Hugh Morton retrospective at Blowing Rock Art & History Museum

Winter Exhibition Celebration 2019

Announcement card for the Blowing Rock Art & History Museum’s Winter Exhibition Celebration.

It’s been incredibly busy so I am a bit behind in announcing that the exhibition Photographs by Hugh Morton: An Uncommon Retrospective is now showing at the Blowing Rock Art & History Museum through February 22, 2020. The museum’s Winter Exhibition Celebration takes place on Friday, December 13 from 4:30 to 7:00 p.m. If you haven’t yet seen the exhibition, I hope you can make your way to Blowing Rock to see it.  The musuem is the ninth venue to exhibit the retrospective since its debut in Boone at Appalachian State University’s Turchin Center for the Visual Arts six years ago on August 27, 2013.

Why, you might wonder, has it been so busy here in the North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives? Well among several other things, the thousands of Morton negatives selected for the first phase of a preservation digitization project have been returned from the vendor—along with 1.7 terabytes of image files.  This topic will be a “Behind the Scenes” blog post for 2020.

A certain “electricity” in the air

When Carolina played its 2019 home opener on September 7th against Miami, there was a certain “electricity” in the air…Head Football Coach Mack Brown was back…the Heels had beaten South Carolina the weekend before and expectations were high. While the feeling was a bit unusual in Chapel Hill, it wasn’t unique. A similar event took place on November 8, 1997, and Morton collection volunteer Jack Hilliard takes a look back 22 years ago today.

I remember in a 1973 conversation I had with UNC Legend Charlie Justice how excited he was recalling the famous 1948 UNC – Texas game. “People in ten-gallon hats and flashing big money showed up on Franklin Street as early as Thursday before the big Saturday game on September 25th. Tickets were being bought and sold for more than a hundred dollars…big money in those days. There was an excitement in the air…kinda’ like ‘electricity.’ If you were in Chapel Hill for the ’48 Texas game, you will always remember it.”

I was not in Chapel Hill for that big game celebration in 1948, but when I came into Chapel Hill on the afternoon of November 8, 1997 for the Carolina – Florida State game, I sensed what Justice was talking about.

In the early afternoon, Franklin Street was crowded with fans from each team. This time tickets were selling for as much as $500. One downtown merchant was quoted as saying, “I think this is the biggest sporting event this town has ever seen.”

In the southeast corner of Kenan Memorial Stadium, ESPN’s “Game Day” team of Chris Fowler, Lee Corso, and Kirk Herbstreit was set to send the game out across the nation. Major publications like USA Today and The New York Times were represented in the press box along with Sports Illustrated. NFL scouts were there in abundance as were guys in Orange jackets representing the Orange Bowl.  Woody Durham and Mick Mixon were in place for the Tar Heel Sports Network. And of course, photographer Hugh Morton was in his place along the Tar Heel sideline.

By late afternoon, Franklin Street looked a lot like it does after a big basketball win. The gray skies and mild temps made for perfect football weather as the 7:30 kickoff approached. The Florida State Seminoles, undefeated under head coach Bobby Bowden, were ranked second in the country while the undefeated Tar Heels were ranked fifth.  The newspaper headline above the masthead of Carolina Blue on November 8 simply said: “TITANS COLLIDE AT KENAN.”

Carolina Blue cover

Cover of the November 8, 1997 issue of Carolina Blue.

Then, just before the start of the game, a very light mist fell on the 62,000 who had jammed into Kenan Stadium.  It didn’t last long, however, and all was in order for the game. Newly elected Atlantic Coast Conference Commissioner John Swofford greeted both head coaches just prior to the kickoff.  When the clock said 7:30 PM, they began to play the game. Soon, the Seminoles pulled the plug on all that “electricity” from a week of hype and excitement.

Florida State quarterback Busby

Eleven minutes into the game, Florida State had its first score, an eight yard pass from quarterback Thad Busby to tight end Melvin Pearsall.  Then at the 4:27 mark of the second quarter it was Busby again—this time a fourteen-yard pass to wide receiver E.G. Green. And just seconds before the end of the first half, Sebastian Janikowski kicked a thirty-two-yard field goal that made the halftime score 17 to 0.

During the halftime break, Coach Bowden told his offensive coaches if Carolina didn’t score on its first drive of the second half, concentrate on the running game and eat some clock. The Tar Heels did not score on its first drive.  The teams traded field goals during the remainder of the second half, making the final score 20 to 3.  Florida State’s dominance was reflected in the final stats. The Seminoles finished the game with 334 net yards of offense with 19 first downs compared to Carolina’s 73 and 7.

North Carolina running back Dré Bly

North Carolina defensive back Dré Bly, most likely during one of his four punt returns in the game.

After the two head coaches shook hands at midfield, Coach Bowden turned and walked toward the southeast corner of the stadium where many of the Seminole fans were standing. Just then the Florida State band struck up Happy Birthday, as Bowden waved to the crowd. He had turned 67 on this day in Chapel Hill.

Coach Brown in his post-game news conference said, “I thought the week was a win. All the attention will really help our program. It will help in recruiting. Even though we lost tonight we’ll gain a whole lot out of this.”

The Tar Heels fell from fifth in both national polls to eighth in the AP Media Poll and ninth in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches’ Poll.  Florida State jumped to number one in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches’ Poll and remained number two in the AP Media Poll.

As the 62,000 fans filed out of Kenan Stadium that night in ’97, there were at least two who had been there in ’48: Charlie Justice and Hugh Morton. But the ’97 outcome was nothing like the one in ’48.

______________________________________________

Epilog:

Following a home win against Wake Forest on November 15th and a three-point-loss on November 22nd to Florida, Florida State finished the season 11 and 1 and a national number three ranking.  Bowden would remain the head coach at Florida State until 2009 and win a second national championship in 1999.

Carolina would close the season with a win at Clemson and a home win against Duke. They finished the season at 11 and 1 and ranked number six. Following the 1997 regular season, Mack Brown left UNC to become the head coach at Texas.  He remained there through the 2013 season, winning a BCS National Championship for the Longhorns in 2005. He returner to UNC in 2019.

Location scouting for The Last of the Mohicans

A View to Hugh marks a dozen years today.  We published our very first post on November 1, 2007.  Casting about for subject matter to mark the occasion, I took to Hugh Morton’s executive planners with hopes that he would have been up to something interesting on one of the November firsts represented within the years covered by the planners.*  Thankfully, on November 1, 1990—twenty-nine years ago—he was.

Morton planner November 1 1990

Hugh Morton’s executive planner entry for November 1, 1990: “Lin. Falls – G Mtn – Mike Bigham and Michael Mann – ‘Last of the Mohicans'”

On that day, Morton accompanied movie director Michael Mann and his North Carolina locations manager Michael Bigham on a scouting trip for Mann’s film The Last of the Mohicans. According to an October 27, 1989 article in The Asheville Citizen, Mike Bigham was a member of the Western North Carolina Film Committee.  Information surrounding Morton’s involvement with Mann’s trip for his film is limited to the above entry in Morton’s planner and the negatives Morton made during their search.  Morton’s negative envelope description is “Lost Cove Cliffs, Scouting for ‘Last of the Mohicans.'”

Hugh Morton's negatives made during location scouting.

Hugh Morton’s negatives (inverted as positives) made during the location scouting trip for The Last of the Mohicans (P0081 2.6.452-6-1). Several scenes suggest part of their trip was airborn.

Morton made two snapshot-like portraits of Mann (one can be seen at the end of this post) and one photograph as he walked on boulders just upstream from some rapids or a small waterfall.

Inspecting rapids, camera in hand.

Michael Mann walks along a stream, camera in hand.

The movie’s United States debut was on September 25, 1992 at Asheville’s Beaucatcher Cinemas.  On October 4, the city’s Sunday newspaper The Citizen-Times featured an article on the movie titled “Mohican madness.”  Written by Connie Mixson, the article explored the making of the film based upon an interview with Bigham, a UNC Chapel Hill Class of 1980 graduate.  Six years after Mohicans, Bigham would become the location manager for Patch Adams released in 1998—filmed in part on the UNC Chapel Hill campus including Wilson Library.

Mixson reported that Bigham had just finished working in Winston-Salem as the assistant locations manager for James Orr’s movie Mr. Destiny in October when he received a call from Mann’s office.  They told him to rent a copy of the 1936 black-and-white movie version of James Fenimore Cooper’s story.  Two days later Mann went to Asheville and met Bigham, “then they boarded a helicopter and scouted Western North Carolina.”  They “toured lakes in five states from the air, land and water, taking pictures . . .”  Mann selected Asheville and vicinity for his movie, set in upstate New York.  Part of the film was shot at Linville Falls.

Do you have more you can add to the story?  How did Hugh Morton become involved in the locations search?

Michael Mann during his scouting trip of the Linville River.

Michael Mann during his scouting trip of the Linville River.

  • Morton’s executive planners in the collection cover the years 1972–1978, 1981–1985, 1987, 1991–1992, 1995–1997, 2000, and 2002.

A ho-hum-season-ending-game becomes a Tar Heel thrill

On this day, October 26, 2019, Carolina’s football Tar Heels will meet Duke for the 106th time, plus it is homecoming on the UNC campus. The winner will capture the Victory Bell.

Earlier this season, when Carolina beat Miami in Kenan Stadium with masterful play in the 4th quarter, the game became one of Kenan’s greatest wins…along with the ’48 Texas win, the ’57 Navy win, and the ’63 Georgia win (among others). One of those “others” was the 1978 Duke game—Coach Dick Crum’s first encounter with the Blue Devils from Durham. What transpired that afternoon is the stuff of legends, as Morton collection volunteer Jack Hilliard recalls.

Famous Amos Lawrence

“Famous Amos” Lawrence rushing during the 1978 Duke versus UNC football game.

The 1978 UNC football season was head football coach Dick Crum’s first, which he would later call “a season of considerable adjustment.” The season got underway with a 14-10 win in Kenan Memorial Stadium against East Carolina. Then came three losses: Maryland, Pittsburgh, and Miami of Ohio. A win at Wake Forest on October 14 snapped the losing streak, but on October 21, rival NC State came into Chapel Hill and dominated the Heels, 34-7. Three road games followed: a win at South Carolina, followed by losses at Richmond and Clemson.

Hugh Morton joined a full house in “Death Valley” to witness a memorable game against Clemson on November 11. The Tigers were picked as an easy winner. After all, their record was 7-1 thus far in the season while Carolina was 3-6. But through the first three quarters, the Tar Heels led 9-6. Then with 9:43 on the clock in the fourth quarter, Clemson finally got its first touchdown of the game to take a 13-9 lead—a lead that lasted.

Two home games in Kenan followed the Clemson contest: Virginia on November 18 and Duke on the 25th.  A 38-20 win against UVA set the stage for the famous 1978 game against Duke. Following the Virginia win, Coach Crum reminded his team about the importance of the Duke game.  He offered a very special win-incentive, one that I choose to believe changed the outcome of the game. (More about that later.)

Saturday, November 25 was an average fall day with temperatures in the high 40s.  At historic Kenan Memorial Stadium, 45,000 fans witnessed the 65th meeting between Carolina and Duke. On the sideline was photographer Hugh Morton in his usual position. Both teams had identical 4-6 records.

The first three quarters were ho-hum, with Duke dominating play.  In the opening quarter, Carolina scored first with a Jeff Hayes field goal, then Duke followed at the 8:05 mark with a Scott McKinney field goal. McKinney added two more 3-pointers in the second quarter, and Duke led 9-3 at the half.

The third quarter was scoreless, as was most of the fourth, but with 4:20 remaining on the game clock, Duke quarterback Mike Dunn got loose on a keeper for a 29-yard touchdown. The two-point conversion attempt failed, but Duke was in control 15 to 3. At this point many of the fans wearing light blue chose to head home. Like Woody Durham use to say, “They must be giving something away in the parking lot.”

UNC Duke score 3 to 15

But Carolina wasn’t finished. Starting at the Tar Heel 23 yard line, quarterback Matt Kupec completed six of eight passes—covering the needed seventy-seven yards in ninety-six seconds.  The final ten yards was a pass to end Bob Loomis. It was his seventh touchdown of the season, tying a record set by legendary Hall of Famer Art Weiner in 1949. Jeff Hayes converted the extra point, and cutting Duke’s lead to 15-10 with 2:46 remaining on the clock.

touchdown pass

Kupec readies his soon-to-be touchdown pass with Loomis in sight.

Carolina’s ensuing kickoff pinned Duke deep in their own territory. The Tar Heels defense held forth. They used their final two timeouts to stop the clock and forced Duke to punt. With 1:42 remaining and starting at the Carolina 39-yard-line, the Tar Heels were able to run ten plays during the next 89 seconds. During that 1:29, it was running back Amos Lawrence for 18 yards, then 4, then 21 more.  With the ball at the Duke 18, Kupec passed to end Jim Rouse who stepped out of bounds at the Duke 11.  At this point Duke lined up expecting another Kupec pass, but instead it was “Famous Amos” again who shook off tacklers and raced into the east end zone. Kupec’s pass for a 2-point conversion failed, but Carolina led 16-15 with the game clock at 13 seconds. During that final Tar Heel drive, Amos Lawrence was able to top the 1,000 yard mark for his second season in row. Following the scoring drive, the Carolina defense took over and preserved the win.

End zone celebration after scoring the winning touchdown. “Famous Amos” Lawrence is elevated by teammates in the middle of the pack. Is that the game winning ball on the left? Maybe, or it may be one in the hand of a “ball boy.”

In his post game interview, Crum said, “That was simply one great football game.”

On Thursday, March 29, 1979, Crum made the 55-minute drive from Chapel Hill to Greensboro where he was the guest speaker at the Greensboro Kiwanis Club meeting. In addition to his speech notes, he also carried with him a very special piece of memorabilia.

Spring football practice was underway in Chapel Hill, so the first part of Crum’s presentation was about those things that define spring practice…momentum, fundamentals, and recruiting. In the audience was a Kiwanian who was also a former UNC football player who understood all that spring practice stuff: Charlie Justice.

This day was Charlie’s first club meeting since his open heart surgery. Back on October 22, 1978, Justice was in Rockingham at North Carolina Motor Speedway where he was scheduled to be the Grand Marshall for the American 500 NASCAR race. But in the early morning hours he suffered chest pains and was transported to the local hospital. About three weeks later, on November 14, the legendary Tar Heel won his greatest victory: successful open heart surgery at Duke University Medical Center. He would later say, “that’s probably the best place for me to have serious surgery. . . You don’t think they would let me die on their watch, do you?”

At the Kiwanis meeting, after all was said about spring football practice and the upcoming UNC season, Crum took out a football that was signed by the 1978 UNC team members. “[In 1978], we had a season of considerable adjustment and needed a little incentive,” said Crum. “We had the Duke game coming up. If you’re not winning at Carolina you want to beat Duke to make things more peaceful in Chapel Hill for the winter. Charlie Justice was in the hospital . . . so after the Virginia game, I told the team if we beat Duke, we’d sign the ball and give it to Charlie.”

“To our players Charlie Justice is a legend.”

“You know what happened? With four minutes to go and trailing 15-3, I call the team in a huddle around me and tell them ‘we’ve got to win this one, remember, for Charlie Justice.'” Crum then called Justice to come forward and accept the game ball—the ball Famous Amos” Lawrence carried across the goal line for a victory over Duke from a ho-hum-game that became a Tar Heel thrill.

The amazing resume of Robert Vinsant Cox

1948 UNC Football Starters

This Hugh Morton negative is labeled “’48 Starters.” Pictured are Art Weiner (left), Bob Cox (center), Charlie Justice (right), and Hosea Rodgers (top left).

On this day three years ago, September 19, 2016, the Tar Heel Nation lost an icon with the passing of Robert Vinsant (“Bob”) Cox. He was 90-years-old. Many Tar Heels remember Bob as a player on the UNC football teams of the late 1940s. While that’s true, there is much, much more to his resume, as Morton collection volunteer Jack Hilliard recalls.

In the Spring of 2004 when Hugh Morton put together a committee of former UNC football players to critique sculptor Johnpaul Harris’ Charlie Justice statue, Bob Cox (UNC Class of 1949) was one of the first team members selected. Cox would make two visits to Harris’ Asheboro studio during June, 2004 and was instrumental in the final statue presentation which was dedicated in November, 2004 and now stands at the west end of Kenan Memorial Stadium.

Cox was a team member of the Justice Era teams of the late 1940s, having arrived on the UNC campus in 1945 following duty with the United States Marines during World War II. He became a member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity and was a pass-catching end and place-kicker for the Tar Heels. His 18-yard field goal in the second half of the 1947 Sugar Bowl against Georgia gave Carolina a brief 10-7 lead. When Georgia returned to Chapel Hill for a rematch on September 27, 1947, the pass-catching Cox led a Tar Heel win. The sports headline in the Greensboro Daily News on Sunday, September 28th read:
“End Bob Cox Steals Show.”

Cox was second in team scoring in 1947 and 1948—second only to Justice—and was described as “Mr. Extra Point” by Harold Styers in his 1996 book Hark The Sound: A Time Remembered and a Sentimental Journey.  He also joined Carolina’s golf team when it reformed in 1946 following World War II, and was a member of the 1947 Southern Conference Golf championship team.

Cox became a favorite photo-subject of Hugh Morton and following UNC’s great 20-0-win over Duke in 1948, Cox helped carry Charlie Justice off the field. The Morton image of that scene graced the front cover of The State on December 4, 1948.

Following his UNC graduation on June 6, 1949, the NFL’s Chicago Cardinals drafted Cox but he chose to stay at Carolina and attend graduate school.  He also became a member of Head Football Coach Carl Snavely’s coaching staff, working with the varsity ends and the freshman teams from 1949 thru 1951.

Cox has two degrees from UNC: a BA and MA in physical education. Following his time at UNC, he became a member of the Carolina Clowns, a basketball team featuring several former Tar Heel athletes. The Clowns formed in 1949, offering those Tar Heels an opportunity to stay in shape and at the same time raise money for various charity events.
Over the years the Clowns’ roster changed as new players became available while others moved on to different endeavors. Cox joined UNC football players Charlie Justice, Art Weiner, Joe Wright, Jim Camp, Kenny Powell, Sid Varney, Don Hartig, Hosea Rodgers, and Jack Fitch, among others.

About the same time he was playing for the Clowns, Cox operated a Chapel Hill clothing store on Franklin Street called “Town & Campus.” The store was a favorite for ten years. During that time, he was also a member of the Chapel Hill Junior Chamber of Commerce and in 1957 was elected President of the North Carolina Junior Chamber. Then, he was elected President of the United States Jaycees in 1958. As President of the U. S. Chamber, he was a judge at the famous Miss America Pageant in Atlantic City, New Jersey. At the pageant on September 6, 1958, Cox and follow judges selected Mary Ann Mobley from Mississippi as Miss America of 1959 before a national TV audience of 60 million on CBS-TV.

In December of 1961, when the city of Asheville celebrated “Charlie Justice Day,” two former Justice teammates were part of the celebration: Art Weiner and Bob Cox. The Asheville Citizen published a picture of the three on the front page of its December 2, 1961 issue.

Bob could often be seen on campus during Graduation/Reunion weekends and in 1989 he led the annual “Saturday Morning in Chapel Hill” before a full house in Memorial Hall. The topic that May morning, “Why Did We Have it So Good and What Made Us Different?” The program featured a panel of 1940s and 1950s Tar Heel legends including Hugh Morton who presented one of his slide shows.

I remember calling Bob in the late summer of 1996 when I was working with him on the 50th anniversary celebration of the Golden Era teams. I didn’t get an answer when I called, so I called back several minutes later. When I told him I had called earlier, he said, “I was in the car and I don’t talk on the phone while I’m driving. Don’t want to put anyone in danger if my distraction might cause an accident.”

In 1999, Bob Cox was selected to head the class of 1949’s 50th reunion. In the spring of ’99, he wrote a letter to his fellow classmates. In that letter, he said:

“To do anything for 50 years is quite a feat. We are indeed fortunate to be in that elite group that makes up the Class of ’49, which allows us to ask ‘Do you remember when…’

“The walks were gravel; Justice was running rampant at Kenan; Woodhouse was enthralling us on the beauties of ‘Poli-Sci’; Graham, House, and Carmichael were doing their thing at South Building; and hysteria-in-the-wisteria made the Arboretum more than just a name on the sign.

“We are blessed and privileged to call ourselves ‘Alums’ of the University of North Carolina. The years there were absolutely magic; but, even though those years were a special time, appreciation for the contributions of UNC has grown. The UNC reward continues throughout and we should be grateful—emotionally, spiritually, politically, and oh yes, financially.

“Let’s all make a pledge to stay in touch and do what we can to ensure that Carolina’s greatness will continue to grow and prosper. After all, we’re the Class of ’49 and that makes us special. Don’t you agree?”

Best always,

Bob

The letter appeared in the “50th Revised Yackety Yack: Carolina Class of 1949”
Bob was a financial advisor professionally, but he loved fishing, playing tennis, and gardening.  He was often called “Rosebud” because of the beautiful roses he grew.
Finally, during one of those Justice statue visits mentioned earlier in this post, Cox provided the question that prompted one of my favorite Hugh Morton stories. It was during a visit on June 21, 2004. After all of the players had added comments for Johnpaul Harris to note, Morton decided it was time to take some pictures. As he was meticulously checking focus with his trusty 35mm camera, Cox asked, “Hey, Hugh, do you have one of those new digital cameras?”

Morton’s answered,” I sure do,” as he reached down in his camera bag and pulled out a digital camera. “This is a good one,” said Hugh. “It has all the bells and whistles.”

Morton then put the digital camera back in his camera bag and continued taking shots with his conventional 35mm camera.

I don’t know if Bob Cox ever met best-selling author Tom Brokaw; but I choose to believe Robert Vinsant “Bob” Cox could very easily be the poster-boy for “The Greatest Generation.”

Celebrating America in space 2019

This year, 2019, marks several special anniversaries for the United States space program. Today marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Apollo 11 launch that carried the first humans to the lunar surface on July 20, 1969.  Morton Collection volunteer, Jack Hilliard, takes a look at these celebrations.  Then, in an afterward, I’ll share my current thinking on Morton’s photographs made during the Apollo 11 launch.

Aerial view of launchpads at Kennedy Space Center

An aerial view of the launchpads at Kennedy Space Center, date and photographer unknown. The 35mm color slide has likely been removed from its original cardboard mount and placed into generic mount, eliminating a possible processing date stamp or any identifying information that would be evidence that Morton may have purchased the slide from somewhere such as a NASA gift shop.

Soon after NASA announced its “Mercury 7” astronauts on April 9, 1959, the agency selected Morehead Planetarium on the UNC campus as “the place” for celestial navigational training.  Between 1959 and 1975, nearly every astronaut who participated in the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, Skylab, and Apollo-Soyuz Test Project programs trained at the planetarium. All seven of the Mercury team and eleven of the twelve astronauts who walked on the moon trained there.  Longtime planetarium director Tony Jenzano liked to claim that “Carolina is the only University in the country, in fact the world that can claim most all the astronauts as alumni.”  So, as we celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the first moon launch and landing, we must give a tip of the hat to the folks at Morehead who played an important part in the most important peacetime undertaking of the 20th century.

Since I began working with Stephen Fletcher at Wilson Library in 2008, we have determined that Hugh Morton was a frequent visitor at the Kennedy Space Center for Apollo launches. We have determined that he was there for Apollo 9, Apollo 10, Apollo11, and Apollo 14. (He was likely at the launch of Apollo 8 and Apollo17, but we haven’t documented those images yet.)  Over the years, we have written blog-posts about three of the Apollo fights: Apollo 9, Apollo 11, and Apollo 14.

Worker at Michoud Assembly Facilty

Worker inside NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center at Michoud Assembly Facilty in New Orleans, LA.

In February of 1965, Morton visited the NASA Michoud Assembly Facility, a part of Alabama’s Marshall Space Flight Center, but located in New Orleans. There he took several pictures of the Saturn 1B under construction. The Saturn1B would be used for the launch of Apollo 7, in 1968, three Skylab manned launches in the early 1970s and the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project in 1975.

Travel Council of North Carolina touring Kennedy Space Center,

Members of the Travel Council of North Carolina touring Kennedy Space Center, January 23, 1967.

About two years after Hugh Morton photographed the Saturn 1B at Michoud Assembly Facility, he and wife Julia were part of a fifty-person tour of Florida by the Travel Council of North Carolina. Mrs. Dan K Moore, the state’s First Lady, headed the tour.  On Monday, January 23, 1967 the group visited the Kennedy Space Center—just four days before the tragic launchpad fire that killed the Apollo 1 crew.  Astronauts “Gus” Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee died while training for the first Apollo manned mission, which had been scheduled for February 21, 1967.

Mrs. Dan K. Moore at Kennedy Space Center

Mrs. Dan K. Moore at the Kennedy Space Center, posed in front of one of the enormous machines that transport rockets between locations at the center.

The Apollo program would not make a manned flight until the launch of Apollo 7 on October 11, 1968.

Apollo 11 rocket on launchpad

The Saturn V rocket awaits liftoff from its launchpad for the Apollo 11 spaceflight. This image is one of only seven 35mm Kodachrome slides extant from Hugh Morton’s photographs of humankind’s first mission to land man on the moon.

Fifty years ago today, on July 16, 1969, Hugh Morton was one of the more than 3,500 accredited news reporters and photographers representing fifty-six countries, at NASA’s press site, three and a half miles across the Banana River from the Pad A launch facility at Kennedy Space Center. There are Morton images from the press site complex as well as the VIP viewing site where Morton took a photograph of former President Lyndon Johnson.

More than one million spectators jammed the Florida beaches and highways. Among the dignitaries at the VIP viewing site were General William Westmoreland, Chief of Staff of the Army, four members of President Nixon’s cabinet, sixty ambassadors, nineteen state governors, forty mayors, and two hundred congressmen. Vice President Spiro Agnew accompanied former president Lyndon Johnson and wife Lady Bird.

Lyndon Baines Johnson

Former president Lyndon Baines Johnson was among the dignitaries to witness the launch of Apollo 11.

An estimated twenty-five million TV viewers in the United States watched the proceedings and the live coverage was available in thirty-three countries. President Richard Nixon viewed the launch from his office in Washington with NASA liaison officer, Apollo 8 astronaut Frank Borman.

As the launch time approached for Apollo 11, a few fluffy clouds could be seen, with the temperature in the high 80s and a slight breeze. NASA’s weather team at Patrick Air Force Base just south of the space center reported “flawless” launch weather.

At 9:32 am (EDT), on July 16, 1969, the mighty Saturn V (AS-506) rocket began fulfilling President Kennedy’s 1961 goal of “landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to earth,” with the historic launch of Apollo 11.

Grandstand at an observation area during the Apollo 11 launch.

Grandstand at an observation area during the Apollo 11 launch.

Afterword by Stephen

It’s struck me as odd that there are only seven 35mm slides from the Apollo 11 launch in the Morton collection, none of which depict blast off.  Thinking photographically about the moment, I’ve come to believe that there are 35mm color negatives.  Here’s why . . .

The 35mm slides that exist are from the end of a roll of film—slides 31 through 38, with slide  35 missing.  Digital scans made from four of those slides can be seen online via the link in the story above.  Sequentially:

  • frames 31 and 32 show photographers lined up at the press site next to the Vehicle Assemble Building at the Kennedy Space Center;
  • slides 33 and 34 show the Saturn V rocket on the launchpad in the distance;
  • with frame 35 missing, slides 36 and 37 depict a sparsely populated grandstand; and
  • slide 38, the final frame, is the portrait of LBJ wearing sunglasses and looking like he may have been in the sun a bit too long (see the scans above),

At this point, Morton needs to reload his camera with a fresh roll of film.  It’s either a between slides 34 or 35 and slide 36, or after frame 38 that I think misfortune struck.

I believe Morton may have had three cameras in operation—two positioned on tripods, and one carried with him. Why? There are two unidentified rolls of 35mm color negative film (i.e., not color slide film) in the collection depicting a rocket launch—one roll is oriented horizontally the other oriented vertically.  Both are severely out-of-focus.  From the street lamp positioned in the foreground, they appear to be from the same location as the slide above.

From a content perspective regarding the slides, why would LBJ be in the press section?  More likely he would have been in the dignitaries section, which if that is what the grandstands above depict, then we can see was fairly empty.  Is this because it was early before liftoff at 9:32, or after when people would have begun to leave?  I think the later because the shadows are not long.  Morton would have photographed around the press site, then switched his attention to liftoff, then wandered back to the dignitaries section.

Somehow or other, I think the cameras with telephoto lenses on tripods lost their focus.  Or maybe there is another scenario.  What do you think?

 

Hugh Morton retrospective exhibition heads to Mount Airy

Unto These Hills dancer

Unto These Hills dancer, one of more than eighty photographs you can experience when you see the exhibition “Photographs By Hugh Morton: An Uncommon Retrospective.”

Jump for joy!  It’s amazing—though not hard to believe given the high-quality photographs—that the exhibition Photographs by Hugh Morton: An Uncommon Retrospective, opens on July 4th at the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History.  This marks the exhibition’s ninth venue since its debut in Boone, N. C. at the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts back in 2013.  The exhibition will be on display through October 25.  And you can leap once more because I’ve just confirmed that Blowing Rock Art & History Museum will host the exhibition starting November 9 through February 22, 2020.

The “Ol’ Professor” of the “Kollege of Musical Knowledge”

James Kern Kyser, better known as Kay Kyser, the “Ol’ Professor” of the popular radio program of the late 1930s and 40s, the “Kollege of Musical Knowledge,” retired and returned to his alma mater UNC-Chapel Hill in 1951 and started a second career. Earlier this week, on June 18th, 2019, Kyser would have turned 114.  Morton collection volunteer Jack Hilliard briefly looks back at both of his storied careers.

Hugh Morton with Kay and Georgia Kyser

Hugh Morton (left) with Kay and Georgia Kyser during the 1951 Short Course in Press Photography, probably during the Saturday evening banquet at the Carolina Inn, Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The negative is in the Morton collection, but the photographer is unknown and the date is determined by the published photograph of the Kysers seen below.

Soon after his retiring return to Chapel Hill, Kay Kyser picked up where he left off on stage with far less fanfare but as a true friend to his native North Carolina. On April 14, 1951, Kyser, along with his wife Georgia, joined his friend Hugh Morton at the second annual Southern Short Course in Press Photography banquet.

Clipping from the Statesville Daily Record, 18 April 1951

Photograph clipped from the front page of The Statesville Daily Record, Wednesday, April 18, 1951. The clipping depicts the Kysers as they examine a prize-winning photograph by Max Thorpe during the Southern Short Course on Press Photography banquet, held the previous Saturday, April 14.

Editor’s note: Kyser made an appearance at another short course banquet, probably 1952, seen below.  The two scans from negatives shown here are the only photographs of Kay Kyser in the collection.  Neither appear to have been made by Morton unless he used a long cable release and triggered the exposure from a distance.  The photograph below probably dates from the April 1952 short course because Morton’s photograph of  “Happy John”—likely made in 1951—can be seen in the upper right corner of the photographs on display.

Kay Kyser entertaining guests during Southern Short Course in Photography banquet

This negative in the Morton collection had an extensive caption written on the original negative envelope: “Kay Kyser and Billy Arthur are having fun kidding each other at the Southern Short Course In Press Photography in Chapel Hill as Norman Cordon and Beatrice Cobb look on. Kay Kyser and Billy Arthur were both former Head Cheerleaders at UNC, and both are standing (Billy Arthur’s height is about 3 feet 6). Kyser was so much a celebrity and so recognizable when wearing his trademark horn rimmed glasses that he often did not wear the glasses in order to retain his privacy in Chapel Hill. Norman Cordon was a famous Metropolitan Opera star, and Beatrice Cobb was Publisher of the Morganton News-Herald and Secretary of the North Carolina Press Association. Billy Arthur was a newspaper Publisher at Jacksonville, N.C., and later worked for the Chapel Hill paper, and he was also a press photographer.”

Kyser’s participation in the photographic short course was just one example of his many contributions to his native state following his long career in show business. His enthusiasm, energy, and dedication were the prime forces for WUNC-TV to get on the air in January of 1955. His faith and his dedication to the Christian Science Church became his passion. From his office on Franklin Street, Kyser became the producer-director of the film broadcasting department of the Christian Science Church.

Another Editor’s Note: While preparing Jack’s post and researching the Southern Short Course in Press Photography for an upcoming post, I encountered another Kyser contribution: a film titled, Dare: The Birthplace of America, produced by the University of North Carolina with its debut in May 1952.  In a promotional news article printed in advance of the movie’s launch, playwright Paul Green wrote, “And anonymously behind [the film] was the imaginative dynamic of that gifted and devoted North Carolina citizen—Kay Kyser.”

The boy from Rocky Mount became one of the most famous faces of the swing era.

When James K. Kyser entered the University of North Carolina in 1923, his parents, both of whom were pharmacists, thought he would be a lawyer. But he had other ideas. He switched his major to economics because, according to Kyser, “the legal profession meant lots of work.”

Being selected a Carolina cheerleader gave him the opportunity to “perform.” He enjoyed riding around campus in a Model T Ford with the word “Passion” painted on its side. He excelled not only in academics, but he also excelled in extracurricular activities. He acted in Carolina Playmaker productions, was a Sigma Nu fraternity member, and was a member Alpha Kappa Psi, Order of the Grail, and the Golden Fleece honor societies.  Because of his popularity on campus, he would, in 1926, inherit the job of leadership of the UNC campus band; although he couldn’t read music and he played no musical instrument. In addition, he was senior class president in 1928.

After graduation, he took the band on the road, but it didn’t really take off until the mid-1930s when he hired singer Ginny Simms and cornet player Ish Kabbible (his real name Merwyn Bogue). But when it did take off, it was in a league of its own.

Kyser was featured in several Hollywood movies.  His first was That’s Right—You’re Wrong in 1939 with Lucille Ball; the last was Carolina Blues in 1944.  He was often joined by such stars as Milton Berle, Dorothy Lamour, and Rudy Vallee.

He was called “The Ol’ Professor,” and he wore a short academic robe complete with mortarboard and tassel. He loved to clown-around with cornet player Ish Kabibble, plus he did a bit of dancing.  At the top of his career, Kay Kyser’s band scored 35 top-ten hits, and appeared in Hollywood and New York. He played to 60,000 during one week at New York’s Roxy Theater.

The boy from Rocky Mount became one of the most famous faces of the swing era.

During the Depression and throughout World War II, Kyser offered his zaniness as a cure for adversity. At 9:30 on Wednesday nights, more than twenty million Americans would turn their radios to the NBC Red Network to hear Kay Kyser say, “Now we’re gonna have a little syncopation, so I want you to toddle out here and truck around the totem pole and sashay around the stage. What I mean is, C’mon, chillun. Le’s dance!”

Kyser also performed for thousands of World War II soldiers, feeling guilty that so many were marching off to their deaths while he was making big money.  In a 1981 interview with Greensboro Daily News reporter Jim Jenkins, Kyser recalled being on a hillside in the Pacific Theater in the summer of 1945.  “Countless thousands of GIs were sitting on these banks, and we could hear the firing in the background. They’d come up to you after and wring your hand, thanking you, completely oblivious to the fact that they were offering their lives so we civilians would have a good go at home. I thought, my, if that isn’t the ultimate of humility . . . I knew right then I’d never play another theater for money.”

Kyser returned to the UNC campus several times during his musical career.  He often recalled in later interviews, how much he enjoyed the Carolina–Duke football games in 1939 and 1948.

In a Charlie Justice profile in Sports Illustrated magazine in October of 1973, Kyser stated: “It is simply a matter of thinking it through . . . all this glamour can end quite suddenly, so you have to think where you will be when the superficialities are through.  I watched UNC football legend Charlie Justice when he was on top.  I was up to here at the time with my own entertainment career, so I was looking to see if it was getting to him.  It takes a thief to know one, you know.  I tell you, when they recruited Charlie to play here, after his great football career in the Navy, it was a little like getting Clark Gable to appear in a local little-theater production.  He was a star even before he got here.

“But Charlie was just the opposite of a prima donna. It never got to him, as it has to so many people in entertainment . . . .”

“Let me tell you a little story. I took Charlie to a big Hollywood party once.  The Hollywood people were dying to meet him.  Charlie was flabbergasted.  His face must have fallen a foot when he walked into that place.  He didn’t act like a football hero at all. He acted like the smallest of small-town hicks.  He was the one impressed with them. All those movie stars.  He’d never seen anything like it.  I remember he came over to me and said, in that high voice of his, ‘Man, this is tall cotton.’  He just kept on saying it: ‘Taaa-lll cotton.'”

Kay Kyser passed away on July 23, 1985 in Chapel Hill. He was eighty years old.

Georgia Carroll Kyser

Actress and singer Georgia Carroll Kyser, wife of Chapel Hill bandleader Kay Kyser, at a football game in UNC-Chapel Hill’s Kenan Stadium. The Carolina Band in the background was playing “Tar Heels On Hand” to honor Kay Kyser.

Kyser’s wife Georgia Carroll remained in Chapel Hill until her death in 2011 at age 91. She donated Kyser-related photographs and papers to the university. You can still see Kay’s picture in The Carolina Inn on the UNC campus and he is enshrined in the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame.  But for the most part, you won’t find many people who know the words to “Three Little Fishies.”  Just so you know the words go like this: “Boop boop diddum daddum waddum choo, and they swam and they swam all over the dam.”

“. . . flashing him in every pose but on his head.”

Alton Lennon photographs published in Charlotte News

Front page article from The Charlotte News, July 13, 1953, featuring photographs by Hugh Morton. The headshot portraits are among nine negatives made during that sitting that are part of the Hugh Morton collection, as is the negative for the family portrait.

STARK NAKED — Almost everybody around Raleigh and elsewhere was caught with his pants down late last Friday afternoon when Gov. William B. Umstead, as calmly as a man reaching for a glass of water, announced that Al Lennon of Wilmington was his at-long-last choice to succeed Smith as junior U. S. Senator from North Carolina.

To be perfectly frank about it, most of us were not only caught with our pants down.  We found ourselves stark naked.

So began Kidd Brewer’s “Raleigh Round-Up” column for the Thursday, July 16, 1953 issue of the Nashville Graphic (in Nash County, N. C.).  We need to go back a handful of days to that previous Friday, July 10—actually back to June 26—for the start of this story.  For that is the day that North Carolina’s junior senator in the United States Senate, Willis Smith, died while in office from a coronary thrombosis.

Smith’s term was set to end at the close of 1954.  He was completing a term begun by J. Melville Broughton on January 3, 1949 that ended abruptly nine weeks later when Broughton died in office on March 6.  Newly elected governor W. Kerr Scott appointed Frank Porter Graham to replace Broughton, but Graham lost his bid to retain the seat to Smith in a contentious run-off primary election on June 24, 1950.  Smith then handily won the general election on November 7, 1950, earning him the right to complete the remaining four years of Broughton’s term.

Governor Umstead needed to replace Smith, and he kept his selection process very closed-lipped.  The state’s then senior senator was Clyde R. Hoey from the western part of the state, so Umstead looked eastward for his appointee.  The vacant seat had proved to be like the removable chair in the children’s game Musical Chairs, so Umstead sought an appointee who he believed could begin campaigning almost immediately for the primary that would take place in May 1954—just ten months away—win the primary, and then continue on for a full six-year term.

When Umstead announced that the relatively unknown Wilmington attorney and former state senator Alton Asa Lennon as his appointment—late on a Friday afternoon—there were few photographs of Lennon for the press to print in newspapers.  Brewer noted that “there were only one or two photos of the new senator wandering around the State.”

Where on earth was the world going to get photographs of a relatively unknown Wilmingtonian who was destined for the hallowed halls of the United States Capitol?  Fellow Wilmington native Hugh Morton, of course!  How do we know this to be the case?  Later in Brewer’s story we encounter a passage that launched me into a deeper dig to differentiate the numerous negatives made by Morton between Umstead’s announcement and Lennon’s send-off to Washington, D. C. that are extant in the Hugh Morton collection.  Brewer wrote,

Hugh Morton, Wilmington photographer and tourist expert who had himself only two hours earlier been reappointed to the State Board of Conservation and Development, rushed to Lennon’s house and began flashing him in every pose but on his head.  And the state editors and wire boys were already performing that act.  The AP snapped up Morton’s pictures, got its wirephoto services on the ready, and in most late night editions of Saturday morning’s papers, there was old Al smiling out at you from a three-column photo.

Does Brewer’s description of the media blitz match the historical record?  Is it an accurate account of how Morton’s negatives came into being?  Upon searching the Morton collection finding aid, I found three listings for forty black-and-white negatives surrounding this event, with three broadly defined sets in the Morton collection finding aid:

  • Lennon, Alton: Wilmington sendoff celebration to U.S. Senate, 14 July 1953
  • Lennon, Alton: Various portraits, with family, etc., circa 1953
  • Lennon, Alton: With Governor William Umstead, circa 1953

The first two listings are a jumble of images that span from as early as the evening of July 10 through the “send-off” on July 14, officially proclaimed by the governor as “Alston Lennon Day.”  It’s important to note here that many categories of images in the Morton collection are “a jumble.”  When processing the collection after its arrival, the quantity of material in the collection and its lack of internal structure did not permit our archivist, Elizabeth Hull, to refine uncounted rough groupings and descriptions for tens of thousands of items.  Even today, I am hard pressed to find the time to dig too deep.  In this case I needed to sort through the negatives to see what they depicted for the Morton collection preservation digitization project.  A fair amount of work went into it, and I needed to write down what I learned to make sense of it all.  I felt I could turn that information into a useful and informative post, and so what follows is what I’ve gathered thus far.

Let’s start with the easiest listing first: the negatives depicting Umstead and Lennon together.

Amsted and Lennon

Governor William B. Umstead during his meeting with Alton Lennon, the governor’s newly announced appointment to the United States Senate, July 13, 1953.

News accounts stated that the governor made a surprise visit to Wilmington to meet with Lennon on Monday, July 13 during an “open house” in the offices of Star News Newspapers, the publisher of Wilmington’s two major newspapers.  The only update needed for the finding aid for that group of six negatives was a change of “circa” to the exact date.

There are six negatives of Umstead interacting with Lennon, including the following image published as an Associated Press Wirephoto:

Lennon and Umstead in AP Wirephoto

Hugh Morton photograph (uncredited) published as an Associated Press Wirephoto. The clipping shown here is from the front page of the July 14 issue of The Asheville Citizen.

The two remaining listings in the finding aid, however, is where confusion reigned.  Looking at some newspapers (Wilmington’s Morning Star and The Wilmington News, and their jointly issued Sunday Star News, plus The Charlotte News (to which Morton frequently submitted work) proved to be useful.  So, too, did an eye for fashion and a bit of knowledge about photographic film manufacturing.  Let’s tackle the film manufacturing process first.

Film manufacturers use notches on one corner of the film so that photographers can quickly and easily determine the emulsion side of the film.  Photographers need to know the emulsion is facing the outside of the film holder (i.e., toward the lens) when they insert a sheet of film into a film holder while doing so in complete darkness.  As illustrated below (but always done in the dark), if you hold the film in your hand so you can feel the notch(es) with your index finger, then the emulsion is facing upwards. (Of course there wouldn’t be an image on the film when loading new film!)  The notch is also is an indication of the specific film.  For this information we turn to The Acetate Negative Survey by David Horvath in 1987.  According to Horvath’s survey, a single V-shaped notch on safety film made by Kodak indicates that Morton photographed using Super Pan Press, Type B.

film notch code

Most photographic archivists are familiar with notch codes.  But also note the number to the left of the code.  Not as many know what that represents, and sheet film negatives do not always have a number there.  I’ve seen that number referred to both as a batch code and as a machine code: the former meaning that the manufacturer would be able to identify the emulsion batch, and the latter indicating what machine cut the film into sheets.  For archivists, we can use that number to help (it’s not definitive) determine if a photographer made a group of images during the same general time period. How so?  Most photographers purchased sheet film in boxes of 25 or 100, so each sheet in a box or boxes purchased at the same time will likely have the same batch/machine code.  In this case all but four of the forty negatives have a single notch with the code number 97.  For now, hold that thought.

The images made closest to July 10 that I found in the newspapers appeared on Sunday, July 12, meaning that photographers took them on either on the evening of the July 10 or some time on July 11.  Here’s one, a “Staff Photo by Ludwig” from The Sunday Star News on July 12:

Lennon Family in Sunday Star News

Morton took a similar group portrait of the family around the same table, but without Lennon’s parents. (You might not be able to tell from the scan from microfilm, but it’s clear in Morton’s negative that while there are rolls on the center platter, everyone’s plates and bowls are empty.)  The caption identifies the location of the family portrait as Lennon’s summer cottage in Wrightsville Beach.  As seen at the top of this post, The Charlotte News published a portrait of the family seated near a fireplace, wearing the same clothes, on the same page as it ran four portraits across a four-column-wide article.  That setting (law office versus home) doesn’t seem to mesh with Kidd Brewer’s description.  One of those single portraits may have been published in a Saturday morning newspaper that I’ve not had time to explore.  If so, then Brewer’s account could be accurate.

All totaled there are nine of the similarly posed Alton Lennon portrait negatives extant in the Morton collection, and at least one other pose made it to print.  Lest we forget about Hugh Morton’s other favorite go-to publication, The State, here’s another of the portraits . . .

Lennon portrait by Morton, cover, The State, 25 July 1953 issue

United States Senator-Designate Alton Lennon, portrait by Hugh Morton on the cover of the 25 July 1953 issue of The State.

Below is a photograph published in The Wilmington News on July 13, taken by Morton but uncredited, showing a smiling Lennon with “fellow attorneys” posed in what, after consulting various other negatives in the collection, appears to be his law office in the Odd Fellows Building at 229 Princess Street.  Many attorneys had their offices there because it was only a short walk to the city hall and county courthouse.  The steps of Thalian Hall were just across the street on North 3rd Street.

Alton Lennon with fellow attorneys

As captioned in the July 13, 1953 edition of The Wilmington News: “SENATOR LENNON CONGRATULATED — Fellow attorneys gather around Alton A. Lennon to extend congratulations on his appointment to the U. S. Senate. Shown with the new senator are Cicero Yow, H. Winfield Smith, John J. Burney Jr., Marsden Bellamy, Addison Hewlett Jr., Solomon B. Sternberger and Elbert Brown.” The photograph by Hugh Morton is uncredited.

There are several negatives made in that room, where the same composite photograph of the 1947 North Carolina Senate members is visible. Lennon was an elected member of the 1947 North Carolina Senate.  In some of the negatives, Lennon’s diploma from Wake Forest College can be seen hanging on the perpendicular wall to the left.

Your eye for fashion now comes into play.  You cannot tell from the picture above (as reproduced here from microfilm) but what can clearly be seen in the negative is that Lennon is wearing a double-breasted suit jacket.  It may be the same as seen in this detail of a negative made by Morton on the steps of Thalian Hall below:

Alton Lennon at Thalian Hall

Detail from a negative made by Morton of Alton Lennon standing on the stairs of Wilmington’s Thalian Hall. Notice the double breasted suit jacket.

It could very well be, then, that Morton photographed Lennon on that Friday evening after the announcement when he would have been in his office with his fellow attorneys, and also on the steps of Thalian Hall.

Alton Lennon standing in convertible

Newly-appointed Senator Alton Lennon standing and waving from the back of a convertible as part of his official send-off celebration.

At this point in his life, Hugh Morton was the vice president of the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce.  The chamber organized a special “send off” committee and named Morton as its chairman. Festivities on July 14 began with a parade through the streets to the train station.  Lennon’s car stopped for him to pose for photographers:

 

Now what about those four negatives with a different batch/machine code number?  Here they are:

Alton Lennon campaigning

The machine code for these is 419 (not 97).  Note, too, a portion of a campaign poster on the side of the car (lower right image).  And that eye for fashion?  Note Lennon is not wearing a bow tie, which he wears in all of the negatives made during the appointment days except during his meeting with Umstead, when he wears a light-colored suit and not a darker shade.  There is enough evidence to conclude that Morton did not make these four negatives during events surrounding the Lennon announcement and send off.  Lennon began campaigning soon after his appointment so we can date them from 1953 or 1954, but we cannot presume Morton made these four negatives in Wilmington.  The top left negative is part of the online collection, and the metadata for that has been updated to reflect the distinction.  The finding aid groupings will also be revised to reflect the new findings.

Alton Lennon campaigning

Alton Lennon campaigning for the 1954 Democratic Party primary election, circa 1953-1954.

Epilog

Alton Lennon or his surrogates used at least two of Morton’s photographs during the 1954 primary.  Below is a page from the April 24, 1954 issue of The State:

Alton Lennon political advertisement published in The State

Alton Lennon political advertisement published in April 24, 1954 issue of THE STATE.

The image above is cropped from one of the many negatives Hugh Morton exposed in Lennon’s law office, one of two with that “Keep America Strong” illustration in the background.  It’s the upper portion of a calendar, which explains the last letters of the word “COMPANY” next to his left arm.

Morton’s family portrait of the Lennons seated in front of their fireplace reappears in a political advertisement paid for by Rocky Mount Friends of U. S. Senator Alton Lennon in that city’s newspaper, The Evening Telegram, on May 24:

Lennon political advertisement in The Evening Telegram

Lennon political advertisement in The Evening Telegram, May 24, 1954, featuring Hugh Morton’s family portrait made in July 1953.

Lennon lost his bid for the full term.  He and six other candidates fell to W. Kerr Scott on the Saturday, May 29 election day, with Scott securing 25,323 more votes than second place Lennon.

Still Alone at the Top

This post comes from regular contributor Jack Hilliard, who takes another look at the man “Still Alone at the Top” because today, May 18th, marks a special day for long time Tar Heels like Jack.

On this day, in 1924, a boy was born in the Emma community of Asheville. He would grow up to be the greatest athlete to ever play sports at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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. [Click on the photograph to see the full negative without cropping.]

UNC’s Michael Jordan was one of the most effectively marketed athletes of all time, and thanks to the emergence of the 24/7 cable sports channels, and in the latter part of his playing career the internet, Jordan’s heroics became all access, all the time. His image has been on the cover of Sports Illustrated more than sixty times . . . so far. And it’s no surprise that he also has seventy-eight mentions on the TV quiz show Jeopardy.

In the fall of 1999 when UNC’s campus newspaper, The Daily Tar Heel selected a panel of Tar Heel sports experts to determine the ten greatest UNC athletes of all time, many long-time Tar Heels, like me, thought Michael would be the top vote getter. Each week the paper listed one of the top ten athletes, and as expected, Jordan beat out Phil Ford, Mia Hamm, Lawrence Taylor, Lennie Rosenbluth, B. J. Surhoff, and Sue Walsh. In fact, Jordan beat out every other Tar Heel athlete, except one. He finished second to Charlie Justice.

Justice never had his picture on a Sports Illustrated cover and was never mentioned on Jeopardy.  When Justice played for Carolina during the seasons between 1946 and 1949, there were no 24/7 cable sports channels. In fact there was no TV in North Carolina at that time and the Internet was decades away.

I once asked Justice, “How did you become so famous without TV or the Internet.” Said Justice, “I didn’t need ‘em, I had Jake Wade writing stories and Hugh Morton taking pictures.” (Jake Wade was the award-winning Sports Information Director for UNC from 1945 until 1962).

I remember getting up early on the morning of Monday, November 29, 1999 and driving from Greensboro to Chapel Hill. I wanted to make sure that I got a copy of The Daily Tar Heel. It didn’t take me long to find that collector edition of the paper with the Section B headline that said “The Making of a Legend,” with Charlie’s life story filling the page. To support the DTH story, there were three Justice pictures, two of which were taken by Hugh Morton: the photograph above that opens this post, and the one that follows (but cropped to include only Justice).

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

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

In an interview on October 18, 2003, Hugh Morton had this to say about his dear friend: “Clearly the most exciting football player I’ve ever seen and I’ve seen a lot of them.” And as for Justice’s life after football, Morton added this: “There was not a worthy cause in this state he didn’t support. He used his fame to do good things. He wasn’t charging for it, he just wanted to do it.”

So, on this day, May 18, 2019, a tip-of-the-hat to Tar Heel Legend Charlie “Choo Choo Justice” who would have turned 95.  If a survey were taken on the UNC-CH campus all these years later, I don’t believe there would be many, if any, students who knew him or ever saw him play. That is their loss, because it’s doubtful we’ll ever see the likes of Charlie Justice again.