December 28-29, 1994: Frank and Joe Visit Fred's House
November 26, 1994: Frank and Joe Visit Dallas
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December 17-27, 1994
Christmas in North Carolina


In the couple of years after Grant's death, I drove home at Christmas and then down to Fort Lauderdale. This year, I decided to give Florida a rest and simply flew home to Charlotte, rented a car at the airport (my mom sold her car years ago as she no longer drives) and then spent ten days with my Mom in Charlotte and with my sister in Elon. After my arrival, I spent four days with my Mom, playing bridge and doing some Christmas shopping. My sister came down on the Monday before Christmas for a visit, and on the 22nd I went up to spend a couple of days at her house.


At My Sister's House in Elon

As I often do, I drove up to my sister's house in Elon, following the same route as always.

Getting to my sister's from Charlotte is a trip that I have made innumerable times. We did it quite a few times when my Dad was alive, and in the years since I have driven the route more times than I can count. There have been changes over the years as new highways have been built, but it is basically the same route.

I left my Mom's condo and headed south to Tyvola Road, and then west back to I-77, which I took north to the interchange with I-85. Then it's north on I-85 all the way to Greensboro. The road has been widened in sections over the years as the Piedmont cities have grown, and there is now a new bypass around Greensboro altogether. I-85 continues to I-40 just east of Greensboro; actually, I-40 terminates in I-85.

It is in the route to my sister's farm from I-85 that the biggest changes have come, although most of those occurred subsequent to my trip up here this time.

At this point in time, I follow the same route that I have followed since my sister first moved up here from Charlotte and first my Dad and then Mom and I have come up to visit.

I exit off I-85 at Huffman Mill Road, and then double back west on a local street to pick up Williamson Avenue, a street which does not have its own exit from I-85. This I take north through the town of Elon and right through the middle of Elon College (now Elon University) and out the north side of town.

This puts me on Elon-Ossippee Road that angles off to the northwest, and I follow that all the way to Lowe Road, the country road my sister is on. Turning left, I go about a half mile to her driveway.

Like most places, Elon has grown in the twenty years since 1995, to the point where there has been a lot of development near to I-85 (which is now six lanes rather than four) southwest of Elon proper. There has been so much growth in this area that a new road has been built to intersect with I-85; it is called University Drive.

Now I can get to Judy's without the convoluted route from Huffman Mill and without going through the University. This new road connects to a bypass that has been built around Elon, and it connects up directly with Elon-Ossippee Road. My guess is that this cuts fifteen minutes off the trip to see my sister.

You may not care very much what my sister's house looks like, but just to make my album more complete, and because I have access to it now, I want to include an aerial view here.

The pond belongs to the property next door, although her driveway runs quite close to it. She has the two barns, the house, and all the property to that tree line between her and the farm next door (where they grow cash crops). Judy has horses, and so her pastures are undeveloped.

Today was the last day of school before the Christmas recess, and when I got to my sister's farm she was still at her job as a library aide at the local middle school. So I drove over there to see her. I got a chance to see where she does her thing, and what some of the students are actually like. I think that kinds today are, on the average, a lot further behind where we were at the same age.

I met some of Judy's friends and co-workers before the school day ended and we headed back to her house.

As is usually the case when I come to visit, one of the first things my sister likes to do is to reintroduce me to horses I have met before and introduce me for the first time to any new additions.

Back at the farm, I got introduced to all the new arrivals again, but I confess that I can't remember all their names.

Judy has three horses of her own and boards two others and here are most of them. This is in the pasture just to the west of the house, which you can see in the background.

That afternoon, we also went over to the in-town home of a friend of Judy's- Lucy Kernodle. Earlier this year, Lucy had asked Jugy to use her artistic ability to design part of a rug that she was going to have made. Lucy wanted some horses on it, so Judy did the sketches for them. Then Lucy sent the sketches and her design for the border overseas and had the rug made. Lucy had just received the rug in time for Christmas, and Judy wanted to see it. It turned out beautifully, and here it is in Lucy's living room. I tried to get as much of the rug in as possible, but I just should have done a close-up on one of the horses.

Back at the house, my brother-in-law Bob was home from his job as a pharmacist, and here he is with his new Toyota. Note the appropriate license plate, as Bob is quite attached to Daschunds, a couple of which can be seen here.

And below is my sister with one of her prize possessions. I am constantly amazed that, at least for Judy, life turned out almost exactly how she planned it.

I spent the night up here with my sister, and most of the next day before heading back down to Charlotte to help my Mom prepare for Judy and Bob to come down for Christmas.


At My Mom's House for Christmas

Before we look at the pictures I took on Christmas Eve and on Christmas, you might be interested in knowing a bit more about where my Mom lives in Charlotte.

The area where my Mom lives was once a far-out area near SouthPark Mall. Originally, we lived near Freedom Park, and when we moved there in the 1950s, our area was one of Charlotte's southernmost developments. The city essentially ended a mile or so south of us.

Over the years, of course, the city grew, and when it did, it grew more to the south than in any other direction. Park Road Shopping Center, two miles south of where we were, was the first open air shopping center in Charlotte, and the largest of any kind between Washington D.C. and Atlanta when it opened in 1956 with 32 stores. On opening day, while the adults were occupied trying to win one of three new Ford automobiles, a drawing was held to give away 25 girl's bikes and 25 boy's bikes. The stores had actually been open for some weeks, and with every purchase (or just if you asked for one) they'd give you an entry form for the drawing.

To maximize my chances, I went there every chance I could and didn't just pick up one form but a whole handful. I patiently filled them out at home, filed the stubs in a shoebox numerically and put the entries in the collection boxes throughout the center. When the drawing began, I was gratified that my many hours of filling out the forms paid off when mine was the second name called. It was also the fifth name called. And the seventh. After it had been called five times (only one bike, sadly) I was called up to the platform and asked how many forms I'd filled out- about 600 as it turned out. After the drawing, I recall going and looking inside the big wire drum where the entries were, and I could see mine sticking out all over the place.

Fourteen years later, one of Charlotte's first two enclosed mega-malls opened four miles further south- SouthPark Mall- and my Mom now lives near there. Of course, Charlotte kept growing, and even though SouthPark is still the city's most upscale Mall, more, larger ones have opened in the far south suburbs. Charlotte now goes all the way to Pineville- which used to be eighteen miles south of our first house!

Anyway, my father died in 1974, my Mom continued to live in that first house on Somerset Drive until one of her best friends from up the street sold her home and moved to a small, two-building condo development right off Park Road about three miles south. Mrs. Segrest liked it so much there that Mom thought it might be time to do the same thing.

So, in 1977, my Mom negotiated the sale of the little Cape Cod on Somerset Drive and moved into a two-bedroom, two-bath unit in the Cranford Drive Condominiums. She absolutely loved it- with everything new and modern, including central air-conditioning. She made the move, with my sister's help, while I was living in Chicago.

You can see an aerial view at left of the condo development. Of course, the aerial view is current, so I have had to mark some of the buildings that have been constructed since the visit this album page details. Mom doesn't drive anymore, but there is a grocery and drug store that she can walk to just a block north on Park Road.

It isn't essential to the photo album, but since this is something more, you might be interested to see a picture of my Mom's condo, and I have one- courtesy of Google Street View (not available in 1994).

My Mom's unit is on the first floor of the north building; each building has six units, two on each of three floors with an outside stairway and breezeway between each tier. The actual entrance to Mom's unit is on the far side of the building in this picture. The north half of the unit has the two bedrooms and two baths, and the other half has the kitchen in front by the parking area, the dining room, and then the living room with the bay window that you see here.

I helped Mom get ready for Judy's arrival on Christmas Day, and at noontime on Christmas Eve, Ted stopped by on the way to his shift at the Charlotte Police Department. He was in uniform, so I took the opportunity to take a couple of pictures:

Ted had lunch with Mom and I before heading out on duty. He likes his job a lot, I think, and, like his mother, it is what he always wanted to do. Anyway, now for the pictures that I took when Judy, Bob, Mom, Ted, Jennifer and I spent most of Christmas Day together:

At left is my niece Jennifer and my sister Judy at mother's house in Charlotte. This is one of the photos I took before we lit into the gifts under the tree; sadly, Jeffie was clowning around when I took it.

Below are Jennifer, Ted, Judy and Mom. Except for the fact that Ted always seems reluctant to look straight at the camera and smile, this is a pretty good picture of the four of them:

Below right is my brother-in-law Bob. I don't know why I didn't get him in the previous picture.

And below is my mother, with the 1994 Christmas tree still in pristine condition. About an hour later, it wasn't. My mom is 84 now, but still seems to get along quite well. Her eyesight seems to slowly be getting worse, but all in all she is still pretty independent for her age. I hope that continues.

My last picture of this trip has everyone enjoying Christmas dinner. I did the cooking for the event, and it all turned out very well. Mom loved the ham, and everybody (including me) was able to take some home. It was a very pleasant meal. Of course, around the table are Bob, Ted, Mom, Jeffie and Judy.

This was one of the nicest Christmas trips I can remember. I stayed on at mother's through the weekend, and left the next Tuesday morning. I needed to get back to Dallas to go up to Fred's to have a belated Christmas dinner with him and Frank, and Joe, who would be visiting again as part of a trip of theirs to Fort Worth. Also, our office at E&Y was moving to a new building, and I needed to go into the office on Wednesday and Thursday to pack the stuff from our team room so it would be moved over to the new building.

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

December 17-27, 1994: Christmas in North Carolina
November 19, 1994: My 48th Birthday Party
Return to the Index for 1994