“Mighty Mites,” Morton, and millions of azaleas

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

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

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

A Prologue:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Walter Doak during the 1950 North Carolina Azalea Festival

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Home for the Holidays . . . 1947

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

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

1947 UNC football team members

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Charlie Justice running football versus Tennessee, 1947

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Who was that?” Wade asked.

“George McAfee,” said Justice.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yes, Tar Heels . . . there is a Virginia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tatum’s Tar Heels Sink the Navy

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

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

P081_6_2_1_3_5_02_07 P081_6_2_1_3_5_02_08

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

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

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

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

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

P081_6_2_1_3_5_01_07

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Tar Heels versus the Other Carolina

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will kick off its 2013 football season tonight, August 29th, in a nationally televised game broadcast from Columbia, South Carolina.  It will be the fifty-sixth time the two teams have met, with a storied past that dates to 1903.  Morton volunteer/contributor Jack Hilliard takes a brief look at the history of this backyard battle. [EDITOR'S NOTE: this post was updated on 30 August 2013 to resolve an unknown technical gremlin that prevented the webpage from rendering properly.]

Al Grygo, University of South Carolina halfback, running during game with University of North Carolina..

Hugh Morton’s photograph from the 27 September 1941 UNC versus USC football game, cropped as published in The Daily Tar Heel with the caption, “AL GRYGO, SOUTH CAROLINA’S sensational half back, rips through the center of the Tar Heel line for a ten-yard gain during the second quarter of yesterday’s contest. Running interference for him is Krinovak, USC guard and coming in for the tackle are Carolina’s Bill Faircloth [#60], and Joe Austin. The photograph also appeared in the 1942 yearbook Yackety Yack. (In the yearbook caption, Grygo only picked up six yards.)  South Carolina defeated UNC 13-7.

When the University of North Carolina takes the field at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, South Carolina to start its 125th football season on ESPN College Football Thursday Primetime, I can safely predict that Carolina will win. The thing is, which Carolina?  Will it be Larry Fedora’s North Carolina or Steve Spurrier’s South Carolina?  Vegas money is on the team from the south in 2013 by twelve points, but when these two teams meet, anything might happen as evidenced by what has gone before.

The Tar Heels and the Gamecocks first played on October 10, 1903 with the Heels winning 17 to 0 over a South Carolina team coached by C. R. Williams.  During the eleven games that followed, the boys from the North never lost.  (There were, however, two ties—one in 1912 and one in 1921).  The Gamecocks finally won in 1924.  The two Carolinas met twelve times between 1924 and 1944 with USC winning four and UNC winning six.  Again there were two ties, one in 1928 and one in 1937.  Following South Carolina’s 6-to-0 win in 1944, four seasons went by before the two met again.

When Carl Snavely’s Tar Heels flew into Columbia on Friday, October 7, 1949, they were riding atop an eighteen game regular season winning streak and were primed and ready to meet a strong South Carolina eleven.  UNC’s captain, Charlie Justice, was two games into his senior year and was leading the number sixth ranked Tar Heels.  It was like homecoming for Justice: there were six players on the South Carolina squad from his hometown of Asheville, plus Justice and USC’s head coach Rex Enright were good friends.  Enright had recruited Charlie in January of 1946; at one point Justice was planning to join Enright at USC, but that didn’t work out.

The afternoon of Saturday, October 8, 1949 was warm with a few threatening clouds as 28,500 fans poured into Carolina Stadium, (it’s Williams-Brice Stadium today), setting a record, at the time, for the largest crowd ever to see a football game in the state of South Carolina.

In place on the Tar Heel sideline was photographer Hugh Morton.

Charlie "Choo Choo" Justice evades several USC Gamecocks tacklers.

Charlie “Choo Choo” Justice evades several USC Gamecock tacklers during the October 8, 1949 USC versus USC game at Carolina Stadium. A detail from this negative appears in the February 1951 issue of The Alumni Review.

Writing in the game-day program, columnist “Red” Ballentine said, “When you mention the Tar Heels, there is one gentleman who is foremost in football minds—a genuine Southern celebrity who goes under the handle of Charlie Justice—known to all the world as Choo Choo.”

Reporting on the game, the Greensboro Daily News noted that many fans carried portable radios in order to listen to the World Series game between the Yankees and the Dodgers.

South Carolina surprised the shirt-sleeved crowd by holding the heavily-favored Tar Heels to a 7-7 halftime tie, but in the second half it was all Charlie Justice and Art Weiner. Early in the second half, with the ball at the SC 47, Justice hit Weiner on a 24-yard pass. A drive later it was Justice to Weiner again, this time for 40 yards. The Heels rolled to a final score of 28 to 13.

Rex Enright of University of South Carolina and Carl Snavely of the University of North Carolina meet after UNC's 28-13 victory on October 8, 1949 at Columbia, S.C.

CAROLINA COACHES CONFER —Head coaches Rex Enright of the University of South Carolina and Carl Snavely of the University of North Carolina meet after UNC’s 28-13 victory on October 8, 1949 at Columbia, S.C.

Following the game in an interview with Al Thomy of the Greensboro Daily News, Enright said, “Just when we stopped their running, they would pass. And if we dared concentrate on their aerial game, they would come back on the ground. . . Justice and Weiner form a great offensive combination. They are just like the Yankees.” (By the way, the New York Yankees won that World Series game over the Brooklyn Dodgers also played on October 8th by a score of 6 to 4).

Enright was not questioned about an incident that occurred in the first quarter during a UNC drive, when a close fourth down play was ruled a Tar Heel first down. Following the ruling, during a UNC time out, Enright called Justice over to the sideline and asked the Tar Heel captain to ask for a measurement, which he did and the measurement proved that referee J.D. Rogers, Jr. had made the correct call.

About two months after the game, Charlie Justice was selected for the Collier’s All America team, and the magazine published a Hugh Morton photograph of Justice from the USC game for its December 10, 1949 issue.  In 1997, that same Morton image would be placed on display in the Charlie Justice Hall of Honor on the first floor of the Kenan Football Center on the UNC campus.

UNC-Chapel Hill versus University of South Carolina football game in Carolina Stadium, Columbia, SC. Player wearing uniform #25 is UNC's Irv Holdash.

UNC-Chapel Hill versus University of South Carolina football game in Carolina Stadium, Columbia, SC.  Player wearing uniform #25 is UNC’s Irv Holdash.

A little over a year after that ’49 game, Enright’s and Snavely’s teams met again in Columbia’s Carolina Stadium.  On November 18, 1950, 25,000 fans, including South Carolina’s Governor Strom Thurmond and photographer Hugh Morton, saw the Tar Heels fall behind by a 7 to 0 score early in the first quarter, but saw them come back with two scores in the second on a combination of A-formation and single wing plays.  As it turned out, the halftime score of 14 to 7 was also the final score.

South Carolina governor Strom Thurmond and wife Jean at the November 18, 1950 UNC vs. USC football game.

South Carolina governor Strom Thurmond and wife Jean at the November 18, 1950 UNC vs. USC football game at Columbia, S.C.

UNC put up another convincing win against USC when the teams met in Kenan Stadium on October 13, 1951. A homecoming crowd of 34,000 cheered the Tar Heels to a 21 to 6 victory with Larry Parker, Billy Williams, and Bud Wallace leading the Tar Heel attack. On October 14th, readers of the Wilmington Morning Star were treated to two Hugh Morton action photographs from that twenty seventh battle of the Carolinas.

Between 1951 and 1963 the teams met twelve times with UNC winning nine and USC winning three. Then starting in 1967 North Carolina suffered five straight losses before winning three, in ’77, ’78, and ’79.

The Tar Heels managed to win only two times during the 1980s and 1990s: 1983 and 1991.  The most recent game played in Kenan Stadium was on October 13, 2007, when Steve Spurrier’s Gamecocks survived a furious UNC fourth quarter to win 21 to 15.

Overall North Carolina has won in the series thirty-four times while South Carolina has won seventeen, and there have been four ties.  The series renewal in 2013 will pit the number 6th ranked Gamecocks against the 24th ranked Tar Heels, but the Tar Heels just might have one thing in their favor. The August 19th issue of Sports Illustrated has a regional cover featuring South Carolina.  Ever heard of the “Sports Illustrated Cover Jinx?”

Carl Suntheimer is stretched out in front of the bench

The Charlotte News published three Morton photographs the Monday after the 1941 UNC loss at South Carolina, including this uncredited sideline candid with the caption “BEATEN AND DISPIRITED the Tar Heels couldn’t raise a grin Saturday afternoon as their ball club went down before South Carolina’s powerful Gamecocks. Co-captain Carl Suntheimer is stretched out in front of the bench with the dipper; Corn, Webb, Hussey and Gordon are on the bench (left to right). Photograph cropped, as published, from a wider view.  The 1942 Yackety Yack also published this photograph, with a wider crop, in a two-page spread called “It’s All Part of the Game.”

A(nother) Morton mystery solved

Today’s A View to Hugh post takes a look behind the scenes, as Morton volunteer/contributor Jack Hilliard solves a Morton Mystery—this one centering around college football’s Sugar Bowl, which will be played in New Orleans on January 2nd.

Lilly Christine, "The Cat Girl"

Lilly Christine, “The Cat Girl,” performing at Prima’s 500 Club in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Image cropped by the editor.)

It’s always fun when researching a post for A View to Hugh that I run across information that answers a question about a previous post.  Here’s the story behind one of those posts.

In early December 2008 I suggested to Elizabeth Hull that since UNC’s football team was going to a bowl, it might be nice to look back at Carolina’s first bowl game in 1947.  AT THE TIME, I believed that Hugh Morton had traveled to New Orleans for the 1947 Sugar Bowl game, because I had seen Morton photographs of “The Cat Girl,” and based on the following two sources I believed that “The Cat Girl” photographs were taken during the ’47 Sugar Bowl trip:

  1. Starting on page 21 of the Bob Quincy and Julian Scheer 1958 book, Choo Choo: The Charlie Justice Story, there is an entire chapter devoted to the ’47 Sugar Bowl game, and there is this quote:  “(New Orleans) had never been confronted . . . with such rowdy partisans as the visiting forces from Georgia and North Carolina those few days before the Sugar Bowl game of 1947. . . . A number of Tar Heels became students of architecture during this sojourn, chiefly that of the Cat Girl, a lady of unusual structure who was on exhibit each night in the French Quarter.
  2. On page 53 of Bob Quincy’s 1973 book, They Made the Bell Tower Chime, there is a one-page profile of UNC fullback Walt Pupa and the ’47 Sugar Bowl with this quote: “Dinner at Antoine’s.  A march down Canal Street.  The Cat Girl and her exotic dance of soft, graceful muscle power.  A disturbing loss to Georgia.”

Both books had “The Cat Girl” at the ’47 Sugar Bowl on January 1st, 1947 and since Pupa graduated in June of 1947, he was not on the team at the 1949 Sugar Bowl.
I was really surprised when Elizabeth told me she could not find any Morton photographs from that ’47 game.

“What about the ‘Cat Girl’ shots,” I asked?

Elizabeth said they were in an envelope just labeled “Cat Girl” with no date.  What happened to Morton’s shots of the game?  He was there . . . we have the “Cat Girl” shots . . . .

Well, we did the post and worked around the missing photos and included as part of the post the Sugar Bowl 50th anniversary trip for which we did have Morton photos.  Morton’s ’47 Sugar Bowl pictures were just missing.  We made several guesses, but there were no definitive answers.

Fast forward to April, 2010, when I’m researching another V2H post and run across an article by Chuck Houser called, “The Cat Girl” in the Mid-Winter, 1950 issue of Tarnation magazine with this:

A lot of different people will remember a lot of different things about New Orleans and the ill-fated Sugar Bowl trip of (December) 1948.  But one thing all of them will remember is a diminutive French Quarter night club dancer who goes by the name of Miss Lilly Christine—‘The Cat Girl.’  Two years ago (December, 1946), when loyal Tar Heels first invaded the wrought-iron balcony-lined streets of the fabulous city of New Orleans to see another ill-fated Sugar Bowl game, they all came back with one name on the tips of their tongues—‘Stormy,’ a sultry stripper whose real handle was Stacie Laurence.

When those same football fans returned to New Orleans last month, they headed for the French Quarter to take another look at ‘Stormy’ divesting herself of her costume.

But ‘Stormy’ didn’t live there anymore.  ‘Stormy’ was married to an ex-newspaper columnist from the Crescent City and was very busily pregnant over the New Year holidays.  As a substitute, all good Tar Heels soon discovered Lilly Christine, ‘The Cat Girl,’ who didn’t take any of her clothes off, since she wasn’t wearing enough to put in your hip flask to begin with.”

So . . . “The Cat Girl” was not seen during the 1947 Sugar Bowl trip after all.  It was the 1949 Sugar Bowl trip and there are dozens of Morton photos from that game.
I still thought that Morton went to the ’47 Sugar Bowl, but now the photos that I was sure were from ’47 were really from ’49.

Fast forward once again.  I was researching a post about Morris Mason and was looking through some game programs from 1992, the year he passed away.  During the ‘92 season, the UNC athletic department invited a guest columnist to write an essay in each of the home football game programs.  On October 17, 1992, for the UNC–UVA game, the guest was Hugh Morton.  His essay looked back on his career shooting UNC football photographs and about half way through the piece Morton wrote:

Carl Snavely and his distinguished crew took Carolina to the Sugar Bowl in 1947 and 1949 and to the Cotton Bowl in 1950.  I missed the 1947 Sugar Bowl against Georgia because bad flying weather diverted some other Tar Heel rooters and me to St. Petersburg instead of New Orleans.  The Sugar Bowl that I covered was New Year’s Day 1949 against Oklahoma.

Mystery solved!  Not only was Lily Christine not at the 1947 Sugar Bowl, Hugh Morton wasn’t either.

[Editor's question: Is there a new mystery now posed? Can anyone imagine Hugh Morton not photographing in St. Petersburg? The finding aid lists no images!]

So I then diverted my research to the ’47 Sugar Bowl weather.  I checked the Greensboro papers and there are several stories about the weather and people being stranded at airports.  There is a photograph of Greensboro Tar Heel fans holding their tickets while listening to the game on the radio.  A January 1st Greensboro Daily News headline reads:
“Bowl Tickets Plentiful—Weather Keeps Fans Home.”  There is also a magazine story in the January 11, 1947 issue of The State (pages 3-6, and continued on 18-20) written by Carl Goerch, titled “A Trip to the Sugar Bowl.”  The story tells how Goerch and a group of six Tar Heel fans started out for New Orleans, but due to bad weather wound up in Jacksonville at the Gator Bowl.

Looking back, there were two red flags that should have questioned Morton’s being at the ’47 game:

  • The 1947 pregame photos that appeared in the Greensboro papers were credited to Orville Campbell.
  • A Morton slide show during graduation/reunion weekend on May 13, 1989 put his “Cat Girl” photos in with the ’49 Sugar Bowl shots.

I didn’t catch either one at the time.  I was so sure that Morton was at the ’47 game that two V2H comments that I made (4/10/08  &  2/18/09) were based on what I thought I knew.

So that’s the story of Hugh Morton at the 1947 Sugar Bowl game—a game that he didn’t attend.

A follow-up to a previous post: Back on August 16th, Jack offered the following UNC football / Charlie Justice trivia question in his post on Morris Mason: What year did Charlie Justice complete his final pass to Art Weiner on the field at Kenan Stadium?  As you might imagine, it was a trick question.  We had no takers, so here’s the answer: November 17, 1973.  For a photograph of the event, see The University Report (second picture down on page 9 at http://www.carolinaalumnireview.com/carolinaalumnireview/ur197312#pg8).

A game fit for a queen . . . but no joy for Sunny Jim

On Saturday, November 24th the football teams for the University of North Carolina and the University of Maryland will meet for the 70th time.  In light of Maryland’s recent decision to leave the Athletic Coast Conference, however, the two will meet far fewer times in the future.   Of the sixty-nine previous games, thirty-four of them have been played away from Chapel Hill and one of those games stands out from all the others.  It made front-page news as well as sports-page news and is often called “The Queen Game.”  Morton collection volunteer Jack Hilliard takes a look back at that special Carolina–Maryland game.

Queen Elizabeth seated during the UNC Maryland football game, 1957On September 30th, 1957, Buckingham Palace released the itinerary for Queen Elizabeth’s visit to Canada and the United States.  The visit was to include military and diplomatic ceremonies; luncheons, receptions, and dinners; a visit to an art gallery; religious services; and at the queen’s special request, a college football game.  The United States State Department selected the game between the University of Maryland, coached by Tommy Mont, and the University of North Carolina, coached by Jim Tatum.

During the time between this official announcement and the queen’s arrival in Canada on October 12th, an event of epic proportions took place: the Soviet Union launched an artificial earth satellite on October 4th, 1957.  The satellite would become known as Sputnik I, and the space race was on.  The queen’s visit temporarily took a backseat.

Nonetheless, on October 12th Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip’s four-engine DC7C landed at Uplands Air Base in Ottawa at 4:21 PM (EDT), four minutes ahead of schedule on its thirteen and a-half-hour flight from London.  As the doors opened at 4:30 (the scheduled time), a Royal Canadian Air Force band played “God Save the Queen.”  As the 31-year-old queen stepped from the plane, a tremendous cheer went up from the 30,000 gathered for her arrival.  Canada’s Governor General Vincent Massey and Prime Minister and Mrs. John Diefenbaker offered the official welcome.

After four days in Canada, it was off to the United States with a stop at the Jamestown Festival, held near Williamsburg, Virginia to celebrate the 350th anniversary of the founding of the first permanent English colony in America.  The next stop was Washington, D.C. with President and Mrs. Eisenhower welcoming the royal party.

Saturday, October 19, 1957, was a blustery, chilly 54-degree day.  Queen Elizabeth attended a 9:40 AM special reception at the British Embassy, then lunched with President and Mrs. Eisenhower.  Following lunch, it was game time and the queen and prince boarded one of President Eisenhower’s bubble-top Lincolns for the 10-mile, 45-minute ride to Byrd Stadium in College Park, Maryland.

It would be a football event like no other.  Fourteenth-ranked North Carolina would be a two-touchdown favorite, and the game would mark UNC head coach Jim Tatum’s return to the home stadium where he coached for nine years and led Maryland to a national championship in 1953.

There were reports that the game would be televised under the NCAA’s sellout rule, but ACC Commissioner Jim Weaver noted that Maryland had already made its two TV appearances for the year, so the folks back in North Carolina would only get a radio broadcast.

43,000 fans packed Byrd Stadium along with 480 accredited news personnel—which included Hugh Morton, and Life magazine’s Alfred Eisenstaedt, Hank Walker, and Edward Clark.  Also there were Jimmy Jeffries of the Greensboro Record and Don Sturkey of the Charlotte ObserverMorton made several photographs during the festivities.  At one point during the excitement, Morton turned his camera on the other photographers.

Photographers at UNC vs Maryland football game, 1957

Sports photographers on sidelines of during the UNC versus Maryland football game, attended by Queen Elizabeth II. The photographers are most likely photographing the queen. Photographer on right with balding head is LIFE staff photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt.

With 300 security personnel (Scotland Yard and FBI included) in place, at 2:10 PM, 20 motorcycles appeared at the field house end of the stadium followed by the queen and Prince Philip.  The royal party took a lap around the stadium and then took seats in a special box at the 50-yard line on the Carolina side of the field.  Already in place were University of Maryland President Dr. and Mrs. Wilson Elkins, Maryland governor Theodore R. McKeldin and wife Dorothy, British secretary Selwyn Lloyd, UNC president William C. Friday, and North Carolina governor Luther H. Hodges, who was on his way back home from a week of industry seeking in New York.  Mrs. Hodges and son, Luther, Junior had flown up from North Carolina that morning. [Editor's note: there is some photographic evidence to suggest that Morton may have been part of the governor's trip to New York City.  We are investigating!]

When the queen and her party were seated, the 420-member University of Maryland band took the field and put on quite a show along with the Maryland card section, which formed the letters “ER.”

Then, it was time for the teams’ co-captains to be introduced: Maryland’s Gene Alderton and Jack Healy, and Carolina’s Buddy Payne and Dave Reed.  Each team presented the queen a special gift—Maryland gave her a game ball and UNC gave her the special coin used to start the game.  Governor Hodges presented her with a miniature statue of Sir Walter Raleigh.

Luther Hodges holding Raleigh statueQueen Elizabeth receives Raleigh statue from HodgesThen it was time for the game.  As the teams lined up for the kickoff, the queen turned to Governor McKeldin and asked, “How many men on a team?”

“Eleven on each side,” he replied.

Late in the first quarter, Tar Heel halfback Daley Goff rushed 11 yards for a touchdown, much to the delight of the estimated 5,000 Tar Heels on hand.  The touchdown set off a celebration that concluded with the Carolina band playing “Dixie,” which brought Governor Hodges to his feet. The 7-0 score remained through the second quarter.

The Carolina band performed at halftime and proclaimed the “North Carolina Parade of Industries,” followed by another rendition of “Dixie.”  The queen joined in the applause, as the sun broke through the clouds. The Maryland card section formed the Union Jack.

At the 4:11 mark of the third quarter, Maryland quarterback Bob Rusevlyan scored on a one-yard sneak tying the score at 7-7.  Then in the fourth quarter, Maryland took the lead on an 81-yard touchdown run by halfback Ted Kershner.  The hometown crowd went wild . . . the Queen managed a smile.  Soon after, Maryland fullback Jim Joyce put the game away with a 13-yard touchdown run making the final score 21 to 7.

Following the game, Coach Mont was congratulated by Coach Tatum at midfield, then got a shoulder ride from his team up to the royal box.  The queen extended her hand and said, “Wonderful, just wonderful.”  Prince Philip added, “Very wonderful.”  Said Coach Mont, “Listen, I’ll revel in this one the rest of my life.”

And a long, long way from all the royal excitement, at the far end of the stadium, North Carolina Head Coach Jim Tatum began the long, slow walk to the locker room, his hands in his pockets, his head bowed.  He never got to meet the Queen.  The headline in the High Point Enterprise on October 20th read: “We Blew It,” Says ‘Not-So-Sunny’ Jim.  Less than two years, on July 23, 1959, Jim Tatum died tragically at the age of 46.  With his death, the hopes of UNC’s big-time football died also.

On Sunday, October 20, 1957, the queen and Prince Philip attended religious services at Washington’s National Cathedral, and on Monday the 21st they arrived in New York by train for a visit to the United Nations and to lunch with New York City mayor Robert Wagner.  On October 22nd, Queen Elizabeth concluded her first trip to the United States as queen and the royal party flew back to London.

A “Wrist Watch” From Another Era

It was Friday, March 9, 2012 during the Atlantic Coast Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament in Atlanta that UNC’s starting forward John Henson injured his left wrist.  Nine days later at the NCAA Tournament in Greensboro, Tar Heel point guard Kendall Marshall fractured his right wrist.  Carolina’s March Madness had suddenly turned to March Sadness, but media coverage for the Tar Heel stars continued through the NCAA Tournament with lots of ink and airtime.  This, however, was not the first time a Tar Heel star had been the subject of a “wrist watch.”  Morton collection volunteer Jack Hilliard takes a look back at another “watch” from the 1950s.

Charlie Justice and Orvile Campbell at 1952 UNC vs Texas football gameIt had been four years and two days since the University of Texas had played a game in Kenan Stadium, when the they came to Chapel Hill on September 27, 1952.  Many Tar Heel fans still remembered that day in 1948 when Charlie Justice and Art Weiner led the Heels over the Longhorns 34 to 7, so when Justice and his friend Orville Campbell entered the Carolina Section of Kenan on this day, he was mobbed by still-adoring fans.  They immediately noticed the cast on Justice’s left wrist and wanted to know the story behind it. Justice and Campbell were finally able to get to their seats, where Hugh Morton came up from his sideline position to photograph his two friends.  As the Justice fans settled down and returned to their seats, the wrist injury was still a topic of conversation.

Charlie Justice’s 1952 season with the Washington Redskins, according to most media outlets, was to be his breakout season.  He had played in eight games during his 1950 rookie season without the benefit of training camp, and had averaged 4.8 yards per carry.  Still, Sundays in Washington were nothing like Saturdays had been in Chapel Hill.  For the 1951 season, Justice came back to Chapel Hill to assist his former coach Carl Snavely.

In an interview with Howard Criswell, Jr. of The Rocky Mount Sunday Telegram on June 22, 1952, Justice said, “When I was with the Redskins before, there were 18 rookies on the team.  But this will be the third year for most of them.  We ought to have a good team.”  So ’52 was to be “the one.”

On July 21st Charlie departed for training camp at Occidental College in Los Angeles.  An early report in the Washington Post said that on his third play from scrimmage in practice on day one, he scored on an 80-yard touchdown run.  It looked like the pundits were right—’52 would be the year.

The first preseason game against the San Francisco 49’ers proved to be an all San Francisco show with Joe Perry scoring four 49’ers touchdowns in a 35-0 rout.

Then came the 8th Annual Los Angeles Times Charity game with the Rams before 87,582 fans in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on August 21, 1952—a game Charlie Justice fans will forever remember.  On that Thursday night, Charlie Justice had runs of 49, 53, and 63 yards.  He gained a total of 199 yards in 11 carries, a Coliseum record.  But on the final run, Rams’ defensive safety Herb Rich threw Charlie out of bounds and broke his left wrist.  The Redskins lost 45 to 23.

In an interview following the game, Justice said:  “I tried to straight-arm Rich and I never should have done it.  It was the first time I ever tried to do it in my whole football career.”  Redskins’ owner George Preston Marshall was irate.  Following the game he rushed into the dressing room and headed straight for Charlie.

“I’ve told you a thousand times,”  Marshall railed, “if you see you’re cornered, if you see you’re gonna be hit, get out of bounds.  Don’t take the punishment.  You’re worth too much money to me . . . why didn’t you get out of bounds?”

Justice in pain and without thinking answered, “Mr. Marshall, the backfield coach [Jerry Neri] told me to stiff-arm him and push him off.”

Marshall’s quick reply: “ Who the h— pays your salary?”

“You do, Mr. Marshall,” said Justice.

“Well, you listen to me.”

Three days later, Backfield Coach Jerry Neri, had taken another job with another team.  Paul Zimmerman, Sports Editor of the Los Angeles Times, wrote in his column following the game:

As long as football lives—and if the college presidents let it alone that will be forever—Los Angeles fans will never forget the exhibition of ball carrying by Charlie (Choo Choo) Justice.  It was tragic indeed that he should suffer a broken wrist, after one of the most remarkable running performances ever displayed in major league competition.

John B. Old, writing in the Los Angeles Herald-Express on August 22nd said: “Ram rookies and veterans alike got quite a lesson in ball packing from Charlie Choo Choo Justice, the North Carolina flash. . . . Before he went out in the third quarter with a broken wrist, Justice was a one-man riot.”  Rams’ head coach Joe Stydahar said in his post-game interview, “Justice was simply great.  He takes off like a jack-rabbit and is very shifty, too.”  And Dick Kaplan, writing in The Asheville Citizen in October of 1961, said “Charlie ran wild.  He gave perhaps the greatest display of running ever seen in the West in one of the epic performances of grid annals.”

Soon after the injury, Justice temporally left the team and headed home to Charlotte, but rejoined the team in San Antonio on September 3rd.  George Preston Marshall continued to pay Charlie his salary, but since he would be out of action on the field for about six weeks, he was placed in the broadcast booth with Mel Allen and Jim Gibbons starting with the game against Green Bay in Kansas City, Missouri on September 14th.  It was on to Norman, Oklahoma for a game with the Lions on September 20th and then a much-needed break.  Justice once again headed back to North Carolina and was thus available to visit Orville Campbell in Chapel Hill for the UNC-Texas game on the 27th. Following the game, Justice was off to Chicago for a Monday night game with the Cards, followed by a road game in Milwaukee with the Packers.

Finally on October 12, 1952, almost seven weeks after his injury, Justice was ready to return to action, but it was slow going: 23 yards on six carries and a 33 yard kickoff return that day against the Chicago Cardinals is all he was able to do.

Following the game, in an interview with Greensboro Daily News reporter Irwin Smallwood, Justice said, “I can’t rotate my wrist yet.  It’s hard to clutch passes on the run.  It will be all right by next week, though.  Maybe I can score and be a little help to the team by then.”  By November 2nd when the Pittsburgh Steelers came to Washington, Justice was back to form and caught a 13-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Eddie LeBaron.

The Redskin games with the Cleveland Browns were always special and the game on November 30th was no exception.  Hugh Morton joined 22,769 fans in old Griffith Stadium for this one.  Morton was able to renew old friendships with Eddie LeBaron, Otto Graham, and of course Justice.  His sideline picture of Justice and LeBaron has been widely published and is on the front cover of his 1988 book, Making a Difference in North Carolina.

Eddie Lebaron and Charlie Justice

Washington Redskins Eddie Lebaron and Charlie Justice

With two games remaining in the ’52 season, the Redskins were in last place of the NFL’s American Conference; those two games, however, could play an important role in the Conference championship.  A Redskins’ win on December 7th sent the New York Giants packing.  Washington play-by-play announcer Mel Allen said Justice had his best game of the season against the Giants. And then it was down to one game: the Redskins vs. the Philadelphia Eagles on December 14th.  With less than a minute remaining the score was tied at 21, Redskins with the ball at the Eagle 27-yard line.  With the clock running, LeBaron pitched out to Justice around the right side.  As I watched on TV, the play looked just like so many I had seen in Kenan.  When Justice was finally on the ground, the ball was at the one-yard line.  Now there was 18 seconds left in the ’52 season . . . 22,468 fans on their feet . . . and LeBaron took the ball into the line for the 27 to 21 win.  The Eagles had been eliminated from playoff competition.  For Justice it was a fitting ending to a season that had started with so much promise, but fate had stepped in along the way and prevented that predicted breakout season.  Once again, the writers and broadcasters said maybe 1953 will be that magic season for Charlie Justice.  They were right . . . ’53 was the one.

And as for that Carolina–Texas game, sixty years ago . . . even with Justice and Campbell cheering and Art Weiner on the sidelines with Coach Snavely . . . even with the Elizabeth City High marching band joining the Marching Tar Heels . . . and even with the UNC students waving Confederate flags . . . the Tar Heels lost to the Longhorns 28 to 7 before a near-capacity shirt-sleeved Kenan Stadium crowd.

“The Man” in Kenan Fieldhouse

Any UNC football player who came through the program between 1927 and 1973 will tell you Morris Mason “ran the place.”  He was there when Carolina played its first game in historic Kenan Stadium and he never missed a game there during his 46-year career.
If you look at a roster of the all-time lettermen under the letter “M” you will see “Mason, Morris . . . Honorary.”

September 10, 2012 marks the 20th anniversary of Mason’s death.  Morton volunteer Jack Hilliard takes a look back at the life and times of Morris Mason on the UNC campus.

UNC football equipment manager Morris Mason, 1958

UNC football equipment manager Morris Mason being hoisted by Don Kemper (#84) and other players after UNC's 26 to 7 win over Wake Forest in Kenan Stadium, October 25, 1958.

“He walked in the shadow of heroes and became one himself.”  —UNC Sports Information Director, Jack Williams, 1973

October 25, 1958 was band day at Kenan Stadium.  Guest conductor Joseph B. Fields, UNC class of 1953, led 3,379 student musicians from 52 high schools from across North Carolina in a spectacular halftime performance, during the 54th meeting between the Tar Heels from Carolina and the Demon Deacons from Wake Forest.  When the music stopped and the dust had settled on the Kenan turf, Carolina had won the game 26 to 7.

Following an ACC game like this one, somebody often gets a shoulder ride by the winning team. Who got the ride on this beautiful Chapel Hill afternoon?  Was it UNC quarterback Jack Cummings who completed a 55-yard touchdown pass to John Schroeder, or was it Schroeder?  Was it Wade Smith who crafted an electrifying 62-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter?  Was it Head Coach Jim Tatum who got his 12th win since returning to UNC?  Or was it Joseph Fields, the band director from Asheboro High, who entertained 35,000 fans at halftime?

The answer: none of the above.  The Carolina players lofted longtime equipment manager Morris Mason to their shoulders and paraded him to the middle of the field.  Hugh Morton was in place to document the celebration.

It was Labor Day, 1927, when UNC Athletic Director Robert Fetzer hired Morris Mason as fieldhouse custodian.  He soon became equipment manager, trainer, team “valet,” father figure, and unschooled psychiatrist.  He continued in all those positions until July 1, 1974 when he officially retired.

Mason had been a part of every Carolina win and loss in Kenan since its beginning in 1927—and he never missed a game, home or away, going back to 1928. In all, he was an important part of 451 Carolina football games.

“I almost missed one game when one of my relatives died,” Mason recalled in a 1973 interview.  “But I hurried from the funeral to the game and made it before the kickoff.”
He also had a near-miss during a road trip to Virginia.

“I went to sleep on the train and didn’t wake up until the train was pulling into Washington, DC.  But they put me on the next train going back toward Charlottesville and I got there in time to help unload all the equipment.”

Mason loved to travel with the team and he made every road trip starting with the ‘28 season.

“I’ve been to the Sugar Bowl, the Cotton Bowl, the Gator Bowl, the Peach Bowl, the Sun Bowl and even to the Oyster Bowl,” he said with his unique smile beaming.

In his 46 seasons at Carolina, Morris Mason worked with nine different coaches during eleven coaching changes and was on the athletic department payroll for more than 17,000 days.  In 1968, former Tar Heel players and coaches showed their thanks by presenting Mason with a new car in a special ceremony at halftime of the Carolina–Duke basketball game.  Also, as part of the tribute, he was given a plaque which reads:

With deep gratitude for sharing the joys of our victories and suffering the pain of our losses through the years. . . .

The plaque is signed by more than 200 former players and well-wishers.  Included in that list: Mister Justice, Mister Weiner, Mister Hanburger, and Mister Willard.  Morris Mason always referred to Tar Heel players as “Mister.”

Charlie Justice, Morris Mason, and others at UNC Homecoming game, 1973

UNC All-America players Charlie Justice (left) and Art Weiner (right) of Greensboro are seen with team trainer Morris Mason (second from left), who retired after 46 years, and UNC Athletic Director Homer Rice at the 1973 homecoming game in Chapel Hill on November 17.

November 17, 1973 was a cool, pleasant homecoming day at Kenan Stadium.  In addition to the homecoming game with Wake Forest, the Justice Era players held one of their reunions and the day also marked the final game for Morris Mason.  He was introduced on the field, to the delight of the 37,500 fans, with Justice, Weiner, and Athletic Director Homer Rice.  Following Carolina’s 42-to-0 win, he was presented the game ball.  Said Head Coach Bill Dooley, “Our players rode Morris Mason off the field on their shoulders and gave him the game ball.  That was a fine tribute to a fine gentleman.”

After his official retirement on July 1, 1974, Mason got to fulfill a longtime wish.  During the 1974 season he got to watch a Carolina football game from the stands.  Although retired, Morris Mason continued to be an important part of the UNC football program.  I recall during graduation/reunion weekend in May of 1989, Hugh Morton and former UNC end Bob Cox put together a slide show and panel discussion about the late 1940s.  When Morris Mason was introduced, there was a standing ovation in Memorial Hall.

A little over three years later, on September 12, 1992, a somber crowd of 48,500 filed into  Kenan Stadium for an evening game against Furman.  Morris Mason had passed away two days before on September 10th.  Football Saturdays in Chapel Hill would never be the same.  When Charlie Justice got the news that Mason had died, he traveled to Chapel Hill and spent the next two days in the Mason home consoling those left behind.

Over the years, reporters would often ask Mason to name his favorite player during his 46 years in the Carolina locker room.

But the answer was always the same: this player was good or that player was great, but he would never name a favorite.  However, shortly before his death, when asked the question he said, “Mister Justice was a great ball player.  Maybe the greatest.  And he is a wonderful man, too.  He didn’t try to be a big star off the field. He was just one of the fellows.”

As the fans filed out of Kenan on September 12th, the Carolina blue sky from earlier in the day had turned into a full Carolina moon beaming down.  Said one Tar Heel alumna,  “that’s Morris’ smile beaming down on us.”

On Wednesday, September 16, 1992, Morris Mason was laid to rest in Shriners Cemetery in Durham.  Mister Justice was scheduled to offer a eulogy to his old friend but was too choked with emotion to speak.

Legendary sports writer Furman Bisher described Mason as “one of the most lovable persons I have ever known in sports.  He was more than an equipment manager, he was a wonderful friend.”

UNC All America end, Art Weiner, in an interview following Mason’s memorial service, said:
“Morris knew everybody.  From the first day you arrived on campus as a freshman, he knew your name.  And when you’d come back years later, he always remembered your name.”

Morris Mason will forever be remembered by the Tar Heel faithful. His name in gold letters over the Kenan equipment room door will forever be a reminder.