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East Asheville history and sites

Started by Rob Neufeld in Local History Feb 27.

The German experience settling WNC 1 Reply

Started by Rob Neufeld in Local History. Last reply by Scott Dockery Feb 16.

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City Lights Bookstore posted events
Aug 12
Glenda Council Beall posted a photo

FullSizeRender Lexie in the pillows

This is my little Lexie, a chihuahua mix who is tiny but so sweet. Here she is trying to sleep under my pillows. She is a burrower. Makes a great watch dog because she has a fierce bark.
Aug 10
Glenda Council Beall posted an event

Tribute to Kathryn Stripling Byer at Jackson County Public Library, Sylva, NC

October 1, 2017 from 2pm to 4pm
On October 1, Sunday afternoon, 2 PM, at Jackson County  Library in the Community Room, NCWN and NCWN-West will honor the late Poet Laureate, Kathryn S. Byer . Everyone is invited to come. We will share her poetry and talk about her achievements and her legacy for writers and poets in NC. If Kay touched your life in some way, come and pay tribute to her. We all miss her and this is a way to share our mourning for losing her and show our appreciation for what she did for us. See More
Aug 10
Glenda Council Beall commented on Glenda Council Beall's photo
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WRITERS CIRCLE IN SPRING

"On Saturday, September 9, 10:30 a.m., Richard Kraweic will teach a class at Writers Circle. He will teach how to organize a poetry book for publication. I know I need to learn that lesson. How about you?"
Aug 10
Glenda Council Beall commented on Glenda Council Beall's photo
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WRITERS CIRCLE IN SPRING

"We have a memoir class going on now until the first Wednesday in September. Wish you could join us in a class at Writers Circle around the Table."
Aug 10
Rob Neufeld's discussion was featured

East Asheville history and sites

A meaningful tour of East Asheville PHOTO CAPTION: View of Beverly Hills suburb, from a painting by Gibson Catlett that had once hung at subdivision offices.  Courtesy Special Collection, Ramsey Library, UNC Asheville.            I was walking in the Beverly Hills neighborhood the other day and noticed a few…See More
Aug 3
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Interview with Gail Godwin about Grief Cottage

Gail Godwin’s latest crosses a mental boundary by Rob Neufeld Asheville author Gail Godwin, now a Woodstock, NY resident, comes back home here Wed., June 14 to present her new novel, “Grief Cottage” at Malaprop’s Bookstore, 7 p.m. “Grief Cottage” is the story of an orphaned, sensitive, troubled boy, named…See More
Aug 3
Julia Nunnally Duncan posted an event

Julia Nunnally Duncan Poetrio reading at Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe

August 6, 2017 from 3pm to 4pm
Julia Nunnally Duncan will be a featured Poetrio poet at Malaprop's Bookstore/Café on Sunday, August 6, at 3 p.m. Julia will be reading from her new book A Part of Me. Fred Chappell says of A Part of Me: "Duncan's every reader will be reminded of some person, place, or time important to recall in a quiet hour."See More
Jul 28
Nancy Werking Poling posted an event

Nancy Werking Poling at Pack Library, downtown Asheville

August 9, 2017 from 12:30pm to 1:30pm
Nancy Werking Poling will read from her new book, Before It Was Legal: a black-white marriage (1945-1987).The Winters' forty-two-year marriage spanned key historical periods of the 20th century and took them from Indiana to Mexico City. Freed from U.S. racism, Daniel felt "as Mexican as chile verde." Meanwhile, Anna, a reserved white woman who struggled with speaking Spanish, experienced no similar sense of liberation. Before It Was Legal is not a happily-ever-after story, but an honest…See More
Jul 12
City Lights Bookstore posted events
Jul 4
City Lights Bookstore posted events
Jul 1
City Lights Bookstore posted events
Jun 29
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Gail Godwin full interview for Grief Cottage event

Gail Godwin talks about Grief Cottage            Asheville author Gail Godwin, now a Woodstock, NY resident, comes back home here Wed., June 14 to present her new novel, “Grief Cottage” at Malaprop’s Bookstore, 7 p.m.             “Grief Cottage” is the story of an orphaned, sensitive, troubled boy, named…See More
Jun 13
Jack J. Prather posted a blog post

First Woman NC Poet Laureate's Biography

A Biography of Late NC Poet Laureate Kathryn Stripling Byerin Hendersonville Author's Six Notable Women of North CarolinaA biography of the late Kathryn Stripling "Kay" Byer of Cullowhee, the first woman and longest-serving (2005-2009) Poet Laureate in the state, is featured in Six Notable Women of North Carolina by Jack J. Prather of Hendersonville, founder of the Young Writers Scholarship at Warren Wilson College. The 43-page biography includes poems selected by the poet who passed away on…See More
Jun 9
Julia Nunnally Duncan posted an event

Julia Nunnally Duncan at Marion Community Building

June 17, 2017 from 10am to 3pm
Julia Nunnally Duncan will be a featured author at the McDowell County 2017 Local Author Festival at the Marion Community Building in downtown Marion on Saturday, June 17 from 10-3. The event is sponsored by the McDowell County Public Library and is free and open to the public.See More
Jun 6
Short-short Stories & Riddles posted a blog post

Mom's has-been groove in ghost-boy novel

Marcus, in Gail Godwin’s new novel, Grief Cottage, recalls his friendship with Wheezer, whom he’d once beaten up at school because Wheezer had exposed Marcus’ shameful secret about his mom.  Now Marcus, age 10, is an orphan.  His dad has always been unknown to him; and his mom has just died in a car accident. Relocated to his aunt’s beach house, Marcus, despite the safety of the place, finds himself in trouble. He’s communicating with a ghost.  He’s having dreams about a non-existent older…See More
Jun 3

NINA SIMONE: ABOUT THE BIO, AND ABOUT HER TRYON CHILDHOOD

See also the websites: The Eunice Waymon Birthplace; and the Eunice Waymon - Nina Simone Memorial Project.

 

New biography of Nina Simone puts her Tryon upbringing in larger light
by Rob Neufeld

“Dry Cleaning and Pressing—Called for and Delivered,” John Davan Waymon, an African American entrepreneur, advertised in a March 1929 issue of the “Tryon Daily Bulletin.” He had just moved to town from the Greenville-Spartanburg area, sensing that Tryon’s two grand hotels and four gas stations bode well for business.

When his rented home burned down a couple of years later, he and his wife, Kate, moved with their five children to a small home on East Livingston Street. A piano near the entrance burst with song, mostly sacred because Kate had become a minister in the St. Luke CME church. The first child born in that house, now preserved as a historic site, was Eunice Waymon, later known as Nina Simone, the iconic singer, pianist, and activist.

“When she was eight months old, my daughter hummed ‘Down by the Riverside’ and ‘Jesus Loves Me,’” Eunice’s mother recalled. At age two-and-a-half, Eunice played a hymn on the organ at church, and at age ten she was its regular organist. Her siblings adored her, reports Nadine Cohodas, author of the new biography, “Princess Noire: The Tumultuous Reign of Nina Simone.”

The rumblings that presaged the anger that Nina Simone would feel at the contrast between her favored life and the Jim Crow South shook her world on occasion. Her school principal, LeRoy Wells, dismayed by the separate-but-not-equal condition of the Tryon Colored School, hired men to burn it down. He was caught afterward, and went to prison. A new school was built, as the law dictated.

Eunice’s awareness of segregation was moderated by Tryon’s free interaction among the races, as long as certain lines weren’t crossed. Her oldest brother, John, worked on an integrated crew to build a bowling alley from which African Americans would be excluded.

Katherine Miller, a new resident of a tony Gillette Woods home, took notice of the daughter of her housekeeper, Kate Waymon, and paid for Eunice to take piano lessons with Muriel Harrington Mazzanovich, who lived across the street. At her first lesson, Eunice played Bach on a Weber grand.

After the first year, another transplant, Esther Moore, joined with Miller to create the “Eunice Waymon Fund.” “Sometime in 1944,” Cohodas tells the legendary story, “after Eunice had turned eleven, Miss Mazzy (as her teacher was called) arranged for her to give a recital, probably in the main room of the Lanier Library.” It was a whites-only event, but Eunice’s parents were invited.

When Eunice, at the piano, noticed her mom and dad being ushered from front seats to the back row, “Eunice spoke up. If anyone expected her to play, she told the audience, they better let her parents sit right where she could see them. The host, perhaps startled by this outburst, obliged.”

Earlier published story
Nina Simone’s talent was the product of genius and Tryon’s intentions

by Rob Neufeld

Fred Counts remembers walking down from Cemetery Side (also called Eastside) in Tryon with his friend, Eunice Waymon, in the early 1940s to buy sodas at Owen's Pharmacy. “I don’t think we serve the same God,” said Eunice, who later gained fame as Nina Simone, internationally lionized singer, pianist, and songwriter. “They (the white customers) can sit under the Casablanca fans,” she noted, “and we have to keep walking to drink our sodas.”

In a 1997 interview, Simone, an expatriate in France, said that she remained a rebel with a cause, the cause being “the direct equality of my people around the world.” A couple of years later, she returned to Tryon for her mother’s funeral. Suffering with the cancer that killed her in 2003, Simone barricaded herself within her security guards.

The guards stopped Counts on his way to visit Simone, but she admitted him. He advised her to have no regrets about the past. “You had the talent to go to the top, and the character to stay there for more than forty years,” he said. “We who fought racism got more relief from it than those who hid away.”

Counts was, among other things, a celebrated Tryon Allstars shortstop who, because of segregation, had gotten no shot at the major leagues. Today, he serves as an inspiring presenter of programs about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and African-American poets.

The sharpness of Simone’s convictions may be due to the contrast of hurtful times and good times that she experienced. The view from Simone’s hilltop childhood home (presently undergoing historic preservation) reveals a community nestling within view. The Waymon’s 22-by-26 foot house, presided over by two admired parents, had resonated with joyful organ music.

At age three, Eunice, sixth child of eight, proved to be a piano prodigy; and at age six, performed hymns in the St. Luke CME Church, where her mother was minister. At a church on Peake Street, Simone discovered African rhythms. In her autobiography, “I Put a Spell on You,” she confided, “I took to going to the Holiness services every week just to get into that beat.”

Tryon’s colony of artists and reformers latched onto Eunice with love. Tom Moore remembers how his mother, Esther Moore, Eunice’s mother’s friend and employer, paid for Eunice’s piano lessons. Every day for six years, the girl walked two miles to her tutor, Mrs. Mazzanovich, to embrace classical composers and classic composure.

“Tryon’s white people wanted to make her (Nina) into the Marian Anderson of concert pianists,” says Mike McCue, author of “Tryon Artists 1892-1942.”

At age eleven, Eunice gave a concert at Lanier Library and underwent the shame of seeing her parents moved from the front row to the back. It stung her bad.

“The racial climate of Tryon was more complex than I had thought,” says acclaimed biographer Nadine Cohodas, who’s working on a book on Simone. For Simone, circumscribed by music, family, and Tryon’s patronage, the specter of Jim Crow was a shock.

While contracting as a caterer in the home of Esther Moore in Tryon, Mary Kate Waymon served as a minister in the St. Luke C.M.E. Church in Eastside, a nearby African-American neighborhood. She had two lives: one rooted in tradition; the other adapted to the wealthy, progressive, white community that had colonized Tryon in the late nineteenth century.

Moore treated Waymon with dignity and, recognizing the prodigal talent of Waymon’s daughter, Eunice, paid for her to take piano lessons with another cultural import, Muriel Mazzanovich, English wife of a Croatian-Italian painter. From this connection emerged Nina Simone, Eunice’s stage name when she started pursuing musical fame up north several years later.

Mary Kate Waymon was good friends with Della Hayden Davenport Jackson, a teacher and civic leader from Stony Knoll, five miles from Tryon. Jackson attended Waymon’s church.

Della had been the first member of her family, in 1923, to attend high school, traveling to Allen School in Asheville. She later attended and graduated from N.C. Central College in Durham, returned home to teach, and, in 1937, established the Stony Knoll Community Library, still a bulwark of African-American heritage.

Della’s daughter, Evelyn Petty, who now runs the library, recalls her mother’s activism as well as the effects of the rich white community on the rural population. “My aunt,” says Petty, “worked in Tryon for Carter Brown,” Pine Crest Inn proprietor and the horseman who introduced foxhunting to the area. “She stayed on the premises most of the time. When she came home, she brought presents and told us how to do things properly.”

With the special relationship between white and black residents, Tryon took a step ahead of other communities in the South by incorporating segregated schools into a consolidated system as early as the 1930s. The African-American schools received support; still, the racial divide cut deep.

Mamie Thompson Gumbs, Curator of the MaimyEtta Black Historical Society and Museum in Forest City, played basketball with Eunice Waymon in the early 1940s—on outside courts even in snow, for they had no access to indoor ones. Eunice never spoke of the patronage she was getting from Mrs. Moore and others. “Everything was like a secret,” Gumbs says. No one wanted to endanger white folks who were helping.

Theresa Price Bennings, Forest City native, studied Bible under Eunice’s mother, Mary Kate, and led a parallel life to Eunice. When she was six, a white stranger insulted Bennings for drinking from a fountain in a park her father was cleaning. It hurt bad. Like Eunice, Bennings went to New York to make a living when she reached maturity; and like her, she had spunk. Wanting to get beyond her postal clerk job and sweltering Bronx walk-up, Benning went to see the mayor, Robert Wagner.

“Your Honor,” Bennings said, “I come from North Carolina and believe I can be an asset to your city.” Wagner found her an apartment in grassy Throgs Neck; and secured her a scholarship to Baruch College.

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