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UNC's Perfect Season & 1957 National Championship

by Charly Mann

In December of 1956 when UNC started their run for the National Championship, and the most incredible season in college basketball history, I was nearing my seventh birthday. The population of Chapel Hill was less than 8,000, and it seemed that every face in town was a familiar one. Woollen Gym, where the Tarheels played their games, held about 5,000 people, and I recall that almost anyone in town who wanted tickets to the games got them. Woollen Gym was twenty years old in 1957, and most of the bleachers were on rollers and could be collapsed and pushed away from the court when there wasn't a game. What made the season that year memorable to me at first, was that the first and last home games of the season were going to be against South Carolina teams. My Dad, then a math professor at UNC, was from South Carolina, and we visited relatives there often, so this was special to me. The first home game was against Furman in early December, and the last was against South Carolina – then in the ACC – in late February. During games I would spend much of time with a group of my friends walking up and down the bleacher stairs, and sitting from time to time in various empty seats. I cannot recall spending much time watching the games. UNC played eight home games that season, and won them all.

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The Rat (Ramshead Rathskeller)

by Charly Mann

The History of the Rathskeller, The Rat, Amber Alley, Chapel Hill, NC

The Rat in 1963 (burgundy was a popular color than year)

 Map of the Ram's Head Rathskeller, Chapel Hill, NC

The Ram's Head Rathskeller, better known as “The Rat” opened in 1948 by Ted Danziger. For much of its history there were long lines in Amber Alley waiting for seating at peak lunch and dinner hours. The Rat had everything, a variety of great food, impecable service, and an atmosphere of romance, and Chapel Hill tradition.

Eating the Rat's famous Apple Pie and Ice Cream, Ratskeller, Chapel Hill, NC
The Rat was the first of at least four incredible restaurants owned and operated by Danziger, including The Ranch House, the Zoom Zoom, and the Villa Teo. The Rat was located in what was originally a dilapidated basement under a successful gift and candy store owned by Ted’s parents, called DANZIGER’S. That business was started in 1939, and occupied the location that had been Gooch's Restaurant. The Rat’s food was incredible. They were famous for an array of specialties including their chewy steak called The Gambler, which was served on a sizzling iron plate. They also had the first, and many say the best, pizza in Chapel Hill, as well as incredible lasagna. Their most popular drink was not beer, but the sweetest ice tea you can imagine, served in large pitchers. Their signature desert was  great apple pie which one could watch warming from a window in Amber Alley. It was usually served with cheese or vanilla ice cream.

The Gambler steak and menu of the Ram's Head Ratskeller, Franklin Street, Chapel Hill, NC

The Rat in 1950, then only two years old


Ted oversaw The Rat and The Ranch House until he died in 1965. His wife Bibi continued and expanded the Danziger Empire, while maintaining the standards Ted had established. Unfortunately neither of their sons, Avery or Randy seemed to have restaurant genes, and after Bibi’s death the restaurant fortunes declined until it closed in 2008.


I started going to The Rat when I was about five, and continued doing so as often as I could during the next fifty plus years. I had my first date there when I was in the fourth grade with Brook Barnes, and in the sixth grade convinced Terry Boyce to go there with me. Remarkably the wait staff never seemed to change or age, and included great men like Kenny Mann Sr., Ulysses Cozart, and Jim Cotton. 
 

Pizza at the Rat, Chapel Hill, NC, Franklin Street, The Ratskeller

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Elizabeth Cotton - Legendary Songwriter

by Charly Mann

Elizabeth (Nevills) Cotton was born at the railroad tracks between Chapel Hill and Carrboro in 1895. By the time she was eleven she was a sklilled guitarist and banjo player. She wrote one the best loved American songs, Freight Train, when she was about 15 and living on Llyod Street.

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Fowler's Food Store

by Charly Mann

Fowler's Food Store was the first supermarket in Chapel Hill, and was started in the 1920’s by the Fowler Family. It was located on West Franklin Street. Fowler's had the best selection of frozen foods and produce in Chapel Hill, until the early 1970s, when large grocery chains began opening larger supermarkets. It was particularly famous for its high quality fresh meats and outstanding butchers. From time to time the store carried a small selections of other items, including popular 45-rpm records. The  town’s only record store throughout the 1950s and 60s, Kemps, never carried 45s, or much selection in rock and roll LPs. I bought my first Elvis Presley record there in August of 1956, Hound Dog backed by Don’t Be Cruel.

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New Year's Eve At The Ranch House 1964

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Joe Hakan - The Man Who Built Chapel Hill

by Charly Mann

Dean Smith Center

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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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