D.G. Martin

One on One: Give Them a Book

What is a good book I can give a friend? Every year I get this question from folks who know that I try to keep up with North Carolina-related books. First of all, I have to warn people that giving books is not without risks.  In fact, an effective way to lose friends is giving a book that is not right for them, and then checking every other day to ask how much of it they have read. On the other hand, a book that is carefully and lovingly chosen can be a perfect gift. Just in case you...

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One on One: Help Wanted — Female

“The real mystery after half a century,” Wyndham Robertson says, “is why life at the top of large American corporations still seems so overwhelmingly male.” Writing in The New York Times on November 29, the Salisbury native and Chapel Hill resident remembered when, 50 years ago, the Times changed its want ads format to eliminate the “Help Wanted–Female” category and combine its classified job notices into a single and simple category, “Help Wanted.” Looking back, Robertson remembers entering the New York business world in 1958. “We women were sorting through the ‘Help Wanted–Female’ section, poring over ads from places...

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One on One: A Plaque for Bush in Chapel Hill

“There should be an historic plaque in Chapel Hill honoring George Bush.” On the day after the former president’s death, Chapel Hill lawyer and chair of the town’s historic district commission, Bob Epting, was making opening remarks at a public seminar on preserving historic spaces. “I didn’t vote for him,” Epting said. “But I admired and loved him.” Epting explained that during World War II, Bush and about 15,000 other prospective U.S. Navy pilots were part of a pre-flight training program at Chapel Hill. “It is a shame that there is no marker here for Bush and the others.”...

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One on One: Sir Walter — More Than a Traitor and Pirate

“Because he was a traitor and a pirate,” East Carolina University professor and leading North Carolina public historian, Larry Tise, explained to his sons why Sir Walter Raleigh spent 15 years in the Tower of London and was then beheaded. In the November 1 News & Observer, Tise wrote that he had grown “up in North Carolina where we lauded Raleigh for choosing the Carolina coast for the first English explorations and attempted settlements in North America.” Tise now labels Raleigh’s attempted settlement on the North Carolina coast an “egregious error” that we have spun “into the romanticized saga...

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One on One: Lessons for Democrats From the Recent Elections

What did North Carolina Democrats learn from the elections earlier this month? A few lessons: North Carolina Democrats learned the great advantages of recruiting good candidates to run in every district, even when the odds of winning some entrenched legislative seats had seemed remote. Well-funded, well-organized campaigns can produce demonstrably good results. However, they learned again that clever partisan gerrymandering gives Republicans a clear advantage in legislative and congressional elections. Until this year, the situation was similar in Pennsylvania. Republicans held a 13-5 edge in that state’s congressional delegation prior to redistricting ordered by the state’s supreme court. In...

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One on One: The Next UNC President

Who will succeed Margaret Spellings as president of the UNC System? That is what folks in the university community are asking these days. The next question is, Can anybody be persuaded to take that position after how the system’s board of governors has treated the last two presidents, Tom Ross and Spellings? Truth is, the UNC System job even with its governance problems, could be an attractive challenge for ambitious university leaders across the country. But before beginning a worldwide search for a miracle-promising leader from the outside, the board may decide that someone with experience in North Carolina...

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One on One: Give The Devil His Due

“Can’t you say anything good about President Donald Trump?” Some of my friends claim that I do not give our president a chance. They say I always overlook his good qualities. So I have decided to respond to that criticism by thinking of good things I can honestly say about him and then making a list to share with you. I first looked to the Boy Scout law for ideas of good qualities Trump might have: trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent. I found no help there. Trump does not even pretend...

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One on One: 30-Year-Old Story Still Inspires

Why would I ask you to read from a column I wrote almost 30 years ago? When I read that column, tearfully, at a recent family reunion, I knew I wanted to share it with you, just in case you missed it back in 1987. That year was one of triumph for my mother. In 1933 she finished college and left her home in South Georgia to go to New York to study theatre. She was admitted to the prestigious Neighborhood Playhouse, training ground for many of America’s best actors. It was the Depression, hard times for everybody. But...

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One on One: A Rare and Precious Apple

When H.G. Jones died on October 14, our state lost a key connection to its history as well as a prime and positive, but all too rare, example of dedicated and unselfish public service. For many years Jones was my neighbor. I admired the fruit tree in his front yard across the street from my house on Country Club Road in Chapel Hill. It was an uncommon variety of apple named “Mattamuskeet.” Its small, dark-colored fruit was not as alluring as the flashy golden varieties in the grocery stores, nor was its flesh as super sweet and tasty as...

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One on One: NC’s Most Iconic Eatery

I am looking for iconic North Carolina eateries for a new book. The dictionary defines “iconic” as “widely recognized and well-established” or “widely known and acknowledged especially for distinctive excellence.” The iconic restaurants should be (1) widely known in North Carolina, and better yet, known throughout the country and the world, (2) have been in business for many years and have a compelling backstory that includes ownership by interesting people, (3) have a loyal following, and (4) last, and maybe least, put good food on the table. Sunnyside Oyster Bar in Williamston, Sanitary Fish Market in Morehead City, and...

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