I first came to Durham, NC in the spring of 1968. Dad had taken a job with Nello L. Teer Company and the family would be coming up after the end of the school year. Dad rented a UHaul trailer, the biggest one they had at the time, loaded it to the gills and hitched it up to a 1961 Pontiac Bonneville. I couldn’t drive yet, so I was just along for company and to help unload the trailer at the destination (plus it was really cool missing a week of school: this was back before they had any of that spring break nonsense). Starting in Houston we came the southern route, through Alabama and Atlanta. The Interstate was not complete at the time and all told it was about a 1300 mile drive. Took 3 days to do it and they were 3 long days. With the fully loaded trailer we were limited to 35 mph, not because of the speed limit, but because of physics. Once the speed exceeded 35 that trailer was swaying all over the road. Dad was a champ, but we were glad to get to Durham.
And so I was also glad to arrive in the Durham Area (Mebane, NC, to be precise, about 20 miles west of Durham) on Tuesday hauling my own 7 ton Beast. I ended up spending 7 of 8 years in high school and college in Durham. They were good years for me with many fond memories, so the place always has a strong hold on me. Durham has changed a lot in almost 50 years, to say the least. All of the old tobacco warehouses downtown have been converted to posh hipster uses. Durham is now quite the foodie town, which it most definitely was not when I lived here. The roads are better: driving around it seems smaller than I remember it, but maybe because it’s a much more freewayed town. Plus, even I-85 coming from Greensboro was WAY better than it once was.
Spur of the moment Wednesday night I caught a Durham Bulls game. The old stadium where they used to play and that was used in the movie is still standing, but they now play in a modern park that’s very nice.
And they have maintained the signature bull down the left field line.
Right after this pic was taken it started to rain. Fortunately my seat was under the roof. After a 1 hour delay the game went ahead. The home team ultimately won on a walkoff grand slam in the ninth inning, the stuff of every player’s dream.
General first impression then: Durham is still a good place. Although there are still things about it that make you shake your head.
But there is always the insanity antidote, a North Carolina original: