John Motley Morehead III: Ten Facts from a Remarkable Life

John Motley Morehead, III (center), from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Image Collection (#P0004), North Carolina Collection Photographic Archive. 

John Motley Morehead, III (center), from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Image Collection (#P0004), North Carolina Collection Photographic Archive.

This Thanksgiving marks the 83rd birthday of one of UNC Chapel Hill’s most recognizable landmarks: the Morehead-Patterson Bell Tower. Dedicated right before the UNC-Virginia Thanksgiving Day game in 1931, the Bell Tower has been marking the quarter hour of countless Tar Heels’ lives for over eighty years, becoming a classic symbol of the University.

But the name Morehead can be found not only on the iconic Bell Tower, but across campus–from the Morehead Planetarium to the Morehead-Cain Scholars Program, to the Morehead Laboratories. One of the University’s major benefactors, John Motley Morehead III made a remarkable impact on the campus and its students. Here are ten facts about his life, legacy and work.

 

  1. John Motley Morehead, III was a third-generation Tar Heel. The Morehead saga begins with the first John Motley Morehead (Morehead III’s grandfather), who graduated from UNC Chapel Hill in 1817, and later became North Carolina’s 29th governor. His son, James Turner Morehead, also attended UNC, graduating in 1861. Three decades later the baton was passed to John Motley Morehead III, who graduated from UNC Chapel Hill with a degree in Chemistry in 1891, becoming the fourteenth member of his family to graduate as a Tar Heel.
  2. He was an influential chemist. One year after graduating from UNC,  Morehead discovered acetylene gas while working at his father’s aluminum company in Spray, NC. He used this new-found gas as a way to mass-produce calcium carbide, subsequently co-founding one of America’s most influential corporations: Union Carbide. Morehead would go on to work at Union Carbide for 56 years as the company’s chief chemist and construction engineer.
  3. He was heavily involved in WWI. In addition to being an Army major, Morehead III also served on the Interdepartmental Ammonia Committee, the War Industries Board as chief of the Industrial Gases and Gas Products section, and also as secretary to the Explosives Committee. Under his supervision, it is said that the Americans’ supply of toluene–the second “T” in T.N.T–increased ten-fold.
  4. He was once a mayor. Proving to be just as proficient in politics as he was in chemistry, Morehead served as the mayor of Rye, New York from 1925 to 1930.
  5. He served as the United States Minister to Sweden. Cognizant of Morehead’s outstanding scientific work in WWI, former engineer President Herbert Hoover appointed Morehead to the title of Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Sweden in 1930. Adding yet another achievement to his already illustrious resume, Morehead III served as Minister to Sweden for three years, ultimately receiving the gold medal of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences from King Gustav V. Morehead was the first non-Swede to ever receive the honor.
  6. The Bell Tower’s current location was not Morehead’s first choice. During the early 1920s, as plans were being made to renovate South Building, Morehead sought to replace South’s belfry with an extravagant Bell Tower if the university agreed to change the building’s name from ‘South’ to ‘Morehead’. Although Morehead’s proposal was denied, the Bell Tower would eventually be completed in 1931 in its current location right outside Kenan Stadium.
  7. Morehead Planetarium, funded by and named for Morehead, has hosted astronauts including Neil Armstrong and John Glenn. Completed in 1949, Morehead built the luxurious Morehead Planetarium as a way to reinvigorate Chapel Hill’s and the South’s thirst for scientific knowledge. Since its construction, the advanced facilities of Morehead Planetarium have been used to train and host an impressive number of NASA astronauts. Famous visitors to the planetarium include Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, John Glenn (pictured below), and the crew of the Apollo 13 mission.

    p0004_373_planetarium

    John Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth, pictured with his family on the Morehead Planetarium Sundial. From the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Image Collection (#P0004), North Carolina Collection Photographic Archive.

  8. John Motley Morehead III is the creator of one of the nation’s most prestigious scholarships: The Morehead-Cain Scholarship. First handed out in 1951, the Morehead-Cain Scholarship has become one of the most prestigious undergraduate merit-based scholarships in the United States. Notable recipients of the scholarship include three U.S. congressman, the CEO of Habitat for Humanity International, a Pulitzer-prize winning historian, and an ACC commissioner just to name a few.
  9. The name of Morehead’s grandfather, Governor John Motley Morehead, is inscribed on the Bell Tower’s largest bell. Dedicated in 1931, the Morrison-Patterson Bell Tower included 12 bells (now 14), ranging in weight from 300 to 3,500 pounds. Each bell was inscribed with names from both the Morehead and Patterson families, with Morehead III dedicating the largest bell to his grandfather who was an important influence not just in his own life, but in the life of the university they both called home.
  10. He was affectionately referred to by UNC students as “Uncle Mot.” Despite his adventures around the globe, Morehead  always maintained a close relationship with UNC Chapel Hill and its students. From the familiar peal of the Morehead-Patterson Bell Tower, to the peerless altruism of the Morehead-Cain Scholarships, and the scientific advancements of Morehead Planetarium, multiple generations of Tar Heels have been influenced by the life and contributions of John Motley Morehead III.

 

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21 November 1864: “I would willingly enter the army this winter with the consent of my parents, still if Father can raise the funds I presume I will be allowed to graduate.”

Item Description: Letter from John Steele Henderson to his mother, Mary Ferrand Henderson. He writes that he needs more money for his tuition or he will be forced to leave the University of North Carolina.  He is due to come … Continue reading
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Veterans Day 2014

On this Veterans Day, let’s look at two pieces of Hugh Morton’s early military career: registration and enlistment through records from the National Archives located through a genealogical website.  Morton registered for the draft in Wilmington, N. C. at local board No. 2 on February 16, 1942:

Hugh MacRae Morton Draft registration card

Hugh MacRae Morton Draft registration card

Morton’s “Enlistment Date” in the United States Army is October 5, 1942. That information is captured in a database record without a digitized file card as above.  According to the database, Morton’s “Enlistment City” was Washington, and “Enlistment State” was District of Columbia. Though technically in his senior year at UNC, he listed his civil occupation as a photographer.

“Morton, Yackety Yack Head, Leaves Post for US Army” read a front-page Daily Tar Heel headline on September 23, 1942—the first issue for the school year.  The article notes that “Morton’s inability to return to the University is the first case of a student entering the army forces to hit Carolina publications.”  News of his decision had arrived on campus a few days before students started arriving for the new school year.  The article also noted that “Morton’s last batch of photographs, taken of the football team several weeks ago, arrived from Wilmington at the University News Bureau several days ago.”

On September 27th, another front-page headline: “Morton Back for Weekend; Photographs Game for DTH.”  This article stated Morton “was drafted by the Daily Tar Heel to take pictures of yesterday’s game.”  A “Photo by Hugh Morton” action shot from the Wake Forest vs. UNC contest, won by the Tar Heels 6-0, accompanied Sunday’s headline news story.  Come Tuesday, September 29th, Morton would be off to the army as a technical sergeant in the photography division.

Hugh Morton was in the Army now.

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Happy 90th Birthday, Rameses!

This Hugh Morton photograph of Rameses likely dates from 1970.  The scanned item is an interpositive trimmed from a 4x5 sheet film.  The images is very much like 120 roll film negatives on file, that do not include this frame, dated 1970.

This Hugh Morton photograph of Rameses likely dates from 1970.

Today the UNC community celebrates the 90th birthday of its mascot Rameses.  The UNC website has a feature story on the 1924 origin of Rameses, with a link to a video story, too.

Here at A View to Hugh, we can contribute to the anniversary by sharing photographs of Rameses made by Hugh Morton that are included in the online Morton collection.  Currently there are eleven images online, ranging from Morton’s earliest in 1941 through 1989.  Since it’s a special anniversary, I dug a little deeper and found the portrait above, likely made in 1970, which is not in the online collection.  The year comes from a roll of film containing very similar 120 roll film negatives dated 1970, but not with the actual day Morton made them.  Also missing is the original color negative.  The scan above comes from an interpositive, trimmed from a sheet of 4″ x 5″ color film. The interpositive (in this case, a negative exposed onto negative film, which creates a positive), is larger that the original 2 1/4″-square negative, suggesting this was to be made into a big enlargement.  Does any one know what that might have been?

Rameses V roamed the playing field during the autumns of 1939 through 1942 during Morton’s student years—the final year cut short by his enlistment in the United States Army during Wold War II.  Today, Rameses XX munches on Kenan Stadium grass.  What incarnation of Rameses lived in 1970?

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In his own words: Johnpaul Harris, artist and dear friend

Today, November 5, 2014 marks a very special anniversary on the UNC campus. It was ten years ago, on a beautiful Hugh Morton photo-post-card-day, that the magnificent Charlie Justice statue was dedicated just outside the Justice Hall of Honor at the Kenan Football Center.  On that day, the dedication ceremony included several people representing the university, plus friends and teammates—but we didn’t hear from the man who made it all possible: sculptor Johnpaul Harris. So, today on the tenth anniversary, Morton Collection volunteer Jack Hilliard shares some of Harris’ thoughts about that day and his work with his friend Hugh Morton.

I didn’t want to make him [Justice] too much of a pretty boy, but I didn’t want to make him this mean, killer football player either. —Johnpaul Harris in the February 6, 2005 issue of the High Point Enterprise.

Johnpaul Harris with model of Charlie Justice statue, ca. 2004.

Johnpaul Harris with model of Charlie Justice statue, ca. 2004. Photograph by Hugh Morton.

Shortly after Charlie Justice’s death on October 17, 2003, teammate Joe Neikirk approached Hugh Morton with an idea for a statue.  Morton, who had worked with his friend Sculptor Johnpaul Harris on other projects like the Mildred and cubs statue and the deer habitat at Grandfather Mountain, immediately called his friend to see if he would be interested in a football statue.  Harris described his reaction in a 2005 letter to Hugh Morton:

“I probably more than anybody know how Coach (Carl) Snavely felt when Charlie turned up at Chapel Hill.  If it wasn’t a gift from God for Snavely it was certainly one for me.  You called me late in 2003 to see if it was the kind of project I would be interested in.  I think you knew the answer, but maybe not the extent of it.  It was the ultimate project for a man who was an OK football player who in high school knew nothing of Charlie Justice other than that he was the first famous ball player that I or any of my generation remember.”

In an interview with Annette Dunlap in the November 19, 2004 issue of Asheboro’s The Courier-Tribune, Harris said, “I jumped on it.”  Morton then became the linchpin between the university and Harris.  “There’s a lot of red tape established on the Chapel Hill campus for the installation of artworks,” Harris continued in his Dunlap interview.  “I just had to wait for it to run its course.”

Envelope, labeled by Hugh Morton, containing photographs used by Johnpaul Harris to create the Charlie Justice statue.

Envelope, labeled by Hugh Morton, containing photographs used by Johnpaul Harris to create the Charlie Justice statue.

While he waited, Harris and Morton started to work on the project . . . as Harris continues in his letter to Morton:

“. . . you started sending pictures from your fantastic collection of Carolina images.  I treasure each one for several reasons, but at the time they were just full of information that was vital to the project.  When I asked for more particular angles, you always came through for me.  It was like Christmas every time I opened the mail box to find a big white envelope with Grandfather Logo in the corner.  I had enough information to do the job, but I never saw a picture that didn’t further my understanding of who Charlie Justice was.

Justice_photos_used_by_JohnpaulHarris_585px

“. . . Then one day the phone rang and it was Willie Scroggs (Senior Associate Athletic Director for Facilities at UNC) saying that they wanted me to do the Charlie Justice statue.  It was the sweetest moment of my life as a sculptor, until the team reviews, and the unveiling.”

It was now time for serious work.  Harris and Morton’s UNC committee selected the walking pose rather than an action shot and Harris prepared a 26-inch-model for Athletics Director Dick Baddour to reviewa review that came on the day of the 2004 Blue-White game at Kenan Stadium.  Harris was a special guest at the game.

JohnpaulHarris_posed_Statue

Next up, on June 1, 2004, was the first of two Justice-era player reviews. This was my introduction to Johnpaul Harris.  We have remained good friends and get together for lunch every few weeks.

Harris continues with his letter to Morton:

I thought Charlie looked pretty good when the teammates came over to critique it.

The players offered suggestions and Harris took lots of notes.  Three weeks later, the players had a second review in Harris’ Asheboro studio.  Harris made final adjustments,  then a final mold before Charlie was off to the foundry.  On January 7, 2005 Johnpaul Harris was a guest on the UNC-TV program North Carolina People with William Friday.  Harris explained the process of taking four, 30-gallon-barrels of North Carolina clay and making it into a work of art to be cast at the foundry.

As Harris wrote to Morton,

It felt really good to have Charlie in place and out of my hands for a change.  I still enjoy seeing the pictures you made that day.

JohnpaulHarris_installing

On Tuesday morning, November 2, 2004, I got a call from Hugh Morton.  He said, “We’re going to put the Charlie Justice statue in place tomorrow morning.  We’d like to have you there.”

Wednesday, November 3rd was a beautiful day in Chapel Hill as Johnpaul Harris directed a crew from  Architect Glenn Corley, and placed the 950 pound, 8 foot, 6 inch work of art into its final position.  When all of the installation work was done, Hugh Morton said to Harris, “You did a magnificent job.  It looks just like Charlie.”

JohnpaulHarris_BarbaraCrews

On November 5, 2004 the Morton-Harris team was once again prepared to impress with the dedication of the Charlie Justice statue.

In his letter to Morton, Harris continued:

For me, days don’t come any better than unveiling day.  The weather was perfect.  There were so many friends and family, there was not enough time to do all the visiting I would have liked, not to mention catching up with Charlie’s teammates that I have come to know.
“It was great to see everybody enjoying Charlie after the unveiling.  Barbara Crews (Charlie and Sarah’s daughter) seemed to enjoy it more than anyone else and for longer periods.  I saw her staring up into the face and remarking that she hadn’t seen her Daddy from that perspective since she was a little girl.  I’m sure it sparked a deep well of memories for her.  She also mentioned that she had never seen his hands as open as they were, since they had suffered so many injuries (probably from pro ball).  Thanks, Hugh, for introducing us.  I did miss getting the definitive picture of you and me standing before the thing that we had spent so much time and energy on in the past two or three seasons.  Maybe we can do that on some nice crisp Saturday before a home game.”

Unfortunately, that pictured never got taken.

I thought my football life was behind me.  I never expected to tell anyone that I had been an All Central Tar Heel Conference player.  But the most perfect completion of the circle of my gridiron days has been realized.  A pretty good footballer from Troy (NC) was chosen to honor in bronze the memory of the greatest football legend of the 20th century from North Carolina.  I was part of the team that was Charlie’s team and by extension, I became a part of Charlie’s team.  Finally, I had to live up to your faith in me and then if there was anything else I had to satisfy my own demands for my work.  Thank you for making it all possible.  Without the superb record that you shared with me, the work would have come far short of what we achieved.  And thank you for your friendship, which started with our collaboration on Mildred.  For my part I know that it will never end.

 —Johnpaul Harris, February 5, 2005

Epilog

Sculptor Johnpaul Harris posing with his statue of Mildred the Bear and cubs in the Nature Museum at Grandfather Mountain, NC.

Sculptor Johnpaul Harris posing with his statue of Mildred the Bear and cubs in the Nature Museum at Grandfather Mountain, N. C.

Morton and Harris had worked together about fifteen years before the Justice statue when Morton commissioned Harris to create a statue of Mildred the Bear, the loveable people-friendly mascot of Grandfather Mountain, with her cubs. That effort is now in the Grandfather Mountain Nature Museum.  During a 2005 interview with Jimmy Tomlin in the High Point Enterprise, Harris remembered working inside Mildred’s habitat getting precise measurements.  “She was great.  Of course, they were keeping her happy with apple pieces while I was in there.”  Harris also got to pet the cubs.  “They’d put their paws around your neck and lick you in the face, just like a puppy.”

In addition to Mildred and Charlie, you can see other Johnpaul Harris sculptures at the North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro where there is an 11-foot Rhino statue.  UNC Alumnus Charles Loudermilk funded for the city of Atlanta a Johnpaul Harris statue of former mayor Andrew Young for the city’s Walton Spring Park (now Andrew Young Plaza), installed in 2008.

Postscript

As Harris was driving his truck home from Chapel Hill following the review of his Justice model in May of 2004, the odometer tripped 222,222.2.  When Johnpaul told Hugh the story about the 2s, He smiled and said, “Maybe somebody was trying to tell you something.”

I agree with Hugh.  I feel sure that #22 saw that and smiled.

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26 October 1864: “Have you been down the factory to see the prisoners?”

  Item Description: A letter from John Henderson while he was at the University of North Carolina to his young siblings. He went on to become a member of Congress.   Item Citation: From Folder 36, in the John S. … Continue reading
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William B. Aycock at 99: always on the correct side of history

99 years ago today, on October 24, 1915, William Brantley Aycock was born in Lucama, North Carolina.  He went on to serve the University of North Carolina for almost 40 years, from a faculty appointment in the School of Law in 1948 until his retirement as Kenan Professor in 1985.  During the years 1957 until 1964, he served as Chancellor of UNC-Chapel Hill.  On this special day, Morton collection volunteer Jack Hilliard recalls Chancellor Aycock’s words from 1957 on a timely campus topic in today’s news.

UNC Chancellor William Aycock pictured speaking at podium, with UNC System President Bill Friday, President John F. Kennedy, and Dr. James L. Godfrey at University Day, October 12, 1961, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

UNC Chancellor William Aycock pictured speaking at podium, with UNC System President Bill Friday, President John F. Kennedy, and Dr. James L. Godfrey at University Day, October 12, 1961, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

When I look at my UNC diploma, two things always grab my attention . . . aside from the fact that it says I earned a degree.  There are two signatures on the document that always remind me that I was part of a very special time.  William C. Friday was President of the Consolidated University and William B. Aycock was Chancellor of UNC-Chapel Hill when I was there from September of 1958 until January of 1963.  These men of integrity signed my diploma and led the University of North Carolina to a place at the top of the top.

On Thursday, July 15, 2010, my wife Marla and I attended the 90th birthday party for Bill Friday at the UNC Alumni Center on the UNC campus.  What a special day . . . honoring the man who defines the word integrity.  The following morning, as I opened the Greensboro News & Record, looking for a story of Friday’s birthday party, I was struck by the headline which read, “NCAA Investigates UNC Athletes.”  As I read the story, I kept thinking about my time at UNC and how Bill Friday and Bill Aycock would have never let anything like this happen.  Unfortunately, that story from July 16, 2010 is still with us.

As we celebrate Bill Aycock’s 99th today, here, in his own words from a talk to UNC alumni in Washington, D. C. in May 1957, is his take on intercollegiate athletics:

I am not disturbed that alumni groups have a strong interest in athletics because I believe that the interest manifested by most alumni in intercollegiate athletics is but a symbol of a deeper interest in the totality of the programs, hopes and aspirations of the whole institution.

I believe that those alumni whose affection for the University both begins and ends with intercollegiate athletics are few in number. Unfortunately, there are some among those few who seem to entertain a misguided notion that in athletics the means are not too important if the end is victory on the scoreboard.  In those institutions, including ours, which have undertaken an extensive intercollegiate athletic program, it is not realistic in my judgment to try to separate athletics and education. A grant-in-aid program enables students with athletic ability to secure a college education.  It is only on this basis that a University can justify such a program.  Since the University is involved in the rewarding of scholarships, it is very essential that grants-in-aid be administered in accordance with the letter and spirit of the rules and regulations.  Further, a student who is an athlete should not be treated differently from a student who is not an athlete.  There must be no double standard.  Moreover, no program in the University, including athletics, should be conducted in such a manner as to lower either moral or academic standards.  He, who would insist on practices which nibble at and dilute the integrity and educational standards of this institution, is no friend of athletics or of his institution.  The two are not to be separated because, in matters fundamental, athletics and the University must rise or fall together.  I regard this to be of such importance that I shall in the days to come frequently discuss the administration of our athletic programs with our alumni groups.”

Six months later in a statement to the Durham Morning Herald on November 27, 1957, Bill Aycock added this:

There are now, as there have been in the past, many people within and without the university who believe that intercollegiate football should not be part of the university. On the other hand, many people within and without the university believe intercollegiate football is an important part of modern university life.  Regardless of the merits of this question, it is clear that the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill carries on an extensive intercollegiate football program.

The precise values of this program are difficult to determine.  Once committed to an extensive intercollegiate athletic program of fundamental principle is to regard each member of the student body as a student first and his athletic participation as secondary to his primary mission of securing a university education.

In order to accomplish this, a large body of rules and regulations has developed within the institution and within various conferences in which we are members.  Adherence to these rules and regulations is the most tangible means to insure that the primary role of the university is not superseded by secondary activities.

Further, admission standards and rules controlling eligibility to remain in the university must be made without regard to the effect which they would have on the admission and retention of athletes.

In the light of the foregoing criteria, I think that intercollegiate football is playing its proper role in the country.

The question of bigness is a relative one and must be judged in light of particular circumstances. Theoretically, the larger the program the greater the temptation to depart from the rules and regulations and principles set forth above.   However, realistically, it simply means that greater care on the part of everyone concerned is essential to insure that excesses do not prevail.

Notwithstanding the size of the program, in this university we shall adhere to the standards and rules and regulations in intercollegiate athletics and insist that scholarship and academic excellent is paramount.

Former UNC Chancellor William Aycock and UNC Head Basketball Coach Dean Smith posed together for Hugh Morton's camera in January 1990. This photograph appears in Art Chansky's THE DEAN'S LIST published in 1996, though cropped more tightly here. Ironically, it illustrates the chapter "The Writing on the Wall," which recounts the story surrounding NCAA infractions under head coach Frank McGuire during the 1960-61 season. In that same chapter, Chansky describes Aycock's small office in the Van Hecke-Wettach Hall where Aycock worked as professor emeritus in the law school. On one of the walls was "a picture of him with Dean Smith taken a few years ago by honored photographer Hugh Morton. Aycock received a copy of the picture from Smith with a personal note on the back . . . It says simply, 'This is the only picture of me in my office.'" That photograph is likely the one shown here. [Clicking on this image will take you to a scan in the online Morton collection for different pose from the same photographic session.]

Former UNC Chancellor William Aycock and UNC Head Basketball Coach Dean Smith posed together for Hugh Morton’s camera in January 1990. This photograph appears in Art Chansky’s THE DEAN’S LIST published in 1996, though cropped more tightly here. Ironically, it illustrates the chapter “The Writing on the Wall,” which recounts the story surrounding NCAA infractions under head coach Frank McGuire during the 1960-61 season. In that same chapter, Chansky describes Aycock’s small office in the Van Hecke-Wettach Hall where Aycock worked as professor emeritus in the law school. On one of the walls was “a picture of him with Dean Smith taken a few years ago by honored photographer Hugh Morton. Aycock received a copy of the picture from Smith with a personal note on the back . . . It says simply, ‘This is the only picture of me in my office.’” That photograph is likely the one shown here. [Clicking on this image will take you to a scan in the online Morton collection for different pose from the same photographic session.]

At the end of the 1960-61 UNC basketball season, Chancellor Aycock forced head basketball coach Frank McGuire to resign following allegations of recruiting violations.  Aycock then promoted 30-year-old assistant coach Dean Smith, whom he had hired three years before, to the head coaching position and told him “wins and losses do not count as much as running a clean program and representing the University well.”

This past May during Graduation/Reunion weekend, the UNC General Alumni Association presented a program honoring the legacy of both Friday and Aycock. GAA President Doug Dibbert related a Bill Aycock story that resonated with a full house in the UNC Blue Zone.
The story goes something like this.  During the 1961-62 basketball season, Dean Smith’s team won only 8 games.  When the season ended, two or three prominent alumni called and asked to meet with Chancellor Aycock about the 8-win-basketball season. They told the chancellor he needed to replace Smith as soon as his contract was up. After listening to the alums for several minutes, Aycock excused himself and left the room.  When he returned he said: “Gentlemen I’d like to inform you that I just extended Dean Smith’s contract.  Now, are we done here?”

Epilog

Wednesday, October 22, 2014 saw the release of the long-awaited “Wainstein Report,” formally titled “Investigation of Irregular Classes in the Department of African and Afro-American Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.”  The 136-page report links individuals in the “Academic Support Program for Student Athletes” to fake “paper classes” in that department between 1993 and 2011.  The UNC website devoted to this topic is called “Our Commitment: Taking Action and Moving Forward Together,” which includes links to a video of the press conference and a PDF of the report.

 

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The eight-game season of 1952

On this day 62 football seasons ago, October 18, 1952, the UNC football team kicked off the 1952 season for a second time. Morton collection volunteer Jack Hilliard explains how that happened and how a series of unique events made the ’52 season unlike any other.

UNC Football Blue Books are available for reading online.  You can read the 1952 issue by clicking on the cover image.

Many UNC football media guides, known as “blue books,” are available online. You can read the 1952 issue by clicking on the cover image.

When the February 4, 1950 issue of The State, with Duke Chapel pictured on its cover, arrived in Hugh Morton’s mailbox in Wilmington, his immediate reaction was to quickly supply publisher Carl Goerch an “equal-time” photograph from UNC.  The magazine printed Morton’s shot of the Morehead-Patterson Bell Tower on its February 25th cover.  In the early summer of 1952, when UNC Sports Information Director Jake Wade and his assistant Julian Scheer were preparing the ’52 football media guide (called a “blue book” in those days), they remembered Morton’s bell tower shot and decided to use it for the front cover of the ’52 guide.  Inside, Wade talked about UNC’s chances for the upcoming football season, and Head Coach Carl Snavely’s switch from the single-wing to the split T-formation.

Snavely said, “We lacked the speedy, shifty tailbacks, tough blocking backs and interfering linemen so vital to the single-wing.  We probably should have made the change a year ago.”  Smith Barrier, writing in the 1952 Illustrated Football Annual, picked up the Snavely quote and added that twenty lettermen from the 1951 team had graduated.

Carolina began the 1952 season without much fanfare.

On Saturday, September 27th, the Texas Longhorns came into Chapel Hill for the first time since that “never-to-be-forgotten” day in 1948 when the Tar Heels were victorious 34 to 7 in a game many Tar Heels to this day call the greatest Carolina win . . . ever.

Dougal Cameron running for a touchdown, as UNC's Billy Williams (20) sets up to attempt a tackle.   This scan shows the full negative, which was cropped for Wilmington's Sunday Star-News.

Dougal Cameron running for a touchdown, as UNC’s Billy Williams (20) sets up to attempt a tackle. This scan shows the full negative, which was tightly cropped on those two players in the photograph run the next day in Wilmington’s Sunday Star-News.

A sign hanging from Old East dorm read “Remember ’48,” but the events of September 25, 1948 were only a memory.  Irwin Smallwood, writing in the Greensboro Daily News, on Sunday, September 28th, said, “Carolina’s hopes of a repeat of that great ’48 victory over Texas . . . lasted exactly five plays—no more.”  Five plays into the game, Carolina fumbled.  Texas recovered and never looked back, posting a 28 to 7 victory.   40,000 cheering Tar Heels, led by new UNC Head Cheerleader Bo Thorpe, along with the Elizabeth City Marching Band, and with Tar Heel football great Charlie Justice in the stands, and UNC All America Art Weiner at Snavely’s side on the bench.  All that was not enough.

Next on the schedule was Georgia in Athens, but that encounter would never happen.

The front-page headline in the Greensboro Daily News on October 3rd read, “University Cancels Two Grid Contests as Polio Strikes.”  The games with Georgia and NC State were canceled when UNC fullback Harold (Bull) Davidson came down with polio. Four additional students, all athletes, came down with the disease. Daily Tar Heel editor, Barry Farber, said, “the news is very depressing, but the only sensible step the University could take.”

Down in Athens, Georgia Head Coach Wally Butts said, “we are very disappointed that our traditional game with North Carolina can’t be played.  We feel they were right to cancel the game under the circumstances.”

During the next two weeks, students were urged to stay on campus and long distant telephone calls to and from Chapel Hill doubled as students and anxious parents kept in touch.

In the end, all five students, football player “Bull” Davidson, cross country teammates John Robert Barden, Jr. and Richard Lee Bostain, swimmer Robert Nash “Pete” Higgins, and freshman football player Samuel S. Sanders, all recovered quickly and none suffered any paralysis.

So, on October 18th, it was time to kickoff the ’52 football season for a second time, with Wake Forest coming to town for the 49th meeting between the two schools, a series dating back to 1888.

P081_NTBF3_6_2_1_1_1081

Bruce Hillenbrand of Wake Forest tackled by UNC’s Dick Lackey (30). This photograph, tightly cropped on the action on the left, ran in Monday’s Morning Star in Wilmington. It’s caption identified George Norris (#69) and Fred Satangelo (#60).

Despite losing 6 of 11 fumbles, the Tar Heels led Wake 7 to 6 with 1:16 left in the game.  But at that point Wake’s Sonny George kicked a game-winning- 22-yard field goal.  New mascot Rameses VIII and 30,000 Tar Heel fans left Kenan Stadium dejected.

Next it was on to South Bend and a fourth meeting with Notre Dame. This one turned out just as the previous three had been…a Tar Heel loss. This time it was 34 to 14.

This interesting side-bar story appeared in the Greensboro Daily News on October 30, 1952:

It may be bad . . . but really, it’s not all that bad.  Today (October 29th) Bo Thorpe reported to Coach Carl Snavely for football practice.  Snavely appraised his new candidate as very fast and shifty.  Thorpe is head cheerleader for Carolina’s Tar Heels, who have yet to win a game this season.

Time picked up the Thorpe story and ran it in its November 17th issue on page 132.

Here’s another interesting sidebar.  Henry Benton (Bo) Thorpe started his first band in 1978. He and his band played for five presidential and gubernatorial inaugural balls, the National Symphony Ball, the Kentucky Colonel’s Derby Ball and for the annual June German, a traditional dance held in Rocky Mount.  In all . . . at least 60 concerts a year.

For Carolina’s Tar Heels, a trip to Knoxville was next where they would be a three-touchdown underdog.  Only 22,000 fans turned out for the game that saw the Volunteers swamp the Heels 41 to 14. The losing streak, going back to October 13, 1951 was now at 10—longest among the nation’s major colleges.

Len Bullock running for a 69-yard touchdown run versus the University of Virginia.  This photograph, tightly cropped to focus on the action on the left, appeared in Wilmington's Sunday Star-News, 9 November 1952.

Len Bullock running for a 69-yard touchdown run versus the University of Virginia. This photograph, tightly cropped to focus on Bullock, appeared in Wilmington’s Sunday Star-News, 9 November 1952.

The University of Virginia was Carolina’s homecoming opponent on November 8, 1952.  Their trip to Chapel Hill would be their only out-of-state venture in ’52, and they obviously made it count…a 34 to 7 blowout.  A South Carolina homecoming game in Columbia was just ahead.

Flo Worrell, who starred in the South Carolina match-up, sits dejectedly during the UNC vs. Duke contest.

Flo Worrell, who starred in the South Carolina match-up, sits dejectedly during the UNC vs. Duke contest. A tightly cropped head-shot noting his new chinstrap was one of two photographs published in Wilmington’s Sunday Star-News—Worrell’s hometown newspaper.

UNC freshman Flo Worrell, who had played on Carolina’s junior varsity team most of the ’52 season, stepped up and led the Heels to a much-needed victory over USC, 27 to 19.  The losing streak was halted at 11 and Carolina fans looked forward to the traditional “battle of blues” slated for Saturday, November 22nd.

The weatherman promised 50-degrees and cloudy skies for the 39th meeting between Carolina and Duke . . . but he was wrong.  42,000 chilled fans saw Duke win the Southern Conference championship by shutting out the Tar Heels, 34 to 0.  Carolina was never in the game.

Duke head football coach Bill Murray being carried on shoulders of Duke football players, while UNC head football coach Carl Snavely shakes his hand at UNC-Chapel Hill versus Duke University football game at Kenan Memorial Stadium, Chapel Hill, NC. Duke players: #64 End Joe Hands, #39 Back David Lerps, #66 Guard Bobby Burrows, and #53 Center John Palmer.

Duke head football coach Bill Murray being carried on shoulders of Duke football players, while UNC head football coach Carl Snavely shakes his hand at UNC-Chapel Hill versus Duke University football game at Kenan Memorial Stadium, Chapel Hill, NC. Duke players: #64 End Joe Hands, #39 Back David Lerps, #66 Guard Bobby Burrows, and #53 Center John Palmer. This photograph appeared in the November 24th Charlotte News.

With one game remaining, the Heels were 1 and 6.  It had truly been a Tar Heel season out of focus.  In seven games Carolina had scored five times on the ground and six times through the air—a total of eleven touchdowns. (In 1948, Charlie Justice personally scores 11 times in 10 games and passed for 12 more touchdowns).

The final game of the 1952 season was a Friday night affair in Miami’s Orange Bowl against the Miami Hurricanes.  20,222 fans came out and saw Carolina play its best game since a 40 to 7 win over William & Mary in October of 1950. During a 13- minute span in the second quarter, Carolina scored 27 points.  The Alumni Review headline read, “34-7 Win Over Miami Provides Pleasing Finale.”

About 11:30 PM on Friday, November 28, 1952, the long ‘52 nightmare-season—a season like no other—was finally over.  It was unique, as the record book shows:

  • A 2-6 won-lost record
  • No wins in Kenan Stadium
  • 2 games canceled due to polio outbreak
  • Midway through the season, Head Cheerleader Bo Thorpe turns in his megaphone for a football helmet
  • Final game in the Southern Conference (the ’53 Tar Heels would play in the new Atlantic Coast Conference)
  • Carolina scores 27 points in 13 minutes at Miami

The unofficial record book shows that world class photographer Hugh Morton documented all four of Carolina’s home games during the 1952 season.  (He also photographed Duke’s home game against Georgia Tech.)

The University Athletic Council met at 8 PM on December 2 to decide the fate of Head Coach Carl Snavely.  The coach had turned in his letter of resignation earlier in the afternoon.  After 2 hours of discussion, the council accepted the resignation.  Dean A.W. Hobbs, Chairman of the Council said, “The Council wishes to go on record as appreciating sincerely the fine services that Mr. Snavely has rendered the athletic association at the University of North Carolina.”

Carl Snavely left Chapel Hill in early 1953 and would not return to the campus until the “Charlie Justice Era” reunion during the weekend of October 29-31, 1971.

The good news from Chapel Hill in late 1952 was that new Head Basketball Coach Frank McGuire won his first game with the Tar Heels…a 70 to 50 win over The Citadel on December 1st.

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War times

But how soon will we free Americans forsake the healthy 1914 status for a return to the rapid mobilization of 1917?

—editorial column, The Daily Tar Heel, 15 September 1939

"North Carolina Rifle Team, Camp Perry, Ohio." Hugh Morton (rear, left, with Camp Yonahnoka patch) and other young men posing with rifles.

“North Carolina Rifle Team, Camp Perry, Ohio.” Hugh Morton (rear, left, with Camp Yonahnoka patch) and other young men posing with rifles. The date of this photograph is uncertain, but thought to be circa 1939-1940.

From the standpoint of military remembrances, we are living today within a curious historical alignment: we are amid the final year of the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War, which ended in April 1865; we look back 100 years on the start of “The Great War,” which began in the last days of July 1914; and we mark 75 years since the beginning of World War II in September 1939.  It is that final conflict that falls within the sphere of Hugh Morton, who 75 years ago today began his first day of classes as a freshman at the University of North Carolina.

Frosh Morton likely would have read the school year’s first issue of The Daily Tar Heel, in which the student newspaper’s editors reprinted one of its articles from 1918 about the first world war and now called for neutrality in the second.  In an editorial titled, “The War: Stay Sane; Stay Out of Europe” they wrote,

. . . may the University student body of 1939—well augmented as it is this morning by a heavy influx of new blood, the Men of ’43—steep itself in the attitude of the 1914 group: a general interest in keeping America neutral and uninvolved!

The “Men of ’43,” however, included women.  The Daily Tar Heel noted elsewhere that coed registrations had already surpassed 300 women, with the total anticipated to reach 500—a number dwarfed by total registrations expected to reach 3,600.

There are few photographs in the collection from these early days at Chapel Hill, either of or by Hugh Morton, because his camera was stolen soon after he arrived on campus.  The group portrait above is one of the few in the collection that depict Morton during this time period.  It is not related to the war, but it is interesting to note that Hugh Morton was a sharpshooter with a rifle.  Perhaps this posting will lead to some additional identifications and a more precise date.  The only clues we have about the above photograph stem from comments made on a post a few years ago about a photograph made around the same time on the Canadian border.

Much like developments between 1914 and 1917, American neutrality ended at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Hugh Morton enlisted in the Army in 1942, and his military service relied on his eye as sharpshooter—not as rifleman, but as a combat movie cameraman.

Photographer Hugh Morton at military encampment, holding movie camera. Taken during Morton's World War II service with the 161st Signal Photography Corps.

Photographer Hugh Morton at military encampment, holding movie camera. Taken during Morton’s World War II service with the 161st Signal Photography Corps.

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A Hall for All . . . Old, New, and Renovated

Nine years ago on September 8, 2005, the “new and improved” Memorial Hall on the UNC campus was celebrated with a grand re-opening weekend. On this special anniversary, Morton Collection volunteer, Jack Hilliard, takes a look back at this iconic building.

Memorial Hall at UNC-Chapel Hill, April 22 1987.

Memorial Hall at UNC-Chapel Hill, April 22 1987.

It became painfully clear during UNC’s commencement weekend of 1883 that Gerrard Hall was too small for Carolina’s growing family.  Afterward, officials quickly drew plans for a new 4,000-seat building on a site just west of Gerrard to be named Memorial Hall in honor of David Lowry Swain, President of the University from 1835 until 1868, and North Carolina’s Governor from 1832 until 1835.  Soon after construction began, however, the university expanded the memorial honor to include UNC alumni who died in the Civil War as well as additional outstanding Carolina alumni and North Carolina citizens.

A lagging fund raising campaign and cost overruns plagued the project, but finally construction was completed and Memorial Hall was dedicated on June 3, 1885. A project that had an original estimated cost of $20,000 had a final cost about $45,000. (That’s $1.074 million in today’s dollars.)  Despite a poor architectural design and major acoustical problems, the facility served the University until 1929. In 1896, after the campus gymnasium became a dining hall, Memorial Hall was used as a gymnasium and remained in that capacity until Bynum Gym was opened on May 29, 1905. By 1929, Memorial Hall had suffered major damage to its foundation.  The building was declared unsafe and torn down.

On January 18, 1930 John Sprunt Hill, speaking for the University building committee, recommended “the erection of a modern fireproof building of greater dignity, to replace old Memorial Hall.”  The State Emergency Fund provided $150,000 to construct a new structure on the site of the old hall.  The new Memorial Hall was completed in mid-summer 1931 at a final cost of $182,000 ($2.6 million in today’s dollars).  On University Day, October 12th, the new facility was dedicated and the building was presented to University trustee, John Sprunt Hill, by North Carolina Governor O. Max Gardner.

The first performance on stage in the new building was dancer Carola Goya. For almost 30 years, Memorial Hall served the University and Chapel Hill community well with entertainment, freshman orientations sessions, awards nights, baccalaureate exercises, commencement ceremonies, lectures, pep rallies, the North Carolina Symphony, and even a beauty pageant in 1966. The list of those appearing on stage reads like a who’s who . . . Louis Armstrong, Dave Brubeck, Montovani, Marcel Marceau.  On January 31, 1942, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt visited campus as keynote speaker at a jointly-sponsored International Student Service-Carolina Political Union Conference on “Youth’s Stake in War Aims and Peace Plans.”

Eleanor Roosevelt standing at the stage entrance to Memorial Hall with her secretary Malvina Thompson on the left, Frank Porter Graham (second from left), and Josephus Daniels (right), during Roosevelt's January 1942 visit to the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, as the keynote speaker at a jointly-sponsored International Student Service-Carolina Political Union conference on “Youth’s Stake in War Aims and Peace Plans.”

Eleanor Roosevelt standing at the stage entrance to Memorial Hall with her secretary Malvina Thompson on the left, Frank Porter Graham (second from left), and Josephus Daniels (right), during Roosevelt’s January 1942 visit to the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, as the keynote speaker at a jointly-sponsored International Student Service-Carolina Political Union conference on “Youth’s Stake in War Aims and Peace Plans.”

Over the years, Hal Holbrook with his “Evening with Mark Twain” made several appearances as did Flamenco guitarist Carlos Montoya. At the height of the folk music era  Joan Baez, and Peter, Paul and Mary stopped by. In 1987 Charles Kuralt and Loonis McGlohon performed “North Carolina is My Home.”  A speakers list includes, Billy Graham, Terry Sanford, and Ted Kennedy. Walter Cronkite and Dan Rather have been featured at the Nelson Benton Memorial Lecture series sponsored by the School of Journalism and Mass Communications, and coaches Carl Snavely, Wallace Wade, and Dean Smith were featured as part of an ongoing series on sportsmanship.  On May 13, 1989 as part of Graduation/Reunion Weekend, Hugh Morton presented a slide show from Carolina’s Golden Age to a near-full house in the storied facility.

Dan Rather during his appearance at the Nelson Benton Lecture series at UNC-Chapel Hill in Memorial Hall on April 26, 1991.

Dan Rather during his appearance at the Nelson Benton Lecture series at UNC-Chapel Hill in Memorial Hall on April 26, 1991.

When UNC’s Clef Hangers completed their annual spring concert on April 20, 2002 the doors to the ‘Great Hall” were closed for a three-year major building transformation. A partnership between the State of North Carolina and hundreds of generous donors funded the $18 million project. The new Memorial Hall now has air conditioning, seven dressing rooms, new marble lobby floor, and a new stage that is twice the size of the original. The auditorium seating configuration is improved with wider aisles and better sight lines.

On September 8, 2005 a ribbon-cutting ceremony kicked off the Grand Reopening Gala that featured stars Tony Bennett, Itzhak Perlman, and Leonard Slatkin—plus our own North Carolina Symphony.  Following the hall’s renovation, Carolina Performing Arts has continued to offer world-class performances in music, dance and theater, and the caliber of performers picked up right where it had left off before closing with Bonnie Raitt, Yo-Yo Ma, Nanci Griffith, and Vince Gill.  In 2005, National Public Radio’s “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me!” originated a nation-wide broadcast from Memorial Hall, and in 2009 the world-renowned Bolshoi Ballet performed a first ever concert in the Southeast.

The future is just as bright for Memorial Hall.  Performances this season include the Pittsburgh Symphony under the direction of Manfred Honeck, and Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra. And of course the Holidays would not be complete without the Carolina Ballet’s performance of “The Nutcracker.”

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