Worry No More: a Charlie Justice photograph revisited

An interesting revelation about a classic Hugh Morton photograph serendipitously unveiled itself last week while I was writing my previous post on the Good WILLmington Mission, which occurred mid November 1948 and stemmed from a tragic event that occurred during the final days of October of that year.  Researching issues of the Wilmington Morning Star on microfilm, I discovered a number of Morton photographs—including the one below in the November 8th edition that I recalled having seen several times before.

Photograph as published in Wilmington Morning Star 8 November 1948 page 6

The beginning of the caption reads:

IN THE CLOSING MINUTES of the Carolina-William & Mary game Saturday, about the time it was obvious that the Tar Heels could not break the 7-7 tie, here’s how the Carolina bench looked. . . .

I made the digital copy you see above from the newspaper microfilm because often it is the easiest way to transcribe long captions when updating image descriptions in the online collection of Morton photographs.  With the scan in hand, I returned to the original focus of my digging expedition. Later, a quick check in the online collection located the stadium sideline scene below (without cropping),

Charlie Justice and Carl Snavely, 1948. . . but the image had the surprising title “1949 Sugar Bowl: UNC vs. Oklahoma” and its description read:

UNC All America Tailback Charlie “Choo Choo” Justice #22 talks with Head Football Coach Carl Snavely at Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, LA. Others in the picture: #66 Blocking Back Paul Rizzo, #67 Center Dan Stiegman, and #33 Blocking Back Bobby Weant. The assistant coach to Snavely’s left is line coach Max Reed; “board of directors meeting at the final bowl.”

Did you catch that? Here was a classic Morton image of Charlie Justice, long associated with his last game with UNC—the 1950 Cotton Bowl played nearly 14 months later—because of its placement the chapter “End of an Era” in Choo Choo: The Charlie Justice Story by Bob Quincy and Julian Scheer published in 1958. In their biography of Justice, Quincy and Sheer’s caption reads, “Board of directors meeting at the final bowl.” And to compound the confusion, we had a subject heading for the Cotton Bowl, but our description related to the 1949 Sugar Bowl. (Note: I’ve since corrected the description, title, and subject heading.)

Another known appearance in print of the photograph is the June 19th, 1949 issue of Holiday magazine with the caption:

All American halfback “Choo Choo” Charlie Justice has confab with Coach Carl Snavely.  Justice with another year of playing eligibility has already become one of U.N.C.’s grid immortals.

Obviously that publication also predates the 1950 Cotton Bowl.

I passed this discovery on to our contributor Jack Hilliard, who also noted that the player uniforms in this picture are definitely from 1948.  He also noticed that Snavely is wearing a dark coat in the William and Mary photograph, but in photographs of the 1949 Sugar Bowl he is wearing a lighter-tone overcoat.  So looking more closely at Snavely, I noticed that he is wearing the same tie in both photographs!  Maybe it was his favorite game-day tie during 1948, because he is also sports it in a photograph shot after defeating the University of Texas on September 25th, 1948, an undated photograph with Wake Forest coach Peahead Walker, (if you click on those links and use the zoom tool—is that the same sports coat, too?!) and a photograph made just before the 1949 Sugar Bowl.

So with new evidence in hand, we need “Worry, Worry, And More Worry” no more. The “board of directors” photograph has been relocated to its proper place on the “Justice Era” time line.

5 thoughts on “Worry No More: a Charlie Justice photograph revisited

  1. Great detective work, Stephen and Jack! (Now I’m expecting Jack to come with that necktie’s overall won-lost record.)

  2. Excellent work, Stephen…just goes to show that the Morton Collection is and will continue to be a work in progress. As new material is found, the level of identification will be stepped up.

    Lew I don’t know how Coach Snavely actually did overall with what has to be one of his favorite ties…but the 7-7 tie with William & Mary on November 6, 1948 wrecked what would have been a 10-0 season.

    Three days after Truman beat Dewey, when William & Mary rolled into Chapel Hill on Friday, November 5, 1948, they weren’t given much of a chance against the undefeated, third-ranked Tar Heels. Carolina was riding atop a 13 game winning streak…a winning streak that had started ironically against William & Mary on October 18, 1947. I think it’s safe to say that most of the 43,000 fans that jammed into Kenan Stadium on that gray Saturday afternoon thought this would be win number 14; however, the William & Mary team on the field had a different idea.

    After a scoreless first quarter, William & Mary recovered a fumble on the Carolina 27 yard line about half way through quarter number two. Two line plays netted 6 yards…then on third down, left halfback Tommy Korczowski threw a looping pass into the end zone for Lou Hoitsma who seemed to be covered by Tar Heels Bill Flamisch and Bill Maceyko. All three went up for the ball, but Hoitsma made a circus catch. The Indians (W&M’s nickname in 1949) led 7-0 at the half. Late in the third quarter, Hosea Rodgers finally scored for the Heels on a one yard run. For the remainder of the third quarter and through the fourth, UNC’s Charlie Justice and W&M’s Jack Cloud tried all the tricks in the book, but defense was the name of the game on this day. With time running out and Carolina with the ball at its own 21, Billy Hayes went back to pass…spotted Max Cooke at the 28 and let it fly, but William & Mary’s Joe Mark cut in front of Cooke and made the interception. When Hayes finally got Mark on the ground, the ball was at the Carolina 8… just as the gun sounded. Jack Cloud immediately ran up to referee Dandelake pleading for a time out. But, as UNC center Joe Neikirk, who was standing beside the ref, likes to tell the story, Dandelake said, “Son, the game is over.”

    So, how did William & Mary hold the number three team in the country to a 7-7 tie. They got only one first down and that was on a penalty…they completed only 2 passes for a total of 22 yards… they gained only 19 yards on the ground. The answer…the headline in UNC’s “The Alumni Review” tells it all:

    “Powerful W & M Defense Ends Tar Heel Streak”

    One doesn’t always consider a tie game to be a great game, but when you check the ’49 William & Mary yearbook, you find that they considered the tie with Carolina to be the “Highlight of the Year,” and the 21 yard touchdown pass as the “greatest play of the season.”

    A classic game for both Carolina and William & Mary.

  3. Reminds me of the 1968 Harvard Crimson headline “Harvard Beats Yale 29-29.” Harvard had come from behind with 16 points in the final 42 seconds…
    One of the many elements in this photo that says “bygone days” is in the bottom right corner. Water without additives and a bucket that looks like it came out of a long-ago feed-and-seed…

  4. Lew, I still can’t give you a definitive answer on how many wins Snavely got out of that famous tie, but this past week I was researching a post for the Morton web site “A View to Hugh,” and came up with a bit more of the tie story.

    Early in the 1947 season, UNC lost two games in a row…one to Texas on October 4th and one to Wake Forest on October 11th. Dr. O. B. Bonner (UNC Class of 1914) of High Point decided to do something to break the jinx, so he went down to a local clothing store and picked out a tie for Coach Snavely. It was a red, white, and blue number with diagonal stripes and big “new look” dots. According to the UNC “Alumni Review,” Bonner sent the tie to Snavely somewhat in the manner a colonial settler might have sent a feather to one of the Lord Proprietors–as a token of loyalty and allegiance. Snavely caught the significance. Despite the long-established personal policy of never wearing anything new to a football game, Snavely decided to wear the tie to the game at William & Mary on October 18, 1947. He may have wondered whether he could break the jinx by such a revolutionary decision. But–just before game time–there came an “omen” of good luck. Going into Cary Field, Snavely caught sight of a rabbit’s foot on the ground in a spot where had previously been and had seen nothing. The rabbit’s foot was one of those souvenirs to which college colors are attached and sold at games. He picked it up and put it in his pocket. Carolina won the game 13 to 7. Snavely continued to wear the tie during the next 12 games and Carolina won all 12. Then came the ’48 William & Mary game which ended in that 7-7 tie. But that didn’t stop the Coach from wearing his lucky tie for 3 more wins. Then came the 1949 Sugar Bowl…on January 1, 1949 the tie failed…the Tar Heels lost to Oklahoma 14 to 6. Again, Snavely continued to wear the tie for at least 4 more wins. On October 22, 1949, UNC lost a night game to LSU in Baton Rouge. I have not been able to determine if Snavely worn the tie that night…or ever again.

  5. Thanks for rescuing Snavely’s superstitions from obscurity, Jack….Reminded me that rabbits’ feet used to be common good-luck totems — haven’t seen one in ages….

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