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Chapel Hill Hitchhiking and the Meaning of Life

by Charly Mann

From 1962 to 1971 hitchhiking was my prime mode of getting to school and work. Ordinary people would stop and pick me up without a second thought for their personal safety. I usually began my journey about 7:00 AM near the intersection of 15-501 (Fordham Boulevard) and Morgan Creek Road, and my destination was usually somewhere in downtown Durham where I attended part of junior high and high school and subsequently managed a record store. My daily roundtrip was 60 miles and it usually required three rides in each direction to complete.

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UNC - UCLA 1968 NCAA National Championship Game

by Charly Mann

There have been many great games in UNC's glorious basketball history, but the most memorable one for me was the 1968 NCAA championship game played against the most dominant team of all time, the Lew Alcindor-led (later to change his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) UCLA Bruins. The UNC Tar Heel team featured All-American senior Larry Miller and UNC's first black player, sophomore guard Charlie Scott, who was unquestionably the best player in the ACC that year.

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Chapel Hill Reunions and Lost Friends

by Charly Mann

Almost everyone I know has gone to at least one of their high school reunions. If you are my age and have recently attended one of these events the first thing you noticed is how old everyone has become. You will also see that most of the men are balding and fat, and surprisingly most of the women are in good shape and still fairly attractive. Many of the men I have run into seem uncomfortable and have insipid conversations about sports, investments, and their careers, while the women for the most part are outgoing and talk about their families and current interests and usually ask me about mine.

While I always love to see or hear from old friends from my childhood and high school days, I wish there were a way we could have reunions with friends from each year of our adult lives. As we change careers, work our way up the corporate ladder, or move, we lose touch with so many wonderful people. I think that while the friends we had in high school and college were nice, the friends we make in the real world are usually more similar to us and therefore more interesting to reconnect with.

Harry Clements and Charly Mann
Me with "lost"  Chapel Hill friends. From left to right: Harry Clements, Charly Mann, and Lizanne Fisher from 1979. At the time Harry was the owner of the Paradise Records chain. Before that he had been CFO of the Record Bar. Today he is a partner in the Childress Kline commercial real estate development and management company. 

I often wonder why I have lost track of so many of the friends I made in the last 40 years. Was it that they all stopped liking me, or did I lose interest in them? It turns out that most of our "lost" friendships have nothing to do with this. Instead, they are the fallout of a natural limit uncovered by recent anthropologist research which found that human beings can only handle a maximum of 150 relationships at a time. Beyond that number, the critical neocortex part of our brain begins to malfunction. As a , we naturally drop some old friends as new ones come into our lives.

I would like to pay tribute to a handful of my former Chapel Hill friends who were purged from my friendship database.

Lizanne Fisher real estate agent
A smiling Lizanne Fisher making her dinner at my house in the summer of 1979

Lizanne Fisher was a real estate agent for J.P. Goforth in Chapel Hill in 1979. I had a large house off Whitfield Road at that time and a mutual friend, Harry Clements, told me what a fascinating person Lizanne was and that she needed a place to stay. I let her have a room which I believe was rent free. In return I had the pleasure of befriending one of the most ebullient and delightful people I have ever known. She later left Chapel Hill and became a highly successful real estate agent in Washington, D.C.

Betsy Moore Woodberry Forest
Betsy Moore and her always present smile in my den in Chapel Hill in 1985

Betsy Moore and I were good buddies for more than five years in the 1980s. She would often come over to my house where we would play tennis, and I would regularly watch her favorite show, Cheers, with her at her apartment on Thursday evening. We also had lunch together on a regular basis and sometimes went on day-long driving trips to places like Southern Pines and Pinehurst. Betsy was the sweetest person I ever knew and also the cutest. The last I heard she had become a pastry chef and moved to Virginia.

Christi Owens
Christi Owens of Chapel Hill in 1983 at 18 years old

After working more than a decade in the music and video business I decided to try teaching and got a programming degree and was hired as a Professor of Computer Programming at Durham Technical College in 1982. I loved being a teacher, and many of my favorite students were also from Chapel Hill including Christi Owens. Christi came from an illustrious Chapel Hill family. Her father developed Estes Hills and other neighborhoods in town, and her mother, Patsy, and her friend Anna Darden ran an avant-garde upscale women's clothing store between Chapel Hill and Durham. They lived in a large house on Rosemary Street near where it intersects with Boundary.

Dorothy's Red Slippers
Christi loved The Wizard of Oz, and I had a friend of mine make a chocolate red slipper birthday cake for her in 1984

Christi was the first student to give me an apple, and we soon became good friends. She often came over to my house after school where at 3 p.m. she would religiously watch her favorite show, General Hospital, then featuring the wedding of Luke and Laura as well as staring a young and beautiful Demi Moore. Christi was passionate about The Police and Every Breath You Take seemed to often be playing when we were together.

Charly Mann and Lori Stephens
Lori Stephens and Charly Mann at Temptatons Bakery in Durham in 1982. They were located across from Brightleaf Square and had the best chocolate truffles in America. 

Lori Stephens was an enormous ball of energy with a fondness for the outrageous. Her father was a gynecologist in Durham, and she grew up in Hope Valley. In 1978 and 79 I was dating her best friend, Laura Kreps (who grew up on Oakwood Drive in Chapel Hill and whose mother was then Secretary of Commerce in the Carter administration). Lori and I became good friends and she stayed in one of the rooms in my house for awhile. She and I had several wonderful trips together; one to Southern California, and another to New York City. On our return flight from our New York trip Lori may have had a little too much to drink. In those days rolling stairs were brought up to an airplane when it landed at Raleigh-Durham Airport. My tipsy friend fell from the top of the stairs all the way to the ground, but was so relaxed at the time that she got up laughing and without a bruise.

Angela Cason
Angela Cason in Chapel Hill shortly after graduating from Yale

Angela Cason moved to Chapel Hill in 1984 after graduating from Yale with a degree in English to work for her sister Lee White's advertising and design company. Angela was an extremely brilliant and curious person, and after just a few hours of conversation could penetrate into the soul of another person. She gave me a copy of her favorite book, The Phantom Tollbooth, that I still occasionally read sections from. A few of my favorite passages from it are: "So many things are possible just as long as you don't know they're impossible," and "What you can do is often simply a matter of what you will do."

Angela is today the CEO and President of Cason Nightingale, an advertising and marketing company located in New York City.

I am fortunate to have a marvelously eclectic collection of former Chapel Hill friends – some were artists, some business people, several were lawyers and doctors, many were musicians, two were philosophers, and quite a few were bohemians, yet each was an individual with a warm heart and a gentle spirit.

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Jim Heavner inducted into Chapel Hill Hall Of Fame

by Charly Mann 

Jim Heavner more than any other person created the character and spirit of modern Chapel Hill through his relentless drive of promoting the town and elevating UNC football and basketball to national prominence through his conglomeration of media companies including WCHL, The Tar Heel Sports Network, and The Village Advocate.

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Living Happily Ever After in Chapel Hill

by Charly Mann

When I was eleven I read the fairytale Hansel and Gretel to my 5 year old sister Monika, and became enchanted by how the story ended with the two youngsters living happily ever. For some reason this impacted me enough to write down in a notebook that I wanted to have a life like Hansel and Gretel's. Over the course of the next several weeks I began asking several friends of my parents how one could live happily ever after, and added their words of wisdom to my notebook. My father noted what I was doing, and said if I kept this up I might become another Thomas Wolfe. I had never heard of this person, but was sure my Dad meant it as a compliment.

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The Kingston Trio perform at UNC Homecoming in 1959

by Charly Mann

In the Fall of 1959 The Kingston Trio was the most popular group in the world. The previous year their debut single Tom Dooley, which was based on the 19th century North Carolina murder of Laura Foster by Tom Dula for giving him syphilis, was the #1 song in the country. Since then they had had four #1 albums and were the most popular concert attraction in the nation.

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Bite Sized Facts Link



Chapel Hill is located on a hill whose only distinguishing feature in the 18th century was a small chapel on top called New Hope Chapel. This church was built in 1752 and is currently the location of The Carolina Inn. The town was founded in 1819, and chartered in 1851.

 

 

What is it that binds us to this place as to no other? It is not the well or the bell or the stone walls. or the crisp October nights. No, our love for this place is based upon the fact that it is as it was meant to be, The University of the People.

-- Charles Kuralt

 

 

Dark Side of the Hill -- Pink Floyd, the creators of the most popular album in history, Dark Side of the Moon, took the second half of their name from Floyd Council, a Chapel Hill native, and great blues singer and guitarist. He once belonged to a group called "The Chapel Hillbillies".

 

 

Check out Charly Mann's other website:
Oklahoma Birds and Butterflies

http://oklahomabirdsandbutterflies.com

 



We need your help. Send your submissions, ideas, photos, and questions to CHMemories@gmail.com.

 

 

 

 

There would probably be no Chapel Hill if the University of North Carolina Board of Trustees in 1793 had not chosen land across from New Hope Chapel for the location of the university. By 1800 there were about 100 people living in thirty houses surrounding the campus.

 

 

The University North Carolina's first student was Hinton James, who enrolled in February, 1795. There is now a dormitory on the campus named in his honor.

 

 

 

 

The University of North Carolina was closed from 1870 to 1875 because of lack of state funding.

 

 

 

 

William Ackland left his art collection and $1.25 million to Duke University in 1940 on the condition that he would be buried in the art museum that the University was to build with his bequest. Duke rejected this condition even though members of the Duke Family are buried in Duke Chapel. What followed was a long and acrimonious legal battle between Ackland relatives who now wanted the inheritance, Rollins College, and the University of North Carolina, each attempting to receive the funds. The case went all the way to the United States Supreme Court, and in 1949 UNC was awarded the money for the museum. Ackland is buried near the museum's entrance. When the museum first opened, in the early sixties, there were rumors that his remains were leaking out of the mausoleum.

 

 

The official name of the Arboretum on the University of North Carolina campus is the Coker Arboretum. It is named after Dr. William Cocker, the University's first botany professor. It occupies a little more than five acres. It was founded in 1903.

 

 

Chapel Hill's main street has always been called Franklin Street. It was named after Benjamin Franklin in the early 1790s.

 

 



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Chapel Hill High School and Chapel Hill Junior High were on Franklin Street in the same location as University Square until the mid 1960s.

 

 

The Colonial Drug Store at 450 West Franklin Street was owned and operated by John Carswell. It was famous for a fresh-squeezed carbonated orange beverage called a "Big O". In the early 1970s, I managed the Record and Tape Center next door, and must have had over 100 of those drinks. The Colonial Drug Store closed in 1996.

 

 

Sutton's Drugstore, which opened in 1923, has one of the last soda fountains in the South. It is one of the few businesses remaining on Franklin Street that was in operation when I was growing up in the 1950s.

 

 

Future President Gerald Ford lived in Chapel Hill twice. First when he was 24, in 1938, he took a law couse in summer school at UNC. He lived in the Carr Building, which was a law school dormitory. At the same time, Richard Nixon, the man he served under as Vice President, was attending law school at Duke. In 1942, Ford returned to Chapel Hill to attend the U.S. Navy's Pre-Flight School training program. He lived in a rental house on Hidden Hills Drive.

 

 

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