Back in the Day (30 Years Ago: Durham, NC)
Today I paid a visit to Brightleaf Square, old tobacco warehouses built in 1904 by the Liggett & Myers Tobacco Company and converted into upscale retail shops. It’s very nice. The concept existed back when I lived in Durham, but the shops, cafés and the like were not nearly as nice. This area of downtown has seen a significant revival.
We were looking for a specific t-shirt Steve had seen the night before:
One shop keeper said it would be a Vaguely Reminiscent, on 9th street, if anyone had it. Nineth street, very close to Duke, is a blast, very quirky, and Vaguely Reminiscent is fantastic! We need a branch of this local shop out here in Sausalito! Odd and very eclectic things you didn’t know you needed until you see them here!
Next we headed off to the American Tobacco Historical District. (Actually, I just wanted a photo of the Lucky Strike* water tower and had no idea what had been built here!) Even though I detest the tobacco industry, the American Tobacco Historical District is totally new and very, very well done. It’s Durham’s version of San Antonio’s river walk area.
The old warehouses and historically consistent additions surround a massive, gurgling water feature. The warehouse bays are populated with mixed use that is as diverse as it is cool: cafés and restaurants, concert venue, theater, Duke campus use, dance studio, et. al., even a radical innovation incubator. The area features the tobacco history of Durham and ends with its baseball roots. Someone had an amazing vision here and the astounding resources to bring that vision to life. Also, just across the street is a large and beautiful performing arts center, just enormous for the size of the city. I truly was impressed with this area.
Those days, 30+ years ago, were hard days, even though I had no idea at the time. I worked nonstop. I was working 2 full time jobs and had zero free time. My second job, as church music director, was a whopping 185 mile roundtrip, and I went there twice a week! (Why? Because I earned more money with that part time job than I did as a teacher in Durham County. I think I started at around $6,000 that first year.) And, despite the fact that I was still caught up in the fundamentalist religious movement (cult), these were good days filled with lots of good people. I was having the time of my life.
Shout out to the former students with whom I have reconnected: Don, Kenny, Scott, Charles, and Grear. I would love to reconnect with so many others!!
It was good to touch this place and that time again as it dusted off many, many memories. My life is so radically different today, different and vastly better. (For one thing, I’m not sleeping on the floor like I did when I first moved to Durham, not kidding! As a kid just out of college, I literally owned nothing but my few clothes! LOL)
Below are about 150 pictures
*As a child I was assigned the task of walking down to the corner grocery store to buy my mother her packs of Lucky Strikes, her favorite brand. The long term affects of smoking killed my father and are today causing my mother untold misery with her breathing. Have I mentioned that I detest the tobacco industry?