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 were suggested but, after much discussion, a decision was made. The new water tower was going where the Boston firm suggested. That meant Adeline and husband Freddy B’s house would back directly up to a 150-foot, 1 million-gallon structure.
The muse went maniacal. Each night, around midnight, she called Chancellor Robert House and begged, tearfully at times, for the water tank to be situated somewhere else. Anxiety sometimes spilled over into anger. Once she blurted, “The only way that tank is going to be built in my back yard is if you’ll fill it half up with Scotch and [the other] half with bourbon and give me the tapping rights!”
Well, after about three weeks of midnight pleas to Chancellor House, UNC Engineer John S. Bennett got a call one day and was told to move the location any place else as long as it wasn’t the corner of Country Club and Raleigh. Joe Hakan, who worked for Bennett, got a call one hour later. It was Bennett, who said, “Get a hammer and a wooden stake and meet me out on Cameron Avenue in 3 minutes,” and then slammed the phone. When Hakan crawled into Bennett’s car, he found his colleague’s veins popping and cigar bobbing. He blurted, “Dammit, Chancellor House just gave in to Adeline.”
The two drove east of the hospital and parked in a lot that was then slated to be a nurse’s dormitory. They walked into woods about 250 feet then Bennett looked around, took a couple of deep draws on his “stogie” and said, “Drive the stake here.” Hakan did. And that’s why there’s a water tower near the hospital for you to guide people to your tailgate.
Oh! And one more thing. Here’s the reason why there’s a fence around it. Engineer Bennett hated it when the frat boys painted the water tower over on Wilson Court. No matter what the University did to keep the “fratty-baggers” out, they found a way. So! As the new water tower neared completion, Bennett had all the access ladders from the ground removed up to a height of 35 feet. At the very top where there were stairs going around the tank for university painting and observation, a special locking device and steel gate were installed. Upon completion, Bennett quipped, “That’ll hold ‘em.”
The very next morning, the greater community of the University of North Carolina got to enjoy—in black-painted letters 8-feet high and all around the new tank, “KILROY WAS HERE.” If you’re tailgating over there tomorrow, lift a glass to Adeline McCall and John Bennett. They’re responsible for your pre-GPS homing device. Enjoy the game!