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Chapel Hill's Super Rich in 1968

by Charly Mann

In the summer of 1968 I was 18 years old and looking forward to entering UNC as a freshman in the Class of 1972 that fall. I was also, like many of the left-leaning youth of the time, critical of the tremendous income disparity in our country. That year it was the not the top 1% we were outraged at, it was the top 2%. These were the families who had an income of $20,000 or more a year. (No that is not a typo – that is $20,000 a year.) In Chapel Hill I suspected that fewer than 1% were making that much, but I was determined to find some of them and see how decadently they lived.

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How Life Changed in Chapel Hill in the Last 60 Years

by Charly Mann

Recently I got an e-mail from a 16-year-old Chapel Hill girl who asked me if things had changed much in town since my childhood years in the 1950s and 60s. The simple answer is that almost everything about Chapel Hill has radically changed, and I will try to detail many of those changes in this piece.

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An Overview of Chapel Hill in the 1980s

Present day Chapel Hill is wonderful, but Chapel Hill’s past seems much more interesting because it is far easier to reflect upon. The 1980s was an amazing time full of seminal events including the miraculous one point UNC victory over Georgetown in 1982 to claim the NCAA Basketball championship. There is no decade I remember better, enjoyed more, and have more photos from than this one, but until now I have only rarely written about this period in Chapel Hill Memories. To rectify this oversight I have put together the following descriptive and pictorial overview of the time.

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Ordinary Chapel Hill Life in 1964

I was only 14 in 1964 and in the eighth grade, yet I have a treasure trove of memories about life in Chapel Hill that year. In this article I will focus on ordinary people, places, and events that often intertwined to make our town such an extraordinary place that year.

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Keeping Chapel Hill's Past Alive

Since I was a young boy growing up in Chapel Hill I found writing and receiving personal letters the most engaging and irresistible form of communication. Over more than five decades I have written and received more than 4000 letters from Chapel Hill friends and relations. I have kept every letter and card I have ever received, and have recently scanned copies of all of them which I now enjoy reading on my iPad. They provide a fascinating historical record about Chapel Hill's past which I will give an overview of in this article.

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Chapel Hill at the End of Innocence

In 1940 Chapel Hill was filled with love, hope, romance, and innocence. The Great Depression was finally showing signs of ending and the United States had a President who promised to keep us out of the war raging in Europe. The Jitterbug dance craze was engulfing the local high school and UNC student population. Even though some outside of Chapel Hill wanted this new dance banned because they considered it vulgar, there were five or six dances a week in town where everyone was jitterbugging. Most of these dances were sponsored by the University or one of  Carolina's fraternities. The overwhelming male-dominated UNC student population usually invited local town girls to these dances. Men wore rented tuxedos while women wore formal dresses that they, or their mother, made. After the dances couples typically went to a local downtown restaurant like Harry's, or a drugstore like Sutton's, for a milkshake or coffee and a piece of pie. Another popular combination was a Coca-Cola and a package of crackers which daters often shared and cost 11 cents. They next would usually attend a movie at one of Chapel Hill's two theaters – the Carolina or the Pickwick.  After the movie let out Franklin Street was filled with strolling couples holding hands or sitting on one of many benches along the street.

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Chapel Hill's Dying Community

The Chapel Hill I love is not a city, town, village, or university but a community of fascinating people in a beautiful location. As humans we all want to belong to something, and the communal nature that was Chapel Hill during most of my lifetime positively shaped and nurtured me. What made our community was shared experiences that were most often the interactions of someone sharing a story to one or more fellow townspeople in a store, along a sidewalk, on a phone call, over a meal, at school, or at church. Every time I heard a fellow Chapel Hillian share an amusing anecdote or recount things about the town they remembered I felt more a part of this community. I remember, for example, in 1958 when I was at the small farmer's market on Columbia Street just north of Rosemary Street listening to two grey-haired women talking about what life had been like when they were growing up in Chapel Hill in the 1890s when there was no indoor plumbing, telephones, nor electricity. I was transfixed in amazement and immediately felt a virtual connection to the town as it existed more than 60 years before I was born.


A Chapel Hill storyteller (right) enraptures his friends at a social gathering at a home on Purefoy Road in 1958


Huggins Hardware was a hotspot for Chapel Hill locals to chat with friends. In the photo from 1953 two coversations are going on simultaneously. 

I had hoped that Chapel Hill Memories could replicate through storytelling the same communal experience I remembered from my four decades of living in Chapel Hill, yet the very nature of this requires an array of narratives and listener responses that are community-building. There was no shortage of opportunities then to meet interesting people to engage in conversation with. At least once a week my parents invited four or more people over for dinner. The guests included couples from our neighborhood, UNC students from my Dad's classes, the ministers of various churches including The Chapel of the Cross, The Church of the Holy Family, St. Thomas Moore, an array of distinguished UNC professors and administrators, and even Jesse Helms – then a commentator on WRAL who my father often enjoyed heated debates with. As a family we would also go along with our parents several times a month to drop by and visit some family in the evening for a couple of hours after dinner. In most cases these were people who were "old" to me, probably in their early 60s. Invariably they would be great storytellers and their homes always contained enchanting collections of some kind, such as old train sets, vintage women's hats displayed on the top shelves of bookcases, or intricately carved figures that they had brought back from some exotic location.


A group of UNC students and professors discussing philosophy and religion at Harry's Restaurant, Chapel Hill's bohemian haven.


Three friends catching up with one another in front of Jeff's Confectionary in 1966

In addition to this, just accompanying my mother on her household errands several times a week was my favorite, and most fruitful, time for cultivating life-long relationships with a variety of fascinating people who worked at, or owned, various businesses in town including PACE's Gift Shop in Glen Lennox, Dickinson's Nursery, which was once considered out in the country, Billy Arthur's Hobby Shop in the Eastgate Shopping Center, and along Franklin Street, Danzigner Old World Gift Shop, Foister's Camera Shop, The Intimate Book Store, Ledbetter-Pickard Stationary Store, Sutton's Drug Store, Fowler's Grocery StoreJulian's Clothing Cupboard, McGinty's Sports Shop, Lacock's Shoes, Max Snipes Barber Shop, The HubThe Little Shop, Huggins Hardware, and Kemp's Record Store.


A very common experience along the north side of Franklin Street in the 1950s and early 1960s was a car stopped in street for the driver or passenger to have a conversation with someone the knew walking along the sidewalk. 


In the afternoons in the 1950s and 60s students gathered in large numbers on the steps of Wilson Library to have conversations with friends. In this photo you will see four separate groups of people talking.

I learned a lot from listening to, and occasionally participating in, conversations with these people. They recounted real stories, usually about a recent local event from their own life that was presented with a wealth of colorful information. I learned about their idiosyncratic friends, their favorite writers, books, and composers, places they had traveled to, difficulties they had overcome, and lessons they had learned. Through these encounters Chapel Hill was a shared world in which almost everyone living there became apart of one another's lives. Mundane topics such as the television show one had recently seenwere never discussed, and sports of any kind were rarely brought up by anyone over the age of 25. I remember Loften Gardner, a retired math professor who lived on North Street, telling me that watching sports, movies, and television were "spectator activities", and that conversation on the other hand was a shared experience which was the basis of all relationships. I also noticed that while one's personal life was a common topic of conversation, no one ever talked about his or her job. In this way we learned about each other's interests, weaknesses, and most of all their strengths. Most Chapel Hillians during this time had more real friends than the often-superficial couple of hundred acquaintances that make up the bulk of our Facebook friends. Through constant interaction with hundreds of fellow citizens on a weekly basis we cultivated a network of nurturing and supportive relationships that made us feel part of a close-knit community.


I recall living rooms were often full of friends and neighbors during the evenings in Chapel Hill from the 1950s through the mid 1980s. I have scores of photos in my collection displaying this ritual, and in almost everyone the couch is packed with people. The drinks these people are most likely holding, and usually served on these occassions, was iced tea. This photo is from 1955.

Today most of my contacts with Chapel Hill friends are through e-mails and Facebook. I see in them a steady decline of human contact as conversations are expressed in only a few words. I think this kind of interaction dehumanizes us and destroys our community. We now communicate in a new language some are calling Short Messages. Our e-mails, texts, Facebook postings, are rarely more than a sentence, and are often are full of symbols and abbreviations that further truncate how much we have to say (type). I suspect chimpanzees, who have a 3000-word vocabulary, are often having more meaningful conversations than us. The ravages of television are destroying our minds, along with the trivial postings we make and read on Facebook and Twitter. Our only real intimacy is with our cellphone, which is glued to most people at all times. While most Chapel Hill conversations were once lengthy, intimate, uplifting, and informative, they are now usually mundane and only a sentence or less.


Two Chapel Hill couples sitting and talking on the stone wall across from the downtown Post Office on a chilly January evening in 1952 after having dinner together at The Rathskeller. While this attire may look formal by today's standards, it was normal evening wear then for going out to dinner with friends.

by Charly Mann

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Chapel Hill has Gone to the Dogs

I have ten large trunks of Chapel Hill memories that include more than 30,000 photographs, scores of videos that I have shot or collected since 1959, and dozens of journals that detail my life in Chapel Hill from 1949 to 1990. Included in these journals are hundreds of entries about conversations I had with a variety of Chapel Hill residents. Many of the conversations revolve around their recollections of life in Chapel Hill long before I was born. Some of their memories go back as far as 1886. In addition to this I have a two terabyte hard drives containing digital photos and other items related to the town and university during the last 125 years.

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Chapel Hill Goes to the 1963 March on Washington

by Charly Mann 

This week a memorial commemorating Dr. Martin Luther King will open in Washington, DC on the 48th anniversary of his inspiring "I Have a Dream" speech at the March on Washington on August 28th, 1963. I, along with about 50 other intrepid Chapel Hillians, were there on that day to be participants and eyewitnesses to history.

March on Washington demonstrators
This is part of the Chapel Hill, North Carolina contingent to the 1963 March on Washington soon after arriving in the nation's capitol on August 28th, 1963

The purpose of the March on Washington was to gather about 100,000 people from every state in the nation to march in support of legislation that would end segregation in all public schools, as well as prohibit racial discrimination in hiring in both the public and private sector. Another objective was to raise the minimum wage to $2.00 an hour. (By the way, six years later I had a "good job" where my salary was $1.60 an hour.)

March on Washington marcher
This is me, Charly Mann, in the center carrying the sign, along with other people from Chapel Hill marching from the Washington Mounument to Lincoln Memorial at the 1963 March on Washington. My chaperon on the trip was Dick Lamanna, a sociology graduate student, who was active in the civil rights movement in Chapel Hill from 1961-1963. He left Chapel Hill in 1964 and had a long career as a professor at Notre Dame. All of the photographs in this article, except the last four, were taken by him.

I was 13 years old at this time, and had been active in the civil rights movement since 1960. I was especially galvanized for this demonstration because I had recently learned that in the 100 years since the Emancipation Proclamation, which ended slavery in the South, not one piece of civil rights legislation had been enacted to guarantee the same rights for blacks as for whites.

Lincoln Memorial August 28th, 1968
This is the view that the group from Chapel Hill had of the speaker's podium at the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington. We were lucky to be so close.  

We boarded what we called our "freedom bus" to Washington in darkness at about 5:00 AM in front of a black Baptist church on the west side of Chapel Hill. Throughout the week the press had carried reports of threats by the Ku Klux Klan and other racist organizations to those who tried to go to Washington that day, but we were not deterred. In 1963 only short sections of I-85 and I-95 were completed between Chapel Hill and Washington, so much of our journey was on secondary roads. I remember as the sun was coming up near where we entered Virginia there was a group of several dozen white men at an intersection with racist signs shouting at us.

Chapel Hill Civil Rights demonstrators
This is a photo of the Chapel Hill group sitting in the shade next to the Lincoln Memorial shortly before the speeches began.

By the time we were 20 miles outside of Washington we had become part of a seemingly endless caravan of buses headed to the march. We arrived in Washington at about 10:00 AM and headed toward the Washington Monument where the march was to begin. The march had very little support among American whites, and even President Kennedy urged the organizers to cancel it. The Washington Daily News paper reported that most people felt we were like "the Vandals coming to sack Rome". Even Lawrence Spivak of NBC's respected Meet the Press program said he believed "it would be impossible to bring more than 100,000 militant Negroes into Washington without incidents and possibly rioting." The American government was so afraid of blacks coming to Washington to demand equal rights that they not only ordered all liquor stores closed in the city (thereby preventing angry blacks from getting drunk and violent), but also told federal employees that they did not have to come to work that day. This was especially annoying to me since almost all the violence I had seen during my time in the civil rights movement was white people lynching, beating up, bombing, and shooting blacks who were protesting racial injustice by non-violent means. Furthermore, none of the organizing groups or leaders of the March on Washington had ever advocated violence. (The more militant black Nation of Islam led by Malcolm X did not support, nor were they part of, the March).

March on Washington crowd
A beautiful shot of the crowd along the Reflecting Pool at the Lincoln Memorial. In the front sitting down are members of the Chapel Hill group including me, from behind, in the blue hat.

The march began at 11:30,  and we marched together black and white, almost 300,000 strong, down both Constitution and Independence Avenues to the Lincoln Memorial. 75% of the marchers were black, and the vast majority of them came from the North, as fears of violence from southern racists had frightened many people in the South from coming. Nevertheless, the march was the biggest demonstration up to that time in Washington's history, and attracted three times more participants than the organizers had hoped for.

1963 March on Washington bus
This is me, Charly Mann, in front of the Chapel Hill "Freedom Bus", shortly after arriving in Washington on August 28th, 1963

Our walk to the Lincoln Memorial was only a mile long, and the Chapel Hill group was in the first third of the march, so we were close enough to see the speakers and performers well. While the remainder of the marchers found places to sit and stand along the Reflecting Pool in front of the Memorial, we were entertained by performers including Bob Dylan, Peter, Paul & Mary, Joan Baez, and Mahalia Jackson, as well as a reading from the great black writer James Baldwin by actor Charlton Heston. (Today many think of Heston as a conservative because of his leadership of the NRA, but in the 1950's and 60's he was one of the few Hollywood stars who regularly spoke out for equality and civil rights legislation.)

Martin Luther King August 28th, 1963
Martin Luther King at the Lincoln Memorial after delivering his "I Have a Dream" speech on August 28th, 1963

The speeches began at about 2:00 PM and culminated around 5:00 with Martin Luther King's eloquent “I Have a Dream" speech that beautifully advocated an America of racial harmony and justice. I had been fortunate to meet King in 1960, and remember thinking as I heard him speak what a wise old man he was. Today I realize that when I first met him he was 31, and on this momentous occasion only 34.

March on Washington Lincoln Memorial program
This is my program of the events at Lincoln Memorial during The March on Washington on August 28th, 1963.

After the speeches concluded we walked back to our bus and returned to Chapel Hill at about 10:30 PM. Martin Luther King and several of the other civil rights leaders who spoke that afternoon went to the White House after the event to lobby President Kennedy and Vice President Johnson to strongly support the civil rights legislation they were advocating. Within two years those goals were met with the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

 March on Washington 1963 button

Klu-Klux-Klan threat
After returning from the March on Washington I wore the above pin for several weeks which angered many of my friends and other people I knew in Chapel Hill. Most of my friends' parents were UNC professors, merchants, and professionals. I got many threatening notes, was beaten up once, and several times groups of my former friends threw rocks at me. Primarily because of this I never attended Chapel Hill schools afterward.

When I got back to Chapel Hill I proudly wore my March on Washington button for the next several weeks. Though a sizable minority of whites in Chapel Hill supported eventual integration, most did not favor protests or immediate desegregation. Most of the friends I had were furious with my involvement in the civil rights movement, and even though I spent the majority of the next 25 years of my life in Chapel Hill, none of them ever spoke to me again. There was also a large group of Chapel Hillians and UNC students who supported segregation, and had bumper stickers of the confederate flag on their rear car bumpers. I was called many unpleasant things by these people, and several times groups of my peers threw rocks at me. I also began receiving racist phone calls and anonymous notes; all somewhat scary to a 13 year old. I am sure though that this was nothing in comparison to what local black youths and adults were experiencing. I remember the two most common epithets hurled against me were "nigger-lover" and "race-mixer".

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The Decline of Community in Chapel Hill

by Charly Mann

Over the last two decades I have heard from dozens of current and former Chapel Hillians about their declining connection to the people and places in town. This may partly be a consequence of our internet age. We e-mail, text, twitter, talk on our cell phones, play computer games, but are more socially isolated from one another. From the 1920s through the 1970s Chapel Hill neighborhoods were filled with children, every church in town was overflowing on Sunday, neighbors regularly had other neighbors over for dinner, and downtown was the prime destination for dinning, entertainment, and shopping. Most of us had a strong sense of belonging to a community then. Where ever we went we ran into people we knew and almost always took the time to converse with them for a few minutes. More remarkably many of us also delighted in talking to strangers we would meet around town.

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Chapel Hill Before Air Conditioning

by Charly Mann

Chapel Hill has always been hot in the summer, and not long ago that heat had to be endured without air conditioning in homes, cars, schools and most businesses. For those of you too young to remember you might wonder how we endured without melting away. The truth is those days were comfortable primarily because we beat the heat by being outdoors a lot more than today. Much of that time was spent sitting on a front porch where we would socialize with neighbors, or just talk to people who were passing by in front of our homes.

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Chapel Hill in 1972

 by Charly Mann

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Chapel Hill in 1927

by Charly Mann with additional material supplied by Charles Church

While there may not be any future in living in the past, we should not take it for granted either. It is from Chapel Hill's history that we develop our community identity and the heritage we cherish when we walk along the sidewalks of downtown or root for a Tarheel team. In the past few months two of my Chapel Hill friends passed away, one who was 85 and the other 84. This made me wonder what Chapel Hill was like 85 years ago when they came into the world. After doing a few weeks of research and talking to a couple of people who had friends or relatives living in town at that time, I will now describe what Chapel Hill was like in those days.

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A New Novel About Chapel Hill in the 1960s

Pat (Alan) Thompson grew up in Chapel Hill during the tumultuous 1960s and has written a book entitled A Hollow Cup that vibrantly brings those days back to life. The book juxtaposes the racial turmoil of the time with a murder mystery and high school life, and will all resonate with anyone who knew Chapel Hill at the time. The story is largely based on real Chapel Hill people and events, yet as a work of "fiction" almost all the names of people and locations have been changed.

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A 1942 Chapel Hill Fish Tale

by Stanley Peele

In Chapel Hill there is a small stream which starts in a marshy spot north of the western end of McCauley St. It then meanders down between Merritt Mill Road and Westwood Drive and then runs on down to Morgan Creek.

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How to Think Like a Chapel Hillian

by Charly Mann

For most of its history the core of Chapel Hill thinking meant questioning the politically correct ideas of the day. This critical thinking is rooted in two debating organizations formed in 1795 which at one time every UNC student had to belong to. Members were expected to be able to speak extemporaneously and persuasively for five to seven minutes on any side of an issue. These groups also required students to spend several hours every day reading political speeches and editorials in newspapers, and then writing a weekly composition in support or opposition to something they had read.

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Chapel Hill - The Spirit of 1976

 by Charly Mann

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Jesse Helms and the State take on one UNC Professor

by Lyle Jones 

Albert Amon was an Assistant Professor of Psychology and in the spring of 1963 he regularly accompanied evening protestors of segregation practices at retail businesses in Chapel Hill. While he had not been a participant in the nonviolent protests, he was sympathetic to their cause and he became accepted as the unofficial photographer of the Chapel Hill Freedom Movement. Al’s faculty office was in Nash Hall on Pittsboro Street at the Psychometric Laboratory. I was the Lab Director and Al and I were close friends. He met with me each morning after a protest to tell me about his adventures the prior evening. Al suffered both from acute asthma and from serious hypertensive disorders; he told me and many others that he expected not to live very long. He explained to me that medications for either disease served to increase the level of the other, but that his attendance at protests served to relieve the symptoms of both diseases, leaving him in a welcome state of exhilaration.

Civil Rights Protestors In Chapel Hill

This is a protest at the Dairy Bar which was located where The Courtyard is today. The Dairy Bar had the best malted-milkshakes in North Carolina, and also served burgers, drinks, and fries at their sitdown counter. Blacks were not allowed sitdown service here or at the Colonial Drug Store across the street until the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1966.  

As protests in Chapel Hill gained more widespread attention, conservative forces in North Carolina expressed greater concern and became more openly critical of efforts to overturn existing State statutes that supported racial segregation. The prevailing view as expressed in the media was that the protests were led by communists on campus. Of interest is one of Jesse Helms' 5-minute editorials on TV station WRAL in the first week of June, 1963: he recommended that the NC legislature consider enacting an a law such as that proposed in Ohio to make illegal the presence of communists or communist sympathizers as speakers on state university campuses. At the time, Helms’ suggestion appeared to have been largely ignored.

Jesse Helms 1963 WRAL

Jesse Helms believed that the Civil Rights movement in Chapel Hill was being inspired by communists who were coming to speak at UNC.

Al Amon reported to me on the morning of June 11 about his traumatic experience in Raleigh on the previous evening when he had driven to the Sir Walter Raleigh Hotel, transporting three young African-American women who intended to try to register for a room that night. The hotel at that time served many NC legislators when the legislature was in session as it was then. Legislators were aware that a demonstration was afoot and had lined two-and-three deep on both sides of the path from the doorway to the registration desk so that the three young ladies were subject to extreme verbal abuse as they walked in to register. Of course, they were denied. Al stayed outside, but when asked by a legislator who he was and where he was employed, he stated that he was Al Amon, Assistant Professor in the Psychometric Lab at UNC (as Al told me and as also reported in the front-page story of the News & Observer of June 11, 1963). As he and I talked, Al was called by phone and asked to report to the office of Chancellor William Aycock. Al then returned to tell me that the Chancellor had received a call from a legislator in Raleigh, demanding that the Chancellor “fire that bastard Amon or else”. Aycock had replied that that was not the way the university did business. The Chancellor told Al that his Raleigh visit had created serious problems for the University, but that Al had the rights of every citizen to express himself freely so long as the expression remained within the law.

North Carolina Lunch-Counter Sit-In

The two blacks in this photo are sitting down "illegally" at this counter waiting for service. They were arrested soon after this picture was taken. 

North Carolina Secretary of State Thad Eure observed the demonstration at the hotel on June 10 and was asked by Legislator Philip Goodwin (who was among those in the hotel lobby on June 10) to find some means of retribution "when UNC officials refused to discipline professors involved in the Raleigh protests". (Note that no professor other than Amon was present at the protests, Amon at that time had never been a protestor. He was an observer and a photographer, although later in 1963 and in early 1964, he became an active demonstrator at the Watts restaurant in Chapel Hill.) Eure acquired a copy of the Ohio proposal, adapted it for NC, and delivered it to Godwin on Tuesday, June 25. That same day it passed both the House and the Senate as HR 1395 and both bodies adjourned for the year. Eure boasted that he “kept it quiet between Monday and Wednesday from Governor Sanford". It was kept quiet from President Friday as well, and until its edition of Thursday, June 27, the N&O had published no report of the Act having been passed.

UNC President Bill Friday

Bill Friday was the University of North Carolina President when the Speaker Ban law was enacted and fought hard to overturn it.

Eure has said, "It is absolutely correct to say the sit-ins [at the Sir Walter Hotel] were partly the motivation behind the [Speaker Ban Bill]". Another North Caolina legislator, "If you have to single out one issue to say what triggered it, it was Al Lowenstein [and the white professors] demonstrating in front of the Sir Walter Hotel filled with legislators from rural North Carolina". (Lowenstein was not present and as noted, the only professor there was Al Amon, not a participant, although having provided transportation for the three who were.)

Of course other issues also were in play, but had Amon not gone to the hotel on June 10, I believe there would not have enough heat to have generated by devious means and without debate HR1395 as it was enacted on June 25.

Chapel Hill Civil Rights Freedom March

Alnert Amon took many photo of civil rights demonstration in Chapel Hill including the one above.

Later in 1963, Amon testified as a witness in Judge Raymond Mallard’s Orange County Superior Court. He then was charged by Judge Mallard with “inducing and procuring” another professor to trespass. Amon apologetically asked me for a loan of $500, the amount ordered by the judge to avoid arrest and detention; I was able to do so (and the loan was later repaid). The demonstrations and the Hillsboro trials are discussed in detail in John Ehle, The Free Men (1965) New York: Harper & Row. Several of Amon’s photographs are in that book, and many more are in the North Carolina Collection in Wilson Library.

In late summer, 1964, Al awoke at about 2am to walk to the medicine cabinet for asthma inhalator. Tragically, he collapsed in the enjoining room and died.
 

 

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Chapel Hill in the Era of Sex, Drugs, and Rock N' Roll

by Charly Mann

The post Vietnam era of the 1970s was probably the least stressful time to live in Chapel Hill. It was the time of sex, drugs, and rock n roll. UNC students had little worry in those days about finding a good job after graduating. Most young people were carefree about sex, and there was no need for men to use condoms since every girl seemed to be on the pill and there was no AIDS .Chapel Hill even had a "massage" parlor on West Franklin street where men could pay to have sex for less than $50. Marijuana was plentiful and cheap, and for those with a little money cocaine was the drug of choice around town.

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Edwin Fuller's SEA-GIFT describes 1864 Chapel Hill

by Charly Mann

Edwin W. Fuller was a student at UNC from 1864 to 1867, and in his great, but largely forgotten, autobiographical novel the Sea-Gift (published in 1873) provides the first literary description about student life at the University of North Carolina. He was from Louisburg, a small town about 70 miles northeast of Chapel Hill, and was only 16 when he started at Carolina.

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Help Save the Chapel Hill Museum

by Charly Mann

I recently completed a cross country trip along Route 66 visiting more than three dozen small and medium sized towns along the way. Towns ranging in size from 500 to 30,000 all had one or more local museums celebrating their history that were largely funded by the local government. A city as vibrant, large, and with as much important history as Chapel Hill needs a public museum to celebrate its glorious past.

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Please Share Your Chapel Hill Memories

by Charly Mann

Outskirts of Chapel Hill
Outskirts of Chapel Hill in 1954 near current location of Eastgate Shopping Center. The highway to Durham was then an uncrowded two lane road.

What makes Chapel Hill great? For me it is three things, the people, the location, and the enduring charm of the campus and downtown.

From its inception the town has been the home of one of most diverse, creative, and often eccentric group of individuals in the nation. As a result Chapel Hill is a thriving community that has a history of innovative one-of-a-kind restaurants, bookstores, bars, and clothing stores. There is also an array of natural and architectural beauty on the campus and downtown that creates an atmosphere that emotionally binds one to the place.

South Building and The Old Well
South Building and The Old Well in May of 1963

Unlike most towns that arise because of commercial consideration, Chapel Hill's location was primarily chosen because of its magnificent forest and scenic terrain. The town is an oasis of ancient trees, historic buildings, and great traditions. It is also home to some of the friendliest people on the planet. The clear blue sky, that is most often overhead, adds another charm to the place.

Chapel Hill has long had a special music in its air that could be heard nowhere else. It goes back to the guitar and mandolin ensembles that were popular on campus in the late 19th century and continued through the enormously successful UNC bands of Hal Kemp and Kay Kyser in the 1920s, 30s, and 40s. Since the 1960s Chapel Hill's music scene has been an incubator for great musical talents that have included James Taylor, Arrogance, Mike CrossJim Wann, Bland Simpson, and the Squirrel Nut Zippers.

Chapel Hill guitar players
This is an illustration from 1902 when Chapel Hill was the music capital of the world. Guitar players came from all over the country to live here and join a band. This is a part of Chapel Hill history that very few people have ever heard of today .

More than anything else Chapel Hill is the home to a university where the brightest youth in North Carolina come to improve their minds and body, and often leave with the ability to achieve their dreams.

Chapel Hill logo

Chapel Hill Memories was created so that all former and current Chapel Hill residents can have an opportunity to share their recollections about this wonderful community. We also encourage our readers to do research and conduct interviews with older Chapel Hill residents. Please help preserve the memories of this town. Send your collections to: chmemories@gmail.com.

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Chapel Hill a Hundred Years Ago

by Charly Mann

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Inside the Anti-War Movement at UNC in the 1960s

 by Charly Mann

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Chapel Hill Is Your Town Too

Chapel Hill Memories is meant to be a collaborative effort in which people relate their memories of the people, places, and events in Chapel Hill's past. Since its inception, I have been encouraging others to submit articles to Chapel Hill Memories. Thus far it has been almost exclusively me writing about my experiences and historical research I have done on the community. I am now beginning an indefinite hiatus from writing new articles for Chapel Hill Memories, and urge others to begin contributing their own recollections.

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The Racist Origin of the term Tar Heel

by Charly Mann

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Chapel Hill in the late 1950s

by Charly Mann

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Downtown Chapel Hill - A Safe & Fun Destination

by Susan Prothro Worley

The destination of choice for Chapel Hill kids in the 1960s was Franklin Street. I don't remember that area being referred to then as downtown. Whenever anyone I knew was headed that way, we said we were going "uptown," probably because that part of Franklin Street sits at the top of the hill that defines our town.

Sutton's Drug Store

Friends enjoying a meal at Suttons Drug Store on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill

Franklin Street plays a central role in our memories of Chapel Hill just as it plays a central role in our town. It's Franklin Street that forms the backdrop for many of the things we remember best. Not only personal childhood experiences took place on Franklin Street - for me that would be going to the movies at the Carolina or Varsity, eating pizza at the Rat, browsing at the Intimate - but it's also the place we traditionally gather as a community, whether for the Beat Dook parade, street festivals, protest marches, or basketball celebrations.

Stone Wall on Franklin Street

Enjoying coffee and great conversation on the stone wall next to the UNC campus on the south side of Franklin Street in downtown Chapel Hill.

Looking back at a time we can never return to, it's natural to think of that past as a better era. When I was a child, there was much lamenting over the loss of our village atmosphere. A regular Chapel Hill Weekly series, Looking Back, included stories from past decades, highlighting the small town atmosphere of an earlier period. As much as I loved my hometown, from a young age I felt a sense of loss that Chapel Hill was no longer the special village it had been before I arrived. Along with that sense of loss, I felt some guilt because my family, having shown up in 1960, was part of the problem. It was because of newcomers like us that a formerly wooded area was carved into the developments of Coker Hills and Lake Forest. Without us, Eastgate Shopping Center may never have been built and Estes Hills Elementary School wouldn't have been necessary.

Miss Chapel Hill 2022

The face of a young girl strolling down Franklin Street near the Kidzu Museum

There I was though, along with my newly arrived neighbors and classmates, contributing to change and development but claiming Chapel Hill as our own just as generations before us had done.

At that time, Chapel Hill was a town where dogs roamed free and so did kids. Safety was not an issue we gave a lot of thought to. We biked and walked around town and campus without a sense of boundaries or fear.

Rooftop Eating and Music

Locally Grown Rooftop Music and Movies Series is held in downtown Chapel Hill on top of the Wallace Parking Deck during the summer.

When I think back to those childhood days uptown, it's easy to recall various experiences that might make the police blotter today. However, we didn't associate such episodes with a place or with a time period. We learned that scary things can happen in the world but, just because they sometimes happened on Franklin Street, that didn't mean Franklin Street was a threatening place to be.

Carolina Blue Eyes

Carolina blue eyes in a future Tar Heel scholar

Recently, a handful of Franklin Street merchants began expressing their frustrations about crime, street people, and the lack of parking downtown. It struck me as odd, first because it didn't match my reality of the vibrant place I visit. What was really puzzling was that it was coming from people who had every reason to promote a positive image of Franklin Street. It wasn't long before I started hearing the same rumblings from friends - not based on their experiences but on those complaints that were now being perceived as fact. It only takes a short time before rumors become conventional wisdom. And of course there are people who can come up with a negative story about an experience on Franklin Street...or any other street in America. Just as has been true in past times though, those random incidents don't define the place.

Michael Brown Mural Chapel Hill

Michael Brown mural on the side of the NCNB building in downtown Chapel Hill

We warmly remember past characters of Franklin Street, chuckling at their eccentricities. Is it possible that some of the so-called street people sitting on a bench uptown could be the Franklin Street characters of today? The only way to find out is to get to know them.

The Diversity of Downtown Life

The diversity of life in downtown Chapel Hill

Today many of the places and people we recall from our own childhoods on Franklin Street are gone. Just as people in the 60s lamented the loss of the village, it's easy for us in 2010 to dwell on the things we miss from our own pasts. There is a whole new generation of children though, and a new crop of students, and newcomers to town, and they are creating memories of their own. They may enjoy the view from Top of the Hill, marvel at Michael Brown's murals, check out the caricatures of local celebrities at Spanky's, or take their children to Kidzu Museum.

Ben & Jerry's Chapel Hill

Enjoying Ben & Jerry Ice Cream on West Franklin street in Chapel Hill

For newcomers and oldtimers alike, there are plenty of merchants to counter the negativity of those whose glass is perennially half empty. Locally owned, thriving Franklin Street businesses, places like Med Deli, Chapel Hill Sportswear, The Varsity, and Chapel Hill Comics, are too busy serving happy customers to spend their time complaining.

Happy Children Chapel Hill

Two young people on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill

A site like chapelhillmemories is a draw for those of us who remember the good old days. But it takes nothing away from yesterday's creaky wood floors at the Intimate Book Store to acknowledge the fun of identifying North Carolina musicians pictured on the walls of today's Pepper's Pizza. The joys of a small town have given way to the vibrancy of a small city. Missing the former shouldn't stop us from embracing the latter. If we do, we miss out on the very place that defines our community, uptown Chapel Hill.

Susan Prothro Worley has been the personification of Chapel Hill  for the last five decades. She eats and breathes  the place, and Carolina blue blood runs through her veins. She loves the history of the town, and adores its present. There is very little she does not like about Chapel Hill. She is the Executive Director of Orange County's Volunteers for Youth.

 

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The Bloody History of UNC in the Civil War

by Charly Mann

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Walking Map and Tour of Historic Chapel Hill

by Charly Mann

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Lesson of a Chapel Hill Paperboy - The One-Cent Week

by Stanley Peele

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The History of Television in Chapel Hill

by Charly Mann

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The History of Chapel Hill, North Carolina

by Charly Mann

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Chapel Hill and the 1963 Speaker Ban Law

by Charly Mann

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Indecency Wave Hits Chapel Hill

by Charly Mann

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Happy Days in Chapel Hill

Life in Chapel Hill in the late 1940's and early 1950's was simple. In most ways it was the best time to live in Chapel Hill. In the photo below from the middle of August 1952 Chapel Hill High School freshmen Richard Gunter, Gene Smith and Clyde Campbell drink fountain Cokes between two-a-days training for the Chapel Hill High School football team. The Cokes were then 5 cents. They are sitting on the grass in front of the "new" auditorium at Chapel Hill High School on West Franklin Street and now the site of University Square Plaza.

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Slavery In Chapel Hill

by Charly Mann

While Chapel Hill has a reputation for being a progressive and liberal place, it was not long ago when slaves were a fundamental part of the town and University. Many of the town's building including The Chapel of the Cross were built with slave labor. Also many students had their personal slaves with them while attending the University.

Runaway Slave Reward, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 1939

Twenty-Dollar Reward. 1839

Ran off from the university, on the night of the 20th instant, a negro man by the names of JAMES, who has for the last four years attended at Chapel Hill in the capacity of a college servant. He is of dark complexion, in stature five feet six or eight inches high, and compactly constructed; speaks quick and with ease, and has the habit of shaking his head in conversation. He is of doubtless well dressed, and has a considerable quantity of clothing. He is presumed that he will make for Norfolk or Richmond with the view of taking passage for some of the free states, or of going on and associating himself with the Colonization Society. It is supposed that he has with him a horse of the following description: a sorrel roan, four feet six or seven inches high, hind feet white, with a very long tail, which where it joins the body it white of flax colour. A premium of twenty dollars will be given for the apprehension of said slave. The subscriber would request any one who may apprehend the boy to direct their communication to Chapel Hill.

In 1790 there were 2060 slaves living in and around Chapel Hill. By 1860 fully one third of the population of Orange County were slaves. In Chapel Hill most slaves did household work or labored in carpentry and construction. The University also had slaves as cooks and maintenance workers.

On the positive side, almost a quarter of a century before the Civil War, on October 22, 1834, the largest student group at UNC, the Dialectic Society, said that slavery should be abolished. Three years later, on March 11, 1937, they even proclaimed that the slave-holding states of the South should not secede from the Union.

A fascinating fact of North Carolina history is that even when slavery was legal there was a sizable free black population in the state. More than 20,000 of the free blacks even had the right to vote until 1835.

University of North Carolina students and black servant 1876, Chapel Hill

UNC Students in 1876 with black servant sitting in front

By 1876 slavery was illegal. Students now had "Negro servants" who did exactly the same work as student slaves had done before the Civil War.

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President John F Kennedy Comes to UNC Chapel Hill

by Charly Mann

On October 12th, 1961 President John F. Kennedy came to Chapel Hill to receive an honorary degree and make a speech at Kenan Stadium. I had been an admirer of the President since 1960, when I was in the fifth grade, and he responded to a letter I sent to him about protecting Martin Luther King. For some reason on this day I worried about his safety in the motorcade he would be traveling in up Raleigh Road to get to Kenan Stadium. I knew the hilly dense woods that overlooked much of this route because they were near my house on Greenwood Road, and I hiked through them several times a week. I sensed someone could easily find places to conceal themselves in this area to take a shot at the President. Luckily nothing happened, but decades later I learned from this audio interview (see player at bottom of this article) with the then President of the University, Bill Friday, that the Secret Service had many threats on the President's life to worry about when he came to Chapel Hill.

John F Kennedy, Kenan Stadium University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

I got up very early on the day of the speech to get good seats for it, and enjoyed seeing the President, and our equally charismatic then governor Terry Sanford, who introduced him. Luther Hodges, a long-time Chapel Hill resident and previous governor, was also there. He was then Kennedy's Secretary of Commerce.

Three years later there was a memorial for President Kennedy at Kenan Stadium, featuring Ted Kennedy and other members of the Kennedy family, which I also attended.

Following is the text of President Kennedy's Speech that day.

Mr. Chancellor, Governor Sanford, members of the faculty, ladies and gentlemen:

I am honored today to be admitted to the fellowship of this ancient and distinguished university, and I am pleased to receive in the short space of 1 or 2 minutes the honor for which you spend over 4 years of your lives. But whether the degree be honorary or earned, it is a proud symbol of this university and this State. North Carolina has long been identified with enlightened and progressive leaders and people, and I can think of no more important reason for that reputation than this university, which year after year has sent educated men and women who have had a recognition of their public responsibility as well as in their private interests.

Distinguished Presidents like President Graham and Gray, distinguished leaders like the Secretary of Commerce, Governor Hodges, distinguished members of the congressional delegation, carry out a tradition which stretches back to the beginning of this school, and that is that the graduate of this university is a man of his Nation as well as a man of his time. And it is my hope, in a changing world, when untold possibilities lie before North Carolina, and indeed the entire South and country, that this university will still hew to the old line of the responsibility that its graduates owe to the community at large--that in your time, too, you will be willing to give to the State and country a portion of your lives and all of your knowledge and all of your loyalty.

President Kennedy at UNC

I want to emphasize, in the great concentration which we now place upon scientists and engineers, how much we still need the men and women educated in the liberal traditions, willing to take the long look, undisturbed by prejudices and slogans of the moment, who attempt to make an honest judgment on difficult events. This university has a more important function today than ever before, and therefore I am proud as President of the United States, and as a graduate of a small land grant college in Massachusetts, Harvard University, to come to this center of education.

Those of you who regard my profession of political life with some disdain should remember that it made it possible for me to move from being an obscure lieutenant in the United States Navy to Commander-in-Chief in 14 years, with very little technical competence. But more than that, I hope that you will realize that from the beginning of this country, and especially in North Carolina, there has been the closest link between educated men and women and politics and government. And also to remember that our nation's first great leaders were also our first great scholars.

A contemporary described Thomas Jefferson as "a gentleman of 32 who could calculate an eclipse, survey an estate, tie an artery, plan an edifice, try a cause, break a horse, dance the minuet, and play the violin." John Quincy Adams, after being summarily dismissed by the Massachusetts Legislature from the United States Senate for supporting Thomas Jefferson, could then become Boylston Professor of Rhetoric and Oratory at Harvard University, and then become a great Secretary of State.
And Senator Daniel Webster could stroll down the corridors of the Congress a few steps, after making some of the greatest speeches in the history of this country, and dominate the Supreme Court as the foremost lawyer of his day.

 This versatility, this vitality, this intellectual energy, put to the service of our country, represents our great resource in these difficult days. I would urge you, therefore, regardless of your specialty, and regardless of your chosen field or occupation, and regardless of whether you bear office or not, that you recognize the contribution which you can make as educated men and women to intellectual and political leadership in these difficult days, when the problems are infinitely more complicated and come with increasing speed, with increasing significance, in our lives than they were a century ago when so many gifted men dominated our political life. The United States Senate had more able men serving in it, from the period of 1830 to 1850, than probably any time in our history, and yet they dealt with three or four problems which they had dealt with for over a generation.

Now they come day by day, from all parts of the world. Even the experts find themselves confused, and therefore in a free society such as this, where the people must make an educated judgment, they depend upon those of you who have had the advantage of the scholar's education.I ask you to give to the service of our country the critical faculties which society has helped develop in you here. I ask you to decide, as Goethe put it, "whether you will be an anvil or a hammer," whether you will give the United States, in which you were reared and educated, the broadest possible benefits of that education.

It's not enough to lend your talents to deploring present solutions. Most educated men and women on occasions prefer to discuss what is wrong, rather than to suggest alternative courses of action. But, "would you have counted him a friend of ancient Greece," as George William Curtis asked a body of educators a century ago, "would you have counted him a friend of ancient Greece who quietly discussed the theory of patriotism on that hot summer day through whose hopeless and immortal hours Leonidas and the three hundred stood at Thermopylae for liberty? Was John Milton to conjugate Greek verbs in his library when the liberty of Englishmen was imperiled?"

This is a great institution with a great tradition and with devoted alumni, and with the support of the people of this State. Its establishment and continued functioning, like that of all great universities, has required great sacrifice by the people of North Carolina. I cannot believe that all of this is undertaken merely to give this school's graduates an economic advantage in the lifestruggle.

"A university," said Professor Woodrow Wilson, "should be an organ of memory for the State, for the transmission of its best traditions." And Prince Bismarck was even more specific. "One third of the students of German universities," he once said, "'broke down from over-work, another third broke down from dissipation, and the other third ruled Germany." I leave it to each of you to decide in which category you will fall.

I do not suggest that our political and public life should be turned over to college trained experts, nor would I give this university a seat in the Congress, as William and Mary was once represented in the Virginia House of Burgesses, nor would I adopt from the Belgian constitution a provision giving three votes instead of one to college graduates--at least not until more Democrats go to college. But I do hope that you join us.

John F Kennedy letter to Charly Mann, Chapel Hill, NC October 1960
Letter I received from John F Kennedy about a year before this speech

This university produces trained men and women, and what this country needs are those who look, as the motto of your State says, at things as they are and not at things as they seem to be. For this meeting is held at an extraordinary time. Angola and Algeria, Brazil and Bizerte, Syria and South Viet-Nam, Korea or Kuwait, the Dominican Republic, Berlin, the United Nations itself--all problems which 20 years ago we could not even dream of.

Our task in this country is to do our best, to serve our Nation's interest as we see 'it, and not to be swayed from our course by the faint-hearted or the unknowing, or the threats of those who would make themselves our foes. This is not a simple task in a democracy. We cannot open all our books in advance to an adversary who operates in the night, the decisions we make, the weapons we possess, the bargains we will accept--nor can we always see reflected overnight the success or failure of the actions that we may take.

In times past, a simple slogan described our policy: "Fifty-four-forty or fight." "To make the world safe for democracy." "No entangling alliances." But the times, issues, and the weapons, all have changed--and complicate and endanger our lives. It is a dangerous illusion to believe that the policies of the United States, stretching as they do world-wide, under varying and different conditions, can be encompassed in one slogan or one adjective, hard or soft or otherwise-or to believe that we shall soon meet total victory or total defeat.

John F Kennedy Tribute Kenan Stadium, Chapel Hill, May 1964


This is the program from the John F. Kennedy tribute at Kenan Stadium on May 17, 1964

Peace and freedom do not come cheap, and we are destined, all of us here today, to live out most if not all of our lives in uncertainty and challenge and peril. Our policy must therefore blend whatever degree of firmness and flexibility which is necessary to protect our vital interests, by peaceful means if possible, by resolute action if necessary. There is, of course, no place in America where reason and firmness are more clearly pointed out than here in North Carolina. All Americans can profit from what happened in this State a century ago. It was this State, firmly fixed in the traditions of the South, which sought a way of reason in a troubled and dangerous world. Yet when the War came, North Carolina provided a fourth of all of the Confederate soldiers who made the supreme sacrifice in those years. And it won the right to the slogan, "First at Bethel. Farthest to the front at Gettysburg and Chickamauga. Last at Appomattox."

Its quest for a peaceful resolution of our problems was never identified in the minds of its people, of people today, with anything but a desire for peace and a preparation to meet their responsibilities. We move for the first time in our history through an age in which two opposing powers have the capacity to destroy each other, and while we do not intend to see the free world give up, we shall make every effort to prevent the world from being blown up.

 The American Eagle on our official seal emphasizes both peace and freedom, and as I said in the State of the Union Address, we in this country give equal attention to its claws when it in its left hand holds the arrows and in its right the olive branch. This is a time of national maturity, understanding, and willingness to face issues as they are, not as we would like them to be. It is a test of our ability to be far-seeing and calm, as well as resolute, to keep an eye on both our dangers and our opportunities, and not to be diverted by momentary gains, or setbacks, or pressures. And it is the long view of the educated citizen to which the graduates of this university can best contribute.
We must distinguish the real from the illusory, the long-range from the temporary, the significant from the petty, but if we can be purposeful, if we can face up to our risks and live up to our word, if we can do our duty undeterred by fanatics or frenzy at home or abroad, then surely peace and freedom can prevail. We shall be neither Red nor dead, but alive and free--and worthy of the traditions and responsibilities of North Carolina and the United States of America.

Chapel Hill on the day President Kennedy Died

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The Civil Rights Movement in Chapel Hill, Part One

 by Charly Mann

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Life in Chapel Hill in 1930

In the above-illustrated portraits of Chapel Hill from 1930, you will note several groups of students hitchhiking toward Durham. In those days the streets were packed with students urging every car that went by to pick them up. If the car did not stop, it was common for the students to make rude jesters and catcalls at the driver. Durham offered these young men more restaurants, theaters, stores, and girls than Chapel Hill.

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The Best and Worst of Times for Chapel Hill Women

by Charly Mann

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Chapel Hill Veterans Remember D-Day

On the 20th anniversary of D-Day the Chapel Hill Weekly published the following piece in which they spoke to four Chapel Hillians who had participated in the historic D-DAY invasion that set up the defeat of Hitler’s Germany and the Allied Victory in Europe on May 8, 1945.

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History of the Chapel Hill Flower Ladies

by Charly Mann

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Chapel Hill - From Tiny Village to Small Town

by Charly Mann

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History of Chapel Hill from 1818 to 1927

by Charly Mann

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Growing Up in Chapel Hill in the 1950s and 60s

by Charly Mann

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Chapel Hill and UNC during World War II

by Charly Mann

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How Chapel Hill Became the Southern Part of Heaven

by Charly Mann

Chapel Hill has been the Southern Part Of Heaven since a book of that name was published in 1950 by William Meade Prince (1893-1951). Prince grew up in Chapel Hill, and was an accomplished illustrator. The book is an illustrated story about his youth in Chapel Hill at the turn of the 20th century. In subsequent installments on this website I will publish some excerpts from it.

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Chapel Hill Before It Was Chapel Hill

by Charly Mann

Chapel Hill did not become a legally recogonized town until 1854. There would be no Chapel Hill if the General Assembly of North Carolina in 1789 had not wanted to establish a state University that was centrally located and easily accessed from all parts of the state. When state surveyors convened on the area that is now Chapel Hill, all that was there was deep forest and the ruins of an old church. The location was almost exactly in the center of the then populated areas of the state.

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A Brief History of Franklin Street

by Charly Mann

Central Franklin Street was lined with an assortment of poorly constructed stores that looked more like shacks until about 1920. After a fire that destroyed most of the stores on the north side of the street, buildings made of brick began sprouting up. By 1935 Franklin Street achieved the look that it maintained until 1971, when the NCNB Plaza was built and became the main eyesore of downtown.

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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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