Pulling Up the Wild Blackberry Bushes

seems ungrateful but they’re too plentiful

crowding the precious patch of sun

meant for the Heritage Red Raspberry

that cost $16.

So it’s a matter of hubris that we jerk up

those lesser cousins before they bloom

drag them over nubile grass and

toss their torn briars into fire.

Yet when I get to the last bush, I stop

remember how in August I needed

more fruit to nestle around the scant

peaches in my cobbler.

The berries were small but their juice

tasted of mulled wine, piquant but

not too tart, the grace note of a last-minute

potluck, others cooed for the recipe.

So I lay aside the shovel, knowing that

this last bush, cane too tender for thorns,

might one day be our savior

if the raspberry turns to dust.

— Ashley Memory

Out of the Blue

Drivin’ Me Crazy

A car, by any other name, is still transportation

By Deborah Salomon

Something’s happened with cars. Forever, it seems, the majority were grayish to blackish. Then, starting about a year ago, they blossomed like a garden in spring: robin’s egg or Wedgwood blue, violet and deep purple, lime or froggy green, a ripe tomato red, free-range chicken egg-yolk orange — even turquoise and bubblegum pink. Heaven forbid, plain white. Now, it’s pearlized French vanilla. I won’t go into the two-tone MiniCoopers that remind me of saddle oxfords.

The other day I saw a Honda Civic so electric blue I got a shock, just looking. They could be exhibits in a modern art museum. And no wonder.

Cars. Our alter egos — more so men than women. Our fashion accessories — more so women than men. Our socioeconomic barometers that provide a heads-up to strangers. I wonder if, in horse and buggy days, people created fetishes around either horse or buggy? Maybe. The Lone Ranger needed Silver. The surrey with the fringe on top was tricked out.

The wheels are yeller, the upholstery’s brown

The dashboard’s genuine leather

With isinglass curtains you can roll right down

In case there’s a change in the weather!

So do our wheels provide bragging rights, or personality extensions? Technology rules performance but I’m baffled by the human input.

Take model names. I picture marketing gurus sitting around a table in a situation room, probably in Tokyo, rearranging alphabet blocks. Escape, Outback, Pilot and Explorer make sense, but what is a Camry, anyway? A Yaris? A Corolla? A Touareg or Passat? What did the T in Model T stand for, anyway?

Elantra sounds like a Shakespearean damsel. Is a Kia Soul a riff on the capital city? Why call a car Eon when it only lasts a few years? Cadillac, a French officer, founded Detroit; Seville is a city in Spain. Murano and Sorrento Italian destinations. California was good enough for Chevy’s Bel Air and Malibu. Did General Motors consider that Escalade is a military attack? Or Mazda bother to find out that its Laputa in Spanish means the whore? Trucks, with their macho monikers, are a last bastion of sexism; I can’t imagine a Bronco Man (if he survived the Marlboros) hopping into a Honda Jazz.

Then I get mixed up trying to differentiate a Highlander from an Outlander from an Outback. What . . . no Outlier or Outpatient?

I assume high schoolers go for cutesy names like Trax, Juke, Cruz and Chex — no, that’s a cereal. Tell Nissan that calling a model Leaf is ridiculous.

And I haven’t even touched on mysterious letter designations: LE, CR, SL, IOU.

Design — the auto industry is not gaffe-proof. Remember the 1950s Studebaker and later the Ford Edsel, both with front ends raunchy comedians compared to female body parts? Now, the weird geometry fronting a late-model Lexus looks like Darth Vader’s helmet.

Animal names have always connoted high-test testosterone. Jaguar, Mustang, Bronco, Impala, Ram, Viper, Thunderbird race a young man’s motor especially when they fly through the air, multiply digitally and move like synchronized swimmers followed by the warning “Do Not Attempt.”

About spokesdrivers: I assume a deal was cut when Matthew McConaughey played The Lincoln Lawyer, a 2011 film about a lawyer who practiced out of his car. Now, he’s the silent type in TV ads. Matt plays pool, eyes the dames but never utters a word as he drives off in his Navigator SUV. Hey, you wild and crazy guy, that car isn’t you. Get a Porsche Boxster, my man.

SUVs — sport utility vehicles — press the last button. Research took me to Fresh Market parking lot, where I counted 28 SUVs. I lingered until their owners returned. Not one resembled an off-roader or soccer goalie, snowboarder or surfer. No St. Bernards, Great Danes or eight children. The vehicles’ only “utility” was carrying a few bags of groceries home, easily done in a sedan. SUVs are hard to climb into and out of. Yet everybody’s got one. They are the “it” car, for which the economy is profoundly grateful.

Out of a lifetime total of 13 cars (mostly station wagons and hatchbacks for three children and a 90-pound Airedale) I have owned only one “it” car: a mid-1970s Olds Cutlass khaki convertible with white leather seats. How divine it was, to lower the top, load the kids and dog, turn up the disco music and head for Dairy Queen on a summer evening.

Other than that, for me a car is a car is a car. Gray, practical, economical. Transportation. Although I do admit . . . eyelashes on a pink Beetle are just adorable.  PS

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


July Books


The Chelsea Girls, by Fiona Davis

In a dazzling new novel about the 20-year friendship that will irrevocably change two women’s lives, the author of The Dollhouse and The Address, deftly pulls back the curtain on the desperate political pressures of McCarthyism and blacklisting in the entertainment industry. The bright lights of the theater district, the glamour and danger of New York, the pressure building to name names and the wild scene at the iconic Chelsea Hotel come together in this wonderful novel.

Stay and Fight, by Madeline ffitch

Helen arrives in Appalachian, Ohio, full of love and her boyfriend’s ideas about living off the land. Too soon, with winter coming, he calls it quits. Helped by her boss and a neighbor couple, she makes it to spring. Those neighbors, Karen and Lily, are awaiting the arrival of their first child, a boy, which means their time at the Women’s Land Trust must end. Helen invites the new family to throw in with her. Their choices and lifestyle decisions face them down when the child, Perley, attends school for the first time and they must all confront societal norms. Chock-full of grit, quirky characters, questionable food sources, extreme living conditions and infestations, Stay and Fight is a ferocious read by a talented author.

Deep River, by Karl Marlantes 

Rich in detail, Deep River is a family saga by the acclaimed author of Matterhorn about a Finnish woman and her brothers who immigrate to the Pacific Northwest in the early 1900s and struggle to make a life. Ultimately, it’s a book examining the tension between the collective needs and rights of American citizens as a group, and the dreams and rights of the individual and how both are necessary to realize the idea of America.

The Nickel Boys, by Colson Whitehead

The author of The Underground Railroad returns with a new novel based on the real story of a Florida reform school. Elwood Curtis was kept on the straight and narrow by his grandmother in Tallahassee and is about to enroll in the local black college. But one innocent mistake in the Jim Crow South of the early 1960s is enough to send Elwood to a juvenile reformatory called the Nickel Academy, whose mission statement says it provides “physical, intellectual and moral training” so the delinquent boys in its charge can become “honorable and honest men.” In reality, the Nickel Academy is a grotesque chamber of horrors where the sadistic staff beats and sexually abuses the students, corrupt officials and locals steal food and supplies, and any boy who resists is likely to disappear “out back.” Stunned to find himself in such a vicious environment, Elwood tries to hold onto Dr. Martin Luther King’s ringing assertion, “Throw us in jail and we will still love you.” This masterful novel follows Elwood and his friend, Turner, as they navigate this world.

The Golden Hour, by Beatriz Williams 

Newly widowed Leonora “Lulu” Randolph arrives in Nassau on assignment for a New York society magazine. After all, American readers have an insatiable appetite for news of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, that glamorous couple whose love affair nearly brought the British monarchy to its knees. What more intriguing backdrop for their romance than a wartime Caribbean paradise, a colonial playground for kingpins of ill-gotten empires? Or so Lulu imagines. As she infiltrates the Duke and Duchess’ social circle, and the powerful cabal that controls the island’s political and financial affairs, she uncovers evidence that beneath the glitter lays an ugly reality. Nassau seethes with spies, financial swindlers and racial tension, and in the middle of it all stands Benedict Thorpe — a scientist of tremendous charm and murky national loyalties. Inevitably, the willful and wounded Lulu falls in love. When Nassau’s wealthiest man is murdered in one of the most notorious cases of the century, the resulting cover-up reeks of royal privilege. Thorpe disappears without a trace, and Lulu embarks on a journey to London and beyond to unravel Thorpe’s complicated family history — a fateful love affair, a wartime tragedy, and a mother from whom all joy is stolen.

The Lager Queen of Minnesota, by J. Ryan Stradal

A Midwestern family is split when their father leaves their shared inheritance entirely to Helen, the younger of his two daughters, to start a brewery. She builds one of the most successful light breweries in the country, and makes their company motto ubiquitous: “Drink lots. It’s Blotz.” Despite baking award-winning pies at the local nursing home, the elder daughter, Edith, struggles to make ends meet. Where Edith has a heart as big as all Minnesota, Helen’s is as rigid as a steel I-beam. One day, Helen finds she needs help herself and that her potential savior could be close to home . . . if it’s not too late. With a cast of lovable, funny, quintessentially American characters eager to make their mark in a world that’s often stacked against them, this is a family saga where resolution can take generations, but when it finally comes, we’re surprised, moved and delighted.

Red Metal, by Mark Greaney and
Lt. Col. H. Ripley Rawlings IV, USMC

In this stunningly realistic view of modern warfare co-authored by a battlefield commander and the New York Times best-selling author of The Gray Man, the Kremlin takes advantage of a military crisis in Asia to simultaneously strike into Western Europe and invade east Africa in a bid to occupy three rare Earth mineral mines. Its tanks race across Poland crushing all opposition on a headlong dash for the heart of Germany. Satellite-killing missiles blind American forces while Spetsnaz teams destroy Allied communication relays. It’s all part of a master plan to confuse and defeat America and its allies. Deployed against the Russian attack are a Marine lieutenant colonel pulled out of a cushy job at the Pentagon and thrown into the fray; a French Special Forces captain and his intelligence operative father; a young Polish female partisan fighter; an A-10 Warthog pilot; and the captain of an American tank platoon who, along with a German sergeant, struggles to keep a small group of American and German tanks in the fight.


Crescendo, by Allen Cheney and Julie Cantrell

A biography of Fred Allen, the musical prodigy born into a troubled and abusive family in rural Georgia during the Great Depression who overcame great obstacles to simultaneously attend The Juilliard School in New York City, the Union Theological Seminary and Columbia University. In the 1960s Allen caught the attention of the music industry, earning numerous Grammy nominations. Just when his career was taking off, his wife, Winnie, announced she no longer wanted to raise their daughter in New York. Returning to the South, Allen took a job as a high school music teacher in his hometown of Thomasville, Georgia. Far from the glitz of Broadway, Allen never could have imagined that his new role would not only transform his life but change an entire community forever.

Three Women, by Lisa Taddeo

Over the past eight years, Taddeo embedded herself with three American women in different parts of the country to write a deeply immersive account of their sexual lives and longings. The women include a high school student in North Dakota who has a relationship with her married English teacher; a middle-class Catholic homemaker in the Midwest who is dissatisfied in her marriage and begins an affair that quickly becomes all-consuming; and a glamorous restaurateur in the Northeast whose husband likes to watch her have sex with other men and women. Taddeo’s Three Women does for contemporary readers what Gay Talese’s Thy Neighbor’s Wife did for a previous generation.


Camp Tiger, by Susan Choi

In his last week before starting first grade, a boy and his family set out for a week-long camping trip. As they begin to unpack and set up camp, a tiger steps into the clearing. Thin but beautiful, the tiger asks the boy if there is a tent for him. Through the week, the boy and the tiger hike to new places, paddle the lake, fish, and watch the stars. They do things neither would risk on his own. And when the week is over, each must go his own way, both better for their time together. An absolutely stunning book. (Ages 4-6.)

Hum and Swish, by Matt Myers

On a beautiful day on a sunlit beach, Jamie begins to create. As artists must never be rushed or interrupted or questioned too much while their masterpieces are in development, Jamie replies, “I don’t know” to everyone who wants answers . . . until a fellow artist joins her and together they bring their special vein of art into the world. For artists and creators young and old, Hum and Swish is a celebration of beauty, wonder and warm days in the sun, to think and be. Matt Myers will be appearing at The Country Bookshop Friday, July 19, at 10:30 a.m. for story time. This event is free and open to the public. (Ages 3-6.)

Piranhas Don’t Eat Bananas,
by Aaron Blabey

It’s fun with fruit when Brian, the vegetarian piranha, tries to convince his friends to expand their menu options. This wacky title from the author of Pig the Pug is just the perfect way to encourage young readers to step out of the box and try new things. (Ages 3-6.)

Moon! Earth’s Best Friend,
by Stacy McAnulty

There are tons of books out this summer to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, and this fun title from North Carolina’s own Stacy McAnulty is a fabulous introduction to lunar love for the youngest readers. With fun facts, awesome illustrations and even a quick quiz, readers will discover how the moon and the Earth cooperate to keep our world spinning like a top. (Ages 3-6.) PS

Compiled by Kimberly Daniels Taws and Angie Tally


Mama’s Cookin’

Sweet memories of the most creative home chef who ever lived

By David C. Bailey

I was 16 by the time I appreciated what an incredible cook my mother was — thanks to the woman who would become my own personal chef.

“Duck sandwiches?” Anne responded incredulously when I told her what we were having for our picnic lunch, which also happened to be our first date.

“Yeah, and deviled eggs with watermelon-rind pickles and Mom’s chocolate chess pie for dessert,” I went on. In truth, I worried the repast might be a bit scant. Mom often fried chicken for picnics and packed her signature country ham biscuits, plus, if you were really lucky, homemade pimiento cheese sandwiches. Not to worry. My mother’s sister, Rachel, had also packed a picnic for our double-date, my cousin Bill and his girlfriend, Mary. She’d rustled up some of her tangy sweet-and-sour German potato salad laced with smoked side meat. Like Mom, Rachel blended lessons learned from her Pennsylvania Dutch upbringing with what she knew we Southerners loved. Add some of her simple but simply delicious sugar cookies, and our picnic made a pretty decent feed. (And yet, I remember the sweetest treat of all was that kiss I stole underneath the cotton blanket we tented over our heads against the rain.)

I now realize that my mother — and excuse me for expressing what may be a painful truth to you — was a way better cook than anyone else’s.

Look back on your own youth. Did your mom ever cook you duck à l’orange or Indian curry served with homemade chutney? OK, so maybe she did, but was she also able to Southern-fry chicken so crisp that it was a shame to smother it in milk gravy? And did your mom also wrap quail in bacon and stuff them with chestnuts and mushrooms? Was every single meal she served accompanied by some form of hot bread, plus a homemade dessert? Did you — and do you still — regularly dream about your mom’s cooking?

Other cooks may shine at the holidays — and Mother’s sweet potatoes with black walnuts, her shoo-fly pie and her whole baked country ham or goose were by no means shabby. But what my mother excelled at was cooking every dish day-after-day with the utmost creativity and care. Greek meatloaf she’d seen in a magazine. Deep-fat-fried zucchini or okra. Exotic specialties like borscht that she’d plucked from her beloved 12-volume Woman’s Day Encyclopedia (a set I still cherish and use frequently).

As my wife once remarked with amazement after experiencing a typical fresh-from-the-garden summer lunch of freshly picked corn on the cob, green beans tangled with bacon, fresh sliced tomatoes, cracklin’ cornbread, plus some leftover pork chops, “Every meal at your house is an event.”

My parents were foodies way before that word had any currency. My cousins would come and peer in wonder into our cupboard containing olives, pâté, anchovies, capers, four or five types of mustard, even caviar on occasion. Dad was a Belk store manager who traveled to New York City regularly and brought home shopping bags of pastrami, pickles and smoked fish, along with epic tales of lobster dinners and elaborate, multicourse Chinese feasts, which Mom would replicate, like his favorite, angels-on-horseback (oysters wrapped with bacon and broiled with onions and hoisin sauce). She fully embraced the ’50s hot trend of cooking what was then termed international or gourmet food, but she never abandoned the comfort food she — and Daddy — grew up eating on the farms they were raised on during the Depression — chicken-fried steak, sauerbraten, buckwheat cakes, chicken and dumplings, cider-braised rabbit and apples, all served with a heaping helping of their tradition, passed on from her mother and grandmother.

But her real creativity came into play with leftovers. As she would be piling bowls from the fridge onto the counter, my sister would say, “Uh oh, time for must-go soup.” Quoting my grandmother, Mom would counter,  “Better bad belly burst than good food waste.” Roast beef hash. Spicy gumbo from leftover okra and other vegetables. Stuffed baked potatoes or green peppers. And her pièce de résistance: schnitz un knepp from leftover ham paired with apples and dumplings.

Mom was not a demonstrative person. She wasn’t huggy, and even her filial kisses might be termed polite and correct. She said, “I love you” to each of us regularly, but with just a tad of awkwardness. This despite the fact that she was a hopeless romantic who gobbled up Hemingway, Fitzgerald and massive Russian novels one after another.

Dad would finish his favorite dessert, mopping up one of Mom’s fluffy biscuits in a slurry of molasses, give a satisfied groan, push his chair away from the table and say, “Aren’t we glad we married her,” maybe the most affectionate thing I ever heard him say to Mom.

“Nothing says lovin’ like something from the oven,” the Pillsbury Doughboy used to say, and Mom’s cooking said it best.  PS

O.Henry’s Contributing Editor David Claude Bailey learned to cook late in life at Print Works Bistro after working his way up from dishwasher to backline chef.

Sweet Tea for the Soul

A sociable Southern greeting in a glass

By Gayvin Powers

In the South, summer heat takes on a personality of its own, inspiring thoughts like, “I’m walking through soup,” or “If it gets any hotter, I’ll have to take off stuff I really ought to keep on.” One of the only things to do on a day like this is to crank up the AC and have a cold glass of iced tea. Not the iced tea Northerners refer to, the kind that’s missing that one, all-important, ingredient. No, the sweet kind, the kind that Grandma made fresh when she welcomed you every time you knocked on her screen door. Grandmas know tradition, and the sweet tea tradition in the South goes way back to 1839 and a recipe for “Tea Punch” in The Kentucky Housewife cookbook.

To understand the full story of how Southern sweet tea came to be, one needs to understand the building blocks of this cultural icon. It’s the coming together of a trifecta of luxuries in Colonial America: tea, ice, and sugar.

The first is tea. Prior to the 1800s, tea was served hot. As a colony of Great Britain, Americans enjoyed their lavish green tea, drinking more of it than coffee. In 1773, when Britain put a 25 percent tax on tea imported to the American Colonies, the Colonists saw themselves being priced out of one of their favorite refreshing pastimes. And they rebelled. Of course, the Founding Fathers may have had a few other grievances in mind, but it was tea that went into Boston Harbor. After the War of Independence the new nation’s clipper ships sailed directly to China, cutting out the British middlemen and providing the states with tea — and some of its first millionaires.

The second ingredient originated from the wild concept of “ice harvesting.” In the early 1800s, ice became year-round thanks to Frederic Tudor, a Boston businessman who masterminded the trading of ice, garnering him the title “Ice King.” Tudor hired workers for the dangerous job of chipping away frozen ponds in the North. Once gathered, the ice was stored and shipped to hotter locations, like the Caribbean, Europe and India. On blistering summer days, cold treats like ice cream and sorbets became available to patrons who could pay the high prices for it.

Sugar, the third luxury in sweet tea, was domesticated 10,000 years ago on the island of New Guinea, where it was used as ceremonial medicine. Erin Coyle, a North Carolina Humanities Council Road Scholar who specializes in tea, says, “Sugar was the oil of its day.” It was introduced to the New World by Christopher Columbus, who engaged in a month-long affair with the extraordinarily beautiful Beatriz de Bobadilla, governor of Gomera in the Canary Islands — the westernmost islands of what the Europeans considered the known world and a logical place to lay in supplies for an exploration into the unknown. With a reputation for extraordinary beauty, the “Lady of the Gallows,” as she was known, gave him cuttings of sugar cane that found their way to Hispaniola.

“The cost of sugar dropped by the 1700s. Everyone was consuming it,” Coyle says. “In the 1700s, the average Englishman ate 4 pounds of sugar per year. In the 1800s, it increased to 18 pounds. I can only imagine the average amount of sugar a person consumes today.”

One of Coyle’s favorite stories is about a popular establishment just to the southern side of the “tea line” dividing the North and the South — the unsweetened from the sweetened. A Northerner waited his turn behind an older Southern gentleman at the iced tea counter. When the Northerner filled up his cup, he took a deep swig, almost spit it out, and said, “I never tasted anything so terrible in my life.”

The Southern gentleman patted him on the back and said, “You’ve got to work up to it, son.”

Debates on how to make sweet tea are resolute and plentiful. Lipton or Luzianne? Crushed or cubed ice? Baking soda? Simple syrup, yes or no? And the amount of sugar in sweet tea is as complex as the DNA of its maker.

The original iced teas, called “tea punches,” had various blends of sugar, juice, alcohol, lemon, water, tea, spices and cream. In the beginning, these punches had loyalist names such as “George IV,” then made way for more patriotic drinks, called  “Charleston’s St. Cecilia Punch” and “Chatham Artillery Punch.” While these drinks may have had fancy names, none can take home the grand prize for being the original sweet tea. That honor stays with Mrs. Lettice Bryan, whose recipe for “Tea Punch” was published in The Kentucky Housewife cookbook in 1839, making it the first sweet iced tea.

The “Southern Sweet Tea” common today has its roots in the Housekeeping in Old Virginia cookbook, written by Marion Cabell Tyree and published in 1878. Unlike its tea punch predecessor, this version is non-alcoholic and uses large amounts of sugar.

Over time, the production of sugar, tea and ice cost less, and the once expensive refreshment reserved for tea parties and galas became commonplace. It wasn’t long before sweet tea took up residency in the South, where anyone from a neighbor to a mail carrier to one’s grandparents could be greeted with a glass of Southern hospitality.

“Sweet tea isn’t a drink, really. It’s culture in a glass,” wrote Allison Glock in Garden & Gun. It’s steeped in culture, cooled with tradition and sweetened with kindness. In the South, people take their tea recipes seriously.

“The important part about tea is that, no matter where one travels in the world, it’s known for welcoming guests,” says Coyle, who tells the story of one family reunion. “Every family brings their own iced tea, and they all pour it into one vessel. A communal pot, so to speak. Their uncle would doctor it. He usually used pineapple juice as one of the ingredients — that’s one of the popular juices from the original tea punches. That tea would be shared with the whole family. It’s very ritualistic.”

When it came to making sweet tea, green tea was the Bible until the 1900s. During World War II, when it was virtually impossible to get one’s hands on green tea, the United States imported black tea from British-controlled India.

In the South’s sticky summer weather, an icy batch of sweet tea hits you right as rain as you rock on the front porch, watching the fireflies come out. A glass of sweet tea can take you back to childhood — the humidity on your skin as the screen door swings open, the scent of gardenia on the breeze, Grandma smiling, handing you a cold glass and saying, “Come on in, darlin’.”

Tea Punch (The First Iced Tea)

The Kentucky Housewife cookbook, written by Mrs. Lettice Bryan, published in 1839

“Make a pint and a half of very strong tea in the usual manner; strain it, and pour it boiling (hot) on 1 pound and a quarter of loaf sugar. Add half a pint of rich sweet cream, and then stir in gradually a bottle of Claret or Champagne. You may heat it up to the boiling point and serve it so, or you may send it ‘round entirely cold in glass cups.”

Original Southern Sweet Tea

Housekeeping in Old Virginia cookbook, written by Marion Cabell Tyree, published in 1878

“Ice Tea – After scalding the teapot, put into it one quart of boiling water and two teaspoonfuls green tea. If wanted for supper, do this at breakfast. At dinner time, strain, without stirring, through a tea strainer into a pitcher. Let it stand till tea time and pour into decanters, leaving the sediment in the bottom of the pitcher. Fill the goblets with ice, put two teaspoonfuls granulated sugar in each, and pour the tea over the ice and sugar. A squeeze of lemon will make this delicious and healthful, as it will correct the astringent tendency.”

Arnold Palmer

Arnold Palmer left his mark on golf, the Sandhills and sweet tea. The winner of seven major championships who designed over 300 golf courses, including the Mid South Club, is described by Jim Dodson in A Golfer’s Life as “a king with a common touch.” The story behind the refreshing Arnold Palmer drink is a bit mythical. Tea punches with juices have been around for over a hundred years with everyone making their own variation, including Palmer in the mid-1950s. Since there wasn’t a name for his favorite drink, he spent years describing the mixture of iced tea and lemonade to wait staff.

In the 1960s, Palmer ordered his lemonade-tea concoction after a hot day designing a golf course in Palm Springs, California. A woman overheard Palmer order his drink, and said, “I’ll have that Palmer drink.”

During an interview with ESPN, Palmer said, “From that day on, it (the Arnold Palmer) spread like wildfire.”

The Original Arnold Palmer

3/4 parts tea

1/4 part lemonade (healthy splash)

Serve in a glass full of ice.

The Modern Arnold Palmer

1/2 part tea

1/2 part lemonade

Serve in a glass full of ice.

Southern Sweet Tea with a Twist

Since its inception, everyone has put his or her own spin on Southern sweet tea. Few have had the accolades for their iced tea mixology as Rachelle Jamerson-Holmes the founder of Rachelle’s Island Tea. In 2018, her famous tea won the People’s Choice Best Sweet Tea at the seventh annual Sweet Tea Festival in Summerville, South Carolina, and in May, 2019 the sweet tea was voted BEST Sweet Champion at the ninth annual Taste of Black Columbia, in South Carolina.

Jamerson-Holmes owns and runs Thee Matriarch Bed & Breakfast with her husband, chef Fred Hudson. They know that sweet tea is a welcoming necessity when guests visit — which is why people can enjoy a glass on-site or buy it by the gallon (or commemorative bottle) every day at their bed and breakfast.

“Sweet tea was and still is like water,” Jamerson-Holmes says, “always in the refrigerator waiting to quench someone’s thirst.”

Jamerson-Holmes’ tea story has an authentic Southern beginning that starts with family. She remembers joining her great-grandmothers and grandmothers, often drinking sweet iced tea from a Mason jar “on the front porch or under a shaded pecan tree for summer comfort and conversation.”

Currently, she is writing the Southern Sweet Tea Cocktails recipe book, and Thee Matriarch Spiked Island Tea is her signature drink. This recipe is a modern twist on the classic tea punch and Southern sweet tea.

“I love fruity drinks,” Jamerson-Holmes says. “This drink is me.” Sweet, refreshing, and full of tradition.

Thee Matriarch Spiked Island Tea

By Rachelle Jamerson-Holmes of World Famous Rachelle’s Island Tea, “Southern Sweet Tea Signature Cocktails”

1 quart Rachelle’s Island Tea

1/3 cup peach rum

1/3 cup coconut rum

1/3 cup mango-pineapple vodka

2 cups crushed ice

Pineapple spears to garnish

1. Mix tea, rums and vodka in a pitcher.

2. Add ice to glasses.

3. Pour cocktail in glasses.

4. Garnish with pineapple.  PS

Gayvin Powers is author of The Adventure of Iona Fay series and writing coach at Soul Sisters Write. She can be reached at hello@gayvinpowers.com.

Hog Heaven

A pig picking — down-home and dramatic all at the same time. Invite the neighborhood and ice down plenty of beer.

By Jane Lear

When my editor asked me to write about a pig picking — that is, a roasted whole hog and one of the world’s epic, roll-up-your-sleeves culinary projects — I realized I would be inviting the sort of controversy that sparks thoughts of witness protection or, at the very least, a pseudonym. As John Shelton Reed and Dale Volberg Reed point out in Holy Smoke: The Big Book of North Carolina Barbecue, the problem is that, when it comes to cooking a whole pig, “there are reputable, sometimes renowned, pitmasters who would tell you something different at each and every step. Literally, each and every one.” They are not kidding.

The Backstory

“The first pig roasts were occasions for families and communities to get together, and you’ll find various renditions all over the world,” wrote Jim Auchmutey in the “Foodways” volume of The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture.  The barbecue tradition of the American South has its roots in the Caribbean, “where Spanish explorers of the early 1500s found islanders roasting fish and game on a framework of sticks they called (in translation) a barbacoa,” Auchmutey explained, adding that the first barbecuers were typically African slaves who combined their native methods of roasting meat with expertise picked up in the West Indies.

There are numerous knowledgeable websites (including those of the Southern Foodways Alliance and the North Carolina Barbecue Society) devoted to barbecue, and it’s the subject of some great books. Among the favorites in my library are the aforementioned Holy Smoke as well as Smokestack Lightning: Adventures in the Heart of Barbecue Country, by Lolis Eric Elie, and Barbecue Crossroads: Notes and Recipes From a Southern Odyssey, by Robb Walsh. What I’m trying to say is that in the space provided here, all I can do is drive slow and point out a few landmarks.

The Meat

In most of the South, barbecue means pork, and particularly in eastern North Carolina, it means the whole hog. You can order a conventionally raised whole hog from a butcher, but if you prefer eating meat that is raised with the welfare of the animals and the environment in mind (hog farming can be especially brutal to both), you may want to seek out a local sustainable farm, or order from one such as Cane Creek Farm, in Saxapahaw. It’s known far and wide as a producer of absolutely delicious pork from pastured heritage breeds: In other words, those pigs only have one bad day. Cane Creek sells whole hogs for pig pickings, and you’ll find all sorts of useful information on their website.

“Whole hog,” by the way, doesn’t actually mean the entire hog, but one that’s been “dressed” — that is, had the feet, tail, and innards removed and the bristles scraped off. Many people prefer to have the head removed as well. Be sure to get the hog with the skin on, though, and ask for it butterflied so you can spread it open on the cooker. Because you may still need to crack the ribs to open the carcass all the way, you may even want to order the pig split down the backbone into halves, which will make it easier to flip. On a practical note, a whole hog is too big for the refrigerator and most coolers, so the most common place to stash it is in the bathtub with lots of ice. Just saying.

The Fuel

In a perfect world, you’d start with half a cord of well-seasoned hardwood logs and burn them down, but about 70 pounds of hardwood lump charcoal is a good compromise. You’ll also want lots of water-soaked hardwood chunks to add to the burning coals for smoke. Avoid mesquite; although it’s great for Texas-style beef brisket, it’s too strong for pork. Instead, choose hickory, oak, a fruitwood such as apple, or a mix.

The Method

The easiest option is to rent a charcoal (not propane) cooker, which you can tow behind a car, or plunk down a chunk of change for a Cuban-style caja china (Chinese box), available at Williams-Sonoma and other online sources. A caja china is simple to use, but although it results in beautifully moist lechón pork, you won’t get much of a smoky whomp. A spit-roaster is yet another alternative, but again, you‘re not going to get the smokiness that aficionados crave.

If, however, you’re the sort of person who can build a raised garden bed, you may not think twice about knocking together a temporary cinderblock pit. It helps to have a truck-owning friend who owes you one, and a place nearby where you can buy supplies such as a sheet of expanded metal. (Avoid galvanized metal, which can give off toxic fumes.) It’s also helpful to have a kettle grill or fire pit to get additional coals working; that way, you can add them to the pit as needed.

“The coals go in a pit and the meat is put more or less directly above them, at some distance (to keep the cooking temperature low),” explain the Reeds. “The meat is kept moist by frequent mopping (basting), and most of the smoke comes from the meat drippings and basting sauce hitting the hot coals (coals produce very little smoke on their own). It’s hard to improve on this technique for cooking whole hogs.”

The Game Plan

Decide when you want to eat and work backward. Build the pit and lay in supplies a few days ahead. Think about delegating authority for the playlist, beer, snacks and the graveyard shift. As far as the cooking goes, give yourself plenty of leeway; depending on the size of the hog, the Reeds suggest at least 12 and up to 14 hours, start to finish.

The Equipment

One or two large chimney fire starters 

An oven thermometer (a remote-read type is nice but not necessary)

A meat thermometer

Heavy gloves (for you and a sidekick)

A squirt bottle of water to control flare-ups

An Eastern North Carolina style barbecue sauce (see below)

The Roasting

There are numerous how-to’s online, so I’m not going to take up space here with the nitty-gritty. But here are some handy tips from the Reeds and various other backyard pitmasters.

When shoveling hot coals into the pit, put more under where the thick, slow-cooking hams (hind legs) and shoulders of the hog will be. Check the oven thermometer; the temperature at grill level should reach 225–250 degrees Fahrenheit. Put a half-dozen water-soaked wood chunks where they’ll smolder, but not directly under the pig. Then put the pig, skin side up, on the grate and cover.

After a while, start another batch of charcoal. Every half hour, check the temperature of the pit. If it’s dropping off, put more hot coals under the shoulders and hams and a couple of hardwood chunks off to the side. Use a shovel to push the dying embers into the middle of the pit to cook the ribs and loin.

After six or seven hours, the hams and shoulders should be looking nicely browned and wrinkled. Stick a meat thermometer in those thick parts — don’t touch the bone — and see if the temperature has reached 165 degrees. Keep cooking until it reaches that temperature, even if it takes much longer.

When it reaches 165 degrees, you and a friend don those heavy gloves and gently turn the pig over. You may need a spatula or (clean) shovel to loosen it first. Don’t worry if the pig comes apart when you do this. Once the skin side is down, you’ll be looking at the ribs. Generously fill the cavity with sauce, and mop the shoulders and hams, too.

Let the meat cook another couple of hours, adding coals and wood as needed, until your meat thermometer reads at least 180 degrees in every part of the animal. The rib and shoulder bones should pull away with no resistance.

The Sauce

This “Old-Time Eastern North Carolina Barbecue Sauce,” which appears in the Reeds’ Holy Smoke, is staggeringly simple. Just mix together 1 gallon cider vinegar, 1 1⁄3 cups crushed red pepper, 2 tablespoons black pepper, and 1⁄4 cup coarse salt and let stand for at least 4 hours.

The Payoff

You can serve the cooked pig as is, pig-picking style, so that guests can choose what they like — moist, tender, pale “inside meat” or the dark, smoky, bark-like “outside meat.” Don’t be surprised if folks don’t stray far from the pit, but simply stand around the carcass, picking the meat right off the bones. Or you can chop or pull the meat for a luscious mix of the two, dress it with some remaining sauce, and add in some crunchy cracklings for yet another texture. The traditional way to eat pulled pork is to sandwich it, along with a generous dollop of coleslaw, in a hamburger bun.

The Sides

Pork is the star of any self-respecting pig picking, but you (or the kind souls who volunteered) will feel obligated to round out the feast with side dishes. And although there is absolutely nothing wrong with baked beans out of a can or jumbo bags of barbecue potato chips, upping the drama quotient, so to speak, can be part of the fun.

If you have a kettle grill going for those additional coals, for instance, it’s an easy matter to grill corn on the cob. Here’s how: Pull back the corn husks but leave them attached at the base of each ear. Remove the corn silk, then put the husks back around the ears. Grill over moderately hot heat, turning frequently, about 10 minutes. Let the corn cool a few minutes, then holding each ear with a kitchen towel, peel back the husk and discard. Serve with mayonnaise blended with a little of the Thai chile sauce called sriracha, the North African chile condiment called harissa, or minced canned chipotles in adobo (all available at supermarkets).

When it comes to potato salad, if you are lucky enough to find honest-to-goodness new (that is, freshly dug) small potatoes, with their thin, delicate skins, at the market or farm stand, there’s no reason to camouflage their earthy flavor with mayo and bits of hard-boiled egg. Simmer the spuds in well-salted water until tender, about 15 minutes or so, and cut into quarters when cool to the touch. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and gently toss with finely chopped shallot, chopped fresh thyme leaves (include some thyme flowers if you’re harvesting out of the garden) and/or parsley. Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

One of the things I learned during my tenure at Gourmet magazine is the wonderful affinity watermelon and tomatoes have for one another, and I love the combination to this day. Stir together chunks of seedless watermelon and juicy sun-ripened tomatoes. Add some crumbled feta, chopped cilantro, extra-virgin olive oil, white balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste. Serve on a bed of arugula or watercress or just as is.

You were getting a little concerned that I was going to snub coleslaw, weren’t you? Not to worry. Coleslaw, with its coolness and snap, transcends the categories of salad, side, relish, and sandwich topping with confidence and ease. And as with other age-old dishes, variations abound. Craig Claiborne’s coleslaw (see box below) is an homage to the straightforward type you’ll find in Goldsboro, and it is hard to beat.

Reality Check

If roasting a whole hog sounds like more than you bargained for, take heart. Especially if you are new to outdoor cooking or can’t undertake the considerable investment of time and money, there’s no shame in starting with something smaller and more manageable, like a pork shoulder. Specifically, I’m talking about a Boston butt, the meaty upper part of the shoulder that’s also called pork butt or butt end of a pork shoulder roast. A bone-in Boston butt usually weighs a good 8 to 10 pounds, and it can be cooked on the grill.  Any which way, the result is hog heaven.

Goldsboro Coleslaw 

Adapted from Craig Claiborne’s Southern Cooking (Times Books, 1987)

Serves about 6

The last two ingredients in this recipe — a tiny amount of sugar and cayenne or smoked paprika — are my usual embellishments, but I sometimes include grated carrot as well and/or a drizzle of rice vinegar. For a tangier coleslaw, replace some of the mayo with a dollop of sour cream. When tinkering, don’t forget to taste as you go. You can always add more mayo, salt, or cayenne, for instance, but you can’t remove them once they’ve joined the party.

1 small cabbage (about 1 1/2 pounds)

1 1/2 cups mayonnaise

1 cup finely chopped onion

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

A scant 1/2 teaspoon sugar (optional)

A pinch of cayenne or Spanish smoked paprika 

1. Remove the core of the cabbage and the tough or blemished outer leaves. Cut the head in half and shred fine. There should be about 6 cups. Coarsely chop the shreds and put them into a mixing bowl.

2. Add the mayonnaise, onion, salt, and pepper and toss to blend well. Let the slaw sit about 30 minutes so the cabbage wilts a bit and the flavors have a chance to mingle.  PS

Jane Lear, formerly of Gourmet magazine and Martha Stewart Living, is the editor of Feed Me, a quarterly magazine for Long Island food lovers.

Drinking with Writers

A Born Storyteller

Wills Maxwell makes comedy real

By Wiley Cash     Photographs by Mallory Cash

Wilmington-based comedian Wills Maxwell routinely opens his sets with a joke about what he claims is his desire to fit in. “I’m a conformist,” he says. “I’m such a conformist that the only reason I’m black is because everyone else in my family is.”

The son of an attorney and an insurance claims adjuster, and the brother of three sisters — all of whom have advanced degrees — the career path Wills has taken proves he is not one bit concerned with conformity. Even when he was a kid growing up in Raleigh, Wills knew he wanted to be a storyteller.

“My ambition was to write comic books about superheroes,” he says. “I wanted to tell stories however I could, so I came to UNC Wilmington and studied filmmaking and screenwriting and learned how to tell stories that way.”

The skill Wills developed behind the camera landed him a job directing the morning news at WWAY TV-3, the NBC/CBS/CW affiliate in Wilmington, but it was his talent in front of the camera that landed him a weekly segment he calls “What Did We Miss?” in which he “tells you the stories that WWAY did not.” The three-minute segments cover outlandish news, and they are marked by Wills’ hilarious one-liners and asides. In one episode he covers a crew of car burglars in Los Angeles who are using scooters to flee the scenes of their crimes. In another episode, he covers the story of a man in an Easter bunny suit who breaks up a street fight without removing his mask.

It is no surprise that Wills is able to turn inane news items into comic gold. He has been perfecting his comedic timing and writing for several years, first on stage at Dead Crow Comedy Club in Wilmington, and later on stages across the Southeast. His big break came last year in Charlotte when he made it to the finals round of StandUp NBC, a nationwide search for stand-up comedians from diverse backgrounds. That success got him an invite to return to this year’s Nashville competition and an automatic leapfrog to the second round, where he will have two minutes to earn another spot in the finals.

For Wills, it all comes down to storytelling: “Comedy lets me tell stories in a way that puts people into my perspective, so maybe they can leave the show just a little more aware of how other people live.”

Recently, Wills and I sat down for lunch at the Dixie Grill in downtown Wilmington, and as we ate — a club sandwich for me and a chicken finger basket for him — we discussed his desire for audiences to see things from his perspective. I ask him what that means to him.

“In the summer of 2015, I went to Charleston, South Carolina, to work on an independent film,” he says. “I arrived in town a week after Walter Scott was shot in the back by a police officer while he was running from a traffic stop because he had a broken brake light. Filming wrapped and I left Charleston one week after Dylan Roof murdered nine people just because they were black.”

He pauses and looks out the window at the tourists on the sidewalk, some of them heading north on Market Street toward the city’s Confederate monuments.

“Those were dark bookends to my summer in Charleston,” he says. “Even before those tragedies I was on edge and paranoid, and I was thrown by Charleston’s adoration for the Confederacy. But I found some kind of relief in seeing the Confederate flag being flown because it showed me that I was not welcome everywhere. I did not have to rely on suspicion. It was proof.”

I ask him if it is hard to take these serious issues and make them funny in front of an audience.

“It can be hard,” he says. “The goal is to make people laugh and to make them feel good, but I want things to stick with people in a way that makes them say, ‘Oh, I’ve never thought of it like that.’ After Walter Scott was shot, I made jokes about being afraid of the police. Now, maybe someone in the audience doesn’t have my paranoia about the police, but if they hear my jokes it may make them understand a little about why I feel afraid.”

I comment that all comedy is based on tragedy, either your own or someone else’s.

“And laughing helps us understand it,” Wills adds. “It helps us look at someone else’s tragedy and really see it, but every audience is different.”

Later, this summer, Wills will be returning to Raleigh Supercon, a three-day festival for people who love comic books, science fiction, fantasy and video games. “It’s nice to be in front of a crowd that gets my jokes about the Power Rangers,” he says.

I imagine that it is also nice for him to get away on a weekend instead of pulling late nights in clubs after waking up at 3 a.m. to get to the news station to prepare for that morning’s show. I ask him how he does it, how he works the stage late into the night and works behind the camera early in the morning.

“I feed myself,” he says. “I stay alive. I pursue what I want to do.”

Spoken like a true nonconformist. 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.

In the Spirit

The Bare Necessities

Keeping it simple keeps it delicious

By Tony Cross

Last month I confessed to being behind on a number of books that I had barely started or hadn’t opened at all. One of those books is Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential. Yes, that’s right. It’s blasphemous to say that I adore the man, yet have not read his epic first book. Embarrassing, I know. Anyway, the book is amazing. One of the chapters, “How to Cook Like the Pros,” has Bourdain giving tips to those at home who want to cook well enough to amaze their next dinner party guests. Good stuff. He starts with tools: chef’s knife, other knives, plastic squeeze bottles, pots and pans, etc. He then moves on to ingredients: butter, stock, shallots and more. So, in this episode, I’m going to blatantly rip off Anthony. It’s OK, we share the same first name.

When it comes to making drinks, people always ask me questions like: “What’s your favorite drink to make? Do you really like egg whites in cocktails? What’s a good recipe?” (I get that one a lot.) Or: “How do you make your old-fashioneds?” and “Do you really like mezcal?” I usually respond to the last one with “no” and a grin on my face. One time, a married woman (claiming to be newly separated) actually messaged me on social media late on a Saturday night to find out what my favorite rye is. It’s Rittenhouse, but that’s not all she asked.

The point is, you only need a few tools, and a few ingredients to make a ton of delicious cocktails. And in no particular order, so let’s go.

Angostura Bitters

There are a ton of bitters on the market. They’re everywhere. And by all means, experiment and check them out. We’ve got Crude in Raleigh that makes great bitters, and lots of other companies in the U.S. that do a great job. But I’ve never lost it in my kitchen when I’ve run out of cardamom bitters. It’ll never happen. Angostura is the essential bitters that should always be stocked in your place. Plain and simple. Plus, it’s available everywhere, and it cures hiccups (doused on a lemon wedge). Just saying.

A Good Juicer

A durable, inexpensive, hand-held juicer is all you need when making drinks at home. I’ve talked to people who just “squeeze a little lime juice” into their shaker (I hope) when creating their own gimlets. Amazon has the Chef’n FreshForce model that is only $20, and durable as hell. Even if you’re hosting a 12-person cocktail party, this hand-held juicer is really convenient. Once you get the hang of it, you can juice 10 ounces in no time. Oh, and measure the stuff while you’re at it.


Use a jigger that has a few measurements on it. You know, 1/4 , 1/2, 3/4 of an ounce. I prefer the Japanese style, but whatever is easiest for you. Cocktail Kingdom has a lot of fancy plated ones; to each their own. I have the original stainless steel, and they’ve lasted me for years. If you’re not measuring, stop reading here.


If you’ve always got a half to a full cup of simple syrup in your fridge that hasn’t gone bad, good for you. You’re an alcoholic. Kidding. The rest of us probably have that “Oh, hell” moment when realizing that we’ve got everything for the drink ready except for said syrup. No worries, it only takes a minute to make, and that’s if you feel like making it. But syrup or no syrup, you should always have a small amount of demerara or cane sugar in the cabinet. It makes all the difference in the classics. Don’t believe me? Make a rich demerara syrup for your next daiquiri and tell me that the sugar doesn’t bring out the flavors in the top of the line rum you used. The color may not be Instagram-worthy, but who cares when you’ve made one of the best drinks in the world.


I can’t believe that almost every bar and restaurant in this town still has vermouth on the shelf. It’s rancid. Don’t be like most bars and restaurants in this town. Refrigerate, dammit. You’re only wasting your own hard-earned dollar and taste buds. Get a white and a red. You don’t need four of each, unless you’re using them before they spoil. Here, here! Dolin Dry for martinis and Carpano Antica for Manhattans. They’re also delicious over ice with a twist, too, ya know.


I see a lot of articles online that read something like this: “The 8 Gins You Should Have at Home!” Really? Eight? No thanks. How about two or three? Plymouth for martinis and Beefeater’s for gin and tonics. “Hey, Tony! I can’t imagine how many whiskies you have at home!” I can. Three or four? Maybe? I love rye, so I usually have Old Overholt, Rittenhouse and/or Wild Turkey Rye. Whatever bourbon I can get my hands on that’s halfway decent from our ABC. Oh, and a good bottle of Scotch. Yeah, that’s about it. Aaaaand for the rest:

Agave: If you are really just into margaritas, get a blanco; I particularly enjoy Herradura. If sipping is your thing, grab a nice anejo. A bottle of Del Maguey anything wouldn’t hurt either.

Rum: One white rum and one funky. For me, it’s Cana Brava and Smith & Cross. Actually, I’m lying. I have more. But I’m a rum-whore. Can’t help it. But the former is a good start.

Vodka: This is easily the most debated. Probably because most people who boast about what vodka they love are full of it. Tito’s, you say? Yeah, sure. I don’t care. For me, it’s always a vehicle to a destination. Just don’t let that ride be a Ford Pinto.

Brandy: Rémy Martin. Damn good cognac.   PS

Tony Cross is a bartender who runs cocktail catering company Reverie Cocktails in Southern Pines.

Golftown Journal

The Game of the People

Build it and they will come

By Lee Pace

Hugh MacRae stood before the Wilmington City Council in the early 1920s with a bold proposal to build a municipal golf course on land his family owned several miles east of the city. MacRae was going to retain the services of Donald Ross, the noted golf architect from Pinehurst, to design the course, but the idea was falling on deaf ears with the city fathers, who would pay for the construction of the course.

“Mr. MacRae, you’re talking pipe dreams,” the mayor told him. “Golf will never be available to the average man. It’s a rich man’s sport.”

MacRae, whose family traces its roots to the Isle of Skye in Scotland, was quick with a rebuttal.

“No, Mr. Mayor, it’s not,” MacRae answered. “I’ve seen golf in Scotland. Almost every course there is a city-owned course. Everyone in the town of St. Andrews plays golf.”

MacRae’s argument worked. The mayor and council conceded his point, approved the plan, and in 1926 Wilmington began construction on its new public layout.

Some 80 years later, MacRae’s grandson smiled considering the story he heard often many years ago.

“Today that golf course plays more than 70,000 rounds a year,” Hugh MacRae II said in 2007. “You can’t have a golf course with much more history than that — ties to St. Andrews and Donald Ross. My father and grandfather were very familiar with golf in Scotland. They foresaw golf becoming very important to the average man, not just the wealthy man.”

Ross’ early ties in American golf were with the affluent — his first job was in 1899 at Oakley Country Club in the Boston suburbs, and a year later he established a base at Pinehurst Country Club — but his Scottish roots allowed him to stay anchored in the idea that anyone could and should have access to quality golf.

“There is no good reason why the label ‘rich man’s game’ should be hung on golf,” Ross wrote at some point before 1914 in a manuscript that was later published in the book Golf Has Never Failed Me. “The development of municipal golf courses is the outstanding feature of the game in America today. It is the greatest step ever taken to make it the game of the people, as it should be. The municipal courses are all moneymakers and big moneymakers. I am naturally conservative, yet I am certain that in a few years we will see golf played much more generally than is even played now.”

Municipal and daily-fee golf courses are important cogs to the golf machinery in the Carolinas. According to the National Golf Foundation, the two Carolinas had 923 regulation courses at the end of 2018, and 659 of them were daily fee or municipal courses. That is just over 70 percent of courses being “public” versus those owned by a private club.

One of the oldest public courses in the Carolinas is Aiken Golf Club, which opened in 1912. The Highland Park Hotel opened in Aiken in the late 1860s, and the golf course was in its amenity package. The course was sold to the town in 1939 when the hotel company encountered financial ruin, and today is run by Jim McNair Jr., son of the noted amateur player James McNair, the winner of the Carolinas Amateur in 1946 and ’48.

The town of Southern Pines commissioned Ross to build a course on ground just south of Morganton Road and east of Broad Street that would be owned and operated by the town, and the original 18 opened in 1913, with nine more following a decade later. The town struggled to maintain the course during the Depression and World War II, and sold the course in the mid-1940s to a Connecticut businessman named Mike Sherman, who dispatched a young accountant and aspiring golfer named Julius Boros to town to keep the books and hone his golf game in his spare time.

Sherman sold the course in 1951 to the Benevolent & Protective Order of Elks, which remains the owner today. The greens were rebuilt by architect John LaFoy in 1998 to accommodate faster putting surfaces, and he added a tee on the 15th hole to lengthen it from a par-4 to a par-5. The course plays 6,354 yards to a par of 71.

“What struck me most about Southern Pines was that you had a really fine layout,” LaFoy says. “It’s just a really, really good layout. It’s outstanding. That’s what Donald Ross did so well — his routings. He used the topography very well.”

Charleston businessman Claudius Bissell Jenkins donated 112 acres to the city of Charleston in the late 1920s to be used for a public golf course. Jenkins and his sons were developing the Riverland Terrace suburb on James Island, just west of the Country Club of Charleston, and saw the civic and commercial appeal of having accessible golf nearby. The Charleston City Golf Course opened in 1929 and has been the site annually for the Charleston City Amateur.

“Its rates are such that young people from families of modest resources, working folk and retirees have access to the game of golf,” Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr. said in 2004. “The city’s commitment is that it will always be an affordable and accessible golf course, and I think it’s a very valuable asset.”

The course is set for a $3 million renovation that will begin in December 2019 and encompass fixing drainage problems, reshaping tees, fairways and greens, and removing some trees to promote healthy turf growth. The work will be done nine holes at a time, and the city will pay for it half with recreation bond funds and half with a private fundraising drive.

Ross visited the mountains on the opposite side of the Carolinas to survey the site for a new municipal course east of Asheville in the mid-1920s, and The Asheville Citizen noted the occasion with a large headline: “Municipally Owned Golf Courses Needed Here Says Donald Ross On Arrival.”

“It is the consensus of opinion of almost all that a municipal course will go a long way toward drawing winter and summer tourists,” the story said, then quoted Ross that a new course would “prove one of the chief assets in advertising for visitors.”

Asheville Municipal Golf Course opened a year later and was dedicated on May 21, 1927, and an exhibition four-ball featured trick-shot artist Joe Kirkwood and head pro Ray Cole against the pros at the other two Asheville clubs — Frank Clark of the Country Club of Asheville and George Ayton of Biltmore Forest. It was the state’s first publicly owned golf course.

“The course places Asheville in the ranks of other Southern cities which have provided a modern up-to-date course open to the general public,” The Citizen remarked. “The course is expected to add fully fifty percent to Asheville’s golf population, opening the game to hundreds who know of golf only through the newspaper accounts.”

“It cost one dollar to play golf back then,” says Billy Gardenheight, a caddie at all of the Asheville private clubs in mid-century and an avid golfer himself at the muni. “Guys would come from all over and stay in rooming houses and play golf.”

Today seniors with knee replacements and heart problems show up at 7:30 a.m., five days a week, and walk the front nine, routed in a valley with little topographic undulation. Others go a full 18 and venture onto the back nine, which winds its way up and back down the Beverly Hills subdivision.

“A lot of people come by even though they don’t play golf,” says Cortez Baxter, who has been a starter at the course since 1967. “They play cards, watch TV, tell lies. It’s just a big family. Sometimes you get older and don’t have anywhere regular to go.”

Meanwhile, back in Wilmington, golfers today are enjoying the results of a major renovation that is now five years old. Wilmington Municipal head pro and general manager David Donovan realized that Ross’ original greens had never actually been built, that to save money the town had merely built round circles of sand and clay that were eventually covered with Bermuda grass. He convinced the city to hire architect John Fought to build the green to Ross’ specifications, and that happened in 2014. The $1.4 million project includes new greens complexes, bunkers and putting surfaces on all 18 holes, 24 new/rebuilt tees, some tree removal to improve sunlight and air flow, and the removal/repositioning of cart paths in some areas.

Heralding the results of the project are new tee signs that read at the bottom: A Donald Ross Tradition.

“Now, that fits,” Donovan says. “What we have now I think is true to what Donald Ross envisioned at the beginning.

“I think this has put us on the map now. On Mondays, when the private clubs are closed, we’re getting players from Porter’s Neck, Landfall and Cape Fear. This meets their standards now. That’s a big deal.”  PS

Lee Pace has written about the Pinehurst area golf scene for more than 30 years. Write him at leepace7@gmail.com.