“Physical Education Building (Now completed and in use),” reads the caption to this photograph showing a period of building and expansion at the Appalachian Training School for Teachers (later Appalachian Normal School, now Appalachian State University). Courtesy of Historic Boone.
By Ross Cooper
January 10, 1907.
A feature in this week’s Watauga Democrat entitled “Restore the Ancient Landmark” (reprinted from the News and Observer of Raleigh) encouraged the revival of the observances of the traditions of the spelling bee and of watch-night church services to usher in the New Year. Beginning with the former, the editorial asserted that “( o)nce people were good spellers and the cutting up and down and the Spelling Bee gave pleasure and instruction. With their departure come poor spellers and too little attention is given to spelling.” The writer, who opened his opinion piece by asserting that “(t)he tendency is marked in North Carolina to let the good old customs go into disuse,” announced that “(t)his paper has started the New Year with an agitation for a return of the old time tournament and the old time spelling bee.” As a remedy, the columnist writes, “(w)hy not have a tournament social at the next State Fair and make it the crowning event of the annual gathering? It would be a splendid idea, too, to get up a spelling bee with one entry from each county and give an hundred dollars to the best speller.” As if in afterthought, the advisement continues, “(a)nd why not have the fiddling contest, with a splendid prize to the best fiddler in North Carolina.” Turning to religious observance, the column continues, after noting that “(t)he year 1907 ought to be marked by a return to the ancient landmarks, that “(t)he time was when the departure of the Old Year was a solemn religious festival and watch-night services were held in many churches. Why has this means of grace been neglected?” After lamenting the decline in such services, the author encouraging notes this item of news from Tarboro, N.C.: “Midnight services to see the Old Year out and the New one in were held in the Ediscopal (sic) church Rev F.H. Farthing conducting them. They were solemn and impressive till the bells and whistles rang out the end of 1906, then there were disapasons (sic – “diapasons” is apparently meant) in both voice and music greeting 1907.”
January 9, 1958
“Dimes Drive Aim Is Helping Polio Victims” reported that “(t)he March of Dimes will launch a 1958 polio fund campaign here and throughout the country in January on the dramatic note that for thousands of polio-blighted individuals ‘Survival Is Not Enough.’ Most of the money sought in the drive is needed to help disabled polio patients stage ‘comebacks’ from helplessness to usefulness.”
The article “Cherryville Men Bring Muskets To Enliven Last Day of Year in Boone” told that “(a) group of Cherryville’s New Year shooters arrived in Boone last Tuesday to fire their muskets in their traditional welcome to the New Year.” According to the artcle, “Cherryville is the only known community in the nation which still practices this ancient custom, which is sad to have originated in Germany many centuries ago.” The newspaper reproduced, in part, the text of the “familiar chant which annually launches this age-old custom,” and noted that the troop of musket-men “fired their muskets in the vicinity of the city hall, on the courthouse lot and at other points and considerable interest was manifested in their visit.”