Here's quite a rare old Christmas postcard that depicts the US World War I-era of 1917-1918...showing khaki doughboys praying in an ornate cathedral. The captions states: So many Christmas wishes flying through the air! Hope the best will find you, in my daily prayer. Something to think about what with so many U.S. servicemen and servicewomen stationed all over the globe these days. You may perhaps be wondering where I've been for so long. I was an elder caregiver for my mother for quite a many years. In fact, I started this website back in 2009, just so I could keep my brain sharp whilst looking after her, and accomplishing other things as well. Sadly, she came down with kidney failure last December. And in early February...I lost her. She had been around since 1929. My mother was just about the last of the "Greatest Generation" relatives I had left. Most everybody else has passed on. Including such relatives as grandparents, great aunts and uncles, who had been born during the first decade of the 20th century. I knew them all for a long time...and got to be a part of their lives. And the stories...oh the stories I heard of "horse-and-buckboard" days, "water-from-the-well," the two-eyed cast iron stove that cooked many a fatback, the icebox, the iceman, the outhouse, the wash tub, the chickens, pigs and cow "out in the small barn," the Ford Model "A" with the rumble seat in the back, (the trips Mama would take down "tobacco road" to see relatives in Augusta, Georgia in said rumble seat), nickel Cokes, penny candies, the World War II years, leaving your doors and windows unlocked during the day...and...at night, and so on. This website, in a background sort of way, has really been a tribute to them. No doubt some of you readers out there can certainly relate to what I'm talking about. So, I've been away from the internet for awhile, settling an estate...and shutting down a life. More than a few of you out there...you know what that's like. Hopefully, I'll try to get this site up and going again with some new pages and additions. I'm always finding old stuff to scan. (However, my scanner of ten years just quit, and I can't afford another one, so I'll just have to go through some stock scans while I try to get another scanner. Hmmm...my computer is twelve years old. It's getting about as old as the stuff I post on here. LOL!) Anyway, hope you all have a good Christmas Season...and if there is something you like or want to comment about, you can always email me at this site by cutting-and-pasting this address as follows:
Would love to hear from you. Sometimes I can help. Sometimes I can point you somewhere else where help can be had. Or just let me know if you are out there reading. Sometimes I give talks about the things I've collected over the years. If you're local in Mecklenburg County, it's $75.00 for an hour, or a $175.00 for a half-day or big time celebration. One only need to look at the display I did for the local North Carolina Air National Guard for their 50th anniversary to see what I can do, Just click on NCANG 50th Anniversary on the navigation bar at left in order to see all of that! I've still, as far as I know, have got all of that stuff! God bless y'all...and let's hope 2013 will be a little easier on us!
Tornado Disaster 1917
This is what is known as a "disaster postcard" from the early 20th century. (One of my local Metrolina Expo flea market finds from some years back.) Long before our mass media outlets of today, disaster postcards of this sort, was one sure way for the public to see actual photos of natural and man-made diasters. This was from the most likely F4 tornado that touched down in New Albany, Indiana, on the afternoon of March 23rd, 1917, which was 95 years ago this year. It shows the damage that was done on the Vincennes and Charlestown road section of the city. It made quite a few headlines at the time, but was soon overshadowed by America's entry into World War I. This tornado, that cut a three-mile swath of damage about a half a mile long through New Albany, was almost nearly forgotten until a book, local to the area, was published about it nearly a decade ago. In 2007, on the 90th anniversary, a plaque was erected in the town in honor of the catastrophe. New Albany, Indiana is a far piece from the Carolinas, but we get our share of tornados, too. I remember quite well, in the spring of 1984, when roughly 50 tornadoes touched down in central North and South Carolina. In Charlotte, near the Carowinds theme park, the roof was blown off of the local Kentucky Fried Chicken...with customers inside! Amazingly, nobody got hurt. Across the street, a large Gulf gasoline sign, about three stories tall, got twisted like a pretzel. Trees in the parking lot of South Park Mall had their tops sheared, leaving them looking like stand-alone toothpicks....not a branch or leaf left on them. I recall seeing all of this damage with my own eyes after it all happened. One just had to go out and see it. In the Carolinas, tornado season starts in the spring, and can sometimes last until August. In rare cases, they can occur here in the winter. Truly, it is a terrible thing of nature.
St. Patrick's Day Number 2012!
St. Patrick's Day will be coming up this Saturday, March 17th. And one of the premier St. Paddy's parades in this country, having been built up over the last sixteen years,...is in good old Charlotte, North Carolina! The "Charlotte Goes Green" parade will start on Tryon Street, 11:00am this Saturday, and go until about 1:00pm. The St. Pat's festival will be on the corner of Tryon and 3rd streets, and starts at 11:00am as well, with plenty of music, food, kiddie rides and vendors until 6:00pm. And yes, as far as the parade goes, yours truly, Dirk Allman, will once again march down Tryon Street in his World War I doughboy uniform, representing the "Fighting Irish 69th," who fought on the Western Front in France way back in 1918. (The "69th" included such luminaries as Father Duffy, the "Fighting Priest," Wild Bill Donovan and the poet Joyce Kilmore, who wrote the famous poem "Trees.") You can learn more about
the Charlotte's St. Patrick's Day parade and festival at: www.charlottestpatsday.com "Ireland Forever!"
"Crooning Dirk" for Valentine's Day!
Back around early 2001, I think it was, Jason Dumas of Time Warner Cable, produced this video of yours truly, singing and "ukeing" to some very old tunes for Valentine's Day. The songs were "Chili Bom-Bom" and "Down By The Old Mill Stream." Behind me, to my left, if I can remember, is an old Davis wind-up phonograph made in Chicago, probably from the 19-teens. For those in the know about old phonographs, you will notice that the reproducer is turned "frontward," enabling it to play the "red-rooster" Pathe records from the pre-1920 years. Directly behind me is a fold-out "science-project" board, festooned with old kiddie Valentines from the 1920's to the 1950's. There is also sheet music from the musical My Fair Lady and "Moon River," with Audrey Hepburn on the cover, from the movie Breakfast At Tiffany's. (I figured it was appropriate to go along with Valentines!) The ukulele I'm playing is an old bakelite uke from the 1950's, a Kona Isle (Made in U.S.A.!) As I didn't know how to play chords on the thing (and still don't), I used an old 1950's-era, brown bakelite "Arthur Godfrey Uke Player," a "cheater" if you will, that enabled one, as Arthur used to say, "to play like a pro!" Here's the video that was done almost eleven years ago. And...you'll finally get to hear my North Carolina Southern accent, too. Enjoy!
Happy Belated New Years
One perhaps has wondered where I've been as of late. Well folks, I had to attend to a major illness in the family that started about two weeks before Christmas. And I'm still attending to it. So, all of the special Christmas nostalgia I had hoped to share with my readers this past holiday season, will just have to wait until next December. Gosh folks, it was the toughest Christmas I had in 31 years. (Little did I know I would have to take my own advice, which I had mentioned in my "Christmas pause.") However, slowly, but surly, I hope to get things going on this site once again. So, Happy Belated New Year....may it be better for all of us!
Civil War Sesquintennial
2011 is the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the US Civil War (1861-1865) Above is an about actual size pamplet from most likely the late 19th century, with short stories (or anecdotes) from the Civil War. Click on the following link, and it will take you to the page where I scanned each page...and transcribed the whole pamplet!
Civil War Anecdotes
Pull up a cup of coffee and enjoy!
Greetings and welcome to my website, Carolina History Project, based out of Charlotte, North Carolina. This site was started in the winter of 2009...and has now made it into the autumn of this year, 2012 A.D, It's now our third anniversary on the world wide web! I am happy to report that the site so far has become a genealogical treasure trove for at least a few family researchers...who would have never found this information anywhere else. I'm just glad that the internet has come along like it has...and has enabled me to display some of these old treasures that I've found over the years...and more importantly...putting some new information out into the internet that hasn't been seen before. (Granted, there are other websites that know a lot more about Beach Music, doo-wop and R&B than I do, but I just wanted to show folks what I had found on my end of the search. Incidentally, it's one of my most popular pages! However, in terms of popularity, my most read page now is that devoted to the World War I letters from Gaffney, South Carolina, which came from the estate of the late Gaffney native, Thomas E. Ruppe, World War I veteran who served in France back in 1918.) Often these old letters, postcards and etcetera, were found in places no one would have ever cared to look such as: rummage sales, thrift stores, jumbled up bottoms of boxes at antique flea markets, old sheds, country barns...and sometimes...yes sometimes...I was even able to rescue some of these items...just before they were getting ready to be tossed into the local landfill! (History saved...just in the nick of time!)
Yes, like the name says on this website, this will be an "ongoing project," as that there are so many discoveries that I still want to share with you. I've been collecting and saving local historical artifacts and documents for nearly three decades. Some of my items have ended up at the Levine Museum of the New South's "Cotten Fields to Skyscrapers" permanent exhibit, The Charlotte Museum of History/Hezekiah Alexander Homesite and the Charlotte Carolinas Aviation Museum, all in Mecklenburg County and in "the Old North State." I once even had a local Christmas television program on TimeWarner Cable, in which I discussed early wind-up phonographs and old-time Christmas music. Many new people are coming to Charlotte everyday. Charlotte natives such as myself are a rare breed. So it is incombent upon natives like myself to help preserve local Charlotte as well as Carolina history while it can still be done. That said, like going through an old long forgotten Lane cedar chest, let's go rummage through a whole lot of old stuff!
Here's an update here: recently WRAL-TV 5 in Raleigh, North Carolina came all the way down to dear old Charlotte in order to do a story about all of the stuff that I've collected over the years. It is part of WRAL's Tar Heel Traveler series, hosted by Scott Mason and filmed by Tom Normandy. Incidentally, Tom Normandy said of me in so many words on Twitter: "Dirk Allman is one of the most fascinating people I've ever met on the Traveler series." Well, what can I say? I'm humbled. (If you only knew.) Here is a link below to the story as follows, as it was aired on Monday, April 20th, 2009. It will only take up about two minutes of your time. (You will either need a DSL or cable modem in order to view it.) I don't know how long WRAL will keep the story up on their site. But for however long it stays up there, here it is the in the highlighted link below....(so far WRAL has kept it up for a year. Many thanks!)
See and hear Dirk Allman talk about his old-time collection on WRAL-5 Raleigh!
You'll either think me quaintly eccentric...or in need of some mega room organizers! ;-)
Here's a complimentary pass to the then Fifth Annual Charlotte Fair waaay back in 1916! Notice that they had horse racing, and even included a very early "kite-like" aiplane (or "aeroplane" as they were called back then) for entertainment. W. B. Newell was president of this association at that time. Wonder if he was any relation to the little township of Newell, North Carolina...out near modern UNC-Charlotte today? Item was donated to me by Bobby Moller of the now long since raized Hole-in-the-Wall antique mall, that used to be near South Blvd. and Scaleybark Road in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Scaleybark light-rail stop is near there now.
Here's something I rescued from my late Great Uncle Mont Hill's house in Kannapolis, North Carolina before bulldozers came to flatten it around 1987. (One theme you will hear over and over again on this website is how I saved local historical items from being trashed or destoyed.) The house had been built around 1913, had fallen into abandoned disuse...and been condemned by the city. Furniture and all was to be scooped up and hauled off after the wrecking ball did its work. But as that my aunt and grandmother lived just behind it, city officials allowed us to get anything out of the house before it fell. And the place was a terrible wreck. A large hole had formed in the roof some time ago allowing rain and the elements to come in. Leaves were strewn about the floor. It was obvious vagrants had made their temporary home there. In a word...most things had been destroyed. But there was a dusty old trunk that had protected some old family pictures and few sentimental items like this pack of "mini-postcards" from Asheville, North Carolina. My late grandmother, Ida O' Dell Peebles, had sent them to her sister, my late great Aunt Minnie Hill, wife of Mont Hill, back in the 1920's.
These cards were printed when Asheville was quite a bustling old town. F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda were famous for staying there. Thomas Wolfe wrote his famous novels Homeward Angel and You Can't Go Home Again, which were loosely based on his mountain hometown. But when the Great Depression hit, the town of Asheville couldn't pay its bills. Because of their bad financial reputation, the urban renewal of the 1960's didn't quite make its way up there. Thus the city's historically bad financial situation accidentally helped preserve the area's many old historic structures and even its art deco buildings which now gives the old town and its skyline a nice homey, if somewhat "funky" charm. Asheville today is known for being the home of many artists and authors...and some "general eccentrics." (I can relate.)
Oh, here's a delightful old sepia-tone snapshot taken with an old box camera, somewhere back during the 1920's, in Marion, North Carolina, a little town in the foothills of the North Carolina Appalachain Mountains. And it's a wonderful piece of regional black history, too. The photographer wrote in pencil on the bottom of this photo: "Some Rose." The emotion displayed in this photo, unusual for its time, "says it all." It is one of my favorite little photos in my personal collection. The old car, the two lovers on the running board...it's just a classic! Nearly twenty years ago back during the early 1990's, I found a whole box of these snapshots that came from this particular black family who had lived in Marion. A white lady had found them in an old house up that way and sold them to me at the local Metrolina Expo Flea Market for all of ten dollars. When I taught at Eastover Elementary School in Charlotte, I used to display these photos when Black History month rolled around in February. The children were always fascinated by them. I know no names for these people, only that from judging from the photos, they seemed quite prosperous at the time. As this website grows, I hope to display more of this particular lot on a special page all their own. So yes, though I have no names, interesting captions were written on almost everyone of them. That's a story in itself. You can read the story about those photos here:
Black History in Marion, North Carolina: 1920's and 1930's
Also on this website, we will even explore "entertaining things" that Carolineans liked to do to pass the time. And well, why not drive-in movies??? On my side of Charlotte on South Blvd, we had the Queen Drive-in theater, built here as part of the post-World War II growth of the automobile. (Why the name Queen? Since Charlotte is called "The Queen City" after it's namesake Queen Charlotte, wife of King George III, I guess it was fitting to pay homage to her with a drive-in movie theater.) Yes, it sat not far from what is now the Scaleybark light-rail station. But back in the 1960's and 1970's, no doubt, it was to place to be if you wanted to drag the whole family over for a "movie-on-the-cheap." And my mother most certainly did. The outdoor theater was complete with snack stand. (A waitress would go from "car door to car door" taking your order.) It had a playground for the kiddies just in front of the movie screen. And it had those rickety old tinny speakers one would hook onto the rolled down window of your car door, so that you could enjoy the show...if you could hear it. Yes, it was just the place to go if you wanted to drop off to sleep in your car while trying to watch "all night" Dracula movies. It's where my oldest brother first saw George Romero's "The Night of the Living Dead." (A film now ensconced in the Library of Congress' National Film Registry no less!) Or you could watch such lowbrow fare as these grade-B/C "moonshine-whiskey-car chase" double features titled respectively "Moon Runners" and "Moonshine War" that were advertised in The Charlotte Observer movie section in 1978. (Sometimes we forget to recycle the newspapers around here.) Rumor has it that it was in that year that the Queen Drive-in closed down for good. The reason? They were showing "Gone With The Wind" and a high wind ironically blew the movie screen down! (Never to be erected again.)
After that, it briefly became a flea market, which failed. (My mother and I once rented a space there and tried to sell some yardsale stuff out of our 1976 Pontiac Bonneville. But I think all I sold was an Etch-a-Sketch to a little child for all of fifty cents. Any wonder the flea market idea failed.) Then what was left of the drive-in was bulldozed, and a new state-of-the-art movie multi-plex called "Queen Park" took it's place in the 1980's. I recall in the early 1990's going with my mother and brother to see some movie that starred country singer Reba McEntire, wherein, some big worms in an isolated southwestern US town were eating everybody alive! (Lord, you have to wonder about me. I can't remember the film's name. Oh well, the movie later became a syndicated televison show on the Sci-Fi channel. It had its fans.) But in later years, criminal activity put the multi-plex out of business. It was then bulldozed to make way for the Scaelybark light-rail station parking lot. Before it was bulldozed around 2004, Lisa Reyes of local cable News 14 TV interviewed me "as a local historian" concerning the old Queen Drive-in theater. She was new to town then and knew virtually nothing about the history of the area, so she was glad to find me. Tom Hanchett of the Levine Museum of the New South had sent her my way. All that's left of the old Queen Drive-in is the 1962-style "Seattle Space Needle-looking tower" near the light-rail track, whose once lighted beacon beckoned movie goers there so many years ago. (I heard that it was once a local right-of-passage for daring teenagers to climb that thing...without falling off! I heard that one did...and you can imagine the results.) To get the drive-in movie experinece in this area now, I think you have to go to Belmont, North Carolina. Hopefully dear reader, if you have read this far, you will see that this site will be no "dry rendering of regional history," but at times, kind of entertaining too. Southern folks are not unknown for being a tad bit humorous...and they are bit high on the irony as well.
I'm well known around town for being known as the "World War I doughboy." Back on November 11th, 2000, on the 82nd anniversary of the end of World War I (or Armistice Day as it used to be called a few generations ago), my photo was featured in The Charlotte Observer with the caption: "Dirk Allman, a World War I re-enactor, holds an original copy of The Charlotte Observer Nov. 11, 1918 edition declaring the end of the war." Your's truly has been involved in our city's Veteran's Day Parade since 1993. I used to dress up as a World War I doughboy as a Halloween joke. (Remember Snoopy pretending he was the World War I flying ace in the Halloween TV classic "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown?" That was what got me into studying that particular era. Seriously!) But one fall day, while I was out at Doug Oehler's Bar-B-Que with a church group back around October of 1993, two men who ran Mecklenburg County's Veteran's Service program asked if I would come and be a part of their parade that year. I was quite flattered, but thought it might not be a good idea since I wasn't a veteran. But they put my mind at ease and said it would be quite all right...that I represented exactly what that year's parade was supposed to be about. 1993 was then the 75th anniversary of the end of World War I...and some real World War I veterans got to be in the parade. They were six of the last World War I veterans left in Mecklenburg County, then ages 95 to 100. (In the parade, they all got to ride in limosines or vintage cars from that time such as a 1917 Haines.) And yes, I got to meet those guys. We sang old World War I songs together such as "Over There!" "It's a Long, Long, Way to Tipperary," "Oui! Oui! Maire," and "There's a Long, Long Trail." Sadly those World War I vets have all long since passed away. (Back then there were roughly 30,000 US World War I veterans still living; worldwide today there are barely a handful left to tell the tale, as that particular war ended nearly a century ago. Frank Buckles of Virginia, the last known US World War I veteran, passed away in early part of 2011.) But I'm so glad I got to meet them. And yours truly has been in the Charlotte Veteran's Day parade ever since then...going on eighteen years now! (I do the same get-up in our city's St. Patrick's Day parade representing the "Fighting Irish 69th" of World War I as well. Remember the movie about this regiment starring James Cagney and Pat O'Brien?) To tell you the truth, you don't just meet many World War I re-enactors. I'm one of the few in these parts.
Read About Halloween Recordings from the past!
(Nothing to do with Carolina History...just a small passion of mine that I thought others might enjoy.)
Do click on the photo above of a mid-1950's, Decca 45rpm recording, of Louis Armstrong's Halloween offering of "Spooks!" and read my webpage about vintage Halloween ads and recordings from 1904 to 1952! It's a fun read when autumn comes around!
If you like what you read and see on these pages, feel free to drop me a few dollars my way in order to take care of some hosting issues. This website is a labor of love, whose main funding comes from the author. Any help is greatly appreciated. Thank you so very much.
Just a small disclaimer here: many of the ephemeral artifacts found on this website are now, due to age, in the public domain. Items and quotes of a more recent vintage, that are used here in part for newsworthy commentary and/or educational purposes, are covered by the Fair Use Act of the US Copyright Office. Thank you.