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Anyone can look on a map to find parks. Not everyone can tell you where the hidden trails are. Great neighbors are always willing to open their doors to you and we have a lot of doors we can open. Of course, we’re also experts on what’s outside of those doors. Our sales associates know the best boutiques, the best restaurants for date night, and where the farmers’ markets are located. Because when you move in Greensboro, you’re not just buying a home, you’re buying a neighborhood. We can help you with both.

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February 2016 Features 53 Sheller

Poetry by Terri Kirby Erickson

54 The Magical Man of the Cloth

By Nancy Oakley The brilliant costume sketches of designer Bill Brewer

60 Made in Greensboro

By Billy Ingram Surprising people and things born in the Gate City

70 Mod Man

By Maria Johnson One man’s vision of perfect mid-century Modern

75 Almanac

By Rosetta Fawley Crape myrtle and monkey puzzle trees

Departments 9 Simple Life By Jim Dodson 12 Short Stories 15 Doodad By Ogi Overman 17 O.Harry By Harry Blair 19 Life’s Funny By Maria Johnson 21 Omnivorous Reader By Gwenyfar Rohler 25 Bookshelf 35 Life in the Neighborhood By Billy Ingram 41 Food for Thought By Jim Dodson

45 In the Spirit By Tony Cross 49

Birdwatch

By Susan Campbell

51 Breathing Lessons By Ashley Wahl

78 Arts & Entertainment Calendar 91 Worth the Drive to High Point By Nancy Oakley

95 GreenScene 103 Accidental Astrologer By Astrid Stellanova

104 O.Henry Ending By Cynthia Adams

Cover Illustration by Bill Brewer

4 O.Henry

February 2016

The Art & Soul of Greensboro


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Contributing Editors Cynthia Adams, Harry Blair, Maria Johnson Contributing Photographers Lynn Donovan, Amy Freeman, John Gessner Contributors Susan Campbell, Tony Cross, Terri Kirby Erickson, Rosetta Fawley, Billy Ingram, Sara King, Ogi Overman, Kevin Reid, Gwenyfar Rohler, Astrid Stellanova, Ashley Wahl David Claude Bailey, Editor at Large

O.H David Woronoff, Publisher Advertising Sales Marty Hefner, Sales Director 336.707.6893, marty@thepilot.com Hattie Aderholdt, 336.601.1188 • hattie@thepilot.com Lisa Allen, 336.210.6921 • lisa@thepilot.com Amy Grove, 336.456.0827 • amy@thepilot.com

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6 O.Henry

February 2016

The Art & Soul of Greensboro


Simple Life

The Heart’s Memory

By Jim Dodson

As a surprise New Year’s gift — or an

early February birthday gift — my wife Wendy gave us both Fitbit activity trackers.

These are nifty digital fitness bracelets that calculate everything from your heart beat to nightly sleep patterns. Linked to your smart phone, they can also measure your daily number of steps and average caloric intake; calculate your proper age and weight targets; balance your checkbook and determine your likely Oscar picks. For all I know, they may even be able to explain Donald Trump’s continued popularity in the polls and maybe why anyone really needs to keep up with the Kardashians. They reveal, in short, lots of information about your human biology and general state of health in hard numbers, revealing who you are, moment to moment, in this physical world. I like my new Fitbit. With the diet and exercise routines my bride has carefully plotted out for us both in 2016, our hearts ought to be in pretty good shape by summer. This month, I suddenly find myself at the age of my father when he and I began to have deep and thoughtful conversations about life, faith and the complex affairs of the world. Not everybody is fortunate to have the kind of extraordinary father I had, though in truth it took me almost three full decades to appreciate his grace and elegant wisdom. Owing to his unsinkable optimism and love of quoting longdead sages and poets when you least expected it, I gave him the nickname “Opti the Mystic.” By the time I began to realize what a true gift he was to us, Opti was a youthful 62 and I was an anxious overworked 29. He was the Southern contractor for the largest industrial advertising firm in the world, beloved by his half-dozen employees, an adman with a poet’s heart; I was the senior writer for the largest magazine in the South, the Atlanta Journal Constitution Sunday Magazine, trying to earn my way to the Boston Globe or the Washington Post and not look back. We shared a love of books, especially history, poetry and philosophy. That winter of 1983 he was reading MacKinlay Kantor and Joaquin Miller, the colorful frontier poet of the Sierras; I was reading Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail and Robert Frost, wondering what it might be like to live in real snow country. Opti was moderating the Men’s Sunday morning class at First Lutheran Church in Greensboro and helping organize an ecumenical feeding program

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

called Urban Ministry. When I wasn’t writing about sensational murders in Atlanta — designated as the nation’s “Murder Capital” that year — I was chasing after New South conmen and empire builders, drug lords and repo kings, unrepentant Alabama grand dragons and presidential candidates. Suddenly, though, I’d lived long enough and written about enough disturbing things to realize that I was actually more interested in what my funny old father Opti the Mystic had to say about the state of the world than my aspirations in it. “The world is always coming apart at the seams. Be sure you don’t do the same,” he once calmly counseled me over the phone on a sleety afternoon in March of 1981. I was standing in a mob scene of frightened commuters at LaGuardia Airport, returning from an interview at the Yale Club with a remarkable man named Morris Abram, a small-town boy from Georgia who grew up to become a leading civil rights lawyer who argued the constitutional guarantee of one-man, one vote before the Supreme Court and went on to serve as the first president of Brandeis University and work for five presidents in the realm of human rights. The day I met him, Abram was suffering from acute myelocytic leukemia, which had prompted him to begin working on his memoirs. The doctors weren’t terribly hopeful, he explained with an almost stoic shrug, the winter light falling on his handsome face from a nearby window. Snow was in the forecast for the city that day. “So what keeps you going?” I asked. Abram smiled. “Life. Family. Lots of interesting friends. Also work I believe in, good jokes, a sense of humor and a keen curiosity about what I may find on the other side.” We talked about the Other Side. He meant “life after death.” He wasn’t sure what awaited him — awaits all of us — but he was curious to finally find out what, eager to discover what has obsessed sages, poets and philosophers across the ages. We talked for almost three hours in a beautiful room with tall windows overlooking a garden and he was kind enough to send me off to catch my flight home to Atlanta with a finished chapter about his Georgia youth under my wing, explaining that he planned to call his book The Day is Short, from a quote in the Torah that goes: “The day is short, the work is great.” Morris Abram reminded me of my own funny, philosophical father. That’s what I was thinking, at any rate, when I stepped out of the cab into the sudden sleet and mayhem waiting at LaGuardia Airport. Ronald Reagan, it emerged, had been shot that afternoon, 61 days into his presidency, and the airport was locked down, all flights grounded. Queues were huge. People were frantically milling about. Stepping into a crowded bar where every face was aimed at the TV screen over the bar, I heard a couple of scotchsippers murmur something about a coup. So I called my dad to say hello and just February 2016

O.Henry 9


Simple Life

hear another calming voice. He assured me Reagan would be OK and so would America — suggested I go grab another cab back into the city, find a nice warm hotel room, have a nice dinner and maybe take in a play. I took his advice and did just that. I found a room at the University Club and called a friend named Larry Ashmead on the spur of the moment to see if he might be free for supper. Ashmead was the executive editor at Harper & Row, a gracious, witty legend who gave dozens of best-selling authors their start. Susan Isaacs and Tony Hillerman are two of the literary giants Larry launched. He was famous for spotting literary talent and for taking photos with the Instamatic camera he carried everywhere. He took me to a crowded restaurant in Midtown where, he said, we were sure to see someone famous. Sure enough, right over Larry’s left shoulder sat Carly Simon, dining with some guy who looked like Al Pacino in Scarface. We also saw, as I recall, a young Donald Trump, all hair even then. Larry asked the waiter to take our picture. Somewhere I have the photo of us smiling like truant schoolboys. That’s Carly Simon’s fluffy head behind us. Larry offered me a small contract to write a novel about the South. The next day, he even arranged for me to meet a top agent. Her name was Virginia Barber. She took me on based entirely on Larry’s recommendation and became my agent until she retired and moved home to Virginia a decade ago, passing me off to her gifted protégé, a young Duke -educated fellow named Jay Mandel, my agent at William Morris Entertainment to this day. The book I wrote for Larry was called Union Grove, a novel about a struggling farm family in deep South Georgia. In was a disaster. I rewrote it twice but it never worked and Larry was kind enough to let me out of my contract. It gave me pleasure to burn the manuscript at our annual New Year’s Eve bonfire on our snowy hill in Maine many years later. “You’ll write the novel you should have written someday,” he told me. “Just

hope I’m still around to publish it.” A short time after this, Larry introduced me to Jud Hale, the beloved editor of Yankee Magazine, and I moved to a small solar cabin on the Green River in Vermont to become the first Senior Writer in that magazine’s illustrious 80-year history. It’s funny how this life works, connecting one soul to another. Had I not gone to New York to see Morris Abram and gotten stuck at the airport, I probably wouldn’t have phoned my dad to see if the world was going to end and been urged by him to spend another night in the city, whereupon I wouldn’t have been taken to dinner by a lovely literary giant and seen Carly Simon and her new boyfriend (and maybe young Donnie Trump) and eventually wound up finding my spiritual equilibrium and true calling on a beautiful river in Vermont, about to meet the beautiful woman who would become the mother of my children. In Vermont, I got myself a yellow dog and a second-hand fly rod and resumed playing golf again after almost eight years of too much work and not enough play. My heartbeat slowed and my life seemed to find its proper direction. Gratitude, Opti used to say, is the heart’s memory. It’s an old French saying, one of his favorites. Opti the Mystic passed away in March of 1995; I was by his side in Greensboro at the time. He was 80 years old. Morris Abram lived far longer than his doctor expected and published his beautiful memoir in 1982. He passed away in March of 2000 at age 81. I hope he found what he was looking for on the Other Side. Larry Ashmead passed away in September that same year; he was 78. I’m sure he took his famous Instamatic with him. And now, I’m the same age as Opti when all of these things began to happen. I don’t need a Fitbit to tell me what a lucky fellow I’ve been. OH Contact editor Jim Dodson at jim@ohenrymag.com.

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10 O.Henry

February 2016

The Art & Soul of Greensboro


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Short Stories S ori s

Rotsa Ruv

Cupid is aiming his quiver of arrows toward the Gate City, thanks to City 616’s “Love Is in the Air” Valentine’s dinner at PB & Java on South Elm Street (February 13 at 6 p.m.). Yes, all the ingredients are there: beer, wine, a romantic meal, jazz, dancing, a silent auction and a live auction — not to mention some humorous sketches about the quandaries of love. But it’s all for a larger purpose: to raise money for the nonprofit’s dream of having a 150-seat theater for concerts, performances dinners and all manner of events that will bring Greensboro residents closer together. Tickets: www.city616.org.

Perchance to Dream

Winter? Beautiful? Well yes, when extoled in Tchaikovsky’s orchestral works and in landscape paintings. At 8 p.m. on February 25 and 27, the Greensboro Symphony presents “Winter Dreams,” beginning with the Russian composer’s Symphony No. 1 (also titled Winter Dreams), for which he had a particular fondness, the suite from his Sleeping Beauty ballet and ending with a bang with the ever-popular 1812 Overture, (which Tchaikovsky was said to have hated). Accompanying the performance are video projections of winter landscape paintings by artists Aleksander and Lyuba Titovets, whose works have taken them from St. Petersburg, Russia, to galleries, museums and collections around the world. The couple’s philosophy? “A painting is not about a particular place or subject; it is about us as humans; with our feelings and relations, which make art a universal language for the people of the world.” Hear! Hear! Tickets: (336) 335-5456, extension 224, or greensborosymphony.org.

Lee-words

For those who do need a sunny escape from winter’s chill, warm up with the memories of “The Gardens of Provence” from landscape designer Lee Rogers. On February 25 at 10 a.m. at the Greensboro Council of Garden Clubs headquarters on Lawndale Drive, Rogers illustrates how gardens of the region, specifically the Alpes-Maritimes where mountains meet the sea, must address a sloping terrain. “Terraces are the controlling design feature,” Rogers says. And while this the land of sunflowers, olive trees and lavender, Rogers notes a varied “plant palette” that sometimes includes cousins of our native plants here in the Piedmont, euphorbias, for instance. From the over-the-top Rothschild estate to formal structured gardens at Entrecastaux (pictured) by André Le Nôtre, 17th-century designer of the gardens at Versailles and Vaux-Le-Vicomte, Rogers shows the beauty and variety of a region — and gives hope to us that spring will indeed come. Info: (336) 282-4940.

12 O.Henry

February 2016

The Past Speaks

Literally. Leaders of the Harlem Renaissance and Palmer Memorial Institute come alive for “Palmer Personalities: A Silent Theatre Tour” at the Charlotte Hawkins Brown Museum in Gibsonville. During two separate sessions (10 a.m. and noon on February 13), costumed interpreters will assume the personas of figures who made a difference in the African-American community: Loïs Mailou Jones, an artist who started the Palmer Institute’s art department; James Weldon Johnson, who penned the anthem, “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing;” Oscar Stanton De Priest, an Illinois Congressman from 1929–35 and Palmer board member; and poet Langston Hughes, a friend of Charlotte Hawkins Brown. Look for art demonstrations and more. Reservations recommended by calling (336) 449-4846 or emailing chb@ncdr.gov.

It’s Delightful, It’s Delicious, It’s De Kooning

It is considered the “prize” in Weatherspoon Art Museum’s permanent collection. Director Nancy Doll isn’t exactly sure how the museum came to acquire Willem De Kooning’s Woman — perhaps through his connection to Black Mountain College in the late 1940s. But she is fairly certain the painting was the prototype for later more renowned canvases in the Woman series, and most important: “It points to abstraction,” she says. But what were De Kooning’s contemporaries up to during the same period, 1945–55? Find out at De Kooning in Company (Februrary 13 until June 12). The exhibit reveals that, however popular Abstract Expressionism might become, other artists — Fairfield Porter, Hans Hoffman, Elaine De Kooning and Jimmy Ernst, among others — were exploring genres as diverse as representational art, Surrealism and geometric abstraction, and forging a dynamic American art scene. Info: weatherspoon.uncg.edu.

The Art & Soul of Greensboro


Toast with the Most

No one does l’amour better than the French, so what better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day than with . . . French toast? And at a price of $5, you won’t find a cheaper date. Just head to the Harvest Room of the Greensboro Farmers Curb Market at 8 a.m. February 13 and fill up on the breakfast staple made with locally baked bread and fresh farm eggs by chefs and locavores Mary Macklen and Lynn Wells. For ambiance, channel your inner Edith Piaf or Charles Aznavour with some 1930s Paris café tunes, courtesy of the Minor Swing Band, and then browse the market for gifts for your sweetie — fleurs, bijoux and bon-bons. Bon appétit! Info: (336) 373-2402 or gsofarmersmarket.org.

Visionary

On a road trip five years ago, Triad Stage director Preston Lane made an unexpected stop: “In Virginia, I came upon a church in the middle of nowhere; the windows and doors were boarded from the outside,” he says. A visit to the collection of self-taught artists at the Smithsonian on that same trip piqued the playwright’s imagination further. He had found his setting and theme for Radiunt Abundunt (February 21 until March 13), about an outsider artist, an art dealer and two women in search of a missing family member. “The way [visonary artists] make art is the purest, most connected way to be an artist,” Lane says. Add set designer’s Anya Klepikov’s paintings created expressly for this play — along with original tunes by Greensboro’s Laurelyn Dossett — you’ll be transported to a magical world via music and myth. Tickets: (336) 272-0160 or triadstage.org.

Hearts and Soles

Can dancing add ten years to your life? It’s certainly given ten years of life to the Fred Astaire Dance Studio, under the ownership of Sasha Tsyhankov and Alosha Anatoliy: The ballroom pros have used their expertise, not only to give lessons in cha cha, rhumba, waltz and more to prospective partygoers, brides and grooms, but have also used their fancy footwork to promote good health. Triad resident David Nickell learned from his dance lessons that he had a more serious problem: seven blockages resulting in a quintuple bypass. He’s back cutting a rug — in one of two competitions that the Studio sponsors this month, “Dancing with the Carolina Stars” (February 20 at the Empire Room on Elm Street) that benefits Operation Smile. The other, “Dancing with the High Point Stars” (February 27, High Point Country Club), which supports Communities in Schools of High Point. Both, er, feets of heroism. Info/Tickets: danceingreensboro.com; ww2.operationsmile.org or highpointcommunitiesinschools.org

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Ogi Sez Ogi Overman It’s easy to be sick of February, even before it gets here. But I’ve figured out a way to get over the cold, blustery dreariness of it all. It has nothing to do with Valentine’s Day but everything to do with live music. So drag your bones out to the clubs, coffee shops and event venues and soothe that savage breast.

• February 3, Carolina Theatre: At age 16, Jonny Lang released an album that set the blues guitar world on its ear. Sixteen years later, can you even imagine what kind of monster he is now? • February 12, Blind Tiger: Given that Phish is no more, Runaway Gin is the closest you’re going to get to that seminal hippie jamband. Close your eyes and you’ll swear that’s Trey Anastasio & Co. onstage. You don’t even need psychedelics. • February 20, Carolina Theatre: I hate to double-dip, but when my hero Dave Mason comes to town, whatcha gonna do? Yes, he is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Traffic, but why is he not as a solo artist? Don’t get me started. • February 21, Cone Denim Entertainment Center: I remember laughing when I heard the name Big Head Todd & the Monsters. But then when I heard their late-’80s album, Another Mayberry, I knew they were much more than a clever name. Still are. • February 26, High Point Theatre: If there is one band that defines indigenous Louisiana music, it is BeauSoliel avec Michael Doucet. Call it Cajun, Creole or zydeco, but whatever you call it, call it brilliant. And you can throw in Grammy-winning.

February 2016

O.Henry 13


James Williams, Untitled, 2015, mixed media, 2 x 2 feet , Photo Credit Toni Tronu

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Doodad

Steeling the Show The spirited drumming of Tracy Thornton

L

ike any 20-year-old on the cusp of adulthood, Tracy Thornton was looking for his life path. He found it while watching a segment of Bill Moyers Journal on iconic mythologist Joseph Campbell. Thornton’s take away from the segment was that if you follow your bliss, doors will open that you never even knew existed. The next day Thornton quit his job as a courier for a brokerage firm and began pursuing a career as a percussionist full time. That was twenty-six years ago, and he hasn’t had a day job since. Already a drummer for a popular local rock band, Toxic Popsicle, Thornton soon got interested in African drums and from there it was a hop, skip and jump to steelpan, the chromatically-pitched drums indigenous to the Caribbean island of Trinidad and Tobago. Today he is one of the most respected and in-demand steelpan players on the planet. “I got what the natives call ‘pan jumbie,’” he says. “’Jumbie’ means ‘spirit,’ and I got taken over by the spirit of the pan.” By 1994 he released his first CD, Tracy Thornton’s Steeling Christmas, and the following year made his first foray to Trinidad and Tobago to play in the annual Panorama, the island-wide festival that is a competition among dozens of mega bands. “That was a life-changing and very humbling experience,” he says. “You think you’re hot stuff, and this 12-year-old kid beside you is hotter than you’ll ever be.” He returned and formed his first band, Been Caught Steeling, and another, Sons of Steel, before deciding to go solo in 2002. That’s when his career started to skyrocket. In 2006 he turned the upstairs of his and wife Lisa’s comfortable home in Jamestown into a state-of-the-art studio and began recording himself as well as other local bands. After his cover of Ramones songs landed him some exposure in SPIN magazine and on mtv.com, he launched his own record label, Steel Pandemic, and his Pan Rocks series of classic rock and metal covers. Meanwhile, in 2008 he began doing teaching residencies at colleges, high schools, middle schools and conservatories around the globe — mentoring musicians who wanted to start community bands. Last year he was among thirty invitees (from 600 applicants) who participated in the Percussive Arts Society’s international conference in San Antonio. Long-term, the soft-spoken musician’s plan is to take the Pan Rocks series (he has already done two concerts) on the road, in the manner of a “STOMP!” or Mannheim Steamroller–type show, complete with costumes, lasers and special effects. “I’ve already got the players, template and business model on paper,” he says. “All I need is someone who believes in the concept to get behind it.” That’s where talent, hard work and following your bliss can take you. — Ogi Overman The Art & Soul of Greensboro

February 2016

O.Henry 15


Take Yourself-ie Downtown. SEE AND BE SEEN WITH

# DGSOSelfie

Mindy & Chad Oakley Greensboro, NC

Get the lowdown on Downtown Greensboro and share your favorite downtown moments by posting on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter using #DGSOSelfie (or if you’re old school, email them to selfies@downtowngreensboro.net). Your posts may get you featured in our upcoming ads and social media feeds! By sharing your photos, you allow Downtown Greensboro Inc (DGI) to use them for the purpose of advertising. Photos will only be used by DGI and the City of Greensboro.

2016 DOWNTOWN GREENSBORO INCORPORATED

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O.Harry

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The Art & Soul of Greensboro

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O.Henry 17


Sweet Sorrow

Life’s Funny

The long good-bye

By Maria Johnson

To my firstborn:

I didn’t want to cry. Friends had warned me that I would, and I tried to steel myself. I knew the flood of emotion would crest when you dropped us off at the airport after we helped you move to your new city, for your first job, eight hours away.

I was prepped to be upbeat, ready to console you in case you seemed sad. And then there you were standing in the drop-off zone, lifting our suitcases from your trunk, handsome and smiling through the snow flurries and promising for the umpteenth time to answer my texts promptly. And that’s when I lost it. I buried my face in your shoulder and boohooed. Your dad’s eyes were brimming, too, but he did a better job of containing himself. I was wiping tears all the way to security. Just a footnote: Airport security people wave you through when they see you’ve been crying. I guess they don’t want to risk setting you off again. So here I sit in another airport, on layover a few hours later, trying to understand why the dam broke. The short answer is I know that it will never be the same again. Oh, you’ll get vacation time now and then, but the lure of trips to places you’ve never seen will be strong. When you’re home, you’ll be home for days. Or hours. The clock will be ticking. The illusion of permanence — and the wonderful laziness that goes with it — will be gone. I’ll miss that. I’ll miss your company. Your lightning-fast wit, your sensitivity, your ability to analyze and articulate, the way you laugh when you get really tickled — all of that makes you a joy to be around. Believe it or not, I’m going to miss your imitation of me. “Shape up, youlittlecwaps.” (You wave your fist here). By the way, I never said that — not in those words anyway — but I admit you captured the spirit. I also admit that I was more eager than Dad for you to getajobgetajobgetajobgetajob in the short time you were home after college. The whole launch thing, supporting yourself, cutting the tethers to us — it’s necessary. And healthy. And a blessing, really, to have that ability. College was a baby step. You were only an hour away. You knew people there. We knew people there. You were plugged in to the university system. There was a safety net.

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Now, you’re up on the wire by yourself. The way you wanted to be. The way we wanted to be when we were your age. We get it. We know that you’ll make your own safety net. New friends. New colleagues. New loves. We’ll be watching from afar. And praying. What is it they say? There are no atheists in foxholes? It should be, “There are no atheists whose children are 450 miles away.” Actually, it’s 461 miles. But who’s counting? Now that I think about it, that’s almost exactly how far I moved for my first job. I remember that Sunday afternoon that my parents left me at my new place in Eden, North Carolina. They were driving their 1977 Buick LeSabre. Light blue with a light blue vinyl top. The Living Room on Wheels, my brother and I called it. We stood on the sidewalk and hugged and kissed. I promised to call and write. Back then, we wrote letters. On paper. “Take care of yourself,” my dad said. Only later did I realize that it wasn’t a suggestion. It was an order. An imperative. He knew what was out there. “I will,” I said, smiling as only a 22-year-old can. Years later, my mom told me that she cried all the way to Knoxville. My brother was away at school, just as yours is. I was starting a new job in a distant city, just as you are. Back home, my mom knew, things would be changed forever. The house would be cleaner. And quieter. Their expenses would drop. They would have time to travel —all of the things that your dad and I have now. And that’s great. But now I know why my mom cried all the way to Knoxville and why I cried all the way to security. The biggest thing you miss when your children leave home is yourself. The way you’ve been for the last couple of decades. The day-to-day parent. The teacher, the protector, the comforter. Most of the time, it’s a wonderful gig. I love being John and Tom’s mom. Technically, I’ll always be. But practically speaking, not so much anymore. So what I feel is grief. It’s a wee grief, I grant you, but that’s what it is. Like most grief, it’s selfish, and it will fade as I tally the blessings you’ve brought. You gave us another one when you dropped us off at the airport. “Take care of yourself,” I blubbered into your down vest. I know what’s out there. “I will,” you said. You were smiling your 22-year-old smile. OH Maria Johnson is a contributing editor to O.Henry. She can be reached at maria@ohenrymag.com. February 2016

O.Henry 19


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has steadily built a reputation for nurturing great debut authors. Not to say they don’t publish established authors, because they do, but their annual collections continue to cultivate writers at the beginning of their career.

According to Kevin Watson, founder of Press 53, the 2015 Award for Short Fiction had over 250 entries. “After selecting our winner, which was difficult enough, I had three other manuscripts I couldn’t get out of my mind, so I offered contracts.” One of those manuscripts was Gerry Wilson’s short story collection, Crosscurrents and Other Stories. For weeks after I read it, I couldn’t get it out of my head either. Compelling story is conflict, and Wilson’s title lives up to its promise: Her characters are caught in the cross-currents of internal and external conflicts, some quite literally — drowning is a reoccurring theme (“Crosscurrents, Pieces”, “Book of Lies”) — others metaphorically. But the characters are haunting. “Book of Lies”, chronicling Robin’s crisis raising her unwanted niece, Molly, following a suicide, looks not so much at the immediate trauma of the suicide but the fractal-like pain that seeps and permeates their lives for years to come. For days I wandered The Art & Soul of Greensboro

around different scenarios for Molly’s outcome in my head: If her father had just . . . What about her cousins? . . . Will she ever understand that sometimes you just give children a simple answer (a lie) to an impossible question? But harder to shake was “The One to Go” and the horrific wake of Mallory’s life. The re-emergence of now-pregnant Mallory, a runaway presumed dead, rattles the walls of her father and stepmother’s lives. Wilson deftly shows us the struggles of two generations of women, Mallory and the stepmother who sees too much of herself in the frightening younger woman. Both ache for something that neither can explain to the other. The author’s execution is exquisite to encounter. Wilson’s author bio notes that she is the grandmother and step-grandmother of ten. The heartache of family life is clearly closely ingrained in her consciousness and permeates most of the stories. Even “Appendix”, which ostensibly is about an affair, reflects the pain of not belonging, of not being the chosen one, with the affirming title of wife. It makes a nice juxtaposition for “Wives’, a first-person account of the first wife sharing the birth of a grandchild not only with her ex-husband but with his fourth wife as well. Perhaps what makes Wilson’s writing so unexpected is the surprising yet unspoken — and often overlooked — strength in her female characters. She creates horrid adversity for them and surrounds them with people who undermine them and then shows them having greater wells of strength than their male counterparts comprehend. Wilson combines an arrow-sharp aim for the heart with an evocative vocabulary to create memorable tableaux of human experience. Alternately February 2016

O.Henry 21


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The Omnivorous Reader distressing and compelling, Crosscurrents is one of my favorite story collections I have encountered in a very long time. The winner of the 2015 Press 53 Award for Short Fiction, The Universal Physics of Escape by Elizabeth Gonzalez, is a very different collection from Crosscurrents. Though both are debut collections by women, they approach the world through disparate lenses. The Appalachian Mountains and rural Pennsylvania provide the specific, restricting settings that Gonzalez’s characters seek and fear, escape to and from. The title story parallels an octopus’ survival strategies with a suburban housewife slowly dying from self-repression. It’s not an abusive relationship, it’s a series of narrowing choices and compromises that slowly, successfully cause the protagonist to not exist in any definable, real way. Without saying as much, Gonzalez presents the lament of many mommies: I no longer have an identity except as “so-and- so’s mom.” “Half Beat”, set in Ohio, again works with parallels: a young girl and a spinster music teacher. Perhaps that is where Gonzalez is strongest — that mirror of fear and hope we see in each other, a theme she returns to over and over again: the tough coal miner grandparents in “Shakedown”, and most heartbreakingly with Zeke and Lanie in “Weather”. Zeke is famous in their small town for killing his brother in a hunting accident at age 14. Lanie’s methaddled son killed himself, Lanie’s granddaughter and two other innocent people in a car accident. Gonzalez doesn’t preach for or about either character, nor does she resolve either of their pain. Instead, she lets these two lonely people find in each other a mutual recognition of something no one else can understand — not even their grieving family members. Reading the description of Lanie teaching her granddaughter to recognize the signs that her father was high on meth — and how to leave him, to find another adult and ask the stranger to call her grandmother to come pick her up — was rending. The passage haunted me for days. How do you even begin to have that conversation with a child — to come to a point that any stranger is a safer alternative than Dad? Then to have the worst fears borne out in such mythic proportions. The addict’s cry of “It’s my life!” coming to a screeching halt as he kills three other people with him. In a few spare paragraphs Gonzalez gives us this picture to sit, to contemplate, and to read with caution. Crosscurrents and The Universal Physics of Escape are both worthy investments from your local independent bookstore. North Carolina is lucky to have an independent publisher like Press 53 to seek out and recognize such talent. OH Gwenyfar Rohler spends her days managing her family’s bookstore on Front Street in Wilmington. The Art & Soul of Greensboro


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O.Henry 23


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Bookshelf

Rough Justice

The story of a racially charged murder case and its aftermath By Nancy Oakley

Every morning, as he hoisted the

American flag in front of his elementary school in Floyd County, Virginia, Ross Howell Jr. noticed a recurring sight among the passing cars and trucks on U.S. Highway 221, directly in front of the school. “I would see one or two school buses go by,” Howell says. “And I was always puzzled by that because the children inside looked different, but I couldn’t say how.” Later in life, Howell realized the bus passengers had been black children traveling to a segregated school. The image stayed with him through adolescence and young adulthood, which coincided with the racial issues of the day: the murder of civil rights activist Medgar Evers; the Loving vs. Virginia court case that struck down miscegenation laws in his home state; the riots following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. After a lengthy career writing short fiction and teaching, Howell found his calling to become a novelist while revisiting another incident from home, “a courthouse tragedy,” he says, that took place in neighboring Carroll County in 1912. It involved a shootout, five fatalities and a manhunt through the Virginia hills. Researching the novel, Howell came across the name George Washington Fields, a defense attorney and former slave who had, that same year, worked on another case in Hampton, Virginia, that of Virginia ”Virgie” Christian, a black teenager accused of murdering her employer. It was the first time Howell had ever heard the girl’s name, and he recognized her as a unique figure in history of the Commonwealth. “She was the first juvenile ever executed, even in Colonial days,” he says. Howell continued to follow the thread of Christian’s story, discovering that it was the subject of a dissertation by a University of Iowa Ph.D. candidate, Darryn Moten, who had meticulously researched courthouse records and newspaper accounts of the case. Howell had his own look at these primary sources at the Library of Virginia in Richmond, taking particular note of the accounts of Charles Mears, an 18-year-old reporter covering his first murder case. “He was the second newspaperman to talk to her,” Howell says, explaining that Christian, who was uneducated, was not allowed to tell her own story in court; her attorney, Fields, considered her speech “rude.” Mears was the only newsman to record a recounting of events in the vernacular. Howell was hooked. Four years later, the result is Forsaken, which, yes, tells the story of

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Virginia Christian and the guilty verdict that was all but a forgone conclusion in the Jim Crow South. But the true protagonist is Mears, the book’s narrator, an idealist . . . and product of white, male hegemony. As unjust as Christian’s trial might seem, Mears underwent his own trial by fire in which he encounters social isolation, hatred and violence, all painful steps toward transformation and awareness. The following excerpt, from the chapter titled, “So Long,” charts the beginning of Mears’s journey with his farewell visit to Virgie on the eve of her execution. I signed in at the guard station at the main gate and started down the walk. I stopped before I was in sight of the next station. Maebelle had made a little lemon cake about the size of my hand and iced it with chocolate. It was wrapped in wax paper. I removed it from my breast pocket and tucked it under my cap. “Here to see the little nigger girl, Charlie?” the guard said. “Reckon this’ll be the last.” He grinned. He had a pinched face and pasty skin. His hair was black and so were his eyes. The ends of his mouth turned down. “Stand by the cage.” He patted the pockets of my jacket and trousers and ran his hands down my legs to my ankles. “All right, then,” he said. He led me up the flight of stairs to a corridor. At the end was Virginia Christian’s cell. The cell door swung open and Mrs. Bradley, the matron, emerged. She was holding a tray. “I’ll check with you later, Virgie,” she said, looking back in the cell. She had a big ring of keys at her waist. The keys rattled as she reached for the ring. Then she saw me. “Why, good morning,” she said. “Virgie, look who’s here.” “Ain’t them preachers again, is it?” Virgie asked. “Lord child, no. They won’t be here till evening. It’s your friend Charlie, the newspaperman, come to see you.” Mrs. Bradley was a big woman and her skirts about filled the corridor. Her face was heavy and dull but her gray eyes were kind. She had her hair braided and set in a tight bun atop her head. Her big skirts rustled as she moved back to let me in the cell. She closed the door and locked it. “Just an hour, Charlie. That’s all today,” she said. The springs on the cot squeaked as Virgie moved to make room for me. They squeaked again when I sat down. We listened to the footfalls as the matron and guard made their way down the corridor. The door at the end of February 2016

O.Henry 25


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February 2016

The Art & Soul of Greensboro


Bookshelf

the hall clanged shut. Virgie’s cell was dark but the death chamber across the hall was lit. A man wearing a blue cap and mechanic’s overalls was working on an electrical connection on the chair. His elbow hit the enamel chamber pot underneath. It clanked against one of the legs. Virgie started at the sound and so did I. The man moved the pot back in place and continued with his work. The arms and back of the chair were oak and they looked golden in the light. I looked at Virgie as she watched. Her face did not move. Her breathing was steady. When the workman finished what he was attending to, he picked up his carpenter’s tray and went out the opposite door of the chamber. He cut off the light. “Maebelle made you something,” I said. “For your birthday.” Virgie stirred. “Miss Harriet’s, too,” she said. “You remember to get her a present, Mr. Charlie?” “Yes,” I said. I lifted my cap, exposing the flat parcel atop my head. I put my cap on the cot. “Well?” I said. “Well, what?” she said. I nodded and the parcel fell into my hand. “Birthday cake.” I handed the parcel to her. “More like birthday pie,” she said. She folded back the wax paper. The chocolate icing had stuck and the lemon cake was mush. She grinned. “Looks awful good, Mr. Charlie!” She laughed out loud, then dipped a finger. I laughed and dipped a finger, too. Maebelle was a genius. The cake was delicious, even wilted. “What you get Miss Harriet?” she asked. “A book of poems,” I said. “Mr. Charlie, you got to give up on them books. You get her some flowers or candy, something nice.” “All right,” I said. “I’ll get some flowers, too.” She dipped in the cake again and licked icing from her finger. “My momma liked her chocolate. She make her a cake, chocolate through and through, chocolate icing, too. Momma sure could make her a cake, fore she got paralyzed.” She paused. “Momma a hightone woman. You said you seen her. Daddy the dark one. You seen him, too. Seen I take after my daddy. He gone come by this evening, matron say.” She dipped her finger in the cake. “I ain’t thought about that. I ain’t gone see my momma no more.” She smacked her lips and licked a finger. “Tell you the truth, I kind of forgets what she look like. Momma sit in the light just right, though, her eyes turn green. Funny what you remember,” she said. I took another dip of cake, then licked icing from my fingers. I wanted a cigarette. I looked across the hall into the darkened room. “I don’t think I really remember Fitz,” I said. “I have a picture, and I take it out and look. I reckon it’s the picture I remember now. I brought it here for you, Virgie. It’s a present. I wanted something special.” The Art & Soul of Greensboro

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Bookshelf

I pulled the photograph from my pocket. “This is Fitzhugh Scott. We called him Fitz.” She lifted a fold of her skirt and carefully wiped each of her fingers. Then she took the picture from my hand. It was curled with the humidity. She cradled it in her palm. “Why, he look like he gone be President of the United States,” she said. “Yes,” I said. “He did.” “I’m gone put this in the Bible them preachers brung me,” she said. “Thank you, Mr. Charlie.” She reached under the cot, slid out the Bible, and placed the photograph under the front cover. She closed the cover and slid the Bible back. “Are you afraid?” I asked. She shook her head. “You’re brave.” She began to fold the wax paper. “I ain’t brave. I just ain’t afraid.” “I was afraid,” I said. “You mean, with your friend?” “Yes,” I said. “Things might’ve been different.” “Things just is, Mr. Charlie. That’s all I know.” She folded the wax paper into a lumpy square. “Your birthday coming up too, ain’t it?” “Yes. The twenty-first.” “Humph,” she said. “Me, and Harriet, and you. Guess folks get mighty busy, cold weather coming on.” She grinned. “Oh,” I said. “Mr. Charlie, I believe you blushing. You knows what I’m talking about, don’t you?” She giggled. “Is you blushing?” “I reckon I am,” I said. She giggled again. We sat quiet for a while. “Do you want to pray, Virgie?” She shook her head slowly. “No, Mr. Charlie, I don’t, to tell you the truth. Them preachers gone come back this evening and pray me straight up to heaven and back again, just like they been doing ever night this week.” “All right,” I said. The wax paper rattled as she folded it once more and handed it to me. I placed it in my cap. “It’s not just the preachers, Virgie,” I said. “Think of the people who care about you. People who’ve written the governor, traveled to meet with him, people from all over Virginia, from Atlanta, and Boston, and Chicago. Lawyers and editors, businessmen and teachers, schoolchildren. They’ve all asked the governor to spare your life. Even Mrs. Terrell took the train straight from the meeting of the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs. Delivered their petition to the governor’s hand. And visited you right here in this cell. She’s one of the most prominent colored women in the country, Virgie, one of the most prominent women in the world, and she came right here to see you.” PiedmontOpera.org “Humph,” Virgie said. “That high-tone woman come waltzing in here in her button shoes and The Art & Soul of Greensboro

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O.Henry 29

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Bookshelf ruffles and feathers, wouldn’t even sit down, afraid she’d get her dress dirty. She pass for white any day she wanted, Mr. Charlie. She ain’t no ‘Negress,’ like me. I’s black as coal!” “She helped, Virgie. Because of her the governor granted the reprieve. Maybe he’ll grant another. There’s still time.” “I don’t wants no more time, Mr. Charlie,” she said. “I wants to go. What girl’d want to live a life in here?” “Maybe one day you’d be paroled, Virgie. It happens. You can’t give up.” “Oh, Mr. Charlie. You always so good. But for a educated white boy, you don’t know much.” She folded her hands in her lap. “Let’s just pass time, Mr. Charlie, like we do. Let’s do the alphabet you taught me. Able, Boy, Cast, Dog, Easy, Fox.” I cleared my throat. “George, Have, Item, Jig.” “King, Love, Mike, Nan, Oboe. What ‘Oboe’ again, Mr. Charlie?” “A musical instrument.” “These is my favorites,” she said, “Pup, Quack, Rush, Sail.” “Tare, Unit, Vice, Watch.” “X-ray, Yoke, Zed. What ‘Zed’ again?” “The Greek letter for ‘Z.’” “Dog, Able, Dog Dog, Yoke. ‘Daddy.’ He say he coming one more time, Mr. Charlie. Say he got the money for the train.” She turned and looked out into the hall. “Stop that, Mr. Charlie, else you gone get me to crying, too.” I wiped my face with my hands. A door clanged at the far end of the hall. We listened to the footfalls. I picked up my cap and snugged it to my head with the folded wax paper inside. “Fitz thought it was like this, Virgie. He said after this life you are on a road, traveling, and sometimes you stop and wait for your friends to catch up.” She grinned. “That why you brung me that picture, Mr. Charlie? So I know Mr. Fitz when I sees him?” “I hadn’t thought that, Virgie. I just wanted you to have it.” “Well, me and Mr. Fitz, we gone hide by that road, Mr. Charlie. And when we sees you coming, we gone jump out and scare the sweet Jesus out of you!” She laughed, bending forward. Her black eyes shone. She laughed again and shook her head, catching her breath. “That’s what we gone do!” “It’s time, Charlie,” Mrs. Bradley said. She put the key in the cell door and pushed it open. I stood up from the cot. Virgie looked at me. Her face was beaming. She held out her hand. “So long, Mr. Charlie,” she said. “I’ll be seeing you.” I took her hand and shook it. Her fingers were warm. “Virgie, so long!” I said. I turned and pushed through the cell door. I started to trot down the hall. Behind me I heard the The Art & Soul of Greensboro

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The Art & Soul of Greensboro


Bookshelf

keys rattling. I trotted faster. “Charlie!” Mrs. Bradley called. “Wait! I have to unlock that one.” I slammed into the steel door and pressed my cheek against it. I clutched at the latch. My throat clenched tight. I felt Mrs. Bradley’s hand on my shoulder. I stepped back and saw tears running down her face. “We’ve done all we can do, Charlie,” she whispered. She banged her key into the lock. She opened the door and closed it after me. I turned and looked back through the grate. “Thank you,” I said. She nodded and wiped her cheek. Then she was gone. Outside the air had become hotter and even more oppressive. The men with the freight wagon were gone. I pulled off my cap and threw the wax paper by the curb. I put the cap on and pulled it down to shield my eyes. I looked up at the three big cupolas of the penitentiary. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky. I looked at the curb. Next to the wax paper were cigarette butts and a pile of dung the mule had left. There were splinters from the oak staves. I started for the trolley stop. I had already taken a seat before I realized I’d boarded the blackball car. There were two passengers. A lithe, pretty, high-tone girl dressed in a prim black uniform stared at me, annoyed. Then she looked out the window. She was carrying a white, crisply starched apron and cap with ties that fluttered in the air from the window. The other passenger was a grizzled black man in a wide straw hat. He dozed, nodding with the motion of the trolley. His patched denim overalls were clean and freshly ironed. I looked out a window, too. Not much had been left standing in this part of Richmond after the Union shelling. President Lincoln himself came to see the city the day after it fell. When they heard the news, colored people lined his passage, pressing forward to touch his coat. Well, it was the Progressive South now. Governor Mann was a Democrat, and he’d helped his fellow Virginian Wilson to the Democratic nomination for the presidency. There were factories and trains. There were mills and forges. There were bridges and mines. There was scientific agriculture. The new constitution had cut the voting population of the Commonwealth by half, nearly all of those removed colored. Jim Crow danced in polling places, courts civil and criminal, restaurants and diners, trolley cars and passenger trains. He would dance at the penitentiary tomorrow morning. OH Excerpt from Forsaken, by Ross Howell Jr. Copyright 2015. Reprinted with permission from New South Books. On February 5th, Scuppernong Books will host a release party for the book, which Howell will read from and sign. (See calendar page 79) The Art & Soul of Greensboro

February 2016

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34 O.Henry

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The Art & Soul of Greensboro


Life in the Neighborhood

On The Street Where I Lived

For one writer, home is The Snake Pit and Snowmageddon ’69

By Billy Ingram

Photographs courtesy of Billy Ingram

I was fortunate to

have grown up with my younger brother and sister on a section of Hill Street in Latham Park. Some realtors call it Old Irving Park Adjacent. Bordered on the south by Wendover and on the north by Hammel Road, this two-block stretch has the feel of a cul-de-sac, as do the three thoroughfares west and east of it — Grayland, Briarcliff and Latham. My grandparents had lived in three properties on Hill at various times. And my parents had lived at 1116 before settling in to a two-story, late-1920s three-bedroom brick bungalow at 1204. At that time, our Mema lived on the corner at 1119 in a charming Tudor Revival cottage, and, almost every afternoon, she would walk down to bring us a basket covered over in gingham filled with still warm silver dollar buttermilk biscuits, small lemon chess pies and little pound cakes.

We were so close to the Kings, our next-door neighbors, we became family. I remember summer afternoons spent at Blair Park, where the city paid two college coeds to babysit, playing marbles, weaving potholders and getting sugared up when the ice cream truck stopped at 2 o’clock. The park was renamed Troy A.

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Johnson after the tall, skinny old guy who hung out there pulling quarters out of little kid’s ears, a public service if there ever was one. The “Toot Toot Truck,” a Carolina Blue ’50s Ford pickup loaded down with farm fresh produce, candy necklaces, Astro-Pops and Wacky Packages, made two stops daily in front of our home. It was operated by Mr. Wilbert Sullivan, a kindly, gray-haired country gentleman in a train conductor’s cap and bib overalls. My father Bill Ingram worked hard but not long, whole-heartedly embracing Billy Black’s philosophy: “If a man can’t make a living by 11 in the morning he ought not to be in business.” In cahoots with WBIG’s morning man Bob Poole, Dad employed the body shop at Ingram Motors on North Elm to convert a school bus into a booze cruising nightclub, this in the days before liquor-by-the-drink, and would consistently be counted among the faithful at the M&M (Merchants and Manufacturers) Club, bourboning weekday afternoons away shooting pool and playing gin rummy behind a black door buried inside the bowels of an increasingly seedy O.Henry Hotel. “Oh, our folk drank at midday, and before,” my father’s business-partner-turnedauthor Thomas Peacock wrote. “But still had the grace to be a little ashamed, and confined their tippling to places like the M&M Club, where the light of day had never once sullied its crumbling valances.” About their decades long association Peacock marveled, “This blithe spirit, this happy warrior, whose work habits could have inspired seminars on how not to succeed, marched to his own bouncy drummer, and like the honey bee whose aerodynamic structure precluded the possibility of flight, flew anyway and made a little honey every day.” Don’t get me wrong, my parents were the greatest. It’s just that, despite waiting until their 30s, I don’t think they cottoned much to the idea of raising kids, not at first. When Dad whistled out the door, we were expected to prick up our puppy dog ears and race back to the kennel to be fed and put to bed by 5:30. That was so the adults could fire up The Snake Pit at the end of our shared driveway with February 2016

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Neighborhood

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36 O.Henry

February 2016

the Kings, a circle of tattered lawn chairs littered with crushed butts and Budweiser pull tabs where Irving Park businessmen, car lot lizards, captains of industry, crazy neighbors and tipsy trust-funders gravitated towards during the cocktail hour(s). I believe it was Nancy Merritt who, upon witnessing this motley assemblage, quipped, “I don’t know who wrote Tobacco Road but I know where he was standing when he thought it up!” At 11 years old I published a weekly newsletter with content generated by peppering my parents, after they’d had a few drinks, with questions about the neighbors. Carbon-copying what they said, I peddled that chit-chat door-to-door for 5 cents (my sister insists she got 25). This led to visiting at length with several of the neighbors, like Harry and Daphne Lewis, a very nice couple in their 70s at 1202. The first time I was over, Daphne enlisted me in a trick on her husband, a retired copywriter. In the RC Cola on the rocks I was to bring him, she gingerly placed a novelty plastic ice cube with a fly visibly encased within it. On its discovery Harry always acted surprised even though she pulled that gag so often it had to be a subtle form of torture. Daphne really irked neighboring mothers by sunbathing nude all summer long in her wide- open backyard. She couldn’t have cared less there were youngsters playing on all sides, her dried arrangement on full display. If nothing else Mrs. Lewis provided, for a gaggle of elementary school kids, a low bar for any expectations regarding the female form after puberty. Don’t know for whose benefit all that tanning was for, certainly not her husband in light of the sixty-minute shrill, harpy-esque haranguing she assaulted him with every night, ending only after he mustered enough bluster to shout her into submission. Even death from a thousand pecks couldn’t stop these verbal blitzkriegs. Daphne was convinced Harry’s spirit remained seated to her left in some ethereal plane and could hear her every word just as clearly as we could next door. Mrs. Lewis passed away not long after he did but not before having the last laugh. Assisting her sister Dacia in packing up the home, we entered rooms where knickknacks tumbled from the shelves and shattered against the hardwood floors. And that damn ice cube with the fly in it was in a glass next to where Mr. Lewis always sat. After I staged a parody of Dragnet in a corner courtyard, my dear old dad, no doubt intoxicated by its brilliance, station-wagoned my brother Hank, sister Rives, Toot and Hannah King, the Warren sisters and me over to Channel 48’s studio on Warehouse Street, where they videotaped the play for airing on The Kiddie Scene With Mr. Green, a Bizarro-world children’s show hosted by an overly-effusive hippie dude who played “YaketySax” incessantly. (The “Hill Street Moppets” had to tape the play twice after Trudie Warren called The Art & Soul of Greensboro


Neighborhood

The author’s parents in the Bob Poole party bus. my 9-year old brother, who in all fairness was playing two roles, a dumbass.) Mrs. B, Irish born wife of a WWII Army veteran, lived directly across the street. On occasion she and I would sit together on her front steps while she chain-smoked, complaining about married life. Hearing an explosion just after dusk in September of 1971, I ran to the front door to witness Mrs. B standing atop her high perched porch, a .22 resting in her hand. Her 51-year old husband lay sprawled across the blacktop between our homes, dead from a single gunshot. Naturally, we kids spent the evening posing for pictures inside the chalk outline of the body the police left behind, just like in the movies with one arm pointed up, the other down. Within a short time the shooting was ruled justified. Having exercised her Second Amendment right to a divorce, and following an appropriate period of mourning spent with her boyfriend, she returned to live in the house. A few doors north a homeowner tragically gunned down a teenager outside his home. The boy, who lived one block up on Grayland, was mistaken for (or actually was) a Peeping Tom nuisancing the neighborhood. But it wasn’t naked frivolity or the O.K. Corral aspect to life that made Hill Street so memorable, it was atmospherics of a different sort. On February 12, 1960, local folks went to bed expecting rain but awoke to a skyfall lasting twenty continual hours, dropping two-and-a-quarter tons of ice and snow packed 9 inches deep. A mere prelude to March 9th when the other shoe dropped and a foot landed on the Piedmont, one of three snow events that month that carpeted the area with almost two feet of snow. Maybe that’s why the prospect of winter weather still excites me, the impresThe Art & Soul of Greensboro

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Neighborhood The only thing more unexpected than his stroke was how fast he recovered. Last spring, James Pinnix missed just four and a half days of work after suffering a major stroke. One Monday, he experienced numbness on his right side. A week later, he was completely recovered. In between, James was rushed to the Cone Health Stroke Center where he underwent an innovative new procedure to remove a blood clot from his brain. Now he is happily working on a more enjoyable type of stroke — the one attached to his golf game. Meet James and his medical team at exceptionalcare.com.

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38 O.Henry

February 2016

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sion that waist-deep wonderland had on a 3-year-old, followed as it was by the many super storms of the ’60s . . . when the city’s slipperiest slope, a whitecapped rapid, beckoned right outside our front door. Beginning at the Grayland Street summit, West Northwood makes a dramatic plunge as it dissects Hill, Briarcliff, then Latham Road before a seamless soft landing into the park where the landscape levels off for another block-long stretch. This created a quarter-mile-long speedway where low-riding road warriors whizzed downhill at speeds up to 25 mph. It was a spectacle this preschooler could still only enjoy vicariously as 25 inches of snow blanketed the streets over three months beginning New Year’s Day 1962. Instead I was relegated to sledding down the Baby Bump, a short slope on our block traveling a whole 60 feet from the corner. Hard to believe that a mere 2-inch glacial glaze knocked the city off its feet for two days on January 12, 1964, sending me, and even parents in the neighborhood, surging down the big hill under optimal conditions. Without significant drag or resistance, rocketeers reaching peak speeds became momentarily airborne at Briarcliff where the intersection levels off suddenly before resuming an even steeper downward trajectory. Someone would watch for wayward cars jackknifing into Hill Street from Wendover but, as a designated sledding area, burning smudge pots barricaded the final two blocks as Northwood shepherded sledders into Latham Park’s chilly embrace. Ideally a journey would come grinding to a halt at creek’s edge, but, with a surface this slick, it took considerable effort or a last minute bailout to avoid plunging into icy waters. It was a badge of honor for some, but hardly worth an hour cooling your heels while layers of outerwear hung over a radiator to dry. On January 25, 1966, for a third time that month, The Greensboro Record affixed their snowcovered logo to the masthead. The first frosted flakes began darting in the breeze that evening, over the next five days more than 16 inches whited out the landscape as a flotilla of Flexible Flyers slalomed down Northwood, scissoring in and out of crusty ruts like small crafts sailing into breaking waves. Early mornings, after a hard freeze, sleds were needles on a record dropping into hardened grooves worn into the roadway. My siblings and I were at the helm of two sturdy mid-’50s No. 12 Yankee Clippers purchased for about $10 from Fleet-Plumber Hardware; a woodframed model sporting a jetliner logo embossed into the middle of three varnished slats atop red steel blades. But baking pans, cafeteria trays, even flattened cardboard boxes would do in a pinch. New on the ’66 scene were blue and yellow round plastic saucers with rope handles, capable of attaining dizzying speeds and rpms. For whatever reason, intentional pilot error maybe, these misguided missiles were highly prone to plowing into crowds, curbside boys and girls toppling like tenpins. The earlier metal The Art & Soul of Greensboro


Neighborhood

versions were even deadlier, especially after traversing the Briarcliff landing when disc and rider parted company mid-air and that outbound torpedo tobogganed into someone’s noggin, teeth and crimson ribbons spattering the bright white mantel. Aluminum trash can bonfires blazed on corners into the wee hours, attracting teenagers, winos and old-timers who swapped tales of massive coveringsover the likes of which these young’uns hadn’t seen. Like January of 1900 when 2 1/2 feet buried Greensboro alive, or so they said, no one was keeping score back then. In 1930, 14.3 inches landslided from the heavens in a single day, a record that had gone unchallenged until an unlikely contender leapt forward to join that pantheon of champions . . . Snowmaggedon ’69! The waning remnants of a slow-moving disturbance wreaking havoc first in California, then across the Midwest was limping out to sea on Friday, February 28, 1969, resulting in a 30 percent chance of light rain in our forecast. It did indeed drizzle that evening, moisture freezing solid as a fury of flurries got underway. A frigid, frisky March lioness had unexpectedly roared back from the warm waters off the coast, a churning mass of swirling storm fronts trashing our state from tip to tail with such abandon that even Keith Richards would envy. There was no letup until after midnight Sunday morning. The snow was so densely packed, getting bogged down on Northwood meant a lightweight Snow Sailor slicked up with candle wax could come careening up and over your backside. Residents were urged to stay at home. An estimated 10,000 were without electricity. Snow scrapers would clear a downtown square — only to reverse course and plow it all over again in a futile battle against fearsome fallout erasing footprints in a minute, power lines sagging under thick white icing, straining transformers erupting in sparks. There’s something breathtaking about snow after dark. Under streetlights haloed in a whirlwind of arctic crystals, fellow revelers just a few feet away are The Art & Soul of Greensboro

reduced to shadows enveloped inside a swarming assault of wet feathers lit by a moon nearing full, blinding conditions accompanied by a tinnitus-like hush further smothering the senses. Up to 14 inches had fallen on Guilford County that weekend but, with temperatures hovering around freezing, that soggy slush had been pushed aside from major arteries to such an extent that school was scheduled to open on Monday. Before buses could be dispatched, administrators changed their minds as another storm topped us off with 3 more inches of powder and frozen rain that night. It was only fitting we had snowfall not only for Christmas in 1969 but New Year’s Eve, as well. By that point, the Snake Pit days were well behind us in lieu of what passed for parenting in the ’70s. Helicopters? Submariners, maybe. As a sophomore I hopped off the bus from Page and walked into our front door to discover everything but the curtains, carpet and greasy appliances gone. “We” had moved but my devoted parents neglected to tell me. I’d been shown the new house on Blair, vaguely aware it was nearby, just not exactly sure where. Miraculously, brother and sister were accounted for when I finally located the place Returning to live in Greensboro after a lifetime in Los Angeles, I fell sway to the blizzard of January, 1996, fiercest since ’69. Flopping atop a skidder racing down Northwood from Grayland, visibility again nearing zero, I realized that, if indeed you can’t go home again, perhaps a moment inhabiting that amorphous space between where home was and where you think it might be now, is all the comfort a blanket of snow can promise, or ever possibly deliver. OH Former Hollywood movie poster artist Billy Ingram is the creator of TVparty.com, one of the first Internet sensations. His latest book Hamburger² is a collection of stories (mostly) about Greensboro, available at your favorite bookseller and on Amazon.com.

Pramod P. Sethi, MD

Medical Director Cone Health Stroke Center

As Medical Director of the Cone Health Stroke Center, Pramod Sethi, MD, has ready access to some of the most advanced medical devices available. But perhaps none are more powerful than a clock, and James Pinnix is living proof. James suffered a stroke and within a matter of hours had a potentially debilitating blood clot removed. This speedy reaction led to an even speedier recovery— James was back at work the very next week. Learn more about how Dr. Sethi and his team helped James recuperate from a stroke at ExceptionalCare.com.

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February 2016 CH_James_O'Henry_6x10.75, 2.75x10.75.indd 2

O.Henry 1/13/1639 4:10 PM


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40 O.Henry

February 2016

The Art & Soul of Greensboro


Food for Thought

Food From the Heart For Chef Reto, good meals make perfect romance

By Jim Dodson

Reto Biaggi is a gifted chef who operates

Photographs by John gessner

on a pretty simple principle.

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

“Good cooking is an act of love,” declares the indefatigable owner/chef of Reto’s Kitchen, the outstanding cooking school and catering firm near the corner of South Elam and Walker Avenues. Since opening his Kitchen five years ago, the Swiss-born, half-French (“and little bit American”) chef, who arrived in Greensboro a decade and a half ago to open the Green Valley Grill and later oversaw the Grandover Resort’s food and beverage operations before striking out on his own, has developed a passionate following of clients and pupils eager to soak up his meta-fresh philosophy of making good meals. “A good meal, you see, is one that involves all of the primary senses that cause one to fall in love — taste, smell, visual appearance, and so forth. Food brings people closer. It engages their minds. And so, to create something that is fresh and memorable and delights all of these senses as well as one’s feeling of belonging and well-being is, bon, a true act of the heart, a gift of love!” Biaggi would know about such elements because he grew up in Bern, Switzerland, where everyone in his family cooked up a storm. “My grandmother met my grandfather when she was a waitress in a small restaurant in the Swiss Alps, and my mom was the first maître d’ at one of the most famous hotels in February 2016

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Food for Thought Switzerland. I grew up eating wonderful meals at their tables. My parents entertained at least every two weeks, often feeding seventy people or more at one time. Food was a celebration for them, and my mother did all of the preparation herself. That’s where I got the bug.” At age 12, Biaggi declared his intention to become a chef, worked in an uncle’s restaurant and managed to get his name on the prestigious sixyear waiting list for the École Hôtelière Lausanne, widely regarded as the finest hotel management school in the world. He met his wife, Emmy, a daughter of Greensboro, when they both were working for Euro Disney, and went on to manage the dining room and food service at Toronto’s fivestar Fairmount Royal York hotel before the Biaggis returned for good to Greensboro. One of the pleasures of opening his own school and catering shop, Biaggi explains, is the chance to cook for his own friends and family many weeknights and weekends. Daughter Claire, a senior at Grimsley, is waiting to hear from colleges, while son Alex, 16, is on the cusp of earning his Eagle Scout rank. “They’re so busy and life is so busy for Emmy and me, yet I love nothing better than to go home from a long day and cook for my family, something simple, fresh and tasteful,” he explains. “This is what I try to teach my students as well, that a lovingly prepared meal made with the freshest ingredients and imagination is a genuine statement of love for others.” Who better, we submit, with Valentine’s Day on the near horizon, than Reto Biaggi and his talented staff — Shelly, Liza and Jon— to cook us up the quintessential romantic meal designed to woo one’s sweetie or simply convey a tasty Valentine to family or friends? Our fortunate pre-Valentine tasting began with a trio of special appetizers “designed to be shared — different surprising tastes.” • A smoked salmon parfait layered with goat cheese mousse, fresh horseradish and an award winning smoked salmon. • A scallop ceviche made with coconut cream, lemon and a touch of green curry and pickled red onions • Hazelnut salad made with lemon juice, fresh parsley, minced shrimp and hazelnuts, hazelnut oil. This was followed by a main course of fresh Chesapeake Bay crab cakes, fresh asparagus grilled in locally sourced olive oil, thinly scored new potatoes rolled in light butter and baked, and sliced baby carrots, finished off with — voilà!— Biaggi’s own famous chocolate mousse. Needless to say, it was love at first taste. The staff was smiling. The chef was pleased. Our hearts were won. OH

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

February 2016

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44 O.Henry

February 2016

The Art & Soul of Greensboro


That’s Amari!

In The Spirit

Fall in love with Italian bitters

By Tony Cross

Photograph by Pinehurst Photography

While I’ve been in the cocktail

business, it’s the little things that I have marveled at: building clientele slowly, watching the gleeful expression on someone’s face after tasting a new cocktail for the first time after patiently waiting for me to construct it, the myriad stories exchanged with guests, some of whom have gone from strangers to good friends. One of my favorite moments occurs when I’m making a drink for a patron who grimaces at first sip. I love being turned on to new things, whether it be food, wine or spirit; so, of course, I love paying it forward when I have the chance, even if it’s a spirit that requires some to seek adventure with their taste buds. And honestly, many of those guests never The Art & Soul of Greensboro

returned to the exotic spirit. But the times when a patron would leave that night a convert, that’s when it’s really felt good to be in this profession.

One of my hardest sells has always been amari. If you know bitters, then you know amaro (Italian for bitter). Bitters are rich and potent; They consist of herbs, bark and/or citrus that are usually steeped in high proof alcohol, making them too bitter to drink alone. Bitters can act like the salt and pepper to a cocktail or bring two flavors together that would not work at all without it. Usually, a few dashes of bitters will suffice for your old-fashioneds and Manhattans. Bitters bring what every perfect cocktail strives for: balance. Unlike bitters that is used to season a drink, amari are bitters that you can drink. Originally employed for its digestive properties, amari are usually consumed neat, over ice, or mixed in a cocktail. It’s not hard to remember the difference between the two: Dash the bitters and drink the amari. I guarantee you’ve seen and probably tasted amari before. Campari is a staple at every restaurant bar in town and possibly one of the most popular beverages around the globe. Pimm’s No. 1 is another that you may be familiar with. Amari? Not so much, but time is proving to be on our side; more and more bottles are popping up in our state’s ABC system. Here are three accessible labels, at least one of which should be February 2016

O.Henry 45


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In The Spirit an essential in your home bar. Cynar: Pronounced “chee-nar,” this artichoke-based amaro gets its moniker from the artichoke’s Latin name (cynara scolymus). Don’t squirm just yet; Cynar tastes nothing like artichokes. Trust me, I’ve had more of this amaro than I’d like to admit. In addition to artichoke leaves, there are thirteen herbs are infused in its alcohol base. Cynar has a slight sweetness with vegetal flavors, as well as orange peel and caramel. Cynar has helped me a ton when balancing out a drink that might be too boozy, or even too sweet. Try it in place of Campari in a Negroni, or Fernet Branca in the classic Toronto cocktail. (NC Code 00-710) Rabarbaro Zucca Amaro: In 1845, Ettore Zucca created this amaro with Chinese rhubarb roots (hence the name Rabarbaro, even though Zucca is Italian for “squash”) and other secret botanicals. Zucca is a mainstay in Milan, where you can find it at none other than the popular café, Zucca in Galleria, which was inaugurated in 1867. With notes of cardamom, vanilla and a slight smokiness, experiment with Zucca in scotch, mezcal, or even coffee. (NC Code 63-863) Cardamaro: If you’re still hesitant to grab a bottle of amaro, Cardamaro will change your mind. This is more of a vermouth (wine infused with herbs and fortified with alcohol) than an amaro, but still full of flavor and versatility. Produced in Canelli, Cardamaro infuses blessed thistle and cardoon. It then sits in new oak for up to six months. This brief repose gives the vermouth a slight touch of spice. Make sure to store Cardamaro in your fridge after opening or it will spoil within the week. Earlier last year, I met Jake Parrott, sales manager for Haus Aplenz, when he hosted a vermouth seminar in Raleigh that was put on by wine distributors Bordeaux Fine & Rare. It was there I enjoyed my first taste of Cardamaro. Jake recommended substituting the wine-based amaro in place of other popular vermouths, such as Dolin Rouge. His next recommendation got me thinking. “Swap out your rye whiskey and sub this in,” he offered. Indeed, it was a great idea. A Manhattan may be too much spirit for some to handle, but with this sleight of bottle you have a smooth little brother to one of the best cocktails ever created. OH Tony Cross is a bartender who runs cocktail catering company Reverie Cocktails in Southern Pines, N.C. He can also recommend you a vitamin supplement for the morning after at Nature’s Own.

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

“Dr. Farless and the staff at Graham E. Farless, DDS, PA are highly respected professionals who provide excellent dental service in Greensboro. They are good communicators, who take the time to listen to each patient’s dental needs to provide the most effective and appropriate service. As a long time patient, I highly recommend Dr. Graham Farless to anyone moving to Greensboro or considering a new dentist.” -John

2511 Oakcrest Ave, Greensboro, NC 27408

www.gsodentist.com

February 2016

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Keep Your Eye on the Fox Sparrow

Birdwatch

The winter visitor is known for its beauty and brawn

By Susan Campbell

Sparrows are a common sight all over

North Carolina throughout the winter. Historically, eight different species could be found in a day across most of the Piedmont. The house sparrow, one of the most gregarious, prolific and adaptable of sparrows, was added to the mix in the 1800s by early settlers, who yearned to see a bird from the Old Country.

At this time of year, the largest and, to my eyes, the handsomest of all the sparrows is the fox sparrow. But how frustrating that so beautiful a species also happens to be one of the hardest to spot. That’s because it is so easily camouflaged in thick vegetation. It is typically over 8 inches in length and very stocky, with bold and distinctive rufous streaking on its underparts. From the top of its head down to the very tip of its tail, the fox sparrow sports a “foxy” reddish hue. A number of subspecies groups exist all across the United States and Canada, differing in plumage, traits, range and voice. Those found farther west tend to be brown all over. The fox sparrows that we see this time of year are true winter visitors. They breed from northern Ontario east to Newfoundland and south into parts of Nova Scotia. When they move south in the fall, they often end their The Art & Soul of Greensboro

long journey in North Carolina around October. They seem to flock loosely with other sparrows and finches during the colder months. They prefer habitat immediately adjacent to water. Although they eat mainly insects during the summer, during the winter seeds and berries tend to make up the majority of their diet. Because of their size, fox sparrows are quite strong. As a result, they can uncover food that is buried deep in the forest floor. They will actually use both feet together to scratch and dig beyond the reach of other small birds. Your best bet for seeing a fox sparrow is in the expanses of bottomland forest, where you should look for them kicking up vegetation and debris for food. However, there are lucky backyard birdwatchers that regularly observe them taking advantage of millet and other small seeds under their feeders. During very cold and wet weather, they may move further into drier areas in search of a meal. For years, I rarely saw them unless it snowed. That’s because the lakeside property where we lived at the time was too open to appeal to them. Nowadays, in our new abode near bottomland forest, I’m in the middle of prime fox sparrow habitat. I hear their warbling song on warm days and catch them searching for small seeds under my bird feeder. So keep your eyes peeled if you are out in wet habitat or under your feeders after a mid-winter snowfall — you may be treated to a glimpse of one of these handsome and powerful birds. OH Susan would love to receive your wildlife sightings and photos. She can be contacted by email at susan@ncaves.com. February 2016

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Breathing Lessons

The Harp From Dreamland Discovering the Sacred Infinity Inside Each Song

By Ashley Wahl

It’s simple, really. Not something

I thought much about. I just woke up one morning with an impulse to learn to play the harp.

Of course I knew nothing about the instrument. I’d never even touched one. But the vision of playing one haunted me like a Siren’s song and before I knew it, I was on a quest of fulfilling a dream that had seemingly materialized out of thin air. Plink. I knew I wasn’t looking for a harp so large it would require a dolly or a minivan to transport. I wanted something small, approachable. An instrument you might imagine in the lap of a traveling bard. After watching countless YouTube videos, many posted by a nymph of a woman who adapts contemporary tunes for her metallic blue electric lever harp, my heart was set. I, too, wanted to play seaside, beneath the twisted branches of a quiet forest — enveloped by the natural world. Within a matter of weeks, FedEx delivered a 19-string pixie folk harp to my front door. She’s a beauty. Thirty-one inches high with an inlaid rosewood frame that looks like something straight out of Middle-earth. I admired her with the wonder of a child looking upon a newborn sibling. Although it took me an hour to replace the string I broke during my first attempt at tuning, I promised to be patient with myself. Besides, I hadn’t played an instrument since sixth grade, an awkward year spent navigating the middle school hallways with a trombone and a mouthful of braces. In

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

high school, I joined the chorus. Which leads me to what sparked this crazy impulse in the first place: singing. For as far back as I can remember, singing has been my tonic of choice. And so it was on my last visit to Asheville when, having spent the night picking out harmonies during a jam session with my ukulele-playing brother, I woke from a deep sleep on the living room couch with a desire to learn how to play an instrument. Yes, the harp. And I wanted to sing while playing it. We are still learning one another, my pixie harp and me. Mostly I play chords to familiar songs, but remembering how to read music is on the horizon. The beauty of this venture is that it’s all my own — and all at my own pace. My favorite song to play is still the first one I learned, a contemporary folk song with wistful lyrics and a plaintive melody that has the lulling effect of a carousel. I picked out the simple piano riff, and once I had the notes down, was ready for the next leg of the journey: playing and singing at the same time, a meditative practice that feels, to me, a bit like flying. I have spent hours in this seemingly timeless state. One summer evening, while I was practicing beneath a stand of pines in a nearby park, the wind began playing my harp, creating the most ethereal sound I’d ever heard. I dropped my fingers from the strings, closed my eyes and listened, grateful to have a glimpse into a world that felt both distant and omnipresent. In that short, sacred infinity, I felt like the harp had chosen me. OH When she isn’t playing among the trees, Salt Magazine senior editor Ashley Wahl is prone to wander. February 2016

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Opus 2015-2016

CONCERT SERIES

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!

GROUP

CONCERT DATE

TIME

Sunday, November 1, 2015

3 PM

Dana Auditorium, Guilford College 5800 West Friendly Avenue

Friday, November 6, 2015

7:30 PM

Dana Auditorium, Guilford College 5800 West Friendly Avenue

Choral Society of Greensboro Jon Brotherton, Conductor

Saturday, November 7, 2015

7:30 PM

Christ United Methodist Church 410 North Holden Road

Greensboro Percussion Ensembles Mike Lasley, Conductor

Friday, November 20, 2015

7:30 PM

Trinity Church 5200 West Friendly Avenue

Marimba Christmas Andrew Dancy, Conductor

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

7 PM

Trinity Church 5200 West Friendly Avenue

Greensboro Oratorio Singers Jay O. Lambeth, Conductor

Thursday, December 3, 2015

7 PM

Carolina Theatre 310 South Greene Street

Greensboro Youth Chorus Ann Doyle and Teresa Allred, Conductors

Sunday, December 6, 2015

5 PM

First Presbyterian Church 617 North Elm Street

Greensboro Youth Jazz Ensemble Wally West, Conductor

Sunday, December 13, 2015

3 PM

Greensboro Historical Museum Auditorium 130 Summit Avenue

Sunday, February 14, 2016

6 - 8 PM

Sunday, March 6, 2016

3 PM

Greensboro Concert Band Evan Feldman, Conductor

Saturday, March 19, 2016

7:30 PM

Dana Auditorium, Guilford College 5800 West Friendly Avenue

Philharmonia of Greensboro Peter Perret, Conductor

Saturday, April 30, 2016

7:30 PM

Dana Auditorium, Guilford College 5800 West Friendly Avenue

Greensboro Youth Jazz Ensemble Wally West, Conductor

Sunday, May 1, 2016

3 PM

Greensboro Historical Museum Auditorium 130 Summit Avenue

Greensboro Youth Chorus Ann Doyle and Teresa Allred, Conductors

Monday, May 2, 2016

7 PM

Christ United Methodist Church 410 North Holden Road

Friday, May 6, 2016

7:30 PM

Page High School Auditorium 201 Alma Pinnix Drive

Saturday, May 7, 2016

7:30 PM

Christ United Methodist Church 410 North Holden Road

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

7 PM

Friday, May 13, 2016

7:30 PM

Philharmonia of Greensboro with Special Guest: Danville Symphony Orchestra

Peter Perret, Conductor Greensboro Concert Band Evan Feldman, Conductor

Greensboro Big Band, Sweet Sounds in partnership with Canterbury School; includes dancing 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 Concert Band Evan Feldman, Conductor Choral Society of Greensboro Jon Brotherton, Conductor Greensboro Percussion Ensembles Mike Lasley, Conductor Greensboro Brass Ensemble Kiyoshi Carter, Conductor

For details about the concert programs: www.greensboro-nc.gov/OPUS 336-373-2549 • music@greensboro-nc.gov • www.facebook.com/cityarts1

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February 2016

LOCATION

Canterbury School, Berry Hall 5400 Old Lake Jeanette Road Lindley Recreation Center 2907 Springwood Drive

Trinity Church 5200 West Friendly Avenue Greensboro Historical Museum Auditorium 130 Summit Avenue New, unwrapped toys are being collected for FOX8 Gifts for Kids. The Art & Soul of Greensboro


February 2016

Sheller

for Mary Ann Eskridge Though her skin has turned to rice paper, her breathing shallow and sometimes labored, she climbs the weathered stairs and crosses the long boardwalk that leads to sand and sea. At her back, the old lighthouse rises from the grassy ground surrounding the Coast Guard station, emitting every ten seconds, four one-second flashes of light. And scattered across the dunes, sea oats bob their blades to the crash of waves while gulls wheel and cry above the sheller’s bowed head, her slight frame covered by a coat so heavy she staggers at first, beneath its weight. Yet she keeps going, buffeted left and right by a chill wind, winding her way to where a thin layer of shells — angel wings and Scotch bonnets, pen shells and olives — rests near the shoreline. And some days, if she’s lucky, she finds a whole sand dollar with its Star of Bethlehem pattern, the five doves hidden within this delicate disk released only after the shell is broken, but she will not break it. She will carry it home in her pocket, picturing all the while those unseen birds — their fragile wings spread as if they are, already, in flight. —Terri Kirby Erickson

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The Magical Man of the Cloth Inside designer Bill Brewer’s imaginative world of costumes

By Nancy Oakley

B

ill Brewer insists he’s just a storyteller. But rather than words or a clever turn of phrase, his toolbox’s contents consist of pencils, paints and fabric. For about thirty years, Brewer has been designing costumes for theater, ballet, opera and television. His credits include San Jose Civic Light Opera’s 1989 production of Sweeney Todd, starring Jean Stapleton; the popular revival of Peter Pan with Cathy Rigby; not to mention productions for San Francisco Opera, San Francisco Ballet, Pittsburg Ballet Theatre and several regional repertory companies. As director of Costume Programs for UNC-School of the Arts’ School of Design and Production, Brewer brings his experienced hand not only to the classroom, but to Triad Stage as well. Local theatergoers will recognize his designs in this season’s Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and last year’s All’s Well that Ends Well and The Snow Queen. Just how does a costume go from concept to an actual article of clothing? “Every process begins with the text, with the script,” Brewer says. “What is the reason for the story to exist? And what do we as storytellers hope to accomplish by telling this story?” Then comes the process of character analysis for each character in the play. “Who they are, where they come from — you have to understand their lives. Not just the snippet of life that’s being told in the story, but the expanse,” Brewer explains. Crucially, he must think of the fictitious characters as real human beings to design appropriate clothing for them. He engages in detailed research to realize an appropriate look. “Some characters are stylized, some are very real,” he says. “The choice to put someone in a patterned shirt or solid shirt is not without consequence. It’s not just a matter of what shoes fit, but which are the correct shoes for this character?” For a production of Sheridan’s 18th-century comedy, The School for Scandal, Brewer emblazoned in block letters on the period costumes descriptors such as “snob,” “gossip” or “bumpkin” to reveal the characters’ true personas. “The characters are so self-absorbed, so involved with themselves they don’t see beyond themselves in that moment,” he offers. Little wonder his designs were included in the gallery exhibit at World Stage Design in Toronto in 2005. The Snow Queen presented different challenges: Performers had to portray

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The Art & Soul of Greensboro


Into the Woods

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Still Life with Iris

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Better Days animals, humans and godlike creatures in “a very visual way.” Brewer’s solution? Puppets — for which he has held a lifelong fascination and affection. A fter consulting with the director and other designers responsible for sets, lighting, wigs and makeup, Brewer will select fabrics, which might involve a buying trip to New York. Then he will start sketching, perhaps with watercolor, gouache, colored pencils, or even collage. “Sometimes it’s much less about a drawing than other ways of expressing ideas,” he says. And the designer is adamant that his sketches are, in themselves, not works of art, but a step in a process, “a contract” that his concepts will be realized on stage. “I’m contributing to something that, when all the pieces are put together, in the time of the performance, becomes art,” he maintains. Interpersonal skills are essential to Brewer’s work, more so than for other theatrical designers. After all, “the wall on the set doesn’t care what color it’s painted,” he observes. But an actor? “The performer is a living breathing human entity. A thoughtful one with opinions,” Brewer says. “The real crux of my job is to aid the performer in telling the story.” Sometimes that requires adjusting the costume design to an actor’s interpretation of a character, or to his or her body type — not an uncommon modification given that casting often occurs after the design has been sketched. Once it is final, costume technicians will sew, fit and finish the garments. This month, theatergoers can see Brewer’s realized designs under the spotlight at Triad Stage’s Radiunt Abundunt, a new, play by director Preston Lane (see page 13).“Triad Stage is a real jewel for this community,” the designer says, as much for the quality of its theater as for the professional credits the company offers his advanced design students at UNCSA. Next month, Brewer’s expertise will be on stage again in Sweeney Todd by Playmakers Repertory in Chapel Hill — his fourth production of the play over the arc of his career. Which leads one to wonder: Does he have a favorite, a show of shows, among his long and impressive list of credits? With a faint smile, he reveals, “It’s always the next one.” OH Nancy Oakley is O.Henry’s senior editor. The Art & Soul of Greensboro

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The Snow Queen

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Ain’t Misbehavin’

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

February 2016

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What Greensboro Gave the World

M

The surprising things Greensboro gave the world

ore than a century ago, Greensboro’s proximity to multiple railroad lines first earned it the proud monicker of Gate City. Since then, two Interstate highways, with a third in the offing, and a FedEx hub at its international airport, have opened even more doors to markets all over the world, both large and small. So it’s little surprise that the list of things made in Greensboro is a long one — from brawny Volvo and Mack trucks to the sleek HondaJets; from hand-battered okra at Biscuitville to exotic Twining teas; from Winston and Salem cigarettes (now made right here at Lollilard) to interactive gas pumps manufactured at Gilbarco. Of course, those aren’t the only homegrown enterprises that made it out of the gate. Here are some other products, services and talents that are, or were, certifiably O.G. — Original Greensboro.

By Billy Ingram

Acid Test

In 1969 Buffalo Creek overran its borders, flooding a warehouse for the Cone White Oak plant with chemically charged wastewater. Faced with tons of spotted, unevenly washedout fabric, someone had the bright idea to market it, and a new fashion statement was born, the acid-washed jean. Today the White Oak plant produces high-quality selvage denim on shuttle looms from the 1940s for trendy jeans that retail for as much as $300.

“I’d Toddle a Mile for a Camel”

Joe Camel was one of the most notorious and effective ad campaigns of all time, starring a grotesque illustrated pitch-thing that bore an uncanny resemblance, presumably not by accident, to Joe Sixpack with a suggestively oblong-shaped head puffing on a cigarette. Trone Advertising began featuring the jet-setting lunkhead with the junkhead in a series of print ads in 1988. Before long you couldn’t avoid Joe Camel’s freakish mug staring out from magazines, billboards and beach blankets. The AMA argued this cartoon approach was all about winning the hearts and minds of our children, an idea reinforced when a study discovered youngsters associated Joe Camel with Camel cigarettes in higher numbers than link Mickey Mouse and The Disney Channel. The schlong-faced schlub’s all-access pass to our eyeballs expired in 1997, not the first party animal to get in trouble for corrupting the youth of America.

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February 2016

Winning

Joe Louis Dudley Sr. and Eunice Mosley were Fuller Products’ (no relation to the Fuller Brush Company) door-to-door salespersons when they met and married in 1961, settling in Greensboro where he’d earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from N.C. A&T. In 1967, the Dudleys blended and bottled a line of shampoo and beauty products formulated especially for AfricanAmerican hairstyles that would eventually be sold through salons across the country. They were so prosperous the company ultimately bought Fuller but kept the Dudley name. Joe Dudley, a Horatio Alger Award recipient, told CNN: “I don’t have anything against people who sell their company. But I didn’t build my company to sell it. I built my company as an example of what you can do with difficulties in life. In first grade I was labeled mentally retarded, and the teachers told my mom and everybody else that I would never get anywhere. Now I want to show young African Americans that they can run a business too. So at Dudley we spend a lot of time being a role model, sometimes to the detriment of our own business.”

Fast Casual

Made-Rite Sandwiches was located on Battleground for half a century. Known for its pimiento-cheese and chicken-salad sandwiches squeezed into plastic triangles, the company also packaged ready-to-eat hot dogs and ham biscuits. Former employees still rave about the familial atmosphere, the respect and loyalty that extended from the very top down. After a bomb threat was communicated in the 1960s, the distressed but undeterred owner called each employee at home to inform them of the situation, then awarded everyone who showed up a $100 bonus.

It’s in the Sauce

When the Bavarian-esque environs of Boar and Castle welcomed diners in the late 1920s, it was situated at the end of a dirt road, on West Market where it meets Walker. That curb-hopping hot spot was a beacon for teens and cruising college kids, as much for the party in the parking lot as the cheap eats. What gave the hand-cut fries, juicy Castleburgers and signature Butter Steak sandwiches their unmistakable zip-zing was Leon Thomas’ signature sauce, which he began bottling in the mid-fifties. The restaurant was an anachronism by 1980 but Boar and Castle Sauce, made from a 100-plus-year-old-recipe, was a flavor unique to Greensboro, but is still in good taste anywhere. I prefer Samson’s Sauce myself. In the ’60s it was first mixed up in a backyard bunker in Old Irving Park by The Art & Soul of Greensboro


Gurney Boren. You had to order months in advance, never knowing when the brewmaster might get motivated to mixing up another vat. Gurney was a true character during a time when that was considered a compliment. By the 1970s word had spread so far and wide about his peppery concoction with the comical label (“Also used for baldness, hangovers, aphrodisia and amnesia”) that orders were pouring in, overwhelming the poor guy. Still difficult to find today, but well worth the hunt, Samson’s Sauce tastes as tangy as it did forty years ago.

A Leg Up on the Competition

Mock, Judson, Voehringer Hosiery began weaving sheer, sleek Mojud silk stockings — “Magic Motion” for a “New Hue New You” — with fourteen employees in 1926. Within three years 600 employees were producing upwards of 4 million pairs of elegant seam-up-the-back nylons at 2610 Oakland Avenue off Spring Garden, near the railroad tracks. The company kept expanding throughout the ’30s. This was a time when the public display of a woman’s bare ankle was considered, well, nothing short of uncouth. So hosiery was de rigueur for ladies. In a 1947, MJV filed suit against Esquire magazine for trademark appropriation. The mill had, from the beginning, been using the Esquire name for scarves, neckties and mufflers. The case was settled to the satisfaction of all in 1951. At that time, they were the largest hosiery maker in the South during the ’50s. Mojud’s assets were sold to KayserRoth in 1961. The plant was shuttered in 1972, but the Rolane Factory Outlet Store continued to be run out of a corner of the mill for almost three decades.

“The Eyes and Ears of the Piedmont” Around dinnertime on August 18, 1949, WFMY-TV broadcast a test signal from its tiny Art Deco studio at 210 North Davie. It was the state’s first live video broadcast. A regular schedule got underway a month later with programming from all four networks and strong emphasis on local nighttime fare including Sports Page with Charlie Harville and Six-Gun Playhouse for the kiddies. With only around 1,200 sets in the viewing area, it was an audacious undertaking. Advertisers were seemingly already well-served by two daily newspapers and several established radio outlets (including one owned by WFMY). Once Channel 2 was on firm footing, larger more modern studios were built on Phillips Avenue in 1955. Furthering its commitment to local coverage The Good Morning Show debuted two years later, making it one of the longest-running television shows in the nation, for almost sixty years — more popular locally than anything the networks could throw at it.

In a Nightclub at 1910 East Market Street

In the documentary My First Name Is Maceo, drummer Melvin Parker recalled a chance meeting in 1963, when he and his brother were music students at N.C. A&T: “I was working with a group at a club called The El Rocco. During one of the per-

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

formances . . . James Brown liked the way I played and wanted to hire me to work with him. But of course I didn’t go with James Brown at the time.” It was a year later when Melvin and his brother, alto saxophonist Maceo Parker, met with James Brown in the Greensboro Coliseum parking lot to sign on with the JBs. In his autobiography Brown confessed, “I really wanted Melvin but I figured I had to hire Maceo, too, if I wanted to get his brother. I didn’t know what I had got!” What he got was a funked-up horn section like no other, fueling a string of Gold Records beginning with “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag,” “I Got You (I Feel Good)” and “Sex Machine.” Maceo’s halting staccato sax solos provided the thrill and thrust for the Godfather of Soul’s legendary live concerts, assuming the role of both comic emcee and rhythmic lifeline whenever Brown chose to shout “Maceo!” before tossing the spotlight over to him. Having earned his bona fides during James Brown’s most revered period, Maceo Parker left in 1975 to colonize George Clinton’s P-Funking Mothership before re-joining James Brown from 1984 to 1988. Maceo currently records and tours with his own band, and in October of 2011 was inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame.

Free Samples

Richard Spencer jammed alongside Melvin Parker in El Rocco’s raucous house band. In 1969, as singer/songwriter for The Winstons, Spencer scored a Grammy Award–winning No. 1 smash with “Color Him Father,” an uplifting but unflinching testimony record from 1969 that effectively bridged the gap separating rap and melody. So it’s not at all ironic that six seconds of a drum solo from “Amen, Brother” on that 45’s B-side, lifted and looped in the 1980s, spread like a percussive contagion, imprinted onto innumerable DJ Dubplates, becoming one of the most sampled break beats in history. That drum lick became known as the Amen break, hip hop’s primordial backbeat, the sonic underpinning for NWA’s “Straight Outta Compton,” Public Enemy’s “Bring the Noise,” Mantronix’s “King of the Beats” and who knows how many thousands of others. As artist and writer Nate Harrison explained in 2013, “It has been used as the rhythmic backdrop in everything from late ’80s gangster rap to corporate America’s recycling hip-hop forms to sell things like Jeeps and blue jeans to suburban America. Just last week I saw a TV commercial for a pharmaceutical company where this drum beat was used to promote some sort of purple pill. It’s been used so much I might argue it has now entered the collective audio unconscious and did so about three or four years ago.” Naturally Richard Spencer, who owns the track, never earned his share of the billions of dollars generated from an untold number of pirated needle drops.

High Pockets

Mellow Mushroom does business at 609 South Elm now, but it was Harrison Grocery in 1904 when Charles C. Hudson began producing his bib overalls on the second floor with sewing machines purchased from the bankrupt clothier where he’d found work years earlier as a button sewer earning a quarter a day. Hudson’s durable, hand-made coveralls were especially coveted by railroad workers and trains stopped here day and night. Blue Bell Overall Company grew in fits and starts and did so quickly, becoming the city’s biggest garment maker and one of the largest overall mills in the world not long after Charles Hudson and his brother Homer erected their L-shaped factory on the corner of Elm and Lee. That’s where the first Wranglers in heaviest Sanforized denim with the branded leather patch and bright orange stitching came off the line in 1947. At that time, Wrangler’s marketing efforts concentrated on sponsoring rodeos and winning endorsements from hard-charging champions like Jim Shoulders, Bill Linderman and Harry Tompkins. They February 2016

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were the cowboy’s brand of choice when Western movies were all the rage, nicely positioned when jeans became ’50s’ fashionable after Marilyn, Monty and Marlon cavorted across the silver screen in denim. Snug fitting, highwaisted dungarees practically defined the rockabilly style, “Red Blue Jeans And A Pony Tail” was Gene Vincent’s overly excited paean to a “crazy little cat” in a pair of tapered Wranglers with white stitching. Despite ever-expanding global competition, by focusing on innovation and comfort Wrangler Cowboy Cuts are more popular than ever. That shouldn’t surprise anyone. After all, this isn’t their first time at the rodeo.

From Uncool to McCoul’s

Rows of “pretty girls” at El-Rees-So, and women on seven nearby assembly lines, were hand-rolling so many stogies by 1922, some 90 million a year, the Gate City was crowned cigar capital of the region, biggest exporter between Baltimore and Tampa. Bunching and wrapping tobacco for 10-cent smokes was a profession dominated by females; most manufacturing downtown was, but in this case it would have been scandalous if a lady actually used the product she was making. The James Dean generation, cigarettes dangling from pouty lips, considered stogies uncool, daddy-o. The change in attitudes was so profound and swift, a thriving local industry was extinguished in 1955 when the last El Moro was boxed on the northeast corner of Greene and McGee; a year later a factory that once employed 300 was razed for the parking lot you’ll see in front of McCoul’s.

Pipe Dreams

If you find your life going down the sewer, it’s likely to do so via products made by the Pomona Terra-Cotta Co., largest manufacturer of clay drainage pipes in the South, fired and glazed in giant beehive shaped kilns. Incorporated in 1886, the company constructed a tract of blockhouses made of wood and red clay for the predominantly black workforce at their Terra-Cotta foundry. A second foundry with a living community, Pomona, was built closer to town off Spring Garden with a mostly white labor pool to forge manhole covers and cast iron wheels for the cars that rolled the pipes in and out of kilns. In March of 1962, four workers were killed at the Terra-Cotta plant when a boiler room exploded, a blast so strong it flipped railroad cars off tracks and rained debris for half a mile. Rescue efforts were hindered by a towering smokestack that threatened to topple over on the scene. Newspapers across the globe ran a spectacular photo of the smokestack being dynamited. That event signaled the beginning of the end for Pomona and the Terra Cotta neighborhood that serviced it. Worker dwellings were razed soon after, and the company land they occupied given over to industrial endeavors. In the midst of one of Greensboro’s busiest corridors, behind Green Ford, there still stands a shaded cluster of what were then privately-owned homes and a church, sitting in silent testimony of a multigenerational neighborhood that once thrived between West Market and Wendover.

Hackin’ It

They didn’t invent the cough drop. That was the Smith Brothers in 1852 whose suppression recipe originally involved morphine and heroin. No, it was until 1931 that Vicks, riding on the success of its croup-busting Vaporub sale, first compounded here in 1891, came out with two new products: Vicks V-tronol Nose Drops and Vicks Cough Drops, “medicated with ingredients of Vicks Vaporub.” An immediate hit, the cough drops sold more than 25 million packages in its first year. Over the years, hundreds of million of boxes of Vick’s

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Wild Cherry flavored menthol lozenges spat out from plants on Milton Street and on Wendover across from Latham Park. Proctor and Gamble owns the brand now, and still manufactures versions of Vick’s NyQuil here.

Naughty by Nature Boy

When Ric Flair entered a steel cage for his match against Harley Race at the Greensboro Coliseum on November 24, 1983, he was grappling for more than a championship belt. He was ushering in a new era. After that night, professional wrestling would be irrevocably transformed. Starrcade ’83, the first pay-per-view all-star wrestling card, was Jim Crockett’s boldest promotion to date, an attempt to capitalize on the astronomical revenues that live video feeds of boxing matches were generating. Although based out of Charlotte, Crockett chose Greensboro for that historic broadcast because he knew the crowd would be the largest and most vociferous. They were: More than 15,000 screaming fans dropped half a million dollars at the Coliseum box office alone that night. The precursor to WWE’s WrestleMania had a lasting effect. The future of championship wrestling would forever more be about chasing the biggest bucks.

Sock It To Me?

In the ’50s, Burlington Industries became the first textile company to advertise on network TV, sponsoring hour-long specials starring Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and series like The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In. That and other factors helped Burlington to become the largest textile company in the world, first to pass the $1 billion mark in sales. In 1971 they turned heads in the Piedmont when they moved into their eye-catching, ultra-Moderne glass-and-girder office building on Friendly, where the Shops are now. Before that the company inhabited the stone monument on North Eugene that later functioned as the Department of Social Services before making way for the ballpark. Burlington may be best remembered for its socks, especially argyle ankle-warmers, almost as well-regarded as Gold Toe, a product the town of Burlington can lay claim to. In March 2004, Burlington Industries merged with Cone Mills to create International Textile Group. Licensed to another Gate City firm, Kayser-Roth, Burlington Socks turned heads once again, generating controversy in 2014 for a series of online ads with nudity, euthanizing grandpa and incest as their themes. No, really. They did.

Seventy Years Ago in a Drugstore Back Room

The flavor mavens at Mother Murphy’s Laboratories have developed thousands upon thousands of distinct notes for your favorite soft drinks, seasonings, lattes, cereals, candy, ice cream, pretty much anything you can think of — even your dog’s dinner. It all began in 1946 when Dr. Richard Stelling, a Greensboro physician with a passion for concocting flavors in his basement lab, teamed up with insurance agent Kermit L. Murphy Sr. to supply extracts for local bakeries. In the ’50s they marketed their first vanilla flavor to the public. As the food and beverage industry mushroomed over the next two decades, the company grew exponentially. As long as there are new innovations driven by a demand for flavorful components, like infused liquors, or stranger demands —jelly beans that mimicked, among other things, Bernie Bott’s Everry Flavor Beans in Harry Potter books — Mother Murphy’s will continue to be the world leader in good taste. The Art & Soul of Greensboro


The Day Disco Died

Grimsley and UNCG alum Rick Dees was L.A.’s top morning radio personality for two decades. He had his own late-night show on ABC in the early 1990s and is perhaps best-known for Rick Dees Weekly Top 40, a Casey Kasemless countdown show heard around the nation. Before any of that, he wrote and recorded Disco Duck (with his Cast of Idiots) while working at WMPS AM in Memphis. That multiplatinum chart-topper sold more that 6 million copies, but the station wouldn’t let their morning man play it, considering it a conflict of interest. Then, they fired Dees for daring to mention the song’s rise to No. 1 on the air. Your Drive Time DJ has the fastest selling single in memory and you can him? Jealous, much?

The South’s First Mobile Librarians

In 1906 Greensboro’s first stand-alone library, said to be one of most beautiful in the country, was housed in an imposing NeoClassical palace with Italianate flourishes and cathedral windows that deluged the rooms with light from on high. Located at the southwest corner of what is now Friendly and Commerce, this richly appointed athenaeum was bankrolled by Andrew Carnegie. In a basement room, the Greensboro Historical Museum got underway in 1925 (it would eventually move to another house of worship and its current site, the former First Presbyterian Church). A year later the first bookmobile south of Maryland was puttering around town with a side panel that popped up to offer easy access to rows of books. God bless West Market Street Methodist, but they demolished not only this treasured library building but also the streamlined Art-Deco bus station across the street.

Hunka Hunka Burning Love

Glascock wood- and coal-burning heaters, sturdy four-footed iron potbellies, were warming homes since before the turn of the last century, undoubtedly still doing so even though the foundry on West Lee ceased operations over fifty years ago. Fuel-burning stoves and ranges stamped with some two dozen signatures — Blue Ridge, Piedmont, Carolina Pride, Victor Junior, Tar Heel — were also forged at Glascock, first in a shack out back on Lewis Street, and then in 1924, in what would grow into a very large complex with 130 employees. In the ’30s, 10,000 stoves a year were being loaded onto boxcars, in addition to castiron pots and skillets. After the widespread advent of electric and natural gas lines, folks were no longer inclined to run outside and chop a cord of kindling to brew a cup of coffee. Glascock’s foundry closed in 1964. The last of its inventory was sold in 1968. Those magnificent appliances, highly sought-after collectables now, were built to last, but all too often met their fate rusting away in countryside backyards after Sears delivered the family’s new Sunshine Yellow Kenmore. A portion of the plant on Gate City Boulevard near Aycock still stands, repurposed as storage units. The rest was demolished for the UNCG / Coliseum parking lot.

Kenneth, What Is the Frequency?

When Pomona Cotton Mill closed in 1950, Western Electric bought the cavernous enclave for the production of hydrophones for underwater motion detection and top-secret military electronics. Employees couldn’t discuss the specifics about what was being developed off Merritt Drive even with their families, rumored to be advanced missile technology in the’60s. (If you just read that . . . this magazine will self-destruct in five seconds.) Because of this highsecurity facility and the tank farm by the airport, Greensboro was reported to be secondary target if the Russians ever launched their nukes. After Western Electric vacated the property, it became the Cotton Mill Square Mall.

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Going, Going, Gone: By Kevin Reid

“Take care of your lawn & garden. We have gardening tools, plant food, insect spray, grass killer, etc. We have just about everything you might need. Just ask.” So reads the chalk inscription on a blackboard, the last remnant of a Greensboro mainstay: Coe Grocery and Seed on South Elm Street. In December, the store quietly closed its doors for the last time. For the last eighteen, Bill Brooks owned and operated the establishment.“The Coes were at several different locations,” he says, “But their store was always at the 500 block of South Elm — and always on the east side.” The business was founded as Coe Grocery in 1902 by two brothers, Charles and Jesse Coe, at 513 South Elm Street. Jesse eventually went into the construction business. Charles could be found behind the counter, selling seeds, plants, produce grown by the family, along with grocery and notions until 1936, when he died. After that, his sons Charles Jr. and Oman operated the store under the supervision of his widow, Mamie Johnson Coe. “The Coes and their employees produced their own vegetable seed, which they sold at retail,” Brooks says. “The plants that grew from these seeds also sold at retail. They would use some of the plants to grow the produce they sold.” Brooks, who shopped at Coes since early adulthood, says Charles Jr. and Oman “knew the grocery business; they knew the agri-business; they knew the whole operation.” But you can’t run a successful business without thorough planning and record keeping, he says. “They were very focused on customer satisfaction, which they achieved.” So much so that the store outlasted several grocery stores that once proliferated in the neighborhood Both of these Coes were married, but did not have children. Oman chose to sell the business after his brother died in 1979. Carlton Fields, who had worked at establishments such as McNeil Farm Center in the area, purchased the store and operated it until Brooks took over. Downtown developer Milton Kern has fond memories of the store: “I became familiar with Coe Grocery when Carlton Fields got in,” says Kern. “When my superintendents would come to the office, they always had to go across the street to Coe Grocery. It was a community hangout. You never knew who was going to come in the door.” Since 1977, Brooks operated New South Trading Co., selling military collectibles and other merchandise at 517 South Elm Street. He also worked part-time at Coe’s until he bought the business on February 16, 1998. “Between the Coes, Carlton and me, we can claim local ownership for 113 years,” he says. Like his predecessors, Brooks would weigh the vegetable seed on a scale built by Charles Coe Sr. in 1922. As modern supermarkets took over, Coe Grocery changed its name to Coe Grocery and Seed and altered its mix of merchandise. But the dedication to customer service remained constant. “Learn the customers’ names, learn their preferences, and be courteous and respectful to everybody,” Brooks says. “I had a very diverse group of customers, from people down and out, people sleeping under bridges to extremely wealthy individuals,” he recalls. “I’ve got literally hundreds of friends, buddies and acquaintances from running this place. That’s what I’ll miss the most.” OH Kevin Reid bought tomatoes from Coe Grocery and Seed for fifteen years. January 2016

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Story of a House

Mod Man Creating mid-century style on a shoestring By Maria Johnson Photographs by Amy Freeman

L

ast June’s issue of the magazine Atomic Ranch: Design Ideas for Stylish Ranch Homes included this homeowner’s thumbnail of his mid-century Modern home: GREENSBORO, NC My beautiful brick and redwood ranch was built in 1959. From the sunroom, you have a panoramic view of a koi pond lined with lilies, a slate patio and a curved porch. Interesting features include a cool retro kitchen with a vintage Litton Micromatic glass-top range set against a sunburst-patterned ceramic tile backsplash. Light streams through the wall of windows in the living room, which is furnished with mid-century Modern furniture and accessories from my 20-year collection. Viko Baumritter to Heywood Wakefield, Wegner to Eames, they all have found a place and help to make my house a marvelous midcentury Modern home. Eric Woodard The paragraph lay next to photos of a warm, modest ranch house in a woodsy setting. Readers who were familiar with Greensboro might have tried to guess the location.

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Was it Hamilton Lakes? Old Starmount? The Dellwood Drive area? Benbow Road? Dudley Street? Nope to all of the above. Woodard’s atomic ranch is nestled in O.Henry Oaks, a 1960s-era neighborhood framed on one corner by N.C. Highway 29 and Cone Boulevard in northeast Greensboro. It’s a paycheckto-paycheck area that pings faintly — if at all — on the map of local mid-century Modern enthusiasts. Hipster it ain’t, but the area is affordable and chockfull of ranch homes, which is why Woodard happened upon it when he went house-hunting in 2013. He knew he wanted a mid-century home — one that was born in the same post — World War II period as Baby Boomers. He knew he wanted to live in Greensboro, which had been his home for nearly twenty years. And he knew what his credit union was willing to lend him. He looked at a ranch home in High Point, but it had too much yard to maintain. He was fond of homes on Eugene Street and Marlboro Street in southeast Greensboro, but each carried a deal breaker. He briefly thought that a ranch in Kernersville would work out, but a visit with his real estate agent proved the commute was more than he wanted. Disheartened, Woodard sought solace one night on a real estate website where a new listing had just popped up in O.Henry Oaks. “I didn’t know anything about the neighborhood,” he says. He drove by the house the next morning. The Art & Soul of Greensboro

“It looked like a forest, a nature preserve. It was overgrown in the front and back. It had been empty for over a year,” he says. He peeked through the windows. “I fell in love with it,” he says. “I was like, ‘This is the one.’” A visit with his agent later that day revealed more to love inside the one-owner home. It had hardwood and slate floors, a fieldstone fireplace, exposed beams and a mostly original kitchen that was in good shape. The back of the house had a spacious addition, along with a blue slate patio and koi pond with fish that a neighbor had been feeding. “Those things jumped out at me as being on the upper scale on living I’d envisioned — but on a dime,” says Woodard, who works as a courier when he’s not occupied with the truck-conversion business he started with a friend. Later, Woodard learned that the house had belonged to a couple named Catherine and A.H. Harley. Cathy was an avid gardener; she maintained a greenhouse in the backyard. A.H. invented a plumbing fixture that made pipe insulation. He held several patents. The couple bought a second home in Florida and sank some money into improving their home in O.Henry Oaks. Decades later, as Eric Woodard walked around the empty shell, he could feel the couple’s care and style. He made an offer on the three-bedroom, bath-and-a-half home, which was listed at $68,000. Before the seller could accept his offer, another offer landed. Woodard ratcheted up his offer to beyond the asking price. February 2016

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The seller accepted. Finally, after years of living in apartments and, for a short while in a Winnebago motorhome in his cousin’s backyard in Greensboro, he had the perfect place to display the mid-century furnishings that he’d been collecting and storing since his days as a design student at N.C. State University. He cataloged his finds and his philosophy in a 2011 self-published book, Thrifty Chic: How to Live Like a Million Bucks and Create Your Perfect Designer Space Without Breaking the Bank. “I have learned over the years that having a small budget does not preclude you from being able to enjoy quality vintage upscale designer furnishings and accessories,” he writes. Over the years, Woodard has gleaned an impressive collection from thrift stores, flea markets, dollar stores, curbside castoffs, and the spares of family and friends. His first purchase was a classic chair — aptly known as The Chair — designed by Hans Wegner and manufactured by Johannes Hansen of Denmark in the mid-1950s. Woodard, still a student, found it at a flea market at the state fairgrounds in Raleigh. He paid $10 for it and scurried away feeling guilty. “As I walked away with my treasure . . . I was expecting to be arrested at any moment for having paid only $10 for it,” he wrote in his book. His second piece wasn’t a purchase at all, but a save. He was doing a work-study job at a campus theater when he saw the metal frame of a butterfly chair in a heap destined for the trash. He carried the frame to his apartment. Later, he paid $20 for a new canvas seat in a discount store. Today, the butterfly chair occupies a spot in Woodard’s den, near several

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treasures: four Haywood Wakefield dining chairs that he found at Value Village, a Greensboro thrift store for $3 each; a Viko Baumritter dining table that set him back $25, also at Value Village; a fiberglass-shell Eames chairs that was “maybe $10” at Carolina Thrift Store in Greensboro; and a squared-edged sofa with nubby floral upholstery — a signature piece — that he found at Habitat for Humanity’s local ReStore. The couch was priced at $25 when Woodard first saw it. “I wasn’t paying $25, so it sat there, and sat there, and sat there,” says Woodard, who finally got the sofa for $15. Patience. An eye for quality. A vision of what will fit your style. These are necessary to decorate a house the Woodard way. “If you’re looking to put together a room or a space in one day, you’re out of luck. If you’re looking for authentic period pieces, it’s going to take longer,” he says. It also takes some flexibility around the edges. A good example is Woodard’s living room, which contains Lane Altavista end tables, a sleek credenza with sliding louvered doors and a coffee table with tapered legs notched at the top — genuine period pieces. The room also contains a more modern-day sofa that came from Woodard’s niece, splashes of African art and a geometric wood screen that came from Value Village. “Technically, they wouldn’t be mid-century Modern, but they work,” says Woodard, who moved to Greensboro in 1994 for a girlfriend and, after the relationship ended, stayed here for his church and new friends. He honors many of those friends on a white-painted brick wall that juts into an alcove in his home. Woodard, a former sign designer, has created a “donor tree” with colorful strips of old louvered blinds. Each donor gets his or her name stuck to a brick in the wall. “Thank you to those who helped to make my dream a reality,” a strip at the top reads. The Art & Soul of Greensboro

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The donor tree is a conversation starter, just like many of the pieces in Woodard’s home. Some visitors flash back to their childhoods when they see the flock of brass seagulls on the living room wall, or the sunburst wall-hanging in the den, or the shiny red Anholt boomerang ashtray in the same room. A couple of Woodard’s friends call him Ricky Ricardo, for his devotion to the style of decor seen in I Love Lucy television shows. Woodard, 49, learned the style from studying books and magazines. Though he was born in the Lucy era, he did not grow up in a ranch home. His mother, father, two brothers and sister lived in a clapboard home in Wilson. His father worked in a mill that made expensive cabinets and furniture. “My mom would take us with her sometimes when she had to pick dad up from work,” Woodard writes in his book. “I remember seeing those company trucks leaving, loaded with furnishings. I would imagine them heading for installation in someone’s super luxurious home.”He goes on: “That sparked in me a desire to acquire more upscale furnishings later in my adult life. Remember, though, I grew up with a mindset of thrift.” So, instead of buying a hanging lamp to hover over his dining room table, Woodard made one with a translucent placemat that he rolled into a cylinder and braced at top and bottom with discs cut from a grid-like plastic needlework canvas. The lamp’s simplicity fits the mid-century look and spirit. “The only things I have bought new are the bedspread in the guest bedroom, one throw rug and some pillows,” he says. With economy of line and wallet, Woodard has furnished a marvelous retro refuge. “I enjoy just being able to come in and relax in this atmosphere,” he says. “It’s my haven. That’s what I called the place. Haven.” OH The Art & Soul of Greensboro

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The Art & Soul of Greensboro


The Chinese Year of the Monkey dawns on February 8. People born in a monkey year are gregarious, witty and highly intelligent. Of course they’re also mischievous and fond of practical jokes.

By Rosetta Fawley

Crepe myrtle blooms are said to be lucky flowers for Year of the Monkey people. Late winter/early spring is a good time to plant a crape myrtle while they’re dormant, so add some to your garden for the Monkeys that you know. Single crepe myrtles make wonderful focus points, or invest in a large number and plant an avenue for a floral, shaded walk or driveway. There’s a wide array of choice out there, from dwarf varieties to 30-foot-high giants. Be sure to choose plants that are appropriate to the space you have available. All crape myrtles need full sun and good drainage. Even a few hours of shade will encourage mildew. Make sure plants are well watered before you put them in. A little mulch will help them retain moisture as they adjust to their new home. In the long term please remember that it is completely unnecessary – and unsurprisingly also harmful – to prune crape myrtles back into pathetic stumps each year. If you’re in a city center or your garden is on the miniature side there are small varieties that do well in containers. Acoma is a graceful white tree that reaches about 10 feet tall and will grow in a large container. Pocomoke, a bright pink dwarf variety, gets to about three feet high and wide and makes for a colorful accent when planted in a pot. How about a picnic under the Muskogee? It sounds romantic, doesn’t it? Indeed it is, being a vigorous growing tree with pale lavender-colored flowers and leaves that turn red in the fall. Muskogee is a variety that will top 25 feet if left to its own devices. If it’s the peeling bark you enjoy, look at Tuscarora, Biloxi, Miami and Natchez. Whichever you choose, put it in a good spot for an outdoor feast. If you’re in the market for something in-between–sized, opt for semi-dwarf 12 feet that come in a glorious spectrum of whites, pinks, reds and purples. Our recent cold snaps and our heavy humidity suggest that those gardening inland might want to look at cold-hardy, disease-resistant types: Try Zuni for gorgeous purple blooms, great fall coloring and that lovely peely bark for which crape myrtles are famous. Zuni is a hybrid of the subspecies indica and fauriei. The latter is a Japanese subspecies, and perhaps it is no coincidence that the Japanese word for the tree is saru saberi, meaning “monkey slip,” because of that attractive shiny bark. The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Here are some Monkeys with February birthdays. There are eight of them listed, because that’s a lucky number for Monkeys. Johnny Cash (February 26, 1932) Charles Dickens (February 7, 1812) Christina Ricci (February 12, 1980) Molly Ringwald (February 18, 1968) Elizabeth Taylor (February 27, 1932) François Truffaut (February 6, 1932) Alice Walker (February 9, 1944) John Williams (February 8, 1932) For a more unusual primatethemed plant, consider Araucaria Araucana, better known as the monkey puzzle tree. Native to Chile, its charming name coined in the eighteenth century by Charles Austin, was who commented of its spiny form that it would puzzle a monkey to climb it. Monkey puzzles are suited to North Carolina’s hardiness zones, being intolerant to extreme cold. They like full sun and even moisture. Their dramatic shape makes a great focal point in a large garden. Keep in mind that they reach over 70 feet tall and have a spread of around 35 feet. They’re slow growers, though, so plant one to puzzle future generations of Chinese zodiac Monkeys. Putting the monkey business aside for a moment: February is the month to start planting vegetable seeds. Keep them indoors or covered until they’re established and spring has sprung. You can sow cabbage, carrots, leaf lettuce, green and bulb onions, radishes, rutabagas, spinach, turnips and dwarf and trellis peas. Tomatoes too. It’s easy for trays to dry out quickly in arid winter air, especially indoors, so do remember to keep soil moist.

In February by Alice Meynell (1847-1922)

Rich meanings of the prophet-Spring adorn, Unseen, this colourless sky of folded showers,  And folded winds; no blossom in the bowers;  A poet’s face asleep in this grey morn.  Now in the midst of the old world forlorn  A mystic child is set in these still hours.  I keep this time, even before the flowers,  Sacred to all the young and the unborn.

To all the miles and miles of unsprung wheat, And to the Spring waiting beyond the portal,  And to the future of my own young art,  And, among all these things, to you, my sweet,  My friend, to your calm face and the immortal  Child tarrying all your life-time in your heart.  February 2016

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76 O.Henry

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February 2016 Hue Knew?

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Februrary 1 KINDER SPIEL. 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. and 5 –7 p.m. (snow date, February 8). Learn everything about registering your child for pre-K or kindergarten from a representative of the Guilford County Schools at “Kickoff to Kindergarten.” High Point Museum, 1859 East Lexington Avenue, High Point. Info: (336) 885-1859 or highpointmuseum.org. February 1–8 PLAYTIME. The 14th annual Greensboro Fringe Festival, featuring new plays, ends its run. Stephen D. Hyers Studio Theater, 200 North Davie Street, Greensboro. Info: greensborofringefestival.org. February 1–28 ART MOVEMENT. Or more appropriately, movement in art. See In Motion, inspired by the work of UNCG’s Department of 78 O.Henry

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Smart Art

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Kinesiology. Weatherspoon Art Museum, 500 Tate Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 3345770 or weatherspoon.uncg.edu. February 1–March 24 HUE KNEW? Color your world at It’s All About the Hue, featuring the works of Donald Martiny, Carolyn Nelson, Margie Stewart and James Williams. Greenhill, 200 North Davie Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 333-7460 or greenhillnc.org. February 1–April 17 LAND HO! Images of industrialization, deforestation and atmospheric pollution inform Reclaiming Nature: Art and Sustainability. Weatherspoon Art Museum, 500 Tate Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 3345770 or weatherspoon.uncg.edu. MILLE FIORE. Visiting Falk artist

Dear Diary

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Rosemarie Fiore demonstrates a love of color and playfulness in Firework Drawings. Weatherspoon Art Museum, 500 Tate Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 334-5770 or weatherspoon.uncg.edu. February 1–May 1 ARTISTAS. See the interplay of ideas across the Americas in Pan American Modernism: Avant-Garde Art in Latin America and the United States. Weatherspoon Art Museum, 500 Tate Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 3345770 or weatherspoon.uncg.edu. February 3 CARRIE A TUNE. 7 p.m. Or several — in a 360-degree configuration. Country siren Carrie Underwood brings her Storyteller Tour — Stories in the Round to town. Greensboro Coliseum, 1921 West Gate City Boulevard, Greensboro. Tickets: (800) 7453000 or ticketmaster.com. The Art & Soul of Greensboro


February Arts Calendar

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AUTHOR, AUTHOR. 7 p.m. Meet poet Ray Whitaker, author of 23, 18. Scuppernong Books, 304 South Elm Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 763-1919 or scuppernongbooks.com. TWANG BY LANG. 8 p.m. Enjoy the blues, gospel and rock inflections from troubadour Jonny Lang. Carolina Theatre, 310 South Greene Street, Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 333-2605 or carolinatheatre.com. February 3–7 LAST LAP. Triad Stage’s production of VROOOMMM! Janet Allard’s play about a female NASCAR driver crosses the finish line. Performance times vary. Triad Stage, 232 South Elm Street, Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 272-0160 or triadstage.org.

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

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February 4–6 THE PONG SHOW. There’ll be a lot of bouncebacks at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Table Tennis. Competition times vary. Greensboro Coliseum, 1921 West Gate City Boulevard, Greensboro. Tickets: (800) 745-3000 or ticketmaster.com. February 5 WESTIES. 6 p.m. Meaning, West African culture emissaries, SUAH African Dance Theatre, who will perform traditional and contemporary routines at First Friday. Greenhill, 200 North Davie Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 333-7460 or greenhillnc.org. AUTHOR, AUTHOR. 7 p.m. Meet local author Ross Howell Jr., who will read from and sign his novel Forsaken at its official launch. (See more, page 25) Scuppernong Books, 304 South Elm Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 763-1919.

Idol Billy

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February 6 ALL TOGETHER, NOW. 1–4 p.m. Costumed interpreters bring to life local African American figures at Lifted Voices, presented in conjunction with the celebration of Warnersville: Our Neighborhood, Our Stories, which closes 2/14. Greensboro Historical Museum, 130 Summit Avenue, Greensboro. Info: (336) 373-2043 or greensborohistory.org. LIDS FOR (HISTORY) LOVERS. 2 p.m. Choose to wear a wacky, unusual or creative hat — or not — at the Mad Hatter’s Valentine Tea, a fundraiser for the High Point Historical Society. High Point Museum, 1859 East Lexington Avenue, High Point. Tickets: (336) 885-1859 or highpointmuseum.org. TWO DO. 6 p.m. Here’s to books, wine and community! Raise a glass at Scuppernong’s February 2016

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Arts Calendar second anniversary party. Scuppernong Books, 304 South Elm Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 763-1919 or scuppernongbooks.com. February 7 FAMILY TREE-SEARCH. 3 p.m. “Intro to Afro American Genalogoy” addresses specific concerns of African Americans in tracing family histories. High Point Library, 901 North Main Street, High Point. Info: (336) 883-3637 or ncroom@highpointnc.gov. Februrary 10–14 THE GREATEST. Show on Earth, that is. Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey presents Legends, featuring a unicorn, Pegasus and a woolly mammoth. What? No lions, tigers and bears? Performance times vary. Greensboro Coliseum, 1921 West Gate City Boulevard, Greensboro. Tickets: (800) 7453000 or ticketmaster.com. February 12–March 12 SMART ART. Color takes the lead in Impressions, featuring the works of local painter Libby Smart and Charlottebased pastel artist Becky Denmark. Tyler White O’Brien Gallery, 307 State Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 279-1124 or tylerwhitegallery.com.

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February 13 TOAST MASTERS . 8 a.m. Chow down on some French toast served up in the Harvest Room, with bistro music providing ambiance — for just $5. First come, first served. Greensboro Farmers Curb Market, 501 Yanceyville Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 373-2402 or gsofarmersmarket.org. BUTTON UP! 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Literally. Costumed interpreters demonstrate how to make buttons from thread (cost of a button is $1 each). High Point Museum, 1859 East Lexington Avenue, High Point. Info: (336) 885-1859 or highpointmuseum.org. LUMINARIES. 10 a.m & Noon. Meet leaders of the Harlem Renaissance and Palmer Institute alumni at “Palmer Personalities:

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Arts Calendar A Silent Theatre Tour.” Charlotte Hawkins Brown Museum and Foundation. 6136 Old Burlington Road, Gibsonville. Tickets: (336) 449-4846 or chb@ncdcr.gov.

Food & Dining

FAVE FAUVES. 2 p.m. Join a reception for a monthlong exhibition of colorful Fauvistesque paintings by Deborah Luper, a high school English teacher-turned-painter. Tate Street Coffee House, 334 Tate Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 275-2754 or tatestreetcoffeehouse.com. February 13–21 DEAR DIARY. An icon of the Holocaust comes alive in Community Theatre of Greensboro’s production of The Diary of Anne Frank, an adaptation of the original stage play by Wendy Kesselman. Starr Theatre, 520 Elm Street, Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 333-7470 or ctgso.org. February 13–June 12 WILLEM THE CONQUEROR. Considered the prize in Weatherspoon’s permanent collection, Willem De Kooning’s Woman heralds the artist’s foray into Abstract Expressionism. See what his contemporaries were creating in De Kooning and Company. Weatherspoon Art Museum, 500 Tate Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 3345770 or weatherspoon.uncg.edu. February 14 AUTHOR, AUTHOR. 3 p.m. Meet novelist Cynthia Strauff, author of Another Sunday. Scuppernong Books, 304 South Elm Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 763-1919 or scuppernongbooks.com. February 14, 28 LAGOONY ’TOONS. 3 p.m. For just $7 cruise Lake Townsend aboard a pontoon and observe waterfowl, courtesy of Greensboro Parks and Recreation. Lake Townsend Marina, 6332 Lake Townsend Road, Greensboro. Info: (336) 373-3741 or greensboro-nc.gov/lakes. February 15 ROOTS. 10 a.m. Rosa and Bill McNairy take the spotlight at a Historical Guild meetThe Art & Soul of Greensboro

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Arts Calendar ing to share anecdotes about their family, whose Guilford County roots trace back to 1700s. Greensboro Historical Museum, 130 Summit Avenue, Greensboro. Info: (336) 373-2043 or greensborohistory.org.

Health & Fitness

February 16 ART CONQUERS ALL. 7 p.m. In spite of age, infirmity and squalid living conditions, Peter Anton prevails through his art, as the documentary Almost There illustrates. Carolina Theatre, 310 South Greene Street, Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 333-2605 or carolinatheatre.com. February 17 BYE-BYE, BISON. 10 a.m. At a High Point Museum Guild meeting, historian Mike Vaughan presents, “The case of the vanishing Carolina Bison — who dun it?” High Point Museum, 1859 East Lexington Avenue, High Point. Info: (336) 885-1859 or highpointmuseum.org. COLORFUL LANGUAGE. 5:30 p.m. Artists Carolyn Nelson and Margie Stewart discuss the importance of color in their work, on view at It’s All About the Hue. Greenhill, 200 North Davie Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 333-7460 or greenhillnc.org. February 18 CHIC-Y. 6:30 p.m. It isn’t merely animation, it’s art. See Oscar-winning Chico & Rita, a love story set in 1950s Cuba, with an irresistible jazz soundtrack. Hear live jazz afterward by UNCG students. Weatherspoon Art Museum, 500 Tate Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 334-5770 or weatherspoon.uncg.edu. February 19 WINDMILLS OF HIS MIND. 7 p.m. Good knight! Settle in for “An Evening With Don Quixote: A 400-Year Anniversary.” Scuppernong Books, 304 South Elm Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 763-1919 or scuppernongbooks.com. February 19–20 BOUND FOR GLORY. 8 p.m. Or not? Nine women expect a smooth ride to the

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Arts Calendar hereafter in the one-act gospel play Glory Train. Upstage Cabaret at Triad Stage, 232 South Elm Street, Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 272-0160 or triadstage.org. February 20 MATLOCK’S MELODIES. 6:30 p.m. As in Benjamin Matlock Quartet, headliners for O.Henry Jazz Series on Select Saturdays. O.Henry Hotel, 624 Green Valley Road, Greensboro. Info: (336) 854-2000 or ohenryhotel.com. HONK-Y TONK. 8 p.m. Traffic bandmember Dave Mason recreates faves such as “Feelin’ Alright” and “We Just Disagree” at Dave Mason’s Traffic Jam Tour. Carolina Theatre, 310 South Greene Street, Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 333-2605 or carolinatheatre.com. February 21–March 13 ARTFUL ACTS. Outsider art takes center stage in Radiunt Abundunt, a new play by Preston Lane. Showtimes vary. Triad Stage, 232 South Elm Street, Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 272-0160 or triadstage.org. February 22 STATE’S EVIDENCE. 6:30 p.m. Learn the ins and outs of using the N.C. State Archives for historical research, courtesy of Larry Cates. Heritage Research Center, High Point Public Library, 901 North Main Street, High Point. (336) 883-3637 or highpoint-nc.gov. February 23 CLIFT-HANGER. 7 p.m. Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr make waves, Montgomery Clift fights back by not fighting, and Frank Sinatra brings Oscar-worthy chops in From Here to Eternity (1959). Carolina Theatre, 310 South Greene Street, Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 333-2605 or carolinatheatre.com. February 24 AUTHOR, AUTHOR. 7 p.m. Meet historian John Cox, author of To Kill a People: Geonocide in the Twentieth Century. Scuppernong Books, 304 South Elm Street, The Art & Soul of Greensboro

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Arts Calendar Greensboro. (336) 763-1919 or scuppernongbooks.com. February 25 LAND OF LAVENDER. 10 a.m. Landscape architect Lee Rogers presents “Gardens of Provence.” Greensboro Council of Garden Clubs, 4301-A Lawndale Drive, Greensboro. Info: (336) 282-4940.

Februrary 26 & 27 NO PLACE LIKE HOME. 7 p.m. & 1 p.m. Literally. The play Un/Sheltered Lives, taken from actual conversations and interviews, addresses the issue of homelessness. A dinner precedes the Friday night performance. First Baptist Church, 1000 West Friendly Avenue, Greensboro. Tickets: in person or at fbcgso.org.

SPIRITED DISCUSSION. 6 p.m. Greensboro Public Library hosts a discussion about Isabel Allende’s House of Spirits, in conjunction with the Pan American Modernism exhibit. Weatherspoon Art Museum, 500 Tate Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 334-5770 or weatherspoon.uncg.edu.

February 26–28 FLOAT-ILLA. Skiffs, wake boats, pontoons . . . grab your life vest, it’s time for the Central Carolina Boat & Fishing Expo. Times vary. Greensboro Coliseum, 1921 West Gate City Boulevard, Greensboro. Info: (336) 373-7400 or greensborocoliseum.com.

February 25 & 27 DREAMY. 8 p.m. See “Winter Dreams,” a video collage of paintings with Greensboro Symphony providing a soundtrack of Tchaikovsky’s symphonic works. Dana Auditorium, 5800 West Friendly Avenue, Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 335-5456, ext. 224 or greensborosypmphony.org.

February 27 SPIRITED FILM. 2 p.m. Now that you’ve read the book, catch the film adaptation of House of Spirits. Hemphill Branch Library, 2301 West Vandalia Road, Greensboro. Info: (336) 334-5770 or weatherspoon.uncg.edu.

February 26 IDOL BILLY. 7:30 p.m. Hey Girl(s), he is tonight — and pretty good at drinkin’ beer, too. Hear country star Billy Currington. Greensboro Coliseum, 1921 West Gate City Boulevard, Greensboro. Tickets: (800) 7453000 or ticketmaster.com.

KING OF HEARTS. 7 p.m. As in, the late Matthew Sullivan. His passion for his nephew, Nick Larose, born with a congenital heart defect, spurred Hands for Hearts, which helps children in similar straits. Deal a royal flush — of hearts, naturally — at the organization’s Casino Night. Greensboro Country Club, 410 Sunset Drive, Greensboro. Tickets: handsforhearts.org/casino-night.html.

Mussels, Wine & Music Tuesdays HOLY ROCK ’N’ ROLLERS. 3:30 p.m. Let the spirit move you at the largest Christian music tour in the world: Winter Jam Tour Spectacular. Greensboro Coliseum, 1921 West Gate City Boulevard, Greensboro. Tickets: 2016jamtour.com. February 28 AUTHOR, AUTHOR. 3 p.m. Meet Poet Richard Krawiec and Friends for a reading from Intimacy. Scuppernong Books, 304 South Elm Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 763-1919 or scuppernongbooks.com. WEEKLY HAPPENINGS Mondays BUZZING. 10 a.m. Your busy little bees

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Arts Calendar 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) 574-2898 or gcmuseum.com. TALK IS CHEAP. Noon. Bavardez bien! Pardon our French and join 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; Family Storytime for all ages meets at 6:30 p.m. High Point Public Library, 901 North Main Street, High Point. Info: (336) 883-3666 or highpointpubliclibrary.com.

READ AND FEED. 3:30 p.m. The Edible Schoolyard combines literature and cooking for 3- to 5-year-olds with Book and Cook, featuring Pigs Love Potatoes, with oven-baked French fries with fresh herbs (2/2); Pete’s a Pizza, with mini pizzas (2/9); and Soup Day, with vegetable soup (2/16). Greensboro Children’s Museum, 220 North Church Street, Greensboro. To register (336) 574-2898 or gsoedibleschoolyard.wordpress. com/classes/. PICKIN’ AND GRINNIN’. 6 until 9 p.m. Y’all come for Songs from a Southern Kitchen: Laurelyn Dossett, Scott Manring and Alex McKinneyn (2/2); Alan Peterson and Alex McKinney (2/9); Molly McGinn with Wurlitzer Prize (2/16); Martha Bassett, Sam Frazier and Pat Lawrence (2/23). Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen, 1421 Westover Terrace, Greensboro. Info: (336) 370-0707 or lucky32.com/greensboro_music.htm. 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. 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 highpointpubliclibrary.com.

Thursdays TWICE UPON A TIME. 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 highpointpubliclibrary.com. ALL THAT JAZZ. 5:30 until 8 p.m. Hear live, local jazz featuring Neill Clegg and special guests in the O. Henry Hotel Social Lobby Bar: Stephanie with Neill Clegg and

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The Art & Soul of Greensboro

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Arts Calendar Dave Fox (2/4); Emma Vogelsinger with Neill Clegg and Dave Fox (2/11); Joey Barnes with Neill Clegg and Dave Fox (2/18); Jessica Mashburn with Neill Clegg and Dave Fox (2/25). 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 or tatestreetcoffeehouse.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 idiotboxers.com. Fridays THE HALF OF IT. 5 p.m. Enjoy the handson exhibits and activities for half the cost of admission at $4 Fun Fridays. Greensboro

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

— at the Idiot Box, 348 South Elm Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 274-2699 or idiotboxers.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 carolinahistoryandhvaunts.com/ information.

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.

Saturdays TO MARKET, TO MARKET. 7 a.m. until noon. The produce is still fresh and the cut fleurs still belles. Greensboro Farmers Curb Market, 501 Yanceyville Street, Greensboro. Info: gsofarmersmarket.org. 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

MISSING YOUR GRANDMA? 3 p.m. until it’s gone. Tuck into Chef Felicia’s skilletfried chicken, and mop that cornbread in, your choice, giblet gravy or potlikker. Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen, 1421 Westover Terrace, Greensboro. Info: (336) 370-0707 or lucky32.com/fried_chicken.htm. To add an event, email us at ohenrymagcalendar@ gmail.com by the first of the month prior to the event

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Worth The Drive to High Point Music City, USA Move over, Nashville. This month, the International City deserves the moniker of “Music City, USA,” as the High Point Theatre hosts several concerts spanning a variety of genres — pop, R&B, show tunes and Cajun. The series begins on February 5 with “Jimmy Webb: The Glen Campbell Years,” a retrospective from the songwriter whose imagination produced some of the best-loved ballads in a generation — “Galveston,” “Honey, Come Back,” and the haunting “Wichita Lineman.” But would those songs be as cherished today if Glen Campbell hadn’t literally given them voice and poignant interpretations? Webb shares recollections and behind-the-music tidbits of one of the most remarkable collaborations in pop music. The tunes shift from stirring to sultry on February 6 as Yolanda Rabun and Trio take the stage. Rabun’s roster of gigs with the likes of Isaac Hayes, the Isley Brothers and KEM are a testament to her musical chops. On hearing the first notes of her vocal stylings, you’ll agree: This lady puts the “ooh” in “smooth jazz.” And what would February be without some fine romance? Broadway’s “Phantom” (of Opera fame) Franc D’Ambrosio offers up a mix of lyrical and catchy tunes on Valentine’s Day. The lineup of “Franc D’Ambrosio’s Broadway” includes hits such as “What Kind of Fool Am I,” “Razzle Dazzle,” and “It’s Almost Like Being in Love.” But there’s no “almost” about it when the tenor launches into his signature number, “The Music of the Night,” from Andrew Lloyd-

Webber’s Phantom that will leave you rapt and weak in the knees. By February 26 Mardi Gras will have come and gone, but you can still laisser les bons temps rouler, because Grammy-Award winning Cajun band BeauSoleil avec Michael Doucet will be on stage. Or perhaps that should be Bow-Soleil, given Doucet’s lightning-fast strokes of his bow on fiddle strings. For forty years, the band has delivered a mélange of Cajun, Zydeco, country and Tex-Mex tunes that are impossible not to move to. So go ahead, Chers, put your p’tits pieds out on the dance floor and step to it this Leap Year. Tickets and Info: www.highpointhteatre.com. — Nancy Oakley

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February 2016

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Arts & Culture

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GreenScene

Evan Logan, Andrew & Sally Bowman

Collector’s Choice

The Gallery at Greenhill Saturday, December 5, 2015

Photographs by Lynn Donovan

Jeff Meyerson, Aparma Das

Tomietha Brown, Melissa Manion, Deborah Friedman, Dara Nix-Stevenson

Elizabeth & Ken Overbey

Pat & Beverly Wright

Jed & Gwyn Dunn, Nancy & Jim Bryan

Homer & Julia Wade, Renee Merlini

Drew & Terri McNaughton

Laura Wood, Phil Ambrose

Ben Knight, Vivian Howard, Jamey Presson, Philip Bullington Zack & Lauran Matheny

Ibrahim Said, Mariam Stephan, Joyce Chamblee, Kathy & Dan Campbell,

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Mollie & Art Winstead, David Craft

Orrin & Charles Pilkey

February 2016

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February 2016

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GreenScene Holiday Reflections

Bel Canto Company & Greensboro Youth Chorus Monday, December 14, 2015 Photographs by Lynn Donovan

Jim & Sue Keith Mengyan Wang, Chen Liu

Joyce & Larry Thee

Delancy Allred, Fiona Grant, Ann Doyle, Anisha Sharma

Levone Tobin Scott, Corey Bellis Moore

Bill Young, Jolynda Bowers, Christy Wisuthseriwong, Sarah Keith Chowning, Tandy Brown

Linwood Brooks, Taylor Fesmire, Joyce Brooks

Andrea & Ben Allen

Alicia, Emily, Nick & Ellen Archibald Emily & Heather Owens

Elaine & Isabel Gustafson, George Dimock

Teresa Allred, Ann Doyle, Cathy Connor

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Joanie Legette, Sally Wilson

MaryAnne Bolick, Bill Carroll

February 2016

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February 2016

The Art & Soul of Greensboro


GreenScene Greensboro Kwanzaa Collective Kwanzaa Celebration, International Civil Rights Center & Museum Saturday, December 26, 2015 Photographs by Lynn Donovan

Karim, Gail, Sonji & Joseph Anderson

Kosie Smith, Johr Raye, Ifasola Oluseguni, Ayodele Oyetunde

Kristine McNeill, Rakaya Nasir-Phillips

Tonya Poole, Dawn Hicks Tafari, Diata Nasir-Williams, Brenda Dalton James, Taliya Simmons

Jackie Sanders, Keisha McKane

Nadira & Zakia Allah Cyrah, Christina & Victoria Hardy Daniel Norman, Dey Tafari, Lori Norman

Shawn Foster, Jenna McMillan Naeemah, Mikela & Maya Anderson

Stacy & Daniel Creft & children

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

David & Patrice Carr

February 2016

O.Henry 99


GreenScene

Daniel Kanso, Kim Lantz

First Toast

Weatherspoon Art Museum 75th Anniversary Thursday, January 7, 2016 Photographs by Lynn Donovan

Mary & Tom Martin, Margaret & Bill Benjamin

Kenny Shulman, Helen Van Schive

Mac Sims, Cheryl & David Angel

Amanda Cox-Lucas & Richard Lucas

Mathilda, Elizabeth & Laurent Perrill, Gwen Erickson Bo Berntsson, Mary Bilotta, Charlotte Oleynik, Karine Thoresen

Dana Dunn, Bruce Conaway Nancy Doll, Lynn Wooten

Steve Kesselman & Mary Napier-Kesselman Sydney Gingrow, Roddy Hurewitz, Carolyn Schneider

Pat Lawrence, Martha Bassett, Sam Frazier

100 O.Henry

February 2016

The Art & Soul of Greensboro


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Old Irving Park

Starmount Forest

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Dover Square

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The Art & Soul of Greensboro

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O.Henry 101


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The Accidental Astrologer

Fault Lines

My obsession with monkeys’ paws and rattails By Astrid Stellanova

According to the Chinese zodiac, the Year of the Monkey

begins officially on February 8. Let me also share another astrological tidbit. According to my Eastern mystical sources, those born in the Year of the Monkey are attracted to Rat people. I don’t know if this explains my attraction to Beau, who is a true Rat person, but it sounds about right to my ear. After all, I do have the famous Monkey mind, which is why my business ideas are prone to fizzle before they get going. Shakespeare was wrong. The fault lies in our stars, dear readers. — Ad Astra, Astrid Aquarius (January 20–February 18) When the New Year rang in last month, you had a sobering time (well, didn’t we all, Sugar?) making sense of the previous evening. Some of your actions took you by surprise. Some of them took everybody at the party by surprise. In the heartache department, seems you set your cap for someone who is a hard dog to keep on the porch. Let’s just say give them free rein and see if they’re truly worth the worry. As Grandpa H. says, if that dog caught the car it couldn’t drive it anyway. They may not deserve you; you definitely deserve every good thing. Give yourself the kindness you grant others all year long. Pisces (February 19–March 20) When you finally realized what your true purpose in life is, you grew as sober as a Mormon preacher on Sunday morning. It has been a time of awakenings for you, Muffin, and some of them were rude. You have all the skills to cope; your true journey will take you places you never expected to go, doing things you never foresaw. Fasten your seat belt. Aries (March 21–April 19) You’re the first person friends turn to when they want to whine and dine, because your first inclination is to entertain and make others laugh. But what you need most is to surround yourself with a few truth-tellers who will help you on your soul’s journey. You don’t need an audience; you need counsel and a better road map for the quest ahead. Taurus (April 20–May 20) One thing you will like about 2016 is that money comes easier than normal for you. In fact, you are going to find yourself with enough greenbacks to burn a wet mule. The fat bank account you are going to enjoy is not going to compensate for some of the worries you have had, but it sure as the dickens will make them a little lighter. Gemini (May 21–June 20) You happen to befriend someone who is about as country as a bowl of grits this month; they wind up being a lot wiser than they sound and have some important wisdom to share. If you can keep your smarty-pants ego in check, you will be the wiser for it. They are a real gift from the universe, Baby. Cancer (June 21–July 22) Mama had a saying that I have never gotten over: Good girls don’t tat, smoke, chew, or date boys who do. Well, I’ve broken at least two of those rules. Does that make me a bad girl? Does breaking the social rules make anyone bad? I say it’s high time we all were less judgmental and more tolerant. You probably know exactly why I’m saying so, Honey. The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Leo (July 23–August 22) You’re just a sittin’ duck on the water and somebody has you in their sight line. Who have you trusted that didn’t deserve it? And how come you keep paddling out to the same pond? Your chart suggests this is unusual — if anything you are normally slow to trust others. Examine your motives, my Ducky. Virgo (August 23–September 22) Child, in my family, we have a running joke about the three-legged dog who traveled a minute in thirty seconds. But you are no joke — you are faster to the draw and the first to connect the dots this month. In business, this is going to give you a real advantage. In relationships, you will hold the aces and stun yourself. Libra (September 23–October 22) You are admired, and feared, for your integrity. But someone in authority needs to think they have the upper hand over you, even though they don’t, Sweet Cakes. This may require you to be a little careless with the truth and excessive with praise. To work, let me offer you this: Flattery is best laid on with a shovel, not a hand trowel. Scorpio (October 23–November 21) Everybody else sees it: Someone close to you never tires of singing their own praises. This poor soul is about as loud as a rooster and subtle as a bag of hammers. What they want most is your approval. Give in, Sugar. In order to have a little peace, let them know you hear them and stroke their frail little ol’ tail feathers and sagging ego. Sagittarius (November 22–December 21) Pepsi or Coke? Oreos or chocolate chip? Bourbon or beer? Why do we want what we want? And is there a right or wrong preference? Honey, it’s wonderful to say what we require in life, and don’t fear stating your wants, needs, or likes. It isn’t necessary to deny yourself of whatever floats your boat — stake your claim. Capricorn (December 22–January 19) A surprising journey is going to take you to some conclusions you don’t even have to jump to get to — this time they are real ones, as a matter of fact. This adventure could change old ideas about yourself, and open something new. Or, you can avoid change altogether and get more of what you already have. Ask yourself: Do you like the status quo that much? 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 2016

O.Henry 103


O.Henry Ending

Dear Pilgrim Fathers

By Cynthia Adams

I am long married to an immi-

grant who vowed his fealty to this Nation and memorized the finer points of the Constitution. He loves America because he views it as the most pluralistic place on earth; he values this diversity even more than the capitalistic ideal that has afforded him a good life.

Yet, we Yanks get twisted up in our sociological nickers sometimes with an American narrative that goes like this: “We” are fine. But YOU—the “Other” are not. The idea of the “Other” — discovered in a sociology lecture thirty years ago — can either be tolerated or rejected. A book titled Habits of the Heart started a national conversation about the value of individualism and our prized economic independence. Its author maintains that meaning derives from community and comes from service to others. The “Other” helps define the “Self.” My husband deeply loves the otherness of American culture. Otherness is as American as a Pilgrim buckle. My landlady, Karen Hassig, brought the message home for me while I was working in the Netherlands. She pointed me towards a museum outside Amsterdam. “There is a lot of information there about your Pilgrims,” she said, her mouth twisted to the side. “You know, they stayed here in Leiden before they sailed to America.” She pronounced America as if it were all in capital letters. Huh? Our Pilgrims holed up in HOLLAND? “It’s true,” Karen asserted. “We Dutch people are tolerant. Even of your religious crackpots.”  I spluttered. “Crackpots?” What I knew about Pilgrims was largely

104 O.Henry

February 2016

nursery-school and Thanksgiving fare: They braved great hardship for their religious views to become American icons and grace oatmeal boxes — er, wait. That was a Quaker. In a small huff I trudged to the Leiden American Pilgrim Museum. It was an education to revisit Pilgrims through Karen’s eyes: Pilgrims as religious extremists, strangely garbed in black, with inexplicable habits (Google “bundling” sometime) who were ill tolerated in much of Europe. They were “the Other.” Asylum seekers. Yet the Dutch gave them safe harbor. The sect spent years in Leiden, their last place of refuge, as dissenters. They were largely unwanted elsewhere, certainly in England, and remained in Holland from 1608 until 1620. What I had never before understood was that the Pilgrim Fathers were the original “Other.” True, Plymouth Rock wasn’t exactly a welcome mat, but the dissenters and the landing of the Mayflower changed our history. It was a pattern that would repeat with other religious persuasions, including those who deem themselves “Friends.” Since my Leiden experience, I smile warmly at the strange-looking man on the Quaker Oats box. We either respond to the ever-changing American experience with tolerance — (another word for love and human charity) — or we can pull the rock out from under the feet of future immigrants. The test of our mettle is to offer the “Other” the opportunity to become one of us. So, with each troubling headline, the conversation returns to this painful test: America must remind itself that democracy is organic. This imperfect, glorious experiment requires more than a little infusion of hope and tolerance — and love, if we are to be worth our oats as people. OH Cynthia Adams is a writer who loved going Dutch but prefers a one-size-fitsall nation. The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Illustration by Harry Blair

Are you Still Here?


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O.Henry February 2016  

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

O.Henry February 2016  

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

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