First Tales of Tryon of 2024 sees record turnout

Published 1:30 pm Monday, March 18, 2024

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TRYON—A record crowd of over 200 packed the Holy Cross Episcopal Parish Hall on February 29 for the 2024 kick-off of the Tryon History Museum’s Tales of Tryon series.  

The throng’s enthusiasm was rewarded with a panel discussion on “That Remarkable Couple, Gladys and Seth Vining Sr. and the World’s Smallest Daily Newspaper.”

The discussion, moderated by local historian Mike McCue, featured four panelists with a direct connection to The Tryon Daily Bulletin, founded by the Vinings in 1928. Hub Arledge is the son of Elbert Arledge, who went to work at the newspaper as a 17-year-old printer in 1930. Local raconteur Garland Goodwin, who still, in his 94th year, writes a bi-monthly column for the paper, joined the Vinings’ employ at age 10 in 1940. Grandsons Jim and John Vining both worked for the paper at times in their youth.

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The Vining brothers began the discussion with firsthand reflections on their grandparents.  Grandmother Gladys (1899-1999), a Polk County native, was a mostly silent partner who ran the office while Grandfather Seth (1899-1987) edited the paper. The national newspaper Grit, however, in a 1945 article gave her the credit she doubtless deserved, referring to her as co-editor. Unusual for a woman of her generation, she was a college graduate, an athlete (playing golf into her nineties), and a success in business. Seth was an Alabama native. He and Gladys met at Piedmont College in Demorest, Georgia, and were married in 1923.

Hub Arledge recalled that the Daily Bulletin office was always a busy place in the 1940s and ‘50s and that it was rare to see either of the Vinings not working. He added, matter-of-factly, that he viewed Seth Vining as the most important person who ever lived in Tryon.

Mike McCue built on this by emphasizing that “Pop” Vining set a tone for the newspaper that has long survived him. Local news—and that alone—was one hallmark. If a national article was reprinted, it invariably had a Tryon connection. Affording privacy to Tryon’s many famous visitors and part-time residents was another point of difference. Vining once told an out-of-town reporter who called that he had no idea how to reach Mrs. Calvin Coolidge—a frequent visitor— “so well do the mountaineers protect their friends.”

A 1940 “Curb Reporter” feature written by Seth Sr. mixes news of the highly touted with that of the largely unsung. After telling of a Florida excursion by former mayor and state Senator F.P. Bacon, he gives a pat on the back to a woman’s society for its Finnish relief work. Mundane happenings were reported along with the more significant, but there was none of the “society news” often found in local papers.

Jim Vining told how his job as a teenager in the 1960s included collecting news about Tryon from other newspapers—reciprocal subscriptions were a stock-in-trade. He also recalled his grandfather’s “filing system,” a highly cluttered desk from which he could always seem to retrieve exactly what he needed.

Garland Goodwin elaborated that Mr. Vining had two strings protruding from beneath the clutter.  The left string was attached to a pencil that could be quickly retrieved for taking notes from a phone conversation; the right string was attached to scissors for quick clipping of articles.

A moment of levity was occasioned by John Vining’s answer to a question from the audience, seeking an example of humor in the paper. John recalled that his grandfather never edited for grammar or syntax in want ads—they were run strictly as submitted and that he often found them amusing. A favorite example dealt with a dog in need of a new home: “Free dog. Will eat anything. Loves children.”  The crowd disbursed amidst peals of laughter.

The next stop on the Tales of Tryon tour is Holy Cross on May 9. Tryon resident Lili Corbus, professor emerita of art history at UNC-Charlotte, will talk about “Women Photographers in Tryon, 1900-1950.”


Submitted by Dick Callaway