Charles L. Coon (1868-1927), the former superintendent of Wilson County Schools was known as a strict disciplinarian and incorrigible pedant. He also thought teachers needed a good slap now and again. (To be fair he also worked really hard for quality education for African Americans before he completely lost their trust by slapping one of their teachers for contradicting him). But who knew he was so funny. Here is some of his greatest hits in pedantry and usage of the exclamation point in his tear-down of the test questions written by Wilson County teachers in the early 1920’s. He also seems to be an early proponent of the Common Core.
Some of my favorites are
- “Deamons!”(The dictionary says it is demons!)
- “Give four habits of good health you have learned to do this year.” (The verb to do is surplusage.) Superintendent Coon made up a new word called surplusage! Ok it is a real word, but it hasn’t been used since Chaucer’s daddy.
- “What is a food?” Either not a very hard question or existential.
Donated prints of the 1952 Wilson Shoe Shine Contest by Life Magazine photographer John G. Zimmerman, now on exhibit in the 1st floor display cabinet.
From 1948-1958 the Wilson County, NC high schools of Elm City, Gardners, Lucama, Rock Ridge, Saratoga, and Stantonsburg fielded 6-man football teams (as opposed to the normal 11) and played other 6-man teams from small high schools throughout the state. John Ormsby has put together a book documenting this forgotten football league of Wilson County and we now have copies for $20.00. ($5.00 of each sale goes to the Local History room)
If you have photos of Wilson County’s past bring them to the Local History Room to be digitized for future generations.
Recently I had a meeting with the Whirligig Park Project Repair & Conservation Headquarters. This is where they are refurbishing Vollis Simpson’s whiligigs for their inclusion in the future Whirligig Park.
Jenny Moore, the project manager, and other full-time employees spoke and gave us an insightful history of Vollis Simpson and his whirligigs. One thing that I found interesting was that the first whirligig Vollis made was a wind powered washing machine that he created while stationed as a fighter plane mechanic on the island of Saipan during World War II. But the present incarnation of the whirligigs first began in 1988 at his home in Lucama not long after he retired from his house-moving business. When I was an undergrad at UNC Wilmington in 1996 I remember students talking about visiting what they called Acid Park, a name that many people in Eastern North Carolina used when referring to the installations in Vollis’ yard. It was a popular attraction for the past 25 years, some fans even got married there.
The lead technician showed us the painstaking process involved in repairing and sometimes recreating Vollis’ gigantic (some of the largest, 55′, were anchored 8 feet into the ground with concrete at his Lucama home), articulated art pieces, while also keeping them consistent with his vision.
There are twenty large pieces and fifty smaller pieces that are being refurbished for possible installation. The first phase of the park went into effect in November 2013
From the website:
Designed by award-winning landscape architecture firm Lappas+Havener, PA, the two-acre park will feature 30 of Vollis Simpson’s whirligigs—including some of the largest in his life’s work.
Visitors will never be at a loss for something to do at the Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park. A central lawn amphitheater faces a performance stage, where everything from music to poetry slams will engage audiences. The park shelter will host a Farmer’s Market, craft markets, educational programs, and family fun activities. The interactive water feature in the entrance plaza will keep the kids cool on sunny days. Benches will invite picnicking, reading, or just enjoying art and nature. Use a phone app or the printed brochure to tour the whirligigs, sustainable storm water structure, and native plant gardens. Practice Tai Chi, have a wedding or family reunion, play flashlight tag among the reflective whirligigs—the possibilities are endless!