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The Kidnapping of Ramses

by Charly Mann

Ramses has been the mascot of the UNC Tarheels since 1924, when a ram was taken to the UNC-VMI football game. In that game the UNC kicker, Jack Merritt, rubbed his head against the ram before he attempted a crucial field goal, which won the game. After the game Merritt was labeled “The Battling Ram” Merritt, and the ram became the Tarheel mascot.

Original Ramses 1925

In 1970, I was twenty and managing a record store in Durham. I shared a small cabin between Durham and Chapel Hill on Erwin road with two Duke students, one of whom worked in my store. His name is Peter Heath. In early February, a friend of Peter’s, who was also a Duke student, turned up at our place with a surprise – the Tarheel mascot Ramses. His name was Chuck "Butch" Skinner, and he had discovered the secret location where Ramses was kept (It was at Hogan's Farm). Skinner said  that the hard part of the abduction was getting the Ram into the back seat of his Chevrolet Camaro, and then taking it over to our place. As the only Tarheel in the conspiracy, I felt a bit of disloyalty in helping hide the ram, but applauded the ingenuity and boldness of the perpetrator. Ramses stayed with us at least a week in an old tractor shed behind our house. I remember him being quite friendly, and not the least bit distressed about his abduction. I would often go out to see Ramses, and bring him grass or water. At the end of that week was the classic Duke-Carolina basketball game played at Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium. The day before, Skinner came back over to dye Ramses a deep rich dark Duke blue. That Saturday, February 28, Ramses was released on the floor of Cameron in his new Duke Blue colors, causing quite a commotion as the few UNC students in attendance ran out to rescue him.

This is Ramses at our place with two Duke Students, Chuck Skinner on the right, and Peter's girlfriend, Heloise, on the left 

That week was not a good one for Ramses or Carolina; Duke won the basketball game 91-83.

I have never wavered in my loyalty and love for Carolina, and just a few years later would become a member of the UNC Ram’s Club.

This is located at aproximatey 4600 Erwin Road

In November of 1933 bells began ringing after midnight throughout the University of North Carolina campus on the Thursday night before the UNC-Duke Football game. Awakened students were alerted that Duke students had just taken Ramses from his pen behind the Carolina Inn.

Students rushed to their automobiles throughout the campus, and more than 200 students raced toward Durham and the Duke Campus with the intent of recovering their mascot. There was a lot of yelling and honking of horns when they reached Duke, but they could not find Ramses. When they returned they were told it was all a hoax. What had actually happened was that some students had moved Ramses to a farm outside of town, and then spread the rumor of him being stolen to stimulate "college spirit". 



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R Gunter      12:01 PM Fri 5/6/2011

Please redo to include the factual info from below.<br \><br \>[edit] Origin<br \>The origin of a ram as Carolina&#39;s mascot dates back to 1924. In 1922, the star fullback, Jack Merritt, was given the nickname &quot;the battering ram&quot; for his performance on the field. Vic Huggins, Carolina&#39;s head cheerleader at the time, suggested the idea of a ram mascot to the athletic business manager, Charles T. Woollen, and had the idea approved. Charles gave Vic $25 to purchase a ram. Rameses the First was shipped from Texas, just in time for the pep rally.<br \><br \>The first appearance of Rameses was at a pep rally before the football game against Virginia Military Institute on November 8, 1924.[2][3][4] After the pep rally the ram was taken to Emerson Field. Through three quarters the game was scoreless. Late in the fourth quarter Bunn Hackney was called out to attempt a field goal. Before stepping out on the field he rubbed Rameses&#39; head. Just a few seconds later Hackney kicked a 30-yard field goal that eventually won the game for the Tar Heels; the final score was 3-0. Rameses has been a fixture on the sidelines at UNC football games ever since. The current Rameses ram is under the care of the Hogan family of Chapel Hill.<br \><br \>The origin of the costumed version of Rameses is unknown. The costumed Rameses appears primarily at UNC basketball games.<br \>

Alan Reed      11:09 AM Sat 3/21/2009

I recall that a pretty Carolina coed around this time made &quot;fake&quot; advances at the Duke student who dressed as the BLUE DEVIL mascot. She got into his room, and took his outfit. The embarrased mascot had to dress in a old and ragged uniform for the next several Duke games.

Gerry Kohn      3:13 PM Fri 3/20/2009

Does UNC still have a real ram? Everytime I see a Carolina basketball or football game they have a person dressed in a ram outfit.

Jack89      5:53 PM Thu 3/19/2009

I wonder what the reaction on the UNC campus was to this kidnapping.

Ben Friday      4:38 PM Thu 3/19/2009

I think you may be the Forest Gump of Chapel Hill.

Dave Overstreet      3:40 PM Thu 3/19/2009

What is amazing is that one Duke student did this by himself.

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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


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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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