Back to the future: Where would you take historical figures in 2019?

Photo by Thomas Calder

If you could grab a drink or a bite to eat in 2019 with a local historical figure, who would it be, and where would you take that person? We posed these questions to Katherine Cutshall, specialist of the North Carolina Room at Pack Memorial Library. Her top five list follows.

1. Lillian Exum Clement Stafford, suffragette and North Carolina’s first female legislator (see “Asheville Archives: Lillian Exum Clement takes her seat in the House, 1921,” Xpress, March 7)

I’ve always admired Exum and thought we could chat like a couple of old friends. I would want to have her along for a no-frills night out and get her caught up on the state of womankind. A pizza dinner at Asheville Brewing, then to Banks Ave. for libations!

2. Leah Arcouet Chiles, artist, businesswoman, mayor of Kenilworth

Jargon seems like the place to go with this Jazz Age artist and businesswoman. The atmosphere, especially on a late weekend night, reminds me of her photography aesthetic: a little mysterious, but obviously fun.

3. Dr. Esperanza Weizenblatt, civic leader, outdoor enthusiast, optometrist and philanthropist (see “Asheville Archives: The quit contributions of Dr. Esperanza Weizenblatt,” Xpress, Oct. 14)

A member of the Carolina Mountain Club, Weizenblatt loved the outdoors as much as she enjoyed contributing to arts and humanities organizations. I think a dinner at the supercreative Forestry Camp would be her style.

4. E.W. Pearson, civic leader, businessman, founder of the Burton Street Neighborhood (see “Asheville Archives: Royal Giants take the field, 1916,” Xpress, Feb. 26)

Pearson was the founder of Asheville’s first Negro League Baseball team. If I had the chance to take him out, I would head to McCormick Field for a deep-fried Moon Pie from the concession stand.

5. Francesca Guastavino, wife of famed architect Rafael Guastavino

Mrs. Guastavino immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico and was known to have some unique personality traits. According to oral histories, she was a real spitfire. A trip to Mountain Madre for a flight of tequila would only serve to highlight her famed personality.


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About Thomas Calder
Thomas Calder received his MFA in Fiction from the University of Houston's Creative Writing Program. His writing has appeared in Gulf Coast, the Miracle Monocle, Juked and elsewhere. His debut novel, The Wind Under the Door, is now available.

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