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August 2017

All ordinary citizens perform extraordinary acts of courage and bravery every day. Because the borders of the United States are protected by vast bodies of water and friendly neighbors, I’ve seldom thought of the impact of World War II on Americans at home. Recently I saw Dunkirk, the movie, which focuses on an incredible moment in British military history. The impact that ordinary citizens had on Operation Dynamo, as it was called, truly was a miracle. Between 300,000 and 400,000 British and French troops were surrounded by the Germans on three sides and the English Channel in late May 1940. They had little hope of returning to their native shores. Because of shallow water, the soldiers were being ferried from the beaches to awaiting destroyers, an excruciatingly slow process. On May 26 the British Ministry of Shipping requisitioned small craft with shallow draft all along the Channel coast for what was officially called Operation Dynamo. More than 700 private boats made up the flotilla that rescued more than 338,000 soldiers between May 26 and June 4, 1940. The contribution of civilians to this effort is almost unfathomable. Although many of the requisitioned craft were piloted by naval personnel, many civilian owners piloted their own craft in this heroic effort that came to be known as the Miracle of Dunkirk.

Seeing this movie reminded me of one of my favorite childhood books, Taffy of Torpedo Junction by Nell Wise Wechter. Did you know that Germany came knocking on America’s front door right here in North Carolina in 1942? When the United States declared war on Japan following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the Germans declared war on the United States and sought to take advantage of America’s poor war preparations by striking at the vulnerable merchant sea lanes just off the North Carolina coast. More than 80 ships were sunk off the coast of North Carolina between 1942 and 1945. The German U-boats were relentless during the first six months of 1942. Outer Banks residents would hear explosions day and night that shook their homes. The Coast Guard and civilians living on the Outer Banks were instrumental in rescuing survivors of ships that were sunk by the German U-boats. Coastal blackouts became mandatory and people were suspicious of anyone with a foreign accent. These were uneasy times along the North Carolina coast. The postmistress in the village of Buxton, on Hatteras Island, became leery of a stranger who brought in large wooden boxes to mail and alerted the FBI. They responded, traveling to the island and opening the boxes to discover detailed maps of the entire eastern seaboard. Ordinary citizens, just like those in England who participated in the Miracle of Dunkirk, impacted the war effort in North Carolina. And it is worth noting, that for all the death and destruction wrought by the U-boats, there was a humane side to these enemies. In a 2008 interview, native islander Carol Dillion, who was a child on Hatteras during the war and the inspiration for the character Taffy, said that the German U-boats didn’t harm local fishermen.

One of the saddest byproducts of the tragic U-boat destruction was the oil spilled by the torpedoed tankers. It was estimated that 150 million gallons of oil spilled into the sea and made its way up on the beaches along the Outer Banks during 1942. Needless to say there was no swimming that summer. Sometimes, even today, small patches of blackened sand can be spotted on the beaches of the Outer Banks, a reminder of those massive oil spills in 1942.

There are numerous articles and books, both fiction and non-fiction, that tell the story of World War II on our home shores. Dennis Rogers describes Taffy of Torpedo Junction as “The best piece of children’s literature ever produced in this state." It tells the story of the early days of World War II and the impact on the ordinary citizens of North Carolina’s Outer Banks. It’s a great read for adults, as well as adolescents. A non-fiction book, Torpedo Junction by Homer Hickam, details the horrific impact of Germany’s Operation Drumbeat on American merchant ships off North Carolina’s coast in 1942. (Photo courtesy of the Outer Banks History Center, State Archives of North Carolina).

Ordinary people performing extraordinary feats – it happens every day, not just in wartime, in North Carolina, and around the world.

When August 1st arrives I’m always struck by the shift I feel. The days are getting shorter, schools are preparing to start, and my thoughts begin to envision warm days and cool nights. Though I’ll miss the delights of summer – warm sunny days at the beach with my granddaughter, delicious flavors of fresh peaches, corn, and tomatoes, relaxed dinners with friends, I find this calendar shift energizing. Late August and early September represent many new beginnings. I hope you enjoy the remainder of summer and welcome the change of seasons with joy and renewed energy. As you begin to plan your fall calendar please join visit NC concierge for our day trips to Seagrove and Winston-Salem.

I look forward to seeing you on these special travel adventures!

maryesther@visitncconcierge.com
visitncconcierge.com
(919) 302-0574

Seagrove Pottery Adventure
September 27, 2017

Explore the rich culture of the ancient craft of pottery as we travel for a day to the heart of North Carolina’s pottery traditions in Seagrove. Seagrove is approximately an hour and a half from Raleigh, and is notably, according to the Seagrove website, “the largest concentration of working potters in the United States … no other state possesses such a large, diverse, and continuous ceramic heritage.” The North Carolina Pottery Center is our first stop, where we will enjoy a docent-led tour of the museum’s permanent and special exhibits followed by a pottery demonstration. As the first state pottery center in the nation, its mission is to “promote public awareness and appreciation of the history, heritage, and ongoing tradition of pottery making in North Carolina through education programs, public services, collection and preservation, and research and documentation.”

After lunch, we will visit the studio of Ben Owen III, named a North Carolina Living Treasure by UNC-Wilmington Museum of World Cultures in 2004. Ben’s grandfather, master potter Ben Owen Sr., introduced his grandson to pottery when he was 8 years old. Ben will chat with us about his family’s unique connection to the art and craft of clay.

Our final stop before returning to Raleigh will be Jugtown, the oldest, continuously operating pottery seller in the Moore and Randolph counties area. It’s off the main road and practically hidden amongst the trees, a step back in time. 

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Cultural Immersion in Winston-Salem
November 10, 2017

Join visit NC Concierge for a cultural immersion into the arts during a day trip to Winston-Salem. First, explore the Sawtooth School for Visual Art, the premier community art school in the Triad region, operating on the site of the Hanes company’s first hosiery factory. Then, we’ll tour the art deco Kimpton Cardinal Hotel, located in the former R.J. Reynolds headquarters building, and enjoy a delicious lunch onsite before moving on to the Reynolda House. The highlight of our day is the Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern exhibit, a collection of works by the artist along with photographs and personal items. This exhibit makes its only Southern stop at the Reynolda House and will be staged throughout the exhibition hall and the Reynolds family home. This tour has it all: history, design, architecture, and fine art! 

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Solid as a Rock

On a recent stop in Mt. Airy we visited the North Carolina Granite Corporation. Recognized as the world’s largest open face granite quarry, the quarry has about 90 acres of its 7 miles by 4 miles and 6,000 to 8,000 feet deep mass under operation. Quarrying began in 1889, and geologists estimate that the site has a life expectancy of 500 more years! Notable buildings and monuments made from North Carolina granite include the Wright Brothers Memorial in Kitty Hawk, N.C. (pictured above), the United Arab Emirates Chancery and the National World II Memorial, both in Washington, D.C. 

Don't Miss the Solar Eclipse!
On Monday afternoon, August 21, 2017, Americans will experience a solar eclipse, the first in the continental U.S. since 1979 and the first solar eclipse visible exclusively within the United States in more than 700 years! Here are the prime viewing areas in North Carolina for the “path of totality." Be sure you have safe eyewear for viewing the eclipse. NASA’s recommendations can be found in this article.
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What Our Guests are Saying About Us

We loved the carriage tour through the historic district. The homes and buildings were beautiful. We loved everything we did and thought each stop was delightful. Exceeded expectations.
~ Suzie and Rob D.

Very pleased with all. What a beautiful city (Wilmington). So glad I got to visit. 
~ Doe S.

It seemed just right. The best part was the variety and no sense of rush. Exceeded Expectations.
~ Duke and Nancy T.

Mary Esther is always available to answer any questions you may have and with great patience. She also is very willing to help solve any problem you may have. She is an excellent planner, director and tour guide. Her trips have been super!
~ Billie M. 

Contact us to book your tour today! 
919-302-0574
info@visitncconcierge.com
visit NC concierge is a premier hospitality company dedicated to providing the discriminating traveler unique experiences savoring North Carolina’s history, geography, and culture at a leisurely travel pace while enjoying the state’s finest sites, cuisine, and lodgings. Itineraries are subject to change at the discretion of the company. Group size: minimum 10; maximum 30. Registration for each tour closes 30 days prior to tour start date. For more information, visit us at visitncconcierge.com
 
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