If you grew up in a little bitty Southern town during the 1960s and 1970s, you know about "the handoff".
That's where - at the beginning of every summer - parents or grandparents would fry up some chicken, take their kids to the train station and hand them and the chicken over to a kindly porter to keep an eye on them as they traveled Up North - or Down South - for a couple of months.
The reverse handoff was repeated at the end of summer, but with weeping and wailing: the city relations who'd spent the summer de-stressing down South would wail over having to return to the concrete jungles where they resided, and we country bumpkins would weep over having to leave the fast-paced excitement of the cities to return to what we suddenly considered Hootervilles.
As a kid growing up in Rockingham, I summered in Washington every year, and the one thing I looked forward to upon returning south was telling my friends about the huge stores, some of which had - get this - stairs that moved!
That's right: you just stand there and the stairs would carry you up. Or down.
I'm not sure they always believed me, but those were actual conversations.
My former editor at the News & Observer, the late George Lawrence, and I regarded each other warily until we learned that we'd both spent our summers as kids on trains going south to north alone and back again. We bonde