The Week of July 29th, 2012.

“Campus Scene, Appalachian State Teachers’ College, Boone, N.C.” reads the caption to this postcard, which dates from circa 1940. Courtesy of the archives of the Historic Boone society.

July 30, 1903

A news item in this week’s edition of the “Watauga Democrat,” under a byline indicating that the news had been reprinted from the “Charlotte Observer” of Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, began, “[t]he question of keeping laborers is getting to be a serious question, not only to the farmers in this county but to the people in Charlotte who employ many hands.” Continued the article, “[f]or three years Mecklenburg has suffered some for the lack of farm hands, and this year it is feeling the scarcity of labor more than ever. Crops suffer and the yield is cut short because of the lack of attention at the proper time. The one good effect this has on the farmers of the county is that it is compelling them to open their purses and invest in improved, in labor saving machinery. More machinery has been sold in Charlotte within the past two years than for any four years previous.” The article suggests that an exodus of African American workers had created the shortage in hired farm help, but that, correspondingly, the “scarcity of hands has greatly increased the size of the wages for the remainder,” and alleged that, “more builders and skilled workmen are employed in the city now than ever before and the demand is still greater than the supply, although the good wages are attracting the class of workmen desired from other towns.”

July 25, 1940

“Work On New Church Started Here: Presbyterians Plan to Have Excavation of Lot Completed by End of the Week,” a front-page item in this week’s newspaper, reported that, “[g]round has been broken for the erection of the new $25,000 James I. Vance Memorial Presbyterian church and the excavation for the construction of the handsome new building is expected to be finished by the end of the week.” The new church was to “occupy a lot near the entrance to the city cemetery,” and was “designed by D.R. Beeson, Johnson City architect, and the interior and exterior of the brick structure will follow the early American style of architecture.”

July 25, 1963

“’Mystery Hill’ Structures Destroyed in Blaze” reported in this edition that, “a small building housing a gravitation phenomenon, an ancient telephone, two curios more than 100 years old, a side saddle and an ox yoke were all that remained of the Mystery Hill Museum of Mountain Life, mid-way between Boone and Blowing Rock, after a fire broke out Sunday morning.” Co-owner Buford Stamey was cited as saying that “the blaze was started by defective electrical wiring.” A brief history of the Mystery Hill museum recorded that the attraction had been “[e]rected about eight years ago by W.F. Hudson of Florida and purchased by Stamey and [R.J.] Underwood of Boone five years ago, [and that] the large frame structure also housed a restaurant in which new equipment had recently been installed.” Mystery Hill’s owners “reported that 30,000 people visited the museum last year and that business had been equally good this season.” Plans were to rebuild the museum site as soon as possible, although the owners did not think that “the curios, which were displayed to show how mountain people lived in the past, [could] be replaced.”

1893 advertisement from the Watauga Democrat newspaper of Boone, North Carolina, U.S.A.

Published in: on July 29, 2012 at 12:01 am  Leave a Comment  

The Week of July 22nd, 2012.

“Carpenters all in a row,” reads the caption to this photograph of six men bearing the tools of their trade and standing alongside the storefront of the Boone Hardware establishment.  “The gentleman on the left and the one second from right are unidentified, but the others (from left) are: Ezner Beach, Will Hodges, Frank Cullers (a brother of Ed Cullers) and, on the end, at right, Pink Hodges. A.T and Daisy Adams place the date of this picture at about 1922, when Boone Hardware occupied the building known since 1924 as Farmers Hardware,” notes a description attached to the image. Courtesy  the archives of the Historic Boone society.

*** Note:  a word was passed along via the Watauga Democrat that ” the photo caption should say that the building was known as Farmers’ Hardware since 1932, not since 1924″. The caption above was as originally written (in a printed format, actually, which looks as if it may have come from a clipping from the ‘Watauga Democrat’, but that is just a theory, as no such identifying information exists on the caption…) in the information affixed to the original archival image, and was reproduced therefore with the 1924 date, which may, indeed, be inaccurate.

July 25, 1901

“The Democracy should temporarily postpone the consideration of all subordinate problems and make the principle of constitutional liberty the paramount issue,” according to an item in this week’s edition of the “Watauga Democrat” newspaper. “It should nominate a man who can conciliate all of the anti[-]imperialistic forces. And it will be in a position to command the unqualified support of the various organizations. Meanwhile we congratulate the anti-imperialists upon their courageous determination. – Henry Watterson.”  The undersigned Watterson was the editor of the Louisville “Courier-Journal”, and was a leading critic during the time of the “imperialism” of Spain, and ran articles in his newspaper encouraging  the efforts of the United States to counter Spanish influence during and after the Spanish-American War.

Another editorial item asserted, “[w]hen anything good is said for the mountain people the first inclination is to ‘blab’ it by the one who bears it. A gentleman who has taught much in different counties below the mountain and has also taught in Watauga different times, says that he would much rather teach here, as the children are so bidable [sic] and nice, and the patrons are not forever picking flaws with the teacher. He said, also, that the most advanced school that he had ever taught had been in Watauga.”

July 24, 1941

“Aluminum Drive Gets Underway in This Section: Boone and Blowing Rock Collaborating in Campaign to Raise Aluminum” proclaimed an article heading in this week’s paper. The aluminum was “being used in the air defense program,” according to the story. “Miss Elizabeth Bridge, who is working with the various county units, reports excellent co-operation of all units,” reported the article. A personal note recorded that “Robert Greene of Blowing Rock has agreed to contribute his antique Franklin automobile, which is almost entirely aluminum, at a minimum charge of $10.”

A related news article, “Aluminum Good For Movies On Friday,” relayed that, “Manager H.C. Trotter of the Appalachian Theatre, in an effort to aid in the defense drive for old aluminum, has announced that Friday afternoon from 2 to 3 o’clock , any person, child or adult, may gain admission to the theatre with the presentation of any kind of piece of aluminum. The film being shown on this occasion is ‘Down Argentine Way,’ one of the most popular of recent cinema releases.”

July 23, 1968

“Coffey Signs With Metropolitan Opera,” a story by Rachel R. Coffey of the “Watauga Democrat”, began, “[w]hen he says he’s with the Met  some people think he means he makes a living playing baseball. Stretching the point less are some who assume it’s the Metropolitan Life Insurance Agency he’s talking about.” The story continued with the clarification, “after years of study and aiming for the top, Frank Coffey is at last with “the Met” – as in Metropolitan Opera.” Coffey “used to be a soldier, an Indian, and a settler” in the summer outdoor drama “Horn in the West” in the 1950s, during which time he “’was killed four times – twice in the same battle.’” The story tells that a “baritone, he wasn’t in the Horn chorus, but studied with his Aunt Virginia Linney of Boone.” The opera star’s career path had included stints in the U.S. Air Force and working for an Asheville bakery as well as the Parkway Company of Boone in the years prior to his landing a spot in the prestigious opera company.

An 1894 advertisement from the Watauga Democrat newspaper of Boone, North Carolina.

Published in: on July 22, 2012 at 12:01 am  Leave a Comment  

The Week of July 15th, 2012.

Image courtesy of the archives of the Historic Boone society.

July 18, 1901

“New Jersey has prohibited the sale of intoxicants at summer resorts on Sunday,” reported a brief article in this week’s edition of the Watauga Democrat. Concluded the notice, “(t)hus the promising occupation of discovering sea serpents is dealt a back handed blow.”

An advertisement for “The North Carolina State Normal and Industrial College,” with a bold-type subheading “LITERARY, CLASSICAL, SCIENTIFIC, COMMERCIAL, INDUSTRIAL, PEDAGOGICAL, MUSICAL,” announced, “annual expenses $100 to $140; for non-residents of the state, $160. Faculty of 30 members. Practice and Observation School of about 250 pupils. To Secure board in the dormitories all free tuition applications should be made before July 15th. Session opens September 19th. Correspondence invited from those desiring competent teachers and stenographers. For Catalogue and other information address President Charles D. McIver, Greensboro, N.C.” The institution later became the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, McIver having founded the school as a women’s college with the aim of promoting educational opportunities for women in the state.

July 17, 1941

“Salvage Crew Is Dismantling Narrow Guage [sic],” told a  front-page headline this week. “The Midwest Steel Company of Charleston, W.Va., is rapidly salvaging the roadbed of the Linville River Railway Company, which abandoned its lines from Cranberry to Boone following the flood of last August, and the rails from the main line as well as the siding in the vicinity of the depot have already been taken up, the salvage work having progressed to a point below Appalachian College,” according to the article. The story included noted that, “(t)he last train to leave Boone on the narrow guage was on August 13, 1940, and on the return trip to Boone the train was stopped at Cranberry due to the flood conditions which had played havoc with bridges and road bed during the afternoon. The local Chamber of Commerce and individuals joined in an effort to have the road rebuilt, but the interstate commerce commission approved its abandonment, when the company introduced figures to show the line had been a losing venture for many years.”

In related transportation news, “Bus Station To Be Remodeled,” another front-page article, recorded that “Herman W. Wilcox has closed a deal for the purchase of the depot property of the Linville River Railway Company… and the front of the station will be remodeled to take care of the rapidly expanding needs of the Boone bus terminal.” According to the story, “(t)he accessibility, location and arrangements of the streets make the property ideal for bus terminal purposes, and there is plenty of space for buses, as well as for patrons on every side of the building.”

July 16, 1970

“Buying Remains Brisk: Business Patterns Unchanged,” reported a banner headline this week. “How are Watauga County families apportioning the larger incomes they are now receiving? How much are they spending in retail stores? … local outlays for goods and services continued at a high level, despite inflation and despite a general feeling of uncertainty with regard to the national economy.” A survey from the Standard Rate and Data Service indicated that in Watauga County “a large part of the consumer dollar went to stores selling food and automotive equipment,” these areas accounting for “45 per cent of all retail business done in the local area.”

Published in: on July 15, 2012 at 12:01 am  Comments (1)  

The Week of July 8, 2012.


“In another take, you get a better view of this beautiful old-model automobile. Brenda Jones Gragg is at left, Elmer Moretz at right. With his hand resting on the hood ornament is the late Kenneth Jones, father of Curtis Jones who once worked for the [Watauga Democrat] newspaper,” reads the caption affixed to this photograph. Date unknown.

Courtesy of the archives of the Historic Boone society.

July 11, 1901

“The Chairman of the Board of Road Supervisors for Watauga township,” according to a report in this week’s edition of the “Watauga Democrat,” “asks as to say that the road overseers in the townships are requested to put their roads in good condition by court, as his reports have to go in at that time.”

An advertisement from the same issue announced, “Alfred W. Dula, Graduate – Optician, Jeweler, & Engraver,South Main Street,Lenoir,N.C.– Special attention given to work by mail. Estimates of cost furnished the same day work is received.” The ad humbly proclaimed, “THE BEST WATCH REPAIR SHOP IN THE COUNTRY,” and promised, “all work guaranteed.”

Another special item related, “Solicitor Spainhour and family, of Morganton, have been in town for the past week. They were travelling by wagon and buggy; having a most delightful trip, camping out, fishing, etc. They came through Wilkes, Grayson county,Va., Alleghany, Ashe, on to Watauga, and left on Tuesday, for their home, via Linville. They have been out near a month and report a most enjoyable time.”

July 10, 1941

A front-page photograph under the heading “A ‘Hitler’ Joins the Other Side” bore a caption telling of the pictured individuals, “Mrs. Brigid Hitler, wife of Adolf Hitler’s stepbrother, Alois, is shown bidding her son, William Patrick Hitler, good-by as he leavesNew YorkforCanada, where he will join the Royal Canadian Air Force. He may some day be winging against Uncle Adolf’s Luftwaffe.” The British-born young Hitler was later cleared to join the U.S. Navy, served as a Pharmacist’s Mate, and after the War changed his surname to Stuart-Houston.

A story of a local tragedy told, “Ed Norris, aged about 55 years, native citizen of the Meat Camp section of Watauga county, was killed Thursday evening of last week at about 7 o’clock, as he and members of his family journeyed to a religious gathering near the home atAminot, Va., and an aged man by the name of Allsizer and two of his sons are being held on murder charges growing out of the fatal shooting.” The “meager information reaching the slain man’s family” includes a notation that “the Allsizers had a grudge against Norris, there having been bad feeling between the men for about two years.” The article reported that, “it [was] related that the Allsizers accosted Norris as he and his family were on the way to a religious meeting, and that one of them fired two shots into Norris’ body.” The slain man was “reared in Watauga, but had lived inVirginiafor six years, where he was employed by a coal mining corporation.”

July 9, 1970

“Debbie Reynolds at Opening of Oz,” an article by Rachel Rivers, reported this week that, “[f]olks visiting the Land of Oz last Friday were pleasantly surprised to see Mrs. Harry Karl and her daughter, Carrie, touring the adventure attraction on Beech Mountain. And quite a few did a double-take as it began to sink in that Mrs. Karl, the smiling young woman in the lacey dress, was one of the country’s best-known film stars, Debbie Reynolds.” Debbie Reynolds had a leading role in the 1952 film “Singin’ in the Rain,” and is the mother of actress and author Carrie Fisher. According to the article, “Debbie’s pretty daughter, who is 13, got her mother’s resounding approval – ‘As a performer, yes, she’s very good.’”

Published in: on July 8, 2012 at 12:01 am  Leave a Comment  

The Week of July 1, 2012.

“Ravine Bridge on Boone Trail Between Boone and North Wilkesboro, N.C.,” reads the caption to this postcard. Date unknown. Courtesy of the archives of the Historic Boone society.

July 4, 1901

“The picnic at Willow Dale today must be largely attended, as it seems a goodly number from different parts of the county will be present,” reported an item in the “Local News” section of this week’s edition of the “Watauga Democrat.”

“Much of the land sold for taxes on last Monday, was bid in by the county,” according to another.

Weather news told, “(t)he weather is scorching hot these days, and corn is growing rapidly.”

July 2, 1941

“Cars From Many States Seen On City Streets,” announced a headline in this week’s newspaper. According to the article, “(a) record-breaking number of visitors from widely-divergent points are passing through Boone these days, and automobiles from practically every state in the union have been observed this summer. Dr. J.T.C. Wright, of Appalachian College, remarked Saturday that in casually walking from the science building to The Democrat office he counted automobiles bearing license plates from 14 states, and of course he didn’t see all the cars in town. Those noted by Dr. Wright included Oklahoma, Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, Connecticut, Texas, Kentucky, Delaware, Nevada, New Jersey, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and New York.”

“High Proof Wine Banned on First” relayed that “(t)he sale of so-called fortified wines is prohibited in Watauga and all other counties of the state not having ABC stores, under an amendment to the state revenue act passed at the last legislature, the potent beverage to be taken from the channels of trade on July 1. Fortified wines, it is explained, are beverages made by the fermentation of graps (sic), fruit and berries and fortified by the addition of brandy or alcohol or having an alcoholic content of more than 14 per cent, as reckoned by volume.” The new law meant that such “high potency beverages may now be legally dispensed only in the state-operated stores in the wet counties.”

July 2, 1970

“Appalachian Graduates Will Have Jobs By Fall,” according to a front-page banner headline on this day. “Appalachian State University’s 949 June graduates will all have jobs before Sept. 1 despite the current crisis in college placement circles,” reported the feature story. “The forecast was made today by ASU’s Director of Placement, Dr. Robert L. Randall, who concedes, however, that slow-downs in industrial hiring have made job placements much more difficult for his office.”

A front-page photograph entitled “Lovable Calf” bore the caption, “(o)ne of the early events at the Land of Oz on Beech Mountain is a visit to a barn on the farm where Dorothy lives. Before the tornado launches Dorothy and her visitors on a trip to see the Wizard of Oz, there is a barn tour during which folk of all ages can acquaint themselves with this docile calf, a couple of bell-wearing goats, some wooly sheep and some pigs who seem eternally to be eating. On view, but not for touching, are a donkey, a rooster, and some rabbits. The silo on the farm is in fact a water tower that supplies the amusement area atop the mountain.”

Advertisement for baking soda from an 1894 edition of the Watauga Democrat newspaper of Boone, North Carolina.

Published in: on July 1, 2012 at 12:01 am  Leave a Comment  
%d bloggers like this: