Sgt. Joseph Alton Barnes, Engineer Gunner in WWII


Sgt. Barnes is 4th from the left with a B-17 behind them.

Joseph Alton Barnes was recently featured in the Wilson Times for receiving his high school diploma at the spry age of 92 through a program called Operation Recognition.  Not long after the article appeared, Alton’s daughter, a staff member at WCPL, brought me his WWII photos to be digitized.  They will soon be on his page at Wilson County’s Greatest Generation: The Memories of the World War II Veterans of Wilson County, N.C. at DigitalNC.  But here are a few to hold you over.


Mission Record


Sgt. Barnes on a downed German plane (maybe a Junkers Ju-88 night fighter) in France.


One of the B-17s Sgt. Barnes flew in combat.


Another B-17 that Sgt. Barnes might have used.



Part of the British, Chain Home coastal radar system?


I’m not going to tell you what this is.


Alton in training in Louisiana?

Perry Como and Guy Cox in Wilson, 1948

Cox_Como_1948Found this way cool photo of Perry Como and local photographer extraordinaire, Guy Cox, from 1948.  They were both at Fleming Stadium during the annual tobacco festival.  I assume that Mr. Como was just about to croon the heck out of the place, (or had just finished and everyone was in a daze).

Local History Reference Collections for Public Libraries (featuring the Wilson County Public Library)

Local history reference collections

Local history library book

                                          My flier is included in the chapter on Virtual Solutions.

Hot off the American Library Association Editions press is the newest in the ALA Guides for the Busy Librarian series titled, Local History Reference Collections for Public Libraries by Kathy Marquis and Leslie Waggener.  Not only is it a great resource for a local history reference librarian, it also features the Wilson County Local History and Genealogy Room!  Thanks to this blog the authors from Wyoming were able to see a flyer that I made for the WCLH&G Room and wanted it in their book because they thought it was a “… great example for our chapter on “virtual solutions” for outreach and access, particularly your clever re-use of Office of War Information propaganda posters.”  I am very happy that they chose my flier to be in their great resource.

Whirligig Park

IMG_20140422_160325 IMG_20140422_160305 IMG_20140422_160436 IMG_20140422_160450 IMG_20140422_160527Recently 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!

World War II Fighter Plane Mechanic Cpl. Sidney P. Forbes

Cpl. Sidney Forbes hand drawn hydraulics schematics for a P-51 Mustang.

Cpl. Sidney Forbes hand drawn hydraulics schematics for a P-51 Mustang.

More P-51 schematics

More P-51 schematics

Sidney with his gift for der Fuhrer.

Sidney with his gift for der Fuhrer.

P-51 named Whacow

P-51 named Whacow

We recently received a box of  Wilson native Corporal Sidney Forbes’ WWII materials.  Sidney was a fighter plane mechanic in England during the war.  From the pictures it looks like he mostly serviced P51s and something that looks like a F6F Hellcat (although that was usually a carrier based plane in the Pacific theater).  After the war he opened his own service station called Forbes on Nash Street downtown.  All of his materials will be added to the Wilson County’s Greatest Generation Digital Project.