Written by Bill Wood
Chapel Hill North Carolina is a LONG way from Midland, Texas. There weren’t many Texans around when I was there from 1966 till graduation in 1968, but it was always really fun just BEING from Texas. It was, at the very least, a conversation starter. I loved my time and experiences there including those wonderful hills and trees, the life long friendships, and the fascinating history that spoke from so many places there. Of course it was special to my ears to hear both the history and the people speak with a such a delightfully pleasing southern accent.
A lot of important history was being made during those times. The Viet Nam war was calling for a lot of our brave and patriotic friends. My football injuries resulted in me being released from Naval ROTC, so I was unable to serve. The whole country was unsettled about the war and protests had become violent in some places. UNC was then, and still may be, a place with no paucity of liberal ideas and independent thinking. That was all pretty new to me, and I’ll have to admit, I really missed out knowing and understanding a lot of what was going on around me.
It was during my senior year that Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. Of course there was truly a world wide reaction of grief, disbelief and anger. There were wide separations in the way that people felt about it, especially in the South. UNC, like many others, was a big party school and I was in a fraternity. The biggest party of the year was “Pig Dinner.” The week before it was to take place, the governor (because of the many outbreaks of fires and violence and vitriolic speech of all kinds), placed a state moratorium on all sales of alcohol. In a fraternity meeting the call went out…”who will volunteer to go to Virginia to buy the liquor, for Pig Dinner?” Of course my hand shot up. I talked a few volunteers into going with me and we took off, entrusted as we were with money from the fraternity alums for the very spirit of the party to be.
Well, we drove to Virginia and bought the booze and headed back. Just after we crossed the state line into North Carolina…road block. May we look in your trunk son, “well I guess so” was my pre law school response. There, on the side of that small country Carolina highway, the troopers poured out every bottle, even to the very last drop , except one…the evidence. I was taken to jail in Hillsboro, N.C., the last capital of the confederacy, till my poor and broke friends could go back and scrounge up the bail money. Several weeks later, while all my buddies were on the spring break trip of all our dreams, I appeared in my very first court hearing on a motion to suppress evidence. My fraternity paid $50.00 for a great lawyer. We won! I was inspired and I still am. I think it must have been “something in the water!”