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Pleased to meet you all over again. That sure is an odd way to introduce ourselves. Then again, we’ve already met. Prudential Yost & Little Realty is now Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Yost & Little Realty. For you, that means the real estate expertise and neighborly approach you’ve come to expect is now backed by the strength and stability of one of the world’s most admired companies. It’s a change that will help us serve you better than ever before. And we feel that’s worthy of an introduction.

We make great neighbors.

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MOVING YOU FORWARD

This One-of-a-kind horse farm in Summerfield includes a beautifully appointed main house embraced by flawless grounds, a deck, stone terrace, lagoon pool, and an outdoor kitchen. The charming private guest house features a full bath, kitchen, loft bedroom, and screened porch. A grand six-stall stable enjoys an office and an apartment for a trainer or caretaker. The manicured grounds include a small lake with a water feature, five fenced pastures, and a riding ring.

You have the opportunity to become part of this luxurious home’s story. Contact Tom for more information.

©2013 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.

Tom Chitty & Associates Direct Line: 336-420-2836 Email: tomchitty@tomchitty.com Website: www.tomchitty.com


M A G A Z I N E Volume 3, No. 10

“I have a fancy that every city has a voice.” 336.617.0090

New Anterior Approach for Total Hip Replacement This technique offers a patient less pain and scarring as well as an anticipated shorter recovery time.

1848 Banking Street Greensboro, NC 27408 www.ohenrymag.com Jim Dodson, Editor jim@ohenrymag.com Andie Stuart Rose, Creative Director andie@ohenrymag.com David Claude Bailey, Senior Editor 336.617.0090 • dbailey@ohenrymag.com Kira Schoenfelder, Graphic Designer Lauren Shumaker, Graphic Designer Judi Hewett, Graphic Designer Contributing Editors Harry Blair, Maria Johnson, Jim Schlosser Contributing Photographers Lynn Donovan, Sam Froelich, John Gessner

Matthew D. Olin, MD is a fellowship trained hip and knee surgeon now performing the anterior approach total hip replacement. To schedule an appointment with

Matthew D. Olin, MD

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Call: 336.545.5030

For more information about Dr. Olin and surgery visit www.greensborohipandkneesurgeon.com

Contributors Cynthia Adams, Jane Borden, Emily Frazier Brown, Susan Campbell, Tina Firesheets, Felton Foushee, John Gessner, Molly Sentell Haile, Terry L. Kennedy, Sara King, Meridith Martens, Jill McCorkle, Mary Novitsky, Nancy Oakley, Ogi Overman, Charles D. Rodenbough, Lee Rogers, Noah Salt, Stephen E. Smith, Astrid Stellanova, Tim Swink, Stacey Van Berkel

O.H

David Woronoff, Publisher Advertising Sales Marty Hefner, Sales & Circulation Director 336.707.6893, mhefner@ohenrymag.com Hattie Aderholdt, 336.601.1188 Amy Grove, 336.456.0827 Advertising Graphic Design 910.693.2469, lauren@ohenrymag.com

Subscriptions

Marty Hefner 336.707.6893, mhefner@ohenrymag.com ©Copyright 2013. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited. O.Henry Magazine is published by The Pilot LLC

4 O.Henry

October 2013

The Art & Soul of Greensboro


Elegance is an attitude

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Kate Winslet


October 2013 Features

59 Music Like Dirt Importance of Being Otto 60 The For decades, Greensboro’s Otto Zenke defined the look of Poetry by Terry L Kennedy

By Jim Schlosser

gracious New South interior design.

I Hate Grimsley/Page 68 Why Two old friends, one stubborn high school rivalry 70 It’sJoanna not just how you live; it’s also how you die Queens of Cheap Chic 72 The Three popular consignment shops — and clever designers —

Jim Dodson vs. Jim Schlosser

Book excerpt by Jill McCorkle

By Cynthia Adams

78 90 94

show what can be done on a limited budget.

Ranch Dressing By Nancy Oakley

Re-imagining an American family classic in Brown Town

Color Me Blue By Lee Rogers

Oh, how I adore truly blue flowers — but only if they are the real deal. Now is the time to plan next year’s blue garden.

October Almanac By Noah Salt

Weather lore, winter greens, and the origins of bonfires and Halloween

departments

9 Hometown By Jim Dodson 15 SHORT STORIES DOODAD 17 By Ashley Wahl 19 The City Muse By Emily Frazier Brown 21 Life’s Funny By Maria Johnson 22 OmnivOrous Reader By Stephen E. Smith 25 UNICORN PRESS By Molly Sentell Haile 31 short story By Felton Foushee 36 Artist at work By Emily Frazier Brown 39 birdwatch By Susan Campbell

40 43 47 51 55 98 115 127 128

sign of the season

By David Claude Bailey Gate city icon

By Tim Swink

guilford journal

By Charles D. Rodenbough game on

By Ogi Overman life of jane

By Jane Borden Arts & Entertainment Calendar GreenScene

By Lynn Donovan Accidental Astrologer

By Astrid Stellanova O.Henry Ending

By Sandra Redding

Cover Photograph courtesy of the Otto Zenke estate

6 O.Henry

October 2013

The Art & Soul of Greensboro


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HomeTown

The Circuit Rider By Jim Dodson

My great -great -grand-

father was a circuit-riding Methodist preacher and land surveyor from Mebane who reportedly helped establish the modern boundaries of several central North Carolina counties and founded several rural parishes from eastern North Carolina to the foothills of the Blue Ridge mountains sometime after the Civil War.

I’ve never seen a picture of George Washington Tate but I feel like I know the man because he figures so prominently in family stories — and places — I knew growing up. Something of a rural polymath, according to family lore he also ran a successful gristmill on the Haw and supposedly cast the bell that hangs — or used to — in Hillsborough’s historic courthouse. Our family tree is littered with members who bear parts of his name, and I can show you the spot on the Haw River beside I-40 where his gristmill stood until a couple of decades ago. He was the father of four sons, and his lone daughter, Emma — my father’s grandmother — was said to have been an orphaned Cherokee infant when Tate brought her home from one of his Western circuit rides. She grew up to marry a rural fiddle-playing dandy named Jimmy Dodson, a wily horse trader who supposedly sold horses to the occupying Yankees by day and stole them back at night. Whether this is true is anyone’s guess. What is true is that Aunt Emma, as his Indian bride was called among neighbors along rural Buckhorn Road in Orange County, was a healer beloved for her earth wisdom and deep knowledge of natural medicine gathered from the wild. My father’s happiest boyhood days, he long maintained, were the Indian summer days spent on his grandmother’s farm between Chapel Hill and Hillsborough, leading horses from one pasture to another for Uncle Jimmy and tagging along with Aunt Emma on her herb-gathering walks through the fields and woods around the family home place. When my older brother and I were old enough to handle shotguns, an annual pilgrimage to the family home place around Thanksgiving to shoot mistletoe out of the huge white oaks that grew there became part of our pre-holiday routine, an annual event for years. The home place was still intact in those days but long abandoned, a ghostly ruin silvered by time, with a front porch sagging into a sea of nettled weeds and Virginia creeper, its stone chimney crumbling. As I recall, we never actually set foot inside the house. Visiting was like coming upon an abandoned church. We solemnly peeked through the shuttered windows and listened to our father’s memories of being a boy there. It was sacred family ground, but nature had reclaimed it for birds and spiders and snakes and other living creatures. Funny how blood and landscape shape our lives. Beyond this crumbling piece of our past, my primary connection to the The Art & Soul of Greensboro

family patriarch remains to this day a well-known street in Greensboro where I once rode my bike to go to the movies, a relatively short thoroughfare that still borders the busy UNCG campus with coffee houses and restaurants and a collegial air of commerce. It was on Tate Street where I saw my first peace protest around 1966 and smelled what seemed to be a Turkish carpet burning. It’s where I heard a pretty young UNCG nursing student named Emmylou Harris perform one night at a local café, and a few years later took pretty Ginny Silkworth from my ninth grade Sunday school class to the Cinema Theater to see Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet, a first date for us both. I remember spilling a Coke on our laps. Time may have swept away the family home place on Buckhorn Road — an upscale development of houses resides under those whites oaks now — but I think about our original family circuit rider sometimes when I’m making my own ride from the coast to the foothills, triangulating between Greensboro and Wilmington and Southern Pines, taking backcountry roads whenever possible. The three sister magazines I helped create and serve as editor [PineStraw, O.Henry and Salt] keep me on the run most weeks, riding and thinking, plotting and planning, just as my preacherman ancestor might have done in his time, in my case made all the more meaningful because all three places hold substantial pieces of my family history and heart. Wilmington is where I started school, learned to swim and ride a bicycle, experienced my first hurricane, caught my first fish, had my first teenage summer crush, and spent many of my early summers of life on the beach at Wrightsville and Carolina Beach. Its beautiful old downtown and historic brick streets grabbed hold of my heart early and have never let go. Walking into St. Paul’s Lutheran Church and sitting in the choir loft like I did one warm afternoon not long ago was like stepping back into my happy early boyhood — a version, if you will, of my father’s love of Aunt Emma’s sacred fields back in Orange County. Greensboro, on the other hand, is where I came of age and stood with my brother and father to witness the historic sit-in demonstration at the Woolworths one gray winter day in 1960, and soon went through confirmation with Ginny Silkworth and rode my bike all over town, played little league baseball and football for the Elks Club, mowed lawns for spending money, grew to be golf crazy, and became an Eagle Scout at a Quaker meetinghouse at Guilford College. It’s where I learned to play the guitar and became a summer intern at the newspaper where my dad had begun his career; where I fell in love with two different girls and made my closest friends and eventually left home and family and a great old dog named Hoss for college and a writing career that took me away to Atlanta and eventually northern New England. Pinehurst and Southern Pines — The Pines, as I like to say — is where my father took me to learn what he called the “higher game” of golf after I got tossed off his golf course in Greensboro for burying my Bulls Eye putter in a green after missing a short putt, a hot-headed, club-throwing Visigoth in father’s gentlemanly game. His ruse worked; I fell hard for the game of Jones and Palmer and reformed my club-throwing ways. The locals have a saying October 2013

O.Henry 9


HomeTown here — once you get sand in your shoes, you’ll always come back. Fittingly, almost two decades later, this is where I returned in the midst of turmoil and second thoughts about the direction of my journalism career, where my old man met me on the Donald Ross porch for a life-changing conversation on my way from Atlanta for an important job interview at the Washington Post, a job I’d long dreamed of having but suddenly didn’t see the point of. Following a round at Pinehurst No. 2 — my first full round of golf in years — we talked and realized I’d had enough of writing about New South crime and Grand Dragons in Alabama and surprised myself — and all my friends — by withdrawing from consideration at the Post, taking myself off instead to a job at iconic Yankee Magazine, the nation’s oldest and most successful regional magazine at that time. I promptly got myself a yellow pup from the local humane society and found a cabin heated by woodstove on a beautiful bend of the Green River in Vermont, taught myself to fly fish and began playing golf again at an old club in Brattleboro where Rudyard Kipling lived and played not long after he published The Jungle Book. It was there that I met my first wife; we soon moved to Maine and had two beautiful babies and built my dream house made of Canadian hemlock beams on a forested hill not far from the front doors of L.L. Bean, where everything I owned for the next two decades seemed to come from. Our house in the forest — on a sunny hilltop, ringed by ancient hemlocks and American beeches — became a gathering spot for friends and family, season upon season, the place where I rebuilt the stone walls and created a faux English garden in the woods and was certain my ashes would someday be scattered over the rocky ground. On early autumn days like these — full of golden October light and cool breezes, a season of bonfires and leaf mold — I used to finish my yard work

10 O.Henry

October 2013

and sit for long spells on an old blue bench in what I called my “Philosopher’s Garden,” drinking a beer and watching the afternoon expire, amazed at how far I’d wandered in such a short time. Years and landscapes pass so quickly. Yet following in the footsteps of my own itinerant newspaperman father and a circuit-riding preacherman I never knew, it struck me that these places of the heart — Wilmington, Greensboro, the Sandhills and coast of Maine — chose me at least as much as I chose them, for each place had something important to teach. Aunt Emma, I decided, would have approved. I wrote seven books in a barn on that forested hilltop, buried several beloved dogs and barn cats on the edges of our peaceful woodland keep, got to know garter snakes and the sound of owls and (from a safe distance) a friendly lady porcupine and a lonely young moose who sometimes dropped by for an autumnal visit. After a divorce and proper time of healing, I even got remarried to a woman who is the earth beneath my feet. We hired a great Irish fiddle band, invited a hundred friends and danced way past midnight beneath a harvest moon. Transcendental poet Henry Thoreau was supposed to have observed that the whole of life is merely one great circle-sailing. The same that carries us far away may eventually bring us back to where we began. So it was with me, a latter-day circuit-riding transcendentalist. Much to my surprise, I came home to Carolina first to bury a father and later to find the work I’ve found most satisfying of all in creating the three magazines that keep me forever moving forward, thinking and plotting on winding backroads from the foothills to the sea, season upon season, year upon year. Old George Washington Tate, I’ve decided, would approve. OH Contact editor Jim Dodson at Jim@ohenrymag.com

The Art & Soul of Greensboro


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Double, Double, Toil and Trouble

Witches, a gorgon, pharaoh in his tomb, the devil himself and unicorns aplenty — these and other beasts and creatures will haunt the audience when the thirty-five members of the Bel Canto Company foreshadow Halloween. “The program will feature the mythical and fantastic,” says Jeffrey Carlson, executive director of the program for October 12 beginning at 8 p.m. and October 14 at 7:30 p.m. The title, “Double, Double, Toil and Trouble,” comes from the eerie setting of Shakespeare’s famous witches’ chant by the Finnish composer Jaakko Mäntyjärvi. As for Bengt Johansson’s The Tomb at Akr Çaar, Carlson says, “Expect mummy music.” If the program seems to appeal to children of all ages, it’s not by accident. Carlson, however, says Halloween is not just about ghosts and goblins: “There’s a sacred aspect to the season. After all, it’s All-Saints’ Eve.” On that note, look for two works in Latin: Ola Gjeilo’s Unicornis Captivatur and Gyorgy Orban’s Daemon Irrepit Callidus. Gian Carlo Menotti’s The Unicorn, the Gorgon and the Manticore closes the program with haunting visuals illustrating the story of a strange poet who keeps mythical beasts as pets — at Christ United Methodist Church, 410 North Holden Road, Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 333-2220 or www. belcantocompany.com. — DCB

Short Stories

Black Dog Sauces

If you drop by the sauce-themed City Market the third Thursday of October, you’ll see Paul Bennett with his Black Dog sauces lined up for tasting: one made with grape juice; another from honey-mustard; a steak sauce tinted with merlot; and his hottest, Black Dog’s Revenge, made from (just in time for Halloween) ghost peppers. Unlike most of the uncontrolled substances masquerading as hot sauces these days, Bennett’s recipes always let the underlying flavor shine through. This is especially true of his garlic jalapeño, which wakes up your taste buds with loads of garlic and finishes with an aromatic but insistent afterglow of fruity jalapeños. A trained chef who moved from Maine to Greensboro six years ago, Bennett says his sauces are named for his big, black, loveable Lab, Abby. Sold in specialty shops such as The Extra Ingredient and Bestway Grocery. Info: Black Dog Gourmet, (336) 681-1417 or www.blackdoggourmet.com. — DCB

All Hallows’ Eve

If true terror is your thing, the Web is your road to all sorts of haunted houses, movie scare-a-thons and terrifying trails in spook-tacular woods. But at O.Henry, we favor the gentler side of All Hallows’ Eve, and so we’ve assembled some pre-Halloween events that will appeal not only to children but to your own innermost child. • Gobble down Fresh Market pumpkin treats at Pumpkin Palooza beginning at 10 a.m., Saturday, October 19, at Greensboro Science Center (336-288-3769 or www. greensboroscience.org). Meanwhile, kids can carve, decorate and cavort with pumpkins — even the zoo’s animals will enjoy pumpkins that day. • Still hungry? At 1 p.m. on the same day, The Greensboro Children’s Museum (336-574-2898 or www.gcmuseum.com) will host a recipe-sharing session in collaboration with Whole Foods for kids 5 and up. Cooking demonstration feature witch-finger cookies, pirate-eyeball lollipops or pretzel-legged chocolate spiders. Registration required. • Blending the hidden artists among us with the ones whose creations hang in galleries, Weatherspoon Art Museum’s Masquerade Party is a one-of-a-kind, over-the-top affair (336-334-5770 or weatherspoon.uncg.edu) at 7 p.m. on Friday, October 25. Do it yourself by concocting your own crazy costume or let Weatherspoon’s hair specialists and make-up artists, live music and cash bar help you find your inner monster. • Forget the dance macabre. If you can waltz, mambo, tango, swing dance or do the cha-cha, you’ll want to go, in costume, to the Oldies & Ballroom Halloween Dance (336-852-0515 or charleshafer@gmail.com), on Sunday, October 27, at 7 p.m. at the Guilford Grange, 4909 Guilford School Road, Greensboro. Benefiting Greensboro Urban Ministry, music will range from Frank (Sinatra) to Michael (Jackson), from Johnny (Cash) to ZZ (Top). Best costume gets a prize, natch. • If you want to preview your Halloween get-up for dramatic effect, try haunting Acme Comic’s convention (336-574-2263 or comicbookcitycon.com) on Saturday and Sunday, October 26 and 27. The first three hundred ghouls will get free comics. • For a taste of the old days, take the kids and head for the hills near McLeansville on weekends for a visit to J. Razz and Tazz Farm (336-697-1675 or www.jrazz.com). Oldfashioned family entertainment will be on tap, including hay-stack mountain, a corn maize, a moo-cow train and a not-very-scary hay ride through the woods where a 14-foot-long, smoke-breathing dragon mostly scares the birds. — DCB

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

The Loewenstein Legacy

What’s the angle on The Loewenstein Legacy? There are lots of them — and some are contained in the ten sleek homes that will be open for viewing during the October 10–13 celebration of Modernist architecture in Greensboro. Seeds of the tour and a sidebar symposium sprouted with a 2005 tour of homes, all designed by the late architect Edward Loewenstein of Greensboro. This year’s event — a collaboration of UNCG, the Edward T. Cone Foundation, the Marion Steadman Covington Foundation and Preservation Greensboro Inc. — takes in homes by other architects, including Gerard Gray and Sylvester Damianos. The homes are located in Irving Park, Starmount, East Greensboro and the community of Pleasant Garden. Ticketholders may tour the homes from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Oct.12 and 1–4 p.m. on Oct. 13. The symposium includes: • Two free lectures at UNCG’s Weatherspoon Art Museum on October 10. At 7 p.m., Sandy Isenstadt, a professor of art history at University of Delaware and the author of 
The Modern American House: Spaciousness and Middle Class Identity, Cynthia de Miranda of Raleigh, the author of numerous mid-century National Register nominations in North Carolina, follows at 7:45 p.m. • Two free Lowenstein lectures on October 11 at St. Matthews United Methodist Church. Patrick Lee Lucas, a Loewenstein scholar formerly of UNCG and now of the University of Kentucky, will speak at 11:30 a.m. Sally Shader, a preservation activist and co-chair of the weekend event, follows Lucas at 12:15 p.m. • A free October 11 walking tour of Modernist structures in downtown Greensboro. Scholar Patrick Lee Lucas and Karyn Judd Reilly, a member of the Salem College interiors faculty, will lead the jaunt, which begins at the Greensboro Historical Museum at 1:30 p.m. Tickets: blandwood.org/tour. Info: modernismathome.wordpress.com. — MJ October 2013

O.Henry 15


Doodad

River of New Verse By Ashley Wahl

Terry L. Kennedy’s latest book of

poetry, New River Breakdown, is teeming with such exquisite imagery that the reader may be satisfied by the ethereal beauty of the words alone. But it’s their resonance that keeps us yearning for more.

Read the narrative once and ache for a season that is long-gone. Read it twice and feel as though the story is your own. Says acclaimed poet Fred Chappell: “The bright, swiftly kinetic surfaces of Terry Kennedy’s poems whisper as they pass a wistful but passionate love story. . . His every image bears the nuances of a remembrance.” Kennedy is the associate director of graduate studies in creative writing at UNC Greensboro and editor of the online journal storySouth. His work appears in various journals and magazines including Heavy Feather Review, Oxford American, Southern Review, UCity Review and Waccamaw. We asked him some questions about New River Breakdown, published by Unicorn Press, which is profiled in this month’s O.Henry on page 25. O.Henry: When were the poems in the book written? Terry Kennedy: Most of the poems in the collection were written over the ten year period between 2000 and 2010. O.H.: Where were most of them written? T.K.: I have a little a writing shed in my backyard in Glenwood, where I do most of my writing. The poems in this book, if not drafted there, were certainly revised and polished there. O.H.: Where does the volume’s title come from?

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T.K.: The title poem is just about dead center of the book. When I wrote it I wasn’t thinking that it would necessarily be the title poem, but once the book came together, it felt correct. O.H.: You quote Paul Simon’s lyrics “Half of the time we’re gone but don’t know where.” How is that apropos? T.K.: In its most basic sense, the book chronicles two people, one who is off traveling the world and one who is left behind. So there is this idea of physically being gone. But I feel the idea of being “gone” is explored on the metaphorical level as well. O.H.: Why did you choose Unicorn Press? T.K.: I’m a big believer in, and supporter of, independent presses. They’re publishing some of the most interesting contemporary literature out there. It might be old-fashioned, but I also really like books as artifacts and the idea of having my book hand-stitched by someone really appealed to me. Why would anyone spend the time hand-stitching a print run of books they don’t like? O.H.: Why do you write in block style? T.K.: I decided on the prose poem form because it seemed the best way to tell the story. But I also wanted to have a book that would reach out to audiences who don’t necessarily read poetry, and the prose poem, since people are comfortable reading prose, is a good bridge for that. OH The Art & Soul of Greensboro

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October 2013

O.Henry 17


18 O.Henry

October 2013

The Art & Soul of Greensboro


The City Muse

Graphic Traffic

For three decades, Greensboro’s comic book lovers have beaten a path to Acme Comics

By Emily Frazier Brown

Acme Comics store overflows with eager

Photographs by Sam Foelich

customers every Wednesday, when new books hit the shelves. I, however, wait reluctantly outside, trying my best to recognize more than a handful of the characters who are represented by vinyl door decals and exterior posters.

I decided comic books weren’t for me the first time I admitted out loud that Aquaman was my favorite super hero. From that moment until I realized boys sometimes lean closer for reasons other than shoving dirt in your face, I was the victim of random splashing from cups of water, sprinklers and outdoor puddles. If I bothered to put my hands on my hips and express discontent, they simply advised that I should summon a fish to fight back. Nonetheless, Acme is turning thirty this year with a big, city-wide celebration (see box below), and the rumor mill says they can get anyone hooked on graphic novels. I trail behind a group of teenage guys who politely hold the door open but definitely think I’m only coming in to ask directions. I’m given the tour by layout (the last three weeks of material are still available chronologically to the left of the cash register, while others are broken down either by the notable series name or the publisher’s name). Cody Elles, an employee of the store, catches my interest by observing that Indiana Jones continued as a graphic novel after the movie series was over and that there are some people who want an Iron Man action figure that resembles the comic books, while others specifically want one that appears to be Robert Downey Junior. (The store sells both.) I was delighted the Justice League has one issue that sports a North Carolina flag on the cover. Cody is clearly accustomed to delivering the joke, “I think his dad’s done a few things too,” referring to the popular series that is written by Stephen King’s son, Joe Hill. The industry has changed, in large part thanks to the rise of comic book stores. It used to be that people got their comics at newsstands or convenience stores, which sometimes had dog-eared stock or might miss issues altogether. Serious collectors or dedicated fans might invest a lot of time, energy and money into tracking down an issue. The emergence of comic book stores in the 1970s provided people a dependable source where they could shop for their

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

favorite story, and discover new ones. Acme came on to the scene in downtown Greensboro in 1983. It has fluctuated in location and size, but has become a treasured institution for many residents. A lot of people don’t realize how integral the books are to the evolution of their favorite childhood characters. Cody elaborates: Batman actually has an illegitimate love-child with one of the villains depicted in the most recent movie — and has to battle with building a relationship with his son and mourning his loss when the character is killed off. Did you know that Peter Parker has long ago been killed off and replaced? (It was a hard thing for me to hear, too, so take your time.) The staff enjoys helping people find the series that suits them, and turning first-timers into regular subscribers. (They’ll have your weekly box ready for you when you arrive, so it’s an idea to consider.) Jermaine Exum, the store manager of seventeen years, echoed employees Cody and Riley Till in emphasizing there is a comic book for everyone, but I think the most underappreciated value of the graphic novel is the fulfilling contribution it can make to adolescents who are struggling scholastically or personally. Spider-Man, for instance, resonated with Cody during a time in his life when he felt he couldn’t catch a break. And being especially devoted to a character who has such a strong moral compass is integral to his present-day value set. Liz Adams, an employee in charge of a women’s book club and the children’s programs, stresses that comic books help boost literacy. Text bubbles with only a handful of words encourage children to develop basic reading skills, like reading from left to right and jumping down one line, while an entire page of text in other pieces of fiction can be overwhelming. The city agrees, and Acme introduced a successful resolution to call Greensboro “Comic Book City U.S.A.”, which is celebrated annually on Free Comic Book Day. Before I leave, Cody makes sure to mention that I shouldn’t be embarrassed by my fondness for Aquaman — he could command an army of sharks if needed. His personal favorite series is King City. Jermaine and Riley can’t pick a favorite. Liz admits that her favorite is Johnny the Homicidal Maniac. OH Emily Frazier Brown, who can be reached at emilyfrazierbrown@gmail.com, is a resident of Greensboro and doesn’t like being called Aquawoman. Free Comic Book Day will be hosted Saturday and Sunday, October 26–27, in the Empire Room downtown by Acme Comics, 2150 Lawndale Drive, Greensboro. Info: (336) 574-2263 or www.acmecomics.com. October 2013

O.Henry 19


Life’s Funny

Bleh!

If you can’t eat them, zap ’em By Maria Johnson

I was chatting with friends recently

Photograph By Lynn Donovan

when the talk turned to one of the greatest mysteries of my lifetime. I’m speaking, of course, about Circus Peanuts.

Circus Peanuts, for the uninitiated, are those big, puffy, orange candies that vaguely — and by vaguely I mean not at all — resemble unshelled peanuts. They don’t look like peanuts. They don’t taste like peanuts. You will find nothing that looks like a Circus Peanut at a circus. I can’t tell you the first time I had a Circus Peanut, but I assure you some innocence was lost upon eating this gritty, banana-flavored liar. I felt qualified to throw down the gauntlet to my pals. I declared Circus Peanuts the worst candy ever. I was quickly challenged by someone wielding the shiny brown memory of Boston Baked Beans, and then by someone else swinging the chalky weight of Necco Wafers. Bleh. But still. Circus Peanuts. Later, I wondered: Was I being unfair to the Circus Peanut? In the name of Halloween, the most candy-fied holiday of all, I resolved to find something to appreciate about the candy I had long reviled. I began my research at Greensboro’s high altar of sucrose, The Sugar Shack. Located in Friendly Center next to Complete Nutrition — an example of perfect balance in nature — The Sugar Shack is a repository of childhood. I stepped over the threshold, and the memories came gushing back. The long stretchy sweetness of Sugar Daddys. The tooth-pulling stickiness of Mary Janes. The eye-popping fizz of Zotz. Surely I was in the right place to educate myself. I found owners Joanna Kirkland and Shawna Chrismon and inquired about Circus Peanuts. The smiles dropped from their faces. “We don’t carry them anymore,” said Joanna. “Bleh,” said Shawna. OK, her lips did not say that. But her face did. It seems their supplier had stopped wrapping Circus Peanuts individually. But even when they were packaged as singles, the Circus Peanuts weren’t hot sellers. It was tough to keep them fresh. So Joanna and Shawna made a sensible business move. They handed their stock to Shawna’s daughter’s boyfriend, who gave them away at school. Neither Shawna nor Joanna knew the history of Circus Peanuts, so I called the Spangler Candy Co. of Bryan, Ohio, which has been making Circus Peanuts since 1940. Pat Hurley, a 44-year veteran of the company, told me that Circus Peanuts remain popular among Baby Boomers, but not so much among children. “People either love ’em or hate ’em,” Pat acknowledged. He had no idea where the concept of banana-flavored peanuts came from. Desperate for knowledge, I called Samira Kawash, aka The Candy Professor, whose book, Candy: A Century of Panic and Pleasure, was published by Faber and Faber this month. The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Bingo. According to Samira, Circus Peanuts are a direct descendant of marshmallow bananas, which were the darling of the candy crowd at the turn of the century. A couple of innovations made this possible: cornstarch molds, which enabled the mass production of soft candies, and the widespread availability of cheap banana flavoring. A marshmallow homage to peanuts — a popular snack at circuses — would not have been unusual because soft candies appeared in lots of fanciful shapes. The orange tint was added because then, as now, candy was sold on visual appeal. “It’s a really interesting historical snippet — all of these things that came together to make Circus Peanuts,” said Samira, who lives in Brooklyn. I knew this would happen. I started to feel warm and fuzzy about Circus Peanuts. I slunk into a drugstore and bought some. Later, I asked — OK, begged — my husband and younger son to eat them with me. The candy was rather firm, but the bag assured us the contents were “soft & chewy.” You gotta like a bag with confidence. 1-2-3, bite. “Oh . . . wow,” I said, and not in a good way. “Gross,” said my husband. “Banana Styrofoam,” said my son, who, being a teenage boy, continued to eat what he had just deemed nasty. I tossed a Circus Peanut to my dog. He held it in his mouth for a few seconds, then dropped it to the floor. “Bleh,” he said as he walked away. That night, I fell asleep with banana-tinged disappointment on my breath. Was there no redeeming quality to Circus Peanuts? The next day, I stumbled across hope on the Spangler website. FAQ: Is there any way I can soften Circus Peanuts if they become hard? A: Put them in the microwave for 8–10 seconds. Last chance. I put a Circus Peanut on a paper plate, slid it into the microwave, and set the timer for :10. OK, maybe it was 1:00. All I know is, when the microwave binged, my Circus Peanut was a giant, seething blob of banana-y orange-ness. I think it was breathing. I threw the plate on the floor. Slowly, the blob cooled and deflated, all the while maintaining its lovely tangerine hue. A few minutes later, I peeled a super-dense Circus Peanut from the plate. I dropped it on the counter. Clink. In conclusion, I no longer hate Circus Peanuts. Love is too strong a word, but I do think they’re a work of art, perfect for Halloween. See photo above. OH If you love Circus Peanuts, please don’t contact Maria Johnson. Otherwise, she can be reached at maria@ohenrymag.com October 2013

O.Henry 21


The Omnivorous Reader

I, Zelda

F. Scott’s notorious wife tells all. Sort of

By StePHen e. SMitH

Addicted to

alcohol, constantly in debt and more or less forgotten by the reading public, F. Scott Fitzgerald was, during his later years, a writer in search of his earlier success. He never found it. Shortly before his death, he admitted to a friend that he considered himself a failure. How delighted he’d be to learn that his novels and short stories — and the misadventure that was his life with Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald — have blossomed into a multi-million-dollar business.

Seventy years after his untimely passing, Fitzgerald is again the mythical man of the hour. His fiction is soundly ensconced in the literary canon, The Great Gatsby and the short story “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” have been the basis for recent box office hits, and authors and publishers are tapping into this popular resurgence by releasing novels based on the lives of the Fitzgeralds. R. Clifton Spargo’s Beautiful Fools, Erika Robuck’s Call Me Zelda, and Lee Smith’s latest Guests on Earth — all of them told in the third person or from the points of view of characters who interact with the Fitzgeralds — are among these publications. Only Therese Anne Fowler’s Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald is written in the first person and from the point of view of its subject — an undertaking that is both audacious and dangerous. A reader’s ability to suspend disbelief depends, in part, on how familiar

22 O.Henry

October 2013

he or she is with the facts surrounding the Fitzgeralds’ lives. Since The New Republic published Glenway Wescott’s “The Moral of Scott Fitzgerald” in 1941, the public has been treated to a steady stream of biographies that delve into — and exploit — Scott’s every alcoholic shenanigan. But it wasn’t until the 1971 publication of Nancy Milford’s best-selling Zelda that the circumstances of Zelda’s life became common knowledge. Coinciding with the rise of the women’s movement, Milford’s portrayal of Zelda as the talented but repressed American feminist gave rise to the popular notion that she was the force behind her husband’s early success. After all, Zelda was the subject and inspiration for much of his fiction, and she was an artist in her own right, dancing, painting, producing short stories and essays, and eventually publishing a novel, Save Me the Waltz, a confusing autobiographical depiction of her marriage to Scott. Readers who possess a smattering of biographical information regarding the Fitzgeralds tend to consider themselves experts on the subject. (Perhaps this explains why the late Matthew J. Bruccoli, the foremost Fitzgerald scholar, was always in a bad mood — all those know-nothings nagging him with silly questions. Even the critic Edmund Wilson grew cantankerous when besieged by Fitzgerald’s admirers.) It may well be that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, but when reading Z it’s a prerequisite to becoming embroiled in the novel’s soapy intrigues. It’s likely that the casual Fitzgerald aficionado, freed from the tyranny of fact, will find Fowler’s protagonist believable and sympathetic. Any explication of the Fitzgeralds’ lives is bound to be an exercise in nameThe Art & Soul of Greensboro


Reader dropping, and as with Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, most of the requisite luminaries are present in Z, if only in passing — Pound, Anderson, Elliot, Perkins, the Bankheads, Porter, Wolfe, Parker, Ford, Picasso, Stein, the Murphys, Joyce. Even North Carolina’s James Boyd rates a mention as “critic and novelist” (novelist certainly; critic not so much). Readers will no doubt enjoy the glib banter of the famous and witty, even if the characters never uttered a word of the dialogue attributed to them. For the thoroughly schooled Fitzgerald enthusiast, knowing too much about the subject raises so many questions regarding the authenticity of the novel that the flow of the narrative is interrupted in every paragraph and snatch of dialogue. Fowler addresses this problem in her “Author’s Note and Acknowledgements,” which, oddly enough, appears at the end of the novel: “This book is a work of fiction, but because it’s based on the lives of real people, I have tried to adhere as much as possible to the established particulars of those people’s lives. . . . Fiction based on real people differs from nonfiction in that the emphasis is not on factual minutiae, but rather on the emotional journey of the characters” — an explanation that does little to assuage the reader’s misgivings. Beyond the obligatory feminist agenda, the central focus of Z is a speculative exploration of the relationships between Scott, Zelda and their fellow expatriate Ernest Hemingway, who is the story’s obvious antagonist. Did Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway have a homosexual relationship? Did Hemingway attempt to seduce Zelda? “Thinking my anger would only amuse I decided to turn the tables on him [Hemingway] instead. I reached between us . . . taking my time, letting him think he might yet take advantage of both Fitzgeralds tonight. . . .” Of course, everyone loves gossip — except the subjects of the gossip — and all of the principals in Z are long gone. Only the novelist can say for sure what they said. And if Fowler’s reinvention of Zelda and the peripatetic Lost Generation is no slave to fact, well, in the final analysis, it’s an amusing read that dwindles to a beautifully poetic conclusion. What more can a reader ask? As for the lives of the real Fitzgeralds, we’re way beyond putting Humpty Dumpty back together again. When one of our heroes doesn’t supply the answers we expect, we simply rewrite his or her story. Who knows? Maybe it’ll have a happy ending. OH

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October 2013

O.Henry 23


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Unicorn Press

Unicorn Reborn

How Greensboro’s premier press keeps coming back from the brink.

By Molly Sentell Haile

Greensboro’s Unicorn Press has been

Photograph by Sam Froelich

publishing new voices in literature for almost fifty years, and, like the mythical phoenix, this small press has a story of loss and continual rebirth.

Today Unicorn is housed inside Glenwood Books at 1310 Glenwood Avenue, but founders Al Brilliant and his wife, Teo Savory, opened the press in Santa Barbara, California, in 1966. Inspired by the idea of Harold Monro’s Poetry Bookshop in London, Brilliant and Savory wanted to create beautiful books, chapbooks, postcards and broadsides (large sheets of paper printed on one side and meant to be displayed like art) — giving poetry any possible “embellishment of art so a person was almost forced to pay attention,” says Brilliant. In an era when social activists and writers searched for authenticity and individuality, Unicorn Press began publishing books that were typeset, sewn and bound, one by one, always by hand. The idea was to couple a small press with a bookstore where an author’s work could be printed, published, sold and read aloud. Brilliant and Savory wanted to publish new writers, especially poets who were challenging the poetic form as well as the political status quo in the United States in the 1960s. Their idea worked. Unicorn published early collections by National Book Award winner Robert Bly, U.S. Poet Laureate Philip Levine, and iconic singer, songwriter and poet Leonard Cohen, among many other bright lights in poetry in the late ’60s and early ’70s.

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Then Unicorn Press won a grant, one of the first ten ever given, from the newly created National Endowment for the Arts. Unicorn Press workers — every one of them social activists — fiercely debated about how to use the NEA money — or whether they should accept it at all. Finally they agreed to use their $15,000 NEA award to publish translations of Vietnamese literature, including poet, activist, spiritual leader and future Nobel Peace Prize nominee Thich Nhat Hanh’s first five books in English. Unicorn continued to publish other prominent writers of the era including Pulitzer Prize winner and U.S. Poet Laureate W.S. Merwin, Kenneth Rexroth (aka the “Father of the Beat Poets”) and Muriel Rukeyser, an influential writer and public figure whose poetry asked readers and her fellow poets to confront the political injustices of their time. Writers’ favorite bookstores such as Gotham Books in New York City and City Lights bookstore in San Francisco began stocking Unicorn Press publications and the name spread. For several years Brilliant and the other press workers had to make batches of a thousand books at a time to keep up with the demand. About that time, at the newly co-ed and renamed University of North Carolina in Greensboro, writing professors Robert Watson, Peter Taylor and Fred Chappell created the nation’s third master’s of fine arts in creative writing program. Acclaimed poets and novelists in their own right, these three and others brought some of the best writers in the country to UNCG to read their work and meet with students — including Saul Bellow, Robert Frost, Robert Penn Warren and Flannery O’Connor. Meanwhile, Bert Carpenter, chairman of the UNCG Art Department, was drawing national attention to his department’s MFA program and Weatherspoon Art Museum. Carpenter himself had a solo show at a Madison October 2013

O.Henry 25


Avenue art gallery in New York and helped bring contemporary works by artists such as Robert Rauschenberg, Frank Stella and Andy Warhol to the Weatherspoon’s permanent collection. Before Carpenter came to North Carolina, he taught at Columbia University where Al Brilliant was an undergraduate student. Brilliant loved taking art classes at Columbia, Carpenter’s in particular. He thought Carpenter’s work in abstract expressionism was, at the time, “the most exciting thing going on in the world artistically” and spent as much time as possible with his professor in and out of class. The two became lifelong friends. So when Carpenter had the idea that UNCG art and creative writing MFA students could work together as apprentices on a small printing press to publish high quality art and poetry books, he contacted Brilliant, whose cutting edge Unicorn Press was at the center of California’s literary boom. Fred Chappell knew Unicorn books long before he knew the press might come to Greensboro. When he visited bookshops up North and picked up a Unicorn book, he admired the compelling workmanship, “like no other,” as well as the “unshackled poems, the glancing elusiveness” of the free verse inside the covers. Brilliant had heard of Greensboro because his Catholic Social Worker Calendar noted the

26 O.Henry

October 2013

Woolworth’s Sit-Ins on February 1. He explains, “my CSW calendar didn’t have Valentine’s Day on it, but it did have the Greensboro Sit Ins.” He and his wife Savory decided to visit Greensboro to explore moving here. Chappell says he thought Al and Teo were charming people, and he was excited to think Unicorn’s publications would bring variety to the more traditional poetry forms UNCG professors favored. With the rising price of housing in Santa Barbara pushing them away, and the overwhelming enthusiasm of the UNCG professors and their friends pulling, Brilliant and Savory signed a contract with the university. After giving notice to their landlords and packing up their belongings (including the 1,500-pound Vandercook SP-15 proof printing press) into a

Belkins moving van, they got a call from some “higher-ups” at the university who “informed us they would not honor the signed contract.” In a personal journal he published, Brilliant writes, “Carpenter thought it was my anti-war activity in California. Someone else suggested the prestigious university press [in Chapel Hill] didn’t want a possible competitor setting up shop in Greensboro. Who knows?” Brilliant was irate, and the professors who wanted Brilliant and Unicorn to come to Greensboro were crestfallen. Robert Watson and William Snider created the “Friends of Unicorn Press,” which raised $50,000 in forty-eight hours to convince Brilliant and the other workers to relocate here despite the fiasco with UNCG. Brilliant, Savory and five workers came, setting up shop in Fisher Park. For years Brilliant and Savory invited the city to Friday night bookmaking lessons at their place (and he’ll still give a fifteenminute bookmaking primer to anyone who asks). Smarting from the deal gone wrong, Brilliant avoided the UNCG campus for thirty-five years until January of 2007, when he agreed to teach a freshman bookmaking course. In the ’70s and ’80s, the press quietly flourished here without any formal ties to UNCG. Unicorn continued to publish poets and writers on the cusp of their literary fame such as Pulitzer Prize poet James Tate, North Carolina Poet Laureate Fred Chappell, National Book Award Finalist Sarah Lindsay, internationally honored author Margaret Atwood and many others who, later in their careers, became well-known literary voices. Seven Unicorn Press authors have been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Binding one book by hand takes an experienced bookmaker about an hour, which doesn’t include typesetting or designing the cover. “What I love is the tools,” Brilliant says, as he sits at a wooden table at the front of his bookshop. He uses a weathered awl to press holes into a stack of creased pages. “They’re simple. Everything is right here on the table.” He picks up a long, flattened tool called a bone folder and says it’s for creasing the pages. Then he pulls out the tomato pincushion where he keeps “a simple seamstress’ needle” to sew the book together. “What else?” he says. Thread. Glue. A book press to hold the spine tight while the glue dries. And a The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Photograph by sam froelich

Unicorn Press


Unicorn Press

traditional, wood-knobbed finishing press to make the sharp edges of a book’s binding. “And Glenwood,” adds Andrew Saulters, Brilliant’s printing press apprentice, as an orange tabby leaps onto the table and walks over a stack of folios. “Yes, don’t forget Glenwood,” says Brilliant. In 1985, doctors diagnosed Savory, Brilliant’s wife and Unicorn Press partner, with lung cancer. Savory was 78 to Brilliant’s 48. “I was never good at math,” says Brilliant, who is now 77 with faded white hair, ruddy checks, wide blue eyes and ears that turn out at the top, giving him a sage, elfin quality. “When we married, I was 20 and Teo was 50. I thought I’d catch up with her at some point.” During the four years after Savory’s cancer diagnosis, she went blind and became increasingly debilitated. “I was her nurse for those four years,” Brilliant explains. “I was exhausted from taking care of Teo and trying to run the press without her.” When she died in 1989, Brilliant says he “literally couldn’t do anything. I was limp. I wrote a poem about a grape thrown into a wine press.” The wine press squeezed and smashed the grape until only the skin was left. “That’s what I felt like,” he says, laughing the way Buddhist monks do when they talk about loss. Alone and not wanting to continue running Unicorn or much else without his wife, Brilliant put all their belongings into storage, sold his car and gave the printing press to the other workers at Unicorn. The workers moved to Colorado and set up a new small press there. Brilliant tried living in New York City for a short time and had some great offers in publishing, but he wasn’t happy there either. He came back to Greensboro and, at the urging of his good friend Mary Abu-Saba, moved into the Avalon Women’s Center where local women fleeing domestic abuse and other problems received refuge and assistance. Abu-Saba hired Brilliant to be their “old man” security guard. He says, “I lived like a monk on the porch of the women’s center for years.” In 1995 Brilliant stumbled onto a poem on the new-fangled Internet and thought to himself, “That poem ought to be published!” He realized how easy it would be for him to publish a first collection for the poet, Jessy Randall. Unicorn Press has been publishing ever since. Without the printing press, Brilliant has had to use computer typesetting and a laser jet printer, but every other aspect of a Unicorn Press book is still rendered by hand. Among other books, Brilliant has begun to publish his personal journals. Bus Journal is a no-holdsbarred and, at times, funny account of five months he spent riding on Greensboro Transit Authority buses. The journal has sold over a thousand copies and several local college and high school teachers have assigned it to their classes. UNCG Professor Spoma Jovanovic called Bus Journal, “a masterful social critique on how we treat the mostly invisible people who ride the buses.” The Art & Soul of Greensboro

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O.Henry 27


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The Art & Soul of Greensboro


Unicorn Press But Brilliant says he’s getting tired. Half a century of making books is enough. A couple of years ago, he was on the verge of shutting down Unicorn again when his friend and chess nemesis, Charlie Headington (also known as Greensboro’s revolutionary permaculture gardener), told him, “Al you’ve got this creation. You shouldn’t just let it die. You gave the printing press away. Give away Unicorn Press.” Brilliant asked his friend Andrew Saulters to help search for an apprentice, but Brilliant wasn’t convinced he’d find anyone interested in taking up the printing press tradition in the age of iPads and e-books. Ten years ago Saulters, who often sports a fedora hat, glasses and a dark, tidy beard and has been mistaken for a rabbi, was studying aerospace engineering at Georgia Tech. During his summer breaks he read writers known for their poetry and philosophy, not their engineering discoveries. Saulters’ classmates pondered how F-16’s climb vertically while he tinkered with words. He once made a list of English language verbs and got up to 11,460. After getting his degree from Georgia Tech, Saulters gave over to his love of words and applied to study poetry at UNCG’s creative writing program. He says most everyone in the program finds Brilliant somewhere along the way. Saulters first ran into Brilliant downtown at Elsewhere arts collaborative and museum and then at some local readings. When Glenwood Books opened, Saulters began stopping by. The store had authors he wanted to read, “not the flavor of the month.” Little by little, Saulters realized that he was interested in taking up the tradition. “I really like a handmade book. In the march towards e-books we’re missing potential. We’re losing the texture of a book, the way words pop off a page, which can’t be reproduced in digital technology.” He adds that early in his apprenticeship he realized he got an “unexpected charge” out of designing books, “figuring out the logic of page presentation.” Brilliant knew Saulters as an engineer, a peace and justice activist, a poet and a friend, and he knew he could trust Andrew the Good, as he calls him in his journals, to carry on what he and the other Unicorn Press workers began almost fifty years ago in California. On January 1, 2016 — the day after Unicorn turns fifty — Brilliant, who will be almost eighty, plans to hand the press over to Saulters. Andrew Saulters has always been a tinkerer. Currently, a 1957 Volkswagen engine sits in the middle of his kitchen. He likes to take sections apart and figure out how to put them back together. Making books allows Saulters to use both his love of putting things together and his love of words. During his early apprenticeship he challenged himself to computer typeset all of Moby Dick and then a book by the German philosopher Adorno, The Art & Soul of Greensboro

whom he disliked. “I had to square myself with him,” Saulters says. Typesetting turned out to be a way for him to make peace with Adorno. “You have to get into how the words present themselves on the page, not how you think they are.” Saulters says he thinks being a good small press publisher requires both the imagination to see the artistic possibilities as well as forbearance. The book should showcase the author’s words instead of being “an announcement the bookmaker’s cleverishness.” Since beginning his apprenticeship in December 2011, Saulters has designed and hand bound poetry collections by UNCG Professor Mark Smith-Soto and UNCG Creative Writing MFA alum Dan Albergotti. He also designed and published Pushcart Prize and Guggenheim award winner A. Van Jordan’s The Homesteader. On October 20, Unicorn will formally release New River Breakdown by Greensboro poet Terry L. Kennedy, another book Saulters has designed in his expanding role at Unicorn Press (See page tk). And in December, Unicorn will announce the winner of the inaugural Unicorn Press First Book Contest conceived by Saulters for authors who have not previously published a book of poetry. In the future he plans to purchase a traditional printing press so Unicorn can once again publish books typeset by hand.

In the meantime, Saulters is busy reviewing manuscript submissions recently sent from this region and farther away places such as New York, California and Mexico. As for the future, he would, “like to continue publishing contemporary American poetry — it’s what Unicorn built its reputation on, and it’s what I know best.” He’d also like to publish small, artful collections of short stories with just one or two stories in a book. Saulters says he sees an affinity between, “the young Al and the present me.” They’re both unwavering and confident in the small press’ ability to bring literary voices to readers like no other publication can. And as for choosing which manuscripts to accept, Saulters says, “I generally look for work that I want to bring to a wider audience. What catches my attention may be a remarkable voice or an unusual meditation or a true thing I’ve never heard said before. If I read something and immediately want to read it to someone else, that’s an unmistakable sign.” OH Molly Sentell Haile, whose work has been published in the Oxford American, is an MFA student in UNCG’s creative writing program and coordinates free creative writing classes at local schools and nonprofits through the university’s Center for Creative Writing in the Arts.

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O.Henry 29


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The Art & Soul of Greensboro


Short Story Winner

The Court Gesture Some things between a father and son never get said. But the message comes across just the same

By Felton FoUSHee

I pumped my shoes till they were good and

tight. They needed to be secure and steady for the task at hand. My new Reebok Pumps would give me the lift I needed to accomplish a feat that would both win a bet and take down a giant, a giant I called Dad. It had taken a lot of goading and smack talk to get him to meet my challenge. The verbal barbs I hurled at him in the weeks and days before he finally accepted had been borderline dangerous to my physical well-being. Now my dad was not an abusive man but a heavy hand or a leather belt were not out of the question when it came to a smart mouth. And so risking more limb than The Art & Soul of Greensboro

life I pressed him, “I can beat you on the court!” “You scared, say you scared!” I was laying down the ultimate challenge. Me versus him on a basketball court, youth versus experience, and I was confident youth would see me to victory. The origins of my decision to lay down the basketball gauntlet at my father’s feet were based in the gray of adolescence. I was tall and lanky, all height and no width. But while looking at some sales papers I saw in my mind the salvation that a set of weights could provide. Being a 14-year-old comic book reader, I would often pause on the page at the back of most comics that advertised the Charles Atlas way to building a muscular body. Sure, it was a corny ad that looked ancient to me, but the message was clear: Skinny was bad while buff would get all the girls’ attention. And one component necessary for this endeavor was the purchase of a set of weights. Not the water-filled plastic type so many of my friends had, but the hard, cold iron that clanged and pinged when in use. And so began the begging and pleading for the weight set. Two dumbbells and a barbell totaling 200 October 2013

O.Henry 31


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8/30/13 8:10 AM

The Art & Soul of Greensboro


pounds, all a skinny kid needed to begin his transformation into a “god” — or so I thought. The first time I asked my father to buy the weight set for me he said, “No, you don’t need them.” The second time he said, “I’m not wasting my money on something you’re not gonna use.” It was on the third try that I got the bright idea to say, “Let’s play basketball for the weight set!” The laugh my father let out nearly brought me to tears. It was as if I were a stand-up comic and my best joke went better than expected. It was only after the trash talk and refusal to let it go that he began to take me seriously. “Best two out of three in twenty-one.” “OK,” he said. It was then that I knew I would not only be pumping iron in a few days but I would also be on a new plane. I would be superior to my father even if only for one evening, but I would have as an eternal reminder to him the cold hard weight set. I thought, we’ll see who’s doing the laughing when the clanging and pinging sounds of those precious weights were coming from my room. I was brimming with confidence and bravado on the day we decided to have our showdown. It was a Thursday evening in spring, and we had decided that the court at Vandalia school would be sufficient for our purposes. My only concern about the location was the amount of time it would take us to make it all the way to the Montgomery Ward at Carolina Circle Mall to get the weight set. It was already getting dark. So I decided I would have to make quick work of him and that would give us just enough time to get to the store. We rode in silence to the court; there was no need for rules clarification. In twenty-one, baskets are two points followed by a max of three free throws of which if all three are made, you get to keep possession and try to score two again.  Growing up, these rules were universal and binding to anyone who played a pick-up game, so we had that understanding.  

Short Story Winner

I had a few thoughts that I had to reconcile within myself. They were thoughts of what my father had been capable of in his youth on the court. I had heard some of his friends mention from time to time how he had skills. I had fleeting memories of going to games as a toddler when he played for a rec league affiliated with Cone Mills, his employer at the time. I remembered the time he had bought me one of those rubber balls for a quarter from the coin gumball machine. I was in the stands playing with my new green rubber ball, the game was going full bore, the pace so fast I couldn’t keep up. So I was passing the time bouncing my rubber ball on the bleachers. Unfortunately, I couldn’t keep up with it either. It bounced away from me instead of up or back at me as it had been doing before. I gave chase and before I knew it I had caught it. I picked it up and started to walk back to my seat. All of a sudden I heard the referee’s whistle, louder than it had been before, and then someone yelled, “Get that kid off the court!” I looked around and quickly realized that kid was me. I was caught in a stampeding herd of high top sneakers, tube socks and knees. Now I began to run, not towards the bleachers and the safety of my seat but toward my dad. Yeah, my dad, who was running toward me with his arms out and a look on his face that seemed to say, “Son, what the hell are you doing?” So I showed him my rubber ball. But before he could reach me and say, “Oh, I understand, Son. You had to get your new green rubber ball,” someone swooped in and grabbed me up, the quick jolt of weightlessness nearly making me drop my ball, but I held it firm and floated back to my seat. Later I found out that my dad didn’t quite understand that I had to get my green rubber ball. I had to shake it off, no more reminiscing. I was no longer a helpless kid. Sure my dad had skills, but I was younger, faster and soon I would be stronger with the help of my new weight set. Besides, I had the latest in basketball shoe technology. My shoes had pumps; his were old canvas and

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October 2013

O.Henry 33


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34 O.Henry

October 2013

Short Story Winner rubber Converse Chuck Taylors. Who the heck was Chuck Taylor anyway? We stepped onto the court, the first to hit a free throw earned the first possession. I missed, he hit, no problem. I liked defense and I knew when he came down into the post, I’d get a block and then start my offensive barrage. So I checked the ball to him at half court, he took a few dribbles, and as I retreated to the post waiting to reject his lay-up attempt, he stopped near the free-throw line and drained a shot. He then commenced to hitting all three of his free throws and with that maintained possession. After repeating this process till the score was twenty-one to zip, my dad offered me a rematch. I accepted but didn’t bother pumping up my shoes this time. Pride was all I had. Well, pride and hope, but both of those things turned out to be more full of air than my shoes. It was more of the same. He even came down into the post and threw up a hook shot. I found myself doing more spectating than playing. I don’t remember him missing a shot or me making one. He made quick work of me, but never laughed or picked on me about it. When he finished me off with another three straight free throws to give himself twenty-one, we just walked to the car got in and started the ride in silence. As we approached home, I started to think of other ways to win the weight set from him, but I knew he wouldn’t go for a video-game challenge. Then I noticed something; we were passing home and getting on the highway. I didn’t think much of it at first, but the closer we got to Montgomery Ward the better I felt. Still silent; my dad parked the car and we got out and headed into the store. Was he going to get the weight set or was this a cruel joke; was this where he laughed again? We walked around the store till we came to the workout equipment. Then he looked at me and said, “Show me what you were talking about.” And so I did.  My dad and I never really talked about the basketball game. I sometimes think maybe he felt bad about not teaching me some of those court skills he had. Felt bad enough to buy me the weight set and not make fun of me, but not bad enough to throw at least one game. But my dad was a hard worker, off-shift twelve-hour days and overtime to boot. So as a kid I sought to take advantage of my dad’s all work and no play existence. But as an adult, I developed a true appreciation for his commitment to providing for his family, even if my basketball game did suffer for it. OH Felton Foushee recently graduated from UNCG with a degree in media studies. “The Court Gesture” won second place in O.Henry’s Short Story Contest. The Art & Soul of Greensboro


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Artist at Work

Greensboro’s Thomas Day

By Emily Frazier Brown

I interrupt furniture maker extraordinaire

Pete Williams in the late morning as he’s standing over a piece of plywood and a hand-drawn sketch of what will soon be a door. Pete is thin, with a relaxed posture. He stands just taller than average and greets me with smile lines. Leftover woodchips after hours of carving, shaving and sanding coat his hands in white dust, but we shake anyway.

In another life, Williams was a student at North Carolina State University, studying parks management. He became interested in sign language as an undergraduate and ended up teaching at a secondary school for the deaf after receiving his diploma. The school moved to Greensboro, and he followed. It wasn’t until the ’70s, during his summers off, that he took up woodworking after attending some classes at area community colleges. He fell in love with the trade and hasn’t looked back for thirty years. Pete and I had agreed to meet this particular morning at his workshop on Patterson Avenue; it isn’t until after our conversation, seeing the eager steps he takes back to the unfinished door, that I realize I’ve interrupted him. “Do you have a favorite?” I wonder. “Doors, pantries, armchairs?” He smiles

36 O.Henry

October 2013

modestly and shakes his head, thinking for a moment about his answer. “My favorite is whatever I’m working on at the time,” he finally says. He tries to keep working early in our conversation, picking up his hand plane to shave thin, curly layers of wood from the blond board. He supposes aloud that corner cabinets could contend for his preference — he thinks they’re very elegant. “But . . . that’s what I’m working on now,” he admits, “so that answer may be different later.” Whatever he’s making, whether corner cabinets or armoire doors, Williams pays keen attention to the surrounding interior of the home and the time period in which the home was built. It’s a challenge to take whichever piece of wood the customer selects and ensure the final product looks as if it came with the original property. But he draws his project out by hand and obviously relishes working with each piece until the natural pattern in the wood suits what he and the customer envisioned. We share a laugh and his upper body shudders when he recalls the wallpaper craze early in his career — after a hard day’s work making sure a cabinet door or kitchen drawer was perfectly sculpted, almost every homeowner in America had a patterned paper material glued to the interior. Paint is more popular now, but Pete doesn’t have anything to do with that part of the process. “I like how the wood looks,” he explains. “Different types of wood have their own natural color, and it changes over time.” Talking about the character of wood clearly delights him. He hands me a lightweight, nearly white piece of wood that’s in arm’s reach. “This is ash. It’s great because it doesn’t cause a lot of splinters.” Ash is what traditional baseball bats are made out of, he explains. The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Photographs by Sam Froelich

In the hands of furniture maker Pete Williams, wood becomes a work of art.


Artist at Work

We’ve

Moved “Have you ever made a baseball bat?” I ask. His face is taken over by an infectious grin, “Just one. When my son started T-ball — he’s 29 now— I took an old bat of my own, cut it to his size and reshaped it.” Cherry is next. He abandons his work station and I give up the idea of keeping my hands clean, following him around his warehouse, where each piece of timber is given a brief but intimate endorsement before he’s distracted by the next. He grabs a thin plank and guides me to a cutting station, where he shaves away a thin layer before tossing it to me. “It’s almost red at first,” he points out. “But over time, and especially if it’s left out in the sun, it lightens up. People really want that first color forever, so cherry stains are popular.” He’s silent for a moment, then muses aloud again that he really does prefer to just let the wood do its own thing. By the time we get to ebony, I realize that every wood has its own story to tell in the skilled hands of a modern-day Thomas Day, the legendary 19th century cabinetmaker and furniture designer from Caswell County. Ebony is a beautiful, dense, black wood that comes from the African rainforest. Williams likes to use it for miniature jewelry boxes that his wife can put on her vanity. Bocote is a favorite because the similarly dense, yellow-brown wood gets darker over time; it’s popular in high-end acoustic guitars. Spanish cedar is a favorite for its light weight. It wasn’t appropriately labeled in his stack of boards at first, but he confirmed it by bringing a piece closer to his face to smell. Walnut, a medium-weight wood that has a frayed texture down its middle when cut from the pit of the tree, is a favorite for its verThe Art & Soul of Greensboro

satility (used commonly in homemade furniture and musical instruments alike). Pete has worked independently since opening shop in 1980. Over the years, he’s taken on an apprentice through government programs for training veterans or taken on students, but that’s infrequent now. He learned the trade with a drill, a chisel and a mallet — and he still enjoys teaching himself. “Do you make anything for yourself?” “I like to think about it sometimes,” he says, describing various cabinets, vanities, chairs or chests that he’s considered over the years. “I’ve started a few, but then it gets really elaborate, and I realize I don’t have the time.” I admit I once thought I would fancy making myself a kayak. He runs his palm over a flat piece of mahogany: “I thought about that, too.” He comfortably pokes fun of himself, “but at this point in my life, it would have to be a pontoon boat.” There’s still a teacher in this man who loves the character of wood and is eager to help other people understand why he’s passionate about being a carpenter. At his core is a 19th century artist, who will be a favorite of Gate City homeowners for years to come. OH Emily Frazier Brown, who can be reached at emilyfrazierbrown@gmail.com, is a resident of Greensboro and O.Henry’s Muse.

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O.Henry 37


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38 O.Henry

October 2013

The Art & Soul of Greensboro


Birdwatch

Eastern Towhee One of the Piedmont’s most prodigious songsters

Male Towhee

Female Towhee

By Susan Campbell

“Drink your tea, drink your tea.” The

loud, emphatic call comes from dense shrubbery right outside our front door. It is the voice of the common, but frequently overlooked Eastern towhee. It is hard to imagine that such a persistent songster could keep so well hidden. But towhees’ larger size makes them a target for predators, so keeping hidden is the survival strategy they employ.

Short-billed and best spotted in brushy or grassy habitat, they belong to the sparrow family. The bird’s name originates from its typical “tow-hee” call. Backyard birdwatchers in the Triad are not alone if they’re confused when they finally catch their first glimpse of a towhee. Is it some kind of oriole? Perhaps it’s a young rose-breasted grosbeak? Males are quite colorful with rufous or chestnut flanks set against a white belly with a black hood. The towhee’s back and wings are also black, and they sport a long black-and-white tail. The bill, dramatically, is jet black. Females have brown feathers instead of black but still have distinctive rufous sides. Legs are long and powerful: good for kicking around debris in search of insects and seeds. Before the end of juveniles’ first winter, their eyes change from straw yellow to a dark red. Eastern towhees are found, as their name implies, throughout the Eastern United States. Here in the Southeast, they are year-round residents, although we do have some wintering individuals that breed farther north. Their diet is variable, consisting of invertebrates (insects, spiders, millipedes) during

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

the breeding season. However, in colder months, towhees can also be found scratching for seeds dropped by other birds from feeders. Their heavy bill allows them to take advantage of a variety of seeds. The powerful jaw muscles associated with such a strong bill make it a formidable weapon. If attacked, a towhee can inflict quite a bite. Males, who are territorial, will viciously attack each other during turf disputes and may inflict mortal wounds from grabbing the body or head of an opponent. When food is abundant in spring and early summer and males cluster around food sources, aggression ensues. The same may occur in fall or winter if they congregate around feeders. It is not uncommon for Eastern towhees to raise three broods in a summer. Broods vary from three to as many as five young. Nests are simple affairs, in short shrubbery or even directly on the ground. As a result, nestlings often do not remain in the nest long after their eyes open and downy feathers begin to cover their bodies. They will move around noisily begging from the adults. Young towhees will instinctively run for cover if their parents sound the alarm. A little known fact about this species is that it was first described by some of the earliest Europeans to arrive in the New World. The artist-cartographer John White noticed towhees during his visit to the English colony on Roanoke Island around 1685. It was this trip that documented the colony’s disappearance and planted the seed for North Carolina’s storied Lost Colony. White’s unpublished drawings of both male and female towhees predated the famous work by Catesby of the birds of Colonial America from the late 1700s by more than a hundred years. OH Susan would love to hear from you. Send wildlife sightings and photos to susan@ ncaves.com or call (910)949-3207. October 2013

O.Henry 39


Sign of the Season

The Great Pumpkins Centenary United Methodist’s popular Pumpkin Patch is a familiar October sight — and a sweet deal for everyone.

By DaViD ClauDE BailEy • phoTographS By lynn DonoVan

Everybody calls it the pumpkin church,

and why wouldn’t they? Just look at the photos. The pictures, taken last year by Lynn Donovan, show Centenary United Methodist Church’s now iconic pumpkin patch at the corner of Friendly and Elm. Church history is a little blurry on just when all this pumpkin business got started, but Ann Atchison, who retired as church secretary in 2003, shares her memory of the day that Faye Gulley, the youth minister at the time, came to her bursting with enthusiasm: “I remember Faye coming into my office and saying, ‘I have a great idea.’” Why not blanket the front lawn with pumpkins and sell them to help fund the youth program, with the first 10 percent going to the church? “I said I thought it was a great idea,” Atchison recalls. That was maybe in 1974 or 1975. A story by O.Henry’s own Jim Schlosser in the News & Record in 2005 explains, “The pumpkins come from Pumpkin U.S.A. of Greensboro, which Janice GattonHamby and husband Richard Hamby started thirty years ago.” And they still do, but it’s now known as the Pumpkin Patch. The location, on N.C. Highway 150 north of Greensboro, hasn’t changed. “Centenary looked like a perfect place for a pumpkin patch,” Gatton-Hamby told Schlosser. “It’s on the crest of a hill. Great traffic flow. Good visibility.” “Last year we raised $9,500,” says Juli Odell, the current youth minister at Centenary UMC. That was based on the sale of about 2,000 pumpkins. “We have a pumpkin festival and activities for the children each year,” she says. This year, the festival is on October 19. As many as a hundred volunteers help out, especially with unloading the pumpkins. Atchison, who’s been a member of the church for forty-three years, says the fellowship of the pumpkin patch is what it’s really all about. But the main attraction is the photo opportunity that’s inevitable when Halloweencrazed kids dive into a sea of pumpkins. “I worked there for thirty-two years,” says Atchison, “and what I think is so neat about it is you would see mothers and families with children who would come and pick out a pumpkin like you’d pick out a Christmas tree.”

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The Art & Soul of Greensboro


This year the company will deliver 1,039 truckloads — 2,600 pumpkins per truck! — to nonprofits and churches in every state in the contiguous United States except for Vermont and Utah (six of them in Greensboro). The Pumpkin Patch pays for the lease, seeds, cultivation, irrigation, labor and trucking of the pumpkins, which are grown on Navajo tribal land in New Mexico, forty-five minutes south of Durango, Colorado, says Kevin Corrigan, sales and logistics coordinator for The Pumpkin Patch. The company employs twenty-five full-time workers and around 500 part-time, seasonal workers. Corrigan was just heading to the pumpkin patch to help coordinate a load when O.Henry caught up with him in September. He says Centenary’s pumpkin patch is medium-sized, with some churches ordering six truckloads of pumpkins, more than 15,000 pumpkins. Fifty varieties of pumpkins are grown, all of them edible. “Our pumpkins range from your ordinary orange to green-and-bumpy, to white-and-orange,” Juli Odell says. The largest pumpkins weigh in at as much as twenty-five pounds, while the average runs about 10–12 pounds. What happens to those leftover pumpkins? “We have a cow farmer who comes to get them and feeds them to his cows,” says Odell. So surely coming to a restaurant near you in November: fresh, local pumpkin-fed beef. OH David Bailey is the senior editor of O.Henry magazine.


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Gate City Icon

The Man Behind the Statue After losing nearly everything, my friend and neighbor, sculptor Janos Farkas, found a home in this city carved out of a forest. With luck, he’ll never be forgotten again.

By Tim Swink

The Student

maintains a silent vigil in the Greensboro Bicentennial Garden. I was there at the very birth of this beloved sculpture . . . as a miniature clay, doll-like figurine emerged in increments, each one larger than the previous incarnation, until it stood in the artist’s studio as a life-size clay formation. The final, bronzed and clothed creation obscures what’s beneath. The statue was made anatomically correct in every way by the hands of the artist. But the clothing hides the detail of what’s underneath, just like the story behind the statue — and the man who created it. But I know.

The artist, Janos Farkas, was a friend of mine. A Hungarian sculptor, he was born in 1920 to a privileged family in Sávoly, Hungary. Janos was a brilliant artist and was known throughout Eastern Europe, where he studied the masters, eventually becoming one himself. A castle was his home (literally) until 1956, when the Communists invaded during the Hungarian Revolution. In 1978, my wife, Renee, my 2-year-old son and I moved back to Greensboro after a stint as managing editor of a weekly newspaper in Moore County. We rented a small, two-bedroom apartment across the street from Janos and his wife, Claudette, and we fast became friends. In the coming years, many a night we’d spend sitting down with them to a dinner of Hungarian chicken paprikash, carefully prepared by Janos, with just the right amount of spicy, hot Hungarian paprika. And the wine would flow. I have one vivid memory that causes me, and now even my wife, to chuckle. I recall one evening arriving at our apartment after work, getting out of my car and on one side of the street stood Janos on his front

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

porch, smiling, waiting for me, and holding up a bottle of red wine. I looked over at our apartment and there stood my wife on our front porch, holding our toddler’s hand, waiting for me as well. I’d like to say I could tell you which side of the street I went but I’m afraid that memory escapes me. Still, our families became close. He took delight in our child. He kept wrapped peppermint candies in his refrigerator. My son has keen memories of Janos pretending to pull something out of his ear and then telling him to open his hand, into which he would place a cold peppermint. The glee I saw in their eyes remains. He insisted my son call him Nagybasci, a Hungarian term of endearment, meaning uncle. I recall how he and our little one would sit on his back porch and feed ants, watching their procession to the food that he put out for them, and then guessing how long it would take them to devour the feast. He derived pleasure and amazement in creation. Janos was an old soul . . . older than his chronological age. He read palms and foretold the future. Much of what he said came to fruition. However, there was one exception. He said the lines in my palm indicated that one day I would become a wealthy man. Somewhere along the way, the lines must have gotten crossed. But then again . . . maybe not. Wealth is not always measured in monetary terms. Janos and I spent many hours together, much of it in companionable silence. He, working his clay model of The Student with homemade wooden tools. Me, sitting on a couch behind him, watching as his hand and tool became one as they danced across the figure, shaving thin pieces of clay, then alternately stepping back, arms akimbo, cocking his head slightly, and viewing the piece in its wholeness. But at times, the wine flowed freely and the night grew long, along with his stories . . . of his decision to flee his homeland because he detested communism and could not fathom living under a communist regime . . . of how he was shot at, chased and hunted, before finally arriving in Yugoslavia . . . of his continued trek for artistic freedom, arriving in Canada, where he met Claudette . . . of having to start all over as an artist in a land where he was unknown . . . of learning he had esophageal cancer and October 2013

O.Henry 43


Gate City Icon having his larynx removed . . . of having his Ph.D. in art and being fluent in seven languages, but of never being able to speak again, except in a gasping whisper, made by covering the hole in his throat with his open hand . . . and of moving to Greensboro, which he described as “a city that was carved out of a forest.” Often, our talks would take place when he should have been working and our conversations would end with Claudette scolding both of us. He was fond of wearing an ascot under his blazer with a black beret, strategically tilted to one side, highlighting his white hair, cut in a hip European style that flowed back over the top of his ears — one could not mistake the man as anything other than an artist. When Janos spoke, his hands were never still. He had a way of dismissing someone or something, such as the Communists or a piece of art he was dismissive of, by a backward flip of his hand while making an utterance, Left: Janus’s andmade tools. Right: Self portrait

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Gate City Icon something similar to “pfff.” He was demanding . . . of himself and others. But he was also endearing. With a mischievous smile and a twinkle in his almond-shaped eyes, he would get totally animated while explaining something to me. And yet he could be intimidating. It frustrated him if I didn’t comprehend what he was trying to say. It was so important I understood the concept he was trying to get across, because it all so really mattered to him. There was so much he wanted to say, but couldn’t.

Janus 1948 Janos Farkas passed away on April 29, 1994. He never achieved the acclaim here that he had enjoyed in his earlier years in Hungary. Claudette says this always caused him pain. But she’s trying to rectify that. She has recently enlisted the assistance of Kate Newsom, an art consultant and owner of Luxe Fine Art Portfolio here in Greensboro, who is photographing and cataloging the vast collection of Janos’ sketches, paintings, models and various sculptures across the state — a statue of newspaperman Josephus Daniels in Raleigh, a bust of astronaut Ronald McNair at N.C. A&T State University, and a statue of sea captain Ottway Burns in Swansboro. It is their intent and hope that they can find a home . . . a gallery or museum in which to place his art. It would be appropriate if his work remained in North Carolina. It would have been Janos’ wish. He loved it here. He was finally home in his city carved out of a forest. OH Greensboro writer Tim Swink, who can be reached at tj.swink@yahoo.com. His debut novel, Curing Time, is being published by Pegasus Books around November in time for the holidays, with a book tour to follow. The Art & Soul of Greensboro

October 2013

O.Henry 45


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Guilford Journal

The Third Life of David Caldwell

In an age when mental health was more mystery than science, the pioneering educator and minister relied upon faith and family to treat his troubled children

The Revolutionary War did not reach Guilford County until March 1781. Maneuvering for what of David both sought as a decisive battle, Caldwell first as a pioneer Generals Greene and Cornwallis endured spring rains and primiPresbyterian minister. For tive terrain as they waited for sixty years he served at reinforcements while protecting both Buffalo Presbyterian their resources. On March 15, they joined battle at the site of Guilford Greensboro sculptor Michiel VanderSommen used written descriptions of Rachel and David Church and Alamance Courthouse and in smaller Caldwell to craft these busts, which you can see at the David and Rachel Caldwell Historical Center. Presbyterian Church, a clashes in the vicinity. Rev. David and Rachel Craighead Caldwell found their home on the edge of the fighting. feat of longevity and compassion. Cornwallis placed a bounty of £200 on Caldwell’s head because he spoke out My second picture of him probably would be as a teacher who for fifty against the crown. His house was plundered, his library and furniture burned. years conducted a classical school, the foundation of which can still be seen A vigorous search was conducted, forcing him to hide under bridges and travel in Greensboro’s Bicentennial Garden. Established before the Revolution, by night. For two days, while Cornwallis occupied the farm, Rachel and the Caldwell’s Academy was the first of its kind on the North Carolina frontier. It children remained huddled in the corn crib with nothing to eat but some dried was modeled after the classical academies in Pennsylvania that led to the estabapples and peaches. Still, he emerged after the fighting, giving comfort and medilishment of Princeton and supplied the preparatory schooling for many of the cal aid to the wounded. At one point he found himself working side by side with Founding Fathers. the British surgeon Dr. Robert Jackson of Fraser’s Fusiliers removing limbs and There, he trained hundreds of the legal, political, ministerial and educational throwing them into wagons full of body parts outside the door. leaders of the North Carolina Piedmont and the broader South. His third contriCaught up after the war in the restoration of a community that had recently bution was as a doctor, a discipline for which he was not trained. The demands been so viciously divided as Whigs and Tories, Caldwell devoted all his effort of war and the emergency needs of his neighbors led him to develop a set of skills in ministration and the education of a new class of civil leaders. He remained a that fortuitously — and tragically — Caldwell had to use repeatedly on members of doctor on demand. his own family. While still small, one of the Caldwell children, Edmund, had a fall while at Caldwell was a graduate of Princeton College in New Jersey. When the complay and the blow to his head opened his skull to expose the brain. The Caldwells munity had a need for a person with academic training, their natural recourse nursed him and eventually he could function but in a very restricted way. David was to the minister. It followed that when they had medical needs, the minister went to both the Bible and his medical textbooks in an attempt to find explanawas the obvious natural recourse. Most frontier ministers acquired some stantions and treatment. Ultimately, Edmund would always be afflicted and had to dard medical books over time and gave assistance in their community in lieu of a be kept under close supervision. trained doctor. David Caldwell fell into this cycle. Toward the end of the century, growing concerns in the Caldwell home In 1768, some of his congregants joined the rebellious Regulators and fought centered on their daughter, Patsy. The only girl within a family of eight brothers, in the Battle of Alamance in the neighborhood of one of his churches. Caldwell’s Patsy held a naturally singular place. Her father was determined that his brilliant skills were required as a mediator, but when the battle began, his medical skills daughter should be denied none of the educational training he was providing for were sought in the absence of any other doctor. Once these skills had been apmales. Patsy responded enthusiastically. Competing against a house and a school plied, they afterward were called on routinely by the people of Guilford. full of boys, she became the best of them all. Just as she was entering the exciting

By Charles D. Rodenbough

Photograph from the Greensboro Historical Museum

I think

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

October 2013

O.Henry 47


Guilford Journal tivation for the expansion came from the two members of the family who needed special surroundings, and probably some concern in the broader community that these afflicted people should be kept from casual proximity to the students in the academy. The two elder sons of the Caldwells had followed their father into the Presbyterian ministry. Through their mother’s Craighead family, they had been called to the Mecklenburg area: Samuel, the eldest, to Hopewell Presbyterian, and Alexander to Rocky River. They had married into the Alexander and Davidson families respectively, thus uniting the most powerful Presbyterian leadership in Mecklenburg. Their prospects were excellent. In 1798 rumors reached Samuel that his brother was having some troubles at Rocky River, where congregants complained he was moody and sometimes morose. Samuel went himself to see the circumstances, and then David and Rachel decided that considering the difficulties they had experienced with Patsy, they should also see for themselves. On their arrival, Alexander assured them that all was well. He and Sarah were happy and she was pregnant with their third child. Worried, but satisfied that Alexander was only experiencing the vicissitudes of a minister at odds with a few of his congregants, the Caldwells returned to Guilford. David confided to Rachel along the way that having closely observed the development of Patsy’s illness and watching Benjamin Rush’s treatment of many psychiatric cases, he feared that Alexander was in a similar pattern. His son had been willing to identify his issues but seemed to see no way of overcoming them. He was drifting further into a loss of control: of his congregation, his family and his own mental condition. Only a few days passed before a letter arrived from Samuel. On Sunday during his sermon, Alexander had begun to rant as if he were in the presence of the devil. He had to be subdued. Then on Tuesday evening, Alexander had attempted to stab his wife. The news was devastating, and again the Caldwells departed for Mecklenburg, leaving their children, students and congregations in

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age of social activities, limited though she may have been as a preacher’s daughter, Patsy was seen to experience strange mood spells. At the wedding of her brother Alexander, she had a cataleptic fit. Rev. Caldwell consulted a friend and classmate at Princeton, Dr. Benjamin Rush in Philadelphia. Dr. Rush had prescribed mercury pills, known famously as Rush’s Thunderbolts, and bleeding, as painful then as it seems barbaric now. Such treatment did not discourage Patsy from the attention of young men and soon she was engaged. Courtship was no palliative for Patsy, and Rush suggested that she be brought to Philadelphia where she could be treated properly. Rush was a leading doctor and medical innovator, just some of the talents that placed him within a significant class of Founding Fathers. As consulting physician at Pennsylvania Hospital, Rush had urged that wards be large and open, freshly painted and lit by abundant windows. The women’s ward was separate, but black and white patients were mixed in the wards. Caldwell took an interest in the lunatic wards in the basement, which he found to be clean, neat and as bright as possible. Rush’s approach to the mentally ill was controversial. He stressed both the physical and the environmental basis in ministering to psychiatric disorders. He looked the patient in the eye, talked to the patient with dignity and was truthful in conversation. Melancholy, he observed, was often associated with intellectual achievement and creativity. After a period of observation, Rush recommended that Patsy be “trepanned,” a process used since ancient times to relieve pressure on the brain. It was a process of only temporary relief, lasting until the skull had grown back over the opening. Caldwell observed the operation and afterward Patsy recuperated in a summer house belonging to Rush. Patsy was not cured, though her condition had been relieved. She, however, faced the probability of several more incidents of trepanning during her lifetime. Needing more room for his family, Caldwell built a second house. Added mo-

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Guilford Journal a heightened state of concern. The details only made Alexander’s behavior more impossible to fathom. In a kind of manic rage, Alexander had threatened his wife with a knife. She was standing on the far side of the bed, and seeing the confrontation, Sarah called to the nurse to take the children into another room and lock the door. As she lunged for the door, Alexander had reached across the bed and cut her, but the wound had been slight. Barred in the room by himself, Alexander had then cut himself repeatedly about the body before he was restrained. On arrival, the Caldwells found that he was locked in the jail in restraints. Sarah and the children were with her parents. The Davidsons were of course terrified and at first unforgiving. Sarah, however, was compassionate, understanding that her husband had acted in a deep psychiatric melancholy that he could not control. She pressed no charges but never wanted to see him again, nor for him to have any contact with their children. Under the circumstances, the court released Rev. Alexander Caldwell to his parents and they brought him back to their home. Now the separate house seemed even more to be a wise arrangement. David Caldwell’s medical knowledge was concentrated on his afflicted children. Following Dr. Rush’s recommendation, they were allowed to function in their own pleasant surroundings, with constant care and observation. Patsy returned again to Philadelphia for another trepanning and then later to the nearby community of Salem for the same procedure, performed by the Moravian doctor, Samuel Benjamin Vierling. Alexander immersed himself in study. He constantly wrote, mainly sermons and treatises, all of which seemed to be without any resolution of ideas. He and his father conducted long theological discussions and from time to time he was allowed to attend one of David’s churches, even on occasion asked to give a prayer. For years David and Rachel struggled with the reconciliation of this tragic affliction upon their family but their faith never flagged. As they aged, they tended to respond that God had been gracious in giving them long lives so that they had been able to care for these children. When they died, David in 1824 a few months from his 100th birthday, and Rachel the next year, all three of their afflicted children were still alive. In his will David had provided for the care of each by their siblings. OH

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Historian Charles D. Rodenbough has written five books and is currently lead researcher on the Sauratown Project in affiliation with the Institute of African American Research at UNC-Chapel Hill. You might be interested in reading more about the life and influence of the Rev. David and Rachel Caldwell in If the Lord Is Willing and the Creek Stays Low, by Charles Rodenbough (2010) Amazon.com. The Art & Soul of Greensboro

October 2013

O.Henry 49


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October 2013

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Game On

Sometimes the Fairy Tale Comes True

By ogi oVErman

Twenty-one-year-old soon-to-be

PhotograPhs bonnie stanley

Playboy bunny meets recently retired NFL player, now playing in rock ’n’ roll band. After rocky start, the two fall in love and decide to get married. What could possibly go wrong?

Let us count the ways this scenario could — probably should — end badly. This is clearly a slow-motion train wreck, a disaster waiting to happen, a sawthat-coming script to a bad B-movie, right? Wrong. Against all odds and laws of predictability, this couple did get married, did make it work and are still together. What’s more, this is no recent romance where the first blush of love has not worn off. Indeed, for Dennis and Nancy Franks, the bloom is still on the rose after — as of last March 20 — thirty-one years. To look at them, though, one would think they just met last week. They hold hands, they laugh out loud, they go on dates, they gaze at each other like two googly-eyed teenyboppers. At times one is tempted to holler, “Get a room.” While the fact that Nancy was a Playboy bunny and Dennis an NFL player makes a nice hook for a story. Fact is, the life they’ve made for themselves would be just as compelling if they’d started out as, oh, a bookkeeper and a bricklayer. Today, Dennis is the executive vice president of global sales for Market America, while Nancy sits on numerous boards, is a tireless volunteer and manages the couple’s business and real estate affairs. She is also a teacher of the Japanese method of healing, Reiki, and is in fact, a certified Reiki Master. They live in the

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

same luxurious home, in the fashionable Friendly Acres neighborhood, they bought when they moved to Greensboro in 1995, although they do own two resort properties. Both of their daughters, Lauren, 29, and Katie, 25, got married within nine months of each other last year. But none of that’s the story, none of that is what makes Dennis and Nancy Franks such an intriguing couple. No, the story is the obstacles they had to overcome and the hard work it took for them to get to this point. One might surmise that Dennis Franks, coming out of the obscenely wealthy world of professional football, had a leg up on his peers when he entered the business world. Yet, that is a common misconception, one that Dennis is quick to dispel. Although he had what would be considered a successful six-year career — four with the Philadelphia Eagles and two with the Detroit Lions — the most he ever made a season was $137,000. “When I broke in in 1975, my base salary was $18,500,” he says, “with a $4,000 bonus.” If your team missed the playoff, you grossed about $23,000. “So a lot of people said you left the sport with a lot of money — uh, I don’t think so.” When the corner office with the big company he assumed would be waiting for him didn’t materialize, Dennis’s life started spiraling downhill. “Athletes think they’re going to play forever, and then when it’s over, it’s really over,” he muses. “I couldn’t find my place, which led to depression, which got deeper and deeper.” After what he calls “a scrape with the law,” he started gaining weight, up to about 300 pounds (his playing weight was 250). “I knew I had to make some changes in my life and was headed down the wrong path, but didn’t know how to do it.” Then two people entered his life who would show him how to make those changes. One was his future wife. The other was J.R. Ridenger, now the president of Market America, an Internet marketing and product-brokerage company. October 2013

O.Henry 51


Game On

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Dennis had gone back to visit his old Eagles teammates at preseason training camp when a drop-dead gorgeous 21-year-old photographer came up and introduced herself. “I had met him casually at a picnic one time when I was 15,” recalls Nancy. “I heard someone call his name and said, hey, I’ve met him, I think I’ll go see if he remembers me. He goes, ‘Oh yeah, I remember.’’’ And then she adds with a wry grin, “that was the first lie of our relationship. “He says, ‘I have a band and we’re playing Friday night. Why don’t you come by and I’ll buy you a drink?’ So I went and was sitting at the bar and he walks right past me. I said, ‘Hey, you invited me here, the least you can do is buy me a drink.’ I think I made him feel bad, so he says, ‘Why don’t I take you to dinner?’” Against her better judgment, Nancy accepted his dinner invitation and, after that less-than-stellar first impression, found that there was more to him than an ex-jock/wannabe rock star. Much more. The two were married in 1982 and shortly afterward, Dennis got involved in his first network marketing company, the Cambridge Diet. He wound up making $1.2 million in his first 18 months. Unfortunately, the company’s fortunes sank as quickly as they’d risen, going into Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization. He and Nancy had to do a little reorganizing of their own, basically having lost everything but their house. But, whether or not he knew it at the time, he had found something more valuable. He had found his niche, his place in life. He had found something that was hinted at but never quite actualized during his football career. As a second-team All-American center at Michigan and 1978 team captain of the Philadelphia Eagles, both his coaches, Bo Schembechler and Dick Vermeil, had told him, but perhaps it had never quite sunk in. He was a motivator, able to get his fellows to perform at their peak capacity, to be their best selves, to give it the proverbial 110 percent, whether football players or salesmen. Dennis Franks was a leader. Three more network marketing firms would come and go, each seemingly with boom and bust cycles and varying degrees of success. Then came a phone call from J.R. Ridenger, who had gotten his name from his old roommate with the Eagles, Vince Papale. Ridenger had decided that he was going to reinvent the multilevel marketing industry, away from the Amway pyramid model, and needed someone with a track record who could inspire others. Papale had told Ridenger that Dennis Franks was his man. Turns out, he was right. Market America was, however, anything but an overnight success. Ridenger was down to his last $50,000, was forced to jettison three of his unscrupulous partners, leaving Dennis and Nancy and a handful of trusted souls who believed in him and his concept. The Art & Soul of Greensboro


Game On “It was 1993, a decisive time where most people would have quit,” recalls Dennis, “but J.R., God bless him, was determined to make this thing work. It really tested your beliefs and tested your skills, but you know the old saying, ‘When the going gets tough, the tough get going,’ and that’s what we did.” Fast forward twenty years, to August 2013. Market America boasts over $300 million in revenue, 180,000 independent distributors, 650 employees and 3 million customers. It has just held its annual convention in the Greensboro Coliseum for 22,000 of those distributors from a dozen countries. Dennis is not only one of the keynote speakers, but his band, the Sky Travelers, was the headline musical act. While their early years with Playboy and the NFL are but distant memories these days, they are, by and large, fond ones for both Dennis and Nancy. “That was every girl’s dream back then,” says Nancy, breaking into a smile, “and I got to live it for a while. I met a lot of interesting people, including Hefner himself, had a lot of fun, and made some friends, some of whom I still keep up with. All in all, I enjoyed it.” Aside from going from a playoff team with the Eagles to a perennial doormat with the Lions, Dennis, too, has very few regrets. “I’d like to think I was part of the group that laid the foundation that turned the Eagles around and made them a Super Bowl team two years after I got traded,” he says. “I was the team MVP and captain in ’78, and that’s an honor you never forget. I had the whole offensive line at our wedding. And years later, when Coach Vermeil won the Super Bowl with the Rams, he sent me one of the game balls. Those are memories to last a lifetime.” It’s tempting to say this fairy tale romance has a happy ending, but that would be premature — because the end is not in sight. They’ve recently taken up archery and biking and are taking cooking classes together. They travel the world over, planning a job-related trip to London and Dennis’ fortieth reunion of his ’73 Michigan team that went 42-1 during his four years there. They have a passel of friends from their civic involvement and, especially, their days heading up the Page High Booster Club. Dennis is still writing and playing music to his heart’s content, and Nancy has a goal of being on her professional comedian son-in-law’s comedy show in Los Angeles. “She thinks she’s hilarious,” says Dennis. “I am hilarious,” responds Nancy, followed by a jab to her hunky husband’s arm. Geez, get a room. OH Ogi Overman has been a reporter, columnist and editor for a number of Triad Publications since 1984. He is currently compiling a book of his columns, to be titled A Doughnut and a Dream. The Art & Soul of Greensboro

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The Chip Callaway Lecture Series CO M I N G I N 2 013 - 2 014 . . . A Rich Spot of Earth: Thomas Jefferson’s Revolutionary Garden at Monticello- Lecture and Book Signing by Peter Hatch

11.14.13 | 6:00 P.M. - 9:00 P.M.

furniture matters. In our mission to place essential furniture donations in homes of people getting their lives back together, The Barnabas Network receives lots of non-essential furnishings we can sell to you to raise much needed funds for operations. Come find a bargain for a great cause!

Chip Callaway leads us on a romp through the English Countryside, the Chelsea Flower Show (2013) and several of his latest gardens.

02.13.14 | 6:00 P.M. - 9:00 P.M. Brunch and a Lecture by Douglas Thomas, owner of a 400 acre estate in Connecticut

03.13.14 | 10:30 A.M. - 1:30 P.M.

Remember to visit the Triad Plant and Landscape Festival

05.17.14 | 9:00 A.M. - 2:00 P.M.

Join us at the Garden for a lecture by Tony Avent, owner of Plant Delights Nursery

05.17.14 | 10:00 A.M. - 12:00 P.M.

thebarnabasnetwork.org

To learn more visit our website,

www.cienerbotanicalgarden.org or call 336-996-7888. 54 O.Henry

October 2013

The Art & Soul of Greensboro


Life of Jane

Marathon Woman Licensed to kill — or, at least to drive

By Jane Borden

Illustration by Meridith Martens

I wouldn’t have done it for love or

for family, but the combination of both compelled: OK, I’ll get a driver’s license. I realize a license-todrive is not a lofty goal, that in fact most Americans have them — all of the time. But mine was many years expired and starting from scratch meant donating three half-days of life to the DMV. Second, I lived in New York City, where everything is harder to do and takes twice the time, which is one reason why they get everything delivered. And, third, although 32, I was still deeply mired in the adolescent tendency to deem as insurmountable many tasks that in reality are nuisances, such as taxes, budgets and putting clothes into anything other than piles. In fact, this is a trait of all New Yorkers, which is the other reason they get everything delivered.  Except drivers’ licenses. So I didn’t have one. For eight years.  But then, an irreconcilable conflict. A boy I liked planned to run the Tobacco Road Marathon in Wake County and had, as an extension of his excitement and pride, asked me to fly down and cheer him on, to which

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

I’d agreed long before my sister chose the same morning as the time of her child’s christening, to which she implicitly invited me at my own birth, and to which I’d implicitly accepted by not having died since. Our conversation: Her: “You’ll be there, right?” Me: “Actually, I was planning to ask if I could stay with you that weekend anyway.” Her: “Great! Why?” Me: “Nathan’s running a marathon in Cary.” Her: “Cool. When?” Me: “Sunday morning.” Her: “How will that work?” Me: “It’s very early, so I can do both.” Her: “But you don’t even drive!” Me: “I’ll get my license.” Her: “Really.” Me: “Really.” Her: “What if you’re late?” Me: “I won’t be!” Her: “I can’t believe you would miss this for a boy.” Me: “I won’t miss it!” Her: “You better marry this guy!” Five minutes later, a phone call from my mother: Me: “Hey Mom.” Her: “You better not be late!” First came driver’s ed, a $75 character study of a Bronx-born, mid50s man, who taught us three things about driving — two of which regarded not drinking while doing it — and spent the rest of the time detailing his life and the variety of vehicle collisions he’d experienced or witnessed. It was October 2013

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GreensboroBuilders.org 56 O.Henry

October 2013

The Art & Soul of Greensboro


Life of Jane terrific. Then I read the New York State drivers’ handbook, passed the written test and got my learner’s permit, a milestone my other sister found much funnier than I did. Then, the day of my driving test. This time, someone else also donated a half-day since, of course, I couldn’t drive myself. We met in Queens, a couple of blocks from the apartment of another friend who’d agreed to lend his car for the day. Then we drove down to Brooklyn and waited in an auto line wrapping two blocks before it was my turn. There are stereotypes about peopole who administer driving tests. I have met the man on whom they’re based. He opened the passenger side door and entered without speaking. Our conversation: Me: “Hello!” Him: [Silence. Writing on his pad.] Me: [Silence. Waiting for him to finish.] Him: [Deep sigh] “Go, already!” Me: “Oh, sorry, I thought you . . .” Him: “GO!” His remaining words: “Turn right.” “Turn right.” “You stopped too close to that car.” “Pull over.” “Go in reverse.” “Turn right.” “Turn right.” Mine: [Silence.] Then he handed me a slip of paper and exited without speaking. I asked the other instructor to interpret: “You passed. Looks like you stopped too close to a car, though.” It was clear it’d mean most to Nathan if I were not only stationed along the route, but could also be at the finish line. However, the marathon started at 7 a.m., the church service started a half an hour away at 11 a.m., and my online research suggested most people spend four hours in a marathon. So I asked the important question: “How fast are you planning to run this thing?” He said he was speedy. I said, “You better be.” The morning of the race, I borrowed my brother-in-law’s car, drove to a spot along the old Tobacco Trail, waited, cheered, drove to another spot, waited, cheered, drove to the finish line, waited, cheered, raced to the parking lot, the church, the church parking lot and at 10:55 a.m. sidled into the seat Mom had saved. Afterward, Nathan joined us (post shower) at my sister’s house for lunch. He ate a full half of a hot chicken casserole. And a year and a half later, I married him. But we had to wait in line at the Greensboro Courthouse twice because the first time I’d forgotten to bring my driver’s license. OH

Somewhere between oooh and aaah!

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Jane Borden is a native of Greensboro and the author of the highly-acclaimed memoir I Totally Meant To Do That.

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

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William Mangum Fine Art Annual Open House & Meet the Artist November 1st - 2nd, 10am -1pm & 2pm -5pm 2166 Lawndale Drive 336.379.9200

Come and see our new Holiday selections, meet Bill and receive your complimentary print of Deer Creek Hideaway. Have your personalized print framed for just $49 and take advantage of our other Open House special offers.

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October 2013 Music Like Dirt For as long as I can remember, perhaps before, I have been infatuated with these pecan trees. Mistaken their knots and wounds for eyes, ears, which, in this country, is becoming easy. Their roots will never abandon us. I’m enamored of the centipede, how its long fingers weave together like a favored grandparent’s: ready to cushion our first falls, shield us from the emptiness of our futures. And I admire the squeaky black mole, passionately burrowing beneath the grass, devouring termites & maggots and other malignancies never brought to light. Is there life without the swoop and dive of the gull, its feathers glowing brilliant and white in the noonday sun? Without the reliable waves frothing clean on the shore? Let me stay here forever. Let the black sand and dogwood blooms sustain me. Let the night rest lightly upon my face, the cool scent of dew parting my parched lips. I understand why the robin does not leave for winter, its head dutifully cocked to the ground — listening. I am in love with the family cemetery. The green grass weaving an afghan of warmth for those grown thin with age. The live oak holds sentry — its roots reaching out, binding us tightly together. And I am not afraid when new monuments sprout from the soil. No matter the names, I am happy, overjoyed even. I can claim the calm and peace of the handcrafted bass or fiddle — the knowledge of my own distinct sound and range — my undisputed moment in this song. — Terry L. Kennedy Terry Kennedy’s newly released New River Breakdown was designed, hand-stitched and bound by Unicorn Press. To read more about Kennedy and Unicorn Press, see page 17.

It don’t matter what I do If I win or if I lose Sweetheart I’m nothing without you — Steve Earle The Art & Soul of Greensboro

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Photo courtesy of otto zenke estate

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The Importance of Being

Otto Lavishly talented, private, Otto Zenke’s brilliant interior designs came to symbolize new South culture and elegance — and the By Jim Schlosser ideal Gate City home.

J

Photography by sonny sherill

ust drop Otto Zenke’s name. No explanation was needed. He was that well known for a half century before his death at 79 in 1984. People here and elsewhere still remember him as vividly

as his designs. Otto Zenke “gave the new South a whole style of interior decoration,” the highly esteemed Connoisseur magazine declared in a 1985 remembrance. In a 1965 column, New York interior designer William Pohlmann called him “the confidant and advisor of the merchant princes that rose in the South in the 1930s and 1940s and came into their own after World War II.” His home city of Greensboro basked in being the nexus of Zenke’s gilded world. His ads in The New Yorker magazine put us on the map: “Otto Zenke Inc., studios in Greensboro, Palm Beach and London,” they trumpeted. “Two things are known about Greensboro,” quipped the late Joe Morton, owner of an area chemical company that merged with the Charles Pfizer Co. in 1958: “Burlington Industries and Otto Zenke.” Morton built a Tudor revival manse with French flourishes that still stands on Kemp Road West in Hamilton Lakes. It resembles a small castle. Zenke, of course, did the interior. “I like beautifully, clear simple lines rather than ornate details,” Zenke once said. “And I like a client who thinks big — not necessarily from a cost standpoint, but from one who can envision a grand concept.” As the thirtieth anniversary of his passing approaches, it’s worth looking back on his legacy and his love for and loyalty to the Gate City. “He brought eminence to his adopted city of Greensboro,” Connoisseur magazine observed. “Elegance and beauty were his trademark.”  Though he traveled the world, Greensboro was the hub of Zenke’s activities and where he maintained his studio. Zenke’s original studio was something out of the old South, a tree-shaded 19th century home at West Washington and Eugene streets, a “jewel in the jungle,” as his beautiful dwelling on the seedy side of downtown was once called before it was torn down. Built by Eugene Morehead, son of Governor John Motley Morehead — who lived in The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Blandwood Mansion less than a block away — the home and Zenke’s studio were featured in House Beautiful magazine in the 1960s. Even though Zenke and preservationists put up a mighty fight to save the house in the 1960s, the city used its power of eminent domain to demolish it to make way for the brutalist modern City-County Governmental Center, which Zenke, a foe of modern architecture, must have loathed. He was not alone. As a replacement,  Zenke built an exquisite, L-shaped, 28,000-square-foot combination home, studio and workshop across the street. The  stuccoed English Regency studio/home/workshop had very clean exterior lines and was graced with dormers and two chimneys. Zenke added ivy to the yellow stucco facade along with other architectural touches, including his trademark porch lights. When finished, the building looked as if it had been there a hundred years. He connected it to two old houses he owned facing Eugene Street, which he furnished with fine antiques. After Zenke’s death, the county bought the complex for $1.8 million, and Sheriff B.J. Barnes occupies Zenke’s spacious old office. His department uses Zenke’s old studio. The exterior still looks pretty much as Zenke left it and the building retains Otto Zenke’s name. One didn’t drop in on the studio. No indeed. Doors stayed locked. An attendant came when a bell rang to see if Mr. Zenke “was available.” Zenke’s clients, of course, all lived at a decent remove from the then unstylish and deteriorating downtown. They included the Prices of JeffersonStandard fortune; philanthropist Joseph Bryan, who used to visit Zenke at his Irving Park home from the 1930s until Zenke’s death; the Borens of Boren Brick and Pomona Terra Cotta Co.; Ben Cone of Cone Mills Inc.; and William Meyers, owner of the old Meyers Department Store, who had a Georgian home that still proudly stands in Fisher Park. Polly O’Connell, who with her husband, Walter, a top executive with the Olin Corp.’s aluminum division, had Zenke decorate homes they lived in at different times — in Ireland, in Connecticut and, in the 1940s and early 1950s, on Greensboro’s Nottingham Drive in Irving Park. Polly O’Connell was October 2013

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Photo courtesy of otto zenke estate

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Photography by sam froelich

quoted in Connoisseur as saying of Zenke, “He was able . . . not only to design houses but to do something more: make them. That’s why so many of his clients went back to him.” Another client was financial tycoon Richard Jenrette, a North Carolina native who became (and is) one of the nation’s richest men through his investment banking firm of Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette. Just as others collect, say stamps or butterflies, Jenrette collected and restored old homes in America and across Europe. He wrote in his 2000 book Adventures with Old Houses, Zenke’s “legacy of good taste still lingers, especially in the Carolinas. In his day, he decorated the finest homes in North Carolina and South Carolina.” Those include highly visible and well known landmarks such as Jenrette’s Ayr Mount estate in Hillsborough (gardens by Greensboro’s Chip Callaway), the president’s house on Franklin Street at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the Carolina Inn in Chapel Hill, the Myrtlewood estate in High Point, the Doak Finch House in Thomasville, Tanglewood near Winston-Salem, and the Raymond Firestone house in Southern Pines. Usually, people with artistic talent leave Greensboro to seek fame and fortune in New York. Zenke did the opposite. After studying at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn and Parsons School of Design in Greenwich Village, the Brooklyn-born Zenke worked as a designer for B. Altman & Co. in New York City for ten years. There he designed and built fourteen beautifully decorated miniature rooms on a scale of 1.5 inches to the foot. They reflect his love of late 18th century English interiors and twelve of them are now on display at the Greensboro Historical Museum. According to the museum’s costume and textile curator Susan Webster, Zenke was inspired to create them after seeing miniature rooms developed by a company for display in Altman’s show windows, with full size duplicates of the rooms inside the department store. Zenke’s own miniatures, which came later, were so popular they went on tour. “It appears that miniatures were a popular trend professionally in the 1930s, a way to showcase work, and they were enjoyed by the public as well,” Webster says. Even though Zenke was one of Altman’s stars, he left in 1937, coaxed to Greensboro by the owner of Morrison-Neese Furniture Store on South Greene Street, which catered to Greensboro’s wealthiest residents. For thirteen years, Zenke had the entire fifth floor of Morrison-Neese to himself and a free hand to work as he pleased. His talents were quickly noticed and clients were calling and spreading the word about him. In 1950, he left the furniture store to start his own studio a block away in the old Morehead House. His niece, Julie Bedell of Church Hill, Maryland, recalls how she and her husband, physician Rowland Bedell, would visit Zenke in Greensboro. Letting him know they were in town by buzzing his studio in their private plane, they easily identified his compound of buildings, “because it was the only place in downtown with trees,” she reflects. Once he established himself as Otto Zenke Inc., the so-called shelter magazines — Architectural Digest, Southern Accents, House Beautiful and others — found him and featured his work, glowing about the understated way he achieved formality in rooms.  There was no such thing at the time, but Zenke’s target audience would  have been the “one percent” of the population referenced so often in the  recent presidential election. But unlike many designers, Zenke rarely charged a fee. He made his money by requiring clients to buy all their furnishings, including priceless antique show pieces, from his studio, an unusual practice among decorators. When one client insisted she wanted to use a carpet she had found on her own, Zenke said goodbye. In his book, Jenrette describes how Zenke transformed a co-op apartment in New York City, using what he termed the “Instant Otto” touch: “In record time . . . he installed a handsome antique Georgian fireplace mantel as a focal point and had his carpenter build pilasters and moldings to define the architecture of the room,” Jenrette wrote. One day, a huge moving van pulled up, “and by the end of the day, beautifully cut draperies and carpets had been installed, chandeliers hung, antique as well as comfortable upholstered furniture installed, old leather-bound books placed in the bookcases, dining room porcelain service in place — everything I could possible need.” The Art & Soul of Greensboro

The lobby of Greensboro’s Biltmore Hotel was one of Zanke’s last undertakings.

He was considered an authority on antiques, which he bought in England and Ireland. Often he had someone in mind when he made a purchase. Agnes Doak of Thomasville once said she would leave empty space in a room “for five years, if necessary, until Otto finds what I need.”

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Photo courtesy of otto zenke estate

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Photo courtesy of otto zenke estate

Jenrette continues, “The centerpiece of one of his rooms would inevitably be a handsome Georgian fireplace. On either side of the mantel he favored tall book cases, filled with old leather-bound books.” Sofas, comfortable chairs, glowing lamps and warm, richly textured rugs would fill out the room. “The look that Otto Zenke favored still sticks with me today,” Jenrette said. “The resulting warm, home-like feeling of mellow leather book bindings and beautiful architecture and cheery fire in the fireplace is one I have replicated over and over in my other houses over the years.” As Jenrette’s co-op indicates, Zenke’s work reached well beyond the Carolinas. He redecorated a mansion in South Bend, Indiana, originally built by a member of Studebaker car company family for former South Carolina’s Converse College president Oliver Cromwell Carmichael Jr. In Florida, he did the interior of the exclusive Everglades Club. For a member of the wealthy Mary Reynolds Babcock family, heirs to the R.J. Reynolds fortune, he brought Southern charm to a house on Sunset Strip in Los Angeles, not to mention Reynolda House in Winston-Salem. Louise Price, granddaughter of former Jefferson Standard mogul Julian Price, had Zenke do the Litchfield Plantation in South Carolina. “It wasn’t what he did; it was how he did it,” client Polly McConnell was quoted as saying after his death. “What he did was capable of great variety. None of the places he did for me looked the same.” Zenke rarely ventured from what he loved most, the Regency and Georgian look dominant in England from the 18th century on. Still, he had a fanciful side. The light fixture that hung over his enormous desk in Greensboro once illuminated a billiards table. He was considered an authority on antiques, which he bought in England and Ireland. Often he had someone in mind when he made a purchase. Agnes Doak of Thomasville once said she would leave empty space in a room “for five years, if necessary, until Otto finds what I need.” One of his best works, in the 1950s, was the house of former Jefferson Standard President Ralph Price (son of Julian Price), a Georgian beauty that to this day covers nearly a block on Carlisle Road in Greensboro’s Irving Park. Janie Price, who lived there for years with her late husband, told Connoisseur that Zenke “was an utter perfectionist. He had an unerring eye for scale and proportion.” When the Greensboro County Club needed furnishings or refurnishing, it always called on Zenke. The present club was built after Zenke’s death. Older members still long for the L-shaped bar in the old club. He did the first Greensboro City Club, which was on the top floor of the old First Union Bank Building at the corner of Friendly and North Elm streets (now called the Self-Help Building).  As one admirer once observed, he could even add elegance to a place that served simple meals, the two-story S&W Cafeteria that stood from the 1950s to late 1970s on East Market Street downtown. “He was different,” says Glenn Hodgin, now in his 80s. “Some of the clients thought they knew more than he did. But 95 percent would accept his recommendations.” Hodgin worked for Zenke for more than thirty years, learning interior design from him and his vast collection of reference books. “He respected his clients and they got along nicely with him.” But, Hodgin once commented how Zenke could be a demanding boss, one who wanted things his way. “When you did disagree with him, you listened to him anyway and in the end, he was right.” Hodgin described Zenke as generous with Christmas bonuses. Many employees stayed with him for years, right up to his death. On one occasion, however, there may have been some internal friction. Two years before Zenke’s death, his brother, Henry (now deceased), and his wife, Virginia, split from the firm. They set up shop directly across the street from Otto Zenke Inc., establishing The Zenkes, Inc. But the new company’s website gives no indication of any lingering animosity: “In 1982, wishing to continue the fine standard of service (by Otto Zenke Inc.), Henry and Virginia decided to start their own business,” it says. Today, Virginia remains active and the business carries the Zenke name into its second generation through Virginia’s  children — daughter, Genia, and The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Otto Zenke “gave the new South a whole style of interior decoration,” the highly esteemed Connoisseur magazine declared in a 1985 remembrance.

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Photo courtesy of otto zenke estate

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October 2013

The Art & Soul of Greensboro


son, Chris. Genia Zenke declined to be interviewed about Otto Zenke. She did send an email citing Otto Zenke Inc.’s economic impact on Greensboro at its peak, when it employed thirty-five people, including four designers, seven upholsterers, five drapery makers, two refinishers, even a cook. “In addition . . . the company supported several local subcontractors, furniture makers and textile manufacturers large and small,” Genia Zenke notes. Zenke, a life-long bachelor, never sought to glorify himself, only his business, those who knew him say. He was rarely photographed and didn’t give speeches. He did stir the punch bowl when he occasionally let his studio/ home be on the annual homes tour sponsored by the Greensboro Council of Garden Clubs. His office and bedroom, with a sunroom off to the side, contained few mementos of his private life, only fine furnishings he had collected. He wore suits made in Italy and had courtly manners. At his death, the one word that people most frequently used to describe him was “gentleman.”  In one of the few interviews he ever gave, Zenke explained to Architectural Digest in 1973 what went into the Zenke touch: “Decorating is a very personal thing,” he told the magazine. “Designing an interior is a matter of understanding and expressing the personality of the client. It is important to know something about him — how he lives, entertains, what sort of person he really is.” The late Burke McConnell, an executive vice president and board member of Burlington Industries, and his wife, Doris, hired Zenke to do their home on Sunset Drive in Irving Park in the late 1940s. Patsy McConnell, their daughter, who lives in Greensboro, said when her parents moved to tony Darien, Connecticut, Zenke took the furniture in the Greensboro house and personally arranged it in the new house. “Daddy would say to Otto, we got something like a thousand dollars to spend,” Patsy McConnell says. “Otto always tried to stay within the budget. Mother loved what he did. Daddy trusted Otto.” Connoisseur magazine praised Zenke’s graceful Georgian style, saying it “fitted the South — its times, its manners, its modes — like a glove.” But Richard Jenrette worried in his book that as Zenke grew older his style became “too rigid.” Many clients, however, kept coming back to Zenke expressly because he didn’t change with the times. Kay Phillips, wife of Dave Phillips, High Point businessman and former ambassador to Estonia, once said, “We honor his look. We have been loyal to him and his taste. He is a pride.” The family used him repeatedly through the years, and the house that Zenke did for Dave and Kay Phillips in 1979 at their farm on Wallburg-High Point Road in Davidson County just outside High Point, remains very much a Zenke creation. After Zenke died, the couple used Glenn Hodgin, his top assistant, to keep the Zenke touch fresh. In his 70s, Zenke’s health began to fail, although his business continued, with the Biltmore Hotel downtown one of his last undertakings. He looked for a buyer for his business. But he was only willing to sell his client list, his studio and its furnishings, without the name Otto Zenke. Bedell, his niece, who inherited and cherishes his book collection, says Otto’s insistence on not having his name associated with a post-Zenke company probably kept the business from being sold. Potential buyers wanted the name that people liked to drop in conversations. “He didn’t want to go to his reward,” Bedell says, “with someone else using his name.” Hodgin and other Zenke designers went off and formed their own firms. Glenn Hodgin says it was probably best that the business died with his old boss. “The business was always centered around him,” Hodgin says. “He was the business. The sign said Otto Zenke Inc. and that was for sure.” OH

Otto Zenke miniature collection, Greensboro Historical Museum. Andrew Payne, photographer

Jim Schlosser is a contributing editor of O.Henry magazine. He can be reached at jim@ohenrymag.com

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

October 2013

O.Henry 67


Why I Hate Grimsley hy I hate Grimsley, which in my day, to the disgust of Page students, was known as Greensboro Senior High School — as if it were the city’s only high school: Because my parents and my brother always rooted for Senior. They went there. Because during my time at Page, the Senior High boys were so preppy and conscious of their looks they never strayed far from a mirror. If a mirror wasn’t handy, they used the glossy sheen on their Bass Weejuns and Nettleton tassel loafers to check themselves out. They were a bunch of snobs, too. Because Senior students thought they were the only ones sophisticated enough to go to a dermatologist for their goobs, as their nasty pimples were called back then (zits now). They thought Page students stood at the mirror, picked at their pimples and covered them with Clearasil. Page students went to dermatologists, too. Because Senior was too close to my favorite restaurant, Ham’s on Friendly. Their students got to go there for lunch. It was too far from Page to make it there and back in whatever time they gave us for lunch. We had to settle for the White Oak Cafeteria across from the mill of that name and the TV Grill, across from WFMY’s station on Phillips Avenue. Because Senior students considered Page students a bunch of hicks. They chanted “Trade School, Trade School” when we clashed in sports. Those responsible for this insult were kids who lived in Starmount and Sunset Hills. They overlooked the fact that Page’s district included Irving Park. Back then, Irving Park kids for the most part went to Page, instead of private schools. Because Senior girls, Whirliegirlies, in their Villager brand outfits, walked past Page’s boys as if we were proverbial potted plants. The exception to that, of course, was my future wife, who happened to live on the wrong side of town and had to go to Senior. Senior thought their girls were prettier than those at Page. If so it was only because Senior in those days had many more students than Page. Senior girls spent so much time primping. Because Senior had an enormous stadium and Page didn’t have one at all. Page’s team played at either War Memorial Stadium or borrowed Senior’s 10,000-seat stadium. Senior had a practice field for its football team. Page’s team had to be bused to Latham Park the first two years of the school’s existence. Page in those formative years didn’t even have an auditorium. We walked to nearby Ceasar Cone Elementary School and used its auditorium for assemblies. Because Page students felt insulted that one school got to call itself Greensboro Senior High or Senior, when Page and Dudley were well within the city limits. Our outrage got results. In the fall of 1962, Senior was renamed Grimsley High. If the namesake, George Grimsley (isn’t it curious that his name began with a G?), had been alive and had children, they would have gone to Page. His Fisher Park home was in the Page district. With the Grimsley name, the school finally had to stop putting “Senior” on its basketball jerseys. Or did they? I think Coach Bob Jamieson, who never liked Page, may have left the jerseys stay the same for a while. Typical Senior arrogance. I didn’t stoop that low but present and former Page students called the newly named school grimy Grimsley. Because during my time at Page we were so small and Senior so big. That enabled Senior to have an enormous band. Page, building a student body class by class, had a pitiful looking bunch of marchers. We had to supplement the ranks with borrowed musicians from junior high schools.

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October 2013

Because Senior had such a classy looking campus, designed in the late 1920s by renowned local architect Charles Hartmann, who had designed the Jefferson Standard Building. Senior was the first school in North Carolina to cost more than $1 million. During my time at Page, Senior had the best of everything because it had been the only white high school in the city for so long. Senior students didn’t seem to appreciate their campus, however. They were too busy admiring themselves, not the buildings and grounds. Page was stuck with a generically designed school. By 1958, cities were no longer spending money to build stately schools that made a statement about how they valued education. Because Senior has a lousy nickname. What the hell is a Whirlie? I covered many a tornado when I worked for newspapers and I never heard one called a whirlie. Senior should have stuck with Purple Whirlwinds, its nickname until the 1940s. Pirates is a perfect nickname. One of the largest lakes within the city limits, Buffalo, is across Cone Boulevard from the school. Never mind that the first class to enter Page, in 1958, voted to nickname the school the Panthers. A quick change had to be made after officials realized another high school, Dudley, had been using that moniker since at least 1929. Because Senior thrashed us in football the first we time we played in 1960. But it goes without saying after I left Page that I have relished the beatings the Pirate football teams have rendered year after year upon the Whirlies. And it gives me much pleasure when I remember during my senior year, Page beat Senior in basketball — twice. I was on the Page golf team. We beat Senior my last year. Let it be shouted: Page High forever. Go Pirates. Grind Grimy Grimsley. Let the beatings continue. OH

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Photograph by Lynn Donovan

By Jim Schlosser, Page Class of 1961


Why I HatePage By Jim Dodson, Grimsley Class of 1971

o be perfectly honest, I was deeply hurt and not a little disappointed when I read my dear friend and O.Henry colleague Jim Schlosser’s savage and surprisingly shallow-minded attack on dear old Grimsley High School, my alma mater — not to mention that of his parents’. Jim, you must understand, was my first journalism hero way back when I was the lowly wire boy and summer intern at the Greensboro Daily News in the early 1970s and he was the equivalent of a newspaper rock star, the Bruce Springsteen of North Carolina journalism — this despite the obvious handicap of having attended (and presumably graduated from) the “other” high school in Greensboro, Walter Hines Page. Clearly, he compensated for this misfortune by honing his splendid mind and writing skills among the freethinking Quakers of Guilford College rather than private school towel-snappers at Chapel Hill’s School of Journalism. But that’s perhaps a story for another day. Unlike so many of the big egos in the newsroom, the Jim Schlosser I knew never condescended to interns or more than once or twice asked me to drop off his dry cleaning or go stand in line at the DMV to renew his long-past-due driver’s license. And I swear on the sacred marriage vows of saint Charles Kurault himself that he never once phoned me late at night asking me to phone his bride (a lovely G.H.S. gal, by the way) and invent a cockamamie story about the governor personally summoning him for a breaking news story of vital interest to every citizen of the state when, in fact, he just wanted an extra beer at the Red Hat Tavern with Jerry Bledsoe, Stan Swofford and that celebrated bunch of hard-drinking newshounds. OK, just ONCE. No, sir. Jim was such a straight arrow and good guy, I naturally assumed he must have enjoyed a sunny childhood and a fine character-molding upbringing that included the good fortune of attending what would have been called, in his day, Greensboro Senior — the same place my father and his own parents graduated from in the 1930s. So now the truth is out and the gloves are off, so to speak. Jim, who turns out to be a veteran and evidently somewhat

T

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

bitter Page Pirate, has been carrying around the heavy unresolved burden of unredeemed hatred for good old Grimsley (née Senior) High for years and feels — on the eve of the annual Page-Grimsley football game — he must stoop to making truly asinine comments about Grimsley late in the game. In case you just moved to town or are passing through, permit me to explain that there are at least half a dozen high schools in Greensboro, very fine ones in fact, and it isn’t as if Smith or Dudley or any of the Guilford high schools (Southeast and Northwest) don’t enjoy loyal followings and worthy praise. They do indeed. They just don’t inspire that kind of good spleen-venting hatred. In a nutshell, it’s just that this longstanding football rivalry between Page and Grimsley goes back for decades and dwarfs almost any other seasonal debates in this town, taking on the broader overtones of a blood feud as potent and natural as that of the warring Capulets and Montagues of Shakespearean fame, a sporting rivalry that has divided more than one happy Gate City Home with natural rancor and personal animosity and not a few body-specific epithets and disgusting references to the lifestyle choices of one’s mother. Outstanding reporter that he is, my good friend and (former) newspaper hero Jim Schlosser has basically established the facts, the sobering how and whys of a Page Pirate’s natural hatred of all things GHS: The illustrious history as one of N.C.’s oldest secondary schools, the original name that bore the pride of an entire city, the classy campus that rivaled a college and came equipped with a beautiful stadium, the gorgeous Whirliegirlies, the Weejuns and Nettletons, Ham’s for lunch, Rick Dees, the living legacies of a Purple Whirlwind, a nickname unique in all the world — well, friends, it’s all basically true. That said, with all due respect and a long friendship notwithstanding, what kind of loyal Whirlie would I be to let such callous and casual roguery go unanswered? Actually, being a true and proud son of the Purple Whirlwind, I’m not going to dignify such rank name-calling and place myself on the level of those who simply knock others down in order to make themselves somehow feel better about where they hail from. That said, I understand how psychologically difficult it must be to be a product of a geographically-challenged school that seems to think Buffalo Creek might once have been the ancestral home of Atlantic pirates and named itself for a famous Carolinian — journalist and ambassador Walter D. Hines Page — who hailed from the tiny Sandhills town of Aberdeen (100 miles south) and, so far as anyone knows, never set foot in Greensboro except perhaps to get off the train and relieve himself on his way to Washington, London or some other world capital. Yes, fair enough, Page High has whupped our butts in football — and most other sports — for about as long as I care to remember, and true, you’ve had a string of Morehead Scholars and assorted academic honors that have brought national attention to your school. But win or lose the biggest football game in town this October, we aging sons and Whirliegirlies of dear old G.H.S. will always have something ancient and comforting that has carried us through the decades, something that you envious Page Pirates will never get your greedy, grubby hands on. I’m speaking of Nettleton shoes, of course. We beat y’all in well-worn, out-of-date tassel loafers, by God, every time. OH October 2013

O.Henry 69


Book Excerpt

Joanna By Jill McCorkle

Now

Joanna is holding the hand of someone waiting for her daughter to arrive. Only months ago, this woman — Lois Flowers — was one of the regulars in Pine Haven’s dining room where the residents often linger long after the meal for some form of entertainment or another. She was a woman who kept her hair dyed black and never left her room without her hair and makeup and outfit just right. She had her color chart done in 1981 and kept the little swatches like paint chips in the zippered section of her purse. She told Joanna that having your colors done was one of the best investments a woman could ever make. “I’m a winter,” she said. “It’s why turquoise looks so good on me.” She loved to sing and some nights she could convince several people to join in; other nights she simply stood in one corner and swayed back and forth like she might have been in Las Vegas singing everything she knew of Doris Day and Rosemary Clooney and Judy Garland. She loved anything Irving Berlin had ever written. Now she has forgotten everything except the face of her daughter, random lyrics, and that your shoes and purse should always match. Joanna has watched the daughter night after night leaning into her mother’s ear to sing — first upbeat (clang, clang, clang went the trolley). She always ends with one of her very favorites like “It Could Happen to You” or “Over the Rainbow” or “What’ll I Do?” Joanna — as ordered by Luke’s many rules — keeps a notebook with an entry on each of the people she sits with. She has to do an official one to turn over to the nurse who oversees her work, but this is a different, personal notebook she writes just after someone has died. It’s a notebook she bought and showed Luke to prove to him that she was taking his assignments seriously — a bright yellow college-ruled spiral-bound notebook, which was all she could find at the Thrifty Market there close to Luke’s house. It was near the end for him so she didn’t venture far. “This is my page,” he told her. “Everybody should get at least a page.” She writes what she knows: their names and birthplaces and favorite things. Sometimes she asks questions: What is your first memory? Your favorite time of day or holiday or teacher or article of clothing? How would you describe your marriage? Was there something you learned in your life that surprised you? She records the weather and season and last words if there are any. Luke said that this would be her religion, the last words and memories of the dying her litany. She should read and reread the entries regularly like devotionals. Keep us close, he said. Keep us alive. Don’t ever let us disappear.

******

Notes about: Lois Elizabeth Malcolm Flowers Born: July 14, 1929. Died: Friday, June 7, 2010, at approximately 10:35

a.m. Pine Haven Retirement Facility, Fulton, North Carolina. It was a warm sunny day, drapes fully opened to let all the light in, just as Lois Flowers always requested. The room was comfortable; somehow in spite of all the stark nursing apparatus, the room was as warm and welcoming as Lois herself. On the very first day, she invited me in and told me how lovely it was to have me there. Not the ideal situation, she said, but still lovely to see you. She said she had not known my parents well but sure did like those hot dogs my dad made, especially the Chihuahua because whoever heard of putting hot salsa

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October 2013

on a plain old hot dog? Lois Flowers loved music and she loved fashion. She had a subscription to Vogue that had never lapsed in over forty years. “You could never get away with outfits like that here in Fulton,” she said. “But it is important to know what folks are wearing elsewhere.” She loved turquoise and the way people complimented her when she wore it. “I’m a winter,” she liked to say, and referred often to a folder labeled “Personal Color Harmony” and all the little color samples within. She never went shopping for clothes or lipstick without it. Her favorite holiday was Halloween because she loved to see children having so much fun, but mainly because she liked a good excuse to wear orange even though her chart said that winters do not wear orange well. She decided that even if she looked horrid, so what? It was Halloween, but, she said, I looked quite striking in an orange alpaca sweater and black gabardine slacks. It’s the one time the chart got it wrong. She still had the orange sweater and insisted that I take it and promise to wear it every October 31. She gave her daughter, Kathryn, the newer Halloween sweater, a honeycolored cashmere with black cat and witch hat buttons. Kathryn is a true autumn and that sweater is perfect for her, she said. You can see why I want everything perfect for her. She suggested I rethink the way I wear my hair and then put a hand to her mouth and apologized for such a rude remark. “This is all new,” she told me. “This way I say things I don’t mean to say,” and I was able to assure her that I completely understood and that I am reconsidering what to do with my hair. She smiled and blew me a kiss. She said, how about some golden highlights and something layered to give body? She had matchbooks from every nice restaurant she had ever gone to. Her favorites were Tavern on the Green and Windows on the World. She said she loved eating in New York City. She said her husband teased her that all it took for her to love a restaurant was for it to be in New York City and have lots of windows and a preposition in the name. She told Kathryn she needed to get back there, that they should take a trip and see a show. When told that both restaurants were gone, she held a firm position that she still needed to go there. “And so do you!” she said, always pulling me into the conversation. “And if there’s not a young man in your life” (she asked me often if I had met anyone interesting), she said that I should just go alone. “Women do that now,” she said. “A woman can go wherever she The Art & Soul of Greensboro


PhotograPh by cassie butler timPy

wants right by herself.” Once, while her husband and Kathryn were out at the County Fair, Lois Flowers burned her Maidenform bra in a hibachi in their backyard. When her husband asked what’s that smell? she said she had no earthly idea. She said it made her feel connected to something big and important, that she stood there in the backyard and pretended she was at a rally in New York City. She never told him what she had done, even when she saw him studying the ashes and what looked like a scrap of nylon. She had never even told anyone about it until that day; she said, I have always felt liberated. Her last words were to Kathryn, spoken two days before she died. “Honey, do you have homework?” She had asked that question hundreds of times over the years and if Kathryn did not have homework, the two of them went shopping. Lois Flowers loved her daughter and she loved to shop. Kathryn said that all of their important conversations took place during those little shopping trips. What to expect when you start your period. Why you got that bad grade. Why a sassy mouth is not a good thing. How your reputation is your most prized possession. Why you should always do your best. Why good hygiene is a must. What boys do and do not have good sense about or control over. These topics were often whispered over the lunch counter at Wood’s Dimestore where Kathryn got a cherry Coke or a milkshake and Lois got a cup of black coffee, her red lipstick staining the fat lip of the heavy white mug. Sometimes they ate pie or got a hot dog and always they were flanked with a bag or two of things they had found to buy over at Belk or the Fashion Bar or Smart Shop. “I can’t wait to get home and see what all we got,” Lois would say many times, and Kathryn said that once home, her mother kept the excitement going for many more hours with a fashion show and then talk of all the places Kathryn would go to wear the new things and all the wonderful things that would happen as a result. “Her predictions were not often right,” Kathryn said. “But she was sincere.” I hugged my orange alpaca sweater close as I waited there with Kathryn. I wanted to tell her how lucky she was to have had such a relationship with her mother, but it was clear that she knew this. She held firmly to her mother’s hand for as long as she was able, and then when the men came to take her mother away, she reached for my hand as we followed them out. I will miss them both very much. [page 77, Joanna’s notebook] OH On October 29, Jill McCorkle will read from Life After Life and sign copies of it in the Virginia Dare Room of the Alumni House at 4 p.m. on the UNCG campus. Info: (336) 256-0112; library.uncg.edu/calendar/events/; or www.lifeafterlifebook.net/. The Art & Soul of Greensboro

October 2013

O.Henry 71


Queens of Cheap Chic Home décor on a dime

By cynthia adamS • PhotoGraPhS By John GeSSner

Can good design be cheap — as in, consignment store cheap— and yet très chic? Three Triad designers give an unqualified yes. They delivered proof when O.Henry editors challenged them to create a space with a caveat. With the help of a consulting designer of their choosing, Denise Cranford, Sharon Nussbaum, and Irene Pritchett, aka the reigning Queens of Cheap Chic, were each required to design a room with items found inside consignment businesses: Shoppes on Patterson, Aubrey Home and The Red Collection. Achieving very different outcomes, these creative mavens and their handpicked designers demonstrated that stylish décor isn’t necessarily dependent upon price or budget. Vintage trumps new in many cases. The spice is in the unexpected detail. With a tight deadline looming, the treasure hunts began.

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Naturally Southern

Location: Shoppes on Patterson, 2804 Patterson Street, Greensboro Designers: Denise Cranford (store owner) and Larry Richardson, collector and owner of Plants & Answers In 2011, Denise Cranford and her husband, Allen, repurposed the building at 2804 Patterson Street and opened Shoppes on Patterson, an antique mall and consignment shop with more than thirty vendors. Drawing from the items found in the store’s “shops”, she and Larry Richardson, collector and local florist, created what Richardson describes as a room infused with “traditional Southern charm.” Cranford says their design reflects forty people with different tastes. Richardson has long worked with Furniture Market designers; big names including Martha Stewart and Jonathan Adler, have visited his store. Through experience, he has learned “Life is about an eclectic mix.” So he adroitly pulled together Primitive, French Country, Mid-century Modern, and English furnishings and accessories harmoniously, in a way that might represent a room in his 1924 Sunset Hills home. Richardson chose porcelains and greenery as essentials to infuse both color and energy. No surprise that a florist loves greenery. “Bring Nature into the house to bring a room to life,” he insists. In this case, the greens are preserved boxwood, which he likes for their longevity. He also insists upon a sense of balance in any design project — symmetry matters. He paired English tea caddies, Canton china, and artwork of mixed styles and periods. Richardson says he worked with twin themes of memories and collections. “The blue and white theme is classic, and never goes out of style,” he stresses. “The most expensive item is the corner cupboard from the 1700s. But the six plates are inexpensive and give good impact for the money.” His design formula is straightforward — striving for harmony and balance. Richardson says that pleasing combinations become effortless if you just think “pick” and then proceed. The painting was the room’s focal point. Then he breaks it down: “Pick a theme — in this case, it was blue and white; pick a rug to ground the room; pick art. Every room should have at least one mirror.”

72 O.Henry

October 2013

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He also pushes the envelope. By going vertical rather than simply thinking of floor space, Richardson lends greater impact to his décor. “Note how the addition of wall brackets also add dimension,” he says. Lastly, Richardson recommends that while creating balance, “Try not to be too repetitive.” He loved the punch of blue and white, but chose a toile tray and wood elements for contrast, and to complement the porcelains. Nineteenth century urns in a complementary color deviate from the dominant blue. Richardson avoids overwrought designs by employing his rule of five. “Try not to introduce too many colors or textural changes — keep it to five.” The Art & Soul of Greensboro


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In the end, the décor showcased items in a way that Richardson says demonstrated “touches we like, and could use at home.” Simple touches like the glass balls in the silver punch bowl, vases, and guinea fowl statuary were as essential as the painted French side chairs flanking the sideboard or the antique corner cupboard. The Southern charm concept had sales appeal. Before the day ended, the English painting above the sideboard was already marked “SOLD.”

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

SILVER TEA POT

October 2013

O.Henry 73


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74 O.Henry

October 2013

VINTAGE PLATES & CERAM IC PEAR

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Neutrally Grounded

Location: Aubrey Home, 3500 Old Battleground Road, Greensboro Designers: Sharon Nussbaum (store owner) and Diane Wise

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TRAY TABLE & CRYSAL DECANTER

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Aubrey Home, owned by Sharon Nussbaum, is adjacent to Southern Foods (founded by Nussbaum’s family) in a leafy section of Greensboro near an historic battlefield and park. The business showcases more than twenty-five vendors, designers, artists and boutiques. Nussbaum also sells upholstery fabrics wholesale. She and another staff member offer design services to Aubrey Home clients. Their design mantra: Restore, reuse, and redecorate. Overnight, Nussbaum and designer Diane Wise created a casually elegant living room that is traditional yet youthful. Nussbaum describes the soft color and choice of furnishings as an example of something trending favorably among all ages: “Eclectic — neutrals with pops of color.” Employing soft charcoal fabric on a pair of transitional chairs, Nussbaum kept the dominant upholstery colors quiet and subdued. The addition of gray and beige Ikat fabrics lend a youthful sizzle. Inexpensive reproductions — a starburst mirror and urns on the mantelpiece — are natural focal points that add punch without busting the budget. The nearby wall hangings are particularly appealing to Nussbaum, and also inexpensive — “A great value at $125,” she says. Local artist Janice Burns painted the art. Neutral basics and a sprinkling of inexpensive accessories mixed with upmarket pieces are something she personally favors, illustrating the concept of high/low design. The most costly item in the living room the pair designed is a neutral Robin Bruce sofa. But the graphic zigzag print pillows “are a steal at $35–45, versus a designer price of $200.” The high/low ideal, Nussbaum explains, “Offers all price ranges and lots of looks — not all vintage, not all traditional.” They also appeal to do-it-yourselfers, selling the Amy Howard paint line and offering decorative painting classes to personalize and perfect vintage finds. “Many people shop for bargain furniture here in the store to rescue, restore and redecorate, which is the Amy Howard slogan!” The Aubrey Home customer, Nussbaum explains, is often seeking to add only a simple décor touch. Other novices seek an anchor furniture piece. “We sell tons of accessories to those just trying to spruce up what they already have — and larger pieces to those furnishing a whole room or starting from scratch. Even the older crowd, which may be downsizing, shop to find smaller-scale or fill-in pieces.” Designer Diane Wise, who sells design items at Aubrey Home, supports using repurposed furnishings. “Having worked for a high-end furniture company at High Point Furniture Market for over thirty years, I have been exposed to good, expensive, design . . . the kind we see in all the decorator magazines. I have learned that if you have the time, the energy, and the desire, you can achieve that same look for much less by shopping at places like Aubrey Home. “As a vendor, I have the opportunity to market items I have been unable to use in jobs and have been able to purchase for good prices throughout my shopping travels.” The hazard of the trade, the irresistible aspect for vendors as well as customers, is the perfectly delicious find. The single item in the room Nussbaum can barely resist taking home? She holds an elegant glass antique inkwell in her palm. The glass twinkles, refracting the morning sunlight. “See?” she says, sighing. Then she gently returns it to a stack of antique books.

October 2013

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Bookish Dining

Location: The Red Collection, 1411 Mill Street, Greensboro Designer: Joanne Gardener, in-house stylist Nothing beats The Red Collection, Greensboro’s oldest home furnishings consignment shop, for sheer mass. The shop opened in 1996 on Merritt Drive near Spring Garden Street. With over 23,000 Triad consignees — some are still active, other are not — the store outgrew its home and moved to Patterson Street, into an 18,000 square foot building. From there, it has expanded to a second location — a new, 39,000-square-foot store on Mill Street. Mother and son owners, Irene Pritchett and Thomas Hayes, consign antiques, furniture, artwork and accessories. Prices drop over time. However, by then, the “find” maybe someone else’s. Their in-house stylist, Joanne Gardener, stands near a library/ dining room she created from their vendor booths at the Mill Street location. She also sighs as she contemplates the room she has created. “I like everything. It’s hard to work here and not shop!” A dining room was her choice of designs, because, as owner Pritchett says, “With the holidays, dining rooms are right up there with our best sellers.” Within minutes, the table within their design is, in fact, sold, illustrating the point. The Christmas china just placed on the dining table will have to move, Pritchett points out to her son. He grins. Like a Zen garden, whatever Gardener creates is temporal, destined to change, as items go out the door. A massive bookcase was the stylist’s inspiration point, also the most expensive piece within the dining room. It suggests the popular, practical concept of merging library and dining area. “The bookcase is spectacular,” she says admiringly. “It’s built of reclaimed barn wood.” Local artist JoAnn Smith created the paintings. The bookcase is not inexpensive. At the lower end of the price scale are the lamps, Italian urns, and drapery finials. “It’s a mix of old and new,” says Gardener. In the pursuit of that perfect find, all things are possible — in their massive spaces they offer new, old, pricey, rare, cheap and quirky. The Red Collection averages one hundred or more customers on weekdays, says Pritchett. Come Saturdays, maybe five to six hundred. The message: Buy now — or cry later. OH

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GLASS VASE GRAVY BOAT The Art & Soul of Greensboro

TOBY TEAPOT October 2013

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Ranch Dressing Reimagining an American family classic in Brown Town

F

By Nancy Oakley • Photographs by Stacey Van Berkel

or some generations, the term “ranch house” conjures visions of Formica countertops, braided rugs and Leave It to Beaver reruns. But to an interior designer like Kara Cox, the architectural style represents endless possibilities. “I think sometimes ranches get a bad rap because they’re very typical, very average,” she observes. “But the reason they’re so popular is they’re great for families. A ranch can really transition from different stages of life.” And that’s precisely why she and her husband, Stephen, chose to live in one in Greensboro’s Brown Town neighborhood, bordered by Cornwallis, Cleburne and Cone Boulevard, and so named for its developer, Brown Corporation. For Stephen and Kara, who after all does use her own home to reflect her talent, it’s important never to forget that what makes a house a home is, above all, accommodating those who live there, especially when children are involved. The brick exterior of the Cox home looks about like any other from in postwar The Art & Soul of Greensboro

suburbia, but it’s deceptively spacious, given a second-floor addition on the back of the house that overlooks a big, shaded backyard, worlds away from city traffic and hustle and bustle — and ideal for a 7-year-old and a 3-year-old to entertain themselves and friends on a swing set or practice a budding golf game. “We have this great screened porch, which we love right now, because we can sit out here and watch the kids play,” Cox says. But she envisions the space morphing into an extension of the kitchen to include a laundry room and mudroom and changes to the backyard, as well. “It would be a great yard for a pool,” Cox reflects. “We could add a two-car garage . . . we just have options.” Options, and a mix of clean modern lines with classic Southern sensibility, fuel her creativity. Having apprenticed with local designer Lindsay Henderson, Cox started her own enterprise, Kara Cox Interiors (www.karacoxinteriors.com) in 2010. Earlier this year, she showcased her talent by designing a girl’s bedroom for the Junior League ShowHouse at the Adamsleigh Estate. Viewing the event October 2013

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“I definitely have a bit of glam to my design style. I also like what mirrors can do for light and reflection; they’re really great in small spaces or to help brighten a room that feels dark otherwise.” as a “coming-out party,” Cox selected items that are easily adaptable. “I chose things that were neutral, the larger pieces of upholstery and the big pieces in the room, so they could be worked into other spaces. I also wanted to use things that were unique and handmade — and custom-built for that space, because I feel like that’s where a designer can really show creativity.” Partnering with young artists and artisans, such as painter and Greensboro native-turned-Charlestonresident Kate Long Stevenson, and New Orleans artist Michael Clement, who fashioned some ceramic lamps, Cox was able to “show that young people can create beautiful spaces and beautiful products,” she says. “I just chose things I loved.” It’s a good thing, because after the room in the ShowHouse was disassembled, Cox had to find a home for the pieces that didn’t sell. What better place to incorporate them than in the ranch in Brown Town? The Michael Clement lamps now adorn end tables in her living room, as do two chairs from Hickory-based Wesley Hall that are upholstered in woven silk — a generous donation from the Jim Thompson company in Thailand. They blend seamlessly with an older, neutral couch, a rug made of sea grass and colorful pieces of artwork. “Adding art, adding handmade objects to your house is really important to give that collective look,” Cox explains. “I think it’s really important for people to go and explore art and recognize that it’s local and something we should support.” In fact, Cox tries to use as many North Carolina artists and manufacturers in her designs as possible. She points to a beloved secretary desk by Hickory Chair — a piece from her tenure with Lindsay Henderson, which she waited five years to acquire; a series of wall-mounted, gilt sculptural flowers by Chapel Hill artist and former Greensboro resident Tommy Mitchell; the crystalline pottery from Seagrove that she and her husband, both natives of Randolph County, have collected over the years; and a commissioned, The Art & Soul of Greensboro

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“As a child, I loved color and texture and pattern and put interesting outfits together — never repeating the same outfit twice. Interior design is a lot like accessorizing an outfit, putting a room together. The lamps and the pictures are kind of like your jewelry.” abstract painting of the family enjoying a day at Caswell Beach. But how compatible are silk upholstery, artwork — some of it fragile — with two small children? “We have taught our kids to be respectful of the things that we have. And that’s not easy!” Cox notes. “You shouldn’t have to wait until they’re 8 or 10 to buy things that you love for your home,” she adds. It helps to set up ground rules, as in, no snacks in the living room, where the Coxes entertain friends. But most of the spaces in the house are child-friendly. The den has an older, darker sofa, one of a few pieces that won’t be replaced until her 3-year-old son is “out of that phase of smearing peanut butter and jelly on things.” The kitchen has new banquettes with vinyl cushions — easy for wiping up spills. Otherwise, there’s nothing a good upholstery cleaner and a bottle of Windex (for wiping fingerprints off the master bedroom’s mirrored dressers, also artifacts from the ShowHouse) won’t cure. That’s not to say the Cox children are made to be seen and not heard. Far from it. “For me, it’s important for my kids to grow up in a house that’s creative and beautiful and helps them appreciate art and nice things, but that also allows them to be kids and to grow and develop their own tastes,” Cox explains. Her daughter’s room, a profusion of soft pink, complete with drapes and a valance made from a Jim Thompson shower curtain used in the ShowHouse, is in its third incarnation. “She has a very distinct opinion on what she wants,” says Cox. “So, she has had a lavender nursery. She has had a pink room with bright coral accents. What 7-year-old has had three bedrooms? Only a designer’s child!” she laughs. Hanging on the wall is a Jackson Pollockstyle splash painting that Mom and daughter did together. And what’s this? A leopard print carpet? “I love animal prints, and I’m sure there might be an animal print in every room in my house, in some way, shape or form,” Cox says. “And for kids’ rooms they’re great, because they have so much pattern to them that they hide stains.” As for the active 3-year-old, his space is all-boy, as the papier-mâché, mounted animal heads and the Dick and Jane-like prints hanging over the bright red, antique twin beds suggest: “I like to/ run/ run, run, run,” says one, and “Come with me/ come on/ come play,” says the other. They appealed to Cox, because they so accurately capture her son’s boundless energy and enthusiasm. She found them on the King’s Lane site, a favorite, and she also enjoys browsing antique stores. And if Target or T.J. Maxx have interesting accents that complement the custom-made (as in her son’s room, a Noah’s ark handcrafted by a potter in Seagrove), she’ll gladly use them. “It’s great to be able to mix high and low in a home,” she says. But Cox is ever aware that children grow up fast, so she’ll sometimes switch out the family photos and her kids’ framed artwork in the stairwell leading to the addition that includes a spacious master

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“I try to pick things that are going to adapt over time, and allow me to go into a different direction if I decide to.” bedroom and a walk-in attic. Currently used for storage, the space might one day become a playroom, an office or a bonus room, which explains why the Coxes thoughtfully installed an HVAC unit. “We often entertain with families, so we could let all the kids run up here and play, and the adults could be downstairs without tripping over one another,” she says. “I see them using this as they get older.” Thinking ahead — something Cox encourages her clients to do — and the appeal of new products, colors, patterns and textures mean the ranch in Brown Town is a constant work in progress. The dining room chandelier, a modern wonder by Visual Comfort consisting of strands of crystal cubes, is the third. The house’s original, a standard, five-armed brass number, was supplanted by what Cox describes as a “Parisian flea market-style” fixture with wooden beads to complement the room’s former rustic French country décor. “It’s gotten a little more glam, a little dressier, more formal, as our family’s changed. So we are now at the point where we can have a formal dinner party. It just didn’t happen when we had two itty-bitty kids,” she explains. A blue sideboard from the French Provincial phase will be removed to accommodate the custom-made dining room table, but that’s OK, because the new banquettes in the kitchen have storage underneath for china — and room enough for the whole family to gather at mealtimes. “That’s something that’s really important to me as a mom,” Cox says. “I grew up having dinner at the table. I want my kids to have that same experience.” She has recently added new draperies to the living room that pick up the metallic tones of those sculptural flowers and is having the dining room ceiling lacquered a light blue. Her palette, she says, has shifted from darker colors to softer, lighter blues and corals, with a new favorite, citron green; used in small doses, it’s good for jazzing up a space. Cox is also freshening up the den by replacing the overstuffed toile armchairs to lighter green ones, adding some brighter pillows, an end table covered in raffia and, for the walls, a blue-feathered African headdress and a commissioned painting by Greensboro artist Maggie Marshall. “When our friends come over they’re like: ‘Wait, was that here the last time we were here?’ Or we’ll say, ‘Oh, you like that? You want it? It’s for sale. Everything’s for sale!’” Cox jokes. Everything, that is, except the artwork. “I do get attached to my art,” she says, “But my furnishings: If someone comes in and they love it, and they want it in their house, I can find something else. I can find more of it. It’s not difficult for me to replace. So, I literally have sold things right out of my door all the time.” And what does husband Stephen think of the ongoing creative process? “He’s really, really patient with all of it,” Cox says. “He’s gotten to the point where he has said, ‘I just trust that whatever you’re going to do, it’s going to work. So, I’m just not going to ask questions, and when it’s finished, I’m sure I’ll love it.’” Though at times, Cox admits, he does ask if they can enjoy a given design phase for at least a couple of years. In the meantime, her restless imagination will configure new designs. “The bathrooms are all still original,” she says. “That’s the next project on the list, to get to the bathrooms.” There’s still the unfinished attic, perhaps that backyard pool and a new doorway to the patio to consider. And of course, any new furnishings, fabrics, accents and artwork that catch her keen designer’s eye will inevitably lead to a new design. For Kara Cox, the way a space is used is ephemeral. “You use it as your family needs it at the time, and then you use it as you need it down the road when that time’s over,” she asserts. “Everything can evolve.” OH Greensboro native Nancy Oakley grew up in a ranch house, where she developed an appreciation for nice things and a distaste for housework. Published in Delta’s Sky and US Airways Magazine, she keeps her eye on Winston-Salem for O.Henry. The Art & Soul of Greensboro

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Blue

Color Me

Oh, how I adore truly blue flowers — but only if they are the real deal.Now is the time to plan next year’s blue garden By Lee Rogers

Hyacinths

I

False indigo

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am a fool for any blue-flowered plant, and I’m always looking for something new. Flipping through a bulb and perennial catalog in my quest, I came to the S’s and there was featured Stokesia “Blue Danube” illustrated in a garish color. I have actually grown Stokesia “Blue Danube” and know it doesn’t look like that. The picture shows a shade of blue similar to the color that the three good fairies, Flora, Fauna and Meriweather, fought over in the Walt Disney classic Sleeping Beauty. It is the blue of certain delphiniums that are for sale at Home Depot but which we cannot grow successfully in our hot, humid climate. It was spectacularly fake. I could go on and on about false advertising in flower color. You know those stiff-looking daisies in garish colors that you see at the grocery stores? They are called painted daisies for a reason. I hate to disillusion anyone, but that color is not natural. I asked the florist at Harris Teeter, and she told me that they take the stems and stick them in food-dye-tinted water and let them suck up the color. “Aren’t they pretty?” No. They are like the colors of troll doll hair or jelly beans (not that I don’t like those). Accurate color description requires nitpicking to the nth degree. Consider for a moment how many times you see the adjective “sky blue.” Isn’t the sky different shades of blue, depending on time of day and weather conditions? It would be better just to insert a blank space in front of “blue” every time and let the reader choose his own favorite adjective. Nevertheless, there are plenty of exquisitely blue flowers we can grow easily in Greensboro. And fall is the time, after all, to plant bulbs. My favorite big perennial, however, for dependable blue color is false indigo (Baptisia australis). Over time it will make a nice upright clump of pretty gray-green The Art & Soul of Greensboro


Blue lobelia

Salvia guaranitica

Dutch iris

foliage about three feet tall and wider. The stalks of lupine-shaped flowers spring out above and are perfect in arrangement with fluffier blossoms like peonies or roses. Some people like to leave it to make those charcoal-gray seed pods which rattle around in the wind, but I have been whacking mine by about a third after it flowers just to keep it from flopping everywhere. Or you can stake it if you’re not too lazy. This new cultivar “Midnight Prairie Blues” appears to be that really deep, deep smoky-blue I’m longing for. Maybe I can test it out on an unsuspecting client. Be warned. My second favorite would be the Arkansas blue star (Amsonia hubrichtii), which also makes an erect clump of foliage but shorter, with more feathery leaves. The flowers are pale powdery blue and less dramatic than Baptisia, but its great feature is the foliage texture. And when it turns gold in autumn, the effect of a mass planting is breathtaking. Both of these plants are of North American origin and are tough as nails. That works for me, given how impatient I am. For continuous color from summer through fall, the salvias are unbeatable. I’ve mentioned them before, and my favorites are still the bog sage (S. uliginosa) and the Salvia guaranitica “Black and Blue.” The bog sage makes a six-foot-tall mass of clear blue flowers by late summer and can be floppy. It looks wonderful in the back of a border paired with big plants like Joe pye weed and sunflowers. You can stake it or grow it behind more robust species to help prop it up. The “Black and Blue” salvia is shorter and stockier but really has the color of dark sapphires, which I adore. Husband, take note. I’ve never cared for the shorter forms of blue salvia, like “May Night,” but if you like that look you can also try speedwell, like veronica “Sunny Border Blue” or “Crater Lake Blue” with stiffer poker-type blossoms. More interesting shapes are the blue balloon flowers (Platycodon) that grow very well here and come in tall and short varieties. If you have space for a matt-forming plant, I would try the veronica “Georgia Blue,” which is reputed to bloom from spring into summer, attract butterflies and spread up to four feet. I cannot vouch for veronica’s true color, but I know that the “Heavenly Blue” morning glory is absolutely dependable in that respect. So easy to grow from seed, this annual vine gives you the opportunity to decorate vertically and its grape color just makes people happy. Like bluebirds. My grandmother Edith used to hyacinths The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Heavenly blue morning glory grow it up the side of her faded pink stucco house in Macon, Georgia, and the image is indelibly imprinted in my heart. The vines don’t have any clinging rootlets, so you have to provide some kind of support for them to grow on. Personally I would like to have a long ten-foot-wide gravel walk with a wrought-iron pergola smothered in morning glory and roses with nasturtiums flowing around the base, just like Monet. This would be the talk of Greensboro, indeed! Another fun summer annual with an incredible blue flower color is borage. It’s big and floppy and reseeds everywhere. The flowers are edible, and according to our garden guru, Chip Callaway, you can put them in any alcoholic cocktail and their blue will turn to pink. Neat party trick. The low-growing annual lobelias come in wonderful blue shades and are heavily marketed as container plants at the big box stores. There is a perennial blue lobelia, but it’s not as strong a contender for color or fortitude as our state flower Lobelia cardinalis, which is absolutely scarlet and which blossoms along stream banks and in damp meadows. If you’re paddling along the Dan River in late summer and spot a flowering clump, you will fall out of your canoe in delight. As for woody shrubs, there are several nice Hibiscus syriacus cultivars that flower in blueish shades. This is the old-fashioned rose of Sharon bush that grew at everyone’s grandmother’s house. But the queen of blue-flowering shrubs has to be hydrangea. Getting it to produce those amazing intense blue floral colors is a whole ’nuther story, which I’ll save for later. Let’s move on to bulbs, some of which will flourish in the root zone of large shade trees. One of the most beautiful bulb plantings I know is at Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, D.C. Years ago I was lucky enough to serve as a garden intern in that

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glorious thirteen acres. On the orangerie terrace grew a huge copper beech tree with thousands of Scilla siberica tucked into the crevices of the trunk flare. The lacy pattern of reddish brown surface roots carpeted with tiny delicate flowers of a neon blue was stunning. I had to fall over in a coma for a few minutes, but then I had to get up and go back to work. Fabulous! Other bulbs that everyone can grow are the grape hyacinths (Muscari) and the windflowers (Anemone blanda). You can plant them together in a shallow container for a cheerful winter display, and then take the whole thing and plant it into a border, maybe next to perennials that have been cut back for winter and will grow up to hide the dying bulb foliage. Nice little trick so you can have your cake and eat it too. I will repeat it every year until I fill up all available space or move to a new home. This year I mixed Anemone blanda “Blue Shades” with outstanding icy blue Muscari “Valerie Finnis,” and it was charming. You cannot talk about blue flowering bulbs without mentioning the wood hyacinths. You can plant them just about anywhere. The blue ones are really sort of a dusty hue like periwinkle flowers, but there are some cultivars on the market that might work if you are looking for a real sapphire color. I’ve only tried the regular H. hispanica in my garden, but the English bluebell (Hyacinthoides nonscripta) is supposed to be a darker violet blue and very fragrant. Who cares even if they’re not? They aren’t fussy, make great cut flowers, multiply like mad and squirrels don’t eat them. That’s more than you can say for crocus, another early spring bloomer offering nice blue colors. Mine have served primarily as bunny food, so I’ve given up. Next, the Virginia bluebells and forget-me-nots start blooming, quickly followed by the many types of iris. Forget me nots (Myosotis) are the color I associate with a Carolina blue sky (more than the blue of the classic Tarheel blue T-shirt). Virginia bluebells are great too because they will spread even in the dry shade under deciduous trees. They pair nicely with the celandine poppy (bright yellow with blue-green foliage like a columbine). Since they are both spring ephemerals, you could potentially plant around them with summer annuals and use the same space twice in one season.

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Iris. You could devote an entire catalog to iris. The German iris (Iris germanica) are the big showy old-fashioned kinds, and you might be able to find some really blue ones, but mostly they veer toward purple. I prize them more for their dependable architectural foliage. The flowers are a bonus. So easy to grow you can practically drop one on the ground and it will flourish. I like that because I’m very lazy. But there are some other fun kinds. Dwarf crested iris (I. cristata) is a North American native that flourishes in wet places and makes nice mats of six-inchhigh foliage. Japanese roof iris (I. tectorum) is so-called because it was grown on rooftops in Japan and China. It has bigger foliage with sort of a ribbed look and comes in blue and white varieties. I’ve always wanted a thatched roof, so I think I will try that next. Or maybe experiment with a doghouse first. Many people like the Dutch iris (I. x hollandica), the ones typically used by florists. They are superior to German iris as cut flowers, and a mass planting makes a good vertical accent in the garden. But mostly I’ve seen them planted randomly, and then they just look silly and pokey. You really need to group them close together for a good effect. There are several blue varieties available, and they should be planted according to the standard bulb-planting rule for depth (four times the width of the bulb). The other irises grow from rhizomes that are actually horizontal pieces of plant stem. That’s why it’s really important to plant them on top of the ground and keep the mulch off them. Any shade of blue makes a good addition to a flower border and just makes us all feel cooler in the million degree heat. I was once seduced by Lithodora “Grace Ward” and the enchanting Corydalis “Blue Panda,” but they both failed me. And I’ve lived here long enough to know not to fall for delphiniums or Himalayan blue poppy. And let’s be clear. There are no true blue-flowered azaleas, roses, dahlias, tulips or zinnias. In Greensboro, there are better ways to give your garden the blues. OH Lee Rogers lives, writes and listens constantly to the blues in Greensboro. She can be reached at lee@leerogersdesign.com.

The Art & Soul of Greensboro


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kimsmathis@gmail.com October 2013

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A L M A N A C

October n

By noah Salt

A Writer in the Garden

Sunday, October 27

The only thing I have learned in thirty-eight years is that the days grow shorter each year of your life, and if you live long enough it should be very easy to die, as there would be practically nothing left of them. I have been spending every day and all of it in the garden, dashing in to dress and go on to something else.” — From Becoming Elizabeth Lawrence, Discovered Letters of a Southern Gardener

Frightfully Bittersweet

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We do love October, and just about everything this bittersweet month of change has to offer. As nature shows her true colors and beds down for the winter, we revel in the crisp clear days and star-spangled nights. The garden produces a few decent final tomatoes and the shrub roses provide a final burst of color before the show closes down for another year. Mums bloom, asters fade. The Saturday morning farmers market is finally winding down, though root vegetables and apples abound, and pumpkins and freshpressed cider make it still worth a visit. According to a 2011 Harris Poll, Americans rank Halloween the third most popular holiday after Christmas and Thanksgiving, respectively — and a frightfully fun windfall for retailers, who will rake in an estimated $10 billion from costumes, sweets, home decorations and — a growing trend — special events (haunted hayrides, town celebrations, retail shops and even church-sponsored parties) deemed to make the popular holiday safer. Not bad for a holiday that derives its spirit from the ancient Celtic celebration of “Samhain,” an annual feast of the dead that observed the final harvest by the slaughtering of animals for winter food and the making of bone-fires after public feasting (the bones of animals were tossed into the fire as offerings for healthy stock in the New Year), the origin of the modern word “bonfire.” Empty chairs were set by the hearth for unseen visitors and fresh apples were buried by the roadside for wandering or lost souls. Any crops left in the field were considered taboo and also left for hungry spirits. Candles were left in windows and in hollowed-out turnips to guide departed ancestors safely home, especially on the night of the 31st, when the veil between the worlds of the living and dead was believed to be its thinnest. On Old Hallowmas, traveling after dark was not advised — which is why people dressed in white or donned costumes to hide their identity from revengeful or prankish spirits. And here you thought it was all about the candy.

October 2013

Weather to Buy or Not

A crusty old Englishman of our acquaintance once advised: “Never believe a bloody word of ancient weather lore — or else it will rain forty days and forty nights.” Sound advice, we suppose, and yet few seasonal changes abound with more traditional lore and old-wives wisdom than the month of October. From The True Husbandry’s Almanack of 1779, portents seem everywhere: Extra red haws and hips [berries] on trees and wooly worms crossing the High Street meaneth a hard winter to come. Rain in October means sharpe wind in December. When birds and badgers are swollen [fat], expect a colder than normal winter. In October, dung your field, and your land shall wealth much yield. If ducks do slide at Hallowtide, at Christmas they will swim. Why the wooly worm feels compelled to cross the High Street is anyone’s guess, one of those timeless philosophical questions best debated over a nice milk stout or homemade ginger beer by the fire. Still, this year’s crop farmers almanacs do project a colder than normal winter on the doorstep, with greater than usual snow predicted for our corner of the lower forty-eight. Don’t forget to dung those fields.

Garden To-Do List

A garden made neat and tidy now, goes a famous ditty, will save spring tasks and how: Bring geraniums and other vacationing houseplants indoors before first frost. Harvest the last fruit from trees, plant winter veggie seeds — collards and ever-popular kale. As the month proceeds, plant flowering bulbs — tulips, daffodils and alliums. After killing frost, judiciously prune shrubs of dead wood. Mow lawn a final time, apply an organic winter fertilizer, and rake up all remaining dead leaves. Clean and oil garden tools. Drain and store lawn mower and other garden machinery. Take a long walk through the neighborhood and enjoy the summer’s last show of color. OH The Art & Soul of Greensboro


Saturday, October 12, 8:00 pm Monday, October 14, 7:30 pm A concert sure to put you in the mood for Halloween.

Tickets On Sale Now Group and Student Discounts

Double, Double Toil and Trouble Christ United Methodist Church 410 N Holden Rd, Greensboro

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ART CLASSES FOR EVERYONE!

– Fall-Winter Session 2 begins the week of Oct. 20 – Adult 8-Week Classes Youth 6-Week Classes • • • •

Pottery Drawing and Painting Sculpture Surface Design

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Workshops and Events

• Sketchbook Workshop, Oct. 12 • Student Art Show/Sale, Oct. 31-Nov. 2

For a schedule of classes and to register, visit

www.artalliancegso.com

Greensboro Cultural Center | 200 N Davie Street 373-2725 | artalliancegso@gmail.com Art Alliance is co-sponsored by City Arts

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He’s Single, Rich, and needs a wife!

Paintings B y

Flying Dutchman October 25, 27 & 29, 2013 The Stevens Center of the UNCSA Tickets at 336.725.7101 www.piedmontopera.org Luxury coach service is available from Greensboro!

La Lunch with Piedmont Opera! Join Maestro James Allbritten and principal cast members for lunch at the O.Henry Hotel for a close look at The Flying Dutchman on October 16th at noon. Cost is $22.50 per person and includes tax and gratuity. RSVP by October 11th to 336.725.7101

4301 Lawndale Drive, Greensboro, NC greensboroscience.org | 336.288.3769 The Art & Soul of Greensboro

October 2013

O.Henry 97


October 2013

Arts Calendar

Sessions: The South Carolina Broadcasters 10/

1– 8

10/

5

12/

October 1 — December 8 BIENNIAL AFFAIR. Faculty from UNCG’s Department of Art present their biennial show, with reception on October 6, including works by Michael Ananian, Andy Dunnill, John Maggio, Jennifer Meanley, Sheryl Oring, Leah Sobsey, Mariam Stephan, Pat Wasserboehr and others at Weatherspoon Gallery, 500 Tate Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 334-5770 or weatherspoon.uncg.edu.

October 2 ANIMATED! 5:30 p.m. Five artists in the contemporary animation exhibit that’s on display throughout 17 DAYS Festival will informally discuss their work — from interactive image sequences to interactive gaming platforms — at Greenhill, 200 North Davie Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 3337460 or greenhillnc.org.

Key:

• • Art

Music/Concerts

98 O.Henry

October 2013

Performing arts

Jane Austen Tea Party

October 2 — 10 SPAMALOT. Based on the classic Monty Python and the Holy Grail and described as unedited silliness, Spamalot will be a good knight’s entertainment at Taylor Theatre, 406 Tate Street, Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 334-4392 or performingarts.uncg.edu.

October 3 — 5 DANCING MUSIC. The Greensboro Symphony issues an Invitation to Dance Thursday and Sunday with Berlioz’s Hungarian March, SaintSaens Danse Bacchanale and Bernstein’s dances from West Side Story at Westover Church, 505 Muirs Chapel Road, Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 335-5456, extension 224, or www.greensborocoliseum.com.

October 4 — 13 SMOKEY. A nonstop celebration of more than forty songs including “Jailhouse Rock,” “Hound

• • Film

Literature/Speakers

• • Fun

History

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Dog,” “Stand by Me,” “Spanish Harlem,” and “On Broadway,” Smokey’s Joe’s Cafe will rock the night away at Community Theatre of Greensboro, 520 South Elm Street, Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 3337470 or www.ctgso.org.

October 4 PIANO & FIDDLE. 8 p.m. Dmitry Sitkovetsky, violin, and Inara Zandmane, piano, get together to perform Beethoven’s Sonata for Violin and Piano and De Falla’s Suite Populaire at Westover Church, 505 Muirs Chapel Road, Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 335-5456, extension 224, or www. greensborocoliseum.com.

October 5 & 19 TOUR DE FOOD. Enjoy a walk through downtown Greensboro for the civil rights history, the architectural beauty — and the food. Samples from local chefs showcase hidden downtown treasures. Tickets: (336) 406-6294 or www.tourdefood.net.

Sports The Art & Soul of Greensboro

“The Carroll Family” by Leah Sobsey.

Biennial Affair


October Arts Calendar

Buddy Guy in concert

11

Walk for Hunger

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October 5 SESSIONS @ SESSIONS. 7:30 p.m. Sessions Beer Garden will host an evening of local singers and songwriters followed by national acts — singer Nikki Talley and The South Carolina Broadcasters at 1820 Spring Garden Street, Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 790-6896 or www.thecollabative.com.

October 5 WEDDING DRESSES. Noon. Billed as a day for community engagement during Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the second annual Wedding Dress Project will bring together survivors of domestic violence and their supporters for creating art, understanding and dialogue at the

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Greensboro Cultural Center, 200 North Davie Street, Greensboro. Info: www.facebook.com/ events/548248215231003/.

Key:

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

Bill and Giuliana Rancic talk at Gathering of Friends 10/

• • Art

Music/Concerts

Performing arts

October 5 TRUFFLES AND WINE. 7 p.m. Benefiting

• • • Film

Literature/Speakers

• • Fun

History

October 2013

Sports

O.Henry 99


m ‧ ‧

Treasures Antiques Consignments

Golden Antiques & Treasures, Inc.

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100 O.Henry

October 2013

The Art & Soul of Greensboro


October Arts Calendar ArtsGreensboro, chocolate truffles from Greensboro pastry chef Jules Watson will be paired with three 2-ounce tastings of Grove’s estate-grown wines, with live entertainment by Swing Triade at Gui Grove Winery, 7360 Brooks Bridge Road, Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 260-6465or www. grovewinery.com.

October 6 SKETCHY. Last day to take a look inside the sketchbooks of ten North Carolina artists, including Michelle Connolly, Steven M. Cozart, Rebecca Fagg, Roy Nydorf, Scott Raynor, Caitie Sellers, R. Bruce Shores, Pam Toll, Michael Van Hout and Betty Watson at Green Hill, 200 North Davie Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 333-7460 or greenhillcenter.org.

October 6 UNDER THE STARS. 4 p.m. Triad Local First will serve its Community Table “Dinner Under the Stars” with a menu created by George Neal of 1618 Seafood Grill at Shooting Star Farm in Pleasant Garden. Info: (336) 271-4767 or www. triadlocalfirst.com.

October 6 TEA & THEE. 4 p.m. & 6 p.m. Wear your

best hat and experience an Edwardian tea party in honor of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Two seatings, complete with scones, music, tea-leaf readings and a best-hat contest at The Secret Tea Room, 412 State Street, Greensboro. Reservations: (336) 2712998 or www.TheSecretTeaRoom.com.

at fifteen sites to the public at no charge. Look for the distinctive red balloons that will lead you to painting, photography, sculpture, pottery, jewelry, collage, mixed media and fiber — not to mention the artists who produce them, on Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday 1–5 p.m. Info: (336) 294-2224 or www.artstocktour.com.

October 10 LOEWENSTEIN LEGACY. 7 p.m. Kicking off a number of events and tours highlighting the Modernist dwellings in Greensboro designed by Edward Loewenstein, keynote speakers will discuss his work at Weatherspoon Gallery, 500 Tate Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 334-5770 or weatherspoon.uncg.edu.

October 12 — January 5 TIME & LAYERS. Los Angeles-based artist Annie Lapin’s works, which draw from her personal memory of historical art, are on view at Weatherspoon Gallery, 500 Tate Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 334-5770 or weatherspoon. uncg.edu.

October 11 OUR BUDDY. 8 p.m. Louisiana-born Chicago blues legend and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Buddy Guy will do what he does best at the Carolina Theatre, 310 South Greene Street, Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 333-2605 or carolinatheatre.com.

October 12 & 14 DOUBLE, DOUBLE TOIL AND TROUBLE. Bel Canto Company’s festively creepy and contagious concert makes a joyous noise on Saturday and on Monday at Christ United Methodist Church, 410 North Holden Road, Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 333-2220 or www.belcantocompany.com.

October 12 — 13 ARTSTOCK. For the sixteenth year, artists — fifty of them — will be participating in Artstock’s Annual Artist Studio Tour, opening their studios

October 12 STIRRED, NOT SHAKEN. 8 p.m. Sultry singer Hilary Kole “Bonds” with the Greensboro Symphony Orchestra in their first GSO POPS con-

Key:

• • Art

Music/Concerts

Performing arts

• • Film

Literature/Speakers

• • Fun

History

Sports

MERIDITH MARTENS, artist Fine Art Animal Portraits

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Floral Design with D elivery Service Home Décor & Gifts We d d i n g s & S p e c i a l E v e n t s

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w w w. r a n d y m c m a n u s d e s i g n s . c o m October 2013

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hands-on Greensboro’s premier Montessori School...

Area Schools

Serving children ages eighteen months through eighth grade, where students develop a love of learning through individually guided, hands-on discovery and exploration. Come discover the GMS difference for yourself! • Authentic Montessori curriculum, exceptional and caring faculty

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Open House

Friday, October 4, 2013 9:30-11:00 AM Prospective Parents, Gr. K-8

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Books, Bats, & Brownies

• Spanish, Gardening, Art, Music and P.E. • Low student teacher ratios in multi-aged classrooms • Before & after-school care, enrichment programs & Middle School sports

Open House: Sunday, Nov. 10th at 1-3pm. Or call today for a Friday morning tour.

1:00-2:30 PM

Seasonal Stories, Snacks, Crafts and Campus Tours Prospective Students and Parents, rising Gr. K-2

Offering a long-standing tradition of faith-based academic excellence for students in grades K-8 For more information, please contact Jean Navarro, Admissions Coordinator at jnavarro@spxschool.com or 273-9865, ext. 101.

2200 North Elm Street, Greensboro, NC 27408 www.spxschool.com

Classic Education A Caring Community WWW.HPFS.ORG (336) 886-5516

Prepare to be your best. Please join us for an Open House. Thursday, October 17 9:30am (PreK-K) Tuesday, November 12 9:30am (PreK-4) 5400 Old Lake Jeanette Rd. www.canterburygso.org 336.288.2007

102 O.Henry

October 2013

High Point Friends School fosters academic excellence for students in Preschool through Eighth Grade. Using hands-on, experiential learning, students are engaged through innovative techniques that prepare them for challenges in higher education and equip them with enhanced problem solving skills. High Point Friends School offers advanced courses of study in the middle school curricula utilizing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) investigations, and state of the art technology. CALL TODAY TO SCHEDULE A VISIT!

High Point Friends School 800-A Quaker Lane, High Point, NC 27262

(336) 886-5516 www.hpfs.org

The Art & Soul of Greensboro


October Arts Calendar

cert featuring featuring music from five decades of Bond films, including Casino Royale, Goldfinger and From Russia with Love, along with standards from Cole Porter, George Gershwin, and Judy Garland] at Westover Church, 505 Muirs Chapel Road, Greensboro. Info: www.greensborosymphony.org; Tickets: (336) 335-5456, extension 224, or www. greensborocoliseum.com.

October 13 PARANORMAL. 3 p.m. Michael Lane and colleagues from the Archdale/Lexington-based Supernatural Research Society will share expertise on how to recognize, cope with and investigate paranormal phenomena at the Morgan Room, High Point Public Library, 901 North Main Street, High Point. Info: (336) 883-883-3660 or www.highpointpubliclibrary.com.

October 17 MARKET ON YOUR CALENDAR. 5 p.m. While listening to Crystal Bright, browse artisan goods, enjoy fresh local vittles, sip your favorite beverage and experience this month’s “Circus, Circus” theme at The City Market, held at The Railyard, on the 500 block of South Elm Street, Greensboro. Info: gsocitymarket.com.

October 18 — 26 WE WILL SURVIVE. We Are One presents Survival Stories, a play about the experiences of African-American women surviving breast cancer, at Caldcleugh Multicultural Arts Center, 1700 Orchard Street, Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 3735881 or scrapmettle.net/up-next/.

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EvEry CliEnt. EvEry HomE. EvEryday.

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October 19 MEN CAN COOK. 6 p.m. The Women’s Resource Center of Greensboro is showcasing the culinary talents of local gentlemen for the 12th year in a row — complete with a silent auction and live entertainment — at the Greensboro Coliseum Special Events Center, 1921 West Lee Street, Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 275-6090 or www.womenscentergso.org/mencancook-details.html.

October 19 STROLLING’N’SIPPING. 1 p.m. If you can drink wine and beer and then walk (not even in a straight line), you’re qualified to participate in Sip-nStroll, a sort of pub crawl highlighting downtown’s finest purveryors of beer and wine. Participants include Crafted — The Art of the Taco, Cafe Europa, Zeto, Table 16 and a number of others. An exclusive concert will be held from 5–7 p.m. in the Railyard. Get tickets at the south end of Elm near MLK Drive or the north end of Elm near Friendly or www. greensborodra.org.

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Key: Art Music/Concerts Film Literature/Speakers Sports The Art & Soul of Greensboro

• • •

Performing arts Fun History October 2013

O.Henry 103


Irving Park

This October, Carolyn Todd’s is proud to participate in National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Clothing u Baby Jewelry u Lingerie Bath & Body u Tabletop Home Accessories 1826 Pembroke Road, Greensboro, NC 336-274-3307 (Behind Irving Park Plaza) Monday thru Friday 10:00–5:00 Saturday 10:00–4:00

Webster’s Frame and Art Showcase your Memories & Art

Custom Framing • Local and International Art Delivery and Installation • Over 50 years of combined experience • Specialty Matting • Shadow Boxes • Needle Work Fine Art - Pottery - Accessories - Gifts

Lawndale Shopping Center 2178 Lawndale Drive Like us on Facebook!

336-500-8944 336-601-0175 webstersgallery@yahoo.com

Fall Into Summerhouse For another great sale. Sept 16 - Oct 16 Everything 20% off Lee Industries Special orders 10% off

SUMMERHOUSE 1722 Battleground Avenue, Greensboro Open Weekdays 10am- 5pm; Sat 11am - 4pm • 336.275.9655 • SummerhouseStore.com

104 O.Henry

October 2013

SUMMERHOUSE The Art & Soul of Greensboro


October 19 GHOSTLY. 6 p.m. The Historical Society’s popular Ghost Stories in the Park will feature storyteller Charlotte “webspinner” Hamlin. She will tell stories around a bonfire in the Historical Park at High Point Museum, 1859 East Lexington Avenue, High Point. Info: (336) 885-1859 or www.highpointmuseum.org.

October 19 PRESEASON. 7:30 p.m. Dallas Mavericks vs. Charlotte Bobcats in NBA preseason action at the Greensboro Coliseum, 1921 West Lee Street, Greensboro. Tickets: Coliseum Box Office or ticketmaster.com.

October 20 WALK FOR HUNGER. The Greater Greensboro CROP Hunger Walk and Run is a 5k event to raise funds for Potter’s House Community Kitchen at Greensboro Urban Ministry and Church World Service. Starts at NewBridge Bank Park. Info: 336.553.2640 or www.greensborourbanministry.org/events/crop-hunger-walk-and-run/.

October 20 – November 10 KING MAKER. Triad Stage and PlayMakers Repertory Company co-produce the regional premiere of The Mountaintop by Katori Hall, a play

2013.9.11-downtowngso-events-ohenry.pdf

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October Arts Calendar

focusing on the last night in the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at Triad Stage, 232 South Elm Street, Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 272-0160 or triadstage.org.

nization dedicated solely to funding research to find an earlier biological test for breast cancer, the dinner will also include a fashion show — at the the Grandover Resort and Conference Center, 1000 Club Road, Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 286-6620 or www.earlier.org.

October 23 DIALOGUE. 5:30 p.m. Animation-inspired artists Bill Fick, Thomas Spradling, Stephanie Freese, Paul Friedrich and Brett McDonough will discuss animation along with the techniques, influences and meaning of their art at GreenHill, 200 North Davie Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 333-7460 or greenhillcenter.org.

WEEKLY HAPPENINGS

October 25 MASQUERADE PARTY. 7 p.m. Artful attire and ghoulish garments welcomed; hair and makeup artists will be on hand to complete your look. The festivities will include a cash bar, snacks, music and more. Tickets: (336) 334-5770 or weatherspoon. uncg.edu.

October 26 MA CARES. 5:30 p.m. Husband-and-wife duo Bill and Giuliana Rancic, of the reality show Giuliana & Bill, will share their life story at the Gathering of Friends Gala Dinner. Benefiting Earlier.org , a Greensboro-based nonprofit orga-

9/12/2013

11:34:11 AM

Key:

• • Art

Music/Concerts

Performing arts

Tuesdays CHICKEN’N’PICKIN’ 6:30 – 9:30 p.m. Skillet Fried Chicken & Songs from a Southern Kitchen. Sit down to Chef Jay’s signature fried chicken, select beverage specials and live music (by Laurelyn Dossett and Scott Manring on the 1st; Martha Bassett and friends on the 8th; Molly McGinn on the 15th; Martha Bassett and friends on the 22nd; and Molly McGinn on the 29th) — at Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen, 1421 Westover Terrace, Greensboro. Info: 336) 370-0707 or lucky32.com/ fried_chicken.htm. TOTALLY RAD. While every day is an event at Geeksboro, on the second and fourth Tuesday of every month they serve up an unexpected blend of high and low tastes. Criterion Tuesdays set a serious tone at 7 p.m. with classic films from the Criterion Collection. Pop culture at both its best and worst comes at 9 p.m. every fourth Tuesday with Totally Rad Trivia at Greensboro’s newest and

• • Film

Literature/Speakers

• • Fun

History

Sports

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The Art & Soul of Greensboro

October 2013

O.Henry 105


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October 2013

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most intimate movie theater, aka Geeksboro, 2134 Lawndale Drive, Greensboro. Info: (336) 355-7180 or geeksboro.com/events.

Wednesdays MUSSELS, WINE & MUSIC. 7–10 p.m. Mussels for $15, wines from $10–15 a bottle and live music by Evan Olson and Jessica Mashburn — at Print Works Bistro, 702 Green Valley Road, Greensboro. Info: (336) 379-0699 or printworksbistro.com/live_music.htm.

Wednesdays through Saturdays PLAYING HOUSE.10 a.m. — 4:30 p.m. High Point native Meredith Slane Michener’s miniature rooms, crafted on a 1:12 scale on display, along with an exhibit featuring street scenes and artifacts from the early 20th century, with a slideshow of High Point postcards — at the High Point Museum, 1859 East Lexington Avenue, High Point. Info: (336) 885-1859 or highpointmuseum.org.

Thursdays JAZZ NIGHT. 7 p.m. Fresh-ground, freshbrewed coffee is served with a side of jazz at Tate Street Coffee House, 334 Tate Street, Greensboro. Info: (336) 275-2754.

October Arts Calendar •

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

Fridays & Saturdays NIGHTMARES ON ELM STREET. 8 p.m. A 90-minute, historical, candlelit ghost walking tour of Downtown Greensboro. Tickets: (336) 905-4060 or carolinahistoryandhaunts.com/information.

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

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

••• • •

Key: Art Music/Concerts Film Literature/Speakers Sports

• • •

Performing arts Fun History

P hil Barker’s R efinishing Refinishing of

Antiques • New Furniture • Office Furniture • Finishing available

Celebrating the life of a loved one. www.haneslineberryfuneralhomes.com

Greensboro, NC 27401 336-272-5157

The Art & Soul of Greensboro

in lacquer colors

1316 Headquarters Dr. Greensboro, NC 336-275-5056 www.philbarkerantiques.com

Come visit Center United Methodist Church 6142 Lake Brandt Rd. October 2013

O.Henry 107


Wines for Your Home and a Home for Your Wines •Hand-Selected Wines for everyday & special occasions •Wine Cellar Design & Installation By the Wine Experts at Zeto

108

On the corner of Lindsay St. between Greene St. and Eugene St. 336-574-2850 www.zetowines.com O.Henry October 2013

The Art & Soul of Greensboro


Everything for the Home!

Over 6,000 square feet filled with antiques, upholstery, accessories and gifts from over 25 designers, dealers and artists

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October 2013

O.Henry 109


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Worth the Drive to High Point Food for Market

Sure, High Point’s finest restaurants deliver food to showrooms during The High Point Market. But to chow down at one of the most popular local lunch spots in town, you’ll have to go to church, aka the Parson’s Table. No need to wear your Sunday-go-to-meeting-clothes at lunch at First United Methodist Church on Main Street, though. Stylishly dressed market attendees from around the world share tables with locals wearing their work clothes in the unpretentious fellowship hall. “We’re just kinda like home folks, you know?” says Parson’s Table chairwoman Lou Cater. “And we appreciate everybody that comes in.” It’s a major fundraiser for the landmark church, which has been doing this since 1978. This past year, the church raised $29,000 for church missions. A crew of fewer than twenty-five volunteers of the North Main Street church serves 350–475 meals each day during the market. It’s the sort of food that reminds you of church gatherings, family picnics or lunch at your grandma’s — homemade, hearty and rib-sticking. Soups are especially popular during the fall market. The vegetable soup is not quite a Brunswick stew but thick with corn, carrots, beans, potatoes and tomatoes. A favorite is white-meat chicken chili, thick with white beans and salsa in a savory broth. Ever heard of Polish chili? Made from a base of ground beef and a not-too-spicy tomato sauce, it’s studded with corn and white beans, then topped with homemade croutons. Salads are popular. Think of bridge club. Chicken, tuna or egg salads are served with saltine crackers, a slice of tomato, dill pickle spear, cottage cheese and half a canned peach nestled in crisp lettuce.

Volunteer Anne Harris eats a chef salad every day of the market. She can’t resist it with the homemade Thousand Island dressing. There’s a crew of volunteers, many of whom are retirees, who specialize in making the homemade salad dressings. The sandwiches are just what you’d expect: turkey, ham, pimiento cheese, chicken, tuna or egg salad. But what takes them over the top are the fresh-baked whole-wheat and sourdough breads. Now. The desserts. The cakes are made by ladies in the church from old family recipes: Pig pickin’ cake anyone? How about banana or carrot cakes that are made fresh daily? Did we mention chocolate, strawberry, CocaCola, pistachio, caramel and pound cakes? These cakes are moist and made by women who have been baking them for years. Lou Cater says some locals have suggested they serve lunch year-round. “Forget it,” she says. Come to church instead. The Parson’s Table, First United Methodist Church, 512 North Main Street, High Point; 11 a.m. until 2 p.m., October 18–24. Items are 50 cents to $5. Information: (336) 889-4429 or www.fumc-highpoint.org/parsonsAbout Face—TLTina Jan2013:Layout table.htm Firesheets1 2/1/13 6:35 PM Page 1

About Face TL Jan2013:Layout 1 2/1/13 6:35 PM Page 1

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O.Henry 111


autumn in

old salem september 3 – november 3, 2o13

Spectacular colors. Harvest-time tastes. Hands-on activities.

Autumn in Old Salem. A season for the senses. October 19 pigs & pippins! harvest day at old salem, fall foods, hands-on activities for all ages October 25 and 29 legends and lanterns tours, haunting, ghostly Halloween Twilight Tours of Old Salem October 25 – 27 halloween weekend at old salem, pumpkin carving, trick or treating!

For a full list of events, classes & concerts, visit oldsalem.org or call 336-721-735o

old salem museums & gardens, winston-salem, north carolina


Worth the Drive to Winston-Salem Fair Play

Unlike the rest of us, the 131-year-old Dixie Classic Fair — second in size only to the state fair in Raleigh — keeps improving with age. This year’s event (October 4–13) promises more diversions, encouraging visitors to “Go Fer the Fun.” And why not? Let your inner kid loose with a view from the top of the Century Wheel. Increase the fear factor with death-defying thrills on the Wave, the Zipper or Zyklon roller coaster. And let your palate be equally fearless — though we do recommend eating fair fare after riding the rides. Should you gobble a Fred Flintstone — sized turkey leg (yabba dabba do!) or go for cotton candy? Will it be funnel cakes, corn dogs or Southern-fried ice cream? Assuming you can still walk, seek out the various diversions, from concerts to a rodeo, from a demolition derby to a stroll through Yesterday Village, where you can see time-honored crafts, such as candlemaking, tinsmithing and quilting. Or watch as a chainsaw artist, er, massacres a piece of wood and sculpts it into a work of art. But how now, brown cow? This is an agricultural fair after all. Do check out the exhibitions of prizewinning Angus, Charolais and Hereford cattle — and sheep, goats, chickens, fruits, vegetables, flowers and baked goods. There’s even a poetry contest (O! Fairest of Fairs, purveyor of lard/ How dost thou inspire this overstuffed Bard!). And just when you think you’ve had your fair share of fair, make one last stop at the Mid-Atlantic Southeastern Wine Competition for a little

swirling and sipping — and take home the best prize of all: a bottle of one of the region’s finest vintages. It’ll restore your weary bones . . . and fortify you for a return visit. Dixie Classic Fair, 421 West 27th Street, Winston-Salem. Info: (336) 727-2236 or www.dcfair.com. —Nancy Oakley

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GreenScene ANIMATED! Exhibition Opening Green Hill Center for NC Art September 6, 2013 Photographs by Lynn Donovan

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Triad Pride in the Park Festival Saturday, September 14, 2013 Photographs by Lynn Donovan

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GreenScene

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The Accidental Astrologer

New Love, Old Story By Astrid Stellanova The stars finally aligned for me in the love department, Sweet Things. His name is a mouthful: Augustus Beauregard Shackleford III. Bowling buddies call him Gus, but to me he’s Beau. He’s still got most of his red hair, his own teeth and freckles. He used to have good eyesight, but he ain’t now, ’cause he thinks yours truly looks this good without trying. Anyhow, we met up on Facebook when I posted this want ad for a telepath: “You know where to apply.” Best of all is Gus can’t sneak off without getting caught, ’cause of them flashing rims on his Eldorado. All Miss Astrid can say about Beau and his ride is, “Yum, yum, eat em up!” Libra (September 23-October 22) It has been a trying time, and you have been sorely tested at work. Your main coping strategy has been to self-medicate. A six-pack is not a strategy. Listen here, when we had to cremate Great Grandpa Hornblower, bless his heart, he had drunk so much Blatz he burned for two days. There’s a resolution coming you just couldn’t have guessed, so hang onto your boxer shorts and deal. You are coming into your own and your due, at last! Before you’ve blown the candles out on the birthday cake, you’ll have a big old smile on your face that won’t quit till Christmas. The best days to have your cake and eat it too: the 11th, 19th and 29th. Scorpio (October 23-November 21) OK, Beau says if you drive like a bat outta hell, you bound to get there. And he oughta know. Your perpetual bad mood is about to lift. There’s a check coming you didn’t expect. Time to finally take them skydiving lessons you always dreamed about. There’s a change-of-life lesson coming your way which involves a tank of gas and an itch to hit the open road. Do it. Or at least, back out of the driveway and go around the block and live a little, Darlin’. A confluence on the 12th is in your favor but use your side mirrors, Rambo. Sagittarius (November 22-December 21) You got blinders on when it comes to recognizing your best traits. You’re entitled to more than you ask for, Honey Bun, and you are loyal to a fault. My brother was a good-looking Sagittarius, and when he got called up during ’Nam, he had a girlfriend so scary looking he couldn’t take her to a dog fight for fear she would win it. But he stuck by her. She, on the other hand, sent him a Dear John before he ever shipped outta Camp Lejeune. When you experience a major upheaval early this month, it will lead to eventually re-thinking a lot of your life plans. By the 16th, things are going to look Windex-clear. Capricorn (December 22-January 19) If your lifetime goal is to own a complete set of Pez dispensers, then you have already achieved something. On the other hand, time is a-wasting if you meant to have children or get a medical degree. Did you ever look up the word “procrastinator”? A planetary alignment around the 20th will mean it is time to get off the porch and run with the big dogs. If Antiques Roadshow comes to town, just sell them dispenser toys, honey, and get your money back so you can go to Phoenix University. And go ahead and become a computer geek, or a mammogram technician like you always dreamed. Late month will make that, and other things, a possibility.

Right All the Time. Take it from Miss Astrid, Facebook is a good place to troll. (What did we do with our days before Facebook? Bale wheat? Hoe cotton? Chew gum and cuss? Honey, the day I met Beau I spent about fourteen straight hours on FB in a kinda like blur.) Aries (March 21-April 19) Beau said things didn’t work out with his first wife because he’s an Aries and she was a — well, it ain’t actually an astrological sign or a nice word, but it rhymes with itch. But when she left him he was so miserable without her, it was about as bad as when she was still there. Honey, this is October, when you figure out that you are never too old to learn something really and truly stupid. With a convergence in your sign this month, you have a chance to learn from your past. But I’ve got a Chinese fortune cookie that says, “Nostalgia ain’t what it used to be.” Take a reality check mid-month, and enjoy the 22nd through the 25th. Taurus (April 20-May 20) You’re just like my AA sponsor, who claims they used to drink just to make other people interesting. It’s going to get more interesting, trust me. The 3rd through the 7th are pretty crazy-making. When an old love shows up this month, buy the negatives no matter what she asks for them. Just saying you got some long-buried things in your past erupting now, and you gotta deal with them. You got a rocky road the first half of the month, then you find resolution if you can do this one thing: Just. Shut. Up. Especially on the 28th and the 29th. My mama says a wise man covers his ass, but a wiser one keeps his pants on — does that ring true for you, Raging Bull? Gemini (May 21-June 20) The Twin has got some complicating factors coming into play. Feel confused? Hey, this is Be Nice to Somebody Month. Try it. By the 25th, you get big news from somebody who is important. At least to you. If you thought things were going better, you musta overlooked something, Sugar. Astrologically, you got some fence-mending to do. Before a planetary shift resolves next month, you might want to say “Sorry.” Heck fire, say it twice because at the first and last of the month, you will step on some toes. Again. Cancer (June 21-July 22) The truth for you, Crab Cakes, is just like Beau’s bumper sticker: “Don’t Follow Me, I’m Lost.” (Or is it the other one: “Warning: in the Event of the Rapture, This Vehicle Will Become Unmanned”?) Anyhow, you might be on the right road, but until the 9th you got no clue where you’re headed or what county you’re in. Ever think about surrendering your license? Until a planetary flux resolves, you might as well just lie low. My fortune cookie says, “He who stands on toilet is high on pot.” No matter how high you feel by the end of the month, don’t take on too much. Leo (July 23-August 22) Trying to control a Leo is like betting you can quit gambling. Honey Child, you still think that making mistakes is fine if somebody else is willing to learn from them. This month, you have an astrological hiccup in your star sign on the 15th that is going to make you question your own sanity. Which is possibly going to make you a better human being when it all really goes down. When you realize that honesty is good but insanity is the best defense, it could be useful to share your past with your public defender. Otherwise, count your lucky stars till the 22nd.

Aquarius (January 20-February 18) The thing is, you’ve been frustrated and broke lately. Get in line, Sugar. If you gotta borrow money, my mama always told me to make sure to get a loan from a pessimist, ’cause they don’t expect it back anyhow. Your financial fortunes will change, thanks to an interplanetary shift on the 7th that will have your pockets full and your mind empty. (Or vice versa. I get confused sometimes.) Mama also said money can’t buy happiness. But, even you spiritual types know scratch is kinda like a Fudgsicle or a stick of gum: They sure can make misery a lot easier to handle. After the first of the month, all is settled.

Virgo (August 23-September 22) This is a perfect time to get back in shape after all that birthday cake, Sweet Thing. I know, round is a shape, but that ain’t what I meant. Your stars point to this being a good time to firm up. Your mind could use a little work in that department too. Midmonth is a good time to restrain some of them urges you got. It’s bad luck to be superstitious, but I think you should take this horoscope with you to Weight Watchers. Maybe they’ll give you a discount, or a bumper sticker. Tell ’em at WW that Miss Astrid sent you, and I promise to weigh in next month. OH

Pisces (February 19-March 20) This month, you’re kinda like a hooker winning the lottery. Between your sex drive and your sense of humor, you’ve got something to share with near about everybody. By the 15th, you meet someone who will be a big influence on your future. Around the middle of the month, you find either a Mr. Right Now or Mr.

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.

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O.Henry Ending

The Ghost of Deep River The night Naomi Wise came to visit

By Sandra Redding

After her murder in 1808, sto-

ries about Naomi Wise captured the imaginations of thousands. A Randleman bridge and street still bear her name. Her demise inspired several singers, including Doc Watson and Bob Dylan, to record songs about her.

Naomi’s ghost certainly earned the right to haunt. Our forebears did her wrong. Initially ignored because she was a poor orphan without a dowry, she proved her worth by helping a farm family tend their crops. Still, Randolph County folks shunned her when she took up with Jonathan Lewis, a scheming scoundrel who lived in Greensboro. After Jonathan strangled Naomi, leaving her in the shallows of Deep River, law enforcement officials placed the villain in jail. He promptly escaped. Years later, after he was recaptured in Kentucky, his trial took place in Greensboro. The court rejected a charge of murder. The jury did, however, find him guilty of escaping jail. Since then Naomi sightings in Guilford County have remained rare, but she continues to visit folks just a few miles south of the city. When do sightings occur? Sometimes she drops by in the dead of winter or the heat of summer. She likes visiting on the Ides of March, but her choice time for spooking folks is during October. On Halloween Eve in 1953, in the attic of the Randleman home my brother Mick and I shared with our parents, the two of us attempted to scare the liver pudding out of one another by comparing Naomi sightings. “Last night, Stevie Duncan saw her sitting on a limb of an oak tree hooting like an owl,” Mick said. When I heard wind blowing outside, I shivered.

“Yeah, Naomi’s definitely back. She’s been prowling around the banks of Deep River searching for Jonathan Lewis.” “Did you actually see her? Did she speak?” “Well, not exactly.” Because my brother, then 12, two years younger than me, seemed to know so much about specters, I despised having to admit that I’d only heard moans and viewed what appeared to be a footprint in a rock. Surely, it must have been hers. “Bobby Turner claimed he saw her flying above the steeple of First Baptist Church. She was transparent. He said he counted the stars by looking right through her.” “Bobby Turner’s half blind,” I answered. “The lenses in his glasses are thick as the bottom of an ashtray.” “Well, I saw her too,” Mick contended. Before I had a chance to cross-examine, Mom called from downstairs. “You kids come on down. Don’t let supper get cold.” Talking about specters always took my appetite. Besides, I needed to hear Mick’s latest take on Naomi, so, ignoring Mom, I asked, “Exactly where did you see Naomi?” “Down by the river. On her back she carried her own tombstone. Her feet were bare, her lips, blue, and she wore a ratty ole nightgown.” Shivering, I buttoned up the red sweater I wore over my jeans and T-shirt. As Mick kept talking, I searched his brown eyes. They tended to shift around when he fibbed. Unlike my brother, I’d only sensed the creepy presence of Naomi. Still, I truly believed she sometimes walked behind me, but when I turned, no one was there. Running out of new Naomi stuff, we began reviewing earlier sightings, such as the time Naomi walked right into our neighbors’ house and sat down at the table. According to Clifford and Arnelle Bean, she put peas and potatoes on her plate, but when offered catfish, rose up, dumped her plate on the floor and drifted away. As we continued to chat, relating how Naomi’s apparition once rose up like a dolphin in the middle of Deep River or the time she started a fire in an abandoned barn, I heard creaking sounds, certainly not uncommon in the 20-year-old house we inhabited. And then, suddenly, a loud “boo.” Mick fell right out of his straight-back chair. Because I sat on the floor, I had no place to escape as a tall white figure leapt right into the attic. Mick screamed, “Naomi’s gonna get us.” My heart pounded. Though I wanted to plead with the ghost to spare us, no words came. Then, oh, my stars, the specter disrobed. When the sheet was lifted, I realized it was only Daddy laughing his head off. “You scared us half to death,” Mick accused. After my father finally quit cackling, he warned, “Guess that’ll teach you kids to mind your mother. Next time she calls, get down the stairs — pronto!” OH Like Naomi, author Sandra Redding grew up near the banks of Deep River. Her novel, Naomi Wise: A Cautionary Tale, focuses on the life of the murdered orphan and is available from her website, www.sandraredding.com. Illustration by Harry Blair

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The Art & Soul of Greensboro


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The Art & Soul of Greensboro

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The Art & Soul of Greensboro

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