Three Towns, Three Talks, Two Days
My schedule is often one of two extremes.
When I am totally engrossed in a writing project, I might go three days without even getting into our car or pickup. No restaurants, no trips to Home Depot, no running errands, no fun; just staring at the computer screen, flipping through reference books, and wearing down the only two fingers I have that know how to type.
Or then it can be like last week, when I spent most of Monday with a Hendersonville book club, being social, having lunch with them, and talking about my latest book “Tales of the Grove Park Inn.” That same night I drove into Asheville to listen to someone else give a talk atop the 13-story, circa 1924 Battery Park Hotel. The topic was early Asheville hotels, and included the downtown Battery Park Hotel, which had also been built by Edwin W. Grove and contained a rooftop pavilion and his penthouse suite, where he died (somewhat suspiciously) in 1927. The building has since been converted into private residences, so the opportunity to stand on the open rooftop pavilion and peer over downtown and out beyond the Great Smokey Mountains and into Tennessee was not one to be missed.
On Tuesday I again had to put on a pair of shoes, as I drove to Tryon, N.C., to have lunch and give a talk before another group of book and history lovers. (See the common thread here? Food.) As was the case the previous day, the group was delightful and came loaded with questions about some of the famous guests at the Grove Park Inn: Scott and Zelda, F.D. R. and Eleanor (a total of four trips, but never came together), Ike and Mamie, the Hoover’s and the Coolidge’s, plus an assortment of celebrities, tramps, and scoundrels, just to keep it all interesting for the past hundred years.
Tryon, as you may recall from an earlier column, attracted numerous artists and artisans in the early years of the 20th century, including several notables from the Arts and Crafts movement, as well as a trio of First Ladies. Plus their fair share of tramps and scoundrels, such as Nora and Lefty Flynn, who entertained F. Scott Fitzgerald for a month in Tryon in 1935, and again for nearly four months in 1937, while he was drying out in preparation for moving to Hollywood in a failed attempt to revive his lagging career writing movie scripts.
But those days of being social always leave me itching to get back to my computer, back to my characters, both factual and fictional, who I have left dangling in some awkward situation, awaiting a possible reprieve. And, of course, back to plans for the 27th National Arts and Crafts Conference at the Grove Park Inn on February 21-23.
In spite of all of the advances in technology — when we started 27 years ago there were no emails, no websites, no internet, and speakers came with 35mm slides — we continue to mail out thousands of brochures containing the three-day agenda. That happened again last week, so if you did not get one, just send me an email and we will take care of that.
But, of course, you can get the same information and much, much more at www.Arts-CraftsConference.com, plus lots of pictures from previous conferences. And if you have never attended, be sure to check out the Slide Show, which in two minutes can do a much better job of describing in pictures what happens at the Grove Park Inn when we gather there than I could in an entire book.
And we are about to start filling in topics and leaders for our daily Small Group Discussions, so if you have a suggestion, send it now, as we have to work months ahead in order to get everything in the 88-page Conference Catalog which will be awaiting you at the registration desk in February.
Have a great week!
Top: The 1924 Battery Park Hotel in Asheville.
Middle: My friend Jim Wilson (Chatsworth Antiques in Asheville) atop the hotel.