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A number of Mark Helprin’s works — Winter’s Tale, Memoir From Antproof Case, and more — have appeared on the New York Times Bestseller List. Helprin’s A Soldier of the Great War, his story of an Italian army officer and his struggles for survival during the First World War, is a thick novel which I have read twice and to which I return on a regular basis, rereading favorite scenes, always astonished by the beauty of writing and touched again and again by certain passages. His Freddy and Fredericka, a story whose characters are loosely modeled on Prince Charles and Princess Diana, stands alongside John Kennedy Toole’s New Orleans novel, A Confederacy Of Dunces, as perhaps the two funniest novels I have ever read.

They say “Ask and thou shalt receive,” but Nancy Bolding of Otto probably received way more than she bargained for when she reached out for help to plan her husband’s 94th birthday party.

Dec. 7, 1941. It’s a date that conjures numerous images and thoughts. The USS Arizona engulfed in smoke and flames. Fighter pilots zooming across the sky with the “rising sun” emblazoned on the sides of their aircraft. Machine guns blasting upwards, bombs being dropped down onto unsuspecting soldiers and civilians.


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Locals react to Japanese attack
Witness to history
Swain band performs at Pearl Harbor Anniversary

When the Japanese bombed the U.S. base at Pearl Harbor on that dark day, our country not only found itself now pulled into World War II, it also signaled a turning point in our history that still reverberates into today — politically, economically, and socially.

With over 2,400 Americans killed at Pearl Harbor, it was the largest foreign attack on U.S. soil until the World Trade Center in 2001. What Pearl Harbor represents is where the line in the sands of time was drawn. It’s where Appalachian farm boys grabbed their rifles and became national heroes, where housewives grabbed their tool belts and built war machines. It was the unification of a nation that had the weight and fate of the world on its shoulders as the likes of Hitler, Mussolini and Hirohito salivated at the idea of complete domination and destruction.

My late grandfather was there — front and center — at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. Enlisted in the United States Army, Frank Kavanaugh was a 21-year-old from rural Upstate New York, ready to see the world on his own, unbeknownst to the real dangers that lay on the horizon. He rarely spoke of his time at Pearl Harbor, and also of his experience during several key battles in the Pacific Theatre of World War II. But, he did however conduct an interview on Pearl Harbor in 1994 (Google: Home Town Cable Frank Kavanaugh). 

And as the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor rolls around, we celebrate those brave men and woman of “The Greatest Generation,” who answered the call of war in hopes of defeating the Axis powers in an effort to create a better tomorrow in the face of peril and utter doom. 

— By Garret K. Woodward, staff writer

On Thursday, Dec. 4, 1941, newspapers in Western North Carolina revealed cities in full holiday swing — ads for Philco tube radios, canned Christmas hams and silk stockings filled their pages, along with announcements for holiday parties and special sales.

Turning onto Qualla Road in Waynesville, the meandering route goes from pavement to gravel to dirt within a half-mile. By the time you realize it has been a little while since you’ve seen a mailbox, a small cabin appears in the tree line to the left.

The Swain County High School marching band was noticeably absent from the annual Bryson City Christmas Parade last weekend, but they had a good reason.

In May, the auditorium in the Folkmoot Friendship Center was dedicated to a man instrumental in establishing Waynesville and its environs as one of the most important centers of folk culture in the nation.

coverHe got to me before I could get to him.

Turning into the large parking lot of the Canton Ingles last week, Paul Willis was already stepping out of his car to greet me. At 95, he’s as spry and vibrant as someone a third of his age. And before I could exit my vehicle and properly introduce myself, Willis had his hand extended into my open window.

Remembering the fallen

fr WW2websterWhen William Guffey’s name was first etched on the stone face of the monument outside the old Webster School — along with those of his 10 fallen classmates — the year was 1951, the wounds of World War II were fresh and his niece Barbara Sutton Bennett was a senior at the school.

fr monumentWebster will hold the biggest Veterans Day celebration it’s had for 64 years when it rededicates the World War II monument that Webster High School students erected in 1951 to honor their fallen classmates.

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