Walter Edgar's Journal

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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.

Brooks - Tompkins home, Edgdfield, SC
Upstateherd [CC BY-SA 4.0] via Wikimedia Commons

In his thoroughly researched and meticulously foot-noted publication, An Edgefield Planter and His World: The 1840s Journals of Whitfield Brooks (2019, Mercer University Press) Dr. James O. Farmer, Jr.,  opens a window on the life of an elite family and its circle in a now iconic place, during a crystalizing decade of the Antebellum era. By the time he began a new diary volume in 1840, Brooks (1790-1851) was among the richest men in a South Carolina district known for its cotton-and-slave-generated wealth.

"Death of Major Ferguson at King's Mountain," Virtue & Yorston, 1863
Anne S.K. Brown Military Collection, Brown University Library

The Battle of Kings Mountain was a military engagement between Patriot and Loyalist militias during the Southern Campaign of the American Revolutionary War, resulting in a decisive victory for the Patriots. The battle took place on October 7, 1780, in what is now rural Cherokee County, SC. The Patriot victory was one of several key battles in Carolina that turned the tide of the war against Great Britain.

The Detroit tribune, November 23, 1946: a notice that Isaac Woodard will speak at an NAACP event.
Library of Congress, from Central Michigan University, Clark Historical Library

(Originally broadcast on 03/08/19) - On February 12, 1946, Sergeant Isaac Woodard, a returning, decorated African American veteran of World War II, was removed from a Greyhound bus in Batesburg, South Carolina, after he challenged the bus driver’s disrespectful treatment of him. Woodard, in uniform, was arrested by the local police chief, Lynwood Shull, and beaten and blinded while in custody.

Cokie Roberts
1997 ABC, Inc Steve Fenn

Veteran journalist Cokie Roberts has died at age 75.  Roberts joined NPR in 1978, the start of a remarkable career that led her to ABC News in 1988, though she remained on NPR as a commentator until her death. Roberts died Tuesday due to complications from breast cancer, according to a family statement.

Walter Edgar interviewed Roberts during a 2004 book tour promoting her book, Founding Mothers, when she made a stop at Litchfield Books. 

"Shoeless" Joe Jackson, Cleveland, in 1913.
Harris & Ewing Collection, Library of Congress

In his new novel, The Last At-Bat of Shoeless Joe (2019, Chickadee Prince), Granville Wyche Burgess  imagines Shoeless Joe Jackson, the outfielder disgraced in the 1919 “Black Sox” scandal, living in Greenville, South Carolina, and finding that sports history has one more twist in store for him.

NOAA satellite infrared image of Hurrricane Hugo, 12:01 a.m., Sept. 22, 1989.
NOAA

Thirty years ago this month, the strongest and most costly hurricane to strike South Carolina in the 20th century made landfall. Hurricane Hugo was a Category 4 storm when it came ashore just slightly north of Charleston, on Isle of Palms on September 22. The hurricane had 140 mph sustained winds, with gusts to more than 160 mph and brought a storm surge of over 20 feet to McClellanville, SC. Thirty-five people lost their lives to the storm and its aftermath in South Carolina. Damage from Hugo in South Carolina was estimated at $5.9 billion.

Dorothea Benton Frank
Courtesy of Harper Collins

On Monday, September 2, 2019, South Carolina lost a beloved author. Dorothea Benton Frank, author of 20 best-selling novels set in the Lowcountry, died at the age of 67 after a brief illness.

We’d like to share with you an excerpt of Dottie Frank’s last visit with us at Walter Edgar's Journal, broadcast August 14, 2015.

Country Music

Sep 2, 2019
Dwight Yoakam plays a Martin D-28 guitar. Yoakam is among the 76 of the 101 country music artists interviewed for the series who signed two Martin D-28 guitars.
Courtesy of Jared Ames

Since its first publication in 1968, Bill C. Malone’s Country Music USA has won universal acclaim as the definitive history of American country music. Starting with the music’s folk roots in the rural South, it traces country music from the early days of radio into the twenty-first century. In the 2019,  fiftieth-anniversary edition, Malone, the featured historian in Ken Burns’s 2019 documentary on country music, has revised every chapter to offer new information and fresh insights.

Destruction at the Walled City (Intramuros district) of old Manila in May 1945, after the Battle of Manila.
Office of the Surgeon general, Dept. of the Army via Wikimedia Commons

(Originally broadcast 02/08/19) - In his book, Rampage: MacArthur, Yamashita, and the Battle of Manila (2018, W. W. Norton), Charleston historian and author James M. Scott recounts one of the most heartbreaking chapters of World War II.

When Gen. Douglas MacArthur prepared to liberate the capital city of the Phillipines in 1945, he believed that the occupying Japanese forces would retreat. Instead, determined to fight to the death, Japanese marines barricaded intersections, converted buildings into fortresses, and booby-trapped stores, graveyards, and even dead bodies.

Detail of the title page of A History of Carolina presented to North Carolina in 1831 by James Madison. The book is now part of the collection of the N.C. Museum of History.
NC Dept of Natural and Cultural Resources

(Originally broadcast 03/29/19) - In 1700, a young man named John Lawson left London and landed in Charleston, South Carolina, hoping to make a name for himself. For reasons unknown, he soon undertook a two-month journey through the still-mysterious Carolina backcountry. His travels yielded A New Voyage to Carolina in 1709, one of the most significant early American travel narratives, rich with observations about the region's environment and Indigenous people.

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.

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.

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