A.C. Snow

Of 60-watt bulbs and a dog named Opie – Snow

While our daughter and family were visiting from Florida just before Christmas, we spent three days in Pinehurst.

The little town that golf built is a kind of never, never land. As someone once said, “Pinehurst is the place where rich people go when they die.”

That’s not totally true, although I doubt that many of the residents are standing in line for food stamps.

We stayed at one of the town’s historic inns, a renovated “step back in time” place beautifully decorated for Christmas.

I found only one flaw, a shortcoming common to too many hotels: dimly lit rooms.

The room occupied by my wife and me was well-appointed except for the 60-watt bulb in the lamp between the beds.

I confronted the desk clerk.

“I just don’t believe that everybody who visits this hotel comes here just for sex,” I said. “A lot of people, when relaxing in their rooms, like to read! Even a 75-watt bulb would be a great improvement.”

She said she was sorry, but no more wattage was available.

A word to those of you planning to travel. Call ahead to check your hotel’s light bulb wattage! Or just pack a 100-watt bulb in your luggage.

While at Pinehurst, we drove over to Southern Pines to visit our friend David Woronoff, publisher and part owner of the The Pilot newspaper.

At The Pilot, subscribers or townspeople in general can walk up a couple of steps from the street and be in David’s office. Ultimate accessibility is the newspaper’s policy.

Across the newsroom wall is splashed journalism’s credo that originated in 1861 at the Chicago Times: “It’s a newspaper’s duty to print the news and raise Hell.”

My Pinehurst visit stirred some fond memories of past newspaper editors’ meetings held at the historic Carolina Hotel.

Also, while unloading on the publisher, non-threatening subscribers have the privilege of patting the head of Opie, David’s friendly mixed breed rescue dog.

“When people come in and they are mad about something in the paper, it’s hard to raise hell with me with this old dog right here beside me,” David said with a chuckle.

The Pinehurst visit stirred some fond memories of past newspaper editors’ meetings held at the historic Carolina Hotel.

At one summer’s session, during an elaborate outdoor picnic lunch, the assemblage was stunned when usually reserved News & Observer editor Claude Sitton suddenly dropped to his knees and sang several verses of “The Great Speckled Bird,” a popular mountain hymn at the time. Claude’s impromptu performance was roundly applauded.

During another occasion at the hotel, I was sitting on a couch outside the ladies’ restroom, waiting for my wife. A woman leaving the facility, spotted my name tag.

“Snow,” she mused thoughtfully. “I was just talking to lady in there by the name of Snow. Is she your daughter?”

“No,” I snapped. “She’s my mother!”

While in Southern Pines, we also visited The Country Bookshop, owned by Woronoff and his partners. They bought the store when it seemed that the only locally owned bookstore might become extinct.

Before taking on a struggle against such Goliaths as Barnes & Noble and Amazon, David consulted with the late Nancy Olson, beloved longtime owner of Raleigh’s Quail Ridge Books.

Nancy insisted that an independent bookstore needs a local owner and manager who love books, hard work and the community. She agreed to train David’s cousin, Kimberly Daniels Taws.

Emulating Nancy’s examples, the Country Bookshop invites readers to many events and hosted 80 authors during the past year.

When we visited the store, Kimberly had her 3-month-old son, Josephus, sleeping behind the cash register. She said the baby boosts morale of employees and provides a homey atmosphere for the store’s customers.

Before leaving Pinehurst for the return to Raleigh, I asked the members of our group to suggest a word that best describes the village. Answers included “quaint,” “peaceful” and picturesque.”

And well worth the trip, we all concluded. Go visit.