Monday, September 07, 2015


Here is the first edition of a feature by Warren Sparrow that we hope will become a regular on this website.  


The Weakly Reader
Vol. I, No. 1

Winston-Salem, North Carolina
1 September 2015

Welcome to the first edition of The Weakly Reader, a publication dedicated to the enjoyment of all souls who spend too much time looking in their rear-view mirrors.  It is the mission of this publication to encourage its readers to keep their eyes on the road ahead and have a good time doing it. 

Perhaps it is appropriate to get started with a poem published in the spring of 1954 Snips and Cuts, Page 121.

                                            the commencing

Each one has bold sharp edges on the base
That he has set to build his living on.
And in defense of conformity,
He claims each jutting angle as his own.

He wishes not to differ with his kind,
But elders’ set traditions chafe his wings;
He wants to be a part of life that soars--
Of life that dreams, and does, and life that sings.

The outline of that base pray God to soften,
By some part added here, subtracted there,
So that the whole be separate and distinct,

Yet—part of all that’s best and all that’s fair. Pray
each man be not worn to dreary sameness
With every other being placed on earth;
But let his nature, different from all,
Work well with all, that each best proves his worth.
Diana Kay Carpenter
On Page 134, Mary Ran Norton concluded the “Class History” with this:

They look back on the friends we’ve made                                   and hope to keep fun we’ve had and want to continue, the Blue Mondays
and glorious Fridays, the hard work and excitement of
frantic days and nights filled with laughter and good clean fun. 
This we remember as the height of happiness, our high school days.

But feet were made to go forward, so we must look
for new horizons, saving a special place for Central and the
class of ’54.   

Three months after our graduation I decided to “look for new horizons.” My feet and I were on our way to see a Labor Day event like no other.  Here is part of what the morning paper said about it.   

From The Charlotte Observer, Labor Day, 6 September 1954:

46 Run At Darlington Today

The race of the mile and thee eighths paved oval will offer a purse of $31,000 before a crowd estimated to reach 25,000.  The 16,000-seat bleachers and grandstand are expected to be filled.  Another 9,000 are expected in the big infield parking area.

                                                *          *          *          *

I went to that race, the first one I ever saw.  It would also be the last.  I was one of the 9,000 The Observer expected in the infield

Sixty-one years ago the front-row qualifiers were Buck Baker, Fireball Roberts and Herschel McGriff, all driving Rocket 88’s..

Starting on the eighth row was Herb Thomas of Sanford, NC, driving a 1954 Hudson Hornet. 

Not listed among the 46 starters was a dude who zoomed around the track in a black Cadillac, turning the fastest laps of the day.  Unfortunately, he had to change tires more than any other driver.  Therefore, he did not win.      

I learned many lessons that Labor Day.  One was to make sure you leave home early enough to get where you want to go on time, especially if you have to park a mile from the stands.  We got to the Darlington parking field too late for the start of the race.  I was disappointed. 

Another lesson learned was to be prepared for ear-splitting noise.  To get to the Darlington Raceway infield, I had to cross a catwalk which ran directly over the track.  Because the race was underway, the cars were going all out when I scampered across.  The sound was loud, much louder than any freight train I ever heard. This served me well during my 36 months of living on an ocean-going airport.  
A third lesson learned was it is true that stock-car racing is not for everyone.  On that day I saw something I had never seen:  Women passed out at a sports event.  It did not appear that they were drunk.  The sun and dust were too much for them.  For the first time in my life I had to buy water.  Until then I thought I had a Constitutional right to free water. 

Hall of Fame Driver Herb Thomas
Alas, I survived.  Herb Thomas won the race, outlasting the Rocket 88’s.  It was the classic tortoise-over-the-hare thing.  His frumpy, gray Hudson Hornet even looked like a tortoise.  The guy in the black Cadillac?  He learned some lessons, too. In later races, he switched to Chevrolets.  He must have read the words of Diana and Mary Ran.  His name?  Junior Johnson.

                                    *          *          *          *

Mystery man in the Black Cadillac, Junior Johnson
So ends the first issue of The Weakly Reader.  The publisher gratefully acknowledges the support of our sponsors, Ralston-Purina, the makers of Hot Ralston, “take a tip from Tom, go and tell your Mom, Hot Ralston can’t be beat;” and Oxydol, proud sponsor of Oxydol’s Own Ma Perkins.

                                                *          *          *          *
    The Weakly Reader
                                       Warren Sparrow, Editor and Publisher
                                                   1117 West Fourth Street
                                                 Winston-Salem, NC 27101
1 September 2015