Roland: Yes, this is Roland Giduz, aged 82. I've been in Chapel Hill all my life. I was not actually born here, I was born in Massachusetts, but I was an infant, just a couple of months old, when my father came here. He was called here on the faculty of the School of Education, and he later taught romance languages off the faculty of Chapel Hills High School.
So, I grew up in Chapel Hill, right in the heart of this university community, and had my feet in Talon and Galen very firmly for all these years. I've been actually retired since 1995, what'd that be, eight year? More than that, 13 years now, golly. How about that?
But, I've enjoyed being active, continue to be active in civic life and all, just doing things I really enjoy in Chapel Hill. I particularly care about downtown. A group called The Friends of Downtown Chapel Hill, and I've been one of the founders of that. Of course, I can't do anything right now, except to look out for my own health.
But, we are concerned with downtown, and the Downtown Partnership. Want to support it and do what we can. And that involves, of course, Franklin Street basically, and Rosemary Street, East and West.
When I grew up, of course, Chapel Hill was basically just east of the one block of East Franklin Street. Rosemary was all residential. Well, I lived right where I grew up, 15 years, was where the School of Public Health is right now. That was the colony of university-owned homes that our family lived in until we came out here, way, way out of town. This was, back then, way on the far corner of Chapel Hill.
But, go ahead now, with that background, and ask me anything that would be helpful to your purpose.
Interviewer: Sure. Well, what I've been doing is trying to find stories about specific places. And so your name came up in relation to a few, but before I ask about those, I wanted to see if there were any places in particular - either that were on Franklin Street and are no longer there, or are still there - that have been important to you.
Roland: I can give you an introductory, a little more general statement, as for instance, there were very close - almost adjoining the Columbia Street corner - there were eight grocery stores, all of them independent except A&P. That was a national chain. But, there were eight grocery stores there at that time. And I remember well, I could just tick them all off.
There were three ice cream parlors, right on the first block of East Franklin Street. Chapel Hill's first automobile dealership from 1914 was a Ford dealership, Bruce Stroud Motor Company, right at the corner of ... that would be at the northwest corner of Franklin and Columbia.
I think, probably at that time, that one of the most important things was Stroud Motor Company. It was on that corner. The building is still there and recognizable at that corner. Have you got anything about that yet?
Well, Stroud Motor Company, Bruce Stroud was a native of Chapel Hill; he grew up here. And he founded this. He loved... he was a very gregarious fellow. And he just loved automobiles, which were brand new at the time. And in 1914, not at the location I'm giving you now, but in the middle of a block of East Franklin Street, he founded Stroud Motor Company, the first dealership in Chapel Hill.
He subsequently moved it about 10 years later, to the place I'm describing, at the northwest corner. And Bruce Stroud ... basically the welfare department of Chapel Hill. Personally, he would take the coat off his back if he saw somebody walk by in front who needed it.
He sold his first car in 1914, bought it back the next year, when the owner of Carver Mills won a new car and it is now in the Chapel Hill Museum. And it was, oh, about $500 or so. But, that roadster is a very valuable exclusive museum piece in Chapel Hill. Bruce was as fine a fellow as I've ever known, and a great humorist in every way.
There was literally an ordinance passed saying - by the Chapel Hill Board of Alderman before he opened his automobile dealership - there was an ordinance passed saying that Bruce Stroud shall not drive his motor conveyance on the public streets of Chapel Hill. I know that to be the truth, because I was on the Chapel Hill Board of Aldermen when we repealed that unconstitutional ordinance.
That was, at the time, of course, the largest business in Chapel Hill for many years. And it was just a very, very important part of downtown. It was the only downtown automobile dealership for some years.
Interviewer: Why did they pass the ordinance?
Roland: How's that now?
Interviewer: Why did they pass the ordinance?
Roland: Well, it was loud - more like a lawnmower, a motorized lawnmower, but it was just a little old buggy that was powered by an engine with no muffler or anything. And it was scaring the horses and all. And Bruce Stroud, he told me one time, "I must be the biggest crook in Chapel Hill. I know I violated that ordinance thousands of times." And that was before we - as an elected member of the Board of Alderman - we repealed... We went through all the ordinances and repealed the ones that were antiquated. And this, of course, was illegal.
Interviewer: What did he look like?
Roland: Bruce just had a fine head of hair, and he had a twinkle in his eye all the time. Just loved everybody and was just - he came in and I was the only reporter on what's now the Chapel Hill News, the Chapel Hill Weekly, in 1952. And the newspaper was in 1952 - not 1952, 1954 - it was sold to George Watts-Hill, whose father was one of the great philanthropists of Chapel Hill, and so Watts-Hill was too - of the university, not Chapel Hill.
Well, Bruce would come in the newspaper office there, just in the morning, and kind of look around and swap lies and tell stories and all. And he came in the day after we published the story saying the newspaper had been sold. And whenever he was told who bought it - Watts-Hill - he said, "Well, it isn't Chapel Hill no more, it's Watts Hill." And that's the kind of fellow he was.
Can I just give you a few more little anecdotes about Bruce?
Interviewer: Yeah, that'd be fine.
Roland: Well, Collier Cobb, Jr., was the son of a geology professor here, and Collier Jr. grew up here in Chapel Hill and had an insurance and very prosperous insurance and real estate firm. And he was a best friend and contemporary of Bruce.
Well, Bruce was down there, and he told me this himself. He was down in the barbershop one day and said Collier said, "I'm going to get married here this weekend and Collier's going to stand up for me." The best man, of course. And they said, "Well, that's fine."
And so, a little while later Collier Cobb came in the barbershop and they said, "I hear Bruce Stroud is going to stand up for you when you get married this weekend." And Collier said, "I don't know anything about that. He didn't tell me that." He was going to get married that weekend at [indecipherable] Church.
Well, sure enough, Bruce showed up on Saturday and was best man for Collier. And he asked him afterwards, "Why didn't you tell me you wanted me to be your best man?" And Bruce said, "Well, I told it at the barbershop. What else did I need to do?" [laughs]
So, that's the kind of village that Chapel Hill was in earlier days, and the kind of fellow that Bruce Stroud was. There was no finer person than Collier Cobb, whose building with his partner was put up there on the corner of Henderson Street, right past the Chapel Hill post office downtown. And that is still recognizably, where Collier Cobb and Sons, or Collier Cobb and Associates - I believe it was called - was for so many years during his lifetime.
Interviewer: What sort of work did he do again? He was a ...?
Roland: Collier Cobb was a very dedicated civic and university leader and a university trustee, and his business was first in real estate and then in insurance. And it was internationally - he was very, very prosperous internationally. If you know Estes Drive down East Franklin Street, the first building on the left right before you come to that filling station on the left, that's the building that Collier Cobb and Sons eventually built. It's a large, pretty substantial building. They were right in the middle of town there, of course, at the northeast corner of East Franklin Street and Henderson Street.
If you want to know what the specific place I remember as a child, you know I told you there were three ice cream parlors. Sugar Land had just opened in Chapel Hill. I don't remember it Sugar Land, I remember is as the Durham Dairy Products Ice Cream Store. And that's where we'd all gather downtown.
We'd ride our bicycles downtown, any time, after school, after Sunday, whenever. That's was a gathering place, where you'd go in and get a great shovelful of ice cream for five cents, in Durham Diary Ice Cream Store. And there were two others across the street from there.
Interviewer: Do you remember who ran the Durham Dairy.
Roland: What names the other ones?
Interviewer: Or who ran the Durham Dairy. It was the ...?
Roland: It was the Durham Dairy in Durham. It also delivered milk in Chapel Hill. They had their milk distribution place at the back of the store, and they had this very successful, large - the same size as Sugar Land is now. But, I look at Sugar Land and I think, of Durham Dairy.
Interviewer: How long was milk delivered? Do you remember when they stopped delivering?
Roland: You know, I can't really tell you. I bet it was through World War II though. And you just - they would just leave it at the doorstep every day and take the other bottles when you'd leave them out there. And you wouldn't think of having to go downtown. They sold milk in the stores, of course.
I mentioned the grocery stores. Charles House was mentioned. He grew up in the same neighborhood with the University Florist owner then, who was Jim Davis. And so Charles just came into it naturally. His father was on the university faculty and his mother was on the staff there. What a find fellow Charles is too, and what a civic-minded person. And a dedicated downtown business person in every way.
You want to go down the street? I told you there were eight grocery stores there on that main corner. The Town Hall... I want to go a block away to where the Town Hall was. I can remember that the Town Hall was one of those little wooden shacks, before I guess it was the late 1930s. It was the location where the community shelter is now.
But, there was New Deal project, a Franklin Roosevelt New Deal Project. They built the Town Hall. I think, it says on there that it was 1940 when the cornerstone was set there. And that was a beautiful new - the courthouse, the police department, the fire department. My wife was the town clerk for three years and she made up the payroll, did everything several people do now. They have to have several hundred people now, of course, in the Town Hall.
Across the street from that, at what is now the parking lot for Title Investors, if you go to that, across the street it was an old filling station. That was the Chapel Hill Bus Depot. It had separate sides for white and colored. It's an historic site now and they're talking about putting up a historical market there. Did you know that?
Interviewer: I didn't know that.
Roland: Because that was where Freedom Riders in the late 1940s came through Chapel Hill going to the south, and they demanded to be un-segregated in their seating. And there was a bit of unpleasantness, I think, they were arrested, but nothing ever came of it after that.
But, they were first to - on the buses in Chapel Hill - to bring about the desegregation on that public transportation. There was one other later, right beside that at the - right where Title Investors is now - was old ramshackle Atwater Poe and later Poe Motor Company, which was the Chrysler dealership. Chrysler, Plymouth, Dodge, Desoto dealership. And it moved up on main street, on West Franklin Street, basically right beside where Stroud Motor Company was, after a few years.
You know that building where Kinko's is now?
Roland: If you notice the peculiar shape of the roof.
Interviewer: It looks like an old gas station. Is it the Pure ...?
Roland: Pure, yeah. That was Pure Oil. And then, Bill Poe bought it and had his dealership. There were automobile dealerships there.
One other thing you ought to add in there about what was distinctive about Stroud Motor Company, the first automobile dealership in Chapel Hill. They sold gas right there in the street. I think, it was three Esso pumps, gasoline pumps, right at the curb. I bought gas there. Just stopped there, and they'd crank the handle and put the gas there in the top, and the car had to go around there, but you'd buy - talk about curb service. That was service on the street at the time, for many years.
Interviewer: Now when did cars - you mentioned horses earlier - when did cars become pretty prevalent going up and down?
Roland: Oh, I guess, it was really after the war. There was angled parking on the main block of Chapel Hill, East Franklin Street. It didn't go on West Franklin any. But, angled parking. And so there was just one lane each way. Somebody wanted to back out, it held up all the traffic.
At the Franklin/Columbia corner was a stop light, a traffic signal, that was planted into the ground. And what you'd do is you'd just drive around that, make a u-turn around that and go down to Chapel Hill Post Office, make another u-turn around there and come back. And that was just one lane each way.
Interviewer: And that was the street.
Roland: That was downtown Chapel Hill, of course. You see, the university owned the utilities then. A couple doors down from... well, I guess it's where Franklin Place... Is that what they call it? The one that has a number of stores back, just a door or so below University Floors? Or right there.
But, what they call University Service Plants. The university owned all the utilities. They even had a store downtown in that location, where you could buy appliances, stoves and refrigerators and stuff like that.
And I guess it was in the - well, I can't say exactly when that was - but after post-World War II, they closed the store because it was in competition, of course, with private enterprise. But, the university continued to own the utilities: electricity, water, telephone, all that. Until they sold it and the power and water and sewer and Southern Bell opened in Chapel Hill.
And the university had good service too. The rates were not the lowest they were anywhere, but they gave us good service. And Chapel Hill town, Chapel Hill owned the sewer plant, but that was the only utility they owned.
Interviewer: Now was that the location called the Electric Company, or was that a different place on Franklin Street?
Roland: What was that?
Interviewer: Someone had mentioned the Electric Company. Was that what that location was called?
Roland: No, interestingly, the Electric Company was a beer joint.
Interviewer: [laughs] Oh, I see.
Roland: Yeah, they were located right there on Franklin. What's that place I was talking about, where the giant t-shirt is?
Interviewer: Yeah, that same spot. OK.
Roland: I'm trying to think. There were several places. The Electric Company, the Office, which is the beer joint on West Franklin Street, all those places. But, they had nothing to do with any kind of retail business except beer.
Interviewer: And that was later, in the '60s and '70s?
Roland: Yes. This would be probably in the '60s and '70s, I would say.
Interviewer: Now, can you tell me about the Danziger's.
Roland: Yeah. What a great institution Danziger's was! Ted Danziger, one of the two Danziger sons, was my closes friend. He did in his early 40s, but what fantastic businessman he was. Papa Danziger, Edward G. Danziger, his grandfather was Jewish. He was a Viennese candy maker and had the family business in Vienna. When, because of the Hitler regime, he had to flee - and I mean really flee - Vienna.
He was brought to Chapel Hill ultimately through the auspices of the Quakers here. He worked very, very had, of course, in the European tradition. And his elder of his two sons - Ted, worked right there with him. His place was an instant success, it was called Danszinger's Old World Restaurant and Gift Shop.
I think, it was opened here around 1938. And Papa D, as we called him, was a tremendous civic leader. His son, Ted, opened the Rathskeller by literally digging it out underneath his father's restaurant and gift shop. And Ted ran the Rathskeller for many, many years.
He subsequently opened four other restaurants in Chapel Hill and was planning on opening a fifth one when he died of cancer. What an enterprising, hard-working, successful person Danziger was. Erwin Danziger, the youngest son, still lives here. He was a university computer employee executive for many years. And he still lives in retirement in Chapel Hill.
But, Papa D, it's where Aladdin's is. The Aladdin? That's right, he rented that place and ran it until he subsequently died. I just wrote the obituary today, sent it into the Chapel Hill News, for Bob Simpson, whose place was where the Laughing Turtle - is that the name of it now?
Interviewer: The Laughing Turtle was where Kids' Zoo is now?
Roland: All right. What's the other one there?
Interviewer: Like it's a number, like...
Roland: 123, 65, it's a number, anyhow.
Interviewer: Design or something.
Roland: A very nice, up-scale ladies ready-to-wear shop. It was in what they called the Klutz Building then.
I wanted to tell you about the town and campus. The university and downtown Chapel Hill were just so intimate at the time. There was a dormitory right on Franklin Street. Battlevance Pettigrew, it was a dormitory on Franklin Street. Battle Hall now.
And so, that was where everything was happening. I remember, for instance, just being fascinated, there were in my time, there were three cafeterias in downtown Chapel Hill. One of them had a band playing in there every night for supper.
I can recall when I was walking home from my music lesson, I'd stand out there on the sidewalk and watch the trio playing. And I thought, 'man, this is really uptown.' That was Friendly Cafeteria, which was located a couple doors away from - towards the post office - from where Sutton's Drug Store is now.
And then, the Porthole was built originally as Damon Brooks' Cafeteria. And Brooks opened that, I guess, about 1937 or '38. And I thought that was really fine. And then, they put it down there right in... I think, it was part of where now the bank is, in the middle of the block. NC Cafeteria, quite an institution for many years.
Boarding houses used to - don't forget downtown Chapel Hill and its boarding houses earlier. There were three boarding houses located just check-by-jowl right there - privately owned - where Ackland Museum is now. There was a full block of them on the south side of the first block of East Rosemary Street, one after another.
Why sometimes, I'd go there and take meals. They had rooms upstairs, and the madam would run a boarding house downstairs, three meals a day, a good deal.
Interviewer: Was it mostly students?
Roland: Yes. Oh, yes. These were basically student boarding houses there. And they almost all to the point where the parking garage is now, was where these boarding houses and rooming houses were.
So, that was downtown Chapel Hill. But, everything else was just regular private residences or rooming houses on Rosemary Street. Downtown, of course, was basic four mainline churches were there. From the 1920s, they were all built in the decade of the '20s. The Episcopal Chapel of the Cross, the University Methodist Church, the Presbyterian church, and the Baptists. Their present edifices were built in the decade of the '20s there.
Interviewer: Now, where did you go to school growing up?
Roland: Where did I go to school? A couple blocks away was the site of, basically the same architecture, as the School of Pharmacy. It was on university property. But, you see, the partnership - it was vacant lot at the time. The old Chapel Hill School, which is a Chapel Hill combined elementary and high school, was at University Square.
So, the New Deal, Roosevelt administration, provided the money to build that new Chapel Hill High School, where the School of Pharmacy is now. I lived next door to it in a university home. Heck, I could lay in bed and hear the school bell ring and walk across the street and be in home room.
But, I was in the last graduation class from that 11-grade school - it was just a high school, not an elementary school. The elementary school stayed where it was previously there in University Square. And it was only there for six years because it burned down in the summer of 1942, a couple of months after our class graduated.
But, we could walk downtown from there and I've never gone over to have lunch in the university dining hall. Lunchtime, we walk to elementary school down there where University Square is down, a couple of blocks away. There were just probably 300 to 400 in the school at the time. We could walk downtown, there's a bar half a block away. This was the village, literally the village at the time.
Interviewer: Now, after it burned down, is that when they built the Chapel Hall High that was on Franklin Street until it moved?
Roland: Well, they put it back together again. It burned down. It had been a combined high school and grade school built by 1915 or 1917 and the way it had been with this church right here, it was there during World War II of course. And then, they gradually added on to it, one wing and another wing, until I guess it was about 1966 when they closed the black school here then sold University Square for commercial development.
Interviewer: And they moved the high school down?
Roland: Another great institution downtown where the clothing store, men's and women's clothing stores, all of them, every one of them independent. One was a hat place, but there's five or six stores, independent stores all over where the students bought their clothes in downtown Chapel Hill. There was in the 1950s one of the finest women's clothing stores in the whole state, JB Robbins, which created that Franklin place. Where did I say they were?
Interviewer: Ah, it's where the...
Roland: Franklin Center.
Interviewer: Yes, where the giant T-shirt's is.
Roland: Where the giant T-shirt is. A very large two-floor store, Robbins House of Fashion. Old Joe Robbins built that in the early 50s and it was a very large and prosperous independent women's fashion store. Well, it was on three floors, wasn't it? Yes, so it was. Upstairs and it had a lower store.
So, all these businesses, you can say they were oriented very largely toward university students, but little Chapel Hill's place is too, where we bought our clothes. And as long as independent businesses could prosper, these were in downtown Chapel Hill. The bank of Chapel Hill, which is now located ... What's the name of it? Bank of America.
Interviewer: Bank of America.
Roland: From 1899, it had a burglar alarm on the front and in great big letters, "The Orange County's Oldest and Strongest Bank." They were the only bank at Chapel Hill until, I guess, about 1952 when they gradually had gotten permits for other banks here.
Interviewer: Now, if you were to go out and pass that length of Franklin Street on West Franklin, when did that start to develop?
Roland: You see, that was where the black section was. If you went past Church Street, about everything, it just gradually became all black. Frankly, the hotel was one time a stable in my recollection when it was all black. And then, there was a strip of stores, which is right about where the university's computer building is. Well, there was a strip of stores there that were all black. Then, of course, everything from there on out was black, on the street and behind the street too.
Going back in there, behind that, there was a black theatre out there. There was back there ...
Roland: Yeah, back then there was a downtown theatre, which is right where you can you see, it looks like a theatre building now with the pillars in front of it. It's a vacant store now. It's at the first thing... No...
Interviewer: Where the Gap was?
Roland: Yeah, the Gap, that's it. You see, during World War II, there was seven different arms service outfits on campus. The largest was for Navy pre-flight students. They came here for 18 weeks for mainly athletic training and all of the things they would need to become naval pilots. Well, you couldn't get any steel building or anything of course because it was all going in battleships, but they authorized the construction of this Carolina theatre.
It was basically across the street earlier, right where the Varsity theatre is now. That was the Carolina theatre. Yeah, the government authorized the construction. And so, they have a southern recreation place for these pre-flight students. And, of course, that a Chain theatre, Wilby Kipsy Chain. It closed downtown, I guess a few years ago anyhow. And then, it was rented out for other purposes including The Gap.
The Carolina theatre at the end was just on the back right beside... Back there where Acts and Art Museum is now.
Interviewer: I think, I went to the last show there.
Roland: But, there was just one theatre here. Then gradually, the one opened back there, behind the bank, Bank of America. And so, it was downtown there. But, downtown, of course, is a shadow of what it was in earlier years, naturally. But, the university arcade, they're not going to move that so there will always be the collegiate in downtown Chapel Hill. It's a great place for T-shirts and for pizza and beer and bars and things like that.
But, you would expect it to be the kind of place that it was in those earlier years, it was just a totally different orientation. The places that are left in my lifetime now are Sutton's drugstore. Old Doug Sutton, the pharmacist, had that open in 1922. The Carolina Coffee Shop of George Lives started, I guess, it was about that same year. And maybe one or two others that I'm overlooking, but by the same name and still going are the coffee shop and Sutton's although there have been successor ownerships of course.
Interviewer: Now, Ken Hill told me...
Roland: I have sat where you've sat in varied times.
Interviewer: It makes me a little nervous because I'm sure you're much more practiced than me.
Roland: [laughs] Not a bit. Old Ken grew up here. He's, of course, one of the ones who came later. His daddy came here when they opened up the hospital and he came, just being an independent construction builder and taking care of everything else through the years.
Interviewer: He told me I needed to ask you about Crook's Corner.
Roland: Well, Rachel Crook was the daughter of a Confederate General, a spinster. She opened Chapel Hill's first automatic laundry right there at the curb, at the end where there is a curve. Well, I think, it might have been right after World War II. Rachel sold fish and pecans from her grandfather's farm down in Alabama, Remnants, and have washed her seams in there.
And I guess on Labor Day weekend in 1951 or 1952, she was very viciously kidnapped and murdered. That was in an old filling station. She barely got on off and they took off the entry to it, the filling station entry, because all the gasoline stations used to have two pillars out in front and you just drive in right out the front door. Well, that's where Rachel's place was.
Interviewer: But, he said you could...
Roland: I want you to get an idea, I know you want general things, you want specific things more than general. But, I used to work at Chapel Hill Weekly. I was the only reporter and on certain days my editor had the habit of printing and everything else and I haven't been that good at advertising soliciting. But, in 1954, when it was sold, we started a new twice a week newspaper in competition with the Chapel Hill Weekly, which came out every Friday then.
So, there were actually five people in the corporation, five partners of the corporation. We started what was called the Chapel Hill News Leader. No hyphen in News Leader, the name of it was Chapel Hills News Leader. But, let me tell you what this is, we had a slogan right under the banner. It said: "Leading with the news of Chapel Hill, Carrboro and the Glen Linux."
That should give you the indication. You see, Glen Linux was such an important new thing at the time and to cover all of those three... But, this paper lasted five years and we started with a hatful of nickels and finally went bankrupt, of course, on there. Of such was downtown Chapel Hill at the time.
I don't know when it took off. I can't go parking there in that main block. But, everybody went to park right in front of the store of course. I know a guy who had a store downtown, a shoe store. And when they planted parking meters, he'd go out there and put a dime in every hour all day, just so he'd park in front. Illegally, of course.
And there are places we'd call "department stores," which are basically dry goods stores where the bookstore is now, Tar Hill Bookshop. But, that was built originally as a mattress factory, but I remember it as Berman's Department Store, Sam Berman Department Store on two big floors there. And he got a clothing, a dry goods and everything he wanted there.
Interviewer: Was that later the location for the Intimate Bookshop?
Roland: Oh yeah, sure, way before the Intimate. I think, the Intimate, yes, was probably the successor after Berman retired and closed the store there.
Interviewer: What was the Intimate like?
Roland: Well, the Intimate was first on there beside the Presbyterian Church in a ramshackle old wood building. Milton Abernathy opened the Intimate. Before that, I think, it was probably Hoop Patterson's store. It wasn't built as the Intimate. But, in the early 1930's, Milton Abernathy opened it up and he sold books around there.
Actually, he sold books around the campus in a wheelbarrow. Well, it was a haven naturally for the leftwing at the time and it was very successful. He later sold it to one of his employees, Kemp Battle Nye. Kemp Nie was the descendant of the Battles of the University of North Carolina. The McCauleys and the Battles were... Well, McCauley gave some of the land for the university.
But, Kemp was a swashbuckling, very colorful businessman who really enjoyed life and he combined it and then converted it to music. Kemp's Music Store was a Franklin Street icon for years. Put up a sign every fall that says, "Welcome back money. Keep Kemp's Green."
Interviewer: That's great.
Roland: And he died. His widow still lives here in Chapel Hill. They were a devoted couple. His second marriage, but they were a devoted couple.
Interviewer: What did it look like inside the shop? Inside the music store?
Roland: Just as disheveled as it is outside, the same way of things stacked up everywhere. Burned down, it was torched, I'm convinced. There were several fires that were put out and I wondered, I made a picture of it. It was this place and it isn't going to be around very long. I took a photograph of it and sure enough, a couple of months later, it was burned to the ground. Kemp reopened and had another head shop down there on Henderson Street later, but it was not the institution that his music store was.
Interviewer: Now, was it the Intimate at one time by the Crolls? Or is that a different bookstore?
Roland: Yes. The Crolls were successor owners of it, about two successors after Milton Abernathy. And the Crolls had a wonderful shop there. The same as with Abernathy, they used to open up branches in other cities, even down to Atlanta and just got spread a little too thin there. Wallace Croll just died a few years ago. He was Charles's younger brother of course. A prince of a fellow, a good businessman, a dedicated Chapel Hillian.
Interviewer: Now, I know they brought in a lot of different speakers. Was there anybody worth mentioning that came in?
Roland: Well, the university brought the speakers in of course. And Ariel Bother, who was the Chairman of the Communist Party, came to the university and spoke here. Well, that's back in the 1930s, you see. And the university was under the presidency of Frank Porter Graham. It started as a hotbed... That's the wrong word. It was a bastion of free thought. That wasn't all. Norman Thomas, the head of the Socialist Party, spoke here numerous times. I saw him.
The Democrat, the Republican, all of that. I think, they even had some of the rightwing speakers here. I can't remember right at the moment. But, the university just provide a platform for free thought at the time. And that's Frank. I grew up with him and I just love him [cries]. He died here I guess 30 or 35 years ago.
I got to tell you one not on Franklin Street...
Interviewer: That's fine, yeah.
Roland: [crying] A story, a true story. I was in the class of 1946. I went in the United States Army of course and came back before it finished in '48. I was walking across the campus, coming home here and getting by on. Graduate had come late in the afternoon of June 1948. Frank came tripping down the steps of South Milton. He said: "Roland, you got to go pay your library fine or you can't graduate tonight." And that was still the rule of course. You have to pay all your debts to the university.
Well, they were true. I just let it slip and went down to the library where the library payment was two dollars and graduated that night. But, the real story is many years later. Frank Graham was bedridden. You understand my getting choked up? I don't think of this story very often. But, he was bedridden in Chapel Hills and I was on the staff of the 11th office. We thought it was important to go out and visit him.
One day, one afternoon, I went out to see him and I asked him about various things. I recall him lying in bed just like I am. And I said, "By any chance, do you remember graduation day and you came and told me how to pay my library fine?" He said, "Oh yes, I remember that Roland." I said, "Well how in the world would you, a president of this three-campus university, graduation day and you had all these things to remember - how do you remember that?" He had this beatific smile that came over his face. Just a minute now.
Roland: What he said was, "Roland, I remember the important things" - that's the kind of man he was.
Interviewer: And you were important.
Roland: [crying] He said, "I remember the important things." He was the most personable, the greatest person that ever was. I loved him. Now, I think, I'm getting control again. That's just the voice of gratitude is what you're hearing. But, if you want to get back to Franklin St., I think, I've given you a basic variety of things. I told you I just wrote the obituary of a fellow named, Bob Simpson, who died at age 76 last Thursday.
Well he was a good friend. He was a successor owner of Town & Campus, which is a very upscale, collegiate men's and women's clothing store - that's where not the laughing turtle, but the design for the turtleneck - and that was another gathering place for college students all the time. He and his wife, Ann, operated Town & Campus for 32 years, after he was himself a part-time employee there as a student at the university. And almost every store downtown, of course, had part time student employees there. I'm thinking about the other kinds of stores.
Interviewer: Well, were there any kind of moments or events that were unusual, or that stick out in your mind? What's the strangest thing you ever saw on Franklin St.?
Roland: Well, I wouldn't say it's the strangest, but the most momentous thing I've ever seen there was the celebration after the triple overtime win of the 1957, undefeated Carolina basketball team - it ended about one o'clock in the morning. And I was at home; we lived out on the eastside of town at the time. Between the second and third overtime, I thought there was going to be a big celebration downtown because that's the thing to do, for the students to come downtown to Franklin Street.
And so, I went downtown, I was in a little place right beside the theater. It was a very small beer joint. As soon as Carolina won, they closed the place and everything erupted. Now what I wanted to tell you there was 5000 - 6000 people, bonfires, here and there downtown. About three o'clock in the morning, I went up to my friend, the police chief, and I just thought maybe things were getting out of hand and I worried. I said, "Bill, how are things?" And he just had a great big smile and says, "Just fine." My point is here's a man who really understood what was going on see. Bedlam was breaking loose it looked like to me, and I was a newsman at newspaper covering this thing. But, he understood, "Just fine," and it was just fine.
It went on until dawn. It went up to the chancellor's home, they sang "Hark the Sound," woke him up, made him come out and things like that. In the nature of a much smaller university then, of course, I expect in '57, it was probably about 8000 - 9000 students here then. The emphasis of course is downtown Chapel Hill was 'that block' and it still is, the first block of East Franklin Street.
Interviewer: That's where people go.
Roland: I had a friend of mine from out of town say, "Yes, I'd like to retire in Chapel Hill one day, if I could live over Sutton's Drug Store."
Interviewer: And watch everything happen.
Roland: That's it. And there was a separate photo shop downtown back when you had to have black and white - it was statewide. They brought in jobs from all over the state. There were two prosperous shoe shops downtown. There were three ice cream parlors on the main block there. There must have been eight or ten different restaurants altogether, in addition to those two cafeterias. The Friendly Cafeteria and David's Books is a place back there that he built for the Porthole.
Interviewer: What was your favorite of the Danziger restaurants?
Roland: The Rathskeller because Ted was such a good friend of mine. But, Papa D's, Danziger's restaurant right there where Aladdin's is now - that was built as an authentic Viennese-type place. Papa D, of course, would make his own candy there every night; it had a front and back section. I made a photograph of Eleanor Roosevelt in there one time, just sitting with some friends. She'd come here to speak, as she did occasionally. Papa would call me, every now and then, when some famous person come in and say, "Hey you got to come down here and make a photograph", so I'd always do it.
Interviewer: Who else do you remember photographing there?
Roland: After 60 years, I really can't remember. I do remember that one.
Interviewer: How old were you when she came in?
Roland: I was an eager, young newspaper and journalist wretch, about 25 or 30. I was born in 1925, so this was in the early to mid-50s.
Interviewer: Now, were you the person they called when news broke?
Roland: I had a pretty good relationship that they would usually call me if a downtown store caught on fire, or if they broke up a liquor still somewhere around. There was no whisky sold here, you had to go over to Durham. When they started selling legal liquor in North Carolina, they called Durham 'The City of Exciting Stores.' Well, we'd call it 'The City of the Exciting Store.'
Interviewer: Because they had an ABC Store?
Roland: Downtown Chapel Hill, where Spanky's is now, actually had the referendum that legalized whisky in Orange County. That was the first place to sell it across the bar, and they did pretty quickly after that.
Interviewer: Now, was that back before Spanky's when it was Sloan's, or was it something else?
Roland: Well, it had been a grocery store, a clothing store, and various things through many years, but not Spanky's, that was many, many years later. But, it was a bar then, I can't remember the name of it. It was a drug store in one generation. It was not Spanky's is all I remember. See this was back in the 1950's. I think, it was about 1957 that the Orange County referendum was passed.
Interviewer: Kim had also mentioned a place called McKinney's.
Roland: That's another one that is worthy of mention. Now do they call it a sports shop? There's a t-shirt shop right beside where Aladdin's is. Anyhow, 'Mac' H.S. McKinney owned that. It was really a part of Bocock-Stroud in Winston Salem, which was this whole sporting goods thing. Mac ran it until he died. And now there's nothing like it, it's Carolina Monogrammed Apparel now.
I don't know as I recall, there were at one time in my recollection, three pharmacies - drug stores - right on main street. I remember when Sutton's Drug Store opened with the first juke box. We'd go down there to listen to it during lunch hour, 10 cents and it would put up a 78 rpm record for a dime, and it was just magic to see that thing. Of course, it had colors on the side and all.
And some of us would go down to Sutton's just to watch it and to hear the good music. The popular music of the time.
Interviewer: Do you remember any of the songs.
Roland: "Sentimental Journey" was one of them I remember. Every Friday night on the radio we'd listen to "The Hit Parade," the top ten tunes. And of course, we were aspiring pre-high school and high school students there.
And the automobile. There were three automobile/used car lots there on West Franklin Street at the time. I learned to dance in high school, when I was in the high school, well, in seventh or eighth grade, right across the street from a gal who was a couple of years older than me, Hilda Weaver. And she was one of eight children in the house that is right where they're going to build that great big new Rand development on the corner of Church Street.
Interviewer: It's like Lot 5, or whatever it's called.
Roland: Lot five is what they call it, yes. You're very well-informed on all these things. You keep up with it.
Interviewer: I've been hearing lots of stuff talking to people. [laughs]
Interviewer: What did she look like? Hilde?
Roland: A beautiful girl, Hilde. Very urbane. And she taught - struggled with the seventh grader to dance, right there in her parlor. I never was a very good dancer, but, boy, I was fascinated with her, learning. And that was when Chapel Hill - our lives were so much simpler then. I'm not going to say they were better, but the simplicity of it all was not all bad either.
Interviewer: Now would people dance in Sutton's with the juke box, or was it just there for music.
Roland: Well, it was there just for music.
Interviewer: Can I ask you, because I'm using the audio, so it helps to help to kind of describe things.
Roland: I understand, yeah.
Interviewer: If I could ask you to describe a couple of things. How different did Sutton's look then compared to now?
Roland: Well, of course now the biggest thing there is the lunch counter, which didn't exist. They had a soda fountain there, old Doc Sutton had his pharmacy and all on the back side. His widow continued for many years; her brother was a pharmacist.
One thing, it was a magazine counter too. Right up front. All those funny books, we called them, cost 10 cents. We'd go in there and try to read them without buying them. And it's right where the print magazine counter is. And Doc Sutton didn't like having - this is one memory I have and it may be an apocryphal story.
But one time, I remember old Doc Sutton, who was a fairly gruff guy. You'd go in the store, he was at the cash register in the front, and you'd tell him what you want and you paid for it, then you'd go back in the store and get it. Now, you don't do that kind of business now, and later years either.
But, this memory I had was that he didn't... Now, Mrs. Sutton, who worked there with him all the time, didn't have any children, but was a lovely woman. But, that's the kind of son-of-a-bitch he was.
Interviewer: [laughs] Was he a big guy?
Roland: He'd want you to pay first. Next door in the Stroud Building - which was right next door to that on top of Amber Alley and beside where Aladdin's is now - was an office supply store called Ledbetter Pickard. And old man Ledbetter and Doc Pickard owned it, ran it.
And very large, I wouldn't say it was large in space, but in the variety of office supplies they had there. The university department had a supply store over on campus, a student store like they have now, but this was private enterprise, which also did it and did a very good business there.
You see, the orientation of so many things to the university.
Interviewer: Now going into Papa Danziger's thing, you said it was meant to be like a Viennese caf, but what did it look like when you went inside.
Roland: The first things you see inside were the candy counters left and right. And then, there were three or four circular booths on either side and some more candy counters and gift counters. And then in the back section, there was a piano.
And old Jimmy Wallace, who was later the mayor of Chapel Hill, and he was a contemporary of mine at Carolina, he loved getting back in the back there and playing "Twelfth Street Rag." And he'd have a few drinks and just play all night. Gibby Jackson did the same there before Jimmy.
But, you see what kind of an attractive place that was. And Papa, that was fine with him. He didn't care if you were attracting customers. He sold beer there. But, the Rathskeller was a place where they really sold the beer later. And they never sold these pie-za pies in Chapel Hill. That's what they called them, "pie-za, "back in the late 1940s.
And the Rathskeller first brought those on, and they brought on a little gambler's steak for $2. A good stake for two bucks. And then, it became famous just as a place that continued under the Danziger's regime through his widow's time. And then, it deteriorated obviously in recent years. That damn fool, Terry Henry, had it.
Interviewer: Now the ...
Roland: But, that was a description of the upstairs place. As I said, downstairs the Rathskeller had four sections going behind the bar that was in the main section. You'd go back through the train room, and then go back through the ...
Interviewer: I heard about "The Cave."
Roland: The Cave, yeah. "Please do not handle the ceiling," was the sign there. You know, cobwebs back there. My favorite place was literally up under the sidewalk. They had a single booth up under the sidewalk with translucent glass there. That was to provide light.
Interviewer: And you could actually see the light from Franklin Street. You can still see the glass there.
Roland: You could look up and see people walking by. You couldn't see their footprint because it was translucent. But, you were up under the sidewalk there. And, oh, gee, that was the place to be, was the Rathskeller. I mean, it'd be very crowded, very orderly - well, orderly, that's an inappropriate word to use, even. But it didn't make any difference.
Interviewer: Now, did you meet your wife in school or on Franklin Street?
Roland: I was a graduate student at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. I was a G.I. student after WWII. She was at Columbia also. She was from South Carolina. I met her up there and then we lived in New York a couple of years after than. Then, came back to Chapel Hill, let's see, came back in here in 1950, '51. We lived a good life ever since.
They tell me that this radiation, which is a painless kind of thing, just a few minutes every weekday, should improve - it's a discomfort here in the meantime. And this is about as comfortable as I can get, lying down like this, Kelly.
Roland: I can't sit down, and I get very fatigued very quickly when I stand up.
Interviewer: Sure. I can understand.
Roland: But, I love talking about earlier days in Chapel Hill. Golly, I've sat there and asked other people about earlier days. They'd tell me about back in the '20s. I've never... Tell you one more.
Interviewer: OK, sure.
Roland: One more about my good friend Tommy Mariakakis. A Greek came here and emigrated here by himself in the '30s and he opened a tiny little hotdog stand just right there by the jewelry shop above the Tarheel bookshop is. Well, he opened that place in the 1930s. He told me slept in his car. He was one of the greatest humorists I've ever seen.
Gradually he did well, he worked like hell 24 hours a day. He never closed. Tommy told me one time, says he remembers when he and George Levis, who opened the Carolina Coffee Shop, he said, "George, we go sit down on the rock wall in front of the Methodist Church," and this is the summertime and the dust was gathering in the streets. He said, "We'll go and sit down on the rock wall, we see a customer come to our place, we get up, go in and serve him."
Well, Chapel Hill in the summertime, they had a summer school. It was nothing back then. But, Tommy's son had Mariakakis place out there on Fordham Boulevard for a number of years. I expect Tommy, he's retired now. But, he was one of the funniest natural humorists I've ever known - Mariakakis.
Interviewer: And what kind of things would he...
Roland: It was a hotdog stand.
Interviewer: No, but what kind of things would he poke fun at? Just things that... Observations?
Roland: [laughing] Everything was funny to him. He says, "I see you come in." He says, "You're the tallest person there." He say, "What you doing here now? What you need? I'll take care of you." You don't have any money, he'll still take care of you.
He found a wife from Greece. The two of them ran that place together. George Levis was a Greek also. Did the very same thing. He went back. His wife I think, is in one of the institutions here now, the retirement institutions. But, these people were the heart and soul. They chose Chapel Hill, they came here, gave themselves to it, worked very hard. Danziger was another example of it.
The people who chose Chapel Hill in a sense are more important than Charles House and myself, because we didn't choose Chapel Hill. We grew up here, we liked it, we didn't leave. But, they came here, they contributed to it, saw something good and that was wonderful, what people like that have done for the community.
I won't say those earlier days were better, I'd just say it was a different kind of thing where you felt a greater institutional loyalty. Now, many people are more loyal to their calling. A surgeon may care about his surgery and he's worldwide and that. My father loved French. He was a devoted French scholar, but he also cared very deeply about this university. He taught here 35 years, retired here and contributed to it in many ways.
Interviewer: And did you have siblings here too? Did you have any siblings?
Roland: Do I have children?
Roland: Yes, well, I have a brother, older brother. He's in poor health in New York City. Been there all his career.
Interviewer: So, he didn't stay in Chapel Hill?
Roland: No, not at all. We both went in the army and he didn't come back to Chapel Hill. I was six years younger so we weren't that close growing up. We cared for each other but we were just not really close.
Interviewer: And your children, how many were there?
Roland: Well, I have the three children, all of them in pictures over there. Three sons. They're adults and we have seven grandchildren. One of them, number three son, is in Chapel Hill as a psychiatrist. Number two son is a clinical psychologist. He has a practice at Central Lenore and Hickory. Number one son in a sense followed what I've done too. He's a publicist for Davidson College. Davidson, you know, it's been a pretty heady time at Davidson lately.
Interviewer: What's going on lately?
Roland: Well, Davidson's near Charlotte. It's a very fine liberal arts college and they went all the way up to... Well, it would have been in the final four and Carolina would have played them if a funny thing hadn't have happened on the last shot Davidson made. It just failed to go in.
I say it, but my career was always in Chapel Hill. I was very ambitious from the earliest days, even going back to elementary school. The idea of newspapers just fascinated me then, and so I ended up starting on a newspaper here, then after it went out of business, I edited the 'News of Orange County,' which is a weekly.
And then, from there after a while, it was sold and I went on and joined the alumni staff, ended up as acting alumni director, but I resigned in 1981 and then went with the Villages Companies, which is WCHL. And at one time, they had 12 different media companies and the Village Company was the holding company for all of them. I was just in headquarters doing kind of community relations, stuff like that, when I retired after 16 years in 1995.
Interviewer: And was your first job with the paper? What was your first job?
Roland: That was the 'Durham Hill Sun.' They didn't have a Chapel Hill person at the time; so I covered Chapel Hill, everything except sports, for the morning and afternoon newspapers for a couple of years until the 'Chapel Hill Weekly.' I had applied there, they didn't have a reporter and so they needed somebody to solicit advertising also.
Interviewer: And that's what you did.
Roland: I did that for a couple of years and loved it and then it was sold to the philanthropist George Watts Hill. That's when... We thought, see, there was four... The professor of journalism, Phillip Slessor, was one of the icons of the journalism faculty. And then, there was a guy who taught advertising, L.M. Polley, and then me, well, I was already in newspapers here.
And then, the guy who owned the 'News of Orange County,' that's four people, we had a fifth corporate partner, which was the 'News of Orange County.' Well, we thought we had complementary skills, so let's start a competing newspaper, and we started the 'Chapel Hill News Leader,' coming out twice a week.
We thought it was a pretty good newspaper. We just had a hatful of nickels, never could pay the bills. It lasted five years, five hardworking years and I loved doing it.