Sazerac July 2024

Sazerac July 2024

What’s Cooking?

It’s been 35 years since entrepreneur Morris Reaves launched his revolutionary drive-through restaurant concept, opening the very first Cook Out on Randleman Road, where the aroma of fresh grilled burgers still bellows from the chimney.

Reaves got his start in the restaurant business as a short-order cook for Waffle House before becoming the youngest Wendy’s franchisee at the age of 20. In the 1970s, to obtain that franchise, Reaves appealed directly to Wendy’s founder Dave Thomas. Initially hesitant, Thomas remembered that, as a young man two decades earlier, Col. Harland Sanders had taken him under his wing (pun intended), granting him the Kentucky Fried Chicken lease that jumpstarted his career. (Among many other innovations he came up with, it was Thomas who convinced the Colonel to appear in KFC’s commercials.)

While he cooked up that original Cook Out concept in his home state of Florida, Reaves chose our fair city for the rollout in 1989. With expansion into 10 Southern states since then, 117 locations in North Carolina alone, you could cruise up to a different Cook Out menu board every day for a year and still not visit them all.

How does Cook Out compare with another beloved regional chain, the West Coast’s In-N-Out Burger? No contest. Because burgers and hot dogs aren’t the only lure. Cook Out not only has the best barbecue sandwich for my money, it’s also famous for offering N.C.’s own Cheerwine — on tap in states where the beverage isn’t distributed — along with something like 40 flavors of milkshakes including cappuccino, hot fudge, blueberry cheesecake, watermelon (in July and August only) and, had he lived to enjoy it, a Peanut Butter Banana shake that would surely have enticed Elvis to the nearest location. Morris Reaves and his son Jeremy, who serves as current CEO of Cook Out, are reportedly deeply spiritual Christians, so much so that every beverage cup comes imprinted with a Bible verse.

For such a sprawling enterprise, Cook Out is notoriously tight-lipped when it comes to press and publicity. Neither father nor son has ever granted even a cursory interview, nor does the company employ a spokesperson. The marketing department declines to answer the phone or return calls.

What’s next for the restaurant chain? We hope you’re sitting down for this: indoor seating, apparently. There’s already a Cook Out dining room in Kernersville and, rumor has it, the former Mrs. Winner’s on Summit Avenue will be our city’s first sit-down site.

      — Billy Ingram

Strike a Paws: Pet Photo Contest

Does your cat’s expression say, “Mr. DeMeow, I’m ready for my claws-up?” Perhaps your Fido is especially photogenic. Or your Beta is fishing for its moment to shine. Whatever feathered, finned, furry — or even hairless — pet you call yours, take your best shot! From now through July 22, you can upload a photo of your beloved critter to our website’s contest page. Voting will open on July 16. But that’s only half the fun. Pet-loving O.Henry readers will be invited to vote on the finest photo, so make sure you beg friends and family to cast their ballots! The winner will fetch a $100 gift card from our contest sponsor, All Pets Considered; plus their photo will appear in our September issue. We’ll be printing several contenders as well, so — who knows? — your pet could be on their way to Sunset Boulevard after all. Visit for details and to enter.

Window to the Past

Photographs © Carol W. Martin/Greensboro History Museum Collection

Where’s my TV dinner?

Unsolicited Advice

Backyard barbecue season is upon us and Dad’s raring to put some cheeseburgers on that new grill he just got for Father’s Day, along with his “This Guy Lights Our Fire” apron. But your daughter just announced she’s vegan and your son is lactose intolerant, so how about tossin’ some non-carnivorous alternatives to tube steak  and juicy burgers? We’ve got some ideas that are sure to sizzle.

You heard it here in May from our resident Sage Gardener. Cabbage is having a moment. Cut it into slices, brush on EVOO and sprinkle it with seasonings. Might we recommend Montreal Steak Seasoning? It’s like lipstick on a pig, minus the pork. Note: discriminating vegetarians say, “All cabbages are not created equal. The freshest heads feel heavy and are compact for their size.”

A portobello mushroom cap fits perfectly inside a hamburger bun. Coincidence? We think not. And will it fill your porto-belly? We also think not. Unless that cap is stuffed with, say, plant-based sausage.

Looking for something you can put your satisfying, blackened grill mark on? Tofu. Its rubbery quality will simulate that overcooked steak Dad’s famous for. And the “hot” trend is to freeze it before grilling it? Cool, eh?

Lastly, grill your kids (but not in the way Jonathan Swift recommended). You’ve got questions. They’ve got answers they’re probably not as readily willing to share as they are to pass you that plate of charred cabbage.

Sage Gardener

Best-selling American novelist Belva Plain once said, “Danger hides in beauty” — as in poinsettias, lenten roses, bleeding heart, larkspur and lantana — all stunningly beautiful and all poison.

And whoever said, “If danger comes from anywhere, then your eyes must look everywhere,” surely had a house full of children, pets — and plenty of plants. 

C’mon. You’ve heard it before, but here’s a friendly reminder in this, our issue focusing on pets: Even an itty-bitty amount of an ingested lily plant — any part, the stem, flower, leaf — can trash a kitty’s kidney. Your furry friend munching on one or two sago palm seeds can suffer vomiting, seizures and liver failure. Azaleas and rhododendrons, if snacked on, can lead to coma and death from cardiovascular collapse. The  ASPCA’s got a top-17 DON’T-EVEN-THINK-ABOUT-IT list ( Still, the association’s Animal Control Center ended up assisting more than 400,000 animals in distress in 2022, up from 2021. And it’s not just plants. The top-10 toxins include recreational drugs, OTC meds and, yes, chocolate: (who leaves chocolate lying about?).

And please. Keep your children from eating berries from the holly, yew, jack-in-the-pulpit, juniper and pokeweed plants, as tempting as they may look. And no castor beans. (The horrifying poison ricin is made out of castor beans.)

“Away! Thou’rt poison to my blood,” said Will Shakespeare. So before you go hog-wild with houseplants or that garden extension this summer, remember what happened to Romeo and Juliet. Go wisely.
  — David Claude Bailey

Sazerac June 2024

Sazerac June 2024

Unsolicited Advice

According to Simon & Garfunkel, June will change her tune. And according to the Gregorian calendar, she’ll change her season from spring to summer. Typical Gemini. So take your fae-thful friends and family to the arboretum and celebrate at the Greensboro Summer Solstice Festival from 2–10 p.m., Saturday, June 22. We’ve got some tips to help you make the most of this magic moment. Fairy thee well!

Make like a mermaid and scale up on the water intake or you’ll be one parched pixie. Don’t worry — porta-potties abound. As do adult beverages — you know, for hydration.

Speaking of sweat, three words: waterproof body paint.

Show a little elf control? Not here. Let your inner fairy fly for the day — glitter, wings and all!

The evening culminates in an outstanding fire show, where the lawn at Lindley Park turns into gnome man’s land. Set your derriere on your fairy chair on the early side for a stellar view.



Photograph © Greensboro History Museum Collection

Window to the Past

Ready oar not, summer is arriving later this month. Lake Brandt has been welcoming water lovers since 1925.

Sage Gardener

We hope you’re sitting down, because according to The New York Times, “2024 is going to be a really exciting year in cabbage.” Celebrity chefs are stir-frying it, banking it into beds of hot coals and, in Asheville’s Good Hot Fish restaurant, adding it to pancakes served with sorghum hot sauce.

My momma used to braise it in bacon grease, a technique I’ve since discovered seals in the mustard compound that cabbage shares with horseradish, onions and mustard greens — the very compound that, according to the Times, “can make your house smell like a 19th century tenement” but has become “the darling of the culinary crowd.”

Mom, you always did know what was hot and what was not — and that everything tastes better with bacon.

Mark Twain observed that “cabbage is nothing but cauliflower with a college degree.” Cauliflower and Brussels sprouts — in the same family as kale, broccoli and bok choy — have both recently had their moment in the superfood spotlight. Now, it’s cabbage that’s taking center stage on white tablecloths in New York and L.A.’s elite boîtes, going for $18–20 as an appetizer paired with the likes of anchovy breadcrumbs and brown-butter hollandaise. Try serving one of those instead of corned beef and cabbage next St Paddy’s Day.

Brassica oleracea, aka wild cabbage, though not mentioned in the Bible and apparently unknown to early Jewish cuisine, is “a plant that has accompanied mankind throughout the ages,” according to The Oxford Companion to Food. Prized by the Egyptians and Romans, it was sacred to the Greeks, purportedly springing full-grown from no less than Zeus’ own sweat — perhaps because of how it smells?

I’ve grown it only once or twice. I’ve never had well-drained, sandy loam, which it prefers. And being an organic gardener, by the time my cabbage begins to head, aphids, flea beetles, cabbage loopers, diamond-back moths and cabbage maggots get a lot more of it than I do. Besides, cabbage is incredibly cheap, organic or not, even when purchased in a farmers market. (I find N.C. mountain cabbage particularly tasty and it makes terrific sauerkraut. North Carolina, by the way, grows something like 12,000 acres of cabbage a year.)

So remember, you heard it here first (unless you read The New York Times story): “Among the food-forward, cabbage fever is rising.”

        David Claude Bailey

Growing Goodwill

Survey four of the Triad’s youngest residents and one of them will tell you they face food insecurity. Share the Harvest board president Linda Anderson, a retired educator, does her best to improve that grim statistic. Sometimes, she says, it’s as simple as grabbing a hoe or driving a truck.

“There are times during the growing season when our gardens are overflowing with vegetables and we don’t know what to do with the excess. This is when Share the Harvest can help both the gardener and the individuals in need,” says Anderson.

Anderson says donations have grown since 2012 from a few community and church gardens donating food to local nonprofits into an expanding program benefitting organizations, collecting and distributing food to the needy via various programs offering meals and food pantries. For its 10 core volunteers, the need has motivated them to collect, coordinate and distribute donations from groceries, restaurants, gardens, farmers markets and even N.C. State A&T University’s farm.

From May through October, the growing season, they collect, aggregate, then store fresh products at a central collection site for distribution.

“In the beginning, the first year, we had 1,200 pounds of veggies. Last year it was 15,241 pounds received.” See for more information. 

                                              By Cynthia Adams


Dear Editor,

OK, I look a little grumpy, I admit. How would you feel after eating dirt in the dark for 17 years?

If you find my surreal red eyes deeply disturbing, I say, “Good!” It’s not like anybody asked me how I wanted my DNA arranged. You think your kids are so cute. They don’t even have exoskeletons! No wonder you’re running them to the ER every other day.

A cicada’s life isn’t much when you think about it. In 30 days’ time above ground, the most dramatic thing that can happen is having a cat or dog eat enough of us to spew up a blob of legs and wings on somebody’s living room carpet. Or having kids trap us in Mason jars to amplify the sound. Like that’s really a science experiment. Stick to the fireflies and leave us alone!

This spring, all you heard was “Total Eclipse! Won’t be another until 2044!” Everybody bought special eyeglasses and threw a party.

Well, this summer, not only are we 17-year cicadas emerging, but our 13-year cousins are, too. Guess the last time that happened. 1803, when Thomas Jefferson was president. You know, author of the Declaration of Independence. How about throwing a cicada celebration, we, the people?

And who’s this Harry Blair joker, anyway? When in our conversation did I grant him permission to reproduce my likeness? Please spare me the public figure argument. I’m a bug!

You’ll be receiving a letter from my attorney.


    A. Cicada, Esq.

Just One Thing

During a residency at Charlotte’s Village at Commonwealth, muralist and fine artist Liz Haywood decided it was time to try “something totally different, something to inspire me to branch out of my comfort zone.” Her focus up until then had been on the “many different faces” of diversity, she says. And that something different? Space exploration. The twist? A series she’s calling “Alien Worlds”: “By using a palette of warm pinks, purples and sunset hues, I bring an updated feel to a subject often seen through a masculine lens.” No surprise. Haywood is constantly doing her own dive into the unknown through film and literature. “I’ve basically read every science fiction novel available,” she notes with a laugh. Her canvas offers her a way to imagine the world beyond and bring it back to this planet through a feminist lens. Just as space is full of unanswered questions, Long Walk Home, seen here, is also open to interpretation, she says. “She’s walking into the distance. You don’t know — is she walking back to her ship? Or is she leaving and going somewhere else?” Haywood encourages her viewers to use their own imaginations. This painting is part of her second iteration of “Alien Worlds,” on display at GreenHill Center for NC Art’s “LEAP: Artists Imagine Outer Space” exhibition. “Space is the next frontier,” she muses. “I hope we venture out with open hearts and curious minds.” And does she hope to explore space one day? “I need to be around people ,” she says. “If my dog and my boyfriend and other people could go, then yes!” Info:

Sazerac May 2024

Sazerac May 2024


To Cassie Bustamante in response to her March 2024 feature, “Greensboro: A Cultural Herstory”

My name is Mary Walton, and I am one of Mary Nicholson’s nieces. Thank you so much for recognizing her as one of the eight amazing women you profiled in your article. And what great company she is in.

I thought you would find it interesting that my sister, Lauren, and her daughter, Anna, have both followed in Mary’s footsteps as pilots. She certainly paved the way for them as well as many others.

Mary taught my father — her brother, Frank Nicholson — how to fly, and he became one of the first pilots at Piedmont Airlines and later Chief Pilot. My brother, Tom, is also a pilot and is a captain at Hawaiian Airlines. Lauren’s youngest daughter, Ashley (in college now), is also interested in flying.

Lots of pilots in the family!! Ironically, I am not, even though I am the one named after my aunt. 

Anyway, I just wanted to reach out to say thank you on behalf of our whole family!



A remembrance by Phillip Jones spurred by Stephen E. Smith’s March 2024 “Omnivorous Reader” honoring the late Fred Chappell:

Our classroom was in McIver Building, on the ground floor. One class early in the semester, Fred called on a female student and asked her what she thought of the stories assigned for that day. She was quiet, hemmed and hawed a bit, then admitted that she had not, in fact, read the two stories assigned as homework. Fred’s face tightened a bit, then he looked at her and said, “Then take the time now and read the stories.” The class was immediately quiet — nothing like this had ever happened in our collective school experiences. 

Fred walked over to the window, opened it, pulled up a chair, and smoked several cigarettes very slowly. Time stood still, only the smoke drifting from his cigarettes showed that we were not frozen in place. No one shifted in their seats or made a sound. After giving her enough time, he looked at her and asked if she had finished the story. She nodded and Fred asked her what she thought. When class ended, every student left that room with a different appreciation of Fred, his class and education in general.

Students generally did their homework after that and contributed to class discussions. One day, perhaps a month later, Fred asked three or four students about the homework with no response, then he looked around. Most students stared down at their desk and at their books, afraid to look directly into his eyes. Disgusted, Fred turned, walked to the door, and threw his books violently into the trashcan, then walked out and away. Silence reigned. Was he standing outside the door waiting for a brave soul to sneak away before the bell ended the class? No one moved, no one left the room, and no one spoke. When the bell finally did ring, we filed out silently and left McIver Building as quickly as possible. Fred had put the fear of God, or the Fear of Fred and his disapproval, into our very souls.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.

A Gold Star for Jamestown

Wrenn Miller Park in Jamestown offers plenty of opportunity for rest, relaxation and community with its picnic tables and sloped grass lawn, which provides plenty of seating for its amphitheater. But the park also offers a moment of remembrance. At its northern end, a Veterans Memorial features benches, dedicated bricks, trees, an evolving maze garden and a brick wall with the names of Jamestown residents who served in World War II. Thanks to Cedarwood Garden Club member Sharla Gardner, a Gold Star Families By-Way Memorial marker, which honors those who have fallen and offers hope and healing to families, is to be installed on May 25. This bronze marker, featuring a granite base donated by Hanes Lineberry, is the only one in Guilford County. Currently, there are four in the state of North Carolina, with three more being added this year. And across the entire United States? A total of 181. This Memorial Day weekend, head to Wrenn Miller park to salute the Gold Star Families By-Way Memorial and pay homage to those who have laid down their lives in service.

Calling All O.Henry Essayists

This year, we’re moving our annual O.Henry Essay Contest to earlier in the year so that you have all summer to meditate on it while you mow your lawn, swim your strokes or swat away the skeeters. The theme this time? “Furry, Feathered and Ferocious.” That’s right, we’re all ears for your animal tails — oops, tales — and we’ll be accepting entries May 1–Sept. 30, 2024. Got a wild hare? Submit a story about it! From beloved pets to snake encounters, we want to get our paws on your story.

Of course, there are some rules:

Submit no more than 1,000 words in a digital format — Word or Pages document, a PDF, pasted into an email, or tattooed on your body and sent via photographs. Essays over 1,000 will not be considered. After all, as Shakespeare wrote, “Brevity is the soul of wit.” (Why were your plays so long, Willy???)

One submission per person. Email entries to

Deadline to enter is September 30, 2024.

Winners will be contacted via email and will be printed in a 2025 issue.

We can’t wait to hear the clickety-clack of keyboards across the Triad as you type your stories — stories that are sure to make us laugh, cry or rush to the animal shelters to bring home even more rescues. What’s one more at this point?

  — Cassie Bustamante, editor

Sage Gardener

In 1971, my wife, Anne, and I got turned on, tuned in and then dropped out of UNC grad school to become full-time hippie farmers in Pfafftown. We raised chickens, ducks and rabbits, grew our own produce and, equipped with Euell Gibbon’s Stalking the Wild Asparagus, foraged the fields and forests for tasty edibles. We made wild strawberry jam, Carolina cherry wine and ate lots of blackberry cobbler. We enthusiastically gathered chickweed, dandelions and violets to spice up our salads. Though I admit, a lot of things we ate just once.

The other day, I came across a copy of the recently published and marvelous Edible Wild Plants of the Carolinas: A Forager’s Companion by botanists Lytton John Musselman and Peter W. Schafran. Suddenly my enthusiasm for eating what comes natural was revived. Lavishly illustrated, it provides very sensible guidelines for what to eat, what not to eat and what’s best left in the field with the mice. Here are some of the choice tidbits I picked up from it.

A vital caveat, however: Please do not eat wild plants before consulting their book or some other reliable guide. There are look-alikes. Some plants have delicious edible fruits but deadly leaves and stems (and vice versa). And there are allergy concerns.

So . . . did you know?

All wild violets are edible, though, as the authors concede, “The taste of most species is underwhelming.” However, “field pansies are pleasantly flavored and make a good — and unique — snack.” And how about Johnny-jump-ups in your next Hoppin’ John?

Wild violet plants and flowers can easily be candied, sugared rather than shrinking.

Lamb’s quarter “is one of the tastiest of wild greens.” Raw or cooked, they hint of umami and were favored by Native Americans. Don’t like ‘em? Spit them out and use as a poultice for minor abrasions.

The taste of Pokeweed “is unremarkable — not surprising since it has to be boiled into submission to be eaten.” The berries make good ink and a mediocre poison.

Orange daylilies, both tubers and buds, are edible. “Fresh buds are tasty with an appealing crunch.” The flavor is mild with, again, a hint of umami, which translates to a pleasant savory taste.

Silver maple seeds, aka whirligigs, are edible raw. And, sautéed in olive oil, they  have a peanut flavor.

Field garlic is four times stronger than store-bought bulbs.

The pink flowers of the eastern redbud “have a sweet flavor . . . and make an interesting topping for ice cream.”

Elderberry flower heads, when soaked an hour or two in water, make a tasty beverage. The bees aren’t the only ones buzzing over these blooms. You can also make an alcoholic drink from the flowers.

Not only are American beech nuts tasty, you can munch on the foliage.

Chickweed, quite edible, has a bitter and soap-like taste. What’s not to like, say our chickens.

Green amaranth is “one of the tastiest of greens.” Best when cooked.

You can eat the tender young shoots of greenbriar, aka blaspheme vine, though the authors caution that the shoots from one plant may taste pleasantly like asparagus while the shoots of the plant right next to it may be too bitter to eat.

Stinging nettles taste like chard.

The young, tender rosettes of dock leaves are “pleasantly sour and lemony.” Don’t eat a lot of them, though, they say. And don’t bother with the roots.

Glassworts at the beach are tasty and are called “haricots de mer” in France. You can buy them bottled in Spain and they’re delicious.

Mulberry leaves are edible but taste “mediocre.”

Devil’s walking stick is a “tasty vegetable.”

Finally — and again — don’t go rushing out there, gobbling down fruits, leaves and stems without properly identifying the plant. O.Henry doesn’t want to lose a single reader.
          David Claude Bailey

Unsolicited Advice

The season of brunches, baby sprinkles and bridal showers is upon us! You know the rule: Never show up empty handed. Instead of the tried-and-true, aka tired-and-trite, bring your party-thrower one of these alternatives to the classic hostess gifts.

A bottle of wine says “I’m a classy guest,” but a six-pack of unfiltered, craft beer? That says, “I’m chill and easy and will likely stay to help clean up after the party. In fact, you might have trouble getting rid of me.”

Elegant serverware? That only lets your host know you enjoy being served and it damned well better be fancy. Instead, give ’em a massage. Well, not literally — awkward! A gift card to a spa shows that you want your host to have a turn at being served.

Upscale and hard-to-find seasonings might leave your host feeling salty. Sprinkle ’em with a dash of home delivery meals: DoorDash gift cards, so they don’t have to think about cooking again just yet.

Flowers die. But lego bouquets are forever. Plus, putting together their plastic posy will be a great distraction from cleaning up after the party.

Candles are cozy, but what they really need once the last guest (that idiot who brought the six-pack!) leaves is an air purifier. A scented candle masks the lingering B.O., but an air purifier cleans the air. What is that smell? *Sniffs* . . . aaah, nothing.

Just One Thing

(Minor White Photographer by Imogen Cunningham)

Much of renowned American photographer Imogen Cunningham’s 93 years on Earth were spent behind the viewfinder of a camera. Her father, Isaac Burns Cunningham, though not enthusiastic about her going into the arts, supported her education in both academic and creative fields from a young age. When she showed a developing fascination with photography, he built her a dark room in a woodshed on the family’s Seattle property. However, at the time, photography was not a subject one could major in, so she graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in chemistry. Her thesis? “Modern Processes of Photography.” She is credited as the first woman to photograph a nude man, but it was her 1931 image of dancer Martha Graham that caught the eye of Vanity Fair editor Frank Crowninshield and launched her career in portraiture. In this black-and-white 1963 shot of fellow photographer Minor White, we see a stark contrast between the dark background and the light bouncing off of his white hair and shirt. Shadows accentuate the lines on his face. “She likes to photograph anything that can be exposed to light, I remembered her saying,” White said of sitting for this photo. “Only then did I realize that it was her own light — whether she admitted it or even knew it.” Shortly after this photo was taken, White devoted an entire issue of aperture magazine to Cunningham. Strangely enough, both White and Cunningham died within hours of each other. An exhibit entitled Seen & Unseen: Photographs by Imogen Cunningham is currently on display at Reynolda House Museum of American Art and can be seen through June 2.

Got plans? Book Bound

If you’re not into books, jump to the next page or maybe another pub, but we can’t wait for the authors we dream about meeting, panels that stun our views of the world and all the people we meet at this year’s Greensboro Bound Literary Festival, May 16–19 in downtown Greensboro. Like previous festivals, this year’s lineup brings to our not-so-humble literary scene over 60 writers from across the country. The opening keynote event with best-selling author James McBride (Heaven & Earth Grocery Store, The Color of Water, Deacon King Kong) will get things going on Thursday, May 16, at UNCG, thanks to the generous contribution of the University Libraries (registration required:

Other highlights include our favorite NPR Weekend Edition Sunday host Ayesha Rascoe — in person! — with her book HBCU Made; a special event around an essay collection on video games called Critical Hits, featuring writers Carmen Maria Machado (In the Dream House), Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah (Chain Gang All-Stars), J. Robert Lennon (Hard Girls) and Ander Monson (Predator: A Memoir, a Movie, an Obsession). Again, thanks UNCG.

Naturally, conversations will swirl around immigration, climate change, mean girls, diaspora and disappearing, apples, and romantic entanglement as poets, essayists and fiction writers argue about the issues of the day. Family friendly? Greensboro Bound also brings back a robust collection of children’s and young adult authors on Saturday, May 18, to coincide with the various adult events at the Greensboro Cultural Center and Greensboro History Museum.

All of this is a prelude to Sunday, May 19, with a special celebration of author Randall Kenan as the closing event of Greensboro Public Library’s “One City One Book” season. Kenan, who died in 2020, was a North Carolina literary legend and the editor of Carolina Table — the library’s choice for the city-wide read in 2023—24. If you’re a serious foodie, you won’t want to miss the panel discussion (AND FOOD!!!) at The Historic Magnolia House with his friends and colleagues Marianne Gingher, Daniel Wallace, Gabriel Calvocoressi and North Carolina Poet Laureate Jaki Shelton Green. As always, all programming is free. The question is are you?

Sazerac April 2024

Sazerac April 2024


On February 20, an enthusiastic crowd gathered in downtown Greensboro, including most of the City Council members that approved the project, for the unveiling of a statue of Henry and Shirley Frye. Renowned South Carolina sculptor Maria J. Kirby-Smith, known for numerous photo-realistic works across our state, was commissioned to create the likeness of the Fryes, which sits just a few yards away from her metallic depiction of writer O. Henry.

Gov. Roy Cooper, Mayor Nancy Vaughan, N.C. A&T Chancellor Harold Martin and former mayor of Greensboro, and president and CEO of the Bryan Foundation (which paid for the statue) Jim Melvin spoke about the monumental contributions this power couple has made to Greensboro and the state at large.

“They have done amazing things that seem impossible,” Gov. Cooper told the assembled. “It’s hard to be the first in anything but [Henry Frye] was the first in many — first Black person admitted to first year of law at UNC Law School; first Black person elected to the General Assembly in the 20th century; first Black Chief Justice of the State Supreme Court. His career paved the way for so many to follow, people who will come and stand at this statue and hopefully think about it and whisper a prayer of gratitude.” 

Credited with integrating the YWCA locally, Shirley Frye has been the recipient of a dizzying array of accolades including the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, one of North Carolina’s highest civilian honors.

Following the ceremony, Jim Melvin told O.Henry magazine, “This is a way for the community to let Henry and Shirley live forever. So the young people can come to see that, no matter what the obstacles, if you have the desire, you can make something happen. And they both did.” 

Where to see this: Center City Park, 200 N. Elm St., Greensboro

      Billy Ingram

Sage Gardener

As I was just about to toss some leek tops into the compost can, I heard the clear voice of my dearly departed, waste-not-want-not mother scream, “Stop!”  A few days earlier, I’d read about how leek tops were delicious when braised in butter and then slow boiled in chicken broth until tender. So I tossed the tops into a pan, and they were, in fact, quite tasty, especially when added to some rainy-day chicken-and-rice soup.

Down the rabbit hole I went, discovering Tara Duggan’s Root-to-Stalk Cooking — and dozens of self-righteous, save-the-planet foodies on the internet determined to rescue the 52 percent of vegetables we discard on the way to eating the other 48 percent.

So, over the past few weeks, my wife, Anne, and I have been downing stalks, stems and fronds to separate the best from all the rest. For years, we’ve been enjoying broccoli and cauliflower stems thrown into Asian stir fries as if they were water chestnuts. And the core of cabbage, unless it’s bitter, is fine in slaw. And don’t toss those cilantro stems. Mince them for added flavor in salsas.

Loving anything fermented, I decided to try a recipe for collard-stem pickles. My dinner guests politely praised them, but I noticed little wads of chewed up stems pushed to the side of their plates when I went to wash the dishes. Not worth it. After a couple of bland batches, we concluded that although beet greens fresh from the garden were pretty good, the ones you cut off beets from the store were too tired to be worth the effort. Ditto radish tops, though a few in a salad are OK. We tried fennel stems and fronds in salads and they were fine, but the pesto I made from them, with a big dollop of cream added, was great over pasta. I admittedly added anchovies to mine, which make anything better, including ice cream.

Turning tomato skins into powder? Nope. Candying fennel stalks? Not me. Dehydrated corn silk? No thanks. “Better bad belly burst than good food waste,” my Pennsylvania Dutch mother croaked from the grave.

Mom, remember the potato-peel soup you once made, assuring us that you’d been taught as a nurse that the little bit of arsenic in potato peels was good for you? It was awful soup. But it sure made great compost.
            David Claude Bailey

Photograph © Greensboro History Museum Collection

Window to the Past

Play ball! Off and on since 1908, Greensboro’s been a part of the minor league baseball scene and has seen the likes of Derek Jeter, Don Mattingly and Johnny Mize on its roster. As the season opens on Friday, April 5, we’re wishing the Grasshoppers a pitch-perfect season.

Just One Thing

In Harem #18, seen here, Moroccan artist Lalla Essaydi revisits the harem of the Dar al-Basha Palace, where her grandmother was essentially held captive with her young son, Essaydi’s father. The woman in this photograph is dressed to become one with the interior. And yet, she stands out and stares directly back at the viewer. Contrasting bold masculine calligraphy against the feminine grace of henna, Essaydi, who earned her M.F.A. from Tufts’ School of the Museum of Fine Arts in 2003, seeks to highlight the contradictions experienced in Arab culture. But, also, she says, “I want the viewer to become aware of Orientalism as a projection of the sexual fantasies of Western male artists — in other words as a voyeuristic tradition.” Unlike her Harem series, most of her work is shot to appear in a nonspecific space, one that could be almost anywhere, left to the interpretation and imagination of the viewer. While Essaydi has worked in several mediums, her most current project is a photographic exploration of “the metaphorical space of my childhood,” a space she felt she needed to return to in order to continue her growth as an artist. Essaydi’s work is currently on display at the Weatherspoon Art Museum through May 25, 2024. Museum director Juliette Bianco calls Essaydi a dynamic speaker — “magnetic” — and, lucky for you, Essaydi is scheduled to give an Artist Talk at 4:30 p.m. on April 4. Info:

Unsolicited Advice

Is it breakfast? Is it lunch? Or is it a meal to be had between — and in addition to — breakfast and lunch? Here at O.Henry, we vote for that third option. In honor of National Brunch Month, we’re sharing our top five hosting tips so you can open your doors to friends and help them reach that goal of three square meals a morning.

Make it colorful. Not only is it aesthetically pleasing to your brunch-goers, but eating the rainbow is the healthiest way to eat, according to doctors all over the internet. Red peppers, carrots, leafy greens? Yes, please. And, when all else fails, Skittles.

At brunch, there’s no need to hide that wine in your Stanley cup. Your guests will raise a glass to you when you fill ’em up with mimosas and bloody Marys.

Invite guests to wear pajamas because you’re never too old for a PJ party. Plus, it takes the pressure off of the fit pick. However, restrict your guest list to those who don’t sleep in the buff.

Plan dishes you can make ahead of time and then reheat that day: quiche Florentine, chocolate chip zucchini bread, dainty ham biscuits and creme brûlée French toast, to name a few. But leftovers of last night’s dinner? Skip it, even if it is pizza.

Invite guests to serve themselves from a buffet, where each dish is labeled in careful hand-lettering so you’re not embarrassed by the mumbles of “what ever is that?” No one likes a mystery meal. Plus, if they can handle self-service at the grocery store, they can handle it at your brunch buffet.

Sazerac March 2024

Sazerac March 2024

Sage Gardener

Plant some beets. Now. If you don’t have a vegetable garden, put them in your flower bed or in a planter. They’re easy to grow, thrive in cold weather and add a splash of color to your winter palate of pale, mushy turnips, rutabagas and potatoes.

Beets in all forms are descended from a maritime plant that grows wild along the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts of Europe. Prized by the Greeks and Romans for their green tops (Swiss chard is a first cousin to beets), the multicolored roots were largely ignored except for animal fodder through the 17th century. Beetroots, as the Brits call them, really didn’t catch on until the 19th century when the French began pairing them with rich béchamel sauce, stewing them in butter and drowning them in cream. Then again, what doesn’t taste good after swimming in a rich roux? Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic, “throughout the Colonial era, Americans relied heavily on the garden beet for survival during the winter months. The vegetable was considered an essential winter food — especially during the Six Weeks of Want, a period of produce scarcity that extended from the end of January through mid-March.” That, according to the Smithsonian’s online article “Beauty and the Beets.” (There’s also a website and an online recipe for Paula Deen’s Red Velvet Beets.) On the other side of the planet in Belarus, Poland and Russia, borsch was emerging as a nourishing beet-intensive stew, packed with other various cold-climate vegetables and amped up with almost anything on two or four legs. Ukraine claims borsch as its national dish. An X-(or Twitter-)sphere battle is ongoing between Russia and Ukraine over the birth of borsch. The comments section is ripe with fighting words: “As if stealing Crimea weren’t enough, you had to go and steal borsch from Ukraine as well.”

But back to beets. Fresh is best and farmers markets will be peddling them soon — red, yellow, orange and candy-striped. Don’t have the space to grow your own or the time to make it to the markets? Beets are one of the few vegetables, in my opinion, that aren’t ruined by canning. Harvard beets (beets, sugar, water and cornstarch) are one of my favorite winter dishes. (The name is derived from the deep red of Harvard’s football jersey — or perhaps a tavern in England named “Harwood” that was corrupted in American English into “Harvard.”)

I’m not sure my mom (or most other Southern cooks of her era) ever cooked beets that weren’t canned — and then pickled. If there’s a traditional Southern recipe for beets that are anything but pickled, I’d be tickled to know. I couldn’t find one in any of my slew of Southern cookbooks, including the one from Crook’s Corner, though I know they once served warm-goat-cheese salad with roasted beets and pumpkin seeds. A shame, because they’re so good roasted or in borsch or even raw in salads.

I must admit that most of the beets we grow rarely get much larger than shooter marbles. No sweat. We split them in half, cut up the greens and throw them in a frying pan with way too much butter. Butter, beets, ba-da-boom. Ba-da-yum. Don’t beat me up. Remember I don’t claim to be an expert gardener, just a sage one who never skips a beet.
              David Claude Bailey

Unsolicited Advice

There’s a reason the March Hare in Lewis Carroll’s epic tale, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, appears nerve-wracked and, well, harried: We’re betting it’s because he’s just returned from a family vacation with his many offspring. Since his month is upon us — and so is spring break — we thought we’d offer up a helpful packing list for Mama or Papa Rabbit. Hop to it!

Snacks: We know you’re on break, but here’s a little math equation for you. Take the number of snacks you think you need and multiply that by at least five. It likely still won’t be enough, but you’ll get closer.

A book: You’re a sippy-cup half-full kind of thinker, aren’t you? We like how hopeful you are that you’ll have time to relax. So, go ahead, bring the book. They make great coasters.

An outfit per day: Load up that suitcase with fashions for the person you hope you’ll be on vacay as opposed to who you know you’re gonna be. Just make sure you also pack your fav sweats. You know, the ones with the holes.

Devices with screens: Let’s just be honest here. Opening aforementioned book? A device in the hands of your kiddo might be your only chance.

Ear plugs: We’re sorry, what?

Sazerac Letters

To Cassie Bustemante in response to her December 2023 “Chaos Theory.”

Laid up by my third round of COVID (my chemo-compromised immune system likes to alternate that with pneumonia every few months), I finally found time to read December’s O.Henry and laughed out loud over your story of blow molds, which I did not know were called that until today. My three offspring and their two cousins loved nothing more than seeing their paternal grandmother’s “tacky Santa,” old and faded then, lighting up her carport in the ’70s. He was so beloved that when Nanny’s “treasures” (of which there were three stories and an outbuilding full) were offered upon her entering a nursing home, the only item asked for by name by all five grands was Tacky Santa. It took some costly negotiation, but my middle son prevailed and, to this day, it’s the “leg lamp” on the front porch of his multimillion-dollar Texas home, even after the HOA’s silly comments about “not meeting neighborhood standards of taste.” Thanks for the memories!     
Nelda Howell Lockamy

Photograph © Greensboro History Museum Collection

Window to the Past

Did you know that New York-based Constellation Brands has its humble roots in the Gate City? Beginning life as Car-Cal Winery, the company imported from California and bottled here before relocating to the Empire State. You could say it was a Car-Cal-culated move as it’s now one of the world’s top wine producers.

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner

Thank you to all who entered our 2023 O.Henry Essay Contest, with the theme, “The Kindness of Strangers.” Your stories brought tears to our eyes and laughs to our lips while cementing our faith in humanity. With so many delightful entries, our task was daunting, but we’re pleased to have chosen three beautiful essays that will appear in our pages throughout this year. Without further ado, your 2023 winners:

First Place: Ronald Winter, “The Kindness of Strangers, In Unlikely Places”

Second Place: Harry Roach, “The Gift of the Fan Belt”

Third Place: Kay Cheshire, “The Checkout Counter”

We’re mixing things up for the 2024 contest and will accept entries May 1 through September. 30. Look for an announcement and details about our theme in our forthcoming May issue. 

        O.Henry editors

Turning a Page

Nobody knew what to expect in 2018 when a group of readers, writers, students, academics, authors and volunteers organized the inaugural Greensboro Bound Literary Festival.

Founded by book lover Steve Colyer and Scuppernong Books owners Brian Lampkin, Steve Mitchell, and Deb and Dave White, it closed with a sold-out event featuring celebrated poet Nikki Giovanni.

Now Greensboro Bound has named its first-ever executive director.

What prompted the move?

“Exhaustion,” says Lampkin. “Most nonprofits get to that point,” he chuckles. “You have all this volunteer enthusiasm and you realize you need somebody to tie everything together.”

After a thorough search, Greensboro Bound decided on Lex Orgera.

“Lex is an exceptional writer and publisher,” Lampkin says.

A poet, writer, editor and herbalist, Orgera holds an M.F.A. from Emerson College. She is the cofounder of Penny Candy Books for young readers and the author of two collections of poems, along with a memoir, Head Case, about losing her father to Alzheimer’s disease.

“I’m really thrilled to be stepping into the role of executive director in an organization I believe in,” Orgera says. “The festival is an amazing weekend of conversations, ideas and workshops, but we also partner with Guilford County Schools to get books and authors in front of students,” Orgera adds. “We stay busy!”

And the upcoming festival in May?

“We have a little something for everyone — best-selling novelists, award-winning poets, music writers, culture critics, chefs, memoirists and more.”

With Orgera on board, the 2024 edition of Greensboro Bound should be quite a read. — Ross Howell Jr.

Sazerac February 2024

Sazerac February 2024

Sage Gardener

With Valentine’s Day coming up, the Sage Gardener has been sitting by a crackling fire, reading about aphrodisiacs and anaphrodisiacs, to which The Cambridge World History of Food devotes 12 quarto-sized pages. (Anaphrodisiacs? Substances and foods that blunt sexual appetite — of particular interest to clerical scholars during the Middle Ages in respect to randy monks, friars and priests.) But back to plants and foods that encourage amorous behavior, as seen on the big screen when Tom Jones meets Mrs. Waters in a country inn and gastro-lust ensues.

Who knew, for instance, that sparrow brains were prized in 16th century England for their lascivious attributes? Granted, goddess of love Aphrodite considered them sacred and that they’re infamous for their uninhibited and public displays of affection — but sparrow brains? And sweet potatoes? Once upon a time, again in Jolly Old England, they were prized as “the venereous root,” probably because of their scarcity (or appearance?). Which is likely why so many once-exotic but now-every-day spices (cardamom, nutmeg, ginger, gloves, cinnamon and even pepper) were prized as aphrodisiacs. (I certainly see no effects from the gallons of chai I drink every morning.) I also learned that the French ate three meals of asparagus the day before their weddings as a libido booster. And that beets are a natural source of tryptophan, betaine and boron, something that’s hard to beet in the vegetable world.

I came of age in the ’50s and ’60s, when, as Jane and Michael Stern observe in their classic American Gourmet, “culinary sophistication conferred great powers of seduction on the gourmet.” Books such as Saucepan and the Single GirlVenus in the KitchenThe Naked Chef and Love and Dishes have, over the years, fueled amorous fires in so many bellies and hearts. The Sterns remember fondly how setting victuals ablaze — from flaming chunks of meat skewered on a sword to, look it up, coffee set on fire — kindles something primitive deep down in our psyches. And remember Swiss fondue and America’s obsession with oh-so-saucy-and-sexy French cuisine? It was an era when Cosmo editor Helen Gurley Brown wrote, “There is a relationship between food and sex. One appetite can feed the other in a never-ending cycle of sensation.” (Was it any wonder that my wife-to-be and I bonded on a picnic featuring roast duck and homemade gingerbread?) The Oxford Companion to Food confirmed what my decades of dining suggest — that “the concept of finding a truly aphrodisiac food is on a par with that of finding a crock of gold at the end of the rainbow.” However, there are few tried-and-true favorites my kitchen mate and I put on the table for anniversaries, birthdays and other special occasions.

Is there a more sensuous food than ripe strawberries, especially if you share a few double berries, taking just a half bite and sealing the deal with a sweet meeting of the lips? The botanical name for chocolate, Theobromo (food of the gods) cacao, is apt not only because of its stimulating chemicals, such as phenylethylamine and serotonin, but from the sheer sensual pleasure of having something melt in your mouth as it triggers endorphins in your brain. Teething and savoring the soft flesh of steamed artichoke petals, dipped in butter, is a sensuous ritual, as is dipping lobster into melted butter. And how about butter on just about anything? And then there are oysters, plucked steaming and sizzling from beneath a burlap sack atop a sheet of steel over a roaring fire — popped open and slurped with just a dash of tangy Texas Pete.

I could go on, but in an era when men and women endlessly troll the internet and haunt doctors’ offices looking for love, something a London physician observed in the 16th century comes to mind: “A good cook is half physician.”

                                      David Claude Bailey

A Heartfelt Cause? You bet

Six years ago in “The Light Within Us,” O.Henry writers highlighted several local individuals and organizations who were sprinkling Greensboro with goodness ( We recently caught up with Kathleen Little, who cofounded Hands for Hearts in memory of her son, Matthew Sullivan. Sullivan passed away in January 2014, a decade ago. At the time of his death, Sullivan, just 34, held a tight bond with his toddler nephew, Nicholas LaRose, who was born with multiple heart defects. To support children — like Nicholas — with congenital heart defects and to carry on the legacy of a young man who had “a heart that went on for days,” according to best friend Skotty Wannamaker, Hands for Hearts was brought to life. Now, 10 years after forming, the nonprofit organization is still beating strong. In fact, last year, Hands for Hearts took home the 2023 Duke Children’s Hero Award. Wanna take a gamble on how you can help? Practice your poker face and chip in for its annual Casino Night from 6 p.m.–midnight on Saturday, Feb. 24, at the Greensboro Country Club. Food, drinks, silent and live auctions, plus classic casino games? Count us in. Tickets:

Unsolicited Advice

Fun fact: Gary Chapman, author of The Five Love Languages, hails from North Carolina and served as minister for over 50 years at Cavalry Baptist Church in Winston-Salem. Since Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, we’ve come up with some ideas to help you show your feelings, no matter which language your partner speaks.

Words of Affirmation: There are just three little words your partner is longing to hear. “You were right.”

Quality Time: How about a movie night? You’ll spend almost an hour discussing what flick to pick only to decide there’s not enough time left to watch said film. But, hey, that was a good 45 minutes together.

Physical Touch: Big spoon, little spoon? Nah, give ‘em something less expected. High five, low five. Nothing says romance like a “Put it there, bruh.”

Acts of Service: Do you remember that Mr. Clean Super Bowl ad that went viral in 2017? Google it. The point is, there’s nothing sexier than someone else cleaning your house. Nothing.

Receiving Gifts: You are a gift. Remember that. And make sure your partner knows that, too.

Window to the Past

Photograph © Greensboro History Museum Collection

Milling around? A family poses on the porch of their house in one of the Cone mill villages. From the exterior, this house is almost a spitting image of the Glencoe mill home featured on page 60. Can you spot the major difference?

SAZERAC January 2024

SAZERAC January 2024

Sage Gardener

The Sage Gardener had a simple question: What’s the hardiest, hardest-to-kill houseplant you’ve ever had? The answers, as you’ll see, were anything but simple, but first thing first: A majority of respondents insist that for pure can’t-kill-it endurance, nothing beats a snake plant, aka devil’s tongue, good-luck plant or mother-in-law’s tongue. “Thriving, impossibly leggy and ugly,” complains O.Henry columnist Cynthia Adams, who gave hers away “because it just wouldn’t give up the ghost and die.” But they are by no means immortal. My poet and playwright friend from New Jersey sniffs: “My husband killed my snake plant just after we met. I’d had it for about 32 years when we met. Gone.” Along with some precious oxygen in their house. “According to NASA’s Clean Air Study,” a former colleague from Florida pointed out to me, “the snake plant is so effective at producing oxygen that if you were locked in a sealed room with no airflow, you would be able to survive with just six to eight plants in it.” She says NASA recommends 15–18 medium-to-large-size plants for an 1,800-square-foot home for optimum air quality. When you ask O.Henry’s founder, Jim Dodson, about plants, you, of course get a dog story: “We have a beautiful tree fern that has been ravaged by our one-year-old wildling, a Lab-English-spaniel. The tree fern made two comebacks and is now safe in a sunny, remote guest bedroom. Its will to survive is an inspiration.” Another writer, name withheld to protect the guilty, reports “any interesting successes with houseplants involve previous marriages, so I don’t think my mentioning them would play especially well in my household.” A friend from Asheville says she has three peace lilies, which are notoriously temperamental, that are thriving: “one from my grandmother’s funeral in 1995, one from my dad’s funeral in 2016 and one from my mother’s funeral in 2021. I don’t have the heart to get rid of them so I nurse them along.” A former neighbor tells about a peace lily her husband-to-be “clung to as the only living thing he had after moving away from an abusive relationship and to a new town and a new job.” Once they became a couple, the lily survived poor lighting in Michigan, aphids in Georgia, cramped space during grad school: “This peace lily became a barometer for our collective prosperity and . . . literally . . . our peace.” Until “we began the sad trajectory of replicating the marriage my partner had tried to escape. It was a decline for all three of us. Attempts to recover, or even salvage, failed. After almost 20 years, the peace lily died. It took fewer years for the marriage.” On a brighter note, O.Henry’s Maria Johnson says that “probably my longest-lived plant is a next-to-the-house plant, a Boston fern that summers on a metal stand next to the garage.” As spring turns to summer, it bursts into verdant glory, and “its lacy fingers brush the side of my car when I pull into the garage. It reminds me of the way a friend might touch the arm of another while chatting, a gentle way of connecting.” Several respondents voted for ubiquitous and hardy pothos: “It wilts to say, ‘Water me, Seymour!’” says O.Henry’s editor, Cassie Bustamante. But a hiking buddy’s has perhaps the most practical and enduring solution to fading and expiring house plants: “Plastic,” she says.    

David Claude Bailey

Window to the Past

Photograph © Carol W. Martin/Greensboro History Museum Collection

A trolley travels through a wintry scene along Summit Avenue, circa 1900s. 

Unsolicited Advice

While your dogs licks up the last of the sequins and your hangover succumbs to a little hair of the dog, an anti-post-holiday malaise cure is in order. To stave off the NYE — New Year Ennui — we’ve made a list of things we’re looking forward to in 2024.

It Ends with Us. Colleen Hoover, a New York Times-bestselling author, is on fire — not literally, of course — and this 2016 title is her most popular by far. The film adaptation hits theaters on February 9. Just in time for Valentine’s Day, which we’re not looking forward to.

Summer Olympics. The City of Light has another nickname — La Dame de Fer, aka The Lady of Iron — thanks to the iron Eiffel Tower. She’ll become the lady of gold, silver, bronze and “just honored to be here” when the Olympics kick off in late July.

February 29. It only comes around once every four years, folks. Seize the moment by doing something you rarely do. Like balancing your checkbook. Your what?

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. Call it vegan, if you will, but the circus is back in town, animal-free and flipping through the Coliseum in early February. Sorry, Hugh, but this is “The Greatest Show.”

Snow White. In March, just when we’re ready to move on from the idea of snow, Disney releases its live-action adaptation of this classic fairytale, sure to make us melt. Cue the songbirds.

Just One Thing

“My first pieces sold; I just thought I was always doodling,” Charlotte native Nellie Ashford, a visual storyteller and a self-proclaimed folk artist, says in the short documentary titled Nellie Ashford: Reckoning with Ties to Slavery at Davidson. “I started doodling as a serious artist when my grandson and I, we would get on the floor and we would draw — together.” Now 80, she’s been exhibiting her work across North Carolina for well over 20 years, including her first solo exhibit in 2016. Through a combination of painting and collage that often features vintage fabrics that bear meaning to the work’s subjects, Ashford creates art that represents everyday people in the community — children, families, dancers, musicians — as well as her own memories of growing up in the Jim Crow era South. Found at GreenHill Center for NC Art’s annual “Winter Show,” where all pieces are available for purchase, A Walk to the Farm to See My Aunt & Uncle (2023) depicts four little girls running toward the open arms of their relatives against a vivid orange sky. “We’re thrilled to be able to include Nellie Ashford for the first time at GreenHill, especially because she is a pre-eminent North Carolina folk artist, one of our state’s most well-known on a national level, and has been widely exhibited in museums and artist collections,” says GreenHill executive director Leigh Dyer. “This is a wonderful opportunity for collectors to access her work.”


To Jim Dodson in response to his September 2023 “Simple Life:”

My husband, who will remain nameless (but folks of a certain age always ask him how Durwood Kirby is doing), shares your view of squirrels.

One morning, after observing a varmint munching on the bird food outside our bedroom window, he moved stealthily to grab his black powder pistol, cock it and open the window. Leaning out, he shot that squirrel and left him on the ground for a day as a warning to those in his tribe. In our new neighborhood, he has used his BB gun to dispatch three others.

 Don’t get me wrong. We’ve tried the live trap and actually caught a possum one time, but the squirrels couldn’t be bothered to investigate the bait. Arghhhhh! Our Golden Retriever, Scout II, is no help whatsoever. He’d rather play with them and seems disappointed that they don’t hang around.

 I know that squirrels have to eat, too, and they must serve some purpose other than in Brunswick stew, but damned if I can figure out what that purpose is. Maybe driving otherwise peace-loving folks to violence? As for squirrels in the middle of the road, my ecology professor called them Kamikaze squirrels. Still, I cannot abide the crunch of their tiny bones under my SUV tires. Call me an old softie.

Alice S. Moore

Sazerac December 2023

Sazerac December 2023

Unsolicited Advice

Our fav cold weather activity is staying inside under a weighted blanket. But in the spirit of celebrating the winter solstice, we’re tossing off the covers and steppin’ out.

  1. According to our partner, we’re always skating on thin ice. May as well test that skill outside on thick ice at Piedmont Winterfest located in LeBauer Park. Don’t miss Tuesday night curling. Just one question — foam or hot rollers?
  2. Heart-pumping exercise always warms us up. How about rushing through local shops while carrying heavy bags? You — and your credit card — will get a workout .
  3. Hot cocoa anyone? Hit up one of Greensboro’s many coffee spots for a mug of steaming milk chocolate with whipped cream. Into chocolate mint? Forget the peppermint crumbles and bring on a hot shot of peppermint schnapps instead.
  4. We’re often told to take a hike when offering friendly advice, and now’s the perfect time. The local trails are sure to be a little less people-y. Just you and nature. And maybe a black bear who’s prepping for winter, too. NBD — bring a trailmate you can outrun.
  5. And the activity we’re looking forward to most? Walking back into our warm home and sending a note of thanks to the heavens for Alice Parker, who patented the first central heating system. Siri, put the fireplace screensaver on TV — we need a little winter ambience.

Last Call: O.Henry Essay Contest

Several years ago, readers responded enthusiastically to a contest challenging them to write an essay entitled “My Life in a Thousand Words.” Last year, we revived our challenge with a theme of “The Year That Changed Everything.” And this year, in honor of our namesake, who was known as one of America’s most popular  — and highest-paid during his time — short story writers, we’re thrilled to announce that the 2023 O.Henry Essay Contest is all about “The Kindness of Strangers.”

We’ve all had a moment in our lives when someone we didn’t know stopped without hesitation to lend a hand. And now, we want to hear your story — whether you were on the receiving or giving end.

Of course, there are some rules:

  • Submit no more than 1,000 words in conventional printed form. Essays over 1,000 will be shredded and used in our office hamster’s cage.
  • Deadline to enter is December 24, 2023.
  • Top three winners will be contacted via email and will be printed in a spring 2024 issue.
  • Email entries to

We can’t wait to hear the clickety-clack of keyboards across the Triad as you write your stories — stories that are sure to remind us of all the goodness that exists in the world.

— Cassie Bustamante, editor

Window to the Past

Photograph © Carol W. Martin/Greensboro History Museum Collection

“What kind of tree did you say this was, Betty?”

“It’s a shrub. Just keep stringing it with tinsel and no one will know.”

(Coeds at Greensboro College decorate a Christmas tree in the 1940s.)

Just One Thing

The artist ransome, the full name he goes by, writes on his website (, “My artwork centers on my African-American lineage, which is traced back to sharecroppers of the American South who migrated to Northern cities along the East Coast.” Born in Rich Square, a tiny town east of Roanoke Rapids, he was raised by his grandmother before moving to New Jersey as part of the Great Migration of African Americans seeking broader economic and educational opportunities. With a B.F.A. from Pratt Institute and an M.F.A. from Lesley University, ransome writes, “My pictorial narratives are personal, yet the symbols I use are universal and interplay with larger social, racial, ancestral, economic and political histories that inform our nation to this day.” His work, “Come Sunday, You Can’t Hide,” 2022, is a collage on exhibit as part of Art on Paper, Weatherspoon’s biennial show that features artists “who demonstrate the breadth of ways in which one can deploy the humble medium of paper to extraordinary ends.”

Sage Gardener

One of my favorite memories of Christmases past is anticipating what gardening tool Wofford Malphrus, my late father-in-law, was going to give me. In the spirit of his generosity and thoughtfulness, the Sage Gardener polled the elite testing unit of gardeners at O.Henry and came up with a list of sugarplums for the naughtiest and nicest gardeners on your list.

Editor Cassie Bustamante was the first to answer: “It’s cheap, fits in a stocking and is a miracle worker on hardworking hands: Badger Balm,” she writes. “I grab mine at Deep Roots. And don’t worry. Not made from real badgers.” In fact, it was “created by Badger Bill to soothe his rough carpenter’s hands during a fierce New England winter,” says the website: “It’s packed with antioxidant-rich ingredients like beeswax and extra virgin olive oil and formulated with wintergreen oil.” 

O.Henry’s garden writer, Ross Howell Jr., suggests a packet of wildflower seeds from American Meadows, Shelburne, Vermont. Half an hour after typing in, the idea of a gift for someone else wilted and I couldn’t decide whether I wanted the pollinator wildflower mix, the butterfly-and-hummingbird mix, the Indian blanket seeds or love-lies-bleeding. Plus, I discovered that some people actually BUY and PLANT morning glory seeds. Since I have the greatest abundance of them, maybe I should gift them instead of American Meadows’ carefully curated seeds?

“Life’s Funny,” Maria Johnson reminds us every month, but there’s no funny business about manure from this backyard gardener. She swears by Daddy Pete’s Plant Pleaser’s line of products, deposited right here in North Carolina. Maria gets hers at Guilford Garden Center. Read all about it at, as in, “Something that seems to be spent or dead to one, brings life to another. Thus it is with Daddy Pete’s Cow Manure and the belief that we help you grow.” Can you say, Pete and repeat?

Photographer and world traveler Lynn Donovan says, “For the movers and shapers of the gardening world, Felco Pruning Shears are the bomb.” Made in Switzerland and extremely rugged, this could be the last pair of shears you buy. After all, they are guaranteed for life. Cutting to the point, my question always is, my life or the product’s life?

My daughter is itching to tell you about Tecnu. Got poison ivy or oak in your yard or garden? (Of course you do.) Tecnu is a specially formulated soap that washes off urushiol, the sticky stuff that makes you look leprous and drives you nuts. The sooner you apply Tecnu, the better it works, but you’ve got up to eight hours! “Don’t be fooled by the power of urushiol!” says the website, “The resin from poison ivy is incredibly potent and lasts for months, even years on certain items.” I can confirm that, as on car seats.

Me? According to the Farmer’s Almanac, this winter may be colder than usual. I suggest you curl up on the couch with Beautiful Madness: One Man’s Journey Through Other People’s Gardens by no less than Jim Dodson. Perhaps you’ve heard of him? Read about exotic day lilies and stolen cuttings from a Founding Father’s shrubbery. Then hang out with Jim as he himself hangs perilously from a limb on the side of a cliff akin to Mount Crumpit in search of rare Southern African plants:

Let’s give the last word to Cynthia Adams. And no, she doesn’t draw from her mother’s or father’s gardening experience on the ranchette where she grew up, Hell’s Half-Acre, though she does turn to the theme of pain. “I swear by Willow Balm, a topical painkiller in a tube.”, though she gets hers at Tractor Supply. “I carry it with me and use it so often, Jim Dodson once accused me of eating it on toast for breakfast.” Since it contains white willow bark extract, menthol, camphor, eucalyptus oil and geranium oil, we don’t recommend regular consumption, but, says Cindy, “When I’ve overdone repotting, moving heavy pots, digging, this stuff IS the balm. My doc likes it, too.” In no time, that black-and-blue thumb will be green. 
        David Claude Bailey

Sazerac November 2023

Sazerac November 2023

Unsolicited Advice

A little something on the side? Don’t mind if we do. But this year as you’re planning the Thanksgiving feast, can we all agree to keep the canned cranberry sauce where it belongs? In the can — or better yet, on the grocery store shelf — where it can stay until we’re hiding from the end of the world, in a bunker, and it’s your absolute last resort. Like, even after you’ve eaten the can of Spam that your cat won’t touch. Leave it on the shelf and try one of these unique dishes found at instead:

  1. You can’t spell “sausage stuffing” without “sage,” but you can stuff something other than your turkey. Like your slow cooker. Frankly, it’s a much safer process with a big bonus: The two cups of onion will give your breath a “savory” aroma that will have your relatives happily keeping their distance.
  2. Meatlovers, meet your veggies. Think Brussels sprouts are disgusting? Think again. Pan-fry bacon and use its fatty grease in place of olive oil for roasting sprouts, squash and fresh cranberries. Lastly, sprinkle said veggies with bacon bits and walnuts and they becomes a delicious, salty treat.
  3. In a world where cauliflower can be anything — we’re talking pizza and even a Chick-Fil-A sandwich — why not make it a Thanksgiving side? Just add white cheddar. And bacon.
  4. We saved the best for last. We’ll take a heapin’ helping of sweet potato casserole with butter-pecan crumble topping. Does that mean we can’t have just a sliver of sweet potato pie and a wee bit of pecan pie? Nope, there’s still room for dessert if you skimp on the cranberry sauce. Find more interesting ideas here:

Just One Thing

Lawrence Feir, a Greensboro sculptor and cancer survivor, once sketched trees in Wesley Long’s Healing Garden while waiting for a ride home after chemo and radiation treatment. “Those doodles eventually evolved into the Tree of Hope sculpture,” says the Canadian-born artist, who got his start “painting jean jackets in a Long Island neighborhood, emblazoned with ’60s rock ’n’ roll stars like the Grateful Dead and Bob Dylan.” Disillusioned with life in crowded New York, “I moved to North Carolina, went to art school and discovered photography.” Feir, pronounced fayr, says a lucky break at the Greensboro airport landed him a job jetting the world shooting photos for aerospace pub Airways International until September 11, 2001. “Flying and photography would never be the same for me,” he says. After Dr. Bill Bowman, a general surgeon for 30 years and a Cone Health VP, died unexpectedly in 2021, family and friends donated money for a memorial, and Feir, who had reinvented himself as a contemporary artist working in welded steel, kinetic, abstract and figurative sculpture, was tapped to create it. A silver silhouette of a tree came to mind, Feir says, that would reflect the garden’s lush green vegetation with an almost moss-like border in the morning, turn silver as the day progressed and then take on a warm, crepuscular glow as dusk descended. Fabricated from stainless steel with a welding tool “that uses jets of hot plasma to cut through metal like butter,” the 12-foot-high tree sprouted and grew in Feir’s Greensboro studio over several weeks. Feir hopes its wind-swept branches inspire feelings of comfort and serenity in others dealing with cancer while serving as a shimmering tribute to Dr. Bowman and others who “supported me through a very difficult time,” he says. “They saved my life.”

Window to the Past

Photograph © Carol W. Martin/Greensboro History Museum Collection

Don’t miss this year’s Greensboro Honors: Veterans Day Parade, beginning on the corner of Elm and Lindsay, and kicking off at noon on November 11.

Sage Gardener

For decades, Betty, my sister, and I have scouted out persimmon trees just before Thanksgiving. After carefully removing the fruit’s orangey, pulpy mass from the ground and separating out the leaves, twigs and dirt, we cook up some persimmon pudding for the big holiday feast. I’ve always used my late mother’s recipe, distinguished by sweet potatoes, corn meal, pecans and nutmeg with no other spices. I wondered aloud to Betty whether she uses the same recipe.

“Doesn’t matter,” she said.


“I don’t care one way or another about persimmon pudding,” she said. “It’s momma’s hard sauce that I like.” Brandy, sugar and butter. What’s not to like, but Zella Bailey’s son sure does love persimmons and persimmon pudding.

A corruption of the Algonquin word “putchamin,” persimmons charmed Spanish Conquistador Hernando de Soto, who liked them better than red plums. English Colonial Governor Captain John Smith declared them “one of the most palatable fruits of this land” — when ripe — observing how they can “draw a man’s mouth awrie with much torment” when eaten too soon.

The Oxford Companion to Food observes from an ocean away that it is “a fruit which used to be valued . . . but is now little eaten,” eclipsed, they say, by the big, fat Asian-engineered persimmons ubiquitous in grocery stores nowadays. Right.

In Seasoned in the South: Recipes from Crook’s Corner and from Home, celebrated Chapel Hill chef Bill Smith says his favorite recipe passed down to him by Bill Neal, Crook’s founder, is persimmon pudding (no sweet taters and no cornmeal, but good nonetheless). Pick your own persimmons, he insists, and sprinkle in some nutmeg, ginger and cinnamon.

In the plant sex department, persimmon trees are diocesius (from the Greek two [di-] and house [oikos]), meaning it takes two trees, a male and a female, to tango and make persimmons. I have proof of this in my yard, where a lonely female tree flourishes, but longs for a stately male companion. The wood from persimmon trees, by the way, is hard and closely grained and used for golf-club heads, billiard cues and once upon a time for preparatory school paddles.

In sweetness, the fruit is only exceeded by the date in sugar content. They are “as eagerly sought out by possums and other wild creatures as human beings,” says The Oxford Companion, showing they do know a little something or another.

Finally, as the onset of winter blisters the landscape with dying leaves and sets our roads on fire with a kaleidoscope of colors, let’s hear it for the persimmon tree, which goes out in a blaze of yellow-to-orange-to-purplish-bronze glory. “Nothing evokes the warm, lazy feeling of a fall afternoon in the Southern countryside,” writes an anonymous horticulturist on the J.C. Raulston Arboretum’s website, “like the sight of two or three persimmon trees lounging against a split-rail fence, their devilishly delicious fruit hanging just out of reach.”   David Claude Bailey

Sazerac October 2023

Sazerac October 2023

Unsolicited Advice

Halloween — the one time of year that it’s acceptable to dress up like Blond Ambition World Tour-era Madonna. Every other time we don the look, we get nothing but side-eye from our office mates. We’re dropping some easy-to-pull-off holiday looks, inspired by one of our fav subjects: the English language.

Looking for a couples costume? One of you can sport an English tweed suit, white beard and round glasses — and don’t forget the trademark cigar — while the other wears a simple slip. Together, you’re a Freudian slip.

Stop in the name of literacy! All you need is a whistle, a police cap and a “Grammar Police” tee to play the part. We’re happy to let you borrow ours.

Colon or semi-colon — do we really need to go there?

Another twofer? One person dresses as a dog-walker with a leash around the neck of the other, dressed as Santa. Subordinate Claus, anyone?

Put on your most starched button-down and toss on a driving cap plus suspenders for added effect. Lastly, use black construction paper to cut out a comma and adhere it to your belly.  You’ll be the most welcomed — and dapper — Oxford comma we’ve ever seen.

Lasting Legacy

Saliba Isa Hanhan
APRIL 18, 1940 – AUGUST 2, 2023

I know that you’re smiling down at me as I struggle with this, Saliba Hanhan.

“You’re a writer, aren’t you?” you’re saying. “This should be easy for you.” You have a mischievous twinkle in your eyes and that smile incorporating every muscle in your face.

Yes, Saliba, you were a chemist, a professor, a gourmet, a shopkeeper extraordinaire, a gardener, a cook and a masterful formulator of recipes. But you were also an astute philosopher, a lifelong student, and a collector of fascinating friends and interesting knowledge, which you generously shared with others. But your children — your daughter, Emily, and two sons, Easa and Omar, each of whom continues to share the glow and energy that kept us coming to your store, even when it was 30 miles away — were your real legacy, of which you were so justly proud.

“I just got a cheese in that your friend Jim’s gonna love,” I can hear you saying, “but it may not be stinky enough for you.” And when we’d get home and start unpacking, I’d often find a heel of a Parmigiano-Reggiano or the bone of a Serrano ham that you slipped in. “You know what to do with it,” I can hear you saying.

I don’t know what makes someone “great.” Fame? Fortune? Power? None of which you cared about. Your greatness went beyond conventional definitions of worldly accomplishments. What made you great was how you followed your heart, found what made you happy and then managed to share that happiness day in and day out with others. It’s a greatness that goes beyond the grave, which is why, once again, I can hear you saying, “David. That’s a bit too much. Calm down.”   
  — David Claude Bailey

Calling All O.Henry Essayists

Don’t forget to enter our annual 1,000-word essay contest, themed “The Kindness of Strangers.” Details can be found here:

Window to the Past

Photograph © Carol W. Martin/Greensboro History Museum Collection

Kids in the 1940s: ″Trick-or-treat, give us Fig Newtons to eat!″

Kids today: “′Made with real fruit?′ What else ya got?”

Sage Gardener

Garlic has been around for at least 5,000 years, but its reputation has hardly improved.

Esteemed by the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans for its medicinal properties, fed to workers, soldiers and oarsmen to increase their stamina, and touted for increasing sexual potency, garlic has long been “disdained by the aristocracy” and denigrated by love poets such as Horace, according to the Oxford Companion to Food. Never mind that Pliny the Elder listed 61 remedies prepared from garlic or that it’s still used in China today as an antibacterial, antifungal and antithrombotic agent. Admittedly, garlic’s after-odor is a tad odiferous — fetid, putrid, foul and rank, according to some of my former office mates. So one of the prime reasons I’ve been looking forward to retirement is eating as much garlic as I want, whenever I want. Garlic confit. Basque garlic soup. Aioli by the spoonful, ladled on a baguette. Garlicky harissa. Kimchi. Forty-clove garlic chicken à la Julia Child, who once wrote in The Boston Globe, “40 cloves may not be enough.” And with the arrival of fall, it’s high time to get it in the ground. According to the Central N.C. Planting Calendar, the ideal planting time for garlic is from September 15 to November 30.

Don’t sweat the frost. As our warm fall temperatures shift to colder, freezing days and nights, the bulbs sprout and take hold, waiting for warm spring days to reach their green tentacles out of the hay covering them. (It’s called vernalization.) Garlic thrives on nitrogen, so top dress your plants in February with composted manure. And if you’re planting hardneck garlic (look it up), by all means harvest the scapes and pop them, sautéed, into an omelet with blue cheese. (Removing the scapes increases bulb size by as much as 30 percent.) The bulbs will fill out by summer, just in time for pico de gallo and pesto. Tie the harvested plants in bundles and hang them high from the eaves of a shed or garage for four to six weeks so they cure. By then, it’s almost time to put some of them back into the ground. (No need to worry about cross-pollination because each plant is a clone of its parent.) Plant your largest cloves to get bigger bulbs next year. And, when vampires take wing on the night on October 31, think about baking a big batch of roasted-garlic, chocolate chip cookies ( Sink your fangs into that.         David Claude Bailey

Just One Thing

Whether or not you’re a fan of blood sports, history cannot be erased: Less than 120 years ago, some of the richest and most influential captains of American industry traveled hundred of miles to Jamestown to realize their most cherished dream — killing a dozen or more birds in one afternoon. In this photo taken in front of Deep River Hunting Lodge (most likely by renowned sports photographer J.C. Hemment), millionaire industrialist and lodge owner Clarence Hungerford Mackay, sporting the fedora, holds the leads of a pliant pack of bird dogs. The setters and pointers were trained by Englishman Edward Armstrong, whose family shared the photo and other artifacts on display at the High Point Museum in Field & Feathers: Hunting at Deep River Lodge, 1895–1935. The gentleman standing next to Mackay with the handsome, dark mustachio is William Kissam Vanderbilt II, says Marian Inabinett, curator of the museum’s collection. The tall and dapper huntsman facing Mackay seems to be Reginald Ronalds, whose great-grandfather was Pierre Lorillard II. Deep River Lodge, designed by noted Gilded Age architect Stanford White, was the grandest of a number of hunting lodges across central North Carolina. “It’s a forgotten story, but for decades America’s wealthiest men enjoyed hunting bobwhite quail that thrived among the woods and open farmland in the center of the state,” says Inabinett. “Also on display are a suitcase and steamer trunk with great travel stickers on them, a bottle of Champagne from the lodge’s wine cellar, lots and lots of ocean liner memorabilia, and even some steamship tickets for hunting dogs,” she says. The exhibit will be open through January 31, 2024. Other photos and images can be seen via the museum’s app and on its Facebook page. Info: and