Share Your Chapel Hill Story

Over on the Open thread for Lot 5 entry, Gerry shared a really cool story about one of Chapel Hill's unique citizens. I found it really educational and very funny. So do you have one that could top it? Come on help a guy out and impress us with your stories of days gone by.

In case you missed it here is Gerry's story:

This is WWWAAAYY off the point of RAM, but it is about lot 5 and vicinity. but I remember doing a Daily Tar Heel expose piece on Norwood's ESSO around 1970, he had one of the earliest self-service gas pumps, but this was b4 credit card activation and there was a machine you fed dollar bills into. The story 'round town was that you didn;t actually get any gas, it stole your money, when you complained, you'd just get the stare down from Norwood or one of his thug attendants. I went with five ones, put them in the machine, took out the pump handle, the machine did nothing, no gas, no nothing. I went to the attendant, who came over and verified that I did not get any gas, and brazenly told me that if it did not pump any gas, it meant that I had NOT out any money in. I got out my reporter looking notepad and asked the attendant for his name. He asked me why, I told him “for the name on the warrant”. He unlocked the machine, it was JAMMED to the gills with an enormous amount of cash. He asked me how much I lost, I told him $5, he reached in and got out five ones, handed them to me and stormed off after locking the machine. I remember writing either an news story or column about it. Norwood has expanded the station at some point when his lease was cancelled, he got up on the roof and began to saw off the roof at the point of the old building line saying he was removing the expansion. The lessor got a court order to get him off the property. For the longest time you could see the power saw marks on the roof. This was today in Lot 5 history.



From this week's The New Yorker, Louis Menand summarizing an entry in the recently published Yale Book of Quotations, edited by Fred Shapiro:

"It is extremely interesting to know, for instance, that the phrase “Shit happens” was introduced to print by one Connie Eble, in a publication identified as “UNC–CH Slang” (presumably the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), in 1983."




Then there was the hippie house at 126 South Merritt Mill Road in Carrboro (the bike path along the railorad tracks runs through where the house stood). From 1970 to 1972 a group of people who had lived in Hinton James moved out there (Charlie Dean, Don Wright, two others whose names escaped me). Howard Dean told me last year of visiting (and staying with) his brother Charlie there in the spring of 1972 (just after Howard left Aspen and before he started at Med School). Howard said his parent had absolutely prohibited Charlie from having a motorcycle, but Charlie's motorbike was sticking out from under the front porch. I think Charlie wrecked in it Chatham County shortly thereafter. Charlie died in Laos the spring of 1973.

Chapel Hill instituted bus service in the early 70's. During one of my visits prior to moving here from a big city in '74, the entire fleet was mobilized for driver training. New hires drove empty buses all over town practicing stop, go, and turn.

Hello? I just posted the notion that UNC-CH is the source of the first written use of the phrase, "Shit happens." That is major, I don't care how great a baseball coach Barry was, or which coach had what slightly inappropriate conversation wth Cam Hill. SHIT HAPPENS. That exceeds you.

well, Catherine, our bus system started operation in 1974, so what you saw was probably our prelaunch training process!

ahh, here it is, Chapel Hill Transit began operation August 1974. The referendum was in March or April of 1974, so the training was somewhere in between

Chapel Hill bought used buses from Atlanta.

Estes Elementary will be celebrating it's 50th Anniversary in 2008. Are any G-rated stories about that school coming to mind?

Now for shameless self-promotion: I compiled a time line describing the history of the Chapel Hill Carrboro Schools. I think OP readers would be especially interested in the desegregation years.

When the Chapel Hill bus system went into operation using
the old orange buses from Atlanta, there was a Colonel
Matthews, an elderly gentleman who ridiculed the bus
system as a waste of money. He wrote frequent letters
to the paper and spawned a number of bus jokes, two of
which I remember:

What's big and orange and empty?
Who's the loneliest man in town?

ahh, Col. Matthews. Even when the buses were choked to the gills with riders, he'd say that half the buses going by his house were empty, and why not eliminate those. I'd go by his house to see what was going on -- in the a.m. the inbound buses were overloaded, the outbound empty as they returned to the Eastgate area. I tried to explain that there was basically one destination, and that in the afternoon it was reversed. He didn't seem to understand why the empty outbound buses in the morning could not be eliminated.

The Electric Company - touted in the early 70's as the biggest gay bar in the Southeast - used to be where the Earth Fare just was - isn't that right? Maybe it was a previous building...Anyway, it made for easier hitchhiking between downtown and Eastgate.

Interesting thread here. on the ACC Boards.

--Born and raised in CH (1954).
--All my family still there (except me)
--Left 32 years ago - career chioce
--Still come "HOME" at least twice a year
--Would love to move back, but Florida is nice too
--Grew up with Barry Winston's kids and thier cousins
--Doubt very seriously he remembers me

--Burger Chef was my first public job (14 y.o.)
--Worked at Hardee's - now Panera's from BC
--Worked at Norwoods Esso
-- Norwood challenged good ethics - daily
-- Worked at Town & Coutry Esso (Airport Rd)
-- Call it what you like! It will always be Airport Road
-- Worked Obbie Davis Esso (McFarland's)
-- Managed Crowell-Little Esso
-- Managed the Phillps 66 in front of "He's Not Here"
-- Grease monkey at Sears - Eastgate
-- Bar tender at Tarheel Sandwich Shop/Scoreboard Bar and grill
-- Grew up and joined the Air Force

Fond Memories:
-- Tar Hell Cab Co. (Parked where Top of The Hill is now)
-- The orginal Carolina Theatre
-- The Varsity Theatre- STILL THERE! (RHPC)
-- Rose's 5 & 10 - now just another drug store
-- Hardware store across from Carolina Theatrer - now just another STARBUCKS
-- Sutton's Drug - STILL THERE!
-- Rathskellar - STILL THERE! A miracle!
-- Hectors - what a cruel joke now
-- UNC Campus - STILL THERE! Yeah!

Did some serious drinking/partying at:
-- Tarheel Sandwich Shop/Scoreboard Bar and Grill
-- Town Hall
-- The Shack
-- He's Not Here (I believe one of Barry Winson's lawyer friends used to own this place-but then again I was drinking)
-- Various other places that changed names every other week including the bar above Amber Alley where REM, The B52's and many other college bands of played.

I could go on and on but that's enough for now. I have been all over this planet. I have lived in many great places like Seattle, Denver, Washington D.C., Jacksonville FL and The Netherlands. However, soon I'll be strolling down Franklin Street (4th of July holiday ) because Chapel Hill will always be my home and my very favorite place on this entire big blue marble.

Later, Mike

I grew up in Carrboro. If someone had told me thirty years ago that Carrboro would out-cool and out-hip Chapel Hill I would have laughed in their face. In a word: country. In the early seventies, Carrboro was the wrong side of the tracks.
One of my favorite memories is of the beer cooler in Fowlers grocery. On hot days there would be quite a crowd in their walk-in cooler. The beer just tasted better.
There's still a lot of cool things in Chapel Hill. Are the buildings what made it cool? Eventually Carrboro will be developed into towering condos as well. So what? The kids who are already making their mark in Chapel Hill by forming bands and getting involved in one way or another will try and preserve their community and with that, preserve a little of what we had.


I remember my earliest (of only a few) drinking days back in summer of 1969. The place was the Sit 'n Bull on west rosemary and we would do beer chugging contests and eat pork rinds (I think). I don't think that place lasted more than a couple of years, but those were the days...

I stumbled on this site about four months late for the posting, but it brought back many memories. I grew up in Chapel Hill but left in '66.
Cam Hill and Tom High, I remember you both, and I really remember those woolen little league uniforms. My first assigned uniform pants (Indians--Decatur Jones was an Indian) had a huge hole in the thigh which my mother patched with something that made them even heavier.
I was a terrible little leaguer and really couldn't hit anybody, but to this day the names Earl Blackwood and Ronnie Merrit strike fear in my soul. Good God those guys could bring it.

Drove into Chaplel Hill in an old Chevy with my soon to be first,now long ago ex, husband and $200 from Atlanta -where we had live for a year after meeting in Kabul.We drove up Franklin St hill and I thought that we were moving to the mountains-didn't know much about NC in those days,or anything else! It was July 4 1976-the Bi Centenial and Carrboro was having it's first July 4 celebration,back when we had our own fireworks.I fell in love with Carrboro that day.The poulation was around 5,000.It was the opposite of everything I had hated about Atlanta and I felt a sense of place for the first time in my life.We crashed for a few weeks on the living room floor of Allen Bisbort's rental house on Columbia near Merrit's.His brother Jeb,who years ago left this earth,was my husband's,(Mark Weinkle) best friend. Anyone remember Jeb or Allen?As we looked for a place to live I insisted on only looking in Carrboro.It was really really hot and dry that summer.Our brick apartment building at the end of Carr St had no shade and no AC.We used to sit in front of a fan on the floor and take turns dripping water from a sponge onto each other in order to keep cool.A lifetime ago. Kept the town -got rid of the man.
Jacquie Gist

Hearn's Gocery Store, thePiggly Wiggly and Dollar General -where the Arts Center is,the Arts School -over the space where Weaver St Reality is now,many many old trees where Weaver St Maket is now,A&P where the gym is,the ball field next to Carrboro Town Hall,the post office on the corner of Carr and Greensboro,Carr Mill empty,Mill houses going for $30,000 or less(yes thirty!)and some being used for practice by the fire department, two bedroom appartments for $125.Adam and Eve starting in the PTA thrift shop space. A Chapel Hill Alderman saying that Carrboro should be annexed because it could not manage it's affairs.Going to the station on saturday night then Breadman's on Sunday morning to see who went home with who!
Jacquie Gist

Speaking of Jubilee: BB King, Pacific Gas and Electric, Grand Funk Railroad, Joe Cocker, James Taylor in one weekend. I hitchhiked from Wilmington while I was in high school. While I was at UNC: Bufffalo Records, Springfield records (across the street from each other on Franklin). And of course, the football scores on the chalkboard outside...what was the name of that place?

Jeff's Campus Confectionary run by Jim Mousmoules. I took my kids there when they were little and taught 'em to say "Moos-Mul-Is" to get a cherry coke.

I used to buy my Archie comics and Bazooka gum at Jeff's. I remember being admonished not to look at the higher shelves where the, ahem, "adult" magazines were displayed.



Community Guidelines

By using this site, you agree to our community guidelines. Inappropriate or disruptive behavior will result in moderation or eviction.


Content license

By contributing to OrangePolitics, you agree to license your contributions under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.

Creative Commons License

Zircon - This is a contributing Drupal Theme
Design by WeebPal.