Literary Lampoons Part II: Golf and Politics – Not Quite Death and Taxes, but Close

Special note: This blog post was written by Edward Reges, M.A. ‘16, East Carolina University Department of English, as part of a special series highlighting the Stuart Wright Collection.

Sometimes, the lives of authors can seem as distant to us as the hole on a long, hazardous par 5. One need only peer into a literary anthology to find oneself immersed in a strange world of antiquated terms, ideas, and even settings. Take John Updike’s renowned short story “A&P,” for example. In the story, a young man makes a rash decision to leave his job after his manager forces three young women, clad in only two-piece bathing suits, to leave the store. “What’s an A&P?” I recall a classmate of mine inquiring in a class discussion of our assigned readings. The question was not a literal one; we had all read the story and could draw from context what the A&P was. Rather, it was a commentary on how rapidly change occurs and how quickly our memories can glaze over what was once a staple of our predecessor’s culture. The short story, written just over 50 years ago, takes place in what was at the time one of the largest supermarket chains in the United States. Now the mere existence of a supermarket other than Wal-Mart, Target, or even K-Mart (which may be antiquated as you are reading this article) is the stock of a joke playing on our short-term view of existence. (For those seeking more information about A&P supermarkets, the company’s website has an interesting history section.)

Likewise, authors and poets of yesteryear seem accordingly distant from us. Creators of fiction such as John Updike seem to be of a different breed. A breed that survived and even thrived without all of the technology we now take for granted. These authors have an air of mythos: an air that a bit of digging in a literary archive, however, proves unwarranted.
Nestled away in the Stuart Wright Collection at Joyner Library are windows into the lives of these very human authors of yesteryear. While Updike is known for his writing prowess, he was not born a writer or a historical character; he was born a man. A man who, incidentally, once aspired to doodle for a living. Several original pen-and-ink drawings as well as Updike’s newspaper copies of published cartoons found their home in the collection of Stuart Wright, Updike’s friend and golfing companion. They are now available for view in the North Carolina Collections area on the third floor of Joyner Library.

Looking through these inked drawings, the difference between our predecessors and us seems to shrink. One of Updike’s cartoons references a troubling time in U.S. History. Following WWII, Germany was divided amongst the allies into East and West Germany. The nation’s capital, Berlin, located in Soviet occupied East Germany, was likewise divided. The situation grew tense when East Germany denied land access between West Germany and West Berlin. A decade later, President Eisenhower found himself in a rough situation when the Soviets demanded that western allied forces leave Berlin:

Updike, John. “The Rough.” Undated. Stuart Wright Collection. Stuart Wright Collection. J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, N.C.

Compare this to a modern political cartoon depicting President Obama sinking into the sand trap of world crisis:

Varvel, Gary. “Obama, golf, and world crisis.” Cartoon. Indystar. Gannett, 28 Aug. 2014. Web. 19 Sept. 2014

Varvel, Gary. “Obama, golf, and world crisis.” Cartoon. Indystar. Gannett, 28 Aug. 2014. Web. 19 Sept. 2014

As you can see, the pastime of golf serves as a bridge between the distant past and present, if not in reality then at least in political cartoons. As Updike used humor and a pastime to voice his concern about political affairs, so do those of us in modern society.
Updike’s love for golf proves to be an unexpectedly relevant part of ECU’s collection of his materials. This is evidenced in Stuart Wright’s personal copy of “Golf Dreams,” complete with a dedication to Wright from the author himself. Tucked away in the pages one finds a number of letters expressing Updike’s delight in playing the game and his companionship with Wright. Several scorecards record the friendship match by match.

Updike, John. Untitled Scorecard. Ludlow Addition to Stuart Wright Collection. Stuart Wright Collection. J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, N.C. 22 May 1987

As you can see, John Updike was not just some far away author creating literature to enjoy from a detached modern viewpoint. He was a man who could revel in a game of golf to the point of solidifying his appreciation of the contest on the scorecard: “what a match!” More cartoons, bridges to the present and past, and glimpses into Updike’s life can be located and requested by using the Special Collections Finding Aid to his papers.

Alumni Day 1968

Source:  University Archives Image Collection (UA55-01-9775)

Staff Person:  Arthur Carlson

Description:  This image from the University Archives features the layout of J.Y. Joyner Library on Alumni Day in 1968.  Joyner Library was dedicated on March 8, 1955 as part of that year’s Founder’s Day celebrations.  The growing student body forced campus administrators to add air conditioning and two additional floors in 1964. From 1994-1999, a third major renovation added the rounded tower and Sonic Plaza which make Joyner among the most recognizable buildings on campus.  Its namesake, James Yadkin Joyner, was a career educator and served as state Superintendent of Public Instruction from 1902-1919.  He was instrumental in the modernization of the North Carolina public school system.

Plan for 7′ 9 Pram

Source: Hagerty Company Collections (EC Manuscript Collection # 1084 Os1)

Staff Person: Ralph Scott

Description: The Douglas Fir Plywood Association founded in 1933 in Tacoma, Washington was one of many trade associations that that were set up following the National Recovery Act. The Association set standards for plywood manufacture and in 1938 became the holder of an industry wide trademark on plywood. Prior to that each manufacturer had their own brand logo. The new DFPA Construction Standard was accepted by the Farm Home Administration for interior and exterior use of FHA approved homes. In addition to developing industry-wide standards the DFPA also promoted consumer use of member plywood. One such promotion is shown here in a plan for a 7′ 9″ pram. Construction techniques for the pram as well as a bill of materials were supplied on this plan dated 1940. During World War II DFPA plywood was used in barracks, life-boats, and gliders. The Hagerty Company of Cohasset, MA constructed PT boats, skiffs, sailboats and dinghies from DFPA plywood.

Great American Cock, Male (Wild Turkey)

Source:  Rare QL674.A9 2006

Staff Person: Ralph Scott


Study for the Great American Cock, Male one of the major plates in the large elephant folio edition of Birds of America by John James Audubon (1785-1851), artist, and William Home Lizars (1788-1859), engraving done around 1826, in Lousiana. Watercolor on paper, 37 ­x 25 1/2 inches. This print is from the New-York Historical Society edition of Audubon’s fifty best watercolors from the original watercolors preparatory for John James Audubon’s Birds of America, Chicago, Oppenheimer editions, ca. 2006.

Der Bat Artist / Maurice Sendak RIP

Source: Stuart Wright Collection – Randall Jarrell Papers #1169-005.6.u

Staff Person: Jonathan Dembo


Poet Randall Jarrell collaborated on three children’s books with illustrator Maurice Sendak: Fly by Night (1976), The Animal Family (1965) and The Bat-Poet (1964). Of the three, The Bat-Poet has always been my favorite.  Shortly before publication of The Bat Poet, in 1964, Sendak sent this undated letter to Jarrell.  In place of a signature, Sendak signed his letter with a characteristically charming and tiny pen & ink cartoon of himself in the guise of “Der Bat Artist” flourishing his brush in hand (or foot) and about to create.  The miniature drawing perfectly captures the spirit of Jarrell’s poetic hero, who, like a real human child, tale is just so eager and sweet and shy and curious, yet manages all this without being too cloying. The small bat wants to know things, and then he wants to sing, and when that doesn’t work, he begins to make up poems, trying to express himself. He sets out to explore the day world, for example, and he gets a creative crush on the vain yet talented mockingbird. Little by little, he puts his observations into words.  When he received Sendak’s letter, Jarrell filed it carefully inside his copy of The Bat Poet, where it remained until Joyner Library acquired it in 2010.

This post is in honor of Maurice Sendak who died on 8 May 2012 in Danbury, Connecticut at age 83.

Rebel Prisoners being brought to Headquarters, Petersburg, 1865














Source: Frances W. Knowles Papers, #164, East Carolina Manuscript Collection

Staff Member: Ralph Scott


The Francis W. Knowles Papers consist of a diary scrapbook (1862-1865) written by Private Knowles while serving in Company B of the 36th Massachusetts Volunteers. The diary records the activities of Knowles, who was mainly a clerk, as he participated with the IX Corps at Fredericksburg (December, 1862), in the District of Indiana and Michigan (June-September, 1863), the Knoxville Campaign (November-December, 1863), the Wilderness campaign (May, 1864), the Spotsylvania Courthouse campaign (May, 1864), at Cold Harbor (June 3-4, 1864), and in the Petersburg campaign (June, 1864-April, 1865). This sketch from the Knowles scrapbook shows a long line of Confederate prisoners being led to a holding area at the headquarters of the 1st Division, 9th Corps Army of the Potomac on March 25th, 1865.

First Floor Plans of the Austin Building

Source: University Archives Architectural Collection, 55-08-0043 

Staff Person: Kacy Guill 

The Austin Building was constructed in 1908 and 1909 and served for many years as the main classroom building and library at East Carolina Teachers Training School.  The Austin Building also included the school’s administrative offices, including the president’s office, and an auditorium.  The building was demolished in 1968 to make way for the Jenkins Fine Art Center.

 The plan of the first floor of the Austin Building dates before 1914 when an east wing was added.  A west wing was added in 1922.

Wild Cat


 George Willcox McIver Papers Manuscript Collection #251)

George Willcox McIver was born on December 22, 1858, at Carthage, N.C., and died in 1947 at the age of eighty-nine. He was the son of Alexander McIver, a noted North Carolina educator, and Mary Ann Willcox. McIver was appointed to West Point in 1877 and graduated with the class of 1882. Upon graduation, he began a military career of forty years of active service including duty in the United States, Alaska, Cuba, France, and the Philippine Islands.

Before U.S. intervention in World War I, McIver was promoted to Brigadier General and took command of the 161st Brigade of the 81st (Wild Cat) Division which trained at Camp Jackson and Camp Sevier, South Carolina. This unit became incorporated into the American Expeditionary Force and participated in the Meuse-Argonne offensive. From 1919 until his retirement in 1922, McIver was stationed at Fort Pike, Arkansas, and Fort Slocum, New York.


Staff person: Ralph Scott

Wahl-Coates Training School Philosophy Chart

Source:  Walhl-Coates School Collection, East Carolina Manuscript Collection #6

Staff Person: Jonathan Dembo


The image below entitled “Relation of Training School to College” is an original design drawing for an illustration that appeared in The Training School issue of the East Carolina Teachers College Bulletin Vol. 30, No. 4 (August 1939). The design expressed the Wahl-Coates Training School’s philosophy of teacher education. The ink on cardboard design shows the Training School students and their pupils at the center of a radiating circle of educational levels including student teaching, child study and psychology courses, courses in education, and subject matter courses.

The Training School was an elementary school that provided student teaching opportunities for E.C.T.C. education students. It was located on the campus of East Carolina University until 1972, when the university and the city of Greenville built Wahl-Coates Public School on Fifth Street. Originally established as the Model School in 1922, the institution was renamed the Training School when it moved into a new building in 1928 (now the Messick Theatre Arts Center). In 1959, the school received its present name, Wahl-Coates, created in honor of Miss Dora Coates and Miss Frances Wahl, two former teachers and supervisors of the school during its formative years.

Wahl-Coates Training School Philosophy Chart

Wahl-Coates Training School Philosophy Chart

Source: Wahl-Coates School Collection, #6.1.a.5, Special Collections Department, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University.

American Indian Drawing by John White (Wife of an Indian werouwance or chief of Pomeiooc, and her daughter)

Source: The American drawings of John White, 1577-1590, with drawings of European and oriental subjects, Joyner Rare Oversize NC 242.W53 H8

Indian woman and young girl.

Indian woman and young girl.

Staff Person: Ralph Scott


The image shown below is a drawing ca. 1585 by the English adventurer John White. White joined the group of colonists who came to North Carolina under the patronage of Sir Walter Raleigh. His drawings are the only surviving sixteenth century watercolors of the people, places, animals, and things that he discovered in “Virginia”. After just staying in the New World about fourteen days, White returned to England. There is some evidence that his original sketches were further enhanced with coloring later in England. The original watercolors were purchased by the British Museum in the mid-nineteenth century and were reproduced here in 1964 in a joint publication by the Museum and the University of North Carolina Press. A number of White’s original watercolors are currently on loan from the British Museum and are on display from October 2007 until January 2008 in an exhibit in the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh, North Carolina along with the Joyner Library copy of Thomas Hariot’s A Brief and true relation of the new found land of Virginia, London, 1588.

In the drawing the girl shows her mother a small dressed doll she is holding along with her necklace which appears to be of copper or gold. Both of these items were rather expensive items for a child and it may be an attempt on the part of White to show the riches that the children of the New World owned. The mother displays facial, neck and arm tattoos as well as a decorated apron. She holds in her right arm several necklaces a gesture which Thomas Harriot noted was “particular” to this tribe of Native Americans. In her left hand she holds a gourd which was used to carry water. Kim Sloan, Curator of British Drawings and Watercolours at the British Museum, notes that by carrying this gourd White shows that even the wife of a chief was not free from some of the more routine tasks of the community. Other members of the community are depicted in various tasks in the other watercolors in the book.

Paul Hulton and David Beers Quinn,The American drawings of John White, 1577-1590, with drawings of European and oriental subjects.London and Chapel Hill, the Trustees of the British Museum and the University of North Carolina Press, 1964. 2 v., illus. (part colored), 40 cm. Joyner Rare Oversize NC 242.W53 H8 Purchase 1964 State Funds.

Click on the image to see an enlarged version.

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