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O.Henry 5


February 2015 Features

49 Mr. Moore’s Sophomore Biology Poetry by Steve Cushman

50 The Billionaire Boys Club

Business is business but good friends are priceless By Maria Johnson

54 Our Funny Valentines

A few silly verses in praise of the old town By Various Poets

60 Carolina Chocolate Drops

The art of reinventing an iconic musical group By Grant Britt

62 Nutsy’s Love Nest

The Turcot’s share a 41-year-old love affair and one adorable love nest By Cynthia Adams

69 February Almanac

By Noah Salt Hearts in bloom, Hort-speak and late winter to-do list

Departments 9 Simple Life By Jim Dodson 12 Short Stories 15 Doodad By Grant Britt 17 O.Harry By Harry Blair 18 Life’s Funny By Maria Johnson 21 Omnivorous Reader By Brian Lampkin 25 Scuppernong Bookshelf 29 Pleasures of Life By Bill Hancock 33 Gate City Journal By Scott Romine 39 Seen & Unseen By Max Carter 41 Chasing Hornets By Wiley Cash 43 Birdwatch By Susan Campbell 45 Life of Jane By Jane Borden 70 Arts & Entertainment February Calendar 82 Worth the Drive to Winston-Salem 83 Worth the Drive to High Point 87 N.C. Writer’s Notebook By Sandra Redding 89 GreenScene 95 Accidental Astrologer By Astrid Stellanova 96 O.Henry Ending By Sandra Redding

Cover Photograph John Gessner

6 O.Henry

February 2015

The Art & Soul of Greensboro


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8 O.Henry

February 2015

The Art & Soul of Greensboro


Simple Life

Growing Older

By Jim Dodson

There are two great days

Illustration by Kira schoenfelder

in a person’s life, Mark Twain said — the day we were born and the day we figure out why.

Like it or not, once a year, everyone gets a birthday. It’s one of life’s few ironclad guarantees. For some, a birthday is an excellent reason to push back the rug, open something bubbly and be toasted by your friends. For others, it’s simply a good reason to retreat to the nearest wing chair and open a good book until the moment quietly passes, hoping no one pays much attention. “I’ve outgrown my need for birthdays,” a sprightly friend who recently turned 90 cheerfully confided not long ago. “At this point, I’m just looking forward to a nice weekend.” For better or worse, when it comes to celebrating birthdays — one of which I have this month, as it happens — I tend to fall somewhere between these social extremes: pleased that I’ve notched another year of good health (knock wood) and service to those around me (knock wood again) but no longer someone who needs, or even desires, a birthday party in his honor. For better or worse, wing chairs mean far more to me these days than wing dings. Since about age 40, in fact, birthdays — like every item on life’s crowded calendar — seem to come whizzing around again with the startling swiftness of tax day. Looking back from the milepost of threescore years, I’d scarcely gotten adjusted to cracking 50 before I was suddenly 52 and feeling powerfully nostalgic and not a little worried that only five minutes ago I was a giddy 40-year-old and first-time father cradling a pink and wiggly newborn in my hands, with a second one soon to follow. Now (and this is almost dizzying to accept) that beautiful wiggly newborn just turned 26, her kid brother is 24, and both live in Brooklyn, building admirable lives and making their fortunes in a city that never sleeps. Back here in the provinces, meanwhile, as of the second day of this month — Groundhog Day to the wider world, a day when a cantankerous, overweight rodent is expected to forecast winter’s end and spring’s arrival — yet another birthday has come with alarming celerity and their old man fields all sorts of bad jokes and silly cards from well-meaning friends and colleagues about seeing his shadow, all meant in the spirit of good clean furry fun, my having finally made peace with life’s brevity but mildly wondering where all the time went? How quickly tempus really did fugit. To many people, including this aging ground hog, the unsettling feeling that life speeds dramatically up as you age — summers that pass in a blur, The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Christmas decorations that seem to go up only weeks after they came down — is a very real phenomenon and apparently quite commonplace among all of us as we age. Theories abound why. When you’re very young, the most prominent theory goes, the passage of a single day, week or even a year represents a larger percentage of your life than later years, hence “time” is stretched out, accounting for the relative slowness with which the hours seem to pass. Mathematically speaking, this explains why when you’re a sprout, quiet summer days can seem a small eternity, while Christmas takes its own sweet time coming. As cold theories go, this sounds remarkably logical — though in fact there’s not a lot of truth to it. According to folks unlocking the last frontiers of brain science, neurologists and geriatric psychologists and such, the real answer to this riddle lies purely in our brains, not our clocks, located in the realm of human perception and that portion of the brain researchers say is responsible for recording new experiences and emotions, setting down the vivid details of life as they happen, accumulating memories and forming impressions as the years unfold. In a nutshell, when you’re young, new experiences make a strong impression upon your raw perceptions of reality, stimulating the brain’s ability to record and process every small detail, and thus “time” appears to pass slowly as data is collected. As the brain matures and life becomes more routine, generally speaking, only fresh experiences or peak events (getting married, meeting your sports hero, visiting Tahiti, winning an Oscar) tend to highlight the passage of years, like distance markers on a memory highway. Other events flicker before us as if from the scrapbook of our lives — blurring memory with life as we age — thus speeding up the passage of time. One notable exception to this phenomenon that proves the rule involves individuals who live through some variation of a life-altering event (car crash, death of a loved one, earthquake, divorce) and often describe “time standing still” during such trials as their brain works overtime to record the details of what is happening. “Time is a rubbery thing,” notes neuroscientist David Eagleman. “It stretches out when you really turn your brain resources on, and when you say, ‘Oh, I got this, everything is as expected,’ it [time] shrinks up.” Which, in part, explains why many older folks — even those suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia — seem to dwell in the past. They often hang onto amazing details from their earliest days, even as the sands of their hourglass dwindle, recalling distant events with startling clarity, almost as if “it happened just yesterday,” as my own mother used to say even as mild dementia ravaged her short-term memory. In other words, by the time you’re, say, 40 or 50 or 60, you’ve basically seen and done it all (or think you have) and most of your furry groundhog days are so February 2015

O.Henry 9


Simple Life

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ruled by devotion to familiar routines of work and play, time literally flies past without us bothering to notice. The researchers say that the cure for altering this perception — slowing down the illusion of time’s inexorable flight, if you will — is to consciously alter the routines of daily life, adding fresh experiences that stir the soul and stimulate the brain and deepen one’s perception of the “here and now.” That way we revive time’s remarkable elastic ability to record different experiences and form new insights, awakening one’s awareness of moments as they arrive, something mystics, wise grannies and baseball philosophers have understood for millennia. “Age is a case of mind over matter,” observed one Leroy Robert “Satchel” Paige, the fireballing African-American pitcher who made his Major League debut pitching for the Cleveland Indians at age 42 in 1948. “If you don’t mind, it don’t matter.” Paige pitched brilliantly in the bigs until age 47, appearing in three All Star games. Satchel helped break the color barrier in American sports. Sophocles wrote new plays into extreme old age. Cicero took up learning to play the lyre in his 80s. Da Vinci’s most celebrated works and scientific breakthroughs came in his dotage. Astronomer, mathematician and philosopher Galileo Galilei was an old man approaching his 70th birthday when a papal court condemned and excommunicated him for the heresy of defending his view that the sun — not the earth — was the center of the universe. It only took the Catholic church another five centuries to issue an apology for its divine error in judgment. “Age, toward which you draw amid the storms of life,” wrote the Renaissance poet and scholar Petrarch to his anxious friends and former pupils near the end of his life, eight centuries before Satchel Paige came to the same conclusion, “is nothing so dreadful. Those who call it so have found all stages of life unwelcome, thanks to their mishandling of life, not a particular age. The latter years of a learned, modest man are sheltered and serene. He has appeased the storms within his breast, he has left behind the reefs of strife and labor, he is protected as by a ring of sunny hills from outer storms. So go securely and do not delay. A harbor opens where you feared a shipwreck.” As I’ve learned from sixty-two Ground Hog days, time may indeed fly, but it also deepens things, including one’s appreciation for the onward journey. As your legs weaken, your perception of living in a world that is as flawed as it is beautiful and your ability to notice what makes us all so human, given half a chance and mind open to new experiences, really does gain strength as the days pass away. Perhaps as a result of this unexpected gift (one of life’s greatest unadvertised compensations, I think) the very idea of growing older doesn’t rattle me one bit, and quite the contrary advances the possibility — certainly the importance — that one may somehow grow in both stature and wisdom as we age and mellow, enjoying the opportunity to acquire the grace and perspective to accept life on its own terms instead of imposing our wills and agendas on people and circumstances. The older I get, for example, the more I’m pleasantly surprised to discover that I’m far less judgmental about a million little things [insert annoyance here] and find myself worrying less and less about death and where and how I’ll end my journey than how I choose to spend the precious hours of whatever time I have remaining enriching my own days by giving more and needing less. Like T.S. Eliot’s Prufrock, who grew “old and old” and wore the bottoms of his trousers rolled, I find my tastes have become surprisingly simpler, perhaps an echo of the farming race I hail from. One way or another, as I grow closer again to the earth, I find the landscape of home and place means more than I ever imagined it would when I set off four decades ago to see what was over the horizon. So for my birthday this year, I plan to take a nice long walk with my wife and the dogs through a winter-brown field and maybe plant a couple of river birches in my yard. The definition of an optimist, my father told me many decades ago, is a fellow who plants a tree so late in his life he knows he’ll never be able to sit beneath it. Growing older helps you understand what such a gift really means. Besides, river birches grow rather quickly. OH Contact editor Jim Dodson at jim@ohenrymag.com.

10 O.Henry

February 2015

The Art & Soul of Greensboro


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Short Short Stories Stories

O.Henry Sez

From his portrait hanging proudly in the O.Henry Hotel Social Lobby, William Sydney Porter will preside over free jazz, steamy vocals and his fave — classic cocktails. Can you say sazerac? Every Thursday from 5:30 until 8:30 p.m., guest vocalists will tap the Great American Songbook accompanied by jazz saxophonist Neill Clegg and pianist David Fox, aka Dr. Drave. So what if the Oak Room at NYC’s Algonquin Hotel has closed? Long live swing, bebop and cool jazz at Greensboro’s own O.Henry. Info: (336) 854-2000 or www.ohenryhotel.com.

Our picks for what’s happening in Greensboro this month

What We’re Drinking

Reading Gia’s cocktail menu is a little like reading a CliffsNotes guide to mixology. (In fact, Gia’s offers a monthly class on making cocktails, with the next one on martinis, Sunday, February 22 at 5:30 p.m.) Dating from the late 1800s are Manhattans, Old Fashioneds and the Martinez. The Martinez? This is not your father’s martini, but it might be your grandfather’s. “This is the cocktail that started it all, the predecessor of the dry martini,” says Nino Giaimo, Gia’s owner. Starting with Old Tom Gin, which bristles with juniper and coriander, Giaimo adds Luxardo maraschino liqueur, dry vermouth and, the coup de grâce, wormwood bitters, for a hint of sweetness — and a floral bouquet perfect for Valentine’s Day. Info: (336) 907-7536 or www.drinkeatlisten.com.

The still clip from the video A Declaration by Israeli artist Yael Bartana is just one of many works of art on display at Weatherspoon focusing on the dynamic and controversial issues centered around Israel’s and Palestine’s boundaries. Though a perennial symbol of peace, the olive tree will immediately suggest to Palestinians the common practice of uprooting olive trees on agricultural land adjacent to extremist Jewish settlements. Similarly, other works in Zones of Contention: After the Green Line bring thorny issues to the forefront. Beginning with a director’s preview on February 7, free tours, programs and films developed locally will run throughout February, March and April. Info: (336) 334-5770 or weatherspoon.uncg.edu.

What We’re Slurping

Guys, if your squeeze thinks you’re insufficiently romantic, listen up: 1) Valentine’s Day is, duh, February 14. 2) The ladies love bubbly. 3) Beer does not fall under the “bubbly” classification. 4) And beer is not an aphrodisiac for anyone but yourself. 5) No less than the Science Channel affirms that oysters “are perhaps the most famous of aphrodisiacs.” 6) At its Cotswold location from Thursday through Sunday of Valentine week, Libby Hill Seafood’s Oyster Bar is offering a dozen oysters with, yes!, a bubbly Prosecco split — plus, you each get your choice of a glass of beer or wine for $25. 7) The oysters, from the Chesapeake Bay, are triploids, genetically altered so they’re sterile. That way they fatten up fast since they’re not thinking about you know what all the time. Beer lover alert: a flight of six beers and a half peck of oysters for $19.99 anytime. Info: (336) 288-6782 or libbyhill.com.

12 O.Henry

February 2015

Our Bad

O.Henry’s resident foodie apparently got so enthralled extolling the Middle Eastern fare at Koshary, a new restaurant on 200 South Elm bringing Egypt to downtown Greensboro, he scrambled the phone number. It is (336) 763-0944. Website: www.mykoshary.com.

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

PhotographS: Nino giaimo, VanderVeen Photographers

Zoning In


Go West

After an aspiring actress and a film archivist meet at Mae West’s grave, they form a friendship based on their obsessive fandom. Acting out memorable moments from the legendary film star’s life in Dirty Blonde through February 15 at the Triad Stage’s Pyrle Theater, comedy ensues, along with two of West’s most memorable songs, “I’m No Angel” and “She Done Him Wrong.” The title comes from West’s famous quip: “I made myself platinum, but I was born a dirty blonde.” Info: (336) 272-0160 or triadstage.org.

Selfies are Nothing New.

Picking up on our recent obsession with creating digital dittographs of ourselves, Greenhill is mounting fifty portraits by Greensboro artist Fritz Janschka, who was classically trained in his native Vienna, exploring the portraiture style of historically renowned artists. The result? “Wonderful conversations between artists from different ages,” says curator Edie Carpenter. In tandem, thirty-some contemporary N.C. artists will “evoke personal narratives that may be meditations on the passage of time — or reflections of larger social or psychological relationships,” says Carpenter. On display through April 2, the exhibits will be paired with a series of gallery events encouraging museum-goers to capture themselves in a variety of media, including submitting “selfies” through Instagram or Twitter by using hashtag #1512selfieportrait to @greenhillnc. Prints of these “selfies” will be on display throughout the exhibition. Info: (336) 333-7460 or www. greenhillnc.org.

Sun at the Starr

Referring to her play, Raisin in the Sun, the first serious drama about a black family to play on Broadway, Lorraine Hansberry wrote to her mother in 1959, “I think it will help a lot of people to understand how we are just as complicated as they are — and just as mixed up — but above all, that we have among our . . . ranks people who are the very essence of human dignity.” Beginning February 13 and running through March 1, Community Theatre of Greensboro will demonstrate that Hansberry’s observations — and her play at The Starr Theatre — are just as relevant today as they were in 1959. Info: (336) 333-7470 or ctgso.org.

Dinner of Champions

Think and eat local on Saturday, February 21, when the O.Henry Hotel hosts the Night of the Literary Stars, showcasing five homegrown writers and a toothsome four-course, wine-paired menu. Beginning with cocktails at 6 p.m., Jim Dodson, O.Henry’s own editor and four-time New York Times Bestseller, will emcee the event. Featured will be up-andcoming author Wiley Cash, veteran novelist Clyde Edgerton, nationally acclaimed memoirist Frances Mayes and N.C.’s chronicler of small towns Jill McCorkle. Preceded by the second annual O.Henry Book Fair co-sponsored by UNCG’s MFA Writing Program from 1-3 p.m. (free of charge featuring thirty local authors — also at the O.Henry Hotel), the Night of the Literary Stars features an evening of storytelling followed by a book-signing after-party, all for $150, with proceeds benefitting the Greensboro Ballet. Bed down in one of the hotel’s luxe rooms and enjoy all the events, plus a cozy Sunday breakfast with the authors for $265 per person. Info: (336) 544-9605 or ohenryhotel.com.

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Ogi Sez Ogi Overman Since Valentine’s Day is coming up, why not celebrate all month by taking your honey to a concert or two? Or five? Unlike a box of chocolates, you’ll know what you’re getting. • February 6, High Point Theatre: If acoustic guitar wizardry is your thing, the Master of the Martin, Shaun Hopper, awaits. Think virtuosos Tony Rice and Leo Kottke meet storytellers Townes Van Zandt and Steve Earle. Then add Hopper’s own unique percussive style and you have an evening of pure rapture. • February 7, Blind Tiger: The Raleigh quintet, American Aquarium, is going for it. They recorded their new album, Burn, Flicker, Die, in, ahem, Muscle Shoals, and got, double ahem, Jason Isbell to produce it. Need anything else?

• February 13,

Greensboro Coliseum: If there are any hotter country artists who are not on “The Voice,” the short list surely includes Jason Aldean. You’re looking at the past, present and future of country music. • February 14, Potent Potables: Valentine’s Day falls on a Saturday this year, which gives Jessica Mashburn a chance to dress up even more elaborately than usual. Choose from an equally eclectic selection of wines and craft beers to go with your endearingly quirky vocalist/pianist. • February 21, Green Bean (Elm Street): This is where the Avett Brothers got their start. Hopefully following that trajectory is the Rinaldi Flying Circus. Featuring (but not limited to) the three Rinaldi siblings, they may not be local long. OO February 2015

O.Henry 13


Doodad

The Soulsucker

Sam Frazier will wrap his musical tendrils around you By Grant Britt

Photographs by Sam froelich

D

on’t try stuffing Sam Frazier in a box. He won’t like it, and he won’t fit anyway. Too many sharp edges poke through the sides, a plethora of styles stacked atop one another strain to bust open the top, and a ponderous bottom end threatens to smash through the floor and crush anybody else trying to lift it without the help of professional musical movers. Frazier’s musical persona has the soul of Van Morrison, the psychedelic funk of original Meters guitarist Leo Nocentelli and the voice of Don Henley. Frazier’s been a fixture on the Greensboro music scene for decades. He played multiple roles in the soul/bop outfit Tornado: guitarist, composer and co-vocalist (with Becky Raker). Other endeavors include, but are not limited to, Buddha Hat, The Numbers (with Britt Harper Uzzell, aka Snuzz) Sky Kings, Lisa Dames, Martha Bassett, and his own trio with drummer Eddie Walker and Andy Ware on bass. Like his muse, Van Morrison, Frazier’s a Soulsucker, his music wrapping its tendrils around you, pulling you in. His sets are an eclectic mix of arts and genres. Van rubs shoulders with Robert Palmer, Herbie Hancock, Bob Marley and Michael Jackson. Sandwiched in between are Frazier’s own quirky tunes like “I Tarzan,” which he calls a philosophy of life song: “I do the right thing when it’s easy and the wrong line when it’s fun.” These days, he’s pretty happy, but that can be a problem for a songwriter. “I used to write songs all the time, all day, every day, but I’m not miserable anymore, so I find it difficult,” the singer says. “So I had to borrow other people’s misery to do it.” But he’s just not out there throwing stuff at the audience to see what sticks. “Every time I get out there, I wanna play the best stuff I can play,” Frazier says. “And it’s harder than it sounds. I wanna be spontaneous and come up with new stuff, but I want to play the best stuff, not necessarily just to amuse myself.” Frazier says he’s willing to compromise — sort of. “I know guys who never change anything, and they just play the shit out of what they play, but I don’t have the attention span to do that,” he says. “And then there are other guys who go off on everything, just to amuse themselves. I want to be somewhere in the middle.” OH The Art & Soul of Greensboro

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O.Henry 15


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February 2015

O.Henry 17


Life’s Funny

The Great Wedding Dress Mystery Thirty-four years later, the dress of her dreams is someone else’s

By Maria Johnson

When an editor

forwarded me the e-mail describing Elinor Ball’s plight and her plea for help, I was struck by two things.

The first was my editor’s admission that he really wasn’t into the story — “then again, I’m male,” he said — and second was that there’s probably someone in Greensboro who holds the key to the mystery that Ball would like to solve, which is: What happened to her wedding dress? Ball, who grew up in Greensboro and graduated from Page High School (class of 1976), thought the dress was with her in Pennsylvania. But last summer she found out that the shipping box she’d toted all over creation after she married in Greensboro in 1980 did not contain her wedding dress. It contained someone else’s wedding dress. Which means that (drum roll or church bells, please) someone else probably has, or had, Ball’s wedding dress. It’s a long shot, I thought, but wouldn’t it be nice, if O.Henry’s readers could help Ball figure out what happened to her dress as a Valentine’s Day present to her and her husband, John, who have been married for thirty-four years? I called Elinor and explained that even if I wrote about her dress, it was unlikely that she’d ever see it again. She said she knew that, but she still wanted to try. Other Greensboro media outlets had turned her down, she said, but she hadn’t met a woman yet who wasn’t interested in her story. “It’s my dress,” she said plaintively. I could tell by her voice how much it meant to her. Now honestly, I’ve been married for twenty-five years, and I was never that attached to my wedding dress. I mean, it was beautiful, and I remember well the Saturday that my mom and I went to Brownhill’s at Friendly Center and picked it out with the help of owner and salesman-extraordinaire Mark McGinn, God rest his soul. But I have sons, so it was easy for me — as I was cleaning out my parents’ house just last summer — to give away my dress and keep the veil as a memento. Elinor had lugged her dress — or what she thought was her dress — around for thirty-plus years because she thought that one of her two daughters might want to wear it one day, which is exactly what happened.

18 O.Henry

February 2015

So, fellas, turn the page if you must, and ladies, put on your sleuthing hats because here’s the nitty-gritty of the Great Wedding Dress Mystery. Elinor Russell and John Ball met when both were students at Duke University. It was a speedy romance. They dated for only three and a half weeks before getting engaged their senior year. They would graduate in May and get married on August 30, 1980, at Christ United Methodist Church in Greensboro. Elinor spotted her wedding dress in a magazine advertisement. She thinks it might have been Seventeen magazine, which says a lot about what was aimed at young women in those days. Anyway, she cut out the ad and showed it to John. He liked the dress as much as she did, so she ordered it. She doesn’t remember the designer, or the maker, or the size, but back in those days, she was 5-foot-3 and 105 pounds, so the dress was small. It was floor-length, and off-white, and sleeveless. The bodice had a lace overlay that covered her shoulders. The skirt had lace medallions at the bottom. Her veil was floor-length, made from a lace tablecloth her mother bought in Belgium. The most distinctive things about the dress were light blue bows on the shoulders and a light blue sash around the waist. “It was just different. I loved that about it,” Elinor says. “It just felt like something I should always have.” The week after the wedding, Elinor’s mother, Anne, took the dress to a local cleaner that was known for cleaning and packing wedding dresses. She went back later that month to claim the dress, which was packed in a gold box. Without opening the box, she put it in a larger shipping box and mailed it to Elinor and her new husband in Bala Cynwyd, outside Philadelphia. Elinor and John moved four more times in the Philly area. Every time, Elinor dragged the box along. She never checked on the contents because she’d always heard that you shouldn’t open a box containing a preserved dress unless absolutely necessary. Last June, it seemed that time had arrived. Elinor’s daughter Julie had just gotten engaged, and she had invited a few dear friends, along with their mothers and grandmothers, over to Elinor and John’s house for a luncheon to celebrate the upcoming nuptials. When the subject of dresses came up, Elinor mentioned that she’d kept her The Art & Soul of Greensboro


Life’s Funny wedding dress, but neither of her girls seemed interested in wearing it. As the luncheon was breaking up and a few guests lingered, Julie said she’d like to at least see the dress. So Elinor went down to a basement storage room, grabbed the box, and brought it upstairs. The women gathered around. They opened the shipping box. They lifted the lid of the cleaners’ box. There, inside a clear plastic bag, lay a gleaming white dress. Elinor’s first thought was, “Wow, that’s really well preserved.

In fact, it’s whiter than I remember.” They pulled the dress out of the bag. It had a cathedral length train and long sheer sleeves, and a high, lace neck, and an empire waist — none of which Elinor’s dress had. Also, it was a size 14. This dress had belonged to a much bigger, taller woman. Elinor screamed and slumped to the floor. Her husband John came running. “This is not my dress!” Elinor said. John seemed to be relieved that it was nothing serious. But to Elinor and the assembled women, it was serious. The younger women reached for their phones, snapped pictures and posted the impostor on social media. The outpouring of shock and support was immediate. A cousin in WinstonSalem offered to go door-to-door in Greensboro to find the dress. Elinor called the cleaners and explained the situation. According to Elinor, the cleaners said they knew nothing about a switch, but their records went back only to 1990. “They were pretty defensive,” Elinor said. “They really didn’t offer to do anything.” Elinor’s mother, who lives at Friends Homes West now, visited the cleaners in person. Nothing resulted. As Elinor recounted the story, I pointed that wedding dress mix-ups at cleaners weren’t unheard of. I’d done a quick Google search and turned up a similar story in Georgia. I also noted that it had been thirty years, and even if, somewhere in that time span, someone else had reported getting Elinor’s dress by mistake, the cleaners might not have known where to start looking. Elinor said she’d thought of that. She also realized that the mistake could have involved several dresses. Still, she had a hard time believing that the cleaners could not have cleared up the problem with proper, dated records. “You would think a wedding a dress would be something you would be extra careful with,” she said. “This is not like taking shirts to your cleaners.” No, it’s not. But none of that matters much at this point. Elinor’s dress is missing. The cleaners are no help, and Elinor’s daughter Julie has ordered another dress for her April wedding. So this month, Elinor, a kindergarten teacher who now lives in Wayne, Pennsylvania, will be making Valentines with her students and hoping that someone out there — maybe someone who had her wedding dress cleaned around September 1980 —has the heart and the memory to tell her what happened to the little sleeveless dress with the blue bows and matching sash. She’ll also be thinking about the woman who wore the brilliant white, longsleeved, high-necked dress that she has carefully packed back into the gold box. “What if her daughter wanted to wear that dress?” Elinor says. OH Maria Johnson usually doesn’t act as a wedding dress information broker, but in this case, she’ll make an exception. Take a look at the pictures and contact her at maria@ ohenrymag.com if you know anything about either dress. The Art & Soul of Greensboro

A Step in the

Right Direction

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February 2015

O.Henry 19


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The Omnivorous Reader

The Perils of Reading In Tim Johnston’s affecting new novel, Descent, our deepest longings for the safety of loved ones is brilliantly stirred

By Brian L ampkin

There are novels

that I have stopped reading. The reasons are many: I left the book on the train; it was boring; or I simply left it unfinished on the nightstand in the ongoing chaos of daily life. I stopped reading Tim Johnston’s new novel, Descent (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2015, $25.95), over and over again for none of the reasons above. I stopped because it hurt. I stopped because Johnston’s writing is exquisite — that is to say his writing is extremely beautiful, but painfully so. Descent is a novel that makes you feel too much. You must stop. And go on. Because you understand that this book offers something exceptional.

Which is funny to say because the book is in many ways conventional. It is openly referred to as a “literary thriller” — a genre saturating the book world. It is also centered on the abduction of a young woman. I don’t need to tell how familiar that story has become. So what makes it the best novel I’ve read in a long time? What makes it rise above its seemingly middle-ofThe Art & Soul of Greensboro

the-road ambitions? Of course I’m asking what makes a book sing and the answer to that question is a great mystery. It’s an alchemical mixture of literary elements, but I’ll argue here that it’s more about language and emotional tone than it is about plot or content. And I think it is the tone of Descent that so moves me. The abduction of 18-year-old Caitlin in the mountains of Colorado and the subsequent search for her — which plays out over years — could easily have become cliché or sensational in the worst way. But Johnston never lets us forget that this is real pain. (Even though it’s not. It’s a novel. An act of imagination.) It is the pain that Caitlin’s family is feeling. It’s not a mystery waiting to be satisfactorily solved or a political polemic on the dangers of the world. This is raw anguish and guilt and loss: “One speck of difference in the far green sameness and he would stare so hard his vision would slur and his heart would surge and he would have to force himself to look away — Daddy, she’d said — and he would take his skull in his hands and clench his teeth until he felt the roots giving way and the world would pitch and he would groan like some aggrieved beast and believe he would retch up his guts, organs and entrails and heart and all, all of it wet and gray and steaming at his feet and go ahead, he would say into this blackness, go ahead god damn you.” Maybe that’s not everyone’s idea of good bedtime reading, but I don’t want to undersell Johnston’s adeptness with plot and structure. Descent is a page-turner. And it does resolve in an action-filled, cinematic manFebruary 2015

O.Henry 21


Opus 2014-2015

The City Arts Music Center of the Greensboro Parks & Recreation Department proudly presents the Opus Concert Series, free of charge! The popular concert series showcases outstanding musical entertainment at exciting venues throughout our community. Join us!

CONCERT SERIES

GROUP

CONCERT DATE

TIME

Sunday, November 2, 2014

3 PM

Choral Society of Greensboro Jon Brotherton, Conductor

Saturday, November 8, 2014

7:30 PM

Christ United Methodist Church 410 North Holden Road

Greensboro Concert Band Evan Feldman, Conductor

Saturday, November 15, 2014

7:30 PM

Dana Auditorium, Guilford College 5800 West Friendly Avenue

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

7:30 PM

Greensboro Cultural Center, Room 100 200 North Davie Street

Sunday, December 7, 2014

3 PM

St. Pius X Catholic Church 2200 North Elm Street

Marimba Christmas Andrew Dancy, Conductor

Thursday, December 11, 2014

7 PM

Greensboro Cultural Center, Room 100 200 North Davie Street

Greensboro Youth Jazz Ensemble Wally West, Conductor

Monday, December 15, 2014

7:30 PM

Greensboro Cultural Center, Room 100 200 North Davie Street

Greensboro Oratorio Singers Jay O. Lambeth, Conductor

Thursday, December 18, 2014

7 PM

Carolina Theatre 310 South Greene Street

Saturday, February 14, 2015

6 - 8 PM

Bur-Mil Park Clubhouse 5834 Bur-Mil Club Road

Sunday, March 8, 2015

3 PM

Lindley Recreation Center 2907 Springwood Drive

Greensboro Concert Band Evan Feldman, Conductor

Saturday, March 14, 2015

7:30 PM

Dana Auditorium, Guilford College 5800 West Friendly Avenue

Greensboro Tarheel Chorus John Peeler, Conductor

Saturday, March 28, 2015

7:30 PM

Christ United Methodist Church 410 North Holden Road

Philharmonia of Greensboro Peter Perret, Conductor

Saturday, May 2, 2015

7:30 PM

Dana Auditorium, Guilford College 5800 West Friendly Avenue

Greensboro Youth Jazz Ensemble Wally West, Conductor

Sunday, May 3, 2015

3 PM

Choral Society of Greensboro Jon Brotherton, Conductor

Friday, May 8, 2015

7:30 PM

Christ United Methodist Church 410 North Holden Road

Greensboro Concert Band Evan Feldman, Conductor

Saturday, May 9, 2015

7:30 PM

Dana Auditorium, Guilford College 5800 West Friendly Avenue

Greensboro Youth Chorus Ann Doyle and Nana Wolfe-Hill, Conductors

Monday, May 11, 2015

7 PM

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

7:30 PM

Greensboro Cultural Center, Room 100 200 North Davie Street

Friday, May 15, 2015

7:30 PM

Holy Trinity Episcopal Church 607 North Greene Street

Philharmonia of Greensboro with Special Guest: Danville Symphony Orchestra

Peter Perret, Conductor

Greensboro Percussion Ensembles with Special Guest: North Carolina A&T State Percussion Ensemble

Mike Lasley, Conductor Greensboro Youth Chorus Ann Doyle and Nana Wolfe-Hill, Conductors

Greensboro Big Band, Sweet Sounds in partnership with Bur-Mil Park; includes dancing, dessert and music

Mike Day, Conductor Philharmonia of Greensboro, Pillow Pops Concert with Special Guest: Dance Project: the School at City Arts

Peter Perret, Conductor

Greensboro Percussion Ensembles Mike Lasley, Conductor Greensboro Brass Ensemble Kiyoshi Carter, Conductor

For detailsFebruary about 2015 the concert programs, please visit our website at www.city-arts.org. • 336-373-2549 • music@greensboro-nc.gov

22 O.Henry

LOCATION

Dana Auditorium, Guilford College 5800 West Friendly Avenue

Greensboro Historical Museum 130 Summit Avenue

Christ United Methodist Church 410 North Holden Road

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Reader ner, but even then it’s not exactly conventional and certainly not predictable. In interviews, Johnston has said that he wanted it all; he wanted to combine all the best elements of a well-plotted thriller with his remarkable writing and emotional sensitivities. Johnston refuses to believe that these are mutually exclusive. And despite the horrors of this novel, it is sensitive to human feeling in a way that resonates deeply, at least with me. Johnston avoids the sexual depravity that is obviously at the core of the abductor’s reason for taking Caitlin. His choice is pitch-perfect; in other writers’ hands we’d suffer and witness this sexual torture, but Johnston will not exploit his work with that kind of horror. Strangely, Descent is really a book about love. It is about how much we all risk by the simple act of loving someone in a world that can destroy that love in an offhand moment of inattention or in the actions of a depraved individual. The novel swings back and forth between scenes of Caitlin and her abductor and Caitlin’s family’s search for her and their life without her. The novel asks what are the limits of love, or what are the limits of what can be endured both physically and emotionally for love. To some extent, we are asked to endure as well. You will need to stop reading. I think the first time I had to put Descent down was when Caitlin tried to call her parents just as the abduction was to occur: “She was smiling, she was crying, already hearing his voice: Hello? Caitlin? Where are you, sweetheart? And then she did hear his voice, deep and steady and familiar in her ear, and though it was only his voice mail she began to sob. Daddy, she said, before the first blow landed.” As a parent of three daughters, I suppose this novel frightens me directly, but Johnston’s empathetic skills surely make this a universally affecting work. Johnston won’t be happy to hear me say this, but some people will want to avoid this book. For the rest of us, though, Descent will stir our deepest longings for the safety of our loved ones while also thrilling us with a taut and relentlessly tense story. It’s early in 2015, but this novel will win awards this year. Now that’s never a good reason to read a book. Read Descent for its beautiful writing and for its tender care for its characters. Just stop when necessary before returning for more. OH Brian Lampkin is an owner of Scuppernong Books in Greensboro, N.C. The Art & Soul of Greensboro

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February 2015

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O.Henry 23


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Scuppernong Bookshelf

A Valentine’s Matching Game (and no fair, ahem, cheating)

Entering a novel is like walking

into a restaurant to greet a blind date. You’ve heard a few things, perhaps encountered a negative review or two, but still you’re hopeful that this experience will change your life. Sometimes it’s a disaster, but sometimes, and only rarely, you find something you’ll spend the rest of your life talking about. For Valentine’s Day, we’ve recreated a dating experience here on the page for you. Marry our review with the appropriate cover image (on page 26), and Kismet! Good luck.

A)

It would be almost impossible to match the careful, lucid woman introduced to the reader at the beginning of this novel with the bank-robbing ne’er-do-well she claims to have been some years earlier. What follows is a story of darkness and light where profound tenderness bumps elbows with unspeakable tragedy.

B)

Oh Sal! Oh Dean! This novel is often misunderstood as a precursor to a decade-long American experiment, when it is more accurately the story of two men in love with the sound of each other’s voice.

C)

The tough-talking wise guys and the hard-as-nails dames of film noir had babies sometime in late 1950s and their offspring grew to be this couple. They’re sex-addled Bonnie and Clydes, sliding their way through a crazy world that understands them even less than they understand themselves, trying not to explode from their love and the sheer wild joy they take in each other. The Art & Soul of Greensboro

D)

On the other end of the romantic spectrum, this novel is an intense and unsparing portrait of a woman struggling to cope in the weeks after the break-up of her marriage. It’s a book about losing yourself altogether and attempting to reassemble it piece by piece, written by a celebrated though anonymous author who might be a woman, or might not.

E)

This 2015 novel tries to destroy love and nearly succeeds. Taut, chilling — my early vote for the best novel of the year. When dealing with painful, terrible acts in writing, tone becomes the real indicator of a writer’s intention. This writer is a master of tone and tension, and sometimes safety is at the bottom of a mountain of snow.

F)

How wrong we are to think of gay love as a modern invention. This book makes clear the long and lovely history of finding the true partner for your private aching heart.

G)

And finally, in the end, aren’t we after something more lasting than romantic love? Isn’t there someone out there, no matter how odd, who understands you deeply despite vast differences? This book values the unexpected kindnesses of a good companion. OH Write your Answers here

A) B) C) D)

E) F) G)

February 2015

O.Henry 25


Bookshelf 1)

Friends Forever: 42 Ways to Celebrate Love, Loyalty and Togetherness by Anne Rogers Smyth

2)

Days of Abandonment, by Elena Ferrante

3)

On The Road, by Jack Kerouac

4)

The Invisibles: Vintage Portraits of Love and Pride, by Sebastian Lifshitz

5)

Sailor & Lula: The Complete Novels, by Barry Gifford

6) Little Lumpen

Phone. Home. Tyler Redhead & McAlister is proud to introduce our new website, trm.info. Now, finding your next home or checking home values in your neighborhood is as simple as touching the screen. Go to trm.info and bookmark our site on your home screen to tour all of the Triad’s for sale and sold properties. Both current and easy to use, trm.info is the only real estate website you need.

Novelita, by Roberto BolaĂąo

7)

Descent, by Tim Johnston Key: A = 6, B = 3, C = 5, D = 2, E = 7, F = 4, G = 1

trm.info / 336.274.1717

Scuppernong Books Staff: Brian Etling, Brian Lampkin, Kira Larson, Steve Mitchell, Dave White and Rachel York

26 O.Henry

February 2015

The Art & Soul of Greensboro


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February 2015

O.Henry 27


www.devajewelry.com 49 Miller Street next to Whole Foods • Winston-Salem • 336.723.4022 • Monday-Friday 10-6 Saturday 10-5

Celebrate blaCk History MontH WitH Us Lifted Voices

Actors portray historic African American figures and share their compelling stories. FREE! Saturday, February 7 from 12 4 pm.

Lifted Voices Plus

In addition to actors portraying historic figures from Greensboro’s African American community, enjoy live music from area high schools and colleges plus refreshments. FREE! Saturday, February 21 from 12 - 4 pm.

Warnersville Exhibit

This multimedia exhibit examines the history of the Warnersville neighborhood through video and oral histories, artifacts, film, maps, and photographs. FREE Admission • Tuesday-Saturday from 10 am - 5 pm, Sunday from 2 - 5 pm www.GreensboroHistory.org • 130 Summit Avenue, Greensboro • 336-373-2043 28 O.Henry

February 2015

The Art & Soul of Greensboro


Pleasures of Life

Garden of Sweet Chaos

With her addictive daily blog, “Bye, Bye, Pie” and far-flung fan base, June Gardens makes the ordinary sublime

By Bill Hancock

Photographs by Sam Froelich

June is a good friend. Defi-

nitely. I know minute details of life with her boyfriend (sometimes too much) and the day-to-day doings of her pet menagerie (way too much). Then there’s the yearslong crush she’s had on a certain “British-ly” downtown store owner (I promise I won’t tell), and the trials and frustrations of her job. Actually several jobs since she’s been laid off twice. I’ve sat through rehashes of her former marriage. I’ve watched her put on makeup. Caught her sleepy-eyed in some godawful baggy pajama bottoms. Like I said, we’re close. The Art & Soul of Greensboro

But there’s one complication. I only know her because somewhere in Greensboro she sits down every morning — sometimes before she’s even had coffee — and lays bare her middle-aged, single life on a blog with the imprecise name of Bye Bye, Pie. The blog has nothing to do with pie, nor food for that matter. It’s crazy. Explanations to come. Her name, June Gardens, is made up. And until I decided I wanted to have coffee with her, I had no clue who she really was. Her name could be Betty or Martha. I’m hoping something more exotic, like Nicolette. She posts lots of photos of herself, so I know what she looks like. And I know all about her friends: Tall Boy, Hulk and Dick Whitman (no, not the one on Mad Men). And how she lost her fibroids, her cats and a husband, all on the same day. (You had to be there.) Since she’s told me practically everything about her life, why shouldn’t I meet her face-to-face? So I shoot a quick email to her blog site (the first one I’ve written to her) and tell her I want to interview her. She seems okay with that. I’m thrilled. We set a date. Who wouldn’t want to meet June? Stepping into her life is infinitely more intriguing than mine or maybe even yours. When the newspaper carrier misses February 2015

O.Henry 29


Pleasures of Life 226 S. ELM STREET GREENSBORO, NC 336 333 2993 OscarOglethorpe.com

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your house, when you’ve run out of hair gel, when the keyboard’s delete key gets stuck — these for you are life’s little annoyances. In June’s orbit, they spiral into chaos, usually evolving into a tangled web of drama. She’s a lightning rod for such things. But somehow it all works out. Until tomorrow. There’s always a new crisis du jour. Always. Plus, it’s good to start my day off with a few pitch-perfect remarks from June, the kind that only June can come up with. Usually about herself. February 21, 2014: How much do you think I weigh? I am 5' 6''. I do not know, as I have no scale. The scale at the doctor’s seems to be about thirty-five pounds off. I don’t know how they get away with such an inaccurate tool. Anyway, my goal weight is eight pounds, six ounces, which is what I weighed at birth. I’ve done it before, so we all know I can get there. July 5, 2014. I’m dealing with my aging face and the fact that my decolletage looks like a cracked desert floor. Be forewarned. Her words follow no linear path. Her thoughts ping-pong from one problem to another. But keep with her. Eventually, it all begins to even make sense. On a given day, she cuts her foot in the shower, accidentally eats probiotic yogurt at work instead of her plain Greek yogurt. Then delivers the company newsletter throughout the building, all the while forced into bathroom after bathroom, blaming Jamie Lee Curtis for those yogurt commercials. Her days are like that. Or like this: March 24, 2014: I’m just gonna go ahead and tell you that when you post photos of your handsome high-school-age sons on Facebook, I am over here thinking impure thoughts. I’m THAT neighbor. “Honey, don’t walk past Miss Gardens’ place in those shorts. Come home from football practice the other way. I just get a creepy feeling from her.” April 29, 2014: I don’t believe that I will ever become one of those people who only feels really alive when seeking adventure. You want adventure? Try swallowing a multi-vitamin when you live alone with no one to Heimlich you. It’s all enough to keep me, and about 1,200 to 1,500 other fans, faithfully returning to her life each morning. What’s so odd is that no more than about a dozen readers are from Greensboro. The rest click in from across country, heavy concentrations in Florida and Texas, for unexplainable reasons. Overseas fans check in from London and Australia. Spinning off on its own is Pie on the Face — Friends of Bye Bye, Pie, run by several fans and now with about 450 members, a self-described

30 O.Henry

February 2015

The Art & Soul of Greensboro


“not-at-all ridiculous group of people who waste their time reading Bye Bye, Pie.” Then there’s Tallulah Gardens, one of June’s two dogs, this one with her own eponymous Facebook page with 563 friends. Not to be outdone, down in Atlanta a half dozen or so women meet every July 16 for drinks, and no other reason but to celebrate June’s birthday. They take funny photos of themselves and email them to June. Each checks in every day to see what she’s up to. They can relate. January 24, 2010: If I can’t be Carrie Bradshaw (Sex and the City), can I be Jackie Kennedy? Oh, the elegance, the beauty, the perfection. She is everything I am not. I’ll bet you never once saw her bra strap. I’ll bet she never once put the cork in her mouth and shot it across the dinner table. August 21, 2014: I was in my early 30s and I went to get my eyebrows waxed. “You want me to wax mustache too?” that little jerk of a waxer asked me. “Oh, no, I — thank you, I — I don’t HAVE a mustache,” I said. “Ohhhh,” she said solemnly, “You dark like man.” I have never handed seven dollars over to a person more quickly. All my friends insisted she was scamming me for that big payoff, because I emailed EVERYONE to say “Why did none of you TELL me I’m Clark Gable,” but now I faithfully Nair and wax every month, because . . . “dark like man.” Talk about the feedback. It’s often well more than a hundred responses after each blog posting. Sometimes 300. Most of it’s complimentary. But a few not so much. You’re fat, you’re bipolar, you have too much drama in your life. That’s some of it. But most are grateful. While June had a small crisis in her life, one fan was going through surgery. Her first words when coming out from under the anesthesia were: “Is June okay?” Others tell June their life stories — like the woman imprisoned in a basement by her uncle, then escaped, became a prostitute, then a social worker and finally independently wealthy. Barely believable but true. She and June became good online friends. If her life is chaos, her refuge is Ned. The boyfriend. The devoted, calm, responsible, logically thinking Atticus to her restless, mischievous Scout Finch. Ned — who she found on okcupid. com — does not read her columns, especially the ones about himself. In his words: “Would Steve McQueen care what was said about him on an internet blog?” Makes sense to me. And so we meet one afternoon for coffee downtown, June and I. You’d like her. She’s good company. And I suppose, for the record, you need to know her real name. It is only here that I learned it — Karen Sommerfeld. She looks like June, but after regarding her for a few moments, The Art & Soul of Greensboro

I begin to realize that she is not quite her. Sort of, but not quite. We begin talking about June in the third person — as if she’s a friend we both know. I conclude that June’s her alter ego. She prefers to say June is her better half. “I’m a lot crabbier and get a lot sadder in real life,” she says. “She’s me with the disgusting parts taken out.” Writing is her passion, along with makeup and kittens. “I started when I was a little kid, fourth or fifth grade. But I’m not good at writing stories. I was really good at writing about what’s going on in class. And it was my ex-husband who said there’s this thing called a blog.” Its earliest incarnation was in 2007 when she and her then-husband lived in L.A. They planned to spend a year saving money, and writing about the effort in a blog. When the year passed, the blog was gaining popularity. “I was enjoying the Greek chorus commenting on my life,” she says. She changed its theme to healthy eating and penned a new name, Bye Bye, Pie. They moved to Wadesboro, then decamped to Greensboro, and the blog evolved to what it is today — a window into her somewhat crazy, now-single life after the marriage went off a cliff.

Pleasures of Life So here she is, all these years later. I don’t mind telling you that I totally get June. As do her faithful readers. Through June, Karen plumbs our pedestrian lives — with their quirky pets, goofy friends, drag queens, money problems, water diets, digital dating, runaway hair and the ungracefulness of aging — all to find humor. We see through her that life is just too silly not to laugh. A final case in point: September. 4, 2014: Okay, I have to go. Remind me to tell you all the songs I found written by my landlord in L.A., Mr. Kaiser. He wrote one called “Vibrator Rock,” and I wish I were kidding but I am not. It failed to penetrate the masses, that song did. There was very little buzz about it. Someone hit my off switch. June OH You can read about June’s ongoing life at www. byebyepie.typepad.com. She also writes a humor column for purpleclover.com. Bill Hancock is a frequent contributor to O.Henry Magazine, lives online and otherwise in Greensboro.

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O.Henry 31


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32 O.Henry

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The Art & Soul of Greensboro


Gate City Journal

The Gate City Carpetbagger

Albion Tourgée was a voice crying for racial justice in the wilderness of the Reconstructed South, a hundred years before his time

By Scott Romine

When the

Supreme Court affirmed the constitutionality of segregation in its 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson decision, few Americans were as despondent as Albion W. Tourgée. As the lead attorney for Homer Plessy, a lightskinned African American arrested for entering a white-only train car in Louisiana, Tourgée had argued for what he called “color-blind justice,” only to find that a majority of justices were blind to his logic.

“What will it require,” he asked in a public letter, “to obliterate this last judicial crime by which it is sought to bind the colored citizen and cast him down again, helpless and irremediable under the oppression of a ‘white man’s government’?” Tourgée’s path to the Supreme Court involved a long stay in Greensboro, where he arrived in 1865 following service as a Union officer during the Civil War. His motives for moving south were many: He sought to make money, to find a healthier climate for his wife and — most of all — to spread his creed of free labor and equal citizenship to a region he regarded as benighted and barbaric. After consulting Governor William W. Holden, he decided to locate in Greensboro because of its prominent Quaker community. The Unionist and abolitionist principles of the Quakers, he felt, would aid in his reform efforts. Purchasing a house south of downtown near what is now Martin Luther King Drive, he began West Green Nursery, a firm that grew fruit and ornamental shrubbery. Paying decent wages to a mostly African-American workforce proved unpopular among local whites accustomed to a regime of

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

slave labor, and business difficulties plagued the firm throughout its existence. Although unsuccessful financially, West Green Nursery nonetheless left its mark on the city. There in 1865 Tourgée began the city’s first school for African Americans. Officially founded in 1873 in the basement of Warnersville Methodist Episcopal Church North (now St. Matthew’s United Methodist), the school would become Bennett College, moving to its present location five years later. In 1865, Tourgée assisted the Quaker, Yardley Warner, in establishing a land development for African Americans on the southern edge of West Green Nursery. He later served as president of the North Carolina Handle Company, a firm that employed many black residents living in what would come to be known as Warnersville. In 1867, Tourgée branched out to journalism, founding the Union Register to compete with the The Greensboro Patriot, a paper that regularly denounced the actions of the city’s most notorious carpetbagger. What earned him that label was an active involvement in state and national politics. Although Southern whites were eager for Northern investors, association with Reconstruction governance usually placed Northern immigrants beyond the social pale. Tourgée further scandalized local conservatives in 1869 when he legally adopted a former slave, Adaline Patillo, as his daughter. Salacious rumors about Tourgée and the “yaller girl” echoed in the conservative press. Never one to hide his opinions, he spoke loudly and often in support of African-American rights and, at least initially, for the disenfranchisement of former Confederates. Active in the 1868 convention that rewrote the state constitution to favor Radical Republicans, Tourgée began in the same year a term as superior court justice. Although admired for his legal acumen and personal bravery, he lived under the constant threat of Klan violence. Traveling to Washington, D.C., in 1871, he bore witness of Klan outrages to President Ulysses S. Grant and Congressional investigators. Although federal anti-Klan legislation markedly reduced racial terrorism in the region, Governor Holden was successFebruary 2015

O.Henry 33


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34 O.Henry

February 2015

Gate City Journal

fully impeached for his vigorous prosecution of Klansmen in the state. With the tide turning against North Carolina Republicans, Tourgée considered leaving the state. Northern friends advised him to do so, with one writing that “I wished I had your collar. I would have jerked you out of that infernal hole quicker’n lightning could scorch feathers.” Tourgée’s wife Emma apparently agreed, spending significant time in Erie, Pennsylvania, until finally relocating there permanently — and without Albion — in 1878. When his term as judge expired, Tourgée left Greensboro in 1875 to take a position in Raleigh as a federal pension officer. A teenaged William Sydney Porter (O.Henry) penned a mocking sketch of Tourgée, crying and with carpetbag in hand, literally flying to the “North.” If Porter’s geography was a bit off, the sketch accurately captured the feelings of most local whites. Although Greensboro had seen the last of Tourgée, it had not heard the last al Museum Archives. Greensboro Historic from him. In 1879, he published A Fool’s Errand, a bestselling novel based on his time in the city. Called “Verdunton” in the novel, Greensboro appears as the hotbed of violence and intolerance that Tourgée had experienced personally. One prominent subplot involves the murder of a character based on John Walter Stevens, a state senator and friend of Tourgée’s who was assassinated in the basement of a courthouse. But for all his contempt of the city’s white supremacist ethos, Tourgée understood its origins better than most Northerners of his era. Regarding Klan violence in particular, he sounds, at times, almost admiring. Describing how white southerners viewed black enfranchisement as “an act intended and designed to humiliate and degrade them,” Tourgée explains that violent resistance expressed “the indomitable spirit of this people.” For a “race of warlike instincts and regal pride,” the Klan causes the South to “be fused and welded into one homogeneous mass, having one common thought, one imperial purpose, one relentless will. It was a magnificent conception, and, in a sense, deserved success!” The Art & Soul of Greensboro


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Gate City Journal

Far from exonerating the South, however, Tourgée wished to persuade his Northern readers that Klan terrorism was not, as many believed, the disorganized work of a few social outcasts, but rather the concerted effort of an entire culture. The problem, for Tourgée, was not that Klan terrorism was barbaric, but that it expressed the moral values of a civilization incompatible with modern democracy. Toward that democracy — or at least toward its elected representatives — he directed withering fire: In his view, the nation had simply capitulated to the relentless will of a civilization founded on white supremacy. As he would put the matter in 1884, “the South surrendered at Appomattox, and the North has been surrendering ever since.” That surrender, as Tourgée understood it, would continue for the remainder of his life. He became a successful author, following A Fool’s Errand with Bricks without Straw (1880), a story of Reconstruction told from the perspective of the African-American community. Sharply critical of the literary realism promoted by William Dean Howells, Tourgée modeled his own efforts on the sentimentalism of Harriet Beecher Stowe, whose Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852) he admired for mobilizing a grassroots abolitionist movement. His own novels, however, did little more than his political efforts to stem the tide of white supremacy that, with the Plessy v. Ferguson decision, was enshrined as national law. As Mark Elliott, an associate professor of History at UNCG, writes in his definitive biography of Tourgée, “he had become a voice from the political wilderness, and no one knew it better than himself.” Even as he witnessed the decline of his color-blind ideal, Tourgée retained an optimistic long view of Reconstruction’s aim and eventual outcome. Despite its practical failure, he wrote in A Fool’s Errand, “Reconstruction was a great step in advance . . . . It recognized and formulated the universality of manhood in governmental power, and . . . compelled the formal assent of all sections and parties.” Nearly a century later, federal interventions in the aftermath of Brown v. Board of Education paved the way for dismantling the segregated society Tourgée had encountered in Greensboro. Although he did not live to see the Civil Rights movement, he was before his time in articulating the principles through which it ultimately triumphed. OH

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February 2015

Scott Romine is a professor of English at UNCG, where he teaches a variety of subjects ranging from Southern literature to the modern American novel. He is currently working on a study of Reconstruction literature in which Albion Tourgée figures prominently.

The Art & Soul of Greensboro


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February 2015

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Seen & Unseen

Good Quaker Chutzpah The moral? Don’t mess with a woman who’s come to get back her milk cow

By Max Carter

“By 1900, there were no more Quakers, a once dominant group on Nantucket.” — a “cap fact” found on a Nantucket Nectars bottle cap.



And now for the rest of the story: One of the reasons for the decline in the Nantucket Quaker population was that as the whaling industry “went South,” so did many Quakers. By the 1770s, dozens of Nantucket Quaker families had settled in Piedmont North Carolina, looking for more available land, freedom from the British war ships circling the island and an economy that didn’t depend on the large sea mammals that once did circle the island. They brought with them the familiar Nantucket names of Macy (a parade of Thanksgivings for settling here?); Folger (the coffee company was started in San Francisco by a Nantucket Quaker); Starbucks (nope, not a Quaker company, but named after the coffee-swilling Nantucket Quaker in Moby Dick); Coffin (they weren’t just in Quaker cemeteries!); and Gardner (sometimes spelled Gardiner). One of the features of Nantucket Quakers was that they produced very strong women. A prime example is Lucretia Coffin Mott – an avid abolitionist and early feminist. While the men were out to sea — often for months at a time — (and some claim that men are permanently “out to sea”), women practiced not only the leadership Quakerism allowed, but that which necessity required. A prime example of that strength is Phoebe Gardner Mendenhall, daughter-in-law of James Mendenhall, after whom Jamestown, North Carolina is named. One of the Gardners born on Nantucket, Phoebe occupies a revered spot in her family’s lore for a part she played in the run-up to the fabled Revolutionary War Battle of Guilford Courthouse. In the winter of 1781, British troops under the command of Cornwallis and Tarleton were encamped around the Deep River Friends meetinghouse. The Deep River Friends still meet on the same grounds still occupied today by Deep River Friends at West Wendover and N.C. Highway 68. We’ll get to Phoebe in a moment, but first a diversion: Local musician and historian Logie Meachum believes that this is the Deep River mentioned in the old Negro spiritual “Deep River,” and that it was a directional song on the Underground Railroad. Included in the lyrics are: Deep River,
My home is over Jordan.
 Deep River, Lord.
I want to cross over into campground. Oh, don’t You want to go,
 To the Gospel feast;
 That Promised Land,
 Where all is peace? The Art & Soul of Greensboro

According to Logie, following the British bivouacking on the meetinghouse grounds, the area was known as “campground.” With that reference, and the association of the fabled Jordan River (chilly and wide) with Deep River, fugitive slaves would have a song to sing that directed them towards that anti-slavery community of Quakers while the plantation master thought they were singing only about enduring life here in order to get to heaven. So back to Phoebe. Typical of occupying armies, British soldiers scavenged the area around the campground for provisions, ransacking farms, pillaging storehouses and killing livestock. They made off with the grain from nearby Mendenhall’s mill, the produce from their farm and most of their livestock. Finally one day, they walked off with the Mendenhalls’ last milk cow. With a family to feed, Phoebe would not put up with it! Mustering all the Nantucket female “Quaker chutzpah” she could, Phoebe walked up the hill from their home on the Deep River, went into the headquarters of the British army at the meetinghouse and demanded her cow back. One could only imagine how that conversation might have gone. “Ma’am, what are you doing here?” “I’m here to get my cow back!” “Ma’am, that bovine is now the property of His Majesty’s Royal Army.” “His Royal Highness, my ass — well, actually, my cow — I’ve got a family to feed. Hand her over!” “Well, Ma’am, now that you put it so delicately, let’s consider our alternatives . . .” A Nantucket woman is to be reckoned with. Phoebe walked back down the hill to the family mill, leading the last vestige of her dairy herd behind her. The only kind of “cowed” she’d stand. That DNA filtered down to her offspring. Son Richard established a home in Jamestown that became associated with the Underground Railroad. Grandson Nereus kept New Garden Boarding School (now Guilford College) open throughout the Civil War by staring down Confederate draft officers and accepting farm produce for tuition. Great-granddaughter Mary, wife of the first president of Guilford College, promoted the teaching of evolution in the college curriculum, lobbied the state legislature to establish Woman’s College (now UNCG), and publicly promoted the Quaker peace testimony before and during World War I. So, next time you have an espresso at Starbucks, or go cheaper and make your own Folgers at home, remember that there were other strong things that came out of Nantucket that have had more lasting impact on the Piedmont than a good caffeine buzz! OH Max Carter is the director of the Friends Center, the office that helps the college maintain a connection between students and the Religious Society of Friends, aka Quakers. February 2015

O.Henry 39


Area Schools Directory School Name Caldwell Academy

2900 Horse Pen Creek Road Greensboro, NC 27410 (336) 665-1161 www.caldwellacademy.org

Canterbury School

5400 Old Lake Jeanette Road Greensboro, NC 27455 (336) 288-2007 www.canterburygso.org

Greensboro Day School 5401 Lawndale Drive Greensboro, NC 27455 (336) 288-8590 www.greensboroday.org

Greensboro Montessori School 2856 Horse Pen Creek Road Greensboro, NC 27410 (336) 669-0119 www.thegms.org

High Point Friends School 800-A Quaker Lane High Point, NC 27262 (336) 886-5516 www.hpfs.org 

Focus Caldwell Academy is Preschool-12 college preparatory school grounded in Christian principals that emphasizes the classical liberal arts and sciences. A PreK-8 Episcopal school with strong academics and a focus on educating the whole child - mind, body and spirit. Extended day and financial assistance available. At Greensboro Day School, learning is about helping students discover and develop their unique talents and strengths through boundless opportunities and phenomenal resources.

Grades Preschool -12th

PreK–8th

PreK– 12th

Authentic, accredited Montessori school using research-based curriculum, which Toddler includes a hands-on, multi-disciplinary (18 mo.) approach to learning. Students study –8th grade Environmental Education, Spanish, Art and Music year-round.

High Point Friends School instills academic excellence, self-confidence and leadership skills through experiential Preschool learning, extracurricular activities, and –8th service learning opportunities for students in Preschool – 8th grade.

Enrollment Students: Faculty 840

380

850

260

170

9:1

8:1

8:1

Noble Academy

3310 Horse Pen Creek Road Greensboro, NC 27410 (336) 282-7044 www.nobleknights.org

The Piedmont School

815 Old Mill Road High Point, NC 27265 (336) 883-0992 www.thepiedmontschool.com

St. Pius X Catholic School

only independent preschool through 12th grade school guided by Quaker faith and Preschool practice, and built upon the long-held –12th standards of rigorous and extraordinary Friends schools. A K-12 Independent School that specializes in working with students with an ADHD/LD diagnosis. Strong academics along with athletics, music, art, and drama are offered. A wonderful K-8 independent school dedicated to providing an outstanding educational environment for students with an ADHD/LD diagnosis. Strong academics enhanced by music, art, drama, and athletics.

2200 N. Elm Street Greensboro, NC 27408 (336) 273-9865 www.spxschool.com

Catholic elementary/middle school emphasizing Christian values and academic excellence in a nurturing environment.

Salem Academy

The Southeast’s premier day and boarding college preparatory school for girls, dedicated to fostering the intellectual, spiritual, social, and physical growth of young women and their future roles as global citizens since 1772.

500 E. Salem Avenue Winston-Salem, NC 27101 336-721-2643 www.salemacademy.com

K–12th

284

175

K–9th

70

K–8th

450

9th-12th

172

Open to all qualified students and is based on academic records, admissions testing, personal interview, and teacher recommendations. Requirements vary per grade level but include: application, teacher evaluation forms, developmental assessment or classroom visit, transcripts from current school. Admission on a rolling basis. Begin accepting applications in the fall for admission to the following school year. For complete details, please visit www.greensboroday.org

Under 3 Meet with Admissions years 6:1; Director. Classroom visit Elementary and teacher assessment (for & Middle students age 3 and older.) School 10:1

Tuition $5960$9640

$14,850 (K-8th) $5,100 (PreK)

$6,200– $20,975

$7,500$14,992

14:1

Admission is based on academic records, placement $1,750-$5,500 testing, and teacher (Preschool); recommendations. A $8,043 (Lower); classroom visitation is also required prior to admittance. $8,478 (Middle)

8:1

Admission on a rolling basis. Begin accepting applications in the fall for admission to the following school year. For complete details, please visit www.ngfs.org

8:1

Students need to have an average to above average IQ score and a diagnosis of ADHD or another diagnosed learning difference and a current psych-ed evaluation.

New Garden Friends School New Garden Friends School is the Triad’s 1128 New Garden Rd 2015 Pleasant Ridge Rd Greensboro, NC 27410 (336) 299-0964 www.ngfs.org

Admission Requirements

$4,800-$18,800

$17,840$18,620

1:6 word Requirements include an study, average to above average $16,040 grades language IQ and either an ADHD arts, math 1-9, $13,260 diagnosis or another 1:12 all other diagnosed learning difference. kindergarten   subjects

15:1

7:1

Must participate in a standardized assessment conducted by ABC Educational Services, Inc.

$5,268$7,668

Application, transcript, student Day $20,980; essay, SSAT, three recommendaBoarding $42,980, tion letters, personal interview. Salem Academy Applicants are given careful conGrant programs sideration without regard to race, creed or ethnic background. online: available. believe.salemacademy.com Updated February 2015


Chasing Hornets

Local Hero

The tale of how an out of work painter went up a billboard and saved a season. Can the ultimate Hornets fan, Dennis Easterling, do it again? By Wiley Cash

Today is December 6, 2014,

and the Charlotte Hornets’ record stands at 5-15. They haven’t won two in a row since early November.

It may surprise you — I know it surprised me — but this is the second time the Hornets have been 5-15 on December 6. The first time it happened was in 1991; that team hadn’t won two in a row since mid-November. Their losing record and dearth of back-to-back wins came in spite of solid play from guards Muggsy Bogues and Kendall Gill and forward Larry Johnson, who would go on to be the NBA’s Rookie of the Year. Truth is the Hornets were exploited at the center position, finishing in the middle of the league in rebounds and last in blocked shots. At only six-foot-nine, Chapel Hill standout J. R. Reid couldn’t dominate in the NBA like he had in college, and minutes were limited for former Duke star Mike Gminski. There seemed to be nothing the Hornets could do to make up for their lack of a serviceable big man. That’s when a 42-year-old painting contractor offered the height the Hornets needed, and with that height came the perspective that many of the team’s fans had lost. Don’t get me wrong; Dennis Easterling isn’t a tall man, but what he did was big. On December 6, 1991, he set up camp on a LongHorn Steakhouse billboard on East Independence Boulevard and announced he wouldn’t come down until the Hornets won two in a row. Unfortunately for Mr. Easterling — and the Hornets — he’d be up there until January 9. In a recent phone conversation, I asked Mr. Easterling why he did it. “I got up there because it was my soapbox to tell everybody not to get down on the Hornets,” he said. “People were expressing all this negativity, and I got up there to make a positive statement. My slogan was ‘You Gotta Believe.’” Mr. Easterling wanted fans to remember what their support meant to the Hornets, even in the toughest of times. “I was at the old coliseum for the first game they ever played,” he told me. “We lost by 46 points, and after the game the crowd stood and gave them a standing ovation. We were just so happy to have a team.” Charlotte basketball fans — most of whom had grown up cheering for Chapel Hill, Duke or North Carolina State — were used to winning, but they kept the faith when the Hornets won only twenty games during the 1988-89 season, which seemed like the good old days when they only won nineteen the following year. They increased their total by seven the next season, but they still finished at the bottom of their division and fired coach Gene Littles. Only two months into the fourth season and the team was already down, and that’s why Dennis Easterling was the perfect hero; he was down too. “I was out of work,” he said. “I’d hurt my back in the painting business, and I didn’t work for about nine months. I got together with a friend who did local promotions, and we came up with the idea.” It turns out that aside from boosting fans’ spirits during their commutes,

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Mr. Easterling was also promoting something that would boost fans’ spirits at games. “I’d invented a little foam stinger, a product like the foam tomahawk used at Braves’ games, and I was hoping to get that started in the coliseum so people could cheer with something instead of just sitting on their hands.” So here he was, this contractor turned creator turned daredevil Hornets’ fan who was given a view of Charlotte that few citizens will ever have, but that wasn’t necessarily a new perspective for Mr. Easterling. “I’ve lived in Charlotte my whole life,” he said when I asked about how the view from his perch on Independence affected his perception of the Queen City. “We used to drag race on Independence on Friday nights, and now there are stoplights everywhere. The city’s grown: high-rises, the number of people. An old codger like me misses the old days.” But there are days Mr. Easterling doesn’t miss, and most of them revolve around former Hornets’ owner George Shinn. “He really brought down the fans’ fever. All his shenanigans: threatening to leave unless we built a new arena with a bunch of skyboxes. Finally he did leave, and we were glad to see him go. He tarnished the glory of how great it was to have an NBA team in Charlotte.” Now the Hornets are back, and those days of believing have returned. “The most positive thing that’s happened has been Michael Jordan taking over ownership,” Mr Easterling said. “The buzz is back again.” Mr. Easterling knows things can change, both over the course of decades and over the course of an NBA season. “I finally came down after thirty-five days and the Hornets went on to fall just one game shy of making the playoffs.” They’d draft Alonzo Mourning with the second overall pick, and the following season would be one of the best in the team’s history, winning fortyfour games and making it all the way to the second round of the playoffs. When I asked Mr. Easterling about the current Hornets squad, he admitted they’re off to a rocky start. “But I’ve got something up my sleeve,” he said. “I’m working with the Hornets. The only thing I can say is that we’re waiting on an NBA license.” That something up the sleeve may be just what these second generation Hornets need. Maybe Dennis Easterling can do it again. OH Editors Note: As of publication time in mid-January, the Hornets’ record stands at 15-24, just two games out of third place in the Southeast Conference of Eastern Conference. Wiley Cash is a New York Times best-selling author whose second novel, This Dark Road to Mercy, was released in January 2014. He lives in Wilmington. February 2015

O.Henry 41


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Feederwatching

Birdwatch

‘Tis the Season for seeing over fifty species in your own backyard

By Susan Campbell

This is the time of

Photograph by debra Regula

year when bird feeder activity is, without question, at its peak. Faced with cold weather and shrinking supply of bugs, seeds, fruit and berries, birds are winging their way to backyards where seeds, suet and other goodies are on tap. Our year-round friends in the Triad, including woodpeckers, titmice, chickadees and nuthatches, are now being joined by visitors from the north — yellowbellied sapsuckers, white-throated sparrows, dark-eyed juncos and yellow-rumped warblers.

Some fifty species of birds flock to our feeders in the Piedmont. These are mainly seed-eating birds but can include a variety of insectivores. Eastern bluebirds, pine warblers, yellow-rumped warblers and rubycrowned kinglets will take advantage of protein-based foods such as fat and/or peanut butter-based suet blocks. And birdbaths attract others such as fruit-loving cedar waxwings and American robins, which do not frequent feeders. There was a time when handsome Baltimore orioles were attracted during the winter, to sweet foods such as oranges, grape jelly and marshmallows here. Once upon a time, oriole attractors might bring dozens of individuals every winter. But for unknown reasons, they are now very scarce all across Piedmont North Carolina. If you spot an oriole any time from November through March, please let me know. As a result of this change in their wintering habits, I am keeping detailed records of winter oriole distribution for the State of North Carolina. The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Some bird species occur in significant numbers but only in certain years. Redbreasted nuthatches, purple finches, evening grosbeaks and pine siskins arrive at feeders only during “irruption” years when scarce natural seed sources to our north push birds southward. This year, as luck would have it, flocks of both siskins and purple finches are turning up at sunflower and thistle feeders across the state. A scattering of red-breasted nuthatches can be found at suet feeders as well. A fantastic way to combine enjoyment of backyard birds while contributing to a national scientific survey of feeder birds is to participate in the twelfth annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) from February 13–16, 2015. Anyone who knows even a few species of birds is encouraged to participate. The GBBC is a citizen science project involving tens of thousands of international volunteer observers. It is a joint endeavor conducted by the Audubon Society and the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology. In 2014, some 17.7 million birds of 4,296 species were tallied during the four day event. Record numbers of over 144,000 checklists were submitted by backyard birdwatchers. And North Carolina observers were once again in the top ten U.S. states with 5,453 lists entered statewide during the count period. Participation in the GBBC is free and takes only a minimum of fifteen minutes of observation on one of the days during the count period. Results are entered via an online data form (www.birdcount.org). What’s fun is that data summaries and distribution maps can be viewed at the project web site instantly. A number of count resources, including identification tips and a photo gallery can also be found at the web site. Happy feedwatching! OH Susan Cambell would love to receive your wildlife sightings and photos, even if they’re not Baltimore orioles. She can be contacted by email at susan@ncaves.com, by phone (910) 949-3207 or by mail at 144 Pine Ridge Drive, Whispering Pines, N.C. 28327. February 2015

O.Henry 43


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Life of Jane

Love on The Binge Was a tie that binds — until reality set in

By Jane Borden

My father called the television a

Illustration by Meridith Martens

distraction when my sisters and I were growing up. He thought it robbed us of precious time otherwise spent outdoors or doing homework. He’d stride into the kitchen for dinner, gesture dismissively at the set and ask, “Can’t we turn that racket off?” To the outside viewer, this may sound aloof. But I know the truth. My father is not above television; he’s a victim to it.

One evening in high school, while perched on a stool by the tube, I heard a quiet rustle — the movement of papers or brushing of corduroy — and spun around to see my father in the doorway staring blankly at the screen. He’d been reading the paper in the den and, on his way upstairs, had peeked in the kitchen to check on me. But then, his eyes met the shiny, colorful screen and were instantly transformed into spinning kaleidoscopes. “Dad?” “Wha?” he asked, confused, before snapping back to reality. “Oh.” Then, he grumbled, “Dagnabbit!” before walking upstairs, leaving me with no idea how long he’d been standing there, and no definition for the word “dagnabbit.” I should have known that this predisposition would be hereditary. I should have known that, if put to the test, I would also be weak to the distracting power of television. Ross loved the TV. He could come home from work, turn it on and sit for the night. I mean, I assume he still does: He’s not dead; we just aren’t dating anymore. As someone who felt guilty about how much she watched as a kid, I’d become determined as an adult to avoid it. So, in the beginning of our relationship, I often suggested we listen to music or play cards. He was happy to accommodate me. Still, at one point or another in the evening, the television was always turned back on. I’d be in his kitchen making drinks or doing dishes and hear the Herculean thud of it coming to life, hear the reverberation of the massive The Art & Soul of Greensboro

amount of energy required to animate the flat-screen HD beast and its many accessory heads. The six-foot space against his living room wall had enough wires to run a Broadway show. How ironic it could have been to watch An Inconvenient Truth on it. “But I like TV,” he’d say. And I honestly didn’t judge him for it. He’s an accomplished, award-winning writer who’d reached the point in his career where he could do what he pleased with his free time. Besides, “‘Each to his own’, said the lady who kissed the cow.” That’s one of my father’s favorite sayings. But if you aren’t from Eastern North Carolina, I’ll translate with one of my mother’s: “You can’t change people.” Instead, I dipped my toe into the shallow end of acceptable programming: Planet Earth, Errol Morris documentaries, 60 Minutes. The water was fine. So I moved on to 30-minute comedies, the gateway shows: 30 Rock, South Park and The Colbert Report. And then I was hooked: Deadwood, Ugly Betty, Project Runway. I treated the DVR menu like a to-do list: “I can meet for drinks, Susanna, but I can’t stay for dinner: We’ve got two episodes of Wife Swap to get through before Monday.” One Saturday afternoon I came over and found Ross watching X-Men: The Last Stand. Still somewhat determined to fight the machine, I took my book into the bedroom. But after reading the same paragraph three times, I acquiesced and joined him on the couch. “OK, so . . . each of the mutants has a different power?” I asked with tepid curiosity. Before long I was glossy-eyed and engrossed: “Wait, you said Magneto can attract metal, right? Not concrete. So no way could he make the entire Golden Gate bridge hover in the air like that!” “This is where you choose to stop suspending your disbelief?” he joked. These were the TV salad days. We shared a love of entertainment. Some couples will always have Paris; Ross and I will always have Bravo’s Top Chef. Our relationship spanned the first two seasons and half of the third. When Harold, the Season 1 winner, opened a restaurant in the West Village, we went during its first week of business. But my favorite reality show, my biggest obsession was The Girls Next Door, a behind-the-scenes documentary-style look at the lives of Hugh Hefner’s top three girlfriends, Holly, Bridget and Kendra (in that order). It’s “Big Love” with silicone breasts. It’s also crack for an otherwise discerning brain. February 2015

O.Henry 45


Life of Jane I ordered the first season on DVD. This time, Ross was humoring me. “Who’s your favorite?” I asked. “Holly,” he replied earnestly. “She seems like the smartest.” “Smart?! She thinks Hef will actually marry her one day. That’s pretty stupid if you ask me.” Ross and I had turned into a picture-book 1950s couple: The television was always in the background. But instead of cooking dinner, we had it delivered. Two beings, sitting an inch from one another and completely unaware of the other’s presence, interrupted only by the buzzer announcing our Thai food delivery — which, since we could fast-forward commercials, was our only break in the action. One night while sitting on the floor, chopsticks in hand, Ross asked, “Are there more napkins in the bag?” Or, at least, I think that’s what he asked. I didn’t hear him. “Jane!” He repeated in frustration. “Wha?” I asked in confusion before landing back on earth. “Oh.” Dagnabbit. I apologized and asked him to repeat the question — after pushing pause on the DVR remote. It took months for me to realize that a few questions weren’t the only things I’d failed to notice. While we sat, blowing through the first season of Strangers with Candy, our relationship was falling apart. Television wasn’t to blame, mind you — we fell out of love for the sundry reasons people typically do — TV just facilitated our inability to recognize it. Shiny colors, pleasant sounds, pretty people. Watching wasn’t just a routine; it was the enormous tapestry obscuring the very ugly elephant in his living room. My bond with television has always been based on escape. I watch to take my mind off a bad day at work, a long plane flight, a hangover. But, then, the acknowledgment that I was using television as a drug only led me to self medicate more. One afternoon I got out of work early and arrived at his apartment before he did. I was listening to David Bowie and cooking when I heard his key in the lock and immediately tensed up. Talk to him, I thought. Express your doubts and concerns. Then again, we have a new Flight of the Conchords saved. That’d be easy — so easy, in fact, that you won’t even have to suggest it. He will. THUD. You won’t have to say anything at all. THUD. “Seriously, Holly is so deluded. She’s so blind.” THUD. We, on the other hand, are fine, I thought. This was where I chose to stop suspending my disbelief. We literally broke up to the television. It was so post-modern, the perfect fourth act. The Library of Congress Award special for Paul Simon was airing on PBS. Alison Krauss covered “Graceland.” “Things don’t feel the same,” I said. “I know,” he said. And she said, “They say losing love is like a window in your heart. Everybody sees you’re blown apart. Everyone sees the wind blow.” We hung out the next night too. Even though we knew it was over, we needed a coda. After the credits run, there’s usually one more scene. But in our case, there was nothing left to say. “We have a new episode of Top Chef,” he offered. “Want to order Thai?” And so we sat, inches from each other, chopsticks in hand, taking turns fast-forwarding commercials, discussing who we thought would get kicked off, sharing ideas for what either of us would have paired with the halibut instead. When you watch, when you focus on the action beyond you, you float above the circumstance, above the atmosphere. You can’t see the wind blow. OH Jane Borden is a Greensboro native living in Los Angeles, and the author of the much acclaimed memoir I Totally Meant to Do That. Follow her at twitter.com/JaneBorden. JaneBorden.com, CorporateJuggernaut.com, I Totally Meant to Do That is in bookstores now

46 O.Henry

February 2015

The Art & Soul of Greensboro


— PLEASE JOIN US FOR —

O.HENRY MAGAZINE’S

Night of Literary Stars The Literary Event of the Year to Benefit Greensboro Ballet

& the Second Annual O.Henry Book Fair

FEBRUARY 21-22, O.HENRY HOTEL 2nd Annual

Night of Literary Stars

O.Henry

Saturday, February 21

Join five Nationally bestselling authors for a sumptuous fourcourse dinner and an evening of incomparable conversation, readings and storytelling followed by a book-signing after-party. $150 per person. In addition, the O.Henry Hotel is offering one night’s gracious accommodations on February 21 and all events for $265 per person plus tax and gratuities, based on double occupancy. (Includes a special Sunday Breakfast with the authors.)

Jim Dodson is the Founding Editor of O.Henry Magazine and the award-winning author of twelve books including Final Rounds, Faithful Travelers, The Road to Somewhere, Beautiful Madness, A Golfer’s Life (with Arnold Palmer), Ben Hogan — An American Life, and American Triumvirate. He has served as Distinguished Writer in Residence at Hollins University and is the recipient of numerous writing awards including two Herbert Warren Wind Awards for the Book of the Year from the United States Golf Association.

Jill McCorkle has the distinction of having her first two novels published on the same day in 1984 – The Cheer Leader and July 7th. Since then she has published three other novels – her latest, Life After Life and four collections of short stories. McCorkle has taught at UNC-Chapel Hill, Tufts and Brandeis. She was a BriggsCopeland Lecturer in Fiction at Harvard for five years. She currently teaches creative writing in the MFA Program at N.C. State University and is a core faculty member of the Bennington College Writing Seminars.

Clyde Edgerton is the author of ten novels, a book of advice, a memoir, short stories and essays. His most recent is Papadaddy’s Book for New Fathers: Advice to Dads of All Ages. He has been a Guggenheim Fellow and five of his novels have been New York Times Notable Books. He is a member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers and is the Thomas S. Kenan III Distinguished Professor of Creative Writing at UNC Wilmington. He lives in Wilmington, with his wife, Kristina, and their children.

Book Fair

SATURDAY, FEB 21 Browse books an d rub elbows with thirty local and Southern authors at our Second Ann ual

Frances Mayes, published poet and essayist, has written numerous books of poetry, including Sunday in Another Country, After Such Pleasures, The Arts of Fire, Hours, The Book of Summer and Ex Voto. The Discovery of Poetry: A Field Guide to Reading and Writing Poems is used in college poetry classes. A food-and-travel writer, Mayes is best known for Under the Tuscan Sun. A memoir Under Magnolia, has just been published. She and her poet husband divide their time between Hillsborough and Cortona, Italy.

Book Fair, 1-3 pm . This event is ope n to the public and free of charge.

Wiley Cash is The New York Times best-selling author of A Land More Kind Than Home and This Dark Road To Mercy. Wiley holds a B.A. in Literature from the University of North Carolina-Asheville, an M.A. in English from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro, and a Ph.D. in English from the University of Louisiana-Lafayette. Wiley teaches in the Low-Residency MFA Program in Fiction and Nonfiction Writing at Southern New Hampshire University. A native of North Carolina, he and his wife live in Wilmington.

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O.Henry 47


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February 2015 Mr. Moore’s Sophomore Biology Dissecting frogs and what I wanted was to see the inside of a thing how its heart kept beating when all around there was heartbreak, Dina saying we should be friends now Dad saying he was going to move out for a bit and there lay the frog, flayed open, white, no blood, but of course, this was something without a beating heart because those we don’t get to see and all we can do is imagine the way they squeeze and beat and open and close and there is Mr. Moore at the front of the class talking kidney, talking liver, lungs, all these organs that meant nothing to me when all I ever wanted was to get to the heart of things.

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

— Steve Cushman

February 2015

O.Henry 49


The Billionaire Boys Club

Collectively, these retired business executives are worth a small fortune. But the time they spend in each other’s company at “work” on Banking Street is, well, priceless

T

By Maria Johnson • Photographs By John Gessner

he wooden sign by the front door says Blue Gem. And that’s true. A real estate holding company called Blue Gem is headquartered here, in an office that takes up half of a gambrel-roofed office duplex on Banking Street, next to where the Irving Park branch post office has morphed into the Pack-N-Post. Alan Cone is president of Blue Gem. Sheron Watts is secretary and treasurer. Alan’s son, Billy, is the vice president. But Billy lives in Wilmington, so here in Greensboro, the company is just Alan and Sheron.

50 O.Henry

February 2015

That’s Blue Gem, like the sign says. But the sign doesn’t tell you the most remarkable thing about this place, which is that in addition to housing Blue Gem, it’s a hive — albeit a low-key hive — of some of Greensboro’s most successful retired businessmen. Five of them rent cubbyhole offices down the hallway from Cone. If you tallied up the net worth of the whole lot, you could call them the Billionaire Boys’ Club, and you might be off by one zero. Maybe. None of them has to be here. Yet every one of them is, nearly every day they’re in town. The Art & Soul of Greensboro


In order of descending years, they are: Berry Reid, 90.
Alan Cone, who turns 89 this month. Bob Rapp, who also turns 89 this month, but six days before Cone, as the younger Cone likes to point out. Clyde Collins, 86. Charlie Reid, 85. And Bob Taylor, the baby at 78. Total mileage? Rapp grabs his calculator, which is never far away. His fingers fly over the large buttons. “Five hundred seventeen years of experience,” he says. A laugh ignites his blue eyes and flushes his face under a shock of white hair. These guys don’t act their age, which is saying something, considering the life expectancy of men born in their era. Acting at all is a victory. That’s what makes these guys exceptional. They play the stock market. They talk current events. And smack. And sports. Mondays are brimming with recaps of weekend matchups, pro and collegiate. All of the guys went to school in North Carolina. Taylor and Rapp are Davidson men. Cone graduated from Carolina. Berry Reid started at N.C. State and finished at Carolina. Collins went to King’s College. And Charlie Reid went to Wake Forest, which is fine by the other ACC fans. “There’s hardly anybody that doesn’t like Wake Forest; they don’t beat up on anybody,” Reid says. Get the idea? Lunch is a pretty big deal, except for Collins, a light eater who usually heats up something in the kitchenette at end of the hall, and for Taylor, who typically goes home to catch a bite. The rest dine out a fair bit — sometimes with each other, sometimes with other pals — Libby Hill, Pita Delite, Lox, Stock & Bagel and the like. Back in their wood-paneled warren, they watch the market on CNBC. When the Masters or the Ryder Cup is on, they watch the Golf Channel. Most of them played golf until their knees and backs gave out. A couple of them — Cone and Charlie Reid — still haul it around the course in a cart. And even with body parts protesting, a number of them still work out in gyms, either at home or at a club, a few times a week. Often, they duck out for an hour or so to push their hearts and joints to a midday rally. They come back, flush with oxygen. They read books and magazines. Maybe work crossword puzzles. Read email. Check on the market. Forward a few Internet stories. Pay some bills. Inflict a few jokes. Grab a piece of candy from one of the cellophane bags that Rapp cuts open and sets on the corner of his desk. Then they might catch a nap. Check on the market again. Make a few trades. Nothing too strenuous. “I work,” says Bob Taylor, drawing out the last word as he considers the truthfulness of his statement. “But if I worked for someone else, I’d probably be fired.” Many of them had bigger, fancier offices in the heydays of their careers. Here, most spaces are 12-by-12 or smaller, and no one but Sheron, whose office is just inside the front door, has a window, so the guys leave their doors open to catch the breeze of conversation. Heads poke into offices then disappear quickly, a never-ending game of silver-haired Whac-A-Mole.

“Where’d you get that sweater?” Taylor gently needles to Charlie Reid, who suddenly appears in a festive snowflake pattern. “This old thing? I think it was a wedding gift.” They have brought the trappings of success with them: hulking desks and credenzas; square-edge briefcases and leather armchairs with brass nail heads; a Bob Timberlake landscape here, a hunt print there; black-and-white photos from college days; fading color pictures of round-cheeked children; newer digital pictures of grandchildren; and metal filing cabinets. Lots of metal filing cabinets. They are a paper generation, but they’ve made the transition to computers. And satellite TV. Rapp has a dish on the roof. Cone has an Internet server. They share connections. Most have multiple screens glowing around their desks. When big news breaks, everyone knows about it. Voices float into the open hallway. “There’s always a conversation going,” says Cone. They talk politics, up to a point. “There’s contrast in politics, liberal versus conservative, but when there are differences, we have no interest in trying to debate it and change each other’s mind,” says Charlie Reid. “There are plenty of interesting things to talk about.” Like health. All of them have health issues, and they talk about their ailments. But they don’t dwell on them. “How’s your vertigo? What did the eye doctor say? Are you going to get that fixed or leave it alone?” That’s how Charlie Reid sums it up. A few years ago, Cone bought a defibrillator for the office, just in case. Sheron learned how to use it. “I think I got it,” she says. Her hands turn into high-voltage pads as she imagines the steps. “Put them there. Stay clear. Push the button.” She pauses. “I guess I can call 911.” Technically, Sheron’s job is to take care of the financials for Blue Gem, but, practically speaking, she rides herd on the whole gang, distributing mail, collecting rent and serving as the IT department when possible. At 67, she’s the youngster in the office. She describes a recent technical issue with a smart-phone. “We’re trying to get on the iCloud, and . . .” she throws her hands up. “Well, that’s a horse of a different color.” Her perks include unlimited time on Amazon.com and Pinterest; the occasional meatloaf sandwich if Berry Reid and his wife have meatloaf the night before; and clementines from Bob Rapp when they’re in season. “My husband wants me to retire, but I don’t want to retire,” she says. “I like what I’m doing. It’s fun. They’ve got their quirky little ways, but I know ’em. They’re all very generous to me at Christmas, and they’re very gentlemanly. Like, if they say something a little off-color, they’ll apologize to me. You wouldn’t hear that from anyone younger.” At the end of the day, which is whenever they say it is, but which happens to be pretty close to quitting time for the rest of the world, the guys get in their cars, which are a few steps away — no reserved spaces or covered parking here — and go home to eat dinner and talk to their wives. The next day, they get up and get dressed and go to the office, just as they have done for years. “You keep on keepin’ on, if you know what I mean,” says Clyde Collins, who was the chief financial officer and executive vice president of Southern Life Insurance Co. until it was sold in 1986. He can’t break himself of the

They play the stock market. They talk current events. And smack. And sports.

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

February 2015

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habit of getting up at 5 a.m., so he’s happy to have a place to go. “It’s a place I can keep my records and stuff . . . It’s a place that’s mine.” Cone — who worked for his family business, Cone Mills, before buying his own denim company — started this outliers club in 2000, eight years after he bought the shotgun-style suite. At that time, he’d just sold off the denim-making part of Blue Gem to focus on commercial real estate. His employees filled every office. But bit by bit, Cone whittled his holdings and his staff until it was just he and Sheron. “Hung in there like a hair in a biscuit,” Sheron says, explaining her longevity. Cone says the idea of renting the extra space to retired friends came up one day when he was having lunch with Rapp. He doesn’t remember who brought it up. In any case, Rapp was the first tenant. A mortgage banker when he landed in Greensboro in 1955, Rapp later started Westminster Homes with builder friend Roger Kavanagh. A few years later, they sold it to Weyerhaeuser. Then Rapp started Arrapco Homes and sold it to D.R. Horton. Then Rapp bought half of Fortis Corp. and sold it to K. Hovnanian Homes. The sales left him loaded — even with his nasty Ferrari habit — but it did not quench his need to stay busy. “My father worked at Cannon Mills for over 55 years,” he says. “He took one week of vacation a year and never missed a day. I love to work.” Berry Reid was the next one in. A former stockbroker at J.C. Bradford & Co., now UBS, Reid hadn’t been retired long when his wife made one thing clear: Their house was a home, not an office. Reid understood, and honestly, he didn’t want to stay at home all the time anyway. So he moved in with Rapp and Cone. Mornings, Berry is usually the first to arrive. He brings in his USA TODAY and collects his Wall Street Journal and Investor’s Business Daily, both of which he has delivered to the office. He reads them thoroughly — committing figures and dates to memory — and he checks on the market. He tracks the ups and downs on two computer screens behind his desk. The opposite wall is covered with a set of prints depicting famous Scottish golf courses — Reid has been to Scotland seven times — along with photos of pro golfer Henry Picard, who won the Masters in 1938 and the PGA Championship in 1939. Reid and Picard became correspondents and friends after Picard gave Reid, then a 12-year-old fan, a golf ball at an exhibition at Sedgefield Country Club in 1936. “He was a great man and a wonderful golfer,” Reid says of his friend, who died in 1997 at age 90. Reid is that age now, and he says he would not have gotten there without this place. “I’d have been sitting at home,” he says. “It’s easy to get stale that way.” They’ve seen it before. People retire. They travel. They read the books they’ve been meaning to read, watch the movies they’ve been meaning to watch. It’s nice for a while. But gradually their worlds get smaller. It takes effort to stay engaged and interested. And being interested, this crew knows, is half of being interesting. The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Having a place to go — even if it’s just a dozen feet by a dozen feet — helps. After retiring as CEO of United Guarantee, Charlie Reid rented a solo space in the U.S. Trust building downtown. He wanted to keep a hand in the business world, but he didn’t want to do it from home. “It’s just that when you’ve worked in an office throughout your career, and you’ve done heavy-duty work, it feels more natural to do it in an office than to do it at home,” says Reid, who came to Greensboro as the city executive for First Union Bank. His first retirement office was bigger than his current space. It had a great view. But it was at the end of a hallway, and even if Reid left his door open, he didn’t see anyone. He’d heard about Cone’s convivial setup on Banking Street. “I told Alan if you ever have a vacancy, and you want me, call me.” Cone called in 2010, when another tenant left. Reid was the last one to move in. He generates the most jokes, as giver and taker. The others give him grief about coming in too late — he golfs a couple of mornings a week — and leaving too early and taking too much vacation time. “Sometimes, they’ll threaten to dock my pay,” Reid says, laughing. Bob Taylor, a former banker and owner of several KOA campgrounds, tried other retirement offices, too. For a while, he rented a room in a building on Cornwallis Road. Later, he took a single space in a small shopping center on Pembroke Road. “I didn’t like it; it was just me,” says Taylor, who was used to bustling offices when he worked for Security Bank, a forerunner of Bank of America, and for Wachovia. Working in a solitary cell seemed like just that. “I didn’t have anybody to bounce things off of, get their ideas. There are advantages to being around other people. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone to these guys and said, ‘This doesn’t make any sense. Help me with this.’ I’ve learned a lot from these guys. We’ve learned a lot from each other.” Sometimes, they miss the competitive crunch of a full-time job. But they can’t run that fast any more. They’re thankful for a slower pace. And for a more relaxed dress code. “Unless there’s a funeral, I’m not wearing a tie,” says Berry Reid. Yes, they still turn profits. It’s what they do, and they’re good at. But making money is not really the point. Cone charges his pals enough rent to cover taxes on the property. And a lot of what these guys make in the stock market, they give away. Back in the day, they were board members. Presidents of civic organizations. Community leaders. Those days are largely behind them, but they still write hefty checks. So you could call them the Billion-Dollar Boys’ Club, and you might be right. But you would miss the truth, which hangs in the air of this unremarkable little space. Charlie Reid looks up from his desk and calls out to Taylor. “You still 78?” asked Reid.
“Will be for a while,” says Taylor. OH Maria Johnson is a contributing editor of O.Henry magazine, which keeps its own menagerie in an office next to these fine fellows.

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Our Funny Valentines Greensboro is a place that inspires the heart — and sometimes perfectly silly verse Illustrations by Harry Blair

A Friendly Love Poem By Jim Dodson

O Friendly, my Friendly Center, that is, Place of my youth and houses of biz, Where I rode on my bike to read books at Wills, Roamed aisles of Fleet-Plummer and Potpourri thrills, Jay’s subs made me happy, Bernie Shepherd well-dressed, The Terrace and Record Bar — simply the best. The Eckerd’s was where my first Playboy was bought, Terrified beyond reason that I would get caught. Somehow I survived, grew up, moved away, But you keep on growing to this very day. My old haunts are history, we’ve both changed a lot, But I remain true to a few places you’ve got. I dig my foods Whole and the Five Guys are cool, Though my tastes are more Orvis and rather Old School, At Christmas I dropped a small bundle of tender, At The Extra Ingredient for my own Mrs. December. So thank you for years of good customer treatment And the Valentine fun I just had at V’s Secret.

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A Lover’s Plea By Fred Chappell

Battleground Park, so big and green, Won’t you be my Valenteen?

The Art & Soul of Greensboro


I Love You, General Greene By Alice Pilcher, age 17, submitted by her uncle, Walt Pilcher

I love you, Nathanael Greene. Astride your mount you’re so serene, yet lean and mean, the handsomest general I’ve ever seen. There’s much to give you credit for:

An Ode to Ghassan’s By Jane Borden

Dear Ghassan’s, if I may flatter, I adore your skewer platter With extra salad, hold the fries. Your dressing may be my demise.

England’s Pyrrhic victory was bold, pragmatic trickery to set us free. With cunning ingenuity you lost the battle that won the war. Not for me some boy dragoon who’d burst my Valentine balloon. For you I swoon. There’s just something about a man in uniform.

And the herbs mixed with the feta — How I wish you all would let a Woman in on the recipe. I’ll be specific: I am she. For I live very far away, Across the country, in L.A. May I request that you devise plans for a West Coast franchise?

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Haiku for Handy Pantry By Zithobile Nxumalo

Before Chipotle I fell in love on Tate Street With Handy Pantry

Lake Daniel Limerick (circa 1987) By Zithobile Nxumalo

There once was a park called Lake Daniel More joy than a small girl could handle The go ’round was merry The swings a bit scary Yet no other park holds a candle.

For the Love of Morris Farlow By Sarah Lindsay

We like you, Morris Farlow Park, constituting one quarter of a block with tall trees, a swingset and a slide, a scrap of ubiquitous Buffalo Creek, and a sign that warns the park is closed at night. Particularly we like the labyrinth, outlined in brick, an ancient shape with tolerance, curving slightly on its way to accommodate an oak. We stood in mild amaze the day it first appeared: who made it, why? Of course we love the mystery and treading the back-and-forthing walk that ends where it begins. But Morris Farlow closes once it’s dark. Lord knows what happens then. 56 O.Henry

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Hot Doggerel

By David Claude Bailey We can smell your onions from afar, My long anticipated Yum Yum hot dog. The tart yellow of your mustard, The creamy delights of your slaw, The spicy kick of your chili. And, oh, the plump ecstasy of your frankfurter: It’s the reddest red, We’ve ever been fed.

P.I.P.

By Bob Wickless Cheap beer & bebop, What’s left to say— stumbled upon Walkers Which Way Where Gate City music Was a sweet valentine When Al Neese’s trumpet Touched the sublime. Rest, no, play on in peace, Al Neese.

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To Us

By Bob Wickless You want what? A valentine for O.Henry? Okay, but I didn’t expect this endry.

Power

By Harry Blair Duke tree trimmers — Are you good swimmers? There’s coal ash in the Dan. Go jump in it.

Early at the Arboretum By Jacinta White

This man who loves his dog, takes him early mornings. And I go, too, wrapped against the cold of my ignorance to the need for such rituals. This early Sunday morning opens its doors and everyone comes, bowing their heads in greetings as they pass others walking with their dog or child or finger-locked lover. On the bench, we sloop under a blossoming tree, watch and nod to those walking by, listen to our breathing and the laughter of children playing nearby. And the dog that we have walked, now lying underneath his favorite bench, somehow lifts us closer to the rising sun.

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The Greensboro Clock By Lorenzo Meachum

The clock on top of Greensboro has always told the time.
 I watched it from one place to another. It has become a friend of mine. When I need to know when I am running late
 I’m always looking for you. But now I know while I am looking, You are looking at me too.
 Thanks for the times.

Oh Westerwood By Steve Cushman

You and your precious trees Your beauty brings me to my knees

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To the Last Drop With Rhiannon Giddens at the helm, the world famous Carolina Chocolate Drops keep on singing the blues

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By Grant Britt • Photograhs by Michael Wilson

n a cold, raw, rainy November night, Rhiannon Giddens is carefully creeping down a meandering farm lane outside Mebane for what will become a life-changing rendezvous. Triad native Giddens and her newly-minted Carolina Chocolate Drops have been taking lessons from Joe Thompson, one of the last African American string-band fiddlers. They’re here at his house tonight to soak up his wisdom and demonstrate what they’ve learned, and Giddens has allowed me to witness the occasion as long as I behave myself and stay out of the way. For decades, Thompson played black string-band music at square dances throughout the Carolinas with Brother Odell and cousin Nate on dueling banjos. The market for their music waned after World War II, and Thompson made his living in a furniture factory for nearly four decades before being rediscovered in ’73 playing folk festivals. That led to worldwide touring and a 1990 gig at Carnegie Hall, an event Thompson would relish for the rest of his life. Odell died in ’94, and Thompson dropped out of music till ’99, recording a solo album on Rounder, Family Tradition. In ’07 he received a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship and appeared at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

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It’s not Giddens’ first visit to Thompson’s, and on arrival, she’s greeted like family. It’s plenty warm in Thompson’s modest Mebane farmhouse, but it’s fixing to get a lot warmer when the music starts. 
 Joe’s ready. Taking his fiddle out of its case, he hands it to Giddens, who plucks the strings, then shakes her head, grinning. “You’re in beautiful tune as always,” she tells him, “right out of the case.” The other Drops, Dom Flemons and Justin Robinson, arrive, shake hands with Joe, and get right down to business, settling into the folding chairs Joe’s arranged for them in a circle in his small living room underneath a caricature of Joe on the wall, fiddle in hand, clad in a T-shirt that says “Roots.” The four people fill the room to capacity. Joe is a tidy guy making sure the bottles of water the band has brought in sit on napkins so that Mrs. Joe won’t fuss at him about rings on the furniture. “Steel Drivin’ Man,” Thompson says softly, shaking his head as if making a comment to himself, then kicks it off. He’s a master of projection. His voice doesn’t seem very loud in the room, barely above a whisper, but it carries clearly over the instruments. There’s no countdown here — just grab your instrument and hang on. This stuff rocks harder than most old time music, with a chugging rhythm and a percussive, spine tingling thump. Joe holds the bow like you would The Art & Soul of Greensboro


grab a windshield wiper prior to removing it, choking it up at the bottom of the bow. But he’s smooth, gliding over the strings like they were coated in butter. His fingers barely touch the strings, but the notes are sharp and clear. “Play, boy,” he tells co-fiddler Justin after he tears off a tasty run. It may be a practice, but it feels like the real thing, more like a jam than a lesson. Justin is stomping so hard the floor’s shaking. “Go ’head, baby, do what you want to do,” Joe tells Giddens, who never takes her eyes off Joe’s hands. Flemons brings out a jug for the bass line, and for a moment there’s a mindbending mix of old and new technologies as his cell phone rings while he’s lustily blowing on the jug. “Don’t Put No Short’nin’ in My Bread,” Joe calls out softly, and they’re rolling again. “Might as well play it if you’re gonna do it, get it over with,” says Joe, grinning like a proud papa at the prowess of his pupils as the last strains of the melody fade away. Thompson passed away in 2012 at the age of 93. But his influence lives on in the Drops. “Joe belonged to an older style of musician, where music was a calling and a way of life rather than a profession,” Giddens says. “He lived and breathed it, and that was a very powerful way for us to begin our journey together under that umbrella. And he was so generous with his time and his energy. I think all of that was a great anchor for us to have.” But long before Giddens started out on the road to Joe’s house that November night, she was grabbed by the sounds Gathering in Boone in April 2005. Future Drops Dom Flemons and Justin Robinson were also in attendance, and the trio soon discovered they shared a love for black stringband music. “I remember hearing the old country stuff as a kid because I grew up partially in the country,” says Giddens, “so I did have that in my ear.” She got interested in contradancing, drawn to the old time bands playing for the dances. “I started getting into it because of that, and then when I found out about the banjo being an African-American instrument, I was like, ‘Whoa! Once you start doing it you just don’t stop.’” By November, the trio was a group, first as the Sankofa Strings, with Flemons on guitar and jug; Giddens doubling on fiddle and banjo; Sule Greg Wilson on bodhran; brushes, banjo and uke, with Robinson sitting in as a guest from time to time. That lineup jelled into the Drops when Wilson left. Since then, the group has become world-famous, releasing five albums, contributing “Daughter’s Lament” to the soundtrack from 2012’s The Hunger Games: Songs From District 12 and Beyond, and winning a Grammy for Best Traditional Rock Album for 2010’s Genuine Negro Jig. Thompson’s music had a little extra something in it, a kick and a drive not found in most string-band music. “The rhythm in it is really unique,” Giddens says. “He is something special; he does have something that’s disappearing as a field for playing.” That special something was evident to Tim Duffy the first time he heard Giddens and the Drops play at Shakori Hills in ’06. Through his Music Maker foundation, Duffy fixes broke musicians, offering financial aid, gigs and recording contracts to indigent and often forgotten roots musicians. “When we first started Music Maker, who could envision the Carolina Chocolate Drops?” Duffy asks. “When they learned those tunes from Joe Thompson, how could you imagine another Native American Irish black woman banjo player from the Piedmont picking up this music?” Duffy says, referring to Etta Baker, whom he also managed, and had just passed away when he met the Drops. “It just shows you that the blues is a spirit and will never die. It just fell straight into Rhiannon, and she just dedicated herself to it.” The following year broke the Drops out to a wider audience due to their electrifying performance on the tiny Cabin Stage at Merlefest ’07. The predominantly white audience was spinning around in their seats to find out what the hell was going on over there. Giddens, classically trained in opera, has an ethereal, soaring soprano pure enough to make listeners dewy-eyed. But on this occasion, she was whooping like she was astride a bucking bronco, riding The Art & Soul of Greensboro

the rhythms so hard you could feel the pulse of energy spreading out from the stage like a gigantic ripple. Even old time music lovers had never heard tunes like “Georgia Buck” delivered with such foot-stomping, roof-raising intensity. “That was definitely a turning point for us,” Giddens says. “We had a 20-minute set, and six songs in I was like, ‘All right guys, let’s just hit it hard!’” Giddens’ and the band’s performance was impressive. So much so that at their indoor show the next day, they had to turn people away. Their Merlefest appearance had a ripple effect as well. “That year and the next year we were the top sellers in merchandise for two years in a row at Merlesfest,” Giddens says. “It was immense. And for years afterward, we’d see people coming to the shows saying ‘I saw you at Merlefest and that’s why I’m here.’” There have been some changes since then. Giddens is the only original Drop left. Robinson wanted to get off the road. “He was a homebody, [and is] now working in forestry. He’s an outdoors kinda guy, and he’s happy,” she says. Flemons left soon after. “Dom and I had been together as musical partners for seven years. I wanted to keep the band going, and he wanted to strike out and start back doing some stuff he’d been doing before he ever met us. He did a solo record and that’s going great, and it just seemed like we had just come to that point in the road where it made sense.” The Drops play on, with Giddens on banjo and fiddle; Hubby Jenkins on guitar, mandolin and banjo; Rowan Corbett as percussionist on bones, snare drum, cajon and djembe; and cellist Malcolm Parson. Giddens has a couple of solo projects courtesy of T-Bone Burnett. “I got tapped by T-Bone Burnette to do a solo record,” she says of her solo debut, Tomorrow Is My Turn, out in February 2015. “That’s the kind of thing you don’t go ‘Well, can you come back in a coupla years?’ So that’s coming out next year, and the Drops are actually gonna be with me, so we’re gonna do a combined band to tour that record as well as touring as the Chocolate Drops.” She’s also included in another Burnette project, Lost On the River / The New Basement Tapes, a recording of Dylan lyrics from 1967 rediscovered and set to music composed and performed by Giddens, Elvis Costello, Marcus Mumford (Mumford and Sons), Jim James from My Morning Jacket, and Tyler Goldsmith from Dawes. “We all went in and for about a week and a half at Capitol Records in a big room, recorded like forty-eight songs, totally live tracks,” she says. “We all were writing them and playing, most of the tracks have got everybody on it, everybody was just swapping up and doing what needed to be done.” Giddens believes what needs to be done is exposing more people to black string-band music and to honor the musicians who played it. “People who came before me had to go through lots of things that I, sitting in a hotel room, am not having to worry about, getting picked up off the street or killed.” For her, it’s a mission, not just a job. “I get a chance to think about this music and make these records, and if somebody listens to my version of ‘Underneath the Harlem Moon’ and goes ‘I want to know more about Ethel Waters,’ then I feel like I’ve done my job,” Giddens says. “If someone listens to the Drops doing ‘Georgia Buck’ and they wanna go look up Joe Thompson, want to learn more about what black string-band music was and how much it contributed to Americana music, I feel like I’ve done my job,” she says. “I can be a pretty girl singing a song, so can a million other people, but I feel like I was put here specifically to do this work. That’s what I hope to be remembered for.” OH From his memorabilia-stuffed shack in Greensboro, Grant Britt has shared his views on local and national bands for American Songwriter, No Depression and Blues Music Magazine. Triad native Rhiannon was a founding member of the Carolina Chocolate Drops in 2005. Her solo debut, Tomorrow Is My Turn, comes out this month. February 2015

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Story of a House

Nutsy’s Love Nest

At the heart of Sharon and Bud Turcot’s inspiring 41-year marriage and romance sits a humble little cottage in the woods, where they tend the fires of love and savor a life together By Cynthia Adams • Photographs By John Gessner

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his isn’t a house story. It’s a love story, best read with a nice cabernet uncorked before a roaring fire. In fact, wine is at the very heart of this story. So is a heart-warming fire. I met the Turcots in 1993, when Sharon Turcot was 52 and had just mastered reading. As a severe dyslexic, “I came out,” she says wryly, “a long time ago.” I wrote about Sharon finally learning that she was far from stupid. She had spent much of her life wrestling with dyslexia, but finally had her disability defined thanks to her husband’s persistence. Bud insisted that Sharon be evaluated by experts at Wake Forest University. Soon she was reading and began advocating for literacy. (“He kept telling me I was smart. When they tested me, I finally discovered it was true.”) Afterward, she spoke publicly about the experience and illustrated a book published by Appalachian State University titled Sharon’s Stories. Sharon tells a story about a daisy she found while weeding. The daisy was an anomaly, with two small flowers at the top of the stem rather than one. She picked the small flower and placed it inside a jar. That morning, she left the aberrant daisy in the teacher’s lounge at a school where she volunteered. Beside the jar, she placed this note: “Look, I’m beautiful. I grew up different.” Bud had known all along that Sharon was not only a gifted watercolor artist, she was highly intuitive with an innate genius for reading people. “She was always smart,” he says. “I could see that.” Over the years, Sharon has taught handicapped children how to swim in the couple’s backyard pool; she flung herself into hospice work at Kidspath assisting with terminally ill children. She volunteered untold hours with the Learning Disability Association. And she continually nudged Bud into each of her good works because she knew the formerly hardnosed businessman had an open, soft heart. “Bud was a grape that acted like marble,” she chortles. “Now he’s a grape.” Then, as now, the pair of old friends and lovers weather things as one — heart surgery, losses and a sobering financial reversal — all that attends a long, full life. Bud Turcot, whose given name is Raoul, is from upstate New York. He and Sharon met when they lived in Asheville. His quirky term of endearment for Sharon quickly became Nutsy, which bears explanation. “We would lie in bed and the squirrels used to run nuts across the roof,” he explains. “We would laugh, and I started calling Sharon ‘Honey Nutsy.’” He abbreviated it to simply “Nutsy,” and it stuck. The Turcots married on September 28, 1973, and relocated to Sedgefield in 1975, close to the furniture industry in which he once worked. They found an Onslow Road house

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that suited them nestled back in several acres of woods. The house was a fit — there were lots of scampering squirrels, a legendary golf course, and they quickly invested themselves into the neighborhood. Although it is a pleasant house and one backing up to the storied golf course, it is not a mansion — something they could have chosen but did not. The two-bedroom home simply suited them and met all their entertaining requirements, especially since it had a pool and several acres for privacy. They essentially live in the rear of the house, with its open kitchen, cozy den and expansive back porch overlooking the pool, a terraced garden and the golf course beyond it. They had bought the Onslow Road ranch planning a few revisions. They eventually remodeled the kitchen and made other slow adaptations to the house where they intend to stay “for a lifetime.” Here they happily indulged his love of golf and her love of swimming and gardening. The couple had only to step out their back door and they were mere yards from the course he loved and the kidneyshaped pool she spent hours in. In fact, they often swam together in the early morning. In the afternoon, Sharon used the pool for teaching children. They strung white fairy lights in the trees for a year-round festive effect. Her herb garden soon thrived at the back door, and blue hydrangeas bloomed effusively in the summer. Their own roots sank deeper. “Of course, we remained in Sedgefield,” says Bud. “When we bought the house, we intended that we will live here forever.” In 2001, the Turcots remodeled the master bath, installing a massive soaking tub and shower. An artist friend spent weeks painting custom artwork there and also in the guest bath. When the bath renovation was complete, the Turcots filled the impressive tub with bottles of champagne on ice, and invited all the workers and their wives for a celebration. For many of the workers’ wives, it was the first time they’d seen their husbands’ handiwork. At 4 p.m. on any given day, a friend, neighbor, or even their minister from Sedgefield Presbyterian, Tempe Fussell, may pop by for happy hour. In the summer, neighbors stop in for a dip in the pool. If there is a chill in the air, there will be an uncorked bottle in the den by the ubiquitous fire, which is almost constantly burning. And so is the Turcots’ consuming passion. “Every night, we say we love each other, even if it’s ‘I love you, dammit,’” jokes Sharon. Bud’s love offering is not very far away — a house he bought for Sharon forty years ago. Nutsy’s Nest, which occupies 3.5 acres on Rockingham Road, is old enough to predate the Sedgefield Country Club, but its exact age is uncertain. “It was a hunting lodge,” explains Bud, “and male hunters stayed there. A guy from Virginia had 5 acres and sold off 1.5 acres but planned to build a big estate.” Although the estate never materialized, the Virginia owner with big ideas did complete

“Every night, we say we love each other, even if it’s ‘I love you, dammit,’”

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an impressive entrance. Decades later, their friend and neighbor Diana Mizell was on the lookout for a house for Sharon’s aging mother and phoned to tell the Turcots about a small place with a great location. “Sharon’s mother was still living in Aiken, South Carolina, and having strokes. We wanted to move her nearby,” says Bud. That was the initial idea when Sharon went to see the tiny cottage and called Bud to say she loved it. The “Nest” is a cottage of only 600 square feet, with a miniscule fireplace (a requirement) in the sitting room, a kitchen, bath and bedroom. There was a small front and back porch, and the original lodge’s outhouse still stood out back. It was not very much to look at as cottages go, but the setting was lovely. Deer roamed the heavily wooded property; Sharon melted at the sight. “We bought it at 2 p.m. that very day,” says Sharon. The purchase price was $44,000. “It’s surrounded by million dollar houses,” she marvels. “But everything a human being could need is there.” That is, if you liked, as the Turcots did, the idea of no phone, no cable, “no nothing,” they laugh. “The Nest had a role in where we are today,” Bud says. It became a virtual love nest, where the couple escaped and spent idle weekends. In 1983, they went to the Nest every single weekend. “It was like a dollhouse,” says Bud. “Sharon would pack up a picnic and wine, and we would head over. We would get away from everybody.” On weekends, Bud would drive back to Onslow Road for the morning paper, and Sharon would greet him with piping hot coffee when he returned. They found themselves spending an inordinate amount of time in the modest cottage in the woods — happily. Sharon smiles. “I would sometimes go alone when I was upset or mad. I’d go and complain out loud, then look around and think, you lucky bitch!” Sharon would take her watercolors and paper, or simply have a languid drink on the porch and watch the deer pass by, or listen to her beloved squirrels scurry across the trees and rooftop. A friend once called it “Sharon’s Shack” — and Sharon corrected her. “No. It’s Nutsy’s Nest,” she said. Her own in name, it was soon hers in fact. “It was in our names together,” says Bud, “but we had a small mortgage.” An unnamed person wanted to buy it because it was such prime property. “They kept persisting, calling me about it, saying I could make money on it and would be stupid not to sell. I finally said, ‘It’s not mine to sell. It’s Sharon’s.’” So for that Valentine’s Day, he sealed the deal. Bud paid off the remaining mortgage on Nutsy’s Nest and placed the deed solely in Sharon’s name. “We’ve always had wonderful vibes there,” she sighs. “We did a lot of things there. We made love, had champagne.” Bud pipes up: “I do think sex and champagne . . .” And Sharon interrupts — “they work!” He shows the engraving inside his simple wedding band, which reads, “Two shall be one.”

It became a virtual love nest, where the couple escaped and spent idle weekends.

A

morning routine for the Turcot household is like this: she brings Bud a cup of coffee and he builds the fire. At one time, Sharon ran cooking classes with a friend in her spacious kitchen, which has a skylight that invites light into the traditional paneled rooms. The kitchen wasn’t renovated for that purpose, however. It was renovated with entertaining in mind, and still functions well — they installed an unusual angled sink and extensive coun-

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ters and even an ice machine. Turcot dinner parties are well-known for Sharon’s easy command of gourmet fare and Bud’s knowledge of wines. Come summer, the kitchen allows for relaxed dinners served on the porch or on the brick patio by the pool. Come cooler weather, the more formal dining and living room can handily accommodate twenty or more diners. And if a friend or a friend of a friend has an engagement, wedding, a baby, or cause for celebration, odds are there will be a party at the Turcots — no setback has ever changed that. The pair lost a significant fortune they invested after selling Twin Oaks golf course in 2005, a business they purchased in 1983. The wine shop Bud had installed inside the clubhouse was a far cry from the beer culture many associate with golf, but it indulged his love of wines. He is a longtime member of the Bacchus club, known for wine aficionados and gourmands. Of course, Twin Oaks sold beer, but beer was never Bud’s passion. “We had a lot of money invested in Wachovia and some other stocks,” says Bud. The reversal of fortunes stung initially — no more family trips to Europe or ordering bottles of Dom Perignon (Sharon’s favorite champagne) when the couple ate out. Now it was Sharon’s turn to do what she could to salve the wound. So in a way, she returned the gift of Nutsy’s Nest, placing it back in Bud’s hands. “I realized it would give us a little financial security to rent out Nutsy’s Nest,” she smiles. “We were fine, but it was just that little insurance.” A friend’s son rented it. Overall, the money loss didn’t affect them, Sharon points out. They had always lived simply, splurging mainly on food, wine and travel. And the Onslow Road house was very much to their liking, close to many valued friends and loyal neighbors. One of the love lessons that she has learned after so many years, Sharon explains, is to listen to her partner. “Listening rather than talking about how I feel. I love to hear how Bud feels.” “We still entertain a lot,” Sharon adds, saying she never desired wealth but only rich relationships. “We still have a great life. Bud keeps resoling his favorite Bally loafers, and gets the tailor to mend his trousers. We don’t need a lot.” The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Bud interjects pointedly. “Listen, we go over to Sedgefield Elementary School, and those children are hungry. Over 90 percent of them qualify for free lunches, and if it wasn’t for the backpack program, a lot of those kids wouldn’t eat over the weekend. We have never known what it is to be hungry.” He sits back against the sofa cushions. “Can you imagine that? These kids are waiting to help us carry the food into the school. They are grateful to us.” They describe enabling “each other’s passions.” So when Sharon makes homemade pillows for children at Sedgefield Elementary (“for children that don’t even have pillows for their bed”) or fills backpacks with food for children there, Bud joins her and is at her side. “I think Bud really sees who I am. Bud sees me,” Sharon says. “It’s hard enough to love who we are, but he loves me. He’s helped me go this path.” In the Turcot household, the couple place greatest emphasis on their family, friends and experiences shared — and making meaning out of their lives. They do not accumulate nor collect things, with one exception — they have recorded the years and days of their relationship in greatest detail. They have saved every love letter, card, souvenir and memento from decades of courtship and marriage. And Bud became a faithful diarist, recording what friends they saw each day or what they did together as a couple. On Valentine’s Day, they may not enjoy their old routine at Nutsy’s Nest, where they were tucked away in the quiet woods with only the squirrels and deer to intrude. So the couple will do what they did last year. They will place a road block in the Onslow Road driveway marked: “No Entrance,” so drop-in friends will know to give them privacy. Bud will stoke the fire and open Sharon’s favorite bottle of bubbly. Sharon will decorate and make Bud a special card. “I’ll put a red blanket in front of the fireplace. And we will take the phone off the hook. And we will make it special,” she says. Her dark eyes shine with meaning, and a love that has aged forty-one years to perfection. OH The very lucky Cindy Adams has spent many an hour by the Turcots’ fireplace or pool with a glass of wine in good company with their friends and family. She reports the same vintage simply doesn’t taste as good anywhere else. February 2015

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February 2015

The Art & Soul of Greensboro


“Whatever our path, whatever the color or grain of our days, whatever riddles we must solve to stay alive, the secret of life somehow always has to do with the awakening and freeing of what’s been asleep.” By Noah Salt

Hearts in Bloom Someone once said that February is the month when we can thankfully abandon impossible New Year’s resolutions and get on with the simple business of living. Indeed, as Old Man winter begins to toddle for the exits, much new life is stirring — awakening — all around. Out in the garden, winter daphne is gloriously in bloom with its delicate white flowers and dizzyingly sweet scent. And the oft-transplanted, winter-loving Christmas rose, Helleborus niger, is a beautiful harbinger of things to come. Snowdrops are visible and the deep red berries of mature nandina, so-called the “Bamboo of Heaven,” are at their peak of color on the gloomiest gray day, nature’s contribution to the red roses and candy hearts of Valentine’s Day and red-letter Presidential birthdays. According to the Greeting Card Association, 145 million Valentine cards will be sent worldwide this year, which does not include the very cutest ones, those exchanged in schools. Growing ever more rapidly, of course, is the number of digital e-cards. Cnn.com’s estimate that $1.6 billion will be spent on candy and $1.9 billion on flowers seems impressive until you consider the $4.4 billion that people spend on diamonds, gold and silver wear. All this giving and getting stems from a blend of numerous traditions of courtly love that gained popularity, much of it from the writings of Geoffrey Chaucer during Britain’s high Middle Ages. Celebrating the end of winter — by feasting and a formal display of romantic inclinations — is married to broader pagan traditions hidden from view “bye wintere’s cloack,” as one ancient source metaphorically puts it. The idea, of course, is that winter’s death leads us to new life come spring. The official observance of Valentines Day on February 14 stems from the ecclesiastical legend of a Roman saint named Valentine who was jailed, tortured and executed on this date around 270 A.D. during the reign of Claudius II (a.k.a. “Claudius the Cruel”) for conducting marriages in secret during a period of turmoil on the empire’s borders. At one point, Roman authorities actually banned engagements and marriages out of fear that attachments to wives and families would keep citizens from serving in the army. Hence a tradition was born — that of messages of love and fidelity sent in secret, sometimes unsigned, pledges of hidden love.

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

— Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening

New on the Shelf: “Hort-Speak” Made Plain For newcomers and even old gardening hands alike, the terminology of the garden can sometimes be a source of frustration and confusion. For some of us, the Latin names are a pure impossibility, thus keeping things simple and relying on the common names of plants is a must. Hence our delight at receiving a nifty little book called Gardenpedia in the New Year mail. This handy “A to Z Guide to Gardening Terms” by horticulturists Pamela Bennett and Maria Zampini, lays out more than 300 simple, beautifully illustrated definitions literally on everything from “Abiotic” (it simply means a “nonliving organism”) to helpful illustrated “Zone Hardiness” maps. Every term from the familiar “Flower” to the obscure “Volcano mulching” is presented in this clear and entertaining resources guide that even includes suggested books, websites, plant organizations and useful databases, ideal for garden newcomers and veterans alike on the cusp of a new growing season. Dare we suggest even the perfect gift for your garden-mad valentine? St. Lynn’s Press, Pittsburgh, $16.95.

February Garden To-Do List Begin your spring garden with a good clean-up of all garden beds. Early February is the last best opportunity to prune shrubs and trees including crepe myrtles and camellias. This is the time to enrich your soil by digging in composted manure and garden waste and turning under cover crops, such as annual rye, vetch and clover. Now’s also the time to plant (and transplant) perrenials, bareroot roses, shrubs, vines and trees. Indoors, this is when you should start those summer veggies under light. Outside, you may direct-seed cabbage family veggies, carrots, spinach, onions, peas and late collards. Also, think about planting dahlia and begonia tubers. OH February 2015

O.Henry 69


February 2015 Drawing Cards

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THE PLAY’S THE THING. The Greensboro Fringe Festival continues to showcase new theatrical works, including “An Evening of Short Plays,” (2/5– 2/8), eight works presented by the Playwright’s Forum of the Drama Center. Stephen Hyers Studio Theatre, 200 North Davie Street, Greensboro. Info and tickets: (336) 549-7431 or greensborofringefestival.org and (336) 373-2728, thedramacenter.com.

VIRGINIA IS FOR ART LOVERS. Check out works by Jim Dine, Sol DeWitt, Larry Rivers and more at Ahead of the Curve: Selections from the Virginia Dwan Collection. Weatherspoon Art Museum, corner of Spring Garden and Tate Streets, Greensboro. Info: (336) 334-5770 or weatherspoon.uncg.edu.

February 1–9

ACT UP! Four- and eight-week classes in acting, auditioning, musical theater and circus arts are still available at the Drama Center for $80. Enroll now! 200 North Davie Street, Greensboro. To register: (336) 3732728, thedramacenter.com.

new painting techniques from the likes of Willem DeKooning and Ralph Humphrey at Innovations in Painting: Selections from the Collection. Weatherspoon Art Museum, corner of Spring Garden and Tate Streets, Greensboro. Info: (336) 334-5770 or weatherspoon. uncg.edu.

OF HUMAN BLONDAGE. Mae West and romance take center stage — literally — in Triad Stage’s production of Dirty Blonde. Performance times vary. Pyrle Theatre, 232 South Elm Street, Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 272-0160 or triadstage.org.

February 1–28

OOH! BIJOUX! Buy some locally crafted bling • for your Valentine, and if you tell ’em you read about

it in O.Henry, receive a 20 percent discount on your purchase. Days and times vary. Greensboro Historical Museum Shop, 130 Summit Avenue, Greensboro. Info: (336) 373-2043 or greensborohistory.org.

February 1–March 8

DRAWING CARD. See how various media — char• coal, ink, crayon among others — produce different effects in Line, Touch, Trace. Greenhill, 200 North Davie Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 333-7460 or greenhillnc.org.

February 1–15

• MASTER STROKES. Watch the evolution of • • • • • Art

Music/Concerts

70 O.Henry

Performing arts

February 2015

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February 1–8

Key:

Art Opening & Reception Brenda Behr 2/

Our Town

Film

Literature/Speakers

• • Fun

History

Sports

February 1–April 2

PUTTIN’ ON THE FRITZ. Portraits of various artists and literary icons are the stuff of Fritz Janschka’s Portrait Museum, shown in tandem with Self-Portraits by N.C. Artists. Greenhill, 200 North Davie Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 333-7460 or greenhillnc.org.

February 1–April 19

GOOD HEAVENS! Four artists look up for inspiration in Skyward, part of a UNCG-wide initiative, “The Globe and the Cosmos,” which celebrates the births of Shakespeare and Galileo 450 years ago. Weatherspoon Art Museum, corner of Spring Garden and Tate Streets, Greensboro. Info: (336) 334-5770 or weatherspoon. uncg.edu.

HOOD WINKS. What is the relationship to humans and landscapes? Find out at Craig Hood: Visiting Falk Artist. Weatherspoon Art Museum, corner of Spring Garden and Tate Streets, Greensboro. Info: (336) 334-5770 or weatherspoon.uncg.edu.

February 3—26

PRUNE & PLANT. Isn’t it about time you figured out how to prune those ornamentals and shrubs with expert advice —or learned the particulars of threeseason vegetable gardening from Greensboro Beautiful The Art & Soul of Greensboro


February Arts Calendar

Valentine Victuals

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February 1–November 15

OUR TOWN. Learn about the city’s first independent black community at Warnersville: Our Home, Our Neighborhood, Our Stories. Greensboro Historical Museum, 130 Summit Avenue, Greensboro. Info: (336) 373-2043 or greensborohistory.org.

February 3

EVERYBODY COMES TO RICK’S. 7 p.m. And so should you — even if the problems of three little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. The 1942 classic wartime romance, Casablanca lights up the screen. Carolina Theatre, 310 South Greene Street, Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 333-2605 or carolinatheatre.com.

February 5

SHAKE YOUR GROOVE THING. 10 p.m. (Doors open at 8 p.m.). The funk beat and shredding guitars of Aqueous will have you dancing all night. The Blind Tiger, 1819 Spring Garden Street, Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 272-9888 or theblindtiger.com.

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February 4–8

X-FACTOR. The Greatest Show on Earth just got greater: In addition to the usual fare, Mongolian riders, freestyle BMX riders, tumblers, and more comprise Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Presents CircusXtreme. Greensboro Coliseum, 1921 West Lee Street, Greensboro. Tickets: (800) 745-3000 or ticketmaster.com.

February 5

HOW DOES YOUR GARDEN GROW? Noon. Don’t neglect green things just because it’s cold outside. Curator Adrienne Roethling presents “Your Garden in Winter.” Paul J. Ciener Botanical Garden, 215 South Main Street, Kernersville. To reserve: (336) 996-7888 or cienerbotanicalgarden.org

GAEL FORCE. 8 p.m. Or rather, Gael farce. Scots comedian Craig Ferguson of The Late Late Show fame treats audiences to his quirky brand of humor. Carolina Theatre, 310 South Greene Street, Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 333-2605 or carolinatheatre.com.

Charlie Brown and the rest of the Peanuts gang become teenagers? In a word, chaos. See for yourself at UNCG Theatre’s God Sees Dog: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead. Performance times vary. Brown Building Theatre, 402 Tate Street, Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 272-0160 or performingarts.uncg.edu.

February 5–26

ART-IFACTS. Gifts from the Warren and Lydia Robbins Collection — fine pieces of African art — are yours to gaze upon. Steele Art Gallery, Bennett College, 900 East Washington Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 517-1504 or bennett.edu.

February 6

TWO-BUCK LUCK. 5–8 p.m. Celebrate First Friday with a $2 admission fee, sponsored by Wells Fargo. Greensboro Children’s Museum, 220 North Church Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 574-2898 or gcmuseum.com. Lunch & Learn. 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m., $20 • includes a light lunch while Brenda Behr demonstrates

her style of painting. Tyler White O’Brien Gallery. Info: 336-279-1124, www.tylerwhitegallery.com

February 5–8

• PEANUTTY. What happens when Lucy, Linus, • • • • • Key:

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with classes in a number of locations and times. Info: (336) 641-2400 or pamela_marshall@ncsu.edu, greensborobeautiful.org.

Bookin' It

Date Night

Art

Music/Concerts

Performing arts

Film

Literature/Speakers

• • Fun

February 2015

History

Sports

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February Arts Calendar •

Art Opening & Reception. 6 – 8 p.m. Brenda Behr showcases paintings for your Valentine. Free & Open to the public. Exhibition open until March 10th. Tyler White O’Brien Gallery, 307 State Street. Info: 336-279-1124, www.tylerwhitegallery.com.

TRÖEGS (RHYMES WITH DRUGS). 6 p.m. What’s on tap? Tröegenator, Tröegs Brewing Company’s potent (8.2) doublebock, along with other crafty, hard-to-find beers from the Pennsylvania brewery and almost everywhere else — at Beer Co.’s First Friday tasting. 121-D McGee Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 763-2204 or www.facebook.com/beerco. greensboro

STRUMMERTIME BLUES. 8 p.m. . . . And folk, Celtic, classical and alternative fill the repertoire of guitarist Shaun Hopper. High Point Theatre, 220 East Commerce Avenue, High Point. Tickets: (336) 887-3001 or highpointtheatre.com.

YEAH! YEAH! YEAH! 8 p.m. The original Fab Four may have dwindled to two, but 1964 The Tribute keeps the Beatles immortal. Carolina Theatre, 310 South Greene Street, Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 3332605 or carolinatheatre.com.

CRANKED! 10 p.m. (Doors open at 8 p.m.) Funk, hip-hop, jazz, rock and dance grooves inform the sounds of Greensboro’s own Imperial Blend. The Blind Tiger, 1819 Spring Garden Street, Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 272-9888 or theblindtiger.com.

February 6–March 10

BEHR-ING IT ALL. Admire the paintings of Brenda Behr, who finds inspiration in travel and exotic locales. Tyler White O’Brien Gallery, 307 State Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 279-1124 or tylerwhitegallery. com.

February 7

VALENTINE VICTUALS. 11 a.m. Families can express their love by preparing a Little Love Lunch: salad with raspberry dressing, red beet and white bean hummus with veggies and cupid’s cupcakes. Greensboro Children’s Museum, 220 North Church Street, Greensboro. To register: (336) 574-2898, ext. 317 or gcmuseum.com.

• BIRTHDAY BASH. 6:30 p.m. Little Mountain provides the music, you provide the good cheer for the

one-year anniversary of Greensboro’s coolest independent bookstore. Scuppernong Books, 304 South Elm Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 763-1919 or scuppernongbooks.com.

February 7, 21

• THE PAST SPEAKS. Noon until 4 p.m. Meet 72 O.Henry

February 2015

costumed interpreters representing African-Americans who made a difference in the community. Greensboro Historical Museum, 130 Summit Avenue, Greensboro. Info: (336) 373-2043 or greensborohistory.org.

February 10

Lynn Wells serve up French toast made with locally produced eggs, milk and butter. Dinners and desserts also available on pre-order. Greensboro Farmer’s Curb Market, 501 Yanceyville Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 373-2402 or gsofarmersmarket.org.

AUTHOR, AUTHOR. 7 p.m. Meet Thomas Perry, author of Beyond Mayberry: A Memoir of Andy Griffith and Mount Airy, North Carolina. Scuppernong Books, 304 South Elm Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 763-1919 or scuppernongbooks.com.

STENCIL TOWN. 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Stencil painting has been a staple of decorative arts for centuries. Try your hand at it for $1 at Historical Park. High Point Museum, East 1859 Lexington Avenue, High Point. Info: (336) 885-1859 or highpointmuseum.org.

SANTÉ! 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. Novant Health spon• sors a health wellness day, with screenings for adults

BROWN IN TOWN. 7:30 p.m. That would be Chris Brown, who along with Trey Songz brings his “Between the Sheets” tour to the Gate City. Greensboro Coliseum, 1921 West Lee Street, Greensboro. Tickets: (800) 745-3000 or ticketmaster.com or livenation.com.

and fun activities for kids. Greensboro Children’s Museum, 220 North Church Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 574-2898 or gcmuseum.com.

February 11–March 1

• ROCK OF AGES. 6 p.m. Let the spirit move you WRITE OF PASSAGE. Family secrets are exposed as faith-based Winter Jam rolls into town. Greensboro • when a writer returns home to Palm Springs with plans Coliseum, 1921 West Lee Street, Greensboro. Tickets: to publish a memoir in Other Desert Cities, a Triad Stage production. Hanesbrands Theatre, 209 North Spruce Street, Winston-Salem. Tickets: (336) 272-0160 or triadstage.org.

February 12

AUTHOR, AUTHOR. 7 p.m. Meet Elisabeth Russell, author of Other People’s Money. Scuppernong Books, 304 South Elm Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 763-1919 or scuppernongbooks.com.

February 12–19

WILKOMMEN, BIENVENUE, WELCOME. Life is a cabaret in Cabaret, UNCG Theatre’s production of the musical set in pre-World War II Berlin. Performance times vary. Taylor Theatre, 406 Tate Street, Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 272-0160 or performingarts.uncg.edu.

February 13

WARMUP BAND. 7:30 p.m. Board the night train and stay here a little while as Jason Aldean fires up audiences with his “Burn It Down” tour. Greensboro Coliseum, 1921 West Lee Street, Greensboro. Tickets: (800) 745-3000 or ticketmaster.com.

February 13–15

TENT REVIVAL. See the latest in RVs and outdoor gear at the 26th N.C. RV & Camping Show. Times vary. Special Events Center, Greensboro Coliseum, 1921 West Lee Street, Greensboro. Tickets: greensborocoliseum.com.

February 14

LE PETIT DÉJEUNER. 8 a.m. until Noon. Celebrate Valentine’s Day with a taste of la vie Parisienne à la Greensboro, as chefs Mary Lacklen and Key:

• • Art

Music/Concerts

Performing arts

(800) 745-3000 or ticketmaster.com.

DATE NIGHT. 6 until 9 p.m. Mom and Dad can enjoy some alone time, thanks to The Drama Center’s Parents’ Night Out. Just drop the kiddies for some board games, activities and snacks, while you paint the town red. 200 North Davie Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 373-2728, thedramacenter.com.

ONE, TWO, CHA-CHA-CHA! 7:30 p.m. Take your first ballroom dance steps at a free lesson, offered every second Saturday of the month. Lewis Recreation Center, 3110 Forest Lawn Drive, Greensboro. Info: Contact E. Leggio at (336) 643-6088. DANDY MANDY. 8 p.m. Hear country clas• sics, particularly Patsy Cline favorites, from country

sweetheart Mandy Barnett. Pre-show dinner optional. High Point Theatre, 220 East Commerce Avenue, High Point. Tickets: (336) 887-3001 or highpointtheatre.com.

STAIR MASTERS. 10 p.m. Relive the ’70s with power ballads and guitar solos from tribute band, Led Zeppelin 2. Cone Denim Entertainment Center, 117 South Elm Street Greensboro. Tickets: (800) 745-3000 or ticketmaster.com or livenation.com.

February 16

WHO’S THAT LADY? 10 a.m. Or rather, • those ladies? Historian Linda Evans leads a pro-

gram, “I Feel Like a Pioneer: Women in Greensboro History.” Greensboro Historical Museum, 130 Summit Avenue, Greensboro. Info: (336) 373-2043 or greensborohistory.org.

• • Film

Literature/Speakers

• • Fun

History

Sports

The Art & Soul of Greensboro


February Arts Calendar

February 17

7 pm. AUTHOR, AUTHOR. 7 p.m. Meet Carolyn Brown, author of Song of My Life: A Biography of Margaret Walker. Scuppernong Books, 304 South Elm Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 763-1919 or scuppernongbooks.com.

CENTER for CONTINUING EDUCATION

TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT. 7:30 p.m. The Guilford College Bryan Series presents former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich, who will discuss the importance of expanding the middle class in the current economy. Greensboro Coliseum, 1921 West Lee Street, Greensboro. Tickets: (800) 745-3000 or ticketmaster.com.

SHEL GAME. 9 p.m. Canadian alt band Silverstein (named for children’s author Shel Silverstein) cranks it up. Cone Denim Entertainment Center, 117 South Elm Street Greensboro. Tickets: (800) 745-3000 or ticketmaster.com or livenation.com.

February 18

AUTHOR, AUTHOR. 7 p.m. Meet poet Judith Behar, author of A Green Bough. • Scuppernong Books, 304 South Elm Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 763-1919 or scuppernongbooks.com.

February 19

ALPHA(BET) MALES. 8 p.m. If you’re not going out of your head, at least put it on your sweetheart’s shoulder while you swoon to the groovy sounds of The Lettermen. Carolina Theatre, 310 South Greene Street, Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 333-2605 or carolinatheatre.com.

February 19–23

MULTI-HUED. See the Bennett Players’ rendition of Ntozake Shange’s “choreopoem,” For colored girls who have considered suicide/ when the rainbow is enuf, consisting of poetic monologues, music and dance that depict the lives of seven black women. Performance times vary. Little Theatre, Bennett College, 900 East Washington Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 517-2301 or bennett.edu.

February 20

COME GET IT. 8 p.m. Get your groove on to the sounds of pop sensation Aaron Carter. Cone Denim Entertainment Center, 117 South Elm Street Greensboro. Tickets: (800) 745-3000 or ticketmaster.com or livenation.com.

POST-BACCALAUREATE ACCOUNTING PROGRAM MOVE FORWARD WITH GUILFORD The Post-Baccalaureate program in Accounting provides a coherent, individualized course of study for students who have a bachelor’s degree and wish to complete the coursework necessary to sit for the CPA Examination. To sit for the CPA exam in North Carolina you must have a bachelor’s degree (any major), and complete at least 30 semester hours of accounting, which may include three semester hours of business law.

February 20–21; 27–28

DIVERSE-ITY. Check out, We Are One, a compilation of poems by noted African-American authors, reflecting black history. Performance times vary. Caldcleugh Multicultural Arts Center, 1700 Orchard Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 373-5881 or greensboro-nc.gov.

Additional requirements for CPA licensure include completing at least 150 semester hours of college credit, passing an ethics exam or taking an eight hour course in ethics, and completing either one year of supervised experience under a CPA or four years of accounting experience.

February 21

Financial aid is available to qualified candidates.

February 20, 22, 23 BOOKIN’ IT. More than 45,000 books — most under $3 — on all manner of subjects, from crime to cooking to classics and more can be yours at the 13th Annual Used Book Sale. Beth David Synagogue Social Hall, 804 Winview Drive, Greensboro. Info: (336) 294-0007 or Mindy Kutchei at mkutchei@bdgso.org.

BOOK-A-THON 1–3 p.m. Join O.Henry magazine’s staff, including editor Jim Dodson, at the second annual O.Henry Book Fair at the O.Henry Hotel. Featuring book sales and signings by thirty local authors, the event is free. Info: (336) 544-9605 or ohenryhotel.com.

Key:

• • Art

Music/Concerts

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Performing arts

•• •• Film Fun

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION CONTACT

Bill Grubbs, Coordinator • bgrubbs@guilford.edu Guilford College Center for Continuing Education 5800 West Friendly Avenue • Greensboro, NC, 27410

Literature/Speakers History Sports

P / 336.316.2179 • guilford.edu

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Grab The Girls for a Get-Away

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The Art & Soul of Greensboro


February Arts Calendar •

STAR POWER 6 p.m. Up-and-coming author Wiley Cash, veteran Clyde Edgerton, memoirist Frances Mayes and N.C.’s chronicler of small towns Jill McCorkle will join Jim Dodson, O.Henry’s four-time New York Times Bestseller, for the Night of the Literary Stars, a sumptuous Southern dinner and an evening of storytelling followed by an after-party, all for $150, benefitting the Greensboro Ballet. Bed down in one of the hotel’s rooms and enjoy all the events, plus a cozy Sunday breakfast with the authors for $265 per person. Info: (336)544-9605 or ohenryhotel.com.

LAISSEZ LES BONS TEMPS ROULER. 6 p.m. Never mind that Fat Tuesday has come and gone, fire dancers, bands, eats and drinks will be plentiful for Mardi Gras of the Carolinas at Castle McCulloch. 3925 Kivett Drive, Jamestown. Tickets: castelmcculloch.com.

SHALL WE DANCE? 6:30 p.m. The Carolinas Chapter of Operation Smile celebrates the organization’s 25th anniversary with Carolina Dancing With the Stars, in which local celebs and professional dancers, twirl around the floor for a good cause: repairing cleft lips and cleft palates in children around the world. Empire Room, Elm Street Center, 203 Elm Street, Greensboro. Tickets: operationsmile.org/dancing.

RUDE BOYS. 8 p.m. Listen to some reggae fusion from Toronto-based Magic! Cone Denim Entertainment Center, 117 South Elm Street Greensboro. Tickets: (800) 745-3000 or ticketmaster. com or livenation.com.

February 21–May 24

CUTTING EDGES. Explore the connections between modern and contemporary works that use innovative materials to create images at Rock, Paper, Scissors, and String. Weatherspoon Art Museum, corner of Spring Garden and Tate Streets, Greensboro. Info: (336) 334-5770 or weatherspoon.uncg.edu.

February 22

HARMONIOUS. 5 p.m. Hear classical, country, hip hop and pop tunes from UNC’s oldest a cappella group, The Clef Hangers. Carolina Theatre, 310 South Greene Street, Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 333-2605 or carolinatheatre.com.

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NEESE’S PIECES. 8 p.m. Settle back with some jazz, courtesy of Al Neese Jazz Project, in the Crown. Carolina Theatre, 310 South Greene Street, Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 333-2605 or carolinatheatre.com.

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February 24

THE BEST MEDICINE. 6: 30 p.m. Standup com• ics Jeff Heffron and Bob Marley will tickle your funny-

bone, thanks to the Robert Rose Group at BB&T Scott & Stringfellow and HAECO Americas. One-hundredpercent of the proceeds — from tickets, a silent auction and more — will benefit the March of Dimes. Carolina Theatre, 310 South Greene Street, Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 333-2605 or carolinatheatre.com.

ABRACADABRA! 7:30 p.m. That ole black magic will cast you in its spell as Masters of Illusion — Live! does some conjuring. Cone Denim Entertainment Center, 117 South Elm Street Greensboro. Tickets: (800) 745-3000 or ticketmaster.com or livenation.com.

February 25

SHOOTOUT. 6:30 p.m. Hardcore rockers Stick to Your Guns ratchet up the decibel levels. Cone Denim Entertainment Center, 117 South Elm Street Greensboro. Tickets: (800) 745-3000 or ticketmaster. com or livenation.com.

February 26

HERBALICIOUS. 2 p.m. Learn how to gather, store and cook herbs, thanks to the Westridge Gardeners of the Greensboro Council of Garden Clubs, which hosts speaker Linda Mooth of the N.C. Unit of

the Herb Society of America. Council Headquarters next to Nature Science Center, 4301-A Lawndale Drive, Greensboro. Info: (336) 282-4940 or greensborogardenclubs.com.

GLOBE POTTER. 6­­until 9 p.m. Meet John Elsley, traveler, photographer and plant expert, who will lecture on “Inspiring Gardens of the World,” over drinks and hors d’oeuvres. Paul J. Ciener Botanical Garden, 215 South Main Street, Kernersville. Tickets: (336) 996-7888 or cienerbotanicalgarden.org.

AUTHOR, AUTHOR. 7 p.m. Meet poets John Hoppenthaler (Domestic Garden) and Al Maginnes (Music from Small Towns). Scuppernong Books, 304 South Elm Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 763-1919 or scuppernongbooks.com.

February Arts Calendar Greensboro Symphony Orchestra and Bel Canto Company continue a Breaking Bad–themed concert series with “Divine Chemistry,” featuring Haydn’s oratorio, The Creation. 2/26: Aycock Auditorium, 408 Tate Street, Greensboro. 2/28: Dana Auditorium, Guilford College 5800 West Friendly Avenue, Greensboro. Tickets: (800)745-3000 or greensborosymphony.org.

February 27–March 1

MAKING WAVES. “There is nothing half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.” Check out the rigs, skiffs, kayaks, wakeboards among others, as well as rods, reels and other stuff at the Central Carolina Boat & Fishing Expo. Times vary. Special Events Center, Greensboro Coliseum, 1921 West Lee Street, Greensboro. Tickets: greensborocoliseum.com.

February 28

GLOBAL TUNES. 8 p.m. Hear some reggae music, along with a hodge-podge of Latin-African and Native-American-infused sound from The Wailers with Rusted Root. Carolina Theatre, 310 South Greene Street, Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 333-2605 or carolinatheatre.com.

CUT A RUG. 7:30 p.m. Start with a complimentary lesson and then take to the dance floor with live music, courtesy of Piedmont Swing Dance Society. Greensboro Shrine Club, 5010 High Point Road, Greensboro. Info: (336) 508-9998 or piedmontswingdance.org.

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artists, er, spring into action at the Atlantic Coast Tumbling and Trampoline Invitational. Times vary. Pavilion, Greensboro Coliseum, 1921 West Lee Street, Greensboro. Tickets: greensborocoliseum.com.

February 29–June 14

POINT AND SHOOT. It’s quite literally a photo finish at Observed/Examined/Fabricated: Recent Acquisitions in Photography. Weatherspoon Art Museum, corner of Spring Garden and Tate Streets, Greensboro. Info: (336) 334-5770 or weatherspoon. uncg.edu.

WEEKLY HAPPENINGS Mondays

BUZZING. 10 a.m. Your busy little bees engage in a Busy Bees preschool program focusing on music, movement, garden exploration and fun in the kitchen, at the Greensboro Children’s Museum, 220 North Church Street, Greensboro. Preregistration: (336) 5742898 or gcmuseum.com.

TALK IS CHEAP. Noon. Apprenez l’art de la conversation française. Pardon our French and join the French Table, a conversation group. Scuppernong Books, 304 South Elm Street,

Greensboro. Info: (336) 763-1919 or scuppernongbooks.com.

Tuesdays

READ ALL ABOUT IT. Treat your little ones to storytimes: BookWorms (ages 12–24 months) meets at 10 a.m.; Time for Twos meets at 11 a.m. Storyroom, High Point Public Library, 901 North Main Street, High Point. Info: (336) 883-3666 or highpointlibrary. com.

CHEFS’ D’OEUVRES. 10–11 a.m. Let your kiddies prepare dishes — pizza, dim sum and challah bread — featured in their favorite storybooks. (Ages 3–5). Program starts 1/13. Greensboro Children’s Museum, 220 North Church Street, Greensboro. To register: (336) 574-2898, ext. 317 or gcmuseum.com.

STORY CORPS. 11 a.m. Book a slot in your sked for Children’s Storytime. Scuppernong Books, 304 South Elm Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 763-1919 or scuppernongbooks.com.

CHICKEN’N’PICKIN’ 6:30 – 9:30 p.m. Y’all come for Skillet Fried Chicken & Songs from a Southern Kitchen. Tuck into Chef Felicia McMillan’s signature fried chicken and gravy, select beverage

February Arts Calendar specials, including buttermilk with cornbread crumbled in it, and live music by Laurelyn Dossett and Scott Manring on 2/3; Martha Bassett and friends on 2/10; Molly McGinn and Wurlitzer Prize on 2/17; and Laurelyn Dossett again on 2/24 — at Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen, 1421 Westover Terrace, Greensboro. Info: (336) 370-0707 or lucky32.com/fried_chicken. htm.

Wednesdays

CREATIVE CAFÉ. 1–3 p.m. Make art or simply visit over a cuppa Joe at CoffeeTime. Greenhill, 200 North Davie Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 333-7460 or greenhillnc.org.

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 Evan Olson and Jessica Mashburn — at Print Works Bistro, 702 Green Valley Road, Greensboro. Info: (336) 379-0699 or printworksbistro.com/live_music.htm.

ONCE UPON A TIME I. 2 p.m. Preschool Storytime I convenes for children ages 3­–5. Storyroom, High Point Public Library, 901 North Main Street, High Point. Info: (336) 883-3666 or highpointlibrary. com.

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The Art & Soul of Greensboro

February 2015

O.Henry 79


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The Art & Soul of Greensboro


February Arts Calendar Thursdays

• ONCE UPON A TIME PART DEUX. 11 a.m. Preschool Storytime II convenes for children ages 3­–5.

Storyroom, High Point Public Library, 901 North Main Street, High Point. Info: (336) 883-3666 or highpointlibrary.com.

• ALL THAT JAZZ. 5:30 until 8 p.m. Hear Live, local jazz featuring Neill Clegg and David Fox in the

O.Henry Hotel Social Lobby Bar with vocalists Martha Bassett 2/5; Nishah DiMeo, 2/12; Joey Barnes, 2/19; and Jessica Mashburn, 2/26. 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 Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 275-2754

STRUNG UP. 7:30–10:30 p.m. Join the Piedmont Old Time Society for some pickin’ and grinnin’. Gibbs Hundred Brewing Company, 117 West Lewis Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 763-7087 or gibbshundred. com.

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

Fridays

THE HALF OF IT. 5 p.m. Enjoy the hands-on exhibits and activities for half the cost of admission at $4 Fun Fridays, starting 2/13. Greensboro Children’s Museum, 220 North Church Street, 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.

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

Sundays

HALF FOR HALF-PINTS. 1 p.m. And grown-ups, too. A $4 admission, as opposed to the usual $8, will allow you entry to exhibits and more. Greensboro Children’s Museum, 220 North Church Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 574-2898 or gcmuseum.com. OH

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

Saturdays

TO MARKET, TO MARKET. 7 a.m.–Noon. Get fresh with locally grown produce (creasy greens?), cakes (hummingbird?), pickles (watermelon rind?) and fleurs to plant (pansies?). Greensboro Farmers Curb Market, 501 Yanceyville Street, Greensboro. Info: gsofarmersmarket.org.

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The Art & Soul of Greensboro

February 2015

O.Henry 81


Seen and Herd

Go west, young and old men and women! West to Winston-Salem, where Reynolda House Museum of American Art hosts the final leg of George Catlin’s Buffalo beginning February 13. The exhibit, organized by the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, offers a rare glimpse of the American West before the end of the 19th century. The forty vivid and detailed images are the handiwork of George Catlin, a self-taught artist from Pennsylvania who traveled to the Western Territories on five occasions between 1830 and 1838, just as the Indian Removal Act was passed. “He was a proto-ethnologist,” says Elizabeth Chew, Betsy Main Babcock director of Reynolda’s curatorial and educational division. “He was sincerely interested in culture of Plains Indians tribes — their costumes, their dress and in educating East Coast Americans, but also Europeans, about Native American tribes, which he believed were basically doomed to go away.” Crucial to the tribes’ way of life was the buffalo, which Catlin portrays in a variety of contexts: as mere specks in a vast and colorful landscape; as majestic creatures dominating entire canvases; as objects of hunts or ceremonial dances. In the portrait Black Rock, A Two Kettle Chief, the animal becomes a status symbol. The tribal elder Black Rock

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poses in a buffalo robe, adorned with pictographs of his exploits in battle. He wears an eagle headdress, which, like his moccasins, are adorned with quillwork — porcupine quills dyed and woven into the fabric of his costume. A favorite of Chew’s, the image is “such a proud depiction of a tribal leader, and it shows how incredibly integrated Plains People were with their natural surroundings. Everything they had came from the world around them,” she observes. Visitors to Reynolda House can fully appreciate that world at a halfday symposium on March 7th with lectures from scholars on Catlin and the Plains tribes, and at the museum’s Community Day on April 25th, in which its partner, the Guilford Native American Association, will present a tribal powwow, featuring dances, music, singing and crafts. Another partner, Wake Forest’s Museum of Anthropology, will have a small exhibit of artifacts from native Plains cultures, as well. These programs along with Catlin’s paintings counter the artist’s contention that native societies would become entirely extinct. As Chew explains, “One of the messages that contemporary Indians want people around here to know is ‘Hello, we’re still here. And our cultures are still here.’” A blessing for us all. OH George Catlin’s Buffalo, programs and opening weekend ticket packages, visit reynoldahouse.org. — Nancy Oakley

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February 2015

Visit

online @ www.ohenrymag.com The Art & Soul of Greensboro

George Catlin, Ee-áh-sá-pa, Black Rock, a Two Kettle Chief, 1832 & Buffalo Bull, Grazing on the Prairie, 1832-1833 oil on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. Joseph Harrison, Jr.

Worth the Drive to Winston-Salem


Worth the Drive to High Point

Stitches in Time

Yasmin Leonard Photography

Artist Gwendolyn Magee, “Over a Way That With Tears Has Been Watered;” “Blood of the Slaughtered I;” “Full of Hope.” Photo credits: Dave Dawson.

As a parent on the cusp of being an empty nester, Gwendolyn Magee wanted to give her college-bound daughters a reminder of home and their mother’s love. What better memento, one that would give comfort and warmth, than a quilt? Magee made her first creation in 1989. Little did she know then that it was the first step toward becoming a renowned artist whose works would be hailed twenty-five years later in her hometown of High Point. Though just six of the vibrant artworks comprise High Point Museum’s exhibit Pieces of the Past: The Art of Gwendolyn Magee, they pack a big punch. “It’s a very powerful exhibit,” says Teresa Loflin, the museum’s community relations director. “People are going to come in here, and they’re going to think, ‘Why?’” That’s because the quilts address tough subjects in the African-American experience: a slave ship crossing treacherous waters; lynchings; Hurricane Katrina. They also address black citizens’ hopes and desires, as a panel depicting two graduates in robes and mortarboards suggests. “Engaging the viewer as much as the

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quilts’ subject matter is their beauty,” says Loflin, “Wrought in bold colors with intricate needlework, they are a great way to start hard conversations.” The exhibit, which winds up this month on the 21st, was curated by students at UNCG, Magee’s alma mater (when it was still Woman’s College) and home to a broader selection of her works that were on view at Weatherspoon last fall. Segments from a documentary about the artist, who died just months after its filming in 2011, are also on view. Unlike the Weatherspoon exhibit, the High Point Museum specifically chose quilts with historical themes. After all, its mission, as Loflin points out, is to address the community’s past. Preserving the past is also part of its focus and the reason for the museum’s second annual fundraiser, the Valentine Tea, held on February 7th. There will be a few varieties of teas to choose from, scones and other good eats, a silent auction, entertainment and a caricaturist who will draw your likeness for an additional cost. It’s all for the worthiest of causes: preserving the artifacts in the museum. “Things have to be temperature-controlled, and climate-controlled,” Loflin explains. “Housing photographs is different from textiles, which is different from furniture,” she adds. “But we want them to last, not only in our time, but 50 and 100 years into the future.” OH Info: highpointmusuem.org — Nancy Oakley Project1:Layout 1 1/14/15 8:59 PM Page 1

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February 2015

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The UNCG School of Music, Theatre & Dance Presents the Tony Award winning musical

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O.Henry 85


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By Sandra Redding

Literary Events

February 14 (Saturday, 1 p.m.). Heart of Carolina Romance Writers Meeting (Mecklenburg County chapter of Romance Writers of America), Bond Park Community Center, Concord. On Valentine’s Day, scribes of love will meet the most important man in their lives — AN AGENT. Membership info: carolinaromancewriters.com February 21 (Saturday). O.Henry magazine celebrates writers at the O.Henry Hotel, Greensboro. Book Fair, 1–3 p.m., with local authors selling and signing books published in 2014. Night of the Literary Stars dinner gala, 6:30 p.m., with O.Henry editor Jim Dodson emceeing Wiley Cash, Clyde Edgerton, Frances Mayes and Jill McCorkle. Info: www.ohenrymag.com March 26–29. 2015 Palustris Festival, Southern Pines, Pinehurst and Aberdeen. Sponsored by the Arts Council of Moore County and the Wells Fargo Foundation, Palustris (the Latin name for longleaf pine) is the annual celebration of visual, literary and performing arts. While in the area stop by The Country Bookshop. Info: Palustrisfestival.com July 5–9. Writers Workshop, Wildacres Retreat, Little Switzerland. This nationally renowned workshop, organized by Judi Hill of Greensboro, combines an awe-inspiring setting with unique learning experiences for prose and poetry writers. Fills quickly; reserve a spot early. Info: wildacreswriters.com

Contest Winners and Publications

John Thomas York, Greensboro poet and teacher, received the 2014 Linda Flowers Literary Award for his essay, Oh, Beautiful Bug. Presented by the North Carolina Humanities Council, the honor includes a cash prize plus stipend for residency at Weymouth Center for the Arts and Humanities in Southern Pines.

A bouquet of roses to Grace Ocasio, performing artist and poet of Charlotte, who recently received a N.C. Arts Council Regional Artist Grant and published her first poetry collection, The Speed of our Lives. Prefer Romance or Mystery? In her latest novel, Breaking Out, Mary Flinn of Summerfield combines both genres. In True South: Leadership Lessons from Polar Extremes, J. Phillips L. Johnston of High Point supports his formula for success with historical examples of survival. Edited by Marianne Gingher of Greensboro, Amazing Place: What North Carolina Means to Writers contains twentytwo engaging essays by authors from the mountains to the sea. Read this one and you’ll understand why word scribes love calling North Carolina home.

Writing Lesson

Nicholas Sparks of New Bern tops the nation’s list of popular romance writers. Beginning with The Notebook, published in 1996, he has penned eighteen novels, all best-sellers. His worldwide sales exceed 97 million copies. Twelve of his novels have been adapted to successful films. Despite such phenomenal success, some reviewers still label his books purple prose. Fans, mostly women, disagree. They delight in reading about ordinary people making extraordinary sacrifices for those they love. They enjoy, too, the vivid sense of place he creates. Most of his books take place along the tranquil coastline of North Carolina. Writing about what he knows, Sparks lives in New Bern and is currently producing a film in Wilmington. A writer who gives back, he has donated millions to charity and offers tips to aspiring writers on his website, nicholassparks.com. Want to visit Sparks’ world? Guided walking, bicycle and trolley tours are available in New Bern. Plus, Sparks fans living in Guilford, Randolph and Alamance counties will be able to hop aboard a Holiday Tours bus for a trip that will explore the author’s haunts in New Bern, Rose Hill and Screen Gems Studio in Wilmington. During the ride, films based on the author’s books will be shown. Info: nicholassparks.com. OH Happy Hearts & Flowers Day! Do keep me posted on writerly happenings. sanredd@earthlink.net Greensboro writer Sandra Redding’s novel, Naomi Wise: A Cautionary Tale, is a riveting story about heartbreak and hope in a Quaker Community.

Managing Townhome, Condominium & Single Family Homeowner Associations Throughout the Triad area. The Art & Soul of Greensboro

www.slatterinc.com February 2015

O.Henry 87


Area Schools

IT’S A GREAT DAY EVERY DAY at GREENSBORO DAY SCHOOL! As Greensboro’s oldest college preparatory independent PK-12 school, Greensboro Day School provides individualized instruction, challenging academics, a broad arts program, and athletics, all on a 65-acre campus. The best way to learn about Greensboro Day is to see it for yourself. Visit the campus, meet our faculty, and see why every day is a great day at Greensboro Day School.

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Learn more abou t GDS through a small group information sessio n led by current faculty and studen Middle and Upp ts. er School (Risin g Grades 5 – 11 ) Thursday, Febru ary 19 Thursday, March 19 Early Childhood Program and Lo wer School (Rising Pre-Kind ergarten – Grad e 4) Thursday, Febru ary 5 Thursday, March 12

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February 2015

The Art & Soul of Greensboro


GreenScene

Gracen Cox, Madison Land, Olivia Peterson, Karenna Porter, Logan Lester

Tea with Clara Greensboro Ballet’s The Nutcracker Sunday, December 7, 2014 Photographs by Lynn Donovan

Abbey Butcher, Clara Watkins

Miller & Emme Norman, Olivia Carratello, Sarah Kline

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The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Phoebe Meadows, Ashlyn & Melody Doch

February 2015

O.Henry 89


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The Art & Soul of Greensboro

February 2015

O.Henry 91


GreenScene Greensboro Opera presents The Daughter of Regiment Meet the Artist Reception Friday, January 9, 2015 Photographs by Lynn Donovan

Gay Bowman, MaryKay McGinley, Robin Kemsburg

Donald Hartmann, Ashley Emerson, RenĂŠ Barbera, David Holley, Scott MacLeod, Susan Nicely, Linda Carlise

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February 2015

The Art & Soul of Greensboro


Extraordinary Grounds & Gardens Carlson Farms

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February 2015

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THE MUSIC ACADEMY OF NORTH CAROLINA PRESENTS

L I V E IN C O N C E R T

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February 2015

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The Accidental Astrologer

Love is in the House February’s stars

By Astrid Stellanova

Love, Star Children, is what February is all about, and love just happens to be Astrid’s favorite topic. Let’s talk about love, make love and think love. A little naked guy named Cupid has my full attention. I concentrated on love connections and nothing else, and here’s what the stars say: Be grateful. Take nothing for granted. Love may be just that simple.

Aquarius (January 20–February 18) I’ve gotta hand it to Aquarius. Despite all evidence to the contrary, you believe in love and keep committing to it. (I keep telling you: Jennifer Aniston, Oprah and Ellen DeGeneres are famous Aquarians.) Do I advise you to look before leaping? I surely do, but even if I did, you wouldn’t listen. And you leap so gracefully, Sugar. The arms of some stranger are always open to you because you are so attractive and ready to love. Keep leaping; keep loving — that is just how you are made. Protect that heart just a wee little bit and hold something back — because you give more than you probably have ever taken. Pisces (February 19–March 20) Grandpa claims that time wounds all heels. He was looking straight at Beau when he said it, too. Beau ignored him and flashed his pearly whites. Melted me, naturally. Beau has a lot of Piscean traits — think Justin Bieber, another Pisces. Pisces can charm the birds from the trees and worry later about how to take care of them or where to buy bird seed. You inflict more wounds than you receive so quit your bitching. Somebody in your life is needing some love; unconditional, true love. Give it up, Buttercup. Aries (March 21–April 19) If you could stop trolling the Internet, you might just find the love of your life is standing right in front of you at the 7-Eleven drinking a giant Slurpee. Or, you might fall back in love again with that freckle-faced thing you dated in high school that keeps showing up wherever you go. Life is like this, my hard-headed Ram, and you sometimes don’t see what is just because you are so dazzled by other possibilities. Pay attention, Honey, and discover the sweetness right there in your own cup. Taurus (April 20–May 20) If a simple flat tire didn’t flap you so much, you might recognize Mother Nature threw a wrench in the works just to stop you from blasting right past something important. Go back — what did you miss the first time around, Child? The stars point to the fact that this is a month that is going to demand you pay attention. You have been in high gear since the New Year, and yet notice you wind up in the same place you started. Somebody is trying very hard to make contact with you, and you are going to have to stop to notice. You are one lucky bull — and the world is really your pasture. Gemini (May 21–June 20) The life lesson facing you has more to do with opening yourself up to love than to finding the right person to love. You are naturally magnetic, with all the pull of twins — usually feeling you are pulled in equally opposite directions. (Think evil twin, good twin, and that’s what you’re up against.) The bigger challenge for you remains trust. Let it go, Baby. You ain’t frozen, are you? You are wasting a lot of time convincing yourself you have been wronged, when in fact, you have been luckier than the average. A very interesting (read that happy) coincidence of the heart is about to hit you right slap in the head — or somewhere lower. Cancer (June 21–July 22) Steal for the third base and run like hell. You have got some formidable opponents behind you, but you are faster and craftier. The last time I saw a chart like yours I would have sworn it would be the perfect time to buy a lottery ticket. But then, I been buying ’em for about twenty years and I guess you already know I ain’t rich, unless you count being rich in love. You have got one piece of unfinished business trailing you. Say I’m sorry like you mean it, Honey. All will turn out just fine in the love department. The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Leo (July 23–August 22) Yes, you deserved better, and no, you didn’t get it last month. But here’s a second chance. The stars are right for you to finally resolve a festering problem with a family member. This is a boil that needs to be opened, Honey. Be the bigger person. Also, forgive your mother. She did the best she could. If you get this family stuff sorted out, you can get your love house in order. Surprise someone with a little sweet treat. Make it chocolate if you want some action — and let’s be honest. Who doesn’t? Virgo (August 23–September 22) Somebody close to you is so persuasive that he could talk you into a spa week in Windblow. Seriously, Honey, you need some objective distance from this snake charmer. But what you don’t need is distance from someone who has carried a torch for you since grade school. They are a lot better looking than they used to be, and twice as nice. Just don’t revisit your school album — their nose finally fits their face. And you two fit right into the same cozy frame. Libra (September 23–October 22) This is a year that you might as well treat like the gift that it is. Mysteries are resolved, enemies vanquished and property you lost will be restored. What’s the price of all this good luck? Gratitude, Honey Bun. If you keep thanking the Universe, you will keep reaping the good karma coming to you. What else do you need to know? You are very, very lucky in love and get as much as you give. Yum! Scorpio (October 23–November 21) You love romance, and think this world is one big old Turner Movie Classic. It ain’t, Darling. But there is plenty of opportunity for you to be the giver this month. You tend to be passive and wait for it to get heaped onto your plate; return the favor or make the first move. Somebody you know is starved for a little affirmation and sweet honey. Get ready for your close up, cause you will win more invitations and dinner dates than you can handle this month. Sagittarius (November 22–December 21) There are two unusually good-fortune days coming this month. One just happens to be Valentine’s Day. Make some special plans, and show someone who cares you feel the same way. By special plans, I ain’t meaning Joe’s Diner or the drive-in either. Your long-time love has never forgotten how special you made them feel. You may not feel you deserve all the affection you get, but, Honey, you sure do get. Capricorn (December 22–January 19) It’s a good time for you to make a list of all the things you want to change about yourself, not about your neighbor. Take stock of your own self, Honey, and stop being so critical. If you do that, some very interesting love developments are lining up and you won’t blow the chance you are about to get. Be especially aware of your surroundings on the 19th. And do something sweet for a total stranger — good karma is worth banking. 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.

February 2015

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O.Henry Ending

Litany for Janice

By Bobbie Black

My sister-in-law, Janice, died un-

expectedly in her little apartment in a coastal town. She was 74, widowed with no children. I had called her two days before, so the news of her death felt untrue. Her brother, my husband, is next of kin and the task of clearing out her home fell to him — and me. We were on good terms with Janice, talking on the phone some and each of us making occasional overnight visits. She was an easy house guest who could entertain herself. She liked cards, games and gadgets. Our relationship wasn’t extremely close, but it was mutually caring. She admired my grand kids, so that was a bonus in my book. The strange thing is how much I’ve come to appreciate her now. I don’t feel guilty about this; I feel thankful. In making her final arrangements and dealing with her possessions, I came to know her better. I see or use something of hers daily — a toaster oven, a tote, an umbrella. I would rather have Janice than her things, but I often find myself looking up and whispering, “Thank you, Janice.” I have three of her watches, not pricey but unique. Watches were her only collectible. I have her wind chimes that at times sound like a wedding is about to begin. My husband has her tools. A teenage nephew has the cleanest, nicest used Honda on the planet. Thank you, Janice. Janice was a folk artist whose second bedroom looked like a craft store, so now I have an assortment of paints, pencils and papers. Our young granddaughter shook with excitement when she got the mermaid figurine and

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February 2015

glass unicorn. Our little grandsons love the old fashioned green-handled egg beater. The Earth Mother in the family has the biscuit cutter and chicken pictures. Thank you, Janice. Janice left a will and had written her own obituary. Oh, Janice. Thank you. In passing on her possessions and planning memorial services in Greensboro and at the coast, we met salt-of-the-earth souls, including clergy, and one church that pays power bills when someone comes up short, and another that provides free instruments and music lessons for underprivileged kids. We spent a sunny winter afternoon driving along the Crystal Coast to find a location where the waves could take her ashes out to sea. A few places along this stretch of beach face west, so Janice rode out in an ocean sunset. Lovely. Thank you, Janice. Before this gets sappy, let me tell you about some surprises and a mystery. Janice left behind a generous legacy of giving, especially to veteran and wildlife causes. She also left behind two large bottles of vodka (not a total surprise) and one, only one, vintage issue of Playboy — Christmas 1966. My husband says he went through the magazine carefully (you bet he did) to see why she kept this one issue. He says he looked at all the pictures (of course) and skimmed the articles (well, maybe) but didn’t have the slightest idea why his sister kept this one magazine. And, yes, I also went through it looking for “why.” (I found this magazine less offensive than a burger ad I saw on TV recently.) Now several months after her death from what her doctor described as a “cardiac event” (she died sitting on her new sofa, with the TV and lights on with an almost-finished crossword puzzle in her lap), we are closing the estate. We passed the magazine on to an appreciative literary acquaintance, but the mystery remains. We will have a lot to talk to Janice about in the hereafter. I look forward to it, and after I sincerely say to her, “Thank you, Janice,” I’m going to ask about the magazine. OH Bobbie Black lives in Guilford County where she remains thankful. The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Illustration by Harry Blair

The Earth and its possessions belong to us — until someone passes them along


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O.Henry February 2015  

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

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The Art & Soul of Greensboro

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