The News-Topic carried a story last January about Leigh Ann Young's quest to find a recording of her father, Verlon “Rube” Walker, a baseball player from Lenoir best known as the pitching coach of the Cubs from 1961 to just before the 1971 season. He died at age 42, eight days before Young turned 3. Young, 45, has no memory of him.
Though she has not found the tape, 2013 was a year of discovery.
Last January a brightly painted, 22-ton, 45-foot long bus pulled up outside a school in Caldwell County for the first time, with no intention of picking up or dropping off any students.
The bus is not equipped with rows of seats, but with examination tables, a centrifuge and other medical equipment.
As 2013 winds down toward 2014, one spot in downtown Lenoir will travel back in time to usher in the New Year the way Americans did it in the 1940s and ‘50s.
The “Spirit of the USO” New Year’s Eve Party fundraiser, hosted by Pop Ferguson Blues Inc., will take New Year’s back to the days when the country swung to Big Band music, and to a time when Lenoir bluesman Pop Ferguson was overseas playing guitar in officers’ clubs during World War II.
Santa was still taking off his boots at home by the time the first volunteers arrived at First Baptist Church of Hudson to begin cooking Wednesday.
About 4 a.m. they started work in the kitchen of the church’s Christian Life Center to cook food that included 36 turkey hams, six chicken breasts, 60 gallons of yams, 54 gallons of green beans, 54 gallons of corn and 130 cans of cranberry sauce. They prepared 1,500 deviled eggs and sliced 90 cakes prepared by the ladies of the church.
On the square in downtown Lenoir, after darkness falls, Christmas lights streak, jump and dance in time to music.
The light show, which synchronizes moving lights with holiday tunes, runs from 6 to 10 p.m. each night until Jan. 5. It’s the brainchild of twin brothers Dean and Gene Norman.
Autumn House opened for business in 1978 on a small exit off Interstate 40 in Icard, making mostly skateboards.
Founders Howard Pruitt and Ernie Rosenquist established the company to fill a need they saw in the market for curved plywood, especially among the well-established nearby residential furniture companies.
The Chapel of Rest’s annual Christmas Eve Service will begin at 4 p.m., and the doors open at 3:30 p.m.
Patsy Riddle will play a “Christmas Meditation” on keyboard beginning at 3:45 p.m., to include a cello solo by J.S. Bach performed by Nick Paolino.
Bassoonist Paige West-Smith and percussionist Charles Smith will begin the Prelude at 4 p.m. with “What Child is This” arranged by Charles Smith.
The growing season is over for most farmers, but the Lenoir’s Indoor Farmer’s Market remains open.
Jeff Crane, president and co-manager of the year-round indoor market, said the market draws customers not only for such things as produce and local eggs but crafts -- some customers are looking for a Christmas gift with a local touch.
Pre-schoolers sat piled in the back of a tiny carriage at First United Methodist Church in Lenoir on Monday, pulled along by a miniature horse with bows in its mane and tail.
You could see the excitement jetting through the kids, ages 3 to 5, all students at Robbins Preschool, but you couldn’t see the story behind it — the story of an unusual gift.
Promptly at 9, it started: From the store’s entrance, the clanging of bells, a sure sign that the holidays have started and the Salvation Army has set up camp for its annual Red Kettle Campaign.
On this particular day, Keith Stallings and Neal Haas manned the kettle at the left entrance of the store, greeting early risers outside the doors and, of course, shaking bells back and forth, pausing when a conversation sprang up.
The Friday before Thanksgiving, Becky Curtis asked her 9-year-old son what he wanted for Christmas.
Quinten was quiet for a moment, then responded with one word: “Soup.”
For Christmas, he wanted to feed people who didn’t have enough food.
Last night, as the first city council meeting in nearly 15 years started without him sitting on the council, Lewis Price’s tenure with the city of Lenoir came full circle.
A pipe that Lenoir officials didn’t even know existed caused a sinkhole and related problems that could cost $1 million to fix, an expense no one anticipated.
And that essentially sums up a major issue confronting the city.
Jason Howard is a brewer. He handcrafted his own recipes, continuously honing them in his home for more than a decade before making it a career – and making those beers the backbone of a thriving Lenoir brewery.
Giorgio Corso’s grandfather founded a small, metal-drawing lubricants company called Lubrimetal in Italy in 1959. Today, the company is truly global, with locations in Brazil, India and Caldwell County.
As executive vice president, Corso flies back and forth every few weeks to Italy and Granite Falls, where Lubrimetal’s American manufacturing facility is located.
In Meleah Mikeal’s bedroom, framed photos of her crossing finish lines with a paper number pinned to her shirt, exausted from miles of continuous running, share wall space with the numerous medals she won.
On Saturday, she crossed the finish line of a half-marathon named in her honor, but this time she crossed the line in her wheelchair.
Ester Farthing, 67, began working in cotton and hosiery mills in her 20s. Day in and day out, loud machines touted high-frequency noise as she worked for years, mostly without hearing protection.
Over the nearly 40 years working with the noise, her hearing deteriorated until she was nearly deaf in her right ear, and could hardly hear her daughter’s words when they spoke.
Hundreds of people filed into pews Thursday night, gathered with one thing in common: They were touched by a person who was taken in the past year by cancer, and those in the pews were there to celebrate the legacies those people left behind.
At The Wig Bank of Caldwell County’s 11th annual Legacy Banquet, Greg Barrett, Ruth Bolick, Walter Soots, Betty Storie, Kylee Walker and Jerry Woods were celebrated and remembered for the lives they affected pacted and the brightness and joy they gave to the world.
The bright November sun shone on a table set for one, an empty chair, a slice of lemon and a sprinkling of salt on the lone plate that adorned the white tablecloth, accented with an upside-down glass and a single rose, its vase tied in a red ribbon.
Behind the table, a Navy veteran spoke of the sacrifices of veterans and explained the empty table: signifying prisoners of war and those service members who remain missing in action.
Most kids dream of being cowboys.
But 7-year-old Tyler West of Lenoir already is one.
Tyler rides in rodeos — riding sheep, for now. If he sticks with it (and he plans to), he’ll move up to calves, then steer, then bulls.
It’s not always the father, but often it is, who gets upset when someone turns the air conditioning down low in the summer or turns the heat up high in the fall and winter.
At least, that’s how it was at my house.
It must also be how it was for most of my friends growing up because at this time of year, almost all of them hold off turning on the heat. They see how long they can last without it.
An oxen walked up the hill toward the old plantation house in the frosty Saturday morning, a potter sat in the sun, crafting pinch pots, women cooked over an open fire and girls made cornhusk dolls.
As the sun began to break the cold, it looked like nothing had changed at the homestead of William Lenoir, surveyor, politician, war hero and namesake of the city of Lenoir, who completed construction of his iconic house in 1792.
The house still stands as it did then, with the original beams, bricks and floors. Not to mention the more than 300 original pieces in the home – not just original to the time period but original to the Lenoir family, even the furniture and bedspreads.
When Donald Kincaid first decided to get into the insurance business for himself, he had to take out a second mortgage on his home, and his wife, Syretha, “chewed me out pretty good,” he said.
Kincaid started out by himself selling insurance part-time, but today he owns two offices, employing nine full-time employees and one part-time. His company will celebrate its 50th anniversary at the end of this year.
The key to his company’s success? “Persistence, probably. Hard work,” Kincaid said but added that he could not have done it without his staff and family.
Tucked away in the Yadkin Valley on a 649-acre campus just across the Wilkes County line, broken young lives get second chances, thanks to the legacy of a family drug-store fortune born 600 miles away.
It is one of two campuses in North Carolina where the N.C. Department of Public Safety’s Division of Juvenile Justice partners with Eckerd -- a foundation focused on helping troubled youth and their families -- for short-term rehabilitation programs for boys 13 to 17. The program signifies a shift in the way juvenile offenders are treated. The hope is that those passing through the program will help them move out of the justice system and go on to lead productive lives.
Lenoir American Legion Post 231 was down to just five members a few years ago, nearly losing its charter. Today, Post 231 is 40 members strong, and the effort to attract new and younger members continues.
But membership is not the only thing getting rebuilt at Post 231. Post members are working to remodel and refurbish their old and neglected building.