November 24-29: A Week in Amsterdam, Netherlands
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December 22-28, 1980:
Christmas in North Carolina


Christmas this year found me going home again to be with my family- Mom and my sister Judy and her family. I thought about driving, but then I thought that it would be a shame to waste a couple of days behind the wheel- so I flew back and forth to Charlotte, and used my Mom's car while I was there.

I got a early-afternoon flight down to Charlotte, and by the time I'd rented a car and got to my Mom's house, it was getting on to late afternoon.

I went to a school near my mom's house to do some jogging, and then we went to dinner downtown and then played in an evening game at the Charlotte Bridge Club.

The house I grew up in is in South Charlotte a little north of Woodlawn Road and just a block off Park Road, but my Mom no longer has that house. She sold it in 1977 and moved to a new, more modern condo further south, also off of Park Road. Below, left, is an aerial view showing where my Mom is now, and at the right is a view of the condo, taken from the starred position and looking basically south:


Here's another case where the views available to me in 2017 don't match up with the reality at a particular time in the past. The new condos right along Park Road were not there in 1980; they won't be built for another 25 years or so. My Mom's condo development is a small one; there are just two buildings with six units in each. All the units are the same size- two bedroom, two bath units. My Mom's condo is the first-floor unit on the north side of the north building.

My Mom likes the condo; it is just the right size for her and much easier to take care of than the house she used to have. It is also a good deal more modern, having been constructed in the late 1970s (the house she sold was built in the 1940s). Everything my Mom needs is nearby, including a grocery store and pharmacy. Before Bill moved in with her, she could walk to both of them, and about the only driving she did was to the bridge club. Now that she and he are together, he as once again assumed the role my Dad used to play- being the "man of the house" and taking care of the chores like driving.

I spent the 23rd with Mom, playing bridge and eating out. On Christmas Eve, the two of us drove up to my sister's house, and I got us rooms at a local motel. I want to show where, exactly, my sister is, but the difficulty I have is that between my visit this Christmas and the time at which I am writing this online narrative (early 2017), a lot has changed, physically, in Elon, Burlington and North Carolina, with the result that the way one gets to my sister's farm today is much different than it was in 1980.

Today, to get to my sister's farm, I followed the same route that I have driven for fifteen years to get near to her house. Getting from Charlotte to the vicinity of Elon is a simple matter of getting on Interstate 85 north from Charlotte towards Greensboro, and staying on that highway after it becomes coterminus with Interstate 40 and heads more east to Raleigh.

The exit for Elon College (even that name has changed, as Elon College has become Elon University the town has changed its name officially to simply "Elon") put you on Huffman Mill Road- actually one of the streets which, if you follow it northeast, will take you to Burlington, NC, the larger city just east of Elon.

So just off the exit from the Interstate, you have to double back on Garden Road which actually goes northwest more towards Elon (blue route). It connects to South Williamson Avenue, which you take north, across US Highway 70, through the center of Elon and out to the north, eventually angling off to the northwest.

In the first decade of the 21st century, development south of Elon and Gibsonville led to a huge new shopping area along Interstate 85, and so a new exit was constructed for access to the expressway. At the same time, a bypass was built around Elon, so that so much traffic wouldn't be going right through the center of town and right through the campus. So now, to get to the side of Elon on which my sister lives, you can get off Interstate 85 at that new exit, and take the much-faster bypass around to her side of the college town (green route).

Anyway, once you get to the north side of Elon, my sister's farm is about three miles to the northwest, off Elon-Ossipee Road.

My sister has a really nice farm a quarter mile west of Elon-Ossipee Road. She's been in Burlington since college, and when she married Bob they bought a piece of land and built a house on it. That was twelve or thirteen years ago. Their two kids, live at home of course; Ted is 11 and Jennifer ("Jeffie") is 10.

Judy and Bob bought the land and then built a house on it; the only structure they kept when they bought the property was the old red country barn down by the road. That's where the other residents of Greyfield Farms, as Judy has begun to call it, reside; those would be my sister's horses.

There's an aerial view of my sister's property at left, but of course it doesn't show the farm as it looked this year. The biggest change between then and now (as I write this) was the construction of a new, modern, cement-floored barn up near the house, to take the place of the vintage dirt-floored old one.

I always like visiting my sister and Bob (and the kids, of course), not least because it is a chance for me to get out of my city environment and into a more pastoral one. It's good for the soul.

We arrived at my sister's about two in the afternoon, and Mom and I had a good chance to visit. before noon, and had a chance to reconnect with her, Bob and the kids. My sister is a great Mom, not for the least reason that she is very inventive and creative. Judy fixed supper for all of us, and I took a few candid pictures.

Below is a picture of Ted and Judy (sorry it is out of focus) and at right are a couple of pictures of Jeffie doing something with either one of the saddles that are on a rack in the playroom or some of the harnesses she uses when she rides.

The day after Christmas, we visited a friend of Judy's who does pottery in a small studio near Holly Hill Mall. I took a picture each of Jeffie and Judy, and I had Judy's friend take a couple of me:

Here is Jeffie, working on her creation.

Judy, doing her own pottery work. She was much better at it than I.

I didn't do a very good job, but even so, Judy's friend fired the piece and gave it to Judy who sent it to me. I still have it, way back in a closet where no one can see it.

Believe me, doing pottery looks much easier than it is. I never could get the sides and top right. I guess I'm just not the artistic type.

Mom and I drove back to Charlotte a day later, spent another day at the bridge tables with my Mom, and then I flew home to Chicago.


You can use the links below to continue to another photo album page.

November 24-29: A Week in Amsterdam, Netherlands
Return to Index for 1980