O.Henry April 2020

Page 1




7691 Deboe Road Summerfield

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3215 N Rockingham Road $2,900,000

5787 Meadow Pond Court $1,890,000

510 Country Club Drive $1,700,000

815 Woodland Drive $1,590,000

2800 Lake Forest Drive $1,195,000

3503 Bromley Wood Lane $1,150,000

5947 Brooke Ellen Court $679,000

2201 Granville Road $679,000

3506 Primrose Avenue $595,000

201 N. Elm Street #605 $584,780

201 N. Elm Street #603 $562,290

1 Hatteras Court $550,000

2323 N Elm Street $495,000

1222 Westridge Road $449,000

1805 Griffins Knoll Court $425,000

7732 US Highway 158 $420,000

3404 Madison Avenue $415,000

3802 Friendly Acres Drive $399,000

2408 Retriever Lane $399,000

3203 Morris Farm Drive $394,000

317 S. Chapman Street $392,000

2408 Hawthorne Street $315,000

201 N. Elm Street #308 $305,999

201 N. Elm Street #408 $290,990

3605 Wayne White Road $275,000

201 N. Elm Street #1104 $267,390

5519 Robinridge Road $260,900

607 W. Hunter Street $249,000

619 Candlewood Drive $291,990

3795 Filton Drive $221,900

5447 & 5455 Bunch Road $175,000

2020 Vanstory Street $130,000

7748 Chesterbooke Drive $90,000

2513 Rivers Edge Road $90,000

2515 Rivers Edge Road $90,000

2509 Rivers Edge Road $85,000

2517 Rivers Edge Road $85,000

2519 Rivers Edge Road $85,000

19 & 21 Carlson Terrace $80,000 each

000 Woodrow Road $68,000

8405 Robert Mohr Court $59,000

000 Wheeler Road $18,000

26 Elm Ridge Lane $1,100,000

5807 Harriet Court $1,095,000

5 Flagship Cove $915,000

7720 Chesterbrooke Dr $539,900

4003 W. Friendly Avenue $529,000

6320 Blue Aster Trace $525,000


7517 Henson Forest Drive $749,900

1204 Hammel Road $699,900

1506 Cedar Ridge Farm Road $699,000

To arrange a showing or get more information on one of these charming homes, call one of our agents or visit trmhomes.com today.

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Jessica Haverland 336.312.8491

Maggie Marston 336.253.2467

Helen Richardson 336.402.4527

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Rodney Hazel 336.254.8946

Hilburn Michel 336.207.7100

Lori Richardson 336.549.4414

Preston Young 336.420.1478

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April 2020 DEPARTMENTS 21 Simple Life By Jim Dodson

25 Short Stories 27 Doodad By Maria Johnson 29 Featured Artist By Nancy Oakley 31 Life’s Funny By Maria Johnson

33 Omnivorous Reader By D.G. Martin

37 Scuppernong Bookshelf 38 The Creators By Wiley Cash

45 Food for Thought By Jane Lear

49 True South

By Susan S. Kelly

51 Life of Jane By Jane Borden

55 Birdwatch

By Susan Campbell

57 Wandering Billy

FEATURES 61 From Our House Behind the Churchyard, After a Storm Poetry by Terri Kirby Erickson

62 Bloom of the Day

By Ross Howell Jr. Bill Hurt and Marshall Morrow’s homegrown passion for daylilies

66 The Shimmering Art of Louis C. Tiffany By Jim Moriarty Classic lamps on display at Reynolda House

70 Last Laughs

By Billy Ingram Just in time for April Fool’s Day, our naturally funny correspondent takes a look at the past, present and future of comedy in the Gate City

72 Four-Leaf Clover Rag

By Nancy Oakley How JoAnn and Bill Owings became guardians of a proud Triad legacy

83 Almanac

By Ash Alder

By Billy Eye

86 Arts Calendar 104 GreenScene 111 The Accidental Astrologer By Astrid Stellanova

112 O.Henry Ending By Cynthia Adams

Photograph this page by Amy Freeman 10 O.Henry

April 2020

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Fine Eyewear, Artwork and Jewelry 327 South Elm | Greensboro 336.274.1278 | TheViewOnElm.com Becky Causey, Licensed Optician Find us on Facebook


Volume 10, No. 4 “I have a fancy that every city has a voice.” 336.617.0090 1848 Banking Street, Greensboro, NC 27408

Trusted advice to help guide your wealth

www.ohenrymag.com PUBLISHER

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

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

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

Ash Alder, Jane Borden, Grant Britt, Susan Campbell, Wiley Cash, Tony Cross, Clyde Edgerton, Billy Eye, Ross Howell Jr., Billy Ingram, Susan S. Kelly, Sara King, Brian Lampkin, Meridith Martens, D.G. Martin, Ogi Overman, Angela Sanchez, Stephen E. Smith, Astrid Stellanova



We understand every situation is unique. That's why we take the time to listen, understand your needs, and build your plan to help achieve your vision of the future.

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Ginny Trigg, Advertising Director 910.693.2481, ginny@thepilot.com Hattie Aderholdt, Advertising Manager 336.601.1188, hattie@ohenrymag.com Amy Grove, 336.456.0827 • amy@ohenrymag.com Glenn McVicker, 336.804.0131 • glenn@ohenrymag.com Brad Beard, Graphic Designer Emily Jolly, Advertising Assistant ohenrymag@ohenrymag.com


Steve Anderson, Finance Director 910.693.2497 Darlene Stark, Circulation Director • 910.693.2488

Alex Sigmon Branch Manager

Greg Costello Private Wealth Area Manager

806 Green Valley Rd. Greensboro, NC 27408

100 N. Main St. Winston-Salem, NC 27150

Phone: 336-545-7100 www.wellsfargoadvisors.com

Phone: 336-842-7309 www.wellsfargoadvisors.com


Jack Andrews, Frank Daniels Jr., Frank Daniels III, Lee Dirks, David Woronoff © Copyright 2020. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited. O.Henry Magazine is published by The Pilot LLC

Investment and Insurance Products: - NOT FDIC Insured - NO Bank Guarantee - MAY Lose Value Wells Fargo Advisors is a trade name used by Wells Fargo Clearing Services, LLC, Member SIPC, a registered broker-dealer and non-bank affiliate of Wells Fargo & Company. ©2019 Wells Fargo Clearing Services, LLC. All rights reserved. CAR 1219-01523

12 O.Henry

April 2020

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

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NNEDI OKORAFOR May 15, 2020 7 - 9:30 p.m. UNC Greensboro Elliott University Center Cone Ballroom UNC Greensboro’s University Libraries will host Nigerian-American author of Africanfuturism and Africanjujuism Nnedi Okorafor for an interview and book discussion on May 15, 2020. Okorafor is the headliner for the 2020 Greensboro Bound Literary Festival and the author of Who Fears Death, Binti and The Book of Phoenix. The event is free and open to the public. Seating is limited. Registration is required.

Register at https://uncgnnediokorafor.eventbrite.com

Celebrating 2 0 YEA RS O F B U I L D I N G

“Welcome Home!”

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THIS SPRING in Raleigh, one ticket pairs paintings by North Carolina artists with the beauty of Senegalese jewelry, site-specific installations by New York–based Leonardo Drew, and videos and photography by Thai artist Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook. INCLUDING LOCAL ARTISTS Barbara Campbell Thomas, Climax, N.C. Antoine Williams, Greensboro

Dates and ticket packages at ncartmuseum.org/spring2020 Antoine Williams, Portrait of a Super Predator Who Died of Student Loan Debt, 2018, acrylic, collage, and thread on acrylic skin, 72 x 36 in., Collection of Dr. Beverly Knight; Š 2020 Antoine Williams Front Burner: Highlights in Contemporary North Carolina Painting is organized by guest curator Ashlynn Browning in collaboration with the North Carolina Museum of Art. Good as Gold: Fashioning Senegalese Women is organized by Kevin D. Dumouchelle of the National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution. It is curated by Amanda Maples of the North Carolina Museum of Art. Leonardo Drew: Making Chaos Legible is made possible, in part, by the generous support of the Hartfield Foundation and Libby and Lee Buck. All exhibitions are made possible, in part, by the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources; the North Carolina Museum of Art Foundation, Inc.; and the William R. Kenan Jr. Endowment for Educational Exhibitions. Research for these exhibitions is made possible by Ann and Jim Goodnight/The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fund for Curatorial and Conservation Research and Travel.


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Learn more about the City of Greensboro’s Water Resources Department at www.greensboro-nc.gov/water.





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20 O.Henry

April 2020

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Simple Life

Life In the Slow Lanes In praise of the snail’s pace

By Jim Dodson

The TED Radio Hour recently

hosted a fascinating program devoted to the art of slowing down.

The program began with a public TV producer from Norway describing how a historic passenger train rigged with multiple wide-angle cameras documented the passing landscape during its daily run between Bergen and Oslo for seven hours and 14 minutes. There was no voiceover or narrative explanation of the journey — merely the peaceful countryside passing in real time. The train documentary became a runaway sensation. What might sound like an elaborate April Fool’s joke turned out to be a ratings bonanza when an estimated 1.2 million Norwegians — roughly onefifth of the country’s population — tuned in to watch Bergensbanen (The Bergen Line), giving birth to a new concept called “Slow TV.” Since that time, similar programs have devoted eight straight hours to Norway’s “National Firewood Night,” 18 straight hours to salmon fishing, more than eight hours to people knitting and chatting, 60 hours to Norwegian hymnsinging and five-and-a-half days to passengers on a cruise ship. The producers discovered, in essence, that viewers are longing for something authentic, something that minute-by-minute matches the pace of actual living, not manufactured “reality” shows that simulate or distort events in real time. In a world forever speeding up, Norwegians seemed eager to slow down and smell the roses — or at least watch them grow. Another TED stage segment featured an efficiency-driven professor from The Wharton School of Economics who learned a valuable lesson in the art of procrastination — how “slowing down” can be a boon to personal creativity — from a pair of his business school students who took six months just to come up with The Art & Soul of Greensboro

a name for their proposed business idea, right up to the project’s deadline. The company name the students finally came up with was Warby Parker, which evolved into a billion-dollar eyewear firm that was recently named the world’s “Most Innovative Company,” proving the timeless maxim that all good things come in time — and often require lots of it. Among other insights professor Adam Grant gleaned from the experience — including his own subsequent efforts to teach himself to procrastinate — is that putting something aside often aids in refining the outcome; that human beings possess a better memory for incomplete tasks that stay active in the mind than hastily produced results; and that, in the end, our biggest regrets are not what we failed to accomplish — but what we never took the necessary time to try to do well. “What some people call procrastination,” professor Grant says, quoting screenwriter Adam Sorkin, “I call thinking.” In a world where feedback is as instantaneous as a nasty Tweet, the faster we move through our days, the professor concluded, the less inclined we are to pause and reflect on methods that might produce a better outcome. As one who has consciously been “slowing down” for years, it was reassuring to discover there are others in the world who believe there is great value — not to mention improved perspective and sanity — in taking the time to do the job right, to slow down and think it through, to measure twice and cut once or simply stop and buy some of those proverbial roses, whatever cliché works for you. Pausing to think about this, I do believe it was the house and garden I built on a forested hill in Maine two decades ago that brought this important lesson home to bear. The year it took to clear the land and rebuild the ancient stone walls that once defined an 18th-century farmstead gave me time to conceive and refine the plans for the house, which took an additional nine months to actually construct with the help of a pair of skilled post-and-beam housewrights. Creating the interior of the house (which I largely did on my own — building walls and floors, custom designing and making bookshelves and the kitchen cabinetry) April 2020

O.Henry 21

Simple Life

Expertise Multiplied. Even Better


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22 O.Henry

April 2020

Greensboro 2500 Summit Avenue

2/10/20 2:20 PM

also underwent several revisions and took at least three more months to complete than planned. In the end, just about everything about that house pleased me and suited my young family perfectly. In a sense, the forest around us and the ambitious landscape garden I subsequently set out to create conveyed an even more enlightening lesson about the value of taking one’s own sweet time. Nature keeps her own clock, and a northern woodland can’t be rushed into leafing out in spring or fading away in autumn. Summer’s lease in Maine may seem all too brief while winter can feel maddeningly endless. And yet, as I learned, watching the seasons come and go at their own pace was like attending a seminar in the art of Slow TV, a chance to absorb the beauty and spiritual messages of a living world that follows an ancient dance as old as the stars. Any gardener worth his composted cow manure understands that the life of a garden is a slow-moving and somewhat mysterious affair, relying on faith, patience and years, if not decades, of learning about plants and their needs from others who are wiser than you about the art of coaxing living things from the soil. Even my work as a journalist and author — always facing one kind of deadline or another — reminds me of the importance to take my time and get the story right. At the end of summer in 2017, I set out to travel along the Great Wagon Road from Philadelphia to Augusta, Georgia. I calculated that a three-week jaunt investigating the historic towns and people who reside along arguably America’s most historic Colonial-era road would give me a wealth of material for a book on the very road that brought my European forebears — and possibly yours — to the Southern frontier. As of last week, I’ve officially clocked more than 2,500 miles traveling the 780-mile road and am now starting into my third year of researching the astonishing life of this ancient American pathway, constantly learning new things and unearthing stories that demand time to pause and take a deeper look, to linger and reflect, to pursue new leads and find the facts. It’s been an unexpected and bewitching journey, to say the least, something akin to a personal Chautauqua that has immeasurably enriched my life and understanding of America. I shall almost hate to see it reach its conclusion, probably sometime in early summer when I finally cross the Savannah River at Augusta. For the record, I’ve rewritten the book’s prologue and first five chapters at least half a dozen times already, discovering as I do how the work comes a little more alive and compelling each time out, proving strength resides in careful (and someThe Art & Soul of Greensboro

Simple Life times slow) revision. Hopefully, my brilliant young editor at Simon & Schuster will agree, whenever he finally gets the book. Not for the first time, traveling the Wagon Road has also reinforced my self-awareness that I am a natural slow-lanes traveler who will always choose the winding two-lane roads if at all possible. If past truly is prelude to the future — or at least the present — this instinctual habit was likely encouraged by my first job as a cub reporter at the Greensboro News and Record in the late 1970s. Placed in command of a DayGlo orange AMC Pacer staff car, my task was to find colorful characters and interesting feature stories for the Sunday paper in a 50-mile circumference of quiet countryside around the Gate City, a job that took me along winding back roads from Seagrove to the Blue Ridge. Looking back, I realize those slow road adventures were an education unto themselves, a great way to begin my writing career. It was maybe the most fun job I’ve ever had. All of which may explain why, as the world seems to speed up with each passing day, I remain a committed slow-lanes traveler who is in no particular rush to get where he’s going. What I supposedly lose in time by avoiding Interstates and super highways, I gain back double in terms of perspective and peace of mind by passing through beautiful countryside and small towns where time moves at a slower pace. Come spring, roadside produce stands seem to whisper my name. Recently I flew a long way on an airplane, about a dozen hours in the air each way. I took the slow way there and back. Airports are increasingly noisy places with folks rushing frantically about. But once I’m in the air, locked in a silver bird soaring as high as 40,000 feet above the Earth, it’s such a pleasure to read an entire book or simply sit and think about life as I gaze out at continents of clouds. On this trip, I discovered that one of the video channels featured its own version of Slow TV — 45-minute film loops showing either a serene rainforest or the restless ocean on the craggy Northwest Coast. I watched both films — twice. Someday I may graduate to “National Firewood Night” or 60 hours of Norwegians singing hymns, but for now that rainforest and restless sea worked their magic on my high-flying soul. “Does anything actually happen in that movie,” my curious seatmate was compelled to ask at one point, unplugging from his action thriller. “Not much,” I admitted. “Isn't it great?” OH


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The Art & Soul of Greensboro

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April 2020

3/2/20 9:51 AM

O.Henry 23



Wedding Tasting and Open House Open House Chez Genese 5:30 pm


First Friday Dinner


Creative Margaritas Craft Cocktail Class 19 & Timber Bar at Grandover 6:30 pm


MGS Presents ZOFO Piano Duet

Dinner Chez Genese 5:30 pm

Concert The Well Spring Theatre 7:30 pm


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Basque in the Sun! Cooking Class Reto’s Kitchen 6:00 pm

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Short Stories

***Given the unusual circumstances currently facing all events and their organizations, anyone planning to attend any program, gathering or competition should check in advance to make certain it will happen as scheduled.

From Sidewalks to Still Lifes

Artist Maggie Fickett took a loving brush to her adopted hometown of Greensboro in the 1980s,’90s and early 2000s. Now, for the first time, the public can see a trove of work that stayed in the Gate City after Fickett, who was suffering from Alzheimer’s, moved back to her home state of Maine in 2014. Maggie Fickett: Living in Plein Air, opens late May at the Center for Visual Artists in the Greensboro Cultural Center (200 North Davie Street). Sweeping in scope, the exhibit and sale includes hundreds of original watercolors, as well as Fickett’s trademark pen-and-ink prints of local landmarks. Gallery goers also will recognize scenes from Jamestown, Burlington, Eden, Elkin, Winston-Salem, Seagrove, Raleigh, Wilmington and Wrightsville Beach, plus Virginia, Maine and Bermuda. The CVA will donate 60 percent of proceeds toward the care of Fickett, who is 89 and living in a memory-care center. greensboroart.org. — Maria Johnson

Life Cycles

The permanent residents of Green Hill Cemetery may be pushing daisies, but everything else in the 51-acre graveyard is coming up roses. Or rather, leafy greenness after this winter’s plentiful rains. Learn more about clusters of oaks, pines, magnolias and more exotic species on a professionally led botanical tour at 2 p.m. on May 2 (rain date, May 3). If you’re interested in equal parts history and botany “lite,” the semi-annual “Plants and the Planted” Tour, which discusses some of Green Hill’s illustrious occupants, such as Lumsford Richardson and Julian Price will take place on May 9 and 10, at 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., respectively. Tours are $5 per person and start at the southernmost gate on Wharton Street, near Fisher Avenue. Info: friendsofgreenhill.org.

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Worth the Drive to Winston-Salem

Need to add a little pizzazz to your morning coffee? Consider Mississippian Eric Beavers’ playful mugs painted bright colors and etched with various patterns. Want to commune with nature — without leaving your closet? Perhaps a lovely, eco-printed scarf by Iowan’s Sharlene Bohr is the ticket. While Visual Index, situated in the Twin City’s Arts District (562 Trade Street, NW), emphasizes art fashioned by North Carolina hands, such as charming woodblock prints by Greensboro’s Mary Beth Boone of Purple Pumpkin Press, proprietor Toni Tronu prides herself in selling works by artists in all 50 states. “To my knowledge I’m the only gallery in the country that can make this claim,” she says. So hop in your Chevrolet and quite literally see the USA . . . just off Salem Parkway. Info: (336) 875-1674 or visualindex.co.

Waitt For It!

When researching and writing his field guide, Wildflowers of the Atlantic Southeast, Damon Waitt had a Herculean task: describing and illustrating 1,250 species frequently encountered in this lower quadrant of the United States. Director of the North Carolina Botanical Garden in Chapel Hill and biology prof at UNC, Waitt, as of this writing, is still scheduled to discuss his guide and on April 23 at Paul J. Ciener Botanical Garden (215 South Main Street, Kernersville). To register: (336) 996-7888 or cienerbotanicalgarden.org.

Ogi Sez by Ogi Overman

April has a lot going for it — flowers blooming, birds chirping, baseballs being tossed — but this year it’s living up to its reputation as “the cruelest month.” With fears of coronavirus raging, cancellations and postponements are multiplying faster than Easter bunnies. Guess I’ll have to wait for Mary Chapin Carpenter and Shawn Colvin to come to the Carolina Theatre . . . whenever. At press time, I was still waiting to hear if Patti LaBelle would grace the Tanger Center — which closed last month before it even opened. Till things are up and running again, there are always virtual concerts. Billboard.com offers up some suggestions, Sirius Xm and the Metropolitan Opera, too. Otherwise, I’ll take a cue from that viral video of quarantined Italians singing from their balconies and give a good yodel from my front porch. Hey, this could be more fun than the ice bucket challenge a few years ago! April 2020

O.Henry 25

GEENA DAVIS August 28, 2020

MARGARET ATWOOD September 15, 2020

SPHINX VIRTUOSI October 9, 2020

SHANA TUCKER October 30, 2020

KELLI O’HARA January 16, 2021

New season subscriptions available now!




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Herb-An Sprawl

Greensboro’s popular herb sale transplants to downtown digs


t was thyme for a change. A few years ago, a thriving patch of herb enthusiasts — the Greensboro-based North Carolina Unit of the Herb Society of America — had outgrown the site of its annual spring sale. But the idea of uprooting a 30-year tradition, and the group’s biggest fundraiser, from the Dormition of the Theotokos Greek Orthodox Church caused the wringing of many gardengloved hands. “It was a big move for us,” says longtime member Kathy Schlosser. “People knew where we were and how to find us.” Come Thursday, April 16, followers can sniff out the re-homed sale, literally, at the newly renovated Greensboro Farmers Curb Market, where live plants will blanket the former armory, producing a free aromatherapy session. “It smells fabulous when you walk in,” Schlosser says. The sale sprouted just a couple of years after the local unit — still the state’s only chapter of the national organization — was founded in 1982. It was a heady time for herbs. French-born nouvelle cuisine had landed in America, and Martha Stewart’s Entertaining, had just hit the shelves. Riding the wave of savory, Greensboro herbies potted their own plants to hawk from a member’s garage. A couple of springs later, they transplanted the sale to the fellowship hall of the Greek church, where it flourished. Local commercial growers were contracted to meet the demand of some 800 customers. This year, as always, growers will truck in the usual suspects — need we sing the line from Scarborough Fair? — along with many varieties of fan-favorite basil, and harder to find plants such as cardamom, marjoram, lemon verbena, bee balm, lovage and bay. The Heritage Plants section will offer other selections from the members’ gardens, and vendors will sell beeswax candles, garden sculptures, tools and the like. Proceeds from the sale will used to fund club projects such as community college scholarships, the Edible Garden at the Greensboro Children’s Museum, and the Healing Gardens at Cone Health Cancer Center. In a time when voluntary groups struggle to gain and retain followers, the herb society holds steady with nearly 80 members. “I think what holds us together is we all love to have our hands in the dirt,” Schlosser reflects. “But it’s not just gardening. We care for each other.” Herbs to live by. OH — Maria Johnson See disclaimer page 25. For more information go to ncherbsociety.org.

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

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I wish to go to Ferrari Factory in Italy Jacob, 17 leukemia

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Barbara Ellis: Working Order When an idea pecks at Barbara Ellis’ mind — whether it’s during her daily chores, her meditation time, or moments of insomnia — she pays attention. Then she picks up a brush and gives form to the feeling. “Layer upon layer, by adding and subtracting, composition emerges. The challenge is turning chaos into relative order and knowing when to stop,” says Ellis, who lives in Concord. You can see her oil-over-acrylic Reentry 2 (pictured above) and more of Ellis’ work — along with that of four other female artists — in North Carolina Women Abstract Painters, an exhibit ongoing through April 11 at Greensboro’s GreenHill Center for North Carolina Art (greenhillnc.org). On April 3, Katy Mixon, featured in last month’s issue of O.Henry, will do a walk-and-talk about her carved oil paintings. The stroll begins at 6 p.m. That night’s open house, coinciding with downtown Greensboro’s First Friday event, will include a cash bar and live music by The Brown Mountain Lightning Bugs of Winston-Salem. On April 8, Valerie Hillings, director of the North Carolina Museum of Art, will talk about initiatives to boost female artists, including her museum’s Matrons of the Arts program. Matrons — and, of course, patrons — are welcome to attend the 5:30–7 p.m. talk. The exhibit and related programs are sponsored by GreenHill’s own Women’s Gateway Circle. — Maria Johnson OH See disclaimer page 25. For more information: greenhillnc.org, barbaraellis.art The Art & Soul of Greensboro

April 2020

O.Henry 29



Life’s Funny

Fevered Pitch Tripping out on the coronavirus

By Maria Johnson

DAY ONE, EARLY MARCH: 12 confirmed cases in NYC

Yippee! Today’s the day we meet our sons for a long weekend in upstate New York, where the younger lad lives. Earlier in the week, my husband and I discussed whether we should make the trip, given that the China-born coronavirus Covid-19 has gusted into the East Coast of this country. We consider that we will pass through Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson airport, the country’s busiest, going both ways, and that our older boy will be traveling from New York City, where the virus is blossoming. One way or another, we figure, we’ll probably encounter the germ. But we’re hearty folk, and we’ll follow public health advice. First, the hand sanitizer. The stores are sold out here, so we ransack the house in the name of good hygiene. My husband clips a small bottle of cloudy gel — purchased God-knows-when — to his belt loop. Here it is. My first corona crisis. Would I rather die of embarrassment or contaminated hands? I split the difference and urge him to pull his sweater down. At the airport, I gloat because I see no travelers wearing masks. What a healthy lot we are here in Greensboro. Then I see a masked airport worker. My eyes narrow. Is she sick? Or trying to keep from getting sick? Do I ask her? What if she pulls down her mask and says, “Sick.” We hustle aboard the flight, which is a rollercoaster ride because of thunderstorms. I heave all the way to New York. Staggering through the airport on the other end, weak and wan, with a can of airline ginger ale in my hand, people give me wide berth and eye me like I’m Corona Mary. Never gloat about good health. DAY TWO: 33 confirmed cases across New York state Our sons look healthy. I kiss their bearded faces and pull their foreheads down to my cheek. Fever free, too. We ask about jobs, loves, friends, adventures and, you know, whether their employers have contingency plans in case of a viral pandemic. They shrug, mention working from home, and seem shocked when we ask if we should postpone a family trip this summer. We bring up transportation, supply chains and throngs of tourists doing touristy things. Like breathing. They study us for long seconds. I look to my husband for support. He’s rubbing his face. I widen my eyes. “What?” he says. “Face,” I mouth. All hands drop to laps. After lunch we walk, at least 6 feet apart, to the Eastman Museum in the forThe Art & Soul of Greensboro

mer home of George Eastman, who founded Kodak and who — we soon learn in a group tour — nearly died in the influenza pandemic of 1918–19. He was so thrilled to rise from his deathbed that he went on a 10-year spending spree. Someone in the tour group coughs. Later, we drop extra money in the plate at a jazz vespers service. We order appetizers with dinner. DAY THREE: 76 confirmed cases It snowed overnight, so there’s enough fluff to go cross-country skiing. I extend my hand to the woman who’s going to give us a lesson. She offers a fist bump. We tap elbows and laugh. New York’s governor has just declared a state of emergency, but there are no cases in the chilly woods around the Finger Lakes. As far as we know. You can see the plumes of people’s breath out here, so that’s helpful. For the next several hours, we’re flushed, sweaty and struggling for air, but it’s all good as we glide through the wilderness, our minds fixed on paths not pathogens . . . Until that night when a Lyft driver mentions she’s been ferrying students to the airport for spring break. Where are they headed? “Anywhere there’s no virus,” she says. DAY FOUR: 105 confirmed cases There’s nary a mask to be seen on the streets. We duck into a used bookstore where the towering stacks lean toward avalanche. It’s easily the most life-threatening situation we’ve faced the whole trip. And yet we stay, flipping through fiction, cracking open history, ruffling biography. I present three volumes to the proprietor. He snuffles, and I, who have just handled acres of used book covers, take a step back and hand him cash — cash! — with a straight arm. I hold my breath, exhaling only when an Uber car arrives to take us to the airport hours later. The driver’s name is Sun. I catch another breath. “I scare!” he says after we’re underway. Has he read my thoughts? “You mean people are scared of you?” I venture. “NOOO! I Vietnamese, not Chinese! I pick up Chinese girl. I say, ‘No kill me!’ No kill me!’” He picks up a small aerosol can and clouds the air. “What’s that?” I squeak. He hands me the can. It’s Black Ice, a musky sweet air freshener that smells vaguely of a disco I frequented in 1980. From the speaker behind my head, Bruce Springsteen grinds out “Born to Run.” Everybody’s out on the run tonight But there’s no place left to hide “Good idea,” I say, handing the can back to Sun and breathing deeply. OH Maria Johnson can be reached only at ohenrymaria@gmail.com, while she selfquarantines. April 2020

O.Henry 31

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The Omnivorous Reader

Mountain Men One exceptional life in politics, another in music

By D.G. Martin

In 1958-59, two North Carolina mountain boys graduated from local high schools, made their ways to college, and then went on to very different high-profile careers.

Rufus Edmisten moved from Watauga High School in Boone to UNCChapel Hill, headed for a career in politics. Joseph Robinson left Lenoir High School for Davidson College on his way to musical performances at the highest level. Coincidentally, both men recently published memoirs that show how the combination of hard work, high ambition, audacity and luck can lead to success. Edmisten’s That’s Rufus: A Memoir of Tar Heel Politics, Watergate and Public Life describes how he grew up on a farm near Boone, tending cows and pigs, and working fields of cabbages and tobacco. After Chapel Hill and a round of teaching high school in Washington, Edmisten entered law school at George Washington and secured a low-level job on Sen. Sam Ervin’s staff. He soon became one of the senator’s full-time trusted assistants in the Watergate-Nixon impeachment matter. His book’s opening pages take readers to July 23, 1973, when he served President Nixon with a demand for Watergate-related records. This key moment ultimately led to Nixon’s resignation under the threat of impeachment and was a launch pad for Edmisten’s political career. Edmisten returned to North Carolina in 1974 and mounted a successful campaign for attorney general. His triumph over a host of prominent Democrats gave notice he would run for governor someday. That day came in 1984, when Gov. Jim Hunt ran for the U.S. Senate, and a host of Democrats lined up to run for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination. Edmisten won in a brutal primary runoff against former Charlotte Mayor Eddie Knox and then lost the general election to the then-Congressman Jim Martin. Some believe he lost, in part at least, because he made disparaging remarks about barbecue. His version of that incident is, by itself, worth the price of the book. But Edmisten says it was Ronald Reagan’s “sticky coattails” that “swept both me and Jim Hunt away from our dreams. We were not alone, either. The sweep was broad and far reaching.” After the loss, Edmisten felt crestfallen and abandoned. “The ache in the bottom of my stomach was so great nothing appealed to me except finding some dark place to crawl away and hide,” he writes. “I swear I saw people cross the street so they wouldn’t have to talk to me.” The Art & Soul of Greensboro

However, he came back from that defeat and won election as secretary of state. How he then lost that position in disgrace and the lessons learned from that sad story make for the most poignant part of the book. His situation came to a head in 1995. A report by the state auditor and articles in the Raleigh News & Observer alleged the misuse of employees and a state car, abuses by subordinates, and improper hiring practices. In this deluge of criticism, Edmisten announced he would not run for reelection and, he writes, “I actually thanked God my daddy had died before this mess started.” Why did it happen? In a chapter titled “Hubris,” he confesses, “It was nobody’s fault but my own.” Edmisten writes that it was the excessive pride that arose from his long years at the center of public attention that led to his troubles. He warns, “Once hubris gets a foothold it grows incrementally and accelerates until it is expanding exponentially, and in leaps and bounds takes over.” This lesson about the dangers of hubris is not the end of the story. In inspiring chapters, Edmisten chronicles how his wife and friends led him back into the practice of law and other areas of service. His wife told him, “We are not going to whine.” “At the age of fifty-five,” he writes, “I put aside all petty things and began a new life.” In his new life, Edmisten lives in Raleigh practicing law and giving gardening advice on a weekly radio show. He gives us another lesson: It is never too late to turn an old life into a new one. Robinson’s memoir, Long Winded: An Oboist’s Incredible Journey to the New York Philharmonic, asks: How did a small-town boy who never attended conservatory persuade one of the world’s greatest conductors, Zubin Mehta, to give him a chance at one of the world’s most coveted positions in the New York Philharmonic, one of the world’s greatest orchestras? Growing up in a small North Carolina town like Lenoir might not seem to be the best background for an aspiring classical musician. But the mountain furniture community had the best high school band in the state. When Robinson was drafted to fill an empty oboe slot, his course was set. He loved the oboe so much that his Davidson College classmates called him “Oboe Joe.” However, Davidson’s musical program lacked the professional music training that Robinson craved. Nevertheless, he stayed at Davidson, majoring in English, economics and the liberal arts. His focus on writing and expression gave him tools to win a music position at the highest level. His success at Davidson led to a Fulbright grant to study in Europe and April 2020

O.Henry 33

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April 2020

the opportunity to meet Marcel Tabuteau, who, Robinson says, was the greatest player and oboe pedagogue of the 20th century. When Tabuteau learned that Robinson was an English major and a good writer who could help write his book on oboe theory, he agreed to give him oboe instruction. Those five weeks with Tabuteau, Robinson says, “more than compensated for the conservatory training I did not receive.” Years later, however, after moving through a series of journeyman teaching and performing positions at the Atlanta Symphony, the North Carolina School of the Arts, and the University of Maryland, Robinson still had not achieved his aspiration to land a first oboe chair in a major orchestra, but he did not give up. When Harold Gomberg, the acclaimed lead oboe of the New York Philharmonic, retired, Robinson audaciously applied. When finally granted an audition, he prepared endlessly. He was ready for the hour and 20 minutes of paces the audition committee demanded. Afterward, he was confident that he had done very well. But the Philharmonic’s personnel manager, James Chambers, after saying how well the audition went, reported that music director Zubin Mehta judged Robinson’s tone “too strong” for the Philharmonic. Robinson was not to be one of the two players who were finalists. That should have been the end of it, but Robinson writes, “I knew that winning a once-in-a lifetime position like principal oboe of the New York Philharmonic was like winning the lottery.” At 3 a.m. the next morning, using all his liberal arts writing and persuasive talents, he wrote Chambers explaining why his tone might have seemed too strong and, “You will not make a mistake by choosing Eric or Joe, but you might by excluding me if tone is really the issue.” When Chambers read the letter to Mehta, they agreed that it could not have been “more persuasive or fortuitous.” Chambers reported that Mehta said, “If you believe in yourself that much, he will hear you again.” Robinson’s final audition was successful. His “winning lottery ticket,” he writes, “had Davidson College written all over it.” From 1978 until his retirement in 2005, he served as principle oboe for the New York Philharmonic. Living in Chapel Hill, he can still bring an audience to tears when he plays the beloved solo “Gabriel’s Oboe.” OH D.G. Martin hosts North Carolina Bookwatch Sunday at 3:30 p.m. and Tuesday at 5 p.m. on UNCTV. The program also airs on the North Carolina Channel Tuesday at 8:00 p.m. and other times. To view prior programs: http://video.unctv.org/show/ncbookwatch/episodes/ The Art & Soul of Greensboro


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The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Scuppernong Bookshelf Greensboro Bound Literary Festival

Year Three Fred Chappell, Lee Smith are among the literary lights who will shine in the Gate City’s celebration of letters

By Brian Lampkin

In 2018, a passel of intrepid volunteers set out to

create a major literary festival in Greensboro. Three years later, the Greensboro Bound Literary Festival continues to bring writers and readers together across downtown every third weekend in May.

This year’s Festival runs May 14–17 and once again a slate of more than 60 writers will carry on a conversation with the literature lovers of the Gate City. We can give you a quick sneak peek at the highlights of this year’s gathering but look for a full schedule in next month’s O.Henry. Our keynote events begin with our opening celebration at the Weatherspoon Art Museum on Thursday, May 14. Premiere selections from the forthcoming film documentary on the life and work of Greensboro’s Fred Chappell will be screened, and a roster of writers will roast Chappell in person. Expect rollicking retorts from both Fred and Susan Chappell to close the evening. Chappell is the most decorated literary figure in Greensboro history (sorry O.Henry), and has won the Bollingen Prize, the T. S. Eliot Prize and was the Poet Laureate of North Carolina from 1997–2002. Our partnership with the UNCG Libraries brings us the remarkable Nnedi Okorafor as our Friday, May 15, feature event. Okorafor is the author of a series of science fiction, afro-futurist and young adult books, along with a series of Black Panther graphic novels for Marvel. Her awards are too numerous to list, but include a Nebula and a Hugo for her novella Binti, the Locus Award for Best Young Adult Novel for Akata Warrior and the 2011 World Fantasy Award. This event will be held in the Elliott University Center on the UNCG campus. Friday, May 15, will debut our first fundraising lunch with Greensboro Bound authors. On the lovely grounds of the Double Oaks Bed & Breakfast, we welcome Lee Smith and Jill McCorkle in conversation. This is a ticketed event and will include a copy of Smith’s new novella Blue Marlin along with lunch supplied by Greensboro chef Kerrie Thomas. For tickets see greensborobound.com. All other Greensboro Bound events are FREE. The real madness begins in earnest on Saturday morning, May 16. It all starts with a character parade at 9:30 at the Cultural Center (200 N. Davie Street), which will lead to a performance by the OrKIDStra in the Hyers Theatre inside the Cultural Center. And then the authors take the stages! The children’s and young adult line-up includes 2020 Newberry winner Alicia The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Williams (Genesis Begins Again) the prolific Alan Gratz (Ban This Book, The Brooklyn Nine, The Refugees), Amy Reed (The Nowhere Girls), Scott Reintgen (the Nyxia series) and a dozen more. And don’t forget the noontime tradition of a performance by the Greensboro Opera. On the adult side, the decisions about what to attend will be difficult as we bring 45 writers to our stages: the Van Dyke Performance Space, Hyers Theatre, Greensboro History Museum, Tanger Center, Triad Stage, International Civil Rights Center & Museum, Scuppernong Books and Harrison Auditorium on the North Carolina A & T Campus. These events will spread cross Saturday and Sunday and will include Casey Cep (whose book The Furious Hours was a personal favorite of 2019), Paris Review editor and author of The Cactus League, Emily Nemens, Democracy in Chains author Nancy MacLean. Also scheduled are panels on prison writing, a panel called “Read Romance; Fight Patriarchy,” and a panel on philanthropy and the arts (sponsored by the Community Foundation and hosted by the Tanger Center). We’ll have 2019 Walt Whitman Award winner and Greensboro native Leah Green here and poet laureates galore: Louisiana, North Carolina and the United States. Yes, our keynote Saturday night event will be former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins. Collins appearance is at 7 p.m. at the Harrison Auditorium. See greensborobound.com for ticketing information. Our 2020 Festival concludes on Sunday, May 17, with “A Tribute to Toni Morrison” at 6 p.m. at the Harrison Auditorium. We’ll have the Toni Morrison Society presenting along with long-time Morrison personal assistant John Hoppenthaler, Malaika Adero and a special surprise guest to be announced in these pages next month. We can’t wait to get it all started. Literally. We’ll have a special prefestival event with Moroccan-American writer Laila Lalami. Lalami’s 2015 novel The Moor’s Account was a Pulitzer and Man Booker finalist, and her 2019 novel The Other Americans was a National Book Award finalist. Lalami will be here to talk about her new book, Conditional Citizens: On Belonging in America, which is being released two weeks early just for this important event. Her appearance is sponsored by the UNCG University Libraries and will be held in the EUC Auditorium on April 15 at 11 a.m. Tickets can be located here: lalamidiscussion. eventbrite.com. Make plans now to attend one of the major literary festivals in the Southeast. And bring your friends and relatives from literature-desperate towns across America. We promise a city-wide conversation Greensboro can be proud of. OH Brian Lampkin is one of the proprietors of Scuppernong Books. April 2020

O.Henry 37

The Creators

Man of the Earth According to acclaimed plantsman Tony Avent, the universe has plans for you — and your garden

By Wiley Cash • Photographs by Mallory Cash

For someone who has spent much of his life hunched

over the earth, his fingers threading through soil, rocks and roots, Triangle plantsman and nursery proprietor Tony Avent spends an awful lot of time talking about invisible energy and the unseen hand of the universe. Listen closely and you will hear him say things like: The universe has plans for you, and you can’t fight them; The plants tell me where they want to go; and The energy of the world speaks to us all. This kind of talk may sound hokey until you visit Avent’s Juniper Level Garden in Raleigh, a place so magical and mysterious that it is not hard to believe that a divine force once struck this ground and caused all manner of flora and fauna to spring forth. But, in reality, that is not what happened. The truth is less supernatural and much more natural. Avent’s 28-acre garden was once a sprawling tobacco field, and when he

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April 2020

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

The Creators

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

April 2020

O.Henry 39

The Creators

set out to tame this land 30 years ago he did so with nothing but a shovel and a suspicion that something otherworldly could happen here. He was right. Avent’s Juniper Level Garden and the on-site Plant Delights Nursery, where the garden’s specimens are grown and propagated, have become the nation’s standard bearer for garden horticulture. Avent has forged a career as a well-known and charismatic spokesperson for a movement dedicated to growing and developing gardens instead of simply planting them. His formal career began after graduating from NC State University with a degree in horticultural science before working his way toward the position of landscape director at the North Carolina Fairgrounds. Soon, he found himself on plant expeditions across the United States and in countries like South Africa, Mexico, China, Croatia, and Thailand. Along the way, he has given nearly 1,000 lectures, published dozens and dozens of articles, been featured in national media, and appeared on television alongside Martha Stewart on channels like HGTV and NBC. With all that travel and so much glitz and glamour, what has kept Avent’s hands dirtied by his native soil in Raleigh? Perhaps it is the fact that the region’s climate and geography are so amenable to his work. “This garden can grow the best diversity of plants anywhere in the country outside the Pacific Northwest,” Avent says. He is standing on a pathway in the middle of the garden on an early afternoon in February. Spring may be a few weeks away, but the garden feels surprisingly dramatic and alive. “We de-

40 O.Henry

April 2020

signed the garden so that something is always blooming, always green, always living,” he says. “The garden is always in transition. It’s always changing.” The we he mentions refers to himself and Michelle, his first wife and high school sweetheart, who passed away in 2012 after a long battle with cancer. The two of them had known one another since they were children, and their families had been in the area for centuries. As a matter of fact, one of Avent’s ancestors began operating the ferry that crossed the Cape Fear River in 1775, thus the name of Raleigh’s Avent Ferry Road. Avent and his late wife purchased the house that is now used for the garden’s offices in 1988, along with 2 acres of surrounding land. They had hoped for peace and tranquillity, but that was not quite what they found. “When we first moved here, nobody in this part of the county knew what a muffler was,” Avent says. To counteract the noise from the road in front of their home, Avent spent his evenings after dinner digging out a place for a huge grotto with a waterfall, an area of the garden so elegant and alive with plant life that it appears to have been here forever. The sound of falling water does not just shut out the noise of traffic; it shuts out the noise of the world. Perhaps that makes it easier for Avent to listen to what the universe is telling him. Michelle’s death had him reeling, but, according to Avent, “sometimes the universe has other plans.” His late wife had urged him to remarry after her passing, so nearly two years after her death, Avent found his way to The Art & Soul of Greensboro

The Creators online dating, where he eventually began chatting with a local woman. She turned out to be much more local than he could have ever imagined. He and his current wife, Anita, have known one another since they were in Sunday school as children. Her grandfather worked a farm only a few miles away from Avent’s garden enterprise. Even their parents had known each other for decades. It is also the tutelage, tragic death, and legacy of Avent’s mentor J.C. Raulston that keep him tied to this place. Raulston was an acclaimed horticulturist and the first director of the North Carolina Arboreteum. Avent was one of Raulston’s students at NC State, and he studied Raulston and his work closely. “Working with him was the first time I had somebody who thought like I did,” he says. Avent designed Juniper Level Gardens as an homage to Raulston’s arboretum, and the two gardens seem to be in conversation with one another. Although Raulston perished in an automobile accident in 1996, to Avent, he never seems out of reach. “I can feel his energy in his garden at the arboretum,” Avent says. “And I can feel it here. It made sense for me to stay here.” The roots of this world traveler and plant adventurer run too deep to be moved, or transplanted. None of this really seems to surprise Avent. He possessed a passion for plants from a very early age, and his life’s first major disappointment set him on a course that would find him nurturing a single plot of land into something steady and permanent. Avent was fascinated with plants and greenhouses as a young child, and in his early teens, he begged his father to take him to visit what he believed

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

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O.Henry 41

The Creators was the premiere garden in the world: Wayside Gardens in Greenwood, South Carolina. He was certain of the garden’s beauty because he had been receiving their mail-order catalog and would spend hours studying it. But when he and his father arrived after their journey south, Avent found nothing but a brick warehouse to which plants were shipped and from where they would be shipped again once they were sold. “I was so devastated,” he says, “and I remember thinking, When I grow up I will build a place that no one is ever disappointed in when they come visit.” With the recent announcement that Avent and his wife have gifted Juniper Level Gardens to NC State University, Avent has assured that not only will people never be disappointed in his garden, he has assured that they will be able to visit it in perpetuity, a plan that perhaps the universe saw coming. That is important to Avent because he wants the energy of this place to be felt by others. “I get energy from everything out here,” he says. “I never wear gloves, and now it has been discovered that the electrical energy in the soil is touching you, you’re feeling it. This energy can’t be created, and it can’t be destroyed. It’s always going to be here.” No matter where he goes, the universe has decided that Tony Avent will always be here too. 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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A Springtime Soup Simple. Seasonal. And richly satisfying.

By Jane Lear

Some soups require a lengthy list of

ingredients and plenty of time on the back burner; they are worth preparing in a big batch so you can freeze a couple of quarts for another day. Leek and potato soup, however, does not need this sort of commitment. It’s an uncomplicated, almost austere, old farmhouse soup that brings out the best in two vegetables, and it’s easily cobbled together on the fly.

I made it the other day when a trip down the grocery store’s produce aisle yielded leeks with very fresh, relatively crisp leaves and long, stout snowy white stems. (Note: The longer the stems, the greater the amount of chopped leeks will be.) As soon as I got home, I prepped those beautiful leeks, along with some burly russet potatoes, straightaway. Then, as the soup simmered, I stowed the rest of my haul and set the kitchen to rights. Filling and fresh-tasting, the soup was going to be exactly what we wanted after a brisk walk on the beach. In terms of flavor, the leek is the most nuanced and refined member of the onion-garlic clan — a real treat on the palate after months of winter’s storage onions. It’s sturdy, too: Left whole, with roots untrimmed, leeks will easily last a couple of weeks in the refrigerator if you wrap them in a slightly dampened kitchen towel, then put them in a plastic bag. As for the potatoes, they have varying starch and moisture contents The Art & Soul of Greensboro

depending on their type. Russets, the standard baking potato, are high in starch and low in moisture. So-called “boiling” potatoes are low in starch and, you got it, high in moisture. Yukon Golds, with their yellow-tinged flesh, strike a happy medium in both categories. Each kind of spud will make a delicious soup in its own way, but typically, if using boiling potatoes, you’ll need to add more salt, because low starch means a higher proportion of natural sugars. I buy organic potatoes when I can find them, and often leave on the skins unless very thick; it seems a shame to waste them, and they add to the rough-hewn character of the soup. (At the other end of the spectrum is crème vichyssoise, in which the leek and potato mixture is puréed with cream and served cold. This soup, which has great finesse and timeless appeal, was created by the French chef Louis Diat, who became chef de cuisine at the New York Ritz-Carlton in 1910. In 1947, he joined Gourmet magazine as the in-house chef.) Although some leek and potato soup recipes say to simmer the vegetables in chicken stock and/or milk, I stick with plain old water. It’s cleaner tasting, and if you like, you can thin as well as enrich the finished soup with some milk or cream. Leek and potato soup hits the spot for lunch — feel free to add slices of cheese toast, made with a good cheddar — but it can be extremely satisfying for supper, too. Try embellishing it with a handful of greens — spinach or lemony-tart sorrel, for instance, or finely shredded kale — and serve it with a plate of thinly sliced brown bread, unsalted butter, and smoked or kippered salmon. I first had this combination long ago in Scotland, in a gray stone cottage framed by neat rows of blue-green leeks, and to this day the meal conjures long twilights, a crackling fire in the hearth, and the distant boom of the April 2020

O.Henry 45

Food for Thought


surf. In case you find yourself wishing for dessert, a rhubarb oatmeal crisp is as good as it gets.

Leek and Potato Soup

Serves 4 In the recipe below, the method for cleaning the leeks may sound finicky, but it’s not a place to cut corners. Leeks always have a certain amount of soil embedded in their multitude of layers because of how they grow. Rain splashes the dirt onto the leaves, then washes it down to where the stem (which is actually lots of tightly bound leaves) begins. The particles of soil work their way deeper into the plants as they mature. So take your time! Put on some music and embrace the process.


Design | Remodel | Transform

About 4 large leeks About 1½ pounds potatoes 3 tablespoons unsalted butter About 6 cups water Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper Milk or cream to thin soup (optional) Chopped fresh thyme, chives, chervil or tarragon for serving (optional) 1. Trim off the roots and dark green part of the leeks. Discard the tough outer leaf layer. Cut leeks in half lengthwise and thinly slice. Swish them around well in a bowl of cold water, then let them sit so that any soil or sand settles to the bottom of the bowl. 2. Scrub the potatoes and peel if desired. Quarter them lengthwise and cut into ½-inch pieces. Gently lift the leeks out of their bath with your hands and drain. 3. Melt the butter in a pot, add the leeks, and cook over low heat until the leeks are softened but not browned. Add the potatoes and water; season generously with salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, until the potatoes are very soft, 30 to 40 minutes. They should be almost, but not quite, falling apart. 4. Smash some of the potatoes against the side of the pot to give the soup a thicker, smoother consistency, or, if you’re feeling ambitious, pulse a few ladles of soup in a blender, then return to the pot. Taste and think about adding some milk or cream. Or not. Tinker with the seasoning, adding a bit more salt and a few grinds of pepper. Ladle into bowls and scatter with chopped herbs if desired. OH Jane Lear, formerly of Gourmet magazine and Martha Stewart Living, is the editor of Feed Me, a quarterly magazine for Long Island food lovers.

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April 2020

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

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O.Henry 47

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True South

Fixer Upper Or maybe just sit this one out

By Susan S. Kelly

Not long ago, I spent six weeks in vari-

ous casts and splints and slings and supports after surgery to attach seven screws and a plate somewhere in the vicinity of my wrist. I broke some bones dancing on New Year’s Eve, OK? (“How?” a friend asked. “You fall off the pole?” Hilarious.)

Lugging around what essentially amounted to the same heft and girth of an L-shaped Duraflame log nearly up to my armpit gave me new respect for the handicapped. Being unable to bend an elbow or wrist means you’re unable to do those things which you ought to do — like fasten a seatbelt or put on a bra — and also unable to do those things which you ought not to do, like lick your finger after gouging it into pimento cheese, or gouging your ear canal with a Q-tip. But what really took a hit, and left me lots of time to reflect upon, was grooming. As a general rule, I like to blame my faults and flaws on other people, or circumstances beyond my control. That I’m a first child, say, so I had no older sister to teach me, or older brother to tease me, about the finer points of making an effort to look good. Or that I went to an all-girls boarding school, where dorm competitions were less about field hockey and Latin test scores than how long we could go without shaving our legs. Instead, I’ve realized that, as a friend once described someone: “She’s just not fixy.” Being “fixy” means thinking about what you’re going to wear. It means putting on makeup, changing your earrings, and switching pocketbooks occasionally. I have a fixy sister, and she always looks good. When I commented on this fact, she said, “That’s because your appearance isn’t a way of life for you yet.” I had no comeback for this. Day in, day out, I make so little effort that when fellow gym rats see me at a legitimate social function, they do a double take. Not because I look so good, but because the contrast is so . . . startling. My other sister and I worked out together the other day, and afterward I mentioned that I was going to run some errands. “Like that?” she asked incredulously, referring to how I looked and what I was wearing. This, from someone who smeared her lips with a pat of butter during a long overseas flight because they were chapped. “Yes, like this,” I answered. And she’s from a much smaller town, by the way. Still, every now and then I get a spasm of self-improvement. After pregnancies, for example. Being pregnant is like having a remodeling project going on in your house. What with the dust and paint cans and tools and tarps lying around, you eventually just yield to living in squalor. Being pregnant is the same: You just give up and get accustomed to being slovenly. So afterward, I’d go through a six-month spate of major effort. Until the evening I was leaning toward the mirror to apply mascara and the 4-year-old came up behind me, put his arms around my legs, and proceeded to drag his nose across the back of my black skirt. The snot trail defeated me. Ever since, I’ve kept a black Sharpie nearby. Works equally well when the whitening toothpaste (see, I do try . . . ) flecks land The Art & Soul of Greensboro

on your clothes and leave bleached polka-dots. When my daughter was 8, I asked her to remind me, every time we got in the car, to put on lipstick. And she did. “Mom, put on lipstick.” “Mom, put on lipstick.” “Mom, put on lipstick,” she said, until the monster I’d created drove me insane. “Never mind!” I finally screeched after two weeks. Clearly, I’ll never be like a friend who spent a wad on an advertised “all day” lipstick, and whose first question after she swam up out of breast-reconstruction surgery anesthesia was, “Is my lipstick still on?” During one visit to my fixy sister, I asked for a demo of how she put on her makeup. She summoned me to the bathroom, where she’d laid out all her brushes and bottles and utensils like surgical instruments, including a thingie that looked like a teeny-weeny version of a clamdigger rake, or what my grandmother would call a cold meat fork. Turned out the thingie was to unclump her eyelashes. Halfway through the how-to, I decided I’d rather just die on the operating table. She even has specific potions to clean her makeup brushes, a chore she has somehow managed to get her cleaning service to perform. And here I thought dusting baseboards was a big ask. Having grown up with only sisters, I always thought my husband would be charmed by my grooming accoutrements and rituals — such as they are — the way I was (once upon a time long ago) charmed by his shaving routine and shoe-shine procedures and so forth. Wrong. Here is a person who has said to me more than once: “You self-destruct every time you go into a beauty parlor.” There’s no point in telling him that they’re called salons these days; the man doesn’t own a pair of jeans. I do like a manicure, though if my usual choice of fingernail color had a name instead of a number, I’m pretty sure it would be called “pallor.” But massages and facials? Eh. I had my first and only massage while visiting a friend in Palm Beach. The masseuse did it up right: scalp to soles kneading, complete with creams and lotions. An hour later, when we emerged from the spa for some swanky shopping on Worth Avenue, I looked like some Medusa who’d thrashed out of an oil spill. On another jaunt, I was one of a half-dozen lucky guests invited on a trip to Paris for a friend’s Major Birthday. As soon as the plane was aloft, everyone else reclined their seats, declined their dinner, spritzed their faces with a moisturizing/refresher mister, and put on their sleep masks, as if choreographed. I was aghast at the waste of a first-class flight. Fortunately, my seatmate felt the same way — quelle horror, as Holly Golightly would say — and we spent the rest of the night brushing up on our French with the steward: Garçon! Un autre vin, s’il vous plaît. I’ll take another wrinkle and another glass of wine over beauty sleep anytime. I don’t know. It’s a puzzle. Genes would dictate otherwise. An oft-told family tale concerns a still-frigid day in March when my grandmother was going to a luncheon, as one did in those days. When she came to the door wearing a shortsleeved silk spring suit, her friend (like my sister) looked at her, aghast. “Aren’t you cold?” the friend exclaimed. “Yes,” my grandmother replied. “But I look good, don’t I?” All in all, it’s just easier to not be fixy. Which, all in all, is just another word for lazy. OH Susan S. Kelly is a blithe spirit, author of several novels, and a proud grandmother. April 2020

O.Henry 49

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The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Life of Jane

What it Was, Was Golf

A space alien tries to explain golf to its leader after visiting the course at the Greensboro Country Club during the summer, sometime in the 1980s

By Jane Borden

“I’ve discovered a most interesting


human pastime.”

“Another ‘sport’”? “Not at all. One need not be physically strong to play.” “Ah, so a game?” “Perhaps. Although I can discern no prize.” “What is it, then?” “A business meeting.” “But it happens outdoors?” “Yes. While discussing business matters, the humans move around in vehicles between little yellow flags. When they reach a flag, they pick it up and then put it back down.” “Sounds like what you witnessed them doing a few hundred years ago. What was it called? Colonialism?” “Similar, yes. But the flags exist before they arrive.” “Strange.” “And complicated. They can’t just approach a flag. They must send balls ahead of them. Then they replace the flag with the balls.” “So the goal is to replace a flag with a ball?” “No, the goal is to land your ball in a giant sand pit.” The Art & Soul of Greensboro

“I don’t understand.” “When your ball lands in the flag hole, the other players become angry, whereas when it lands in the sand pit, they laugh.” “I see. Yes, the sand pit must be the goal. And then is the business meeting over?” “Not at all. The humans go to great effort to make these meetings as long as possible, sometimes an entire day.” “Really? How long can it take to throw a ball into some sandboxes?” “Well, first of all, they don’t throw it. They propel the ball with large sticks.” “That seems like a waste of energy.” “Especially since the stick doesn’t always make contact with the ball. However, again, I think this must be intentional, since whiffing, as they call it, always makes others laugh.” “I still don’t understand why it takes all day.” “Magic takes time.” “Magic? Humans stopped performing public magic long ago.” “I was surprised too. But their interactions with these sticks strongly suggest they believe the instruments have magical powers. First, they carry the sticks together in a large protective bag, which is closely guarded. Further, the most potent sticks wear little hats to contain their power. Also, players wear gloves so as not to injure themselves while touching the magical sticks.” “Interesting. Go on.” “To conjure the right stick, they stand over the bag, wave their hands, and mumble incoherently.” April 2020

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Life of Jane “Surely this is also intended to make the others laugh.” “To the contrary. The group is deadly serious about conjuring. Especially in regards to the ceremonial dancing.” “Dancing?” “Yes, after conjuring a stick, but before striking a ball, they stamp their feet a few times, jiggle their elbows, shift their hips, and perform a variety of strange motions as if in a trance. The other players respect this ritual by ignoring it.” “What happens if the stick does not provide the magic requested of it?” “The human tries to send it back to the spirit world by throwing it into the sky.” “Hmm. I still don’t understand why the business meeting takes so long.” “Throughout the course are obstacles they call hazards. They must avoid these with their vehicles and their balls.” “For example?” “Small bodies of water. Collections of trees. Children.” “Children live on the course?” “No, but they roam about it freely, wearing flip-flops and carrying towels.” “To antagonize the players?” “Certainly the players become agitated. But the children themselves appear unaware.” “How do the players avoid this obstacle?” “They shout at them.” “And how do the children respond?” “They don’t. They are oblivious to the players and the course. I believe the point of this hazard is to anger the players, as only the most patient and

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calm players prevail.” “If the children are oblivious, are they ever struck by balls?” “Certainly. I witnessed a child named Claiborne take a direct hit to his temple.” “And then what happened?” “He shouted an expletive and his friends laughed at him.” “Interesting. So is this why the children participate, this laughter?” “Perhaps. Except, whenever they are hit or nearly hit the children continue on their path, without investigating the origin of the projectiles, or questioning their own course or behavior.” “Hmm. Why are the children motivated to play such a role?” “They receive payment. During their return crossings over the course, they carry food and drink items called Push Pops and Slushies, in which they appear to place much value.” “OK. So how does the striking of balls with magical sticks in order to remove and replace flags aid in conducting a business meeting?” “The etiquette of the game requires them to be silent during most of it, so they can’t ruin potential business deals by opening their big dumb human mouths.” “Yes, humans are always ruining things with their big dumb mouths. Good work, Scout. I only have two more questions. What is the name of this business meeting?” “Fore!” “And what is the point of it?” “To drink beer.” OH Jane Borden narrowly avoided screaming golf balls during many flip-flopped treks across across Greensboro Country Club’s back nine.

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

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The Art & Soul of Greensboro

April 2020

O.Henry 53

THE DENIM KING: The Moses Cone Story A Musical

Based in part on the book A Mansion in the Mountains by Phil Noblitt, which was commissioned by the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation, this lively musical shares the history of the Cone dynasty and their home, Flat Top Manor in Blowing Rock. Learn about the brothers Moses and Ceasar, early entrepreneurs who made it big in textiles, including Greensboro’s own Cone Mills. You also will learn more about their sisters, Etta and Claribel, who amassed the world-famous Cone Sisters Collection of contemporary art.

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April 2020

www.senior-resources-guilford.org www.guilfordboomers.org The Art & Soul of Greensboro


Quail Trail

In search of the elusive northern bobwhite

By Susan Campbell

For some of those fortunate enough to have

lived near open piney woods or adjacent to large farm fields, the iconic call of a bobwhite quail was once a familiar sound. But, as with so many of our bird species, this once prolific songster has diminished across the Piedmont and Sandhills of North Carolina.

Bobwhites measure between 8 to 11 inches beak to tail and have very cryptic brown, black and white markings that make them almost impossible to see on the ground in the grassy habitats they call home. The male has a bright, white eye stripe and throat. It is he who constantly announces his territory through a repeated “bob-white� call. The female is smaller and a bit drab, with a buff eye throat and no crest. This stout bird is well equipped with a short sharp bill, strong legs and sharp claws that make it an ideal avian for foraging at ground level for insects, berries and soft vegetation. Bobwhite males can be heard trying to attract a mate using their loud repetitive calls in the spring. The female will reply with a four-syllable whistle of her own. Following breeding, the pair creates a domed nest concealed in tall grasses, and the hen lays up to 20 pure white eggs. There is a period of approximately 25 days of incubation before the young hatch. Hens will renest if the eggs are eaten or destroyed. Upon hatching, the chicks will immediately follow their parents; learning how to hunt bugs and determine which shoots are the most nutritious. As a group they are referred to as a covey. The family will stay together through the winter and may join with The Art & Soul of Greensboro

other families to form coveys of 30 or more birds. When alarmed at an early age, the young will scatter and freeze to avoid predators. Once they can fly, they explode into flight in a blur of wings, startling anyone or anything who comes upon them. Quail were a very popular game bird throughout North Carolina until not that long ago. Since the 1980s, when their numbers began to decline, they have become very challenging to find, especially in the Piedmont, except on game preserves where they are stocked. A combination of factors is believed to be responsible. Not only have open woodlands and agricultural fields with hedgerows become scarcer but ground predators such as foxes, coyotes, raccoons and free roaming domestic and feral cats have increased. Also, the timing of rainfall can significantly affect breeding productivity. Too much rain too early may inundate nests and dry conditions when chicks hatch may result in insufficient food. These days, hunters still occasionally find coveys in the wild in the forests and fields of the Sandhills Game Land or the vast acreage of longleaf pine on Fort Bragg. It requires a well-trained bird dog and a good deal of patience. However active quail management is occurring locally. Opening up forested habitat using prescribed burning as well as removing undesirable vegetation and replacing it with quality cover plants are two of the best strategies to help boost the population. Recent efforts by biologists with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission and at Fort Bragg along with assistance from local Quail Unlimited chapters are resulting in gradual increases in northern bobwhite in limited areas. We certainly hope this trend continues so that before much longer the springtime calls of the bobwhite will once again be heard throughout the region. OH Susan would love to receive your wildlife sightings and photos at susan@ncaves.com. April 2020

O.Henry 55

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The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Wandering Billy

Judy (and Eloise) in Greensboro

One week after performing in Greensboro, Judy Garland finally made it over the rainbow

By Billy Eye “Kay is my best critic and severest friend.” — Judy Garland

Bred to be

an entertainer, like Tarzan raised by the Great Apes, hers was an almost impossibly insular existence. Frances Gumm, rechristened Judy Garland as a youngster, was a wholly manufactured product of a stage mother who pushed her relentlessly and a movie studio that wound her up chemically in the mornings then spun her down at night. The biggest box office star on the MGM lot, she starred in 27 films in 14 years. In her 20s in 1950, as Garland began having difficulty coping emotionally (how could she not, under the circumstances?), the studio coldly spat her out into a world she knew nothing about. As a working professional earning millions for her bosses, she’d never attended a proper school, written a check, bought a train ticket, or negotiated a contract. By the end of the ’50s, the 37-year old star was considered washed up in Hollywood, the nail in her professional coffin hammered shut after A Star Is

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Born flopped. Her albums were failing to chart and a lawsuit she was embroiled in with CBS kept her off television. Stricken with an inflamed liver, Garland was told by doctors she’d live the rest of her short life as a semi-invalid and never work again. Yet she soldiered on. New managers got her out on the road in 1960 for what was billed as Garland’s “That’s Entertainment!” tour. No opening acts as in previous public appearances, just Garland fronting a 28-piece orchestra. The singer would later declare 1961 to be the best year of her life. In March of 1961, she paused that globe-spanning tour to shoot her emotionally raw scenes for Judgment At Nuremberg, for which she was nominated for an Academy Award. Afterward, back on the road, she headed down south for shows in Atlanta, Birmingham, Alabama, and Charlotte before arriving in Greensboro for the tour’s final performance on April 17, 1961. Ticket prices ranged from $2 to a high of $3.75 ($17–$32 in today’s dollars, what a bargain). Some among the 2,400 ticket holders, it was reported by The Greensboro Daily News, were perturbed that the venue was switched at the last minute from the Coliseum to the smaller War Memorial Auditorium. This mix-up led to laughs when Garland sang her opening number lyrics, “If you feel deceived, don’t get peeved.” She joked that she too thought the show was in the main room, only discovering she was in the wrong place, “When I found myself alone!” But, because of the overflow, 240 lucky concertgoers got to watch from the orchestra pit. April 2020

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Wandering Billy

Her throat was a bit hoarse that night but still vocally strong. The singer was somewhat plump but much trimmer than in past years when audiences gasped when she took the stage. Apologizing for her voice at one point, “I picked up a strange fungi in Atlanta,” she quipped as she popped what one reviewer called ‘a white lozenge’ (likely Ritalin) into her mouth, then reportedly carried on singing stronger than ever according to local press reports, an electrifying performance lasting 2 hours and 15 minutes. For the first act “Little Miss Show Business” wore a tight black dress with a bright, hip-length jacket over tight sleek, black silk tights, switching to a multicolored beaded jacket over black slacks for act two. As she waved goodnight, hundreds of screaming fans rushed to the edge of the stage, arms outstretched, begging Judy to continue singing. She rewarded them by strutting back into the spotlight for two encores, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and “Swanee.” Joining Garland in Greensboro that night was her closest confidant, Kay Thompson. In addition to being a groundbreaking nightclub performer, Thompson was somewhat of a movie star herself with a scene-stealing role in the musical Funny Face (“Think Pink!”). But she may be best known today as the author of Eloise, about that precocious, cosmopolitan preschooler reigning chaos down from “the room on the tippy-top floor” of the Plaza Hotel. I recently reached out to Sam Irvin, author of the definitive biography Kay Thompson: From Funny Face to Eloise for insight into Thompson’s relationship

with Judy Garland. “Most of all, Kay built up Judy’s confidence,” Sam tells me. “Judy felt relaxed and comfortable in Kay’s presence. Kay offered a reassuring smile of encouragement from the wings or from a prominent seat in the theater where Judy knew to look for her.” After all, he says, “Kay had been an extended family member ever since she began coaching Judy at MGM in the 1940s and had been named the godmother of Judy’s firstborn, Liza [Minnelli], in 1946.” In her live performances, Garland’s strikea-pose delivery — stamping stilettos, one arm akimbo as the other scissors the air above her for those dramatic finishes — was pure Kay Thompson, who possessed an innate ability for dissecting a song, twisting it inside out, wringing out drama, pathos, hilarity and histrionics between the notes where no other performer had imagined they existed. Entertainers from Frank Sinatra to Andy Williams relied on Thompson’s singular musical arrangements to punch up their acts. Kay Thompson could reimagine a cool jazz standard like “As Long As He Needs Me,” then transform it into a veritable “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” causing audiences to jump to their feet as if they’d lost control of their senses. “Kay Thompson was Judy Garland’s eternal, beloved and well-worn security blanket,” Irvin continues. “Whenever Kay was with Judy on tour, they would rehearse and fine-tune the songs in her repertoire. Kay would give her pointers on how to stand, how to move, how to gesture, how long to hold a note — and when


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58 O.Henry

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The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Wandering Billy

The Women’s Suffrage Movement and the 100th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment Dr. Sally Roesch Wagner

Nationally recognized lecturer, and story-teller of women’s rights history, to speak at Greensboro College. Wednesday, April 22, 2020 at 4:00 p.m. Gail Brower Huggins Performance Center, Odell Memorial Building, Greensboro College

not to. Every detail was scrutinized under Kay’s magnifying gaze and Judy trusted her judgment and taste more than anyone in the world.” While in The Gate City, the two entertainers undoubtedly dissected the concert that night in anticipation of Garland’s Carnegie Hall debut in one week’s time. Between the Greensboro gig and April 23rd opening night, Thompson retooled the act, choreographing Garland’s every move on stage. Carnegie Hall changed everything, a musical achievement so unprecedented it’s often referred to as, “The greatest night in show business history,” most certainly the greatest comeback of all time. Within months, the soundtrack album on rom the PAST, LIVE in the PRESENT, Capitol leapt to No.1 on the Billboard pop chart, PLANremaining for the there FUTURE for 13 weeks, the first double LP to ever go gold. Judy at Carnegie Hall went on to win five Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year, Garland being the first female entertainer to do so. Judy Garland was back on top, only this time, in contrast to her MGM days, living life on her own terms. I’ll let Sam Irvin have the last word: “After Judy’s death in 1969, Kay took charge of Liza and encouraged her to step out of the formidable shadow of her mother and become a star in her own right, with an iconic style uniquely hers. Obviously, both Judy and Liza looked up to Kay and wanted to be like her,” Irvin says. “And Kay looked up to Judy and Liza, and wished she had their star-quality and vulnerability. They needed each other. It was a match made in heaven. Or “Pure Heaven,” as Kay would say whenever she heard or saw something that pleased t your financial for 2020 with ONST her. It waspath a phrase that Judy yearned to earn .from Kay — and she did. Often.” OH

Nationally renowned expert, Dr. Wagner is the author of “The Women’s Suffrage Movement” with a foreword by Gloria Steinem (2019, Penguin Classics).

Reception and Book Signing afterward in the Lea Center, Main Building Sponsored by the Greensboro College Women in Philanthropy and Leadership Council Enjoy the special display of 100 solar-powered yellow suffrage roses on GC’s front campus, provided by the League of Women Voters 815 West Market Street, Greensboro, NC 27401 LEARN336-272-7102 from the PAST, greensboro.edu


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Billy Eye would like to thank writer/producer/direc-

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picture to provide us with a peek into the lives of two show biz giants. His book, Kay Thompson: From Funny Face to Eloise, is a magnificent literary triumph. Irvin co-executive produced one of Eye’s very favorite motion pictures, Gods and Monsters. The Art & Soul of Greensboro

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April 2020

O.Henry 59

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April 2020

GreensboroBuilders.org The Art & Soul of Greensboro

April 2020

From Our House Behind the Churchyard, After a Storm An hour after the storm, tree limbs still sway, their green-leafed twigs moving like the limbs of swimmers in a sapphire sea. Thunder booms in the distance but they go on waving, as if the lightning and the rain are dear friends, departing. Beams of brilliant light make gold the ground and polish the branches as puddles glitter beneath blades of grass, silently sipping. And high above the skittering clouds, a red-tailed hawk circles the churchyard, its wings cupping the sodden, cerulean air like a parishioner reaching for a communal cup of wine. — Terri Kirby Erickson

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Bloom of the Day

Bill Hurt and Marshall Morrow’s homegrown passion for daylilies By Ross Howell Jr.


etired school administrator Bill Hurt of Browns Summit has a Tennessee lilt in his voice and a bright, wide smile. If you want to see that smile really light up, just ask him a question about daylilies. “Oh, I love them,” Hurt says. He explains his attitude about the flower is anything but rational, and he’s been growing them seriously since 2006. “The moment you see a favorite plant bloom,” he continues, “it’s a feeling of overwhelming joy, seeing something so beautiful.” These days there’s plenty of joy in Hurt’s home and garden, which he owns with his husband, Marshall Morrow. Their garden is a National Display Garden, authorized by the American Daylily Society (also known as the American Hemerocallis Society), and features more than 300 hybrid varieties. It is one of only 250 or so authorized display gardens in all of the United States, Canada and Europe. How about another number? The Art & Soul of Greensboro

The humble Hemerocallis, wearing hues of orange and yellow, made its way from Asia to the New World by way of Europe and the British Isles. In colonial North Carolina, there were two types: Hemerocallis fulva and Hemerocallis kwanso, a double-blossom variety. Often called “road lily,” or worse, “ditch lily,” over the last century the daylily has been developed by “hybridizers” into more than 90,000 registered varieties! Hurt nods at me. “Old as I am, I may run out of time,” he says. “I may run out of money, I may run out of land, but I’ll never run out of daylilies.” And these many varieties are cloaked in the colors of the rainbow. Well, except for true blue and true white, though the hybridizers are far from giving up on breeding those colors, along with other characteristics, too. “You know, I was talking with a hybridizer up in Kentucky who’s a friend of mine,” Hurt says, “because deer really like to eat daylilies.” Such damage can be a big problem. While Hurt and Morrow are careful to keep their plants treated with repellant, deer sometimes destroy so many plants set out by neophyte growers that they get discouraged and give up the endeavor altogether. April 2020

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According to the American Daylily Society, a new grower can spend from as little as $3 to as much as $500 for a small hybrid starter plant. Since Hurt and Morrow like to add a new variety or two each garden year, he figures they’ve spent an average of $175 for each hybrid in their collection. That’s expensive, especially to a newcomer who sees his garden wiped out in a night. “Anyway, I said to the hybridizer,” Hurt says, “‘you want to get really creative You ought to figure out a way to make your hybrids deer-repellent.’ My friend doesn’t miss a beat,” Hurt smiles. “‘It’s not impossible!’ he says. ‘Right now it’s just not feasible economically.’” Hurt explains that the hybridizer has been experimenting with injecting the tastes of garlic, rosemary and thyme — flavors abhorrent to the deer palate — into his varieties. Hurt grew up in Tennessee in a family of flower-growers. His grandfather, grandmother and mother all grew flowers. “I still grow feather hyacinths and peonies my grandmother gave me that date back to the ’50s,” he says. “They’re in a bed at the front of the house,” he continues. “Every spring when they bloom, I think of Momma Hurt.” After his education, Hurt taught school for many years and served as a school administrator in Franklin, Tennessee. Later he moved to Greensboro, where he served Guilford County Schools for seven years. In Franklin he left behind a substantial garden. “Back then I was really interested in Japanese iris,” Hurt says. “I had quite a few varieties. And I’d gotten interested in daylilies, too, which are a great companion flower to the iris.” When he sold his home in Franklin, the new owners assured him they would take good care of the flowers in his garden. So he left them. “You know how that goes,” Hurt says. “Their intentions were good, but they really let the plants go.” Hurt’s first home in Greensboro was at Lake Jeanette. The lot was small, and in no time Hurt and Morrow had it filled with daylily varieties. “We just ran out of space,” Hurt says. “But during the winter two years ago we found this house with this big lot in Summit Lakes and bought it, so here we are.” Hurt and Morrow moved the entire Lake Jeanette garden inventory in February. “Fortunately that year we had a dry January,” Hurt says. “So it wasn’t too muddy and we were able to till new beds. We dug the plants, loaded them in garbage bags and drove them out here to get them in the ground.” Morrow came up with the design of the garden. It’s laid out in curved beds, with ample grassy lanes between, so the gardeners can tend to their daylilies easily, and visitors can roam the beds, savoring the beauty close at hand, without trampling any plants. “Marshall’s idea was to create something like an orchestra pit,” Hurt says. The effect is both attractive and functional. Hurt and Morrow have a special method for preparing their plants for spring. “We’re older now, so we’ll just do a row at a time,” Hurt says. “We don’t want to wear out our knees, you know.” First, Hurt and Morrow carefully pull back the pine straw mulch from the crowns of the plants. “See?” Hurt asks. “Some daylilies are evergreen through the winter. Others are dormant. Those stand a better chance in colder winters.” Then Hurt and Morrow groom each plant, pruning out dead leaves and other organic matter. Some plants are large enough to divide, others will need another growing season. Excess plant matter and mulch are saved for composting. Once plant grooming is complete, they prepare a special spring fertilizer cocktail for the daylilies. It consists of blood meal, cottonseed meal, alfalfa pellets, powdered molasses, Milorganite and 3 inches composted cow manure. I ask Hurt if he minds me giving away the secret ingredients of his fertilizer mix. “Oh, no,” he replies. “It’s all about spreading the love. We want to get as many people growing daylilies successfully as we can.”

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After fertilizing, the plants are mulched with new pine straw, and are ready for spring. “You know, there’s something people forget,” Hurt says. “A daylily bloom is just that. It lasts for a day.” In fact, the word Hemerocallis derives from the Greek words for “beauty” and “day.” The flowering period for an established plant is usually weeks long, however, because of the many buds developed on the “scape,” the leafless stem of a daylily. During summer, Hurt and Morrow deadhead the spent blooms every evening, so the beds present a pure display the next morning. “When the plants are really going,” Hurt says, “especially when we have the garden open for viewing, it might take us as much as three hours each night to groom them all.” Hurt tells me when he was growing Japanese iris, he learned about a Zen practice of meditating on the unfolding of an individual flower. “That would be a good thing to do with daylilies,” he says. “But you better have some time on your hands.” He reckons the opening of a daylily blossom takes a good hour or so. Neat, legible labels are set by each hybrid. As required by the American Daylily Society for a display garden, the labels include the registered name of the hybrid, the year the hybrid was introduced and the name of the hybridizer. Some of Hurt’s favorites include Tony the Tiger, “an exquisite pattern introduced in 2019, with that elusive blue color and blue/yellow contrast in blooms 7 to 8 inches across,” he says. There’s Mayor of Munchkinland, “a miniature,” Hurt explains, “meaning the bloom measures under 3 inches across, and it always, always has multiples.” Another is Rainbow Reef, a pattern designated “small,” meaning its blossoms are 3 to 4 inches across, “and the blue is there, contrasting with pink,” Hurt adds. Irish Mayhem is a variety with remarkable green colors and big blossoms 9 inches across. “The texture of the blooms is amazing,” Hurt says. “They feel just like porcelain.” Then there’s Dorothy and Toto. “This variety features beautiful double blooms,” Hurt says. “When it was introduced in 2003, it won the Stout Silver Medal, the highest award the American Daylily Society gives to a hybridizer.” And last, categorized as an “unusual form daylily,” there’s Garden Fairy. “It has this wonderful, open form, ruffles, and grows to be 46 inches tall,” Hurt says. Clever marketers, those hybridizers. They’re constantly coming up with tantalizing names for their creations. We didn’t mention Heavenly United We Stand, Fluttering Beauty, Boss Hogg, Bloody Marys at Windy Hill, Sips of Sin or Ice Cream Sundae. And the hybridizers are located all over the country. Hurt likes to support regional hybridizers in North and South Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Florida and Georgia. But he also has purchased cultivars from Minnesota and Kansas. Want to learn more about daylilies? There’s a fount of knowledge at the American Daylily Society website, daylilies.org. The society also publishes the Daylily Journal, along with books and other resources and sponsors a national convention, which in 2020 will be held in Savannah, Georgia. In addition to regular monthly meetings, a local peak season opportunity will be presented by Triad Daylily Fans on June 27, 1 p.m. to 4:45 p.m., at Fellowship Presbyterian Church, 2005 New Garden Road, Greensboro. And whatever you do, don’t miss Bill Hurt and Marshall Morrow’s Open Garden at 3631 Summit Lakes Road, Browns Summit, on June 13, 9 a.m. to noon. The garden should be at its blooming peak then, and you’ll probably bump into a number of our area’s master gardeners. “It’s all about spreading the love of daylilies,” Hurt concludes. OH Working on this article prompted farm boy Ross Howell Jr. to recall one of his mother’s favorite passages of scripture: “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” Matthew 6:28-29 (KJV)

Tony the Tiger

Mayor of Munchkinland

Rainbow Reef

Irish Mayhem

Dorothy and Toto

Garden Fairy

The Shimmering Art of

Louis C. Tiffany Classic lamps on display at Reynolda House By Jim Moriarty

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hile on one hand it could seem as though Louis Comfort Tiffany was born with a silver glasscutter in his mouth, the son of the founder of Tiffany and Company created, over his lifetime, an entire genre of decorative art so ubiquitous, so singularly chic and stylistically distinctive that his name alone has come to represent the thing itself. It is the de rigueur description of any leaded glass shade. Say “Tiffany lamp” and you need say no more. All the rage one day, passé the next, fashion may be fickle, but the art endures. The intimate gallery space at the Reynolda House Museum of American Art in Winston-Salem will house an exhibit of Tiffany’s finest work on loan from the Neustadt Collection at the Queens Museum in New York. The traveling exhibition opened in late March and continues through June 21. Tickets are $18 and available at reynoldahouse.org. “The decorative arts are accessible to everybody,” says Phil Archer, Reynolda’s director of Program and Interpretation. “To have a gallery with the light actually shining through the works of art will be new for us and make it a very magical space. It just fits at Reynolda because of the natural setting of the gardens. We wanted the exhibition in the spring for that reason. Come and see all the flowers, then come inside and see all the flowers.” The show comprises 20 of the most celebrated examples of Tiffany’s lamps and, interestingly, three forgeries that serve to demonstrate the difference between faux Tiffany and authentic works. There’s a display demonstrating the steps in the creation of the lampshades and biographical information on the

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

key personnel at Tiffany Studios — chemist Arthur J. Nash and designers Clara Driscoll, Agnes Northrop and Frederick Wilson — who all made meaningful contributions to the artistry of the lamps. Also part of the exhibit are five Tiffany windows and, separate from the exhibit, a display of Tiffany vases purchased by Katharine Reynolds on view in the Reynolda House itself. The role of Driscoll, née Clara Wolcott, who was in charge of the “Tiffany Girls” in the glass cutting department and is responsible for the design of two of Tiffany’s most remarkable lamps, Wisteria and Dragonfly, only came to light in the first decade of the 21st century when Martin Eidelberg, an art history professor from Rutgers University, discovered her letters archived at Kent State University. “She was an Ohioan, so her papers ended up at Kent State,” says Archer of the letters Driscoll sent home from New York. “The family evidently had almost a chain letter system where Mom would send a letter to Clara, she would send it to her sister who would send it to the brother and they would all add to it. It was better than group texting.” While Tiffany may not have been solely responsible for every design, “The concepts were Tiffany’s,” says Archer. “The aesthetic was Tiffany’s. The kind of color palette and the combination of colors and details and opacities were Tiffany’s. It’s almost like Mozart writing a piece and then conducting the orchestra. He’s not playing any of the instruments. Everybody else is making the music but the original concept is his. They bring a lot of creativity to how they play it — though that may not be an exact metaphor because some of the April 2020

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concepts, like the Wisteria lamp, were Driscoll’s.” Born in 1848, the slight, delicate son of Charles Louis Tiffany could have slid seamlessly into the family business. “He had every opportunity to take over from his father and be the lead jeweler and luxury goods maker in New York,” says Archer. “The primrose path was laid out for him.” When the younger Tiffany was enrolled at Eagleswood Military Academy in New Jersey, he met and studied under the painter George Inness. The effects would be profound. By the age of 19, he had become a founding member of the American Society of Painters in Water Colors and had begun to exhibit his work at the National Academy of Design. He traveled to Europe and North Africa and would be particularly influenced by what, at the time, was called the “Orientalist” style. “When I first had a chance to travel in the East and to paint where the people and the buildings are clad in beautiful hues, the pre-eminence of color in the world was brought forcibly to my attention,” Tiffany said later. One of his better-known paintings, Snake Charmer at Tangier, Africa, expressed Tiffany’s interest in the play of light and color. It was exhibited at Snedecor’s Gallery in New York in 1872 and later at the 1876 Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia. It remained in Tiffany’s personal collection until 1921, when he donated it to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. While still painting, Tiffany drifted into design and decorating. At the same time, he had become enthralled by the possibilities of glass as an art form. “Tiffany hated modern glass because it was too clean,” says Archer. “He wanted glass like archeologists were digging up in Syria and Lebanon. It was like opals. It had color and shimmer. He hired chemists to really develop all of these different colors and ranges. The beauty that he found in that glass and trying to replicate it becomes the story.” Tiffany didn’t paint on glass — “staining” it only rarely, usually in faces — he painted with glass. The use of metallic oxides allowed for the development of the range of colors that distinguish his work. “Standing by the glass workers, he had them fold the glass on itself and pinch in places to achieve the effect of magnolia blooms in a window of his library at the Tiffany Mansion,” writes Julia Tiffany Hoffman, a great-granddaughter. “A pulled rod of glass was slightly melted and scrolled on the glass to effect vines, stems and spiderwebs. Louis used just the right color combination of paper-thin glass bits to achieve a painterly quality . . . Molten glass was pressed thin and then stretched to effect the impression of light shining on snow. When working on a window, he would have his glass house make sheets The Art & Soul of Greensboro

of glass that had several colors running through them, then find the perfect area and orientation to express the petal of a tulip or the leaf.” In addition to the inspired glassmaking, the creation of Tiffany’s lamps was aided by the innovative use of copper foil. “Instead of having heavy lead connectors,” says Archer, “they were able to use much, much finer connectors. There’s a lot of artistry in the creation of the glass, and there’s artistry in the cutting and piecing it together.” Tiffany was also receiving commissions decorating American palaces for Gilded Age royalty like Cornelius Vanderbilt, and Henry and Louisine Havemeyer. He decorated Mark Twain’s house in Connecticut and the interior of the old Lyceum Theatre on Park Avenue South in New York. He collaborated with the famous — and infamous — architect Stanford White on a house for the Tiffany family. He did the Ponce de Léon Hotel in St. Augustine, Florida, and Chester A. Arthur’s White House. “Tiffany would design from soup spoon to chandelier,” says Archer. “He was creating almost complete works of art in these houses. But upper middle-class people could afford the lamps. They ended up propelling Tiffany Studios financially. In his lectures, Tiffany almost never referred to his lamps. He would talk about these huge projects and the large windows. The lamps were sort of the bread and butter.” Tiffany believed nature should be the primary source of design. “Every really great structure is simple in its lines — as in Nature — every great scheme of decoration thrusts no one note upon the eye,” he wrote. Having outlived two wives and three of his eight children, in his final years Tiffany’s ultimate project was his estate on Oyster Bay on Long Island — Laurelton Hall, 84 rooms on 600 acres. He designed every nook, cranny and garden. Punctuality and orderliness were valued traits. He owned seven white linen suits, one for each day of the week. A tennis player and avid photographer who never saw a speed limit he wanted to obey, the giant of Art Nouveau attempted to stick his finger in the dike of modernism with the establishment of the Tiffany Foundation, devoted to helping aspiring artists. “Paintings should not hurt the eyes,” he cautioned them. By the time Tiffany died in 1933, much of his wealth had evaporated in the crash of 1929 and the ensuing Great Depression. Laurelton was sold in 1945, and the land subdivided. In 1957, the largely abandoned great house, containing some of Tiffany’s finest windows, burned to the ground. It took two days to melt the art of a lifetime. OH April 2020

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Just in time for April Fool’s Day, our naturally funny correspondent takes a look at the past, present and future of comedy in the Gate City By Billy Ingram • Photographs by Sam Froelich

Paul Talley of Comedy Zone


ave you heard the one about a city that didn’t take itself too seriously, so much so that it launched many a comedic career? Greensboro may not exactly be perceived as a hot bed of hilarity, but over the years, a lot of first-rate acts have originated in the Gate City. In fact, it is where one of the greatest comedy routines of the 20th century originated as this magazine recounted in December 2015, “What It Was, Was Football” by Andy Griffith, was recorded live at the Plantation Supper Club in 1953 and perfected at a littleknown recording studio atop the original location of Moore Music Co. on Market Street. That cornpone-infused 45 disc catapulted “Deacon” Andy Griffith to superstar status, remaining to this day one of the best-selling comedy records of all time. It was influential as well, inspiring generations of comedians from Bill Cosby to Jeff Foxworthy. Two decades later, in October of 1973, Gate City native Rick Dees rocketed all the way to No.1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart with the novelty tune “Disco Duck.” The very next year writer Harry Ruskin wrote a book entitled Comedy Is a Serious Business. He was right and in coming years it also became big business. Beginning in the late ’70s, nightclubs featuring standup comedians began to flourish in big cities such as New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. Within a decade there were thousands of Laugh Factories, Improv Asylums, Punch Lines, and Catch a Rising Star–style rooms scattered around the country. Especially in those larger markets, club owners discovered that societal misfits with a warped worldview and an overwhelming desire to express themselves on stage could prove to be a cheap source of labor. It wasn’t until 1996 that our city was blessed with a proper comedy venue. That’s when Paul Talley opened his nightclub for yuks on Holden near Spring Garden. Not that it was his plan. “Out of the blue, two guys come knocking on my door and say they were with the Comedy Zone circuit, a chain, a very loose chain, and asked if I had considered doing comedy in this vacant building I had here.” Talley was already operating Arizona Pete’s located across the parking lot. “I said, ‘Sure.’ I had no idea what I was doing,” Talley admits.

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Idiot Box’s Jennie Stencel The enterprise proved a great deal more involved than owning a countrywestern themed dance club like Arizona Pete’s, “There’s far more management and execution needed for a comedy club,” Talley says. “You’ve got the reservations, showtimes you need to adhere to, performers have to be here on time, you’ve got hotels. . . after a year or two we kinda figured it out on the fly.” As a chain, Comedy Zone has its own booking agent with a stable of comedians who rotated throughout its various franchises. A system with national booking agents allows Comedy Zone to host name acts like Norm MacDonald, Andrew Dice Clay, Chris Tucker and Chris Rock. “We’ve had on the bigger guys, we get them on occasion,” Talley notes. “If they want to do a smaller club on an off-night, we’ll have them once a month or so.” Jennie Stencel is the proprietor of the city’s most intimate comedy club, The Idiot Box. After bouncing around in different locations, it appears to have found a niche on Greene Street next to craft-beer provisioner Beerthirty. Why a comedy club? “My husband [Steven Stencel] and I performed together in Chapel Hill,” Stencel replies. “We started having children and were working for somebody else, so we took a few months off from doing comedy and thought ‘This is horrible.’ So we moved here and opened Idiot Box.” As for their mission, “The Idiot Box exists to grow the local comedy scene,” Stencel says. “So we book a lot of locals and we do trainings and bring in national acts also. We have improv on Saturday. When we started having Open Mics, we had five or six new comics and now our Open Mic sells out a lot. We do one on Thursdays always and we do one on Friday nights sometimes.” Comedy Zone also emphasizes homegrown humor. “We do very few national acts here, once a month maybe,” Talley says. “The price is only $10 a ticket which is insanely cheap. If you had a national act it would be 30, 40, 50 bucks. Our acts, they’re all funny as can be, they’re just not quite famous yet.” Talley also understands the importance of priming the pump. “We do have an amateur night once a month,” he says. “We get 150, 175 people in a crowd, which is strong for a Thursday night. We do about eight to 10 locals then we put on a bigger act up there to close the show. The problem is, from a club’s perspecThe Art & Soul of Greensboro

tive, it’s a little tough to make money on it.” Comedy Zone’s amateur nights have led to some major talent rocketing to shooting star status. “Jourdain Fisher [back-to-back winner of The Ultimate Comic Challenge] started here. He’s now writing for Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show monologue,” Talley tells me. “Chico Bean got his start here as an amateur. He’s now very big on Wild ’N Out, the MTV show.” B-Daht (102 JAMZ’s morning show) and A&T alumnus Darren Brand, who goes by Big Baby, were also featured on Wild ’N Out. Chemistry nightclub drag performer Heidi N Closet will join 12 other contestants on Ru Paul’s Drag Race this year. Cee-Jay Jones, Ben Jones and King David all tour extensively, each owing their careers to our comedy scene. As for some of the upand-comers, just tune in to ROCK 92 every Friday morning to “2 Guys Named Chris.” Their presence on the airwaves, says Talley, “is tremendous for us.” The 2 Guys Named Chris Comedy All-Stars are all Comedy Zone alums. Chris Wiles is another well-known working comic with local ties, “I’ve been with Carnival Cruises since 2001,” Wiles tells me from somewhere in the Caribbean. “It’s been my main source of income since 2009. With multiple television appearances, including season 3 of Last Comic Standing, his way up the laughter ladder was not atypical — just get up in front of folks and start slinging jokes. “I was a junior in high school,” says “A teenage nightclub called Islands in Winston-Salem was opening up in 1989. I went in to audition as an actor and spent about an hour with the owner and he goes, ‘Man, you’re really funny. Have you thought about doing standup?’ I said, ‘Look man, if you’re going to pay me and put me on stage I’ll do anything.’” The owner of Islands and the high school student sat down and wrote what they thought was five minutes of the greatest standup comedy ever. “It was a really strange setup,” Wiles says of Islands. “The music would be playing, kids would be dancing, then three times a night the DJ would stop the music and go, ‘OK, it’s time for comedy’ and I would be on the stage. They’d put the light up and the kids would gather around the stage. I would do five minutes of comedy and then they’d go back to dancing and playing video games.” Wiles was managing Dominos Pizza and Papa Johns when our Comedy Zone opened in ’96, another local comic introduced him to Paul Talley and he ended up becoming the house emcee there for the next 13 years. “I’ve got a neat following [in Greensboro]. They always show up,” Wiles says. “This Valentine’s weekend I had the fastest sellout of any of my shows. They’re from all walks of life, all ages, I’d say the average crowd is between 23 and 60 years old.” Shared laughter unites people, at least you’d think so. Then again, it may be true what George Orwell once famously said: “Every joke is a tiny revolution.” Fifty years after Lenny Bruce tested the limits of performance art, in today’s pearl-clutching atmosphere, where scolds and trolls garner attention for themselves not by creating something but via expressing outrage over the slightest slight, what are the limits to what can and can’t be expressed in public? “It’s much worse now than it was in 1996,” Talley says. “Before, there were just some things that were offensive. Everything now is offensive. Twenty years ago, you could tell a joke without offending people. There are certain things I tell my comics to avoid. Politics, religion — you’re gonna be funny to half the people but you’re going to piss off the other half.” “The world is definitely different,” says Jennie Stencel of The Idiot Box. “For our improv shows, our goal is for people to come and have a night out and have fun. Nobody really wants to talk about politics. They yell it out, they think they want to hear about it, but you have to agree with everyone 100 percent now. We could be the same political party, we can mostly agree, but I like this candidate and now we’re not friends anymore!”

“We kind of figured it out,” Talley says. “Some people might say, ‘He offended me, he said this. . . ’ I thought, ‘Well, that’s reasonable.’ Everything was a surprise when it was all new.” While there’s no desire to stifle a performer, “There are certain things, certain words that, in this market, we really don’t want them to say.” Stencel has noticed a seismic change in the national sense of humor over time. “If you go watch comedians in the ’80s,” she offers, “Famous people, the terminology that was P.C. then is just not OK now. They weren’t terrible people in the ’80s. Now they’re great people, but what you were allowed to say was different and how you said it was different as well.” Disparate age groups even think different things are humorous. “You could have amateurs come in and make fun of millennials,” Stencel says. “Well, if it’s an audience full of millennials they’re like, [‘Ugh’]. We have a lot of young people come here to have a good time and if it’s not really funny, it’s just insults.” Surely college campuses, those bastions to an open-minded understanding of the world writ large, would be a safe haven for the free expression of ideas. On the contrary, it’s been more than a decade since comedians like Chris Rock, Larry the Cable Guy and Jerry Seinfeld swore off doing shows on college campuses lest they find themselves buried in an avalanche of grievances from butt-hurt snowflakes. “The college crowds have become overly sensitive,” Chis Wiles notes. “I think they forget they’re coming to a comedy show. Without tragedy there is no comedy, without conflict there is no comedy.” The last place Wiles played a college gig was Virginia Tech. “That was about six years ago and even then they were becoming a bit sensitive,” he says. “You can’t talk about homosexuality, can’t talk about race, you can barely talk about sex on a college campus which is weird because, you know, outside of going to learn something I thought that’s what college was for, sex.” Another factor, Stencel believes, “It’s just easier to perform your comedy in a venue that’s intended for comedy.” This level of selective outrage is a worldwide phenomenon. In 2015 almost two dozen staffers at the French humor magazine Charlie Hebdo were gunned down by religious fanatics because of a cartoon they published. Numerous studies over several decades consistently inform us that a fear of public speaking is an American’s worst nightmare . . . more terrifying than death, financial ruin, or (shudder) clowns. Besides being an effective way to improve one’s oratory skills, I’ve been told that The Idiot Box’s weekly improvisation classes are highly entertaining. “Comedians are a fun group of people to be friends with and work with,” Jennie Stencel insists. “That part of my job is way more fun than probably a regular job. Everybody’s cool and interesting and smart.” I myself tried standup once, back in the mid-1970s, when I convinced club owner Bill Griffin at the Hilton Underground to let me go on before the band on a Friday night. The Underground was one of those darkly lit, smoke-filled, shag-carpet-on-the-wall joints but it never occurred to me that my 17-year-old self would get heckled by one of the seven drunkards right out of a W.C. fields movie scattered about the 20 tables at 7 p.m. in the evening. As a result, my five-minute act became a minute, 45-second routine. At least the hippie musicians liked it. Who knows, had I succeeded at standup, perhaps I’d be cruising from one tropical sandy paradise to another just like Chris Wiles. “I’ve gotten to the point now that I’m not a big fan of beaches anymore,” Wiles confesses. “I’m more about the mountains because I’ve been on every beach out there.” That’s the punchline. Say g’night Gracie. OH


tragedy there is no comedy, without conflict there is no comedy.”

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

According to IMDB, Billy Ingram is an actor, producer and editor best known for “The Nathan Stringer Summer Music Show.” He’d like to think otherwise. April 2020

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Four-Leaf Clover Rag How JoAnn and Bill Owings became guardians of a proud Triad legacy

By Nancy Oakley • Photographs by Amy Freeman


he view from the front porch, revealing a graceful fountain in the side yard, convinced JoAnn and Bill Owings to purchase their historic home on High Point’s Parkway some 30 years ago. “It was the yard,” JoAnn says emphatically. “The gardens were beautiful. You could see, even though everything was overgrown, this yard was beautiful.” Towering oaks, magnolias and other deciduous trees sheltered a massive lot — four lots, actually — choked with wisteria and fallen limbs. “Leaves were everywhere,” JoAnn recalls. “We didn’t even know there were boxwoods,” she adds. The condition of the house was equally daunting. “We walked through, walked out and shook our heads, and said, ‘There’s no way,’” Bill remembers. A litany of problems stemmed largely from plumbing leaks: “Holes in the ceilings — it was just gone in the living room and dining room.” The wall between the music room and dining room was literally falling down. But on a second visit, the Owings began to reconsider. They both loved history and had always admired the Neoclassical architecture of the house, which they’d passed many times, living nearby in a smaller abode. But at that juncture in their lives, around 1990, with two daughters, a 10-year old and an infant, they were outgrowing their dwelling in the neighborhood so conveniently located near Bill’s base at High Point Medical Center where he works as an anesthesiologist. Ultimately, it was that view from the porch, with the brick walk and the fountain, its aqua-colored walls surrounding a sculpture of a mythical imp wrestling a fish that seized Bill’s imagination. “You can’t find this anywhere, anymore,” he says, referring to the Italianate water feature. “I think she put that in during the late ’40s, after World War II,” JoAnn reflects. “It’s almost as if she went to Italy, went on a trip, came back and said, ‘I can do that.’” “She” was Lola Lee Blanks Hudson, and it appears there was very little she couldn’t do. An accomplished Tennessee belle, Lola with her sister The Art & Soul of Greensboro

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“The gardens were beautiful. You could see, even though everything was overgrown, this yard was beautiful.”

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LaVerne studied at the Memphis Conference Female Institute in Jackson, Tennessee, in 1903 before taking up teaching music in Arkansas. A photograph around this time reveals a bright-eyed young lady, her dark hair piled high in Gibson-Girl fashion contrasting with a slight impish smile. Lola acquitted herself well as “a musician of rare ability and marked talent . . . [possessing] a smooth, even touch and is worthy to be called an artist,” enthuses a reference letter from one of her teachers from American Conservatory of Music – Chicago. “They were wonderful piano players,” says Lola’s grandson William Pennuel (“Penn”) Wood, whose father Elliott Sherrill Wood founded Heritage and Henredon furniture companies, among others. Over the years, Penn Wood, vice president of Woodmark Originals for 19 years, has served High Point on a number of boards, including the N.C. Shakespeare Festival, High Point Arts Council as well as the statewide Museum of History Associates. “Mrs. Hudson read music,” Penn Wood recalls. “LaVerne played by ear.” They even cut a record, which he describes as “a hoot to listen to — a lot of ragtime.” In later years, as Bill Owings heard it, the sisters would invite the neighborhood children to play in the vast yard, with pocket gardens, a fish pond and Lola’s whimsical animal sculptures on Sunday afternoons. “And if they found a four-leaf clover the sisters would play them a duet,” he says. But that was long after Lola had come to High Point as a young matron, having met and married another Tennessean, Homer Tyre Hudson Sr. He and his older brother, Charles Crump, better known as “C.C.”, would have an enormous influence on the Triad, and particularly Greensboro, with The Art & Soul of Greensboro

what began as a modest clothing operation, Hudson Overall Company, later renamed Blue Bell, which would morph into blue jeans giant Wrangler and give the city its nickname, “Jeansboro.” As Penn Wood tells it, the boys’ father, a widely respected professor in eastern Tennessee, had died at an early age. Their mother remarried into the Graham family, which had North Carolina connections in Asheville and Pleasant Garden. When an aunt in Pleasant Garden died, leaving C.C. some money, the young man ventured east to the Gate City, taking a job sewing buttons at an overall plant, Hunter Manufacturing. “This work commanded wages of twenty-five cents per day,” writes Wood in a personal family history. He goes on to explain that the job afforded C.C. the opportunity to learn every facet of the business — from manufacturing and marketing to merchandising, sales and distribution. Thus, the young man was well-positioned, when his employer went out of business: With enough saved earnings to acquire a line of credit, he bought five sewing machines and, as many in Greensboro know, in 1904 set up shop above the former Coe Brothers Grocery on South Elm Street. Homer, living in West Virginia with Lola and their growing family, joined the enterprise. Buying tightly woven “deeptoned” denim from Cone, the brothers fashioned work clothes so prized among the engineers on the trains pulling into the Gate City, just a stone’s throw from the Coe Grocery loft. They would frequent the fledgling business to buy overalls. On one of these visits — or so local lore has it — one of the train engineers asked about a brass bell on one of the Hudson brothers’ desks, perhaps a memento from their deceased April 2020

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father’s teaching career, with the curious blue patina from the denim lint. And so the legendary brand’s backstory, apocryphal or not, was born. Relocating to different manufacturing sites throughout downtown Greensboro as it expanded, Blue Bell, by 1919, boasted 250 employees and operating expenses totaling more than $600,000. Wood writes. “ . . . what a boon to the local economy . . . the brand suggests a strictly Southern product; the cotton is raised here, the goods manufactured here and the overalls fashioned here.” That same year, Homer Hudson purchased the High Point Overall Company, which would be known for its Anvil Brand work clothes. Three years later, Homer and Lola Hudson built the brick Neoclassical Revival at the far end of Parkway, which they would dub “Home-Lea.” “Parkway,” says Benjamin Briggs, executive director of Preservation Greensboro and native High Pointer, “was an earlier iteration of Emerywood.” Before the latter subsumed the street, which became the busy thoroughfare it is today, Parkway — and particularly the corner where the Hudsons built — was “kind of like a suburban estate,” Briggs explains. Not so unusual, considering this was the period when the power elite were fleeing grimy industrialized cities and dust-filled factories for literal green pastures. Briggs has memories of seeing the overgrown gardens when he was child riding the school bus in the 1970s. “They were derelict and overgrown. Wooden features had rotted away. But the bones were still there,” he recalls. The Neoclassical house (now listed on the National Register of Historic Places as a supporting structure for High Point’s Uptown District) is distinctive for The Art & Soul of Greensboro

that portico that so entranced the Owings. “There are some stylized details on the columns that are delicate; dental molding on the capital; a demi-lune window over portico; brick lentils over capitals,” Briggs offers. According to Penn Wood, the brick, and particularly its crisp white mortar pointing, was a source of pride for Lola Hudson. He indicates it in a photograph of Lola’s daughters, La Verne (Wood’s mother) and Hybernia, two bobbed flappers standing hand-in-hand in front of the arched doorway. The porch later served as the setting for a group photo accompanying a society feature in the High Point Enterprise. The story describes a bridal luncheon that Lola hosted in 1952, the year Homer retired: “Magnolias banked the mantel and were used elsewhere in the living room to which guests were invited on their arrival. Yellow snapdragons were combined with Madonna lilies and lacy gypsophila for the exquisite centerpiece used on the buffet table. . . After being served from the dining room table, guests found their way to the garden room, so named because it overlooks Mrs. Hudson’s lovely sunken garden.” “She was a student of gardens,” says Wood of his grandmother, a founding member of High Point’s Mid-WeekGarden Club, established in 1923, for which and she and sister LaVerne would provide musical entertainments. He recalls touring destination gardens and sites like Natural Bridge, Virginia, with his grandmother en route to Washington, D.C., to visit relatives. “It was fascinating as a young boy.” He also remembers her visiting his mother in Sedgefield, where he grew up. One summer, he recalls, Lola planted her entire lower garden in soybeans. “Supposedly they put nitrogen April 2020

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in the soil. It looked so rural,” he laughs. “But as a gardener, she would have been interested in the nutrition of the soil.” Lola, after all, came from a long line of planters, starting with the Blankses of Tennessee, who were descended from early settlers along Virginia’s James River. Her parents, Francis Marion “Frank” and Jefferson “Jeffie” Lee Gill Blanks ran the Riverby Inn in Swannanoa in the 1930s. Wood notes that the family tended a large vegetable garden that would feed the inn’s guests. He adds that Homer loved gardening as well, though most of his time was taken up with the overalls business. “We didn’t see much of him,” Wood recalls. “He was nose-to-grindstone and very nervous.” He remembers his grandfather as being a natty dresser — a must for an executive in the clothing and textile business — who acquired a new car every year, usually a Packard, though Wood does remember a luxury LaSalle. After the sale of Blue Bell in 1926, C.C. Hudson sat on various boards and offered his service to several community and civic organizations, including the Greensboro Chamber of Commerce. “He grew roses,” says Wood. He recalls his great-uncle’s log cabin retreat, Idlewild, designed by architect Charles C. Hartman. It occupied a large wooded lot in the Gate City’s Kirkwood neighborhood before it was dismantled and moved to Snow Camp in 1994. C.C. died in 1937, Homer, in 1959. Following his death, Lola invited La

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Verne, also widowed, to live with her. Penn Wood remembers a couple who served as caretakers, “Sandy the driver and Captola, the cook.” But as often happens, when people age, their houses do, too. Lola remained on Parkway until her death in 1974 (LaVerne had died two years prior). By then the house was already falling into disrepair. Subsequent owners did little to keep the place up. Pipes leaked. Ceilings crumbled. The yard became a veritable jungle, as Briggs witnessed from the school bus during his youth, and as the Owings had noticed. But once they committed to buying “Home-Lea,” which was living up to its punny moniker, they were determined to restore it to as close to its original incarnation as possible, right down to some of the accents, such as a crystal chandelier. “My kids were like, ‘Oh! Let’s put something modern in here!’” JoAnn laughs. But she and Bill remained steadfast in their mission. “Because of the history of this house — we both love history — we didn’t do anything to change its structure,” JoAnn explains, as she stands in its front hall where curved stair banister and inviting sunny living room with chintz coverings intersect. To the right an unusual arched doorway framed by dental molding leads to a compact music room, dominated by a grand piano boasting photographs of the Owings’ grandchildren, and behind it, built-in shelves filled with china. Beyond that is an elegant dining room abutting one of the few changes, a fully updated kitchen. “But,” JoAnn continues The Art & Soul of Greensboro

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with a grin, “We had a lot of remodeling to do!” So much remodeling, in fact, that it would be two years before the Owings could move in. A good bit of the work involved replacing fallen molding and restoring the plaster ceilings damaged by water. “It’s a good thing we did it in the ’90s,” says JoAnn, “because today you can hardly find the [crafts]people anymore. Some pieces had to be copied.” They modified the fireplace slightly, swapping its simpler brick firebox for rich, dark green marble, but kept the plaster medallions just above it and the dental molding along the mantel. These are flourishes that Benjamin Briggs says are distinctive among High Point homes of that period. “You see things in High Point that you don’t see in other cities,” he notes. Populated with wood craftspeople, it’s how this area became a great treasure of detailing.” And how High Point’s residents developed a keen understanding of different varieties of woods. “There are more wood types,” he continues, offering black walnut and tiger oak as examples. He goes on to explain that High Point’s woodworkers were also skilled at creating illusion, using one kind of wood, such as poplar, to create the look of another. This trick bears out in the pine paneling of the Owings’ sunroom, which they use as a den. Because of its rosy hue, it appears to be made of cherry. “It

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was built on in 1948,” says Bill of the addition. They know the precise date because during the remodeling they removed some damaged wallpaper inscribed by the craftsman who hung it. The inscription, JoAnn remembers, “said something about World War II, and he had signed his name that he had done this wallpaper in 1948. He had the neatest handwriting!” She goes on to say that the room is the Owings’ favorite, and they use it “all the time,” for relaxing, watching TV and growing several plants, like the Meyer lemon tree, which produced enough fruit for lemonade last Thanksgiving. It’s easy to understand the appeal of the space. Large south-facing picture windows — their original Venetian blinds refurbished — look out onto the wooded portion of the vast lot below. This would have been the “garden room” alluded to in the High Point Enterprise article chronicling Lola Hudson’s luncheon. With seven heaters warming the room from a waterbased system, also original (though the Owings did add air conditioning to the house during the remodeling), the room “stays so nice in the winter,” JoAnn notes. Conversely, the ample shade from the veritable forest outside keeps the temperature down in the summer. “There’s incredible shade,” says JoAnn. “If people only knew: Don’t cut your trees down! It’s truly 10 degrees cooler. And the breeze comes through, and you’re protected from the bad winds, because the leaves take the wind.” And as Bill observes, “Even The Art & Soul of Greensboro

though you’re in the middle of town, in the summertime, when the trees come out, you really can’t see anybody’s houses.” Another curious feature of the sunroom: cork flooring. “That was Dad’s idea; his office at Heritage had cork floors,” says Penn Wood, explaining that their inspiration came from the Whalehead Club, a 1920s-era duckhunting lodge in Corolla, on North Carolina’s Outer Banks. “Between the dogs and the kids we’ve had, it doesn’t last,” JoAnn observes, showing some areas where the cork has pitted. “But I’m keeping it. The sound quality [of the room] is incredible.” One might think kids and dogs would be incompatible with a historic house, but JoAnn maintains just the opposite. “Didn’t they build them then for families? For a lot of people? Big halls, lots of staircases, lots of rooms, not bumping into each other,” she posits, as she climbs the stairs to the second-floor bedrooms, some adorned with the accouterments of their four childrens’ formative years: fishing rods, prints and mementos of Bald Head Island, the family’s longtime vacation spot. A decidedly feminine room — painted a pale shade of lime with floral accents — occupies one corner. Next to it is a nursery for when the Owings’ empty nest fills up with visiting grandchildren, and one level up is an attic converted to an apartment. “Our eldest son got to move to the third floor and that space. He probably had The Art & Soul of Greensboro

some good parties up there!” Bill jokes. The master on the second floor, directly above the cork-floored sunroom, is another rare change the Owings made: enclosing what used to be a sleeping porch. The room is simply appointed, save a delicate avian pattern on the drapes, as if the decorative birds have flown in from the surrounding trees outside. Its windows face west, overlooking the expanse of green lawn that abuts a side street. Glimpses of a plastic pink ribbon marking an electric fence around the periphery of the entire property, all four lots’ worth, suggest the presence of the latest member of the Owings’ family: a boisterous 6-monthold Australian Shepherd named Baxter. From the upper patio just outside the kitchen door, he can be seen bounding across the grass toward the fountain and the brick retaining wall currently being repointed by an Archdale mason. Closer to the house is a pond, one of the Owings’ few additions, with two graceful ibis sculptures. Baxter serpentines around Bill as the two make their way up the gravel driveway below. “He ate my furniture! It was wicker,” JoAnn laughs as she points to a sitting area facing south, overlooking the woodsy portion of the yard, dotted with daffodils in early spring; a tree house, where the Owings’ children and now grandchildren play, is set farther back. Around the corner is a dining table where the family takes April 2020

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meals in warm weather. It overlooks the fountain and pond below. JoAnn points to the moss growing on what was once Lola Hudson’s cement table. “There’s plenty of moss around this house. It’s beautiful, like an enchanted garden,” she muses. She says she and Bill have added little to the yard since they uncovered it all those years ago. “Gosh, we must have 70 or 80 English boxwoods,” he says, expressing concern about a blight that’s currently tearing through Virginia. Understandable, considering the blight could imperial an unusual feature, an arched hedge on the opposite, east side of the house that shields an open side porch. “It’s exciting to watch the family put the gardens back,” says Benjamin Briggs. “It’s much appreciated. So appreciated, that JoAnn was invited to join Lola Hudson’s old stomping ground, the Mid-Week Garden Club. But then, things have a way of coming full circle. On occasions when Penn Wood or his brother, Chuck, are hosting visiting relatives, “we take them through the house and yard,” says Bill. “They think somewhere in the backyard is a fish pond. I’ve never turned it up. That’s why we built our own little pond in there.” The Owings stopped stocking it with goldfish years ago, because, “the cats in the neighborhood ate those,” JoAnn explains. But no feline would dare enter the premises with Baxter patrolling it, charging around the boxwood hedge, down the brick walk to the fountain and across the lawn, pausing to roll on his back on the cool carpet of grass. Who knows? Maybe one day he’ll turn up a four-leaf clover. And if he does, no doubt the faint strains of a ragtime duet will echo up and down Parkway and through the towering shelter of trees. OH Nancy Oakley is the senior editor of O.Henry.

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By Ash Alder



pril doesn’t make a grand announcement. She’s subtle. Sort of hums to let you know she’s close. Flutters in the periphery. And when she lands — like the ruby-throated hummingbird at the garden feeder — the world sings out. April is a month of sweet transition. Purple martins replace purple finches. Yellow jessamine twists, climbs, dances across the landscape. Silver maple is flowering, and on the ground beneath it, you find the first of hundreds of brilliant green samaras (seed pods) that will spiral to the earth in the coming weeks. You pick up the fruit, spin it between your thumb and forefinger, hold it in your palm as if you are holding the wings of some tiny, mythical creature. A ragtag choir of a dozen songbirds blurts out their threats and primal longings, and just beyond the flowering maple, a skinny tabby all but grins while brushing past the garden path. The mornings are knit scarf- and corduroy-cool, but in the afternoon, your feet are bare, and you are sunning in a patch of tender young grass. April is the last frost, dahlias in the garden, spring rain and fresh asparagus. And as the first seeds of summer crops are sown (green beans, melons, cukes and squashes) you realize this: April is your answered prayer. Here and now. Late winter’s wish, come true.

In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt. — Margaret Atwood, Unearthing Suite, 1983

Rain and Glory

Cows lie down this month same as any. But if you’re curious to know when the April showers are coming, observe a pine cone (they close when rain is on its way). Of course, you don’t have to wait until May for the flower show. This month, fragrant jessamine and blooming azalea would be enough to satisfy any flower-loving gardener. But look and see hummingbird candy everywhere: coral honeysuckle, iris, buckeye, wild columbine. Now is time to plant dahlias, petunias, angelonia, heliotrope, lantanas and begonias. And in late April, color your midsummer garden electric with glory lily tubers. This tropical vine grows fast, climbing upward of 7 feet with its curling, grasping tendrils. Its flaming red and brilliant yellow flowers make it an absolute showstopper, and with its long, bright green stamen dangling beneath its down-facing petals, this deer-resistant “Flame of the Woods” resembles, to this nature-lover, some kind of exotic jellyfish. Oh, lovely April: Bring on the rain, bring on the glory.

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

April is a promise that May is bound to keep. — Hal Borland

Hug a Tree

April is a month of celebration. Easter Sunday, of course, on April 12. Earth Day on Wednesday, April 22. And on Friday, April 24, Arbor Day. According to the Arbor Day Foundation, “One large tree can provide a day’s supply of oxygen for up to four people.” Let that land for just a moment. Breathe it in, if you will. And if you’re interested in learning about the foundation’s bold “Time for Trees” initiative and how you can get involved, visit www.arborday.org.

April Sky Watch

According to Space.com, two of the 10 “Must-See Skywatching Events to look for in 2020” occur this month. First: the “Glory Nights” of Venus. April 2 and 3, Venus will appear high in the sky and as close to the Pleiades star cluster as it can get, lighting up the blue-white stars in such a way you’re sure to go all dreamy. Venus hasn’t been this close to the Pleiades since April 2012, and it won’t again for another eight years. Catch it if you can. Next, on April 7, get ready for the supermoon — the biggest full moon of the year and, because of its closeness to Earth, “a dramatically large range of high and low ocean tides.”

Warm Your Bones

Spring is here, yes. But if you can’t seem to shake the final chill of winter, here’s one for you: golden milk. Warm and delicious and, according to Ayurvedic medicine, a powerful healing tonic for inflammation and digestive issues, this holistic, dairy-free beverage gets its golden color from its star ingredient: turmeric. There are dozens of recipes available online. Most call for coconut or almond milk. Here’s one borrowed from WellnessMama.com that serves four. Golden milk in five glorious minutes. But if you’re worried about the possibility of staining your blender and/or countertops, this may be risky business. Ingredients 2 cups milk of choice, such as almond pecan, coconut or dairy 1 teaspoon turmeric 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon Pinch of ground pepper Tiny piece of fresh peeled ginger root or 1/4 teaspoon ginger powder Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional) 1 teaspoon raw honey or maple syrup or to taste (optional) Instructions Blend all ingredients, except cayenne pepper and honey, in a high-speed blender until smooth.
 Pour mixture into small saucepan and heat for 3-5 minutes over medium heat until hot, but not boiling. Add cayenne pepper and honey, if desired; stir to combine. Drink immediately.
 April 2020

O.Henry 85


As our communities deal with the challenges presented by the novel coronavirus please be aware that events may have been postponed and/or rescheduled after this issue went to print. Many events remain listed in the April calendar because it’s unclear how long restrictions on social gathering will remain in place. Please check before attending.

Brightest Bulbs




April 1

BRIGHTEST BULBS. 8 a.m. More than 20,000 of ’em to be exact. See them in full flower at the Spectacular Spring Tulip Bloom. Paul J. Ciener Botanical Garden, 215 S. Main St., Kernersville. Info: (336) 996-7888 or cienerbotanicalgarden.org. BOOK TALK. 7 p.m. The initiative, “Reading the World,” continues with Yoko Ogawa’s The Memory Police. Scuppernong Books, 304 S. Elm St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 763-1919 or scuppernongbooks.com.

April 1–June 7

NETSCAPE. Got game? If not, see To the Hoop: Basketball and Contemporary Art. Weatherspoon Art Museum, 500 Tate St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 3345770 or weatherspoonart.org.

86 O.Henry

Salt Life

April 2020

Gold For Leaf



April 1–July 12

April 4

April 2

April 5

CONE ZONE. The generosity of one of Greensboro’s first families is on full display at The Cone Family Legacy. Weatherspoon Art Museum, 500 Tate St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 334-5770 or weatherspoonart.org. AUTHOR, AUTHOR. 6:30 p.m. Meet Dana Czapnik, author of the novel, The Falconer. Weatherspoon Art Museum, 500 Tate St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 763-1919 or scuppernongbooks.com.

April 3

AUTHOR, AUTHOR. 7 p.m. Meet poet Rose McLarney, author of Forage. Scuppernong Books, 304 S. Elm St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 763-1919 or scuppernongbooks.com.


MULTI CULTI. Noon. Tour the world at UNCG’s 38th annual International Festival, featuring music, dance, food, booths, among other activities. Kaplan Commons (Elliott University Center Lawn). Info: ipcproco@uncg.edu. AUTHOR, AUTHOR. 2 p.m. Meet K.R. Gaddy, author of the young adult novel, Flowers in the Gutter: The True Story of the Edelweiss Pirates, Teenagers Who Resisted the Nazis. Scuppernong Books, 304 S. Elm St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 7631919 or scuppernongbooks.com.

April 6

LONG LIVE PRINT! 6:30 p.m. Vince Wheeler, retired opinion page editor and assistant editor of the High Point Enterprise leads a discussion, “A The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Arts Calendar


Community Enterprise: A Look at the History of High Point’s Longest Surviving Newspaper.” Morgan Room, High Point Public Library, 501 N. Main St., High Point. Info: (336) 885-1859 or highpointmuseum.org.

April 7

AUTHORS, AUTHORS. 7 p.m. Meet authors Ginger Gaffney (Half Broke) and Nickole Brown (Donkey Elegies). Scuppernong Books, 304 S. Elm St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 763-1919 or scuppernongbooks.com. FABULOUS FIFTIES. 11:45 a.m. Music director of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra Chris Crenshaw curates a program of the diverse styles of jazz that evolved during the 1950s. High Point Museum, 1859 E. Lexington Ave., High Point. Info: (336) 885-1859 or highpointmuseum.org.

April 9 AUTHOR, AUTHOR. 7 p.m. Meet poet Michael Gaspeny, for the launch of his book, The Tyranny of Questions. Scuppernong Books, 304 S. Elm St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 763-1919 or scuppernongbooks.com.

April 10

TAKE IT TO THE LIMIT. 7:30 p.m. And listen to the hits of the 1970s at On the Border — the Ultimate Eagles Tribute. Carolina Theatre, 310 S. Greene St., Greensboro. Ticket: (336) 333-2605 or carolinatheatre.com.

April 11 CREPED CRUSADER. 8 a.m. That would be Chef Reto, preparing thin pancakes stuffed with tasty fillings at Crepe Celebration. Greensboro Farmers Curb Market, 501 Yanceyville St., Greensboro. Info: gsofarmersmarket.org. SHELL GAME. 1 p.m. The floppy-eared critter with a basket has been hoppin’ down the bunny trail, scattering goods for Rejoice Expo! Hunt for cash and candy eggs and shop from local vendors. Holly Hill Mall & Business Center, 309 Huffman Mill Road, Burlington. Info: partiezbyleslie@gmail.com. BOOK TALK. 2 p.m. Gather ’round for the WFDD Book Club discussion of The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead. Scuppernong Books, 304 S. Elm St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 7631919 or scuppernongbooks.com. DO RAY MI. 8 p.m. SunQueen Kelcey, with Sonny Miles, lights up The Crown with her

unique blend of hip-hop, soul, rock and contemporary R&B. Carolina Theatre, 310 S. Greene St., Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 333-2605 or carolinatheatre.com.

April 12– May 15

TWO P’S IN A POD. Meaning, Pride and Prejudice, adapted for theater at Triad Stage. Performance times vary. Pyrle Theatre, 334 S. Elm St., Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 272-0160 or triadstage.org.

April 14

DO, A DEER. 7 p.m. You guessed correctly: The Sound of Music Sing-Along is back! Carolina Theatre, 310 S. Greene St., Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 333-2605 or carolinatheatre.com. ROAD SHOW. 7:30 p.m. Sit back and let Rain — a Tribute to the Beatles shower you with The Best of Abbey Road Live! Tanger Center, 300 N. Elm St., Greensboro. Tickets; (800) 745-3000 or ticketmaster.com.

April 15

DOWN HOME. 7:30 p.m. Southern rhythms and harmonies bring down the house as Home Free brings its Dive Bar Saints World Tour to town. Tanger Center, 300 N. Elm St., Greensboro. Tickets: (800) 745-3000 or ticketmaster.com.

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The Art & Soul of Greensboro

April 2020

O.Henry 87

Arts Calendar


April 16

SAME THYME, NEW PLACE. 7 a.m. The NC Unit of the Herb Society of America hosts its annual Herb Plant Sale in a bigger location. Greensboro Farmers Curb Market, (for this occasion, the Herb Market), 501 Yanceyville St., Greensboro. Info: ncherbsociety.org. WELL-VERSED. 7 p.m. Poets of all skill levels are invited to attend a poetry workshop. Benjamin Branch Library, 1530 Benjamin Parkway, Greensboro. To register: (336) 373-7540 or kelsey. nation@greensboro-nc.gov. AUTHOR, AUTHOR. 7 p.m. Meet Meredith McDaniel, author of In Want + Plenty: Waking Up to God’s Provision in a Land of Longing. Scuppernong Books, 304 S. Elm St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 7631919 or scuppernongbooks.com.

April 17

SALT LIFE. 6:30 p.m. Shake things up at Craft Cocktail Class, “Creative Maragaritas.” 19 & Timber Bar, Grandover Resort, 1000 Club Drive, Greensboro. Tickets: ticketmetriad.com. RAMBLIN’ MEN. 7:30 p.m. Poppa T. Lineberry, John Pugh and Craig Young of WristBand, an Allman Brothers cover band, with Hudson Red,

take the stage for Crown Mounain II Jam. The Crown, Carolina Theatre, 310 S. Greene St., Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 333-2605 or carolinatheatre.com. SHARPS & FLATS. 7:30 p.m. As the duo ZOFO pianists Eva-Maria Zimmerman and Keisuke Nakagoshi tickle and tackle the ivories. Well-Spring Theatre, 4100 Well Spring Drive, Greensboro. Tickets: ticketmetriad.com. VOULEZ-VOUS . . . 7:30 p.m. . . . you know the rest. Get a new attitude from the R&B tunes of soul diva Patti LaBelle. Tanger Center, 300 N. Elm St, Greensboro. Tickets: (800) 745-3000 or ticketmaster.com.

April 17–19

BIBLICAL. Spring Theatre presents a retelling of two Old Testament tales in Children of Eden. Performance times vary. Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art, 750 Marguerite Drive, Winston-Salem. Tickets: secca.org

April 18

GOLD FOR LEAF. 8 a.m. Which is not to say you’ll find much goldleaf at the Spring Plant Sale. Paul J. Ciener Botanical Garden, 215 S. Main St., Kernersville. Info: (336) 996-7888 or cienerbotanicalgarden.org.

SCRIBBLERS’ SWARM. 8:30 a.m. Take your pick of workshops, publisher exhibits, readings and more at N.C. Writers’ Network Spring Conference. MHRA Building, UNCG, 1111 Spring Garden St., Greensboro. To register: ncwriters.org. DIG IT! 9 a.m. Get ready to grow with a Demonstration Garden Open House. N.C. Cooperative Extension, Guilford County Center, 3309 Burlington Road, Greensboro. Info: (336) 641-2400 or guilfordextension.com. LITTER-ATI. 9 a.m. Join the community in picking up trash on streets, in neighborhoods and waterways for Greensboro Beautiful’s Great American Cleanup. Info: greensborobeautiful.org. REGULATOR REUNION. 9 a.m. Learn about Hermon Husband, radical pamphlateer of the Regulators, who were crushed in a battle against the Crown years before the American Revolution. Descendents of the insurgent group, scholars and historians lead talks, discussions and interpretations about this turbulent period of history. Alamance Battleground State Historic Site, 5803 N.C. Hwy. 62, Burlington. Info: (336) 277-4785 or historicsites.nc.gov. BACHATA BEATS. 8 p.m. Groove to the Latin rhythms of Aventura. Greensboro Coliseum, 1921 W. Gate City Blvd., Greensboro. Tickets: (800) 7453000 or ticketmaster.com.

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April 2020

O.Henry 89

Arts Calendar


BRAZILIAN BEATS. 8 p.m. Caique Vidal and Batuque perform some Brazilian grooves, while Oxente delivers Afro-Brazilian drum riffs and Andressa Donahoe dances the Samba. The Crown, Carolina Theatre, 310 S. Greene St., Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 333-2605 or carolinatheatre.com.

April 18–May 24

April 21

GET DOWN . . . 8:30 p.m. With Shinedown. The rockers bring their “Deep Dive” tour to town. Piedmont Hall, 2411 W. Gate City Blvd., Greensboro. Tickets: (800) 745-3000 or ticketmaster.com.

CLASS ACT. That would be the work of graduate students on view at 2020 UNCG M.F.A. Thesis Exhibition. Weatherspoon Art Museum, 500 Tate St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 334-5770 or weatherspoonart.org.

April 19

tour, featuring their brand of country Christian music. Greensboro Coliseum, 1921 W. Gate City Blvd., Greensboro. Tickets: (800) 745-3000 or ticketmaster.com.

April 22

REID ALL ABOUT IT! 1 p.m. Meaning Raymond Reid, artist, newspaper columnist and author, whose one-man show, Visitors from Heaven, draws from his paintings and drawings of our state bird, the cardinal. Paul J. Ciener Botanical Garden, 215 S. Main St., Kernersville. Info: (336) 996-7888 or cienerbotanicalgarden.org. AUTHOR, AUTHOR. 4 p.m. Meet Maureen Parker, author of Word Songs. Scuppernong Books, 304 S. Elm St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 763-1919 or scuppernongbooks.com. G’DAY, FIRST MATES! 6 p.m. Aussie duo-turnedNashville transplants for King & Country set sail on their “burn the ships” North America Encore

GREEN SCENE. 9 a.m. North Carolina heritage, native and regional plants steal the spotlight at Go Green Garden Show. Greensboro Farmers Curb Market, 501 Yanceyville St., Greensboro. Info: gsofarmersmarket.org.

April 23

AUTHORS, AUTHORS. 10 a.m. Meet authors Max Carter, Larry Kelter, Steven Lindahl and Ellenor Shepherd, guest speakers at the Greensboro Newcomers Club April General Meeting. Starmount Country Club, 1 Sam Snead Drive, Greensboro. RSVP before April 15. Tickets: barbesc@gmail.com.

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90 O.Henry

April 2020

CALL OF THE WILD. Noon. Damon Waitt, director of the North Carolina Botanical Garden, discusses his guide, Wildflowers of the Atlantic Southeast, and how to use it in identifying the plants of the area. Paul J. Ciener Botanical Garden, 215 S. Main St., Kernersville. To register: (336) 9967888 or cienerbotanicalgarden.org.

April 23–25

TONS OF TOMES. Restock your library and help local charities, such as Greensboro Urban Ministry by shopping at the 62nd St. Francis Annual Book Sale. St. Francis Episcopal Church, 3506 Lawndale Drive, Greensboro. Info: stfrancisgreensboro.org.

April 23–26

HA HA HALLELUJA! Meaning, The Hallelujah Girls, a comedy centering around a group of friends who meet once a week at an abandoned-churchturned-day spa. Performance times vary. Stephen D. Hyers Theatre, Greensboro Cultural Center, 200 N. Davie St., Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 335-6426 or thedramacenter.com.

April 24

OPUS CONCERT. 7:30 p.m. Greensboro Tarheel Chorus lift their voices in song. Christ United Methodist Church, 310 N. Holden Road, Greensboro. Info: greensboro-nc.gov.

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April 2020

O.Henry 91

Arts Calendar April 24 & 25

DOWN THE GARDEN PATH. 9 a.m. Discover 13 hidden gems at “Uncovering Beauty: A Tour of Secret Gardens,” presented by The Garden Club Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County, starting with a celebration luncheon on 4/24 with Margot Shaw, editor of Flower magazine. Tickets: gardenclubcouncil.org.

April 25

EAT YOUR GREENS! 9 a.m. . . . By purchasing something leafy at the incredible Plant Sale. Edible Schoolyard, Greensboro Children’s Museum, 220 N. Church St., Greensboro. Info: gcmuseum.com. PLANTSMAN’S PARADISE. 9 a.m. Flowers, vegetables, herbs and hanging baskets fill the All Saints Annual Plant Sale. While you’re there, inquire about planting your own raised bed in the church’s Garden of Eatin’. All Saints Episcopal Church, 4211 Wayne Road, Greensboro. Info: (336) 312-4738. EARTHWORKS. 10 a.m. Celebrate the planet at Piedmont Environmental Alliance’s 15th Annual Piedmont Earth Day Fair, the largest in central N.C. Winston-Salem Fairgrounds, Shorefair Drive, Winston-Salem. Info: peanc.org.


JAZZ KITTENS. 10 a.m. Tykes ages 0–12 learn to make their own saxophones and trumpets to celebrate Jazz Appreciation Month. Little Red Schoolhouse, High Point Museum, 1859 E. Lexington Ave., High Point. Info: (336) 885-1859 or highpointmuseum.org. AUTHORS, AUTHORS. 3 p.m. Press 53 authors Shuly Cawood (A Small Thing to Want) and Cliff Garstang (The Shaman of Turtle Valley) read from their works. Scuppernong Books, 304 S. Elm St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 763-1919 or scuppernongbooks.com. SHE’S NO DUMMY. 7 p.m. Child ventriloquist/ singer of America’s Got Talent fame, Darci Lynne Farmer, lights up the stage. Tanger Center, 300 N. Elm St., Greensboro. Tickets: (800) 745-3000 or ticketmaster.com.

April 26

OPUS CONCERT. 3 p.m. Greensboro Youth Jazz Ensemble delivers some swingin’ riffs. Trinity Church, 5200 W. Friendly Ave., Greensboro. Info: greensboro-nc.gov.

April 28

AUTHOR, AUTHOR. 7 p.m. Greensboro Playwrights Forum presents a staged reading of

Louis Panzer’s J.T. Pencil Company, Scuppernong Books, 304 S. Elm St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 7631919 or scuppernongbooks.com. NO FOOLIN’. 8 p.m. Rapper NF brings the cool grooves of his Search Tour to town. Special Events Center, Greensboro Coliseum Complex, 1921 W. Gate City Blvd., Greensboro. Tickets: nfrealmusic.com. WAR OF THE ROSE. Deception, tears, catfights . . . no, it’s not another Democratic debate but The Bachelor Live on Stage. Tanger Center, 300 N. Elm St., Greensboro. Tickets: (800) 745-3000 or ticketmaster.com.

April 29

DUKES OF UKES. 7 p.m. Strum along with the Triad Ukulele Club. Scuppernong Books, 304 S. Elm St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 763-1919 or scuppernongbooks.com.

April 30

WYN-WYN SITUATION. 8 p.m. Former member of country duo The Judds, takes the lead as Wynonna & the Big Noise for the ninth Annual Command Performance Benefit Gala. Carolina Theatre, 310 S. Greene St., Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 333-2605 or carolinatheatre.com.

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O.Henry 93

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Arts Calendar


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

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

by O.Henry’s own Ogi Overman and featuring live performances of roots and Americana music. Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen, 1421 W. Westover Terrace, Greensboro. Info: (336) 370-0707 or lucky32.com/fried_chicken.htm.


TO MARKET, TO MARKET. 8 a.m. to noon. The produce is fresh and the cut fleurs belles. Pick up some of each at Mid Week Market (starting 4/22). Greensboro Farmers Curb Market, 501 Yanceyville St., Greensboro. Info: gsofarmersmarket.org. 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. 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.


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.

April 2020

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Arts Calendar Saturdays

TO MARKET, TO MARKET. 7 a.m. until noon. The produce is still fresh and the cut fleurs still belles. Greensboro Farmers Curb Market, 501 Yanceyville 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, while noshing on seasonal tapas at O.Henry Jazz series for Select Saturdays. O.Henry Hotel, 624 Green Valley Road, Greensboro. Info: (336) 8542000 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.

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April 2020


Greene St., Greensboro. Info: (336) 274-2699 or idiotboxers.com (see page 70).

Saturdays & Sundays

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


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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April 2020

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

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O.Henry 101



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April 2020

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April 2020

O.Henry 103

Charletha, Amber & Chris Fuller

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GreenScene Red Carpet Gala to benefit GTP Foundation Saturday, February 8, 2020

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Jane Owens, David Budler

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April 2020

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GreenScene Hopefest 2020 Multicultural Dance Festival benefiting Greensboro Urban Ministry & A Simple Gesture Sunday, February 23, 2020

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O.Henry 105

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106 O.Henry

April 2020

The Art & Soul of Greensboro


Anne Parsons, Laura Oneal, Sam Cone

Greensboro Contemporary Museum Opening Sunday, February 23, 2020

Photographs by Lynn Donovan Aviva L. Brown Rose Martus, Sydney Scherer

Jill & John Masters

Walker Sanders & Andy Zimmeman

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Anne, Sydney, Etta & Bastian Parsons

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April 2020

O.Henry 107

GreenScene Waggin’ Wild 5K Run/Walk For the Love of Paws Saturday, March 7, 2020

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April 2020

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110 O.Henry

April 2020

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

The Accidental Astrologer

Straight Talk

Finding fault in the stars is for April Fools By Astrid Stellanova

Excuse me, Star Children, but not everyone has

been behaving. Allow me to draw you a map of your thoughts, which are more confusing than Rand McNally ought to allow: bat@#!t — as in going off road and heading straight for the state of chaos. Yes, you have crossed that line. Yes, you have used March madness for more than 30 days as your excuse. Nobody’s buying it. Besides, it’s April. Don’t be a fool. Get. A. Grip.

Aries (March 21–April 19) You have been sprinkling a little sarcasm on evah-thang. Sugar, it seems to be the main spice in your life. Since you’ve ignored my advice, maybe I can interest you in some freshly ground sarcasm: Just for kicks, play it straight. There’s a lot of serious drama to resolve, and you have got to get down to business. Taurus (April 20–May 20) There’s a Fred Mertz for every Ricky Ricardo, and a Thelma for every Louise. Seems you have figured out the friendship shtick that keeps some (including you) laughing, but you will have to find your true center. Gemini (May 21–June 20) Always hug your enemies, so you know how big to dig the hole in the backyard! In this case, you have got a conflict that doesn’t have to end in tragedy. But you knew that, and you just postponed the inevitable. Shovel not required. Cancer (June 21–July 22) Too glam to give a sweet patootie. You are that, and also secretly up against the realization that you do give a patootie. Your cool and contained image is very different from what you are feeling. Sync it up. Leo (July 23–August 22) They love you like biscuits love gravy. You love them back. But you feel taken for granted. Air this, get it out, get it over, and enjoy time with your inner circle. Make somebody else wash the dishes, Darlin.’ Virgo (August 23–September 22) Criminal intent. That is what you have been nurturing since you found out that someone close to you hasn’t owned up to something. Don’t let this keep simmering. Vent, discuss, resolve.

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Libra (September 23-October 22) Everything may happen for a reason, but WTF? Did you actually intend for others to view you as a total jackass? No, you thought that nobody but you knew what had gone down. They know. And they are waiting for apologies. Scorpio (October 23–November 21 The dramatic lie you tell yourself goes like this: Goodbye, Cruel World! But you aren’t going anywhere. And nothing is really so bad that you cannot sort it out. When you stop kvetching, Sweat Pea, you’ll see. Sagittarius (November 22–December 21) Run like your children are looking for you. A conniving acquaintance thinks they have got you in their control. If you cannot face them, then save yourself, Darlin’, because they always talk you into mistakes. Capricorn (December 22–January 19) Alexa, open the bottle of pinot. Alexa, take out the trash. When Alexa truly starts being useful, you can relax your control on the control panel. But until then, practice makes perfect. Maybe practice waiting this one out, Sweet Thing. Aquarius (January 20–February 18) Acting like a bunch of skeeters on crystal meth? Or minnows about to meet Jaws’ open mouth? But you didn’t see it, Honey Bun, and nobody did. Calm down, and consider that sometimes the biggest virtue is to wait. Pisces (February 19–March 20) Mama needs her juice, Honey. I take one look at your star chart and realize you just wanted to slurp down a little happiness and get some rest. Worship at the temple of the plump pillow, and let life settle. 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. April 2020

O.Henry 111

O.Henry Ending

The Borrowers

By Cynthia Adams

In the children’s fantasy

novel The Borrowers, charming tiny people named Arriety, Pod and Homily Clock, inhabit the hidden spaces within a rambling Victorian. In reading it, I grew addicted to old houses and the luscious worlds they contained.

Pop loved them too. We would ride through Concord’s historic district, populated by the Cannon textiles family and other prosperous folk. There were Greek Revivals, Italianates or Gothic Revivals mixed with an occasional bungalow — to cleanse the palate after all those riches. “Look at that amazing slate roof,” he sighed as we once slid along Concord’s North Union Street, slowing to admire Pop’s favorite, a Second Empire beauty clad in yellow. “Bee-yootiful. Never have to replace those,” he pointed out, his green eyes shining. He was especially enthralled when the slate roofs were glittering black in rain. “Oh, my Lord,” he would moan with pleasure, nearly wrecking the car. Again. Once Pop was house-looking and lost control of an old pickup as I stood beside him on the seat with my arm hooked around his neck, sucking on my little pinky. Seatbelts were not yet a thing, certainly not in farm trucks. The driver’s door suddenly popped open and he fell out. In an instinct learned from breaking horses, Pop held onto the steering wheel, managing somehow not to get himself killed, as my very pregnant mother was jostled up and down in the seat, banging her head. I pulled my pinky out of my mouth, round-eyed, watching my Daddy do something incredible! We crashed into a streetlight. The dusty old Dodge truck added another ding to the hood — the hood that saved us “from ruin,” as my mother screamed.

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The medics ignored my heavily pregnant mother to race to me, laying me carefully on the lushly manicured lawn of the house my dad had lusted after. “She’s fine,” my mother mumbled, explaining my oddly stained lips as they checked my vitals only to discover that Welch’s grape juice had left my little lips rimmed in blue. It was a ranch, we discussed years later. Too new. Not worth all that trouble. Pop and I shared a fetish for old houses, old furnishings, estate jewelry, glassware, china . . . anything old. Even old people. Especially old people. As Pop negotiated with my mother to have a fifth child, he agreed to buy a newish ranch in what was colloquially known as Hell’s Half Acre. Hell’s Half Acre had very little formal architecture to recommend it. Our mother wanted the ranch enough to keep the bargain. The Fletcher house had Mod cons: a sunken living room, massive marble fireplace, and lots of tiled floors, including porches and patio. It wasn’t our thing, but it was definitely Mother’s. Meanwhile, they acquired Pop’s homeplace, a twostory ruin with double porches and gingerbread trim. As Pop poured himself into this house it burned to the ground. The uninsured loss was devastating and yet another nail in the coffin encasing my parent’s dying marriage. The arsonists were never caught. Today, my husband and I live in a house that is approaching 100 years. It is not so elegant as Second Empire, nor entrancing as Italianate. It is a solid house, with a recently replaced slate roof. Like relationships, seems it wasn’t impervious to the ravages of time. Our parents never resolved their architectural (and other) differences. Later, the Fletcher house burned, too. Turns out, we, too, are only borrowers. And those houses smolder on, haunting dreams. Ruined, much longed for, things. OH Cynthia Adams is a contributing editor to O. Henry. The Art & Soul of Greensboro


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