RamFanatic, A Pirate?
For those of you who have read the "bio" section of this site, you know that I attended East Carolina University for several months upon graduating from high school in 1950. I had not been serious about attending college while in high school because I thought my family wouldn't be able to afford to send me, but as most high school seniors do, I changed my mind midway through my senior year and had planned to enroll at Pfeiffer College in Misenheimer, N.C. My reasons for choosing Pfeiffer were twofold. First, they would admit me and second, several other members of my senior class were going to attend Pfeiffer.
I had a friend who was a very good basketball player but he had not received any scholarship offers until he participated in the statewide all-star game during the summer of 1950 at Elon College. He had a good game and Howard Porter, the East Carolina coach, liked what he saw and offered him a scholarship. Since this person was my best friend and had planned to attend Pfeiffer with me, I almost panicked. He suggested that I come to East Carolina with him but I couldn't see how I could manage to do so, particularly at this late date.
I went with him on a trip to East Carolina, liked it, got an offer to handle sports publicity through the University News Bureau and just like that I was a Pirate.
We might as well go ahead and deal with the school's name now and get it over with. Some of you may not know that from 1907 to World War II, East Carolina University was named East Carolina Teacher's College (ECTC). After the war, it became coed and it's name changed to ECC and, of course, now it is ECU. We were very sensitive about the name when I was there and we resented like all get out when we were referred to as ECTC. I have a friend who attended ECU years later and he says the sensitivity now is toward being called ECC or if you really want to make their followers ready to fight, just call them EZU.
I still wasn't ready to take life or college seriously when I began at East Carolina and continued to perform far below my capabilities. I didn't study but a couple of nights during the first quarter and the worst possible thing happened to me. I passed all my courses. I was headed for a disaster but just didn't know it. I hung out with a group of older, hip guys and that made it even worse. An example of how frivolous I was is that I would use the meal books I was paid for the publicity job to have my friends as guests in the dining hall. I have no idea what I thought I was going to do for meal money when the books ran out.
In 1950, East Carolina had a decent football team. Teams I can remember playing were Hampden-Sydney, Newport News Apprentice, Elon, Guilford, Appalachian,
and Western Carolina. I have often wondered if they called Western Carolina WCTC before they became coed. We played Atlantic Christian (now
Barton) in their last football game ever for the "Bohunk Trophy. The word bohunk means "nothing" and it was a spoof of sorts. You win the game and you get to keep the "nothing trophy" for a year. All of the Atlantic Christian players were declared eligible immediately at other schools when they gave up football. I remember that well because my roommate and I got another roommate shortly after the end of the season. The quarterback from Atlantic Christian.
I remember trying to think of ways we could get publicity for the football team and above all we wanted to schedule respectable teams so we would be recognized. The closest we came was when the team scrimmaged Duke in secrecy in Durham. They didn't even tell me and I was supposed to be the sports information man. Well, I was only a freshman and who was going to pay much attention to a freshman.
I finally gained some respectability when I arranged for Bill Dole, the head coach, to be featured in Bill Ballard's special sports celebrities section in the Raleigh News and Observer. I had worked there as a copy boy and that didn't hurt in getting Coach Dole included. I will always remember Ballard calling Dole the "Pirate Perfectionist" and everybody loved it. I noticed that people started speaking to me after that who had ignored me previously.
A good Bill Dole story that scared the devil out of me. One day when Coach Dole and I were walking from practice, he said to me that he didn't want me to give his top assistant any favorable publicity. He explained that he was going to leave East Carolina and he didn't want him to get the head coaching job. This is pretty heavy stuff for a freshman with 3 months on the job. He didn't tell me it was confidential but I immediately suspected some game playing was going on and I was fresh meat. I kept it to myself and, sure enough, at the end of the season, Bill Dole assumed the head coaching job at Davidson of the Southern Conference, a step up. We all thought he might replace Peahead Walker at Wake Forest but it was not to be.
Why am I telling you all of this? It's because each time UNC pays East Carolina, I think back to my abbreviated stay in Greenville and how much of a Pirate I was. I had always been a Carolina fan but you wouldn't have been able to determine that if you had observed me when I was at East Carolina.
The first time I witnessed a football game between ECU and UNC, I dreaded it because I was afraid I would have divided loyalties. Once the game started I was O.K. There is no divided loyalty. I'm a Tar Heel. But I admit that, oftentimes, I am irritated by how some Carolina fans talk about East Carolina. I have to wonder if they are native North Carolinians or if they are transplants. I understand the Eastern North Carolina mentality and I sympathize with some of their feelings that they never get any respect. The Medical School thing brought all this to a head and the fact that the medical establishment in North Carolina was opposed to establishing an additional medical school in the state aggravated the situation. Eastern North Carolina feels they have always gotten the short end of the stick in modern times and they are probably right. Tobacco and BBQ aren't the things that make for success in this day and age and until they can establish himself in some other area of endeavor, they probably will lag behind the rest of the state economically. I really would like to see the Air Freight Distribution Center near Kinston make a go of it because I think it would have a positive effect on all of Eastern North Carolina.
So now you have it. RamFanatic was once a Pirate for a short while and he still thinks of his days on the Greenville campus with fondness. I remember a group of us guys gathering underneath the windows of the girls' dorms after they had met curfew and singing the requests that were called down from the windows of the dorms. That group eventually became the East Carolina Men's Glee Club and I'm proud to say I was it's first president. I'm not sure Men's Glee Clubs exist anywhere anymore possibly with the exception of the Ivy League. I went into service in January of 1951 and didn't see my picture in the yearbook until 1988 when I hired a person whose mother was at East Carolina at the same time I was. He brought the yearbook to work and my staff had a good laugh at the boss when he was a teenager.
So don't worry about who I'm going to cheer for Saturday. It's UNC all the way. Oh, one thing I forgot to tell you. I am taking an East Carolina grad to the game as my guest. We have developed a few rules and I think we will be all right. I took him to the Florida State game and you could not have told any difference between the two of us based on the support we were giving the Heels.
I know. This game is different.