I knew Silent Sam only in passing.
But as a student at Carolina, I must have passed him a gillion times on my way from my dorm to the Carolina Cafeteria and the underground Rathskeller on Franklin Street.
Such trips were special events, as my $75-a-month stipend from Uncle Sam in payment for the 30 months he stole from my youth didn’t allow for many luxuries.
The Silent Sam statue was like a ghost, standing there in the shadows beside the brick walk, a mute reminder of an ugly chapter in Southern history.
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Lo and behold, Sam is now an object of controversy with a campus group asking that a plaque of historic context be added to the statue.
When I was in school, I never knew that Sam was a Confederate soldier. I doubt one student in 100 did. Also, the statue isn’t called “Silent Sam” because he has no ammo to for his musket. As most Carolina men of my vintage know, he was called Silent Sam because of the longtime legend that he fires his musket only when a virgin walks by.
Sam’s presence on campus reminds us of our obligation to remove the remaining vestiges of the discrimination and persecution of our black citizenry, not only in the South but nationwide.
Sex life of birds
We’re about to have grandbirds! Four sky-blue eggs gleam in the gloomy interior of the front lawn bluebird box. What better evidence that, yes, there is a spring?
Someone asked me if birds have to have sex before the laying of each egg.
I already knew, of course, that a hen does not need a rooster to lay eggs. But some Internet research also revealed a surprising fact about hummingbird mating habits. Turns out the male hummingbird is one of the few birds whose only contribution to family life is the sex act. And then he’s outta there! No help with nest building, no feeding the young or teaching them how to fly, etc.
Sadly, our culture has too many male human counterparts with the same lack of familial faithfulness and responsibility.
New Jersey again?
“There must be something in the water,” a TV talking head said recently, referring to New Jersey’s most recent scandal, the indictment of Sen. Bob Menendez, a Democrat, on corruption charges.
It’s true that over the years New Jersey seems to have made more than its share of negative headlines. But I learned years ago to resist bad mouthing New Jersey.
In a feeble effort to be funny during a speech to a Cary newcomers’ club, I said that most Southerners have accepted and adjusted well to the second invasion of Yankees, but that many of the locals would never understand why Union troops burned Atlanta but kept New Jersey.
At the end of the talk, I had to do some apologizing to a half-dozen New Jerseyites who wanted to have a few words with me.
Didn’t I promise that if you could survive February and March, April’s beauty would overwhelm you?
It must have been in April when Edna St. Vincent Millay wrote, “O world, I cannot hold thee close enough. ... Lord, I do fear Thou’st made the world too beautiful this year.”
Kudos again to the state’s Department of Transportation for its highway beautification program.
On a recent drive to the beach, I was dazzled by the splashes of white against the greening fields. Groves of flowering pear trees planted by the state reassured motorists that spring was at hand.
The pears have now left the stage to the less dramatic debut of our state flower, the dogwood. Next come the flowering of dozens of wildflower beds along the roadsides.
Let us show our gratitude by not tossing fast-food cups, cigarette butts and other debris out the car windows. Truck drivers, keep your cargoes covered.
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