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Carnival Worker Preserved, Abandoned in Laurinburg

April-28

Concippio’s grave marker

On April 28, 1911, Forenzio Concippio, also known as Concetto Farmica, died in Laurinburg.

Concippio, a musician, was murdered by a fellow carnival worker after an argument when he was hit in the head with a tent stake. The carnival and the attack took place in McColl, just over the border in South Carolina, but the injured man was taken to the hospital in nearby Laurinburg.

Doctors operated on Concippio in attempt to save him, but he died about 12 hours later. The body was removed to McDougald Funeral Home in the small Scotland County town.

The story becomes somewhat murky after that. Some say that a decision was made not to try the case due to the expense and the fact that both men were foreigners. Others say that the assailant was actually acquitted.

Regardless, Concippio’s body was left at the funeral home where it had been embalmed.

A couple of weeks after his death, a man reputed to be his father came to the funeral home and paid an installment to have his son buried and promised to send the rest.

He was not heard from again, so Concippio’s body remained in the funeral home for 61 years until it was finally buried in 1972 in Hillside Cemetery in Laurinburg.

For more about North Carolina’s history, arts, nature and culture, visit DNCR online. To receive these updates automatically each day, make sure you subscribe by email using the box on the right, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Meadowlark Lemon, Basketball’s Court Jester

Meadowlark Lemon delights entranced youngsters at Nickerson Recreation Center. in Los Angeles, circa 1972. Image from the Los Angeles Public Library.

Meadowlark Lemon delights entranced youngsters at Nickerson Recreation Center. in Los Angeles, circa 1972. Image from the Los Angeles Public Library.

On April 25, 1932, Meadow Lemon III was born in Lexington County, South Carolina. He moved to Wilmington at age 6.

A fan of basketball from an early age, Lemon used to tell the story that his first basketball ensemble was a hoop made from an onion sack and a coat hanger with a Carnation milk can as a ball. After seeing the famed Harlem Globetrotters in a movie theater newsreel, he ran home to tell his father that he planned to join the team. In 1954, he did just that.

Lemon changed his name to Meadowlark in the late 1950s, but he was also widely known as the “Clown Prince of Basketball.” Though a slick player with phenomenal ball-handling skills and a long-distance hook shot that rarely missed the hoop, it was his cheeky comedy on the court that propelled him into the spotlight.

The best-known Globetrotter, Lemon became a television star, portraying himself in television shows like Gilligan’s Island and in cartoons including Scooby Doo.

Lemon retired from the Globetrotters in 1979, became an ordained minister in 1986 and established Meadowlark Lemon Ministries in 1994.

Inducted into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame in 1975 and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 200, Lemon died in 2015.

Visit: Meadowlark Lemon’s Globetrotters uniform is among the hundreds of sports-related artifacts on view at the N.C. Museum of History’s North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame exhibit.

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For more about North Carolina’s history, arts, nature and culture, visit DNCR online. To receive these updates automatically each day, make sure you subscribe by email using the box on the right, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Surfers Catch a Wave in Wrightsville Beach, 1909

A postcard featuring surfing in Wrightsville Beach. Image from the State Archives.

A postcard featuring surfing in Wrightsville Beach. Image from the State Archives.

On April 7, 1910, the Honolulu Pacific Commercial Advertiser published a letter that Wrightsville Beach resident Burke Haywood Bridgers had written to the national magazine Colliers Weekly requesting information about building surfboards.

Bridgers wrote to Colliers in response to Alexander Hume Ford, founder of the Outrigger Canoe and Surfboard Club in Hawaii, who penned an article for the magazine the previous year encouraging readers to try the sport.

The letter as it appeared in the Pacific Commercia Advertiser.

The letter as it appeared in the Pacific Commercial Advertiser.

Bridgers wrote that people in Wrightsville Beach tried out surfing during the summer of 1909 without great results. The Lumina Pavilion, then one of the area’s premiere attractions, hosted a “surf board riding contest” over Labor Day, in fact.

Bridgers went on to describe the kinds of boards that the locals were using and the nature of the Atlantic Coast surf. The surfboards he described were built with local juniper wood, a traditional favorite of boat and ship builders, as it is resistant to wood-boring worms.

It is impossible to claim a “first” in East Coast surfing, but Bridgers’ experiments certainly would have been among the earliest appearances of surfboards in the Atlantic Ocean. The surfing that occurred in the Wrightsville Beach area in the early 1900s is the earliest documented in the state of North Carolina.

Recently Wrightsville Beach was named as one of the top 20 surfing towns in the world by National Geographic.

For more about North Carolina’s history, arts, nature and culture, visit DNCR online. To receive these updates automatically each day, make sure you subscribe by email using the box on the right, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

First National Championship for Dean Smith, 1982

Smith celebrates the Tar Heel's 1982 National Championship win by cutting down a net. Image from Pete Leabo/Associated Press.

Smith celebrates the Tar Heel’s 1982 National Championship win by cutting down a net. Image from Pete Leabo/Associated Press.

On March 29, 1982, Dean Smith won his first NCAA national championship with the Tar Heels men’s basketball team. The Tar Heels won 63-62 over the Georgetown Hoyas at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans.

Stars of the 1981-1982 season included junior forward James Worthy from Gastonia, sophomore center/forward Sam Perkins from New York and freshman guard/forward Michael Jordan from Wilmington. The championship win capped off an impressive season for the Tar Heels, who had a 12-2 record in the ACC and 32-2 record overall that year.

The championship game was tightly contested, and the lead changed 15 times over the course of the evening. The Hoyas were actually up 62-61 with just more than a minute of game time remaining, but after Georgetown called a timeout, Michael Jordan scored a jumpshot with 17 seconds remaining to put Carolina back on top.

Though it was his first national championship, Smith had led the Tar Heels to a number of NCAA regional championships, ACC regular season championships and ACC tournament championships throughout the 1960s and 70s.

He would go to win a second national championship with the Tar Heels before retiring from coaching in 1997. A Basketball Hall of Famer, Smith died in 2015.

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For more about North Carolina’s history, arts, nature and culture, visit DNCR online. To receive these updates automatically each day, make sure you subscribe by email using the box on the right, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Glory Days at Winston-Salem State University, 1967

Earl “The Pearl” Monroe and others bring home the CIAA trophy in 1967.
Image from Winston-Salem State University via DigitalNC.

On March 17, 1967, the Winston-Salem State University Rams bested the Southwest Missouri State University Bears 77-74 at the NCAA Division II national men’s basketball championship game in Evansville, Indiana.

In so doing, WSSU became the first historically black college in the nation to win a national championship.

The championship was the highlight of a 30-1 season for the Rams, and represented a comeback from the Rams’ third-place finish in the CIAA tournament behind North Carolina A&T and Howard.

The 1967 NCAA Championship winning Winston-Salem State University Rams. Image from the Winston-Salem Journal.

The 1967 NCAA Championship winning Winston-Salem State University Rams. Image from the Winston-Salem Journal.

WSSU player Vernon Earl “The Pearl” Monroe, who would later go on to a stellar pro career with the Baltimore Bullets and New York Knicks, largely led the team to victory and earned honors as NCAA Division Player of the Year and NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player honors as result.

Hall of Fame winning coach Clarence “Big House” Gaines, who coached the men’s basketball at WSSU for nearly 50 years, also earned top honors as NCAA Division II College Coach of the Year.

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For more about North Carolina’s history, arts, nature and culture, visit DNCR online. To receive these updates automatically each day, make sure you subscribe by email using the box on the right, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Sailors Beware on Old Quork’s Day

Dare County fisherman, circa 1935-40. Image from the State Archives.

On March 16, most likely in the 1780s, an odd and offbeat mariner from Ocracoke Island known as Quawk or Quork went to sea in his small fishing skiff despite warnings of impending foul weather. He never returned.

The sailor was said to be a loner, and was, by some accounts, the sole survivor of a shipwreck on the island. He was called Quork because of his voice, which was said to be like that of the “quawk,” the colloquial name for the black-crowned night heron.

The day became known as Old Quork’s Day, a day of bad luck or misfortune for seamen who might fall victim to quick-forming storms that could catch a mariner unwary. On Ocracoke Island and as far south as Carteret County, cautious fisherman and old salts still stay ashore on March 16, for only the foolhardy go out on Old Quork’s Day.

North Carolina storytellers and raconteurs have kept Quork’s tale alive for more than 200 years. In Morehead City during the 1970s, “Old Quork’s Day” was held as a promotional activity on a Saturday in mid-March to open the vacation season.

Check out North Carolina Legends from N.C. Historical Publications for more.

For more about North Carolina’s history, arts, nature and culture, visit DNCR online. To receive these updates automatically each day, make sure you subscribe by email using the box on the right, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Blossom of Dogwood Tree Official State Flower

dogwoods-capitol-1968

A dogwood tree in bloom with the State Capitol dome in the background, circa 1968. Image from the N.C. Museum of History.

On March 15, 1941, the General Assembly designated the dogwood as the state flower. In choosing the dogwood the General Assembly called the bloom “a radiantly beautiful flower which grows abundantly in all parts of this State.”

Four species of dogwood are native to North Carolina. Cornus florida, the flowering dogwood, grows on a tree, and can be found during spring in most parts of the state, and is the flower with which most people are familiar.

Cornus racemose, the grey dogwood, grows on a bush can and be found in the northern Piedmont, and Cornus asperifolia, the roughleaf dogwood, is found along the southeast coast.

The alternate-leaf dogwood, Cornus alternifolia, was once found in the Piedmont, but now can only be seen in the mountains.

The dogwood is both the official state tree and flower of Virginia, and the state tree of Missouri.

Other related resources:

For more about North Carolina’s history, arts, nature and culture, visit DNCR online. To receive these updates automatically each day, make sure you subscribe by email using the box on the right, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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