Information Center for Civilian Morale

Today’s post picks up the storyline—begun on 7 December 2011 with the post, Date of Infamy—about the days on the University of North Carolina campus that followed the bombing of Pearl Harbor, as seen through the lens of then student photographer Hugh Morton.

Information Center on Civilian Morale, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina, January 1942

Information Center on Civilian Morale in the lobby of the University of North Carolina library (now Wilson Library), January 1942. As captioned in the Daily Tar Heel,"Persons instrumental in the opening of the Information Center are: left to right, Mrs. Robert P. Weed, assistant reference librarian and supervisor of the Information Center; Russell Grumman, director of the University extension division and coordinator of the University Center; Charles E. Rush, librarian and director of the Center; Dean Francis F. Bradshaw, chairman of the faculty committee on defense; and Mrs. N. B. Adams, assistant in library extension and assistant supervisor of the Center."

On Sunday morning, December 7th, 1941 the major news story of the day—the outbreak of war on America—was still unfolding and unprinted.  War, however, was not absent from American students’ minds.  From the first day of classes in late September, currents of war wove through the pages of UNC’s student newspaper The Daily Tar Heel (DTH).  In its first issue for the school year, the editors, led by Orville Campbell, wrote in their editorial column, “Today the oceans that surround us are no longer barriers, but highways of invasion.  Today we have been aroused to a wartime pitch by propaganda that is as skillful as it is deadly and effective.”  A week prior to the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, the International Relations Club announced that it would be conducting five Gallop intercollegiate polls on campus during the remainder of 1941 and 1942.  In the announcement the DTH noted that initial findings from the first poll showed that “the nation’s undergraduates were still isolationists, but ‘no longer can they be considered as balking idealists trying to hold against the tide of events.'”  By day’s end on December 7th, the tidal wave of war struck at Oahu.

One of the top headlines in the December 7th DTH announced that Louis Harris was named student coordinator for the campus morale drive, which had been in development since mid November shortly after the United States government formed the School and College Civilian Morale Service within the Office of Education that same month.  By month’s end, news about its impact on UNC and the state had reached the pages of the DTH.  Often characterized in DTH articles as “Harris, campus leader,” Louis Harris was a logical choice to lead the campus morale program.  He was vice-chairman of the Carolina Political Union, and had represented UNC at the International Student Service’s first Summer Student Leadership Institute, held during five weeks at Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelts’ Canadian summer home in Campobello, New Brunswick.  On September 24th the DTH printed in its first issue of the school year an article on Harris’ participation at the institute.  Along with the article was a photograph of Eleanor Roosevelt, who spent two weeks with the attendees, asking Harris to join her for in a swim in the pool, or so said Harris in the caption.

A coordinated statewide effort led to the information center’s establishment at UNC.  With the outbreak of war on American soil, the December 9th DTH quoted Harris, “This agency was founded to disperse impartial, non-partisan information to all interested students and persons.  This goal will be in no way changed or modified by the present crisis.”  Information centers would soon spring up across the county.  On January 25th, the DTH published Morton’s photograph of the information center, “still in its infancy,” and its creators assembled in the lobby of the university library (now Wilson Library).  The photograph accompanied an article, headlined “Local Morale Information Center Among First in Nation,” which stated that the information center was the first in the state and had “met intensified interest from the campus.”  North Carolinians wanting to learn more about a specific war-related topic need only send their request on a post card addressed to “Information Center Chapel Hill,” and in return they would receive a packet “free of charge, save mailing costs.”

Morton’s photograph (cropped above as published; click on the image to see the uncropped version) is only the second to appear in the DTH that depicted a campus scene reflecting activity related to World War II, the first having been published on January 11th—a similar version of which can bee seen in the Date of Infamy post.

NOTA BENE: In the 1950s Lou Harris would become a notable and innovative public opinion pollster, whose polling data is archived at UNC’s Louis Harris Data Center. Also, Harris’ papers are in the Southern Historical Collection.  For more on Lou Harris, you can watch a C-Span interview of Prof. David W. Moore, author of the book Superpollsters.

Hundred-picture-a-week Morton

Front page article from the November 16, 1941 issue of The Daily Tar Heel written by Hayden Carruth featuring Hugh Morton.

Seventy years ago today, on November 16th, 1941 The Daily Tar Heel ran a front-page article entitled “Morton Got an Illegal Start Now Gets 100 Shots a Week” by a fellow classmate Hayden Carruth.  The article begins . . .

The marble pillars bristled with dignity., the be-robed judges bowed with solemnity, all was hushed and reserved.  In a word, the Supreme Court of the United States was met for the historic session to decide the fate of the Agricultural Adjustment Administration.  To furtive figures crept into the hall, sat down with their hats on their laps, stayed throughout the session, and departed with the crowd afterwards.  As they were standing on the sidewalk outside, an authoritative looking gentlemen approached and eyed them severely.  He had heard the click of their cameras beneath their hats.

Fortunately for Hugh Morton, and his school mate from the Episcopal high School, Alexandria, Virginia, the gentleman was only Thomas McAvoy, who had been unable to dodge the law restricting cameras in the court.  His identity was common knowledge, and the guards had been warned to watch him for taking illegal photographs.  McAvoy equipped Morton’s friend with high speed films, and the pictures he took in the next session appeared in Life [magazine].

Trying to unpack the above has led to one interesting revelation and a brick wall.  First the revelation.

Many may recognize the name of Hayden Carruth, a 1943 UNC graduate with an A.B. in journalism.  Carruth, who died in 2008, served in Europe in the Army Air Corp after graduation.  In the years after the war he obtained a M.A. from the University of Chicago and became a notable poet who won many awards, including (according to the University of Vermont Special Collections finding aid to his papers) “the Bollingen Foundation Fellowship, the Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship (twice), the Lannan Literary Fellowship (1995), the National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship (three times) and Senior Fellowship, the Vermont Governor’s Medal, the Ruth Lily Prize, the Whiting Award, the Carl Sandburg Award, the Lenore Marshall/The Nation Poetry Prize (1991), the National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry (1992), The Paterson Poetry Prize (1994), and the National Book Award in Poetry (1996).”  Carruth was an assistant news editor at The Daily Tar Heel at the time he wrote the feature on Morton.

And the brick wall? I cannot verify the veracity of the photograph being published in Life.  I found only two possible Supreme Court cases when the story Carruth conveyed could have occurred: United States v. Butler, argued on December 9 and 10, 1935 and decided on January 6, 1936; and Mulford v. Smith, argued on March 8 and decided on April 17, 1939.  Reading through issues of Life around those dates (on microfilm, which is no fun and voids the experience of looking at a photographic magazine!), only the latter revealed a photograph on a page of Life—the May 1, 1939 issue, which was the second issue of the magazine after the ruling.  That photograph depicts William Orville Douglas, and the caption states that he is entering the building to take his constitutional oath on April 17.  The court building’s columns dwarf Justice Douglas, with his back to the camera, as he walks into the shadows beneath the portico.  Life credits Thomas McAvoy for the photograph.

One of Carruth’s sentences reads as if Morton’s friend, not Morton himself, made the photograph as McAvoy handed the film to Morton’s friend.  Another reads as if both Morton and his friend made photographs because McAvoy “heard the click of their cameras.”  Either way, it seems neither had one of their photographs in Life.

Don’t Smoke Your Eye Out post revisited

Andy Griffith and Joe Clark

With cigarette in hand, Andy Griffith takes aim with photographer Joe "Hill Billy Snap Shooter" Clark's slingshot during the Honorary Tar Heels meeting at the University Club in New York City on 21 February 1956. Photograph by Bob Garland.

On Thursday afternoons, my weekly two hour stint on the reference desk allows me the opportunity to research Hugh Morton’s photographic career by turning through pages of The State, a weekly magazine started in June 1933 that is now the monthly magazine Our State.  Morton frequently submitted photographs to the publication after his return from World War II.  His first published images in The State, views from Grandfather Mountain, appeared in the 1 September 1945 issue—just a few months after his discharge from the Unites States Army.

Whenever I find a Morton photograph in The State, I search for it in the online collection of photographs.  If I find it (or one similar to it that was clearly taken on the same occasion) I update the descriptive and date information for that image.  A couple weeks ago while skimming through the year 1956, I happened upon an article about Andy Griffith written by Bill Sharpe in his “From Murphy to Manteo” column in the February 11th issue.  The two photographs that illustrate the article are represented above and below (both without cropping; the magazine cropped both images, including Joe Costa’s right ear and everything to the left—i.e., all of Hugh Morton—in the latter image ).

A View to Hugh featured the photograph of Griffith and photographer Joe Clark in the post “Don’t Smoke Your Eye Out!” on June 12, 2009.  Near the end of that post I declared, “Another Morton collection mystery solved!”  Silly me . . . the caption for the photographs accompanying Sharpe’s “Report on Andy” credits both photographs to Bob Garland.

Hugh Morton, photographer Joseph Costa, North Carolina Governor Luther H. Hodges, and radio personality Ted Malone at 21 January 1956 meeting of the Honorary Tar Heels in New York City.

Hugh Morton, photographer Joseph Costa, North Carolina Governor Luther H. Hodges, and radio personality Ted Malone at 21 January 1956 meeting of the Honorary Tar Heels at the University Club in New York City. Photograph by Bob Garland.

According to the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) website, Bob Garland was a picture editor and war correspondent for the Saturday Evening Post until he joined Graflex Inc. as press technical representative after World War II.  Later he became a press photography products specialist for Eastman Kodak Co.  Garland died in December 1972.  In 1974 the NPPA established the Robin F. Garland Educator Award, which, incidentally, Joe Costa received in 1980.

I haven’t had much luck finding information about Mr. Garland.  He appears on the far left of the group portrait he made which can be seen at the top of the View to Hugh post “Honorary Tar Heels.”  The North Carolina Collection has the tear sheets for a November 1946 Holiday magazine article on Pinehurst entitled “Golftown, U.S.A.” written by George Shearwood, where Garland is credited as the photographer.  Garland was also the photographer for the book We Saw the Battle of the Atlantic: Diana, of Periscope Lane, Torpedo Junction, Hatteras Way by reporter Charles Rawlings published in 1942.  That book is not available locally so I’ve requested it on interlibrary loan.

Can anyone shed more light on Bob Garland?

A North Carolina homecoming

USS North Carolina berthing

USS North Carolina berthing, Wilmington, N.C., October 2, 1961

October 2nd, 2011 marked the 50th anniversary of the USS North Carolina’s arrival in Wilmington.  Hugh Morton collection volunteer Jack Hilliard takes a look at the final days of the historic journey.

October 1961 was a busy month for photographer Hugh Morton.  UNC’s football Tar Heels played host to Clemson, the North Carolina Trade Fair opened in Charlotte, President John F. Kennedy came to Chapel Hill for University Day, and the UNC basketball Tar Heels began practice under new head coach Dean Smith.  But it would be the events of October 2nd that would become a defining episode in the legacy of Hugh Morton.

On October 17th, 1945 the battleship USS North Carolina (BB-55) entered Boston harbor.  The ship had spent forty months in the Pacific during World War II traveling 307,000 miles.  On its arrival, freighters, tugs, transports, and work boats cut loose with whistles, sirens, and bells for the North Carolina’s first salute back home.  During World War II, the ship had been credited with twenty-four enemy planes, one enemy cargo ship, and had participated in every major offensive engagement in the Pacific from Guadalcanal to Tokyo Bay, earning fifteen battle stars.  In the summer of 1946, it twice visited the Naval Academy at Annapolis to embark midshipmen for training cruises in the Caribbean.  Then in October the North Carolina returned to its birthplace, the New York Navy Yard, for inactivation.  On June 27th, 1947 it was decommissioned and assigned to the 16th Fleet (inactive), Battleship Division 4, Atlantic, relegated to fourteen years of retirement at Bayonne, New Jersey.

USS North Carolina at Bayonne, New Jersey

USS North Carolina at Bayonne, New Jersey, no date (P0081_NTBR2_006361_10)

In 1958 a brief news item appeared in the media saying the World War II battleship was going to be scrapped by the United States Navy . . . sold for junk.  When James S. Craig, Jr. of Wilmington heard the news, he was outraged.  Craig set out to save the old ship.  He was able to get Governor Luther Hodges’ attention and support as well as that of incoming Governor Terry Sanford.  Hodges sent a dispatch to Washington requesting that the Department of the Navy postpone its plans to destroy, pending an investigation by the state into the possibility of salvaging the ship. On June 1st, 1960 the North Carolina was stricken from the official Navy list.

A little over five months later, on November 11th, 1960, Governor Hodges appointed the USS North Carolina Battleship Advisory Committee to investigate the feasibility of establishing the warship as a state memorial.  In the spring of 1961, a bill was introduced in the legislature creating the USS North Carolina Battleship Commission.  Hugh Morton was installed as chairman.  During the next five months Morton and his commission initiated an intensive “Let’s bring the USS North Carolina home” campaign that raised the needed funds.

Battleship USS North Carolina Commission visit to the White House, 1961.

Battleship USS North Carolina Commission visit to the White House, 1961.

The United States Navy turned the battleship over to the state of North Carolina in a ceremony in Bayonne on September 6, 1961, with noted newsman Lowell Thomas as master of ceremonies.  The ship’s towing to North Carolina was scheduled to begin on September 25th, but the remnants of Hurricane Esther had other ideas.  A one-day delay was in order.  The weather on Tuesday, September 26th was better and a proud warship headed home.  Instead of an infamous journey to the junkyard, the USS North Carolina’s final voyage would be to a memorial berth in Wilmington, North Carolina—and the stage was set for a true North Carolina homecoming.

Soon after 9:00 a.m. on September 26th, the 45,000 ton USS North Carolina was moved away from its dock at Bayonne.  Five tugs alongside and two others at the bow eased the battleship out into New York Harbor.  Several ships in the harbor gave the majestic North Carolina salutes with their deep-throated horns as it moved down the channel through the narrows to lower New York Bay and then the open sea.  Captain Axel Jorgensen of the lead tug Diana Moran answered each salute.  For the next four days, the Diana Moran and its sister tug the Margaret Moran guided the big ship down the east coast.  On Saturday afternoon, September 30th, the ship circled slowly the lee of Frying Pan Shoals, awaiting an early Sunday morning tide to assist its trip up the Cape Fear River.  The plan was to enter Southport Harbor about 7:00 a.m. on Sunday, October 1st.  But once again, mother nature stepped in: an unexpected northeaster blew in over coastal Carolina, bringing rain and low visibility.

North Carolina Governor Terry Sanford and the USS North Carolina, 1961.

NC Governor Terry Sanford in a borrowed Coast Guard cap, squinting, with the Battleship USS North Carolina on the water in the background. Cape Fear River, off Southport, N.C., October 1, 1961.

The battleship USS North Carolina spent its final night at sea just off Cape Hatteras—the “Graveyard of the Atlantic”—near the skeleton of the Laura E. Barnes, which wrecked off the Dare coast before the turn of the 20th century.  Then at 8:00 a.m. on October 2nd, the ship began the last twenty-seven miles of its final journey.  Thousands of spectators lined the river banks to watch.  Scores of boats followed the big ship as it was pulled by the Coast Guard cutter Cherokee and guided up the winding channel by a fleet of eleven tug boats.  As the North Carolina approached downtown Wilmington at 3:30 p.m., the crowds grew larger.  Bleachers had been set up at the Customs House, and people could be seen hanging out of buildings trying to get a look at North Carolina’s newest tourist attraction.  A band played “Anchors Aweigh” as the battlewagon cleared the Cape Fear River at 5:37 p.m.

USS North Carolina berthing, October 2, 1961.

Aerial view of tugboats maneuvering the Battleship USS North Carolina into its berthing place on the Cape Fear River, across from the Federal Court House in Wilmington, N.C., October 2, 1961.

“The berthing at Wilmington was one of the most tense moments in my lifetime,” said Morton in his 1996 book, Sixty Years With a Camera.  “If it did not work, we knew we had a mighty big ship that would make a formidable dam on the Cape Fear River.”  But it did work: at 5:40 p.m. on October 2nd, 1961, Rear Admiral William S. Maxwell, Jr. USN, Retired, superintendent of the Battleship Memorial, pronounced the USS North Carolina was home.

During World War II, the Japanese claimed six times to have sunk the North Carolina, but the gallant battleship survived every onslaught.  And when it was doomed for the junkyard the people of the great state whose name it had carried during the war, and led by planner and organizer Hugh Morton, saved it for future generations.

Unfortunately, James S. (Jimmy) Craig, Jr. did not get to see the mighty battleship slip majestically into its memorial shrine at the Port of Wilmington.  He was in the Army Burn Center at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, in critical condition from injuries suffered in an air show crash just eight days earlier.  He died on October 14th, the day “The Showboat” first opened to the public.

2012 Democrats to convene in Crown Town

We have to thank, once again, Jack Hilliard for today’s post. . . . “Thanks again, Jack!”

What is one thing the following cities have in common?:

  • Chicago, Illinois,
  • Los Angeles, California
  • Atlantic City, New Jersey
  • Miami Beach, Florida

How about a hint?  Next year Charlotte, North Carolina can be added to the list.

The answer: each of the four cities listed above has hosted the Democratic National Convention—and Hugh Morton photographed all four.

Adlai Stevenson supporters in crowd at the 1956 Democratic National Convention held at the International Amphitheatre in Chicago, Ill.

Adlai Stevenson supporters in crowd at the 1956 Democratic National Convention held at the International Amphitheatre in Chicago, Ill.

Next September 3rd, when the 46th Democratic National Convention gavels to order in Charlotte’s Time Warner Cable Arena, the party’s presidential nominee will most likely already be known.  That wasn’t the case, however, back in 1956 when the Democrats gathered in Chicago.  Adlai Stevenson of Illinois, who had been the party’s presidential candidate in 1952, was again selected on the first ballot getting about 66% of the votes, but the real fireworks came when he asked the delegates to selected the candidate for vice president.  Thirteen names were offered, including Luther Hodges of North Carolina.  But in the end, two candidates were seriously considered: Estes Kefauver of Tennessee and John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts.  It took two ballots for Kefauver to gain the nomination.  As was the case in 1952, the Republicans swept the general election with Eisenhower and Nixon.

	Presidential candidate John F. Kennedy accepting presidential nomination at the 1960 Democratic National Convention.

Presidential candidate John F. Kennedy accepting presidential nomination at the 1960 Democratic National Convention at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. (Photograph cropped by editor.)

A few days before the 1960 convention opened in Los Angeles, John F. Kennedy, the leading candidate, received two new challengers when Lyndon B. Johnson, the powerful Senate majority leader from Texas, and Adlai Stevenson II, the party’s nominee in 1952 and 1956, announced their candidacies.  But in the end, neither Johnson nor Stevenson could match the talented Kennedy team headed by Robert Kennedy.  Giving one of John Kennedy’s nominating speeches was Duke University President and future North Carolina Governor Terry Sanford.  JFK won on the first ballot gaining 53 percent of the voting delegates, and went on to defeat Richard Nixon in the close 1960 general election.

Supporters of Lyndon Baines Johnson holding a large balloon at 1964 Democratic National Convention.

Supporters of Lyndon Baines Johnson holding a large balloon reading "N. Carolina for LBJ" at 1964 Democratic National Convention, held in Atlantic City, N.J.

The 1964 convention, held in Atlantic City, was a little more cut and dried.  The favorite going in was incumbent President Lyndon B. Johnson, who had been Kennedy’s vice president and became president in November of 1963 following Kennedy’s assassination.  Johnson was selected by acclamation.  The ’64 convention took place less than a year after John Kennedy’s assassination and on the final day of the gathering, Robert Kennedy introduced a film in honor of his brother’s memory.  When Robert Kennedy appeared on the convention floor, the delegates erupted in twenty-two minutes of uninterrupted applause, causing him to break into tears.  LBJ soundly defeated Barry Goldwater in the 1964 general election.

Politicians at podium during the 1972 Democratic National Convention.

Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, U.S. Senators George McGovern, Henry Jackson, and Edmund Muskie, then-Duke University president Terry Sanford. (Photograph cropped by editor.)

Eight years later, the Democrats gathered in Miami Beach for their 36th convention.  The convention itself turned out to be one of the most unusual political events in recent history.  A solid 57 percent of the delegates selected George McGovern of South Dakota as their presidential candidate, but the selection for vice president turned out to be somewhat of a joke.  Seventy-seven people were nominated for the position.  Some of the more famous names were Jimmy Carter, Shirley Chisholm, Ted Kennedy and Eugene McCarthy.  There was a group of North Carolinians on the ballot including Skipper Bowles, Jim Hunt, Terry Sanford, and Nick Galifianakis.  Then there was the list that included Dr. Benjamin Spock, CBS-TV anchor Roger Mudd, and “Joe Smith,” the fictitious character from the 1956 Republican convention.  In the end, Thomas Eagleton of Missouri was selected as the vice presidential candidate.  When it was disclosed that Eagleton had undergone mental health treatment (including electroshock therapy), he withdrew and was replaced on the ballot by Sargent Shriver.

Shirley Chisholm at the 1972 Democratic National Convention

Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, the first major-party black candidate for President of the United States and the first woman to run for the Democratic presidential nomination, at the 1972 Democratic National Convention, held at the Miami Beach Convention Center in Miami Beach, Florida. (Photograph cropped by editor.)

The 1972 convention prime time sessions began in the early evenings and lasted until the wee hours, and the bizarre vice presidential balloting caused McGovern’s acceptance speech to begin at 3:00 a.m. (EDT).  The unorthodox behavior of the Democratic National Convention delegates was “rewarded” by voters in the November, 1972 general election.  The party’s nominees lost in the worst landslide in US history.

It is expected that the Queen City hosting the 2012 convention will generate more than 150 million dollars for Charlotte and surrounding metropolitan areas, and will bring in more than 35,000 delegates and special guests.  It will be the kind of event that Hugh Morton would have attended and documented in his own special way.

Charlotte, Noth Carolina circa 1970s-1980s

Charlotte, North Carolina circa 1970s-1980s

Donorians and the Good WILLmington Mission

Donora citizens participating in the Good WILLmington Mission at Bluethenthal Field

Before there was an Environmental Protection Agency, before there was an Earth Day, before Rachel Carson wrote Silent Spring, there was Donora.

—W. Michael McCabe, Regional Administrator of the Mid-Atlantic Region, United States Protection Agency, 1998.

Tucked inside a horseshoe curve of the Monongahela River twenty miles south of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania lies the once industrial powerhouse town of Donora.  The 2010 United States Census counted 4,781 residents in Donora; in 1948, however, approximately 14,000 people called Donora home—except for one week in late November when a national tragedy sent 40 of its citizens to Wilmington and Wrightsville Beach in North Carolina.

Donora’s industrial roots took hold in the early 1900s—at first the site of a wire plant, rod plant, and steelworks, and then a zinc works.  Donora’s continual industrial growth, especially after World War II, made it one of several important small “steel cities” along the Monongahela River as it wends from the coalfields of northern West Virginia through what became known as “The Mon Valley” before reaching Pittsburgh to help the Allegheny River form the Ohio River.

With industrial growth came constant pollution. I grew up sixty miles east of Donora in Johnstown—another small steel city—in the 1960s and early 1970s.  During these years I also spent many, many days visiting my grandparents in Bridgeville thirty miles northwest of Donora.  I can still remember the horrible smells from the Koppers chemical plant there if the wind blew in the wrong direction, and the drive back to Johnstown through Pittsburgh with smoke billowing steel mill furnaces towering right next to the “Parkway East” interstate highway.  And though not as bad as the infamous 1940s when Pittsburgh often saw streetlights burning during the day, the 60s and 70s still had their fair share of air pollution.  It’s funny, however, that while growing up in western Pennsylvania I never heard about “The Donora Death Smog” of 1948; that is, until a few weeks ago when I saw the Hugh Morton photograph above, made in Wilmington, North Carolina—and came to learn something about my own regional heritage.

On Wednesday, October 27th, 1948 an air inversion formed above Donora, trapping a deadly smog over the city.  Many people became seriously ill. By the time rain dissipated the inversion on Sunday, 19 had people died, and between 4,500 and 7,000 (estimates vary) had been afflicted in some way.  The negative health affects of the smog, however, lasted well beyond those few days, especially since the air was usually polluted to some degree, inversion or no. The Death Smog of Donora quickly became front page national news.

Bird's-eye view of Wrightsville Beach, N.C. circa 1940s

After reading this news in Wilmington, North Carolina, L. C. LeGwin approached his friend Bill Broadfoot with the proposition that Wrightsville Beach had a lot of what Donora did not—fresh air and sunshine. Broadfoot was president of the Wilmington Jaycees (Junior Chamber of Commerce), and LeGwin proposed that they invite fifty citizens from Donora for an all-expenses-paid week to Wilmington and Wrightsville Beach. Broadfoot made a proposal to the Jaycees, which it approved, and on November 2nd—only two days after the sickening smog lifted—Jaycees secretary John H. Farrell called Donora’s mayor with the invitation.

A week later, doctors in Donora had a list of citizens most in need of help.  Volunteers and donors in Wilmington and Wrightsville Beach stepped up with free medical care, dinners, concerts, bakery goods, eggs, cereal, milk, vegetables, ice cream, pier fishing, laundry and dry cleaning, haircuts, newspapers, and more.  Government regulations, however, prevented airlines from providing free flights.  After a telegram appealing to President Truman (who was vacationing after his successful reelection in Key West, which included a brief two-hour stop at Cherry Point and New Bern, also photographed by Morton on November 7th) lead to a plea to the Civil Aeronautics Board.  After a few days more of bureaucratic resolve, the C.A.B. issued an exemption that permitted a round-trip flight on Capital Airlines—with one of its two hubs at the Allegheny County Airport in West Mifflin twenty miles upriver from Donora—for a $2,000 fee to be paid by the Jaycees through fund raising.  Finally on November 18th—a week before Thanksgiving Day—a plane donning “Good WILLimgton Mission” especially painted on its side landed at Wilmington’s Bluethenthal Field.

The Pennsylvania guests, or “Donorians” as the Wilmington Morning Star dubbed them, stayed in heated homes and apartments around the Lumina (the large building seen left of center in the above bird’s-eye view of Wrightsville Beach). The week’s activities were many and, needless to say, Hugh Morton and camera were often in attendance.  The Wilmington Morning Star published five Morton photographs during that week, including one very similar to the image below made on Friday, November 19th when the Donorians rode in a motorcade to Orton Plantation. The photograph’s caption noted that their tour was “personally conducted” by Billy Broadfoot and Mrs. Betsy Sprunt. (The Sprunt family owned Orton Plantation from 1884 until selling it in December 2010.)

Donora smog victims at Orton Plantation

A second photograph’s caption exclaimed, “Donorians See First Moss”—to which I can attest that Spanish Moss is not native to western Pennsylvania—as Cesare Valreri “adorns” Elizabeth Chiedor with the natural garland gathered during their tour of Orton Plantation.

Donorians See First MossThere is a detailed account of the festivities held during the Good WILLmington Mission in chapter twelve, “Escaping Donora’s Deadly Smog” in the book, Wrightsville Beach: The Luminous Island by Ray McAllister (2007). Among their activities, a photograph of their tour of Airlie Gardens on Saturday, November 20th is neither in the newspaper nor in the Morton collection.  A Morton photograph made during a dinner at the Trail’s End restaurant appeared in the November 23rd edition of the newspaper; the negative is in the Morton collection, but it is deteriorated.

Donate to Donora fundraisers

An image similar to the “Donate to Donora” photograph (above) depicted Jaycees treasurer Tom James and president Billy Broadfoot raising money for the chartered air flight during the gala farewell party at the Cape Fear Armory on Wednesday night.  (The gentlemen in the picture above are unidentified.)  The published version didn’t appear in the newspaper until Friday morning, however, with the headline “Feed the Kitty”—published politely, perhaps, after the visitors had returned because the newspaper said they were still short $1,400 to cover the cost of the flights.   The photograph below also ran in the Friday newspaper, although cropped as a tight vertical centered on Wilmington mayor pro tem James E. L. Wade and his farewell kissers.

Donorians giving goodbye kisses to mayor pro-tem Wade

The Donora Smog Museum emblem touts, “Clean Air Started Here October 1948.” I find myself wondering about the connection between the Donora Smog and Hugh Morton’s later efforts to document photographically the harmful effects of acid rain in mountains forests. There may not be a direct connection, but the experience may have been one of those small stepping stones along the way to Morton’s campaign against acid rain, which culminated in his award-winning (CINE Golden Eagle, 1994) film, “The Search for Clean Air” narrated by Walter Cronkite.

The View from the Best Seat in the House

Sports are in full swing this time of year here at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill—especially with both Tar Heel basketball teams making it to the “Sweet Sixteen” round of the women’s and men’s NCAA Basketball Championship tournaments.  So given the current climate of this sporting season, our frequent guest contributor Jack Hilliard offers us an overview of Hugh Morton’s sports photography.

Hugh Morton with camera during UNC basketball game[Photograph cropped by the editor.]

A famous UNC basketball anecdote says fans were warned not to block the view from “Mr. Morton’s seat.”  But “Mr. Morton’s seat” was not always confined to a single place.

When TV basketball analyst Billy Packer tells the story of his first encounter with legendary sports photographer Hugh Morton, it goes something like this:

“I was an assistant coach at Wake Forest in the early 1960s, and on this particular day, I was assigned to scout the North Carolina Tar Heels during an ACC Tournament game. I was having a problem because this photographer kept standing up in front of my courtside position.  ‘Sit down,’ I yelled.  But to no avail. And he was also pulling for the Tar Heels and that didn’t set too well either.  Then I hollered, ‘if you don’t sit down, I’m going to knock you down.’ I then felt a tap on my shoulder.  It was a policeman.  The officer said, calm down son . . . you don’t understand . . . that’s Mr. Hugh Morton.  You will calm down and do what he wants you to.”

Hugh MacRae Morton, for almost seven decades, was called the dean of North Carolina photographers and his sports photography became legendary during that time.  It was routine for him to come up from the North Carolina coast or down from the North Carolina hills to cover sporting events in the Triad and Triangle.  In a time long before digital cameras and Photoshop, from his “front row seat” he became a “laureate with a lens,” documenting the sports heroes from NC State, Duke, Wake Forest  and of course his beloved Tar Heels from UNC.  The images frozen by his camera lens comprise the who’s who in North Carolina sports history—David Thompson and Everett Case from NC State . . . Ace Parker and Wallace Wade from Duke . . . Bones McKinney and Dickie Hemric from Wake . . . and Charlie Justice and Michael Jordan from Carolina.  The list goes on: Dean Smith, Jim Beatty, Tony Waldrop, Mia Hamm, Lenny Rosenbluth, and Don McCauley.  When the Tar Heels played for a championship (1982 and 1993) or were invited to a bowl game (1949 and 1950), Hugh Morton was there.  But Hugh Morton was more than the photographer who got the picture of the big play; Morton got pictures of the coaches, the mascots, the fans, and the cheerleaders.  Sportswriters, broadcasters, and administrators were also included in his portfolio. And with many of those folks, he became friends and followed them away from the gridiron or hardwood and captured them at play in sports other than their specialty.

During UNC’s “Golden Age of Sports” (1946-1949) Morton took some of his most famous and imaginative images.  He photographed golfing great Harvie Ward, tennis star Vic Seixes, all-America divers Norman Sper and Sara Wakefield, and the incomparable Charlie Justice.  In fact, that golden age is often called the “Justice Era”: a time when Morton photographs could often be found in, and on the cover of, national magazines.

Hugh Morton’s North Carolina sports photography was not limited to the campuses of the Big Four.  He brought hang gliders to soar off and sports cars to race up his mountain, you know, the one they call Grandfather, and each summer there was the Highland Games.  There was golf from the 1951 Ryder Cup in Pinehurst, to the Azalea Open in Wilmington, to a 1959 PGA event in Greensboro—all were Morton photo favorites.  Then beginning in 1963 he became a fixture at the induction ceremonies for the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame.  NASCAR greats Dale Earnhardt, Junior Johnson  and Richard Petty were photo favorites from the Hall.  The World Series, the Kentucky Derby, and NFL games are also part of his body of work.

When big name athletes—Ted Williams, Mickey Mantle, Clyde King, “Catfish” Hunter, Billy Joe Patton, Arnold Palmer, and Yogi Berra among others—came to Chapel Hill, or Wilmington, or Grandfather Mountain, Hugh was there . . . and there was most often a North Carolina connection.

“What distinguished me as a photographer,” Hugh Morton once said, “was that I knew how to take my pictures to the mailbox.”  Morton sent pictures to the state’s newspapers and would always relate the images to someone or something in the paper’s coverage area.

In December, 1981, Hugh Morton and writer Smith Barrier were in the middle of a book signing trip to Raleigh when Morton had an idea.  Why not stop by the Governor’s office and present him a copy of their new book, The ACC Basketball Tournament Classic? As Barrier related the story: “It was pouring rain and neither of us had a raincoat. . . . The Governor wasn’t expecting us, but we set out across town to the Capitol.  We walked in and Governor Jim Hunt came out and greeted us. I bet it was the first time ever that two guys in wet sweaters walked in unannounced and got an appointment with the Governor.”

Smith Barrier’s story says a lot about the man who was probably North Carolina’s premier promotional genius—and yes, he could take good sports pictures too.  So pick your favorites and have a look for yourself!

A Spark of Greatness, part 4

Today is the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address, which A View to Hugh commemorates with the fourth and final installment of “A Spark of Greatness.” Using photographs by Morton, Edward J. McCauley, and Don Sturkey, “A Spark of Greatness” highlights some of the key events that led to Kennedy’s campaign visit to the Tar Heel State in September 1960. The story presented in A View to Hugh draws from contemporary newspaper accounts and the book Triumph of Good Will, John Drescher’s account of the gubernatorial contest between Terry Sanford and I. Beverly Lake that preceded Kennedy’s visit.

As the Democratic Party’s gubernatorial candidate, Terry Sanford believed that John F. Kennedy would win North Carolina in the 1960 presidential election, but to do so Kennedy would need to campaign in the state. As the Raleigh News and Observer reported on July 15th, 1960, Sanford “told newsmen he is sure that when Kennedy goes to North Carolina, ‘as he will,’ he will convince voters that he has a spark of greatness.”

The North Carolina delegates’ caucus that followed the formal nomination emphasized not only the need for vigorous campaigning in the state, but also a personal appearance by Kennedy. Kennedy did indeed campaign in North Carolina; perhaps just as importantly, as John Drescher notes, Sanford “made Kennedy’s campaign his campaign.”

There are many photographs of Kennedy’s daylong campaign tour in North Carolina in the North Carolina Collection by Hugh Morton, Burlington’s Daily Times-News photographer Edward McCauley, and Don Sturkey, chief photographer of the Charlotte Observer. Sturkey’s photograph of Kennedy, U.S. Congressman Herbert C. Bonner, and Terry Sanford riding in a convertible approaching the football stadium at the Eastern Carolina University in Greenville may be the quintessential photograph that captured that “spark of greatness” reflected by the enthusiasm of onlookers chasing the motorcade. Ironically, this image did not appear in the Observer’s coverage of Kennedy’s campaign swing through the state. (Morton and McCauley’s photographs can be seen by clicking on the links above. Sturkey’s photographs are not available online; the link, however, leads to the collection’s finding aid.)

John F. Kennedy campaigning in North Carolina. Copyright Don Sturkey, 1960.

Photograph copyright Don Sturkey, 1960.

After Richard M. Nixon’s nomination for president on the Republican ticket, pollster Lou Harris showed Nixon ahead of Kennedy in North Carolina by a margin of two-to-one. A month after Kennedy’s campaign swing through the state on September 17th, another Harris poll had Kennedy ahead fifty-one percent to forty percent. On election day, Kennedy won North Carolina with fifty-two percent of the vote.

Fast forward to January 20th, 12:51 P.M—the time Kennedy began his inaugural address. Among its memorable passages, Kennedy observed, “The world is very, very different now. For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life.” And among the memorable accomplishments of Terry Sanford during his governorship was the North Carolina Fund, Sanford’s innovative initiative to address the state’s dire poverty.

A Spark of Greatness, part 3

This is the third post on the story behind John F. Kennedy’s campaign visit to the Tar Heel State in September 1960, drawn from newspaper accounts and the book Triumph of Good Will, John Drescher’s account of the gubernatorial contest between Terry Sanford and I. Beverly Lake that preceded Kennedy’s visit. There’s an interesting story that photographs by Hugh Morton and other photographers in the North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives can help tell. In light of the silver anniversary of that momentous campaign, and during the anniversary month of Kennedy’s assassination, I’ll be contributing a series of posts touching on that pivotal time in North Carolina and the nation.

Sanford chose Kennedy.

Sanford’s decision was a bombshell, and the reaction in North Carolina was explosive. Sanford made his decision while vacationing in Myrtle Beach after his run-off victory over I. Beverly Lake. When Sanford informed Robert Kennedy of his decision, John Kennedy was thrilled and he wanted Sanford to make one of the nominating speeches at the Democratic National Convention (DNC). Sanford, mindful of that his decision would not be popular with many North Carolinians, was reluctant. “Don’t do me any favors,” Sanford told Robert Kennedy. “He really needs you,” Robert Kennedy told Sanford. At the wishes of the Kennedy campaign, Sanford delayed announcing his decision until the Saturday before the DNC in Los Angeles in order to supply a boost to the Kennedy campaign going into the convention. Sanford also agreed to deliver a nomination speech, as seen below (photograph cropped by author).

Fifty-four North Carolina delegates cast their votes for Johnson; by comparison, only eleven Tar Heel delegates sided with Sanford to back Kennedy. North Carolina’s most prominent delegates were Lyndon B. Johnson supporters, including incumbent governor Luther Hodges (who had his sights on the vice presidential nomination) and United States Senator Sam Ervin Jr., seen below holding the Wednesday, July 13th night edition of the Los Angeles Herald Express.  In contrast to the larger headline stating Kennedy was slipping, a smaller headline above the two photographs reads, “‘Solid South’ is Wavering.”

How daring was Sanford’s decision? Sanford’s support of Kennedy was an important symbolic victory for Kennedy because Sanford was a southerner willing to support a presidential candidate from outside the south. Sanford broke what most thought would be a solid bloc of southern support for Johnson. But Sanford’s decision may have been even more critical facing his upcoming race for the governorship. Back home the response was often vitriolic, so much so that Sanford and his fellow North Carolina Kennedy delegates came to be dubbed the “Dirty Dozen.”

A Spark of Greatness, part 2

Terry Sanford and others listening to Elizabeth "Buffie" Ives, Adlai Stevenson's sister, at the 1956 Democratic National Convention

This is the second post on the story behind John F. Kennedy’s campaign visit to the Tar Heel State in September 1960, drawn from newspaper accounts and the book Triumph of Good Will, John Drescher’s account of the gubernatorial contest between Terry Sanford and I. Beverly Lake that preceded Kennedy’s visit. There’s an interesting story that photographs by Hugh Morton and other photographers in the North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives can help tell. In light of the silver anniversary of that momentous campaign, and during the anniversary month of Kennedy’s assassination, I’ll be contributing a series of posts touching on that pivotal time in North Carolina and the nation.

John Kennedy immediately sought out Terry Sanford at the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce meeting in mid January 1959. Sanford was one of only a few of the 1956 Democratic National Convention (DNC) delegates in attendance, and Kennedy knew Sanford was a potential delegate for the 1960 DNC in Los Angeles.  In the above photograph, Hugh Morton captured Sanford (lower right corner) and others listening to Elizabeth “Buffie” Ives, Adlai Stevenson’s sister, during the 1956 DNC. Charlotte Observer photographer Don Sturkey (whose collection is part of the North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives) attended the Chamber of Commerce gathering, but Sanford is not depicted in any of the seven surviving negatives—one of which is shown below [cropped by the author].

John F. Kennedy at Charlotte Chamber of CommerceCopyright Don Sturkey, 1959. North Carolina Collection.

A year and a half later, Sanford was more than just a potential DNC delegate from North Carolina—he was the North Carolina Democratic Party’s candidate in the 1960 race for governor. Sanford had captured the most votes among five candidates during the primary on May 28th, but not enough to avoid a run-off election. On June 25th, Sanford defeated I. Beverly Lake after a month of near-rancorous campaigning. Sanford was now a de facto DNC delegate, and he had to choose between, essentially, Kennedy and Lyndon Baines Johnson for the party’s presidential nominee. North Carolina did not hold presidential primary elections until 1972. Prior to that time, party delegates attending their national convention declared their support for a presidential nominee. Within the state’s Democratic Party the governor and party chairman, both de facto delegates, traditionally selected the remaining delegates—by electoral district and at-large—at the North Carolina Democratic Party Convention, which had been held in Raleigh on May 19th. The party’s candidates for governor and lieutenant governor also became de facto at-large delegates.

Kennedy had impressed Sanford in Charlotte, but now as a gubernatorial candidate his choice had the potential to make or break his upcoming election battle against Republican Robert Gavin—even in a historical one-party (Democratic) state. Sanford’s campaign manager told him, “History is knocking in this opportunity to associate with Kennedy,” while another aide cautioned, “You can’t be for Kennedy. It will kill you.”