WALTER Magazine- July 2020

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JULY 2020

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A Blooming Farm Culture CELIA RIVENBARK ZOOMS JEFF SEIZER’S FAMILY RECIPES BOOK RECS FROM LOCAL WRITERS + DAY HIKES NEAR RALEIGH


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Love will see us through.


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DEPARTMENTS

Volume VIII, Issue 9 JULY 2020

Jeff Seizer (TABLE); joshua Steadman (TRUCK)

40

OUR TOWN

34

22

SUMMER BOOK PICKS

24

Q&A: Digging Up Roots City of Raleigh Museum’s Ernest Dollar on our rich history

28

CULTURE: An Artivist at Heart Carly Jones uses music and theater as a channel for advocavy

31

GIGS: Frozen Delight The origins of the SnowFlake

34

LOCALS: Legacy of Plenty Demetrius Hunter builds on a decadesold grocery delivery business

38

DRINK: Ultra Violet Hand-picked flowers infuse an artisanal cocktail

40

FOOD: Taste of Summer Royale’s Jeff Seizer shares his go-to family recipes

44

NOTED: Left to Our Own Devices In a time of crisis, Celia Rivenbark redefines an idiom

IN EVERY ISSUE 14

Letter from WALTER

18

Contributors

19

Your Feedback

20

Happening Now

91

The Whirl

98

End Note: Escape to Shangri-La

On the cover: A floral arrangement at Wylde; photography by Liz Condo

10 | WALTER



FEATURES Geoff Wood (RIVER); Joshua Steadman (GRACE)

46

46

TAKE A HIKE Walks along the Mountains-toSea Trail offer a chance to explore by Jim Grode photography by Geoff Wood

56

SAVING A SCHOOL A community works to restore a historic educational facility by Lori D. R. Wiggins photography by Bob Karp

64

FRESH CUT Women-led flower farms by Jessie Rumbley photography by Liz Condo

74

PATTERN PLAY A Drewry Hills home with punch by Ayn-Monique Klahre photography by Brie Williams

82

THE RESCUERS Local animal shelters connect pets to families during coronavirus by Miranda Evon photography by Joshua Steadman

82 12 | WALTER


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LOVE

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ike so many, I’ve found that my summer is shaping up differently than I’d planned. But as we worked on this issue, I was reminded that there are so many ways we can explore close to home. Discovery comes from learning new things: the secret behind an artisanal cocktail (pg. 38), a recipe rooted in family (pg. 40) or about the offerings in a new favorite booth at the Farmers Market (pg. 31). ). It’s learning that grocery delivery is not a newfangled concept, but one that Demetrius Hunter’s family has been perfecting for decades (pg. 34). Or that there’s a growing genre of female-led farming in the area that meld aesthetics and agriculture in response to the universal trend toward sourcing local cut flowers (pg. 62). It’s cracking open a new book because an author you respect recommended it

(pg. 22) or garnering a tidbit of our city’s history from a man who’s immersed himself in it (pg. 24). And it’s finding that you don’t have to travel far to reach foreign lands: within an hour you can visit a Civil War battlefield, a sprawling Wa suspension bridge or the ruins sus of a speedway (pg. 46), or even Shangri-La (pg. 98). My a tiny t family gamely joined me on fa these excursions, and we were th aamazed by how different tthings could feel, even just a ccar-ride away. Whether your interests lie in history, the kitchen or natural space, we hope this issue inspires you to discover something new. And if you do, we hope you’ll share your adventures with us on Instagram or Facebook @waltermagazine.

Ayn-Monique Klahre Editor



VOLUME VIII, ISSUE 9

EDITORIAL

PUBLISHING

Editor AYN-MONIQUE KLAHRE

President ROBYN TOMLIN

Creative Director LAURA PETRIDES WALL

Advertising Sales Manager JULIE NICKENS

Assistant Editor ADDIE LADNER

Senior Account Executive & Operations CRISTINA HURLEY

WALTER is available by paid subscriptions for $25 a year in the United States, as well as select rack and advertiser locations throughout the Triangle. Subscribe online at waltermagazine.com/subscribe

Editorial Assistant KATHERINE POOLE

WALTER Events KAIT GORMAN

For customer service inquiries, please email us at customerservice@waltermagazine.com or call 919-836-5613.

Contributing Writers

Advertising Coordinator ROBIN KENNEDY

Address all correspondence to: WALTER Magazine, 421 Fayetteville St., Suite 104 Raleigh, NC 27601

NOOR AZEEM, CATHERINE CURRIN, MIRANDA EVON, JOEL HAAS, MELISSA HAWSON, COURTNEY NAPIER, KATIE PATE, CELIA RIVENBARK, JESSIE RUMBLEY, LORI D. R. WIGGINS

Interns VIRGINIA CAVINESS, EMILY CLEMENTE, SARAH HOOPER, CADY SMITH

Contributing Illustrator JILLIAN OHL

Contributing Photographers LIZ CONDO, BOB KARP, CATHERINE NGUYEN, EAMON QUEENEY, JOSHUA STEADMAN, TRAVIS LONG, JOE PELLEGRINO, GEOFF WOOD

Circulation JERRY RITTER BRIAN HINTON

[W]\PKPIXMTPQTT KWU

JULY 2020 Published 10 times a year by The News & Observer Publishing Co. A McClatchy Company

WALTER does not accept unsolicited manuscripts. Please contact Ayn-Monique Klahre at ayn-monique@waltermagazine.com for freelance guidelines. © The News & Observer. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without the express written consent of the copyright owner.


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JULY 2020

JOSHUA STEADMAN /

MELISSA HOWSAM /

P HOTO G R A P HE R Images can contain so much joy, pain, love, humor and LIFE. They change time into substance. As the son of a newspaperman and a teacher, Steadman inherited a love of learning and telling stories. He believes that both are used in equal measure to do what he does. “I began what I thought would be a brief discussion with Demetrius about how he got into grocery deliveries, and learned that his personal history has been setting him up for this nonprofit service his entire life. Ten minutes later, I realized he was a storyteller, too—and that he’s also got a great one to tell.”

W R I TE R Melissa Howsam is a regular contributor and editor for magazines across the country on topics spanning self-care to skincare, workouts to women’s health and more. She grew up in Raleigh, where she thrives on too much caffeine, playing with her pup and daydreaming of her next Aruba vacay. “Raleigh is rich with creative talent, and as a writer with ambitions to publish a novel, it’s an inspiration to get to connect with some of our state’s best authors for this month’s Our Town.”

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LORI D. R. WIGGINS / LIZ CONDO / P HOTO G R A P HE R Liz Condo studied photojournalism at Ohio University before working as a staff photographer at The Advocate in Louisiana. Since becoming a freelance photographer, she has pursued a broad range of projects with a focus on conservation and sustainable agriculture. “I was fortunate to spend a few mornings surrounded by rows of gorgeous flowers, watching farmers carefully select the most beautiful to harvest. Humble plastic buckets overflowed with deep red columbine blossoms, brightly colored poppy petals and the soft, pastel curves of snapdragon blooms. I later watched in fascination as the simple stems were transformed into ephemeral works of art.”

W R I TE R Lori first got wind of the state’s rich history of Rosenwald Schools in her communications studies at UNC-Chapel Hill in the late 1980s. As she built her career covering— and uncovering—stories of the oft unsung, yet amazing, people, places, things and culture that surround and define us, the buried story of Rosenwald Schools surfaced again and again. “I’m delighted to finally share with you the impact Rosenwald Schools had on communities close to home,” says Wiggins. “I hope that Rosenwald’s example of selfless innovation can urge states toward greater public responsibility and inspire progressive interactions between the races for greater good even today.”

Courtesy contributors

CONTRIBUTORS


YOUR FEEDBACK “I love this cover! Best one yet!” — —Kendall Stevenz, via Instagram

True to form, we heard from many T f h d back b of the kind folks featured in the May/June Happening Now: Sharing Gratitude story... “Thank you for sharing this wonderful article! I’m honored to be included in a group of amazing people.” —Maria Yeager “You can tell when people that pass here are going through something. A little act of kindness goes a long way and I try to remember that.” —Michael Jackson “Thank you so much! I hope this article will help spread the mission and message of Emmaus House.” —Joe Demuro “This is amazing! Thank you for your good work! I loved reading the stories of so many good neighbors.” —Kim Wyatt

“Thanks for sending an extra copy of Walter to my son, Marcel Provencher, and to each of his brothers, too!” —Vicki Corporon, president of the Raleigh Garden Club

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Happening

FAMILY NORTH CAROLINA MUSEUM OF HISTORY History at Home brings the resources of the museum right to you. Tour virtual exhibits, view documentary films and interviews with historians or link out to other historical resources. Then, plan an outing to visit a state historic site or park. ncmuseumofhistory.org/history-at-home NORTH CAROLINA MUSEUM OF NATURAL SCIENCES Science at Home offers budding scientists ideas and activities to explore the world around them. Learn how to identify trees in the neighborhood, join a live round of Trivia Tuesday, watch a video on slimeeating insects, classify the bug living under your porch by Asking a Naturalist. Science at Home is just the jumping off point for discovering unchartered territories. naturalsciences.org

Rodin's The Three Shades at the NCMA

W

e strive to provide WALTER readers a well-rounded selection of cultural experiences to fill their social calendars. Navigating how to safely get back to what we enjoy most: the arts, sports, dining, nightlife, outreach, social engagement and the great outdoors remains top of mind. While many events and activities have been canceled or postponed, there is still much Happening Now. Local businesses and organizations are finding innovative ways to entertain, engage, connect and reinforce our sense of community, even from a distance. Gathered here is a resource guide to visit and bookmark, so you can stay up on virtually everything. 20 | WALTER

MARBLES KIDS MUSEUM Parents may feel they are losing their marbles, so Raleigh’s beloved kids museum is here to help. Daily videos highlight activities to do at home from finger knitting to making a backyard obstacle course. Downloadable Play Poster activity sheets make learning fun and Playful Parenting tips make adulting easier. And once everyone is playing well together, pick up a prize (curbside) from the museum gift store. marbleskidsmuseum.org RALEIGH PARKS, RECREATION AND CULTURAL RESOURCES Wake County is fortunate to have a thriving parks and recreation system. Take time to explore a little deeper into the resources at our disposal with Play Anywhere with Raleigh Parks. Learn the basics of watercolor, make solar s’mores, go on a Pullen Park scavenger hunt, learn

Gus Samarco (RODIN); Joshua Steadman (BOY)

With the real prospect of a never-endingsummer, here are a few resources to spark quality together time.


JULY

Mickalene Thomas (Three Graces: Les Trois Femmes Noires); Ben McKeown (BANJO)

how to help a turtle cross the road, practice chair yoga or finesse your forehand. There is also an updated list of park and facility openings, closings and best practices for enjoying spaces while respecting fellow travelers. And when you just need a little laugh, call the Raleigh Parks Laugh Line at 919-996-2759 for the joke of the day. No kidding. raleighnc.gov/play-anywhere

GREGG MUSEUM OF ART & DESIGN Take an in-depth guided tour (via Zoom) with staff member Christina Wytko. Available in real time, visitors can ask questions about the exhibition as it's presented. Learn about the art, the artists, and the museum itself. Featuring All Is Possible: Mary Ann Scherr's Legacy in Metal and All That Glitters: Spark and Dazzle from the Permanent Collection. Registration is required. See website for tour dates. gregg.arts.ncsu.edu CAM RALEIGH Contemporary art is meant to challenge the viewer, which may be just the thoughtful distraction needed. CAM provides digital exhibits that include works of art, artist information and relevant links. Current exhibitions include award-winning visual artist Maya Freelon. Check out their Virtual Creation Station for fun (for all ages) art projects that can be submitted to their Virtual Gallery. camraleigh.org

ART Need to distract the children for a few minutes, engage with friends and loved ones or simply reclaim a moment of peace? Many of us (including the admittedly un-crafty) are turning to art for therapy and leisure. As of press time, museums were still under state restrictions, but that has not stopped curators from finding artful ways to enhance lives. NORTH CAROLINA MUSEUM OF ART NCMA from Home invites you to explore, watch, read and make with a series of virtual offerings—a mini-master class— that reveals some of the museum’s noteworthy pieces. View the art, read up on its provenance, learn about the artist, listen to lectures, then follow up with a complementary hands-on activity. Patrons are also encouraged to curate an exhibition from home or create art with household items. Elevate the weekly staff meeting with the museum’s Zoom backgrounds. Other programming in the works includes a virtual Sculpture Race and a virtual Mindful Museum combining art, Tai Chi and yoga. And, when the in-home exhibits get archived, the museum park remains open for perambulating around the outdoor art installations. ncartmuseum.org

UNITED ARTS COUNCIL The United Arts Council is a non-profit that supports and advocates for the arts in Wake County. Consider them a go-to source for the arts and ways you can support artists, including donating to the NC Artist Relief Fund, a fund to financially support individuals impacted by COVID-19. With links to everything from drawing “quaran-toons” to juggling with scarves, discover a new talent. unitedarts.org

PERFORMANCE We may not be able to hold our phone lighters above our heads as we sway in time to the beat at the Cat’s Cradle or PNC Arena, but there is still a host of live performances available. Secure the best seat in your house and enjoy. Also of note: NC Live—a state-wide coalition

of performance venues—is working to determine best practices to ensure safe reopening of facilities. Our local NC Live team includes: Carolina Theatre of Durham, Coastal Credit Music Park at Walnut Creek, Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, Durham Performing Arts Center, Koka Booth Amphitheatre, PNC Arena and Red Hat Amphitheater. Learn more at nclive.org. NORTH CAROLINA SYMPHONY Tune in to the symphony’s YouTube channel to experience a multitude of moments and movements in their creative series: Our Home to Yours, Get to Know Our Guest Artist and Together Through Music. The symphony is also offering their music education program free of charge. ncsymphony.org NORTH CAROLINA OPERA The state’s premier opera company is sharing highlights from their performance archives as well as digital interviews with artists. For these links and updates on the upcoming season, sign up to receive their newsletter. ncopera.org PINECONE The Piedmont Council of Traditional Music is offering online workshops and jam sessions for bluegrass enthusiasts. Sign up for their email list or follow on social media for updates. pinecone.org CAROLINA BALLET Plié along with Carolina Ballet. The company offers live Instagram barre and ballet classes for all levels along with streaming interviews with corps dancers. Every Tuesday the Ballet releases a new online performance from their archives. Past videos include Robert Weiss’ Stravinsky Pas De Deux and selections from The Nutcracker. carolinaballet.com NC THEATRE Sing along with NC Theatre (NCT): See snippets from past productions of Kinky Boots, West Side Story and Annie. Or, check out Star Gazing—a fun retrospective of the constellation of notables that have shone on the NCT stages over the last 35 years. nctheatre.com

Check in at our website for an up-to-date, curated calendar of events and happenings. waltermagazine.com JULY 2020 | 21


O Our

Looking for books to add to your summer reading list? We tapped local authors to find out what they are loving right now. —Melissa Howsam I’m enjoying en njoying Blu Blue lue M Marlin, arrlliin n, a justreleased d novella novella by Hillsborough’s Hillsborrou own Lee Smith. Sm mit ith. A 13-year-old girl girrl observes ob her parents’ paare rents’ attempt at a second d ho honeymoon in in the Florida Keys with precocious precoc eyes, and feels excitement att m meeting eetin movie stars staying at the sam same me hotel hotel. Smith is in high form here; her her inimitable inimitab Southern voice carries carrie iess the th story throughout.” thro —Samia —Samia Serageldin

As a parent parent of a five-year five-year-old, ar-old, I love Raleigh Rallei e gh author Kelly Starling Star St a ling Lyons’ picture ctu ure r book T Tiara's Ti i ra ia r 's Hat H t Parade. Ha Parade. e Beautifully ly illu illustrated lustrated by Nicole Tadg Tadgell, gel ell, this book captu captures ures the joy of storytelling, craft and nd fami family mily y in bright colors and wond wonderful derrful prose.” —Kwamee Mb Mbalia M alia a

The he Light h Years, I’ve launched h d into T the first of the five volume English saga The Cazalet Chronicles by Elizabeth Jane Howard. The family story (remember Upstairs, Downstairs?) begins before World War II, following the Cazalet family and households through the sweep of history. Witty, vividly written, rich in characters—delicious!” —Frances Mayes 22 | WALTER

I'm loving A Death in Harlem by Karla FC Holloway. This exquisitelycrafted novel transports me with its bold reshaping and retexturing of the intricate, secret societies that weave the endearing complexities of ‘death by misadventure.’ This is the perfect mystery for me during this moment. The nuances and characters carry me across and beyond vivid thresholds of a community declaring its self-expression against that period’s backdrop of race and class elitism.” —Jaki Shelton Green

It wass a National Nati Na tion ionall B Book ook oo k Aw A Awar Award war ard d finalist in 2017, but I just discovered Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado. It’s a collection of stories about the reality of women’s lives, which somehow integrates myth, folk tales, science fiction, humor and horror stories into a series of compelling and transfixing tales. It’s so good.” —Daniel Wallace


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Q&A

DIGGING UP ROOTS Ernest Dollar turned a love for history and the Triangle into a full-time job at the City of Raleigh Museum by CATHERINE CURRIN photography by TRAVIS LONG

B

ump into Ernest Dollar, and he’ll gladly share a gem from almost a decade of studying our city. As the Executive Director of both the City of Raleigh (COR) Museum on Fayetteville Street and the Pope House Museum on S. Wilmington Street, Dollar hopes to teach us more about our shared, surprising history. We caught up with him to learn about his love for all things Raleigh.

24 | WALTER

TELL ME A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND. I’m a Durham native, been in the Triangle all my life. I attended The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where I was originally a design major. But I got bit by the history bug my junior year of college—I later went on to grad school to pursue that interest. I worked in historical preservation until I landed my first director job in 2001, at the Orange County


Courtesy City of Raleigh Museum

Historical Museum in Hillsborough, N.C. The museum there was started in 1956, but it was the first time they were looking for a director. I had never thought about working in a museum, but once I got the job, I fell in love and never looked back. Museums are where art and history meet, through design exhibits. I went back to school at North Carolina State University to study Public History and graduated in 2006. It’s a real niche field, but with a basic question: how do we teach the public about history? I was one of the first few hires at the COR Museum and the Pope House when the City took over. HOW DID THAT COME ABOUT? The Raleigh City Museum, as it was originally called, was a private museum founded in 1993—right after Raleigh’s bicentennial—that operated as a nonprofit. It was in danger of closing before the City of Raleigh took it over in 2012, and I came on board shortly after. The Pope House had never even been a museum. After that, the city renamed the Parks and Recreation Department as the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Department. They formed the Historic Resources and Museum Program, A miniature of Theophilus Hunter Sr., which is the group that whose family owned most of Dix Park. manages the city's historic facilities. Since the museum and Pope House are near each other, I oversee both sites. To be a part of this is very rewarding work. WHY IS RALEIGH SO SPECIAL TO YOU? The exciting thing is that Raleigh is the state capital. To tell the story of the political center of North Carolina is a big deal. I was very excited to come to the big city and tell its history. Raleigh has a nice, polished exterior history: state capital, government town, business town. Past that, I didn’t know much. It’s taken me eight or nine years to get into the corners of Raleigh’s past. A lot of my research was driven by the community, people who inspired me to dig in and learn more. WHAT'S MOST INTERESTING ABOUT RALEIGH? Much of the historic background I’ve personally studied is the 19th century. I certainly think the Civil War is pretty important and relevant to today—just open a newspaper! People don’t realize that Raleigh was almost completely destroyed. There was a giant earthen wall built around the entire city,

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WHAT CAN YOU LEARN AT THE COR MUSEUM? There’s a lot more to Raleigh than being a government town. An incredible community has lived here for over 200 years. The past is an incredible place to visit and it’s still with us today. This is the whole architecture of everything we do at the museum: our motto is ‘Then, Now, Next.’ We want to keep up with the pace and the pulse of the city by curating exhibits that showcase how Raleigh’s history will shape our future. SPEAKING OF YOUR MOTTO… WHAT’S NEXT? This year is the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment. We are celebrating what women in North Carolina did when they got A staple gun owned by Betty Ann Knudsen. the right to vote with From Mothers to Mayors: The Legacy of the 19th Amendment. It takes a look at the next century of political activism by women in Raleigh. I have many favorite artifacts, but one is a staple gun used by Betty Ann Knudsen. She was a Wake County Commissioner in 1976 and became the first female to chair the board; she was a powerhouse in organizing and promoting female candidates. She helped get Raleigh’s first female mayor elected in 1977. This simple staple gun helped make big changes.

Courtesy City of Raleigh Museum

and one Union general, John A. "Black Jack" Logan, saved the city from being burnt down. Raleigh has such a rich African-American history as well— Dr. Pope was one of the first African-American doctors in North Carolina, which is why his home is a museum now. It tells the story of North Carolina’s first licensed black doctors. There are stories in the African-American community that are disappearing—we have to capture them before they’re gone. For example, we have a literacy test from October 10, 1964. This was donated to us from the Wake County Board of Elections and shows the lengths that were taken to disqualify voters, especially African Americans. Potential voters had to copy phrases from the Constitution to prove they could read and write. The use of literacy tests was made illegal by the passage of the Voting Rights Act passed on August 6, 1965. The deeper I dig, the more I find. Did you know that even though Raleigh is named after English explorer Sir Walter Raleigh, he never set foot anywhere in the New World? I’ve been able to see the way neighborhoods have changed—Transfer Food Hall now sits in the heart of Raleigh’s turn-of-thecentury Red Light District. If you’re interested in some really morbid stories of the Capital City, we offer our Dark Raleigh walking tour in October. Rather than ghosts, we explore true death and crime stories from Raleigh’s past.



CULTURE

an artivist at HEART Carly Jones has a unique work balance that finds the sweet spot where art and advocacy become one by NOOR AZEEM

28 | WALTER

Courtesy Carly Jones

C

arly Jones is used to the limelight—she’s versed in the holy trinity of stage performance: opera, musical theater and plays. But when Jones is off the stage, she serves as the Senior Program Director for Artists & Organizations for the North Carolina Arts Council. “They naturally go hand in hand with one another,” Jones says about her “dual career” on and off the stage. With the Arts Council, Jones get grants and fellowships out to artists and organizations who might need them, like rural communities or communities of color. Her career path was inspired partially by her parents: practical public servants, a teacher and a judge. They insisted that Jones attend college rather than trying her luck on Broadway after high school. She got a music scholarship from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and graduated with a double major in Black Music History and Vocal Performance, and a minor in Arts Management (at the suggestion of her father). In college, Jones wanted to be an opera singer and travel the world. She did a stint in Italy, performing on the beach as part of the ensemble of La Bohème. It was the dream life: by the final act, her time on stage would be up, and she’d be “in the ocean, drinking vino and eating grapes, listening to the symphony play the last act of my favorite opera,” says Jones. “And I thought, if this is what being an opera singer is like, I’ll take it!” But her practical side prevailed; she returned to the States to finish college. After graduating in 2009, her arts education came in handy. “I ended up leaning heavily on my grant writing,” says Jones. “It took me time to realize that that’s okay—most performers are doing something on the side to pay the bills.” Now, a decade later, Jones sees those skills as a blessing rather than a fallback. With a full-fledged career in the arts administration world, Jones can still perform, but she doesn’t have to say yes to every role that makes its way to her. She has the financial stability to take on roles that mean something to her and that


send a message. She’s become an artivist. Jones didn’t coin the term—it’s been around since the late 1990s—but she’s embraced it as her ethos. “I wanted to merge my love of being politically involved with my love of my art,” says Jones. “I have a passion for telling stories that people don’t normally hear.” Jones’ version of an artivist is using her artistic prowess to help her community—taking on roles that tell an important story. She's inspired by Nina Simone “the original artivist, a voice for the voiceless.” If Jones can be the vessel to make someone’s voice heard, she wants to do it. Maybe, she muses, this comes from her upbringing as a biracial girl in the South. “My own story hasn’t really been told on a stage,” she says. In 2018, Jones played Camila in NC Theatre’s production of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s In the Heights. The musical is near and dear to her heart. “I saw In The Heights [after college] and I remember thinking: everyone up there looks like me!” says

Jones. “I’d never seen a musical where everyone was brown.” When the musical came to town, Jones was one of four local performers chosen for the show (everyone else came in from New York).

Working with the big-city professionals was informative, but the greatest lesson she learned was about balance. “I’m doing the same level of work as they are, but living in my own home, with a

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career to go back to when that show is over,” says Jones. “I love the life I’ve created for myself here. We need to teach young people that you don’t have to be a starving artist. You can create your own version of success.” Most recently, Jones was in a production of Orange Light by Howard Craft, which ran at The Fruit in Durham through February. The play is based on the 1991 Hamlet, N.C. chicken processing plant fire, which received national attention after low-income workers were trapped inside the burning chicken plant with the fire exits padlocked. Dozens of people died, mostly single moms. “Howard wrote this play about their stories,” says Jones. “Oftentimes when we hear about tragedies, we just hear a number.” The cast was all women, each playing multiple roles (firefighters, victims, even Jesse Jackson). For Jones, this is social activism: using her voice to share an important story.

D I A MOND S , E S TAT E

AND

Jones notes similarities between the victims in this play and those in recent outbreaks of COVID-19 in meatpacking plants. And in recent months, her workplace has transitioned full-time into relief efforts. “It has taken us all by surprise,” says Jones. “No one was prepared for this. I’m so grateful I can help people.” In April, Jones and her colleague Sandra Davidson spearheaded a new form of artivism: a three-day virtual music festival called Under One Roof, which featured artists like Ben Folds, Tift Merritt and 9th Wonder. Putting a festival together, even virtually, was no small task—but Jones was up for it. “I love being able to be creative like that in my work,” she says. “I got to work with people from different genres and see the amount of compassion that musicians and artists have—even the ones who have ‘made it,’” she says. “People just want to give back during this time and they want to help.” They raised over $50,000, all of which will go to artists

who are suddenly out of work. Typically, this time of year, the Arts Council would be hosting panel discussions and reviewing grant applications for upcoming arts programming. But with venues empty and programming indefinitely halted, there are no grants to approve. Instead, Jones is concentrating on ways to support the arts and make sure the industry can survive the global pandemic. “It’s less about programming now and more about stabilization.” Today, Jones’ day-to-day consists of distributing information and funds for artist recovery efforts, breaking down stimulus grants for performers, staying in touch with venues and nonprofits, and having the “reopening” conversation as it pertains to the Arts Council. Jones is worried whether the arts can weather this storm, but she believes that artists and their supporters are strong. “The arts community is innovative and resilient,” she says. “We’ll get through this.”

A NT IQUE J E W ELRY • L O O S E D I A MOND S OF A L L S H APE S AND S I Z E S • C E RT I F I E D A PPR AISAL S • E XPERT J E WELRY R EPAI R S W E B UY D I A MOND S , G OLD AND P L AT I N U M

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FOOD

Gee Yang (right) of Carolina Crispy Fry, with her husband, Jay Jeon

FROZEN DELIGHT Carolina Crispy Fry’s unique creations bring new flavors to the State Farmers Market by KATIE PATE photography by JOE PELLEGRINO

W

hile she was a chef at Cary’s popular Crazy Fire Mongolian Grill, Gee Yang became intrigued by the abundance of local farms and products in North Carolina while exploring the state with her husband, Jay Jeon. She also had a habit of testing off-menu items with her customers—and they were a hit. “They encouraged me to

open a new restaurant!” says Yang. With that encouragement, Yang opened Carolina Crispy Fry in 2019 as a way to blend Asian-fusion cuisine with North Carolina ingredients. Part of the business is a food truck that focuses on hearty, fried creations like breaded and fried cheese pork cutlets and crispy dumplings with a special dipping sauce. “It’s all handmade,” she says. JULY 2020 | 31


Yang also invested in a booth inside her favorite place, the North Carolina State Farmers Market. Because of space and equipment limitations inside the Market Shoppes though—and shoppers’ cravings for more snackable foods—she adjusted the menu. Today, they have two menu mainstays: the SnowFlake, an Instagram-worthy fruit-filled shaved ice treat, and crunchy, wholesome Carolina Pop Snacks. “Customers say to us, ‘I have never had these items before in my life!’” says Yang. “And they love it.” The SnowFlake, in particular, has quickly gained popularity. “Some people come to us every day,” says Yang, for the surprising fruit, coffee and milk variations. Yang sources seasonal fruits like peaches, strawberries and blueberries directly from the market for the SnowFlake’s toppings. The treats are popular enough that Yang has catered events and made custom flavors. “We even make a wine SnowFlake for private events!” Their other flagship product, Carolina Pop Snacks, are puffed rice discs inspired by multigrain breakfast cereals. “It’s a different type of snack, but healthy,” says Yang. “We can add seasonal vegetables or fruits, like pumpkin or sweet potato and change the flavor.” The production line for Pop Snacks tends to draw spectators, the machine making a big “pop” sound every few seconds. Yang says that Carolina Crispy Fry counts itself lucky that

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they were able to operate continuously through the spring. She credits the support from the State Farmers Market management team (“They are awesome!”) and their own, strict safety measures for helping her team adapt and stay healthy. One hurdle, though: up until the coronavirus hit, Carolina Crispy Fry had relied heavily on letting patrons sample pieces of Pop Snacks as they walked through the market—something they can no longer do. The shop solved this issue by finding a way to pass out full-sized, sealed samples wrapped in cellophane. “It’s like giving people a small gift,” says Yang. As the effects of the coronavirus recede and gatherings are possible once again, Yang hopes to continue growing her business by taking Carolina Crispy Fry to local events with “fresh, healthy, and delicious” fare. In fact, when posted up at North Carolina State Fair for the first time last year, Carolina Crispy Fry “gave away five to six thousand samples every day.” Until events are scheduled again, the business is focused on continuing to serve customers and innovate new menu items that offer fresh local produce and products. Above all else, Yang wants to spread knowledge and fervor about the abundance of agricultural resources the state and city have to offer consumers. “I would like it if everyone shopped at the State Farmers Market,” she says. “And when you do, visit us to try a SnowFlake or a Pop Snack!”

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LOCALS

legacy of PLENTY Demetrius Hunter builds on the family business: delivering groceries to underserved communities by COURTNEY NAPIER photography by JOSHUA STEADMAN

D

emetrius Hunter is a man who does not sit still. His day begins early in the morning, when he meets deliverymen to help unload fresh fruits and vegetables for the day’s grocery orders. He meticulously fills each crate with local produce: blueberries, assorted potatoes, onions, squashes and bunches of collard greens that stand up like church fans. After he loads up the truck, he follows a familiar route to the southeast corner of Raleigh’s urban core. While grocery delivery may be newly popular, Hunter’s business is 80 years in the making, a story of continuous

34 | WALTER

innovation, perseverance and genuine neighborliness that connects people with quality produce. It starts around the turn of the 20th century: Hunter’s grandmother, Maddie Hunter, inherited 10 acres in Johnston County from her formerly enslaved parents. As was the custom in the Depression era, she and her family—husband Lonnie and sons Zelb and Raymond— had a large plot for growing their own food. Every time the Hunters traveled to visit friends in Raleigh, they’d bring along a basket of sweet potatoes, collards or okra to share. Their conversations would always include complaints about

the lack of quality of the produce options and the city slicker prices in town. These visits ignited Zelb Hunter’s entrepreneurial spirit. He convinced his brother that they could become truck farmers, an early twentieth-century business practice of farmers driving to sell produce directly to customers. But the Hunter family couldn’t afford to use their aging pickup. Gas prices were at an all-time high, so they cut off the bed of the truck and attached it to the family mule. Then they filled the makeshift cart with produce from the garden to sell to city-dwelling friends and their neighbors who longed for a taste of the country.


The goal was to raise enough money to replace and upgrade aging work equipment—including buying a proper cart—but a seed of possibility was also planted in Zelb Hunter’s heart. World War II came along, and Zelb Hunter served three tours. Upon his return, he married Penny Powell, and they started their lives and family together, first as sharecroppers, then as a supervisor and nurse at Dorothea Dix Hospital. They lived in a rental home provided by the hospital, but held on to a hog farm near Garner. Soon, Zelb Hunter began to work with other farmers and grocers in Wake and Johnston Counties to sell fresh, local fruits and vegetables, along with his homemade link sausages and country hams, to the residents of Southeast Raleigh. What started in the 1950s as a side hustle became a full-service grocery delivery business by the time he retired from Dix Hospital in 1980. By this time, his son Demetrius, the youngest of their 10 children, became his father’s right-hand man. “The time together doing deliveries was my bonding time with him,” says Demetrius Hunter. “It was where my father taught me how to treat people and how to be humble.” Customers and farmers would affectionately call him “Little Zelb” when they saw the young man unloading crates of collard greens from grocers' delivery trucks and helping the elderly customers with their shopping bags. And it turned their father-son relationship into a true friendship. Through the 1980s and 1990s, folks would fetch their wallets, purses, and baskets to purchase their groceries from “The Vegetable Man” when they heard the Hunters’ horn honking at the top of their street. People were always happy to see the father and son—and they, in turn, were delighted to see their customers. Demetrius Hunter recalls making deliveries with his father in College Park, Chavis Heights and Walnut Terrace. “These people patronized our business,” he says. “It was an economic boom for my dad. Every time

Demetrius Hunter’s “Horn of Plenty” crates ready to be delivered; team members load the truck.

he went out, his truck would be completely emptied. But that’s the way that the community supported the businesses in the area.” But the approach of the new millennium brought changes that would have a major impact on how the Hunters could do business. As North Carolina implemented the new Electronic Benefit Transfer cards in the mid-1990s, paper food stamp vouchers became a thing of

the past; they adjusted. And in 1999, a federal program called HOPE VI came to Raleigh, which demolished housing projects in Chavis Heights, Walnut Terrace, Halifax Court and College Park, in favor of a combination of lowincome and market-rate dwellings. It displaced hundreds of Black and Brown families from downtown Raleigh—and replaced much of the Hunters’ customer base with wealthier, predominately JULY 2020 | 35


Photography By: Smith Hardy

Tamalyn Karp, a sous-chef at N.C. State, receiving produce donations.

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white families who didn't know who they were. “Once the neighborhoods changed over, there was hardly any business,” says Demetrius Hunter. “People didn't come outside their houses; they knew nothing about the pick-up truck coming door to door.” A business built on generations of customer loyalty was in jeopardy. Once again, for this small business, modernization was the key to survival. Demetrius Hunter tapped his degrees in Human Resources from Cornell University and Organizational Management from St. Augustine University to guide the business through a sea of changes. “We shifted the business to take online ordes, and became licensed meat handlers,” he says. “It was a challenge, but I’m grateful for the challenge.” Zelb Hunter retired in 2008, and Demetrius Hunter worked to expand the operation—now under the name Grocers On Wheels—by creating the umbrella non-profit Southeast Raleigh Vicinity Emerging (SERVE) and building new relationships with up-andcoming local suppliers, as well as with public institutions. In 2010, he found an ally in Sonya Reid, program director of the depart-


ment of Wake County Human Services (WCHS). Reid petitioned for Grocers On Wheels to have a place to supply food to Wake County’s most vulnerable families—particularly in Southeast Raleigh, where the 2012 closing of two Kroger grocery stores cemented its status as a food desert. Finally, in 2015, Grocers On Wheels became the first outside vendor to sell their goods on the WCHS premises. In recent months, Demetrius Hunter’s grocery delivery services have become a vital part of the COVID-19 relief effort. Grocers on Wheels is the supplier for a food distribution program for residents in need built by Fertile Ground Co-Op Grocery Store and Southeast Raleigh Table, an affiliated faith community of Edenton Street United Methodist Church. Grocers On Wheels is also participating in a program designed by the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association called FarmSHARE (Farms Serving Hospitality and Restaurant Employees). Every week, they distribute a thousand crates of food—called Horn of Plenty boxes—from locally-owned, sustainable farms to restaurant and service workers in need across the Triangle, using restaurants as pick-up sites. Demetrius Hunter also recently secured funding from United Way to deliver produce boxes to rural areas in eastern Wake, Johnston and Orange counties—communities often under-assisted by charitable organizations that serve cities. As neighborhoods and needs have changed, Demetrius Hunter has adapted to new demands with grace and proficiency. And while the name and technology have changed, at its heart, Grocers on Wheels continues to build on his father’s legacy of providing healthy, fresh produce to his community—and the emphasis on relationshipbuilding, generosity and excellent customer service is the same as it was decades ago. “The lessons I learned from my father, and the stories he shared with me about our family history, are so valuable to me,” says Demetrius Hunter. “He gave me my life’s work: feeding and uplifting my community.”

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DRINK

From left to right: Designed For Joy co-founders Kristen Sydow and Cary Heise

Co-owners of Lola’s Beach Bar, Larry Carter, left, and Bobby Lewis, right.

ULTRA VIOLET The key to Bittersweet’s purple-hued Aviation: fresh-picked flowers from a nearby grower by ADDIE LADNER photography by EAMON QUEENEY 38 | WALTER


O

ff Athens Drive in Raleigh, rows of dainty, vibrantlycolored local Sorbet variety violets—not to be confused with their cousins, pansies —contrast with rows of more typical leafy greens. Starting in November and through early summer (heat permitting), these violets, hundreds of them, are harvested by Tami Purdue of Sweet Peas Urban Gardens in collaboration with The Well Fed Community Garden and delivered to downtown Raleigh bar and dessert stop Bittersweet. There, the flowers are delicately placed into a vessel in the middle of a threetiered glass-and-steel infusion tower that looks like something out of a chemistry lab. For five hours, these local blooms are steeped in Botanist Gin, a Scottish-made liquor known for its use of botanicals (the brand also designed the infusion tower). The gin slowly trickles through the velvet-soft petals until it lands in a glass beaker below, transformed into a brilliant purple, aromatic gin. The process is both a drink and a show—and the secret to one of Bittersweet’s most popular craft cocktails, The Bittersweet Aviation. Enjoy a slow, mindful sip; this drink worked hard to get to you, and that’s part of its appeal. A classic Aviation contains lemon juice, maraschino cherry, gin and crème de violette. Its name comes from the effect when the acid of the lemon meets

the lavender-hued liqueur: It produces a sky-blue color. But the Bittersweet Aviation is brought down to earth, literally. Bar manager Lewis Norton skips the crème de violette and uses the infused gin to create a bright-purple drink that looks and tastes like the row of flowers where it all started: crisp, floral and fresh. “It’s a seasonal bouquet at your nose and this total olfactory sensation,” says Norton. “The Aviation is a good cocktail to begin with, but there’s a huge difference between something that sits on a shelf and something that’s legitimately fresh. Once we made our version and people saw the color, everyone wanted one.” The infusion tower was a gift from the folks at Botanist Gin, who challenged Bittersweet to conjure up a unique cocktail with it. “Botanist is a botanical gin already, so I thought, why not infuse it with a local flower?” says Norton. Bittersweet patrons are often enthralled by the sight of the entire process, asking questions as they watch the gin drip through the flowers to produce the vibrant liquor. “The point of the machine is to take the infusion process and do it in a way that’s beautiful,” says Norton. This patch-to-pour mindset is second nature for Bittersweet. Bar owner Kim Hammer got her start in the food and beverage industry as a pastry chef, selling items at the Carrboro Farmers’ Market. During that time, she formed relationships with local growers and food purveyors and became committed to supporting area agriculture (Hammer also owns North Carolina food purveyor Raleigh Provisions). Now, at every opportunity, Bittersweet sources local vegetation and food products for their craft cocktails, like fresh rosemary from the North Carolina State Farmers Market for the bar’s Rosemary Gimlet or Two Chicks Farm pepper jelly for the Gin & Jam. At home, take Norton’s lead to infuse your own drinks with local flavor, whether that means plucking a mint garnish from the garden to complete a julep or tossing berries from the market into a glass of prosecco. You can even make

HOW TO MAKE A CLASSIC AVIATION Ingredients: 2 ounces Botanist Gin ½ ounce lemon juice ½ ounce Luxardo or other maraschino cherry liqueur 2 bar spoonfuls of crème de violette Pour all ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake, then strain into a chilled martini glass. Optional: garnish with fresh edible violets.

your own infusions, says Norton. The basic premise is to start with an alcohol (usually vodka or gin), add fruits, vegetables or herbs, then wait until you get a flavor you like. “Fresh flowers and herbs from the Farmers Market are a great starting point and have a pretty short infusion time, versus fruits and barks which can take weeks or months,” says Norton. “It’s fairly easy—you just need a lot of patience and regular testing.”

JULY 2020 | 39


SAVOR

“Our region is such a wonderful one for growing. We have all the vegetables here so it’s easy to eat seasonally.”

Courtesy Jeff Seizer

— Jeff Seizer

taste of SUMMER Royale chef and family man Jeff Seizer gives the food of his childhood a North Carolina spin by ADDIE LADNER

40 | WALTER

O

n a given weekday morning, you might find Jeff Seizer looking over the heirloom tomato section at the Ronnie Moore Farms stand at the Farmers Market, or searching for the sweetest blueberries and blackberries at a nearby berry patch with his wife, Sally Stark-Dreifus, and their two young children, Sophie and Luca. Seizer takes full advantage of North Carolina's spectrum of year-round offerings: Cherokee Purple tomatoes, Thai basil, chili peppers and more. These are not only staples at his downtown Ralegh bistro, Royale, but at his home, too. “Our region is such a wonderful one for growing,” says Seizer. “We have all the vegetables here, so it's easy to eat seasonally.” A lifestyle centered around food and family comes naturally to Seizer. Born


Dinner from the grill on Jeff Seizer's family table (recipes next page).

and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Seizer comes from a large Italian family. His mom was a single parent who worked as a college professor, so he planned the days’ menus alongside his grandmother. It was she who taught him the ways of the kitchen. “She was an amazing cook. Every Sunday, we had a huge family dinner,” he says. Stuffed artichokes, antipasti, meat, pasta and gravy (that’s red sauce, for the non-Italians out there) and cookies from local bakeries would fill the table. “Food was extremely sought after and praised,” he says. While Seizer could easily learn a recipe or the ways of a knife, he says his severe learning disabilities made it clear to him early on that college wouldn't be an option. Instead, he found his education in the kitchen and at the table with his family. “I wanted to cook. That was where it all started for me.”

Come summer, the Seizer family’s kitchen and garden are full of activity. Little hands turn ripe stone fruits and mint into refreshing popsicles. Homegrown rosemary and oregano elevate dressings for crisp salads. Cuts of chicken and sweet corn wait for the grill’s flame. “When Jeff is home, he loves cooking with the kids and teaching them,” says Stark-Dreifus. “Every year, we try to grow herbs and vegetables. This year has been more successful than others!” It’s a good thing, too, because Seizer and his family mastered homemade pizza, the quintessential food of his childhood, during the recent stay-athome order—just in time to top it with all of North Carolina’s summer bounty. “I had this rare opportunity to be at home, and I’d always wanted to dive into sourdough,” says Seizer, with a laugh to acknowledge that he wasn't the only

one. While a trained chef, Seizer says sourdough was uncharted territory. “My only advantage was I had a scale and mild knowledge of different flours.” He also had a chef's confidence and comfort with repetition. “When you cook professionally, you make four to six dishes, 100 times a day, every day, for a couple weeks or months,” he says. At home, he did the same, practicing with his sourdough starter (“Sweet Baby,” the family calls it) to get a perfectly soft-but-crusty pizza dough. It’s now a mainstay on their home menu. It’s all come full circle, Seizer says: not just the Italian-inspired recipes, but spending hours in the kitchen teaching his children about cooking in the same way that his grandmother taught him. “It’s about making the ordinary, extraordinary,” says Stark-Dreifus. Here, the family shares their go-to recipes. JULY 2020 | 41


Blueberry Lemon Cornmeal Muffins “We enjoy Jeff’s amazing cooking to the max, but I am always trying to incorporate healthy items into our meals. These muffins are so versatile and easy to make. You can substitute various fruits, citrus or herbs you have and kids love them as breakfast or snack.” —Sally Stark-Dreifus 2 cups ground oats or oat flour 1/2 cup cornmeal 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 egg 1/3 cup olive oil 2/3 cup sugar 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 2 cups fresh berries Zest of 1/2 lemon 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl. Mix the wet ingredients in a separate bowl, then gradually add the dry mixture to the wet ingredients until you get a smooth, pudding-like consistency. Fold in the berries. Portion out into a muffin tray. If desired, top with additional lemon zest and a sprinkling of sugar. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes.

Whole Wheat Bread

Maple BLT

454 grams (nearly 2 cups) sourdough starter 680 grams (5 1/2 cups) whole wheat flour 100 grams (1 cup) bread flour 2 teaspoons salt 2 teaspoons instant yeast 50 grams (1/2 cup) vegetable oil

“Mayo is the best for pan-toasting bread— better than butter.” —Jeff Seizer

Lightly mix all ingredients by hand or with a mixer to make an unfinished dough (it should not look fully mixed). Rest for 20 minutes.

Slab bacon for a thicker cut Maple syrup Fresh cracked black pepper Fresh local tomatoes Lettuce or leafy green of choice 1 garlic glove, mashed Good quality bread Good quality butter and mayonnaise

Knead the dough until smooth and slightly sticky, then transfer to a lightly oiled bowl. Let rise for 60 to 90 minutes, until it has more than doubled in size.

Place bacon on a baking sheet and brush with maple syrup. Sprinkle fresh-cracked black pepper on top. Bake at 375 degrees to your preferred texture.

Turn the dough out onto a floured table and fold a couple of times. Divide dough in half and loosely shape each into a loaf.

Pre-season the sliced tomatoes with salt and pepper.

Place the loaves in lightly greased bread pans and let rise again for 60 to 90 minutes, until the dough has risen above the rim of the pan. Near the end of rising, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until golden brown (an internal temperature of 210 degrees). Rest in the pan for 10 minutes then turn out onto a resting rack. Let the bread cool before removing, then enjoy!

42 | WALTER

Spread mayonnaise on both pieces of bread. Heat a pan to medium. Add a pat of butter and mashed glove of garlic. Toast bread to desired crispness. Assemble sandwich and enjoy.


Sourdough Pizza “A scale is a great tool if you’re into baking and pizza. Get creative with your toppings (corn, thinly sliced zucchini, various cured meats) and be generous with your flour. Bake on sheet trays or a preheated pizza stone.” —Jeff Seizer Ingredients: 500 grams (a little more than 2 cups) flour 312 grams (1 1/3 cups) of warm water 175 grams (3/4 cup) sourdough starter 38 grams (3 tablespoons) extra virgin olive oil 13 grams (3 teaspoons) of salt 13 grams (3 teaspoons) of sugar 1 gram (1/2 teaspoon) instant active yeast Weigh out all the ingredients, then mix in a bowl with your hands. Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl and leave out to rise at room temp for 2 to 3 hours.

Dinner from the Grill “I love to finish anything from the grill with a big squeeze of fresh lemon, EVOO and some thin-sliced radishes. The flavor of a bright herb marinade complements anything that comes from the gill.” —Jeff Seizer CHICKEN & VEGETABLES 1 whole chicken, cut into 8 parts Vegetables such as corn, ramps, eggplant, yellow peppers or summer squash HERB MARINADE 1 cup each of basil, parsley and cilantro Fresh herbs of your choice (in addition to the below, or as a substitution) 4 cloves garlic 1 tablespoon ground cumin 1 tablespoon ground fennel 1 tablespoon Zatar (optional) 1 tablespoon chili flakes (or less depending on desired spice level) Juice of one lemon 1 cup extra virgin olive oil Salt and pepper to taste Blend all ingredients except olive oil in a blender or food processor. Slowly add olive oil until combined. Marinate the chicken and vegetables (separately) overnight or for at least four hours.

STEAK FRIES 4 to 6 russet potatoes 4 tablespoons fresh rosemary chopped 4 cloves garlic, crushed Salt and pepper 2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil To prepare the steak fries: Wash and cut potatoes lengthwise, about 8 fries per potato. Toss fries in a bowl with rosemary, garlic, salt, pepper and olive oil. Bake at 375 degrees until tender. Cool and reserve for the grill. To finish potatoes on the grill: Once the grill is hot, place a cast iron pan on a hot spot with enough oil to coat the pan. Toss in the potatoes and fry until crisp and golden brown. Transfer to a plate and lightly salt.

Once it has begun to rise, cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 24 hours. Take out the dough and place it on a lightly floured surface. Separate into three equal portions, give each section a quick knead and mold into balls. Place each ball into individual greased bowls or small storage containers, then return to the refrigerator for 24 hours. Pull out dough one hour before you want to bake it. To prepare pizza: preheat oven (with pizza stone, if you have one) to 500 degrees. Stretch dough onto a pizza peal or sheet pan and top with desired ingredients. Turn on broiler and bake in oven for 6 to 10 minutes.

To grill the chicken and vegetables: The chicken can go right from the marinade to the grill. Season with salt once it's on. Keep an eye on the chicken so it does not catch fire. Don't be afraid to move it around. Cook for about 20 to 30 minutes, to an internal temperature of 165 degrees. When the chicken is almost done, throw on your corn and other vegetables. Grill until nice and charred, about 10 minutes. Plate the chicken, vegetables and steak fries, and enjoy!

JULY 2020 | 43


NOTED

In times of crisis, Celia Rivenbark redefines an idiom

left to our own DEVICES illustrations by JILLIAN OHL

44 | WALTER


M

y grandmother was Without “our devices,” I would nevthe queen of idioms, er have experienced the hilarity that particularly when she ensues when friends decided to learn was trying to keep my how to Zoom and Google Hangout and sister and me occupied Houseparty just so we could play a game on steaming summer afternoons in rural I invented: Drunken Hangman. Duplin County. No applause, please. “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop,” COVID-19 has left us all to our own she’d say with a wink. She wasn’t a holy devices. And that, my friends, is why I roller, she just liked spent a resaying it. She’d read cent Saturday us poetry or teach our night with my Being left to our own little fingers to play husband and devices isn’t a bad thing on a piano she kept friends taking tuned by a fella who turns playing a these days. It’s saving our drove all the way over Tiger Kingsanity and enabling us from Clinton. Or she’d themed game coach us on the Cateof hangman to stay in touch, laugh chism or challenge us via Google a little and actually to a card game called Hangout. And, get some work done. “Authors.” For very yes, there was young country kids, drinking inwe knew a ridiculous volved, because amount of fun facts it adds a bit about Alfred “Lloyd” of excitement Tennyson, as I thought to the exaghe was called. gerated and “Man is known by highly dramatthe company he keeps,” ic addition of she’d say. This one had a head, torso, bit more tooth in it— arms, legs and and I had the feeling (although I she was thinking of was opposed her older sister’s poor to it) fingers choice in a spouse. and toes. If you When speaking of him, she was fond of must know, my team lost. Naturally, saying, “she strolled through the garden I blame Carole Baskin. of love and picked a lemon!” Left to our own devices means FaceBut her favorite idiom was often used Timing for 20 minutes with the freakto “rescue” us from the abysmal choice ishly elongated chin of an elderly relative. of squeezing into her recliner to watch It’s not that her chin is exceedingly large a completely inappropriate Search For or jutting; it’s that it’s hard to hold the Tomorrow or The Edge of Night on a black phone just right sometimes. After a few and white console TV big enough to dou- earnest attempts to gently ask her to ble as a buffet in a pinch: “Oh, no! See “change the angle,” I made my peace with what happens when I leave you to your talking to her chin and it was all just fine. own devices!” Zoom is my preferred method of That expression is literal these days, communication with the gaggle of womisn’t it? We’re all left to our own devices, en friends I’ve loved for decades now. although from where I sit, we’re not so Together, we all raised our babies into much “left” as “restored by,” “salvaged by,” sometimes sulky teens and now work“sustained by” and—yes—“saved by” our ing professionals scattered into the real devices. Amen. world like so much birdshot.

With Zoom, I can see my girlfriends’ smiling faces—wearing makeup, just like me, because it makes things feel almost normal—on one screen divided into nine perfect blocks. It’s like the opening credits for The Brady Bunch, if little Cindy and Bobby were holding oversized goblets of pinot grigio, that is. It’s wine time with these women, and we look forward to it every week. Our sacred catch-up—that was usually shared in a local restaurant—can now be observed on a porch, a kitchen counter, or even (when I threw my back out) from the cold hardwood of my bedroom floor. (“Why the hell are you sideways?”) Left to my own devices means I grudgingly bequeathed my Kindle to Darling Daughter because, well, I have two and I’m not a complete jerk. I don’t think. Left to our own devices means different things for my daughter and husband. She spent mornings remote-teaching her kindergarten class back in Charlotte, using two laptops and a phone. She uploaded videos of herself reading popular children’s books on YouTube for the class and I pretended to not listen… but, honestly, it made my heart sing hearing her read How Do Plants Help Us? with a happy little lilt I imagine little kids would find quite comforting. I know I do. Left to his own devices means my husband is always on his phone or his laptop because his job at New Hanover Regional Medical Center has morphed into coordinating aid (everything from protective equipment to a home-cooked meal) for employees and finding beds for homeless folk who test positive. He wakes up at night in a sweat, not from fever, but from fear of what’s to come for patients and staff. For what’s to come for any of us. Being left to our own devices isn’t a bad thing these days. It’s saving our sanity and enabling us to stay in touch, laugh a little and actually get some work done. Grandmother couldn’t have imagined these “devices,” but I have a feeling she would’ve embraced them—at least long enough to check in on me and my sister while we gazed, amused, at just her earlobe. JULY 2020 | 45


Sites along Neuse River Greenway


Four walks along the Mountains-to-Sea Trail offer a chance to experience the diversity of North Carolina

take a

HIKE by JIM GRODE photography by GEOFF WOOD JULY 2020 | 47


Great blue heron on the Neuse River

T

he Mountains-toSea Trail (MST) is exactly what its name implies—a 1,175-mile trail that crosses North Carolina from Clingmans Dome in Great Smoky Mountains National Park near the Tennessee line to Jockey’s Ridge on the Outer Banks. Roughly 60 percent of the trail is on natural surface, greenway trail, unpaved forest roads or beach—much of it officially designated as MST by State Parks. In between, a series of connectors on back roads knits together finished sections to span the state. The MST has roots in the 1973 North Carolina Trails System Act, which aimed to develop more publicly-accessible trails for people to enjoy nature. A 1977 speech by Howard N. Lee, then the secretary of the Department of Natural Resources and Community Development, proposed

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“establishing a state trail between the mountains and the seashore in North Carolina,” but the idea wasn’t officially incorporated into the North Carolina State Park System until 2000. Since then, a combination of regional, state and volunteer efforts—particularly by the Friends of the MST, which was formed in 1997—has grown the trail from a disjointed hodgepodge of trail sections into a complete, well-defined route across the state. The MST passes through thirty-seven counties, four national parks, three national forests, two national wildlife refuges, ten state parks, four state game lands, onee state forest, one state historic site, and numerous local parks and protected areas, and alongside several al

lakes and reservoirs. Unlike many other long-distance trails, the MST does not try to be exclusively a wilderness trail. Instead, it traces the diversity that is North Carolina; from ancient mountains to small Piedmont farms, coastal swamps to colonial towns, barrier islands to changing textile villages, it is as much about the people and culture of the state as about the natural landscape. In I Great Day Hikes on North Carolina’s MountainsNo to-Sea Trail, editor Jim toGrode and the Friends of Gr the MST traveled the length th of the MST to find smaller segments that showcase se the diversity of North th Carolina’s topography C aand civilization. Here, we’re highlighting four w hikes from the book, each h within an hour or so of w Raleigh.


THE HAW RIVER TRAIL: GREAT BEND PARK TO STONEY CREEK MARINA Distance: 2.9 miles one-way; 5.8 miles round-trip This trail captures a slice of one of the most important economic engines in the Piedmont of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries: textiles. From the rapidly flowing, rocky river that provided the power, to the village where the mill workers lived, to the mills that produced the textiles, you will encounter the full range of the industry. In between, enjoy the beautiful woods, wildlife, and nature sounds along this diverse stretch. From the Great Bend Park parking lot, the trail goes down into a field and turns left at a T-intersection. After a couple of hundred yards, it reaches the banks of the Haw River and begins heading downstream. The trail soon passes a pad-

dle access and the half-mile-long Island Trail. The side trail here crosses over the head of an old mill race (which forms the island for which the trail is named) and overlooks the dam that provided water used by the Glencoe Cotton Mill, the three-story Italianate mill just downstream, to generate power. About 250 yards farther, the trail reaches the Glencoe Mill and Mill Village Historic District. Many of the historic mill buildings and homes in the village, which dates from the 1880s, have been painstakingly restored and have found new owners and modern uses. The main mill offices and company store are now the Textile Heritage Museum, which showcases life in Carolina mill towns from the late 1800s through the 1950s and includes artifacts such as a loom and knitting machines as well as mill and company store products. After going through the streets of the village, the MST returns to the Haw Riv-

er Trail, which takes on a more natural feel as it meanders through woods along the banks of the Haw. After a mile of serene walking with few signs of human development, it passes behind an old mill building, then crosses two roads in succession. A short but moderately steep climb here leads to the shores of Stoney Creek Reservoir. After another half mile meandering along the curves of the lake, the trail reaches the marina and the end of the hike. Where to park: Great Bend Park (350 Greenwood Drive,, Burlington) or Stony Creek Marina (1785 Faulkner Drive, Burlington)

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HILLSBOROUGH’S RIVERWALK: GOLD PARK TO OCCONEECHEE SPEEDWAY Distance: 2.1 miles one-way; 4.2 miles round-trip Hillsborough is one of the most historic towns in North Carolina. At the heart of the 1765–71 Regulator uprising against the British leading up to the Revolutionary War, it was later home to the North Carolina legislature during the war itself. This hike passes along the Eno River to the center of this bustling town, then, turning to more recent history, the hike continues to the Occoneechee Speedway, one of the first two NASCAR racetracks to open in the inaugural 1949 season. Numerous informational panels along the trail provide a wealth of information about the area’s history and ecology. The hike begins on the sidewalk through the open area of Gold Park. Just before 50 | WALTER

reaching the Eno River (considered one of the most important ecological areas in the Triangle), the route turns left onto the MST and Hillsborough’s Riverwalk, a paved greenway. Leaving Gold Park, the path passes a pollinator garden, then crosses under the railroad tracks on a covered walkway. Just before reaching a bridge over the Eno, the path turns right. Turning left here instead leads to Calvin St., where another left turn leads to the restaurants of West End Hillsborough. Just past the bridge, the MST turns left; the trail straight ahead forms part of the Peggy Cates Bartow Loop, named for an early champion of the Riverwalk who donated some of the land for the trail. The path continues meandering along the south bank of the Eno for about half a mile before crossing the Eno again and turning right on a boardwalk. Continuing straight ahead instead takes hikers to the shops, historic sites and restaurants of historic downtown Hillsborough. The MST crosses under Exchange Park Lane and Churton

Street and through River Park, then continues past the Occaneechi Village Replica Site, a reconstructed seventeenth-century Native American village. At mile 1.5, the trail enters historic Ayr Mount Plantation, a Classical American Homes Preservation Trust property. Continuing across Elizabeth Brady Road, the trail comes to the Historic Occoneechee Speedway Trail. Parking and the trailhead are at the road, but it is worthwhile to continue another quarter mile or so to see the historic racetrack. Here, the forest becomes much thicker and noticeably quieter than it was previously. Although most of the speedway area is now forested, the grandstands and much of the old dirt track are still visible, along with the remains of several other structures. Where to park: Gold Park (415 Dimmocks Mill Road, Hillsborough) or Historic Occoneechee Speedway Trail (320 Elizabeth Brady Road, Hillsborough)


RALEIGH’S NEUSE RIVER GREENWAY: BUFFALOE ROAD TO MILBURNIE PARK Distance: 4.4 miles one-way; 8.8 miles round-trip Raleigh’s Neuse River Trail stretches almost 28 miles from Falls Lake Dam to the Johnston County line, where it changes name and continues on into the town of Clayton. The paved greenway, as the name suggests, parallels the Neuse River for most of its length. It runs concurrently with the MST for its entire length. This hike includes one of the most scenic portions of the greenway. Near the end of the hike is the former site of the Milburnie Dam. This 15-foothigh dam, built in 1900 (previous dams date back to the late 1700s), was the last remaining impoundment on the Neuse below Falls Lake. The dam was removed in 2017, allowing the Neuse to run unimped-

ed over 200 miles from Falls Lake to the Pamlico Sound. Before its removal, the Milburnie Dam created a nearly seven-mile-long lake that stretched the entire length of this hike. Thus, hikers on this stretch have an opportunity to watch the progress of the river environment returning to its natural state: mudflats transforming into meadows, wetlands, and forests; native fish returning to their historic spawning grounds upstream; and riffles and rapids forming as the river channel returns to its original bed. The hike begins downstream of the Buffaloe Road bridge over the Neuse, at the Buffaloe Road boat access. A short spur leads to the MST proper, where hikers will turn right to continue downstream. Half a mile down, a trail on the right leads to Buffaloe Road Athletic Park, and just beyond, the trail crosses the Neuse River for the first time. Over the next two miles, the trail continues through woods close to the riverside, crossing several smaller creeks

and wetlands, before crossing the Neuse again on the Skycrest Suspension Bridge. At 275 feet, this is one of the longest pedestrian suspension bridges in North Carolina. Four miles in is the former Milburnie Dam site. Just below, this hike turns right from the MST onto a spur trail to the road and parking area, but if you go another tenth of a mile, there’s another bridge over the Neuse that provides good views back over the Milburnie Dam site. Where to park: Buffaloe Road boat access (4901 Elizabeth Dr., Raleigh.) or Milburnie Park (5428 Allen Dr., Raleigh)

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About Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail Friends of the Mountains-toSea Trail is a growing community of members and volunteers who support the MST. The organization works statewide to build and maintain the trail, advocate for new sections, improve the existing route, create hiking resources and encourage individuals and businesses to financially support the trail. Learn more about Friends and the MST at mountainstoseatrail.org. The hikes featured in this excerpt, along with the other hikes in Great Day Hikes on North Carolina’s Mountains-to-Sea Trail, are all part of Friends of the MST’s “40 Hike Challenge.” Visit mountainstoseatrail.org/challenges to learn more about how to complete the challenge and win a prize.

Young bikers on the Neuse River Greenway

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BENTONVILLE BATTLEFIELD: HARPER HOUSE TO COLE PLANTATION Distance: 2.3 miles one-way; 4.6 miles round-trip Bentonville Battlefield is the site of North Carolina’s largest Civil War battle, fought on March 19–21, 1865. The Battle of Bentonville was the last significant attempt to stop Gen. William T. Sherman’s march through the Carolinas, and marked the last time the Confederate army was able to mount a tactical offensive against the Union. The ensuing defeat considerably weakened the Confederacy’s last remaining armies. The Bentonville Battlefield State Historic Site now includes more than 2,000 acres of the battlefield. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1996. This hike follows a recently opened trail that meanders through woods and 54 | WALTER

fields, along the 1865 battle lines, and across surviving remnants of earthworks built for the battle. It is well-marked with interpretive panels and plaques and historical displays that help hikers envision how the battle unfolded. The hike and surrounding areas also provide a glimpse into why Friends of the MST calls this segment the “Agricultural Heartland.” Johnston County ranks fourth in North Carolina in crop production and eighth in agriculture overall, and much of the agricultural land is concentrated in the south of the county, where this hike is located. The hike begins at the Bentonville Battlefield Visitor Center, which features an audiovisual program and a large fiber-optic map exhibit depicting the first day of the battle, as well as several other maps and exhibits. The neighboring Harper House is furnished as a Civil War field hospital. From the visitor center, the route crosses Mill Creek Church Road

and continues through an open field to a gap in earthworks, next to a cannon, where it enters the woods and begins the self-guided historic trail. For the first mile, the route goes back and forth between woods and fields, finally coming out and staying mostly along the edges of agricultural fields for the last 1.2 miles. The hike ends at the Cole Plantation Loop Walking Trail parking lot, where another 1.5-mile loop trail explores more of the battlefield. Where to park: Bentonville Battlefield (5466 Harper House Road, Four Oaks) or Cole Plantation Loop Walking Trail (5466 Harper House Road, Four Oaks)

Adapted from Great Day Hikes on North Carolina’s Mountains-to-Sea Trail edited by Jim Grode. Copyright 2020 by the Friends of the Mountain to Sea Trail. Used by permission of the University of North Carolina Press.


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Ella Perry, 90, President of the Panther Branch Alumni Association, which spearheaded preservation efforts of the Panther Branch Rosenwald School.

saving a SCHOOL A community works together to restore a pillar of early education for black children by LORI D. R. WIGGINS photographs by BOB KARP


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W

When Ella Perry reminisces about elementary school, she’s thinking of a framed one-story, weatherboard building in Garner. But she’s also thinking of a time when African American children were dependent on the strength, vitality and sacrifice of their community—and an unprecedented atmosphere of interracial collaboration—for their schooling. Perry is 90 now. And that weatherboard building—the Panther Branch Rosenwald School—now belongs to Juniper Level Missionary Baptist Church (JLMBC). For nearly two decades, Panther Branch alumni have worked along with the JLMBC Alliance, a fiduciary arm of the church, to champion 58 | WALTER

the restoration and preservation of the building. “It’s keeping memories alive,” said Perry. “That school means so much, especially to those of us who are still living.” THE ROSENWALD ANSWER In the early 1900s, there was little American investment in the education of African-American children in the rural South—beyond, perhaps, scant shanty school structures and barely-educated teachers. Philanthropist Julius Rosenwald helped fill the gap. Rosenwald was the son of German -Jewish immigrants, who made a fortune as president of Sears, Roebuck and Company. In 1911, he met black educator Booker T. Washington, the son of slaves and founder of the Tuskegee Institute (of which Rosenwald soon became a

trustee). Up to this point, other philanthropists and religious denominations had successfully launched upper-level training grounds, including Shaw and St. Augustine’s Universities in Raleigh, but one void remained: the education of young black children. Washington asked Rosenwald to help him improve their opportunities. At the time, Rosenwald had a history of using matching grants to help fund black YMCAs and agreed to do the same to start a few small, rural Alabama schools. The way it worked: Rosenwald would use his own funds, but require matching investments from local governments, school systems and residents. That way, he reasoned, his philanthropy could push states toward greater public responsibility and inspire interactions between the races for greater good.


BEHIND THE SCENES Clockwise from left: Rivera, Blanford and Athans in the desk area, overlooking the studio; the teleprompter tells them what to say, when to ad-lib and when to stop; at the desks; a monitor shows one of the sets; Michael Perchick at his desk; shoe collection; Clark applies his makeup.

Opposite and this page: Constructed in 1926, the Panther Branch Rosenwald School is one of four extant Rosenwald School buildings in Wake County, out of twenty-one that were built from 1921 through 1926. Here’s how it looked in March, with restoration efforts underway.

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Opposite page: Scenes from inside the Panther Branch Rosenwald School. It closed in 1957, three years after Brown v. Board of Education deemed public school segregation unconstitutional.

“I remember walking two miles to school every morning; 50 to 60 children walking together, respecting each other.” – Ella Perry

The first Rosenwald School was built in 1913. By 1915, the year Washington died, they’d built more than 80 schools across three states. After his death, the Rosenwald Fund was established to continue the work. By the time the program ended in 1932, they had built more than 5,350 Rosenwald schools, homes for teachers and vocational education spaces in 15 states. North Carolina outpaced all other states, constructing 813 Rosenwald buildings, including 787 schools, 18 teacher’s homes and eight vocational education shops. Wake County alone was home to 21 schools. “EVERYONE IS HAPPY” The Panther Branch School (also now known as the Juniper Level School) opened in 1926 for children from kindergarten through sixth grade. It closed in 1957, three years after Brown v. Board of Education deemed segregation in public school unconstitutional. Other Rosenwald Schools faced a similar fate. But by then, countless children had been benefactors of what is said to be the most significant advancement to black education in the 20th century. They had better schools, better teachers and opportunities that surpassed the previous, substandard offerings. They also made sweet memories. “I remember walking two miles to school every morning; 50 to 60 children walking together, respecting each other,” said Perry, a Shaw University alumna and retired Wake County educator. On early arrivals, she recalls, “my brothers would make the fire in the big, potbelly stove. We would huddle around the stove until we got warm; then, we would have devotion.” Perry smiled. “We’d sing Good Morning, Merry Sunshine,” she said, singing the lyrics, “Good morning, merry sunshine! How did you wake so soon?” They

also welcomed each day with the Lord’s Prayer, a “salute to the flag” and, lastly, America the Beautiful. On Fridays, the girls learned to knit and crochet while the boys had 4H and Boy Scouts. In the evenings and on weekends, community women learned home-making tips. And in the summer, a bookmobile operated as a library. Everything was community-driven. “I listened to my dad talk about how the men in the community built the school,” said Perry. The timber came from her uncle’s farm, and neighbor farmers donated nails and other materials. “That’s the way it was then,” she added. “One big family. We became very close. We saw each other every day; at school throughout the week, and we worshipped together on Sunday.” Like their ancestors, the alumni group and the Alliance have hosted countless community-wide fundraisers over the years to raise money for the restoration project. There have been golf tournaments, Community Days, a 12 Tribes of Israel series and a standing-room-only Baby Contest. Perry is pleased. “It’s been overwhelming, but very enjoyable—and very rewarding,” she said, applauding community support. “People have worked hard to see that school right there, in that community, restored for the people in that community. Everyone is happy to see that building restored.” WAKE COUNTY JEWEL Many Rosenwald Schools have disappeared. Most were either abandoned, bulldozed or considerably altered by overseers unaware of their history; others have fallen short on resources during restoration attempts. Today, only four remain in Wake County: Panther Branch, the W.E.B. DuBois School in Wake Forest; Riley Hill School in Wendell; and St. Matthews School in JULY 2020 | 61


Knightdale. Each is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Panther Branch is the only one registered as a Wake County Historic Landmark, said Gary Roth, president and CEO of Capital Area Preservation, Inc., which helps the Wake County Historic Preservation Commission preserve and promote the use of districts and landmarks for education, enrichment and fun. “All the bones were there; it had been maintained, to a degree, and best preserved,” Roth said of the Panther Branch building. “It was a prime candidate to be brought back to its original appearance—and it has got the church and its group of alumni that recognizes the significance of it and that really cares about it. That makes it stand out. It’s our little jewel in Wake County.” The Panther Branch project broke ground in 2009 with a Community Day sponsored by Perry’s alumni group and the JLMBC Alliance. With the expertise of downtown Raleigh firm Maurer Architecture and two grants from the Rosenwald Foundation, restoration started on the 3,000-square-foot building in March 2013. It’s been 30 years in the making, said Rev. Jeffrey Robinson, pastor of Juniper Level Church. The school building had been used as a fellowship hall in the 1980s; nothing since. “Just to see the doors open again, it’s major for us,” said Robinson. “It’s going to strengthen our church’s faith.” In Phase I, the building was cleaned and rid of asbestos, replica windows were installed and the outside was painted. In Phase II, the original pillars and footing supports were hoisted into the air to shore up the foundation. Phase III is underway, with HVAC, electrical, plumbing, sheetrock and other finishing touches. The Panther Branch building will become a fellowship hall for meetings, weddings and receptions, as well as a center for community outreach. “I am excited 62 | WALTER

about the progress we’ve made,” Perry said, crediting alumni for the money to replace the roof, windows and floors. COMMUNITY AND FAMILY Community connections to Panther Branch Rosenwald School run as deep as the roots of the juniper tree that gives the nearby church its name. When Jansen Mitchell of Squared Corners Construction company entered the bidding process in Phase I of the restoration project, he unknowingly reached back to his own family history: His grandfather, James Turner, had attended Panther Branch. With Squared Corners’ bid and plans for the third phase of the project approved, Mitchell is gearing up to complete the restoration project. “It means a lot to me that I’m working on the school where one of the men I look up to the most got his start in education,” said Mitchell. “I’m honored to be able to do this.” His grandfather started school at Panther Branch in 1943 and has especially fond memories of the biscuits and cornbread they ate at the Masonic Lodge across the street. Turner, in turn, is proud to watch his grandson carve a path from a blueprint left by his own footprints—he owned Turner Construction, Co., specializing in water, sewer and underground power lines. Of the renovation, Turner says: “It’s going to be great to see.” William Johnson, 81, has “a lot of memories” of the school: classroom partitions opened for Friday plays, taking his turn to fire up the potbelly stove and riding to school with his aunt, who was the principal. These memories make the preservation efforts worthwhile. “That was where I first started my education. It’s my roots, where I began,” he said. “The school will hold those memories, so it’s a duty—and an honor, in a sense—to do whatever I can to preserve it.”

Clockwise from the top: From left to right: William Johnson, l, Thomas Wilder, Henry Harrington, Peggy Harrington, Helen Stephens Sneed, Irving Stephens, Pearline Fowler, Clarice Bank and Ella Perry standing in front of their former school. The Juniper Level Missionary Baptist Church as seen from the inside of the Panther Branch Rosenwald School. An artifact from inside the school.

“The school will hold those memories, so it’s a duty— and an honor, in a sense—to do whatever I can to preserve it.” – William Johnson


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fresh CUT A movement toward locally-grown, seasonal flowers has created a community of farmers that blends aesthetics with agriculture by JESSIE AMMONS RUMBLEY photography by LIZ CONDO

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Opposite page: A rainbow of Champagne Bubbles Icelandic Poppies at Sassafras Fork Farm. This page: Hannah Ross Clarke, co-owner of Wylde, harvests flowers from her garden.

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“F

lowers connect people in so many ways,” says Stephanie Hall of Sassafras Fork Farm in Rougemont. “They connect us to the simple beauty nature offers, they connect us to memories and our past, they connect us to joy and happiness, they connect us to seasonality and natural rhythms, and they connect us together through sharing these soul-soothing natural beauties.” Hall is part of the Triangle’s expanding industry of growers and florists invested in producing seasonal, unique blooms like maroon lysimachia, black and lavender anemones and hot-pink ranunculus. With firm roots in Southern gardening, the women who lead 66 | WALTER

these farms find joy in harvesting the art of the field for an increasingly captive audience, from market shoppers to wedding and event planners. ROOTS IN SOUTHERN GARDENING Full-time flower-growing is not a hobby—it comes with all the same hard work as farming. But of the more than one dozen Triangle farmers focusing on flowers, many of them credit at least some of their interest to household gardens. “Gardening, in many Southern families, is a bit of a way of life,” says Kelly Morrison of Color Fields in Durham. “My grandmother and my aunts were always splitting perennials and giving them to each other.” Morrison started her own farm in 2014, where she grows

around 40 flower varieties on about an acre of land, mostly for weddings and wholesale orders. “Growing up, my father always had a really beautiful garden in our yard, and I know that’s part of what led me to this profession,” says Alice White of Bluebird Meadows, the 30-acre farm in Hurdle Mills where she grows more than 100 flower varieties, mostly to sell at the farmers market and through flower subscriptions. Gardening likewise inspires florists, including the artful Raleigh design studio, Wylde. “When we design with cut flowers, we think about all of those senses of movement and light and form that you observe in the garden, in the meadow, in the woods,” says Hannah


Opposite page: Stephanie Hall, owner of Sassafras Fork Farm. This page: Field manager Nely Ogaz harvests snapdragons; antique seed packets decorate a corner of the flower shed. Hall met Ogaz and her sister, design manager Ado Ogaz in 2015. They were Hall’s first hires for the farm. “Nely and Ado are the most joyful, spirited, positive women,” she says.

Ross Clarke of Wylde. Clarke has a background in sustainable agriculture and today maintains a small garden plot near downtown Raleigh, where she grows unusual varieties to complement the other local blooms that she and business partner Nikelle Orellana-Reyes include in their arrangements. Even on a larger scale, the spirit of gardening is alive and well in these farms. During her early vegetable farming days, White “fell in love with flowers and the color that they are able to convey, that living color,” she says. Flowers are “little bundles of beauty” in the field, agrees Hall, who grows flowers on two of the 150 acres at Sassafras Fork Farm. Growing them also makes good business sense, especially for small farmers.

Cut flowers yield a higher profit margin than fruits and vegetables, Morrison says, which enables farmers to make a living and, hopefully, own their farmland (many farmers rent). And in turn, financial stability means farmers are more likely to prioritize sustainable practices and thoughtful production, she says. “Growing a higher-value crop, like flowers, allows a farmer to be a better steward.” RESPONDING TO THE SEASONS The Triangle’s flower scene has evolved tremendously in the last decade. White was one of the first local flower farmers when she started her farm in 2006. At the time, there were a few other celebrated longtime local growers—including Peregrine Farm in

Graham and Wild Hare Farm in Cedar Grove—but not much of an industry beyond farmers markets. In the early years, White focused on vegetables more than flowers, responding to the demand of customers at her home market, Durham Farmers’ Market. Since then, what’s called the “slow flower” movement has taken off across the nation, promoting American-grown flowers, especially those sourced locally, seasonally and sustainably. In 2014, Durham resident Maggie Smith opened Pine State Flowers, the Triangle’s first flower shop to specialize in locally grown flowers. Not long after, Orellana-Reyes founded Wylde, creating artful, seasonally inspired florals. Simultaneously, wedding trends favored JULY 2020 | 67


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looser, more organically shaped bouquets. “It’s like when local food was just emerging in restaurants,” recalls Morrison. “You see all this potential. It was the same with flowers.” Among the Triangle flower-farming community, the potential was—and is—exciting. Hall recalls talking to Smith about six years ago, just before Pine State Flowers opened. “I remember thinking, ‘oh my gosh, it’s coming, the local flower movement is really starting here,’” says Hall. It was one of the first moments that bolstered her to focus exclusively on flowers. “I battled with giving up growing produce, just because food is a necessity whereas flowers are, well, not,” she says. But Hall reminded herself that locally grown blooms do have a place. “The neat thing about local flowers is that customers can get varieties they normally wouldn’t be able to find,” she says, noting that even in more common flowers like tulips, the locally-grown versions offer stronger scents and more color variation. White says her farm priorities shifted gradually, as well. “Flowers are most certainly my passion and my drive,” she says. But in the beginning, “I felt like a market table would bring in more people, and the farm would be more successful with vegetables.” Sixteen years later, Bluebird Meadows now fills about 60 percent of its field space with native blooms. “I’ve come to really love and admire native plants. Beyond being best-suited to grow in our area, they bring in all kinds of pollinators,” she says. Likewise, Hall’s Sassafras Fork, which she owns and runs with her parents and husband, today forgoes vegetables to focus on meat and flowers, “the petals and the pasture.” To reflect the evolving industry, Morrison helped found Piedmont Wholesale, a co-op of ten flower farms that offers a one-stop-shop for local wholesalers, such as Orellana-Reyes and Clarke of Wylde, as well as limited public shopping hours and deliveries. While the success of mainstays like Bluebird Meadows relies on farmers markets, “the movement to sell to florists has grown,” Morrison says, especially among newer

Opposite page: Alice and Stuart White, co-owners of Bluebird Meadows. This page, top to bottom: A ladybug rests on the stalk of a bachelor’s button plant; a storage shed at Bluebird Meadows.

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“When we design… we think about the senses of movement and light and form that you observe in the garden, in the meadow, in the woods.” —Hannah Ross Clarke 70 | WALTER


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How to Get the Most out of Cut Flowers Pine State Flowers shared tips on how to extend the life of a bouquet.

• Clear stems of leaves and shoots to make sure there’s no foliage under the waterline.

• Cut stems at a diagonal angle (trim them every other day, or at least once, for ideal water absorption).

• Place into a vase three-quarters of the way full of cool water. Plan to swap in fresh water every other day.

• Display your blooms in a cool, well-lit space. Keep your bou -quet away from fruit, which can produce a gas that can shorten its lifespan.

• Keep flowers in the narcissus family (like daffodils and paper whites) in a vase on their own; these produce a sap when cut that can affect other flowers.

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and smaller farmers. “We want to create something that’s really beautiful by showcasing what’s in season and highlighting the beauty from local farmers,” says Orellana-Reyes. A NEW FARMING COMMUNITY Whether growing for market, for brides, for florists, or for all of the above, there is a sense of camaraderie among the flower farmers. “We’re all working together,” Hall says. If she gets a request for a specific bloom, for instance, and she can’t accommodate, she’s quick to recommend other local farms in return. Same goes at market; when shoppers buy eggs, beef, and flowers from Hall and her dad at South Durham Farmers’ Market and want

veggies to round out the haul, Hall and team are happy to share their favorite growers. Slow flowers, after all, aren’t that different from slow food. “Flower production is a crop just like any other crop,” Morrison says. Yes, technically it may be just another crop—but visiting a North Carolina flower farm, it would be hard to agree. When you step onto any of these largerthan-life flower patches, it’s an experience unlike any other: the fields are blanketed in color, the air is filled with perfume and butterflies and bees bounce from bloom to bloom. Farming can be tough, says Morrison of Color Fields, but it’s worth it. “I get joy from flowers,” she says. “Growing them calms me.”


Opposite page: Nikelle Orellana-Reyes, left, and Hannah Ross Clarke, the owners of Wylde, in their floral design studio. This page, clockwise from top: Gardening tools rest beside a garden bed in the Wylde flower garden; a bouquet by Orellana-Reyes; Clarke in her garden.

Seasonal Flowers in the Triangle Here’s what to look for from local growers at any time of the year. SPRING Foxglove Peony Snapdragon Poppy Anemone Ranunculus Daffodil Tulip Delphinium (Larkspur) Flowering branches like Dogwood, Spirea, Redbud

SUMMER Sunflower Rudbeckia (Black-Eyed Susan) Rose Zinnia Hydrangea Cosmo Lisianthus Dahlia Echinacea

FALL Dahlia Heirloom Mum Goldenrod Aster Amaranth Eucalyptus Scabios Jewels of Opar (Fame Flower) Beautyberry

WINTER Anemone Paper White Amaryllis Hellebores (Lenten Rose) Various grasses and budding branches

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Inside this new-build, every space is infused with personality

PATTERN PLAY by AYN-MONIQUE KLAHRE photographs by CATHERINE NGUYEN

“I

love to mix patterns,” laughs Courtney Driver. “I’m a funky monkey!” Inside her Drewry Hills home, the mostly-white walls are a foil for her exuberant love of design. “Mix it all, I say! I like to throw a million patterns and textures on top of each other.” But the house is more than self-decorated: Driver had a vision for what she wanted, inside and out, and this home was her opportunity to create it. She and her daughters have lived in the North Raleigh neighborhood for a long time and she was excited when a lot opened up where she could create her dream home from scratch. “I’d never built a house before, even though I’d always wanted to,” she says. “I’d been mentally planning for a long time.” Driver worked with architect Tony Frazier of Frazier Home Design and builder Paul Baggett of Allure Homes to bring her vision to life. “When I met with the architect, I had my own renderings. I knew the square footage of the kitchen and living room I wanted based on my last house, and I had pictures of three home exteriors that I loved,” says Driver. “I just needed Tony to match the inside to the outside—and I needed someone to make it come to fruition.” Baggett agrees: “Courtney was the driving factor on most of the design elements, we just helped them all fall into place.” The wide-open, welcoming space matches her family’s lifestyle. “There is nothing calm about this house,” she laughs. “It’s always full of people!” With her extended

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LIVING ROOM Courtney Driver worked with builder Paul Baggett of Allure Homes to add the reclaimed oak beams to the multi-functional living room, which opens into the dining area, patio and kitchen. “We do everything in here,” says Driver. The decor for the most-utilized room in the house started with the rug, which she already had, and a sectional recovered in a patterned fabric that hides stains and wear. “I recognize that they are conflicting patterns, but they’re both organic and linear, and since they’re muted colors they just sort of blend together,” she says. Six smaller tables make up the coffee table, which can be pulled apart and rearranged. Inside the shelves are her treasures, including a sculpture of a ram she picked up in Sedona (the artist, coincidentally, was from Chapel Hill), art by her daughters and framed letters from her late mother. The finishing touch in the room is the twig chandelier. “Everything is meaningful to us,” she says. “It’s eclectic and fun.”

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family in the Raleigh area, Driver is often the host for holidays and family events, so having a space that allowed for hanging out together for big family meals was key. That’s why the kitchen, dining area, bar and living room all open up to each other, and to the covered patio, as well. Another key element: storage. “I’m a knick-knacky kind of person, so I did a lot of built-ins in the whole house,” Driver says. “Every time I travel, I try to get some type of art or funky pottery, and I need a place to display all of that.” Her decor style is eclectic, traditional and modern mashed up in a playful, forget-the-rules way. “I make a decision quickly—not sure whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing—and I had a blast getting our home together,” she says. “I definitely know what I like.” 76 | WALTER


KITCHEN “I cook a lot—like, a lot—so I wanted the kitchen to be wide open and spacious, where you could engage with people in the living area,” says Driver. “I didn’t want to be cooking there alone for hours.” She designed the space to be elegant, but functional and easy to maintain. The cleanlined cabinet fronts were a must, as was the oversize hood trimmed in brass that brings warmth to the room and bridges it to the adjoining living room.

COZY NOOK An alcove between the kitchen and living area is a favorite zone. “The purpose was to create a spot for coffee or a glass of wine,” says Baggett. “They’re drinking chairs!” And sure enough, it’s instantly inviting: “That’s the first place people go when they head into the house,” says Driver. She had both the chairs and the cowhide rug when she moved into the space. “I don’t sit there and analyze what’s going to look good, I just do it and if I like it, I keep it,” she says.

BUTLER’S PANTRY Opposite the nook is a bar area that’s easy to access from both the kitchen and dining room. Its wooden shelves echo the beams in the living room, and it gets a shot of texture from patterned tiles flecked in gold. Driver wanted the tiles in the kitchen, but that would have put her over budget, so she used them here. “I had to reign myself in a bit,” she says. “I couldn’t get everything that I wanted.”

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DINING ROOM In contrast to the rest of the home, which is anchored by white walls, Driver knew at the outset that she wanted black-lacquered paneling—“Walls that shine like the Eiffel Tower!”—in the dining room. “I wanted it to feel totally different,” she says. She already had the hot-pink chairs, and when she found the tiger-dragon wallpaper, she fell in love. “Even though it’s a strong pattern, since it’s made up of neutral colors, it can go with anything,” she says. The lucite chandelier is another favorite find. The built-ins store formal dinnerware and offer a buffet area for serving meals.

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BACK PATIO The back patio is a three-season space, thanks to cushy furnishings and a fireplace. “The kids love to lay out here and watch tv,” says Driver. The covered area also includes a small space for dining.

SHED The shed in the back has a surprising history: it used to be the pump room for the original water tower in Drewry Hills. “A couple of months after we moved in, our neighbor came over with flowers and told us about it,” says Driver. “He remembered being six or seven when they took the water tower down.” With a new roof and fresh paint, it now serves as storage.

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EXTERIOR Baggett worked with Driver to bring her exterior to life. The home was designed by architect Tony Frazier of Frazier Home Design, who did several other homes in the area. Driver drew inspiration from homes she’d seen in Nashville, Tennessee and Sedona, Arizona. “It’s a modern spin on an English Revival style,” says Baggett.

JULY 2020 | 81


by MIRANDA EVON photography by JOSHUA STEADMAN

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THE RESCUERS Local shelters adjust their services to connect families with new companions


“I can’t imagine my life without Bear,” says owner Liz Wetzel, who adopted her dog from Susie’s Hope in High Point. “From the moment I brought him home, he has been a bundle of energy. He brings joy into my life every single day.”


“S

anderson’s a super happy dog—he puts a smile on our faces every day,” says April Payne. The Paynes recently adopted their Japanese Akita mix, Sanderson Cooper, from Paws for Life N.C., a program of Franklin County Humane Society, after fostering him for a few weeks. “He’s definitely helped us stay positive during the pandemic,” says her husband, Steve Payne. “He’s even given our older dog, MacKenzie, some more spunk and energy. She’s playing more than she has in years!” The Paynes aren’t the only ones who took the plunge and added a furry friend to their family amidst the pandemic— and that came as a relief to local animal shelters and pet rescue operations. “We

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were worried about how the pandemic would affect our adoptions,” says Molly Goldston, founder and owner of Saving Grace, an independent shelter in Wake Forest. But with help from the community—and some innovations of their own—they have been able to continue their mission. “We have a really great community and foster program,” says Goldston, who connected hundreds of dogs with families during the stay-athome order. “For that, I am so thankful.” Goldston opened Saving Grace on her family’s former farmland in 2004. The unique setting offers space for up to 80 dogs to run and play—and, it turns out, to safely meet their future families. To keep up with interest in adopting dogs, Saving Grace kept meet-and-greets appointment-only and limited the number of guests allowed to come at once. Even before the pandemic, the organization was offering personalized adoption


LOOKING FOR LOVE Opposite page: Molly Goldston, founder and owner of Saving Grace, with some of the dogs up for adoption. This page: Inside her facility.

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“We’re happy that we’re able to provide some comfort during this time.” — Darci VanderSlik, SPCA Director of Communications

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FRIENDLY FACES Opposite page: Angel the dog at the SPCA of Wake County. This page: Alec the cat.

counseling and time for potential adopters to play with the dogs on the farm, so these changes weren’t too far from standard operating procedure. “It’s important to us that a dog stays with their forever family once they’re adopted,” says Goldston. “So if someone doesn’t find a match when they visit, we set something up for later.” The SPCA of Wake County has also had to make some adjustments, says director of communications Darci VanderSlik. Among them, she says, “We’ve created something like the home adoption network.” Once a week, on Facebook Live, they have one person in the shelter showcase the animals available for adoption. The response, she says, has been “amazing.” Facebook Live has also made it easy to connect dogs and cats with potential owners, who submit applications online. “It has been especially beneficial for older dogs and animals,” she says. “Those who have been in their shelters

for months have a renewed interest and have been the most popular.” Kaitlyn Tickle, the president of Paws for Life, says they have had a huge increase in adoption and foster applications in the last few months. “Dogs are great companions and love unconditionally, so for some people, they offer relief from stress or depression brought on by the uncertain climate,” says Tickle. But with the shelter events and meet-andgreets they’ve typically relied on suspended, they have had to go about adoptions differently. “Adoptions now fundamentally rely on a solid social media presence— good photos, videos and biographies,” she says. “Effective communication between our organization and applicants is top priority.” According to Carla Roshitsh, one of the board members and Dog Team Leaders at Paws for Life, the group has seen a wider age range of people looking for pets in recent months. “Historically, the JULY 2020 | 87


majority of our applicants are families with children,” she says. “But we have seen a healthy increase in twenty-something singles and couples with no children.” Audrey’s Barkyard, which offers pet boarding, grooming and training, works with Paws for Life to foster dogs until they are connected with their forever homes. “We are honored to be the stepping stone to help connect these rescue dogs in their journey to a new future,” says owner Mandy Donahue. “We are so proud to be a part of the team and be a small part of the successful placement for these worthy dogs.” For new pets and pet owners, more

“Dogs are great companions and love unconditionally, so for some people, they offer relief from stress or depression brought on by the uncertain climate.” — Kaitlyn Tickle, Paws for Life president

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time at home has a silver lining: “Stayat-home offered a unique opportunity for owners to bond with their new dogs and train them on home routines,” says Roshitsh. The shelters have backed them up, too: SPCA, for example, recently offered Facebook Live sessions with training specialists on Fridays for anyone who needed advice on training their dog, and both Saving Grace and Paws for Life routinely call and check in with the owners to hear how the dog is getting used to its new surroundings. While shelters have always felt called to connect pets to their forever homes, the last few months have been a reminder of how important pets can be to their families—these days, it feels like pets are rescuing their new owners, not the other way around. “Horrible situations are happening all around us,” says VanderSlik. “We’re happy that we’re able to provide some comfort during this time.”


FRESH START Opposite page: Mandy Donahue, owner of Audrey’s Barkyard. They work with Paws for Life to house pets waiting for new owners. This page: Facilities within Audrey’s Barkyard including Donahue’s son petting a dog.

APRIL 2020 | 00 JULY 2020 | 89


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THE WHIRL WALTER’s roundup of socially distanced gatherings and celebrations around the Triangle.

Hans Linnartz

Members of the N.C. Symphony perform a porch concert at the Oakwood home of Ann Robertson and Hans Linnartz.

92 Pandemic Porch Concert 93 Welcome Home Brunch 93 Porch Portraits 94 Friend’s of St. David’s Volunteer Appreciation Event 94 Hoss’ Birthday Picnic 95 Neighbor Fun and Games 95 Balcony Birthday Bash 96 Surprise Oyster Roast 96 Ravenscroft Graduation Celebration

During this time of social distancing, we want to see how you are staying connected with your community. Submit images on our website waltermagazine.com.

JULY 2020 | 91


THE WHIRL

Hans Christian Linnartz

PANDEMIC PORCH PARTY Members of the North Carolina Symphony (Mary Boone, flute; Sam Gold, viola; Jeanine Wynton, violin and Sunrise Kim, cello) perfomed a porch concert on May 25 at the home of Ann Robertson and Hans Linnartz in the historic Oakwood neighborhood.

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Tula Summerford (BRUNCH); Kaitlyn Circle (RUSSELL FAMILY); courtesy Charlie Brady (MOVIE)

WELCOME HOME BRUNCH Tula Summerford welcomed her children home with an elegant brunch.

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PORCH PORTRAIT Daniel, Teddy and Jennifer Russell pose on the front porch of their home in historic Oakwood.

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MOVIE NIGHT Lauren Kennedy Brady, artistic director of Theatre Raleigh, and family created an alternative theatre experience over Memorial Day weekend.

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FRIENDS OF ST. DAVID’S CELEBRATION Friends of St. David’s thanked outgoing president Elizabeth Matthews at a socially distanced volunteer appreciation event on her front lawn.

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HOSS’ BIRTHDAY PICNIC Jessica Hoskin, Jonathan Flora and Sarah Delgross celebrate Hoss’ 42nd birthday with a picnic on Halifax Mall on April 8.


Summer!

Courtesy Roy Attride (NEIGHBORS); courtesy Ann O’Neal (NORRIS)

NEIGHBOR FUN AND GAMES In April, the Attride family played Pictionary with across-the-street neighbors the Roberts family. The families also gathered for a socially distanced dinner party.

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BALCONY BIRTHDAY BASH Lolly Norris (Grand Lolly) is fêted for her 95th birthday at her home at the Cardinal at North Hills on May 6 by (from left to right) Gerda Stein, Lee Norris, Katie O’Neal, John O’Neal, Ann O’Neal and Laura Raynor.

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Courtesy Jennifer Kelly (OYSTERS); courtesy Pickel Tannebaum (GRADUATION)

SURPRISE OYSTER ROAST Jennifer Kelly and Christy Connell hosted an oyster roast from Locals Seafood on the back porch of the Kelly home May 29 to celebrate two special birthdays.

GRADUATION CELEBRATION On May 30th, the families of Ravenscroft seniors Charlotte Tannenbaum (daughter of Pickel and Pete Tannenbaum), Amelia Holdstock (daughter of David and Ramona Holdstock) and Eleanor Campbell (daughter of Caroline and Colin Campbell) celebrated the girls’ graduation. Siblings Ally Tannebaum, Bea Holdstock and Tosh Holdstock played graduation music. Stand-ins for Head of School Doreen Kelly and Head of Upper School Aaron Sundstrom made an appearance as Eleanor Campbell delivered her valedictorian speech.

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END NOTE

creating PARADISE

T

hanks to Henry Warren, a retired farmer, Shangri-La is closer than you think—just a bit smaller than you’d expect. Like many of us, Warren wanted to retire to a verdant utopia. But unlike many of us, Warren was smart enough to realize that Shangri-La was right there in his fields. All he had to do was dig it up and put it together. In 1968, at age 73, Warren commenced both his retirement and his project. By the time he died nine years later, he’d formed over two dozen stone miniature buildings into a small town in his front yard on North Carolina Highway 86, halfway between Hillsborough and Yanceyville. Most of the structures are made from white quartz, held together with gray cement. Houses are three to four feet high, and a church rises six feet to its rooftop, with a steeple that adds another four feet. It’s as tall as the miniature water tower he built. A bronze plaque deems it “Shangri-La.” Certainly, for a leprechaun, it would be. It probably was for Warren, too: He built an outdoor grill, rock chairs and a bench which blend in perfectly among the buildings. He would cook and sit among his creations. His wife told a visitor once, “As long as he has a Coca-Cola and a cigarette, he’ll work.” Today, Warren’s daughter Juanita Penny and her husband Van live on the property and provide upkeep to the stone village. They invite visitors to stop by anytime to see the village and Warren’s other stonework, including a walkway embedded with arrowheads. The whimsical town that Warren built has delighted thousands of people over the years, most of whom simply came upon it as an unexpected pleasure. Beneath its name, the plaque continues, “Let me live in a house by the side of the road and be a friend to man.” And it’s a friend, indeed, who even in death can remind us that paradise is right here on earth… all we have to do is build it. —Joel Haas

Directions: from Raleigh, take I-40 West to Hillsborough. Take exit 160 toward Efland. Keep right to stay on Exit 160, then follow signs to Efland. Turn right onto Mount Willing Road. Turn left onto Forrest Avenue. Turn left onto N.C. 86 N. Travel time from Raleigh is approximately one hour. 98 | WALTER


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