All posts filed under: Articles

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, …

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.”

Led Zeppelin in August

A few years ago, I found I liked listening to Led Zeppelin in August. Today, I caught this feeling of listening to Led Zeppelin again as I drove around in the late afternoon after work. North Carolina’s August. That time when it’s like summer can’t take any more of itself. The active, joyful months of June and July are done, and the heat and humidity builds while the sunlight starts to slant. There is a feeling of falling and growing darkness. And rot and decay. For me, the work of summer is often not done by August, but I don’t have the natural impetus for it anymore. But from the best years that I remember, I wonder if August is when the beauty of summer, if you have risen up to it and worked for it, rewards you. Listening to Led Zeppelin’s lyricism in the heat of August is amazing. But that’s not really fair to a band, is it? Who says that a band can only be listened to during one month out of …

Artist profile: Ginna Earl and her creative journey after Vespertine

Ginna Earl greets me at her house in Sanford, some miles south of Pittsboro. It’s dusk, the sun sets behind the house, giving it a nice glow, and Earl comes out gently, to welcome me on the winding path that leads to her front door. Inside, a picture of Oscar Wilde hangs by the door, a painting in the Art Nouveau style hangs across the way, and then you see paintings by her mom, artworks she found on Etsy over the years, and many other patterns, colors, fabrics, plants, and all the tools and equipment of an artist. On her dining table is a book she’s reading: “Waterlog,” about the adventures of a man who swims throughout the British Isles. It’s fitting that an interview with Earl occurs in the early hours of the evening. “Vespertine” means exactly that – flourishing in the evening, like a star. Sitting down at her dining table, Earl talks about what led to the closing of Vespertine, the store in Carrboro that she owned and operated 2011 to 2017, …