“I See Great Things in Baseball”

The boys of spring, summer and fall

The first time I saw Jim “Catfish” Hunter up close was during spring training in the late ’70s. The New York Yankees, who trained in Fort Lauderdale, were playing the Pittsburgh Pirates, who called Bradenton their winter home. We drove south all night and managed to get to Florida in time to see a game — we didn’t care which one, we were on vacation. I believe, though I can’t swear to it, that this was the year my wife, the War Department, who was educated at a fine Midwestern university famous for its engineers and astronauts, looked around the stands at the great number of people wearing black baseball caps with a gold ‘P’ on them and said, “This must be some kind of Purdue alumni society.” Of course, she hadn’t slept in 24 hours.

Anyway, we saw Hunter outside the ballpark. Like us, he was just arriving. Fueled by caffeine, we were wearing T-shirts and sunscreen. He was wearing a powder blue leisure suit and the easygoing demeanor of a man who would be spending the day lounging in the bullpen. Catfish was looking stylish — I said it was the ’70s, right? — but he had nothing on Willie Stargell, who was often seen driving around Bradenton in his Rolls-Royce.

For those who don’t remember Hunter, he won 224 games in his Hall of Fame pitching career for the A’s and the Yankees. He was an eight-time All Star and pitched for five World Series champions. Though it was Curt Flood who led the charge to overturn baseball’s reserve clause (it finally happened in 1975), Hunter became the game’s first million-dollar free agent when Charles O. Finley, owner of the A’s, failed to live up to the terms of Hunter’s contract. It was Finley who, after drafting the promising prospect from the bucolic eastern outposts of North Carolina, decided the young man with a bum foot needed a nickname. How he lit on Catfish, I have no idea. Hunter, weakened by diabetes and plagued by arm trouble, retired at the end of the ’79 season at the age of 33. He remains the last pitcher in Major League baseball to throw 30 complete games in a season. Twenty years after hanging ’em up, he died at age 53 of Lou Gehrig’s disease.

The next, and last, time I saw Hunter up close was when I was sent to his home in Hertford, North Carolina — where everyone knew him only as Jimmy — to take his photograph along with his son, Todd, and his brother, Peter. Todd was 14 years old and hitting .444 for the Pirates of Perquimans County High School. Peter was the team’s coach. He was also, incidentally, the brother involved in the hunting accident that cost Jim a toe and embedded buckshot in his right foot.

Jimmy was 39, plus or minus, the day I showed up to take his picture. His most recent appearance on the mound had been in a Perquimans alumni game, where he hung a curve ball that Todd pulled down the left field line for a double. The next batter homered. Catfish did have a knack for giving up the long ball.

While Peter and I waited for Jimmy to join us for the photo shoot — it was a working farm and he was on a tractor plowing the fields behind his house — Peter was throwing a little batting practice for Catfish’s youngest son, Paul, who was maybe 6 at the time. Make no mistake, athletic genes are real. Peter would throw the ball (a regulation baseball) underhand to Paul, who kept hitting frozen ropes right back through the box. Bam. Bam. Bam. When Jimmy finally arrived, he watched his son’s hitting exhibition for a few moments in silence, then looked at his brother and said, “Throw it overhand.” With that, he went inside to clean up.

After taking a couple of photos, one with Catfish and the two Pirates posed in front of a sign painted on the side of a barn that said “The Pride of Perquimans,” Jimmy invited the War Department (my assistant) and me into his house. The balusters supporting the railing going upstairs were made completely of baseball bats. More impressive was the silver replica of the World Series trophy on the table next to the stairs.

“Reggie Jackson had this made for me,” Jimmy said. It was by way of saying thanks. Mr. October telling a teammate that, if it wasn’t for him, they never would have gotten that far.

It may only be April, but fall is always in the air.  PS

Jim Moriarty is the Editor of PineStraw and can be reached at

Golftown Journal

Golftown Journal

A Love Affair

Payne and Pinehurst

By Lee Pace

Another U.S. Open in the offing.

And this one just so happens to roll around one neat quarter-century after one of the most famous strokes in Open history — Payne Stewart’s 20-foot putt on the final green to edge Phil Mickelson by a shot in June 1999. Three months later, Stewart was gone, the victim of a mysterious airplane malfunction that took his life and five others on a planned flight from Orlando to Dallas.

The “Payne Pose” statue sits today by the 18th green of No. 2 and is the most photographed visual in Moore County. Stewart’s spirit remains strong in other corners of town, among them at the Pine Crest Inn.

Stewart was just out of Southern Methodist University in the summer of 1979 and was preparing to compete for his PGA Tour playing privileges in the tour’s twice-a-year Qualifying School, the next one to be held in November at Waterwood National Country Club near Houston. He traveled to Pinehurst in mid-September to enter a series of four mini-tour events run by the National Golfers Association. Seventy-two hole tournaments were scheduled for Whispering Pines, Seven Lakes, Pinehurst No. 4 and Hyland Hills. The players put up their own money and competed for purses between $30,000 and $40,000 per tournament. A handful of players stayed at the Pine Crest Inn, where proprietor Bob Barrett gave them a generous price on room and board.

“It was like golf camp for a month,” remembers Peter Barrett, one of Bob’s two sons. “Payne was the funny guy of the bunch. He had control of the whole group. There were a lot of different personalities there. They were on a mission. They all had their eyes on the big-time, and they were playing with their own money. They were pretty serious, but they still had some fun.”

After the four tournaments — two won by Scott Hoch, one by Kenny Knox and one by Mike Glennon — Stewart packed up his car and was saying goodbye to Barrett in the parking lot. There he offered a marketing deal to Barrett: Stewart would put the Pine Crest’s name and logo on his bag for $500 a year. Barrett said he’d pass. Stewart had talked about a potential trip to Asia if he didn’t get through the upcoming Tour Q-School (he did, in fact, miss qualifying and go to Asia), and Barrett didn’t figure the Pine Crest needed exposure in the Far East. And $500 in 1979 was a lot of money.

“What an investment that would have been, huh?” Barrett says ruefully.

Stewart became smitten that fall with the personality of the Pine Crest, its homey feel and the ebullience of “Mr. B’s Old South Bar,” a renowned watering hole. Whenever the PGA Tour returned to Pinehurst over the years — for the Hall of Fame Classics in the early 1980s or the Tour Championships of the early 1990s — Stewart returned to the Pine Crest, if not to bed down at least to eat and drink. In the early 1990s, he negotiated his NFL clothing deal over dinner in the Crystal Room, an adjunct of the main dining room. He sang and hung out with his buddies and bet on NFL football in the bar. He also ate a lot of banana cream pie. Marie Hartsell, a cook in the inn’s kitchen for some 35 years until her retirement in 2010, prepared one of the inn’s signature desserts, and whenever Stewart visited over the years, he’d dive into a banana cream pie.

“He’d eat a whole pie by himself,” says Barrett.

Stewart rented a house on Pinehurst No. 6 during the 1999 Open but visited the Pine Crest early in the week to see his old friends. He signed his name in huge script letters on the wallpaper of the men’s rest room (an iteration of that signature is framed and hangs in the lobby today). Stewart also told Barrett he was playing quite well.

“Pete, I think I can win this thing,” he said.

Stewart spent a few minutes that evening talking to Patrick Barrett, the 9-year-old son of Bob Barrett Jr., also a son of the longtime owner of the inn. Patrick had shrugged off his introduction to golf two years earlier, primarily because it had been forced upon him by his grandfather. But now that the youngster was making his own connection to the game, golf seemed like something that might be fun to pursue. Stewart made quite an impression.

“They connected because Payne sat down, looked Patrick in the eye and made him feel special,” says Andy Hofmann, the boy’s mother. “Patrick spent the entire Open week following Stewart.”

Patrick is now 34 years old. After graduating from the University of North Carolina and playing on the Tar Heel golf team, he entered medical school and today is a surgical resident at a hospital in Seattle. Like all of us who were there somewhere along the 18th hole on June 20, 1999, he marvels that blink — 25 years are gone.

“Grandpa knew a lot of players,” Patrick says. “He knew them before they were famous because they’d stayed at the Pine Crest. The only golfers I knew then were Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus. He called Payne over and introduced me. Grandpa said, ‘This guy is going to win it.’ Payne shrugged it off and said good to meet you, made a fuss over me. It was kind of embarrassing thinking back on it. I didn’t even stand up.

“He signed a piece of paper for me. It said, ‘To Patrick, keep swinging, Payne Stewart.’ I’ve got that piece of paper somewhere. Now all of a sudden golf was cool. My mom gave me lunch money and turned me loose every day that week.

“I was so short, I couldn’t see much of the action, but I could feel the energy. I was more interested in autographs and celebrities than the golf. But that week I decided I wanted to play golf, to learn the game. I was absolutely golf-obsessed from then on out. I started to play with a real purpose.”

The dominoes fell that week for Stewart. He was a “feel player” competing on a golf course that rewarded right-brained tendencies. He’d missed the cut at Memphis the week before and got to Pinehurst five days early to map out his game plan. He was playing clubs and a ball suited to his skills after a half-decade of chasing endorsements with ill-fitted implements. He had matured from his younger, petulant ways, losing on the final day of the Open at the Olympic Club in 1998 with grace and composure.

And Stewart was confident and comfortable in Pinehurst.

He made eye contact and smiled at the locals in the grocery store. He joked with the ladies at check-in on Sunday when asking for scissors to cut off the sleeves of his rain jacket (starting a new fashion trend, by the way). He had a heartfelt reunion with old friend and instructor Harvie Ward before he took off for the final round in his navy plus-fours, red/navy striped shirt, navy tam, and white socks and shoes.

“I think it’s safe to say I love Pinehurst,” Stewart said when it was over. “This is a special place. It was a perfect way to win. I think everyone in the field will attest to how great No. 2 is and what a special place this is. To win here means a lot to me. This place is a gem. It’s beautiful. It’s phenomenal. We never see a golf course like this on the tour. It’s a refreshing change of pace.”

Needless to say, the echoes from ’99 will reverberate through the pines over the coming months.  PS

Author Lee Pace chronicled Payne Stewart’s magical week in 1999 in his book The Spirit of Pinehurst, published in 2004.

Simple Life

Simple Life

The Ever-Changing Garden

May the work never be done

By Jim Dodson

The spring gardening season officially got underway this year with the necessary removal of a 70-year-old red oak tree that threatened to fall on my garage office. Being a confirmed tree hugger and septuagenarian myself, I felt for the old boy having to come down. But I’d probably have felt worse — perhaps permanently — had the old fella decided to fall on my office with me in it.

Such is the fate of an ever-changing garden, which is a redundant phrase since every garden everywhere is ever changing, if only by a matter of degrees. Any gardener worth his mulch will tell you that the work is never finished. There’s always some new problem to contend with or a fresh inspiration incubated over dark winter days to finally put into motion. We are, as a result, forever incomplete gardeners, revising and learning as we go.

In my case, this year has been all of the above — new problems, fresh inspiration and learning as I go. As the result of the day-long operation to remove “Big Red,” as I called the elderly oak, half a dozen young plants just awakening from their winter nap had to be dug up and set aside so the crane removing the tree could navigate a path across my backyard garden, churning the ground up as it went.

I took this as a sign from on high that it was time to make several big changes in paradise. The first move came on the east side of our house where a trio of formerly well-behaved crape myrtle bushes were suddenly running amok and threatening to blot out the sun. The task of digging them out of the cold January ground proved the wisdom of Robert Frost’s elegant aphorism that the afternoon knows what the morning never suspected — i.e. that some tasks that were easy in the morning of youth prove to be monstrously difficult in the afternoon of age.

Still, I’m nothing if not a committed bugger when it comes to getting my way in a garden. After several hours of intense work with pick and shovel, all under the watchful eye of Boo Radley, the cat who suns himself in that particular part of the estate on winter days, the monstrous shrubs finally came out and I went in for a much-needed lunch break, muddy but triumphant.

“My goodness,” said my wife, stirring soup. “Who won the fight?”

You see, back in the “morning” of my gardening years — that’s five different gardens ago, by my count — Dame Wendy always found it highly amusing that I treated garden work like a full-contact sport, where blood of some sort was inevitably shed. In those days, I was so into clearing trees and rebuilding the ancient stone walls of a vanished 19th century homestead that once existed where our new post-and-beam house stood, I rarely noticed cuts, bruises or even gashes that needed a stitch or two. In those faraway days, all I needed was a long hot soak in our 6-foot Portuguese clawfoot tub, plus a couple cold Sam Adams beers to put things right.

These days, in the metaphorical “afternoon” of life, the cuts and bruises are fewer and the cure for sore muscles comes via a hot shower, a change of clothes and a nice afternoon nap with the dogs  — though I have been known to wander outside just before the dinner guests arrive and get myself dirty all over again.

I think my sweet gardening obsession comes from a long and winding line of family farmers and gardeners, abetted by a childhood spent in several small towns of the South where I stayed outside from dawn till dusk, building forts in the woods, climbing trees, damming creeks and digging earthworks under the porch for my toy armies. More than once, I had to be hauled out from under the porch for church with my “good” Sunday pants streaked with red clay.

My mother, poor woman, nicknamed me “Nature Boy” and “Angel with a Filthy Face.” Worse than death was having her spit on a handkerchief to wipe a smudge of soil off my cheek as we entered the sanctuary.

Despite the damage from removing Big Red and heavy winter kill in both my side and backyard gardens this spring, I’m always nicely surprised by the resiliency of my suburban patch.  One day, I’m looking at a bare perennial bed and the next, dozens of green shoots are coming up. The daffodils never fail to rise nor the cherry trees bud. The hosta plants miraculously return. The dogwoods burst into bloom and the azaleas erupt in technicolor glory.

This annual choreography of springtime is a nice reminder that we human beings do the very same thing. Nobody escapes hard winters, actual or metaphorical. The weather of life beats everyone down at some point or another. But slowly and surely, we re-emerge as the days lengthen and the sun grows warmer. Soon the sheer abundance of blossom and green makes a body forget the cold months of unseen struggle to get here.

Though I am an unapologetic fan of winter — my best season for writing, thinking and planning new adventures in the garden — the happiest time for this incomplete gardener comes when I see what managed to survive the winter and has come back with new vigor and surging optimism. Such sights make my old fingers itch to get gloriously dirty.

This spring, there will probably be a new garden shed surrounded by ferns where Big Red once stood, and old Boo Radley will have a new perennial garden full of flowers in which to sun himself on cool summer mornings. I may even finally finish the cobblestone pathway I started last year.

The job in a garden, you see, is never done. And that’s just the way I like it.  PS

Jim Dodson can be reached at

Elegance and Mystery

Elegance and Mystery

Historic estate thrives in its second century

By Deborah Salomon
Photographs by John Gessner

Green with envy: a color-coded assessment of how Pinehurst society, circa 1929, might have greeted the overwhelming but exquisite home of Nils Hersloff of Orange, New Jersey, his wife and three children, who christened it, simply, The Pines. This family residence — not to be confused with the “cottages” of the same era — eclipsed most vacation homes built before the crash. It was the last brick home constructed in Pinehurst before the Great Depression and is one of the featured homes on the 76th Annual Southern Pines Garden Club Home & Garden Tour this month.

Superior materials were plentiful and expert craftsmen, hungry. In fact, a more suitable name might be The Moldings. Double, triple, quadruple, grooved, carved and overlaid, they tastefully delineate each window, door and fireplace — big money, well-spent on 6,000-plus square feet with servants’ quarters and adjacent three-bay garage topped off by an apartment for the chauffeur. Few homes of any era boast a zinc-lined closet for storing furs.

The Pines has weathered nearly a dozen ownerships. Renovations have been minimal and respectful. Since purchasing the house in 2015, John and Elizabeth Webster, appreciative of solid construction and timeless design, have adorned it with British, American, Spanish and South American antiques and art — from traditional bird motifs to small statuary (called Santos) rescued from church altars.

The result is Gatsby-era elegance with a sweet Southern drawl.

The Pinehurst Outlook once described the structure as Colonial Revival with Flemish bond brickwork, gabled roofs, a five-bay façade with central pedimental entrance porch and two-story side wings. The Swedish-born Hersloff, who began as a simple accountant but would amass a fortune in oil, shopped for art at Sotheby’s, was a Tin Whistle and rode in field trial competitions. After deciding to winter in Pinehurst, Hersloff didn’t blink at hiring Charles Platt, a landscape designer/self-taught architect and stalwart of the American Renaissance movement whose clients included Rockefellers, Astors, Carnegies and Roosevelts, as well as the Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

Construction costs, not including the 1 1/2 prime acres in Old Town, were listed at $75,000 — an enormous sum in the late 1920s. Platt, great-grandfather of award-winning actor Oliver Platt (The West Wing, Chicago Med), died in 1933. The Pines may have been among his last projects.

In 1935, the partially clad 22-year-old newlywed hotel heiress Elva Statler Davidson was found dead of carbon monoxide poisoning in The Pines’ garage. Statler Davidson, unhappily married to a man twice her age, lived in nearby Edgewood Cottage, built by Hersloff in 1917. In Death of a Pinehurst Princess, Steve Bouser writes that the yards of The Pines and Edgewood “were open, and one could hardly tell where the boundary between the two lots ran.” Statler Davidson had standing permission to park her Packard in the neighbors’ garage. An inquest was held, but the mystery never solved.

After almost a century, what makes The Pines a showcase is no mystery, beginning in the copious foyer with de Gourney hand-painted wallpaper panels flanking the door, a teardrop crystal chandelier and the Tara staircase, ideal for bridal photos. The Webster blended family includes seven daughters and one son. “I keep hoping . . . ” Elizabeth says.

An attorney and Realtor, Elizabeth grew up in the Weymouth neighborhood on Highland Road. John, a financier and serious gardener of British lineage, moved to Southern Pines from Spain. Each owned beautiful things in need of a home. Pinehurst presented possibilities, since “we both love old houses,” Elizabeth says. They discovered The Pines, vacant for several years, online. “It appealed to me because of the light,” she says, which streams in on both sides of the elongated asymmetrical layout. No wonder its blueprints are part of the Cornell University Library collection. For Elizabeth, this would be both homecoming and challenge: retain historical significance while blending her furnishings with John’s.

She settled on a creamy French vanilla, tinged with lemon, for the main floor walls and divided the living room into sections by furniture placement. Over the sofa, a Virgin of Pomata (Peru) in a voluminous gown dominates an entire wall. Beneath it, the Persian carpet in shades of crimson and blue was woven especially for this room. The black coffee table, Asian in style, makes the sole contemporary statement. A gaucho’s stirrup and dagger are laid on it. Elizabeth’s sentimental favorite stands nearby: a “secretary” called a marriage piece because the top and bottom, English and American — although from separate desks — align perfectly. “It fits with our story,” says Elizabeth.

This retro salon may be suitable for entertaining but not for watching the evening news, which the Websters do in a sunroom off the living room. Striped turtle-green wallpaper accenting high ceilings was hung here by a previous owner. “I like flowers, John likes stripes, so we left it,” Elizabeth says. Each has an office, on separate floors.

Staffordshire, Staffordshire, everywhere: figurines, dishes, teapots, lamps. Elizabeth’s passion is on display in dining room built-ins surrounded, again, by layers of carved molding. The proportions of this room allow for two mahogany sideboards, one from Elizabeth, the other from John, which are almost twins. Here, she has held events to benefit The O’Neal School, her alma mater.

The mid-sized kitchen is another surprise, remodeled by a previous owner using some original painted cabinets. The Websters put in an island, took down a wall and added banquettes to make the servants’ dining room their sunny breakfast corner. On the wall remains the maid’s call box. Even without a butler, the butler’s pantry with warming drawer, wine storage, sink and dishwashers is a dream at dinner parties.

Upstairs, the bedrooms seem endless; the master suite opens onto a full-sized sitting room and double bathroom, one of six and a half spread throughout the house and garage. The most unusual was done in 1929 in avocado tile with tankless toilet and a sink supported by chrome legs.

The grounds are John’s domain: designing, planting, pruning, mowing. Behind the house stretches a long and grassy lawn, perfect for passing a football — or hosting a garden party, perhaps a wedding. It’s bordered by flower beds, the entirety enclosed by a brick wall constructed from materials surviving a Sanford factory fire. The Websters filled in the swimming pool, deemed beyond repair and a liability. They also removed overgrown ivy lest it damage the brick. Despite the estate name, the tree dominating the circular drive is a 40-foot magnolia, not a loblolly pine.

Ancient legends surrounding The Pines may have once deserved investigation, but this is a happy house, light and airy, spacious and livable, historic but unencumbered by dark, massive furnishings and stern ancestral portraits.

Elizabeth Webster is thrilled, seeing herself and John as caretakers, steering the house into its second century, a deal sealed with words she will never forget. “After we saw this house,” she says, “my husband said he had to buy it because of the smile it put on my face.”  PS




The 76th Annual Southern Pines Garden Club Home & Garden Tour on Saturday, April 13, features houses, farms and their notable landscapes. Presenting ideas for inspired living in our modern times, ticket sales to see this years collection of idea” homes and gardens will benefit the landscaping and beautification of Woodlawn Cemetery in West Southern Pines. The tour begins at 482 E. Connecticut Ave., Southern Pines. Info:

A Touch of England

A Touch of England

Creating a cottage garden in Pinehurst

By Rob VanderVoort 

Photographs by John Gessner

Cottage gardening originally developed in England, using dense, informal plantings of native flowers and herbs to create the most charming effects. When I was asked to design a garden for a property off Pinehurst No. 3 I was excited because I knew the house and was sure it would work perfectly with the cottage garden style. The beds feature foxgloves, daisies, iris, larkspurs, columbines, snapdragons and violas, all traditional cottage garden plants.

I like to keep the iris and columbines close to the path. Columbine is best there because the flowers are so complex. They are usually two-toned, the light petals contrasting with the darker, spurred sepals that make the flowers look like a group of small birds. This intricacy has to be seen up close to be appreciated. Columbines look great by a gate but are lost in the distance.

Iris, in contrast, can be seen from the street. I keep it by the path to show off its foliage. Unlike most perennials that go dormant in the winter, the grayish, lance-shaped leaves of the iris persist year-round. They have a striking, sculptural quality that is enhanced by proximity to hardscape elements like fences and walks. They also play nicely with masses of fuzzy gray lamb’s ears, the contrasting texture set off by a similarity of color.

Larkspurs and oxeye daisies form the bulk of the planting. These bloom consistently at the same time as foxgloves, so their cool blue and the white can set off the warm dark pink of the foxgloves. And, oh, the foxgloves! They are truly magnificent. Their height and spire-like form give an architectural element to the mixed plantings. Snapdragons echo their form on a smaller scale, and violas bring the color down to the ground plane.

You won’t often find foxgloves in garden centers, except the occasional blooming plant in the spring. I start mine from seed in mid-summer and set them out in the fall. I find this technique works for many biennials and perennials that do well in regions north of us but can’t take our summer heat. Essentially you treat them like over-wintered annuals. Sow them in the summer, transplant them out in the fall, enjoy the flowers in the spring, and then remove the plants when they’re finished blooming in May or June. Hollyhocks, delphinium, sweet William, bells of Ireland, snapdragons and sweet peas all do well with this treatment, although I’d wait till Christmas to sow the sweet peas.

If you’re interested in trying a cottage garden of your own, a handy resource is Cool Flowers, a great short book by Lisa Mason Ziegler. Ziegler is a cut flower grower in the Virginia Beach, Virginia, area, in the same horticultural zone as Pinehurst. She explains this technique in greater detail. I wish you luck!  PS

Robert VanderVoort studied and taught landscape architecture at N.C. State University and has gardened in the Sandhills for more years than he cares to say. Reach him at

Flourishing in a Field of Dreams

Flourishing in a Field of Dreams

When nothing can keep a good man down

By Claudia Watson  

Photographs by Laura L. Gingerich

Acres of farmland rest under the rays of golden sunlight, soothing the bareness of winter’s rough edges. But there’s a surprise at the turn on the highway. A tidy roadside patch of vibrant tulips bursts through the hard-crusted earth, shouting, “Look at me!”

Families, children dressed in their Easter best, grannies and young lovers, all tiptoeing through fields of tulips, not in Holland, but bucolic White Hill. Photographers follow. All sharing the unexpected joy and the promise of hope at Blueberry Hill Farm.

This April marks the second year Blueberry Hill Farm, known for its juicy-sweet, plump blueberries, hosts a festival of blooms, a much-anticipated harbinger of spring. And that’s just what the farm’s owners, Anthony and Janice Dyson, wished for.

“I wanted the area in front of our retail storefront to be colorful and welcoming with a small roadside patch of flowers,” says Janice. “We felt folks would stop to see the flowers and come in to see all the fresh products we offer from the farm, not just at the blueberry time.”

Then she grins, adding that their eldest son, David, ignited with imagination, had a more significant dream.

A graduate of N.C. State University’s Landscape Agriculture program and a professional landscaper, David always shared his mother’s fondness for flowers. “When I graduated, I managed a commercial landscaping business. We used a lot of fall, spring and summer flowers,” he says. “When my mom told me her idea, I thought, ‘Hey, I can do this but on a larger scale.’”

After months of research and meetings with large tulip farm owners in North Carolina, David did the implausible. In the fall of 2022, instead of planting a simple flower bed for his mom, he planted 20,000 tulips in several trial plots by the roadside and on the gentle slope that borders a large pond on their 25-acre farm. Success followed.

“Last spring it wasn’t uncommon to see people blow by us on the highway, turn around, and come back to walk in the fields and cut some flowers to take with them,” he says. “That made my day.”

The new technicolor landscape on Blueberry Hill Farm is joyful and optimistic, revealing its poignancy only after you discover how it’s been achieved.

On a summer’s day in 2017, David, his wife, Katie, younger brother, Derek Dyson, and others took a couple of river boats to a swimming spot on the Black River in Sampson County.

“We’d been there a lot over the years, and I knew it well. I dove into the water several times, but the last time I didn’t come back up,” says David, recalling the terror of being helplessly submerged under water. “I felt like I had 10 seconds to live.”

The others jumped in and searched the murky river. Nothing. Then Derek, a firefighter for Sanford, found him, and they pulled David to the river’s edge. He was airlifted to the New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington.

David had crushed the C5 vertebra in his spine, causing him to be paralyzed from the waist down and classified as a person with quadriplegia. After surgery he was transferred to the Shepard Center in Atlanta, one of the nation’s top hospitals for rehabilitation, where he remained for nine weeks.

“When we came home, I couldn’t sit up without help,” he says. He and Katie sold their two-story home and built a handicap-accessible home for themselves and their son, Carson. His physical therapy regimen is nearly a full-time job. Now, he frequently drives his handicap-accessible van from their home in Greensboro to White Hill. Anthony says David can get anywhere in his standing power chair.

A modified ATV, courtesy of North Carolina Vocational Rehabilitation, has put David back into the fields at Blueberry Hill Farm, where he’s in control and savors every moment.

“Though I can’t plant, this ATV gives me the ability to go anywhere in any weather condition on the farm,” he says, using a dashboard lever to lock his chair into the ATV floorboard. I hop in and fasten my seatbelt. “Do you want to go 5 mph or 50?” he says with a smile as we take off. It’s November, and it’s tulip-planting day.

“I utilize my entire agriculture background for the farm,” he says, pointing to the rows of dormant blueberry, raspberry and blackberry bushes and muscadine vines. “Now, it’s the flowers, too. We handle it all, from the soil amendments through harvest and everything in between.”

A few days before my visit, over 45,000 tulip bulbs arrived in a refrigerated semi-trailer and were off-loaded into the farm’s cooler. “This is all David’s doing,” says Anthony, opening the cooler door where stacks of plastic crates marked with the bulb’s variety and color waited. “He’s a whiz on the computer and quite adept at sourcing, and all of our tulip bulbs are shipped to us directly from the Netherlands.”

The tulip often invokes thoughts of the Netherlands, and indeed, the Dutch deserve credit for its global popularity and exciting history. However, it is not indigenous to that country. The tulip is native to a vast area, including the arid climates of Africa, Asia and Europe. It’s a perennial, bulbous plant that blooms in various colors from early to mid-spring. Like most bulbs, it needs cool dormancy (vernalization) to bloom, making it challenging to grow in North Carolina.

“The weather is finicky — especially nowadays — it’s hot, then cold,” says David, a loyal Wolfpack fan sporting his N.C. State cap as he steers the ATV. “When planting, the soil temperature must be 55 degrees or below to ensure good root development before winter sets in.” Last November the soil was too warm to plant until late in the month, as referenced in the region’s newly acquired 8A growing zone. Pre-cooled bulbs from the Netherlands ensure proper root development and avoid stunned blooms.

“Soggy soil is the kiss of death for bulbs,” he says. “But our soil is very sandy, and it drains a bit too fast to hold the needed moisture for tulips.” Organic matter should be worked 10 inches into the soil, followed by applying slow-release nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium fertilizer (10-10-10 or 3-5-3). Tulips also need plenty of sunshine.

This spring at Blueberry Hill Farm, visitors will experience variety. Tulipa Darwin hybrids are among the showstoppers, including the vibrant yellow ‘Novi Sun’ and one of the tallest tulips, ‘World’s Favorite’, a tomato-red flower with golden yellow petal edges.

If you crave sweets, ‘Tom Pouce’, aptly named for the lusciously sweet Dutch pastry, is your treat. This flower is pale to bright pink with a creamy, golden-yellow base. And just in time for spring weddings, the pure white and very statuesque ‘Wedding Dress’.

We’re also planting some remarkable mixtures of Triumph, Darwin hybrid, Double, Lily-flowering and Single Late tulips to offer constant color throughout the spring season,” says David.

At the edge of one field, he stops the ATV a few feet from a beloved orange 1952 Allis-Chalmers tractor nicknamed Allis. She’s just recovered from a spitting and sputtering session that called for repairs. Healthy again, Allis is pulling a bulb-planting machine the farm purchased from the Netherlands.

“It’s our new tool and we’ll get all 45,000 bulbs set out in the next couple of days,” David says. “In 2022 my dad made a template out of PVC pipe that the workers pushed into the soil to plant the 20,000 bulbs. It took weeks.”

Standing by the bulb planter, Derek hollers, “Hey, what color do you want next? Yellow?”

“No. Yella!” shouts Janice, enthusiastically correcting her son’s pronunciation. “In my family, it was always ‘yella’ and they tease me about it.”

Derek dumps a crate holding hundreds of “yella” tulip bulbs into the bulb planter. Allis pulls the planter over an intended row, using its steel discs to cut a 10-inch-deep trench, drop one bulb with roots down, and then cover the trench with its three rear wheels, settling the soil.

“Hey, no bulbs left behind!” says eagle-eyed David, pointing to some bulbs that jumped the trench and need planting.

“It’s only our second year, and this is amazing,” he adds as he presses the accelerator lever on the ATV and takes off across the edge of the farm. Here, he’s carefully choreographed mixed planting to include a mood-lifting view of thousands of perennial daffodils (Narcissi), anemones, globes of alliums, Spanish bluebells (Hyacinthoides hispanica), and cobalt-blue grape hyacinth (Muscari armeniacum) blooming en masse along with the tulips.

Once those early spring flowers fade, a stunning display of 10,000 peony-like ranunculi will appear, including Ranunculus aviv and Ranunculus picotee varieties. Hundreds of unfurling peonies and poppies will inspire the romantic.

When the summer heat rises, the landscape gives way to summer perennials, including natives, rose mallow (Hibiscus lasiocarpos), black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta), and lupine (Lupinus). Vibrant zinnias and sunflowers grown from seed will provide an energizing space in late summer.

After a final pass of the farm, we head back to the pond, where it’s time for a family photo with Allis, the tractor.

“It’s truly magic,” Janice says as she surveys the farm in the late afternoon sun. “David is strong, determined, courageous and unstoppable. Along with our faith, this farm heals us and keeps us moving forward.”

David stands next to Allis with the assistance of his chair, mother and father. He is quiet but smiling. Perhaps fueled by gratitude, he understands the power of the moment — a moment of joy for life on the land that provides their hearts with peace, plenty and purpose.

Spring is nature’s reminder that resilience blooms from within.  PS

The Dyson family actively encourages visitors to take a stroll, cut flowers or just come and share the joy of spring. Blueberry Hill Farm, located at 3250 White Hill Road, Sanford, is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. It’s a u-pick farm for berries and flowers (they supply the clippers and flat box for flowers). Fresh-cut flowers are available for pickup, as is a tasty jar of sugar-free Traffic Jam, or Blueberry Jam made with the farm’s berries, in the storefront. Admission: $4 per person; u-pick flowers $1.50 per stem. No pets, please.

(Instagram @blueberryhillupick).

Claudia Watson is a freelance writer and longtime contributor to PineStraw and The Pilot who finds joy daily, often in a garden.

Buzzing with the Bees

Buzzing with the Bees

How Midnight Supply came to “bee”

By Jenna Biter  

Photographs by John Gessner

OPEN glows red on the window near another sign advertising local honey for sale. In the space between the two, what resembles a stack of wooden bankers boxes, or maybe a tall wooden filing cabinet, can be seen through the glass, sitting near the front of the country store. It’s quiet on the outside but, inside, it’s a veritable — sorry — beehive of activity.

The peculiar woody contraption won’t be there long.

The next customer will push through the shop’s happy honey-yellow door, tender payment at the counter, and in exchange, haul the thing away to fill it with the humming of a colony of tens of thousands of honeybees.

That’s because, as you might have figured, the thing isn’t a pile of hand-carved bankers boxes or a filing cabinet hewn from pine. It’s a beehive, one of the many that Erin and Calvin Terry Jr. make and sell at Midnight Bee Supply, their beekeeping storefront/woodshop on East Maple Street, in Vass.

“A bee box is like a mayonnaise jar,” Calvin says. “It’s a mayonnaise jar because it’s got mayonnaise in it.” He pauses. “If that same jar’s got jelly in it . . . ”

Erin joins in, as if they’d rehearsed the line 100 times like Abbott and Costello, Wheeler and Woolsey, Bert and Ernie, “ . . . it’s a jelly jar.

“So a box is a box, but when you fill it with bees, it’s a bee box,” Erin says, delivering the punchline.

The couple’s 1-year-old daughter, Maggie, babbles approvingly from her Pack ’n Play behind Mom’s chair. An enlarged printout of a Google review hangs above her on the office wall. “The store smells wonderful, like fresh cut wood,” it reads. From a room over, the buzzing of saws adds an exclamation point.

Midnight Bee Supply has been operating out of that brick warehouse in Vass since 2016, a handful of years after Calvin got into the business on something of a whim. While studying at N.C. State, the construction engineering major registered for a beekeeping course, enjoyed it, got high marks in it, and parlayed the experience into a part-time job working for Jack Tapp, a beekeeper who ran Busy Bee Apiaries out of the basement of his Chapel Hill home.

“Whoever was building his hives at the time wanted some ridiculous price for a cypress hive body,” Calvin says.

“His background is in construction and things like that,” Erin says of her husband. “So he looked at that and went,Oh, I could build that.’”

Calvin spent his Fourth of July learning how to construct bee boxes for Tapp. “I took him five, and he said, ‘Yeah, give me 50,’” Calvin says. He filled the order, no problem, then follow-ups, and more after that, eventually taking orders from David Bailey, who bought Busy Bee in 2013, renamed it Bailey Bee Supply, and moved the business to a plaza in Hillsborough.

“David took it to the next level,” Calvin says. “I was still in school, and we were doing a lot of deliveries to Bailey Bee Supply at midnight.”

Hence Midnight Bee Supply. The business had a name before it had a place.

At first Calvin built the bee boxes in his grandfather’s Johnson Street workshop and sold out of his parents’ garage on Saturdays. Now, a dozen or so years later and a mile across town, he’s ripping through more than 100,000 board-feet each year.

Calvin points to a stack of softwood planks piled high on the woodshop floor. He says something but the mechanical droning of planers and table saws drowns out his words. Back on the other side of the shop door, the noise fades and, with the lilt of a fourth-generation Vass native, he explains that cypress makes all the difference in the high-quality preassembled hives like the ones at the front of the store. The wood’s oils provide a level of natural waterproofing that extends hive longevity. Pine, on the other hand, is the budget option. Regardless of the material, Calvin and his handful of employees shape the wood into the Langstroth hive body preferred by the vast majority of customers.

Considered the father of American beekeeping, Philadelphia native Rev. Lorenzo L. Langstroth patented his eponymous beehive on Oct. 5, 1852, and it remains the most common style used in North America today. Langstroth’s design is modular, constructed from a series of vertically hung boxes and removable frames with 3/8-inch gaps called “bee space.” The small gaps ensure that the bees won’t seal their home shut with honeycomb or bee glue, making it easier for beekeepers to conduct hive inspections and honey collection without irritating the colony.

Calvin starts in on the anatomy of a Langstroth hive. “You’ve got a bottom board,” he says, patting the stack at the front of the store, almost as if he’s patting the rump of the family dog. “That’s a deep box.” The lesson swivels into something more like internal medicine. “If you want your top box honey only, no eggs, a queen excluder keeps . . . ”

Calvin and Erin whirl through the store, pointing to and naming all the accoutrements a beekeeper could want — specialty boxes for harvesting honeycomb, slatted racks, and different frames and feeders, as well as pest control supplies and supplemental honeybee food for the hard winter months.

“That’s basically a large centrifuge used to separate the wax from the honey,” Erin says, eyeing a silver-bellied cylinder called a honey extractor. “We’ve got a little bit of everything for anything you might be doing.” And that includes Erin’s expert beekeeping advice.

Like Calvin, she attended N.C. State, though their time on the Raleigh campus didn’t overlap. Erin, who has a degree in natural resources, conducted research with mosquitoes and genetics, and post-graduation, took a job with the school’s honeybee research lab. It was a six-month temp job tailor-made for her research experience that transformed into a happy seven years.

“I loved the bees,” Erin says, “so the longer I was there, the more I was getting into beekeeping, not just research. And then when we met, it just kind of snowballed into this,” she says, her voice lifting as she looks around the store. The earthy aroma of sawdust hangs in the air.

For consumers who prefer honeybee products without the chance of stings, the Terrys sell beeswax candles, quilts handmade by Grandma, and of course, raw and creamed honeys produced from their own apiary and bottled by Calvin’s parents.

Honey production has always been part of Calvin’s business model. “We keep several hundred hives of bees,” Erin says. “You keep bees, you make honey.”

Anticipating the life cycle of the honeybee, which revolves around the flow of nectar, is what the Terrys do, both as beekeepers and as a beekeeping supplier. “First of February starts spring for us,” Erin says. “Spring is busy on all fronts because this is when beekeepers are thinking about their bees most.” After enduring the freezing winter — all the while feeding on honey stores and protecting the queen bee from the elements — the vulnerable survivors emerge from the hives to forage for nectar and restart honey production. Beekeepers help that process along.

It’s that brisk but sunny time of year when customers flow steadily into the front while wholesale orders ship out the back. Sixteen pallets of hives are waiting to be picked up.

“We stay busy, absolutely,” Erin says.

As busy as . . .  well, you know.  PS

Jenna Biter is a writer and military wife in the Sandhills. She can be reached at

The Legend Next Door

The Legend Next Door

Three acclaimed poets, Stephen E. Smith, Shelby Stephenson and Joseph Bathanti, share their recollections of St. Andrews University’s Ronald Bayes, a driving force in North Carolina’s literary world


Making Magic in the Hinterland

By Stephen E. Smith

The sun is at our backs as we turn off U.S. 1 onto 15-501 South toward Laurinburg, ticking away the 25.2 miles to the least likely poetry mecca in America — the tiny St. Andrews College campus. It’s January 15, 1980, and my brother-in-poetic-crime, future N.C. Poet Laureate Shelby Stephenson, and I are on our way to hear Black Mountain poet Joel Oppenheimer, poetry editor for The Village Voice, a news and culture publication known for being the country’s first alternative newsweekly, give a reading from his new St. Andrews Press book, Names, Dates, & Places.

Trust me: Laurinburg, North Carolina, for all its attributes, is a far, far distance, socially and intellectually, from Greenwich Village, New York. So how is it that a significant 20th century American poet was reading at what was then called St. Andrews College? Maybe there was mystery and magic at the heart of it. But if you adhere to the Great Man Theory, the answer is, in a literary sense, simple: Ron Bayes.

I met Ron in July 1972 at a meeting of the North Carolina Writers Conference in Wilmington. I happened into the luncheon meeting where he was holding forth on his literary plans for St. Andrews College — a creative writing major, a national literary magazine (The St. Andrews Review), a student literary magazine (Cairn), a literary press that would publish 15 books a year, a reading series that would, if his plans came to fruition, be the envy of every college and university in the state, a visiting artist program, weekly student poetry readings, etc. It seemed overly ambitious for a newly cobbled-together college in the hinterland, but Ron was emphatic. He would do it all.

The assembled writers, many of whom were college professors who organized readings and edited literary magazines, were skeptical. They understood the time and effort necessary to accomplish the litany of projects Ron enumerated. He’d have to contend with the college bureaucracy, academic politics, the scarcity of funding, department jealousy and infighting, and an underlying lack of interest from students and faculty. The barriers were formidable. And Ron would have to carry out his plans while teaching his classes and writing and publishing his own work. It seemed an impossible undertaking.

More than 50 years later, it’s safe to say that Ron Bayes delivered on every promise: America’s finest poets visited the St. Andrews campus, gave readings, and conducted workshops. Literary magazines flourished. Student readings were held every Thursday night, and chapbooks of their work were published. Writers of national and regional import had their books published by St. Andrews Press.

For at least 20 years, Shelby Stephenson and I attended the readings, and we can testify that the St. Andrews campus was a hotbed of literary enthusiasm. Where else in North Carolina could you have dinner with James Dickey, James Laughlin or Robert Bly in a mediocre Chinese restaurant?

On that January night in 1980, I had a lengthy conversation with Joel Oppenheimer, and we became fast friends, corresponding until he died in 1988. I learned all I needed to know about the Black Mountain School of Poetry. On another memorable occasion, Robert Creeley, an unassuming and generous Black Mountain devotee, and I talked for hours at dinner at one of Laurinburg’s restaurants. I could list a hundred such evenings fraught with enlightenment if time and space permitted. The St. Andrews poetry scene was vibrant and enticing. I was never disappointed by an evening listening to aspiring poets read their creations on the tiny campus tucked away in languid Laurinburg. 

Alas, all things pass away, and so it was with the St. Andrews poetry scene. Literary magazines moved online, poetry readings became less popular with students, publishing and distributing books proved prohibitive, and the college’s institutional focus shifted to more financially rewarding pursuits. Shortly before he retired, Ron, who remained steadfastly enthusiastic about his teaching, told me that his students stared out the window and yawned, their interests attracted by more practical pursuits. The college’s financial foundation was always tenuous, and the emphasis on the academic experience adapted to ensure institutional survival. But none of these inevitable transformations detract from Ron’s achievement. He was a leader in North Carolina’s writing community for over 50 years, and a poet of national reputation who taught and inspired thousands of students.

A few years ago, I pulled into a parking lot on the Delmarva Peninsula behind an old clunker with a St. Andrews parking sticker peeling off the back bumper. I asked the middle-aged driver if he knew Ron Bayes. He beamed and nodded. “That guy changed my life,” he said. “My world is a lot more interesting because I had Ron Bayes as a teacher and mentor.”

Ron would have been pleased.

Lyrical Earthliness

By Shelby Stephenson

Ronald H. Bayes wooed and wowed the universe with poetry and his love for the arts; moreover, his compassion for helping others get into print still seems miraculous to me; plus, he created the atmosphere for hundreds of writers to read at the St. Andrews Forum, which he also founded. The roll of writers seems endless: James Laughlin, Robert Bly, Betty Adcock, Julie Suk, Stephen Smith, Joseph Bathanti, Tom Wolfe, Mary de Rachewiltz, Agnes McDonald, Shirley Moody, Margaret Baddour, Ann Deagon, Jonathan Williams, Jeffery Beam, Guy Owen, Paul Jones, Tom Hawkins, Anna Wooten, Marty Silverthorne, Fred Chappell, Terry Smith, Joel Oppenheimer, Robert Creeley, Lenard Moore, Glenna Luschei, Tom Patterson and on and on, even as he was writing his own poems seemingly right out of worlds of conversations.

What a beautiful life! To create situations for himself and others to find themselves in the Arts!

Fred Chappell: “Few poets have written so broadly and intensively of our modern culture as Ronald Bayes has done.” Betty Adcock: “Ron Bayes and his work have been our connection to schools of thought and poetry outside the South, as far away as Japan. A chief mentor and publisher of poets in North Carolina for decades, he is one of our treasures.” North Carolina’s current poet laureate, Jaki Shelton Green, aptly describes the Bayesian predicament: “A perpetual feverish stimulation navigating extreme terrain and a resounding fate of the senses.”

Ronald H. Bayes’ The Collected Poems (St. Andrews University Press, 2015) teems with the politics of resonant symbols. The Bayesian artistry presents, “in minutest detail, a poignant and intense emotional lingering, lyrical as hollyhocks forever blooming,” Fred Chappell has written, adding, “We owe him ebullient thanks.”

Here are some of the titles of books Ronald H. Bayes has written: Dust and Desire; History of the Turtle; The Casketmaker; Porpoise; King of August; Tokyo Annex; A Beast in View; Guises: A Laurinburg Litany; Fram.

I cannot overstate the fact that Ronald H. Bayes has been out-front, always making new worlds for word-lovers. Every entry in The Collected Poems shows that he is on his own, always experimental, carrying on out of his love of Black Mountain writers and artists and, especially, Ezra Pound. All the while Bayes gives his own beautifully aesthetic songs of emotions moving freely in and out of the music of his lines. In Fram, for example, he presents his life as a boy in Umapine, Oregon. Bayes’ vision dazzles word-games and pun-puns. Inner experiences seem outer; yet what appears beyond the page sings with feeling. “Home”: “I think / think of the years and long light and the end of light.” The syllables buoy longing. Images keep moving: “A matter of toward. / A matter of affirmative through.”

Readers enjoy entering his lines. Joseph Bathanti has written: Ronald H. Bayes “has given his life to the state of North Carolina, to the state of poetry in North Carolina, and made it the state of poetry.”

Patron Saint of Poetry

By Joseph Bathanti

No one of Ron Bayes’ stature — as poet, critic, playwright, renowned iconic professor for years and years at, then, St. Andrews Presbyterian College in Laurinburg — was more selfless, more over-the-top generous, or turned on more people to poetry. He was beloved by his students, beloved by anyone with whom he crossed paths, including cats and dogs — cats especially — whom he adored.

Ron never married, and he never had his own blood-children, but the legions of St. Andrews student-poets he launched over his long, sterling career remain his children; he loved them passionately without stint.

Hundreds of testimonials to Ron from former students have been recorded, and here’s just one sampling from Tom Patterson, St. Andrews, class of 1974, an illustrious North Carolina writer, art critic, and renowned authority on Outsider Art: “Ron Bayes changed my life. Had it not been for him I would not have attended St. Andrews, and wouldn’t have become the kind of writer I am. Had it not been for Ron, in fact, I might not have become a writer at all.” Neal Bushoven, Ron’s great friend and another iconic St. Andrews professor, once declared: “At one point, Ron Bayes had over half of the campus writing poetry.”

But it was not just St. Andrews students and faculty who sat at Ron’s bronzed feet. More than anyone before him, or after him, he democratized poetry across the state of North Carolina. Ron made writing poetry, for so many of us, not only the thing to do, but the only thing to do. Through his visionary and blazing work ethic — and the fact that he seemed to know every living writer on the planet — Ron single-handedly created in Laurinburg, N.C., of all places, on the campus of St. Andrews, the crosshairs, the nexus, the very heart of poetry in our fair state.

In 1969, he founded not only St. Andrews Press, but also the college’s Writers Forum. For 41 years, every blessed Thursday evening, without fail, he hosted readings on campus by poets, fiction writers, essayists, playwrights, you-name-it. Imagine: 41 years — like DiMaggio’s streak of hitting safely in 56 straight games. A record that will never be broken.

Yes, very famous writers arrived — Carolyn Kizer, Reynolds Price, Romulus Linney, James Dickey, Diane Wakoski, Tom Wolfe, Dana Gioia, Richard Blanco. The list of luminaries who read at The Writers Forum is mind-blowing. Ron was also intimates with Black Mountain College legends like Robert Creeley, Jonathan Williams, Joel Oppenheimer, Charles Olson, Ed Dorn, Fielding Dawson — and he hauled them to campus as well. But there were also student and fledgling poets, poets from the community, voices seldom heard, voices yearning to be heard, who also, in many cases, were launched at the St. Andrews Writers Forum. He evangelized so many of us.

I remember receiving my invitation from Ron to read in The Writers Forum in 1985. I nearly fainted — not only that I had been invited to read at the premier haven for writers in North Carolina, but that Ron Bayes (everyone with a stake in poetry in North Carolina knew who that was) — had written to me and had signed his very name on the postcard-invitation.
A postcard I still have and cherish.

I also want to be very clear: Ronald Homer Bayes was a giant among North Carolina writers, as well as writers well beyond our state’s borders. He was very much celebrated and known in Japan, especially. In fact, he was great friends with Yukio Mishima, one of the most significant writers of the 20th century, considered again and again for the Nobel Prize for Literature during the 1960s. Ron is the author of 14 groundbreaking, often avant-garde and always ahead of their time volumes of poetry; two books of prose; a monograph of literary criticism, John Reed and the Limits of Idealism; as well as two works for the stage, An Evening with Ezra Pound and An Evening with William Carlos Williams.

What’s more, I have never known another with more extemporaneous facility in spinning the English language into the most voluptuous and surprising locutions at a whim. He quoted verbatim, down to the syllable, Pound and Auden, Kipling and Yeats. He was powerfully funny, gloriously irreverent, charismatic, and notoriously philanthropic. Ron always managed to surreptitiously scoop up the check after those Thursday night feasts — near-bacchanals — at Fong’s and New China before the wild motorcade to campus for the ritual Thursday night readings.

But let me circle back to Ron’s students and close on that note: how he loved them, how they worshipped him. The holy man at St. Andrews, he handed them fire. He remains, to my mind, North Carolina’s patron saint of poetry. On that sacred note — and not a whit of blasphemy intended from this acolyte of St. Ron’s — here’s an excerpt from the penultimate email I received from him: “I think from the middle of Nov. til Xmas week was the most satisfying and pleasant time ever. 9 former students flew out to Asheville for a reunion at Black Mt. They are now all in their late 40’s and early 50’s and came from as far away as Chicago, NY, and Atlanta.  All that time back ! and as a highlight of the first of two nights, they gave a reading from my works they had put together. I was the audience of one. It was too sweet and flattering to tear up. I just smiled.”  PS

Apprentice House Press will publish Stephen Smith’s memoir The Year We Danced in May. Shelby Stephenson was North Carolina’s Poet Laureate 2015-18; his current books are Cow Mire Songs and Country. Joseph Bathanti was North Carolina’s Poet Laureate 2012-2014 and is the author of the recent books, Light at the Seam and The Act of Contrition & Other Stories.

Philadelphia Airport

Rather tired at the Philadelphia Airport

And the plane to board

An hour and three coffees away.

What irony that at five-thirty a.m.

I am at last moved by emotion

(It has been a long time)

When the unavoidable, continual soft-music loudspeaker

Romps a certain German polka.

And I remember another airport,

Other years,

And I who have never wished to go back before

Wish to go back.

But one never can in time

(And does space matter much?).

Want some irony?

In Germany it was (you weren’t there)

And I loved you: Christ! With what passion of intensity,

Jealous of whomever you were with

With the dawn pink and blue and grey and

The trees mushrooms clumping

Like wanting Breughel

To red-in country rompers

— Or maybe someone good at satyrs—

And I remember the other airport

I remember a polka

And that I loved you.

Now each in maze muddled and oh-so-adjusting

And we no longer love . . . why kid? And I am not

Even jealous in wild imaginings.

A few people

A few more people

Now we move . . . you move . . . I move . . . from progress

To progress

Unlove to unlove

Anticipating only departures.

            — Ronald Bayes

Poem April 2024

Poem April 2024


My father taught me a civil trick.

If you get caught during a rainstorm

at a downtown restaurant, just ask

the bartender if someone left a black umbrella. They will present you with

a cardboard box chock full of them.

It is not a lie: Someone really has left behind each one. You have left many. Part of the loophole is to make sure to give that umbrella to someone who needs it, or at the very least, leave it

in a shady vestibule, on the coat rack next to that sad windbreaker. Otherwise it doesn’t count. Now they could call this all a life hack, but I consider that lacking. The process of inheritance is about so much more than getting what you need.

            — Maura Way

Maura Way’s second collection of poetry, Mummery,
was published in November 2023 by Press 53.

Pleasures of Life Dept.

Pleasures of Life Dept.

Top of the World

The Cattleya maxima “Southern Pines Striata”

By Jason Harpster

The American Orchid Society gave an Award of Merit to Cattleya maxima “Southern Pines Striata” on Oct. 15, 2022. This plant, along with one other that was recognized with a similar award in Colombia in 2014, shares the honor of being the finest example of flower quality for the species on record in the world. The judges commented on the extraordinary arrangement and spacing of the nine flowers along the inflorescence (the cluster of flowers aligned on a stem). They were also impressed by how the bright white blooms were enhanced by fuchsia striations on the petals, and the deep fuchsia veining and golden-yellow color on the lip. When viewed in sunlight, the crystalline texture makes these flowers sparkle. “Southern Pines Striata” was chosen as a clonal name to highlight these properties as well as to honor and recognize the author’s hometown.

A species from Ecuador and Peru, Cattleya maxima was described in 1833. Maxima is Latin for “greatest,” which is an appropriate name for this orchid as it is one of the only Cattleyas capable of producing several large, well-arranged flowers on an inflorescence. Cattleya maxima can have flowers that are over 7 inches across, with a distinctive lip that has a yellow stripe with richly colored veining, making the blooms quite attractive and readily identifiable.

Another interesting trait of the species is the multitude of horticultural forms with colors ranging from lavender, dark purple (rubra), white (alba), white with a fuchsia lip (semi-alba), blue (coerulea), rose-pink (carnea) and concolor. Some of these forms can have additional veining on the petals, which is very desirable.  PS

Jason Harpster is an accredited American Orchid Society judge and works at his family’s business, Central Security Systems. He hopes to share his collection of 1,500-plus orchids by starting a botanical garden in Southern Pines.