Walter Edgar's Journal

All Stations: Fri, 12-1 pm | News & Talk Stations: Sun, 4-5 pm

Walter Edgar's Journal delves into the arts, culture, history of South Carolina and the American South. (A production of South Carolina Public Radio.)

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed on Walter Edgar's Journal are not necessarily those of South Carolina Public Radio.

Radio's Golden Age

Aug 12, 2019
Photograph of (l to r) Eddie "Rochester" Anderson, Dennis Day, Phil Harris, Mary Livingstone, Jack Benny, Don Wilson, and Mel Blanc - most of the cast of The Jack Benny Program.
World Wide Photos via Wikipedia

(Originally broadcast 05/03/19) - The term "Old Time Radio" often refers to the programming and performers of a “golden age” in the medium, beginning after World War I and lasting well into the 1950s. Guest Bill Owen joins Walter Edgar to talk about this golden age on this week’s program. Owen is a writer and a retired radio/television announcer now living in Greenville, SC, whose career spans six decades.  His has written or co-authored several books, including Radio's Golden Age: The Programs and the Personalities and The Big Broadcast.

The Return of Hemp

Aug 6, 2019
Bails of hemp at a warehouse of the Columbian Rope Company, Auburn, NY, August 6, 1918.
The National Archives. Source: The U.S. War Department

(Originally broadcast 04/19/18) - Hemp was once one of the crops grown in South Carolina and exported to the world. That changed, however, when enforcement of the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 effectively made possession or transfer of hemp illegal throughout the United States under federal law, excluding medical and industrial uses, through imposition of an excise tax on all sales of hemp.

Dawson's Fall

Jul 29, 2019
Roxana Robinso
Beowulf Sheehan/Post and Courier Books

In Dawson’s Fall (2019, MacMillan) novelist Roxana Robinson tells a story of America at its most fragile, fraught, and malleable. Set in 1889, in Charleston, South Carolina, Robinson’s tale weaves her family’s journal entries and letters with a novelist’s narrative grace, and spans the life of her tragic hero, Frank Dawson, as he attempts to navigate the country’s new political, social, and moral landscape.

North Inlet - Winyah Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. Aerial view of meandering tidal creeks and extensive pristine marshes in North Inlet Estuary. Vicinity of Georgetown, South Carolina.
NOAA Photo Library [CC BY 2.0] via Flickr

In their new book, A Wholly Admirable Thing (2018, Evening Post Books), Virginia and Dana Beach chronicle ten stories that showcase the rise of the Coastal Conservation League to one of the country’s most tenacious and innovative conservation groups. The book highlights transformational initiatives undertaken by the Conservation League over three decades in partnership with community activists up and down the South Carolina coast.

File photo of a veranda on an old southern home.
Gretta Blankenship via Pixabay

In his book, The South of the Mind: American Imaginings of White Southernness, 1960–1980 (2018, UGA Press), Zachary J. Lechner bridges the fields of southern studies and southern history in an effort to discern how conceptions of a tradition-bound, "timeless" South shaped Americans' views of themselves and their society's political and cultural fragmentations, following the turbulent 1960s.

Willie Earle is shown in a police mug shot from a prior arrest, was taken from the jail and lynched by a group of whites in 1947.
Greenville Police Dept

Before daybreak on February 17, 1947, twenty-four-year-old Willie Earle, an African American man arrested for the murder of a Greenville, South Carolina, taxi driver named T. W. Brown, was abducted from his jail cell by a mob, and then beaten, stabbed, and shot to death. An investigation produced thirty-one suspects, most of them cabbies seeking revenge for one of their own.

The police and FBI obtained twenty-six confessions. Remarkably, the names and photos of the defendents were published in a Greenville newspaper.

Chasing the Moon

Jul 1, 2019
Former President Lyndon B. Johnson (left center) and Vice President Spiro Agnew (right center) view the liftoff of Apollo 11.
Courtesy of NASA, July 16, 1969

Apollo 16 astronaut Charles Duke joins documentary producer/director Robert Stone  to talk with Walter Edgar about the Space Race of the 1960s, and about making the documentary Chasing the Moon.

"Brig. Gen. Daniel Morgan"
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Print Collection, The New York Public Library.

On January 17, 1781, at Cowpens, South Carolina, the notorious British cavalry officer Banastre Tarleton and his legion were destroyed along with the cream of Lord Cornwallis’s troops. The man who planned and executed this stunning American victory was Daniel Morgan. Once a barely literate backcountry laborer, Morgan now stood at the pinnacle of American martial success.

Tarawa, Kiribati - U.S. Marines storm Tarawa in the Gilbert Islands. The battle (November 20-23, 1943) was one of the bloodiest of WWII.
(U.S. Marine Corps Courtesy Photo by Warrant Officer Obie Newcomb, Jr.)

In November 1943, Marine 1st Lt. Alexander Bonnyman, Jr. was mortally wounded while leading a successful assault on a critical Japanese fortification on the Pacific atoll of Tarawa, and posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest military honor. The brutal, bloody 76-hour battle would ultimately claim the lives of more than 1,100 Marines and 5,000 Japanese forces.

"Return of a Foraging Party to Philippi, Virginia"
Illustration from Harper's Weekly, August 17, 1861/NY State Library

In War Stuff: The Struggle for Human and Environmental Resources in the American Civil War, her path-breaking work on the American Civil War, Joan E. Cashin explores the struggle between armies and civilians over the resources necessary to wage war.

Andrew Jackson
The Bureau of Engraving and Printing [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Andrew Jackson returned to the Oval Office, so to speak, in 2017, when President Donald Trump hung the 7th President’s portrait there. And, Jackson will return, so to speak, to Upstate South Carolina in June at Greenville Chautauqua’s History Alive festival.

Dr. J. Brent Morris
USC Beaufort

(Originally broadcast 03/10/17) - In this final installment of public Conversations on South Carolina: The State and the New Nation, 1783-1828, Dr. Brent Morris, associate professor of history and chair of the humanities at the University of South Carolina-Beaufort, talks with Dr. Walter Edgar about the unification of the a divided South Carolina, and its evolution from a strongly nationally-oriented states to a leader in the states' rights movement.

All Stations: Fri, May 31, 12 pm | News Stations: Sun, Jun 02, 4 pm

(Originally broadcast 02/24/17) - Join us for the third public conversation in a four-part series of Conversations on South Carolina: The State and the New Nation, 1783-1828. Dr. Lacy Ford, Dean, College of Arts & Sciences University of South Carolina, and author of Origins of Southern Radicalism: The South Carolina Upcountry, 1800-1860 and Deliver Us From Evil: The Slavery Question in the Old South, will discuss the ideology and public policy of slavery in the American republic.

(Originally broadcast 02/17/17) - For the second lecture in this four-part series of Conversations on South Carolina: The State and the New Nation, 1783-1828. Dr. Larry Watson discusses slavery in South Carolina. Professor Watson is Associate Professor of History & Adjunct Professor of History South Carolina State University and the University of South Carolina. He is author of numerous articles on African American life in the American South.

Mature cotton field, Cherokee County, S.C.
Matin LaBar [CC BY-NC 2.0] via Flickr

(Originally broadcast 02/10/17) - Dr. Peter Coclanis, the Albert Ray Newsome Distinguished Professor & Director of the Global Research Institute at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, joins Dr. Edgar for the first of a series of Conversations on South Carolina: The State and the New Nation, 1783-1828. Professor Coclanis, author of The Shadow of a Dream: Economic Life and Death in the South Carolina Low Country, 1670-1920, will discuss the historical importance of cotton to the state's economy.

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