Who's Got the Tickets?

In over 50 years of attending UNC athletic events, I have had some unusual experiences involving tickets. Most of my situations have had pleasant endings and I thought you might enjoy hearing about some of them.

My first unusual experience with tickets occurred before I ever attended a UNC athletic contest but it was a rude introduction to the real world and prepared me for what I was to encounter later in life.

In 1942, as part of a U.S. War Bond Drive (they were originally called War Bonds and later called Savings Bonds ) they brought a captured Japanese two man submarine to Raleigh. Best I can remember, you had to purchase a certain number of U.S. War Bond stamps to get a ticket which would allow you to walk up a ramp and look inside the submarine. It was put on display on Fayetteville St. in front of the Wake Country Court House or at least the court house at the time.

There was a huge crowd there to see the submarine and an unusually large number of school children present at the time I went. Thinking back, they probably let us out of school early to encourage sale of the stamps. I was with a couple of my friends also in the third grade and it never occurred to me that anyone would try to take my ticket away from me but that's exactly what happened. A group of older and rough looking boys not from my school walked by me and my friends and one of them, in what I would later call a "professional manner", pulled my ticket out of my hand and continued to walk as though nothing had happened. I was so shocked that I froze. I didn't know what to do. The boys in the enemy camp were older, bigger and I could tell, meaner than me and my friends. Realizing that I was not going to be able to see the inside of the submarine without a ticket, I knew I had to do something or just wait for my friends to view the inside of the sub and then have to endure their discussion of what it looked like and how great it was. Not a pleasant thought for a 10 year old.

Finally, I summoned up enough courage to chase down the culprit and say to him " Give me my ticket back", not knowing what to expect next. I sort of expected him to deny that he had taken my ticket but to my utter amazement, he handed me the ticket. I said a little prayer of thanks and rejoined my friends to view the interior of the sub. I realized that day that life was going to be tough at times and correctly assumed that the incident was not going to be the last time in my life someone would try to take something away from me by force or trickery. Unfortunately, I was correct in my assumption but I was better prepared for it the next time.

The second incident occurred when my friend and I decided one night that we were going to go to a UNC-State basketball game in Reynolds Coliseum on the campus of N.C. State. We didn't have tickets but we had heard stories about possibly being able to buy tickets outside the Coliseum from people who had extras We had no idea where they got extra tickets but we were willing to give it a try. We had gone a couple of times previously and were unsuccessful in getting in. You can imagine how it felt to hear the crowd roaring in the Coliseum and not know what was transpiring on the floor.

This particular night, we knew we had to do something different or we would fail again. So we decided we would ask fans walking up to the main entrance if they had any extra tickets, much the same as is done now almost from the time you get out of your car. After several "no's", a gentleman stopped and reached into his coat pocket. He pulled out several tickets and said "I've got a couple." We didn't know what to say since we had never engaged in a transaction before. We finally asked him how much he wanted for them and he said we could have them for free. We almost fell on the ground but we thanked him and proceeded into the Coliseum. To say that we were pleased with ourselves and the opportunity to actually see a game in the Coliseum might be the understatement of the century.

The next event occurred at UVA when I worked there in the early 60's. Several friends and I were going to attend a UVA game and I had purchased the tickets for all of us. We got to the entrance gate and I reached into my pocket for the tickets only to find that there were none I couldn't figure it out at first but then I remembered that I had changed pants just before leaving the apartment. I told my friends to wait at the gate and I would be right back. I ran to the car and raced back to the apartment, got the tickets and returned to my friends at the stadium. Would you believe that we didn't miss the kickoff? Someone on high was looking over me that day.

The next one was when I visited the office of Chancellor Aycock in the South Building in connection with an alumni chapter we were trying to form in Charlottesville. After we finished our business and I was preparing to leave, he asked if I was going to the game later that day. I said I was and he asked if I had a ticket. I told him I didn't and he took out of his pocket a handful of tickets and asked me how many people were in my party. Friends, it was the only time in my life I remember ever going to a game alone but on this occasion, I was by myself. I told him "two" figuring I could call someone from my hometown (Raleigh) who would want to join me in the Chancellor's box. To make a long story short, I couldn't find anyone to join me and I watched the game from the Chancellor's box alone. While it was very nice, it didn't compare to the Chancellor's box of today but, for the time, it was great.

The last situation occurred when I took a group of friends down from Richmond to UNC for a basketball game. We had made a day of it, singing Carolina songs going down, watching video tapes of old Carolina games, and eating BBQ. Finally, we parked at University Mall and prepared to board the bus for the trip to the Smith Center. I took the tickets out and distributed them to my friends. It was then that I heard the words that almost caused me a heart attack. One of guys said, "This is a ticket to a Carolina football game." Everybody started laughing but you better believe I wasn't laughing. It took me a couple of seconds to realize what had happened. I keep all my tickets in the same place and when I took the ones for the basketball game, I disremembered ( old southern word ) that I did not go to the last football game that year but had failed to destroy the tickets. So, when I reached for what I thought were the basketball tickets, I got football tickets instead.

I assured everybody that I didn't know how but we were going to see the game. They tried to assure me that it was all right not to go, but I wouldn't have it. We went to the Educational Foundation Offices and I explained what had happened. Since my tickets had been issued through the Ticket Exchange Program, it took only a couple of seconds for them to identify the seat numbers and we were issued a hand written pass that worked just as good as regular tickets. Again, someone on high must have been watching over the situation but one thing I learned that night and that is I have a strong heart. I don't want it tested like that again anytime soon.

So there you have it. I've never tried to total the number of UNC athletic events I have attended but it's a lot. If I have had no more trouble with tickets that I have described, then I guess I've been pretty fortunate.