Monday, August 13, 2018

'Hey, bo, where you stay at?'

Along with natural beauty and resources, North Carolina is blessed with a host of unique dialects. Someone who grew up on, say, Ocracoke Island, is gonna talk a lot different than some from, say, the far reaches of western N.C. Heck, someone from Ocracoke is gonna speak different from someone from Wilmington, and those two locations are not far from each other at all.

Part of this variety in language and dialect comes from the fact that N.C. was influenced by a variety of cultures -- and continues to today. As more and more people continue to move into the state, those dialects and accents will shift like sandbars. And that's ok.

Our good friend Walt Wolfram over at NC State has documented the variety in accents through the years. In one of his latest posts, he writes about some uniquely North Carolina phrases and their origins. Terms like "North Cackalacky," "dingbatter" and "cattywampus."  Also glad to see "mash this button" gets a shout-out.

One of the ones he mentions is the "boot" of a car.  This is a term that my grandparents (Clinton, N.C.) have long used. Here is some more about the "boot" from Wolfram:

One of the well-known differences between British English and American English is the different terms for the primary storage area of a car. In America, it’s called a trunk and in England it’s a boot. Travelers to the Coastal Plain of North Carolina, however, may be surprised to find that rural residents in these areas also refer to it as a boot. From counties such as Bertie and Martin in the northern Coastal Plain to Brunswick and New Brunswick in the south, older residents may use the term boot to refer to what most Americans call a trunk. The residents did not travel to England to pick up the term; it’s simply an older form in English that was used to refer to the luggage compartment that often sat under the seat by the boots of the driver in horse-and-buggy times. Given the history of small, isolated rural communities in North Carolina, it stands to reason that it is a state that retains is fair share of “relic” dialect terms.

I've been thinking about some other terms that I grew up with (Dunn. N.C.). For one, the use of "hey, bo" (as a substitute for "hey, man" or "what's up?") was one that immediately came to mind. I was somewhat surprised a few years ago to see that this term has been turned into a line of outdoor clothing. I will say that this phrase appears to be unique to Caucasians, but I could be wrong about that.

Another phrase that I grew up hearing mostly from African Americans was "where you stay at?" as a way to ask about their home address or their neighborhood. (This also means that the headline to this post is probably mostly disingenuous.)

Any other phrases or words that you grew up with that would make a list like this? If so, please share them along with where you grew up.

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

Happy (First in) Independence Day!

Happy Fourth of July, everyone! Here's to hoping that you are all spending the day with family and friends and reflecting on the fine qualities on which this country was founded. Of course, here in North Carolina, it's easy to forget that we led the way in this idea of independence. (Don't let anyone tell you different!) 

As a celebration of this day, here are some snippets from some of our forefathers' brilliantly-penned masterpieces. Enjoy the day! And God bless America!

"... That we do hereby declare ourselves a free and independent people, are, and of right ought to be, a sovereign and self-governing Association, under the control of no power other than that of our God and the General Government of the Congress; to the maintenance of which independence, we solemnly pledge to each other, our mutual cooperation, our lives, our fortunes, and our most sacred honor. ..."

-Mecklenburg Declaration of Indpendence, Charlotte, May 20, 1775

"... It appears to your Committee that pursuant to the Plan concerted by the British Ministry for subjugating America, the King and Parliament of Great Britain have usurped a Power over the Persons and Properties of the People unlimited and uncontrouled; and disregarding their humble Petitions for Peace, Liberty and safety, have made divers Legislative Acts, denouncing War Famine and every Species of Calamity against the Continent in General. ...

"Resolved that the delegates for this Colony in the Continental Congress be impowered to concur with the delegates of the other Colonies in declaring Independency, and forming foreign Alliances, reserving to this Colony the Sole, and Exclusive right of forming a Constitution and Laws for this Colony, and of appointing delegates from time to time (under the direction of a general Representation thereof) to meet the delegates of the other Colonies for such purposes as shall be hereafter pointed out."

-Halifax Resolves, April 12, 1776

"... We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. ..."
Photo courtesy of N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

There's 'something eternal' about N.C. summers

I got suckered into doing one of those Facebook "7 books in 7 days" things. OK, "suckered" is probably too strong; after all, I enthusiastically dove in to it. Books are a passion of mine.

One of the books I chose to highlight is Tim McLaurin's Keeper of the Moon, which is a memoir about his own life growing up around Fayetteville. Seriously, if you haven't read it -- WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?

In reflecting on this book, I was reminded of one of my favorite passages ever from any piece of literature. And it's also so timely as we are now in the throes of summer. Yes, it's pretty much ungodly hot these days, but I appreciate that McLaurin could appreciate Carolina summers. To wit:

If indeed there exists a physical heaven, I hope it is patterned after North Carolina between the summer hours of six and eight a.m. The haunting call of doves, leaves jeweled with dew, the glint of sun in oak branches, robins and roosters in duet, fog -- something eternal exists in those minutes that a person carries in memory for life.

God, I love that so much.

This also has me reminiscing about other quintessential "Carolina Summer" things. Here are a few that we've discussed over the years here. Enjoy!

Remembering the Fort Fisher Hermit

Back when the bright lights hit the lake

Are we losing beach music?

The winds of change and the Sunset Beach bridge

Eat your heart out at the Seafood Festival

'The Lost Colony' is thriving

Friday, June 29, 2018

ReCONNECT: A call for communities

There is an argument to be made that North Carolina is a Tale of Two Areas: Rural vs. Urban. Heck, that argument has even been made on this site. It doesn't have to be that way. There is no reason why we can't appreciate the many great qualities that exist in the country, the cities or the suburbs.  But there no doubt that there is a chasm to be crossed.

The Institute for Emerging Issues (IEI), based at NC State University, wants to close that gap. IEI, as part of its ReCONNECT NC series, we will host six Emerging Issues Forums over the next three years. Each forum will focus on a different topic centered on innovative strategies to address our loss of connection.
At IEI, we believe that local communitieswith their traditions, willingness to work, and history of coming together in the toughest of times to solve the biggest of challenges—can help launch us on the path to reconnection. For each topic we address over the next three years, we will identify and collaborate with a cadre of communities—five places that have brought together diverse, energetic teams to implement new solutions that make them stronger and better equipped to succeed, and more “connected.” We see communities as the experts who can lead change and inspire others to become part of a more connected North Carolina.

More information about ReCONNECT NC and the ReCONNECT to Community Emerging Issues Forum can be found at

North Carolina communities have an opportunity to get involved. IEI is now accepting applications from communities that "are actively working on successful or promising initiatives, increasing civic engagement to address critical community challenges." The Institute is most interested in learning from community efforts that include, but are not limited to:
  • Using technology in new ways to increase community participation
  • Designing communities and spaces that facilitate citizen engagement
  • Creating innovative branding and marketing campaigns to encourage community or citizen involvement
  • Creating opportunities for civil dialogue across community divides
  • Exploring changes in organizational culture, policies and/or procedures to make participation easier or more accessible
  • Launching civic education and training initiatives
  • Engaging individuals and groups that have historically been under-engaged from civic society
Applications are due no later than Sunday, July 22, 2018, at 5:00 p.m. EST
Questions should be directed to Maggie Woods, IEI Policy and Program Manager, at

Monday, June 18, 2018

It's gonna be as hot as Seven Devils this week. Sure would love some Relief.

We are blessed here in North Carolina to have ample good qualities like good food, a variety of landscapes, cultures, etc. We also have a fair number of quirky town names, as we have discussed in the past. As we are heading into one of the hottest weeks of the year (so far), it struck me that some of these names are relevant. To wit:

For instance, it is going to be as hot as Seven Devils this week as the temperature gets over Old Hundred. You could probably Toast bread on a Bee Log. The last thing I need to drink is a Toddy or visit Thermal Creek. Sure would love to take a dip in some Cool Springs right about now -- or, better yet, in Coldass Creek! That would give me some Welcome Relief.

As always, be sure to check out the N.C. Gazetteer for more interesting N.C. place names.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Well, if California can do it ...

This isn't the first time that Californians have debated splitting their large-and-in-charge fiefdom into multiple states. It's just that this time, it may have some legs*.

California residents will get a chance to vote on a measure to divide the Golden State into three separate states, election officials said Tuesday. ...

The proposal, led by venture capitalist Tim Draper, would split the country’s most populous state into three new states of near-equal population: Northern California, California and Southern California, according to the proposal.

Northern California would include cities between the Bay Area and the Oregon border. Southern California would begin in Fresno and cover most of the southern state. The "new" California would cover Los Angeles County and much of the coast below San Francisco Bay, the proposal said.

*Personally, the odds of it actually happening are very slim. Though it's an interesting thing to ponder.

Which made me wonder ... what if North Carolina were to chop itself up? What would that look like? After all, there is a theory that the Old North State consists of two very different populations anyway: rural vs. urban.  So, on one hand, we could just pull out the urban I-85/I-40 corridor. (Sorry Wilmington and Asheville - you are stuck with "the rurals" in this scenario.) That may look like this:

(If you are wondering, "Asgard" is the mythical city of the gods. This is a nod to how high we tend to think of ourselves in the Triangle. So sue me.)

Or we could essentially divide it up between the regions of the state, with some deviation based on populations and what-not:

Or, we could just do what many in the legislature have advocated for for years: Leave Charlotte be. I present to you, The Great State of Mecklenburg (finally)!

Secession and division isn't anything new to our state and region. (Duh.)  But how would you divide up the state if given the choice? Or do we absorb some of the South Carolina (yeah, Charleston!), but not all (I'm looking at you, MB)?

Thursday, May 31, 2018

You don't stand a chance against The Fighting ... Pickles?

Some friends and I were recently discussing some of the best mascots. Yes, I'm biased to the Wolfpack, and we have some great ones here in N.C., but I also admit that the UC Santa Cruz  Banana Slugs are pretty tough to beat. But in that discussion someone mentioned the Fighting Pickles from the UNC School of the Arts.

This got my attention for three reasons:
  1. First, well, Pickles. Duh. 
  2. Secondly, this mascot has been around SINCE 1972?!!! 
  3. Third, I didn't know UNCSA even had athletics. Welp, it turns out you don't necessarily have to have sports to have a mascot. So kudos to UNCSA for doing just that.

"The landscape of this country is littered with meaningless and – worse – unimaginative team names reflecting who knows what about their schools," says the official history of the mascot, courtesy of Francis Perry. "But…..Pickles….A name to be proud of – a name born of an existential psychodrama worthy of what each of us knows as 'The NCSA Experience.' "

And, oh, yes: it's not just a name. There is an actual mascot. Don't believe me?

The school is, rightfully, proud of their unique mascot. It is, in fact, a big "dill." You can even take a quiz to see what kind of pickle you are. (Full disclosure: I'm apparently a Film-making Pickle!)

If you want to show your support, you can even purchase a t-shirt.

Image courtesy of the UNC School of the Arts website.