Sunday, November 25, 2012

Chapel Hill, North Carolina: West Franklin Street 2

This is the "ghost entrance" to Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill. This portal worked magically in the mid-1980s. I was employed as an officer runner here at the time and, near the end of Algonquin's operations at this West Franklin Street location, as de facto shipping manager. We stored most books in the very nearby warehouse of The Chapel Hill News (aka Weekly). Go through those shadows now and you'd find repurposed offices and new people working in them.  

Across the street, to the right, was Pyewacket (at 431 West Franklin), a nifty-fifty eatery and social focal point adjoining "The Courtyard" area in the back. Now there appears to be another restaurant in the old Pyewacket space -- Vimala's Curryblossom Cafe.

By November 24, 2012, when the above image was captured, a mural of flowers had sprouted on the back walls. New since I worked there. The wooden frames weren't there before, either. The rail fence on the right was. I remember one day seeing Michael Jordan in a convertible at the adjacent spot in the roadway, making some kind of commercial.

I was just coming back to this exact same spot from a delivery errand on January 28, 1986 when the NASA Space Shuttle Challenger blew up. On the radio station I had on in my car, a reporter claimed everything had gone perfectly, but when I got to the office a few minutes later, everyone was freaking out -- and for good reason. Things had not gone perfectly at all.

David Lynch's Blue Velvet came out later the same year, in September.  At Algonquin, there was extra buzz about Blue Velvet because it had been filmed in Lumberton and Wilmington, North Carolina.

Final echo: up and down that spectral hallway pictured above, a moustached man would loudly whistle "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah" as he came and went via another office suite -- for months and months in a row. Not too surprisingly, he was nicknamed "Mr. Zip-a-Dee" by Algonquin staff.  But hey, at least he wasn't whistling "Blue Velvet!" No sign of him this time around. Wherever he is now regardless, there may be a Mr. Bluebird on his shoulder -- which would be plenty weird enough.

Today's Rune: Signals.

1 comment:

Charles Gramlich said...

The whistling fellow cries out for a story.