Picture Day 1946: When Hugh met Charlie

The summer hiatus here at A View to Hugh is winding down as students begin appearing on campus this weekend.  Hot August days have returned to Chapel Hill and football practice is underway for the 2016 season.  Expectations are high for the Tar Heels just as it was seventy seasons ago.  Today, on this anniversary of the birth of a very special friendship, Hugh Morton collection volunteer Jack Hilliard looks back to August 17, 1946.

Charlie Justice standing with Hugh Morton. Justice is wearing the #22 jersey recovered in November 1948 by UNC President C. D. Spangler during a UNC-Virginia football game. This photograph dates from the late 1990s to early 2000s.

Charlie Justice standing with Hugh Morton. Justice is wearing the #22 jersey recovered in November 1948 by UNC President C. D. Spangler during a UNC-Virginia football game. This photograph dates from the late 1990s to early 2000s.

It was early August, 1946, and it was hot. The annual preseason football magazines had just hit the stands and judging from those traditional predictors, Carolina was going to be something special. Sportswriter Jack Troy wrote in the 1946 issue of Street & Smith Football Pictorial Yearbook:

. . . the Tar Heels are about ready to step back into the picture as a national football power.  During the winter the Tar Heels snatched Charlie Justice from under the noses of South Carolina coaches, and Justice is supposed to be one of the best ball carriers in the business.

On August 17, 1946, Head Coach Carl Snavely greeted 104 Tar Heel candidates along with Kay Kyser, headline radio star and considered Carolina’s greatest all-time cheerleader. Also present was University President Dr. Frank Porter Graham. Of the 104, only 18 were returning lettermen, but Snavely said he expected about 10 additional lettermen by August 26th. By the time editor Jake Wade got the ’46 Football Media Guide published, the lettermen count was 31.

One of the most welcomed lettermen returning was Hosea Rodgers, a 200-pound fullback who led Carolina to a 9 to 6 victory over Pennsylvania back in 1943. Many of the freshmen were returning World War II veterans in their 20s—like freshman Charlie Justice, sometimes called the “Bainbridge Flash.” Justice was the one player who was going to make a good Carolina team great.

With the stage set, practice got underway.  Although classes had not officially begun, there were many students already on campus.  It wasn’t unusual for two or three hundred students to show up for Carolina’s practices.  One of the early official team functions was called picture day, when the players dress out in their game day uniforms and talk with the media and pose for photographs. Of course one of those photographers present was Hugh Morton.  Here’s how Justice described the scene that day for biographer Bob Terrell in a 1995 interview:

The first time I saw Hugh Morton was in August of 1946. The weather was hot and we were practicing twice a day. Sunday was an off day and Snavely and his staff decided that was the day they’d have the press come in and take pictures, get interviews, and so forth. . . We started at two o’clock, and it seemed that everybody in the country was there to shoot pictures. I noticed Hugh Morton on the sidelines, paying no attention to me at all, taking pictures of everybody else.

After about two and a half hours, Snavely said “that’s it guys,” and told the players they could go inside out of the heat.  As the Tar Heels were leaving the field, UNC Publicity Director Robert Madry’s Assistant Jake Wade came over to Justice and said: “Charlie, I’d like for you to meet Hugh Morton. He’s a great friend of the University. He’d like to take a few more shots.”  According to Justice, “We stayed there another two hours, hot as it was, and everything had to be just perfect.”

Finally Morton finished up and as the August sun was setting behind the west end zone, Charlie began the long walk to the Kenan Field House dressing room at the other end of Kenan Stadium. “I didn’t say anything at the time,” Justice said, ”but when I got in the dressing room, everybody had already left. I said, ‘I hope I never see him again.'”

Charlie Justice photograph of Charlie Justice in a posed portrait while punting, circa 1946-1947.

Charlie Justice photograph of Charlie Justice in a posed portrait while punting, circa 1946-1947.

But Charlie did see Hugh again . . . often . . . at practice and on the Kenan sideline almost every Saturday afternoon. They would often carry on extended conversations, and in the end they became friends, a friendship that lasted 57 years. Justice often participated with Hugh at the Azalea Festival in Wilmington and at the Highland Games and other events at Grandfather Mountain. When Hugh Morton announced his candidacy for governor on December 1, 1971 Charlie Justice was with him in front of the Capitol in Raleigh.

“He supported me wholeheartedly,” said Justice, “not just at Carolina, either. When I got to the Redskins, I turned around on the field and there was Hugh shooting pictures. Because of him, I suppose my football career was preserved on film as well as anybody’s ever was. . . . When I went into the [College Football] Hall of Fame, he got Governor Luther Hodges’s plane and flew Sarah, me, and his wife Julia to New York—when we got there we discovered that the girls couldn’t got to the banquet. So Sarah and Julia went over to Broadway and saw My Fair Lady that night. Then we flew back to Raleigh.”

Justice treasured men like Hugh Morton as his friends, and the honor was returned. “We didn’t have ESPN or the Internet back then,” Justice said. “But we didn’t need ’em. We had Hugh Morton. What a great friend he was to our team and to Carolina.”

Hugh Morton photograph of UNC fullback Hosea Rodgers (#70) and left end Bob Cox (#49), late 1940s.

Hugh Morton photograph of UNC fullback Hosea Rodgers (#70) and left end Bob Cox (#49), late 1940s.

“I can close my eyes and still see him with that camera around his neck,” said Bob Cox, an end and place-kicker from the 1946 Tar Heels, “Hugh was always around the team, around the program. He gave meaning to what we were doing. If anyone ever stood for the Carolina tradition, it was Hugh Morton. He helped build the pride and spirit and love for Carolina as much as anyone on the team.”

On a day in late May of 2001, Hugh Morton, along with several Tar Heel friends visited Charlie and Sarah Justice at their home in Cherryville. Of course Hugh was taking pictures, but at one point he stopped and said, “Charlie Justice inspired more loyalty at a key time following the war that was reflected in a huge amount of support for every facet of the University, not just athletics. It would be impossible to put a value on his contributions to the University—it would be in the real big millions.”

On Monday, October 20, 2003, my wife Marla and I, along with 200 plus others, attended the memorial service for Charlie Justice at The Cathedral of All Souls in Asheville. We were seated on the right side of the church where we could see many of the special guests from the Tar Heel Nation seated in the center. Among that group was Hugh Morton. He, like all of us, was obviously emotionally shaken. I think it was the first and possibly the only time I ever saw him at a Charlie Justice event without his camera.

Morton “Uncommon Retrospective” opens in Raleigh

NCMH_flyer_PhotographsByHughMorton

Today is the official opening of Photographs by Hugh Morton: An Uncommon Retrospective at the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh, North Carolina—the sixth venue for the exhibition since its debut in August 2013 at the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts at Appalachian State University in Boone.  The exhibition will be at the museum for more than a year!  Admission is free.  If you are looking for ways to beat triple-digit heat index temperatures this weekend, a visit to the North Carolina Museum of History may be just the ticket.  The exhibition looks terrific!  The museum’s staff designed the exhibition to flow chronologically and several images sport new descriptive labels, so if you’ve seen the exhibition once before it is worth seeing it again.

There will be several programs related to the exhibition in the coming months, including “Hugh Morton, More Than Bridges and Bears” with Hugh Morton’s grandson Jack Morton and me in early December.  I will post more about that event as the date draws near.

This is Living

Clouds

“Clouds”

Only experts take great photographs, and a great photograph (about as common as a great painting) is creative.  Its impact is a stinging slap to the jaded or flagging attention.  And its result will always be some deepened insight into the very nature of one aspect of this life that we are all, flower, man and beast, enjoying together on this our dusty, colorful planet home.

—Donald Culross Peattie in This is Living: A View of Nature with Photographs (1938)

June 1st, 2016 is the tenth anniversary of Hugh Morton’s passing.  During the years that we have been writing for A View to Hugh, we have primarily featured Morton’s photographs of historical events from a factual perspective because that is the mainstay of the North Carolina Collection.  Today, however, presents a marvelous opportunity to explore Morton’s nature photography—and following that link leads you to well over 700 photographs assigned that subject heading.

As you will see, certainly not every Morton photograph is great; there never has been, nor will there ever be, a photographer for whom this could be true.  And even an amateur can make a great photograph now and then.  Not every photograph, however, needs to be great.  The trillions of photographs that we have made are micro expressions of singular moments in time.  Hugh Morton was a gifted photographer who made many great photographs, many more good photographs, and many that were merely visual explorations along the way to making many good and great photographs. We are all honored that his prolific body of work is available in Wilson Library for all to utilize for our own explorations in life.  There is great benefit to all in having one person’s lifelong photographic vision available beyond his or her place in time.

The opening quotation above comes from Donald Culross Peattie’s introduction to his commentary on more than 120 nature photographs by various photographers selected by Gordon Aymar.  Most of the photographs are not great, some are far from it.  Brought together, however, Aymar’s selection and sequencing of the photographs into chapters titled “Life-Force,” “Young Beginnings,” “Home,” “Living Together,” “Hunger,” Mysterious Ways,” “Death,” and “Life the Conqueror” leads readers through many photographic observations that celebrate living.  Morton, with his ever-present camera, explored these very same categories, and more, in his nature photography.

On this tenth anniversary of Hugh Morton’s death, I invite you to explore his nature photography.  Doing so will give you the opportunity to celebrate life as Morton saw it spanning seven decades through his eyes, cameras, and lenses.  To quote Peattie once more:

It is a slender world in the cosmosphere that is set aside for us to inhabit—no more than the surface of one drifting bubble.  The limits of life as we know it are terribly strict.  Within these frail dimensions all living things are crowded, flung together in an intimacy that means struggle.  We are conscripted to that struggle by the fact of birth, delivered from it, generally against our will, by death.  This is living.

The other half of the hyphen

Newscaster David Brinkley sitting before/after a news conference. The slide mount date is February 1971.

Newscaster David Brinkley sitting before/after a news conference. The slide mount date is February 1971.

On April 24, 1988—twenty-eight years ago this week, Hall of Fame newsman and broadcaster David Brinkley (July 10, 1920 – June 11, 2003) delivered the Reed Sarratt Distinguished Lecture in Hill Hall on the University of North Carolina campus in Chapel Hill.  Brinkley, a native of Wilmington, briefly attended UNC before joining the United States Army in 1940.  In 1988 Brinkley was a commentator for ABC World News Tonight, but many in attendance that evening remembered him from his NBC News days as the “other half of the hyphen” on the Huntley–Brinkley Report from 1956 to 1970.  Morton collection volunteer Jack Hilliard takes a look at the life and times of David Brinkley.


 

People have the illusion that all over the world, all the time, all kinds of fantastic things are happening. When in fact, over most of the world, most of the time, nothing is happening. —David Brinkley


One of my earliest TV memories is watching the evening news on CBS with my family in Asheboro, N. C.  In the years 1951 and ’52 we had a 14-inch black-and-white General Electric model TV set.  The news anchor was Douglas Edwards, but we didn’t know him as an anchor in those days.  He was just the face on the screen.  My dad often said he wished we could get the news on NBC because he had grown up with news on the radio with names like H. V. Kaltenborn, Ben Grauer, Morgan Beatty, and Bill Henry. But there wasn’t an NBC affiliated station in the Triad in those days.  WFMY-TV in Greensboro was the only television station in the Greensboro–High Point–Winston-Salem market.  So CBS was our only choice.

In the summer of 1952 we were able to see the Democratic and Republican parties’ national political conventions from Chicago, and the new face on CBS was a man with a funny last name: Walter Cronkite. Television had been at the 1948 conventions with a limited number of stations, but there weren’t many sets in use back then so that TV presence is nothing more than a historical footnote today.  In ’52 things were different.  Most everyone with a TV set watched the conventions, and the day-to-day happenings in Chicago became water-cooler conversations across the nation.

Then, on September 30, 1953, my dad got his wish—television station WSJS-TV in Winston-Salem, an NBC affiliate, signed on the air.  (The station today is WXII-TV).  Most of my dad’s NBC News favorites were there on The Camel News Caravan with John Cameron Swayze.  In addition, there was also a reporter named David Brinkley.

Brinkley began his television career at NBC in 1951, having worked for United Press starting in 1943 following his military service in the army.  One of Brinkley’s early NBC assignments was to cover President Harry Truman’s trip to Winston-Salem for the groundbreaking ceremony for Wake Forest College. (Hugh Morton attended that ceremony as well and we hope to write a post about the ceremony later this year in October.)

When it came time for the 1956 political conventions, NBC faced a major challenge. Walter Cronkite had set a high mark in ’52, so executives at NBC News looked for a way to compete with Cronkite. Their plan was to put in place two anchors for the broadcast. Originally they considered teaming Bill Henry with Ray Scherer, but the NBC brass ultimately decided on Chet Huntley and David Brinkley.

Chet Huntley and David Brinkley. This unattributed photographic print in the Hugh Morton collection is likely a publicity photograph distributed by NBC. A similar photograph on the NBCUniversal website (submitted by Anonymous) dates the photograph as 1956. See http://www.nbcuniversal.com/content/chet-huntley-and-david-brinkley-gain-national-acclaim-their-election-coverage-and-their)

Chet Huntley and David Brinkley. This unattributed photographic print in the Hugh Morton collection is likely a publicity photograph distributed by NBC. A similar photograph on the NBCUniversal website (submitted by Anonymous) dates the photograph as 1956. See http://www.nbcuniversal.com/content/chet-huntley-and-david-brinkley-gain-national-acclaim-their-election-coverage-and-their.

The double-team worked.  It worked so well, in fact, that on October 29, 1956, the two-man-team took over the NBC evening newscast; thus was born the Huntley-Brinkley Report, with Chet Huntley in New York and David Brinkley in Washington.  Brinkley’s dry wit and Huntley’s serious tone became the newscast to watch. Their catchphrase ending to each night’s broadcast was  “Good night, Chet. Good night David. And Good Night for NBC News”—followed by the second movement of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony as credits rolled.

The tandem proved to be a ratings’ winner.  It was not until the late 1960s that CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite finally caught up in the ratings’ race.  From 1961 until 1963, David Brinkley added a magazine show to his resume called David Brinkley’s Journal.  I remember how frustrated I was as a UNC student in 1961 when the local NBC station in the Triangle chose not to carry the program.  The final Huntley–Brinkley Report aired on July 31, 1970 when Chet Huntley retired from NBC News.

Profile shot of newsman David Brinkley standing in silhouette on the Hilton Hotel Pier on the Cape Fear Waterfront in Wilmington, North Carolina, with the USS North Carolina in background. Morton was instrumental in bringing the mothballed battleship to Wilmington in 1961; Brinkley, a Wilmington native, appeared in public service television spots for fundraising. Morton made this portrait during Wilmington's "David Brinkley Day" on 7 January 1971.

Profile shot of newsman David Brinkley standing in silhouette on the Hilton Hotel Pier on the Cape Fear Waterfront in Wilmington, North Carolina, with the USS North Carolina in background. Morton was instrumental in bringing the mothballed battleship to Wilmington in 1961; Brinkley, a Wilmington native, appeared in public service television spots for fundraising. Morton made this portrait during Wilmington’s “David Brinkley Day” on 7 January 1971.

On January 7, 1971, the city of Wilmington staged a special celebration for its native son, declaring the day “David Brinkley Day.” A Chamber of Commerce committee that included Hugh Morton, Wayne Jackson from WECT-TV, and Allen Jones from WGNI Radio, planned the event. Morton’s job was to prepare a “This is Your Life, David Brinkley” slide show. With help from Al Dickson the executive editor of the Wilmington Star-News, Morton was able to get pictures from Brinkley’s early days in Wilmington when as a high school student he had worked for the paper. Jackson was able to get Chet Huntley to narrate the slide show, which was the hit of the banquet that evening.  Following the slide show, Morton said, “We are pretty certain we saw tears on the cheeks of the usually unemotional David Brinkley, once the light came back on.”

Brinkley continued at NBC News doing anchor work and commentary until 1981 when he left for ABC News.  There Brinkley did commentary for the evening news and added This Week with David Brinkley, a Sunday morning interview program with news analysis. The award-winning Sunday morning program continued until November 10, 1996.

Brinkley wrote three books, including the critically acclaimed 1988 bestseller Washington Goes to War about how World War II transformed the nation’s capital.  The title of his 1995 memoir sums up his career in broadcasting: David Brinkley: 11 Presidents, 4 Wars, 22 Political Conventions, 1 Moon Landing, 3 Assassinations, 2000 Weeks of News and Other Stuff on Television and 18 Years of Growing Up in North Carolina.”

During his career Brinkley won ten Emmy Awards, three George Foster Peabody Awards, and, in 1958, the Alfred I. DuPont Award.  In 1982 he received the Paul White Award for lifetime achievement from the Radio Television Digital News Association. He was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 1988 and the North Carolina Journalism Hall of Fame in 1989.  In 1992 President George H.W. Bush awarded Brinkley the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

On Wednesday, June 11, 2003, David Brinkley died at his home in Houston, Texas from complications after a fall.  He was 82.  Richard Severo, writing in the June 12, 2003 edition of The New York Times began his Brinkley obituary with these words:

David Brinkley, whose pungent news commentaries, delivered with a mixture of wry skepticism and succinct candor, set the standard for network television for generations . . .

Brinkley is buried in the beautiful Oakdale Cemetery in Wilmington, North Carolina.

Epitaph on David Brinkley's gravestone in Oakdale Cemetery, Wilmington, N. C. Photograph by Stephen J. Fletcher, 7 November 2015.

Epitaph on David Brinkley’s gravestone in Oakdale Cemetery, Wilmington, N. C. Photograph by Stephen J. Fletcher, 7 November 2015.

An Epilog
The Reed Sarratt Distinguished Lecture Series brings some of the best and brightest minds in the field of journalism and mass communications to the UNC campus each spring semester to discuss matters of importance and concern. The series was started with two events in 1987 and for its third event, the speaker was David Brinkley.

In addition to his discussion of journalism philosophy and principle, Brinkley shared a humorous story from a time when he was an anchor with NBC News:

Many years ago, when I was doing the Huntley-Brinkley Report, I was in an airport somewhere, and I was approached by a gray-haired lady.  She said, “Are you Chet Huntley?”  I said, “Yes, I am.”  If I had walked up to Abbott and Costello, I’m not sure I would have known which one was which.  The woman in the lobby, still thinking she was addressing Huntley, told me she liked me just fine.  Then she said but I don’t know how you can stand that idiot Brinkley.

Brinkley was a hit that day at his alma mater, and four years later returned to deliver the commencement address on May 10, 1992.

Happy birthday, Mr. Morton

Hugh Morton at White House podium, during award ceremony when he received the Theodore Roosevelt Award for Conservation from President George H. W. Bush (not pictured) on October 22, 1990. (Photograph cropped by author.)

Hugh Morton at White House podium, during award ceremony when he received the Theodore Roosevelt Award for Conservation from President George H. W. Bush (not pictured) on October 22, 1990. (Photograph cropped by author.)

Today marks what would have been Hugh Morton’s 95th birthday.  Born on 19 February 1921 in Wilmington, N. C., Morton passed away nearly ten years ago on June 1, 2006 near Grandfather Mountain.  To celebrate, why not spend a few minutes exploring the online collection of Morton photographs?  You can look for cake, ice cream, and presents (but as an adjective or verb!).  There are gifts (or a least gift shops) there, too.

Charlie’s angel

Charlie Justice, Sarah Justice, Mrs. Chan Highsmith, and Chan Highsmith during a 1949 Sugar Bowl party in New Orleans.

Charlie Justice, Sarah Justice, Mrs. Chan Highsmith, and Chan Highsmith during a 1949 Sugar Bowl party in New Orleans.

On this day twelve years ago, the state of North Carolina lost a treasure—and Morton collection volunteer Jack Hilliard and his wife Marla lost a dear friend.  Sarah Alice Hunter Justice passed away in Shelby, North Carolina at age 79.  Today, Jack Hilliard takes a look at the life and times of a very special lady.

She was an angel here on earth, the epitome of a lady, always a gleam in her eye, and she never raised her voice.          —Jane Browne, Justice family friend, 2/18/04

It was early in the spring term, 1942, at Lee H. Edwards High in Asheville.  Football star Charlie Justice knew he was going to be late for class, so he applied some of his football skills and began to run down the hall.  In the process he ran over Sarah Alice Hunter.  She laughed and didn’t make anything of it.  Charlie was impressed, and later asked her out.  A notation in the campus newspaper’s “Rumors Afloat” column on March 20th said, “Charlie looks like he’s finally settled down to one girl—Nice going Sarah.”

Following her graduation in May 1942, Sarah headed to Appalachian State in Boone, but decided to return home to Asheville at Christmas.  Charlie finished at Lee Edwards on May 28, 1943, and was off to the Navy at Bainbridge Naval Training Station in Bainbridge, Maryland.  He continued playing football, while Sarah took a job with the Naval Observatory in nearby Washington, D. C.

Ten days after Charlie led Bainbridge to a 46 to 0 win over the University of Maryland, he went on a well deserved leave.  At the same time, Sarah took a brief leave from her job. The two headed to Asheville, where they were married at Trinity Episcopal Church on November 23, 1943.

Following his military obligation, Charlie and Sarah moved back to North Carolina and enrolled at UNC on Valentine’s Day, 1946.  Since Charlie was eligible for the GI Bill, Sarah got his football scholarship, thus becoming the first female to attend Carolina on a football scholarship.  In Chapel Hill, Charlie’s football heroics became legendary and on football Saturdays Sarah was always in the stands, cheering him on wearing her special good luck hat.  On August 23, 1948, the Justice family increased by one with the birth of son Charles Ronald. (They called him Ronnie.)

SMU All America football player Doak Walker, Doak's wife Norma, Sarah Justice, UNC All America football player Charlie Justice, Julia Morton, Hugh Morton, on the stoop of the Mortons' home in Wilmington. Walker and Justice were participants in the 1950 Azalea Festival.

SMU All America football player Doak Walker, Doak’s wife Norma, Sarah Justice, UNC All America football player Charlie Justice, Julia Morton, Hugh Morton, on the stoop of the Mortons’ home in Wilmington. Walker and Justice were participants in the 1950 Azalea Festival.

Following his playing days at Carolina, Charlie signed on with the Washington Redskins for four seasons.  In 1952, daughter Barbara joined the family and they returned to North Carolina in 1955, where they were often Hugh Morton’s guests at events in Wilmington and Grandfather Mountain.  They especially liked the Highland Games and Gathering of the Scottish Clans each July.

Over the years, Charlie and Sarah offered their name, their time, their talent, and their money to just about every cause in the Tar Heel state from Chapel Hill to Asheville to Greensboro . . . from Hendersonville to Flat Rock and Cherryville.  They were there when needed.  Sarah gave much of her time to the causes that improve the lives of the mentally challenged.  In Cherryville, she helped raise funds for Gaston Residential Services, which provides housing for the handicapped. The Special Olympics program was also close to her heart.  In 1989, when the Charlotte Treatment Center named a wing of its facility for Charlie, they also named a wing of the facility for Sarah.

Sarah and Charlie justice during their 50th wedding anniversary party.

Sarah and Charlie justice during their 50th wedding anniversary party.

On June 11, 1993, Charlie and Sarah lost their son Ronnie…the victim of a heart attack. He was 44 years old.  Following Carolina’s win over Duke 38 to 24 on November 26, 1993, a special celebration was held in the Carolina Inn on the UNC campus. While the win was celebrated, the real reason for the celebration was to offer sincere congratulations to Charlie and Sarah Justice on their 50th wedding anniversary, which was actually on November 23rd but game day three days later gave everybody a good reason for a celebration. The invitation for the event set the stage for the event:

A Golden Anniversary

Should be shared with family and friends.

Please join Billy, Barbara, Emilie

And Sarah Crews, Leah, David

And Beth Overman and in spirit

And loving memory Ronnie Justice,

In celebration of the fifty year

Marriage of Sarah and Charlie Justice.

 

There were family members, teammates, friends, and fans in attendance. Following a family toast by Barbara, Tar Heel Head Football Coach Mack Brown offered congratulations and spoke about the importance of Carolina’s football heritage. And throughout the ceremony, Hugh Morton was there with camera in hand documenting every phase of the event.

You didn’t need to be around Charlie Justice very long before it became very clear that his asking Sarah to marry him was the most important event in his life.  Although she was often thought of as Charlie’s wife, Sarah Justice didn’t fit the old saying, “Behind every great man stands a great woman . . . .” Charlie and Sarah stood side by side . . . they were a team.  They were connected. Their love story was the stuff of storybooks.  Sarah was always there . . . but chose to be just outside the spotlight.

In a 1995 interview with Justice Biographer Bob Terrell, Charlie talked about how the “Hand of Providence” placed him at the right place at the right time: “If I hadn’t knocked Sarah Hunter down while scuffling in the hall in high school, she might never have noticed me.  You bet that was providential!”

Soon after the Terrell biography was published in early 1996, Charlie began a seven-year battle with Alzheimer’s—a battle he would lose at 3:25 AM on Friday, October 17, 2003.  A memorial service celebrating his life was held at The Cathedral of All Souls in the Biltmore section of Asheville on Monday, October 20th.  Asheville Citizen-Times senior writer Keith Jarrett beautifully described the scene outside the church following the ceremony.

“It was one of several warm, touching scenes on a beautiful, cloud-free day with a sky the color of you know what.  Sarah sat in a wheelchair just outside the Cathedral as the UNC Clef Hangers, an all-male a cappella group, softly sang James Taylor’s ballad ‘Carolina in My Mind.’  Sarah tilted her head and was just inches away from the singers.  For a brief moment she closed her eyes, soaking in the words and perhaps recalling the memories of a marriage of love and devotion of 60 years.”

On November 4, 2003, I received a note from Barbara Crews: “Mother and I are at the beach.  Mom loves the ocean.  I think she has such peace now, she feels her job is done, and she did it well. . . . She is the best person I have ever known.”

There was a message on my answering machine when I arrived home from work on Monday, February 9, 2004.  It was from Billy Crews telling me that his mother-in-law had passed away earlier that day.  It had been 115 days since Charlie died. Marla and I had visited Sarah two days before on Saturday, February 7th at Hospice at Wendover in Shelby.  Sarah Justice was 79-years-old.

In an article in The Charlotte Observer issue of Wednesday, February 18, 2004 titled “Caregiver more than Mrs. Choo Choo,” Gerry Hostetler talked with some of Sarah’s family.  Son-in-law Billy Crews said, “She was always full of grace, and for her whole life a caregiver. She enjoyed doing things for other people and being out of the limelight.”  Granddaughter and namesake Sarah Fowler added, “She was a very giving person who always put others’ needs in front of her own. She was the backbone of this family and kept us going.”

Finally, Barbara ended the interviews with this: “She was just a saint, the kind of person you want to be around.”

Meadow George Lemon III, 1932–2015

Booklet, His Home Town's Tribute, with inscription on cover from Hugh Morton to Sam Ragan. Copy in the North Carolina Collection.

His Home Town’s Tribute, with inscription on cover from Hugh Morton to Sam Ragan. Copy in the North Carolina Collection.

The moon is not ready for us yet, so we must live together here on earth . . .

I woke up this morning to the news that Meadowlark Lemon passed away yesterday.  I logged into A View to Hugh to create a blog post.  Jack Hilliard had already left a comment about Lemon’s passing in Susan Block’s essay, “Wilmington: Faded Glory to Fresh Achievement” and he mentioned the above booklet.  I retrieved it from the stacks first thing after arriving in my office.  Leafing through its pages alludes to why the city conveyed the honor to Lemon when it did—but it never even mentions the exact date, only “on a day in March 1971.”  Lemon’s visit to Wilmington lasted forty-eight hours (maybe more) and took place only six weeks after the February 6th firebombing of Mike’s Grocery and the rioting that followed, and the arrest of suspects that became known as The Wilmington Ten.  Lemon’s autobiography, Meadowlark (1987) tells part of the story, too, a story that extends beyond an honorific day.

Born Meadow George Lemon III on April 25, 1932 in Wilmington, North Carolina (though some sources state he was born in South Carolina and his family moved to Wilmington when he was about six years old).  When Lemon was eleven years old he saw a newsreel at The Ritz movie theater about the Harlem Globetrotters.  Lemon’s heart raced as he watched the players handle a basketball, passing it around their “Magic Circle” with faking and mugging while dancing to the music of “Sweet Georgia Brown.”  He couldn’t believe what he was seeing. “In a flash,” he wrote in Meadowlark, “I knew I wanted to be on that team, the Harlem Globetrotters.”  As soon as the newsreel ended, Lemon ran out of the theater, skipping the feature films, to his father’s house.  He had had a life-changing experience and he had to tell his dad—but he wasn’t home.  Rummaging around he found a nearly empty onion sack and threaded it onto a wire hanger, which he nailed the crudely made hoop to a neighbor’s tree.  He went back to his dad’s house and found a Carnation Evaporated Milk, which he scrunched for his ball.  He played basketball this way for hours until his father came home.

Meadowlark Lemon’s story of his basketball origins proceed through Wilmington’s Community Boy’s Club where he played his first organized basketball just after finishing sixth grade and continued learning the game there into his freshman year at Williston Industrial High School, the city’s only black high school.  During his first basketball game as a freshman he played as a substitute center for an injured teammate against Laurinburg Industrial with their star forward and guard Sam Jones—a future Boson Celtic and NBA Hall of Fame inductee.  Lemon was green and outplayed by the Laurinburg center; the next year, however, Lemon was named all-state and continued to be a star player throughout high school.  He graduated from Williston in 1952

After graduation Lemon was indecisive about going to college despite dozens of scholarship offers.  His father decided for him and sent off Meadow by train to Florida A&M.  Lemon thought he had also earned a football scholarship there but he had not.  Unhappy and unwilling to wait until basketball season, after just a few weeks he returned to Wilmington, prepared to serve in the U. S. Army having received his draft notice while away.

Upon Lemon’s return from Tallahassee his high school coach told him the Globetrotters would be playing in Raleigh in two weeks.  His coach had previously written a letter requesting a tryout on behalf of Lemon to his friend Abe Saperstein, owner of the Globetrotters, but had never heard back.  Lemon asked his coach to call Saperstein and secure a tryout for the Globetrotters while they were playing in Raleigh.  His call was successful: all Lemon had to do was get to the arena in Raleigh and ask for Marques Haynes.  Much to Lemon’s surprise, he tried out by suiting up for the game.  Haynes was nursing an injured knee and decided Lemon could show him what he had on the court during the game.  As he enter the gym wearing the colors he had only seen as black-and-white in a newsreel, the announcer read from a slip of paper: “For the first time in a Globetrotter uniform, the Trotters present Meadow Lemon, from our own Wilmington, North Carolina.”

Full frame scan of Hugh Morton's negative used for the cover of the souvenir program His Home Town's Tribute.

Full frame scan of Hugh Morton’s negative used for the cover of the souvenir program His Home Town’s Tribute.

There’s plenty more to Lemon’s story, which indeed took him around the world as a Harlem Globetrotter.  In 1971, however, Wilmington needed Lemon back home.

According to the booklet His Home Town’s Tribute, talk of having a Meadowlark Lemon Day dated as far back as 1965.  So in late 1970 when the Wilmington Jaycees scheduled the Globetrotters for a date at Brogden Hall for March 1971, the Chamber of Commerce was quickly able to form a special committee that included city and county government officials, and educational and civic leaders.  Shedding more light on those developments, Hugh Morton wrote in his profile of Meadowlark Lemon in Making a Difference in North Carolina (1988):

Tom Jervay, editor and publisher of the black-oriented Wilmington Journal refers to [Lemon] not as the “Clown Prince of Basketball” but as the “Clown Apostle of Interracial Good Will.”  Jervay, whose newspaper office was one of several places bombed or burned in the spring of 1971 during a period of racial violence, remembers that his son, Tom Jervay, Jr. and former Wilmington Jaycee Ed Godwin telephoned from the Journal office to Lemon, whose Globetrotters were playing in Charleston, S. C. at the time, to invite the basketball star to help Wilmington.  Goodwin arranged for a private plane to bring Lemon to the trouble city.

Editor Jervay says, “Meadowlark really cooled things down here when we needed him.”  Looking back on the strife in Wilmington which he helped defuse, Meadowlark says he would do it again, but that he will never have to, because things like that happen due to ignorance on the part of both whites and blacks, and “all of us have grown.”

Meadowlark Lemon Day was Friday, March 19, 1971.  The previous day’s editorial column in the Wilmington Star News began with the headline, “The trouble here must stop now!” Earlier that week racial tensions erupted into riots at Williston Junior High School (Lemon’s former high school, then recently integrated), Hoggard Junior High School, and New Hanover High School.  The school district closed the three schools for Thursday and Friday.

According to a photograph’s caption the tribute booklet, Wayne Jackson interviewed Lemon on television Thursday evening.  On set with Lemon was Earl Jackson and Walter Bess of the Community Boys Club, and Hugh Morton as a member of the Chamber of Commerce committee. (For context, in December 1971 Morton would begin his short-lived Democratic Party gubernatorial race.)  On Friday Lemon appeared for a press conference, followed by a luncheon with city and county officials at the Timme Plaza ballroom.  He then visited schools, including Williston, and the Community Boys Club.  Lemon stressed the need to work together to get the schools open.  In Meadowlark, Lemon says he told students, “Get the education. Stay in school.  Let’s get things together and get this trouble over.”

The tribute booklet includes a letter from Lemon in which he acknowledges the importance of the Community Boys Club in his life.  He noted that in two to three years the club’s outdated facility would fall inside the Urban Renewal area and would be torn down.  He added,

At that time a new and better home for the Club must be built.  I am grateful to Tom Jervay, Jr. and Hugh Morton for contributing, without cost, the pictures and text of this book, and to the Greater Wilmington Chamber of Commerce for publishing it.  All profits from the sale of this souvenir book of the greatest day of my lifetime will go to begin the capital account that has been established in the Wachovia Bank in Wilmington to help build a new Community Boys Club.

There is so much good to be done in the world, I know I cannot do it all, but in the part of it I can do I want Community Boy’s Club to be included.  The moon is not ready for us yet, so we must live together here on earth, and the Boy’s Club makes life mean more to a lot of young boys. . . .

Meadowlark Lemon at the foul line during the Harlem Globetrotters game at Brogden Hall in Wilmington, North Carolina on March 19, 1971.

Meadowlark Lemon at the foul line during the Harlem Globetrotters game at Brogden Hall in Wilmington, North Carolina on March 19, 1971.

In Meadowlark, Lemon devoted about three pages to his account of events and circumstances surrounding Meadow Lark Lemon Day.  He recalled being flown into Wilmington five straight days before the game.  Despite concerns that violence may break out during the game, none occurred.  Lemon wrote in his autobiography, “No threats, no staring down.  Blacks and whites sat together, laughed together, sang together.  I felt it was one of the best things I ever accomplished.”

Closing Note: Were you living in Wilmington during this time?  Do you have recollections about Meadowlark Lemon’s visit?  If so, what level of importance do you place on his role at that crucial time?  Please share your experience by leaving a comment.  I believe there’s more to be learned about this topic!

It’s over

It ain’t over til it’s over.

—Yogi Berra (12 May 1925–22 September 2015)

New York Yankees coach Yogi Berra during an exhibition game against UNC-Chapel Hill baseball team in Boshamer Stadium, April 2, 1979. (Cropped by the editor from a 35mm slide by Hugh Morton.)

New York Yankees coach Yogi Berra during an exhibition game against UNC-Chapel Hill baseball team in Boshamer Stadium, April 2, 1979. (Cropped by the editor from a 35mm slide by Hugh Morton.)

Yesterday saw the passing of one of baseball’s all-time greats, Lawrence Peter “Yogi” Berra.  Like so many other notable people in American history, Berra was a subject of Hugh Morton cameras.  His sideline shot of Berra seen above comes from one of the Tar Heels-versus-Yankees exhibition baseball games played at Boshamer Stadium.

Morton may have made his first photograph of Berra from afar while seated in Yankee Stadium’s right field foul line seats during one of the 1960 World Series games versus the Pittsburgh Pirates.  There are a few surviving 35mm slides from the game along with others slides, one of which Morton labeled, “SCHOOL CHILDREN ON TRIP TO NEW YORK.”  Two of the slides made during the game show Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle at home plate, respectively, and there are a handful of wide-angle views showing of the stadium.  If the scene below is the singing of the National Anthem (which is likely because it’s a Kodachrome stamped “1” by Kodak on the slide mount), then Berra is likely standing behind home plate among the umpires.

Opening scene a 1960 World Series game between the New York Yankees and the Pittsburgh Pirates at Yankee Stadium. (Cropped from a 35mm color slide by the editor.)

Opening scene of a 1960 World Series game between the New York Yankees and Pittsburgh Pirates at Yankee Stadium. (Cropped from a 35mm color slide by the editor.)

The book Hugh Morton’s North Carolina includes a photograph made, according to the caption, in May 1999 of Yogi Berra posed with Richard Cole, then dean of UNC’s School of Journal and Mass Communications, and his granddaughter Lindsay Berra, who received her degree in journalism from the school in 1999.  In that photograph, as in all the photographic prints in the collection, Berra wears a “Fly Ball” tie.  Below is a portrait of Berra by Morton.  Look closely at the tie to get a sense of Berra’s famous sense of humor.

Yogi Berra donning a "Fly Ball" tie and a Tar Heel.

Yogi Berra donning a “Fly Ball” tie and a Tar Heel.

Limited time unfortunately does not permit an in-depth blog post, so below the closing photograph is an excerpt from the Morton collection finding aid for “Berra, Yogi.”  The folder of prints contains posed group shots that include the likes of legendary UNC head basketball coach Dean Smith, sportscaster Dick Vitale, John Swofford during his time as  UNC athletic director, and other unidentified people.  Perhaps some more research can lead to a longer post in the near future.  I’ll close today with a scan made from the first item in the excerpted list—the 120 color roll film negative.

P081_NTCR1_2-6-45_4_1

Roll Film Box P081/120C-1
Envelope 2.6.46-4-1
Berra, Yogi, 1980s?
Color 120 roll film negatives
1 image

Roll Film Box P081/35BW-4
Envelope 2.6.46-5-1
Berra, Yogi and Dr. John Sanders, 17 February 1996
Black and white 35mm roll film negatives
3 images

Roll Film Box P081/35BW-4
Envelope 2.6.46-5-2
Berra, Yogi and granddaughter, 1990s?
Black and white 35mm roll film negatives
4 images

Print Box P081/8

Folder 2.6.46
Berra, Yogi, 1980s-1990s
Black and white and color prints
8 images

Photographs by Hugh Morton: an Uncommon Retrospective in final weeks at Charlotte Museum of History

Charlotte from Grandfather Mountain

Hugh Morton’s favorite photograph of Charlotte, as seen from near the Mile High Swinging Bridge on Grandfather Mountain approximately 87 air miles away. Morton made the photograph in mid-December after a cold front had cleared the air, providing some very rare visibility.

Photographs by Hugh Morton: an Uncommon Retrospective is currently installed at the Charlotte Museum of History though September 30th.  I will be there this Saturday, the 19th, for my exhibition talk titled “Hugh Morton’s Rise to his Photographic Peak.” at 1:00.  If you are in the neighborhood, please visit the museum and say hello!

The slideshow image Morton didn’t photograph

On this day . . . actually night . . . sixty-five years ago, a sporting event played out on Soldier Field in Chicago that would have a tremendous impact on North Carolina sports history.  It was August 11, 1950 when the Chicago College All-Star Game game between the best college players of the 1949 season met the two-time World Champion Philadelphia Eagles.  On this special anniversary, Morton collection volunteer Jack Hilliard looks back at a football game of epic portions.

Photograph of a copy slide set on a light table. Hugh Morton made this copy slide for use in slide talks about Charlie Justice.  The black grease pencil line drawn on the bottom of the image and the lack of halftone dots suggests Morton copied a photographic print.  The slide is part of Slide Lot 014859 in the Hugh Morton collection.

Photograph of a copy slide set on a light table. Hugh Morton made this copy slide for use in his slide talks about Charlie Justice. The black grease pencil line drawn on the bottom of the image, the crude obliteration of some object (maybe a referee’s jersey?) in the upper right side of the image, and the streaks rather than halftone dots within the image all suggest that Morton copied a wire-service print. The slide is part of Slide Lot 014859 in the Hugh Morton collection.

Hugh Morton didn’t attend the 17th annual Chicago College All-Star Game, but he was always acutely aware of its place in North Carolina sports history and in the life of one of his closest friends.  Morton often included a wire service photograph in his slide shows from that historic night—a night that almost wasn’t historic at all.

It was July 17th, 1950 and UNC’s great all-America football star Charlie Justice was seated behind his desk in the Medical Foundation Building on Pittsboro Street in Chapel Hill.  It’s was the first July since 1938 that he wasn’t preparing for the upcoming football season.  Soon after taking the Medical Foundation job, the United States Department of State invited Justice to travel to Germany with coaches Jim Tatum of Maryland, Wally Butts of Georgia, and Frank Leahy of Notre Dame to hold football coaching clinics for the armed forces stationed there.  In order the make the trip, Justice had to turn down an invitation from Arch Ward (sports editor of the Chicago Tribune and founder of the Chicago College All-Star Game) to play in that year’s game.

The overseas trip never happened because of events that began on June 25th, 1950— events that would later become known as the Korean War.  So Justice picked up the phone and called Arch Ward.   He asked Ward if the earlier invitation to play in the All-Star game still stands, saying “I’d like to play.”

Ward explained that he had already selected fifty top-notch players for the contest.  He also pointed out that the rules of the game allowed only four future NFL players from each NFL team, and that he already had four Washington Redskins’ players.  Charlie quickly pointed out that, although he was drafted by Washington, he had no plans to play for them.  Ward finally said, “OK, Charlie, if you’re sure you aren’t planning to play for Washington, and you want to be the 51st player on a 50-man team, come on out.  We’ll let you return punts and kickoffs.”

“I’ve given the Medical Foundation my word and I’ll be right here come football season,” Charlie told Ward.  Justice was on the next flight out.  The banner headline in the Chicago Tribune on July 18th read: “NORTH CAROLINA’S JUSTICE JOINS ALL-STARS.”

A crowd of 90,000 was expected on a clear, cool 60-degree summer evening at Soldier Field.  The two-time World Champion Philadelphia Eagles won veteran NFL referee Emil Heintz’s opening coin-toss, but head coach Earl “Greasy” Neale’s team couldn’t move the ball, thanks to the defensive efforts of All-Stars Clayton Tonnemaker, Leo Nomellini, Don Campora, and Leon Hart.  Justice went in on the punt return team, but the Eagle punt was returned by the All-Stars’ Hillary Chollet to the Stars 46-yard line.  As Charlie started off the field, the All-Star head coach, Eddie Anderson, motioned for him to stay on the field.  Anderson said, “run this first series, Charlie, so we can get an idea of what kind of defense the Eagles will be using . . . it’ll give us an idea of what offense we should use.”

On the first play from scrimmage, quarterback Eddie LeBaron pitched out to Justice around the right side and Charlie was off on a thirty-one yard gain.  Three plays later it was Justice again, this time for twelve more yards.  On the next play All-Star Ralph Pasquariello from Villanova took it over the goal line, and the All-Stars led 7-0. Needless to say, Justice stayed in the game.

On the first play of the second quarter, Justice raced down the sideline for forty-seven more yards.  This All-Star drive stalled, but when they got the ball back on an Eagles’ fumble by Clyde Scott, recovered by Hall Haynes (future Justice Redskins teammate) on the Eagle 40, LeBaron dropped back to pass, eluded three pass rushers and finally rifled a pass from his own 40 to Justice who went the distance for a score.  The play actually covered a total of 60 yards and Winfrid Smith, writer for the Chicago Tribune, described the play as “the greatest pass play in the history of these games.”  Football historian Raymond Schmidt in his 2001 book, Football Stars of Summer said “the All-Stars led the Eagles 14-to-0 at the half and the football world was in shock.”

In the third quarter the Eagles finally scored, but the All-Stars came right back in the fourth with Justice leading the way—this time his 28-yard run plus a 35-yard pass from LeBaron to UNC All-America Art Weiner pass set up Gordon Soltau’s 17-yard field goal that made the final score 17-7.  When the dust settled, the All-Stars had gained 221 yards on the ground—an All-Star record that still stands—and Charlie Justice had carried the ball 9 times gaining 133 yards.  That’s 14.8 yards per carry.  He had runs of 31, 12, 47,  and 28 yards.  His 133-yard total was 48 yards more than the entire Eagle team gained on the ground.  Justice also completed a pass to his UNC teammate Art Weiner for 15 yards and he caught a 35 yard TD pass from LeBaron.

Back in North Carolina, thousands of Tar Heels listened to the game on radio—two of those folks were my dad and me.  We sat in our living room in Asheboro listening to WGBG in Greensboro.  A summer thundershower blew through the Triangle area and caused the Durham Bulls game with the Raleigh Caps to be postponed, thus giving those fans an opportunity to listen as well.

On Saturday August 12th, Charlie heard on the radio that he had been selected the game’s Most Valuable Player and would received the MVP trophy at halftime of the 1951 game.  UNC Coach Carl Snavely would make the presentation.  Newsmen and broadcasters covering the game selected the MVP.  Justice was a 2-to-1 choice over runner-up LeBaron.  Six All-Star linemen got votes.  Justice thought LeBaron should have gotten the MVP award.  Said Charlie, “Eddie deserves it.  He’s a great little quarterback and a fine passer.”

“Never since the MVP voting began in 1938 has the voting been so concentrated,” said Winfrid Smith the next day in the Chicago Sunday Tribune.

A game-action photograph of Justice accompanied a Smith Barrier column on Tuesday, August 15th story naming him the 152nd Greensboro Daily News “Athlete of the Week.”  It was the 6th time Justice had received that honor.  It was this photograph that Morton copied and included in his slide shows over the years.  Though no credit appears in the copy slide nor the Greensboro Daily News, the Sunday, August 13th issue of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution credits Acme Photos.  (Editor’s note: according to the Library of Congress, Corbis purchased the Acme photographic archives.  I searched the Corbis website but this image did not turn up.)

The Charlie Justice photograph made during the 1950 College All Star game, played on August 11th, as it appeared in the sport pages of the Greensboro Daily News on August 15th.

The Charlie Justice photograph made during the 1950 College All Star game, played on August 11th, as it appeared in the sport pages of the Greensboro Daily News on August 15th.

On August 17, 1951, Charlie Justice received the 1950 MVP All-Star trophy, presented by UNC Head Football Coach Carl Snavely.  That presentation was seen live across North Carolina via the Dumont TV network, WBTV in Charlotte, and WFMY-TV in Greensboro.  The TV Network linked 46 stations and the Mutual Broadcasting System (MBS) Radio Network had 528 stations.

Said Snavely of his Tar Heel All-American, “You saw Charlie do in last year’s All-Star game what we saw Charlie do many times . . . what we came to expect Charlie to do every time he got on the football field.  I doubt if there has been a finer all-around player in football than Charlie.”  Charlie’s response was “It’s the highest honor that can come to a football player. . . . I accept the trophy for the entire 50-man All-Star squad. . . . They all should be getting one.”

In a Charlotte Observer column on February 21, 1957 written by Justice, he said,  “…I would say without hesitation that the high spot of my career came in the 1950 All-Star game in Chicago.”

In July, 2004, Hugh Morton was the point man for the Charlie Justice statue that now stands just outside Kenan Stadium.  In a note to Glenn Corley, the architect who designed the statue-area surroundings, Morton said, one of the Justice informational plaques planned for the area should include “what I feel was one of Charlie’s most exciting accomplishments: MVP for the College All-Star game.”  Morton then sent me a note asking, “Can you fill me in on the info of the College All-Stars versus the pros?”

I was honored to fill Morton’s request and today, if you stand in front of the statue, the informational plaque on the far right tells of Justice’s MVP performance of August 11, 1950, sixty-five years ago tonight.

Charlie Justice statue at UNC, photograph by Stephen J. Fletcher, 11 August 2015.

Charlie Justice statue at UNC, photograph by Stephen J. Fletcher, 11 August 2015.