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Exceptional time. As the nation takes a collective pause to deal with the pervasive impact of COVID-19, all of us at Arbor Acres are inspired by all of you doing your part. For most, that means refiguring daily routines and trying to stay put. For some, like our heroic caregivers helping protect the health and safety of our residents and staff, it means being on the frontline of this epidemic with compassion and focus.

A

T ARBOR ACRES, our residents bring with them

the experience and wisdom of hundreds of amazing lifetimes. So as they adjust to new protocols required during this exceptional time, they remind us of the power of believing in better days ahead. Meanwhile, birds are singing, flowers are blooming, and spring is as beautiful as ever.

Please be safe.

1240 Arbor Road, Winston-Salem, NC 27104 | 866 - 658 -2724 | 336 -724-7921 | www.arboracres.org


INVESTING IN GREENSBORO

In August 2018, NC Governor Roy Cooper announced Publix will open a distribution center that could bring as many as 1,000 new jobs to East Greensboro. Then in February 2020, Publix, an employee-owned grocery store chain based in Florida, broke ground. The company is expected to invest up to $400 million in the region and develop 350 acres in East Greensboro. #InvestEast


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

“Welcome Home!”

By truly partnering with our clients for over 20 years, we’ve set a high standard for quality in everything we do. You can expect consistent, continuous, honest communications, and together, we’ll create a stunning and exceptionally sound home. With Building Dimensions, you’re always part of the team.

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Luxury Homes

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For more information about these homes, or for help selling your home, call Kathy at 336-339-2000

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4 O.Henry

May 2020

1908 Lendew Street Greensboro, NC 27408 336.273.2835

OUR PROVIDERS Richard J. Taavon, MD, FACOG Sheronette A. Cousins, MD, FACOG Kelly A. Fogleman, MD, FACOG Vaishali R. Mody, MD, FACOG Susan Almquist, MD, FACOG

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The Art & Soul of Greensboro


Come spend a day

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Centrally located, Greensboro is the perfect place to relax and immerse yourself in history and nature. Explore our 90 miles of trails and three City lakes, walk the Downtown Greenway and visit our downtown parks – while practicing social distancing. When normal activities resume, choose from more than 500 restaurants, cheer on the Greensboro Grasshoppers, plan a trip to the Greensboro Science Center, visit the Greensboro History Museum and learn about our rich history.

We can’t wait to share Greensboro with you! W W W. G R E E N S B O R O - N C . G O V


THANK YOU GREENSBORO! By the time you read this ad, we’re not exactly sure what we’ll be offering so we wanted to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has ordered take out and doorstep delivery over the past few weeks. We look forward to raising our glasses together when this craziness is over.

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4/8/20 11:03 AM

The Art & Soul of Greensboro


April 2020 DEPARTMENTS 13 Simple Life

28 Food for Thought

16 Short Stories 19 Doodad By Nancy Oakley

31 Spirits

By Jim Dodson

21 Life’s Funny

By Maria Johnson

22 Omnivorous Reader By Stephen E. Smith

24 Scuppernong Bookshelf 27 Papadaddy's Mindfield By Clyde Edgerton

By Jane Lear

By Tony Cross

33 Birdwatch

By Susan Campbell

35 Wandering Billy By Billy Eye

74 GreenScene 79 The Accidental Astrologer By Astrid Stellanova

80 O.Henry Ending By Cynthia Adams

FEATURES 39 Nineteen Fourty Four [dancing the foxtrot] Poetry by Raymond Whitaker

40 Woman of the Wild

By Jim Dodson The retreat — and reach — ­ of biologist Ann Berry Somers

48 Rednap's Revenge

By David Claude Bailey For next year’s 250th anniversary of the Battle of Alamance, the Regulators get their due as early sons of liberty

54 Reviving a Soulful Sound

By Stephen E. Smith A scruffy old guitar finds its voice again

58 Tealing the Show

By Maria Johnson A wave of bold color transforms a Burlington kitchen

65 Almanac

By Ash Alder

Cover photograph by Bert VanderVeen

8 O.Henry

May 2020

The Art & Soul of Greensboro 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


M A G A Z I N E

Volume 10, No. 5 “I have a fancy that every city has a voice.”

What matters to you, matters to us

336.617.0090 1848 Banking Street, Greensboro, NC 27408 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 (Left to right): Karen Button Fiduciary Advisory Specialist, Parrish Peddrick Senior Wealth Planning Strategist, Fritz Kreimer Senior Investment Strategist, LuAnn Dove-Ramsey Private Banker, Pam Beck Private Banker, Ryan Newkirk Wealth Advisor

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

ADVERTISING SALES

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

O.H

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

Wealth Planning   Investments   Private Banking   Trust Services   Insurance n

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Wells Fargo Private Bank provides products and services through Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., the banking affiliate of Wells Fargo & Company, and its various affiliates and subsidiaries. Brokerage products and services are offered through Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC, member SIPC, a registered broker-dealer and separate non-bank affiliate of Wells Fargo & Company. Trust services available through banking and trust affiliates in addition to non-affiliated companies of Wells Fargo & Company. Insurance products are available through insurance subsidiaries of Wells Fargo & Company and are underwritten by non-affiliated Insurance Companies. Not available in all states.

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

© 2018 Wells Fargo Bank N.A. Member FDIC. IHA-B07178 NMLSR ID 399801

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May 2020

The Art & Soul of Greensboro


The Art & Soul of Greensboro

May 2020

O.Henry 11


A Vision of U Photography

Maggie Mills Photography

Annie Timmons Photography

Managed by

WEDDINGS - CORPORATE EVENTS - SOCIAL GATHERINGS

Always here for you In some ways, we’re going about business very differently these days. But keep in mind much remains the same. I’m still here to help you navigate the challenges, make smart decisions and ensure that now more than ever you have a caring partner by your side.

Your home means everything to me.

MELISSA GREER, Realtor / Broker, GRI, CRS Chairman’s Circle Diamond Award 2014, 2017, 2018, 2019 Chairman’s Circle Platinum Award 2013 , 2015, 2016 Chairman’s Circle Gold Award 2010, 2011, 2012

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12 O.Henry

May 2020

336 . 337 . 5 2 33 ME L I S S A @ ME LI S S A G RE E R.C OM

4/3/20 12:49 PM

The Art & Soul of Greensboro


Simple Life

Simple Small Places

And how they produce some of life’s greatest moments

By Jim Dodson

Marcus Tullius Cicero,

the famous Roman philosopher and statesman, once observed that all he needed to live was a good library and his garden. I’m beginning to know what he was talking about.

In a world where life as we knew it outside home has largely come to a standstill, familiar people and places that provide a measure of comfort and sense of normality are more important than ever. In my own narrowed sphere, I am fortunate to have a home library and garden where I can find useful diversion, fresh perspective and life more or less unchanged. As any reader knows, a good library can transport you anywhere in the world you’d care to go without leaving your comfortable armchair. And a garden keeps on growing regardless of the day’s news. Before it became a library, the small room that leads to the large screened porch out back was where our house’s previous owner, Mama Meryl Corry, spent most of her days during the final years of her life. Her late husband, Al, was a larger-than-life character and a gifted contractor who built a number of the first houses in our postwar neighborhood, including, in 1951, his own dream house for Meryl and their four children. It’s a cozy brick-and-wood bungalow that looks more like the private retreat of a Hollywood starlet than a Carolina housewife and mother. In fact, Mama Meryl was both — at least in the opinion of a kid who grew up two doors from the Corrys but was always in and out of their house with their two youngest sons, Craig and Britt. At a time when preteen boys begin to notice such things, Craig Corry and I maintained that we had the best-lookThe Art & Soul of Greensboro

ing moms in the neighborhood. Meryl was a statuesque beauty with flowing auburn hair who looked a lot like filmdom’s leading lady Maureen O’Hara. My mom was diminutive and blond, a former beauty queen from Maryland who could have been Doris Day’s kid sister. Not surprisingly they were best friends, their alliance forged by the noisy abundance of boys underfoot. Several years ago, as if by the sweet hand of Providence, Mama Meryl passed on and the Corrys reluctantly placed their family home on the market, just as my wife Wendy and I happened along in search of our own perfect house in which to grow old. We purchased the place within a week. The Corrys were delighted. To this day, you could never convince me that Mama Meryl and Big Al, wherever they relocated, didn’t have some say in the matter. During the first two years we were updating and renovating rooms, the one space that proved to be a puzzlement was the small room with a fireplace that connected the dining room to the large screened porch in back — the same room where Mama Meryl spent most of her time after Al was gone. From oldest son, Chris, I learned that the space was originally an outdoor patio with a fireplace — another California touch. Al enclosed it for a cozy reading room featuring an entry door at the rear of the carport, allowing easier access and a good view of the arriving postman. Sometime during our second spring in the house, as I turned my attention to tearing apart and rebuilding Mama Meryl’s overgrown gardens, it suddenly hit me that the room was ideal for a home library like the one I had for two decades in Maine. Earlier this year, we completed work on the library, providing space for 500 or so books in custom-built maple bookcases, with new gallery lighting, original artwork, vintage rugs, a handsome antique walnut writing table and five comfortable chairs suitable for any and all sort of visitors, including spirits. In ancient times and in every culture, libraries and gardens were considered sacred places that nurtured the human spirit. The Great Library of Alexandria May 2020

O.Henry 13


Simple Life REAL ESTATE IS LOCAL. SO IS KENDRA.

“Greensboro is the epitome of the best of both worlds. It can offer you country or city living. The beach or the mountains, equal in distance. Greensboro is right in the middle of it all. Make the right move and join me in Greensboro!” When it comes to selling your home, no one in the Greensboro area does it better than Kendra and the team at TR&M. Local experts, global reach. Call 336.274.1717 or visit trmhomes.com today.

14 O.Henry

May 2020

in Egypt was considered the spiritual wonder of the world, housing the writings of Aristotle, Plato and Socrates, and many others — until, after years of decay, Julius Caesar was blamed for burning it down. Jesus spent his last night on Earth praying in a garden and, of course, Adam and Eve were reportedly invited to leave one dressed in fig leaves for violating property rules. I’m pretty sure Mama Meryl approves of how I’ve updated her garden and reading room, evidenced by the fact that I can almost feel her presence in both places. With nobody but the dogs and me likely to occupy my library’s armchairs for the foreseeable future, I’ve lately taken to inviting the spirits of well-loved authors who anchor my bookshelves to come sit for a spell in a chair of their choosing. As Mama Meryl hovers approvingly, methinks Walker Percy prefers the houndstooth club chair while — naturally — Joseph Campbell fancies the mythic oak chair with Egyptian carved heads. Mary Oliver lounges in the elegant red Deacons chair where Annie Dillard often sits, and the big comfy wicker number is rightly claimed by my friend Elwyn Brooks White, whose iconic children’s books (Stuart Little, Charlotte’s Web) and collections of essays shaped my views on life and writing from age 6 onward. They inspired me to chase a career in which I’ve wound up eating my own words — or at least living off them. At times like these, E.B. White’s Pulitzer Prize-winning essays, letters and other works have traveled with me since the year I graduated college, and are a tonic for the captive soul. Particularly endearing is his essay, “Death of a Pig,” which details the author’s struggles to save an ailing pig and make peace with his own grief. After burying his pig beneath a wild apple tree with his rambunctious dog Fred in attendance, White confides: “I have written this account in penitence and grief, as a man who failed to raise his pig . . . The grave in the woods is unmarked, but Fred can direct the mourner to it unerringly and with immense good will, and I know he and I shall often revisit it, singly and together, in seasons of reflection and despair, on flagless memorial days of our own choosing.” White and his wife, Katherine, lived on a saltwater farm in North Brooklin, Maine, an hour or so up the road from where my first wife and I lived after we married in 1985 — four days after my favorite author passed away. I never got to meet him, though an unlikely connection unexpectedly came my way through the garden. Upon learning that Wendy and I planned to move home to North Carolina in the winter of 2007, an elderly friend who claimed to be The Art & Soul of Greensboro


Simple Life friendly with Katherine White gave me a remarkable going away gift — a clump of white Italian coneflowers she claimed originated in the garden of Katherine White. Remarkably, the flowers made it through a succession of long-distance moves and careful transplantings, faithfully returning spring after spring for more than a decade. Ironically, our last move home to the Corry house proved to be the undoing of my welltraveled coneflowers. Perhaps their uprooting in late summer and the idea of making it to another spring was simply too much for them to contemplate. In any case, I think about those coneflowers from time to time, usually when I’m resting with a cool beverage in an old wooden chair after a day of work in the garden, my other sacred sanctuary in the time of coronavirus. From the depths of that old chair, I find it reassuring to study the stars before dawn and while the birds of late afternoon are dive-bombing the feeders as the last light falls like a benediction over the yard. Certain questions, for the moment at least, remain unanswered. For example, I shall probably never know if those handsome white coneflowers really came from Katherine White’s garden, though I like to think that they did. Their message is clear. “To live in this world,” advises my friend the poet Mary Oliver from her grand red chair in the library, “you must be able to do three things. To love what is mortal; to hold it against your bones knowing your own life depends upon it; and when it comes time to let it go, to let it go.” Mama Meryl knew this. I suppose I’m finally learning it, too. Someday this house will pass into other hands and the books of my fine home library will be boxed up and donated to the annual church auction or carted off to the community book sale. Likewise, without me around to keep it trimmed and tidy, my garden will likely overrun its borders and spread into places it was never meant to go, a disordered Eden that may prompt the new homeowner to hack it down without a trace. But for now, like long-gone Cicero before me, these are the simple small places where I seek and find whatever there is for present comfort during these flagless memorial days — from books that still let me roam the world to a garden where, I noticed just yesterday, the bluebirds have returned for the third year in a row to start a new family — a sign that life always begins again. OH Contact Editor Jim Dodson at jim@thepilot.com.

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

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May 2020

O.Henry 15


Short Stories Plant-Based Medicine

And no, we’re not suggesting growing pot, but potting growth with a houseplant to keep you company while you shelter in place. In addition to brightening up your surroundings, turning over new leaves will also deliver extra oxygen. (The better to help you take some deep breaths.) Learn more about the therapeutic benefits of green things from America in Bloom, an independent nonprofit organization that promotes beautification programs, and individuals’ and communities’ engagement with flowers, plants and trees. And if you’ve never gotten your hands dirty or want to expand from houseplant to a vegetable patch or full-fledged South 40, AIB can help. Simply check out its resource page at americainbloom.org/resource . . . and exhale.

***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.

Art of the State

If you’re worried about being charged mileage on gigabyte globetrotting tours of great museums, you can stay right in your own backyard. At the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh it’s possible to explore the collection virtually by going to ncartmuseum.org. Another feature, “NCMA Recommends,” highlights film, music and art from the collection. The Reynolda House Museum in Winston-Salem is producing “Call-a-Curator” to anyone on its email list where team members share their view on art and all things Reynolda. The Cameron Art Museum in Wilmington launched “Structure in Space and Time — Photography by Phil Freelon.”

Night (and Day) at the Museum Virtual Veggies

Craving a crisp salad made with greens just sprouted from the ground? Instead of, er, shredding your leafy dream, why not realize it with a trip to the Greensboro Farmers Curb Market — without leaving the comfort of your well-worn sofa? Thanks to its Virtual Marketplace, you can have your cake — and fresh eggs, pork, collards, cheeses, jams, even doughnuts — and eat them, too. Every Thursday at noon the Market’s website, (gsofarmersmarket.org/our-vendors), will be updated, allowing you to shop with vendors and choose from options for home deliveries, curbside pickup from certified farm stands, direct shipments and more. After all, ya gotta eat your spinach, Baby!

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May 2020

Though the kids have turned the kitchen table into a classroom, no reason not to take ’em on a field trip to the North Carolina Museum of History. Through short videos and blogs on the museum’s History at Home web page, you can step back in time for an ice cream sundae at the counter of a 1920s drugstore; watch hemlines — and necklines — rise and fall with a backward glance at fashion; learn the ways of the state’s indigenous peoples; take off into the wild blue yonder and have a gander at beloved toys — Matchbox cars, Slinky, Barbie, Twister and more — from the 1950s and ’60s. (Sorry, Millennials, but our money’s on G.I. Joe over Mighty Morphin Power Rangers any day!) The best history lesson of all? Admission is free for this vast wealth of knowledge. Info: ncmuseumofhistory.org/history-at-home.

The Art & Soul of Greensboro


Ogi Sez Ogi Overman

Well, brothers and sisters, several shows scheduled or rescheduled for May have already been postponed until June. Yet, somehow the show must go on. By mid-March, virtual living room concerts had become all the rage. Scheduling is often last-minute, but dozens of our local faves are hosting either regular or sporadic shows; venues such as the Carolina Theatre (carolinatheatre.com) and Triad Stage (triadstage.org) are soliciting videos for online broadcast; and Fox8 is airing weekly living-room concerts. Rather than a sketchy and incomplete list, I would simply implore you to check your social media sites, log in, and — oh, yes — tip. If you haven’t used PayPal, Venmo, CashApp, etc., learn. OK (fellow) Boomer, figure it out. Also, ArtsGreensboro has set up a musicians relief fund to assist those in the direst of straits, so why not kick a few bucks for the cause? Triad Musicians Matter (triadmusiciansmatter.org), headed by local, nationally acclaimed songwriter Kristy Jackson, got the ball rolling with a gift of $5,000. Significant though that is, considering the number of artists who’ve lost their sole source of income, it is but a drop in the bucket. And above all, let us remember the words of Baba Ram Dass: “We’re all just walking each other home.” Or in this case, singing.

Barnes Storming

The Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia has been running short daily pieces featuring one of its curators talking about one of their favorite pieces of art in the extensive collection of over 900 impressionist, post-impressionist and modern paintings that include works by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Henri Rousseau, Amadeo Modigliani, Edgar Degas, Vincent Van Gogh and Georges Seurat. The collection also features African masks, Greek antiquities, Native American jewelry and more. The “Daily Servings of Art” are available in bite-sized portions by going to YouTube and searching for “Barnes Takeout.”

Mood Lighting

Now that you’ve been staring at the four walls for a bit, have you grown bored with your home décor? Well here’s a light-bulb moment — literally! You can transform a space without the hassle and expense of a complete overhaul by flipping the switch on its lighting. Check out the latest from Currey & Company, for lamps, chandeliers, sconces and more, running the gamut from traditional to Mod, Imperial to Boho. We’re partial to the whimsical, springlike hibiscus designs from Sasha Bikoff Collection. To order consult your local designers, many of whom are working from home, or go to the dealer locator tab at curreyandcompany.com.

Take a Hike

Staying home is all well and good but if you feel the need to get out and explore you can do it safely by taking virtual tours — or watching live cams — at a number of National Parks, including Yellowstone at nps.gov. Other parks offering virtual tours are Yosemite, Denali, Kenai Fjords, Hawai’i Volcanoes, Carlsbad Caverns, Bryce Canyon and Dry Tortugas. Or, you can explore 35 of them on Google Earth. You’ll need a comfortable pair of boots.

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

May 2020

O.Henry 17


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18 O.Henry

May 2020

The Art & Soul of Greensboro


Doodad

w r ight sville

b each

Art Unlimited GreenHill goes virtual

PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY OF GREENHILL CENTER FOR NORTH CAROLINA ART

Y

ou could while away the hours, conferrin’ with the flowers or consulting with the rain, as the song goes. Or, you could let your imagination roam and create something. Not the creative or artistic type, you protest? Nonsense! We all are. But if you need a muse, look no further than GreenHill and its weekly online initiative Virtual GreenHill, launched in late March. The idea is to bring art, artists and art-making directly to you and your family with some of the centered longtime programming. Masterpiece Fridays, for example, consists of story time and art activities geared toward preschoolers. One of its first suggested projects centers around the children’s classic, The House that Jack Built and encouraged little ones to create their own house out of construction paper or any materials lying around the house that could be repurposed. (Remember, this exercise is for the imagination!) Hands on at Home addresses creative problem-solving for the Kindergartner-throughtween set, while GreenHill Connections highlights art-making and crafts for all ages. Want to “exhibit” your work? Then share with the community on Instagram at #virtualgreenhill. As for the pieces by professional artists, there’s plenty to feed the soul. Curator’s Picks features in-depth discussions of art featured at GreenHill, such as Felicia van Bork’s colorful abstracts, currently on exhibit via NC Women Abstract Painters, which, by the way, has been extended to July 11. For a behind-the-scenes perspective, check out Artists Highlights, which takes you into the processes of notables like James Barnhill, the sculptor responsible for the Nathanael Greene statue downtown. Taking a cue from PBS icon, the late Bob Ross, Barnhill demonstrates in a video his technique for drawing portraits. Other treats — Edie Carpenter’s video unveiling Greensboro Portaits in Tanger Center’s Dr. John and Barbara Lusk Gallery, plus a virtual gallery showcasing artists across the Old North State — round out Virtual GreenHill, which we suspect will continue to expand its trove of offerings. After all, the imagination knows no bounds. — Nancy Oakley For more information — and inspiration — go to greenhillnc.org.

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

We’ve Missed You! We are ready and waiting for when you come visit beautiful Wrightsville Beach, NC again soon

blockade-runner.com 855-416-9086

May 2020

O.Henry 19


Custom Woodworking to Transform a House into Your Home Kitchen and Bath Cabinetry, Entertainment Centers, Built Ins, Bookcases, Handmade Detailed Trim.

Whether it is to design the kitchen of your dreams or build a bathroom vanity, every project is custom built to suit your individual needs and design ideas. We are there for you from layout and design through installation and beyond. 639 South Scales St. • Reidsville NC 27320 | 336-616-1300 • 336-342-0908 | alcornswoodworking.com

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May 2020

The Art & Soul of Greensboro


Masking For It

Life's Funny

The trials of going under cover

By Maria Johnson

I knew the advice for the gen-

eral public to “mask up” for the Covid-19 pandemic had hit home the moment I watched a woman in the Trader Joe’s parking lot slap a maxi-pad over her nose and mouth, then lift two sheer fashion scarves from around her neck to cover the lower half of her face.

And I thought, “Ya know, that’s not a bad idea.” She probably had 15 years on me, which put her in the high-risk category, medically speaking. It also landed her in the high who-gives-a-flip category, an undeniable effect of aging. I’m pretty sure she saw me peering at her from over the top of my own mask — a no-sew version made from a bandana — and yet I detected zero flips given. Her husband was masked-up, too, with what looked to be a shop rag because, as I’ve observed, men are a) less likely to wear masks to begin with, and b) if they do, they try to make it look like an accident, like a shop rag just happened to stick to their face, as it might to a Shop-Vac. Or a turtleneck just happened to unfurl over their mouths. Or they just happened to be wearing a camouflaged hunting gaiter (I saw you in the parking lot, too, Mr. Field & Stream) when they ran into TJ’s for a package of spring salad mix. I get it. For a while, I resisted the idea of wearing a mask. Honestly, I thought people might assume I had Covid-19 and avoid me. Then, as the death toll climbed, I was like, “Hmm . . .” Like I said, I’m just entering my non-flip-giving years. I finally decided to don a mask because of my elderly mom. I didn’t want to get the virus and unknowingly pass it to her. So I searched YouTube for a design until I found one for an easy-to-makeyet-attractive accessory of pestilence. It required a bandana, a couple of dryer sheets, some rubber bands and a shoelace. I wore my prototype to Walmart, where I quickly discovered a few facts about wearing a mask in public. First, there is fraternity among mask wearers. I immediately bonded with a mask-wearing couple in produce. “I see you’re having the same problem The Art & Soul of Greensboro

we had,” said the man, alluding to the impossibility of getting a thin plastic produce bag open without lowering your mask and spitting on your fingers, which defeats the sanitation theme on several fronts. “Try wiping it on something wet, like kale,” said the woman. Shazam. It worked. Another thing about wearing a mask: You have to shout to be heard. What my friends in produce actually said was, “I SEE YOU’RE HAVING THE SAME PROBLEM WE HAD.” In related news, because you are muffled, wearing a mask means you are much more likely to talk to yourself in a low golf announcer voice. “Seriously, what’s the deal with toilet paper? I know people are pooping at home more, but were they really pooping that much at work? You sir, here in the paper products aisle, did you poop at work before this? You don’t look like an on-the-clock pooper.” Another fact of mask-wearing is that you have almost no peripheral vision below your face. Let’s say you put several packets of taco seasoning in the kiddie seat at the front of your cart. The packets could be sliding out of the leg holes, and you could be leaving a trail of taco seasoning all over the store. Theoretically. Also, people seriously cannot recognize you when you wear a mask over half your face, which, come to think of it, might be why banks are making people go to drive-through windows. I realized this when an old friend whizzed past me in the coffee aisle. She was gone before I could get her name out at sufficient volume. “Anne. Anne. ANNE!” Oh well, she ran like she was healthy. Over the next few days, I tinkered with my design, editing the materials down to a bandana and rubber bands. I was putting on the new and improved model when I saw Ms. Maxi in the Trader Joe’s parking. As I sat there, pondering her creativity, it occurred to me that using maxi pads was no stranger than using some of the other masking materials I’d heard about — T-shirts, dishtowels, coffee filters, yarmulkes, jock straps, even old bra cups. All hail the mothers and fathers of invention. OH Contributing Editor Maria Johnson shouts thanks to front-line health workers, encouragement to those who are suffering from Covid-19 and sympathy to those who have lost dear ones. May 2020

O.Henry 21


The Omnivorous Reader

The Delta Blues Legend Nobody Knew A new biography of Robert Johnson comes alive with anecdotal details

By Stephen E. Smith

Biographers, musicologists and blues

aficionados who’ve attempted to research the life and times of bluesman Robert Johnson have faced a daunting challenge: Not much is known about the elusive Johnson, who was born out of wedlock in Hazelhurst, Mississippi, in 1911, and whose lifeless body was found 27 years later in a ditch outside Greenwood.

All that remains of Johnson are a couple of photographs — and they don’t tell us much about his life — and a death certificate that lists only the date of his demise (Aug. 16, 1938) and the location of the body when it was found. And, of course, there are the 29 classic recordings, including 12 outtakes, of Johnson’s playing and singing what would eventually transform the man in a pinstripe suit holding a Gibson L-1 guitar into the definitive bluesman whose Delta style influenced a generation of guitar heroes. Those are the available facts. The heart of the Robert Johnson legend, the details of how he lived and the appalling circumstances surrounding his death, are based on speculation, hearsay, rumor and outright invention, and despite a plethora of books, a feature film and a documentary or two, there’s been little primary source material available until the publication of Brother Robert: Growing Up with Robert Johnson, by Annye C. Anderson with Preston Lauterbach. Annye Anderson is Johnson’s stepsister. She considers Robert “family,” although they weren’t blood relatives and were linked only by a convoluted mixing of broken relationships and communal living arrangements. Still, she managed to spend time with the great bluesman through her preteens, and she willingly supplies anecdotal details and insights into his life and

22 O.Henry

May 2020

personal habits. She also retells stories that were passed down to her from her extended family. Given the dearth of information surrounding Johnson’s life, Anderson’s testimony is a welcome addition to the historical record, but the serious reader must be willing to take Anderson’s recollections at face value. Although there’s a chance of falling victim to a hoax, there’s no reason to believe that Anderson isn’t who she says she is. She supplies a summary of family relationships that link her to Johnson, and her intimate knowledge of the time and place in which Johnson lived is convincing enough. It’s reasonable to assume, or at least to hope, that Anderson’s collaborator, Preston Lauterbach, the author of three previous blues-related volumes, and the publisher, Hachette Books, have done their homework. Anderson’s stated purpose is to “set the record straight.” Readers learn about Johnson’s daily routine in Memphis and details of his hoboing, his love life, his favorite foods, his preferred tobacco, and the divergent sources of his music. Given the time and social circumstances in which he lived, Johnson was aesthetically middlebrow. “I know his (Brother Robert’s) repertoire pretty well,” Anderson writes. “He was blues, he was folk, he was country. Jimmie Rodgers was his favorite, and he became my favorite. Brother Robert could yodel just like he did. We did ‘Waiting for a Train,’ together. . . . And you name it. All the Irish songs he did, because in the South they used to sing lots of those songs: ‘Annie Laurie,’ ‘My Bonnie,’ and ‘Auld Lang Syne.’” Like many bluesmen of the period, Johnson played at juke joints, in parks, at rent parties and dances, and on street corners and front porches, but never achieved national recognition during his lifetime. Typical of Anderson’s recollections is Johnson’s last visit at a family gathering on the evening of the Joe Louis-Max Schmeling fight. Johnson, guitar in hand, was decked out in a white sharkskin suit, Panama hat and patent leather shoes. “He was razor sharp when he dressed,” Anderson recalls. “He (Johnson) did ‘Terraplane (Blues),’ ‘Sweet Home Chicago,’ ‘Kind Hearted The Art & Soul of Greensboro


Reader

Woman,’ he and Son (Johnson’s half-brother) did ‘44 Blues’. . . . That night of the big fight was the last time I saw him.” Johnson died not long after the LouisSchmeling bout. “Everyone was in shock,” she writes. “He was dead two weeks before we knew. . . . We weren’t going to sing Jimmie Rogers together ever again, or sing ‘John Henry’ together anymore.” The second half of Anderson’s memoir is a predictable tale of music-biz skulduggery. Johnson’s recordings went unappreciated until Columbia Records released King of the Delta Blues Singers in 1961. In the early ’60s, Steve LaVere, a researcher and promoter of blues artists, began to focus on the Johnson legend, making himself wealthy in the process. Anderson sums up seemingly endless controversy in one paragraph: “People say Steve LaVere made Robert Johnson a legend. No. Steve LaVere didn’t tell Eric Clapton about Robert Johnson. He didn’t tell Led Zeppelin or the Rolling Stones. Musicians already knew Brother Robert’s work before LeVere got into the picture. That’s the whole reason LeVere got involved. Those big artists had covered Brother Robert’s songs that nobody had copyrighted. Brother Robert was already a goldmine fifteen years before he won a Grammy. Steve LaVere caught on before anyone else, and we never caught up to him.” As for the oft-repeated myth that Johnson sold his soul to the devil and the melodramatic stories surrounding his death by poisoning or from the ravages of congenital syphilis, Anderson dismisses it all, noting that people will say “anything for a dollar.” Despite endless legal wrangling, Anderson and her half-sister Carrie Spencer never profited from Johnson’s belated success, and a sense of bitterness shades her memoir. In addition to setting the record straight, money is surely one of the motivations behind Brother Robert. Claud Johnson, who was ruled by the Mississippi Supreme Court to be Robert Johnson’s son, received over a million dollars in royalties in 1998. “My family lost all we worked for during the past twenty-five years,” Anderson writes. “You know, I was born at night, but not last night.” Anderson supplies blues enthusiasts with a few mundane but revealing recollections that help flesh out the character of Robert Johnson, but we still lack a fully dimensional portrait. The man remains a mystery, a mostly fictive figure whose 29 recordings have had a profound influence on an essential American art form. OH

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23


Scuppernong Bookshelf

A Reader’s Odd Paradise Self-Isolation:

Books running the gamut from dark to light, to keep you company in uncertain times

By Brian L ampkin

As we enter another month of enjoy-

ing our time with our families and roommates, we’re all thinking about what we should read next (because really how much FaceTime Monopoly can we play?). Here are some suggestions that deal directly (or indirectly) with pandemics, crisis and dystopia. But that’s the last thing some people want. So let’s add another list of some great reading to avoid despair, decay and disease. For best results, choose one from each column.

The Worst of Times . . .

There are some obvious choices here like Camus’ The Plague, Márquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera, or Stephen King’s flu epidemic novel The Stand, but let’s look at some more recent titles that might illuminate our current crisis or even directly address it. Erik Larson has a new non-fiction (The Splendid and the Vile, Crown, $32) that explores a country’s response to seemingly unbearable conditions. The daily WWII bombing of London and England generally by the Nazi regime created an atmosphere of fear and constant risk of death. How does a country survive such daily dread? Larson looks closely at Churchill’s role in communicating the reality of the situation along with a conviction that his country will persevere. Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel (Vintage 2015, $16.95), imagines a rapidly spreading flu epidemic, overrun hospitals and barricaded isolation zones. Too on-the-nose? Mandel’s novel is terrifying yet somehow also about survival and the necessity of art in even the direst of circumstances. Her latest work, The Glass Hotel (Knopf 2020, $26.95), is another story of crisis and survival, and Ron Charles at The Washington Post calls it “the perfect novel for your survival bunker.” It’s also an exploration of money, beauty, white-

24 O.Henry

May 2020

collar crime, ghosts and moral compromise in which a woman disappears from a container ship off the coast of Mauritania and a massive Ponzi scheme implodes in New York. Pale Rider: The Spanish Flu of 1918 and How It Changed the World, by Laura Spinney (Public Affairs 2018, $16.95), The Spanish flu of 1918–1920 was one of the greatest human disasters of all time. It infected a third of the people on Earth — from the poorest immigrants of New York City to the king of Spain, Franz Kafka, Mahatma Gandhi and Woodrow Wilson. Spinney draws on the latest research in history, virology, epidemiology, psychology and economics, to masterfully recount the little-known catastrophe that forever changed humanity. There’s a new understood queen of science fiction and N. K. Jemisin’s, The City We Became (Orbit 2020, $28), reminds us why she wears the crown. Five New Yorkers must come together in order to save their city from destruction in the first book of a stunning new series. Every great city has a soul. Some are ancient as myths, and others are as new and destructive as children. New York? She’s got six. When a young man crosses the bridge into New York City, something changes. He doesn’t remember who he is, where he’s from, or even his own name. But he can feel the pulse of the city, can see its history, can access its magic. And he’s not the only one. All across the boroughs, strange things are happening. Something is threatening to destroy the city and her six newborn avatars unless they can come together and stop it once and for all.

Always Look On the Bright Side . . .

There are classics in the genre of offering comfort in troubled times as well, and many of us have personal favorites. When I was a young man (but still too old to actually admit to my age here), a friend read Trina Paulus’ Hope for the Flowers to me when I was feeling down and out. It helped. My teenage daughters recommend the Percy Jackson series as a diverting and hopeful alternative. More recent releases include the hard-to-keep-in-stock Untamed, by Glennon Doyle (Dial Press 2020, $28). Soulful and uproarious, forceful and tender, Untamed is both a memoir and a galvanizing wake-up call. It offers a piercing, electrifying examination of the restrictive expectations women are issued from birth and shows how hustling to meet those expectations leaves The Art & Soul of Greensboro


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women feeling dissatisfied and lost. Untamed shows women how to be brave. As Glennon insists: “The braver we are, the luckier we get.” With graduation upon us — even if actual graduations are sadly absent — it might be nice to offer a book that refuses the heavy pretentiousness of the occasion and offers instead some much-needed irony and a great deal of generosity of spirit. Kurt Vonnegut’s If This Isn’t Nice, What Is? (Seven Stories 2020, $17.95) has been newly reissued and expanded. Remember this: “There was one thing I forgot to say, and I promised I would say, and that is, ‘We love you. We really do.’” We’re in nature a lot these days. I recently read Thorpe Moeckel’s wonder almanac Down By the Eno, Down By the Haw (Mercer University 2019, $16) and found it the perfect book for the times. Hallucinatory in its immersion in the wild and in its strange and specific language, I found this book diverting in just the way a great walk can be: awed by the new, charmed by the familiar, and fully engaged with the present. And finally, each of the following North Carolina writers have had books published in the recent weeks and have had all of the events promoting their new books canceled. Imagine the muted excitement of having a new book published to the sound of crickets. Order their books if you’re interested and able: Tyranny of Questions, by Michael Gaspeny (Unicorn Press, $18). A novel-in-verse that dares to believe in the literary imagination and a writer’s empathetic chops. I See You So Close: The Last Ghost Series, Book Two, by M. Dressler (Arcade Publishing, $24.99). Guilford College writer-in-residence brings us part two of her engaging series. Blue Marlin, by Lee Smith (Blair, $15.95). A very personal novella from North Carolina’s literary force. The More Extravagant Feast: Poems, by Leah Green (Graywolf, $16). Greensboro native and winner of the 2019 Walt Whitman Award. OH Brian Lampkin is one of the proprietors of Scuppernong Books. Hey faithful O.Henry readers! Scuppernong Books remains open in these isolating times for all orders: website (scuppernongbooks. com), email (scuppernongbooks@gmail.com) or phone call (336-763-1919). We can’t allow walk-in traffic, but we can ship books out to you and in most cases you’ll get your literary survival kit within a week. Please try to remember all of our small and local businesses during this continued social distancing. The Art & Soul of Greensboro

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O.Henry 25


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May 2020

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Papadaddy’s Mindfield

Outdoors Is Not Closed A gift that amazes the child in all of us

By Clyde Edgerton

I’m writing these

ILLUSTRATION BY HARRY BLAIR

words in late March 2020.

My gentle editor recently told me that the Salt magazine theme for May’s issue would be “the outdoors.” I took a walk to think about how to write about that subject during these dark times. More people are taking walks, riding bicycles — missing beaches and closed parks. I can only guess at how things will be in early May, when you are (now) reading these words. It does not seem far-fetched to guess that, by then, you or I — or both of us — will have lost people we knew, and perhaps loved. I know of no time since World War II during which I could have said that. On my walk, I notice a wisteria vine behind a neighbor’s house. I think about how, unchecked, it will begin to take over bushes, shrubs, trees — a nuisance vine. But the beauty of its blossom may counter that, depending on your relationship to the vine; that is, if it’s growing in the woods you can admire it, but in your yard it may become invasive and unwelcomed. The reason I notice the vine on this walk is because late March and early April are days of Wilmington’s wisteria blooming — light purple — for its three- or four-week colorful span. I rarely, if ever, see a wisteria vine without remembering a particular wisteria vine. My mother remembered it being planted in about 1915 at the base of a trellis in her grandmother’s backyard. That would have been three years before the Spanish flu epidemic. Twenty-one years later, in 1936, the federal government bought 5,000 acres in the vicinity of the homeplace, where the vine grew on its trellis, and offered it to the state of North Carolina for a dollar, with the understanding that the acreage would

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become a recreational site. The site became the William B. Umstead State Park, situated between Raleigh and Durham. Graveyards, as well as stone and glass remnants of an entire community, can still be found near trails and streams. The wisteria vine planted by my grandmother survived the land transfer, and once every year for the past 70 years or so, I’ve helped family members clean the family graveyard near the site of the homeplace. By the 1950s, the wisteria vine began taking over wild shrubs and pine trees around the graveyard, and for a while in the early ’80s it arched magnificently over a dirt road that ran through the park. This memory of it in bloom, reaching up into and over pine trees, and over the road, is unforgettable. Park rangers painstakingly extinguished the vine in the 1990s. Sadly, in my view. My guess is that you remember an outdoor childhood spot — near a certain tree, or creek or hillside. Perhaps there was a path that led to a secret place. While outdoors interests adults, it often amazes children. When did you last climb a tree? In a sense, outdoors is childhood. And outdoors is a gift, like a sense of humor, like strong relationships with people we like and love. Gifts. Not acquisitions growing from what we don’t need. Granted, we need toilet paper, but it’s not free. Outdoors is free. OH Clyde Edgerton is the author of 10 novels, a memoir and most recently, Papadaddy’s Book for New Fathers. He is the Thomas S. Kenan III Distinguished Professor of Creative Writing at UNCW.

May 2020

O.Henry 27


Food For Thought

Strawberry Fields Forever

By Jane Lear

Although it may sound strange,

soaking, or macerating, strawberries in a mix of sugar, orange juice, and Madeira or sherry is far from a new idea. Macerated fresh fruit was a Victorian fad borrowed from the French, and in Miss Leslie’s New Cookery Book of 1857, by the popular American cookbook author Eliza Leslie, you will find “Strawberries in Wine.” There’s no citrus, but Miss Leslie does specify Madeira or sherry. The berries are “served at parties 28 O.Henry

May 2020

in small glass saucers,” she noted, “heaped on the top with whipped cream, or with white ice cream.”

My grandmother used glass saucers for serving as well — they hold the winey juices nicely — but her rationale behind macerated strawberries wasn’t a special occasion but a too-hot-to-bake day. By June, her house would be dim and shadowy, the tall windows shuttered to keep out the heat and bright shafts of sunlight. Preparations for the evening meal — a pot of snap beans set to simmer, for instance — usually began in the cool of the morning, after the breakfast things were cleared away. A “strawberry bowl,” however, was left until the drowsy afternoon. I’d be pulled away from Nancy Drew to help wash a colander full of the ripe fruit (“always leave the caps on, dear, so they don’t get waterlogged”) and pat them dry with well-worn tea towels reserved for just The Art & Soul of Greensboro

PHOTOGRAPH BY JAMES STEFIUK

Classic shortcake is nice. But it’s hard to beat this spirited twist on summer’s most luscious berry


Food For Thought that purpose. Trying to copy my grandmother’s neat flick of the wrist made quick work (or so I thought) of hulling. You may wonder if a fortified wine such as Madeira or sherry — or port, if that’s your preference — will overpower strawberries, one of the softest, most perishable fruits, but I’m reminded of the “Nobody puts Baby in a corner” line from the movie Dirty Dancing. Although each wine adds its singular, supple balance of sweetness and acidity to the berries, the fruit not only holds its own but gains extra resonance. (The same is true of strawberries with balsamic vinegar, traditional in Modena, Italy, the home of aceto balsamico. For this, you need the best, oldest balsamic vinegar you can find; the kind that’s been reduced over time to a syrupy liquid.) Strawberries need warm sunny days and cooler nights for peak flavor and fragrance. When shopping, look for even coloring (those with white shoulders haven’t had enough time to fully ripen) and a captivating aroma. Those that travel the least generally taste the best, so seek out local growers. Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream à la Miss Leslie are perfectly fine accompaniments to macerated strawberries, but my grandmother’s favorite embellishment was actually an exercise in household economy: leftover (i.e., slightly stale) sponge cake or pound cake, cut into fingers or cubes and toasted. The end result was modest and restrained, yet completely refreshing, and afterward, everyone at the table stood up, ready for a game of cards or Parcheesi. What I realize I’m ready for, though, is a set of Victorian cut-glass saucers. And maybe some Nancy Drew.

Strawberries with Madeira and Orange

1 quart ripe strawberries Sugar to taste About 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice About 1/4 cup medium-dry Madeira or sherry 1. Quickly rinse the strawberries and pat them dry. Hull them with a paring knife and put the whole berries (halve them if large) in a serving bowl. 2. Generously sprinkle them with the sugar and gently stir in the orange juice and Madeira. Refrigerate, covered, until the berries release their juices and the flavors have a chance to play well together, about 2 hours. 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. The Art & Soul of Greensboro

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O.Henry 29


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Spirits

Rainy Day Cocktails

Always seem to know when it’s time to call By Tony Cross

As I’m writing this, our state

is going into a mandatory stay-at-home lockdown for folks who do not fall into the criteria of jobs considered “essential.” If you work at a grocery store, pharmacy, hardware store or even a bank, you can go to work if you choose. A lot of other folks must stay home.

This is the hardest column I’ve ever had to write. All of my friends in the restaurant/bar business are clinging to hope that this passes soon; most of them know it will not. I’m at a loss for words. To say that these past weeks have been devastating would be a huge understatement and, in a way, somewhat disrespectful to those who have had their world flipped upside down. With that being said, a lot of people are staying home, which is good. Be responsible. A lot of you are stuck inside with your significant others. I feel for you, too. Hopefully, by the time you read this, we’ll no longer be hiding from a virus. But, just in case we are, here are some cocktails to make at home, while we’re trying to stay sane and keep hope alive. I’m going to pick two spirits this month (bourbon and agave) and give a drink recommendation for each. If we’re still asked to stay at home a month from now, I’ll pick two more, rinse and repeat. So get out your jiggers, measuring spoons — whatever you’ve got — and try to have fun together, before you claw each other’s eyes out. As for me, all I can say is, “Cheers to being single!”

Bourbon

Besides drinking whiskey neat, there are myriad things that you can mix up at home, but for now we’ll stick with a classic. For those of you who come back to read this mess month after month, I know that I’m reposting this, but we may have some new friends tuning in.

PHOTOGRAPH BY TONY CROSS

Old-Fashioned

The definitive cocktail, right? Spirit, sugar, bitters and water. There ya go. Personally, I prefer a rye whiskey, but when you’re stuck at home, you play with the hand you’ve been dealt. By the way, I’ve been told that our local ABC stores are essential, so I guess things could be worse. Here’s how I build an old-fashioned when I’m home. I take my rocks glass and add a quarter-ounce of a rich demerara syrup. (To make that I stir together two parts demerara sugar and one-part water over medium heat until the sugar dissolves.) After the syrup, I add three dashes of Angostura bitters, one dash of Regan’s orange bitters, and one dash of Angostura orange bitters. Why two different orange bitters? Because I’m complex. No. Because the Regan’s is dry and the Ango is sweet. Together they bring an orange balance. If you are tuning in for the first time, I completely understand that now is the time you turn the page and read something else. No offense taken. Add two ounces of whichever whiskey you’ve got on hand and give it all

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a quick stir. Next is ice. I use a large cube and stir for 50 or so revolutions, until the glass is chilled, and you feel the drink has been properly diluted. Remember, water is an ingredient, so make sure you stir. Then I’ll take a swath of orange and lemon peels, expressing oils over the drink, and put them in my cocktail. If you feel it looks good enough to drink, then do it.

Agave

It’s warming up. My favorite time of year is here, and it’s almost literally the only thing I’m smiling about these days. Margarita season is upon us. If you’re new to this column, first thing’s first: no store-bought mix. Ever. Take it out of your mind. It doesn’t exist. Here’s how to make a somewhat-decent ’Rita from scratch. Grab a cocktail shaker. If you don’t have one, maybe you have a protein shaker. Not ideal, but who cares; you want a margarita, right? Add 3/4 to an ounce of fresh lime juice (you’ll need to squeeze your own) into the shaker. Take a rich simple syrup (refer to the old-fashioned recipe to make it yourself, but use white or cane sugar instead), adding a quarter or half-ounce to the shaker. If you like your margarita a bit sweeter, opt for the half-ounce. Add roughly a half-ounce of Cointreau (orange liqueur). If you only have triple sec, that will do. If you have none of the above, that’s OK, too. I’ll give you an alternative in a few. Now comes the tequila. You’ll want a blanco tequila — it’s clear and unaged; light and crisp; perfect for margaritas. If you have a reposado, that will most definitely work as well. If you only have an añejo, I wouldn’t dare. Pour two ounces of the tequila into the shaker. Before you add ice, make sure you have your drinkware ready. If you’re having it on the rocks, make sure your glass is packed with ice. If you’d like to have a salted rim, take a lime wedge, and rim it around the glass. I recommend only rimming half of the glass; that way you can switch back and forth from a salted sip to a non-salted sip. If you’re having your drink straight up, make sure your coupe or martini glass has been in your freezer while you’ve been preparing it. Now add a lot of ice to your mixing vessel, seal it, and shake the hell out of it until it’s nice and frosty (if you’re actually using the protein shaker, you bro-shake it hard for about 1015 seconds). Strain your margarita over ice or in your coupe. If you didn’t have an orange liqueur to add, you can take the peel of an orange, and spray the oils over the cocktail like we did with the old-fashioned. You can also add a lime wedge on the glass for a garnish, but I usually drink mine instantly and forget. Stay well everyone. OH Tony Cross is a bartender (well, ex-bartender) who runs cocktail catering company Reverie Cocktails in Southern Pines. May 2020

O.Henry 31


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The Art & Soul of Greensboro


Birdwatch

Birdz in the Hood

This time of year, the ponds are full of hooded merganser

By Susan Campbell

Have you seen a male hooded mer-

ganser lately? They’re hard to miss with their extensive white hoods, black-and-white chests and chestnut sides. Or perhaps you have noticed a female — a tan bird with a stiff short tail and cinnamon crest? If you’re really lucky, maybe you’ve seen a pair courting, the preliminary dance to successful reproduction. The drake flares his crest and vigorously bobs his head, surely impressing his intended. These handsome little birds are a species of diving duck restricted to North America. Affectionately known by birders and hunters as “hoodies,” they are quite spunky in spite of their diminutive size.

Hooded mergansers can be found statewide year-round here in North Carolina. Good numbers of migrants from farther north show up during the winter months. But by spring, pairs are more localized. Breeding birds may turn up on small ponds anywhere from the mountains to the coast. Needing clear water for foraging, they are quite at home on beaver ponds and slow-moving backwaters of smaller rivers and streams. With a relatively long and sharply serrated bill, hoodies excel at catching The Art & Soul of Greensboro

fish. These birds have what are called nictitating membranes — an adaptation that protects the eyes but still allows them to see while underwater. Even new ducklings can dive in shallow water to feed within a day of hatching. Alert birders sometimes spot hooded mergansers swimming with their heads submerged, scanning for prey below the surface. Unlike dabbling ducks such as wood ducks (or “woodies”), hooded mergansers’ legs are set farther back on the body to facilitate propulsion while underwater. This means that they are rather awkward on land, so you will seldom see them walking or even sitting out of the water. Furthermore, these birds need a waterborne running start in order to get airborne. Once aloft, however, their short wings make them quite adept at negotiating flooded timber or grassy marshlands. Hoodies are one of a few species of waterfowl that use cavities for nesting. Early prospecting for suitable sites begins at the end of the summer. Females search for holes high up in either live or dead trees to deposit a clutch of up to a dozen white eggs. They prefer an opening of 3 to 5 inches across, making cavities created by larger woodpeckers ideal. Since leading their fledglings overland to water is awkward, nesting usually occurs close to the water, unlike woodies that may nest up to a quarter-mile or more inland. These animated little birds are quite long-lived with individuals surviving ten years or more. Furthermore, breeding productivity is quite good nowadays since hoodies have adapted to man-made boxes for nesting. Regardless, seeing hooded mergansers in the warmer months in the Sandhills or Piedmont is quite a treat indeed! OH Susan would love to receive your wildlife sightings and photos at susan@ncaves.com. May 2020

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The Art & Soul of Greensboro


Wandering Billy

Feline Fine Cat Scratch and Cabin Fever

By Billy Eye “Adversity is the state in which man most easily becomes acquainted with himself, being especially free of admirers then.” — John Wooden

Due to recent unpleasantness, Wan-

dering Billy’s ability to meander around town has been severely curtailed. I’m sure you’ve heard about the situation, it was in all the newspapers. Not long before we were all sent to our rooms for someone else soiling the sofa, I gained something I never wanted but sure am glad to have — a roommate. A good friend of mine is going through a divorce, parachuting into my Fortress of Solitude just as the world went to hell in a ham biscuit. Now we’re living a never-ending episode of The Odd Couple — two Oscars, no Felix. I’ve been living alone for almost 20 years, happily so. Despite knowing my friend (no names, don’t want to embarrass anyone) for at least 15 years, we don’t have a lot in common. He’s 25 years younger than I am, lead singer for a punk band, so we spend evenings listening to musicians with names

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

like Jimmy Eat World, Spanish Love Songs, Tiny Moving Parts and The Jealous Sound. My nights DJ’ing lean more towards Sarah Vaughan, Dinah Washington, Nina Simone, Ella and Frank, and we get along great. My roommate possesses that millennial superpower allowing him to thoroughly and completely tune out anything I’m saying whenever there’s a device in front of him — mental social distancing I call it. Some people might find that rude but I find it refreshing(ly rude). No joke, he’s a bit stressed being employed at one of those “essential” jobs, making sofas at a large plant where a good percentage of the workers think the virus is a total hoax, a media concoction, refusing to wash hands or use the Purell stations. At home it’s not much better: My roomie has to navigate the halls with my mean cat whose name is either Good Kitty or Bad Kitty, depending. That crabby tabby’s not at all happy with someone else invading his domain, distracting his slave. Kitty barely tolerates me, and only when he wants something. I know this because he’s very verbal possessing an impressive vocabulary when it comes to expressing displeasure, usually when I’m not dishing out his Fancy Feast fast enough. At least he lets me pick him up now. When I first rescued that furry fussbudget he’d scratch and bite my forearms so ferociously, it looked like I’d held someone down to drown them as they clawed for their life. But I love him all the same. May 2020

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REASONS TO REMODEL #21

Wandering Billy

DRINKS IN GARDEN    THE   

Another challenge for my roommate is me being somewhat of a hypochondriac. Can you imagine worse timing? Anytime I see some new       disorder advertised on TV I think, “I’ve got that!â€?    My blurry vision could be the result of too many hours staring into a computer but more likely    I’m having a stroke right now; my aching bones  Â?Â?Â?Â? ­€Â?Â?  undoubtedly caused by post-menopausal osteoporosis. Whatever Ozempic is prescribed for, I need ‚ƒ„…  Design | Remodel | Transform it. (“Oh, oh, oh it’s magic!â€? Really? Pop a pill for a little magic in my life? Won’t be the first time . . . paging Dr. Greene!) Like others of a certain age, I spent a good number of years believing Armageddon was right around the corner: Duck-and-cover drills in elementary school, neighbors with underground fallout shelters, Ronald Reagan, now sheltering in place for the latest doomsday scenario. When this upheaval began, my roommate wanted to stock up on steaks, chicken and chops, but I said there’s no need when we’ve got so many squirrels, rabbits, possums, even a plump hoot owl, roaming around the property. With great-grandmama’s cookbook, we’ll never run out of food. I say that in jest because that might actually be preferable to our suppertime fare. Over the last few weeks, I’ve been watching YouTube videos attempting to learn how to cook. The smoke detector has to be relocated outside before I begin, but lately we’ve been dining on exotic dishes like beef bourguignon, coq au vin, tom kha gai, fettuccine Bolognese, and Cracker Barrel Hashbrown Casserole. It sure sounds as if we’re going to have a delish meal but if I hear, “Are we getting a dog or is Even Even in in uncertain uncertain times times feel feel secure secure knowing knowing your your that tonight’s dinner?â€? one more time, I’ll scream. financial the financial plan plan remains remains the same. same. Even in uncertain times feel secure knowing yourSeriously, it’s important to remember that ONST here to protect your future and the Even infinancial uncertain times feel secure knowing your ONST is istimes here tosecure protect your futureplan and the remains the same. Even in uncertain feel knowing your every societal disruption unleashes a wealth of oplegacy for your loved ones. Even in uncertain times feelremains secure knowing your is financial plan remains the same. ONST here to protect your future and the financial plan the same. legacythe for your ONST lovedisones. portunity. For entertainers who lost their regular financial plan remains same. here to protect your future and the ONST is here to protect your future and the legacy for your loved ones. ONST is herelegacy to protect your future and the performance venues for the first time since the legacy for your loved ones. for your loved ones. GREENVILLE | LEXINGTON GREENSBORO | WILMINGTON| GREENSBORO | WILMINGTON| GREENVILLE LEXINGTONGREENVILLE | LEXINGTON early days of the Internet, there’s a level playing legacy for your loved ones. GREENSBORO ||WILMINGTON| GREENSBORO | WILMINGTON| GREENVILLE | LEXINGTON GREENSBORO | WILMINGTON| GREENVILLE | LEXINGTON field: Network late-night stars are broadcasting 336-646-6678 | oldnorthstatetrust.com 336-646-6678 | oldnorthstatetrust.com GREENSBORO | WILMINGTON| 336-646-6678 GREENVILLE | LEXINGTON | oldnorthstatetrust.com 336-646-6678 | oldnorthstatetrust.com 336-646-6678 | oldnorthstatetrust.com 336-646-6678 | oldnorthstatetrust.com

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The Art & Soul of Greensboro


Wandering Billy from home just as local musicians like Jessica Mashburn and Craig Baldwin are, with comparable production values. Every Thursday night at 8 p.m., The Carolina Theatre hosts virtual open mic nights via Facebook for live hometown entertainment. I’ll probably start a Vlog. Human beings generally fear the unknown. How often I’ve whispered to the clouds, “I wish life would continue on just like this,” knowing it won’t. No matter why or when, change is inevitable and that’s a good thing, long-term. Still, uncertainty gnaws at the best of us. With this level of unprecedented unpredictability, to unlock the unknown I went to get my palm read but couldn’t go to a regular palm reader. I had to go to a psychic palm reader. How else would she see the lines in my hand through a blue latex glove? Then again, there are those who believe that all of life is written in The Book. If so, may I request an advanced copy please?!?

***

You’ve noticed pundits comparing contemporary events to 1918’s viral outbreak. Did you know Greensboro played a part in the nation’s recovery over a century ago? After Lunsford Richardson purchased the Porter and Tate Drugstore at 121 South Elm in 1890, he set about blending menthol and various oils with petroleum jelly to create what he called Richardson’s Croup and Pneumonia Cure Salve, eventually rebranded by son H. Smith Richardson as Vick’s VapoRub in 1912. When the Spanish flu epidemic erupted a few years later, VapoRub proved an effective means of opening nasal passages for those afflicted. Sales more than tripled. Greensboro’s VapoRub plant on Milton Street was churning out little blue jars of goo 24 hours a day to meet demand. It must not have been of much help for Richardson however. He died of pneumonia in 1919. When I was a kid in the 1960s, VapoRub hissing and misting from a humidifier was our family’s cure-all. I wonder now if that was partly because Vick’s was a local concoction? And lest we forget: Before becoming Lunsford Richardson’s epicenter for dozens of unique potions, liniments, syrups, and pills — the Porter and Tate Drugstore employed teenager William Sydney Porter, known today as short story master O.Henry. OH

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O.Henry 37


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May 2020 Nineteen Fourty Four [dancing the foxtrot] Memories surfaced, I saw my parents young and full of themselves. He an Army Air Force pilot. She a hostess at the USO. The sudden rushing realization of youth, impetuousness, and intention to make a difference in a world at war. Feeling grateful for this . . . this source of influence is deep in my bones. Dictates of the time flying into the future, together, flying in formation towards a life together Moving on as seeing them anew no longer as old: young, with all that vigor. No dementia any more, gone now they are dancing the foxtrot together to Benny Goodman. — Raymond Whitaker

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The Art & Soul of Greensboro


Woman of the Wild The retreat — and reach ­— of biologist Ann Berry Somers By Jim Dodson

“T

his is the place I love most,” says Ann Berry Somers, “because it’s where I do the thing I love most — to share and teach people about the Earth. There’s always something exciting going on down there in the pool, for instance. Let’s go have a look.” The place she means is a lovely ephemeral pool in the midst of a 24-acre forested vale of mature hickory and poplar trees off Church Street Extension. There, the longtime UNCG senior lecturer of biology and leading advocate for box turtles, reptiles and amphibians, has made her home in a passive solar house she helped build in 1984. On a spectacular spring morning, while much of the world is sheltering indoors due to the spread of a marauding killer virus, the wild birds of Ann Somers’ tidy forest are singing their avian hearts out as she sets off to find the elusive marbled salamander, North Carolina’s magnificent state salamander. “Better put on these boots and take one of these,” she advises her visitors, proffering black rubber wading boots and dip nets for exploring the boggy pool below the house. Setting off, she explains that at least one other species of salamander — the spotted salamander — has recently emerged from the egg stage and the larvae have been feeding

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

May 2020

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in the pool for days. There are four salamander species who depend on this wetland habitat. All four are listed as species of Management Concern due to habitat loss, making this restoration project even more important. “It’s really a race for them to transform into terrestrial phase before the water in the pool disappears, though if they’re lucky that won’t happen until May,” she elaborates, sloshing knee-deep to retrieve a series of minnow traps attached to empty plastic bottles. “By that point most will have absorbed their gills and be entirely adapted to land and will go underground or live deep in the leaf litter for several years before they return in the pool in order to reproduce years from now.” The abundant life in Ann Berry Somers’ ephemeral pool — also known as a vernal pool, a body of water that seasonally appears with spring rains and typically vanishes by summer — was given a major boost by a restoration project begun some eight years ago first with a veteran forester named Joe Kelleher who just happens to be Ann Somers’ first cousin. NC Wildlife Resources Commission herpetologist Jeff Hall and other of Ann’s colleagues from the NC Herpetological Society helped survey the pool and U.S. Fish and Wildlife biologist Laura Fogo helped come up with matching funds to do the modifications required to restore the hydrology according to a design created by Emeritus N.C. State hydro-engineer Greg Jennings. This team of professionals plus some of her UNCG student volunteers, she explains, collaborated on an innovative underground dam that required digging a 200-foot-long ditch that was 1-foot wide and 6-feet-deep. A curtain-

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wall was created using a thick pond liner. The liner prevented the annual spring pool, which relies on rainwater, from being absorbed too quickly by the surrounding forest of trees. Over the years, Cousin Joe’s job has been to selectively thin the trees in order to maintain the delicate balance of nature that provides just enough light and water to support this annual baby boom of amphibian and insect life. “This project never would have started without Joe,” Ann observes, leaning down to inspect a gelatinous green mass of algae floating on the tea-brown water beneath a patch of briars and fallen limbs, the signature of female salamanders at work. “Trees soak up a surprising amount of water, don’t they Joe?” Cousin Joe is already a couple dozen yards farther along the pool, checking traps by a downed poplar tree to see if there are any marbled salamanders on view. “Yes ma’am, that is the case!” he replies. “These trees can suck up 10,000 gallons of water per day in transpiration,” he adds with a booming laugh. “Got lots of marbled swimmers down here, by the way,” he cheerfully reports. Somers delicately lifts the gelatinous mass from the water with the care of a priest holding an infant. On closer inspection, she discovers a few tiny salamanders still working their way out of the egg mass toward the next stages of their evolution in the pond. “Oh, how nice! Come look,” she urges her companions. “There are still a few stragglers coming out of their egg stage! They’re rather late and I hope they make it before the water vanishes!” The Art & Soul of Greensboro


Life at every stage is a race for survival. “If I may ask,” says one of her rubber-booted visitors, “How do salamanders actually reproduce?” “Oh, it’s terribly exciting! It happens on a rainy night in late February when the temperature is above 55 degrees. The normally subterranean adult salamanders congress in the pool in a rite of spring frenzy of breeding activity that is one of the startling impressive events in the natural world. In the aquatic swarm, males lay tiny white sperm packets on the dead leaves in the water and court the females by nudging them to absorb the rice-sized packet into their bodies, which will fertilize their yolked eggs. Later, the females lay a gelatinous mass of eggs, around which symbiotic algae grows providing oxygen for the growing larvae until they are strong enough to emerge and feed in the pool.” Returning the egg mass gently to the surface of the pool, she chimes, “Good luck, little ones. We’re pulling hard for you!” She looks up and smiles. “My students love this sort of thing — especially the local kids . . . getting wet and dirty and learning about creatures they’ve never seen in the wild. Isn’t this fun?” It is indeed. And so is Ann Berry Somers who, at 68, is regarded as a leading environmental advocate and a passionate promoter of citizen-science, a woman who has dedicated her life to better understanding and preserving the vital The Art & Soul of Greensboro

role snakes, frogs, salamanders and turtles play in maintaining the fragile balance of life on Earth. Last year, the State of North Carolina showed its gratitude for her life’s work with a host of prestigious awards that reflect her stature as a true force of nature and woman of the wild. The prizes included NCWRC’s Thomas L. Quay Wildlife Diversity Award, a Distinguished Teaching Award in STEM Education from the North Carolina Association for Biomedical Research (NCABR), and the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Public Service. What explains her devotion to helping others learn to respect and appreciate these wild and typically unseen critters like the spotted salamander? “They are an important part of the web of life we share,” Somers answers with gusto as she sloshes on to where Cousin Joe has scooped up a dozen marbled swimmers. “What happens to salamanders and frogs and snakes can happen to other species — including us — if we don’t take care of the environment. These are creatures, in some cases, that have been on Earth longer than we have — we have fossils that are 30 million years old! We have only been around a few hundred thousand. To watch them suddenly disappear, to blink out one by one as pollution and loss of habitat alter the planet, is absolutely tragic and consequential,” she says, pausing. “The sad thing is, that it is happening all over the world at a more rapid rate than ever.” It’s passion like this that has inspired Ann Somers not only to teach a course on endangered sea turtles in Costa Rica for the past 25 years, but also to lead school groups and conservation-minded folks into the wild for May 2020

O.Henry 43


decades in order to learn about the importance of snakes and turtles and amphibians, to spread the gospels of conservation and environmentalism that are so near and dear to her heart. Last year, for example, the woman who found the last threatened bog turtle in Forsyth County back in 1991 — a gentle species that once flourished in these parts — grew so keenly interested in vanishing coral reefs, she organized a course with her UNCG students to Little Cayman Island. There they donned scuba gear and learned about the environmental crisis facing ocean reefs up close and personal. “We had our class picture taken underwater,” she points out with a laugh. That experience in part inspired her to help organize a conference for the NC Wildlife Federation called the Ocean Advocacy Workshop that was originally scheduled for this same spring morning at UNCWilmington — only to be postponed for a year due to the pandemic. “Ironically, one of the interesting things that’s happened because of this crisis is the positive effect it has had on some aspects of the environment. With so many airplanes and cars idle, the air is noticeably cleaner, the skies clearer across the world, pollution way down in places,” Somers observes. “In Venice, I understand, the canals have cleared and dolphins have once again been spotted. Maybe we should pay attention to how fast things can

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get better if we would just let up on the constant pressure we put on nature, if we would just listen and hear the difference in a quieter world.” She adds, “It’s not just about saving turtles.” But to be clear, turtles do matter to Ann Berry Somers. Twelve years ago, in partnership with state parks and private landowners, Somers spearheaded the creation of something called the Box Turtle Connection, an innovative volunteer project aimed at collecting data on vanishing native turtle populations, including threats and conditions affecting box turtles in the wild. Today, the program boasts 32 different turtle-monitoring projects ongoing across the state. “It’s designed to go for 100 years and outlive everyone currently enrolled in order to educate the next generations of scientists. Some of the turtles we are marking will be found by the next generations, they live that long,” she notes, leading her guests out of the ephemeral pool into a meadow where sheets of discarded tin roofing repose in weedy places near what appears to be a large pile of winter damage. Flat sheets of roofing tin lying about, one learns, are designed to attract snakes for use in her popular classroom programs. The pile of limbs and brush she calls her “Miracle Brush Pile” because it’s home to dozens of species ranging from snakes to birds, box turtles to small mammals. “You wouldn’t believe the diversity in there.” The Art & Soul of Greensboro


She carefully lifts up several pieces of tin but finds no snakes in residence for the moment, only a young skink making a hasty retreat. With a pleasant smile, she proposes, “Shall we go see the graveyard? It’s just a 20-second walk up the hill behind the house.”

I

n a sense, Ann Berry Somers was destined to be a champion for the endangered lives of bog turtles, spotted salamanders and redbellied snakes. For like those creatures, her connection to the Earth is deep and ancestral, an essential part of her family DNA. She and Cousin Joe — not to mention 51 other Berry cousins — hail from a large and celebrated Greensboro family that has made no small contribution to the preservation of the Earth. In 1924, Nathan William Berry started a coal company called Berico in Greensboro. Pop Berry and wife Elizabeth lived on Colonial Avenue and had 13 children. In 1942, Elizabeth Berry was named “Mother of the Year” and feted at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York City, where her name is displayed on a plaque today. When asked by a reporter how she managed to raise 13 children who were so accomplished, she famously replied, “Wholesome neglect.” This was the Berry matriarch’s code for “allowing her children to follow their own hearts and instincts in life, to explore and learn in the natural world,” explains Cousin Joe, who points out some of the significant things the Berry siblings accomplished. Aunt Merse, No. 2 in the succession, became a nun with the Daughters of Charity and managed several hospitals in Bolivia. Sons Joe and Jim became outstanding aviators in WWII. Child No. 3 was named for his papa, William Nathan Berry. He grew up to become a Roman Catholic priest, taking the name “Thomas” after the The Art & Soul of Greensboro

influential philosopher Thomas Aquinas. Thomas Berry became a religious scholar who wrote several books about Asian religions and started the Riverdale Center for Religious Research in Riverdale, New York. The world remembers him today as the priest-turned-environmental-sage whose awakening and influential writings on the imperiled Earth were an early call to humanity to save nature in order to save itself. Berry’s groundbreaking lectures and books launched a generation of inspired environmentalists interested in the nexus of religion, human evolution and nature. Considered one of the leading thinkers in the modern environmental movement in America, Berry honored his vow of poverty, humbly referring to himself as a “geologian.” Ann Somers’ daddy was Joe Berry, the ninth child in the sequence. Cousin Joe Kelleher’s mama, Teresa, was tenth. Teresa named her son after Uncle Joe, who eventually took over running Berico Fuels from his father and moved wife Jean and their seven children — Ann among them — to a house on a lake on Four Farms Road near Horse Pen Creek. “It was kind of a log house and magical for all the Berry cousins,” recalls Joe Kelleher. “Ann’s daddy had a rope in his living room and when we cousins came out on summer Sundays, the first thing we had to do was climb the rope.” Next? “Cleaning Uncle Joe’s pigeon coop. Then we swam out to a pier in the lake.” Kelleher recalls that his Uncle Joe taught them how to shoot guns safely and encouraged them to explore the outdoors. “That usually meant getting lost in the woods but we always found our way back,” he says. “The woods were where the Well-Spring [Retirement] community sits today. It was a glorious way to grow up.” Ann Berry had hoped to become a psychologist after finishing undergraduate studies at Villanova University, but that was not to be, so she applied for a job no woman ever had ever sought, as a lake warden for the City of Greensboro — guardian of lakes Higgins, Brandt and Townsend.

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“Looking back, it was a great job because it tapped into something in my makeup from childhood, a love of nature and life in the wild.” After she graduated from Appalachian State with her Master of Science degree in Biology in 1980, Distinguished Professor Bob Gatten, then head of the Biology Department at UNCG, recruited her to join the faculty and she has been there ever since. Recently she has also become the associate director of the Environment and Sustainability Program at the university. About 35 years ago, she and then-husband George Somers built the house Ann designed in the forest off Church Street Extension, where they raised two sons, Noah and Abe. Leading the way up a short path to a historic cemetery once belonging to the Heath and Smith family, some of its gravestones date to the early 1800s. Ann’s restoration efforts have included removing limbs, small trees and setting upright some long ago fallen grave markers. Four newer memorial stones stand prominently as one approaches the site. One belongs to her Aunt Margaret, who died at age 100 last year. Two others remember a nephew and granddaughter who died in their youth. The fourth is a memorial stone to Thomas Berry, whom the family affectionately called “Uncle Brother.” Its inscription reads: With love and gratitude for Uncle Brother, Father Thomas Berry, scholar, wisdom teacher, mentor, friend. Earth is the maternal source whence we come, to which we return. Both Ann and Cousin Joe enjoyed close relationships with “Uncle Brother.” During the 1970s when Joe attended Holy Cross in Massachusetts, The Art & Soul of Greensboro

he frequently stopped to visit Thomas Berry at his spiritual retreat at Riverdale, and once spent a week helping Uncle Brother restore his residence on the property. “He was so drawn to rocks and rivers and such, I once asked him about animals that were going extinct everywhere in the world and what we were supposed to do about that? He looked at me and replied, ‘My job is to get you to think about it. Your job is to fix it!’ That was Uncle Brother!” Joe says with his booming laugh. “That was exactly what he said,” agrees Cousin Ann. “That was the message.” When Thomas Berry retired from public life in 1994 and moved home to Greensboro’s Well-Spring Retirement Community — built in the former woods where the Berry Cousins explored the natural world — Ann Berry and Uncle Brother met and talked weekly; and she has dozens of composition books full of notes about their conversations. Thomas Berry passed away on June 1, 2009. He was 94. The rotunda of the Kathleen Clay Edwards Family Branch Library contains a beautiful poem by Thomas Berry called “A Child Awakens to the Universe.” “I think about our conversations a lot these days,” Ann admits as she and Joe walk back down the hill to her house. She glances up at the trees just exploding with spring green, alive with life, promise, birdsong. “Uncle Brother believed we are evolving as a species. I’m hopeful that is true. That the lessons we could learn from this current crisis may be an awakening, if only we would listen.” OH

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For next year’s 250th anniversary of the Battle of Alamance, the Regulators get their due as early sons of liberty Story and Photographs By David Claude Bailey

wo-hundred-and-fifty-two years ago, two of Ted Henson’s ancestors signed a petition complaining about unjust taxes, exorbitant fees and rampant corruption of Colonial officials — with no idea that they — and everybody else who made their mark or signed similar petitions — would be branded outlaws as members of the Regulator movement. Later, two petitioners were summarily executed, others were apprehended by Gov. William Tryon’s provincial government and marched all about the countryside in chains before six of their number were hanged by the neck until dead in the courthouse square in Hillsborough. “They were not revolutionaries,” Henson, a former teacher and retired school administrator, insists. “They said again and again that they were not

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trying to overthrow the British government. What they wanted was to put regulations in place to make things fairer for the people,” he tells anyone who will listen to him whenever he dresses up in Colonial-era, backcountry garb at re-enactments. Henson assumes the fiery character of Rednap Howell — an itinerant schoolteacher and balladeer who became one of the leaders of a group of backcountry farmers. Their ragtag movement came to a calamitous and bloody end just across what is now the Guilford County line at Alamance Battlefield — a full decade before America’s Revolutionary War. “I am very proud of the fact that my ancestors were willing to take a stand against what they perceived as unjust practices in the government,” Henson says, fixing his listener with his piercing hazel eyes. Heeding a call from the The Art & Soul of Greensboro


FIVE-DOLLAR BILL OF CREDIT, 1775; CK123.1; NORTH CAROLINA COLLECTION NUMISMATIC COLLECTION, UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA AT CHAPEL HILL. GOVERNOR WILLIAM TRYON, AND HIS ADMINISTRATION IN THE PROVINCE OF NORTH CAROLINA, 1765-1771... WILSON SPECIAL COLLECTIONS LIBRARY, UNC-CHAPEL HILL.

Tryon Palace, home of Governor Tryon Colonial government was starved for funds in the aftermath of the French distant past, he has become the Regulators’ unofficial apologist, determined to and Indian War. Adding to the burden was the ongoing cost of Governor set the record straight, especially as the 250th anniversary of the battle draws Tryon’s extravagant Palace in New Bern. When completed, it was the most near with a re-enactment and educational programs planned for next year. expensive house in all of Colonial America — a regal edifice Regulators How does he respond to the descendants of Loyalists, who viewed complained they would never even see. But at the very heart of the conflict Regulators as nothing short of ignorant and uneducated hayseeds — terrorwas the almost systemized corruption ists, in fact, who took the law into in the collection of taxes and fees. their own hands? “They tried for a “There were no posted courthouse number of years to get regulations fees or tax rates, leaving a lot of room placed on the local officials,” he says. for corruption,” says Henson. Sheriffs “I think the Regulators were pushed were responsible for collecting taxes, into a corner and had no choice and no less than Josiah Martin, North but to fight back.” When petition Carolina’s last Colonial governor, after petition and repeated court admitted that sheriffs would collect suits failed to make any substantial “Double, Treble, nay even Quadruple changes, “Their frustration boiled the value of the Tax.” over into armed conflict,” he says. Perhaps equally chafing to the Unlike the Founding Fathers, who Regulators, many of whom were were inspired by Classical ideals of Baptists, Presbyterians and other sects democracy to challenge Britain’s that came to the Colony seeking relimonarchy, “the Regulators were gious freedom, was a vestry tax levied fighting for survival rather than any to support the Church of England. high principals,” Henson says. To heap insult upon injury, marriages Though their grievances had 1775, five dollar note with Tryon Palace in left corner performed outside the auspices of the been festering for some time, they Anglican Church were not recognized reached fever pitch in August of as official. Finally, taxes and fees had to be paid in cash rather than by bar1766 when Regulators presented North Carolina’s Colonial assembly with ter. Scarceness of currency, especially in the backcountry, resulted in shertheir Advertisement Number One. Its complaints centered on what would iffs’ regularly seizing chattel, property and land to pay taxes. This “tripped become a call to arms a decade later — taxation without representation. The The Art & Soul of Greensboro

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the wire of farmers’ anger and became a major Regulator target,” according to Shuttle & Plow, the definitive history of Alamance County. In April 1768, 70 Regulators mobbed Hillsborough to reclaim a horse that had been seized by the sheriff for nonpayment of taxes. In retaliation, the Regulators seized the sheriff, mounted him backwards on his horse and marched him through town. For good measure, they shot a few holes through the roof of the house belonging to one Edmund Fanning, the commander of the Colonial militia. A month later, when two of their number were arrested, 1,500 Regulators massed around Hillsborough. When Fanning tried to get them to disperse, he was publicly humiliated. Up to that point it might have seemed like good backcountry fun, but not to Fanning or the Crown. In June of 1768, Regulator Advertisement Number Nine, the one Henson’s relatives signed, was presented by Howell and a co-conspirator with 474 signatures. A lot of back and forth ensued, with the Regulators refusing to pay their taxes. Mobs became frequent with 3,700 Regulators gathering for another court session in September. In response, Tryon marshaled 1,500 militiamen to protect the court. Admittedly, Tryon did officially admonish corrupt officials, but at the same time he ordered Regulators not to “molest” them. Spiraling into increasing violence and open disregard for the law, the Regulators mobbed Hillsborough when court was held in 1770, interrupting the session and demanding that their indicted leaders be tried immediately, with a newly formed jury. Forget about the jury duly chosen by justices of the peace. They considered it stacked. According to the presiding judge who fled the scene, the Regulators “severely whipped” four of their foes, including the clerk of the court and a justice of the peace. They also entered the courtroom and hauled Fanning from the bench, dragging him out of court by the heels and unmercifully beating him before he escaped. “They tore Fanning’s house down wall by wall and scattered his papers to the wind,” Henson says. When the assembly met for the first time in Tryon Palace in 1771, Tryon was so worried that Regulators would burn down his new home he called up the militia and had a trench dug between the Neuse and Trent rivers. The legislature enacted the “Johnston Riot Act” (later ruled unconstitutional by no less than the Privy Council) — authorizing force against any group of 10 or more people who did not disband within an hour of when the act was read aloud — which occasioned the phrase “reading the riot act.” It retroactively made almost anyone who had ever been associated with the movement an outlaw and authorized the governor to use the militia to put down the Regulator revolt. It also declared anyone who resisted or fled an outlaw. Ultimately, the Privy Council declared the act “full of danger . . . and unfit for any part of the British Empire” — but not before it had been used to justify and mount the Battle of Alamance. When 2,000 Regulators, only half with guns, gathered in a show of force, Tryon mustered 1,000 militiamen — Colonists, not British soldiers — who massed on the banks of Alamance Creek near the present-day town of Alamance, just south of Burlington. On May 16, 1771 — 250 years ago next year — the two sides locked in battle. Unlike much of the other history surrounding the Regulators, accounts of the battle are numerous (and often conflicting). Fans of

GOVERNOR TRYON AND THE REGULATORS, IN THE BRUCE COTTEN IMAGE COLLECTION #P0005, NORTH CAROLINA COLLECTION PHOTOGRAPHIC ARCHIVES, THE WILSON LIBRARY, UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA AT CHAPEL HILL

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Henson with a cannon used by the Militia against the Regulators

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GOVERNOR WILLIAM TRYON, AND HIS ADMINISTRATION IN THE PROVINCE OF NORTH CAROLINA, 1765-1771... WILSON SPECIAL COLLECTIONS LIBRARY, UNC-CHAPEL HILL.

warfare can seek them out. One highlight includes Tryon’s own militiamen reportedly refusing to fire on what, to some, were their neighbors — to which Tryon responded, “Fire on them or fire on me.” By some accounts, Tryon himself shot one of the negotiators who tried to flee the scene. He is also reported to have summarily executed one of the prisoners after the battle. Crucial to the outcome of the battle was Tryon’s use of artillery. He brought not only cannons with him but also a detachment of sailors from Wilmington who could expertly aim and fire their six carriage-mounted swivel guns and two three-pounder cannons. Carole Watterson Troxler in her exhaustive Farming Dissenters quotes what a Moravian diarist heard from a Regulator only days after the battle: “The most important point seemed to be that the terrible cannonading of the Governor’s troops had badly frightened the Regulators, who had thrown down their arms and run, even leaving their hats and coats.” “Gov. Tryon and his militia had a plan and executed it. The Regulators’ plan was ‘You’re all free men. Do what you think you have to,’” Henson says. When the cannon smoke cleared a scant two-and-a-half hours later, the Regulators had been routed, many of them fleeing helter-skelter, leaving their guns and other possessions behind them. By the official account, only nine Colonial militiamen died in action. Other estimates claim, at least twice that number of Regulators were killed, with something like 100 wounded. Though many Regulators fled beyond the reach of the Colonial government, those who didn’t were required to sign an oath, swearing alThe Art & Soul of Greensboro

legiance to the Crown. About 6,000 did so. What may seem at first surprising is that only a few years later, former Regulators took up arms against the Revolutionary “Patriots” who fought the British in 1776 — honoring their oath to the Crown. (Two of Henson’s descendants fought for the Patriots, another for the British.) A month before the armies of Lord Cornwallis and General Nathanael Greene squared off at Guilford Courthouse in 1781, former Regulator John Pyle led a group of Loyalists against Greene’s Southern Army. Under the command of Col. Henry “Light Horse Harry” Lee and Gen. Andrew Pickens, the unit so thoroughly surprised Pyle’s men near the Haw River that the encounter is now known as Pyle’s Massacre. Henson’s alter ego, Rednap Howell (to whom he is not related), was of course branded an outlaw, wanted dead or alive. He fled first to Maryland and then New Jersey. Next year, two-and-a-half centuries after the battle, Henson will suit up, tune his dulcimer and channel a ballad that Rednap wrote: “When Fanning first to Orange came/ Both man and horse won’t worth five pounds/ But by his civil robberies/ as I’ve been often told/ He’s laced his coat with gold.” Says Henson, “These men did not die in vain. Many of the demands they made would be written into the Constitution of the United States. I believe we owe them respect and gratitude for all they did for us.” OH David Claude Bailey lives about a mile down the road from Alamance Battlefield, where he walks amidst the now peaceful woods. May 2020

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Reviving a Soulful Sound

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A scruffy old guitar finds its voice again By Stephen E. Smith Photographs by John Koob Gessner

The Art & Soul of Greensboro


’I ll bet

you’re nagged by a furtive longing to possess something that’s impractical. Maybe it’s Aunt Amelia’s Tiffany brooch or Granddad Ralph’s ’49 Mercury sedan. In my case, it’s always been a Stahl Style 6 guitar made by the Larson brothers of Chicago. Whatever the object, we know this: If we search long enough and can shell out the cash, we’re likely to get what we want. This is America; we invented conspicuous consumption. Inspired by what comedian Martin Mull dubbed “The Great Folk Music Scare,” I bought my first guitar, a digit-mangling Kay archtop, in August 1961, from a pawn shop on West Street in Annapolis, Maryland. I was a rising eighth-grader and paid $15 I’d received for my birthday. Every Saturday that fall, I toted my caseless Kay to St. John’s College campus, where I sat under the last surviving Liberty Tree (on the very spot where patriots plotted the Revolution) and strummed “Goodnight, Irene” ad nauseam with five or six honest-to-God beatniks. On one of those cool autumn afternoons, a Maynard G. Krebs character handed me his guitar and said, “Here, give this a try.” I strummed a G chord, one of the three I’d mastered. “Wow!” I said. The proud owner beamed. “Plays like silk and chimes, like a chorus of seraphim,” he said. “What kind of guitar is this?” I asked. “It’s a Stahl 6,” he replied. When I got home, I had to look up “seraphim” in the dictionary, but I knew in my bones what a Stahl guitar was. For most of the 60-plus years that have slipped by since that autumn afternoon, I never happened upon a Stahl Style 6 I could afford. If I were a more accomplished player, I might have been willing to shell out $7,000 to $14,000 for a pristine original-condition Stahl, but alas . . . And then, eight months ago, a Stahl Style 6 materialized on my computer screen — and it was for sale at a reasonable price! The rub: It was in sad — very sad — condition. The seller listed it as “Non Functioning,” noting that the Stahl was a “Luthier Project” afflicted with a “Non Original Bridge, Non Original Tuners, No Pins, Back Cracks with washboarding” — and an all-too-ominous caution that the guitar would need “some finish work.” But the center strip was clearly branded “WM. G. STAHL/MAKER/MILWAUKEE” (a lie, since the guitar was made in Chicago by the Larson brothers) and 95 percent of the instrument was there. I asked the seller a few pointed questions, made a reasonable offer, and PayPaled him the money. Four days later the UPS man delivered a big box that The Art & Soul of Greensboro

I ripped into with, I admit, adolescent gusto. At this point in the typical restoration epic, buyer’s remorse sets in. What have I gotten myself into? the new owner asks. But I wasn’t in the least bothered by the Stahl’s condition — not at first. The seller had been reasonably honest — everything he said was wrong was wrong — but with each careful inspection I noticed flaws he’d failed to mention. The fingerboard extension was bent — not broken, thank goodness, but obviously sigogglin — the bridge (which anchors the strings to the body) wasn’t a correct Larson brothers’ flattened pyramid type and it was glued in the wrong location, the peghead overlay was damaged, the frets needed attention, binding was missing at the bottom of the fingerboard, the 3-on-plate Kluson knockoff tuners were flat-out annoying — and worst of all, some idiot with a paint roller had applied two gallons of runny gloppy gooey polyurethane or other superfluous substance to the guitar’s body, the front, back and sides. And that didn’t include earlier overspray of shellac, lacquer and varnish that had melted into the polyurethane — a deal-breaker for any vintage guitar collector, since original finishes are necessary to produce the instrument’s authentic sound.

C

ollectors argue endlessly about original finishes vs. restored. You’ve probably seen those Picker guys on the History Channel who love “rusty gold” and “the look” or the erudite appraiser on Antiques Roadshow who says, “In original condition this Philadelphia dressing table would be worth half a million dollars but since you refinished it, it’s worth seventy-five bucks. Maybe.” And that’s how it is with vintage guitars. But I’m not a vintage guitar collector. I simply wanted to play the guitar, and to do that I needed to have the polyurethane removed. Poly finishes dampen sound and I had a lot of it on the Stahl, which meant that the guitar had reached a point in its checkered life where it was up or out. I might have relisted it on an auction site and gotten my money back, but I was determined not to sell or trash my latest acquisition. I was in possession of a rare Larson brothers Stahl Style 6 serial number 27022 (a numeral not based on production numbers), which meant the instrument was 100 years old! Who knows where it had been and the stories it could tell? Guitars, like their owners, have their own DNA and quirky personalities. How valuable are Larson instruments? Consider this: A 1937 Larson-built Euphonon dreadnought recently listed on the Reverb for $64,500. Ouch! (If you’re interested in Larson instruments, I suggest you read The Larson Brothers’ Creations, by Robert Carl Hartman, or John Thomas’ excellent article in issue #15 of Fretboard Journal.) May 2020

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What I needed was someone — the right someone — to save my Stahl Style 6. I’d heard that it’s possible, under unique circumstances, to remove a secondary finish while preserving the original surface. I got on the phone and chatted with luthiers in Wilmington, the Raleigh-Durham area, Charlotte and the Triad, and settled on Bob Rigaud (pronounced “rego”) in Greensboro. Bob is a world-class builder, a luthier whose guitars are comparable to those of the Larsons. Seven years ago, he built for me a New Moon koa tenor ukulele, a high-quality, handmade instrument that sings with a surprisingly mellow, resonant voice, and he’s supplied instruments for many A-list performers, most recently Graham Nash, who travels with his Rigaud parlor guitar and uses it to compose new music. More important, Bob has a reputation as a superlative repairman. A few years ago, “Steady-Rollin” Bob Margolin, Muddy Waters’ longtime sideman, stopped in Bob’s shop to have an old Gibson L-00 repaired. I was curious about Margolin’s experience with Bob, so I emailed him. He replied: “Bob fixed my mid-’30s Gibson L-00. He checked it out and knew exactly what to do. He told me the guitar would come back better than I could imagine and it did. Big admiration for Bob.” Margolin was so impressed with the sound of his Gibson, he went directly to a studio and recorded the CD This Guitar and Tonight, a ragged, in-your-face acoustic outing in which the old L-00 vibrates like the blues bucket it is. Bob had also repaired two of my guitars, one a Larson-built student-grade Maurer that required delicate finish work, which he accomplished flawlessly. He also sealed multiple cracks, back and front, and made them disappear. Better yet, he left most of the original French polish intact. So in late May I drove to Greensboro and handed my Stahl to Bob. He was busily at work on three new guitars — always his first passion — but his face brightened as his eyes ran over the damage wrought on my Larson by time and abuse. “I can fix this,” Bob said. “I can make it sing again.” Bob Rigaud is possessed of a gregariousness purely borne of enthusiasm. His life is guitars, and he delights in every aspect of building and repairing instruments and hearing them sing. We sat in his modest workshop and talked for two hours. His hands fluttered like birdwings as he pointed out myriad flaws I’d failed to notice and explained in detail how he’d approach correcting each imperfection. “Can you fix the finish problems and make the washboarding and back cracks disappear?” I asked. He was uncharacteristically succinct. “I can,” he said, smiling. The Stahl was in his hands. Brimming with faith and high hopes, I drove back to Southern Pines and waited. And waited. June came and went. On the last Saturday in July, I traveled from High Point to Bob’s workshop to check out the progress he’d made on my guitar. The old Stahl was laid out like a cadaver on his workbench, the fingerboard taped off. And miracle of miracles, most of the poly finish had been removed and much of the original French polish seemed to be intact. The washboarding was gone without a trace, as were the many back cracks and a small hole I’d somehow overlooked. The once-mangled Brazilian rosewood back had been restored to its original glory. “How did you repair the back so perfectly?” I asked. “I flattened the wood and sealed the cracks with an epoxy I tinted with rosewood sawdust.” But there was still much work to complete, including the peghead overlay, the replacement bridge, and the angle problems with the fingerboard extension. I left satisfied but anxious to have the Stahl back home. August, September, October and November passed, and I was content to have Bob work at his own speed. But in early December, my friend Craig Fuller of Pure Prairie League and Little Feat fame drove me to Bob’s workshop. Bob, always the perfect host, showed us the guitars he was building, and Craig and I examined the Stahl in detail. It was close to being complete: a new, handcrafted bridge with inlays was temporarily applied, a beautiful peghead overlay was in place, and new Stewmac Golden Age reproduction tuners were installed, but the frets still needed

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Guitar back: restored on the bottom, original condition on the top

Bob Rigaud

work and touch-up finishing was left to accomplish. I’d hoped that Craig, who’s played more guitars better than I ever will, might try out the completed Stahl and give me his opinion, but Bob was still struggling to correct the intonation, the key to ensuring that a guitar sounds as good as it possibly can. “I’ve never repaired a Larson guitar that had the correct intonation,” Bob observed. On January 22, 2020 my phone rang; the Stahl was ready for me to take possession. “I’m proud of it,” Bob said. I stepped into his workshop at 9:30 the following morning. And there it was, my 1920 Larson brothers Stahl Style 6 guitar resurrected. I picked it up, strummed a fat G chord and felt an instant synaptic connection: I remembered the sweet sound — the sustain, the purity of voice — that had amazed me all those years before. It played like silk and chimed like a chorus of seraphim. It had the mojo and “the look.” Bob smiled but said nothing. He didn’t need to. He absolutely understood how I felt. He was feeling it too. “I loved working on this guitar,” Bob said. “When I was regluing the internal braces — which, by the way, are all maple, not spruce — I could see evidence of August Larson’s work, and I felt like I was having a conversation with him all these years later. A hundred years from now maybe some other luthier working on this guitar will be having a conversation with me.” “You don’t have to reveal any trade secrets,” I said, “but how did you save so much of the original finish?” “Sense of smell,” Bob explained. “As I take down the finishes, I can smell The Art & Soul of Greensboro

them and after all these years of working on guitars, I can pretty much tell you what the finish is and when it was applied. When I got to the French polish, it gave off a very distinct smell. That’s when I stopped.” Great luthiers are the real guitar heroes. I play the Stahl every day now. It’s my musical soul mate. I know I’ll never be a great musician. And that’s fine. The process of learning guitar continues to unfold for me. I like it that way. Was resurrecting the Stahl worth the time, money and effort? Was it merely an attempt to recapture my youth? What I can tell you is that my Larson guitar testifies that a tradition honored 100 years ago is adhered to still with patience and pride. I’ll be passing the Stahl along someday, and isn’t the past always present in the hope we have in the future? My Stahl Style 6 sits in my guitar room next to a Liberty Tree guitar made from the wood of the tulip poplar I sat under on St. John’s campus all those years ago. Hurricane Floyd roared through Annapolis in 1999 and fatally damaged the 400-year-old tree. Taylor guitars purchased the wood and built 400 fancy instruments. It’s strikes me as wholly appropriate that my Stahl and the Liberty Tree sit side by side. After all, something so complete has a beauty all its own. OH Stephen E. Smith is a retired professor and the author of seven books of poetry and prose. He’s the recipient of the Poetry Northwest Young Poet’s Prize, the Zoe Kincaid Brockman Prize for poetry and four North Carolina Press Awards.

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Sydney Foley (seated) and Emma Legg of Kindred Interior Studios

A wave of bold color transforms a Burlington kitchen

PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY OF MICHAEL BLEVINS/MB PRODUCTIONS

By Maria Johnson

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heir nest may be empty, and roomy for two, but Allison and Eddie Gant are staying put. Even though their children are grown and gone, the Gants — he’s 58, she’s 55 — plan to remain in their two-story brick Colonial home in west Burlington. Their reasons are many — architectural, emotional, financial, logistical. Their master bedroom is on the first floor, a layout conducive to aging in place. Their home, which they’ve occupied since 1999, holds treasured memories of their children, Olivia and Edmund, growing up there. The location is convenient to other family members; Eddie’s parents and Allison’s siblings live nearby. The 3,800-square-foot residence is paid for. The Art & Soul of Greensboro

And not least of all, the Gants are attached to the place they’ve lavished with love and work for the last 20 years. “This house really reflects who I am with the design and the decorating,” says Allison, a professional dance instructor who serves as chairwoman of the Alamance-Burlington Board of Education. Eddie works for Shawmut Corp., which bought part of Glen Raven Inc., the textile company founded by Eddie’s family. Eddie still sits on the Glen Raven board of directors, and he and Allison are active in church and civic organizations. They’re deeply entrenched in their community, and in their home, where they love to entertain. But just because they’re sticking around doesn’t mean they want their home to stay stuck in time. Room by room, they’ve been updating upholstery, paint, hardware and acMay 2020

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cessories over the last several years. Last summer, they focused on the kitchen, which they’d spruced up 10 years before. “It was just really tired and ready for a complete refresh,” says Allison. “I wanted to bring it into the 21st century.” To help, she called in Emma Legg and Sydney Foley of Greensboro’s Kindred Interior Studios. The duo, both 32, became friends when they were interior design students at High Point University. Each worked for other design shops before joining forces. They’d helped the Gants with smaller projects, and the Gants liked the way the young designers understood and applied their tastes. Emma and Sydney believed they could continue to capture the couple’s essence, especially Allison’s love of boisterous colors. “I’m not a beige girl,” Allison confirms. As for her husband, Allison says, “He’s gracious enough to live with what I choose.” For this project, Allison picked a bright teal backsplash that leaps out against newly pale cabinets and walls. The old backsplash, done with 1-inch tile squares, contained some teal accents, along with nips of brown to tie into brown granite counters, but it packed nothing like the aquamarine punch of the new backsplash, which comThe Art & Soul of Greensboro

prises several shades of the color. “You have your showstoppers,” explains designer Emma, alluding to the new turquoise wall and an island that repeats the color. “In order for those to shine, we kept everything else neutral.” To stay within the budget, all parties agreed they would stick with the kitchen’s L-shaped footprint — no walls would be added or removed — and they chose to preserve the cabinet boxes, as well as the island. They also agreed not to change the location of lighting fixtures. “There was some construction, but it was minimal,” says Emma. “It was in between a cosmetic and gutted-to-the-studs renovation.” The upgrade was managed by general contractor Kevin Reeves of J&K Builders of NC, based in High Point. The renovation involved a cabinetmaker building an “appliance garage” around what had been a catch-all desk incorporated into a wall of light brown cabinetry. The “mom desk,” as Sydney calls it, was original to the 1988 home. It served as a workbench for the tools of family life: mail, papers, purses, pens and Allison’s Rolodex. An original NuTone intercom and radio system was set into the wall above the desk. Out came the intercom and the desk. In went a new cabinet with doors to conceal the coffeemaker, microwave and other small appliances that once populated the countertops. May 2020

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“At the end of the day, you can close the doors, and it’s a nice, clean look,” says Emma. Cabinetmaker Andrew Bereznak routed the new doors to match the existing cabinets. All of the cabinetry, new and old, was painted a faint gray. The old hinges, which had been visible from the outside, were replaced by hidden hinges. A built-in corner cabinet, once fronted by a door that framed a colored glass tulip, got a new pane of clear seeded glass, flecked with bubbles, so Allison’s collection of pottery, china and cheerful barware would show. Above the kitchen sink, a curved wooden valance disappeared so the glossy teal backsplash — subway tile from Studio Tile & Design in Greensboro — could be extended above a window. To create more interest on that wall, contractors installed floating shelves with a finish resembling the room’s oak hardwood floors. The former bisque-colored, under-mount sink was booted for a white porcelain farmhouse sink with a deep apron. Brown granite countertops — installed during the last remodeling — were tossed in favor of milky, veined quartz with an eased edge. The same white quartz, from Greensboro’s Ivey Lane, tops the island and spills over two sides of the box, creating a waterfall effect. For the front-facing side of the island, Allison chose custom tile from the online store Cement Tile Shop. The patterned tile, painted in teal on a white background, flirts with the The Art & Soul of Greensboro

bold backsplash. Emma and Sydney suggested the design to spice things up. “That’s not anything I would have thought to do,” says homeowner Allison. Over the island, lighting fixtures with clear glass globes and Edison bulbs replaced the old pendants. The lights illuminate a new flat black cooktop — successor to a Jenn-Air range — that matches existing black appliances. To harmonize with the appliances, cabinet doors and drawers received matte black knobs and pulls. Emma and Sydney recommended changing the color of the kitchen walls from light bluish-gray to white, a clean backdrop for the tidal wave of teal and other smacks of color, including Allison’s plucky kitchen rugs. “My pink, yellow and blue rugs are very happy,” she says. The restful whites also give plenty of elbow room to the bar stools that usually sit at the island. The stools are covered with hot pink leather and silver nail heads. “They’re fabulous,” says Allison. “I’ve always been drawn to color.” The Gants are so tickled with the outcome of the kitchen, they’ve hired Emma and Sydney to juice up the home’s exterior with new lighting, a wroughtiron hand rail and deeper navy blue shutters. “They know my taste,” says Allison. “It’s definitely been a collaboration.” OH Maria Johnson is a contributing editor of O.Henry. She can be reached at ohenrymaria@gmail.com. May 2020

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64 O.Henry

May 2020

The Art & Soul of Greensboro


A L M A N A C

M

May n

By Ash Alder

ay is a series of miracles so intertwined that nothing feels separate from it.

Take, for example, the mockingbird fledgling, who leaps from its nest 12 days after hatching. Twelve days. The descent is less than graceful. More like a stone than a feather. And when he lands, stunned, on the soft earth beneath the tree, each blade of grass performs its highest service. As if cradled in the hands of an invisible, benevolent force, the fledgling rests. Tender new life abounds. White-tail fawns take their first wonky steps. Red fox kits explore a world outside their den. And like the mockingbird fledgling, now flapping its newfound wings and hopping in the grass, these precious babes are easy prey. As baby bird performs his hop-flap-plop routine, mama and papa bird stay close, ever ready to defend him. That’s the thing about mockers. If ever you’ve seen one chase off a raven, jay or crow, then you’re familiar with the raspy battle cry of a tiny beast that knows no fear. Days have passed, and the fledgling’s wings are growing stronger. There’s no shortage of ants, grasshoppers and beetles for feeding, and under his parents’ watchful eyes, he’s gaining air with every jump. Not far from the tree where the mocker babe hatched is a quiet road not far from your house. This is where you enter the picture. On a leisurely walk, the air sweet with magnolia blossoms and spring roses, you notice a stopped car, the driver kneeling in front of a small lump in the middle of the road. “I can’t leave him here!” says the driver, a young mother who is visibly shaken by the sight of this tiny being — a mockingbird fledgling whose wiry feathers and wide yellow beak somehow make it look like a curmudgeonly old man. He isn’t injured, you observe. Just spent from a recent flight lesson. Relieved, the driver snags a toddler shirt from the back of her car, and you use it to gently scoop him off the road. When you set him down on the earth, the fledgling gives a brave little squawk, flaps his wings, then musters the strength for a few shaky steps before plopping down in the soft grass for more rest. One day, you think, that mockingbird will take flight. And one day, sooner than you think, he will have one hundred songs to sing. You hear a crow caw in the distance, and as mama bird watches from her nearby perch, you can’t help but smile at the miracle of it all.

But I must gather knots of flowers, And buds and garlands gay, For I’m to be Queen o’ the May, mother, I’m to be Queen o’ the May. —Alfred Lord Tennyson, “The May Queen” The Art & Soul of Greensboro

The Rose Garden

May is a jubilant explosion of fragrant blossoms. Crabapple and dogwood. Violets and magnolia. Flame azalea and flowering quince. And then there are roses. If you’ve ever known a rose gardener, then you’ve seen the light in the eyes of a soul who has seen life after perceived death (dormancy). I once toured the rose garden of a retired Episcopal priest who described the deep sadness of cutting his blossoms each winter, and the wonder their return. I’ll never forget his tender nature or, for that matter, his favorite rose. “Dolly Parton,” he told me, pointing to a fragrant red rose in the corner of his garden. “She’s wonderful. She just blooms and blooms.”

When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe. — John Muir

Garden Spotlight

Let’s hear it for fennel, folks! This perennial herb has long been cultivated for the digestive-aiding properties of its fruit (fennel seeds), but its bulb and leaves are likewise packed with nutrients. Fennel is good medicine for the heart, skin and bones. It aids with inflammation and metabolism. And, lucky for (most of) us, it tastes like licorice. There are dozens of ways to eat the bulb, but if you’re looking for fresh and easy, try pairing it with red plums (thinly sliced) for a slam-dunk salad topped with honeyginger dressing. Enjoy! OH

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CVAMAGGIE4.pdf

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2:16 PM

C E NTER FOR VISUAL ARTISTS PR ESEN TS

Arts & Culture

Maggie Fickett: Living in Plein Air COMING SUMMER 2020 C

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COVID-19 postponed our exhibit, but it’s coming! Check www.greensboroart.org for online sales and exhibit opening dates soon.

MY

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Maggie Fickett tirelessly documented Greensboro — and places she traveled — in watercolor paintings and pen-and-ink drawings from the 1980s through the early 2000s. WE ARE GRATEFUL FOR THE SUPPORT OF: Yum Yum Better Ice Cream O.Henry Magazine Center for Creative Leadership Greensboro Firefighters Historical Association

200 N. Davie St (336) 333-7475 www.greensboroart.org Facebook.com/CVAGreensboro Instagram: @centerforvisualartists

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

May 2020

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ASHMORE RARE COinS & MEtAlS Since 1987

• 30+ years as a major dealer of Gold, Silver, and Coins • Most respected local dealer for appraising and buying Coin Collections, Gold, Silver, Diamond Jewelry and Sterling Flatware • Investment Gold, Silver, & Platinum Bullion

Knit Crochet L E A R N

T O

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Visit our website for information on classes.

Business & Services

Visit us: www.ashmore.com or call 336-617-7537 5725 W. Friendly Ave. Ste 112 • Greensboro, NC 27410 Across the street from the entrance to Guilford College

Practicing Commercial Real Estate by the Golden Rule Bill Strickland, CCIM

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MONDAY-FRIDAY: 10:00-6:00 SATURDAY: 10:00-4:00

Serving The Triad for 10 Years With Southern Hospitality

To the First Responders, Hospital Employees, Essential Businesses, City and County Employees, and everyone else on the Front Lines You won’t find them in ordinary kitchens. Or at ordinary stores. Sub-Zero, the preservation specialist. Wolf, the cooking specialist. You’ll find them only at your local kitchen specialist.

Shop LocaL for Best Prices We Service What We Sell & Offer Personal Attention 336-854-9222 • www.HartApplianceCenter.com

68 O.Henry

May 2020

2201 Patterson Street, Greensboro, NC (2 Blocks from the Coliseum) Mon. - Fri.: 9:30am - 5:30 pm Sat. 10 am - 2 pm • Closed Sunday

Thank you for the personal sacrifices and long hours away from your families that you have given to those in need during this pandemic.

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The Art & Soul of Greensboro


Treat

Yourself SUMMER STYLES ARRIVING DAILY

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SWING INTO SUMMER WITH STYLE Schedule an appointment to enjoy personal one on one styling to put together your

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The Art & Soul of Greensboro

1616-G Battleground Ave | Dover Square 336.617.7941 10am-5:30pm Mon.-Sat. www.bibsandkidsboutique.com

May 2020

O.Henry 69


shops • service • food • farms

support locally owned businesses

Support Local Businesses during Covid-19 and beyond Buy gift cards from your favorite local businesses to help support our local economy during these uncertain times. Many businesses are suffering due to the pandemic. We’ve created a special website to help community members be able to buy gift cards from their favorite businesses from the convenience

Inspired by the pages of an artist’s sketchbook …

of your phone or computer!

Berry & Thread Floral Sketch by Juliska

Friendly Shopping Center, Greensboro, NC

www.shopthetriad.com

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“I couldn’t be happier with my renters, or my rental income” Brantley White

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There are times when it’s smarter to lease than to sell your home. Call me when you think you’re there! I’ll be pleased to discuss how Burkely Rental Homes can help you.

Carriage House Antiques & Home Decor 336.373.6200

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70 O.Henry

May 2020

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Join the effort. Visit www.triadlocalfirst.com.


IN TRODUCING

Named for William Sydney Porter’s preferred cocktail, we present a miscellany of curated stories, whimsies, curiosities and blithe entertainments from the writers, editors and artists who bring you award-winning O.Henry magazine. We hope you have as much fun reading The Sazerac as we do creating it. Each Friday, The Sazerac will hit your inbox just in time for cocktails. Relax with these fun bits intended to help you shake off the day.

Sign up at www.ohenrymag.com/sazerac


We stand with all of you and will welcome you back soon!

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72 O.Henry

May 2020

The Art & Soul of Greensboro


shops • service • food • farms

Irving

support locally owned businesses

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Our customers are young and the young at heart. They are the classic American beauty or those looking for Threads that are uniquely on trend.

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The Art & Soul of Greensboro

May 2020

Join the effort. Visit www.triadlocalfirst.com.

O.Henry 73


GreenScene This CommUNITY Sings Carolina Theatre Sunday, March 8, 2020

Photographs by Lynn Donovan Melinda Taylor, Karen Griffin Atiba Berkly, Evan Olson

Hilary Webb, Lee Kirkman

Annsleigh Reams, Madison Hunnicutt

Paula Wilder, Michael Swofford

Kelli Reams, Jo Mullis, Janet Hunnicutt

John Skujins, Deb Greene

Jane Gutsell, Quetcalli Oviedo

Jamie Goeller, Lindsey Totten

Jeff Piegari, Gina Turcketta, Anne Harris

74 O.Henry

May 2020

Kahlulee Kahleelee, Ben Helminski, Jake Taylor

The Art & Soul of Greensboro


VIVID

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Handmade

In House

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511 S Elm St. | Greensboro NC 27406 | 336.370.1050 areamod.com

D OW N TOW N GR EEN S BO R O . O R G

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GreenScene

Susan Sassman, Linda Hayman, Vicky Corrington, Sandy Kennedy

Chloe & Wesley McCleary-Small

This CommUNITY Sings Continued

Kim Burke, Jeannine Delcambre, Sara Howard

Peg Parham, Milton Kern, Kristy Jackson

Meagan Kopp, Robin Campbell Emma Gregory, Kris Wilson, Chelsea Loredo, Emily Rodriquez

Carol Hudson, Gael McAllister, Noni Penland

76 O.Henry

May 2020

Deryle Peaslee-Wood, Susanne McIntire Debbie King, Craig Fuller, Mina Penland-Fuller

Tara & Lydia Moore, Jasmine Austine

George, Jennifer, Ginger & Michael Job

Ariyelle & Keith Reid, Hap Holt-Teid

The Art & Soul of Greensboro


Helping you find a beautiful place to call home

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Irving Park brick home on GCC Golf Course: vacation every day in this beautifully renovated home on the 6th hole of GGC Country Club. 9’ ceilings up. Elegant Kitchen. Freshly painted inside. Heated salt water pool & patio w/outside fireplace. 3 Bedrooms on main level, Exercise Room & mini Kitchen, walk-up attic, Garage lower level.

Ascot Point brick home with Master Bedrooms on main and upper level. Totally updated Kitchen, Laundry Room & 2 Baths upper level. This home has 9 foot ceilings, hardwoods on main, walk-in storage, large closets and enclosed Patio with garden space. Very private, great neighborhood.

Fabulous Cape Cod Townhome with 9 foot ceilings, hardwoods & carpet, spacious rooms & closets, storage, Master Bedroom on main level, 3 Bedrooms & Bath upper level plus daylight lower level with Great Room/Office, Bedroom and Bath. Large deck overlooking the stream. 2-car Garage

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©2019 BHH Affiliates, LLC. An independently operated subsidiary of HomeServices of America, Inc., a Berkshire Hathaway affiliate, and a franchisee of BHH Affiliates, LLC. Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices and the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices symbol are registered service marks of HomeServices of America, Inc.® Equal Housing Opportunity.

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D OW N TOW N GR EEN S BO R O . O R G

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78 O.Henry

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The Art & Soul of Greensboro


The Accidental Astrologer

May the Force Be With You All things seem possible in May

By Astrid Stellanova

There’s so much to love about May: Memorial Day, Dance Like a

Chicken Day and Star Wars Day. Star Children, attention must be paid to the May born, whether Taurus or Gemini. Some May children are deeply worried, even clinically depressed. Others, unusually sunny and full of a belief in possibilities. Queen Victoria, John F. Kennedy, Malcolm X, George Lucas, Audrey Hepburn, Adele, Bing Crosby, Mark Zuckerberg, Bob Dylan and Janet Jackson share the same birth month. One way or another, they will get your attention. Taurus (April 20–May 20) This we know: You could talk to a telephone pole. Your motto in life is, “I don’t talk to strangers, so introduce yourself, Honey!” In the midst of the viral epidemic, you want to wade into the crowd and give the world a big old hug and talk. Admirable, if dangerous. Dial pals for solace if you absolutely must. Gemini (May 21–June 20) Hey you, with the chip on your shoulder! Do. Not. Try. Me. Your friends and family are dying to say that, want you to get off the crazy train and remember who loves you. Love isn’t always enough, but neither is rage. Grab your chance for redemption. Cancer (June 21–July 22) Serial hobbyist that you are, you’re itching to build a better tree house, or make the world’s finest pizza. Well, Honey, just go full tilt boogie, because it is good to explore all creative outlets. Summer brings opportunities to learn and create. Leo (July 23–August 22) Fluent in the language of sarcasm, are you? Sugar Booger, it’s time to find another way to mix and mingle. You’re quick with the quip but that can be tiresome for your bestie. Listen with the same dedication and you’ll learn your nearest and dearest truly need to be heard. Virgo (August 23–September 22) Last month was about as fun as dropping the hair dryer into the bath water. Electrifying and horrifying. There’s still some fallout, and Darling, it must unfold before you get back to whatever normal is. Your pack is waiting for you to get past that final hurdle and find peace. Libra (September 23–October 22) Measure twice, cut once, Sugar Pie. Not that meticulous you need to hear such advice but in these unusual times, details must be observed, and you have been way too preoccupied. Snap out of it, and recognize freedom from a redo by doing it right. Scorpio (October 23–November 21) You are the boss, Applesauce, of your life. Nobody else but you. As stubbornly

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

as you cling to the past, the present is right there before you with a lot of hope, light and love. Still clinging to some very old notions about who was what, when you were a younger you? Fuggedabout it. Sagittarius (November 22–December 21) You are closer to catching lightning in a jar for the second time, Honey. Don’t let anything convince you that your idea isn’t worth the work and worry. You see something that not everybody has the vision to see, the mind to master it and the mouth to broadcast it. Do it! Capricorn (December 22–January 19) You slowed the boat and now you are nearing the season when all good things will come to You Who Waited. Patience will be rewarded. Remember, Sweet Thing, all the people who supported you on what looked like a Moon mission. They stood by. Now share the spotlight. Aquarius (January 20–February 18) Now you are in a particularly interesting phase of your life, caught between contemplating and cogitating — and overthinking. It’s easy for you to get stuck there, because you are seeing multiple dimensions. Resist stalling, Honey, because if your hunch is right, act! Pisces (February 19–March 20) Now what? You like a clear path laid out and can’t see ahead. Murkiness is just the way it is, Love Bug. Nobody is getting a marked map these days with a big X over the treasure. Yet a big part of you recognizes that the treasure isn’t hidden. It’s right there, in your own hand, within your big heart. Aries (March 21–April 19) There’s just something about a fire sign that makes people gather round. Aries fire can either warm or burn, and some get too close. Here’s a chance to find a balance. Not everyone needs for you to bring them a Hershey bar. Or a scolding. Try subduing that big old force field for a few days. 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. May 2020

O.Henry 79


O.Henry Ending

The Big Gulp

A foreign national finds himself in uncharted waters

Him: “Umm.”

By Cynthia Adams

In my husband’s

“That’s amazing,” he muttered, staring at the sweating glass. “How come?” I asked. “Because I didn’t order water,” he answered, as I was thinking, “Wow. Such great service,” draining my glass. Our entire first date at a now defunct Tate Street joint, went something like this: Him: “So. Tell me about your growing up.” Me: “Well, I was born in Union County, blah blah blah . . .” Waitress: “Hon, what can I get you?” Him: “I’ll need a menu first.” Me: “. . . and there were five children in our family . . .” Waitress: (Returning with menus under her arm and two more glasses of ice water): “Can I get you something else?” Him: (Looking confused, staring at water): “I still haven’t seen the menu.” Me: “. . . and my father was this really free spirit . . .” Waitress: “What about you, Hon? Ready yet?” Me: (Opening menu, sighing, as I’m just getting warmed up with my personal biography) “I’ll just have the burger.”

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May 2020

Me: “Cheeseburger.” Him: “Ahhh . . . er . . .” Waitress: “Would you like a side with that, Hon? Our sides are: string fries, steak fries, waffle fries, a blooming onion, Methuselah carrot sticks, regular chips, or slaw?” Me: “No thanks.” Him: “Ahhh . . . uhhhh . . .” Waitress: “And what can I get you to drink?” Him: “Ma’am, I have waters I haven’t drunk yet.” Waitress: “But what would you like, Hon? We have draft beers, imported beers, low-cal beers, no-carb beers, white ales, lagers, stouts . . .” Him: (In a strangled voice, staring into a brimming water glass) “A Bud?” I think it took him 35 minutes to order. The waitress alternated between coming back to take our pulse and sprinting over with a sweating pitcher of ice water to refill our glasses. Having come from a sunburnt, drought-stricken country, he felt morally obliged to drink every drop. He did his best to keep up with the steady flow, gulping as I talked. On that night, my future husband wound up dining on ice water, a Budweiser and a dish of vanilla ice cream. This is the truth. I no longer remember the total glasses of water he drank; but I do remember how long it took him to finish the beer and the melting ice cream. When the checks arrived, his tense face relaxed. Then, alongside the bills, he emptied pockets bulging with coins. “What am I supposed to do with all these?” he wailed, piling pennies on the table. This was America; his new chosen land, where ice water and copper pennies flowed, come hell or high . . . er, water. OH Cynthia Adams has an unquenchable thirst for most beverages and a special fondness for people from foreign locales. She is a contributing editor to O.Henry. The Art & Soul of Greensboro

ILLUSTRATION BY HARRY BLAIR

home country of South Africa, refills on coffee or sodas are not free as they are in American restaurants. Ice is by request, and water is a scarce resource. When we began dating his first year in America, he was still adjusting. He gaped openmouthed as a waitress brought an unsolicited glass of H2O.

Waitress: “Will that be the veggie burger, the Tate Street Spirit burger, the Tate Street Garbanzo-bean burger, the cheeseburger, or the daily burger?”


M Y L A G O S M Y W AY

C AV I A R C O L L E C T I O N S

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