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Chapel Hill Cowboys of the 1950s

by Charly Mann

Chapel Hill was once inhabited by a large number of cowboys. They were all very young men and women who had been mentored by Roy Rogers, The Lone Ranger, Wild Bill Hickok, and Annie Oakley on Saturday mornings. They learned from their heroes to always be polite, and that it was their duty to protect the weak, as well as rid Chapel Hill of any outlaws and villains. As old fashioned as it may sound today, Chapel Hill's cowboys and cowgirls believed that families always stayed together, and that courteous and well-groomed people were almost always good.


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Bill Chamberlain      6:14 AM Fri 10/21/2011

I miss your articles about Chapel Hill, and hope you will continue soon with more pieces.

Anne Battle      6:25 PM Wed 9/14/2011

I had an Annie Oakley leather skirt, vest, and hat, as well as an authentic cap shooting Annie Oakley rifle that I used to protect Tenney Circle.

Bill A      4:31 PM Wed 9/14/2011

Well, just goes to show you, Charly, how refined Chapel Hill was compared to High Point! ;) I was never part of a gang, then or now, but did regard Lash LaRue, he of the all black outfit, as a notch or two above Roy Rogers. (Rumor has it he taught Harrison Ford how to use a bullwhip for the Indiana Jones role.) Seems to me there was a Circle K Club for kids at the Saturday morning Broadhurst Theater showings. If the offering there was weak, we might roam to one of the additional 4 - count 'em, 4 - movies in downtown High Point. Those would be the Center, Paramount, Rialto and, last but not least, the Carolina. Big time stuff! And fun to be a kid then.

Andy Hess      8:38 PM Tue 9/13/2011

I knew you as Charles Mann at Glennwood School in fourth grade. As I recall you were always making me laugh. I wish I had been a member of "The Good Guys".

M. Harris      10:26 AM Tue 9/13/2011

Like you I am a baby boomer, and I remember our family getting one of first TVs in Chapel Hill. Many of the the kids in our neighborhood came over in the afternoon to watch the Captain Five show on WRAL and the Mickey Mouse Club.

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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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