October 19-25: A Trip San Francisco and Sacramento
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December 22-27, 1981
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 had some bulky gifts for folks this year, so instead of flying to North Carolina, I packed up the car and drove.

The drive down to North Carolina, which I have done before, is pretty easy and relatively quick, due to the fact that almost the entire length is Interstate highway. In fact, getting through Chicago and down to the south side to pick up Interstate 65 to Indianapolis is the slowest part of the trip.

In Indianapolis, I skirt the city around the northeast side on Interstate 465 to the southeast corner of the loop, and then head southeast on Interstate 74 to Cincinnati. In Cincinnati, Interstate 74 ends in an interchange with Interstate 75, and I just merge onto that highway heading south out of Cincinnati towards Lexington, Kentucky. In Lexington, I stopped to drop in on two Baskin Robbins stores before continuing south through Kentucky and into Tennessee and Knoxville.

In Knoxville, I pick up Interstate 40 heading east towards North Carolina. Interstate 40 takes me across the Blue Ridge Mountains on one of the most scenic stretches of interstate highway in the entire Southeast to Asheville, where I have options. If I were going directly to my sister's house in Burlington, I'd just stay on Interstate 40 for sure. Since I am heading to Charlotte this time, I could go that way and meet up with Interstate 77 south to the city, but it is a bit shorter to take Interstate 26 down through Hendersonville, North Carolina, and then get off the Interstate and take US Highway 74 east through Gastonia and on into Charlotte. US 74 is still a divided highway, and the speed limit is only a bit less than the Interstate. There are a few towns that it skirts, with a couple of stoplights at each of them, but being such a major highway, your chances of actually having to stop are relatively low.

I left Chicago very early in the morning on the 22nd, and by early evening I was in the city of Charlotte and heading down to my Mom's house.

US Highway 74 eventually puts me onto Interstate 85 into Charlotte, and at this point the map at right is misleading. The Interstate 485 loop shown on the map was not in place in 1981; there was a section of expressway from Interstate 85 on the northeast side of the city down to US Highway 29 at the Cabarrus County line, but the route to my Mom's house doesn't go anywhere near there.

Instead, I take the relatively new Billy Graham Parkway around and across Interstate 77 where it becomes Woodlawn Road. Heading east, I turn right on Park Road and go about three miles south to my Mom's condo.

The house I grew up in is in this same part of the city, but a little north of Woodlawn Road, but of course I am not headed there, but to the new, more modern condo that my Mom bought and moved into in 1977. 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 1981; 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.

I arrived at my Mom's condo about six-thirty in the evening, early enough to out with her and her friend Bill for dinner. When we returned, I took a couple of pictures.

(Picture at left)
This is my Mom, Olga, dressed up for dinner, sitting in her living room in the condo on Cranford Road.




(Picture at right)
Here is another picture of my Mom, this time with her jacket on just before we headed out for dinner. The picture on the wall behind her is one of two that I purchased in the Far East a couple of years ago. It is actually a very fine embroidery, though, and when you look closely you can see all the individual threads. (I bought two of them, and gave the other one to my sister.)

My mom has always been one of the most stylish people I know. She acquired that characteristic early on; I can remember as a small child growing up that she was always making her own clothes, and at least on a couple of occasions, entered those outfits into a contest held by the National Association of Women's Clubs and won first prize (statewide, one year).

I might also mention here, since he will show up in some of the pictures on this page, that my Mom has met a nice man just a few years older than her; his name is Bill Michaelove and they met at the Charlotte Bridge Club. He is widowed, and the two of them have a great deal in common. He loves to squire my Mother around, and of course she loves the attention. When they go on trips, he makes the arrangements and pretty much takes good care of my Mom. So both Judy and I are happy that she has him in her life; my Mom asked him to give up his own apartment and move in with her, and so Judy and I are also happy that our Mom is not alone. None of us are getting any younger, and so it is always good to have someone close.

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 my Mom and Bill. I played bridge twice with my Mom that day down at the Bridge Center where my Mom and Bill like to play, and where my Mom and I have played innumerable times. We did fairly well both sessions, as I recall.

On Friday the 24th, I drove up to my sister's house in my own car; my Mom and Bill chose to drive up late that day. 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 1981.

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 13 and Jennifer ("Jeffie") is 12.

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.

I arrived at my sister's before noon, and had a chance to reconnect with her, Bob and the kids- Ted (11) and Jennifer (10). My sister is a great Mom, not for the least reason that she is very inventive and creative. Today, she's changed the double door between the living room and the kitchen into a puppet show stage.

My Sister, the Puppetmaster

Ted and Jennifer- the Puppeteers

Mom and Bill arrived about dinnertime, and Judy fixed supper for all seven of us, and after supper I asked my Mom and Bill Michaelove to sit on Judy's couch so I could get a couple of pictures. They turned out OK, but I wish that my Mom had kept her eyes open when the flash went off:

Mom has been seeing a good deal of Bill, who is a widower. He works at a company that sells solder, and he does pretty well at it. That's not his main occupation. His main occupation is that he is retired. He used to sell furniture wholesale, but was tired of that by the time he turned 65, so he got the selling job with a friend of his. He and Mom play a lot of bridge, which is how they met, and Bill loves to take Mom to dinner and generally make a fuss over her. Mom loves the attention and I think she is quite fond of Bill. It would be nice if my Mom could get together with someone again, but she seems to be happy enough by herself.

This Christmas, I gave Ted one of the new computers from Radio Shack, a TRS-80. Called the Color Computer, it had 64K of memory and used a regular TV as the monitor. I have one myself, and find it useful for certain limited tasks. It is a useful tool for learning about computers, and I thought that Ted should become knowledgeable about them. I have done right well in the industry, and I can easily see that in the future, computer skills are going to be in great demand. Of course, he's only eleven so it may be a while before he becomes a programmer Here I am trying to figure out a programming problem in Basic. Note the Rubik's Cube on the desk- another popular gift item this season.

These hobbyist computers are much, much smaller than the computers that the Bank used or that Cullinane clients use, but they also cost a lot less. This one was about $600, including the cassette drive that I bought so that the data storage can be expanded. If you want to store a lot of data or a big program, you write it onto a cassette tape. The cassettes look just like the audio cassettes that you buy, but they are supposed to be designed for computers. I don't think that is really the case, but it is a way to charge a bit more for them.

To see what your program is doing, you need to have a TV to display the program and its results, so I bought the family a GE TV, which cost less than the computer itself. The day before Christmas, Judy and I went shopping for a table big enough to hold everything, so that they would have a place to work. The TRS-80 Color Computer isn't very sophisticated, but it is fun to play with and quite an amazing device. After all, the computers that I worked on at the Bank only started out with 512K of storage, although they were a good deal faster and had large disk storage devices. Maybe if they can shrink those computers down to this size they can shrink the disk drives too.

Anyway, I remember that my first Bowmar calculator, which I still have, cost $480 when I bought it in 1972, and it didn't have any memory at all. In 1975, I bought a Texas Instruments calculator that had little tapes that you fed through it. You could write a program of up to 224 steps that could be held in its 1000-character memory, and that machine cost almost $700. It looks like the prices aren't going down much, but the capabilities of the machines are certainly increasing, so I guess that is the same thing.

We stayed at Judy's through Christmas Day, and then we headed back to Charlotte. I stayed another day or two with my Mom and Bill, playing more bridge (which I always enjoy) and then I drove home to Chicago.


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

October 19-25: A Trip San Francisco and Sacramento
Return to the Index for 1981