D.G. Martin

Would A Shirley Temple Help?

What President Obama needed was a Shirley Temple! Not the popular non-alcoholic drink named for the childhood star. What he needed as he faced the nation’s worst economic situation since the Great Depression was the kind of help President Franklin D. Roosevelt got from a bright, cheerful, optimistic child actor who lifted the spirits of almost every American during the dark times of the 1930s. Even after her recent death at age 85, people still remember – indeed worship – her. She rivaled FDR as the most photographed person in the world. From 1934 until 1940, she made 22...

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Our “Variety Literatureland”

“Variety Vacationland.” Do you remember that slogan from our state’s past? I suggest a new one: “Variety Literatureland.” In the next few weeks, I plan to provide support for my suggestion in the form of books and their authors who will be appearing on North Carolina Bookwatch. First is Krista Bremer, associate publisher of The Sun, a successful national magazine headquartered in Chapel Hill. Bremer’s essays have been published widely, most recently in the April 13th Sunday Magazine of The New York Times. In the Times piece, she writes about a gift from her mother-in-law, “a blanket, over 12...

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Saying Thanks Is Not Enough

“Thanks for your service.” Maybe we have done a better job of showing appreciation to the members of the armed forces who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan than we did for those who served in Vietnam. Some opponents of that war made many Vietnam veterans feel that coming home was like leaving one war only to be thrown into another. But today’s “Thank you for your service,” is not substantially better, as far as some at Afghanistan-Iraq veterans are concerned. They can be forgiven if they think “Thank you for your service” is an incomplete thank you, an insincere...

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From Ash Pond, To River, To Your Bloodstream

“When you have finished drinking this bottle of water, fill it with our tap water for liquid refreshment that tastes as good and is just as pure as what was in the bottle.” That was the message from the City of Wilmington’s proud and professional public utilities department at an event celebrating one of its enlightened water quality improvement projects a few years ago. Their message still hits home with me. Every time I remember it, I am grateful for the blessing of safe and carefully treated water that is available in almost every city and town in North...

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Be Proud Of The Way You Talk

You sure do talk funny. Has anybody ever told you that? If you grew up in North Carolina and moved somewhere else for a while, you surely got that kind of question from folks who just had to laugh when they heard you talk. Or if you grew up somewhere else and moved here, folks may have told you that they know you are not from around here. They may have even said, “You talk like a Yankee.” Is there something special about the way we talk here in North Carolina? The best person to answer is Walt Wolfram,...

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New Books, Times, And Authors For Bookwatch

There are three pieces of good news about my favorite television program, UNC-TV’s North Carolina Bookwatch: First, upcoming new programs feature some of North Carolina’s most interesting authors. UNC-Greensboro’s Michael Parker’s new novel follows a North Carolina man who packs up a truck, runs away from his troubles here, and winds up in Texas. On a used car lot, he meets a woman who wants to buy the same 1984 Buick Electra that he had decided to buy. Inexplicably, they buy it together. Then Parker brings the stories of these two people and the car into one surprising and...

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North Carolina-Florida Women: Political Bellwethers

What important Democratic woman politician, a Wake Forest alumna who was born in North Carolina and later moved to Florida, has gained national attention this year for her candidacy in a critical bellwether election? There are two correct answers. First, Senator Kay Hagan. Although born in North Carolina, she grew up in Florida, where her family had long been politically active. She worked on campaigns for her uncle, the late U.S. Senator and Florida Governor Lawton Chiles. After graduating from Florida State, she came back to North Carolina for law school at Wake Forest. She stayed here to marry,...

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“A Mountain Populist To The Very End”

When long-time legislator and lawyer Martin Nesbitt died last week at age 67, he was already on my mind for a column. The news of his stomach cancer, followed quickly by his death, shocked those who remembered his powerful presence as a representative and then state senator. Nesbitt was one of North Carolina’s all-time great legislative leaders. For that I admired him greatly. But we sometimes ran into difficulties back in the 1990s when I was representing the university system, and he was trying to take into account the needs of the entire state in his role as chair...

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North Carolina’s Tribal Rivalries

Have we gotten used to all the national attention on North Carolina and our tribal rivalries? Do we mind the reports of the mean-spiritedness, the rudeness, the shouts and ranting, the unsupported ugly comments about the opposition and its motives, and the hateful remarks about the leaders of the other group? Am I thinking about Republicans denouncing the Rev. William Barber and the Moral Monday marchers? Or the angry marchers condemning Governor Pat McCrory, Art Pope, and the state legislature? It could be, in some other week. But this week the reports about our tribal rivalries focus on UNC-Duke...

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Planting Native, Saving Our Diversity

“First question for you,” says UNC-TV’s Exploring North Carolina host, Tom Earnhardt, when he begins his talk to a Rotary club or other civic group, “is how many of you have spare parts somewhere in your body?” A few hands go up. “I’m not just talking about new knees or organ transplants,” he prods on. “What about cataract eye surgery? Or a tooth implant?” More hands go up, and Earnhardt continues, explaining that all those new parts have to fit in with the body’s system. They have to work with other parts of the body just like the parts...

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