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.


The Greatest Generation

By WT Cox

Do you remember when you were 17 years old?  What were your ambitions?  What were your goals in life? The current generation has so many opportunities before them that it is hard to plan for just one goal, and many seem confused and unsure as to what path they should take in life. Technology has created countless opportunities that were un-imagined a couple of generations ago.  Today, the world seems to be in a constant state of turmoil, but compared to the world of the 1940s, our time is still very calm. We have the security of living in a “free” country with amenities that our parents could not have imagined. Today, we have comforts like air conditioning and cell phones, provisions like social security, food stamps, government assistance, health care and the availability of food and services that seem to be unlimited. Today’s generation certainly has a lot of options open to them for the future.  BUT, if you listened to some of the comments expressed in the media and on social networks today, you would think we were living in a different time. Drugs, crime, and suicide seem to be rampant.   People not willing to work and relying on government assistance seem to be more evident today. With all of the benefits that today’s society has to offer, many still find a reason to be depressed and many more find reasons to discredit and demonize our country and the future it offers. I think it would do people good to reflect on the goals and aspirations of past generations.   

 If you go back 75 years, the whole world was in turmoil. People were being slaughtered on a massive scale, and money was very hard to come by. Basic everyday items were in short supply. The world was at war. You had to process a card and stamps to purchase basic necessities such as gasoline, and then only a couple of gallons at a time. Food was hard to find… there were no fast-food restaurants and no large supermarkets to purchase groceries from, only smaller, family-owned stores. You had a hard time finding sugar, flour, and basic items for sale. There were no new cars on the market because everything was geared towards the war effort. If you needed tires for your old car, you either patched the ones you had or ran on re-caps if you were lucky enough to find them. Even the clothes you wore were rationed. I am told that designers eliminated the popular “cuffs” in pants and shirts in order to save on material that could be used for the war effort. People worked on the farm or in jobs for long hours just to make ends meet.  

  A couple of weeks ago, a lady who is a fan of the Randolph Bulletin dropped off one of her old annuals… a 1944 Ramsonian Yearbook. As I fingered my way through the worn pages of that book, I was struck by the optimism and enthusiasm of the students from that era. I grew up in the Viet Nam era, and I remember classmates receiving their lottery numbers. At that time, the lottery system was designed to compel boys of draft age to military service. I remember some boys getting low numbers… 15 or 27. We all knew that as soon as they graduated, they were off to basic training.  My lottery number was 327, and since the “draft” never got above 280, I was basically safe.  I remember the tension and the fright that came from being compelled to fight a war that was uncertain at best.  

The generation that fought in WWII had a much different mindset.  Most joined as soon as they were eligible. The “enemy” had attacked our country, and the evil that was the Nazi and Japanese Empire must be defeated if freedom was to prevail. Patriotism and Love of Country were good things. My father tried three times to enlist in the Army, but was turned down for flat feet… until he demanded to be put into the infantry to prove he could handle it…. That is where he was put.  It was his patriotic duty to enlist and many of his cousins were already serving.  Most of his friends had enlisted too; They did not wait to be drafted.  Many were already on the battlefield and some had already given the ultimate sacrifice when my father finally got accepted.  

 Imagine being a senior in high school during that time.  Boys that you had played ball with the prior year were now fighting on some God-forsaken island or battlefield in Europe.  When the 1944 Ramsonion was being put together, D Day was still months away. Victory was still very much in doubt. While the tide had turned in the Pacific, the Nazi regime still held most of Europe and the free world was in danger of collapsing. It was a very challenging time to be a teenager graduating from high school. While looking through the 1944 Ramsonian,  I am amazed at the optimism that generation had for their future.  Surely most, if not all of the junior and senior class knew of someone from their community that was serving in harm’s way.  Perhaps a classmate who has volunteered, or a relative. The ground war that accounted for most of the war’s causalities was basically fought by teenagers.  Boys 18, 19, and 20 years old would be storming the beaches of Normandy in just a few months, yet as you read their Class Prophecy, they were looking forward to careers, marriage, and raising families. The only indication of a War in the annual are the pictures of some classmates serving in the Navy and the patriotism expressed in the “Class Poem” with reference to the Purple Heart that is awarded to those wounded in battle.

A special thanks to Ms. Doris Burgess for lending us her 1944 Ramsonian. 

Ecclesiastes 1:9

“The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.”

Contributing Works

The Joy in Beekeeping

by Christina Zink

Being a beekeeper is a rewarding job. Honeybees are fascinating creatures and their social structure is much more complex than some can imagine.

The female honeybee has many roles in a working hive. She puts on the hat of a nurse bee when first born then grows into a guard bee by adolescence and finally becomes a forager bee that gathers nectar and pollen for the hive. A honeybee only lives six weeks and literally works herself to death.

The male honeybee only has one role in the hive and that is to mate. They are called Drones and mate with virgin queens in midflight. The Drone has no stinger and they consume resources, that the worker bees provide, but offer no help. Come Fall the worker bees toss the Drones out of the hive in order to save their food stores for the winter.

The honeybee’s main job is to take care of their queen. There is only one queen per hive and they can live up to 5 years. The worker bees do everything from making the wax hexagon-shaped comb to filling each cell in the comb with nectar and pollen to fanning the nectar and turning it into honey, capping each cell for honey storage and young bees, to feeding the young, each other, and the queen. They are protectors of their hive and control the temperature of their home. Honeybees communicate with a waggle dance to let others know where to find food. They flap their wings to send signals to others for finding their way home to alerting of predators. They sting as a last resort to protect and pay the ultimate price in the process of certain death. They are fearless creatures and yet gentle at the same time.

Beekeepers grow to love these creatures and admire the work they do. Beekeepers are in awe of the social structure and can watch them for hours on end. The beekeeper learns from these creatures and just when they think they have it figured out, the honeybee has something else to teach them.

Being a beekeeper is not an easy job as the main thing for a beekeeper is to keep their bees alive and healthy. They check the hives regularly and act accordingly with food if needed, treatment for pests, separating large hives for more room, and always prepping for the next season. With many things against the honeybee and the beekeeper, it can be a daunting task. When a hive is lost it can be devastating to the beekeeper. There are pests, pesticides, predators, and sometimes just bad beekeeping practices that can destroy a hive. Taking care of these creatures is definitely a job but most beekeepers enjoy spending time with their bees and doing everything they can to help them ensure their survival.

Beekeeping isn’t for everyone but for those who do it, it is a fascinating and rewarding job!

But it’s often said “if you enjoy what you do, you never work a day in your life.”

Contributing Works Stories

Insurance, Heal Thyself

by Debra Vernon

Recently, I experienced some abdominal distress which would come and go, but never entirely go away.  After one eventful morning full of pain and unpleasant side effects, I figured I had better have it checked out.  This is when I entered the world of “healthcare insurance hell” and it has been quite the journey.

If I go to a doctor for anything other than routine lab work associated with a maintenance drug I am on, it is a clear sign I am sick.  When I informed my daughter of my first office visit, she jokingly asked if she should prepare my final arrangements.  She knows if Mom is going to the doctor, mom is NOT WELL.

The healthcare which can be obtained in the US is top notch.  However, if you are blessed to have health insurance, convincing your carrier to let you partake of the healthcare services and/or products which can ease your discomfort and make you well is a job within itself, and not one for the faint of heart.  Luckily, the career path I have had over the last 30+ years has more than equipped me with the education and expertise to “talk the talk” of insurance.

Early on the first morning of this odyssey, I called my primary care provider (PCP).  I explained my symptoms and asked if it were possible to be seen.  There were no openings that day, so I opted to go to a local urgent care.  I did check to make sure the urgent care facility was an “in-network provider”, so my insurance would cover the cost.  They were in-network, so I arrived and was seen promptly.  Lab work as well as an abdominal ultrasound was deemed necessary and scheduled at the local hospital outpatient facility.  Lab work was scheduled right away, and the abdominal ultrasound for later in the afternoon.  Since the hospital is in-network, and there is no pre-approval process for either lab work or imaging, I was able to provide copious amounts of blood that morning and have the ultrasound performed later in the day.  Results of both tests did not clearly indicate the cause of my pain and distress.  I was advised by the urgent care to set up an appointment with my PCP to continue to pursue answers.

Now, it just so happened I was scheduled to see my PCP the very next morning for bloodwork.  I checked in at the window for the appointment, and explained what occurred the previous day, and asked if I could be worked in to see my PCP.  The person at the registration window looked for an appointment and explained I could be seen in mid-August.  I carefully explained I could be dead by then of an unknown cause and needed something just a wee bit sooner.  They said they could work me in the very next morning to see a Nurse Practitioner (NP), and I told them that was fine, and I would take it.  Meanwhile, after providing bloodwork and speaking with the phlebotomist about what was happening, she went with me to another scheduler and lo and behold, she was able to get me an appointment later the same day.  

I return to the office late in the afternoon and visited with the NP, who was very nice and listened intently to my spiel of symptoms and gave me a brief physical exam.  Her thoughts were to obtain a CT scan of the abdomen.  It was late afternoon, and their scheduler had left for the day, but the NP said she would make sure she had the paperwork and everything ready for the scheduler when she came in the next morning.  So, I returned home with a prescription for anti-nausea medication, with hopes the scan would be scheduled soon, so a diagnosis and treatment plan might be obtained.

The next morning (now day 3 of being more than just a little sick), I called the office around 11 am, as I had not heard anything.  When I spoke with the scheduler, she stated she was working with my insurance carrier on getting pre-approval of the CT scan.  I explained that my summary plan description (SPD) stated no prior approval was necessary for imaging.  She told me the carrier did say it was required for this test, and she was working on getting approval from them.  I thanked her for the information as well as her efforts on my behalf.  I believe the folks who work with insurance companies must be angels in disguise, as I know it cannot be an easy job to perform.

The next day was Friday, and day 4 of my misery.  By this time, I was ready to take treatment into my own hands by slicing my abdomen open, peering into the cavity, and yanking out anything I believed may relieve my symptoms.  The phone rang around 4 pm, and I was excited to see the caller ID of my doctor.  However, my happiness was short-lived.  Per the scheduler, she was still trying to obtain approval for the CT scan, but my carrier did not do their own approvals; they outsourced them to another company.  That company said I did not have a policy with the carrier so they could not approve anything.  The scheduler tried to appeal to them with the information on my ID card with the insurance carrier and explained this was now day 4 and the scan was needed ASAP.  They said they could only help once they confirmed I was insured and then it would have to be approved by medical review.  They anticipated this would happen in 4-6 business days.  

As you can imagine, this is NOT what someone who has felt like crap for several days wanted to hear.  I proceeded to enter “insurance mode” and started quoting verse and chapter of my plan document as it related to complex imaging.  I referenced the mobile application for my carrier which had the info clearly stated that no preapproval was required and explained it could be found on the carrier website as well.  I obtained a cell phone number for the scheduler and sent screenshots of both the SPD relating to the scan, as well as my insurance carrier ID card.  I was not rude, but I was firm in my response.  I could tell she was frustrated with the carrier as well, and with the information I sent, she promised to call them back.

While I waited for her to return my call, I was doing my own search for the preapproval company of my insurance carrier.  I did find a page dealing with changes made in 2019 as it related to preapprovals needed for imaging due to a cancer diagnosis.  But that was not the case here.  Someone at that company was not paying attention to the MD orders.

After a few minutes, the scheduler did call back with good news!  I did not have to have pre-approval (imagine that)!  But, since it was almost 5 pm on a Friday, she could not get a scan scheduled until the following Tuesday.  I was still ecstatic, as we were making progress, and I had learned how to alleviate some of the distress and discomfort.  I thanked her for her efforts and told her how much I appreciated her tenacity on getting me the help I needed.  

As I write this, it is the day prior to the scan.  I have some special vanilla-flavored contrast dye to consume later tonight and first thing in the morning (I’m sure it’s just absolutely yummy), and then the procedure will be performed.  Hopefully, it will provide the information necessary to find a treatment plan and get me back to feeling better very soon.

I have figured out my out-of-pocket expense for all of this after deductibles and coinsurance have been applied.  It is quite the chunk of change.  But I am still thankful to have insurance to help pay a large portion of the bills.  I am also appreciative of an MD office that works hard to help me obtain the care I need when I need it, as well as a healthcare facility close to home. But how much do you want to bet that when the bills start rolling in, I will have to review them for accuracy, to make sure they are paid in accordance with my SPD?  There is no doubt I will be on the phone, explaining to the insurance company what their responsibilities are concerning payment of my healthcare expenses.  Insurance, heal thyself – it is desperately needed.  

Contributing Works Stories Uncategorized

How’s Your Garden Doing?

By WT Cox

That is a question that is commonly heard around these parts this time of year.  Here in Southern Randolph County, almost every homeowner has a garden.  Even “town folk” and people living in apartments will have some veggies growing in pots or in flower beds around the house.  I am amazed at how well tomatoes, squash, peppers and herbs thrive in pots.  This year, I planted some onion pods in a few unused flowerpots we had sitting around the house and almost all of them grew to golf ball size onions that I have used for salads and in recipes. The reason for the curiosity about one’s garden is two-fold.  On one side, people may just be curious and wanting to start a conversation, but on the other side, more likely they try to give away some of the vegetables they have grown.  People tend to be generous with the bounty of their gardens.  Once you have planted and tended to one, you surely hate to see the fruit of your labor go to waste, so giving them away to someone to enjoy is a great option.   I try to use everything I grow.  That means cooking fresh grown produce at home or canning and freezing for future meals.  It can also mean sharing with my neighbors and friends. Green beans are always welcome, but they are hard to pick, and when you acquire some, it means more work. Green beans have to be strung, washed, snapped and prepared… but the hard work is certainly worth it.   If you are offered green beans from someone’s garden, then you have a good friend.   More times than not, the offering will be for zucchini, squash or tomatoes, which are all good.   Once these vegetables start coming in, they tend to do so rapidly.  One can only eat so many zucchini before you run out of ways to fix them.  Zucchini can be stewed, fried, sautéed, steamed or served raw…  probably you will serve them several times a week during the peak harvest season and still have plenty to give away.  

Can You Eat Green Beans Raw?

I am not a big gardener.  My father was, and so was my grandfather, and I  have  a lot of memories working in their gardens during my youth.  I used to grow green beans and corn and sell them along the roadside to make extra money when I was young, so I grew up knowing how to raise a garden.  Now, I don’t have time to plant a big garden because my businesses take up most of my time, so I have opted for a nice raised bed garden. My wife Lisa is very understanding with me not having much free time and she helps me when she can. Our hectic schedule sometimes keeps us from spending the time required to have a “great” garden.  A good garden requires a lot of work.  Daily weeding and supervision is needed to keep critters and insects away and prevent weeds from taking over.  This year I put up strands of red survey tape around my garden and that seemed to keep the deer away.  I also use fake owls and a scarecrow along with marigolds all around the perimeter to deter insects. Last year I did not do the work that I should have and my garden did not do very well.  I was determined not to let that happen again this year.  This year, by the 10th of May, I had my garden planted and most of the items were coming up.  My little 40’ x 50’ raised garden seemed to be thriving. Squash was the first to arrive.  We took a weekend and went to the beach and when we came back, my three squash plants seemed to be dying. Squash bugs had taken their toll. I was disappointed that we only got a few squashes before the plants died, but the zucchini plants seemed to be thriving.  I took some seeds from a spaghetti squash I purchased from Food Lion and planted them in two hills just for the heck of it.  They came up and are growing like crazy; they now cover the south corner of my little garden.  So far we have gotten at least a dozen of these tasty squash from those two vines and more to come.

Are Squash and Zucchini Actually the Same Thing? | Recipes, Dinners and  Easy Meal Ideas | Food Network

  My cucumbers began coming in several weeks ago.  I planted six hills of pickling cukes, but only four survived … one I stepped on by mistake while pulling weeds and the other was stepped on by my dog Jasmine (she was helping)…  but four vines survived and are doing well.   I love cucumbers … I could eat them every day.  I prefer small pickling cukes, not over 4 inches in length.  This year I have been getting between 4 and 8 every day from my four little vines… just enough to keep me happy.  My green beans did exceptionally well too.  I planted two 30 ft rows of half runners and about 15 ft of bush beans. So far, we have gotten at least three bushels to can and have given away almost that much more.  I like to fix green beans in my wok, with fresh garlic, olive oil, and salt… they make a great addition to almost any meal. My tomatoes are coming in too.  Right now our kitchen counter is covered in tomatoes in various stages of ripening.  I have learned to pull them off the vines before they get too ripe because squirrels will get them if  I  don’t.  The produce drawer in our fridge is full of zucchini and we have cantaloupes that are just beginning to ripen.   I planted my okra from seed, and probably should have thinned them more because the stalks are too close together now, but still are producing as much as we can eat.  My dad used to pull the leaves off below the okra pods when they were harvested.  He said it made the stalks grow taller and produce longer.   That seems to work. Soon all of these veggies will be gone.  My cucumber vines are already starting to turn brown around the edges, so they won’t be producing much longer.   I will be glad when my friends ask me “How is your garden?  Do you need any veggies?”.

It won’t be long before it will be time to pull up the old vines and plant new greens/broccoli and collards for the fall.  That will be another story.   

Here is a tasty treat that was told to me by my friend Roger Brown.  If you are lucky enough to have an abundance of yellow squash, try this.  Take a young “baby” squash, one that is only three to four inches long.  Wash and slice in half.  Place a chunk of real butter between the slices and lightly salt, then put into the microwave for 20 seconds.   Yum!

Arts in the Community

The Pottery Capital of North Carolina: Part 1

Introduction by WT Cox

There is no doubt that pottery production has been an important industry in the development of Randolph County.  Today, Seagrove can boast over 200 established potteries in and around the Seagrove “area”, and a large number of them along Highway 705. Many potters prefer to have a Seagrove zip code, even if they are not located within the Town Limits. Just having “Seagrove” in their mailing address sets many potters apart from other parts of the country.  Seagrove is indeed the pottery capital of North Carolina, and perhaps the USA as well, but this has not always been the case. Back in the 19th century, the center of pottery was still Randolph County, but it was centered pretty much along Highway NC22 from Coleridge to New Salem.  This area had an abundance of clay and water… two of the elements needed for pottery making.  The “True Potter’s Highway” was actually NC 22 back a century ago.  

The history of clay and pottery making here in Randolph County goes way back, even to a time before the American Revolution.  Today, when a farmer plows into a clay field, he usually will move onto the more fertile ground because clay is not suited for growing crops.  Many years ago, those deposits of clay were very valuable.  The clay deposits were the foundation for pots and earthenware vessels that were needed for everyday life. Earthen water jugs, plates, and pots have been used for a millennium, and the people who had the skill to craft these were highly respected. One of the earliest known potteries in Randolph County was C. Webster Pottery near Coleridge. Today only a few examples of this work are available and are regarded as some of the most expensive pottery ever to be produced in North Carolina, even regarded by some collectors as “priceless.” Webster, along with other names such as Fox, McGee, Brower, Cox, and Moffitt all had established potteries here in Southern Randolph County. When the railroad opened a spur to the tie yard near Seagrove, many potters began using this as a means to transport their wares to markets throughout the country.  Eventually, the Seagrove area became established as the “place” to be if you were a potter.  

In the early days, most pottery produced here was utility pieces.  They were water jugs, dishes, pots, and vessels used for everyday life.  The skilled craftsmen that turned and fired these primitive pieces in salt glaze kills would never have dreamed that their creations would be regarded in such high esteem as they are today.  Most potters did not bother to sign their names to their pots… only a mark or thumbprint was used to identify the individual potter.   Historians today are able to identify many of these early pots by their style and types of glaze.  Today, pottery is mostly made for ornamental purposes, but still, a good portion is used for dinnerware. A good example of the diversity in pottery making today is the works of Ramseur’s craftsman & potter Bob Armfield and Coleridge’s potter & folk artist Stacey Lambert. Bob’s Oakland Pottery creates some of the most desirable jugs, churns, and decorative pieces representing Randolph pottery’s traditional salt glaze style. Stacey is a great potter, but his work is mainly folk art and is fired using electric kilns. Both styles of pottery are highly prized and are unique to Randolph County. 

Bob Armfield had researched the history of early pottery in Randolph County, especially the NC Highway 22 corridor that was regarded at the Pottery Highway. Mr. Armfield has taught pottery at Randolph Community College for several years and is regarded as a master potter, turning some of the most delicate and intricate pieces. His Oakland Pottery is open to the public and located just south of Ramseur on NC 22.  The following is the first part of a three-part documentary Bob has done on the History of Pottery in Randolph County.  The first section is from the Coleridge area up to Ramseur.   We will be going all the way to New Salem in the upcoming next two issues.

Early Randolph County Potters

A Documentary By Bob Armfield

Today, Seagrove NC is considered the “pottery capital” of the United States with a couple of hundred shops scattered around the town and throughout the surrounding area. In 1974, there were fewer than ten established pottery shops in Seagrove. The rapid growth of pottery shops and stores that support them represent a major increase in the last 50 years. Today, most of the shops are located on or near Highway 705 that runs from Seagrove to Robbins. This has not always been the case.

In earlier times we might need to look at another road that runs from Coleridge to New Salem, with Ramseur in the center.  This is Highway NC 22.

First, let me introduce myself.  My name is Bob Armfield and I became interested in pottery through a computer error that placed me into a pottery class instead of the jewelry class that I wanted to take.  In the hope of graduation, I took the class and learned about the potters in the Seagrove area.

My wife Betty Jo and I came to Randolph County to teach and told my aunt and uncle, Evelyn and Cecil Cos that we wanted to visit some of the potteries; They provided us with a map and sent us on our way into the Seagrove area.  We saw so much that day and talked to an interesting character, Mr. M.L. Owen, who was building a potter’s wheel.  I told Mr. Owen I would love to have a wheel and he told me that he would be happy to build one for me (the Owen Special still sits in my turning room today).  Unfortunately, I had no place to put it.

My problem was shortly solved when Bill Johnson said he had a building that I could use.  When we walked behind the house, I found an old tobacco barn, chicken house, and mule stable under a number of very old oak trees.  These trees plus the fact that the property was part of the original Oakland Farm gave the shop its name.  Yes, this is the same building that I tried to plug the three-foot black snake into the electrical outlet.

The building served its purpose but soon became too small and I was told of an upcoming auction at the old Hilltop Grocery. Many of us will remember going there to get a coke and a pack of nabs.  I went to the auction with $3000 cash and a dream that I might be able to purchase the building for that small amount.  The auction started out fast and furious and I placed my bid of $2950.  I was ready to go home when Joe Lineberry stepped out of the crowd and said, “Boys, let him have it, he needs it,” and not another bid was heard.  We had a shop and fifty dollars to get the pottery started.

We opened in November 1977 at our present location and joined the potters that came before on the Highway 22 corridor.  Beginning at the first shop people began to come in and talk about their relative who had mate pottery.  The potters that will be discussed in this article will come from these conversations with our neighbors.  Beginning in Coleridge, we will travel north and end near New Salem.  

My Aunt Evelyn was one of the first to tell me my connection to North Carolina pottery.  I found that her father made pottery in Moore County.  William Murphy Williams learned to make pottery from an uncle.  Before her death, she gave me two pieces that he had made and last year Mr. Tim Carnford found a third that he graciously sold to me. 

We moved our church membership to Jordan Memorial when we moved to Ramseur in 1976 and became reacquainted with Madge Kivett. When I was younger, I would go into Craven Kivett and purchase clothing when I stayed with my aunt and uncle. Miss Madge found out about my interest in pottery and took the time to tell me about her family in Coleridge. She told of going to her grandfather’s home on Back Branch near Concord Cemetery and finding many pottery sherds in the creek. 

The shards dated back many years. “Miss” Madge was related to Peter Craven who in 1761 brought his family to Coleridge where he was given 571 acres and according to family legend, farmed and made pottery. There are no known Peter Craven pots and some say he did not make pottery. I tend to believe that there is always some element of truth in legend and the Georgia branch of the Craven family claims to have a lead-glazed fat lamp and pot made by the family patriarch.

Peter Craven eventually owned thousands of acres and we find Craven potters in a large swatch centering at the Craven homeplace. Peter’s son Thomas, grandson Solomon, and great-grandson Yancy Craven continued to make pottery there at the Peter Craven homestead.

Solomon Craven learned of a talented potter in Fayetteville and requested he come to Coleridge and make pottery for him. The pottery was long called the work of the Bird-Fish man. Today we know it was made by Chester Webster who worked for Solomon, his son Yancy, and later for himself. His home was across from the old Craven homestead. Webster’s decorated works sell for thousands of dollars today.

Yancy Craven was not only made pottery and farmed, but added a tailor’s shop, blacksmith shop, brickyard, and general store to his repertoire. There is a canning jar in the Ramseur Museum, though unsigned, which was made by Yancy Craven. It was given to the museum by Miss Madge.

Craven land was so vast that members tended to spread out from the homeplace. Going north from Coleridge and today a right turn on the Parks Crossroad Road and find another group of potters before getting to Hwy 64. 

What do potters need the most? The answer is clay. If one looks at the land between Jim Green’s and Johnny Cox’s there is a low-lying area that Mr. Cox took me to. It was at one time a brickyard. An interesting aside was that Bill Johnson found a sherd of Chester Websters in the area. I dug clay there but always had to keep a sharp eye out for a very unpleasant bull.

Turn right on Burgess Kivett Rd. and you are in the area of John Anderson Craven’s (1801-1872) kiln site. Craven and his sons, Jacob Doris (J.D.), William Nicholas (W.N.), Thomas Wesley (T.W.), and John Anderson (J.A.) made pottery there. J.D., W.N., and T.W. left their father’s shop and made ware near Moffit’s Mill before each becoming independent leaving only J.A. working near their father.

A few more miles toward Hwy 64 and a turn on Kildee Church Rd., where Himer Fox made ware for himself and J.F. Brower. In his recent book A History of Freemasonry and the Masonic Lodges in Randolph and Moore County, Wally Jarrell identifies a number of potters that made pottery with Masonic markings, and most came from this area. John Anderson Craven, Thomas Wesley Craven, John Anderson Craven the younger, Himer Fox, and John Franklin Brower used the Masonic Square and Compass on some of their wares. Mr. Jarrell also identifies the lodges where they were brothers. Mr. Ray Gilliland called me and asked if I could find some information on J. F. Brower a number of years ago. This was no problem and I went by to see Ray and Mrs. Gilliland and he proudly showed me a piece of Brower’s work with the Square and Compass, which he was very proud of. Mr. Gilliland was a Brother at the Marietta Lodge in Ramseur.

Backtracking to Hwy. 22 and crossing the river one of the major clay ponds that many local potters used was the Holly Spring Pond. My mentor, M.L. Owens found the pond around 1939 but could not find it later, when he and his son looked for it. He always said that he and I would go back to where he thought it was and we would find it. Melvin is now gone and the location of the clay pond is still a mystery. If any of the readers of the paper knows where the pond is please get in touch with the paper.

A very talented young lady from the Holly Spring area that has taken up pottery is Tara McGee. I had the privilege of having Tara in one of my classes when I taught at Randolph Community College and she has gone on to make some fabulous work. You can see some of Tara’s work at

Join us in next month’s issue, as we will travel to Ramseur and beyond. Click here to view.

Contributing Works Tea Talk

When Tea Leaves Talk

By, Mary Murkin

Gather ‘round and ye shall see, many answers in the leaves of your tea.  Tea leaf reading is guaranteed to draw a crowd at any restaurant, tea house or neighborhood party.   This is a relatively easy, equally light-hearted and very accessible way of gazing into the future.  The leaves can speak for others or for the reader. 

Reading loose tea leaves is an ancient practice of interpreting patterns made by the leaves in the bottom of your tea cup.  The first evidence of tea leaf reading in the western world was in medieval Europe.   The heyday of tea leaf reading occurred during Victorian times.  The Victorian Era was that period in history when Queen Victoria reigned over the British Empire from 1837 to 1901.  This was a period of great peace and prosperity for Britain.

Tea leaf reading took a real nose dive after the invention of the tea bag in 1908.  Other forms of entertainment—television, DVDs, computers, internet– also began to push this pastime to the background.  HOWEVER, tea leaf reading is beginning to make a comeback!  There is a renewed popularity of nostalgic times gone by.

People are rediscovering taking time to enjoy a cup of tea, visit with a friend, share ideas of their thoughts, dreams, or worries, and wonder what the future might hold for them. Tea leaf divination can be done after one has finished their cup of tea and talked about what is on their mind. The tea leaves can tell a story.  One must remember that tea leaf reading is a subtle blend of mysticism, imagination, intuition, and story-telling.  A good tea leaf reader takes many things into account when preparing to read tea leaves for another person. The main things they focus on are the interests or curiosities of the client who is having a reading.  For the most part, tea leaf reading is considered a form of entertainment. One would not base any serious decisions on what the tea leaves had to say. So, to see what the leaves have to show, first pour your cup of tea, and then BOTTOMS UP!

Contributing Works Stories

The Southern Yellow Jacket

By WT Cox 

I love doing yard work and spend a lot of time working my our yard, which  consist of mowing, putting out mulch, weed eating, trimming shrubbery and the like. You have to enjoy having a nice, manicured yard because it is a lot of hard work.  

Not only is the heat this time of year exhausting, here in the South, but we are also in a constant battle with wildlife. The deer love my fruit trees, and usually get more apples and peaches than I do. During rutting season, the bucks like to use my small fruit trees as scratching post for their antlers. Fire ants are also a menace. If left un-treated, red hills of aggressive little fire ants would dot my landscape, but I have learned to keep a bottle of acephate on my mower to sprinkle on the hills when I first seen signs of them.   Moles and voles can also wreak havoc on a yard. The trick to keeping them away is to treat the yard in the spring for the grubs that they are seeking. This is not a sure cure, but it does help. 

The most irritating and annoying critters that we have to deal with are the vicious Yellow Jacket. This time of year these little devils seem to be everywhere.  These small wasps are not only annoying, but their stings can also be very painful. My mother was putting out some pine bark nuggets along her drive a few days ago and inadvertently laid a bag directly on top of a nest of yellow jackets.  Before she knew what was happening, she was stung over 40 times. 

While the sting of a yellow jacket is painful enough to earn my respect, if your are allegoric to bee stings like my mother is, they can be deadly. Within a few seconds, she began to swell and lose conscience. It was nothing short of a miracle that she was able to call for help and was rushed to get medical help. That many stings could have easily caused death if not treated quickly. 

Yellow Jackets are vicious little critters. They are considered beneficial insects because they feed their young on insects that would otherwise damage crops and ornamental plants in your garden. They can also feed on house fly and blow fly larva.  All this is great, but to me, they are just a pest. I was mowing my yard a couple weeks and got popped in the back of the neck by one. It felt like someone had hit me with a baseball bat.  I can only imagine what my 89-year-old mother must have went through when she got stung so many times.

A yellow jacket will sting you seemingly for no reason.  While enjoying a picnic or meal outdoors, they will fight you for your food and refuse to leave you alone. Yellow Jackets are basically the assholes of the wasp family. They live in very well camouflaged holes in the ground, usually in flower beds or around trees and shrubbery, just waiting for a reason to attack.  There can be thousands of them underground and you never see them until you inadvertently stumble onto their liar… then it is “run for your life.” If you just stand there as swat them, they will cover you up with stings in a few seconds.  

The best cure for these little devils is gasoline…   I am not a fan

. Jackets Pest Control Services, Nest Removal ...

Business Spotlight

Business Spotlight: Sleepy Bee Worx

For this month’s Business Spotlight we take a look into Sleepy Bee Worx. This shop is a perfect example of how a hobby can turn into a profitable small business. Christina Zink is a local beekeeper and the proud owner of Sleepy Bee Worx in Franklinville, NC, where she sells a wide variety of products such as bath bombs, candles, body butter, room sprays, and even products for your furry friends. One great product she makes is a Pad Defense that is great for protecting your pet’s paws, ears, noses, and elbows! However, her specialty is in the many artisan soaps she produces. Each is crafted with unique designs, shapes, and scents. There’s Au Naturale, Black Raspberry Vanilla, Calming Confetti, Eucalyptus Spearmint, Creamy Orange, and Lavender, to name a few!

These great items don’t make themselves, though. It all began in 2012 when her husband, Michael suffered an injury that kept him out of work. He decided to take on beekeeping as a hobby, much to Christina’s dismay. But soon she fell in love with it. Fast forward a bit and she starts to get into soap making. After a year of trial and error, she perfected the recipe and process and is now running a small business with a beautifully crafted line of products, most of which are made as a result of their beekeeping. 

Although the soap-making process can be quite extensive, Christina, however, says it is very rewarding to see the completed product. 

To support this small business, see their contact information below:

Christina Zink


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