Today got off to a scary start as my cell phone went missing early which would have complicated the trip significantly had Rene not found it late in the afternoon. It did keep me from taking the bike ride I wanted to take between rainstorms as I was hesitant to wander off in an unfamiliar city with neither a map or a phone to call for rescuing me from wherever I ended up. That was sad as Tom had showed me a nice network of bike paths only a few blocks from his house the night before. Oh well.
However to make up for it Rene and I went out to a cool burger place called of all things The Burger Place. There we had a very big lunch with an Elk burger with Duck bacon as the main course for me. Interesting burger! We also had poutine which I have avoided most of my life in deference to my arterial health. However I am in the land of fatback and Rene said it was good and it was much better than the only other time I had it. Oddly enough the other time was with Tom's roommate from Amherst who lives in Boston now.
After that huge, delicious lunch we went down into town to visit the International Civil Rights Museum which is located at the location of the Woolworth store where the whole lunch counter sit-in movement started. They still have the original lunch counter intact. The original four students were freshman from the local A&T college who came up with a creative, brave and ultimately effective method to chip away at the Jim Crow laws. The counter itself was surprising large as the one I was accustomed to in Smithtown where I grew up was just a single row of about a dozen stools and this was L-shaped and had at least 20 stools in each direction. The one in Smithtown is long gone but this one being historically more important has survived to teach about the courageous folks who sought to change the status quo. The battle still continues so many young people have the feeling that those pioneers in civil rights were not really successful so it is important to see that there has been significant change in just my lifetime.
We came home after that and then Tom and I met his son and daughter-in-law for pizza. The Pizza place was in a mill complex that is being converted to a multi-use property. Tom's family owned the mill and Tom's father was the mill superintendent at that site. Tom said he had only been there a couple of times but the second time was as a young teenager after a flood in the mill. He told the story like this: Cone Mills was the supplier of denim which in the 60's was a very hot commodity. This being the old days before just in time manufacturing there was a lot of denim stored at the plant and it was wet and covered with mud after the flood. Even having cleaned it they would have to sell it as seconds for pennies on the dollar. A salesman in New York upon hearing about this catastrophe suggested that they should just bleach it a little as all the hippies around Greenwich Village had bleach spots and dirt on theirs. So they dropped some bleach on it and ended up selling it for a premium price starting the distressed jeans business that is the standard look today.
We returned home in time to catch UNC beat Gonzaga in the NCAA finals. Right until the end I was worried that driving out of the state I would have to dodge UNC fans throwing themselves off highway bridges. So looking at it purely from a selfish perspective it is probably a good thing that they won although as Gonzaga has never won it before and UNC has a long history of winning I could have lived with the alternative even if the Carolinians could not.