I can see is Christmas dinner (sliced ham, soft rolls, green beans, potato gratin), a smorgasbord of cookies, and the ocean of neatly wrapped presents to follow. And then — yes, there it is — the scent of Fraser fir. I must have been 11 when my folks brought home that first real tree. Until that day, unfurling and shaping the plastic branches of our tired yet faithful artificial tree was, for me, the highlight of the holidays. But once the entire house smelled like a lush woodland forest, I was forever transformed. Although I had neither the words nor the reference for it then, now I might compare the experience to some kind of awakening — like falling in love. All I knew for sure was this: If I had any say in the matter, my days of plastic trees were done. Hot chocolate, citrus, fire, peppermint bark, homemade pie . . . This aromatic month, no telling what delightful memories might come to light.

Winterberry Magic

Want to draw more birds to your backyard this and future winters? Just add berries. Audubon North Carolina’s Bird Friendly Communities Initiative dubbed the winterberry “irresistible” to wood thrushes, gray catbirds, Eastern bluebirds, American robins, cedar waxwings and woodpeckers. And this native plant just so happens to thrive in the mountains, piedmont and coastal plain. Like its iconic cousin the American holly, winterberry plants are either male or female. This means you’ll need to plant at least two-for-one to produce fruit. The winterberry flowers from April to June, and while it loses its leaves in the autumn (unlike the holly), all the better for witnessing its colorful berries, which it bears from August through December. You’ll get a better glimpse of the visiting birds that way, too. Other plants with brilliant berries: beautyberry, deciduous hollies, Washington hawthorn.

I heard a bird sing In the dark of December, A magical thing, And sweet to remember: “We are nearer to spring Than we were in September.”

— Oliver Herford, “Hope,” 1914

The Real Thing

Spruce, pine or fir, evergreen trees have long been used to celebrate winter festivals — pagan, Christian or otherwise. If you’re considering a living tree for the house and landscape this year, you’ll want to keep it outside for as long as possible (read: It won’t be happy indoors for more than 14 days). Although their needles aren’t as soft as the iconic fir, white pines thrive in North Carolina. Rosemary “trees” are another great option. Just be mindful not to “shock” them with too-cold temperatures if you snag one from a local nursery. The shorter their journey from cozy greenhouse to warm home, the better.

December Sky Watch

This month, love is in the night sky. On Saturday, Dec. 28, two days after an annular solar eclipse not visible from here (try Saudi Arabia, southern India or parts of Indonesia), a crescent moon and Venus will “kiss” in the southwestern horizon at 8:33 p.m. National Geographic named it one of the top sky-watching events of 2019. Take their cue. Mistletoe is everywhere. You know what to do.

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Stocking Stuffers for Your Favorite Gardener

• Snapdragon seeds • Pruning shears • Natural twine • Gardeners hand cream • Winter Poems, by Barbara Rogasky December 2019

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Smart Cookies



December 1 HOLLY JOLLY. 1 p.m. Cookies, Santa and historical demos . . . Must be the 47th Holiday Open House. High Point Museum, 1859 E. Lexington Ave., High Point. Info: (336) 885-1859 or highpointmuseum.org. OPUS CONCERT. 3 p.m. Greensboro Youth Jazz Ensemble delivers some cool riffs, with Matt Reid conducting. Trinity Church, 5200 W. Friendly Ave., Greensboro. Info: greensboro-nc.gov. SEASONAL SOUNDS. 3 p.m. North Carolina Symphony brings some musical merriment with its Holiday Pops concert. Hayworth Fine Arts Center, HPU, One University Parkway, High Point. Info: highpoint.edu.

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14 (15, 21 & 22)

MUSICAL MENU. 5:30 p.m. A variety of tunes ushers in the season at À la Carte’s Advent Concert, featuring the works of Bach, Brahms, folk carols, jazz improve and more. Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, 607 N. Greene St., Greensboro. Info: alcgreensboro.com.

December 1–8 LAST CHANCE. To see the politically charged exhibit Mary Kelly: Selected Works. Weatherspoon Art Museum, 500 Tate St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 334-5770 or weatherspoonart.org.

December 1–22 INTO THE FOLD. Or rather, Un/Folding, artist Alyson Shotz’s exploration of the act of folding

Holiday Heritage



through various artistic media. Weatherspoon Art Museum, 500 Tate St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 3345770 or weatherspoonart.org. SHIMMY AND SHAKE. 10 p.m. Cut a rug at Pop-Up Dance Club with DJ Jessica Mashburn. Print Works Bistro, 701 Green Valley Road, Greensboro. Info: (336) 379-0699 or printworksbistro.com.

December1–24 MANGUM’S MILIEU. See the latest from North Carolina’s painter at Re-Imagined Landscapes and New Contemporary Artworks. William Mangum Studio, 303 W. Smith St., Greensboro. (336) 3799200 or williammangum.com.

December 1–28 The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Arts Calendar CHRISTMAS PAST. Vists from St. Nick, the aroma of baked goods wafting from a brick oven, candlelight tours, workshops, a winter fair. Discover the simple pleasures of a Moravian Christmas in North Carolina. Activities and tours vary. Old Salem Museum & Gardens, 900 Old Salem Road, Winston-Salem. Info and tickets: oldsalem.org.

December 1–31 GSO HOLIDAY VISIONS. At Center for Visual Artists! The nonprofit and partner of O.Henry magazine presents its annual Holiday Showcase, featuring fine art and crafts for sale — painting, pottery, jewelry, photographs and other media — by more than 40 artists. Center for Visual Artists, 200 N. Davie St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 333-7475 or greensboroart.org.

Dec. 1–Jan. 5, 2020 RAPT! Traditional Persian miniature painting is turned on its head with the use of animation in Shahzia Sikander: Disruption as Rapture. Weatherspoon Art Museum, 500 Tate St., Greensboro. Info: weatherspoonart.org.

Dec. 1–Jan. 26, 2020 ICE-BREAKER. Chill out by donning a pair of skates at Piedmont Winterfest. LeBauer Park, 208 N. Davie St., Greensboro. Info: piedmontwinterfest.com.

Dec. 1–Feb. 23, 2020 SAAR OF WONDER. The exhibition Mirror, Mirror: The Prints of Alison Saar reveals the printmaking talents of this L.A. sculptor whose works explore history, race, mythology, folklore and more. Weatherspoon Art Museum, 500 Tate St., Greensboro. Info: weatherspoonart.org.

December 2–23 FESTIVE FLICKS. Get into to the holiday spirit with action-packed Die Hard and wind up the season with Irving Berlin’s beloved White Christmas at Carolina Classic Holiday Movies. Performance times vary. Carolina Theatre, 310 S. Greene St., Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 333-2605 or carolinatheatre.com.

December 3 SWINGLE BELLS. 11:45 a.m. Pack a lunch and groove to the sweet tones of vocalists Catherine The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Russell and Kenny Washington performing “Big Band Holidays,” streamed from Lincoln Center. High Point Public Library, 901 N. Main St., High Point. Info: (336) 885-1859 or highpointmuseum.org.

December 4 DIBS! 5:30 p.m. At First Choice, patrons get first pick to purchase art in Winter Show using credits in various amounts. GreenHill, 200 N. Davie St., Greensboro. To purchase credits: greenhillnc.org. CHEERS! 6:30 p.m. Mix it up with Sutler’s Spirit Co.’s Mark Weddle, who’ll show you how to whip up seasonal cocktails using ingredients from The Edible Schoolyard. Greensboro Children’s Museum, 200 N. Church St., Greensboro. To register: gcmuseum.com.

December 4 & 5 TWIN CITY HOLIDAY VISIONS. 9 a.m. Meet 23 juried artists and peruse their works, including silver and copper works, wearable art, kaleidoscopes and more at Twin City Artisans’ annual sale, Artisans Celebrate the Holidays. Masonic Center, 4537 Country Club Road, Winston-Salem. Info: (336) 655-6371 or twincityartisansnc.com.

December 4–8 ICED. Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and other assorted characters don skates for Disney On Ice Presents Road Trip Adventures. Performance times vary. Greensboro Coliseum, 1921 W. Gate City Blvd., Greensboro. Tickets: (800) 745-3000 or ticketmaster.com.

of Junior League of Winston-Salem, which is hosting its 10th Annual JLWS Boutique: A Shopping Extravaganza. Piedmont 4 Ballroom, Benton Convention Center, 301 W. Fifth St., WinstonSalem. Tickets: ticketmetriad.com.

Dec. 6; 12–14 & 16–18 SMART COOKIES. Meaning, those who enroll in cookie-making classes for tweens (12/6), teens, (12/12) and kids (12/13–14), or enjoy munching on them and listening to a story at Cookies with Mrs. Claus (12/16–18). Times vary. Greensboro Children’s Museum, 200 N. Church St., Greensboro. To register: gcmuseum.com.

Dec. 6–8; 11–15 & 17–22 ACH! HUMBUG! Ebenezer Scrooge is transported to a familiar locale in Little Theatre of WinstonSalem’s An Old Salem Christmas Carol. McChesney Scott Dunn Auditorium, SECCA, 750 Margueruite Drive, Winston-Salem. Tickets: LTofWS.org.

December 7 SUGARPLUMS. 9 a.m. Pick up some baklava among other treats, and the cookbook, Deliciously Greek at the Ladies Philoptochos Holiday Pastry Sale. Dormition of the Theotokos Greek Orthodox Church, 800 Westridge Road, Greensboro. Info: dormition.nc.goarch.org.

December 6

WICK-IPEDIA. 10 a.m. You can hold a candle to anyone as costumed interpreters demonstrate candledipping in Historical Park. High Point Museum, 1859 E. Lexington Ave., High Point. Info: (336) 8851859 or highpointmuseum.org.

MERRY AND BRIGHT. 6 p.m. First Friday coincides with Festival of Lights, featuring carolers along Elm, Santa in Hamburger Square and the lighting of the community Christmas tree in City Center Park. Downtown Greensboro. Info: downtownindecember.org.

YOU GOT IT MADE! 11 a.m. At Made 4 the Holidays, featuring pottery, jewelry, seasonal décor among other locally handcrafted creations. Greensboro Farmers Curb Market, 501 Yanceyville St., Greensboro. Tickets: ticketmetriad.com.

LET’S GROOVE TONIGHT. 10 p.m. To Jessica Mashburn’s spins at Pop-Up Dance Club. Print Works Bistro, Proximity Hotel, 702 Green Valley Road, Greensboro. Info: (336) 379-0699 or printworksbistro.com.

HOMEPLACE FOR THE HOLIDAYS. Noon and 5 p.m. Enjoy some seasonal sparkle at Cookies with Santa (admission $10) and a candlelight tour (admission $20). Mendenhall Homeplace, 603 Main St., Jamestown. Info: mendenhallhomeplace.com.

December 6 & 7

FAIR’S FAIR. 3 p.m. Check out pottery, watercolors, woodworking, jewelry, photography and other works of 30 local artists at Art-A-Fair. All Saints Episcopal

SWEET BUY AND BUY. 7 p.m. & 4 p.m. Get a jump on those gifts courtesy

December 2019

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Arts Calendar Church, 4211 Wayne Road, Greensboro. Info: (336) 354-9170. GET LIT! 6 to 9 p.m. Bring some nonperishable food to Candlefest, featuring music, s’mores and hot chocolate, Santa and 4,000 luminaries lighting up the night. Greensboro Arboretum, 401 Ashland Drive, Greensboro. Info: greensboro-nc.gov. AUTHOR, AUTHOR. 7 p.m. Meet Daniel Johnson, author of Wilcopedia: A Comprehensive Guide to the Music of America’s Best Band, with live Wilco covers from Outta Sight Outta Mind. Scuppernong Books, 304 S. Elm St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 763-1919 or scuppernongbooks.com. GREEN FOR GREENHILL. 7 p.m. Support GreenHill at Collector’s Choice, in which patrons can make advance purchases on pieces featured in Winter Show, before it opens to the public. GreenHill, 200 N. Davie St., Greensboro. Info: greenhillnc.org.

December 8

December 7 & 8

HO HO HO-RTICULTURE. Noon. Spend an afternoon with a right jolly old elf at In the Garden with Santa. Greensboro Council of Garden Clubs, 4301-A Lawndale Drive, Greensboro. Info: (336) 580-6617 or thegreensborocouncilofgardenclubs.com.

ALLELUIA, ALAMANCE! 10:30 a.m. & 1 p.m. Celebrate the holidays at with a greenery sale (12/7) and Christmas tea (12/8). Alamance County Historical Museum, 4777 N.C. Highway 62 South, Burlington. Info: (336) 226-8254 or alamancemuseum.org.

GREEN SCENE. Noon to 5 p.m. That would be Greensboro Beautiful’s Greenery Festival. Even if you haven’t pre-ordered a wreath, garland, poinsettia or light ball, check out the handiwork of local artisans. Lewis Recreation Center, 3110 Forest Lawn Drive, Greensboro. Info: greensborobeautiful.org.

December 7 & 9

COMIN’ TO TOWN! 3 p.m. That would be St. Nicholas, of course, main character of “The Night Before Christmas,” performed by Bel Canto Company and Greensboro Youth Chorus. Van Dyke Performance Space, 200 N. Davie St., Greensboro. Admission is free, but tickets are required. To order: (336) 333-2220 or belcantocompany.com.

RADIANT BEAMS. 8 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., respectively. Listen to old and new seasonal tunes with Bel Canto and special guest, Greensboro Youth Orchestra, at its holiday concert, “Candle, Star, Joyous Light.” Christ United Methodist Church, 410 N. Holden Road, Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 3332220 or belcantocompany.com.

AUTHOR, AUTHOR. 4 p.m. Meet Phil M. Cohen,

Irving Park

WOKE FOLK. 8 p.m. Described as “what the holidays were like before Irving Berlin,” The

Gathering features Laurelyn Dossett, April Verch, Joe Newberry and Mike Compton singing original music and Appalachian folk tunes. Carolina Theatre, 310 S. Greene St., Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 3332605 or carolinatheatre.com.

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

86 O.Henry

December 2019

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Arts Calendar author of Nick Bones Underground. Scuppernong Books, 304 S. Elm St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 7631919 or scuppernongbooks.com. HOLIDAY HEP CATS. 7:30 p.m. Sacred, secular and swingin’! Piedmont Triad Jazz Orchestra delivers some holiday pizzazz (will the program include Irving Berlin tunes?). Carolina Theatre, 310 S. Greene St., Greensboro. Tickets; (336) 333-2605 or carolinatheatre.com. BLUES XMAS. 8 p.m. Courtesy of singer and guitarist, Albert Cummings. The Crown, Carolina Theatre, 310 S. Greene St., Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 333-2605 or carolinatheatre.com.

December 8–January 17 TAR HEEL ART. Catch the works of more than 100 N.C. artists at Winter Show. GreenHill, 200 N. Davie St., Greensboro. Info: greenhillnc.org.

December 10 AUTHOR, AUTHOR. 7 p.m. Meet Ben Railton, author of We the People: The 500 Year Battle over

Who Is American. Scuppernong Books, 304 S. Elm St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 763-1919 or scuppernongbooks.com.

December 11 BARD-O-RAMA. 7 p.m. Rhymes with “drama.” Hear Page High School students’ Shakespeare recitations. Scuppernong Books, 304 S. Elm St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 763-1919 or scuppernongbooks.com. WHERE THERE’S SMOKE . . . 7:30 p.m. . . . There’s Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Catch its newly staged original show Christmas Eve and Other Stories. Greensboro Coliseum, 1921 W. Gate City Blvd., Greensboro. Tickets: livenation.com.

December 12 AUTHOR, AUTHOR. 7 p.m. Meet C. Wess Daniels, author of Resisting Empire: The Book of Revelation as Resistance. Scuppernong Books, 304 S. Elm St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 763-1919 or scuppernongbooks.com.

December 12 & 13 NIDO’S NOEL. Twinkling lights, a Polar Express, hot food, photos with Santa, a life-size Nativity . . . must be HPU’s Community Christmas Celebration. HPU, One University Parkway, High Point. Info: highpoint.edu.

December 13 BUZZWORTHY. 7 p.m. The Greensboro Swarm is back in town. The Fieldhouse, Greensboro Coliseum Complex, 1921 W. Gate City Blvd., Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 907-3600 or gsoswarm.com.

December 13–22 CRACKED. Nothin’ like seeing Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker accompanied by a live orchestra. Catch UNCSA’s annual production of the beloved ballet. Performance times vary. Stevens Center, 405 W. Fourth St., Winston-Salem. Tickets: (336) 721-1945 or uncsa.edu.

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Arts Calendar December 14

December 15

AUTHOR, AUTHOR. 3 p.m. Meet Rhonda Browning White, winner of Press 53 Short Fiction Winner for The Lightness of Water. Scuppernong Books, 304 S. Elm St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 7631919 or scuppernongbooks.com.

SHOP AND SCHMOOZE. Noon to 5 p.m. Tick off your holiday gift list with works from local artists including O.Henry’s own Lynn Donovan at “Making Spirits Bright,” a shopping soirée, replete with cash bar and food available for purchase. Double Oaks Bed & Breakfast, 204 N. Mendenhall St., Greensboro. Info: double-oaks.com.

BALL DE ROL. 6 p.m. It’s too late to register as a participant, but you can still cheer on runners and walkers, listen to live music and join in good cheer at the annual Running of the Balls. Sunset Hills neighborhood, Madison Avenue and Greenaway Drive North, Greensboro. Info: therunningoftheballs.com. BUZZWORTHY. 7 p.m. The Greensboro Swarm is back in town. The Fieldhouse, Greensboro Coliseum Complex, 1921 W. Gate City Blvd., Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 907-3600 or gsoswarm.com. WIZARD WONDERLAND. 7 p.m. Don your round specs, grab your wand and celebrate the holidays with other Hogwarts at the Harry Potter Yule Ball. Scuppernong Books, 304 S. Elm St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 763-1919 or scuppernongbooks.com. HUM-BUGS. 8 p.m. And not the Scrooge-ly kind, but the art-folk duo, Lowland Hum, who will entertain with Christmas songs. The Crown, Carolina Theatre, 310 S. Greene St., Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 333-2605 or carolinatheatre.com.

December 14 & 15 SHOW OF SHOWS. For the King of Kings. Catch this year’s Christmas Spectacular, Season of Love. Performance times vary. Lawndale Baptist Church, 3505 Lawndale Drive, Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 288-3424, ext. 309.

December 14, 15, 21 & 22

TEA AND TUTUS. 1:45 p.m. Bring your little ones out to have a cuppa with the heroine of The Nutcracker at Tea with Clara. Carolina Theatre, 310 S. Greene St., Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 333-2605 or carolinatheatre.com. WELCOME, MATT. 8 p.m. Singer/songwriter Matt Nakoa brings his blend of classical, pop and soul to the stage. The Crown, Carolina Theatre, 310 S. Greene St., Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 333-2605 or carolinatheatre.com.

December 17 BUZZWORTHY. 7 p.m. The Greensboro Swarm is back in town. The Fieldhouse, Greensboro Coliseum Complex, 1921 W. Gate City Blvd., Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 907-3600 or gsoswarm.com. AUTHOR, AUTHOR. 7 p.m. Meet John Russell, author of All the Right Circles. Scuppernong Books, 304 S. Elm St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 763-1919 or scuppernongbooks.com.

December 18 YULETIDE UKES. 7 p.m. Join the Triad Ukulele Club for a Holiday Community Sing. Scuppernong Books, 304 S. Elm St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 7631919 or scuppernongbooks.com.

December 19

NUTHOUSE. That would be the Carolina Theatre, venue for Greensboro Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker. Carolina Theatre, 310 S. Greene St., Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 333-2605 or carolinatheatre.com.

AUTHOR, AUTHOR. 7 p.m. Meet Emily Wallace, author of Road Sides: An Illustrated Companion to Dining and Driving in the American South. Scuppernong Books, 304 S. Elm St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 763-1919 or scuppernongbooks.com.

December 14 & 28

December 20

METAL HEAD. 10 a.m. & 4:30 p.m. “Earth stood hard as iron,” and so does he. The Blacksmith that is. Watch him strike at Historical Park. High Point Museum, 1859 E. Lexington Ave., High Point. Info: (336) 885-1859 or highpointmuseum.org.

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December 2019

GREEN MAN BAD. 6:30 p.m. Boo and hiss at the guy whose heart is three sizes too small at a screening of The Grinch. LeBauer Park, 208 N. Davie St., Greensboro. Info: greensboro-nc.gov.

PAWS DE DEUX. 7:30 p.m. Greensboro Ballet presents The Muttcracker, a twist on The Nutcracker with cameos by dogs, which supports SPCA of the Triad. Carolina Theatre, 310 S. Greene St., Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 333-2605 or carolinatheatre.com.

December 21 ICE QUEEN. Get ready to hear “Let It Go” ring in your ears at a special screening of Frozen II. AmStar Cinemas, Four Seasons Station, 2700 Vanstory St., Greensboro. For times and tickets: (336) 855-2926 or amstarcinemas.com.

December 21 & 22 CUPPA CHEER. 4 p.m. Hot teas from Vida Pour Tea paired with salmon sandwiches, mini chicken pies, cranberry and orange scones with clotted cream . . . Drooling yet? Then head to a Holiday Tea. Chez Genèse, 616 S. Elm St., Greensboro. Tickets: ticketmetriad.com.

December 24 JINGLE JAZZ. 6 p.m. Randy Craven, Neill Clegg and Sheila Duell bring some grooves and riffs to spice up the holidays. O.Henry Hotel, 624 Green Valley Road, Greensboro. Info: (336) 854-2000 or ohenryhotel.com.

December 27 HOLIDAY HERITAGE. 5 p.m. Bring the kiddies to a Kwanzaa Celebration. Admission $5. Greensboro Children’s Museum, 200 N. Church St., Greensboro. Info: gcmuseum.com.

December 30 BUZZWORTHY. 7 p.m. The Greensboro Swarm is back in town. The Fieldhouse, Greensboro Coliseum Complex, 1921 W. Gate City Blvd., Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 907-3600 or gsoswarm.com.

December 31 EARLY AULD LANG SYNE. 9 a.m. For tykes or anyone whose bedtime is earlier than midnight, ring in 2020 at Rockin’ Noon Year’s Eve, featuring, toast, apple juice, karaoke and dancing with Dance Project. Greensboro Children’s Museum, 200 N. Church St., Greensboro. Info: gcmuseum.com. OUT WITH THE OLD . . . 6 p.m. & 9:30 p.m. . . . and in with the new! Say “buh-bye” to 2019 The Art & Soul of Greensboro

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December 2019

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#buylocalseason • Join the effort • Visit www.triadlocalfirst.com

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while Jessica Mashburn, Dave Fox, Steve Haines & Thomas Heflin serenade you with some jazz tunes at an early show, followed by Diana Tuffin singing in 2020 with. O.Henry Hotel, 624 Green Valley Road, Greensboro. Info: (336) 854-2000 or ohenryhotel.com.

a Busy Bees preschool program focusing on music, movement, garden exploration and fun in the kitchen (members only). Greensboro Children’s Museum, 220 N. Church St., Greensboro. To register: (336) 574-2898 or gcmuseum.com.

AVETTS’ AULD LANG SYNE. 6:30 p.m. What better way to ring in 2020 than with the lively sounds of the Avett Brothers? Greensboro Coliseum, 1921 W. Gate City Blvd., Greensboro. Tickets: (800) 745-3000 or ticketmaster.com.

Noon. French leave? Au contraire! Join French Table, a conversation group. Scuppernong Books, 304 S. Elm St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 763-1919 or scuppernongbooks.com.

CRAW-DADDY. 8 p.m. That would be Broadway star Ben Crawford, who sings selections from Les Mis, Shrek and more at Greensboro Symphony’s Tanger POPS concert. Westover Church, 505 Muirs Chapel Road, Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 335-5456, ext. 224 or ticketmaster.com.

WEEKLY HAPPENINGS Mondays BUZZING. 10 a.m. Your busy little bees engage in


ABRACADABRA! 5:30 p.m. Hot cocoa, cookies, stories, crafts, Santa and Mrs. Claus — and science of the season! Start your week with Magical Mondays. Greensboro Science Center, 4301 Lawndale Drive, Greensboro. Tickets: greensborosciencecentr.org.

Arts Calendar

Family Storytime for all ages meets at 6:30 p.m. High Point Public Library, 901 N. Main St., High Point. Info: (336) 883-3666 or highpointpubliclibrary.com.

PICKIN’ AND GRINNIN’ 6 until 9 p.m. Y’all come for Songs from a Southern Kitchen, curated by O.Henry’s own Ogi Overman and featuring live performances of roots and Americana music by Dave Fox, Tanya Ross, Chuck Cotton (12/3), The South Carolina Broadcasters (12/10), Vaughan Penn & Family (12/17), as well as a special New Year’s Eve show (12/31). Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen, 1421 W. Westover Terrace, Greensboro. Info: (336) 370-0707 or lucky32.com/fried_chicken.htm.


Tuesdays READ ALL ABOUT IT. Treat your little ones to story times: BookWorms (ages 12–24 months) meets at 10 a.m.; Time for Twos meets at 11 a.m. Storyroom;

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

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shops • service • food • farms • shops • service • food • farms • shops • service • food • farms • shops

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December 2019

#buylocalseason • Join the effort • Visit www.triadlocalfirst.com

O.Henry 91

support locally owned businesses

shops • service • food • farms • shops • service • food • farms • shops • service • food • farms • shops

Thursdays ALL THAT JAZZ. 6 p.m. Hear live, local jazz with the O.Henry Trio and selected guests Carrie Marshall (12/5), Malik Denny (12/12), Angela Bingham (12/19) and Diana Tuffin (12/26). All performances are at the O.Henry Hotel Social Lobby Bar. No cover. 624 Green Valley Road, Greensboro. Info: (336) 854-2000 or www.ohenryhotel.com/jazz.htm. JAZZ NIGHT. 7 p.m. Fresh-ground, freshbrewed coffee is served with a side of jazz at Tate Street Coffee House, 334 Tate St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 275-2754 or www.tatestreetcoffeehouse.com. OPEN MIC COMEDY. 8 p.m. Local pros and amateurs take the mic at the Idiot Box, 503 N. Greene St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 274-2699 or idiotboxers.com.

Fridays THE HALF OF IT. 5 p.m. Enjoy the hands-on

exhibits and activities for half the cost of admission at $5 Fun Fridays ($3 on First Fridays). Greensboro Children’s Museum, 220 N. Church St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 574-2898 or gcmuseum.com.

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

Saturdays TO MARKET, TO MARKET. 7 a.m. until noon. The produce is fresh and the cut fleurs belles. Greensboro Farmers Curb Market, 501 Yanceyville St., Greensboro. Info: gsofarmersmarket.org. THRICE UPON A TIME. 11 a.m. Hear a good yarn at Children’s Storytime. Scuppernong Books, 304 S. Elm St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 763-1919 or scuppernongbooks.com.

WRITE IS MIGHT. 3 p.m. Avoid writer’s block by joining a block of writers at Come Write In, a confab of scribes who discuss their literary projects. Scuppernong Books, 304 S. Elm St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 763-1919 or scuppernongbooks.com. JAZZ ENCORE. 7 p.m. Hear contemporary jazz cats Ariel Pockock, Steve Haines, Chad Edy and Thomas Heflin (12/7), Sarah Strable and Friends (12/14), Tanya Ross and the O.Henry Trio (12/21), Lalenja Harrington and the O.Henry Trio (12/28), while noshing on seasonal tapas at O.Henry Jazz series for Select Saturdays. O.Henry Hotel, 624 Green Valley Road, Greensboro. Info: (336) 854-2000 or ohenryhotel.com. 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, 503 N. Greene St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 274-2699 or idiotboxers.com.



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92 O.Henry

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The Art & Soul of Greensboro

#buylocalseason • Join the effort • Visit www.triadlocalfirst.com

shops • service • food • farms • shops • service • food • farms • shops • service • food • farms • shops

Arts Calendar

Saturdays & Sundays KIDS’ CRAFTS. Idle hands are the devil’s workshop — unless you enroll Junior in one of three structured activities at Greensboro Children’s Museum: Art Studio encourages making art in all kinds of media; at Music Makers kids can shake, rattle and roll with percussion instruments; while Get Moving! inspires physical activities. Times and dates vary. Greensboro Children’s Museum, 220 N. Church St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 574-2898 or send an email mailto: marketing@gcmuseum.com.

Arts Calendar

ups, too. A $5 admission, as opposed to the usual $10, will allow you entry to exhibits and more. Greensboro Children’s Museum, 220 N. Church St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 574-2898 or gcmuseum.com. MISSING YOUR GRANDMA? 3 p.m. until it’s gone: Tuck into the quintessential comfort food: skillet-fried chicken, and mop that cornbread in, your choice, giblet gravy or potlikker. Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen, 1421 W. Westover Terrace, Greensboro. Info: (336) 370-0707 or lucky32.com/ fried_chicken.htm.

Sundays GROOVE AND GRUB. 11 a.m. Chow down on mouth-watering Southern brunch fare (biscuits, anyone?), courtesy of Chef Irvin J. Williams, while students from the Miles Davis Jazz Program serenade you with smooth jazz. The Historic Magnolia House, 442 Gorrell St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 617-3382 or thehistoricmagnoliahouse.com.

To add an event, email us at


by the first of the month


HALF FOR HALF-PINTS. 1 p.m. And grown-

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

December 2019

#buylocalseason • Join the effort • Visit www.triadlocalfirst.com

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O.Henry 93

Here’s what we’ve been up to!

Want to join in on the fun? Sign up for our weekly newsletter about what’s happening in Greensboro.







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O.Henry 95

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December 2019

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

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Come. Sit. Heal. We strive to provide complete care for our patients. Preventive & Wellness Care • Hospitalization Medicine / Surgery • Dentistry • And more ...

Dr. John Wehe 120 W. Smith Street • Greensboro NC | 336.338.1840

w w w .do w n t o w n gre e n sbo ro an imalhospital. com The Art & Soul of Greensboro


December 2019

O.Henry 101


Arts & Culture

The sounds of the season ring bright and clear with holiday melodies new and old. DECEMBER 7 | SAT | 8PM DECEMBER 9 | MON | 7:30PM CHRIST UNITED METHODIST CHURCH 410 N HOLDEN RD, GREENSBORO

T N B


FREE FAMILY MATINÉE PERFORMANCE A concert “for kids from one to ninty-two” DECEMBER 8 | SUN | 3PM


Tickets are available at www.belcantocompany.com and 336-333-2220. T IC K E TS

GENERAL : $30.00 SENIORS (65+) : $25.00 COLLEGE STUDENTS : $10.00 H.S. STUDENTS & YOUNGER : $5.00

Sponsored by



www. CPLogan.com 102 O.Henry

December 2019

The Art & Soul of Greensboro


Fine Art Animal Portraits


meridithmartens@nc.rr.com 910 692-9448 www.meridithmartens.com


Arts & Culture


Jan. 24, 2020 I 8 p.m. I UNCG Auditorium Tickets available now vpa.uncg.edu/ucls/tickets

CAMILLE A. BROWN & DANCER February 8, 2020

RENÉE FLEMING Soprano February 26, 2020

ANN HAMILTON Visual Artist March 19, 2020

DAVEED DIGGS Original Cast of Hamilton April 9, 2020




307 State Street, Greensboro (336) 279-1124 • www.obriengallery.com

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

December 2019

O.Henry 103


It’s A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play Adapted by Joe Landry

Arts & Culture

from the screenplay by Frances Goodrich, Albert Hackett, Frank Capra, and Jo Swerling

December 1 - 22, 2019

Help an angel earn his wings. A 1940’s live radio broadcast re-imagines the classic story of George Bailey, a man ready to throw it all away before a stranger comes to show him how important he is. Be reminded that we all have a place and celebrate how wonderful life is for the holidays.


104 O.Henry

December 2019

The Art & Soul of Greensboro


Kathy Fordham, Brian Goldberg, Phyllis Sharpe

Art Lives Here

Hirsch Wellness Healing Arts Program

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Photographs by Lynn Donovan Sherry Clinard, Shelly Hall, Ann Evans

Tara Blake, Katy Tourney Maria Gonzalez, Carlos Velez Pam Fleming, Melanie Meredith, Karen Makar, Barbara Brown

Sally Cone, Jack Stratton, Yolanda Little, Laurie Cone, Ruby Phipps Eric Cottingham, Mollie Lambrecht

Jamie & Mary Lewis, Lisa Blair

Marianne DiNapoli-Mylet & Tom Mylet Jorge Maldonado, Karla Alfonsin

Carol Moates, Judy Meyler, Cathy & John Wrenn

Louise Grape, Dr. Matt & Allison Manning

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

December 2019

O.Henry 105


Ellen Newbold, Nancy Seay, Ann Westergaard

Riley & Lisa Shapiro

Art in the Arboretum Sunday, October 6, 2019

Photographs by Lynn Donovan

Janelle, Autumn, Jordan & James Cook

John & Mildred Michael Amy Siller, Mary Beth Boone

Zenaida, Yosenia & Rosalie Davis

Adrian, Dan & Sienna Tu

Amy Jasinowski, Paula Morrow, Karen Hutchinson

Ruth Dunnuck, Amy McDonald

Sean & Ginny Olson, Diana Morse

Eric, Zielle & Ludell McRae

Nick Deuterman, Maia Murdock

106 O.Henry

December 2019

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

A Real Joy of the HOLIDAY Season is the opportunity to say

Thank You

And wish you a very Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and the very best for the New Year Kay and Xan

Chesnutt - Tisdale Team Xan Tisdale 336-601-2337

Kay Chesnutt 336-202-9687

Xan.Tisdale@bhhsyostandlittle.com Kay.Chesnutt@bhhsyostandlittle.com ©2017 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.

Greensboro Opera presents:

Gian-Carlo Menotti’s

and the Night Visitors

December 19 & 20, 2019 7:30 p.m.

December 22, 2019 2:00 p.m.

Well-Spring Theatre December 21, 2019 7:30 p.m.

Arts & Culture

AMAHL Lexington Civic Center


The Art & Soul of Greensboro

December 2019

O.Henry 107


Jane Levy, Jim Exum, Porter Aichele

Ben Blozam, Cheri Poss

Meet the Artists of Pagliacci Reception Greensboro Opera

Wednesday, October 30, 2019 Photographs by Lynn Donovan

Elvira O. Green, Myrna Carlock, Suzanne Kantorski

Andrea Allen, Mitchiko Stavert Joel Sorensen (Beppe), David Pershall (Silvio)

Anne Smith, Judy Jolly, Myrna Carlock

Anna Clare Allen, Larry Phillips, Corrie Middleton

Steven White, Elvira O. Green

Jerry & Marnie Ruskin David Holley, Jonathan Smith

Genie Schwartz, Judy Jolly

108 O.Henry


December 2019

Peggy & Phil Johnson

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Tommy & Sarah Gray, Nicole East, Jay Stadler

GreenScene A Special Blend Community in A Cup Gala & Fundraiser Saturday, November 2, 2019

Photographs by Lynn Donovan Becky O’Hare, Jeb & Molly Burns, Steve Hase, Leanne & Todd Rosenbower Deb Vincent, Jill Cox, Cathie Sexton, Jo Hughes

Larry & Jan Keiner, Diane & Mike Boger

Terri & Sarah Ramsey, Jo Hughes

Amy & Kevin Kemp

Don, Michelle, Carlee & Kevin Dempsey

Joan Hollis, Joanna Cox, Cassie Hughes, Noelle Davis Gracie & Liz Weaver

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Jamie Dalton, Laura Kilpatrick

Daniel & Christina Prevo

Ali Ahmuty, Amy Patrick

December 2019

O.Henry 109

Unique Shoes! Beautiful Clothes!! Artisan Jewelry!!! Shoes Sizes 6 - 11 • Clothes Sizes S - XXL

507 State Street, Greensboro NC 27405 336-275-7645 • Mon - Sat 11am - 6pm www.LilloBella.com

501 State Street Greensboro, 27205 336.274.4533 • YamamoriLtd.com

110 O.Henry

December 2019

10:00-5:30 Monday-Friday 10:00-3:00 Saturday and by Appointment

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

The Accidental Astrologer

More Changes Afoot Hold your sigh of relief that 2019 is almost over because the stars predict a ride of a lifetime in 2020

By Astrid Stellanova

Humankind dances to the tune of celestial music, the sky full of

stars seemingly winking at us to its beat. But there is more to know, Star Children. The universe is shifting, and its secrets will soon be revealed. We are on the verge of astrological history ahead, when Ceres, Mercury, Pluto, and Saturn line up at 22 degrees Capricorn. As we conclude a year with more drama and ruckus than anybody, even me, could have predicted, with more change coming. You ain’t seen nothing yet. The December-born, whether Sagittarius or Capricorn, make a mark so big they only need one name to remember: Beethoven, Sinatra, Disney, Matisse, Bogart. What future greats will be born this month? Sagittarius (November 22–December 21) Honey, when you look back, you’ll realize this year has been one of transformative changes. Just as Dorothy opened up the farmhouse door (’cause it’s the 80th anniversary of The Wizard of Oz this year) to a vivid, colorful reality so different from the black-and-white one she knew in Kansas, you, too will enter a new world. Technicolor was a miracle then, and it is going to be a miracle that your own black-and-white life is drab no more! Capricorn (December 22–January 19) Sometimes you may feel like you’re in a bewildering, upside-down and bassackwards family. But like a redneck marriage, even if you got a divorce, well, Sugar, you still are connected. Aquarius (January 20–February 18) Would you be willing to go all in for your dreams to come true? What would you eliminate? Strip away? Like a lady of the night promised for the right price, “Everthang but my earrings.” Pisces (February 19–March 20) A reckoning is ahead. Might as well be rolled in meal and fried in lard if you don’t face facts. It’s sometimes more important to be honest than to be right. Darlin’, here comes your truth test. Aries (March 21–April 19) You found yourself after a lot of searching, Sweet Pea, like finding a car when they mowed the yard. Treasure found! Keep the grass cut and enjoy the wheels of discovery. Taurus (April 20–May 20) Holy shiplap! Here is you, your fine self, doing honest work and feeling good about yourself. How’s it feel, Honey Bun? Can you admit that it wasn’t so hard after all to be a team player? The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Gemini (May 21–June 20) It don’t require a trip up the hog’s rear end to know where there’s bacon. Despite everything, you seem to want to do things the hard way. Maybe this is a time to reconnoiter. Cancer (June 21–July 22) Sugar, it’s like buying a camouflage toilet seat: You will still get busted when you miss. If you spend too much time on covering up the possibility of error, you don’t gain a dang thing. Leo (July 23–August 22) Like being too drunk to fish, your life has been a contradiction in terms. Seems like you want two entirely different paths, but can’t see they eventually converge in the — say whaaaat? — parking lot. Virgo (August 23–September 22) Mind your own biscuits, and life will be milk gravy. You got so close to the dream, then you changed your order when you heard somebody else talking to the waitress. Find your truest ground. Libra (September 23–October 22) Saw the T-shirt that says, “You ain’t Baroque. You’re just out of Monet.” Like the person who printed it, you have a sense of humor and it must be used. In the toughest of times, it will save you, Funny Bunny. Scorpio (October 23–November 21) You keep wondering why folks don’t get you. You love the South, a good story, and home for the holidays. Truthfully, you ain’t as mysterious as people think. You’re just better-dressed. 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. December 2019

O.Henry 111

O.Henry Ending


By Bill Fields

My ’66 Mustang needs a paint job, and the wheels are wobbly on my ’62 Ferrari. But compared with my ’63 Vauxhall Estate Car, whose windows are broken and back hatch is missing, the first two vehicles are looking good.

Now, I’m not really a car collector. I’m not even a real collector of these 1:64 scale miniatures that had so many of us hoping we had 49 cents in our pocket — approximately two visits from the tooth fairy — for a purchase years ago. My dozen were rescued from the corner of a closet where they had been garaged for a long time. Lots of things shout “child of the ’60s,” but does any toy do it better than a Matchbox car? As the advertising copy said: “For boys and girls of all ages . . . built of pressure die-cast metal by English craftsmen . . . nothing to assemble, ready to use . . . colorful nontoxic baked enamel finish, authentic in every detail.” I’m glad I never snacked on my vehicles, just in case, but the Matchbox Series did have a lot going for it. Detroit might not have ever been usurped as a car capital if its workmanship had been as fine as that in the toys manufactured in England by Lesney Products. Although small enough to fit in a child’s hand, some of the models consisted of more than 100 parts. They were finely assembled, with details that mirrored the real thing. Automakers on both sides of the Atlantic, happy with the publicity, shared specifications with the toy company that allowed for great authenticity in the replicas. As a kid who loved small things — a pocket magnetic checkers set, tiny stapler, mini-football helmet pencil sharpener, miniature golf — Matchbox cars were right in my wheelhouse.

112 O.Henry

December 2019

Lesney began after World War II in London, a collaboration of friends and military veterans Leslie Smith and Rodney Smith, who used syllables from each of their first names as the company moniker. Toys weren’t the focus of the die-cast business until another man, Jack Odell, joined the original partners. The Matchbox brand sprouted from Odell’s initial Lilliputian design — a brass steamroller he built in 1952 for his daughter that met her school’s edict that students couldn’t bring toys larger than a matchbox. Odell and Leslie Smith started producing their line of vehicles in 1953, Rodney Smith having sold out to his partners two years earlier. Their first design was a miniature gilded coach for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, a hot seller that was followed by a bulldozer, fire engine and, in 1954, Lesney’s first car, an MG. Lesney was producing more than a million vehicles a week by the early 1960s as Matchbox cars were being sold in great numbers all over the world. “We produce more Rolls-Royces in a single day,” Odell told The New York Times, “than the Rolls-Royce company has made in its entire history.” My fanciest Matchbox model is a ’64 Lincoln Continental, sea-foam green, whose trunk was just big enough to hold a piece of candy corn. I like my oldest model, a ’61 gray and red “Bedford Tipper” truck that I probably was given before I was old enough to really bang it around, which could explain why it looks as if it just came off the lot. I was well-equipped for emergency response, owning a ’62 ambulance, ’65 wrecker and ’66 firetruck, its removable plastic ladder on the roof and ready to rescue someone trapped on the second story. There are versions of the Dodge Wreck Truck that make them a rare and valuable collectible because of a manufacturing quirk, but mine is run-of-the-mill and a little sad, its tow hook gone. I’ll blame the snapped-off part on my nephews, who were playing with my little cars on visits to their grandparents about the time I was getting my driver’s license. New generation, same old fun. OH Southern Pines native Bill Fields, who writes about golf and other things, moved north in 1986 but hasn’t lost his accent. The Art & Soul of Greensboro


Low mileage, one owner, gently used

so happy they can dance again Bill and Susan Fagg of Thomasville, N.C.

care for life Bill and Susan Fagg danced through life until his hip pain ended the fun. For years, Bill avoided what he feared would be extensive surgery. As the pain worsened, he talked to a friend, an orthopaedic surgeon. He suggested the nationally renowned bone and joint care at Wake Forest Baptist Health, where Bill was identified as a great candidate for anterior hip replacement — just the kind of less invasive option he was looking for. Getting both hips replaced over three months relieved the pain, leaving Bill and Susan so happy they can dance again.