I attended the NC Maritime History Council's Conference in Wilmington, N.C., Thursday through Saturday. What a treat that was! In addition to hearing great speakers talk about the significance of the Port City during World War II, we also toured the battleship, North Carolina. Climbing down into the belly of the ship, I was awe-struck with her immense size and how challenging it must have been to keep the men aboard fed, clothed, and healthy while the ship was at sea.
The dinner on Friday night was held at the Hannah Block USO building, a remarkable community center that was saved in large part by Wilbur Jones, Jr. Entering into the main doors was like stepping back in time.
Since my latest novel Leaving Lukens is set in World War II North Carolina, I was doubly impressed with the conference. Though my novel is set in Oriental, New Bern, and Ocracoke, it was great to see the real deal battleship and USO in Wilmington, and it wasn't too far a leap to imagine how similar the places would have been on the home front during the war.
When attending this annual conference, I've always come away with a nugget of an idea for a novel. Leaving Lukens was fortified by last year's conference in New Bern. I wonder if the next one will have Wilmington for a backdrop?