Bragtown heat: An audio tale of growing up in Durham in the '50s and '60s | Arts

Bragtown heat: An audio tale of growing up in Durham in the '50s and '60s

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Elizabeth Fritz's brother, Bill, at the Duke Park Pool - COURTESY OF ELIZABETH FRITZ
  • courtesy of Elizabeth Fritz
  • Elizabeth Fritz's brother, Bill, at the Duke Park Pool
Editor's note: Over the summer, we wrote about an Audio Under the Stars event, where people lounged in the SPECTRE Arts courtyard listening to short audio documentaries with a local focus. We thought it was a unique and pleasant way to imbibe local history and culture. Now that the series is done for the summer (and outdoor lounging is a fond memory), we invited Jenny Morgan and Elizabeth Friend from AUTS to take us back with a guest post. If you like it, we'll do more.  

Elizabeth Fritz is a Durham native who grew up in the Bragtown neighborhood during the 50's and 60's. In this interview, she recalls the smothering heat of southern summers, the sweet relief of the Duke Park Pool, and the unsupervised nature of child's play.

This story was distilled from a 40-minute interview in which Elizabeth recalls a game where she and her best friend Jane would check the bottoms of their Coca-Cola bottles to see who had the most distant manufacturing stamp. That was it. That was the game.

A Coca-Cola represented more than just rare treat on hot days. While most came from the Durham bottling facility near the reservoir on Hillsborough Road, a bottle from somewhere else opened the door for the girls to imagine far-away places. Make-believe was the one of most reliable ways to escape the heat in the years before air conditioning.

We chose this piece to kick off Audio Under The Stars because it embodies so much of what we strive for in storytelling: an authentic local voice sharing a vivid portrait of another time and place, made by an audio producer with ties to the Triangle.



Audio Under the Stars is an outdoor community listening party. Each summer, we curate a monthly playlist of interesting, funny, or otherwise compelling audio stories around a specific theme, and invite everyone to join us to share them under the stars. We welcome great stories from all over, but some of our favorites have a local flavor. Many are produced by the audiophiles at Duke University's Center for Documentary Studies. We welcome submissions or ideas at audiounderthestars@gmail.com. You can also find us on Facebook and Twitter @AudioStars.


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