Southern Pines – Revisited

I’ve talked about Southern Pines before…but it’s become one of our favorite day trips.  Jim and I drove down recently to explore and then just a short while later Candice and I made a day of it…

Nestled in the Sandhills between Pinehurst and Aberdeen, is the quiet town of Southern Pines. Founded in 1887 by steel magnate John T. Patrick, Southern Pines was originally intended as a health resort. Breathing in fresh pine air was considered quite healthful and many people in the area actually built sleeping porches which they used year round.

A wooden bench inside the historic train depot on Broad Street

Today Southern Pines is home to the Historic Weymouth House, built by railroad magnate James Boyd; the 1200 acre estate originally had stables, a tennis court, gardens and a 9-hole golf course. In the 1930’s his grandsons, James and Jackson, divided the house, pulling half of the structure by mule across the street and establishing what is now the Campbell House and home to the Arts Council of Moore County. James and his wife enlarged the original house and entertained the likes of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Thomas Wolfe and William Faulkner throughout the 1920’s and 30’s. Today the Weymouth House is open to the public and serves as Weymouth Center for the Arts & Humanities. The family donated 1,000 acres of the original estate to become the Weymouth Woods-Sandhills Nature Preserve. Somewhere inside the preserve is a 465 year old long-leaf pine tree, the oldest of its kind.

Candles in the shops on Broad Street

Also in Southern Pines are the historic Shaw House built in 1820, and the Sanders Cabin built in the 1700’s.  Both are classic examples of early settler’s homes.  And while you’re in the neighborhood plan to visit the Garner House with its handmade brick fireplace and authentic pine paneling.

From one of the many shops

Donald Ross, the famous Scottish golf course architect who built the acclaimed course at Overhills in Fayetteville, also built three courses in and around Southern Pines.  In Pinehurst you can still play a Ross course at the Pinehurst Resort & Country Club, Pine Needles, Mid Pines, and in Southern Pines at the Southern Pines Golf Club.  During his career Ross built nearly 400 courses, and favored the sandy terrain here, which reminded him of his home on Dornock.  His courses are notable in that they often incorporated naturally occurring elements instead of the modern method of reshaping the land and introducing new elements.

I had to snap this…TENNESSEE!!!
Unique shop displays
Tortoise shell earrings…a small souvenir

    If golf isn’t your thing, try shopping the historic district on Broad Street. Both sides of the street are a consumer delight with everything from gourmet coffee, fine dining, antiques, and cutting edge fashion. The Sunrise Theater, built in 1898, began as a hardware store before being converted in 1940. Today the Sunrise Preservation Group offers all manner of entertainment: original release movies, concerts, live broadcasts and theatrical performances. And across the street is the historic train station, also built I 1898. Today it operates as the Southern Pines Amtrak Station so it’s both beautiful and functional. Southern Pines, with its charming shops, world renowned golf courses and rich history has something to offer every visitor.



Occasionally Jim and I like to get dressed up and do bougie things.  When we do, he refers to us as “Skip & Buffy’.  Last weekend Skip and Buffy went to the horse races and had our own little My Fair Lady moment.

I wore pearl earrings and a large brimmed straw hat, he wore loafers and crisp khaki shorts, and we headed to the Pinehurst Harness Track for the Spring Matinee Races.

The track is historic…you know how I love anything historic and most of Pinehurst has some kind of historical reference.  The track opened in 1915.  Leonard Tufts, the son of Pinehurst founder James Tufts, helped to form the Pinehurst Jockey Club in 1916.  The 56 acre track was placed on the national Historic Register in 1992 and the Pinehurst Parks and Recreation Department maintains it.  Adjacent to the track is the Fair Barn which was built in 1917.

*Photo courtesy of Tufts Archives. The barn was used for a cattle auction in 1931.

“The Fair Barn is the oldest surviving early twentieth-century fair exhibition hall in North Carolina. It was built in 1917 for use at the Sandhills Fair, one of the major country fairs in the Southeast from 1915 through 1925.”

See?  Major historic cred.  The barn has been completely restored and is a multipurpose gathering place available for social events.  The day of the races the interior was set up as a gallery with dozens of easels sporting amazing horse art.

The horse…is smiling!
I had to stop myself from shouting “Move your bloomin’ arse!’ during every race!

Behind the bandstands are food trucks and along the fence line are tables you can rent.  In fact, the park opens hours before the races start so people can mingle and munch.  You contact “Bunny” if you want to reserve Rail-side Parking.  Her name could actually be Bunny…but I think she’s infringing on my thing.  We decided to purchase a table rail-side next time and bring friends.

This weekend Jim and I did our quarterly road-side cleanup.  We’ve adopted the road outside our neighborhood through the NCDOT program.  And next weekend Skip and Buffy are off to the Long Leaf Pine Horse Trials at the Carolina Horse Park.


Through some ironic twist of fate, Jim and I have almost always lived in small towns…Abilene Texas, Moore Oklahoma, Bossier Louisiana, Hope Mills North Carolina!  There were exceptions…two stints in DC (land of terrorists traffic jams and blizzards) but somehow the military always sent us off the beaten path.  Which means we’ve never been to a proper flea market.  We’ve never experienced the joy of finding funnel cakes conveniently located yards away from stuffed alligators, locally grown tomatoes and Louis XIV paintings.  Until now!

Saturday morning we loaded the Tommy Bahama Beach cart into the car and headed to the Raleigh Flea Market.  We took the scenic route through Fuquay Varina because seriously…who wants to drive the interstate?  The Flea market is hugely popular and Saturday was the first really nice day we’d had in a while so the place was packed.  We had to circle and wait for someone to leave then grab their parking spot.  While we were debating whether or not to take the cart…he was worried the aisles would be too narrow so we left it in the car…we watched someone back out and hit another car…almost knocking it off the tiny dirt ledge and onto the railroad tracks below.  Yah and then they just drove off!

Remember when I said Jim wanted to leave the beach cart in the car?  Well..the first stop we made was at a booth that sells corn hole beanbags.  We replaced his torn and broken set with a Carolina Panthers set…which he LOVES.  But…they’re kind of heavy so i made him carry them.  Then we bought two horns…

…this one lives on the coffee table

We’re not entirely certain what kind of horn they are.  I Googled ‘exotic African animal horns’ and I’m pretty sure this is…not.  I think it’s actually a Texas longhorn…horn.  Either way we love them.  But they’re long and awkward and sharp when you’re carrying them around in a crowd….trying not to stab people…or yourself.

Our next stop was an antiques dealer.  He had gorgeous chandeliers…most of them cost more than my car but a girl can dream.  He also had some amazing paintings.  But the real score was an antique golf club!  Before 1920 golf club shafts were made of hickory wood.  It was light but inconsistent and fragile so they switched to steel.  Today it’s kind of hard to find good examples because the wood was so easily broken or the grips are missing or the head has rusted.  We’re still searching for a second one so we can cross them and hang them.  By now Jim was desperately regretting his decision to leave the beach cart and we needed a pee break.  We lugged our swag back to the car, grabbed the cart and headed back.  This was my first opportunity to really look at the buildings.  The flea market is held at the NC State fairgrounds.  The main buildings were built in 1928 in the Mediterranean revival style.  They’re awesome…and totally look out of place in NC.  Seriously…it just screams Texas…maybe even the Alamo?  Across from the Alamo is the Dorton Arena.  the two buildings couldn’t be more different…

It’s new-agey and kind of has a sci-fi look to it.  This one was built in 1952.  It was designed by architect Michael Norwicki who died before construction could begin so local architect William Henley Dietrick oversaw construction.  I’m sure it has some kind of architectural cred…but I totally don’t know what Norwicki was thinking or why he put this next to the commercial buildings with their stucco finish and terracotta shingles or their turrets!  But Dorton does provide a shaded area to sit and rest and have a beverage when you’re all tuckered out from shopping.  So it’s got that going for it.

Jim refused to let me buy a single dish all afternoon and absolutely put his foot down when I suggested we needed some kind of taxidermy in the living room.  To be fair, the only two examples we found all afternoon were the very awkward looking alligator (as a Tennessee girl i can NOT have an alligator in my living room) and a somewhat deformed duck.  To be fair i don’t think he was always deformed.  Either his stuffing process went awry…or somewhere along the lines he was shoved into a storage unit and it didn’t suit him.

But we did find a few more treasures.  He purchased a leather wrist band for himself and bought me a large bottle of perfume.  Then i found a sterling spoon bracelet at Free Spirit Creations.  I’m developing a large collection of spoon jewelry….don’t know how that happened but I could write for hours about her lovely boutique and the unique treasures she had to offer!

Last but not least are the local growers with their honey and fresh veggies.  This area smells soooooo good!  The sun was beating down on the booths and you could smell strawberries and corn and vine ripened tomatoes all mingling together!  We didn’t buy any…we were afraid the ride home would wilt them so the next time we go we’re taking a cooler with us so we can stock up on fresh fruits and vegetables.

It was…a lovely afternoon…and well worth the wait.  I kept waiting to be disappointed…you know I’m a skeptic at heart…but the whole place is charming and exactly what I wanted in a flea market.  I highly recommend it and we can’t wait to go back again.

(most photos were borrowed from the Raleigh Flea Market’s website and/or facebook page)


Sometimes you just need to get out of town and listen to mind-blowing Scottish tribal drumming for 3 hours…right?

Confession 1:  all photos were taken with a cell phone and are incredibly bad

Confession 2:  I’m mildly obsessed with Europe.  Well…also with Africa and parts of Asia.  I’m mostly obsessed with the richness of their cultures and their longevity.  Especially now, when our own culture is so often pushed aside in the name of political correctness. I wonder if those cultures would have survived if they’d been as feckless in tossing our traditions as we seem to be.  And I’m fairly certain some liberal ass hat will come along and read this and say America is a democratic society with a long-standing tradition of allowing foreigners to enter the country, whereas Thailand or India are most definitely…not.  And maybe that played a small role in how we deviated from our traditions so easily and they didn’t.  But it can just as easily be argued that any nation as great as ours, with such colorful and varied traditions, should be defending them and preserving them.  With at least as much vigor as the masses seem to be defending their right to step on a flag or riot in the streets.

But that’s not the point of this post…

The point is that we heard Albannach would be performing in Raleigh and we decided we had to go!  They were playing an Irish pub called Tir Na Nog.  Luckily you don’t have to pronounce it to GPS it…so we set off to Raleigh for a night of international fun.

Colin Walker – lead drummer

Tir Na Nog is on Moore Square downtown and it’s all very picturesque and a little hipster-ish.  We like a little hipster every now and then…just not a lot.  I don’t know what it’s like when they don’t have bonafide Scottish musicians playing, but that night it was packed!  We procured adult beverages and a place to sit…then realized we were about an hour early…and starving.  Thank God we got there early because it gave us time to eat…

Yah…they serve food.  Not just any food, but the kind of food two poor souls from the barren food wasteland of Fayetteville will talk about for years to come….

“Do you remember the food…”

“At Tir Na Nog?!  OMG I was just thinking about that!!!”

…we still have that conversation.  Often.

Jacqui Holland – drummer & vocalist

I consider myself an adventurous person…but my sense of adventure knows boundaries…specifically culinary boundaries.  I rarely eat seafood when we go out.  I’ve never had a bad experience, but I have an overwhelming sense of unease when I look at a menu and see seafood on it.  Like, I know how desperately high the possibility of a bad experience is when you’re dealing with seafood.  Seriously…I don’t even fully trust the people at Joe’s Crab shack and they kind of specialize in that stuff.  Despite my acute paranoia…I ordered the fish and chips. I don’t even know why.  Maybe it was because i was tossing back cocktails like a desperate housewife on an afternoon soap opera or maybe it was because we’d driven out of town to listen to a Scottish band play bagpipes in an Irish pub on a week night…but I threw caution to the wind.


Jim ordered bangers and mash.  But then again Jim is the same guy who got drunk on cheap beer and thought it was a great idea to eat fish tacos at Denny’s at 3am one sad night.  To be fair, this was 20 years ago when we still lived in the dorm and his idea of cleaning was to shove everything he owned under his bed so no one could see it (that’s how I lost my favorite pair of shoes for 6 months). The point is…he is definitely still more adventurous than I am when it comes to food.  I seriously can’t emphasize enough how much we LOVED the food.  Go to Raleigh and and eat at Tir Na nog…you’ll thank me.  And maybe bring me something back…

Albannach was super fun.  I love the drumming…They’re so energetic and kind of wild.


I always feel kind of awkward at live music events.  Jim and I are not dancers.  No amount of alcohol can persuade us to gyrate publicly so we just kind of stand there bobbing our head in time to the music hoping everyone else is too drunk to notice.  I think this is why I became a photographer…if you’re documenting everyone else’s embarrassing moments…you’re too busy to have embarrassing moments.

Donnie MacNeil – piper


After 18 years in the community Tir Na Nog was closed briefly by the owner.   The former  manager recently reopened the pub at 108 East Hargett and Albannach is performing May 25th!  Also…Aya has left the band and was replaced with Drew Reid.




The whole world is talking about…and to…Brynne Huffman…

“Today I put on a pair of mid-thigh denim shorts, a flowy white blouse, flip flops and left the house to run a couple errands….

My second errand of the morning was a drop off at the UPS store. I stood in line between two women. Woman #1 in front of me was about sixty. As I took my place in line behind her, she smiled and complimented me on my tan and my hair. We chitchatted about the weather and children until it was her turn at the counter.

It the spirit of paying it forward, I turned to Woman #2 behind me and smiled. Woman #2 was probably about 30-35, very attractive, about a size 8, wearing a shirt that says “COEXIST”.

She says: “Your hair really is amazing. ::cocks head to side:: “You should probably rethink the shorts though.”


I’ve been following the story…and Brynne…all week trying to wrap my head around this.  Even now, it’s difficult to string coherent sentences together.  I just kind of want to point at the screen and grunt caveman style.

Women today talk a LOT about feminism and sisterhood.  There’s a presumptive narrative based on our presumed commonality.  But I suspect more often than not…very few of the women spouting these platitudes even remotely understand them.  And even fewer would actually sacrifice even a moment of discomfort to support another woman…or to defend another woman.

To be fair, Brynne isn’t one of those clueless women.  Brynne is part of a sorority, one whose long list of members have felt the pink-cheeked shame inflicted by another woman.  She understands the double gut punch a woman experiences when she’s among women, in a place of safety, and the women turn on you.

I’m part of that sorority.  I was introduced to the mean girls in 7th grade and for four long years they took great joy in reminding me daily of how inadequate and flawed I was.  They turned me into a ghost. I was always there but always out of sight.  I was quiet and demure and indistinguishable.  Not being seen was my full-time job.

I spent a lot of time analyzing their hate…trying to figure out where it came from and what allowed them to behave the way they did.   Then I spent a long time rehearsing an internal monologue to them.  I’d somehow convinced myself that if i could just convey how wretched they made me feel…it would somehow change things.   I was never clear on what exactly it would change…years had passed and I’d moved far away.  But the echoes of those mean girls still resonated in my head and I needed a ‘fix’ of some kind.

One day I realized there was absolutely nothing I could say to them that would show them what they put me through.  And to be honest…i was mad all over again.  But then another day, I realized they probably knew.  They probably had a mean girl of their own.  Maybe it was their mom or sister or a ‘friend’ but each of them had experienced the gut punch.

Fifteen years later I crossed paths with one of those mean girls…and she was happy to see me!  She said she’d just been talking about me the day before to the other church wives and told them how horrible she was to me in school.

That was it.  that was all she had to say about it.  We hadn’t spoken in nearly 15 years, and when we did, she brought that up.  And didn’t apologize!  Maybe she assumed I didn’t need an apology.  Maybe she assumed Jesus had already forgiven her and his forgiveness trumps mine.  Maybe…she’s just still a self-absorbed harpy.


I don’t know why she did it…I can’t solve all of life’s little mysteries…I’m a busy girl.  What i do know…is that while almost every woman has experienced this girl on girl hate, not everyone reacts the same.  The harpys, the mean girls, pay it forward.  They perpetuate the hate cycle ensuring generation after generation gets to feel that sting.  But some women…women like Brynne…use it as fuel,  It galvanizes them into action, it strengthens their resolve and instead of lashing out..they look for innovative ways to lift all women up!  Which in turn, inspires more women to do the same.


I encourage everyone to check out her new website The Body You Have, and don’t just follow her on this adventure but support her!  And while you’re at it…support ALL of the women in your life.  Hand out compliments…like a LOT of them!  I started today and it was great.




Elephant Walk

Jim is the airfield manager at Pope Airfield.  So I got VIP seating for this one.

‘An elephant walk is a USAF term for the taxiing of military aircraft right before takeoff, when they are in close formation. ..The term elephant walk dates to World War II when large fleets of allied bombers would conduct attacks in missions containing 1,000 aircraft. Those who observed this said that the taxiing of these large numbers of aircraft to takeoff in single file in nose-to-tail formations said that they looked like elephants walking to the next watering hole.’









Aloha Zoo

Jim and I took the kids to the Aloha Zoo today.  It’s owned and operated by a friend of a friend so we were excited to see what he’s done.  Most of the animals, even the exotic animals, were rescued so it’s pretty inspirational to see how they’re thriving now.


Peacocks run wild all over the estate.  I LOVE peacocks!





The cast members of M*A*S*H* were at the Airborne Museum today to talk about the experience of filming the show and mingle with guests.  Jim and I both grew up watching the show…everyone did!  So it was pretty awesome to see…



Loretta Switt as ‘Hot Lips” Houlihan




Jamie Farr as Corporal Klinger



William Christopher as Father Mulcahy



Fayetteville’s Historic Cemetery’s

It’s not often that Cait wants to spend the day with me…so when she does I jump on it.  We spent all afternoon tooling around the historic cemetery’s in Fayetteville.  There was lots of Spanish moss, a few homeless people and a lively discussion about grave robbing…so we had a blast.









Hiking Raven Rock


The couple that hikes together…stays together!

Plus we were bored and wanted to get out of the house for a few hours.  So we drove to Candice & Matt’s favorite hiking spot and we hiked the ‘easy’ trail at Raven Rock.

It was NOT easy.  I’m just gonna put that out there.  That little squishy part of your leg just above your kneecap…I killed it.  In both legs.  And it turns out that’s the most important part of your leg when you hike.

But it IS beautiful out there.  We did the whole trail…even down to the fish hatchery and we climbed all the way down to the river.  It’s super clean and you totally feel like you’re away from the hustle and bustle of humans out there.  I loved it!









Independence Day Fort Bragg Style


This is our first July 4th in NC…and we had a blast!  We’re exhausted, dehydrated and might have a heat stroke before the week is over but we’ve had so much fun!

On the first we went to the Symphony in the Park followed by fireworks in Festival Park.  One the 2nd we saw a movie,  on the 3rd we went to the Swampdogs game…followed by fireworks!  Today we saw Charlie Daniels and Little Big Town in concert and the 82nd Airborne did jumps, then we watched another fireworks display in Hope Mills.  Exhausted!  We need a few gallons of water and a few days to rest and recuperate





Memorial Day with Wilford Brimley


We spent Memorial Day in Festival Park with the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra, as well as the US Army Ground Forces Band and Wilford Brimley.  The Symphony performed an original score written for the event and Brimley read ‘Quiet Heroes’.





The Rockefeller Estate

In the winter of 1916 Percy Rockefeller, nephew of industrialist John Davidson Rockefeller, was visiting the Overhills Country Club nestled just outside of Fayetteville.  The club was owned by the Kent – Jordan Company at the time and was slowly gaining interest from the wealthy East coast crowd.   In 1921 Percy and William Averell Harriman, businessman and two-time presidential candidate, would form the Overhills Land Company for the purpose of managing the estate.

Percy Rockefeller (center) c.1920

Rockefeller was an avid hunter and immediately began construction on a fox hunting compound with twin stables for kenneling dogs and horses and a large paddock for training purposes.  Throughout the 20’s and 30’s the stables would be the starting point for the foxhunts which drew participants from up and down the east coast.  When Rockefeller died in 1934 the fox hunts stopped and the horse stable was converted into a dairy barn.  The dog kennels were mostly neglected and finally demolished in the late 1950’s.  Today all that remains of the dog kennel is a rough cement outline of the foundation.

The fox hunting compound shortly after completion
The Fox Hunting Lodge today 2013

Harriman was an expert polo player and would convert a dairy barn, one of the oldest buildings on the estate, into polo stables for his prized ponies. Competitions were held pitting Harriman’s horses against local teams from Fort Bragg and Pinehurst on a polo field Harriman built near the world renowned golf course on the estate.

The Barn – used as a dairy barn, then a polo stable for Harriman’s horses, and then a barn again.

Throughout the 20’s and 30’s the estate flourished.  The Birdsong Cottage was built in 1928 for Percy Rockefeller and his family.  Historic bricks and ceramic roof tiles were salvaged from buildings in and around Charlotte for its construction.  Outside the grand salon was a brick terrace and below the house was a four-car garage made of the same historic brick.  The estate also boasted its own post office, a train depot, a hunting lodge, a fully stocked lake and a golf course designed by Scottish architect Donald J. Ross.

CbcgIQJUYAIl4N9.jpg large
What’s left of the Birdsong Cottage

Percy Rockefeller and William Harriman had a falling out in the early 30’s and Harriman sold his interest and left the estate for good.  The Great Depression took its toll and the last guests to enjoy the resort left in 1932.  Percy died in 1934 and his wife died in 1937.  Their children inherited the estate and their only son, Avery, took over managing the property on the family’s behalf.  In the following years, thousands of acres were sold to raise revenue for new projects and to lessen costs.  The focus shifted from sports and recreation to agriculture and the polo stables were once again used for dairy cows.  Tenant farmers took up residence and the large palatial homes were razed and replaced with modern and modest homes.  While the Rockefeller family continued to call Overhills home until the 1990’s, the enchanting world of luxury they had initially established was long gone by then.  In 1997 more than 10 thousand acres were sold to Fort Bragg and Fayetteville’s connection to the notorious Rockefeller family would end.

A bathroom on the second floor of the fox hunting lodge

Somehow Overhills never found a spot on the National Historic Registry and each year several more buildings collapse or burn.  There’s no sign of the rail road tracks that once bisected the estate, or the animals that initially drew hunting guides to the land, or the opulent homes and clubhouses.  In 2009, Fort Bragg representatives announced their intention to use the acreage for field training exercises.  Both soldiers and trespassers use the playground of the rich and famous for war games, their discarded bullets scattered across the floor and bullet holes scar every door and wall.  Fortunately, a small group of urban explorers have discovered the estate and are slowly and methodically photographing what’s left in the hope of preserving some small bit of its history.

Parkton North Carolina


Parkton NC

We spent the day exploring Parkton.  Turns out…there wasn’ a whole lot to explore.  there’s a gas station across the street from this house and a family Dollar about 2 blocks away.  The house is scheduled for demolition and I’m devastated.





I’m not sure if anyone actually lives in it, but there’s usually a yard sale of some kind on the porch every weekend.  To be fair…it stinks.  It smells like mold and mildew and maybe a bit of dead things.  But they don’t make houses like this anymore…



After we explored the house we wandered out into the country a bit and found this old barn.  i got out to take pictures and Candice…sensing a potential for snakes…opted to stay in the car.  When i turned to walk back up the dirt road she was coming towards me to give me a flower she picked.  She braved snakes for her momma!


Edit;  the house is now gone and they built another Family Dollar in its place

Southern Pines

‘The first James Boyd, a steel and railroad magnate from Pennsylvania, came to Southern Pines around the turn of the century. He purchased twelve hundred acres and created an estate that included stables, tennis courts, gardens and a nine-hole golf course. He named it “Weymouth” because it reminded him of Weymouth in England….

The Boyds entertained extensively and Weymouth became the center of a very lively social life in the 1920s and 1930s, with literary friends such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Thomas Wolfe, Paul Green and Sherwood Anderson. Boyd became one of America’s outstanding authors of historical novels. Drums was followed by Marching On (1927), Long Hunt (1930), Roll River (1935) and Bitter Creek (1939). He also wrote poetry and short stories.”

Read more here


We spent the day exploring Southern Pines.  After a trip around the Weymouth House we visited the historic district and shops.  There’s an old theater that plays really old movies, lots of little boutiques, a coffee shop and a historic train depot.





The Other Rockefeller Estate

Today Jim and I toured the other Rockefeller estate in Carver State Park.   The home belonged to John Stillman Rockefeller, nephew of John D. Rockefeller.  Stillman bought the farm in 1937 and completed construction, on what would be his summer house, in 1938.


During WWII Stillman served with the Airborne Command and developed a real passion for the military and aircraft.  From a wooden platform high up in a tree, he would spend hours watching the aircraft take off from Pope AFB using binoculars.



When Stillman died in 2004  he bequeathed the house and 1400 acres to the NC Nature Conservancy.  The house sat empty and abandoned for more than 6 years until 2010 when the Conservancy finally accepted the donation and set about restoring it.  With funding from the state and grant money they’ve restored the roof and pumped standing water from the cellar.  According our guide…there were snakes living there…probably feeding on the mice we saw.


The most interesting part of the estate is simply the contrast between what Stillman built and what Percy created a few miles away.  Long Valley Farm is as modest and simple as Overhills was ostentatious and sprawling.  And while Overhills was designed as an oasis for the Rockefeller’s wealthy East Coast friends, Long Valley Farm was obviously meant to be one man’s retreat away from the responsibility of being a Rockefeller.


Fayetteville Welcomes Roller Derby

  Daville Roller Derby (DRD) is the brainchild of what’s affectionately referred to as ‘The Five Star Ambassadors’.

In June 2013, Devon and Tanea Murphy, Brandon and Nikki LaShure, and Christina Poland formed the initial board.  From there, they took tentative steps in establishing Fayetteville’s first dual roller derby league featuring women and men.   Forming a single competitive team in and of itself was a lofty ambition, but their agenda spans years and stretches into the farthest parts of the Fayetteville, NC Community.

“Our players come from the community, so first and foremost we want to give back to our community.”  Devon, the coach of DRD and the nucleus of this tight knit group stresses to his players and volunteers the importance of celebrating the community and giving back in appreciation of their support.  “We love to skate and have that contact with the fans, but we also want to make sure that we can always give something back – through our charity events for the Fisher House and for the local deaf community.”  Establishing DRD as a non-profit organization was an integral part of the team’s plan to work with and for the local community. “Most derby teams would like to be non-profit but not all teams are capable.  Securing that state and federal status just allowed us to do so much more for Fayetteville and our charities than most teams can do…it was an easy decision.”

DRD is currently comprised of three teams with plans to add a junior league in the near future.  The first team established was The Villains, their male team.   Devon is quick to point out it’s still a work in progress.  “Roller Derby has been a female dominated sport since 1935 so it’s more difficult to entice men and get them past that stereotype.”  They also pull from a predominately military community and lose skaters when they move.  The second team established was The Vixens.  “Female skaters want to belong to an organization; they want to belong to something meaningful.”   Lastly, they have a co-ed team which pulls skaters from the two existing teams.

Roller Derby was initially dominated by theatrical behavior and provocative costumes.  As more competitive skaters emerged the landscape changed and the campy nature gave way to serious athletes.   DRD has made a concerted effort to avoid the circus-like behavior of most recreational leagues, “We wanted to establish a strong foundation and let the league grow from there.”  Devon plans to take the league to the next step this summer by applying for membership with the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA).  WFTDA allows the team to compete on a nationally ranked level and sets them apart from the dozens of recreational leagues and stay goal oriented.  “DRD operates on a ‘bone deep’ motto.  What we do, we do to the core, to the bone.”


BJ’s Wholesale Club Readies for Holiday Shopping Season

Forget everything you know about the big bad box stores. There’s a new kid in town and they’re changing all of the rules.

The Westborough, M.A. based membership-chain opened its 200th store in Fayetteville, N.C. in June with a week-long celebration designed to introduce the local community to the convenience of one-stop shopping. Today, BJ’s continues to impress the Fayetteville community with more than 7,000 items including recognizable name brands and high quality food products. They also carry  the largest selection of organic and natural foods at incomparable prices.

Like other wholesale clubs BJ’s carries supermarket-sized staples, but they cater to the money conscious individual as well. Many of their products are sold in bulk but packaged individually to avoid waste. This is a new and refreshing concept in the wholesale market. Likewise, you can purchase large portions of meat and have them specially cut by BJ’s butchers with no extra charge. BJ’s also offers a full range of catering choices in their deli and bakery.

But BJ’s is so much more than a grocery store. The Fayetteville location includes a gas station with incredibly low prices for members and an automotive center. Their clothing department is fully stocked with name brand clothes for men, women, and children and at significantly lower prices than area department stores. The electronics department is impressive with the latest movies, music and video games.

They carry all of the latest best sellers in their book department for adults and children. They offer special packages for spa weekends, and roadside assistance. And for the adrenaline junkie there are motor cycles and go-carts!

Seasonal aisles are a shopper’s paradise; Christmas trees and decorations, wrapping paper and nativity scenes, as well as present options for even the most discerning shopper. Their toy department is arranged methodically by age group to make shopping easier than ever and they carry gift choices from the very traditional art sets and children’s books to the newest electronic gadgets.

BJ’s also boasts the most shopper friendly coupon policies around. They’re the only wholesale club to accept manufacturer’s coupons, but they also honor BJ’s coupons WITH manufacturer coupons on single items. “When purchasing a multi-pack of ‘individual for sale’ packaged items, which is a set of items that could be sold individually (each item has a barcode) shrink-wrapped and sold together, shoppers can combine one BJ’s issued coupon with a manufacturer’s coupons.” Coupons are available at the front of each store and are updated twice per month. They’re also available through the BJ’s website and can be found in the quarterly publication mailed to members.

5200 Red Tip Rd, Fayetteville, NC 28314
Phone:(910) 764-1680

Swampdog Sweethearts

In 2010, the Swampdog staff took a simple idea and turned it into something revolutionary:  The Sweethearts.

In lieu of a simple dance team, the Sweethearts serve as the face the Swampdogs and ambassadors in the community.  The girls attend various events throughout the year sharing information about the team, handing our schedules, and answering a million questions from the younger fans about mascots Cookie and Fun-Go.  They also work throughout the ballpark and help to set it up for home games.

Jeremy Aagard, General Manager of the Swampdogs, encourages the Sweethearts to look for volunteer opportunities and to be more actively involved with their community.

“It’s the same message we deliver to the players – we require the players attend four public appearances…our thought is if we’re not active and supportive of the community there’s no way we can ask them to be supportive of us.”  In encouraging the Sweethearts to act on civic responsibility, the Swampdog program is enriching their lives by allowing them opportunities to plan charitable events, gain public speaking experience and build a relationship with their own community.

Visit the Swampdogs and the Sweethearts at Fayetteville SwampDogs:

J.P. Riddle Stadium
2823 Legion Rd.
Fayetteville, NC 28306-3225

For more information about the Fayetteville Swampdogs or the Sweethearts, please visit or call 910-426-5900

Moore Oklahoma

You never truly appreciate a town until you’ve left it.  Maybe it’s just me, maybe it’s a military thing …but it’s always true.  I left Moore, Oklahoma in August 2010.  I didn’t linger and say goodbye to all of the places we loved to shop or eat, I was focused on the new life we were starting.  But, like every town we left during our twenty years in the military, I assumed it would always be there just in case we ever decided to wander back by and say hello.

Today I’ve watched countless reporters talk about the devastation, the loss of homes and cars, businesses and pets and even life, with the same sense of detachment they convey when reporting a political scandal.  And I wish for just a little while they could stop thinking of this in monetary terms, stop focusing on the relief funds, the clean-up efforts, and the new statistics…and remember these are people and this was their home.

Veterans Park was near my house and my daughters and I use to walk there every night in the summer.  They would play on the swings or chase lightening bugs while I walked the track, then we’d stop on the bridge and scan the water for snakes…always hoping we wouldn’t see one but then getting those delicious chills up and down our arms if we did.  Today it’s broken trees and bits of chipped marble left from the memorial wall.  But the last time I saw it, it was crawling with teenagers we rounded up for the biggest midnight game of hide and seek you’ve ever seen.

Both of my daughters went to Highland East Junior High before moving on to Moore HS.  I spent countless hours parked in their horseshoe shaped drive waiting to pick them up after school.  They made friends there, friends they still talk to. They joined clubs and went to dances.  They had crushes on boys and gossip sessions with their friends.  They planned sleepovers, lost homework, doodled on notebooks and they made memories.

I was one visit from scoring a reserved parking spot and my own chair at the Moore Medical Center.  My husband broke two ribs trying out his new table saw, my daughter fell out of the pool (yes, you read that right) and sprained her back, and my youngest child tripped over someone, did a somersault and knocked herself unconscious at school….those are just the highlights.  There were countless nights spent there with fevers, stomach viruses, and unexplainable kid rashes. In retrospect I think I should have had that reserved parking spot.We’re going to miss the skating rink where we practically lived on hot summer nights, stopping at Freddy’s every Friday for their creamy delicious ice cream, the post office with the friendliest staff  in the country, and the bowling alley where I took all the girls after prom ended in tears and broken promises.

Moore isn’t just a town on a map and it isn’t just a bunch of statistics and demographics. It’s a home to thousands of people…and it was home for us. We made a life there, and then we packed it up and carried it away with lots of happy memories. For our friends, the residents of Moore, all they have left are their memories. The stuff that made up those lives is gone…carried away by a tornado. But…the people I know will persevere. They soldiered on after the bombing, and again after the Mar 3rd tornado in 99’. They’re not just strong, they’re Oklahoma Strong.


Jim and I traveled through Moore in May of 2016.  It’s a changed city.  The debris and chaos is all gone.  Every single home has been rebuilt, and nearly every business is back up and running.  The only visible sign of change was the Moore Medical Center.  A new hospital is standing where the old one was, but the interior wasn’t quite finished.  There’s a makeshift triage center in the parking lot made up of a long chain of portable buildings and tents.  The grand reopening was scheduled for a few days after we left.