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

 

A(nother) Morton mystery solved

Today’s A View to Hugh post takes a look behind the scenes, as Morton volunteer/contributor Jack Hilliard solves a Morton Mystery—this one centering around college football’s Sugar Bowl, which will be played in New Orleans on January 2nd.

Lilly Christine, "The Cat Girl"

Lilly Christine, “The Cat Girl,” performing at Prima’s 500 Club in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Image cropped by the editor.)

It’s always fun when researching a post for A View to Hugh that I run across information that answers a question about a previous post.  Here’s the story behind one of those posts.

In early December 2008 I suggested to Elizabeth Hull that since UNC’s football team was going to a bowl, it might be nice to look back at Carolina’s first bowl game in 1947.  AT THE TIME, I believed that Hugh Morton had traveled to New Orleans for the 1947 Sugar Bowl game, because I had seen Morton photographs of “The Cat Girl,” and based on the following two sources I believed that “The Cat Girl” photographs were taken during the ’47 Sugar Bowl trip:

  1. Starting on page 21 of the Bob Quincy and Julian Scheer 1958 book, Choo Choo: The Charlie Justice Story, there is an entire chapter devoted to the ’47 Sugar Bowl game, and there is this quote:  “(New Orleans) had never been confronted . . . with such rowdy partisans as the visiting forces from Georgia and North Carolina those few days before the Sugar Bowl game of 1947. . . . A number of Tar Heels became students of architecture during this sojourn, chiefly that of the Cat Girl, a lady of unusual structure who was on exhibit each night in the French Quarter.
  2. On page 53 of Bob Quincy’s 1973 book, They Made the Bell Tower Chime, there is a one-page profile of UNC fullback Walt Pupa and the ’47 Sugar Bowl with this quote: “Dinner at Antoine’s.  A march down Canal Street.  The Cat Girl and her exotic dance of soft, graceful muscle power.  A disturbing loss to Georgia.”

Both books had “The Cat Girl” at the ’47 Sugar Bowl on January 1st, 1947 and since Pupa graduated in June of 1947, he was not on the team at the 1949 Sugar Bowl.
I was really surprised when Elizabeth told me she could not find any Morton photographs from that ’47 game.

“What about the ‘Cat Girl’ shots,” I asked?

Elizabeth said they were in an envelope just labeled “Cat Girl” with no date.  What happened to Morton’s shots of the game?  He was there . . . we have the “Cat Girl” shots . . . .

Well, we did the post and worked around the missing photos and included as part of the post the Sugar Bowl 50th anniversary trip for which we did have Morton photos.  Morton’s ’47 Sugar Bowl pictures were just missing.  We made several guesses, but there were no definitive answers.

Fast forward to April, 2010, when I’m researching another V2H post and run across an article by Chuck Houser called, “The Cat Girl” in the Mid-Winter, 1950 issue of Tarnation magazine with this:

A lot of different people will remember a lot of different things about New Orleans and the ill-fated Sugar Bowl trip of (December) 1948.  But one thing all of them will remember is a diminutive French Quarter night club dancer who goes by the name of Miss Lilly Christine—‘The Cat Girl.’  Two years ago (December, 1946), when loyal Tar Heels first invaded the wrought-iron balcony-lined streets of the fabulous city of New Orleans to see another ill-fated Sugar Bowl game, they all came back with one name on the tips of their tongues—‘Stormy,’ a sultry stripper whose real handle was Stacie Laurence.

When those same football fans returned to New Orleans last month, they headed for the French Quarter to take another look at ‘Stormy’ divesting herself of her costume.

But ‘Stormy’ didn’t live there anymore.  ‘Stormy’ was married to an ex-newspaper columnist from the Crescent City and was very busily pregnant over the New Year holidays.  As a substitute, all good Tar Heels soon discovered Lilly Christine, ‘The Cat Girl,’ who didn’t take any of her clothes off, since she wasn’t wearing enough to put in your hip flask to begin with.”

So . . . “The Cat Girl” was not seen during the 1947 Sugar Bowl trip after all.  It was the 1949 Sugar Bowl trip and there are dozens of Morton photos from that game.
I still thought that Morton went to the ’47 Sugar Bowl, but now the photos that I was sure were from ’47 were really from ’49.

Fast forward once again.  I was researching a post about Morris Mason and was looking through some game programs from 1992, the year he passed away.  During the ‘92 season, the UNC athletic department invited a guest columnist to write an essay in each of the home football game programs.  On October 17, 1992, for the UNC–UVA game, the guest was Hugh Morton.  His essay looked back on his career shooting UNC football photographs and about half way through the piece Morton wrote:

Carl Snavely and his distinguished crew took Carolina to the Sugar Bowl in 1947 and 1949 and to the Cotton Bowl in 1950.  I missed the 1947 Sugar Bowl against Georgia because bad flying weather diverted some other Tar Heel rooters and me to St. Petersburg instead of New Orleans.  The Sugar Bowl that I covered was New Year’s Day 1949 against Oklahoma.

Mystery solved!  Not only was Lily Christine not at the 1947 Sugar Bowl, Hugh Morton wasn’t either.

[Editor's question: Is there a new mystery now posed? Can anyone imagine Hugh Morton not photographing in St. Petersburg? The finding aid lists no images!]

So I then diverted my research to the ’47 Sugar Bowl weather.  I checked the Greensboro papers and there are several stories about the weather and people being stranded at airports.  There is a photograph of Greensboro Tar Heel fans holding their tickets while listening to the game on the radio.  A January 1st Greensboro Daily News headline reads:
“Bowl Tickets Plentiful—Weather Keeps Fans Home.”  There is also a magazine story in the January 11, 1947 issue of The State (pages 3-6, and continued on 18-20) written by Carl Goerch, titled “A Trip to the Sugar Bowl.”  The story tells how Goerch and a group of six Tar Heel fans started out for New Orleans, but due to bad weather wound up in Jacksonville at the Gator Bowl.

Looking back, there were two red flags that should have questioned Morton’s being at the ’47 game:

  • The 1947 pregame photos that appeared in the Greensboro papers were credited to Orville Campbell.
  • A Morton slide show during graduation/reunion weekend on May 13, 1989 put his “Cat Girl” photos in with the ’49 Sugar Bowl shots.

I didn’t catch either one at the time.  I was so sure that Morton was at the ’47 game that two V2H comments that I made (4/10/08  &  2/18/09) were based on what I thought I knew.

So that’s the story of Hugh Morton at the 1947 Sugar Bowl game—a game that he didn’t attend.

A follow-up to a previous post: Back on August 16th, Jack offered the following UNC football / Charlie Justice trivia question in his post on Morris Mason: What year did Charlie Justice complete his final pass to Art Weiner on the field at Kenan Stadium?  As you might imagine, it was a trick question.  We had no takers, so here’s the answer: November 17, 1973.  For a photograph of the event, see The University Report (second picture down on page 9 at http://www.carolinaalumnireview.com/carolinaalumnireview/ur197312#pg8).

Hugh Morton’s first daily newspaper assignment

The previous post on A View to Hugh features a Hugh Morton photograph of Grandfather Mountain, published without credit on the cover of the 8 March 1941 issue of The State.  As the blog post revealed, I suspect the photograph dates from 1940 or earlier, which is relatively early in Morton’s career as a photographer.  January of that year saw Morton beginning his second semester as a freshman at UNC.  His camera had been stolen shortly after arriving on campus in the autumn of 1939, and it was not until sometime around January or February 1940 that he bought his next camera.  So, I wondered, “How early in his career would that have been?”  Today’s exploration unravels an uncertainty and mystery that I didn’t even have until two days ago.

This is an important photograph in Morton’s career.  At the time he made it, Morton was a UNC student with a summertime job as the photography counselor at Camp Yonahnoka.  Here’s one of his accounts about the photograph, quoted from the preface of his 2003 book Hugh Morton’s North Carolina:

In 1940, at nearby Linville, a fourteen-year-old kid from Tarboro named Harvie Ward embarrassed a lot of adults by winning the prestigious Linville Men’s Golf Tournament.  Burke Davis, sports editor of the Charlotte News, contacted the Linville Club for a photograph of Harvie Ward, and I was called to come up from camp to carry out what was my first photo assignment for a daily newspaper.  Davis liked my Harvie Ward pictures, and this led to many photo assignments for the Charlotte News during my college years at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Because this assignment helped launch Hugh Morton’s career as a news photographer, and the early view of Grandfather Mountain was also likely made in 1940, I wanted to know when the Charlotte News published the Ward photograph(s) (two negatives are extant in the Morton collection) relative to publication of the early Grandfather Mountain view in The State.  I searched the Web for information on the Linville golf tournament and Harvie Ward for 1940, but only found a few bits and pieces—and nothing that said when they played the tournament.  So . . . off to the microfilm room.

I scanned through issues of the Charlotte News, Tarboro’s Daily Southerner, and Rocky Mount’s Evening Telegram published during the “golf-able” summer months through mid September, by which time Morton would have returned to Chapel Hill from Camp Yonahnoka and Ward would have already returned to Tarboro in time for their classes.  Nothing . . . at least not that mentioned Harvie Ward winning the tournament in 1940.

I turned next to Morton’s booklet, Sixty Years with a Camera published in 1996, which I recalled also included the portrait of Ward.  As The Jetsons cartoon dog Astro would say, “Ruh Roh . . . .”

The first picture I took on assignment for a newspaper (the Charlotte News) was of Harvie Ward when he won the 1941 Linville Men’s Golf Tournament.  This was a very competitive event, and it was a surprise to everybody that a 15-year-old kid from Tarboro would win it.

Two different statements of fact.  What to do?  Well, I turned to a different newspaper, the Charlotte Observer and here’s what I found: Harvie Ward didn’t win the Linville Men’s Invitational Tournament in 1939, 1940, 1941, nor 1942.  (I didn’t go further, because Morton was in the army in 1943).  A detailed listing of the entrants in the Charlotte Observer revealed that Ward didn’t enter the 1940 tournament; he did, however, defeat Ed Gravell of Roaring Gap to win the “second flight” of the 1941 tournament.  I also found a congratulatory paragraph in the Daily Southerner on August 4, 1941 “for taking first place in second flight in Linville invitational golf tournament.  Harvie is having great time knocking off the little fellows.”  [For golf historians, Sam Perry emerged victorious in 1939, Charles Dudley won the championship flight in 1940, Hub Covington won the 1941 tournament, and Billy Ireland won the event in 1942.]

To be thorough, I searched for both years (1940 and 1941) through mid September.   There are no photographs of Ward in the Charlotte News.  I now even wonder if the newspaper ever published one of these portraits of Ward by Morton.

So in all likelihood, Hugh Morton had it right the first time in the 1996 booklet: the Harvie Ward, Jr. photographs probably date from 1941.  And here’s some supporting evidence: photographs began appearing in the Charlotte News sports section’s “Pigskin Review” articles with the credit line “News Photos by Hugh Morton” in mid September 1941, which is in agreement with Morton’s statement that the Ward pictures “led to many assignments.”  Morton photographed members of the 1941 football teams of UNC (published September 12th), Duke, (September 13th), NC State (September 15th), and Wake Forest (September 24th), plus two photographs made during and after UNC’s season opener on September 20th against Lenor-Rhyne that featured UNC’s standout running back Hugh Cox.  By comparison, there are no photographs in the newspaper credited to Morton in late summer or early autumn of 1940.

My conclusion? So far, the earliest Morton photograph that I’ve discovered to be published in a non-UNC publication is the early view of Grandfather Mountain.  Now, please tell me why I believe the story probably doesn’t end there?!

Timelines

Back on Veteran’s Day, I hinted that I would be writing more about timelines in a future post.  That time has arrived with today’s post.

Morton UNC years timeline

Clicking on this image will take you to the Timelines page.

During the past year or so, I’ve been using a software product called Timeline 3D to construct visual representations for various phases of Hugh Morton’s photographic career.  I found myself going back frequently to those timelines during the past few weeks, and their usefulness reminded me that I should make good on the idea of making the timelines available on the blog.

The thing about the timelines, though, is that I revise them as I discover something new.  If simply presented as blog posts, the timelines would get lost as the weeks and months passed by.  So, similar to the essays, the timelines will be available on a separate page with links to a PDF document for each timeline.  Clicking on the Timeline tab in the menu bar above will take you to the page where the timelines will be listed.

The first timeline to be published is “The UNC Years”; I hope to have a “World War II” timeline up soon. After I have “enough” new entries for a specific timeline, I’ll update the online version.  My goal with the timelines isn’t to capture each and every detail, but certainly the highlights and enough variety to paint a representative picture of the period.

A you look, you will see that not everything in a timeline is totally resolved.  They are meant to be works in progress, a tool to help resolve uncertainties as well as sequence the known events.  Do you know of an event that should be included?  Do you see a mistake or a discrepancy?  Please send it along via a comment and I’ll build it into the appropriate timeline.

All is not quiet on the Morton front

Printing fiftieth anniversary issue of the Daily Tar Heel

Printing fiftieth anniversary issue of the Daily Tar Heel, February 26 or 27, 1942.

“Nothing New in the West” is the more literal translation of the title Im Westen nichts Neues, the 1930 classic novel by Erich Maria Remarque that we who speak English know as All Quiet on the Western Front. Over time the title’s English translation has come to describe inactivity of any kind.  I know it has been quiet on the blog front, but believe me, all is not quiet behind the scenes with Morton collection!

The “unidentified” project a few weeks ago generated identifications or partial identifications for more than forty photographs—thank you!—the records for which have now been updated.  Building on the work of summer assistants, who started locating Morton images in yearbooks and other student publications, I’ve immersed myself into the early 1940s at UNC.  At various times, Hugh Morton was on the staffs of the UNC yearbook Yackety Yack, the student newspaper The Daily Tar Heel, and the humor publications Tar an’ Feathers, and the (new) Carolina Magazine.  Culling through their pages, I’ve been able to add partial or complete identifications and descriptions for more than fifty photographs.

A great example is the above photograph, which previous had the identification:

Unidentified UNC-Chapel Hill students working in printing room (possibly at DAILY TAR HEEL), circa 1940s. A similar photograph appears in the 1942 yearbook YACKETY YACK.

Going through the Daily Tar Heel for the 1941-1942 academic year revealed that the photograph depicts a momentous occasion: the printing of the fiftieth anniversary edition of the Daily Tar Heel, the oldest college newspaper in the south. New news, indeed!

 

A View to Hugh meets Twenty Eleven

Joe Lee Hartley Jr. at Grandfather Mountain, NC changing admission sign

Joe Lee Hartley Jr. at entrance gate to Grandfather Mountain, N.C. changing admission sign, reflecting higher admission prices.

Today marks the debut of the third stylistic incarnation of A View to Hugh. I hope you like it! So what does this mean for you, our readers?  Beyond just the different “look-and-feel” of this new WordPress theme, “Twenty Eleven,” (more on themes later), the updated style allows for different kinds of posts than our previous themes (first “Blue Zinfindel” followed by “Atahualpa”). I’ll be experimenting with these new features for future posts.  If nothing else, the cleaner look will hopefully offer you a refreshing, easy-to-read experience.  And while we had the capability before with the previous theme, I’ve categorized the links to other websites and blogs to make them easier to find and use.  Also added are two icons for links to Facebook and Twitter to make it easier for you to share a post with your friends.  All that, and there’s no change in the admission price.  Please let me know what you think of the changes!

So why the change?  In the spirit of a “Behind-the-Scenes” post, the answer is . . .

Side note: If “library talk” is less enjoyable to you than the sound of fingernails scraping a blackboard, now would be a great time to explore previous posts and leave a comment, read one of the great essays from last year (maybe the essay that includes today’s featured photograph) and start or contribute to a discussion, or explore the online collection of Hugh Morton images!

. . . With the growing desire by library staff members to create new blogs, the library’s IT (information technology) department has become increasingly confronted by the challenges associated with maintaining the corresponding growth in the number of different WordPress themes selected by staff to design their blogs.  (Phew, that was a mouthful!)

WordPress is the software used by the UNC Library that makes these blogs possible. A WordPress theme is “a collection of files that work together to produce a graphical interface with an underlying, unifying design for a blog.

WordPress has a rigorous schedule for version updating. Every time WordPress releases a new version of its software, Library IT staff have to check each blog theme to be sure that it works properly, and then fix what was broken.  That process was getting to be more and more cumbersome with each WordPress upgrade. The same held true when a theme creator updated a theme.

To make life simpler, Library IT initially thought that they might limit staff choices to just a handful of themes.  They eventually concluded, however, that we could select one from any of the 114 free themes supported by WordPress.com (the “hosted” flavor of WordPress where your blog is maintained on its servers; the WordPress software available for downloading onto your own computer/server is obtained from www.wordpress.org.)

At first glance, supporting any number of those 114 themes may seem like even more work.  The key to Library IT’s decision, however, is that (theoretically) by limiting our theme choice to one of those supported by WordPress.com, there is a greater likelihood that a particular theme’s code would also be updated so that it functions properly in conjunction with the underlying WordPress content management software upgrade—and thus function properly with minimal effort on our part.

So . . . if you are still following along, you may have deduced that our previous theme was not among the approved 114 themes. (There are hundreds, maybe thousands, of WordPress themes out there!)

To pick a theme that I thought would work for A View to Hugh, I used the WordPress Themes Showcase and filtered for “Art” and “Photography” and “Three-columns” . . . and didn’t see anything I liked.  More browsing lead me to “Duster,” which I really liked.  Seeing Duster made me think that using three-columns was not as important as it was when we began, because the nature of the blog has changed since processing the collection is now complete.  The need for two side columns to hold all the links closer to the top of the screen just didn’t feel as compelling, and “expanding” to two columns would allow the photographs to be displayed a bit larger (35 pixels wider) and yet still feature the written word.  A View to Hugh has always been about a dialogue between our writers, our audience, and the photographs, which is why we quickly discarded the notion of a “photoblog” in the early design stage back in 2007.

To wrap things up . . . a few days after settling on Duster, WordPress.com announced its new default theme for this year, Twenty Eleven, which they touted as an improved and enhanced version of Duster.  We made the switch . . . and now you know why A View to Hugh met Twenty Eleven in 2011.

Islands of the Pacific revisited

Hugh Morton in Manila Chinese Cemetery

Hugh Morton with camera, Manila Chinese Cemetery, Philppines, circa March 1945.

During the Memorial Day weekend, I looked online through the numerous photographs made by Hugh Morton during his tour of duty in the South Pacific during World War II as a photographer (still and moving image) with the United States Army 161st Signal Photographic Company.  The idea was to have a military post related to the holiday.  I must confess that the exercise consumed the greater portion of my holiday weekend, but it was enjoyable and educational!  It also was rewarding because my journey through the collection, using the geographical subject heading “Islands of the Pacific,” led to several corrections with some interesting new identifications.  Unfortunately it has taken some time to update the catalog records, plus some of the master scans were “M. I. A.” so I needed to rescan those negatives.  That extra work meant that this post got pushed into June—and there’s enough material to merit more than one post.

The delay turns out not to be a such bad thing, however, because significant events in the war in the South Pacific took place during the month of June 1945—particularly on Luzon that lead to the liberation of the Philippines, declared on July 5th.  Ironically it was through that country’s two national heroes from the Spanish-American War—Andrés Bonifacio, and José Rizal—that I was able to identify the actual locations depicted several photographs.

Our first stop on this virtual expedition, however, is 4,000 miles southeast of Manila: Nouméa, New Caledonia.

Noumea, New Caledonia

Nouméa with Mount Dore in the distance, New Caledonia, circa late 1943–1944.

Many of the “misidentified” images are from a batch of negatives that Morton originally labeled “Noumea, New Caledonia.”  Nouméa is the capitol of New Caledonia, a country formed from a group of islands that are more than 900 miles east of Australia.  Nouméa is located on the southwestern coast near the southern tip of a long slender island called Grande Terre and situated on a protected harbor with a small island, Ile Nou, just offshore.  In 1942 the Allies needed to relocate the center of their Pacific operations from Auckland, New Zealand to a place closer to the “front.”  New Caledonia had been a French colony since the mid 19th century, and Nouméa was significantly closer to the action.  During the summer and autumn of 1942, the United States Navy and Army constructed extensive facilities at Nouméa, and on 8 November 1942 Nouméa became the official headquarters of the Allied Commander of the South Pacific.  New Caledonia also became home to many USO performances by Bob Hope and others, which Morton photographed in 1944.

When the army shipped members of the 161st Army Signal Corp to the Pacific, including Hugh Morton sometime in late 1943 or early 1944, they likely landed first in Nouméa.  Above is a scenic photograph by Morton of Nouméa with Mount Dore in the distance, scanned from the original negative with a U.S. Army Signal Corp identification number 22-16 along the left-hand edge.  Another scan in the online collection is from a cropped print.  The snapshot photograph below, with Saint Joseph’s Cathedral in the background, is the only other positively identified view made Nouméa. The original 2.5 x 3.5-inch negative is in the Morton collection, but it has not been scanned.

Street scene, Noumea, New Caledonia

So far, these are the only two images positively identified as Nouméa.  When Elizabeth Hull processed World War II material in the Morton collection, she made a note in the finding aid alerting users that many of the images in that the batch of negatives may not be of Nouméa.  Many of those negatives can now be assigned their proper place on the map: the Philippines, where Morton’s military service concluded in the spring of 1945.  The next post (or posts) on this trip back to the South Pacific will be a reflection of Morton’s tour of duty: “island hopping” our way to the Philippines.