One day years from now, a couple of successful UNC alumni might be sitting on a stage discussing their experiences as Tar Heels thanks to a scholarship from the Wake County Carolina Club.
At the club’s fourth Old Well Celebration, which raises money for those scholarships, two men who already have enjoyed successful careers, lawyer Wade Hargrove ’62 and radio executive Don Curtis ’63, on Wednesday discussed their lives and experiences as Tar Heels before more than 100 alumni and friends.
The two sat in living-room-style chairs on a stage and chatted about issues in the news involving UNC to the long-ago wooing of smoky-voiced singer and actress Julie London. The format was question-and-answer, with Hargrove posing questions for Curtis to answer.
Hargrove, who became chair of the UNC Board of Trustees last year, jokingly led Curtis, chair of the GAA Board of Directors and also a trustee, through a range of issues and eras.
Among other issues, and without elaborating, Curtis said he didn’t feel “warm and fuzzy” about the NCAA, which placed harsher penalties and restrictions on Carolina than UNC officials thought it would after a long process of evaluating violations by the football program.
He added that he believes athletes should be paid $1,000 a year for expenses since many athletes don’t have money when they arrive at college and — with the year-round devotion to their sport these days — don’t have time to get a job to pay for incidentals. He indicated the money should come through the NCAA.
Danita Morgan ’81, Wake County Club leader and the driving force behind starting the Old Well Celebration in 2008, said Hargrove — who also received a law degree from UNC in 1965 and served as the representative for the law school’s alumni on the GAA Board of Directors in 1990-91 — and Curtis are so important to the community and the University. “We don’t normally have this event in May, but they are so busy that this was the only time we could get them in the same room at the same time,” Morgan said.
The event raises thousands of dollars to go toward partial scholarships to Carolina for Wake County residents. About $30,000 already has gone to help students realize their dream of attending UNC.
The cost of getting an education has changed drastically since Hargrove and Curtis were at Carolina. During the early 1960s, Hargrove said, tuition was $75, while Curtis chimed in that students could eat at Lenoir Dining Hall for a dollar a day — 20 cents for breakfast, 40 cents for lunch and 40 cents for dinner.
That was about as serious as the discussion got as the two laughed about their times growing up and as UNC students. Hargrove led Curtis into his coming-of-age story involving London and her visit to campus by saying she was “an absolute knock-out gorgeous woman.”
Curtis — who said he was in love with the star, who was newly divorced and in her late 30s at the time — begged, pleaded, finagled and lucked into being London’s personal assistant during her visit. He said she was very nice and down to earth throughout the day. After her performance and the subsequent meet-and-greet with UNC dignitaries that night, London asked the 20-year-old Curtis to escort her to The Carolina Inn, where she was staying. “I thought I’d died and gone to heaven,” he said.
On the way, he saw a couple of friends, and Curtis told her that they would be impressed if she would speak to them. “She could have won an acting award,” Curtis said. “She cuddled up to me and told them how wonderful I was.”
Curtis said he started to believe what she was saying and figured that maybe she was attracted to younger men. “I thought, ‘I’m going to get lucky with Julie London, and I’ve never been lucky with anyone before,’ ” he said to a roar of laughter. However, once they got off the elevator on her floor, she turned and gave him a peck on the cheek and said goodnight, leaving him with only an entertaining story to tell.
— Clifton Barnes ’82