Tales of Tryon to feature “The Vinings and the History of the Tryon Daily Bulletin”

Published 12:03 pm Friday, February 23, 2024

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By Doug Clark


TRYON—A good small-town newspaper editor can use his or her position to both reflect and set the values of the community. Tryon was fortunate to have Seth Vining Sr., who spoke with remarkable moral clarity from the pages of the Tryon Daily Bulletin, creating a legacy that lives on to this day.

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Seth and Gladys Vining, who founded the TDB in 1928, are the subject of the next “Tales of Tryon” program, presented by the Tryon History Museum at 5 p.m. on February 29 at the Holy Cross Episcopal Church Parish Hall. Their grandsons, John and Jim Vining, will participate in a panel discussion with Hub Arledge and Garland Goodwin. Michael McCue will moderate. 

There is no cost to attend the program, which is sponsored by a grant from the Polk County Community Foundation.

While doing research for Tryon Presbyterian Church’s Centennial in 2022, an item published in the Bulletin on March 17, 1936, struck me as incredibly uncommon for its time. It was a letter to the editor written by a retired Army officer, Major Bernard Sharp. He complained about “mistreatment of negroes on the local streets.”

Sharp, a native of Tennessee, noted that “Northern visitors, here on account of the ‘beautiful scenery and delightful climate,’ are both interested and indignant, and are inclined to view the incidents as evidence of general Southern lawlessness and persecution of the colored people. If recurrences of abuse are not prevented there will soon be a clash that will give Tryon some undesirable publicity.”

For anyone to criticize the evil of racial discrimination in a local newspaper was unusual – and in most places, such a letter would have been rejected by an editor who would have feared retribution or disagreed. Vining not only published the letter, he placed it at the top of the front page, where no one would miss it. To my mind, that is an endorsement of its message.

Vining paid his readers the compliment of providing them with lively, intelligent commentary about events of the day and news from his many correspondents throughout the country or overseas. His own observations, presented in his “Curb Reporter” columns, remain a delight to read.

This “Tales of Tryon” program is an important way to keep alive the legacy of Seth and Gladys Vining, who helped shape the values that still define Tryon today.