The Week of Sunday, February 24th, 2013.

Looking Back Pictures_Blair House

“Blair House,” reads the caption to this photograph of unknown date depicting the Henry Blair Farm Homeplace, located across from the Boone Golf Club, built circa 1844.

February 28, 1907

“The Turnpike Railway”, a news item on the front page of this week’s edition of the Watauga Democrat reproduced, according to a parenthetical byline, from a newspaper known as the Wilkesboro Hustler, reported that, “(t)he prospects for a railway or trolley line on the Wilkesboro and Jefferson turnpike seems to be growing.” The report related that two prominent citizens, “Messrs. T.B. Finley and W.W. Barber,” had gone during that week “to Raleigh from Greensboro,” and had in mind to “ask the state legislature to pass an act empowering the State Council to dispose of, or take whatever action they may deem best of the State’s interest in the Wilkesboro and Jefferson turnpike road.” The article was optimistic about the prospects for this step being taken, and of the Governor of the State, himself, being “warmly in favor of a trolley line to develop the resources of this section.” Influencing the allure of potential nature resources, the article reported that, “recently northern capitalists have been over the blue Ridge (sic) prospecting a route and want to build a road  provided that they can make the same more extensive than limited between this place (Wilkesboro) and Jefferson.” A plan mentioned was to connect this route “with the South & Western railway, under construction in McDowell county.” The news report opined that, “there is nothing that means more to Ashe, Watauga, Alleghany and Wilkes counties than the construction of this outlet for the great resources that have so long remained undeveloped.”  The road or “turnpike” then in existence was said to be “of no value to the State if not completed to this extent.” Concluded the item, “(t)he people of these counties have expressed themselves many times for such a road. They want it and should have it.”

February 26, 1943

“Local Blackout Was Successful,” a bold headline with the subheading “Tuesday Night Sees Boone’s First Surprise Blackout Test,” reported in this week’s newspaper that, ”Boone experienced its first surprise blackout Tuesday evening and reports coming in from Wade E. Brown, chairman of the Civilian Defense Council, are to the effect that the citizens cooperated splendidly.” Background included in the report noted that “Boone has had other blackouts, but this was the first unannounced one.” According to the article, “most of the residents turned off their lights at 9:30 promptly when the siren sounded, but some few had to be reminded. Some trouble was experienced by Neon signs in closed stores, but with one exception these were all extinguished during the half hour of the blackout.”

February 18, 1965

“Whole Family Is Being Asked To Vote On Burley Program,” a font-page headline in this week’s edition, urged readers to “(t)ake the whole family and vote in the Thursday (Feb. 25) burley referendum,” as the Burley Referendum Committee “urges farmers to put Watauga County on the Congressional Record as having 2,500 yes votes to continue price support for tobacco grown on each family’s allotted acreage.” Watauga County was described as “the champion grower of burley tobacco,” turning over “more yield per acre of all burley growing counties.” The referendum was to provide loans for price support to each family which grew the crop within a pre-set allocation for the family’s farm size. “Any member of a family which shares in the proceeds of a tobacco crop is entitled to vote, minor children included,” noted the report.

1907 ads

Published in: on February 24, 2013 at 12:01 am  Leave a Comment  

The Week of Sunday, February 17th, 2013.

Historic Boone 1960 snow sculpture
Bearing a handwriting inscription on the reverse, “1960 snow – Snow sculpture of George Washington – Max Dixon (right),” this photograph from the aftermath of a winter mega-storm originally was published in the Watauga Democrat newspaper with the caption “Give Max Dixon and clan enough snow, and Boom! – George Washington!”

February 21, 1907

News this week in the Watauga Democrat newspaper included, in the report entitled the “Washington Letter,” a notice that, “Postmaster General Cortelyou has been working on a new scheme in connection with the dead letter office that is greatly expediting the work of that division of the Post Office Department and ought to result in giving a much more prompt and effective service than has ever been given to the public by the Department before. Instead of holding letters in the dead letter office for months at a time as has heretofore the practice, a large force of clerks has been put at work opening and inspecting misdirected mail as soon as it reaches the office.” Told the article, “all of the letters which can be returned to the senders are immediately forwarded and the aggregate value of this mail is shown from the fact that from $6000 to $10,000 a month is thus restored to small transmitters in the inspected letters.” Concluded this report, “in a little while it will be possible for all of the mail having the address of the sender inside to be returned as soon as it reaches the dead letter office.”

February 26, 1943

“Local Lad, With Royal Air Force, Says Hitler’s Doom In Sight; Bombs Berlin,” proclaimed a bold headline in this week’s newspaper. “Vance Taylor, son of Mr. and Mrs. Millard Taylor of Boone, who is now a Sergeant in the Royal Air Force Commandos, is in town this week, and while paying a call at the Democrat office, told of flying ‘high wide and handsome’ over Naziland, and even over the city of Berlin, while an understudy was delivering Herr Hitler’s speech for him a short time ago, and the local flier states that no one need be surprised if the German war machine is neatly folded up in about two months.” Sergeant Taylor, “who gives his age as 22, says he skipped class at Duke to go to Canada to enlist in the Royal Air Force 23 months ago, (and) that he was promptly sent to England for his training, where he has since been,” reported the Watauga Democrat article. The local pilot optimistically related to the local newspaper his belief that “the United nations (sic – e.g, the Allies; the organization of the United Nations had not yet been created) are rapidly closing in for the finish of Hitler’s Legions, and (he) says that the largest part of the R.A.F. will then be concerned with Tokyo.” The German surrender came, in fact, in May of 1945, 27 months after Taylor’s visit home to Watauga County. Taylor “was given a ride on an English submarine to this country, in company with a naval captain and some other seamen,” and would “board ship for the return to the battle skies next Friday midnight at an undisclosed port.”

February 18, 1965

“Foscoe, Sugar Grove Areas To Have $36,000 Phone Exchanges” reported on this date that, “Linville Lumber Company, Linville,” had won contracts in a recent bid-taking by Skyline Telephone company “for construction of a new building in Foscoe to house a new telephone exchange there and for the expansion of the Sugar Grove Exchange building to provide space for new exchange equipment.” According to the article, “Mr. G.W. Edwards, president of Skyline Telephone Membership Corporation,” reported that the new facilities were necessary due to “the unusual growth in the rural area of Watauga County and exceptional demand for telephone service in those areas.” The cooperative was planning for “providing only 1, 2 and 4-party service throughout the system.”

Published in: on February 17, 2013 at 12:01 am  Leave a Comment  

The Week of Sunday, February 10th, 2013.

Big Snow Photo

“Lots of white space, huh?” begins this caption to a photograph apparently originally taken during the record-setting blizzard of 1960. “This shot was made on 421 at Miller’s long before land was cleared further down the road for New Market Centre.”

Courtesy Historic Boone & the Watauga Democrat

February 13, 1908

“Liquor and Tobacco,” the heading of a moralizing front-page editorial item in this week’s edition of the Watauga Democrat, opened with the assertion that “prohibition and sumptuary laws,” concerning “what shall a man eat and drink and wherewithal shall he be clothed,” were related to “questions (which) have been with mankind through all the ages.” After hearkening to the time when “originally he (humanity) lived on fish or shell fish, and his strongest drink was rain water,” the article traced the  development of civilization through the time when the species became hunters, and when, subsequently, “he planted a vineyard, made wine and became a drunkard… Once drunk, he felt brave and consequential, and began the conquest of his fellow tribes, and through all sorts of conditions he has been drinking and fighting and playing the devil ever since.” The author of the feature particularly lamented the state of the modern person, since “now the most enlightened people who wear the best clothes, eat and drink everything they can find, and besides chew, smoke and snuff tobacco, and use opium and every form of dope known to man.” The author, J.C. Elliott of the Charlotte Observer, noted that these same people “then… pray and make a great to do about sending the gospel to the poor blind heathen.” Elliott’s editorial claimed that “all people, including the heathen, do the best they know,” and, stating that “all luxuries are enervating and injurious to the health,” and that “we have in the essentials – flesh, fish and foul, with the cereals, vegetables and fruits – that which we may freely partake of,” encouraged subsistence on these necessaries alone. While admitting that “wine, beer and cider go good with a meal,” the editorialist asked, “but where does tobacco come in with its noxious taste?” The column concluded that, although “tobacco was known as a stimulant to the Indians, and a smoke after a dinner of spoiled meat or dried toads might have left a better taste,” in modern times, “what excuse have we for cultivating such a taste?” The author did not give any sources for his characterization of the indigenous diet, which seems somewhat in contrast to his previous idyllic portrayal of the pre-modern lifestyle.

February 11, 1943

“Allies to Invade Europe In 1943, Byrnes Asserts,” a headline this week, introduced an article which announced that, “(t)he flat official statement that allied forces will invade Europe in 1943 was made Tuesday night, and coupled with it was admission that the cost in American lives must be heavy.” Continued the short news item, “(t)he statement came from James F. Byrnes, whose powers as director of economic stabilization are so great he has been dubbed ‘assistant president.’ His was the most definite indication of allied war plans since President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill planned the year’s campaigns in Casablanca.” Byrnes’ vision of an invasion of Axis-controlled Europe would indeed begin in that year, with invasions of Sicily in July 1943, but would see completion only after the Allied invasion of Normandy nearly a year later.

Published in: on February 10, 2013 at 12:01 am  Leave a Comment  

The Week of Sunday, February 3rd, 2013.

Historic Boone 2.110 Macrae

“This is the ‘Boss,’ Grandfather mtn. in background,” reads the caption on the back of this circa 1920s photograph. “This was taken just below the old McRae place.” The photograph is apparently of Hugh McRae, the grandfather of developer, photographer, and conservationist Hugh Morton.

Courtesy Historic Boone

February 6, 1907

“Dodging Taxes,” an article on the front page of this week’s edition of the Watauga Democrat (reprinted from the Charlotte News), noted that, “(n)ot expected to list their property at full value, it has always been a temptation to men to list it far below a just valuation for taxation.” Continuing with news of the day in this matter, the newspaper reported, “(b)ut the late Russel Sage appears to have out Heroded Herod in this respect. The Atlanta Constitution Says, ‘The late Russel Sage was in the habit of paying taxes on about $2,000,000 of property, or 2 1/2 per cent, of what he was really worth, not according to general report, but as was shown by the returns made as the result of the administration upon his estate in the New York Probate Court. Under the assessment Mrs. Sage will have to pay some $800,000 in taxes as against about one twenty-fifth of the amount of the amount or some $32,000, paid by her husband.” The article continued in an editorial vein, “(n)ow here is positive evidence of the fact that there has been some hiding out of taxable property – evidence which affords circumstantial proof that there is plenty of similar evasion of the tax laws on the part of the other large property owners. For it is well known that many millionaires who are giving in about the same amount of property as did Russel Sage are worth anywhere from five to fifty times that amount.’” The article on tax “evasion” by the wealthy concluded that, “(t)here are plenty of millionaires who dodge their just taxes, but it is an outrage that the law out to take hold of to remedy that the mass of the people of small means should have to bear the burden of taxation, when enormously rich men beat the devil around the bush.”

February 4, 1943

“M’Nutt (sic) Warns Workers Must Find War Jobs,” proclaimed a bold headline on this week’s front page. “The government today warned hundreds of thousands of American workers to expect no further draft deferments, regardless of their number of dependents, unless they find more essential jobs,” reported the news item. “It told men in 29 occupations that even though they had five or six children, they must find more important jobs by spring or face induction. The ‘non-essential’ occupations affected range from bartenders to gardeners and waiters.” According to the story, “(t)his is ‘just a beginning’, Manpower Commissioner Paul V. McNutt declared… ‘by the end of this year 10 out of every 14 of the able bodied men between 18 and 38 will be in the armed services,’ McNutt said.”  In Watauga County, “(a) number of petitions (for deferment of military service) are still out,” reported the Watauga Democrat. “Local selective service boards have been working under instructions to call no men with children until they received ‘further notice.’” According to the article, “(t)oday’s order, said McNutt, is that ‘further notice.’”

Published in: on February 3, 2013 at 12:01 am  Comments (2)