Alumni Reunion Weekend, pandemic style

Charlie Scott
UNC’s Charlie Scott, Class of 1970, attempts a layup during the Tar Heels matchup with the Demon Deacons of Wake Forest in Carmichael Auditorium, January 17, 1970. Scott dropped a career high 43 points that Saturday afternoon, but the Tar Heels fell to Wake Forest, 91-90. After two straight ACC titles and NCAA Final Four appearances in 1968 and 1969, the 1970 Tar Heels finished the season with a first-round upset loss in the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament and an early exit from the National Invitational Tournament. (Photograph slightly cropped on the left side by the author.)

Had the novel coronavirus pandemic not besieged the world, the southern part of heaven—like many college campuses—would be celebrating commencement this weekend.  At UNC, commencement weekend also marks the alumni reunions for several anniversary years.

Each year for the past decade or so, I’ve assembled into a digital slideshow about 50 to 100 images from the “UNC Photo Lab” collection for the fiftieth anniversary class. Whenever possible, I’ve added images from the Hugh Morton and, more recently, the Durham Herald Company collections. The slide show is part of Wilson Library’s offerings for visiting alumni and anyone who happens to find themselves on campus that day.  Each slideshow has been paired with a selection of songs drawn from the Southern Folk Collection for the same reunion year.  Both run on a continuous loop through the afternoon.  Also on display are the yearbooks for the featured reunion years.  People wander into the building, have some cookies and a cold drink, and take in the architecture, the exhibitions, and our special slideshow and musical walk through memory lane.

This year marks the fiftieth anniversary for the Class of 1970.  With the campus closed in mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic, I was not able to go through the collections and select images for digitization. Graduation ceremonies are not going to take place, and the General Alumni Association’s weekend celebrations have been postponed. Not to be deterred, Wilson Library created an online version of our Wilson Library open house event.  In some ways it is better because there is direct access to digitized issues of The Daily Tar Heel and Black Ink, neither of which would get placed on display due to the fragility of newsprint.  The above photograph of Charlie Scott is featured in the online event because it is one of the few previously scanned photographs from the 1969–1970 academic year that I can access from home. In the online collection, there are four images from the contest between the Tar Heels and the Demon Deacons played on January 17, 1970.

Side Story

A search through the Morton collection finding suggests that Hugh Morton was not on campus much during that academic year, and that he did not photograph many athletic events. He photographed the UNC versus NC State football game in Raleigh on September 20.  The only other basketball games with photographs in the collection were the North Carolina State on February 9 (although there is a note in the finding aid that says “all same game?”), and the ACC Tournament in March.

 

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