Tag Archives: Travel

Farm To Feet Socks – Textile Rebound

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Mt. Airy, NC, is the home of a unique company called Nester Hosiery.  Last Christmas, my daughter in law, Kim, gave me two pair of socks called Farm To Feet, and on the eye catching sock holder was a person’s picture, name and a little bio about what they did at the plant and their back ground.  This perked my interest, and reading on, I discovered the socks were manufactured in Mt. Airy and used all USA materials.  From the merino wool farmers to the other materials, it all came from the United State of America.

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I immediately fell in love with the socks, their unbelievable comfort,and they even came with a lifetime guarantee.  After checking out the Farm To Feet web site I discovered it had a discount store very close to the plant.  I just had to go to Mt. Airy and check out this company.  I thought textiles died in our state years ago, yet here was a thriving company.  How come, I wondered?  There must be a fascinating story behind their success, so this summer my wife and I drove to Mt. Airy with the expectation of getting a plant tour and checking out the discount store.  The store was fun with bins of “seconds” at about half price.  We could not see defects on any of the socks, but the company is so quality conscious, that any minute flaw got sent to the seconds bin.  When I was ready to check out, Libby, the very personable and do-it-all lady who runs the store, asked if I was a military veteran and I said “yes” and showed her my identification.  She thanked me for my service and said “all veterans get a 50% discount”.  I thought she said 15% discount and I asked her to repeat what she said, “All veterans get a 50% discount”.  With this unbelievable discount I went back and picked out more socks! When we got all the socks for us and gifts for others, I asked her if the plant did tours, and she said. “Yes” and called the plant.  Returning she said, “The person giving the tours was gone to some sort of “sock convention”, (my interpretation) and was not available.  That led to our second trip to Mt. Airy, Tuesday, December 17, with a tour appointment and an understanding I would write a blog on the Farm To Feet story

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The tour given by Frankie Vernon (Human Resource Manager) surpassed all my expectations of a company that has resurrected a part of the textile business and is doing it with highly skilled local labor, and only USA materials. Another interesting fact is they consider themselves a “green” company, by utilizing as little resources and energy as possible to manufacture socks.

A few facts about Nester Hosiery:  The Company was founded by Marty Nester in 1993 and its current president and CEO is his nephew, Kelly Nester. Both Marty and Kelly gainedextensive experience in the hosiery business, coming from another similar company.  The Nesters located their first plant in Dobson, NC, not too far from Mt. Airy.  It wasn’t long before they outgrew that facility and moved to Mt. Airy.  The Farm To Feet logo is their brand and has been highly successful.  The socks cost a little more than their competitor’s socks, but both quality and American made have won a considerable following.

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The plant now produces 2000 dozen pairs per day, which includes some other name brand socks.  This is all done by a work force of only 181 employees including the owner. The knitting process runs 24 hours a day Monday through Friday.  It is fascinating to see how machines, programmed by computer experts, and tended by highly skilled employees, make such beautifully designed socks.

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The Farm To Feet brand supports over 2000 workers in the US, all the way from the sheep farmer, spandex manufacturer, thread makers, knitters and eventually the packaging and shipping department.

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Its location, 1546 Carter St., Mount Airy, NC, and only about a two and a half  hours’ drive from the Raleigh/Cary area, make a day trip well worth the time.  And of course, you can also take in the many sights and sounds of “Mayberry”, made famous by The Andy Griffiths TV show and Mayberry R.F.D.

By Larry Kingsley,

OLLI Member, OLLI Writers Group, Member of OLLI Voices Editorial Team

 

 

 

 

 

 

LISABONA

Lisabona was Lisbon’s name in the sixteenth century. Lisabona came from Olisipo, the name the Romans had given the city more than a thousand years before – Municipium Cives Romanorum Felicitas Julia Olisipo. In the 1500s, amid the fever of the discovery of new maritime routes to countries where the commerce of spices and other riches originated, and driven by the hope of fortunes and fame to be had on those endeavors, the whole world converged into Lisabona. The crowds in the city center had Bretons, Catalans, Normans, Castilians, Genovese, Dutch, Venetian, Africans and, of course, Portuguese. Some came to spy, trying to get the secrets of maritime navigation the Portuguese had developed, others to try their fortune. The chroniclers of those days describe Lisabona as a cosmopolitan city, bustling with people, business and opportunities, the place to be within Europe.

Lisabona

My wife Amy and I just came back from a long vacation in Lisboa, as we Portuguese have been calling Lisbon for centuries. When we walked downtown, for a moment we got the feeling we had traveled back in time to the 1500s. We heard English, French, Italian, Russian, Chinese, and Romanian and hardly any Portuguese. Nowadays these foreigners do not look for fortune or fame; they respond to the slogan Lisbon is the place to be this year. They follow the sun, they come to taste food specialties and wine vintages, to explore beautiful views, historical sites and monuments. They come looking for fun and leave their Pounds, Euros, Yuan, Rubles and Dollars in Portugal. The Portuguese are having a bonanza brought by tourism (more than 20 million people last year), albeit with possible downfalls down the road.

Waterside

Amy and I joined the tourist crowds in Lisbon and throughout Portugal, visited many of the fantastic views and historical monuments, ate in many, many restaurants, mainly fish and seafood, trekked up the mountains, traveled down south to Algarve and basked on the beaches, absorbing the warm sun that crossed the cerulean blue sky, like none on earth. We visited museums and it seems now in Lisbon there is a museum for anything imaginable, some better than others. We visited a millenary church and monastery in Alcobaça with its cloisters, and some obscene golden altars, with beautiful art that centuries of foreign invasions, fires and earthquakes could not obliterate. In Lisbon the aqueduct from 1744 and its distribution water pools were the highlight of one of our days; I was born and raised in Lisbon but had never visited it. We traveled north to Coimbra’s University, one of the oldest in Europe, with its magnificent ancient library, then traveled to Nazaré’s promontory over the ocean, where the tallest wave in the world (78 Ft.) challenges ‘”crazy” surfers every year, and close to home we visited Cabo da Roca one more time, the most western point of continental Europe.

Thus, like all the other tourists, we joyfully, gladly and happily scattered our Dollars from the north to the south of Portugal.

Lisbon from water

Henrique Gomes, OLLI Member, OLLI Writers Group Coordinator

President George H.W. Bush: Quick with a Quip!

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George H.W. Bush visited Denver briefly in 1980 when he was running against Ronald Reagan for the Republican presidential nomination. I was then a political reporter.  His staff told me he wouldn’t have time for a conventional interview, but an unconventional one was possible.

So I went to what was then Stapleton Airport to be picked up by a BMW, driven by the son of Michigan’s GOP governor. Mr. Bush was already in the back seat, where I joined him. We were driven around while I asked him a lot of questions, mostly about the many international crises that had developed around the globe. He was impressive: This former C.I.A. chief had clear-eyed, well-informed answers to all my questions. On both international and domestic issues, he was running as a pragmatic alternative to Reagan, deriding “voodoo economics” and other aspects of Reagan’s campaign. (He did not tell me that he had “the Big Mo,” his famous term for momentum.)

The next step was to attend a private reception that evening for Mr. Bush, where he was expected to speak. I drove to a very upscale neighborhood and entered a mansion, where I was led to a handsomely landscaped courtyard. A stage had been constructed, with velvet curtains on both sides. I was given a chair behind one curtain, and I noticed one of Mr. Bush’s senior advisers behind the other one.  When Mr. Bush came onto the stage, he looked over the glittering members of Denver’s high society, clinked the ice in his glass, and said, “Gee, it’s great to be back with the grass roots!”

The commemoration of Mr. Bush’s passing also reminded me of something I learned when I was working in Washington. A Democratic friend who had connections with Bill and Hillary Clinton told me that the two couples treated the White House staff very differently. The Bushes had always lived lives of privilege, and were accustomed to servants in their homes. So they quickly got to know those in the White House, treating them “like family,” one of them told my friend. But the Clintons came from much humbler roots and weren’t used to having “strangers” around them at all hours. They made no attempt to be friendly. My friend said that his White House contact conceded that they talked about the Bushes among themselves, and the Clintons may have suspected that the staff gossiped about them. This liberal hopes that the relationship changed as the years went on.

 ~Barbara Haddad Ryan

(OLLI Member and  OLLI Voices Team)

 

Minor Amends

Corolla wild horsesOur guide’s name was Winston. I remember him as craggy, angular, with weathered skin and wearing a floppy straw hat over pony-tailed hair. His lanky body slipped easily behind the wheel of the open-sided red Jeep and off we went in search of wild horses, Winston and four women enjoying a week-long vacation on the Outer Banks.

We got more than anticipated in both time and attention. Winston drove slowly. He answered our questions without seeming bored by them. He found several wild horses for us to photograph grazing near the few houses scattered at the north end of the island. He told us about the people who lived in this far-flung place with no access roads other than the beach, how they and horses sought isolation but were being encroached upon by civilization. How one wild horse had ventured inside a Harris Teeter in the newest shopping strip. We wondered if we should feel guilty for being here, but Winston wouldn’t go that far. After all, without the likes of us, he’d have no job.

FulgariteBesides wild horses, Winston took time to find lightning-struck sand called fulgurites to show us. He picked up the clump of fused sand and we passed it around, turning it over in our hands, then let Winston put it back where he’d found it. I was humbled anew by Mother Nature’s power and my limited awareness of the world around me.

When we finally returned to the excursion company’s parking lot, we expressed gratitude to Winston and said farewell. Only as we pulled purses from our car’s trunk did it occur to us that a tip might be in order. Before we could get our heads together about how much and who had the right amount, Winston had disappeared. We drove back to the rental house sensing a small cloud darkening our enjoyment of the day.

A year passed. We returned to Duck and the same rental house. We recalled our dune exploration and remembered Winston and his kind quirkiness. We remembered not tipping him and felt guilty all over again. We called the excursion company and learned that Winston still worked there, that he was out but should be back in an hour or so. Did we want to leave a message? No, we did not.

Tip

Four of us drove north and hung out on the office porch and watched for Winston’s Jeep. When he arrived, we waited near-by while he said goodbye to the current group. Then we pounced, all four of us a-jabber about being there a year ago, not tipping him, feeling guilty, and now coming back with our belated offering. Winston looked bewildered, but eventually grasped what we were saying. He gave no indication that he remembered us, pushed his straw hat back, and accepted the money with a smile.

We drove away in a happy fog of atonement knowing that life doesn’t always give us an opportunity to right a wrong. This time we were lucky.

Lynne Sparrow

OLLI Member

Take Me Away, OLLI!

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We were in our seats and waiting for “takeoff,” but this was different: So many of the “passengers” seemed to know one another! In fact, I had seen a friend at the doorway. We had chosen seats next to each other and were catching up.

A studious looking man came around the seats and stepped up to the podium. No, this was not a limited-space airliner, but an auditorium in the McKimmon Center of NC State University. For just ten dollars, I was about to “travel” overseas, and hear fascinating stories and unparalleled information about the archeology of Petra, the anthropological UNESCO World Heritage Site, a place most likely created in the fourth century BC. With the aid of photographic technology, I would see pieces of human existence from the settlement that took place at Petra, and hear a lead instructor of the dig tells us the Petra story!

This fall, OLLI members can choose to be “taken” across the Atlantic twice, once to Turkey to experience a bit of the life of a Phrygian during the time of King Midas, and another to the Johannesburg area of South Africa where scientists have discovered many very, very old human fossils with a link to the discovery of a previously unfound species of human ancestry. Imagine!

This armchair travel is a privilege of membership in the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at North Carolina State University. Great friendships and added social life are the desirable and free extra.

The overseas travel study trips offered by OLLI are not only by proxy, however! In past years, study trips have included going to Costa Rica, Cuba, and last year, Spain. In spring 2017, OLLI will offer travel to Croatia and the Adriatic Coast, with an itinerary to rival any world travelers’ plans.

Study trips and lectures also transport us to sites within the US, North Carolina, and here in Raleigh. Some trips come about in coordination with a course which has taken place that year, through the instructor of a course, or in response to a local event or media article. Stimulation abounds throughout any trip, and all of them come with friends and unbeatable long-lasting memories.

Take me away, OLLI!

Phoebe Johnston – OLLI Member