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Interview with Gail Godwin about Grief Cottage

Started by Rob Neufeld in AC-T Book Reviews Aug 3, 2017.

Ellington in Asheville--a survey

Started by Rob Neufeld in Local History Oct 6, 2017.

Dave Minneman, heroic portrait

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Rob Neufeld posted discussions
Nancy Sutton replied to Rob Neufeld's discussion Metamorphoses
"Poignant in so many ways!   "
Oct 3
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion


Metamorphoses (Part of Living Poem)Hear audio: Metamorphoses%20181004_0192.MP3 So Apollo committed the first rape.He’d come back from exterminating Python,The Bane of Humanity, now his arrow-victim,And stopped to mock…See More
Oct 2
Joan Henehan replied to Joan Henehan's discussion on Reading Living Poem
"Fantastic, that will be very helpful."
Sep 22
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

First Drumbeat

First Drumbeat(Part of Living Poem) The time has come.Call it a drum,Or a crumb,What’s left of life. I used to tell a jokeWhen my life was wide,And I was a stud,And not a dud—I knowI’m not a dud.  I’m a dude,A dad.  But everyone mustRebut the dud chargeAt summing up time. Oh yeah, the joke,A trademark one for meIn that it’s not funny. I used to say I’ll never retireFrom writingBecause if I’m ever…See More
Sep 22
Rob Neufeld replied to Joan Henehan's discussion on Reading Living Poem
"Thanks for the prompt, Joan!  I have attached the whole work in progress as a doc at the bottom of the table of contents page:"
Sep 22
Joan Henehan replied to Joan Henehan's discussion on Reading Living Poem
"Is there a way from this website to print everything or might you send me such a document to"
Sep 22
Julia Nunnally Duncan posted an event

Julia Nunnally Duncan at Marion Branch McDowell County Public Library

October 24, 2018 from 4pm to 5pm
Julia Nunnally Duncan will be launching her new poetry collection A Neighborhood Changes (Finishing Line Press, 2018) at a book presentation and signing to be held at the McDowell County Public Library in Marion on October 24.See More
Sep 21
Rob Neufeld replied to Joan Henehan's discussion on Reading Living Poem
"This could be interesting--thanks!  I'm at 828-505-1973 (my home business office).  And"
Sep 20
Joan Henehan replied to Joan Henehan's discussion on Reading Living Poem
"I'll ask the kids, Barb and Ethan, if they have any contacts who might have an interest in this as a unique topic for any performers they know. It might also be something that my friend Ruby Lerner could brainstorm about to her theatre…"
Sep 19
Rob Neufeld replied to Joan Henehan's discussion on Reading Living Poem
"Thanks much, Joan!  I'm trying to get some attention for these poems.  Triple Whammy is def in rap style.  And the beat goes on.  Hugs from me and Bev."
Sep 19
Joan Henehan posted a discussion

on Reading Living Poem

You might be the first ALS-subject-matter rapper. Add some beats and spread it. the time is now...See More
Sep 15
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

More from the World of ALS

More from the World of ALS (Part of Living Poem)    Negotiating steps is like someone who seeksTo emulate a goat on mountain peaks. Crossing a threshold, limping inIs like the valley-walking of an Olympian. A cane and its grip make a fellow stopTo consider the physics of leans and drops. To know how a forefinger grabs and digsImagine your digits are chestnut twigs When a new drug trial notably…See More
Sep 6
Nancy Werking Poling posted a discussion


RANDALL KENAN SELECTS NANCY WERKING POLING WINNER OF THE 2018 ALEX ALBRIGHT CREATIVE NONFICTION PRIZE(31 August 2018)Nancy Werking Poling of Black Mountain is the winner of the 2018 Alex Albright Creative Nonfiction Prize competition for "Leander’s Lies." Poling will receive $1000 from the North Carolina Literary Review, thanks to a generous NCLR reader’s donation that allowed this year’s honorarium to increase (from the previous award of $250). Her winning essay will be published in the North…See More
Sep 4
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Sep 4
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Upcoming Rides

Upcoming Rides(Part of Living Poem) I must take a break from writing aboutThe third Lord Granville’s loss of landIn colonial North Carolina to noteI’m losing functionality in my hands. I’m confining my writing to a four-line,Alternate rhyme form, like a horse-fenceFraming a pantomimeOf equine force.  Hence, It’s time to imagine the power of mind,For instance, when a nod or thoughtInstructs a machine to…See More
Aug 26

Amnesiac in the mountains made big news

by Rob Neufeld


            Our public libraries now make available to us, online, the “New York Times,” 1851-2009. 

            Following New York eyes on the mountains, we unearth the mystery of 1932, which may still be familiar to some people in Swain County.

            The disappearance of Col. Raymond Robins—Prohibitionist, evangelical Christian, Teddy Roosevelt Republican, and social aid provider to the Soviet Union—stirred up two months of speculation in the national press, as well as a lot of talk among the 400 residents of Whittier, where Robins was finally found, apparently the victim of amnesia.

            Robins had been on his way from the City Club in Manhattan to a talk with President Herbert Hoover at the White House on Sept. 3, when he fell off the face of the earth.  Both liquor rings and Russian imperialists were suspected of kidnapping him.

            Finally, Carl Byrd Fisher, a Whittier lad, identified him from a photo in the national newspaper, “Grit.” 

That’s what certain Whittier residents argued, anyway.  Others insisted the town barber had first recognized him; and some official accounts credited two Federal agents.


Back of beyond


            Robins “had always disliked crowds and had always been fond of getting away by himself and enjoying the solitude to be found in communing with nature,” his nephew, John Dreier, told reporters after Robins had been transferred to Appalachian Hall, an asylum in Kenilworth. 

            The story reminds us of the great outdoorsman, writer, and National Park advocate, Horace Kephart, who’d left wife and kids to commune with nature in Swain County a generation earlier.

            When told by Dr. Mark Griffin at Appalachian Hall that his wife was coming to see him, Robins, according to the “New York Times,” “begged him not to let her do so; saying she was not his wife.”  He didn’t want to hurt her feelings.

            Who was he then?  He was Raymond Rogers, a mining engineer from Kentucky, he kept telling people, and he was looking for precious metals.  He’d ditched his New York suit, donned overalls and a khaki shirt, and grown a beard.

            It seemed like a regression to his life before marriage, for he’d spent his early childhood in Kentucky; started a phosphate mining company at age 17; and had undergone a conversion to Christianity in Alaska, where he’d been a prospector during the Klondike gold rush in 1897.


It’s me, Margaret


            When Mrs. Robins arrived, it took three visits and a hand-holding before her husband looked at her and called her by her first name, Margaret.

            There had been times in Chicago, the Robins family’s hometown, Mrs. Robins and Dreier admitted, when Robins had dressed in workers’ clothes and mingled with the laborers to know their thinking.  Once, gangsters, allegedly hired by political opponents, slugged him and left him for dead.

            But he had never before failed to tell his wife where he was going.

            Robins’ disappearance this time had preceded his wife’s birthday by two days, yet it seems that his marriage to her was only one part of his need to detach himself from his life.  Before coming to New York, he had been recuperating at his summer home near Bar Harbor, Maine, after spending the previous year touring 286 cities making speeches in favor of Prohibition.

            Once Robins recovered, hospital staff shaved his beard and gave him city clothes.  Tabloid photographers were disappointed, and offered big money for exclusive interviews and pre-shave photos of Robins.

            Glenn McHan, son of the owner of the boarding house at which Robins had stayed, wanted $500 for a bearded photo of Robins that he had, but it was rejected because the sun had put Robins’ face in the shade.

            Tabloid writers tried to draw a lurid connection between Robins and McHan’s 19-year-old sister, Wilma, who went on walks with Robins, but always with a group.

            Upon full recovery, Robins returned to his social work and speech-making activities; and urged F.D.R. to recognize the Soviet Union.  It was hard being effective; his amnesia incident would not be forgotten. 

Then, in 1935, Robins fell from a tree and was paralyzed below the waist.  He lived 19 more years, and died at age 81 of heart failure.


Raymond Robins, Bain News Service photo, c. 1915, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division        

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Fascinating history-I've never heard the story before!

Rob--Although I haven't checked, I suspect there would be considerable coverage of this saga in the local Swain County newspaper, The Smoky Mountain Times (or possibly it went by the title of Bryson City Times at that juncture), if you wanted to check. I knew of this story but have never checked into it in any detail.

Jim Casada


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