Photographs by Hugh Morton: an Uncommon Retrospective in final weeks at Charlotte Museum of History

Charlotte from Grandfather Mountain

Hugh Morton’s favorite photograph of Charlotte, as seen from near the Mile High Swinging Bridge on Grandfather Mountain approximately 87 air miles away. Morton made the photograph in mid-December after a cold front had cleared the air, providing some very rare visibility.

Photographs by Hugh Morton: an Uncommon Retrospective is currently installed at the Charlotte Museum of History though September 30th.  I will be there this Saturday, the 19th, for my exhibition talk titled “Hugh Morton’s Rise to his Photographic Peak.” at 1:00.  If you are in the neighborhood, please visit the museum and say hello!

The Aggies and the Heels: a short history

Carolina will kick off its 2015 home football schedule on Saturday, September 12th when Head Coach Rod Broadway brings his North Carolina A&T Aggies to Kenan Stadium.  It will be the first meeting between the two schools on the gridiron; the men’s basketball programs, however, have met on the hardwood twice (in 2001 and 2003).  Morton Collection volunteer Jack Hilliard takes a look back at those two meetings.

Curtis Hunter and Matt Doherty, teammates on the UNC 1982-83 and 1983-84 basketball teams, chat as coaches before their teams—North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill—faced off on February 18, 2003 at UNC's Smith Center.  Another photograph of the former Tar Heels talking court-side can be found in the online collection of Morton photographs.

Curtis Hunter and Matt Doherty, teammates on the UNC 1982-83 and 1983-84 basketball teams, chat as coaches before their teams—North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill—faced off on February 18, 2003 at UNC’s Smith Center. Another photograph of the former Tar Heels talking court-side can be found in the online collection of Morton photographs.

Curtis Hunter and Matt Doherty were teammates on UNC Head Basketball Coach Dean Smith’s 1982-83 and 1983-84 teams.  In 2000 each took a head coaching position with teams within the UNC system: Hunter at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University and Doherty at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  As was the custom then, and still today, members of the “Carolina Family” often wind up playing each other.  And that was the case with the Tar Heels and the Aggies.  When the two teams met twice in the Smith Center during the early 2000s, photographer Hugh Morton was there on both occasions to document the games.

It was a homecoming of sorts for North Carolina A&T Head Coach Curtis Hunter on December 27, 2001 when he brought his Aggies into the Smith Center to meet coach Matt Doherty’s Tar Heels.  But Hunter realized that his homecoming would need to take a back seat to getting his 1 and 7 team ready to play Doherty’s 3 and 5 Heels.

In a pre-game interview, Hunter said, “To be honest about it, I hadn’t given (coming back to play at UNC) that much thought.  It really hasn’t hit me yet.  Maybe that will all change once the game starts.”  Just minutes before the tipoff, Hunter did notice an old friend seated close by and went over and offered a long embrace.  It was Angela Lee, wife of former Chapel Hill Mayor Howard Lee.  When Curtis played for the Tar Heels, Angela worked in the basketball office.

Game-action photograph by Hugh Morton (cropped by the editor)  from the 2001 UNC vs. NC A&T contest.  Who are the players in the photograph?  Please leave a comment below if you know!

Game-action photograph by Hugh Morton (cropped by the editor) from the 2001 UNC vs. NC A&T contest. Who are the players in the photograph? Please leave a comment below if you know!

With former UNC head coaches Dean Smith and Bill Guthridge looking on, it didn’t take long for all to see that the Tar Heels had brought their A-game.  They led 52 to 31 at the half and equaled that 52 in the second half with a final score of 104 to 66.  Tar Heel senior Jason Capel led the way with 26 points.  In all, Carolina hit 16 three-point shots—one off the school record and two short of the ACC record at the time.  A&T hit only 37.9 percent from the floor and committed 18 turnovers. In his post game interview, Hunter said, “All I know is that we just got beat by 38 points.  So, it’s up to me to come up with ways to help my team play up to its capabilities.”

But wait . . . Curtis Hunter appears to be wearing the same suit and tie in this photograph as he is in the opening photograph, which we have dated as 2003.  Is that a coincidence, planned or otherwise, or was the opening  photograph also made in 2001?  This image, which is not in the online collection, is from a negative envelope with the following identifying information: UNC vs. NC A&T (plus event at Friday Center Institute; 1 roll), December 2001.  There are five basketball images: two game photographs followed by three podium images.  Another Morton mystery is at hand!

But wait . . . Curtis Hunter appears to be wearing the same suit and tie in this photograph as he is in the opening photograph, which we have dated as 2003. Is that a coincidence, planned or otherwise, or was the opening photograph also made in 2001? This image, which is not in the online collection, is from a negative envelope with the following identifying information: UNC vs. NC A&T (plus event at Friday Center Institute; 1 roll), December 2001. There are five basketball images: two game photographs followed by three podium images. Another Morton mystery is at hand!

While Coach Doherty was pleased with his team’s win, he admitted that beating a former teammate in a blowout is not all that gratifying.  “After the game I said to him, ‘Sorry you caught us on a bad night.’  A month ago it could have been a different story.”
Coach Hunter was asked one final time about his homecoming.  “It still hasn’t hit me yet,” he replied.  “Maybe that will happen next year.”

That “next year” would be February 18, 2003.  The second meeting between UNC and A&T didn’t offer coach Curtis Hunter a happy homecoming either.  His team was winless going into the game, having lost 20 games, while Carolina was 13 and 11.

The Tar Heels took control early and wound up hitting 54 per cent over all.  A&T hit 4 threes and had an overall percentage of 34.9. The Greensboro News and Record described the Carolina effort as a “dunk-a-thon,” adding that they also hit 11 three-point shots.  The final score was UNC 93, A&T 57.

In his post-game interview, Coach Doherty said, “I’m sorry it had to be Curtis Hunter, my old teammate, on the other bench. I have a lot of respect for him.”

A couple of weeks later when the 2002–2003 college basketball season ended, UNC and A&T had a combined win total of 20 games: Carolina was 19 and 16, A&T was 1 and 26.  And by the time the 2003-2004 college basketball season rolled around, both UNC Chapel Hill and North Carolina A&T had new head coaches in place.

The slideshow image Morton didn’t photograph

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

North Carolina is My Home

Charles Kuralt (right) and Loonis McGlohon photographed together by Hugh Morton sometime near the debut of their album titled North Carolina Is My Home.  The photograph appeared in the November 1985 issue of The State accompanying an article written by Charles Heatherly.

Charles Kuralt (right) and Loonis McGlohon photographed together by Hugh Morton sometime near the debut of their album titled North Carolina Is My Home. The photograph appeared in the November 1985 issue of The State accompanying an article written by Charles Heatherly.

On July 4, 1997, North Carolina lost a talented favorite son when Charles Kuralt died in New York City during the early morning hours.  Kuralt is well known for his work in television.  He also wrote and co-wrote about a dozen books, including North Carolina is My Home published in 1986.  Kuralt described that book as “an adapted and expanded and revised and revamped and amended and improved version of a recording about my home state which I wrote with Loonis McGlohon.  I wrote the words, he wrote the music.” 

North Carolina is My Home is also the title of their recording.  In large type on the back of the record jacket, as if it were the album’s subtitle, Kuralt and McGlohon declared the album as “A 400th Birthday Gift To The Tar Heel State.”

Today, on the 31st anniversary of the kickoff of American festivities for the 400th on July 13, 1984, Morton collection volunteer Jack Hilliard and I join forces to take a look at that special birthday present to the state of North Carolina.

“America’s birthday heartache came because we lost one of our heroes that morning—Charles Kuralt.  He was one of us, he believed in us, he loved us.  This rumpled genius taught us that grace, humility, and a time for beauty are, like breathing, life’s essentials.  And life was a joy to be lived and a story to be told.
“He is gone now, but we will remember our champion of humanity—we will always remember.”
— Dr. William Friday, in Commemorative Edition of North Carolina is My Home

It started with a series of telephone calls in early 1983 when North Carolina governor Jim Hunt was planning for the state’s 400th birthday.  Ten years earlier the North Carolina General Assembly created the America’s Four Hundredth Anniversary Committee.  Hunt activated the committee in 1978.  The governor called lots of Tar Heels seeking input for the birthday celebration.  One of those called in 1983 was Charles Kuralt.  As Kuralt pondered the governor’s questions he thought about his old friend, Charlotte musician Loonis McGlohon. who had written the theme music for his CBS television program “On The Road with Charles Kuralt.”

Kuralt telephoned McGlohon.  Kuralt’s section of the book’s introduction begins, “It happened this way . . .” and in it he recalled their conversation going something like this:

  • Kuralt:  I got a call from the Governor.
  • McGlohon:  I know.  So did I.
  • Kuralt:  You got any ideas?
  • McGlohon:  Sure, we’ll make a record.  We’ll give it to all the schools and libraries.
  • Kuralt:  But, I can’t sing.
  • McGlohon:  Right, but you can type.  Start typing.
  • Kuralt:  What’ll I type about?
  • McGlohon:  The mountains, the shore.  Barbecue, moonshine, pine trees, Thomas Wolfe, wild swans, tobacco barns, textile mills, all that stuff.  You know.

So Charles Kuralt began typing what would become a masterpiece.  The first piece to emerge from his typewriter he titled “Roanoke 1584.” Kuralt sent it on its way to McGlohon in Charlotte. McGlohon recalled in his section of the introduction that, “As soon as I read the first page I grabbed a sheet of manuscript paper and headed for the piano to start writing.”  Kuralt noted that from that point forward, he and McGlohon “put the words and music together by letter and by telephone.”

On the record album as published, “Roanoke 1584” is the second track; it begins with music, then Kuralt reads in voice-over:

On a morning in July of the year 1584, two English gentlemen in armor, accompanied by soldiers, well armed, stepped into a small boat from the great ship in which they had crossed the Atlantic. . . . Sunlight flashed from their helmets as their boat was rowed toward shore. . . .

The next piece Kuralt sent to McGlohon was “Backroads and Byways.”  McGlohon’s described that piece as “a bigger challenge.  When you examine Charles’ text on this piece it becomes apparent how much homework and research he did—matching rhymes and turning up little-known anecdotes about the towns and crossroads which North Carolinians call home.”

It also presented McGlohon with a problem.  “Charles, for whatever reason, overlooked my home town, Ayden.  When I wrote him, scolding him for the omission, I included my own bit of homework, rhyming Ayden with Badin and Maiden.  I will take credit for that one line.”

Badin and Ayden
and Maiden and Wise.
Ranger, Granger, Angier and Spies.
Dallas, Frisco and Providence too.
Now where’s the town that’s home to you.

In an interview shortly before his death, Kuralt said the hardest thing about writing is getting started.  With two pieces completed, Kuralt began turning out pages of voice-over text and song lyrics at a rapid rate.  During one of their phone conversations, McGlohon told Kuralt, “North Carolina needs a new state song.  Nobody can sing the old one. So I’ve written a new one.”  He then played it for Kuralt and added, “I’ve got the title: North Carolina is My Home, now you write the rest of the words.”  The song became the title track for the album, which both opens (with vocals by Marlene VerPlank, Mary Mayo, and Jim Campbell) and closes the album (as a “vocal reprise”).

When the music and lyrics were complete, McGlohon invited a group of his musician-friends to the Eras Recording Studio in New York.  Among the group was conductor–arranger Billy VerPlanck, banjo and guitar artist Eric Weisberg, vocalists Marlene VerPlanck, Mary Mayo, and Jim Campbell, along with a select group from the New York Philharmonic. In total, thirty-five musicians contributed to the project.  They recorded their creation between July 16th and 19th, and on the 21st.  Additional material was recorded in Charlotte at Reflection Sound Studio.

Piedmont Airlines produced the album and Charles Heatherly was the project coordinator. A Winston-Salem Journal article noted that Charles Heatherly, Director of Travel and Tourism for North Carolina, made the connection with Piedmont Aviation, Inc. in early 1984.  According to an article Heatherly wrote for the November 1985 issue of The State, Piedmont Airlines funded about $40,000 for the album’s production.

Kuralt and McGlohon finished their masterpiece in time to fall within the state’s official 400th birthday celebration, which lasted from April 27, 1984 to August 18, 1987.  These dates were the 400th anniversaries of the departure of Philip Amandas and Arthur Barlowe Expedition from Plymouth, England and the birth of Virginia Dare.  The album was not, however, an official publication of America’s Fourth Hundredth Anniversary Committee.

North Carolina Is My Home album cover

Two newspapers articles printed on Monday, October 7th state the album had its debut on Sunday, October 6th with a live performance at the Stevens Center at the University of North Carolina School for the Arts in Winston-Salem.  In a Winston-Salem Journal article, Kuralt recalled another snippet from one of his early conversations with McGlohon about their project:

Finally Loonis said, “What we’ll do, we’ll make an album and give it to all the school kids and all the libraries in the state,” and I said, “We will, will we?”

The Burlington Daily Times article was actually about the naming of Howard Cosell to the North Carolina Broadcasters Hall of Fame later that evening, but it included mention of the Kuralt/McGlohon performance. (Morton’s 1985 planner includes both events.)  The album cover features a Hugh Morton photograph, so it comes as no surprise that Hugh Morton was there for both events.  There are three 120-format color negatives of this autumn scene in the Morton collection, but negative used for the album cover is not extant.  Both articles also indicate that the distribution to schools and libraries across the state would be forthcoming.

Here’s the album’s playlist:

SIDE ONE

  1. North Carolina is My Home
  2. Roanoke 1584
  3. Backroads and Byways (Tar Heel Places)
  4. Jazz
  5. Mountain Sampler

SIDE TWO

  1. “…and the Strong Grow Great”
  2. Barbecue Blues
  3. The Farmer
  4. Dinner on the Grounds
  5. Carolina Memories
  6. North Carolina is My Home (vocal reprise)

Currently these songs are available on YouTube.  (Note: they could be removed at any time.)

Charles Kuralt, Loonis McGlohon, and musicians onstage at the Stevens Center in Winston-Salem, NC during a performance of Kuralt and McGlohon's collaborative album of music, narration, and folklore titled North Carolina is My Home.

Charles Kuralt, Loonis McGlohon, and musicians onstage at the Stevens Center in Winston-Salem, NC during a performance of Kuralt and McGlohon’s collaborative album of music, narration, and folklore titled North Carolina is My Home.

North Carolina Is My Home generated interest beyond turntables.  According to McGlohon, “Someone, listening to the album for the first time, said “These words from Charles Kuralt should be in a book to be read and enjoyed over and over.”  McGlohon thought was “a fine suggestion.”  In 1986 East Woods Press in Charlotte published a book with Kuralt’s magnificent lyrics.  Eleven of the book’s approximately seventy-five photographs (it depends on how you count them!) are by Hugh Morton—including a variant view of the scene used on the album cover, but the image is laterally reversed.  (It’s still a classic).  Again, mysteriously, this negative is not in the Morton collection.

Then someone suggested taking the group on the road. Kuralt could certainly identify with that since he had been on the road for CBS News since 1967.  A third printing of the book with a slightly different hard cover fabric in June 1987 also saw the publisher change to The Globe Pequot Press located in Chester, Connecticut. The copyright, however, remained with Fast & MacMillan Publishers.  This printing may likely coincided with book sales at live performances.

Charles Kuralt (left) and Loonis McGlohon posing under sign in Charlotte's Ovens Auditorium at unknown date.

Charles Kuralt (left) and Loonis McGlohon posing under sign in Charlotte’s Ovens Auditorium at unknown date.

The road tour continued with an early 1987 stop at Wright Auditorium on the East Carolina University campus in Greenville.  This concert was unique, because WUNC-TV brought in their TV cameras and videotaped the proceeding, as the East Carolina Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Robert Hause, provided the musical background for Charles, Loonis, and singers.  A performance at Memorial Hall Auditorium at UNC on January 23rd served as a fundraiser for an endowed chair named in honor of Kuralt’s father, Wallace, in the School of Social Work.

The tour rolled into Greensboro on May 28, 1987.  The historic Carolina Theater was the venue and on this evening Steven Karidoyanes and the Greensboro Symphony Orchestra performed with the featured players. Master of Ceremonies for the evening was my dear friend and executive producer at WFMY-TV, Lee Kinard.  In the afternoon, Kuralt had stopped by the TV station and taped a lengthy interview with Kinard for his morning program.

In a June 14, 1987 interview in the News and Observer, Kuralt recounted that they made the album “for school children, and I keep emphasizing it’s not a very sophisticated piece of work, but gosh there’s demand for it. God help us, we’ve done it in Chicago, and we’re going to do it in Vancouver and London in December.  That’s Piedmont Airlines doing that. They’ve started flying to London so they’re trying to drum up interest in North Carolina amongst the British. I don’t know who’s going to come to it, but we’re going to do it in December.”

As the tour continued, there were stops in Arizona, New York, and other stops up and down the East Coast.  The two performances in London were held at the American Embassy on November 25, 1987 and once again Hugh Morton was there. The tour count was more than fifty.

 Charles Kuralt and North Carolina travel mission in London

In late 1991, the North Carolina Public Television Foundation produced a video of North Carolina is My Home.  Hugh Morton helped the production team select scenes for the production which was offered on the market just before Christmas.  Loonis and Charles appeared on a special edition of North Carolina People with William Friday taped at the Friday Center for Continuing Education on the UNC campus. They promoted the tape . . . proceeds went to public television.

A month before his death, Belmont Abbey College honored Kuralt and McGlohon with honorary degrees.  It was about this same time that the two performed “North Carolina is My Home” for the final time…a performance with the Charlotte Symphony.  The backstage crew knew that something was wrong…the audience never suspected there was a problem.

Then, on July 4, 1997, came the sad news that Charles Kuralt had lost his battle with lupus.  Four days after Kuralt’s death, WUNC-TV carried live the memorial celebration of his life.  At the service, UNC Chancellor Michael Hooker, former governor Jim Hunt, television personality Charlie Rose, Hugh Morton, and former UNC presidents William Friday and C.D.Spangler, Jr. celebrated their friendships with Charles Kuralt.

The North Carolina Symphony’s Brass Ensemble played the theme from “North Carolina is My Home,” and Loonis McGlohon played the music track to the “The Farmer” segment, the one he called his favorite.

Following the presentation from UNC’s Memorial Hall, the station aired an encore videotape performance of “North Carolina is My Home.”

In 1998 The Globe Pequot Press published a commemorative edition of its 1986 book North Carolina is My Home with remembrances from Charles Kuralt’s friends and colleagues.

POSTSCRIPT:

As we wrapped up this piece Jack Hilliard wrote in an email to me, “As I look back on what we have done, it’s ironic that we handled this post much like the way Charles and Loonis handled their effort: I sent you something . . . you added to it and sent it back . . . etc.”  Nice observation, Jack.  We hope our readers enjoy this post!

The information desk of the university

Graduation weekend is upon UNC’s class of 2015, and this year’s graduates will be walking the brick walkways on campus as students for their final times.  These times are special—they’ll look at the old buildings that until now were often taken for granted, but will now take on a new meaning.

Soon after returning to Wilmington from the South Pacific during World War II, Hugh Morton revisited the UNC campus and photographed many of the buildings he grew to know as a student during the autumn of 1939 and the early 1940s.  The November 1946 issue of The Alumni Review featured on its cover a Morton photograph of the Morehead-Patterson Bell Tower—his first credited post-war AR cover.  Its caption read, “The cover picture is another photograph by Hugh Morton ’43, the Wilmington realtor who continues to practice his college hobby of photography.  Recently, he presented to the Alumni Office a half dozen new pictures of familiar campus scenes. . . .”  The photograph of South Hall below appeared in the April 1947 issue of the magazine, and was likely one of those six photographs. Last August, Morton collection volunteer Jack Hilliard wrote a post titled The best of times: the “Golden Era” at UNC (1945-1950) where we featured those photographs.  The online collection of Morton photographs currently contains thirty-seven views of South Building.

In a few months, the incoming class of 2019 will stroll the brick pathways within the stone walls of Carolina, with their own discoveries awaiting them.  Today, Jack recalls his first introduction to South Building and one of its occupants when he was a freshman.

On a side note, if you attend this coming Saturday’s 2015 Spring Reunion Weekend activities, please stop by Wilson Library between 1:00 and 5:00 for our special open house.  Each year I scan approximately 100 negatives from the UNC “Photo Lab” collection made 50 years earlier.  The images run on continuous loop, so you may enter and leave as your schedule permits.  This year features the 1964–1965 academic year.  I will be there and would enjoy meeting readers of A View to Hugh.  During your trip to Wilson Library you will also be able to

This photograph of South Building appeared full-page in the April 1947 issue of The Alumni Review with a caption that noted that the building had been renovated in 1925. "Of the University's 40,000 matriculates and ex-matriculates" it continued, "three-fourths of them knew this view of South Building in their student days." The photograph as published is cropped significantly and rotated clockwise to make the columns more vertical.

This photograph of South Building appeared full-page in the April 1947 issue of The Alumni Review with a caption that noted that the building had been renovated in 1925. “Of the University’s 40,000 matriculates and ex-matriculates” it continued, “three-fourths of them knew this view of South Building in their student days.” The photograph as published is cropped significantly and rotated clockwise to make the columns more vertical.

Most Tar Heels, young and old, will recognize the campus building that stands at 200 East Cameron Avenue. It’s one of the oldest buildings on campus and sits atop Polk Place. Today it has huge columns that face south and frame the front door.  The building currently is used for administrative offices, such as the Office of Chancellor Carol Folt.  Of course, we’re talking about South Building, a true historic symbol of UNC life.

The original design for the building was based on Princeton’s Nassau Hall, and the cornerstone was laid on April 4, 1798. The building was to be the main structure of a proposed quad.  Construction began in 1799, but a shortage of funding and some political wrangling brought that progress to a halt in 1800 and nothing was accomplished for the next three years.  Construction was finally completed in 1814.  At the time of completion, there was a dire need for teaching and living space for the growing university population, so South Building began to fill some of those needs.  The third floor offered much needed dormitory space and future United States President James Knox Polk occupied a room at the southwest corner in 1818.  The second floor housed a “Library and Philosophical Chamber,” as well as the study for University President Joseph Caldwell. Other areas of the building contained classrooms, a chemistry lab, and space for the debating societies.

During the Civil War, South Building sheltered Union cavalry troops who were responsible for major damage to the building. Mrs. Cornelia Phillips Spencer described the destructive scene:

Gangs . . . spend the nights in the Old South Building, rioting, shouting, drinking.  You have no idea of the degradation.  The Halls and Libraries are broken into at all times, and I am told that the Phi Library . . . has its books scattered all over the building.  It makes me heartsick to write about it.

It’s not surprising that on March 20, 1875, upon hearing that the General Assembly had passed the bill for the financial reorganization and support to reopen the university, Mrs. Spencer, accompanied by friends and pupils, climbed to the attic of South Building and rang the bell signaling the glorious reopening.  She was also celebrating her birthday on that March day.

In the 1920s, following the relocation to South Building of the president’s office, the University administration decided the building needed a more authoritative design.

Architect Arthur Nash was brought in to establish the new look.  He enlarged the windows and substituted, in place of the small chimneys, four large ones.  His most important addition was the grand south portico with the four columns that I mentioned earlier.  These changes, completed in 1927, became South Building’s south face that we see today as we stand on the steps of Wilson Library and look across campus.

I recall my first days as an incoming freshman at UNC in the fall of 1958 with my orientation group.  We were taken to South Building and shown where our General College advisers had their offices, most of which were on the second floor.  We were also introduced to a very special lady who sat at a desk in the rotunda.  Her name was Mrs. Gustave Harrer, also known as “The Information Lady.”  During a 20 year period from 1943 until 1963, this gracious and kindly lady helped thousands of students who were worried, puzzled, angry, or lost. Her white hair, her ready-smile, and reassuring manner instantly inspired confidence . . . and she seemed to be able to solve the most difficult of problems. Having been on the Carolina campus since her arrival in Chapel Hill in 1915 when her husband became chairman of the Classics Department, Mrs. Harrer was the perfect choice to greet students and visitors to South Building, “the information desk of the University.”

Looking back at our common future

Happy Earth Day 2015.  Hugh Morton photographed in many places around the globe, but the planet itself was not one of them . . . at least not from outer space.  Looking for an image to post for Earth Day, I searched the online collection for “earth” . . . then “globe” . . . then “global.”  The last search term led to today’s post.

P081_NTBR2_003390_08_crop

Carl Sagan speaking at the 1990 Emerging Issues Forum at North Carolina State University, with North Carolina Governor Jim Hunt standing in the background. (Photograph cropped by author.)

Since 1986 the Institute for Emerging Issues at North Carolina State University has held an annual Emerging Issues Forum.  Hugh Morton attended the forum in February 1990 when the theme was “Global Changes in the Environment: Our Common Future.”  According to the program published after the forum, there were approximately 1,500 attendees.  Featured speakers included Al Gore, 45th Vice President of the U.S.; Carl Sagan, former director of the Laboratory of Planetary Studies at Cornell University; Steve Cowper, former governor of Alaska; and Madeline Kunin, former governor of Vermont.

After searching through the Morton collection finding aid to see what other years he may have attended the forum, it appears that was the only time he went—or at least photographed, but I cannot imagine Morton attending such an event and not taking at least one photograph.  There are 68 negatives from the 1990 forum, filed in three locations in the collection with the following descriptions:

  • Roll Film Box P081/35BW-5, Envelope 2.6.270-5-1: Gore, Al at NCSU Emerging Issues Forum (with Steve Cowper, etc.), 1990, Black and white 35mm roll film negatives, 6 images;
  • Roll Film Box P081/35BW-6, Envelope 2.6.602-5-1: “Sagan, Carl, Governor Jim Hunt, North Carolina State” (Emerging Issues Forum?), 1990s, Black and white 35mm roll film negatives, 6 images; and
  • Roll Film Box P081/35BW-8, Envelope 2.8.7-5-11: Emerging Issues Forum, North Carolina State University, 8-9 February 1990, Black and white 35mm roll film negatives, 56 images.

Scans made from eight of these negatives can be seen in the online collection of Morton photographs.

A Tar Heel tradition in blue & white

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Arthur “Guitar Boogie” Smith (1921–2014)

Arthur Smith passed away one year ago today.  At the time, I hurriedly started a V2H blog post to mark the occasion.  As I worked on it I kept finding more and more interesting material . . . and April 3rd slipped farther and farther into the distance before I just could wrap it up. It’s been sitting in the unpublished drafts section of the blog ever since.  Then a week or so ago, volunteer Jack Hilliard sent me post about Arthur Smith for use today.  After I finished working on Jack’s piece I dusted off this post, cleaned it up, and published it today even though it could use some more work.  The result? A twin bill!  This post is mine; the “special connection” post is Jack’s.  We hope you enjoy today’s double feature.

For many, if not most, Arthur Smith may not be a household name.  Have you seen Deliverance—or played an “air banjo” version of the well-known version called “Dueling Banjos” from the memorable scene in that 1972 movie?  If so, then you have a piece of Arthur Smith in the fiber of your being because Smith is the original writer of that song, which he played and recorded with Don Reno as “Fuedin’ Banjos” in 1955.

Arthur Smith and the Cracker-Jacks, probably 1952.

Arthur Smith (front, with guitar) and the Cracker-Jacks, including Ralph Smith (rear left, with accordion), Tommy Faile (rear, second from right), and Sonny Smith (rear, right) posing in front of a brick wall. A detail of Smith’s face appears in an advertisement for the Fifth Annual Azalea Festival in March 22, 1952 issue of THE STATE magazine. Arthur Smith and the Cracker-Jacks performed during the festival on March 29th.

Arthur Smith was born in Clinton, South Carolina in 1921.  The 1930 United States Census enumerated his family in Flat Creek Township in Lancaster County on April 4th, just a few days after Arthur’s 9th birthday.  He is the son of Clayton S. Smith and his wife Viola Fields, both North Carolinians by birth.  In the 1930 census Arthur had two older and two younger siblings: Ethel, age 13; Oscar, 9; Ruby, 7; and Ralph, 6.  Clayton’s occupation is listed as a weaver in a cotton mill.

The most likely matching “Arthur Smith” in the 1940 census shows Arthur as one of three lodgers at home of what looks like Dixon G. and Sybil Stewart (the census taker’s handwriting is difficult to read) at 442 Kennedy Street in Spartanburg, S.C.  Stewart and the lodgers all have their occupation listed as “Advertise” and written (again hard to decipher) in the Industry column is “Radio” and what looks like “Vine Herb.”  This is a nugget for a future researcher to resolve.

*****

Arthur Smith was already an accomplished musician well before “Fuedin’ Banjos.”  When Smith was in eighth grade, he and brothers Ralph and Sonny formed a Dixieland jazz band called The Arthur Smith Quartet.  At the beginning their financial prospects were bleak.  Smith said during an interview with Don Rhodes for his article “Arthur Smith: a Wide & Varied Musical Career” in the July 1977 issue of Bluegrass Unlimited,

We nearly starved to death until one day we changed our style.  We had been doing a daily radio show in Spartanburg, South Carolina, as the “Arthur Smith Quartet.”  One Friday morning we threw down our trumpet, clarinet, and trombone and picked up the fiddle, accordion, and guitar.  The next Monday we came back on the radio program as “Arthur Smith and the Carolina Crackerjacks.”  My brother, Sonny, came up with the name.  The Carolina was because we were from South Carolina, and the Crackerjack part came when Sonny found that the word according to the dictionary meant one who is tops in his field.

This would probably be as good a place as any in this story to state that there is no definitive biography Arthur Smith, and much of what is on the Internet or in print is anecdotal, sketchy or brief, and with a fair amount of rehashing of what someone else had already written.  Pulling this post together has been a bit of a challenge, so please leave a comment with corrections or clarifications.

When Arthur Smith was in tenth grade, the group made their first recording during a field recording session for RCA Victor in 1938.  According to one discography, the recording date was 26 September 1938 at the Andrew Jackson Hotel in Rock Hill, S. C.  Smith recalled in the booklet The Charlotte Country Music Story, that their best song from that session was “Going Back to Old Carolina” (Bluebird Records recording B-8304).

Smith must have paid attention to the school books, too, because he was the class’s valedictorian.  Smith had an opportunity to attend the United States Naval Academy after graduation, but he declined because he knew he wanted to be a musician.

*****

The band’s success grew and at some point in time, possibly 1941, Smith moved to Charlotte when he and the Crackerjacks became regularly featured on WBT’s country music radio programs, among them probably Carolina Barndance.

As with most born in this era, however, WWII brought disruption and the Crackerjacks disbanded.  All three brothers served in the military, Arthur Smith in the Navy.  He played in his military band, and it was there that he wrote “Guitar Boogie,” his breakthrough recording that sold more than a million copies in 1945.  After the war, the Smith revived the Crackerjacks.

*****

I’ve not found mention of how Hugh Morton and Arthur Smith met, but I hope those that might know will comment below.  Morton photographed Smith with and without the Cracker-Jacks (that variant spelling, with and without a hyphen, was often used) on several occasions over many years.  Both were born in 1921, and both served in the military during World War II; Morton as a photographer and cameraman in the United States Army 161st Signal Corps, Smith in the United States Navy.  The photograph at the top of this post dates from 1952, used to promote the Azelea Festival in WIlmington that year.

Smith and Morton may have met earlier, however, at Singing at the Mountain in 1950.  In his book with Edward Rankin, Making a Difference in North Carolina, published in 1988, Hugh Morton recalled that it was around 1950 that Singing on the Mountain had a “big boost” in attendance.  Singing’s co-founder Joe L. Hartley soon thereafter gave Smith the designation “Music Master” for the annual event because Smith “played a major role in inviting other outstanding musical groups.”  Singing on the Mountain was already growing crowds prior to 1950.  A brief article about the 1949 “Singing” published in the Watauga Democrat noted that 25,000 people had attended, the largest crowd to date.  The following year, an article in the 29 June 1950 issue of the Wautaga Democrat about that year’s singing described the previous Sunday’s event: “One of the musical highlights during the beautiful summer day was provided by Hillbilly Headliner Arthur Smith and his Crackerjacks from Columbia Broadcasting System and Radio Station WBT, Charlotte. . . . Highway patrolmen reported that during one period around noon, the highways leading to this convention were crowded by cars bumper to bumper, stretching four miles in one direction and three in the other.”

Morton wrote in Sixty Years with a Camera,

Arthur Smith is one of my dear friends, and for thirty consecutive years he was the singing master for “Singing on the Mountain” at Grandfather.  He of course wrote the Number 1 banjo song in the world, “Duelling Banjos,” [sic] and the Number 1 guitar piece “Guitar Boogie.”  He is also a very religious man, and he plugged the daylights out of the “Singing” and brought big crowds.  Mr. Joe Hartley, the founder and chairman of the annual event, thought that his homemade sign out on the highway attracted the people.  He never did understand that Arthur Smith’s promotion of the program on television was the reason for the huge crowds.

The next two photographs below may not have been published before this post.

Arthur Smith playing his guitar at Sining on the Mountain, date unknown.

Arthur Smith playing his guitar with the Cracker-Jacks at Singing on the Mountain, at MacRae Meadows near Linville, N. C. The date for this negative, one of four extent made at this performance, is unknown. Arthur Smith and the Cracker-Jacks first performed at the 1950 Singing.

 *****

Unidentified group portrait of Arthur Smith with other musicians circa 1960s.

There’s no identifying information about this group portrait of Arthur Smith and the Cracker-Jacks. The colors, clothes, and art styles all seem to be singing 1960s. Can anybody identify people, place, time, or event? Was this photographed on the television set at WBTV for either “Carolina Calling” or “The Arthur Smith Show?”  Groovy points will be awarded for proper identification of this photograph.

Hugh Morton photographed Smith on numerous occasions, including many made for record album dust jackets.  Notice the photography credit for Hugh Morton on back of the following album’s cover . . .

Arthur Smith Great Country and Western Hits_album cover

An Arthur Smith recording from 1965, from the Southern Folklife Collection in Wilson Library.

Verso of Arthur Smith Great Country & Western Hits

Verso of the album Arthur Smith Great Country & Western Hits showing credit to Hugh Morton for the cover photograph.

Hugh Morton may be the photographer for Smith’s LP album The Guitars of “Guitar Boogie” Smith published by Starday Records in 1968.  There is a 4″ x 5″ color transparency in the Morton collection that is an extremely similar pose to that on the album.  Smith moved his hands slightly but his facial expression looks to be identical.  I prefer the hand positioning in the one not used on the cover because his right hand is concealed.

Arthur Smith posing for album cover portrait for "The Guitars of Arthur 'Guitar Boogie' Smith", circa 1968.

Arthur Smith posing for album cover portrait for “The Guitars of Arthur ‘Guitar Boogie’ Smith”, circa 1968.

Interestingly, CMT used a tightly cropped pose from this sitting in its obituary of Smith.  The image source is Getty Images.

There’s a lot more Arthur Smith images to parse through in the Morton Collection, more than can be featured in this post.  Needless to say, when someone writes the definitive biography of Arthur Smith. the Hugh Morton collection is a “go to” collection for visual research.

*****

ANY RELATION? The 1940 United States Census enumerated a James Arthur Smith, age ten months, living with his family on Florida Street in Clinton, Laurens County, South Carolina.  James Arthur was the second son of Broadus E. and Annie Mae Smith.  He had an older brother Edward, age 4 years old.  The census taker’s handwriting for his father’s name is hard to decipher, but a Google search revealed a Broadus E. Smith who wrote four church hymns.  Is this is likely connection.  Broadus’s occupation is listed as a carpenter in the building construction industry.

 

 

Another special connection with another legend named Smith

In February we shared a blog-post about the special connection that Hugh Morton had with Legendary UNC Basketball Coach Dean Smith.  Today, April 3, 2015, on the one-year anniversary of the death of another legend named Smith, Morton Collection volunteer Jack Hilliard shares the special connection Hugh Morton had with Music Legend Arthur Smith.  In case you landed here first, be sure to check out today’s other post on Arthur Smith by Stephen Fletcher, the second half of today’s doubleheader.

Arthur Smith and band "The Crackerjacks" performing on an outdoor stage at "Singing on the Mountain" gospel festival, Grandfather Mountain, Linville, NC. L to R: Ralph Smith, Sonny Smith, Don Lear, Arthur Smith. Photograph illustrates article about Smith, "Another Tar Heel Booster," in September 2, 1950 issue of THE STATE magazine, with caption that says Smith is "singing his original composition, 'Foolish Questions.'"

Arthur Smith and band “The Crackerjacks” performing on an outdoor stage at “Singing on the Mountain” gospel festival, Grandfather Mountain, Linville, NC. L to R: Ralph Smith, Sonny Smith, Don Lear, Arthur Smith. Photograph illustrates article about Smith, “Another Tar Heel Booster,” in September 2, 1950 issue of THE STATE magazine, with caption that says Smith is “singing his original composition, ‘Foolish Questions.'”

When the folks at Grandfather Mountain staged their 90th Singing on the Mountain festival on June 22, 2014, they dedicated the event to Arthur Smith. Smith had passed away a little over two months before on April 3rd, just two days after his 93rd birthday.

Smith and his “Crackerjacks” had served as Music Masters of the event from about 1950 through the early 1980s.  I think it’s safe to say that Smith had a standing invitation from his dear friend Hugh Morton to be a part of every Singing on the Mountain.  During the 1960s and ‘70s, Smith was responsible for inviting his friends Johnny and June Carter Cash in 1974 and Rev. Billy Graham in 1962, plus many other famous names.  Smith was the featured speaker at the 1991 event.

The 2014 speaker was noted evangelist Leighton Ford who had been the main speaker at the event in 1969 and 1989.  Ford built his ‘14 message around the words of some of the gospel songs Smith had written over the years. In an interview before the event, Ford said, “I do plan to include some of Arthur’s songs and thoughts in this, because our faith is a singing faith.”  Legendary Charlotte television broadcaster Doug Mayes introduced Rev. Ford.  Mayes had helped Clyde McLean serve as the chief announcer on The Arthur Smith Show, which was taped at WBTV, Channel 3 in the Queen City.  Mayes also shared some of his memories of Smith and the “Crackerjacks.”

The 2014 musical lineup included a noon tribute to Smith by his son, Clay, and “Brother Ralph” Smith’s sons, Tim and Roddy, playing instrumentals with David Moody of The Moody Brothers.  Vocalist Keith Dudley offered several of Smith’s most well-known hymns, and George Hamilton IV, who performed with Smith for years, came in from Nashville and his job as backstage host of the Grand Ole Opry to sing Smith’s most famous hymn, “Acres of Diamonds.”  The Cockman Family of Sherrills Ford, NC added several of Smith’s secular hits including “Feudin’ Banjos” and “Guitar Boogie.”

*****

Arthur Smith (center, with banjo), posing with his band "The Crackerjacks." Back Row (L to R): Tommy Faile, Wayne Haas, Kaye Murray; Front Row (L to R): Ralph Smith, Carl Hunt, Arthur Smith, Carlene "Sam" Howell, Jim Buchanan. Possibly taken on the deck of the USS North Carolina in Wilmington, N.C.

Arthur Smith (center, with banjo), posing with his band “The Crackerjacks.” Back Row (L to R): Tommy Faile, Wayne Haas, Kaye Murray; Front Row (L to R): Ralph Smith, Carl Hunt, Arthur Smith, Carlene “Sam” Howell, Jim Buchanan. Possibly taken on the deck of the USS North Carolina in Wilmington, N.C.

Arthur Smith and Hugh Morton go back a long way.  There are pictures in the Morton Online Collection of Smith and his “Crackerjacks” at the 1952 Azalea Festival in Wilmington and a decade or so later on the deck of the Battleship USS North Carolina.  But it was in 1962 that the Morton–Smith “team” set out on its most famous project.

In the mid-1950s, the National Park Service was preparing for the final 7.7 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway and the state planned to gain, by its power of eminent domain, a portion of Grandfather Mountain in order to build a road higher on the Mountain than Morton wanted.  Here’s how Morton described the situation in his 1988 book, Making a Difference in North Carolina:

To accommodate the requested “high route,” the state condemned additional land and we protested to Chairman A.H. Graham of the North Carolina Highway and Public Works Commission. . . The Chairman promptly arranged for a hearing before the State Highway Commission for the National Parks Service and me.

Almost immediately I received an invitation from WRAL-TV, in Raleigh, to debate the Grandfather Mountain right-of-way controversy with National Parks Director (Conrad) Wirth. . . Later I was notified that Wirth was bringing his engineer, and suggested I bring my engineer or lawyer to even up the sides of the debate.  I had neither engineer nor lawyer.  So I invited my friend Arthur Smith . . .

Wirth obviously did not know Arthur Smith when I introduced them, and was unaware that he performed daily in nearly every television market in the southeastern United States, including WRAL-TV.  The Park Director and his engineer spoke first. . . I made a brief statement and then Arthur Smith, in his Southern drawl said, “When a man like Hugh Morton owns a mountain and loves it like he does, it don’t seem right for a big bureaucrat to come down here from Washington and take it away from him.”

The telephone switchboard at WRAL-TV lit up with support for our position and it was soon obvious that Conrad Wirth had lost the debate. . . . The State Highway Commission voted to return the illegally condemned land.

*****

Hugh Morton almost never promoted himself, but he did try once, with a little help from a few of his friends.  Hugh’s longtime friend Charles Kuralt described the start of that effort at the 1996 North Caroliniana Society Award ceremony.

On December 1, 1971, in the shadow of the Capitol in Raleigh, surrounded on a chilly day, by shivering pretty girls in shorts wearing “Morton for Governor” hats and carrying “Morton for Governor” signs, with Arthur Smith playing “Guitar Boogie” for the crowd, with Charlie “Choo Choo” Justice on hand to declare “I have been on Hugh’s team all my life,” Hugh Morton formally declared his candidacy for governor.

Morton chose to withdraw his candidacy a couple of months later.  It was likely the only occasion when the Morton–Smith duo failed to achieve its goal.

*****

Ralph Smith, Don Ange, Jackie Schuyler, Dick Schuyler, Maggie Griffin, George Hamilton IV, and Arthur Smith at the Sea of Galilee in Israel. Taken on 1973 trip Hugh Morton took to the "Holy Land" along with musicians George Hamilton IV, Arthur Smith, Ralph Smith, and others, possibly for filming of television special.

Ralph Smith, Don Ange, Jackie Schuyler, Dick Schuyler, Maggie Griffin, George Hamilton IV, and Arthur Smith at the Sea of Galilee in Israel. Taken on 1973 trip Hugh Morton took to the “Holy Land” along with musicians George Hamilton IV, Arthur Smith, Ralph Smith, and others, possibly for filming of television special.

In March of 1973, Arthur Smith took his syndicated television program to the Holy Land to record shows in Nazareth, Jericho, Mt. Sinai, Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and of course at the River Jordan. The group also visited Rome.  Morton, along with wife Julia and daughter Catherine, went along to take photographs that were later used for album covers.

*****

Arthur Smith and North Carolina governor Jim HuntNorth Carolina Governor Jim Hunt called Hugh Morton in March of 1981.  The Governor wanted a 3-cents-a-gallon gasoline tax to finance road improvements.  Morton, as always, stepped in to help.  Hunt had polling data that said support for the gas tax was weakest among blue collar workers and farmers.  The Governor’s plan called for Morton and retired Charlotte banker C.C. Hope to lead an effort to change the opinion of that segment of the population.  Well, Hugh Morton had better idea. Rather than banker Hope, why not recruit Arthur Smith?  Morton believed that a country music legend like Smith would do better than a banker when trying to convince blue collar workers and farmers to support a gas tax.  Smith agreed to take on the challenge.  The plan worked; on June 26, 1981, the legislature approved the tax.

Also in 1981, Morton completed work on the award-winning film The Hawk and John McNeely.  The music track for that film was done by Arthur Smith and the film was narrated by Woody Durham, “The Voice of the North Carolina Tar Heels” football and basketball teams.

*****

Musicians Arthur Smith (far left), Raymond Fairchild (second from left), and others performing at the dedication of the final piece of the Blue Ridge Parkway, Grandfather Mountain, N.C.

Musicians Arthur Smith (far left), Raymond Fairchild (second from left), and others performing at the dedication of the final piece of the Blue Ridge Parkway, Grandfather Mountain, N.C.

It was a beautiful September day in 1987 when the Blue Ridge Parkway was officially opened for traffic to travel the entire 469.1 miles through 29 Virginia and North Carolina counties.  The dedication ceremony brought together again Arthur Smith and Hugh Morton.  They had come full circle, from that famous debate 25 years before in Raleigh, to the official dedication at the Linn Cove Viaduct on September 11, 1987.

*****

Almost five years later, on September 2, 1992, another celebration took place at Grandfather Mountain.  This time it was the 40th anniversary of the Mile High Swinging Bridge.  Many familiar faces turned out for this party as well: Kuralt, Justice, and of course Arthur Smith with guitar in hand to entertain the crowd.

Arthur Smith was best known for his music, but he was a serious Bible student and Sunday school teacher throughout his career. In a January, 1992 book titled Apply it to Life, he shared his practical applications of the Scriptures. By combining his favorite verses of Scripture, humorous stories that he had collected over the years, and ten of his most popular inspirational songs, he was effectively able to apply the messages found in Scripture to one’s everyday life.

“He had a very strong faith and considered being the musical host for the ‘Singing on the Mountain’ to be part of his ministry,” said Harris Prevost, vice president of the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation.

According to Hugh’s wife Julia, Hugh and Arthur had only one serious disagreement during their long friendship.  That disagreement came during the campaign to get “Liquor by the Drink” in North Carolina.

Both men were teetotalers, but Morton saw the tourist value in Liquor by the Drink and fought hard to get it approved.  He was finally successful in 1978 without Smith’s support, but he never lost Smith’s respect.

*****

From Swinging on the Bridge to Singing on the Mountain . . .

From the Azalea Gardens in Wilmington to the Holy Land and Rome . . .

From the Deck of the “Showboat” to the Linn Cove Viaduct . . .

Hugh Morton and Arthur Smith stood shoulder-to-shoulder carrying out numerous projects and celebrating others across the state of North Carolina for more than 50 years.  And on this day, one year after Arthur Smith joined Hugh Morton once again, I choose to believe that their special connection continues.

Hugh Morton and Arthur Smith during their March 1973 trip to the Holy Land.

Hugh Morton and Arthur Smith during their March 1973 trip to the Holy Land.

Epilogue:

When The Levine Museum of the New South in Charlotte published its 2002 book The North Carolina Century: Tar Heels Who Made a Difference, 1900-2000, they chose a Hugh Morton portrait of Arthur Smith to support the Smith profile.