Friday, May 28, 2010

Memorial Day 1961

(I'm repeating a story which was first posted on this website on Memorial Day 2 years ago)

On 29 March 1961, Clarence J. Abadie led a flight of 16 UH-34s from Bangkok to Air America's new forward operating base at Udorn in northeastern Thailand, 40 miles sough of Vientiane. The helicopter forces soon became involved in supporting Hmong forces engaged in a fierce battle with the Pathet Lao at Pa Dong. On 30 May, the first Air America helicopter pilots died in Laos, when Charles Mateer and Walter Wizbowski crashed in bad weather while trying to land supplies to the besieged Hmong.

I wish it weren't so, but it was a day of tragedy that (what's left of) our small family will never get over. My first cousin, and CHS54 graduate, Charles Mateer was (probably) shot down in Laos. (I say probably because I've since corresponded with Richard Crafts, the pilot of the other helicopter who had just landed at the site where Charles' helicopter was attempting a landing. They were under artillery fire at the time. Crafts said he couldn't tell if the copter hit the top of a tree, or it was brought down by enemy fire, but Charles was killed instantly. Crafts brought his body back to the Air America base in Thailand.

This was at a time when the world wasn't aware that the US was fighting communists in Laos. That's the reason that Charles had been discharged from the Army early......and joined AIR AMERICA, which, in reality was the CIA.

My aunt Kathryn and Uncle Harry, Charles' parents, received their last letter from Charles the day after they were informed of his death. They actually found some comfort in it, since Charles seemed so happy and fulfilled with helping the Hmong people continue their fight for freedom.


"All gave some,
some gave all."

Memorial Day 1999, the rest of the story

As tragic as Charles Mateer’s death was, in the back of my mind always lurked the thought that it could have been worse. What if he had not really died in a helicopter crash, but had been captured and tortured?

I figured that perhaps the relatively new tool (at the time), the internet, could help me finally put that nightmare to rest. I located the AIR AMERICA website…..and was able to find a number of veterans who remembered Charles and several who had flown with him, but none of them knew much more about his death than what the CIA had written in their official report.

The trail seemed to have turned cold, until a handwritten letter arrived that was dated, Memorial Day, 1999.

The return address was….a prison in Connecticut. It was from a man named Richard Crafts.

Crafts was the pilot of another Air America helicopter that had landed a few minutes earlier at the landing site where Charles’ helicopter would soon attempt a landing. This is how he described it:

Crafts flew the bodies of Charles and the other deceased pilot to an Air Force base in Thailand where the remains were handed over to the Air Force for return to the United States.

So thanks to Richard Crafts, my nightmare about Charles being captured, etc…..was over.

Unfortunately, his nightmare began a few years AFTER his service in Laos with Air America.
Crafts returned to the United States in 1966, settled in Newton, Connecticut and became a pilot for Eastern Airlines, then one of the largest and busiest airlines in the country. In 1976 he married a stewardess named Helle Nileson from Denmark.

November 18th, 1986 was the last time anyone ever saw her again.

Crafts was later convicted of her murder, which became known as the Woodchipper murder, because of the method in which he disposed of her body.

Her death brought about the first murder conviction in the state of Connecticut in which a body was never found.

Today, Richard Crafts, 71, prisoner No. 152724, is an inmate at MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution, a high- and maximum-security facility for men in Suffield, Connecticut.

The earliest he can be released is August 2021, when he'll be 84 years old.

So, now you know.............(as Paul Harvey used to say).......the REST OF THE STORY.  -Ed

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Up Dates

I got a note from Linda (Garmon) Huggins who started chemo this week to insure that the cancer cells were totally removed a couple of weeks ago. She and Ross thanked us for our concern:

"The first treatment was non eventful. Next week's the tough one, but we are hanging in there and thanking everyone for the blessings of friendship and caring.

Always friends,

Ross & Linda :)"


Ellouise shows no signs of slowing down. I told her in no uncertain terms that she's "not acting her age!"

Hi. In July, I'm bringing Pushing Boundaries, my one-woman show about untold 1970s women's history, to the 2010 DC Capital Fringe.

Have you been to the Fringe before? I'm excited to tell you that I've been assigned the perfect venue to tell this story. The Goethe Institute seats only 90, big enough to capture the energy of the time but small enough to allow for audience Q&A and sharing.

I hope you'll join me for one of the scheduled performances of Pushing Boundaries.

Pushing Boundaries might be a one-woman show but it's really the story of our collective history -- the 1970's grassroots women's movement, from both the women's artists and the ERA perspective.

So much of the story has been left out of official records. Isn't it time we captured more of it?

I've recently started a Second Wave Album Page on Facebook to help do just that. I've been posting photos, documents and other memorabilia. Please join the Facebook Page, and post your memories or questions.

I hope to see you soon!


P.S. Anyone up for trying to meet for lunch after one of the Saturday shows... a reunion of sorts?


Google Earth is a free software program that lets you view the whole world the way our satellites see it. If you haven't tried it yet, you are in for a surprise.   In the past couple of years, Google has added "Street Views" the satellite pictures....which allow you to see the sites like they appear from the street. It is absolutely amazing....but at the same time, I'm not sure I'm comfortable with the whole world figuratively speaking.....standing in front of my house peering at me, or "casing the joint," as the case may be,

But it is amazing!  This is what our old high school looks like these days.  You can click on any of those little camera icons....and you'll see what that camera can swing the camera around 360 degrees. For example, you can get a good look at the park across the street....with the signature willow tree...although the lighting isn't very good on that side of the street.....and that poor little tree looks kinda "pekid." as my mother used to say.

So, those of you still enjoying the good life in our old home warned!........we "ex-Charlotteans" are watching you!      -Ed

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Joe and Me

We were all saddened by the passing of Joe Riggs last week. If my memory serves me correctly, I had just started Junior High School when Joe and his family moved into a house no more than a block away from me. We immediately became friends and about half way through the 7th grade we were almost inseparable. The glue that bonded Joe and me appeared in the form of two beautiful 7th grade girls!

They also lived within a block of each other, but unfortunately, nowhere near Joe and me. So we spent more time “walking” than we did “wooing.”

I never fail to think of those days every time I’m in Charlotte and find myself on Independence Blvd. Joe and I crossed that road just about every day, when it was no more than a cleared path of mud during its early days of construction. I recall hearing my Dad refer to that major highway as “The Country Club Blvd.” (The feeling among many back then was that Charlotte didn’t really need it….it was only built so that the local politicians could get to their country club quicker.)

Another insignificant thing I remember about those times was a “secret” that Joe told me. His dad worked for Coca Cola…..and Joe had heard his dad say something about his company….that HAD to remain a secret. But he was dying to tell me, so until NOW…….I have never uttered a word about what Joe told me.
But I guess it’s OK now to break that promise.

His Dad had told him that “Coca Cola would NOT be able to maintain their long held price of a nickel…. for much longer….and would have to raise the price to….oh…..7 cents or so very soon!”

We both tried out for the football team that summer before the 9th grade. Joe wore a RED shirt every day of the try outs…figuring that would get Coach Edelman’s attention, thereby increasing his chances of making the team. He didn’t make it, but he DID make Edelman’s basketball team….and performed very well.

The “red shirt tactic” convinced me that anyone with that much awareness of detail would be someone who would go far in the business world. So we both decided to start a business together. We weren’t sure what kind of business to start, but we had read somewhere that to be successful, you must LOVE what you’re doing.


Rest in Peace, Joe.     -Ed

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Joe Riggs Dies

Jerry Gaudet reports that  Joe Riggs passed away early Tuesday morning.

 Copied here is his obit from the Delaware County Times:

Joseph E. Riggs, 74, of Upper Chichester, formerly of Swarthmore, a retired salesman, died May 18 at Crozer-Chester Medical Center, surrounded by his family.

Born in Pittsburgh, PA, Mr. Riggs spent his formative years in Charlotte, NC, graduating from Central High school in 1954 and the University of North Carolina in 1958. He moved to Swarthmore in 1966 where he was a fixture at youth sporting events, watching his children and grandchildren at countless games and track meets over the years. Mr. Riggs led the senior high youth group (E.Y.C.) at Trinity Church in Swarthmore for many years and was also a member of the choir.

Mr. Riggs lived in Upper Chichester with his beloved wife of 25 years, Marie (nee Licciardello). He and his wife loved to travel and vacationed frequently during their retirement years. Mr. Riggs was a career salesman, employed first with Flint Laboratories and later with John Wanamaker and Strawbridge’s.

He was predeceased by his parents, Clarence and Evelyn Riggs, brother Guy Riggs and son-in-law Robert Friedman.

Survivors: Wife, Marie; sons J. Edward (Janet) of Gettysburg; Michael (Elyse) of Jeffersonville; and Timothy of Charlotte, NC; daughter Laurie of Swarthmore; stepchildren James Gabe (Deanna) of West Chester and Cherie Friedman of Glen Mills; sister Jane Baucom of Canonsburg; two nieces and 13 grandchildren.

Service: 11:00 a.m. Saturday, D’Anjolell Funeral Home, 2811 West Chester Pike, Broomall, PA

Visitation: 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. Friday and 9:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. Saturday, D’Anjolell Funeral Home

Burial: SS Peter & Paul Cemetery, Sproul Road, Broomall, PA

Contributions: The Alzheimer's Association, 399 Market St., Suite 102, Phila. PA 19106.


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Happily Ever After

By Jerry Gaudet
CHS54 Senior Reporter

  Bob Yandle says "it's got to be a divine miracle - me - married 50 years!"

Bob wrote a note: "Would it be permissible to post this on the e-mail newsletter for the class of '54?"

 Well, sure!

 He stressed no gifts, but maybe a card or email would be OK, don't you think?  Perhaps a medal for Jeanette?

Rev. and Mrs. Robert Yandle (Jeanette)
2002 Carbonton Rd.
Sanford, NC 27330-3714

Congratulations Bob and Jeanette!! 

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Grandaddy is at it again

You all know about the problem I have telling stories to my grandkids. The stories are all true, but many of them sound so far fetched that the kids just think this old man is making them all up. My two oldest grandboys will be entering high school in the Fall and the other day they asked me about my high school and what kind of teachers I had, etc.

I figured that this was my chance to tell them a story that wouldn’t make their eyes roll back in their heads in disbelief and mumble things to their Mom about.......”'s time.......senile.....ready... for the home....etc.”

So I decided to tell them a simple story about one of my (our) favorite teachers. No embellishments, just a simple story about one of the great Central High School teachers.

"Well boys," I said. "Some classes could be kinda boring, but not his. We discussed a lot of subjects in his class. Being somewhat of a Civil War buff, I loved to get him talking about that subject. I especially loved to hear the stories that were told to him by an actual Civil War soldier......."

{Whoops, I immediately realized that I might be starting to slide down that slippery slope of I switched gears.)

“Before he became a teacher, he was an accomplished trick horse rider and know, like you see in the circus. He would stand on the back of a horse galloping at full speed .....and sometimes he would stand on his head on the back of the..............”

Well, there they go. I lost them again......

But, hopefully, you’re still with here’s “The Rest of the Story:” his own words:

"My father (NOT my grandfather) fought in the Civil War when he was a teenager. I was 6 years old when he died. My then thirteen year old brother, now 98, and I managed, in sequence, four farms until I finished high school.

During that time, I played varsity basketball and became a trick roper and rider, performing various rodeo stunts on a horse running at full speed, racing for the far end of the pasture; standing on his back, holding on to nothing but thin air, or standing on my head, this time holding on the saddle. (I wasn’t completely crazy.)

Then leaping out of the saddle, touching the fleeting ground, and ending up astride his neck, facing his hip. Sometimes I’d make it simple by just slipping out of the saddle, tapping the ground with both feet, and bounding back into the saddle. A scared rabbit could have killed me.
The horse never stumbled and fell but once and it was MY fault. I’d missed my timing.

Later after my third year at Carolina, where I’d experienced its fledgling interest in broadcasting,  (James Taylor’s future father and I were roommates) and where I’d also worked in the University’s News Bureau with Kays Gary, later a long-time columnist for the Charlotte Observer, I joined the Army Air Corps shortly before Pearl Harbor.

I went to Europe with 12 thousand others on the Queen Mary, which had no naval escort but nevertheless evaded 9 German submarines lying in wait to ambush us during our 5 day voyage. (Berlin announced that it had sunk us.) 

I was in Scotland, England, Tunesia, Algeria, Corsica, Italy (where I met and chatted briefly with the Pope at the Vatican), Libya, Egypt, and Palestine.

While in Algeria, one simple decision saved my life; a young captain, who had served in the Pacific, asked me to go with him on a test flight of one of our B-25 medium bombers, something we’d done before, down in the Sahara Desert, south of us.

But because of a prior commitment, I had to reluctantly decline. Unfortunately, he flew north, over the Mediterranean, not South, as he was authorized to. All we ever found were floating cushions and oil slicks. It was my duty to administer his last will and testament concerning his personal belongings.

After the war, I worked briefly as an announcer before returning to Carolina for further study in English, Broadcasting and speech; then at Northwestern in Evanston, Illinois where I was assistant program director at WNUR. Later, at Wake Forest, I was interim general manager of the station while the general manager, a young professor, was on leave to study film in Hollywood.

Although I thoroughly enjoyed all the things I’ve ever done, both civilian and military (other than the tragedies of war, of course) the most rewarding was teaching such remarkable high school students during the day and ambitious young bank executives in seasonal night classes for the American Institute of Banking. All of them, teenagers and bankers, greatly enriched my life.

As I approach my 91st birthday I can honestly say, to borrow a line from Jimmy Stewart ,"it’s been a wonderful life!”

Still is.

-Gil Ballance"   

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The main problem with teenagers is that they're just like their parents were at their age”

That’s so true in my case. Take choosing a college for example:

In 1954 I chose one that took only 2 weeks for me to realize wasn’t for me, so I transferred after the first semester. Two of my children did exactly the same thing.  All three of us chose a small school because…………well, because....

None of us has any idea. But 17 and 18 year olds are famous for thinking more with their emotions than their brains. Whatever it was, we all singled out a small, fairly obscure college to begin that phase of our lives. I picked Furman University in Greenville, SC. My oldest son picked a small school in Virginia that you never heard of. My daughter chose a small college in Murphreesboro, NC called Chowan.

None of us stayed at those schools more than one semester. I consider that the real beginning of our education.

Not that it affected our decisions, but the one thing that seemed to be a common denominator among all of those schools was their emphasis on how many foreign students they had. I’m convinced they still believe that gives them prestige and credibility.

Personally,rubbing shoulders with some of these darlings of the educators didn’t do much for me; although I must admit that it WAS a learning experience;

From the Swedish boy down the hall in my Furman dorm, I learned that not everyone in Sweden takes baths regularly. He NEVER did.

There was the middle eastern boy who spent more time putting on his turban than he did attending class.

Then, there was the French kid who bragged that his favorite hobby was….fighting.
(Actually we didn’t learn anything from him, but one of those South Carolina farm boys convinced him that he should consider some other hobby.)

Sometimes I think that in my next life, I’ll become an educator….and start my own college. I’ll call it DIVERSITY UNIVERSITY. It’ll be for kids who are not ashamed to go to school with fellow Americans.

 We’ll recruit all kinds of Americans, fat ones, skinny ones, tall ones and short ones. The girls, mostly southern, will all be beautiful and to emphasize our devotion to diversity, there will be a handful from New Jersey…so the boys will know what their children will sound like if they marry one of them.

Meanwhile, in Murphreesboro, that day I took my teenage daughter to begin her college career, we met one of the deans who showed us around the campus. I bit my tongue as he bragged about the number of foreign students CHOWAN had……as if I would be impressed.

But a few years later, I was impressed …….when the Associated Press told me the name of one of his students:

Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the principal architect of the 9/11 attacks.

According to AP,  "In 1983, Mohammed began attending Chowan College, a small Baptist school in Murfreesboro, North Carolina."


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Update on Linda

 Linda Garmon Huggins got a pretty good report from her doctor on Monday regarding her recent surgery, however she writes....

 "Hi Ed,

  The mass was cancerous, and chemo teaching starts next week.  Visible lymph nodes were clean, but the doctor said that the mass had been there a long time and that it would be foolhardy to assume there are no stray cancer cells floating around.  Pray that this one is also a belt and suspenders precaution!  Your encouragement is heartwarming.


Linda "

I know she wishes it were all over with, and it will be soon, but this extra bit of caution is well worth taking!

Of course we'll keep her on our prayer list and look forward to hearing all about her 2 (count em 2) new GREAT GRANDCHILDREN! 

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

National Wear a Basket On Your Head Day

I wouldn’t be surprised if there is such a designated day. Why not? There’s every other kind of official whack-o day.

More about that in a moment. If you guessed that the young girl with the basket on her head is…….Ellouise..... you are absolutely right! It’s Ellouise when her last name had only 6 letters.

To find out more about that picture, you have to go to Ellouise’s website to find out.
(WARNING: The Surgeon Sergeant has determined that the aforementioned website is addictive. You have been warned!)

Now, about those official days:  We just celebrated Mother's Day. Father's Day is coming up. So far, so good.

But have you made preparations yet for:

World Turtle Day - May 23?
or Donald Duck Day--June 9?

How about:

Carpenter Ant Awareness Week--June 20-26
Take Your Dog to Work Day: June 24
July 17-23 --- Cow Appreciation Week
Yell,"Fudge!" at the Cobras in North America Day--June 2 (Lord knows what that one is about.)
Buzzard's Day--March 15
World Rat Day 4/04
April 8 Draw a Picture of a Bird Day
Festival for the Souls of Dead Whales--December 10

"Wear a Basket on Your Head Day" can't be far off.   -Ed

Monday, May 10, 2010

Float Like a butterfly, sting like a bee

I almost forgot, not only did CHS Legend Jim Beatty throw that touchdown pass in the only game he appeared in during the 1952 season, he also won the boxing championship in his division two years in a row!


….at Central?

Yep, I had almost forgotten that too. The sport was discontinued after our freshman year.  -Ed

(Click on pictures to enlarge)

Sunday, May 09, 2010

The World Cop

The WORLD COP Donut Eating Contest Champion is Joe Dawson of the Wheeling,IL police Department. Just how many doughnuts he ate.....and how fast....wasn't made public, but I wanted to make sure that you alert Ronnie Rallis at Jimmies on Tuesday when you all are enjoying LDL.

Let her know that Joe Dawson's mouth is considered a lethal weapon (to unsuspecting restaurant owners ) and she should be on guard.

Meanwhile, make plans now to attend our 20th LDL at Jimmies of Mint Hill this Tuesday, May 11th at 11:30 am. Bring a friend if you like.

This will be the first one that Jerry will miss (prior commitment) so hopefully someone else will pick up a camera and send this website a few pictures of the event so those of us who can't attend can see what fun we missed.

Pictures and comments should be sent to me

Still Running

The legendary Jim Beatty is not the only famous runner from the Elizabeth Avenue home of the Wildcats.  Our own Jennie Margaret (Meador) Forehand has got to be somewhere near the top of that list. Her sport was not athletics of course, but politics.  She's been running, and getting elected in the state of Maryland since 1978 and this year she's running again for her fifth term as a State Senator from Maryland's 17th district (Montgomery County).

Her opponent is a 49 year old female and former MD Delegate, who is saying Jennie is "too old."

Personally, I'm insulted by that kind of attitude, as all of us '54 Wildcats should be.

I think I'll start a letter writing campaign, or something; right after my nap.

Jennie is thinking about challenging her challenger to "walk around the block with me...and see who can walk faster."

Meanwhile, her staff is considering a few photos showing the "less serious" side of Jennie's personality, such as the "Jennie's Blue Bike" photo that we featured on this website during the buildup to our 50th reunion. Unfortunately, that was one of the photos that was deleted from this site during a "server update" by this website's provider.

By any chance if any of you know where a copy of that photo can still be found, let Jennie know.

As far as that "too old" stuff, I think Jennie should say something like....."It sure will take a lot of youthful energy to catch up with my 20 year experience advantage. And now is not a good time for her to start practicing."

My other suggestion is:

Stay away from tanks......and bunny suits.  -Ed

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Progress Report


 Jerry Gaudet reports:

Darn! (and even worse).

In a recent email, Shirley McClanahan Maynor writes...

"I just found out, cancer tumors have shown up in hip that was replaced and I am going to have to have radiation. ...We will be ok."

In a phone conversation with Shirley, she sounds to be her usual upbeat self and is taking on whatever comes. That cancer better watch out!

Her contact information is:
Shirley Maynor
1171 Robinhood Circle
Charlotte, NC 28227-4034


As this website reported,  Linda Garmon Huggins has been dealing with health issues. Jerry Gaudet reports that she is recuperating nicely at home after surgery. Preliminary word is that all will be well, but she has to wait until next Monday to get the official results from the biopsy.

I talked with Linda and Ross by phone today and they are both thinking positively.

And why not? Modern medicine and techniques are just this side of miraculous!

Nevertheless, Linda was happy to hear that she's going to stay on our prayer list for a little longer.

Their contact information is:
Linda Huggins and husband Ross
2548 W. Keswick Rd.
Florence, SC 29501-1970

Linda and Ross' email address

Update from Reid Johnston's wife Janice

"Dear Friends,

Last week was a bumpy ride, Reid was in hospital trying to boost his energy level with IV nutrition. He was better by end of week and was discharged on Friday. Friday night , he had a sudden bottoming out of his blood pressure and had to be taken back to hospital via ambulance. He stayed overnight in hospital and came home Saturday. 

He has been stable since but remains very weak. He resumed radiation treatments yesterday, May 3rd. and will continue with 9 more to equal 35 total. The doctor had discontinued the chemo treatments.

Thank you again for all your good wishes, love and prayers. We can feel your prayers working in our lives. Love and good health to each one of you and your families,

Reid Johnston and wife Janice
1215 Erinshire Rd.
Charlotte, NC 28211

email Reid and Janice

Another Story for my Grandchildren

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I love telling my grandchildren true stories about when I was a kid, but the problem I have is: They don’t believe them.

A good example is the one I wrote about on this site concerning the day at Elizabeth school when at recess one day, I watched the Detroit Lions playing football on the vacant lot beside the school playground. (See article).

But, being a patient Granddaddy, I keep trying. Take the one about my football days:

In 1951 I was in the 10th grade. Most of the “Varsity Football Team” was made up of 11th and 12th graders. Instead of having us just sit on the bench all season as part of the Varsity, the coaches sent us down to the “B” team….to actually learn the game…by playing other high school “B” teams…and get experience. It was similar to a baseball “farm team.”

Our B team was outstanding. I can’t recall losing a single game. (We might have, but I can’t recall it.) We had such future Varsity stars as Johnny Thomason, Carson McLean, Bobby Burris, Neil Jones, Don Nance, Alton Widenhouse, Bobby Wells. Jack Campbell, etc.

“Your granddaddy was the first string quarterback,” I said, “and……

“Were you any good?,” asked my 10 year old grandson.

“Well, son,” I replied, “as you know, I don’t like to brag, but………the fellow who played quarterback behind me……became a world famous athlete….he broke 11 American and three world records in 1962, compiling the greatest distance running record ever achieved by an American,”

And before I could find the Sports Illustrated Magazine with his picture on the cover to show them…their eyes had rolled back in their heads and presto, they were gone….off doing other things.

That’s the way it always happens…..they didn't wait for me to explain to them that Jim Beatty’s number one sport wasn’t football, but track; and he was the first man in history to break the 4 minute mile on an indoor track, etc…they had already decided that although their granddaddy was still a pretty nice man, he was obviously a bit, uh,…..delusional.

( Jim got in for only one play during an actual game that year. ...and you guessed it....... threw a touchdown pass.)  -Ed

Monday, May 03, 2010

Observer Scooped Again

Following up on Ellouise's and Bob Ellis' scoop, published here on the CHS54 website, The Charlotte Observer finally published the story (without giving this site credit).

Here's their version:

Twenty-eight years ago, Jerry Pistiolis bought The Diamond restaurant in Plaza Midwood, then did the smartest thing a new owner could: He didn't mess things up.
The Diamond had been a lunch and dinner hangout for Charlotte's judicial crowd and others for decades, serving simple and flavorful cooking with a friendly coziness. Pistiolis maintained the legacy with his own soft-spoken warmth, handing out mints to regulars after he rounded down some of their checks to the nearest dollar.
On Friday, he worked the register for the last time as owner. "I'm 65 years old," he said. "It's time." He's selling to three younger men who own nearby restaurants, including the Penguin. The new owners plan on renovating The Diamond, which opened in 1945, and perhaps keeping it open 24 hours. But much of the menu - and spirit - will remain. "This is a preservation effort," said one, Andy Kastanas.
Pistiolis will stop back in to work occasionally, he said, so on Friday the restaurant's regulars came not so much to say goodbye, but thank you. They took pictures with Pistiolis and each other. They clapped as former Mayor Richard Vinroot read a plaque that thanked Pistiolis, and as others talked about how the restaurant was Old Charlotte, a place to feel community.
Finally, as waitresses clinked and bustled, regular David Trammell presented Pistiolis with an envelope - a collection he took from other regulars so their restaurant's caretaker could take a trip to Charleston.
A grateful Pistiolis smiled and nodded. "You've been a good friend," he said to his customer.
Said Trammell: "You've been our good friend, too."

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Rough Time for the Diamond

News Tip from Ellouise:


"My cousin is in town - at lunch today he told me that they are closing the Diamond Grill at the end of the week. Do you know it - off Pecan neare Central Avenue. A landmark. Has anybody said anything about it.



Bob Ellis replies:

"I have an old friend that I worked with at Duke Power (Duke Energy now) who eats at the Diamond at least once a week. I called him and by chance he was there today and according to what he was told by the current owners is that the guys who own the Penguin Rest.(located on next corner) have bought the building. They plan to re-open this summer. The employees are hoping it will be the same type of rest. Don't know if they will use same name.
The sanitation rating has been falling the past few years. The interior could use some TLC..

Hope you and your family are doing well....