Look at America: The South

Hugh Morton's photograph published in Look at America: The South.

Hugh Morton’s photograph published in Look at America: The South.

Some recent searching for “Hugh Morton” on newspapers.com led to a book review titled “Look Looks at The South in Pictures” by Bob Sain in the 19 October 1947 issue of The Daily Tar Heel. The very last paragraph parenthetically reads:

(Incidentally, North Carolina came off badly in space allotment; tobacco process shots took most of our space while Chapel Hill was ignored.  There was one picture of the Duke campus.  However, we recognized one photograph by Carolina man Hugh Morton: a misty Smoky Mountain shot.)

Of course I needed to know which Hugh Morton photograph, so I looked for the book in the University Libraries catalog.  Surprisingly UNC does not hold that book, so I submitted an interlibrary loan request and it arrived late last week.  Titled The South, the book is part of a series with nine volumes titled “Look at America” that was compiled by editors from the magazine Look with each book “written in collaboration with” various authors.   David L. Cohn is the author for The South.  [UNC does, after all, have the book; see the clarification below, which I added after I published this post.]

The photograph above shows Hugh Morton’s photograph on page 81.  I immediately recognized it because I seriously considered printing a scan made from the negative for inclusion in the Hugh Morton retrospective exhibition (currently at the North Carolina Museum of History).  As much as I liked the image, it just didn’t quite fit in with the rest of the exhibition.

A scan of the same negative as the photograph published in Look at America: The South. Or is it?

A scan of the same negative as the photograph published in Look at America: The South. Or is it?

Upon closer inspection, the photograph in the book does not seem to be the exact same image as the negative.  You can see in the scan above that many of the leafs are moving. Morton may have made an additional negative at that location, but there’s not another similar negative in the collection, at least that I could find.

The comparison between the printed page in the book and the negative scan is a good example of two challenges we faced when printing the exhibition: cropping and representation.  Should we crop an image or print it fully?  We usually printed the negatives as fully as we could, but sometimes minor cropping enhanced the image.  I would turn to published photographs when known, but many times publishers crop photographs despite what photographers submit—often to fit the format the book or the allocated space for a page spread in a magazine or newspaper.  Had I seen this book before designed the exhibition I may have printed it that way, but with the “uncommon” theme I may have printed the full negative for its wider view.  The other consideration, representation of the negative as a print, usually concerns the print’s tonality.  For example, should a print have more or less contrast?  Likewise, should an image printed be darker or lighter?  Notice the difference between the darker printed page in the book and the lighter version we created.  When working on the image, we tried to stay “true” to the negative.  We also tried to recreate the foggy atmosphere of the forest by contrasting it to the silhouette of the foreground tree.  The book’s version has a darker mid and foreground, conveying a sense of the woods’ denseness in comparison to the sky’s lightness.

Which leads to another possibility for the question “Or is it?”: that it is the same negative, from which Morton printed a darker interpretation with a bit more contrast to mask the mirroring effected created by the leaf movement.  In the book, you cannot differentiate the branches from the leafs where they overlap; in the negative, however, you can clearly distinguish the lighter leafs from the tree. Combined with the printing technique for the book which makes the leafs and branches essentially black, the leaf movement may have just disappeared.

As in so many instances, we may never know which is the case—but now you know some of the considerations archivists and curators make when we create a exhibition of modern day prints from historical negatives.

Clarification:

As I was returning the book to Interlibrary Loan, I discovered that UNC has the book after all.  One UNC catalog record is for the “Look at America” series that states there are nine volumes but with no mention of the book titles for each of nine volumes.  After some exploration in WorldCat, where I found four different base catalog records for the book, I went back to the UNC catalog and discovered the North Carolina Collection does indeed have the book.

I updated the story soon after its initial publication to reflect the book’s proper short title as “The South” and not “Look at America: The South,” which is what is printed on the very first printed page after the flyleaf.  The full title of the book is likely The South: A Handbook in Pictures, Maps and Text for the Vacationist, the Traveler and the Stay-at-home.  Here’s a photograph of the title page from the NCC’s copy, showing the long title and confusing title page:

Final revision: June 12, 2017 at 14:35 p.m.

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.

A personal look back in time on a very special day

Portrait of Hugh Morton by Wootten-Moulton Studio, circa 1941-42, in the Bayard Morgan Wootten Photographic Collection (negative WM-O-1517-1, cropped by the editor).

Portrait of Hugh Morton by Wootten-Moulton Studio, circa 1941-42, in the Bayard Morgan Wootten Photographic Collection (negative WM-O-1517-1, cropped by the editor).

On February 19, 2017, Hugh Morton would have turned 96 years old. And with this post, Hugh Morton collection volunteer and contributor Jack Hilliard is celebrating a personal “View to Hugh” milestone.

. . . you could not contain him [Hugh Morton]. . . There was never any negativism.  He was creative, forward thinking. . . As a promoter, he was North Carolina’s best.  His first love outside Grandfather Mountain was this place [UNC].  He loved this place with a passion.

Dr. William Friday, Windows (Fall 2007)

On February 19, 1921, 96 years ago today, Hugh MacRae Morton was born in Wilmington, North Carolina.  Morton’s first published photograph appeared in Time when he was fourteen, and over the next seventy-plus years, he took well over two hundred thousand pictures of life in “his” North Carolina and beyond.

During World War II Morton was attached to the 37th Infantry Division where he was a newsreel cameraman and photographed the South Pacific Theater, including an occasion to photograph General Douglas MacArthur at Binalonan and San Manuel on Luzon Island in the Philippines. While on the island of Luzon, Morton was injured by a Japanese explosive. He was later awarded the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart.

Upon his return from the war, Morton picked up where he left off, taking pictures across his native state. His work has been featured in hundreds of publications including Life, National Geographic, Esquire, Saturday Evening Post, and Collier’s. Two magnificent books of his photographs have been published, so far…one in 2003 titled Hugh Morton’s North Carolina and a second one titled Hugh Morton: North Carolina Photographer, published soon after his death on June 1, 2006.

It was at his memorial service at First Presbyterian Church in Greensboro on June 9, 2006 that I learned from Dr. William Friday that Morton’s photographic archive was going to be donated to the University of North Carolina and was to become a part of the North Carolina Collection at Wilson Library on the UNC campus. My first thought was that the Library would most likely just store the boxes of photographs, negatives, and slides in a safe place. And that was a comforting feeling, knowing that the images would indeed be safe.

Then, in early fall of 2007, I received my copy of Windows, a UNC library publication published by the Friends of the Library.  The lead, front-cover-story was about the Hugh Morton photography archive coming to the North Carolina Collection. The magazine called the estimated 530,000-item-collection a stunner and North Carolina Collection Curator Bob Anthony said it was the largest collection ever given to the library (to date).

The amazing article also indicated that the photographs would be cataloged, identified, and filed for easy use. North Carolina Collection archivist Stephen Fletcher along with his assistant Elizabeth Hull would lead a team of students and volunteers in doing the work. A sidebar article called “Processing the Morton Collection (Wrestling the Bear)” told of the challenges the team faced, since many of the photographs did not contain identifying captions. (Elizabeth wrote a blog post on the subject on November 7, 2007 titled “A Processor’s Perspective.”)

As I read through the article, I thought, “What a great job, going to work each day and your duties included looking at Hugh Morton photographs.”  So I wrote Stephen and Elizabeth an email on December 12, 2007 and offered to help identify some of the football pictures since I have been a UNC fan since the age of 6.  I received a reply that said the team had not gotten to the identifying point yet, but I might be able to help later.  The article also mentioned the “processing blog” that offered readers an opportunity to comment. I immediately logged in and read each entry and comment starting with Fletcher’s first entry on November 1, 2007.  Then on January 21, 2008 I added my first comment. I have continued to add comments when I thought I could offer something of interest.

When the 2008 football season started, I suggested a blog topic.  Since Carolina was playing Notre Dame in Chapel Hill on October 11th, why not look back to the first meeting between the two teams in November of 1949.  Morton’s pictures from that day are classic. Stephen accepted the idea and wrote two really good posts about the game: “The Tar Heels against the Fighting Irish in the Big Apple” and “Justice’s Prayer.”

When the processing team got to the point where they could begin identifying UNC football photographs, I received an email on October 8, 2008, asking if I would like to become a volunteer.  Of course my answer was yes and I began to make weekly Friday visits to the collection starting on October 31, 2008.  Each Friday there would be a group of negatives for me to try to identify. There was something exciting about holding the very negative that had been used to print a newspaper picture that, as a little kid, I had clipped out of the paper and pasted in a scrapbook. I continued those Friday visits until August 17, 2010, and I still make periodic visits to the North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives.

As the football season progressed, it looked like the 2008 Tar Heel team would be going to a bowl game, so I made a second suggestion: Why not do a piece on Carolina’s first bowl game played in the Sugar Bowl on January 1, 1947?  Elizabeth liked the idea and added, “Why don’t you write it?” I was surprised, but agreed to do it, but only if Stephen and Elizabeth would carefully review and edit it.  So on December 22, 2008 my first piece for “V2H” was posted . . . surprisingly enough with very little editing.  At the time I made the suggestion, I thought that Morton photographed that game, but it turned out that weather conditions prevented him from getting there.  Four years later, a post on December 28, 2012 revealed the “Morton mystery” surrounding the ’47 Sugar Bowl.

In early 2009, Elizabeth suggested that I do a piece on Morton’s run for governor. I did that piece, which was posted on March 24, 2009.  By now I was really hooked and I started to look for ideas to write about—and surprisingly I found some. So, on this special day, the day Hugh Morton would have turned 96, this post is the 100th for me.  With special thanks to Bob Anthony, Stephen Fletcher, and Elizabeth Hull . . . it has been a fun ride. I hope it can continue. It is indeed a genuine privilege and honor to help celebrate Hugh Morton’s magnificent photographic work.

World Day for Audio Visual Heritage 2014

Hugh Morton with movie camera during World War II. The writing on the truck's door appears to read "Milk Plane Morton."

Hugh Morton with movie camera during World War II. The writing on the truck’s door appears to read “Milk Plane Morton.”

One part of the Hugh Morton Collection that we do not seem to utilize as much as we should is Hugh Morton’s film footage.  Today marks the annual observance of UNESCO World Day for Audio Visual Heritage, so it’s an apt day to explore the films of Hugh Morton.

The Morton collection finding aid lists holdings by subjects within broad categories.  The audiovisual materials, however, are listed in a spreadsheet accessed through a link in the finding aid.  From the finding aid, click on the phrase “Information for Users” in the left column and look for “Additional Descriptive Resources.”  Clicking on that link opens a PDF of a 107-page spreadsheet that itemizes the component parts of the audiovisual material holdings.

MortonFindingAid_UserInfomationThe main reason we cannot do more with video at A View to Hugh is the 25MB upload file size limitation for videos set by the blog software, WordPress.  Thus far we have made 16 film-to-digital transfers from footage in the Morton collection, but only a couple do not exceed the upload limit.  One file is a 30-second spot for Grandfather Mountain, shared for the first time on this blog.  The other can be seen by visiting a previous post titled “Film of John F. Kennedy in the Morton collection.”

Beyond these two titles, you may explore the PDF and let us know if there is footage that looks promising for your research.  If it hasn’t already been transferred, we will investigate ways to make it available for use.  Approximately 85 of the 107 pages describe 16mm film footage, with the bulk of the remaining pages listing audio on 1/4″ or cassette tapes.

To use more footage at A View to Hugh, it looks like I’ll need to learn the art of extracting excerpts from the large files to use as snippets in topics yet to be explored.

Spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam . . .

Experimental time exposure shot of the Old Well at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The long exposure has left light trails, with the Well just visible in the background.

Experimental time exposure shot of the Old Well at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The long exposure has left light trails, with the Well just visible in the background.

Recently there has been a significant increase in comment spam here at A View to Hugh.  Most of the time you as a reader never see it, because a  filter catches the spam before it has a chance to go live.  Occasionally, however, irrelevant comments slip past the spam filter.  This blog is not moderated so that a lively discussion can take place when people are so moved.  Moderating all comments just slows down spontaneity, especially during non-work hours.  Non-moderated blogs, however, are vulnerable to comment spam making it live.  On the flip side, the spam filter can trap legitimate comments.  When that happens I can easily approve them.

The past few months have seen an amazing surge of comment spam—a dozen or so spam comment per day were making it live, and where once there were a few hundred captured spams there are as many as 2,000 a day.  It used to be reasonable to spend about 20 minutes a day to go through the spam trap, looking for legitimate comments that had been accidentally captured, and making them live.  This is no longer the case.  The receipt of blog comment spam now exceeds one per minute on average.  From late Friday to Monday afternoon, for example, the spam filter trapped 7,700+ spam comments!

A couple weeks ago I quietly added a new Comment Policy page, announcing a few changes to help combat this problem. Spam continued to accelerate through the remainder of the month, however, necessitating a stricter policy effective today, 1 October 2014.  Here are the details:

  • Your first comment at A View to Hugh will not appear immediately upon hitting the submit button; it will, instead, be sent to a “Pending” file for approval.  After I approve your first comment, your subsequent submissions will post immediately.  The setting in the anti-spam software applies this rule uniformly, even to those who have commented prior to the implementation of this policy.
  • Comments with more than one link are immediately marked as spam by the anti-spam software.
  • All comments trapped by the spam filter will be deleted without review—meaning that I will no longer review comments in the spam trap to look for legitimate comments inappropriately marked as spam.  As a precaution, you may wish to save your comment as a text file on your own computer before submitting it to the blog.  That way, if your comment does not appear within a day (or after a weekend) you can then copy and paste your comment and resubmit.

The Governor’s Down-East Jamboree, 1971

North Carolina Commissioner of Agriculture Jim Graham; Lawrence H. Fountain, United State Congressman from the state's 2nd District; and Chapel Hill Mayor Howard Lee. The three are pictured at the "Governor's Down-East Jamboree" fundraising event for the North Carolina Democratic Party, held in Atlantic Beach on September 17–19, 1971.

North Carolina Commissioner of Agriculture Jim Graham; Lawrence H. Fountain, United State Congressman from the state’s 2nd District; and Chapel Hill Mayor Howard Lee. The three are pictured at the “Governor’s Down-East Jamboree” fundraising event for the North Carolina Democratic Party, held in Atlantic Beach on September 17–19, 1971.

In mid September 1971, the North Carolina Democratic Party held a fundraising event called “The Governor’s Down-East Jamboree” in Atlantic Beach.  Hugh Morton took the above informal group portrait during that event.  I wanted to know more about this photograph, and it turns out there was a bit more happening at Bogue Banks than this single photograph suggests.  As it was, Morton attended the political gathering for a reason beyond making photographs—and the story serves as a good case study on how and why one should always look beyond the online photographs to the entire Morton collection when researching.

Searching through the Morton collection finding aid for “jamboree,” I found listings for six black-and-white negatives made by Morton: five using a 35mm camera, and one using a 120 format camera (which produces a 2″ x 2″ negative).  Morton printed the above photograph from frame 18 of the strips of 35mm negatives; the single 120 negative is a slightly underexposed version of the same group from a different angle.

Here’s a question for our regular readers: Doesn’t *only* six negatives from an event like this seem well, un-Morton-like? That’s what I thought!  It was time to go into research mode!

I knew two things going in:

  1. Morton formally declared his candidacy for the 1972 Democratic Party gubernatorial race on December 1st, 1971.
  2. The above photograph is in the pamphlet Hugh Morton’s DEMOCRATIC Photo Album.

Morton published the album-like booklet as a keepsake in 1971.  On its opening page is a letter from Morton written to “My Fellow North Carolinian” that includes the sentence, “Regardless of how the 1972 Gubernatorial field finally shapes up, I am confident that no candidate will have a more intense or more consistent interest in the Democratic Party.”  Morton’s clearly writes as if he is a candidate, so he likely published the pamphlet in December.  In addition to the photograph above, there are two other images from the political jamboree including the following image.

This photograph is a non-cropped version of the version that appears in the booklet titled "Hugh Morton's DEMOCRATIC Photo Album." It is captioned, "N. C. Democratic Chairman Joe Yates introduces Governor Bob Scott at the Governor's Down-East Jamboree at Atlantic Beach on September 18, 1971. At the head table at left is Maryland Governor Marvin Mandel, principal speaker. Party officials in the foreground include: Speaker Phil Godwin, YDC President Charles Winberry, Party Secretary Mrs. E. K. Powe and Mr. Powe, and Party Vice Chairman Mrs. James M. Harper and Mr. Harper."

This is a non-cropped version of a photograph that appears in the booklet titled “Hugh Morton’s DEMOCRATIC Photo Album.” It is captioned, “N. C. Democratic Chairman Joe Yates introduces Governor Bob Scott at the Governor’s Down-East Jamboree at Atlantic Beach on September 18, 1971. At the head table at left is Maryland Governor Marvin Mandel, principal speaker. Party officials in the foreground include: Speaker Phil Godwin, YDC President Charles Winberry, Party Secretary Mrs. E. K. Powe and Mr. Powe, and Party Vice Chairman Mrs. James M. Harper and Mr. Harper.” [Note: This image (file number P081_NTBR2_002142_13) is not in the online collection of Morton photographs at the time this post was written.]

The Carteret County News-Times provides a lead-in to the event.  The newspaper reported on September 13th that the Governor’s Down East Jamboree would begin on Friday the 17th with a golf outing, followed by a clambake that evening.  Festivities would take place at John Yancey Convention Center (which was located on Salter Path Road at milepost 5 1/2 and later known as the Royal Pavilion after a renovation project).  On Saturday evening there would be a luau-themed $50-a-plate fundraiser—which explains the leis worn by L. H. Fountain and Howard Lee in the above photograph.  Maryland’s Governor Marvin Mandel would be the featured speaker.  With 400 tickets sold to that point, the expected crowd was 550 people.

The following Monday’s issue of the Carteret County News-Times provides the following:

The only two gubernatorial hopefuls on hand Friday night were Bob Morgan, currently state attorney general, and Hugh Morton, owner of Grandfather Mountain.  The other two prominent individuals mentioned for the governor’s seat, Lt. Gov. Pat Taylor and State Senator Hargrove (Skipper) Boles, arrived Saturday.

Well that might explain the relative scarcity of Morton photographs at the event: he attended as a candidate, not a photographer—two and a half months before his official announcement on December 1, 1971—but that is not the reason.

The News-Times ran several photographs with its report. One is captioned:

Patricia Sikes, Salisbury, standing here with William H. Potter, former mayor of Beaufort, was Hugh Morton’s salt girl.  She passed out miniature Morton Salt containers proclaiming Hugh Morton as “the salt of North Carolina.”

The caption of a second photograph is more revealing . . .

Hugh Morton, standing in front of the Cape Lookout lighthouse, hosted a picnic Saturday at the Cape.  He commented that if he is elected governor and if the Cape Lookout National Seashore isn’t a reality at the end of his administration, he and his administration will be entirely to blame.  Others pictured are Roy Parker, left, and Arthur Johnsey, Greensboro, and Mrs. Morton.

. . . especially when paired with the following text from the article, which gives us another clue:

MR. MORTON FLEW a party of 25 persons to Cape Lookout in his helicopter for a Saturday afternoon picnic.

So maybe there are more photographs of the event, but filed under Cape Lookout in the North Carolina places series?  Back to the collection’s finding aid, where searching for “Cape Lookout” I found:

  • Roll Film Box P081/120BW-1, Envelope 1.1.103-3-1
    Cape Lookout Lighthouse (gathering/event with models, helicopter), 1980s?
    Black and white 120 roll film negatives
    13 images
  • Roll Film Box P081/120C-1
    Envelope 1.1.103-4-1
    Cape Lookout Lighthouse (gathering/event, with models, helicopter, air views), 1980s?
    Color 120 roll film negatives
    15 images

Notice that there is no reference to the “Down-East” gathering associated with the Cape Lookout negatives, so the logical place to file them was by location.  And guess what? The Bob Scott negative shown above wasn’t filed by the event either; that negative is filed with other negatives related to Scott that Morton gathered in one place for consideration when producing the book, Making a Difference in North Carolina. These are two examples of why you should think broadly when using the Morton collection: negatives from the same event are filed in three different places, and maybe more.

Here are three scans made from the Cape Lookout negatives:

P081_NTCR1_1-1-103_4_1_10

Hugh Morton (left) and Julia Morton (second from right), entertaining during a picnic on Cape Lookout, while a photographer looks on.

Hugh Morton (left) and Julia Morton (second from right), entertaining during a picnic on Cape Lookout, while a photographer looks on. The photographer is unknown, and this is not the image that appears in the Carteret County News-Times.

P081_NTBR1_1-1-103_3_1_12

In a few of the frames there is a person on the beach who wears a boater-style “Morton For Governor” straw hat (third from the left in the above photograph).  Another Hugh Morton mystery solved . . . one I didn’t know we had before working on this blog post.

Turning to other newspapers, however, helped to fill in the “Down-East” story.  The Wilmington Morning Star surprisingly did not cover the nearby event, especially given that is Morton’s hometown.

Howard Covington, writing for the Charlotte Observer‘s Piedmont Edition on September 18th provided context for the event.  The jamboree, he wrote, “is the unofficial opening of the 1972 political season and the first half of a fund-raising effort that will close next month in Asheville with the annual Vance-Aycock party dinner.”

So Morton nor any of the other “hopefuls” were official candidates during the jamboree, but a potential candidate.  This was true for the other participating “candidates” as well, and explains why Morton’s official announcement came several weeks later.

Roy Parker, Jr.’s column for Raleigh’s News and Observer for September 20th had the best photograph of the Cape Lookout picnic, made by Ken Cooke, which showed the Mortons and some of their supporters on the beach, while the helicopter flies behind them with the lighthouse in the distance.

That day’s News and Observer column “Under the Dome” noted:

Hugh Morton, the Grandfather Mountain owner who is preparing to seek the Democratic nomination for governor, has other candidates somewhat green with envy because of his close ties with North Carolina news media.

Morton is acknowledged to be one of the state’s most effective public relations men, a photographer of note whose pictures are ubiquitous in travel literature and on postcards, and a familiar figure in scores of weekly newspapers offices, city rooms and station studios.

And by being owner of a famous resort like Grandfather Mountain Golf and Country Club, Morton doesn’t even have to go to the media—they come to him.

For instance, North Carolina members of the American Society of Newspaper Editors are scheduled to gather at the resort in early October.

That includes just about every editor of the major dailies in the state, as well as many from the smaller regional newspapers.

C. A. (Pete) McKnight, editor of the Charlotte Observer and current national ASNE president, has informed his colleagues that he will host a cookout at the affair, and that Morton will be glad to arrange accommodations.

Looks like it may be time to comb through the collection finding aid a bit more . . . . maybe looking for “Vance-Aycock,” “Asheville,” and “news editors?”

Photographs by Hugh Morton: An Uncommon Retrospective opens tonight at Western Carolina University

Farm Shack with Bear Skin

Hugh Morton photographed “Farm Shack with Bear Skin” near Waynesville, N. C.  This photograph is part of the Morton retrospective exhibit that opens  tonight in nearby Western Carolina University’s Mountain Heritage Center in Cullowhee, N.C.

I’m sitting in a friendly coffee shop in Cullowhee, N. C. going over my presentation for this evening at the exhibit opening of “Photographs by Hugh Morton: An Uncommon Retrospective” at the Mountain Heritage Center at Western Carolina University.  I’ll be talking with a museum studies class this afternoon, too, and I’m really looking forward to that.  If you are reading this on March 27th 2014 and are visiting or living in the western NC part of the state, I do hope you can make it this evening . . . and that you do say hello if you do!

P081_NTBR1_006318_08

I’m hoping to take the scenic route back home via highway U. S. 64 around Cashiers and Highlands for some “photo ops.”  I suspect I’ll see the sign above (or its successor) along the way.

Another view of ’82

Wednesday afternoon was one of those times, like so many others in this line of work, where what you end up working on isn’t even on your radar when you step off the bus and head to the office.  Here’s what happened . . . .

Around 2:30 a new staff member in the the library’s Digital Production Center received a phone call from Yahoo! Sports requesting Hugh Morton photographs.  He asked me who should take the call, and I recommended he transfer the call to Keith Longiotti in our Research and Instructional Services Department.  Keith handles most of the image requests for the North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives.

Shortly after the call I saw an email that I had received before the phone call, but hadn’t seen because I had been away from my desk.  The email was from an associate producer at Yahoo! Sports, and had its beginnings on Tuesday with a referral from The Daily Tar Heel to the journalism school’s librarian Stephanie Brown.

Yahoo! Sports has been producing a series called “Memorable Moments: March Madness.”  Their last episode was to feature the 1982 NCAA men’s basketball championship game between UNC and Georgetown.  They requested photographs or footage from the game, mentioning that they had seen some Hugh Morton photographs in the online collection of Morton images, but nothing from the closing moments of the game.  The producer wrote,

I’m looking for any photos AFTER Michael Jordan’s go-ahead jumper with :17 left in the game.  Specifically Georgetown’s Fred Brown throwing the ball away to James Worthy during the subsequent play.  Anything of Worthy and/or Brown from the final moments (before the steal, during the steal, after the steal, huddles, shooting free throws, etc.) would be outstanding.

Stephanie replied that the Park Library did not hold such materials, and that she should talk to me about the Hugh Morton collection.  I wrote the associate producer immediately after I finished reading her email, telling her that I had read her email shortly after the telephone call.

If you are a regular reader of A View to Hugh, then you know only 8,000 of the 250,000 items in the Morton collection are online.  I told the associate producer that I would look in the remainder of the collection to see if I could locate any images that were not online.  The catch?  They needed images that day, or early Thursday at the latest.  (Luckily their offices are on the west coast so that gave me an additional three hours to work on the request.)  They had seen Morton’s photograph of the team huddle shown above, but not in the online collection.  Did we have it?  Did we have anything else?

Given their tight deadline and the proximity to closing time, we could have settled for the images they already seen and requested.  Keith sent them scans of the images they’d seen so they could get started.  I couldn’t fathom, however, that Hugh Morton would not have photographed the pivotal closing moments unless he had been on the opposite end of the court.  That, coupled with an opportunity to give the Morton collection some national or even international exposure was too good to pass up.  I jumped on it.

First I checked for scans saved on our image server, but not used in the online collection.  (Yes, there are thousands of them!)  To do that, I had to review all the prints, negatives, and slides from the games, because the scan’s file names are written on the storage enclosures.  The huddle scene above was previously scanned, but not included online.

But look at what else I found that wasn’t scanned:

P081_1982NCCAfinal_Worthy 01

After watching the closing moments of the game on YouTube, I was convinced the scene above was James Worthy driving the basketball down court after stealing Fred Brown’s errant pass.  The steal and drive happened right in front of Morton.  He snapped the camera shutter just a moment before Worthy was intentionally fouled by Georgetown’s Eric Smith (#32).  Eric “Sleepy” Floyd (#21) is on the left.  Both Floyd and Worthy are from Gastonia, North Carolina and were good friends.  The turnover happened so unexpectedly on the other end of the court, and so quickly that it may have caught Morton off guard because Worthy is out of focus.  The result, however, means that Morton captured the dismay on Floyd’s face, and the expressions on the bench and cheerleaders are more visible.

(By the way, if you watch the CBS broadcast, you can see Hugh Morton pop into the frame about 25 seconds after the end of the game.  This may be when Dean Smith told Morton, “Stick with me.”)

Below, Morton photographed Worthy taking one of his free throws with only two seconds remaining on the clock.

P081_1982NCCAfinal_Worthy 02

A staff member of the Digital Production Center helped me make the scans of the two 35mm slides.  (I couldn’t do it because they just starting using new software.)  We had the slides finished before 6:00.  I continued to dig Thursday morning, taking advantage of the time zones difference, but didn’t find additional images that fit the hole they needed to fill.  We delivered the scans by their deadline, and Yahoo! Sports was thrilled.

We received the link to the story, “Michael Jordan’s gutsy shot leads to North Carolina title” this morning.  The downside of our efforts is that Yahoo! Sports doesn’t credit their sources after the episodes in “Memorable Moments: March Madness,” so you won’t see Morton or the photographic archives credited.  The upside is that seven Hugh Morton photographs appear in the episode (one of Worthy during the East Regional final game against Villanova in Raleigh, and six from the championship game), and the library did receive a respectable commercial use fee to help support the work that we do with the collections.  The team huddle photograph also opens a one-minute piece, “Memorable Moments: The huddle before Michael Jordan’s shot.”  Another of Morton’s images appears in a second short, “Memorable Moments: James Worthy remembers UNC vs. Georgetown.”

A remaining mystery emerged from this reference request.  I didn’t find a photograph of Michael Jordon’s game winning shot, which occurred near the very spot of the Worthy photograph above.  Did Morton photograph that memorable moment, too?  If so, I didn’t find it.  Yet.

Grand Canyon National Park celebrates its 94th

Grand Canyon, by Hugh Morton

Hugh Morton visited the Grand Canyon in late January, 1987.

Today marks the 94th anniversary of the establishment of Grand Canyon National Park.  A week ago, coincidentally, marked what would have been Hugh Morton’s 92nd birthday.

Morton visited the Grand Canyon in late January 1987, based upon the dates of “01-26-1987” and “01-30-1987” printed with a matrix dot printer on the plastic mounts of two rolls of 35mm slides.

Or did he?

Let’s use this scenic photograph, and the little we know about it, as an exercise in a way to use the Morton finding aid—with an added caveat on how to use calendar dates provided in the finding aid as starting points that need confirmation rather than exactitudes.

Searching the Morton collection inventory for “January 1987” using a Web browser’s “Find” function reveals several matches.  Cutting and pasting the subjects into a new list ordered by date gives us a glimpse into Morton’s photographic activities for that month:

  • “Grand Canyon,” January 1987 (35mm slides, no exact dates)
  • “UNC-Maryland,” (UNC-Jacksonville University basketball), January 1987 (35mm color slides; no exact dates)
  • “Bulls-Celtics” (Mascot, cheerleaders. Jordan, Bird), January 1987 (35mm slides)
  • Gary Everhardt, George Olson, Roy Taylor and Cotton Robinson: “Western North Carolina Tomorrow,” 12 January 1987 (black-and-white negatives)

  • “Good Snow, Doc Watson,” (sunset, people in creek), 14 January 1987 (35mm color slides)
  • Gorilla, 15 January 1987 (35mm slides)
  • “Dean Smith” (Press conference), 15 January 1987 (35mm slides)
  • Kuralt, Charles “North Carolina is My Home”: Chapel Hill, 23 January 1987 (black-and-white negatives)

  • Michael Jordan, Chicago, 27 January 1987 (black-and-white negatives)

  • “UNC-Clemson, Clemson, Kenny Smith scores 41,” 28 January 1987 (black-and-white negatives)

  • “Mildred in Snow,” 29 January 1987 (black-and-white negatives)

The lines above, extracted from the topically arranged finding aid, form a chronological list.  Looking closely, you can see that Hugh Morton would not likely have been at the Grand Canyon on the 26th and the 30th if he was in Chicago on the 27th . . . and Mildred the Bear probably didn’t take a trip to Arizona!  Also, with a bit of checking you find that the basketball game between UNC and Jacksonville was played on December 13th—a month earlier!  What’s going on here?

For those readers who have only photographed with digital cameras, the following may seem a bit strange, but it is true.  Unlike your camera’s EXIF data that records the exact time—to the second—that you make an exposure in camera, the date provided on a 35mm slide mount records the date the photography lab processed the film.  So what is going on in line two of the list?  I haven’t gone to the slides to verify this, but Morton likely didn’t finish shooting an entire roll of film at the UNC–Jacksonville game, so he finished the roll during the game against Maryland on January 8th.

Not all slide mounts have dates, but there may have been a postmark on the box indicating when it left the lab.  Dates provided for negatives, on the other hand, are mostly those that Hugh Morton wrote on negative sleeves and envelopes; some, however, were determined by staff who either discovered or easily obtained dates for events.  A good take away from this exercise is to be sure you understand what the dates represent, and verify them if it is important to your research or project.

Understanding what machine printed dates represent is good information to keep in mind if you are looking at old family photographs and see dates that don’t make sense on snapshot borders or the backs of prints.  A family group portrait made with everyone standing next to a snowman at Uncle Charlie’s birthday in January that has a “July 1956” date stamped on the photograph may mean that Aunt Esther didn’t take the camera out of the hall closet for several months.

The above list of Morton’s January 1987 subjects presents a revealing insight to the range and depth of Hugh Morton’s photographic career in microcosm.  That’s an pretty impressive cast of characters and locations for one month—figuratively as wide and deep as the Grand Canyon.

You may have discerned in the list that there are some other date conflicts, incomplete dates, or things that make you go “Hmmmmm.”  If the spirit moves you, have fun trying to clarify them, then leave a comment with your conclusions.  You might even be able to find out when Morton went to the Grand Canyon.  If anyone recognizes Morton’s exactly location when he made the photograph, we might even be able to use shadow casting to date the image.  That would make for another interesting post.

Now if we only knew why Hugh Morton went to the Grand Canyon . . . .

 

Uncovered notables

Wee spend our mid-day sweat, or mid-night oyle;
Wee tyre the night in thought; the day in toyle.

— Francis Quarles, from Emblemes, 1635

There are times when carrying out my twenty-first century daily toils in front of a computer get to be a bit too much for the eyes and I need to step away from the computer.  When those occasions occur I look at photographs from the collections, which also keeps me rooted in the reasons I do what I do for a living.

UNC student studying while holding a pipe.

“Burning the Midnight Oil” is the quotation that accompanies this photograph by Hugh Morton in the 1942 Yackety Yack, UNC’s student yearbook. The photograph served as the visual opener for the professional schools section.

One of those occasions struck a couple weeks ago, so I wandered off to the unidentified nonflying objects in “Area 5.1” (actually, the unidentified negatives in series 5.1) of the Morton Collection: “University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1939–early 2000s / Student Life, 1939-1942.”   There are many unidentified negatives in that portion of the collection, including many posed yet candid portraits.

As I examined one negative at a time, I saw a face that was immediately recognizable: Louis Harris.  (Lou Harris, who became an important American pollster, has been mentioned in a few posts and an essay thus far here at A View to Hugh.)  The portrait in hand seemed familiar, and I soon located it in the “Senior Personalities” section of the 1942 UNC yearbook, The Yackety Yack.

Louis Harris

The caption for Harris’s portrait reads:

Campus idealist, reformer, organizer . . . one of few with the courage of his convictions . . . incessant energy . . . needs 34 hour day . . .

The captioned portrait next to Harris’s looked like a different negative I had viewed a few minutes earlier, so I went back to the storage box to find it.  The portrayed: Ferebee Taylor.  That name may not be recognizable to many, but thirty years later Nelson Ferebee Taylor became the fifth chancellor of UNC-Chapel Hill.  A native of Oxford, North Carolina, Taylor headed to Cambridge, Massachusetts for a Harvard Law degree after graduating from UNC.  From Harvard he received a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford, England.

Nelson Ferebee Taylor

Taylor’s caption:

Capable, responsible . . . that “Oxford” accent . . . unanimous draftee for legislature speakership . . . Phi Bete prexy, Fleece, etc. ad infinitum

Because there are so many negatives of unidentified students, we only scanned a sampling when processing the Morton collection—and only a selection of the sampling made it into the online collection.  (Sometimes portraits include multiple poses—there’s one variant of Taylor’s portrait and a few of the opening image above.)  The previously unidentified portraits of Lou Harris and Ferebee Taylor are only two negatives among hundreds.

Wee make Art servile, and the Trade gentile,
(Yet both corrupted with ingenious guile)
To compass earth; and with her empty store,
To fill our Armes, and graspe, one handfull more,
Thus seeking Rest, our labours never cease,
But as our years, our hot desires encrease.

Rediscovering two notable people seemed like enough for one blog post, but while relocating the Taylor negative I saw a different negative with an image that I also recalled having seen somewhere once before.  This portrait (shown below, but tightly cropped from elbow and head on the right to the left edge of the sign) also turned up in the “Senior Personalities” section—this time in the 1941 Yackety Yack with the caption “Gene Whitten.”

Gene Witten with "please" sign

The Yackety Yack tightly cropped this portrait of Gene Witten. The “please” sign directed pedestrians where to walk, and by default, where not to tread.

Eugene Roy Witten (misspelled in the Yackety Yack caption) played an interesting role in the history of UNC student publications.  Although he may have had earlier unacknowledged contributions, Witten’s name first appears as a cartoonist in the masthead of the October 1939 issue of the then soon-to-be-ill-fated student humor magazine The Carolina Buccaneer.  The student publication rode a problematic seesaw from its beginnings in 1924, but the Buccaneer’s eventual downfall was the cover, and to some extent the contents, of its infamous “sex issue” of November 1939.  Witten had one innocuous (by today’s standards, at least) cartoon included in that issue.  The real controversy, however, centered on the magazine’s cover by cartoonist Hight Moore—and the fallout reached far beyond the campus walls.

The details of the magazine’s final saga would take this blog post astray.  In brief, on Friday, November 10th, The Daily Tar Heel editor Martin Harmon wrote a satirical “Buc Review” in the form of a letter to his Aunt Emmy in New Orleans.  That evening, the Student Council directed the Publications Union Board to destroy all 3,000 copies of the issue shortly before its release date.  Sunday’s Daily Tar Heel decried a “Crisis in Student Government.”  On Monday, November 13th, the Publications Union Board decided to reuse parts of the magazine and publish a revised edition, which was to be issued by the end of the week.  Later that evening, the Student Legislature voted 18-13 against the Student Council ban.  A month later, a DTH editorial called the whole affair “the most sensational, the most astounding, the most stupendous bombshell of the [fall] quarter.”

  • A side note . . . The November 1939 issue of The Carolina Buccaneer is one of many items used to illustrate the North Carolina Collection Gallery exhibit, “A Right to Speak and to Hear: Academic Freedom and Free Expression at UNC”—which opened today.

“Let bygones be bygones!” the Buccaneer‘s editors wrote in the ensuing December issue.  After the last issue of the school year published in May, however, the magazine was gone.  What makes this story relevant to readers of the A View to Hugh?  Between its November death knell and May burial, Hugh Morton joined The Carolina Buccaneer masthead as a photographer.  In the March 1940 issue, Morton contributed a photographic essay entitled “‘That’ Week-End” that included his photograph of Glen Gray and the Casa Loma Band performing during the Mid-Winter German dances held on February 15th and 16th.

Why did Morton join the Carolina Buccaneer staff as a freshman, just a few months after the sex issue fiasco?  We may never know.  This time period, however, seems to have been an important crossroads in Morton’s early career as a photographer.  According to a November 1941 DTH article, Morton’s camera had been stolen shortly after he arrived on campus in September 1939.  He didn’t replace it until he bought a camera in a Raleigh pawn shop during the winter of 1940, after which he “immediately” began to work for The Carolina Buccaneer.  With the Glen Gray and Mid-Winter German dance photographs as evidence, that would be mid February.  Additionally, a montage of photographs by G. B. Lamm and Morton appear on the cover of the March 1940 issue of Carolina Magazine.  Morton would go on to photograph for several student and university publications.

An important connection may have been made during or after the Buccaneer debacle: the president of the Publications Union Board who salvaged The Carolina Bucaneer and kept at least some of its parts from the incinerator was senior Edward L. Rankin, Jr..  Nearly fifty years later Rankin would co-author with Morton the book Making a Difference in North Carolina published in 1988.  It would be fascinating to know if Morton and Rankin’s association began at UNC, or in later years.

Gene Witten reading The Daily Tar Heel.

Gene Witten reading the February 4, 1941 issue of The Daily Tar Heel. Morton’s portrait of Witten appears in the 1941 Yackety Yack.

Jump ahead to autumn 1940, and re-enter Gene Witten, named in November to be Editor-in-Chief of Tar an’ Feathers, successor to The Carolina Buccaneer.  Witten’s charge was to produce a “clean” humor magazine.  In the first issue Witten contributed one cartoon, which was more like a sketch with a caption beneath—his only cartoon published in the magazine.  Witten named Lamm, the upperclassmen to Morton, as the photography editor.

Working on another batch of negatives several days after the initial Harris and Taylor discoveries, I uncovered another unidentified portrait of Witten. In this portrait (shown above), Witten is reading (or glancing at, given the strange angle of the newspaper) a copy of the February 4th, 1941 Daily Tar Heel. This portrait also appears in the 1941 Yackety Yack, but it’s cropped vertically.  The typewriter to his left is branded with a “TH” that likely stands for Tar Heel, and may have been photographed in the DTH offices.

Curious about Witten’s life after UNC, an Internet search revealed a website dedicated to his life as an artist.  Witten was a business major at UNC, and worked briefly after college in a New York City advertising agency.  According to the Witten website, after serving in the United States Navy during World War II he “was impassioned to leave ‘business’ and entered the Art Students League in Manhattan in 1946. At the age of 25 he decided his life’s work was to paint.” In addition to working as an artist for decades, Witten became a master frame maker.   He passed away on January 13, 2004.

Now, reader, close thy Booke, and then advise:
Be wisely worldly; be not worldly wise.
— Francis Quarles, from Emblemes, 1635