Indian Motorcycle

Serendipity strikes again!  While going through negatives of UNC students from the 1940s, I saw an image of a woman sitting on an Indian motorcycle that hadn’t been digitized and just cried out, “Scan me!”  It’s today’s featured photograph from the Hugh Morton collection.
Indian motorcycle
The rider in this portrait (or advertisement?) is probably not a UNC student because I tracked downed Anderson’s bicycle shop in Wilmington city directories.  Would anyone like to try and identify the model and year of the motorcycle?  Bonus points for the rider, although I suspect she may be a model rather that the owner, but you never know.
Here are some clues to sleuth:

  • According to Wikipedia, production of traditional Indians was extremely limited in 1949, and no 1949 Chiefs are known to exist.  Indian halted the manufacture of all products in 1953.
  • In Hill’s Wilmington city directory for 1948-49, Anderson’s advertisement in the “Classified Buyer’s Guide” featured the Indian Motorcycles brand, which was not mentioned in the store’s ad in the previous directory for 1947.
  • Anderson’s address in the 1948-1949 directory was 221 Princess Street, which was just down and across the street from the offices of Hugh MacRae & Company and The Linville Company at 214 Princess Street.  In the next city directory available to me, 1952, there is no Anderson Bike Shop listed, and 221 Princess is occupied by the offices of The Linville Company, and Hugh MacRae and Company.  In the 1947 directory, neither the Anderson Bike shop advertisement nor its alphabetical listing mention Indian motorcycles.

Anderson's Bicycle advertisement

Veterans Day 2011

Hugh Morton and others, October 1944
Hugh Morton, in military uniform, shaking hands with an unidentified woman in an office while two unidentified military men look on, October 1944.

Today is Veterans Day, so let’s look at a group portrait that includes Hugh Morton (right) sometime after he was a promoted to rank of Technician, 4th grade (“4T”) as indicated by the insignia of three chevrons above a “T.”  If the calendar on the wall was current at the time, the photograph dates from October 1944.
Up to now, the description for this photograph in the online collection suggested that the image might have been made in New York state, based upon the wall calendar with advertising for the Columbian Rope Company headquartered in Auburn, New York; smaller type farther down the calendar, however, reads “C. J. Hendry Co. / San Francisco San Pedro San Diego” so I have removed that part of the description to eliminate the New York suggestion.
But where was the photograph made? I don’t know (though I have a hunch from the clues below), but maybe some detective work by our readers might help solve that question.  Here’s a few clues to follow:

  • By my timeline (more on that in a future post!) Morton was overseas in October 1944, so Noumea, New Caledonia might be a likely possibility.  Bob Hope was performing there during 1944, and Morton photographed some of his performances.  Could the woman be a performer?
  • If the place is Noumea, the date would probably be early in October.  At some point the U. S. Army 161st Signal Corp assigned Morton to cover the 25th Infantry, a part of the Sixth Army.  The 25th Infantry had been stationed on New Caledonia since early Febrary 1944 to prepare for the invasion of the Philippines.  The Battle of Leyte began on October 17th and “A-day”—when the Sixth Army forces landed—was October 20th.  If Morton was assigned to Charles Restifo’s unit (and I think he may have been), then Restifo’s autobiography says that he was aboard a ship on October 1st headed to Leyte.  The land battle at Leyte launched the Allies’ Philippines Campaign; the Battle of Leyte Gulf, begun on October 23rd, was the largest naval operation of the war and possibly of all time.  It’s unlikely Morton would have been lingering in Noumea through the middle of October.
  • What is the rank of the officer in the center?  I couldn’t find information on the rank for the five bands on each of his shoulders, as I did for the insignia on Morton’s sleeve.  If we can determine the rank, we might find who held that rank at Noumea and locate other portraits of him, or if the rank was high enough, search for people in the Army of that rank in the Pacific.

Enjoy the detective work if you choose to explore today’s photograph, but even if you do not, please raise a toast to our veterans!

Hugh Morton and soldiers at leisure
Six soldiers sitting around a table, toasting with drinks. Left to right: Eddie Seliady, Frank Ilc (?), "Lt. Shepherd, " Steve Leakos, Henry van Baalen, and Hugh Morton.


Newly discovered John Loudermilk photograph

Here’s a newly identified photograph of John D. Loudermilk (also known back then as “Johnny Dee”) performing on a stage with three band members.  This image likely got passed over for scanning when processing the Morton collection because, as you can see in the scan, the negative is a double exposure—albeit very lightly so.
I’m researching images for an upcoming exhibit called “Curating Sound” and I scanned the unidentified negative just to see what was depicted.  The photograph probably won’t be in the exhibit, but I wanted to share it here because it probably hasn’t seen the light of day before now.
Can anyone venture a guess on the date, venue, or some identify the band members?  You can’t tell from the scan as it’s sized for this blog post, but John is playing a Gagliano acoustic guitar, and the guitarist on the left is playing a Gretsch electric.  Does that information help to date the image? John are you still reading along out there?


What is 337?
If we were playing Jeopardy!, that would be the question to the answer, “The number of photographs in the online collection of photographs by Hugh Morton with descriptions containing the word “unidentified” (as of May 20th 2011).”  Of course, that answer was initially my question!

This roundabout foolery was prompted by an email I received last week from a person who sent me a message after viewing the above photograph.  He wrote:

In the picture titled MacArthur at Binalonan, Luzon. The “Other man” does indeed look like General Mullins. I have pictures from my recently deceased uncle’s collection of pictures of General Mullins. My uncle was a Lt in the medical services attached to the 161st during the campaign that included Balete Pass Binalonan and San Manuel and was present at some of the meetings between Generals MacArthur and Mullins. I also have pictures taken by Hugh Morton of the signal corp and many others of that campaign.

I am currently researching the period of Morton’s photography prior to 1952 when he inherited Grandfather Mountain.  During the past few weeks I’ve been going through issues of The State magazine, looking for a variety of things including Hugh Morton photographs.  Also, during the last few weeks of the semester, two work-study students, (thank you Emily and Stephanie!) culled various UNC student publications issued during Morton’s years at UNC.  We found many published images and have updated their records when for the images that appear in the online collection.  The “unidentified” question above popped into my head after replacing that word several times while updating those records.  To find the answer, I simply typed “unidentified” into the search box on the main page of the online collection of Hugh Morton’s photographs.
In most cases, it’s not that 337 images are totally unidentified. More likely, we know something about a photograph but it still contains some unknown element—person, place, plant, etc.  There are indeed some photographs about which we know very little or nothing—and it could be you that knows “one more thing” that provides new information to those who use the Morton collection.  If you see something unidentified in a photograph that you can identify, please let me know using the online feedback form on the front page of the online collection.  Give it a try!!!

Who Are We?—Military Brass

It dawned on me the other day that we haven’t had a recent “Who Am I?” post that I could remember.  Turns out that we haven’t had one for six months!  A brief excursion through the online collection of Morton photographs led me to an image that, with a little (OK, maybe a bit more) digging might be able to piece together better identifications—or to butcher an often butchered ad slogan, “Better IDing through group sourcing.”
Military personnel standing next to airplane
In this case, “Who am I?” becomes “Who are we?” The image above portrays enough military brass—two of the men have four stripes on their shoulders and decorated hat brims—that we should be able to get a couple names for those unidentified faces.  Bonus points for figuring out the event.
To get started, click on the photograph to see the image with its most current catalog information.  Use the zoom tool just above the image to see details. Once you are looking at the image in the online collection (i.e., not within this blog post), use the slider to zoom in and out.  Once you have zoomed in, you can reposition the detail area within the image either by moving the little red box within the thumbnail, or by clicking on the image and dragging your cursor.
I’ve done a little investigation to set your off in the right (I hope!) direction. The hat badges and shoulder marks or shoulder boards worn by several men appear to those used of the United States Army Transportation Corps, as described in two blog posts at “Hawse Pipe.” The first post focuses on the hat badge; the second post describes the hat badge without manufacturer hallmark, and includes other insignia including shoulder marks.
Happy IDing!

Mystery photo: Two men and a monkey

A few weeks ago I launched into a fiftieth anniversary post on Hugh Morton’s photographs made during John F. Kennedy’s campaign tour in North Carolina.  In the course of researching the post, I got intrigued by the story behind the event and began reading Triumph of Good Will: How Terry Sanford Beat a Champion of Segregation and Reshaped the South by John Drescher. In the mean time as that post takes shape, I’m posting the following lighter fare from Elizabeth. —Stephen
Can anyone help us out on this one? We’re stumped by these images of two men, a small monkey, and some kind of industrial equipment. What the heck is going on? (Morton included the color version in a slide show he titled “Superlatives,” but we’re unsure as to the “superlative” nature of the image content. Monkeys are superlative, in my opinion, but is there more to it than that?). Let us hear from you in the comments!

Who Am I?–Folk Music Edition

As I pick my way through images in the disturbingly large “People, Unidentified” pile, I find myself particularly troubled by the portraits of traditional musicians who remain nameless. Maybe it’s because I’m a musician myself, or because I know that these images may document little-known players — at any rate, this is where you, dear readers, come in. What can you tell us about the people shown below?
I have a feeling the woodcarver on the left must be a well-known individual. I’ve certainly seen his work before, but I don’t know his name. As for the banjo player on the right, the only clue I can offer is that his banjo is autographed by Roni Stoneman, of Hee-Haw fame.

Here’s a very well-dressed gentleman playing a dulcimer with a turkey feather, as per Appalachian Mountain tradition . . .

And another dulcimer player, not quite so well-dressed, sitting on a split rail fence with Grandfather Mountain behind him (not visible in this shot). This man’s dulcimer is a real work of art — hand painted with birds, flowers, and the letters “N, M, P,” and with hand carved pegs also in the shape of flowers (I think these are dogwoods, the North Carolina state flower) and birds (cardinals, the North Carolina state bird).

I’m uncertain as to whether the fiddler below might be Roby Coffey, brother of previously-blogged-about “Happy John” Coffey, or Shoner Benfield, previously identified in a “Singing on the Mountain” image. I’m leaning towards Benfield. But what about the young guitar player? (Apologies for the streak partially obscuring his face).

And finally, I’ll leave you with one of my favorite images of “Happy John” and his compatriots at “Singing on the Mountain.” Is that Roby to the right of Happy John? Does anyone know these other characters?

UPDATE 6/10/09: Many, many thanks to the commenters who have identified nearly all of the individuals above: Tom Wolfe and Floyd Gragg, Shoner Benfield and Randall Calloway, Edd Presnell. Only turkey feather man remains a mystery.
Now that we know Edd Presnell‘s name, we can find several resources having to do with him and his wife Nettie: 1) Nettie was featured on the poplar CD Appalachian Breakdown; you can hear brief clips of her playing on Amazon; 2) Edd was featured on UNC-TV’s Folkways program (the audio link on this page doesn’t work); 3) Both Edd and Nettie were interviewed in 1984 as part of the Southern Oral History Program (no transcript or audio available online, unfortunately).

Camp Yonahnoka, part II

We have really enjoyed reading the comments and emails we’ve received in response to my last post about Linville’s Camp Yonahnoka. Most of the campers we’ve heard from attended in later years than are represented in the Morton collection (his images date primarily from the 1940s and early 1950s, with a few into the early ’60s). One of our commenters even mentioned that his grandmother, Mrs. Juanita Forbes, worked at the camp for many years. I do believe this is her on the left below, in 1956. Does anyone know the other two ladies?

I finally took a look at the camp brochures we have here in the North Carolina Collection, and they are fascinating! From these I learned that the camp was started in 1925 and (at least as of 1954) was operated continuously by the same directors, Mr. and Mrs. Charles V. Tompkins of Episcopal High School in Alexandria, VA. Anyone know how long it lasted?

Yonahnoka offered an amazing variety of activities, from photography, sports (including swimming, golf, tennis, archery, and riflery), “Indian craft,” horseback riding and horse shows, art, music and dramatics. According to the brochure,

The object of Camp Yonahnoka is to make the summer one of happiness and wholesome development for each camper. Good character and self-reliance are the keys to a useful and happy life… Camp activities are planned to encourage each boy to express himself and to discover hidden talents. This calls for a varied program. Music is just as important as baseball. Instruction in sports is stressed rather than competition. Work contributed to the welfare of the whole group is just as rewarding as play.

It should be noted that Yonahnoka was by no means a camp for low-income or underprivileged boys. A camp application form included in the 1952 brochure lists registration plan fees from $430 to $480, which, according to one inflation calculator, equals about $3700 in 2007 dollars. Ouch.

To take an academic view, it seems there would be a lot to explore here about how summer camps like Yonahoka reflected larger societal views of nature, class, race, gender, child development, and all that good stuff during this pivotal period in U.S. history. But I see that only a few scholars have seriously addressed the topic (see Children’s Nature: The Rise of the American Summer Camp by Leslie Paris, and A Manufactured Wilderness by Abigail Van Slyck). Just one example of the huge research potential of the Morton photographs!

The Wilds of Alaska

Back when I was working on the Morton slides from 1975, I sorted over 350 he took on a trip to Alaska. This was the most daunting and stressful sets of slides I have yet to organize — it appeared that they were thrown into the air and then put back into the boxes however they were picked up. I had all those slides spread out on a big light table for over a week, and there are still quite a few 1975 Alaska “orphans.”
There were some nice scenic shots of Denali and glaciers, but mostly what I remember are endless miles of pipeline (related to Williams Brothers operations, led by Morton’s good friend John Williams, pictured below).

Recently, I came to a batch slides from October 1986 and July 1987 labeled Alaska, and I immediately got a headache. Memories of the pipeline made me think of quitting. It didn’t help when I tried to determine if Morton had photographed caribou or reindeer (for those of you who don’t know, they are the same thing).
Luckily, most of this batch has been better organized and labeled. They appear to be pictures from a trip Hugh took with wildlife artist Richard Evans Younger (top photo), the subject of a series of Morton films. We’re not certain who the cameraman is (see picture below), any ideas? There are film reels from the trip downstairs in storage, still to be cataloged; some of these are labeled “McNeil River Bears” and “Wildlife Artist: Younger Alaska.”

I think Morton must have gotten a bit spoiled by his ability to cuddle and wrestle the bears at Grandfather Mountain. I don’t think the bears in the wilds of Alaska are going to react the same as Mildred, Jane, or Punkin. But this didn’t seem to stop him from getting some amazing pictures of grizzlies at McNeil Falls.

McNeil River State Game Refuge and Sanctuary becomes quite populated in July and August–with bears, not tourists. Every year these bears migrate to the falls to stuff themselves with dog salmon. There are no roads to the sanctuary and visitors must apply months in advance for a chance in the lottery. Only about 250 people get to see this spectacle each year, with a limit of ten at a time. According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, up to 72 bears have been seen here at one time. I count 14 in the picture below!

Morton was a well-traveled man. I’ve shared with you the splendors of Hawaii and Alaska. Maybe before my assistanship is finished I’ll show you Arizona, California, or Florida. Or perhaps China, Japan, the Holy Land, New Zealand and Australia, Italy, or Austria? Let me know where you would like to travel next. Cozumel is beautiful this time of year.

Courtside Morton(s)

Tonight the University of North Carolina Tar Heel men play a game of basketball against UC-Santa Barbara.
My image scanning and processing this month has consisted of mostly basketball photographs,  and  according to a rough estimation they outnumber the usual celluloid suspects — bears, battleships, and pageant queens — by a significant margin. Therefore I have many pictures to choose from, and I feel slightly overwhelmed by all the options, all of which are excellent.
Thanks to a long tradition of basketball movies, I have been given the impression that basketball is about more than slam dunks and court-side gesticulations. Hugh Morton’s photos do not dispel this perception: in the collection there are a host of photographs from locker rooms, press conferences, dinner parties, and airplanes.

UNC men's basketball team returning from 1982 NCAA Championship win

Here is an optimistic photograph, to begin with: a very backstage shot of a very sleepy men’s basketball team returning home on an airplane after their 1982 NCAA championship victory in New Orleans. (Note the young Michael Jordan two rows back on the left, and that looks like James Worthy in the front right, cuddling with his pillow).
Here is another off-court shot, of a very despondent, soda-drinking player in the locker room. The man, presumably a coach, assistant coach, or general father figure, is trying to encourage him in vain.

UNC men's basketball player being consoled in locker room

Moving on in the basketball summary, here is a highlight from the collection of on-court photographs. After seeing this, I wonder if maybe basketball really is just about slam dunks.

UNC basketball's Michael Jordan dunking in a game against Duke, early 1980s

Carolina, in a game against Duke, is trailing slightly (36-42 according to the scoreboard), but I wonder, did this momentous dunk-in-progress by Michael Jordan change things? Was this one of the seminal Carolina-Duke match-ups, or merely another entry in the tally of this legendary rivalry?
My idea on this photo is that, because it was taken in the Greensboro Coliseum, it might be from the ACC tournament on March 10, 1984. If so, then Duke ended up winning, 75 to 77. But I can never be sure, as the photos I process often come to me in the form of loose, undated and unlabeled film negatives, and I have no context for the picture aside from embedded details (nametags and calendars are always welcome!). Can anyone help me identify the particular game?
To close, I have a photo from Hugh’s grandson Jack Morton, who has apparently inherited his Tar Heel photographer’s pass, and is documenting the exploits of current UNC basketballers. More of Jack’s photos from the Nov. 15 Carolina-Penn season opener can be viewed here. It is pretty neat to see the family continuity, isn’t it?

UNC's Deon Thompson and Penn defender in season opener, 11/15/2008