Thursday, July 3, 2014

Carolina Classics: The Red Clay Ramblers and 'Taffy at Torpedo Junction'


Can you act and also ride an Outer Banks pony bareback? Then Bland Simpson, UNC prof and
pianist for the Durham-based stringband The Red Clay Ramblers, might come looking for you to star in a movie. Simpson bought the option to a North Carolina award-winning classic, "Taffy of Torpedo Junction," written in 1957 by Outer Banks native Nell Wise Wechter and re-issued by UNC Press with an introduction by Simpson.

As a school teacher near Cape Hatteras, Wechter could look out her classroom window and see the Germans sinking our ships. These events and the courage of the people who lived throug them inspired her story of Taffy.

Simpson and the Ramblers' Jack Herrick will spend the next four to six months drafting a screenplay of the book, then hustling up support for a film to be shot in North Carolina.
Besides 13-year-old Taffy, who exposes a ring of Nazi spies on Hatteras Island, the book includes  two male characters: a 40ish Coast Guard chief and a mid-60s grandfather who is raising Taffy. Simpson and Herrick will create two corresponding female roles, one of which will be the horsewoman.
"We'll move forward as quickly -- and thoughtfully -- as we can," Simpson says. "This is such a wonderful, beloved novel, and World War II on our coast was such a powerful clash. We certainly want our work to honor Wechter's book and the history that inspired it."

If "Taffy" is half as good as the Ramblers' musical, "Kudzu," "Fool Moon," or "Lone Star Love," it's another sure-fire hit.