Shared Stories

Shared Stories is the final name of a special project funded through an NEH Common Heritage grant.  Over the course of 2016, it has had several titles but now as the project is wrapping up, we’ve settled on this name.  On Saturday, January 14, 2017, we’ll be holding a special event to celebrate those who have shared their family stories, photographs, scrapbooks and more.  To date, we’ve gathering over 8 hours of oral histories and have several more scheduled in the coming weeks and scanned over 1,700 pages of documents.  We’ll have speakers sharing their stories (journalist Bea Thompson and Rev. Chris Springs), gospel music, and exhibits.  This Around the D will share some of the memories from the oral histories and some of the documents.

Davidson resident Marjean Torrence wrote a weekly column for the Mecklenburg Gazette detailing activities within the African-American communities in Huntersville, Cornelius and Davidson. Many of her columns also were included in scrapbooks.

Gloria Kerns at opening of her shop on South Main Street in Davidson.

Gloria Kerns at opening of her shop on South Main Street in Davidson.

This ad came from the Davidson Monthly almost a century before Torrence's column.

This ad came from the Davidson Monthly almost a century before Torrence’s column.

 

I graduated from nursing school in 1956. Then after that, I worked at Good Samaritan school for 2 years, on the medical unit. After that, I changed jobs and went to the Physical Rehabilitation Institute in Charlotte and worked there. . . I worked rehab for 36 years. I changed different positions there and my last 15 years at rehab I was in nursing administration. And I did some family education during that time at rehab with families and physically handicapped patients. That was really rewarding. The whole time I was there I enjoyed it, you were always learning something different, some new from working with those people. Erving McClain

A day in Ralph Johnson's barbershop.

A day in Ralph Johnson’s barbershop.

I heard that Mr. Johnson had a opening, so I came here in ’57 and started working for him. . .And then in ’70, I got a job in Charlotte as a salesman, selling cars. Worked there for six and a half years. Ray Skidmore American Motors. Five and have years and then a year in Gastonia, that was in the middle seventies and the economy got bad, the gas prices. And I said, “well, I’m going back to the barber shop.” .. I didn’t keep my license renewed, so I went back to renew the license and I started at Potts Barber Shop in Cornelius and worked there for a number of years; 22 years. And it was good for me, good to me there, too. I enjoyed working with Mr. Potts over there. Seven years ago, in ’93, I decided to come over here and get my own shop. That’s when Norton went out of business. The way it got started was, Mr. Knox came over and said, “Raeford, I’ve got a place available, you would be interested?” I said “Nah,” I wasn’t even going to think about it. And then he said, “Norton’s going out of business,” and I said, “It might be good for me.” And I went by a few days later and we made a deal that same day to get this place.”  James Raeford

I even worked for Davidson College. In the library in the serials and documents. That’s in the early 70s. I had worked at the bank, Piedmont Bank and Trust in Davidson. I was one of the first blacks, really I was the first black they hired at Piedmont Bank and Trust. Peggy Rivens

Yearbook staff in 1966 for Torrrence-Lytle School - copies of the yearbooks were loaned for scanning.

Yearbook staff in 1966 for Torrence-Lytle School – copies of the yearbooks were loaned for scanning.

When I was in school this was grades one through four. The fifth and sixth grades were somewhere, and seventh and eighth, I don’t really know where. In ’53, they added another wing to Huntersville Colored School, and in ’53-54 it became Torrance-Lytle in honor of the men who had lobbied so hard to the county commissioners of Mecklenburg County to obtain a school, because before, if you wanted to further your education from the sixth grade, you had to attend a boarding school in another city, like Salisbury or Kannapolis or Concord.  Bee Jay Caldwell

 

Notice published in the Mecklenburg Gazette in 1965

Notice published in the Mecklenburg Gazette in 1965

The courses were reading, writing, arithmetic. Oh, one thing the teachers did try to do was to provide some activities for us. You know how your parents want to come see you perform, so we had plays  We had a choir, we had a dance group, we had May Day outside. The higher students, they had oratorical contests. Frances Beale

But one thing, that in the winter time children had to walk so far, when they got to the room their fingers would be almost frozen. The bus, the white bus would pass them, they would be walking. I resent, at an early age I resented getting second-hand books. They would take the books from the white school and send them here. Fortunately, I was helping all the teachers because I was just in the community and I was the first to see the books so I got a good book. But I didn’t like that, I just resented getting those second-hand books. It was very hard for me to deal with. Frances Beale

Sports at Torrence-Lytle – We had some of our equipment from the College, they gave us their used equipment. We had to buy shoes. They gave us their pants. We had a baseball team, we had a basketball team and we had a pretty fair team [given] the conditions. We didn’t have a gym. We didn’t have one in Davidson and we didn’t have one in Huntersville. So if it rained, the game was cancelled. The ground was so wet you couldn’t practice. We had a track team, and my first year at Huntersville, he guy came there from the agricultural department. We hauled grass and dirt to make the fields. Theodore Wilson

Early African-American baseball team from North Mecklenburg

Early African-American baseball team from North Mecklenburg

There was a movie [theater] in Cornelius we’d go to. There wasn’t much fun, you made  your fun yourself.  [Churches] used to have fried fish picnics and picnics on May Day, ball games, and that was fun. Susie Lowery

Hood Norton and family

Hood Norton and family

I remember asking my mother why did she cooked so much on Sundays. And she said, well if anyone comes by we’ll have enough to share with them. She was from a family of, I think, 7 sisters and one sister had 9 or 10 children. That’s where we could end up on Sundays a lot of the time, out in the country. No matter who came there was always enough food for everybody. She go in and pull out another jar and open it up. I remember them canning. I remember my dad having a small garden and my granddad. My granddad, I remember them killing pigs, killing hogs. Verdie Torrence

We had picnics. We had to be industrious because there was no outlet for us. We were relegated to the east side of the railroad track, so we had picnics and camp meetings. The reason we did this was because we had to have some source of joy and fun to release the anxiety and tensions that we had, and so we had that. And people became entrepreneurs. You soon learned that if you were going to have a picnic, you had to have somebody to sell the fish, hot dogs and drinks, for popcorn and for somebody to take the twenty-five cent photographs. Bee Jay Caldwell

If you want to know more, in the coming weeks, transcripts and copies of the scanned images will be online on the Shared Stories website. We are grateful to all who have been interviewed and who shared their photographs and documents to ensure that these stories are preserved and shared.

 

Snow! Or a Seasonal Picture Post

While snow is a somewhat rare occurrence in Davidson, it remains an exciting time for the entire college community. This week, let’s take a look at Davidson College dusted with snow throughout the years:

Snowy Main Street in Davidson, March 1915.

Snowy Main Street in Davidson, March 1915.

Three students clear walkways on rails pulled by horses, circa 1915.

Three students clear walkways on rails pulled by horses, circa 1915.

A lone figure walks past Dana Science Building, 1969.

A lone figure walks past Dana Science Building, 1969.

An unknown man leads a burro through the snow near Cunningham, December 1971.

A student leads a burro through the snow near Cunningham, December 1971.

A student walks near Elm Row, December 1971.

A student walks near Elm Row, December 1971.

Two students play in the snow in front of Cunningham, circa 1975.

Two students play in the snow in front of Cunningham, circa 1975.

A snowman in front of Chambers, 1977.

A snowman in front of Chambers, 1977.

The Presidents House looks picturesque in the snow, date unknown.

The Presidents House looks picturesque in the snow, date unknown.

Two students walk near Chambers, 1987.

Two students walk near Chambers, 1987.

A Davidson Wildcat made out of snow! Martin Science Building, circa 1980s.

A Davidson Wildcat made out of snow! Martin Science Building, circa 1980s.

Two students engage in a rowdy snow fight, 1987.

Two students engage in a rowdy snow fight, 1987.

A student works on a snow-cat - possibly the same large one in front of Martin, 1987.

A student works on a snow-cat – possibly the same large one in front of Martin, 1987.

We hope Davidsonians near and far are enjoying their winter!

Open Houses

Late December and early January are popular times for open house events. Time was at Davidson when open house meant not a holiday party but student-faculty gatherings.

Anne Sampson recalled inviting students to “dinner or to supper and play “Authors” afterwards–We got a little organ and they came Sunday evenings to sing from supper time till Church– In this way we wanted every boy in College at least once or twice a year.” From these informal evenings in the 1880s, a pattern later emerged of students calling on faculty on Sunday evenings after the college’s weekly vesper service.  Faculty wives would prepare light snacks and students would wind their way to professors’ home for a time of light conversation.

By 1946, the practice had been formalized and written on the weekly vespers pew sheet:

Vespers program 17 March 1946

Vespers program 17 March 1946

The last item on the program reads: The following will be “At Home” to the students after the service: Professors Reid, Shewmake, Thies, Vowles, Watts, Wood, Shepard, Davidson.  Weekly at homes eventually shifted to faculty being divided into groups with each group assigned a specific Sunday of the month to play host in their homes. One group would always host on the first Sunday, another on the second, etc.

In the spring of 1966, the college’s social fraternities took tried an experiment with open houses.  They offered to host faculty once a month on a Sunday evening. Three fraternities opened each month and sent invited specific faculty. The Inter-Fraternity Council sent out a detailed memo:

IFC plan for fraternity open houses

IFC plan for fraternity open houses

The memo explained: During the second semester the social fraternities would like to reciprocate your hospitality by hold open houses once a month on the fraternity court in addition the regularly scheduled open houses after vespers on Sunday night. Three of the fraternity houses will be open at the same time, and you and your wives will be invited to attend at least once during the semester. All interested students will be invited as well.

IFC plan for fraternity open houses

IFC plan for fraternity open houses

 

Faculty were also informed that they could visit all three of the open houses on their Sunday evening but were asked “that you start at the house which sent you an invitation.”

First Open House notice printed in Davidson on 18 February 1966

First Open House notice printed in Davidson on 18 February 1966

The project worked for that semester but the following fall, vesper attendance became optional and open house attendance dropped considerably as well. A Special Committee on Religion addressed the issue by recommending that “for November, December, and January faculty members wishing to entertain students should personally extend the invitation to classes or other interest groups.” And further, Sundays were optional, “Rather than on any designated day the visits will be at times mutually convenient to the professor and the students he has invited.”  The committee offered yet another innovation–modest financial support of up to $25 funded through the Dean of Students.

A vestige of this tradition remains during commencements with academic departments hosting students and their families and, of course, the practice of faculty and staff hosting students in their homes throughout each semester.

Wilde, Ricketts, and The Sphinx

The Sphinx cover

The Sphinx cover

A collaboration between the writer, Oscar Wilde, and the artist, Charles Ricketts, produced one of the most beautiful volumes in our Rare Book Room collection, The Sphinx, published in 1894.

Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde was born in Dublin, the son of a surgeon and a poet. Educated at Trinity College, Dublin and Magdalen College, Oxford, his literary career began with poetry he published as an undergraduate. During that time he also developed the dress and mannerisms which were to be associated with him for his entire life…that of a highly affected dandy…which were to be often caricatured. Originally a poet, he became more famous for his fairy tales (The Happy Prince and other Tales), his dramatic works (A Woman of Substance, Lady Windemere’s Fan, and The Importance of Being Ernest), and his only novel, (The Picture of Dorian Gray). His poem The Ballad of Reading Gaol was published in 1898, written after his incarceration in Reading Gaol on criminal offenses. Wilde’s works are known for their literary merit, but much of Wilde’s reputation also relates to his colorful life.

One of Wilde’s friends and collaborators was Charles Ricketts, a British painter, designer, sculptor, writer on art, and an important figure in the Vale Press, one of the finest private presses of the late 19th century. In 1894, their collaboration resulted in the publication of The Sphinx, a remarkable combination of text and design. The poem was written by Wilde, and designed and illustrated by Ricketts. It was published in a limited edition of 200 copies for England, on expensive hand-made paper, and bound in white vellum stamped in gold leaf. The text was printed entirely in capitals in red, brown, and green.

The Sphinx

The Sphinx

The Sphinx

The Sphinx

The Sphinx

The Sphinx

Illustrations used elements from the Celtic (in the first initials), from the Japanese (in the use of undecorated spaces), and of ancient Greek (in the figure drawing). Wilde intended for the book to be a special possession for a few, not for the general public, and was reported to have said “My first idea was to print only three copies; one for myself, one for the British Museum, and one for Heaven. I had some doubt about the British Museum.”

Thanks to Dr. H.M. Marvin, Davidson class of 1914, our Rare Book Room has one of those 200 special and beautiful copies.

The Sphinx

The Sphinx

The Sphinx

The Sphinx

The Sphinx / Oscar Wilde. With decorations by Charles Ricketts. London: E. Matthews and J. Lane, 1894. First Edition. One of 200 copies for Great Britain, printed on hand-made paper. Bound in white, gilt-stamped vellum with Ricketts’ monogram in the lower left-hand corners.

Danish Glogg

This installment of Recipes from the Archives is a festive winter punch from Davidson Senior Center’s 1985 printing of The Davidson Cookbook. – Bob Sailstad’s “Danish Glogg.”

Davidson Senior Services (later the Davidson Senior Center) opened September 1977 in the railroad depot building on Jackson Street. The Center sponsored programs, such as an income tax assistance service and a Senior/Student Friendship program, organized day trips, connected volunteers with seniors, put out a yearly newsletter (Tracks), and published three printings of a cookbook (The Davidson Cookbook). The Center closed in spring 2004.

Robert J. “Bob” Sailstad (1915-1998) worked as the Director of Development (1948-1949) and then Assistant to the President and the Director of Public Relations and Development (1955-1968) at Davidson College. After leaving the College he went on to serve at the Director of Educational Affairs and Public Information for The Duke Endowment (1968-1982). He received a B.S. and M.A. from the University of Minnesota, where he met his wife, Patricia Kreis Sailstad. Patricia had worked as a dental hygienist and preschool teacher in Minnesota, and when she moved to Davidson she continued teaching and also helped found the St. Alban’s Play School and the Davidson-Cornelius Day Care Center. Both Bob and Patricia were active members of the Davidson Senior Center.

Bob Sailstad's Senior Center portrait, as photographed by Frank Bliss.

Bob Sailstad’s Senior Center portrait, as photographed by Frank Bliss.

Glogg, a variety of mulled wine and spirits, appears relatively unchanged in the last few centuries. Sailstad’s glogg makes “14 Danish servings,” so I decided to invite a few folks over to make the warm, wintery punch and then consume some of it.

Bob Sailsted's Danish Glogg

Bob Sailstad’s Danish Glogg recipe.

Glogg heating on my stove, complete with orange slices.

Glogg heating on my stove, complete with floating orange slices.

Glogg is very simple to make, although if you choose to adapt this recipe make to have a large party to share it – Bob Sailstad’s glogg is very strong, and this makes over two dozen servings!

Jan Blodgett (College Archivists and Records Management Coordinator), Roman Utkin (Assistant Professor of Russian Studies), and Caroline Fache (Associate Professor of French & Francophone Studies) enjoy the archival glogg.

Jan Blodgett (College Archivist and Records Management Coordinator), Roman Utkin (Assistant Professor of Russian Studies), and Caroline Fache (Associate Professor of French & Francophone Studies) enjoy the archival glogg.

Davidson & December 7, 1941

Like most Americans, Davidson students were aware of wars in East Asia and Europe but their involvement was limited.  On November 17, 1941, the YMCA announced that the annual Gift Fund project would be directed at refugees and war prisoners. Specifically, the gift fund would be purchasing Bibles to be sent to China, to prisoners in concentration camps in Germany, and to the US Navy. Using the theme of Let Use Share Our Faith, YMCA president Jim Owens stressed the need for “fighting hate and suffering with our strongest weapon, the Bible.”

19 November 1941 article following up on the Gift Fund project.

19 November 1941 article following up on the Gift Fund project.

December 4, 1941 article announcing acceptance of Davidson funded Bibles by the US Navy.

December 4, 1941 article announcing acceptance of Davidson funded Bibles by the US Navy.

College president John Cunningham and town mayor (and Latin professor) Ernest Beaty endorsed the gift fund project with Cunningham saying “I can scarcely think of any undertaking which holds the possibility of being more fruitful” and Beaty declaring “The best defense against evil in the present age is Truth as expressed through the Bible.”

Headlines for the December 11, 1941 Davidsonian –the first issue after the bombing of Pearl Harbor — focused on the latest Red and Black Masquers play, the annual Vesper service, and the cost of dance bands. The only reference to war came in one article about the ROTC honorary Scabbard and Blade.

December 11, 1941 article on the possible effect of war on a student military group.

December 11, 1941 article

Below the fold, this issue featured a photograph of the Davidson Bibles arriving at the USS North Carolina.

Front page war news after Peark Harbor still focused on Bibles.

Front page war news after Peark Harbor still focused on Bibles.

More news about the war appeared on page 2, with the text of President Cunningham’s chapel speech from December 5th:

Dr. Cunningham's speech

Dr. Cunningham’s speech

Cunningham urged restraint, noting that he was in seminary in 1917 at the outbreak of WWI, he told current students

I wish to express a word of caution today against panic and hysteria at this time. It is possible that some few students may feel that they are called to turn aside from their preparation and hasten into the military service of the country. My prediction is that there is plenty of time yet for that service. The word which I wish to stress, particularly to you today is that you are now engaged in a fundamental defense task. You must beware that you do not throw away an opportunity which has been denied approximately 97 per cent of young men– those who do not get to college. We must look further than winning a war. Winning the peace is going to be even more important.

A student editorial on the same page focused more on the American sense of humor in relation to Japanese culture.

Student editorial December 11, 1941

Student editorial December 11, 1941

The first effects of the war on campus appear in the January 29, 1942 issue with articles on changes in physical education, the introduction of summer classes, changes in ROTC staff and the first Red Cross canvas.  Other headlines show life as usual with mid-winters dances and Presbyterian student conferences.

19420129_001

Back on page 3 of this issue, the college library gets credit for collecting books (other than Bibles) for the military.

19420129_003

The first war bonds cartoons appeared in the February 5th issue. One on the editorial page.

19420205_002

And one on page five next to an article on draft deferment policies:

19420205_005

The Trustees began to address war-related issues later in February.

Headline from February 26, 1942 as the trustees approve war-related changes

Headline from February 26, 1942 as the trustees approve changes

Noticeably absent are any articles on international events. The student paper has rarely covered much in the way of national or international news and in the initial weeks after Pearl Harbor that focus didn’t change. The first reference to Davidson alumni in the military appeared in the February 26, 1942 issue.

First recognition of Davidson students entering the military

First recognition of Davidson students entering the military

A few weeks later, the Davidsonian reported on the civilian defense as the college began organizing air raid and fire watchers. Davidson was an unlikely target but we were prepared.

Time to start watching the skies

Time to start watching the skies

The war became more prevalent –even without wire stories from the front– when advertisers started using military themes.

First war-themed advertisement

First war-themed advertisement

Davidson on the Cover

Davidson College has often appeared on the cover of publications, particularly local or state magazines. This week, let’s take a look at the covers that made it into our collections:

North Mecklenburg phone book

Students gathered around Chambers Building graced the cover of the July 1977 North Mecklenburg telephone directory.

S

The Winter 1978 issue of Southeastern Librarian featured E.H. Little Library on its cover.

Southern Living

The October 1980 issue of Southern Living showed Davidson’s fall colors at their best.

March 1981 Choice

This March 1981 cover of Choice shows a student walking in front of Eumenean Hall.

We the People of North Carolina's September 1987 cover showed buildings from several academic institutions across the state, including Davidson's Chambers Building.

We the People of North Carolina‘s September 1987 cover showed buildings from several academic institutions across the state, including Davidson’s Chambers Building.

1993

The State of North Carolina Higher Education Comprehensive Planning Program’s 1993 Facilities Inventory and Utilization Study showed the brand new Visual Arts Center building.

Spring 2004 Collegiate Standard

The Spring 2004 Collegiate Standard cover is a blast from the recent past, showing a group of Davidsonians who appeared on The Price is Right.

November 2008's Lake Norman Magazine featured Davidson's favorite basketball player, Steph Curry.

November 2008’s Lake Norman Magazine featured Davidson’s favorite basketball player, Steph Curry.

Southern Home magazine's May 2009 issue featured a cover story on the President's House: "Davidson's White House."

Southern Home Magazine‘s May 2009 issue featured a cover story on the President’s House: “Davidson’s White House.”

Margaret’s Johnny

The Margaret in question is Margaret Truman, daughter of Harry S. Truman.  She came to campus 67 years ago as part of the college’s Artist Series. Davidson was a brief part of her singing career.

President and Mrs. Cunningham with Margaret Truman. From 1950 Quips & Cranks

President and Mrs. Cunningham with Margaret Truman. From 1950 Quips & Cranks.

Her appearance rated a bold headline in The Davidsonian:

Truman's appearance coincided with Homecoming Weekend

Truman’s appearance coincided with Homecoming Weekend.

The paper reported that while she was on campus, she attended a small reception at the Guest House and a dinner with the president. She was joined by members of the fund-raising Development Drive and “close friends of Dr. Cunningham.”

Front of Truman's concert program

Front of Truman’s concert program

She may have been a popular dinner guest but her performance met with some criticism, including a comparison with a “certain Madame Jenkins who used to convulse her Carnegie Hall audiences with her erratic cacophonies.”  The review continued, “To descend to the serious, Miss Truman seemed to have a technical understanding of what she ought to do, but let’s face it, Miss Truman has simply not got a voice. . . . To me, her German Lieder were most satisfactory. Her feeling for these songs seemed to be free of spurious responses and the comparatively restricted range of these songs seemed to suit a voice which leapt nimbly but unconvincingly over the thin and crackling ice of both low and high registers.”

October 28, 1949 review in the Davidsonian.

October 28, 1949 review in The Davidsonian.

Not reported in any of the papers were the behind the scenes concerns of suitable accommodations for this celebrity.  A townswoman in the know, wrote to her daughter, “I’ve found out the campus as all agog last week when it was discovered that there was no toilet for Margaret Truman. Such hurrying and scurrying. Mrs. Erwin fold me that they said it had to be one nobody had used. So at the cost of $200.00 the college transformed a dressing room near the stage into a “Johnny.” At every party somebody reported on the progress of “Margaret’s Johnny”– well, finally Thursday night, Mr. Hobart sent out a bulletin–all the fixtures had been installed, everything was in readiness– but the thing wouldn’t work!! Great was the concern- Margaret must have a johnny! Well, at the time of the concert, everything was lovely. Shortly afterwards this inscription was found on the newly painted commode– ‘Margaret Truman sat here!’ written with nail polish for all to see! Who would suspect staid, dignified Davidson to be seething with such carryings on! Margaret caused talk, but not like she imagined.”

The U.S. Centennial Exhibition

The "Official Catalogue"

The “Official Catalogue”

The Centennial International Exhibition, the 1st official World’s Fair in the United States, was held from May 10 – November 10, 1876 in Philadelphia. Its full title was The International Exhibition of Arts, Manufactures and Products of the Soil and Mine, and it was the brainchild of Professor John L. Campbell, Wabash College (Indiana). In 1866, Campbell, professor of mathematics, natural philosophy, and astronomy, suggested to the mayor of Philadelphia that the 100th anniversary of the signing of the U.S. Declaration of Independence be celebrated there with an exhibition. Although there were several nay-sayers lamenting lack of funding, disinterest from other countries, and an un-favorable reaction to the exhibition being held in the United States, the U.S. Centennial Commission was created by a bill passed on March 3, 1871, and the commission was organized on March 3, 1872.

One of the many ads.

One of the many ads.

450 acres of West Fairmont Park in Philadelphia were set aside for the exposition, and other nations were invited to attend. Temporary hotels were built to accommodate visitors, streetcars and railroads increased their service, and a small hospital was built in the park.
The fair opened on May 10, 1876 and drew thousands of visitors and VIPs to the exhibits from 37 nations in over 250 pavillions. As the title indicated, the exhibition focused on arts, manufacturing, agriculture and mining, and introduced to the world the strength of the United States as an industrial power.

Main exhibition building

Main exhibition building

Although many of the exhibition buildings were constructed as temporary structures, some were designed to be permanent and used after the closing of the exhibition.

Horticultural Hall

Horticultural Hall continued to be used to display plants until it was demolished in 1954 after being badly damaged by Hurricane Hugo. Memorial Hall (the art gallery) was later used as the Pennsylvania Museum of Art.
By the last day, November 10, 1876, a total of 10,164,489 visitors had attended the exhibition. Some of the innovations displayed were the Corliss Steam Engine, Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone, the Remington typographic machine, the electric dynamo, and Heinz Ketchup.
We have in the Rare Book Room a copy of the “official catalogue,” a gift from the estate of Zach Long, Class of 1965. The catalogue included lists of the entrants by country, lists of the exhibits, and numerous period ads, and is considered to be the best source of information on the Centennial Exhibition and its exhibitors.

E.P. Baugh ad

Ad for stouts and ales

Ad for stouts and ales

Ad for a florist

Ad for a florist

Shop at the Great Combination Store for retail dry goods

We wouldn't expect either of these products to be advertised today!

We wouldn’t expect either of these products to be advertised today!

Exhibitors

Exhibitors

Sassy Spice Cake

For this installment of Recipes from the Archives, I chose to make “Sassy Spice Cake,” contributed by “Mrs. J.P. Stowe” to the 1965 The Village Cook Book: Recipes from the P.T.A. Pantry, Davidson, North Carolina. The members of Davidson’s Parent-Teacher Association gathered recipes from townswomen compiled the cookbook as a fundraiser for Davidson Elementary School.

I selected this recipe because of it’s fun title, and because it had some similarities with election cake recipes. Election cakes, as laid out in a Bon Appétit story on their history, were an American tradition at the polls in the days of the Early Republic. While our archival collections do not contain any election cake recipes, Sassy Spice Cake contains some of the same ingredients and flavors, so it seemed an apropos choice.

The cover of the 1965 PTA cookbook.

The cover of the 1965 PTA cookbook.

Finding out more about Mrs. J.P. Stowe proved to be difficult – she didn’t appear in any of our human resources records, and I couldn’t find any relatives who had graduated from or worked at Davidson College. However, some creative Internet searching led me to an obituary on obitcentral.com that seems to match:

“Agnes F. Honeycutt Stowe of Davidson died Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2001 at Lake Norman Regional Medical Center.

Born Jan. 9, 1923 in Stony Point, to the late James Ray and Minnie Triplett Foy, she was a member of Davidson United Methodist Church. For many years she worked at Laney’s Fish Camp. She founded Aggie ‘J’ Originals and was one of the first three cross-stitch designers.

Survivors include her sons, Tommy Honeycutt of Davidson and Tim Honeycutt of Charlotte; a daughter, Sandra H. Boyd of Davidson; a brother, Frank L. Foy of Virginia; sisters, Peggy F. Pender of Huntersville and Minnie Rae Barker of Denver; eight grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren.

Husbands, James Monroe Honeycutt and J.P. Stowe; son, James H. Honeycutt, Jr.; b[r]others, James and Joseph Foy, and sister, Sue F. Howard preceded her in death.

Funeral services were Saturday, Nov. 17 at Davidson United Methodist Church. Interment followed at the Mimosa Cemetery.

Memorials may be made to the American Heart Association, 1229 Greenwood Cliff, Suite 109, Charlotte, N.C. 28204.”

Anges Foy Honeycutt Stowe is most likely the same “Mrs. J.P. Stowe” – U.S. Census Bureau data shows that in 1940, then 17 year old Agnes lived in Davidson with her first husband, James Monroe Honeycutt, in the same house as her mother Minnie and younger siblings. Laney’s Fish Camp, mentioned in the obituary as Agnes’ longtime employer, was a fried fish restaurant in Mooresville that closed in 2013.

Library Serials Assistant and longtime Davidson resident Mittie Wally mentioned that she’d met Agnes Stowe and that she was a great cook. She also confirmed that Agnes husband was “in a roundabout way related to Stowe’s Corner” – the triangular shaped building on Main Street that currently houses Flatiron Kitchen + Taphouse, and used to contain a gas station owned by the Stowe family.

Agnes Stowe's Sassy Spice Cake recipe.

Agnes Stowe’s Sassy Spice Cake recipe.

The Sassy Spice Cake recipe is fairly simple, and I followed it to the letter with the exception of the pan shape – I chose to make the cake in a bundt pan instead of an “oblong cake pan,” since it was more reminiscent of the election cake recipe put out by OWL Bakery. The icing is definitely “not a stiff frosting”; it’s more like a glaze.

The final product!

The final product!

I shared the Sassy Spice Cake with the rest of the library staff, to rave reviews – several staff members have said they saved the recipe to make at home for the holidays.