A Special Connection

Today, February 19th, marks the 94th anniversary of Hugh Morton’s birth.  Nine days from today, February 28th, would have been legendary Tar Heel basketball coach Dean Smith’s 84th birthday.  As many if not most of you know, Smith passed away earlier this month on February 7th.

In between those two birthday observances will be a third celebration.  On Sunday afternoon, February 22nd, there will be a very special gathering in the Dean Smith Student Activity Center on the UNC campus to celebrate the life of Dean E,. Smith.  There will be players and former players . . . coaches and former coaches . . . students and former students.  And I choose to believe there will be a very special section that will not be visible to those of us in the arena—and Smith, Bill Friday, and Hugh Morton will be seated there.  All present will come together to honor the man who symbolizes what is known as “The Carolina Way.”

To mark all three occasions, Hugh Morton collection volunteer Jack Hilliard takes a look at the special connection that exists between Hugh Morton and Dean Smith.

Dean Smith signaling "Four Corners" during his 879th, and last, victory as head basketball coach at UNC.  Hugh Morton photographed this scene during the Eastern Regional championship game played against Louisville at Syracuse, New York.

Dean Smith signaling “Four Corners” during his 879th, and last, victory as head basketball coach at UNC. Hugh Morton photographed this scene during the Eastern Regional championship game played against Louisville at Syracuse, New York.

Dean Smith, Coach, Teacher, Role Model

—chapter title in Making a Difference in North Carolina by Hugh M. Morton and Edward L. Rankin, Jr.

Soon after Dean Smith arrived on the UNC campus in 1958, he was introduced to Hugh Morton, a longtime friend of the university and its basketball program.  Three years later, when Smith was appointed head coach by Chancellor William Aycock, Smith continued the free photographic access policy that the previous head coach, Frank McGuire, had offered Hugh Morton.  Morton took advantage of that access.  Over the years Morton came up from the North Carolina coast and down from the North Carolina mountains to Chapel Hill to photograph Smith and his championship program.

At the present time, there are nearly 200 images of Smith and hundreds more Carolina basketball action shots in the online collection of photographs by Morton.

For the book Making a Difference in North Carolina, Hugh Morton contributed an eight-page chapter about his friend Dean Smith.  The piece contains eleven pictures of Smith, including one that was to become a Morton favorite.  [Editor’s note: for this occasion, we rescanned Morton’s favorite negative of Smith using our high-end Hasselblad film scanner. It’s much improved!]

Hugh Morton's favorite photograph of Dean Smith, cropped as it appears in the book Making a Difference in North Carolina. Clicking on the image will take you to the scan of the entire negative.  From there you can see other shots made by Morton in the same room, and then explore other photographs of Dean Smith.

Hugh Morton’s favorite photograph of Dean Smith, cropped as it appears in the book Making a Difference in North Carolina. Clicking on the image will take you to the scan of the entire negative. From there you can see other shots made by Morton in the same room, and then explore other photographs of Dean Smith.

In his 1996 book Sixty Years with a Camera, Morton described that famous Smith image:

My favorite picture of Dean Smith is this one (above) made right after UNC won the national championship in 1982 in New Orleans. Except for that net around James Worthy’s neck, you wouldn’t know that Carolina had won.  Everybody was wrung out and fatigued.”

Then, seven years later in his 2003 book Hugh Morton’s North Carolina, Morton further described the picture adding, “Sports Information Director Rick Brewer is looking at his watch, fearful that the story will not make East Coast sports page deadlines, and Coach Smith and Jimmy Black are just plain tired.  They were waiting to be interviewed by the media.”

At a slide show during UNC’s “Graduation/Reunion Weekend” in May of 1989, Morton explained how he got in position to take the famous picture.

There was mass confusion on the floor after the 1982 Championship game as the security folks tried to get Coach Smith and his team off the court.  Coach Smith grabbed me by the arm and said ‘stick with me.’ He then turned to the security guard…pointed at me and said ‘he’s with us.

An earlier blog post recounts the closing moments of that game and includes a link to the broadcast (that’s now no longer functioning) where near the very end you can see Morton on the court near Smith.

Roy Williams, Dean Smith, Bill Guthridge, and Matt Doherty during the 1993 "Final Four" NCAA tournament.

Roy Williams, Dean Smith, Bill Guthridge, and Matt Doherty during the 1993 “Final Four” NCAA tournament.

Another Hugh Morton favorite slide show photograph can be found in Hugh’s 2003 book on page 200.  The image shows Coach Smith with three other coaches that would eventually be UNC head coaches: Bill Guthridge, Matt Doherty and Roy Williams.  This photograph is discussed the blog post “Back at the Top . . . Back in the Bayou.”  On page 198 of the same book, is the opening photograph of this article, taken at the final game Dean Smith won as a Tar Heel—his final victory, number 879.

Of the many books published about Dean Smith and his basketball program, I think it’s safe to say that Hugh Morton played a part in the finished product of most of them.  An excellent example would be Barry Jacobs’s 1998 book, The World According to Dean:  Four Decades of Basketball as seen by Dean Smith.  The book contains 23 Morton photos and the front cover image. (Judging from Smith’s tie on the cover photograph, it also looks to be from his final victory game.)

On June 2, 2006, the evening following Hugh Morton’s death, WBTV, Channel 3, in Charlotte presented a special Morton tribute.  Veteran BTV broadcaster Paul Cameron anchored the program.  During the show several of Morton’s friends were interviewed including Dean Smith, live by telephone from his home in Chapel Hill. Coach spoke of Morton’s loyalty to his University and the basketball program and said, no matter what the weather, Morton always seemed to be courtside and ready for game day.  In addition, Coach Smith paid tribute to Morton’s family, his wife Julia in particular, and said he called often during Morton’s illness and spoke with him when he was able.

Since Coach Smith’s death on February 7th, there have been dozens and dozens of beautiful tributes written in newspapers and delivered on TV . . . many of which were supported by Morton images.  I choose to believe that there will be additional Morton images of Dean Smith taken Sunday afternoon.

You may use the search box at the top of the blog to search for additional  A View to Hugh blog posts that include Dean Smith.

Hugh Morton retrospective at Tryon Palace in New Bern

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Gertrude Carraway at Tryon Palace, New Bern, North Carolina, 1962. The State named Tryon Palace administrator Gertrude Carraway its “North Carolinian of the Year” for 1962, and used a similarly posed portrait by Morton on its 5 January 1963 cover.

The exhibition “Photographs by Hugh Morton: An Uncommon Retrospective” opens for its fourth venue on Saturday, January 10th at the North Carolina History Center at Tryon Palace, 529 South Front Street in New Bern, NC. The exhibition runs through February 22nd, which is just a few days after what would have been Morton’s 94th birthday.

Current plans call for me to give my accompanying lecture “Hugh Morton’s Rise to His Photographic Peak” and a gallery tour on Saturday, February 7th—details to follow once they become finalized.

War times

But how soon will we free Americans forsake the healthy 1914 status for a return to the rapid mobilization of 1917?

—editorial column, The Daily Tar Heel, 15 September 1939

"North Carolina Rifle Team, Camp Perry, Ohio." Hugh Morton (rear, left, with Camp Yonahnoka patch) and other young men posing with rifles.

“North Carolina Rifle Team, Camp Perry, Ohio.” Hugh Morton (rear, left, with Camp Yonahnoka patch) and other young men posing with rifles. The date of this photograph is uncertain, but thought to be circa 1939-1940.

From the standpoint of military remembrances, we are living today within a curious historical alignment: we are amid the final year of the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War, which ended in April 1865; we look back 100 years on the start of “The Great War,” which began in the last days of July 1914; and we mark 75 years since the beginning of World War II in September 1939.  It is that final conflict that falls within the sphere of Hugh Morton, who 75 years ago today began his first day of classes as a freshman at the University of North Carolina.

Frosh Morton likely would have read the school year’s first issue of The Daily Tar Heel, in which the student newspaper’s editors reprinted one of its articles from 1918 about the first world war and now called for neutrality in the second.  In an editorial titled, “The War: Stay Sane; Stay Out of Europe” they wrote,

. . . may the University student body of 1939—well augmented as it is this morning by a heavy influx of new blood, the Men of ’43—steep itself in the attitude of the 1914 group: a general interest in keeping America neutral and uninvolved!

The “Men of ’43,” however, included women.  The Daily Tar Heel noted elsewhere that coed registrations had already surpassed 300 women, with the total anticipated to reach 500—a number dwarfed by total registrations expected to reach 3,600.

There are few photographs in the collection from these early days at Chapel Hill, either of or by Hugh Morton, because his camera was stolen soon after he arrived on campus.  The group portrait above is one of the few in the collection that depict Morton during this time period.  It is not related to the war, but it is interesting to note that Hugh Morton was a sharpshooter with a rifle.  Perhaps this posting will lead to some additional identifications and a more precise date.  The only clues we have about the above photograph stem from comments made on a post a few years ago about a photograph made around the same time on the Canadian border.

Much like developments between 1914 and 1917, American neutrality ended at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Hugh Morton enlisted in the Army in 1942, and his military service relied on his eye as sharpshooter—not as rifleman, but as a combat movie cameraman.

Photographer Hugh Morton at military encampment, holding movie camera. Taken during Morton's World War II service with the 161st Signal Photography Corps.

Photographer Hugh Morton at military encampment, holding movie camera. Taken during Morton’s World War II service with the 161st Signal Photography Corps.

From Richmond to Chapel Hill . . . from Charlotte to the Moon

February 20, 1962 was an important day in United States space history.  On that day, US Astronaut John Glenn became the first American to orbit the earth.  On that same date thirty-six years earlierFebruary 20, 1926an unsung hero of the United States space program was born in Richmond, Virginia.

On this February 20th, Morton collection volunteer and blog contributor Jack Hilliard takes a look at the life and times of that hero: Julian Scheer, who would have turned 88 today.

Julian Scheer posed next to Scheer Bluff sign

Julian Scheer posed next to the Scheer Bluff sign on Grandfather Mountain, date unknown.  This scan of a portrait by Hugh Morton comes from a machine-made print in the Morton collection.  The processing code on the back of the print includes the date 5 September 2001, just four days after Scheer’s death.)

The TV picture was slightly out of focus.  It was black-and-white and the camera was tilted a little. By 2014’s standards of high tech, high definition television, it would likely be branded “NBQ”—not broadcast quality.  Despite all of that, more than 700 million people around the world watched as US Astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first human to set foot on the surface of the moon.

And we almost didn’t get to see it.

In the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) chain of command during the lead up to the launch of Apollo 11, the first trip to land a man on the surface of the moon, one man stood firm with his commitment that a TV camera would be part of the lunar luggage: Julian W. Scheer from Richmond, Virginia, a UNC Tar Heel, and a friend of Hugh Morton and family.

At age 17, Scheer joined the merchant marine and later served in the Naval Reserve. Following that World War II service, he enrolled at the University of North Carolina, graduating in 1950 with a degree in journalism and communications.  He then became UNC Sports Information Director Jake Wade’s assistant, a position he held for three years, before joining The Charlotte News in 1953.  (In 1956 another UNC Tar Heel joined the staff at The Charlotte News.  His name: Charles Kuralt.)

Julian Scheer wading through debris after Hurricane Hazel (1954)During his early days in Charlotte, Scheer covered sports and news stories.  In 1954 he went to the North Carolina coast, along with a group of other North Carolina reporters, to cover Hurricane Hazel.  Also in that group was photographer Hugh Morton who, near the peak of the storm, took a picture of Scheer struggling against the rising water.  The picture earned Morton a prestigious award.  In the 1996 booklet, Sixty Years with a Camera, Morton described the circumstances on October 15, 1954:

Hazel was a very stormy thing.  And when it came ashore at Carolina Beach, Julian Scheer and I were covering it for The Charlotte News.  I asked Julian to walk through my picture, and the photo won first prize for spot news in the Southern Press Photographer of the Year competition.

That photograph is also on the front cover of the first edition of Jay Barnes’ 1995 book, North Carolina’s Hurricane History.

In 1956 Scheer received an invitation from an old college friend.  Nelson Benton, who first worked at Charlotte radio station WSOC following his UNC graduation in 1949 and then joined WBTV Channel 3 News (also in Charlotte), asked Scheer if he would like to join a group that was going to visit Cape Canaveral, Florida.  At that time, there was an Air Force base there and a few rockets had been tested, but very little news had come from the Cape. Scheer made the trip and was fascinated with what he saw and asked his editor at the “News” about a story of what was going on there. The editor didn’t show much interest, so Julian returned on his own time with his own money and did a series of stories.

As the space race heated up and with the creation of NASA in 1958, more and more stories turned up in the papers and on TV.  In 1959 Scheer wrote a book, along with NASA engineer Theodore Gordon titled First into Outer Space. The book was a best seller, but Scheer said the Pentagon took out some important content.  (This was Julian Scheer’s third book.  He teamed with Hugh Morton and Bob Quincy in 1958 for the Charlie Justice biography, “Choo Choo: The Charlie Justice Story.”  That book was published by Orville Campbell in Chapel Hill.  Also in ’58 he wrote Tweetsie, the Blue Ridge Stemwinder.)

Before he completed chapter one of his novel, he got a call from NASA administrator James Webb wanting him to come to Washington.  Webb was very familiar with Scheer’s reporting on the US space program and wanted to hire him as his public affairs assistant.   “We need your help,” said Webb. “I want you to write a plan for coordinating media coverage of the missions,” he added.

Scheer spent the next thirty days back in Charlotte formulating a grand plan that would shape the structure and policies of NASA into a team approach and would be responsible for getting the astronauts out of their flight suits and into the public consciousness.  Scheer never lost sight of the importance of the fact that media includes both broadcast and print.

He sent the plan to Webb and was soon called back to Washington.  When he walked in the door, Webb said, “I accept your offer to go to work for me.”  Both men laughed, before Scheer finally said yes.  “I want you to run this program just as you’ve outlined it.  You’ll work directly for me,” said Webb.

Julian Scheer outside NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C., September 1965.

Julian Scheer outside NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C., September 1965. (This is a slightly different pose than the image in online collection. Photograph cropped by the editor.)

Scheer arrived back at Cape Canaveral just in time for the final mission of Project Mercury, astronaut Gordon Cooper’s two-day stay in orbit in May 1963.  Cooper would be the final US astronaut to go into space alone, because Project Gemini was next and would consist of ten successful two-man flights starting in March 1965 and continuing until November 1966.  Project Apollo and the moon would be next.

On Friday, January 27, 1967 the Apollo One crew, consisting of Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee, was training at the Cape for the first Apollo launch when tragedy struck.  A spark ignited a fire in the spacecraft, killing all three astronauts.  Scheer was faced with a media crisis.  To his credit, he withheld information until all the families involved were properly notified.

Twenty-one months would pass before Apollo would actually fly.  On October 11, 1968 US Astronaut Wally Schirra checked out a new system in Apollo 7.  The US space program was back on track and headed for the moon.  Apollo 8 flew around the moon on Christmas Eve 1968.  Who could forget Commander Frank Borman and crew reading from the Bible on that cold December night on live television?  In an interview after the Apollo program, Commander Borman would say, “the (Apollo) program was really a battle of the cold war and Julian Scheer was one of its generals.”

Apollo 9 in March of ‘69 and Apollo 10 in May were the dress rehearsals for the moon landing which would be next.

The blueprint for Apollo 11 has Julian Scheer’s fingerprints all over it.  He was responsible for naming the Apollo 11 command module “Columbia.”  He participated in discussions over whether the astronauts would place a US flag on the moon and he helped determine the wording on the lunar module plaque that reads in part, “We came in Peace for All Mankind.” But perhaps his biggest achievement was his fight with NASA engineers to get a television camera on board the lunar lander “Eagle.” Weight was a critical issue for “Eagle” and the engineers said a TV camera would just be extra weight.  Said Scheer, “You’re going to have to take something else off.  The camera is going to be on the spacecraft.”  And so it was.

Wednesday, July 16, 1969 began at 4 AM for about 150 CBS News personnel at Cape Canaveral. Preparations were underway for the launch of Apollo 11.  Two hours later, at 6 AM (EDT) came this:

“This is a CBS News Special Report, ‘Man on the Moon: The Epic Journey of Apollo 11.’”

It was the voice of CBS legendary announcer Harry Kramer in New York.  Anchors Walter Cronkite and Wally Schirra were on the air three hours and thirty-two minutes before the launch at the cape. The countdown went well as about 3,500 news personnel watched from the Complex 39 press site at Cape Kennedy (now it’s the Kennedy Space Center).  Among them was Hugh Morton. (According to the Morton collection finding aid, however, only seven 35mm slides are extant.)

An estimated half million space watchers lined the surrounding Florida beach areas.
Then at 9:32 AM (EDT) the mighty Saturn V (five) rocket, powered by 7,500,000 pounds of thrust, carrying Neil Armstrong, “Buzz” Aldrin, and Michael Collins began a slow climb to the moon.

As Cronkite watched on his TV monitor, he jubilantly cried out,

Oh boy, oh boy, it looks good Wally . . . What a moment! Man on the way to the moon!

Most of the CBS launch team then headed back to New York to get ready for the biggest show of all on Sunday, July 20, 1969.

As CBS signed on at 11:00 AM (EDT) on the 20th, the first voice we heard was that of Charles Kuralt, Julian Scheer’s co-worker at The Charlotte News in 1956:

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.  Some five billion years ago, whirling and condensing in the darkness, was a cloud of inter-stellar hydrogen, four hundred degrees below zero, eight million miles from end to end.  This was our solar system waiting to be born.

Kuralt had recorded his essay days before because on this day he would fly across the United States, stopping along the way getting people’s thoughts on this historic day.  His program would be called A Day in the Life of the United States, and would air on September 8, 1970.

Then, Cronkite and Schirra and about 1,000 CBS News team members began a “32-hour day” live from Studio 41 in New York. Among those team members was Julian Scheer’s old college buddy Nelson Benton, who was stationed at Bethpage Long Island at the Grumman Corporation where a full scale model of the Lunar Module was set up. Benton worked with Engineer Scott MacLeod who had tested the module.

During the next five hours, Cronkite and Schirra were at the center of a media frenzy as they introduced feature segments, interviewed space experts, and tossed to CBS News Correspondents around the world.

At 4:08 PM (EDT) the astronauts were given a final “go” for the flight down to the surface of the moon. It took nine minutes and forty-two seconds. Then came Armstrong’s famous words, “Houston, Tranquility Base here.  The Eagle has landed.” Cronkite sat speechless, glasses in hand, shaking his head from side to side.  Schirra wiped a tear from his eye.
In six hours, thirty-eight minutes, and thirty-eight seconds, a 38-year-old American astronaut from Wapakoneta, Ohio would set foot on the surface of the moon.

At 10:25 PM (EDT), Cronkite held up a copy of Monday’s New York Times with the banner headline “Men Land on the Moon.”  Never before had the Times printed a headline in such large type. Then came this exchange between Houston and Neil Armstrong:

Armstrong: “Okay Houston, I’m on the porch!”
Houston:  “Man, we’re getting a picture on the TV, we see you coming down the ladder now.”
Cronkite:  “Boy! Look at those pictures.”
Armstrong:  “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”

It was 10:56:20 PM (EDT) on Sunday, July 20, 1969.

Cronkite:  “Isn’t this something! 238,000 miles out there on the moon, and we’re seeing this.”
Schirra:  Oh, thank you television for letting us watch this one!”

Schirra could have said . . . perhaps should have said (in my opinion):  “Thank you Julian Scheer for letting us watch this one!”

Following the Apollo 11 crew’s return safely to earth on July 24, 1969 after eight days, three hours and eighteen minutes, Julian Scheer was awarded NASA’s highest recognition, the Distinguished Service Medal. He then led the crew in exploiting its public relations potential. He orchestrated and led round the world tours. In a 1999 USA Today article, Scheer said, “The Apollo mission was the chance to show off U.S. technological superiority. Clearly the Russians were going to the moon. We were head-to-head. We emphasized that.”

Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon, said, “He (Scheer) understood the needs of the media and also the needs of the flight crews. He was, in many cases, able to accommodate both.”

Following a successful Apollo 12 mission, Scheer was faced with another crisis during the flight of Apollo 13.  Two days into its flight an oxygen tank exploded crippling the service and command modules.  The lunar landing was cancelled, and for the next six days there was wall-to-wall media coverage until the crew landed safely on April 17, 1970.

When Apollo 14 launched on January 31, 1971, Hugh Morton along with wife Julia and daughter Catherine, were guests of Julian Scheer at the Cape. This mission saw astronaut Alan Shepard, America’s first man in space, return to space and land on the moon.
As it turned out, Apollo 14 was Julian Scheer’s final flight at NASA. Two days after his 45th birthday, on February 22, 1971, he left NASA and would become campaign manager for Terry Sanford’s 1972 run for the presidency.  Scheer remained a consultant to the space program in Washington and was a trustee of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum.

Group portrait of Cape Hatteras Lighthouse committee members,  possibly outside the Carolina Club on the UNC campus. Left to right: Jim Heavner (CEO, The Village Companies of Chapel Hill and broadcaster); James G. (Jim) Babb (Executive VP, Jefferson Pilot Communications); Dr. William Friday (UNC President); unknown; unknown; Julian Scheer; and Hugh Morton.

Group portrait of Cape Hatteras Lighthouse committee members, possibly outside the Carolina Club on the UNC campus. Left to right: Jim Heavner (CEO, The Village Companies of Chapel Hill and broadcaster); James G. (Jim) Babb (Executive VP, Jefferson Pilot Communications); Dr. William Friday (UNC President); unknown; unknown; Julian Scheer; and Hugh Morton.

Julian Scheer and Hugh Morton crossed paths again in 1981 when Morton formed the “Save the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse Committee,” in response to the growing concerns about the safety of the 129-year-old structure.  The committee read like a who’s who in North Carolina and brought together some of the best public relations/media minds in the world.  And of course Julian Scheer, with more experience with government agencies than anyone else Morton knew, topped the list.  The committee offered an alternative to moving the lighthouse as the US Corp of Engineers wanted to do. But Morton’s committee wasn’t able to keep the landmark in its seaside location.

On April 30, 1984, UNC’s great All-America legend Charlie Justice was the subject of a charity roast in Charlotte for the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation. Scheer wasn’t able to attend the event in person, but he sent an audio tape poking fun at his dear friend. The audience loved it when Scheer said he and co-author Bob Quincy would have to answer “for all the lies we told” in that 1958 Charlie Justice biography.

In an interview in 2000, Julian Scheer said, “in my mind . . . I was always writing.  It never left me.  I always got a charge out of seeing my byline in the paper . . . .” Also that year Scheer wrote two children’s books, A Thanksgiving Turkey and Light of the Captured Moon.  He had previously written two other children’s books: Rain Makes Applesauce (1965) and Upside Down Day (1968).

The tragic news from Catlett, Virginia on Saturday, September 1, 2001 was that Julian Scheer had died in a tractor accident at his home.  He was 75-years-old.  The world will forever remember “the small step and giant leap” made by Neil Armstrong 238,000 miles away on Tranquility Base at 11:56:20 PM (EDT) on July 20, 1969; and the award-winning reporting by Walter Cronkite and Wally Schirra to millions of viewers watching CBS-TV; but neither of these historic events would have captured the imagination of the world without that seven-pound TV camera and the strong will of Julian Weisel Scheer, a true unsung hero of Project Apollo and the American space program.

Frank Borman at Scheer Bluff, Grandfather Mountain

Frank Borman at Scheer Bluff, Grandfather Mountain. Scanned from a print that’s not included in the online collection (cropped by editor).

An Epilogue:
In the early 1960s Hugh Morton paid tribute to his dear friend Julian Scheer by naming a nice overlook at the 5,000 foot level at Grandfather Mountain, “Scheer Bluff.” The Scheer family would often visit Grandfather Mountain and in the early 1980s, to his surprise, Scheer received a photograph of astronaut Frank Borman standing at the “Scheer Bluff” sign.  Said Borman, “Julian, this is the first time I’ve called your bluff.  We’ve been through a lot together and I’ve always valued your advice . . . many years of happiness to a true friend.”

If you check the dictionary for the word “bluff,” you’ll find this definition among others:  “rough and blunt, but not unkind in manner.”

Correction: March 14, 2014:  An earlier version of this article misstated the name of the CBS announcer.  It is Harry Kramer, not Ted Cramer.  Kramer’s name is misspelled in a 1968 phone roster.

Today marks 93rd anniversary of Hugh Morton’s birth

Hugh Morton as a boy, dressed in a jacket and tie, standing in front of an evergreen tree, probably in the Wilmington, NC area.

Hugh Morton as a boy, dressed in a jacket and tie, standing in front of an evergreen tree, probably in the Wilmington, NC area.

Today’s post is a simple one marking the 93rd anniversary of Hugh Morton’s birth.  Happy birthday, Mr. Morton!

We here at A View to Hugh are infinitely grateful that you were an outstanding photographer whose photographic legacy lives on in Wilson Library as part of the North Carolina Collection at UNC-Chapel Hill, aiding many with their research, personal enrichment, or enjoyment.

As a birthday gift to our readers, here’s a link to the online collection of more than 8,000 photographs from the Hugh Morton collection.  If you have a little time today, please wander inside and have a look around.

Final weeks for “Photographs by Hugh Morton: An Uncommon Retrospective”

Just wanted to float a reminder out there that the exhibit “Photographs by Hugh Morton: An Uncommon Retrospective” is entering its final two weeks at the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts at Appalachian State University.

Are you going to be in the mountains for a bit of skiing this weekend, but the weather forecast calls for rain on Saturday?  Just looking for something to do in Boone?  Swing on over to the Turchin Center, view the fabulous photography by Hugh Morton, and stay dry!

Emmett Kelly, Jr. at the 1968 Azalea Festival Parade

Emmett Kelly, Jr. at the 1968 Azalea Festival Parade in Wilmington, North Carolina.
Perhaps the world’s most recognizable clown, Emmett Kelly, Jr. sprung into international fame soon after completing his four-year apprenticeship in 1964. Hired by Kodak as the attraction for its pavilion during the 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair, the company employed Kelly as a touring Ambassador of Goodwill for the following four years. During that time period, Kelly was the most photographed clown in the world, including this one by Hugh Morton—a founder and organizer of the azalea festival.

Here are the gallery hours at the Turchin Center:

  • Tue: 10am – 6pm
  • Wed: 10am – 6pm
  • Thu: 10am – 6pm
  • Fri: 12noon – 8pm
  • Sat: 10am – 6pm

Can’t make it to Boone before the exhibit’s last day on January 25th?  Fear not!  We have two additional venues in the works for this year: one farther west this spring and another in the east during the late summer and autumn.  I’ll be posting more information as the details unfold.

Hugh Morton, Tar Heel Camera Man

Wheat, Ashford

Wheat, Ashford, 1949

If you haven’t yet had an opportunity to visit the exhibit Photographs by Hugh Morton: An Uncommon Retrospective at The Turchin Center for the Visual Arts at Appalachian State University, then Saturday, October 5th at 2:00 p.m would be a date worth considering!

As promised in the previous post announcing the exhibit, we have more information on the panel discussion featuring Woody Durham, Betty Ray McCain, and Jack Hilliard.  The event is titled “Hugh Morton, Tar Heel Camera Man,” and you can see a full description of the event by visiting the link to the UNC University Library’s announcement webpage.

I’ll be leading a gallery tour after the panel discussion.  If you plan to attend, please RSVP via email using the link on the announcement page.  And when you get to the Turchin, please say hello and let me know that you are a reader of A View to Hugh!

Photographs by Hugh Morton: An Uncommon Retrospective

1950s portrait of photographer Hugh Morton with Graflex camera.

1950s portrait of photographer Hugh Morton with Graflex camera.

You may have noticed that it has been very quiet here at A View to Hugh the past couple months.  Well, that’s because there has been way too much happening behind the scenes!  I’ve been deeply immersed in curating the exhibit Photographs by Hugh Morton: An Uncommon Retrospective, and today is its official debut at the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina.  For those readers who hail from other states, the exhibit is ten miles or so as the raven flies from Grandfather Mountain.  (By car you’ll need to drive about twice as far.)

The exhibit consists of eighty-six photographs, many of which have never been published or were published decades ago, made from high-resolution scans of Morton’s original negatives and printed on a fine art inkjet paper.  Even if you have seen Morton’s photographs in books, magazines, and online, you probably have never seen his photographs like this before.  Here’s a teaser: the exhibit includes a seven-foot-long seamless panorama printed from six negatives made from an outcrop on the west side of Mount Jefferson in 1954!

The Morton exhibit opening is part of the Turchin Center’s larger Fall Celebration, which includes four other exhibits.  Their celebration is, in turn, part of an even larger event, downtown Boone’s “First Friday Art Crawl.”  Attendance at the Turchin this evening could surpass 1,000 people during the four-hour open house.

We at UNC-Chapel Hill will be hosting a special event at the Turchin Center on Saturday, October 5th—a conversation about Hugh Morton and his photography with his friends Woody Durham (“The Voice of the Tar Heels”), Betty McCain, and regular contributor to A View to Hugh Jack Hilliard.  I’ll be offering a gallery talk after the panel discussion, and there will be light afternoon refreshments.  More details will be announced in the near future.

This retrospective has been two years in the making, and it has been an exhausting but extremely rewarding experience.  The exhibit will be on display through January 25th, and during the coming months I’ll be featuring images in the exhibit with more thorough background and description than an exhibit label will permit.  I’ll also talk about the research and design processes, and more.  So please check back often!

But for now, I’m headed to Boone to take it all in!

Julius LeVonne Chambers (1936-2013)

Julius L. Chambers receiving The University Award

Julius L. Chambers receiving The University Award from Benjamin Ruffin, Chairman of the University of North Carolina Board of Governors, along with President of the University Molly Broad. Morton likely made the photograph during a banquet held on 8 November 2001. (Photographic negative —one of two—was labeled “Julius Chambers University Award”; persons in photograph identified and image cropped by author, and the date of the banquet comes from a program in the University Archives.)

Last Friday saw the passing of noted civil rights attorney Julius Chambers.  Chambers received his Juris Doctor degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1962, graduating first in his class.  In 1964, he opened the state’s first integrated law firm in Charlotte. In 1965 he filed a desegregation lawsuit that became known as Swann vs. the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education.  The case rose to the United States Supreme Court, which ruled in his favor, in 1971.  The court’s decision led to the use of school busing as a vehicle to integrate schools nationwide.  Chambers would come to argue seven additional cases before the United States Supreme court, winning each time.

In 2001 the University of North Carolina Board of Governors honored Chambers with “The University Award” which Hugh Morton photographed.  The award recognizes the “illustrious service to higher education” and is the highest distinction of this nature that the university bestows.

An interesting side note: Hugh and Julia Morton received The University Award in 2003.

UNC class of 1943 20th reunion

This coming Saturday, May 11th, “University History Lives in Wilson Library” from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. during our annual open house for Reunion Weekend.  For the past few years, materials from special collections relating to the featured classes are on display in the Pleasants Family Assembly Room, including a projection show of images running on continuous loop that I create using scans from negatives in the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Photographic Laboratory Collection drawn from the 50th reunion year.  This year’s show honors the class of 1963.

While going through the negatives made during the 1963 commencement weekend, I saw images for other classes that also held their reunions . . . 1953 . . . scan it, nice bold banner . . . 1943 . . . . skip it, ordinary group shot . . . 1938 . . . 1933 . . . wait! . . . 1943?  I pulled out the 1943 negative from its envelope and grabbed a magnifying loupe.  Yep, Hugh and Julie Morton in attendance.

UNC class of 1943 in 1963

Class of 1943 reunion attendees in front of the University Faculty Club, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1 June 1963. This building is now know as Jackson Hall. Hugh and Julia Morton are second and third persons from the left in the back row. Photograph by Don Needham and Barney Young. (UNC Photo Lab Collection, 24311)

Detail of Hugh and Julia Morton

Detail from the above photograph highlighting Hugh and Julia Morton.

The Alumni Review April-May issue (which must have been a few months late) used the photograph with the caption title “Emphasis Was Placed on Low-Pressure, Family Type of Reunion for ’43.”  The event’s focus was “an enjoyable supper on June 1 at the Monogram Club dinning room.”  According the caption, by comparison, the “Pearl Harbor generation” classes of 1941, 1942, and 1943 held a joint reunion in 1962 at the Hope Valley Country Club in Durham.

An interesting biographical comment turned up in the column, “Some Notes from the ’43 Reunion”:

Hugh Morton of Wilmington, realtor, owns and operates Grandfather Mountain, known as “Carolina’s Top Scenic Attraction,” and also does some photographic work. . . .”

Some photographic work, indeed.