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in their words

My First Trip to Durham:

Looking Back 40 Years BY DAVID S. PISETSKY, M . D. , PH . D.


SPEND MANY HOURS EACH YEAR INTERVIEWING recruits for Duke’s medical faculty. For these recruits, a first visit usually involves delivery of a lecture, meetings with faculty and a nice dinner out. These dinners are like first dates, the conversation often cautious and circumspect, everyone around the table wondering if this relationship will go anywhere. But the city of Durham is not the tough sell it once was. When I interviewed for a position at Duke in 1978, my recruitment dinner was at a steak restaurant called the Country Squire. The restaurant was located where I-40 now crosses 15-501. When the highway came through, the building was knocked down. Back then, North Carolina did not yet offer liquor by the drink, unlike much of the U.S. In those days, a North Carolina wine list was simple: 12



september 2017

sweetened iced tea or unsweetened iced tea. For special occasions like a recruitment dinner, someone had to bring the booze. So, one of the guests in our party entered the dining room hefting a large brown bag that clanged as he walked. Turns out it was the department liquor stash. The restaurant provided the set-ups, and drinks were dispensed from bottles of Jack Daniel’s and Chivas Regal in the brown bag. Now, Durham has liquor by the drink and boasts many excellent restaurants. James Beard nominees and winners work their culinary magic in hot kitchens, and bartenders concoct cocktails made with Durham Distillery’s Conniption Navy Strength gin. The hotel scene, too, couldn’t be more different. On my first trip to Durham, I stayed at the Duke Motor Lodge across from South Square Mall, which was knocked down after the opening of The Streets at

Durham Magazine September 2017