The man who has chronicled much of Caldwell County’s history on film started out making horror movies.
To be fair, Lance Main is Caldwell through and through.
He was born in Lenoir at Caldwell Memorial Hospital, the son of factory workers. Much later, Main was hired to create the first of a series of documentaries on the county’s history, produced by the Caldwell Heritage Museum.
But before that, he made horror films.
On a gray-but-warm afternoon this week, Nina Propst was doing the same thing other 3-year-olds across the county were likely doing.
Freshly in from a bike ride, Nina sat in front of her parents’ television, bag of crackers in hand, watching as the typical children’s-show riot of color spread across the screen.
There was just one difference: Every line and lyric in the show was in German.
The people behind the Pop Ferguson Blues Festival are clear about the blues – what it is, and what it isn’t.
Ask Clyde Ferguson Jr., the organizer of the festival, or blues singer Barbara Carr, one of this year’s keynote acts.
Blues music isn’t rock and roll, Carr said. And it doesn’t go 169 beats a minute, Ferguson added.
“We don’t apologize for the blues,” Carr said.
This year’s festival, which starts this evening in Lenoir, will focus – unapologetically, of course – on women in blues.
For the second time in his life, David Greer needs a new kidney.
But getting one is only the second-best outcome he hopes for.
Topping it would be more people becoming organ donors so that other people in need of transplants have the kind of chances he has gained since he was 17 years old, when he had his first kidney transplant.
Hibriten High School’s graduating class of 2013 crowded into the school’s gymnasium Friday night, surrounded by their parents, family and friends.
The surroundings were as typical of an American high school as it gets. Guests sat in bleachers and folding chairs. Waxed-and-buffed wooden floors gleamed (and squeaked a little, too). Programs were printed on the front with the school’s seal, and on the back with its alma mater.
It wasn’t long after she took responsibility for a group of horses a couple of years ago that the reputation of Karen Guerra and her Oak Hill ranch started spreading across the country and overseas.
The rising stature of some of the show horses trained for equestrian competitions by Guerra already has captured the attention of breeders, mainly from Holland, Greece and other parts of Europe. And in emails and phone calls in the past year, they have expressed interest in what has emerged as the largest ranch of Friesian horses, a breed traced to the Netherlands, in western North Carolina.
Looking over the list of community projects started or given a boost by the Lenoir Service League during its 70 years of existence, you can’t help thinking that Lenoir would look quite a bit different without it.
The total amount the group has raised comes to more than $2 million, funding everything from large projects ($5,000 for the initial fund to build a public library, $37,000 to start the Shelter Home for victims of domestic violence, and $198,000 to help build an in-patient hospice facility, to name just three) to small ones (in May 1947, the league helped a family buy a cow).
Members who gathered Saturday at Cedar Rock Country Club for a luncheon to celebrate the league’s 70th anniversary said they take great pride not only in the projects they either started or helped sustain but in fostering a sense of community spirit.
The nearly 100 people milling around outside Lenoir's United Presbyterian Church on Pennell Avenue Saturday morning could have been plucked from any town festival or farmer’s market crowd. There were parents and single people, children ran past and tossed bean bags, and women and men watched.
They could be anyone.
Just like the cancer victims they had gathered to support.
The Friszell family came together in bits and pieces, from different places.
When Charmion and Todd Friszell got married, they knew they wanted kids. Charmion had always worked with children -- she's now the principal at Gamewell Elementary.
But the years passed, and it wasn't happening.
Then one day, Charmion was reading the newspaper over coffee. She came across a story about a family that had fostered to adopt, and she knew.
As the warm weather pushed in here again last week, it reminded me of one duty of a small-town newspaper editor I learned about during my first stint at the News-Topic 25 years ago that I have not yet begun to prepare for.
At some point I have to designate a Big Bug and Weird Fruit Editor.
A couple of weeks have passed since cheesemaker Liza Plaster welcomed the return of a small group of “star milkers” that had lived away from her dairy farm for four months.
But the purpose of the goats, which struggled to adapt to the change in living conditions at a Greensboro dairy cattle farm, carries a different meaning at this tranquil goat farm in Happy Valley. It is where they, along with Plaster, now are settling into a life outside of what remained the most substantial cheesemaking operation in the county.
Merrium Johnson Throneburg’s love for Hudson happened slowly.
People involved in the day-to-day life of this little foothills town talk about it with fierce pride. They relish its small-town hospitality. They’re proud of its dinner theatre and its yearly Butterfly Festival and the Hudson Uptown Building, the renovated school that now is part of the center of downtown.
Moments of anticipation and anxiety start coming to them around this time every year, when Bill and Angie Warren sometimes scramble to make phone calls and other last-minute preparations for the oldest annual festival in Caldwell County.
In their Hudson jewelry store, the Gold Mine, across the street from where several thousand people are expected to turn out for the Butterfly Festival, the Warrens acknowledged the ambivalence associated with the “labor of love.”
“We always go, the week before, ‘Oh my God, we’re never going to do this again,’” Angie Warren said. “And we always do.”
Two blocks of the main thoroughfare through this town of about 3,800 will fill Saturday 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. with nearly twice as many people as the town has residents, including children dancing to performances of bluegrass and other music. Bill Warren calls it “Hudson’s big day.”
Colten Greer can tell you anything you want to know about Bangladesh – or its capital, Dhaka, or the Ganges River, which flows through it.
He can also tell you about the Netherlands, or Russia, or Israel, or just about any place you could find on a map.
Greer, a Collettsville School sixth-grader, made his second visit to the state Geographic Bee April 5 – and this time around, he brought finished in ninth place.
It’s the pleasantest-looking room that will ever haunt you.
Everything about it aims to soothe. The walls are robin’s-egg blue. A rainbow-hued kite hangs on one wall, its tail tacked up as though flying in the wind. Plush dolls line the window ledge. On the wall opposite the door stands a cabinet of rich, dark wood with glass-paneled doors. It looks like something from your grandmother’s house. On the cabinet’s top shelf rest several colorful, handmade quilts, child-sized.
Each child who walks into this room walks out with a quilt. It is the thought of the in-between time that makes adult visitors here weep or rush from the room.
It was Bob McCreary’s high school coach who led him to the NFL, his teachers who led him to college, and Caldwell County that led him to furniture.
McCreary, the owner and founder of McCreary Modern, was only a good football player before he met Jim “Bull” Newsome, he said.
As a kid in Catawba County, Lloyd Hoke lived right across the road from his grandfather, who worked for Duke Power and spent his free time looking for his grandfather, Ambrose Hoke. He had letters Ambrose had written, but he never let anyone see them. The family called his search a wild goose chase, and he never got the chance to prove them wrong. He died in 1982, never having found Ambrose.
But Lloyd Hoke did.
After graduating from West Caldwell High School in 1995, Christy Poarch started taking some classes at Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute but stopped after a couple of semesters. Looking back now, at 36, she wishes she had made a different choice.
She got married in 1998, had her first child in 1999, and over the years worked a number of different jobs, mainly clerical work. As time passed, she felt she ought to go back to school, but now she had a family.
Her family life only accelerated – around 2004, because of her mother’s failing health, Poarch took in two children whom her mother had adopted, one a pre-teenager and one in elementary school. In 2008, Poarch had her second child.
By that time, however, finding a job was getting harder.
Irene Caldwell is 43. But the story of her life now begins two years ago. In February 2011, she suffered a massive stroke but went about her day as though she was fine, numb leg and arm aside, even driving all the way Charlotte and only getting to a hospital that evening. Many people in Caldwell County know that part of her story – she tells almost everyone.
Death didn’t take her that day, but it took her job. Caldwell just didn’t know it yet.
She was used to working with people, helping people. Doing nothing and living off of disability checks was not an attractive future.
“I decided to do something: Go back to school so my education could match my experience,” she said.
From the Foundation of CCC&TI she received an Anne and Alex Bernhardt Sr. Scholarship.
You come to a 4-H horse show, ostensibly, for the horses.
But not really.
You realize that when you see tiny Moranna Deal, an 8-year-old from Baton whose blonde curls form a tumbling cloud nearly as large as she is when she runs, leading a 1,000-pound horse.
The Arroyos are just one of only 26 families licensed for foster care in Caldwell County. A total of 257 Caldwell County children were in need of permanent homes -- with either their birth parents or adopted families -- as of Thursday. Fewer than 80 of them are currently with other relatives, and a few are returned to the birth parents but with no promise of permanency. Roughly half of the 257 are staying with foster families or group homes outside of the county.
Finding families willing to meet the challenge of becoming foster parents is a challenge on its own.
The county was named for Joseph Caldwell, the first president of the University of North Carolina. Caldwell wasn’t an Old North State native -- he was from New Jersey -- but once he settled in North Carolina, he never left. He received a few tempting offers, including one from what then was the College of South Carolina, but said no each time.
Lenoir, incorporated in 1851, was named for William Lenoir -- a Revolutionary War general and UNC trustee. When Lenoir settled in the area that would later be named for him, he called it the “sweetest place on earth.”
Other place names in the area are reasonably obvious. Happy Valley was named by early settlers who described it as a place of peace and tranquility. Sawmills took its name from one of the county’s first industries.