Day Trip Idea: The Lost Playwrights of Western NC

While not strictly a travel destination, I felt that this interesting group deserved at least an honorable mention as a cause of travel and as an interesting way to spend a day. 

Why “The Lost Playwrights”? Ask founder, Ludy Wilkie of Shelby to hear the truth, but the tongue in cheek reason is that like a strange nomadic tribe of word processing scribes, they never seem to meet in the same place for very long. The meetings are largely in the Hendersonville, NC area but have also been held in Shelby, NC and may be in other cities in the future. 

This is largely because the LPs are a nonprofit group of talented poets, novelists and, of course, playwrights and because there are no membership dues or any fees required. Attendance is open to all interested in the theater and written arts and people are encouraged to bring along something to be read. 

In a world where the arts are largely managed and dominated by production companies and where bake sales, ticket sales, and other fund raisers take up more time than the arts themselves, this is a very refreshing occurrence. 

The usual meetings include readings of the original works of the various members, commentary on the arts in general, and a good deal of socializing and storytellings on plays past or current. 

It’s a great place to hear a ghost story, to listen to a comedy, to hear a tragedy, and to meet the authors and actors that bring these works to the stage. 

Most of the members have a good deal of street cred as well with several published authors and produced playwrights in the group as well as actors, poets, and a few preforming musicians. 

Membership is large (over 250 according to the mailing list although usual only between twenty or thirty are physically present at any one time) and I can’t name everyone here but some of the regulars include playwrights Ludy Wilkie, Judy Carson Sloan, Jane Jones, and Tom Bennett, published authors D. Elaine “Dante” Calderin and Ned Condini, polished actor Gordon Pendarvis, and actor/technician/writer couple, Clyde and Debbie Keller. 

Other notable members include author Frank Talley, television and movie writer Ken Fitch, singer Holly Hamrick, and producer/technician Sam Stone. 

The last meeting included playwright and former Shelby Mayor, Les Roark and a reading from his play “Go West Old Man” a comedy about a classic con job gone wrong when east coast meets cowboy and which includes a side order of romance. 

Also present was female novelist, Brendan Legrand who is working on the novel, Sunday’s Child. 

Produced playwright, Tom Bennett presented one act from one of his slightly perverse and highly enjoyable plays, A Peculiar Party, about a bachelor party for the geriatric set complete with 70+ year old cake dancers and malodorous bridegrooms. There was quite a bit of scattered laughter and applause. 

Published horror and cyberpunk author, and youngest member, D. Elaine Calderin offered up the first chapter of her latest novel “It’s in the Blood” and actor, technician and baritone Clyde Keller did a remarkable cold reading of it for the group. Several people described it as “descriptive”. The author said more critique would have been welcome but acknowledges as the self-proclaimed dark side of the group she may have offended some of the writer/actor audience with the material. She adds she needs a shirt that reads “ I am not my characters”. 

And audience tested and approved playwright Judy Carson Sloan gave the LPs a funny scene set in an unlikely place as mother and daughter discuss life and death and moth holes in heavenly vestments. This play was well received and critics noted that it “flowed well” and “really seemed both natural and funny.” Mrs. Sloan also requested further input. 

Ludy Wilkie had a treat for his fellow members in the form of a theatrical adaptation of O’Henry’s classic Ransom of Red Chief. This was a fun little skit that has actually been produced once already and which was first introduced by the characters actually being led onstage by Rutherford County NC Sheriff Damon Huskey. 

Also present at this meeting were R.S. Haulk; Gordon Pendarvis; Brian Legrand; Deborah Keller.and newcomers Bob Scoggins; Janet Sims; Gary Kulas; and Dot Roark, all of whom either helped with the readings or offered news of productions and members not currently present.

This was also the meeting that included the tour of the Roger’s Theater – see the last blog for more on that one.

All in all an entertaining evening and a worthwhile day trip for the aspiring writer or culture lover. So if you are in Western North Carolina and would be interested in learning more or wish to get on the mailing list, please contact Mr. Ludy Wilkie at


Roadside – Forest City, NC

An interesting day today. Whilst in search of a mechanic I found Linda Bedow – a fully qualified and licensed masseuse and bodywork therapist sitting in a floppy hat and a floppy camp chair selling massages and hot dogs at the side of the road.

Linda, a large-ish short haired lady with a great laugh and phenomenal hands who hangs out at the edge of the Dollar General parking lot across from the In and Out Car Inspections joint and the Montressori school in downtown Forest City.

I have no idea how much business she gets but it’s not enough. In the space of fifteen minutes I received the best chair massage I’ve ever had followed by one of the best hot dogs I’ve eaten, all for $12.00 USD.

That’s $10 for the massage and $2 for the dog.

The hot dog proved to be an organic all beef dog served on a warmed bun. I went with a chili cheese dog – add sauerkraut and relish with the usual condiments, but Linda also offered up slaw, jalapenos, and other dog toppers for the more discerning (or just plain hungry) customer.

And you could get a dry dog or a New York dog with everything all for the same 2 bucks.

The massage lasted fifteen minutes and was sheer delight. Linda has very good hands and she listens very well, so I got a shoulder/neck/back and lymph massage that was at just the right pressure to leave me feeling more than relaxed enough to face the rest of my day.

All in all an excellent deal all with roadside convenience…and I took her card. Want to meet her? Try her haunt there on Main Street, Forest City or call her at 1-828-919-7270

And if you get a chance, have a talk with her delightful friend and partner, Debbie – sorry, Debbie, I missed the last name – who is highly amusing and a perfect foil to Linda’s quieter side.

Definitely worth the time, your whole being with thank you later.

So quick URLs, and get your hair done

Just a quick update today due to familial turmoil. I am going to just note a few spiffy web addresses today that will help you with your trip… 

To keep track of spending, try which provides estimates on daily expenses for up to 80 countries. 

To keep track of your electrical needs for all of those electronics you carry, laptop, iPod, iPhone, Android, Blackberry, Kindle and so forth, try Here you will find a chart of what kind of plugs, converters and adaptors you’ll need to keep those toys running. (Or, come on, just leave the nonessentials at home, k?) 

And to help you fit in in other ways, try AppBox Pro from iTunes. It contains currency converters, maps, tips and tricks, and useful phrases. 

While you are at it, provides 52 languages to choose from. 

Finally, for the fearless foodies who want to eat native, try out which covers 70 countries or for the higher class stuff. 

I also have a tip from a female traveler…she says put off that needed haircut until after you arrive in the country of your choice. She says getting your hair styled by the natives allows you to listen to their gossip about the best places to eat, shop, and have fun in the truest local style.