Franklin Street Stories


Jock: My name is Jock Lauterer.

[0:40] Once upon a time, there was a street like other streets and college towns, that is a place that is more than a street, it is a heartbeat. The 100 block of Franklin Street to a Chapel Hill native is hallowed ground, made so by all the events that we have all witnessed over the years. And I am thinking now of the '60s specifically when I was a college student and a DTH [Daily Tarheel] photographer. My college apartment overlooked Franklin Street, it was on Henderson Street where — let's see — what's that restaurant over the East End Wine Bar what ever that is ... upwards, upstairs right there.

[1:46] I can't remember the name because it is not apartments now, can't remember the name of the place, but it is right there on the corner of Franklin and Henderson Street and there were apartments, there were three apartments in the '60s and I had one with two pals.

[2:03] And I had the garbage room, which was three feet wide and 16 feet long and had nothing but garbage cans and in one end I had a darkroom, which if the realtors had found out, they would have gone nuts because I had painted it — there was a window at the end of the garbage room and I had painted it black and then draped blankets over the window and then draped blankets over the door. So, I had an absolute beautiful dark room. Completely unventilated. It was unheated, no air conditioning, so in the summer I had to work in there with gym shorts on basically. Didn't worry about the heat in the winter — never got a cold in the winter.

Interviewer: [2:56] So, you haven't suffered any ill effects from that unventilated dark room you had there?

Jock: [2:59] I don't know, maybe that's what happened to my hair. So be that as it may, the setup is that I was the DTH photographer, and I lived right over Franklin Street. I went to Harry's every morning for breakfast. The DTH was in Grand Memorial. So Franklin Street was not just a main drag, I mean it literally was the place where things happened. And I think Chapel Hill in the '60s was much more oriented, the campus was much more oriented to north campus, to McCorkle than it is now.

[3:47] It has grown that way and seems to me Franklin Street has diminished tremendously in its impact. People don't respect it. Like they usually race up and down in their cars and I have to shout at them. I mean, I am not kidding, I holler at people, "Slow down, this is Franklin Street, have some respect." "It is freaking Franklin Street," as Roy would say.

[4:05] So, coming of age as a photo journalist in the '60s was absolutely the best of times, the worst of times. The worst of times because there were so many events about which all we DTH kids felt so passionately about and yet we had to be as objective as we possibly could. And I crossed the line many times, which is to say I would take pictures and put down my camera and pick up a sign.

[4:37] That is really not journalistically ethical is it, but be that as it may, the best of times because you didn't have to go anywhere to cover hard news, it was happening right here on your campus. There was civil rights, there was women's rights, there was Vietnam and the Speaker Ban law.

Interviewer: [4:56] So, when did you come on campus?

Jock: [4:59] I was a UNC student '63-'67.

Interviewer: [5:06] So, you started right when the Speaker Ban was ...

Jock: [5:09] Exactly. I was here in just the right or wrong time if you will. Of course, I was a photographer in Chapel Hill High School. I started with the DTH immediately, summer session in 1963. I was a shooter for the Chapel Hill Weekly, the historical predecessor of the Chapel Hill News.

[5:36] Started selling newspapers for Roland Giduz probably at eight and somewhere in there and maybe for the Chapel Hill Weekly, I am not sure which, but I certainly was a paper boy on Franklin Street you know as a waif. I was selling newspapers first before I delivered it. That was later.

[6:02] So, here we are, the Speaker Ban law comes in and I am going to skip over the civil rights, the peace vigils, all that stuff and just tell the story about Speaker Ban, because this really is a love story about Franklin Street, but also about the love of my life and how I found her on Franklin Street.

[6:31] So, let's place this in time. It is 1966, I believe, because that would be my junior year and the student body president, well known to all, was Paul Dixon — the late Paul Dixon, died tragically in a car accident later. He was very much in cahoots with President Bill Friday in trying to figure out a way to circumvent the Speaker Ban law and came up with this brilliant idea of inviting a speaker, not a communist, this is Frank Wilkinson who is a First Amendments geek ... activist — there is the word — who refused to take the Fifth Amendment and therefore was banned from speaking on our campus. He wasn't necessarily a communist; Herbert Aptheker who came later, was absolutely.

[7:43] And here he is on the steps of Silent Sam and here is the campus police chief telling him, you are getting off this campus and here are all I believe the [inaudible]. But the Frank Wilkinson event is the one about which I want to tell the story. So, Paul Dixon, student body president comes up with this great idea of inviting Wilkinson and having him speak on the town of Chapel Hill's property on the sidewalk directly facing McCorkle Place, the rock wall separating the speaker from all the kids.

[8:25] There were hundreds and hundreds of kids come to hear him and of course a slam on the Berlin Wall, we put up this — no, not we — the students put up a sign that said "Governor Moore's Chapel Hill wall." Moore had been of course the Governor of North Carolina at that time, under whose watch the Speaker Ban law came in.

[8:52] Well, I had photographed a lot of demonstrations and I had to figure out how am I going to get the best picture I can get. And I saw this tree right there and being a nimble old tree climber from way back, with my clunky old two-and-a-quarter square Rollerflex, which is not a good camera to be climbing a tree with and I climbed the tree and had this wonderful high-oblique view looking down on Wilkinson, Paul Dixon and the students.

[9:24] This particular picture we are looking at was published in a book that came out in '68, my senior year and thereafter called Only in Chapel Hill, but that picture is only a part of a larger picture, which very few people have ever seen and I now bring it in.

[9:52] Because it shows much more of the crowd and there you get kind of a sense, sort of like that, kind of get the idea. I am tiling two 8 x 10's together, so you can see there might have been a thousand people there, because I didn't photograph them all, but you can see all the way up to Silent Sam and over to the Alumni Building. And there is Bill Walker from WCHL — who is now I believe at WSOC in Charlotte — with his funky old tape recorder, is recording Frank Wilkinson.

[10:35] Now, why is this a love story? Fast forward 1966 to home, October 23, 1993. Why do I know this date so well? I am now the head of the photo program; I am an associate professor at Penn State, where I have been for two years. I have been divorced for 13 years. I'm between girlfriends and I am at the only over-30 singles bar in State College and I am reading a book. Which is a really good technique, because people can't stand it, especially women ... "What are you doing?" "You are not trolling, you are reading a book." "So?"

[11:27] This is a good way. It is like the right kind of woman is going to come up to you and talk to you if you are reading a book. And I actually needed to read the book, but I also needed to be there doing multitasking, I would say. So, here comes this woman and she says, "Excuse me." I looked up and here is this what I would call a good-looking, middle-aged babe. She said, "I believe we were at Carolina together." And honestly, my first thought was there is no way. And that is what I said, she looked quite too young to me.

[12:09] And that was the right thing to say, of course. In retrospect it was not planned. She said, "No, I believe I saw you running on the beach this summer in North Carolina." Now, that is extraordinary, because I go to a very small beach, not a lot of people there. I mean, that is pretty extraordinary, some 600 miles away and this person would know who I was. And absolutely, Long Beach is my beach, Oak Island, I go there every summer, so I am now looking at this woman and I realize that she is with somebody and I say, "Can I join you?" which is the right thing to do, so I go join them.

[12:52] And we commenced to talking about shared experiences at UNC and she said, "Well, I was a student activist." And I said, "Well, I was a DTH photographer." She said, "Oh, I know, you were the guy in the tree." I went "What?" She said, "At the Speaker Ban rally, right there on Franklin Street, you were the guy in the tree, everybody knew you." And my jaw dropped. And on our first date, I pulled out this photograph because she said she was in the crowd. And I said, "Oh yeah?" So, I pulled out the photograph and here it is and she went "Oh yeah, here I am." And there indeed she is.

We have been married for 14 years now and you know what, she is still an activist, so I knew from the get-go that I agreed with this woman politically and that is one of the reasons that people can be compatible. If they are politically in tune, I'd say there is a 90% chance of having a good marriage all things else being equal. So, that protest brought me together with the love of my life and Franklin Street was the reason and we lived happily ever after.