At season’s end, a win for Sunny Jim

As a kid growing up in the 1950s, Thanksgiving Day was always special.  In addition to my mom’s great cooking, my dad and I would always watch the Green Bay Packers play the Detroit Lions on CBS.  Thanksgiving 1959, however, was different: it was the first Thanksgiving since my dad had passed away in July of ’59, and there was another football game offered on TV—Carolina versus Duke on NBC.  My dad, UNC Class of ’34, would have loved it.  So today, fifty-eight years later, I would like to look back to Carolina’s 1959 season and a special Thanksgiving Day game.  —Jack Hilliard, UNC Class of 1963

Jim Hickey, probably during the spring of 1960.

Jim Hickey, probably during the spring of 1960.

The telephone rang shortly before 11:00 p.m. in the control room at WFMY-TV in Greensboro on Thursday, July 23, 1959. It was UNC Athletic Director Chuck Erickson calling anchorman Charlie Harville.  Harville rushed from the studio to take the call.  Erickson related the sad news that UNC Head Football Coach Jim Tatum had died about fifteen minutes earlier.  Harville got the details and ran back into the studio.  No time to prepare a script, he gave an emotional report about the passing of his dear friend.  The Tar Heel Nation was in shock.  My dad passed away two days later, on July 25th.

The UNC Athletic Council took only four days to select Tatum’s successor.  At 5:40 p.m. on July 27, 1959, Chancellor William B. Aycock with Athletic Director Charles (Chuck) Erickson at his side, made the announcement that Tatum assistant, 39-year-old James Benton Hickey would be the new Tar Heel coach with a three-year contract.  He would become known as Jim Hickey.  In accepting the position, Hickey told a large group of newsmen gathered at The Pines Restaurant in Chapel Hill, “I appreciate this opportunity. It is one I have always wanted. My only regret is the circumstances under which it had to come about.”

The 1959 UNC football season was fifty-three days away.  The Tar Heels would face nine tough opponents, leading up the forty-sixth meeting between rival Duke for a regular season-ending matchup in Duke Stadium scheduled for Saturday, November 21st.  On July 30th—three days after UNC’s coaching announcement—we got the news that NBC-TV had negotiated a $208,000 arrangement to play a national TV game on Thanksgiving Day, November 26th. The two schools had never played on Thanksgiving.

Carolina’s 1959 season officially got underway on Saturday, September 19th with a two-point home loss to Clemson 20-18. The following weekend came a second loss, this time to Notre Dame in South Bend 28-8.  At this point, Coach Hickey decided to change his game plan.  Up to this point he had followed the game strategy that Coach Tatum had put in place before his death.  Hickey’s plan worked; two home-game-wins followed with victories over NC State 20-12 and South Carolina 19-6.  A road game with Maryland was next.  The Heels played well at College Park, but couldn’t contain Maryland’s “jack-rabbit-backs.” The final score: Terrapins 14, Tar Heels 7.

Starting the second half of the season, Carolina traveled to Winston-Salem for a game with Wake Forest on October 24th. UNC’s quarterback Jack Cummings was able to complete only two passes, but Carolina’s running game was enough for a 21-19 win.  With four games remaining in the ’59 season, Carolina’s record was 3-3 on the year.

The next two games, at home against Tennessee and on the road at Miami, were disastrous for the Heels. Carolina scored a combined fourteen points against the two rivals in the two losses.  Next, Virginia came to Chapel Hill for the 64th meeting between the Tar Heels and the Cavaliers on November 14th.  On this day, Coach Hickey’s charges could do no wrong in handing Virginia its 17th consecutive defeat 41-0.  With photographer Hugh Morton shooting from the sidelines, a small Kenan Stadium crowd of 21,000 saw Carolina set an ACC and Kenan Stadium record of 583 yards of offense.  The win brought Carolina’s record to 4-5 on the season and set the stage for the annual game with Duke.

Duke and Carolina matched up well for their 46th meeting.  Against mutual opponents, Carolina did better against South Carolina than did Duke, but the Blue Devils were stronger against Wake.  Performances of both teams against State and Clemson were about the same.  Both teams had records were 4-5, but Duke was made a 4-to-6-point favorite.

‘Twas the night before Thanksgiving and all through Duke Stadium, thirty technicians scurried like mice to get everything ready for the coast-to-coast telecast—fifteen from NBC and fifteen from AT&T made the deadline.  All was ready to go by 8:00 p.m. on Thanksgiving Eve, eighteen hours before the scheduled 2:00 p.m. kickoff.

UNC versus Duke game day program, courtesy Jack Hilliard.

UNC versus Duke game day program, courtesy Jack Hilliard.

Thanksgiving Day 1959 dawned clear and mild.  In the broadcast booth for the telecast were play-by-play announcer Lindsey Nelson and color commentator Red Grange.  Since both Duke and Carolina students were on holiday, only 33,000 fans turned out for the game.

In his pregame locker room speech, Coach Hickey mentioned something for the first time during the ‘59 season.  He said: “Boys, if there was ever a game Coach Tatum would have wanted you to win, this is it.”

Duke won referee John Donahue’s coin toss and elected to receive.  The Tar Heels would kickoff and defend the south goal.  On the first series, Duke failed to gain a first down and punted to the Carolina 44-yard line.  Carolina moved down the field and scored with seven minutes left in the quarter.  Duke, on its second series, fumbled and Carolina recovered at the Duke 22-yard line.  Again, the Tar Heels couldn’t be stopped; they scored at the 4:55 mark and led 14-0 at the end of the first quarter.

Early in the second quarter, Duke got to the Carolina 11-yard line, but two dropped passes prevented a score.  Carolina took over and marched to a third touchdown to lead 21- 0 at the 13:15 mark of the second quarter.  There seemed to be a pattern forming: Duke couldn’t score and Carolina could.  With 2:55 left in the second quarter the score was 28-0 and would remain so at halftime.

Duke’s Art Browning kicked off to start the second half.  Tar Heel Don Klochak received the ball at the Carolina 7-yard line and he was off to the races for 93 yards.  Carolina led 35-0 with 14:15 left in the third quarter.  The trend continued: another Duke fumble led to another Carolina score at the 2:40 mark in the third making the score 42-0.

With 7:05 left in the game, Tar Heel George Knox, a fullback that Carolina’s Alumni Review called “fifth-string” raced 32-yards down the right sideline for Carolina’s final touchdown. With that TD, the score was 48-0, and Coach Hickey could hear the Tar Heel crowd chanting: “Hickey, go for fifty!” Coach got the message.  Second string quarterback Ray Ferris ran off right tackle for the two points making the score 50-0. It was about two minutes later that Coach Hickey made his famous quote, when one of his players congratulated him on a win.  Coach said, “It isn’t over yet, boys.”

With twenty seconds left in the game and Carolina’s fourth and fifth stringers at the Duke four, Coach Hickey called a timeout. He then sent his eleven seniors back on the field with strict instructions, “Do not score!”  Quarterback Jack Cummings then took the snap, leaned into the line, went down easily, and the clock ran out.

Hugh Morton's post-game photograph as it appeared in the Charlotte News on November 17, 1959. The original negative has not been located in the Morton collection.

Hugh Morton’s post-game photograph as it appeared in the Charlotte News on November 17, 1959. The original negative has not been located in the Morton collection.

The Carolina players rode Coach Hickey on their shoulders to midfield.  Photographer Hugh Morton’s shot of the scene in The Charlotte News (above) is classic.  He had photographed a similar scene many times before with names like Justice, Snavely, and Morris.  Now add Hickey to the list.

When the group arrived at midfield, Duke Head Coach Bill Murray was not in a friendly mood. “You really wanted that last touchdown bad, didn’t you,” Murray snapped, “putting that first bunch back in there.”

“Coach, you’ve got it all wrong,” said Hickey. “I sent my seniors back in there and told them not to score.  . . . I just wanted the seniors to finish their careers on the field.”  The two coaches then shook hands, and Murray turned and walked off the field.  He would later phone Coach Hickey and congratulated him on the win.

A game with a win like this prompted tons of ink and airtime.  The headline in The Daily Tar Heel on December 1st, when the Thanksgiving break was over and the DTH presses began rolling again, said it all in a huge above-the-heading headline: “50–0.”

As is always the case, the Duke–Carolina game brings out special guests, and the ’59 game was no exception.  Peahead Walker, Red O’Quinn and NCAA District 3 Director Jim Corbett were there, among others.  Sis Barrier, wife of Greensboro Daily News Executive Sports Editor Smith Barrier, in a society-type column about the game said, “Hugh Morton, who drove up from Wilmington with two of the boys—and left Julia at home by the TV set, was as happy as anybody.”

About fifteen minutes after the game ended, Coach Hickey was doing his post-game press conference when he was interrupted by a man wearing a Jim Tatum-type hat.  There were tears in his eyes as he said: “I just had to come down and congratulate you, Coach Hickey, for this wonderful victory.  I’m getting tired of all the criticism of you and this should silence them.  And I appreciate it more than you know, for I’m sure this one was won for Jim.”

The man, who then silently made his way back into the crowd, was Dick Tatum of McColl, South Carolina, big brother of the beloved Carolina coach.  Hickey then added: “Yes, I think you can say they won it for Coach Tatum, and why not?  He’s the greatest guy I ever worked for.”

JDF Rides the “Choo Choo”

Diabetes Month is observed every November so individuals, health care professionals, organizations, and communities across the country can bring attention to diabetes and its impact on millions of Americans.  A View to Hugh would like to relate an event from the past that raised about $20,000 for diabetes research while at the same time had some fun at the expense of a Tar Heel sports legend.  But first, a bit of history . . .

In 1970 a group of parents in New York City whose children had Type 1 diabetes founded an organization they called the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, or JDF.  The group was defined by its commitment to research-funding and finding a cure for juvenile diabetes.  In 2012, the Foundation changed its name to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, or JDRF, putting a greater emphasis on the need for research.

No one in the celebrity world came close to doing what actress Mary Tyler Moore accomplished with JDRF.  Her efforts were tireless.  She had but one goal when it came to diabetes: to bring to the attention of the world the battle of diabetes and how important it is to one day cure it.  She attended events, met with elected officials, testified before congress, and was always available to help local JDRF chapters with local fund raising by offering her celebrity.  And that’s exactly how she helped the Charlotte chapter of JDF in 1984 when they staged their fifth annual JDF celebrity roast.  Moore recorded videotape spots for the local television stations to air promoting the importance of supporting the Foundation.

Mary Tyler Moore died at the age of 80 earlier this year on January 25, 2017, but she will always be remembered in Charlotte for what she did to make the JDF Celebrity Roast of Tar Heel football legend Charlie “Choo Choo” Justice a success thirty-three years ago.  Morton collection volunteer Jack Hilliard looks back to Monday, April 30, 1984.

Admission ticket, scan courtesy of Jack Hilliard.

Admission ticket, scan courtesy of Jack Hilliard.

A Prolog
A celebrity roast is an event in which a specific individual, a guest of honor, is subjected to good-natured jokes at their expense and it is intended to amuse the event’s audience and in many cases to raise money for a particular charity. Such events are intended to honor the individual in a unique way. In addition to jokes, such events may also involve genuine praise and tributes. The individual is surrounded by friends, fans, and well-wishers, who can receive some of the same good natured treatment as well during the course of the evening.

♦ ♦ ♦

Charles Justice has contributed his fame to hundreds of drives and worthy causes and has generally and consistently served as a wholesome example to impressionable youth.

—Hugh Morton, May, 2000

In early January 1984, it had been almost thirty years since Charlie Justice played his final football game with the Washington Redskins and almost thirty-four since he played his final varsity game with the Tar Heels.  Nonetheless, when the Charlotte Chapter of the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation approached him about being the honored guest at the Fifth Annual JDF Celebrity Roast, Charlie’s reply was yes, “these things are for a great cause and I enjoy them.” Charlie had been guest of honor for two other celebrity gatherings, one in Greensboro on October 29, 1980 called “Dinner of Champions,” sponsored by the Central North Carolina Chapter of the Multiple Sclerosis Society, and one in his native Asheville on January 27, 1984 sponsored by the Western Carolina Children’s Foundation.

Justice was in great company at the fifth annual event.  The four who preceded Justice were Clyde McLean of WBTV in 1979, Kays Gary of The Charlotte Observer in 1980, Eddie Knox, former Charlotte mayor in 1982, and famed basketball player and coach Horace “Bones” McKinney in 1983.

If you didn’t know better, you might think this was a UNC reunion. The event’s Honorary Chairman was Johnny Harris, UNC Class of 1969.  Two other Tar Heels who worked behind the scenes were Erskine Bowles ’67 and Ray Farris ’62.  Tar Heel roasters included newspaper publisher Orville Campbell ’42; Woody Durham, Voice of the Tar Heels, ’63; UNC President Dr. William Friday, ’48; and UNC All-America football star and Justice’s classmate Art Weiner, ’50.

Dignitaries featured during the Fifth Annual JDF Roast: (back row, left to right): Bill Hensley, Orville Campbell, Bill Friday; (front row, left to right): Woody Durham, Art Weiner, Charlie Justice, John "Buck" Fraley. Photograph by Hugh Morton, cropped by the editor.

Dignitaries featured during the Fifth Annual JDF Roast: (back row, left to right): Bill Hensley, Orville Campbell, Bill Friday; (front row, left to right): Woody Durham, Art Weiner, Charlie Justice, John “Buck” Fraley. Photograph by Hugh Morton, cropped by the editor.

With Master of Ceremonies Bill Hensley in control (sort of), the “roasting” fun began.  Charlie was ushered into the Sheraton Center with the singing of “All The Way Choo Choo” to the delight of the 450 guests. The singing was led by Charlie’s daughter Barbara Crews.

Roaster: Orville Campbell

Chapel Hill newspaper publisher and the man responsible for recording “All The Way Choo Choo,”  Orville Campbell then stepped up to the mic.  “We always liked to take our songs over to Mr. W. D. Carmichael, then acting University President, and get his opinion.  So when Hank Beebe and I finished All The Way Choo Choo, I went over to Carmichael’s office.  He was extremely busy that day, but I went in anyway.  His desk was covered with papers and he didn’t even look up.

“What do you want, Orville?” said Carmichael.

“I just wanted to know if you had heard our last song.”

“I hope the h— I have,” was Carmichael’s reply.

“Back in 1958,” Campbell continued, “I published a book which was written by Bob Quincy and Julian Scheer called Choo Choo: The Charlie Justice Story.  We still have a warehouse full of those books over in Chapel Hill and I brought a few of them over here tonight to see if anybody here would pay $25 for a copy and if so, we’ll donate that money to JDF.  And after we’re finished here, we’ll lock the door so Charlie can’t get away and have him sign ‘em.”

Campbell, who had been Charlie’s friend and fan since he arrived in Chapel Hill in 1946, then took out a letter that UNC Head Football Coach Carl Snavely supposedly wrote to Justice following that famous 1948 Texas game in Chapel Hill.

“In discussing your touchdown pass to Art Weiner, Charlie, Coach Snavely reminded you that, ‘Your wobbly pass to Art Weiner would have never been caught except that Art made a great catch and Texas had a poor pass defense.’”

Campbell then put on a number 22 college all-star jersey and modeled it for the crowd. Justice had donated the jersey to be auctioned with money going to JDF.  The jersey went for $1,000.

Roaster: Woody Durham

Next up was “The Voice” of Tar Heel football and basketball, Woody Durham.  Woody told the story of how Justice had decided to go to the University of South Carolina, when his brother Jack talked him out of it and convinced him he should go to UNC.  Durham then turned to Charlotte JDF Chapter President Cassie Phillipi and asked, “Cassie, how much money do you think we could raise if we were holding this gathering in Columbia tonight?”  Then Durham said he wanted to relate a recent story from his visit to Atlanta and added, “This is the only story I’ll tell from that Atlanta trip . . . I promise.”

“I was in Atlanta covering Dean Smith’s 1984 Tar Heels in the NCAA Tournament. The morning of the game, I was in the hotel room preparing for that night’s radio broadcast. The TV set was on but the sound was turned down real low and I wasn’t paying any attention to it. Then something caught my attention. The CBS program The Price is Right host Bob Barker had introduced a contestant form North Carolina. Then Barker said, ‘Who was the great All America football player from North Carolina back in the 1940s?’  Immediately someone in the audience shouted out, “Choo Choo.”  Barker quickly added, That’s right, Choo Choo Charlie Justice.’”

“Folks it’s been 35 years since Charlie played for Carolina, but his name is still magic.”

Roaster: Bill Friday

Up next . . . University of North Carolina President Dr. William Friday spoke of “the rightness of all he symbolizes in American Sports.”

“When thirty years pass, a haze often settles over memory but not the recollections of Charlie Justice on the football field.  He could do it all and he did. . . . All of the adulations and publicity never increased his hat size.  An unassuming and cheerful manner always has characterized this man of extraordinary gifts.  He has been greatly blessed in another way, he has Sarah.”

Woody Durham, John "Buck" Fraley, and Sarah and Charlie Justice during the evening's festivities. Photograph by Hugh Morton.

Woody Durham, John “Buck” Fraley, and Sarah and Charlie Justice during the evening’s festivities. Photograph by Hugh Morton.

The 52-page souvenir program book for the 5th Annual JDF Roast is, in reality, a Charlie Justice scrapbook with dozens of Hugh Morton photographs included.  The book was designed by George Van Allen of G.V.A. Associates and the Justice cover-caricature was done by Gene Payne of The Charlotte Observer.  Charlie must have approved of the caricature; there was a huge version of it on the wall of his Cherryville office.  Also included in the book is a beautifully written Justice profile by Observer columnist Ron Green.

Roaster: John Fraley

John L. “Buck” Fraley, President and Chief Operating Officer of Carolina Freight, was next up.  Fraley’s company was a prime client of the Justice-Crews Insurance Company in Cherryville and had been so for many years. Fraley, a NC State graduate, talked about Charlie’s brief 1964 venture into politics. Also in the audience was Ken Younger who would take Fraley’s place with the company in 1985 following Fraley’s retirement. And if memory serves me correctly, it was Younger who bought the Justice All-Star jersey and then presented it to Charlie’s daughter Barbara. And by the way, Ken Younger, is a 1949 Duke graduate, who played football against Charlie and the Tar Heels.

Roaster: Art Wiener

Hugh Morton and the Charlotte JDF Chapter had prepared several large Charlie Justice action pictures and offered them for sale—the profits, of course, going to the Diabetes Foundation.  So when Justice’s friend, teammate, and business partner Art Weiner stepped up to speak, he commented on the pictures.

“Did you ever wonder why there are so many fantastic Hugh Morton action pictures of Charlie Justice?  Well, Hugh Morton was a world class, fantastic photographer, but there is another reason.  We had one member on our team who never touched the ball . . . never made a tackle . . . never threw a block.  His only purpose in life was to let Charlie Justice know where Hugh Morton was on the sidelines.”

“Where do you suppose he had his first heart attack? At halftime at the Carolina-Pitt game a few years back. They were carrying him out on a stretcher and everybody was looking and there was Charlie, waving to the crowd.”

Weiner then looked over at Orville Campbell.  “I didn’t know the ball was supposed to spiral until I got into pro ball. Charlie always threw it end-over-end.”

“I lived beside Charlie for four years and he got new Cadilacs all four years.  There was always trucks backing up to his door and unloading things.”

“My scholarship was a piece of wood with a nail on it, and I was told that I could keep anything that blew across my yard.”

When the laughter died down, Weiner got serious.

“I can honestly say Charlie Justice is not only the best friend I ever had, but in my opinion he is greatest athlete North Carolina ever had.”

Charlie Justice

When Justice finally got to the mic, he denied all, then thanked all for attending, and poked a little bit of fun at his “roasters,” telling his dear friend Art Weiner, “at least you had a scholarship at Carolina. . . I didn’t even have a one. . . Sarah had the scholarship in our family.  And as for those four Cadilacs you mentioned . . . was really one ’48 Chevy.”  He then related the importance of the fund-raising for diabetes research.  At the end of the evening’s festivities, more than $20,000 had been raised for that research.

♦ ♦ ♦

Ron Green, writing in the May 2, 1984 edition of The Charlotte Observer under the headline “Highest Praise To Choo Choo,” said, “They came not to praise Charlie Choo Choo Justice but to roast him. They did both Monday night at the Sheraton Center. . .  Others of his era are yellowed memories now, but Justice shines on, brightly, like a star . . . the long, rambling touchdown runs . . . the winning passes . . . the record-setting punts that took North Carolina out of danger.  Almost campy.  Almost as if he were playing himself in the lead role of a low budget movie with the title ‘Justice Rides Again.’  So good. So right.”

♦ ♦ ♦

WFMY-TV in Greensboro recorded the JDF roast in Charlotte on videotape for filmmaker David Solomon, the President of David Solomon Productions in Winston-Salem.  Portions of the roast appear in Solomon’s Sports Extra TV production of All The Way Choo Choo.  I had the honor of directing and editing the program, along with Larry Fitzgerald, the late WFMY-TV photojournalist.  North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame Broadcaster Charlie Harville narrated the program.  And once again, Charlie Justice’s popularity across the entire state was shown when the TV documentary was sponsored by “Goody’s” of Winston-Salem.  The President of Goody’s, Duke University Class of 1949 football player Tom Chambers, was an opponent of Justice’s during their college days.  In addition to the “Goody’s” commercials, the program also included JDF-Mary Tyler Moore public service announcements.

♦ ♦ ♦

In closing, I would like to revisit words from Bill Friday:

“(Charlie Justice) is loyal. He has been on call when his alma mater needed him. He has lent his name in time and talent to a host of worthy causes since his jersey went into the trophy case.”

“He has shown in his personal life the same quality of courage and determination he exhibited in athletics. Charlie Justice was voted All-American for his exploits on those memorable Saturdays of another era.”

“I want to say, Charlie, that in the eyes of your legions of friends today, you are an All-American every day of the week.”

The Heels vs. The Irish: A dominating past

Cover of the 1960 UNC versus Notre Dame football game program, from the author's collection.

Cover of the 1960 UNC versus Notre Dame football game program, from the author’s collection.

On Saturday, October 7, 2017, a very special event will take place in UNC’s Kenan Memorial Stadium. The Tar Heels will meet the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame. The game will mark the seventh meeting between the two in Kenan and the twentieth meeting overall. While the Irish have dominated the series, a Carolina–Notre Dame game will always be something special. Morton collection volunteer/contributor Jack Hilliard takes a look at some storied past meetings between these two great universities.

The love that people have for Notre Dame can’t be explained.

—Lou Holtz, Notre Dame head football coach 1986- 1996.

Growing up in North Carolina during the late 1940s and early 1950s, football Saturdays were special. There was Duke and State and Wake and Carolina, and we followed their every game.  But there was always news in the papers and on the radio about Notre Dame; they seemed to always be a step ahead of our “Big Four.”  Maybe it was because they seemed to always win. (Following a loss on December 1, 1945 to Great Lakes Navy, the Fighting Irish didn’t lose again until Purdue beat them on October 7, 1950.)

So it’s easy to imagine our excitement when we heard that Notre Dame would play Carolina on November 12th, 1949 in New York’s Yankee Stadium.  In three previous blog posts, we have recounted that game on A View to Hugh and sister blog North Carolina Miscellany:

In those posts we noted Hugh Morton’s classic images from that day, even though it turned out to be the worst loss the Tar Heels would suffer during the “Charlie Justice Era.”  The reason for the disaster was likely that Justice wasn’t able to play due to an injury he suffered the week before the big game in the Big Apple.  But even without Justice, the game was special. The Daily Tar Heel published two air editions and flew them to New York. The headline in that first edition will always be remembered by Tar Heels who made the trip:

“Notre Dame And N.C. Tied 6-6 At Half.”

The second meeting between the two came less than a year later on September 30, 1950. . . . this time in South Bend, Indiana.  This game will forever be remembered, not for Notre Dame’s 14 to 7 win, but the fact that it was the first live network television program of any kind ever transmitted into North Carolina.  The ’49 game in NYC had been televised, but the signal did not reach North Carolina.  But on this day, WBTV in Charlotte and WFMY-TV in Greensboro carried the game live across the Tar Heel state via the Dumont Television Network.  The Greensboro Daily News reported that the estimated viewership in North Carolina was 200,000—nationwide it was 35 million.

Hugh Morton didn’t make the trip to South Bend in 1950, but was on hand back in Chapel Hill when the Irish made their first trip to Kenan on November 17, 1951.  Editor’s note: most of Hugh Morton’s football negatives from the 1950s and 1960s are not identified, but Morton’s game credential survives.  As negatives are identified in the future, we will add a selection of them to this post.

Carolina Sports Information Director Jake Wade, writing in the ’51 game day program called Notre Dame “the mighty and fabulous men from Indiana.”  A full house of 44,500 football fans sat in cold, clear weather “amid Chapel Hill’s wonderland of fall colors,” as The Alumni Review reported. Those fans saw the Tar Heels put on a fourth quarter drive which fell three yards short of victory. Connie Gravitt’s fourth down pass into the end zone was batted down by Notre Dame’s Gene Carrabine, preserving the 12-to-7 Irish victory.

On October 25, 1952 head coach Carl Snavely and his Tar Heels returned to Notre Dame Stadium for the fourth meeting between the Heels and the Irish. 54,338 fans (most of them dressed in green and gold) saw a 7-to-7 tie at the end of the first quarter, but the Heels eventual fell 34 to 14.

Notre Dame head football coach Frank Leahy.

Notre Dame head football coach Frank Leahy.

When Notre Dame returned to Chapel Hill on November 14, 1953 for its second visit, Carl Snavely had moved on and the Heels were coached by George Barclay.  When this one ended, that familiar 34-to-14 score appeared on the scoreboard.  The 1953 game would be Notre Dame’s College Football Hall of Fame coach Frank Leahy’s fifth and final win against the Tar Heels.  At this point in the series, the two teams had met on five occasions with the Irish winning all five. Two games in Chapel Hill, two games in South Bend, and one in New York—with a total audience of 265,000.

The Charlotte News published this photograph tightly cropped on the runner and soon-to-be tackler with the caption, 'KEN KELLER . . . gains 12 for UNC against Notre Dame (Hugh Morton Photo.)"

The Charlotte News published this photograph tightly cropped on the runner and soon-to-be tackler with the caption, ‘KEN KELLER . . . gains 12 for UNC against Notre Dame (Hugh Morton Photo.)”

The week before the 1954 game, Notre Dame was made a 26-point favorite and when it ended they had a 29-point victory, 42 to 13.  The game on November 12, 1955 in Kenan Stadium is often compared to that first meeting between the Heels and the Irish played in New York.  The ’55 game was tied at half 7 to 7, but Notre Dame dominated the second half to win the game 27 to 7. Seated among the 33,000 in Kenan that afternoon was Tar Heel football legend Charlie Justice with his son Ronnie, and on the sideline in his usual spot was photographer Hugh Morton.

Another Morton photograph, cropped on the runner and two pursuers, published by The Charlotte News, and captioned "WHILE THE MOMENTS WERE STILL GLORIOUS North Carolina's Ed Sutton gains 11 yards to the Notre Dame six-yard line in the second quarter before being hauled down by Paul Nornung (5) closing in." Fans of the era will quickly recognize that typo because he is Paul Hornung, the 1956 Heisman Trophy winner and later NFL Hall of Fame star for the Green Bay Packers.

Another Morton photograph, cropped on the runner and two Notre pursuers, published by The Charlotte News with the caption, “WHILE THE MOMENTS WERE STILL GLORIOUS North Carolina’s Ed Sutton gains 11 yards to the Notre Dame six-yard line in the second quarter before being hauled down by Paul Nornung (5) closing in.” Fans of the era will quickly recognize that typo because he is Paul Hornung, the 1956 Heisman Trophy winner and later NFL Hall of Fame star for the Green Bay Packers.

The game on November 17, 1956 back in South Bend marked the end of the first series of contracted games between Carolina and Notre Dame, and the first game under new Tar Heel head coach Jim Tatum.  56,793 fans saw a thriller as the game was tied with seventy-seven seconds to play, but Notre Dame took the lead as 1956 Heisman Trophy winner Paul Hornung scored the winning touchdown.  Notre Dame’s eighth win made the series look like an all-Irish sweepstakes with an aggregate attendance of more than 410,000.

In 1958, the series returned with two more games in South Bend and two more Irish wins: 34 to 24 in ’58 and 28 to 8 in ’59.  In that game on September 26, 1959, Nortre Dame held Carolina, under new head coach Jim Hickey, scoreless for three quarters.

Coming into Chapel Hill on October 8, 1960, Notre Dame had won all ten of the previous meetings, but on this day things were about to change. Homecoming in Chapel Hill is always fun, but on this day it was more fun than usual, as coed Jane Allen from Lambert, Mississippi was crowned Homecoming Queen, to the delight of 41,000 fans, mostly Tar Heels. The cheering crowd saw Carolina lead Notre Dame 12 to 0 well into the fourth quarter, thanks to the efforts of junior-quarterback Ray Ferris, who completed 6 passes for 115 yards and a first quarter TD pass to Skip Clement. Notre Dame completed 8 passes of 32 attempts and the Heels interested 5 of them.  With the score 12 to 7, the final gun sounded and coach Jim Hickey got a ride on the shoulders of his team to midfield for a handshake with Notre Dame head coach Joe Kuharich.

In his post game interview, coach Hickey was asked how it felt to be the only UNC head coach to beat a Notre Dame team.  “It would feel good to beat them anytime, anywhere,” Hickey said with a wide grin.

Fifteen seasons would pass before Notre Dame returned to Chapel Hill.  During that span the two teams would meet four times in South Bend, ’62, ’65, ’66, and ’71—and Carolina would have only seven points to show for all four efforts: a 21-to-7 loss on November 17, 1962, while Notre Dame tallied three straight shutouts in ’65, ’66, and ’71.

Notre Dame’s return to Chapel Hill on October 11, 1975 proved to be one of the most exciting games of the series. After a scoreless first half, the Tar Heels took the lead at the 10:03 mark of the third quarter on Mike Voight’s 12-yard run. On their next possession, Quarterback Billy Paschall hit Mel Collins with a 39-yard touchdown pass to make the lead 14 to 0, and that lead continued well into the final quarter. With six minutes left in the game, Notre Dame head coach Dan Devine called on his second string quarterback . . . a fellow named Joe Montana, who led the Irish on two quick scoring drives to tie the score at fourteen.  Then with less than two minutes to play, Carolina had an opportunity to take the lead, but missed its third field goal of the day and the Irish took over at their own 20 yard line.  On second down, Montana hit Tom Burgmeier on a spectacular 80-yard scoring play that spelled defeat for the Tar Heels.

In the Carolina locker room following the game, UNC head coach Bill Dooley said, “To have a team like Notre Dame down 14 to 0 in the fourth quarter and then lose is really tough.”  Notre Dame coach Dan Devine called it his “best win ever.”

During the 1975 season, the Tar Heel Sports Network invited former players to be game analysts to assist play-by-play Hall of Fame broadcaster Woody Durham.  For the ’75 Notre Dame game the guest was UNC All-America end Art Weiner, who played a key role in the first meeting between the Heels and the Irish back in 1949.

Thirty-one years would pass before Carolina and Notre Dame would meet again.  On November 4, 2006 it was yet another blowout Irish victory, this time, 45 to 26.  Two years later, Notre Dame would make its most recent visit to Kenan on October 11, 2008.  Carolina’s 29-to-24 win has one of those dreaded asterisks in the record book.  An NCAA ruling in 2011 vacated that win.  Six years later to the day, on October 11, 2014, Carolina made its most recent visit to South Bend.  Alas, the Heels came away with yet another loss, this time 50 to 43 in a game that set a total points record for the series.

So, on Saturday, October 7th, head coach Larry Fedora’s Tar Heels will try once again to take down the Fighting Irish, but win or lose, there will be a certain excitement in the air in Kenan Memorial Stadium.  Saturday’s game will also be featured on ABC/ESPN, with the opening kickoff scheduled for 3:30.  After the game it will be five more years until Carolina and Notre Dame are next scheduled to play in South Bend in 2021, with a return match in Chapel Hill in 2022.

Photographs by Hugh Morton: An Uncommon Retrospective on exhibit in Wilmington

MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR HOLOCAUST — The costliest fire in Wilmington's history—the Great Fire of Sunday, Feb. 21, 1886, devastated an estimated $1 million in property—was variously estimated last night to have consumed, in flames and smoke, from $10 to $30 millions worth of property. [sic] The fire started at 8:55 A.M. By 10 A.M., when this picture was made from a plane, smoke billowed thousands of feet into the air and could be seen from at least 25 miles away. The ship in the foreground is the Norwegian freighter Max Manus, which was towed from the docks when the fire started. . . . Photo by Morton.

This dramatic photograph of the 1953 Wilmington Terminal Company fire is one of more than eighty photographs by Hugh Morton now on exhibition at the Cape Fear Museum in Wilmington, North Carolina.

Ever since the debut in September 2013 of the Hugh Morton retrospective at the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts at Appalachian State University in Boone near Grandfather Mountain, it has been a burning desire of mine to have the exhibition on display in Wilmington, North Carolina—Hugh Morton’s hometown.  I am happy to say that the exhibition is now open at the Cape Fear Museum in Wilmington though September of next year.  This is the exhibition’s seventh installation in four years, a true testimony to the wide appeal of Hugh Morton’s photography.  Have you seen the exhibition, either in Wilmington or a previous venue?  If so, please let us know in a comment below if you have a favorite photograph in the show—and why!

A Benny Goodman mystery . . . that leads to two more Morton mysteries

The post “A Benny Goodman Score” on June 3, 2017 brought back some fond memories for our volunteer contributor Jack Hilliard.  As we prepare for tomorrow’s annual Carolina–Duke game, Jack shares a childhood memory of a Benny Goodman mystery that began sixty-eight football seasons ago . . . and that led to a couple other Morton mysteries . . .

ONE SONG LEADS TO ANOTHER—Charlie Justice (left) stands next to Orville Campbell beside a piano at an unknown event. The State published a tightly cropped headshot of these two gentlemen in its September 15, 1951 issue of the magazine. The photograph accompanied an article titled "Yankeeland Hears 'It'" about Campbell and Hank Beebe's song, "Way Up in Carolina." The caption in The State reads, "Charlie Justice, subject of Orville Campbell's first popular song, "All the Way Choo-Choo." Charlie owned a piece of that song, but didn't make any money. (Morton Photo)" Another mystery, however, appeared when viewing the full negative, which has no accompanying information. Is that Hank Beebe on piano? We believe so. The occasion? Still unknown.

ONE SONG LEADS TO ANOTHER—Charlie Justice (left) stands next to Orville Campbell beside a piano at an unknown event. The State published a tightly cropped headshot of these two gentlemen in its September 15, 1951 issue of the magazine. The photograph accompanied an article titled “Yankeeland Hears ‘It'” about Campbell and Hank Beebe’s song, “Way Up in Carolina.” The caption in The State reads, “Charlie Justice, subject of Orville Campbell’s first popular song, “All the Way Choo-Choo.” Charlie owned a piece of that song, but didn’t make any money. (Morton Photo)” Another mystery, however, appeared when viewing the full negative, which has no accompanying information. Is that Hank Beebe on piano? We believe so. The occasion? Still unknown.

In late spring of 1949, I remember reading in one of the Greensboro newspapers that Chapel Hill publisher Orville Campbell and UNC music student Hank Bebee had written and recorded a song called “All the Way Choo Choo,” a song about my boyhood football hero Charlie Justice.  The recording featured a UNC student group, the Sigma Chi Sextet.  Campbell also published the sheet music through his publishing company, Colonial Press.

Over the next five months, Campbell and Bebee campaigned the major record labels trying to get the song recorded for greater distribution. In the September 17, 1949 issue of the Greensboro Daily News, Sports Editor Smith Barrier called it “the football song of the season.”  Ed Danforth of the Atlanta Journal and Shirley Povich of the Washington Post, during trips to Chapel Hill also commented. Said Danforth: “Greatest college football song since ‘The Ramblin’ Wreck of Georgia Tech,’” and Povich added, “It can’t miss.  It’ll go all the way.”  Povich added the story in his “Post” column on Sunday, September 18, 1949.

In Greensboro, leading up to WFMY-TV’s official sign-on as North Carolina’s second TV station, which was September 22, 1949, the station presented a special one-hour variety show and the Sigma Chi Sextet group from UNC sang “All the Way Choo Choo.”

UNC student newspaper, The Daily Tar Heel, in its September 22nd edition had this:

Heard the fast-circulating Orville Campbell-Hank Beebe hit “All the Way Choo Choo”?  Benny Goodman is definitely scheduled to do a recording of it that should be on sale nationally in approximately two weeks.

Those attending the UNC vs. NC State game in Kenan Stadium on September 24th, 1949 heard the song over the public address system and could also read in their Daily Tar Heel that morning about the Campbell-Goodman progress for the recording:

Orville Campbell, Carrboro publisher turned song-writer received a bit of news a few days back that has made him all smiles.  A note penned from an executive of Capitol Records informed the likeable Colonial Press head that Benny Goodman and his orchestra has signed to record “All the Way Choo Choo.” Veteran musicians rate the Campbell-Hank Beebe ditty as a good bet to catch on all over the nation, and the Goodman waxing will make the Carolina Choo Choo one of the first if not the only grid star to be honored in such a manner.”

The next day, the “DTH” added this:

Alumnus Orville Campbell, still a wheel about campus, has been conducting his own promotion campaign, and apparently is enjoying great success in his efforts to make the song “All the Way Choo Choo” popular.  Campbell has succeeded to the extent that Benny Goodman has made a recording of it.  Also a local version was in evidence at a number of beach juke boxes this summer.  The ditty, with music by the talented Hank Beebe, was sung two or three times at this weekend’s pep rally.  The song is good, and the more one hears it, the better he likes it.

When the magazine Life ran a cover-story about Justice in the October 3, 1949 issue, the editors included a picture of Orville Campbell’s “All the Way Choo Choo” sheet music.  Life captioned the picture “Lyrical Choo Choo.”

Two days later, there was in the October 5, 1949 issue of The Sporting News another article about the song by Smith Barrier with the headline. “All the Way Choo Choo Inspires King of Swing.”  Barrier added: “When Benny Goodman, the orchestra leader, heard ‘All the Way Choo Choo,’ he hurried to New York to make a recording.”

Goodman had performed in concert at the ORD Arena (Overseas Replacement Depot, from Basic Training Camp 10 during World War II) in Greensboro on September 16th, 1949 and Orville Campbell was in the audience. Following the show, Campbell played the song for Goodman . . . and Benny liked it.

I haven’t found any evidence that Hugh Morton was at that 1949 Greensboro concert but when Goodman came to Raleigh four years earlier in 1945, Morton was there.

A SECOND MYSTERY—Benny Goodman, front and center, playing clarinet as captured in Hugh Morton's unidentified negative (the top portion of the image is cropped here). Morton mentions in his 1988 book Making a Difference in North Carolina that he went to a Goodman concert in Raleigh. This previously unscanned negative has a WRAL banner displayed on stage (lower left). Piecing together clues from the sheet music on Goodman's music stand in this and three other negatives, coupled with Goodman's touring history and list of band members, unlocks part of the mystery. That's Red Norvo at the vibraphone behind Goodman.

A SECOND MYSTERY—Benny Goodman, front and center, playing clarinet as captured in Hugh Morton’s unidentified negative (the top portion of the image is cropped here). Morton mentions in his 1988 book Making a Difference in North Carolina that he went to a Goodman concert in Raleigh. This previously unscanned negative has a WRAL banner displayed on stage (lower left). Piecing together clues from the sheet music on Goodman’s music stand in this and three other negatives, coupled with Goodman’s touring history and list of band members, unlocks part of the mystery. That’s Red Norvo at the vibraphone behind Goodman.

Morton was also on hand when Goodman played in Wilmington on February 23, 1983, and when Benny came back to Greensboro in early May, 1979 to play a concert with the Greensboro Symphony, Hugh Morton was on hand to photograph Goodman back stage and during his performance on May 3, 1979.  That Greensboro Concert was recorded by CBS-TV for a special telecast on May 30, 1979 to pay tribute to Goodman on his 70th birthday.

The exact date of Goodman's Raleigh performance is yet to be determined, but it's probably during the summer or fall of 1945. The sheet music on the music stand provides the best clue. On the left is Goodman's signature opening song, "Let's Dance" from the mid 1930s, but on the right is "I Wish I Knew." That song, with lyrics by Harry Warren and music by Mack Gordon, debuted in the movie "Diamond Horseshoe" released in May 1945. The song does not appear on any playlists available to the editor, but its history can be reviewed on the webpage https://songbook1.wordpress.com/fx/1945-standards/i-wish-i-knew/. Red Norvo (seen in the photograph above this one) left the Goodman band for good in January 1946.

The exact date of Goodman’s Raleigh performance is yet to be determined, but it’s probably during the summer or fall of 1945. The sheet music on the music stand provides the best clue. On the left is Goodman’s signature opening song, “Let’s Dance” from the mid 1930s, but on the right is “I Wish I Knew.” That song, with lyrics by Harry Warren and music by Mack Gordon, debuted in the movie “Diamond Horseshoe” released in May 1945. The song does not appear on any playlists available to the editor, but its history can be reviewed on the webpage https://songbook1.wordpress.com/fx/1945-standards/i-wish-i-knew/. Red Norvo (seen in the photograph above this one) left the Goodman band for good in January 1946.

Following Goodman’s 1949 Greensboro performance and the Daily Tar Heel reports, we waited for the news when the Benny Goodman Capitol recording of “All the Way Choo Choo” would be released.  The week before the Carolina–Duke game on November 19th came the news that the recording would go on sale on November 23rd . . . but the recording released was a 10-inch King record (15030) by band leader Johnny Long—a Duke alumnus of all things.  What happened to the Benny Goodman recording?  Don Maynard’s Daily Tar Heel story about the release on November 23rd, said: “The recording would be available at Ab’s Bookstore and the Carolina Sports Shop.  Maynard added, “Benny Goodman made the first recording of the tune on a Capitol recording, but to date the number has not been released by the Capitol Recording Company.”

From the Daily Tar Heel, November 23, 1949, page 1.

From the Daily Tar Heel, November 23, 1949, page 1.

The Maynard article was supported by a photograph of Johnny Long presenting Justice with the first copy of the recording.  The picture was taken by student photographer Jim Mills, a Hugh Morton contemporary, and was included with the record purchase.  Long had paid a visit to Chapel Hill on November 13, 1949 and made the presentation.

"All the Way Choo Choo" record label, from the album in North Carolina Collection.

“All the Way Choo Choo” record label, from the album in North Carolina Collection.

Johnny Long was from Newell, North Carolina and attended Duke from 1931 until 1935.  He had played a concert on the Duke campus the weekend of October 28-29, 1949.  That’s likely when Campbell played the song for him.

As time went by, we loved and listened to the Johnny Long version, which featured vocals by Janet Brace, the Johnny Long Glee Club and the Longshots. Several of the verses of the song depict actual Justice moments on the gridiron. On the reverse side is an instrumental medley of the “Carolina Victory March,” “Here Comes Carolina,” “Tar Heels on Hand,” and “Hark the Sound.” The Johnny Long record was produced by Johnny Murphy a UNC alumnus from Charlotte and New York City.

On November 26, 1949 when Charlie Justice played his final UNC regular season game against Virginia in Kenan Stadium, the game day program book carried two ads for the Johnny Long version of the song.  On page 62 it was described as “the perfect Christmas gift,” and was supported by the Jim Mills photograph.  Then on page 71 the record was offered at the Varsity shop. The record sold for one dollar and the sheet music for fifty- cents.  According to Orville Campbell, “Justice modestly feels that it is a joke that anyone would want to write a song about him, but at the same time feels honored.”

As years passed, the mystery Goodman version of the song continued to pop up.  Bob Quincy and Julian Scheer, in their 1958 Justice biography Choo Choo: The Charlie Justice Story on page 122 put it this way: “Benny Goodman, the famed jazz clarinetist and Johnny Long, a Duke grad who plays a violin from the port side, were among the top recording artists who found ‘All the Way . . .’ worth their time.”

On December 15, 1978, Campbell released a very limited edition album titled, “Thanks for the Memories.” (811054-A 2890)  The one-sided album, which has two different front cover designs, contained six of Campbell’s hits, including “All the Way Choo Choo”—both the Sigma Chi and the Johnny Long versions.

The Benny Goodman record mystery lingered.  Then in 1979, I read in the Nostalgia Book Club newsletter that a revised edition of a book titled “BG—On the Record:  A Bio-Discography of Benny Goodman” by Russell Conner and Warren Hicks had been released. When I got my copy I went through it page by page—all 708 of them—and there was no mention of “All the Way Choo Choo.”

On July 28, 1979, I wrote Conner a letter and asked about the song. His reply on September 4th said, “I have no knowledge of Benny’s playing that tune.  But there is a further reference that will become available.  The great bulk of the arrangements Benny has used through the years, stored for long time in a warehouse on Broadway, is now being cataloged. . . If the tune was played by the ‘big band,’ the title should crop up.”

Connor was right: when the cataloging had been completed, there it was, listed between “All the Things You Are” and “All Through the Night.”

  • File 01/21     “All the Way Choo Choo” 1949
  • O’Farrill, Chico
  • BG
  • No:  A203
  • Score:  Yes
  • Parts:  none
  • Key:  A flat

We now know that Goodman performed the tune live in concert.  But was a Goodman recording ever released for sale? Some of Goodman’s live concerts were recorded onto electronic transcription discs (ETs) and distributed to radio stations for broadcasts, but I have not been able to determine if “All the Way” was ever distributed in this manner.  And of course, there is always that possibility that some black-market recording was made in a venue where Goodman was performing live. There is an interesting observation on the web site “Football Profiles.”  In Charlie’s profile, there is this quote:

The hype reached a crescendo for Charlie’s senior season.  Orville Campbell, a Chapel Hill music publisher, and Hank Beebe, a graduate student in music, produced a song about Charlie, “All the Way Choo Choo.”  The Johnny Long Orchestra recorded it, and the Benny Goodman Orchestra played it on the radio.

Not quite sure how Benny “played it on the radio.”  Was it a live broadcast or one of those radio ETs?

The Goodman recording mystery was finally solved in 1995 when Charlie Justice biographer Bob Terrell interviewed Charlie for the book, “All Aboard.”  Justice said that Goodman recorded “All the Way Choo Choo,” before Johnny Long did, but the management team at Capitol records thought the tune was too localized for national distribution, so they never released it. (What about that “executive” who sent Orville Campbell that note the “DTH” reported in their story on September 24th, 1949?)

According to Orville Campbell, the tune sold over 32,000 copies.

In 2013 as part of its Carolina First campaign, the UNC Office of University Development issued a compact disc titled “Echoes of Carolina,” and on the disc is the Johnny Long version of “All the Way Choo Choo.”

There are still mentions of the Goodman recording from time to time.  An example: The New York Times in its Justice obituary on October 20, 2003 has this line: “Benny Goodman paid tribute in his recording of ‘All the Way Choo Choo.'”

Sheet music cover, from the author's collection.

Sheet music cover, from the author’s collection.

I mentioned that Orville Campbell published the sheet music in 1949. One of the two editions has a Hugh Morton image on the front cover.  Recently I found a third version of the sheet music which has a Regent Music Corporation copyright.  A quick check of Regent finds that the company was founded in the late 1930s or 1940 at the Brill Building in New York City.  Regent founders were Gene Goodman and Harry Goodman—brothers of Benny Goodman.  Small world.

Three years before Campbell and Bebee and Long and Goodman started their “All the Way” journey, a writer at The Daily Tar Heel published a Charlie Justice song called “Tiny’s Choo Choo Song.” It was written by Tiny Hutton and published in the November 23, 1946 issue, just hours before Carolina met Duke for the 33rd time.  Ironically, the lyrics of Tiny’s tune are set to the music of the 1941 classic “Chattanooga Choo Choo” made famous by Glenn Miller, a contemporary of Benny Goodman.  Indeed, a small world.

Sidebars

Over the years, the song title “All the Way Choo Choo” has been used to title other things like two television documentaries, one in 1973 and one in 1984. The ’84 program, produced by David Soloman Productions in Winston-Salem, featured an “All the Way Choo Choo” T-shirt to promote the program.

On March 30, 2006, as part of UNC General Alumni Association’s “College of Lifelong Learning,” the late Dr. Ron Hyatt presented a program titled “All the Way Choo Choo” that featured an extensive Charlie Justice memorabilia display and a panel discussion that included Justice teammates, Walt Pupa, Joe Neikirk, and Bob Cox.

The game program for the 1953 Dixie Classic basketball tournament, which was played in Reynolds Coliseum in Raleigh, carried a full page back cover ad for the Washington Redskins vs. Green Bay Packers preseason game to be played in Raleigh’s Riddick Stadium on September 11, 1954 with the heading “All the Way Choo Choo.”

Five days after Charlie Justice led his Tar Heels into the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, The Daily Tar Heel published a full page Charlie Justice profile with seven pictures under the headline “All The Way Choo Choo: Charlie Justice Makes Last Run.”  That January 7, 1950 issue hit the streets just hours before he led the South to victory in the first annual Senior Bowl game, played that year in Jacksonville, Florida.

On October 2, 1949, Rev Dr. Samuel Tilden Habel, Jr. at the Baptist Church of Chapel Hill (Columbia & Franklin) delivered a sermon titled “All the Way Choo Choo.”  The headline in the Greensboro Daily News on October 4, 1949: ‘All the Way Choo Choo’ Becomes Sermon Topic.  There is a related picture in the 1958 Justice biography by Bob Quincy and Julian Scheer on page 122.

According to author Jackie Helvey at the web site Carrboro.com there was a board game by the same name.

On page 16 of that UNC vs. Virginia game program from 1949, is an advertisement for the Wm. Muirhead Construction Co. in Durham.  The ad shows a train approaching a bridge “on Southern Railway and Highway No. 87 & 100 at Glen Raven, NC.”  The bridge has a number 22 at the top with the words “All the Way Choo Choo!”

Rollie Massimino (1934–2017)

Rollie Massimino photographed by Hugh Morton, image cropped by the author.

Rollie Massimino photographed by Hugh Morton, image cropped by the author.

In today’s news we learned of yesterday’s passing of famed Villanova University basketball coach Rollie Massimino.  Above is a detail from a photograph of Massimino made by Hugh Morton on March 17, 1991 during the NCAA East Regional played in the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, NY.  A View to Hugh post from 2009 titled UNC vs. Villanova: 1982 and 1985 recounts two Tar Heel encounters against Massimino, and another post, “When Carolina’s Roy Williams and Villanova’s Jay Wright were assistants” includes another Morton photograph of Massimino made during the same game as this photograph.

In the shadow of the Moon: a path of darkness

Detail from a negative made by Hugh Morton during the September 1, 1951 annular eclipse from Grandfather Mountain.

Detail from a negative made by Hugh Morton during the September 1, 1951 annular eclipse from Grandfather Mountain.

It’s been 99 years since a comparable solar event of this 2017 magnitude occurred across the United States and it won’t happen again until April 8, 2024. Hugh Morton collection volunteer Jack Hilliard takes a quick look at this current phenomenon and looks back to 1951 when Hugh Morton photographed an event similar to the one we’re celebrating this month.

On Monday, August 21, 2017, all of North America will be treated to an eclipse of the sun. About 200 million people live within a day’s drive of the path of totality where you can see one of nature’s most awe-inspiring sights: a total solar eclipse, a path on our planet where a person may experience the moon completely covering the sun such that the sun’s tenuous atmosphere, the corona, will be visible.  This will be the first total solar eclipse to cross the entire continental United States since June 8, 1918.  The path will cover 8,600 miles from Lincoln Beach, Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina. Observers outside this path will see a partial solar eclipse where the moon will cover only part of the sun’s disk.

The path of totality is a relatively thin ribbon—a little over 70 miles wide (actually 71.5 miles in North Carolina), and will cross the United States from west to east at 1,500 miles per hour.  The first point of contact will be at Lincoln Beach, Oregon at 9:05 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time.  Totality begins there at 10:16 a.m. PDT.  Over the next hour and a half, it will cross through Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, and North and South Carolina. The total eclipse will be visible in nine North Carolina counties: Cherokee, Graham, Swain, Clay, Haywood, Henderson, Macon, Jackson, and Transylvania.  Most everywhere else in the state will experience a partial eclipse of 90 percent or more. The spectacular show will begin in North Carolina at 2:33 pm Eastern Daylight Time.

The path of totality will pass across the western portion of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, as well as the Brevard, Franklin and Murphy areas of North Carolina. Andrews will see the sun fully eclipsed by the moon for the longest of any city in the Tar Heel state: two minutes and thirty-nine seconds.  The total eclipse will end near Charleston, South Carolina at 2:48 p.m. EDT.  From there the lunar shadow leaves the United States at 4:09 EDT.  Its longest duration will be near Hopkinsville, Kentucky where the sun will be completely covered for two minutes and forty seconds.

This once-in-a lifetime-event would be perfect for photographer Hugh Morton, and he would bring some firsthand solar eclipse experience to the event.  Morton, who over the years had taken thousands of football photographs of his beloved UNC Tar Heels, was not on hand in Chapel Hill on September 1, 1951 when Head Football Coach Carl Snavely’s team first took the practice field to open the ’51 season.  Instead, Morton was atop Linville Peak at Grandfather Mountain. On that day, an annular solar eclipse was to be visible just at sunrise in a 30,000 square mile area of Virginia and North Carolina.  (An annular solar eclipse occurs when the moon’s apparent diameter is smaller than the sun’s blocking most of the Sun’s light causing the Sun to look like a small ring.)

A group of eclipse enthusiasts gathered on Grandfather Mountain early in the morning on 1 September 1951. Do you recognize anyone in the photograph?

A group of eclipse enthusiasts gathered on Grandfather Mountain early in the morning on 1 September 1951. Do you recognize anyone in the photograph?

Grandfather Mountain, at 5,964-feet, was the highest point in the United States in the center of that 95-mile-wide annular eclipse path, a perfect spot for Morton and his camera.  Back then, the road did not extend to the top of the mountain, so Morton and about 225 hardy souls made the rugged hike to the top in the early-morning darkness, where they joined about 75 overnight campers. In the predawn hours, low hanging clouds gathered close to the horizon along with a slight wind. The clouds continued to hang around as the 5:51 sunrise time approached.

Then, six minutes after sunrise, at 5:57, the clouds broke revealing the moon already in position to make its trek across the sun’s surface. Bailey’s Beads—little flashes of light shining through the rugged valleys and canyons on the moon—became clearly visible. Scientists at the scene called the view “excellent,” even though those thin, light clouds drifted back by from time to time.  Most of the spectators remained until the moon had cleared the sun by 6:20.

A color-corrected scan of Hugh Morton's color transparency made during totality of the September 1, 1951 annular eclipse. The original Ektachrome Daylight Film transparency has severe magenta color shift, and the color correction is to the blog editor's personal taste. The transparency had been in a glass lantern slide, the 4x5 sheet film hand-trimmed by Morton to fit smaller format.

A color-corrected scan of Hugh Morton’s color transparency made during totality of the September 1, 1951 annular eclipse. The original Ektachrome Daylight Film transparency has severe magenta color shift, and the color correction is to the blog editor’s personal taste. The transparency had been in a glass lantern slide, the 4×5 sheet film hand-trimmed by Morton to fit smaller format.

Atop nearby towering 6,684-foot Mt. Mitchell, some 200 people viewed the spectacle through a thin layer of high clouds. In Asheville, haze obscured the view for many.  Across the state in Greensboro, folks greeted the first eclipse of this magnitude in 50 years with the moon hiding 96% of the sun’s light.

A cloudy overcast sky spoiled the show for many of the Eastern states. The eclipse would have been visible over virtually all of the United States east of the Mississippi River had it not been for the clouds. Pittsburgh, Boston, and Atlanta reported overcast and clouds that, according to the United Press “eclipsed the eclipse.”  The same weather conditions were reported in New York, but early risers there were able to see the show on their TV sets. WOR-TV had set up a television camera with an 80-inch reflector lens in North Bergen, New Jersey. The lens penetrated the overcast.

Sixty-six years after Morton made his 1951 eclipse images, Grandfather Mountain will once again celebrate the current solar spectacle of Monday, August 21st with a solar eclipse party.

Postscript by Stephen

You may be wondering why there is no mention here of the solar eclipses from the 1970 total eclipse and the 1984 annular eclipse, both of which traversed sizable portions of North Carolina.  There is no listing for either in the Morton collection finding aid, so it took a little exploring to determine the likely reasons. (Note: the two links in this paragraph lead to Google cached webpages depicting maps of the eclipse path.  Just about all Google searches on the NASA website for eclipses other than 2017 annoyingly take you to the NASA webpage for the 2017 eclipse.  There’s no guarantee on how long these links will function properly.)

There are no specific clues about Morton’s whereabouts during the 1970 total eclipse, which made landfall in the United States southeast of Tallahassee near Perry, Florida.  While much of Florida was cloud-covered, here in North Carolina both Fayetteville and Greenville reported perfect viewing conditions . . . as did Virginia Beach, Virginia.  The path of totality only skimmed by Wilmington.  The collection does not have one of Morton’s “executive planners” for 1970, and so we have another “Morton Mystery.”

Regarding the 30 May 1984 eclipse in North Carolina: the weather was clear in the Piedmont but not in the east. Morton’s appointment book places him in Wilmington for a movie shoot and he noted “Heavy Rain – Southpoint, Orton” without mention of eclipse.

An Epilogue
The U.S. Postal Service is issuing the Total Solar Eclipse Forever stamp to commemorate the August 21st event. The image changes when you touch it by transforming into an image of the moon from the heat of your finger.

A final Wallace Wade win in Kenan

When Carolina met Duke on November 25, 1950 in historic Kenan Memorial Stadium, we didn’t know it at the time, but it would be Duke Head Football Coach Wallace Wade’s last coaching appearance against his rival from Chapel Hill. Over a 16 year period from 1934 through 1950, UNC Coach Carl Snavely met Duke Coach Wallace Wade seven times on the gridiron. Snavely won 5 of those games. Wade won in 1935 in Durham and his only win against Snavely in Kenan Stadium came on a cold day in November of 1950.

As official football practice gets underway today for Carolina’s 2017 football season—the 91st in Kenan Stadium, and the 104th meeting with Duke on September 23rd—Morton collection volunteer Jack Hilliard recalls that famous game from 66 seasons ago.

Stadium program for the 1950 Duke versus University of North Carolina football game (Courtesy Jack Hilliard).

Stadium program for the 1950 Duke versus University of North Carolina football game (Courtesy Jack Hilliard).

I remember, as a little kid, my dad telling my mom, as he left for work early Saturday morning, November 25, 1950, “I guess Carolina and Duke will play in the snow today.” Had it not been for the covering on Kenan’s turf, my dad would have been right.  On Friday the 24th, high winds, snow and bitter 15-degree temperatures moved into North Carolina.  The headline in Saturday’s Durham Sun, read: “Vicious Icy Storm Batters East.”

A check of the 1950 UNC football media guide, which was actually published in August, indicated the game was already a sellout. 40,000 of those ticket-holders braved the weather and came out for the game . . . the other 6,000 decided to stay home by the fire and the radio.  Photographer Hugh Morton was one of the former.

Head coach Carl Snavely’s North Carolina Tar Heels had beaten head coach Wallace Wade’s Duke Blue Devils the past four seasons and the Heels were made a slight favorite in this, the 37th meeting between the two rival schools.  Wade and Snavely had tremendous respect for each other.  In July of 1950 the two rival coaches appeared together in the North Carolina outdoor drama “The Lost Colony.”  They were special guests as part of Kay Kyser’s and Emma Neal Morrison’s “Celebrity Night” celebrations.  Going into the 1950 “battle of the blues,” the darker blue, Blue Devils were 6 and 3 on the season, while the lighter blue Tar Heels were 3-3-2.

As one might guess, wind was to be a factor in the game, so when the Tar Heels won Referee Orrell J. Mitchell’s toss, they elected to defend the west goal with the wind at their backs.  The Tar Heels moved the ball inside the Duke 25-yard-line twice in the first half, but couldn’t score.  Duke’s only first-half threat came near the end of the second quarter.  The Blue Devils went on a 44-yard drive to the Carolina 36-yard-line, mainly through the efforts of Duke captain Billy Cox’s running and passing, but they couldn’t score. The score at halftime was 0-0.

Because of the weather, there was no halftime entertainment on the field.  Fans had to be content reading through their game-day programs, which on this day featured a front cover Lon Keller image of radio and TV personality Arthur Godfrey.  You could read a column by UNC’s Jake Wade or Duke’s Ted Mann, and get their takes on the game.

Hugh Morton's photograph published in the November 27, 1950 issue of the Charlotte News with the caption, "Dick Bunting fights his way to the Duke 22 in the fourth quarter of the North Carolina game at Chapel Hill, but Blaine Earon is there to slam him down.  This threat, like five others, failed."  A search for this negative in the Morton collection did not turn up the negative.

Hugh Morton’s photograph published in the November 27, 1950 issue of the Charlotte News with the caption, “Dick Bunting fights his way to the Duke 22 in the fourth quarter of the North Carolina game at Chapel Hill, but Blaine Earon is there to slam him down. This threat, like five others, failed.” A search for this negative in the Morton collection did not turn up the negative.

At the 2:58 mark of the third quarter, Coach Wade decided to gamble.  Duke with the ball, fourth down at the Carolina 34 and needing seven yards for a first down, tailback Billy Cox took the direct snap from center J. E. Gibson . . . looked down field . . . spotted wingback Tommy Powers . . . and threw a perfect shot which Powers caught as he crossed the goal line.  Mike Souchak’s point-after made the score 7-0.

Scan of Hugh Morton's negative (as shot) of Duke's Billy Cox holding the game ball after a 7-0 win over UNC at Kenan Stadium, 25 November 1950. This image appears in the sports sections of the Wilmington Morning Star and the Charlotte News. The latter identified the woman next to Cox as Mona Booth, Miss Durham of 1950. Other Morton photographs appeared in those newspapers (shown below), but the negatives either have not yet been located in the collection or have not survived.

Scan of Hugh Morton’s negative (as shot) of Duke’s Billy Cox holding the game ball after a 7-0 win over UNC at Kenan Stadium, 25 November 1950. This image appears in the sports sections of the Wilmington Morning Star and the Charlotte News. The latter identified the woman next to Cox as Mona Booth, Miss Durham of 1950. Other Morton photographs appeared in those newspapers (shown below), but the negatives either have not yet been located in the collection or have not survived.

During the final quarter and a half, Carolina had three great opportunities, but the score remained 7-0.  The final game stats showed that Carolina had first downs at the Duke 22, 17, 28, 9, 7, and 20, but could not score.  In his post game interview, Wade praised Duke’s incredible defense.

As the game ended and the late November sky began to turn a darker shade of gray, the Duke players rushed to hoist their victorious coach on their shoulders; but as we had come to expect, Coach Wade wanted no part of anything like that.  Wade told his players, “No, no, boys there’ll be none of that. Let’s go shake their hands.” He then walked calmly across field for a final time and shook Snavely’s hand, just as he had done on six previous occasions when the two coaches had played one another.  It would be Wade’s first, final, and only win in Kenan Stadium against a Snavely-coached Tar Heel team.

Two post-game images by Morton appeared in the November 27th Wilmington Morning Star.

Two post-game images by Morton appeared in the November 27th Wilmington Morning Star.

When the field cleared, the Carolina cheerleaders, led by head man Joe Chambliss, rolled the Victory Bell across the cold Kenan turf to the Duke section on the North side of the stadium, as the Blue Devil fans cheered.  It was their first opportunity to ring the bell since its introduction following Carolina’s 1948 win. (That respectful type Victory Bell transition seems to have been forgotten in today’s world of overwrought fan and player hostility.)

The headline in Sunday’s Charlotte Observer, read: “Blue Devils’ Gamble Pays Off for Score in High Wind and Freezing Temperature.”  Coach Snavely, when asked in his Monday morning news conference about his impression of Saturday’s game, had this to say: “Duke was hotter than we were in several crucial moments. . . . You must remember that Duke played in the same weather we did.”

Four days after the game, Wade married Virginia Jones and after a honeymoon in New York, he announced his resignation from Duke in order to take the position of Commissioner of the Southern Conference. He would hold that position for ten years. Upon his retirement from the Southern Conference in 1960, words of praise came from media outlets across the country. One of those tributes came from an avid UNC Tar Heel, who broadcast UNC football games on the Tobacco Sports Network…Bill Currie, then the Sports Director of WSOC-TV, Channel 9, in Charlotte once said: “Nobody ever gets over being a Tar Heel. He also said this about Coach Wade:

“The true measure of Wallace Wade’s greatness as a man is not fully reflected in his overwhelming won-lost record on the field, nor in his patriotic devotion to our country in combat during two world wars: rather, it is reflected in the dignity and bearing of the man, which makes him a giant among his peers and successors.”

William Wallace Wade was inducted into the National Football Foundation’s College Football Hall of Fame with the Class of 1955. Twelve years later, in 1967, Duke Stadium was renamed Wallace Wade Stadium in his honor.

He died on October 7, 1986. He was 94-years-old.

 

The birth of Gorges State Park

North Carolina Governor Jim Hunt signing the "Gorges Bill" on July 8, 1997. The second (fully visible) person from the left is R. Michael Leonard, recognized from another Morton image in the online collection and confirmed by a quote in the Asheville Times. At the time Leonard was an attorney with the firm Womble, Carlyle, Sandridge, and Rice. The others in the photograph are unidentified.

North Carolina Governor Jim Hunt signing the “Gorges Bill” on July 8, 1997. The second (fully visible) person from the left is R. Michael Leonard, recognized from another Morton image in the online collection and confirmed by a quote in the Asheville Citizen-Times. At the time Leonard was an attorney with the firm Womble, Carlyle, Sandridge, and Rice. The others in the photograph are unidentified.

This past Saturday, July 8th, marked the twentieth anniversary of North Carolina Governor Jim Hunt signing “An Act to Authorize the Addition to the State Parks System of Certain Lands Located in Transylvania County Adjacent to Jocassee Lake”—or, as Hugh Morton labeled his negatives, the “Gorges Bill.”  The act had been Senate Bill 537, then became Chapter 276 in Session Laws and Resolutions Passed by the 1997 General Assembly . . . [shortened title].  The legislators behind the bill were State Senator Tommy Jenkins, Democrat (possibly the person on the far right in the photograph above) and Representative William Ives, Republican from Transylvania County.

July 8, 1997 was a busy day for Governor Hunt.  Earlier in the day, he attended the memorial service for Charles Kuralt.  Morton’s negatives for both events are on the same roll of film.  Hunt wears the same tie in all of the photographs, and that was the tip off that both events occurred on the same day.  According to Session Laws and Resolutions it became law “upon approval of the Governor at 4:50 p.m. on the 8th day of July, 1997.”

Curiosity and thoroughness sent me back to the collection finding aid to see what else Hugh Morton may have photographed related to the Gorges.  I found another roll of film dated April 1997 with Gov. Hunt, Bill Grigg, and Gorges Park among the names written on the envelope.  Grigg was Chairman of Duke Power Company, which owned the land.  Inside the envelope are nineteen negatives and six prints including the two images below.

Chairman of Duke Power Company, Bill Grigg, and Governor Jim Hunt during a flyover to view the land that would become Gorges State Park, April 1997. (Hugh Morton photograph, cropped by the author.)

Chairman of Duke Power Company, Bill Grigg, and Governor Jim Hunt during a flyover to view the land that would become Gorges State Park, April 1997. (Hugh Morton photograph, cropped by the author.)

An Asheville Citizens-Times news article titled, “Hunt signs deal allowing Jocassee purchase” published on July 9, 1997 that reported the news story included a quote from Hunt saying, “I have flown over it.  This is wonderful property and the state ought to have it.”  The article mentioned that the bill contained no appropriation to acquire the land.  It simply permitted the state parks system to “pursue the purchase.”  The article also stated that “Hunt gave a pep talk to area lawmakers, including Sen. Robert Carpenter, R-Macon, state agency officials and environmentalists assembled for a photo op.”  Hunt “strongly suggested” that the state would “raise the money through a combination of publicly held grants, private sources and maybe a legislative appropriation.”  The article concluded with a statement that R. Michael Leonard of the law firm Womble, Carlyle, Sandridge and Rice (seen in the group portrait above) had received a commitment of $1.25 million from two anonymous private donors.  The state purchased the land and officially dedicated Gorges State Park in 1999.

Hugh Morton's bird's-eye-view of the many waterfalls on the Toxaway River.

Hugh Morton’s bird’s-eye-view of the many waterfalls on the Toxaway River.

 

A memorial tribute, twenty years ago

Early on the morning of Friday, July 4, 1997 we heard the sad news from New York that Tar Heel Charles Bishop Kuralt had died of heart disease and complications from lupus, an inflammatory disease that can affect the skin, joints, kidneys and nervous system.  Four days later, a memorial service was held in Chapel Hill. On this, the twentieth anniversary of Kuralt’s passing, Hugh Morton collection volunteer Jack Hilliard recalls that day when a group of North Carolina’s finest gathered to celebrate the life of “CBS’ poet of small-town America.”

"Chas Kuralt died"—Hugh Morton's entry for July 4, in his 1997 Executive Planner.

“Chas Kuralt died”—Hugh Morton’s entry for July 4, in his 1997 Executive Planner.

Charles really had the common touch.  He was so genuine and sincere.  I really believe he was the most loved, respected and trusted news personality in television.  —Hugh Morton

Shortly before noon on Tuesday, July 8, 1997 the old bell in South Building on the UNC campus rang for one minute. The bell is seldom used, reserved for marking such rare occasions as the installment of a new chancellor.  Earlier that morning Charles Kuralt was laid to rest in the Old Chapel Hill Cemetery, the place where he wanted to be buried on the campus he loved.  On July 2, two days before he died, Kuralt had sent his friend Dr. William Friday a note seeking help in securing the spot.

“I seem to be recovering nicely; but this experience has given me intimations of mortality.  I know you have better things to worry about, but I thought I would ask if you have any way of finding out if there are a couple of burial plots in Chapel Hill . . . I should have thought of this forty years ago!  Sorry to ask you to look into such a bizarre question.”

Charles Kuralt's last letter, written to Bill Friday, in the Charles Kuralt Collection #4882, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Charles Kuralt’s last letter, written to Bill Friday, in the Charles Kuralt Collection #4882, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Before Friday got the note, he got a phone call.  It was 6:00 a.m. on July 4th.  Kuralt’s assistant Karen Beckers was on the line.

“I’ve called you because I must tell you that Charles is gone.”

Beckers told Friday about the note he would be getting.  Friday and Chapel Hill Town Manager Cal Horton met at the cemetery with a map and determined that Chapel Hill resident George Hogan had several plots.  Friday then called Hogan and explained his situation.  Hogan’s reply: “No, I won’t sell them, but I’ll give Charles two.”  Turns out Hogan had worked for the Educational Foundation at UNC when Kuralt was editor of The Daily Tar Heel.

Kuralt now rests in peace near the center of the old cemetery near the gravesites of former UNC President Francis Venable and botany professor William Coker.  Not far away lie the graves of others who made Tar Heel history: former UNC System President Frank Porter Graham, playwright Paul Green, and UNC Institute of Government founder Albert Coates.

Said Friday, “He’s where I felt, and the others felt, he would like to be.”  Friday then added, “While he’s here with former presidents, he’s also here with the home folks of Chapel Hill.”  Charles’ brother Wallace said: “This is home for him.”

Dan Rather. Photograph by Hugh Morton, as cropped by the editor.

Dan Rather. Photograph by Hugh Morton, as cropped by the editor.

Following the private ceremony at the gravesite, people filed past the site all day.  Piles of flowers filled the spot where a future marker would be placed.  A teary-eyed Dan Rather, then anchor of the CBS Evening News, left the burial site emotionally shaken.  “I’m here in sympathy and support of his family.  He gave himself to America, and he gave it everything he had.”

Interior of Memorial Hall, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, during memorial service for Charles Kuralt. Photograph by Hugh Morton.

Interior of Memorial Hall, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, during memorial service for Charles Kuralt. Photograph by Hugh Morton.

Shortly after the service at Old Chapel Hill Cemetery, more than 1,600 people packed Memorial Hall for a celebration of Kuralt’s life, with UNC Chancellor Michael Hooker presiding.  WUNC-TV’s cameras were there to send the signal out across the Tar Heel state. Television personality Charlie Rose and WUNC-TV’s Audrey Kates Bailey anchored the broadcast.

The Memorial Hall stage was filled with an illustrious group of North Carolinians who came to share their friendships with Charles.  The group included UNC Chancellor Michael Hooker, North Carolina Governor Jim Hunt, Kuralt’s special friend Hugh Morton, former UNC presidents William Friday and C.D. Spangler Jr, and Kuralt’s friend, composer Loonis McGlohon.  The North Carolina Symphony’s Brass Ensemble was also on hand to perform segments from North Carolina is My Home, which Kuralt wrote and performed with McGlohon.  McGlohon performed “The Farmer” segment that he called his favorite.

William C. Friday during the memorial service for Charles Kuralt. Photograph by Hugh Morton, as cropped by the editor.

William C. Friday during the memorial service for Charles Kuralt. Photograph by Hugh Morton, as cropped by the editor.

“The world knew Charles as one of the most respected and trusted newsmen of this generation, a master storyteller and a tour guide to the back roads of our nation,” said Chancellor Hooker.  “The university knew him as a stalwart alumnus who never forgot his roots—whether it meant talking to our budding journalists or giving his time and effort on behalf of the School of Social Work to help promote his late father’s profession.  He was a kind and generous man who never hesitated to lend his alma mater a hand however and whenever possible.  He will be greatly missed.”

Morton told the standing-room only crowd at Memorial Hall, “I begged him to cancel everything and come to the mountains and sleep all day or fish all day, whatever it would take to restore his health.”  Kuralt said he had too much to do.

Left to right: James G. (Jim) Babb, then Executive Vice President at Bahakel Communications, with Loonis McGlohon, and Charles Kuralt at Belmont Abbey College, May 10, 1997. Babb is a class of 1959 alumnus of Belmont Abbey College.

Left to right: James G. (Jim) Babb, then Executive Vice President at Bahakel Communications, with Loonis McGlohon, and Charles Kuralt at Belmont Abbey College, May 10, 1997. Babb is a class of 1959 alumnus of Belmont Abbey College.

Morton wasn’t surprised when he got a call telling him that Kuralt had died.  Less than two months earlier on May 10, Hugh Morton met with Kuralt at Belmont Abbey College.  It was probably their last time together.  Kuralt was the commencement speaker and received an honorary degree.  McGlohon also received an honorary degree that day, along with Catholic theologian and author, the Reverend Terrence Kardong, and the Reverend David Thompson, Bishop of the Charleston diocese.  Kuralt had been diagnosed with lupus and his treatment regimen had taken a severe toll.

"Belmont Abbey / Loonis & Charles"—Hugh Morton's entry in his executive planner for May 10, 1997.

“Belmont Abbey / Loonis & Charles”—Hugh Morton’s entry in his executive planner for May 10, 1997.

Through his world travels, Charles Kuralt never forgot his North Carolina roots.  Governor Jim Hunt called Kuralt North Carolina’s storytelling ambassador, then added, “He was born on the coast, grew up in the Piedmont, loved the mountains, but he belonged to America. He was a fine reporter.  But when he started telling us America’s stories, we smiled and sometimes cried when we saw the goodness.”

In July 1997, television personality Charlie Rose was hosting an interview program on Public Broadcasting (PBS), so it was a natural for the North Carolina native to co-anchor the TV coverage of the Charles Kuralt memorial broadcast on the University’s Public Broadcasting station WUNC-TV.  Rose called Kuralt “a genuine American hero.”

“There was almost no one who didn’t know him. People would say ‘I was always wondering when you would show up.’” Then with a smile Rose added. “There was one exception, a woman Kuralt walked up to interview asked him to leave two quarts of milk, thinking he was the milkman.”

“All of us, when we heard the story (of Kuralt’s death) wanted to say ‘Stop—one more story, one more conversation. Introduce me to one more person that reflects America. Give me one more gentle reminder of who we are and what the great fabric of this nation is about.’ ”

Former UNC System President Dr. William Friday said, “No matter where he was in the world, he would call Chapel Hill and ask whether the dogs were still chasing the squirrels across campus and the flowers still blooming.”

When UNC System President C.D. Spangler, Jr. got to the podium to add his remarks, he opened with these words: “To Charles and all his family here, I say welcome back to Chapel Hill.”

Supplement

William C. Friday’s papers in the Southern Historical Collection contain the following letters between Friday and Hugh Morton, written soon after the Kuralt memorial service.

Epilog

On October 12, 2012 (University Day on the UNC campus), former UNC System President Dr. William Clyde Friday passed away.  He, too, is at peace in the Old Chapel Hill Cemetery.

Correction: A caption to a photograph in the original version of the story stated that the unidentified person on the left of the group portrait with McGlohon and Kuralt was thought to be Reverend David Thompson.  A reader’s comment identified the man as James G. Babb (7 July 2017).