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Lockie Hunter posted an event
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Juniper Bends Reading Series! at Downtown Books and News

August 1, 2014 from 7pm to 9pm
Join us Friday August 1st for a FREE evening of poetry and prose featuring  Catherine Reid Charles Dodd White Elaine Bleakney Dalton Day Drew Benbow  and hosted by Lockie Hunter, Robert Reid Drake and Dana Middleton Wine by donation. Reading is Free. Book signing to follow!See More
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Poetrio, 3pm Malaprops' Book Store August 3rd at Malaprops' Book Store and Cafe

August 3, 2014 from 3pm to 5pm
Join us for our monthly series of readings and signings by 3 poets at 3 pm! This month will feature Janice Moore Fuller (On the Bevel), Laurence Avery (Mountain Gravity), and Ron Moran (Tree in the Mind).Mountain Gravity celebrates the North Carolina Blue Ridge Mountains with poems that are erudite and accessible at once, and that describe the history of the mountains and the tangible experiences of immersing in the incomparable beauty one discovers there. Mountain Gravity, is the debut…See More
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Appalachian Culture Through Song and Memoir at City Lights Bookstore

August 8, 2014 from 6:30pm to 8pm
Join us at City Lights Bookstore on Friday, August 8th at 6:30 p.m. as Jeremy Jones explores the culture and history of the Blue Ridge Mountains through song and reading. Performing old-time banjo tunes and reading excerpts from his book Bearwallow: A Personal History of a Mountain Homeland, he presents the sounds and stories of his native Appalachian mountains in a blending of personal narrative and folklore. In Bearwallow, his first book, Jones turns his attention to the complex and rich…See More
Jul 26
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A Shelter of Others by Charles Dodd White

Mountain writer expresses a cry for countryby Rob Neufeld             There’s a scene in Charles Dodd White’s new novel, “A Shelter of Others,” in which a character topples twenty feet off a ledge in a national forest and is saved by some kind of “solid bulk” that interrupts his fall.            He has landed on a…See More
Jul 24
Michael Davenport replied to Rob Neufeld's discussion Q&A about Asheville water system and the current state initiative
"Nicely done, and informative. I look forward to part 2."
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Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo

Life among the poorest is eye-openerby Rob Neufeld             Enlightened and sobered by Katherine Boo’s account of political amorality and human behavior in “Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity,” I was also amazed by her narrative achievement.            The book is…See More
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Dave Turner posted a blog post

Does anyone need a good proofreader?

My company, Dave Turner Creative, has just Dave Turner Creative has formed a new partnership with expert proofreader Rebecca Lang. Here are her credentials, experience and specialties:http://daveturnercreative.com/proofreadingAll the best,Dave Turner, author of Billy Ray's…See More
Jul 2
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Book discussions in WNC, July 2014

WNC BOOK DISCUSSION CALENDAR, JULY 2014Tuesday, July 1WILD BOOK CLUB: The WILD Book Club discusses “The Interestings” by Meg Wolitzer at the Battery Park Book Exchange, 1 Page Ave., Asheville, 7 p.m. Call 254-6734.BOOK DISCUSSION: “A Tale for the Time Being” by Ruth Ozeki is the subject of a book discussion at the Weaverville…See More
Jun 28
City Lights Bookstore posted events
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City Lights Bookstore posted events
Jun 21

Asheville girls shaped Arthur Murray’s life

by Rob Neufeld

 

            Once upon a time, Asheville had been a dancing city.  Folk dancing and clogging persist in the mountains, but the hip dances in Southside joints and the ballroom dances downtown have become subjects for history.

            For the ballroom dancing, one figure and one place stand out: Arthur Murray at the old Battery Park Hotel, the Biltmore Estate-quality manor that had once sat atop a now-vanished hill.  (Battery Park Apartments now occupies the location.)

            In late 1914, as England was mounting its historic first aerial bombing on Germany, Arthur Murray, age nineteen, arrived at the Battery Park.  As a teen, he’d started dancing as a way of getting beyond his Jewish immigrant neighborhood, the Lower East Side in New York.  He discovered he had a gift.

            He won a waltz contest.  He taught at the Vernon and Irene Castle school.  Baroness de Kuttleson, an established dance teacher there, took him under her wing.  She advised him to lop off his last name, Teichman, because it sounded too German.  She took him to Asheville.  She charged his clients $50 per lesson, and pocketed $45 for herself.

            From all accounts, Murray—tall, foreign-looking, elegant, and a great dancer—had been a huge hit. 

            He grew a moustache.  “When Edith Vanderbilt saw him,” Jane Heimlich, his daughter, recounts, “she instructed him to take that fool thing off.  He was quick to do so.  She was one of his staunchest supporters, and often invited him to the Biltmore House to give lessons.”

            Heimlich, author of authoritative alternative medicine books and wife of surgeon Henry Heimlich, inventor of the Heimlich Maneuver, has just published a memoir, titled, “Out of Step.”  In it, she vividly recalls her father’s charm because of its connection to her mother’s suicide attempt.

            Her mother, Kathryn, whom Arthur had married in 1925, would go on to be as big a star as he on the TV show, “The Arthur Murray Party” (a popular variety show, on which young comic Johnny Carson had gotten his TV break).

            But in 1930, Arthur, who had already established a world famous dance-by-mail business, further wedded himself to his work by starting a chain of dance studios.  He travelled from his suburban home to his founding studio in Manhattan and spent days and nights with young female teachers and socialites.

            “The women were like the Southern girls that Arthur had admired so much in Asheville,” Heimlich writes. 

            Murray published a book, “The Secret of Popularity.”

            Kathryn, who had enjoyed the life of a flapper, but who did not dance, went to parties and drank bathtub gin, Heimlich relates.  A hired woman took care of the house, which included the Murrays’ twin daughters.  One night, Kathryn climbed out a window, dropped, and broke her spine.

            Asheville had its own tragic post-Crash jumps.  But in 1914, the city had been flying high.  The Great Gatsby, if he’d been here, would have been drawn to Battery Park Hotel dances like an outsider to the glow of the good life.

            Murray’s path to high society involved wooing rather than the takeover approach of the fictional Gatsby.  In 1914, charming Arthur received a letter from Edith Vanderbilt, who stated she was in charge of arrangements for the Christmas Ball.

            “Dear Mr. Murray,” she wrote, “I have been requested…to ask you if you would be kind enough to perform an exhibition dance at the ball tomorrow, Tuesday evening, Dec. 25.   I understand there is a young lady in Asheville who would dance with you, and I will ask you to please extend to her this invitation.”

            At future dances, Murray partnered with such local lasses as Misses Dorothy Lytle, Jeanette Hartzog, Doris Davenport, Louise Wise and Eustice Hudley.  On Saturday afternoons, he gave classes to children. 

            “To dance smartly, as society girls must,” Murray wrote in a brochure, “it is necessary to learn from well-bred teachers who are reared in an atmosphere of culture.”

SOURCES

Information in this article has been drawn from Jane Murray Heimlich’s new book, “Out of Step” (Orange Frazer Press); an interview with her; and “Encyclopedia of World Biography (Advameg).

 

PHOTO CAPTION

Arthur Murray poses with his wife Kathryn on the cover of their daughter Jane’s new book.

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I notice one of the local ladies who danced with Mr. Murray was Doris Davenport. I would assume this is the same lady who went on to marry Chester Pierce Munroe and lived for years on Edgemont Rd in Grove Park. Pack Library just received a collection of her papers last year which had ended up in the care of her neighbor after her death. The photo album, available online, is amazing and I can't wait to read the letters between her children, her end of the correspondence returned to her when they both died young.

 

http://tinyurl.com/47ro48q

 

http://history.abls.lib.nc.us/dbtw-wpd/abls/images/MS208_003%20Dori...

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