JDF Rides the “Choo Choo”

Diabetes Month is observed every November so individuals, health care professionals, organizations, and communities across the country can bring attention to diabetes and its impact on millions of Americans.  A View to Hugh would like to relate an event from the past that raised about $20,000 for diabetes research while at the same time had some fun at the expense of a Tar Heel sports legend.  But first, a bit of history . . .

In 1970 a group of parents in New York City whose children had Type 1 diabetes founded an organization they called the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, or JDF.  The group was defined by its commitment to research-funding and finding a cure for juvenile diabetes.  In 2012, the Foundation changed its name to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, or JDRF, putting a greater emphasis on the need for research.

No one in the celebrity world came close to doing what actress Mary Tyler Moore accomplished with JDRF.  Her efforts were tireless.  She had but one goal when it came to diabetes: to bring to the attention of the world the battle of diabetes and how important it is to one day cure it.  She attended events, met with elected officials, testified before congress, and was always available to help local JDRF chapters with local fund raising by offering her celebrity.  And that’s exactly how she helped the Charlotte chapter of JDF in 1984 when they staged their fifth annual JDF celebrity roast.  Moore recorded videotape spots for the local television stations to air promoting the importance of supporting the Foundation.

Mary Tyler Moore died at the age of 80 earlier this year on January 25, 2017, but she will always be remembered in Charlotte for what she did to make the JDF Celebrity Roast of Tar Heel football legend Charlie “Choo Choo” Justice a success thirty-three years ago.  Morton collection volunteer Jack Hilliard looks back to Monday, April 30, 1984.

Admission ticket, scan courtesy of Jack Hilliard.

Admission ticket, scan courtesy of Jack Hilliard.

A Prolog
A celebrity roast is an event in which a specific individual, a guest of honor, is subjected to good-natured jokes at their expense and it is intended to amuse the event’s audience and in many cases to raise money for a particular charity. Such events are intended to honor the individual in a unique way. In addition to jokes, such events may also involve genuine praise and tributes. The individual is surrounded by friends, fans, and well-wishers, who can receive some of the same good natured treatment as well during the course of the evening.

♦ ♦ ♦

Charles Justice has contributed his fame to hundreds of drives and worthy causes and has generally and consistently served as a wholesome example to impressionable youth.

—Hugh Morton, May, 2000

In early January 1984, it had been almost thirty years since Charlie Justice played his final football game with the Washington Redskins and almost thirty-four since he played his final varsity game with the Tar Heels.  Nonetheless, when the Charlotte Chapter of the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation approached him about being the honored guest at the Fifth Annual JDF Celebrity Roast, Charlie’s reply was yes, “these things are for a great cause and I enjoy them.” Charlie had been guest of honor for two other celebrity gatherings, one in Greensboro on October 29, 1980 called “Dinner of Champions,” sponsored by the Central North Carolina Chapter of the Multiple Sclerosis Society, and one in his native Asheville on January 27, 1984 sponsored by the Western Carolina Children’s Foundation.

Justice was in great company at the fifth annual event.  The four who preceded Justice were Clyde McLean of WBTV in 1979, Kays Gary of The Charlotte Observer in 1980, Eddie Knox, former Charlotte mayor in 1982, and famed basketball player and coach Horace “Bones” McKinney in 1983.

If you didn’t know better, you might think this was a UNC reunion. The event’s Honorary Chairman was Johnny Harris, UNC Class of 1969.  Two other Tar Heels who worked behind the scenes were Erskine Bowles ’67 and Ray Farris ’62.  Tar Heel roasters included newspaper publisher Orville Campbell ’42; Woody Durham, Voice of the Tar Heels, ’63; UNC President Dr. William Friday, ’48; and UNC All-America football star and Justice’s classmate Art Weiner, ’50.

Dignitaries featured during the Fifth Annual JDF Roast: (back row, left to right): Bill Hensley, Orville Campbell, Bill Friday; (front row, left to right): Woody Durham, Art Weiner, Charlie Justice, John "Buck" Fraley. Photograph by Hugh Morton, cropped by the editor.

Dignitaries featured during the Fifth Annual JDF Roast: (back row, left to right): Bill Hensley, Orville Campbell, Bill Friday; (front row, left to right): Woody Durham, Art Weiner, Charlie Justice, John “Buck” Fraley. Photograph by Hugh Morton, cropped by the editor.

With Master of Ceremonies Bill Hensley in control (sort of), the “roasting” fun began.  Charlie was ushered into the Sheraton Center with the singing of “All The Way Choo Choo” to the delight of the 450 guests. The singing was led by Charlie’s daughter Barbara Crews.

Roaster: Orville Campbell

Chapel Hill newspaper publisher and the man responsible for recording “All The Way Choo Choo,”  Orville Campbell then stepped up to the mic.  “We always liked to take our songs over to Mr. W. D. Carmichael, then acting University President, and get his opinion.  So when Hank Beebe and I finished All The Way Choo Choo, I went over to Carmichael’s office.  He was extremely busy that day, but I went in anyway.  His desk was covered with papers and he didn’t even look up.

“What do you want, Orville?” said Carmichael.

“I just wanted to know if you had heard our last song.”

“I hope the h— I have,” was Carmichael’s reply.

“Back in 1958,” Campbell continued, “I published a book which was written by Bob Quincy and Julian Scheer called Choo Choo: The Charlie Justice Story.  We still have a warehouse full of those books over in Chapel Hill and I brought a few of them over here tonight to see if anybody here would pay $25 for a copy and if so, we’ll donate that money to JDF.  And after we’re finished here, we’ll lock the door so Charlie can’t get away and have him sign ‘em.”

Campbell, who had been Charlie’s friend and fan since he arrived in Chapel Hill in 1946, then took out a letter that UNC Head Football Coach Carl Snavely supposedly wrote to Justice following that famous 1948 Texas game in Chapel Hill.

“In discussing your touchdown pass to Art Weiner, Charlie, Coach Snavely reminded you that, ‘Your wobbly pass to Art Weiner would have never been caught except that Art made a great catch and Texas had a poor pass defense.’”

Campbell then put on a number 22 college all-star jersey and modeled it for the crowd. Justice had donated the jersey to be auctioned with money going to JDF.  The jersey went for $1,000.

Roaster: Woody Durham

Next up was “The Voice” of Tar Heel football and basketball, Woody Durham.  Woody told the story of how Justice had decided to go to the University of South Carolina, when his brother Jack talked him out of it and convinced him he should go to UNC.  Durham then turned to Charlotte JDF Chapter President Cassie Phillipi and asked, “Cassie, how much money do you think we could raise if we were holding this gathering in Columbia tonight?”  Then Durham said he wanted to relate a recent story from his visit to Atlanta and added, “This is the only story I’ll tell from that Atlanta trip . . . I promise.”

“I was in Atlanta covering Dean Smith’s 1984 Tar Heels in the NCAA Tournament. The morning of the game, I was in the hotel room preparing for that night’s radio broadcast. The TV set was on but the sound was turned down real low and I wasn’t paying any attention to it. Then something caught my attention. The CBS program The Price is Right host Bob Barker had introduced a contestant form North Carolina. Then Barker said, ‘Who was the great All America football player from North Carolina back in the 1940s?’  Immediately someone in the audience shouted out, “Choo Choo.”  Barker quickly added, That’s right, Choo Choo Charlie Justice.’”

“Folks it’s been 35 years since Charlie played for Carolina, but his name is still magic.”

Roaster: Bill Friday

Up next . . . University of North Carolina President Dr. William Friday spoke of “the rightness of all he symbolizes in American Sports.”

“When thirty years pass, a haze often settles over memory but not the recollections of Charlie Justice on the football field.  He could do it all and he did. . . . All of the adulations and publicity never increased his hat size.  An unassuming and cheerful manner always has characterized this man of extraordinary gifts.  He has been greatly blessed in another way, he has Sarah.”

Woody Durham, John "Buck" Fraley, and Sarah and Charlie Justice during the evening's festivities. Photograph by Hugh Morton.

Woody Durham, John “Buck” Fraley, and Sarah and Charlie Justice during the evening’s festivities. Photograph by Hugh Morton.

The 52-page souvenir program book for the 5th Annual JDF Roast is, in reality, a Charlie Justice scrapbook with dozens of Hugh Morton photographs included.  The book was designed by George Van Allen of G.V.A. Associates and the Justice cover-caricature was done by Gene Payne of The Charlotte Observer.  Charlie must have approved of the caricature; there was a huge version of it on the wall of his Cherryville office.  Also included in the book is a beautifully written Justice profile by Observer columnist Ron Green.

Roaster: John Fraley

John L. “Buck” Fraley, President and Chief Operating Officer of Carolina Freight, was next up.  Fraley’s company was a prime client of the Justice-Crews Insurance Company in Cherryville and had been so for many years. Fraley, a NC State graduate, talked about Charlie’s brief 1964 venture into politics. Also in the audience was Ken Younger who would take Fraley’s place with the company in 1985 following Fraley’s retirement. And if memory serves me correctly, it was Younger who bought the Justice All-Star jersey and then presented it to Charlie’s daughter Barbara. And by the way, Ken Younger, is a 1949 Duke graduate, who played football against Charlie and the Tar Heels.

Roaster: Art Wiener

Hugh Morton and the Charlotte JDF Chapter had prepared several large Charlie Justice action pictures and offered them for sale—the profits, of course, going to the Diabetes Foundation.  So when Justice’s friend, teammate, and business partner Art Weiner stepped up to speak, he commented on the pictures.

“Did you ever wonder why there are so many fantastic Hugh Morton action pictures of Charlie Justice?  Well, Hugh Morton was a world class, fantastic photographer, but there is another reason.  We had one member on our team who never touched the ball . . . never made a tackle . . . never threw a block.  His only purpose in life was to let Charlie Justice know where Hugh Morton was on the sidelines.”

“Where do you suppose he had his first heart attack? At halftime at the Carolina-Pitt game a few years back. They were carrying him out on a stretcher and everybody was looking and there was Charlie, waving to the crowd.”

Weiner then looked over at Orville Campbell.  “I didn’t know the ball was supposed to spiral until I got into pro ball. Charlie always threw it end-over-end.”

“I lived beside Charlie for four years and he got new Cadilacs all four years.  There was always trucks backing up to his door and unloading things.”

“My scholarship was a piece of wood with a nail on it, and I was told that I could keep anything that blew across my yard.”

When the laughter died down, Weiner got serious.

“I can honestly say Charlie Justice is not only the best friend I ever had, but in my opinion he is greatest athlete North Carolina ever had.”

Charlie Justice

When Justice finally got to the mic, he denied all, then thanked all for attending, and poked a little bit of fun at his “roasters,” telling his dear friend Art Weiner, “at least you had a scholarship at Carolina. . . I didn’t even have a one. . . Sarah had the scholarship in our family.  And as for those four Cadilacs you mentioned . . . was really one ’48 Chevy.”  He then related the importance of the fund-raising for diabetes research.  At the end of the evening’s festivities, more than $20,000 had been raised for that research.

♦ ♦ ♦

Ron Green, writing in the May 2, 1984 edition of The Charlotte Observer under the headline “Highest Praise To Choo Choo,” said, “They came not to praise Charlie Choo Choo Justice but to roast him. They did both Monday night at the Sheraton Center. . .  Others of his era are yellowed memories now, but Justice shines on, brightly, like a star . . . the long, rambling touchdown runs . . . the winning passes . . . the record-setting punts that took North Carolina out of danger.  Almost campy.  Almost as if he were playing himself in the lead role of a low budget movie with the title ‘Justice Rides Again.’  So good. So right.”

♦ ♦ ♦

WFMY-TV in Greensboro recorded the JDF roast in Charlotte on videotape for filmmaker David Solomon, the President of David Solomon Productions in Winston-Salem.  Portions of the roast appear in Solomon’s Sports Extra TV production of All The Way Choo Choo.  I had the honor of directing and editing the program, along with Larry Fitzgerald, the late WFMY-TV photojournalist.  North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame Broadcaster Charlie Harville narrated the program.  And once again, Charlie Justice’s popularity across the entire state was shown when the TV documentary was sponsored by “Goody’s” of Winston-Salem.  The President of Goody’s, Duke University Class of 1949 football player Tom Chambers, was an opponent of Justice’s during their college days.  In addition to the “Goody’s” commercials, the program also included JDF-Mary Tyler Moore public service announcements.

♦ ♦ ♦

In closing, I would like to revisit words from Bill Friday:

“(Charlie Justice) is loyal. He has been on call when his alma mater needed him. He has lent his name in time and talent to a host of worthy causes since his jersey went into the trophy case.”

“He has shown in his personal life the same quality of courage and determination he exhibited in athletics. Charlie Justice was voted All-American for his exploits on those memorable Saturdays of another era.”

“I want to say, Charlie, that in the eyes of your legions of friends today, you are an All-American every day of the week.”

The Heels vs. The Irish: A dominating past

Cover of the 1960 UNC versus Notre Dame football game program, from the author's collection.

Cover of the 1960 UNC versus Notre Dame football game program, from the author’s collection.

On Saturday, October 7, 2017, a very special event will take place in UNC’s Kenan Memorial Stadium. The Tar Heels will meet the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame. The game will mark the seventh meeting between the two in Kenan and the twentieth meeting overall. While the Irish have dominated the series, a Carolina–Notre Dame game will always be something special. Morton collection volunteer/contributor Jack Hilliard takes a look at some storied past meetings between these two great universities.

The love that people have for Notre Dame can’t be explained.

—Lou Holtz, Notre Dame head football coach 1986- 1996.

Growing up in North Carolina during the late 1940s and early 1950s, football Saturdays were special. There was Duke and State and Wake and Carolina, and we followed their every game.  But there was always news in the papers and on the radio about Notre Dame; they seemed to always be a step ahead of our “Big Four.”  Maybe it was because they seemed to always win. (Following a loss on December 1, 1945 to Great Lakes Navy, the Fighting Irish didn’t lose again until Purdue beat them on October 7, 1950.)

So it’s easy to imagine our excitement when we heard that Notre Dame would play Carolina on November 12th, 1949 in New York’s Yankee Stadium.  In three previous blog posts, we have recounted that game on A View to Hugh and sister blog North Carolina Miscellany:

In those posts we noted Hugh Morton’s classic images from that day, even though it turned out to be the worst loss the Tar Heels would suffer during the “Charlie Justice Era.”  The reason for the disaster was likely that Justice wasn’t able to play due to an injury he suffered the week before the big game in the Big Apple.  But even without Justice, the game was special. The Daily Tar Heel published two air editions and flew them to New York. The headline in that first edition will always be remembered by Tar Heels who made the trip:

“Notre Dame And N.C. Tied 6-6 At Half.”

The second meeting between the two came less than a year later on September 30, 1950. . . . this time in South Bend, Indiana.  This game will forever be remembered, not for Notre Dame’s 14 to 7 win, but the fact that it was the first live network television program of any kind ever transmitted into North Carolina.  The ’49 game in NYC had been televised, but the signal did not reach North Carolina.  But on this day, WBTV in Charlotte and WFMY-TV in Greensboro carried the game live across the Tar Heel state via the Dumont Television Network.  The Greensboro Daily News reported that the estimated viewership in North Carolina was 200,000—nationwide it was 35 million.

Hugh Morton didn’t make the trip to South Bend in 1950, but was on hand back in Chapel Hill when the Irish made their first trip to Kenan on November 17, 1951.  Editor’s note: most of Hugh Morton’s football negatives from the 1950s and 1960s are not identified, but Morton’s game credential survives.  As negatives are identified in the future, we will add a selection of them to this post.

Carolina Sports Information Director Jake Wade, writing in the ’51 game day program called Notre Dame “the mighty and fabulous men from Indiana.”  A full house of 44,500 football fans sat in cold, clear weather “amid Chapel Hill’s wonderland of fall colors,” as The Alumni Review reported. Those fans saw the Tar Heels put on a fourth quarter drive which fell three yards short of victory. Connie Gravitt’s fourth down pass into the end zone was batted down by Notre Dame’s Gene Carrabine, preserving the 12-to-7 Irish victory.

On October 25, 1952 head coach Carl Snavely and his Tar Heels returned to Notre Dame Stadium for the fourth meeting between the Heels and the Irish. 54,338 fans (most of them dressed in green and gold) saw a 7-to-7 tie at the end of the first quarter, but the Heels eventual fell 34 to 14.

Notre Dame head football coach Frank Leahy.

Notre Dame head football coach Frank Leahy.

When Notre Dame returned to Chapel Hill on November 14, 1953 for its second visit, Carl Snavely had moved on and the Heels were coached by George Barclay.  When this one ended, that familiar 34-to-14 score appeared on the scoreboard.  The 1953 game would be Notre Dame’s College Football Hall of Fame coach Frank Leahy’s fifth and final win against the Tar Heels.  At this point in the series, the two teams had met on five occasions with the Irish winning all five. Two games in Chapel Hill, two games in South Bend, and one in New York—with a total audience of 265,000.

The Charlotte News published this photograph tightly cropped on the runner and soon-to-be tackler with the caption, 'KEN KELLER . . . gains 12 for UNC against Notre Dame (Hugh Morton Photo.)"

The Charlotte News published this photograph tightly cropped on the runner and soon-to-be tackler with the caption, ‘KEN KELLER . . . gains 12 for UNC against Notre Dame (Hugh Morton Photo.)”

The week before the 1954 game, Notre Dame was made a 26-point favorite and when it ended they had a 29-point victory, 42 to 13.  The game on November 12, 1955 in Kenan Stadium is often compared to that first meeting between the Heels and the Irish played in New York.  The ’55 game was tied at half 7 to 7, but Notre Dame dominated the second half to win the game 27 to 7. Seated among the 33,000 in Kenan that afternoon was Tar Heel football legend Charlie Justice with his son Ronnie, and on the sideline in his usual spot was photographer Hugh Morton.

Another Morton photograph, cropped on the runner and two pursuers, published by The Charlotte News, and captioned "WHILE THE MOMENTS WERE STILL GLORIOUS North Carolina's Ed Sutton gains 11 yards to the Notre Dame six-yard line in the second quarter before being hauled down by Paul Nornung (5) closing in." Fans of the era will quickly recognize that typo because he is Paul Hornung, the 1956 Heisman Trophy winner and later NFL Hall of Fame star for the Green Bay Packers.

Another Morton photograph, cropped on the runner and two Notre pursuers, published by The Charlotte News with the caption, “WHILE THE MOMENTS WERE STILL GLORIOUS North Carolina’s Ed Sutton gains 11 yards to the Notre Dame six-yard line in the second quarter before being hauled down by Paul Nornung (5) closing in.” Fans of the era will quickly recognize that typo because he is Paul Hornung, the 1956 Heisman Trophy winner and later NFL Hall of Fame star for the Green Bay Packers.

The game on November 17, 1956 back in South Bend marked the end of the first series of contracted games between Carolina and Notre Dame, and the first game under new Tar Heel head coach Jim Tatum.  56,793 fans saw a thriller as the game was tied with seventy-seven seconds to play, but Notre Dame took the lead as 1956 Heisman Trophy winner Paul Hornung scored the winning touchdown.  Notre Dame’s eighth win made the series look like an all-Irish sweepstakes with an aggregate attendance of more than 410,000.

In 1958, the series returned with two more games in South Bend and two more Irish wins: 34 to 24 in ’58 and 28 to 8 in ’59.  In that game on September 26, 1959, Nortre Dame held Carolina, under new head coach Jim Hickey, scoreless for three quarters.

Coming into Chapel Hill on October 8, 1960, Notre Dame had won all ten of the previous meetings, but on this day things were about to change. Homecoming in Chapel Hill is always fun, but on this day it was more fun than usual, as coed Jane Allen from Lambert, Mississippi was crowned Homecoming Queen, to the delight of 41,000 fans, mostly Tar Heels. The cheering crowd saw Carolina lead Notre Dame 12 to 0 well into the fourth quarter, thanks to the efforts of junior-quarterback Ray Ferris, who completed 6 passes for 115 yards and a first quarter TD pass to Skip Clement. Notre Dame completed 8 passes of 32 attempts and the Heels interested 5 of them.  With the score 12 to 7, the final gun sounded and coach Jim Hickey got a ride on the shoulders of his team to midfield for a handshake with Notre Dame head coach Joe Kuharich.

In his post game interview, coach Hickey was asked how it felt to be the only UNC head coach to beat a Notre Dame team.  “It would feel good to beat them anytime, anywhere,” Hickey said with a wide grin.

Fifteen seasons would pass before Notre Dame returned to Chapel Hill.  During that span the two teams would meet four times in South Bend, ’62, ’65, ’66, and ’71—and Carolina would have only seven points to show for all four efforts: a 21-to-7 loss on November 17, 1962, while Notre Dame tallied three straight shutouts in ’65, ’66, and ’71.

Notre Dame’s return to Chapel Hill on October 11, 1975 proved to be one of the most exciting games of the series. After a scoreless first half, the Tar Heels took the lead at the 10:03 mark of the third quarter on Mike Voight’s 12-yard run. On their next possession, Quarterback Billy Paschall hit Mel Collins with a 39-yard touchdown pass to make the lead 14 to 0, and that lead continued well into the final quarter. With six minutes left in the game, Notre Dame head coach Dan Devine called on his second string quarterback . . . a fellow named Joe Montana, who led the Irish on two quick scoring drives to tie the score at fourteen.  Then with less than two minutes to play, Carolina had an opportunity to take the lead, but missed its third field goal of the day and the Irish took over at their own 20 yard line.  On second down, Montana hit Tom Burgmeier on a spectacular 80-yard scoring play that spelled defeat for the Tar Heels.

In the Carolina locker room following the game, UNC head coach Bill Dooley said, “To have a team like Notre Dame down 14 to 0 in the fourth quarter and then lose is really tough.”  Notre Dame coach Dan Devine called it his “best win ever.”

During the 1975 season, the Tar Heel Sports Network invited former players to be game analysts to assist play-by-play Hall of Fame broadcaster Woody Durham.  For the ’75 Notre Dame game the guest was UNC All-America end Art Weiner, who played a key role in the first meeting between the Heels and the Irish back in 1949.

Thirty-one years would pass before Carolina and Notre Dame would meet again.  On November 4, 2006 it was yet another blowout Irish victory, this time, 45 to 26.  Two years later, Notre Dame would make its most recent visit to Kenan on October 11, 2008.  Carolina’s 29-to-24 win has one of those dreaded asterisks in the record book.  An NCAA ruling in 2011 vacated that win.  Six years later to the day, on October 11, 2014, Carolina made its most recent visit to South Bend.  Alas, the Heels came away with yet another loss, this time 50 to 43 in a game that set a total points record for the series.

So, on Saturday, October 7th, head coach Larry Fedora’s Tar Heels will try once again to take down the Fighting Irish, but win or lose, there will be a certain excitement in the air in Kenan Memorial Stadium.  Saturday’s game will also be featured on ABC/ESPN, with the opening kickoff scheduled for 3:30.  After the game it will be five more years until Carolina and Notre Dame are next scheduled to play in South Bend in 2021, with a return match in Chapel Hill in 2022.

A Benny Goodman mystery . . . that leads to two more Morton mysteries

The post “A Benny Goodman Score” on June 3, 2017 brought back some fond memories for our volunteer contributor Jack Hilliard.  As we prepare for tomorrow’s annual Carolina–Duke game, Jack shares a childhood memory of a Benny Goodman mystery that began sixty-eight football seasons ago . . . and that led to a couple other Morton mysteries . . .

ONE SONG LEADS TO ANOTHER—Charlie Justice (left) stands next to Orville Campbell beside a piano at an unknown event. The State published a tightly cropped headshot of these two gentlemen in its September 15, 1951 issue of the magazine. The photograph accompanied an article titled "Yankeeland Hears 'It'" about Campbell and Hank Beebe's song, "Way Up in Carolina." The caption in The State reads, "Charlie Justice, subject of Orville Campbell's first popular song, "All the Way Choo-Choo." Charlie owned a piece of that song, but didn't make any money. (Morton Photo)" Another mystery, however, appeared when viewing the full negative, which has no accompanying information. Is that Hank Beebe on piano? We believe so. The occasion? Still unknown.

ONE SONG LEADS TO ANOTHER—Charlie Justice (left) stands next to Orville Campbell beside a piano at an unknown event. The State published a tightly cropped headshot of these two gentlemen in its September 15, 1951 issue of the magazine. The photograph accompanied an article titled “Yankeeland Hears ‘It'” about Campbell and Hank Beebe’s song, “Way Up in Carolina.” The caption in The State reads, “Charlie Justice, subject of Orville Campbell’s first popular song, “All the Way Choo-Choo.” Charlie owned a piece of that song, but didn’t make any money. (Morton Photo)” Another mystery, however, appeared when viewing the full negative, which has no accompanying information. Is that Hank Beebe on piano? We believe so. The occasion? Still unknown.

In late spring of 1949, I remember reading in one of the Greensboro newspapers that Chapel Hill publisher Orville Campbell and UNC music student Hank Bebee had written and recorded a song called “All the Way Choo Choo,” a song about my boyhood football hero Charlie Justice.  The recording featured a UNC student group, the Sigma Chi Sextet.  Campbell also published the sheet music through his publishing company, Colonial Press.

Over the next five months, Campbell and Bebee campaigned the major record labels trying to get the song recorded for greater distribution. In the September 17, 1949 issue of the Greensboro Daily News, Sports Editor Smith Barrier called it “the football song of the season.”  Ed Danforth of the Atlanta Journal and Shirley Povich of the Washington Post, during trips to Chapel Hill also commented. Said Danforth: “Greatest college football song since ‘The Ramblin’ Wreck of Georgia Tech,’” and Povich added, “It can’t miss.  It’ll go all the way.”  Povich added the story in his “Post” column on Sunday, September 18, 1949.

In Greensboro, leading up to WFMY-TV’s official sign-on as North Carolina’s second TV station, which was September 22, 1949, the station presented a special one-hour variety show and the Sigma Chi Sextet group from UNC sang “All the Way Choo Choo.”

UNC student newspaper, The Daily Tar Heel, in its September 22nd edition had this:

Heard the fast-circulating Orville Campbell-Hank Beebe hit “All the Way Choo Choo”?  Benny Goodman is definitely scheduled to do a recording of it that should be on sale nationally in approximately two weeks.

Those attending the UNC vs. NC State game in Kenan Stadium on September 24th, 1949 heard the song over the public address system and could also read in their Daily Tar Heel that morning about the Campbell-Goodman progress for the recording:

Orville Campbell, Carrboro publisher turned song-writer received a bit of news a few days back that has made him all smiles.  A note penned from an executive of Capitol Records informed the likeable Colonial Press head that Benny Goodman and his orchestra has signed to record “All the Way Choo Choo.” Veteran musicians rate the Campbell-Hank Beebe ditty as a good bet to catch on all over the nation, and the Goodman waxing will make the Carolina Choo Choo one of the first if not the only grid star to be honored in such a manner.”

The next day, the “DTH” added this:

Alumnus Orville Campbell, still a wheel about campus, has been conducting his own promotion campaign, and apparently is enjoying great success in his efforts to make the song “All the Way Choo Choo” popular.  Campbell has succeeded to the extent that Benny Goodman has made a recording of it.  Also a local version was in evidence at a number of beach juke boxes this summer.  The ditty, with music by the talented Hank Beebe, was sung two or three times at this weekend’s pep rally.  The song is good, and the more one hears it, the better he likes it.

When the magazine Life ran a cover-story about Justice in the October 3, 1949 issue, the editors included a picture of Orville Campbell’s “All the Way Choo Choo” sheet music.  Life captioned the picture “Lyrical Choo Choo.”

Two days later, there was in the October 5, 1949 issue of The Sporting News another article about the song by Smith Barrier with the headline. “All the Way Choo Choo Inspires King of Swing.”  Barrier added: “When Benny Goodman, the orchestra leader, heard ‘All the Way Choo Choo,’ he hurried to New York to make a recording.”

Goodman had performed in concert at the ORD Arena (Overseas Replacement Depot, from Basic Training Camp 10 during World War II) in Greensboro on September 16th, 1949 and Orville Campbell was in the audience. Following the show, Campbell played the song for Goodman . . . and Benny liked it.

I haven’t found any evidence that Hugh Morton was at that 1949 Greensboro concert but when Goodman came to Raleigh four years earlier in 1945, Morton was there.

A SECOND MYSTERY—Benny Goodman, front and center, playing clarinet as captured in Hugh Morton's unidentified negative (the top portion of the image is cropped here). Morton mentions in his 1988 book Making a Difference in North Carolina that he went to a Goodman concert in Raleigh. This previously unscanned negative has a WRAL banner displayed on stage (lower left). Piecing together clues from the sheet music on Goodman's music stand in this and three other negatives, coupled with Goodman's touring history and list of band members, unlocks part of the mystery. That's Red Norvo at the vibraphone behind Goodman.

A SECOND MYSTERY—Benny Goodman, front and center, playing clarinet as captured in Hugh Morton’s unidentified negative (the top portion of the image is cropped here). Morton mentions in his 1988 book Making a Difference in North Carolina that he went to a Goodman concert in Raleigh. This previously unscanned negative has a WRAL banner displayed on stage (lower left). Piecing together clues from the sheet music on Goodman’s music stand in this and three other negatives, coupled with Goodman’s touring history and list of band members, unlocks part of the mystery. That’s Red Norvo at the vibraphone behind Goodman.

Morton was also on hand when Goodman played in Wilmington on February 23, 1983, and when Benny came back to Greensboro in early May, 1979 to play a concert with the Greensboro Symphony, Hugh Morton was on hand to photograph Goodman back stage and during his performance on May 3, 1979.  That Greensboro Concert was recorded by CBS-TV for a special telecast on May 30, 1979 to pay tribute to Goodman on his 70th birthday.

The exact date of Goodman's Raleigh performance is yet to be determined, but it's probably during the summer or fall of 1945. The sheet music on the music stand provides the best clue. On the left is Goodman's signature opening song, "Let's Dance" from the mid 1930s, but on the right is "I Wish I Knew." That song, with lyrics by Harry Warren and music by Mack Gordon, debuted in the movie "Diamond Horseshoe" released in May 1945. The song does not appear on any playlists available to the editor, but its history can be reviewed on the webpage https://songbook1.wordpress.com/fx/1945-standards/i-wish-i-knew/. Red Norvo (seen in the photograph above this one) left the Goodman band for good in January 1946.

The exact date of Goodman’s Raleigh performance is yet to be determined, but it’s probably during the summer or fall of 1945. The sheet music on the music stand provides the best clue. On the left is Goodman’s signature opening song, “Let’s Dance” from the mid 1930s, but on the right is “I Wish I Knew.” That song, with lyrics by Harry Warren and music by Mack Gordon, debuted in the movie “Diamond Horseshoe” released in May 1945. The song does not appear on any playlists available to the editor, but its history can be reviewed on the webpage https://songbook1.wordpress.com/fx/1945-standards/i-wish-i-knew/. Red Norvo (seen in the photograph above this one) left the Goodman band for good in January 1946.

Following Goodman’s 1949 Greensboro performance and the Daily Tar Heel reports, we waited for the news when the Benny Goodman Capitol recording of “All the Way Choo Choo” would be released.  The week before the Carolina–Duke game on November 19th came the news that the recording would go on sale on November 23rd . . . but the recording released was a 10-inch King record (15030) by band leader Johnny Long—a Duke alumnus of all things.  What happened to the Benny Goodman recording?  Don Maynard’s Daily Tar Heel story about the release on November 23rd, said: “The recording would be available at Ab’s Bookstore and the Carolina Sports Shop.  Maynard added, “Benny Goodman made the first recording of the tune on a Capitol recording, but to date the number has not been released by the Capitol Recording Company.”

From the Daily Tar Heel, November 23, 1949, page 1.

From the Daily Tar Heel, November 23, 1949, page 1.

The Maynard article was supported by a photograph of Johnny Long presenting Justice with the first copy of the recording.  The picture was taken by student photographer Jim Mills, a Hugh Morton contemporary, and was included with the record purchase.  Long had paid a visit to Chapel Hill on November 13, 1949 and made the presentation.

"All the Way Choo Choo" record label, from the album in North Carolina Collection.

“All the Way Choo Choo” record label, from the album in North Carolina Collection.

Johnny Long was from Newell, North Carolina and attended Duke from 1931 until 1935.  He had played a concert on the Duke campus the weekend of October 28-29, 1949.  That’s likely when Campbell played the song for him.

As time went by, we loved and listened to the Johnny Long version, which featured vocals by Janet Brace, the Johnny Long Glee Club and the Longshots. Several of the verses of the song depict actual Justice moments on the gridiron. On the reverse side is an instrumental medley of the “Carolina Victory March,” “Here Comes Carolina,” “Tar Heels on Hand,” and “Hark the Sound.” The Johnny Long record was produced by Johnny Murphy a UNC alumnus from Charlotte and New York City.

On November 26, 1949 when Charlie Justice played his final UNC regular season game against Virginia in Kenan Stadium, the game day program book carried two ads for the Johnny Long version of the song.  On page 62 it was described as “the perfect Christmas gift,” and was supported by the Jim Mills photograph.  Then on page 71 the record was offered at the Varsity shop. The record sold for one dollar and the sheet music for fifty- cents.  According to Orville Campbell, “Justice modestly feels that it is a joke that anyone would want to write a song about him, but at the same time feels honored.”

As years passed, the mystery Goodman version of the song continued to pop up.  Bob Quincy and Julian Scheer, in their 1958 Justice biography Choo Choo: The Charlie Justice Story on page 122 put it this way: “Benny Goodman, the famed jazz clarinetist and Johnny Long, a Duke grad who plays a violin from the port side, were among the top recording artists who found ‘All the Way . . .’ worth their time.”

On December 15, 1978, Campbell released a very limited edition album titled, “Thanks for the Memories.” (811054-A 2890)  The one-sided album, which has two different front cover designs, contained six of Campbell’s hits, including “All the Way Choo Choo”—both the Sigma Chi and the Johnny Long versions.

The Benny Goodman record mystery lingered.  Then in 1979, I read in the Nostalgia Book Club newsletter that a revised edition of a book titled “BG—On the Record:  A Bio-Discography of Benny Goodman” by Russell Conner and Warren Hicks had been released. When I got my copy I went through it page by page—all 708 of them—and there was no mention of “All the Way Choo Choo.”

On July 28, 1979, I wrote Conner a letter and asked about the song. His reply on September 4th said, “I have no knowledge of Benny’s playing that tune.  But there is a further reference that will become available.  The great bulk of the arrangements Benny has used through the years, stored for long time in a warehouse on Broadway, is now being cataloged. . . If the tune was played by the ‘big band,’ the title should crop up.”

Connor was right: when the cataloging had been completed, there it was, listed between “All the Things You Are” and “All Through the Night.”

  • File 01/21     “All the Way Choo Choo” 1949
  • O’Farrill, Chico
  • BG
  • No:  A203
  • Score:  Yes
  • Parts:  none
  • Key:  A flat

We now know that Goodman performed the tune live in concert.  But was a Goodman recording ever released for sale? Some of Goodman’s live concerts were recorded onto electronic transcription discs (ETs) and distributed to radio stations for broadcasts, but I have not been able to determine if “All the Way” was ever distributed in this manner.  And of course, there is always that possibility that some black-market recording was made in a venue where Goodman was performing live. There is an interesting observation on the web site “Football Profiles.”  In Charlie’s profile, there is this quote:

The hype reached a crescendo for Charlie’s senior season.  Orville Campbell, a Chapel Hill music publisher, and Hank Beebe, a graduate student in music, produced a song about Charlie, “All the Way Choo Choo.”  The Johnny Long Orchestra recorded it, and the Benny Goodman Orchestra played it on the radio.

Not quite sure how Benny “played it on the radio.”  Was it a live broadcast or one of those radio ETs?

The Goodman recording mystery was finally solved in 1995 when Charlie Justice biographer Bob Terrell interviewed Charlie for the book, “All Aboard.”  Justice said that Goodman recorded “All the Way Choo Choo,” before Johnny Long did, but the management team at Capitol records thought the tune was too localized for national distribution, so they never released it. (What about that “executive” who sent Orville Campbell that note the “DTH” reported in their story on September 24th, 1949?)

According to Orville Campbell, the tune sold over 32,000 copies.

In 2013 as part of its Carolina First campaign, the UNC Office of University Development issued a compact disc titled “Echoes of Carolina,” and on the disc is the Johnny Long version of “All the Way Choo Choo.”

There are still mentions of the Goodman recording from time to time.  An example: The New York Times in its Justice obituary on October 20, 2003 has this line: “Benny Goodman paid tribute in his recording of ‘All the Way Choo Choo.'”

Sheet music cover, from the author's collection.

Sheet music cover, from the author’s collection.

I mentioned that Orville Campbell published the sheet music in 1949. One of the two editions has a Hugh Morton image on the front cover.  Recently I found a third version of the sheet music which has a Regent Music Corporation copyright.  A quick check of Regent finds that the company was founded in the late 1930s or 1940 at the Brill Building in New York City.  Regent founders were Gene Goodman and Harry Goodman—brothers of Benny Goodman.  Small world.

Three years before Campbell and Bebee and Long and Goodman started their “All the Way” journey, a writer at The Daily Tar Heel published a Charlie Justice song called “Tiny’s Choo Choo Song.” It was written by Tiny Hutton and published in the November 23, 1946 issue, just hours before Carolina met Duke for the 33rd time.  Ironically, the lyrics of Tiny’s tune are set to the music of the 1941 classic “Chattanooga Choo Choo” made famous by Glenn Miller, a contemporary of Benny Goodman.  Indeed, a small world.

Sidebars

Over the years, the song title “All the Way Choo Choo” has been used to title other things like two television documentaries, one in 1973 and one in 1984. The ’84 program, produced by David Soloman Productions in Winston-Salem, featured an “All the Way Choo Choo” T-shirt to promote the program.

On March 30, 2006, as part of UNC General Alumni Association’s “College of Lifelong Learning,” the late Dr. Ron Hyatt presented a program titled “All the Way Choo Choo” that featured an extensive Charlie Justice memorabilia display and a panel discussion that included Justice teammates, Walt Pupa, Joe Neikirk, and Bob Cox.

The game program for the 1953 Dixie Classic basketball tournament, which was played in Reynolds Coliseum in Raleigh, carried a full page back cover ad for the Washington Redskins vs. Green Bay Packers preseason game to be played in Raleigh’s Riddick Stadium on September 11, 1954 with the heading “All the Way Choo Choo.”

Five days after Charlie Justice led his Tar Heels into the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, The Daily Tar Heel published a full page Charlie Justice profile with seven pictures under the headline “All The Way Choo Choo: Charlie Justice Makes Last Run.”  That January 7, 1950 issue hit the streets just hours before he led the South to victory in the first annual Senior Bowl game, played that year in Jacksonville, Florida.

On October 2, 1949, Rev Dr. Samuel Tilden Habel, Jr. at the Baptist Church of Chapel Hill (Columbia & Franklin) delivered a sermon titled “All the Way Choo Choo.”  The headline in the Greensboro Daily News on October 4, 1949: ‘All the Way Choo Choo’ Becomes Sermon Topic.  There is a related picture in the 1958 Justice biography by Bob Quincy and Julian Scheer on page 122.

According to author Jackie Helvey at the web site Carrboro.com there was a board game by the same name.

On page 16 of that UNC vs. Virginia game program from 1949, is an advertisement for the Wm. Muirhead Construction Co. in Durham.  The ad shows a train approaching a bridge “on Southern Railway and Highway No. 87 & 100 at Glen Raven, NC.”  The bridge has a number 22 at the top with the words “All the Way Choo Choo!”

A final Wallace Wade win in Kenan

When Carolina met Duke on November 25, 1950 in historic Kenan Memorial Stadium, we didn’t know it at the time, but it would be Duke Head Football Coach Wallace Wade’s last coaching appearance against his rival from Chapel Hill. Over a 16 year period from 1934 through 1950, UNC Coach Carl Snavely met Duke Coach Wallace Wade seven times on the gridiron. Snavely won 5 of those games. Wade won in 1935 in Durham and his only win against Snavely in Kenan Stadium came on a cold day in November of 1950.

As official football practice gets underway today for Carolina’s 2017 football season—the 91st in Kenan Stadium, and the 104th meeting with Duke on September 23rd—Morton collection volunteer Jack Hilliard recalls that famous game from 66 seasons ago.

Stadium program for the 1950 Duke versus University of North Carolina football game (Courtesy Jack Hilliard).

Stadium program for the 1950 Duke versus University of North Carolina football game (Courtesy Jack Hilliard).

I remember, as a little kid, my dad telling my mom, as he left for work early Saturday morning, November 25, 1950, “I guess Carolina and Duke will play in the snow today.” Had it not been for the covering on Kenan’s turf, my dad would have been right.  On Friday the 24th, high winds, snow and bitter 15-degree temperatures moved into North Carolina.  The headline in Saturday’s Durham Sun, read: “Vicious Icy Storm Batters East.”

A check of the 1950 UNC football media guide, which was actually published in August, indicated the game was already a sellout. 40,000 of those ticket-holders braved the weather and came out for the game . . . the other 6,000 decided to stay home by the fire and the radio.  Photographer Hugh Morton was one of the former.

Head coach Carl Snavely’s North Carolina Tar Heels had beaten head coach Wallace Wade’s Duke Blue Devils the past four seasons and the Heels were made a slight favorite in this, the 37th meeting between the two rival schools.  Wade and Snavely had tremendous respect for each other.  In July of 1950 the two rival coaches appeared together in the North Carolina outdoor drama “The Lost Colony.”  They were special guests as part of Kay Kyser’s and Emma Neal Morrison’s “Celebrity Night” celebrations.  Going into the 1950 “battle of the blues,” the darker blue, Blue Devils were 6 and 3 on the season, while the lighter blue Tar Heels were 3-3-2.

As one might guess, wind was to be a factor in the game, so when the Tar Heels won Referee Orrell J. Mitchell’s toss, they elected to defend the west goal with the wind at their backs.  The Tar Heels moved the ball inside the Duke 25-yard-line twice in the first half, but couldn’t score.  Duke’s only first-half threat came near the end of the second quarter.  The Blue Devils went on a 44-yard drive to the Carolina 36-yard-line, mainly through the efforts of Duke captain Billy Cox’s running and passing, but they couldn’t score. The score at halftime was 0-0.

Because of the weather, there was no halftime entertainment on the field.  Fans had to be content reading through their game-day programs, which on this day featured a front cover Lon Keller image of radio and TV personality Arthur Godfrey.  You could read a column by UNC’s Jake Wade or Duke’s Ted Mann, and get their takes on the game.

Hugh Morton's photograph published in the November 27, 1950 issue of the Charlotte News with the caption, "Dick Bunting fights his way to the Duke 22 in the fourth quarter of the North Carolina game at Chapel Hill, but Blaine Earon is there to slam him down.  This threat, like five others, failed."  A search for this negative in the Morton collection did not turn up the negative.

Hugh Morton’s photograph published in the November 27, 1950 issue of the Charlotte News with the caption, “Dick Bunting fights his way to the Duke 22 in the fourth quarter of the North Carolina game at Chapel Hill, but Blaine Earon is there to slam him down. This threat, like five others, failed.” A search for this negative in the Morton collection did not turn up the negative.

At the 2:58 mark of the third quarter, Coach Wade decided to gamble.  Duke with the ball, fourth down at the Carolina 34 and needing seven yards for a first down, tailback Billy Cox took the direct snap from center J. E. Gibson . . . looked down field . . . spotted wingback Tommy Powers . . . and threw a perfect shot which Powers caught as he crossed the goal line.  Mike Souchak’s point-after made the score 7-0.

Scan of Hugh Morton's negative (as shot) of Duke's Billy Cox holding the game ball after a 7-0 win over UNC at Kenan Stadium, 25 November 1950. This image appears in the sports sections of the Wilmington Morning Star and the Charlotte News. The latter identified the woman next to Cox as Mona Booth, Miss Durham of 1950. Other Morton photographs appeared in those newspapers (shown below), but the negatives either have not yet been located in the collection or have not survived.

Scan of Hugh Morton’s negative (as shot) of Duke’s Billy Cox holding the game ball after a 7-0 win over UNC at Kenan Stadium, 25 November 1950. This image appears in the sports sections of the Wilmington Morning Star and the Charlotte News. The latter identified the woman next to Cox as Mona Booth, Miss Durham of 1950. Other Morton photographs appeared in those newspapers (shown below), but the negatives either have not yet been located in the collection or have not survived.

During the final quarter and a half, Carolina had three great opportunities, but the score remained 7-0.  The final game stats showed that Carolina had first downs at the Duke 22, 17, 28, 9, 7, and 20, but could not score.  In his post game interview, Wade praised Duke’s incredible defense.

As the game ended and the late November sky began to turn a darker shade of gray, the Duke players rushed to hoist their victorious coach on their shoulders; but as we had come to expect, Coach Wade wanted no part of anything like that.  Wade told his players, “No, no, boys there’ll be none of that. Let’s go shake their hands.” He then walked calmly across field for a final time and shook Snavely’s hand, just as he had done on six previous occasions when the two coaches had played one another.  It would be Wade’s first, final, and only win in Kenan Stadium against a Snavely-coached Tar Heel team.

Two post-game images by Morton appeared in the November 27th Wilmington Morning Star.

Two post-game images by Morton appeared in the November 27th Wilmington Morning Star.

When the field cleared, the Carolina cheerleaders, led by head man Joe Chambliss, rolled the Victory Bell across the cold Kenan turf to the Duke section on the North side of the stadium, as the Blue Devil fans cheered.  It was their first opportunity to ring the bell since its introduction following Carolina’s 1948 win. (That respectful type Victory Bell transition seems to have been forgotten in today’s world of overwrought fan and player hostility.)

The headline in Sunday’s Charlotte Observer, read: “Blue Devils’ Gamble Pays Off for Score in High Wind and Freezing Temperature.”  Coach Snavely, when asked in his Monday morning news conference about his impression of Saturday’s game, had this to say: “Duke was hotter than we were in several crucial moments. . . . You must remember that Duke played in the same weather we did.”

Four days after the game, Wade married Virginia Jones and after a honeymoon in New York, he announced his resignation from Duke in order to take the position of Commissioner of the Southern Conference. He would hold that position for ten years. Upon his retirement from the Southern Conference in 1960, words of praise came from media outlets across the country. One of those tributes came from an avid UNC Tar Heel, who broadcast UNC football games on the Tobacco Sports Network…Bill Currie, then the Sports Director of WSOC-TV, Channel 9, in Charlotte once said: “Nobody ever gets over being a Tar Heel. He also said this about Coach Wade:

“The true measure of Wallace Wade’s greatness as a man is not fully reflected in his overwhelming won-lost record on the field, nor in his patriotic devotion to our country in combat during two world wars: rather, it is reflected in the dignity and bearing of the man, which makes him a giant among his peers and successors.”

William Wallace Wade was inducted into the National Football Foundation’s College Football Hall of Fame with the Class of 1955. Twelve years later, in 1967, Duke Stadium was renamed Wallace Wade Stadium in his honor.

He died on October 7, 1986. He was 94-years-old.

 

Always on call for his alma mater

May 13, 1989 groundbreaking ceremony for the George Watts Hill Alumni Center on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus. (L to R): Ralph Strayhorn, fund raising chairman; George Watts Hill; Doug Dibbert, General Alumni Association Executive Director; Robert C. Eubanks, UNC Board of Trustees chairman; Tom Lambeth, chairman of the area campaigns; Chancellor Emeritus Christopher C. Fordham III; and Chancellor Paul Hardin.

May 13, 1989 groundbreaking ceremony for the George Watts Hill Alumni Center on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus. (L to R): Ralph Strayhorn, fund raising chairman; George Watts Hill; Doug Dibbert, General Alumni Association Executive Director; Robert C. Eubanks, UNC Board of Trustees chairman; Tom Lambeth, chairman of the area campaigns; Chancellor Emeritus Christopher C. Fordham III; and Chancellor Paul Hardin.

On Tuesday, June 7, 2016—one year ago today—a special memorial service was held at the Old Chapel Hill Cemetery on Raleigh Road. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill had lost one of its strongest supporters. Three days before, Ralph Strayhorn Jr. had passed away in Winston-Salem. He was 93-years-old.  On this anniversary, Morton Collection volunteer Jack Hilliard looks back at Strayhorn’s amazing list of accomplishments.

Ralph Nichols Strayhorn Jr. at one time or another served his university as

  • cocaptain of the varsity football team;
  • member of UNC Board of Trustees;
  • President of the General Alumni Association;
  • General Counsel for the Rams Club;
  • chairman of the search committee charged in 1987 with finding a replacement for Head Football Coach Dick Drum (he and his committee found Mack Brown);
  • President and General Counsel of the Educational Foundation, Inc.; and
  • Fund Raising Chairman for the George Watts Hill Alumni Center building project.

As you will see later in this post, this list will continue.

A native of Durham, Strayhorn was recruited by UNC assistant football coach Jim Tatum and played three seasons with the Tar Heels before he entered the United States Navy and served in the Pacific theater from 1943 until 1946, completing his active service as a sub-chaser commanding officer.  He served twenty years in the U. S. Naval Reserve, retiring in 1962 as a lieutenant commander.

He returned to Chapel Hill in time for the 1946 football season where he was a cocaptain along with Chan Highsmith.  In a 2010 interview, Strayhorn described his returned: “It was a delightful time to be in Chapel Hill.  Everyone was glad to be home from the war, back in school where they belonged.”

The 1946 Tar Heels under Head Coach Carl Snavely won eight games during the regular season while losing only to Tennessee and tying VPI (formally Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, known today as Virginia Tech).  That record was good enough to earn a Southern Conference championship and Carolina’s first bowl game, the Sugar Bowl on January 1, 1947. Strayhorn’s trip to New Orleans was not a joyous occasion as it should have been. His father had suffered a heart attack back in Durham and was unconscious.

“My mind wasn’t focused on the game, needless to say.  I thought about not going.  My first cousin was a doctor and was very close to our family.  He said my father would want me to go and play in that game.  I stayed behind when the team left and then caught the last train to New Orleans. . . I was on the first train back out of town.  I returned to my father’s bedside but he never recovered.”

Strayhorn could have played one more season with the Tar Heels.  The 1943 season didn’t count against his eligibility because he had gone off to World War II; he chose, however, to graduate with the class of 1947 with a degree in commerce and enter law school.  He got his law degree in 1950 and joined the firm of Newsom, Graham, Strayhorn, Hedrick, Murray, Bryson and Kennon as a senior partner.  He held that position until 1978 when he assumed the executive position of general counsel of the Wachovia Corporation and the Wachovia Bank and Trust Company.  Strayhorn retired from that position in his 1988 retirement.  He then joined the law firm Petree Stockton & Robinson.

Throughout his professional career, Ralph Strayhorn remained active in the life of his alma mater, especially its athletic programs and his beloved football Tar Heels. From 1973 until 1981 he was a member of the UNC Board of Trustees, serving as chairman in 1979 and 1980.  Additionally, he served on the Central Selection Committee of the Morehead Foundation, the Board of Visitors, and the NC Institute of Medicine.  In 1989 the UNC Board of Trustees awarded Strayhorn the William Richardson Davie Award.

Over the years, Strayhorn kept in touch with Coach Jim Tatum and in 1955 he wrote Tatum a four-page letter asking him to return to Chapel Hill to take over the football program.  “The football situation at Chapel Hill seems to have reached an all-time low,” Strayhorn wrote. The following year Tatum returned and led the program until his untimely death in July of 1959.  Ironically, in 1957 Strayhorn had prepared Tatum’s will and delivered the document to him the week before the Tar Heel were to meet Maryland for the first time since Tatum left—the famous “Queen Elizabeth” game. As the coach was signing the document, he asked Strayhorn if he was going to the game on Saturday.

“I told him I didn’t have tickets, transportation, a room or a baby-sitter.  He said, ‘Well, find yourself a baby-sitter.  I’ll take care of the rest. You be at the airport Friday at 2 o’clock.’ We got to the airport and everything was arranged for us.”

FOUR TAR HEELS—Ralph Strayhorn Jr., Charlie Justice, Sugar Bowl CEO Paul Hoolahan, and Charlie Carr gathered on the sidelines before the 1997 Sugar Bowl. At that time Carr was the associate director of athletics at Florida State, which played against Florida in the bowl game.

FOUR TAR HEELS—Ralph Strayhorn Jr., Charlie Justice, Sugar Bowl CEO Paul Hoolahan, and Charlie Carr gathered on the sidelines before the 1997 Sugar Bowl. At that time Carr was the associate director of athletics at Florida State, which played against Florida in the bowl game.

In December 1996 Carolina’s 1947 football team celebrated the 50th anniversary of their ’47 Sugar Bowl game with a train trip to New Orleans for the 1997 Sugar Bowl game.  An on-the-field pre-game ceremony included Charlie Justice and Ralph Strayhorn along with Charlie Trippi of Georgia.  Hugh Morton was a special invited guest at the ceremony.

Joe Neikirk, Georgia's legendary Bulldog Bill Hartman, Ralph Strayhorn Jr., Charlie Justice, Crowell Little, and Georgia All-American Charley Trippi.

Joe Neikirk, Georgia’s legendary Bulldog Bill Hartman, Ralph Strayhorn Jr., Charlie Justice, Crowell Little, and Georgia All-American Charley Trippi.

Seven years later, on November 5, 2004, Ralph Strayhorn and Hugh Morton were featured speakers at the dedication of Johnpaul Harris’ magnificent Charlie Justice statue which now stands just outside of Kenan Stadium.

The next time you visit the “Charlie Justice Hall of Honor” in the Kenan Football Center, notice the Harold Styers’ portrait of the 1947 Sugar Bowl coin toss featuring UNC’s Cocaptain Ralph Stayhorn #62, and Georgia’s Captain Charlie Trippi, also #62.

And oh yes . . . that list.  Ralph Strayhorn Jr. was President of the North Carolina Bar Association in 1971-72, and a member of the

  • Legal Advisory Committee of the New York Stock Exchange;
  • American College of Trial Lawyers;
  • American Bar Association;
  • International Association of Defense Counsel;
  • Newcomen Society of the United States; and the
  • Board of Visitors of the Wake Forest School of Law.

He also argued a case before the Supreme Court of the United States and served in the North Carolina General Assembly in 1959.

Ralph Nichols Strayhorn Jr., a Tar Heel treasure like no other.

UPDATE: caption for second photograph revised to reflect identification received in a comment on June 12.  Previously the caption began with “THREE TAR HEELS.”

UPDATE: On June 13, the caption was once again update with the discovery of more recent information about Charlie Carr.  Mr. Carr was a member of the UNC Class of 1968 and he received a master’s degree from there in 1970.  In 1971 he became a UNC assistant football coach.  He also served in various roles at East Carolina, Mississippi State before joining Florida State  in 1995. Carr left Florida State on October 1, 2007, when he became the athletic director at Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas.  On May 17, 2017 Mr. Carr entered phased retirement from MSU, and he will officially retire on August 31.  Also updated was the caption for the final photograph with the identification of Bill Hartman, the Georgia Bulldog’s team captain in 1937.  (Thanks, Jack Hilliard, for new info on Charlie Carr and the identification of Bill Hartman!)

A sweet spot in time

Souvenir seller outside the Gator Bowl in 1963. Photograph by Hugh Morton, cropped from a 35mm color slide by the editor.

Souvenir seller outside the Gator Bowl in 1963. Photograph by Hugh Morton, cropped from a 35mm color slide by the editor.

UNC Head Football Coach Larry Fedora will be taking his 2016 Tar Heels to the Hyundai Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas on Friday, December 30, 2016. The game will be featured on CBS at 2:00 p.m.  This will mark Carolina’s thirty-third bowl appearance going back to the 1947 Sugar Bowl. Of the thirty-two previous games, the Tar Heels have won fourteen going back to the 1963 Gator Bowl, a game Tar Heels like to recall.  Morton collection volunteer Jack Hilliard takes a look back at the 1963 season and Carolina’s first bowl win played on this date fifty-three years ago.

We had everything going. What a great feeling to have been struggling since 1949 (sic) and then have this (Gator Bowl) chance. It was just a sweet spot in time.”

1963 UNC All-America Halfback Ken Willard, 1963 Gator Bowl Anniversary Celebration, October 20, 1984

 In the late summer of 1963 when UNC Head Football Coach Jim Hickey announced that twenty-nine lettermen would be returning from the 1962 squad, some Tar Heel fans rolled their eyes, remembering that the ’62 team won only three games while losing seven. But Hickey quickly added, “It’s a veteran squad with many talented players. Our schedule is rugged, as always, but I feel certain we can give an excellent account of ourselves each Saturday.”

Turns out, Hickey was right. The ’63 Tar Heel team won eight games and was Co-ACC Champion, along with NC State.

The season started out with a come-from-behind-win against Virginia in Kenan Memorial Stadium on September 21, followed by a disappointing blow-out loss at Michigan State one week later.  Then came a five-game win streak with victories over Wake Forest, Maryland, NC State, South Carolina, and Georgia. Then, a second bump in the road versus Clemson in Death Valley followed by a final ’63 win in newly renovated Kenan over Miami.

So a showdown at Duke for an ACC title tie and a bowl invitation was originally scheduled for November 23, 1963; the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas on Friday, November 22, however, brought the season to a halt.  At first the forty-ninth meeting between Carolina and Duke was re-scheduled for Saturday, November 30.  Then, on Sunday, November 24, it was moved to Thanksgiving Day, November 28.  It would be only the third time the two teams had met on Thanksgiving and photographer Hugh Morton was covering his second Thanksgiving Day Duke-Carolina game.

The roads leading into Duke Stadium (now Wallace Wade Stadium) were crowded at 1:50 p.m. as traffic was backed up on highways N.C. 751 and Interstate 85.  The game was to begin at 2:00 p.m.  At 1:57, fans and players, both Duke and Carolina, faced the half-staffed flag and stood for a minute of silence to pay homage to President Kennedy.  This game was not like the Duke-Carolina battles of years past.  A subdued crowd of 47,500 remained standing as both bands, not in uniform because this was a class holiday, played the National Anthem.

At 2:02 p.m. the game began under cloudy skies.  After a scoreless first quarter, UNC’s great halfback Ken Willard saw his way through the left side of the line, got great blocks from John Hammett and Eddie Kesler, and dragged Duke’s Danny Litaker the final three yards into the end zone.  The play covered 14 yards. It was 2:55 p.m., the sun had come out, and Carolina led 7-0. There was no more scoring in the first half and there was no formal halftime show, but a Tar Heel fan swiped the Duke Blue Devil’s pitch fork and ran across the field, the Blue Devil in pursuit. One of the Duke cheerleaders made a head-on tackle, but the spear was tossed to a Tar Heel cheerleader who pitched it into the stands. Duke security police stood by and laughed.

Early in the third quarter, UNC completed a twelve-play-scoring-drive covering 77 yards, to take a 13-0 lead. Halfback Eddie Kesler scored from one yard out, but Tar Heel kicker Max Chapman missed the extra point. Duke came back on the following series with a 70-yard pass play from quarterback Scotty Glacken to halfback James Futrell.  With 4:15 remaining in the third quarter, the score was UNC 13, Duke 7, and the quarter ended with no additional scoring.

With just over five minutes remaining in the game, Duke’s Jay Wilkinson made one of the great plays of the game. With Duke at the Carolina 24-yard-line, he hit left tackle, cut back, faked UNC’s Eddie Kesler, and ran the distance for the score. Steve Holloway’s extra point gave Duke the lead 14-13. It was 4:12 p.m. and getting dark as that second quarter sun was nowhere to be seen.

With 4:58 on the game clock, Carolina got the ball back—but not for long.  Quarterback Junior Edge’s pass was intercepted by Duke’s Stan Crisson who returned to the Tar Heel 34-yard line. There were those in light blue who said, “We just gave Duke another victory.”  Duke, however, was unable to get a first down and Carolina got the ball on its own 28-yard line with 1:28 left to play.  Quarterback Junior Edge and left end Bob Lacey moved the ball steadily down the field.  When they reached the Duke 21-yard line, there was but thirty-eight seconds left in the game and it was fourth down and fifteen yards to go. Coach Hickey sent in kicker Max Chapman and holder Sandy Kinney. Chapman’s field goal was perfect and Carolina led 16-14.

Duke head coach Bill Murray receives an explanation from a referee—probably after Max Chapman's filed goal as the frame below is the next image on the roll of film. According to the High Point Enterprise sports write Bob Hoffman, "In a matter of seconds after UNC's Max Chapman booted a 42-yard filed goal . . . Murray had charged onto the field and was chin-to-chin with one of the officials." Murray said the clock didn't stop after the field goal. The official contended that only six seconds clicked off the clock. Murray disagreed because, as he explained after the game, "I had gotten together a group of players to go back into the game, talked to the quarterback, run out onto the field and got the official's attention to stop the clock. I just can't move that fast." (Scan of Hugh Morton's negative is shown full frame.)

Duke head coach Bill Murray receives an explanation from a referee—probably after Max Chapman’s filed goal as the frame below is the next image on the roll of film. According to the High Point Enterprise sports write Bob Hoffman, “In a matter of seconds after UNC’s Max Chapman booted a 42-yard filed goal . . . Murray had charged onto the field and was chin-to-chin with one of the officials.” Murray said the clock didn’t stop after the field goal. The official contended that only six seconds clicked off the clock. Murray disagreed because, as he explained after the game, “I had gotten together a group of players to go back into the game, talked to the quarterback, run out onto the field and got the official’s attention to stop the clock. I just can’t move that fast.” (Scan of Hugh Morton’s negative is shown full frame.)

A long discussion among the officials and the time keeper followed, after which they reset the clock to 0:33.  Duke mounted a rally, but time ran out. It was 4:40 p.m and the game was over.  Two minutes later, UNC Athletic Director Chuck Erickson and Gator Bowl Selection Chairman Joseph G. Sykora stepped into the press box.  Said Erickson: “We’ve been invited to the Gator Bowl and we’ve accepted.”  The two men shook hands, and Sykora added, “I think I’ve seen a bowl game today.”

With the game in hand, UNC fans took the goal post into their own hands. Scan of Hugh Morton's negative, shown full frame, follows the frame shown above.  There are no identified game-action negatives in the Morton collection.

With the game in hand, UNC fans took the goal post into their own hands. Scan of Hugh Morton’s negative, shown full frame, follows the frame shown above. There are no identified game-action negatives in the Morton collection.

Twelve seasons had come and gone since UNC’s legendary All-America Charlie Justice led the 1949 Tar Heels into the 1950 Cotton Bowl. But Carolina was headed to its fourth bowl game, the nineteenth annual Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Florida to meet the Air Force Academy.

Carolina went to St. Augustine, Florida and set up training headquarters in preparation for the December 28 game.  On Thursday evening, the 26th, the Tar Heels had a very special guest drop by their Ponce De Leon Hotel: ninety-one-year-old William Rand Kenan, Jr. dropped by to wish the team well.  (By the way, Mr. Kenan owned the hotel where the Tar Heels were staying.)  Back in Jacksonville, the Carolina crowd began to arrive at alumni headquarters in the Hotel Robert Meyer where UNC Chancellor William Aycock held a special reception on Friday, the 27th.

On Saturday morning, 5,000 Tar Heel faithful got up early for a pep rally and brunch at the Jacksonville Coliseum.  Also in attendance were UNC Head Basketball Coach Dean Smith, North Carolina Governor Terry Sanford, and former North Carolina governor and current United States Secretary of Commerce Luther Hodges.

Luther Hodges waves two UNC banners during the 1963 Gator Bowl.

Luther Hodges waves two UNC banners during the 1963 Gator Bowl.

At 2:00 p.m. it was game time and CBS Sports was in place to send the game out nationally. Also in place was a sellout crowd of 50,018—10,000 of them Tar Heels— in the 70-degree weather with overcast skies. Hugh Morton was set to document his third Tar Heel bowl game.

With the scoreboard reading 26-0 in the third quarter, a UNC male cheerleader, donning a now-classic sweater, swings his partner 'round and 'round during a moment on the playing field worth swirling about. Photograph by Hugh Morton, cropped from a 35mm slide by the editor.

With the scoreboard reading 26-0 in the third quarter, a UNC male cheerleader, donning a now-classic sweater, swings his partner ’round and ’round during a moment on the playing field worth swirling about. Photograph by Hugh Morton, cropped from a 35mm slide by the editor.

Carolina’s 77-yard TD drive in the first quarter started things off and the boys from Chapel Hill never looked back. They led by 20-0 at halftime and picked up additional scores in the third and fourth quarters. The final score was a Gator Bowl record 35-0. UNC Halfback Ken Willard was the hero of the day with 94 yards in eighteen carries and one score—good enough to gain him MVP honors at the awards banquet at the George Washington Hotel in downtown Jacksonville.

UNC quarterback "Junior" Edge (Bias Melton Edge Jr.), scampers toward the Air Force Academy's 20-yard line. Based upon the play-by-play account in The Alumni Review and the scoreboard seen in a 35mm slides two frames later, this is probably Edge's 10-yard run for a first down in during the first quarter. Photograph by Hugh Morton, cropped by the editor.

UNC quarterback “Junior” Edge (Bias Melton Edge Jr.), scampers toward the Air Force Academy’s 20-yard line. Based upon the play-by-play account in The Alumni Review and the scoreboard seen in a 35mm slides two frames later, this is probably Edge’s 10-yard run for a first down in during the first quarter. Photograph by Hugh Morton, cropped by the editor. At the time of this writing, it’s Morton’s only surviving action photograph from the game.

Following the game, Minnesota Vikings Head Coach Norm Van Brocklin and General Manager Bert Ross were on hand to sign Tar Heel end Bob Lacey to a pro contract. Also on hand was 1964 Miss America Donna Axum who had just returned from Greensboro and their Holiday Jubilee Parade.  “That was some weather we had for that Christmas Parade,” she said, adding, “But it’s better than we’ve had at home [Arkansas] the past week—eleven inches of snow.”  The following morning Axum would be rescued from a tragic fire at the Hotel Roosevelt in Jacksonville.

This unidentified woman appears to be 1964 Miss America Donna Axum, probably during pregame festivities. Photograph by Hugh Morton, cropped by the editor.

This unidentified woman appears to be 1964 Miss America Donna Axum, probably during pregame festivities. Photograph by Hugh Morton, cropped by the editor.

The headline in the New York Times on Sunday, December 29 read: “North Carolina Trounces Air Force in Gator Bowl, 35-0.”  The late Hall of Fame sportswriter Dick Herbert, writing in the Sunday, December 29 issue of Raleigh’s News and Observer, opened his report with this: “A superbly prepared North Carolina football team dropped the biggest bomb in the 19-year history of the Gator Bowl here Saturday as it destroyed the Air Force Academy team, 35 to 0.”

On December 28, 1963, for one brief shining moment, the football glory at UNC that had been missing since the “Charlie Justice Era” during the late 1940s had returned and Carolina football was once again in the big time.  The 1963 Tar Heels would be Coach Jim Hickey’s best team and likely his favorite. Jim Hickey passed away on December 27, 1997 at age 77.  On October 4, 2003 when Carolina played Virginia on letterman’s day in Kenan Stadium, the 1963 Gator Bowl Champs were honored on the 40th anniversary of their great win.

One for the books

Famous photograph by Hugh Morton made after the 1957 UNC versus Duke football game, as printed in November 25th issue of The Charlotte News.

Famous photograph by Hugh Morton made after the 1957 UNC versus Duke football game, as printed in November 25th issue of The Charlotte News.

The University of North Carolina will meet Duke University on the gridiron for the 103rd time tonight November 10, 2016. The game will be played in Duke’s Wallace Wade Stadium and will be featured on ESPN at 7:30 p.m.  Of the 102 previous meetings, Carolina claims 61 wins in the series that dates back to 1888. (Two of those wins, however, have been vacated by a NCAA penalty ruling).  With the rivalry about to play out one more time, Morton collection volunteer Jack Hilliard looks back 59 seasons to one of those UNC victories that Tar Heels like to recall as “one for the books.”

The only way the Tar Heels of 1957 can go is up.

A preseason comment by UNC Head Football Coach Jim Tatum

When the college football preseason magazines hit the newsstands in late summer of 1957, it seemed a foregone conclusion that Duke would be at the top of the ACC standing when bowl season rolled around in early 1958.  Durham Morning Herald Sports Editor Jack Horner (Hugh Morton liked to call him “Little” Jack Horner), writing for the Street and Smith’s Football 1957 Yearbook, said, “The Blue Devils have the potential to finish atop the loop and rank among the nation’s elite.”  Carolina, having finished the 1956 season with 2 wins, 7 losses, and 1 tie, was predicted to finish a distant fourth at best.

Carolina kicked off the season with a 7-0 home loss to North Carolina State, but got things together and won the next three games, one of which was a 13-7 win against sixth-ranked Navy in Chapel Hill on October 5th—a game many Tar Heels call one of Carolina’s greatest. Duke stormed into the season with five straight wins and by week number six they were ranked fourth nationally behind Oklahoma, Texas A&M, and Iowa.

Carolina won two of its next four games, while Duke’s season started to slip a bit.  By the time the two teams reached their big rivalry game on November 23rd, the Tar Heels and the Blue Devils didn’t seem very far apart. Carolina had a 5-3 record; Duke was 6-1-2, and their ranking dropped to eleventh.  Duke was still favored to win the game.  In fact, Carolina hadn’t beaten Duke in eight years since its historic 21-20 victory in 1949.

Early on Thursday, November 21st, the Duke Stadium (it’s now named Wallace Wade Stadium) crew put down twelve large squares of plastic to cover and protect the field from the predicted wet weather.  The lead-ups to the Carolina-Duke football games have always been exciting and the ’57 game was no different despite that cold, rainy weather.  On Friday, November 22nd, Tar Heel students staged the “Beat Dook Parade,” while over in Durham students and alumni enjoyed a huge, twenty-foot bonfire and pep rally.

Game day dawned wet and cold as predicted, but by midday the rain had stopped to the delight of the 40,000 fans in attendance; the 40-degree temperatures, however, remained. For the second time in three years, the game was on TV.  The 1955 game received national attention, but the ’57 affair coverage came from Castleman D. Chesley’s newly-formed regional ACC Network.  Just before kickoff, the Duke cheerleaders rolled the Victory Bell across the field and delivered a basket of oranges to the Carolina cheering squad—just a reminder of Duke’s “next?” game: the Orange Bowl in warm Miami.

November 23, 1957 was also a special day for another reason: Tar Heel football legend Charlie Justice and his wife Sarah Alice were celebrating their 14th anniversary.  Coach Tatum had invited Justice to join the team on the sideline that afternoon, and when photographer Hugh Morton spotted his friend on the field, he of course took a picture. The Morton image would become a featured picture in the 1958 biography Choo Choo: The Charlie Justice Story by Bob Quincy and Julian Scheer, and can be found on page 121.

Two Carolina player buses arrived about 1 p.m., and the first person off the second bus was Coach Tatum wearing his big Texas-style hat.  At 2:05 p.m. it was time for the 44th meeting between the two old rivals.  Duke won referee John Donohue’s coin toss and elected to receive. Fifteen plays later, Duke’s Wray Carlton scored putting the Blue Devils ahead 6 to 0 after 7 minutes of play.  Five minutes later Carlton scored again.  This time he made the extra point and Duke went up 13-0. Then with 3:40 left in the first half, Carolina’s Giles Gaca scored making the halftime score 13-7, Duke.

On its second possession of the second half, Carolina took the lead when Buddy Payne caught quarterback Jack Cummings’ 19-yard pass for a touchdown. Phil Blazer’s PAT made the score 14-13 with 10:10 remaining in the third quarter. (It was the first time Carolina had led Duke since the second quarter of the 1951 game). Smelling victory, Carolina went back to work and six minutes later, Cummings sneaked over to give Carolina an 8-point lead at 21-13. The fourth quarter was scoreless.

The Charlotte News Sideliner column included two Morton spot-game photographs.

The Charlotte News Sideliner column included two Morton spot-game photographs.

Following the final gun, jubilant Tar Heels tore down the goal posts in celebration as Coach Tatum got a ride on the shoulders of his players and fans. Charlie Justice was one of the first to grab Tatum’s hand and Morton photographic contemporary Harold Moore’s Herald-Sun picture of the hand-shake made the front cover of the 1958 UNC Football Media Guide.

Following the traditional coaches handshake, Coach Tatum sought out some of his players for more celebrations. Then, a Tar Heel player who had been forced to watch the game from the sideline reached out to Tatum. First string quarterback Dave Reed, who had been suspended from the team earlier in the season for breaking team rules, embraced the coach in an extremely emotional moment. “I would have given a million dollars to help win this game,” cried Reed.  Said Tatum, “Son, you know it hurt me more than it did you.” Morton’s photograph of the scene is priceless.

In his news conference following the game, Coach Murray said “We were in a commanding position with a two-touchdown lead and we let them get away.”  In the Carolina dressing room, Coach Tatum simply said, “It is certainly my greatest thrill in football. It’s the happiest day I’ve ever known. How about the way those boys came back? Thirteen points down, golly!”  That’s saying a lot about this particular game. Tatum won a national championship at Maryland in 1953.

Overtime by Stephen Fletcher

1957 Press PassKnowing that Hugh Morton had sideline access during the game, I searched through the North Carolina newspapers that typically used Morton’s football photographs, but I never found a published game-action photograph.  Most newspapers published photographs made by their staff photographers.  Of the half-dozen or so newspapers I examined, only The Charlotte News published Morton’s photographs.  There may be game-action photographs from that day hidden in the hundreds of unidentified football negatives in the collection, but thus far none have been located.  Currently there are ten positively identified Morton negatives made either on the sidelines or in the stands during the game, or during the postgame celebration.

The “Heels” and the “Dawgs:” a storied rivalry

UNC will kick off the 2016 football season in Atlanta’s Georgia Dome on September 3rd at 5:30 PM (Eastern) on ESPN.  It’s the “Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Game” between Carolina’s Tar Heels and Georgia’s Bulldogs. The game will mark the thirty-first meeting between the two old rivals in a series that dates back to 1895. Morton collection volunteer Jack Hilliard takes a look back at this historic series.

Cover of the official program for the 1956 UNC Homecoming football game against the University of Georgia. Handlebar mustaches would have been more popular in the late 1890s, so perhaps the cover design was a throwback to the early days of the UNC–Georgia series. The 1956 contest marked the silver anniversary between the football squads of what the cover story declared to be the "two oldest state institutions" in the South. Those in the know know which school was the first to open its door and admit students!

Cover of the official program for the 1956 UNC Homecoming football game against the University of Georgia. Handlebar mustaches would have been more popular in the late 1890s, so perhaps the cover design was a throwback to the early days of the UNC–Georgia series. The 1956 contest marked the silver anniversary between the football squads of what the cover story declared to be the “two oldest state institutions” in the South. Those in the know know which school was the first to open its door and admit students!

When Carolina and Georgia square off in the “Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Game” on September 3rd, it will mark the 7th time the two teams have played in Atlanta.  Of the first three games in the series played there, Carolina won two games in 1895 and Georgia won the third game, 24 to 16, on October 31, 1896.  In 1898 the two teams played in Macon, Georgia before returning to Atlanta in 1899.  In 1900 these foes met in Raleigh, where Carolina won in a rout 55 to 0. Then in 1901 it was back to Atlanta where Carolina shut out the Dogs for a second straight year, this time 27 to 0.

Twelve seasons passed before the two teams met again. The 1913 game was a 19 to 6 Georgia victory at Sanford Field in Athens, Georgia. The sixth and most recent game (until 2016) in Atlanta was played on October 17, 1914—a game the Tar Heels won 41 to 6. There were no games between the two between the years 1915 and 1928.

The teams renewed their series on October 19, 1929 when Georgia visited Chapel Hill for the first time.  The game played in Kenan Memorial Stadium turned out to be a tough 19-to-12 loss for the Heels.  During the next five seasons, the two teams rotated home and away with Georgia winning in 1930, 1931, and 1933, while Carolina could win only in 1934. The game in 1932 ended in a 6–6 tie.

Once again, twelve seasons played out before the two teams met next, and this was a big one: the 1947 Sugar Bowl in New Orleans.  Photographer Hugh Morton planned to attend, but had a last-minute-in-flight change of plans.  “I missed the 1947 Sugar Bowl against Georgia,” Morton explained in a 1992 game-day program, because bad flying weather diverted some other Tar Heel rooters and me to St. Petersburg instead of New Orleans.”

Most long-time Tar Heels know the 1947 Sugar Bowl story: Carolina’s first bowl game . . . battle of the “Charlies,” Justice and Trippi . . . controversial call . . . a Georgia victory, 20 to 10.  (You can read a longer version of the story via the link.)

On opening day, September 27, 1947, Georgia head coach Wally Butts brought his Bulldogs into Chapel Hill before 43,000 fans for the “rematch” of the Sugar Bowl.  I don’t believe the national attention this game brought to Chapel Hill as ever been equaled. Fifty-five reporters filled the press box; photographers, including Hugh Morton, lined the sidelines.  Present were all five movie newsreel services (MGM, Warner Bros–Pathe, Fox Movietone, Universal, and Paramount) and five radio networks (ABC, CBS, Atlantic, Tobacco Sports, and the Georgia Sports Network). The networks transmitted the play-by-play via 600 stations. Nationally known sportscasters Harry Wismer from ABC and Red Barber from CBS were on hand. Two Walt Pupa touchdown passes, one to Bob Cox and one to Art Weiner, sealed the 14 to 7 Carolina victory.  Hugh Morton’s picture of Weiner from the ’47 Georgia game is a classic and has been reproduced many times over the years. It was Georgia’s first loss in eighteen games over three seasons.

Art Weiner catching pass versus Georgia.

UNC left end Art Weiner catches pass during game against Georgia at Kenan Stadium, September 27, 1947. UNC tailback Charlie Justice (left) looks on from a distance while Georgia’s Dan Edwards (#55) watches from a few yards away.

When Carolina returned to Athens for the 1948 game, Charlie Justice had his best day ever, gaining 304 total yards in a 21 to 14 Tar Heel win.

It was another Art Weiner day in Chapel Hill on October 1, 1949, as the All America end caught two touchdown passes to lead Carolina to a third straight seven-point victory over Georgia—again 21 to 14 to the delight of 44,000 fans in Kenan.  In a 1992 interview, Art Weiner described his 33-yard 4th quarter touchdown as one of his proudest moments during his time in Chapel Hill.

On October 7, 1950, it was back to Athens for the 20th meeting between Carolina and Georgia. I have some special memories from this game as I sat at home in Asheboro, North Carolina listening to the play-by-play on the Tobacco Sports Network. Normally the play-by-play announcer would be Ray Reeve, but on this day he was not able to be behind the microphone and my future dear friend and sports anchor at WFMY-TV in Greensboro, Charlie Harville did the broadcast. In the end it was a 0 to 0 tie…the second time for a tie game in the long history of the series.

Festivities for the 1951 Carolina – Georgia game got off to an unusual start. On Friday night, September 28th, a torchlight parade through downtown Chapel Hill and across campus was followed by a pep rally in Memorial Hall that featured both head coaches, Carl Snavely from Carolina and Wally Butts from Georgia. The 1951 Tar Heel football team, led by Captain Joe Dudeck, made a dramatic entrance down the center aisle and onto the stage. In addition to the speeches from the head coaches, Kay Kyser, UNC’s All-Time Cheerleader, led the packed-house in a rousing cheer.

But on Saturday, in Kenan Stadium, it was all Bulldogs, 28 to 16.

The 1952 meeting between Carolina and Georgia was scheduled for October 4th, but two days before, UNC was forced to cancel the game because of a polio outbreak on campus. Georgia Head Coach Wally Butts said, “We are very disappointed that our traditional game with North Carolina can’t be played. We feel they were right to cancel the game under the circumstances.”

Starting with the 1953 game in Athens, the Dogs went on a 4 game winning streak ending with a 26 to 12 win to spoil homecoming in Chapel Hill on October 13, 1956 in front of only 19,000 fans. That ’56 game was the silver anniversary game in the series.

Hugh Morton's action photograph of the 1956 UNC versus Georgia game, as published in the October 15, 1956 issue of The Charlotte News. The caption identifies the ball carrier as George Whitton, but the game day program does not include his name and lists #32 as Ed Burkhalter.

Hugh Morton’s action photograph of the 1956 UNC versus Georgia game, as published in the October 15, 1956 issue of The Charlotte News. The caption identifies the ball carrier as George Whitton, but the game day program does not include his name and lists #32 as Ed Burkhalter.

Hugh Morton's negative of the above scene, without cropping.

Hugh Morton’s negative of the above scene, without cropping.

The teams would not meet again until the 1963 season. Going into that season’s game in Chapel Hill on November 2nd, the series stood at twelve wins for Georgia, eleven wins for Carolina, and two ties.  After Carolina’s 28 to 7 win the series was tied at twelve.  As it turned out, that UNC victory would be its last win over Georgia.  The Tar Heels subsequently lost in 1964, ’65, and ’66 as well as the last time these two teams met in the 1971 Gator Bowl—a game that was billed as the “Battle of the Brothers” between Vince Dooley of Georgia and Bill Dooley of Carolina.

That 1971 New Year’s Eve battle in Jacksonville, Florida was UNC’s sixth bowl game appearance going back to the 1947 Sugar Bowl game against Georgia.  After a scoreless first half, Carolina took a 3 to 0 lead in the 3rd quarter on a 35-yard field goal by Ken Craven, but Georgia came back later in the third with a 25-yard Jimmy Poulos TD run. Following the point-after, that was all the scoring that day. Georgia won the defensive battle 7 to 3.  (Hugh Morton was otherwise preoccupied and did not travel to photograph the bowl game.)  Carolina has not played Georgia since that day.  Tomorrow’s 2016 season opener will renew the storied rivalry.

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.

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.”