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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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Bo Phillips      10:15 AM Thu 1/26/2012

Thanks for the 1960s portrait of Chapel Hill's "upper crust". Two of my sisters went to DA for a few years at that modest cost. Now my daughter teaches physics at DA...and her students pay about 20 times what it cost back in our day. As for me, I now live in a modest ranch home in northern California that is worth more than a million bucks.

Sybil Skakle      1:09 PM Wed 1/25/2012

Our money is cheap these days. Everything costs more because a dollar is not worth a dollar anymore. It is only worth 10cents, maybe. Our debt is too big and other countries own too much of us. Too much of our resources go out of the country. We are getting poorer and poorer. <br \><br \>I receive more in retirement monthly than either my husband or I ever earned. When he was making 50 dollars a week, I thought we&#39;d have it made if he ever got up to $100/ weekly. A teacher, he made $2600.00 a year in 1952 and we bought a house for $6,900 and a used car for $600.00. We had to live frugally and carefully. We had no savings. And our second child was born the next year. We had no medical insurance, but were able to pay the doctor bill before the next June, a year after his birth. <br \><br \>

Bill A      6:43 PM Tue 1/24/2012

Wow! The layers just keep peeling off, Charly. Amazing detail and fascinating perspective the reader can create from your narrative. My sense is that most of us who might be viewing your blog don&#39;t feel financially at a disadvantage - but do a double take at the incomes and prices from the late 60s. I remember learning the income of a successful High Point salesperson in the late 50s who made about $12,000./yr, and thought that was pretty much at the top rung. Turns out I wasn&#39;t all that far off!

Gretchen Haden      12:27 PM Tue 1/24/2012

Looking back at those times do the people you profiled seem rich by today&#39;s standards?

Bob Jurgensen      7:49 PM Mon 1/23/2012

Based on all these figures, it&#39;s almost, with perhaps the only exception being a color TV that costs $700 back then, an inflation factor of about 1000% or 10X what it costs back then. $200,000+ today is certainly borderline &quot;rich&quot; or at least well off, by all standards. Good article, I enjoyed reading it Charly.

Reed Harrison      7:11 PM Mon 1/23/2012

Hey Charly,<br \><br \>I am really curious about the ten families you gave your questionnaire to and the four who responded. Since this was done so long ago is there anyway you might release some of the names?<br \><br \>

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Bite Sized Facts Link for Useful facts, financial success, universal truths, and great health info

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


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.



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



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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