Always on call for his alma mater

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, UNC Board of Trustees chairman; Tom Lambeth, chairman of the area campaigns; Chancellor Emeritus Christopher C. Fordham III; and 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, UNC Board of Trustees chairman; Tom Lambeth, chairman of the area campaigns; Chancellor Emeritus Christopher C. Fordham III; and Chancellor Paul Hardin.

On Tuesday, June 7, 2016—one year ago today—a special memorial service was held at the Old Chapel Hill Cemetery on Raleigh Road. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill had lost one of its strongest supporters. Three days before, Ralph Strayhorn Jr. had passed away in Winston-Salem. He was 93-years-old.  On this anniversary, Morton Collection volunteer Jack Hilliard looks back at Strayhorn’s amazing list of accomplishments.

Ralph Nichols Strayhorn Jr. at one time or another served his university as

  • cocaptain of the varsity football team;
  • member of UNC Board of Trustees;
  • President of the General Alumni Association;
  • General Counsel for the Rams Club;
  • chairman of the search committee charged in 1987 with finding a replacement for Head Football Coach Dick Drum (he and his committee found Mack Brown);
  • President and General Counsel of the Educational Foundation, Inc.; and
  • Fund Raising Chairman for the George Watts Hill Alumni Center building project.

As you will see later in this post, this list will continue.

A native of Durham, Strayhorn was recruited by UNC assistant football coach Jim Tatum and played three seasons with the Tar Heels before he entered the United States Navy and served in the Pacific theater from 1943 until 1946, completing his active service as a sub-chaser commanding officer.  He served twenty years in the U. S. Naval Reserve, retiring in 1962 as a lieutenant commander.

He returned to Chapel Hill in time for the 1946 football season where he was a cocaptain along with Chan Highsmith.  In a 2010 interview, Strayhorn described his returned: “It was a delightful time to be in Chapel Hill.  Everyone was glad to be home from the war, back in school where they belonged.”

The 1946 Tar Heels under Head Coach Carl Snavely won eight games during the regular season while losing only to Tennessee and tying VPI (formally Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, known today as Virginia Tech).  That record was good enough to earn a Southern Conference championship and Carolina’s first bowl game, the Sugar Bowl on January 1, 1947. Strayhorn’s trip to New Orleans was not a joyous occasion as it should have been. His father had suffered a heart attack back in Durham and was unconscious.

“My mind wasn’t focused on the game, needless to say.  I thought about not going.  My first cousin was a doctor and was very close to our family.  He said my father would want me to go and play in that game.  I stayed behind when the team left and then caught the last train to New Orleans. . . I was on the first train back out of town.  I returned to my father’s bedside but he never recovered.”

Strayhorn could have played one more season with the Tar Heels.  The 1943 season didn’t count against his eligibility because he had gone off to World War II; he chose, however, to graduate with the class of 1947 with a degree in commerce and enter law school.  He got his law degree in 1950 and joined the firm of Newsom, Graham, Strayhorn, Hedrick, Murray, Bryson and Kennon as a senior partner.  He held that position until 1978 when he assumed the executive position of general counsel of the Wachovia Corporation and the Wachovia Bank and Trust Company.  Strayhorn retired from that position in his 1988 retirement.  He then joined the law firm Petree Stockton & Robinson.

Throughout his professional career, Ralph Strayhorn remained active in the life of his alma mater, especially its athletic programs and his beloved football Tar Heels. From 1973 until 1981 he was a member of the UNC Board of Trustees, serving as chairman in 1979 and 1980.  Additionally, he served on the Central Selection Committee of the Morehead Foundation, the Board of Visitors, and the NC Institute of Medicine.  In 1989 the UNC Board of Trustees awarded Strayhorn the William Richardson Davie Award.

Over the years, Strayhorn kept in touch with Coach Jim Tatum and in 1955 he wrote Tatum a four-page letter asking him to return to Chapel Hill to take over the football program.  “The football situation at Chapel Hill seems to have reached an all-time low,” Strayhorn wrote. The following year Tatum returned and led the program until his untimely death in July of 1959.  Ironically, in 1957 Strayhorn had prepared Tatum’s will and delivered the document to him the week before the Tar Heel were to meet Maryland for the first time since Tatum left—the famous “Queen Elizabeth” game. As the coach was signing the document, he asked Strayhorn if he was going to the game on Saturday.

“I told him I didn’t have tickets, transportation, a room or a baby-sitter.  He said, ‘Well, find yourself a baby-sitter.  I’ll take care of the rest. You be at the airport Friday at 2 o’clock.’ We got to the airport and everything was arranged for us.”

FOUR TAR HEELS—Ralph Strayhorn Jr., Charlie Justice, Sugar Bowl CEO Paul Hoolahan, and Charlie Carr gathered on the sidelines before the 1997 Sugar Bowl. At that time Carr was the associate director of athletics at Florida State, which played against Florida in the bowl game.

FOUR TAR HEELS—Ralph Strayhorn Jr., Charlie Justice, Sugar Bowl CEO Paul Hoolahan, and Charlie Carr gathered on the sidelines before the 1997 Sugar Bowl. At that time Carr was the associate director of athletics at Florida State, which played against Florida in the bowl game.

In December 1996 Carolina’s 1947 football team celebrated the 50th anniversary of their ’47 Sugar Bowl game with a train trip to New Orleans for the 1997 Sugar Bowl game.  An on-the-field pre-game ceremony included Charlie Justice and Ralph Strayhorn along with Charlie Trippi of Georgia.  Hugh Morton was a special invited guest at the ceremony.

Joe Neikirk, Georgia's legendary Bulldog Bill Hartman, Ralph Strayhorn Jr., Charlie Justice, Crowell Little, and Georgia All-American Charley Trippi.

Joe Neikirk, Georgia’s legendary Bulldog Bill Hartman, Ralph Strayhorn Jr., Charlie Justice, Crowell Little, and Georgia All-American Charley Trippi.

Seven years later, on November 5, 2004, Ralph Strayhorn and Hugh Morton were featured speakers at the dedication of Johnpaul Harris’ magnificent Charlie Justice statue which now stands just outside of Kenan Stadium.

The next time you visit the “Charlie Justice Hall of Honor” in the Kenan Football Center, notice the Harold Styers’ portrait of the 1947 Sugar Bowl coin toss featuring UNC’s Cocaptain Ralph Stayhorn #62, and Georgia’s Captain Charlie Trippi, also #62.

And oh yes . . . that list.  Ralph Strayhorn Jr. was President of the North Carolina Bar Association in 1971-72, and a member of the

  • Legal Advisory Committee of the New York Stock Exchange;
  • American College of Trial Lawyers;
  • American Bar Association;
  • International Association of Defense Counsel;
  • Newcomen Society of the United States; and the
  • Board of Visitors of the Wake Forest School of Law.

He also argued a case before the Supreme Court of the United States and served in the North Carolina General Assembly in 1959.

Ralph Nichols Strayhorn Jr., a Tar Heel treasure like no other.

UPDATE: caption for second photograph revised to reflect identification received in a comment on June 12.  Previously the caption began with “THREE TAR HEELS.”

UPDATE: On June 13, the caption was once again update with the discovery of more recent information about Charlie Carr.  Mr. Carr was a member of the UNC Class of 1968 and he received a master’s degree from there in 1970.  In 1971 he became a UNC assistant football coach.  He also served in various roles at East Carolina, Mississippi State before joining Florida State  in 1995. Carr left Florida State on October 1, 2007, when he became the athletic director at Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas.  On May 17, 2017 Mr. Carr entered phased retirement from MSU, and he will officially retire on August 31.  Also updated was the caption for the final photograph with the identification of Bill Hartman, the Georgia Bulldog’s team captain in 1937.  (Thanks, Jack Hilliard, for new info on Charlie Carr and the identification of Bill Hartman!)

A Benny Goodman score

"WHEN BUDDHA SMILES"—This is a marquee poster for a Benny Goodman Orchestra performance attended by Hugh Morton. The date for this performance was unknown, but no longer. Buddha smiles again. (Hugh Morton photograph, cropped by the author.)

“WHEN BUDDHA SMILES”—This is a marquee poster for a Benny Goodman Orchestra performance attended by Hugh Morton. The date for this performance was unknown, but no longer. Buddha smiles again. (Hugh Morton photograph, cropped by the author.)

I am a jazz fan, so Hugh Morton’s negatives of jazz musicians have interested me from the first time I saw them.  Morton began photographing jazz musicians when he was in high school and he continued throughout his life.  Clarinetist and bandleader Benny Goodman was his favorite musician.  In 1988 Morton wrote in Making a Difference in North Carolina:

Illustrative of my loyalty to Benny Goodman, I saw him and his band in the ’30s and 40’s in Washington, D. C., Baltimore, Detroit, New York, and Raleigh, and in 1979 in Greensboro and 1983 in Wilmington.  Each time I took pictures, and I deeply regret the cameras and film in the early days did not measure up.  It was virtually impossible to snap candid shots that are up to today’s standards.

It may be better to contextualize that statement with a bit of clarification.  I believe the camera technology was available, but perhaps not to a teenager.  In 1937, Leica 35mm cameras had been available since 1925, so I don’t think that cameras were the issue.  Morton photographed during this time with a camera that used the 127 film format, which is larger than the 135 format and its film cartridge that came to market in 1934.  Black-and-white negative films during that time, however, did not have sufficient light sensitivity (film speed) to capture an image without blurring caused by shaking a hand-held camera set with the slower shutter speeds needed to get a proper exposure.  Below is one of Morton’s negatives made at that Washington, D.C. concert . . .

. . . and here’s a cropped portion of the negative that illustrates softness from camera movement. (Look at the “G” on the music stand.)

Until very recently, the location and date Morton made the marquee poster negative was unknown.  A project I’m working on brought his jazz negatives to my attention, so I began to sort the Benny Goodman negatives into groups based upon the stage settings.  Luckily the marquee poster exposure is on a negative strip that also has an interior view of Goodman performing inside the theatre, so that group of images with the stage seen above formed the Washington batch.

Next I spent some quality evening and weekend time digging around for clues that might lead to more information.  For historical information I checked out the Music Library’s copy of Ross Firestone’s biography Swing, Swing, Swing: The Life and Times of Benny Goodman. (It was also a good excuse to borrow the 2-CD set Benny Goodman at Carnegie Hall, 1938 to listen to while researching!)  But the definitive answer came from the University Libraries’ online catalog access to historical issues of The Washington Post.  A search through that newspaper revealed where and when Morton made that group of negatives.

The Washington Post column “Nelson B. Bell About The Show Shops” for June 5, 1937 covered Goodman’s gig in an article with a long title that begins, “‘Kid Galahad’ and Benny Goodman Score at the Earle.”  A bit more searching through other issues of the newspaper pinpointed that Goodmen and orchestra opened a one-week engagement at the Earle Theatre on June 3, 1937.  Bell listed in his review the performers’ names in the exact order they are printed on the marquee poster.  His list also revealed the proper spelling of the name Peg LaCentra (not Gentra, as in the poster).  Bell also noted that he believed it was Goodman’s “first visit to a Washington stage,” which is very similar to the wording on the poster.

Bell reported, “On the stage at the Earle this week, Benny Goodman and his orchestra are winning an ovation at every performance—and they are being put on so often they must think it is a continuous act they are doing. The Goodman band goes in largely for ‘swing’ rhythms and plays them with a zest that knocked the audience right out of their pews yesterday afternoon.”  The performance Bell attended suffered from a loudspeaker failure that prevented him from hearing the performers names as Goodman’s voice only carried to the sixth row and he sat farther back in around the twentieth.  The music, however, must have been loud and clear.

Firestone’s biography does not mention the Washington venue; it only states that the band left New York in the beginning of June destined for its third engagement at the Palomar Ballroom in Los Angeles at the end of the month.  He noted that “aside from a few theater dates” the month was almost entirely one-nighters spread through Pennsylvania and several midwestern states.  Firestone’s book does, however, provide some prior context.  On March 3, just three months before the Earle Theatre performances, Goodman’s orchestra started a two-week engagement at the Paramount Theater on Times Square in New York City.

A sold-out crowd saw that opening night’s first performance “and the audience of restless youngsters was in unusually high spirits.”  They greeted the orchestra, Firestone recounted, “with an ear-shattering roar of clapping and whistling and stomping and yelling that sounded, Benny remembered, ‘like Times Square on New Year’s Eve.’  ‘It was exciting, [Goodman] recalled, ‘but also a little frightening—scary.'”

Firestone vividly described the band’s performance, then wrote,

It was apparent to everyone . . . that something truly momentous had just taken place, that the Goodman orchestra’s brief forty-three-minute sojourn on the Paramount stage was some kind of breakthrough that topped, and was different from, all its previous successes.  What started out as just another stage show had turned into a kind of celebration of the spirit, a love feast of communal frenzy that was, as Variety observed, “tradition-shattering in its spontaneity, its unanimity, its sincerity, its volume, in the childlike violence of its manifestations.”

Firestone then accounts for what he believed was the performance’s “stunningly obvious” cause.  “The school kids were among Benny’s most zealous fans, and this was the first chance they had to hear him in person,” he wrote.  Goodman’s usual New York venue was The Hotel Pennsylvania, which was “completely beyond the reach of the legions of ordinary youngsters who, up to now, could only listen to Benny on the radio or spring for an occasional record.”  A multitude of kids had lined up starting before seven in the morning to buy a twenty-five cent ticket.  By the end of the day, the Paramount has sold 21,000 admissions.

The orchestra’s next theater date was at the Metropolitan Theater in Boston in May, and they encountered there the same high-octane enthusiasm as inside the Paramount.  The Boston Morning Globe wrote that it seemed like the Metropolitan Theater held “every boy and girl in Greater Boston who could beg a school ‘absent’ excuse from a tolerant parent.  Benny Goodman, King of Swing, is in town, which means that the youngsters of the city are in their seventh heaven of rapture. What shrieks of joy as he played ‘Alexander’s Ragtime Band’ in his own swingy rhythms!  What yells and whistles and stampings followed Gene Krupa’s drumming exhibitions!”

And so it must have been in the pews of Washington’s Earle Theatre during the first week of June.  Nelson Bell concluded his Washington Post review with, “Don’t miss this one.”  Sixteen-year-old Hugh Morton did not.

John F. Kennedy’s 100th birthday anniversary

John F. Kennedy at North Carolina Caucus, 1956 Democratic National Convention

John F. Kennedy at North Carolina Caucus, 1956 Democratic National Convention

If John F. Kennedy were alive today, he would be celebrating his 100th birthday.  Hugh Morton, who was less than four years younger than JFK, photographed him on several occasions.  The above photograph is Morton’s earliest.

During the nearly ten years that A View to Hugh has been in existence, John Kennedy has been featured, represented, or mentioned in more that thirty blog posts  To mark this day, I encourage you to search the blog for Kennedy’s name and read an entry or two . . . or click on the link above to access nearly sixty images available of Kennedy in the online collection, including a dozen images from his 1961 University Day speech in Kenan Memorial Stadium at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Back at the track

Lining up for the start of the 1983 Mello Yello 300.

Lining up for the start of the 1983 Mello Yello 300.

NASCAR’s longest race of the season, the Coca-Cola 600, will be run at the Charlotte Motor Speedway on Sunday, May 28, 2017.  This year’s event will mark the 58th running of the race that started back in 1960 when it was called the World 600.  That name continued until the 1985 race when Coca-Cola became a major sponsor.

In 1978 NASCAR held a supporting race, a Late Model Sportsman Series 100-mile race the day before the 600 miler. The following year NASCAR held the Sun Drop 300, and beginning in 1980 the Mello Yello 300.  In 1982 the 300-mile race became part of the Busch Series, with another sponsorship name change to the Winston 300 in 1985.  Today the race is called the Hitense 4K TV 300.

Back on May 7, 2010, Jack Hilliard wrote a post about the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame, and Hugh Morton’s wife Julia added this comment: “I remember how anxious Hugh was to have Stock Car Racing ‘declared a sport.’”  Four years later, Jack wrote a post about the 1971 National 500 at Charlotte’s famous mile-and-a-half oval.  He wrote in the article that while High Morton is famous for his sports photography, there aren’t many NASCAR events represented in his portfolio.

Fast forward to earlier this year, when Jack noted in the Morton collection finding aid the following entry:

  • Slide Lot 008864: “World 600, Viaduct,” (NASCAR), June 1983 #P0081, Subseries: “Other events, 1940s-early 2000s”

With the 2017 Coca-Cola 600 approaching, Jack wrote an article looking back thirty-four years to the then World 600 of May 29, 1983.  This morning, as I was assembling the image scans and writing captions for the World 600 posting, all was well . . .

Neil Bonnett in car number 75 (front left) and car number 7, which in the World 600 would have been Kyle Petty, lead a pack of fourteen cars, with car number 32 separated from the pack ahead.

Neil Bonnett in car number 75 (front left) and car number 7, which in the World 600 would have been Kyle Petty, lead a pack of fourteen cars, with car number 32 separated from the pack ahead.

I dropped in another image . . .

. . . and moved on to the next.

In the World 600, Hueytown, Alabama’s Neil Bonnett edged out Richard Petty by 0.8 seconds for the victory.  Could this image be the two dueling as they came out of the last turn?  Alas, no because the car is yellow and Jack’s article had a quote by Bonnett from after the race:

Richard was dictating how fast I had to run.  I knew I had to pick up the pace because every time I looked in my rear view mirror I saw that red-and-blue car and I knew that man meant business.

This slide, #17, shows a yellow "Wrangler" car (number not visible) with a slight edge on Neil Bonnett in car #75, the white car on the left.

This slide, #17, shows a yellow “Wrangler” car (number not visible) with a slight edge on Neil Bonnett in car #75, the white car on the left.

The next slide, #18, shows the yellow Wrangler car with a wider lead on Neil Bonnett.  The following cars are number 7, 28, and 17.

The next slide, #18, shows the yellow Wrangler car with a wider lead on Neil Bonnett.  The following cars are number 7, 28, and 17.

Then I placed the following photograph, Morton’s slide #19, and something was awry . . .

Slide number #19 depicts a pack exiting turn four lead by car 23, followed by cars 34, 76, and 5.

Slide number #19 depicts a pack exiting turn four lead by car 23, followed by cars 34, 76, and 5.

The above photograph, Morton’s 35mm color slide #19, depicts a pack of cars exiting turn four with car 23 in front of cars 34, 76, and 5.  To write a caption, I looked up on the Internet and found the race results with a list of the drivers’ names and car numbers.  That’s when I discovered that none of those car numbers raced in the World 600.  Digging a bit more, I learned about the Mello Yello 300 and found a list of drivers and car numbers for that race, then emailed the news and webpage links to Jack.  He found footage of the entire race on YouTube, and by comparing the beginning minutes of the film footage to Morton’s wide angle photograph shown at the top of this post, we confirmed that Morton’s photographs are of the Mello Yello 300 and not the World 600.  The race broadcaster mentions (at 4:20 on the video), “Dale Earnhardt in the Wrangler car, number 15.”  As the results webpage shows, Dale Earnhardt defeated Neil Bonnett to win the Mello Yello 300.

There’s still a little “Morton Mystery” left, though: some of the car numbers seen in slide 19 are unknown.  According to the list on the website Ultimate Racing History, the driver for car number 23 was Davey Allison while Joe Kelly drove the following car, number 34.  The next car, 76, is not listed . . . nor is car 47.  In between those two cars is car 5 driven by John Anderson.  Dale Jarrett is next in car 32, followed by Slick Johnson in car 46.  With two car numbers unaccounted for, is it possible that Hugh Morton attended the qualifying race the day before?  That’s not likely because car number 7 in the second photograph above is probably pole sitter Morgan Shephard. Or, more likely, is the list of drivers on the Internet list incomplete or contain some errors?

That’s what I could piece together this morning before today’s 1:00 starting time.  Any race fans out there who can add more to the story?

Addendum: May 28, 2017

Jack found a website, Racing-Reference.info, with the results of the 1983 Mello Yello 300 that include cars 76 and 47 driven, respectively, by Butch Lindley and Randy Tissot.

Another “Morton Mystery” (that we didn’t know we had) has been solved!

Another known unknown: Frank Lloyd Wright’s “The Research Tower”

North Carolina Governor Luther Hodges and several unidentified men pose in front of the globe on the grounds of S. C. Johnson and Sons Company in early May 1958. Frank Lloyd Wright was the architect for The Research Tower, opened in 1950, seen in the background. Photograph by Hugh Morton, May 1 or 2, 1958.

North Carolina Governor Luther Hodges and several unidentified men pose in front of the globe on the grounds of S. C. Johnson and Sons Company in early May 1958. Frank Lloyd Wright was the architect for The Research Tower, opened in 1950, seen in the background. Photograph by Hugh Morton, May 1 or 2, 1958.

Another serendipitous discovery unveiled itself last Friday afternoon, and so another Morton Mystery has been solved.  (Well at least partially, and not all by itself; I had to do some digging.)  Yesterday and today just so happen to be the fifty-ninth anniversary of the event depicted, so I’m afraid there’s not time for me to do an extensive story.  So I present the images “as is” with a bit of background.  We can all contribute to the story and possible identifications in the comments for this post.

Last Friday while I was examining 120 format negatives in the Morton collection, I saw an envelope labeled “Gov. Hodges — Racine, Wisc. (factory visit)” with a date of May 2, 1958.  As I looked through the negatives I immediately recognized one of the images as being very similar to a color slide (below), which happens to be in the online collection.

Until now, the description of this photograph was "NC Governor Luther H. Hodges being greeted by men, probably at a hotel. Taken on "industry hunting" trip with Hodges administration, circa 1960, possibly to Chicago or New York." There are twenty-two slides in the collection with similar captions, now known to be erroneous.

Until now, the description of this photograph was “NC Governor Luther H. Hodges being greeted by men, probably at a hotel. Taken on “industry hunting” trip with Hodges administration, circa 1960, possibly to Chicago or New York.” There are twenty-two slides in the collection with similar captions, now known to be erroneous.

After looking at all the color slides in that group, a bit of sleuthing led to the discovery that the event was a trip taken by Governor Luther Hodges and several North Carolina businessmen to Chicago with a side trip to Racine, Wisconsin.  Morton made the slide immediately above at the S. C. Johnson and Sons headquarters, probably inside The Administrative Building (built 1936 through 1939) or possibly The Research Tower (built 1944 through 1950).  The buildings are on the list of United States National Historic Landmarks and the United States Register of Historic Places.  Can anyone determine which building interior this?  Any Frank Lloyd Wright experts out there who can help us identify the rest of these images with more specificity? I’m a Frank Lloyd Wright fan (but by no means an expert!) and it’s killing me that I cannot spend more time researching them.

There are twenty-two slides in the lot, and you may examine nine of the “Industry Mission” slides online.  (The slide above is not in the online collection.)  The slides also include scenes of the emissaries’ visit to the Case Corporation factory, also in Racine, where the company made Case-o-matic tractors.  Below is a slide depicting some of travelers along with Governor Hodges, probably at Case.  This image currently is not in the online collection.

Luther Hodges and group, probably during its tour in Racine, Wisconsin. As slide 21 of 22, it's likely at the Case Corporation plant, but the entirety of their tour has not yet been researched. Slide 22 has a hand-written label "Industry Hunting."

Luther Hodges and group, probably during its tour in Racine, Wisconsin. As slide 21 of 22, it’s likely at the Case Corporation plant, but the entirety of their tour has not yet been researched. Slide 22 has a hand-written label “Industry Hunting.”

The following links are to PDF’s of news articles and announcements found thus far:

The_Racine_Journal_Times_Sunday_Bulletin_Sun__Apr_13__1958_

The_Racine_Journal_Times_Sunday_Bulletin_Sun__Apr_27__1958_

The_Gastonia_Gazette_Fri__May_2__1958_

Ella Fitzgerald’s 100th birthday

Ella Fitzgerald with the Chick Webb Orchestra, at the Howard Theatre in Washington, DC.

Ella Fitzgerald with the Chick Webb Orchestra, at the Howard Theatre in Washington, DC.

Today marks the 100 anniversary of Ella Fitzgerald’s birth.  In his book Making a Difference in North Carolina, Hugh Morton included a similar photograph to the one above with the caption,

Ella Fitzgerald, at age 18, sings A Ticket, A Tasket with Chick Webb’s Orchestra.  They played in North Carolina, but this photo is in the Howard Theatre in Washington, D.C.

Hm . . .

Fitzgerald would have been eighteen in 1935 to 1936.  According to Stuart Nicholson’s Ella Fitzgerald: The Complete Biography (2004) and Ella Fitzgerald: The Chick Webb Years & Beyond by Ron Fritts & Ken Vail (2003), Fitzgerald recorded that song for the first time on May 2, 1938 at Decca studios in New York.  Fitzgerald and the Chick Webb Orchestra first performed at the Howard Theatre for one-week engagement that opened on November 22, 1935.  Hugh Morton would have been fourteen years old.  Perhaps this photograph is from a later date?

Another Morton Mystery is at hand.  I learned late in the day that today was Fitzgerald’s 100th birthday, so this will need some follow up.  Can any readers of A View to Hugh fill in some of the story?

Addendum

According to Fritts and Vail, Ella Fitzgerald and the Chick Webb Orchestra also played a one-week engagement at the Howard Theatre from March 26 through April 1, 1937.  Fitzgerald would have been nineteen, just shy of her twentieth birthday., while Hugh Morton would have been sixteen.  It was billed as an “Easter Swing Session” and a “Gay Holiday Revue” with Bardue Ali, Charles Linton, and Taft Jordan.  Fitzgerald and the orchestra returned to the Howard Theatre for another one-week stand from January 28 through February 3, 1938.  The following week, the entourage began a five-week stint in Boston at the Flamingo Room at Levaggi’s Restaurant.  According to Nicholson, Fitzgerald “worked out the outline of ‘A-Ticket, A-Tasket'” at Levaggi’s.”

Fitzgerald and the orchestra’s next one-week stop at the Howard Theatre came on March 31, ending on April 6.  An advertisement for the engagement portrays her as “First Lady of Swing ‘Ella A-Tisket A-Takset Fitzgerald.'”  Webb, however, did not perform; he entered John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore for a back operation.  He left the hospital the following week. Webb would died on June 16, 1939, but Fitzgerald continued to play with his orchestra—which playbills began to list as “her Chick Webb Orchestra” or other such variations. At some point soon there after the design and the initials on the front of the music stands changed to EF.

The next appearance by Fitzgerald at the Howard, according to Fritts and Vail is a one-week gig from March 7 to 13, 1941. This performance seems to be an unlikely candidate for Morton’s negatives. He attended Episcopal High School in Alexandria, Virginia before enrolling at UNC in the autumn of 1939, so his proximity to Washington, D.C. coupled with the release date of “A-Tisket, A-Tasket” favors a twenty-one, soon to be twenty-two, year-old Fitzgerald. If so, then Morton’s negatives capture Fitzgerald on the cusp of an important turning point in her a career.

Taking “A Tisket A Tasket” to Task

In a 1981 interview by Ron Wellburn, Teddy MacRae spoke about the origins of “A-Tisket A-Takset.”  He said, “That was Ella own thing.  It was her own idea. That was her thing that she would sing up in Yonkers. . . . ”  Fitzgerald, born in Newport News, Virginia, was raised in Yonkers from the age of three until her mother died suddenly of a heart attack in 1932.  The lyrics are based up a very old nursery rhyme.  MacRae continued, “We [the orchestra] had nothing to do with that. We called Van [Alexander] to put it down on paper for her, and Van made the arrangements.”

Biographer Robertson, quoting liner notes from the 1986 Swingtime LP Ella Fitzgerald Forever Young, volume 2 (ST 1007) quoted Alexander as saying “I was terribly busy at the time so I did nothing about the tune. But Ella approached me again after about a month, and I went home and put the melody and her lyrics together, copying all the parts myself, and took it to Webb.  He rehearsed the song for about an hour in the afternoon and that very night, from the Savoy, he broadcast it. And that’s how ‘A-Tisket, A-Tasket” was born and popularized.”

For a version of the story from her at the time, we turn to The Ella Fitzgerald Companion (1998) that includes a 1938 New York Post article by Earl Wilson in which Fitzgerald said, “we was playing’ Boston in April, and I says to Al Feldman [the birth name of Van Alexander], our arranger, ‘Look here, I got something terrific! They’re swing’ everything else—why not nursery rhymes?’  I had most of the words wrote out, so we sat down and jammed around till we got the tune, and that’s the way it was.”  Well, that’s Ella’s version of the story.  Up next for yet a different take . . .  the biography First Lady of Song: Ella Fitzgerald for the Record by Geoffrey Fidelman (1994).

In that his biography Fidelman notes that the band had nightly broadcasts of their performances at the Levaggi.  His spin on the story is that Feldman said he was so busy because of the constant need for new material for the radio broadcasts.  “I turned her down flat,” said Feldman recalling when Fitzgerald approached him because of his workload.  Fidelman then notes that Ella again approached Feldman a few days later [not a month as Teddy MacRae recalled.]  Fidelman states Click Webb “put ‘Tasket’ on the air almost immediately and the band played it nightly for almost a month before the May 2 recording date for Decca, and this version has the song’s debut at Levaggi’s not the Savoy.

And of course there’s yet another version of the story that Fidelman refutes with his research.  I cannot sort out all the stories here, but in each of these accounts, “A-Tisket, A-Tasket” comes together after the February 1938 engagement at the Howard Theatre. If Hugh Morton photographed Fitzgerald then, she wasn’t singing the song that burst her into stardom.  Either that, or there was another performance by Ella and the Webb band not recorded in the extensive chronicle constructed by Fritts and Vail.

We may never know . . .

Note: The final two sections added on 26 April

THE Voice of the Tar Heels

Tar Heel Sports Network play-by-play announcer Woody Durham (right) with son Wes Durham (play-by-play announcer for Georgia Tech) after receiving Marvin "Skeeter" Francis Award at 2002 ACC basketball tournament, Charlotte, NC.

Tar Heel Sports Network play-by-play announcer Woody Durham (right) with son Wes Durham (play-by-play announcer for Georgia Tech) after receiving Marvin “Skeeter” Francis Award at 2002 ACC basketball tournament, Charlotte, NC.

Today, April 22, 2017, Carolina’s Woody Durham will receive the Lindsey Nelson Broadcasting Award at the University of Tennessee Orange and White spring football game in Knoxville. This will be just the latest in a long line of awards that fill his trophy case. Woody’s son Wes will be on hand to accept the award for his dad.  On this special day, Morton volunteer contributor, Jack Hilliard, reminisces about his long-time friend and UNC classmate.

Many of the recent reports in the media of Woody Durham’s health issues have described him as “The Voice of the Tar Heels for 40 Years.” While that is true, there is far more to it than that. Woody Durham was, is, and forever will be The Voice of the North Carolina Tar Heels, period. Others will broadcast the play-by-play of the Tar Heel games and will do it well, but none will ever come close to what Woody Durham was able to accomplish . . . the bar is just too high.

I came to work for WFMY-TV in Greensboro on February 6, 1963 and worked until July 24th, when I left for a short tour of active duty with the US Army. When I returned in January, 1964, WFMY’s long-time sports director Charlie Harville had left for the new station in High Point and taking his place was Woody Durham, a classmate from UNC. While at Carolina, I had often watched Woody and news anchors Ray Williams and Dave Wegerek from the WUNC-TV control room in Swain Hall as director Wayne Upchurch directed the evening news. I decided then that I wanted to direct a show like that someday.  But I never imagined that my path would cross with Woody’s and Dave’s down the road.

Woody Durham and Ray Williams on news set, April 19, 1961. (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Photographic Laboratory Collection Photographer: Bill Prouty.)

Woody Durham and Ray Williams on news set, April 19, 1961. (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Photographic Laboratory Collection Photographer: Bill Prouty.)

When I returned to WFMY in ’64, I got a promotion from the floor crew to a control room job—audio and technical director, then assistant director.  And in early November of 1966, I got to direct my first newscast and for me it was magical.  As had been the case back at WUNC-TV, Dave Wegerek anchored the news and Woody Durham anchored the sports.  I had the honor and privilege of working with Dave for four years, and with Woody for almost fourteen, until August of 1977.  During that time with Woody, I saw a master at work.  From a ten-second promotional announcement to a one-hour documentary it was always the same: carefully research, then script it and deliver it with dignity, class, and style. That’s the way Woody has lived his life, with perhaps a bit less emphasis on the scripting part.  And that’s the way he’s approaching his current health struggles.

As most of the Tar Heel Nation will recall, Woody delivered a letter to his many friends and fans on June 1, 2016.  In it he explained his current health condition with primary progressive aphasia, a neurocognitive disorder that affects language expression:

I can still enjoy the company of friends and traveling with my wife, Jean, but I am not able to address groups as I did in the past,” Durham said. “While learning of this diagnosis was a bit of a shock for Jean and me, and yes, quite an ironic one at that, it also brought a sense of relief to us in terms of understanding what was happening to me and how best to deal with it.

Goodness knows, Tar Heel fans have heard him often over the years telling the Tar Heel story for the Athletic Department, the General Alumni Association, the Tar Heel Sports Network, and you name it, Woody has been there. And as you would likely guess, Woody is using his health issue to help people become aware of aphasia and how it affects individuals and families.

As in the past, I will continue to attend Carolina functions and sporting events as my schedule permits, and be part of civic and other charitable endeavors throughout the state. As part of these events, we want to make people more aware of primary progressive aphasia, and the impact that these neurocognitive disorders can have on individuals, families and friends.

Along with raising awareness, we hope to encourage financial support for continued research and treatment in our state, as well as nationally.

Over the years, Woody has urged us to “go where you go, and do what you do” when a close game was on the line.  As Woody’s friend for more than 50 years, I would urge all to take Woody’s game advice because he is involved in yet another difficult struggle. And in the end, when he wins this battle, (and I choose to believe he will), he can say, as he often has said following a big Tar Heel victory: “Act like you’ve been there before.”

Woody Durham interviews King Rice following win over Duke in the 1991 ACC Tournament. Also in the frame is #32 Pete Chilcutt, and Rick Fox (right). Jim Heavner, Tar Heel Sports Network and CEO of The Village Companies of Chapel Hill can be partially seen in extreme left of the frame.

Woody Durham interviews King Rice following win over Duke in the 1991 ACC Tournament. Also in the frame is #32 Pete Chilcutt, and Rick Fox (right). Jim Heavner, Tar Heel Sports Network and CEO of The Village Companies of Chapel Hill can be partially seen in extreme left of the frame.

I think it’s appropriate that we update Woody’s progress on the web site which is everything Hugh Morton. Woody was a Hugh Morton photo subject often and during the 2005-2006 UNC basketball season, Woody gave us periodic reports on Hugh’s condition.

On October 5, 2013, there was a very special event at the Turchin Center on the campus of Appalachian State University in Boone. I was honored to be a panelist along with Betty McCain, Robert Anthony, and Woody Durham.  Our topic: “Hugh Morton and His Photography.”  It was a magical afternoon . . . one to forever remember.

So on this special day I say: “Best wishes, dear friend, our thoughts and prayers are with you, Jean, and family.”

He came to Chapel Hill to argue with someone

Leon Henderson (right), head of the Office of Price Administration established within the Office for Emergency Management of the United States Government by Executive Order 8875 on August 28, 1941. Henderson was the speaker for the Carolina Political Union's sixth anniversary on 15 April 1942 in Memorial Hall at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. This photograph appears in the May 1942 ALUMNI REVIEW with caption headline "Have a Cigar!" and caption, "Evidently Price-Administrator Leon Henderson is not having to worry about cigar rationing. Here he is conferring with student leaders Ridley Whitaker, chairman of the Carolina Political Union, who hails from Goldsboro; Hobart McKeever of Greensboro, who was one of the candidates for presidency of the University Student Body; and Lou Harris of New Haven Conn., vice-president of the CPU. Mr. Henderson was one of the series of speakers brought to campus this year by student organizations." A slightly different Morton photograph of this group appeared in the 10 May issue of THE DAILY TAR HEEL.

Leon Henderson (right), head of the Office of Price Administration established within the Office for Emergency Management of the United States Government by Executive Order 8875 on August 28, 1941. Henderson was the speaker for the Carolina Political Union’s sixth anniversary on 15 April 1942 in Memorial Hall at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. This photograph appears in the May 1942 ALUMNI REVIEW with caption headline “Have a Cigar!” and caption, “Evidently Price-Administrator Leon Henderson is not having to worry about cigar rationing. Here he is conferring with student leaders Ridley Whitaker, chairman of the Carolina Political Union, who hails from Goldsboro; Hobart McKeever of Greensboro, who was one of the candidates for presidency of the University Student Body; and Lou Harris of New Haven Conn., vice-president of the CPU. Mr. Henderson was one of the series of speakers brought to campus this year by student organizations.” A slightly different Morton photograph of this group appeared in the 10 May issue of THE DAILY TAR HEEL.

Yesteryear is filled with those whose names today mean nothing to most, but in their day were lightning rods.  Leon Henderson is one of those people.

Henderson became a member of Franklin Roosevelt’s inner circle, perhaps the result of his 1937 memorandum “Boom and Bust” written when he was Director of Research and Planning with the National Recovery Administration.  Roosevelt appointed him to the Securities and Exchange Commission in 1939, and in 1941 to head the Office of Price Administration.  John Kenneth Galbraith, a historically important economist, public official, and diplomat, begins Chapter 8, “Washington, 1940,” of his autobiography A Life in Our Times: Memoirs (Houghton Mifflin Company, 1981):

Leon Henderson was slightly under average height, of rather more than average width, and he seemed always to be adjusting his pants, pulling a little on his belt as though this would reduce his waistline.  Perhaps because they had to be so large at his stomach, his trousers were always very loose below.  They flopped when he walked or the wind blew.  The rest of Leon’s attire was somewhat more disorderly.  He shaved regularly but without precision.  His face altered between an expression of unconvincing belligerence and one of shocked, unbelieving innocence, and sometimes he affected both at the same time.  Mostly, however, he favored the belligerent expression, and this he sought to reinforce with a sharply jutting cigar that he rolled in his mouth but rarely smoked.  He was highly intelligent, with a strong retentive mind.  After a few minutes’ study of a paper on any subject, however complex, he not only had absorbed it for all needed use but could give convincingly the impression that he had written it himself.

It was during 1940 that Galbraith would become Henderson’s deputy when he served on Roosevelt’s National Defense Advisory Commission.  Among those serving on the commission with Henderson was Harriet Elliot, Dean of Women at the Woman’s College of the University of North Carolina (now UNC Greensboro).

Galbraith devotes many pages of his first-hand accounts surrounding Henderson and his role in determining American economic policies during the critically important years from the mid 1930s into the first year of the United States’ direct involvement in the second World War.  Galbraith attributes Henderson as the person “who first voiced the thought that having a little inflation was like being a little pregnant” during “the almost paranoiac concern of 1940 and 1941 over inflation.”

Word that Leon Henderson would visit the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill first appeared in The Daily Tar Heel on April 5, 1942.  Ridley Whitaker, chair of the Carolina Political Union, a non-partisan and non-political student group formed in 1936, announced that three important men had been sign to speak during the week of April 23:

Whitaker noted that past invited speakers had been “reluctant to talk,” but that these men would. “We’re having those men down to talk.  They were signed with that purpose.  Henderson has already wired that he’s coming here because he wants someone to argue with him.”  Harriet Elliot would introduce Henderson.

The Daily Tar Heel reporter Paul Komisaruk, who covered the Henderson story during the next two weeks, describe Henderson as “More colorful than Davis” and “clearly one of ‘America’s New Bosses,’ who with his control of prices profoundly influences the cost of living in every home in America.”  Komisaruk was not exaggerating, and he attributes Henderson’s “Boom or Bust” [sic] memorandum to Henderson’s rise to Roosevelt’s “inner-brain trust.”

Within a week, Komisaruk reported that Henderson’s visit would be moved up to April 15, a date which also marked the sixth anniversary of the Carolina Political Union.  Henderson’s “pressing duties in Washington” necessitated the change.  Komisaruk wrote, “Holding down the most difficult and delicate job in Washington, the quick-tempered Henderson will explain to students and visiting dignitaries, the Congressional battles over price-fixing that rocked the halls of Congress, and still, to develop into the biggest domestic issue of the war.”  He also reported that Whitaker had developed the evening’s program to include a banquet and a reception, and that attendees would include Governor J. Melville Broughton and Josephus Daniels, who had been the United States Ambassador to Mexico from April 1933 until November 1941 and who was at that time the editor of his family-controlled newspaper The News and Observer in Raleigh.

On the day prior to Henderson’s visit, The Daily Tar Heel editorial staff column included a segment titled “A Man Who Knows . . .” in which the editors wrote, “This is the man who can tell you why Lenoir Hall prices are going up and when they will stop.  He doesn’t speak with an accent and he can’t sing the praises of the fighting soldiers, but he can tell you the effect of the war effort on the consumer.”

On the day of Henderson’s trip to Chapel Hill, Kamisaruk noted that Henderson was departing Washington “in the midst of a growing storm over issues pertaining to setting a ceiling on labor’s wages.”  He expected Henderson “to explain the stand he took last week before the War Labor Board, when he warned that a ceiling must be set or the country will be faced with ‘devastating inflation,’ that may cause the US to lose the war.”  Kamisaruk also noted that “political observers” say that “Henderson’s warnings about inflation and frozen wages are not to be taken lightly despite the violent recriminations they have brought from labor leaders throughout the country. They point to the depression of 1937 that Henderson anticipated and warned about, and was ridiculed for until the ‘Henderson depression’ came right along as he said it would.”  Kamisaruk concluded with an unattributed quotation: “his idealism springs out of the soil of harsh facts.  And the harshest of these facts are prices, prices, prices.”

An example of opposition to Henderson can be seen in Ray Tucker’s syndicated column “National Whirligig” for April 15.  In a section he titled “Sleuths” Tucker noted that since February 17, 1941 when the “first move to regulate the main factors underlying our artificial war economy,” Henderson had “issued one hundred and six permanent rulings and fifteen temporary decrees.” Tucker took exception to these, noting that “the rapidity with which prohibitions have had to be extended into the retail field is what reflects graphically the failure of the present philosophy.”  According to Tucker, between March 1941 to March 1942, wholesale costs had risen nineteen percent and living costs twelve percent.  Tucker feared the installation of a “more drastic regime will flood the country with a locustlike army of regulators and sleuths,” concluding “But this condition appears to be a necessary touch of totalitarianism.”

Komisaruk’s coverage of Henderson’s evening on campus noted that he delivered only “perfunctory remarks, and promptly announced that the floor was open to discussion.” Henderson had indeed come to Chapel Hill to argue. “Spectators fired a barrage of questions,” one of which concerned the forty-hour work week. The Associated Press picked up this nugget, as printed in The Burlington Times.  The AP noted that Henderson believed suspension of the 40-hour week would decrease production because, “I don’t believe human beings will respond a 10 per cent cut.”  He also said the nation might be forced to adopt a general sales tax, which he did not favor, unless wages were stabilized.

"Unaccustomed as I am . . . " is the quotation printed on the "Discussion Groups" opening section page in the 1942 YACKETY YACK. On the facing page is this Hugh Morton photograph, cropped here as it is in the yearbook. The photograph is not captioned. It depicts Leon Henderson (left) and Ridley Whitaker, Chairman of the student group Carolina Political Union. Whitaker was identified from other photographs in the collection and within the YACKETY YACK, but the identity of Henderson was unknown until researching this blog post.

“Unaccustomed as I am . . . ” is the quotation printed on the “Discussion Groups” opening section page in the 1942 YACKETY YACK. On the facing page is this Hugh Morton photograph, cropped here as it is in the yearbook. The photograph is not captioned. It depicts Leon Henderson (left) and Ridley Whitaker, Chairman of the student group Carolina Political Union. Whitaker was identified from other photographs in the collection and within the YACKETY YACK, but the identity of Henderson was unknown until researching this blog post.

Morton's negative without cropping.

Morton’s negative without cropping.

The Daily Tar Heel also reported that a Henderson answer to one questioner “drew roars of laughter” when asked for “a few words about that ‘great American patriot Martin Dies.'” (Martin Dies Jr. was a co-creator and chairman of the House Committee Investigating Un-American Activities.)  Henderson replied, “. . . it always happens once an evening—a question the speaker can not answer glibly.  I can only repeat what I have said on other occasions. ‘I will eat on the steps of the Treasury building at high noon any organizations I have belonged to that Martin Dies proves is subversive.” He added with a smile, “Of course there are some high school groups I belong to that his flat-feet haven’t gotten around to inspecting yet.”

Detail from the only other negative found thus far from Leon Henderson's speech in Memorial Hall. The woman in the background of each image is presumably Harriot Wiseman Elliot, Dean of Women at the Woman's College of the University of North Carolina in Greensboro.

Detail from the only other negative found thus far from Leon Henderson’s speech in Memorial Hall. The woman in the background of each image is presumably Harriot Wiseman Elliot, Dean of Women at the Woman’s College of the University of North Carolina in Greensboro.

A few days after Henderson’s evening in Chapel Hill, The Daily Tar Heel opinion column noted that “Memorial hall overflowed . . . for the CPU’s first speech of the spring quarter.  There were many who expressed disappointment at Mr. Henderson’s speech and then there were those who felt it to be the first speech of the year during which you had to think to be able to understand what was being said.  Regardless of what opinions are being batted around campus, Leon Henderson’s address goes down as one of the meatiest of the year.”

Henderson’s story looms larger than A View to Hugh can tackle.  In short, the midterm elections of 1942 saw Democrats lose nine seats in the United States Senate and forty-three in the House of Representatives.  Democrats still maintained a significant majority, but it was the smallest since Roosevelt’s first election a decade earlier. In V was for Victory: Politics and American Culture During World War II, author John Morton Blum cites a survey taken of “Democratic Senatorial and Congressional candidates, whether they were victorious or not” by Edwin W. Pawley, then Secretary of the Democratic National Committee.  Blum describes the polling as “probably the shrewdest and most self-interested postelection [sic] analysis that Roosevelt received.”  Pawley reviewed the replies and compiled a list of five factors that contributed to the Democratic Party losses.  Number three on the list was “Resentment of O.P.A. Particularly of Mr. Henderson.  This was the most universal and serious complaint of all . . . It appears from the letters that the complaint is directed rather at Mr. Henderson and his attitude and methods than at the abstract question of . . . rationing and price control . . . .”  Pawley suggested the complaints against Henderson were “correctable” and Blum states that “Roosevelt got the message.”

In December 1942 Henderson called Galbraith and others to his office where they learned of Henderson’s intention to resign.  He stated that his health, and particularly his eyesight, would not permit him to continue.  Henderson didn’t expect anyone to believe that, so he kept repeating it “with increasing emphasis and indignation. In fact he was persuaded that there would be ever more severe attacks on our front and that he could blunt them by removing himself from the scene.”

Looking back, Galbraith believed Henderson was “never completely happy again” and that “the debt owed to Henderson for preparing the civilian economy for World War II has never been even partially recognized.  Had it not been for his bold, intelligent actions and those he authorized, civilians would have suffered.  And so assuredly would those who did the fighting.”

CORRECTION: This post was edited on 17 April 2017.  In the opening quote from Galbraith, the word tentative was changed to retentive.

Morton photographs of Augusta National

Yesterday while looking through Sheet Film Box P081/C-24 in the Hugh Morton collection, I came across the above color negative labeled “Augusta Nat’l for John Wms.”  Today, coincidentally, is the opening round of the Masters Tournament, so I had the negative digitized for posting on A View to Hugh.  Turning to the finding aid to see what additional material on Augusta National might be in the collection, I found the following:

Roll Film Box P081/35C-6

  • Envelope 6.4-6-1, “Golf, Augusta,” 1971, Color 35mm roll film negatives, 35 images

Roll Film Box P081/120C-5

  • Envelope 6.4-4-1, “Augusta” (mostly scenic golf course), 1971?, Color 120 roll film negatives, 31 images
  • Envelope 6.4-4-10A, “Augusta National for John Williams” (golf course), 1970s-early 1980s, Color 120 roll film negatives, 6 images

Some of the images depict a foursome and others playing the course; many other negatives are scenic views.  The images didn’t seem to merit scanning them all just to select a few to use for the blog, but if anyone is ever looking for images of the Augusta National circa 1971 (the 35mm negatives are labeled Spring 1971 but the reaming dates are estimates), you may aways request to see them or have them digitized.  One of the negatives, however, depicted a gentleman sitting outside a door with the nameplate “John H. Williams.”

So two question remained: Who is John Williams and what is his connection to Hugh Morton? According to his obituary from May 2013, Williams “was recognized nationally as one of the great financial minds and deal-makers in America during the 1960s and 1970s.”    The portrait of Williams in his obituary looks very much like the man pictured above, so it’s safe to say this is photograph of Williams at Augusta National.

Based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Williams was co-founder, president, and chief executive officer of The Williams Companies from 1949 to 1971, and chairman and CEO from 1971 to 1979.  When he retired, the company’s assets were $2 billion.  Listed among his many accomplishments and associations: Williams served on the board of Augusta National Golf Club . . . and “Grandfather Golf and Country Club and Linville Golf Club of Linville, NC.”  At the time of his death, Williams and his wife resided in both Tulsa and Linville.  And therein lies his connection to Hugh Morton.  Turning back to the Morton collection finding aid, there are thirty-one entries for John Williams spanning the 1960s through the 1980s.

That’s what I discovered after a little investigation.  Please leave a comment if you would like to add to the story.

Putting a “value” on the Gate City

Interior of Greensboro Coliseum before the March 4, 1977 ACC Men's Basketball Tournament semifinal game between UNC and NC State.

Interior of Greensboro Coliseum before the March 4, 1977 ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament semifinal game between UNC and NC State.

There has been an ample amount of media ink and airtime since Syracuse University Head Basketball Coach Jim Boeheim made his comments about Greensboro and the Atlantic Coast Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament back on March 8.  Following his team’s loss to Miami in the quarterfinals, Boeheim went before the media and bashed the “Gate City” as the ACC Tournament site, saying: “. . . There’s no value in playing Greensboro, none. It’s there because the league’s been there and the office is there, and they have 150 people that the ACC needs. That’s why it’s there. It should not be there.”

As one would expect in this day and age, Greensboro city officials—including Mayor Nancy Vaughn—came back in force on Twitter tweeting, “We kindly disagree. But I guess you can lose in the 1st round anywhere. At lease it’s a quick ride home.”  In a later statement Mayor Vaughn added: “Unfortunately for Syracuse they didn’t stay around long enough to experience the Greensboro value.”

It seems history might be on the Gate City’s side.  Greensboro has hosted the ACC Tournament twenty-eight times going back to 1967 and has hosted the NCAA Tournament first and second round games twelve times going back to 1976. And two weeks after the Greensboro Coliseum hosted the 1974 ACC event, they hosted the thirty-sixth annual NCAA semifinals and championship game. So as the UNC Tar Heels head to Phoenix for the 79th annual NCAA Final Four, Morton collection volunteer Jack Hilliard looks back at that 1974 tournament that put Greensboro in the national spotlight on March 23rd and 25th, 1974.

NC State cheerleaders displaying a banner that reads"You are in Wolfpack Country" before the start of the NC Stave versus UCLA 1974 NCAA Mens' Basketball National Semifinal at the Greensboro Coliseum, on March 23.

NC State cheerleaders displaying a banner that reads”You are in Wolfpack Country” before the start of the NC Stave versus UCLA 1974 NCAA Mens’ Basketball National Semifinal at the Greensboro Coliseum, on March 23.

It wasn’t called the “Final Four” in 1974—that term would first appear a year later—but in mid-March, four regional-winning teams came into the Greensboro Coliseum to compete in the thirty-sixth annual NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship.  The road to Greensboro started on March 9 with twenty-five teams looking to upset defending NCAA champion, UCLA.  Two weeks later the list was down to four teams headed to the Gate City to do battle: UCLA from the West Region, North Carolina State from the East, Marquette from the Mideast, and Kansas from the Midwest.

NBC-TV Sports was in the house with legendary broadcaster Curt Gowdy calling the game.  At the media table was the Coliseum’s announcer Johnny Phelps, a sports anchor at Greensboro’s WFMY-TV.  Hugh Morton, typically on the floor for basketball games, photographed from the stands.

A moment before tip-off of the 1974 NCAA National Semifinal basketball game at Greensboro Coliseum, Greensboro, NC. North Carolina State University played the University of California at Los Angeles, March 23, 1974.

A moment before tip-off of the 1974 NCAA National Semifinal basketball game at Greensboro Coliseum, Greensboro, NC. North Carolina State University played the University of California at Los Angeles, March 23, 1974.

Head Coach John Wooden’s UCLA squad had won nine of the last ten NCAA tournament championships and opened play against Norm Sloan’s NC State Wolfpack, a team the Bruins had beaten earlier in the season by eighteen points, snapping a twenty-nine-game winning streak for the ‘Pack.  State was accustomed to winning in the Greensboro Coliseum, having won the ACC Tournament a couple of weeks earlier with a 103-to-100 overtime victory over “Lefty” Driesell’s Maryland Terps.  Hugh Morton and Smith Barrier, in their 1981 book, The ACC Basketball Tournament Classic, called the 1974 ACC final the “Greatest Game Ever.”  I believe most of the 15,451 screaming fans in attendance would have agreed.

The NCAA semifinal game between State and UCLA turned out to be a classic as well. It was a two-overtime affair with State, led by All-American David Thompson, finally winning 80 to 77. UCLA lost a five-point lead near the end of regulation play and a seven-point lead in the second overtime.  The game is number thirteen on the USA Today “Greatest 63 games in NCAA Tournament history.”  UCLA’s All-American Bill Walton, who scored twenty-nine points and grabbed eighteen rebounds in the semifinal game, calls it, the most disappointing loss of his entire basketball career.

UCLA All America center Bill Walton shoots over the outstretched arm of NC State's Tommy Burleson, as NC State's Moe Rivers (#10) focuses on Walton. In the foreground, NC State's David Thompson tries to out position UCLA's Dave Meyers. Hugh Morton's game-action photographs focused on the two seven-foot centers, this being his best shot.

UCLA All America center Bill Walton shoots over the outstretched arm of NC State’s Tommy Burleson, as NC State’s Moe Rivers (#10) focuses on Walton. In the foreground, NC State’s David Thompson tries to out position UCLA’s Dave Meyers. Hugh Morton’s game-action photographs focused on the two seven-foot centers, this being his best shot.

The second semifinal game pitted Kansas, coached by Ted Owens, against Al McGuire’s Marquette Warriors (they’re called the “Golden Eagles” today.)  Marquette came away a winner 64 to 51, thus setting up the championship game between the Wolfpack and the Warriors. Most fans would say that State and UCLA played the championship game on March 23, but two days later, State met Marquette for the real championship.  The contest was close in the first half, but State pulled away in the second.  The Wolfpack led by nineteen at one point, finishing with a twelve-point win, 76 to 64.

UCLA won the “Third Place” game, 78 to 61, as Bill Walton closed out his college career. In a 1987 interview with then basketball broadcaster Billy Packer, Walton said of the lost to State: “We were incredibly disappointed. You just don’t have the opportunity to win championships that often and when you do and lose, it changes your life.”

NC State finished the ’73-’74 season as national champion for the first time with a 30-and-1 record.  They became only the fifth school in history to win the national championship playing in its home state—in Greensboro, NC—slightly more than seventy-five miles from its home court in Raleigh.

And, oh yes, Greensboro is scheduled to host the ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament again in 2020.  Coach Boeheim, who said he would likely retire following the 2017- 2018 season, has now signed a contract extension beyond the end of that season.  So it looks like he might once again have the opportunity to enjoy—or endure—yet another ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament in Greensboro—a city he said he loves, backtracking the day after his March 8 postgame remarks.