A Carrboro Century: Fitch Lumber turns 100

~~ Originally printed in Carrboro (NC) Free Press, November 2007 ~~

Friday morning at Fitch Lumber Company had a decidedly festive atmosphere. Flyers were posted announcing Fitch’s 100th Anniversary. Working folks were gearing up for one last day before the weekend. Homeowners were making household purchases.

David Fitch was on the phone.

A couple of guys were tussling by the counter, where Marc and Mike were ringing up orders. Someone was in a headlock. Marshall was passing around a tin of butter cookies, encouraging everyone to have some. Michael Brown was pointing to the horns of former UNC mascot, Rameses #11, up on the wall. Continue reading

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The treasure man: An interview with Billy Arthur, Jr.

~~ Originally printed in Carrboro (NC) Free Press, October 2007 ~~

Billy Arthur, Jr., is constantly finding things, from jewelry and coins to children’s toys and unique rocks. “I’ve always been interested in what’s on the ground,” he said. “Where am I? On the ground.” He laughed. “I live on the ground. I look in all the change slots. If someone drops a penny, I pick it up.”

For those of you who don’t know Billy, he’s not the tallest guy around.

But Billy doesn’t just rely on his close proximity to the ground. He also has a metal detector. Two, in fact. His favorite one has three different ring tones. “If it goes over silver,” he said, “I know exactly what that is.” On Saturday, Billy took a metal detector to Chapel Hill where some houses had been prepared for demolition. “They were roped off and ready for the bulldozers to knock them down,” he said. He proudly displayed his find: a miniature metal train engine. Continue reading