Category Archives: Writing

NC authors, literature

Charlotte observer, book reviews, Susan Wells, A game called Salisbury, snubbed?

There is a rumor circulating that the Charlotte Observer has snubbed Susan Wells, penname Susan Barringer Wells. Susan has written a new book, “A Game Called Salisbury.” The book is about the murder of the Lyerly Family in 1906 and the subsequent  arrest and later lynching of 3 sharecroppers. The book is also about racial attitudes in the south and the nation. There is a Charlotte connection beyond any racial aspects. The 3 prisoners were brought to Charlotte for their safety before the trial was to begin. After their return to the Rowan County jail, an angry mob, stirred up by outsiders, lynched the 3 men.

Book signings have been taking place all over the state and the Greensboro Daily News, The Asheville Citizen and Salisbury Post have written articles about Susan and the book. With the involvement of the Mecklenburg County Jail in the story and Susan’s ancestral roots going back over 250 years all around Charlotte, one would think that sufficient to warrant coverage. Is there some other reason? Is this just a unjustified rumor? Are there still remnants of racism in Charlotte? Charlotte Observer, do you have a response?


A Game Called Salisbury, Susan Barringer Wells, review by Professor George Tex Wood

Professor George Tex Wood of Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College has provided a review of “A Game Called Salisbury”, the new book by Susan Barringer Wells:

“…Faulknerian in its revelations and observations of human nature, clearly spotlighting the question of real responsibility not just for active human evil, but also for spawning its activity. Those PEOPLE in the media (not some amorphous Media) are held to account. I doubt they’ll appreciate seeing that fact bared, so I doubt we’ll see many reviews of this thorough indictment. Wells shows us that lynchings were (and are) the tip of the iceburg, the cruel result of calculated manipulation of our base human natures and our cowardliness in not confronting evil when we see it, either now or then.
While this book lacks Twain’s humor, it rivals his incisiveness.”

Salisbury history club, innocents lynched?, A Game Called Salisbury, Susan Barringer Wells

Susan Barringer Wells has written a new book, “A Game Called Salisbury” about the murder of the Lyerly Family in Salisbury NC over a hundred years ago and the lynching of 3 suspects. The book explores the evidence and the racial undertones leading to the lynching of three black sharecroppers. Susan is a distant relative of the Lyerly family and Susan, as well as other Lyerly descendants, have disagreed about various aspects of the case and purported facts. There has been a lot of controversy about the alleged guilt of the three men who were hanged. Susan just commented that at a recent history club speech, a descendant of Deputy Pat Sloop, who attempted to defend the jail from the lynch mob,  remarked that her ancestor claimed that the guilty parties got away with murder. I would like to hear from this descendant or members of the history club.

Barnes & Noble, Greensboro NC, Susan Barringer Wells, book signing, A Game Called Salisbury

Susan Barringer Wells will have a book signing at Barnes & Noble bookstore in Friendly Shopping Center in Greensboro NC on Friday, February 15, 2008, at 7:00 PM. Susan will be signing copies of her new book, “A Game Called Salisbury.” The book is a non fictitional account of the Lyerly murders that occurred over a hundred years ago in Salisbury NC. The book also reveals racial issues that pervaded the south and nation at that time. Susan Barringer Wells was born in Salisbury NC, grew up in Greensboro and has been a premier artist at the Outer Banks for many years.

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New York Times, book reviews, A Game Called Salisbury, Susan Barringer Wells

Sales of Susan Barringer Wells’ new book, A Game Called Salisbury are progressing well. Susan was featured in the Greensboro Daily News, I believe on Sunday, February 10, 2008. Susan has a book signing coming up at Barnes & Noble in Friendly Shopping Center in Greensboro this week. I wonder if anyone from the New York Times book review department has caught wind of Susan’s new book. If anyone out there from The New York Times, Washington Post, or anyone else would care to comment on the book, let us know.

Greensboro NC, Tate Street, Old Sam

I wrote briefly about Old Sam, Laurence Sams, the “can man” of Tate Street in Greensboro NC recently. I found my copy of the article written by Jim Schlosser of the Greensboro News & Record and together with the article and my many memories of Old Sam, decided to write more about him. Thousands of students at UNCG and many others encountered Old Sam at Tate Street Coffee or hanging out along Tate Street or just driving by. Sams could be seen from early in the morning to early evening collecting cans and walking continuously in the area. Sams did not need a weight loss program. Many a morning I would arrive at Tate Street Coffee Shop and be seated at the coveted front window seat. Old Sam would often arrive by 7:30 and look up at me and almost always comment about the weather. He was a man of few words, but sometimes he would pause for a few seconds and converse. What impressed me about Old Sam was not the talk but how he kept on keeping on in all kinds of weather, from extreme heat to cold. His perseverance was inspiring. There are a lot of UNCG (University of North Carolina at Greensboro) graduates out there and I am sure there are many memories of Old Sam with you. However, most of you do not know the rest of the story.

Old Sam, Laurence Sams, grew up on a farm near Danville Virginia. He served in the army and worked for a lumber company. He collected cans when he had a job and continued when the company shut down. He attended First Baptist Church on Friendly Avenue and many Sunday mornings I would see him walking there. Sams lived simply and owned no car. Debra Craig bought the old house with apartments in 1985 that Sams lived in. She sold the house in 2000 but with the stipulation that he have a lifetime right to live there. She would bring him takeout meals from time to time. David Taylor, another fine human being, gave Sams a coat and kept an eye on him.

Old Sam was found dead by another good person, Bob Beerman, who helped him. Sams had the flu and Bob came to remind him of a doctor’s appointment. Beerman found Sams sprawled on the floor. Sams was 79. He had looked weaker in recent months.

Many lives were touched by this simple man. I can still remember that unpretentious grin. Many people thought that he was poor because he lived simply, but he left an estate. However, his biggest legacy is the lives he touched and the example of perseverance that he gave us. 

To learn more about Greensboro and  North Carolina Click here


Greensboro NC, Tate Street Coffee, UNCG, friends

My favorite coffee shop in the world, and one of my favorite places in the world, is Tate Street Coffee Shop, near UNCG, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Tate Street Coffee is a great coffee shop but it is more than that. It has a lot of the atmosphere of “Cheers”, where everybody knows your name. I have many friends and acquantances there and I cannot wait to visit when I come to Greensboro. I have many memories of great conversations and warm friendships. Here are some of my favorites:

Matt and Ann own and run the coffee shop and do a superb job. I consider them friends. Several years ago, when my dad was in declining health and then passed away, they were very supportive and even came to the funeral service. Just the other day, Matt helped a long time patron, an older gentleman with some home chores.

The older gentleman I just referred to, Larry, was active in journalism and activism. We don’t agree on everything, but we have a lot of common ground and respect each other. Just this morning, Larry told of his long time correspondence with Julie Harris, the famous actress. We discuss a wide variety of subjects and our favorite is the mathematical probabilities that go out the window with “chance encounters”.

One of my best friends Taylor (first name omitted) is a prince of a guy and very interesting. He has invented a clever new board game. Several years ago we were sitting at the coffee shop discussing a variety of topics when the subject of rocket propulsion came up. It turns out his uncle, Theodore Taylor, was a famous scientist that came out with the idea of tiny nuclear explosions to propel spacecraft.

Jimmy is one of the funniest and smartest people I know. He raises money for an organization that works closely with the school systems. He always puts a smile on my face and that is priceless. Jimmy also came to my dad’s funeral.

My friend Nas is originally from Syria. He played soccer in France years ago and gave me the perfect pass years ago allowing me to score my first goal (I played goalkeeper all the time). I just spoke to Nas, who by the way became a US citizen last year. He married a woman in Syria and is trying to get her over here. It is taking a long time and it is very complicated. I wish him well. He is a great guy.

My friend Mark is a special friend with a wide variety of talents. Through hard work, sacrifice and wise decisions, He has an incredible home on the desirable southside of downtown of Greensboro and owes very little on it. He is a great father and friend. He was at the gravesite for my dad’s funeral.

Old sam, as everybody called him, was a fixture around Tate Street and the coffee shop. His real name was Laurence Sams. He passed away last year at an advanced age. He walked all around the area collecting cans to recycle. I would see him early in the morning at the coffee shop and he would always comment on the weather. He was an inspiration to many people. In all kinds of weather he would continue walking and never complain, even though he was old. The story goes that years ago he lost his job when the company went out of business. He had a small living area in part of an old house near Tate Street. The house was being sold, but the lady selling it made a stipulation, that Old Sam would have lifetime residency rights. That is one of the reasons I love Greensboro and Tate Street Coffee. There are some wonderful people here.

There are many more stories and people to write about. Over the years I have increasingly felt the urge to write a book about people I have encountered and how they have touched my life. Perhaps this is the first step.

To learn more about Greensboro and  North Carolina Click here