Good kid dealt some bad cards.
No good mother with an absent father.
His only family being his team.
Only love given to him was from the ball he held in his hands.
Basketball was the only thing he could control.
The only thing that had his back.
Motivated him and picked him up.
He begins the game of a lifetime.
The one that makes or breaks his further career.
A dunk of the CPCC century goes into play
With his defeated opponents behind him, nervous and grey.
Within the picture, you do not know if the ball makes it.
If his dunk flopped or not.
But the picture does not need to be painted black or white to figure out the rest of this game.
Central Piedmont basketball game against Clinton College, early 1980s. AR.0036 - Athletics.
"White Noise - Reading Between the Lines"
“Thank you to everyone listening here today” ...
Y’all listen up, especially my haters!
“I’d like to thank everyone who believed in me, as well as everyone who doubted me. You all have added fuel to my motivational fire” ...
‘Remember when y’all said I would be nothing? Look at you now, watching me bxtch!’
“I hope my personal achievements have inspired people to not look outwards, but to look introspectively at the heart” ...
Next time you want to prejudge someone because of their race, remember this moment right here.
“I hope to have inspired our future generations to chase their dreams earnestly, because they really can come true” ...
To my fellow teens and to the little children of color; this can be you too!
“When one door closes, I encourage you all to not get discouraged, but to use that disappointment to motivate yourself to become your best. Thank you, and good afternoon to you all!”
The world will tell you no because you’re different; use that anger and hurt to fuel you to a position where they can’t help but say yes. I’m out this joint!
Celebration of "John White Day" on June 11, 1982. From left to right: Dr. Richard Hagemeyer (first president of Central Piedmont); John White at podium (Pulitzer Prize winner for his photographs of life in Chicago during the 1970s-1980s. Graduate of Central Piedmont in 1966. First community college graduate to ever win a Pulitzer Prize); Dr. Bill Claytor seated to right of podium. Dr. Claytor was the head of Central Piedmont Board of Trustees at this time.
"First Week, August 1995"
I see her up ahead.
She’s sort of looking at Lisa,
and I feel like I know her.
Like I’ve seen her before.
Looks like a teacher.
But I’ve only started here.
(I don’t know what I’m interested in.
But I don’t want Mom to choose my classes for me.)
I look at the woman talking to my friend
And realize she’s in a picture in my wallet.
I take out my wallet.
There she is, and there I am.
And a beautiful abstract painting behind us.
I think back to when the picture was taken.
The modern art museum.
Several months ago.
She’d said it was her art.
Now I remember.
I wait until my friend is done talking to her,
and then I approach her.
“Hi! Remember me? I’m Chrissie.
I loved your painting,” I say,
and hold up the photo so she knows what I mean.
She thanks me. We talk for a few minutes.
By the time we’re done,
I know what class I want to take in the spring.
The Spark newsletter photograph, early 1990s, unidentified photographer. AR.0035
1975; in that sliver of daybreak when
Only blackbirds stir, wind chills bare branches,
Silent dawn slices into ebony-lit rooms, and
The boxing champ rises into a waking dream, inside a gym.
Sweat, like human rawness melting off the skin
Lives in the room and pervades as
Swamp fog; not as a stench or grime you can’t wash off,
But one more tireless pat on the back.
Wrap the wrists, guard between the lips, and as
The final red fist goes on, he can hear them,
Feel their thunder berating bleachers, chants rising to their feet;
The swell of victory never sounded so frightening.
Hundreds of stares in front of him, but only one behind;
Mightier than the rest, stinging into his back,
The gaze of a legacy that’s now his
Cover of The Spark, Vol 1., No. 8, May 2, 1977. AR.0035.
"Cue Balls and Cigarettes"
Looking back, I can still smell the stench of cigarette smoke and linoleum. In those days, we were still allowed to smoke inside the buildings without people making a big fuss. God how I miss the 1970s. Before all the cell phones and new-age garbage, people actually used to interact with one another at school. That’s probably why they got rid of all the pool tables and sports teams. When I was in college, between classes me and a couple of my classmates always stopped and played a game or two of pool in the cafeteria with the welding kids. I can remember how crappy those sticks were; half of the time we’d get splinters on our thumbs from them and whack the tips straight off the side of the cue ball. I don’t think they ever replaced them while I was there. I can’t begin to tell you how many times we sent the sticks through the faded felt of the pool table, ending in one of the staff members yelling at us to get the hell out of there. One of the English professors, Mr. Tysinger, always played us after he finished up with his noon classes. He kicked our asses on a regular basis, rubbing in that us kids, “don’t know a damn thing,” about playing pool. We often played for cokes, the losers buying the winning team a couple of sodas out of the cafeteria to get us through the rest of the day. Between studying, classes, and working nights, this was the only time for us to kick back and relax during the day. A lot of us were first generation college students. We became welders, nurses, accountants, office clerks, and more. We could barely afford the bigger universities up in Boone and in Raleigh, but we still worked through those two years to get degrees. Things were a lot simpler back then.
Self-proclaimed "Pool Shark" Nick Varner, performs some pool tricks in the Recreation Room of Taylor Hall on October 24, 1980. The Spark, Vol. 5, No. 3. AR.0035