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LUNCH & LEARN April 15, 2020 11 a.m. - 1 p.m UNC Greensboro Elliott University Center Auditorium
LAILA LALAMI UNC Greensboro University Libraries hosts award-winning author, Laila Lalami, for an exclusive release and book discussion of Conditional Citizens, followed by a brief reception and book signing. The event is free and open to the public. RSVP required.
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March 2020 DEPARTMENTS 13 Simple Life By Jim Dodson
18 Short Stories 21 Featured Artist By Nancy Oakley 23 Life’s Funny By Maria Johnson
25 Omnivorous Reader By Stephen E. Smith
29 Scuppernong Bookshelf 31 Papadaddy
By Susan Campbell
47 Wandering Billy By Billy Eye
75 Arts Calendar 88 GreenScene 95 The Accidental Astrologer By Astrid Stellanova
96 O.Henry Ending By Nancy Oakley
By Clyde Edgerton
33 The Creators By Wiley Cash
39 The Pleasures of Life Dept. By Maria Johnson
FEATURES 53 Awoken
Poetry by Ry Southard
54 Renaissance Man
By Nancy Oakley Jan Lukens’ passion to paint
60 A Page out of History
By Bill Case The greatness of Walter Hines Page
63 First Class
By Billy Ingram How the Page Pirates got their swagger
64 Model Citizens
By Cynthia Adams For Fred and Kay Ayers, collections are the comforts of home
By Ash Alder
Photograph this page and cover photograph by Bert VanderVeen 8 O.Henry
The Art & Soul of Greensboro
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M A G A Z I N E
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97% of graduates say they are successful adults because of their Montessori education. Today, I graduated college (Cum Laude, woo!) and am soon moving across the country to start my career ... Looking back, it wasn’t high school that prepared me to become the woman I am today, it was my time at Greensboro Montessori School. Allie, Class of 2010 Facebook, May 5, 2018
As a pilot heading into the airlines to fly jets professionally, I give Greensboro Montessori School a ton of credit … My life wouldn’t be the same without the amazing environment, experiences, and wonderful faculty. Steven, Class of 2003 Facebook, November 14, 2019
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The Stuffed Potatoes Sustaining power of wise friends — and a good lunch
By Jim Dodson
Two or three times a month, we meet for lunch at a quiet bar of a local restaurant.
We catch up on news and work, talk about books we are reading and swap tales about the adventurous lives of our wives, grown children and grandbabies. Sometimes it’s history and politics that dominate the conversation. More often than not we share thoughts on life, love and matters philosophical. In a nutshell, we attempt to solve most of the world’s problems in the span of time it approximately takes to consume a couple of stuffed baked potatoes. That seems about right since the three of us always order the same items off the bar menu. Joe and I routinely order fully loaded stuffed baked potatoes while our worldly friend Pat — who prefers to be called Patrick — gets a fancy club sandwich. There’s always one in every crowd. Some time ago, I began calling our gathering The Stuffed Potatoes Lunch and Philosophy Club. Spud Buds for short. You see, we’ve known each other for more than half a century. Pat (as I call him) is my oldest pal; we grew up a block from each other and have spent years chasing golf balls and trout in each other’s company. Pat and Joe grew up attending the same Catholic church. But I got to know and like Joe in high school. To look at us, you might think we’re just three old geezers telling war stories in a booth. Technically speaking, I suppose we are “old” guys, though none of us thinks of ourselves that way in the slightest. We were born weeks apart in 1953 — Joe in January, me in February, Pat in March. What a banner year it was: Dwight Eisenhower became president and the Korean War ended. Hillary — the mountaineer — reached the summit of Everest. Elizabeth II was crowned Queen of England. Gas cost 20 cents per gallon. The first Corvette went on sale. Albert Schweitzer won the Nobel Prize. From Here to Eternity was the top Hollywood movie. Ian Fleming published his first James Bond novel, Casino Royale. Mickey Spillane was the king of crime fiction. Our mothers, bless their hearts — suburban housewives of the 1950s — knew what they were doing giving us simple 1950s names like Joe, Pat and Jimmy, names that fit us like a pair of Buster Brown shoes, names from a Mickey Spillane novel or a Burt Lancaster movie.
The Art & Soul of Greensboro
I’m guessing nobody these days names their kid Joe, Pat or Jimmy. Not when you’ve got so many exotic choices like Brendan, Rupert or Hamish floating around in the Millennial baby pool. Just to be sure what I’m talking about, I looked up the most popular male names for millennial babies in 2020. Michael, Christopher, Matthew and Joshua are actually the top Millennial male names for 2020. Daniel comes in fifth. That’s four Biblical names shy of a Christian baseball team. With a starting lineup like that, you could almost write your own New Testament — if Millennials bothered to go to church anymore. Joe’s the only one of us who has achieved exalted granddad stature. He and wife Liz have two, in fact. One’s in Durham, the other, Asheville. They go see them all the time and who can blame them for that? If I had grandbabies somewhere within shouting distance I’d burn up the highway just to make a proud and happy fool of myself every dang weekend. As of this month, we’ve all turned 67 years old. No applause necessary. Truthfully, it’s rather amazing how quickly this happened. Once upon a time, 67 sounded positively ancient to our youthful ears — one bus stop shy of the boneyard, as Mickey Spillane might say. The funny thing is, none of us feels at all ancient or even looks terribly old, according to our thoughtful wives and daughters. Then again, they might need new glasses. With age, however, comes a number of often unadvertised benefits. We’ve each buried family and friends, suffered setbacks and experienced comebacks, seen enough of life and sudden death — not to mention the drama of our own aging bodies — to know that bittersweet impermanence is what makes living fully so important and precious. To laugh is to gain a taste of immortality. Failed projects and busted business deals have taught us that there’s really no failure in this life — only reasons to get up, dust off our britches and try a different path. A new summit always awaits. Our faith has been tested and found to be alive and kicking, after all these years. We’ve learned that joy and optimism are spiritual rocket fuel, that divine mystery is real and the unseen world holds much more intriguing possibilities than anything we read about in the news, or watch on Netflix, Hulu or Amazon. Ditto the natural world of woods and fields and streams. It’s no coincidence that we share a profound love of nature, drawing comfort and wisdom from its many lessons. Joe, a forester by training, spends his days helping clients find and set aside wild lands for future generations to enjoy. He and Liz are dedicated wilderness March 2020
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hikers, walking encyclopedias of botany and flora, forever in search of new trails and unspoiled vistas when they’re not slipping off to see those beautiful grandbabies of theirs. Pat is a top businessman whose real love is the spiritual solitude of remote trout streams and the joy of chasing a golf ball around the highlands of Scotland with his oldest pal. He’s also a skilled bird-hunter but these days shoots only clays with Joe some Wednesday afternoons. Several years ago, Pat and Joe built a cabin on Pat’s land up in Meadows of Dan, Virginia. They set up cameras just to film any wildlife that happened by, cleared roads and got to know the locals. Since both are still working and have no plans to retire, that cabin became a way, as Joe puts it, “to reset our clocks — inside and out.” We take from nature, said Theodore Roethke, what we cannot see. As for me — a veteran journalist and writer who is busier than ever and shares their view of the dreaded R-word — I’m an “old” Eagle Scout, fly-fishing nut, bird-watcher and gardener who once spent six glorious weeks in the remote bush of South Africa with a trio of crazed plant hunters dodging black mambas and spitting cobras just to see the world’s smallest hyacinth and other exotic plants in the ancestral birthplace of the world’s flowers. The baboons, birds, springboks and elephants weren’t bad, either. I felt like a kid in a Rudyard Kipling tale. At that time, I also lived in a house I built with my own hands, on a forested hill near the coast of Maine. I also rebuilt the stone walls of a long abandoned 18th-century farmstead and created a vast English garden in the woods that nobody but family, friends, the FedEx guy and local wildlife ever saw. My late Scots mother-in-law, cheeky women, suggested I name my woodland retreat “Slightly Off in the Woods.” I called it my Holy Hill, my little piece of Heaven. My two children grew up there watching the seasons come and go, learning to look and listen to the quiet voices of nature. Today, one is a documentary journalist living and working in the Middle East, the other a top copywriter and screenwriter in New York City. Both claim they carry the peace of that Holy Hill with them in their hearts, and I believe them. I do, too. Maybe that’s what I love most about lunches with the Stuffed Potatoes. At a time of life when a lot of men our age lose their curiosity and zest for living, spending their days grumbling about sports, politics or the weather, we take genuine pleasure in each other’s company, swapping tales of life’s natural ups and downs while sharing wisdom for the road ahead. Joe has stories galore and the most infectious laugh you’ve ever heard. He was the fifth of nine kids, has 53 cousins and an uncle who became the voice of the American environmental movement. He’s always coming out with pearls of wisdom that I promptly write down. We call them “Joeisms.” Everybody has to be somewhere, he once observed about an a certain disagreeable fellow. I just don’t have to be there with him. Patrick is gifted with what the Irish call the craic — an ancient Irish word that means he can talk to anyone and entertain them royally while he’s doing it. He’s a master at solving complex problems and has quietly done more things that help teenagers and homeless folks than anyone I know. He’s also the only guy I know who’s probably read more books than me, which is really saying something. At least he hasn’t started writing them — yet. So we are three for lunch — the forester, the fisherman and the gardener. A fictional Forrest Gump got famous for saying that his mother once said that life is like a box of chocolates because you never know what you’ll get. I beg to disagree, believing a happy life is actually more like a gloriously stuffed baked potato because, the more you put in, the better it tastes. My Spud Buds, I suspect, would agree — even if one of them prefers the club sandwich. There’s always one in every crowd. OH Contact Editor Jim Dodson at email@example.com. The Art & Soul of Greensboro
Cape Lookout National Seashore
Congrats. You just found the historic lighthouse on the Crystal Coast. Now it’s time to BookTheCoast.com and visit North Carolina’s Southern Outer Banks.
southern outer banks
Short Stories Free Throws and Free Shows
March Madness is reaching fever pitch as the 2020 ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament, following on the heels of the 2020 ACC Women’s Basketball Tournament, returns to its true home. And with it, the tradition of years past, when offices and classrooms emptied — and restaurants, bars and the Coliseum parking lot filled up. Now, Downtown Greensboro is hosting an uptown Tournament Town Watch Party from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on March 12 outside the Steven Tanger Center for Performing Arts (North Elm and Abe Brenner Place). Stake a spot on bleachers, or bring a lawn chair, and enjoy free food and nonalcoholic beverages or bring a little brass for the cash bar. From noon to 5 p.m. on March 14 the party continues with the Tournament Town Downtown Festival (South Elm and Smothers Place near the railroad tracks), featuring local bands, food trucks a beer garden with Natty Greene’s and Little Brother Brewing’s frosties, and a children’s play area. And did we mention the free concerts? March 7 sees the Indigo Girls, in conjunction with the Women’s tourney at Piedmont Hall (2409 West Gate City Boulevard), while March 13 brings KC and the Sunshine Band at White Oak Amphitheatre (1921 West Gate City Boulevard). Look for Ogi O. gettin’ down that night! For a full roster of fun, go to tournamentown.com.
You’ll want to be up a creek March 28–April 4, Guilford Creek Week. Established to stress the importance and awareness of creeks and waterways flowing throughout the county, and the municipalities nearby, the initiative consists of a kick-off party in Greensboro featuring the Swarm, another in High Point with live animals and a creek crawl, water-themed activities at Greensboro Science Center, a discussion about the history of gold at High Point Museum. You can also look forward to guided hikes by Haw River Association and local Audubon societies, not to mention classes, workshops and the all important cleanups. Go ahead, get your feet wet! Info: guilfordcreekweek.org.
The Faces of a City
As you’re busting down the doors of Steven Tanger Center Performing Arts (300 North Elm Street), for Jay Leno’s act on March 22, slow down and check out the galleries — named for Dr. John and Barbara Lusk, and Susan and Joseph Nehman — flanking the East and West entrances at orchestra level. There, you’ll meet fellow Greensborians, the subjects of Greensboro Portraits. Curated by GreenHill’s Edie Carpenter, the exhibit consists of 10 paintings rendered in a variety of styles by five Gate City artists including Victoria Carlin Milstein, Steven M. Cozart and Juie Ratley III. Maybe it’s the start of a new genre, which we’ll call pop(ulation) art.
New Vision, New Venue
Calling all Fashionistas! Popular local retailers such as Simply Meg’s, Serendipity by Celeste Threads Boutique, House of Eyes and Monkee’s of High Point will showcase their new spring fashions at the 11th annual fundraiser for Restoration Place Counseling (RPC). Titled “Restoration Runway: A New Vision,” the show will debut its second decade at the Carolina Theatre (310 South Greene Street) on March 19. The change of venue will give the nonprofit the opportunity to host even more guests, who will enjoy a heart-pounding opening number and a high-energy runway show. In addition, attendees will relish the reception by 1618 On Location and bidding on silent auction packages including restaurants, entertainment and vacations. “Proceeds from the event will help subsidize more than 3,000 counseling sessions at RPC’s lowest rate,” says Executive Director Cindy Mondello. “We’re grateful for those who support our mission to restore dignity, virtue and honor to women through affordable and professional Christian counseling services.” Tickets: (336) 333-2605 or carolinatheatre.com. — Waynette Goodson
Worth the Drive to Winston-Salem
Though there are plenty of goings-on in the Gate City this month, we couldn’t not tell you about two must-sees down the road in the Twin City, now easily accessible from the recent reopened Salem Parkway. First up is BTHVN Rocks WS, a yearlong celebration of Beethoven’s 250th anniversary, which actually kicked off last month with a series of school recitals and concerts, and picks up March 1 with a piano recital at Piedmont Music Center (212 North Broad Street). Also, expect a dance recital at Hanesbrands Theatre (209 Spruce Street) and a screening of Immortal Beloved at UNCSA’s Main Theatre. Look for more events throughout the year at mbwspresents.org. And while you’re getting to know Winston-Salem, consider Piedmont Opera’s production of The King and I, a Rodgers & Hammerstein crowd-pleaser that will have you whistling a happy tune. Performances take place March 20, 22 and 24 at Stevens Center (405 West Fourth Street). Tickets: piedmontopera.org. The Art & Soul of Greensboro
That would be the late Sam Ragan, Pulitzer Prize nominee, North Carolina Poet Laureate, executive editor of the Raleigh News and Observer, the first secretary of Cultural Resources in North Carolina, the first chairman of the North Carolina Arts Council, and until 1996, owner of The Pilot newspaper in Southern Pines — which would go on to launch several magazines, including O.Henry. The wordsmith from the town of Berea in Granville County who acquired the moniker, the Berea Bard, is fully realized in Lewis Bowling’s new biography, Sam Ragan: North Carolina’s Literary Godfather (Carolina Academic Press, $29.95). The book chronicles Ragan’s rise through the literary ranks, starting with his foray into journalism in the 1930s, to his status as a ubiquitous Southern voice — primarily through the popular column “The Southern Accent” — that nourished the state’s literary scene. Speaking to the UNC Journalism Club in 1962, Ragan, who died in 1996, shared with the audience his advice to his reporters and writers “to write their stories just as they would go home and tell it to their wives or husbands. This story-telling quality is one of the things that has made the quality that marks the work of such excellent writers as Sherwood Anderson and John Steinbeck.” Thanks, Sam. We try. Info: cap-press.com.
Sauce of the Month
N.C. BBQ traditionalists might head for the hills when they hear about a Virginia native concocting a South Carolina–style sauce, but mustard and beer lovers will likely fire up their grills. Thick and chunky with onions and black pepper, aromatic with turmeric, Worcestershire and honey, Billy’s Slapp’N Mustard IPA BBQ Sauce is a condiment with a double bite — from smoky chipotle peppers and hoppy India Pale Ale. Since moving to Greensboro in 1987 from South Carolina, Bill Howland accumulated three smokers, countless grills and finally a whole-hog barbecue pit in his Starmount backyard. The Kayser-Roth veteran who now works at the Center for Creative Leadership spent years trying to develop a ketchup-based sauce, “but I just couldn’t get the flavor I wanted, so thinking about my days in the Lowcountry, I substituted mustard for the ketchup, made a couple of tweaks and Billy’s Mustard IPA Slapp’N Sauce was born.” The bottle says, “Slapp it on.” We agree. Available at the Extra Ingredient and other outlets. billysslappnsauce.com. — David Claude Bailey
Get ready for the third annual This CommUnity Sings, an event inspired by a YouTube video from Toronto-based Choir!Choir!Choir! that fosters, quite literally, harmony throughout the community. The joyful noise begins with a pre-show at 2 p.m. on Sunday, March 8 at the Carolina Theatre (310 South Greene Street). The repertoire includes “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen, “Respect” by Aretha Franklin and “Lean on Me” by Bill Withers, as well as a couple of surprise selections with warmup and rehearsal at 3 p.m., and videotaped and live-streamed singalong at 4 p.m.“We picked up a sponsor this year, Crumley Roberts Attorneys at Law, and plan to fill all 1,100 seats,” says committee co-chair Jessica Mashburn. “Singing ability is definitely not a requirement; just come out and enjoy the fellowship and celebrate the mosaic of our community.” Info: carolinatheatre.com. — Ogi Overman
Ogi Sez Ogi Overman
Normally I would pen some amateurish Ode to (Early) Spring here, but since we barely had a winter, let’s just dive into this month’s Top 5 offerings. Actually, it should be a Top 6, but unless you picked up this issue hot off the press, you missed Post Malone at the Coliseum March 1. Still, there are some must-see shows coming up that you music aficionados will want to put on your social calendar.
• March 4, Cone Denim Entertainment Center: At one time, Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes and the E Street Band were almost interchangeable, with even Springsteen himself performing with the Jukes on occasion. Incredibly, no fewer than 100 players may lay claim to having played with them over their 45-year career. Yet, here they are, still touring and recording, lo, these many years later. God bless ’em. • March 5, Carolina Theatre: Yes, I am quite aware that all the original members of Little River Band have long since departed. I am also aware that several court battles have been fought over use of the name. However, after seeing the current incarnation of LRB in High Point a couple of years ago, I can wholeheartedly recommend them. It’s a night for “Reminiscing.” • March 12, High Point Theatre: If you know me, you know that I live for three-part harmony. So, imagine my glee when many years ago I ran across a six-part harmony group called Take 6. They took a cappella harmony to a level heretofore occupied solely by the Kings Singers and unapproached by any of the current crop of beat-box groups. While they are categorized primarily as gospel or inspirational, six Grammys speak for themselves. • March 13, White Oak Amphitheatre: I debated whether to include KC and the Sunshine Band in this month’s list, but after my wife told me that not only was I including them but that I was going to take her to go see them, I relented. Ah, marital bliss. That’s the way . . . I like it. • March 20, Southern Alamance High School: Well, sending you to a high school is a first, but you’ve got to go where the music’s playing. And there is no finer bluegrass being played these days than by Russell Moore and IIIrd Tyme Out. They’ve been named the IBMA Vocal Group of the Year seven times and Moore has won Male Vocalist of the Year three times. Well worth the short two-step to Graham.
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"IN THE BEGINNING", 2018, OIL ON CANVAS, 30 X 33 INCHES
Katy Mixon: Digging Deep At first glance, Katy Mixon’s oil-on-panel, In the Beginning, part of GreenHill’s current NC Women Abstract Painters, resembles a mottled center of a sunflower, where its seeds are contained. But splotches of yellow in a lighter shade and the painting’s title are obvious allusions to the sun and the act of creating. Mixon, who trained at Davidson College, UNC-Chapel hill and The School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, draws on the agricultural surroundings of her childhood. “My family is in farming,” says the South Carolina native. “It’s hard not to pay attention to the future of the planet.” And the similarities of planting and harvesting with creating works of art. Keenly aware of what Mixon calls a “studio eco system,” she explains how “one painting feeds into another.” The themes of In the Beginning, echo in others such as Cloud Seed, and reveal quite literally, more depth than meets the eye. That mottled look of the “sunflower” is not just paint applied to a flat surface, but rather layers applied and then carved out, and re-applied with paint chips. Mixon is replicating the act of tilling the soil — and asking the viewer to consider the vagaries of the natural world. Sunlight helps plants — such as sunflowers — grow. “But how do you relate to a heat wave?” the artist posits. Decide for yourself by taking a gander at Mixon’s works and those of four other artist on view through April 11. — Nancy Oakley OH Info: greenhillnc.org
The Art & Soul of Greensboro
DOWNTOWN PRESENTED BY
TOURNAMENT TOWN WATCH PARTY THURSDAY, MARCH 12 | 11:30 A.M. â&#x20AC;&#x201C; 4:30 P.M.
Outside Steven Tanger Center for Performing Arts Food | Cash Bar | Bleachers or Bring Chairs | Interactive Games | Fun for the Whole Family | FREE ADMISSION
TOURNAMENT TOWN DOWNTOWN FESTIVAL SATURDAY, MARCH 14 | 12:00 - 5:00 P.M.
S. Elm Street & Smothers Place | Near the railroad tracks Local Acts Leading up to Cover Band Southside Station (3-5 p.m.) | Beer Garden | Interactive Games | FREE ADMISSION
Falling Back to Earth When Plan B yields Grade A insight
By Maria Johnson
We rounded the bend in our kayaks,
not expecting to see them perched there in the leathery green boughs of mangrove trees. Three large, brown pelicans. They watched us from a dozen feet above a cove called Soldier’s Hole.
Two of them sat as tall and still as concrete statues, their ascending necks tucked tight against descending heads and bills. Between the two tall birds, a third one, folded flat, drowsed in branches on the sunny side of the inlet, a bank that caught the full warmth of February in Florida’s Tampa Bay. We stopped paddling and let the current nudge us closer. The birds fixed us with the perfect white circles of their eyes. They didn’t flinch, even when we raised our cell phones to photograph them. We drifted underneath them. “This is so cool,” I whispered. “I know,” my husband rasped. Paddling away, we realized that although we’d seen brown pelicans in North Carolina, we’d never seen them roosting in the wild. Bobbing on the open water? Yes. Planted on piers? Yes. Stationed on harbor spiles, surrounded by diesel fumes, and boats, and the din of waterside restaurants? Yes. But tucked into the swampy wild? No. This was different. Awesome. Awe-inspiring. Why? Maybe because we were on their turf, in a vast and wild place, Fort De Soto State Park, where we were just another mated pair passing through. As casual kayakers and even more casual birdwatchers, we’d stumbled into the park — a birdwatching mecca, with more than 330 species known to alight here — on a day when brisk wind and shriveled mercury made sunbathing impossible. It was Plan B, a fallback that ended up being better than we could have imagined, for who doesn’t benefit from spending time close to nature, whether in your garden, in an urban park or in a 1,000-plus acre preserve? The opportunity is the same — to see and feel that you’re a part of nature. Of her. The Art & Soul of Greensboro
Not above her. What happens to her, happens to you. It was a wonderful, humbling feeling, one that swelled our hearts as we skimmed the hammered surface of the water. Farther down the watery finger, gangly black cormorants watched us from the tops of no-wake signs. Ospreys poked their white heads and hooked noses out of shallow stick-built nests atop telephone poles. A vibrant tricolored heron stared until we passed. A young yellow-crowned night heron, crouching on a low branch, peered at us from between leaves. A turkey buzzard, with its faded black feathers and wrinkled red head, glided with the somber bearing of an undertaker — a reminder that, in many ways, we are all passing through. Gulls keened overhead. All around us, fish breached and flopped in silvery flashes. Splish. Bubbles congregated on the surface. The sighs of turtles and manatees below? In the clear shallows, red mangroves arched their prop roots down to the brackish water for a place to grab hold. Like flying buttresses on a Gothic church, they stabilize the mangroves and the estuary, providing cover for all manner of life — a true sanctuary, with flowers provided by oysters that cling to the roots in calcified bouquets. We paddled on, wind at our backs. More pelicans came into sight. Four. Five. Six. Seven. Eight. They hunkered in the mangroves, rocking in the branches as the wind gusted. Many of them wore a cap of fuzzy gold, a tinge of color announcing that breeding season was near. They regarded us calmly, waiting as an audience might wait for a play to unfold on stage. What would we, the main characters, do next? For 40 years, from 1970 to 2009, brown pelicans were on the Endangered Species list. The pesticide DDT had pretty much wiped them out. Once sprayed on crops, the chemical ran off into estuaries and collected in fish. When pelicans ate the fish, the chemical affected the birds’ eggs, making their shells too thin to be viable. Bald eagles suffered, too. Then we — specifically the Environmental Protection Agency — banned DDT and limited the use of pesticides. As she always does, nature responded to the chance to right herself and restore balance. Slowly, the pelicans and eagles returned. Having reached the open water of the bay, we spun our kayaks around and headed back to the outfitter. The sun had begun its slow fall to the water. Fishermen appeared along the banks, casting nets and filaments from poles. It was feeding time. The pelicans, like prehistoric pterodactyls in silhouette, joined them, cruising, pausing, collapsing into nosedives. They surfaced quickly, tossing their heads back to take shots of mullet. We took our time. Our paddles looped in the figure eights of infinity and we dug into the water, aware that we were moving against the wind. Maria Johnson is a contributing editor of O.Henry. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org March 2020
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Mystery of the Hunley What killed the Confederacy’s submariners?
By Stephen E. Smith
With an estimated
60,000 to 100,000 Civil War—related titles published in the last 155 years, you might wonder if there’s anything left to write about. But science and technology have offered new methods of verifying the previously unverifiable, no matter how esoteric or insignificant the subject might be.
An April entry into the Civil War marketplace is Rachel Lance’s In the Waves: My Quest to Solve the Mystery of a Civil War Submarine. This 315-page semi-technical analysis of a single black-powder detonation that changed naval warfare forever should be of interest to anyone living in the Carolinas, taking place, by and large, at Duke University, and concerning an artifact that has, in recent years, attracted thousands of tourists to the city of Charleston. Lance is a biomedical engineer and blast-injury researcher at Duke. She spent several years as an engineer developing specialized underwater equipment for the Navy and was working toward her Ph.D. when she took on, at the insistence of her dissertation advisor, the mysterious demise of the H.L. Hunley’s crew. Any Civil War enthusiast (let’s dispense with the pejorative term “buff”; many Civil War readers are serious historians) will be happy to tell you that the Hunley was an experimental submarine developed by the Confederacy in hopes that it would break the Union blockade, and that it might have succeeded except that it disappeared along with the USS Housatonic, the first warship sunk by a submersible craft, and remained cloaked in mystery until 1995, when it was located 4 miles offshore in 30 feet of water. The sub was
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raised from the bottom in 2000 and has since become Charleston’s most popular attraction. For those unfamiliar with the details of the Hunley’s story, Lance supplies a history of early submersibles and details the little sub’s short life, including the circumstances surrounding the first two Hunley crews, who perished when mechanical problems arose during testing. Even H.L. Hunley, the sub’s inventor, died when he accidently depressed the bow planes when surfacing following a test dive. After each sinking, the sub was raised and put back into service, even when it required that the bloated bodies of the dead be dismembered to facilitate removal, a decidedly unpleasant task relegated to slave labor. For many years, it was assumed the Hunley had survived its attack on the Housatonic — it was reported that the crew signaled success by flashing a blue light — but there was no satisfactory explanation as to why the boat did not return to fight another day. Survivors of the Housatonic testified to seeing the Hunley shortly after the explosion, but no further evidence as to the fate of the sub and its crew was offered at the time. Lance’s study focuses on the crew’s cause of death. Archaeologists found all eight men slumped at their stations in the submarine. Seven men were seated at the propeller crank, and the remains of the boat’s captain, Lt. George Dixon, were discovered in the forward conning tower. None showed signs of skeletal trauma, and there was no indication that the crew had attempted to escape the sinking craft. A careful examination of the boat’s skin revealed that the explosion had not breached its hull. Since Lance is a blast-injury expert, readers might assume that she was seeking confirmation that the crew was killed by the shock wave from detonation of the Hunley’s torpedo, and not from suffocation or drowning. In fact, Southern newspapers speculated shortly after the sub’s disappearance that such a wave had sunk the little boat, and knowledgeable observers March 2020
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at the time of the sub’s testing warned that the Hunley would likely fall victim to its own torpedo, which was suspended on the end of a spar extending from the bow of the boat. Lance’s objective was to prove beyond all doubt that a blast wave killed the Hunley’s crew, and In the Waves is a narrative history of her quest to gather evidence to that effect and to procure, in the process, her Ph.D. To do this she constructed a miniature Hunley-like craft (the CSS Tiny), procured black powder of the sort available during the Civil War, constructed a miniature facsimile of the torpedo, and conducted extensive testing in an appropriate body of water. Instruments to measure the true force of the blast had to be obtained from the Navy and made to function correctly under circumstances that were anything but ideal. The development of testing criteria consumes most of Lance’s book, at times growing a trifle tedious and dauntingly technical. Failed test follows failed test, subjecting the reader to the same level of frustration suffered by Lance and her team of researchers. But she wisely couches much of the technical information in understandable terms and refers more punctilious readers to the openaccess journal PLOs One. “This is a descriptive version of the math and physics,” she writes in a footnote, “and was written to be understandable for the general reader. It does not, therefore, go into all the complex details necessary to justify and complete the scientific analysis.” While working to replicate the explosive force of the Hunley’s torpedo, Lance reveals the intriguing story of George Washington Rains. Born in Craven County, North Carolina, Rains almost singlehandedly supplied the Confederacy with black powder and torpedo technology. Southern soldiers may have run short of food and clothing, but they were never without powder and shot, a fact that no doubt prolonged the slaughter and destruction occasioned by the war. In the Waves’ entertainment value is mostly a matter of scientific revelation. As a narrative it is made less successful by the inclusion of unnecessary details regarding the author’s personal life, and the occasional irrelevant sidebar and annoying digression. Is it worth reading? Certainly. If you have an abiding interest in Civil War history, you’ll no doubt find a place for In the Waves in your already overburdened bookshelves. OH Stephen E. Smith is a retired professor and the author of seven books of poetry and prose. He’s the recipient of the Poetry Northwest Young Poet’s Prize, the Zoe Kincaid Brockman Prize for poetry and four North Carolina Press awards.
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To the Hoop!
Celebrate the ACC tourneys with a full court literary press
Compiled by Brian Lampkin
March is always an exciting time
in North Carolina, and while this year will probably find an absence of madness in Chapel Hill, there’s plenty here in Greensboro as the men’s and women’s ACC tournaments return. While you’re here, I highly recommend To the Hoop: Basketball and Contemporary Art at the Weatherspoon Art Museum, an exhibit which runs through June 7. There are even a few literary intersections during the exhibit’s run, as you’ll see below.
February 20: GEEZERBALL: North Carolina Basketball at its Eldest (Sort of a Memoir), by Richie Zweigenhaft (Half Court Press, $10). Guilford College psychology professor Zweigenhaft has been the “commissioner” for perhaps the longest continually operating pickup game in North Carolina: 45 years. The book examines why basketball has become so central to the lives of this aging group of men and the social dynamics at play that create an environment that allows for longevity while maintaining a vigorous competitive spirit. And don’t leave Richie alone behind the 3-point line! (Zweigenhaft will be a featured event as a part of To The Hoop on Thursday, March 12 at 6:30 p.m.). March 3: The Back Roads to March: The Unsung, Unheralded, and Unknown Heroes of a College Basketball Season, by John Feinstein (Doubleday, $27.95). Feinstein pulls back the curtain on college basketball’s lesser-known Cinderella stories — the smaller programs who no one expects to win, who have no chance of attracting the most coveted high school recruits, who rarely send their players on to the NBA. Feinstein follows a handful of players, coaches, and schools who dream, not of winning the NCAA tournament, but of making it past their first or second round games. March 17: Dragon Hoops, by Gene Luen Yang (First Second, $24.99) Gene Luen Yang writes, and sometimes draws, comic books and graphic novels. American Born Chinese, his first graphic novel from First Second Books, was a National Book Award finalist, as well as the winner of the Printz Award and an Eisner Award. His two-volume graphic novel Boxers & Saints won the L.A. Times Book Prize and was a National Book Award Finalist.
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In 2016, he was named a MacArthur Foundation Fellow. Dragon Hoops chronicles the postseason hopes of the basketball team at the Oakland high school where Yang taught for 17 years. March 17: Tanking to the Top: The Philadelphia 76ers and the Most Audacious Process in the History of Professional Sports, by Yaron Weitzman (Grand Central, $28). When a group of private equity bigwigs purchased the Philadelphia 76ers in 2011, the team was both bad and boring. Attendance was down. So were ratings. The Sixers had an aging coach, an antiquated front office and a group of players that could best be described as mediocre. Enter Sam Hinkie — a man with a plan. The plan, dubbed “The Process,” seems to have worked. More than six years after handing Hinkie the keys, the Sixers have transformed into one of the most exciting teams in the NBA. They’ve emerged as a championship contender with a roster full of stars, none bigger than Cameroonian Joel Embiid, a captivating 7-footer known for both brutalizing opponents on the court and taunting them off of it. March 31: Russell Westbrook: Style Drivers, by Russell Westbrook (Rizzoli, $55). For NBA-superstar-turned-style-icon Russell Westbrook, fashion is not just a spectator sport — it pushes boundaries, blurs lines and drives culture. This book is a celebration of Westbrook’s style on and off the court, and the creative people he admires and works with. Other recent basketball books of interest: The Heritage: Black Athletes, a Divided America, and the Politics of Patriotism, by Howard Bryant (Beacon Press, $17); The Last Pass: Cousy, Russell, the Celtics, and What Matters in the End, by Gary M. Pomerantz (Penguin, $18); All the Dreams We’ve Dreamed: A Story of Hoops and Handguns on Chicago’s West Side, by Rus Bradburd (Lawrence Hill Books, $17.99). And don’t miss The Falconer, by Dana Czapnik (Washington Square Press, $16). Street-smart 17-year-old Lucy Adler is often the only girl on the public basketball courts. As Lucy begins to question accepted notions of success, bristling against her own hunger for male approval, she is drawn into the world of a pair of provocative feminist artists living in what remains of New York’s Bohemia. Told with wit and pathos, The Falconer is at once a novel of ideas, a portrait of a time and place, and an ode to the obsessions of youth. In her critically acclaimed debut, Dana Czapnik captures the voice of an unforgettable modern literary heroine, a young woman in the first flush of freedom. Czapnik will appear at the Weatherspoon Art Museum on Thursday, April 2 at 6:30 p.m. OH Brian Lampkin is one of the proprietors of Scuppernong Books. March 2020
A Close Shave
What’s old may be new
By Clyde Edgerton
If I use a plastic drinking straw, I
ILLUSTRATION BY HARRY BLAIR
get grief from my family.
As I should. So I decided to stop using plastic straws and plastic razors — those disposable ones, usually orange or blue — and buy an electric razor. My father, back in his day, used an implement that looked very much like a plastic razor, but his was metal, and when you twisted the handle about a quarter-turn, two little doors on the head of the razor opened toward the ceiling. He’d then drop in a thin, almost weightless Gillette razor blade. He’d twist the handle so that the little doors closed and the blade would be enclosed snugly, with its two sharp outside edges exposed. He’d drip some warm water from the spigot into a mug that had a bit of soap in the bottom, then work up some lather with a soft round brush. He’d brush the white lather onto his face, and then carefully shave. My grandfather did it the same way, except he used a straight razor, sharpened by sliding the blade along a leather strap, or “strop.” The strop looked like an extraordinarily wide leather belt. Anyway, I realized I’d have to shop for a new electric razor. For me, shopping often produces anxiety and indecision. I do it as rarely as possible. For example, I bought my newest sport coat before my very old cat was born. Cats don’t live that long. And I just found out that some blue jeans are black. First stop: Target. I find the electric razor section. It’s as long as a gymnasium wall. My heart rate ticks up. I look closely and read packaging information: dryfoil, proskin, lithium ion, microcomb, flexible foil cutters, pivot head. I grab one in the mid-priced range: $69 — the going price of a sink, The Art & Soul of Greensboro
commode and bathtub when my father started shaving in about 1917. The brand is a Braun, and something extra is in the box. I’m not sure what, but I just want to get out of the store. I take my Braun home and try to open the box with several kitchen implements. I finally open it with my chain saw, avoiding injury, get the razor out, and unpack the rest of the box. I find a thick booklet of instructions in English and many other languages, as well as a fairly large “recharging stand.” And inside the recharging stand is a small, clear plastic container. And . . . stay with me . . . inside that container is a container of some special liquid that every night will clean the shaver while the razor is being recharged and . . . no joke . . . oil it. I read that every few months I’ll need to buy more of that special liquid. A reasonable person might wonder if this thing will shave me like those vacuum cleaners that vacuum the house while you watch TV. What happened next is I nervously decided to do a bit of research. What was I getting into? When I Googled “electric shavers” I got this many hits: 41,300,000. (Check it out.) And then because I Googled “electric shaver,” I now have a new electric shaver image pop-up on my speedometer screen when I start my car — the latest deal between Honda and Google. Next stop: Target. I returned the electric razor. I bought a bag of disposable razors, the blue ones, and a can of shaving foam. Soon, I’m going to visit my father’s grave as I sometimes do, and we will have a talk. I think I know what he’s going to suggest: mug, soap, soft round brush, and an old-timey metal razor. OH Clyde Edgerton is the author of 10 novels, a memoir and most recently, Papadaddy’s Book for New Fathers. He is the Thomas S. Kenan III Distinguished Professor of Creative Writing at UNCW. March 2020
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Man of Iron
How Raleigh’s bold investment in sculptor Jim Gallucci’s art led to a revitalization of the city’s urban center
By Wiley Cash Photographs by Mallory Cash
In 2007, just as the
world was spiraling toward financial ruin, Greensboro sculptor Jim Gallucci received the largest commission of his career. The city of Raleigh selected him to construct four light towers to sit on either corner of downtown’s City Plaza in an attempt to redefine the empty space in front of the old Civic Center.
“It started out as a $65,000 project,” Gallucci says. “We kept saying, ‘You know, guys, we can do more with this,’ and they said, ‘Really? You got any ideas?’ These towers were going to be 65 feet tall. The next thing you knew it turned into a $2.5 million project.” However, as the reality of the global financial crisis set in, Gallucci was certain the project would be pulled; but leaders in Raleigh decided to move ahead. In the fall of 2009, City Plaza, complete with Gallucci’s four 65-foot light towers bedecked in steel oak leaves, opened to the public. City officials hoped the plaza would serve as a “public living room” that would host concerts and events while attracting organizations from around the country that were searching for event and reception space. The plaza project was part of the now completely revitalized area of Raleigh’s Fayetteville Street, and towering above all the new businesses, concertgoers and tourists are Jim Gallucci’s glowing behemoths. Raleigh proved that an investment in the arts could lead an economic revitalization. Gallucci was not surprised that the city’s bet paid off. “The arts are always the catalyst,” he says. “We’re the stick in the stream. Next thing you know there’s a leaf that’s caught by the stick, and before long the stick has gathered an entire island around it.” Jim Gallucci’s enormous studio — which he admits to thinking of less as
The Art & Soul of Greensboro
a studio and more as a tool that assists in his art — sits just south of downtown Greensboro. Going off Gallucci’s own metaphor, his studio could be described as an island that has gathered things over the years: sculptures of dizzying heights and varying colors; scraps of metal from local salvage yards; beams from the World Trade Center; and people from around the state interested in anything from sculpture to metalworking to glassblowing to having a cup of coffee and chatting. This is exactly what Gallucci hoped this space would become after opening the studio in 2006, not only for him but for the collective community of local and statewide artists of which he is part.
Gallucci’s collective approach is quickly made apparent when you spend time discussing art with him; you will discover that he consistently speaks in the collective first person we. “We’d been in the old Civil War rifle factory on East Washington in downtown Greensboro for 21 years,” he says. “There were holes in the ceiling. The floors weren’t strong enough to hold the sculptures we were making.” He smiles, takes a sip of his coffee. “We knew we needed four things from a studio: We needed plenty of space. We needed heat. We needed an office. And we needed a bridge crane.” That checklist — especially plenty of space and the bridge crane — came in handy as the full lengths of the six-story Raleigh towers were being fabricated inside the studio. Gallucci had plenty of hands on deck as the towers were lifted by the bridge crane and prepared for transport. You would not know it now, but there were times when Jim Gallucci felt more like that single stick in the stream than the island that would gather around it. As a working artist, he had spent years teaching at the college level, but that came to a halt in 1986, when the University of North Carolina Greensboro did not renew his teaching contract after nine years in the classroom. He had a decision to make: Should he and his family leave Greensboro in search of another teaching job, or should they stay in the community, where they had forged relationships for nearly a decade? March 2020
He and his wife made the conscious decision to stay. “We’d made a lot of friends,” he says. “We had a community. We knew a lot of people in the fabrication business, and we’d trade sculptures for steel. You don’t buy those relationships; you assemble them during your life.” After leaving the classroom, Gallucci decided to put his faith in his local community, and he decided to keep his faith in his art. “I took unemployment for six months, and I called it my arts grant. I went in my studio every day like a worker at 8 a.m., and I’d work until 4 p.m. I worked every day in that studio, and we were able to trade for steel, and we made three good sculptures during that six months and tried to get into shows. “Those three pieces we made? All of them were sold, and two of them ended up in Brisbane, Australia. I suddenly went from an unemployed art teacher to an international sculptor.”
Gallucci’s sculptures began to pop up around Greensboro, then around the state, then around the country. He is perhaps best known for his gates and arches, especially the Millennium Gate in Greensboro’s Government Plaza, a project that found 17 artisans creating 106 icons that represent major figures, moments and
movements from American history. The icons are affixed to the enormous arch and comprise the gate at its center. Viewers are able to both witness history and pass through it, and that interaction is vital to Gallucci’s vision. “With gates, it’s easy to get into the art,” he says, “literally and figuratively. I try to get people to enter the work, to engage with it.” Gallucci also gives people the opportunity to engage with their own artwork several times a year when he opens his studio to host a public iron pour. Hundreds of people show up in the early afternoon, many of them with small sand casts on which they will use any number of tools to etch a symbol or a name or an image that will then be cast in iron later in the day. People come not only to pour iron, but to work with blacksmithing tools or to try their hand at glassblowing. Others come for the live music or the hot food that is served. The noise of the conversations and music and hammers rises into a pleasing din that fills the enormous studio space and pours outside, where men and women in masks and leather gloves and aprons are stoking the foundry and melting metal into what looks like bright orange lava. Jim Gallucci is there, talking to old friends, making new ones, offering words of encouragement to someone who is trying their hand at metal casting for the first time.
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As the sky tips toward dusk, the scene is otherworldly. Sparks fly. Flames reach into the air. Metal is turned into liquid. The vague notions of creativity that people arrived with are slowly hardening into shape. “Creativity happens when you experience something you’ve never experienced before,” Gallucci says. “The elements: the sand, the dirt, the heat; it’s almost primordial. People may not become iron casters after this, but that’s not the point. It’s igniting other things, inviting other ways to look at the world. That’s what art inspires.”
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What does Jim Gallucci hope his art inspires? He thinks for a moment, the light from sparks and flames glinting in his safety glasses, which he wears casually, the way other people wear sunglasses or bifocals. “I hope I’m perpetuating ideas, goodwill, community, sense of purpose, reflection. If you’re doing that with a piece of art, you’re doing OK.” No man is an island, right? Well, perhaps Jim Gallucci is. OH Wiley Cash lives in Wilmington with his wife and their two daughters. His latest novel, The Last Ballad, is available wherever books are sold.
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The Art & Soul of Greensboro
The Pleasures of Life Dept.
The Airing Of An Artist A Greensboro gallery reveals a long-hidden cache of work by beloved streetscape artist Maggie Fickett
By Maria Johnson
The Center for Visual Artists, a nonprofit
PHOTOGRAPHS BY LYNN DONOVAN
gallery in downtown Greensboro, usually promotes the work of emerging artists.
But next month, the gallery will spotlight an artist who emerged a long time ago: 89-year-old Maggie Fickett, who painted Greensboro streetscapes and landmarks for three decades — in the 1980s, ’90s and early 2000s — before returning to her native Maine. Why mount an overview of her work now? Because it’s a shining example for up-and-coming creators to follow, says gallery director Corrie Lisk-Hurst. “We were blown away,” says Lisk-Hurst, recalling the first time she and gallery manager Devon McKnight laid eyes on a trove of Fickett’s work that her family had stored in Greensboro, hoping to show and sell it one day. Viewing more than a thousand pieces, McKnight and Lisk-Hurst were struck by Fickett’s technical prowess and by her embrace of different media, styles and subjects. Most of all, they were impressed by Fickett’s faithfulness to her muse. She painted every day. “It’s important for us to say, ‘Look, this person had a lifetime of making art. Maybe she wasn’t thrilled with every single piece, but she was committed.’ It’s really about practice, like having yoga practice,” says Lisk-Hurst. “If you’re doing it every day, you’re more likely to get in the flow at the right time and get those spurts of genius.” The public can see those transcendent moments in Maggie Fickett: Living in Plein Air, an exhibit built on more than 75 framed works — mostly watercolors — and hundreds of unframed pieces sorted in bins. The show opens April 21 and stays up through June 14. All works will be for sale, and 60 percent of the proceeds will go toward caring for Fickett, who lives in a memory-care center. “Alzheimer’s is a terrible thing,” says Debbie Fickett, who is married to Maggie’s nephew Bob. The couple moved the artist to Maine in 2014 after
The Art & Soul of Greensboro
becoming concerned about her safety. This magazine’s story about Fickett’s departure and the raft of work remaining in Greensboro (See www.ohenrymag.com/ficketts-charge) caught the eye of Laura Gibson, who curates revolving art exhibits at Greensboro’s Center for Creative Leadership. Gibson had met Fickett and owned one of her paintings. Her employer, CCL, also held several of Fickett’s works in its permanent collection. Gibson knew the Center couldn’t accommodate a large-scale exhibit with a lot of walk-in customers, but she still wanted to help. She contacted Fickett’s family about organizing a show of Fickett’s work at another venue. (Full disclosure: This writer also assisted in getting the show off the ground.) Last year, Lisk-Hurst and McKnight offered the CVA gallery in the Greensboro Cultural Center — the very same space where Fickett had shown her work 20 years earlier. Back then, the gallery was operated by the Greensboro Artists’ League, a forerunner of the CVA, and Lisk-Hurst was a part-time curator. She remembers Fickett. “Personally, it was cool that she was someone I’d crossed paths with,” Lisk-Hurst says. Her CVA colleague McKnight agreed that exhibiting Fickett’s work — including her studies, sketchbooks and photographs — would fit the nonprofit’s mission. “Most gallery shows don’t show the artistic process, just the final product,” McKnight says. “This is valuable because it lets us see how she’s approaching things, like mixing colors and using the back of paper.” The show also will demonstrate Fickett’s range. She could pen a cartoonlike character; chalk moody landscape; stamp a woodcut print; glue together a satirical collage; or dip a brush in watercolor to record a quaint storefront. Occasionally, she dabbled in acrylic paint. “That’s what great artists do: They play with things,” Lisk-Hurst observes. “They look at something and they’re like, ‘Huh, what can I do with this?’ ” Fickett’s creative evolution began in her teenage years. Born and raised in March 2020
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South Portland, Maine, she was working in the laboratory of a Catholic hospital when nuns noticed and encouraged her artistic ability. With limited support from her family, Maggie moved to Boston and trained in commercial art. She worked for a Boston advertising agency before moving to Greensboro, on the advice of a friend, in 1979. Here, she gave up the regular paycheck of agency work for the more tenuous income of a self-employed artist. She was primarily a watercolorist, but years of illustrating gave her the confidence with pen and ink. Balancing sharp details with softer suggestive lines, she snared the physical and emotional elements of her subjects. Her bread and butter came from doing commissioned portraits of people’s homes. She also did pen-and-ink drawings of local landmarks, made prints and sold them for $10 each. For $40 more, she hand-colored the prints. Her subjects included the historic F.W. Woolworth store; the first Ham’s restaurant; The Boar and Castle restaurant; Yum Yum Better Ice Cream; the Carolina Theatre; Castle McCulloch; War Memorial Stadium; and numerous fire stations, churches and local colleges. Fickett specialized in streetscapes, working on location, en plein air, popping her easel and umbrella-shaded stool on sidewalks and hillsides. A favorite locale was downtown Greensboro, where she documented everything from cranestudded construction along North Elm Street to the railroad bridge and antique shops of South Elm Street. She found inspiration in natural settings, too. The Greensboro Arboretum, the Tanger Family Bicentennial Garden, the Bog Garden and Country Park were frequent subjects. She loved her own backyard. She painted dozens of scenes around her home on Mayflower Drive near UNCG. Often, she picked flowers and vegetables, brought them inside, arranged them and preserved them in still lifes. She painted her cats with nuance and affection. “Everything was fodder for her,” says Lisk-Hurst. “It didn’t matter if it was a construction site, or a cat lounging on a chair, or a person running on a trail. The Art & Soul of Greensboro
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Everything was worthy of observation.” Who needs smart phone tracking apps? Exhibit goers can trace Fickett’s movements by looking at her work. When she lived in Boston, she painted the Charles River, Boston Common and Beacon Hill. When she moved to Wilmington for a couple of years in the late ’80s, she painted Front Street, Chandler’s Wharf, the Cape Fear River and Wrightsville Beach. When she traveled with friends to Bermuda, she set down the white roofs and sapphire water. When she made trips to see pottery in Seagrove, or rolling farms in southern Virginia, or the carousel in Burlington, or the state fair in Raleigh, she painted. When she returned home to the rugged coast of Maine, she painted. When she visited friends in Jamestown, cheekby-jowl with Greensboro, she painted Jamestown. Works depicting all of these places will be for sale at the exhibit. Prices will range from $10 for small, unframed works to hundreds of dollars for large framed pieces. Organizers hope the show will draw people who feel connected to Fickett’s subjects. “Sure, you can buy pieces online or in a retail store, but they don’t have a story. And you’d pay more in those places than you would for some of this original, really high quality work,” LiskHurst says. In addition to the show and sale, organizers plan an opening party, a panel discussion of Maggie’s life and work, a roundtable on making a living as an artist, and a painting class that guides participants through a Fickett-inspired scene. Maggie’s health won’t allow her to attend the show. But her spirit will be here, says Debbie Fickett. “Her heart will always be in Greensboro.” OH For more on the exhibit, go to www.greensboroart.org Maria Johnson is contributing editor of O.Henry magazine. She can be reached email@example.com.
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The Art & Soul of Greensboro
Now You See ’em, Now You Don’t! The changing plumage of the American goldfinch
Male Goldfinch in winter By Susan Campbell
It is that time of the year again: calls
and emails asking what the nondescript little lightbrown birds might be that are suddenly flocking to seed feeders. Believe it or not, they are actually our familiar American goldfinches.
Goldfinches are not migratory, but they do engage in a disappearing act of sorts. This species is one of scores that lose their breeding colors in late summer and take on a muted plumage for the colder months of the year. We think this is simply a matter of being camouflaged during months when life is more challenging and breeding finery is unnecessary. From October through April these birds have no need for bright colors. As we get into February, you may begin to see some Male Goldfinch in spring splotchy yellowish individuals as the increase in the length of daylight hours triggers the hormones responsible for feather molt. Bright yellow male goldfinches are easy to identify, sporting black wings and a black topknot. The females, however, are a muted yellow; no doubt a better camouflage while incubating in dense shrubby cover. The female goldfinches take care of early nesting duties but may abandon the young a week or so after hatching to the males’ care, especially if the eggs were laid early in the period. She will then search out a new mate and hurriedly begin a second brood before the shorter days of early fall arrive.
The Art & Soul of Greensboro
It will not be until summer winds sweep down across the Piedmont and Sandhills that the family life of this eye-catching species will finally hit high gear. Then it will be time for American goldfinches to begin raising a family. They breed much later than other songbirds, producing one and in some cases two sets of young from mid-August to late September. The delay in breeding is likely related to the fact that they feed exclusively on small seeds. It is then that grasses and other herbaceous vegetation are finally producing an abundance of seed. Food for a growing family has finally become plentiful. It is also not until late summer that the pods of native thistle have burst open and, in addition to the energy-rich seeds being exposed, the down is also available as nesting material. Males may have been singing their melodious song from the treetops since May. Any associating pairs have simply been loafing, waiting for the time to be right to get down to business. Goldfinches have a very large range nationwide and can actually be found across our state year round. They are highly nomadic during the cooler months and tend to flock together in search of food. In early February, they are very numerous at bird feeders. In some years, when the native seed sources are depleted or scarce, hundreds may be found taking advantage of sunflower hearts or nyger thistle seed. However, their winter plumage is once again very drab. Males and females alike are a dull brown and, as a result, often cause a good bit of confusion for backyard bird enthusiasts. If there is any doubt, their frequent “potato chip” call always gives them away. OH Susan would love to receive your wildlife sightings and photos. She can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. March 2020
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The Art & Soul of Greensboro
A backward glance at College Hill’s Crunchy Music Stuff
By Billy Eye
Genius! We opened that store with a hundred CDs.
“There’s a stigma to skating. People think of it as a kid’s sport. People kept telling me I couldn’t possibly make a living out of it. Then they said I couldn’t keep it up in my 30s. And here I am in my 40s, and I’m still improving my skills.” — Tony Hawk
Jae: [The time period] was phase two of Grunge. Pavement broke out, Weezer broke while we were there.
Just days ago, I commandeered a
corner table at the Lindley Park Filling Station to reminisce with Michael Driver and Jae Skaggs, proprietors of one of our city’s most fondly remembered record retailers, Crunchy Music Stuff. Established in 1993, first at Spring Garden and Mendenhall then on the corner of Tate and Walker, for seven years Crunchy was the epicenter of Greensboro’s underground music and skateboard scene. Crunchy closed 20 years ago this year. As for how it started . . . Michael: I blame Jae. The whole thing was your idea. Jae: Was it? No, no, I think halfsies. Michael: We were just nerds who didn’t want a job. Jae: Right. We just sat around and talked about music anyway. Michael: Somebody in Creamy Velour was playing at Infiniti. He worked at that record store out by the waterpark. He came up to me and said, “You know, they’re selling the store.” “Man that would be awesome to have a record store. How much?” It was like $250,000. I didn’t have any money. I was bitching about it that night and Jae said, “Why don’t you open your own record store?” The Art & Soul of Greensboro
Michael: You know who we sold a lot of? NOFX. And Green Day, we sold the hell out of that thing! They put out the first Beck record on an independent label, that “Loser” single was on a 12” EP. That we sold the hell out of. We were the only one in town that had that single. Jae: Even before Napster, we started suffering when Best Buy opened. They bought every CD and sold everything for like nine bucks. Michael: People would come in and say, “I just got this at Best Buy for $9.99,” and I’m like, “They’re losing money!” Nothing we could do but stock the stuff they didn’t have. So we mined our niche. That’s all any indie business can do. We had vinyl and nobody else did except for Record Exchange on Battleground; Ed LeBrun’s Spins had the electronic market locked up there. The punk rock stuff, that’s what we listened to and that made us money. Jae: The flip side of that, the kick flip was, once people started coming in, we would get their used records. We paid as well as anybody else did, but in used records we had all of that indie punk catalog which other stores didn’t have. Michael: We made money on Green Day because we sold thousands of them. We did well with Ill Communication [by The Beastie Boys]. It was a midnight release. We had like a hundred people there. Jae’s band Rebar was playing. There were so many people in the store it was like a sweaty New York nightclub. We sold every single copy we had, we went all in on that. It was one of the best nights we had, there were people lined up outside because they couldn’t get in, jumping up and down on the street. Jae: Before the Internet you could do things like that. [Laughing] We were a legitimate business, generating revenue for the city. March 2020
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The Art & Soul of Greensboro
Wandering Billy Michael: Within the first week we had our first batch of skateboard items. That was Jae’s idea. I thought that was a great idea because nobody else was covering that market.
Your Greensboro Connection
Jae: At the time there was no skate shop in town, I think the closest place was Winston, at EV, and they might have been gone by then. To keep both halves of the store alive it really worked out. Just barely, because there’s more overhead on skate stuff and it’s also seasonal. It’s also more of a gamble; you could really hit some duds and you will never sell them. Instead of, “oops, I bought too many $8 things,”[it was] “oops, I just bought too many $50 things.” Michael: Every major skateboarder had their own shoe. We stocked Tony Hawks from Airwalk and we were the only ones that had them. We had The Beastie Boys’ weird, expandable clothing line, X-girl and XLARGE, those really big pants, even though I thought they were stupid but that’s what the skaters were wearing in the mid-1990s. Hook ups, Birdhouse, Girl, Stereo . . . we could buy clothes directly from the record labels. Jae: We had Tony Hawk in the store, Shawn Briley, we had all these skateboarders appear. We also had vintage arcade games, which weren’t too vintage at the time, like the 720° skateboard game from the ’80s. I was very excited to see Tony Hawk playing that one in the store. Michael: We got Tony Hawk for $500. It was a bargain at four times the price. For the record, I met Tony Hawk and I couldn’t speak. You meet your hero and it’s like, “Holy crap! It’s Tony Hawk!” So literally, that’s what I said, “Holy crap! It’s Tony Hawk!” I couldn’t think of anything else to say. The night before I stayed up all night to set up a half piperamp in the parking lot at Sam’s Club. The guys from Birdhouse Skateboards, Tony Hawk, Geoff Rowley, were there for a demo. We had like 200 people there, it was crazy. Jae: Tony was recovering from a broken foot so he wasn’t fully skating. He rode just enough for the kids to love it. He wasn’t doing any 900s or anything like that. When you run a skateboard shop, to this day, you have to do that kind of thing. Michael: We released four records on our own label, Crunchy Record Stuff. Two by Rebar, a 7-inch by Rights Reserved, “The Kids Are Not Alright,” and the fourth by The Get Gos. We recorded the Rebar album at the record store because it had that high ceiling, great acoustics. The Art & Soul of Greensboro
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Wandering Billy Jae: We booked showcases at Somewhere Else Tavern and at Zoo Bar or Kilroyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s or Fuzzy Duckâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s, I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t remember because they would change the name every two or three years. And The Turtle Club at Lee and Aycock. They changed the name of both of those streets, thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s how notorious The Turtle Club was. Michael: As far as how it ended, first I ran [employee] Scott Hicks off, then I ran Jae off. Jae: I was kind of like eased out of [Crunchy], suddenly eased out of it, and then it kept on going. Michael kept it going so I didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t take anything out of it. I didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t take anything to remember it by, because I thought, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Well, Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s all going to be with Michael.â&#x20AC;? But I wonder why now, it was a big part of my life. Probably everything that has happened to me since then was because of that place. Both positive and negative. Michael: I still have all that junk! Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve got a bunch of posters, memorabilia from the record labels, all in two or three boxes in my attic. The biggest year we had was â&#x20AC;&#x2122;96. By 1999, the skate shop started to decline and the record sales decliiiiiiined. Thank you Napster. By then Jae was gone, it was just me and an employee. In the mornings I would vomit. Then I would open the store. Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s what retail does to people, it makes you physically sick. After a few months of that I was like, â&#x20AC;&#x153;I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t want to do this anymore.â&#x20AC;? About that time Andrew Dudek approached me about selling it all out to him and he basically bought the inventory and turned it into Gate City Noise, which was a much better concept because Andrew had all the connections with touring bands and it became an even bigger center of the music scene with the independent bands playing there.
REASONS TO REMODEL #21
DRINKS IN GARDEN THE Â Â? Â?Â?Â?Â ÂÂ&#x20AC;Â?Â? Â&#x201A;Â&#x192;Â&#x201E;Â&#x2026;
You know, they have Record Store Day every year now, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Appreciate your local record store,â&#x20AC;? like Free Comic Book Day. About 20 years too late. . . I have yet to go to a Record Store Day event. Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m old and bitter! But Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m going to see Patrick at Hippo Records every week. Hippo carries the new stuff on vinyl. Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve still got a thing for the vinyl. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s an addiction. OH Today Michael Driver is a successful realtor with RE/MAX of Greensboro while Jae Skaggs is an IT / System Administrator consultant. Both reside not too far from each other in Lindley Park. Next month, Billy Eye will tell you about Judy Garlandâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s lifechanging Greensboro appearance.
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Other March Happenings Wednesdays Music Bingo Thursdays Wine Specials Fridays Brewery Tour Sunday, March 8th Yoga - 2:00pm
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Awoken The moon awoke me howling for attention the stars were distant, aloof a few gregarious, Gregorian twinkles made celesta accompaniment lunar fugue a chorus of seas echo of my cathedrals trumpets and choirs the organistâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s foot pedals faster than tap Did the moon not wake you? No tom toms, no Tchaikovsky cannons? Oh your serene dreams of a more melodious siren That is why I love you listening to the moon in your eyes â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Ry Southard
The Art & Soul of Greensboro
Renaissance Man Jan Lukensâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; passion to paint By Nancy Oakley
he shortest distance between two points may be a straight line — unless you’re pursuing a career as a professional artist, as Jan Lukens has discovered over a lifetime. His large, vivid, hyper-realistic canvases of horses, wildlife and cityscapes that fill his studio in Revolution Mill, all precisely wrought in the finest detail, are the culmination of a childhood dream. One that began with, yes, the straight lines of a child’s stick figures but took a turn in the Prehistoric Age. “There was nothing remarkable about what I was doing,” he says of the rudimentary cowboys and Indians or soldiers engaged in battle that he and his first-grade classmates liked to draw in crayon during art class at Irving Park Elementary School. But at home, the seeds of his artistic ability were taking root. “I had a set of dinosaurs and printed on the belly of each one was the name.” So he could name and identify them: “the stegosaurus and the T-Rex and the triceratops, and all these weird amazing-looking creatures,” Lukens recalls. “I was always fascinated with animals anyway. These were crazy, wonderful.” He had also taken to copying photographs in Newsweek and National Geographic on sample pads of printing paper his father would bring home from his job at Pilot Life Insurance. Perched at a coffee table at his parents’ feet as the family watched TV, “I would do that two or three hours a night, just because that’s what I liked to do,” Lukens remembers. A year later, those hours of practice would come to the fore when, one day, a second-grade class assignment was to draw a Tyrannosaurus Rex. Lukens’ advanced rendering of the dinosaur was well beyond those of his classmates, who, along with the teacher gathered round his desk expressing admiration and awe. “That’s when I realized, ‘Wow! I’m pretty good at this, and nobody else in the class can do it; this is pretty cool.” In the ensuing years, he would capitalize on Beatlemania, parlaying his skills into a lunchroom trade by copying images of the Fab Four from trading cards and other memorabilia for appetizing contents of his classmates’ lunchboxes. “I saw my market and I went after it,” he jokes. A foreshadowing of things to come. By the time he was coming of age in the early to mid-1970s, Lukens had spent about a year at East Carolina before withdrawing to work for a couple of years. He also faced another hurdle: His preference for representational art, exemplified by Renaissance masters Titian, Caravaggio, Rubens and Velázquez and later artists such as Corot, Degas, John Singer Sargent, George Bellows and Edward Hopper, was
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unfashionable at the time. “It was all about Modern art,” Lukens remembers. With Abstract Expressionism ruling the day, art instruction emphasized “an idea,” he observes, while basic skills — drawing, composition, color — “got swept under the rug.” Nonetheless, his dream of becoming a professional artist burned bright. To fulfill it, he enrolled in a nascent but rigorous commercial art program at GTI (now GTCC). He was one of only eight out of 120 students to graduate and embarked on a career as an advertising illustrator. “When I was in advertising, I would make ads and then do the illustration for it, because that’s what I really wanted to be doing. Not making ads. But I also needed to make a living as an artist. And this was the best way I could figure out,” he concedes. He talks of the layers of agency bureaucracy — art directors, creative directors, committees of clients — affecting the final outcome of his work. “You learn to put your ego in a box,” he notes. After 15 years in the business and earning a good living, Lukens was approaching a turning point. He was also keenly aware of changes in the business that the digital age had ushered in. “All the art directors and illustrators were sitting in front of a computer all day long doing their work. And I thought, ‘There’s no way I’m going to do that.’” He wanted to paint full time and knew he had to find a market — just as he had with his lucrative Beatlemania enterprise all those years ago — and considered wildlife paintings, which were popular. The only problem? “You do three The Art & Soul of Greensboro
paintings a year, you pay for a thousand prints of each and you’d spend the rest of the time selling those prints,” Lukens says. “That just didn’t appeal to me. I just wanted to paint all the time.” In the early ’90s, a visit to the Sedgefield Horse Show with a colleague provided him with a solution. “I got the picture pretty quick that this is an expensive sport and all the people who participate in it are wealthy.” In other words, he’d found a market. It would take some trial and error, and making the rounds of the horse-show circuit with a vendor’s tent and forging connections that led to clients by word-of-mouth, but again, Lukens succeeded. His approach to equestrian portraiture was unusual. Working in acrylics, Prismacolor pencil and watercolor from photographs taken at his clients’ stables (“you can’t get a 1,200-pound horse to stand still”), he applied his uncompromising representational style in depicting equine anatomy, highlighting every sinew beneath the sheen of his subjects’ glossy coats. But he brought to his compositions a contemporary feel, perhaps owing to his advertising background. In one painting, the graceful curve of a horse’s neck dominates the foreground, as its head is turned in profile. In another, the muscles of a foreleg are set in high relief, framed by the rider’s boot in the stirrup at the painting’s edge. Sure, Lukens' artistic eye didn’t always jibe with clients’ wishes and he’d have to make concessions, as he did in the advertising business, but he was living out his dream. Or partially. Lukens’ desire to work in oil on canvas, like his Renaissance idols, tugged at March 2020
him. “I started thinking: ‘How can I improve?’” the artist remembers. “I literally thought, ‘these old masters that painted oil on canvas . . . I’m just not worthy.’” He tried the medium on his own, took workshops here and there “but just couldn’t get it.” And that’s why, at age 47, Lukens went back to art school. At the time, in 1998, there were no institutions in the Southeast offering the classic academic curriculum the artist sought. His choices were by and large limited to the Northeast. Having lived for seven years alone on a 600-acre farm in Lewisville, he packed up his belongings and moved to a bungalow in the tiny coastal town of Old Lyme Connecticut, home of Lyme Academy of Fine Arts. “It was fantastic,” Lukens enthuses. “The second year I had over 1,000 hours of drawing and painting from a live model, which was the training that all my heroes from the Renaissance had.” With classmates ranging from recent high school graduates to 65-plus retirees, he was the only middle-aged student, but he says, “Everybody was in it together, there to learn.” He relished the moments, when live models would take breaks, affording the students opportunities to assess each other’s works. “I learned as much from the other artists during the model breaks as from the instructors,” Lukens says. One of them, Sam Adoquei, had made a profound influence in a life-drawing class. “He taught me how to construct the figure and the composition in a third the amount of time that I’d been spending,” the artist remembers. “That gave me two-thirds my time to develop my drawing. So all of a sudden, my work just looks phenomenally improved.” He decided to study further under Adoquei’s tutelage at the National Academy in New York, conquering one hurdle of finding affordable housing through an equestrian connection, only to face another: The course of study began in early September of 2001. Lukens’ stay in New York started with the attacks on the World Trade Center, which the artist would witness from atop a 41-story building at 90th Street and Broadway. After a semester at the National Academy, he applied for the Copyist Program at no less than the Metropolitan Museum of Art, replicating the works of Velázquez. “It was as good as any class I took,” he allows. Sure, you can read about the artist or observe it. “Or you could attempt to copy what the artist has done, which forces you to observe all the nuances.” He likens the process to playing tennis against a stronger opponent, who ups your game. He was even filmed on PBS program, EGG the Arts Show, expressing a similar sentiment. Following his brief appearance on camera, the Met saw a spike in copyist applicants. While living in New York, Lukens also took to painting streetscapes, but big city representational galleries were interested only in artists with Ivy League training. So in 2008, with his aging parents in need of help, Lukens headed home. Greensboro, like so many places at the time, was falling into the slumber of the Great Recession, but Lukens still had his equestrian portraiture to keep him going. He was reconnecting with family and friends, ensconcing himself in the local arts scene. With a studio downtown, he took a notion to start painting streetscapes of the Gate City. In one, a ghostly Jefferson Building looms on the horizon. Another depicts the former location of the Green Bean, one of Lukens’ favorite haunts, glowing against a night sky. After his move to Revolution Mill, he would paint its courtyard, painstakingly recreating the individual bricks of the old factory. “I’ve always worked very tightly,” Lukens says. “I guess that’s my Dutch-German roots,” he adds This tendency stands out in a close-up of a butterfly alighting on a flower. The brilliance of the wings, with every marking visible and every vein of a plant framing the foreground, stands in stark contrast to a plain background of dark green. Lukens explains how he had painted out a busier background consisting of hills and woods and a pond that competed with the butterfly. The plainer background makes the image pop. It’s also bears out the artist’s love of oils. Not only is the medium more forgiving, allowing him to paint over something if he chooses to change, it also “creates an aura” or added layer of energy to the painting. Greensboro, it turns out, is more receptive to these true-to-life works. In fact, the world at large is waking up to the value of representational painting. “It’s huge!” Lukens says, citing a movement called Disrupted Realism, combining
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representational art with abstract, the vindication in his voice palpable. A major catalyst for the change in attitude? Social media. “I’m there for inspiration,” he explains. “When I have time to work on my own paintings, it’s the imagery that I’m finding on Instagram that inspires me that motivates me to tackle my next painting and how I’m going to tackle it.” It’s also led him to other artists, such as the five he’s highlighting in a new show, Interiors, which opened last month at Gallery 1250, across from his studio at Revolution Mill. As chronicled in this magazine last fall, Lukens proposed a use for the space originally intended as an extension of Weatherspoon. “One of the things that motivated me to start this gallery: I want to show the best professional painters in the area and showcase them. I want to expose them to people who might not be familiar with their work,” he says. The role of gallery director is uncharted territory for the artist, who estimates it’s taking up about 70 percent of his time. Even so, Lukens carves out enough to sustain the dream that he’s pursued so relentlessly, for, as he says, “It’s the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do.” OH Info: janlukens.com; revolutionmillgreensboro.com/gallery-1250 Nancy Oakley is the senior editor of O.Henry.
The greatness of Walter Hines Page By Bill Case
oodrow Wilson spent the bulk of his first term steering America clear of World War I, which had raged over Europe for 2 1/2 years when he made his bid for reelection. He used the slogans “America First” and “He Kept Us Out of War” during his 1916 campaign, which led to his narrow electoral victory. However, a growing number of Americans felt that Wilson’s neutrality policy was wrongheaded following his response to a German U-boat’s May 1915 sinking of the unarmed British ocean liner Lusitania with 128 American passengers aboard. Few in his administration spoke in opposition. One member of the inner circle who dared to question the president’s ap-
proach was Walter Hines Page, America’s ambassador to Great Britain. Wilson had appointed his longtime confidant to the prestigious post in 1913. Page’s selection was not based on his diplomacy experience, since he had none. It had more to do with rewarding the native North Carolinian for his role in aiding Wilson’s political advancement over a 30-year period. It was presumed the ambassadorship would provide the 57-year-old Page a mostly trouble-free conclusion to a remarkably eclectic career that had included successful turns in academia, journalism, publishing, social reform, public policy advocacy and farming. But the ambassador considered it his duty to inform the president of British (and his own) disapproval with the administration’s failure to act more decisively toward Germany. His fault-finding missives from London The Art & Soul of Greensboro
Page’s coverage of the commission brought him to Atlanta in 1882, where he irritated Wilson, who complained that Page “seemed more British than the met 26-year-old Woodrow Wilson. The two men engaged in a discussion regardBritish.” A degree of frost formed over their relationship. ing the merits of protectionism versus free trade. Believing he had discovered a Page was born in 1855 in a small settlement in Wake County, North budding political star, Page would gush to a colleague that Wilson “has one of Carolina, that eventually became the city of Cary. His father, Allison Francis the finest minds in America. Keep your eye on him!” (Frank) Page, founded the town. A rugged, God-fearing Methodist, Frank When the World changed ownership in May 1883, Page resigned and Page made a small fortune extracting turpentine from pine trees and sawmillreturned to North Carolina hoping to personally own and edit a publication ing them into lumber. Standing an impressive 6 feet 5 inches, he commanded in his home state. With financial help from his father, he launched a weekly respect bordering on awe. Walter’s mother, Catherine, was of a more intellectual newspaper in Raleigh, The State Chronicle. Page’s editorials lauded Democratic bent, usually observed with a book in her hands. presidential candidate Grover Cleveland and derided local politicians as “small The tall, gangling, curly-headed boy’s parents steered their scholarly son in men” holding obsolete and parochial views. the direction of the ministry, sending the 16-year-old to Methodist-run Trinity The paper proved unprofitable, however, and in February 1885, Page ceded College, located in the backwoods of Randolph County (later the school moved its control to Josephus Daniels (who would later buy Raleigh’s principal newsto Durham and was renamed Duke University). paper, the News and Observer), and retreated to New York. Though still revering Wat, as he was called, was miserable at Trinity, and after an unhappy year North Carolina, the frustrated Page abandoned thoughts of making a living transferred in 1872 to another Methodist school, Randolph-Macon College, in there. He told his father, “there is no (use) in my trying to do anything down Ashland, Virginia. south anymore. I have proved disastrous every time.” “It was at Ashland that I first began to unfold,” Page would later remark. Comfortably ensconced in Manhattan with Alice and two toddlers, Ralph “Dear old Ashland!” Though he loved school he resisted his father’s wishes that and Arthur (who would later be joined by two more children, Frank and he become a minister. “I’m damned if I’ll become a Methodist preacher,” he Katharine), Page penned freelance told his father. After a disappointed Frank articles for magazines like The Atlantic and refused to pay for further tuition, Walter Harper’s Magazine mostly pertaining to self-financed the remainder of his education. the South and national politics. He was In 1876, Page was one of 21 students becoming, as one biographer put it, “a selfgaining admittance to America’s first graduappointed but recognized ambassador from ate school at Johns Hopkins University. the South to the North.” Initially, he flourished in the intense regiPage rose to prominence in New York’s men, but by the midterm of his second year, magazine scene — unusual for a Southerner he had become bored with the nuances at the time — ultimately landing in Boston of Greek and Latin, disparagingly calling as the editor of The Atlantic — the magazine himself a “Greek drudge,” and left without industry’s gold standard — and its bookcompleting his course of study. publishing parent, Houghton, Mifflin & Visualizing a career in journalism and Company. harboring “dreams and aspirations” of As editor, Page cultivated the era’s top ficowning and editing a magazine, he invested tion writers, and expanded Atlantic’s treat$1,000 and became half-owner and the ediment of political topics such as American torial writer of a fledgling Louisville weekly Ambassador Walter Hines Page and the embassy staff imperialism and the perils of unregulated called The Age after teaching there. monopolies. At Page’s behest, his friend Unfortunately, it folded in June 1879, Woodrow Wilson contributed three public policy articles. barely three months after his investment. Page’s gravitation toward national politics did not deter him from expoundUndaunted, Page combed his native North Carolina looking for “any sort” ing on a pet concern: Southern educational reform. He spoke on the subject of journalistic position, but, as he ruefully put it, “journalism didn’t seem in any in Greensboro at the Normal School’s 1897 commencement exercises. In his hurry to make up its mind to admit me.” eloquent “Forgotten Man” speech, which served as an important catalyst for educational reform in North Carolina, Page maintained that the state had During a summer stay in Cary, Page fell in love with Alice Wilson, whom failed to develop its most valuable resource, “the people themselves . . . forgothe’d first met as a teenager. The smitten couple became engaged during the ten and neglected.” He decried North Carolina’s long history of providing scant 1879 Christmas holidays, postponing marriage until Page could obtain gainresources to educate the less fortunate. These were the people whom “both the ful employment. politician and the preacher have failed to lift.” Unable to find his footing as 1880 loomed, a breakthrough occurred in Though sitting in one of publishing’s most prestigious editorial chairs, Page January when Walter Page landed a job as a reporter at a St. Joseph, Missouri, still longed to be his own boss. He resigned from The Atlantic in 1899 and, after newspaper, The Gazette, contributing all kinds of articles “from stockyard a brief misbegotten adventure with McClure’s Magazine, ventured into the book reports to political editorials and heavy literary articles.” After five months, the publishing business with Frank in New York. Doubleday, Page & Company publisher promoted young Page to editor-in-chief and raised his salary, giving started small, but grew quickly. Page enticed prominent men of letters like Walter and Alice the wherewithal to tie the knot in November 1880. Page Theodore Dreiser, Booker T. Washington, Rudyard Kipling and Upton Sinclair wrote to several Northern newspapers, advising them of his intention to travel, to join the publisher’s list. Woodrow Wilson’s book The New Freedom was sold observe and write about the post-Civil War South. under the Doubleday, Page umbrella. The company published a magazine, The His letter-writing gambit succeeded. The big-city papers printed his submisWorld’sWork, which became Page’s primary focus. sions and paid for the privilege. “I had money in my pocket for the first time in Sons Ralph and Frank would follow their father into journalism. Ralph my life,” he recalled. Moreover, the essays impressed the editor of the New York wrote a successful book as well as articles for The World’s Work. Frank World, who offered Page a correspondent’s job with the paper. He accepted and became an editor. headed north. His beat included congressional hearings regarding tariff meaMeanwhile, Page continued to assist Woodrow Wilson’s political sures as well as the tariff commission itself. advancement. The Art & Soul of Greensboro
He came to his fellow Southerner’s aid in 1910 when Wilson, then the president of Princeton University, successfully ran for governor of New Jersey. Wilson’s meteoric political rise was capped by his election to the presidency two years later. Page played a significant role in Wilson’s presidential campaign, raising money and providing reams of favorable publicity in The World’s Work. Following the election, Wilson met with Page to obtain the latter’s advice regarding prospective administration appointments. The Washington rumor mill speculated that The World’s Work editor would soon be appointed either secretary of Agriculture or secretary of the Interior. On March 26, 1913, now-President Wilson threw Page a curveball. Instead of the anticipated Washington Cabinet post, Wilson offered Page the position of ambassador to Great Britain. The surprised Page harbored misgivings over the prospect of leaving America for an extended period but understood the ambassadorship was a glamorous assignment. He agreed to serve, and boarded the ocean liner Baltic sailing for England on May 15, 1913. “Here I am going to London to talk international affairs with the men who rule the British Empire,” wrote Page while aboard ship. Indeed, he got along famously with the bluebloods in London’s highest places: royalty, members of Parliament, and most especially Sir Edward Grey, the foreign minister, who would become a close personal friend. Page regarded it his responsibility to provide the president unvarnished British reaction to U.S. policies. One such example occurred when Congress enacted legislation in 1912 exempting American ships from the payment of tolls when passing through the Panama Canal. An outraged British government claimed this measure breached a treaty providing that ships of all nations would be treated equally in their use of the canal. Page’s September 13, 1913 letter to Wilson cited “the dishonorable attitude of our Government about the Panama Canal tolls . . . We made a bargain — a solemn compact — and we have broken it.” Wilson agreed with Page’s view and appreciated the ambassador’s hardhitting assessment. “Your letters are like a lamp to my feet,” responded the president. Wilson persuaded Congress to repeal the exemption. Throughout the first year-and-a-half of Page’s ambassadorship, Wilson expressed delight with his friend’s erudite correspondence. “I hope that Walter Page’s letters will be published. They are the best letters I have ever read!” exclaimed the president. The outbreak of World War I in July 1914 aggravated the manifold burdens of Ambassador Page’s office. London-based Americans, fearful of being caught in the middle of the war, were leaving England in droves, requiring the ambassador’s assistance. But the ambassador’s hardest task was to avoid doing anything that would contravene American neutrality toward the belligerents while at the same time conveying his personal sympathy and friendship to Great Britain. The exhausting duties caused his health to deteriorate as an ulcer flared up, made worse by Page’s incessant smoking. During the first years of the war, Wilson sought to be an impartial mediator, hoping to obtain peace by seeking common ground between the warring countries. Page considered the president’s impulses noble but naïve. According to Page, the German leaders, were “another case of Napoleon— even more brutal; a dream of universal conquest . . . Prussian militarism (must) be utterly cut out, as surgeons cut out a cancer. And the Allies will do it — must do it — to live.” Wilson’s reading pleasure dissipated as Page’s increasingly unwelcome correspondence advanced positions out of synch with those of the administration. With his re-election campaign looming, Wilson was determined to do nothing that could draw America into the war or undermine his role as a mediator of peace. The antagonized president ignored his ambassador’s entreaties, other than to warn him through staff “to please be more careful not to express any unneutral feeling either by word of mouth or by letter.” Page was stunned by Wilson’s failure to comprehend the threat to democracy caused by autocratic Germany. His exasperation grew when the president issued a “we are too proud to fight” statement in response to the sinking of the Lusitania. After the Germans torpedoed another ship with Americans aboard, Page wrote the president in January 1916 that officials in the prime minis-
ter’s cabinet had confided their impression “that the United States will submit to any indignity.” American state department diplomats began meeting regularly with their British counterparts without bothering to notify the out-of-step ambassador. Page visited America during August and September 1916, ultimately gaining an audience with the president on September 23. Although cordial enough, the president stiff-armed Page’s assertion that Germany was the world’s scourge. The ambassador was profoundly discouraged with Wilson’sassessment that the war was “essentially a quarrel to settle economic rivalries between Germany & England.” Wilson assumed his bargaining hand as peacemaker would be strengthened by his re-election, but he was wrong. Two events in early 1917 would end his mediation efforts and draw America into the conflict. In an attempt to starve out its enemy, Germany announced that it would henceforward commit unrestricted submarine warfare against any neutral countries’ ships transporting goods to England, including the U.S. This was followed by British intelligence’s discovery of the “Zimmerman telegram” cabled by the German Foreign Office to the Mexican government. It proposed a military alliance between those two countries in which Mexico would ultimately recover the states of Texas, Arizona and New Mexico in the event America entered the war. Americans were outraged at Germany’s treachery, and public opinion suddenly turned in favor of entering the war. It took another month for Wilson to abandon hopes for peace and ask Congress to declare war, but he finally did so on April 2. Page was elated. “I cannot conceal nor can I repress my gratification we are in the war at last,” he wrote. He felt vindicated that his “letters & telegrams . . . for nearly two years” had proved clairvoyant and helped alter Wilson’s pacifistic stance. “I have accomplished something . . . I swear I have.” The war dragged into 1918, and American casualties mounted, including Page’s nephew, Allison Page, a U.S. Marine, killed in battle at Belleau Wood. Page’s health, never robust, got progressively worse. He suffered from hardening of the arteries, high blood pressure and early-stage emphysema. Told he would require six months’ rest, Page wrote Wilson on August 1 and submitted his resignation. When he left London on October 2, he required support on each arm to make it to his private railroad car. Upon reaching New York, further examination added diagnoses of retinal hemorrhages, heart congestion and kidney failure to Page’s mounting woes. On December 11, Page boarded a private railroad car and came home to North Carolina. Literally carried off the train by his son at the Aberdeen station, he remarked, “Well, Frank, I did get here after all, didn’t I?” Walter and Alice Page rented a cottage in Pinehurst. Page was reunited with several of his siblings, but his condition declined a week later. He died on December 21. Following its practice of not printing a word about deaths in Pinehurst, the Pinehurst Outlook, coincidentally edited by Ralph, made no announcement of his father’s demise. But Page’s Christmas Eve funeral at Page Memorial Church and burial at the Page family plot at Old Bethesda Cemetery in Aberdeen did receive international attention. Given his role in ending the “War to End All Wars,” virtually giving his life to the cause, Walter Page was hailed as an American hero. His grave became a mecca, visited by grateful Americans paying him honor. The state built a road to the cemetery to absorb the traffic. Johns Hopkins would honor Page by founding the Walter Page School of International Relations. While Wilson and his administration did not always appreciate Walter Hines Page, England still does. In a vestibule of Westminster Abbey is a sculpture of Page with a testament that reads, “The friend of Britain in her sorest need." OH Pinehurst resident Bill Case is PineStraw’s history man. He can be reached at Bill.Case@thompsonhine.com.
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First Class How the Page Pirates got their swagger By Billy Ingram n 1958, three seemingly unrelated events would lead to unforeseen inevitabilities, all but assuring that life in America would never again be the same — the nation’s first satellite was blasted into orbit, credit cards were test marketed in one small city and an obscure Texas Instruments’ engineer developed the first microchip. But, as far as teenagers around here went, they were under the thrall of Kookie’s comb and Wham-O Hula Hoops. An assembly was held at Aycock Junior High in the spring of 1958 during which ninth graders were asked to come up with a mascot for Greensboro’s brand-new Walter Hines Page High, the school where most of those students would be attending in the fall. Ironically to this day, it remains something of a mystery why the school was named for Walter Hines Page. The student body came up with “Page Pirates.” Perhaps apropos when one considers that, in addition to that enormous lake to the north of the property, just beyond the trees in front of campus sat another large body of water where Sherwood Country Club and Fountain Manor are today. Surrounded on all sides by lagoons and tall pines, Page High School was essentially an island unto itself. On Thursday, September 4, 1958, around 500 students along with 30 teachers and administrators began a scholastic journey that continues to this day. A ready-to-go opening with varsity football, junior and varsity basketball, wrestling, cheerleaders, majorettes, band, along with girls speedball and basketball teams. Extracurricular activities included Junior Engineers, Hi-Y, Civitans, and Junior Optimists. Page was the first school in North Carolina history to earn accreditation in its first academic year. Casual school day attire for men consisted of Madder-Tone shirts, polished cotton slacks and penny loafers. Male students were no longer required to wear coats and ties on a daily basis but it was still de rigueur for picture days. In a photo of the first senior class walking toward the camera, some subversive beatnik in the front row has no tie on, clad in a windbreaker instead of a sport coat. That guy’s cruisin’ for a bruisin’! Co-eds strolled the halls in Kerrybrooke car coats, pullover sweaters, sensible blouses with Peter Pan collars, pleated calf-length dresses, with nylon stockings tucked into E-Jays saddle shoes or black ballerina flats. Single strand of petite pearls optional. Slacks? You’d be sent home to change into something more ladylike. In Mrs. Luther’s Family Life class, students were subjected to educational films instructing kids on how to navigate the boundaries of a polite society, with titles like How to Say No: Moral Maturity, The Bottle and the Throttle and Duck and Cover (“when an atomic bomb explodes”). Page’s Cafeteria was up and running on day one but students with wheels The Art & Soul of Greensboro
peeled out at lunchtime for Alpat or the snack shop inside the GI 1200 store, both on Bessemer. State Street Grill was closest to campus. No fast food chains, the city’s first McDonald’s on Summit was a year away from opening. On Thursdays after school, cool cats and kittens pointed their jalopies toward WFMY’s studios to make the scene on the RC Dance Party, airing live at 5:30 p.m. Sponsored by Royal Crown Cola, Twisting teens gyrated to the sounds of The Big Bopper, Teresa Brewer, Ricky Nelson, and The Purple People Eater by Sheb Wooley. Like endsville, man! Changing out of school clothes, that’s when girls slipped into their pedal pushers, Blue Bell Jeanie capri pants and tight, pink cashmere sweaters (“Daaaad . . . all the kids dress like this!”). Date nights began with a fellow in his Sunday best appearing at the door, gotta chat up the old man before escorting his dish for a night on the town in his ’55 T-bird meatgrinder. Daddy-os and dolls burned rubber to the edge of town at night for curb service at the Boar and Castle, a ‘Flake Shake’ with two straws at Monroe’s, making goo-goo eyes over a “Bucket Full” of spaghetti for only a buck at McClure’s Sky Castle, or catching — not necessarily watching — a double feature at the South Drive-In Theatre where guys hoped to engage in some Back Seat Bingo (“Hey baby, I’m layin’ it down but you’re not pickin’ it up!”). With no athletic field to speak of, Pirate home games were played on the football field at Greensboro High School, soon to be renamed Grimsley. Taking to the gridiron on the Friday night after school started, it was a blowout, Fair Grove whipping Page 14-0. Next week was even worse, 21-0 in favor of Mebane. Finishing the 1958 season 2-8, it wasn’t until 1960 that Pirates and Whirlies squared off against each other, sparking a never-ending rivalry. Yes, 1958 may have been an inauspicious beginning to the proud Page Pirates dynasty but at least a dozen athletic stars went on to impressive professional careers including Michael Brooks (Chargers, Cowboys), Lamont Burns (Jets, Eagles, Redskins), Lee Rouson (Giants, Browns), and Mo Spencer (Cardinals, Saints) who all played for the NFL. Former professional basketball player Danny Manning is currently head coach of the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. The most famous Page alumnus would have to be pro tennis great John Isner, who twice reached the quarterfinals at the US Open, and physician turned actor Ken Jeong (Knocked Up, The Hangover). Never underestimate the underdog, our landlocked Pirates continue to thrive on their veritable island of imagination, opportunity and individual visions for the future. Isn’t that the ginchiest? OH Billy Ingram attended Page High from 1971–74. He went on to a career in Hollywood as a movie poster artist and is the author of five books including Hamburger², a book (mostly) about Greensboro. March 2020
The Art & Soul of Greensboro
Model Citizens For Fred and Kay Ayers, collections are the comforts of home By Cynthia Adams â&#x20AC;¢ Photographs by John Koob Gessner
The Art & Soul of Greensboro
The Art & Soul of Greensboro
assion is at the forefront of Fred and Kay Ayers’ Hamilton Lakes home — and at the very center of their lives. Over the past 40 years, the residence evolved to serve the things that matter to its owners— highly crafted scale models of historic planes and iconic ships, plus tiny but incredibly accurate reproductions of rooms. The two are remarkably involved with their interests. One step inside the door and their passions are unmistakable. Two steps farther inside, where an enormous cabinet contains the HMS Sussex, an English warship lost in 1694, and both Ayers begin to smile. They already know what you are thinking — and don’t care. And, unlike the Victorians’ amazing cabinets of curiosity, this is a home. (Though it should be noted, the term “cabinet” originally meant “room.” And the good ship Sussex? That took years to complete.) The Ayers’ 3,500-square-foot ranch was already spacious when they first moved there in 1981 as newlyweds, but it has been added onto seemingly to accommodate the owners’ hobbies and collections. Giving new meaning to the term “project creep.” Today, the Ayers’ house and property are almost as much a museum as a home that represents a capacity to create and live with their hobbies and collections in an exuberant way. Like the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, or the Frida Kahlo home in Mexico City, the house exists not only as a residence, but to house what the resident collectors valued most. The Ayers give new definition to collector; they are also makers who have given themselves over to their interests. Models, created by Fred through countless hours of painstaking precision, are jaw-droppingly detailed, scale replicas of ships of various types and vintages. They bristle from wooden and glass cases. Handcrafted models of planes hang from the ceiling. These creations are museumworthy. In fact, two of Fred’s models are in museum collections in the Wilmington area. “On a normal day, he goes to his (work) room and works on something, and I do the same,” says Kay. But the boat models, she says with evident pride, “are what people need to know about. They’re museum-quality. He’s an artist.” “Aw, shoot,” Fred scoffs. “There’s always somebody better than you.” Each room of the Ayers’ home, from the entry to the gardens beyond bears the indelible stamp of the Ayers’ obsessions. Over time, the house had to change to accommodate their collections, not the reverse. Rather than moving on, they called the contractor. “We kept adding on,” says Fred. “But the first thing we did was to put in the swimming pool.” The swimming pool is just off the den at the rear of the house. It, by the way, is surrounded by four oversized fiberglass animals from a former miniature golf course on Battleground Avenue that the couple had invested in. “We bought the franchise for the golf course,” says Fred. “We brought four of the animals here and three are in the country,” he says. (They’re installed where they can enjoy the great outdoors at the Ayers’ getaway near Siler City). The Art & Soul of Greensboro
The Art & Soul of Greensboro
He jokes wryly, “that’s about all we got out of it.” Kay says the elephant was sitting right outside for several years. “Our neighbor, David Kriegsman, said he missed the elephant when we moved it with the giraffes to the country.” The couple add the details, shaking their heads, both chuckling. But room after room showcases hand-built collections that span their lifetimes. Kay calls one room the “JV — junior varsity — room” as it contains the boat models that are kit-built. “The other is the Varsity room — for scratch-built models.” Much like cameo carvers who sacrifice precious vision to their art, it’s impossible not to wonder how Fred Ayers has any vision remaining at all. The simpatico collecting couple came from different backgrounds — hers is finance, his is the family business, Colonial Vending Company. (More about that later.) He’s a Carolina fan. She pulls for Duke. Yet they bonded like, well, glue, over their shared passion for creation. “Kay’s an artist. Has a lot of good ideas,” says Fred Ayers. And by George, she can execute those ideas. Proof of this — seven glass-encased miniature rooms she created in intricate detail — much like the ones Otto Zenke designed still exhibited at the Greensboro History Museum. She half-heartedly explains that she stopped producing them due to lack of display space as Fred’s prolific model-making expanded. The rooms are proof of a latent artistry Kay developed after retiring from the State Employees Credit Union, which she managed. Her mother, Ella Lewis Cobb, was an artist, who sold depictions of family coats of arms, and commissioned pastel portraits. Her works are scattered throughout the house, as well. Cobb also painted several faux details in the Ayers’ home, including a bathroom that Kay jokes “I can never change.” Ayers’ father, Fred Sr., developed the family business, which included amusements and music (including video games, juke boxes, you name it.) His father was originally a bank teller. When he left banking at age 45, he bought a jukebox route. Fred Jr. was only 5 at the time, so he grew up with vinyl records and developed a full initiation into amusements. He joined the family business part time at age 16 in 1963 before attending college, as the business morphed into the Fred Ayers Music Company. “The shop was on Greene Street, next to a Scott Seed,” says Fred. “It later moved to Chapman.” Today, the 76-year-old business is known as the Colonial Vending Company. It The Art & Soul of Greensboro
Kay Ayers’ pint-sized model rooms March 2020
remains under the auspices of Fred Jr. He points to a 1949 Wurlitzer. “We saved it off the route; we used to drive them [jukeboxes] to the dump.” It is a symbolic collectible, a still-working reminder of the jukebox origins of a business created by his father. Yet since childhood, Fred immersed himself in creating scale models. He found helping hands in the neighborhood and also downtown. In the 1950s, the Ayers’ family lived on Wright Avenue in Sunset Hills. “We moved to Audubon Drive in 1954, after Hurricane Hazel,” he says, not due to storm damage, although he remembers downed power lines around the former Ham’s restaurant on Friendly. He most fondly recalls mentors in the neighborhood and downtown near his father’s business. One, named Bob Foster, lived on Wright. He was a librarian by vocation, but “messed with model airplanes.” “We’re still friends,” Fred says. Then another key influence was Harold Bunting, who owned a hobby shop. “He was upstairs over the Coble Sporting Goods store downtown.” Bunting would help kids learn, Fred says. “He helped a lot of kids with models, helping them build. He dedicated himself to helping kids.” Now, Fred “loves to see kids get into working with their hands.” Young Fred spent hours helping neighborhood fathers building pinewood derby cars, while assembling his own plastic model airplanes in his attic. He spent much of his spare time scavenging for supplies to repurpose. “I went to construction sites and asked for scrap.” Come Christmas, young Fred would ask for tools. “A hammer and saw.” Now his workshop contains every tool, gadget, and necessity a kid could dream of owning. On a winter’s afternoon early in January, an oversized truck in the couple’s
driveway was backed up to the street with a handwritten sign indicating that UPS should leave packages there. The Ayers were about to go check out a collectible in Florida that interested them. Meanwhile, a Ferrari sat nearby under cover, quietly minding its own business and managing to keep a low profile, hemmed in behind the no-nonsense truck. A chainsaw whined farther down the street, a pleasant, albeit ordinary, tree-lined thoroughfare. Except, the sign on the truck is a mystery that deepens later, as most of the deliveries to Fred Ayers are wee supplies extremely small in scale — the odd bits and bobs he needs to complete replicas. Hardly large enough to need a truck bed. Of course, Fred sources many things online, even the rare cars he admires around the globe, locating one in South Africa. So, it’s not necessarily the case that all packages are small. As an adult, the maturing Fred moved onto the real thing — enjoying big boy’s toys. Fred Sr. liked statement cars, which must have been an influence. “He owned a pink T-bird with a black interior,” Fred remembers. “My first car was a [Datsun] 240 Z, white, acquired in the 1970s when they first came out.” He wishes he still had it. (“His tastes are more expensive than mine,” inserts Kay. “He would keep everything he ever had if he could,” she adds.) And Fred has a need for speed. “My nerves are very good,” he grins. Good enough to corner the red 1990 Ferrari in the carport. “It has 16,000 miles on the odometer,” he offers. And certainly, good enough to drive a Ford G 240 replica, the same as the one depicted in the recent Oscar-winning flick, Ford v Ferrari. He has owned or still owns two MGs, BMWs, Porsches, a Lotus, a 1967 Mini Cooper S and a Daytona Cobra, also a kit car. “I got the GT40 from South Africa,” Fred says. “Built as a 1966 replica. Shipped in on a container.” There have been other exotic cars in his past. “I had a Lotus Super 7, and traded it for a 2005 Mercedes.” He calls the Mercedes “Kay’s car,” yet he drives it to the office, she points out. Meanwhile, Fred wishes he had the Lotus back. The couple also acquired more mainstream cars, like Navigators, Tahoes, a Lexus, and even Ford trucks. But the GT40 Ford, the replica, is Fred’s current favorite. “I want to find a Morgan,” says the tireless collector of rare cars. He keeps several cars in the country where the couple often spend weekends. Here, a garage and other buildings have slowly evolved into a country place with a water view. Over the past 40 years, Fred Jr. has built more than 50 plane and boat models. One, a one-eighth scale replica of North Carolina’s most famous battleship is now owned by the N.C. Port Authority and on display in the Roll of Honor room inside the ship at the USS North Carolina Battleship Memorial. That replica was nearly three years in the making. Fred began working on the battleship model in the kitchen in 1991, taking multiple trips to Wilmington to study the actual ship while the work progressed. He photographed and noted, even memorized, details of the ship on repeat trips to the USS North Carolina, now permanently docked. A catalog photo first caught his eye. Then the real thing proved it would be a worthy challenge. Eventually, the sheer size of the battleship model overtook the kitchen. This prompted the couple to add on the workroom at the rear of the house because, Kay smiles, “He needed a place to work and we needed a place to eat.” It was challenging, even though Fred used a pre-made fiberglass hull and superstructure. He assembled all else, which included decks, towers, even guns. The Ayers rented a van and drove it to the Port Authority in Wilmington in 1993 on New Year’s Eve. The van was of necessity; the cargo was too large for their car — the finished model was 91 inches long, 13 inches wide, and 24 inches high. News accounts reported on a gift that both Fred and Kay downplay. The News and Record wrote about the replica: The Art & Soul of Greensboro
“The detail is astounding. Tiny life preservers, fire extinguishers, fire hoses and nautical flags dot the gray exterior of the ship. At the stern, two OS2U Vought Kingfisher seaplanes stand ready to zoom into the wild blue yonder. Nearby are two cranes which were used to pluck the planes from the sea and return them to the ship.” That was nearly 30 years ago, Fred protests, batting away praise. Many, many projects ago. He built a Liberty ship and donated it initially to the Bellamy Mansion, also in the Port City. “I think it is at the Port Authority. I loaned it to them, then later just left it with them.” Frankly,” Kay adds, “We’ve got nowhere to put it.” Fred also built troop transport ships, a submarine and other historically precise ships of many types and eras. A loosely organized group of model builders, including retired doctors and artists, meet for what Fred calls “show and tell.” The craftsmen live in Southern Pines, Raleigh, Beaufort and Matthews. “We try and get together every couple or three months. Last month we met at I-Hop in Clemmons. We talk shop.” That prompts him to mention, “Everybody wants to see each other’s shop, and sometimes that’s where we meet.” He adds that there are a lot of doctors who create models. “They’re good with their hands.” Also, exacting. Although he was never a sailor, the Chapel Hill graduate served in the National Guard in 1970. All the while, Fred explores full-size cars, planes and now even full-size ships. He recently built a boat — “a big one” Fred clarifies. It is a “Chris-Craft type mahogany one.” He points out the name painted on boat’s stern: Miss Kay. As for collecting, it isn’t sated. Fred has his eye on a 2002 Morgan, a rare car The Art & Soul of Greensboro
built with a partly wooden frame. He pulls up an image of the roadster online; it is now in Savannah, Georgia. It’s probably the same one he nearly bought years ago, and he is itching to call the owner. Meanwhile, their Amazon blue-front parrot, 19-year-old ironically named Byrd, calls to him reproachfully, as if chiding: “Fred. Fred. Fred.” Fred looks away from the coveted Morgan on the computer screen to answer. “What Byrd?” It was a rhetorical question; Byrd doesn’t respond. And Kay shakes her head, grinning. OH Cynthia Adams is a contributing editor to O.Henry. Her first car was a rusty powder blue Corvair, bought from Preacher Lanier — the same car made infamous by Ralph Nader’s Unsafe at Any Speed. Meanwhile, her Dad drove a Chevy pickup and her mother’s sled was an Elvis Presley pink Cadillac.
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A N L A M CA N A C A L M A
nB A y
arch is the blushing maiden, bright-eyed and smiling, her wild locks softly brushing your skin as she frolics past. You knew she was coming. The birds have been singing her name for weeks. And yet her arrival has taken you by surprise. You, too, are blushing. March is the blossoming redbud, soft light, a tapestry of pine needles, bark and grasses. The nuthatch has crafted her nest, and like the pregnant doe, belly swollen with late winter pansies, a new energy is alive inside of you — a new innocence. Pale pink blossoms adorn the saucer magnolia, but a tiny yellow flower has caught your eye. Dandelion. Simple, immaculate, glorious dandelion. You see it as if through the eyes of a child, pluck it from the tender earth, tuck it snug behind your ear. The birds are singing louder now. Ballads of clover, crocus, daffodil. And in the garden, each tiny blossom smiles back. March has arrived and, with it, spring — as much in your heart as the outside world.
Spring makes its own statement, so loud and clear that the gardener seems to be only one of the instruments, not the composer. — Geoffrey B. Charlesworth
Sometimes, especially on dreamy March mornings, the gentle pull of adventure arrives. On such mornings, you will wander for the sake of wandering, nectar-drunk as a hummingbird as the fragrance of spring blossoms swirls around you. You might follow the warmth of the sun, or a sweet aroma, or the distant rapping of a woodpecker, any of which will guide you someplace new. Then maybe, on some quiet woodland trail, you will discover a fluffy young dog. He won’t look hungry. Or lost. And from the way he is looking at you, he seems to be inviting you farther down the path. You’ll walk together, for a mile or so, before the path reveals a rolling field. This is when you’ll realize that, across the field, inside the cottage with the smoking chimney, someone might be wondering where their dog went. And so you’ll walk him home. Inside the cottage, which smells of rich and exotic spices, an elderly
woman is cooking dal on the stovetop. Her husband thanks you for returning Houdini (he slipped the gate again), and invites you to stay for lunch. “I’ve just gathered greens for the dandelion salad,” he tells you. You can’t say no to that.
All you need: dandelion greens, wild and tender. Wash thoroughly, then toss with whatever you’d like. Lemon juice, fresh dill, olive oil and pepper.
Glory of Spring
Goddess of Fertility Day is observed on Wednesday, March 18 — the day before official spring. Among the goddesses celebrated on this day, Aphrodite is by far the most widely known. Born from the foam of the sea, it’s fitting that this goddess of love and blinding beauty be remembered at a time when tender green shoots and brilliant flowers seemingly appear out of nowhere. Historically, those seeking to conceive would make offerings to Aphrodite on this day — flowers, greenery, dessert wine, and triangle-shaped honey cakes. Or, grow a garden in her honor.
Dandelions don’t tell no lies. — Mick Jagger
Laugh in Flowers
The earth has softened. In the garden, sow seeds for spinach, radish, turnip and kale. Plant a Flower Day is celebrated on Thursday, March 12 — but why stop at just one? March is a good month for planting lilies, tulips and roses. And don’t forget landscaping beauties, like rock cress, sweet pea or — in celebration of Saint Patrick’s Day on March 17 — clover.
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IN THE ABSTRACT. And how! See 45 new works acquired by Weatherspoon last summer on view in Finding Meaning: The Power and Possibility of Abstraction Selections from the Gift of Charles Weintraub and Emily Kass. Weatherspoon Art Museum, 500 Tate St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 3345770 or weatherspoonart.org.
WE THE PEOPLE. Catch the Smithsonian exhibit, American Democracy: A Great Leap of Faith, interspersed with milestones of democracy in N.C. — and Greensboro — as a part of Project Democracy 20/20. Greensboro History Museum, 130 Summit Ave., Greensboro. Info: (336) 373-2043 or greensborohistory.org.
March 1–June 7
HOOP-LA. Sport and art mix at To the Hoop: Basketball and Contemporary Art. Weatherspoon Art Museum, 500 Tate St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 3345770 or weatherspoonart.org. TRA LA LA! 3 p.m. Join the chorus at the third annual This CommUnity Sings! Featured songs include Leonard Cohen’s “Halleluja!”, Bill Withers’ “Lean On Me,” and Aretha Franklin’s “Respect,” among others. Carolina Theatre, 310 S. Greene St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 333-2605 or carolinatheatre.com.
WALLY WORLD. 7 p.m. Listen to some riffs and cool tunes at First Monday Jazz, courtesy of musician Wally West. Benjamin Branch Library, 1530 The Art & Soul of Greensboro
Benjamin Parkway, Greensboro. Info: (336) 373-7540 or library.greensboro-nc.gov.
COOL CATS. Noon. Meaning jazz greats pianist John Lewis and saxophonist Gerry Mulligan, original trio members on Miles Davis’ Birth of the Cool. Hear their music streamed live from Lincoln Center. High Point Library, 901 N. Main St., High Point. Info: (336) 885-1859 or highpointmuseum.org.
WEARIN’ O’ THE GREEN. 10 a.m. For kids 0–12, that is. Don some Kelly, forest or lime colors to go with the four-leaf clovers and leprechaun hats ye’ll be makin’. Little Red Schoolhouse, High Point Museum, 1859 E. Lexington Ave., High Point. Info: (336) 885-1859 or highpointmuseum.org. WORLD OF WORDS. 7 p.m. Reading the World Book Club continues with Senselessness by El Salvador’s Horacio Castellanos Moya. Scuppernong Books, 304 S. Elm St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 7631919 or scuppernongbooks.com.
HEROINES OF THE HARDWOOD. Catch the 2020 ACC Women’s Basketball Tournament. Game times vary. Greensboro Coliseum, 1921 W. Gate City Blvd., Greensboro. Tickets: (800) 745-3000 or ticketmaster.com.
Rags to Riches
IN STITCHES. 6:30 p.m. the Join Gate City Quilt Guild social featuring a talk by Judi Bastion, “Creating Your Own Designs.” Annual member-
ship to the guild is $35, for seniors, $20. New Garden Friends Meeting, 801 New Garden Road, Greensboro. Info: (336) 545-8071. AUTHOR, AUTHOR. 7 p.m. Meet Andrew Waters, author of The Quaker and the Gamecock. Scuppernong Books, 304 S. Elm St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 763-1919 or scuppernongbooks.com. HURRY, DON’T BE LATE. 8 p.m. Little River Band takes the stage. Carolina Theatre, 310 S. Greene St., Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 333-2605 or carolinatheatre.com. JENNED UP. 8 p.m. The Wailin’ Jennys are in tune and in town. Carolina Theatre, 310 S. Greene St., Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 333-2605 or carolinatheatre.com.
AMURRICAN IDOLS. 8:30 p.m. Hear roots-y band Front Country. The Crown, Carolina Theatre, 310 S. Greene St., Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 3332605 or carolinatheatre.com. LET’S GROOVE TONIGHT. 10 p.m. Rave on at Pop-Up Dance Club, featuring spins by DJ Jessica Mashburn. Print Works Bistro, 702 Green Valley Road, Greensboro. Info: (336) 379-0699 or printworksbistro.com.
THE PLANT-ASTICKS. 8:30 a.m. The Guilford Horticultural Society Symposium gets to the root of gardening matters. Paul J. Ciener Botanical Garden, 215 S. Main St., Kernersville. To register: (336) 7071071 or guilfordhorticulturalsociety.org/symposium. March 2020
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shops • service • food • farms HERB-ANITES. 10 a.m. Costumed interpreters explain early settlers’ use of herbs. Historical Park, High Point Museum, 1859 E. Lexington Ave., High Point. Info: (336) 885-1859 or highpointmuseum.org. BLUE SINGERS. 8 p.m. Meaning, indie-rock duo Indigo Girls, who will perform for free. Piedmont Hall, 2409 West Gate City Blvd., Greensboro. Info: greensborocoliseum.com.
March 7 & 8
TOEING THE LINE. 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. The Pointe! Studio of Dance and Elise Jonnell Performance Ensemble present “Let My People Go,” an all-dance interpretation of the 1998 animated film Prince of Egypt. Harrison Auditorium, A&T, 1009 Bluford St., Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 292-6949 or letmypeoplego2020.eventbrite.com.
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Tournament returns to the Gate City. Greensboro Coliseum, 1921 W. Gate City Blvd., Greensboro. Tickets: (800) 745-3000 or ticketmaster.com.
AUTHOR, AUTHOR. 6:30 p.m. Meet Richie Zweigenhaft, author of Geezerball: North Carolina Basketball at its Eldest. Weatherspoon Art Museum, 500 Tate St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 763-1919 or scuppernong.com. GREAT SCOTTY. 8 p.m. As in, Scotty McCreery, N.C. native and American Idol winner, who brings his local brand of country crooning to town. Piedmont Hall, 2409 West Gate City Blvd., Greensboro. Tickets: (800) 745-3000 or ticketmaster.com.
REPORTERS’ ROMANCE. 7 p.m. A laughable notion — unless Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell are playing the journos in question. See the 1940 comedy, His Girl Friday. Carolina Theatre, 310 S. Greene St., Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 333-2605 or carolinatheatre.com.
DO A LITTLE DANCE. 4 p.m. And get down tonight, because that’s the way, uh-huh, uh-huh you like it. Yep, 1970s disco sensation KC and the Sunshine band lights up the stage — gratis. White Oak Amphitheatre, 1921 W. Gate City Blvd., Greensboro. Tickets (required for entry): greensborocoliseum.com.
HEROES OF THE HARDWOOD. Now it’s the gents’ turn as the 2020 ACC Men’s Basketball
of the conflict, as well as recreations of soldiers’ camp life, among other events, which are subject to change. 2332 New Garden Road, Greensboro. Info nps.gov. HEROIC HARRIET. Noon and 2 p.m. Diane Faison performs a one-act, one-person play, The Spirit of Harriet Tubman, followed by a screening of Harriet, part of the Year of the Woman film series. High Point Museum, 1859 E. Lexington Ave., High Point. Info: (336) 885-1859 or highpointmuseum.org. SACRED SOUNDS 7:30 p.m. À la Carte presents music for Lent from Christian, Jewish, Islamic and secular realms. Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, 607 N. Greene St., Greensboro. Info: alcgreensboro.com.
March 14 & 28
IRON AGE. 10 a.m. Guess who’s stokin’ and smokin’ again this month? Yeah. That guy. The Blacksmith. High Point Museum, 1859 E. Lexington Ave., High Point. Info: (336) 885-1859 or highpointmuseum.org.
BATTLE READY. 8:30 a.m. Meaning the Battle of Guilford Courthouse, of course. See re-enactments
FRIPP SERVICE. 10 a.m. Hear a discussion, “Greensboro Milestones Captured on Camera,” [couldn’t find title] led by Gayle Fripp who has authored two photographic books documenting the Gate City’s growth. Greensboro History Museum, 130 Summit Ave., Greensboro. Info: (336) 373-2043 or greensborohistory.org.
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SHANTY-CLEER. 7 p.m. Anchors Away-hey-hey! The U.S. Navy Band, Sea Chanters and Cruisers bring down the house. Special Events Center, Greensboro Coliseum Complex, 1921 W. Gate City Blvd., Greensboro. Tickets: (800) 745-3000 or ticketmaster.com.
COLOR YOUR WORLD. 10 a.m. Make the world a brighter place with crayons, markers and pencils at “Let’s Color!” Little Red Schoolhouse, High Point Museum, 1859 E. Lexington Ave., High Point. Info: (336) 885-1859 or highpointmuseum.org. AUTHOR, AUTHOR. 7 p.m. Or rather, Photographer! Photographer! Meet Patrick Murphy, author of Reserved Mr. Memory. Scuppernong Books, 304 S. Elm St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 763-1919 or scuppernongbooks.com.
HUE DAT? 8 p.m. Listen to the hip hop–infused sounds of Greensboro’s own CLRTHRY (pronounced “Color Theory”) taking the stage with special guests Antion Scales and DJ Karolina. The Crown, Carolina Theatre, 310 S. Greene St., Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 333-2605 or carolinatheatre.com.
March 20 & 21
PATCHES. 10 a.m. Wonders emerge from scraps of cloth stitched together at A Kaleidascope of Quilts, presented by the Piedmont Quilters Guild of Greensboro. Admission is $5. Trotter Active Adult Center, 3906 Betula St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 681-3295 or piedmontquilts.org.
Green Valley Road, Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 5449614 or ohenryhotel.com. CHIN WAG. 7 p.m. Comedian and longtime Tonight Show host Jay Leno is the first performer to hold the spotlight at Steven Tanger Center for the Performing Arts, 300 N. Elm St., Greensboro. Tickets: (800) 745-3000 or ticketmaster.com, or tangercenter.com.
March 22–April 12
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ACT OUT! 10 a.m. Literally! NC Triad Theatre League holds its fourth annual unified auditions. Come prepared with 2-minute material: two contrasting monologues, a monologue and a song, or just a song. Venues vary. For registration and info: (336) 373-2728 or triadtheatre.com.
CUPPA CRAZY. 2 p.m. Step into Wonderland along with Alice, the Queen of Hearts and the Mad Hatter, at the Mad Hatter Tea. O.Henry Hotel, 624
POST-TROUBLES. 6:30 p.m. Lamar DeLoach, founder of the local chapter of Afro-American Genealogical and Historical Society, discusses the period of Reconstruction. High Point Public Library, 901 N. Main St., High Point. Info: (336) 885-1859 or highpointmuseum.org.
AUTHOR, AUTHOR. 6 p.m. Meet Nora Shalaway Carpenter, young adult author of The Edge of Anything. Scuppernong Books, 304 S. Elm St.,
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BENNETSVILLE. See Triad Stage’s adaptation of a Jane Austen favorite, Pride and Prejudice. Performance times vary. Pyrle Theatre, 334 S. Elm St., Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 272-0160 or triadstage.org.
HOPEFULS OF THE HARDWOOD. Who’ll make it to the Big Dance? Find out at the first and second rounds of the 2020 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. Greensboro Coliseum, 1921 W. Gate City Blvd., Greensboro. Tickets: (800) 745-3000 or ticketmaster.com.
MARCH 19, 2020
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TED ED. 8:30 a.m. Speakers, entertainers and TED talks fill the day at TEDxGreensboro. Van Dyke Performance Space, 200 N. Davie St., Greensboro. Registration and tickets: tedxgreensboro.com. AUTHOR, AUTHOR. 7 p.m. Meet naturalist Thorpe Moeckel, author of Down by the Eno, Down By the Haw. Scuppernong Books, 304 S. Elm St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 763-1919 or scuppernongbooks.com.
AUTHOR, AUTHOR. 7 p.m. Meet Mylène Dressler for the launch of her novel, I See You So Close. Scuppernong Books, 304 S. Elm St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 763-1919 or scuppernongbooks.com. TRIAD TUNEMAKERS. 8:30 p.m. Indie pop meets funk with performances by local acts William Hinson and Reliably Bad. The Crown, Carolina Theatre, 310 S. Greene St., Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 333-2605 or carolinatheatre.com.
FOOTLOOSE. 9 a.m. Everybody’s cutting a rug at Dance Project’s fourth annual Dance Marathon fundraiser. Van Dyke Performance Space and LeBauer
Park South Lawn, Greensboro Cultural Center, 200 N. Davie St., Greensboro. Info: danceproject.org/dpdm2020/. DYE-NO-MITE! 10 a.m. Pass on the Paas for old-school egg dyeing, using dyes from onion skin, blueberries and other natural elements. High Point Museum, 1859 E. Lexington Ave., High Point. Info: (336) 885-1859 or highpointmuseum.org. A TISKET, A TASKET . . . 10 a.m. And your very own Easter basket! Make one at the Little Red Schoolhouse. High Point Museum, 1859 E. Lexington Ave. High Point. Info: (336) 885-1859 or highpointmusuem.org. FUEL FOR SCHOOL. Noon. Meaning the nonprofit Greensboro New School, which hosts a fundraiser with food by Johnny Bakatsias of Western Steakhouse and a raffle at $10 a pop. Suggested donations for a plate are $8. Kids eat for free. Alumni Gym, Guilford College, 5800 W. Friendly Ave., Greensboro. Info: (336) 317-1084 or greensboronewschool.org. SIXTY-FIVE ROSES. 2 p.m. That’s a pneumonic device for “cystic fibrosis.” Attend a ladies’ tea and auction to raise funds for combatting the disease. Covenant Church United Methodist Church, 1526 Skeet Club Road, High Point. Tickets: (336) 6870438 or email Debbie Frisbee at firstname.lastname@example.org.
JOYFUL NOISES. 8 p.m. Greensboro Symphony graces the Tanger Center with its first concert, the appropriately named “Ode to Joy,” featuring the works of Copland, Tchaikovsky and Beethoven. Steven Tanger Center for Performing Arts, 300 N. Elm St., Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 335-5456 or greensborosymphony.org.
March 28 & 29
RAGS TO RICHES. 5 p.m. & 3 p.m. respectively. Greensboro Ballet presents the classic fairytale Cinderella, set to the music of Sergei Prokofiev. Carolina Theatre, 310 S. Greene St., Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 333-7480 or greensboroballet.org.
TEA AND TIARAS. 1:45 p.m. Dress as your favorite princess for Princess Tea with Cinderella,” courtesy of the Greensboro Ballet. Renaissance Room, Carolina Theatre, 310 S. Greene St., Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 333-2605 or carolinatheatre.com. BIRD & BRUBECK. 3 p.m. & 7 p.m. Take Five and groove to Piedmont Triad Jazz Orchestra’s homage to Dave Brubeck and Charlie Parker. Carolina Theatre, 310 S. Greene St., Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 333-2605 or carolinatheatre.com.
AUTHOR, AUTHOR. 7 p.m. Meet Christopher Hodgkins, author of Literary Study of the Bible.
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Arts Calendar Scuppernong Books, 304 S. Elm St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 763-1919 or scuppernongbooks.com. AU-SOME! 5:30 p.m. As a part of Guilford Creek Week, Sara Blanchett, Education Curator will present a discussion, “Carolina Gold: The History of Gold in North Carolina.” High Point Museum, 1859 E. Lexington Ave., High Point. Info: (336) 885-1859 or highpointmuseum.org.
WEEKLY HAPPENINGS Mondays
BUZZING. 10 a.m. Your busy little bees engage in a Busy Bees preschool program focusing on music, movement, garden exploration and fun in the kitchen (members only). Greensboro Children’s Museum, 220 N. Church St., Greensboro. To register: (336) 574-2898 or gcmuseum.com.
Noon. French leave? Au contraire! Join French Table, a conversation group. Scuppernong Books, 304 S. Elm St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 763-1919 or scuppernongbooks.com.
READ ALL ABOUT IT. Treat your little ones to story times: BookWorms (ages 12–24 months) meets at 10 a.m.; Time for Twos meets at 11 a.m. Storyroom; Family Storytime for all ages meets at 6:30 p.m. High Point Public Library, 901 N. Main St., High Point. Info: (336) 883-3666 or highpointpubliclibrary.com. PICKIN’ AND GRINNIN’ 6 until 9 p.m. Y’all come for Songs from a Southern Kitchen, curated by O.Henry’s own Ogi Overman and featuring live performances of roots and Americana music by Mystery Hillbillies (3/3), 7 It Is (Bill West & Dolie Chandler) (3/10), Stained Glass Canoe (Andrea & Chris Templon) (3/17), Abigail Dowd & Jason Duff (3/24), and Cool Beans (Blind-Dog Gatewood & Cindy “Pistol Rose” Varnell) (3/31). Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen, 1421 W. Westover Terrace, Greensboro. Info: (336) 370-0707 or lucky32.com/fried_chicken.htm.
LEGO LOGISTICS. 3:45 p.m. LEGO League Jr. encourages kids to use their imaginations to design and build structures that meet the needs of the community. Greensboro Children’s Museum, 220 N. Church St., Greensboro. To register: gcmuseum.com.
MUSSELS, WINE & MUSIC. 7 until 10 p.m. Mussels with house-cut fries for $15, wines from $10–15 a bottle and live music by AM rOdeO — at Print Works Bistro, 702 Green Valley Road, Greensboro. Info: (336) 379-0699 or printworksbistro.com/live_music.htm. Thursdays ALL THAT JAZZ. 6 p.m. Hear live, local jazz with the O.Henry Trio and selected guests Carrie Marshall (3/5), Jessica Mashburn (3/12), Sarah Strable (3/19), and Diana Tuffin (3/26). All performances are at the O.Henry Hotel Social Lobby Bar. No cover. 624 Green Valley Road, Greensboro. Info: (336) 854-2000 or www.ohenryhotel.com/jazz.htm. JAZZ NIGHT. 7 p.m. Fresh-ground, freshbrewed coffee is served with a side of jazz at Tate Street Coffee House, 334 Tate St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 275-2754 or www.tatestreetcoffeehouse.com. OPEN MIC COMEDY. 8 p.m. Local pros and amateurs take the mic at the Idiot Box, 503 N. Greene St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 274-2699 or idiotboxers.com.
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Arts & Culture
CENTER FOR VISUAL ARTISTS PRESENTS
Maggie Fickett: Living in Plein Air EXHIBIT DATES: APRIL 21 - JUNE 14, 2020
Maggie Fickett, now 89, tirelessly documented Greensboro in watercolor paintings and pen-and-ink drawings from the 1980s through the early 2000s. Hundreds of original works will be displayed in the Center for Visual Artists (CVA) Gallery and catalogued online for sale. Works will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis. Sixty percent of proceeds from this exhibit will go to a fund supporting Fickett's ongoing care in a memory care facility. Special workshops, discussions, and other events will accompany this exhibit.
200 N. Davie St.
Instagram @ centerforvisualartists Facebook.com/CVAGreensboro (336) 333-7475
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THE HALF OF IT. 5 p.m. Enjoy the hands-on exhibits and activities for half the cost of admission at $5 Fun Fridays ($3 on First Fridays). Greensboro Children’s Museum, 220 N. Church St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 574-2898 or gcmuseum.com.
Fridays & Saturdays
NIGHTMARES ON ELM STREET. 8 p.m. A 90-minute, historical, candlelit ghost walking tour of Downtown Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 905-4060 or carolinahistoryandhaunts.com/information.
TO MARKET, TO MARKET. 7 a.m. until noon. The produce is fresh and the cut fleurs belles. Greensboro Farmers Curb Market, 501 Yanceyville St., Greensboro. Info: gsofarmersmarket.org THRICE UPON A TIME. 11 a.m. Hear a good yarn at Children’s Storytime. Scuppernong Books, 304 S. Elm St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 763-1919 or scuppernongbooks.com. WRITE IS MIGHT. 3 p.m. Avoid writer’s block by joining a block of writers at Come Write In, a confab of scribes who discuss their literary projects. Scuppernong Books, 304 S. Elm St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 763-1919 or scuppernongbooks.com.
JAZZ ENCORE. 7 p.m. Hear contemporary jazz cats, James Gilmore and His Band (3/7), Nishah DiMeo and Her Band (3/14), Diana Tuffin, Benjamin Strickland, Neill Clegg and Matt Reid (3/21), and Angela Bingham, Elaine Dame, Frank Longino and Ben Palmer (3/28), while noshing on seasonal tapas at O.Henry Jazz series for Select Saturdays. O.Henry Hotel, 624 Green Valley Road, Greensboro. Info: (336) 854-2000 or ohenryhotel.com. IMPROV COMEDY. 10 p.m. on Saturday, plus an 8 p.m. show appropriate for the whole family. The Idiot Boxers create scenes on the spot and build upon the ideas of others, creating shows that are one-of-a-kind — at the Idiot Box, 503 N. Greene St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 274-2699 or idiotboxers.com.
Saturdays & Sundays
KIDS’ CRAFTS. Idle hands are the devil’s workshop — unless you enroll Junior in one of three structured activities at Greensboro Children’s Museum: Art Studio encourages making art in all kinds of media; at Music Makers kids can shake, rattle and roll with percussion instruments; while Get Moving! inspires physical activities. Times and dates vary. Greensboro Children’s Museum, 220 N. Church St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 574-2898 or send an email mailto: email@example.com.
GROOVE AND GRUB. 11 a.m. Chow down on mouth-watering Southern brunch fare (biscuits, anyone?), courtesy of Chef Irvin J. Williams, while students from the Miles Davis Jazz Program serenade you with smooth jazz. The Historic Magnolia House, 442 Gorrell St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 617-3382 or thehistoricmagnoliahouse.com. HALF FOR HALF-PINTS. 1 p.m. And grownups, too. A $5 admission, as opposed to the usual $10, will allow you entry to exhibits and more. Greensboro Children’s Museum, 220 N. Church St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 574-2898 or gcmuseum.com. MISSING YOUR GRANDMA? 3 p.m. until it’s gone: Tuck into the quintessential comfort food: skillet-fried chicken, and mop that cornbread in, your choice, giblet gravy or potlikker. Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen, 1421 W. Westover Terrace, Greensboro. Info: (336) 370-0707 or lucky32.com/fried_chicken.htm.
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GreenScene To The Hoop - Basketball & Contemporary Art Weatherspoon Art Museum Friday, January 31, 2020 Photographs by Lynn Donovan
Tamika Price, Jay Faison
Joan Stone, Mark Magod
Beatrice Schall, Sydney Gingrow
Sherry Sherrill, Carolyn Schneider
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GreenScene Preview Party for Greenhill's Gates and Windows 2020 Gala to be held May 14, 2020 Wednesday, February 5, 2020 Photographs by Lynn Donovan
Martha Thompson, Jill White
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GreenScene Dancing with the Carolina Stars to benefit Operation Smile Carolinas Saturday, February 8, 2020
Photographs by Lynn Donovan Treffrey Gunter, Lori Redding, Joanne Kirkland
Katie Egerton, Melody Parry, Nicole Senecal, Dawn Miner, Valery O'Connell
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The Accidental Astrologer
Keep an eye on La Luna’s transits this spring By Astrid Stellanova
Star children, consider the moon.
All things lunar delight me: moonlight, moon bathing, Moon Pies, moon races — and swooning beneath the moon with Beau. Without the glorious moon, we would be stuck with he paler light of Venus in the night sky. And the sea tides would be punier. Days would be much shorter but our years much longer. The axis of the Earth would be wonky. Seasons would no longer exist. The brightest moon this month, a “worm” moon, will light things up on March 9th. Another super moon, a “pink” moon, falls on April 8th. Watch lunar lovers, in wonder.
Pisces (February 19–March 20) Somebody has to bring the chaos, and somebody else has to be the designated chaos coordinator. Pull up your boots and just deal with it, Darlin’. You’ve had many skills that are being tested; but there is no one better to handle what is in front of you. The good news is your trials are soon resolved and the Magic 8-Ball agrees: The future looks bright. Aries (March 21–April 19) You ain’t a flower, but if you stand in the sunlight you might get straightened out. The past dark months bent you out of shape, and your focus was the view from a dark corner of your mind. The days are longer, and you grow stronger and more resilient with each cycle. Taurus (April 20–May 20) Paddle your own canoe. Stay in your own lane. Mind your own beeswax. Write this on your hand and read it, Sugar. The temptation to meddle is mighty, but the payoff to resist is profound. Gemini (May 21–June 20) Can’t everybody be the monarch, or who would bow down and kiss your patootie? That’s right, Honey Bun. Have you realized how much you need to make others subservient? Watch The Crown, but don’t wear one. Cancer (June 21–July 22) Lordamercy, Child! Seems like you’ve got too many tabs open in that brain of yours. Consolidate your energy and focus upon things in an orderly way. Being too scattered hurts your peace of mind. Leo (July 23–August 22) Don’t let life become a spaghetti Western. You know the player, Honey, who enters the room and immediately turns everything into a Survivor episode. This drama is costly. Two steps back will save your sanity.
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Virgo (August 23–September 22) Those who love and know you say this: You’ve been like a mother or father figure, but cooler. A reputation for being kind and nurturing can be useful in mentoring. This will be important to your legacy. Libra (September 23–October 22) Running out for beer, coffee or doughnuts is not exercise. Love Bug, you have neglected your own well-being but developed your social life. Now to combine both for the sake of a longer, healthier, loving life. Scorpio (October 23–November 21 If you’ve grown up around boys, nothing can scare you. You already know that. Your sense of mystery is so deep; sometimes shyness is at the root. Saying you’re scared isn’t your way; but Honey, just say it. Sagittarius (November 22–December 21) Your cat may think you’re cool as beans . . . but outside the house you baffled your human friends. What is in play has confused others but you do have an end game. Talk about it. Gain support for your actions. Capricorn (December 22–January 19) Those crazy relatives helped build character. Now you are one — a real-life Southern character. A fun time in your sun cycle, and unexpectedly, you air some whole new eccentricities. Sugar, fly your freak flag! Aquarius (January 20–February 18) Your face is saying what your mouth just can’t, but being an open book type, you had no idea. Wearing a game face is absolutely impossible. No Vegas cards for you; maybe Tarot? Consult the charts; stay calm. 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. March 2020
Body(shop) and Soul Rolling into a new decade
A totaled car wasn’t how I expected to
start the new year. To the anonymous hit-and-run driver who mangled my beloved 14-year-old Scion xB — those funny, retro-looking Toyotas resembling breadboxes on wheels — I wished a bad hangover, since he or she had left me with one of my own: untangling the red tape of dealing with the body shop, the insurance company, and — cue the score to Halloween — the DMV, not to mention the expense of buying another car. In spite of the New Year’s mantra, “out with the old, in with the new,” I wasn’t ready to replace Quicksilver.
Yes, I’m one of those people who names cars. But if the Navy and cruise lines christen ships, why not? And what was more apropos for my dearly departed Scion than the moniker acknowledging its paint job and agile maneuvering into tight parking spaces and heavy traffic — and only on the rarest of occasions (Cough! Cough!) breaking the speed limit? Hi-ho, Quicksilver! His predecessors were The Woody, my mom’s old five-speed Toyota Corona station wagon with peeling faux wood paneling, and the Merlot Mobile, a Nissan Altima, so dubbed not because I drove under the influence, but because the car was a deep burgundy color — a magnet for state troopers on the lookout for vehicles exceeding the speed limit. These were part of a long line of named autos, starting with my parents’ unreliable Renault, the Fire Car, then a behemoth station wagon, Betsy and Herbie, a standard Volkswagen Beetle]. OK, so I lose points on originality for that one, but, hey, I was only 7 years old. The first car I ever owned was a gas-guzzling Chevy Impala that my eldest sister had cast off when she moved to New York City. We called her “Swix,” after the license plate letters, SWX. A friend of mine referred to her as “The Sled.” He, by the way, owned a Honda Civic he named “Tojo.” Another friend of mine also drove a Civic named Barbie because it was such a ubiquitous model in the IBM parking lot in the Research Triangle. She even attached a Barbie doll head to the car’s antenna to identify it among the other
look-alikes. That was before she bought her Scion, Tuk-Tuk, an onomatopoeic moniker replicating the sound of the car’s four-cylinder engine: tuktuktuktuktuk. Her sister also had an xB, Toasty. As in, a toaster on wheels, get it? Tuk-Tuk carries on, but Toasty, like my Quicksiver, has crossed the rainbow bridge. My friend’s sister has since relied on a Fiat, Ravioli. Me? I tooled on borrowed wheels for a time while mourning my boxy vehicle. Nothing could replace him but something had to. I didn’t want a Camry like my middle sister’s white one, Blanche. I looked at a Honda Fit, like my nephew’s Bean (because it’s black and resembles a coffee bean), before taking the advice of two gearheads (thanks, Glenn, thanks, Sparky), and settling on a charcoal gray Kia Soul. But how should I address, thee, little car? As “Kingsford,” or “Briquet” or simply “Brick,” owing to your sedate color, which won’t attract the attention of state troopers? And then he named himself while I tried to master his multiple bells and whistles: back-up camera, Bluetooth, music that plays when you open and close his doors, and a “sport” feature on the gear stick for pulling out and ahead of slowpokes. It seems there isn’t any job this car can’t do. And that’s how he became Oddjob, after the badass Korean henchman in the Bond movie Goldfinger (though Hollywood being Hollywood, JapaneseAmerican actor Harold Sakata was cast in the role). Dispatched by the film’s titular villain, Oddjob is bodyguard, chauffeur, caddy — and destroyer of statues, which he beheads with the flick of his razor-edged bowler. It didn’t take long for my Oddjob to live up to his name. While cruising down the highway recently (and watching my speed), I happened to gain on, of all things, a silver Scion xB. I felt a sudden pang for my old cute Kleenex box-onwheels, noticing, as I pulled closer, that the corner of its hatch door was bashed in. I recalled how the handle of my old hatch had fallen off, the front grill, too. The xB plodded along, tuktuktuk, and I edged closer, feeling less sentimental and well, irritated. I suddenly remembered how the sales guy with a man bun had remarked how I probably wouldn’t be using the “sport” feature much. Instinctively I tapped the gear stick into sport mode, and in the blink of an eye, I had shifted lanes, passed the xB and shifted back. I looked in the rearview mirror for any sign of a state trooper, only to see the xB leagues behind. “Out and around,” I murmured, patting Oddjob on he dash. “Over and out.” OH Technologically challenged Nancy Oakley is still trying to figure out the electronic gizmos on her car. The Art & Soul of Greensboro
ILLUSTRATION BY HARRY BLAIR
By Nancy Oakley
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HEART & VASCULAR 888-716-WAKE WakeHealth.edu/Heart ACCEPTING MOST MAJOR INSURANCE PROVIDERS.
M A DE BY H A ND. SH A PED BY HISTORY
GREENSBORO 225 South Elm Street • 336-272-5146 and Friendly Center • 336-294-4885 WINSTON-SALEM Stratford Village • 137 South Stratford Road • 336-725-1911 www.schiffmans.com