Moyer remembers famous father at Friends of the Library dinner

He was the winner of the Pulitzer Prize for drama, the creator of the symphonic play and known as the “father of outdoor drama,” but to Betsy Green Moyer, Paul Green was simply “dad.” Moyer shared childhood memories of the famous playwright/novelist as the keynote speaker for Campbell University’s Friends of the Library annual dinner recently. Born in 1894 in Harnett County, Paul Green won the Pulitzer Prize at age 33 for his play “In Abraham’s Bosom.” He also created a new dramatic form, the symphonic drama, a form of historical play usually set on the sight depicted in the action. However, Green is best known as the creator of the outdoor drama. His most famous work, “The Lost Colony,” the story of the mysterious disappearance of the settlers of Roanoke Island, N.C., in 1587, is still being performed today. But Moyer remembers Green as a “wonderful playmate,” a humanist and a man with an amazing work ethic. “My parents were wonderful parents, but we spent a lot time alone when we were kids,” Moyer said. “One of my earliest memories is of my parents preparing the house for a party. They played with us by scooting us across the floor on our bottoms to ‘slick’ up the dance floor. They were great partiers.” Moyer also recalled that Green dressed every morning for work in a suit, tie and handkerchief as if going to an office, and he always worked in a structure, usually a rough-hewn cabin, away from the house. “He read five newspapers a day and went to work promptly at 8:30,” Moyer said. “Dinner was at 1:30 p.m. and at 5 p.m. he and mother would get on their garden togs. They were ferocious gardeners.” Green was also an activist and passionately involved in life. He went to battle many times for racial equality, prison reform, abolishment of capital punishment, labor unions, the United Nations and equal education opportunities. Once at the University of North Carolina in the 1930s, Green observed that the black laborers laying bricks for the construction of new buildings were restricted from enrollment, “They were good enough to work on the buildings, but not good enough to use them,” he said, and had had the courage to voice this sentiment to the Chapel Hill administration. “His weapons were words,” Moyer said, “and boy could he use them. When I was about 13, I discovered nail polish. I remember coming down to breakfast one morning and dad saying, ‘Here you come like Lady Macbeth, her fingers dripping blood.'” Green loved comedians Laurel and Hardy and always went to bed at night with three books under his arm. “Every night he read from Sherlock Holmes, but he didn’t like Shakespeare,” Moyer said. Yet the lines that open his well-known drama, “The Lost Colony” are some of the most beautiful in the English language, she remarked. “Friends, we are gathered here this evening to honor the spiritual birthplace of our nation and to memorialize those brave men and women who made it so.” A well-known photographer in her own right, Betsy Green Moyer lives in Wayland, Mass., where she studied photography at DeCordova Museum. She has completed a book, “Paul Green’s Plant Book: An Alphabet of Flowers and Folklore,” based on folklore and stories written by her father and illustrated with photographs by Moyer. Campbell University’s Friends of the Library organization is a nonprofit group that supports the university’s Carrie Rich Memorial Library through contributions and fundraising events.

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