Discover more from North Carolina Rabbit Hole
What Fools These Mortals Be!
Today's edition is a three-parter that includes signs at the state fair, incredible yearbook pictures, and an update on the guy who sued Texas Pete because he thought it was made in Texas.
North Carolina Rabbit Hole At The Fair!
You might be sick of hearing me talk about this, but since the North Carolina Fair opens today, I gotta tell you about this one more time.
Back in April, I got an email from some folks at the fair. They’ve had a scavenger hunt for kids for some time now, and they asked me if I could help launch one for adults.
And lo, it came to be:
Here’s how this works: There are signs all around the fairgrounds. Visit each one, match up the highlighted letters to the answer grid at the bottom, solve the puzzle, and then claim your prize. That’s it. If you want a printable version of this sheet, or want to see some of the scavenger hunts for kids at the fair, you can find them all here.
I didn’t grow up going to the fair (Here’s my fairly regular disclosure that I’m an Ohioan by birth). I finally got there in 2015, when Our State dispatched me to eat a bunch of stuff. Here’s how that went.
I’d like to think it was my stellar coverage of deep fried peanut butter pickles (ew) that ultimately made this happen but no: According to the fair folks, it was this story about Richard Petty autographing a live duck at the 1991 state fair that pushed them over the edge. Now, look, you may be saying to yourself: How does one sign a living bird? Who, uh, procured this bird? How does something like this happen? Folks, I have won actual, real awards for my investigative journalism. Believe when I tell you: I’m 99% sure I figured this out.
Anyhow, the fair folks have placed one of the Rabbit Hole scavenger hunt signs at the site of the alleged duck signing. If you see it, snap a picture, and wallow in the glory of life’s rich pageant.
The Most Credulous Man In America Says His Friends Are Being Harassed
Update time! Last October, I brought you the story of the man who filed a class action lawsuit against Texas Pete hot sauce because he thought it was made in Texas. Spoiler alert—it’s actually made in Winston-Salem, and always has been. Well last week, that guy up and dropped the suit, about a year after he filed it. He also, uh, revealed a little bit about himself for the first time. Here’s what he said in a court filing, via Justyn Melrose of WGHP-TV, who has been all over this story for a year now:
“I do not want my friends or their family to be harassed simply because I am a Plaintiff in this case,” [Philip] White said. “I am also aware that Defendant is making defamatory statements about me and my character in public documents filed in this case with no basis and I wish for that stop.”
One of the biggest questions I’ve had all along about this case is: Who, exactly, is this Phillip White guy? Turns out, he’s 28, lives in Los Angeles, and his former college roommate is married to an attorney who works at Clarkson Law Firm in Malibu, California. That’s the firm that filed the class action suit against Texas Pete on behalf of White.
If that seems a little sketchy to you, you’re not the only one. In 2021, White filed a class action lawsuit against Kroger. At issue: White had gone to the grocery store and bought sunscreen that billed itself as “Reef Friendly.” The suit said chemicals in the sunscreen actually posed a threat to coral. In response, Kroger’s attorneys said that “Mr. White admitted, in deposition, that he was recruited to serve as a plaintiff for The Clarkson Firm by his ‘best friend,’ Danny O’Brien, who now was married to Lauren Anderson, a lawyer at Clarkson.” Say, that’s illegal!
White’s attorneys said that Kroger had misrepresented what White said in his deposition. But in April of this year, days before O’Brien was set to testify and provide records of his communications, White and Clarkson dropped the lawsuit. O’Brien never had to testify. Kroger asked a judge for permission to keep investigating that connection, and to make White pay for the company’s legal fees. The judge said no to both. For its part, Clarkson said it dropped the lawsuit because it realized it wouldn’t be able to bring in enough money.
Fast forward to last month. Lawyers for T.W. Garner, the company that makes Texas Pete, brought all of this White and O’Brien stuff up again, and once again subpoenaed O’Brien and his dad. And once again, White and Clarkson dropped the suit. In response, White said he’d done nothing illegal, and that he was tired of seeing his friends harassed (He said that a private investigator hired by Garner followed Anderson from her law office to her home). Either way, the suit was dismissed without prejudice, meaning it could be refiled. Clarkson, in a filing, said it could potentially move forward with a new plaintiff.
Clarkson is still chugging along on other, similar cases. It’s representing two clients who sued the Italy-based company that makes Barilla pasta, saying that the name and packaging are misleading, since the pasta itself is made in the United States. It’s also suing Google and OpenAI “to temporarily pause commercial use of all AI products and allow for the coordination of a responsible deployment of this powerful technology.”
As for White, he hasn’t lost or dropped every lawsuit he’s filed, however. He was part of a class action lawsuit that successfully settled with GlaxoSmithKline for $3 billion. In fact, here is a testimonial from White on Clarkson’s website:
And to think, we could have lived in a world where Texas Pete would have had to change its name to Carolina Steve or something.
Here Are Some Fantastic Old Yearbook Pictures
Last thing here. As part of research for another story, I came across some old yearbook photos from Meredith College in Raleigh. It’s been a women’s-only institution since it was founded in 1891, and it’s put out “Oak Leaves,” its yearbook, for more than a century. Some of the original 8-by-10 glass plate negatives ended up in the state archives, and the pictures from the 1916 yearbook are just fantastic.
For example, here are the members of the Roof Garden Club:
Here’s the tennis team, with the Governor’s Mansion in the background:
I don’t know exactly what’s happening here:
And finally, we have this:
There’s an accompanying poem entitled “Senseless Souls. What fools these mortals be!” which references each woman in the photo above, from left to right:
Louise, on love thou canst discourse, Thou art our poet fair. But come with thy ukulele, Let’s have music in the air. _____________________ There, dear little baby Shaw, For our sake please don’t squall. Raise up your head and wipe your eyes; You’ll soon be able to crawl. _____________________ Oh, Minnie dear, listen here— You think you’re making a hit; But the whole truth of the matter is You’re really having a fit. _____________________ Oh, Betty stop your talking, For you know upon my word Little girls are made to be seen And not only to be heard. _____________________ And Helen Byrd, since thou canst not Get knowledge in thy bean, With nonsense wilt thou cram it From the latest magazine. _____________________ Nancy, aren’t you scared To always cram and cram? Don’t you know when you get enough Put up that jar of jam! _____________________ Roselle, my dear, you will be able If ever you get a man, To make good things for him Inside your old tin pan. _____________________ French, dost thou not know That is very bum For you in such company To chew your chewing gum?