Published: Mar 16, 2013 07:00 PM
Modified: Mar 13, 2013 11:12 AM
On any given day, reaching into the mailbox is sure to retrieve appeals for donations from nonprofit outfits of every stripe. So last Tuesday’s mail brought an officious envelope from Orange County Sheriff Lindy Pendergrass telling me why I should support the North Carolina Sheriff’s Association.
I will now take this occasion to inform the High Sheriff of Orange Shire that I live in Durham County, specifically in Ye Village of Falconbridge, securely in ZIP code 27517, and thus will not be contributing to the sheriffs’ guild.
Pendergrass’ appeal was not misrouted. We who live in zip 27517 are rarely surprised by the contradictions that arise from living in Durham County with a Chapel Hill address.
In fact, 27517 spans parts of three counties: Orange, Durham and Chatham.
Not for nothing is Southwest Durham known by the natives as the Lost Province. This part of Durham has Chapel Hill cable TV, which means we can’t watch the Durham City Council’s version of “Your Show of Shows” (one of TV’s funniest shows of another era). We even get the Chapel Hill edition of a great metropolitan newspaper.
How Southwest Durham got stuck with a Chapel Hill ZIP code is something that even the Great Wiki can’t explain. Some people like the Chapel Hill address, which has a certain undeniable cachet, though the impractical aspects outweigh the advantages.
It’s not just mail, which really is a minor irritant, as the Pendergrass fundraising appeal illustrates. Few people outside the Lost Province know that we live in Durham County and not in Orange, thanks to the Chapel Hill zip code.
To paraphrase Daniel Webster, 27517 is a mere mote, yet there are those who love it (obviously, I’m not one of them, having had no say in the matter). Our ZIP code encompasses 47 square miles, of which six are water.
As ZIP codes go, this one has enough wildlife for a Tarzan movie. The Jordan Lake gamelands, well endowed with serpents, whitetail deer, raccoons, foxes, coyotes, owls and eagles, act as a moderator for development. The low country is their territory, and welcome to it.
Because the high ground in Southwest Durham belongs to us, however, this part of the county is undergoing a rapid transfiguration from rural to urban in places such as Southpoint mall and points south. Money is flowing into 27517.
In fact, even if the greenbacks weren’t flowing quite so freely, 27517 would be well off. About 26,000 people live here according to the 2010 Census, and the median price of their houses is $363,400.
The average age of a 27517 zipster is 41 years, which means the level of education and maturity is high. Many residents are associated with UNC, Duke or Research Triangle Park.
The Lost Province isn’t so lost as to forgo retirees. Some 4,600 people here are Social Security beneficiaries, and as baby boomers retire, that number will grow.
With almost all things considered, 27517 is about as agreeable as any other in Central North Carolina. I say almost only because 27517 crosses so many county lines.
The Postal Service apparently intends to do nothing about it. So save your postage, Sheriff Pendergrass. The ZIP code says Orange, but in the Lost Province, the 911 calls go to Durham. Or so I’m told.Bob Wilson, a longtime journalist and educator, lives in southwest Durham.
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