Little Big Man

Little Big Man

How mighty mite Alfred Moore became our county’s namesake

By Bill Case

By 1781, the Revolutionary War had raged in America for five years. North Carolina had mostly escaped armed conflict since the spring of 1776 when early Patriot successes caused Loyalist militia to disperse and British soldiers to vacate the Cape Fear area. Wilmington was a hotbed of independence, controlled by Patriots devoted to their cause. But in the first month of 1781, British general Lord Charles Cornwallis, seeking to restore hegemony in North Carolina, ordered a contingent of 300 redcoats commanded by Maj. James H. Craig to sail from Charleston to Wilmington and occupy the city.

Immediately after stepping onshore at the city’s wharf on January 28, 1781, the ruthless Craig ordered Wilmington citizens to declare their allegiance to King George III or face the plundering of their possessions and a possible death sentence. As historian James Sprunt put it, Craig mercilessly employed “fire and sword” in his dealings with leading Patriots, burning their homes and jailing the most prominent while imploring Loyalist sympathizers to join militia units and assist in his scorched earth campaign to destroy “every Whig (Patriot) plantation.” Many Cape Fear Tories who supported English rule but had been laying low since 1776 became emboldened to take up arms against their fellow citizens.

This turn of events alarmed 25-year-old Alfred Moore, who lived with wife Susannah at “Buchoi,” their rice plantation 7 miles from Wilmington. He reckoned himself a target for Major Craig’s wrath since several Moore family members, including Alfred himself, had played key roles in the Patriot victories of 1776. Now, after a five-year hiatus, they again confronted the prospect of fighting forces antagonistic to independence.

Indeed, Alfred’s family had been a dominating presence in the Carolinas almost since colonization began. In the late 1600s, his great-grandfather of Irish ancestry, James Moore, acquired by dint of marriage vast amounts of land in the Carolinas. From 1700 to 1703, James served in Charles Town (today’s Charleston) as royal governor of Carolina — the colony would not be split into two until 1712. One of James’ six sons, James Jr., a noted Indian fighter, would later serve briefly as provisional governor of South Carolina. With further land acquisitions by James Sr.’s sons, the combined Moore families amassed ownership of 83,000 acres by 1731. One of those sons, Maurice, chose to settle not far from Wilmington, founding the now defunct town of Brunswick on the Cape Fear River. Maurice’s son, Maurice Jr. (Alfred’s father), would become a well-known attorney, and one of three royal judges in North Carolina.

In 1766, Maurice Jr. authored an inflammatory pamphlet denouncing the hated Stamp Act, imposed by the British Parliament on the colonies. His provocative writing so angered the royal governor that Maurice Jr. was briefly stripped of his judgeship. Despite his disapproval of English policy, Maurice Jr. tended to vacillate on the issue of whether the colonies should make a total break from the mother country. His son Alfred held no such reservations. After the opening shots of the Revolutionary War were fired on the outskirts of Boston, at Lexington and Concord in April 1775, Alfred, recently admitted to the bar, postponed his legal career and joined the newly formed Continental Army.

Boston was where Alfred had been sent for schooling after his mother died when he was 9 years old. While there, he rubbed elbows with soldiers from the British garrison, impressing the commander sufficiently that he saw fit to offer the by then 13-year-old an ensign’s commission. Moore was now eager to fight the foe that had attempted to recruit him as a boy.

Moore was appointed a captain in the North Carolina First Regiment, led by his uncle Colonel James Moore — a canny leader the nephew held in high esteem. The regiment became a true family affair when Alfred’s brother Maurice III and brother-in-law Francis Nash signed up, too. The regiment’s most memorable encounter came the following February against 1,600 Tory militia, mainly Scottish Highlander immigrants. The militia was on the march from Cross Creek (subsequently Fayetteville) to Wilmington, intending to link up with Sir Henry Clinton’s redcoat army en route from the north. The Tories never reached Wilmington. Led by Colonel Moore, the Tories were routed at the Battle of Moore’s Creek Bridge. Those not killed or wounded scattered into the woods. Captain Alfred Moore and his regiment distinguished themselves by cutting off the Tories’ retreat and rounding them up. The Patriots’ smashing victory meant that North Carolina would be effectively rid of active Loyalist militia for the time being.

The two most important men in Alfred’s life, his father, Maurice Jr., and uncle James (who had been promoted to brigadier general by General George Washington), died in the same house on the same day — January 15, 1777 — victims of a plague. Compounding the family tragedies were the deaths in battle of Maurice III and Nash. The resulting turbulence in family affairs necessitated Alfred’s attention at home, so he resigned his commission and stayed behind in North Carolina after Washington ordered the First Regiment to New Jersey in March 1777. Moore remained involved in the independence cause as the leader of his local militia. With hostilities ebbing for the moment in the Carolinas, he was able to devote time to his legal career and resume his role as the master of Buchoi.

So, when Major Craig stormed into Wilmington four years later, issuing an ultimatum that those of Patriotic leanings must pledge unswerving loyalty to King George — or else — Alfred Moore faced a dilemma. If he swore, he would betray his cause. If he refused he faced the loss of all material possessions, a life on the run and perhaps his own death. Some Patriot supporters submitted to Craig’s demands, but Moore would not bend. Instead, he and his band of militiamen became guerrillas, making themselves a “thorn in the side” of the British. The exasperated Craig softened his stance a bit, indicating that if Moore would simply agree to take no further part in the war, he and his property would be left undisturbed, but Alfred rejected this entreaty. In retaliation, Craig dispatched a raiding party to Buchoi. The plantation’s buildings and crops were burned, Moore’s livestock removed, his family’s personal possessions plundered, and his slaves freed.

Meanwhile, British Gen. Lord Cornwallis had been active in the interior of the Carolinas fighting engagements against Gen. Nathaniel Greene’s army, including the Battle of Guilford Courthouse near Greensboro, on March 15, 1781. Though the British were deemed the victors of that encounter, Cornwallis’ provisions and troops were greatly depleted. When he and his soldiers marched southeast to Wilmington for resupplies, Moore’s militiamen made life miserable for them. Disappointed with the lack of his campaign’s progress in the Carolinas, Cornwallis moved north into Virginia, where his troops were trapped at Yorktown, ultimately surrendering to Washington on October 19, 1781. The despised Craig would hang on in Wilmington until November 18, when he, his remaining troops and any Loyalists who wanted to accompany them evacuated the city. The war was over.

Moore’s defiance of the British left him “ruined in fortune and estate,” wrote one observer, “his family almost destitute of food and clothing.” On the plus side, he still possessed his law license, and the admiration of his fellow citizens. That would prove to be enough to begin a career that would carry him all the way to the United States Supreme Court.

In January 1782, while traveling in the company of Judge John Williams and fellow attorney William Davie, on a stopover in Hillsborough, the three men learned that seven Loyalist militiamen were languishing in custody at the local jail awaiting trial for treason and other grave misdeeds during the war. Annoyed that the trials of the seven defendants had yet to occur, authorities in Hillsborough implored Judge Williams to hold an immediate special session to try the captives. Williams was agreeable, but Attorney General James Iredell, who normally would bear responsibility for prosecuting, was elsewhere. Williams persuaded the 26-year-old Moore to stand in for Iredell. Davie agreed to undertake the Loyalists’ defense. According to Robert Mason’s biography of Alfred Moore, Namesake, Davie pithily summarized the trials this way: “Moore prosecuted all, I defended all and Williams convicted all.”

While previously recognized as a patriot and war hero, Alfred’s successes in Hillsborough brought recognition as a highly capable lawyer. The combination of his military accomplishments and legal victories provided an ideal stepping-stone for a political career and Moore took advantage. After his bravura legal triumphs, he became a Federalist Party state senator in North Carolina’s General Assembly. In 1783, when Iredell resigned as attorney general, Moore expressed interest in the post, and the General Assembly unhesitatingly confirmed him.

During his eight-year tenure in that position, Moore’s friend, Davie, often served as opposing counsel. Their legal tussles provided entertaining theater for the onlookers who regularly packed courtrooms to observe the talented lawyers engage in forceful forensic battles. Their oral argument styles differed — Davie adopted a lofty, florid, flowing style, while Moore spoke with “plainness and precision.” Moore was described in an 1899 speech by Junius Davis as having “a dark singularly penetrating eye, a clear sonorous voice . . . a keen sense of humor, a brilliant wit, a biting tongue [and] a masterful logic [that] made him an adversary at the bar to be feared.” Moore and Davie along with James Iredell (who would in 1790 join the United States Supreme Court) constituted a brilliant legal triumvirate, unquestionably the giants of the early North Carolina bar.

It should be noted that the term “giant” cannot be applied in any literal sense to Alfred Moore. He was a man of the slightest stature. Accounts vary as to whether he stood 4-feet-5-inches or 5-feet-4-inches. Perhaps a dyslexic historian mistakenly transposed the 5 and 4 somewhere along the way. But the late William Rehnquist, former chief justice of the Supreme Court of the United States and a fastidious researcher, says in his book, The Supreme Court, that Moore “apparently looked much like a child, being only four and a half feet tall, and weighing between eighty and ninety pounds.”

Though he endured suffering inflicted by Tories during the war, Moore declined to pursue a path of vengeance against them in post-war prosecutions. In an article written for the North Carolina History Project, Willis P. Whichard says that Moore “was realistic about the prospect of jury nullification in these largely political prosecutions; he accordingly often pursued lesser charges and by doing so achieved a higher conviction rate than Iredell’s.”

In the aftermath of the war, many Tories fled North Carolina. Their land was seized by the government and sold to bidders at “confiscation sales.” To aid these purchasers, the General Assembly passed a law in 1785 denying courts the authority to hear cases involving challenges to titles granted by the sales. Nonetheless, Mrs. Elizabeth Bayard, a British subject and the daughter of a deceased Tory whose property had been confiscated and sold over her objection, filed suit claiming that the seizure and sale were unlawful and that, by virtue of inheritance from her father, she should be acknowledged the rightful owner of the property. Mrs. Bayard further asserted that the aforementioned 1785 law was in conflict with her rights under the North Carolina Constitution, which guaranteed to her the right of trial by jury in matters pertaining to the recovery of property. Essentially, Mrs. Bayard was requesting that the court declare the 1785 legislation unconstitutional — something that had never happened before in America. Alfred Moore represented North Carolina. His friendly rivals William Davie and James Iredell appeared on behalf of Mrs. Bayard in the case styled Bayard v. Singleton. Ultimately, the judges hearing the case agreed with Mrs. Bayard that she was entitled to a jury trial, declaring the 1785 legislation “unconstitutional and void.” Though she won this battle, Mrs. Bayard lost the war. At the trial, the jury found against her claim because, as a British subject and enemy alien, Mrs. Bayard possessed no rights to hold property in the state. Thus, Moore’s advocacy upheld the legality of the confiscation sales. Of more lasting import was the fact that the Bayard case represented the first time an American court declared a legislative act unconstitutional due to its conflict with a written constitution.

It was during Moore’s time as attorney general that the General Assembly named a county in his honor. Realizing in April 1784 that the western part of Cumberland County was too remote from that county’s political hub — present day Fayetteville — the General Assembly carved out that portion for a separate governmental entity, naming it Moore County just prior to Alfred’s 29th birthday. It is unknown whether he ever actually set foot there. Other counties were likewise named for his legal cohorts, Davie and Iredell.

Both Moore and Davie urged the General Assembly to give birth to a public university in North Carolina. After an unsuccessful legislative attempt to do so in 1784, the two lawyers continued the drumbeat for founding one. Finally, in 1789, the University of North Carolina was chartered with Moore and Davie named to its first board of trustees. According to Mason’s namesake, Moore “helped to select the university’s site at New Hope Chapel, seat of an Anglican parish, which became Chapel Hill. Also, he was on the committee that chose a seal, and one of the three trustees who drafted a regulation disallowing the sale of intoxicants within two miles of the campus.” In addition, Moore was a benefactor to the school, gifting it $200 along with two globes to be employed as teaching aids.

The middle 1780s were a time of passionate dispute over how much power the states should delegate to the new federal government. Federalists like Moore fervently believed his state should ratify a new constitution that would greatly enhance the weak powers provided to the United States government by the Articles of Confederation. But many North Carolinians, mindful of their former colony’s oppression by King George III and Parliament, feared the concept of a remote centralized government controlling their lives. Following an initial rejection, North Carolina approved a revised constitution after it was amended to include a Bill of Rights, and Moore’s unstinting support of the ratification effort contributed to its ultimate success.

Miffed that the General Assembly had created a new office of solicitor general that essentially duplicated the powers and duties of the attorney general, Moore resigned from the latter post in January 1791. By this time, Moore’s Buchoi rice plantation was thriving once more. A man of his time, he acquired more slaves. He also purchased 1,200 acres in Hillsborough, residing in a second home there called “Moorefields,” which stands today. Alfred and his family relished summer interludes at Moorefields, invigorated by the area’s cooler air, a particularly welcome relief to wife Susannah, an asthma sufferer.

Moore couldn’t resist governmental service for long. By 1792, he was seated again in the General Assembly. Later, he would accept President (and fellow Federalist) John Adams’ nomination to serve as one of the United States commissioners entrusted “to conclude a treaty with the Cherokee Nation of Indians.” But Moore yearned for a more prestigious position and set his sights on becoming a United States senator. In the early days of statehood, North Carolina’s General Assembly selected the senators. Alfred twice stood for election by the Assembly. In 1794, he was edged by a one-vote margin favoring Jeffersonian candidate Timothy Bloodworth. His 1798 run for the Senate sputtered after his friendly rival, Davie, withdrew his support of Moore’s candidacy as part of a strategy to secure his own election as governor.

Moore’s wounds were salved by his appointment to a state court judgeship. The appointment made possible his following in the judicial footsteps of his father, Maurice Jr. There is a split of opinion regarding Alfred’s performance during his short-lived tenure as a state court judge. Historian Samuel A.C. Ashe faulted him for habitually disregarding precedents, but North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice John Louis Taylor praised Moore’s service, saying that “the acuteness of his intellect and his experience in business enabled him to decide very complicated cases with great promptitude and general satisfaction.”

When the 48-year-old Iredell, who was among President Washington’s first appointees to the United States Supreme Court, died suddenly in Edenton on October 20, 1799, it was anticipated that the resulting vacancy would be filled by a lawyer from the Carolinas, given that Supreme Court justices of the era doubled as circuit riders, presiding over federal criminal trials and lower court appeals emanating from their particular geographic area. Iredell’s circuit responsibilities had required backbreaking horseback rides to distant towns in the Carolinas and Georgia as well as the nation’s capital — exhausting rigors that contributed to his early demise.

Given his steadfast support of the Federalist Party and his negotiation of a treaty with the Cherokees, Moore stood in good graces with John Adams. Still, it seemed improbable that the president would consider him to fill the high court vacancy. Moore had been a judge less than two years, and there were many able Federalist jurists in the Carolinas who possessed experience far exceeding his own. According to Whichard, Moore and Davie were the only candidates seriously considered by Adams. The president, while undoubtedly appreciating both men’s loyalty to the Federalist Party and status as war heroes, had recently appointed Davie as special envoy to France. Moore emerged as the choice to join what was then a six-member Supreme Court and became just the 12th justice to be confirmed by the Senate on April 21, 1800. To Moore’s relief, the Federalists passed legislation that eliminated the justices’ circuit-riding duties shortly after he joined the court.

After Moore’s ascension to the high court, John Marshall became its chief justice. Marshall, still considered the greatest and most influential justice in the long history of the court, dominated it, overshadowing Moore and the other justices. He assigned to himself most of the court’s written opinions, which were relatively few because, according to Rehnquist’s book, “the principal source of its appeals — the lower federal courts — had not been in existence long enough to decide any cases that could be appealed to the Supreme Court.”

All of this explains why Moore authored only a single written opinion during his time on the court. In that case, Bas v. Tingy, a privately owned American ship, the “Eliza,” had been captured by the French (who were then engaging in hostile activities toward America), and then subsequently recaptured by an armed American ship. The amount to be paid by the owner to the salvager increased exponentially if the recapture was of a ship that had been seized by an “enemy.” Because no formal state of war existed between the United States and France, the owner maintained that he was not required to pay the higher fee to the Eliza’s salvager. Justice Moore disagreed with this contention, finding that the owner needed to pay the higher salvage fee because a state of “limited, partial war” existed between the United States and France.

Perhaps the most important case in Supreme Court history was decided during Moore’s tenure. In Marbury v. Madison, Justice Marshall, speaking for the court, held that the Supreme Court possessed authority to void an Act of Congress because of unconstitutionality. This momentous decision marked the second time any American court had claimed authority to void legislation for that reason. The first was the Bayard decision in which Moore had played a starring litigation role. Ironically, Moore was the lone justice not to participate in Marbury v. Madison. It is unknown why.


It appears Moore did not particularly enjoy his time on the United States Supreme Court, serving less than four years. Events occurring in 1802 had much to do with his dissatisfaction. First, the United States Treasurer failed to pay his modest salary in a timely manner. Second, the Jeffersonians who had come to power in both Congress and the presidency enacted legislation reviving the grueling circuit riding by the justices. Moore was appalled. “Can it be believed,” he would write a friend, “I can ride 2,840 miles a year with any regularity to attend to business on the seat of justice — the number of cases to be determined is by no means so disturbing as getting to them?” Moore told his friend that for the short term he would endure the hardships, not wanting an “uncharitable conclusion” to be drawn from an abrupt departure. But after what he considered a suitable wait, he announced his departure and left the court on January 26, 1804. He and his friend Iredell remain the only North Carolinians to have served as justices on the Supreme Court of the United States.

The circuit riding had already taken its toll on Moore’s frail body. He retired to the Bladen County plantation of his daughter, Anne, and her husband, Hugh Waddell, where Moore’s health continued to decline. He died at age 55 in his daughter’s home on October 15, 1810. His public service legacy was carried on by son Alfred, who was a member of the General Assembly and served as mayor of Wilmington.

It is noteworthy that Moore directly followed Iredell into the two most important positions of his illustrious life: as North Carolina’s attorney general and as a Supreme Court justice. It was said about them in one testimonial that “[a]t the bar they ever disdained the small arts of the pettifogger, and upon the bench blindfolded, they ever held the scales of justice with an even hand, treating with equal impartiality the rich and the poor, the guilty and the innocent.” Though slight of build, for a man who may never have walked in the county named for him, Moore left a large footprint.  PS

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

Golftown Journal

Miller Time

Pinehurst played a starring role

By Lee Pace

Johnny Miller is perhaps best remembered around Pinehurst for his stirring playoff victory over Jack Nicklaus and Frank Beard for the 1974 World Open title. That was the year the blond bombshell from Northern California scorched the PGA Tour with wins in three straight tournaments to open the season, took first in five others and banked $353,021. He drove the ball long and straight, smothered flagsticks with his irons and seemed to have magnets drawing his putts to the cup.

He’s also known in this golf-happy burg for his insight, candor and color he delivered for some three decades as a golf analyst for NBC. Now 71, Miller announced in October that he’d retire from broadcasting in early 2019 to spend more time with his family, which includes 24 grandchildren. Golfers coming in from their rounds at 4:30 on Sunday afternoon will see and hear Paul Azinger on NBC’s broadcasts instead.

“I’ve had two lives,” Miller said in breaking the news. “The golfing part . . . the younger generation sort of heard about me, but maybe didn’t realize I wasn’t too bad at times. Then the announcing part. But I’ve been on the road for 50 years.”

Still quite significant but virtually forgotten is that Pinehurst, in a sense, gave the world of golf the second coming of Johnny Miller. Four nostalgic days in the Colgate/Hall of Fame Classic in 1979 helped Miller shake a three-year slump and bounced him into a stretch in the early 1980s when he won five tournaments and finished among the Top 30 money earners four times. Miller didn’t win (Tom Watson beat him in a playoff), but he left town a champion in his own mind.

“That tournament single-handedly got me out of my slump,” Miller reflected years later. “It was like signaling to the rest of the PGA Tour that Johnny Miller could play golf again. It was a weight off my shoulders. Pinehurst’s been very good to me. I haven’t played it that many times, but it’s the kind of course I wish we played every week on the tour if I was still active.”

Miller was the incumbent U.S. Open champion with his mind-boggling 63 at Oakmont when the PGA Tour came to Pinehurst in November 1973 after a 22-year hiatus. Richard Tufts of the founding family discontinued the North and South Open in 1951 after financial squabbles with the tour pros, and Bill Maurer, the president of the new owners in the early 1970s, the Diamondhead Corporation, made it a priority to bring pro golf back to Pinehurst and its esteemed No. 2 course. He did so in the form of the 144-hole World Open, played over two weeks in November 1973 on the No. 2 and 4 courses. The purse was an unprecedented total of half a million dollars, with $100,000 to the winner (collected by Miller Barber). Miller entered the event but withdrew at the last minute because of an illness.

The following year, the format was trimmed back to 72 holes and was moved up to late September to coincide with the grand opening of the World Golf Hall of Fame, which sat for nearly two decades on ground to the east of the fourth green and fifth tee of the No. 2 course.

“The World Open in ’74 was the biggest money tournament of the year,” Miller said. “First prize was $60,000, which was unheard of at the time. Obviously, it was a big tournament and had a tremendous field. It was like a Players Championship of today.”

Miller shot a 63 in the second round, missing the course record 62s fired by Watson and Gibby Gilbert the year before. The round featured five birdies on the first six holes (including a 60-footer on the fifth hole).

“It was like one of those old Johnny Miller blitzes,” he said. “I dominated the course and scored a fairly easy 63, if there is such a thing.”

Miller and Nicklaus were tied at 209 after three rounds, with Charles Coody and Bruce Devlin two back and Bob Murphy and Beard trailing by three. The 27-year-old Miller, winner of $256,383 that year, reveled in the challenge of going head-to-head against the 34-year-old Nicklaus, who had earnings of $208,307 and a Tournament Players Championship that year.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if both of us shot in the 60s head-to-head,” Miller said after round three. “I’ve held him at bay recently and I’ve had a lot of success against Jack, but I don’t talk much about it. I know he’s a better player than I am, but I’m not afraid of him. He’s going to try to beat my brains out, but he’s got to respect me because I’ve had such great success against him.”

It turned out that Miller and Nicklaus each shot one-over 72s, allowing Murphy and Beard to force a four-way playoff with 69s and 281 totals, three-under for 72 holes (only eight players beat par for the tournament).

The playoff started on 15, where TV cameras were set up. Beard scored a routine par on the par-3, leaving a birdie putt dead short that could have ended it there. Miller and Nicklaus got up-and-down from the fringe, and Murphy was eliminated after his tee ball found a greenside bunker.

Miller won the tournament with a two-putt birdie on 16 after Beard three-putted and Nicklaus missed a 12-footer for birdie. Miller hit a 3-wood to eight feet — “The best shot under pressure I’ve ever hit,” he said — and went from thinking he had to make an eagle to simply needing to two-putt.

“To beat Jack Nicklaus in a playoff sort of capped off the year for me,” he said. “I enjoyed playing No. 2. It was perfect for my game. It gave you enough room off the tee, you had extremely difficult approach shots, and if you hit it real bad off the tee, you had broom grass, sand and trees. To me that course is the perfect course for my game. It’s the perfect test of golf because it’s got difficult putting, it accepts the approach shot fairly, and it penalizes the poor shot.”

A different Johnny Miller came to Pinehurst in 1979. He had been the talk of the tour in the early 1970s for his good play but now had become the talk of the tour for his bad play. He slid to 48th on the money list in 1977 and 111th in 1978, with only $17,400 in winnings. Miller hadn’t won a tournament since early 1976.

“What’s wrong with Johnny Miller?” the world wanted to know.

Miller responded that there wasn’t anything wrong that a bunch of birdies and a little confidence couldn’t solve.

“Before Pinehurst I played in the Lancôme in Paris and won against a good field, and that signaled that maybe I was ready to play well again on the U.S. tour. I came home a week or two later and continued my good play,” he said.

Miller opened with a 69 and then equaled his 1974 heroics with another 63. “It was amazing. It was like it was ’73 or ’74 all over again.” he said. Watson moved into contention after three rounds, shooting a 65 to stand at 203, one behind Miller. The leaders talked about the confidence Miller was gaining on the eve of the final round.

“Confidence isn’t something you get from reading a book,” Miller said. “You can’t have confidence if you’ve just hit four bad shots in a row. It comes from hitting a lot of good shots. Confidence is Seve Ballesteros hitting all those shots from the trees and making pars because he knows he’s going to. That’s the way Arnold Palmer used to be.

“The difference between 63 and 73 is so little it’s scary. It may be the distance between the ears.”

Miller hit a 3-iron on the 17th hole to one foot away and went one ahead of Watson, but a hooked tee shot on 18 led to a bogey and a playoff after a closing round of 70 and a 272 total. Watson won on the second playoff hole after Miller’s approach went over the green.

But Johnny Miller was back. Pinehurst has always been special to him for those weeks in 1974 and 1979.

“I almost can’t tell you how good the golf course is,” he said. “It might not be the hardest golf course in the world, but for pleasure, for going out and having a pleasurable time with a smile on your face, it can’t be beat. It’s hard to get mad when you play Pinehurst.

“The town reeks of golf, it has a definite golf spirit, very similar to a Pine Valley or Augusta National or Cypress Point. It’s very blessed with that golfing spirit.”  PS

Chapel Hill-based writer Lee Pace has written about hundreds of memorable rounds of golf in Pinehurst over some three decades.

Wine Country

Holiday Pairs

The best of the best at Christmas

By Angela Sanchez

The Christmas season is a cornucopia of traditions, great and small, and food and wine are among them. Children learn to leave cookies out for Santa as soon as they can walk. Revelers have been buying, making and drinking eggnog for hundreds of years. For my family, it’s wine and cheese on Christmas Eve.

When pairing wine with cheese or a dish, I find it is much easier to pick the food first. A cheese tray is one of the easiest and best ways to start a meal. Building a tray is an activity you can share with others — one person slicing cheese while someone else cuts salami or drains a container of olives or pickles — all the while enjoying one another’s company. In our family I choose the cheeses, meats and other accompaniments. My mom picks her favorite platter and together we slice the cheese and meats. My brother and nephew decide which jams or chutneys work best with the cheeses and which mustards bring out the flavor of the meats. One of our favorite soft choices is Lenora, a bloomy rind, soft Spanish goat cheese. For a classic cheddar I like Beecher’s Flagship Cheddar from Seattle. Both of these pair well with a nice fig spread. Our blue cheese this year is the “king of blues,” Stilton. Only six producers are allowed to produce Stilton in England, a traditional style of blue. A local friend of ours makes Miss Kelly’s Jelly Christmas Jam. It’s bright with a little acidity and allspice notes and goes well with the rich, robust punch of Stilton. For something special add Red Lion, a young English cheddar that has whole-grain horseradish mustard and Welsh brown ale added. Bold and full of flavor, it pairs well with all types of charcuterie, from speck (smoked prosciutto) to salami Milano with white wine and black pepper.

Now that we know the cheeses, the wines are much easier, and will accompany the meal itself. Because it is Christmas, I lean toward the best of the best. This year for white wine, we will be drinking Southern Right Sauvignon Blanc from Walker Bay in South Africa. It’s clean and crisp with tropical notes and a flinty finish and is great with soft cheese, hard cheese and seafood appetizers. My rosé preference is Italy’s Dama Rosé of Montepulciano, a deep pink rosé with a rich berry and cherry palate — perfect for all cheeses, balancing the spicy bite of Red Lion and the richness of cream-based dishes like casseroles and au gratins. For red, my choice is a bold cabernet from Angulo Innocenti, a rustic, Old World-style cab, from La Consulta, Mendoza, Argentina. The high elevation and cool nights of the Andes Mountains growing region produce a beautifully balanced cabernet with ripe briar fruit, tobacco and leather notes. It’s a natural to pair with prime rib. For our sparkling wine, we’ll be drinking Champagne. It is Christmas after all. Taittinger Brût La Française from Reims Champagne, France, is a classic, traditional negotiant style Champagne that is 40 percent chardonnay, 35 percent pinot noir and 25 percent pinot meunier. Elegant, round and with a structured backbone, it can carry all cheese pairings and is perfect with chocolate desserts and cream pies.

There is always time to try something new, but at Christmas keep it traditional. The time with friends and family is the best tradition of all.  PS

Angela Sanchez owns Southern Whey, a cheese-centric specialty food store in Southern Pines, with her husband, Chris Abbey. She was in the wine industry for 20 years and was lucky enough to travel the world drinking wine and eating cheese.

Out of the Blue

Look Both Ways

Janus sees two sides to every story

By Deborah Salomon

As the year winds down and Christmas draws nigh, I think of Janus, the Roman god of transitions for whom January was named, the god pictured with two faces — one looking forward, the other, back. This timing works for me since I was born soon after New Year’s Day, that year being 1939. So many years, so many experiences. Some make me feel old, others, like a feisty youngster.

Old: Seeing a close-up of Robert Redford — McDreamy before Patrick Dempsey was even born. Now his face — untouched by plastic surgery — is craggier than the Utah topography where he hides out. There it is, promoting a new movie called, no less, The Old Man & the Gun.

Young: Remembering how he looked at the Vermont grocery store when visiting his daughter and grandchildren — tousled, cute, short.

Old: Resorting to jeans with a stretchy waistband.

Young: Doing something about it, then burning the stretchy jeans on a funeral pyre.

Old: Preferring my desktop PC to any of the newfangled laptops. 

Young: Knowing my treasured photos are safe in a box, not on a cellphone memory chip.

Old: Remembering that I was the first, after his parents, to hold my 10-minute-old grandson. In May, he graduates from law school.

Young: Knowing he thinks I’m still tolerably cool.

Old: Associating (w)rappers with what encloses a candy bar.

Young: Knowing, deep down, that Paul Simon, Billy Joel and Elton John are better than any of them.

Old: Preferring to receive bills printed on paper, by mail.

Young: Paying them electronically. This way, I always have financial records at hand, filed in — horrors! — a brown accordion folder.

Old: Having lived through at least three cycles of bell-bottoms. Pants can only be cut so many ways, extremes being stovepipe and palazzo.

Young: Wise enough to shelve a few pairs until fashionable once again. Leggings can’t last forever, as evidenced by Melania Trump, whose designer palazzos currently flap in the breeze.

Old enough: To miss every answer in certain Jeopardy! categories. I don’t even understand the clues.

Young enough: To know every answer the young ’uns miss. And then some.

Old enough: Remembering when elected officials were respected for their service and behavior.

Young enough: To express outrage when they disappoint. Me too, baby.

Old enough: To like my coffee plain and black.

Young enough: To laugh at a $4 cup of froth.

Old enough: To like plain, unsweetened tea.

Young enough: What is chai, anyway?

Old: Remembering when Life and Look were much-anticipated weekly magazines and fifth-graders cut up National Geographic for projects.

Young enough: To follow blogs.

Old enough: To miss power steering.

Young enough: To mistrust self-driving cars.

Old enough: To have stayed in locally owned motels, cabins and “tourist homes.”

Young enough: To appreciate Airbnbs.

Old enough: To yen for Howard Johnson’s 28 flavors.

Young enough: To understand Ben & Jerry’s message-laden flavors. But really, guys: “Bernie’s Yearning?”

Old enough: To remember when Miss America was a big deal, and the biggest deal was the (one-piece) swimsuit competition.

Young enough: To appreciate why emphasis has shifted, along with ratings.

Old enough: To remember, shudder, when old ladies wore old-lady shoes.

Young enough: These boots are made for walkin’.

Old enough: To remember when family doctors made house calls.

Young enough: House calls? They don’t even go to the hospital anymore. Smart. Might catch a nasty virus.

Old enough: To remember life as perfectly acceptable before McDonald’s, Costco, Amazon and Hulu.

Young enough: To binge-shop at Whole Foods.

Enough enoughs. C’mon, Janus. Let’s go have a beer. No, not a Rheingold. One of those local crafty brews with names like “Sweet Baby Jesus Chocolate Peanut Butter Porter.”  PS

Deborah Salomon is a staff writer for PineStraw and The Pilot. She may be reached at


Christmas Poem

I cannot write a Christmas

poem for you,

not with all those slick verses

oozing through the mail,

the schmaltzy music whining

on the radio.

But what I can do

is tell you of a December

afternoon in 1957

when I sat in Miss Cohee’s

fourth grade class

listening to the radiators clank

and staring at my scarred desktop

and how Eddie Morgan,

hunched in the seat beside me,

looked up suddenly and whispered,

“It’s snowing!”

I looked up too,

along with the rest of the class,

out the tall warped windows,

across the empty playground,

to Idlewild Avenue,

and saw that it was true:

the first gray-white dust just drifting

the blue cedars.

If you are an old believer,

even on this bluest of December days,

I would give you that pale afternoon,

the chalkdust scuffle of shoes

on the worn floor,

those children’s faces

eager as light.

— Stephen E. Smith

(From A Short Report on the Fire at Woolworths.)

The Omnivorous Reader

A Masterpiece that Matters

To Kill a Mockingbird continues to resonate

By D.G. Martin

Last October, on the final episode of PBS’s The Great American Read, Harper Lee’s 1960 Southern classic To Kill a Mockingbird was named “America’s Best Loved Novel.”

From a list of 100 candidates and a total of 4 million votes cast over several months, Mockingbird was a clear winner, receiving 242,275 votes.

What explains the popularity of Mockingbird and its staying power more than a half century after its publication?

The host and leader of the The Great American Read, Meredith Vieira, said she was not surprised with the result. “Mockingbird,” she said, “is a personal favorite of mine — one that truly opened my eyes to a world outside of my own. Harper Lee’s iconic work of literature is cherished for its resonance, its life lessons and its impact on one’s own moral compass.”

Vieira told USA Today that she would have picked Mockingbird if it had been solely up to her. “I read it when I was 12. Of course it holds up; it’s a brilliant novel, and all of the lessons I learned then resonate deeply now. I think the reason I picked it is because I read it at a pivotal time in my life. I was a young kid growing up in Rhode Island and I didn’t know anything, really, about bigotry or racism, and that book pointed it out in the voice of a little girl, which appealed to me. And her dad (Atticus Finch), his ability to fight the good fight and step into other people’s skin. When you’re trying to determine your moral code moving forward, in that time in your life, your parents are influential, teachers are as well, but books are, too. And that book said to me, ‘You can do the right thing, or you can do the wrong thing.’”

For me, the book’s lasting success comes from its poignant story of Jean Louise, or Scout, whose love and respect for her father, Atticus, and his example gave her the courage to face the dangers and unfairness of a flawed world. It is also Atticus himself, the small town lawyer in the Jim Crow South of the 1930s, with his example of dignity, kindness and courage.

But it is much more complicated according to a new book, Why To Kill a Mockingbird Matters: What Harper Lee’s Book and the Iconic American Film Mean to Us Today, by Tom Santopietro.

That staying power is remarkable, according to Santopietro, because in “the nearly sixty years since Mockingbird was originally published, the world has changed much more than the previous three hundred years combined.”

Santopietro gives us a biography of the Mockingbird phenomenon. He takes us to Harper Lee’s hometown, Monroeville, Alabama, and introduces us to the friends, family and neighbors who were models for the characters of her book, to her gentle home life, and the town’s oppressive segregated social system.

In Mockingbird, Monroeville becomes the fictional town of Maycomb. Harper Lee as a child is the basis for the central character, the tomboy nicknamed Scout. Lee’s father, A.C. Lee, is the model for Atticus Fitch. Her childhood friend, Truman Capote, becomes Scout’s good friend, the irrepressible Dill. Her family’s troubled neighbor, Sonny Boulware, is the inspiration for the mysterious, frightening and, ultimately, heroic Boo Radley.

Santopietro explains how Mockingbird was first written and then rewritten. Lee’s early drafts focused on Jean Louise as a grown-up. The revisions eliminated the adult woman from the book and only told Scout’s childhood story.

When the revised work was sold to a publisher, it took the country by storm and won the Pulitzer Prize.

Then came the movie staring Gregory Peck as Atticus. Santopietro devotes twice as many chapters to his account of the production of the movie as he does for the making of the book.

On UNC-TV’s North Carolina Bookwatch recently, Santopietro explained how Peck’s star power enhanced the role of Atticus. “Peck was also a smart Hollywood star, and he thought, ‘I’m producing the film, I’m starring in the film, there’s gonna be a big courtroom scene in there.’ He was protecting his territory.”

In that powerful courtroom scene, Atticus defends the black defendant, Tom Robinson, who is accused of the rape of a white woman. Atticus demonstrates Robinson’s innocence, but the all-white, all-male jury convicts him nevertheless.

Mockingbird’s powerful message of racial injustice and oppression was clear, in the book and the film. Certainly, race is an important factor in the book’s continuing importance.

But Santopietro believes that something else explains why the book “still speaks to such a wide range of people.”

On Bookwatch, he explained, “What the book to me is about that’s so extraordinary — and I tried to write about this — it’s about what I call the ‘other,’ the concept of anybody who does not feel like they fit in. Every one of us in this room, every human being at some point, feels like the ‘other.’ You talk differently, you walk differently, you act differently, and that’s the journey through adolescence, which is universal. We all have felt that way sometimes. And, what Harper Lee is saying is that when we’re children, we think of the world as black and white, all good, all bad, but it’s so many different shades of gray. That’s our journey through adolescence, and she makes us realize that the people we fear, the monsters in our life, in fact can be our saviors. So, there are two people who fit the construct of the ‘other’ in Mockingbird. One is Tom Robinson, the African-American man unjustly accused of raping a white woman, and the other is Boo Radley. So, Scout and Jem think of Boo Radley as this monster in that dark house and, in fact, he’s their savior at the end, and I think that universal journey through adolescence — as we all learn those lessons — that to me is why the book still matters.”

In 2015, shortly before her death, the publication of Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman gave us a different and disturbing look at Atticus in the 1950s, set 20 years after the events in Mockingbird.

On a visit home, Jean Louise sees Atticus leading a meeting of the local White Citizens’ Council, one of many established throughout the South in the wake of the Brown v. Board of Education decision to resist the Supreme Court’s and the NAACP’s efforts to destroy “the Southern Way of Life.”

Confronting Atticus, she says the Citizens’ Council contradicts everything he had taught her. Do we now, like Jean Louise, have to push Atticus Finch out of our pantheon of heroic images?

Even though he is on the wrong side of history, Atticus’ core human values win out as they lead Jean Louise to confront him and to make him proud of her for doing so.

Many of our parents and grandparents who lived in Atticus’ times, like him, would never fully accept the changes the civil rights revolution brought to our region. But the core values of human kindness and respect for all people that they taught prepared their children to welcome and even work for those changes.

And for that, they and Atticus are for me, although imperfect, still heroes. PS

D.G. Martin hosts North Carolina Bookwatch, which premiers Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on the North Carolina Channel and airs on UNC-TV Sundays at 11 a.m. and Thursdays at 5 p.m.

The Accidental Astrologer

Brilliant and Batty

A cold moon rising ramps things up for the ramped-up December born

By Astrid Stellanova

My Grandpa talked about the Cold Moon, which is what the old-timers used to call the Yule Moon. The Cold Moon falls on December 22, just as Old Man Winter tightens his grip over the Old North State.

So, baby, it’s going to be a cool Yule. Winter Solstice is just 19 hours earlier, with the full moon sitting just above the horizon in a show we won’t forget. What people do forget is how tough it is being a December child and competing with the biggest holiday season of the year.

Brilliant or batty, December babies bring it: Ozzy Osbourne is a December baby. Ditto for Samuel L. Jackson and Taylor Swift. Stalin, Sinatra, Spielberg, Walt Disney, Jane Fonda and Pope Francis, too. That’s the short list. — Ad Astra, Astrid

Sagittarius (November 22–December 21)

Here you are, Birthday Child, with a bucket list that is slap full of ink. Stop making lists and start making memories. After the holidays, go to what calls you: Graceland or Dollywood. Get a gee-tar. Back talk somebody who scares you. Pick a bone with the smartest one in the room. Be too big for your britches. Don’t hold your taters.  Have a hissy fit with a tail on it, or get as nekkid as the day you came into this world and take the Polar Bear Challenge. Just don’t fiddle fart around, ’cause a birthday reminds us to make the time count before we kick that bucket slap over.

Capricorn (December 22–January 19)

You owe a debt to Saint Nick Nack for your love of the holidays. Sugar, nobody can outdo you at the high altar of tackiness. If there is a corner in the house you haven’t put a bow or geegaw on, it wasn’t for lack of trying. Sprinkle all the fairy dust you can; in this big old world, more than a few are grateful to you for the smiles.

Aquarius (January 20–February 18)

Sugar, as much as you want to come clean, this ain’t the time to air your dirty laundry. Things could get nastier, faster. So make nice, bake something yummy for the neighbors and get into the spirit without taking the cap off the spirits.

Pisces (February 19–March 20)

Yes, you have a taste for the good things in life. But Darling, life in a gated community — like, say, a jail — wouldn’t be your cuppa tea. You have got to stop allowing some wild-child impuls es to get the better of you. Take a shine to normal.

Aries (March 21–April 19)

Honey, sometimes you just have to slam the gol dang door! This is that time. You want to believe the best. Someone walked back into your life with sass and attitude. Also, a sense of entitlement. You are being far too kind and generous. 

Taurus (April 20–May 20)

You are on the highway to the danger zone, Baby. Yeah, you want to buy the world a Coke and shower it with love, but try reining in your impulse to pull out the wallet. Splash out on kindness, not dollars and you will be more than loved.

Gemini (May 21–June 20)

True, life can suck.  True, you seem to have managed to jam a straw right down in it and pulled from the very bottom.  Act like you have got some raising, child.  What happened has happened.  As for the sucky part, what you do with it is up to you. 

Cancer (June 21–July 22)

Have fun, but try to be home before zero-dark-thirty. This is no time to be taking chances. Grandpa used to say when you finally get your ducks in a row, first be sure that all of them are yours once you start counting them little tail feathers.

Leo (July 23-August22)

If the saying is true, that there is an ass for every seat, then you are in luck.  You have something important in the wings and need everybody that ever waved or winked at you for support. They will be there, Sugar, both gems and asses, too. 

Virgo (August 23 – September 22)

A dog may bark, but it is definitely not the same as a hyena. And bluebirds know better than to take up with a buzzard and build a nest.  Somebody has already warned you — don’t get into the Jell-O punch at the office party and forget that.

Libra (September 23–October 22)

Cuss and fuss if you want to, but you are going to enjoy the holidays a lot more than you expected.  Keep your superstitions tamped down and your wet shoes out of the oven. Don’t matter what temperature you set them on, shoe leather won’t turn into biscuits.

Scorpio (October 23–November 21)

If you drank act-right juice with the same determination you gulped down the Jack Daniels Root Canal Remedy, you might not have to face the long list of people you have ticked off. Make amends.  Send some fruit baskets. Like Mama said, try to act right.  PS

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

Drinking with Writers

Poetry and Protest

The gravity of the written and spoken word

By Wiley Cash     Photographs by Mallory Cash

Khalisa Rae is a star, and like a star her presence bends the fabric of the universe in a way that draws creative people into her orbit: writers, activists, choreographers and artists. But it is not simply people who are drawn to Khalisa. Justice projects, writers’ workshops and femme empowerment movements have all found their way to her. Or maybe I have it wrong. Perhaps she is not the star but the explorer drawn to burning centers of mass where historical infernos rage hot and bright, where smoke burns the eyes, and where the good work of community building can begin once the fire is sated.

Khalisa Rae is a poet, feminist speaker, performance artist and educator who holds an MFA from Queens University in Charlotte, North Carolina. Her first collection of poems, Real Girls Have Real Problems, was published in 2012, and she has been a finalist for the Furious Flower Gwendolyn Brooks poetry prize. Her collection Outside the Canon: Poetry as Protest is forthcoming.

I first entered Khalisa’s orbit when my friend Lori Fisher told me the two of them had joined forces to start Athenian Press and Workshop in Wilmington. Along with a few others, the two women envisioned Athenian as an “anti-racist, feminist, creative organization” that would offer space for writers, artists and activists to work alone, together, and with their communities to effect change. According to their mission statement, the organization is based on core values that include social justice, feminism, accessibility, community building, sustainability and independence. Before long they had found a home they called Athenian House, where they regularly hosted open mics, readings, meetings and other community events.

When I met Khalisa at Drift Coffee in Wilmington’s Autumn Hall neighborhood in early November, I quickly learned that Athenian was only one of the many projects she had initiated, joined or planned to start, all of them centered on the writer’s role in social justice and community organizing.

Drift Coffee has done an exquisite job marrying the laid-back feel of Wilmington’s beach community with the city’s upscale tastes in fine coffee and food. The menu is focused and healthy, combining standard breakfast fare with surprises like the Acai Bowl that features house-made granola and the Za’atar Spiced Chicken Sandwich with apple and tomato chutney and a tahini spread on sourdough bread. Drift’s light-filled interior is bright and welcoming with white walls, slate-colored cement floors, and comfortable tables and chairs where people are just as likely to be holding business meetings as catching up with friends.

Khalisa and I ordered some coffee and found seats in a sun-drenched corner. I asked her what had brought her to Wilmington from her native Chicago.

“I wanted to write films,” she says. “And this was the place to do it, so I came to UNCW.”

But it was not long until Khalisa’s passion for writing turned toward poetry, and she found an opportunity to work with activist poets in Greensboro. She left the Port City for an undergraduate degree at North Carolina A&T. A few years after graduating, she found herself in Wilmington again, working in community outreach and programming for the YWCA, leading workshops in writing and diversity training around the city, and eventually discovering the literary and cultural home she had not found as an undergraduate.

The more time Khalisa spent in Wilmington, the more she uncovered painful remnants of the city’s racial strife, strife that is grounded in events like the wrongful convictions of the Wilmington 10 and the 1898 coup d’état, which is the only successful coup in American history and an event that would greatly affect Khalisa’s work as a poet and activist.

While working at the Cameron Art Museum as part of their Kids at Cam initiative, Khalisa met Brittany Patterson, an artist and social worker who had just seen the 1898 documentary Wilmington on Fire. Patterson and Khalisa began a discussion about how to use art to repair the racial rifts that had run through Wilmington for more than a century.

“We wanted to curate something that was a medley of poetry and dance to focus on how 1898 affects people today,” says Rae. But the goal was not simply a performance. “The first thing we did was to have the cast sit in a circle and talk about what it means to be a person of color, what it means to be a white person moving around in spaces with people of color who were all affected by 1898.”

The outcome was the Invisibility Project, a performance that reaches across racial lines and combines dance choreographed by Patterson and spoken word poetry written and performed by Khalisa. The group’s first performance was in 2017, and their work has continued since with a special production to commemorate the 120th anniversary of the 1898 coup.

“It’s been interesting,” she says. “I’ve learned so much about this community, about what certain public spaces mean to certain groups of people, about how the past can push down on you without you understanding why.”

Khalisa and I finished our coffee. Nearly two hours had passed, and our conversation had run from our early fascinations with the written word to our hopes for our city’s racial reconciliation. As we got up to leave I could not help but feel pulled toward her energy and passion. I could say it was gravitational, but perhaps my feelings were anchored by the gravity of this generation’s struggle to reach through Wilmington’s painful past in the hope that, once the fire is out, there will be a hand to grasp.  PS

Wiley Cash lives in Wilmington with his wife and their two daughters. His latest novel, The Last Ballad, is available wherever books are sold.

Story of a House December 2018

Same Time, Last Year

A Tudor manor steeped in Yule for a special occasion

By Deborah Salomon     Photographs by John Gessner

Never again will Le Berceau be as lavishly adorned for Christmas as in 2017: dozens of poinsettias, two fresh Carolina-grown trees, nutcracker guardsman, heirloom ornaments and the piece de resistance, a wreath of white orchids cascading from the dining room chandelier. Thus embellished, Lucille and Jim Buck’s home bearing the French name for cradle — arguably Pinehurst’s most elegant residence — provided the setting for an event Neil Simon could have scripted for Broadway: 10 couples, married to each other for at least 50 years, celebrate with a dinner party near the host’s anniversary date.

Jim and Lucille were married on Dec. 26, 1960, surrounded by poinsettias. Logical, then, they should go lavish, albeit with a Scottish theme arising from Lucille’s heritage not discovered until moving to North Carolina. She wore her Clan Morrison tartan sash to the black tie dinner. Thistles, the Scottish national flower, appeared in floral arrangements. A bagpiper played during cocktails. Unicorns, the official Scottish beastie, decorated the dining table. The menu, served on Spode Christmas china, debunked the notion that UK food is mostly forgettable: smoked Scottish salmon, roasted quail with Scotch eggs, tenderloin of beef with whiskey sauce, neeps (a root vegetable) and rumbledethumps (cabbage and mashed potatoes), frisée with Scotch vinaigrette and, for dessert, a wedding cake topped with bride and groom, he in kilt, she with an arm reaching around to lift it.

Single malt flowed like beer at Oktoberfest

As Lucille put it: “This was a big deal.”

Guest and “club” member Mary Gozzi elaborated: “OMG awesome, spectacular, so festive I was speechless. I’ve never seen so many orchids in one place. Lucille is a party giver who’s got it down to the jelly beans!”

But a dress is only a dress until draped on a stunning model. Even bare-naked Le Berceau seems Christmas-y, with multiple nooks, seating and dining areas, sun porches, mantels, paned windows, staircases, a tiny telephone cubby begging decoration. The tone is classic with red dominating since, Lucille says, “For Jim it’s either red or ugly.” The elevator bears a touch of Yule, as does the carousel horse prancing on the landing.  Jim’s office, arranged around a desk belonging to movie star Loretta Young, doesn’t escape the red wave. Here resides memorabilia from his career as an attorney, senior vice-president of the New York Stock Exchange and author of its definitive history. Lucille has her “pouting” room hung with accolades from a career in education at fine New York schools.

“I had an absolutely unqualified dream that I would live in a house like this,” Jim decided, as a boy growing up in Ohio.

In 2000, while living in a soigné Manhattan apartment with a house in the Hamptons, they contemplated retirement. But where? Let’s drive over to Pinehurst, they decided, while visiting a daughter who lived in Charlotte.

Lucille fell in love. “I felt at home,” among the longleaf pines, azaleas and gardenias that grew in East Texas, her childhood home. The Tudor-style manse with swimming pool and a servants’ wing suited for guests satisfied Jim’s goal. Imagine that, within sight of the Carolina Hotel.

This central location mattered to its first occupant. James Tufts lured Bostonian Dr. Myron Marr to Pinehurst, as resort physician. The house, designed by a Boston architect and built in 1921, probably sweetened the deal for the Marr family, who remained there until the 1950s. The Bucks are only the fourth owners.

Their imprint on the house, however, is indelible, starting with the walls, wallpapered throughout. Not just commonplace florals and geometrics. In the kitchen, giant Delft-blue platters against a red background reflect the blue Viking range. Fashion drawings for a granddaughter’s bedroom, English teacups for Lucille’s dressing room, birds in the laundry room, a rubber ducky bathroom, toile and Asian motifs in the master and other bedrooms. In the salon, especially for Jim, a solid red textured paper provides a backdrop for sofas covered in a red, cream and green Brunschwig et Fils fabric chosen by Jackie Kennedy’s White House interior designer for Brooke Astor’s library.

“I’ve had my eye on that fabric for years,” Lucille says, but only now found a suitable setting.

The Bucks’ Christmas ornaments and decorations form a family scrapbook of places and events. Into the hand of a tall nutcracker (a window decoration purchased from a store going out of business) Lucille would tuck tickets to the ballet at Lincoln Center for their daughters, who eventually danced in the Christmas production. A grandson later danced the part of Fritz, garnering a glowing review in The New York Times, which Lucille proudly reads aloud.

Then, the prank concerning green balls on the tree — Lucille’s choice — which the Bucks’ son said didn’t show up well enough. Through a complicated long-distance adventure that included snitching a giant green ball from the trunk of his parents’ car and hanging it from the top of the house on the Fourth of July, Lucille was proven wrong. Now, Moravian stars, pine cones and cardinals represent their relocation to North Carolina.

“In every house we’ve lived in, I always wanted a bigger Christmas tree — to touch the ceiling,” Jim says. Lucille decorates the tall living room tree and a smaller one in the bedroom, needing help only with attaching the angel on top. She commemorates Jim’s Swedish background with a Santa Lucia doll wearing a crown of candles — but marinated herring isn’t for Christmas dinner.

Christmas holds one poignant memory for Lucille:
“My mother and father took me into the woods to cut a tree . . . it was a great outing. One time we even chose a holly (bush).” Lucille’s father died when she was 12. “The year after that our minister went with us, so I wouldn’t miss it.”

Their decorations remain in place until Feast of the Epiphany, Jan. 6.

But last year, overriding all memorabilia and decor, was that wreath of anniversary orchids — a veritable canopy over the dining room table — designed and implemented by Carol Dowd of Botanicals. “We started planning in July,” Dowd says, inspired by a hanging orchid arrangement Lucille remembered from a dinner party in New York. Surprisingly, the two dozen white orchids, FedExed from Miami, proved long-lasting with only water tubes. The wreath hung for more than two weeks. More important, rather than obstructing guests’ sightline, the wreath, suspended over a low centerpiece, created a bower effect.

What a Christmas. What memories. “My Scottish heritage found me,” Lucille says. Sharing it with close friends was a blessing. “We’re the same generation. We’ve lived this long and have been successful, career-wise and in marriage. The party was a big job but I didn’t mind. In fact, it invigorated me.” PS


Open House Tours

Enjoy the beautiful decorations and holiday music in the Great Room at Weymouth Center for the Arts & Humanities, 555 E. Connecticut Ave., Southern Pines, from Thursday, Dec. 6 though Saturday, Dec. 8 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and on Sunday, Dec. 9 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The cost is $20 in advance, $25 at the door. Tickets are available at www.ticketmesandhills. Also decked out for the season, the Shaw House, Garner House and Sanders Cabin will be open to visitors from Friday, Dec. 7 to Sunday, Dec. 9 from 1-4 p.m. at the corner of Broad St. and Morganton Road in Southern Pines. For more information call (910) 692-2051 or visit

Carriage Parade

The members of the Moore County Driving Club decorate their horses and carriages for a spectacular holiday season drive through downtown Southern Pines. The parade begins at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 8.  For further information go to

Winter Wonderland

Celebrate the New Year early and often with live music, carnival games, face painting and the countdown to the Pinecone Drop on Dec. 31 in downtown Southern Pines from 6-8 p.m. For more information call (910) 692-7376 or go to

Handel’s Messiah

The Carolina Philharmonic will celebrate the season with Handel’s Messiah, a moving musical portrait of the birth of Christ, from 7:30-8:45 p.m. at Lee Auditorium, Pinecrest High School, 250 Voit Gilmore Lane in Southern Pines on Monday, Dec. 17. For additional information call (910) 687-0287 or visit

Tour of Homes

Visit six homes decorated in holiday splendor during the Episcopal Day School Candlelight Tour of Homes from 1-5 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 9. Tickets are $20 in advance; $25 the day of. For information call (910) 692-3492 or visit

It’s a Party

The Country Bookshop is turning 65 and wants to turn back the clock, too. Help celebrate the occasion with a 1950s theme on Thursday, Dec. 6 from 6-8:30 p.m. The event kicks off at the The Country Bookshop, 140 N.W. Broad Street in Southern Pines and continues just down the road at 305 Trackside. The cost is $25. For tickets and more information go to

Everyone Loves a Parade

The Aberdeen Christmas parade takes place on Saturday, Dec. 8 from 11 a.m. to noon in downtown Aberdeen, 115 North Poplar Street. If Santa needs directions he can call (910) 944-7275 or go online at

It’s a Very Murphy Christmas

Come and enjoy the Murphy Family Christmas Concert, a Sandhills tradition, on Sunday, Dec. 9 at 3 p.m. at the Sunrise Theater, 244 N.W. Broad St., Southern Pines. For more information call (910) 692-3611 or go to

The Rooster’s Wife

Sunday, Dec. 2: The Grandsons, an eclectic whirlpool of New Orleans rhythm and blues, rockabilly, swing and country two-steps. Cost: $20.

Friday, Dec. 7: Matt Munisteri and Sam Lewis. Munisteri is a sparkling guitarist, critically lauded songwriter and nimble lyricist while Lewis’ songs work to celebrate and elevate with the tones of rock and roll, rhythm and blues and country folk. Cost: $20.

Sunday, Dec. 9: The Gravy Boys, a band that makes acoustic Americana music by adding a cup of country, a pinch of roots rock, a handful of honky-tonk, a splash of bluegrass, a dash of hobo folk and stirring vigorously. Cost: $10

Sunday, Dec. 16: Martha Bassett Holiday Special. Classically trained, Bassett is blessed with a crystalline tone, a remarkable range and sultry delivery. Her performances are known for their emotional honesty and visceral impact. Cost: $20.

Doors open at 6 p.m. and music begins at 6:46 at the Poplar Knight Spot, 114 Knight St., Aberdeen. Prices above are for members. Annual memberships are $5 and available online or at the door. For more information call (910) 944-7502 or visit