Reflections at 40

Reflections at 40

Four decades of photos, art and fun

By David Kiner

What do you feel and visualize when you hear the words solitude, neglect, passion, joy, surprise or isolation? Do you think you could capture each in a photograph? You could. We all have the gift of imagination and creativity and, like all beautiful artwork, photography tells simple stories.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Sandhills Photography Club. Established in 1983, it’s an integral part of this community, attracting photographers of all skill levels, from an amateur with a cellphone to gifted professionals with a trunk full of gear. “We have a wonderful complement of experience and skill levels among our members,” says Jacques Wood, president of SPC. “Regardless of experience level, club members love photography, are ready to learn new techniques, and enjoy sharing and seeing the work of others.”

Brian Osborne, owner of The Photo Classroom and founder of the Professional Photography Group, Charlotte’s largest professional photography team, had this to say about the club: “Over the years, I have spoken to a wide variety of camera and photography clubs but SPC is hands down my favorite. The thing that I love most about this organization is not only the community they share, but their earnest desire to learn and grow.”

Photography has changed dramatically over the past four decades but the principles have remained the same — finding ways to capture moments, stopping time through light, composition, texture and color. In 1983 the Club began with nine members and grew quickly to 25, with many knee-deep in the chemicals found in their darkrooms. Today the club is 100 strong and its members are knee-deep in pixels instead.

Local artist and founding member of the Artists League of the Sandhills and SPC, Betty Hendrix, remembers those early days. “We were still using slides to view our work, or physically bringing photos in for display. And the word Zoom was a children’s TV program,” she says.

Linda Piechota has been a member of the club for 34 of its 40 years. “I recall, way back then, being kind of ambivalent about entering a contest, and showing my first photo. How silly of me. We are more like a family than a club. None of us could have imagined how things have changed with technology. But one thing that hasn’t changed is the passion I see in our members.”

The club is impressively comprehensive with its own website, a monthly newsletter called “In Focus,” workshops, field trips, exhibitions and competitions. The William Stoffel Awards, named after one of the club’s co-founders, are presented annually to members accumulating the greatest number of competition points in each of the competitive tiers. The competitions are held every other month with the themes identified in advance. It’s the job of the photographer to capture what they feel best describes that theme. Submitted photographs are judged by an outside professional who both encourages and provides constructive feedback, an essential part of the growth of the members.

Like a composer who writes musical compositions, photographers don’t simply take snapshots. They can capture distant galaxies or extreme closeups. The heavens are vast and astonishing, but so are the tiniest of details found in the pistil of a flower or the mystery in the face of an insect. To see what others don’t is a common theme among those who fall in love with photography. You become increasingly aware of what’s around you.

“Hard work and staying with it is the key, and not being afraid to shoot, shoot, and shoot more,” says Walter Morris, an early club member and its second president. Once, on a two-week trip to Africa, Morris took over 7,000 photos. He kept “the 20 I liked. What makes a photo great? Well, you know it when you see it.”

Like all artistic endeavors, photographers grow by learning from others and exploring new scenes. “In this club, we learn so much from each other,” says Susan Bailey, coordinator of the club’s outings and a board member. Her love affair with photography started over 40 years ago. She’s in charge of full-day or half-day outings that range from trips to the beautiful gardens in Raleigh or Durham, pontoon excursions on Jordan Lake, or even the marvels of the North Carolina Zoo. “It’s wonderful to go on the club’s group outings,” says Bailey. “There is as much laughter as there is the clicking of our cameras.”

The club is also known for its two- or three-day field trips, headed up by Gary Magee, another long-standing member and a former two-term club president. This past spring the members went to Murrells Inlet, South Carolina. Other trips have taken members to the North Carolina mountains, its beaches, or even to the marshes and dunes of Amelia Island, Florida. “The idea of traveling in a group is very special,” says Magee. “We can dine together, stay at the same hotel and enjoy the beautiful gifts of living in the South.”

As with most of today’s activities, new technologies have continued to be a driving force for all the members. During the pandemic, the Sandhills Photography Club quickly adopted Zoom. Now its members and guests, far and wide, can participate in the vast number of activities the club offers. “Zoom made such a positive impact on us. At first it was just a means to stay together, to hold our sanity. But to our surprise it has expanded our membership base,” says Jerry Kozel, co-chairman of the club’s competition committee. “We have folks from all over the United States, South Africa and Australia involved.” Zoom also allows the club to reach out to professional photographers from all over the country who serve as judges in its bi-monthly competitions. “These are men and women with enormous experience who give such worthwhile advice,” says Kozel. “We store that information on our website so members who have missed a meeting can watch it at a later date.”

Technological advances extend well beyond communications software. Today’s cameras are getting smaller, more sophisticated, and moving to mirrorless models. Improvements in image sensors and lenses are astronomical. Cameras have more automated features like face and object recognition. Who knows what artificial intelligence software will bring? But one thing never changes — the conversation between the artist and the viewer. In the meantime, the members of the SPC will continue to find solace and joy in their love of photography.  PS

David Kiner is a member of the Sandhills Photo Club and a former faculty member at Syracuse University.  He happily resides in Southern Pines and can be reached at

The Great Unknown

The Great Unknown

What surprises lurk in Pinehurst’s next U.S. Open?

By Jim Moriarty

Feature Photo Caption: Jason Gore on the fourth tee in the third round of the 2005 U.S. Open.

A U.S. Open is guaranteed to surprise. It’s built into the DNA. Because an Open is just that — open — it is the moon shot destination of every Tin Cup Roy McAvoy, every Caddyshack Carl Spackler, every Goat Hills assistant pro, every whistlestop, RV-driving, 4 o’clock in the morning coffee-drinking golfer with 14 clubs, a rainsuit that doesn’t leak and the most peculiar of ideas: that they can flat-out play this idiotic game. And every U.S. Open will have one of those guys you never heard of up on the leaderboard, posting a low score and a sweet story. In the 2005 U.S. Open at Pinehurst’s No. 2 course, that guy was Jason Gore. And the story was bigger than he was.

A refugee from the PGA Tour’s minor league —the Nationwide Tour in those days — with the thick-chested physique of a stevedore and a neon smile as wide as all 88 keys on a baby grand, Gore’s self-deprecating grace quickly earned him favorite son status when he joined two-time U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen and tour veteran Olin Browne (who may be more famous these days as the father of the country/soft rock singer Alexandra Browne) at the top of the leaderboard after 36 holes. Golf World, the ultimate insider’s magazine first published in Pinehurst in 1947, described Gore as a “cross between Cinderella and the Michelin Man.”

It was an apt description, since the tires were among the few things left when Gore’s car was ransacked in Asheville en route to the national championship he would make, in many ways, his own. After getting through second stage qualifying in Atlanta, Gore flew to Knoxville, Tennessee (site of that week’s Nationwide tournament), to pick up his car, a black Ford Expedition with dark tinted windows and fancy chrome wheels. He, wife Megan and their 8-month old son, Jaxson, who was sporting two ear infections, headed east on I-40. “There was a thunderstorm coming through and it’s 2 o’clock in the morning and the walls are starting to close in,” Gore recalls, so they stopped and checked into a hotel.

Exhausted, they left most of their belongings in the car. In the morning Megan went to get a change of clothes and came back in tears. “They’d punched out the keyhole on the driver’s side and popped it open, tore out the dash, the Alpine stereo, took everything except the baby seat,” says Gore. “They cut themselves when they were tearing out the dash and there was blood and wires hanging everywhere.” Missing were all of Megan’s clothes and Jason’s briefcase with his laptop and his U.S. Open credentials. As luck would have it, his clubs had gone ahead of him with his caddie, Lewis Puller.

Gore rolled into Pinehurst in the jerry-rigged SUV version of Apollo 13, talking his way past a phalanx of security guards. “Go ahead,” one uniformed officer finally told him, “we heard about you.” By the weekend, every golf fan in America had.

Gore was the kind of player known to golf’s cognoscenti, if not to the general public. He and his Pepperdine University teammates won the NCAA team championship at Conway Farms Golf Club in Chicago in ’97, with Gore making double bogey on the last hole to lose the individual title to Clemson University’s Charles Warren by a shot. He won the California State Open and California State Amateur that year along with the Pacific Coast Amateur. His accomplishments earned him a spot on the victorious U.S. Walker Cup team at Quaker Ridge Golf Club where he accounted for 2 1/2 points. Then, the morning he was leaving for Boise, Idaho, to play in his first professional event, his mother, Kathy, found his father, Sheldon, on their living room floor dead from a heart attack.

“I had kind of a rough start to my golf career,” Gore told the media in ’05 when speaking about his father. “It’s taken a little while to get over that and try and become myself again.” At the age of 31, Gore had already bounced back and forth between the PGA Tour and its primary satellite twice. That he could play well wasn’t a shock. But could he play well enough to win a U.S. Open?

After his second round of three under par 67, Gore low-keyed it by describing the other time he led the U.S. Open. He was one of the first players on the course at the Olympic Club in ’98, drove it through the fairway into a bunch of “crap” (as he described it) on the opening hole, pitched out and holed a 90-yard wedge shot for a three. There was a leaderboard on the second tee and his name was at the top. Gore with a red -1. “So, this is old hat for me,” he said with that wide grin. His run in ’98 was short-lived. A 77 that day put a quick end to his Olympic feats.

Jason Gore tees off on  the second hole during the final round of the 2005 U.S. Open.

On Friday evening Gore made a foray to fill his car with gas and get a prescription at Eckerd’s for Jaxson’s ear infections. Had he been promoted to recognizable celebrity status? “I got a couple of waves when I was putting gas in the car,” he deadpanned.

Unknown to Gore, on Saturday while he was on the course the Golf Channel had his Expedition cleaned and pressed. “They took my truck, fixed the air conditioning and put a new stereo in. It was so awesome,” he recalls. “They had me up on set on Saturday night after I played and showed me the video. It was Rich Lerner. Rich covered the NCAAs in ’97. We were all kids. It was just the nicest gesture. I’ll never forget that.”

Lerner, golf television’s most gifted essayist, has fuzzy recollections of their good deed. “I do remember that being a part of the J. Gore story that everybody fell in love with — how good-natured he was about all of it,” Lerner says. “He was down on his luck but he didn’t wear it that way. He came across as a guy who had all the good fortune in the world and that’s what I think resonated with so many people.”

Gore’s two-over-par 72 on Saturday put him at level par for the championship and three shots behind the leader Goosen, the odds-on favorite to add Pinehurst to the championship venues he’d collected at Southern Hills Country Club and Shinnecock Hills Golf Club. They would be playing together in the final twosome on Sunday. That it was Father’s Day was not lost on Gore.

It didn’t go well for either player. Goosen, the quiet, intense South African who, as a young boy, survived being struck by lightning, didn’t survive Pinehurst’s greens. His 81 dropped him from first to a tie for 11th and opened the door for the eventual champion, New Zealand’s Michael Campbell, to stroll through.

It was worse for Gore, described this way by Golf World: “The solid tee-to-green game Gore had sustained for three days abandoned him, and he hit only four fairways and eight greens. Despite a front nine 40, Gore still was only three off the lead, but four bogeys, a double and a triple coming home — capped off by a sloppy four-putt on the 72nd green — made for a sour end to his dream.”

That four-putt also cost him five bucks. “We hadn’t had much to say to each other all day,” Gore remembers of his Sunday with Retief. “We’re in the final round of the Open so we’re not going to talk about the weather, right?” Then, as they were walking from the 15th green to the 16th tee, both having played themselves out of it, Goosen turned to Gore and said — and here Gore produces a very fine South African accent in his retelling, “Have you ever played cricket?” Gore told him he hadn’t, to which Goosen replied, “We’re having a helluva a day of cricket because we both have so many overs.”

Gore started laughing and asked Goosen if he wanted to play the last three holes for five bucks. Might as well play for something, right? That made Goosen laugh. And so the game within the game was on. They were tied playing the 18th where Gore’s four-putt six lost to Goosen’s par four. Did he pay off? “I saw him at the TaylorMade trailer at Disney. I walked in and handed him five bucks. He laughed and took it,” says Gore. As luck would have it, they were paired together two years later in the final round of The Players Championship. Gore asked if he could get his five bucks back. Goosen said sure. Gore shot 70 and finished T23. Goosen shot 71 and ended up T28. “I still haven’t seen my five bucks,” Gore says with that Cheshire cat grin. “At this point I don’t even want him to pay me because it ruins the story.”

Jason Gore at his condo in Florida

After his final round 84, after Campbell had wrapped his arms around the silver trophy and Tiger Woods’ caddie, Steve Williams, had wrapped his arms around his fellow New Zealander Campbell, after the throngs had fled the village of Pinehurst, Gore stopped in the dark downstairs bar at Dugan’s Pub for a quiet beer and even quieter reflection. “That day was such a blur,” he says. “It’s not that I didn’t play well, I just played incorrectly. I tried to win which, at Pinehurst in a U.S. Open, you don’t do that. You have to stick to your game plan. I learned a lot that day.” After Dugan’s Gore went back to his hotel room at the Pine Needles Lodge. Campbell, joined by a cast of thousands, was in the room directly above Gore’s. “I got to hear him party all night,” he says.

Turning a negative into a positive was something Gore had done after losing the NCAA individual title and he did it again after losing the U.S. Open. He won three times on the Nationwide Tour in July and August of ’05 (his seven career wins on the developmental tour are still a record), then won the 84 Lumber Classic in September for the only PGA Tour victory of his career. Though Gore was born and raised in California, his mother was from Monroeville, east of Pittsburgh, not too far from the Nemacolin Woodlands Resort, site of the 84 Lumber. Gore visited for a month every summer as a kid, cutting his teeth at nearby Manor Valley Golf Course. He was the favorite son once again.

“After I won, I thought I had to continue to get better and do more stuff and I kinda lost my game,” Gore says. Shoulder and back injuries didn’t help. By 2018, he was in the insurance business. Then the USGA came calling, asking Gore to become its first managing director of player relations, a position he held for three-and-a-half years before taking a similar job — senior vice president, player adviser to the commissioner — at the PGA Tour. People who run championships often don’t see things the way people who play in them do. Gore has helped both organizations clear that hurdle.

“My wife and I were high school sweethearts. We grew up in Southern California, born and raised there,” says Gore, who moved east with Megan, Jaxson and his sister, Olivia, after the USGA hired him. “Until we lived in New Jersey I thought snow came out of those machines.”

Now Gore has temporary digs in Ponte Vedra, Florida, and commutes back and forth to New Jersey. His personal possessions in the condo are sparse: a wooden block with Vin Scully’s farewell line from his last L.A. Dodgers’ game and a few guitars. Musically, Gore refers to himself as a 12-handicap. “I’m the guy who shows up in the pro-am with the $10,000 set of clubs and thinks he’s going to beat the pro. That’s me with guitars. You walk into my house in New Jersey, you’d think Slash lived there. I just think they’re works of art. I love them.”

Gore describes his son, Jaxson — he of the double ear infections who’s almost 19 now — as someone with high-functioning autism. “He writes screenplays. We got him a talk-to-text. He’s super, super sharp but there’s a chance he could live with us for the rest of his life, which is fine. He can’t cook an egg but he makes up for it in so many different areas. He sees life through a different set of glasses and it’s awesome. He’ll sit in the basement and just write and create and I’m, ‘Come on, Jax, let’s go out somewhere and see reality.’ And he goes, ‘Dad, I don’t really like reality.’ And I’m like, ‘Yeah, me neither.’”

In 12 months, Pinehurst No. 2 will become reality once again for the best players in the world. “It’s the U.S. Open,” said Gore in 2005 with a grin that still refuses to vanish, “crazy things happen.”

If we’re lucky.  PS

Jim Moriarty is the Editor of PineStraw magazine. He can be reached at

Almanac June 2023

Almanac June 2023

June is a daydream; a picnic; a long, sweet song.

Beyond the sunlit meadow — thick with thistle and crickets and Queen Anne’s lace — the grandfather oak has gone moony. Most days, he is patient. Steadfast and uncomplaining. But on this day, when the painted lady drifts past the sea of red clover, he is fraught with expectation. The children of summer are coming.

As they float through the meadow, blankets and baskets in tow, the oak is awestruck. They could go anywhere. Bring their banquet to the altar of some other worthy tree. But they don’t. As they make their way through towering thistle, past bee balm and poppies and raves of day lilies, the grandfather knows: The children of summer will be here soon.

They come singing. Come with just-picked daisies. Come with a spread of luscious offerings:

A palmful of wineberries.

Pickled cucumbers.

Mint, marigolds and beets.

Roasted potatoes.

Dandelion shortbread.

Honeysuckle and homemade mead.

In the shade of the grand old tree, the children sprawl in dappled light, laughing and feasting and giving thanks. For them, hours pass like minutes. For the oak, time stands still.

When you’ve seen as many summers as he has — not to mention all the winters — these are the days you live for. Days of abundance. Days of praise and cicadas. When youth is a state of the heart, each breath is a banquet, and nature gets a glimpse of its own reflection.

Citronelly! Citronelly!

A summer without mosquitos isn’t a summer. No way around ’em, but we’ve got allies. Citronella, anyone?

Also known as scented geranium, citronella is one of the best-known pest repellents to add to the garden. But there are others.

Basil: Not just for pesto! This fragrant, prolific herb deters both mosquitos and flies. Learn how to trim it for larger yields. 

Rosemary: Likes it hot. Thankfully, the woodsy aroma that we know and love sends the swamp devils onward. 

Marigolds: Easy to grow? Check. Better yet, their lovely flowers attract predatory insects.

Bee balm: Out with the nippers, in with the bees and skippers.

Other plant allies include lavender, mint, lemon grass, catnip, sage and allium. Play around to see which plants work best for your garden. Besides mosquitos, what do you have to lose?


Strawberry Moon

The full Strawberry Moon rises on Saturday, June 3. It won’t be pink, but it will appear golden just after sunset, reaching peak illumination by midnight.

A new moon on Sunday, June 18 — Father’s Day — means clear skies for stargazing. See if you can spot Boötes (the herdsman), Libra (the scales), Lupus (the wolf) and Ursa Minor (the little bear) this month. Bonus points for a firefly constellation.   PS

Art of the State

Art of the State

Visual Language

Jennifer Meanley creates kaleidoscopic realities

By Liza Roberts


Center: As if smoldering and smoke were oneness evoked by thought and expression, oil on paper mounted on panel, 15 x 15 inches, 2019.

Right: Milk-Ersatz, spilt, oil on canvas, 48 x 56 inches, 2017.

Intimate but alienating, lush and allegorical, Jennifer Meanley’s paintings appear to capture the moments upon which events hinge. Figures, often out of scale with their environments, gaze at odd angles within untamed, kaleidoscopic settings, more consumed with their interior lives than with the discordant scenes they inhabit. Animals, alive and dead, sometimes share the space. Something’s clearly about to happen, or might be happening, or perhaps already has happened. Are her subjects aware?

“There is often a sense of lack of synchronicity between how we experience our bodies and how we experience our mind, our emotional states,” Meanley says. Her paintings “often register that paradox, whether that’s with the animals, or the symbolism with the space itself . . . or whether the figure seems to be looking and registering and connecting” to reality. Or not.

At UNC-Greensboro, where she teaches drawing and painting, Meanley paints these large-scale depictions of human experience. Simultaneously capturing the spheres of action, memory, participation and observation, she invites a viewer to examine the parts and absorb the whole. Like poetry, her works reveal themselves in stages and elements: image, rhythm, tone, vocabulary, story. Color plays a major role. “I’ve always had a penchant for really saturated colors,” she says, especially as a way to indicate atmosphere, like light, air, wind and the grounding element of earth.


Left: Midnight Filigree, oil on canvas, 18 x 24 inches, 2020.

Right: Repertory Lights in Deep-Night, oil on canvas, 61 x 72 inches, 2020.

Does she begin with a narrative? Not really, or not always. In a painting underway on her working wall — in which a caped, gamine figure gazes upon a flayed animal, possibly a deer, within a riotously overgrown landscape — the New Hampshire native describes her impetus: “I was thinking of this sort of crazy Bacchanal,” she says, “or of a surplus, imagination as a kind of surplus.” Anything is possible in the abundant realm of the imagined, she points out. The real world is another matter.

It’s no surprise to learn that Meanley writes regularly in forms she compares to short stories that emerge from streams of consciousness. It’s a process she describes as if it’s a place where she goes: Language is “like a field that I experience, stepping in and noticing punctuation, noticing the spaces between things, or the pauses, the way breath might be taken. That’s all really, really fascinating to me.” When she’s teaching, she tries to create a corollary to visual language in much the same way: “What does it mean to literally punctuate a drawing, in a way that you would take a sentence that essentially had no meaning, and make it comprehensible?” she asks her students. “Through timing, and space, and rhythm, and breath.”

All of which connects to physical movement, another practice Meanley credits with fueling her creative process. Long walks with her dog in the woods spark marathon writing sessions, which then engender drawings and paintings.


Left: Migratory Inflection, oil on Canvas, 18 x 24 inches, 2019.

Center: Roil, Oil on Canvas 18 x 24 inches, 2019.

Right: Beloved, oil on canvas, 72 x 190 inches, 2017.

In the last year, her writing sessions have taken on new importance, Meanley says. Writing “is a way for me to deepen my personal exploration of my own psychic space, which is the origins of the paintings as well.” Though she doesn’t intend to publish these writings, Meanley is open to the possibility of including some of her words in new paintings. “I think the world that I’m exploring has to do with the idea of psychological interiority and how that can find representation” through words and images. In the meantime, the kinetic activity of walking continues to fire her imagination.

It has also attuned Meanley to the natural environment of the South, so different from what surrounded her in New Hampshire, where she grew up, and where she also earned her BFA at the University of New Hampshire, or even at Indiana University, where she received her MFA. In and around Greensboro, she finds nature so lush, so green, so impressive. “I started realizing that there’s this battle within the landscape. Just to even maintain my yard, I feel like I’m battling the natural growth here. It did amplify that sense of tension, of creating landscape as a narrative event . . .  as an important space to contemplate hierarchies of power.”

Summer, with its time away from the demands of academia, provides Meanley with more time for outdoor exploration and for contemplations of all kinds. She’s also looking forward to having time to tackle larger works, with the hope of a solo exhibition later this year or in 2024. “Doing a solo show is an endeavor,” she says. “Right now I’m gearing up.”  PS

This is an excerpt from Art of the State: Celebrating the Art of North Carolina, published by UNC Press.

In The Spirit

In The Spirit

Classic Remix

Making something out of something

By Tony Cross

Almost all cocktails on menus in today’s bars and restaurants are a spin on the classics — my keg cocktails are no exception. A few months back, my company debuted a spin on a vodka tonic. It wasn’t anything super fancy or anything — we added St. Germaine Elderflower liqueur and our small batch tonic syrup, TONYC. The result was delicious. Here’s how to make your own elderflower tonic at home followed by a couple other classics worth a tweak or two.

Elderflower Tonic

All you’re doing is adding three-quarters of an ounce of Elderflower liqueur. That’s it! Well, kind of. It seems like there are myriad tonic waters (and syrups, for that matter) on the market. Decisions, decisions. If you want the quick way out, Fever Tree tonic water is a no-brainer. However, this is how God intended you to make the drink, with the devilish addition of TONYC.

1 1/2 ounces vodka

3/4 ounce St. Germaine Elderflower liqueur

3/4 ounce TONYC syrup

4 ounces sparkling water

In a Collins glass, add all ingredients, give a quick stir, and then add ice; top with sparkling water, and lightly stir again; take the peel from an orange, expressing the oils over the cocktails, and placing peel into the glass. Cheers!

Jungle Bird

This tiki hall of famer (and I’m totally quoting on this) was created in the 1970s by bartender Jeffrey Ong at the Aviary Bar located inside the Kuala Lumpur Hilton. But it was tiki guru Jeff “Beachbum” Berry’s book Intoxica that brought the Jungle Bird out of hiding. The drink originally called for “dark rum” and a ton of pineapple juice — four ounces. Berry switched the specs, calling for Jamaican rum, and scaling down the pineapple juice. The other three ingredients are fresh lime juice (which adds tartness), Campari (the amaro adds some bitterness), and demerara syrup (equal parts demerara sugar and water), to round everything out. Over the past decade I’ve seen lots of riffs on this drink, and they all look tasty. If you want to get jiggy on your own, perhaps try another amaro besides Campari, or you might want to swap out or infuse your rum. Banana infused rum could be delicious! What follows is Dante’s Jungle Bird from the Greenwich Village bar Dante NYC. I found this recipe on, which, by the way, has a ton of great cocktails on its website. The original recipe is shaken but Dante’s is not. Why? Probably because they only use one-quarter ounce of lime juice, instead of the traditional one-half ounce. That small amount of juice doesn’t need to be aerated, which is achieved by shaking your cocktail.

3/4 ounce rum (preferably Plantation Stiggins’ Fancy Pineapple Rum)

1/2 ounce Campari

1/4 ounce Zucca Rabarbaro Amaro

2 1/2 ounces pineapple juice

1 barspoon lime juice

Combine all ingredients in a small water glass over ice; stir to integrate; garnish with orange wedge, Luxardo cherry and pineapple frond.


Brazil’s national cocktail is one of my favorite drinks. I love cachaça (a sugar cane-pressed rum native to Brazil) because of this cocktail, and it’s my go-to when I reach for the rum in my bar. Simple to make, the caipirinha has only three ingredients: cachaça, lime, and sugar. Easy enough, and lots of ways to make this your own. Any fruit that you enjoy could work — think strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, etc. You can also infuse a sugar syrup with the fruit, a move that would cut down on the amount of fruit smashed in your cocktail glass. Either way, there are lots of ways to tackle the caipirinha. Traditionally, the cocktail is built in a glass with the quartered limes and sugar muddled, the cachaça and ice added, and then stirring. I prefer to use a simple syrup, do a quick shake and dump everything into a rocks glass. Here’s a take I did on the caipirinha years ago, called “One Way Trigger.” By infusing my cachaça with pineapples and using a ginger syrup, I was able to completely transform the cocktail, while keeping it a three-ingredient drink. Here’s how to make it:

2 ounces pineapple-infused cachaça*

1/2 ounce ginger syrup**

6 lime wedges

In a shaker, combine limes and ginger syrup together and gently press (and twist) muddler, making sure to extract juice and oils from limes without pulverizing them; add pineapple-infused cachaça and ice; shake hard for 5 seconds and pour everything into your rocks glass.

*Pineapple-infused cachaça: Dice one pineapple, place in a container and add 750 milliliters of cachaça; seal container and let sit for five days; strain out pineapples through cheesecloth and add the infused cachaça back into the bottle; keep refrigerated for a longer shelf life.

**Ginger syrup: Take and peel 100 grams of organic ginger; dice and add to pot; add 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of water; bring mixture to a boil and let simmer for 5 minutes; let cool and strain out pieces of ginger; keep syrup refrigerated. Will hold for 2-3 weeks.  PS

Tony Cross owns and operates Reverie Cocktails, a cocktail delivery service that delivers kegged cocktails for businesses to pour on tap — but once a bartender, always a bartender.

Out of the Blue

Out of the Blue

Batting Cleanup

Spotless . . . in the eye of the beholder

By Deborah Salomon

By June, “spring cleaning” should be done and dusted . . . right? The windows gleam, the carpet wafts shampoo. Begone dust bunnies that overwintered under the bureau. Same to soap scum ringing the tub and spilled jam glued to the refrigerator. The sofa has been moved, revealing kitty’s favorite toy and some petrified Halloween candy. All the shelves Swiffered, even the highest, uprooting a mosquito graveyard.

These tasks were accomplished on a sunny Saturday by family members, conscripted, cajoled or bribed.

Pizza for lunch, maybe?

Ah, spring cleaning, that archaic rite which, it seems, survives in name only. Because “clean” is a touchy subject — everybody wants clean surroundings, but nobody wants to do it.

I wanted to do it. Having three children in three-and-a-half years — then adding a rambunctious Airedale puppy — interfered. Nevertheless, every morning I gave the bathrooms a once-over, and late every afternoon, with most of the toys put away, I managed to vacuum, which gave the illusion of clean when Daddy came home to a hot supper. Then baths, stories, bedtime and collapse.

That’s just the way we did things in the ’60s.

Finally, I hired a “cleaning lady” who came every second Friday, from 9 to 3. Anna had emigrated from Eastern Europe to Canada after World War II. I assumed she flew in from heaven on huge white wings, to ease my travail. Anna, well into her 50s, was big, strong, energetic. She tuned her transistor radio to a Polish language station and attacked my house with a vengeance, I think in gratitude for the lunches: a big bowl of hearty homemade soup, rye bread for dunking, a meat sandwich, and garlicky coleslaw from a European deli. She finished off with a bearclaw (Danish filled with almond paste) and strong tea.

Food talks, even inspires.

After lunch I went out grocery shopping. When I returned, Anna was gone and the house smelled like Ajax and Pledge — more glorious than Chanel.

Anna demonstrated that cleaning isn’t just a profession or a necessity. It can be an art.

After she retired I hired helpers, since I was working full time, then gave up. They weren’t any more energetic than I was. Their clean didn’t squeak. They weren’t Anna.

Now, cleaning services are the mode. A crew of young men and women spill out of a truck with a snazzy logo. They bring supplies and implements, breeze through a big house in an hour or so, collect the cash and fly away, like Mary Poppins on her aeronautical umbrella.

They definitely don’t want lunch.

Some folks take clean to an obsession. I envy them, sort of. They are a ready market for Roomba (self-propelling vacuum) as well as Swiffer diversifications for wet and dry floors, blinds, hard to reach tchotchkes, et al. They remove stains with Mr. Clean Magic Erasers and suck up spills with Bounty paper towels. The aromas wafting through their hallways come from plug-ins, not meatloaf.

Others are neat freaks, where everything has its place and the kitchen harbors no junk drawer spilling over with twist ties, rubber bands, birthday candles and packets of soy sauce.

How do you live without a junk drawer? I have two.

Age has sapped my energy. The kitty and I don’t make much mess in our small apartment. I’m still fussy about the (one) bathroom and (tiny) kitchen. I push the carpet sweeper more often than the vacuum. The oven cleans itself, and I don’t keep jam in the refrigerator. Maybe books and magazines pile up, but so what? Makes me look literary. True, sometimes the late afternoon sun reveals a film of dust on the coffee table where I keep stylized animal figurines, collected over many years, many miles. So I close the blinds and the dust disappears.

Spring cleaning? Never got around to it. I’ll wait till fall.  PS

Deborah Salomon is a contributing writer for PineStraw and The Pilot. She can be reached at



The Boys of Summer

In a league of their own

By Bill Fields

There aren’t too many highlights sprinkled in my sporting life. The enjoyment, perhaps by necessity, has come from playing not winning.

I’ve had a few moments when I flipped the script, most occurring in a small ballpark on Morganton Road in Southern Pines across from the National Guard Armory, where kids still play baseball today. Win or lose, though, on that compact field of dreams the crack of bat on ball and pop of ball in glove was a soundtrack of fun.

The site was home to the Southern Pines Little League field more than a half century ago when the Pirates, Cardinals, Dodgers and Braves duked it out on Monday and Friday evenings from spring into summer, games at 6:00 and 7:45. The lights really kicked in for the second match-up, especially early in the season, making it seem a bigger stage.

We were boys chewing Bazooka bubble gum, savoring the stirrup socks that made us look like major leaguers, hoping some pixie dust would fly out with each pat of the rosin bag, and quenching our thirst with some not-so-cool water from the dugout fountain.

Each season started the same way. There would be a trip to Tate’s Hardware on N.E. Broad Street to purchase a pair of rubber-cleated baseball shoes. We’d put on our flannel team uniforms and parade through downtown on a Saturday in May, then scatter to sell candy door-to-door to raise money for the Little League.

It was a long time before travel teams or meddlesome parents who want to make the games about them. Our moms and dads didn’t argue with umpires or second-guess coaches. They sat in the bleachers or in their cars beyond the field. They volunteered in the concession stand or as the public address announcer. They cut the grass and chalked the foul lines.

The outfield fence — 180 feet from home plate when I started Little League and lengthened to 200 feet before I was done — was covered with advertisements for local businesses not protective padding. I one-hopped a couple of hard hits off the metal barrier in left center but never hit a dinger in my three years with the Braves. I am a man without a home run or a hole-in-one but still hold out hope for the latter.

My most meaningful at-bat probably came in my first Little League season when I was 10, after moving up from the Minor League Tigers. We were playing the always formidable Pirates coached by Willis Calcutt. Their ace pitcher, a strapping boy who could have passed for a second-year Pony Leaguer, had a no-hitter going deep into the six-inning game. I somehow managed to make contact with one of his fastballs, hitting a blooper just over the second baseman into shallow right field.

I was better with glove than bat, a confident infielder who played second and a little shortstop before settling at third base when I wasn’t pitching. (I threw a knuckleball that, on my good outings, fluttered just enough to keep batters guessing.)

The Braves won the 1970 Southern Pines championship thanks to fellows who could really play like David Smith, Jay Samuels and Ian McPherson. (I’m far right, top row.) It didn’t hurt our chances that two of Coach John Williams’s sons, John Wiley and Mike, were part of the Braves. Coach was a de facto assistant to David Page and always willing to spend extra time working with us.

I made the All-Star team as a 12-year-old third baseman in 1971 when I had the privilege of playing for Jack Barron, whose many years of devoted community service in the Sandhills included being coach of the Dodgers for a long time. Mr. Barron did everything he could to prepare the All-Stars in our practices.

I’m not sure I knew there was a Warsaw, N.C., until we suited up in our blue and white Southern Pines uniforms and packed into a couple of station wagons for the two-hour drive east and our first game. But I’m certain I’d never seen a curveball on Morganton Road like the opposing pitcher threw that afternoon. I struck out in my one hapless at-bat, and my teammates didn’t fare much better. Our post-season didn’t last long.

But our disappointment, I recall, didn’t linger either. There was a stop for supper, at a restaurant that sold Andes Mints for two cents apiece at the cash register. We stocked up. Someone in the backseat figured out if a mint was released just so on top of the car, it would travel such that it would be sucked back into the wagon’s open rear window. The trick amused us for miles. If only we had solved the curve ball problem as proficiently. PS

Southern Pines native Bill Fields, who writes about golf and other things, moved north in 1986 but hasn’t lost his accent.

Focus on Food

Focus on Food

I Dream of Falafel

Iconic street food from the Levant

Story and Photograph by Rose Shewey

Do you know what North Carolina and North Africa have in common? We’re on the same latitude. Consider that for a moment! If you’re looking out onto the Atlantic Ocean in North Carolina you’re on par with Morocco. When inquisitive friends and family from overseas ask about the climate in our part of the world, I typically tell them that we may as well be in Casablanca. You know, if Casablanca was muggy.

I was so fortunate to visit North Africa and parts of the Levant in my younger years. I had just turned 18 and set up shop at the Costa del Sol in Spain for the summer. I vividly remember the day I was lounging at the beach in sunny Marbella; it was a particularly clear day, not a cloud in sight and the morning haze had just dissipated. As I gazed across the azure tinted Mediterranean sea, I saw her. I saw Africa and she was calling my name. Within less than 24 hours, I was on a ferry crossing over from Gibraltar, Spain to Tangier, Morocco. I was unaccompanied with little more than a small backpack, clutching on to my passport, ready to set foot on African soil.

North Africa is hands-down one of the most exotic and colorful places I have visited. While I have many rich memories of this trip, traversing the northern tip of Africa all the way from Morocco to transcontinental Egypt, what stands out the most is the allure of the Arab and Mediterranean cuisine, particularly the many different renditions of falafel I tried. No, I didn’t make it to Israel, the alleged home of the falafel where, rumor has it, you cannot turn around without ending up in the queue of a falafel shop. However, despite its popularity in Israel, most agree that falafel probably originated in Egypt. In fact, if you happen to go to a McDonald’s in Cairo, you’ll find McFalafel on the menu, bizarre as it may seem.

There are many reasons to love falafel. The most obvious is that these golden-baked, crispy balls drizzled with tahini sauce and stuffed into a fluffy pita or served as part of a meze are bursting with flavor. Falafel are also a fabulous gateway to a more plant-based life-style; with their meatball-esque texture, they leave little to be desired. June 12 marks the annual international falafel day, but why wait; there is no wrong time to enjoy the world’s oldest (and perhaps healthiest) fast food. 


(Makes about 20 balls)


1 1/4 cups dried chickpeas, soaked overnight

1/2 cup onion, finely chopped

4 garlic cloves, crushed

1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

1/2 cup cilantro, finely chopped

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cardamom

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

2 tablespoons chickpea flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Avocado oil for frying (optional)

Drain the chickpeas and add them to a food processor along with the onions, garlic, parsley and cilantro. If you have a small food processor, mix in batches; pulse each batch for about 30 seconds until the ingredients are finely chopped and hold together well. Once processed, add the spices, chickpea flour and baking soda and mix by hand; if the mixture feels too dry, add 1-2 tablespoons of water. Cover and refrigerate the mixture for at least 1 hour before processing.

Using your hands or an ice cream scoop, form balls or patties (about 1 tablespoon of mixture per ball).

You can now deep-fry or bake your falafels. To deep-fry, add about 4 inches of oil to a heavy-bottomed pot and heat the oil to 350°F. Cook falafels in batches, for about 3-4 minutes until they are golden brown. Transfer to a paper-towel lined plate and serve immediately.

To bake the falafel, pre-heat the oven to 425°F. Place the falafel on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, brush the top of your falafel with oil and bake for 25 minutes. Flip falafel halfway through baking. Serve right away.  PS

German native Rose Shewey is a food stylist and food photographer. To see more of her work visit her website,

It Takes A Village

It Takes A Village

Geneva McRae, Demus Taylor and Taylortown

By Bill Case

Having been gone so long she couldn’t remember when she left, Geneva McRae decided it was time to come home to Taylortown — the African American community of 650 souls where she had spent her formative years. Decades before, the untimely death of Geneva’s father, Charlie, caused her mother, Lowverta McRae, to relocate from Taylortown to New York City along with her six children. Lowverta sensed her kids stood a better chance of advancing their fortunes up north rather than in the Sandhills, where employment opportunities for Blacks were mostly limited to low-paying service jobs with the Pinehurst resort.

For the energetic and adventurous Geneva, New York proved a godsend. She would thrive there during a remarkable career in public service. First, she served a three-year hitch in the U.S. Army that featured culturally broadening deployments in England, France, and Germany. Following her discharge, McRae attended night school at City College of New York where she received a degree in education. While taking graduate studies in public administration at NYU, she taught at a city elementary school.

After passing a civil service examination she was hired by the New York State Employment Service where she steadily rose through the ranks holding management positions of ever-increasing responsibility, including the supervision of the agency’s first Job Corps unit. Her success caused a sister public entity to come calling. She took a two-year leave of absence to run South Bronx’s “Hunt’s Point” program for job training and health needs.

Shortly thereafter, McRae was recruited to serve as deputy director of New York City’s Model Cities Program. In that role, she helped underprivileged women receive the training necessary to become nurses. She also administered programs providing medical internships for minority candidates. “That’s where I got my education — my baptismal if you will — in community work,” McRae told The Pilot staff writer Huntley Womick in a 1990s interview.

Given her well-developed social network, McRae’s friends assumed she would remain in New York after retiring in 1978 at age 63. But the Sandhills called her home. She owned a tract of land in Taylortown — left to her by Lowverta — who instructed her daughter to never sell it. McRae built a house on the property and, when it was completed in 1982, she moved in. Her roots in Taylortown, however, stretched well beyond her ownership of land.

“Our forefathers, mine included, founded this community in the early 1900s, and built homes and churches,” she told The Pilot. The founders left “a pioneering spirit that continues to live in the hearts of the people.”

Demus Taylor

Taylortown’s strong religious ethos also attracted McRae. She expressed pride that the town’s people are “taught to love God and love the community.” Throughout its history, Taylortown has been home to an array of vibrant, well-attended churches including House of Prayer, Galilee Baptist, Spruill Temple Church of God, and Spaulding Chapel AME Zion. Geneva became a devout member of the latter, serving on its board of trustees.

Spaulding Chapel AME Zion had also been the chosen church of the town’s founder Demus Taylor — at 6 feet 5 inches, a larger than life figure. He was born into slavery, perhaps as early as 1821, though the exact date is unknown. His ancestors were from the West African Ebu tribe. Among Demus’ “owners” was James Taylor, brother of the 12th U.S. President, Zachary Taylor. According to one account, Demus’ ownership changed hands five times before his emancipation. After gaining his freedom — and the ability to trade his labor for wages — he worked in the turpentine trade, notching trees at a nickel apiece. Like Paul Bunyan, the lean, powerful Taylor could do the work of three men, notching hundreds of trees daily with his trademark axe. Apparently Demus was too productive for his own good. His employer determined the per tree stipend was too generous and trimmed Taylor’s compensation to a flat rate of $2 per day plus all the rations the man with the axe could eat.

When James Tufts came to Moore County in 1895 and founded Pinehurst, the aging Demus saw an opportunity for a new gig. With golf emerging as the resort’s primary attraction, Taylor (by then presumably in his mid-70s) decided to try caddying. He became a good one, often looping for Donald Ross. According to Golfdom magazine, Taylor ingratiated himself with the legendary golf professional and budding architect, becoming Ross’ “top Sergeant” at the resort’s caddie shack.

At first, Taylor and numerous Black workers resided at the “Old Settlement” — an area adjacent to what is now the 15th hole of the No. 3 golf course. Around 1905, Taylor bought property from Tufts located across current Route 211. Like a latter-day Moses, he led a migration of Black workers to this land, initially referred to as the “New Settlement.” Eventually, the transplanted residents began calling the area Taylortown, a fitting tribute to Demus.

Taylor died in 1934 and the stories reporting his demise gave a range of his age from 106 to 113. Numerous Taylortown men would follow Demus’ example by caddying at the resort including Hall of Fame loopers Robert “Hardrock” Robinson, Willie McRae (unrelated to Geneva), and Sam Snead’s man, Jimmy Steed. Over the years, the community would become home to scores of other resort employees: maids, laundry workers, masons, and laborers. Robert Taylor, Demus’ son, founded a school for Taylortown children. And, before moving to New York City, Geneva McRae graduated from that institution — the Academy Heights High School.

When McRae returned to Taylortown in 1982, she discovered her New York-honed community service skills were in high demand. In 1984, she joined the five-member board of the Taylortown Sanitary District, an entity founded in 1963 for the purpose of providing the first water service and streetlights for the town. She was elected chairperson of the board in 1985.

In 1981 J.O. Quin and Perry Barrett haul a ladder truck to Taylortown.

The advent of the Sanitary District marked an early step toward self-government for Taylortown’s inhabitants. Its establishment provided the necessary governmental entity to borrow money to construct the water lines and repay the loan. The Pinehurst Community Foundation pitched in to assist its Taylortown neighbors by paying for a legally required engineering study. Prior to the time the district came into being, “only six or eight houses had indoor plumbing,” according to early district board member Floyd Ray. Many residents had been forced to carry water from a pump or neighboring well to their homes for cooking, drinking, and bathing.

The Sanitary District represented real progress but residents of Taylortown hoped the time would come when the community could independently provide other governmental services. The county sheriff was primarily responsible for policing, but deputies patrolled the community sporadically at best. Far flung Moore County Emergency Services provided fire protection with additional assistance from Pinehurst. Periodic attempts to provide such services locally had failed to get off the ground.

In the 1960s, for example, community leaders urged Moore County officials to appoint a part-time deputy sheriff to patrol Taylortown. The sheriff and county commissioners were amenable to the concept but indicated the officers’ compensation would need to be borne by Taylortown residents. Had the community then possessed the status of a municipality with taxing authority, funding for the officer probably could have been arranged. But it was not, and the initiative went no further. 

In 1980, former Taylortown resident Perry Barrett launched a heroic, though ultimately futile, effort to establish a local fire department in his hometown. Barrett, then a head carpenter for the Nassau County (New York) maintenance department, got wind of the fact that New York-based fire departments were jettisoning and junking a couple of their fire trucks. Perry saw an opportunity to create a fire department in Taylortown and persuaded the authorities to give him the trucks. After making repairs, he got behind the wheel of one of the pumpers and began the long journey south. The truck’s engine blew en route and an exasperated Perry was marooned alongside the highway. He eventually managed to get the trucks to North Carolina, an achievement that garnered national publicity. North Carolina governor Jim Hunt awarded Barrett the Order of the Longleaf Pine, but his exploits would go for naught. Absent municipal status, Taylortown was in no position to operate, house, or staff safety forces of any type.

Such disappointments led civic leaders to consider the possibility of incorporating Taylortown as a municipality and momentum in that direction increased after Pinehurst proposed a new planning and zoning ordinance in 1981. As a municipality, Pinehurst under state law could zone unincorporated areas located less than one mile from its boundaries, thus including much of Taylortown.

This situation annoyed town resident Ruth Jackson who expressed the frustration shared by many in her community. “Who is representing Taylortown?” she inquired at the public hearing on the zoning ordinance. “We’ve requested water, sewer, and police services from Pinehurst several times. And every time, we’re told to go to Carthage. Now you come looking for us when it’s something we don’t even want.” Jackson further noted that hearings were being scheduled on weekday afternoons when Taylortown laborers couldn’t leave work to attend.

Given her successful role as Sanitary District chair, Geneva McRae realized she would be expected to take the point in any incorporation campaign at the North Carolina legislature. So she, together with Sanitary District commissioner Micajah Wyatt, took charge. Geneva’s background in community organizing came in handy. “I’ve never worked as hard on any job and put in so many hours,” she told an interviewer. “But it [was] a labor of love.”

She and Wyatt formed the Taylortown Executive Committee which sponsored fundraising activities to pay for a survey of Taylortown’s boundaries. Next, Geneva turned her attention to the churches — familiar ground for her. She asked for and received assistance from the Ministerial Alliance, a group established in the ’70s consisting of Black ministers from Taylortown and other Moore County churches. The alliance members would prove vital to the effort. McRae also met with Raeford mayor J.K. McNeil to prepare a feasibility study to support incorporation.

In June 1986, a petition to incorporate Taylortown was submitted to the North Carolina General Assembly. State Representative James Craven of Pinebluff adopted Taylortown’s incorporation as his personal cause by introducing proposed legislation to make it a reality.

In one meeting on the bill, Pinehurst mayor Charles Grant sought to derail it, claiming that state law did not permit incorporation by a small community located within one mile of a larger one. Craven countered that the cited law only applied when the larger community had a population of at least 5,000, which Pinehurst (at the time) did not. Mayor Grant argued that incorporation would cause problems with overlapping police jurisdictions. The resourceful McRae was prepared to respond. “If police will be a problem, why does Pinehurst tell us this is not in their jurisdiction for police services?” she asked.

Rev. H.C. Johnson, a Ministerial Alliance member, also spoke in support of Taylortown’s bid for municipal status, and did so emphatically. “I don’t want Pinehurst telling us what to do. We poor folks made Pinehurst what it is. We worked for nothing, $40 a week. We made it what it is and want to leave it there.”

First village council members: Jesse Fuller, Frances Johnson, Floyd Ray, Geneva McRae and Daniel Morrison

However, the opposition of Pinehurst, coupled with the fact that the General Assembly was in short session resulted in the bill going nowhere. While frustrated, McRae and other incorporation proponents were not discouraged. “We were so determined to make Taylortown a municipality that we did everything required of us and more,” she told a writer for the Citizen News-Record.

Craven’s bill was finally taken up for consideration by the General Assembly the following year. A series of legislative committee meetings on it necessitated attendance by McRae and members of the Ministerial Alliance. Bishop Larry Brown, minister at Taylortown’s House of Prayer, was among the faithful attendees. Brown estimates he made at least 25 trips to Raleigh. In a recent interview with Pilot reporter Laura Douglass, the bishop indicated that more than one opponent of Craven’s bill questioned whether a town of Black people would be able to govern themselves. But the presence and advocacy of Brown and his fellow men of the cloth gave a spiritual dignity to Taylortown’s presentation, impressing the legislators.

Eventually, Pinehurst dropped its objection to the concept of Taylortown’s incorporation, but the village remained opposed to Craven’s bill when it was amended to include within the proposed municipality three vacant parcels comprising 31 acres located on the north side of Route 211. Pinehurst was itself attempting to annex the parcels, now the Pinecroft Shopping Center that includes the Harris Teeter grocery store.

The question of which town should wind up with the 31 acres constituted the last roadblock for McRae and the other proponents of incorporation. A key Moore County state senator, Wanda Hunt, also the chairwoman of the Senate’s local government committee, was feeling pressure from both sides. She wanted to vote for Taylortown’s incorporation, but because a property owner in the disputed area (who happened to be a Hunt supporter) preferred that his property remain in Pinehurst, her vote was up in the air. Moreover, the North Carolina League of Municipalities was siding with Pinehurst. After what Craven would describe as “a lot of lobbying,” he convinced both the League and Hunt to support his bill. With them on board, the state senate unanimously approved Craven’s bill 40-0. The inclusion of the three valuable parcels within Taylortown’s corporate limits would furnish a welcome boon to the new municipality’s tax base.

On July 13, 1987, Taylortown became a municipality. As was her style, McRae gave credit to everyone but herself for the achievement but, absent her organizational skills and tenacity, incorporation likely would have remained a pipedream.

As a result of incorporation, the Sanitary District was disbanded. To run the municipality’s affairs, a five member village council was established, initially consisting of McRae, Floyd Ray, Jesse Fuller, Frances Johnson, and Daniel Morrison. The new council selected McRae to be the town’s first mayor. Described by one writer as “a willowish wisp of a woman who, nevertheless, packs a wallop,” McRae would serve two terms in the post.

Her tenure was an active one. Under her leadership, Taylortown entered into a formal fire protection agreement with Pinehurst. That arrangement continues to this day. A police department was established after the council figured it could pay an officer of its own less than it would pay in a contract for law enforcement with the county. McRae would persuade county officials to establish a voting precinct inside Taylortown. Olmsted Village was annexed into the village. The council authorized new recreational facilities and, with financial assistance from the Sandhills Garden Club (arranged by McRae), beautification of the community became a priority.

Over the years following McRae’s departure from municipal government, many other improvements have taken place within the community. A new village hall was completed in 2000. Pinecroft and Harris Teeter occupied the once heavily contested 31 acres. Government funding was obtained to update the water system and additional streetlights were installed. Today, Taylortown Museum honors Demus Taylor and other community founders like the remarkable McRae who passed away in 2008 at the age of 93. And another gain to the community occurred when Perry Barrett, once the young man who brought fire engines to Taylortown and is now in his 90s, moved — like Geneva — from New York back home, an echo of McRae’s own words: “I love Taylortown and I love its people. I wouldn’t live anywhere else. This is home.”  PS

Pinehurst resident Bill Case is PineStraw’s history man. He can be reached at

Omnivorous Reader

Omnivorous Reader

Flying Toward Catastrophe

The real canaries in the coal mine

By Anne Blythe

Many of us turned a more enthusiastic ear toward the chorus of birds in our midst during the early days of the pandemic. With the routine rumble of traffic muted to a minimum, their chirps, trills and full-throated songs offered a sense of solace in an unfamiliar world.

In their new book, A Wing and a Prayer: The Race to Save Our Vanishing Birds, Anders and Beverly Gyllenhaal tell us we should lean in and pay close attention. Their calls, or lack of them, their habits and changing habitats herald the health of our environment, write the avid birders and veteran journalists.

The husband and wife team, based in Raleigh, got the bad news out of the way at the start. In the last 50 years, a third of the North American bird population vanished.

“That translates to three billion birds of all sizes and shapes, in losses stretching from coast to coast, from the Arctic to Antarctica, through forests and grasslands, ranches and farms,” the couple writes in the introduction, noting that some birds are transcontinental travelers. “As one veteran biologist, John Doresky, with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Georgia, told us, ‘We’re in the emergency room now.’”

The Gyllenhaals might start their story in the ER, but their book does not dwell heavily on a doomsday scenario. Instead, they offer an optimistic outlook as they chronicle the research, new technology and conservation laboratories they explore during two years of cross-country and intercontinental travels.

The grasshopper sparrow and spotted owl serve as their bookends for a wide-ranging story reported with exacting detail about the work of “the ranks of biologists, ranchers, ecologists, birders, hunters, wildlife officers and philanthropists trying to protect the continent’s birds from a growing list of lethal threats and pressures.”

Anders and Beverly got involved with birding more than a decade ago while living in Washington, D.C. They were transitioning from long careers in journalism to “a lifestyle geared toward three Bs: birds, books and banjos, which Anders had played since high school.” Disclosure: One leg of their journalism path brought Anders to the News & Observer in Raleigh, where I worked for him and admired his dedication to solid reporting and storytelling. That commitment is evident throughout A Wing and a Prayer.

They take us along with them on a journey in their Airstream from North Carolina to Florida, through the heartlands to Kansas, and then further west to California, where they store their home office on wheels while they continue their trek through Hawaii.

They introduce us to colorful conservationists in muddy bogs, grassy fields and craggy bluffs while also giving readers a peek inside the offices of pivotal conservation organizations and ornithology labs.

Many of these scientists and conservationists could be the backbone for books of their own about trying to stop birds from being added to the list of extinct species. They introduce us to Ben Novak, a scientist in his mid-30s who grew up in North Dakota and now lives in Brevard, North Carolina. After falling in love with the passenger pigeon as a teen, he has developed intricate plans to build a lab in western North Carolina, hoping to use genomics to bring the bird back from extinction.

Not all of the conservation projects are as futuristic as Novak’s. In Hawaii they are about to release clouds of mosquitoes bred in laboratories to combat avian malaria. The goal is for the lab-created male mosquitos carrying an incompatible bacteria to mate with females that, in turn, will lay eggs that won’t hatch. In the process the conservationists hope to save some of the island state’s most threatened native birds. Hawaii, the Gyllenhaals point out, is the extinction capital of the world with 100 of the 140 native bird species having already disappeared. And, in the Southeast, the U.S. military has been heavily involved in efforts to save the red-cockaded woodpecker through controlled burns and managed forests on bases like Fort Bragg and Camp Lejeune.

While the Gyllenhaals stress that it is often the bigger birds — the bald eagle, the illusive ivory- billed woodpecker or the California condor — that get much of the attention, the smaller birds that hide easily in their habitats need more vocal advocates to save their species.

Their two-year journey, covering more than 25,000 miles, gives glimpses of many different birds including the Cerulean warbler, a tiny songbird that breeds in Appalachia and the eastern U.S. hardwood forests before making a long journey to winter in South America. The Gyllenhaals traveled to Ecuador to see firsthand the conservation efforts to protect the brilliantly colored birds that winter in the mountain forests there.

“We returned home inspired by the work under way to save birds,” the Gyllenhaals write. “We met folks who ruin their knees scrambling along dangerous cliffs, agonize over algorithms, confront adversaries at gunpoint and sometimes get their eyebrows singed off. They welcomed us into their lives for days at a time and shared their hopes, frustrations, and determinations.

Taken together, their experiences help make the case for birds — not only as nature’s workhorses and cultural icons, but as living bellwethers of the environment at a pivotal time.”

If you care about the birds in your midst — those in plain sight as well as those not so easy to see — A Wing and a Prayer is a must read.

“The Three Billion Bird Study stripped all mystery from the troubled state of the hemisphere’s birdscape,” the Gyllenhaals conclude. “There’s still time to respond, but that time is now. It’s clear what steps are making a difference and what will help avoid another half-century like the last one. Halting the collapse of our birds will not be easy. But as the scores of researchers, birders, wildlife experts, hunters and philanthropists are proving every day, a turnaround is within reach if we’ll listen to what the birds are telling us.”   OH

Anne Blythe has been a reporter in North Carolina for more than three decades. She has covered city halls, higher education, the courts, crime, hurricanes, ice storms, droughts, floods, college sports, health care and many wonderful characters who make this state such an interesting place.