From the wing to the T . . . (shirt, that is)

Happy New Year from “A View to Hugh.”  On the Heels of last week’s post that included mention of SMU standout running back Doak Waker, Jack Hilliard recounts some additional Justice–Walker memories from 1950.  For some perspective, I added the excerpts from The State, and some tidbits found while looking for any use of the photographs.

UNC All America football player Charlie "Choo Choo" Justice (L) and SMU All America Doak Walker posing together, each wearing t-shirts celebrating the other's All America honors.

UNC All America football player Charlie “Choo Choo” Justice (L) and SMU All America Doak Walker posing together, each wearing t-shirts celebrating the other’s All America honors. Photograph by Hugh Morton, cropped by blog editor. The time and place of this photograph and the one below is unknown, but the most likely candidate would be early April 1950 during the Azalea Festival weekend. Walker arrive in Wilmington in the late afternoon of March 31st. Walker and Justice were together in Jacksonville, Florida as opponents in the first ever Senior Bowl on January 7, 1950, but there is no evidence that Morton attended the game. Another possibility could have been sometime around the 1950 Cotton Bowl in Dallas in late December 1949 or early January 1950, prior to announcing their business arrangement.

When UNC played Wake Forest on October 15, 1949 my dad and I were there. We arrived in Chapel Hill about 10 o’clock on that Saturday morning and visited on Franklin Street as we always liked to do. We stopped by The Varsity Shop at 149 East Franklin.  In those days as I recall, they offered three different UNC T-shirts: one with the University logo, one that said UNC Class of 19??, and one with a Charlie Justice image that included Art Weiner, Walt Pupa, and Hosea Rodgers.  The shirts were white with Carolina blue lettering, a major contrast to the hundreds of designs today at Johnny T-shirt, Chapel Hill Sportswear, or the Shrunken Head, among others on today’s Franklin Street.  As I stood looking at the Justice shirt, my dad said “I’ll talk to Santa about one of those.”  He must have, because on Christmas morning I got one.

As the 1949 season came to a close, Justice with his brother Jack along with his good friend SMU All America Doak Walker, partnered with former Greensboro businessman George Edwards, who was president of Quality Textiles in Greenville, South Carolina, to take that T-shirt idea across North Carolina and Texas.  Both Justice and Walker were triple-threat tailbacks—Justice in Coach Carl Snavely’s single wing, and Walker in Coach Matty Bell’s double wing.  The white T-shirts came in three designs: running, passing, and kicking, with Carolina blue lettering for Charlie and SMU red lettering for Doak.

P081_NTBS3_003338Hugh Morton was hired to take publicity pictures.  Morton and Justice had been friends for a long time, and Justice and Walker had become friends while on several All America teams in ’48 and ’49.  Morton always included one of the T-shirt shots in his slide shows.

Following the ’49 bowl season, the two Saturday heroes started a series of personal appearance autograph parties. They were very careful not to enter into any kind of business venture until they had finished their college playing careers and were no longer under NCAA regulations.

Justice made his first stop at Meyer’s Department Store in downtown Greensboro on Monday January 9, 1950, one week after leading UNC in the 1950 Cotton Bowl in Dallas, and two days after leading the South team to victory over Walker’s North team in the first annual Senior Bowl played in Jacksonville, Florida.  Charlie and Sarah arrived at the store about 2:15 for the 2:30 signing party.  There was already a line.  As Charlie began to sign the shirts, the line grew longer and by 3:30 with the school kids out of class, the line stretched out the door and down the sidewalk.  By 4:30, the sidewalk was filled as far as one could see and overflowed into Elm Street.  At 5:00 o’clock an estimated crowd between 2,500 and 3,000 people that were either in line or had been through the line since 2:15. Justice had worn out 6 pens signing his name. It was at this point that the Greensboro Police Department had to be called in.  I didn’t even get close to Charlie that day, but I did get a shirt which I still have.  Finally, at 5:30, they cleared the store and locked the doors.  The store created a mail order form and advertised it in the Greensboro Daily News. (No web sites in those days). The shirts sold for one dollar each and the postage was fifteen cents.

A headline in the Greensboro Daily News the next morning read, “Choo Choo Mobbed by Adoring Fans.” A front page, four-column story by Daily News staff writer Larry Hirsch was accompanied by two pictures, one of which was titled “The Meyer’s Bowl.” There is also a picture of the Greensboro signing party in the 1958 Bob Quincy–Julian Scheer book Choo Choo: The Charlie Justice Story.  In a 1984 interview Justice recalled, “I had hoped to sign a few autographs and help Ken Blair, manager over at Meyer’s sell a few T-shirts.”

Charlie "Choo-Choo" Justice autographing a T-shirt at J. C. Penny's department store, Burlington, N. C. , on 11 January 1950.  Photograph by Edward J. McCauley, cropped by blog editor.

Charlie “Choo-Choo” Justice autographing a T-shirt at J. C. Penny’s department store, Burlington, N. C. , on 11 January 1950. Photograph by Edward J. McCauley, cropped by blog editor.

Two days later, on January 11, Justice was at the J. C. Penney Company in Burlington for another autograph party—a party that was documented by Morton photographic contemporary Edward J. McCauley and his images from that day are also in the North Carolina Collection at UNC.  Woody Durham, the “Voice of the Tar Heels,” likes to tell about being at that party in Burlington.

Crowd of children waiting for Charlie Justice for an autograph.  Photograph by Edward J. McCauley.

Crowd of children waiting to see Charlie Justice for an autograph. Photograph by Edward J. McCauley, cropped by blog editor.

In the 14 January 1950 issue of The State, the magazine’s editorial staff asked readers for nominations for their “North Carolina’s Man of the Year” award for 1949.  They wrote,

Pick out some man and then weigh him in the balance.  Compare the good things he has done with others that might not be so good.  Decide whether he has been an influence for those things which tend to promote the welfare of North Carolina and its people.  It is on that basis that the selection should be made.

Two weeks later, the January 28th issue of the The State hit magazine racks and mail boxes across North Carolina.  On the cover: the Charlie Justice family, photographed by Hugh Morton.

TheState_19500128_coverInside the magazine, editors noted that Justice and Governor W. Kerr Scott received the most mention from readers.  The editors expounded on their selection of Justice (which you can read in its entirety by clicking on the magazine cover above):

. . . there are two major classes of people in North Carolina—the young and the old.  Both are important.  Perhaps the young are more important because they still have the major portion of their lives ahead of them.  Charlie Justice has been an inspiration to many thousands of boys and girls in North Carolina.  You’d be surprised to know how many of them keep scrap-books about him.  They actually swap pictures, just as we used to swap cigarette pictures fifty years or so ago.

Summarizing they listed their reasons for their selection:

  1. He has been the finest kind of an inspiration and example to the youth of North Carolina.
  2. He has provided many hours of pleasurable entertainment to hundreds of thousands of people.
  3. He has given North Carolina national publicity of a most favorable nature.
  4. He has been unselfish in his willingness to be of service in may worthy causes.
  5. He has never been to busy to be nice to kids.

A few days after the Man-of-the-Year issue of The State, on February 3rd, Justice attended another autograph party, this one at Belk-Tyler’s in Rocky Mount.

A bit later in 1950, Doak Walker was having similar successful autograph parties in the Dallas–Fort Worth area of Texas.  On April 14, 1950, he appeared on the evening news on KBTV, Channel 8 in Dallas promoting his autograph party at Titche-Goettinger the following day. The store also set up a mail order and phone-in ad in the Dallas Morning News. A. Harris & Company set up a mail-order blank for the shirts in the “News” as well.  The Robert I. Cohen department store place an advertisement in the April 15th edition of the Galveston Daily News that read, “Hey Fellas, (gals, too) Be the first in your gang to wear a DOAK WALKER TEE SHIRT $1.” The advertisement gave a description of the three pictures styles, included a drawing of a lad wearing the running shirt and a note that “Phone and Mail Orders Accepted”—plus an announcement they would be giving away ten autographed footballs when “The Doaker will be here personally for an autograph party Saturday, April 19th.  Don’t miss him.”  Another advertisement with a drawing of a kid wearing the passing T-shirt ran in the 23rd issue of the newspaper.  Several weeks later, a May 27th Cohen advertisement for a one-day, end-of-the-month clearance sale priced the T-shirts at 88¢.

It not clear how widely Morton’s photographs were used for publicity.  I have pasted in one of my Charlie Justice scrapbooks, a newspaper picture of the Morton image that shows both wearing the shirt with both player pictures and the caption reads:

Two pals certain to succeed when their classes graduate in June are Charlie Justice left the Carolina All America, and Doak Walker right SMU’s All America. They’ve already gone into business for themselves as witness the shirts. They plan a personal appearance tour together after graduation.

I can’t tell which newspaper or the date of the clipping. Likely it would have been The Greensboro Daily News, sometime after January 2nd and before June of 1950.  I don’t believe the joint tour took place because it was scheduled to begin after Carolina’s final regular season game with Virginia on November 26th, but since they got the ’50 Cotton Bowl bid, the joint tour was canceled. I don’t believe it was ever rescheduled. Surveying various Texas and North Carolina newspapers for 1950 that are available online did not yield an answer.

The Justice jerseys were available into the following football season, too.  Quality Textiles placed advertisements in game-day programs that listed stores in North Carolina and Virginia that sold the shirts.  Rather than using the Justice/Walker photographs, the ad used photograph of a young boy and girl holding hands while wearing Justice jerseys.  The photograph shows that the manufacturer also made a long sleeve polo shirt, which may explain why they choose to make different image.

Thirty-four years after the T-shirt’s debut, in August of 1984, I was assigned to direct a Charlie Justice documentary produced by Winston-Salem TV producer David Solomon.  (Many may remember Solomon as having worked with Hugh Morton on the 1994 PBS documentary The Search for Clean Air.) As part of the promotion campaign for the Justice program, the 1949 Choo Choo T-shirt was replicated and given to the media to promote the program, “All the Way Choo Choo.”  This time I got Charlie to autograph my shirt.

Dismal Day in Dallas

Head Coach Larry Fedora’s 2014 Tar Heels are going bowling.

For the 31st time, going back to 1947, UNC’s football team will play in a post season bowl game—this time it’s the “Quick Lane Bowl” in Detroit on Friday, December 26th at 4:30 PM (ET).  The game will be on ESPN.

Of the 30 bowl games played, the Tar Heels have been victorious 14 times.  Of the 16 losses, the one on January 2, 1950 was one of the toughest.  Morton collection volunteer Jack Hilliard looks back on that dismal day in Dallas, almost 65 years ago.

The Apache Belles majorettes from Tyler, Texas during the 1950 Cotton Bowl festivities.  A caption in the Greensboro News identified the majorette as Iwanna Burk, sister of Baylor star quarterback Adrian Burk.

The Apache Belles majorettes from Tyler, Texas during the 1950 Cotton Bowl festivities. A caption in the Greensboro News identified the majorette as Iwanna Burk, sister of Baylor star quarterback Adrian Burk.

When UNC Head Football Coach Carl Snavely arrived at his 215 Wollen Gym office on Wednesday, November 23, 1949, a New Year’s bowl game was not on his radar. After all, Carolina had lost 3 games during the season and two of those losses were decisive: Notre Dame 42 to 6 in Yankee Stadium and Tennessee 35 to 6 in Kenan Stadium.

Coach was concentrating on the upcoming game with Virginia three days away.  Then, the phone rang and everything changed. It was Dan Rogers, Chairman of the Board, Cotton Bowl Athletic Association, calling from Dallas.  He told Coach Snavely that Carolina was on a short list for a Cotton Bowl invitation.  He then added, Virginia is on that list also. So the UNC vs. UVA game on Saturday, November 26, 1949 would now become the “Cotton Bowl Invitational,” with the winner going to the top of the list and getting the bid.

Snavely told his team about the phone call when the varsity was traveling by bus to the Duke–Carolina freshmen game in Durham on Thursday, the 24th. The next day the team voted to accept the bid if offered.

The Greensboro Daily News on Saturday morning featured a large Hugh Morton photograph of UNC All-Americas Charlie Justice and Art Weiner.  The headline caption read “Heading for the Last Roundup.”

19491126_GreensboroNews_Sec2page2On Saturday, November 26, 1949, the largest football crowd in Chapel Hill to date—48,000—gathered in ideal football weather to see Justice and Weiner play their final varsity game in Kenan Stadium.  Veteran CBS Radio broadcaster Red Barber was in town to call the game.

Tar Heel fans were not disappointed.

After a scoreless first quarter . . . two plays into the second quarter, it was Justice on a typical, zigzagging run off left guard for a 14-yard touchdown and Carolina led 7 to 0 following Abie Williams’ point after.  At the 13:30 mark it was Justice again, this time a 63-yard touchdown pass to Weiner.  Williams was true again on the PAT and Carolina led 14 to 0 at the half.

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Until yesterday, this photograph was only identified as a Charlie Justice negative amid hundreds of UNC football negatives. This photograph of Justice’s 14-yard touchdown run against the University of Virginia appeared in the Wilmington Star-News on Sunday, November 27th, page 12-A.

Twelve high school bands were on hand to entertain during halftime.  The game was dedicated to William Rand Kenan, Jr., who had donated the stadium in 1927.  He was a special guest on this day.

The third quarter, like the first, was scoreless, but in the fourth quarter, Virginia was able to put together a 43-yard drive and was finally on the scoreboard with 2:30 remaining in the game.  Carolina accidentally touched Virginia’s on-side kick and UVA took over at their own 48.  Four plays and two first-downs later, Virginia was at the Carolina 7-yard line with 0:32 on the clock. Three Cavalier passes failed; on fourth down they tried a double-reverse play, but Tar Heels Art Weiner and Roscoe Hansen stopped the ball carrier back on the 8-yard line to seal the victory.

Following the game, Sports Information Director Jake Wade made the announcement: the Heels had been invited to play in the Cotton Bowl, and the team and the University administration had approved.  Carolina, the Southern Conference Champion, would play Rice Institute (Rice University today), the Southwest Conference Champion on January 2, 1950.

Snavely ordered a break for his troops from November 28th until December 3rd.  A week of practice followed, then a break for exams.  Preparation for Rice would resume on December 16th and continue until the Christmas break on December 21st.

The Tar Heel team reassembled in Chapel Hill on December 26th and held one final practice on the 27th before departing for Big D.

It was cold and clear at Raleigh-Durham Airport at 9:35 AM on December 28, 1949, when the first of two planes carrying the Tar Heel football team took off for Dallas.  The Capital Airlines DC-4 was labeled “Cotton Bowl Special,” and carried Justice and Weiner plus 46 other UNC players and part of the coaching staff. Then at 2 PM, the second plane carrying the remainder of the team and staff took off.  On hand for both takeoffs was Chapel Hill Mayor Ed Lanier.

The first flight arrived in Dallas at 4:25 PM and was greeted by 3,000 Tar Heel fans and coeds from SMU plus Mr. SMU himself, Doak Walker.  Originally, Charlie and Sarah Justice were going to stay at the Melrose Hotel with the coaches and team, but Justice got a letter a week earlier from Doak Walker inviting them to spend the week at the Walker home.

UNC's Charlie Justice and SMU's Doak Walker inside Dal-Hi Stadium, Dallas, Texas.

UNC’s Charlie Justice and SMU’s Doak Walker inside Dal-Hi Stadium, Dallas, Texas.

December 29th was a practice day for Carolina . . . a workout at Dal-Hi stadium in the morning and movie viewing in the afternoon.  Walker was present for both sessions, adding coaching suggestions along the way since he had already played Rice earlier in the season.  Morton’s picture of Justice, Walker, and Snavely viewing game movies made the papers back in North Carolina on December 30th.

Carl Snavely, Charlie Justice reviewing football filmAlso, early on the morning of the 30th, the football team got the good news from Chapel Hill that Carolina’s basketball team had upset Duke 59 to 52 in the first annual Dixie Classic back in Raleigh the night before.

Following an afternoon practice, Coach Snavely said:  “Right now we are in the best condition for the ball game this season.  The boys are in good spirit and I know they are having a good time here in Dallas.”

UNC football team practice session at Dal-Hi Stadium.

UNC football team practice session at Dal-Hi Stadium.

The Carolina team and coaches along with photographer Hugh Morton attended the annual Cotton Bowl luncheon put on by the local Optimist Club on Saturday the 31st.  The keynote speaker was Supreme Court Justice Tom C. Clark, a native of Dallas.

The Sunday papers predicted clouds and a 7-point win for Rice on Monday.  Back home, The Greensboro Daily News published on the front page of the Sports section a picture of Justice and Bob Gantt at work on the practice field.  It was now time to get serious about the 14th Annual Cotton Bowl.

Monday, January 2, 1950 was a cold, damp day in Asheboro, North Carolina.  I remember sitting with my best buddy on the front steps listening to the game on his portable radio that he had gotten for Christmas.  Legendary NBC sports broadcaster Bill Stern was the play-by-play announcer with analysis and color by Kern Tips. We were listening to station WBIG in Greensboro. (The game was also on WSJS radio in Winston-Salem).  The Greensboro Daily News headline that morning read:

“JUSTICE ERA COMES TO AN END AS TAR HEELS BATTLE OWLS IN COTTON BOWL”

Charlie Justice runs onto the field for the last time for Carolina at the Cotton Bowl on January 2, 1950, Dallas, Texas.

Charlie Justice runs onto the field for the last time for Carolina at the Cotton Bowl on January 2, 1950, Dallas, Texas.

The University of North Carolina Band, under the direction of Prof. Earl Slocum was part of the pre-game festivities as Charlie Justice ran onto the field for the final time in a Carolina varsity uniform.  Morton’s image of Justice and the band is the first picture in the 1958 Quincy-Scheer Justice biography (on page 3).

Then as 75,347 fans watched, UNC Captain Charlie “Choo Choo” Justice met at midfield with Rice Co-Captains James “Froggy” Williams and Gerald Weatherly for Referee Ray McCullock’s coin toss.  Hugh Morton documented that scene as well before returning to his Carolina sideline position.

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Gloomy skies prevailed as neither team could do much in the first quarter of play which ended with neither team on the scoreboard.  Early in the second quarter, Rice quarterback Tobin Rote passed to Billy Burkhalter for a 44-yard touchdown.  Later in the quarter, Rice took possession at midfield and drove for a second score with fullback Bobby Lantrip going the final three-yards to make the halftime score 14 to 0.

Rice right halfback Billy Burkhalter (#12), UNC right tackle Bill Kuhn (#51), and UNC Right End Ed Bilpuch (#47).  Crop from Morton's original negative for this blog post, the image appeared evern more tightly cropped—and without credit—in the January 4th issue of the Wilmington Morning Star.

Rice right halfback Billy Burkhalter (#12), UNC right tackle Bill Kuhn (#51), and UNC Right End Ed Bilpuch (#47). Crop from Morton’s original negative for this blog post, the image appeared evern more tightly cropped—and without credit—in the January 4th issue of the Wilmington Morning Star.

The halftime show, directed by Frank Malone, Jr. featured the Rice Institute Band plus nine high school bands from the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  The highlight of the show was a performance by the Apache Bells of Tyler Texas Junior College and finally the presentation of the 1950 Cotton Bowl Queen, Miss Eugenia Harris from Houston.

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When the third quarter began, Rice picked up where they left off, this time it was a 17-yard pass from Tobin Rote to “Froggy” Williams to make the score 21 to 0 with 15 minutes to play.

Early in quarter number four, following an interception at the Carolina 15, Rice, on two plays, scored their final points of the day when Burkhalter scored his second touchdown of the afternoon.  With 9 minutes remaining, the score was Rice 27 – Carolina 0.

At this point, Carolina seemed to come alive.  They drove 65 yards—the final 7 yard a touchdown pass from Justice to Paul Rizzo.  During this drive, Morton took one of his most famous Charlie Justice pictures.  The image is part of the North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives exhibit, “Photographs by Hugh Morton: An Uncommon Retrospective.”

P081_NTBF3_005643_07_fused_print1_13 copyThen Carolina put on another drive—this one 80 yards— and fullback Billy Hayes accounted for 41 of them.  The final play of the drive came when Justice went off left tackle, but Rice defensive end Billy Taylor grabbed him by the sleeve.  Justice tossed the ball to his left where Rizzo caught it and raced into the end zone.  Abie Williams’ extra point made the final score 27 to 13.  The Carolina comeback was too little, too late.

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The post-game handshake between Rice head coach Jess Neely—joined by his daughter’s Joan (left) and Mary– and UNC head coach Carl Snavely (right). This Morton photograph appeared in the January 4th issue of the Greensboro Record,

Following the traditional coaches handshake at midfield, each coach commented on the game.  Rice head coach Jess Neely simply said, “I had figured we could run against North Carolina.”  And run they did—226 yards to 174 for UNC.  Tar Heel head coach Carl Snavely said, “We simply did not have a bowl team this year.”

Charlie Justice, in a 1995 interview with biographer Bob Terrell, said, “We didn’t deserve the bowl trip.  The Cotton Bowl invited us so my playing could be measured against Doak Walker, who had a great season at SMU.  Texans had seen Doak play all season but hadn’t seen me, so this gave them the opportunity.”

Carolina and Rice each got a check for $125,951, while the players each got engraved Cotton Bowl watches and beautiful Cotton Bowl blankets.

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On Wednesday, January 6th, Hugh Morton’s post-game picture of Charlie Justice and Paul Rizzo graced the sports page in The Greensboro Daily News.  The picture also turned up in the 1950 UNC yearbook, the “Yackety Yack” on page 271.

The game was not national televised, but even if it had been, North Carolina’s two TV stations at the time, in Greensboro and Charlotte, would not have been able to carry it because the AT&T cable had not been completed in the state.  That would come nine months later on September 30, 1950.

So WFMY-TV in Greensboro made arrangements to get NBC-TV to film the game, then fly the film back to Greensboro for showing. WFMY Sports Director Charlie Harville would narrate the film. The showing was scheduled for 9:30 PM on Wednesday, January 4th.  However, rainy, foggy weather in Dallas prevented the plane carrying the film from taking off, so the showing had to be delayed until 9:30 PM on Thursday.  Folks from all across the state came into Greensboro to watch.  It turned out to be the largest single audience in the history of television in North Carolina at that time. The program was so popular, the station repeated the film on Friday, January 6th.  If Carolina could have won, the station probably could have made an unprecedented third showing.

In his own words: Johnpaul Harris, artist and dear friend

Today, November 5, 2014 marks a very special anniversary on the UNC campus. It was ten years ago, on a beautiful Hugh Morton photo-post-card-day, that the magnificent Charlie Justice statue was dedicated just outside the Justice Hall of Honor at the Kenan Football Center.  On that day, the dedication ceremony included several people representing the university, plus friends and teammates—but we didn’t hear from the man who made it all possible: sculptor Johnpaul Harris. So, today on the tenth anniversary, Morton Collection volunteer Jack Hilliard shares some of Harris’ thoughts about that day and his work with his friend Hugh Morton.

I didn’t want to make him [Justice] too much of a pretty boy, but I didn’t want to make him this mean, killer football player either. —Johnpaul Harris in the February 6, 2005 issue of the High Point Enterprise.

Johnpaul Harris with model of Charlie Justice statue, ca. 2004.

Johnpaul Harris with model of Charlie Justice statue, ca. 2004. Photograph by Hugh Morton.

Shortly after Charlie Justice’s death on October 17, 2003, teammate Joe Neikirk approached Hugh Morton with an idea for a statue.  Morton, who had worked with his friend Sculptor Johnpaul Harris on other projects like the Mildred and cubs statue and the deer habitat at Grandfather Mountain, immediately called his friend to see if he would be interested in a football statue.  Harris described his reaction in a 2005 letter to Hugh Morton:

“I probably more than anybody know how Coach (Carl) Snavely felt when Charlie turned up at Chapel Hill.  If it wasn’t a gift from God for Snavely it was certainly one for me.  You called me late in 2003 to see if it was the kind of project I would be interested in.  I think you knew the answer, but maybe not the extent of it.  It was the ultimate project for a man who was an OK football player who in high school knew nothing of Charlie Justice other than that he was the first famous ball player that I or any of my generation remember.”

In an interview with Annette Dunlap in the November 19, 2004 issue of Asheboro’s The Courier-Tribune, Harris said, “I jumped on it.”  Morton then became the linchpin between the university and Harris.  “There’s a lot of red tape established on the Chapel Hill campus for the installation of artworks,” Harris continued in his Dunlap interview.  “I just had to wait for it to run its course.”

Envelope, labeled by Hugh Morton, containing photographs used by Johnpaul Harris to create the Charlie Justice statue.

Envelope, labeled by Hugh Morton, containing photographs used by Johnpaul Harris to create the Charlie Justice statue.

While he waited, Harris and Morton started to work on the project . . . as Harris continues in his letter to Morton:

“. . . you started sending pictures from your fantastic collection of Carolina images.  I treasure each one for several reasons, but at the time they were just full of information that was vital to the project.  When I asked for more particular angles, you always came through for me.  It was like Christmas every time I opened the mail box to find a big white envelope with Grandfather Logo in the corner.  I had enough information to do the job, but I never saw a picture that didn’t further my understanding of who Charlie Justice was.

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“. . . Then one day the phone rang and it was Willie Scroggs (Senior Associate Athletic Director for Facilities at UNC) saying that they wanted me to do the Charlie Justice statue.  It was the sweetest moment of my life as a sculptor, until the team reviews, and the unveiling.”

It was now time for serious work.  Harris and Morton’s UNC committee selected the walking pose rather than an action shot and Harris prepared a 26-inch-model for Athletics Director Dick Baddour to reviewa review that came on the day of the 2004 Blue-White game at Kenan Stadium.  Harris was a special guest at the game.

Sculptor Johnpaul Harris poses with the clay Charlie Justice statue in his Ashboro, North Carolina studio during the second Justice-era player review on June 22, 2004. The original negatives for this view, and the installation and dedication images below have not yet been located within the Moron collection. Scans made for this article come from inkjet prints provided by the author.

Sculptor Johnpaul Harris poses with the clay Charlie Justice statue in his Ashboro, North Carolina studio during the second Justice-era player review on June 22, 2004. The original negatives for this view, and the installation and dedication images below have not yet been located within the Moron collection. Scans made for this article come from inkjet prints provided by the author.

Next up, on June 1, 2004, was the first of two Justice-era player reviews. This was my introduction to Johnpaul Harris.  We have remained good friends and get together for lunch every few weeks.

Harris continues with his letter to Morton:

I thought Charlie looked pretty good when the teammates came over to critique it.

The players offered suggestions and Harris took lots of notes.  Three weeks later, the players had a second review in Harris’ Asheboro studio.  Harris made final adjustments,  then a final mold before Charlie was off to the foundry.  On January 7, 2005 Johnpaul Harris was a guest on the UNC-TV program North Carolina People with William Friday.  Harris explained the process of taking four, 30-gallon-barrels of North Carolina clay and making it into a work of art to be cast at the foundry.

As Harris wrote to Morton,

It felt really good to have Charlie in place and out of my hands for a change.  I still enjoy seeing the pictures you made that day.

Johnpaul Harris making a final adjustment during installation of the Charlie Justice statute near Kenan Memorial Stadium, November 3, 2004.

Johnpaul Harris making a final adjustment during installation of the Charlie Justice statute near Kenan Memorial Stadium, November 3, 2004.

On Tuesday morning, November 2, 2004, I got a call from Hugh Morton.  He said, “We’re going to put the Charlie Justice statue in place tomorrow morning.  We’d like to have you there.”

Wednesday, November 3rd was a beautiful day in Chapel Hill as Johnpaul Harris directed a crew from  Architect Glenn Corley, and placed the 950 pound, 8 foot, 6 inch work of art into its final position.  When all of the installation work was done, Hugh Morton said to Harris, “You did a magnificent job.  It looks just like Charlie.”

Johnpaul Harris and Barbara (Justice) Crews, daughter of Charlie Justice, pose during dedication day for the Charlie Justice statue, November 5, 2004.

Johnpaul Harris and Barbara (Justice) Crews, daughter of Charlie Justice, pose during dedication day for the Charlie Justice statue, November 5, 2004.

On November 5, 2004 the Morton-Harris team was once again prepared to impress with the dedication of the Charlie Justice statue.

In his letter to Morton, Harris continued:

For me, days don’t come any better than unveiling day.  The weather was perfect.  There were so many friends and family, there was not enough time to do all the visiting I would have liked, not to mention catching up with Charlie’s teammates that I have come to know.
“It was great to see everybody enjoying Charlie after the unveiling.  Barbara Crews (Charlie and Sarah’s daughter) seemed to enjoy it more than anyone else and for longer periods.  I saw her staring up into the face and remarking that she hadn’t seen her Daddy from that perspective since she was a little girl.  I’m sure it sparked a deep well of memories for her.  She also mentioned that she had never seen his hands as open as they were, since they had suffered so many injuries (probably from pro ball).  Thanks, Hugh, for introducing us.  I did miss getting the definitive picture of you and me standing before the thing that we had spent so much time and energy on in the past two or three seasons.  Maybe we can do that on some nice crisp Saturday before a home game.”

Unfortunately, that pictured never got taken.

I thought my football life was behind me.  I never expected to tell anyone that I had been an All Central Tar Heel Conference player.  But the most perfect completion of the circle of my gridiron days has been realized.  A pretty good footballer from Troy (NC) was chosen to honor in bronze the memory of the greatest football legend of the 20th century from North Carolina.  I was part of the team that was Charlie’s team and by extension, I became a part of Charlie’s team.  Finally, I had to live up to your faith in me and then if there was anything else I had to satisfy my own demands for my work.  Thank you for making it all possible.  Without the superb record that you shared with me, the work would have come far short of what we achieved.  And thank you for your friendship, which started with our collaboration on Mildred.  For my part I know that it will never end.

 —Johnpaul Harris, February 5, 2005

Epilog

Sculptor Johnpaul Harris posing with his statue of Mildred the Bear and cubs in the Nature Museum at Grandfather Mountain, NC.

Sculptor Johnpaul Harris posing with his statue of Mildred the Bear and cubs in the Nature Museum at Grandfather Mountain, N. C.

Morton and Harris had worked together about fifteen years before the Justice statue when Morton commissioned Harris to create a statue of Mildred the Bear, the loveable people-friendly mascot of Grandfather Mountain, with her cubs. That effort is now in the Grandfather Mountain Nature Museum.  During a 2005 interview with Jimmy Tomlin in the High Point Enterprise, Harris remembered working inside Mildred’s habitat getting precise measurements.  “She was great.  Of course, they were keeping her happy with apple pieces while I was in there.”  Harris also got to pet the cubs.  “They’d put their paws around your neck and lick you in the face, just like a puppy.”

In addition to Mildred and Charlie, you can see other Johnpaul Harris sculptures at the North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro where there is an 11-foot Rhino statue.  UNC Alumnus Charles Loudermilk funded for the city of Atlanta a Johnpaul Harris statue of former mayor Andrew Young for the city’s Walton Spring Park (now Andrew Young Plaza), installed in 2008.

Postscript

As Harris was driving his truck home from Chapel Hill following the review of his Justice model in May of 2004, the odometer tripped 222,222.2.  When Johnpaul told Hugh the story about the 2s, He smiled and said, “Maybe somebody was trying to tell you something.”

I agree with Hugh.  I feel sure that #22 saw that and smiled.

The eight-game season of 1952

On this day 62 football seasons ago, October 18, 1952, the UNC football team kicked off the 1952 season for a second time. Morton collection volunteer Jack Hilliard explains how that happened and how a series of unique events made the ’52 season unlike any other.

UNC Football Blue Books are available for reading online.  You can read the 1952 issue by clicking on the cover image.

Many UNC football media guides, known as “blue books,” are available online. You can read the 1952 issue by clicking on the cover image.

When the February 4, 1950 issue of The State, with Duke Chapel pictured on its cover, arrived in Hugh Morton’s mailbox in Wilmington, his immediate reaction was to quickly supply publisher Carl Goerch an “equal-time” photograph from UNC.  The magazine printed Morton’s shot of the Morehead-Patterson Bell Tower on its February 25th cover.  In the early summer of 1952, when UNC Sports Information Director Jake Wade and his assistant Julian Scheer were preparing the ’52 football media guide (called a “blue book” in those days), they remembered Morton’s bell tower shot and decided to use it for the front cover of the ’52 guide.  Inside, Wade talked about UNC’s chances for the upcoming football season, and Head Coach Carl Snavely’s switch from the single-wing to the split T-formation.

Snavely said, “We lacked the speedy, shifty tailbacks, tough blocking backs and interfering linemen so vital to the single-wing.  We probably should have made the change a year ago.”  Smith Barrier, writing in the 1952 Illustrated Football Annual, picked up the Snavely quote and added that twenty lettermen from the 1951 team had graduated.

Carolina began the 1952 season without much fanfare.

On Saturday, September 27th, the Texas Longhorns came into Chapel Hill for the first time since that “never-to-be-forgotten” day in 1948 when the Tar Heels were victorious 34 to 7 in a game many Tar Heels to this day call the greatest Carolina win . . . ever.

Dougal Cameron running for a touchdown, as UNC's Billy Williams (20) sets up to attempt a tackle.   This scan shows the full negative, which was cropped for Wilmington's Sunday Star-News.

Dougal Cameron running for a touchdown, as UNC’s Billy Williams (20) sets up to attempt a tackle. This scan shows the full negative, which was tightly cropped on those two players in the photograph run the next day in Wilmington’s Sunday Star-News.

A sign hanging from Old East dorm read “Remember ’48,” but the events of September 25, 1948 were only a memory.  Irwin Smallwood, writing in the Greensboro Daily News, on Sunday, September 28th, said, “Carolina’s hopes of a repeat of that great ’48 victory over Texas . . . lasted exactly five plays—no more.”  Five plays into the game, Carolina fumbled.  Texas recovered and never looked back, posting a 28 to 7 victory.   40,000 cheering Tar Heels, led by new UNC Head Cheerleader Bo Thorpe, along with the Elizabeth City Marching Band, and with Tar Heel football great Charlie Justice in the stands, and UNC All America Art Weiner at Snavely’s side on the bench.  All that was not enough.

Next on the schedule was Georgia in Athens, but that encounter would never happen.

The front-page headline in the Greensboro Daily News on October 3rd read, “University Cancels Two Grid Contests as Polio Strikes.”  The games with Georgia and NC State were canceled when UNC fullback Harold (Bull) Davidson came down with polio. Four additional students, all athletes, came down with the disease. Daily Tar Heel editor, Barry Farber, said, “the news is very depressing, but the only sensible step the University could take.”

Down in Athens, 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.”

During the next two weeks, students were urged to stay on campus and long distant telephone calls to and from Chapel Hill doubled as students and anxious parents kept in touch.

In the end, all five students, football player “Bull” Davidson, cross country teammates John Robert Barden, Jr. and Richard Lee Bostain, swimmer Robert Nash “Pete” Higgins, and freshman football player Samuel S. Sanders, all recovered quickly and none suffered any paralysis.

So, on October 18th, it was time to kickoff the ’52 football season for a second time, with Wake Forest coming to town for the 49th meeting between the two schools, a series dating back to 1888.

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Bruce Hillenbrand of Wake Forest tackled by UNC’s Dick Lackey (30). This photograph, tightly cropped on the action on the left, ran in Monday’s Morning Star in Wilmington. It’s caption identified George Norris (#69) and Fred Satangelo (#60).

Despite losing 6 of 11 fumbles, the Tar Heels led Wake 7 to 6 with 1:16 left in the game.  But at that point Wake’s Sonny George kicked a game-winning- 22-yard field goal.  New mascot Rameses VIII and 30,000 Tar Heel fans left Kenan Stadium dejected.

Next it was on to South Bend and a fourth meeting with Notre Dame. This one turned out just as the previous three had been…a Tar Heel loss. This time it was 34 to 14.

This interesting side-bar story appeared in the Greensboro Daily News on October 30, 1952:

It may be bad . . . but really, it’s not all that bad.  Today (October 29th) Bo Thorpe reported to Coach Carl Snavely for football practice.  Snavely appraised his new candidate as very fast and shifty.  Thorpe is head cheerleader for Carolina’s Tar Heels, who have yet to win a game this season.

Time picked up the Thorpe story and ran it in its November 17th issue on page 132.

Here’s another interesting sidebar.  Henry Benton (Bo) Thorpe started his first band in 1978. He and his band played for five presidential and gubernatorial inaugural balls, the National Symphony Ball, the Kentucky Colonel’s Derby Ball and for the annual June German, a traditional dance held in Rocky Mount.  In all . . . at least 60 concerts a year.

For Carolina’s Tar Heels, a trip to Knoxville was next where they would be a three-touchdown underdog.  Only 22,000 fans turned out for the game that saw the Volunteers swamp the Heels 41 to 14. The losing streak, going back to October 13, 1951 was now at 10—longest among the nation’s major colleges.

Len Bullock running for a 69-yard touchdown run versus the University of Virginia.  This photograph, tightly cropped to focus on the action on the left, appeared in Wilmington's Sunday Star-News, 9 November 1952.

Len Bullock running for a 69-yard touchdown run versus the University of Virginia. This photograph, tightly cropped to focus on Bullock, appeared in Wilmington’s Sunday Star-News, 9 November 1952.

The University of Virginia was Carolina’s homecoming opponent on November 8, 1952.  Their trip to Chapel Hill would be their only out-of-state venture in ’52, and they obviously made it count…a 34 to 7 blowout.  A South Carolina homecoming game in Columbia was just ahead.

Flo Worrell, who starred in the South Carolina match-up, sits dejectedly during the UNC vs. Duke contest.

Flo Worrell, who starred in the South Carolina match-up, sits dejectedly during the UNC vs. Duke contest. A tightly cropped head-shot noting his new chinstrap was one of two photographs published in Wilmington’s Sunday Star-News—Worrell’s hometown newspaper.

UNC freshman Flo Worrell, who had played on Carolina’s junior varsity team most of the ’52 season, stepped up and led the Heels to a much-needed victory over USC, 27 to 19.  The losing streak was halted at 11 and Carolina fans looked forward to the traditional “battle of blues” slated for Saturday, November 22nd.

The weatherman promised 50-degrees and cloudy skies for the 39th meeting between Carolina and Duke . . . but he was wrong.  42,000 chilled fans saw Duke win the Southern Conference championship by shutting out the Tar Heels, 34 to 0.  Carolina was never in the game.

Duke head football coach Bill Murray being carried on shoulders of Duke football players, while UNC head football coach Carl Snavely shakes his hand at UNC-Chapel Hill versus Duke University football game at Kenan Memorial Stadium, Chapel Hill, NC. Duke players: #64 End Joe Hands, #39 Back David Lerps, #66 Guard Bobby Burrows, and #53 Center John Palmer.

Duke head football coach Bill Murray being carried on shoulders of Duke football players, while UNC head football coach Carl Snavely shakes his hand at UNC-Chapel Hill versus Duke University football game at Kenan Memorial Stadium, Chapel Hill, NC. Duke players: #64 End Joe Hands, #39 Back David Lerps, #66 Guard Bobby Burrows, and #53 Center John Palmer. This photograph appeared in the November 24th Charlotte News.

With one game remaining, the Heels were 1 and 6.  It had truly been a Tar Heel season out of focus.  In seven games Carolina had scored five times on the ground and six times through the air—a total of eleven touchdowns. (In 1948, Charlie Justice personally scores 11 times in 10 games and passed for 12 more touchdowns).

The final game of the 1952 season was a Friday night affair in Miami’s Orange Bowl against the Miami Hurricanes.  20,222 fans came out and saw Carolina play its best game since a 40 to 7 win over William & Mary in October of 1950. During a 13- minute span in the second quarter, Carolina scored 27 points.  The Alumni Review headline read, “34-7 Win Over Miami Provides Pleasing Finale.”

About 11:30 PM on Friday, November 28, 1952, the long ‘52 nightmare-season—a season like no other—was finally over.  It was unique, as the record book shows:

  • A 2-6 won-lost record
  • No wins in Kenan Stadium
  • 2 games canceled due to polio outbreak
  • Midway through the season, Head Cheerleader Bo Thorpe turns in his megaphone for a football helmet
  • Final game in the Southern Conference (the ’53 Tar Heels would play in the new Atlantic Coast Conference)
  • Carolina scores 27 points in 13 minutes at Miami

The unofficial record book shows that world class photographer Hugh Morton documented all four of Carolina’s home games during the 1952 season.  (He also photographed Duke’s home game against Georgia Tech.)

The University Athletic Council met at 8 PM on December 2 to decide the fate of Head Coach Carl Snavely.  The coach had turned in his letter of resignation earlier in the afternoon.  After 2 hours of discussion, the council accepted the resignation.  Dean A.W. Hobbs, Chairman of the Council said, “The Council wishes to go on record as appreciating sincerely the fine services that Mr. Snavely has rendered the athletic association at the University of North Carolina.”

Carl Snavely left Chapel Hill in early 1953 and would not return to the campus until the “Charlie Justice Era” reunion during the weekend of October 29-31, 1971.

The good news from Chapel Hill in late 1952 was that new Head Basketball Coach Frank McGuire won his first game with the Tar Heels…a 70 to 50 win over The Citadel on December 1st.

There’s still a certain magic in the very name

On this day, May 18, 2014, UNC’s great All America football player, Charlie “Choo Choo” Justice, would have turned 90 years old.  Justice was magical on the football field during the seasons 1946 through 1949 and that magic continued in his life after football.  He has been featured in many posts here at A View to Hugh, and currently there are ninety-nine images in the online collection of Hugh Morton photographs that include or relate to Charlie Justice.  Morton Collection volunteer and blog contributor Jack Hilliard looks at how the magic has evolved—and continues still.

A 1948 portrait of Tar Heel football star Charlie "Choo Choo" Justice in uniform at Kenan Memorial Stadium, Chapel Hill, NC.

A 1948 portrait of Tar Heel football star Charlie “Choo Choo” Justice in uniform at Kenan Memorial Stadium, Chapel Hill, NC.

When UNC’s classes of 1949 and 1950 held their respective 50th reunion celebrations in 1999 and 2000, they replicated their senior yearbooks, Yackety Yack.  As part of the yearbooks, the reunion committees sent out questionnaires and asked the question, “What experience, event, place or time during your years at Carolina brings back particularly fond memories?”  Of the 315 graduates who responded to the question, 126 mentioned the football team and 70 others mentioned Charlie Justice by name.

As part of the graduation ceremony on May 21, 2000, Charlie Justice was awarded the University’s highest honor, the degree of Doctor of Laws.  The award citation contains the following quote from Charlie’s dear friend Hugh Morton:

No person will ever know the benefits that have come to our University as the result of the loyalty which Charlie Justice kindled in thousands of our alumni.  The best thing about Charlie Justice, however, and the reason he deserves this honor, is that he has been a model citizen since college.  He has contributed his fame to hundreds of drives and worthy causes and has generally and consistently served as a wholesome example to impressionable youth.

Due to his declining health, Justice was not able to attend the graduation ceremony, but his Tar Heel teammate Paul Rizzo accepted the honor for him.

In 1999, forty-nine years after he played his final varsity game as a Tar Heel, Charlie Justice was honored as “athlete of the century at UNC,” by readers of The Daily Tar Heel.  Ten years later in 2009 he was declared the “Mount Rushmore of Tar Heel Football” by ESPN and was inducted in the inaugural class of the Southern Conference Hall of Fame.
Two days after Justice’s 70th birthday, on May 20, 1994, Ron Greene, Sr., writing in The Charlotte Observer, said, “None has worn the mantle of hero more gracefully. . . . His name remains magic.”

Thirty-seven seasons had come and gone since UNC freshman Justice led his Tar Heels over Navy 21 to 14 in Baltimore Stadium on October 19, 1946; however, when Navy came into Chapel Hill on September 15, 1984, the Midshipmen’s radio network had only one request of Carolina Sports Information Director Rick Brewer.  They wanted Charlie Justice as a halftime guest.

Hugh Morton and Ed Rankin, in their 1988 book Making a Difference in North Carolina, included the following quote from Legendary Tar Heel broadcaster Woody Durham:
“In all my associations in sports over the years, I have never known a person to wear the mantle of fame any better than Charlie Justice has. His story to me is one of the most amazing stories in all of sports when you think about the fact that it was 40 years ago when he achieved the stardom that he did, and today his name is still magic.”

Author Bob Terrell, in the 2002 edition of his Justice biography All Aboard: The fantastic story of Choo Choo Justice and the football team that put North Carolina in the big time! says, “Charlie Justice became a legend because of talent but also because of character and sportsmanship.”

In 1950, after his magical four years at Carolina, Charlie wanted to offer some kind of payback to his University, so he took a job with his friend and admirer Billy Carmichael at the North Carolina Medical Foundation.  At the time, the Foundation was raising money to complete North Carolina Memorial Hospital. (That would be accomplished the following year).  During his time at the foundation, Justice was pursued by George Preston Marshall of the Washington Redskins.  At one point Marshall offered to send Justice a signed, blank check.  “Fill in the amount,” he told Charlie.  But Justice turned down the offer, saying he owed his University.  Justice later joined the Redskins, but for a modest salary.

On the weekend before the 1979 football season kicked off, Tom Northington of the Greensboro Daily News interviewed Justice in his Greensboro office.  Justice talked about how the game had changed during the 30 years since he played his final season as a Tar Heel.

“Something is missing,” said Justice.  “Team spirit is not what it once was, there’s too much of this ‘I’ thing, too much individualism.”

When Charlie Justice scored a touchdown, there were no “look-at-me” celebrations . . . no throwing the ball into the stands . . . no dunks over the goal post—and in those days, spikes were things that fastened railroad ties.  I recall a 60-yard Justice touchdown in the 1950 College All-Star game before 88,885 fans at Soldiers’ Field in Chicago.  After he crossed the goal line, he handed the ball to the official, and then trotted back up the field to shake hands with guard Porter Payne from the University of Georgia who had thrown the block that made the play possible.

On October 18, 1986 Charlie and Sarah Justice, along with some family members and friends, were in Kenan Stadium for a sold-out NC State game. As the group walked around the stadium other friends joined in and by the time they got up to the gate, Charlie realized he was one ticket short. At that point Justice could have made one of those signs that reads “Need One,” but Charlie didn’t do that.  According to UNC General Alumni President, Doug Dibbert, Justice “could have walked into the stadium without tickets or placed a call to any number of people who would have provided him tickets, but Charlie would never want to impose upon anyone.”  So, Charlie Justice made sure that all in the group got seated in section 19B, row AAA, and he then returned to the Carolina Inn and watched the game on TV.

On September 28, 1996 the actual 50th anniversary of the beginning of the “Charlie Justice Era” at Carolina, A.J Carr of Raleigh’s News & Observer, wrote a three-page profile of Justice.  Said Carr: “He walked humbly on campus but ran historically on the football field, lifting the spirits of a school, a town, and an entire region.”

Carr interviewed then UNC Chancellor Michael Hooker who said: “There was a quality of magic about his name as I was growing up.”

In 1949, the Christian Athletes Federation honored Justice for his “humility in the face many honors.”

The 1973 football season marked the 25th anniversary of the magical Tar Heel season of 1948, a season that saw the Heels ranked number one in the country for the first and only time—an undefeated season with wins over Texas, LSU, Tennessee, and Georgia plus wins over NC State, Wake, Duke, Maryland and Virgina.  Justice and Art Weiner were consensus All America with Justice as first runner-up for the Heisman Memorial Trophy and named national player of the year, and a team invitation to the Sugar Bowl on January 1, 1949 in New Orleans.

To celebrate that 25th anniversary, Ed Hodges did a Justice feature in the Durham Morning Herald on July 22nd.  In the piece, Hodges said, “he (Justice) has in some magic way interwoven the past with the present.”

Woody Durham, then Sports Director at WFMY-TV in Greensboro, presented a two-part Justice documentary on September 16th and 23rd. That program not only aired on WFMY, but was also broadcast on WRAL-TV in Raleigh.

And Ron Fimrite, writing in the October 15, 1973 issue of Sports Illustrated, described the reaction to the famous 43-yard Justice TD run in the ’48 Duke game:

(As Justice crossed the goal), a fan, in the temporary end-zone seats was so excited by the amazing run that he fell forward onto the field.  The crowd was alive, roaring, slapping each other.  Coach Snavely, normally an impassive man, rushed from the bench to grab Charlie by both shoulders and shake him. ‘Great,’ he kept saying. ‘Great.’  Charlie could hear only the cheers—‘Choo Choo, Choo Choo.  He knew then that for him they would never really stop.  And . . . they have not stopped.  They never will.

One of those 1950 graduates who responded to the revised Yackety Yack survey question back in 2000, Walter Hobson Kirk, Jr. from Durham, said it best: “Charlie Choo Choo Justice – accepting fame with honor and humility.”

“Mighty Mites,” Morton, and millions of azaleas

The 67th Annual North Carolina Azalea Festival will be presented in Wilmington April, 9 – 13, 2014.  World class entertainment and millions of azaleas will combine to welcome spring to the Tar Heel state again.  Wilmington’s celebration of spring began in 1948 and each year celebrity guests have been an important part of the festivities. Morton collection volunteer/contributor Jack Hilliard takes a look at a special group of celebrities that came to the New Hanover County port city back in the 1950s.

1949 Queen of the North Carolina Azalea Festival, actress Martha Hyer, with her court.

1949 Queen of the North Carolina Azalea Festival, actress Martha Hyer, with her court.

A Prologue:

When the 1950 College All-Star football team reported to training camp at St. John’s Military Academy in Delafield, Wisconsin on Thursday, July 20, 1950, UNC’s great All America football star Charlie Justice met up with his old friend Doak Walker from Southern Methodist University (SMU) and new friend Eddie LeBaron from College of the Pacific (COP), which is now University of the Pacific.  Justice and Walker had become friends over the years when both were on most of the 1948 and 1949 All America teams and both had been pictured on the cover of Life.  Walker had been selected for the 1948 Heisman Trophy while Justice was first runner up.  And when UNC was in Dallas for the 1950 Cotton Bowl, Walker had helped the Tar Heels prepare for a game with Rice Institute (now Rice University).  Walker’s SMU team had played and lost to Rice, 41 to 27, on October 21st. Hugh Morton photographed Justice, Walker and UNC Head Coach Carl Snavely during one of the film screening sessions at the Melrose Hotel.  Also, Justice and Walker had gotten into the T-shirt business in early 1950 and Morton had done their publicity pictures.  Quarterback Eddie LeBaron had been selected All America in 1949 as well, and the three “country boys” hit it off.  All three loved watermelon and on the first day of camp they staked out a small country store which sold melons. “Put one on ice every afternoon,” Charlie told the store owner, “and we’ll come by and pick it up.” So every afternoon after practice the trio walked to the store, purchased their chilled melon, took it outside and sat on the curb enjoying the treat.

When game day arrived on August 11, 1950, the three “Mighty Mites,” as they were called (each was under six feet tall and weighed less than180 pounds) took the World Champion Philadelphia Eagles down by a score of 17 to 7. Hugh Morton didn’t attend the All-Star game, but he always included a wire photo from it in his slide shows.

❀ ❀ ❀ ❀ ❀ ❀ ❀

Back in Wilmington after the War, I left town for a week, and while I was gone the local folks elected me chairman of the first Azalea Festival in 1948. —Hugh Morton, 1996

The Dallas Morning News issue of Saturday, March 18, 1950 featured the storybook, Friday night wedding of Doak Walker and his college sweetheart Norma Peterson.  The story said the couple would leave for a wedding trip to Canada “early next week . . . and will take another trip to North Carolina soon after they return.”  That North Carolina trip would be to the 1950 Azalea Festival in Wilmington, held March 30th through April 2nd.

Hal Love, president of the Azalea Festival Committee; Mrs. Norma Walker; Doak Walker; former Wilmington mayor E. L. White; and Cherokee leader McKinley Ross (with "Unto These Hills" program in pocket) at Bluethenthal Airport, Wilmington N. C., 31 March 1950.

Hal Love, president of the Azalea Festival Committee; Mrs. Norma Walker; Doak Walker; former Wilmington mayor E. L. White; and Cherokee leader McKinley Ross (with “Unto These Hills” program in pocket) at Bluethenthal Airport, Wilmington N. C., 31 March 1950.

Hugh Morton photographed Doak and Norma soon after they arrived in Wilmington.  Hugh’s wife Julia said in A View Hugh comment back in 2009, “I do remember that Doak and Norma and Charlie and Sarah (Justice) stayed with Hugh and me.  The festival didn’t have as much available money back in those days, and they were our friends.”

Charlie and Sarah Justice had been part of the 1949 festival. Charlie had crowned Queen Azalea II who was movie star Martha Hyer and many remember how the photographers covering that event had insisted that Justice kiss the Queen and he very obligingly followed through on the request.  Morton’s photograph in The State for April 16, 1949 (page 5) showed Justice with lipstick on his face.  (The original negative for this shot is no longer extant, but there is a similar negative made moments apart.)

Walter Doak during the 1950 North Carolina Azalea Festival

Charlie Justice and Doak Walker during the 1950 North Carolina Azalea Festival parade.  This scan of Morton’s negative shows the entire scene, which is usually cropped in publications.

During the 1950 festival, Morton took several pictures of Doak and Charlie, and Norma and Sarah: a beautiful shot of both couples at Arlie Gardens, and a shot from the parade on Saturday, April 1st. The parade image was reproduced in the 1958 Bob Quincy–Julian Scheer book, Choo Choo; The Charlie Justice Story, on page 112.  The same picture was also included in the 2002 Bob Terrell book All Aboard, but with an incorrect caption.  That image is on page 182. And of course, The State magazine issue of April 15, 1950 (page 3) included a Morton picture of Justice and Walker at the crowing ceremony where Justice passed the crown to Walker who crowned Gregg Sherwood as Queen Azalea III.

When Charlie and Sarah arrived in Wilmington for the 1951 festival, Hugh Morton had put in place a new event. On Saturday afternoon, March 31st, there was a special golf match at the Cape Fear Country Club.  It was called “Who Crowns the Azalea Queen?” and it pitted broadcasters Harry Wismer and Ted Malone against football greats Charlie Justice and Otto Graham—nine holes—winners crown Queen Margaret Sheridan Queen Azalea IV. And the winners . . . Charlie Justice and Otto Graham.

The day following the 1950 All-Star game, Eddie LeBaron left for Camp Pendleton and Marine duty. He would spend nine months in Korea and would receive a letter of commendation for heroism, a Bronze Star and a purple heart. Lt. Eddie LeBaron was back home in time to accept Hugh Morton’s invitation to the 1952 Azalea Festival. Again, as in 1951, there was a “Who Crowns the Azalea Queen?” golf match. This time with ABC broadcaster Harry Wismer, writer Hal Boyle, bandleader Tony Pastor, and football greats Justice, LeBaron, and Otto Graham.  The football guys won and would be part of the crowning ceremony for Queen Azalea V, Cathy Downs. A tightly cropped version of Morton’s crowning shot is also in Chris Dixon’s 2001 book Ghost Wave (unnumbered center picture page).

Later, in November, 1952, Hugh Morton took in a Washington Redskins game and photographed Justice, LeBaron, and Graham at Old Griffith Stadium.

In March of 1953, Charlie and Sarah Justice made their fifth Festival appearance as Alexis Smith became Queen Azalea VI on Saturday, March 28th.

Eddie LeBaron would return to Wilmington for the ‘58 Festival, along with Andy Griffith who crowned Queen Azalea XI, Esther Williams on March 29, 1958. Morton photographed LeBaron with Andy and NC Governor Luther Hodges.

The “Mighty Mites” were special Azalea Festival guests and were special friends of Hugh Morton, who in 1997, at the 50th Festival was honored with a star on the Wilmington Riverfront Walk of Fame and was the Festival Grand Marshal.

An Epilogue:
Doak Walker’s marriage to Norma Peterson ended in divorce in 1965 and four years later he married Olympic skier Skeeter Werner.  They lived in Steamboat Springs, Colorado until his death as a result of paralyzing injuries suffered in a skiing accident. Walker’s death on September 27, 1998 came ironically 50 years to the day of his Life magazine cover issue.

Prior to the planning sessions for the Charlie Justice statue, which now stands outside the Kenan Football Center on the UNC campus, Hugh Morton visited the Doak Walker statue at SMU.  Morton decided, unlike the Walker statue, that Charlie would not wear his helmet so everyone could easily recognize him.

Charlie Justice passed away on October 17, 2003 following a long battle with Alzheimer’s.  Charlie’s wife Sarah died four months later.

Hugh Morton “slipped peacefully away from us all on June 1, 2006.”  Those words from Morton’s dear friend Bill Friday.

Eddie LeBaron played professional football with Charlie Justice for two seasons with the Washington Redskins.  After Charlie’s retirement, the two remained close friends.  LeBaron participated in a Multiple Sclerosis Celebrity Roast for Charlie in 1980, and both were Hugh Morton’s guests at the Highland Games in 1984. Justice and LeBaron were also celebrity guests at the Freedom Classic Celebrity Golf Tournament in Charlotte in 1989 and 1990.  LeBaron lives in Sacramento, California and continues to play golf in his retirement.  Due to his diminutive size, 5 feet, 7 inches, and his leadership skills from his military service, he is often called the “Littlest General.”

Home for the Holidays . . . 1947

UNC head football coach Larry Fedora will be taking his Tar Heels to the Belk Bowl in Charlotte on Saturday, December 28th. The 2013 team qualified for bowl eligibility on November 23rd with a resounding win over Old Dominion—their sixth win of the season. The following weekend, a loss to Duke, gave the Heels a 6 and 6 record for the season.

The 1947 Carolina team finished their season with an 8 and 2 record, but didn’t go to a bowl.  Morton collection volunteer and blog contributor Jack Hilliard looks back to that season with an explanation as to why the ’47 Tar Heels were home for the holidays.

1947 UNC football team members

1947 UNC football team members. Back Row L to R: #23 Jim Camp, #86 George Sparger, #40 Walt Pupa, #22 Charlie Justice. Front Row L to R: #29 Bob Cox, #51 Len Szafaryn, #60 Sid Varney, #58 Haywood Fowle, #65 Al Bernot, #42 Bob Mitten, #50 Art Weiner (who passed away on Wednesday, Christmas night).

Many old time-Tar Heel-fans, as well as coaches and players from 1947, have considered the ’47 team to be the best of the “Charlie Justice Era” and there is good reason for that: as head coach Carl Snavely’s prepared for their second season with Justice on his team, there were high hopes for another Southern Conference championship.  UNC’s Sports Information Director Jake Wade, writing in the 1947 issue of Street and Smith Football Pictorial Yearbook, said “King Carl Snavely will have back almost all of his legions of doughty lads that showed their heels to the pack last autumn.”

The ’47 season got underway on September 27th when head coach Wally Butts brought his Georgia Bulldogs to Chapel Hill for a rematch of the Sugar Bowl that had been played about nine months earlier, which Georgia won 20 to 10.  On this September afternoon, however, the Tar Heels came away with a 14-to-7 victory thanks to the passing of Walt Pupa and the catching of Bob Cox and Art Weiner.  The 1947 football season was off to a good start.
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.

On Friday morning, October 3rd, a bus carrying the Tar Heel team arrived at Raleigh-Durham Airport, ready to make its first trip by plane, a trip to Austin, Texas to meet the University of Texas Longhorns led by standout quarterback Bobby Layne.  The Douglas DC-4, a 50-passenger plane, cost the UNC Athletic Department $5,700 (almost $60,000 in today’s dollars).

Saturday, October 4th was a hot day in Texas—86 degrees to be exact—and the Tar Heels were dressed in those dark Navy shirts.

L to R: UNC Tar Heels football player Walt Pupa, UNC head football coach Carl Snavely, and UNC player Charlie "Choo Choo" Justice, most likely photographed in 1947 during the preseason in Kenan Memorial Stadium, Chapel Hill, NC.

L to R: UNC Tar Heels football player Walt Pupa, UNC head football coach Carl Snavely, and UNC player Charlie “Choo Choo” Justice, most likely photographed in 1947 during the preseason in Kenan Memorial Stadium, Chapel Hill, NC.

The only thing hotter than the Texas sun was the Texas team.  Layne was as good as advertised as he led the Longhorns to a 34 to 0 win before 45,000 fans.  It was the worst Tar Heel defeat since a loss to Pennsylvania 49 to 0 in 1945.  In a 1992 interview, UNC All America End Art Weiner said, “I got so tired of hearing their band play “The Eyes of Texas are upon You.”  (An interesting side note: One of Texas’ 2nd quarter touchdowns was scored by Tom Landry.  He would become a hall of fame coach for the Dallas Cowboys).  Some 2,000 Tar Heel fans, along with the band and cheerleaders, met the team at Woollen Gym on Sunday night at 7:40 as they returned home from Texas. The theme was upbeat and everyone looked forward to the Wake Forest game coming up in six days.

Wake came into Chapel Hill primed and ready, and took up where Texas left off the weekend before.  When the dust settled, Wake had beaten Carolina 19 to 7.  The only Tar Heel bright spot was Justice’s punting average: 51.5 yards per kick.

When the 1946 season ended, Carolina was ranked number 9; when “Peahead” Walker took his Demon Deacons out of Chapel Hill on October 11th, 1947, the Tar Heels had dropped out of the top 20 and two tough road games were just ahead.

Following October 11, 1947 UNC–Wake Forest football game in Kenan Stadium, UNC

Following October 11, 1947 UNC–Wake Forest football game in Kenan Stadium, UNC Head Football Coach Carl Snavely (in hat, right foreground) prepares to congratulate Wake Forest Head Coach Douglas “Peahead” Walker being carried by his players after Wake Forrest’s victory over Carolina 19 to 7. This was the first time a Charlie Justice era (1946-1949) UNC team had lost in Kenan Stadium. Wake Forest players pictured left to right are: #15 Ed Haddox, Right Halfback; #22 Nick Ognovich, Quarterback; #2? (?); #44 Harry Dowda, Right Halfback; #55 Bernie Hannular, Right Tackle; #42 Bud Gregus, Left Halfback.

The largest crowd in William and Mary football history to date packed Cary Field on October 18th for the game between the Indians (now they are called “The Tribe”) and the Tar Heels.  The 20,000 fans were treated to a close game that was tied 7 to 7 after three quarters.  Walt Pupa’s 1-yarder in the 4th quarter gave Carolina the win 13 to 7.

Next it was a train ride to Gainesville and a homecoming appointment with the University of Florida.  On October 25th, Hosea Rodgers was brilliant, throwing three touchdown passes and running a 76-yard dash.  Overall Rodgers amassed 245 yards and Carolina came away with a 35 to 7 rout.  The Tar Heels were back on track, and Tennessee was coming over the mountains to Chapel Hill in a week.

The game with Tennessee on November 1, 1947 put Charlie Justice back in the spotlight. “Choo Choo” was involved in all three of Carolina’s touchdowns as the Tar Heels beat the Volunteers 20 to 6.  The game also provided photographer Hugh Morton the opportunity to take one of his most-famous and most-reproduced pictures. Morton even entered the picture in a photo contest. The win put Carolina back in the top 20 at number 18.

Charlie Justice running football versus Tennessee, 1947

#22 UNC tailback Charlie Justice (with ball), #58 UNC tackle Haywood Fowle, #68 UNC blocking back Joe Wright (on the ground), #56 Tennessee tackle Charlie Wildman, and #14 Tennessee Guard Ray Drost at UNC Chapel Hill’s Kenan Stadium.

UNC didn’t play NC State in 1944, ’45, or ’46—and neither team was happy about that.  In a 1992 interview, Charlie Justice recalled that there was a rumor going around in late 1946 that the legislature was going to pass a law that the two had to meet each season.  I don’t know how true that rumor was, but the series was back on for 1947, a game originally scheduled to be played in Raleigh’s Riddick Stadium; at State’s request, however, the schools agreed to move the game to Kenan Stadium because it had more seats.  On November 8th, 40,000 fans packed Kenan for UNC’s homecoming.  Carolina’s famous ground game from 1946 returned and the Tar Heels gained 376 rushing yards in a 41 to 6 blowout.  The final two road games of the ’47 season were just ahead.

Fog, rain, snow, and mud greeted the Tar Heels for the 1947 Maryland game played in Washington’s Griffith Stadium on November 15th.  By game time the field was described as a quagmire.  The weather was so bad that Coach Carl Snavely kept his players in the locker room just as long as he could.  Snavely’s concern for his players gave photographer Hugh Morton another opportunity to take yet another classic image.  The picture of Walt Pupa and Charlie Justice in the locker room before the game has been reproduced dozens of times over the years.  Ironically it would be Pupa and Justice that would lead the Tar Heels to a 19 to 0 victory before 22,251 rain-soaked fans.  Maryland Head Coach Jim Tatum’s high-scoring Terrapins were not so high-scoring on this day.  There was no “fear of the turtle.”  The Tar Heels were on a five game roll, ranked 13th, and were headed for a showdown in Durham.

UNC fullback Walt Pupa (L) and UNC Tailback Charlie Justice in the locker room at Griffith Stadium, Washington DC.

UNC fullback Walt Pupa (L) and UNC Tailback Charlie Justice in the locker room at Griffith Stadium, Washington DC prior to the 1947 game versus the University of Maryland.

On November 22nd, 56,500 fans packed a wet Duke Stadium (now it’s Wallace Wade Stadium) for the 34th Carolina–Duke game. The rain stopped just before 2 PM and the opening kickoff. After a scoreless first quarter, it was “The Charlie Justice Show” as he scored two touchdowns and passed for a third to make the final score 21 to 0.

Following the Tar Heel win, there was talk in the air about a bowl game and the most logical choice would be the Orange Bowl in Miami for a game against Georgia Tech.  Carolina students paraded around the stadium carrying a life size display with the words “Snavely Goes Bowling.”  But on Friday evening, November 28th, the Orange Bowl committee announced its choice and the Jackets’ opponent would the University of Kansas on New Year’s Day. But what about Carolina? They were now up to number 10 in the rankings and Kansas was 13. When confronted, the committee said they wanted “a high-powered offensive team.”  The next day, November 29th, Carolina met Virginia in the season finale. CBS play-by-play announcer Red Barber, who is also the official announcer for the Orange Bowl, was in Chapel Hill for the UVA game and had planned to interview the team about an Orange Bowl invitation.  A surprised Barber said, “I have no idea what took place in their meeting in Miami.”  40,000 thousand fans jammed into Kenan Stadium and saw Charlie Justice have another field day, gaining a total of 279 yards in a 40 to 7 win.  Talk about your high-powered offense!  [Editor’s note: And the score of the 1948 Orange Bowl? Georgia Tech 20, Kansas 14.  Kansas has 235 total yards offense, to Georgia Tech’s 204.]

Following the Virginia win, Carolina got several minor bowl invitations, including one from the Legion Bowl that was to be played in Los Angeles, but the University turned down the invitations. In a statement on November 30th, Chairman A.W. Hobbs of the University faculty athletic committee said the team had gone through a long, hard season and the committee thought it best to reject the Los Angeles offer as well as several minor bowl bids.  The trip would have meant final exams for the team members would have to be set ahead.  Here is part of Chairman Hobbs’ statement:

“The University appreciates the many invitations but feels compelled to decline them due to the fact the team has just completed a difficult schedule . . . and we feel it would not be in the best interest of the football squad to prolong the season.”

Charlie Justice in a 1984 interview said the team voted to reject the bids as well, adding that several of the players were World War II vets and they hadn’t been able to be home for Christmas since 1941.

When the final rankings came out for the 1947 season UNC came in at ninth, receiving seven first place votes.  They closed out the season with a seven-game winning streak . . . and were home for the holidays.

A thread of royal blue . . . a final visit to a special place

Prologue:
Duke University play-by-play broadcaster Bob Harris called Charlie Justice “the greatest player to ever wear the Carolina colors.”  During the “Charlie Justice Era” those colors were navy blue in 1946 and ’47 and Carolina Blue after that, but there was always a thread of royal blue that ran through Charlie’s life and career.

“Justice Always At Best Against Duke”
Greensboro Record headline, Thursday, November 17, 1949

Introduction:
Carolina will play Duke on the gridiron for the 100th time today, November 30, 2013.  Over the years, that match-up played a part in the life and times of Tar Heel legend Charlie Justice.  It was twelve seasons ago, during Carolina–Duke weekend, that Justice made what turned out to be his final visit to Kenan Stadium.  The events of that weekend are the stuff of legends.  In keeping with this holiday weekend’s theme of UNC football rivalries, Morton volunteer/contributor Jack Hilliard takes a look back at the thread and the final visit.

Note: to see a plethora of UNC versus Duke football photographs by Hugh Morton, you may search bothUNC vs. Duke football” and “UNC v. Duke football” (until I get a chance to change the title for all photographs to the former!) in the online collection of Morton photographs.

Action during the UNC-Chapel Hill vs. Duke University football game at Duke's Wallace Wade Stadium, Durham, N.C, November 24, 1973. UNC players: #61 Offensive Guard Billy Newton and #40 Halfback Jimmy Jerome. Duke players: #62 Linebacker Dave Meier, #24 Defensive Safety Buster Cox, #76 Defense Tackle John Ricca, and #45 Linebacker Keith Stoneback.

Action during the UNC-Chapel Hill vs. Duke University football game at Duke’s Wallace Wade Stadium, Durham, N.C, November 24, 1973. UNC players: #61 Offensive Guard Billy Newton and #40 Halfback Jimmy Jerome. Duke players: #62 Linebacker Dave Meier, #24 Defensive Safety Buster Cox, #76 Defense Tackle John Ricca, and #45 Linebacker Keith Stoneback.

It was not surprising that Charlie Justice made his final visit to Kenan Stadium during a Carolina–Duke football game.  The Justice–Duke connection runs through his life going back to his high school days at Lee Edwards High in Asheville.  When Justice and his Lee Edwards High teammates finished the 1942 football season, they had a 26 and 6 won-lost record and had scored 939 points while their opponents had scored only 159 during their three seasons together.  The folks at Duke University invited the entire team to visit the campus and attend a football game.  Duke Head Coach Eddie Cameron seemed interested in the entire team, but knew each young man was also being recruited by that “other big four”—Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force.  Justice liked what he saw at Duke, but knew it would be at least three years before he would be available to think about college.

In the spring of 1943, Justice enlisted in the Navy, which sent him to Bainbridge Naval Training Center in Bainbridge, Maryland.  On August 7, 1943, the base newspaper, The Mainsheet listed on the front page an “urgent call” for football players.  Bainbridge was planning for its first football team.  Justice reported, but wasn’t given a second look because he had only high school experience while most of the other players had college and professional backgrounds.  It didn’t take long, however, for him to be noticed in a big way.  Bainbridge head coach Joe Maniaci called him “the greatest natural football player I’ve ever seen.”  Justice led the Commodores to undefeated seasons in 1943 and 1944.  In an interview in The Baltimore Sun on October 18, 1944, Justice indicated his future plans by saying, “it’s Duke for me.”  Needless to say, Coach Cameron was delighted.

Following the 1944 season, Justice was transferred to Pearl Harbor and played the 1945 season with the Pacific Fleet All-Stars.  It was there where he became good friends with teammate George McAfee, who had played at Duke from 1937 to 1939.

After the ’45 season, Justice called his wife Sarah and told her he would be coming home in early January.  “Please, please don’t tell anyone I’m coming.  I want this vacation to be ours.  It’s real flattering, but these college scouts are on me everywhere I turn,” said Justice.  The train ride from San Francisco to Asheville was long and tedious, but finally he was home.  As he exited the Pullman, there stood a fellow with a wide smile and thinning red hair.  It was Charlie’s old Asheville friend Dan Hill, who was now the assistant athletic director at Duke. “Dan Hill, what the blazes are you doing here?” asked Justice.

“Why, you know what I’m here for,” said Hill.  “We want you to attend Duke, Charlie.  We’d like you to play a little football for us, too.”

Charlie begged off an immediate commitment, located Sarah, and headed home.

Justice still had an interest in Duke, and later set up a visit to the Duke campus.  Wallace Wade had since returned to Duke and was to be the new head coach.  During a conversation with Coach Wade, Justice said, “Coach, I played over at Pearl Harbor with one of your boys who was one of the greatest players I’ve ever seen.”

“Who was that?” Wade asked.

“George McAfee,” said Justice.

“George McAfee wasn’t a football player.  Steve Lach was my kind of football player,” snapped the coach.  Lach had also been a star at Duke and was on the team at Pearl Harbor, but didn’t get much playing time.

When the conversation with Coach Wade ended, Charlie and Sarah left.  As they were walking to the car, Sarah smiled and said, “I know one thing.  We’re not coming to Duke, are we?”  She knew how Charlie admired George McAfee.

Charlie looked her in the eye.  “That’s the truth.  We’re not coming to Duke.”

In an interview in the November, 1949 issue of Sport, Charlie’s mom said, “Duke made the best offer.  Wallace Wade and Dan Hill said they would not make a flat offer, but would do anything anyone else would.  But Charlie didn’t want to play for Coach Wade.”

Author Lewis Bowling, in his excellent 2006 book, Wallace Wade: Championship Years at Alabama and Duke, wrote:

It is known that Duke had A-1 priority while Charlie was romping to high school touchdowns. The Navy engulfed him, however, and when he emerged was perhaps the most sought-after service athlete in the country.  Married and discharged, Justice went to see Dan Hill first.  He told Dan what he wanted.  Dan told Duke, and Duke told Charlie, ‘You-funny-boy-you.’

During an interview in July of 1984, I asked Charlie what he asked of Duke.  He said, “I asked the same question at Duke that I asked at Chapel Hill.  Since I was eligible for the GI Bill, I asked if my football scholarship could be transferred to my wife.  Duke said no, but Robert Fetzer, the athletic director at UNC said he would check with the NCAA and the Southern Conference to make sure it would be OK.”  Turns out it was, and the Justices enrolled at UNC on February 14, 1946.

Charlotte Observer sports editor Wilton Garrison, writing in the October 1947 issue of Sport, described Charlie’s first encounter with Duke on the gridiron:

Sarah Justice loves football. She sat in Kenan Stadium the afternoon of November 23, 1946, and celebrated her third wedding anniversary by watching the whole Duke Foundation fall upon her husband.  But when they removed the rubble from her darling he was still in one piece, able to ride piggy-back on his fellow teammates as they walked off the field with a 22 to 7 victory.

Charlie "Choo Choo" Justice (#22) being carried by his teammates, UNC-Chapel Hill versus Duke University football game, at Kenan Memorial Stadium, Chapel Hill, N.C., November 23, 1946.

Charlie “Choo Choo” Justice (#22) being carried by his teammates, UNC-Chapel Hill versus Duke University football game, at Kenan Memorial Stadium, Chapel Hill, N.C., November 23, 1946.

Said Coach Carl Snavely following the ‘46 game, “I don’t think that Charlie Justice has played a better game all year than he did today.”  One of Charlie’s teammates that day was end Ed Bilpuch who would later become a Professor of Nuclear Physics at Duke.

The following year in Durham, Justice was involved in all three of Carolina’s touchdowns as the Tar Heels won, 21-0.  The Alumni Review headline read: “Duke Outclassed, Outplayed, Outscored.”

Charlie’s 43-yard touchdown run in the 1948 UNC – Duke game is one of the most talked-about plays in Tar Heel history.  The play broke open a game that was tied and opened the flood gates for a 20 to 0 win.

A few days before the ’49 UNC vs. Duke game, Justice received the first pressing of the recording “All The Way Choo Choo,” from band leader Johnny Long, a Duke graduate, class of 1935. That 1949 Carolina–Duke game has often been called the greatest game in North Carolina sports history.  57,500 fans in Duke Stadium (now Wallace Wade Stadium) saw Carolina win a thriller 21 to 20. Duke was led by Billy Cox and Carolina was led by Charlie Justice.  Cox and Justice would reunite with the Washington Redskins in 1952.

Following each of Carolina’s four wins during the “Justice Era,” Duke Head Coach Wallace Wade would was always quick to praise the Tar Heel team, but didn’t mentioned Justice or any Tar Heel by name.  This quote is from November 23, 1946 is typical:  “It is obvious that they completely outplayed us.  I would like to pay great praise for a great team.”  Nine days after the ’49 Duke – UNC game, on Tuesday, December 2nd, Coach Wade and Justice were both guests at the Sanford (N.C.) Quarterback Club dinner and Wade broke his silence about Charlie Justice.  Said Wade:  “No man during my career as a coach has had the degree of success against my teams throughout his career that Charlie Justice has had.”

When Carolina met Duke for the 50th time on November 21, 1964, Hugh Morton brought his young daughter, Catherine, to the game with him.  Hugh and Catherine were guests in the chancellor’s box, next to the UNC press box at Kenan Stadium.  Hugh didn’t remain in the chancellor’s box very long.  He took his familiar place on the Carolina sideline with camera in hand.  As the game got underway, young Catherine looked around and noticed that most of the guests were socializing and not really paying attention to the game as she was.  However, there was one other gentleman watching the game and he came over and asked Catherine if she understood what was going on down on the field.  When she said “no,” he offered to explain the game and remained with her until her father returned.  So Catherine Morton these days says that she learned about “first downs and fourth downs” from “the nice gentleman” in the chancellor’s box that day: Charlie Justice.  He most likely used his parenting skills that afternoon.  (Both of Charlie’s children—Ronnie in 1948 and Barbara in 1952—were born at Duke Hospital).

The Justice-Duke connection continued when the Tar Heels met the Blue Devils in 1978.  Justice listened to the game on the radio at his home.  He was recovering from a heart attack.  On October 22, 1978, Justice was in Rockingham, N.C. where he was to be the Grand Marshall of the American 500 NASCAR race.  But in the early morning hours he suffered his second heart attack.  At 10 am on November 14, 1978, he had open heart surgery at Duke University Medical Center, of all places.  He would later say, “that’s probably the best place for me to have serious surgery . . . you don’t think they would let me die on their watch do you?”  He fought and won his biggest battle, and on Thursday, November 23rd, Justice was able to go home to Greensboro and celebrate his 35th wedding anniversary.

Two days later, Carolina met Duke for the 65th time.  With four minutes to go, and trailing 15 to 2, Carolina Head Coach Dick Crum called a time out and called his team around him. “We’ve got to win this one, remember, for Charlie Justice.” Crum had told his team following the Virginia game that if they won against Duke, they would sign and give the game ball to Charlie.  In the final four minutes, the Tar Heels scored twice and “Famous Amos” Lawrence crossed the goal line with 11 seconds on the clock.  The ball that Lawrence carried was put into safe keeping and Coach Crum delivered it to Charlie on Thursday, March 29, 1979 at the Greensboro Kiwanis Club meeting.  Said Justice, with a smile “…this is the first game football I ever received at Carolina. My four years we only had two footballs, and coach checked them closely after every game.”

The 1993 UNC – Duke game was played at 11 o’clock on a Friday morning, thanks to ABC-TV.  Although their anniversary was November 23rd, Charlie and Sarah celebrated their 50th anniversary at the game on November 26th.  Following the game, a reception was held at the Carolina Inn with photographer Hugh Morton documenting every minute.

Woody Durham, John Swofford, Charlie Justice, and Dick Baddour at unknown event held at the UNC-Chapel Hill Alumni Center.

Woody Durham, John Swofford, Charlie Justice, and Dick Baddour at unknown event held at the UNC-Chapel Hill Alumni Center, circa late 1990s to early 2000s.

When Carolina met Duke for the 2001 game, the “Charlie Justice Era” players held one of their reunions.  On Friday evening November 16, 2001, the “Golden Age” players gathered at the Kenan Football Center for a special ceremony.  On that evening, the first-floor memorabilia room was dedicated and will be forever known as the “Charlie Justice Hall of Honor.”  Among those involved were Head Football Coach John Bunting, UNC Chancellor James Moeser, Carolina Athletics Director Dick Baddour, world class photographer Hugh Morton, UNC letter winner Bob Cox (who helped organize the reunion), along with former players, Justice family members, friends and fans. “The Voice of the Tar Heels,” Woody Durham presided over the ceremony.  Later that evening he would broadcast his 1000 basketball game on the Tar Heel Sports Network.  Justice was there to officially cut the ribbon.  “I tell the current players all the time that the foundation of this football program was laid in the 1940s when you guys came here and did what you did,” said Baddour.  “We’re standing in the ‘Charlie Justice Hall of Honor.’  It doesn’t get any better than that.”  The dedication ceremony was followed by a dinner in the Pope VIP Box at Kenan Stadium.

During halftime of the game on Saturday, Woody Durham came down from his broadcast position to emcee a special ceremony at the 50-yard line.  Leaders of the four “Justice Era” teams were driven to midfield in special golf carts.  Ralph Strayhorn, Co-Captain in 1946, Joe Wright, Co-Captain in 1947, Art Weiner, All-America in 1948, and Justice, All-America and Captain in 1949.  The team members presented Baddour with a check in the amount of one million, three hundred thousand dollars for the “Justice Era Endowment Fund.”  The players were then introduced to a standing-ovation from the Kenan crowd.  In introducing Justice, Durham simply said, “He was the best.”  Charlie then stepped forward and raised his right hand, which was half-closed due his crippling arthritis.

Following the ceremony, Durham returned to his position high above Kenan Stadium and as he looked back on the events of the weekend, he said to his broadcast partner Mick Mixon, “I hope that was not Charlie’s final visit to Kenan Stadium.”  During the second half, Coach Bunting was seen several times glancing up at the patio outside his office in the Football Center.  That’s where the Justice family was sitting in the warm November sun.

Following the game, Marla and I hurried from our seats in section 220 down to the Football Center, hoping to get a word with Charlie and Sarah before they left.  When we arrived, as one might guess, Justice was signing autographs in the lobby.  The entire Justice family then came out to the front as team mate Joe Neikirk brought the Justice car up to the door.   I remember standing there beside Charlie as he started to enter the car, but then stopped, looked up at the magnificent Kenan Football Center and said, “they didn’t have anything like this when we were here.”  He then got in the car and Neikirk drove away.
Hugh Morton, in a post game interview said: “You could start a real argument around here about who is the most exciting basketball player in school history, but if you asked anyone who is the most exciting football player in school history, the answer would be ‘Charles Choo-Choo Justice’—hands down, no questions.”

Sadly, Woody’s worst nightmare came true . . . for Charlie, it was his final visit to a special place.

Epilogue:
On October 18, 2003, Duke was preparing to play Wake Forest in Wade Stadium in Durham, when long-time “Voice of the Blue Devils” Bob Harris took time during his broadcast to say:

I know it’s homecoming in Chapel Hill, but there’s a gray cloud hanging over the football program because of the death of the greatest player to ever wear the Carolina colors.  Charlie Choo Choo Justice has passed away in his hometown of Cherryville.  He will be missed by not only the Carolina folks, but all of us who knew him.

Missed indeed.  Beautiful autumn Saturdays in Kenan Stadium would never be the same.

Yes, Tar Heels . . . there is a Virginia

On Saturday, November 9, 2013, UNC celebrated homecoming when the Tar Heels hosted the University of Virginia.  In the early years of their rivalry, UNC and UVA played on or near Thanksgiving Day.  This years’ game marked the 118th meeting between the two schools going back to 1892—when they meet, the unusual can happen and often does.  Morton Collection volunteer/contributor Jack Hilliard takes a look at a few highlights from 118 games played so far.  After some fact checking, I threw in a little extra about the early years.

Fans cheering at UNC-Chapel Hill football game versus University of Virginia at Kenan Memorial Stadium, Chapel Hill, N.C., November 19, 1955.

Fans cheering at UNC-Chapel Hill football game versus University of Virginia at Kenan Memorial Stadium, Chapel Hill, N.C., November 19, 1955.

It is called the “South’s Oldest Rivalry” and it began with two games in 1892—the first played in Charlottesville on October 22, that Virginia won by the score of 30 to 18, the second played a month later in Atlanta on November 26 won by the Tar Heels 26 to 0.  The following year, on November 30, 1893, the two teams began a series of Thanksgiving Day games that continued until 1939, with a few exceptions.

Scene from the University of North Carolina versus University of Virginia football game, 30 November 1905 at Norfolk, Virginia.  Photograph by Cole & Holladay, Durham.  North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Image Collection (P0004).

Scene from the University of North Carolina versus University of Virginia football game, 30 November 1905 at Norfolk, Virginia. Photograph by Cole & Holladay, Durham. North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Image Collection (P0004).

After the 1892 game at Atlanta, Carolina was able to win only three times in the next twenty—including a 17-0 victory at Richmond in 1905.  The Tar Heel’s low point came in 1912 when the Cavaliers won 66 to 0 on a snowy day.  Virginia dominated the series prior to World War I, boasting a 17-5-1 record.

The teams did not play against each other in 1899, 1906, and 1909.  For 1899, according to the News and Observer, “bad feelings engendered” in the previous year’s game caused “all athletic relations between the two institutions” to be severed shortly after the game.  Virginia accused UNC of having professionals on its team, which UNC denied.  In 1906 there was a dispute between the schools about which rules to follow with the introduction of new college football rules that year—making the above 1905 UNC/UVA photograph all the more historically important as it was their last to be played before the forward pass.

All of the contests between 1893 and 1916 took place in Richmond, except for 1900, which Norfolk hosted.  Because of the lopsidedness of the series during the pre-WWI era, the Tar Heels 7-to-0 win at Richmond in 1916 and their 6-0 victory in the first game played at Chapel Hill in 1919 (when the series resumed after the war) have often been added to many “greatest wins lists.”  Going into the 1916 game, Carolina had lost eight games in a row with Virginia and, according to author Ken Rappoport, winning had become an “impassioned vendetta.”  On November 30, 1916 before 15,000 fans in rainy Richmond, Tar Heel Bill Folger ran 52 yards through right tackle for the game’s only touchdown.  George Tandy kicked the extra point to cap a Tar Heel win for the ages.

There were two exceptions to the Virginia/North Carolina Thanksgiving game day: 1900 when UNC and Georgetown fought to a  0-0 tie for the “Southern championship,” and 1901 when UNC played at Clemson.  The Cavaliers and Tar Heels games for those years occurred five days prior to the holiday.

Following the 1916 win, celebrations broke out in Richmond and in Chapel Hill.  Raby Tennent, a member of the ’16 Tar Heels, remembered being carried on the shoulders of Tar Heel fans around the field in Richmond, and when the team returned to Chapel Hill, fans met them at the bottom of South Hill and carried them to Emerson Field where a huge bonfire was ignited. That 1916 win has become the stuff of legends.  Author Thomas Wolfe even included the game in his book The Web and the Rock.  In Wolfe’s fictionalized account, UNC became Pine Rock and Virginia became Madison.  Raby Tennent became Raby Bennett.

Three seasons would pass before the two teams met again.  On Thanksgiving Day, November 27, 1919, the two schools played on Emerson Field—the first time the teams played in Chapel Hill.  Carolina beat Virginia 6 to 0 before 2,400 cheering Tar Heel fans.  Three more UNC–UVA games on Emerson Field, in 1921, 1923, and 1925, proved that Carolina needed a bigger facility.  Hundreds of fans had to be turned away.

When Virginia came to Chapel Hill for their contest on November 24, 1927 “it was a whole new ball game.”  On Thanksgiving Day,  Carolina met Virginia at brand new Kenan Memorial Stadium.  During a pre-game ceremony, John Sprunt Hill presented the facility on behalf of the donor William Rand Kenan, Jr., while Governor Angus W. McLean accepted on behalf of the State of North Carolina.  Following the ceremony, to the delight of 30,000 cheering fans and Virginia Governor Harry F. Byrd, they played the game.  The headline on the front page of the following day’s Greensboro Daily News read, “Carolina Wins A Close Tilt From Virginia 14-13: New Stadium Dedicated.”

Carolina’s victory had come on the toe of placekicker Garrett Morehead.
When the two teams returned to Charlottesville on Thanksgiving Day, November 29, 1928, President Calvin Coolidge and his wife Grace, along with Mrs. Woodrow Wilson were at Lambeth Field for a 24 to 20 Tar Heel victory.  The Carolina win streak would continue until November 24, 1932 when Virginia beat the Tar Heels for the first time in new Scott Stadium.

A new Carolina win streak started in 1933 and continued until Thanksgiving Day, November 20, 1941… which was actually the third Thursday in November. (Six days later, President Franklin D. Roosevelt would declare the fourth Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day and seventeen days later, a Pearl Harbor event would change the world forever).  But on this day, Carolina and Virginia would meet for the 43rd time and 24,000 fans turned out.

University of Virginia's Bill Dudley (#35) touchdown run during the UNC-UVA football game at Kenan Stadium, November 20, 1941.

University of Virginia’s Bill Dudley (#35) touchdown run during the UNC-UVA football game at Kenan Stadium, November 20, 1941.

Many came to see Virginia’s 19-year-old sensation Captain “Bullet” Bill Dudley.
The stage was set for photographer Hugh Morton to take one of his most famous, and one of his most-often reproduced photographs.  With three minutes remaining in the third quarter, and leading by a score of 14 to 7, Virginia had the ball on its own 21 yard-line . . . third down and eleven yards to go for a first down.  Bill Dudley drops back in punt formation . . . but he doesn’t kick, instead he runs the ball around right end, picking up blockers along the way, as Morton frames and shoots.  The run covers 79 yards and makes the score 21 to 7.

University of Virginia All America football star "Bullet" Bill Dudley, holding signed print of a well-known Hugh Morton picture from the November 20, 1941, UNC-UVA football game.

University of Virginia All America football star “Bullet” Bill Dudley, holding signed print of a well-known Hugh Morton picture from the November 20, 1941, UNC-UVA football game.

Novelist and journalist Burke Davis’ title for the picture, “I’m Coming, Virginia,” was also the title of a popular swing tune from the era.  The final score that day was Virginia 28, Carolina 7.  Of Virginia’s 28 points Bill Dudley scored 22. His pass to Bill Preston accounted for the other six.  He gained 215 yards on the ground and completed six passes for 117 yards.  John Derr, Sports Editor of the Greensboro Daily News started his account of the game with the line:  “What’s a six-letter word meaning football powerhouse?  The answer: D-U-D-L-E-Y”  In a 1973 interview, UNC football great Charlie Justice said Bill Dudley was the greatest runner he had ever seen.

UNC's Bob Mitten (#42 with ball); #45 Virginia quarterback Edward Mifflin; and #40 Virginia left halfback Henry Woodward, December 1, 1945 at UNC-Chapel Hill's Kenan Stadium.

UNC’s Bob Mitten (#42 with ball); #45 Virginia quarterback Edward Mifflin; and #40 Virginia left halfback Henry Woodward, December 1, 1945 at UNC-Chapel Hill’s Kenan Stadium.

Starting in 1942 and continuing through 1949, Carolina would beat Virginia seven times, losing only in 1944.  The years 1946 to 1949 are known as the “Justice Era” and rightly so.  No time in Carolina football history has even come close to what was accomplished during those years.  Justice led the Tar Heels to four historic wins over Virginia during the era. In so doing he gained 727 yards on the ground and threw 11 touchdown passes.  The Greensboro Daily News headlines tell the story:

  • 1946:  Justice Tops 49-14 Attack
  • 1947:  Choo Choo Scores Twice As Tar Heels Win Easily
  • 1948:  Justice Runs Wild in Final Contest

UNC-Chapel Hill tailback Charlie Justice (#22) running with ball at a UNC vs Virginia football game held in in Kenan Stadium on November 29, 1947. Also in the scene are #48 UNC Blocking Back Don Hartig, #60 Virginia Right End Robert Weir, #23 UNC Wingback Jim Camp, and #60 UNC Right Guard Sid Varney.

UNC-Chapel Hill tailback Charlie Justice (#22) running with ball at a UNC vs Virginia football game played at Kenan Stadium on November 29, 1947.  Also in the scene are #48 UNC Blocking Back Don Hartig, #60 Virginia Right End Robert Weir, #23 UNC Wingback Jim Camp, and #60 UNC Right Guard Sid Varney.

Charlie Justice played his final varsity game in Kenan Stadium in perfect football weather on November 26, 1949—a game against Virginia in front of 48,000 fans.  His 14-yard touchdown run in the second quarter was the winning margin in the 14 to 7 final score.  Carolina would get an invitation to play Rice in the 1950 Cotton Bowl.  The headline in the November 30th  “Alumni Review” read: “Justice, Weiner Spark Tar Heel Win, 14-7.”

A three-game Tar Heel letdown followed the “Justice Era,” but wins in ’53 through ’56 got the team back on track.  The game in 1955 was unique in that only 9,000 fans showed up in a cold, dreary Kenan Stadium.  One of the 9,000 was photographer Hugh Morton.

If the 1956 Carolina – Virginia game had been a Broadway play, the following pre-kickoff announcement would have been in order: “At this afternoon’s performance, the part of Charlie Justice will be played by Ed Sutton.”

He was that good, that day.  16,000 fans in windy Scott Stadium saw Sutton lead the Tar Heels to three scores in the third period to secure a 21 to 7 win.  During that crucial period, Sutton carried the ball four times for 94 of his 136 yards on the ground. He caught three passes for 40 yards giving him a primary hand in advancing the ball 134 of the 201 yards traveled for the Tar Heels’ three scores.

When Carolina returned to Scott Stadium on November 10, 1962, they were again in a five game winning streak against the Cavaliers.  On that day, Tar Heel sophomore Ken Willard was featured in an 11 to 7 win. An event took place prior to the kickoff that day the likes of which had never taken place and hasn’t taken place since.  Charlie Justice was introduced to the crowd and presented an award naming him “Virginia’s All Time Opponent.”  The plaque presented to Justice reads in part:

The University of Virginia presents to Charles Justice, UNC ’50, on the occasion of the 67th renewal, 1962, of the University of Virginia vs. the University of North Carolina football game, the oldest continuous series in the South, for the greatest single performance by a UNC player in this series.  In 1948 at Scott Stadium you finished the greatest season of your college career in the following manner: Rushing – 167 yards on 15 carries; Passing – 87 yards on 4 completions of 6 attempts; Punting – 5 times for 40.1 average; Touchdowns – 2 on runs of 80 and 50 yards; TD Passes – 2 on passes of 40 and 31 yards. Score – UNC 34 – UVA 12.  In four UVA-UNC games you gained 727 yards and scored on passes for 11 touchdowns. The University of Virginia salutes the Carolina Choo Choo, our all-time opponent.

From 1974 until 1982 Carolina dominated the series, but following the win in Scott Stadium in 1981, the Tar Heels would suffer a drought at that storied facility until 2010.  The loss there in 1996 was devastating.

There was Orange Bowl talk in the air as Head Coach Mack Brown’s sixth ranked Tar Heels rolled into Charlottesville for a game on November 16, 1996. The 9 and 1 Heels took charge of the game from the beginning, as a packed Scott Stadium Virginia crowd and a few hundred or so Tar Heels looked on.  As the fourth quarter was ticking away and leading 17 to 3, Carolina seemed headed for a game-clinching score. With the ball at the Cavalier nine, quarterback Chris Keldorf dropped back in the shotgun as five Tar Heel receivers flooded the end zone.  Keldorf first looked for tailback Leon Johnson but he was tied up blocking an on-rushing linebacker.  Just then flanker Octavus Barnes seemed to come open on a crossing pattern and Keldorf let fly. Virginia defensive back Antwan Harris stepped in front of Barnes, made the pick and was away on a 95-yard score.  Following the PAT, the score was 17 to 10 and the momentum had shifted.  Over the next few minutes, the 35-degree afternoon got even colder for that few hundred Tar Heels as Virginia rallied for another touchdown tying the score at 17.  Then with just over two minutes left, Virginia had the ball at their own 44.  As overtime loomed, Virginia quarterback Tim Sherman rifled a long pass over the middle for Germane Crowell who was covered by Robert Williams and Omar Brown.  All three went for the ball and for a split second it looked like Brown had intercepted, but Crowell took the ball away. It was a Virginia first down at the Carolina 15.  All Virginia had to do was run a couple of plays and then have Rafael Garcia kick a 32-yard field goal for the win.  Ironically Harris and Crowell were both from North Carolina.

As the Wahoos stormed the field in celebration, things got beyond ugly real quick.  Bottles, cans, oranges, and ice rained down on those few Tar Heels as they tried to get out of the stadium. Coach Brown feared for the safety of his players, his staff, and that small band of Carolina supporters as security guards in the area causally watched the proceedings.  When Coach Brown finally got to the media room, he chose not to mention the unsportsmanlike conduct of the Virginia fans.  Instead, he said, “I am absolutely sick. It is a miserable feeling to lose this football game.  But—I am proud of these guys.  We’ll bounce back.”  The 1996 Tar Heels did bounce back . . . finishing the season 10 and 2 and beating West Virginia in the Gator Bowl.

When the Cavaliers came into Kenan Stadium this year, they were facing a three game Tar Heel win streak in the series, and as we said in the beginning, the unusual can and often happens when these two meet on the gridiron.

So, when was the last time you saw a wide receiver complete a touchdown pass to a quarterback or when did you see one team return a punt and an intercepted pass for a score?  When did you see a quarterback run, pass and receive for touchdowns?  How about a game with 18 total penalties for 147 yards and 5 calls for too many players in the backfield?  Or can you remember a time when one team had three players named T.J., with teammates named A.J., R.J., and J.J. and with the opposition featuring players named C.J., E.J., and D.J.?  Well the answer to all of the above played out on Saturday, November 9, 2013 at the 118th meeting between the University of Virginia and the University of North Carolina.  By the way, Carolina won the game 45 to 14.

One final unusual note.  A check of this year’s game program indicated that Tar Heel quarterback Marquise Williams’ jersey number was 12, but when he took the field he was wearing jersey number 2 as a tribute to his friend and mentor Bryn Renner who was injured in the game with NC State last weekend. Renner, UNC starting quarterback, would normally wear jersey number 2.

Only time will tell what might happen when the Hoos and the Heels meet for game 119.

Tatum’s Tar Heels Sink the Navy

Carolina’s football history with the Naval Academy goes all the way back to 1899, but it was the game in 1957 that Tar Heels often put on their “greatest wins” list.  Morton volunteer/contributor Jack Hilliard takes a brief look at the gridiron history against Navy and highlights that 1957 encounter.

But first . . . an editor’s note about the photographs used in this post.  Something a bit different seems to have happened with Hugh Morton during his coverage of the October 5th, 1957 Navy versus UNC contest.  There are twenty surviving 120 format negatives from the day.  Most of the negatives depict naval cadets in the stands, a few exposures of the team mascots, and a few of the Navy sidelines.  There are no game action photographs and no scenes from the UNC sidelines.  I checked five newspapers and they either did not print photographs or they used staff photographers.  The only Morton photograph was one small head shot of the two UNC scorers that appeared in the Charlotte News–and that negative did not turn up in the scores of unidentified negatives (at least not yet!).  UNC’s Alumni Review game summary used photographs from Durham’s Herald Sun and the Greensboro Daily News.

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. . . we know Uncle Jim (Tatum) and he always comes up with something.

—Marty Zad, sportswriter who covered Navy for The Washington Post in a pregame interview, October 5, 1957

Ten seasons had passed since UNC’s great win over Navy in Baltimore on October 19, 1946 with Charlie Justice and Walt Pupa leading the way that day before 35,000 fans. The ’46 meeting gave Carolina its first win over the Middies in the classic series.  Not only did Carolina lose in 1899, but they lost in 1905 with a team led by Dr. Foy Roberson, Max Gardner and Nat Townsend.  They lost again in 1906.  And not only did they lose those first three games, they were held scoreless.  So that 21 to 14 win in ’46 was a big deal.

But it was a bigger deal, fifty-six years ago, when head coach Eddie Erdelatz brought his Navy team to Chapel Hill for UNC’s Law Alumni Day on October 5, 1957.  The boys from Annapolis were ranked sixth and considered by many sportswriters as “the finest in Navy history.”  Herman Hickman, in his “Hickman’s Hunches” column in Sports Illustrated said “Middies impressive each outing…NAVY.”  Smith Barrier, Sports Editor of the Greensboro Daily News predicted a Navy win touting Navy’s “weight, experience, and versatility.”  With its advertised great depth, Navy would be a 14-point favorite.

So the stage was set for the fifth meeting between the Tar Heels and the Midshipmen.

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25,000 fans, most of whom were Tar Heels including Hugh Morton, poured into an October-chilly and damp Kenan Stadium, but brightening up the visitor’s side of the field was 143 cadets in Navy blue uniforms and white hats.  Their trip to Chapel Hill was a special reward for their selection as the “outstanding color company” at the Naval Academy in 1956.  They formed the entry way for the team as it came on the field.  Leading the team was Bill XIV the Navy goat.

Coming off a 26-to-0 win versus Clemson, the Tar Heels had not read Hickman or Barrier– or if they had, they ignored the predictions–and took command in the first quarter when Dave Reed went in for the first score of the game from inside the one following a Navy fumble and a nine play drive.  Bob Shupin’s point-after made the score 7 to 0 with 51 seconds remaining in the first quarter.  Navy threatened in the second quarter, but couldn’t score and Carolina’s seven points turned out to be the only first half scoring.

On their first possession of the second half, Navy had the ball at their own 31 when Quarterback Tom Forrestal dropped back to pass. Carolina’s co-captain Buddy Payne broke clear of his blocker causing Forrestal to throw short.  Tar Heel Leo Russavage was in position to make the interception with four blockers out front . . . . leading his way 32 yards for a touchdown.  (Ironically Russavage was pictured on the front cover of the game day program that Saturday afternoon).  Shupin missed the point-after-touchdown and the score was 13 to 0 through the third quarter.

Navy took Carolina’s kickoff following the Russavage touchdown, and moved in for a score.  Forrestal, halfback Ned Oldham, and halfback Harry Hurst lead the way on a 73-yard drive.  With 13:50 left in the game, Carolina led 13 to 7.

Following Navy’s kickoff, Carolina was on the move again.  This time it was Tar Heel Halfback Jim Schuler off right tackle for 61 yards for what looked like a third Carolina touchdown. . . but he stepped out of bounds at the Navy 45 right in front of Coach Tatum and the Tar Heel team.  The drive ended at the Navy 27.

The Middies took over with 7:12 on the clock, needing a TD and PAT for the win. Tar Heels John Haywood and Jim Jones bottled up the Navy attack, and Forrestal threw his fourth interception as Jack Cummings made the pick.  The Tar Heels went three and out and Navy had another chance.  Again Forrestal went to the air, and this time Buddy Payne made a one-handed circus catch at the Carolina 26.  With 1:25 remaining, the Tar Heels knew how to run out the clock and preserve a Tar Heel classic win.

Sports Illustrated reported UNC’s win this way in the October 14th issue: “After enjoying two Saturdays with the rinky-dinks, a smooth-sailing Navy ran into first-class opposition, bowed to North Carolina 13-7.  The huge Tar Heels, forever storming over the Middie line, alarmed Quarterback Tom Forrestal into passing the ball when he should have eaten it.”

Looking at the stat sheet for this game is nothing short of amazing:

  • Carolina did not throw a single pass.
  • Navy threw twenty times, completing eleven with Carolina intercepting five.
  • Navy played its first unit 53 minutes and 58 seconds . . . so much for that Navy depth.

The only other blemish on Navy’s 1957 record would be a 7-7 tie with Duke.  Carolina would go 4 and 3 for the remainder of the season including a win over Duke for the first time since 1949.

Against Navy, Jim Tatum was 4 and 0 (winning three times at Maryland) but he was generous and spoke highly of the Navy team.  Coach Erdelatz was something far less.  After promising to be available to the media fifteen minutes after the game, at the prescribed time, he was on the bus headed out of town.

The first words out of Tatum’s mouth at his press conference: “We got wonderful breaks in this ball game.”  When asked about Carolina’s lack of a passing attack, Tatum said,
“We called the running pass seven times in the game.  Of course, sometimes we didn’t get it started as it should have been.”  He then added, “Two things were important to our victory.  Our mental alertness and the fact that we had two teams ready instead of one. We had read all about Navy’s depth but they didn’t play the second unit much, did they?”

Tatum concluded the conference with a comment about the day’s most spectacular play: Jim Schuler’s 61-yard touchdown run that officially was only a 16-yard first down.
“I saw him step out of bounds but I was glad he kept running.  He gained a lot of confidence from that run and he’s going to make a lot more of them.”

Carolina would not play Navy again until 1984 when the Middies once again came to Chapel Hill–and this time they won 33 to 30.  Tar Heel wins in ’85 and ’87 set the stage for one of Carolina’s toughest losses: the 1989 game in a driving rain in Chapel Hill.  Head Coach Mack Brown describes the ‘89 loss in his 2001 book, One Heartbeat: a Philosophy of Teamwork, Life, and Leadership.

My second year at North Carolina, we lost to Navy 12-7, and it was the first time in three years that they had beaten a Division One team.  After the game, I went out to my car and just sat there and cried because I knew we had better players and had lost a game we shouldn’t have lost.

Overall the series stands at five wins for each team. The most recent meeting was a 28 to 14 Mack Brown Tar Heel win in Chapel Hill in 1992.