The Games and Gatherings in the Meadows at Grandfather: The Beginning

"Scottish Clans 1956" by Hugh Morton (cropped by the editor).

“Scottish Clans 1956” by Hugh Morton (cropped by the editor).

The 61st annual “Grandfather Mountain Highland Games and Gathering of Scottish Clans” takes place in Linville’s MacRae Meadows from July 7th through July 10th, 2016. This spectacular happening has become one of the most popular and colorful events of its type in all of North America. As we celebrate once again this mountain event, Morton Collection volunteer Jack Hilliard looks at the first “gathering and games” back in 1956.

. . . there is the annual Grandfather Mountain Highland Games and Gathering of the Scottish Clans, which must be seen to be believed.  Powerful men wearing skirts compete in tossing telephone poles about.  Who can explain such a thing? It is Scottish.
—CBS News legend and Hugh Morton’s friend, Charles Kuralt, June 7, 1996

Sunday, August 19, 1956 was a special day at MacRae Meadows in the shadows of Grandfather Mountain. On that day, the first Highland Games ever held in the South were staged to the delight of about 10,000 spectators according to The Asheville Citizen issue of August 20th.

Many months of planning and preparation had gone into the event and according to the 1976 Souvenir Programme and Review booklet, the idea for a gathering began to take shape when Mrs. J. W. Morton (Agnes MacRae) read an article about Scottish gatherings in other areas and began talking about the idea for a gathering at Grandfather Mountain. One of the people she contacted, in 1955, was Donald F. McDonald of Charlotte.

Donald MacDonald dancing the Highland Fling while an unidentified woman plays accordion at the first Highland Games in 1956 near Grandfather Mountain, N. C. (Hugh Morton photograph, cropped by the editor.)

Donald MacDonald dancing the Highland Fling while an unidentified woman plays accordion at the first Highland Games in 1956 near Grandfather Mountain, N. C. (Hugh Morton photograph, cropped by the editor.)

McDonald had attended Scotland’s famous Braemar Gathering in 1954 and suggested that highland games would attract more visitors than just a reunion of individual clans.  Morton and McDonald planned for a one-day event, based on the Braemar Gathering with performances of Scottish songs and dances along with athletic events including foot races, wresting, the high jump, and the shot put.  Even today, the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games and Gathering of Scottish Clans is often called “America’s Braemar.”

The festivities started that morning in 1956 at 11 o’clock with a church service conducted by Mr. MacDonald.  Honored guests were introduced next.  Two bands were present: the Washington, D. C., St. Andrew’s Society Pipe Band under the direction of Pipe Major Gene Castleberry, and “The Fighting Scots” Brass from Scotland County High School in Laurinburg, N. C.

The highland dance competition was held on a large platform as was the piping competition.  Major Castleberry won the professional bag piping competition, and William Firestone of Cumberland, Virginia took home the novice piping honors.

The field activities took place in both the East and the West Meadows.  A racing path was marked off in the same area where an oval track would be built in 1958.  The track and field competition included a 60-yard and a 100-yard dash, a 2-mile cross-country race, pole vaulting, and a tug o’ war.

Man tossing caber with spectators in background at the first annual Grandfather Mountain Highland Games in 1956. Notice the caber tosser is in stocking feet and that the judge is barefooted. Photograph by Hugh Morton.

Man tossing caber with spectators in background at the first annual Grandfather Mountain Highland Games in 1956. Notice the caber tosser is in stocking feet and that the judge is barefooted. Photograph by Hugh Morton.

One of the highlights of the day was the caber toss (sometimes called “turning the caber,” which requires the athlete to flip a telephone pole-sized tree trunk end-over-end for distance and accuracy). Ronald Patterson, a student from Appalachian State Teachers College (today’s Appalachian State University), won the competition.  He tossed the 200-hundred pound caber 36 feet, 10 inches.  Patterson also won the shot put contest. Other track-and-field winners included Leslie Taylor of Charlotte, high-jump; Clyde Autin of Boone, cross-country; Paul Arrington of Charlotte, broad-jump; and Vance Houston of Charlotte, 60-yard dash.

Girl in Scottish attire dancing on a wooden platform, with crowd watching and Grandfather Mountain in the background, during the 1956 Grandfather Mountain Highland Games. Photograph by Hugh Morton.

Girl in Scottish attire dancing on a wooden platform, with crowd watching and Grandfather Mountain in the background, during the 1956 Grandfather Mountain Highland Games. Photograph by Hugh Morton.

The Asheville newspaper described the Highland dance competition winner as “an Asheville lassie, little red-haired Margaret Fletcher.”  She also received the trophy as the best all around dancer.  (An interesting side note here: little Margaret Fletcher’s older sister, Maria, was crowned Miss North Carolina in the summer of 1961 and went on to become North Carolina’s only Miss America that September).

Lads, Lassies Twirl Tartans, Roll R’s —The Greensboro Daily News, August 20, 1956

The continuing success of the highland games at Grandfather is due in large measure to the beautiful setting.  Agnes MacRae Morton’s father, Hugh MacRae, developed the town of Linville at the foot of Grandfather Mountain in Avery County. The rugged terrain is similar to the landscape of some areas of Scotland. Morton volunteered the use of MacRae Meadows and the Morton family has continued to support the gathering and games for over sixty years with Agnes Morton’s son, Hugh MacRae Morton, taking a significant role in the promotion of the events with his magnificent photographic and public relations skills prior to his death a little more than one month before the 2006 games. For the 1956 event, Morton was able to land a magazine cover image for The State showing Donald MacDonald, Chieftain of the ’56 games, beside Angus MacKinnon MacBryde of the Isle of Mull, Scotland.  The August 11th issue promoted the upcoming games on the 19th.

The gathering and games, now held annually the second full weekend in July, regularly attract more than 30,000 and have made not just the event, but the entire region synonymous with Scottish heritage.  Hugh Morton, in his 2003 book, Hugh Morton’s North Carolina, says “the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games are considered one of the best Scottish-heritage events in the world . . .”  And Harris Prevost, who as News Director for the 1984 games, proclaimed in a news release: “Some people may attend highland games but the people who come to Grandfather live them!”

A climb to the bridge

During Memorial Day weekend 2016, two great auto racing events took time to remember and honor troops: the Indianapolis 500 at Speedway, Indiana, which ran its 100th race, and the Coca-Cola 600 at Concord, North Carolina, which ran its 57th race.  The latter, held at Charlotte Motor Speedway ran its first event on June 19, 1960 and was called “The World 600.”  Fifteen days before that first run, on June 4th, another racing event in North Carolina ran its 8th annual event at Grandfather Mountain.

Usually when one thinks of events at Grandfather Mountain, the Highland Games and Singing on the Mountain immediately come to mind.  But during the 1950s and early 1960s, there was another event that drew considerable attention.  Today, Morton collection volunteer Jack Hilliard takes a look back at the Grandfather Mountain Sports Car Hill Climb.

Car #22 racing to the top during the 1957 Grandfather Mountain Sports Car Hill Climb. (Photograph cropped by the editor.)

Car #22 racing to the top during the 1957 Grandfather Mountain Sports Car Hill Climb. (Photograph cropped by the editor.)

On a June day in 1953, nine months after Hugh Morton and his team at Grandfather Mountain dedicated the Mile High Swinging Bridge, a small group of sports car enthusiasts from the Greensboro-Burlington-Winston chapter of the Sports Car Club of North Carolina gathered on the road at the foot of the historic mountain.  They, along with Morton, wanted to see how fast they could climb the winding two-and-a half-mile road with an elevation increase of 1,000 feet during a race to the top against the clock.  An average tourist driver would take about ten minutes to maneuver the 28-turn trip to the Swinging Bridge, but these sports cars, with their tremendous horsepower, could do it much faster.  On that June day a Jaguar made the run in 4 minutes, 55 seconds—and the idea for a “hill climb” caught on.  A new event would be added to the Grandfather Mountain summer calendar.

In late May, 1954, Hugh Morton sent out the following press release:

Two events you’re likely to enjoy take place at Grandfather Mountain the weekend of June 5-6. . . The mile-high kite flying contest was the idea of Fox-Movietone News and has met with such enthusiasm that now it promises to be a show of great proportions . . . .  A sports car race is something that was tried with great success last year at Grandfather on a relatively small scale . . . this year the Greensboro-Burlington-Winston chapter of the Sports Car Club of North Carolina will be joined by MG and Jaguar fanciers from the Charlotte area and all over for a really big affair.  The Grandfather Mountain road gains elevation in a hurry and has one or two curves, so it’s a natural for the sports car folks.  Mystery-thriller writer Mickey Spillane, who sells by the millions those books your wife won’t let you read, is scheduled for pace-setter in the race.

On Saturday night, June 5, 1954, Spillane made the 400-mile trip from Myrtle Beach in time for the first run up the mountain, scheduled for 10 o’clock on Sunday morning.  Thirty-four drivers competed, and a crowd estimated at 1,000 cheered them on.  At the end of the day Maurice Poole, Jr., from Greensboro, was the overall winner driving a Riley touring car in a record time of 3 minutes, 55 seconds.

Hugh Morton labeled this negative "Sports Car Hill Climb" but he did not provide the date. After examining a high resolution scan of the negative, the third line of inscription on the trophy on the left appears to end in "1954." If so, the overall winner that year was Maurice Poole, Jr. of Greensboro, North Carolina. The Class A competition winner was Tony Haigh of Hampton, Virginia. Maurice Poole, Jr. was the Class B winner, and the Class C winner was John Belk of Hickory, North Carolina. Do those names match up with these faces? And is the person on the left Mickey Spillane? That's a mighty low part on the right side of the awards presenter's head and might be a good feature for comparing against known portraits of the famed detective novelist. (Photograph cropped by the editor.)

Hugh Morton labeled this negative “Sports Car Hill Climb” but he did not provide the date. After examining a high resolution scan of the negative, the third line of inscription on the trophy on the left appears to end in “1954.” If so, the overall winner that year was Maurice Poole, Jr. of Greensboro, North Carolina. The Class A competition winner was Tony Haigh of Hampton, Virginia. Maurice Poole, Jr. was the Class B winner, and the Class C winner was John Belk of Hickory, North Carolina. Do those names match up with these faces? And is the person on the left Mickey Spillane? That’s a mighty low part on the right side of the awards presenter’s head and might be a good feature for comparing against known portraits of the famed detective novelist. (Photograph cropped by the editor.)

A year later, the third annual Grandfather Mountain Hill Climb was staged on June 3rd and 4th, 1955—third annual if you count that unofficial run in 1953.  This time sixty drivers were on hand with more than twenty-five of them driving Jaguars.  ’54 winner Maurice Poole was the man to beat on this day, but he had changed his winning Riley for a ’55 modified Jag.  When the dust had settled on Sunday afternoon, a Chevrolet-powered V8 MG driven by Jimmy Kaperoms had set a new record of 3 minutes, 33 seconds.

In the June ’56 hill climb, Winston-Salem’s Ed Welch, driving a Mercury-powered Bob Davis Special set yet another record over the crushed-gravel course, climbing the hill with a time of 3:25.3.  Welch, having won three class races at Grandfather over the years, was awarded the Dennis Strong Memorial Trophy, which was named for one of the founders of the Grandfather Mountain race.  Strong was killed in 1953 during a sports car race in Greensboro.

Almost 100 drivers registered for the 1957 hill climb, and Hugh Morton brought in his old friend from Morganton, golfer Billy Joe Patton to make the trophy presentations.  Helping Patton was “Queen of the Hill Climb” Betty Jean Goodwin from Spartanburg, South Carolina, a Wake Forest coed. The ’57 winner was once again Ed Welch and again he set a record of 3:23.1 to the delight of the more than 3,000 spectators.

Spectators watching woman kissing man on cheek who is receiving trophy, probably for winning the Sports Car Hill Climb event at Grandfather Mountain, N. C. Golfer Billy Joe Patton at left. From a negative labeled "Sports Cars '57" by Hugh Morton.

Spectators watching woman kissing man on cheek who is receiving trophy, probably for winning the Sports Car Hill Climb event at Grandfather Mountain, N. C. Golfer Billy Joe Patton at left. From a negative labeled “Sports Cars ’57” by Hugh Morton.

A unique situation occurred at the 1958 hill climb: the new winning driver drove the defending champion’s old car.  When Billy Joe Patton, along with 1958 Queen Judy Kincaid, presented the winning trophy to Phil Styles of Burnsville, he stood beside that same Mercury-powered Davis Special that Ed Welch had driven in ’57.  Styles continued the tradition by setting a record run of 3:19.9.

The first weekend in June of 1959 proved to be a busy time at Grandfather Mountain.  The Carolina Golf Writers Association held a tournament at the Linville Country Club and that was followed by a second tournament sponsored by the Carolinas Golf Association pros—and fifty drivers ran the Grandfather Mountain Hill Climb, now in its sixth year.  The late arrival of the radio car delayed the start of the race, and overcast skies and windy conditions prevented a record run, but 5,000 spectators saw Phil Styles of Burnsville power his Davis Special to a winning time of 3:28 to receive the Julian Morton Cup by Queen Norma Jean McMillan.

The 1960 race was interrupted by showers, but the 4,000 spectators didn’t seem to mind as they cheered Austin-Healey driver J. T. Putney from Asheville as the overall winner.  Hill Climb Queen Jane Joyner from Raleigh, and UNC football legend Charlie Justice presented the Julian Morton Cup to Putney.

The Grandfather Mountain Hill Climb became the oldest sports car event in the south with the 1961 event as drivers from six states competed.  The estimated crowd of 6,000 saw a whopping 17.8 seconds clipped off Phil Styles’s 1958 record.  Orlando, Florida driver Bill Stuckworth set the new mark of 3:02.1 driving a Siata-Corvette.

The 1962 Grandfather Mountain Hill Climb was originally scheduled for June 9-10, but on May, 11, 1962, Hugh Morton made an important announcement.  “We have been pleased with the sponsorship of the sports car hill climb at Grandfather Mountain for the past eight years, and are quite relieved that in those years we have not had an accident in which either driver or spectator was seriously injured.  We have decided to quit the event while we are ahead.

Spectators watching the Grandfather Mountain Sports Car Hill Climb circa the early 1960s. (Photograph cropped by the editor.)

Spectators watching the Grandfather Mountain Sports Car Hill Climb circa the early 1960s. (Photograph cropped by the editor.)

“As the Grandfather Mountain climb became more popular, it became increasingly difficult to run it without having spectators too close to the road while the sports cars were racing against the clock at high speeds and spectators were climbing to precarious places to watch the event. . . . Our principal concern has always been that a thoughtless spectator could be seriously hurt, since we could not control spectator behavior along the two and a half mile road leading to the parking area near the Mile High Swinging Bridge.”

In early June, the Sports Car Club of America announced the scheduling of a four-hour endurance race for June 10, 1962 in Columbia, South Carolina to replace the Grandfather Mountain event.

Twenty four years later, in the spring of 1985, Morton was approached by a group of sports car drivers from the Chimney Rock Hill Climb, wanting him to revisit the climb at Grandfather.  Although he knew it would be a challenge, Morton wanted to help the guys so he set up a modified course and scheduled an early June race date. The new course would be one-mile in length from the parking lot at the habitat area to the parking lot at the Mile High Swinging Bridge. It would have a vertical rise of 600 feet, and feature thirteen turns that sports writer John Davidson described as ranging from fast sweepers to first gear ‘creepers.’

Race day dawned wet and foggy, but Mike Green, driving a “Chap-Mazda Special” was able to post a winning time of 1:13.982 on the short course.  As Morton suspected, the day was far from a success.  Grandfather Mountain’s Harris Prevost, Vice President of the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation, described that race day situation:

“Obviously, we could not have anyone else on the summit road when they were racing. Thus, everywhere there was a chance a car could pull out on the road, we had to have someone there to keep them where they were . . . people at the two picnic areas, Black Rock Parking Lot, Nature Museum and Top, all had to stay in place until all the cars made their run. This did not sit well with our guests, to say the least. . . . Being told to wait 30-45 minutes did not work.”

Before the race day ended, discussions were already underway about the future of the race. It was agreed to move the 1986 event to a September time when normal Grandfather traffic would be less. The September time was a goodwill gesture but it didn’t work much better, plus the number of spectators had dwindled to just a few friends of drivers.  So, the event was once again discontinued and those Chimney Rock drivers moved to Beech Mountain where they started a new event.

In 2014, Arcadia Publishers of Charleston, South Carolina published a Grandfather Mountain book as part of their “Images of America” series.  On the front cover, the editors chose an action photograph of the Bob Davis Special at one of the 1950s climb to the top. (The image was taken by Hugh Morton photographic contemporary Sebastian Sommer).

The Morton collection finding aid lists more than 300 photographs of the Grandfather Mountain Sports Car Hill Climb, 17 of which are viewable online.

This is Living

Clouds

“Clouds”

Only experts take great photographs, and a great photograph (about as common as a great painting) is creative.  Its impact is a stinging slap to the jaded or flagging attention.  And its result will always be some deepened insight into the very nature of one aspect of this life that we are all, flower, man and beast, enjoying together on this our dusty, colorful planet home.

—Donald Culross Peattie in This is Living: A View of Nature with Photographs (1938)

June 1st, 2016 is the tenth anniversary of Hugh Morton’s passing.  During the years that we have been writing for A View to Hugh, we have primarily featured Morton’s photographs of historical events from a factual perspective because that is the mainstay of the North Carolina Collection.  Today, however, presents a marvelous opportunity to explore Morton’s nature photography—and following that link leads you to well over 700 photographs assigned that subject heading.

As you will see, certainly not every Morton photograph is great; there never has been, nor will there ever be, a photographer for whom this could be true.  And even an amateur can make a great photograph now and then.  Not every photograph, however, needs to be great.  The trillions of photographs that we have made are micro expressions of singular moments in time.  Hugh Morton was a gifted photographer who made many great photographs, many more good photographs, and many that were merely visual explorations along the way to making many good and great photographs. We are all honored that his prolific body of work is available in Wilson Library for all to utilize for our own explorations in life.  There is great benefit to all in having one person’s lifelong photographic vision available beyond his or her place in time.

The opening quotation above comes from Donald Culross Peattie’s introduction to his commentary on more than 120 nature photographs by various photographers selected by Gordon Aymar.  Most of the photographs are not great, some are far from it.  Brought together, however, Aymar’s selection and sequencing of the photographs into chapters titled “Life-Force,” “Young Beginnings,” “Home,” “Living Together,” “Hunger,” Mysterious Ways,” “Death,” and “Life the Conqueror” leads readers through many photographic observations that celebrate living.  Morton, with his ever-present camera, explored these very same categories, and more, in his nature photography.

On this tenth anniversary of Hugh Morton’s death, I invite you to explore his nature photography.  Doing so will give you the opportunity to celebrate life as Morton saw it spanning seven decades through his eyes, cameras, and lenses.  To quote Peattie once more:

It is a slender world in the cosmosphere that is set aside for us to inhabit—no more than the surface of one drifting bubble.  The limits of life as we know it are terribly strict.  Within these frail dimensions all living things are crowded, flung together in an intimacy that means struggle.  We are conscripted to that struggle by the fact of birth, delivered from it, generally against our will, by death.  This is living.

More than a building

During the month of May, UNC’s General Alumni Association (GAA) celebrates three very important anniversaries: it’s 173rd birthday on May 31st, and the groundbreaking for and the dedication of the George Watts Hill Alumni Center.  Morton collection volunteer Jack Hilliard shares some the history behind these events.

Frank H. Kenan (left) and George Watts Hill Sr. (right) at an unidentified event, probably at UNC-Chapel Hill. (Photograph cropped by blog editor.)

Frank H. Kenan (left) and George Watts Hill Sr. (right) at an unidentified event, probably at UNC-Chapel Hill. (Photograph cropped by blog editor.)

A Prolog
The General Alumni Association at the University of North Carolina (GAA) was born on May 31, 1843 when thirty-one graduates ranging from the classes of 1801 to 1842 gathered in Garrard Hall with Governor John Motley Morehead as chairman and director.  Three decades would pass, however, before alumni as a collective body would take an active role in the well–being of the university.  According to Kenneth Joel Zogry in his 1999 book, The University’s Living Room: A History of the Carolina Inn, “there was little interest or activity before the Civil War.  But alumni involvement was critical to the reopening of the University in 1875.”

Following the university’s reopening, alumni activities took place in various campus locations—first in the Alumni Building on McCorkle Place, then on the second and third floors of South Building—but there never seemed to be enough room.  Plans drawn for The Carolina Inn in 1922 had the GAA moving its offices into the building, fulfilling the original concept for the inn.  When the inn opened in December 1924, however, there was no space included for the Alumni Association offices, and the “traveling” GAA continued its journey from the third floor of South Building.

In a letter dated June 4, 1935 John Sprunt Hill, who had built the Carolina Inn, turned the facility over to the university.  Soon thereafter, on February 13, 1936, the university made makeshift quarters for the GAA by modifying the inn’s eastern porch that ran behind the the main ballroom. The enclosed porch, along with space in the basement and lobby, became GAA’s home, lasting until 1940 when it moved into a small suite of offices next to the inn’s Faculty Club Room.  Also opening in 1940 was a three-story building consisting of twelve apartments, built next to the original Carolina Inn building. That new structure faced South Columbia Street and was named the Bryan Apartment Building honoring Joseph Hunter Bryan, a University trustee from 1809 until 1817.

In October of 1969, the GAA moved into the Bryan Apartment Building (often called the Carolina Apartments) and the facility then became known as Alumni House.  The GAA remained there for twenty-four years until the George Watts Hill Alumni Center opened in March of 1993.


More than a Building . . .

We are funding more than a building, more than a Chapel Hill home for our loyal and dedicated alumni.  We are cementing the bond between Carolina’s sons and daughters and alma mater.  We are expanding alumni involvement and assuring that alumni—the only permanent constituency of the University—will forever have a seat at the table in the important work of our University.

— Ralph N. Strayhorn, UNC Class of 1947,
Chairman, Alumni Center Fund Raising Campaign

As UNC’s General Alumni Association approached its 142nd birthday in mid-May of 1985, it was still in search of a permanent, free-standing center to call home.  During the ‘85 graduation and reunion weekend things were about to change.

Alumni Association President Ralph Strayhorn, during the annual alumni luncheon on May 11th, announced to the gathering of 450 people that the GAA had received the necessary approvals for a new alumni center to be located on South Campus next to the Kenan Center, which was still under construction, and overlooking the still unfinished Student Activity Center.  At last, a three-story 63,000 square foot building could be called home.

One of those necessary approvals was permission to raise the needed $8.5 million to build the center.  That campaign got underway quickly, and in May 1986 the GAA reported that they had received a $3.5 million anonymous challenge-gift, along with a $500,000 donation from the James M. Johnson Trust.  They also announced that Ralph Strayhorn would be heading up the fund raising campaign.

Ralph N. Strayhorn, UNC Class of 1947, was a past chairman of the UNC Board of Trustees, and a past president of The Educational Foundation, Inc.  He was a former president of the North Carolina Bar Association and chief corporate counsel of Wachovia Corporation in Winston-Salem.  Many old-time Tar Heels will remember him as co-captain of the 1946 Carolina Tar Heel football team that played in the 1947 Sugar Bowl, and along with his friend Charlie Justice was honored in a pregame ceremony during the 1997 Sugar Bowl—50 years after that ’47 game. Strayhorn also spoke at the dedication of the Charlie Justice statue in November of 2004.

UNC President Bill Friday, George Watts Hill, Ralph Strayhorn, and UNC Chapel Hill Chancellor Christopher Fordham posed with Hill's presentation check dated October 12, 1986 and an artist's rendering of the alumni center building. (Photograph cropped by blog editor.)

UNC President Bill Friday, George Watts Hill, Ralph Strayhorn, and UNC Chapel Hill Chancellor Christopher Fordham posed with Hill’s presentation check dated October 12, 1986 and an artist’s rendering of the alumni center building. (Photograph cropped by blog editor.)

In July of 1987, Strayhorn announced that fund raising had reached $5.5 million and it was also revealed that the anonymous donor was George Watts Hill, Sr., for whom the building would be named.  On Hill’s urging and with the GAA’s blessing, the site for the new alumni center was moved to Stadium Drive next-door to Kenan Memorial Stadium. Since the new site provided very little parking and was one of the last wooded areas on South Campus, there was some opposition, but the new site was approved.


UPDATE 23 May 2016: by Stephen J. Fletcher

The above photograph by Morton has proved to be an excellent example of how a photograph can be an important primary research document.  I selected the negative from a description in the Morton collection finding aid.  The negative had not been previously scanned, so I added it to the post to enhance the story.  I wrote the caption based upon what I saw in the image, including the date of the presentation check.

Jack Hilliard emailed me after I published the post to say that he had never seen that photograph before, and he pointed out that the date on the check predates the July 1987 date he provided in the paragraph below the photograph.  Jack’s source for the July 1987 date is William D. Snider’s Light on the Hill: A History of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (1992), page 321: “The association launched a fund-raising campaign and by July, 1987 had raised $5.5 million. Simultaneously, George Watts Hill, Sr., member of a family long noted for university benefactions, was revealed as the challenge gift donor.”

I checked Snider’s associated footnote to his text for his sources, which are two news articles published in The Daily Tar Heel on 23 May 1985 and 2 July 1987.  The former makes no mention of Hills’s gift, anonymous or otherwise; the later simply states, “the center will be named in honor of George Watts Hill, who made a challenge gift of $3.5 million to the campaign.”  The article makes no mention of any previous anonymity nor any revelation about when he made the gift.

Based upon Morton’s photograph, Jack subsequently found two new references (the links below lead to material behind a paywall and may not be accessible to all readers):

  • A photograph in The University Report of the North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 33:4 (September 1986), page 2 captioned, “UNC President Emeritus William C. Friday (l) and Chancellor Christopher C. Fordham III (r) announce a $3.5 million anonymous challenge gift . . . . This welcomed report to alumni occurred at the Annual Alumni Luncheon in the Carolina Inn during commencement weekend.”  Checking the 22 May 1986 issue of The Daily Tar Heel revealed that the announcement of the anonymous gift took place on 10 May, with commencement on 11th.
  • A photograph very similar to Morton’s group portrait with Hill’s presentation check, seemingly made during the same event by an uncredited photographer, published in the The University Report of the North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 33:5 (November 1986), page 13.  That photograph’s caption reads, “George Watts Hill ’22 (second from left) presenting a check facsimile for $3.5 million to Ralph N. Strayhorn ’47, chairman of the Alumni Center Campaign, at the annual gathering of past presidents on the Alumni Association of University Day,  Also pictured are President Emeritus William Friday (far left) and Chancellor Christopher Fordham (far right).

This new information seriously calls into question Snider’s choice of the word “simultaneously.”


As contributions rolled in and time went by, the costs for the building increased. By the time the November, 1988 issue of The Alumni Report newspaper came out, the total costs for the facility had risen to $12 million and a Kenan family gift of $250,000 had brought the total monies raised to $10 million.  Two months later, when the January, 1989, issue of the paper hit the streets, the total donations had reached the $11 million mark.

May 13, 1987 groundbreaking ceremony for the George Watts Hill Alumni Center on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus. (L to R): Ralph Strayhorn, fund raising chairman; George Watts Hill; Doug Dibbert, General Alumni Association Executive Director; Robert C. Eubanks, Board of Trustees Chairman; Tom Lambeth, chairman of the area campaigns; Chancellor Emeritus Christopher C. Fordham III; and UNC Chancellor Paul Hardin.

May 13, 1989 groundbreaking ceremony for the George Watts Hill Alumni Center on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus. (L to R): Ralph Strayhorn, fund raising chairman; George Watts Hill; Doug Dibbert, General Alumni Association Executive Director; Robert C. Eubanks, Board of Trustees Chairman; Tom Lambeth, chairman of the area campaigns; Chancellor Emeritus Christopher C. Fordham III; and UNC Chancellor Paul Hardin.

By graduation/reunion weekend ’89, it was time to break ground for the center. The formal groundbreaking ceremony was held on May 13, 1989 featuring remarks by George Watts Hill followed by the groundbreaking with a team of University and alumni leaders doing the honors. Hugh Morton’s photograph of the groundbreaking event shows Ralph Strayhorn, George Watts Hill, Sr., Doug Dibbert, GAA Executive Director, Robert Eubanks, Board of Trustees President, Thomas W. Lambeth, Chairman of the area campaigns, UNC Chancellor Emeritus Christopher C. Fordham, and UNC Chancellor Paul Hardin.

Soon construction got underway, and the fund raising campaign reached its goal: $12.5 million raised with 14,500 alumni and friends contributing.  In the words of campaign committee chairman Strayhorn, “Once we got Mr. Hill’s lead gift for the center, the raising of the money was very—I won’t say easy, but came in very nicely.  Of course, that doesn’t mean we didn’t work very hard for it.”


I will never stop doing all I can for Carolina. —George Watts Hill, Sr., UNC Class of 1922


As the construction work continued, the end was in sight.  Moving-in day looked to be in early 1993 with a graduation/reunion weekend date of May 14th for the dedication ceremony.  Then, in the early morning hours of January 20, 1993, the Tar Heel Nation lost a loving friend and faithful supporter.  George Watts Hill, Sr., UNC Class of 1922, died peacefully in his sleep. He was 91 years old.

“Watts Hill symbolized in his life what the word grace means. And his decency and good will taught us so much we will long remember,” said Dr. William Friday.  UNC Chancellor Paul Hardin added, “We have lost indeed one of the most majestic leaders in the 20th century.”  And GAA Executive Director Douglas Dibbert said, “It was my personal joy to work with him these past several years as together, with the support of many others, we moved the long cherished dream to reality with the construction of the George Watts Hill Alumni Center . . .”  A moment of silence in his honor was observed in the Smith Center before the start of the Carolina–Virginia basketball game on January 20.

UNC Chancellor Paul Hardin speaking to gathering at the dedication of the George Watts Hill Alumni Center on May 14, 1993. Seated on the left are General Alumni Executive Director Doug Dibbert, UNC Class of 1970 and outgoing General Alumni President Elizabeth "Pepper" Dowd, UNC Class of 1953 (photograph cropped by editor).

UNC Chancellor Paul Hardin speaking to gathering at the dedication of the George Watts Hill Alumni Center on May 14, 1993. Seated on the left are General Alumni Executive Director Doug Dibbert, UNC Class of 1970 and outgoing General Alumni President Elizabeth “Pepper” Dowd, UNC Class of 1953 (photograph cropped by editor).

GAA accomplished its planned move into the new Alumni Center in early March. Two months later, on May 14th, hundreds of invited guests, alumni and university friends attended the dedication ceremony held in front of the center’s main entrance.  Among those invited guests, were UNC System President C. D. Spangler; UNC Chancellor Paul Hardin; Anne Hill, widow of George Watts Hill; Frances Hill Fox, George Watts Hill’s sister; and of course Hugh Morton who documented the day’s events with his camera.  Elizabeth “Pepper” Dowd, UNC Class of 1953 and outgoing General Alumni Association president, presided over the ceremony.  Doug Dibbert, UNC Class of 1970 made the formal presentation of the George Watts Hill Alumni Center to the university, accepted on its behalf by Chancellor Paul Hardin.  Frances Hill Fox represented the Hill family with a few remarks. The Clef Hangers, Carolina’s oldest a cappella group, provided the entertainment.  A team of UNC alumni and friends conducted the formal ribbon cutting ceremony: Doug Dibbert; Anne Cates, UNC Class of 1953 and Chairperson of the Alumni Center Building Committee; Pepper Dowd; Anne Hill; Frances Hill Fox; and Chancellor Hardin.


The next time you visit the UNC campus and you find yourself near Carolina’s geographical center on that path between north and south campus, stop for a few seconds and check out the building at 106 Stadium Drive, the one with the entrance tower which bears the carved stone nameplate “George Watts Hill Alumni Center.”  If your schedule permits, go inside . . . you’ll be impressed.  For more history and a description of the building, the GAA website has republished a 1997 article by — Carolyn Edy ’97 (MA) updated in 2003 titled “Welcome to the George Watts Hill Alumni Center.”


An Epilog
On August 30, 1994, a group of about seventy-five GAA employees, friends, and former residents of the Bryan Apartment Building gathered for a good-bye ceremony. The building had served the University for fifty-four years and the GAA for twenty-four. Following a few speeches of remembrance, a giant wrecking ball swung into action and a few days later, the old building was but a memory.  To keep that memory alive, the Public Works Administration plaque from the 1939-1940 additions to the Carolina Inn, which had included the Bryan Apartments, was retrieved, mounted, and given a special place in the new George Watts Hill Alumni Center.

The other half of the hyphen

Newscaster David Brinkley sitting before/after a news conference. The slide mount date is February 1971.

Newscaster David Brinkley sitting before/after a news conference. The slide mount date is February 1971.

On April 24, 1988—twenty-eight years ago this week, Hall of Fame newsman and broadcaster David Brinkley (July 10, 1920 – June 11, 2003) delivered the Reed Sarratt Distinguished Lecture in Hill Hall on the University of North Carolina campus in Chapel Hill.  Brinkley, a native of Wilmington, briefly attended UNC before joining the United States Army in 1940.  In 1988 Brinkley was a commentator for ABC World News Tonight, but many in attendance that evening remembered him from his NBC News days as the “other half of the hyphen” on the Huntley–Brinkley Report from 1956 to 1970.  Morton collection volunteer Jack Hilliard takes a look at the life and times of David Brinkley.


 

People have the illusion that all over the world, all the time, all kinds of fantastic things are happening. When in fact, over most of the world, most of the time, nothing is happening. —David Brinkley


One of my earliest TV memories is watching the evening news on CBS with my family in Asheboro, N. C.  In the years 1951 and ’52 we had a 14-inch black-and-white General Electric model TV set.  The news anchor was Douglas Edwards, but we didn’t know him as an anchor in those days.  He was just the face on the screen.  My dad often said he wished we could get the news on NBC because he had grown up with news on the radio with names like H. V. Kaltenborn, Ben Grauer, Morgan Beatty, and Bill Henry. But there wasn’t an NBC affiliated station in the Triad in those days.  WFMY-TV in Greensboro was the only television station in the Greensboro–High Point–Winston-Salem market.  So CBS was our only choice.

In the summer of 1952 we were able to see the Democratic and Republican parties’ national political conventions from Chicago, and the new face on CBS was a man with a funny last name: Walter Cronkite. Television had been at the 1948 conventions with a limited number of stations, but there weren’t many sets in use back then so that TV presence is nothing more than a historical footnote today.  In ’52 things were different.  Most everyone with a TV set watched the conventions, and the day-to-day happenings in Chicago became water-cooler conversations across the nation.

Then, on September 30, 1953, my dad got his wish—television station WSJS-TV in Winston-Salem, an NBC affiliate, signed on the air.  (The station today is WXII-TV).  Most of my dad’s NBC News favorites were there on The Camel News Caravan with John Cameron Swayze.  In addition, there was also a reporter named David Brinkley.

Brinkley began his television career at NBC in 1951, having worked for United Press starting in 1943 following his military service in the army.  One of Brinkley’s early NBC assignments was to cover President Harry Truman’s trip to Winston-Salem for the groundbreaking ceremony for Wake Forest College. (Hugh Morton attended that ceremony as well and we hope to write a post about the ceremony later this year in October.)

When it came time for the 1956 political conventions, NBC faced a major challenge. Walter Cronkite had set a high mark in ’52, so executives at NBC News looked for a way to compete with Cronkite. Their plan was to put in place two anchors for the broadcast. Originally they considered teaming Bill Henry with Ray Scherer, but the NBC brass ultimately decided on Chet Huntley and David Brinkley.

Chet Huntley and David Brinkley. This unattributed photographic print in the Hugh Morton collection is likely a publicity photograph distributed by NBC. A similar photograph on the NBCUniversal website (submitted by Anonymous) dates the photograph as 1956. See http://www.nbcuniversal.com/content/chet-huntley-and-david-brinkley-gain-national-acclaim-their-election-coverage-and-their)

Chet Huntley and David Brinkley. This unattributed photographic print in the Hugh Morton collection is likely a publicity photograph distributed by NBC. A similar photograph on the NBCUniversal website (submitted by Anonymous) dates the photograph as 1956. See http://www.nbcuniversal.com/content/chet-huntley-and-david-brinkley-gain-national-acclaim-their-election-coverage-and-their.

The double-team worked.  It worked so well, in fact, that on October 29, 1956, the two-man-team took over the NBC evening newscast; thus was born the Huntley-Brinkley Report, with Chet Huntley in New York and David Brinkley in Washington.  Brinkley’s dry wit and Huntley’s serious tone became the newscast to watch. Their catchphrase ending to each night’s broadcast was  “Good night, Chet. Good night David. And Good Night for NBC News”—followed by the second movement of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony as credits rolled.

The tandem proved to be a ratings’ winner.  It was not until the late 1960s that CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite finally caught up in the ratings’ race.  From 1961 until 1963, David Brinkley added a magazine show to his resume called David Brinkley’s Journal.  I remember how frustrated I was as a UNC student in 1961 when the local NBC station in the Triangle chose not to carry the program.  The final Huntley–Brinkley Report aired on July 31, 1970 when Chet Huntley retired from NBC News.

Profile shot of newsman David Brinkley standing in silhouette on the Hilton Hotel Pier on the Cape Fear Waterfront in Wilmington, North Carolina, with the USS North Carolina in background. Morton was instrumental in bringing the mothballed battleship to Wilmington in 1961; Brinkley, a Wilmington native, appeared in public service television spots for fundraising. Morton made this portrait during Wilmington's "David Brinkley Day" on 7 January 1971.

Profile shot of newsman David Brinkley standing in silhouette on the Hilton Hotel Pier on the Cape Fear Waterfront in Wilmington, North Carolina, with the USS North Carolina in background. Morton was instrumental in bringing the mothballed battleship to Wilmington in 1961; Brinkley, a Wilmington native, appeared in public service television spots for fundraising. Morton made this portrait during Wilmington’s “David Brinkley Day” on 7 January 1971.

On January 7, 1971, the city of Wilmington staged a special celebration for its native son, declaring the day “David Brinkley Day.” A Chamber of Commerce committee that included Hugh Morton, Wayne Jackson from WECT-TV, and Allen Jones from WGNI Radio, planned the event. Morton’s job was to prepare a “This is Your Life, David Brinkley” slide show. With help from Al Dickson the executive editor of the Wilmington Star-News, Morton was able to get pictures from Brinkley’s early days in Wilmington when as a high school student he had worked for the paper. Jackson was able to get Chet Huntley to narrate the slide show, which was the hit of the banquet that evening.  Following the slide show, Morton said, “We are pretty certain we saw tears on the cheeks of the usually unemotional David Brinkley, once the light came back on.”

Brinkley continued at NBC News doing anchor work and commentary until 1981 when he left for ABC News.  There Brinkley did commentary for the evening news and added This Week with David Brinkley, a Sunday morning interview program with news analysis. The award-winning Sunday morning program continued until November 10, 1996.

Brinkley wrote three books, including the critically acclaimed 1988 bestseller Washington Goes to War about how World War II transformed the nation’s capital.  The title of his 1995 memoir sums up his career in broadcasting: David Brinkley: 11 Presidents, 4 Wars, 22 Political Conventions, 1 Moon Landing, 3 Assassinations, 2000 Weeks of News and Other Stuff on Television and 18 Years of Growing Up in North Carolina.”

During his career Brinkley won ten Emmy Awards, three George Foster Peabody Awards, and, in 1958, the Alfred I. DuPont Award.  In 1982 he received the Paul White Award for lifetime achievement from the Radio Television Digital News Association. He was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 1988 and the North Carolina Journalism Hall of Fame in 1989.  In 1992 President George H.W. Bush awarded Brinkley the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

On Wednesday, June 11, 2003, David Brinkley died at his home in Houston, Texas from complications after a fall.  He was 82.  Richard Severo, writing in the June 12, 2003 edition of The New York Times began his Brinkley obituary with these words:

David Brinkley, whose pungent news commentaries, delivered with a mixture of wry skepticism and succinct candor, set the standard for network television for generations . . .

Brinkley is buried in the beautiful Oakdale Cemetery in Wilmington, North Carolina.

Epitaph on David Brinkley's gravestone in Oakdale Cemetery, Wilmington, N. C. Photograph by Stephen J. Fletcher, 7 November 2015.

Epitaph on David Brinkley’s gravestone in Oakdale Cemetery, Wilmington, N. C. Photograph by Stephen J. Fletcher, 7 November 2015.

An Epilog
The Reed Sarratt Distinguished Lecture Series brings some of the best and brightest minds in the field of journalism and mass communications to the UNC campus each spring semester to discuss matters of importance and concern. The series was started with two events in 1987 and for its third event, the speaker was David Brinkley.

In addition to his discussion of journalism philosophy and principle, Brinkley shared a humorous story from a time when he was an anchor with NBC News:

Many years ago, when I was doing the Huntley-Brinkley Report, I was in an airport somewhere, and I was approached by a gray-haired lady.  She said, “Are you Chet Huntley?”  I said, “Yes, I am.”  If I had walked up to Abbott and Costello, I’m not sure I would have known which one was which.  The woman in the lobby, still thinking she was addressing Huntley, told me she liked me just fine.  Then she said but I don’t know how you can stand that idiot Brinkley.

Brinkley was a hit that day at his alma mater, and four years later returned to deliver the commencement address on May 10, 1992.

When Carolina’s Roy Williams and Villanova’s Jay Wright were assistants

The anguished facial expression of UNC Head Basketball Coach Dean Smith (second from left) makes you wonder if assistant coach Roy Williams, far left, is doing his happy dance . . . or not . . . during UNC's 1982 East Region Final played at Reynolds Coliseum in Raleigh, North Carolina on March 21, 1982. Others on the UNC bench (L to R) are unknown, #43 Jeb Barlow, Chris Brust, #32 John Brownlee, and Warren Martin. (Hugh Morton photograph, cropped by the author.)

The anguished facial expression of UNC Head Basketball Coach Dean Smith (second from left) makes you wonder if assistant coach Roy Williams, far left, is doing his happy dance . . . or not . . . during UNC’s 1982 East Region Final played at Reynolds Coliseum in Raleigh, North Carolina on March 21, 1982. Others on the UNC bench (L to R) are unknown, #43 Jeb Barlow, Chris Brust, #32 John Brownlee, and Warren Martin. (Hugh Morton photograph, cropped by the author.)

UNC’s ascent to the 1982 NCAA Men’s Basketball National Championship included a confrontation with Villanova in the East Region Final won by the Tar Heels, 70 to 60.  In 1991 the two universities squared off again in the East Region bracket, an 84 to 69 UNC win in the second round, played in the Carrier Dome at Syracuse, New York.  On the sidelines of those two respective games were assistant coaches who will find themselves as helmsmen during tonight’s contest for the 2016 national championship in Houston: UNC’s Roy Williams seen above as assistant to Dean Smith in 1982, and Jay Wright, seen below, as assistant to Rollie Massimino in 1991.  (A similar photograph by Morton can be seen in the online collection.)

Villanova Head Coach Rollie Massimino (left) and Assistant Coach (and current Villanova Head Coach) Jay Wright. Photograph by Hugh Morton, copped by the author. A similar photograph can be seen in the online Morton collection.

Villanova Head Coach Rollie Massimino (left) and Assistant Coach (and current Villanova Head Coach) Jay Wright. Photograph by Hugh Morton, copped by the author. A similar photograph can be seen in the online Morton collection.

In between those two face-offs was Villanova’s victory over UNC for the 1985 Mideast Region Final, won by Villanova 65 to 44 on the Wildcats way to winning the national championship.  At that time Wright was coaching in Division III at the University of Rochester, and Williams was still the assistant coach at UNC.  Hugh Morton photographed that game but only a shot from the UNC locker is in the online collection.

Back in 2009 Jack Hilliard wrote a post titled “UNC vs. Villanova: 1982 and 1985.” when these school faced each other during the opening round of “Final Four” play.  UNC won handily, 83 to 69.  Those who prefer the lighter shade of blue will be rooting for another Tar Heel title tonight.

Back to the future: 1992–1993?

Walking to my office from the bus stop this morning while talking with a fellow bus rider, I wondered if Duke and UNC ever won national titles back-to-back.  Checking the records books (okay, Wikipedia), I learned that the answer is yes!  Duke won the national title in 1991 and 1992, followed by UNC in 1993.

Victorious UNC men's basketball team after the 1993 NCAA championship game. Hugh Morton photograph, cropped by the author.

Victorious UNC men’s basketball team after the 1993 NCAA championship game. Hugh Morton photograph, cropped by the author.

Hugh Morton traveled to Indianapolis in 1991 when both schools reached the Final Four.  UNC lost its national semifinal to Kansas, coached by Roy Williams, 79 to 73.  Morton hung around town and returned for the championship game to witness Duke’s downing of Kansas 72 to 65.

1991 NCAA Men's Basketball Champions Duke Blue Devils celebrating with trophy, in Indianapolis, IN. L to R on podium: #5 Bill McCaffrey, #32 Christian Laettner (background), #33 Grant Hill, Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski, #23 Brian Davis, #12 Thomas Hill, #11 Bobby Hurley, and Clay Buckley (far right). Hugh Morton photograph, cropped by the author.

1991 NCAA Men’s Basketball Champions Duke Blue Devils celebrating with trophy, in Indianapolis, IN. L to R on podium: #5 Bill McCaffrey, #32 Christian Laettner (background), #33 Grant Hill, Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski, #23 Brian Davis, #12 Thomas Hill, #11 Bobby Hurley, and Clay Buckley (far right). Hugh Morton photograph, cropped by the author.

Morton did not make the trek to Minneapolis for Duke’s championship at the 1992 Final Four with UNC’s Southeast Regional loss to Ohio State in Lexington, Kentucky, but he certainly was not going know what it means to miss New Orleans in 1993.  Follow the “1993” link to our story about that game, published in March 2013.

Duke was last years’s national champion.  Will UNC follow in their footsteps this year and make history repeat itself?

 

 

When last they met here

Indiana's Dan Dakich guards UNC's Michael Jordan during the 1984 NCAA East Regional Semifinal in Atlanta, Georgia. Indiana head coach Bob Knight watches the action in the background. In those days UNC wore Converse shoes. (Hugh Morton photograph, cropped by the author.)

Indiana’s Dan Dakich guards UNC’s Michael Jordan during the 1984 NCAA East Regional Semifinal in Atlanta, Georgia. Indiana head coach Bob Knight watches the action in the background. In those days UNC wore Converse shoes. (Hugh Morton photograph, cropped by the author.)

It was his last college game.  An upset that still rankles a quarter-century later, like a large pebble in his Air Jordans.

—Mike Lopresti, sportswriter, March 3, 2009

This coming Friday night, the UNC Tar Heels will face the Indiana Hoosiers’ in the East Regional Semifinal of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  The two schools last met in the East Regional semifinal round thirty-two years ago today on March 22, 1984 in Atlanta, Georgia.  Michael Jordan played his last game as a Tar Heel that day, because the Hoosiers emerged with a 72-68 victory.

According to sportswriter Mike Lopresti, who wrote an article in 2009 titled “After 25 years, Jordan still frustrated by loss to Hoosiers in tourney,” Indiana head coach Bobby Knight made a few strategic changes that led to their upset win over the number one seed UNC: “He ditched his beloved motion offense and spread the floor, to better combat Dean Smith’s trapping defenses . . . and . . . put a blue-collar defender named Dan Dakich on Jordan. Dakich was ordered to deny Jordan the backdoor cut, the post-up and offensive rebounds. Fail at any, and he was on the bench.  Dakich learned of his assignment a few hours before the game. Already ill, he went back to his room and threw up.”

Jordan fouled twice early in the game and it was he who spent unexpected minutes on the bench.  Jordan told Lopresti in an interview: “When I got back in the second half, I felt like I was trying to cram 40 minutes into 20 minutes,” he said. “I could never find any sync in my game.”

A post last week listed all the NCAA basketball tournaments photographed by Hugh Morton.  The list did not include 1984.  Once I heard that these two teams would play against each there once again, I immediately flashed on a photograph I’ve had on my office door for several years until very recently:

Michael Jordan takes a jump shot during the 1984 NCAA East Regional semifinal. (Hugh Morton photograph, cropped by the author.)

Michael Jordan takes a jump shot during the 1984 NCAA East Regional semifinal. (Hugh Morton photograph, cropped by the author.)

I lived in Indiana for fourteen years before moving to North Carolina to work in the North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives, so it was a fitting photograph—my new state rising above my old state.  What stuck in my mind’s eye, though, was the 1984 banner in the lower right corner.  That’s when I knew I could add another tournament to Morton’s list.  Checking the finding aid revealed that he also photographed the opening rounds played in Charlotte.

In the Morton collection there is one roll of 35mm black-and-white film and second roll of color transparencies.  The latter are mostly substandard as Morton missed focused on most of his exposures.  Only one color image is online; the description, however, did not mention that the game was in the NCAA tournament so it did not turn up in my search.

Today we (that is, our scanning technician) scanned the roll of black-and-white negatives and present three of Morton’s better photographs from the game.

Matt Doherty dribbles toward the lane while Indiana forward Mike Giomi defends. Tar Heel guard Buzz Peterson looks on, (Photograph by Hugh Morton, cropped by the author.)

Matt Doherty dribbles toward the lane while Indiana forward Mike Giomi defends. Tar Heel guard Buzz Peterson looks on, (Photograph by Hugh Morton, cropped by the author.)

Who am I? National Governors Conference Executive Committee Members meet with President Dwight D. Eisenhower

This Hugh Morton photograph was likely taken at the White House on March 19, 1958—the day President Dwight Eisenhower met with the National Governors Conference Executive Committee regarding the economy and unemployment.

This Hugh Morton photograph was likely taken at the White House on March 19, 1958—the day President Dwight Eisenhower met with the National Governors Conference Executive Committee regarding the economy and unemployment.

So your NCAA men’s basketball tournament bracket has been shot to pieces by all the upsets and now you are looking for something educational to satisfy your brain’s curiosity?  Well it’s been awhile since we have had a “Who am I?” post, and the photograph above–made by Hugh Morton fifty-eight years ago today on 19 March 1958–presents a good opportunity for a revival.

The photograph above depicts the National Governors Conference Executive Committee meeting with President Dwight D. Eisenhower at the White House. For the occasion Morton shot 120 format roll film, which has twelve exposures per roll; only frame numbers 3, 4, and 7 through 12, however, are extant . . . or at least filed together by Morton as negatives used in the book Making a Difference in North Carolina, which he co-authored with Ed Rankin, Jr.  Clicking on the link in the first sentence of this paragraph will take you to the four images from the eight negatives selected for the online Morton collection.  From there you can click on each of the images and use the zoom tool to get closer looks at their gubernatorial and presidential faces.  In the descriptions for each of those images you will see the following phrase:

Caption in Morton’s book MAKING A DIFFERENCE IN NORTH CAROLINA indicates that the gathering was an 10/1/1957 emergency meeting of Eisenhower and select Southern governors regarding the Little Rock school integration crisis, however, Faubus and Muskie were not in attendance at that meeting.

Those descriptions had stated that the photographs were likely made on March 19, 1958, but did not identify the occasion.  Using newspapers.com, I was able to determine the nature of the meeting from three Associated Press articles—if the revised date is correct—and update the description.

Background to the photograph

The United States experienced a recession between August 1957 and April 1958, referred to by some sources as “The Eisenhower Recession.”  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for 1958 rose to 6.8%, up from 4.3% from the previous year.  It was the highest unemployment rate by far yet to be experienced after World War II.

On March 8th Eisenhower wrote a letter to the Republican minority leaders of the Senate and the House of Representatives concerning measures to aid economic growth.  Eisenhower acknowledged the government needed to take steps to stimulate the economy, but he was “concerned over the sudden upsurge of pump-priming schemes” emerging from Congress.  The president’s letter detailed several actions that his administration had already taken, but it also included the following:

I deeply believe that we must move promptly to meet the needs of those wage earners who have exhausted their unemployment compensation benefits under state laws and have not yet found employment. I have requested the Secretary of Labor to present to me next week a proposal which, without intruding on present state obligations and prerogatives, would extend for a brief period the duration of benefits for these unemployed workers. This would enable eligible unemployed individuals to receive weekly benefits for a longer period than is now permitted under state laws and thus enable them to continue to seek jobs with a greater measure of security. I shall shortly place such a proposal before the Congress.

That letter eventually led to the meeting with the governors.  James Bell wrote one of the three Associated Press articles mentioned above, and it explained the context of the March 19th meeting: Congress was drawing up “job-creating measures while it awaited President Eisenhower’s unemployment compensation measures.”

The second AP article, written without a byline, mainly reported on the press conference held by the governors after the meeting where California Governor Goodwin Knight outlined the president’s proposal.  The article notes that the White House called the governors to the White House, and it contains the names of all the governors in attendance: Luther Hodges of North Carolina, Albert D. Rosellini of Washington, Edmund Muskie of Maine, Orval Faubus of Arkansas, William G. Stratton of Illinois, John E. Davis of North Dakota, and Joseph B Johnson of Vermont.

So the “Who Am I?” question is: who is who in Morton’s photographs?  Some of the people in the descriptions already have names with faces, but others do not.  If you recognize any or can figure them out from other images on the Internet, please leave a comment below.

The third article I uncovered, written by Associated Press News Analyst James Marlow, assessed the meeting.  Some newspapers published an AP photograph along with the article.  Each newspaper wrote its own headline for Marlow’s analysis; The Salinas Journal (Salinas, Kansas) headline, for example, asked, “Was The Conference A Farce?”  Marlow began his article, “In fifteen years in Washington this writer has never seen anything more fouled up than what happened at the White House after President Eisenhower conferred with eight state governors.  It was hard to tell whether a rabbit was being pulled out of the hat, or a rabbit was being put back into a hat.”  When Eisenhower first floated his idea he seemed to be thinking of a grant that didn’t need to be paid back to the federal government, which is how the governors understood it.  Then the administration began talking about it as a loan that states would need to pay back.

Marlow pointed out that all but about six states had adequate unemployment compensation funds to extend the period in which the jobless could could draw upon, and that most states had a maximum of twenty-six weeks, “but they have declined to do so.”  Marlow asked one governor, who chose to remain anonymous, “Since no more than six states might need federal help to extend the jobless pay periods and all the rest have enough money to do it, if they want to why should the government have to hand out money to those other 42?”  The governor responded, ” That is the best question of the day.  And the best answer to it is that the question answers itself.”

On March 21st The Daily Times-News of Burlington, N.C wrote an an editorial titled “Let’s Say a Little Politics Right or Wrong in this Case.”  It characterized Hodges’ impression of the meeting as “a waste of time for all concerned.”  While Hodges agreed that a number of states had unemployment benefit finance troubles, he stated that North Carolina had a reserve fund of $178 million at the time.  The editorial continued, “Governor Hodges is quoted as having said this: ‘I did not think and I do not think now the problem was serious enough to warrant calling the people together and making such a hullabaloo.  My own conviction is that they should have done a lot more checking with the states before making any announcements that the administration planned to offer a proposal to extend unemployment benefits.'”

On June 4th President Eisenhower signed the Unemployment Compensation Act of 1958, which treated federal funds for unemployment compensation, accepted by states that requested them, as loans.

Hugh Morton photographs the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament

Four years ago today, my fellow co-worker Bill Richards passed away while watching the Tar Heels play their “Sweet Sixteen” game against Creighton in the 2012 NCAA tournament.  In addition to being an avid UNC football and basketball fan, Bill was the senior digitization technician in the Carolina Digital Library and Archives.  In 1982 Bill was the Chief Photographer for the Chapel Hill Newspaper.  In 1988, he began working as a photographer and graphic designer in the UNC Office of Sports Information.  He began working in the Library Photographic Services unit in 1998, but continued working for Sports information into the 2000s.  Each year at this time I dedicate a post about UNC basketball to Bill.

Tar Heel Eric Montross lofts a shot as Kansas Jayhawk Greg Ostertag defends during the 1993 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament National Semifinal matchup. Will the Tar Heels and Kansas face one another again in 2016? (Hugh Morton photograph cropped by the author.)

Tar Heel Eric Montross lofts a shot as Kansas Jayhawk Greg Ostertag defends during the 1993 NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament National Semifinal matchup. Will the Tar Heels and Kansas face one another again in 2016? (Hugh Morton photograph cropped by the author.)

By my count, Hugh Morton photographed during seventeen eighteen more than twenty NCAA men’s basketball tournaments—in some years at multiple locations, such as 1991 when Morton traveled to East Rutherford for the East Regional and to Indianapolis for the Final Four.  In last year’s post I counted fourteen, so below is an updated list with several new links to images in the online collection.  Bill Richards would have loved this much detail!  Did I miss any this time around?