by Charly Mann
There is nothing like the excitement and anticipation of Christmas morning when you are kid. On Christmas morning in 1957 I was 8 years old and living with my family on Old Mill Road in Chapel Hill. The night before I had hardly slept anticipating what presents Santa might have left for me under our tree. I have always been an early riser, and that morning I got up at 5:00 AM and began creeping down the long hallway from my bedroom past the rooms of my siblings and my parents before I reached our large living room where our tree was located. Bleary-eyed, I entered the darkened room from the opposite side of where the tree and presents were located, and was amazed that there was something covering the floor directly in front of me. As I looked down my eyes began to focus on a large miniature castle filled with an assortment of knights. It was one of the most indelible and incredible sights I have ever beheld. I could never have imagined such a marvelous thing, and somehow Santa had not only brought me the best present ever, but he had set it up with great care. I stood motionless for several minutes absorbing every detail of the large castle and the dozens of knights, some even on horseback, converging near the drawbridge.
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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.