Category Archives: Divers Items

Greensboro placed at the center of American history — “the earliest known” long-distance Underground Railroad scheme

Bound for Canaan, The Epic Story of the Underground Railroad, America’s First Civil Rights Movement by  Fergus Bordewich, was pronounced by the Wall Street Journal to be “an excellent book . . . as close to a definitive history as we’re likely to see.”

In Bound for Canaan, Bordewich says

By the 1800’s the North Carolina Quakers formed the only sizable abolitionist community south of the border states. Though isolated in an ocean of slaveholders, they were numerous and well organized, and had close links with relatives, friends, and fellow Quakers in the free states. They were uniquely well situated to lay a foundation for the earliest long-distance route of the Underground Railroad.

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Beyond the border states, only in North Carolina, where Quakers provided the critical mass of support, would organized emanciplationist sentiment survive on a significant scale, and produce men radical enough to break the law.

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Levi and Vestal Coffin [from the New Garden community near present-day Greensboro] were shortly to become the founders of the earliest known scheme to transport fugitives across hundreds of miles of unfriendly territory to safety in the free states.

So Bordewich puts Greensboro and Guilford County at the center of the history of the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness in America – a place Greensboro and Guilford have continued to occupy ever since, with the histories of Albion Tourgee, the Sit-In Movement, Henry Frye, the Klan-Nazi Shooting (also referred to as the Greensboro Massacre), and the Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

WELL, Fergus Bordewich will be in Greensboro to speak on November 2. His topic:  “Still Bound for Canaan. The Underground Railroad, its History, and its Meaning for the Twenty-First Century.

That event will be free and open to the public.

Baby Boom summoned back to the barricades — we have an image problem

UNCG’s G.R.O.W.T.H. (“Gerontology Research, Outreach, Workforce, & Teaching Hub”) initiative may have stumbled upon the beginings of a disturbing trend.

The scholars at UNCG have observed that prospective gerontology students, when surveyed, say they want to work with older adults, “but not with Baby Boomers.”

They want to work with people “like my grandmother,” instead of Baby Boomers. (Wisely, no one has pointed out to them yet when grandma was born, and what she was doing back in the ‘60s. That’s what education is for.)

No doubt, this attitude among the young has been provoked by surly (not to say “fake”) media narratives.

OK: Baby Boomers did not defeat the Nazis. That was our parents.

And when it came to Vietnam, we split.

US presidents who are Baby Boomers, none of whom bothered with the war, seem destined for not-very-inspiring chapters in the history books. And, there has always been a certain theme of self-absorption among our entire cohort. We are sometimes referred to as “the Me Generation.”

But, speaking as one of the very first Baby Boomers – an original – pretty soon we’re going to need somebody to take care of us. And somebody has got to study us. (We have always liked that.)

So, it’s back to the barricades.

We’ve got an image problem. We’ve got to figure out a way to charm these Millenials and the now-emerging Generation Z. They need to know: it’s not all about them.

Marcus in a dyspeptic moment

What was he reading?

In his Meditations, Marcus Aurelius advises

Cast out the thirst for books that you may not die growling, but with true graciousness, and grateful to the gods from the heart.

For most of his career, and especially while he campaigned on the northern borders, which is when he wrote The Meditations, Marcus had no access to cable TV.

Allowing for the subsequent passage of time, one may perhaps broadly interpret what he was saying as: “watch too much cable TV and you will die growling.”  Grrrr.

Cast out that thirst.

The “first planter of education” at Guilford College was a woman “who stepped directly from the forest” – Anne the Huntress

Guilford College is rightly celebrated as the first coeducational college in the South.

What may be less well known is the tale of the first “planter of education” in the community that became Guilford College. She was known as “Anne the Huntress.” Her character and attributes color the culture, if not the attire, of women (and men) at Guilford College to this day. She stepped directly from the forest.

Quoth Dorothy Gilbert:

The first planter of education [in the New Garden community] was a woman who stepped directly from the forest in 1790 and vanished away into it seventeen years later. Her coming was dramatic. A large company had gathered to watch a shooting match, and suddenly there was among them a beautiful young woman carrying a highly ornamented rifle and equipped with a shot pouch, belt, hunting knife, and hatchet. She asked permission to take a shot with contesting riflemen: then she stepped to the line, gracefully raised her rifle, took quick aim, and fired. The ball drove the center sixty yards away. And this was the teacher, for Ann the Huntress – she never gave another name – lingered happily in the community for years: and as she visited from home to home, she taught the children for her recreation and killed the deer for her livelihood. She particularly objected to careless pronunciation, and young Quakers began the use of the final consonant. The speech within that neighborhood showed perceptible differences, and Addison Coffin believed that the influence of Anne the Huntress accounted for it and prepared the way for the success of [what became Guilford College].

This teacher “who wore Indian leggings and carried her rifle,” Gilbert believed, ”deserves commemoration in the annals of the profession.” She came from the forest and she planted a tradition of education and refinement at the very beginnings of the New Garden settlement in the Carolinas. “Ann the Huntress” was her name.

To this day, selected Guilford students may be observed to exhibit memorable attire. Perhaps there is a strain of the Huntress in that.

While no latter-day Guilford student is known to carry a silver-plated rifle (nor would a rifle likely be welcome on campus in these parlous times), one account of Ann’s 1790 bullseye reports that she fired a second shot immediately after the first – and landed it “neatly atop the first;” and hitting the mark is another Huntress attribute that characterizes Guilford students to this day. It is seen in the performance of Guilford’s golf and basketball teams, the creations of its Mark Dixon’s sculpture students, and the precision of all those accounting majors.

Issues of careless pronunciation among present-day Guilfordians want closer scrutiny.

 

Contronyms: at the frontiers of language

Somewhere in Southern California, there’s a lady named Judith Herman.  She’s got a blog: Lexie Kahn, Word Snooper. Her snoop is “Lexie Kahn, Private Etymologist.”

Herman is doing good work.

She’s published “25 Words That Are Their Own Opposites;” and “16 More Words That Are Their Own Opposites.” Others are on this trail. Somebody posted “20 Words That Are Their Own Opposites.” Grammarly posted 75 Contronyms (Words with Contradictory Meanings)

Words that mean exactly what they don’t mean.

Go English!

 

 

Basil is for Idiots

Basil is for idiots, but pesto

basil_genovese-plantOver the millennia, the peoples of the Mediterranean have learned a simple but profound truth: Almost anything goes better with olive oil, garlic and a little salt. Maybe some lemon juice. Over time, they realized that, if you have the oil, the garlic, and the salt, then you can just go out into the back yard, scoop up almost anything that’s green and fresh, and mash that up with the oil and garlic and have something good to eat …  although, if you try this, things will go a lot better if you have some basil or parsley in your yard.

Which of course brings the discussion to pesto and pistou and persillade and green sauce. It’s time to get ready.

With fresh basil, you can have the best pesto. The good news is: any idiot can raise good, fresh, plentiful basil.

All basil wants is a lot of sunshine, plenty to drink and a well-drained place to sit. (Basil and I are a lot alike.) You can have all the fresh basil you want – at trifling cost.

It’s a little amazing how many different recipes are described as the one for “classic” pesto, and it’s daunting to observe the near-religious fervor that infuses notes and articles about it. Just put “pesto recipe” into your search engine and push the button.

Remember what Bobby Bare said: “Just buy you some basil and plant it by June, and you’ll be a rocking and a rolling soon.”

Mulebus – Leggett, where school busing – mulebusing – began?

Not Leggett in fact, but in concept

The history of public education in North Carolina is documented. Charles Lee Smith, The History of Education in North Carolina, Bob Etheridge, The History of Education in North Carolina, Benjamin R. Justesen & Scott Mathews, Public Education.

What’s not documented so well is the history of public education in small places in North Carolina. In the late 19th and early 20th Century, small places provided public education for themselves (albeit, on a racially and not equal discriminatory basis). They had small schools, one-room schools, no grade levels, one teacher per school. Out in the country, local citizens provided room and board in their homes for the teachers. Everything was close and personal.

Leggett was such a community: a small place in a remote corner of a county whose prominence was fading with the end of the Civil War. Small and remote? Yes – but even so, for Lower Fishing Creek Township, Leggett was uptown. For all northwest Edgecombe County.

Leggett had its own School Board early on. When the time came for consolidation of one-room schools, Leggett was among the leaders. Lower Fishing Creek. Upper Fishing Creek. With consolidation came the need to bring the students to school. Busing.

Leggett claims to be where school busing began in North Carolina. They did it with mules.

Soup in milk cartons — Spanish; fortune awaits at Greensboro Farmers Market

These Spaniards sell fresh soups, chilled, in the likes of milk cartons in their grocery stores. Sometimes in bottles, like milk bottles. Salmorejo, gazpacho, ajoblanco. Wonderful, highly flavorful, fresh cold soups.

Maybe they do this in grocery stores in the US. I am not a good shopper. Often I don’t see what’s there.

I suppose it’s a close call, but when you can get such soups, so fresh, so easily, and so economically, with little or no chemicals, why would you go to the trouble to make them yourself?

Maybe we could get them at the Farmers Market? They’d need coolers. Like they do for seafood and and chickens.

If not, you’d want to learn to make your own ajoblanco.

Octopuses

Octopuses, they say, have nervous systems that differ radically from ours (us vertebrates). Clusters of nerve endings are located around their bodies and among their many legs. Those nerve junctions can operate independently. They don’t need to send every bit of information back to a central brain. They coordinate directly and independently of brain central.

This makes them quick, resilient and smart in a special way.

We don’t entirely understand them and their angle on consciousness.

In light of this, should we be eating them? With mashed potatoes and alioli?

Fidueà, sepia, creatures from the sea

MidLaw Has returned to the Mediterranean coast of Spain.

These people have a genius for dragging strange creatures from the sea then ingesting them.

The creation of fidueà may have been Spain’s finest hour in the 20th Century. The daring to put the first cuttlefish into the mouth, whatever the century, the most courageous.

They find and boat creatures of the sea, bring them to shore right away, deliver them off their boats little more than 10 yards (maybe meters) to the restaurants, where they cook’em. You eat’em. There. Then.

What a concept.

There’s a fortune awaiting the restaurateur who first brings fideuà to the Carolina coast.