Contributing Works Uncategorized

Thy Will Be Done

by Debra Vernon

Change – it is something everyone must deal with, often daily. We start to do one thing, then pivot in another direction to manage another task that has captured our attention. Other times, change comes knocking at the door in the form of good news or bad, and again we must adapt to move forward. Change keeps us from getting complacent and comfortable with our surroundings. It shakes us up a bit.

Recently, the winds of change started blowing in my world. Events beyond my control had me fervent in prayer and searching the scriptures for solace and guidance. I was taught from an early age to pray, “if it be Thy will” when asking anything of my God. It reminds me that He is in control, nothing happens that does not pass through His hands, and He is working all things out for my good and His Glory. I confess it is easy to pray “His will” when I have reason to expect the outcome I desire. It is much harder to do when I truly have no indication of how the situation will play out.

My heart was broken when what I had prayed so fervently for did not occur. I was distraught and foolish enough to start an argument with God. Yeah, you read that right – I argued with HIM. The eternally existing, promise-keeping God of the universe! I shouted out to the ceiling all the reasons I could think of as to why He should have answered my prayers and given me “my will.” Thankfully, He is merciful and gracious, and let me rail against Him until I was physically spent from my anguish, my eyes red from my tears. And then, when all was quiet around me, He whispered, “greater things are coming Debra, just wait.” The uncertainty left me with no choice but to trust Him and ask Him for wisdom to deal with His plan and again pray for His will to be done.

As the days and weeks progressed, I started to see His hand at work. The prayers of many people, including mine, were answered. Doors which were long closed were opened; things fell into place so perfectly and rapidly it can only be attributed to the goodness of God! A new perspective of the potential opportunities before me was revealed as well. None of this would have happened if God had given me my will. He was so right about greater things coming! Imagine that.

But still, I had no peace, as it was apparent that I was going to have to get out of my comfort zone to partake in and be blessed by these new opportunities He was laying before me! I was going to have to make tough decisions about things I loved and cherished! I was going to have to CHANGE. And I was fearful. And that is when I looked at Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV) “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Things are still in motion as I write this. Some decisions have been made; others await. But I have peace now. I am not concerned about what is ahead, as my God has confirmed yet again that I can trust Him with all things, both great and small. His love for me is so immense, and he rains blessings down on me again and again and gently chastens me when I get too big for my britches. And I will continue to pray “Thy will be done” because I know He only wants the best for me. My God is an awesome God!

Contributing Works Tea Talk

TEA TALK: Make Tea, Not War

by Mary Murkin

Tea is here to stay! It has been an important part of our history; no less so in times of conflict. There was that little bit of business back in 1773 in the Boston Harbor that seemed to put our treatment of tea in a bad light. This was a key event in the American Revolution against the mother country—the British Empire. There was some nastiness about “taxation without representation” going on and that did not set well with the Sons of Liberty group here in America. The destruction of tea on that given night was a message of retaliation that stood for many injustices that Parliament wished to impose on the colonists. It was not a reflection of our feelings about tea itself.

Historically, tea was fiercely important to the British during World Wars I and II. During WW I, tea prices began to rise because of so many tea cargo ships being sunk by German submarines. The government took over the importation of tea and controlled the prices of it.

Tea was an essential morale-booster for soldiers and greater measures were taken to try to protect it. Two days after WW II broke out, the British government took control of all the tea stocks and ordered that they be safely stored in warehouses outside of the capital in case of bombing.

Due to blockades in the water, tea ships could not get through to deliver tea. The Ministry of Food began to ration tea in 1940. They introduced a ration of two ounces of tea per person per week for those citizens over the age of five. There was extra tea allowed for those in the armed forces, and for firemen and steel workers. Tea was also sent to British prisoners of war abroad. Tea rationing did not end when the war ended in 1945. Tea remained rationed until October of 1952.

At this point in time, we are now lucky enough to get all the tea we want, when we want it and in so many varieties. Let’s hope we will never again have to come to such measures as people had to bear in the recent past. We are lucky enough to enjoy our tea without a threat of it being taken away from us. For that, we should celebrate! Raise your teacups or glasses to a toast and then “Bottoms up!”

Mary Murkin is the owner of Carriage House Tea which is sold at Brightside Gallery, 170 Worth Street, Asheboro, NC. Contact her at:

Brightside Gallery
170 Worth Street
Asheboro, NC 27203


Contributing Works

Of Raw Eggs and Smashes

By Jimmy Moody

Several years ago out third rock witnessed a partial eclipse.  I happened to be visiting the Ramseur Library at the time and thought I’d stroll down the street and take it all in.  I was raised on Main Street and it was my playground until we moved two miles away when I was eleven.  Two miles is a canyon at that age..

Downtown seemed even more quiet than usual, if that is possible.  I took a seat in front of what (in the old days) was Ramseur’s Mel’s Diver.  I was hoping for a bit of peace to enjoy the rare event.  It soon became apparent to this native son that I wasn’t alone.  From behind me, I heard Melvin ask me how I wanted my burger. “Everything but slaw, Mr. Murry”!  Thirty yards to my right Craven Shoemaker had stepped out from the feed mill to see how dark it was getting.  He told me many times how my Dad snuck into the mill’s bell tower and woke up the Town to celebrate VE day.  Across the street was kindly Doc Whitehead, whose fountain made cherry smashes that were to “die” for. Pep Watkins was selling someone a refrigerator and Hester Gooch was making future business for our dentist, with his counter of candy.  Garland Allen was negotiating a loan at the Bank of Coleridge and Madge Kivett and Page Craven were turning on the lights in their clothing store so no would trip.    Alan Leonard was making out a money order at the Post Office and Grady Lawson stepped away from his carburetors to see the spectacle.   Grant Kivett was in a booth at the Ramseur Diner with Harrison Cheek.  Harrison was reminding the waitress not to forget to mix a raw egg in his milkshake, he said it was good for his hair.  I always thought he had a remarkable resemblance to Glenn Campbell anyway.  Kermit Pell was stacking burlap sacks of various seeds in front of his grocery.  I can still smell them.  

Anyone who grew up there in the mic ’50s and ’60s knows exactly what (and who) I am talking about.  I’ve seen Pearl Harbor, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Alamo, Pikes Peak, and numerous other famous and not so famous sites, and everywhere I went I took a little bit of Ramseur with me. This Town leaves it’s imprint with you, and as time goes by, you consider yourself blessed because of it.  I’ve always taken solace in the truth that if you keep people in your heart and honor their memory, they are never really gone.  So for one day, at least for this particular Ramsonian, Ramseur was there in my 10-year-old memory.  Good Lord willing, I’ll see all of you again.

The older we get, the more precious memories become. This is especially true if you were fortunate to have grown up in Ramseur.  Our town is still a great place to live, but the old charm of a small town seems to have faded into memory.  Ramseur used to be a thriving town, with numerous factories and industries. We had a theater, Diary that produced ice cream, several hardware stores, building supply stores, furniture stores, clothing stores, numerous cafes, and of course a bunch of service stations. The old Ramseur High School was the center of activity and Ramseur even had their own marching band.   Highway 64 came through the outskirts of town, but Main Street was still thriving and the “place” to own a business. The Cotton Mill was a major employer, and there was a grist mill in the center of town that ground corn and grain from local farmers into feed and flour.  Some of these memories are expressed in a letter I received from an old Ramseur classmate.  Jimmy Moody graduated ERHS in ’72 and like most of the graduating class, he moved away from Ramseur, but the memories of growing up here remained with him.

Jimmy’s letter evokes memories of a much simpler time…

Contributing Works Uncategorized Wealth of Our Community

Grace Saunders Kimrey: “Poet Laureate of Liberty Street”

Grace Evelyn Saunders Kimrey (1910-2001) was the “Poet Laureate of Liberty Street.” I called her “Miss Grace” in deference, and to flatter her, I once asked if she thought her books would become a “best seller” — to which she replied “it would be nice, but poetry rarely sells!” Another reflection on Miss Grace’s wit is a statement I attribute to her regarding her husband Sam. Although I have remembered it all these years, but can no longer find it in any of her books. You might say it is not poetic, but more of a tribute: “My husband is a millionaire, he told me so today, but if I ever leave him, he will be poor again!”

Certainly many old timers would remember “Miss Grace” Kimrey and her husband “Mr. Sam” (1909-2000). He was a flat surface roofer of the old school using hot pitch, gravel, and mops weighing up to 75 pounds when fully loaded with molten pitch. He retired from roofing in the 1970s and left their son Gary (1931-2019) to continue the trade. In retirement, Sam and Grace had a furniture store in the Vaughan Marley Store building on Liberty Street. It has been vacant for many years and remains so to this day.

The Kimrey’s were active in the business community and regular attendees of the Ramseur Baptist Church (now called First Baptist Church of Ramseur). The church was about 75 yards from the Kimrey’s front door where they served in various leadership roles as Sunday school teachers and officers. Mr. Sam was a dapper chap with interesting hobbies including collecting rocks and arrowheads and participating in community activities such as the Lions Club, the campaign in the late 1950s to light the Ramseur High School Athletic Field. He was also involved in many school and church-related activities — even playing Santa Clause for the local schools.

But back to the poetry of Miss Grace. To my knowledge she wrote four short books and a regular column in a local newspaper:

Songs of Sunny Valley. Banner Press, Emory University Georgia 1954.
The Star of Hope. Banner Press, Emory University Georgia 1954.
Glimpses of Beauty. Banner Press, Emory University Georgia 1955
“The Morning Star.” Bicentennial Edition. (This is a history of Ramseur. ) Published by Grace Saunders Kimrey. 1976.

Miss Grace (Class of 1938 Ramseur High School) had no formal academic training in writing poetry but was obviously well read and gifted. Archibald Rutledge, the Poet Laureate of South Carolina, discovered her and described her as “a poet known for her rare, loving, admirable spirit.” She offered to sign copies for those who sent them to her. I have several of her carefully inscribed books in her neat cursive handwriting.

Miss Grace’s inspiration came from her surroundings and the neighborhood children. My sister Celeste Brady Byrnes and I grew up next door to the Kimrey’s dining room. Our Mother Sally Brady’s beauty shop shared a lawn with the Kimrey’s. The Kermit Pell family lived up Liberty Street and there was always constant street traffic daily and for the church on Sunday (and midweek prayer service). In several of her poems Miss Grace mentioned the people who inspired her – telling them privately they were her subjects. She liked my Mom’s roses and admired her work ethic.

Miss Grace’s book “Songs of Sunny Valley” was based on views from her home and the neighborhood children around her. She described the title of her book as coming from her efforts to name the Kimrey home.

One of her poems which most people can relate to regardless of age:
“How do you feel when you feel old?””

When Mother heard
Some young folks say,
“O, we feel so old today,”
She looked at them
With age-dimmed eyes
As if she wished
To chide or scold
And gently asked
To their surprise,
“How do you feel
When you feel old?”
Songs of Sunny Valley, (1954) p.45.

The inspiration for the title of her book and the name given Kimrey house merited a poem.
“A house with a soul”

We purchased an old, old house for our home
Almost at the foot of a hill
Where the sunshine is brighter
And the bird’s song is lighter
And the valley lies peaceful and still.
There’s a road at the front and a stream at the back
Where in summer the small children play.
Here the sky seems much bluer
And the heart grows much truer
And heaven seems nearer each day.

I prayed for a name for our valley and house
And soft as the zephyrs in trees,
Its words ringing clearer
And I heard what it said with all ease.
“Sunny Valley, Sunny Valley, Sunny Valley,” it sang
And the melody over me stole.
When the voice ceased its singing,
These words were still ringing,
“A house, a house with a soul!”
Songs of Sunny Valley, (1954) p.12.

This short piece highlights some of her work with the hope that becoming acquainted with “Miss Grace” will stimulate interest in learning more about her work. Miss Grace’s recognition as a poet continues with many of her books now available on eBay and Amazon.


Pottery of North Carolina

Like many towns on the Deep River, one cannot imagine how busy Franklinville was and how many potters it could support. One of the oldest was Enock Spinks Craven {1810-1893). Craven produced salt-glazed utilitarian stoneware and taught his nephew James Madison Hayes (1832-1922) to make pottery in his shop. Hayes made
pottery in Franklinville before moving to New Salem in 1870.

Hayes may have been one of the unluckiest soldiers in the Civil War. In his book, The Randolph Hornets In The Civil War, Wally Jarrell includes a picture of the heavily bearded Hayes, who enlisted in Company M on Monday 6 March 1862. Hays was captured and imprisoned three times and released twice before the end of the war.

I visited Lindsey Lambeth at The North Carolina Pottery Center in Seagrove to get pictures of both Craven and Hays’’ pots. Lindsey made the valuable observation that he wished both potters had stamps with deeper indentations for it is difficult at times to read their names.

When I think of 19th century Franklinville potters, the “3Ms” come to my mind. The “3Ms” is a term that I coined for the Marable, Moffitt, and McCoy families of potters. All of which were related by marriage. Many years ago, I received a phone call from Dorothy Auman. She told me to drop everything and meet her near Moffitt’s Mill. She did not elaborate, but upon arriving I found that a bulldozer had unearthed the pottery site of Jesse Moffitt. The hillside was covered with pottery sherds and jug necks made by three different potters. The three potters were Jesse, and his sons Manley Robinson Moffitt (1835-1913) and Elijah Kelly Moffitt (1836-1910).

There is only so much room on a farm or pottery and as one generation grows and starts their own family, it becomes necessary that some leave their homes. Kelly Moffitt left the Moffitt’s Mill area and moved to Franklinville, while his brother Manley first established a pottery near Flags Springs United Methodist Church, before moving near his brother in Franklinville. Both turned high-quality salt-glazed utilitarian stoneware. Manley’s son, William Jasper Moffitt {1864-1936) was the last Moffitt to turn ware in the Franklinville area. His ware was marked Willy J. Moffitt. Willy J. was the great grandfather of local funeral homeowner, Bill Craven.

The second of the “3M” family of potters will be found in Cedar Falls. John Pascal Marable (1856-1932) was the grandson and namesake of potter Pascal McCoy. He is probably the most important potter that many are unaware of. Marable was a journeyman potter who had a route, filling one shop and then going to the next. He did not build his own shop until 1925, just seven years before his death. Beside turning quality stoneware, Marable’s importance as a teacher was instrumental in the emergence of two families that would bridge the change from utilitarian stoneware to art pottery.

Melvin Owens told me that his grandfather’s shop was one that employed Marable, and it was Marable who taught Owen’s sons, James Henry {1866-1923) and Rufus {1872-1948) to turn pottery. These two Owens potters had 9 sons who would be instrumental in the art pottery movement.

While I was working at Seagrove Pottery, I had the pleasure of meeting James Auman on one of his infrequent trips to North Carolina. He was interested in seeing the Potters Museum and I was able to be his guide.

Mr. Auman gave me an education about his family’s contribution to North Carolina pottery and the clay that became known as Auman clay. According to Cole family lore, Benjamin Franklin Cole had a dream about a pure white clay. The next morning, he set out with a bucket and shovel, found the clay, and traded his land for it. Frank Cole sold his shop to Jerome Auman, who would continue to make pottery there with the help of Pascal Marable.

The Auman clay was sought after because of its color and surface texture. Around the turn of the century, white China became attainable to some and the potters tried their best to imitate it. The Auman clay was excellent to create the look the homeowner desired. The clay was problematic, often cracking while turning and also drying. Only the best turner could produce the shapes they desired.

James Auman was pleased to see examples of his family’s work and even identified some that he had turned. We moved along to the stoneware and he saw a jug signed JP MaraBle. In his excitement, he told me that Pascal worked for his grandfather and was instrumental in his sons learning to turn ware. Thus, the second family Marable educated that would make the change from utilitarian to art ware. Auman described Marable as tall and thin and related a story of his family’s fondness for Marable. Long after Marable left the Auman’s employment he received a visit and was taken on a picnic by the entire Auman clan, who had boarded cars and traveled from Seagrove to Cedar Falls. At the end of the Sunday afternoon Marable did not want them to leave, and this was the last time that they would see him alive. Wally Jarrell identified another soldier-potter in the Grays Chapel area. His name was William Clay Routh (1835-1910) and he enlisted in Company Mon 10 June 1861. In 1870 he and Manley Robinson Moffitt filed an Article of Agreement to produce stoneware pottery. Throughout his life he is listed as a farmer and potter on the census records. Routh stamped his ware WC Ruth. He is buried at Grays Chapel United Methodist Church.

Joseph Sand Pottery can be found at 2555 George York Rd. Randleman, NC. This is a little confusing to me because the shop seems closer to Central Falls. Joseph apprenticed under Mark Hewitt in Pittsboro, NC. Hewitt is an interesting character. His father worked for Spode in England and he was one of the last apprentices of Michael Cardew, one of the greatest English potters of the 20th century. Sand is known for his extremely large pots. He has sales a number of times a year and you can receive information about them at His wood fired kiln reminds me of an overturned boat.

Hal and Elanor Pugh have done an amazing job of documenting the Quaker potters in the New Salem area forms the late 18th to early 19th century. These potters were producing lead glazed earthenware, some with intricate slip decorations. Peter Dicks, Henry Watkins, and William Dennis all made pottery here. Peter Dicks was perhaps the first potter in the area and possibly influenced William Dennis in the pottery trade, who in turn influenced Watkins. All were neighbors and were members in good standing of the Friends Meeting. Being a staunch abolitionist William Dennis took a freed black, George Newby, as an apprentice in 1813. Newby’s apprenticeship was completed around 1822, the year that Dennis left North Carolina for Richmond, Indiana.

James Madison Hays moved to New Salem and eventually purchased the Dennis pottery property. He and his brother Eli continued to produce the utilitarian salt glazed ware that he had made in Franklinville.

Today on the Dennis pottery site Hal and Eleanor Pugh have their New Salem Pottery and produce slip decorated earthenware reminiscent of early Quaked slipware. The pottery can be found at 789 New Salem Rd. Randleman, NC 27316 or online at Their scholarship and craftmanship is seen in every pot that they produce. From our start in Coleridge to our ending in New Salem we have seen a history of pottery that is still being made today. Our earliest earthenware potters are found near Coleridge and New Salem. Families like the Cravens, who begin near Coleridge eventually move into the Seagrove area near highway 705. J. D. Craven, who was born near our house goes to the area around Longleaf and teaches the Hancock, Chrisco, and Teague families to make pottery. Pascal Marable helps to establish the Auman and Owens potters. Perhaps the Highway 22 corridor should be recognized as once being the center of pottery production in Randolph County with Ramseur being as its epicenter.


Ramseur Fall Festival Article from 1989

The following article is of the very first Ramseur Fall Festival and is taken from the Ramseur Bulletin on Wednesday, October 25th, 1989.

Merchant Pleased with First Effort: Festival Crowd Likes The Main Event

Main Street put its best foot forward and came away a win­ner last Saturday as the first Ramseur Fall Festival was judged by visitors and vendors a huge success. 

“It was a great day and I really enjoyed it,” said Grady Lawson, whose Eastern Ran­dolph Boosters booth sold completely out of barbeque by 1:00 pm, underestimating the turnout for the festival. 

Close to 7,000 visitors spent the day on Main Street despite chilly temperatures and a blus­tery wind that kept the crowd in the sun most of the morning. Many of the vendors who had set up booths by 6:00 am were most effected by the cold. 

“I’ve been selling gloves and toboggans all morning,” said H. D. Gooch,ownerofGooch’s on Main Street. “This has been the best day I’ve had all year.”

Many other Main Street merchants had booths in front of their stores. Wayne Stutts and wife Darius, owners of Brady’s Appliance, sold fun­nel cakes all day and couldn’t keep up with the demand. 

“I haven’t sold much in the store today, Stutts said, “but that wasn’t the purpose of the festival anyway; lt was to create interest in and get people downtown and it has surely done that.” 

Stutts added that he plans to get a bigger cooker so that he can cook more funnel cakes for the crowd next year. 

Main Street was crowded by 10:00 am when Mayor June Beane welcomed everyone and formally dedicated the Ram­seur Community Building. Mayor Beane noted that Ram­seur had needed such a facility for some time and that the converted bank building was ideally located to serve the whole community. 

“We hope the building will be a place of laughter, beauty and friendship throughout the year,” Beane said, “and I invite you to take a look.” 

Many people were already taking a look and the flow of visitors through the building was steady all day. Ramseur industries had set up exhibits of locally made products in the refurbished bank lobby and everyone seemed impressed. 

“They’ve really done a nice job with it,” said G. W. Allen, who worked in the building for many years when the Bank of Coleridge was located there. “I really like it.” 

The John Plant Company, manufacturers of industrial gloves, gave gloves to visitors at their booth. The chilly morn­ing temperatures made the gloves a popular item. 

The Weiman Co. held a drawing at 2:30 pm for a table made at the Ramseur plant, and announced the winner, Laurie Spangler of Ramseur. 

Ramseur’s ambassador of good will, Taft Kivett, spent all day giving away pennies and smiles at his booth in front of the Ramseur Mercantile. 

“I don’t want you to go home broke,” Kivett would tell ev­eryone as he placed a penny in their palm. He always added, “don’t spend it all in one place.” 

Kivett estimates he gave away between 1,700 and 2,000 pennies during the day. His daughter Naomi and her husband, Tommy Cranford, from Asheboro gave away 500 bal­loons to children at the same booth. 

Churches and civic organi­zations that had booths reported that sales of food items, espe­cially home made baked goods were excellent. Craft sales were not quite as good, but the vol­ume of lookers was good throughout the day. 

Cheryl Routh of the Happy Hills Animal Foundation was pleased with the number of people that came by her booth and indicated, as most vendors did that she would be back next year. 

“You really couldn’t ask for the crowd to be any better,” Routh said. 

Many visitors noted how neat and clean everything was along Main and Liberty streets, where at 5:00 pm there was very little trash after the day’s activities. 

Main Street Merchants As­sociation President Tim Cox, who spent the day taking care of the logistics of the event said everything ran smoothly with the exception of some minor electrical problems. 

“The electrical drops we had to some booths couldn’t handle the loads, such as coffee pots, deep fryers and things like that,” Cox said, “so we had to get power from some of the stores along the street. Next year we’ll estimate the load a little better.”

Cox was pleased with the turnout for the festival and stressed there would be a festi­val next year since this one had gone so well. 

A steady stream of visitors filed through the Ramseur His­torical Museum all day, many for their first look at items rela­tive to Ramseur history. Scouts from Troop 508 greeted the visitors and gave information about the museum. 

The Ramseur Public Library sold every available copy of the Ramseur 40’s Video and is making plans to reorder. The videotape which shows life on Ramseur streets in 1940 sells for $15 and proceeds go to the library. 

A waiting list has been started for the second order of tapes and anyone wanting a copy should call the Ramseur Public Library or Mrs. H. M. Kivett. The deadline for order­ing a tape is Nov. 10th. 

Word of the festival had apparent! y spread to far beyond the local area. One caller to the Ramseur Bulletin left a name and number on the answering machine saying she had heard Ramseur was having a festival but needed directions because she didn’t know where Ram­seur was located. 

Main Street Merchants are hoping that based on the suc­cess of the festival, it will be­come an annual event and help to promote the town and its location far and wide. 


The Ramseur Fall Festival – “A DAY ON MAIN STREET”: The First Festival

by WT Cox

This year marks the 33rd year of the Ramseur Fall Festival. An event that has become a tradition in our small town. But how did this festival get started and why. I can answer those questions because I was one of the original founding members. Here is a brief history:

Back in 1985, I purchased the old Craven-Kivett clothing store building on Main Street and relocated Zack White Leather Co from Raleigh to downtown Ramseur.  At that time, the  Ramseur downtown was still thriving. There was over 20 small business located on the short stretch called the Downtown Business District. Soon, the Ramseur Pharmacy closed and Mickey Whitehead moved to the new Rite Aid located on Hwy 64.  Soon after that, First Citizen Bank, formerly the Bank of Coleridge, moved into their new location located across from the old Coble Diary on Hwy 64.  

While some businesses had moved away, still many chose to remain.  Kermit Pell had closed his grocery store and the new owner Wayne Clark was in the process of opening a clothing store in the old building.  Brady Appliance Service had changed owners and now Wayne and Darius Stutts operated the longtime appliance store. Pep’s Appliance had split between Jr. Blackard, who ran the appliance business, and Bud Whillet who handled the service end of the business and Grady Lawson ran the NAPA store.  

Needless to say, Main Street was changing. The once “center of Town” was shifting toward Highway 64.  There were still several businesses that chose to stay downtown, and we were one of them.  Gooches Dime Store still operated as he had for decades, and the Ramseur Diner still served three meals daily, six days a week. The Town Hall was just around the corner and the Post Office still drew people downtown.  There was Albert Chilton’s barbershop, Ramseur Beauty Shop, Allen’s Insurance, and The Ramseur Library among other businesses still located downtown. Centura Bank and Jordan Memorial Methodist Church were there too. All of these older businesses were struggling and there was a feeling that the “Town” had shifted their interest towards the 64 corridor to the north. 

To bring the merchants together into one unified “voice”, the merchants decided to form a Merchants Association. In the spring of 1989, The Main Street Merchants Association was created and our first endeavor was to have a Bar-B-Que on Main Street to raise funds. Julian Butler did the cooking and the merchants sold sandwiches. It went so well that it was decided to try a festival in the fall. I had worked many festivals in my years of selling leather goods, but never put on a festival myself.  The first thing we did was to get permission from our Mayor, June Bean who thought it was a great idea. Next, we polled all the merchants to get ideas as to the layout and dates. We contacted Dwight Holland of the Randolph Arts Guild to get his advice on how to proceed. Mr. Holland was one of the founders of the Asheboro Fall Festival and his advice was very helpful.

 We decided on the third weekend in October because Asheboro had the first weekend for their festival, and Pittsboro had the second. The name “A Day on Main Street” projected exactly what we wanted to accomplish. It was the hope of all the merchants that people would come back downtown and shop. The next thing we had to do was raise funds and get permission from the State to block off Main Street. Since the road was a State road, permission from the Dept of Highways was needed. Also if we blocked off the street, we had to have a fire truck stationed across the bridge in Brooklyn to service that area in case of a fire. The Boy Scouts agreed to help with picking up trash and the Ramseur Fire Dept agreed to help with parking and coordination in exchange for help with their Christmas Parade.  

The biggest cost would be the sound system and to pay for garbage pick up at the end of the Festival  We solicited local merchants and citizens for donations and before long, we had enough money to start. Our first festival had over 40 groups contribute, and all the entrainment was on a  volunteer basis.  We did pay a $20 gratuity to help with gas, and usually had more people willing to preform that time allowed. We advertised through flyers and posters, and word mouth. It was a surprise when the big day finally came and the crowd was estimated to be between 7000 and 8000 people with over 150 venders showing up. The merchants, along with the Town decided to make the Festival an annual event and designate it a “Craft Festival”, with only hand made items or food allowed on the street. Since the charter for the Main Street Merchants Assn was for a non profit, all revenue that was generated from the festival was given back to the town, with the exception of funds need for the next event.

 Over the next several years, the Ramseur Fall Festival grew … a lot. Local artist Neil Kivett drew a historical scene every year and we put it on caps, t-shirts and sweat shirts that were sold the day of the festival. Today, many of these shirts and caps are considered collector’s items. Within 4 years the attendance had almost doubled and the list of crafters and venders grew to over 200. A flea market section was created and the festival was expanded up Main and Liberty streets to include most of the downtown area. The simple stage that had originally consisted of a flat bed trailer donated by Harold Briles, was replaced with a 16’ x 40’ stage that we constructed each year just for the event. We had a midway with pony rides, a small Ferris wheel and games, antique cars, bubble gum blowing contest for the kids and yes, even a tobacco spitting contest… which now seems really gross just to think about it. 

With revenue generated by the Festival, the  merchants were able to purchase planters for the street, American flags that the Boy Scouts to put out for holidays, new Christmas lights and banners for light poles, plus we paid for wiring so merchants could hook up for electricity at future events.   

One of the best results of the festival was the Ramseur Christmas Parade. This event had begun to decline but was given new life when cash prizes were offered for best float and bands from out of the county were bought in to perform. All this was a result of money donated by the Merchants Assn from revenue generated by the Festival. A $500 first place price for the best float… and generous second and third made our small parade popular with churches and groups wanting to celebrate Christmas. One year we had 11 major floats in the parade, and three marching bands. Dudley High School was always a crowd-pleaser with their high stepping and baton twirling show. The Ramseur Fall Festival soon became the premier community event and almost everyone looked forward to the third weekend in October.  Over the years, more and more business gradually moved from downtown and the business district began to decline, and so did the Festival and parade. The Merchants Association ran the festival for several years. I was president of the Association for 13 years, and then when we moved our business out of the downtown area to Moffitt Street. The Festival was managed by Carol Akers and Wanda Simmons for several years. Eventually it was turned over to the Town. Managing an event such as the Festival is a huge endeavor. It requires a lot of work and coordination. As a merchant, it was hard to devote the time needed, but somehow come Festival Day, things worked themselves out. Now the Ramseur Chamber of Commerce is in charge and they have brought a more professional approach to managing and running the Festival. 

They deserve a lot of credit for giving new life to the Festival and turning this event to something Ramseur can be proud of. Their goal is still the same as it was from the beginning, which is to bring more people to downtown Ramseur, to bring people together and to promote our Town.

  Ramseur’s new motto is “Where Friends and Family Meet”… this is certainly true when thinking about the Fall Festival.  Many former residents will make the trip back to their hometown during this time of year just to visit. I tend to like the old motto as well : The Finest Little Town In The World”.  For people who truly know Ramseur, this speaks truth. The Chamber has injected our old Festival with new and better ideas. They have re-created an event that all of Ramseur can be proud of and certainly can enjoy.  The third weekend in October is a special day for Ramseur. We hope to see you there.

Tea Talk

TEA TALK: Yerba Mate (What is that?)

By, Mary Murkin

What has the strength of coffee, the health benefits of tea, and the euphoria of chocolate all in one beverage?  That would be Yerba mate (pronounced Yer-bah mah-tay)—naturally caffeinated and nourishing leaves of the South American rainforest holly tree.  Tribes from South America have sipped Yerba mate for centuries.  These rainforest people experienced effects of nourishment, focus, and invigoration from drinking this infused drink.

Yerba mate is not technically tea, but rather it is an infusion.  The drink “tea” is made from the leaves of an Asian shrub called Camellia senensis;  whereas, the Yerba mate drink is made from the leaves of a South American shrub called Ilex paraguariensis.  Since they are both prepared as an infusion of the leaves into the water, Yerba mate is typically found in fine tea stores.  You can drink the Yerba mate infusion as a warm drink or a cold one.  This is purely a matter of preference.

The nutritional value of the leaves of this rainforest mate tree is exceptional.  The leaves contain 24 vitamins and minerals, 15 amino acids, and abundant antioxidants.  It was back in 1964 that The Pasteur Institute and the Paris Scientific Society concluded “it is difficult to find a plant in any area of the world equal to mate in nutritional value” and that it contains “practically all of the vitamins necessary to sustain life.”  Pretty impressive, indeed!

The caffeine content in Yerba mate is somewhere between that of green tea and coffee.  However, unlike tea, Yerba mate has a very low tannin content which allows it to be strong like coffee without becoming extremely bitter.  It is also proven that Yerba mate is not oily and acid forming, unlike coffee, therefore it is less likely to cause jitters and stomach acid.

High-quality Yerba mate is shade-grown, which allows it to deliver more flavor and medicinal and nutritional properties.  Enjoying Yerba mate is generally an acquired taste.  The drink will have a somewhat earthy, grassy flavor.  You make it with warm water, and not boiling water, as that would release bitter tannins into the water.  To ease you into acquiring the taste for Yerba mate, you may add a little sugar, honey, milk, lemon, herbs, syrups, liqueurs, or fruit juices.  Yerba mate is one of the healthiest drinks you’ll ever raise to your lips.  Bottom’s up!

Mary Murkin is the owner of Carriage House Tea which is sold at Brightside Gallery, 170 Worth Street, Asheboro, NC.  Contact her at:

Brightside Gallery170 Worth StreetAsheboro, NC 27203

Contributing Works Stories

Swimsuit Dilemma

by Debra Vernon

I am blessed to have many friends and acquaintances to share this thing called “life”. And there are two I know I can count on through thick or thin. We refer to ourselves as the “YaYa’s” and we have a grand old time when we are in each other’s company.

A couple of times each year, we try to schedule a road trip to spend some quality time together. Our quality time consists of eating, sleep, laugh and repeat. We do this over a span of one or several days. We have an upcoming beach trip planned for September, and no matter the weather, we WILL have fun when we go.

I have worn the same two swimsuits during our beach forays for several years. I do not use them much, so both are still in decent shape. But I thought perhaps I would procure another one, just so the YaYa’s would not have to see the same old dull and boring ones of years past. Let it be known from this point forward that I am not a small woman. I am not even close to small/petite/slim or any other adjective indicating someone who wears a swimsuit well. I am a chunky chick, and big girls like me can encounter problems when it comes to finding a decent and suitable swimsuit. There are a few stores that cater to the “full figure” woman, and heaven knows I am quite full. So, I ventured forth one recent Saturday to see what the fashion world was offering up for beach attire.

The choices for those who are “normal size” offered up bright colors, cute ruffles/frills, along with one and two-piece options, in halter style, over-the-shoulder straps or tankinis. So cute! But then I passed on through to the chunky chick section. The colors there were not as bold, and although I would never subject the human race to seeing my various body parts dangling outside the confines of a bikini, it would be nice to at least see one on the rack. But all the choices were one piece or two pieces, with the bottom either a pair of shorts, or a skirt looking contraption.

After finding one somewhat pleasing to my eye, and in a size I thought compatible, I ventured to the fitting room. I was sternly warned by the attendant to not try it on without my underwear still firmly in place, and I assured her I would certainly adhere to that request. There were also signs in each fitting room to warn of the dangers of cootie contamination if I completely undressed to try on the bathing suit. Check and check on those two items – I moved on to the try-on.

I understand swimsuits must be made to fit the body closely and also withstand water/chlorine/sand. This often means they are made of a type of spandex material that has lots of give/stretch, and repels water well. However, this also means it takes monumental strength to get the thing on and then up over the body. I am amazed others in the fitting room did not call out to see if I was okay, as all the wheezing, groaning and the slap of elastic hitting fat had to have them wondering what in the world was going on in my little cubby.

By the time I worked the one piece up and over my belly, I had perspiration dripping off me like sweat! No “glistening” for this southern belle! And, I still had to corral the bosoms, capture them under the stretch spandex, and get the straps over my shoulder! This swimsuit did not have a built-in bra, so it was hard to discern if I had placed “the girls” correctly in the suit. But once I completed the task, nothing was hanging out, so I figured I was okay.

A look in the mirror let me know I was NOT okay, as this was not the most becoming look I had ever modeled. I could plainly see if someone approached me with a sharp object, and just lightly touched the fabric over my belly or butt, they would have suffered a debilitating injury from the quick release of the spandex which would whip outward from my space and into theirs. I also noticed my fat rolls had relocated to other parts of my body, mainly up or down, depending on their original location. My muffin top had traveled up to my neck area, while my lower abdomen excess was hugging my kneecaps. All that spandex was squishing me out of my regular proportions! And, probably most concerning, it was difficult to breathe. Breathing is extremely important to me, so I decided to look for another swimsuit. But first, I had to get this one off.

Remember all the sweating mentioned in putting on the swimsuit? Moisture such as that does not bode well for getting a very form-fitting outfit off your person. I took a deep breath (as much as was allowed by the “tougher than steel” elastic encompassing my chest), and proceeded to yank and pull from the top. As I worked my way down, I unleashed body parts that had been confined by the spandex, and they jiggled and wiggled themselves into blissful freedom as they proceeded to let gravity pull them back into their rightful place. I was also able to take a breath, which was quite beneficial. After wrangling around for a few more minutes, I was able to escape the swimsuit, and exited the fitting room with the offending garment in hand to be returned to the rack.

Rather than subject myself to another episode of “chunky chick aerobics”, I decided the two swimsuits already in my possession were quite sufficient for my YaYa beach trip and did not seek out another one. I mean, they cover what is necessary and after my experience of shopping for a new one, I did not care if the two YaYa’s were tired of looking at the old ones. I just wanted to be able to breathe and enjoy the hot tub, without being suffocated by my relocated muffin top.

Arts in the Community Yesteryear

NC 22: The Pottery Capital of North Carolina’s Past

This is our second issue on Pottery in Randolph County, “NC Highway 22, the first “Potter’s Highway”. Renowned potter and historian Robert (Bob) Armfield highlights some of the most distinguished potteries from on and around NC Hwy 22 from Coleridge to New Salem. Before Seagrove and NC705 became famous for the pottery shops from that area, there was NC 22. The history of pottery, clay fields, and earthenware that thrived along this historic highway date as far back and the late 1600’s. Our first issue dealt with the pottery families from Coleridge up to Ramseur. In this issue,
Bob goes into detail about some of Ramseur and Franklinville potteries as well as sites across the Ramseur Brooklyn Bridge. The next issue will examine potteries through Grays Chapel, Red Cross, and up to New Salem.

My former boss Walter Auman, told me that old beer joints made good pottery shops. The building where Seagrove Pottery and Oakland Pottery started was originally beer joints. Later, our shop became the Hilltop Grocery and eventually, a personal dwelling.

When we opened the pottery in November 1977 many people were curious and wanted to tell
me of their connections to the pottery business. Looking back, it seems funny to remember three that
were close to the shop, just down the Old Siler City Road before you get to the creek.

Behind the shop, Mr. and Mrs. Richard Poindexter lived. Mr. Poindexter was a frequent visitor
and fellow craftsman, his medium being wood. The first story that I treasure came from his daughter
Evelyn, who made me aware that her husband was the grandson of potter J. Pascal Marable. We will
look at Marable more closely when we get near Cedar Falls.

Ruth McKinnon became a frequent customer and I found out shortly that she was Mrs. Auman’s
first cousin. Ruth’s father was Clarence Cole. Cole was a mover and shaker in the early art pottery
movement. Cole died young and will be remembered for his accomplishments with transition glazes,
especially chrome red and ferruginous washed salt glaze. He also built the first horizontal pug mill, using
an auger blade and the transmission of his Dodge truck.

My third visitor was Junior Staley. After I began building my groundhog kiln, Junior became
interested in being a brick mason and son of a potter. I had met his father, the Reverend Audy Staley, a
former potter, that Mrs. Auman had found alive during some of her research. Junior gave me one of his
trowels that I greatly value and will use as I now tear down the old kiln to rebuild it.

Closer to Ramseur my attention has been drawn to a potter named W .T. Hutson on whom I still
have limited information. Terry Zug in his book Turners and Burners. gives Hutson’s birth date as circa
1852 with no death date given. His work was extremely well-turned utilitarian stoneware and stamped
W. Hutson/Reed Creek PO NC.

Ramseur has its own Brooklyn Bridge. After crossing the bridge, the road split. Follow the left
towards “The Ridge” and Andrew Jackson (raven’s shop could have been found. Here he made salt
glazed utilitarian stoneware. In the 1970s Mrs. Auman stated that the walls and part of the chimney of
(raven’s groundhog kiln remained standing.

If you had taken the right fork and gone to the end of Brooklyn Ave. turned right, and right again
you would have been in the driveway of Archie and Yvonne Teague. Archie was the son of one of the
most talented potters of the twentieth century, James Goodwin Teague. Archie learned from his father
and uncle and turned pottery for C.C. Cole and later J.B. Cole where Yvonne also worked. Here Nell Cole
Graves would pay him by the hour instead of by the piece for some very difficult shapes.

In 1967 Archie, Yvonne, and Yvonne’s father, Homer Hancock opened the H&T Pottery on Mack
Rd. in Asheboro. The shop remained open until 1972 when economic conditions contributed to the
closing of a number of smaller pottery shops. Archie and Yvonne made many eye-pleasing shapes and
developed a palette of unleaded glazes with the help of Baxter Mackenzie.

For the next twenty-five years, Archie spent his working hours at the Asheboro Fire Department, but his mind never stopped thinking about what he was going to do after he retired. I met Archie in the 1980s through a mutual friend, Roger Hicks, who Archie worked with at the fire department. Mrs. Auman had told me so much about Teague that he was already my “hero” before we ever met.

One Saturday when I was having a great deal of difficulty with the arch of my kiln Roger told Archie I was stuck and he appeared and helped me in laying out the arch. He did this with a large piece of cardboard in the parking lot of the shop. He then educated me on how to build the arch. I began building the arch and expected to see Teague come to check on my progress and see if I was doing things correctly. I felt abandoned. Later, I found out from Roger that Archie was checking my progress daily. Ever being the teacher, he made sure I did everything correctly and only correcting when necessary.

As retirement neared Archie again made one of his appearances and said he would like to begin making pottery again. I asked if he would consider making pottery for our shop. He said he would think about it. The next day he had off he came by the shop and made fifteen pitchers. We agreed on a price of a dollar apiece. The next day off, Archie said he wanted to see what he “could do.” In an hour he made sixty candleholders. That added up to sixty dollars an hour. 1 wondered if I had just gone broke? Things sold quickly and I should never have worried. A little later Yvonne began making pottery for the shop also. When Archie came to the shop, I had become complacent with my work. He realized this and challenged me to improve. He would make a new shape. I would make at it, and he would say push that shape as far into space as you can before it falls, remember you can have a piece of great beauty or it could fall. What would you be happiest with?

Good things began to come to an end and the Teague’s first built a wood-fired kiln and shop on their pottery here in Ramseur. We would often hear Archie’s truck before we saw it on Saturday mornings. He would pull in the parking lot of the shop and would sell his ware to before they could get into the shop. Good-naturedly, he and Betty Jo would get into a shouting match with each other.

Archie had land on Hwy 705 where his grandfather had made pottery in a section called Longleaf. Here he built his shop and a wood-fired kiln. Here also, he helped develop the careers of many upcoming potters. Sadly, Archie and Yvonne left us too early. We have our cherished memories of them and the pottery that helps to brighten our world.
Another extension of a well-known pottery family in Ramseur could be found on Highway 64. Juanita Luther was the granddaughter of Seagrove area potter Henry Chrisco who made utilitarian ware until the late 1930s. Juanita proudly displayed a picture of Henry in front of his shop looking at a firing of churns, crocks, and jugs. After his death, Chrisco’s shop was given to the Smithsonian Institution for display there.

Juanita, her husband Horace, and son Chris (we adopted Chris as our “fourth son”) all learned to turn pottery. Juanita tended to gravitate to smaller items such as miniature tea sets. Horace was a good turner but his lifelong interest in mechanics helped him design a rheostatic powered pottery wheel. When Horace died, I needed to pass the sad news to fellow potter Faye Baker in Seattle, Washington. She was saddened by his death but said she remembered Horace daily, when she worked on the wheel, he made for her.

Our “son Chris” spent many hours learning to firewood kilns, turning, and trying to perfect the whole pottery-making process. Today he owns Chris Luther Pottery on the Jugtown Rd. near Seagrove. Chris has developed his own style of pottery with traditional influences like his grandfather and Archie Teague.
Now, close to fifty years ago Betty Jo and I met a leather craftsman at a show. We found out he was from Ramseur and his name was Tim Cox. Tim showed an interest in pottery. Over the years he has developed that interest and makes pottery in his basement. When you enter Zack White Leather, take a look at his pottery on the front wall.
To end this month’s journey, we travel across Highway 64 and travel toward Franklinville where would have found the pottery of another Craven with a most distinguished name. Emory John Vandervere Craven (1826-1910} was a contemporary of John Anderson (raven’s sons that we have previously looked at. His salt. – glazed ware was extremely well turned and well glazed. His ware was stamped, E JV Craven. During the War Between the States, Craven served in the Confederate Navy.

Next Month, Franklinville and beyond.