Graduation weekend is upon UNC’s class of 2015, and this year’s graduates will be walking the brick walkways on campus as students for their final times. These times are special—they’ll look at the old buildings that until now were often taken for granted, but will now take on a new meaning.
Soon after returning to Wilmington from the South Pacific during World War II, Hugh Morton revisited the UNC campus and photographed many of the buildings he grew to know as a student during the autumn of 1939 and the early 1940s. The November 1946 issue of The Alumni Review featured on its cover a Morton photograph of the Morehead-Patterson Bell Tower—his first credited post-war AR cover. Its caption read, “The cover picture is another photograph by Hugh Morton ’43, the Wilmington realtor who continues to practice his college hobby of photography. Recently, he presented to the Alumni Office a half dozen new pictures of familiar campus scenes. . . .” The photograph of South Hall below appeared in the April 1947 issue of the magazine, and was likely one of those six photographs. Last August, Morton collection volunteer Jack Hilliard wrote a post titled The best of times: the “Golden Era” at UNC (1945-1950) where we featured those photographs. The online collection of Morton photographs currently contains thirty-seven views of South Building.
In a few months, the incoming class of 2019 will stroll the brick pathways within the stone walls of Carolina, with their own discoveries awaiting them. Today, Jack recalls his first introduction to South Building and one of its occupants when he was a freshman.
On a side note, if you attend this coming Saturday’s 2015 Spring Reunion Weekend activities, please stop by Wilson Library between 1:00 and 5:00 for our special open house. Each year I scan approximately 100 negatives from the UNC “Photo Lab” collection made 50 years earlier. The images run on continuous loop, so you may enter and leave as your schedule permits. This year features the 1964–1965 academic year. I will be there and would enjoy meeting readers of A View to Hugh. During your trip to Wilson Library you will also be able to
- browse yearbooks while listening to country, rock, rhythm and blues music from 1965 provided by the Southern Folklife Collection;
- visit special exhibitions “The Hidden Campus: Archaeological Glimpses of the UNC Campus in the Nineteenth Century” in the North Carolina Collection Gallery, and “Before They Were Diamonds: Highlights from the Eastern Kentucky African American Migration Project,” presented in the Saltarelli Exhibit Room by the Southern Historical Collection;
- stroll though the exhibit “100 Years of Carolina Alumni Review”‘ covers, which includes a few Hugh Morton photographs; and
- refresh yourself with some light snacks.
Most Tar Heels, young and old, will recognize the campus building that stands at 200 East Cameron Avenue. It’s one of the oldest buildings on campus and sits atop Polk Place. Today it has huge columns that face south and frame the front door. The building currently is used for administrative offices, such as the Office of Chancellor Carol Folt. Of course, we’re talking about South Building, a true historic symbol of UNC life.
The original design for the building was based on Princeton’s Nassau Hall, and the cornerstone was laid on April 4, 1798. The building was to be the main structure of a proposed quad. Construction began in 1799, but a shortage of funding and some political wrangling brought that progress to a halt in 1800 and nothing was accomplished for the next three years. Construction was finally completed in 1814. At the time of completion, there was a dire need for teaching and living space for the growing university population, so South Building began to fill some of those needs. The third floor offered much needed dormitory space and future United States President James Knox Polk occupied a room at the southwest corner in 1818. The second floor housed a “Library and Philosophical Chamber,” as well as the study for University President Joseph Caldwell. Other areas of the building contained classrooms, a chemistry lab, and space for the debating societies.
During the Civil War, South Building sheltered Union cavalry troops who were responsible for major damage to the building. Mrs. Cornelia Phillips Spencer described the destructive scene:
Gangs . . . spend the nights in the Old South Building, rioting, shouting, drinking. You have no idea of the degradation. The Halls and Libraries are broken into at all times, and I am told that the Phi Library . . . has its books scattered all over the building. It makes me heartsick to write about it.
It’s not surprising that on March 20, 1875, upon hearing that the General Assembly had passed the bill for the financial reorganization and support to reopen the university, Mrs. Spencer, accompanied by friends and pupils, climbed to the attic of South Building and rang the bell signaling the glorious reopening. She was also celebrating her birthday on that March day.
In the 1920s, following the relocation to South Building of the president’s office, the University administration decided the building needed a more authoritative design.
Architect Arthur Nash was brought in to establish the new look. He enlarged the windows and substituted, in place of the small chimneys, four large ones. His most important addition was the grand south portico with the four columns that I mentioned earlier. These changes, completed in 1927, became South Building’s south face that we see today as we stand on the steps of Wilson Library and look across campus.
I recall my first days as an incoming freshman at UNC in the fall of 1958 with my orientation group. We were taken to South Building and shown where our General College advisers had their offices, most of which were on the second floor. We were also introduced to a very special lady who sat at a desk in the rotunda. Her name was Mrs. Gustave Harrer, also known as “The Information Lady.” During a 20 year period from 1943 until 1963, this gracious and kindly lady helped thousands of students who were worried, puzzled, angry, or lost. Her white hair, her ready-smile, and reassuring manner instantly inspired confidence . . . and she seemed to be able to solve the most difficult of problems. Having been on the Carolina campus since her arrival in Chapel Hill in 1915 when her husband became chairman of the Classics Department, Mrs. Harrer was the perfect choice to greet students and visitors to South Building, “the information desk of the University.”
Happy Earth Day 2015. Hugh Morton photographed in many places around the globe, but the planet itself was not one of them . . . at least not from outer space. Looking for an image to post for Earth Day, I searched the online collection for “earth” . . . then “globe” . . . then “global.” The last search term led to today’s post.
Since 1986 the Institute for Emerging Issues at North Carolina State University has held an annual Emerging Issues Forum. Hugh Morton attended the forum in February 1990 when the theme was “Global Changes in the Environment: Our Common Future.” According to the program published after the forum, there were approximately 1,500 attendees. Featured speakers included Al Gore, 45th Vice President of the U.S.; Carl Sagan, former director of the Laboratory of Planetary Studies at Cornell University; Steve Cowper, former governor of Alaska; and Madeline Kunin, former governor of Vermont.
After searching through the Morton collection finding aid to see what other years he may have attended the forum, it appears that was the only time he went—or at least photographed, but I cannot imagine Morton attending such an event and not taking at least one photograph. There are 68 negatives from the 1990 forum, filed in three locations in the collection with the following descriptions:
- Roll Film Box P081/35BW-5, Envelope 2.6.270-5-1: Gore, Al at NCSU Emerging Issues Forum (with Steve Cowper, etc.), 1990, Black and white 35mm roll film negatives, 6 images;
- Roll Film Box P081/35BW-6, Envelope 2.6.602-5-1: “Sagan, Carl, Governor Jim Hunt, North Carolina State” (Emerging Issues Forum?), 1990s, Black and white 35mm roll film negatives, 6 images; and
- Roll Film Box P081/35BW-8, Envelope 2.8.7-5-11: Emerging Issues Forum, North Carolina State University, 8-9 February 1990, Black and white 35mm roll film negatives, 56 images.
A Chapel Hill “Rite of Spring” will be carried out in Charlotte this year. Head Football Coach Larry Fedora will take his Tar Heels to the Queen City for the 70th anniversary Blue-White football game because the renovations being carried out at Kenan Stadium will not be completed in time for the game on Saturday, April 11, 2015. [4/11/15 Update: according to GoHeels.com, the team is calling this a “open spring football scrimmage,” adding “Carolina will not have a traditional Spring Game in Chapel Hill due to ongoing repairs to the Kenan Stadium playing surface.”]
The annual spring game goes all the way back to 1946 when then Head Coach Carl Snavely put his post World War II squad on display in Kenan Stadium. Hugh Morton, as you might have suspected, photographed some of these early contests. Unlike his negatives for UNC basketball’s version of the Blue-White game, which are identified, Morton did not label his football negatives for the spring outing. I turned to newspapers looking for articles and images, then looked through hundreds of unlabeled negatives; Morton collection volunteer Jack Hilliard looked over news reports from the Daily Tar Heel, Greensboro Daily News, Wilmington Morning Star, and Charlotte News. The result? Jack’s piece for today’s post on the beginnings of a Tar Heel tradition . . . and a few more identified negatives than we had beforehand.
Thirteen days after UNC Head Football Coach Carl Snavely got his Valentine wish that Charlie Justice would “come out for the team,” a practice game was held in Kenan Stadium between the Tar Heels and the Guilford College Quakers coached by Doc Newton. About a thousand students showed up despite the cold, damp, windy weather. The students were surprised when Snavely sent his team onto the field and Justice remained on the sideline. The modified format game gave Guilford the ball first and they did well. When the Tar Heels took over the ball, it was at their own 34-yard-line. On the sideline, Snavely snapped, “Justice, try tailback for a while.” As Justice ran onto the field, the crowd came to its feet. The Quaker defense dug in. Justice was on trial.
As everybody suspected, Justice got the snap. He started out to his right, then peeled off between the tackle and end, and was into the secondary. Two Quaker linebackers missed tackles, and now Justice was in position to size up the safety man. He ran directly at this last line of resistance, applied a head and shoulder fake and breezed past, then angled into the end zone. There was stunned silence in Kenan Stadium as the onlookers tried to figure out what they had just seen. Then a spontaneous cheer went up.
The United Press story in the Greensboro Daily News issue of February 28, 1946 said: “If his initial showing is any indication, Charlie Justice, the University of North Carolina’s new football star, can expect to cause opponents plenty of unrest.”
As the 1946 spring practice came to a close, Coach Snavely along with the University Monogram Club staged something new. They divided the 70-man football squad into two teams for a special game in Kenan Stadium. It was billed as the first annual Blue-White game and was played on May 4, 1946 before 2,000 top-coated fans. Charlie Justice, who had gotten a lot of ink in the papers by now, was assigned to the White team.
The Blue team got the ball first but after about two minutes, they punted. On the first play from scrimmage, with the ball at the White 35, Justice took off around right end. To quote Yogi Berra, “it was déjà vu all over again.” This time the play covered 65 yards. The White team went on to win that first Blue-White game 33 to 0. The ’46 Tar Heels finished the season 8-1-1 and it was “Happy Times are Here Again” in Chapel Hill.
Word of the successful 1946 Blue-White game spread quickly and when the 1947 game rolled around, 7,000 fans turned out on a warm April Saturday. The ’47 game had all appearances of a regular game as two squads of 41 players each met in Kenan on April 26, 1947. Unlike the ’46 game, this game was a tight, hard-fought contest with the White team winning in the end over the Justice-led Blue team 7 to 6. Place-kicker Bob Cox made the difference. It would be Charlie Justice’s only Blue-White loss. Although the 1947 Tar Heels lost 2 games—one to Texas and one to Wake Forest—and they chose not to accept a bowl invitation. Coach Snavely often said he thought his ’47 Carolina team was his best.
By April 29, 1948, Carolina had completed all of its spring practice and work was under way by the Monogram Club for the third annual Blue-White game to be staged in Kenan on May 1st. Once again, Coach Carl Snavely divided his troops into two teams: the White team to be coached by Jim Gill, and the Blue team to be led by Max Reed. This time 10,000 sun-baked fans came out to see what the ’48 Tar Heels had to offer. As it turned out, they had plenty to offer. The White team with Justice and Art Weiner at the controls scored three touchdowns in the first half and added two more in the second, making the final 35 to 7. The third annual Blue-White game introduced a new Carolina tradition. Head Cheerleader Norman Sper presented for the first time on the East Coast the 2,000-student Carolina Card section. They performed eight different stunts, to the delight of the crowd. The 1948 Tar Heels were undefeated: a tie with William & Mary was the only blemish on an otherwise perfect season. The stage was set for the final season of the “Charlie Justice Era,” but it would not be Charlie’s final Blue-White game.
Here’s a PDF of the above news clip: CharlotteNews_19480503_p6B. Only one negative from this trio has been located thus far:
The format for the fourth Blue-White game in 1949 was slightly different from years past. Upperclassmen like Justice and Weiner made up the Blue team, while freshman made up the White team. A Kenan Stadium crowd of 12,000 sat through a first-quarter rain and saw Justice run for one touchdown and pass for two as the “old guys” beat the “rookies,” 21 to 6.
Special guests for this game were 5,000 high school students from across the state.
Photographer Hugh Morton attended several Blue-White games over the years. His classic shot of Justice at the ’49 game (seen at the top of of this article) is a scene many had come to expect in their Sunday papers.
Here’s a PDF of the article and two photographs as they appeared in theMay 2nd edition of The Charlotte News: CharlotteNews_19490502_p4B
The 1949 Tar Heels lost three games during the season but still won the Southern Conference title and played in the 1950 Cotton Bowl on New Year’s Day.
May 6, 1950, UNC’s Monogram Club staged its fifth Blue-White with yet another format change. This time it was the “Old Grads,” vs. the 1950 varsity. As you might guess, Charlie Justice and Art Weiner were co-captains for the “Grads.” 19,000 fans endured 90 degree temperatures and saw Justice steal the show once again, carrying the ball 12 times.
The “Choo Choo” had five punts for an average of 51 yards-per-kick. The star for the varsity was sophomore tailback Ernie Liberati who just happened to be the subject of Hugh Morton’s photo in the Greensboro Daily News issue of May 7, 1950. Morton, in an impromptu interview with Daily News Sports Director Smith Barrier said, “Fish are beginning to bite around Wilmington.” With all the big guns gone, the 1950 Tar Heels struggled, posting a 3-5-2 record for the season.
On April 28, 1951, the UNC Monogram Club staged the sixth Blue-White game in perfect football weather before 11,500 fans in Kenan Stadium. The varsity (White) vs. freshmen (Blue) format was in place once again, and as before the varsity proved to be too much for the “rookies.” Coach George Radman’s White team won 32 to 21. Radman’s assistant coach was Charlie Justice, participating in his sixth Blue-White game. Justice was on Snavely’s staff during the 1951 season before returning to his duties with the Washington Redskins for his second Redskins season in 1952. The ’51 Tar Heels finished the season with a 2 and 8 record. Snavely would have only more season with the Tar Heels.
The Blue-White games just kept on coming and in the1962 game, the Monogram Club brought back the 1950 format with the Varsity (Blue) and Alumni (White). At age 37, Charlie Justice participated in his seventh and final Blue-White game. On April 7, 1962, Justice was used as the Alumni punter and got off punts of 35, 40, 39, 37, and 19 yards. The headline in the Greensboro paper on April 8, 1962 read, “Justice Booms Punts Again,” and the headline on page 219 in the 1963 UNC Yearbook, “ Yackety Yack,” read “Choo-Choo Returns for Alumni Game.”
So, when UNC Head Football Coach Larry Fedora’s 2015 Tar Heels take the field at Rocky River High School in Charlotte at 1 pm on April 11 for the 70th anniversary Blue-White spring game, I choose to believe that Justice, Weiner, Snavely and Morton will be together again, watching a Tar Heel Tradition in Blue and White.
Arthur Smith passed away one year ago today. At the time, I hurriedly started a V2H blog post to mark the occasion. As I worked on it I kept finding more and more interesting material . . . and April 3rd slipped farther and farther into the distance before I just could wrap it up. It’s been sitting in the unpublished drafts section of the blog ever since. Then a week or so ago, volunteer Jack Hilliard sent me post about Arthur Smith for use today. After I finished working on Jack’s piece I dusted off this post, cleaned it up, and published it today even though it could use some more work. The result? A twin bill! This post is mine; the “special connection” post is Jack’s. We hope you enjoy today’s double feature.
For many, if not most, Arthur Smith may not be a household name. Have you seen Deliverance—or played an “air banjo” version of the well-known version called “Dueling Banjos” from the memorable scene in that 1972 movie? If so, then you have a piece of Arthur Smith in the fiber of your being because Smith is the original writer of that song, which he played and recorded with Don Reno as “Fuedin’ Banjos” in 1955.
Arthur Smith was born in Clinton, South Carolina in 1921. The 1930 United States Census enumerated his family in Flat Creek Township in Lancaster County on April 4th, just a few days after Arthur’s 9th birthday. He is the son of Clayton S. Smith and his wife Viola Fields, both North Carolinians by birth. In the 1930 census Arthur had two older and two younger siblings: Ethel, age 13; Oscar, 9; Ruby, 7; and Ralph, 6. Clayton’s occupation is listed as a weaver in a cotton mill.
The most likely matching “Arthur Smith” in the 1940 census shows Arthur as one of three lodgers at home of what looks like Dixon G. and Sybil Stewart (the census taker’s handwriting is difficult to read) at 442 Kennedy Street in Spartanburg, S.C. Stewart and the lodgers all have their occupation listed as “Advertise” and written (again hard to decipher) in the Industry column is “Radio” and what looks like “Vine Herb.” This is a nugget for a future researcher to resolve.
Arthur Smith was already an accomplished musician well before “Fuedin’ Banjos.” When Smith was in eighth grade, he and brothers Ralph and Sonny formed a Dixieland jazz band called The Arthur Smith Quartet. At the beginning their financial prospects were bleak. Smith said during an interview with Don Rhodes for his article “Arthur Smith: a Wide & Varied Musical Career” in the July 1977 issue of Bluegrass Unlimited,
We nearly starved to death until one day we changed our style. We had been doing a daily radio show in Spartanburg, South Carolina, as the “Arthur Smith Quartet.” One Friday morning we threw down our trumpet, clarinet, and trombone and picked up the fiddle, accordion, and guitar. The next Monday we came back on the radio program as “Arthur Smith and the Carolina Crackerjacks.” My brother, Sonny, came up with the name. The Carolina was because we were from South Carolina, and the Crackerjack part came when Sonny found that the word according to the dictionary meant one who is tops in his field.
This would probably be as good a place as any in this story to state that there is no definitive biography Arthur Smith, and much of what is on the Internet or in print is anecdotal, sketchy or brief, and with a fair amount of rehashing of what someone else had already written. Pulling this post together has been a bit of a challenge, so please leave a comment with corrections or clarifications.
When Arthur Smith was in tenth grade, the group made their first recording during a field recording session for RCA Victor in 1938. According to one discography, the recording date was 26 September 1938 at the Andrew Jackson Hotel in Rock Hill, S. C. Smith recalled in the booklet The Charlotte Country Music Story, that their best song from that session was “Going Back to Old Carolina” (Bluebird Records recording B-8304).
Smith must have paid attention to the school books, too, because he was the class’s valedictorian. Smith had an opportunity to attend the United States Naval Academy after graduation, but he declined because he knew he wanted to be a musician.
The band’s success grew and at some point in time, possibly 1941, Smith moved to Charlotte when he and the Crackerjacks became regularly featured on WBT’s country music radio programs, among them probably Carolina Barndance.
As with most born in this era, however, WWII brought disruption and the Crackerjacks disbanded. All three brothers served in the military, Arthur Smith in the Navy. He played in his military band, and it was there that he wrote “Guitar Boogie,” his breakthrough recording that sold more than a million copies in 1945. After the war, the Smith revived the Crackerjacks.
I’ve not found mention of how Hugh Morton and Arthur Smith met, but I hope those that might know will comment below. Morton photographed Smith with and without the Cracker-Jacks (that variant spelling, with and without a hyphen, was often used) on several occasions over many years. Both were born in 1921, and both served in the military during World War II; Morton as a photographer and cameraman in the United States Army 161st Signal Corps, Smith in the United States Navy. The photograph at the top of this post dates from 1952, used to promote the Azelea Festival in WIlmington that year.
Smith and Morton may have met earlier, however, at Singing at the Mountain in 1950. In his book with Edward Rankin, Making a Difference in North Carolina, published in 1988, Hugh Morton recalled that it was around 1950 that Singing on the Mountain had a “big boost” in attendance. Singing’s co-founder Joe L. Hartley soon thereafter gave Smith the designation “Music Master” for the annual event because Smith “played a major role in inviting other outstanding musical groups.” Singing on the Mountain was already growing crowds prior to 1950. A brief article about the 1949 “Singing” published in the Watauga Democrat noted that 25,000 people had attended, the largest crowd to date. The following year, an article in the 29 June 1950 issue of the Wautaga Democrat about that year’s singing described the previous Sunday’s event: “One of the musical highlights during the beautiful summer day was provided by Hillbilly Headliner Arthur Smith and his Crackerjacks from Columbia Broadcasting System and Radio Station WBT, Charlotte. . . . Highway patrolmen reported that during one period around noon, the highways leading to this convention were crowded by cars bumper to bumper, stretching four miles in one direction and three in the other.”
Morton wrote in Sixty Years with a Camera,
Arthur Smith is one of my dear friends, and for thirty consecutive years he was the singing master for “Singing on the Mountain” at Grandfather. He of course wrote the Number 1 banjo song in the world, “Duelling Banjos,” [sic] and the Number 1 guitar piece “Guitar Boogie.” He is also a very religious man, and he plugged the daylights out of the “Singing” and brought big crowds. Mr. Joe Hartley, the founder and chairman of the annual event, thought that his homemade sign out on the highway attracted the people. He never did understand that Arthur Smith’s promotion of the program on television was the reason for the huge crowds.
The next two photographs below may not have been published before this post.
Hugh Morton photographed Smith on numerous occasions, including many made for record album dust jackets. Notice the photography credit for Hugh Morton on back of the following album’s cover . . .
Hugh Morton may be the photographer for Smith’s LP album The Guitars of “Guitar Boogie” Smith published by Starday Records in 1968. There is a 4″ x 5″ color transparency in the Morton collection that is an extremely similar pose to that on the album. Smith moved his hands slightly but his facial expression looks to be identical. I prefer the hand positioning in the one not used on the cover because his right hand is concealed.
Interestingly, CMT used a tightly cropped pose from this sitting in its obituary of Smith. The image source is Getty Images.
There’s a lot more Arthur Smith images to parse through in the Morton Collection, more than can be featured in this post. Needless to say, when someone writes the definitive biography of Arthur Smith. the Hugh Morton collection is a “go to” collection for visual research.
ANY RELATION? The 1940 United States Census enumerated a James Arthur Smith, age ten months, living with his family on Florida Street in Clinton, Laurens County, South Carolina. James Arthur was the second son of Broadus E. and Annie Mae Smith. He had an older brother Edward, age 4 years old. The census taker’s handwriting for his father’s name is hard to decipher, but a Google search revealed a Broadus E. Smith who wrote four church hymns. Is this is likely connection. Broadus’s occupation is listed as a carpenter in the building construction industry.
In February we shared a blog-post about the special connection that Hugh Morton had with Legendary UNC Basketball Coach Dean Smith. Today, April 3, 2015, on the one-year anniversary of the death of another legend named Smith, Morton Collection volunteer Jack Hilliard shares the special connection Hugh Morton had with Music Legend Arthur Smith. In case you landed here first, be sure to check out today’s other post on Arthur Smith by Stephen Fletcher, the second half of today’s doubleheader.
When the folks at Grandfather Mountain staged their 90th Singing on the Mountain festival on June 22, 2014, they dedicated the event to Arthur Smith. Smith had passed away a little over two months before on April 3rd, just two days after his 93rd birthday.
Smith and his “Crackerjacks” had served as Music Masters of the event from about 1950 through the early 1980s. I think it’s safe to say that Smith had a standing invitation from his dear friend Hugh Morton to be a part of every Singing on the Mountain. During the 1960s and ‘70s, Smith was responsible for inviting his friends Johnny and June Carter Cash in 1974 and Rev. Billy Graham in 1962, plus many other famous names. Smith was the featured speaker at the 1991 event.
The 2014 speaker was noted evangelist Leighton Ford who had been the main speaker at the event in 1969 and 1989. Ford built his ‘14 message around the words of some of the gospel songs Smith had written over the years. In an interview before the event, Ford said, “I do plan to include some of Arthur’s songs and thoughts in this, because our faith is a singing faith.” Legendary Charlotte television broadcaster Doug Mayes introduced Rev. Ford. Mayes had helped Clyde McLean serve as the chief announcer on The Arthur Smith Show, which was taped at WBTV, Channel 3 in the Queen City. Mayes also shared some of his memories of Smith and the “Crackerjacks.”
The 2014 musical lineup included a noon tribute to Smith by his son, Clay, and “Brother Ralph” Smith’s sons, Tim and Roddy, playing instrumentals with David Moody of The Moody Brothers. Vocalist Keith Dudley offered several of Smith’s most well-known hymns, and George Hamilton IV, who performed with Smith for years, came in from Nashville and his job as backstage host of the Grand Ole Opry to sing Smith’s most famous hymn, “Acres of Diamonds.” The Cockman Family of Sherrills Ford, NC added several of Smith’s secular hits including “Feudin’ Banjos” and “Guitar Boogie.”
Arthur Smith and Hugh Morton go back a long way. There are pictures in the Morton Online Collection of Smith and his “Crackerjacks” at the 1952 Azalea Festival in Wilmington and a decade or so later on the deck of the Battleship USS North Carolina. But it was in 1962 that the Morton–Smith “team” set out on its most famous project.
In the mid-1950s, the National Park Service was preparing for the final 7.7 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway and the state planned to gain, by its power of eminent domain, a portion of Grandfather Mountain in order to build a road higher on the Mountain than Morton wanted. Here’s how Morton described the situation in his 1988 book, Making a Difference in North Carolina:
To accommodate the requested “high route,” the state condemned additional land and we protested to Chairman A.H. Graham of the North Carolina Highway and Public Works Commission. . . The Chairman promptly arranged for a hearing before the State Highway Commission for the National Parks Service and me.
Almost immediately I received an invitation from WRAL-TV, in Raleigh, to debate the Grandfather Mountain right-of-way controversy with National Parks Director (Conrad) Wirth. . . Later I was notified that Wirth was bringing his engineer, and suggested I bring my engineer or lawyer to even up the sides of the debate. I had neither engineer nor lawyer. So I invited my friend Arthur Smith . . .
Wirth obviously did not know Arthur Smith when I introduced them, and was unaware that he performed daily in nearly every television market in the southeastern United States, including WRAL-TV. The Park Director and his engineer spoke first. . . I made a brief statement and then Arthur Smith, in his Southern drawl said, “When a man like Hugh Morton owns a mountain and loves it like he does, it don’t seem right for a big bureaucrat to come down here from Washington and take it away from him.”
The telephone switchboard at WRAL-TV lit up with support for our position and it was soon obvious that Conrad Wirth had lost the debate. . . . The State Highway Commission voted to return the illegally condemned land.
Hugh Morton almost never promoted himself, but he did try once, with a little help from a few of his friends. Hugh’s longtime friend Charles Kuralt described the start of that effort at the 1996 North Caroliniana Society Award ceremony.
On December 1, 1971, in the shadow of the Capitol in Raleigh, surrounded on a chilly day, by shivering pretty girls in shorts wearing “Morton for Governor” hats and carrying “Morton for Governor” signs, with Arthur Smith playing “Guitar Boogie” for the crowd, with Charlie “Choo Choo” Justice on hand to declare “I have been on Hugh’s team all my life,” Hugh Morton formally declared his candidacy for governor.
Morton chose to withdraw his candidacy a couple of months later. It was likely the only occasion when the Morton–Smith duo failed to achieve its goal.
In March of 1973, Arthur Smith took his syndicated television program to the Holy Land to record shows in Nazareth, Jericho, Mt. Sinai, Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and of course at the River Jordan. The group also visited Rome. Morton, along with wife Julia and daughter Catherine, went along to take photographs that were later used for album covers.
North Carolina Governor Jim Hunt called Hugh Morton in March of 1981. The Governor wanted a 3-cents-a-gallon gasoline tax to finance road improvements. Morton, as always, stepped in to help. Hunt had polling data that said support for the gas tax was weakest among blue collar workers and farmers. The Governor’s plan called for Morton and retired Charlotte banker C.C. Hope to lead an effort to change the opinion of that segment of the population. Well, Hugh Morton had better idea. Rather than banker Hope, why not recruit Arthur Smith? Morton believed that a country music legend like Smith would do better than a banker when trying to convince blue collar workers and farmers to support a gas tax. Smith agreed to take on the challenge. The plan worked; on June 26, 1981, the legislature approved the tax.
Also in 1981, Morton completed work on the award-winning film The Hawk and John McNeely. The music track for that film was done by Arthur Smith and the film was narrated by Woody Durham, “The Voice of the North Carolina Tar Heels” football and basketball teams.
It was a beautiful September day in 1987 when the Blue Ridge Parkway was officially opened for traffic to travel the entire 469.1 miles through 29 Virginia and North Carolina counties. The dedication ceremony brought together again Arthur Smith and Hugh Morton. They had come full circle, from that famous debate 25 years before in Raleigh, to the official dedication at the Linn Cove Viaduct on September 11, 1987.
Almost five years later, on September 2, 1992, another celebration took place at Grandfather Mountain. This time it was the 40th anniversary of the Mile High Swinging Bridge. Many familiar faces turned out for this party as well: Kuralt, Justice, and of course Arthur Smith with guitar in hand to entertain the crowd.
Arthur Smith was best known for his music, but he was a serious Bible student and Sunday school teacher throughout his career. In a January, 1992 book titled Apply it to Life, he shared his practical applications of the Scriptures. By combining his favorite verses of Scripture, humorous stories that he had collected over the years, and ten of his most popular inspirational songs, he was effectively able to apply the messages found in Scripture to one’s everyday life.
“He had a very strong faith and considered being the musical host for the ‘Singing on the Mountain’ to be part of his ministry,” said Harris Prevost, vice president of the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation.
According to Hugh’s wife Julia, Hugh and Arthur had only one serious disagreement during their long friendship. That disagreement came during the campaign to get “Liquor by the Drink” in North Carolina.
Both men were teetotalers, but Morton saw the tourist value in Liquor by the Drink and fought hard to get it approved. He was finally successful in 1978 without Smith’s support, but he never lost Smith’s respect.
From Swinging on the Bridge to Singing on the Mountain . . .
From the Azalea Gardens in Wilmington to the Holy Land and Rome . . .
From the Deck of the “Showboat” to the Linn Cove Viaduct . . .
Hugh Morton and Arthur Smith stood shoulder-to-shoulder carrying out numerous projects and celebrating others across the state of North Carolina for more than 50 years. And on this day, one year after Arthur Smith joined Hugh Morton once again, I choose to believe that their special connection continues.
When The Levine Museum of the New South in Charlotte published its 2002 book The North Carolina Century: Tar Heels Who Made a Difference, 1900-2000, they chose a Hugh Morton portrait of Arthur Smith to support the Smith profile.
On March 18th, 2012 Bill Richards, a colleague who worked in the library’s Digital Production Center, passed away unexpectedly while watching the Tar Heel’s basketball team defeat Creighton University in the “Sweet Sixteen” round of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. In 1982, Bill was the Chief Photographer for the Chapel Hill Newspaper. In 1988, he began working as a photographer and graphic designer in the UNC Office of Sports information. In 1998 he started working in Library Photographic Services, but continued shooting for Sports Information into the 2000s. I am dedicating this blog post, as I have each year since his departure, to Bill who, like Hugh Morton, was an avid UNC basketball fan.
As many also know, Dean Smith, UNC’s revered basketball coach, passed away in February. Hugh Morton’s last photographs made at an NCAA tournament were of Dean Smith’s final press conference after UNC’s 1997 tournament semifinal loss to Arizona in Indianpolis.
In advance of tonight’s Sweet Sixteen match-up between UNC and Wisconsin in Los Angeles, today’s blog post looks at Morton’s many trips to the NCAA’s Men’s Basketball Tournament.
Here’s an interesting factoid from Obscurityville: photographer Hugh Morton was a UNC freshman when the NCAA held its very first men’s basketball tournament in March 1939. Clemson defeated Maryland in the 1939 Southern Conference Tournament; it was Wake Forest, however, with the conference’s best regular season record that the NCAA selected for its eight-team national championship tournament. Wake Forest lost its opening-round game to Ohio State, 64–52.
There was no representative from the Southern Conference in the NCAA tournament the following year. In 1941, UNC lost to Duke in the Southern Conference Tournament, but the NCAA nonetheless selected the “White Phantoms” (the UNC basketball team’s nickname) for its first trip to the national tournament—the only team selected from the twelve southeastern states. During the regular season UNC had posted a 14–1 conference record and were 19–9 overall. UNC’s NCAA tournament appearances that year were of two extremes. They lost 26–20 to Pittsburgh in their opening game played in Madison, Wisconsin. The Yackety Yack yearbook copywriter called it UNC’s “worst exhibition of the year.” The Yack writer then described UNC’s following night performance in the Regional Third Place game as “a sterling display of southern basketball in losing to Dartmouth, 60–59, in the last few seconds.” All-America George Glammack scored 31 points.
In 1942, Morton’s last year as a UNC student, Duke captured the Southern Conference crown. A series of three blog posts on A View to Hugh recounted Morton’s extensive coverage of that tournament. The NCAA did not select Duke, however, as one of the eight tournament teams. In 1943, in what would have been his senior year, Morton was instead a private in the United States Army.
Not until 1946 did a Southern Conference team return to the NCAA tournament. UNC took that honor all the way to the championship game in Madison Square Garden. With his photographic skills now honed by his military experience in the 161st Signal Corps, Hugh Morton photographed the championship match-up, which the Tar Heels lost to Oklahoma A & M 43–40.
Eleven more years transpired before the Tar Heels’ next appearance in the NCAA tournament in 1957. Coach Frank McGuire led UNC to an undefeated season and the national title in the basketball season that became known as “McGuire’s Miracle.” Morton did not attend UNC’s games during that tournament, but he did photograph the team’s return at the Raleigh-Durham Airport.
The frequency of Morton’s attendance at NCAA tournament games began to increase in the mid 1960s. Here’s a list I’ve compiled thus far (it’s “go to press” time!) of Morton’s trips to NCAA tournament games, with some links to the earlier images. Did I miss any? If so let me know and I’ll update the list.
- Duke’s defeat of Connecticut in the 1964 East Regional Final played in Raleigh’s Reynolds Auditorium.
- UNC’s victory over Davidson in the 1968 East Regional Final, also played at Reynold’s Coliseum.
- UNC’s 1969 “Final Four” loss to Purdue in the national semifinal played in Louisville, Kentucky.
- The 1974 national semifinals played in the Greensboro Coliseum, where North Carolina State upset of UCLA in the first round of the Final Four. Morton photographed the game from the stands, from where he also shot some of the Kansas versus Marquette contest. Morton did not photograph N. C. State’s win over Marquette for the national championship.
- 1975 first round win over New Mexico State played at the Charlotte Coliseum.
- The 1977 “Final Four” games versus the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and Marquette University played at The Omni in Atlanta.
- UNC’s 1981 championship loss to Indiana at Philadelphia.
- UNC’s 1982 championship victory over Georgetown at New Orleans.
- UNC’s 1983 defeat of Ohio State and its loss to Georgia in the East Regional Final played at Syracuse’s Carrier Dome.
- UNC’s 1987 loss to Syracuse at the Meadowlands in New Jersey.
- UNC’s 1990 upset over number one seed Oklahoma in the second round of the Midwest Regional.
- UNC’s 1993 national championship win over Michigan, 77–71, in New Orleans, and UNC’s games in Winston-Salem and East Rutherford, New Jersey. It seems Morton did not photograph its opening round game versus East Carolina also played in Winston-Salem.
- UNC’s trip to the 1995 Final Four in Seattle
- Morton’s final trip to the NCAA tournament was to see UNC play at Indianapolis in the 1997 Final Four.
Today, February 19th, marks the 94th anniversary of Hugh Morton’s birth. Nine days from today, February 28th, would have been legendary Tar Heel basketball coach Dean Smith’s 84th birthday. As many if not most of you know, Smith passed away earlier this month on February 7th.
In between those two birthday observances will be a third celebration. On Sunday afternoon, February 22nd, there will be a very special gathering in the Dean Smith Student Activity Center on the UNC campus to celebrate the life of Dean E,. Smith. There will be players and former players . . . coaches and former coaches . . . students and former students. And I choose to believe there will be a very special section that will not be visible to those of us in the arena—and Smith, Bill Friday, and Hugh Morton will be seated there. All present will come together to honor the man who symbolizes what is known as “The Carolina Way.”
To mark all three occasions, Hugh Morton collection volunteer Jack Hilliard takes a look at the special connection that exists between Hugh Morton and Dean Smith.
Dean Smith, Coach, Teacher, Role Model
—chapter title in Making a Difference in North Carolina by Hugh M. Morton and Edward L. Rankin, Jr.
Soon after Dean Smith arrived on the UNC campus in 1958, he was introduced to Hugh Morton, a longtime friend of the university and its basketball program. Three years later, when Smith was appointed head coach by Chancellor William Aycock, Smith continued the free photographic access policy that the previous head coach, Frank McGuire, had offered Hugh Morton. Morton took advantage of that access. Over the years Morton came up from the North Carolina coast and down from the North Carolina mountains to Chapel Hill to photograph Smith and his championship program.
For the book Making a Difference in North Carolina, Hugh Morton contributed an eight-page chapter about his friend Dean Smith. The piece contains eleven pictures of Smith, including one that was to become a Morton favorite. [Editor’s note: for this occasion, we rescanned Morton’s favorite negative of Smith using our high-end Hasselblad film scanner. It’s much improved!]
In his 1996 book Sixty Years with a Camera, Morton described that famous Smith image:
My favorite picture of Dean Smith is this one (above) made right after UNC won the national championship in 1982 in New Orleans. Except for that net around James Worthy’s neck, you wouldn’t know that Carolina had won. Everybody was wrung out and fatigued.”
Then, seven years later in his 2003 book Hugh Morton’s North Carolina, Morton further described the picture adding, “Sports Information Director Rick Brewer is looking at his watch, fearful that the story will not make East Coast sports page deadlines, and Coach Smith and Jimmy Black are just plain tired. They were waiting to be interviewed by the media.”
At a slide show during UNC’s “Graduation/Reunion Weekend” in May of 1989, Morton explained how he got in position to take the famous picture.
There was mass confusion on the floor after the 1982 Championship game as the security folks tried to get Coach Smith and his team off the court. Coach Smith grabbed me by the arm and said ‘stick with me.’ He then turned to the security guard…pointed at me and said ‘he’s with us.
An earlier blog post recounts the closing moments of that game and includes a link to the broadcast (that’s now no longer functioning) where near the very end you can see Morton on the court near Smith.
Another Hugh Morton favorite slide show photograph can be found in Hugh’s 2003 book on page 200. The image shows Coach Smith with three other coaches that would eventually be UNC head coaches: Bill Guthridge, Matt Doherty and Roy Williams. This photograph is discussed the blog post “Back at the Top . . . Back in the Bayou.” On page 198 of the same book, is the opening photograph of this article, taken at the final game Dean Smith won as a Tar Heel—his final victory, number 879.
Of the many books published about Dean Smith and his basketball program, I think it’s safe to say that Hugh Morton played a part in the finished product of most of them. An excellent example would be Barry Jacobs’s 1998 book, The World According to Dean: Four Decades of Basketball as seen by Dean Smith. The book contains 23 Morton photos and the front cover image. (Judging from Smith’s tie on the cover photograph, it also looks to be from his final victory game.)
On June 2, 2006, the evening following Hugh Morton’s death, WBTV, Channel 3, in Charlotte presented a special Morton tribute. Veteran BTV broadcaster Paul Cameron anchored the program. During the show several of Morton’s friends were interviewed including Dean Smith, live by telephone from his home in Chapel Hill. Coach spoke of Morton’s loyalty to his University and the basketball program and said, no matter what the weather, Morton always seemed to be courtside and ready for game day. In addition, Coach Smith paid tribute to Morton’s family, his wife Julia in particular, and said he called often during Morton’s illness and spoke with him when he was able.
Since Coach Smith’s death on February 7th, there have been dozens and dozens of beautiful tributes written in newspapers and delivered on TV . . . many of which were supported by Morton images. I choose to believe that there will be additional Morton images of Dean Smith taken Sunday afternoon.
You may use the search box at the top of the blog to search for additional A View to Hugh blog posts that include Dean Smith.
If you live in the New Bern area, there’s still time to see the exhibition “Photographs by Hugh Morton: An Uncommon Retrospective” at Tryon Palace—and tomorrow, Saturday February 7th, would be a good time to visit. Why . . . ?
- The historic sites have free admission! Saturday is “Free Day: Working 9 to 5” at Tryon Palace. Normally tickets are $20.00, but on Saturday you can explore the Governor’s Palace, historic homes, gardens and the nearby New Bern Academy Museum for no admission fee. Trade demonstrations will allow you to explore jobs and trades from eastern North Carolina’s past.
- There will be discounted passes to the North Carolina History Center’s permanent exhibits.
- I will be giving my talk, “Hugh Morton’s Rise to his Photographic Peak,” at 2:00.
If you are a UNC alumnus, there is also a special “meet-and-greet” reception (details and RSVP) at 1:00. The gathering, sponsored by the University of North Carolina Alumni Association, will provide a chance for alumni to mingle and socialize, and I’ll l be there to talk and answer questions informally about the Morton collection, the Bayard Wootten photographic collection (she was a New Bern native), the North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives, the Wilson Special Collections Library, or photographs in general.
Can’t make it tomorrow? No worries . . . yet. The Hugh Morton exhibition will be on display at Tryon Palace through February 22nd.
With Duke’s win over St. John’s on January 25th, Mike Krzyzewski, the winningest head coach in NCAA Division I men’s basketball history, became the first head coach to reach 1,000 victories: 927 at Duke and 73 at Army. Coach “K” has been the head basketball coach at Duke University since 1980. He has four NCAA National Championships on his resume and was enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2001.
Over the years Krzyzewski has often been a photo subject of Hugh Morton. In addition to the three photographs used for the composite above, there are thirteen additional photographs in the online collection. A View to Hugh sends sincere congratulations to Coach Krzyzewski on this career milestone victory.