This is the third in a four part series of Tar Heel themed games and activities.
Sometimes to fully appreciate items in my collection, you have to hear a story from 20 years in the past. This may not be one of those times, but you're going to get the story anyway.
The Story Behind the Object
I grew up in the relatively small town of Statesville, North Carolina, which is nestled in the heart of Iredell County, the "Crossroads of the Future" according to county welcome signs. But instead of the future, the crossroads it is most well known for is being the point at which Interstates 40 and 77 cross. It's also where the speed limit on I-40 drops from 70 to 60 for approximately two miles, generating what I imagine is a decent amount of income to the city from speed trap - excuse me, speeding ticket - fines.
So Statesville wasn't large, but it was bigger than a Murphy or a Manteo, and I wouldn't have wanted to grow up in a Charlotte or a Raleigh. Essentially it was the third of every item that Goldilocks tried out - not too big, not too small. Not being huge, however, the local schools didn't have a plethora of extracurricular activities from which to choose. Unlike in Chapel Hill, where students can play lacrosse and, at this point, I'm guessing Quidditch, as well as other niche sports, we mostly had your standard choices: football, basketball, baseball, soccer, etc.
We did have the running sports, though, so I ran track my freshman, sophomore, and junior years and cross country my sophomore, junior, and senior years. I never had blazing speed and certainly didn't pose a threat to win any meets/races, but I now look back at those sub-20:00 5k times as the glory days of my running career. Amazing how aging 20 years can slow you down by a minute or two per mile. I imagine putting on 30 pounds probably hasn't helped, either.
I give a fair amount of credit to running for my being accepted to the University of North Carolina in the first place. Sure, I had decent grades and an above average SAT score, but so do virtually all other applicants. I've heard that running cross country shows determination and grit and as such is highly regarded by the folks that review applications. I guess I'm lucky they only saw that I participated and not my actual finish times.
The other item that I strongly believe had an impact on my college acceptance was my participation in "Acts for Christ," a youth drama team at my church. I mean, just look how well rounded that made me appear! An "athlete" and an "actor" on top of being a scholar? What more could they ask for?!? Never mind that in reality I was primarily a guy that played Capture the Flag until the wee hours of the morning at friends' houses, went to the movies two or three times a month, had every episode of Saved by the Bell memorized, and enjoyed playing Madden and 007 on my Nintendo 64. In retrospect, my resume - while 100 percent accurate - made me look like a much better candidate than I probably was. Then again, I guess that’s the entire point of a resume.
But back to Acts for Christ for a minute. You probably read that and wondered what a "youth drama team" even does. A lot of different things, actually. Around Halloween we always had one of those "Judgement Day" performances involving someone tragically dying and hearing their fate at the Pearly Gates. For a small town church, this production was fairly elaborate and involved an upside down car in front of the church and a local police car and ambulance that drove through the parking lot by the windows of the fellowship hall with their lights on at just the moment of the car accident during the show. Side note, you know you're from a smaller town if your church has a "fellowship hall."
Every Valentine's Day we would do - actually, I’m not really sure what to call it. Interpretive movements makes it sound like we were dancing, which we weren't. Let's just say we performed various scenes set to old(er) songs. For instance, an Italian dining scene set and acted out for “That’s Amore.” An around the room conga line during “Celebrate Good Times.” Four high school girls dressed up as the old women from Golden Girls for “Thank You for Being a Friend.” I don’t even know what genre to categorize the songs as, other than “songs that parents and/or grandparents recognized in the late 90s.” And I don’t think that’s an actual genre.
But the last thing the drama team did was an annual “drama tour,” as we called it. The first few years it was a true tour featuring the same performance multiple times in various locations. One year we road tripped around North and South Carolina stopping at different small town churches each night and performing. Gradually, it morphed into a week long trip where we would do a couple of performances, but also stay in one spot longer (such as NYC, where I actually played street ball in the Bronx one day) and host a kind of back yard bible school for local kids. The performances on these trips could accurately be described as skits and interpretive movements, typically sign language or motions to a song.
The grand finale was a “dramatic reading” (for lack of a better description - despite being on the drama team, I’m not well versed in theater terminology, though I do still remember the definition of a vomitorium, which I learned in Drama 16 with Kenneth P. Strong at UNC) of the story of Isaac and Abraham followed by a song called "Arise My Love" where we performed choreographed movements with dowel rods to the words of the song. I wish I had a video of this to share so you could see how impressively I could raise and lower a dowel rod to music when I was 17, but alas, smart phones weren’t a thing then.
And that - choreographed movements with dowel rods - mercifully brings me to today’s collectible: a pool stick. I couldn’t have the story behind the object describe our pool table room, since I used that story for the billiard balls column in part two of this series, so instead you got a lengthy description of my high school credentials. You're welcome.
Carolina Collectibles Description
This is a one of a kind pool stick given to me by my parents. The top half is a wood grain color, while the bottom half features wood painted white with a hand grip of navy blue (or it could be black, I'm terrible with colors) threading. The white portion in the middle has been engraved - or etched, or maybe laser cut is the best terminology - with a "Tar Heels" in blue, and the bottom white portion has a blue laser cut interlocking NC. The very bottom is black and has "Another Piece of Carolina Crap" laser cut into it.
Little known fact, but before Argyle Report so graciously allowed me to post my Carolina Collectibles columns, I had created a (now defunct) website called Carolina Crap to house these musings. My parents had this pool stick custom made by someone in Charlotte who happened to be a Duke fan and had no problems printing that it was crap on the bottom.
This is a good quality stick that has been my number one choice of pool cue when playing at home since I received it nearly two years ago. I don't want to toot my own horn, but I've beaten a lot of folks at pool with this cue.
Carolina Collectibles Comparison: John Henson
Long and thin are both words that could easily describe this pool cue or John Allen Henson of Tampa, Florida. Both also became instant contributors when they arrived in Chapel Hill and my collection, respectively.
Carolina Collectibles Rating: 5 Stars
Useful? Check. High quality? Check. Unique? Check. Five stars for this one.