by David E. Brown ’ 75
ew of the many who know her have ever
heard about the 13 minutes of home
movies from the early 1940s. Finally per-
suaded to make a backup copy, she took it
to the library. The student on duty there
watched it as he converted it to DVD.
Then he pleaded for a copy of his own.
The camera pans familiar campus landmarks from
familiar angles, in full color. Cupolas and tall columns and
dirt paths through the quad. The long view from the
wooded eastern edge of the Hill, nothing but trees to the
horizon. A towering Gimghoul. Suddenly two men in
The Perfectly Placed
’til you learn
Athas ’ 43
DAN SEARS ’ 74
uniform, walking with purpose. Flashes of a bonfire.
Cheerleaders in long white skirts lead the marching
band, out of uniform. Coeds whoop from the backseats
of roadsters. The sign by the huge pile of scrap metal says,
“After the game the Iron Dukes will be here.” Dressed-up people clutch orange drinks in the Kenan stands; they
rush the field. Young women laugh over cigarettes.
Cut to the unpainted house on Merritt Mill Road,
the contaminated well, the barn from which the kids
pulled planks to burn in the fireplace. The camera
catches Pan Constantine Athas and a couple of his children. His middle daughter, in a skirt and plaid shirt,
blonde hair curling just below her shoulders, romps in a
field, and pushes her shy mother toward the lens. Neighbors walk the train tracks on that harsh line where
Chapel Hill meets Carrboro. A car kicks up a roostertail
of dust on a dirt road.
On one Christmas break from this time, Daphne
Athas — class of ’ 43, matriculate to the bottom rung of
the faculty ladder in ’ 68, where she is, happily, to this
day — grabbed her little sister and hiked to the vacant
campus from the far end of Cameron Avenue. They
sneaked past a housemother and took up residence in