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We will have a new look at the end of August. We will have the same website address and we will still be a WordPress site but our look is going to change with a new theme. There are a few reasons for this change.

One reason is for security. Newer WordPress themes need to meet all the current website security protocols and this helps give our content and our visitors a little more internet protection.

The second reason is functionality. We are working to make the site easier to view on multiple devices, from mobile phones and tablets to desktops. Newer themes have more up to date functionality for this feature.

A third reason is for usability. We want to make it easier for people to find information about our collections, our blog stories, calendars, event notices, and how to contact us. That’s a lot of information to wrangle and we are working to make it easier to access.

We look forward to the roll out and we hope that you enjoy the new layout of our website.

As always, click images for larger size where available…

Dick Bennick spins records at Downtown A’ Go Go, his club for teens only, located on the second floor of the Mercantile Building…Forsyth County Public Library Photograph Collection

Home Builders was established in 1921. Their original offices were on the fourth floor of the Wachovia Bank & Trust building at Main and Third Streets, but soon they moved to their own building at 315 West Fourth.

On Wednesday, March 14, 1928, city building Inspector M.K. Holjes issued a permit to S.C. Ripple & T.A.M. Stevenson, officers of the Home Builders company, to erect a 26,000 square foot two story steel, concrete and brick building on the north side of West Fourth Street between Marshall and Spruce Streets at a cost of $120,000. Site preparation was already underway and construction soon began. It was to be called “The Mercantile Building”.

The Mercantile Building (left) in the mid-1930s, still incomplete and unoccupied almost a decade after construction began…Digital Forsyth

But Home Builders encountered some financial problems and were unable to complete construction. With arrival of the Great Depression, the partially finished building stood vacant for almost a decade before it was completed in 1937. The first tenants were General Crowder Billiards (411 West Fourth, operated by Alvin “General” Crowder, a former major league baseball pitching star), which quickly became the hangout for the sporting crowd – you could consider it our first sports bar. The Winston-Salem Baseball Club, our hometown minor league team, which was owned at the time by Crowder, superintendent of schools John Watson Moore, Claude R. “Pop” Joyner, sheriff Ernie Shore and others had its offices upstairs. Continuing westward, we find the Forsyth Theatre (413 West Fourth); the Picadilly Restaurant (415 West Fourth); and Bocock-Stroud (417-419 West Fourth), which began as a home appliance and sporting goods store.

The Mercantile Building around 1940

 

The house behind Woolworth next to the WSJS radio and TV building, was occupied by Hair Designers Beauty Salon, operated by Fleet Gobble, who also ran the Winston-Salem Barber College at 545 North Trade Street and another hair styling business. Fleet also served in the NC General Assembly. His daughter, Diane, was in my sister’s class at Ardmore and RJR High schools. Before that, in the early 1940s, the building housed the Elks Club. And before that a very popular tea room where all the trendy ladies lunched…the crowd in this photo is not attending the grand opening of Woolworth. They are waiting in line in 1956 to see the movie “Giant”, based on Edna Ferber’s best selling novel and starring Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean, at the Carolina Theater…Forsyth County Public Library Photograph Collection

In 1955, the building was acquired by the F.W. Woolworth Company.
After considerable remodeling, they opened their second local store there in September of that year. They kept part of the Forsyth Theatre marque to serve as their street sign. In the 1960s, popular radio DJ and TV schlock showman Dick Bennick operated the Downtown A’ Go Go, a club for under 19s only upstairs.

Dick Bennick is at the mike between two band members…Forsyth County Public Library Picture Collection

That same year, Woolworth opened another store at the brand new Thruway Shopping Center, and soon another at Parkway Plaza Shopping Center. When the downtown stores closed in the 1970s, the building again stood vacant for a time. But in 1985, it underwent yet another renovation and reopened as Mercantile Plaza.

Mercantile Plaza, 1985…

A few years ago we had a great Latin restaurant there, Rana Loca, offering dishes from various Latin American locations. Unfortunately, it did not last.

 

Were has the summer gone? We’re rolling along here at the Central Library and have been busy with local history reference questions and lots of people coming by to do genealogy! We have some great programs coming to the branches this month with a program at Walkertown Branch Library on August 20th and one at Lewisville Branch Library on August 22nd. We look forward to seeing you.

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Are you stuck on your genealogy research? Visit the North Carolina Collection for Genealogy Help. We can help you find resources to answer your genealogy questions.

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Don’t forget that you can attend the Forsyth County Genealogical Society  monthly meeting at Reynolda Manor Branch Library on the first Tuesday of the month @ 6:00 PM. These meetings are free and open to all.  

August’s meeting will be Tuesday, August 7, 2018. 

“Finding George: A Newbie’s Discovery of Genealogy” Tom McLain. Six years ago, I took up family history as widespread interest in genealogy and the availability of commercial resources was rapidly accelerating. Knowing nothing, I explored many tools, websites, software programs and databases—and found some essential, some helpful and many not. I learned about solving mysteries and the thrill of discovery as well as about frustration and the need to set personal boundaries, goals and standards. This presentation hopes to offer the relatively new family historian some personal hindsight that might help avoid some of the bunny holes that can waste time and money. Please invite friends who may be new to genealogical research to join us!

As always, click the pictures for full size where available…

This time out, we have a guest author, Mike Marshall, who with his friend Jerry Taylor has written four books on the history of Kernersville. Here we learn that Ray Goad of Mt. Airy invented one of America’s favorite habits, the fast food breakfast.

Kernersville Rays Kingburger Restaurant, mid-1960s. Photo courtesy Carol Faley

Ray’s Kingburger: The Beginnings of a Fast Food Tradition in Kernersville

By Michael L. Marshall

Today, fast food chains are just another ubiquitous part of America’s urban landscape, something we all now take for granted. But that hasn’t always been the case. In fact, it wasn’t until the mid-1960s that Kernersville acquired its first chain restaurant. Called Rays Kingburgers, it was noted for a hamburger of the same name and was located on NC Hwy 66 South, just off I-40.

Ray Goad at 15

 

Ray with future wife Geneva, 1940s

The Rays chain was founded by Ray Goad Sr., of Mount Airy, North Carolina. Ray opened his first restaurant, Ray’s Midway, so-called because it was in Pinnacle, NC, about halfway between Mt. Airy and Winston-Salem on old US 52, in 1955. It was so successful that in 1959 he built a brand new building and opened Ray’s Starlite Restaurant, which was considerably upscale from the previous establishment. It was an immediate success. People made the drive up from Winston-Salem and from many other surrounding communities to try something a bit different. But by the early 1960s, Ray was thinking about the new fast food chains. In 1964 he opened the first Ray’s Kingburger restaurant on the US 52 bypass in Mt. Airy. The burgers were a good bit better than those at McDonalds, Burger King and Hardy’s, so soon there was a second Ray’s Kingburger in downtown Mt. Airy and others in Greensboro, Winston-Salem and Kernersville. By 1969, there were fifteen Rays locations in North Carolina, including those in Mount Airy, Winston-Salem (on North Patterson across from Northside Shopping Center), Kernersville, Greensboro, Burlington, Asheboro, Salisbury, Lenoir, Boone, North Wilkesboro, Elkin-Jonesville, as well as three in Virginia, located in Wytheville, Blacksburg, and Pulaski. Eventually, the Rays chain numbered almost forty restaurants scattered across North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and Tennessee.

Ray’s first restaurant in Pinnacle

But Ray was always thinking ahead. In 1970 all fast food burger places opened at around 10-11:00 AM. There was no such thing as a “Croissan’wich” or “McGriddles” or a “breakfast burrito”. Ray remembered that some of the most popular items at his original Midway Restaurant had been breakfast sandwiches, especially country ham and biscuits, with the biscuits being made from Ray’s mother’s own recipe. Ray decided to experiment with serving breakfast at his Kingburgers locations. The first attempt came in Kinston in 1970. It was an instant success, so all Ray’s Kingburger restaurants began offering breakfast, the first hamburger chain to do so. It worked so well that all the others soon copied Ray’s breakfast menu.

Early Ray’s Kingburger ad

According to several discussions the author held with Ray Goad Jr., the unique design for the restaurants was created by Jack Greenwood, the president of Blue Ridge Enterprises, a Construction Company based in Mount Airy. The first prototype was built in Mount Airy as the second Ray’s Kingburger location not long after the very successful opening of the first building of another design on Highway 52 in Mount Airy in 1964. The Kernersville restaurant followed soon thereafter. The original Rays King Burger sign design, shown in the photo of the Kernersville restaurant above, perfectly reflected its 1960s origins.

Ray Goad Sr. died in Mount Airy on March 23, 2015 and was buried at Oaklawn Cemetery. He was 92 years old. As noted in an obituary posted on Legacy.com, he was a “fast food pioneer who can be credited with changing the way many American’s eat breakfast. In the early 1970’s there was not a single McDonalds, Wendy’s or Hardee’s that was open for breakfast anywhere. Ray Goad pioneered the concept by being the first to open for breakfast at his dozens of Ray’s Kingburger restaurants across North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Tennessee.

“More significantly, he featured the homemade from scratch southern biscuits that his mother had started making at one of his first restaurants…in Mount Airy, N.C., the home of Andy Griffith and Mayberry USA. You can’t eat at a Ray’s Kingburger restaurant today, but you can find a sausage biscuit at any fast food restaurant a few blocks from your home all across the USA.”

And another first. As noted in his obituary, “It is believed that Ray Goad was the first to contract with Richard Petty for his endorsements and promotional appearances, both on radio and television, and in person at Ray’s locations, and had customers’ singing along with the memorable jingle “The Faster you go, the more you need Ray’s.”

The author would like to thank Ray Goad Jr., of Delray Beach, Florida, for much of the information used in this sketch.

The original restaurant was spelled “Starlite”…the later, fancier signs spelled it “Starlight”…

Editor’s note: For snippets from the Richard Petty TV ads and a lot more, see a somewhat overlong video about the life of Ray Goad, Sr. here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fc-33oluqQE

The summer is in full swing and we wanted to let you know about some genealogy programs happening in the Library. We have a few genealogy programs and other opportunities for you to learn about genealogy and to hone your research skills.

Genealogy 101 – Intro to Online Geenealogy
For those just getting started with genealogy or who would like to brush up on search techniques for online research. This free program will cover the basics of genealogy research on Library accessible databases African American Heritage, Ancestry.com, HeritageQuest, and My Heritage.

Wednesday, August 22 @ 11-12am
Lewisville Branch Library
 

Genealogy 505-Genealogy and Your DNA
Come learn about the different kinds of genealogy DNA testing that is available and how that can help you with your genealogy research.

Thursday, July 12 @ 10-11 am
Central Library – Computer Learning Center

Monday, August 20 @ 6-7 pm
Walkertown Branch Library

We offer genealogy one-on-one assistance in the North Carolina Collection research room every month. Check out the Genealogy Programs Calendar for July for dates and times when staff or volunteers can dedicate time to helping you with specific genealogical questions.

Forsyth County Genealogical Society
Tuesday, August 7 @ 6:15 pm
Reynolda Manor Branch Library

Join the Forsyth County Genealogical Society at their monthly meeting for a presentation on beginning genealogy research for your family. The presentation “Finding George: A Newbie’s Discovery of Genealogy” by member Tom McLain, will be helpful for new and experienced genealogists alike.

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As always, click on the pictures to see full size where available…

Bob Mayer, 1947

 

Bob Mayor with the 1942 Hanes High School band

Bob Mayer arrived on the campus of the R.J. Reynolds High School in the fall of 1942. He worked all day at RJRHS, but was also responsible for the Hanes High School marching band. He hardly had time to get his feet wet before he was in the Navy, where he would attain the rank of lieutenant commander during WW II. In the fall of 1946, he returned to the campus. He threw himself into his work as director of instrumental music at the school. By the end of that year, he was one of the most popular teachers at Reynolds. And other members of his family had made a hit as well.

Nancy Mayer, age 3, was the official mascot of the RJRHS class of ’47…Nancy would later perform with the RJRHS band, orchestra, choir, majorettes and Dancing Boots…

 

RJRHS marching band, 1946-47

Bob inherited a band of about 45 instruments and eight majorettes. He knew what made a great band…that both groups needed to get bigger, the majorettes more so than the instrumentalists…because a band is a show. By 1950, he had about 100 instruments and fifteen majorettes. By 1956, there were nearly 30 majorettes, with several specialized twirlers.

RJRHS band, 1950

 

1956- 57 majorettes…front, l-r: Ann Vance, choreographer; Kay Currin; Kay Wall; Binnie Pulliam, chief; Carol Smith; Ruth Thomas; Julie Blackwood, asst chief. At left and right of the back row are the Hanks sisters, Frances and Joann, master twirlers. At center of the back row are Mary Jane Allen, “demon”, who wore a black cape, and next to her Helen Newport, the other master twirler.

Bob also realized that some sort of feeder system was necessary, so he established an eighth grade band and a “B” band, to nurture those who were not quite ready for the big time “Black & Gold” band. Both of those bands were bigger and better than most area high school ensembles.

My 8th grade band at RJRHS, 1956. In front is chief majorette Carol Howell. Directly behind her is drum major Alex Surratt. Flanking Alex are my future sisters-in-law, the amazing twirling Gardner twins, Nancy, left and Barbara, right. The majorettes in white at left are, l-r, Anne Davis, Kay Cook, and Nita Cox. At right, l-r, Donna Steiffel, Barbara Lineberger and Sweet Sue Airy. Oh, and up in back, next to Bob Mayer, is the one and only Robert Pulliam, baritone horn player extraordinaire…we didn’t perform at varsity football games, but we did march in our share of parades…

Bob was a natural innovator. In those days, most bands moved to a drum cadence, stopped to play, then moved to a drum cadence. The RJRHS band learned to play while moving. Most bands had lyres on their instruments to hold copies of the music. Bob thought that looked tatty, so the RJRHS band had to memorize the music for a new program every week…no lyres, no flapping paper. Most bands’ repertoires were made up of John Philip Sousa, with maybe a show tune thrown in here and there. RJRHS reached far higher.

No one who was there will ever forget the night at the big band festival in Bristol. The other bands came on the field to drum cadences, did their formations and tunes, came off the field to drum cadences. When it was time for RJRHS, not a drum tap was heard. The band split into two halves and walked silently out along the endlines of the football field, half at the south end, half at the north. When all were in place, drum major Bobby Mayer strutted out along the fifty yard line, executed an about face, raised his baton above his head and brought it smartly down, and the band began playing the Eastern Orthodox hymn of the Holy Cross, the opening notes of Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture”. Then the two long lines began moving down the field toward the 50 yard line, passed through each other and moved into the first formation, playing all the way. When the show was done, the audience went wild.

But events happening elsewhere would change things at RJRHS forever. In 1940, the Kilgore, Texas Community College introduced the first ever college football dance team, the Kilgore Rangerettes. They achieved immediate fame across the nation.

Kilgore Rangerettes, c. 1940

But in 1954, the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, seeking to emerge from the shadow of their better known neighbors, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Tulane and LSU, created their own dance team, based on the Rangerettes and the fabulous Rockefeller Center Rockettes.

USM “Dixie Darlings”, 1954

The USM “Dixie Darlings” premiered at the 1954 USM-Alabama football game. Within a couple of years, performing at major college bowl games, on national prime time TV, in a layout in Life magazine, and touring everywhere, they had become a worldwide sensation.

Vinni Likely Frederick, 1942

Back home, Bob Mayer was watching. He knew a couple of big time dancers who had founded the Academy of Dance Arts in Winston-Salem in 1947. Helen Leitch Stanley had been one of George Balanchine’s first stars at his school of American Ballet. And Vinni Likely Frederick had been a Rockette, the toughest and best dance team ever. Bob had more than one conversation with them.

In the spring of 1959, the RJ Reynolds High School held tryouts for the state’s first high school dance team. Once the selection process was over, the girls chose a name for the group, the Dancing Boots, and elected Meriel Mitchell as their first chief, Nancy Dunham, assistant chief and Betty Ward, choreographer.

Then boot camp began. Sixty girls spent the summer sweating…learning steps, learning how to stay in synch with each other, learning how to kick higher than they ever could have imagined.

First Boots, 1959

The Dancing Boots made their debut on September 11, 1959, at a Reynolds vs Lexington football game at Bowman Gray Stadium. The very next night, they performed at the annual Piedmont Bowl, an NFL exhibition game between the Washington Redskins and the Green Bay Packers. The Redskins had won three of the first four Piedmont Bowls, but that night they lost. Some explain that by pointing out that it was Vince Lombardi’s first appearance at the Piedmont Bowl as coach of the Packers. But others have suggested that the Redskins were distracted by the Dancing Boots.

Roy Thompson, the Winston-Salem Journal’s star reporter, wrote:

“The halftime show had everything from the bands and Sally (Miss Winston-Salem) Weston to horses and four beautiful floats decorated with a passel of beautiful dolls.

But the biggest halftime thrill of many a football season in these parts came from a group from Reynolds High called the Dancing Boots.

Sixty pretty girls in identical outfits and dancing in such perfect precision that you’d have thought they had one girl and 59 mirrors.”

That was the first ever mention in print of the Dancing Boots. Certainly, Redskins owner and president George Preston Marshall was mightily impressed. He immediately issued, from his seat in the VIP box, an invitation for the RJRHS band, majorettes and Dancing Boots to appear at halftime of the game between his team and the Philadelphia Eagles at Griffith Stadium on Sunday, December 6 of that year. It would be one of the first televised performances of a high school band at an NFL game.

That led to the first ever full article about the Boots, written by Journal reporter J.D. Alexander and published on December 4, 1959.

The above article appeared in the Winston-Salem Journal on Friday, December 4, 1959

At lunch time that Sunday, some of the Boots told J.D. Alexander that their morning dress rehearsal had been a disaster. They were afraid that they would embarrass themselves on TV that afternoon. But when they came off the field at Griffith Stadium in midafternoon after a near perfect performance, they were greeted with wild applause. Many NC dignitaries, from governor Luther Hodges to Piedmont Bowl officials were present. Twin City mayor Marshall Kurfees admitted that he shed a few tears of joy and pride. Ironically, the only picture of the day published by the Winston-Salem Journal showed the band on the field, minus the Dancing Boots. Since they were the reason that the band was invited, one wonders who was making the editorial decisions on Marshall Street that morning.

This photograph appeared in the Winston-Salem Journal on Monday, December 7, 1959

From there on, the success of the Boots was assured. In the spring of 1960, the second edition of the Boots elected Anne Davis as chief and Patricia Walker as assistant chief and choreographer. As was standard practice at RJRHS, the students were tasked with running their own organizations. There were official faculty sponsors and sometimes outside advisers, but the students made the final decisions…every new routine was designed by the Boots’ choreographer and her helpers, which was the key to a very long running success.

Fall, 1960

In 1962, Bob Mayer left Reynolds to become supervisor of music for the local school system. After retirement in 1969, he taught college classes and helped establish a number of bands and orchestras, including one at Wilkes Community College, and locally, the Society Swing Band and the Wachovia Community Symphony Orchestra.

The 1962/63 Boots work out at Hanes Park

But he never quite escaped the orbit of Reynolds High School. He remained close to the Boots for many years. And when the charge began to renovate the high school auditorium, he was one of the leaders of that successful effort. He died in 2005 at 88.

1963-64 Boots practice at Hanes Park

 

1963-64 chief and co-coreographers

The Boots would return to the nation’s capitol for another Redskins game. A few years later, they would travel to Toronto for an international festival. For decades, they have been spreading the word far and wide that Winston-Salem and R.J. Reynolds High School are a cut above the others. In 2019, the Boots will celebrate their 60th anniversary.

1964-65 Boots practice at the amphitheater behind the auditorium…and perform on the field at Bowman Gray Stadium…

1959

The Dixie Debs

The Dixie Debs, a sixty strong dance team, was formed in 1962 at the James A. Gray High School. That year, on September 29, they did a joint performance with the Dancing Boots at halftime of the Piedmont Bowl game at Bowman Gray Stadium between Wake Forest and Maryland. The first picture here, showing the Boots performing and the Debs waiting their turn, ran on the front page of the Winston-Salem Journal that Sunday. The joint performance ran so long that Wake Forest was assessed a penalty to open the second half for delay of game. When Gray High closed in 1965, the Debs moved to Parkland High School, where they continue to operate, without the “Dixie” part of their name.

The Rockettes

Missouri Rockets, 1925

Russell Markert established a revolutionary new precision dance team, the Missouri Rockets, in St. Louis in 1925. In 1928 they traveled to New York to appear in the Broadway musical “Rain or Shine”. There, theater impresario “Roxy” Rothafel persuaded Markert to remain in the city and produce a bigger and better dance line. On December 27, 1932, Markert’s “Roxyettes” debuted at the brand new Radio City Music Hall. The box office received over 100,000 ticket requests, but the Hall, the world’s largest, only seated 6,240, so 94,000 potential attendees were disappointed. By 1934, Markert’s Roxyettes had officially become the “Radio City Music Hall Rockettes”.

Being a Rockette, which required total fitness, durability, athleticism and skills in tap, modern, jazz and ballet, was probably the most demanding job in America. First was getting in. There were only 36 spots open on the first line. Compare that to the number of openings in professional sports. Then there was staying in, because there was always some young new hotshot gunning for your job. The Rockettes put on up to five performances daily, six days a week. And there were daily workouts and practices for which they were not paid. To accommodate their exhausting schedule, there was a 26 bed dormitory at Rockefeller Center, with its own cafeteria, recreation area, tailor shop and medical staff.

The Rockettes would become the most famous dance line in history. But they were much more than just dancers. They set the standards for all dance lines that came after them. In the 1960s, they went on strike, leading the battle for better pay and working conditions for all dancers in New York City. And later, when the Rockefeller heirs announced plans to demolish Radio City Music Hall for other development, it was the Rockettes who led the charge to have the hall declared a historic monument, thus saving it from the wrecking ball.

A few Forsyth County Public Library staff members stopped by our reunion! We were happy to be shown their high school student and staff selves! We hope that everyone who came by enjoyed the yearbooks and will come by again when we have another reunion.

Can you guess who they are?

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We are actively collecting high school yearbooks. See the index of yearbooks that we have in our collection. If you have one of our missing years and would like to donate please bring it by our North Carolina Collection on the second floor of the Central Library or call us at 336-703-3070.

We are in need of many high school yearbooks from Forsyth County, except for R.J. Reynolds High School. We’re not hating, promise! We just have most of the years that the Black and Gold was published.

We would love to have yearbooks from the Big Four high schools: Anderson, Atkins, Paisley, and Carver. We would also love yearbooks from Mineral Springs, Columbian Heights, Old Town, North Forsyth, East Forsyth, Parkland, West Forsyth, Walkertown, Mount Tabor, Salem Academy, Forsyth Country Day, and any other Forsyth County high school.

You might wonder why we offer yearbooks in our collection. Visitors to our collection have found parents, siblings, aunts/uncles, and friends in our yearbook collection. These little gems are a great resource for family genealogy, sports scores, and time capsules of local history. Many offer a look at clothing and hairstyles of the era as well as vernacular and pop culture.