A Legacy Imperiled

Time and weather take their toll on Addor’s Rosenwald School

By Jim Moriarty

You have to step carefully. There’s a massive hole in the roof directly over what was once the kitchen, just inside the back door. The floor still supports your weight. At least for now. An old sign on the wall left over from when it was the community center says “Welcome Addor Friends” but lays down the rules to a vacant building: No Alcohol or Drugs; No Arguing; No Gambling; No Fighting; No Profanity; No Weapons of Any Kind; No Smoking.

Over one door it says “Library/Classroom.” There are still books on the shelves, an Encyclopedia Britannica and a set of World Books so old the Soviet Union still exists. Chairs small enough that a child’s toes can brush the floor are stacked on equally tiny desks built three abreast.

In the “Auditorium,” a glass case shields old photos and scrapbooks of newspaper articles. There’s a dusty ping-pong table and a piano with notes that clunk off the walls of the empty room if you happen to plunk the right key, leaving little behind but the echo.

The Lincoln Park School was built in 1922 on South Currant Street in Addor, the African-American town on the southern edge of Pinebluff where lumber and turpentine workers scratched out an existence in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In 1890 it was the second largest town in Moore County, with a population of 295. Once called Keyser, a phonetically unpopular name in America in the midst of a world war, the town was renamed in October 1918 in honor of Felix Addor, a local man who died on the troopship SS Leviathan — formerly the German passenger liner Vaterland, itself renamed by Woodrow Wilson — during its second Atlantic crossing delivering doughboys to the trenches.

The school was one of 16 Rosenwald schools built in Moore County. The only other documented school remaining is Southern Pines Primary. “The Rosenwald school building effort, structured as a matching grant program, began with a $25,000 gift of Julius Rosenwald [part owner of Sears, Roebuck and Company] made in 1912 to Tuskegee in support of teacher training. At the behest of Booker T. Washington and Clinton J. Calloway, Rosenwald allowed $2,800 of that money to be used in a pilot program to help communities build small rural schools,” writes Claudia Stack, a filmmaker and educator in the New Hanover Schools.

Her documentary about Rosenwald schools, Under the Kudzu, a project nine years in the making, was released in 2012. During the 20 years of the program’s existence, 4,977 schools were built in rural areas across the South and “constitute the most numerous and easily recognizable type of school built by African-American communities during the segregation era,” Stack writes. Until recently the Lincoln Park school had one of the original portraits of Rosenwald himself — a rarity in what remains of the schoolhouses. It has since been removed for safekeeping.

The building is on the National Register of Historic Places, a designation that comes with a firm handshake and hearty pat on the back — but not a penny to keep a 98-year-old wooden structure from collapsing in on itself. “After its construction in 1922 through the cooperative efforts of parents, the Moore County School Board, and the Julius Rosenwald Fund, the Lincoln Park School rapidly became the center of the African-American community located in the Keyser area,” says the registration form of the National Register of Historic Places.

Local involvement was particularly crucial. “Without a local drive to build a school, the project did not move forward,” writes Stack. “This self-help aspect of the school building projects, which bound communities tightly to their new schools, was part of the extraordinary vision shared by Rosenwald, Washington and Calloway.”

After Albert S. Gaston became the school’s first principal in 1921, “he and his wife began to raise funds for the new Lincoln Park School. They visited towns on Friday nights with a program by the school children. Their success was profound: they raised $26 at the first meeting, and at subsequent ones raised $100 dollars in 10 minutes. In total they raised a sum of $1,000,” says the National Register filing.

“I think there is something to be said for them architecturally,” says Stack of the schools. “They represent a progressive architecture. Some of the early buildings were designed by Robert Rochon Taylor, the first African-American architect to graduate MIT. He worked out of Tuskegee. Regardless, in the landscape, they’re a testament to the determination of African-American families to obtain education for their children.”

Lorine McCants, having edged into her 90s, lives a block or so away from the old wooden building where she attended school. “I went there from the first grade to the sixth grade,” says McCants. “It was wonderful. Wonderful. The only thing I didn’t like, we lived up that railroad track, and when it got cold we had to walk from up there. The teachers took care of us, and tried to warm us up the best they could. I remember one teacher. We called him Professor Gray. And Lillian Harris, she was one of the teachers. It was very important. That was the only livelihood we had. The school would have programs, different kinds of activities. It was the center of Addor.”

The Lincoln School was decommissioned in 1949 and became the Addor Community Center in 1952. By 2006, at the end of a series of renovations spanning decades, the building was a fully functional center with computers, a library and a kitchen. It was rental space for family reunions or worship services if one of the local churches couldn’t get its doors open.

McCants did stints at different times as both the president and the treasurer of the community center. “I worked there for I don’t know how long,” she says. “It was just my passion to help the community. I loved it.”

John Bright, who grew up in Addor and lives in Aberdeen, is the current treasurer of the Community Center Board. “It kind of came into disarray in 2008,” says Bright of the building, “and 2010 is when the center began to decline. There was no board then. It had a leak and it started to decay. In 2015 we had the community come together, and a new board was formed. Once we took it on, we saw we were facing something that was very challenging. We haven’t given up. Any way we can have an opportunity to try to sustain something for the Addor community, that’s what we want to do. I still believe there’s hope.”

By Bright’s calculations, roughly 60 percent of the homes in Addor don’t have access to city water or sewer. “The Southern Pines water facility is right there adjacent to Addor, right across U.S. 1. On the other end by the Poplar Springs Church is the Moore County sewer facility,” says Bright. “Why can’t we finish Addor out? The word says what you have done unto the least of my brothers you have done unto me, and Addor has been the least of these for a long time. We’re just trying to find a way, by the grace of God.”

Maybe that old wooden building, its cornices out of square, with the fireplaces for warmth and huge windows for light, “set with the points of the compass,” will somehow, almost miraculously, survive as an intact example of a Rosenwald Four Teacher Community School Floor Plan No. 400. “It would be wonderful if we could get it restored,” says Bright. “But the issue is, what can we do for the children and youth who are there now? Do they have 10 or 15 years to wait on the restoration of a building? What are you going to do for them in the meantime? Addor has a rich history and proud people, but the current state of Addor is not what its citizens want.”

There were 813 Rosenwald schools built in North Carolina, more than in any other state. “The way the educators and the families worked together to really push the students to a higher level of excellence, even though the schools were under-resourced, made a huge impact on North Carolina,” says Stack. “That motto of Winston-Salem State University — Enter to Learn, Depart to Serve — I’ve heard that with slight variations many times from people who attended the schools. That was really the ethic. They bettered their communities because of their experience in those small schools of that era built in black communities.”

It’s a melancholy thing when a bit of history falls into ruin, sadder yet when all that rises in its place is the faintest glimmer of hope.  PS

Jim Moriarty is the senior editor of PineStraw and can be reached at jjmpinestraw@gmail.com.


February blossoms make the cold hard to shake.

Crocus burst open like paper fortune tellers, hellebores whisper prophesies of spring, and in the backyard, where a speckled bird is kicking up fresh mulch, winter Daphne blushes like bright-eyed maidens in faded terra-cotta planters.

All of this, yet winter feels deep-rooted, endless. As if her flowers were cruel illusion. As if your bones could be forever yoked to this chill. 

Then one day, out of nowhere, a new warmth arrives with the daffodils, a new softness beckoning you outdoors.

Beneath the bare-branched sycamore, where the picnic table has all but forgotten its name, February sunshine feels like a warm bath. You’ve brought lunch — a thermos of soup — and as the sunbeams dance across your face and skin, you feel, for the first time in months, as open as the crocus. As if winter might release you. As if hellebores were true harbingers of spring. 

Beside your thermos, a feathery caterpillar edges toward you. Did it fall from the sky? You look up toward bare branches, wonder where he came from, where he’s going, whether he’ll be the speckled bird’s lunch. He’s closer now, gliding across your idle spoon, and as you observe his wispy yellow coat, you see yourself in this tiny being and in what he might become:

Enamored by each fragrant blossom; wide open; ever-seeking the simple grace of light.

February sunshine has transformed us, encoding within us the promise of spring. We can feel it now.

The Lenten Rose

When a plant blooms in the dead of winter, it is neither ordinary nor meek. That plant is a pioneer.

Also called the “Lenten rose”, the hellebore is a beloved and shade-tolerant herbaceous or evergreen perennial — not a rose — that so happens to thrive here. Some species more than others.

Take, for example, the bear claw hellebore, which is named for its deeply cut “weeping” leaves. February through April, this herbaceous perennial displays chartreuse green flowers that the deer won’t touch, and you shouldn’t either (read: toxic when ingested). As the flowers mature, the petal edges blush a soft, pale ruby. Talk about subtle beauty, but more for the eyes than for the nose (its crushed leaves are what give it the nickname “stinking hellebore”).

On behalf of every flower-loving soul aching in their bones for the coming spring, thank you, hellebore. You’re a true queen.

I know him, February’s thrush,

And loud at eve he valentines

On sprays that paw the naked bush

Where soon will sprout the thorns and bines.

— George Meredith, “The Thrush in February,” 1885

Full Snow Moon

The Full Snow Moon will rise at night on Feb. 8, peaking in the earliest hour of the morning on Feb. 9. Also called the Bone Moon, this supermoon (the closest the moon can come to Earth in its orbit) marks a time of heavy snowfall and, in earlier times, little food. If you’re warm and full-bellied, this moon is a good one to share the wealth.

Warm Your Bones

This month in the garden, sow beet, mustard and turnip seeds. Plant your spring salad (loose leaf lettuce, arugula, spinach, carrots, radish, cilantro). But while it’s cold out, soup!

The following recipe from DamnDelicious.net is a quickie — all the better for soaking up more February sunshine while the spring garden grows.

Spinach and White Bean Soup


1 tablespoon olive oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 onion, diced

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

4 cups vegetable stock

2 bay leaves

1 cup uncooked orzo pasta

2 cups baby spinach

1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

Juice of 1 lemon

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Heat olive oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add garlic and onion, and cook, stirring frequently, until onion is translucent, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in thyme and basil until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Stir in vegetable stock, bay leaves and 1 cup water; bring to a boil. Stir in orzo; reduce heat and simmer until orzo is tender, about 10–12 minutes.

Stir in spinach and cannellini beans until the spinach has wilted, about 2 minutes. Stir in lemon juice and parsley; season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Serve immediately.  PS

Every gardener knows that under the cloak of winter lies a miracle . . . a seed waiting to sprout, a bulb opening to the light, a bud straining to unfurl. And the anticipation nurtures our dream. — Barbara Winkler

In the Spirit

Rum Discovery

Straight up sugar cane

By Tony Cross

In the spring of 2018, I was able to get into the five-year anniversary party at the mezcal bar Gallo Pelon in Raleigh. It was a fun night shared with close friends at one of my favorite bars. What made the evening even more special was my introduction to Oaxacan Agricole rum.

Near the end of every year, I place my order online for different spirits that aren’t available through our state’s ABC system (which would be many). It’s basically my Christmas present to myself. Copious amounts. It never dawned on me to search for rums from the Oaxacan region until that night. So I did, and grabbed a bottle from Haiti while I was at it. I drank both bottles bone-dry, and couldn’t remember my name or how to do times-tables for three days.

I’m lying. I was the first kid in my third-grade class to remember their multiplication tables; that will never fade from my memory.

Paranubes Oaxacan Agricole Rum

“Made in the northern highlands of Oaxaca, where a sparsely inhabited sub-tropical climate produces some of the best sugar cane on Earth. Third-generation distiller Jose Luis Carrera works with several local varieties of cane grown organically and minimally processed during distillation, using only the fresh, lightly pressed cane juice.”

That’s the first thing I read about Paranubes rum. The next thing I noticed is the whopping 54 percent alcohol by volume. Yeah, I had to give this one a go. When it arrived (along with the other types of spirits I purchased), it was the first bottle I opened. On the nose, I could definitely smell sugar cane as soon as I popped the cork. But once in the glass, there was a peppery smell to it that I couldn’t quite nail down.

The next day, my buddy Carter gave it a go, and before his first sip, he said, “Hmm . . . smells like ketchup.” That’s it! I should’ve gotten that; I eat ketchup on almost everything. We both agreed it was a beautiful rum, from the nose, to the back of the palate. Just straight-up sugar cane. No additives. I read on their website that Jose Luis Carrera is able to produce 85 liters a day — the bottle is one liter. He could distill more for a faster production time, but doesn’t want to compromise the balance of his rum. Talk about quality.

The first drink I made with this was the classic Ti’ Punch: just a touch of organic cane sugar, lime, and Paranubes rum made my holiday week a little less stressful. I’ll give a recipe below.

Clairin Sajous Haitian Rhum Agricole

What struck my curiosity with this bottle were two things: One, it’s only been on the market for a couple of years; and two, I’ve never tasted clairin before. It was introduced to me as an eau de vie, similar to white Agricole rhums. So, what exactly is clairin? In a nutshell, it’s a distilled spirit made from sugar cane juice that is produced in Haiti. It gets its name (kleren in Haitian Creole) from its clear color. This clairin comes from an independent distillery that sits in the northern high-altitude village of Saint Michel de L’Attalaye and is run by Michel Sajous.

Just like the distillery of Paranubes, the Sajous Clairin is organically cultivated. Sajous uses the cristalline variety of sugar cane. This type of sugar cane doesn’t yield as much juice when pressed compared to larger production rum companies, but the juice that it does hold has a ton of character. In fact, this type of cane comes from small villages that use machinery without electricity. The sugar cane is also cut by hand and transported by ox carts or donkeys to the distilleries.

Wild beasts and sugar cane. That’s it, folks. It smells stronger than it tastes: grassy, slightly fruity, and very clean. Don’t let the 107 proof on the label scare you — indeed, this is high-octane, but there is so much flavor to decipher, and the clean finish makes this a new staple in my bar. I’m ordering three bottles next time. I recommend the Clairin Sajous definitely in a daiquiri, or on the rocks.

Are you a fan of rum? I feel like there are two groups: Those that like common, molasses-based rum (Molasses is made by boiling sugar cane juice, and then skimming off the top while it’s boiling. After this process is repeated many times, the end result is a thick and sweet liquid.) and those who like Agricole rhums that are made from sugar cane juice. I say that the first group likes “common rum” because that rum is everywhere and is always sweeter. Agricole rum can be more effluvious or funky, and that’s the rum I prefer.

Ti’ Punch

1 teaspoon organic cane sugar

1 fat lime wedge (not that half-moon, sliver-of-a-lime nonsense)

2 ounces rhum agricole (I use Paranubes)

Place sugar and lime into a rocks glass. Gently muddle lime into the sugar. Release the oils of the lime into the juice without pulverizing it. Add rum and ice. Give it a quick stir. Take your time and enjoy. PS

Tony Cross is a bartender (well, ex-bartender) who runs cocktail catering company Reverie Cocktails in Southern Pines.

Desserts We Love

By Jenna Biter   •   Photography By John Koob Gessner

Somehow, the riotous and violent Roman festival of Lupercalia, meant to dispel evil spirits and bring fertility and purity to the city, commingled with the beheading of one or more St. Valentines and evolved into our modern celebration of romance – Valentine’s Day. The English poet Geoffrey Chaucer mentions birds mating in February one time, and, voilà, a celebration of affection and adoration is born. Or something like that.

Regardless of its possibly disturbing and definitely mysterious origins, the lovey-dovey holiday’s current state is as crystal clear as the Swarovski necklace she probably wants. It’s all about reds and pinks, flowers and dinner dates, friendship and romance, and, of course, chocolates, desserts — and chocolate desserts. Lucky for you, we’ve compiled a drool-worthy list of Valentine’s Day-approved confections from restaurants and bakeries in the Sandhills. Whether you’re a two-weeks-in-advance reservation maker or a last-minute “oh-damn” shopper, we have sweets for you and your other half. Or just you.

Ashten’s Restaurant

Pastry Chef: Zarah Wetmore

“I was the kid that wanted the Easy Bake Oven, but my mom and dad said, ‘No, use the real oven,’” says Zarah Wetmore of her baking roots. “I never got a light bulb oven.” And that might be why Wetmore is baking desserts as the pastry chef at Ashten’s Restaurant, and we’re not. Her Valentine’s Day dessert is a sophisticated and romantic take — a pink Champagne and St. Germain (an elderflower liqueur) cake finished in Swiss meringue buttercream that’s flavored with the floral liqueur, as well. It’s a lovely pink color inside, and the cake is garnished with a bit of molecular gastronomy — strawberry caviar. Fun fact: Fruit caviar has nothing to do with fish roe, but it is made with agar-agar, a gelatinous substance that comes from red seaweed. Boil fruit juice with agar-agar, then eye-drop the mixture into oil, where it beads into “caviar.” Who knew Valentine’s Day can be romantic and a learning experience? And, most importantly, delectable.

C.Cups Cupcakery

Owner and Baker: Janell Canino

“I feel like for Valentine’s Day people do a lot of chocolate, and chocolate-covered strawberries are popular,” says owner and baker of C.Cup’s Cupcakery Janell Canino on the inspiration for her celebratory dessert. Allegedly making their debut in 1960s Chicago, chocolate-covered strawberries definitely are a Valentine’s Day favorite, and the combination of chocolate and strawberries makes sense for a romantic holiday — both foods are thought to be aphrodisiacs — even if the scientific community isn’t sold on their efficacy. Lucky for us, we can enjoy this festive combination (amorous powers or not) at C.Cups atop its cheesecake cupcake. “Our cheesecakes are extremely popular, so I figured I’d do a little twist on the cheesecake and do a chocolate truffle,” Canino explains. Her ultimate creation for the lover’s holiday is a chocolate truffle cheesecake cupcake finished with a chocolate whipped topping, chocolate shavings and a chocolate-covered strawberry. It’s a chocolate lover’s dream.

The Ice Cream Parlor

Confectioner: Dixie Parks

The story of the cherry cordial, a confection with a liquid cherry center and chocolate shell, starts with medicinal tonics in the 1400s and continues today with the candy’s popularity during winter holidays and, of course, Valentine’s Day. “My grandfather loved them, and he would hide them in a box when he got them and stow them away, so he wouldn’t have to share,” says Dixie Parks of The Ice Cream Parlor. The mass-manufacture of the cherry candy began in the late 1800s and, by the 20th century, it sparked a fondness for “stashing away” the sweet not unlike Parks’ grandfather. Nostalgia for the candy remains today, and we’re happy it does, because Parks highlights the confection in her spectacular holiday ice cream — chocolate cherry cordial. It’s a chocolate and cherry cordial base with chunks of chocolate-covered cherries and chocolate shavings mixed in. “We tried to do a more sophisticated blend,” says Parks of her Valentine’s Day treat. We think she hit the mark, and, no, you don’t have to share.

Meat and Greek Eatery

Owners: Oresti and Brittany Arsi

Baklava, popular in the historic Levant, is a staple of Greek cuisine. “We do it a little bit different than a traditional Greek baklava,” says owner of Meat and Greek Eatery Oresti Arsi. The local restaurant’s recipe for the classic is layered with phyllo dough, brown sugar, a syrup with a complex formula, and a nut mixture of walnut, pistachio and thyme honey that’s imported from Greece. Then, it’s cut into a heart shape and served with a syrup drizzle for romantic flair. Order it to taste Arsi’s twist on this classic, or just to enjoy good baklava. More of a chocolate fan? Opt for Meat and Greek’s other celebratory dessert instead (page 72). It’s a dome layered with cake and chocolate mousse, and covered in a shimmery golden shell, courtesy of Arsi’s cousin, who runs Yia Yia’s Bakery in Baltimore. “We love how it’s sparkly,” says Oresti. And so will she.

The Carolina Dining Room at The Carolina Hotel

Executive Pastry Chef: Shelly Taylor

The Carolina Dining Room’s Shelly Taylor began her pastry career in Scottsdale, Arizona, before it took her to the kitchens of Pebble Beach, California, and Maui, Hawaii. The next stop on her baking trajectory brought her back to the continental U.S. to our very own Pinehurst, and that’s great news for your Valentine’s Day plans. Taylor is showcasing a milk chocolate mousse dipped in a chocolate hazelnut crunch, and it’s accompanied by a flourless chocolate cake, salted caramel, fresh raspberries, vanilla Chantilly whipped cream and a beautiful chocolate curl. It’s everything you want in a date-night dessert — sophisticated flavors, chocolate and more chocolate all served to you in the crystal-chandeliered dining room of The Carolina Hotel. “We’ve been here for five-and-a-half years, and I love it,” Taylor said of her time in the area. “I don’t think we plan on moving anytime soon.” With desserts like this, we hope not.

Lynette’s Bakery and Café

Owner and Baker: Lynette Bofill

If you love, hate or don’t care about Valentine’s Day, Lynette Bofill of her eponymous bakery and café has you covered. Her smorgasbord of festive treats is sure to satisfy everyone from love and friendship fanatics to holiday curmudgeons. Heart-shaped sugar cookies finished with vanilla icing and buttercream writing boast traditional mushy gush like “XOXO” or “I Love You,” and anti-holiday wit like “I Tolerate You” or “Stupid Cupid.” Bofill laughs. “I have some friends who hate Valentine’s.” Well, these satirical cookies will certainly please them. She also has M&M brownies with multicolor candies for friends, red and pink candies for lovers, and plain brownies for people who just want a brownie. And her 6-box of cupcakes? It’s for anyone who likes delicious. The sextuplet features strawberry champagne, dark chocolate raspberry injected with jam, honey graham, red and pink confetti, triple chocolate, and red velvet with cream cheese frosting. Yes, please.

Thyme and Place Café

Dessert Chef: Jari Miller

“We come from an area with a large Italian influence,” says Thyme and Place Café’s Jari Miller of her time in Syracuse, New York. But she doesn’t notice that influence much in the Sandhills, and she’s trying to establish it here via Italian desserts. “At Christmastime we did Italian cookies, which were a huge thing for us when we were in Syracuse,” Miller gushes. “We shipped 3,000 pounds all over America every Christmas.” Fast-forward to the present, and Miller’s Valentine’s Day confection for Thyme and Place is, you guessed it, Italian. It’s a cannoli cake iced in buttercream and topped with traditional pistachio and chocolate chip cannoli, maraschino cherries, a chocolate ganache drizzle and red heart decorations to set the mood. The inside is equally as mouthwatering — two layers of moist vanilla cake with the bottom layer hollowed out and filled with cannoli cream. Yum. If Italian desserts are all this good, we’re on board.  PS

Jenna Biter is a fashion designer, entrepreneur and military wife in the Sandhills. She can be reached at jenna.l.knouse@gmail.com.


February Books


A Long Petal of the Sea, by Isabel Allende

In the late 1930s, civil war has gripped Spain. When Gen. Francisco Franco and his Fascists succeed in overthrowing the government, hundreds of thousands are forced to flee in a treacherous journey over the mountains to the French border. Among them is Roser, a pregnant young widow, who finds her life irreversibly intertwined with that of Victor Dalmau, an Army doctor and the brother of her deceased love. As the two refugees flee to France, eventually landing in Chile, where they build a life together, they find no place is immune from political strife. A story about making a home wherever you are.

Apeirogon, by Colum McCann

Named for a polygon with an infinite number of sides, Bassam Aramin (Palestinian) and Rami Elhanan (Israeli) inhabit a world of conflict that colors every aspect of their daily lives, from the roads they are allowed to drive on to the schools their daughters, Abir and Smadar, each attend, to the checkpoints both physical and emotional that they must negotiate. Their worlds shift irreparably after 10-year-old Abir is killed by a rubber bullet, and 13-year-old Smadar becomes the victim of suicide bombers. When Bassam and Rami learn of one another’s stories, they recognize the loss that connects them, and they attempt to use their grief as a weapon for peace.

The Cactus League, by Emily Nemens

Jason Goodyear is the star outfielder for the Los Angeles Lions, stationed with the rest of his team in the punishingly hot Arizona desert for their annual spring training. Handsome, famous and talented, Goodyear is nonetheless coming apart at the seams. Everyone is eager to find out why, even as they hide secrets of their own. Narrated by a sportscaster, Goodyear’s story is interspersed with tales of Michael Taylor, a batting coach trying to stay relevant; Tamara Rowland, a resourceful spring training paramour, looking for one last catch; Herb Allison, a legendary sports agent grappling with his decline; and a plethora of other richly drawn characters, all striving to be seen as the season approaches. A tight debut novel by the editor of Paris Review.

Amnesty, by Aravind Adiga

Danny, formerly Dhananjaya Rajaratnam, is an illegal immigrant in Sydney, Australia, denied refugee status after he fled Sri Lanka. Working as a cleaner, living out of a grocery storeroom, for three years he’s been trying to create a new identity for himself. With his beloved girlfriend, Sonja, his hidden accent and highlights in his hair, he is as close as he has ever come to living a normal life. But then one morning, Danny learns a female client of his has been murdered. The deed was done with a knife, at a creek he’d been to with her before; and a jacket was left at the scene, which he believes belongs to another of his clients — a doctor Danny knows the woman was having an affair with. He’s confronted with a choice: come forward with his knowledge about the crime and risk being deported; or say nothing, and let justice go undone. Evaluating the weight of his past, his dreams for the future, and the unpredictable, often absurd reality of living invisibly and undocumented, he must wrestle with his conscience and decide if a person without rights still has responsibilities.

Salt River, by Randy Wayne White

A local author returns with a thrilling tale of marine biologist and former government agent Doc Ford and his friend, avowed bachelor and beach-bum pal Tomlinson, who is confronted by rash past decisions that escalate to deadly present-day dangers. As a young man, Tomlinson fathered multiple children via for-profit sperm bank donations, and his now-grown offspring have tracked him down, seeking answers about their roots. Doc quickly grows suspicious that one of them might be planning something more nefarious than a family reunion. In addition to watching Tomlinson’s back, Doc encounters a number of unsavory individuals, including a disgraced IRS investigator and a corrupt Bahamian customs agent, after their cut of a cache of precious Spanish coins he quietly “liberated” from a felonious treasure hunter. Doc has no choice but to get creative.


Race Against Time: A Reporter Reopens the Unsolved Murder Cases of the Civil Rights Era,
by Jerry Mitchell

Mitchell takes readers on the twisting, pulse-racing road that led to the reopening of the investigations into four of the most infamous killings from the days of the civil rights movement. As an investigative journalist with a mission, his work played a central role in bringing killers to justice for the assassination of Medgar Evers, the firebombing of Vernon Dahmer, the 16th Street Church bombing in Birmingham, and the Mississippi Burning case. Mitchell reveals how he unearthed secret documents, found long-lost suspects and witnesses, and built evidence strong enough to take on the Klan. He takes us into every harrowing scene along the way, meeting one-on-one with the very murderers he is seeking to catch. His efforts put four leading Klansmen behind bars, years after they thought they had gotten away with murder. Race Against Time is an astonishing, courageous story as the past is uncovered, clue-by-clue, and long-ignored evils are brought into the light.

The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family and Defiance During the Blitz, by Erik Larson

Larson shows, in cinematic detail, how Churchill taught the British people “the art of being fearless.” It is a story of political brinkmanship, but also an intimate domestic drama, set against the backdrop of Churchill’s prime-ministerial country home, Chequers; his wartime retreat, Ditchley; and, of course, 10 Downing Street in London. Drawing on diaries, original archival documents and once-secret intelligence reports — some released only recently — Larson provides a new lens on London’s darkest year through the day-to-day experiences of Churchill and his wife, Clementine, their youngest daughter, Mary (who chafes against her parents’ wartime protectiveness), and their son, Randolph, with his beautiful, unhappy wife, Pamela, and her lover, a dashing American emissary. All comprised Churchill’s “Secret Circle,” to whom he turned in the hardest moments.

Author in Chief: The Untold Story of Our Presidents and the Books They Wrote, by Craig Fehrman

Fehrman opens a rich new window into presidential biography. From volumes lost to history like Calvin Coolidge’s Autobiography, which was one of the most widely discussed titles of 1929, to ones we know and love like Barack Obama’s Dreams From My Father (very nearly never published), and gems like Abraham Lincoln’s collection of speeches, titled Political Debates between Hon. Abraham Lincoln and Hon. Stephen A. Douglas, Fehrman delivers countless insights about the presidents through their literary works.

The Hope of Glory: Reflections on the Last Words of Jesus from the Cross, by Jon Meacham 

The Pulitzer Prize-winning author explores the seven last sayings of Jesus as recorded in the Gospels, combining rich historical and theological insights. For each saying, Meacham composes a meditation on the origins of Christianity and how Jesus’ final words created a foundation for oral and written traditions that upended the very order of the world. In a tone more intimate than many of his previous award-winning works, Jon Meacham returns us to the moment that transformed Jesus from a historical figure into the proclaimed Son of God.

Until the End of Time: Mind, Matter and Our Search for Meaning in an Evolving Universe, by Brian Greene 

From the world-renowned physicist and best-selling author of The Elegant Universe comes this captivating exploration of deep time and humanity’s search for purpose. Through a series of nested stories that explain distinct but interwoven layers of reality — from quantum mechanics to consciousness to black holes — Greene provides us with a clearer sense of how we came to be, a finer picture of where we are now, and a firmer understanding of where we are headed. With this grand tour of the universe, Greene allows us all to grasp and appreciate our fleeting but utterly exquisite moment in the cosmos.


Lola Dutch, I Love You So Much, by Kenneth and Sarah Jane Wright

Lola, Gator, Crane and Pig are back, and we love them so much! In this fun follow-up to Lola Dutch When I Grow Up, Lola finds ways to show her friends just how special they all are. Perfect for fans of Ladybug Girl or Pinkalicious. Young listeners can never have too much Lola Dutch. (Ages 3-6.)

In a Jar, by Deborah Marcero

Together, in jars big and small, Llewellyen and Evelyn collected buttercups, feathers and heart-shaped stones. They collected rainbows, the sound of the ocean and the wind just before snow falls. And when a move separates the collectors, they share friendship in a jar across the miles. (Ages 3-6.)

Just Like Mama, by Alice Faye Duncan

Mama Rose makes sure Olivia learns to ride a bike, has her hair braided just so, and that she plays outside every day. Mama Rose tells Olivia one day she will grow her own wings and fly, just like Mama. And Mama Rose tells Olivia she is loved. Just Like Mama is the perfect way to honor everyone who fills the gap when Mama cannot always be there. (Ages 3-6.)

Ashlords, by Scott Reintgen

Ashlords, Davidians, Longhands — three clashing cultures whose names will soon be household names after Reintgen’s brilliant new novel, Ashlords, sets the YA world on fire in January 2020. With Phoenix horse races, powerful young adversaries and a world teetering on the brink of war, fans of Marie Lu’s Legend series or and Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games will devour Ashlords. (Ages 12 and up.)  PS

Compiled by Kimberly Daniels Taws and Angie Tally

The Accidental Astrologer

The New and the Proud

Transformation is the name of the game

By Astrid Stellanova

The new year’s percolating, the stars are circulating and a new you is brewing. . . Or an old you looking like it is
walking back, doing the Benjamin Button reverse strut.

Time to make self-renewal an inside job, Star Children. It is a brutally difficult process, true enough, but ignore at your own peril. Otherwise, we will be tsk-tsking all of 2020 about how nobody has ever done so little with so much.

Aquarius (January 20–February 18)

In simple terms, karma is best put: “Ha, Ha, Ha!” Someone has made your life complicated, and it appears they have wedged themselves into your reality and have started occupying more than a little space in your head. Evict them. Honeybun, you don’t have to be a cactus expert to recognize a real prick. 

Pisces (February 19–March 20)

Hush up, Puppy! You got what you want, and like the dog chasing the car, you gotta figure out what to do now that you’ve caught it. 

Aries (March 21–April 19)

If it’s the thought that counts, Sugar, you could be sitting in jail. You’ve had to face off with a worthy adversary, so now find your inner peace before they shred that, too.

Taurus (April 20–May 20)

Good heart, bad mouth. That would just about fit on your tombstone. A kinder, gentler world may begin with small things, like you giving up cussin’ and swearin’.

Gemini (May 21–June 20)

Time to get your own health and life on track to avert scary stuff. The seesaw you’re on has you stewing in your own stress, and believing a balanced meal is a cookie in both hands.

Cancer (June 21–July 22)

This month offers chances to alter your life from status quo sis boom blah, to va-va-voom! The changes you crave are reachable; begin at the beginning. Choose differently.

Leo (July 23–August 22)

Yankee or Y’all? Pick a team. Influences have made you question your roots, values, sense of self, even your identity. Honey, get grounded, meditate and re-evaluate.

Virgo (August 23–September 22)

Under threat, you tend to hide in your comfort zone, which is like a sleeping bag kind of comfort; but with no style. Even Norma Kamali couldn’t make over this schleppy look.

Libra (September 23–October 22)

Obsession looms large for you this month. A hobby overtakes you. Were you crazy even before the goat yoga? Check that tendency to overdo anything worth doing. 

Scorpio (October 23–November 21

Time to plunge both hands into the cookie jar. Get piggy with it. Allow yourself to get totally wrapped up in something. Immersion will finally cure an old itch for you.

Sagittarius (November 22–December 21)

Y’all ain’t right. But it has been so much fun playing, you might not want to stop. In the meantime, pay attention to numbers around you. Sugar, seven signifies something.

Capricorn (December 22–January19)

Attitude adjustment: Yeah? No. Say the word, often and firmly, to a very stubborn close one who thinks they will always, and should always, get their way. It stops now.  PS

For years, Astrid Stellanova owned and operated Curl Up and Dye Beauty Salon in the boondocks of North Carolina until arthritic fingers and her popular astrological readings provoked a new career path.


The Arrow

I tried to explain Cupid to a 4-year-old today. 

He was making a Valentine for his grandmother, 

festooning a pink paper heart with stamps and stickers, 

writing ‘I love you’ across it in big, shaky letters. 

Then he asked about one of the stickers: 

Why does that heart have an arrow through it? How sad.

Even after I told him that it was more like being ‘struck by love,’ 

he held his hand over his chest. 

I don’t want Cupid to shoot me, he said. 

That would hurt.

I couldn’t disagree.

— Ashley Wahl

Mom Inc.

No Sweat

But lots and lots of perspiration

By Renee Whitmore

It’s winter break. Most 16-year-olds are Netflix binging, texting back and forth with the friend sitting right next to them, eating too much McDonalds, and overall doing whatever it is 16-year-olds do.

I’m waiting in my car, listening to my latest audiobook, in the parking lot outside the school. He said he would be done at 11 a.m., but I’ve done this enough to know that time is relative when it comes to wrestling practice. It’s already 11:12.

I text him, “I’m here. Groceries in the trunk. Hurry up.”

Time ticks by. I listen to my book and check Facebook for holiday updates. Nothing exciting. I can pretty much hear the ice cream melting in the trunk. Wait, no, it’s 37 degrees outside. It should be fine.

Then I see him, walking with a limp, surrounded by his teammates. He has no shirt on. (Did I mention it’s 37 degrees?) Sweat glistens over his skin. He’s carrying his gym bag with one hand and his wrestling shoes with another. He sees me, continues to limp to the car.

How was it?” I ask after he slides into the passenger seat. “Why are you limping?”

“I had to train with the 152. It was rough.” (Wrestlers refer to each other not by name, but by weight.)

“Are you over?”

“Eight pounds.”

“You have two days.”

“Yeah. I can do it. I’m burning up. Can I turn on the AC?” he says, as he switches the knob from heat to cold and blasts the air. I shiver. (Did I mention it’s 37 degrees outside?)

His next tournament is in two days. Losing 8 pounds in two days sounds like a feat. Heck, I have been struggling with losing the same 5 pounds for a year-and-a-half. But I have learned, for wrestlers, it’s no biggie. They know all the tricks.

I used to hold my breath every time he stepped on the scale at home, wondering how a 5-foot, 6-inch manboy could wrestle in the 120-pound weight class. He’s naturally around 135-140, but this season, as a sophomore wrestling varsity, he decided he was going to wrestle 120 because his height would give him an advantage.

“I have practice again at 3,” he says, as he bites into a protein bar and takes a tiny swallow of water.


We pull into our driveway, he helps me unload the groceries, and before I can even get them all put way, he is running on the treadmill. I know the next two days will be rough. He will limit his food and water intake drastically.

He will take hot baths to “sweat.” I’ll hear him in there, letting lukewarm water out and filling it with steaming hot water over and over. Our water bill . . . well, you’d think we pressure-washed Mount Rushmore.

And he will run. He will run outside and on the treadmill several times a day. I will be trying to drift off to sleep around 11 p.m., and I will hear the hum and rhythm start up and the thump, thump, thump of his feet on the treadmill.

He tries other techniques to lose weight, too. For example, the other day while he was at school, I got a photo text of a half-filled water bottle.

I answered with a question mark.

“It’s spit. I think it’s at least a pound.”

“Gross,” I reply.

The days leading up to a tournament can be grueling, not just for him, but for all of us. No one wants to eat around him. The other day my husband, Jesse, was eating macaroni and cheese in our bedroom. “I don’t want him to see me eat,” Jesse said as he scooped a forkful into his mouth.

And then there’s the irritability that can’t really be avoided. He’s irritable because he’s hungry. I’m irritable because he’s hungry. My husband and other son are irritable because he’s hungry. I pray for patience.

On the day of the tournament, I wait for the text after weigh-ins. It’s just a number.





And I will breathe a sigh of relief. He made it. I will send him back the emoticon with the flexing biceps. “Now, eat something. Please.”

He will down a sandwich, a few protein bars, Gatorade, and water to get his strength back. In an hour or so, he will wrestle.

And the fun will begin.  PS

When Renee isn’t teaching English or being a professional taxi driver for her two boys, she is working on her first book.

Simple Life

The Winter Gardener

There’s plenty of life stirring beneath the season’s snows

By Jim Dodson

As you read this, the first winter of the new decade is drawing to a close.

Like a certain fabled snowman who danced with the village children until he began to melt away, I rather hate to see it go.

Winter, you see, is my favorite gardening season.

Perhaps this is because I am a son of winter, reportedly born during the height of a February snowstorm on Groundhog Day way back in 1953.

Or maybe my wintry affection stems from two decades of living on a forested hill in Maine, where the snow piled up before Christmas and I learned most of what I know about resourceful living and “making do” — as they say in the North Country — including the art of keeping the home fires burning and loved ones warm.

The light of winter is another of the season’s charms. Clear winter stars over our hilltop provided a dazzling show of celestial beauty, and the feel of the winter sun on your face on a cold, clear afternoon is like a benediction in Nature’s chapel.

Whenever I’m having difficulty falling asleep, I remember cold clear nights when I donned my red wool Elmer Fudd coat and toted a 50-pound bag of sorghum pellets to the spot at the forest’s edge. There, a family of whitetail deer waited patiently for their supper in the arctic moonlight during the hardest nights of year — a memory of fellowship with mythic creatures that never fails to ease me into sleep on my own winter nights.   

It’s possible that my fondness for what poet Christina Rossetti called the “bleak midwinter”  is simply written in the stars. Both my parents were Aquarians with midwinter birthdays just days before my own in early February. Ditto my firstborn child, a beautiful baby girl who appeared during a January blizzard that left the world quilted in white as the golden morning sun spread over Casco Bay, moments after young Maggie’s debut.

When we carried her home to Bailey Island, our unplowed lane lay so deep in snow we were forced to park at the village post office and slide down a steep hill to our back door just steps from the cobalt blue sea. The memory of my newly arrived Southern mother giddily whooping as she tobogganed down the hill on her bottom still makes me smile. Maggie made the trip all bundled into my arms — and claims to remember the journey to this day.

Winter’s other gifts included our annual winter solstice party where friends and neighbors came out of the frigid night to sing and dance for their supper and — because I married into a clan of real Glaswegian Scots — a Hogmanay celebration on New Year’s Eve that included dancing to fiddle reels and toasting with good Islay-made Scotch with Big Ben dialed up on the shortwave radio at 7 p.m. — and sing in bed by nine. The drunks in Times Square could never compete with that.

To some extent or another, of course, every one of these seasonable pleasures can be found in North Carolina winter as well, including cold nights, clear stars, holiday lights, good Scotch and fiddle reels and — despite global warming — the occasional surprise snowfall that stops a madding world in its tracks.

But winter here has one significant advantage over life on a snowy hilltop in Maine.

In the North Country, once the deep cold and snows arrived, I could only tend the fire, browse seed catalogs and picture the ambitious things I planned to do in my garden once the frozen ground thawed and was fully in view again — generally around Easter time, if we were lucky.

Thanks to kinder and gentler Southern winters, however, I am able to get to work planning and digging even before Hogmanay arrives. With Nature at parade rest and stripped to bare essentials, I not only can see the architecture of my garden, but also take stock of last summer’s botanical successes and bonehead miscues.

This year, for example, with the new decade just hours away, I spent five blessedly solitary hours getting gloriously dirty in my winter garden on New Year’s Eve. To briefly review my loves’ labors, I dug up and transplanted seven rose bushes and nine ornamental grasses; moved a mophead hydrangea to a shadier spot and six Russian sages to a sunnier one. I also planted a splendid Leland cypress, raked up the last of the autumn leaves and spread a dozen wheelbarrows worth of new hardwood mulch.

By the time I was finished — and the work finished me — the mistress of the estate required me to strip bare at the side door before entering her gleaming New Year’s kitchen, though she’ll flatly tell you that she never sees me happier than after a few well-spent hours digging in my winter garden, headed for a good soak in the tub or a hot shower.

Dig in the soil, goes the old gardener’s ditty — delve in the soul.

Even William Shakespeare seemed to find this time of year irresistible for contemplation of life’s passing seasons.

That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou see’st the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west;
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death’s second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou see’st the glowing of such fire,
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the death-bed, whereon it must expire,
Consumed with that which it was nourish’d by.
This thou perceiv’st, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well, which thou must leave ere long.

His theme, of course, is the brevity of life.

As February dawns, such wintry thoughts come naturally to my mind as well, for I reach my mid-60s this year and am both amused and astonished how quickly the notion of “old age” has arrived.

Save for a pair of dodgy knees that make gardening’s up and down a bit more challenging, I honestly don’t feel a day over 40 — yet I know I’m in the midwinter of my allotted visitation time, with scarce time to waste for being present in my own days, whatever the season.

“Tho’ I am an old man,” as Founding Father Thomas Jefferson wrote to his friend Thomas Willson Peale in August of 1811, “I am but a young gardener.”

Two and one-half decades ago, when I really was in my 40s, I spent the entire month of February by my own founding father’s bedside, serving as his caretaker as he slipped the bonds of Earth.

What a fine and joyful life he’d led — my nickname for him was “Opti the Mystic” — and what a privilege it was to simply sit by his bed talking about this and that, weather and wives, golf and grandchildren, nothing left unsaid, saying thank-you as his life gently ebbed away.

The end came a few days into March, after a night of sleet gave way to a stunning spring morning full of sunshine and birdsong.

My oldest friend Patrick turned up, seemingly unbidden, suggesting we go play the old goat farm golf course where we learned to play as kids.

I have no memory of how we scored or even what we talked about, though it was the perfect thing to do. Opti would surely have approved.

That afternoon, I dug up some of my mom’s peonies to take home to my snowbound perennial beds in Maine.

I planted them as the spring thaw finally arrived — sometime around Easter.  PS

Contact Editor Jim Dodson at jim@thepilot.com.

Out of the Blue

Confess to the Mess

What would life be without it?

By Deborah Salomon

Life is funny. Accidents happen.

Last week I had an epic kitchen accident. No broken bones or burned fingers, just a royal mess. Yo, Hamlet: To laugh or to cry . . . that is the question. As I sat on the kitchen floor dripping sweet and sour tomato sauce from a bowl of cabbage rolls I was removing from the refrigerator, when I tripped over the cat, other mishaps crept back. At the time these disasters spelled the end of the world. Now, they’re just funny. Like the time . . .

I heard a scratchy noise in the living room fireplace. Bats in the belfry? Leaves blowing around the chimney? The cat heard it too and positioned herself as watchdog. We had a huge stone fireplace in the family room so I let this one be — until the morning two squirrels faced me from the other side of the glass fire screen. They had found winter digs and now . . . what’s for breakfast? I fed the poor buggers peanut butter sandwiches until spring, when the chimney sweep catapulted them into an overhanging tree. A chimney cap sealed the deal.

How ’bout the cop who caught me U-turning? I’ve driven for 65 years without a moving violation. Couldn’t suppress a giggle as I rolled down the window and handed him my paperwork.

“What’s so funny?” he asked.

“Where were you the other 24 times?” I answered. He besmirched
my record only with a warning.

I can’t remember sending a sensitive email to the wrong address but have received such a mistake. Oh my. Will not reveal the juicy details.

Then, the morning I took Tylenol PM (not one, but two!) rather than regular for a headache . . . and fell asleep at work.

When I was about six, my father managed an appliance store owned by a Mr. Greenshield. Daddy complained about him incessantly, called him Mr. Greensh–. I didn’t get it. Then one day my mother took me to the office; Dad proudly introduced his little girl to Mr. Greenshield. Wide-eyed, I chirped, “I thought his name was Mr. Greensh–.”

Not my fault, Daddy.

The two most cringe-worthy mishaps involved spillage. During high school summer vacation I worked on the Red Cross bloodmobile that served Western North Carolina mountain villages. I helped donors fill out forms and learned to type blood. Can’t remember the exact circumstances, only that the nurse handed me a clear plastic container of freshly drawn blood. It was, unexpectedly, warm. I’m not squeamish but, instinctively, I let go. Splashdown. Bloodbath. Stephen King. “Carrie.” Mortification.

The second, a classic tragi-comedy. When my son Danny was about 10, he and pal Jeff asked if they could set up a lemonade stand with real lemonade. Sure. I told them to get the juicer and other stuff ready while I went for lemons. Danny ripped open a 5-pound bag of sugar, which spilled onto the floor. Fearing my reaction he and Jeff hurried to clean it up. Not with the vacuum cleaner. Not with broom and dustpan. With water. Sugar and water become Crazy Glue on a tile floor. It was shiny-sticky (except bumps made by trapped ants) for months.

One apocalypse had a happy ending. We were in Israel for three weeks, in 1981. On the flight over, my eye began itching, which made wearing contacts impossible. It got worse. The desert sun bore down. I had no prescription sunglasses. Misery. A week into the trip we were sitting by the pool when a man approached. “Aren’t you . . . ?” he asked my husband. Yes! They had been high school classmates. Miracle of miracles the friend was now (drum roll, applause) an ophthalmologist. He diagnosed an infection, gave me something to clear it up. God bless.

I’ve saved the best for last — creepy, unbelievable but, true.

In the summer of 1962, I flew with my 5-month-old baby from Raleigh/Durham to New York. Ominous clouds were forming. Sure enough we headed into a storm . . . thunder, lightening, the works. The baby began to cry. I was frantic, terrified.

“Here, try this,” said the nice man sitting beside us, dangling his keys within her reach. That voice, strangely familiar. Could it be? Impossible. I turned towards him, for a good look. I was flying into the abyss beside Rod Serling, originator of The Twilight Zone and spokesman on Eastern Airlines TV commercials. Everybody knew that voice. “TZ” was a sensation. I never missed an episode. Several had similar plots — flying or sailing into the menacing unknown.

Mr. Serling saw the shock on my face, put a finger to his lips and reassured me things would be fine.

Life’s funny. Stuff happens, or else wouldn’t it be boring?  PS

Deborah Salomon is a staff writer for PineStraw and The Pilot. She may be reached at debsalomon@nc.rr.com.