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Red Clay Courts at Freedom Park
My Mecklenburg County story begins in 1970 when I was 10 years old. My older brother Bill had just graduated from law school and moved to Charlotte as an assistant prosecutor for the Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s Office. Our 16 year age difference bothered him, so I began visiting for a week in the summer.

For three or four years, I flew alone from Washington D.C. on Piedmont Airlines to the original Charlotte Douglas Airport, walking across the tarmac to the small terminal. He lived in Myers Park, so we went to Freedom Park a lot, playing tennis on the red clay—yes red clay—courts. We ice skated at Eastland Mall and shopped at Chess King in the Charlottetown Mall. Uptown, we traversed the Overstreet Mall, which seemed like a huge engineering feat to me. We visited Carowinds (even then) and took day trips to Tweetsie Railroad and Daniel Boone Land. One summer I attended Camp Thunderbird at Lake Wylie.

After he moved to a law firm, his 7th floor office in the Home Federal Building “towered” over the 1970’s uptown area. Good luck even finding the building today, though it still stands. We shopped at the A&P grocery store at the corner of Providence Road and 4th Street, and ate lunch at Providence Road Sundries. Dinner spots included Mangione’s or Beef and Bottle.

I eventually aged out of the summer trips and didn’t see much of Mecklenburg County until I moved here for a job in 1990. My brother was still here, so we began another historical phase that included the Charlotte Hornets, the Panthers, and a new wave of national restaurants like Morton’s, the Palm and others that are still migrating here.

Today, 40+ years later, Bill Diehl and I are still here, sharing our history with my kids, his grandkids and everyone who calls Mecklenburg County home.

Danny and Bill Diehl, 1965

Danny and Bill Diehl, 1965

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