Almost Forgotten

It's difficult to say how much I have enjoyed using my UNC Alumni Directory since receiving it shortly before Christmas. I have looked up a lot of old classmates and I am thoroughly enjoying telephoning each of them to see how they are doing. One phone call a couple of weeks ago brought back some memories that otherwise would probably never be recalled and, for that, I am indebted to my friend who experienced the event with me and reminded me of it. He is a good writer and I had intended to retain his written account of the situation but I punched the wrong button on my keyboard and lost it forever. I was tempted to ask him to write it again because stories are sometimes better when told from a different perspective, but I finally decided that I would tackle the job myself.

The event to which my friend referred occurred in Charlottesville during the "64 football season. The Heels had enjoyed one of its best seasons ever the year before and had gone 9-2 with a big win over the Air Force Academy in the Gator Bowl 35-0. However, the '64 season was not going so well and the Heels came into Charlottesville with a 4-4 record.

Several UNC alums and I were attempting to form an alumni chapter in Charlottesville at the time and we had scheduled a dinner on the Friday before the game and a gathering after the game. Needless to say, I was hyped for the game but I was fearful that UNC would not be aware of the tremendous resolve of the Virginia team and fans to beat the team that had done so well the previous season with many of the UNC players being from Virginia. Chris Hanberger from Hampton was the co-captain for Carolina and Ken Willard from Richmond was also on the team among others.

The Friday night before the game, I went by my friend's house and informed him, with the help of a few Budweiser's, that I was concerned about the situation. One thing led to another and I finally suggested that we go to the motel where the Carolina team was staying and try to impress on the players and coaches how high the Cavaliers were for this game.

As it turned out we didn't see any of the players but we did talk with Coach Hickey and several of the assistants. I remember well Coach Hickey standing with cigarette in hand and listening to me as I made my case. He didn't show much emotion but then again he never did. My friend says I did a superb job of describing the situation for Coach Hickey but I couldn't tell whether I had gotten through to him or not. I found out the next day.

Virginia was fired up, as I thought they would be, and defeated the Tar Heels for the first time in 7 years. Not only that but Virginia proceeded after that game to add 4 more consecutive victories and defeat the Heels 5 times in a row. This was at a time when the Cavaliers were not very good but, then again, the Tar Heels weren't very good under Coach Hickey either since we had only 1 winning season while he was the coach. Later on in the 70s, we would defeat Virginia 9 times (74-82) in a row, something we may never see again based on recent performances.

Looking back on my stay at the University of Virginia, it was very pleasant except for those occasions when UNC and Virginia met in athletic contests. The first UNC-UVA game I attended after being employed by UVA was the worst. I think all of my friends spent more time watching me (at least I thought they were) than they did watching the game. I squirmed and tried not to show my support too blatantly for UNC because I was seated in the middle of the UVA faculty section. As the game wore on, I became more relaxed and politely rooted for the Tar Heels. I guess I was lucky because this was during the period when it was totally acceptable to drink alcoholic beverages at football games, particularly at UVA.

We may have lost the game but the party afterwards was great. We even had them announce it over the loudspeaker in Scott Stadium and it caused a spirited "boo" from the partisan crowd.

I plan to continue making calls using my Alumni Directory and who knows, I may be reminded of other Tar Heel Tales from the past. If so, they will find a resting place here with us.