How "Dick's Hill" Became Dix Hill

The state House is considering a bill that would create a new state psychiatric hospital in Butner. That's in Granville County a few miles north of Durham . The state Senate gave the plan to replace two older hospitals in Raleigh and Butner final approval yesterday.

There's no doubt the State could use bigger and better mental hospitals. The fact that they will probably spend the money in these fiscally uncertain times, is a sign of good intentions. However, keep in mind what the road to Hades is paved with.

When I was a little boy, and, yes, I once was one, if somebody was acting a little peculiar or saying weird things, the grown-ups would say he or she belongs in Dix Hill, a reference I eventually learned meant their elevators didn't quite go to the top floor. Since my father's nickname was "Dick," I young-and-foolishly assumed it referred to him.

Along about the 5th or 6th grade, my class went on a field trip to Raleigh to visit the state Capitol (there was no Legislative Building yet), check out the museum, and see how life was lived in the Big City . The bus driver also took us up a winding street to ride past what I knew as "Dick's Hill," but I learned that day it was "Dix Hill," so-named for Dorothea Dix, a pioneer in the treatment of persons with psychiatric disorders, an educator, and social reformer--quite a lady for her 19th Century time. It would be appropriate to name a new facility for her too, even if it isn't on a hill.