A lifelong North Carolina resident with an interest in local history, outdoor adventures, politics, and culture.
Started out as a high school history teacher, then worked in public schools under grants from the 1964 Civil Rights Act (teacher education programs.) Then a three year stint as a social worker was followed by several years as a “folkie,” playing string band music, making musical instruments, and presenting indigenous folk performers in public school concerts under a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Change of course: became a carpenter, then a home remodeler, then a home builder, then a remodeling designer. Now, am merging that with free lance photography and writing.
A hopelessly compulsive writer, with more unpublished stuff in the closet than you want to know about. Have recently seen the light of day with a blog on Google Blogger. If an article of mine on Like the Dew interests you, you will find it on the following blog with many more high resolution photos relating to the post.
North Carolina, People and Places http://northcarolinapeople.blogspot.com/Also, for your inner Geek: Handheld Tech Toys http://handheldtechtoys.blogspot.com/
Number of posts: 13
Email address: email
By Bill Phillips:
For five days last November I had been living on milkshakes, soup, apple sauce, and jello. I could not imagine chewing something serious in the foreseeable future. Five days earlier, Ethel, in her final year of dental school at UNC-CH, dressed in wrinkled lavender hospital pajamas, worn gray sneakers, and hair clasped unfashionably out of the way; sliced through my gum, sawed off a piece of my upper jaw bone, filed it flat, then sewed back together what was left. It took her three hours. From all anecdotal evidence, it was her first such procedure.
The fast lane has by-passed Bailey, North Carolina, but if you get off Highway 264 just 36 miles east of Raleigh, you can find it. Bailey is the home of the Country Doctor Museum.
Small places always have stories to tell. Bailey is also where Julius Peppers, bone-crusher for the Chicago Bears, played high school football, rushing for 3,500 yards and scoring 46 touchdowns. In 1980, Bailey hosted a documentary reenactment of a medicine show with performers who 50 years earlier had actually been the attraction in traveling medicine shows …
The Country Doctor Museum, unrelated to medicine shows, of course, has grown from a nostalgic collection of memorabilia into an extensive documentary record of the pre-big business era of medical care
Talk about fun entertainment on a beautiful summer evening with mild temperatures and you probably wouldn’t suggest sitting in the visitors gallery of the North Carolina House of Representatives. Well, reconsider. June 14, was a night of drama, protest, and shouting epithets which brought home loud and clear the reality of the Republican sweep of the legislature last November.
The first sign of conflict was a line of street protesters carrying placards saying “no fracking” and “save our water.” No what? I had no idea, but my son Alex, who suggested this evening’s entertainment, said fracking was a controversial method of drilling for natural gas. The second indication of potential trouble was an excess of legislative police standing around watching visitors.
If you wait long enough, everything comes full circle, not that it’s always a positive human trait. But crew cuts are back, and it’s again safe to express an affection for a Krispy Kreme donut. We North Carolina natives grew up proudly thinking our local state product was a fine intermittent treat, but during the ’80s when the words “gourmet” and “cuisine,” not to mention “nutrition,” were imported into our culture, we learned to keep our mouths shut about the Winston-Salem donut empire.
My friend Dave says, “If you have ever lived in Germany (which he has), the American approach to bread products is incomprehensible.”
In the days of a more level playing field, a healthy mistrust of unregulated private enterprise, and a reliance on the federal government to protect and encourage the eager and energetic under-funded (I refer to 1973 BRR… Before Ronald Reagan), I walked into Terry Sanford’s office at Duke.
Actually, I had humbly asked his secretary for an appointment at some future date, and she instead ushered me directly before the man himself. Uncle Terry, as he was to become affectionately known to the undergraduates at Duke, appeared the antithesis of a political powerbroker… more like a Sheriff Andy Taylor in pinstripes. To call him relaxed would be as understated as calling Fred Astaire limber. You couldn’t not like the guy.
Last night, I was sitting alone in front of a small fire in my backyard, as I’m prone to do on cold nights, cooking a hot dog, when I finally got it about Norman Rockwell … A month earlier, I had taken my sister, Lee, and her husband, Dan, to see the Norman Rockwell exhibit at the North Carolina Art Museum … Somewhere in the ’60s Rockwell left the Saturday Evening Post for Look magazine, and began painting the stories of the Civil Rights era. The impact and the change in the U-shaped scenario has a stunning impact on the viewer.
During the 1950s, as a young boy, I would spend a few weeks each summer in the quiet pine-forested town of Wadley, Georgia at my grandparents’ home. Big Mama and Papa Daddy lived in timeless and poised decorum in a brick cottage bedded in luscious azaleas and centipede grass.
Within site of the front porch swing was the white framed Methodist Church, and every Wednesday night we strolled over there for prayer meeting. As a young fellow I had weathered a domestic storm or two, and I craved a serenity and peace which I found in that Wednesday night hour. The memory has stuck with me for a lifetime.
Prayer meeting began with four or five songs led by layman, Mr. Parker. He took requests. Eventually, someone would ask for “number 55 in the blue book,” “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms.”
I have walked about 100 yards into the deep woods along the ridge at the top of Mt. Mitchell, and the vegetation looks like I’m on Pandora (from Avatar.) … The quiet and cool breezes are so embracing that I find a plump tree trunk, sit down in the soft mulch under it, and pull my mini-laptop out of my backpack to record the scene ….
Being from the “fertile crescent” of the triangle/triad area, I’m not alone with fellow residents in considering Charlotte a bit remote. Of course, we knew that it was the state’s largest city, and that it seemed to get it when it came to making banks, staging car races, and attracting professional sports, but we really thought we were where the water ran truer and bluer.
Having visited Charlotte a few times recently, I’m discovering that folks there couldn’t care less about what we thought, and have been having a pretty fine time regardless. Within about a five block main drag that can make you think for a minute that you are in the heart of Manhattan, Charlotte can put on one whopping street fair. The rest of us could take a few lessons.
How big is the Phosphate Mine? And, where is it? Actually, what is it? I doubt many North Carolina residents who live near it could answer these questions. Well, it’s bigger than you could possibly imagine, it’s north of the tiny coastal town of Aurora near the Pamlico River, and it’s an endless scar across the landscape that digs up million-year-old sediment (full of sharks teeth the size of your fist) and turns it into fertilizer.
And, curiously, it’s owned by some folks in Saskatchewan, Canada, who say they are helping to feed the world, which in the prevailing agricultural economic model, is probably true.
Recently I saw Loudon Wainwright sing a tribute to Charlie Poole in the Reynolds Industries Theater at Duke. For every folk music enthusiast who picked or plucked a string in the ’60s or ’70s, Charlie Poole, who lived in the 1920s north of Greensboro, North Carolina, was known as the first commercially successful string band musician.
The simplicity, the fun, the authenticity, and the down home charm of Charlie Poole were all conveyed by Wainwright‘s performance. In fact, Wainwright himself, not surprisingly, has loads of that good time humor and front porch appeal. His fans have known this for the last 40 years.
I felt weak kneed and silly this summer the first time I drove into the Smithfield cemetery and walked toward Ava Gardner’s grave at her family site. I felt the same the second time I did it recently. I said, “We’ve got to quit meeting like this,” and I left with my psyche barely intact and in awe of the power of this Hollywood Venus over a mere mortal male. Which is, I understand, how every other man that ever met her felt. And, when I met her, she was six feet underground …
This barefoot kid who handed tobacco leaves to her Dad in the hot farm fields near Smithfield brought, in succession, the world’s top box office actor, one of the country’s best clarinetists, the world’s richest man, the world’s most loved crooner, and the world’s best bullfighter all to their knees in blubbering adoration.
I recently watched Charlie Rose interview Penelope Cruz on 60 Minutes. I was reminded of the gift and the curse of having gone to Duke. As a frightened freshman and not much more confident sophomore in the early ’60s, I remember watching a young Charlie Rose march purposefully across campus: tall, skinny but confident, carrying way too many books, always dressed (slightly uncool) in a white short sleeve shirt and dark trousers, seemingly interacting with everyone he met in intense dialogue. Sound familiar?