In recognition of greatness

Today’s post comes from contributor Jack Hilliard with breaking news from today. Hugh Morton with camera during UNC basketball game

“The purpose of the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame is to honor those persons who by excellence of their activities in or connected with the world of sports have brought recognition and esteem to themselves and to the State of North Carolina.”

On December 2, 1974 at Greensboro’s Royal Villa, the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame staged its twelfth annual awards banquet.  Hall President Woody Durham was Master of Ceremonies.  On that Monday evening, UNC’s great All America end Art Weiner was introduced by his friend Hugh Morton.  It is the custom for each inductee to present to the hall a memento or two of his or her career in sports.  In addition to the 1949 Carolina–Duke game ball, Weiner presented an enlarged, framed, color photograph of himself and UNC Head Football Coach Carl Snavely, taken during the 1949 season by Hugh Morton.

On May 2, 2013, when the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony will be staged at the Raleigh Convention Center, eleven new inductees will be added to the list of 289 legendary sports figures at the 50th annual banquet.

Among those new inductees will be a man who has been associated with the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame since it all began in 1962.  He was on the first board of directors, was vice president in 1974, and president in 1975—and probably attended more induction ceremonies over the years than anyone else.  And yes he photographed them as well because his name is Hugh Morton.

When the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame inducts its Class of 2013, Hugh Morton will take his rightful place among the honorees.  Joining Morton on that evening will be Kelvin Bryant, Wade Garrett, Bill Guthridge, Tommy Helms, Marion Kirby, Rich McGeorge, Bob Quincy, Marty Sheets, and Mildred Southern.

Hugh Morton dominated the state of North Carolina for seventy years as the Dean of Photographers, and photographing sports was his passion.  Whether it be a game with his beloved UNC Tar Heels, or NC State, Duke, or Wake Forest, Morton was there for the big ones. His photographic portfolio has been captured in four major books and the entire body of his work is now a part of the North Carolina Collection at Wilson Library on the UNC campus. His images of hall members have become familiar to sports fans across the Tar Heel state: Dean Smith, Dale Earnhardt, Michael Jordan, Charlie Justice, Richard Petty, Bones McKinney, Wallace Wade, “Peahead” Walker, Billy Joe Patton, Jim Beatty, and “Ace” Parker.  Morton became close friends with many of the Hall of Famers, and he not only photographed them on the field or court, but he also took images of them away from the game.

So come this spring, Hugh McRae Morton will join his buddies Dean, Dale, Michael, Charlie, Richard, Bones and a couple hundred others in the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame.  An honor truly deserved.

I wonder what the Morton family will offer as Hugh’s memento to the Hall?  Would you believe a photograph or two?

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.

Big Shoes to Fill

George Barclay

George Barclay, UNC's head football coach from 1953-1955.

Today’s post comes from contributor Jack Hilliard.

When Larry Fedora and the 2012 Tar Heels take the field at Kenan Stadium on September 1st, expectations will be high.  The Tar Heel faithful will be looking to Fedora to bring UNC football back to that special place where Carl Snavely had the team in 1948 and where Jim Tatum was headed in 1959.  It won’t be easy, but Fedora is not the first UNC head football coach to face this kind of situation.

The Cotton Bowl played in Dallas on January 2, 1950 marked the final game of UNC’s “Charlie Justice Era.”  The following season, head coach Carl Snavely was left with a “just average” Carolina football team.  In ’50 and ’51 his teams were able to win only five games and lost to Duke twice.  In the spring of ’52 he brought in George Barclay, head coach at Washington and Lee, as an assistant.  Tar Heel fans will remember Barclay as UNC’s first All America player in 1934, coached by Snavely.

The ’52 season wasn’t any better with only two wins, including another loss to Duke.  Following the season, the UNC Athletic Council made a coaching change; on December 2nd, head coach Carl Snavely submitted his resignation.

The Athletic Council took its time in naming Snavely’s successor.  Several names were rumored to be in the mix, including Jim Tatum.  Tatum had been the head coach in 1942, but since 1947 had been building a powerhouse at Maryland.  Finally on January 23, 1953 the Athletic Council, with the backing of the Board of Trustees and Chancellor Robert B. House, named Snavely assistant George Thomas Barclay the new coach and gave him a three year contract.  Much was expected from the Tar Heel alumnus.

Barclay hit the ground running, winning his first three games during the ’53 season, but when Maryland came to town on October 17th the wheels came off and the Heels lost the next five games—and then lost the final game of the season to Duke.  The result was not much better than the final seasons under Snavely.  1954 and ’55 produced only seven wins and two more losses to Duke.  A coaching change was in the wind again and this time they got Jim Tatum.  Tatum brought in Jim Hickey, head coach at Hampden-Sydney as an assistant.  Tatum was well on his way to bringing the program back when he suddenly died on July 23, 1959.

Jim Hickey

"Jim Hickey, UNC football team, 1962"

The Athletic Council took only four days to select Tatum’s successor.  At 5:40 PM on July 27, 1959, Chancellor William B. Aycock with Athletic Director Charles (Chuck) Erickson at his side, made the announcement that Tatum assistant, 39-year-old James (Jim) Hickey would be the new Tar Heel Coach with a three year contract.  In accepting the position, Hickey told a large group of newsmen gathered at The Pines Restaurant, “I appreciate this opportunity.  It is one I have always wanted.  My only regret is the circumstances under which it had to come about.”

Hickey was able to lead the Tar Heels to five wins in his first season, but the thing most Tar Heels like to remember about the ’59 season is that 50 to 0 win at Duke on Thanksgiving Day on national television.  The seasons 1960 through ’62 produced only eleven wins, but Hickey’s high water mark came in 1963 when he led the Heels to nine regular season wins including a 16 to 14 win over Duke and UNC’s first Atlantic Coast Conference championship.  The season was capped with a 35 to 0 win over Air Force in the Gator Bowl.  The bowl win was another first for the Tar Heels.  Hickey continued as Carolina’s head coach through the 1966 season, but was never able to top the heroics of 1963.

Today in 2012, the UNC football program is at another crossroad and Larry Fedora has been selected to carry forward a program steeped in tradition.  The shoes are there to be filled.

Hugh Morton’s first daily newspaper assignment

The previous post on A View to Hugh features a Hugh Morton photograph of Grandfather Mountain, published without credit on the cover of the 8 March 1941 issue of The State.  As the blog post revealed, I suspect the photograph dates from 1940 or earlier, which is relatively early in Morton’s career as a photographer.  January of that year saw Morton beginning his second semester as a freshman at UNC.  His camera had been stolen shortly after arriving on campus in the autumn of 1939, and it was not until sometime around January or February 1940 that he bought his next camera.  So, I wondered, “How early in his career would that have been?”  Today’s exploration unravels an uncertainty and mystery that I didn’t even have until two days ago.

This is an important photograph in Morton’s career.  At the time he made it, Morton was a UNC student with a summertime job as the photography counselor at Camp Yonahnoka.  Here’s one of his accounts about the photograph, quoted from the preface of his 2003 book Hugh Morton’s North Carolina:

In 1940, at nearby Linville, a fourteen-year-old kid from Tarboro named Harvie Ward embarrassed a lot of adults by winning the prestigious Linville Men’s Golf Tournament.  Burke Davis, sports editor of the Charlotte News, contacted the Linville Club for a photograph of Harvie Ward, and I was called to come up from camp to carry out what was my first photo assignment for a daily newspaper.  Davis liked my Harvie Ward pictures, and this led to many photo assignments for the Charlotte News during my college years at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Because this assignment helped launch Hugh Morton’s career as a news photographer, and the early view of Grandfather Mountain was also likely made in 1940, I wanted to know when the Charlotte News published the Ward photograph(s) (two negatives are extant in the Morton collection) relative to publication of the early Grandfather Mountain view in The State.  I searched the Web for information on the Linville golf tournament and Harvie Ward for 1940, but only found a few bits and pieces—and nothing that said when they played the tournament.  So . . . off to the microfilm room.

I scanned through issues of the Charlotte News, Tarboro’s Daily Southerner, and Rocky Mount’s Evening Telegram published during the “golf-able” summer months through mid September, by which time Morton would have returned to Chapel Hill from Camp Yonahnoka and Ward would have already returned to Tarboro in time for their classes.  Nothing . . . at least not that mentioned Harvie Ward winning the tournament in 1940.

I turned next to Morton’s booklet, Sixty Years with a Camera published in 1996, which I recalled also included the portrait of Ward.  As The Jetsons cartoon dog Astro would say, “Ruh Roh . . . .”

The first picture I took on assignment for a newspaper (the Charlotte News) was of Harvie Ward when he won the 1941 Linville Men’s Golf Tournament.  This was a very competitive event, and it was a surprise to everybody that a 15-year-old kid from Tarboro would win it.

Two different statements of fact.  What to do?  Well, I turned to a different newspaper, the Charlotte Observer and here’s what I found: Harvie Ward didn’t win the Linville Men’s Invitational Tournament in 1939, 1940, 1941, nor 1942.  (I didn’t go further, because Morton was in the army in 1943).  A detailed listing of the entrants in the Charlotte Observer revealed that Ward didn’t enter the 1940 tournament; he did, however, defeat Ed Gravell of Roaring Gap to win the “second flight” of the 1941 tournament.  I also found a congratulatory paragraph in the Daily Southerner on August 4, 1941 “for taking first place in second flight in Linville invitational golf tournament.  Harvie is having great time knocking off the little fellows.”  [For golf historians, Sam Perry emerged victorious in 1939, Charles Dudley won the championship flight in 1940, Hub Covington won the 1941 tournament, and Billy Ireland won the event in 1942.]

To be thorough, I searched for both years (1940 and 1941) through mid September.   There are no photographs of Ward in the Charlotte News.  I now even wonder if the newspaper ever published one of these portraits of Ward by Morton.

So in all likelihood, Hugh Morton had it right the first time in the 1996 booklet: the Harvie Ward, Jr. photographs probably date from 1941.  And here’s some supporting evidence: photographs began appearing in the Charlotte News sports section’s “Pigskin Review” articles with the credit line “News Photos by Hugh Morton” in mid September 1941, which is in agreement with Morton’s statement that the Ward pictures “led to many assignments.”  Morton photographed members of the 1941 football teams of UNC (published September 12th), Duke, (September 13th), NC State (September 15th), and Wake Forest (September 24th), plus two photographs made during and after UNC’s season opener on September 20th against Lenor-Rhyne that featured UNC’s standout running back Hugh Cox.  By comparison, there are no photographs in the newspaper credited to Morton in late summer or early autumn of 1940.

My conclusion? So far, the earliest Morton photograph that I’ve discovered to be published in a non-UNC publication is the early view of Grandfather Mountain.  Now, please tell me why I believe the story probably doesn’t end there?!

In the shadow of Justice

Today, August 16th, UNC’s great All America end Art Weiner celebrates his 86th birthday.  Weiner and teammate Charlie Justice were UNC’s “Touchdown Twins” of the late 1940s.  Justice, the tailback in Coach Carl Snavely’s famous single wing formation got most of the headlines.  Weiner would have received just as many accolades—maybe more—had he been on any other team without Justice.  Hugh Morton collection volunteer Jack Hilliard takes a look back at the Weiner-Justice connection during the golden era of Carolina football.

UNC football team, 1949

Charlie Justice (22) and Art Weiner (50), lead the UNC football team onto the field at Kenan Stadium, 1949.

He was the perfect fit.  Art Weiner, with his wit and sense of humor, was the perfect “Roaster” for a series of Charlie Justice charity roasts during the early 1980s—one in Greensboro for multiple sclerosis, one in Asheville for the Western Carolina Children’s Foundation, and one in Charlotte for juvenile diabetes.  Weiner had tales to tell on his longtime friend and teammate.  A favorite story went something like this:

My mother-in-law never understood all of the hype about Charlie Choo Choo Justice.  She said, “If he’s as good as all the newspaper headlines say he is, why doesn’t he just go out on the field by himself and win the game, and all of you guys can just stand and watch?”

Well, at the 1949 Carolina–Duke game over in Durham I had a great day.  I caught two touchdown passes, and blocked the Duke field goal attempt in the final seconds to save the game.  So, when I got home that night I called my mother-in-law and said, “Be sure and check tomorrow’s paper . . . see who makes the headlines this time.”

Next morning, Weiner rushed out to get the morning paper off the front porch.  He ran inside and opened it up to the sports section and there it was, the headline from Saturday’s game: “Justice Scores One, Passes For Two, Leads Tar Heels Over Duke.”

In the fall of 1946, Art Weiner and Charlie Justice, through one of those quirks of fate that often happens in the world of sports, found themselves together on the practice field in Chapel Hill.  Both had played service football during World War II—Weiner in the Marines and Justice in the Navy.  Both had played in Hawaii.  Immediately they became friends, on and off the playing field.  It was on the field where they made headlines.

Charlie Justice and Art Weiner, 1949

Charlie Justice and Art Weiner, 1949.

The first game of the golden era of Carolina football came against Virginia Tech (called VPI in those days) on September 28, 1946.  On the second UNC series of that game, Weiner caught a 9-yard touchdown pass from Bill Maceyko.  It was Weiner’s first college play.  He went on to score three more times in ’46 despite several injuries.  In 1947 Weiner caught 19 passes for 396 yards, but it was 1948 when he was selected to Grantland Rice’s All America team.

When UNC alums, fans, and friends get together, they often look back at great Carolina wins.  Two games from 1948 almost always come up: the Texas game and the Duke game.  When Texas came to town on September 25th, Weiner had a touchdown on Carolina’s third play from scrimmage, and the Heels went on to win 34 to 7.  In the Duke game, 44,500 fans—in perfect Kenan Stadium weather—saw Weiner catch two touchdown passes: one for 13 yards from Justice, and another for 26 yards from fullback Hosea Rodgers.  It was Justice’s 43-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, however, that made all the headlines.

In addition to the Duke game that he described at the Justice roast, the 1949 season saw Weiner play a great game against NC State and have a fantastic day against the University of Georgia in Chapel Hill catching six passes—two for touchdowns.  He was selected lineman of the week by the Associated Press.  Head Coach Wally Butts, the Hall of Fame Bulldog main man, in an interview following Carolina’s win, said, “Art Weiner is the greatest pass catching end I’ve ever seen.”

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.

Justice talked at length about his friend and teammate in the locker room following the ’49 Georgia game.  “Boy, that Art was terrific today.  Did you see him fake that safety man on the first touchdown?  I almost had to laugh when I threw the ball.  And that last (winning) touchdown?  Why, that was a run which would ordinarily take both a halfback and a fullback to make.  The guy’s terrific.”

Charlie Justice and Art Weiner in locker room

Charlie Justice and Art Weiner shake hands in a locker room after a 1949 UNC football game (negative P0081 6.2.1-1-279, cropped).

Orville Campbell, writing in The Carolina Gridiron magazine, compared Weiner to another great Carolina end, Andy Bershak.  Against NC State, Weiner had seven catches which prompted State Head Coach Beattie Feathers to conclude,  “I’m thankful that I’ll never have to set up another defense to try and stop Weiner and Justice.  They’re uncanny.”

Art Weiner (#50) with ball; NC State Full Back Paul Bruno (#32).

Art Weiner with ball eluding North Carolina State fullback Paul Bruno, 24 September 1949.

When the 1949 season ended, Weiner had 52 catches to lead the nation in receptions.  He was again selected to All America teams and was a unanimous choice for the first annual Senior Bowl game played in Jacksonville’s Gator Bowl on January 7, 1950, where he caught eight passes for 139 yards and was lineman of the game.

Art WeinerIt was not surprising when Weiner was the first round NFL draft pick on January 20, 1950 of the New York Yankees.  (Yes, there was a New York Yankees pro football team in 1950.)  During the ’50 season, he caught 35 passes for 722 yards and 6 touchdowns.  His pro career, however, was cut short by a knee injury.  He coached briefly at Kings Mountain High School, and then joined Burlington Industries as a vice president for manufacturing services where he remained for 23 years.

Although they went their separate ways following their time at UNC, Weiner and Justice remained steadfast friends through the years.  The 1946-49 era UNC players held reunions from time to time, and Weiner and Justice were always there leading the cheers.  There were celebrity golf tournaments . . . there was even a UNC football alumni basketball team called the Carolina Clowns.

When the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame inducted Weiner in 1974, Justice was at the ceremony cheering for his friend.  In June 1981 Art Weiner Travel, Inc. of Greensboro established a branch office in Greenville that was jointly owned by Charlie Justice.  In December 1992 when the National Football Foundation College Football Hall of Fame inducted Art Weiner, Charlie Justice was there in Art’s shadow.  Charlie Justice and Art Weiner made their final appearance together on the field at Kenan Stadium on November 16, 2001 at the Justice Era Reunion.  It would be Charlie’s final visit to Chapel Hill.

Meanwhile . . . back at the roast . . . Weiner asked the question:

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

The young man did a good job.  There are dozens of Justice (and Weiner) action shots—not all of which are online—in the Hugh Morton collection at Wilson Library on the UNC campus.

Here’s a postscript for UNC trivia fans: What year did Charlie Justice complete his final pass to Art Weiner on the field at Kenan Stadium?

The Poetic Prose of Julius Jennings Wade

 A Gentleman by instinct, an athlete by hope, and a genius by nature—this is Julius Jennings Wade.

Yackety Yack (UNC Yearbook), 1923

Today’s post is by A View to Hugh contributor Jack Hilliard, marking the fiftieth anniversary of Jake Wade’s death.

Jim Reid interviewing Jake Wade

Jim Reid (left) of WPTF Radio, Raleigh, interviewing Jake Wade, sports information director at UNC-Chapel Hill in the 1940s-1950s, about the UNC men's football team.

His byline as editor of the Daily Tar Heel was J.J. Wade.  His dear friend Smith Barrier, Sports Editor of the Greensboro Daily News, called him Julius.  Fellow Sports Information Director at Wake Forest, Marvin “Skeeter” Francis, referred to him as Mr. Wade . . . but the entire Tar Heel Nation and countless thousands across the Carolinas and beyond called him Jake—a friend of all who knew him.

Following his graduation in June 1923, Jake Wade took a job writing for the Gastonia Gazette.  He then moved on to similar positions in Raleigh, Fayetteville, Charlotte, Columbia, Pittsburgh, and Greensboro where he did political reporting in addition to his sports work.  By December 1930 he was back in Charlotte as Sports Editor of the Charlotte Observer, a position he would hold for fifteen years.  His first assignment at the newspaper was to interview new Duke Head Football Coach Wallace Wade, who had just left the University of Alabama for the Durham campus.  With the Charlotte Observer‘s circulation of 100,000, “Jake Wade’s Sports Parade” column became an instant hit with its readers.  Charlie Justice, UNC’s great All America football player, once said “if you made Jake Wade’s column, you were almost assured of being selected All State.”  (Justice was mentioned and was selected.)

Wade put together a first-class staff in Charlotte.  In 1936, while covering American Legion Junior Baseball, Wilton Garrison caught Wade’s attention and he brought in Garrison as the assistant sports editor.  Garrison would succeed Wade as sports editor of the Charlotte Observer ten years later.  Among Wade’s other hires was a student at Presbyterian Junior College, then located in Maxton.  The young man was James B. McMillan, who would later make a name for himself as a Golden Gloves boxer, a trial lawyer, and a United States district court judge.  In the 1970s McMillan would preside over the famous Charlotte-Mecklenburg school-busing case.  Another member of Jake Wade’s sports team was a student at Wake Forest College, which was located in Wake County in those days.  The student, whose father was the police chief in Monroe, was named Jesse Helms, Jr.  Of course he later became a radio and TV commentator, and, in 1972, an elected United States Senator from North Carolina.

(A side note:  One of the carriers for the Observer during the late 1930s was a high school kid from Dallas, North Carolina named William Clyde Friday.  Need more be said?)

In addition to his exceptional writing and a mastery of the English language, Jake Wade founded the Charlotte Observer-sponsored Carolina Golden Gloves, and was co-founder of the Charlotte Quarterback Club and the Carolina Boys Baseball Game.

The Charlotte Observer sports section under Wade’s leadership was world class—covering major league and the Charlotte Hornets baseball teams, the great and not so great boxing of the 1930s, and football of every description.  But Jake Wade was never far removed from his Tar Heels from Chapel Hill.  Case in point: his column following the 1935 UNC-Duke Football game, a game the Tar Heels needed to win for a trip to the Rose Bowl.  Wade titled it “Thorns for Roses,” and it went like this:

Roses are the loveliest of flowers, but ambitious football teams know only their thorns.  Had North Carolina beaten Duke Saturday it is quite likely the Tar Heels would have gone to the Rose Bowl.  And the Tar Heels knew it.  Everybody knew it. . .  Everybody said Carolina would win, and the Chapel athletes must have kept reading it in the papers.  Drinking it in.  Digesting it.  Basking in the glory of it.  Yet the Tar Heels didn’t win.  They didn’t come close.  The Tar Heels were buried deep in the turf, 25 to 0.  So the Tar Heels will get to eat their Christmas dinner at home.  They will not go to the Rose Bowl.  They get only the thorns from the roses, and thorns have no fragrance.  They only stick you.

A great example of Jake Wade’s ability to breathe life into the printed word. His byline was a mark of quality.  (If you would like to read more of his writing, seek out Jake Wade’s Sports Parade: Selected Columns published in 1941.)

UNC Ram mascot "Rameses VI" standing with group of cheering men and women in the lobby of a New York hotel before or after the 11/12/1949 UNC-Notre Dame football game held at Yankee Stadium. Included in the photo are: (front row, left to right) Jake Wade, UNC Sports Information Director; G. B. Cook, (with beard) Rameses' volunteer game handler; Rameses VI; Norman Sper, UNC Head Cheerleader; (2nd Row, far left, with glasses) Robert W. Madry, Director UNC News Bureau. From the cheering faces, it was probably before the game. See http://blogs.lib.unc.edu/ncm/index.php/2008/10/08/unc-versus-notre-dame-footbal/ for more on the game.

After fifteen years of the burden of producing six columns a week and the accompanying long hours, Wade was ready for a career change.  In late 1945, he left Charlotte and headed east to his alma mater, arriving in Chapel Hill in time to celebrate Charlie Justice and the era that bears his name.

Wade picked up where he left off in Charlotte, with a syndicated weekly column as well as a column in each home game football program.  The columns were called “Jake Wade’s Carolina Caravan,” and it included all things Carolina.  He was a newspaperman who enjoyed college life and the honor and privilege of writing his kind of prose about young folks who were stars on the field—on the court and on the campus.  His love of the game, the players, and coaches was a compelling force in his life.  Strangely enough, however, perhaps his most famous “Carolina Caravan” column was not about sports.  It told the story of Chapel Hill, a place that UNC grads love, but only Jake Wade could bring to life on paper.  He called it “A Town Touched by Strange Magic,” and it begins like this:

This is a town touched by strange magic and one to which its peoples, many of them a curious breed, hold a rare and somewhat inexplicable attachment.  Our town has no rivers, no mountains, no seas, but in the spring it is beautiful and in all seasons it is both wonderful and sad, romantic in the spirit of the youth it harbors in the educational process of the great State University, which is the town’s principal industry.

Chapel Hill, where bells wake you in the morning, regardless of whether you live in the Beta house, Cobb dormitory or on Laurel Hill, and where the bells keep ringing periodically the day long, with the chimes taking over the majesty of twilight and on certain important occasions such as the big football games.

Probably no one sports figure ever captured Wade’s imagination more than Charlie Justice.  In 1953 Wade wrote an essay titled “The Man Called Justice.”  In it he said:
“He (Justice) achieved plenty.  I was there, Mister, as sports publicist, and if Justice was a coach’s dream, he was a publicist’s peaches and cream.  I must have written a million words extolling his virtues and dispatched thousands of pictures to newspapers and magazines . . . .”

The essay was accompanied by four Hugh Morton photographs and was published in the “All South Football Annual” at the beginning of the ’53 football season.

During a visit with Charlie and Sarah Justice in 2003, I asked Charlie how he became one of the most widely publicized players in football history without all those ESPN channels and no Saturday “film at 11.”  Said Justice, “I didn’t need all that.  I had Jake Wade writing and Hugh Morton taking pictures.”

On May 8, 1962, Jake Wade finished writing a column about the UNC-Miami tennis match in Chapel Hill which drew 3,500 fans.  He sent it out to his newspapers across the state. It would be his final “Carolina Caravan.”  The following morning, Wade drove his wife to Raleigh to catch a bus to Wrightsville Beach where she would visit her mother.  During the return trip to Chapel Hill, on US 54 about one and a half miles east of Morrisville, Wade had a medical emergency and his car ran off the left side of the highway, traveled about 30 feet into a heavily wooded area and hit a tree.  Wake County Coroner Marshall Bennett determined that Wade had a fatal heart attack. Jake Wade was only 61 years old.  The University community was stunned.  Carolina’s sports voice had been sadly silenced.   Chancellor William B. Aycock said, “We grieve the loss of a fine member of the University family.”  Basketball coach Dean Smith added, “Jake Wade has been a close friend to my family and to me.  In my first year of coaching Jake Wade was the man to whom I looked for advice…I will dearly miss him.”  On May 11, 1962 a memorial service was held at The Church of the Holy Family in Chapel Hill.  Following the service, Jake Wade was laid to rest in the Old Chapel Hill Cemetery.  Members of the UNC athletic staff were pallbearers.

On Saturday, September 22, 1962, Carolina played NC State to begin the football season.  The game program was dedicated to “the great craftsman.”  Thirty years later on May 7, 1992 Julius Jennings Wade was inducted into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame[Editor's note: though the type of event Hugh Morton would photograph, he apparently did not attend the event.  On the same night, his calendar notes "{Charles} Kuralt Dinner—Hound Ears—Spencer."]  As is the Hall of Fame custom, an artifact from each inductee is presented to the Hall for display in the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh.  The Wade family presented the manual typewriter that Jake Wade had used to write his long remembered poetic prose.

Who Am I? . . . Baseball Style

Portrait of UNC baseball player, most likely on campus in Chapel Hill, NC.

Portrait of UNC baseball player, most likely on campus in Chapel Hill, NC.

It has been a very busy week in the office—and a short one at that with a three-day weekend holiday . . . and the library closing thirty minutes from when I started today’s post.  So this will be a short-and-sweet “Who am I?” post in recognition of opening day of Major League Baseball.

Above is a portrait of an unidentified UNC baseball player from the 1940s.  Anyone able to put a name on his uniform?  For those who may be curious, he’s holding a Hillerich & Bradsby Co. Louisville Slugger—a 125 LG Lou Gehrig signature model bat.

Next week will feature another “Who am I?” post . . . and it won’t be sports!