Wednesday, April 28, 2010

This Week in History (April 29)

Note: As we've begun publishing a weekly lookback at items of historical note in The Wake Weekly, expect excess items or those cut for space to make it into this blog. This week I looked up far too many items of note and am so reproducing them here. It seemed like the right place to do it. - David Leone, Associate Editor

Local horse plow manufacturers, Dunn Plow Co. and Wake Forest Foundry are doing brisk business these days, pulling in $30,000 annually between the two businesses. As many as 20,000 castings for plows are produced in one week at these plants. They also make window weights, boiler grates parts of stoves and other ordinary iron castings. This diversity of work makes it possible for them to operate regularly and give employment to an average of about 20 men. Wake Forest also has a modern general repair and supply shop, Holliday and Taylor. Any sort of vehicle from a log cart to a road cart, including automobiles, is quickly and skillfully repaired.

A Red Cross society has been formed in Wake Forest. Among the 50 members are numbers of ladies from neighboring towns. On Thursday, the following officers were elected: President Mrs. J.M. Brewer; recording secretary, Mrs. T.M. Arrington; corresponding secretary, Miss Ruby Reid; treasurer, Miss Jessie Lassiter.

In a newspaper editorial Dr. G.W. Paschal announced he was sorry Mayor J. C. Caddell was not running for re-election. "Eight years ago our streets were in bad condition, often almost impassible in bad weather, and with scant provision made for working them. Now our streets will compare favorably with those of any other town that has unpaved streets, and a strong team of mules, a read scraper and other implements are provided for working them. A wagon regularly goes around taking up rubbish and litter."

The editorial credits the mayor with the bond issue bringing the first electric lights to town, a special tax for the erection of public school buildings, the terracing and improving of the local cemetery, the introduction of a telephone system, paved sidewalks, new business construction and the establishment of a criminal court. "All in all Mr. Caddell has served the town and the College well, as Mayor of Wake Forest -- he has done it without salary ... independent of factional influence and leaves the office with the good will of all."

A state athletic league is forming to consist of representatives of each of the North Carolina male colleges that participate in college athletics to help prevent misunderstandings. For example there was some controversy a couple of years ago as to who had really won the state championship in baseball. It was generally conceded that Wake Forest was the winner but here remained some doubt in the minds of Trinity (Duke) supporters for some time.

Wiggins Drug Store has reopened, having been closed since December when it was struck by a derailed train.

Wake Forest High conducted graduation exercises at Wake Forest Baptist Church last weekend. Graduating were Mildred Lucille Averette, Harriet Elizabeth Coppedge, Mildred Amanda Garner, Ruth Frances Harrison, Joel Francis Paschal, Ruth Paschal, Edith Alma Phillips, Effie Maye Shannahan, Evelyn Shoe, Ruamie Carroll Squires, James Spencer Wilkinson and Margie Helen Young.

Town elections will be held May 2, which reminded writer Gordon A. Phillips of a tale of a past mayoral contest. To wit, he writes, it has been recalled that a certain "Joe" Jeffries, a black janitor of Wake Forest College, almost won the election for mayor back about 35 years ago. Elections in those days were not so hot, that is, until our Joe got mixed into it. The ballot box was placed in the center of town during a certain day and anyone who wanted to vote could cast a ballot as they passed the box. So why not drop in a few for Joe? And that's what happened. Four or five men cast ballots for Jeffries. Only about 12 men used to vote and with Joe's head start he was scheduled to be the next mayor. When it got around to what had taken place just before polls closed at sundown a flurry of ballots were cast to defeat the janitor.

"Shorty" Joyner is in Rex Hospital recovering from a heart attack. Shorty has been in business for a quarter of a century. First he ran the movie where Hollowell's is, then he ran a smoke shop where the soda shop is located. He had hard luck managing movies. The Gem and Collegiate both burned. All the students for years have known Shorty and liked him.

Private first class Walter McKaughan, son of Mr. and Mrs. O.M. McKaughan of Wake Forest, has been awarded the Bronze Star medal for meritorious service in military operations against the enemy in France from last July 29 to December 1.

Bostwick dorm on the college campus was saved from fire by the all-volunteer Wake Forest fire department, under the leadership of Chief F.R. Keith.

Glenn Miller and about 100 followers in the White Patriot Party marched through downtown Wake Forest Saturday, warning if someone "wants another Greensboro, all they have to do is come down here and start something." The marchers were met by an equal number of seminary students, who protested the march by singing "we will overcome." (See photo, above)

Wake County Manager Richard Stevens dedicated the Medical Arts Center in Wake Forest Monday. Doctors at the center will treat general health and mental health problems.

Source for items is online archives of the Wake Forest University newspaper, Old Gold and Black and print archives of The Wake Weekly.

Friday, August 21, 2009


Apologies for the hiatus; check back for occasional updates. -David

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Archie Bunker’s heart was broken

(This story originally appeared in the December 1972 issue of the Wake Forest Magazine and was reprinted in The Wake Weekly a month later.)

There is a soft spot in Archie Bunker’s heart, and nestled there are memories of an adorable young Wake Forest coed.

The truth emerged when Carroll O’Connor, the real-life name for television’s most famous bigot, replied recently to a Wake Forest student’s invitation to participate in next spring’s Challenge symposium. O’Connor spent a year and part of another semester as a student on the old campus, back before World War II.

In his letter, O’Connor regretted his professional life makes such engagements impossible, and then, duty discharged, proceeded to fill the remainder of the two pages with delightful reminiscences of his stay at Wake Forest.

“I am delighted that some of your colleagues remember me from the days [three wars ago] of the old magnolia campus at Wake Forest, though I was seen far less on campus than in ‘Shorty’ Joyner’s pool hall in the town,” he wrote.

“I came to Wake Forest in a funny way. A close friend of mine in New York was planning to go there and I wanted to go where he went, so knowing nothing about the college, I applied and was accepted. My friend then changed his mind, but my mother refused to let me follow suit a second time. Off I went in September 1941 to meet ‘Shorty’ Joyner and became a truly dangerous nine-ball player. I was a wretched student — utterly disinterested in the classroom learning situation — and when I resumed college in 1947 at the University of Montana, I could transfer only one semester’s credit in English gleaned at Wake.

“There were few girls at the old man’s college, just the daughters of the faculty, and with the most adorable of these, Elizabeth Jones. I naturally fell in love. This was sheer futility. Between Miss Jones and any new admirer was a scrambling horde of old admirers, so my ardour was expressed merely in distant looks, of which Miss Jones was not aware.”

Miss Jones, who now lives on Faculty Drive and works with her husband, Russell Brantley, in the University’s News Bureau, agrees with a touch of embarrassment, that she, indeed, was not aware.
In 1941, she was 17, a sophomore, the daughter of Dr. H.B. Jones, English professor, and involved in just about everything going on on campus. She remembers Carroll O’Connor as a “very bright boy, intelligent, but as he said, he just didn’t like school very well.”

O’Connor’s description of her, she protests, is “very exaggerated.”

“But,” she adds, “it is very nice to be remembered in such a glamorous light.”

Thwarted he may have been, but the young O’Connor was not the kind to languish. The remainder of his letter includes some of the decidedly un-Bunkerish observations:

“… My frustration caused me to explore the state. I was a frequent traveler [via thumb] to Raleigh, Durham and Greensboro, and though the goal was girls, I learned a great deal en route about Carolina and its people. Believe it or not, one heard many, many whites even then expressing a certainty — yes, and an anxious wish — that the segregationist culture would soon wither away.

“I knew only one violent Klan type and I knew a few brooding reactionaries who could sound sinister on occasion. I knew a number of racists of the birdbrained windbag type, but my larger impression of Carolinians [forgive me, but I am not fond of ‘Tarheels’] was not at all of a hard people, but of a very sweet people — probably trapped and confused, as James Baldwin believes, in their own incomprehensible American History.

“I last saw Wake in 1945. I was a merchant seaman then — a fireman on an oil tanker, and we were lying useless in Miami with a broken boiler when Truman dropped his persuaders on the Japanese. I quit my ship and found a fellow who was driving to New York, and when we came through Wake Forest we stopped at Mrs. Wooten’s guest house on Route One. I roamed around the town that evening saying hello here and there, and I was touched and surprised almost to the point of disbelief that so many people remembered me — and not only remembered me, but welcomed me back, welcomed me home with love.”

Carroll O’Connor, the actor most famous for his curmudgeonly character Archie Bunker in TV’s All in the Family, died in 2001. The object of his college affection died in 2000 and her husband Russell, director emeritus of Wake Forest University communications, passed away in 2005. But the Joneses do have surviving children, Robin Brantley, assistant to the president of Wake Forest University Health Sciences and Benjamin Brantley, chief drama critic of the New York Times.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Electing a president

In early 1960, Democratic Sen. John F. Kennedy threw his hat in the ring as a contender for the office of President of the United States. Kennedy's priorities included the economy, international aid, national defense, the space program, civil rights, controlling corporate monopolies and upping the minimum wage. His opponent, sitting Vice President and former Navy officer Richard M. Nixon, campaigned largely on his experience.

The Wake Weekly interviewed Wake Forest High School students to see which candidate they would choose if casting a vote in that election. Following are several of their responses:

Roy Lynam (Senior)
"I like Kennedy because he is an American looking to get the most out of his country for all Americans. He realizes the situation that our government is in and wants to do something about it. He wants to improve our relationship with Caribbean countries. He is going to put America back into the driver's seat. America will be second to none..."

Virginia Maupin (Junior)
"My choice for President is Richard M. Nixon. He has experience in both the legislative and executive branches of government. Nixon and his wife have traveled through many foreign countries and have become acquainted with the leaders in these countries. The foreign leaders have had a chance to learn the policies of the Eisenhower administration...We should not necessarily be Democrats or Republicans -- but Americans, and think only about what is best for our country."
"We should not necessarily be Democrats or Republicans -- but Americans, and think only about what is best for our country."

Mike Williams (Sophomore)
"[Nixon] would be a better man because, in being Vice President, he has had experience in presidential matters. I would vote for him also because it appears that Republican presidents have been better qualified to keep the United States out of war more so than Democratic presidents have."

Mary Ann Shearon (Senior)
"I would vote for Senator John Kennedy...First, I believe in Kennedy's policy for the conservation and development of the nation's natural resources for the benefit of all people. Second, with a predominantly Democratic Congress, I believe we need a Democratic president for the government to work smoothly and on constructive principles...The Democrats are for the farmers and small businessmen. What are the people of Wake Forest, but small business and farmers, or people who are dependent on these people?"

Philip Mason (Senior)
"Richard Nixon['s] familiarity with the federal government is thorough, for he has served as Vice President of the United States for eight consecutive years. His trips abroad and his associations with foreign diplomats in the United States assure us that he is capable of handling himself in the field of foreign affairs...The main reason is that he is a member of the Republican party, which stands for peace, prosperity and individuality."

Elizabeth Rich (Senior)
"Whoever wins the coming election is going to have a tough job on his hands -- our foreign policy, especially our dealings with Russia and the fight against Communism; our expanding economy and how to deal with it to prevent depression; the farm problem; a defense program that will protect our country, and yet show all the people of the world that we have peaceful intentions; keeping the federal government from getting too powerful; and protecting the rights of all citizens...I would put my cross mark by Mr. Nixon's name. I do not think that Mr. Kennedy is mature enough or experienced enough in governmental affairs to handle all the difficult problems facing a president of our country."

Monday, October 6, 2008

Making molasses

Known for the ingredient in an old-fashioned Blue Ridge mountains taffy, a deadly disaster in Boston circa 1919 and a gang of comic robbers who used it in 1871 to blind shop owners, molasses was once made by the tubful in the backyard of one Wake Forest resident's East Nelson Avenue home.

In a November 1964 article of The Wake Weekly, Oscar L. Merritt showed reporters how he made cane molasses by the batch, keeping alive what he said then was almost a passing scene. According to the article, "Merritt, who was reluctant to reveal his age, has been making molasses for about 40 years and has had his present equipment since 1934. He said when he began making it people laughed at him, until he turned it into a profitable venture.

"The process is slow and tiresome beginning with a primitive cane mill powered by a mule pulling a long pole in a circle. The pole is attached to gears which turn two rollers that flatten cane stalks being fed into it by hand ... The juice is drained into a bucket. When full, the juice is strained into a keg several yards away where it runs into the cooking pan.

"Starting at one end, the cane juice runs alternately through ends of seven copper trays about four feet long and about eight inches wide. The wood fire is hottest about midway, where the juice boils and changes into molasses. Merritt maintained almost a continuous skimming with a copper scoop with holes in it to take off the waste. The thick molasses then drains out from the last tray when a wooden plug is pulled."

Each batch fills 22 half gallon jars, Merritt said, which he turned around and sold for $2 apiece.

"It's a lot of trouble and I wouldn't fool with it if folks here at home didn't like it," Merritt said.

Mmmm. You can almost taste it.

The homemaker of today

In April 1964, Rebecca Lynn Green, daughter of a school piano teacher and professor of old testament interpretation at the seminary, won the Betty Crocker Homemaker of Tomorrow scholarship and a trip to New York with her home economics teacher, Mrs. R.H. Forrest. Becky intended to use the $1,500 prize toward attending Westhampton College at the University of Richmond. Central to her taking top honors was the essay Becky wrote about her ideal household.

The home, she wrote, would be one of "love, well-distributed responsibility, sound moral and religious convictions, freedom of thought and speech, and opportunity for the development of individual interests, ambitions and talents."

Talk about a prediction!

A passing fad

In 1957, a nonreligious group of humanists won tax exemption for their organization, putting them on par with churches. Following another court case four years later, the term "secular humanism" was coined as way of defining the beliefs of those who derive morality without spiritual guidance. The concept has disturbed the Christian church at all levels since, and led to a March, 1966 seminar on the seminary campus about it, featuring John E. Steely, professor of historical theology and Dr. John Eddins, professor of systematic theology, among others. The men (and the journalist covering the event) did not use the term "humanist," or the phrase "secular humanism," in any place but one, instead preferring the substitute label "the death of God movement," and pinning on it the rise of Marxism and Nazism.

Eddins offered a harsh prediction for the movement: "It's a fad ... the theologians, and those possessed of real piety, will not succumb."

He also took umbrage at the movement's criticism of lack of proofs in God's existence, saying, "the best representatives of Christian thought have never said God could be scientifically demonstrated or proved. He is known by faith and worship."

Steely took a more pragmatic tack: "I can't see that they offer any more effective ways of coming to grips with the social issues of today than the church has, despite the church's slowness," he said.

Slowness to respond to modern conditions was also of concern to Eddins, who issued this warning to his own brethren: "Their answers may be out in left field, but the church must find better ones if it is to win a secular world."

No death of God representative was invited for rebuttal.

(Photo above is of the new faculty building, Patterson Hall, enshrouded in fog)