National Independent Retailer Month

by Eric Haggart

Eric Haggart

Eric Haggart is our guest contributor to this Shelf Life in the Mountains. Eric writes for the Franklin Area Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber recently moved into a new location at 98 Hyatt Road, Franklin.

The month of July is National Independent Retailer Month, and a majority of our member businesses are just that, independent retailers. Being a member of the Franklin Area Chamber of Commerce is more than just putting your business’ name in a guide book and on a website. Being a member of the Chamber puts you in a group of local businesses that are all striving towards the same goal: success! By becoming a member of the Franklin Chamber of Commerce, you join a vast pool of resources from which all of our members draw ideas, energy, and networking. The popular quote from Aristotle,  “the whole is greater than the sum of the parts”, resonates in the membership of the Chamber. What goods or services one of our members may not offer, another might, and vice versa, allowing customers to keep their dollars local, energizing the local economy and putting more people to work.

Our searchable database of Franklin Area Chamber of Commerce members is here: FACC Member Businesses

Members are highlighted in our information area

The Franklin Area Chamber of Commerce is a non profit organization working to build a healthy economy, improve the area’s quality of life, promote the business interests of our members, and provide tools for your business’ success. One huge advantage to the Franklin Chamber of Commerce is that we’re also home to Franklin’s Welcome Center. Visitors and locals come in looking for information about things to do, places to shop, eat, and stay. Being a member of the Chamber gives you exposure that you won’t get trying to navigate a target audience with a much more involved advertising budget. The Chamber of Commerce also seeks out advertising in regional publications, giving readers a pathway to getting more information about Franklin, exposing them to our website, and driving more customers right to your door.

Tying all of these benefits together, our new facility has provided a more immersive experience for people coming to the area who are looking for restaurants, local shops, and activities. In addition to our “brick and mortar” location, the Franklin Area Chamber of Commerce reaches out to interact with our members in many of the most popular social media platforms. A growing presence on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and more, we interact with not only potential visitors, but also with our members who participate in these platforms as well. Sharing upcoming events, specials, dining, lodging, as well as giving our members spotlights and features, puts them in front of even larger audiences than ever before.

By joining other area independent retailers in the Franklin Area Chamber of Commerce, you become part of a business community that thrives and succeeds as a whole. Our role in that process is to help facilitate interaction between local residents and visitors, by guiding them to our members to meet their needs. In so doing, the money that is spent locally helps to foster economic growth and prosperity for our members and their employees, which in turn, provides a successful environment for small businesses to thrive.

To request information about becoming a member of the Franklin Area Chamber of Commerce, follow the link here – Membership Information & Benefits

Finally, the Fontana Regional Library has resources to support independent retailers, such as these 3 titles (and 495 more):

Managing your business to minimize disruption [electronic resource] : a guide for small businesses in North Carolina.

The great equalizer : how Main Street capitalism can create an economy for everyone / David M. Smick.

How to start your very first business / from the producers of Warren Buffett’s Secret Millionaire’s Club, with Julie Merberg and Sarah Parvis.

With access to the resources of NC Cardinal,  there are over 1200 more titles about this subject available in eBook and print.

“War is all Hell”

William T. Sherman was one of the more famous generals of the American Civil War.   Best known for his march through Georgia in 1864-65, cutting themselves off from their supply trains.  His armies foraged off the territory they were traveling through, reaching Savannah right before Christmas 1864, in time for Sherman to present the President of the United States with a Christmas present of the Georgia city.  By the spring of 1865, Sherman continued his march, this time northward through South Carolina and North Carolina, where he accepted the surrender Joseph E. Johnston’s Confederate army.

 Sherman didn’t believe, like a lot of military officers, that war was a gentleman’s game.  For example, when boats  and trains carrying his troops were shot at, Sherman sent soldiers to burn buildings in the towns where the shots came from and placed hostages on the trains and boats.   When he was the military commander in Memphis in 1862, he sent families south through Confederate lines as retaliation for his troops being shot at.

Almost as controversial was Sherman’s policy toward runaway slaves.  As a Democrat, Sherman was against freeing slaves, the opposite view from his brother John, the Republican senator from Ohio.  When the Union army moved into Tennessee following the battle at Shiloh, slaves thought the troops were their salvation.  Sherman  gave Union commanders permission to take slaves as long they could prove they were used in the war effort.

Sherman first encounter with combat was at First Bull Run.  After that, he was sent to Kentucky when he was forced to leave to recover from mental problems.  At Shiloh, Tennessee, in April 1862, he fought alongside Ulysses Grant.  He followed Grant as the Union commander in Memphis.  After spending a number of weeks in Memphis in 1862, Grant ordered Sherman to move downstream and attack Confederate forces near Vicksburg, Mississippi.   Although that expedition was a failure, it set the stage for Grant’s attack on Vicksburg the following year, when, after a long siege, the Confederates occupying the city surrendered on July 4, opening the Mississippi and splitting the Confederacy.   The next target for the two generals was Chattanooga.

The Chattanooga campaign was Grant’s last in the West, before he was sent to Virginia by President Lincoln to oppose Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia.   Before Sherman and Grant got to East Tennessee, the Union Army of the Cumberland was soundly beaten by Braxton Bragg’s Army of Tennessee as Chickamauga in Northern Georgia.  Sherman and Grant’s task was to raise the siege placed on Rosecrans’ Union forces in Chattanooga by Bragg’s army, which occupied high ground around the city.   In two months, the Union Armies of the Tennessee and the Cumberland drove the Confederates into Georgia, setting the stage for Sherman’s Atlanta campaign and eventually the March to the Sea.

For much of the the next year, 1864-65, Sherman’s army strived to capture Atlanta by not confronting Joseph Johnston’s Confederate army head on, but rather using flanking attacks.  The one time he did order a full frontal attack, at Kennesaw Mountain, it was a disaster for the enemy was dug in, in well built trenches.   Sherman’s army attacked with 15,000 men and suffered twenty percent casualties.   After that, the only barrier keeping Sherman from Atlanta was the Chattahoochee River, which he crossed July 17.  After a series a battles around the city, Sherman, tired of bloodletting, settled in for a siege, which ended on September  1st, when the Federals learned the enemy had retreated.

Sherman famed March to the Sea through Georgia began on November 15.   His army was divided into two wings both heading generally southeast.  The Confederates thought Augusta on the border of South Carolina was the target, so Jefferson Davis sent Braxton Bragg to defend the city.  But right before Christmas Sherman’s army reached the outskirts of the real destination, Savannah.  Since the defenders of the city had withdrawn, the local government declared Savannah an open city, saving it from destruction.  Sherman sent President Lincoln a telegram presenting  him with Savannah as a Christmas present.

The Union army occupying Savannah rested in preparation for the next step in their advance through Confederate territory: South Carolina.  Where Sherman governed his troops actions in Georgia, that was not the case in South Carolina.  Union soldiers were looking forward to causing as much damage in South Carolina as possible because they knew that’s where the war started.  The state capital, Columbia, was heavily damaged by fire, which Sherman blamed on Confederate troops under the command of South Carolina native Wade Hampton.   As Jacqueline Campbell states, historians have debated the cause of the extent of the damage in Columbia.  Having read both sides of the argument, I have come to the conclusion it was a combination of the Confederates burning cotton to keep it out of the hands of the advancing Federals and Union soldiers getting their hands on liquor and carrying on with drunken partying while setting fires.

The Spring of 1865 found Sherman and his army in the Old North State, where the war was winding down. The original plan which he and Grant had cooked up had Sherman’s army moving north through North Carolina to Lee from the rear.  However, Lee had surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia  to Grant on April 9 at Appomattox Courthouse.  That ended that aspect of the war in Virginia.  President Davis and other members of his administration had already escaped southward by train, but making it clear he wished the war to continue.   In the meantime, Sherman was pursuing General Johnston’s army in the piedmont of North Carolina, hoping to negotiate  a surrender soon.  That happened on April 26, two weeks after Lee’s capitulation.

The books listed below include Sherman’s Memoirs;  Biographies by Eisenhower, Fellman. Kennett, and Marszalek;  Flood’s study of his relationship with General Grant;  and finally Campbell, Hess, and Trudeau’s books on the Atlanta campaign, the march through Georgia and beyond.   There is caveat about General John Eisenhower’s book:  he died before it was published and the person who edited it evidently didn’t have a background in Civil War history for the Union Army of the Tennessee and the Confederate Army of Tennessee are thoroughly mixed up the book.

Battles and Leaders of the Civil WarVolume 4.

Jacqueline Glass Campbell.  When Sherman Marched North from the Sea:  Resistance on the Confederate Home Front.

John S. D. Eisenhower.  American General: The Life and Times  of William Tecumseh Sherman.

Michael Fellman.  Citizen Sherman:  a Life of William Tecumseh Sherman.

Charles Bracelen Flood.  Grant and Sherman.

Earl J. Hess.  Kennesaw Mountain:  Sherman, Johnston, and the Atlanta Campaign.

Lee Kennett.  Sherman:  A Soldier’s Life.

John F. Marszalek.  Sherman:  A Soldier’s Passion for Order.

William T. Sherman.  Sherman: Memoirs of General W. T. Sherman.

Noah Andre Trudeau.  Southern Storm:  Sherman’s March to the Sea.

Steven E. Woodworth.  Nothing But Victory:  the Army of the Tennessee, 1861-1865.

The End of Two Wars

One week from the publication date of this blog will be the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the Abraham Lincoln’s assassination.  While Lincoln’s funeral train was tracing in reverse Lincoln’s trip from Illinois to Washington 1861, Jefferson Davis was hiding from federal troops trying to find him.   Eighty years later, in 1945, three days from the anniversary of Lincoln’s death, Franklin Roosevelt’s heart gave out  as the European war was coming to a close in Europe with  western allies closing on Berlin from the southwest and the Russians from the east.  The other part of World War II, being fought in the Pacific, against the Japanese, had a little over three months to go.

First, Lincoln and Davis! It was Good Friday, April 14, 1865.  The Civil War was over!  President Lincoln and his wife had planned an evening at the theatre; Laura Keene was performing in “Our American Cousin.”   A little after 10:13, John Wilkes Booth sneaked into the president’s box and shot him point blank in the back of head.  Lincoln lived a few hours before dying from his wound the next day while Booth led authorities on a twelve day chase before he died in a barn, set on fire by United State Army troops.  A quick investigation proved Booth had not acted alone; his accomplices were rounded up,  incarcerated awaiting trial, and for some eventual execution.

While in the north, Americans were mourning the death of Abraham Lincoln, Jefferson Davis was fleeing south with a price on his head.  From the time Ulysses S. Grant took overall command of the Federal forces in 1864, he decided to go after the Confederate  Army of  Northern Virginia, with a goal to destroy it, rather than capture Richmond  However, after the  Battle of Five Forks, April 1, 1865,  General Robert E. Lee told Davis Richmond would have to be evacuated and the president became a fugitive carrying what was left of the government’s gold. Davis started his journey by train to Danville, Virginia. After Lee surrendered, he went into North Carolina, where he hoped to meet up Gen. Joseph Johnston who was in command of another Confederate army.   He stayed in Greensboro for a while, then moved to Charlotte, as long as it was safe.  Finally, Davis went south to Georgia, where he was finally captured near Abbeville, after 38 days on the run.

Eight decades later, the United States was nearing the end of another war.¹  In the spring of 1945, the Allies were getting closer to the Japanese Home Islands.  American bombers had bases, first in China then in the Caroline Islands, well within range of Japanese cities.  Although the first bombing raid on Tokyo was that led by General James Doolittle in April 1942, launched from the aircraft carrier Hornet,  bombing of the home islands didn’t resume until  the fall of 1944 when the B-29 super fortresses performed strategic bombing raids against targets in the Japanese capital and other major cities in the Home Islands.  Meanwhile, in the spring of 1945 the Allies were preparing to invade Japan itself.  United States armed forces had invaded Iwo Jima, hopefully they would  have learned something since the bloody invasion of the tiny Tarawa Atoll, that 3300 causalities in November 1943.

 Iwo Jima was a volcanic hell with 23,000 Japanese dug in on Mount Suribachi.  It took almost 24,000 American causalities to secure the island.  Then the high casualty rate on Okinawa, an estimated 65,000 all types,  prompted the Allies’ decision to use the A-Bomb rather than  invade Japan.   When Harry S. Truman succeeded FDR in April 1945, he knew nothing about this atomic weapon. After giving his consent, two bombs were used against Japan: the first on 6 August  1945,  was dropped on Hiroshima; and the second on 9 August on Nagasaki.  The devastation and fatalities caused by these two bombs led the Japanese to surrender on 15 August.


¹ In case you think there is no direct connection between the two wars, the American commander on Okinawa, Simon Bolivar Buckner, Jr.  was the son of a Confederate general  and governor of Kentucky.  Buckner was the highest ranking American general officer killed in action during World War II.

Lincoln’s Assassination and Jefferson Davis

James L. Swanson.  Bloody Crimes

James L. Swanson. Manhunt

James L. Swanson and Daniel R.  The Lincoln Assassins

William C. Davis.  Jefferson Davis:  The Man and His Hour

War in the Pacific

James Bradley.  Flags of Our Fathers

Robert Gant.  The Twilight Warriors

Max Hastings.  Retribution:  The Battle for Japan, 1944-45

Robert Leckie.  Okinawa: The Last Battle of World War II 

Donald L. Miller.  D-Days in the Pacific

Martin Russ.  Line of Departure: Tarawa

Ronald H. Spector.  Eagle Against the Sun

Joseph A. Springer.  Inferno

Live Long and Prosper

UPDATE from Youth Services Staff:

 The “Under the Stars” program at Macon County Public Library has been rescheduled due to the rain and thunderstorms that are forecast for Thursday evening, March 12.

It will now be held on Thursday, March 26 at 7 PM. Consequently, Science Club will be at 7 PM that day (instead of 3:30 PM). Should the weather be bad that day, we will still have Science Club at 7 PM and instead of covering astronomy, we will cover electricity that evening.

Live long and prosper.
Live long and prosper.

This past week a man who helped popularize science fiction (and science!) with his role as Spock on Star Trek, Leonard Nimoy, died at age 83.  Nimoy’s performance as Spock spawned a new generation of scientists, showing that cold, dispassionate logic could be tempered-and even improved- by compassion and sensitivity. Star Trek was a show that inspired imagination and the characters & performances of the actors helped draw in audiences that may have never dared to dream about space exploration.

Science fiction, however, doesn’t just beget daydreams. Many technologies that improve life on Earth have originated from the ideas first proposed in science fiction. The 1902 film, A Trip to the Moon, (inspired in part by the 1865 Jules Verne novel From the Earth to the Moon ) depicts a group of astronomers who travel to the Moon in a cannon-propelled capsule to explore the moon’s surface- 67 years before the Apollo 11 crew rocketed to the moon. NASA’s push to explore space has led to technologies such as infrared ear thermometers, artificial limbs, invisible braces, portable cordless vacuums, solar power technologies, as well as improvements in highway, fire, mine, and food safety- and so much more.

Image provided by Astronomy Club of Asheville
Image provided by Astronomy Club of Asheville

Space exploration, in general, is not really seen as a topic of great importance in the “real world.” Many people seem to still dismiss the idea as a fanciful pursuit- one to, realistically, remain squarely in the realm of science fiction; not nearly as important as the economy or other political issues. Stephen Hawking, however, recently said that space travel will save mankind.

Technological advancements aren’t the only benefits gained from space exploration. Working on the problems and puzzles of space exploration often gives us new perspectives on the immediate problems on Earth. The sort of out-of-the-box thinking that is required to do the seemingly impossible prompts breakthroughs in other realms- those sparks of imagination spread like wildfire!

Library Loaner TelescopeThe awe that people, children especially, feel when studying space can’t be underestimated. The impact that sort of wonder can have is enormous and life-changing, even if it’s not immediately seen.  If you have children, bring them out to Macon County Public Library on March 12 at 6:30pm for the “Under the Stars” Science Club event with special guests from the Astronomy Club of Asheville. Children will get the chance to use a refractor telescope to check out the night sky and learn about astronomy.

Who knows? Maybe your child will discover the inspiration or passion to become an astronaut, a sci-fi writer, or an unforgettable TV alien.

Do you have a favorite science fiction show or book? Has space or science inspired you or had any impact on your life?


Ronda – Circulation Services

Ronda, Circulation Services Supervisor Macon County Public Library
Ronda, Circulation Services Supervisor
Macon County Public Library

By Amy

Ronda (or Rondie, as she’s known to her co-workers) is best known for her love of honey badgers, but everyone around here knows –despite her cool exterior- Ronda cares very deeply about the library.

When asked to give one word to describe Ronda, her co-workers told me: compassionate, messy, and cluttered. I, for one, can’t hold the clutter against her! One co-worker said of Ronda, “She’s a very nice person. And she’s very patient. Infinitely patient!” Another says, “My favorite thing about Ronda is that she always knows what I’m thinking. She’s in my head.”

In this interview, I sit down with this self-described book-wrangling cowgirl to get the scoop on the big desk at Macon County Public Library: circulation services.

So Ronda, what do you do at the library? How long have you been at your job? I’m the circulation services supervisor. I’m not sure, probably 18 years! I started working at the library March 1st 1989.

What’s your first memory of working at the library? My first 2 days were spent watching and listening and picking up garbage outside the building because no one had time to train me! We were very busy in March. And that’s literally what I did- watched, listened, absorbed- and picked up trash outside!

What’s your favorite thing about working at the library? What do you dislike most? *laughter* Is this being recorded? My favorite thing about working at the library is, I guess- besides the wonderful books I have access to- is leaving every day knowing I’ve done my best and I’ve helped my coworkers as much as I can. I feel like I’ve done my job, my job is done, and I can go home and they’ve got it handled. My least favorite- trying to deal with unhappy patrons and not let it get to me personally.

What attracted you to library work? Books, of course! I’ve always enjoyed books and reading. And I enjoy helping people, enjoy helping them find things they like to read. Also, the people you work with.

What’s most surprised you about working at the library? It’s never boring! There’s always some kind of something that’s never happened before, some kind of situation. Very complex. 

What are the first 3 things you do when you get to work? Last 3? Say hello to everyone- how are you doing. Turn my computer on, and count money. Last three… say goodbye to everyone, turn off my computer, the last book drop pull of the day!

Library Insight – The “book drop” is the box located outside the library, where patrons can drive-through and deposit their books. The book drop is emptied several times a day and books are loaded into a bin, rolled inside, and processed or “checked-in.” They are then ready to place back onto the shelves!

What are you most excited or passionate about?  Finding something that unfindable, that’s lost, missing, misplaced. Thinking of where it could be and then finding it. That’s awesome!

What are the goals you most want to accomplish in your work?  Not so much the goals that are in your job description, but the goals you hold personally? Working in the library system this long has made me wonder why, in high school, it was never mentioned as a possibility. That I could go into Library science, get a degree, be a librarian. I would have loved it. Who knew? So I took business administration. I have considered going back to school to get my librarian certification- but there again I would be doing administrative type things rather than what I’m doing now.. so I’ll stay where I am- I like it!

Library Insight – Circulation services is basically the hub of library activity. Circulation workers are responsible for checking in and out or renewing library materials, processing books patrons have placed on reserve, creating and maintaining library user records, and so much more! When you sign up for a library card, need to pay a late fine, need a suggestion for what to read next, or need to book a space for your next meeting, circulation services is at your service!

What would you say most motivates you to do what you do?  I enjoy it. I enjoy it. I enjoy it – even if there are bad times and bad patrons and arguments and things you’ve got to unravel, I enjoy my job and I enjoy the people I work with. [Someone yells out, “She loves us!”] I do!

Of which contribution, accomplishment or achievement are you most proud? Professionally? Personally? Personally, obvious answer there is my family.  My wonderful husband, very proud of my son, but a personal accomplishment of mine- hardest thing I’ve ever done and really stuck in and got through was when my son and I went to karate together and we both got brown belts. That was exceedingly hard.

We’re talking like- years ago when I was much younger but it was oh so hard then- I can’t imagine now! That was very, very good for internal building of character, because it really teaches you to be calm and try to not let anything get to ya. Nothing is so hard anymore- because when I start thinking something is hard I think, “No, this is not really hard because it’s not like that.” Because we had no air conditioning, sweated to death in a heavy white cotton gi. No complaining. If you had to throw up, you threw up out a window and came back. *Laughter* You did it barefoot so you had blisters on your feet, so yeah- nothing is hard after that! That’s where the optimistic pessimist in me comes in I guess!

Professionally- definitely being here at the library. I never thought I would have a career working with books that I love and helping people and being where information comes- we find out about things- and we’re hooked up on the internet now so you have that also so it’s very enjoyable.

Tell me about some of the memorable characters at the library. Do you have a story or person who stands out in your mind? Many- oh as you get to know the patrons there are very many that are memorable and stand out- and coworkers, like Janet! There’ll never be another one like her, that Janet!

There was a young through-hiker that came here (young, cute little fella with red hair) and he’d just come off the trail, came in to use the internet and he needed his cell phone and his cell phone died.  And he did not have his charger- it was back home, wherever he came from, which is the other end of the Appalachian trail. I happened to have my phone charger with me and it fit his phone and it charged his phone up and he was soo happy. He was so happy, and it was just a small thing.

Are there any occupational hazards to being a library worker? Oh yeah- paper cuts! Stools, I have a yellow caution sign to “Watch for tilting stools.” Right there it is [she points to the sign above her desk] because for some reason stools and I sometimes have dancing contests. Like it will be at the end of the counter and then all of a sudden it’s behind me! Who knew!? And I’m dancing with it around and around and around.

Did you go to the library as a child? What’s your first memory of the library?  I did- I went to the library, the small library here in Franklin and the even smaller library at our school. We also had Ms. Evelyn Pangle that came by with the portable library- like our Rover Bookmobile- and that was so awesome. I loved that. My first memory of the library would be the very small library that was where the old jail was- now it’s a mineral museum. It was very dark and dusty and quiet, but it still had books so I braved it.

When you think of the future of libraries, what gives you a sense of hope?  What makes you concerned or worried? I have confidence that people are never going to not want books. Just from being on the ground, hearing what people say about it. And lots of people do eBook downloads now and go to the internet and read and watch and do whatever, but they still keep coming back to us for the books. And for a child especially, there’s nothing like a book. And if you’re a parent having a book you can read and share with that child- I remember being a child and I can still see in my mind’s eye the color on those pages and they way the book smelled. And the way it looked and just the weight of it. My favorite. I got a box full- my mom ordered a box of the Tarzan books by Edgar Rice Burroughs, and I had all the Nancy Drew books, the Hardy Boys (I didn’t care they were boys- it was good reading!), Trixie Belden- also very good, loved those stories and they are still here and being read and enjoyed.

I’m definitely worried. We are a kind of hidden benefit. Unless people use us and their family is grown around that sort of environment growing up – a lot of people have never come to the library and they don’t know what they’re missing. They really don’t. There are people that don’t enjoy reading because either their families didn’t do it or they’re just not that kind of person- it just doesn’t do it for them or whatever. Funding is a big worry and again that’s because were such a hidden benefit to the community. They just don’t realize what they have unless they use us so people that don’t come, they don’t know. They don’t understand.

If you weren’t working at the library, what might you be doing instead? I would enjoy, I think, being a veterinarian or working with animals because I love animals. Tour guide would be fun- my sister did that for a while and she enjoyed the heck outta that. But I enjoy the library.

What do you do when you aren’t working? Reading. Lots of reading, watching movies. I work out at my gym at home in the basement, read on the bike.

Real book or eBook? Real- I want to see the book, hold it. Just enjoy the whole experience. I read a book from front to back.  I read the acknowledgements; I look at the back part if the author explains where he got his story ideas and all that. I just like the whole thing.

What’s your favorite book? The Gunslinger– by Stephen King. Anything Stephen King. I love him!

What was the last book you read? I am not done yet, but I’m reading the most enjoyable book by Preston & Child – White Fire. Excellent!

What’s a skill or talent you wish you had? I’d like to be able to ride a bicycle again. For some reason I can’t do that. I’ve got a new bicycle and my sense of balance is shot. I want training wheels- my husband thought I was kidding- but I’m not. I’m serious! I want training wheels on my Huffy bike. My huffy bike classic with fenders and such- that’s what I want!

Do you have a message to share? Anything you’d like to say to people who don’t use the library?

The Shield, 40 Hours Without Sleep, and a Broken Trunk: A Wrestlemania Road Trip (Part 1)

By Chris and Christina

What you are about to read is the true story of two library bloggers and their daring Wrestlemania 29 adventures.  This harrowing account is presented in a back and forth manner, taking you from the road trip itself to each of the exciting Wrestlemania matches.

Photo by Christina Wilder
Yes, Wrestlmania is this cool.

As we recount this gritty tale we will weave plenty of literary connections into it.  Links for book titles will take you to that book in the library catalog.  Links for other things will take you places where you can learn more about the topic being discussed.  And as always we will have a link at the end that will take you to a list of all the books mentioned in this blog.

Tuesday, Day 1: Usually a road trip starts out in the morning. You wake up early, finish loading the car, grab the coffee or Dew or energy drink, and head off.  This story is different.  This trip begins at night, in the dark.  The goal was to leave from North Carolina Tuesday and to reach New Jersey in time on Wednesday to meet with friends that evening.

The day started with Christina running errands and me visiting the dentist.  We both worked until 8:00 that evening.  Once home we grabbed a bite to eat, finished packing, and loaded up the Jetta.  Such excitement!  Plugged in the iPod, queued up a new playlist, and headed out.

Travel note:  the 6th generation iPod we have was bought last April to use for our wedding and reception.  It held its battery charge for the entire drive up there, and same for the drive back.  Learn more fun things with iPod : the missing manual .

Match 1: Oftentimes, WWE will have “dark matches” before shows, which means they aren’t televised. This being Wrestlemania, they had a “prematch” before the big show started. Unlike dark matches, this one was in fact televised and featured a title change.

Photo by Christina Wilder
Entrance stage at Wrestlemania

Fun fact: If you read the introduction to Neil Gaiman’s “Fragile Things”, you’ll find a short story hidden in there. How cool is that?

Wednesday, Day 2:  Midnight is when this day starts, driving through the mountains.  Clear skies, clear roads, and good tunes.  I-40 into Asheville, I-26 up through Tennessee, and then I-81 in Virginia.  the bulk of our driving is on this interstate.  We always seem to drive through the scenic areas when it is dark.  Christina handles this stage of the driving.  We stop at most rest areas to stretch and keep awake, stamping about in the cold.

Life as we know it.
Life as we know it.

We stop for a sit down meal at a Denny’s in Wytheville, VA.  Nearing 4:00 am now.  In our younger days staying up like this was much easier.  But we have things to do and people to meet!  Must push on!

Christina is able to keep it up until about dawn, and then I take over the driving.  I discover that 5 Hour Energy does indeed work.  We get through West Virginia and Maryland.  The end seems to be within reach.  Most of Pennsylvania is done, and we move onto I-78.  As we get to the Bethlehem area I suddenly feel a tug on the steering wheel.  Well, the road conditions in PA are not great.  But I notice that the battery light is now on, and that the steering has gotten tight.

I don’t say anything at first.  Once we come up to an exit with gas stations I let Christina know that we might have a wee bit of a problem.  As we go off of the interstate I realize that the power steering is gone.  I’m able to manhandle the car into the no parking zone of the first gas station we come across.

This is not good.  A call to 411 to find a tow truck or similar service is not helpful.  Christina inquires within the gas station and the woman there tells her that there is an auto parts store nearby.  With limited directions I head off on foot.  And what do I find directly next door to the gas station?  A Chevrolet dealership that has a service department.  Huh.  What do you know.  I head into there, and they are glad to be of assistance.  They even send a guy over to drive our poor wounded car to their shop.  Turns out that the power steering belt and arm are gone.  They quote us a reasonable price and get to work.  Takes longer than anticipated since they had to get the parts delivered, but they stick to the quote and soon get us on our way again.  Not as disasterrific as it could have been.

Now the plan had been to get to the hotel, grab a few hours of sleep, and then meet up with Christina’s friend Mary and her boyfriend for dinner and such.  But it is already into the afternoon, and we haven’t even made Jersey yet.  Plans will have to change.  Christina gets a hold of Mary and finds out that she is not in NJ either.  She is in Philadelphia.  In the hospital, to be precise.  They had been in a serious car accident the previous night.  Multiple fractures to both of them.  This is really not good.

Mary (not her real name, by the way) is an aspiring wrestler, training with one of the independent wrestling companies.  She was scheduled to make her in ring debut in July, but now has two broken legs and assorted other injuries.  This is super not good.  Now, let me jump ahead here and assure all of you loyal readers that Mary is going to be okay.  She is done with the surgeries, should be up and walking next month, and doctors are optimistic that she can resume her squared circle dreams.  She hopes to visit us here in Franklin in the coming weeks.

With heavy hearts we drive on, passing into NJ, onto the Garden State Parkway (toll only $1.50), and make it to Clifton and the Howard Johnson we had our reservations at.  Luckily our room is on the first floor.  We unload the car and hit a conveniently close by TGIF’s for dinner and much needed drinks.  Back to the hotel and finally sleep, blessed sleep.

Travel note:  I find out very quickly that people drive differently in NJ than in western NC.  If there is the slightest gap they are going to take it.  But once you realize this and expect to be cut off than it is not so bad and the traffic flows.  It turns out that I am not the only person to notice differences in driving styles: Traffic: why we drive the way we do (and what it says about us)

Match 2:  When you’re a fan of anything, you learn to deal with crazed optimism and cynical defeat. I had high hopes that one of my favorite  – okay, my favorite – wrestling stable known as The Shield would win their match. I’m used to not having things work out the way I want in the wrestling world, but I was hopeful. My hope was not futile, however, as they won! I was the only one who stood up in our section and cheered (The Shield are bad guys and are often booed. But hey, I tend to root for the bad guys.)

Photo by Christina Wilder
The Shield in action

It sort of reminds me of when I first read The Stranger. The main character, Meursault, is by no means a good person, but when we read it, we care for him, as the story is told from his point of view. It forces us to see things from his perspective, and naturally, we try to empathize, even though he’s cruel. The same could be said about Lolita, or A Clockwork Orange.

Thursday, Day 3:  I’ve never slept so well in a hotel room.  I’m guessing that exhaustion has more to do with it than the comfort level of the room.  We were up approximately 40 stress filled hours.

Clearly this is a pre-trip photo, when sleep was plentiful.
Clearly this is a pre-trip photo, when sleep was plentiful.

Any existing plans for the day having been trashed, we set out on a quest for supplies.  Google maps works wonderfully for this.  Simply zoom in on the area and most businesses are listed.  And what do we find within minutes of our hotel?  Anything and everything we need.  Multiple restaurants, a grocery store, Trader Joe’s, Target, Barnes & Noble, a movie theater, multiple drug stores, a post office, a 24 hour Dunkin’ Donuts…jackpot.

The rest of the day is spent killing time in the hotel room.  No matter where you go there is still not much on TV.  Luckily there is a lot of Duck Dynasty on, as well as My Cat From Hell and a replay of the Mets losing.  Not ideal vacation time but understandable all things considered.

The plan for that night was for us to meet up with Mary and her guy at the famous Caroline’s on Broadway.  Here is a partial list of the comedians who have performed there:  Jerry Seinfeld, Jay Leno, Chris Rock, Jon Stewart, Robin Williams, and on and on.  Joe, a professional wrestler whom Christina had become acquainted with via Twitter, was also supposed to be there.

The plan was that the ladies would hang out with Joe and us guys would busy ourselves talking about guy stuff, like this.  But since Mary wasn’t going to make it, I told Christina that she should go ahead on her own.  It took her way too long to get a cab, but it finally showed up and she headed off to New York City.  I headed to bed.

Travel note:  seriously, how does a NYC cabbie get lost going to Times Square?  Of course, NYC is pretty big:  The world in a city : traveling the globe through the neighborhoods of the new New York.

Match 3:  Two giant guys collide! One of them is Ryback, who is over 6 feet and almost 300 pounds, and the other is Mark Henry, legitimately billed as The World’s Strongest Man.  Some of the weightlifting records that Henry set back in the 90s still stand today.

Speaking of records, most of you probably envision Les Miserables and War and Peace as huge tomes. You’d be correct; both books are over 1400 pages. The record holder for the longest book goes to In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust, though – it’s 4211 pages in seven volumes. That’s almost three times the size of War and Peace and Les Miserables.

Friday, Day 4:  My day started with the hotel phone ringing.  It was my wife, who was still in the city and wanted a ride back.  The cab had been very expensive, and especially after emergency car repairs we weren’t exactly flushed with disposable cash.  So I grabbed a stray bottle of 5 Hour Energy and my keys and headed out for my first venture into New York City.  Yes, my first time was driving into the city on a weekday morning!

My route took me through the Lincoln Tunnel, which has a $13 toll.  Luckily I had enough cash on me, because they don’t take debit cards at toll booths.  (There is a business idea for someone.)

Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.
Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.

Once you come out of the tunnel there is a large intersection where all traffic laws seem to be suspended.  I made sure to follow one of my personal driving laws (yield for bus) and made it through.  I was amused by the guy in the red car who blasted away on his horn at the taxi and bus in front of him.  He was a prime example of an exercise in futility.  The woman in the car with him did not seem amused.

Once I cleared the Intersection of Doom successfully, and without making a wrong turn, I discovered something very interesting about driving in NYC.  The streets are laid out in grids and and are numbered in a sensible fashion.  Very different than driving in, say, downtown Atlanta.  With good directions I had no problem finding my way.  And thankfully no toll in the tunnel coming back out.

By now I am sure you are all wondering about Christina’s adventures in the city.  Well, by the time she got there Caroline’s was closed.  Luckily Joe was still about and the two of them strolled around.  Some people might ask me, hey, weren’t you worried about your wife walking about NYC after midnight?  And the answer is no, not particularly.  The Times Square area is not notably dangerous, plus she was accompanied by a rather large man.  She was pretty safe.

So they wandered along to a bar which wasn’t letting anyone else in since closing time was coming up.  But the doorman actually recognized Joe and let them in any way for a drink on the house!  Yay!  And as these things tend to go, people were met, conversations engaged, and now as a larger group they closed down the bar and headed out in search of pizza.  Being NYC it is totally normal to expect to find an open pizza place in the middle of the night.  And they did.  And before you know it, it is 7:00 am, Joe is heading back to his hotel, and Christina’s feet are aching and she decides to forego the cab fare.  And I get to be the hero who rides in to her rescue!  Well, okay, she didn’t actually need rescuing, but it was still a mighty feat to drive into the city as I did.

The rest of the day was spent largely waiting to see if we would be able to drive down to Philly to visit Mary in the hospital, but that didn’t work out.  So we went and saw the excellent Evil Dead remake, watched SmackDown, and called it a night.

Travel note:  we had lunch at Anthony’s, a surprisingly large chain of pizza places that was within walking distance of the hotel.  First thing they said was that they only do thin crust pizzas in their coal-fired ovens.  We said excellent!  Also, they had dark beer on tap, which seems a bit of a rarity in NJ, in my limited experience.  Wish I could make pizza like that.

Match 4:  We were excited to see Daniel Bryan and Kane (better known as Team Hell No) in tag team action. We got to see them at a house show back in November, but seeing them defend their titles successfully was pretty awesome.

Team Hell No is fun because it involves a huge scary guy in a mask and a smaller, bearded “goat face” guy going around demanding hugs. It’s all because they were forced to undergo anger management classes and the results were…interesting.

Photo by Christina Wilder
Kane makes his presence felt

If you’re having your own problems with conflict resolution, you can always search “conflict” under Subject in our catalog. My favorite title would be “Since strangling isn’t an option: dealing with difficult people – common problems and uncommon solutions” by Sandra A. Crowe. Or you can be like Kane and go around wearing a mask, demanding that people “hug it out” with you.

Saturday, Day 5:  Another day spent waiting around.  Everyone was very keen on a hospital visit, but things like “minimally invasive back surgery” (I may be mis-remembering the actual procedure) kept getting in the way.  Mary also wanted to let us use her Wrestlemania tickets, since they were presumably better seats than ours.  Believe me, that was not a big concern of ours at the time.  But in the end again no visit.  Bummer.

There was one interesting thing that happened on Saturday, though.  The opening mechanism for the trunk of the car broke.  At least the trunk was empty of anything important at the time.  Turns out this happens with some frequency to this model.  There is more than one video on YouTube about how to fix it.

Travel note:  I find most hotel or motel showers to be subpar.  There always seems to be an issue with them being too small, or not enough hot water, or some oddly configured curtain system that ensures you will flood the bathroom floor.  But the shower in this room was great.  Decent size, great water pressure, and plenty of hotness.  The term “hotness”, in this case, applies equally to the water and my wife.  Of course the toilet was a good six inches higher than they usually are.  Heads in beds : a reckless memoir of hotels, hustles, and so-called hospitality .

Match 5: Wrestling is an interesting business and often becomes surreal. Case in point: Fandango. His gimmick, or wrestling persona, is one of a ballroom dancer who flips out if you mispronounce his name. In his Wrestlemania debut, he fought and won against Chris Jericho, a wrestling veteran and one of my all time favorites.

Photo by Christina Wilder
Chris Jericho fires the crowd up before battling Fandango. The close up at the top right is one of the 20 giant screens at MetLife Stadium.

Fandango winning in his first match at Wrestlemania is an impressive debut. Some other people who have had impressive debuts: V.C. Andrews with Flowers in the Attic, William Gibson with Neuromancer, and Ian Fleming with Casino Royale, the first book to feature James Bond. If you want to peruse through other literary debuts, Wikipedia has an impressive list, sorted alphabetically by title.

Stay tuned for Part 2, coming your way in two weeks!

Use this link to find a complete list of all the titles mentioned in this blog:;page=0;locg=155;depth=0

(Edited 11/3/14 to fix/replace broken links and to correct typos.)

Horace Kephart – Writer, Outdoorsman, National Park Activist…Librarian?

By Jeff

This past weekend in Bryson City, the town celebrated the life of  Horace Kephart (1862-1931), who made Swain County his home away from home.  Kephart, for those who don’t know, was the writer of Our Southern Highlanders (1913) and Camping and Woodcraft (1918), two works that are, after nearly a century, still in print.  Kephart Days, as the celebration has been called for the past three years, features noted historians, outdoorsmen, musicians, a luncheon, “interpretive camping” (don’t ask me, I missed this one) and more.

Kephart, who was known as “Kep” to his local friends, was instrumental, along with photographer George Masa,  in getting the Great Smoky Mountains a name change – adding the words “National Park” to its title.  The struggles to create this national park has been documented in many places, but most recently in Ken Burns’ The National Parks: America’s Best Idea series (episode four) on PBS.

Though Kephart is now revered for his many accomplishments, I proudly remind folks (those who will listen) that before he was the “Dean of American Camping,” he had humble beginnings as an academic and LIBRARIAN.  To be honest, humble beginnings doesn’t really paint an accurate picture of his first profession, he was actually quite ambitious.  He was a librarian at both Cornell and Yale before accepting a position as the head the St. Louis Mercantile Library – a major American research library – in 1890 (all this before he reached the age of 30).

If you are interested in learning more about Horace Kephart and his accomplishments, many of his writings can be found in our libraries.  Also during the month of May, the Marianna Black Library’s display case will be filled with rare books (including a first edition print of Our Southern Highlanders) and artifacts (including Horace Kephart’s own Snake-stick).  And if you’re going to make a trip to Bryson City to see the display, you should also make the short trip from the library to the Bryson City cemetery to see Kephart’s grave (which identifies him as a “scholar, author and outdoorsman,” but misses the “L” word).

One last thing, and this is not Kephart related, if you are and artist or craftsperson or have a collection you’d like to see in one of our library display cases, please be sure to talk to your local librarian.  We are always looking for interesting pieces to display.

Bryson City

By Faye

A plane just crashed in the mountainous area of Alarka in Swain County. All eighty eight people on board are presumed dead. Numerous body parts are discovered around the perimeter of the plane.

No, this is not a news flash but the topic of Kathy Reichs’ book Fatal Voyage.

If you are familiar with Bryson City you will recognize many of the places and people mentioned in this excellent book.

Kathy is just one in many that has written about Swain County.

We also have many local authors:

Renea Winchester is a native who just published, In the Garden with Billy. This nonfiction story is about friendship with Billy Albertson a 77-year-old goat farmer.

George Ellison and Elizabeth Ellison form an outstanding team as author and illustrator in several books. One of my favorites is Blue Ridge Nature Notes: Selections from Blue Ridge Nature Journal.

The three volumes of Bryson City Tales by Walter Larimore rarely stay on the shelf at the library. These are stories of his career as a small town doctor in Bryson City.

Swain County also has it share of movies filmed here. The latest one is Road to Nowhere, directed by Monte Hellman. No, it’s not about the controversial road issue. It is a romantic thriller starring  Shannyn Sossamon, and Dominique Swain. You may recognize scenes of the old Swain County jail that was recently demolished, the tunnel, cemeteries and Fontana Lake.

My Fellow Americans, starring James Garner and Jack Lemmon, is an excellent movie to watch. Nantahala Land of the Noonday Sun and Hiking on Hazel Creek are also great movies to watch about the area.

For a complete listing  of these and so many more check out the Swain County Chamber of Commerce page.

Civil War Fiction and Motion Pictures

By Stephen

In my last blog I mentioned the one hundred fiftieth anniversary of the American Civil War would start  next year.   The subject of that blog was non-fiction books in the Fontana Regional Library system pertaining to the civil war .  This time I want to mention novels and movies set in the same conflict.

First to read on many people’s  list would be the classic Red Badge of Courage.  Stephen Crane’s book, first published in 1895,  has been in print ever since.   The movie version starred a real Medal of Honor hero, Audie  Murphy

Margaret Mitchell’s classic southern novel Gone With the Wind  shows the effect of the war on southern civilians, especially during Sherman’s march to the sea through Georgia.  This book was also the source for the epic motion picture starring Vivian Leigh and Clark Gable.

Before  Shelby Foote wrote his massive narrative history of the Civil War, he published a short novel, Shiloh.  The story portrays soldiers of both sides  in the bloodiest battle of war at that time.

Other modern novelists have taken America’s internal dispute as the setting for their books.  The Shaaras, Michael, the father, and Jeff, the son, have combined on a Civil War saga that started with Michael’s Killer Angels.  This book  was adapted for the screen with the title Gettysburg:  Gods and Generals. After his father’s untimely death, Jeff Shaara completed the series by publishing Gods and Generals and The Last Full Measure.

Noted historical novelist Bernard Cornwell has contributed to the fictional bibliography of the Civil War.  The Starbuck Chronicles includes Rebel, Copperhead, Battle Flag, and The Bloody Ground.

PBS’s Jim Lehrer is an accomplished novelist as well as a well-known news anchor.  One of Lehrer’s novels No Certain Rest has as its setting Antietam National Military Park in the present and the battle in the past.

William R. Trotter has written two civil war novels: The Sands of Pride and The Fires of Pride  are a fictional account of the war in eastern North Carolina.  Trotter is also the author of  the non-fiction trilogy The Civil War in North Carolina.

Trotter’s non-fiction examination of  the Civil War in the mountains of West North Carolina became the basis of Charles Frazier’s novel Cold Mountain, which was later made into a movie.   Unfortunately, Romania stood in for Western North Carolina, but the fratricidal aspect of the war in the mountains still stood out.

In addition those already mentioned, the list of motion pictures set in the Civil War is endless. My favorite is a John Ford-John Wayne collaboration, The Horse Soldiers.  Based on Grierson’s cavalry raid through Mississippi to Baton Rouge in 1863, this classic also stars William Holden.

Glory, the story of the heroism of the first Union all black volunteer unit,  54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry,  and their white commander fighting the Confederates as well as prejudice in the Union army.

If you are an Elvis Presley fan, his movie Love Me Tender is set in this period.

Two made for television movies about the Civil War period,  The Colt   and Lincoln, have been released in one DVD .    The latter is based on Carl Sandburg’s portrait of the president, the former is taken from a short story about a colt born in the midst of a battle.

See your librarian for other fiction titles and movies set in the Civil War.

Happy Halloween!

Image: Salvatore Vuono /

By Deb

From Ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggity beasties and things that go bump in the night, Good Lord deliver us. – Scottish prayer.

Around this time of year there are countless blogs, articles, and news stories about how Halloween came to be a holiday tradition, particularly here in the United States.  I expect that most of us have read or heard them before.  So, instead of dwelling on the history let’s just enjoy the day.  Kids (and grownups) love to dress up in costumes and pretend to be someone else; and who doesn’t love to get treats.  When the parties are over, costumes are put away, and the kids are safe and sound at home, with a bag full of goodies, we all seem to love a good ghost story or scary tale.  Authors, poets, musicians, playwrights, and film-makers have been happily turning out spooky fare since long before Halloween came around.  There are some names we all associate with the spirit of the holiday – Edgar Allan Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, Stephen King, to name a few.  But there are some classic “Halloween” quotes from some less expected sources.  Here are a few:

“A house is never still in darkness to those who listen intently; there is a whispering in distant chambers, an unearthly hand presses the snib of the window, the latch rises. Ghosts were created when the first man awoke in the night.”    – From The Little Minister by J.M. Barrie

Men say that in this midnight hour,

The disembodièd have power

To wander as it liketh them,

By wizard oak and fairy stream.

–          From “Midnight and Moonshine” by William Motherwell

Hark! Hark to the wind! ‘Tis the night, they say,

When all souls come back from the far away-

The dead, forgotten this many a day!

–          From “Hallowe’en” by Virna Sheard

‘Tis now the very witching time of night,

When churchyards yawn and hell itself breathes out

Contagion to this world.

–          From Hamlet by William Shakespeare

Of course, here in North Carolina we have more than enough ghosts and haints to keep us awake all Halloween night.  So, Happy Halloween, and many scary returns!