Charlie’s angel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Golden Anniversary

Should be shared with family and friends.

Please join Billy, Barbara, Emilie

And Sarah Crews, Leah, David

And Beth Overman and in spirit

And loving memory Ronnie Justice,

In celebration of the fifty year

Marriage of Sarah and Charlie Justice.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A bowl of bitter sugar and an impromptu New Year’s Day truck ride in the Big Easy

The 2015 Tar Heels season ended disappointingly Tuesday evening at the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando, Florida.  The game marked Carolina’s 32nd bowl appearance, but sadly for Tar Heel fans it became their 18th bowl loss.  Of the 31 previous bowl games, the Tar Heels won 14 and lost 17—and of those losses, the one on January 1, 1949 was “one that got away.”  Morton collection volunteer Jack Hilliard looks back at the final three games of the 1948 regular season and the 1949 Sugar Bowl.

The University of North Carolina Marching Band performing on the field inside expansive Tulane Stadium during halftime of the 1949 Sugar Bowl in New Orleans.

The University of North Carolina Marching Band performing on the field inside expansive Tulane Stadium during halftime of the 1949 Sugar Bowl in New Orleans.

When UNC Head Football Coach Carl Snavely walked off the Kenan Stadium sideline on November 6, 1948, Carolina’s bowl-game-future wasn’t likely on his radar.  His third ranked, undefeated Tar Heels had just played William and Mary to a 7-7 tie. His team was looking at three tough games remaining: Maryland in Washington, D. C.; Duke in Chapel Hill; and Virginia in Charlottesville.

On Sunday, November 7th Snavely was back at his home on Tenney Circle in Chapel Hill screening film of head coach Jim Tatum’s Maryland Terrapins.  A record Washington football crowd of 34,588 turned out for the game at Griffith Stadium, with an estimated 6,000 Tar Heel fans in attendance.  Carolina was able to reverse the proceedings from the previous week’s 7-7 tie, and dominated Maryland 49 to 20.

An interesting oddity from that Maryland game was the game day program.  There were two different programs: one cover showed a standard Lon Keller designed football player, while a second one offered a Hugh Morton image of Charlie Justice and Coach Snavely.  The inside front cover page of that program also differed from the standard program.  It featured a Bill Harrison cartoon biography of Justice.

SugarBowlProgram1949_AltCov

Charlie Justice and Carl Snavely, negative by Hugh Morton.

Charlie Justice and Carl Snavely, negative by Hugh Morton.

SugarBowlProgram1949_AltIns

The weekend following the Tar Heel victory over Maryland saw another record-breaking crowd packed into historic Kenan Stadium for the 35th meeting between Duke and Carolina.  44,500 fans saw Charlie Justice’s 43-yard touchdown run break a 0-0 tie in the 3rd quarter as Carolina went on to claim the first Victory Bell win 20 to 0. Following the game, Coach Snavely said “I never saw a better run.” In a time long before the internet, Hugh Morton’s shot of Justice being carried off the field went viral and has been reproduced numerous times over the years.

Hugh Morton's photograph of Charlie Justice on the shoulder of teammates after the 1948 UNC–Duke game appeared on the cover of The State two weeks later.

Hugh Morton’s photograph of Charlie Justice on the shoulder of teammates after the 1948 UNC–Duke game appeared on the cover of The State two weeks later.

Next up . . . the ‘Heels and the ‘Hoos in Charlottesville.

The week before the UNC–UVA game on November 27th, bowl-talk filled the newspapers.  The Orange, Cotton, and Sugar Bowls all showed an interest in the Tar Heels.  On November 22nd the Carolina team voted to accept a bowl bid if they could beat Virginia in the final game of the ’48 regular season. The players liked the idea of playing SMU in the Cotton Bowl or Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl, but a New Year’s Day game all hinged on a win in Charlottesville.

An overflow crowd of 26,000 jammed into Scott Stadium in Charlottesville on November 27, 1948 to see the UNC’s number four ranked Tar Heels take on the Cavaliers of Virginia.  Carolina scored on its first possession and added two additional touchdowns to lead at halftime 21 to 6.  That additional touchdown was spectacular.  Carolina had the ball at its own 20-yard line.  Justice took the snap, paused momentarily, then ran through a huge hole between left guard and left tackle supplied by Bob Mitten and Ted Hazelwood.  Justice then outran Virginia’s Billy Marshall to the end zone 80-yards away.

Colorful halftime entertainment was provided by the Lenoir NC High band.  The Tar Heels couldn’t score in quarter number three, but picked up two touchdowns in the final stanza.  The final Tar Heel TD was another Justice beauty: a 50-yard run down the sideline behind fantastic blocking to seal the 34 to 12 win and complete an undefeated season, the first one since 1898.

Following the game at the Albemarle Hotel, which was UNC headquarters while in Charlottesville, head coach Carl Snavely announced that his Tar Heels would meet the Sooners of Oklahoma on January 1, 1949 in the 15th annual Sugar Bowl in New Orleans. Said the coach, “We got what we wanted . . . .”

An interesting sidebar to the ’48 Carolina–Virginia game involved a future president of the UNC system.  C. D. Spangler, Jr. became president of the consolidated university system in 1986.  Following Dr. William Friday, Spangler continued in that position until 1997; on November 27, 1948, however, he was an 11th grade student at Woodberry Forest, and was one of the 26,000 fans that jammed into UVA’s Scott Stadium to see Carolina play Virginia.  Leading the Tar Heels that Saturday afternoon was junior sensation Charlie Justice.  On one of Charlie’s plays, his number 22 jersey was torn.  Equipment manager “Sarge” Keller quickly got out a new one, tossing the torn one over behind the bench. Spangler quickly called a Carolina cheerleader over and made a deal to get the torn jersey.  He kept the prized souvenir for over fifty years. Then on November 20, 1999, during halftime of the Carolina–Duke game, Spangler presented the jersey to then UNC Athletic Director Dick Baddour and it is now in the Charlie Justice Hall of Honor at the Kenan Football Center on the UNC campus.  And of course Hugh Morton photographed the jersey presentation ceremony.

Off to New Orleans

According to a January 2010 article in St. Charles Avenue Magazine on myneworleans.com, there is a tradition of opposing Sugar Bowl coaches mixing lots of sugar with coffee to make Café Brulot on New Year's Eve to cap off a party at Antoine's Restaurant "for Sugar Bowl notables and the press." You can read the short article at http://www.myneworleans.com/St-Charles-Avenue/January-2010/Coaches-and-Caf-eacute-Brulot/. On December 31st, 1948, it was Carl Snavely and Bud Wilkinson who got to make the concoction. (Negative by Hugh Morton.)

According to a January 2010 article in St. Charles Avenue Magazine on myneworleans.com, there is a tradition of opposing Sugar Bowl coaches mixing lots of sugar with coffee to make Café Brulot on New Year’s Eve to cap off a party at Antoine’s Restaurant “for Sugar Bowl notables and the press.” You can read the short article at http://www.myneworleans.com/St-Charles-Avenue/January-2010/Coaches-and-Caf-eacute-Brulot/. On December 31st, 1948, it was Carl Snavely and Bud Wilkinson who got to make the concoction. (Negative by Hugh Morton.)

The majority of the ’48 Tar Heel football squad arrived by plane at its Sugar Bowl training site in Hammond, Louisiana at 4:30 PM on December 19th…the additional 15 members of the traveling party arrived by train later that evening.  In the second group was Tar Heel end Art Weiner and his bride of three days. Southeastern Louisiana College played host the Heels. Training started on the 20th and continued through the 24th.  A quick trip to New Orleans for Christmas Day…then it was back to Hammond for more practice.

Many Tar Heel fans traveled to the Crescent City, too.  As an earlier post recounted, several, including Hugh Morton, managed to have some exotic fun in New Orleans.

SugarBowlProgram1949

An early Saturday morning return to New Orleans on January 1st signaled the start of the big day as a record 85,000 fans jammed into Tulane Stadium, including photographer Hugh Morton who had working arrangements with several North Carolina newspapers including the Charlotte News, Greensboro Daily News, and High Point Enterprise.

Carl Snavely’s third-ranked UNC Tar Heels were primed and ready for Bud Wilkinson’s fifth ranked Oklahoma Sooners as was ABC’s national television audience. (The TV was not available back in North Carolina because the AT&T long lines had not been completed into the state and wouldn’t be until September 30, 1950, so the folks back home were tuned to Harry Wismer on the ABC Radio Network).  Prior to the kickoff, Coach Snavely and Justice, who had been a bit under the weather all week, posed for Morton’s camera along with ABC broadcaster Wismer.

UNC Head Football Coach Carl Snavely, UNC tailback Charlie Justice, and ABC Radio play-by-play announcer Harry Wismer prior to the start of the 1949 Sugar Bowl.

UNC Head Football Coach Carl Snavely, UNC tailback Charlie Justice, and ABC Radio play-by-play announcer Harry Wismer prior to the start of the 1949 Sugar Bowl.

Then it was time for some football.

Charlie Justice running in the open field with two Sooners, including Paul Burris (#67), in pursuit. (Morton negative, cropped by the editor.)

Charlie Justice running in the open field with two Sooners, including Paul Burris (#67), in pursuit. (Morton negative, cropped by the editor.)

Carolina’s first-possession-drive started at its own 37, and with Justice leading the way moved swiftly down to the Oklahoma 15 on seven plays.  Then, Justice’s pass to Bob Kennedy in the flat was a bit late, and Oklahoma’s Myrle Greathouse intercepted and was off to the races.  Tar Heel Eddie Knox finally caught him 72 yards later at the Carolina 13.  It took the Sooners eight plays to score and take a 7-0 lead at the 8:10 mark.

On Oklahoma’s next possession, Lindell Pearson fumbled and Carolina’s Joe Romano recovered at the Sooner 30.  Four plays later, Hosea Rodgers scored—after being set up by a nine-yard run by Bob Kennedy to the Oklahoma three.  Bob Cox’s PAT attempt was wide right so the score at the 13:55 mark was 7 to 6.

The Greensboro Daily News published this Hugh Morton photograph (cropped similarly as seen below) of Bob Kennedy (#74) scampering a double reverse for nine yards and a first down. In the center of the photograph is blocking back Eddie Knox (#34).

The Greensboro Daily News published this Hugh Morton photograph (cropped similarly as seen below) of Bob Kennedy (#74) scampering a double reverse for nine yards and a first down. In the center of the photograph is blocking back Eddie Knox (#34).

A cropped detail from the above negative.

A cropped detail from the above negative.

With four minutes left in the second quarter, Carolina started a 10-play drive that ended up at the Oklahoma 7.  The big play in the drive for the Heels was a Charlie Justice 23-yard run plus a lateral to Chan Highsmith that added 11 more yards to the Sooner 7.

Chan Highsmith catches a lateral from Charlie Justice (on the ground). Also in the photograph is Ted Hazelwood (#42) and Oklahoma's Buddy Burris (#67), who made the tackle on the play. Published in several newspapers with different cropping, this print is cropped by this blog's editor.

Chan Highsmith catches a lateral from Charlie Justice (on the ground). Also in the photograph is Ted Hazelwood (#42) and Oklahoma’s Buddy Burris (#67), who made the tackle on the play. Published in several newspapers with different cropping, this print is cropped by this blog’s editor.

Then four passes failed—one of which many old time Tar Heels will never forget.  As time was running out in the first half, Justice went back to pass.  He had Art Weiner wide open in the end zone, but Weiner was not able to make the catch.  “Justice threw me a perfect pass,” Weiner recalled in a 1976 interview.  “I was supposed to cut toward the sideline on the left.  Darrell Royal (a future University of Texas head coach) was the defensive back and I had to get away from him.  Charlie threw perfect, I was more concerned where Royal was than the ball.  I took my eye off the ball. . . Had I known Royal actually fell down . . . it was a sure touchdown.”

Santa Claus made an appearance in one of the student card sections during halftime at the 1949 Sugar Bowl. Both schools had card section, one each per end zone.

Santa Claus made an appearance in one of the student card sections during halftime at the 1949 Sugar Bowl. Both schools had card section, one each per end zone.

Oklahoma led 7 to 6 at the half.

UNC's Johnny Clements (#20) tackling Oklahoma running back George Thomas (#25) with the ball during the third quarter. Other Oklahoma players are #70 tackle Wade Walker, #67 guard Paul Burris, #40 fullback Leon Heath, #81 end Jimmy Owens, and #26 quarterback Jack Mitchell. UNC players are #62 left guard Bill Wardle and #51 right tackle Len Szafaryn.

UNC’s Johnny Clements (#20) tackling Oklahoma running back George Thomas (#25) with the ball during the third quarter. Other Oklahoma players are #70 tackle Wade Walker, #67 guard Paul Burris, #40 fullback Leon Heath, #81 end Jimmy Owens, and #26 quarterback Jack Mitchell. UNC players are #62 left guard Bill Wardle and #51 right tackle Len Szafaryn.

During the first nine minutes of the second half, nothing much happened.  Then, with the ball near midfield, Oklahoma halfback Darrell Royal threw long for end Frankie Anderson who was finally tackled by Johnny Clements at the Carolina 10.  Ironically, this would be Oklahoma’s only pass completion of the game.  Two plays later, the Sooners scored at the 9:40 mark of the third quarter.  The remainder of the game became a punting duel between Justice and Royal…a duel that Justice won easily with punts of 65, 65, 57, and 53 yards.

One of the seven Morton photographs printed in the 1949 Yackety Yack, the UNC student yearbook. The caption places the scene within the closing minutes of the contest. Carolina coaches Carl Snavely and Max Reed are at left. The player at far left is unidentified; identifiable players are Kenny Powell (#53), Bobby Weant (#33), Bob Mitten (#42), Charlie Justice (#22), and Paul Rizzo (#66).

One of the seven Morton photographs printed in the 1949 Yackety Yack, the UNC student yearbook. The caption places the scene within the closing minutes of the contest. Carolina coaches Carl Snavely and Max Reed are at left. The player at far left is unidentified; identifiable players are Kenny Powell (#53), Bobby Weant (#33), Bob Mitten (#42), Charlie Justice (#22), and Paul Rizzo (#66).

A tighter crop of the same photograph as run by the Charlotte News.

A tighter crop of the same photograph as run by the Charlotte News.

With two minutes left in the game, Hugh Morton turned his camera toward the Carolina bench.  His remarkable picture of a dejected Charlie Justice tells the story of the entire afternoon. The picture has been reproduced numerous times over the years.

This photograph ran in The High Point Enterprise with the caption, "DEJECTED—Two minutes before the end of the the Sugar Bowl last Saturday this remarkable picture of Charlie Justice was snapped in front of the Tar Heel bench. The expression on the dejected "Choo-Choo's" face tells a whole story of an unsuccessful afternoon of football for one great All-American." The photograph as presented here is cropped by blog editor with a slightly different composition as published in The High Point Enterprise. For photographers who use the "Rule of Thirds," the upper third line runs straight through Justice's eyes.

This photograph ran in The High Point Enterprise with the caption, “DEJECTED—Two minutes before the end of the the Sugar Bowl last Saturday this remarkable picture of Charlie Justice was snapped in front of the Tar Heel bench. The expression on the dejected “Choo-Choo’s” face tells a whole story of an unsuccessful afternoon of football for one great All-American.” The photograph as presented here is cropped by the blog editor with a slightly different composition than published in The High Point Enterprise. For photographers who use the “Rule of Thirds,” the upper third line runs straight through Justice’s eyes.

The High Point Enterprise for January 4, 1949 published two Morton photographs for its coverage of the Sugar Bowl.

The High Point Enterprise for January 4, 1949 published two Morton photographs for its coverage of the Sugar Bowl.

Following the game, both head coaches weighed in on the proceedings.  Oklahoma Coach Bud Wilkinson said, “There is no question that Charlie Justice is great.  He was the player we feared the most and he showed that he is a great back.” Carolina head man Carl Snavely said, “Oklahoma had a big, fine, rugged team and played smartly.”

High Point Enterprise Sports Editor Bill Currie, writing colorfully in the late edition on January 1st said, “Errors in execution, judgment, and strategy on the part of the North Carolina Tar Heels helped the rapacious red-jersied hoard of Oklahoma Sooners to a 14-6 victory in the 15th annual Sugar Bowl game here today . . . .”

After all the interviews were completed, the weary UNC Tar Heels made their way slowly to their locker room as darkness fell on Tulane Stadium.  Justice took the defeat hard: once in the dressing room, he sat in the corner with a blanket over his head and cried.  That picture of the Tar Heel hero turned up in the 1949 University of Oklahoma Yearbook, “Sooner.” The caption: “Grief-stricken . . . Charlie Justice . . . .”

About ten minutes later, he looked up and told the reporters who had gathered around him, “Well, I threw that one away. I gave them that first touchdown with that bad pass.  You can say that.”

The Carolina players took their time in getting dressed, hoping the upset sting would go away.  There was a post-game party scheduled but nobody was really in a party mood. Finally, long after the Oklahoma team had left, the Tar Heels came outside to a dark, deserted parking lot. The busses that had been scheduled to take the Tar Heels back to the hotel had mistakenly taken the Sooners.  Then when the Oklahoma busses arrived and the drivers learned that their victorious Sooners had already left, they too left.

After a futile search, coach Snavely along with his assistants flagged down a passing truck.  The team stood in the open back end as the driver headed toward the hotel.  As the truck got close to the St Charles Hotel, the driver told Snavely, “Ya’ll have to get off a couple of blocks from the hotel.  I’m not allowed to drive to the entrance.”

So, in the New Orleans darkness, UNC’s 1948 Tar Heels slipped in a hotel side entrance unnoticed, and showing the good sportsmanship that Coach Snavely demanded of his players, celebrated with their Sugar Bowl opponent. Viewing Hugh Morton’s photographs from the celebration in the Greensboro and High Point papers, it’s hard to tell who won and who lost.

An unidentified couple, presumably a UNC player and his girlfriend or spouse, at a party for UNC and Oklahoma. (Negative by Hugh Morton.)

An unidentified couple, presumably a UNC player and his girlfriend or spouse, at a party for UNC and Oklahoma. (Negative by Hugh Morton.)

"Special news photo by Hugh Morton" as it appeared in the Charlotte News on January 4th, 1949. The caption reads, "Carl Snavely pays compliments of the night to Bud Wilkinson, Oklahoma mentor, after the latter's team had stopped the Tar Heels on the Sugar Bowl turf, 14-6, on New Year's Day. The two coaches got together for a brief bit of conversation at the party held for both squads in the smart St. Charles Hotel in New Orleans. Needless to say, Canny Carl's expression shows he was in no mood for jokes."

“Special news photo by Hugh Morton” as it appeared in the Charlotte News on January 4th, 1949. The caption reads, “Carl Snavely pays compliments of the night to Bud Wilkinson, Oklahoma mentor, after the latter’s team had stopped the Tar Heels on the Sugar Bowl turf, 14-6, on New Year’s Day. The two coaches got together for a brief bit of conversation at the party held for both squads in the smart St. Charles Hotel in New Orleans. Needless to say, Canny Carl’s expression shows he was in no mood for jokes.”

Hugh Morton's full negative of the published photograph shown above. Did Wilkinson and Snavely each bring only one suit and tie? Both seem to be wearing the same combinations on different days at Antoine's Restaurant (before game day) and St. Charles Hotel (after the game). Or, was someone cooking up some creative captioning?

Hugh Morton’s full negative of the published photograph shown above. Did Wilkinson and Snavely each bring only one suit and tie? Both seem to be wearing the same combinations on different days at Antoine’s Restaurant (before game day) and St. Charles Hotel (after the game). Or, was someone cooking up some creative captioning?

At 4:15 on January 4th, the majority of the Tar Heel team landed at Raleigh-Durham Airport and boarded busses for Chapel Hill. Two weeks later, Athletic Director Bob Fetzer received a check for Carolina’s participation in the 1949 Sugar Bowl, a check for $103,081.48.

Number 1 and only one (so far)

UNC running back Kelvin Bryant running with the football against Clemson at Clemson University, November 6, 1980. UNC won the game 24-19. The 1980 Tar Heels finished the regular season with an 11-1 record and the ACC Championship—the last time UNC won the title. The Tar Heels then played a postseason game on December 31st in Houston, where they defeated Texas 16 to 7 in the Bluebonnet Bowl. (Photograph by Hugh Morton, cropped by the editor.)

UNC running back Kelvin Bryant running with the football against Clemson at Clemson University, November 6, 1980. UNC won the game 24-19. The 1980 Tar Heels finished the regular season with an 11-1 record and the ACC Championship—the last time UNC won the title. The Tar Heels then played a postseason game on December 31st in Houston, where they defeated Texas 16 to 7 in the Bluebonnet Bowl. (Photograph by Hugh Morton, cropped by the editor.)

Prolog: Today, December 5th, at 8:00 P.M. UNC Head Football Coach Larry Fedora’s 2015 Tar Heels will take on head coach Dabo Swinney’s Clemson Tigers for the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship.  Clemson (12-0) is ranked #1 and Carolina (11-1) is ranked #8 in both the Coaches’ and Football Writers’ polls.  The game, which will be played in Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium, will bring back some memories for some old Tar Heels.  At the end of the 1948 season, Clemson (10-0) was at the top of the Southern Conference while Carolina (9-0-1) was second.  Ironically, the two teams did not meet in ’48 but the final Associated Press poll placed Carolina #3 and Clemson #11.  All of that took place five years before the ACC was born.

Introduction: UNC’s football tradition and heritage runs deep: thirty-one bowl games dating back to the 1947 Sugar Bowl, fourteen bowl wins dating back to the 1963 Gator Bowl, a host of All-America players dating back to 1934 and George Barclay’s selection, five players and two coaches currently in the College Football Hall of Fame dating back to Charlie Justice’s selection in 1961.  There is one distinction, however, that only appears once in the Tar Heel record book and it occurred sixty-seven years ago.  Hugh Morton collection volunteer Jack Hilliard takes a look back at that one-of-a-kind-honor.

When the 1947 football season ended and the final Associated Press poll came out on December 8th, the University of North Carolina was ranked ninth with eight wins and two losses.  The ’47 Tar Heels received several minor bowl invitations, including one from the Legion Bowl that was to be played in Los Angeles, but the team and the university turned down the invitations.

However when the 1948 preseason football magazines hit the newsstands in early August, at least one mentioned the Tar Heels in the same sentence as the words “national title.”  Durham sports columnist Jack Horner, (Hugh Morton jokingly called him “Little Jack Horner”) writing in Street and Smith’s 1948 Football Pictorial Yearbook said, “The Tar Heels of North Carolina . . . have the team to beat for Southern Conference honors but they’re a leading contender for the 1948 mythical national title.”  Greensboro columnist Smith Barrier wrote the following in the 1948 Illustrated Football Annual: “A strenuous schedule that opens with Texas and follows with Georgia gives the Tar Heels opportunity to win tall place among the seasons great football powers.”  When all the columnists’ ink had dried, it was time to play ball and see if any of the predictions would come true.

Opening coin toss before the Kenan Stadium contest between North Carolina and Texas. The Texas player wearing #32 is Tom Landry, who would eventually coach the Dallas Cowboys of the national Football League for twenty-nine years.

Opening coin toss before the Kenan Stadium contest between North Carolina and Texas. The Texas player wearing #32 is Tom Landry, who would eventually coach the Dallas Cowboys of the National Football League for twenty-nine years.

First up . . . a Kenan Stadium match-up between coach Carl Snavely’s single-wing North Carolina Tar Heels and coach Blair Cherry’s T-formation Texas Longhorns.  There was no pre-season Associated Press poll in those days, but both teams would have most likely been in the nation’s top five.

On Thursday afternoon, September 23, folks in 10-gallon hats started showing up on Franklin Street.  Texans were in town for Saturday’s season opener and were looking to take up where they left off the year before when they crushed the ’47 Tar Heels 34 to 0 in Austin.  A sell-out crowd of 44,000 filled historic Kenan Stadium on Saturday, where fair, cool weather was in order.

Carolina’s barefooted kicker Mike Rubish kicked to Texas to start the game and Billy Pyle returned it to the Longhorn 22. Two running plays got nothing, so on 3rd down, Frank Guess quick-kicked to Charlie Justice who faked a hand-off to Johnny Clements, then took off down the sideline for 38 yards to the Texas 42.  A drive that included a reverse play to Clements was capped with a touchdown pass from Justice to Art Weiner to put the Heels ahead.  When Bob Cox converted the extra point, the game was only 3:30 old.

This photograph (cropped) appeared in The Charlotte News on September 29 with the caption, "MR. WINGBACK at North Carolina this year is Johnny Clements, successor to Johnny Camp in the single wing attack ably executed by Carl Snavely & Co. A defensive halfback last year, Clements went on the offense as well this year, and Saturday ripped off a 22-yard gain on Carolina's first play from scrimmage to set the stage for the blitz touchdown. The Texans present are Landry [sic?] (33), Fry (60), and One-Punch Kelley (70). Wilmington's Sunday Star-News also published the photograph with slightly wider cropping.

This photograph (cropped) appeared in The Charlotte News on September 29 with the caption, “MR. WINGBACK at North Carolina this year is Johnny Clements, successor to Johnny Camp in the single wing attack ably executed by Carl Snavely & Co. A defensive halfback last year, Clements went on the offense as well this year, and Saturday ripped off a 22-yard gain on Carolina’s first play from scrimmage to set the stage for the blitz touchdown. The Texans present are Landry [sic?] (33), Fry (60), and One-Punch Kelley (70). Wilmington’s Sunday Star-News also published the photograph with slightly wider cropping.

Rubish again kicked to the ‘Horns.  This time Paul Campbell received the kick, then lateraled to Texas co-captain Tom Landry (of future Dallas Cowboy fame) who was nailed by Tar Heel Haywood Fowle.  Landry fumbled and Clements recovered at the Texas 5-yard line.

The Charlotte News published this Hugh Morton photograph, tightly cropped on Rubish and Fowle, on September 28th with the caption "BAREFOOT BOY WITH FOWLE—Mike Rubish (left), who must have set some sort of record by kicking off five times in the first quarter for Carolina against Texas sits on the sidelines fully shod with Haywood Fowle watching following the Kelly–Wardle incident during the Carolina–Texas game. Rubish took off one shoe for the kicking, booted the ball with stocking foot."

The Charlotte News published this Hugh Morton photograph, tightly cropped on Rubish and Fowle, on September 28th with the caption “BAREFOOT BOY WITH FOWLE—Mike Rubish (left), who must have set some sort of record by kicking off five times in the first quarter for Carolina against Texas sits on the sidelines fully shod with Haywood Fowle watching following the Kelly–Wardle incident during the Carolina–Texas game. Rubish took off one shoe for the kicking, booted the ball with stocking foot.”

Two plays later it was Justice for Carolina’s second score.  The game was now 4:30 old.  Again Texas couldn’t move the ball on the Tar Heel defense and again Carolina drove for a third score—this time it was Justice passing to Cox.  As Justice came off the field, Coach Snavely stood up from his normal seat beside the Carolina bench to shake Charlie’s hand.  Said Justice, “Just sit down coach, it’s over.”

Despite being slightly out of focus, Wilmington's Sunday Star-News and The Charlotte News for Tuesday September 27th printed this photograph of Texas quarterback Paul Campbell being "smothered by Tar Heel tacklers." Bob Cox is identified as blocking Campbell's path, and the only Longhorn is identified as Ferrell (#36).

Despite being slightly out of focus, Wilmington’s Sunday Star-News and The Charlotte News for Tuesday September 27th printed this photograph of Texas quarterback Paul Campbell being “smothered by Tar Heel tacklers.” Bob Cox is identified as blocking Campbell’s path, and the only Longhorn is identified as Ferrell (#36).

Texas was finally able to score near the end of the first quarter.  Following a scoreless second quarter, the Kenan crowd was entertained by Head Cheerleader Norman Sper’s colorful 2,000-team card section along with Professor Earl Slocum’s marching band.

"A technicolor team of some 2,185 students" is how The Daily Tar Heel for 24 September 1948 described the stadium sections where Head Cheerleader Norm Sper introduced "card stunts" for the first time during a regular season game. Sper brought the crowd participation displays to Carolina from the west coast. He first used the cards earlier in the years during UNC's 1948 Blue-White spring intrasquad practice game. You can see the display from the Blue-White game at http://blogs.lib.unc.edu/morton/index.php/2015/04/a-tar-heel-tradition-in-blue-white/.

“A technicolor team of some 2,185 students” is how The Daily Tar Heel for 24 September 1948 described the stadium sections where Head Cheerleader Norm Sper introduced “card stunts” for the first time during a regular season game. Sper brought the crowd participation displays to Carolina from the west coast. He first used the cards earlier in the years during UNC’s 1948 Blue-White spring intrasquad practice game. You can see the display from the Blue-White game at http://blogs.lib.unc.edu/morton/index.php/2015/04/a-tar-heel-tradition-in-blue-white/.

After a scoreless third quarter, it was Justice again, this time for 9 yards and a TD.  The final Carolina score came on a Billy Hayes one-yard plunge, making the final 34 to 7.

"COACH PUPA AND FRIENDS" was the caption lead-in for this photograph, cropped to focus on the four certain figures, in The Charlotte News on September 28th. The caption continued, "A starting fullback last year in the Carolina attack, Walt Pupa is now a member of the coaching staff at UNC and sits on the sidelines in white shirt and necktie. His friends are Blocking Back Don Hartig, Tailback Charlie Justice and End Bob Cox (left to right). Their eyes are on Texas, and Justice, especially, liked what he saw.

“COACH PUPA AND FRIENDS” was the caption lead-in for this photograph, cropped to focus on the four certain figures, in The Charlotte News on September 28th. The caption continued, “A starting fullback last year in the Carolina attack, Walt Pupa is now a member of the coaching staff at UNC and sits on the sidelines in white shirt and necktie. His friends are Blocking Back Don Hartig, Tailback Charlie Justice and End Bob Cox (left to right). Their eyes are on Texas, and Justice, especially, liked what he saw.

A Kenan celebration with Snavely riding the shoulders of his team broke out following the game.  The sports headline in the Greensboro Daily News on Sunday morning, September 26th read:  “Justice Shines; Foe Outclassed.”  To this day, there are many old Tar Heels (like me) who say this was UNC’s greatest Kenan Stadium win.

UNC football players celebrating their win over Texas. Head Coach Carl Snavely is being lifted by UNC's Art Weiner #50; UNC Hosea Rodgers #70; UNC Dan Stiegman #67; UNC Charlie Justice #22; UNC Kenny Powell #53; UNC Don Hartig #48. The two players on the far right are Bob Cox (without a helmet) and #20 Johnny Clements. The Charlotte News published this photograph on September 27th.

UNC football players celebrating their win over Texas. Head Coach Carl Snavely is being lifted by UNC’s Art Weiner #50; UNC Hosea Rodgers #70; UNC Dan Stiegman #67; UNC Charlie Justice #22; UNC Kenny Powell #53; UNC Don Hartig #48. The two players on the far right are Bob Cox (without a helmet) and #20 Johnny Clements. The Charlotte News published this photograph on September 27th.

Three days later on September 28th when the Paul B. Williamson Football Ratings came out, Carolina was rated number one; most Tar Heel fans, however, anxiously awaited the all-important Associated Press Poll that would not be available with its first 1948 edition until October 4th—and the Heels had a road trip to Athens, Georgia before then.

Saturday, October 2, 1948 was a hot, 80-degree day in Georgia, but that didn’t stop 500 Tar Heel fans from staging a pre-game, traffic-blocking pep rally and parade through the streets of Athens led by UNC Head Cheerleader Norman Sper.  The rally made its way through the UGA campus ending up at Sanford Stadium where 43,000 fans were ready for some football, and Georgia Head Coach Wally Butts was ready for game number two of his 10th season with the Bulldogs.

The 2:30 pm game began at the opposite end of the spectrum from the Tar Heel–Texas game the Saturday before.  Carolina couldn’t seem to do anything right and the Bulldogs scored on a 76-yard-pass interception just six minutes into the game. That 7 to 0 score held into the third quarter when, with 10 minutes left in the quarter, Charlie Justice took control of the game scoring touchdown runs of 9 and 13 yards. Then in the 4th quarter it was Justice again—this time an 84-yard punt return to seal the Tar Heel victory, 21 to 14.

It turned out to be Justice’s greatest game as a Tar Heel: 304 total yards and his record performance prompted an article in the October 11, 1948 issue of Time titled “The Jack Rabbit of Chapel Hill,” complete with an Associated Press game action photograph.  UNC Sports Information Director Jake Wade called the article “somewhat shy of accuracy.”

The game story in Sunday’s The Atlanta Journal went like this: “Charlie Trippi and Frank Sinkwich moved over Saturday to make room for Charlie (Choo Choo) Justice. Neither of the Georgia All-Americas ever dominated a football game on Sanford field one whit more than did the North Carolina express.”

Billy Carmichael III writing in The Daily Tar Heel issue of Sunday, October 3, 1948, had this to say about the game and his dear friend Charlie Justice:

The Tar Heels arrived early, stayed late . . . scored . . . and then packed up their play things and went home.” . . . (Justice) ran through them, he ran over them, he ran around.  He passed to an assortment of receivers, picking his man like chocolates from a Whitman’s Sampler.

Georgia Assistant Coach Louis Trousdale said following the game, “It was all Justice . . . We coached our kickers for six months to kick away from Justice, and you see what happened.”

In a post game interview, Justice simply said, “It was the greatest game I ever played.”

The Tar Heel Nation faithfully awaited Monday’s Associated Press Poll, and most thought that Carolina would be number one for the first time in the history of the poll and the history of the school.  Sadly, when the first AP Poll for 1948 was published on October 4th the Tar Heels were number 2 behind powerful Notre Dame. “Just wait ‘til next week” was the cry of the Tar Heel faithful.

Next up was a road trip to Groves Stadium and a match-up with “Peahead” Walker’s Wake Forest Demon Deacons.  And for a second time during the ‘48 season, the Heels were looking to avenge a 1947 defeat.  The headline in the High Point Enterprise issue of October 7th read, “Stop Justice, Deacons Say is Main Problem and Hope for Win.”

On October 9th, a record crowd of 28,500, including photographer Hugh Morton, packed Groves Stadium on a warm, sunny afternoon for the 45th meeting between Wake Forest and Carolina, a series dating back to 1888.

UNC Wing Back Johnny Clements (#20) running with ball against Wake Forest. UNC Left End Art Weiner (#50) on ground.

UNC wing back Johnny Clements (#20) running with ball against Wake Forest. UNC left end Art Weiner (#50) on ground.

The Tar Heels played both ends against the middle, scoring twice in the first quarter and twice in the fourth quarter to take a 28 to 6 win. That 19 to 7 Wake win in ’47 was all but forgotten. The headline in the High Point Enterprise issue of Sunday, October 10th read:  “Justice, Rodgers Pace Carolina to Third Win,” and Enterprise sports writer Bill Hackney followed up the headline by saying: “Charlie Justice and Hosea Rodgers sparked the Tar Heels’ offensive unit as they ate up 170 yards on the ground alone.”  Justice and Rodgers outgained the entire Wake team on the ground by 60 yards.  Morton’s action shots of Justice are classics.

UNC tailback Charlie Justice, running with the ball, and Wake Forest defender Tom Fetzer at Groves Stadium, Winston-Salem, NC. Photograph (cropped) appears in October 10, 1948 Wilmington SUNDAY STAR-NEWS with caption: Charlie "Choo Choo" Justice evades Deacon tacklers in one of the Tar Heels' touchdown drives. Fetzer, 31, failed to stop the star back. Justice was injured on the play when he was finally brought to the ground, but he returned to the game after a short rest."

UNC tailback Charlie Justice, running with the ball, and Wake Forest defender Tom Fetzer at Groves Stadium, Winston-Salem, NC. Photograph (cropped) appears in October 10, 1948 Wilmington SUNDAY STAR-NEWS with caption: Charlie “Choo Choo” Justice evades Deacon tacklers in one of the Tar Heels’ touchdown drives. Fetzer, 31, failed to stop the star back. Justice was injured on the play when he was finally brought to the ground, but he returned to the game after a short rest.”

On Monday, October 11, 1948 it happened.  Carolina took over first place in the Associated Press weekly poll.  The Tar Heels got fifty-two first place votes and beat out Notre Dame by eighteen votes.  It was headline news across the state and nation.  The sports headline in the October 13th issue of The New York Times proclaimed, “Gridiron Poll Led by North Carolina.”

Legendary Associated Press sportswriter Will Grimsley said: “The Irish (of Notre Dame) who held the No.1 position for almost a year, were dumped to second place by North Carolina, a Dixie institution where a lad named Charlie Justice gets his higher learning.”

Austin Bealmear, another of the AP writing team added the following in The Greensboro Record: “Unbeaten North Carolina moved to the top of the class today as the country’s No. 1 college football team.  The Tar Heels displaced Notre Dame at the top of the list in the weekly poll of sports writers from coast to coast, conducted by the Associated Press.”

So, when NC State came into Chapel Hill on October 16th for Homecoming 1948, they faced the AP’s No. 1 team. And again, Head Cheerleader Norm Sper, along with card section designer Bill Harrison, was ready with a big US map with a large No. 1 in the center.  But a 14 to 0 Tar Heel win over State wasn’t enough for the Heels to retain the No.1 spot, as Coach Snavely predicted in his Monday morning press conference.  “Look,” said the low-key head coach, “our team is overrated.  Yes, we have a good team, but not a super team. . . We have our definite limitations and weaknesses.  And I don’t believe that we are entitled to the high position assigned us in the national ratings.”

Louisiana State University vs. UNC-Chapel Hill at Kenan Memorial Stadium. Often-published photo of Charlie "Choo Choo" Justice running with the football. UNC won 34-7. UNC players (other than Charlie Justice #22 with the ball): #33 Blocking Back Bobby Weant (on the ground far left), #36 Right Guard Bill Slate, #32 Wingback Merl Norcross, #42 Left Guard Bob Mitten. LSU players: #60 Guard Gerald Reynolds, #83 End Melvin "Sam" Lyle

Louisiana State University vs. UNC-Chapel Hill at Kenan Memorial Stadium. Often-published photo of Charlie “Choo Choo” Justice running with the football. UNC won 34-7. UNC players (other than Charlie Justice #22 with the ball): #33 Blocking Back Bobby Weant (on the ground far left), #36 Right Guard Bill Slate, #32 Wingback Merl Norcross, #42 Left Guard Bob Mitten. LSU players: #60 Guard Gerald Reynolds, #83 End Melvin “Sam” Lyle

On October 18th Carolina slipped to third behind Michigan and Notre Dame.  A 34 to 7 win over LSU in Kenan and a 14 to 7 win over Tennessee on Shields-Watkins Field in Knoxville failed to improve on that third place position.  And then, disaster in Kenan: more about that in the A View to Hugh piece titled “A Game Fit to be Tied” posted back on November 4, 2015.

For sixty-six seasons, the Tar Heels have struggled to regain that No.1 ranking from the Associated Press.  So far, they have not been able to achieve what the ‘48 Tar Heels did on October 11, 1948.

 

 

 

UNC versus NCSU football

The University of North Carolina Tar Heels and North Carolina State Wolfpack football teams face off this weekend, the final regular season game for both squads.  The two schools first played each other in 1894, UNC emerging victorious with a score of 44 to 0.  Hugh Morton was not yet born, but he likely would have photographed the game if he had been around to focus a lens and click a shutter.

Larry Parker tackling James Meadlock, University of North Carolina vs North Carolina State football game, Kenan Memorial Stadium, Chapel Hill, 25 September 1954.

Larry Parker tackling James Meadlock, University of North Carolina vs North Carolina State football game, Kenan Memorial Stadium, Chapel Hill, 25 September 1954.

The photograph above, made during the 1954 contest won buy UNC 20 to 6, is one my favorite Morton football photographs. A print from that negative is part of the Hugh Morton retrospective exhibition, which will be displayed in Raleigh during 2016.

Based upon the earliest negatives located to date, Morton began photographing the annual contest in 1941 when he was a junior at UNC.  Someone stole Morton’s camera soon after arriving on campus as a freshman in 1939, and he did not replace it until sometime in early 1940.  There are no negatives in the collection that have been identified from the fall 1940 contest played in Raleigh.  In 1941 when home field returned to Kenan Stadium at Chapel Hill, Morton was the staff photographer for the student newspaper and the yearbook.  On November 2 The Daily Tar Heel published the following photograph on the front page.

"BUILDUP TO AN AWFUL LETDOWN—"Shot" Cox plunges over the in the first quarter of yesterdays's fiasco for the only Tar Heel tally, as Caton (77), Watts (29) and Stilwell try futilely to stop the Blonde Bombshell. Hodges, Heymann, Suntheimer and Dunkle are in on the play.

“BUILDUP TO AN AWFUL LETDOWN—”Shot” Cox plunges over the in the first quarter of yesterdays’s fiasco for the only Tar Heel tally, as Caton (77), Watts (29) and Stilwell try futilely to stop the Blonde Bombshell. Hodges, Heymann, Suntheimer and Dunkle are in on the play.

The Yackety Yack published that photograph plus the following from that game, which N.C State won 13 to 7—its first victory in the rivalry since 1927.

"Fritchitt of State tackled hard just after catching pass," as captioned and cropped in the 1942 Yackety Yack.

“Fritchitt of State tackled hard just after catching pass,” as captioned and cropped in the 1942 Yackety Yack.

Below you can see the full negatives without cropping.

Morton enlisted in the United States Army in the autumn of 1942, making the 1941 game the only UNC versus NC State game that we know (thus far) that he photographed as a student.  To find other Morton photographs from UNC—NC State football games, including Andy Griffith’s famous “What it Was Was Football” routine, visit the online collection of Morton photographs.

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“Ties” that bind

Hugh Morton photograph made during the University of North Carolina versus Virginia Polytechnic Institute football game played on September 28, 1946. #23 UNC wingback Jim Camp (#23) runs with the ball while VPI tackle John Maskas (#56) looks on from behind the play. (Photograph cropped by editor.)

Hugh Morton photograph made during the University of North Carolina versus Virginia Polytechnic Institute football game played on September 28, 1946. #23 UNC wingback Jim Camp (#23) runs with the ball while VPI tackle John Maskas (#56) looks on from behind the play. (Photograph cropped by editor.)

Back on November 4th, we included a post about the famous UNC vs. William & Mary tie game from 1948.  Today, following Saturday’s game between UNC and Virginia Tech, Morton collection volunteer Jack Hilliard takes a look at the other tie game from the “Golden Era” of Carolina football.

After the regulation sixty minutes of play this past Saturday (11/21/15) at Lane Stadium in Blacksburg, Virginia, the scoreboard read UNC 24–Virginia Tech 24.  Six previous games during the history of the series between these two teams ended in ties.  The difference on this day in 2015: the NCAA rules now extend play into a tiebreaker overtime, during which Carolina was able to win 30 to 27.

Five of those previous ties (1896, 1900, 1902, 1906, and 1911) ended up 0 to 0, and since there was no overtime before 1996, those games are in the record book ties.  The other tie, in 1946, is the one many old time Tar Heels remember.  It was September 28, 1946 when VPI (now Virginia Tech) came into Chapel Hill to meet the Tar Heels in a game that opened the “Golden Era,” or “Charlie Justice Era” as some like to call it.  Photographer Hugh Morton was on hand to document  this historic game.

UNC wingback Jim Camp, running Head Coach Carl Snavely’s famous reverse, accounted for 50 yards of offense during that Saturday encounter.

On the first play of the second quarter, Charlie Justice had a 68-yard touchdown run and Carolina led at halftime 14 to 0. But in the second half, Justice had two punts blocked that led to VPI scores making the final score 14 to 14. Charlie finished the day with 100 yards rushing on 10 carries.  Justice never had another punt blocked during his football career: 39 regular season and 3 bowl games at UNC, plus 58 games with the Washington Redskins and 6 UNC Blue-White games in Chapel Hill.

Ironically, Virginia Tech would not return to Chapel Hill for a game until Saturday, November 6, 2004—the day following the dedication of the Charlie Justice statue.

UNC versus Duke on the gridiron

It’s Homecoming at UNC, and this weekend brings the annual showdown against Duke for the Victory Bell.  Hugh Morton attended many of these confrontations with camera in hand during his lifetime, starting with his years as a student between 1939 and 1942.

Have any identifications you can add? Please leave a comment!  You may click on the images, which will take you to a full descriptive record, and you can also zoom into the images for more detail.

Have fun, and explore all the other Tar Heel and Blue Devil related images in the Hugh Morton online collection!

1940 UNC pep rally

PROBABLY 1940: UNC-Chapel Hill cheerleaders and ram mascot "Rameses" at indoor event, probably the pep rally before the Duke-UNC football game. Both this photograph and a similar photograph (cropped) appear in the 1941 YACKETY YACK yearbook.

PROBABLY 1940: UNC-Chapel Hill cheerleaders and ram mascot “Rameses” at indoor event, probably the pep rally before the Duke-UNC football game. Both this photograph and a similar photograph (cropped) appear in the 1941 YACKETY YACK yearbook.

1940 UNC cheerleaders

1940: This photograph (cropped) appears in the 1941 YACKETY YACK with caption, "Cheerleaders maneuver before Duke-Carolina football game."

1940: This photograph (cropped) appears in the 1941 YACKETY YACK with caption, “Cheerleaders maneuver before Duke-Carolina football game.”

1940 Daily Tar Heel office

1940: UNC-Chapel Hill student at desk at office of DAILY TAR HEEL(?). November 17, 1940 issue of THE DAILY TAR HEEL on wall in background with headline that reads "Happy Days Here Again," referring to 6-3 upset victory of UNC football team over Duke University.

1940: UNC-Chapel Hill student at desk at office of DAILY TAR HEEL(?). November 17, 1940 issue of THE DAILY TAR HEEL on wall in background with headline that reads “Happy Days Here Again,” referring to 6-3 upset victory of UNC football team over Duke University.

Late 1940s? Rameses with Blue Devil

EARLY 1940s: UNC ram mascot posing with man dressed as Duke Blue Devil mascot at UNC-Chapel Hill versus Duke University football game, probably early 1940s at Kenan Memorial Stadium, Chapel Hill, NC.

EARLY 1940s: UNC ram mascot posing with man dressed as Duke Blue Devil mascot at UNC-Chapel Hill versus Duke University football game, probably early 1940s at Kenan Memorial Stadium, Chapel Hill, NC.

1948 Charlie Justice passing

1948: #22 UNC tailback Charlie Justice, back to pass; #83 Duke left end Bill Duncan; and #52 Duke center Tommy Harris; at UNC-Chapel Hill's Kenan Stadium. Photograph, tightly cropped on Justice and Duncan, appears in the CHARLOTTE NEWS, 22 November 1948.

1948: #22 UNC tailback Charlie Justice, back to pass; #83 Duke left end Bill Duncan; and #52 Duke center Tommy Harris; at UNC-Chapel Hill’s Kenan Stadium. Photograph, tightly cropped on Justice and Duncan, appears in the CHARLOTTE NEWS, 22 November 1948.

1948 Justice on teammates’ shoulders

1948: #22 UNC tailback Charlie Justice on shoulders of teammates following 20-0 win over Duke in Kenan Stadium; #63 UNC center Joe Neikirk; #42 UNC left Guard Bob Mitten; #69 UNC right end Bob Cox; #81 UNC right tackle Ted Hazelwood (background left). Cropped version of photograph appears on cover of 4 December 1948 issue of THE STATE, the November 1948 issue of THE ALUMNI REVIEW, and the 1949 YACKETY YACK.

1948: #22 UNC tailback Charlie Justice on shoulders of teammates following 20-0 win over Duke in Kenan Stadium; #63 UNC center Joe Neikirk; #42 UNC left Guard Bob Mitten; #69 UNC right end Bob Cox; #81 UNC right tackle Ted Hazelwood (background left). Cropped version of photograph appears on cover of 4 December 1948 issue of THE STATE, the November 1948 issue of THE ALUMNI REVIEW, and the 1949 YACKETY YACK.

1948 Cheerleaders with Victory Bell

1948 or 1949: UNC-Chapel Hill cheerleaders with Victory Bell after football team defeated Duke. THE CAROLINA GRIDIRON, 15 and 29 October 1949.

1948 or 1949: UNC-Chapel Hill cheerleaders with Victory Bell after football team defeated Duke. THE CAROLINA GRIDIRON, 15 and 29 October 1949.

 

1955 Duke cheerleaders at UNC-Chapel Hill football game versus Duke University at Duke Stadium

1955: Duke cheerleaders at UNC-Chapel Hill football game versus Duke University at Duke Stadium, Durham, NC.

1955: Duke cheerleaders at UNC-Chapel Hill football game versus Duke University at Duke Stadium, Durham, NC.

1957 UNC head coach Jim Tatum embraces suspended co-captain Dave Reed after upset win

1957: UNC Head Coach Jim Tatum (left) embraces player Dave Reed (right) after UNC-Chapel Hill versus Duke University football game at Duke Stadium, Durham, NC. "Carolina football coach Jim Tatum (left) suspended his co-captain and star running back Dave Reed the week before UNC's 1957 game with Duke for an infraction of team rules, and consequently Carolina was very much the underdog for the game with its traditional rival. When the Tar Heels upset the Blue Devils 21 to 13, a tearful Dave Reed embraced his disciplinarian coach in the center of the field at Wallace Wade Stadium."

1957: UNC Head Coach Jim Tatum (left) embraces player Dave Reed (right) after UNC-Chapel Hill versus Duke University football game at Duke Stadium, Durham, NC. “Carolina football coach Jim Tatum (left) suspended his co-captain and star running back Dave Reed the week before UNC’s 1957 game with Duke for an infraction of team rules, and consequently Carolina was very much the underdog for the game with its traditional rival. When the Tar Heels upset the Blue Devils 21 to 13, a tearful Dave Reed embraced his disciplinarian coach in the center of the field at Wallace Wade Stadium.”

1950s or 1960s? Duke cheerleaders with Victory Bell

1950s or EARLY 1960s?: Duke University cheerleaders and marching band celebrating with Victory Bell after football game.

1950s or EARLY 1960s?: Duke University cheerleaders and marching band celebrating with Victory Bell after football game.

1973 action photograph during UNC vs. Duke football game at Wallace Wade Stadium

1973: UNC-Chapel Hill vs. Duke University football game at Duke's Wallace Wade Stadium, Durham, NC. 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.

1973: UNC-Chapel Hill vs. Duke University football game at Duke’s Wallace Wade Stadium, Durham, NC. 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.

A game fit to be tied

In his column in The Charlotte Observer issue of Sunday, August 25, 1996, legendary sports columnist Ron Green wrote the following:

The tie, a vestige of college football’s dinosaur age, is dead, eradicated by long overdue rule changes.

RIP.  Forever.  In a hermetically sealed steel container.   Under a heavy layer of concrete.

The fellow who said a tie was like kissing your sister gave far too much credit to a tie.

But before the 1996 season, the tie was alive and well and living on Saturday afternoons throughout college football.

During the “Golden Age” (1946-1949) of UNC football there were two of these tie games, and both made for interesting ink and airtime.  Morton Collection volunteer Jack Hilliard takes a look back at one of those ties . . . sixty-seven years ago this week.

William &amp; Mary running back Tommy Korzowski (#14) encounters UNC defenders Ken Powell (#53, left end) and possibly Bill Maceyko (#43?). In the left background is Carolina right guard Larry Klosterman, (#80). In the far right background is right tackle Ted Hazelwood (#81). The jersey number for player in the left background is only partially visible, but may be #56; if so, that's right end Mike Rubish. <br />  This is the only negative (cropped for this blog post by the editor) identified by Morton from the 1948 William &amp; Mary versus UNC football game. Another negative from that game was scene made on the sideline, but previously misidentified in published in books as being taken during the 1949 Sugar Bowl. To learn more about that discovery, click on the link in the story below.

William & Mary running back Tommy Korzowski (#14) encounters UNC defenders Ken Powell (#53, left end) and possibly Bill Maceyko (#43?). In the left background is Carolina right guard Larry Klosterman, (#80). In the far right background is right tackle Ted Hazelwood (#81). The jersey number for player in the left background is only partially visible, but may be #56; if so, that’s right end Mike Rubish.
This is the only negative (cropped for this blog post by the editor) identified by Morton from the 1948 William & Mary versus UNC football game. Another negative from that game was scene made on the sideline, but previously misidentified in published in books as being taken during the 1949 Sugar Bowl. To learn more about that discovery, click on the link in the story below.

Three days after Harry Truman defeated Thomas Dewey for the presidency of the United States, The College of William and Mary’s 1947 Southern Conference champion football team rolled into Chapel Hill on Friday, November 5, 1948 as a twenty-point underdog.  They weren’t given much of a chance against the undefeated, nationally third-ranked Tar Heels.  Carolina was riding atop a thirteen-game winning streak, a winning streak that had started ironically against William & Mary on October 18, 1947—the only ’47 loss for W&M.  Despite a defensive front line that averaged 211 pounds per man compared to Carolina’s 205,  I think it’s safe to say that most of the 43,000 Tar Heel fans that jammed into Kenan Stadium on that rainy, gray, windswept Saturday afternoon thought this would be win number 14; the William & Mary team, however, had a different idea.

Game day program from the 6 November 1948 football game between William &amp; Mary and UNC played at Kenan Stadium in Chapel Hill. Pictured on the cover is singer Jo Stafford. The "On the Cover" caption on page 3 says, "Jo's hobby is folk songs and she has set up a $250 award for the student who submits the best collection of them to her." When Hugh Morton was a UNC student, he photographed Stafford along with Tommy Dorsey and the "Pied Pipers" performing during the 1941 "May Frolics" dance at the Tin Can. Also in that photograph is Chuck Lowry, Frank Sinatra, and Buddy Rich. See http://dc.lib.unc.edu/cdm/ref/collection/morton_highlights/id/740.

Game day program from the 6 November 1948 football game between William & Mary and UNC played at Kenan Stadium in Chapel Hill. Pictured on the cover is singer Jo Stafford. The “On the Cover” caption on page 3 says, “Jo’s hobby is folk songs and she has set up a $250 award for the student who submits the best collection of them to her.” When Hugh Morton was a UNC student, he photographed Stafford along with Tommy Dorsey and the “Pied Pipers” performing during the 1941 “May Frolics” dance at the Tin Can. Also in that photograph is Chuck Lowry, Frank Sinatra, and Buddy Rich. (See http://dc.lib.unc.edu/cdm/ref/collection/morton_highlights/id/740.)

Before the opening kickoff, Carolina head cheerleader Norman Sper reminded one and all:

There was booing at Tennessee last week, and we hope that all of you will refrain from such unsportsmanlike conduct.

Sper was referring to a controversial play during Carolina’s 14 to 7 win in Knoxville on October 30th.  Shortly before the end of the second quarter, Tennessee’s Hal Littleford returned a Charlie Justice punt 90 yards for a score, but the play was called back.  Referee Walter Hoffman detected clipping when Chaddie Baker tried to block Hosea Rodgers.  It seemed like all 50,000 fans were upset with the call—so much so that Knoxville Police Chief Joe Kimscy ordered special protection for the game officials when a small crowd surged out of the stands and onto the field.  An action photograph from the Knoxville News–Sentinel clearly showed the infraction.  UNC’s “Alumni Review” titled the picture “The Tennessee Clipper.”)

After a scoreless first quarter, William & Mary recovered a fumble on the Carolina 27 yard line about half way through the second quarter.  Two line plays netted six yards; then on third down, left halfback Tommy Korczowski threw a looping lob-pass into the end zone for co-captain Lou Hoitsma who seemed to be covered by Tar Heels Bill Flamisch and Bill Maceyko.  All three went up for the ball, but Hoitsma made a circus catch. The Indians—W&M’s nickname in 1949, but known today as The Tribe—led 7-0 at the half.

UNC’s special halftime guests were nine outstanding high school bands from across the state. The bands performed several maneuvers including an outline of the state and invited the crowd to join in singing “The Old North State.”

Late in the third quarter, Hosea Rodgers finally scored for the Heels on a one yard run to culminate a 15-play, 76-yard-drive. For the remainder of the third quarter and through the fourth, UNC’s Charlie Justice and W&M’s Jack Cloud tried all the tricks in the book, but defense was the name of the game on this day. Hugh Morton’s photograph of the Carolina bench near the end of the game tells the story with long faces and looks of concern. Then, with time running out and Carolina with the ball at its own 21, Billy Hayes went back to pass.  He spotted Max Cooke at the 28 and let it fly, but William & Mary’s Joe Mark cut in front of Cooke and made the interception. When Hayes finally got Mark on the ground, the ball was at the Carolina 8 . . . just as the gun sounded to end the game. William & Mary’s Jack Cloud immediately ran up to referee Mr. Dandelake pleading for a time out. But, as UNC center the late Joe Neikirk, who was standing beside the referee, liked to tell the story, Dandelake said, “Son, the d— game is over.” Neikirk added “the tie wrecked our season.”

Both head coaches weighed in following the game. W&M coach R. N. (Rube) McCray said, “We were definitely not playing for a tie.  We were out to win.”  UNC Head Coach Carl Snavely added,” We were lucky to come out with a tie.”

So, how did William & Mary hold the number three team in the country to a 7-7 tie?  They got only one first down and that was on a penalty, while the Tar Heels got 17.  They completed only 2 passes for a total of 22 yards; Carolina completed 7 for 83 yards.  They gained only 19 yards on the ground, the Heels got 184. Along the way, Carolina lost 3 fumbles and had 4 passes intercepted.  And W&M held UNC’s great All-America Charlie Justice scoreless for the first time during Carolina’s 13-game win streak.  For the answer, the headline in UNC’s The Alumni Review says it all:

Powerful W & M Defense Ends Tar Heel Streak

When the Associated Press football rankings came out on November 8th, Carolina had dropped four places to number 7 and as a number three going into the William & Mary game, they had received 36 first place votes.  Following the game they got only 7.

It’s rare when one considers a tie game to be a great game, but when you check the 1949 William & Mary yearbook, Colonial Echo, you find that the editors considered the tie with Carolina to be the “highlight of the year,” and their 21-yard touchdown pass as the “greatest play of the season.” Authors Wilford Kale, Bob Moskowitz, and Charles M. Holloway, in their 1997 book, Goal to Goal: 100 Seasons of Football at William and Mary, agreed with the yearbook assessment. The yearbook editors additionally pointed out that some newspaper writers even took the W&M touchdown play a step further calling it “the play of the year in the Southern Conference.”

There are two Kenan Stadium records from this game that still stand over half-way through the 2015 season—both achieved by William & Mary’s punter Buddy Lex.  On this day he punted a total of 15 times for a total 645 yards.

It was a classic game, one fit to be tied.

And as for that other “Golden Era” tie mentioned in the opening: it came on September 28, 1946, a 14 to 14 tie with another team from the state of Virginia, VPI (It’s Virginia Tech today).

Epilogue:  Another Tie of Distinction

In January, 1997, I received a letter from Hugh Morton after I sent him a videotape I had made about the ‘47 Sugar Bowl 50th reunion.  Here’s what he said:

“I’ve always considered myself the most loyal Charles Justice fan still around, but I’m having doubts about that. I think maybe you are, or possibly we are tied for that.”

I consider it an extremely high honor to be tied with Hugh Morton for Charlie Justice loyalty.  Just to be mentioned in the same paragraph with Hugh Morton and Charlie Justice is a distinct honor.

The slideshow image Morton didn’t photograph

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Tar Heel tradition in blue & white

A Chapel Hill “Rite of Spring” will be carried out in Charlotte this year. Head Football Coach Larry Fedora will take his Tar Heels to the Queen City for the 70th anniversary Blue-White football game because the renovations being carried out at Kenan Stadium will not be completed in time for the game on Saturday, April 11, 2015. [4/11/15 Update: according to GoHeels.com, the team is calling this a “open spring football scrimmage,” adding “Carolina will not have a traditional Spring Game in Chapel Hill due to ongoing repairs to the Kenan Stadium playing surface.”]

The annual spring game goes all the way back to 1946 when then Head Coach Carl Snavely put his post World War II squad on display in Kenan Stadium.  Hugh Morton, as you might have suspected, photographed some of these early contests.  Unlike his negatives for UNC basketball’s version of the Blue-White game, which are identified, Morton did not label his football negatives for the spring outing.  I turned to newspapers looking for articles and images, then looked through hundreds of unlabeled negatives; Morton collection volunteer Jack Hilliard looked over news reports from the Daily Tar Heel, Greensboro Daily News, Wilmington Morning Star, and Charlotte News.  The result? Jack’s piece for today’s post on the beginnings of a Tar Heel tradition . . . and a few more identified negatives than we had beforehand.

UNC tailback Charlie Justice (#22 with ball) and UNC blocking back Danny Logue (#66) during the 1949 Blue-White intrasquad game played at Kenan Stadium. Until researching this blog post, the online Morton collection of Morton images had this image incorrectly dated as 1946—Justice's freshman year when he played on the White team.

UNC tailback Charlie Justice (#22 with ball) and UNC blocking back Danny Logue (#66) during the 1949 Blue-White intrasquad game played at Kenan Stadium. Until researching this blog post, the online Morton collection of Morton images had this image incorrectly dated as 1946—Justice’s freshman year when he played on the White team.

Thirteen days after UNC Head Football Coach Carl Snavely got his Valentine wish that Charlie Justice would “come out for the team,” a practice game was held in Kenan Stadium between the Tar Heels and the Guilford College Quakers coached by Doc Newton. About a thousand students showed up despite the cold, damp, windy weather. The students were surprised when Snavely sent his team onto the field and Justice remained on the sideline. The modified format game gave Guilford the ball first and they did well. When the Tar Heels took over the ball, it was at their own 34-yard-line. On the sideline, Snavely snapped, “Justice, try tailback for a while.”  As Justice ran onto the field, the crowd came to its feet. The Quaker defense dug in. Justice was on trial.

As everybody suspected, Justice got the snap. He started out to his right, then peeled off between the tackle and end, and was into the secondary. Two Quaker linebackers missed tackles, and now Justice was in position to size up the safety man. He ran directly at this last line of resistance, applied a head and shoulder fake and breezed past, then angled into the end zone. There was stunned silence in Kenan Stadium as the onlookers tried to figure out what they had just seen. Then a spontaneous cheer went up.

The United Press story in the Greensboro Daily News issue of February 28, 1946 said: “If his initial showing is any indication, Charlie Justice, the University of North Carolina’s new football star, can expect to cause opponents plenty of unrest.”

As the 1946 spring practice came to a close, Coach Snavely along with the University Monogram Club staged something new. They divided the 70-man football squad into two teams for a special game in Kenan Stadium. It was billed as the first annual Blue-White game and was played on May 4, 1946 before 2,000 top-coated fans. Charlie Justice, who had gotten a lot of ink in the papers by now, was assigned to the White team.

The Blue team got the ball first but after about two minutes, they punted. On the first play from scrimmage, with the ball at the White 35, Justice took off around right end. To quote Yogi Berra, “it was déjà vu all over again.” This time the play covered 65 yards. The White team went on to win that first Blue-White game 33 to 0. The ’46 Tar Heels finished the season 8-1-1 and it was “Happy Times are Here Again” in Chapel Hill.

Word of the successful 1946 Blue-White game spread quickly and when the 1947 game rolled around, 7,000 fans turned out on a warm April Saturday.  The ’47 game had all appearances of a regular game as two squads of 41 players each met in Kenan on April 26, 1947. Unlike the ’46 game, this game was a tight, hard-fought contest with the White team winning in the end over the Justice-led Blue team 7 to 6.  Place-kicker Bob Cox made the difference. It would be Charlie Justice’s only Blue-White loss.  Although the 1947 Tar Heels lost 2 games—one to Texas and one to Wake Forest—and they chose not to accept a bowl invitation.  Coach Snavely often said he thought his ’47 Carolina team was his best.

By April 29, 1948, Carolina had completed all of its spring practice and work was under way by the Monogram Club for the third annual Blue-White game to be staged in Kenan on May 1st.  Once again, Coach Carl Snavely divided his troops into two teams: the White team to be coached by Jim Gill, and the Blue team to be led by Max Reed.  This time 10,000 sun-baked fans came out to see what the ’48 Tar Heels had to offer.  As it turned out, they had plenty to offer.  The White team with Justice and Art Weiner at the controls scored three touchdowns in the first half and added two more in the second, making the final 35 to 7. The third annual Blue-White game introduced a new Carolina tradition.  Head Cheerleader Norman Sper presented for the first time on the East Coast the 2,000-student Carolina Card section.  They performed eight different stunts, to the delight of the crowd. The 1948 Tar Heels were undefeated: a tie with William & Mary was the only blemish on an otherwise perfect season. The stage was set for the final season of the “Charlie Justice Era,” but it would not be Charlie’s final Blue-White game.

The Charlotte News published a three-image montage of Morton photographs after the 1948 Blue-White game.

The Charlotte News published a three-image montage of Morton photographs after the 1948 Blue-White game.

Here’s a PDF of the above news clip: CharlotteNews_19480503_p6B.  Only one negative from this trio has been located thus far:

Dick Bunting throwing a pass during 1948 Blue-White game, which may be the first Hugh Morton photographed. Newspaper articles examined thus far for the two previous Blue-White games do not include photographs, and Morton did not identified the vast majority of his UNC football negatives.

Dick Bunting throwing a pass during 1948 Blue-White game, which may be the first Hugh Morton photographed. Newspaper articles examined thus far for the two previous Blue-White games do not include photographs, and Morton did not identified the vast majority of his UNC football negatives.

The format for the fourth Blue-White game in 1949 was slightly different from years past. Upperclassmen like Justice and Weiner made up the Blue team, while freshman made up the White team.  A Kenan Stadium crowd of 12,000 sat through a first-quarter rain and saw Justice run for one touchdown and pass for two as the “old guys” beat the “rookies,” 21 to 6.

"Hailed By Coach Snavely, Charlie Justice" is the caption headline for this photograph in Wilmington's Morning Star on May 3rd, 1949. The caption read (in part), "Tackle Bill Kuhn next fall will be the first Wilmington boy in a number of years to be on North Carolina's starting team. . . . Coach Snavely and Charlie Justice both maintain that Kuhn will likely be one of Carolina's greatest tackles if he continues the fine play he has displayed during spring practice." The Charlotte News also published this photograph. The crops are slightly different in each newspaper; the crop here is a similar to those.

“Hailed By Coach Snavely, Charlie Justice” is the caption headline for this photograph in Wilmington’s Morning Star on May 3rd, 1949. The caption read (in part), “Tackle Bill Kuhn next fall will be the first Wilmington boy in a number of years to be on North Carolina’s starting team. . . . Coach Snavely and Charlie Justice both maintain that Kuhn will likely be one of Carolina’s greatest tackles if he continues the fine play he has displayed during spring practice.” The Charlotte News also published this photograph. The crops are slightly different in each newspaper; the crop here is a similar to those.

Special guests for this game were 5,000 high school students from across the state.
Photographer Hugh Morton attended several Blue-White games over the years. His classic shot of Justice at the ’49 game (seen at the top of of this article) is a scene many had come to expect in their Sunday papers.

Dick Bunting (#30) carries the football within the grasp of a tackler during the UNC Blue-White game played on April 30, 1949. This photograph, cropped tightly as a vertical to focus on the runner eluding the tackler, appeared in The Charlotte News on May 2nd.

Dick Bunting (#30) carries the football within the grasp of a tackler during the UNC Blue-White game played on April 30, 1949. This photograph, cropped tightly as a vertical to focus on the runner eluding the tackler, appeared in The Charlotte News on May 2nd.

Here’s a PDF of the article and two photographs as they appeared in theMay 2nd edition of The Charlotte News: CharlotteNews_19490502_p4B

Hugh Morton's photograph of Bunting as it appeared in The Charlotte News on May 2, 1949.

Hugh Morton’s photograph of Bunting as it appeared in The Charlotte News on May 2, 1949.

The 1949 Tar Heels lost three games during the season but still won the Southern Conference title and played in the 1950 Cotton Bowl on New Year’s Day.

May 6, 1950, UNC’s Monogram Club staged its fifth Blue-White with yet another format change. This time it was the “Old Grads,” vs. the 1950 varsity.  As you might guess, Charlie Justice and Art Weiner were co-captains for the “Grads.” 19,000 fans endured 90 degree temperatures and saw Justice steal the show once again, carrying the ball 12 times.

Uncredited photograph in Wilmington's Morning Star on May 7th, 1950. Could this be a Hugh Morton photograph?

Uncredited photograph in Wilmington’s Morning Star on May 7th, 1950. Could this be a Hugh Morton photograph?

The “Choo Choo” had five punts for an average of 51 yards-per-kick.  The star for the varsity was sophomore tailback Ernie Liberati who just happened to be the subject of Hugh Morton’s photo in the Greensboro Daily News issue of May 7, 1950.  Morton, in an impromptu interview with Daily News Sports Director Smith Barrier said, “Fish are beginning to bite around Wilmington.”  With all the big guns gone, the 1950 Tar Heels struggled, posting a 3-5-2 record for the season.

UNC right tackle Bill Kuhn (#51), backfield coach Charlie Justice, and running back John Gaylord (#25). See the photograph above with Kuhn as a freshman, when Justice and Snavely praised his abilities in Wilmington's Morning Star. (Photograph cropped by the editor.)

UNC right tackle Bill Kuhn (#51), backfield coach Charlie Justice, and running back John Gaylord (#25). See the photograph above with Kuhn as a freshman, when Justice and Snavely praised his abilities in Wilmington’s Morning Star. (Photograph cropped by the editor.)

On April 28, 1951, the UNC Monogram Club staged the sixth Blue-White game in perfect football weather before 11,500 fans in Kenan Stadium. The varsity (White) vs. freshmen (Blue) format was in place once again, and as before the varsity proved to be too much for the “rookies.”  Coach George Radman’s White team won 32 to 21. Radman’s assistant coach was Charlie Justice, participating in his sixth Blue-White game. Justice was on Snavely’s staff during the 1951 season before returning to his duties with the Washington Redskins for his second Redskins season in 1952.  The ’51 Tar Heels finished the season with a 2 and 8 record. Snavely would have only more season with the Tar Heels.

The Blue-White games just kept on coming and in the1962 game, the Monogram Club brought back the 1950 format with the Varsity (Blue) and Alumni (White). At age 37, Charlie Justice participated in his seventh and final Blue-White game. On April 7, 1962, Justice was used as the Alumni punter and got off punts of 35, 40, 39, 37, and 19 yards. The headline in the Greensboro paper on April 8, 1962 read, “Justice Booms Punts Again,” and the headline on page 219 in the 1963 UNC Yearbook, “ Yackety Yack,” read “Choo-Choo Returns for Alumni Game.”

So, when UNC Head Football Coach Larry Fedora’s 2015 Tar Heels take the field at Rocky River High School in Charlotte at 1 pm on April 11 for the 70th anniversary Blue-White spring game, I choose to believe that Justice, Weiner, Snavely and Morton will be together again, watching a Tar Heel Tradition in Blue and White.

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.