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Freddie Kiger

85 And Counting

I love it when history plays a trump card.  One’s been played Saturday when the Heels host the ACC-departing Maryland Terrapins.  It’s November 24th and that makes this date the 85th to-the-day anniversary of the Dedication Game played in Kenan Stadium back in 1927.   Then, the Heels faced their arch-rival Virginia and the game, as tradition demanded, was played on Thanksgiving Day.  Now, it was not the first game in Kenan. That one was back on November 12 when Carolina thrashed Davidson 27-0.  Saturday, the 24th, was when Kenan Memorial Stadium was “officially” dedicated.       To prepare, I visited the North Carolina Collection in Wilson Library and with a November 24, 1927 DTH in front of me, I totally lost myself in the photos, stories and advertisements from the paper’s 16-page special edition.  Within, I learned that before the 2:00 PM kick-off, one could catch Laura La Plante starring in “Silk Stockings” down at the Carolina Theatre.  Pritchard-Patterson University Outfitters could put you in a suit for as little as $35.  Foister’s suggested trying their “up-to-date” soda fountain and Sutton and Alderman’s Drug Store trumpeted itself as “The Student’s Drug Store.”       Back on the 12th, some 9,000 attended the Davidson game but this day was different.  Capacity in Kenan was 24,000.  And 28,000 showed up—10 times the student body.  All 41 tiers in each of...

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Franklin Street Of Sighs

This week a topic for Homecoming.  I started thinking about it last Sunday morning.  It was quiet downtown—a good time for reflection.  Alone, I shuffled past storefronts and took a perch on the wall that separates town and gown.  My thoughts were interrupted by a father and his three kids.  From head to foot they were in Carolina Blue and, from all the pointing and gesticulating, the dad was telling his kids of days gone by.    His delight in telling those stories was obvious and rewarded for his audience of three smiled and laughed.  After one story, he grew silent.  He looked up and down the street and I watched him sigh.  For a few minutes, he was a student again.  No worries about job or adult responsibility.  The power and magic of Franklin Street at work again.  It brings you back whenever you want it—whenever you need it.       Many years ago, then UNC Sports Publicist Jake Wade was quite aware of the potion mixed here when he wrote that Chapel Hill and Franklin Street are places “touched by a strange magic.”  He was right.  Like a spider’s web, the two grab hold of all who come here and the experience is so profound we’re reluctant to be released.  Perhaps, because of what Wade meant when he noted this place “has no rivers, no mountains, no...

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Heel, Ram, Gym, Java

  OK, for our game against football arch-rival NC State, stories about a Heel, a ram, a gym and java.  First, the timeless question, “What’s a Tar Heel?” Well, there are several versions but, for the one I’ve heard most, let’s return to NC’s colonial history. We have a lot of pine trees and, along the coast where our state’s history began, tall long-leaf pines.    Those “boys” were the basis for our colonial economy—tar, pitch and turpentine.    Visitors to North Carolina recounted and recorded the spectacle of seeing many barefooted North Carolinians who regularly walked through these long-leaf pine forests and, because of it, bore tarred resin on the bottom of their heels.    The tree and naval stores became so associated with our colony and state, it, of course, became not only our state’s nickname but this University’s moniker. Now for many years, being called a “Tar Heel” was a slap in the face.  The term implied a backward rube but, interestingly, the Civil War helped to change all that. The story goes that it was in the spring of 1864 when, after a battle in Virginia, a group of Virginians and North Carolinians hooted at one another.  After being teased about whether there was any tar left down in the Old North State, one North Carolinian retorted that maybe some more should be found and placed...

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More Than An Old Well Walk

Today, we’re going to accessorize the Old Well Walk.  Many of you may gather Saturday morning to watch UNC players and coaches lumber from the Old Well to Kenan Stadium.  Well, as they go to perhaps make history, they’re wading through waves of it.    First off, the Old Well itself.  It’s perhaps our most recognizable landmark.  Word is that if you take a sip of water there at the start of each semester, you’re guaranteed a 4.0 that term.  Early on, it had even more importance.    Back in the 18th-century, it was the tiny campus’ sole source for water.  The structure we see today was created in 1897 thanks to UNC President Edwin Anderson Alderman and Professor J. W. Gore.  Alderman ordered the former structure dismantled and, with the help of Professor Gore, the landmark we enjoy was erected.  Modeled after the Temple of Love at Versailles, a local lumber company completed the project at a modest cost of $200.    Right across the street is South Building—the home to Carolina’s administration.  When first proposed by UNC’s “Father,” William Richardson Davie, it was referred to as Davie’s “Temple of Folly.”  Despite vigorous opposition, construction began in 1798.  It took until 1814 to finish.  For 16 years, South Building had no roof and when the University was closed from 1871-75, horses and cows were stabled there.    A...

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Story Of Manning Drive

  For this home game against Idaho, no arboretum and no water tower tale but something like it.  We’re going to spin the story of something I bet a bunch of you make use of Saturday.  Some of you may use it on the way in.  Some on the way out.  Some both ways.  You might use it without incident or it could drive you crazy.    You know what?  “Drive” may be the wrong word to use if it’s bad.  Enough already, here’s the history of Manning Drive.  The artery that links so many of you from the 15-501 bypass to Kenan Football Stadium, the Smith Center and UNC Hospitals has an interesting beginning and, if you get all stirred up because you’re not moving, well, you’ll fit right in with a North Carolina governor back in the 50s.     It was some 60 years ago—back in 1953 when University engineer Joe Hakan got a call to meet a DOT state engineer down at the newly completed 15-501 bypass.  You see, Governor William Umstead had attended the 29-7 win over NC State on September 26 and he found out that, though he was the governor, it didn’t make one hill of beans when he tried to get out of Chapel Hill.    After the game, he headed back to Raleigh by way of Ridge Road—the road where the...

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A 'Towering' Story!

Well, for this home game, I’ve got a story about a landmark that many of you use to tell people how to find your tailgate.  It’s on the South Side of the stadium and it’s not Memorial Hospital, the UNC Infirmary or Morrison Dormitory.  It’s one of those “it’s-in-plain-sight-but-you-don’t-really-think-about-it-until-you-use-it-for-telling-people-how-to-find-you” landmarks.   It’s the water tower that sits like a giant spaceship between Morrison Dorm and the Hospital.  The story is about the battle between UNC and Chapel Hill’s Muse of Music over the location of the thing.  Adeline McCall was the muse I just referred to and, among other things, she taught for 30 years in the CH-Carrboro City Schools.    Generations of Chapel Hill and Carrboro students were taught Music Appreciation by Adeline.  She also taught music in her house on Ridge Road and, there, she not only hosted piano recitals but parties where a tasty libation was served.  SSSHHH.  One very much like what you may be serving Saturday.  It was called Chapel Hill Punch.  “Punch” is a noun but what she served was a verb—a little soda and a lot of bourbon in a serving bowl over ice.    Now, Memorial Hospital’s building in the early 50s necessitated the need for a new water tank.  A Boston firm suggested the elevated corner of Country Club and Raleigh Roads where, today, the Law School stands.  Other sites...

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Swinging Through The Arb'

For this season of Carolina Football, my route has changed.  For 26 years, I strolled down Pritchard Avenue, cut across Rosemary, Franklin, Columbia and Cameron Streets then coursed my way past Memorial Hall, through Polk Place, skirted past Wilson Library and the Bell Tower then made the climb up the hill to Kenan Stadium.    Well, all that has changed.  I’m now in a cottage on Park Place and my walk to work has shortened but grown exponentially in historical value.  I’ve got several routes, but this Saturday, I’m making my way through the “Arb.”   Our campus garden is a living tribute to UNC botanist Dr. William C. Coker.  Created in 1903, the university appropriated $10 and a gardener; Swain’s Pasture—a low-lying boggy patch of ground that for decades was grazing ground for faculty livestock—became our beloved “Arb” or “Arboretum.”  Today, under the care of the NC Botanical Garden, our 5-acre wonder includes approximately 580 species of trees and shrubs.  As one approaches its entrance near Spencer Dorm, there’s a sign that reads, “The Coker Arboretum is a campus sanctuary for contemplation, plant study and quiet enjoyment.”    Well, back in 1934, it was none of the above.  Our “sanctuary” was a stage—one worthy of Cecil B. DeMille both in scope and protagonist.   Enter stage right, Kemp Battle Nye.  Born in eastern NC but raised in Grassy...

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