Tag Archives: north carolina

Throwback Thursday: Grandparents’ Wedding

A little personal history for this Throwback Thursday. The wedding of my grandparents Faye Yandle and Frank Furr, on June 13, 1954, in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Fun facts. Despite his civilian attire, my grandfather was at the time a member of the U.S. Navy. My grandmother gave up a full music scholarship to UNC Chapel Hill to marry him.

Click the image to enlarge.

Faye&Frank1

The Apple Man

On any given day in September and early October, Hubert Hill can be found sitting in his garage at a small table surrounded by folding chairs and buckets. There’s a calculator and a set of scales on the table, and a refrigerator with drinks, but what’s most obvious is Hubert’s welcoming smile.

“I planted the first apple tree in 1972, before we ever moved into the house I’d built,” Hubert remembered. “After that, I couldn’t stop planting.”

It’s a good thing he didn’t. Today he has five acres that produce fruit, four in apples and one in grapes. The orchard includes a dozen varieties of apples and muscadine grapes, and he also grows a few peaches, plums and blueberries.

“Peaches are harder to grow than apples because they bloom early,” Hubert said. “Granny Smith apples are the local favorite, but I don’t have enough trees (to keep up with demand).”

Despite their popularity, however, he’s not looking to plant anymore. Raising the trees can be quite a bit of work.

Planting apples is not all that difficult to do, he explained. He hired a backhoe to dig the hole for his apple trees, and then he and his sons planted the trees. Digging the holes by hand, he admitted, would be harder.

“It’s a long term project, though, because it takes five years before you see a crop,” he continued. “It takes time to see a return on the investment.”

It’s a myth that apple trees won’t grow in the Piedmont — it all depends on the species of tree, he said — but the weather and the pests are always key players.

Summer's Bounty

Storms have knocked over grape trellises and uprooted trees, but Hubert said the pests are the critical element. This year he’s had a terrible infestation of squirrels.

“The pests are the biggest problem,” he explained. “With apple trees, you keep up with what you’ve planted and add more of the ones that do well.”

After a few years of growing apples he decided to try muscadine grapes as well. He sells some of them to people in the wine making industry, but quite a few are picked by visitors who simply like the grapes.

grape cluster 1

“I started planting the grapes in 1980, and I planted what I intended to plant,” he said. “Some people don’t like them because of the seeds, but a lot people do.”

And keeping up with what the customers like is important because they create the atmosphere. It’s why people from all over the state call and come to visit, like a senior in Asheville who was doing a school project comparing southern orchards to northern orchards. She discovered Hubert through the orchard’s website.

“She had several questions, but the one I remember most is that she wanted me to explain what made my orchard special,” he said.

Hubert didn’t have to ponder the question very long. Customer service, he believes, is what makes his orchard unique, and it certainly keeps people coming back. He’s had visitors from as far away as Florida come to the orchard.

“A lady in Florida called and said she saw the website, and wanted to know if I’d be open that Saturday,” Hubert recalled. “She said she wanted her children to experience picking apples, and she liked what she saw (on the Web site). Sure enough, she and the kids came to visit that Saturday.”

There had to have been orchards between Florida and Trinity, but this lady came all the way to Hubert’s orchard on the strength of a website and a single phone conversation. That says a lot about the orchard and the man, especially since Hubert admits he didn’t start out thinking he would raise apples.

In fact, after graduating from high school he attended High Point College (University). However, a summer job at Thomasville Furniture Industries turned into a part time job, and after finishing his degree he went to work there full time.

“I spent 39 years there,” he said. “I ended up as the supervisor in the accounting office, and I retired 15 years ago.”

These days he operates the pick-your-own orchard from July to October, chatting with the people who come to pick and teaching the children all about apples.

Yes, the children. The orchard has become an important destination for kindergarten and first-grade classes across the Piedmont and for homeschool groups from as far away as Raleigh and Charlotte. Local schools visit too, especially Archdale Elementary, he added.

In fact, Hubert had a school group in the orchard almost every single weekday in September, and said he believes he saw around 800 children. On the day the NEWS came to call, he’d had a group of 127 kindergarten and first grade students learning all about apples, grapes and the orchard.

In fact, Hubert once had a three year relationship with kindergarten classes at Jefferson Elementary in Greensboro.

“They sent a thank you note after their visit, and then I sent a thank you note for the thank you note,” Hubert told the NEWS.

After they received his thank you note, the children wrote back and they corresponded all during the school year. Later the children invited him to their end of school picnic.

“When I got there they had all my letters up on the bulletin board,” he remembered.

He and the kids had a good time at the picnic, where Hubert’s grandson Ryan played violin for them.

For the next two years, Hubert and the school’s kindergartners visited in September, wrote during the year, then met up at the school picnic. His relationship with the school declined when the class teacher retired, but the memories he has of them are as sweet as the apples they picked.

Of course, sometimes they come back. Hubert recalled a little girl who ran right up to him one day and said excitedly “I’m back!”

“It turned out she had been here with her school class the first time, then had her parents bring her back, and then her grandparents brought her back again,” he smiled.

After so many years the children can start to blur together, but occasionally one or two stand out. Hubert recalled another young girl, this one from a homeschool association that came to learn about apples and trees, who was extremely interested in what he was telling the group.

“Afterwards, she came up to me and said ‘Mr. Hill, I like trees too,’” he told the NEWS. “Her name was Peyton, and she just made an impression on me.”

All the kids are eager to be a part of the orchard, he continued, and he enjoys having them visit because they are “a lot of fun.”

Hubert’s a lot of fun, too, and he’s also the reason that the orchard is something special. It may not be big, but Hill’s Orchard and Vineyard is overflowing with the best things in life — fun, fruit and friendship.

This story was originally published in an October 2008 edition of the Archdale-Trinity News.

60 Second Review: Gender and Jim Crow

Most histories are written as “top-down” or “bottom-up.” Glenda Gilmore, however, uses “bottom-up” and “middle-up” in Gender and Jim Crow, a study of middle-class black women in turn-of-the-century North Carolina. In particular, she focuses on Sarah Dudley Pettey, using her to explore the social construction of race and gender as it related to (and was affected by) the politics of white supremacy.

Gilmore’s conclusions, based on her research, are twofold:

1) that the disciplines and subfields into which historians have divided history obscure the way people actually lived, and have actually aided in the burial of black resistance from our collective past, and

2) that if southern history is to be revised to portray a more realistic vision of the past, historians must include and analyze new information about African-Americans and women; understand that race and gender are socially constructed; and reconceptualize notions of what is public and what is private.

The Good

Gilmore’s use of Pettey’s evolving life to argue that both race and gender took on new and different meanings is excellent and very well done. She clearly shows how, for the black middle class, the private was public, that one private decision or action, anything not a carefully considered strategic move, could spell doom for an entire race. The public body politic was inevitably tied to the personal lives of the black middle class, especially after the disfranchisement of black males and the enfranchisement of (white) women.

The Not-So-Bad

(Or, why Gilmore’s chief failing doesn’t make the book a failure)

Gilmore’s one failure is not including true class analysis. However, she does explain how white supremacists — among them Furnifold Simmons, Josephus Daniels and Charles Aycock — used class divisions among whites to promote their disfranchisement rhetoric. The triple whammy of African-American men holding public office (effectively “holding dominion” over white males), rapid industrialization and urbanization, she argues, cemented in their minds the idea that black men rose to prominence only to seek out the white women. This allowed them to portray the black middle class not as progressive, industrious citizens striving for a better life, but as dangerous degenerates who sought to destroy the white race. It also allowed them to politicize working-class whites, destroying any possible biracial class alliance that might have emerged through the Populist Party or among cotton mill workers.

The Takeaway

The “limits of the possible” is the crucial theme of the book. “What is possible?” and “what is not?” are questions she asks throughout the narrative when discussing those who stepped out of the carefully constructed idea of race and/or gender. She also raises the controversial question of how to judge those men and women whose roles were to mitigate circumstances instead of working to correct injustice. In this respect Gilmore is certainly on the “road to Memphis,” following in Jacquelyn Hall’s footsteps in trying to understand the roles southern women and African-Americans played in southern politics in the years before 1960. Most of all, however, she shows that only by studying the “politics of the oppressed” will historians be able to understand the full breadth and scope of southern history.

Historic Banknotes to be Auctioned

Two rare North Carolina banknotes will go up for auction on June 9. Both come from the personal collection of Henry Fries Shaffner, one of the original founders and first chairman of the Wachovia Bank and Trust Company.

The oldest of the two is an 1866 $5 note from the First National Bank of Salem, believed by the National Banknote Census to be the only one of its kind. The signature at the bottom is right belongs to the bank’s founder and first president, Israel George Lash, the grandson of Jacob Loesch, one of the eleven original Moravian settlers who traveled from Pennsylvania to North Carolina in 1753.

The Moravians named the tract of land they settled “Wachovia” after the Wachau area of the Danube Valley, home to the estate of Count Nicholas von Zinzendorf, the Austrian who sheltered them from religious persecution after they fled their homeland in Bohemia and Moravia (what is today the Czech Republic). There they built a town called Herrnhut on his estate, Berthelsdorf.

The town the Moravians founded in North Carolina was called Salem, and eventually merged with neighboring town Winston to create Winston-Salem. Parts of the original village survive as the living history site Old Salem Museums and Gardens.

The second note is an 1882 $20 note, called a “Brown Back,” from the Wachovia National Bank of Winston; it is only one of four known to exist. It has the signatures of William A. Lemly, bank president, and James A. Gray, cashier. The bank in 1910 merged with the Wachovia Loan and Trust Company to form the Wachovia Bank and Trust Company, with Colonel Francis Fries its as president and Gray as its first vice president. Henry Fries Shaffner, collector of the two banknotes, was the nephew of Colonel Fries and served as the bank’s secretary/treasurer.

— Some information taken from a history compiled by Louis A. Shaffner