Saturday, May 15, 2010

Home sweet home

There are things in life that you never think about. I'd list some here, but I've never thought about them and therefore can't do so without violating my own premise. (I know, it's a terrible joke, but keep reading, I promise this gets better.) Among those things I'd never previously considered was the childhood home of famous people. This may be, in large part, due the fact that there wasn't anyone really famous ever from my hometown. We had a contestant for Miss America one year and a guy who played Major League Baseball, but he wasn't exactly famous.

(When I worked at a newspaper, I was always jealous of the guy (his blog's here, if you're interested) who got to go cover his games in Atlanta. There still seems like nothing better than getting paid to watch baseball and write about it for a living.Well, except for the late nights, the travel, the fact that it would likely suck the enjoyment out of the game as you realize there are only so many ways to tell the story of how a baseball game played out before you just start mailing it in and count down the days until the season ends, much like Cubs fans do starting around July.)

 So upon learning I was moving to Wilmington, NC, I did what anyone who knows next to nothing about the city does. I went to wikipedia to learn about the place I was moving to, sight unseen. After learning the important things (ESPN radio is AM 630, the beach is within biking distance from Yes Dear's office, there is, in fact, a Zaxby's), I proceeded to seek out the local flavor of the town.

I learned, for example, that Wilmington has a sister city in China. I'm not exactly sure what sister cities do other than share stories of traveling pants and gossip about other cities they perceive as less cool then them. I discovered that Wilmington was the smallest city of at least 100,000 people (meaning if someone goes on a killing spree in the city, it'll lose that status.) Matlock was filmed here.

But all that paled in comparison to the fact that the world's greatest basketball player (your results may vary) grew up in Wilmington. Michael Jeffery Jordan, he of the six NBA titles, he of the game winning shot in the 1982 NCAA title game, he of the Air Jordan sneakers, he of the .202 batting average and 3 career home runs for the Birmingham Barons, spent a significant portion of his formative years in the town I'd be living in. Aside from the obvious (my kid can be like Mike, being born somewhere else, raised in Wilmington, becoming the greatest athlete on the planet), this also meant I could try to find out where his house was and go see it.

Fortunately, the local paper published the address on their website, meaning people who like looking at landmarks that don't really have any significance have somewhere to drive by so they can say 'I saw the house Michael Jordan grew up in.' You'd have to be a real loser to do something like that.'

On Mother's Day, Yes Dear decided she wanted to go pick strawberries, which is not a euphemism for anything. She actually wanted to go spend her mother's day picking strawberries. As luck (or fate, or coincidence, or happenstance, or some cosmic force in the universe I don't understand) would have it, the strawberry farm was one mile from Michael Jordan's home. We had no choice but to go see the home. So we drove the extra mile up the road and there, on our right, was the childhood home of my childhood sports hero.

The house was pretty much what I expected. It was a house with a driveway, some trees in the yard and generally no different from any other house surrounding it. Unlike downtown Wilmington where you can't throw a cat without hitting a historical marker denoting some famous person lived in the vicinity, there was nothing to designate this home as an historical landmark. That seems crazy to me since a lot more people probably care about Michael Jordan's home than they do about Johnson Jones Hooper (cut to Hooper's decedent's saying 'hey, what'd we do?'). 

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