Golftown Journal

Off for Pinehurst

Our embarrassment of riches

By Lee Pace

This email landed in my inbox toward the end
of 2021:

“I’ve been following you via social media the past several months and wanted to seek your advice. I’m planning a golf trip to the Pinehurst area for the fall of 2022. What would you consider ‘must/essentials’ for this trip? I am thinking we will go to the Pinehurst Resort but also wanted your opinion and experience about other courses that might not be as popular but would provide an authentic golfing experience.”

It occurred to me in responding to this golfer from Knoxville that those of us who are local or frequent visitors take the Pinehurst experience for granted when so many have never actually ventured into Moore County. And those of us who are familiar with the wonders of the Sandhills travel scene have to stay on our toes with the constant evolution of the golf, amenity and accommodations market. As Pinehurst Resort President Tom Pashley says, “Someone who hasn’t been here in 10 years would be amazed at what they find.”

A favorite framing in my office is the quintessential drawing of the Pinehurst Golf Lad in New York’s Grand Central Station, circa the Roaring ’20s, his golf bag schlepped over this shoulder amid the nicely dressed swells with the words “Off for Pinehurst.”

Herewith, then, a nickel tour for anyone on their way to Pinehurst:

The Core (the heartbeat of Pinehurst and the Pinehurst Resort and Country Club, where courses No. 1-5 emanate) . . . soak in the history along Heritage Hall and revel in the photos and plaques of golf’s luminaries who have won here . . . pose for a photo beside the statue of Payne Stewart, captured in his exhilaration when his putt dropped to win the 1999 U.S. Open . . . walk the 6-odd miles of the premium courses, No. 2 and No. 4, feeling the taut, sandy loam beneath your feet, absorbing the cacophony of colors and edges of the holes, learning to play the bounce of the ball to an array of green complexes . . . stroll The Cradle short course with a couple of wedges and a putter, bobbing to the strains of Red Hot Chili Peppers popping through a discretely placed speaker in a tree . . . ply your putting skills on the Thistle Dhu putting course, which winds its way a hundred yards out and back over an array of humps and hollows . . . all the while slaking your thirst with a Transfusion from the Cradle Crossing beverage center.

The Village (laid out in 1895 by the landscape architecture firm of Frederick Law Olmsted to resemble a New England village; it’s void of 90-degree road intersections and dominated by white and forest green accouterments) . . . enjoy a hefty deli sandwich on the veranda at the Villager Deli in the heart of Old Town . . . pound a beverage with the locals from a rocking chair on the porch at the venerable Pine Crest Inn, once owned by golf architect Donald Ross . . . sip one of 70 brands of bourbon, rye and Scotch in the hippest bar in town, the North and South in the newly renovated Manor Inn . . . douse some smoked pork shoulder in blackberry habanero sauce at the Pinehurst Brewing Company . . . buy a cashmere sweater at The Gentlemen’s Corner or a rare painting of a Scottish golf scene at Old Sport and Gallery . . . sift through the memorabilia and display cases at the Tufts Archives in the Given Memorial Library and marvel at James Tufts’ original marble soda fountain machine, the source of the fortune from which all these golf riches flowed.

And don’t forget Broad Street, the Southern Pines version of Main Street U.S.A. . . .  there’s nothing quite like a well-run, independent bookstore, and The Country Bookshop is exhibit A . . . for a great burger and pro golf on the big TV, there’s the Bell Tree Tavern, and for dessert there’s The Ice Cream Parlor and its primo location at the corner of Broad and New Hampshire . . . the Sandhills area is chock-full of interesting craft brewing venues, one of the most popular in the Broad Street neighborhood is Southern Pines Brewing Company with its corner location on Pennsylvania and Bennett, spacious outdoor seating and over 30 draft selections.

The Ross Triumvirate (a collection of three pristine Donald Ross courses under the same ownership umbrella — Mid Pines from 1921, Southern Pines Golf Club from 1923 and Pine Needles from 1928) . . . all three have come under the painstaking attention to detail of architect Kyle Franz in the last decade and the essential challenge of each burnished, from the stark crossing features at Southern Pines to the up-and-over fairways at Pine Needles to the exquisite green settings at Mid Pines and its spot nestled in a bowl of surrounding hills . . . play the Pine Needles course, where later this year it will host its fourth U.S. Women’s Open (a fresh-faced Annika Sorenstam won in 1996), dodge the ponds at Mid Pines, where Julius Boros loved to fish during pro tour stops in Greensboro, and play the out-and-back routing at Southern Pines, where Ross made the best use of the land by not shoehorning a ninth-hole return to the clubhouse.

The Outskirts (with three dozen courses within a 30-mile radius of Pinehurst) . . . Three of my favorite courses in the Sandhills are private (Forest Creek North, Country Club of North Carolina Dogwood and Dormie), so if you know someone, beg, borrow and steal for an invitation. There are no such restrictions at Tobacco Road in Sanford, a half hour north of Pinehurst, just a dearth of tee times as the popularity of this eccentric and visually stimulating course has skyrocketed during the COVID-inspired golf boom. Architect Mike Strantz cobbled it from an abandoned sand pit and farmland, and the mammoth mounds, mottled grasses, railroad ties and fescue rough accent the routing.

It’s all quite the experience. I hope our man from Knoxville has fun.

“What a place, what a cluster of golf, what a home for golf,” marvels Mike Keiser, the developer of the noted golf destination Bandon Dunes and a fan of Pinehurst. “Most of these clusters are up north, and you can’t play in the winter. Pinehurst and Pebble Beach are places you can play year around.”

What do you know? It’s the Roaring ’20s again. PS

Lee Pace has written about golf in Pinehurst and the Sandhills for more than three decades. Write him at and follow him @LeePaceTweet.

Out of the Blue

Simply Surviving

Two years of getting by

By Deborah Salomon

March marks two years we have battled the pandemic, in several iterations. It has consumed news broadcasts and changed our lives, from how we purchase toilet paper (in laughable quantities) to how we celebrate holidays (in small groups, if at all) to how we recreate (forget movies, concerts, plays . . . hello, Scrabble and Hulu). Politicians are rated on COVID policies rather than stabilizing the economy. The absence of classroom learning may leave an indelible effect on children.

Hopefully, I’m not the only survivor whose weathered eye longs for better days and simpler things.

This began a few months ago, when I started watching season two of PBS Masterpiece Theater’s All Creatures Great and Small. I rejected the first season as borderline corny, certainly not therapeutic. The (true) story begins when a newly minted vet from Glasgow arrives in the beautiful and serene Yorkshire dales, just before World War II unleashes hell on Europe. He’s a plain lad with sincere blue eyes and a sweet smile. The haircut alone — short at the nape, Brylcreemed on top — establishes chronology. A romance ensues with a farming lass with a thick wavy mane, just enough meat on her bones, a forthright manner and the smile of an orthodontist’s daughter. Simple. Relatable. Refreshing.

Now, into season two, I watch each episode at least three times — a balm on eyes hardened by the blood and gore streaming, literally, from ambulatory corpses interspersed by real-life starving children, wildfires, floods, tornadoes, insurrections, shootings.

Simple thrives in the kitchen. Working from home, I crave homemade soup, mainly veggie beef made with chuck and a rainbow of vegetables. I call it sustenance soup, just as good for breakfast as lunch. Then, yellow split peas with grated carrot, potato and onion simmered with a smoked turkey leg. Dunk a hunk of stale artisan bread. Ahhh . . .

Thick. Flavorful. Simple. 

Take-out sushi, pizza, tacos, egg rolls, nuggets, burgers get old fast. Soup is forever.

Simplify communication? Ma Bell must be tossing in her tomb. Cellphones are a miracle rivaling the light bulb. People live or die by their cells, which started out simple flips, progressed to “smart,” lately mini-computers. I learned from priests of the faith that texting has overtaken email, voice mail and direct conversation. Which means people text recipients reachable otherwise, eliminating the human voice by choice.

Makes sense when the caller is a robot, because only a robot would not worry about 5G technology interfering, perhaps even endangering, commercial aircraft. God forbid a crash blamed on improved texting.

The same applies to the automobile — another landmark invention providing a comfortable, safe, relatively simple means of getting from Point A to Point B. Now, urban apartment-dwellers not involved with sports or transporting loads are driven to drive SUVs instead of simple sedans, hatchbacks or stations wagons because . . . ?

You tell me.

Some accoutrements, like cameras watching the dog sleep in the back seat, seem dangerously distracting. Figuring out which button to push for the ice dispenser (just kidding) is problematic, not to mention the button that turns on the oven (not kidding) when you’re 10 miles from home.

The battle to simplify can be exhausting for ordinary folk who don’t live from iPhone to iPhone. I’m happy with a car that simply delivers and an oven that bakes. Flip phones did the job. I will never be convinced that air-fried chicken threatens Colonel Sanders. Even if I won the lottery I would not buy a Whiskers Litter Robot WiFi Enabled Automatic Self-Cleaning Cat Litter Box, its official name, for $549. Because cats are smarter than humans; if my two boycotted an unfamiliar litter brand heaven knows how they would react to a box that talks back.

I am not a crotchety old lady resisting progress while glamorizing the good old days before residential air conditioning and no-iron sheets. I’m all for vaccinations, organ transplants, solar power, even SUVs for large soccer-playing families with Great Danes. But I’m not about to fry an egg on my cellphone or let a self-propelled whirling dervish vacuum my floors.

You couldn’t buy me a ticket on Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic.

Because in times of trouble, simple conveys stable, at least until the crisis passes.

So go ahead . . . scoop your hummus, goat cheese, root beer and bubble gum flavored ice cream. I’ve rediscovered vanilla.

And ain’t it ever good.  PS

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

The Omnivorous Reader

Balancing the Scales

Justice among disparate peoples in Colonial America

By Stephen E. Smith

Humorist Edgar Wilson “Bill” Nye is credited with saying: “Wagner’s music is better than it sounds.” Readers of popular history who tough their way through 464 pages of Nicole Eustace’s Covered with Night: A Story of Murder and Indigenous Justice in Early America will likely be left with the notion that what they’ve read is more profound than entertaining.

“Covered with Night” is an Iroquois expression describing the state of grief or mourning inspired, in this instance, by the 1722 murder of a Native American man who lived near Conestoga, Pennsylvania, a small community north of the Maryland-Pennsylvania border. Details of the fatal encounter are straightforward and commonplace: English merchants John and Edmund Cartlidge were bargaining with Sawantaeny, a Seneca hunter and fur trader, when an overindulgence in alcohol, probably by all parties concerned, led to a disagreement. Sawantaeny went for his rifle, but John Cartlidge disarmed him and bashed in the Seneca’s skull.

“My friends have killed me,” were Sawantaeny’s last words.

Such incidents, terrible though they may be, are not an uncommon aspect of human interaction, but in the early 1700s, a period in America’s past that is strangely deficient from the history we’ve been taught (we learn about the Lost Colony, Jamestown, Plymouth and mysteriously we jump to the Boston Harbor Tea Party), such a death had far-reaching ramifications for the Native American and Colonial communities. Covered with Night explores the causes and consequences of the Cartlidges’ ill-advised assault on Sawantaeny, while illuminating the fundamental flaws in the relationships that existed between the Native American and Colonial cultures.

Eustace’s complex treatise was made possible by the meticulously documented speeches of a Native man called “Captain Civility,” who reacted to the death of Sawantaeny by attempting to strengthen the tenuous bonds that existed between the competing cultures, and Eustace was able to draw on earlier studies by 20th century ethnographers and on postmodern analyses on social and criminal justice. If all of this sounds complicated, it is.

Investigations of Sawantaeny’s murder by Native American leaders and Colonial officials initiated a debate about the very nature of justice and its cultural context. Colonial authorities were fearful that the murder might bring on a full-scale war, endangering the white population and disrupting trade. The crisis was serious enough that news of it reached the British Board of Trade in England, resulting in a region-wide treaty conference that produced an obscure document signed at Albany in 1722 between members of the Five Nations of the Haudenosaunee and representatives from the colonies of New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. It remains the oldest recognized treaty in the history of the United States. Much more than a simple diplomatic instrument, the treaty records a foundational American debate over the nature of justice.

Avoiding conflict with their Indigenous neighbors was the foremost concern of the Colonial authorities, and they held the Cartlidge brothers in irons pending their execution — which is exactly what the Native Americans hoped to avoid. Pennsylvania Gov. William Keith was dismayed to learn that sending the Cartlidges to the gallows was counter to the Native American notion of justice. Native diplomats Satcheechoe and Taquatarensaly asked that the Cartlidges be released from prison and from the threat of execution. They preferred that Keith journey to meet with the leaders of the Five Nations to “cover the dead” by offering reparations and performing mourning rituals that addressed their grief — all of which ran counter to Colonial assumptions about what constitutes civilized retribution.

The Iroquois weren’t “savages,” as characterized by the Colonial authorities. They were possessed of a humanity that tied them to the land and their communities, and they saw the murder as an opportunity to establish stronger and more lasting bonds with their Colonial neighbors. They wanted their collective grief assuaged emotionally and accounted for economically.

“Colonists were so unprepared for Native offers of clemency, a total inversion of their expectations, that they made little deliberate note of the philosophy that informed Native policy,” Eustace writes. “Indigenous ideals entered the record made at Albany almost inadvertently, the by-product of colonial desires to document the land and trade agreements that would further Pennsylvania’s prosperity and security. Still, colonists dutifully wrote down the speeches that Captain Civility and other Native speakers made to them. And in the process, they preserved Indigenous ideas on crime and punishment, violation and reconciliation.” Negotiations were complicated by barriers of language and dialect. Various Native American tongues had to be translated from one Indigenous speaker to another until the words evolved into a concept that could be realized in standard English.

If Eustace’s explication of events is occasionally academic, it’s also thought-provoking, requiring patience and commitment on the part of the reader. Attempts to energize the narrative by using present tense, and a somewhat awkward fictional attribution of motivations to characters whose true emotions are unknowable, only serve to lengthen and diminish the story: “Seated at his table, William Keith warms the bottom of a stick of vermilion sealing wax,” she writes. “He feels the heat but will take care not to burn his fingers. In a quiet room, a dollop of wax makes a soft splotch as it hits paper, round and red as a drop of blood. Keith lets the wax cool a moment from liquid to paste, then presses smartly with his seal to emboss the wax with an intricate pattern of scrolls.”

Eustace also includes detailed descriptions — furniture, dwellings, the travails of daily living, concepts surrounding indentured servitude and slavery — that enhance the reader’s knowledge of an otherwise obscure period in our history. But her primary contribution is the reclamation of alternative concepts of crime, punishment and the mitigation of grief that are no longer components of contemporary life.  PS

Stephen E. Smith is a retired professor and the author of seven books of poetry and prose. He’s the recipient of the Poetry Northwest Young Poet’s Prize, the Zoe Kincaid Brockman Prize for poetry and four North Carolina Press Awards.

Tea Leaf Astrologer

(February 19 – March 20)

The only difference between a mythical creature and a Pisces is that a mythical creature believes in itself. Pisceans are magical by nature and naturally psychic. That’s because those born under this mutable water sign are masters of subtle emotion. This month, the cosmos is dealing you a planetary royal flush. In other words, you don’t have to keep swimming upstream. But will you?

Tea leaf “fortunes” for the rest of you:

Aries (March 21 – April 19)

Don’t forget to stretch.

Taurus (April 20 – May 20)

There’s a whole world outside of the box. Think about it.

Gemini (May 21 – June 20)

Less talking. More dancing.

Cancer (June 21 – July 22)

Slow down. Proceed with caution. Be prepared to pivot.

Leo (July 23 – August 22)

You’re back in the spotlight. Breathe easy.

Virgo (August 23 – September 22)

A little salt goes a long way.

Libra (September 23 – October 22)

Someone’s got color in their cheeks again.

Scorpio (October 23 – November 21)

Try zooming out.

Sagittarius (November 22 – December 21)

When one door closes, best not to set up camp on the front porch.

Capricorn (December 22 – January 19)

Three words: Don’t look back.

Aquarius (January 20 – February 18)

Timing is everything. Read that again.  PS

Zora Stellanova has been divining with tea leaves since Game of Thrones’ Starbucks cup mishap of 2019. While she’s not exactly a medium, she’s far from average. She lives in the N.C. foothills with her Sphynx cat, Lyla.

Simple Life

The Baker’s Assistant

How sweet it is

By Jim Dodson

Not long ago, my wife, Wendy, joined 47 million foot soldiers of the Great Resignation by retiring early from her job as the longtime director of human resources for Sandhills Community College.

She loved her job at the college. It was fun and fulfilling in almost every way.

But something more was missing — and revealed — when COVID invaded all our lives.

Simply put, it was time to follow her heart and do something she’d envisioned doing even before I met her 25 years ago: to start her own gourmet, custom-baking company called Dessert du Jour.

News late last year that an innovative shared community kitchen for food entrepreneurs (called The City Kitch, based in Charlotte) was opening branches in Greensboro and Raleigh propelled her into action. She signed up for the first private kitchen studio and got to work preparing for her debut at a popular outdoor weekend market just before Christmas, selling out everything she baked in a couple hours. It was a promising start.

I should pause here and explain that Wendy is no novice or newcomer to the luxury baking world. Even while masterfully holding down a demanding career over the past two decades, she made stunning custom wedding cakes, luscious pies, artistic cookies and other baked delicacies for friends and neighbors.

As I say, she was already wowing customers in Syracuse, New York, when we met during one of my book tours in 1998, and she agreed to go on a formal first date that turned out to be, as I fondly think of it, baptism by baby wedding cakes.

To briefly review, on a brisk autumn evening after a seven-hour drive between my house in Maine and her home in Syracuse, I arrived just in time to find Wendy cheerfully boxing up 75 miniature, exquisitely decorated wedding cakes for some demented daughter of a Syracuse corporate raider.

“Oh, good,” she beamed, flushing adorably with a dollop of icing on her button nose, as I appeared. “Want to help me box these up and take them around the neighborhood for me?”

How could I refuse? Her neighbors, it seemed, had offered space in their refrigerators and freezers until the cakes could be delivered to the wedding hall in the morning.

Truthfully, I don’t recall much about being pressed into service as an impromptu delivery man. I just have this vague memory of carefully boxing up dozens of the beautiful little cakes and bearing them all gussied up with elegant ribbons and bows to her lady pals around the cul-du-sac. “Oh,” one actually cooed as she looked me over. “You must be the new boyfriend from Maine. Careful you don’t put on 50 pounds. Wendy’s cakes are awesome.”

I gave her my best Joe Friday impersonation. “Never tasted ’em, ma’am. Just here to help out the baker lady.”

Happy to report, the baby wedding cakes made it safely to the wedding hall the next day without incident. The grateful baker lady even thoughtfully saved one of the gorgeous little cakes for the trip home to Maine.

I’m embarrassed to say I never sampled it. Cake wasn’t my thing, probably because I grew up with a mama who annually made me a birthday cake from a Betty Crocker box mix and store-bought frosting that tasted like chocolate-flavored sawdust with icing. I gave Wendy’s baby wedding cake to my children, who absolutely loved it.

Another issue emerged on my next visit to Syracuse, our critical second date. When I breezed into her kitchen with a bottle of her favorite wine before we went out to dinner, I found her putting the finishing touches on another masterpiece of the baker’s art.

Sitting nearby on her kitchen counter, however, was a beautiful wicker basket full of popcorn, my all-time favorite snack food. As she opened the wine, I grabbed a big handful of what I thought was popcorn.

Her lovely face fell. It turned out to be a groom’s cake that only looked like a wicker basket full of popcorn.

Profusely apologizing, as I licked the evidence of the crime off my greedy fingers, figuring this might be our last date, I had something of a dessert awakening.

“Hey, this is really good. I don’t even like cake. What’s in this?”

To my relief, she laughed. “Only the finest Swiss white-chocolate, sour-cream cake with salted buttercream. But no worries. I can make another one pretty quickly. Let’s just get Chinese takeout for dinner while I work.”

I’d never seen such composure under fire. Right then and there I decided to propose to this remarkable woman and even confessed my sad history with Betty Crocker, wondering if she would do the honor of becoming my wife and someday making me a birthday cake.

“Sure,” she said. “I’ll even make you a Betty Crocker box cake if you want it.”

Talk about a selfless act of love! This was like inviting a Wine Spectator judge to enjoy a lovely bottle of Boone’s Farm’s Strawberry Hill or LeRoy Neiman to do a doodle of a racehorse! She actually made me a box-mix cake, which I took one taste of and dumped in the garbage.

Fortunately, by the time our wedding rolled around two years later, Dame Wendy had schooled me up like a pastry chef’s apprentice, a culinary awakening sealed by my first taste of her incredible old-fashioned caramel cake — which she now makes me every year for my birthday (along with a sour cherry pie). 

Not surprisingly, the spectacular cake she made for our outdoor wedding beneath a gilded September moon disappeared without a trace before I could even get a taste. Our greedy guests left nary a morsel and even took home extra pieces stuffed in their pockets. 

Since that time, a long and steady stream of fabulous specialty cakes, cookies, pies, scones, muffins and the best cinnamon rolls ever made have flowed from her ovens to the tables of friends, family and customers from Maine to Carolina.

Which is why the creation of Dessert du Jour is such a milestone for the love of my life. She’s never been happier, launching her little dream company at a time we’d all like to see in the rearview mirror as soon as possible. In the meantime, she shares her happiness with others, one gorgeous theme cookie or slice of roasted pecan-studded carrot cake at a time.

And for the moment at least, I have the honor and pleasure of still being her sole employee, the one who puts up the tent and tables at the street market and delivers the goods wherever I’m sent around town, a baker’s assistant happily paid in cake tops and leftover cinnamon rolls.

I ask you, does life get any sweeter than that?  PS

For more information, visit and

Jim Dodson can be reached at

Sporting Life

Lure of the Wilderness

Return to the Okefenokee

By Tom Bryant

I’ve been fortunate in my canoeing life on the water to travel to some fascinating places. At the top of the list is the Okefenokee Swamp, which borders the state lines of Georgia and Florida.

For the last several years, since retiring from my day job, Linda, my bride, and I have camped in Florida during the worst of the winter months. We like the western part of the state, mainly because it’s not quite as busy with tourists. But nothing stays the same. It seems the snowbirds from up north, escaping frosty winter weather, have found our last fishing location; and on this trip we decided to try another spot, Cedar Key, just a little north of Tampa. Folks I have talked with, and fellow campers, told me that that area has remained mostly unchanged in the past several years.

Also on this trip I determined to reacquaint myself with the wilderness stretch along the border of Georgia known as the Okefenokee. In the early ’80s, I made several excursions to the swamp, the longest being a seven-day circuitous paddle from the north landing down to the south and back again to where we started.

There are three put-in locations in the Okefenokee with the eastern entrance at Folkston being the most popular. I’ve put in at all three and like the southern entrance best, although it makes little difference. Once you’re in the swamp, everything begins to look the same.

Linda and I don’t plan to paddle the swamp on this trip. I just want to get the lay of the land for a winter adventure next year. Okefenokee, named by the Seminoles, means in their native language, “Land of Trembling Earth.” The swamp covers approximately 700 square miles. So, if you should decide to explore the area in a canoe or kayak, be prepared to live in the boat. There are 120 miles of canoe trails and very little dry land, so you’re confined to the canoe all day.

Overnight stops are placed at intervals to accommodate an easy day’s paddle — that is, if you don’t get lost. And that’s one thing you don’t want to do. The trails are marked and easy to follow as long as you stay on them. Venture off the trails and there could be trouble. The swamp looks mostly the same in every direction.

Officials at the put-ins require a party to sign in at every overnight stop; and with a controlled number of overnight wilderness permits issued, they can keep up with paddlers as they travel the trails.

The area has been protected since 1937 by the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, and in 1974, a portion was designated a National Wilderness Area.

The headwaters of two rivers, the Suwannee and the St. Mary’s, flow out of the swamp. The Suwannee slowly drifts south through Florida, and the St. Mary’s flows east, delineating the border of Georgia and Florida. I’ve always wanted to paddle the crystal clear waters of the Suwannee, as it is supposedly the natural habitat of manatees. I’ll put it on the list, and maybe next year we can give it a go.

Fall and early spring are the busiest times to visit the swamp, with winter and summer being the slowest. To me, winter is the best time to take the trip. Migratory birds have arrived, and all species of waterfowl can be observed.

Remember, even though Okefenokee is considered semi-tropical, it does get cold in winter. On one trip I made in February, the low temperature set records, getting down to 18 degrees one night.

Any adventure to the swamp might put you in harm’s way as far as bugs, flying and biting, are concerned, so be prepared. Deer flies down there have been known to bite through clothing. Also, it helps to be in shape to live in the boat.

Water depth in the swamp is usually shallow, running from 2 feet to perhaps 9 feet in the canals. Once you’re deep into the watery prairies and away from the put-in areas, you seem to be transported to the days when the Seminoles were the only visitors.

The camping sites are raised platforms built about 2 feet off the water. They’re a welcome sight after a day’s paddle. The platforms have a roof over about three-fourths of the area that helps during the occasional rain shower but doesn’t alleviate the problem of flying, biting insects. I always carry a self-supporting tent with mosquito netting. This not only deters the bugs but keeps the ever present, night prowling raccoons at bay. Another point: Store all food in a cache; hungry animals are about. Oh, and most important, a porta-john is located on a corner of the platform. All the conveniences of home, just about.

Stay on the platforms after dark. Nighttime is not the time to be on the water. That’s when alligators look for food. And there are some big alligators in the swamp. Ten to 12 feet. You can understand the request from the rangers: When the sun goes down, stay in town.

I haven’t been back to the swamp in years, but on this trip south, Linda and I are gonna check out the happenings in that area and put it high on our agenda for next year; that is, if it’s still as I remember it.

If you’re gonna go, I would advise making reservations early. Call the Okefenokee Wildlife Refuge at Folkston, Ga. Good luck, and I hope to see you in the swamp.  PS

Tom Bryant, a Southern Pines resident, is a lifelong outdoorsman and PineStraw’s Sporting Life columnist.

Johnny Allen and the Aberdeen Nine

Johnny Allen and the Aberdeen Nine

When an all-time great wore an “A” on his chest

By Bill Case   

In 1956, at age 7, I fell madly in love with baseball. That summer, and several ensuing ones, I spent an untold number of daylight hours playing both organized and pick-up baseball, as well as the game’s myriad offshoots — pepper, home-run derby, monkey in the middle, etc. After hurrying through dinner, I would often spend another hour hurling a ball at a target painted on the basement wall and fielding the rebound. With an accompanying radio broadcast of a Cleveland Indians (aka the Guardians) game providing grist for my overactive imagination, I would visualize myself playing second base for Cleveland while backhanding countless caroms off the wall.

None of the Indians’ players resided in my hometown of Hudson, Ohio, 26 miles from Cleveland, but the team’s longtime trainer, Wally Bock, did. My parents, Bea and Weldon Case, knew Wally and his wife, and asked them over for dinner. I could not have been more excited if Cleveland’s Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Feller had been invited.

When the Bocks arrived at our home, Wally tossed me a ball (which I still have) autographed by all the ’56 Tribe players. But, too soon, Mom and Dad ordered me upstairs to my room. While lying restlessly in bed, I hatched what in retrospect was a ridiculous plan: Wouldn’t it be cool to finagle a rubdown from Wally like the ones he once administered to Feller and the other Indians I idolized? So, I yelled downstairs, “Mom, my back really hurts!”

My crying wolf fooled no one; nonetheless, the scheme worked. With my folks looking on and shaking their heads at my transparent ploy, Wally provided a brief backrub. All fixed. So, much like Bill Murray’s character Carl Spackler who was promised “total consciousness” by the Dalai Lama in Caddyshack, I got that going for me.

My baseball passion extended to the game’s vast array of statistics. Without attempting to, I committed to memory countless batting averages and home run totals. One mark that always stuck with me was pitcher Johnny Allen’s 1937 win-loss record of 15-1. His resulting winning percentage of .938 was, at the time, a major league record.

The mark was ultimately bettered by Elroy Face’s 18-1 for the National League’s Pittsburgh Pirates in 1959, but to this day, Allen holds the American League record. No pitcher in the 146 years of major league history has posted an undefeated season with at least 15 decisions — the minimum number required to qualify for the winning percentage title. More astonishing is the fact that Johnny was undefeated until the meaningless final game of his ’37 campaign. Risking the unblemished record, he took the mound against the Tigers with just two days of rest. Allen lost 1-0, the lone run scoring in the aftermath of an error by Indians’ third baseman Odell Hale. According to an online post by the Society for Baseball Research, an infuriated Allen “went ballistic after the game” and twice had to be restrained from assaulting his third baseman.

Such behavior was not out of the norm for the hyper-competitive hurler. His 13-year major league career (1932-1944) with the Yankees, Indians, St. Louis Browns, Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants was replete with similar incidents. He was known to throw furniture in the clubhouse, but his piques of wrath weren’t confined to the ballpark. After a tough loss to the Red Sox, an enraged Allen returned to the team’s hotel, upended stools in the bar, kicked over an ashtray of sand, and sprayed a corridor with a fire extinguisher. In 1943, it took several teammates to restrain Allen after he rushed an umpire “like a wild man” after the ump called a balk on him. When another unfortunate third baseman cost Allen a game by dropping a pop fly, the pitcher decked him in the clubhouse, then announced to his startled Yankee teammates, “If anybody else drops an easy fly on me, that’s what’s going to happen to you.”

In a notorious 1938 controversy, umpire Bill McGowan ordered Allen to remove the sweatshirt he wore underneath his jersey after the pitcher had cut strips out of the sleeves to “improve ventilation.” Distracted by the fluttering fabric, opposing hitters complained. Allen refused to change his shirt and huffily stalked into the clubhouse, defying Indians’ manager Oscar Vitt’s directive to return to the mound. Allen was fined but recouped his money by selling the sweatshirt to a downtown Cleveland department store, which proudly displayed it in its storefront window. Today, the garment is an exhibit at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.

While his competitive fire could land Allen in hot water, it no doubt contributed to his pitching greatness. His near undefeated season in ’37 merited his selection by The Sporting News as that year’s Major League Player of the Year. His career winning percentage of .654 (142-75), ranks 22nd best all-time. Hall of Fame catcher Bill Dickey described Allen’s sidearm fastball as “the meanest delivery in the league for a righthanded hitter. He’ll buzz it over the bat handle before you can see it.”

A second Hall of Famer, Al Simmons, picked Allen as the toughest pitcher to hit against in that slugger’s 20-year career. Allen’s record might have been even more impressive had he not been plagued by a sore arm his last six years in the majors.

My fascination with stats like Allen’s 15-1, and for baseball itself, cooled substantially at age 13 after I failed to crack the starting lineup and quit the local little league team, the Hudson Hornets. I stopped buying baseball cards and no longer paid rapt attention to the exploits of legends like Feller and Ted Williams, let alone those of less remembered stars like Johnny Allen. 

But two years ago, Allen came to mind again when I came across a short 1935 piece in The Pilot, reporting that Allen “who used to clerk in the Aberdeen Hotel, is going great guns for the New York Yankees” and that, during this employment, circa 1926-27, Allen pitched for the local Aberdeen team that competed in the Moore County Baseball League.

A search of the archives of The Pilot and the defunct Moore County News failed to unearth further references to Allen’s days here, but Wint Capel’s biography of Allen, Fiery Fast-Baller, published in 2001, provided some additional details about the pitcher’s pre-major league wanderings.

Born in Lenoir, North Carolina, in 1905, Allen, like his Yankee teammate Babe Ruth, spent the bulk of his youth in an orphanage, playing both infield and outfield positions for the Thomasville Baptist Orphanage baseball team. Capel writes that there “was no hint that he would become a sensational big league pitcher.”

While at the institution, Johnny suffered a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He was resting the muzzle of a 12-gauge shotgun on the toes of his shoe when the gun accidentally discharged, causing the loss of two toes on the teenager’s right foot. (Another great North Carolina pitcher, Jim “Catfish” Hunter, also suffered a shotgun injury to his right foot when he was a teenager, losing one toe.) Though he chafed at the orphanage’s strict regimen — making frequent attempts to run away — Allen did learn the basics of the bookkeeping trade there. It was expertise enough to secure a night clerk position at Greensboro’s O.Henry Hotel following his 1922 release from the orphanage.

According to Capel, Allen drifted from one hotel clerking job to another, “for a change of scenery as much as anything,” serving brief stints at the Monticello Hotel in Charlottesville, Virginia, the Sheraton in High Point, North Carolina, and the Wildrick Hotel in Sanford, North Carolina. While working at the latter establishment, he got back into baseball, playing on a local church league team.

In or around 1926, Allen pulled up stakes again, moving to the Sandhills for a clerking position at the Aberdeen Hotel, and soon joined the town’s semi-pro baseball team. 

The 23-year-old Allen left Aberdeen in 1928 to play “organized baseball” with the Greensboro Patriots of the Class B Piedmont League. During that season, he also pitched for teams in Fayetteville, Greenville and Raleigh. In 1929, he signed with the Asheville Tourists, where Johnny Nee, a scout for the New York Yankees, saw him and, impressed with his blazing fastball, signed the 24-year-old to a contract.

After two years of seasoning with Yankee minor league affiliates Allen joined the mighty Bronx Bombers in 1932. The manager was the great Joe McCarthy. His teammates included Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth and Bill Dickey. In that rookie campaign, he logged a sparkling 17-4 record and pitched in the World Series where the Yanks defeated the Chicago Cubs in four games.

After three more seasons in New York and five in Cleveland, Allen was dealt to the St. Louis Browns, something that was dutifully noted in a 1940 issue of the Pinehurst Outlook. Jerry V. Healy’s story included a recounting of Allen’s initial appearance 14 years earlier for Aberdeen. Pitching against “the strong Mt. Gilead nine on the latter’s local grounds,” a disastrous outing “almost ruined Allen’s career.” As Healy put it, “the farmer boys up in that section loved nothing better than to hit a fast ball a country mile, and Johnny had a fast ball. The coming star (Allen) was retired in short order.”

After his catastrophic debut, Healy noted that Allen, “quiet and peaceful in those days,” eventually starred for Aberdeen. “Wild as a hawk, he won many games by the mere effort of scaring opposing batters away from the plate,” Healy wrote. Allen’s lone shortcoming was “his slow and stumbling baserunning,” no doubt caused by the injury to his foot. Allen made up for this deficiency by smashing home runs and extra-base hits.

The article also mentioned Allen’s link to Jack Meador, “the present manager of the Aberdeen Hotel,” which had previosly employed Johnny. Moreover, in 1928 the hotelman had moonlighted as the Fayetteville Highlanders’ secretary-treasurer during Allen’s brief time on that team. Several months after Healy’s article was published, a massive fire consumed the Aberdeen Hotel. A new hotel was constructed on the same site and renamed the Sandhills Hotel, with Jack Meador remaining in charge. The new structure burned down in February 1942, and Meador lost his life attempting to rescue guests from the blaze.

The Aberdeen team photo accompanying Healy’s article identified Allen and all his pinstriped teammates. According to longtime Aberdeen Mayor Robbie Farrell and his sister Betsy Farrell Ingraham, virtually all the Aberdeen players shown in the picture became men of prominence in the community. Gordon Keith owned the town’s dry-cleaning business and also won the 1939 golf championship of the Southern Pines Country Club. Gordon’s brother, Kenny Keith, was the town’s go-to carpenter. Billy Huntley owned substantial real estate in the area, including the local drive-in theater. Max Folley’s family ran the lumberyard. Bill Maurer was active in the tobacco markets and became co-owner of the Aberdeen Warehouse. Hughes Bradshaw operated a gas station. John Duncan McLean owned the local hardware store and served as Aberdeen’s mayor.

Kneeling L-R: Bill Huntley, Max Folley, Gordon Keith, Purvis Ferree, John D. McLean Standing L-R: Johnny Allen, Bill Maurer, Hughes Bradshaw, George Martin, Arnold Ferree, Kenneth Keith

Arnold “Bony” Ferree served as a health inspector, while his brother, Purvis Ferree, achieved fame in Winston-Salem as the longtime golf pro at Old Town Club. Purvis became the first person inducted into the North Carolina Golf Hall of Fame. His son, Jim Ferree, would continue the family’s golf legacy by winning a pro tour event (the 1958 Vancouver Open) and was the beknickered, silhouetted model for the PGA Champions Tour logo. Finally, George Martin owned Martin Motors, the town’s Buick dealership, on South Street, now a church. Martin installed a bank of showers inside the dealership so that his teammates would have a place to wash up after games.

Gordon Keith’s son, David Keith, now lives in Cameron. His irrigation contracting business is in the old family house on Keith Street in Aberdeen. Born after his father reached 50, David is only in his 60s. He remembers his father saying that Allen was a “ringer” — paid money, presumably raised by the passing of a hat at games, to pitch for Aberdeen — and that his father often served as Allen’s catcher. The games were on Wednesday afternoons, the day many area businesses closed at noon, and attracted sizable crowds. (The Aberdeen Supply Company closes on Wednesday afternoons to this day.)

David Keith still has an ancient, scuffed baseball with links to the old Aberdeen nine. It was given to him years ago by his best friend, Sam Buchan, a grandson of the aforementioned George Martin. Buchan got the ball from Martin’s teammate John Duncan McLean. Mayor McLean kept the ball, belted for a home run in a Moore County League championship game, as a piece of local memorabilia. Just a few years ago, the ball was among the possessions stolen from Keith’s house in a robbery. Fortunately, the perpetrator was caught and the treasured ball returned.

While The Pilot did little to cover the activities of the Moore County Baseball League, the 1932 season was a notable exception. That year, the Aberdeen team found itself in the thick of the race for the league title. Several of Allen’s old teammates from the ’20s were still mainstays on the squad, including Martin, Max Folley, Purvis Ferree, Bill Maurer and Billy Huntley. To reach a playoff series against Vass-Lakeview for the league championship, Aberdeen needed to beat Southern Pines in the last game of the regular season. The deciding contest was played the last day of August on Aberdeen’s home field, now the site of Cactus Creek Coffee.

The county was abuzz, the game looming larger than even the upcoming World Series in which Johnny Allen would appear. When game day arrived, the ballfield was packed. “Two thousand or more people from every corner of the county gathered around the Aberdeen diamond for Wednesday’s big game,” reported The Pilot. “It was the climax of a thrilling baseball season. Aberdeen and Southern Pines were deserted. Everybody was at the ballpark.”

As Aberdeen’s player-manager, George Martin sent himself to the mound for the pivotal game. Inspired by the massive crowd, he pitched brilliantly, shutting out Southern Pines, 6-0. But it wasn’t Martin’s fastball that had turned the trick; it was his out-of-the-past, good luck garb. “George had put on his 1921 uniform. Of course! That explained all,” wrote The Pilot reporter. “You remember George Martin back in 1921. Burning ’em in. Foe to every opposing batsman. Striking ’em out with his change of pace. George in his 1921 clothes! What chance had Southern Pines?”

Aberdeen went on to defeat Vass-Lakeview three straight in a best-of-five series, breezing to the league championship. Playing a nifty first base, Martin contributed multiple hits in each game, including a tide-turning homer in game two — likely the ball now in the hands of David Keith. The Pilot attributed much credit for the series victory to Martin. “He not only guided his men well, but proved an example in the field and at bat, playing errorless ball and hitting with the best of them.”

Five years later, Martin died suddenly while working at his desk. He was just 36. The Pilot described him as one of “Aberdeen’s most beloved citizens,” and that he would always be remembered for his baseball accomplishments — especially the memorable ’32 game he pitched and won in a 1921 uniform.

“You should talk to Kam Hurst, George Martin’s granddaughter,” David Keith said. “I think she has his uniform.”

Hurst’s grandparents had lived on Pine Street in Aberdeen in a home Martin built in 1923. After he died in 1937, his widow continued to reside in the house for many decades. After Hurst’s grandmother’s death, the house remained in the Martin family. While making repairs in 2009, Kam and her husband, Ricky, spotted her grandfather’s long forgotten baseball gear in the attic, undisturbed since his death 72 years earlier.

Inside a timeworn black duffle were Martin’s cleats, still sharp enough to dig into a basepath, his glove — little more than a primitive leather slab — and a cap bearing the red letter “A.” Separately, there was George’s wool uniform, still wearable. The pinstripes, however, didn’t have the “A” insignia affixed to the players’ jerseys in the ’26-’27 team photo. This had to be George Martin’s 1921 uniform.

While Martin’s heroics highlighted the rousing finish of the Moore County League’s 1932 season, the eight team league didn’t last much longer. It would disband in 1934. The four-team Sandhills Baseball League tried to fill the vacuum, but with the Great Depression raging, it was difficult to cajole financially struggling spectators to drop money into a passing hat. A Memorial Day All-Star game that attracted a crowd of 500-600 resulted in paltry receipts of $14. Semi-pro baseball in North Carolina was beginning a gradual fade-out.

Also on the wane was Johnny Allen’s playing career. His final major league season in 1944 was the only one in which he recorded a losing record. He stayed in the game, however, becoming a minor league umpire. Once the bane of the “men in blue,” Allen became the chief ump of the Carolina League. He gave up the job in 1952, thereafter buying and selling real estate in St. Petersburg, Florida.

When not on the mound, Johnny Allen was personable, a good husband and father, and a generous contributor to charities, including the orphanage of his youth. While he could be nasty to those who cost him victories, in the fullness of time he claimed he mostly got sore at himself “because I think of a million and one things I could have done in the situation and didn’t do.” There may have been a third baseman, or two, who would be less generous.

Allen died in 1959 at the age of 54. Enshrined in the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame in 1977, he was later named one of the best 100 players in the history of the Cleveland Indians. A ranking of the best baseball players born in North Carolina places him fifth. The four in front of him are in the Hall of Fame.

John Allen III, who lives in St. Petersburg, Florida, believes his grandfather should be recognized among baseball’s all-time greats, but is not, “because he didn’t kowtow to the press. In fact, he went out of his way to tell them how little respect he had for them. Boy, do we need more of those type of men today.”

While Johnny Allen’s relative standing in the ranking of baseball greats may be subject to debate, it is undisputed that he is the greatest ballplayer ever on a Moore County team. His exploits here — and those of George Martin on long ago Wednesday afternoons — become less ephemeral after laying eyes on relics like Martin’s glove, uniform, spikes, and the ball he smashed for a home run.

As James Earl Jones’ character Terence Mann reflected in Field of Dreams, baseball appeals to our longings for the past. “The one constant through all the years has been baseball . . . It reminds us of all that once was good and it could be again.”

It reminds us of a target on a basement wall.  PS

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

The Bard of Pinebluff

The Bard of Pinebluff

Manly Wade Wellman,
our forgotten man of letters

By Stephen E. Smith

On a September afternoon 53 years ago, I was one of eight creative writing students who had gathered for the first time in room 301 of the Carlton Building on the campus of little Elon College. We were awaiting the arrival of our instructor, an adjunct professor unknown to me. A fellow student who was repeating the course offered a concise appraisal: “This guy has published a truckload of books.” And at that moment an imposing figure appeared in the doorway.

Manly Wade Wellman was 6 feet tall, barrel-chested and wide-shouldered. He appeared to be in his mid-60s, with graying hair combed neatly back from his broad forehead. His face was round, open, accentuated with heavy eyebrows and a prominent nose below which was cultivated a tweedy Clark Gable mustache. I noticed immediately the peculiar way in which his eyes reflected light. The very tops of his irises flickered, suggesting an authentic inner illumination. He was dressed neatly in a frayed sports jacket that matched his mustache. A glasses case was stuffed in the pocket of his shirt, the collar of which was pulled tight by a bolo tie clasped with a silver and turquoise medallion.

“I’m Manly Wade Wellman!” he announced, surveying the anxious faces staring up at him. Then he launched into a story that went something like this: When Manly’s father was a boy of 8, he was taken by his father to attend a lecture by Mark Twain. Father and son found seats in the front row of the auditorium, and when the lights came up, the illustrious raconteur stepped to the edge of the stage and removed a folded paper from the inside pocket of his white linen jacket.

“I would like to read a poem,” Twain announced. The audience, who had not gathered to hear America’s foremost humorist read a poem, was silent for a moment, then burst into laughter. Annoyed, Twain held up his hand. “No,” he said, “this is a serious poem.” Again, the audience laughed. Twain frowned, crumpled up the paper, and tossed it onto the stage, where it remained until he had concluded his lecture. According to Manly, his father spent the evening staring at the wadded-up poem, and at the conclusion of the lecture, he was taken by the hand and led from the hall, thus consigning to the dustbin what may have been a priceless scrap of American literature.

More than half a century later my initial impression of Manly and the story he told during that first class session remains with me, long after the yarns of other teachers, friends and fellow writers, accomplished storytellers all, have faded from memory. Manly no doubt intended the story to serve as an analogous revelation, but what I recall most vividly are the sensuously effective images: that long-ago evening when the romantic possibility of a white-haired Twain still existed in America, the irreverent audience, that small boy longing to rescue the Great Lost American Poem, all of it spun forth in Manly’s raspy baritone, rising and falling with modulations of passion, poignancy, and a lingering trace of regret. He grumbled his way through the description, exposition and complications, all elaborately embroidered, and when he arrived at the story’s obvious climax, his voice rose suddenly to a crescendo.

“What would I give to know what was written on that scrap of paper?” he roared. “If only my father had reached out to grab it!” — and Manly’s left hand, which I noticed was stunted, the ring finger and pinky withered, suddenly darted out to grab the metaphysical poem. And there it was: almost everything I’d need to know about structuring a narrative.

This was, of course, a well-worn tale, polished and perfected with many tellings — for Manly Wellman, was, first and foremost, a teller of tales, a believer in recreating the moment in words and images. He was also a genuine artist, and the effect was calculated. It was his purpose to communicate in a sequence of rich, concise images so vivid as to be indelible on the impressionable mind. And, in my case, he was successful. I recall at least two later occasions when Manly offered the same story in which he changed minor details to better suit the occasion. Each telling offered fresh particulars and new insights that served to enliven the narrative. Like all accomplished writers, Manly was always in the process of rehearsing and revising, and I took note of the most important lesson a writer can learn — revise, revise, revise.

When class was dismissed, I beelined it to the library and looked up Manly Wade Wellman in Books in Print. My fellow student had been correct — Manly’s books occupied a couple of pages of the reference work. From there I wandered into the stacks and ran my index finger along the spines of 10 or 15 glossy covers with “Wellman” printed in big letters. I selected Not at These Hands, a mainstream, slick-covered novel published by Putnam, a big-deal New York house, and checked it out. I read the bio information on the dust jackets of several other books, mostly science fiction and fantasy, and learned that Manly had been born in Portuguese West Africa in 1903, and that he had ancestry that reached back through the Civil War to Colonial Virginia. He’d lived in Utah, New York and three or four other states, but he’d never stayed in one place for long until he settled in North Carolina after World War II. One of the bios identified Pinebluff, N.C. — wherever that was — as his family home.

His books included biographies — he’d written Giant in Gray, the definitive work on Confederate General Wade Hampton — and there were regional histories, juveniles, mystery novels, science fiction and fantasy. He’d published hundreds of stories in pulps in the ’30s, including more than 50 stories in the legendary Weird Tales, and he’d bested Faulkner in the 1946 Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine Prize. When it came to writing, he was indeed a jack-of-all-trades. I was duly impressed. Who could ask for a more experienced teacher? Or as it turned out, a better one?

Manly Wellman was fiercely proud of his stature as a writer. “Outlaws,” he called us, generously including his students in the designation, and he had the rare ability, from the moment he stepped into the room, to instill in each student the strong belief in self that made him a successful writer and a charismatic presence.

Each Tuesday morning that semester, I’d drop a story in the campus mail, and Manly would critique and correct it and hand it back after reading it aloud to the class. I was no doubt an annoyingly eager student, and on a couple of occasions I submitted two stories in one week. “You’re like the tiger who’s tasted blood,” Manly laughed — and in fact, I was spending entirely too much study time writing fiction. Not all my stories were keepers, but one was good enough to win a state-wide short story contest that earned me $100 and a magazine publication. When I met with Manly after winning the magazine prize, he asked what my major was. I told him it was sociology. “Change your major to English!” he barked. “There’s no such thing as sociology!”

The class met in a tall-windowed seminar room tucked away in a forsaken corner of the campus. No other classes met on that hall, and we felt we were truly in hiding. We loved being Manly’s “outlaws,” and he lavished attention on each student, managing to be critical while encouraging the better writer within. Every story he returned included a personal note banged out on an old portable, ribbon-weary Royal Quiet Deluxe he toted with him everywhere.

Today, leafing through the yellowing pages of the crude stories I wrote that semester, I find Manly’s corrections, suggestions, rebukes and flattery everywhere scribbled in the margins and between the lines. One of his notes reads in part: “In its organization and the early stages of its writing, it (my story) strikes me as having a good degree of merit, with a particularly intriguing point-counterpoint of almost slapstick humor and gray sadness . . .”

While I was profiting from Manly literary expertise, I knew nothing of his sojourn in Moore County. It would be another nine years before I’d discover the charms of the Sandhills and move from the coast to Southern Pines. And 70 years after the Wellmans — Manly, Frances and son Wade — relocated from Pinebluff to Chapel Hill, longtime resident John Mills, who was a child when the Wellmans called Moore County home, is one of the few locals who remember the family well.

“Manly moved to Pinebluff shortly after the war in 1946 or ’47, and he grew to know and love Moore County during the four years in which he lived here,” Mills recalls. “Manly’s father was a doctor — we had a lot of doctors who used to spend their winters here — and Manly’s father built a log bungalow with a big fireplace that covered one wall. When Manly’s father moved to Raleigh, Manly and his family moved into his father’s bungalow. During his time in Pinebluff, whose population in those days was about 300, Manly served as town clerk and was a member of the Lions Club and the Boy Scout troop committee. During this period, he published The Sleuth Patrol (1947), Mystery of Lost Valley (1948), Raiders of Beaver Lake (1949), and Haunts of Drowning Creek (1951), which was dedicated to my father. Manly moved to Chapel Hill in June 1951 to be near the university library and so that his son Wade could get a better education.”

Manly completed The Wild Dogs of Drowning Creek (1952) while living in Chapel Hill, where he also wrote The County of Moore, 1847-1947 (1961) and The Story of Moore County (1974).

Mills has in his possession notes Manly made concerning an incident that took place in the northeastern corner of Moore County at a location known as Big Poplar. Reported in the October 1871 issue of Harper’s Monthly, the altercation involved members of the “White Brotherhood” who attempted to lynch Republican John Campbell. Federal agents got wind of the plot and arrested the perpetrators, marching them to Raleigh to stand trial. It is unclear whether Manly was researching Moore County history or if he intended to expand the Harper’s Weekly article into a book, but he noted that the story was accompanied by a woodcut “showing John Campbell kneeling with rope around his neck and surrounded by masked, hooded and robed figures.”

While living in Pinebluff, Manly became friends with children’s author Glen Rounds, who lived a few blocks away. The two professional writers maintained a congenial if competitive friendship. “There was a knock at my door,” Rounds once told me, “and when I opened it there was this guy who says, ‘I’m Manly Wade Wellman.’ And I said, ‘So what?’” 

Tit for tat, Manly would later tell me: “If Glen weren’t so busy trying to be a damn cowboy, he’d be an all-right guy.” Nevertheless, Manly requested that Glen speak on his behalf when he was honored at the North Carolina Writers Conference in 1982, and Glen was a frequent visitor at the Wellmans’ home in Dogwood Acres in Chapel Hill. “Glen stops by for a free drink when he’s in town,” Manly claimed. “He’s courting a lewd nurse who lives in Carrboro.” Glen was an irrepressible raconteur in his own right, and I count myself fortunate not to have been trapped in the same room with the two of them.

Manly’s generosity was boundless. He was my teacher, mentor and close friend. He encouraged me to apply to the Master of Fine Arts program in creative writing at UNC Greensboro and wrote an eloquently persuasive letter recommending my acceptance. When I began my college teaching career, he drove long distances to meet with my classes to instruct and inspire them as he had me, and he continued to critique my stories and give advice and guidance. I traveled to London with Manly and Frances when he received an Edgar Allen Poe Award, and I had a front-row seat at the premiere of a movie based on his story collection Who Fears the Devil? On several occasions he and Frances visited with me in Southern Pines.

Manly died in 1986. When he was inducted into the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame, Frances asked me to speak on his behalf. I was proud to do it. I did the same for the late Glen Rounds a few years later. I can’t think of either man without recalling Sir Walter Scott’s lines “. . . When, musing on companion gone/We doubly feel ourselves alone.”

As for Manly Wade Wellman the writer, the author of over 90 books, I’ll leave the literary judgments to my betters. I believe, however, that he made an important contribution to the science fiction and fantasy genre. Writers as disparate as Stephen King and Fred Chappell have acknowledged Manly’s influence. Without a doubt, he was the teacher who appeared at the right moment in my life. There were literary luminaries in Chapel Hill and up Interstate 85 in Greensboro, but I would have been lost in such settings.

Whenever I think of Manly, I recall a cold January afternoon during the final days of that first creative writing class at Elon. It had begun to snow large, wet flakes that were fast piling up against the window glass in room 301. Manly had to drive back to Chapel Hill on a meandering Highway 54, so he dismissed class early and I walked with him to the faculty parking lot on Harrison Avenue. Before getting into his car, he paused a moment and recited a passage: “He watched sleepily the flakes, silver and dark, falling obliquely against the lamplight . . . It was falling on every part of the dark central plain, on the treeless hills, falling softly upon the Bog of Allen and, farther westward, softly falling into the dark mutinous Shannon waves . . .”

When he’d finished, I asked the source of the passage.

“It’s from James Joyce’s story ‘The Dead.’ You should read it,”
he said.

I watched his taillights disappear in the snowstorm before walking to the library, where I checked out Dubliners. That night I read it cover to cover.  PS

In The Spirit

Bringing It on Home

Creating a Reverie facsimile

By Tony Cross

I’ve learned a great deal since I started my business, Reverie Cocktails, over five years ago. Even so, I sometimes feel like I don’t know much — I’m constantly reminded of this every time a new drink or concept fails. Mind you, I’m not afraid of failing, it’s how I learn. And, every now and then, a drink clicks.

I’m often asked by friends and patrons how they can recreate our cocktails at home. While it’s true most of our drinks can’t be recreated exactly, it’s also true that some can come pretty darn close — and taste amazing. I’m going to suggest one of our signature drinks you can make at home, but before you get started, I would highly recommend purchasing an iSi soda syphon or iSi Nitro. These allow you to carbonate the cocktails quickly. There are a lot of companies that make soda chargers, but don’t get a knock-off. Cheap imitations can be extremely dangerous — they can explode when charging — so please grab an iSi. Co2 chargers are also available online. If you’re not in the market for a soda charger, you can use sparkling water instead.

One more thing: When we batch, we clarify our juices using different enzymes and a centrifuge. Clarifying at home isn’t absolutely necessary, but it will help your drink carbonate better, and the cocktail will come out sharp instead of foamy. To do this, you’ll need a product called Pectinex Ultra SP-L, and you can get it from

Lino Blanco

This is a cocktail we put out last spring. It’s our spin on the White Linen, which was created by Rene Dominguez at the Shady Lady Saloon in Sacramento, California. It’s still on their menu the last time I checked. The original recipe calls for Hendrick’s Gin, St. Germaine Elderflower Liqueur, lemon juice, simple syrup and muddled cucumbers. We substitute Durham Distillery’s Conniption Gin and their killer Cucumber Vodka. Actually, both are killer. Everything out of Durham Distillery is top-notch. This recipe makes two cocktails.

1 1/2 ounces Durham Distillery Conniption Gin

1 1/2 ounces Durham Distillery Cucumber Vodka

1 ounce St. Germaine Elderflower Liqueur

1 1/2 ounces clarified lemon juice (regular lemon juice if clarifying is not an option)

1/2 ounce simple syrup (2 parts sugar: 1 part water.)

1 ounce filtered water

If you’re using a syphon: Add all ingredients to chilled iSi soda syphon or iSi whipper. Screw on the top of the syphon, add your Co2 charger, screw on —you’ll hear the gas release into the syphon — and shake hard for 10 seconds. Gently squeeze the handle, releasing all the gas from the syphon. Do not squeeze hard or liquid will come out of the spout. Once all the gas is released, unscrew the empty charger, add one more charger, screw it on and shake for another 10 seconds. Place your syphon in the freezer for 5 minutes. When the time is up, grab your syphon and slowly release the gas. When all the gas is out, slowly unscrew the top of your syphon. Gently pour over ice in a Collins glass. Garnish with a few slices of cucumber.

Clarified Lemon Juice

For every 8 ounces of lemon juice, stir in 1 gram of Pectinex. This isn’t a lot, so add the Pectinex one drop at a time until you reach 1 gram. Let the juice sit at room temperature for 10 minutes, and then filter it through a Chemex or coffee filter.

If you don’t have a syphon, that’s OK, but you’ll need sparkling water. Mountain Valley is my favorite. Delete the ounce of filtered water from the ingredients list above. It was there for the syphon recipe because water is an ingredient in cocktails, usually incorporated by shaking or stirring with ice.

To make the Lino Blanco without using a syphon, combine all the above ingredients (minus water) into a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake hard for 15 seconds or until the shaker is chilled. Add a healthy splash of sparkling water and strain into a Collins glass with ice. Again, garnish with a few slices of cucumber.  PS

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