Southern Pines, NC

About an hour south of Chapel Hill is the idyllic small town of Southern Pines, home of the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame. The town sits right in the middle of the area called the Sandhills and was incorporated all the way back in 1887. It really does have the charm of a cross between the fictional settings of Mayberry and Avonlea. 
The picturesque downtown is a classic, right down to the traditional railroad tracks running through the center of town. A charming train station and city park just on the other side of the street complete the scene.
My reason for visiting is the Country Bookshop, which celebrates its 59th birthday this year. One of the early owners was children's illustrator Glen Rounds. Glen, born in a sod house in the Dakota badlands in 1906, was quite a character; he once palled around the country causing trouble with other notable artists such as Jackson Pollock and Thomas Hart Benton. Boomer, the store's mascot, seen here on their logo, was created by Glen.
Joan Scott bought the store in 1984 and moved to town from Washington, DC. It seems Joan, and her success with the bookshop, was what really kept the town thriving when other small Southern towns were facing hard times, and the citizens still honor her. Sadly, Joan passed away about seven years ago. Now the award-winning local newspaper,
 The Pilot, owns the store, and they lured Kimberly Daniels from New York to run things. As Kimberly puts it, "I never thought I would leave New York, but little did I know a dream life was waiting for me here."
Here's the handsome storefront on Broad Street.
Here are three beautiful reasons the store continues to be such a success: Angie Tally, Lauren Kepper and Kimberly on the right. 
Kimberly and I settle in at the back of the store for the buying session, flinging the catalogs to the floor as the hours go by. The later the hour, the further we fling!
By the way, Kimberly is sure the store is haunted by Joan's ghost. She explains: "Joan comes to make sure that I know what I am doing; she has changed computer screens and pulled books from shelves that she felt were inappropriate buys by me. We came in one morning to find a book she wouldn't have bought laying on the floor. I swear I have seen her several times too. Once, late, late at night, when I was still trying to figure things out (and screaming in frustration), I felt there was a cloudy, dark, transparent essence of another person there, and then the computer screen changed right in front of me. My co-worker Beth did not believe me until several weeks later when she found, at her computer, a handwritten note with a book title written on it, in Joan's unmistakable hand writing. To honor Joan and keep her ghost happy, I have a painting of her up at the front counter -- I mean she truly is still around!"
Travis Gray is the man behind the fabulous artwork that is seen throughout the store.

Below is the artist himself (with the famous picture of Joan watching over him).

Here also is Kimberly's answer to my on going time travel question:

If you could go back in time
to any period from before recorded history to yesterday,
be safe from harm, be rich, poor or in-between, if appropriate to your choice,
experience what it was like to live in that time, anywhere on earth,
meet anyone, if you desire, speak with them, listen to them, be with them.
When would you go?
Where would you go
Who would you want to meet?
and most importantly………why? 

I would want to go to what is now known as New Providence, in the Bahamas, but when it was a pirate republic, from 1713 to1718.
I would go then, before the British cracked down on the pirates and started their PR campaign to paint them as bad.
I would want to meet the pirates and find out if they really were actively creating a 'republic'. I'd want to find out if they really were spreading their ideology of voting and community power. I'd want to know if I am right in thinking that pirate ideology was a major seed for our American Revolution, and if this was a purposeful spread of ideas, or did it just happen? 
When the citizens threw out Benjamin Hornigold, the first leader of the Pirate Republic, for his loyalty to the British, was it actually an ideological split? I would want to talk to several of the pirate captains, both male and female, and  ask the trader John Cockram if my idea is correct, he would really know. He left piracy, married a girl and became the merchant trader for the Pirate Republic and the go between to the legitimate colonies. 
I have always had a romantic vision of pirates. When I worked in television in NYC, I would sometimes take classes at NYU,  and after a childhood of being obsessed with pirates off the North Carolina coast, I wrote my thesis about this little known time and the little researched Pirate Republic, where everyone voted and and chose leaders.

Finally, here's pirate Kimberly celebrating her new home in Southern Pines, North Carolina. Arrr!


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