Author: springmagazine

At Elmo’s Diner, a story of humility and joy

Cam was a familiar sight at Elmo’s Diner on Ninth Street. Most nights, he would come for dinner wearing a nice shirt, sit at one of his familiar spots at the counter, patiently wait to be served and banter with the staff in his characteristic gentle, easy manner. “Cam,” as he was known to Elmo’s staffers, was John Camden Hundley Jr. He died in 2016 at 83 years old. Cam ate at Elmo’s so often, around seven o’clock most nights, the staff at the busy restaurant out of habit would start looking out for his car at his usual parking spot. “Is Cam here yet?” people would start asking. He was supposed to call Elmo’s if he wasn’t going to come. His birthday was in the date book. Although Hundley died in 2016, his death still weighs on the staff, and memories of him are cherished and protected. People are reluctant to be interviewed, for fear the emotions would come to the surface and there would be tears. Chrissy Yuorick, who waited on him often, …

“The Dream of the Earth” by Thomas Berry

When the Catholic priest Thomas Berry died in 2009, obituaries were not sure what to call him. “Cultural historian” was the preferred title. “Theologian” didn’t quite encompass his work, and he had preferred the term “geologian” instead. Born in Greensboro in 1914, Berry studied Asian languages and religions, Native American culture, founded the graduate program on religions at Fordham University, among other studies and work throughout his life — all in the search of a spirituality that combines religion and nature. In “The Great Work,” Berry wrote about his profound spiritual experience at a meadow when he was 11 years old. The experience was the basis for his spiritual development and intellectual thought for the rest of his life. “Whatever preserves and enhances this meadow in the natural cycles of its transformations is good, what is opposed to this meadow or negates it is not good,” he wrote. Berry’s writing is soft yet powerful. It flows, and is difficult to quote and pull from. You end up reading the whole book but not being able …

Morgan Imports celebrates turning 50!

In a corner of the Morgan Imports store is the store’s Christmas room, which is filled with ornaments, trees, figurines and toy houses in wonderlands with names like, “Snow Village” and “Mistletoe Farm.” Standing at the entrance to the room, Peter Bangasser points out carolers to his baby. Bangasser used to live in downtown, and that’s when he started shopping there. “My wife and I get an ornament here every year,” he said. Alice Isard, 6, said her favorite part of the store is Buck, the reindeer who has given probably thousands of kids rides. She was looking at a Christmas tree and then helping her father, Ben Isard, pick out presents. Holding up a coaster, she said, “I like this cup mat.” Isard, humoring her, said, “Cup mat? You want this cup mat?” Morgan Imports in downtown Durham is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, and as the holiday season began, long-time customers and new customers alike stopped by to get into the Christmas spirit. Richard Morgan started the store in downtown in 1969. …

What is Save RDU Forest?

The landscape around the 105-acre “Odd Fellows” property is serene during winter. Although it’s right by Interstate 40, a quarry is just feet away, and although construction equipment have begun to move into the area, the landscape is still a healthy forest, with old hardwoods reaching at the sky and ferns underneath. In March, the Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority’s Board leased the property to Knightdale-based Wake Stone Corp. for mining over 25 years for $24 million. The Umstead Coalition and others say the agreement would not be able to generate as much revenue for the airport as projected, and that more alarmingly, a lease for a quarry cannot be a real lease since the land will not be returned in the same condition. The Odd Fellows tract as it is, with all of its trees, water and animals, will cease to exist. “Save RDU Forest” is the ongoing effort by the Umstead Coalition to save the property. “We have been actively involved since 2016,” said Jean Spooner, chairwoman of the Umstead Coalition. The coalition preserves the …

Halloween movies! Frankenstein and The Bride of Frankenstein

“Frankenstein” was the classic movie monster that has never really gotten a decent update. There have been many witches and vampires TV shows and movies over the years, as well as werewolves and zombies. (How long has “The Walking Dead” been running now?) But Frankenstein was the one that stayed like he was, as that 1930s era iconic persona. And Frankenstein has become a short hand in popular culture: “Misunderstood wretched monster created by science and the hubris of man,” is probably it. And he is kind of a funny character and relatable. He awkwardly roams through the countryside and he is very straightforward in how he tries to relate to people. In the second movie, he meets a hermit in the woods who finally treats him well, gives him shelter, food, wine. “Wine! Good!” he shouts. “It’s alive!” But it’s only when you get into the wrong state of mind and watch Frankenstein – or maybe the right state of mind – that you see more clearly why it’s so horrifying. Frankenstein, directed by …

As Schoolhouse celebrates 30 years, stories and lessons abound

A couple hundred parents and kids gathered at the West Point on the Eno last Saturday for the 30th anniversary of Schoolhouse of Wonder. The organization has led nature classes for kids at the Eno River since 1989, and was celebrating with storytelling, s’mores at campfires and games.

Despite the sporadic and torrential rains this area has seen all summer, the weather last Saturday kept calm and Schoolhouse held its celebrations in a perfect, temperate evening.

Children gathered to make fire, whittle and practice tomahawk throwing. As Annabelle and Lillie Barbour, 12 and 10, busily whittled away, Annabelle said to another girl, “Could you aim that a little away from (Lillie)?” “Yeah,” Lillie chimed in, “it’s like you’re trying to kill me.”