WALTER Magazine - February 2023

Page 1


Art & Soul of Raleigh
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26Q&A: Community Champ Carmen Cauthen’s

30 MUSIC: Psychedelic Singles

Garage-rock bands of the 1960s

32NATURE: It’s Only Natural

How our wild neighbors woo

35LOCALS: Small-Town Sorcerers

Magic folks converge in Clayton

38SPORTS: Right on Time

UNC basketball star Phil Ford

41ART: Just Working

Antoine Williams forged his path

44VAULT: Human History Research at the COR Museum brings two women together

48SIMPLE LIFE: Where Does the Light Go?

Remembering a dear friend

the cover: Inside the Leaston home. Photograph by Catherine Nguyen
new book
IN EVERY ISSUE 12 Editor’s Letter 16 Contributors 17 Your Feedback 19 Datebook 87 The Whirl 95 Extras 96 End Note
Forrest Mason (PHIL FORD); Bryan Regan (CARDS)
38 35 Apex Location 123 North Salem Street 919.363.6990 Raleigh Location 8828 Midway West Road Appointment Only TRIPLE A HOMES PHIL BACCARELLA


by Dasan Ahanu

52 With Love

Romantic letters from the North Carolina State Archives by Susanna Klingenberg photography by Bryan Regan

62The Orchid Whisperer

Before they were an easy find, this woman brought orchids to Raleigh by Katherine Snow Smith photography by Taylor McDonald


A young family builds a modern and fun place to gather by Ayn-Monique Klahre photography by Catherine Nguyen

80 The Runaway

Artist Gabe Eng-Goetz takes his craft to new heights by Colony Little photography by Terrence Jones

Terrence Jones (GOETZ); courtesy NC State Archives (HEART) 51 Black Tidal Waves on the Front Line Better Together


It’s a running joke at the office that I don’t know how to drive. “Do you even have a car?” my colleagues ask. It’s true that I would rather take a Lyft than find and pay for parking. I will walk to work in the winter when it’s 20 degrees outside (rarely, thank goodness) and walk home in the summer when it’s 90-plus. I can handle some precipitation, as long as it won’t ruin my hairdo.

That said, I’ve only been a car owner for about five years. While I grew up driving around the suburbs like a normal person, I started my adult life in New York City, where owning a car is more a liability than a convenience. Part of the reason we moved to Raleigh was because it has a liveable downtown, and when I interviewed for this job, I was pleased to learn that the WALTER offices were just a mile from our house. Having spent over a decade without regularly driving, I was a nervous driver when we moved here. It’s hard to get very lost on foot, but easy to get irredeemably turned around in a car. I remember a friend trying to explain to me how Person Street turned into Wake Forest Road then Atlantic Avenue going north… what? I white-knuckled those curves on Wade Avenue and sweated through that Five Points intersection. I drove the wrong way down one-way streets. I noticed that people don’t honk much around here, but they sure get awful close to your bumper

when you’re driving the speed limit. And anything more than 2 miles from the house seemed very, very far.

Those distances get smaller over time. Last year my oldest daughter started taking violin lessons up in North Raleigh. Might as well have been Mars, for the amount of food and water I packed for the voyage. The first few months, I complained about the drive. But at some point, I started to actually look forward to it. I get almost an hour of uninterrupted time to chat with my tween. We keep an eye out for this one yard with an amazing treehouse. We dutifully listen to our Suzuki CD on the way there, then sing along to the Hamilton soundtrack on the way home. We discovered a “good” Walgreens en route that has an undertapped supply of Squishmallows for birthday gifts.

These days, I would say, I’m a confident driver. Maybe overly so — I believe the phrase “bat out of hell” came out of my coworker Julie’s mouth the last time I offered to chauffeur us to our company headquarters in Southern Pines.

Needless to say, she drove.

Left: I got to know the Leaston family writing this month’s home feature (page 70). Right: Me with Laura Wall (left) and Julie Nickens at WALTER’s Celebrate the Season.
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Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto

No. 3

FRI/SAT, MAR 10-11, 2023 | 8PM

Rune Bergmann, conductor

Zee Zee, piano

Zee Zee performs Rachmaninoff’s masterpiece.

In the Air Tonight: The Music

Of Phil Collins & Genesis

FRI/SAT, MAR 17-18, 2023 | 8PM

Stuart Chafetz, conductor

Aaron C. Finley, vocals

Brook Wood, vocals

Guest vocalists and the Symphony pay tribute to mega-band Genesis and Phil Collins!


Symphony No. 3

FRI/SAT, MAR 24-25, 2023 | 8PM

Alpesh Chauhan, conductor

Francesca Dego, violin

An evening of gorgeous melodies with Brahms and Prokofiev.

Back by Popular Demand!

Carnival of the Animals

SAT, APR 1, 2023 | 4PM

Michelle Di Russo, conductor Paperhand Puppet Intervention

Larger-than-life puppets from Paperhand Puppets make the animal kingdom come to life!

Young People’s Concert Series

Sponsor: WakeMed Children’s





Creative Director


Associate Editor


Contributing Writers

Dasan Ahanu, A.J. Carr, Jim Dodson, Mike Dunn, Hampton Williams Hofer, Susanna Klingenberg, Colony Little, David Menconi, Courtney Napier, Liza Roberts, Katherine Snow Smith, Billy Warden

Contributing Poetry Editor

Jaki Shelton Green

Contributing Copy Editor

Finn Cohen

Contributing Photographers

Phillip Loken, Forrest Mason, Taylor McDonald, Catherine Nguyen, Bryan Regan, Joshua Steadman, Terrence Jones

Contributing Illustrators

Gerry O’Neill


Emma Deal

Jamaul Moore




Advertising Sales Manager


Senior Account Executive & Operations CRISTINA HURLEY

Events Manager


Finance STEVE ANDERSON 910-693-2497

Distribution JACK BURTON

Inquiries? WALTER OFFICE 984-286-0928

Address all correspondence to: WALTER magazine, 421 Fayetteville Street, Suite 104 Raleigh, N.C. 27601

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North Carolina Poet Laureate Jaki Shelton Green teaches Documentary Poetry at Duke University Center for Documentary Studies. She was recently listed in Forbes magazine’s 50 Over 50 Women. “I am honored to celebrate the many poets in our state. Their diverse voices sing us hopeful and remind us that poetry is everywhere, waiting to be plucked. Dasan Ahanu’s spoken-word artistry continues to amplify and witness our collective human condition. I am excited about his recent appointment as the Piedmont Laureate in Poetry, where he will use his ambassadorship of spoken word to engage and expand a love of poetry to the public.” courtesy contributors


Susanna Klingenberg is a Raleighbased editor and writer specializing in books and culture. When she’s not poking around library stacks, you’ll find her exploring the Triangle’s green spaces with her family. The North Carolina State Archives have captured her imagination for years, so she was thrilled for an excuse to dive into its collection. “Reading love letters from NC history was a delight: some are sweet, some are a little spicy, but they’re all a reminder that the desire for connection transcends time.”

As a shy kid with dyslexia, Terrence Jones found photography to be a great way to meet people, then fell in love with the craft. Jones began his career as a regional magazine’s lead photographer and creative director in the Tri-State area. After ten years in that position, he chose to go into freelance photography. Serving a diverse client base for the last few years, small business owners particularly appreciate Jones’ ability to capture their story visually. When he’s not behind the camera, Jones enjoys mountain biking. “It was an honor to photograph and get to know Gabe, he’s a talented artist.”


Catherine Nguyen is a Raleigh photographer specializing in residential and commercial interior and exterior design. After starting her career in branding and marketing in her hometown of New York City, Nguyen pursued photography at The Academy of Art University in San Francisco. Her work has been published in Flower, Home Design & Decor and California Home and Design. “This home designed by Miretta Interiors is full of color, pattern and life! It was an absolute pleasure to tap into the Leaston family’s energy and see how it translated into these gorgeous spaces.”


Many people wrote in about “Touch Downs,” about Jim Ritcher’s football and airline careers.

“A great guy and a wonderful family. We met them one season when John and our son, Brian, played baseball together. Thanks for writing such a great article about Jim.”

“I’m fortunate to have had Jim ride in the cockpit commuting back and forth between RDU and Charlotte and have dinner with him a couple of times.”

“A fine and humble man. An outstanding pilot. He flew as a member of my crew on the Airbus A330 several times.”

We also received many comments about “Southern Spirit,” in which Nathalie Dupree shared her holiday memories and recipes.

“I enjoyed your article about Nathalie Dupree. She is one of my favorite cookbook authors — she’s even on my ‘food writers wall.’ [shown below] We met at the Greenbriar years ago.”

“My daughter, Lisa, and I made the Turnip Gratin recipe on Christmas Day. We really enjoyed it and had some reheated for the next day! The recipes were wonderful to make together.”

@waltermagazine WALTER 421 Fayetteville Street, Suite 104 Raleigh, N.C. 27601
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Stay cozy this month with candlelit concerts, out-of-the-box art classes and new ways to interact with nature.


Why not turn the most romantic day of the year into a time to support Triangle businesses? From flowers to chocolate and more, here’s where to find some classic Valentine’s Day treats.


Lucky for us, there’s no shortage of really good chocolate in the City of Oaks. Videri Chocolate Factory (327 W. Davie Street; in the Warehouse District is known for its hand-crafted chocolate bars and decadent soft-serve ice cream. Escazu Chocolates (936 N. Blount Street; offers fine, beautifully decorated truffles with unique flavor combinations. Spring & Mulberry (multiple retailers; was founded by a local woman looking to consume less sugar after a battle with cancer. These chocolates are naturally sweetened with dates, and paired with unexpected ingredients like lavender, bee pollen and mango.


Whether it’s sweet or funny, the perfect card is something to cherish. Visit If It’s Paper (445 Daniels Street; for pretty, painterly stationery. Stationer Decree Company has a small selection of handmade letterpress greetings at its new downtown location (135 E. Martin Street;decreecompany. com). And for funny, edgy cards from both local and national designers, swing by DECO (207 S. Salisbury Street; decoraleigh. com) or Edge of Urge (215 E. Franklin Street, Suite 110; to peruse the offerings.


For truly local blooms, visit the North Carolina State Farmers Market (1201 Agriculture Street; and grab a bundle of seasonal stems, wrapped in brown paper and tied up with string. Order a bouquet from Kelly Odom Flowers (102 Glenwood Avenue; for something over-the-top or if your sweetheart likes exotic blooms from around the world. Fallon’s Flowers (700 St. Marys Street; offers a range of bouquets, but if you prefer to make your own, visit on a Friday, when it offers single-cut stems from the cooler for 50% off.


From cava to prosecco to actual champagne, there are lots of effervescent options. Visit a wine shop for guidance on a bottle that’ll please your palate. Raleigh Wine Shop (317 S. Bloodworth Street; offers a broad selection and a cozy back room to sit and sip. Wine Authorities has a large range of old-world European options and a knowledgeable staff (211 E. Franklin Street; If you’re up for a drive, Rocks & Acid in Chapel Hill (712 Market Street, Chapel Hill; was recently opened by sommelier Paola de Pano, who brings a lively vibe to her recommendations.

Getty Images The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 19
All information is accurate as of press time, but please check and the event websites for the latest updates



All month | 8 a.m. - 12 p.m. Sweet potatoes, winter berries and collards, oh my! Believe it or not, the cold winter months of North Carolina have quite a lot to offer, produce-wise. Spend your Saturday scouring the Midtown Farmers Market for fixings for cozy February meals. Fairport Farms will be selling broccoli and radishes, meat purveyor WILDERS will have its signature Wagyu beef and Apex Seafood & Market will have an assortment of North Carolina seafood like amberjack, halibut and shrimp. “It’s the true local farmer and local artisans’ winter market. We are a producers-only market, and everything is produced within a 100-mile radius of Raleigh,” says Jeff Newsome of Peggy Rose’s Jellies, a regular vendor and manager of the Winter Market. Longtime vendor Linda Maggio of S&L Farms, which sells eggs, chicken and soups, loves being able to connect with customers this time of year. “It’s more intimate, you have more time talking with people and you get to know people very well,” Maggio says. “We have a great community of people here who are dedicated to having high-quality sustainable food.” Free; 4191 Main at North Hills Street;


Feb. 1 - 6 | Various times

Warning: a Yeti is hiding in the J.C. Raulston Arboretum. Bring your kids on a self-guided scavenger hunt to find the 4-foot tall monster (don’t worry, he’s made of plywood) while observing all winter has to show off in the garden, including camellias, flowering quince, fragrant wintersweet, crocus and viburnum. Children’s program coordinator Elizabeth Overcash says this is a great way to get kids outside in nature this time of year, when there’s still plenty of plant life to be seen. “It’s good silly fun. It’s intended to be a way to explore the Arboretum without having to follow a map or solve a clue,” says Overcash. “We hope that it gets you to explore


Feb. 2 -12 | Various times NOTED

This month at Burning Coal Theatre, see a thought-provoking drama (and a New York Times critic pick) that follows the tusks of a poached elephant, Mlima, as they travel the Ivory Highway, a road in Cameroon infamously used by traffickers, onto a cargo ship and eventually to China. In this story written by Lynn Nottage, a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, the soul of Mlima travels with its tusks, prompting the question of why they are worth more than its life. “It is both beautiful and sad and often very funny, but in the end, we are left with no doubt about what we need to do to stop this violence against elephants, and by extension, against all of the world’s natural resources,” says Burning Coal Theatre artistic director Jerome Davis. “Mlima wants us to know we have only one home. And if we destroy it, we will all be left to travel Mlima’s path.” From $20; 224 Polk Street;

a new spot in the gardens and maybe see something you haven’t discovered before!” Come rain, snow or sun during the arboretum’s open hours, because the Yeti enjoys all sorts of winter weather, she says. Free; 4415 Beryl Road;


Wednesdays | 12 - 2 p.m.

Want to liven up your weekday lunch break? Take it to RTP. Boxyard is hosting Hear & There, a lunch series on Wednesdays with global musicians on its BeatBox stage. First up is Também, a group including pianist Ingrid Knight and Uruguayan drummer Gastón Reggio, which is known for performing Brazilian music infused with elements of jazz and classical stylings. Might we suggest Lawrence BBQ for lunch? Its menu is ever-rotating, but you can always count on some solid mac and cheese, fried Brussels sprouts and a juicy brisket sandwich. Free to listen; 900 Park Offices Drive, Research Triangle Park;


Feb. 2 | 9 a.m.

Paint or draw in the open air at Raleigh’s Historic Oakwood Cemetery with a class led by the cemetery’s program coordinator — an artist herself — Brianna McCormick. Though it may surprise some, McCormick says, the cemetery is a wonderful place to paint. “Oakwood Cemetery is full of life,” McCormick says. “More than a burial ground, it’s like a sculpture garden, arboretum, urban wildlife sanctuary and park in one.” The classes are held the first Thursday of each month, rain or shine, and are open to artists of all ages and skill levels. Participants meet at the cemetery office at 9 a.m. and then walk together to a chosen location. Bring your preferred art supplies, water and a chair or blanket. During the class, McCormick will lead discussions on various vantage points in Raleigh, the diverse plant life of the cemetery, history and art. “I love that we traipse across the grounds, art supplies in hand, to the

courtesy Burning Coal Theatre (MLIMA’S TALE)

cemetery’s myriad vistas and protected locations,” says McCormick. No experience is necessary, she says: “We have people who are just starting their painting journey making work alongside experienced painters.” Free; 701 Oakwood Avenue;


Feb. 2 - 4 | 8 p.m.

Local country rock band American Aquarium is back in Raleigh for its annual three-show “Road Trip to Raleigh” at downtown’s Lincoln Theatre. It’s the band’s last United States gig before heading overseas to start their European tour. Expect to hear tunes from their latest album, Chicamacomico, frontman B.J. Barham’s tribute to family life during the pandemic. Nashville-based rock musician Katie Pruitt and countrymeets-punk group Lucero will also join them on stage. 126 E. Cabarrus Street;


Feb. 4 | 8:30 a.m. - 11 a.m.

Did you know that in Raleigh there are more than 100 species of birds? Search for goldfinches, wrens, sparrows and woodpeckers at Brumley North Nature

Preserve for a First Saturday Bird Watch led by the Wake Audubon Society and the Triangle Land Conservancy. Named one of the best places for birding in North Carolina by the TLC, Brumley offers an easy trail with lots of spots to stop. Don’t want to rise early for this one? Take note of the birds near your own home from Feb. 17 to 20 as part of the global Great Backyard Bird Count (, an annual tradition in February where engaged citizens can help contribute to the research and protection of our feathered friends. Free but registration required; Brumley North Parking Lot, 3620 Old State Highway 10, Durham;


Feb. 2 - 5 | Various times

Shop the end-of-season sales from the

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merchants of Lafayette Village along the cobblestone sidewalks of this Europeaninspired shopping district. Alongside goods from Savory Spice, Olive Wagon, artisan jewelry shop Paisley Boutique and clothing shop Koket, enjoy live music and enter to win prizes from merchants. Once you’ve worked up an appetite from all the shopping, grab a bite from Sushi One or Farina Italian Restaurant. Free to attend; 8450 Honeycutt Road;


Feb. 2 - 19 | Various times

Watch the dancers of The Carolina Ballet perform to the sounds of Norwegian pianist and composer Edvard Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A Minor. Completed in 1868 when he was just 24 years old, it’s Grieg’s most popular work. “Although we live in a completely different time and place, Grieg’s music shows us that there is still a romantic in all of us,” says


Feb. 7 | 6:30 p.m.

Saif Rahman, the chef of Vidrio, is headlining this month’s Reviving the Supper Club series. The dinner will benefit the nonprofit Ripe for Revival’s Mobile Market program, which works to combat hunger in Eastern North Carolina. One part virtual cooking class, one part fundraiser — with a delicious meal to enjoy at the end — this is the third installation of the series. A ticket includes access to the event and a robust meal kit with instructions and locally sourced ingredients, delivered to your home. Not around on Feb. 7? Feel free to purchase a ticket and a recording of the cooking class will be emailed to you later. This episode’s menu includes a pan-seared Joyce Farms Heritage Poulet Rouge Chicken, curried sweet potato sauce and Carolina Gold rice, along with a vibrant Bengali tomato salad. There also will be 30 tickets available to dine at Vidrio (500 Glenwood Avenue, Suite 100) to watch the class and enjoy the same amazing meal, without preparing it yourself. $99; virtual;

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courtesy Vidrio (RAHMAN)
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Feb. 4 | 11 a.m. - 3 p.m.

A collaboration between Triangle PopUp and the North Carolina Museum of Art, this market offers a curated selection of local artisans at the West Building. Then pop in the new NCMA Café by Catering Works to try their lunch menu before perusing the galleries. Free admission; 2110 Blue Ridge Road,


Feb. 7 | 7 - 8:30 p.m.

Celebrate African American resilience at a film screening at North Carolina State University’s D.H. Hill Jr. Library. Talking Black in America - Roots is one component of a five-part Emmy-winning documentary series that looks at the stories and culture of people and societies from West Africa and across the African diaspora. A project born from The Language and Life Project at North Carolina State University, it was filmed in the Bahamas, the United States and Ghana. Free; D. H. Hill Jr. Library Auditorium, 2 Broughton Drive;


Feb. 7 - 12 | Various times

“When quizzing musical theater lovers about their all-time favorite show, many will exclaim Dreamgirls without pause,” says North Carolina Theatre producing artistic director Eric Woodall. See this Tony-awarding winning musical — which went on to be an Oscar-winning film — this month at the Duke Performing Arts Center. Set during the time of The Supremes and The Temptations, Dreamgirls explores friendship, talent and the behind-thescenes realities that come with fame in the music industry. The cast includes local performers, Broadway actors and even performers who have appeared on NBC’s The Voice. “We have gathered


Curated collection of unique gifts inspired by our love of nature

— featuring

Hand embroidered brooches by Trovelore and more!

Downtown Raleigh

The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 23

these unbelievably talented local and visiting performers to make our unique version of Dreamgirls right here in Raleigh,” says Woodall. From $34; 2 E. South Street;


Feb 9 & 14 | 6:30 & 9 p.m.

The Merrimon-Wynne House is hosting the traveling event Candlelight for a Valentine’s Day-themed evening of music in The Carriage House. Performed by a string quartet, the show includes classical covers of iconic love songs including “My Heart Will Go On” from Titanic, “Moon River” from Breakfast at Tiffany’s and scores from Romeo and Juliet. “The Candlelight concert is a truly serene experience,” says Lindsey Simmons with Merrimon-Wynne. Signature cocktails, wine, beer and candy are available for purchase before and during the hourlong concert. $45; 500 N. Blount Street;


Weekends | Various times NOTED

Bring your animal-loving friends and family on a Siler City adventure for Celebrity Dairy’s Open Barn Days, during which the dairy farm opens its grounds for a family-friendly excuse to get out of the city and into the country. Roam the grounds, cozy up in the atrium, and enjoy the main draw: interacting with over 100 kid goats, some of whom will have have just been born! Children will especially love the extra-long rope swing outside the barns. Bring cash for a gourmet farm-fresh lunch after you’ve worked up an appetite. In past years, Siler City has offered warming dishes like vegetarian chili, cornbread and lentil stew, each topped with the dairy’s specialty goat cheese. Try their homemade gelato for dessert. Free to attend; 144 Celebrity Dairy Way, Siler City;

DATEBOOK courtesy Celebrity Dairy


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Carmen Cauthen is a native Raleighite, down to her birth at Saint Agnes Hospital in 1960. She grew up in several historic Black neighborhoods, including Oberlin Village and Madonna Acres, and was raised by parents that prized community, which they served faithfully as a pharmacist and school teacher. Cauthen fostered her unique affection for the stories of the elders she regularly interacted with in her childhood home, her father’s pharmacies and her mother’s Bible study meetings. After graduating from North Carolina State University, Cauthen became a clerk for the North Carolina General Assembly, from which she retired after 20 years. Her experience at the NCGA sharpened her research skills — and gave her a unique perspective on the impact that history can have on everyday life.

community CHAMP

An interview with author and historian Carmen Cauthen

Cauthen became concerned with Wake County’s rising property taxes and development and their impact on long-neglected neighborhoods. In 2019, she started working with a local affordable housing advocacy organization, Wake County Housing Justice Coalition (WCHJC). That work became a gateway into researching her first love, Raleigh’s Black history. Since then, she has become a leading historian on Raleigh’s Black communities. Her first book is Historic Black Neighborhoods of Raleigh, which was released in late 2022 through Arcadia Publishing.


I grew up in Raleigh’s Black neighborhoods, and I’ve loved history since I was a young girl. But the opportunity for in-depth research came quite recently.

I was working with the WCHJC in 2019. I hate being old, but I was the oldest person in the room! I would talk about things that I remembered about Southeast Raleigh.

I had done some personal research for fun about Southeast Raleigh, and I had found two digitized research papers. The first, “The Evolution of Raleigh’s African-American Neighborhoods in the 19th and 20th Centuries,” was written by Richard L. Mattson, Ph.D., a preservation consultant with Mattson, Alexander and Associates, based in Charlotte. He was hired for a massive architecture survey second by the Raleigh Historic Districts Commission (RHDC) between 1987 and 1992. The second paper was the master’s thesis of Karl Edward Larson entitled “Separate Reality: The Development of Racial Segregation in Raleigh, North Carolina, 1865-1915” written in 1983. Larson’s thesis was an important


resource for Mattson’s work and is referenced several times.

The members of the WCHJC were concerned with the inadequacy of the proposed affordable housing bond, so we planned a campaign to educate the public about this. I was asked to speak on the history of Southeast Raleigh.

I believe that when it’s time to speak on history, you go as far back as you can go. So I dug up these two papers by Larson and Mattson, and in rereading them I realized that Wake County had 12 freedmen’s villages. They were all outside of the original boundaries of the city: North, South, East and West Streets. Several of these made up what became Southeast Raleigh.

These freedman’s villages were created when slavery ended and plantations had to be sold. When investors bought these properties, they divided the properties into little tiny lots, and they put little tiny houses on them for formerly enslaved people to rent or lease. Bigger properties had houses that were on a third of an acre, but most were on a tenth of an acre or less. Those lots never changed sizes as they became part of Wake County’s plot plan.

I started to think economically: We build our generational wealth for the most part through our homes. These freedmen were already behind because they just came out of slavery. And if the only house you could purchase was on a tenth of an acre, as opposed to somebody who was able to build the same-sized house on an acre or more — now you’re even more behind, because this is a legal plot, and it’s all you have to work with.


In December of 2020, Heather Leah, a fellow Raleigh native, historian and reporter for WRAL’s “Hidden History” segment, reached out to the WCHJC and asked if there was somebody who could talk about the freedmen’s villages for a web story in development.

I didn’t think anything was coming of it, but after the story was published

in January 2021, she reached out again. Heather was speaking on the freedmen’s villages at the North Carolina Museum of History the following month, and she asked me if I would do it with her. I said, Okay! About 30 minutes after we finished the event, I got an email from an editor at Arcadia Publishing. She had attended the talk, and asked if I would be willing to write a book on Raleigh’s Black neighborhoods.

I thought I would easily get it done by

June — four months to complete my first draft. But that’s not what happened.


I started with my copy of a book called Culture Town: Life in Raleigh’s African American Communities, which was published in 1993 by the RHDC as a culmination of an architecture survey. Upon rereading the book, I saw that there were about 60 people who were quoted. I looked online for the interview transcripts or recordings, and found that there were actually 74 of them. On my first pass, I was able to find four of the transcripts, which were interviews with Manuel H. and Myrtle Creecy Crockett, Jesse Copeland, Clarence Lightner and John Winters. I had known all of them. As a young person, I would bring Mrs. Copeland’s medicine to her from the drugstore. I loved sitting with her and listening to her stories.

Anyway, Lightner’s interview transcript was 47 pages long, and the others were about 30 pages apiece. But in Culture Town, there were only two or three paragraphs from each person.


I reached out to Ernest Dollar at the City of Raleigh Museum, and they had had some students at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte transcribe some of the interviews through UNC’s Southern Oral History Program. He sent me those and, as I was reading them, I realized how incomplete they were. The students weren’t familiar with Raleigh, so many names and locations were spelled incorrectly. If you were trying to use this information as research, you couldn’t do it. I asked Wanda Cox-Bailey, who’s a former librarian at Richard B. Harrison Library, to help me find the original tapes and the rest of the transcripts. That October, we found them at the library.


The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 27
A book from the Mollie H. Lee collection in the Richard B. Harrison Library.
“When it’s time to speak on history, you go as far back as you can go. So I dug up these two papers by Larson and Mattson... I realized that Wake County had 12 freedmen’s villages.”
— Carmen Cauthen


Older information, no matter who it is about, is not digitized. Also, much of the research is done in academia, and when the professors retire or pass away, oftentimes the access to their research goes with them. I was able to find the names of some of these books because they were mentioned in WAKE: Capital County of North Carolina, volumes 1 and 2, reference books written by Elizabeth Reid Murray. She was considered the foremost historian of Wake County’s early history. But, like Murray’s books and Culture Town, many of these reference books are out of print.

When I finally gathered all of my research materials, it was time to write. Having never written a book, I reached for the skills I gathered as a college student to build my approach: I bought hundreds of notecards, then started writing down the information I needed by hand and created a catalog system that allowed me to reach the right notecard when I came to that place in my book. Yes, I wrote a good part of this book by hand. I’m that old school!


It’s been that I can help our kids recognize that they came from somewhere important and that our people have done things. Too often, children — Black children in depressed communities in particular — hear, You haven’t done nothing, you come from nothing, you ain’t gonna be nothing. And that’s not true! It is so not true. But kids begin to believe that. And their parents might not be equipped to tell them otherwise, because they were told the same thing when they were young.

We come from a strong, resilient, proud people. We are fortunate to be from a town with two Black colleges and a middle class that grew up in between them. Everybody who’s Black here didn’t come from poverty! Black people in Raleigh came out of slavery and started businesses, churches, colleges and primary schools. Making this

critical information accessible to these families — our families — is an incredible reward.


Often, when I’m talking to somebody about affordable housing, they don’t understand why the gentrification piece is so important — that there’s cultural significance to every displaced family, every demolished building, every redeveloped neighborhood. Gentrification is all about overlooking this fact. That’s why they need to learn the history of Southeast Raleigh and Raleigh’s historically Black neighborhoods. Most don’t know that there was a 300-acre college, Latta University, in Oberlin Village. Most don’t know that the Lincolnville community was where Carter-Finley’s parking lot is today. The people in that community were forced to sell. Hargett Street is known for being our Black Main Street, but many of those businesses were originally on Fayetteville Street.

They moved to Hargett Street because of segregation and Jim Crow. It’s important to know who you are and where you came from, even if you don’t like what it is, because it shapes who you are.


This book sparked a passion to write more. We need more books! We need to know more about what Black women in Raleigh and beyond have accomplished. I want to write a book about my mother, Cliffornia Wimberley. She was an amazing woman, but like many amazing Black women around the world, we only know little bits and pieces of their stories. That was the rewarding part of writing about Raleigh’s Black neighborhoods, learning my purpose. It took 60-plus years for it to be revealed. And as I look back, I can see every step that God put in place, whether I followed it exactly or not. But it still led me here.

This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Documents in the Richard B. Harrison library. Mollie Huston Lee was the first African American librarian in Wake County and the founder of this library.

MARCH 15–19

Tickets on sale January 18 for members and February 1 for nonmembers

Blue Ridge
Road, Raleigh


A compilation of obscure garage-rock tracks from the 1960s captures a niche with enduring appeal

The Fabulous Wunz were a young rock band from Asheville in the mid-1960s. It was an era when there was seemingly a band in every garage, and they had a pretty typical chronology: a teenage quartet that formed in Beatlemania’s wake, they were only together for a couple of years. They mostly played Beatles covers at local sock hops.

The Fabulous Wunz did, however, leave behind a physical artifact of their existence: the original song “If I Cry,” which they recorded and released as a single in 1966 on Pyramid Records. It had a B-side, “Please,” a song they finished writing in the back seat of the car while on their way to record at Arthur Smith Studios in Charlotte. “If I Cry” sold decently and even picked up

some radio airplay, though not enough to make the charts. The group would dissolve a few years later, undone by marriage and college.

“I wish we’d had some goals beyond just meeting girls,” Fabulous Wunz singer/guitarist Jim Stover says now. “If any 16-year-old has actual goals, I envy ’em. I wish we’d had somebody record us live, although maybe it’s good we didn’t.

The Fabulous Wunz, including Jim Stover on the far right.

Some people have recollections that reality might not match.”

Here in North Carolina and elsewhere, it’s the oldest rock ’n’ roll story there is. It’s also one of 80 songs and stories to be found on a new compilation, Psychedelic States: The Carolinas in the 60s (Gear Fab Records), which stands as the magnum opus of that era’s rock music in the Southeast.

While Psychedelic States covers both Carolinas, North and South, about two-thirds of its 80 songs are by North Carolina acts. The bands come from the length and breadth of the state with names like The Rogues, Inexpensive Handmade Look, Psychic Motion and Steps of Stone.

Perhaps fittingly, given the subject matter, the format of this gloriously impractical document is somewhere between archaic and obsolete. Not available as a download or on any streaming platforms due to the complexity of licensing, it’s only available on compact disc as a three-disc box set. But if you’ve still got a working CD player, it’s more than worth a listen.

A handful of acts here would go on to have actual careers, most notably Chapel Hill’s Arrogance. But the majority were never heard from again. Most of these bands were comprised of young men in that gap between old enough to drive but not drink (legally, at least), impassioned and musically primitive, less interested in notions of “art” than attracting the attention of the opposite sex.

What influences they had, they wore proudly. “Turn Out the Sun,” a 1969 single by The Missin’ Clues from Lumberton, sounds like a sped-up version of the Jefferson Airplane hit “Somebody to Love.” “Most of these bands didn’t have long careers,” says Ken Friedman of Chapel Hill, who served as one of

the compilation’s curators. “There were a lot of meteors. They’d get together, practice in their garage for a few weeks, play some sock hops, maybe win a Battle of the Bands, get to open for somebody big and make a record. Then there was Vietnam or college, and that was it. Most of them were doing it just to meet girls anyway. Sneering and bitching about girls can be a very, very deep well for teenage boys.”

A Colorado-based independent label, Gear Fab Records has been putting out similar state-based compilations in the Psychedelic States series for years, previously covering New York, Mississippi, Alabama and Texas, among others. The Carolinas in the 60s is Gear Fab’s first three-CD set.

To make the selections, the label turned to a team of collectors and historians, including Friedman and Asheville DJ Vance Powell.

Friedman is especially well-versed in this era of North Carolina rock history. A longtime collector, DJ and drummer in various oldies bands, Friedman earned his bona fides in the mid-1980s with Tobacco A-Go-Go, a series of compilations of 1960s-era Tar

Heel rock bands that he assembled and released on his independent label, Blue Mold Records.

Those albums were part of a nationwide wave of similar garage-rock compilations going back to the granddaddy of them all, 1972’s Nuggets: Original Artyfacts From the First Psychedelic Era

Compiled by Patti Smith guitarist Lenny Kaye, Nuggets was hugely influential on underground punk bands that began forming in the mid-1970s, New York’s legendary Ramones among them.

Meanwhile, this style of garage rock has remained popular among record collectors over the past half-century, the more obscure the better. Even the collectors themselves seem a little puzzled by the style’s enduring appeal — and also happy for reissues like Psychedelic States that keep it alive.

“What is it about this very rudimentary little genre that captivates so many collectors?” Friedman says. “You have to wonder how these bands even got into the studio, how many lawns they mowed to pay for it. Part of the charm is they wanted to sound angry but come off as innocent because they’re so young. These were not ‘message songs’ by any stretch, but it reflects an era. It’s a fun time capsule, and evidence that you did not have to be a millionaire genius to put out a record you can dance to.”

The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 31
Album artwork for Psychedelic States: The Carolinas in the 60s.
“I wish we’d had some goals beyond just meeting girls...
If any 16-year-old has actual goals, I envy ’em.”
— Jim Stover
Courtesy Gear Fab Records (ALBUMS); courtesy Jim Stover (FABULOUS WUNZ)

Ah, February… one of those months that few people put high on their list of memorable calendar moments.

The holidays are past, your bank account hasn’t yet started to recover and spring still seems far away. But a close look at some subtleties of our natural world may lift your spirits a bit. Early wildflowers are beginning to show hints of blooming, and some birds are starting to look for partners with a glint in their eyes.

it’s only


Our most celebrated February event, Valentine’s Day, traces back to the Middle Ages, when it was commonly believed in France and England that Feb. 14 was the beginning of birds’ mating season. But the holiday’s origins also come from sources as varied as a Roman pagan ritual of fertility to the martyrdom (also on Feb. 14) of multiple men named Saint Valentine during the reign of Roman Emperor Claudius Gothicus. But it was several centuries later that Geoffrey Chaucer (author of The Canterbury Tales) helped solidify the date as a time for romance. He penned “Parliament of Foules,” which included a phrase linking the sending of a love note to the time of year when birds begin considering amorous pursuits: For this was sent on Seynt Valentyne’s day / Whan every foul cometh ther to choose his mate. European nobility picked up the idea and love letters for Valentine’s Day became a thing. And now look at us… we celebrate this day of romance by spending over $20 billion on cards, flowers, chocolates and a host of other gifts to express our love for one another.

That said, we’re not the only species that engages in gifts, rituals and romance in this otherwise dreary month. Our wild neighbors have some peculiar love habits, too. Let’s take a look at just a few of the ways that local wildlife woo a mate and seal the deal for reproduction. Warning: the rest of this story may be for mature audiences only!

First, a quick look at some avian amour. Most are familiar with bird songs, one of the key ways of wooing

How our wild neighbors woo each other — and what comes next
Damselflies in the copulatory wheel position.

amongst our feathered friends. But birds also exhibit a variety of intricate displays, from the aerial acrobatics of the American Woodcock to the fanning tail feathers and struts of the Wild Turkey. Carolina Wren males often build a number of nests in their territory until one is chosen by the courted female as suitable. And, true to the spirit of the holiday, gift-giving is often part of bird courtship. One spring on Bald Head Island, I watched Royal Tern males courting females, each with a fish in its mouth as a love offering. Once a receptive female was found,

they strutted together for a while until she finally grabbed and gulped the gift. The pair then wandered off and consummated the relationship.

Sit next to almost any pond or waterway and you may be lucky to witness the unusual mating position of an Odonate dragonfly or damselfly. The anatomy of male Odonates is a bit odd: They have socalled secondary genitalia in the second abdominal segment just behind their thorax (where the wings are attached). Sperm is produced at the tip of their abdomen where their true genitalia are

located. Males then transfer the sperm to the second segment so females will have access to it in their mating position. Known as the “copulatory wheel,” it describes the circular or heart shape the two bodies create in the act. A male will grab a female in flight, just behind her head, using paired claspers at the tip of his tail. They may fly in this tandem position for several minutes. If receptive, the female eventually raises the tip of her abdomen to come in contact with the male’s secondary genitalia, forming the wheel.

(Another oddity about the male is that the second abdominal segment contains what is the equivalent of an insect Swiss Army knife: a hodge-podge of bizarre appendages that, depending on the species, is suited to scooping out, tamping down or otherwise nullifying the sperm of any previous male suitors, thereby ensuring that his sperm will lead to reproductive success. To further enhance his chances, males will often guard the female, hovering nearby, or some damselflies hold onto the female while she deposits her eggs.)

One night while searching for caterpillars in the yard, I stumbled upon a mating ritual that I will never forget. Leopard slugs are large critters (up to 7 inches) that many gardeners despise because of their tendency to feed on favorite plants — and the fact that they produce copious quantities of slime for protection and locomotion. The slime also communicates readiness to mate. Leopard slugs are hermaphrodites, which means they possess both male and female reproductive organs. They can self-fertilize, but what’s the fun in that?

When the time is right, a slug leaves a chemical trail in its slime signaling its readiness. Another slug may pick up that trail, following the first. There is then a long bout of slug foreplay involving circling one another, nibbling and sliming sweet nothings. They soon climb a nearby vertical surface and entwine their bodies, dropping down on a mucus string. They slowly rotate on their romance rope and extend their bright blue

The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 33
Clockwise from top left: Wild Turkey gobblers strutting their stuff for females nearby; Leopard Slugs mating as they hang from a slime rope; Virginia possums mating.

male organs out the right side of their heads (from a hole called a gonopore, just behind the tentacles). The blue organs entwine and change shape into a translucent cerulean chandelier over the next hour or so, exchanging sperm.

I found myself transfixed by this strange behavior, and sat out there watching it for over an hour (I know what you’re thinking…). When they finished, they slowly untangled, one crawling off on the tree trunk, the other slowly climbing the mucus love twine, consuming it as it went. Both presumably wandered off to lay a couple of hundred gelatinous eggs.

I don’t know about them, but I was exhausted after all that. And to show you I am not the only one that thinks this is

amazing, the famed British naturalist, author and filmmaker, Sir David Attenborough, introduced a scene of slug coupling in his BBC documentary Life in the Undergrowth by saying, “The mating of the leopard slug is one of the most sensuous film sequences you’ll ever see in your life.” Lastly, I’ll share an observation on the love life of the lowly Virginia Opossum. I have been “fortunate” enough to run across mating possums three times in my woods wanderings over the years. Each time I noticed a behavior that I had read about and to this day still don’t quite understand — but more about that in a second.

Female opossums generally raise two litters per year, with the breeding season running from January through early summer. Males are known to make a peculiar clicking noise as they amble in pursuit of females. Females are only receptive for a short period of time and will hiss, click their teeth and threaten to bite if not ready. When at last a male opossum does find a receptive female, he bites the fur on her neck and climbs on her back. He then grasps her hind legs with his hind feet and they both roll over on their right sides to copulate. This is the behavior I have witnessed all three times I have seen it: the “right side roll.” Studies have shown that if for some reason the mating pair remains upright or falls over to the left, mating is less likely to be successful.

So, this Valentine’s Day, take comfort in the fact that a rose, a heart-shaped box of candy or a romantic card seem a lot simpler than what may be required out in nature.

Leopard slugs are hermaphrodites, which means they possess both male and female reproductive organs. They can self-fertilize, but what’s the fun in that?

Small-Town Sorcerers

When magic took over Main Street

“None of this is going to be in your story, right?” presses a woman who earlier in the evening slipped free from a straitjacket.

For the second time in 24 hours, a magician is swearing me to secrecy.

In addition to escapes, the woman, who calls herself SarahElla Phant, specializes in mnemonics (feats of memory). Her eyes flashing, she’s referring to a ribald story being shared by Joel Givens, a sleight-of-hand virtuoso who’s shared the stage with the likes of Metallica and ZZ Top. Chortling along with Givens is Alain Nu, a mentalist who just bent a spoon.

As the clock ticks close to the witching hour, we’re packed into a tight room at First Street Tavern in Clayton. I had first vowed to keep this circle’s secrets the previous afternoon, listening with open-jawed astonishment as sorcerers revealed to peers how they teleport cards and read minds. The sessions were part of the first-ever MAGiCon, a three-day event that aims to make

Clayton the center of the magic cosmos.

Harry Houdini, Carter the Great and David Copperfield sawed assistants in half and made elephants disappear on grand stages in New York City, London and Las Vegas. But here, 20 miles southeast of Raleigh, “the strip” is just a few modest blocks long, sprinkled with bars, restaurants and perky public art.

Ah, but the deck is stacked. Among Clayton’s 25,000 residents are three ambitious professional magicians, all of whom perform far and wide. There’s the aforementioned Givens, who was born here, plus Phant and Dan Harlan, a conjuring couple.

The ponytailed, frequently chuckling Harlan is a hero to modern Merlins, having created hundreds of tricks. He comes off like a high school’s most popular teacher: personable and patient with an undercurrent of knowing more than you do.

In the fall of 2020, Harlan was living in Ohio, Zooming up a storm for locked-down audiences desperate for diversion. Phant was doing the same from her home in Clayton. When their

The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 35
SarahElla Phant in a straitjacket.

video streams crossed, they fell under each other’s spell. Soon they were collaborating long-distance, a creative mind meld that within a few months brought Harlan to North Carolina. “And I never left,” he laughs.

The pair soon fell in with another wizard. On a drizzly January night in 2021, Harlan was in the dog food aisle at Lowes Foods when he spotted a familiar face. “Joel Givens?” he queried. “What are you doing here?”

“I live here,” Givens replied. “What’s your excuse?”

Trucker cap-sporting Givens is magic’s bad boy, as quick with a drawly quip as he is with sleight of hand. Harlan and Phant shared their vision of eventually establishing a Clayton-based magic shop, museum and performance space. Givens was on a similar wavelength, having long wanted to contribute something unconventional to the culture of Clayton.

The trio combined powers to create MAGiCon, summoning professionals and amateurs alike to the three-day happening that Phant hoped would “bring the magic community together to learn and share — and just enjoy all the characters.”

“Magicians tell you we’re going to lie and deceive you — and then we do it,” says David Darmody, studying an apparatus that

will allow him to plunge a needle into his arm, producing what looks like real blood but not an iota of actual pain.

“That,” he concludes, “makes us the most honest profession.”

Festooned in cascading dark hair, the grocery store supervisor by day now huddles with MAGiCon attendees in the former elementary school that is now The Clayton Center. Riffling cards and toying with new tricks, they talk shop between seminars, including their strikingly similar backgrounds.

As a kid, Darmody stuttered to the point that he “just quit talking,” he explains. “My parents consulted professionals, who suggested sports or music. My dad thought of magic.” Practicing his card skills at every break during school inevitably piqued the curiosity of the other kids, who’d sidle over and ask for a show. “Magic gave me confidence,” he says, “that I have something to share with other people.”

Mustachioed Wayne Haarhaus, another magician, grew up “shy and awkward with an authoritarian father.” He “stumbled” into magic and now, decades later, presides over magic workshops for kids. He calls himself and his comrades “curious, theatrical and a little… out of sync.” But here, trading secrets, each seems as snug as a rabbit nestled in a top hat.

Scenes from MAGiCon 2022, including performances by Dan Harlan (bottom left) and Alain Nu (bottom right).

Suddenly, a stranger who heretofore has kept to himself enters the conversation. “What we do is a gift to people,” he intones. “We remind them that perception is changeable. That how we view the world isn’t necessarily the way it is. That a different reality is always possible.”

This is John Midgley, the incoming president of The Society of American Magicians, which bills itself as “the world’s oldest and most prestigious magic organization” (and which the Great Houdini himself once led).

The talk turns to industry issues from post-pandemic live performances to internet “debunkers” exposing stagecraft secrets — as well as a little gossip. Soon, it’s back to class. In spaces where farm kids used to learn arithmetic, these one-time misfits turned masters of the mysterious eagerly hone the craft — around 60 in all during the course of MAGiCon.

In one seminar, Harlan divulges the details of teleporting a sock. Another, on card tricks, features Givens’ mind-boggling moves and down-home banter. And Nu, the spoon-bending mentalist who’s advertised as “The Man Who Knows,” explains how he anticipates, jots down and seals into envelopes the thoughts of strangers — before he even meets them.

But the most revealing performance of the conference is left to the public show that crowns this otherworldly weekend.

As night falls on MAGiCon’s final day, about 300 locals join for the conference’s public finale at the Clayton Center’s auditorium. Harlan’s latest trick — in which a series of ropes shrink, grow and mystifyingly merge — prompts laughs and gasps.

Then the stage lights unexpectedly dim. Harlan straps Phant into a straitjacket. A prerecorded track explains what led Phant to this place: Last year, on a rainy night, she suffered a mental break that left her wandering the streets. It had been brought on by powerful medication for a rare ailment. At a psychiatric hospital, she returned to her full faculties. Now, she’s transforming that harrowing moment into a calling card.

Onstage, as an eerie electropop tune called “Mad Hatter” pings along, Phant writhes and wriggles in a macabre dance.

Her shoulders roll and dip until they look on the verge of dislocating. She grimaces and twists. Wait — is she stuck? At last, one arm flies loose. The contortions continue until the straitjacket slips off, a harmless husk, and she steps out of it.

The audience whoops, and later, she tells me it’s them she thinks of during the performance. “I hope next time people feel trapped, they’ll remember me in that straitjacket,” Phant says. “Some situations seem impossible. But with patience and work, we can get free. You have to be calm and do the dance.” This magic trick, she says, is an opportunity to “create empathy.”

During the raucous afterparty at the tavern, Midgely, surrounded by off-the-cuff magic and mirth, remains riveted by the escape. Unlike the other performances, it wasn’t about deception. It was full, nothing-up-my-sleeve disclosure. And that made it perhaps the most magical moment of all.

“Wasn’t that great?” Midgely marvels. “To be so personal. To take it all to a whole different level. It was truly amazing.”

The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 37

Phil Ford arrived early for our noon appointment, as if still heeding the advice to never be late from former University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill basketball coach Dean Smith.

Since hearing those words more than 45 years ago, Ford has made a point to be punctual. He sets his watch 10 minutes ahead to avoid being tardy for engagements of any kind.

During his days at Carolina, he lis-


Rocky Mount native Phil Ford was a powerhouse at UNC in the 1970s, and his legacy lives on

tened to all his venerable coach’s instructions, applied his God-given talents and “arrived early” in the sphere of college basketball stardom. “I always wanted to go to Carolina,” he says. Ford excelled as a freshman and emerged into a model point guard in 1975.

At 6 feet 2 inches and 175 pounds, he could score on darting drives to the rim, swish pull-up jumpers and make spinning 360-degree layups. A deft ball handler, Ford adroitly guided talented

Tar Heel teams, dishing out assists as well as scoring and playing dogged defense.

“Phil was sensational with the ball, smart, dedicated and great in the clutch… almost impossible to stop oneon-one,” Smith wrote in A Coach’s Life: My 40 Years in College Basketball, a 2002 memoir he wrote with Sally Jenkins and John Kilgo.

“He could do it all… but his intelligence was even more impressive than his physical skills. By his junior year he be-


came so much in sync that often when I would signal a play from the bench, Phil would have already called it. I learned to just sit and let Phil handle it. Phil personified Carolina basketball as much as any player ever,” Smith noted. Ford helped UNC win three Atlantic Coast Conference regular season titles, two league tournaments and advance to the 1977 National Championship game. Along the way he accumulated individual honors, including threetime All-America, twice consensus first team; three-time All-ACC and one-time ACC Player of the Year; 1978 National Player of the Year; and 1976 Olympic Gold medal on the U.S. team coached by Smith.

That success didn’t affect his humility. Ford never flaunted his awards and is still self-effacing, amiable and as approachable as when he was playing.

“He’s the most humble person I’ve ever run across,’’ says former teammate Dave Hanners. “In his presence he makes you feel like you are special.”

There was a time — growing up in Rocky Mount — that Ford couldn’t envision any of this happening at UNC. Not until Charlie Scott became the first African American to play for the Tar Heels did his hope of attending Carolina heighten. He “wanted to be the next Charlie Scott,” Ford says. (Later, no doubt, many young basketball players wanted to be the “next Phil Ford.”)

“When I met Coach Smith, that did it,” says Ford, who was ranked as a top point guard prospect and widely recruited. “I trusted him, knew I would get better, and have a friend for life.”

Ford’s parents were teachers, and he remembers his mother being especially impressed with Smith, thinking the “Dean of the College” was recruiting her son, Ford says. She was obviously delighted about his decision to sign with Carolina. So is Ford, who describes his college experience as good academically, athletically and socially.

As a precocious freshman, he led Carolina to the 1975 ACC Tournament title with a win over rival North Carolina

State University in the finals and won the MVP trophy. It was the start of his auspicious career, with more titles and accolades to come.

Ford seemed impervious to pressure, exuded a youthful joy on the court and inspired teammates with his spirited style and skill. He averaged between 16.4 and 20.8 points from his freshman to senior season and set the all-time UNC record for scoring (2,290 points) and assists (753) — records later broken.

“His game was quickness and speed,” says John Kuester, his former teammate and roommate. “He could get into the teeth of a defense and score in uncharacteristic ways. He always wanted to win and believed he would win.”

Ford was mentally tough and resilient. In one game he got a tooth knocked out, caught it in his hand, dribbled down court, gave it to a trainer and kept playing. He didn’t have time for medical attention.

The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 39
I il h e t o courtesy News & Observer (FORD)
Phil Ford playing in the 1970s at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In the top photo, he signals for the “four corners” offense.

He vexed opponents in different ways at different speeds, by pushing the pace or orchestrating the famed Four Corners offensive strategy, which was designed to preserve leads in the era before the shot clock.

That delay game frustrated opposing coaches and tantalized players who guarded him. Foul him and he would make free throws. While surrounded by gifted teammates, Ford was the engine that made the offense run.

“In the Four Corners I would fold my arms and cross my legs, because the game was over,” Smith wrote.

As good as Ford’s life was at Carolina, there were disappointments, none worse than the close loss to Marquette in the 1977 championship game. Ford, playing with an elbow injury, says that defeat is still a recurring nightmare more than four decades later.

But there was more basketball to play. The overall No. 2 NBA draft pick, Ford had three productive seasons with the Kansas City Kings. Then adversity struck. He suffered a serious eye injury, from which he never fully recovered, and his performance declined over the next several years.

To further complete matters, Ford succumbed to alcoholism. While confronting that demon, he served as an assistant at Carolina from 1988 to 2000 and for several NBA teams.

During his personal battle, he consulted Coach Smith, who he knew as a “spiritual man.” He received counseling. He attended AA meetings. But Ford says it wasn’t until he turned his life back to God that he was rescued from the grip of alcohol.

“My faith is the most important thing in my life,” he says. “That has helped me overcome demons.”

Ford has been sober for several years and references a go-to Bible verse that

helps him daily, Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. Submit your ways to him and he will make your paths straight.”

Since his recovery, he has shared his faith and story at Fellowship of Christian Athletes banquets and for other organizations. He serves on rehabilitation boards. In 2013, he co-authored a children’s book — The Kid Who Couldn’t Dunk — with veteran writer Art Chansky. Once upon a time, Ford was that kid, until he finally “squeezed” the ball over the rim once at a high school pep rally.

“Phil has the ability to touch a lot of people,’’ Kuester says.

Now 66, Ford attends Carolina basketball practices and games in the Dean Dome, where his honored No. 12 jersey hangs. He applauds the coaching and leadership of Hubert Davis.

“I’m as proud of last year’s [NCAA runner-up] team as any Carolina team,” Ford said. “I don’t know if a lot of coaches could have held that team together.” He figures “12-13 teams” could win the title this year” — including his Tar Heels.

Though never trying to draw attention to himself, yet still admired and much acclaimed, Ford’s name and fame continue to spread 45 years after playing his last game at Carolina. Not surprisingly, his picture appears on the T-shirts of “Iconic Heroes,” a legacy brand company honoring the greatest athletes in the state’s history.

It’s well deserved.

Phil Ford at the Dean E. Smith Student Activities Center.
“He’s the most humble person I’ve ever run across. In his presence he makes you feel like you are special.”
— Dave Hanners

Just Working

Antoine Williams forged his own path to bring his art to light

Antoine Williams was in his early 20s when he made an important decision: If he wanted his work to be seen, he’d have to take matters into his own hands. He’d earned a Fine Arts degree from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in 2003 and was busy making multimedia work including drawings, paintings and collages that responded to the world around him: about politics, about the war on terror, about “how ridiculous all

of it was.” But to Williams, the traditional route seemed impenetrable. Not only to him, but to the other young artists he knew, many of them also young, politically active Black men without a network in the established world of art. “People were literally afraid of us. We were walking into galleries, and I remember one gallery. I asked: Can we do an art show? And they were like: We don’t have metal detectors,” Williams says. His friends, including multimedia artists and illustrators Marcus Kiser,

John Hairston Jr. and Wolly Vinyl, had another hurdle, too. Traditional art venues weren’t the obvious places for the audiences they sought. They wanted to connect with people who were also influenced by art, comics, music and culture. They were eager for dialogue and weren’t sure they’d find it in a gallery. “A museum can be a scary place if you’ve never been there,” Williams says.

A first-generation college student from “rural, working-class, conservative” Red Springs, North Carolina,

courtesy of Antoine Williams
The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 41
Work from the series There Will Be No Miracles Here; printed material and acrylic on wood.

Williams never knew an artist or much about art growing up — but his imagination was allowed to flourish. “It was cool to be a creative kid growing up in a place where you could run outside and go in the woods and play,” Williams says. “I was always daydreaming, and I was always either drawing or making stuff.”

He tapped into that wellspring when he co-founded the art collective God City in 2005 with Kiser, Hairston, Vinyl and a few other artists. The group rented industrial spaces, put together popup shows and got the word out with flyers. “We were really into hip-hop, politics and comic books,” says Williams. “We would do exhibitions… in any place that would take a bunch of young Black dudes.” Over a seven-year run, the group forged collaborations with poets, filmmakers, dancers and DJs. “It was all these groups of Black and brown people making art outside the major institutions,” says Williams. “It became a community in Charlotte… It was this really beautiful time.”

The establishment took notice. Kimberly Thomas, a curator at the Mint Museum, became a God City regular. In 2008, she included work by Williams

and Hairston — as well as art from nationally recognized Black artists from North Carolina like Juan Logan and the late Romare Bearden — in a 2008 exhibition about contemporary portrayals of Black masculinity called Scene in America. The exhibit included Williams’ I Wanna Kill Sam, a graphite and acrylic representation of a Black man shouting before a backdrop that could be part of an American flag. It’s about “the frustration of being caught within the system, the system that you don’t fully understand, but that you do know is not working,” says Williams.

Since then, Williams has not struggled to get his art seen. Addressing cultural identity, signifiers of class, race and power, and the stories and myths society tells about them, his work incorporates drawing, painting and collage. Most recently, Williams says, he is focused on “Black folklore and other narratives” and is making art that “relates to Black people and movement to spaces of liberation.” The works shown on these pages incorporate these themes and will be exhibited at the Turner Carroll Gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico, later this year. Also in 2023,

Williams will have four murals installed in Washington, D.C., as a recipient of the National Academy of Design’s Abbey Mural Prize.

A Moment of Rest While Convincing Monsters That I Am Human, a drawn mural created in 2020 for a giant wall at the entrance to the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art (SECCA) in Winston-Salem, was made following the nationwide uprisings over the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, an effort to depict both the injustice and the exhaustion of that fight. “Those marches were for the bare minimum, just so that the justice system would work,” Williams says. “Not that it would do anything extraordinary — just work.” The mural depicts a man hunched over beneath a mountain of clothes, which Williams says indicates “how absurd it is, but also how exhausting it is.” Hoodies, jeans and sneakers refer to the distorted, negative stigma society puts on these signifiers of young Black men; the enormous pile indicates how they “constantly have to deal with the piling on of these perceptions.” The burdened figure persists, but pauses, “needing to take a break, and reclaim

courtesy of Antoine Williams Other Suns, ink on vellum 2020

humanity,” says Williams.

Williams’ work has been exhibited at the North Carolina Museum of Art, Greensboro’s Weatherspoon Art Museum and at Raleigh’s Contemporary Art Museum (CAM). He has had prestigious residencies and fellowships at Duke University and the McColl Center. Most recently, he was an artist-in-residence at the Joan Mitchell Center in New Orleans, where he created sculptural work inspired by a quote from the author Octavia Butler: “There’s Nothing New / Under the Sun / But There Are New Suns.” Last July, Williams took a tenure-track job teaching art at the University of Florida

Having his work at SECCA and around the country was just the kind of broader visibility Williams sought through God City and an MFA at UNC-Chapel Hill in 2014. But he resists the idea that he’s now part of any kind of art establishment. “I just always feel like an outsider,” he says. “I’m still very much the little kid running through the woods in Red Springs, hanging out at the car wash or playing basketball, hanging out with my parents or cousins. I always sort of feel that’s who I am. But I understand that I am in a different place as far as my career.”

Still, Williams says, “I don’t feel I’ve achieved success. I’m just working.”

The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 43
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Through research by the City of Raleigh Museum, a friendship — with purpose — is born

Four years ago, the City of Raleigh Museum received a fund from the Dix Park Conservancy to create an exhibit on the park’s history. The museum’s director, Ernest Dollar, focused initially on Dorothea Dix Hospital: the experiences of the psychiatric patients and the devoted people who worked there.

But before Dix was a hospital, its

sweeping fields made up Spring Hill Plantation. Its soil holds the legacy of wheat, flax, potatoes, peas and oats — and the sweat of the enslaved laborers who bent over the rows and tilled the land some two and a half centuries earlier. The plantation belonged to Theophilus Hunter, one of Raleigh’s founding fathers, a leader in the American Revolution and prolific owner of both land and enslaved people.

As Dollar dug into the history for his museum’s exhibit, he felt compelled to include the stories of all of the people who had lived on that land. Searching for enslaved workers who may have taken the surname “Hunter” upon emancipation, Dollar combed through the 1870 Census, the first after abolition, and discovered a man named John Hunter, aged 110. According to his obituary,

Yvonne Sanders, left, and Belle Long.

“Uncle John,” as he was known, witnessed America’s birthday in 1776, helped cut down trees to build the city of Raleigh, fought in the War of 1812 and watched the arrival of the Union Soldiers with the freedom they brought. As Dollar began piecing together John Hunter’s lineage, he says, “the trail kept growing, and I began to find more incredible people in John’s family tree: modern jazz dance pioneers, Tuskegee airmen, politicians and Wall Street innovators. It was truly an American story.”

When the trail arrived at living relatives in New York City, Dollar invited the descendants down to Raleigh to visit the history that their family had helped to create. Twenty-eight of them arrived, many of whom had never met or had long ago lost track of one another. (The City of Raleigh created a short documentary about the project, which you can find on its YouTube channel.)

After John Hunter’s story circulated, Dollar found others in Raleigh who could tie their families back to Spring Hill Plantation. One of them was Yvonne Sanders, who was 16 years old when the Wake County public schools were integrated and has lived in Raleigh all her life. In her retirement, she has found a passion for history, family lineages and reconnection. Her great-great grandfather, Ned Hunter, was enslaved at Spring Hill Plantation around the same time as John Hunter.

When she visits Dix Park, Sanders doesn’t just see a park or playground, she says: “It’s the land where the spirits of many Hunter ancestors still exist.” It conjures memories of her father, who farmed with a mule and plow, just like so many generations of Hunter sharecroppers before him. She thinks of Ned and Maria Hunter, of their six children, and of all the children who have followed.

“I’m extremely committed to tracing our family’s history with as much detail as I can, so we can leave this information for our generations to come,” says Sanders.

Like Dollar, Sanders has found herself enraptured with the seemingly endless trail of lineages from Spring Hill Plantation and the remarkable stories of the people who have come from Dix Park’s land. Along with a team of family members, she is taking part in an effort to track the descendants of each of Ned and Maria Hunter’s six children, the youngest of which is her greatgrandfather, Calvin Hunter. The research project has yielded a massive family tree of close to 1,000 descendants reconnected thus far.

“We haven’t even gotten halfway yet,” says Sanders, who is active in the family’s Facebook group and newsletter. It is her family’s hope that sharing their story will inspire other families to begin re-

searching their own. “Though the roads have been long and the obstacles many, each of our Hunter descendants continues to remain resilient,” she says.

Working in genealogy can be an isolating hobby, with hours spent over spreadsheets, searching for old obituaries and chasing leads online. But thanks to Dollar, Sanders found a friend. During Dollar’s development of the exhibit From Plantation to Park: The Story of Dix Hill, he learned that Belle Long, whom he had known through the Wake County Historical Society, was a direct descendant of Theophilus Hunter.

Like Sanders, Long grew up in Raleigh and has resettled here. As a former director of the Joel Lane Museum House, Long is deeply connected to the history of Raleigh. When working as the webmaster for the Wake County Historical Society board seven years ago, she received an email with an inquiry about the possible relocation of Theophilus Hunter’s grave. The grave currently sits behind the original Spring Hill House, which is now the NC Japan Center, and it is one of the oldest marked graves in Wake County. Long, who knew she was somehow related to Theophilus, became

The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 45
Ernest Dollar of the City of Raleigh Museum.
“It was our mutual passion for family history and the pursuit of social justice that initially connected us and binds us together.”
— Belle Long

interested in the exact connection and started emailing cousins. It turns out she is descended directly from him, her eighth great-grandfather. “Not only did I look into Theophilus Hunter, but also the enslaved people who lived there. I began to produce a giant spreadsheet with everything I could find on these people and what happened to them,” says Long. The initiative snowballed from there.

In June 2021, Dollar introduced Long to Sanders. The two emailed that whole summer and are now regularly in touch, texting and meeting for coffee. “We have become research partners and friends,” says Sanders. “This kind of research is independent, but it’s great to have someone like Belle to partner with.”

They have been able to help each

other in their pursuits: Long discovered Theophilus Hunter’s 1798 will in the public record, which she shared with Ned Hunter’s descendants. Theophilus Hunter left 60 enslaved people to various family members. Knowing Ned Hunter’s name has been a vital clue for Sanders and her relatives as they trace their lineages. “It was our mutual passion for family history and the pursuit of social justice that initially connected us and binds us together,” says Long. It is a complicated friendship: the truth remains that one of their ancestors enslaved the other one’s ancestors.

“I have mixed emotions,” says Long, “because I regret what my ancestors did to Yvonne’s ancestors. But it happened. And I can’t change that. All I can do is look to the future and try to make con-

nections.” It’s a skill she has acquired, and it is what she loves: helping people find their ancestors and discover where they came from. “It gives anybody a sense of who they are,” says Long, “if you understand the past, perhaps we as a society won’t make the same mistakes in the future. These stories are so important. My friendship with Yvonne is one way to build a connection on a micro level.” Sanders and Long have served together on Dix Park’s Legacy Committee, which seeks to honor the history of the land and its human history.

Susan Garrity, chair of the Legacy Committee, says that while many people know of the park as the site of Dorothea Dix Hospital, many are unaware that the Spring Hill Plantation preceded the hos-

State Archives of North Carolina (SPRING HILL DRAWING)
Clockwise from top left: Ernest Dollar, Belle Long and Yvonne Sanders look at research together; a closer look at a deed associated with Dix Park; Dollar studies a historic map of Dix Park; a 1922 drawing of Spring Hill, the home of Theophilus Hunter.

pital. “The Legacy Committee is engaged in discovering, honoring and memorializing these human histories,” she says. “Remembering and learning from the past was a key criterion behind the city’s decision to join the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience.”

As a registered Site of Conscience, Dix Park is considered an interpreted place of memory. “Legacy Committee members like Yvonne and Belle are actively engaged in connecting the past to the present. The City’s recent undertaking of a Cultural Interpretive Plan for the site emphasizes its commitment to honoring the human legacies of the land by telling their complete stories,” Garrity says. For Dollar, it’s been a highlight of his career: “Rarely does a museum, or a historian, stumble into a discovery that is as impactful or meaningful as our work with Dix Park.”

Sanders credits two cousins for her involvement with the Legacy Committee and her newfound passion for genealogy: Demetrius and Mario Hunter. Demetrius Hunter was first on the Sites of Conscience Committee and was tasked with gathering family members to help come up with a plan for a proper memorialization of the family at Dix Park. Mario looped in the cousin he knew had both the time and knowledge to carry the initiative forward: Yvonne Sanders.

In her genealogical work, Sanders found that several of the descendants of Ned and Maria Hunter went on to work at Dorothea Dix Hospital, likely with no notion that they were walking the same ground their ancestors had plowed.

The land has gone from a hunting and gathering ground for Native Americans, to a settlement by colonists, to a thriving plantation, a pioneering psychiatric hospital and soon a 308-acre city park for everyone. Dix Park is a gem for the city of Raleigh in part because of what it promises, but perhaps even more so for the story it tells: one of abundance, suffering, connection and working toward redemption.

The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 47
Descendents of Ned and Maria Hunter visit the former Spring Hill House. Bottom photo, from left to right: Cheryl Hunter, Leon Hunter (seated), Bolithia Etheridge, Kelly Dunn, Gail Dunn (seated), Hope Fryar, Betty Baker, Peggy Hunter (seated), James Hunter, Yvonne Sanders (on ladder), Roger Hunter, Robert Hunter, Shirley Hunter (seated), Pamela Jackson, Donald Gatling (seated), Sharon Gatling.

Where Does the Light Go?

Reflections on a beloved friend’s passing — and growing older

According to the late Irish bard and spiritual thinker John O’Donohue, medieval mystics loved to pose this beguiling question: Where does the light go when the candle is blown out?

I couldn’t help but think of this conundrum one recent Saturday morning as I sat in a pew of the First Presbyterian Church in downtown Atlanta, having taken a red-eye flight from Los Angeles, where I was visiting my daughter, in order to attend a dear friend’s funeral service.

Celetta Randolph Jones — Randy, as she was affectionately known by hundreds, if not thousands of people — was one of my oldest and closest friends. She walked into my life in 1977 at The Atlanta Journal and Constitution Magazine two days after I arrived at what we used to call the “oldest Sunday magazine in the nation.” Editor Andy Sparks believed we needed to meet because we were both single and students of American history, and Randy knew the city like the back of her elegant hand.

I’d just turned 24, a wide-eyed bumpkin from North Carolina. Randy was

almost 30, the sophisticated media officer of The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation. I think perhaps Sparks believed sparks might fly between us, which they did. Just not the kind he envisioned.

Instead, we discovered instead a friendship for the ages. During my nearly seven years in Atlanta, Randy became my frequent dinner companion, during which no subject was out of bounds — God, politics, my literary ambitions and her string of colorful boyfriends who could never keep up with her.

By the time my career carried me off


to New England, Randy had started her own public relations firm and was quickly becoming a megastar representing the likes of Coca-Cola, British Airways and dozens of other A-list regional and international clients.

Despite the distance, our friendship only deepened and grew. When my daughter, Maggie, was born in 1989, Randy, who never married, was delighted to become her godmother. She came to New England and North Carolina many times for holidays and family occasions, and I never failed to stay with her whenever I passed through Atlanta. She truly was one of the great lights — and gifts — of my life.

It was lovely to learn from the words of remembrance by her adoring brothers, Harry and Powell Jones, that “Aunt Randy” actually had a dozen or more godchildren upon whom she faithfully lavished attention and wisdom over the decades, even after a freakish illness destroyed her immune system and forced her to sell her thriving company.

She moved to a high-rise apartment in Atlanta’s Four Seasons Hotel, where she became a tireless fundraiser for Emory University Hospital, The Woodruff Arts Center, her church and many other charities. According to Harry, everyone in the building, from the hotel doorman to her neighbor, Charles Barkley, considered Randy their best friend. Her generosity to friends and strangers alike knew no bounds.

I saw Randy a month or so before she passed away. She was frail but mentally vibrant and as connected to people as ever, wanting to hear about my latest book project and her goddaughter’s life in L.A. We sat together for almost two hours. When I got up to go and bent to

kiss her cheek, she remarked, with her wonderful, sultry, deep Georgia accent, “We have traveled pretty far together, haven’t we?”

“And we’re not done,” I replied. “You helped light the way.”

She patted my hand. “Don’t worry. That light will never go out.”

I think she knew we would never see each other again in this world. But she had no doubt whatsoever about the next.

So where does the light go when the flame is blown out? I’ll take my friend Randy at her word: that the light will never go out.

The passing of one you love, however, inevitably calls up thoughts of your own mortality.

In November, with not a lot of fanfare, I reached my Biblically proscribed threescore years and ten, a phrase popularized by Psalm 90, which was read at Randy’s service. Seventy was considered a ripe old life in ancient times. (Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures; / yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away.)

Fortunately, I have two best buddies — Patrick and Joe — who are also reaching 70 around the same time I am: Joe in January and Patrick in March. At our regular luncheons of the Stuffed Potato Philosophy & Adventure Club, as we like to call ourselves, we often talk about how pleased we are to be “older” dudes who are still working at jobs we love and appreciating life more than ever.

True, body parts don’t work as fluidly as they once did, but it’s amazing what we never worry about any more, including death, taxes, career ups and downs, and the inevitability of growing older.

This spring, Patrick and I plan to celebrate 58 years of playing golf together in America and Britain by setting off for a final roving match across Ireland, Scotland and England for perpetual bragging rights. Our legs may grow weary, but, I assure you, not our spirits.

A recent study shows that we are not alone: the vast majority of older Americans are as happy — and busy — as they have ever been in American society.

As anti-ageism activist Ashton Applewhite recently pointed out in her outstanding TED Talk, older people tend to become more optimistic as they age, worry far less than younger folks, and really only have two things to be concerned about: that someday the people you love will die, and that parts of your body will eventually quit working. Fear of death doesn’t even make the list. Remaining open to new adventures and connected to people turns out to be a path for a long and meaningful life. Applewhite calls it the U-Curve of Happiness — that contentment dips around your 40s, but trends back upward through middle and older age.

Was it simply the hand of sweet synchronicity that I happened to hear to her inspiring TED Talk on the radio during the long drive home to North Carolina following Randy’s memorial service, or maybe something only a mystic could explain?

I’ll probably never know. But in the meantime, I’ll happily follow the flame wherever it leads next.

The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 49
True, body parts don’t work as fluidly as they once did, but it’s amazing what we never worry about any more, including death, taxes, career ups and downs, and the inevitability of growing older.
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Black Tidal Waves on the Frontline

Don’t they say things change when the tears fall? Don’t they say ain't no reconciliation enough salve for the wound when that cheek wets. She is fed up and pissed off. Seen the injustice and has had enough. You know what this means. There must be answers. There must be action. There must be reason given for mercy. It betta be strong as thunder, lightning and the look on a pastor’s face.

This here mad be centuries long. It is deep and bellows like ghosts singing field hollers. You know you owe when these tears fall. You know you wrong when these tears fall. You know how long they been resilient, been in spite of, been looking beyond the darkness? This clenched fist and red cheek. This clenched jaw and blood boiling. This here walking knell sounding an inescapable song.

The notes aren’t a sorrowful sheet music. No, they are a harrowing reminder that the chickens have come let the roosters know freedom is letting go of a belief that the dinner table is necessary for their survival. They can feed themselves.

These tears are a warning shot. They are a familiar necessary to the sky and a hell no to the ground waiting for our bones.

When these tear fall, there will be no other option than to prepare for all that comes after and know that you deserved it.

Dasan Ahanu is an award-winning poet, performance artist, cultural organizer and curator. He has performed across the country, appeared on national radio and TV, and published four books of poetry. He swings a mean pen and represents the SOUTH.

The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 51 Getty Images

Romantic letters from the North Carolina State Archives

with LOVE

Real love is passionate, messy and mundane. And while today’s love notes are most likely sent through email or text — those Xs and Os becoming 0s and 1s — those of decades ago were sent on paper, a medium at once both fragile and enduring.

Reading other people’s love letters may sound voyeuristic, but time works magic. Reading historic love letters doesn’t feel intrusive; it’s heart-expanding, spirit-affirming and delightful. “It’s a common ground to connect with those in the past,” says Lauren McCoy, digital archivist at the North Carolina State Archives.

Over the next few pages, you’ll find a sampling of love letters housed at our State Archives. These letters are a sampling of the more than 100 million individual items in the archives that were submitted voluntarily by North Carolina citizens. Together, they offer a snapshot of how they expressed love in words over the past 175 years or so. “The recipients of these letters found them to be so meaningful that they held onto them for years, even decades,” says outreach archivist Brooke Csuka at the State Archives.

Despite the occasional flowery language and old-fashioned writing, these sentiments are still buzzing with life. “Reading these letters, we see that people before us experienced the ups and downs of young love and the heartache and sacrifice of enduring relationships,” says McCoy.

As the years march on and the mediums change, the cadence of the human heart remains a throughline: we desire, we revel, we share, we squabble, we make up. We navigate life and love together, past and present. “These letters are preserved in perpetuity as evidence that true love lasts a lifetime — or maybe even longer,” says Csuka.

Bryan Regan (LETTERS)
The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 53


George Moses Horton, commissioned by Sion Hart Rogers for Mary Elizabeth Powell (1846)

George Moses Horton was a talented, mostly self-taught writer and the first Black man to publish a book in the South — an 1829 book of poetry called The Hope of Liberty. He was also an enslaved person who worked on the Horton family plantation in Chatham County. The proceeds from George Moses Horton’s book were meant to buy his freedom, and historians are unclear about why that never came to pass. But he found other ways to earn money with his words. On weekends, he was sent to peddle produce from the plantation around Chapel Hill, and while he was there, he sold acrostic poems to students on University of North Carolina campus.

It was on one of those visits that a student named Sion Hart Rogers, a Wake County native, commissioned this acrostic for his sweetheart, Mary Elizabeth V. Powell. Powell didn’t end up with Rogers, but she kept the poem until her death, no doubt savoring the memory and the poetry of the language. “Mistress of green in flowers arrayed / Alluring all my heart away / Replete with glory not to fade / Yet flourish in eternal May…”

Horton remained enslaved until the news of the Emancipation Proclamation hit North Carolina in 1865. He was posthumously inducted into the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame in 1996 and named the Historic Poet Laureate of Chatham County in 1997, among many other honors.

“Mistress of green in flowers arrayed Alluring all my heart away Replete with glory not to fade Yet flourish in eternal May…”
courtesy of the State Archives of North Carolina


Martha Poteet to Francis Poteet (1864)

This artifact from 1864 will resonate with modern lovers: It’s from a busy woman who prioritized connection, perhaps over chores or sleep. While Francis Poteet was off fighting in the Confederate Army, his wife Martha managed their farm and cared for their children. Her letters to him were tender, but also showed strain; she was overwhelmed by single-parent life. One letter laments, “I don’t see what on earth we will do — there ain’t corn to do the harvest, and the wheat don’t look like it will be any account.” Her notes always ended with a prayer for peace, so her husband could return, help on the farm and be with his children.

Nevertheless, affection and creativity prevailed. When a new daughter was born, Martha wrote a letter asking what to name the baby. Knowing her husband would be longing to connect with the daughter he could not yet meet, Martha cut a tracing of the baby’s hand and tucked it in with the letter. Francis kept the memento with him until the Civil War ended and he returned home.

| 55 The Art & Souul l of f Raleigh | 5


James C. Bland to Margaret Richardson (1943)

Long-distance love is notoriously tough, and this letter is a glimpse into the emotional work of maintaining a relationship across the miles. James C. Bland and his then-sweetheart Margaret Richardson were both from Wake County. He served in World War II at Camp Sutton and Camp Butner before being shipped overseas to England in February of 1944. He begins his letter with a sweet opening and good wishes, but then he addresses what must have been a sore spot between them: how often he writes. “Sweet heart, it seems as if I don't write you more often than I do, you seem to think I don't care. But really that is not it. For you know for yourself… that I really love you.” What did Margaret say that put James on the defensive? Whatever it was, they must have worked through it, as the two were married when he returned from England.


James C. Bland to Margaret Richardson (c. 1947)

There’s something about the vulnerability of a love poem that melts the reader a bit. In this poem, which James may have written in anticipation of his wedding, he calls on some classic rhetorical moves by using light imagery, nodding to a romantic memory and looking forward to the future with hope: “The raindrops are falling and I am thinking of you / When the rain used to fall and what we used to do. / I am hoping and praying that the war we will soon win, / and I will return home to a wife and a love that will never end.” The deep creases in the paper show it’s been read and reread, and the sign-off at the end softens any awkward rhymes into earnest affection.

courtesy of the State Archives of North Carolina


Charles M. Allen to Clara Allen (1945)

A picture can be worth a thousand words — and it’s definitely worth a few chilly fingers. Stationed in Europe with the Air Force during World War II, 2nd Lt. Charles M. Allen Jr. of Mount Gilead wrote a Valentine’s Day sentiment in the snow for his wife, Clara. Part of the fun here is imagining Charles asking a fellow airman to conspire with him on the project: scheming the note, scouting out fresh patches of snow and snapping pictures for each other to send home to their loves. Did another soldier happen upon the note in the snow and copy his creativity? Did his buddy take the picture too early, before Charles looked at the camera? We’ll never know. But it’s a safe bet that Clara didn’t care one bit: Charles (Charlie, to Clara) remembered her across the ocean on Valentine’s Day, with a side of ingenuity, to boot.

The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 57


John O’Donnell to Leah O’Donnell (1944)

Captain John O’Donnell served in the Army Transportation Corps during World War II. He regularly wrote letters to his wife, Leah, but this particular one is as much a love letter to North Carolina as it is to his “darling.” He misses cornbread, turnip greens and collards, “cooked like you cook them and flavored up like I like them.” And he clearly thinks his home state could teach the Brits a thing or two about food — “we are becoming more and more convinced that the British are right when they declare themselves the world’s worst cooks” — and about technology, too. The letter reads like conversation over dinner — a mundane part of a relationship that soldiers must miss when they are deployed. The most charming touch on this one is the correspondence numbering system at the bottom, implying they both reread the letters and want them to be in order. Who says practicality can’t also be sexy?

courtesy of the State Archives of North Carolina


Dave Beveridge to Jerry Mayo (1945)

David “Dave” Beveridge of Beaufort was stationed along the North Carolina and Virginia coasts as a member of the Coast Guard Reserve during World War II. He met his girlfriend (and later, wife) Geraldine “Jerry” Mayo of Mesic, at a public dance for military personnel on the North Carolina coast. He wrote often to Jerry — some of the most playful, joyful love letters in the entire archive. This Valentine’s Day word scramble, with clues like “rovesl squarrel” (lovers quarrel) and “missrope” (promises) is typical of their correspondence: a little silly, a little suggestive and very clearly created with love.


Jerry Mayo to Dave Beveridge (1945)

As Jerry and Dave’s relationship deepened, their correspondence became more prolific and creative — they knew how to keep things fresh! These envelopes with Morse Code messages (shown on page 53) must have made Dave smile when they arrived at his Coast Guard station. Jerry took a wartime necessity, coded letters, and flipped it into something sweet.


Jerry Mayo to Dave Beveridge (1945)

Most wartime correspondence from the homefront didn’t survive long enough to end up in the State Archives, so letters penned by women during this period are relatively rare. This one offers a snapshot of life in eastern North Carolina in 1945, as Jerry tells her fiancé about wedding preparations: talking with a seamstress in Wilson about her dress, recommending a pattern from Mademoiselle and thinking through the cake and the guest list. “I asked at the bakery about the wedding cake and they’ve promised to ‘out-do’ themselves for me!” The lipstick kisses — so evocative of World Wars I and II — read like a thesis statement: These kisses are our past… let’s talk about how to make it our future, too. The two married in 1945.

Bryan Regan (LETTERS)


Lee A. Patterson to Mary Sue O’Quinn (1951)

Lee Patterson grew up in Harnett County and enlisted in the Army on Oct. 17, 1950, at Fort Bragg. He served during the Korean War as a Private, First Class. We don’t have the letters he wrote to his girlfriend (and later, wife) Mary Sue O’Quinn, but we can imagine this photograph was tucked into one of them. Is the emphasis on “was”? On “you”? Was it hot in Korea, or is the wardrobe choice for her benefit? In any case, it’s charming to think he wanted to record his devotion on camera — as though the words on the page just weren’t enough.

courtesy of the State Archives of North Carolina


Pete Maravich to Vada Palma (1965)

NBA Hall of Famer “Pistol Pete” Maravich spent a few high school years at Broughton, where he met his girlfriend, Vada Palma, who later donated her papers to the archive. Maravich’s Valentine to her is exuberant, sexy and creative — maybe his teachers should have offered some extra credit? He playfully challenges, “Kiss here… Open card to see your rating on the kiss-o-meter!” and inside, an illustrated Kiss-O-Meter smokes, admonishing, “All right, hot-lips... you don’t have to overdo it!” with a big “I love you.” It’s fun to imagine teenage Pete, such a showman on the court, chuckling at his own wit. Unfortunately, Vada didn’t think it was witty, and she let him know at the Valentine’s Day Queen of Hearts Ball...


Pete Maravich to Vada Palma (1965)

After Vada was miffed by Pete’s Kiss-o-Meter Valentine, the two attended Broughton’s Queen of Hearts Ball together. She might have looked “good enough to eat,” but their faces say it all: The dance — or at least, the after-dance — didn’t go as he’d anticipated. In this note, likely delivered between classes at school, Pete laments the night a little, flatters Vada more than a little, and of course, talks basketball. “I hope you’re not mad at me about that Valentine’s card. It was only a joke… Well tomorrow night is the big night. If we can beat Fayetteville, we will be sitting great.” He signs off, “I’ll see you 7th period” — the same hint of longing we read in the World War II letters, though there are just hallways and hours between these two, not oceans and months. But the sentiment remains true: Isn’t time slippery in love? Especially when there’s making-up to do. This page, clockwise from to

time in love? when theres to do.

view of a 2017 exhibition at CAM, Precious Denita Lovell

The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 61
Ties That Bind; Prec
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Catherine Merriman has been nurturing exotic blooms for decades

Orchid the Orchid the


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Inside an airy greenhouse, fans hum and a cool mist falls. Here, hundreds of orchids sit waist-high on wood pallets; others are suspended from metal rods, clinging to hunks of bark. Some boast the flowers that draw in enthusiasts, in subtle shades of coral and rose, or brilliant gold or scarlet. Many are not in bloom, but their leaves offer just as much variety, some broad and full, others lean and fragile.

Decades before Trader Joe’s made orchids an impulse purchase, Catherine Merriman bought the exotic blooms from Hawaii and taught friends how to care for them so they could last for decades. “Today, people can go to the grocery store and pick up an orchid that might last one or two months. Then they just throw it away,” bemoans Merriman. “But they can outlive humans if cared for properly! Even if I have one that’s really sick, I put it in its own little area and make it better.”

Over the past three decades, Merriman has become one of the city’s leading sources, ambassadors and caretakers of orchids in Raleigh. She encountered her first ones as a child: Her grandfather was a great lover of roses, and her mother, a teacher at Wiley Elementary school, “had a great passion for orchids,” says Merriman. At the time, just about the only place to buy the exotic plants was the former Blooming Orchids in Morrisville. “I’d go there with my mother and became completely fascinated,” she says.

Through watching her mother, teaching herself and getting tips from other enthusiasts, Merriman developed a talent for nurturing hundreds of different types of orchids. This “orchid whisperer” knows just the amount of water, light and temperature that can make each thrive.

In the early 1990s Merriman began ordering orchids from Hawaii so she could choose from a wider variety than what was available locally. At the time, this was one of the few avenues for finding orchids. Since she had to

The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 65
Scenes inside the Riverwood Orchids Farm in Durham, where Catherine Merriman boards her clients’ orchids. Here, Merriman and others tend to hundreds of varieties of the plant.

buy them in bulk, she’d sell the extras to friends. As word spread, she started an official orchid business in 1992, Raleigh Orchids. In less than a year she had hundreds of orchids in her house. “I have been with Catherine since she opened her business,” says Liz Fentress, a longtime client. “I always send her orchids as gifts rather than cut flowers. They last longer and each is a living work of art.”

Soon after starting her business, Merriman was running out of space to display the flowers in her home. She leased commercial space on Dixie Trail and a greenhouse on Wake Forest Road. Merriman became a familiar face at UNC Rex Hospital and WakeMed, making personal deliveries of orchids to the sick. She’d even loan out her showstopper orchids as centerpieces for special events.

In addition to selling new plants, Merriman found herself boarding the fragile plants for clients in the months they weren’t in bloom, or when clients were out of town. And if a prized orchid started to yellow, she’d nurse it back to health. It’s not uncommon for her to find orphaned orchids on her doorstep. “It’s people who don’t have the patience, but still have a plant conscience,” she says. “I can’t even throw an orchid out even if it has just one leaf, because I know it doesn’t take much to get it to bloom again.”

Ann Smith has been an orchid devotee for more than three decades. “My husband, Wade, developed asthma and I was told that orchids were the best flower for him because they aren’t in soil,” she says. To always have fresh flowers at home, Smith keeps about a dozen plants on display and boards the plants that are not in bloom. She first worked with Blooming Orchids, and when they closed a few years ago, she called Merriman. “I said to Catherine, I’ve got 120 orchids and Blooming Orchids is closing in four days,” Smith remembers. “She took all of them. She’s just wonderful.”

These days, orchids can be cheaply grown overseas and imported, which has put many specialty growers in the


United States out of business. Six years ago, with real estate prices rising, Merriman closed her greenhouse on Wake Forest Road and moved her orchids to The Orchid Trail in Durham. There, she connected with Sara Gallis, who has a degree in horticulture and inherited her love of orchids from her parents, both expert gardeners. (Her father, Dr. Harry Gallis, is a member of the Triangle Orchid Society and has served as a judge for orchid shows throughout the Southeast.) When The Orchid Trail closed in 2021, Gallis and her father were already in the process of building a 7,200-square-foot greenhouse on

Cole Mill Road in Durham to create Riverwood Orchids Farm; it opened in May 2022. Now, Merriman boards her clients’ orchids there, alongside Gallis’ boarders and new orchids. “We care for the plants by cleaning, watering, fertilizing, staking, repotting and tending to pests or fungal issues,” says Gallis. “We contact our clients when they have orchids in bloom, and text them pictures so they can decide if it’s worth the trip to pick them up.”

Part of what Fentress and Smith appreciate about Merriman is the care she uses to treat each bloom as a unique case. “Their leaves will

The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 67
“There are people who can bring them back, but I prefer to have Catherine take care of mine. I often say they are Catherine’s orchids, but they just happen to live in my house.”
— Ann Smith
Merriman talks to Dr. Harry Gallis inside the Riverwood Orchids Farm greenhouse. Horticulturist and Riverwood Orchids Farm co-founder Sara Gallis (below) carts flowers through the greenhouse.

wilt badly if you don’t have the right airflow, and you have to keep after your roots — if you have dead roots you have to cut them,” Merriman says. She only waters with tepid, filtered water, targeted right at the roots with a turkey baster. Similarly, Gallis wants to debunk a common tip: “Please don’t water orchids with an ice cube! Would you want to bathe in ice water?”

These days, with her clientele aging, Merriman is winding down her business. But she’ll continue to be on hand for people who need advice on their orchids or have a plant that needs some TLC. “There are people who can bring them back, but I prefer to have Catherine take care of mine,” Smith says. “I often say they are Catherine’s orchids, but they just happen to live in my house.”

For both Merriman and Gallis, the endless variety of orchids is what turns the plants into a passion. “I love a green or white Lady Slipper. They are so small you can place them on top of a book,” she says. “And I love the white Phalaenopsis.” The Vanda orchid, with its clusters of three, five or seven vibrant purplish-blue blooms, is another at the top of Merriman’s list. Gallis particularly loves the Bulbophyllums. “They are very unique in flowering and each has a distinct fragrance,” she says. “Most are quite foul — some even smell like doggy doo or rotten flesh — but I like them anyway!”

“It makes me so happy to do this,” says Merriman. “Orchids just make people happy.”

The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 69


The anchor of this open-plan living room is an extra-long green couch that homeowner Mandi Leaston fell in love with: “It’s my favorite color!” She worked with Zandy Gammons to furnish the room, which includes a bold black-and-white rug paired with smaller-scale patterns and textured accent chairs and console tables.


A young family builds a modern and fun place to gather


The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 71

AAs you open the door to the home that Mandi and Chris Leaston share with their three daughters, the first thing you see is a giant dining table surrounded by comfy chairs. “I grew up with sit-down meals for the holidays, but Chris’ family was more into paper-plates-and-buffet-style celebrations,” Mandi says. For them, the open dining area bridged those two spirits: it’s inviting for everyday dining, but can get dressed up for special occasions. It also reflects the spirit of the home, which the couple wanted to be a gathering place for family, friends and neighbors. “Being creative with color and pattern is a joy, but our real dream for this space is that every inch is designed to be used and shared well,” says Mandi.

The couple bought the lot on Ridge Road in 2014 and spent a few years touring houses on the Parade of Homes to gather ideas. “We knew we wanted to be in this neighborhood,” says Mandi.

has that very creative left-brain vision.” “My biggest thing was I didn’t want any wasted spaces,” says Chris. “I wanted to make sure we really use all the rooms in the house.” The couple broke ground in

“We revised our blueprint probably 15 times.” Architect Tony Frazier of Frazier Home Design started their plans and they ultimately worked with Rex Bost of Bost Custom Homes on the final layout and build. “Tony really understood making the house work functionally, with no wasted space,” Mandi says, “and Rex

2019, but the project was slowed by the pandemic. They moved in in 2021.

Along the way, they enlisted designer Zandy Gammons of Miretta Interiors — who attended East Carolina University with Mandi — to help finish the space. “The fun thing about working with Mandi is that she knows what she likes and

“Being creative with color and pattern is a joy, but our real dream... is that every inch is designed to be used and shared well.” — Mandi Leaston


The living room (opposite page) opens to the kitchen and dining area. The fireplace surround is done in ArcusStone; so is the hood over the stove. “Bringing it to the ceiling matched the scale of the house, and pulled in that detail from the kitchen,” says Gammons. Mandi had the idea to use the stone on the kitchen wall. “I grew up in Pennsylvania with a lot of old stone farmhouses, so it reminded me of home — but also of visiting Italy where my family is from,” she says. The windows over the bar sink open to another eating area on the deck outside, with a bar under the window. “This way, they can pass food or drink through to whoever’s grilling,” says Gammons.

Off the kitchen is a butler’s pantry designed as both a prep area and mudroom, as it’s also the entrance from the garage. “We wanted a place to pack lunches and dump our stuff,” Mandi says. Downstairs, they used wallpaper to accent the wine storage.

The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 73


“The table is super long, with even more leaves for big parties,” Gammons says. Wallpaper defines the dining area and adds visual interest. Gammons put two chandeliers over the table, in contrast to a simple pendant over the living area: “We had to be intentional about the focal points.”


has cool ideas,” says Gammons. “She just loves design and everything about it, so she’s willing to try something different.”

The overall style idea was a sort of European modern. “Mandi liked the feel of white walls, but with some heritage and eclecticism,” Gammons says. Throughout, there’s a balance of more formal furnishings with playful touches, particularly through the use of wallpaper. “Mandi and I both love wallpaper — it adds a cool layer to so many spaces,” says Gammons. She worked with Mandi to stay on a budget, mixing higher-end pieces, like dramatic lighting in the dining area and kitchen, with more affordable pieces in secondary rooms. Mandi and Chris shopped around for furniture from local stores, The Green Chair Project and retailers as far as Asheville and Hickory. “We enjoyed looking for things we can use, and

we took all these mini trips together,” says Mandi. “They would find things here and there and set them aside — I love that the home feels gathered instead of staged,” says Gammons.

On the first floor, the dramatic staircase is the focal point. There’s an office to the right of the entryway, but otherwise it’s an open floor plan: dining area, living room and kitchen. The space also opens to a screened porch overlooking the back yard and pool. “They love to cook and entertain, so they wanted a big, multifunctional space,” says Gammons. “I love that you can go onto the porch and talk to people in the living room,” says Mandi.

Upstairs are two rooms for their daughters, twins Cali and Cai and their younger sister, Chloe — though right now, all three prefer to share one room. There is also the primary bedroom, a guest room and


The powder room layers grays in the wallpaper, tiles, cabinetry and vessel sink. Chris’ charcoal-covered office is a counterpoint to the rest of the first floor. The art is by Kadir Nelson; the portrait of the girl was on the cover of The New Yorker. “When Chris saw it, he said, that reminds me so much of our daughters,” Mandi says.

the laundry room. “I have a funky, eclectic style, but I reserved it for upstairs,” Mandi says. “Downstairs I tried to stay classy and timeless.” The grand staircase leads from the second floor down to the ground level, where a family room, game area and theater open to the back yard. Mandi was an only child, but Chris had two brothers “and the whole basketball team lived at my house,” he laughs. “So it was important to us to have a space where our kids and their friends want to hang out.”

And now that they’re settled, that’s just what the space has become: an easy place to host a sit-down meal with other couples, but one where their kids are excited to welcome their friends. “We have the space to play, laugh, run and rest well,” says Mandi. “A place where we can open our doors and our hearts to whoever comes our way.”

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The stairs are a sculptural detail that can be seen from outside through a wall full of windows as well. “It’s all open, and we get a ton of light from the windows,” says Mandi. “And you can look down from the top to the bottom.” Gammons used wallpaper to turn a little nook outside the primary bedroom into a moment of its own. “We didn’t want to just do shelving, we wanted something really pretty,” Gammons says. In one guest room, which was originally intended as a kids’ room, Mandi has collected the art over time. Each piece speaks to some aspect of their lives. “There’s a photo of a brownstone with a vintage car and a sign that says immigrants; it makes me think of my grandfather, who came through Ellis Island,” Mandi says. “There are also three funky looking African American teenage girls, who remind us of our own kids, and palm trees that remind me and Chris of a favorite vacation spot.”



The primary bedroom overlooks the backyard. “This is their retreat,” says Gammons, “so we toned it down with some deeper grays.” Here, she put in a cloud-patterned wallpaper behind the bed, and added jewel-tone benches and a deeper purple rug for a rich accent. “This room is so airy, so we felt like we could have this pop of color without it feeling too purple,” says Mandi. In the bathroom, Gammons went for a warm modern look with wood floors, an angular tub and a floating vanity. They purposely kept the room simple. “I was looking at a lot of French modern spaces and European homes, where everything is painted white and it’s not over-decorated,” Mandi says. “It’s just peaceful.”

The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 77


In one wing of the house, two bedrooms are joined by a Jackand-Jill bathroom — but their three daughters only use one of them. “Our girls just all want to be together,” says Mandi. The bedroom has butterfly wallpaper on the ceiling and is trimmed in aqua, just for fun. “I love my room because I have a chill-out space,” says Chloe. Cai especially loves the big bunk beds, and Cali loves the swing. That bathroom has lilac-hued cabinets, black penny tiles, a built-in vanity and animal print-inspired wallpaper. “We did a posh little bathroom for them,” says Mandi. Gammons had fun working on it: “We wanted a space as cute and sassy as their three girls!”



Just off the living room, sliding doors open onto an elevated deck surrounded by phantom screens. “It really makes the room feel like it’s inside the house,” says Gammons. Mandi and her dad put the faux boxwood on the walls; it overlooks the pool and backyard. Below, on the ground floor, is a room with a bar, arcade games, a basketball hoop, and an adjoining play area and theater room; it opens to a deck and pool. “Chris and the kids love the theater,” says Mandi. “He played at NC State so he loves watching the games.” “My favorite place in the house is the theater because I love to watch movies and eat popcorn,” agrees Cai. Cali loves the game room “because I like to play games and basketball with my dad and cousin.” And Chloe’s favorite room is the playroom “because I like to play Barbies in there.”

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Gabe Eng-Goetz on taking his artistic career to new heights


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Top: Gabe Eng-Goetz works on his iPad inside his apartment. Bottom: Collaborations with Counter Culture Coffee and Hopscotch.

In the Chinese Zodiac, we’ve just started The Year of the Rabbit: it runs from Jan. 22 to Feb. 9, 2024. According to this ancient system, the rabbit symbolizes skill, patience, gentleness and speed. And in Durham, the hare became the sidekick of a child in the logo for Runaway, a brand that encouraged an escape from convention.

Founded by artist Gabe Eng-Goetz in 2014, Runaway was a graphic design studio, streetwear design house and brick-and-mortar venue in the Trust Building on West Main Street, near the 21c Museum Hotel. In his artwork, Eng-Goetz fuses the cartoonish characteristics of pop surrealism with elements of imagery like skulls, flames and buxom beauties — icons synonymous with anime and tattoo design culture. His work features fantastical characters that rise out of or disintegrate into their lush surroundings. This underground artistic style was often used in album art for musicians, producers and DJs including Savoy and Wolfgang Gartner. “I love all types of music,” says Eng-Goetz. “In the age of digital listening, the album is a lost art — I grew up with CDs, and it was very cool to me to go through the whole booklet, for the album to have a cohesive aesthetic. The album is what drew me into a lot of artists that I still listen to today.”

Eng-Goetz, who grew up in Durham, received a BFA in illustration with a minor in sculpture at Syracuse University in New York. As an undergrad, the artist was influenced by the synergies among visual art, music and fashion he experienced when he traveled to New York City on weekends, summers and other school breaks. “Being exposed to the New York art and fashion scene, I saw the power of streetwear and its ability to work with the creative community,” he says.

Runaway became a creative locus for music, spoken word and visual art in Durham’s downtown district. “When a lot of people think of the arts, they think of New York, Los Angeles, Miami — the larger cities,” says Eng-Goetz. “But I really feel that the Triangle is a creative hotbed. The arts are informed by local politics,

and in the words of Outkast, the South has something to say.”

In January 2019, Eng-Goetz made the difficult decision to shutter Runaway’s physical location. “Retail is a full time job in a competitive industry,” says the artist. The move gave him space to shift toward fine art and public art projects. “I wanted the challenge of going big,” he says. His first large-scale mural was a vinyl wrap featuring a stampede of bulls placed on the side of the Morgan Rigsbee Garage. Throughout 2019 Eng-Goetz continued to scale up. He completed his first hand-painted mural on the lobby walls of his coworking home, American Underground, across the street from Runaway’s former shop. In the piece, a menagerie of indigo frogs, birds, fish and insects frolic in flowing river currents among emblems of technology including light bulbs, cameras and electronic power cables that morph into pink-hued vines. This juxtaposition among the elements of nature, technology and new urbanism is a theme that Eng-Goetz explores in many of his murals.

A year later, at the beginning of the pandemic, what started as a sixweek artist retreat in Nicaragua turned into a four-month sabbatical. While there, Eng-Goetz befriended an owner of a coastal hostel for tourists. In exchange for room and board, Eng-Goetz painted another large-scale mural. “It wasn’t anything too conceptual — basically a life-size great white shark with a lot of stylized, trippy elements,” he says, citing large gashes in the shark that reveal the dayglow rainbow-colored flesh. “It’s very surf hostel.”

After a much-needed reset, Eng-Goetz returned to Durham and continued to scale up, focusing on public works projects that allowed him to continue to

immerse himself in local communities within the state. Using his business acumen from his time with Runaway, Goetz began to build partnerships with state and municipal arts councils eager to support large-scale works.

As his portfolio grew, Eng-Goetz found an even bigger purpose for his art. “I became more interested in the power it has to tell a story of a community,” he says. Eng-Goetz felt compelled to visually represent different communities in civic works. In the fall, for example, he completed a mural in Morganton in partnership with the North Carolina Arts Council’s SmART initiative, a program committed to transforming downtown communities through art and sustainable economic development. The mural, which was painted at the newly renovated Morganton Arts Council building, honors the rich history of textile work and the diverse communities they represent, from African-American Appalachian quilts to Hmong Story Cloth and woven Guatemalan textiles.

In September 2022, Eng-Goetz completed a mural on the corner of Hillsborough and West Streets in Raleigh that celebrates the history and transformation of Dix Park. Commissioned by the Dix Park Conservancy in partnership with the Downtown Raleigh Alliance, the Raleigh Murals Project and Trophy Brewing, the mural wraps sunflowers, ginkgo leaves and a Painted Bunting — a bird that captivated park visitors last summer — around a child that places an envelope near the base of a cut oak tree. “I wanted the viewer to interpret what that letter means because I want the viewer to figure out what it is in their own minds,” says Eng-Goetz.

More subtle visual cues conjure the

The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 83
“I’m getting an education on North Carolina through these projects, whether it’s endemic species, the history of an area or different cultures.
It’s really cool.”
Gabe Eng-Goetz

complicated history of the park, which sits on the ancestral land of Indigenous tribes including the Coharie, Lumbee and Occaneechee. A broken chain circling the base of the tree stump evokes the enslaved inhabitants of the Spring Hill Plantation, who worked the land before the sprawling site housed North Carolina’s first phsychiatric hospital. The piece demonstrates how the past and present can coexist within the same space, while allowing room for growth and inclusivity. “Gabe’s work conveys Dix Park’s desire and intent to be a place for history and reflection, art and culture, and so much more,” says Nick Neptune, director of community outreach for the Dix Park Conservancy.

Each of his partnerships has offered room for self-discovery, and many of his murals explore Eng-Goetz’s mixed-race identity and Chinese ancestry. His mural at Boxyard RTP includes Chinese iconography like serpentine dragons with sharp talons, while in the Glenwood South

district, Eng-Goetz evokes the pleasant comforts of home through a steaming bowl of noodles. “Those projects are very important to me,” he says. “The Boxyard piece focused on the Asian immigrant story in areas like Apex, Morrisville and Cary. I wanted to tell that story and explore some of my own ancestry.”

In 2022, he installed an eye-popping sculpture made from wood, foam and found materials in the Artbox on Six Forks Road in North Hills called “Triple Delight,” featuring a majestic dragon head bearing sharp blue teeth and piercing yellow eyes. The piece ignited a renewed focus on a dormant medium for him. “When I went to Syracuse, I minored in sculpture and learned techniques like bronze casting, welding and mold making,” says Eng-Goetz. “So I had that in my background, but hadn’t been using it throughout my career.” Upcoming projects include sculptural installations at Wake Tech and a large-scale public works project with the City of Raleigh.

While his public art projects keep Eng-Goetz booked and busy, Runaway still works with organizations on special, limited-edition branding projects like merchandise design for Eno Fest, Counter Culture Coffee and Trophy Brewing.

And flashes of the Runaway spirit appear in some of Eng-Goetz’s recent small-scale commissions. One recent custom painting takes form as a 4 ½-foot tall rabbit sculpture, which features signature nature elements like butterflies and lotus flowers over a spray-painted base. It’s one of 10 unique works by local artists that are placed throughout Airlie Gardens in Wilmington.

As Eng-Goetz continues to expand his public art practice in Wake County and beyond, he is learning about the cultures and communities that make the state so special. “I feel like I’m getting an education on North Carolina through these projects, whether it’s endemic species, the history of an area or different cultures,” he says. “It’s really cool.”

The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 85
Opposite page: Eng-Goetz working on the Carolina Hurricanes mural in downtown Raleigh. This page: A mural at Boxyard RTP.
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89 French Embassador Visit 90 National Charity League Bouquet-Making 91 UGA Alumni Association Watch Party 92 Seagrove Open House 93 Beacon Point Groundbreaking 94 Giorgio Pizza Bar Opening 94 NCMA Café Opening To have your event considered for The Whirl, submit images and information at The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 87
WALTER’s roundup of gatherings, celebrations, fundraisers and more around Raleigh.
courtesy Marie-Claire Ribeill Marie-Claire Ribeill, Christopher Weissberg and Walter Gaskin at the World War II memorial.

An Evening with BeverlyMcIver & Liza Roberts

Be the first to view Beverly McIver’s new exhibition at CAM. The North Carolina native and nationally recognized artist will be joined by Liza Roberts, author of Art of the State , for an intimate conversation about art and identity. The evening includes heavy hors d’oeuvres, refreshments and a book signing.

Scan the QR code for tickets and more information. Beverly McIver is represented by Craven Allen Gallery in Durham. Visit to learn more about her work.

23 6:30 - 8:30 PM CAM RALEIGH 409 W. MARTIN STREET Lissa Gotwals
Thursday, March



On Jan. 9, Governor Roy Cooper, Secretary of Commerce Machelle Sanders and Secretary of Military & Veterans Affairs Walter Gaskin welcomed French Congressman Christopher Weissberg at the Executive Mansion. They discussed the two countries’ historical friendship and initiatives to enhance it. The meeting ended by laying a wreath at the World War II memorial at the Capitol.

courtesy Marie-Claire Ribeill, Honorary Consul of France
Pell Cooper, Armelle de Larminat, Machelle Sanders, Marie-Claire Ribeill, Roy Cooper, Christopher Weissberg, Walter Gaskin, Lisa Morel, Kevin Monroe Christopher Weissberg, Walter Gaskin
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Walter Gaskin, Machelle Sanders, Roy Cooper, Pell Cooper, Christopher Weissberg, Marie-Claire Ribeill, Lisa Morel, Armelle de Larminat

wrightsville beach





The Cardinal and Carolina Lily Chapters of the National Charity League have partnered with Trader Joe’s on Kildaire Farm Road in Cary to deliver flowers to retirement facilities in Raleigh through The Flower Shuttle. Each Saturday, mother-daughter pairs pick up discarded flowers and arrange bouquets. They even delivered on Christmas Eve!


This getaway package includes an in-room culinary amenity, a bottle of wine upon arrival, Prix Fixe dinner at EAST Oceanfront Dining, and breakfast in bed. A perfect excuse for a winter island retreat with your favorite person!

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Becci Monge NCL Cardinal Chapter mother-daughter pairs Addison Wall, Sara FoyAnnabella Monge, Lucy Mertens Lucy Mertens, Annabella Monge, Colleen Foy, Sara Foy, Addison Wall, Hollis Mertens


Former University of Georgia Bulldogs met at Tobacco Road Sports Cafe on Jan. 9 to watch the University of Georgia take on the Texas Christian University’s Horned Toads in the College Football National Championship. In the end, the Dawgs came out on top, finishing their undefeated season by winning 65-7.

The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 91
Watch it from home on WRALTV/ or join us LIVE + in-person for our Triangle-Wide WatchParty at the Mayton Inn! A regional fundraising event featuring Triangle artists Big Night In for the Arts is Back March 9 | 7pm on Learn More
Juliann Fuller Thomas Ward, Juliann Fuller, Jordan Boughner, Catie CangemiUniversity of Georgia fans





Throughout December, the artists in the Seagrove community enjoyed hosting Open House Weekends, when their studios were decorated for the holidays, their fires were roaring and their hands were busy at work. Some of the open studios included Jugtown Pottery, Westmoore Pottery and Dean & Martin Pottery.



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Courtesy Seagrove Travis Owens, Vernon Owens, Bayle Owens, Pam Owens Stephanie MartinJennie Lorette Keatts Mary Farrell
Hand-painted milk chocolate s h filled with milk chocolate Jivara ganache with hints of vanilla 5 nofo @ the pig | 2014 fairview road | 919.821.1240 | All
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You Need is Love.


Dec. 8 marked the beginning of the final phase of Beacon Point in Southeast Raleigh, a Purpose-Built Communities initiative. Durham-based nonprofit Self-Help Ventures Fund was selected by the YMCA of the Triangle to develop Beacon Point, which will include a mix of health, wellness, fresh foods and financial services and provide an estimated 90 permanent jobs.

Nationwide, residential remodeling continues to expand every year. The Wake County area has proven interest in remodeling and the Remodelers Home Tour magazine is a great way to gain access to those interested with circulation of 25,000 distributed through Walter Magazine in the remodeling companies and vendors and understand their unique whole-house renovations, universal or aging in place design, and green

Yvette Holmes Mary-Ann Baldwin Corey Branch, Yvette Holmes, Doug McMillan, Mary-Ann Baldwin, James West, LaTonya Mckoy, Tucker Bartlett, Tamara Stanley Holton Wilkerson, Lewis Dancy
The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 93
Holton Wilkerson, Pamela Bell Chris Fowler
ADVERTISE YOUR BUSINESS IN THE 2023 REMODELERS HOME TOUR MAGAZINE Space deadline is Friday, February 17th 10am-5pm Sunday, April 10 10a 10 0 0a a 5 m5 m-5pm Saturday, April 9 y, 10 1pm-5pm IMAGINE THE POSSIBILITIES FOR YOUR HOME ALL HOMES FEATURED AS 3D VIRTUAL TOURS AT For information email or 919-279-3132

Fall in LOVE with our 2023

Valentine’s Day Collection



On Jan. 10, guests sampled bites from the newly imagined NCMA Café by Catering Works, located inside the North Carolina Art Museum’s West Building. Guests enjoyed rosemary mimosas, a catfish farro bowl and cheesy grits with coffee-braised short ribs. Catering Works chef Rick Sloan and NCMA CEO Valerie Hillings spoke at the event.



On Jan. 10, Giorgios Hospitality Group celebrated the opening of Giorgio Pizza Bar, located in North Hills. The 13th restaurant from Giorgios Bakatsias, it offers pizzas, salads, pastas, entrees and a curated wine and cocktail program. The restaurant will be helmed by chef Jefe

Addie Ladner (NCMA); Jennifer Kelly (PIZZA) Lubiano. Kyle Connery, Reno, John Baptista, Hannah Carney, Breanna Titchener, Philip Ippolito, Christie Comer, Daeqwan Weston, Jefe Lubiano, Aaron Livingston-Gibbs, Neal Onori, Nathan Lewis, Joni McConneyhead, Geoff Seitters, Brittany Thacker Serving up the mealThe NCMA Café Jill Lucia, Lorin Laxton, Nicole Flynn, Rick Sloan

Take WALTER to go! There’s always something to discover on our website and social media. Here’s what’s been happening.



We’ll miss the crew at this gem @mshepard79 My favorite place to walk and grab lunch when I was an intern at the CPA board many moons ago! Sorry to see it close.

@Jack.garrett16 Where am I gonna get my collards?!

@annabazemore So sad! The best people and the best food!




North Carolina State University alum Jim Ritcher was an award-winning lineman in 14 seasons with the Buffalo Bills. Now he’s performing a second act, as a pilot....


@newwatersrecovery Yum!

@williamhdodge What a boss

@whomekate Hey Mr. Jim!

@brittp1969 The greatest lineman in ACC history, bar none

Happy first day of the year! Did you know that this is the Year of the Trail in North Carolina? The statewide iniative from the Great Trails State Coalition & NC State Parks invites us to make this the year to hike, bike, paddle & explore outside... Share your recs! @geoff_wood

@tiasollecito Any hike in Ravens Rock State Park!

@addieladner Occoneechee in Hillsborough!

WALTER’S TOP PHOTOS OF 2022 Images from our print magazine and digital channels of various moments, people and restaurants in and around Raleigh that stood out in 2022.
The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 95
5 SPOTS WHERE YOU CAN SIP WHILE YOU SHOP These Raleigh stores offer more than retail — they have bars on site, too! FIRST BITE: SPANISH EATERY LAS RAMBLAS TO OPEN NEXT MONTH The new tapas restaurant in North Hills will pair North Carolina seafood and pork and with authentic Spanish ingredients.


A new publication from Artsuite explores grief and memory

For many, February is a time to shower our loved ones with sweets and flowers. But for others, it can invite reflection on those who are no longer with us. The book SAVED: Objects of the Dead opens up just this sort of dialogue. It’s the first publication by Artsuite, the Raleigh-based gallery platform founded by Marjorie Hodges and Allen Thomas in 2020. “We are always exploring creative ways to connect people to meaningful art,” says Hodges. “One of those ways is through beautiful and accessible art books.”

Published last month, SAVED features images of cherished items that belonged to late loved ones — from a teacup to a pinecone to a camera — taken by North Carolina photographer Jody Servon. Servon, who is also a professor at Appalachian State University, has shown some of this work in more

than 25 exhibitions and various literary journals. Each photograph is paired with a prose poem by Lorene DelanyUllman, a California-based poet. The two started this project in the late 2000s, after each lost their father.

Thomas connected with the duo more than a decade ago as Servon and Delany-Ullman were collecting artifacts for their project. “Jody had read an article in which I spoke about how my mother died when I was young, and my best friend died at 22,” Thomas says. “We agreed that photography can become a way to freeze time.” Servon photographed a ring that Thomas had saved after his mother passed — “a big blue moonstone that’s very special to me” — and Delany-Ullman interviewed him. The ensuing poem and photograph were so special that he bought prints for himself and his relatives to hang in their homes; they are also in

the book. “I didn’t realize they would include my mom’s ring, but it makes me so happy to see it,” says Thomas.

SAVED features essays by Cora Fisher, Sonya Clark, Alex Espinoza, Erika Hayasaki, Swati Khurana and Leslie Gray Streeter, all notable writers on the subjects of grief. “As the writing came in, we realized, wow, these people get it. It’s not about death, but about how objects carry memories, and how we can honor them,” says Thomas.

Thomas and Hodges hope that SAVED can be an inspiration for readers who have lost loved ones. “The human experience of life, death and memory is challenging,” says Hodges. “We hope this book will offer comfort to all of us who have experienced grieving.”

On Feb. 11, the NCMA will host a event for SAVED (2 to 4 p.m.; free; Find the book on

courtesy Artsuite
4401 Glenwood Ave, Raleigh, NC 27612(919)


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