Don't smoke your eye out!

Pappy says: “Never shoot at the bull’s eye, shoot at the center of the bull’s eye.”

—from I Remember, by Joe Clark

Joe Clark and Andy Griffith
The photograph above (cropped) of Andy Griffith aiming a slingshot while holding a cigarette in the same hand was among the first negatives from the Morton collection that I scanned soon after the collection arrived, and it has remained one of my favorites. It just seems so funny to me to have both in your hand at the same time. I’ve used that photograph in public presentations several times and have asked most audiences if anyone knew who the fellow on the left might be. No one ever came up with his name.
Elizabeth has been egging me to write more posts, and she thought the recently enacted North Carolina law banning indoor smoking would be a good stepping off point for an entry on some of Hugh Morton’s scenic landscapes of tobacco fields. The Andy Griffith image, however, quickly popped into my head so I asked her and David if there might be some other interesting indoor smoking images in the collection. Neither could recall any, but Elizabeth pointed me to Morton’s book Making a Difference in North Carolina to see if there might be some in there.
Other than an unlit cigar, I did not find any smoking photographs. But on page 283 . . . Eureka! . . . I saw a group photograph with then Governor Luther H. Hodges, Sr. and Andy Griffith—not of them smoking, but including someone standing next to Griffith’s left side who is completely cropped out of the photograph except for his coat sleeve and the tiniest corner of his eyeglasses. That sliver immediately triggered my brain cells that are associated with the Griffith slingshot image. Looking back through the scanned negatives, David pulled up the image used for the book. Here’s an uncropped version of the group photograph:

Notice the slingshot in the hand of our mystery gentleman.
The caption for the photograph in Making a Difference describes the gathered posers as members of the Honorary Tar Heels in New York City, so off I went to the Library’s catalog. It revealed a record for a booklet in the amazingly deep North Carolina CollectionThe Honorary Tar Heels 1946-1967: A Pictorial History written by Bill Sharpe. Inside the booklet is a group portrait of the attendees of their 21 January 1956 dinner in New York City, and standing next to Hugh Morton, with his armed wrapped around him, is the mystery man—identified as “Joe Clark, H.B.S.S., Detroit, Michigan.”
“Googling” that acronym led to a web page at that presents five possible definitions. “Hank’s Balanced Salt Solution” didn’t apply, nor did the next few, but wait . . . the last one?  Well that would be “Hill Billy Snap Shooter (Joe Clark photography book)” . . . and this mystery enters into the realm of the surreal!!! That revelation explains another photograph in the collection, shown below, with our now identified Joe Clark aiming to shoot with a camera rather than a slingshot.  That’s Hugh Morton on the right, . . . and that’s Bill Sharpe in the middle, smoking indoors in New York City.

Once again I cannot stump the North Carolina Collection, which has Clark’s 1969 book, I Remember, a collection of his poems and photographs. And there it is, on the spine and the title page, “Joe Clark HBSS.”  Luther Hodges, Sr. signed the inside front endpaper of the book in 1970, and on the next page is written “Joe Clark—the author is an old friend and an Honorary Tar Heel.”  Davis Library pitched in, too, with Clark’s earlier book, Back Home, published in 1965. The front endpaper of that book depicts Clark with a camera over his shoulder—and a slingshot in his hands. More research revealed Clark’s other books: Detroit, God’s Greatest City published in 1962, Lynchburg (1971), Tennessee Hill Folk (1973), and Up the Hollow from Lynchburg (1975). The Bentley Library at the University of Michigan has a modest collection of Clarke’s published works and a videotape interview of him featuring his son, Junebug Clark.
Another Morton collection mystery solved! Oh, one last thing . . . .  Since the group portrait in Making a Difference in North Carolina is cropped to the right of Griffith, the above uncropped version unveils a gentleman on the far right. That’s photographer Joe Costa.
As for the rest of the Honorary Tar Heels story? Well, there are more photographs in the Morton collection of this and other of the group’s events. Looks like Elizabeth won’t have to egg me on for another post!

19 thoughts on “Don't smoke your eye out!”

  1. Great job of research, Stephen. I wish there was time enough to research each of the Morton images that way…but I know, there are far too many. I’m really glad you got the Joe Clark identification. I would never have noticed that tiny shot of glasses in the “Making A Difference…” image. (The other two gentlemen in the picture are Richard Linke (left), Andy’s manager and Orville Campbell (3rd from left with glasses), Chapel Hill newspaper publisher.
    Finally, I call your attention to Patrick Cullom’s blog, “A Contemporary of Morton,” posted on V2H on December 19, 2007.
    In the first Edward McCauley image, Hugh Morton is seated in the passenger seat of the car. While it is outdoors, look closely at his right hand.

  2. now THAT is an entertaining post, even by v2h’s high standards… btw, ‘andy griffith show’ experts tell me sheriff taylor lit up in at least 10 episodes, nearly all airing before the surgeon general’s report of 1964…. whether indoors or outdoors, i don’t know…

  3. To follow up on Lew Powell’s Andy Griffith comment, “The Andy Griffith Rerun Watchers Club” lists the episodes on their web site:

  4. thanks for the specifics on andy’s habit, jack… seems almost overnight, doesnt it, that cigarettes have lost their omnipresence… and surely somewhere there’s a burial ground for all those ashtrays!…

  5. Joe Costa was President of the National Press Photographers Association and considered one of the very best of the best. He was enormously helpful in the establishment of the Southern Short Course in Press Photography and in its continued success.
    There is a picture somewhere of Joe Clark, HBSS, standing on the upper cross bar of one of the two upright supports of the Mile High Swinging Bridge taking a picture.We had a print of the picture that he took and there is not another one like it.

  6. Joe Costa was a hoot. He always put HBSS (Hill Billy Snap Shooter) after his name to poke fun at the PhD-types out there. I remember him showing me a great collection of photos of moonshine stills. Great guy to spend time with.

  7. Great to hear you talkin’ about my dad (Joe Clark HBSS). I can remember hearing Grandfather Mountain and Hugh Morton stories. I have a 16×20 print of my dad walking the high beam of the Mile High Bridge Julia mentioned. YT… Jb.

  8. Joe Clark was often at my grandparents home in tiny Mayville, Michigan in the early years of our annual Threshing. Pictures of the Threshing have appeared in his books.

  9. Junebug is too modest. His dad, Joe Clark(self proclaimed Hill Billy Snap Shooter) was an amazingly talented (and quite famous)artist who photographed numerous images for Life Magazine–black and white photos of a simpler time that was about to be forgotten. My mother, photographer, Marji Silk befriended Joe in his later years and got to know him quite well. He had a wonderful eye, was quite a character and was very generous with his time and his photos.

  10. It has been very interesting to look up Joe Clark on the Internet today. I remember meeting him – and June Bug a long time ago. They used to live next door, up the hill a bit from my grandparents – the Stock’s, in Farmington MI. I have some great pictures of all of us together. Made for a great childhood! I always was intrigued with outhouses – and love the book of all styles of outhouses that Joe put out. Good times.

  11. My father Avrum and Mr Clark would occasionally take photos together and I at that tine attended school at North Farmington High and was not much into photography until the day dad turned down a rual driveway on 12 Mile Rd and I met a very gracious and down to earth photographer named Joe Clark who held the talent for truly taking photos that could speak a thousand words

  12. I enjoyed coming across this site. My family has many photos taken by Joe. These include pictures of June Bug, when he was a baby and his father Wade Clark. My mother was the daughter of Wade’s brother, Edgar Poe Clark.

  13. Hi there! Late to the party by a year, but I knew Joe Clark during the last years of his life. Back in the 1980’s, I worked at The Buggy Works restaurant in Farmington Hills, MI. Joe was a regular there and I waited on him frequently. He was such an awesome human! I’m sure I met Junebug there a few times too. And a woman – maybe Junebug’s wife? – would accompany Joe also. I’m sorry I can’t recall her name. The Payne family, who own the restaurant still, created an entire room in the restaurant where Joe’s original photgraphs of baptisms and daily life are hanging. It’s quite a testament to the type of quality man Joe was, and I enjoy seeing his work there every time I go. (In April we had a baby shower for my SIL in the Joe Clark Room at the restaurant) 🙂
    Anyway, just thought I would add my $ .02 since I randomly thought of Joe today and Googled him for the heck of it. This was the 2nd page I clicked on. I’m glad I did! 🙂
    The world would be a whole lot better place if it were filled with the likes of Joe Clark, H.B.S.S. He was a true gentleman and it was an honor to have waited on him and to have known him in his final years.

  14. Fifty years ago today (October 3, 1960 at 9:30 PM, Eastern), the first episode of “The Andy Griffith Show” aired nationally on CBS-TV. That first show, titled “The New Housekeeper,” introduced Frances Bavier as Aunt Bee and she became an important part of the program which ran until April 1, 1968. In reality the show continues until this day…in reruns…all 249 episodes.
    “When I discovered I could entertain, I worked hard at it. It’s the only thing I do well. I can’t be a company director. I can’t be an accountant. I can’t make furniture, but I can entertain,” said Tar Heel Andy Griffith.
    In a July 1982 interview, Hugh Morton talked about his long-time friend Andy Griffith. “I’ve known Andy for right at 30 years. We’ve been good friends right through it.” Morton then related a story about how in 1953 he needed an entertainer for a banquet at the Carolina Inn in Chapel Hill. “Someone suggested a UNC grad student who was active in the Carolina Playmakers.” So Morton hired the student for $25. The student was Andrew Griffith, and on that night he performed his now famous routine “What It Was, Was Football.” The crowd loved the performance, and within a few weeks the routine was recorded by Chapel Hill record producer Orville Campbell. Griffith was on his way to Broadway, movies and then to TV.
    US Highway #52 enters North Carolina at Mount Airy and for eleven miles is known as the Andy Griffith Parkway.
    A dedication ceremony was held on October 16, 2002 in the parking lot behind the Mount Airy City Hall. Andy Griffith accepted an invitation to attend the ceremony. It was his first public appearance in his hometown in over 40 years. He was joined that day by his wife Cindi, friends William Friday and Hugh Morton, state and local officials and more than 3000 of his fans. North Carolina Governor Mike Easley, in his address, said:
    “In an age of instant celebrity, Andy Griffith has earned his fame the old-fashioned way through hard work. He is the rare performer that has mastered nearly every branch of the entertainment field, from music to stand-up comedy, outdoor theater, Broadway, television shows and movies. Andy Griffith’s countless accomplishments make North Carolinians proud to call him a native Tar Heel.”
    I recall talking with Morton in February of 2004 when he had just returned from a book-signing in Manteo. Said Morton, “I was sitting there signing books, when the next person in line stepped up to the table. It was my friend Andy Griffith.” I don’t know this for sure, but that meeting might have been the last time the two were together.

  15. The third photograph–with Joe Clark, Bill Sharpe, Andy Griffith, and Hugh Morton–appears in the 15 January 1970 issue of THE STATE magazine (cropped to exclude Clark). The caption identifies the photographer as Aycock Brown; it also draws attention to Sharpe’s “Tar Heel tie,” adding that Sharpe “had a quantity of them manufactured, gave many to his friends.”

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