Eastern Wake: Community

This Week in History: Dec. 24

Nolan Hines rocks out as “Elfish” during Carver Elementary School’s holiday play, “Elfish Christmas,” in 2004. He got a king-sized reaction from the audience for his performance.
Nolan Hines rocks out as “Elfish” during Carver Elementary School’s holiday play, “Elfish Christmas,” in 2004. He got a king-sized reaction from the audience for his performance. NEWS & OBSERVER FILE PHOTO

This week in history we look back 10, 25 and 50 years to see what was going on in the eastern Wake County area.

In 2004, the Helping Hand Mission had a good problem on its hands. In 1989, east Wake officials were looking at ways to safeguard the past as they moved into the future. And in 1964, we were looking back even farther in history, at the dual role of dolls in our culture.


While getting any negative visit from the Wake County Fire Marshal isn’t typically a good thing, in December of 2004, it was a good problem to have for the Helping Hand Mission in Wendell.

With a slap on the wrist, the Helping Hand Mission was told it must make room for safety after county fire officials found piles of donated items blocking exits at the small Third Street building.

Since Thanksgiving, bundles and bundles of donations have poured into the Helping Hand Mission outreach thrift store. From the cotton blend sweaters to thick overcoats, the building is close to exploding with benevolence.

But as residents of eastern Wake clean out their closets and storage spaces, making room for new clothes for Christmas–or just making sure they get their last-minute tax writeoffs in by Dec. 31 – the store is having trouble finding room for the contributions.

Last week, the Wake County Fire Marshall’s Office said the store was violating fire safety code with ceiling-tall clothing stacks stretching from the store’s front entrance to its rear, blocking aisle space needed for a quick exit in case of an emergency.


Growing towns quickly become an interesting amalgamation of old and new, as fresh buildings are erected beside old artifacts. In 1989, east Wake officials were looking into how to preserve the old while making way for the new.

A unified historic commission would protect Wake County landmarks and especially benefit less-developed eastern areas which still have much to preserve, according to Wake Commissioner Merrie Hedrick.

Earlier this month, Wake County commissioners unanimously approved a resolution to establish a joint historic commission formed among the county, Raleigh and other interested municipalities. The proposal calls for the combination of the Historic Properties Commission of Raleigh with similar organizations creating a countywide approach to preservation. The commission would be responsible for designating landmarks and promoting preservation.

Mrs. Hedrick said the process was initiated about three years ago when she asked the county to consider a historical survey of Wake properties. The county’s planning department is in the midst of a two-year survey of historical properties which would provide the commission with a guide for determining which properties merit consideration during planning.

“The next step will be to get publication for the study,” Mrs. Hedrick said. Copies of the study will be sold to cover printing costs. “The third step, once we have the document in place, would be for the commission to offer protection in helping save these properties.”


We humans are a complicated people. Just about every tradition we have has some deeper meaning most people aren’t aware of. In 1964, we were examining dolls and their historical purpose.

On Christmas morning, little girls throughout the land will lovingly cuddle new dolls and declare to one and all how wonderful a gift they have received. At the same time, beautiful creche dolls will be displayed in the churches and homes as part of the Christmas setting.

This dual role – as toy and as religious symbol – is a function that dolls have filled for centuries, according to Encyclopedia Americana. And it is generally believed that the first use of dolls was religious, rather than for entertainment.

Historians report that the doll originally was used as a representation of human figures in religious sanctuaries. The word “doll” itself, in fact, is derived from the Greek word “eidolon,” meaning “idol.”

Archaeologists have unearthed dolls in the ruins of tombs thousands of years old. And their presence in the tombs is assumed by some historians to mean the objects were included as idols.

Among some ancient societies, dolls were thought to possess mystical powers. Many primitive tribes included such figures in burials as a spirit to keep the deceased company in another world. Today, in addition to the creche dolls of Christendom, dolls hold a religious importance in the Orient, where annual doll festivals are held to celebrate the birthday of Buddha.

As toys, dolls have existed for centuries. The earliest toy dolls known were discovered in the Near East and Greece. These primitive dolls were made of clay, stone and bone.

Although dolls today may be extremely complex and filled with electrical gadgets, dolls of the 17th and 18th centuries were frequetntly even more elaborate.

They became so elaborate, in fact, that they were sent to court, and in times of war, special dispensations were made to assure their safe transport to a peaceful refuge, like works of art.