When Hope and Holshouser golfed at Grandfather

Morton's negative of Hope, Holshouser, Westmoreland, Roberts, and Kletcke.

Scan from Hugh Morton’s 35mm negative of Bob Hope, North Carolina Governor James Holshouser, General William C. Westmoreland, Cliff Roberts, and Robert Kletcke. The gentleman on the far left is unidentified. Can anyone identify him?

Earlier this month, Jack Hilliard wrote a post about the 1974 Singing on the Mountain and sent it to me for publication in time for this year’s Singing on Sunday, June 24.  As I began proofing and fact checking the text and looking for images, some of the then-known details about a particular photograph weren’t falling in line, so I decide to do a bit of research to set the matter straight.  What evolved is this parallel to Jack’s post. If you are arriving at this post first, it may be better to read his first (linked below).

As I discovered today, while preparing Jack Hilliard’s post about the 1974 Singing on the Mountain, that the above photograph by Hugh Morton was not made in June 1974 as was previously believed.  Several newspapers published the photograph in their Sunday editions for June 23, 1974, the day of the Singing.  One newspaper was the Greensboro Daily News as seen below.  Notice the cropping compared to the full-frame negative above.

Hope, Holshouser, and Westmoreland showing newspaper crop

Photograph as it appeared in the Greensboro Daily News on Sunday, June 23. The caption reads, “Bob Hope, Gov. James Holshouser, and former Gen. William Westmoreland play golf while awaiting the advent today of the 50th anniversary of the Singing on the Mountain held annually at Grandfather Mountain.”

While researching Jack’s post, the logistics of Bob Hope traveling back and forth between Asheville and Linville wasn’t making much sense to me.  So, I dug into newspapers.com to see if I could find any clues.  Yep, another Morton Mystery arose: the same photograph published in The Times and Democrat of Orangeburg, South Carolina had a much more explanatory caption:

Times and Democrat photograph and caption reveals date is 1973

The same photograph ran in several newspapers, but with different captions. This version in The Times and Democrat published in Orangeburg, South Carolina reveals that Morton made the photograph the previous year.

Turns out Morton made the photograph a year earlier!  Back to newspapers.com to solve this mystery!

According to The Asheville Citizens staff writer Jay Hensley in his June 13, 1973 article titled “Governor Meets King of Quips,” Hugh Morton arranged a golf match to be played on the back nine holes at Grandfather Golf and Country Club on June 12, 1973.  Morton paired North Carolina Governor James Holshouser and comedian Bob Hope to play against Clifford Roberts and Robert Kletcke—respectively, the president and golf pro of Augusta National Golf Course.

As cropped in the newspaper, one gets the impression that Hope, Westmoreland, Holshouser, and one other person identified only by a hand holding a golf club made up a foursome before, during, or after playing a round. (As we see from the full image, that hand belongs to Roberts.)

What was the purpose behind the outing? Hensley’s article does not say directly, but he does report the background around it.  Holshouser and Hope apparently had played a round of golf on some previous occasion with Vice President Spiro T. Agnew.  Hope and his wife Dolores were guests of General Westmoreland at the country club, there for a “short visit.”  Westmoreland wanted to offer his guests complete relaxation during their stay, but Hope enjoyed the outing nonetheless.  Hope’s wife Dolores, Hugh Morton’s sister Agnes, and Raleigh attorney Camelia Trot played in a group after the men.

Again according to Hensley, Holshouser “broke off from a Tuesday meeting of the Southern Regional Education Board” being held in Hot Springs, Virginia. Linville is a four-and-a-half-hour drive from Hot Springs, so it was quite a break off unless traveling by air.

Westmoreland was nursing an injured right arm, so he didn’t even play.  Instead, he “restricted his activities to putting around the golf course.”  A caption in a photograph published in the June 15 edition of the newspaper described the group, however, as a fivesome.

Here are two quips Hope offered during the round:

  • “Smile and they’ll think we are winning,” he said to Holshouser.
  • “I thought this course was named for me until I met you,” he told Clifford Roberts.  Roberts was 79 year old at the time, Hope 70.

 

 

 

When Johnny and June sang on the mountain

On June 24, 2018, the ninety-fourth “Singing on the Mountain” will take place at MacRae Meadows at the foot of Grandfather Mountain.  This all-day gospel sing and fellowship goes back to 1925 when members of the Linville Methodist Church decided to have a Sunday picnic in this special western North Carolina location.  One hundred and fifty people attended that first gathering.  From that small beginning, the annual event has grown into the largest annual religious singing convention in the mountains of the South, and over the years many famous speakers and singers have participated.

To celebrate this year’s anniversary, I (unexpectedly!) teamed up with Morton collection volunteer Jack Hilliard to look back forty-four years to the Singing’s fiftieth celebration when Johnny Cash and his wife June Carter Cash were featured guests along with a few other celebrities.

Johnny Cash, Maybelle Carter, and others performing at the June 1974 Singing on the Mountain

Johnny Cash, Maybelle Carter, and others performing at the June 1974 “Singing on the Mountain” gospel festival at Grandfather Mountain, with crowd in foreground and Grandfather Mountain peaks in background.

On their way to the fiftieth annual “Singing on the Mountain” at Grandfather Mountain, Johnny Cash and family staged a concert at Greensboro’s War Memorial Auditorium on Saturday night, June 22, 1974.  According to the Greensboro Daily News, the show’s line-up comprised Johnny Cash, June Carter Cash, The Carter Family, the Cash daughters, and Carl Perkins, plus Johnny Cash’s backing band The Tennessee Three.

The Cash troupe then went on to Grandfather Mountain where it was cold, cloudy, and misty. The weather didn’t seem to keep anyone away: an estimated crowd of more than 60,000 turned out for the day, which began at 9:00 Sunday morning.  By mid-morning the North Carolina Highway Patrol halted all traffic into the area from the Blue Ridge Parkway because attendees had taken all of the parking spaces within three miles of MacRea Meadows.

Another one of the featured guests for the 1974 Singing was Bob Hope.  He, too, performed the previous evening as the debut performance for the new Asheville Civic Center.  It was the silver anniversary of his performance at the Asheville City Center to a crowd of 1,500 on April 24, 1949.  Joining Hope back then was “freckle-faced singer” Doris Day, who launched her film career the previous year; comedienne Irene Ryan, who appeared with Hope during his military tours and would become better known several years later for her role as Granny on The Beverly Hillbillies; the tumblers Titan Duo, and a local performer, “Skeeter” Byrant (whose findagrave.com entry currently displays a photograph of her on stage with Hope). Hope was then on a fifteen-state, twenty-city tour.  Twenty-five years later, Hope drew an audience of 6,000 for his 1974 performance.

Many Sunday morning newspapers on June 23 published a Hugh Morton photograph of Bob Hope, North Carolina Governor James Holshouser (a native of nearby Boone), and General William C. Westmoreland (a South Carolinian with a summer home near Asheville) including the Greensboro Daily News seen below.  Before Jack submitted his text for this post, the date of that photograph was believed to be June 1974, some time close to the Singing.  Preparing this post, however, led to a new yet unknown “Morton Mystery.”  For the story behind that photograph, made a year earlier in June 1973, see a twin blog post to this one titled, “When Hope and Holshouser golfed at Grandfather.”

Hope, Holshouser, and Westmoreland showing newspaper crop

Photograph as it appeared in the Greensboro Daily News on Sunday, June 23, 1974. The caption reads, “Bob Hope, Gov. James Holshouser, and former Gen. William Westmoreland play golf while awaiting the advent today of the 50th anniversary of the Singing on the Mountain held annually at Grandfather Mountain.” Morton actually made the photograph a year earlier.

Hope stated that his 1974 appearance at the Singing fulfilled a promise he had made to servicemen from North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia during his WWII troop entertainment days when he told them he would revisit their annual “homecoming in the hills” during peace time.  As Hope walked off the temporary rock stage, the crowd shouted his theme song, “Thanks for the Memories.”  Hope’s visit was also a reunion with Hugh Morton who had photographed Hope in the South Pacific during 1944 (and, as it turns out, in Linville at Grandfather Golf and Country Club in 1973).

Also on the musical bill was Arthur Smith and his Crossroads Quartet making their twenty-seventh appearance at Singing and on this day he brought along George Hamilton IV.  (A Hugh Morton photograph of Hamilton performing with Smith exists, but the actual date is uncertain.)

At 1:00 p.m., North Carolina Governor Jim Holshouser delivered the key note address.  His message was simple: “For fifty years now people have gathered here to sing and have fun but, maybe most of all, to experience that feeling of getting up here in the mountains and getting close to God.”

Johnny Cash during 1974 Singing on the Mountain

Johnny Cash and band members on stage during the 1974 Singing on the Mountain. Hugh Morton used this photograph in his book Making a Difference In North Carolina to help illustrate the chapter on the annual outdoor music festival.

Then at 1:30, it was time for Johnny Cash, his wife June Carter Cash, and the Cash family singers with Mother Maybell Carter to take the stage. For two and a half hours they entertained and inspired the assembled crowd. “I Walk the Line,” “Folsom Prison,” and “The Orange Blossom Special,” just to name a few tunes that had the crowd shouting for more.  At one point, Johnny looked out over the huge crowd and marveled at how they stayed through the unfavorable weather.  He then turned to guitarist Carl Perkins and said, “My kind of people.”

Later Cash talked a bit about the fiftieth anniversary of the gathering and then told the crowd that it was his wife’s birthday.  The crowd went wild.  And in the crowd was Hugh Morton’s wife Julia, who immediately started planning a birthday party.

Following the performance, Cash was interviewed and said: “I enjoyed this day more than any concert in years.  First, because of such a cross section of America out there.  All ages, all walks of life. It was good for me as an entertainer to give my time, especially to such an audience.”

June Carter Cash cuts birthday cake

June Carter Cash smiles for Hugh Morton’s camera as she cuts her birthday cake, while Julia Morton stands ready to assist and Johnny Cash wonders if Time’s A Wastin’.

The birthday party on the deck at the Morton’s home on Grandfather Mountain Lake proved to be a fun evening with all the Cash family, the band, and many of Morton’s friends like Arthur Smith and his Crackerjacks.  Ten years later, Johnny Cash’s daughter Rosanne Cash recalled the Grandfather Mountain party as one of the happiest outings the Johnny Cash family ever had.  According to Morton, “Johnny Cash became enthralled by hummingbirds coming to the deck feeder.  Rarely have the tiny birds been so bold, flying within inches of Cash’s head as he sat on the deck railing.”  Cash also seemed to enjoy the bear habitat at Grandfather Mountain.  Morton made five exposures of him feeding the bears.

Johnny Cash feeding bears at Grandfather Mountain

One of five exposures made by Hugh Morton depicting Johnny Cash feeding the bears at Grandfather Mountain.

One of Hugh Morton’s often reproduced pictures is the one showing Johnny Cash holding the United States flag and in 1988 Morton told the story behind the famous image.

Johnny Cash, June 23, 1974

Johnny Cash, June 23, 1974

“As Johnny Cash and I were walking across the Swinging Bridge, he asked, ‘How many flags does the wind destroy each year at Grandfather Mountain?’ When I told him several, he said, ‘I do a recitation of a poem I wrote called That Ragged Old Flag, and I’d love to have the most ragged Grandfather Mountain flag you’ve got.’ Cash has it, and we are mighty pleased he asked.”

Morton used the famous photograph as the title page to the “people” section of his 2006 book, Hugh Morton: North Carolina Photographer.

Post script

A quick pic made from Hugh Morton’s executive planner for Sunday, June 23, 1974:

Hugh Morton executive planner entry for Sunday, June 23, 1974

Hugh Morton executive planner entry for Sunday, June 23, 1974

There are no entries for Saturday; “Cash party” is written in a darker pencil than “Sing on Mtn” and “Bob Hope” so Morton probably wrote it at a different time.

As mentioned in the above story, Bob Hope was the debut performance at the brand new Asheville Civic Center on June 22, the evening before the 1974 Singing.  What was that venue’s second act? The Johnny Cash Band on Monday, June 24.

A festival like no other . . . the beginning

The 71st annual North Carolina Azalea Festival will take place in Wilmington beginning today, April 11th, and will run through the 15th, 2018. Thousands of visitors will gather in the port city to take part in the city’s premier event.  In addition to the millions of beautiful flowers, there will be a wide variety of entertainment, a parade, and the famous crowning ceremony of Queen Azalea LXXI . . . just as it has been since 1948.  Morton Collection volunteer Jack Hilliard looks back to 1948 and the beginning of this North Carolina tradition.

When Hugh Morton presented his slide shows across North Carolina, he almost always included slides from the first Azalea Festival. In addition to his magnificent photography, he would add a few light-hearted remarks about how he became the point-man for that first event in 1948. According to Morton, the story went something like this.

Prominent Wilmington physician Dr. Houston Moore had an idea as far back as 1934 to celebrate Wilmington’s magnificent azaleas. Then in the early 1940s he came up with the festival idea.  In 1947 he invited Wilmington’s major civic clubs to select one or two representatives to attend a festival organizational meeting.  Morton was there representing the Wilmington Jaycees.  April, 1948 was selected for that first festival. When the second planning session was held, Morton was out of town on business, but when he returned he learned that he had been elected president for the first festival.  Morton said he respectfully declined, but Dr, Moore was a very persuasive gentlemen, so Morton took charge and put his magnificent public relation skills to work on the first annual North Carolina Azalea Festival, held April 9h through April 11th, 1948.

Jacqueline White and E. L. White.

Jacqueline White, Queen of the first annual North Carolina Azalea Festival in 1948, on the back of a train, shaking hands with Wilmington mayor E. L. White.

The unofficial celebration for the first festival got underway at 12:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 8th with the arrival of Queen Azalea I: Jacqueline White, RKO movie actress from Hollywood.  Wilmington mayor E. L. White and a formal reception committee . . . plus a long line of autograph-seekers greeted Miss White at the Atlantic Coast Line train station.  She very graciously signed and spoke with many in the long line.

Jacqueline White signing autographs

1948 Azalea Festival Queen Jacqueline White, standing in the doorway of a train car, signing autographs for crowd.

Later that evening, Wilmingtonians greeted a second queen, Mrs. Barbara Randall, who had been selected “Queen for a Day” on the Mutual Radio broadcast the preceding day.  A trip to Wilmington was part of her prize.

Friday, April 9th was a beautiful spring day as a festival spirit filled the city.  Flower shows and visits to the famed Greenfield Park, Orton Plantation, and Airlie Gardens were high on the priority list.  At 11:45 a.m., ABC Radio’s Ted Malone broadcasted his nationwide radio program from a platform set up in front of Community Center.  A crowd of about 2,000 turned out for the broadcast.

On Friday evening, more than 4,000 people turned out for a band concert at Legion Stadium, featuring the New Hanover High School Band.  Following the band concert, the New Hanover High School Choral groups performed along with the Atlantic Coast Line Choral performers.  In all more than 600 musicians took part in the concert. The evening’s festivities closed with a community sing along, concluding with the “Hallelujah Chorus” from George Frideric Handel’s Messiah.

Long before the parade moved off from Front and Castle Streets at 11:04 a.m. on Saturday, April 10th, a huge crowd was in place for prime viewing.  The mile-long parade of sixteen floats, five marching bands and two military units, with Queen Jacqueline near the front.  The parade made its way through downtown, passing North Carolina Governor R. Gregg Cherry, Mayor White, and Queen Barbara Randall seated at the official viewing stand at City Hall and then back to its point of origin.

The closing and festival highlight event was held in Lumina Hall at Wrightsville Beach on Saturday evening. At that time, Queen Jacqueline was officially crowned by North Carolina Governor R. Gregg Cherry.

One of Hugh Morton’s favorite Azalea Festival photographs from the 1948 event was that of Governor Cherry crowning Queen Jacqueline.  A close look at the image shows the governor has the crown upside down. Morton loved to explain how that misstep occurred.

Governor Cherry came down to crown our first azalea queen, Jacqueline White of RKO Radio Pictures.  He had been in the National Guard with a group of Wilmingtonians, with whom he felt he always had to have a drink. (A separate toast for each Guard member.)  When time for the coronation arrived, the Governor was ‘toasted-out’ and a bit unstable on his feet as he put the crown on upside down.  Master of ceremonies, Carl Goerch publisher of The State and Chairman of the coronation ball, died a thousand deaths.

R. Gregg Cherry crowns Jacqueline White.

North Carolina Governor R. Gregg Cherry crowns the first Queen of the Wilmington Azalea Festival, Jacqueline White.

Queen Jacqueline smiled and kept her composure as the crown was then placed correctly on her head.  Following the coronation there was dancing with music by Bob Astor and his orchestra.  At day’s end, “it was quite an evening for Hugh Morton,” as author Susan Taylor Block said in her 2004 book, Belles & Blooms: Cape Fear Garden Club and the North Carolina Azalea Festival.  “He had ushered Dr. Moore’s dream into reality and witnessed the crowning event in Lumina, the pavilion created by his grandfather, Hugh MacRae, and named by his mother Agnes.”

Fifty-five years later, in a 2003 interview, Morton described that first festival.  “When the first Azalea Festival took place in April 1948 the gardens were at peak beauty, the weather was perfect, and the Festival cleared $5,000, a profit we knew we had to have or we would never see the second Festival.”

Today, the North Carolina Azalea Festival continues in its 71st year as a festival like no other.

Epilog

Another of Hugh Morton’s most reproduced photographs from the 1948 Azalea Festival was his image of Queen Jacqueline White seated under the Airlie Oak.

Jacqueline White sitting under the Airlie Oak.

First Azalea Festival Queen Jacqueline White sitting under the Airlie Oak at Airlie Gardens, Wilmington, N.C.

When the Festival celebrated its 25th anniversary in the spring of 1972, Jacqueline White Anderson returned as a special guest. And, as you might expect, Hugh Morton took her over to the Arlie Oak for yet another memorable photograph.

You can see more than 150 Azalea Festival photographs made by Hugh Morton in the online collection, plus explore even more by searching through the Morton collection finding aid.

Jacqueline White in 1972

First Azalea Queen Jacqueline White in 1972.

A drive to Washington DC with Barrier: part 3

Negative strips from the 1987 ACC Tournament

SLIM PICKINGS: Hugh Morton’s only black-and-white negatives from the 1987 ACC Tournament semifinals. The lower left images are likely from Dean Smith’s press conference after the Virginia game, because the next frame is a shot from the Wake Forest vs. North Carolina State game. The strip on the right contains more action from that game.

This is the third and final entry summarizing Hugh Morton’s drive to Washington D.C. with Smith Barrier to photograph the Jesse Helms, the ACC Tournament, and David Brinkley.  The series was to be four parts long, but the collection materials just didn’t rise to the occasion.  What happened?

Saturday, March 7: “ACC”

Strip of black-and-white negatives from 1987 ACC Tournament final

SLIMMER PICKINGS: The only extant black-and-white negatives from the 1987 ACC Tournament final won by North Carolina State over UNC, 68–67.

Morton, as you might expect, photographed the semifinals played between UNC and Virginia, and NC State and Wake Forest.  As noted in the previous post in the series, the images from this ACC tournament are a bit scattered in the collection. Negatives and slides from March 7 are very scarce and can be found here in the collection:

  • Roll Film Box P081/35BW-17 (35mm black-and-white negatives)
    • Envelope 6.1.1-5-304: includes UNC vs. Virginia (5 negatives), but only four shots on the sidelines of a young person next to a water cooler, and a shot of the scoreboard showing a 72–72 tie with 0:22 on the clock, plus two frames during Dean Smiths’s press conference.  There are no game action black-and-white negatives.
  • Slide Lot 009598 (35mm color slides)
    • UNC vs. Virginia (31 slides): Morton’s slides from this game are uncharacteristically under exposed.

Penciled into his calendar was a dinner with “Babb, Cookerly, Thigpen, Sachs” suggesting that the dinner gathering was planned after the initial entry of ACC in ink.  I searched the collection finding aid and online images and found nothing.  Does anyone know who these people were? With some more details we might be able to figure out if images exist under a topical description.

David Brinkley, 1987.

David Brinkley sitting at table in ABC Newsroom, Washington bureau, Sunday, March 8, 1987.

Sunday, March 8: “ACC”

Sunday morning at 9:30, Hugh Morton photographed fellow Wilmington native David Brinkley on the set of ABC News Washington.  Photographically speaking it was the highlight of his day.  That afternoon, UNC lost to NC State 68–67, and Morton’s 35mm slides were once again mostly underexposed.  The day’s end? “Drive Gbo.”  Unlike today’s digital days when you can instantaneously review of your exposures on the back of your camera, Morton would’t know until after he sent off his film to be chemically processed in a lab and reviewed the results on his light table that he had underexposed his ACC tournament color slides.

UNC doesn’t always win basketball tournaments, and even Hugh Morton had a bad couple days court-side.  Fortunately for us today, his trip to DC produced excellent results with several photographs of two of North Carolina’s most notable people of their time.

A drive to Washington D.C. with Barrier: part 1

It’s often useful when researching Hugh Morton images to check his executive planners.  I’ve used examples of this practice before, and for today’s post this tactic provided some insight into one particular journey in March 1987.

Executive planner page, 5–7 March 1987

The page for March 5 through 8, 1987 in Hugh Morton’s executive planner.

Wednesday, March 4: Drive Wash DC with Barrier

One of Morton’s two entries for March 4th reads, “Drive Wash DC with Barrier.”  Henri Smith Barrier Jr. was a member of the UNC class of 1937—just six years ahead of Hugh Morton’s class of 1943—but he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism in 1940 when Morton was UNC student.  Barrier was sports editor of the Concord Tribune, his hometown newspaper, for two years before he joined the Greensboro Daily News in 1941.  Just six years before this road trip, in 1981, Barrier wrote and edited the book The ACC Basketball Tournament Classic that featured Morton’s photography.  Barrier passed away a little more than two years after this DC journey on 2 June 1989.

Thursday, March 5: “Jesse Helms”

That’s Morton’s plain and simple entry, but why did Morton schedule a photography session with Jesse Helms?  I suspect it was a self-assignment for his collaborative book with Ed Rankin titled Making a Difference in North Carolina. Rankin and Helms were roommates in 1941 when they were newsmen at The News and Observer and The Raleigh Times, respectively.  In 1987 Helms was serving his third term as North Carolina’s senior United States Senator.  The state’s junior senator was Terry Sanford, elected just a few months earlier in November 1986.

Terry Sanford and Jesse Helms

North Carolina’s United States Senators Terry Sanford (Democrat) and Jesse Helms (Republican) on March 5, 1987 in the hallway outside of Helms’ office. (Photograph cropped by the author.)

The Morton collection finding aid states there are seventy-six black-and-white 35mm negatives in Subseries 2.1, which is devoted to the negatives Morton pulled together during the making of Making a Difference in North Carolina. There are thirteen 35mm color slides of from this same date in Subseries 2.6. “People, Identified.” Currently there are twelve of these images related to Morton’s coverage Helms available in the online collection.

A caption in Making a Difference in North Carolina notes that one event Morton photographed that day was a confirmation hearing for Jack F. Matlock Jr. held by the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.  Matlock was a native of Greensboro and a Duke University alumnus.  From the extant negatives and slides, it appears Morton did not photograph Matlock.  On another note of interest, Senate Foreign Relations Committee member Senator Edward Zorinsky, Democrat from Nebraska, died the next day, March 6th, at the 1987 Omaha Press Club Ball.  In the photograph below, is that Senator Zorinsky on the right?  It may be hard to tell for certain because there is not a full resolution scan online to zoom in and look more closely, so below is a cropped detail.

Senator Jess Helms

Senator Jess Helms (left) during a meeting of the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

Possibly Edward Zorinsky

A cropped detail from the photograph above that might be Nebraska Senator Edward Zorinsky talking with Virginia Senator John Warner. If not, does anyone recognize who he and others may be?

Another similar photograph for a different angle . . .

Senator Jesse Helms

Senator Jesse Helms (left) during a meeting of the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

One photograph from the day serves as an excellent example of why photographic archives desire to obtain negative collections, not just photographic prints.  Below is a photograph of Helms with Senator John Warner of Virginia as published in Making a Deference in North Carolina . . .

Jesse Helms and John Warner, from book Making a Difference in North Carolina

. . . and here’s a scan of the entire negative . . .

United States Senators John McCain, Jesse Helm, and John Warner.

For the book, Morton decided to crop out Arizona’s senator John McCain.

Here’s another photograph from the day that’s not in the online collection:

United States Senators

United States Senators

I recognize Helms (left) and Dan Quayle (center).  Want to try your hand on the others?

Tune in tomorrow for part two: Friday, March 6: “ACC Landover”

ADDITION made on 8 March 2018: negatives depicting West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd appears in some of the negatives made on this day, but I did not use one for this blog post.  I noticed afterward, however, that there is a separate listing for three 35mm negatives in the Morton collection finding aid for Robert C. Byrd made on March 5, 1987 (the date in finding aid is March 6th) in Envelope 2.1.48-5-1.

JDF Rides the “Choo Choo”

Diabetes Month is observed every November so individuals, health care professionals, organizations, and communities across the country can bring attention to diabetes and its impact on millions of Americans.  A View to Hugh would like to relate an event from the past that raised about $20,000 for diabetes research while at the same time had some fun at the expense of a Tar Heel sports legend.  But first, a bit of history . . .

In 1970 a group of parents in New York City whose children had Type 1 diabetes founded an organization they called the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, or JDF.  The group was defined by its commitment to research-funding and finding a cure for juvenile diabetes.  In 2012, the Foundation changed its name to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, or JDRF, putting a greater emphasis on the need for research.

No one in the celebrity world came close to doing what actress Mary Tyler Moore accomplished with JDRF.  Her efforts were tireless.  She had but one goal when it came to diabetes: to bring to the attention of the world the battle of diabetes and how important it is to one day cure it.  She attended events, met with elected officials, testified before congress, and was always available to help local JDRF chapters with local fund raising by offering her celebrity.  And that’s exactly how she helped the Charlotte chapter of JDF in 1984 when they staged their fifth annual JDF celebrity roast.  Moore recorded videotape spots for the local television stations to air promoting the importance of supporting the Foundation.

Mary Tyler Moore died at the age of 80 earlier this year on January 25, 2017, but she will always be remembered in Charlotte for what she did to make the JDF Celebrity Roast of Tar Heel football legend Charlie “Choo Choo” Justice a success thirty-three years ago.  Morton collection volunteer Jack Hilliard looks back to Monday, April 30, 1984.

Admission ticket, scan courtesy of Jack Hilliard.

Admission ticket, scan courtesy of Jack Hilliard.

A Prolog
A celebrity roast is an event in which a specific individual, a guest of honor, is subjected to good-natured jokes at their expense and it is intended to amuse the event’s audience and in many cases to raise money for a particular charity. Such events are intended to honor the individual in a unique way. In addition to jokes, such events may also involve genuine praise and tributes. The individual is surrounded by friends, fans, and well-wishers, who can receive some of the same good natured treatment as well during the course of the evening.

♦ ♦ ♦

Charles Justice has contributed his fame to hundreds of drives and worthy causes and has generally and consistently served as a wholesome example to impressionable youth.

—Hugh Morton, May, 2000

In early January 1984, it had been almost thirty years since Charlie Justice played his final football game with the Washington Redskins and almost thirty-four since he played his final varsity game with the Tar Heels.  Nonetheless, when the Charlotte Chapter of the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation approached him about being the honored guest at the Fifth Annual JDF Celebrity Roast, Charlie’s reply was yes, “these things are for a great cause and I enjoy them.” Charlie had been guest of honor for two other celebrity gatherings, one in Greensboro on October 29, 1980 called “Dinner of Champions,” sponsored by the Central North Carolina Chapter of the Multiple Sclerosis Society, and one in his native Asheville on January 27, 1984 sponsored by the Western Carolina Children’s Foundation.

Justice was in great company at the fifth annual event.  The four who preceded Justice were Clyde McLean of WBTV in 1979, Kays Gary of The Charlotte Observer in 1980, Eddie Knox, former Charlotte mayor in 1982, and famed basketball player and coach Horace “Bones” McKinney in 1983.

If you didn’t know better, you might think this was a UNC reunion. The event’s Honorary Chairman was Johnny Harris, UNC Class of 1969.  Two other Tar Heels who worked behind the scenes were Erskine Bowles ’67 and Ray Farris ’62.  Tar Heel roasters included newspaper publisher Orville Campbell ’42; Woody Durham, Voice of the Tar Heels, ’63; UNC President Dr. William Friday, ’48; and UNC All-America football star and Justice’s classmate Art Weiner, ’50.

Dignitaries featured during the Fifth Annual JDF Roast: (back row, left to right): Bill Hensley, Orville Campbell, Bill Friday; (front row, left to right): Woody Durham, Art Weiner, Charlie Justice, John "Buck" Fraley. Photograph by Hugh Morton, cropped by the editor.

Dignitaries featured during the Fifth Annual JDF Roast: (back row, left to right): Bill Hensley, Orville Campbell, Bill Friday; (front row, left to right): Woody Durham, Art Weiner, Charlie Justice, John “Buck” Fraley. Photograph by Hugh Morton, cropped by the editor.

With Master of Ceremonies Bill Hensley in control (sort of), the “roasting” fun began.  Charlie was ushered into the Sheraton Center with the singing of “All The Way Choo Choo” to the delight of the 450 guests. The singing was led by Charlie’s daughter Barbara Crews.

Roaster: Orville Campbell

Chapel Hill newspaper publisher and the man responsible for recording “All The Way Choo Choo,”  Orville Campbell then stepped up to the mic.  “We always liked to take our songs over to Mr. W. D. Carmichael, then acting University President, and get his opinion.  So when Hank Beebe and I finished All The Way Choo Choo, I went over to Carmichael’s office.  He was extremely busy that day, but I went in anyway.  His desk was covered with papers and he didn’t even look up.

“What do you want, Orville?” said Carmichael.

“I just wanted to know if you had heard our last song.”

“I hope the h— I have,” was Carmichael’s reply.

“Back in 1958,” Campbell continued, “I published a book which was written by Bob Quincy and Julian Scheer called Choo Choo: The Charlie Justice Story.  We still have a warehouse full of those books over in Chapel Hill and I brought a few of them over here tonight to see if anybody here would pay $25 for a copy and if so, we’ll donate that money to JDF.  And after we’re finished here, we’ll lock the door so Charlie can’t get away and have him sign ‘em.”

Campbell, who had been Charlie’s friend and fan since he arrived in Chapel Hill in 1946, then took out a letter that UNC Head Football Coach Carl Snavely supposedly wrote to Justice following that famous 1948 Texas game in Chapel Hill.

“In discussing your touchdown pass to Art Weiner, Charlie, Coach Snavely reminded you that, ‘Your wobbly pass to Art Weiner would have never been caught except that Art made a great catch and Texas had a poor pass defense.’”

Campbell then put on a number 22 college all-star jersey and modeled it for the crowd. Justice had donated the jersey to be auctioned with money going to JDF.  The jersey went for $1,000.

Roaster: Woody Durham

Next up was “The Voice” of Tar Heel football and basketball, Woody Durham.  Woody told the story of how Justice had decided to go to the University of South Carolina, when his brother Jack talked him out of it and convinced him he should go to UNC.  Durham then turned to Charlotte JDF Chapter President Cassie Phillipi and asked, “Cassie, how much money do you think we could raise if we were holding this gathering in Columbia tonight?”  Then Durham said he wanted to relate a recent story from his visit to Atlanta and added, “This is the only story I’ll tell from that Atlanta trip . . . I promise.”

“I was in Atlanta covering Dean Smith’s 1984 Tar Heels in the NCAA Tournament. The morning of the game, I was in the hotel room preparing for that night’s radio broadcast. The TV set was on but the sound was turned down real low and I wasn’t paying any attention to it. Then something caught my attention. The CBS program The Price is Right host Bob Barker had introduced a contestant form North Carolina. Then Barker said, ‘Who was the great All America football player from North Carolina back in the 1940s?’  Immediately someone in the audience shouted out, “Choo Choo.”  Barker quickly added, That’s right, Choo Choo Charlie Justice.’”

“Folks it’s been 35 years since Charlie played for Carolina, but his name is still magic.”

Roaster: Bill Friday

Up next . . . University of North Carolina President Dr. William Friday spoke of “the rightness of all he symbolizes in American Sports.”

“When thirty years pass, a haze often settles over memory but not the recollections of Charlie Justice on the football field.  He could do it all and he did. . . . All of the adulations and publicity never increased his hat size.  An unassuming and cheerful manner always has characterized this man of extraordinary gifts.  He has been greatly blessed in another way, he has Sarah.”

Woody Durham, John "Buck" Fraley, and Sarah and Charlie Justice during the evening's festivities. Photograph by Hugh Morton.

Woody Durham, John “Buck” Fraley, and Sarah and Charlie Justice during the evening’s festivities. Photograph by Hugh Morton.

The 52-page souvenir program book for the 5th Annual JDF Roast is, in reality, a Charlie Justice scrapbook with dozens of Hugh Morton photographs included.  The book was designed by George Van Allen of G.V.A. Associates and the Justice cover-caricature was done by Gene Payne of The Charlotte Observer.  Charlie must have approved of the caricature; there was a huge version of it on the wall of his Cherryville office.  Also included in the book is a beautifully written Justice profile by Observer columnist Ron Green.

Roaster: John Fraley

John L. “Buck” Fraley, President and Chief Operating Officer of Carolina Freight, was next up.  Fraley’s company was a prime client of the Justice-Crews Insurance Company in Cherryville and had been so for many years. Fraley, a NC State graduate, talked about Charlie’s brief 1964 venture into politics. Also in the audience was Ken Younger who would take Fraley’s place with the company in 1985 following Fraley’s retirement. And if memory serves me correctly, it was Younger who bought the Justice All-Star jersey and then presented it to Charlie’s daughter Barbara. And by the way, Ken Younger, is a 1949 Duke graduate, who played football against Charlie and the Tar Heels.

Roaster: Art Wiener

Hugh Morton and the Charlotte JDF Chapter had prepared several large Charlie Justice action pictures and offered them for sale—the profits, of course, going to the Diabetes Foundation.  So when Justice’s friend, teammate, and business partner Art Weiner stepped up to speak, he commented on the pictures.

“Did you ever wonder why there are so many fantastic Hugh Morton action pictures of Charlie Justice?  Well, Hugh Morton was a world class, fantastic photographer, but there is another reason.  We had one member on our team who never touched the ball . . . never made a tackle . . . never threw a block.  His only purpose in life was to let Charlie Justice know where Hugh Morton was on the sidelines.”

“Where do you suppose he had his first heart attack? At halftime at the Carolina-Pitt game a few years back. They were carrying him out on a stretcher and everybody was looking and there was Charlie, waving to the crowd.”

Weiner then looked over at Orville Campbell.  “I didn’t know the ball was supposed to spiral until I got into pro ball. Charlie always threw it end-over-end.”

“I lived beside Charlie for four years and he got new Cadilacs all four years.  There was always trucks backing up to his door and unloading things.”

“My scholarship was a piece of wood with a nail on it, and I was told that I could keep anything that blew across my yard.”

When the laughter died down, Weiner got serious.

“I can honestly say Charlie Justice is not only the best friend I ever had, but in my opinion he is greatest athlete North Carolina ever had.”

Charlie Justice

When Justice finally got to the mic, he denied all, then thanked all for attending, and poked a little bit of fun at his “roasters,” telling his dear friend Art Weiner, “at least you had a scholarship at Carolina. . . I didn’t even have a one. . . Sarah had the scholarship in our family.  And as for those four Cadilacs you mentioned . . . was really one ’48 Chevy.”  He then related the importance of the fund-raising for diabetes research.  At the end of the evening’s festivities, more than $20,000 had been raised for that research.

♦ ♦ ♦

Ron Green, writing in the May 2, 1984 edition of The Charlotte Observer under the headline “Highest Praise To Choo Choo,” said, “They came not to praise Charlie Choo Choo Justice but to roast him. They did both Monday night at the Sheraton Center. . .  Others of his era are yellowed memories now, but Justice shines on, brightly, like a star . . . the long, rambling touchdown runs . . . the winning passes . . . the record-setting punts that took North Carolina out of danger.  Almost campy.  Almost as if he were playing himself in the lead role of a low budget movie with the title ‘Justice Rides Again.’  So good. So right.”

♦ ♦ ♦

WFMY-TV in Greensboro recorded the JDF roast in Charlotte on videotape for filmmaker David Solomon, the President of David Solomon Productions in Winston-Salem.  Portions of the roast appear in Solomon’s Sports Extra TV production of All The Way Choo Choo.  I had the honor of directing and editing the program, along with Larry Fitzgerald, the late WFMY-TV photojournalist.  North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame Broadcaster Charlie Harville narrated the program.  And once again, Charlie Justice’s popularity across the entire state was shown when the TV documentary was sponsored by “Goody’s” of Winston-Salem.  The President of Goody’s, Duke University Class of 1949 football player Tom Chambers, was an opponent of Justice’s during their college days.  In addition to the “Goody’s” commercials, the program also included JDF-Mary Tyler Moore public service announcements.

♦ ♦ ♦

In closing, I would like to revisit words from Bill Friday:

“(Charlie Justice) is loyal. He has been on call when his alma mater needed him. He has lent his name in time and talent to a host of worthy causes since his jersey went into the trophy case.”

“He has shown in his personal life the same quality of courage and determination he exhibited in athletics. Charlie Justice was voted All-American for his exploits on those memorable Saturdays of another era.”

“I want to say, Charlie, that in the eyes of your legions of friends today, you are an All-American every day of the week.”

A memorial tribute, twenty years ago

Early on the morning of Friday, July 4, 1997 we heard the sad news from New York that Tar Heel Charles Bishop Kuralt had died of heart disease and complications from lupus, an inflammatory disease that can affect the skin, joints, kidneys and nervous system.  Four days later, a memorial service was held in Chapel Hill. On this, the twentieth anniversary of Kuralt’s passing, Hugh Morton collection volunteer Jack Hilliard recalls that day when a group of North Carolina’s finest gathered to celebrate the life of “CBS’ poet of small-town America.”

"Chas Kuralt died"—Hugh Morton's entry for July 4, in his 1997 Executive Planner.

“Chas Kuralt died”—Hugh Morton’s entry for July 4, in his 1997 Executive Planner.

Charles really had the common touch.  He was so genuine and sincere.  I really believe he was the most loved, respected and trusted news personality in television.  —Hugh Morton

Shortly before noon on Tuesday, July 8, 1997 the old bell in South Building on the UNC campus rang for one minute. The bell is seldom used, reserved for marking such rare occasions as the installment of a new chancellor.  Earlier that morning Charles Kuralt was laid to rest in the Old Chapel Hill Cemetery, the place where he wanted to be buried on the campus he loved.  On July 2, two days before he died, Kuralt had sent his friend Dr. William Friday a note seeking help in securing the spot.

“I seem to be recovering nicely; but this experience has given me intimations of mortality.  I know you have better things to worry about, but I thought I would ask if you have any way of finding out if there are a couple of burial plots in Chapel Hill . . . I should have thought of this forty years ago!  Sorry to ask you to look into such a bizarre question.”

Charles Kuralt's last letter, written to Bill Friday, in the Charles Kuralt Collection #4882, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Charles Kuralt’s last letter, written to Bill Friday, in the Charles Kuralt Collection #4882, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Before Friday got the note, he got a phone call.  It was 6:00 a.m. on July 4th.  Kuralt’s assistant Karen Beckers was on the line.

“I’ve called you because I must tell you that Charles is gone.”

Beckers told Friday about the note he would be getting.  Friday and Chapel Hill Town Manager Cal Horton met at the cemetery with a map and determined that Chapel Hill resident George Hogan had several plots.  Friday then called Hogan and explained his situation.  Hogan’s reply: “No, I won’t sell them, but I’ll give Charles two.”  Turns out Hogan had worked for the Educational Foundation at UNC when Kuralt was editor of The Daily Tar Heel.

Kuralt now rests in peace near the center of the old cemetery near the gravesites of former UNC President Francis Venable and botany professor William Coker.  Not far away lie the graves of others who made Tar Heel history: former UNC System President Frank Porter Graham, playwright Paul Green, and UNC Institute of Government founder Albert Coates.

Said Friday, “He’s where I felt, and the others felt, he would like to be.”  Friday then added, “While he’s here with former presidents, he’s also here with the home folks of Chapel Hill.”  Charles’ brother Wallace said: “This is home for him.”

Dan Rather. Photograph by Hugh Morton, as cropped by the editor.

Dan Rather. Photograph by Hugh Morton, as cropped by the editor.

Following the private ceremony at the gravesite, people filed past the site all day.  Piles of flowers filled the spot where a future marker would be placed.  A teary-eyed Dan Rather, then anchor of the CBS Evening News, left the burial site emotionally shaken.  “I’m here in sympathy and support of his family.  He gave himself to America, and he gave it everything he had.”

Interior of Memorial Hall, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, during memorial service for Charles Kuralt. Photograph by Hugh Morton.

Interior of Memorial Hall, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, during memorial service for Charles Kuralt. Photograph by Hugh Morton.

Shortly after the service at Old Chapel Hill Cemetery, more than 1,600 people packed Memorial Hall for a celebration of Kuralt’s life, with UNC Chancellor Michael Hooker presiding.  WUNC-TV’s cameras were there to send the signal out across the Tar Heel state. Television personality Charlie Rose and WUNC-TV’s Audrey Kates Bailey anchored the broadcast.

The Memorial Hall stage was filled with an illustrious group of North Carolinians who came to share their friendships with Charles.  The group included UNC Chancellor Michael Hooker, North Carolina Governor Jim Hunt, Kuralt’s special friend Hugh Morton, former UNC presidents William Friday and C.D. Spangler Jr, and Kuralt’s friend, composer Loonis McGlohon.  The North Carolina Symphony’s Brass Ensemble was also on hand to perform segments from North Carolina is My Home, which Kuralt wrote and performed with McGlohon.  McGlohon performed “The Farmer” segment that he called his favorite.

William C. Friday during the memorial service for Charles Kuralt. Photograph by Hugh Morton, as cropped by the editor.

William C. Friday during the memorial service for Charles Kuralt. Photograph by Hugh Morton, as cropped by the editor.

“The world knew Charles as one of the most respected and trusted newsmen of this generation, a master storyteller and a tour guide to the back roads of our nation,” said Chancellor Hooker.  “The university knew him as a stalwart alumnus who never forgot his roots—whether it meant talking to our budding journalists or giving his time and effort on behalf of the School of Social Work to help promote his late father’s profession.  He was a kind and generous man who never hesitated to lend his alma mater a hand however and whenever possible.  He will be greatly missed.”

Morton told the standing-room only crowd at Memorial Hall, “I begged him to cancel everything and come to the mountains and sleep all day or fish all day, whatever it would take to restore his health.”  Kuralt said he had too much to do.

Left to right: James G. (Jim) Babb, then Executive Vice President at Bahakel Communications, with Loonis McGlohon, and Charles Kuralt at Belmont Abbey College, May 10, 1997. Babb is a class of 1959 alumnus of Belmont Abbey College.

Left to right: James G. (Jim) Babb, then Executive Vice President at Bahakel Communications, with Loonis McGlohon, and Charles Kuralt at Belmont Abbey College, May 10, 1997. Babb is a class of 1959 alumnus of Belmont Abbey College.

Morton wasn’t surprised when he got a call telling him that Kuralt had died.  Less than two months earlier on May 10, Hugh Morton met with Kuralt at Belmont Abbey College.  It was probably their last time together.  Kuralt was the commencement speaker and received an honorary degree.  McGlohon also received an honorary degree that day, along with Catholic theologian and author, the Reverend Terrence Kardong, and the Reverend David Thompson, Bishop of the Charleston diocese.  Kuralt had been diagnosed with lupus and his treatment regimen had taken a severe toll.

"Belmont Abbey / Loonis & Charles"—Hugh Morton's entry in his executive planner for May 10, 1997.

“Belmont Abbey / Loonis & Charles”—Hugh Morton’s entry in his executive planner for May 10, 1997.

Through his world travels, Charles Kuralt never forgot his North Carolina roots.  Governor Jim Hunt called Kuralt North Carolina’s storytelling ambassador, then added, “He was born on the coast, grew up in the Piedmont, loved the mountains, but he belonged to America. He was a fine reporter.  But when he started telling us America’s stories, we smiled and sometimes cried when we saw the goodness.”

In July 1997, television personality Charlie Rose was hosting an interview program on Public Broadcasting (PBS), so it was a natural for the North Carolina native to co-anchor the TV coverage of the Charles Kuralt memorial broadcast on the University’s Public Broadcasting station WUNC-TV.  Rose called Kuralt “a genuine American hero.”

“There was almost no one who didn’t know him. People would say ‘I was always wondering when you would show up.’” Then with a smile Rose added. “There was one exception, a woman Kuralt walked up to interview asked him to leave two quarts of milk, thinking he was the milkman.”

“All of us, when we heard the story (of Kuralt’s death) wanted to say ‘Stop—one more story, one more conversation. Introduce me to one more person that reflects America. Give me one more gentle reminder of who we are and what the great fabric of this nation is about.’ ”

Former UNC System President Dr. William Friday said, “No matter where he was in the world, he would call Chapel Hill and ask whether the dogs were still chasing the squirrels across campus and the flowers still blooming.”

When UNC System President C.D. Spangler, Jr. got to the podium to add his remarks, he opened with these words: “To Charles and all his family here, I say welcome back to Chapel Hill.”

Supplement

William C. Friday’s papers in the Southern Historical Collection contain the following letters between Friday and Hugh Morton, written soon after the Kuralt memorial service.

Epilog

On October 12, 2012 (University Day on the UNC campus), former UNC System President Dr. William Clyde Friday passed away.  He, too, is at peace in the Old Chapel Hill Cemetery.

Correction: A caption to a photograph in the original version of the story stated that the unidentified person on the left of the group portrait with McGlohon and Kuralt was thought to be Reverend David Thompson.  A reader’s comment identified the man as James G. Babb (7 July 2017).

Ella Fitzgerald’s 100th birthday

Ella Fitzgerald with the Chick Webb Orchestra, at the Howard Theatre in Washington, DC.

Ella Fitzgerald with the Chick Webb Orchestra, at the Howard Theatre in Washington, DC.

Today marks the 100 anniversary of Ella Fitzgerald’s birth.  In his book Making a Difference in North Carolina, Hugh Morton included a similar photograph to the one above with the caption,

Ella Fitzgerald, at age 18, sings A Ticket, A Tasket with Chick Webb’s Orchestra.  They played in North Carolina, but this photo is in the Howard Theatre in Washington, D.C.

Hm . . .

Fitzgerald would have been eighteen in 1935 to 1936.  According to Stuart Nicholson’s Ella Fitzgerald: The Complete Biography (2004) and Ella Fitzgerald: The Chick Webb Years & Beyond by Ron Fritts & Ken Vail (2003), Fitzgerald recorded that song for the first time on May 2, 1938 at Decca studios in New York.  Fitzgerald and the Chick Webb Orchestra first performed at the Howard Theatre for one-week engagement that opened on November 22, 1935.  Hugh Morton would have been fourteen years old.  Perhaps this photograph is from a later date?

Another Morton Mystery is at hand.  I learned late in the day that today was Fitzgerald’s 100th birthday, so this will need some follow up.  Can any readers of A View to Hugh fill in some of the story?

Addendum

According to Fritts and Vail, Ella Fitzgerald and the Chick Webb Orchestra also played a one-week engagement at the Howard Theatre from March 26 through April 1, 1937.  Fitzgerald would have been nineteen, just shy of her twentieth birthday., while Hugh Morton would have been sixteen.  It was billed as an “Easter Swing Session” and a “Gay Holiday Revue” with Bardue Ali, Charles Linton, and Taft Jordan.  Fitzgerald and the orchestra returned to the Howard Theatre for another one-week stand from January 28 through February 3, 1938.  The following week, the entourage began a five-week stint in Boston at the Flamingo Room at Levaggi’s Restaurant.  According to Nicholson, Fitzgerald “worked out the outline of ‘A-Ticket, A-Tasket'” at Levaggi’s.”

Fitzgerald and the orchestra’s next one-week stop at the Howard Theatre came on March 31, ending on April 6.  An advertisement for the engagement portrays her as “First Lady of Swing ‘Ella A-Tisket A-Takset Fitzgerald.'”  Webb, however, did not perform; he entered John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore for a back operation.  He left the hospital the following week. Webb would died on June 16, 1939, but Fitzgerald continued to play with his orchestra—which playbills began to list as “her Chick Webb Orchestra” or other such variations. At some point soon there after the design and the initials on the front of the music stands changed to EF.

The next appearance by Fitzgerald at the Howard, according to Fritts and Vail is a one-week gig from March 7 to 13, 1941. This performance seems to be an unlikely candidate for Morton’s negatives. He attended Episcopal High School in Alexandria, Virginia before enrolling at UNC in the autumn of 1939, so his proximity to Washington, D.C. coupled with the release date of “A-Tisket, A-Tasket” favors a twenty-one, soon to be twenty-two, year-old Fitzgerald. If so, then Morton’s negatives capture Fitzgerald on the cusp of an important turning point in her a career.

Taking “A Tisket A Tasket” to Task

In a 1981 interview by Ron Wellburn, Teddy MacRae spoke about the origins of “A-Tisket A-Takset.”  He said, “That was Ella own thing.  It was her own idea. That was her thing that she would sing up in Yonkers. . . . ”  Fitzgerald, born in Newport News, Virginia, was raised in Yonkers from the age of three until her mother died suddenly of a heart attack in 1932.  The lyrics are based up a very old nursery rhyme.  MacRae continued, “We [the orchestra] had nothing to do with that. We called Van [Alexander] to put it down on paper for her, and Van made the arrangements.”

Biographer Robertson, quoting liner notes from the 1986 Swingtime LP Ella Fitzgerald Forever Young, volume 2 (ST 1007) quoted Alexander as saying “I was terribly busy at the time so I did nothing about the tune. But Ella approached me again after about a month, and I went home and put the melody and her lyrics together, copying all the parts myself, and took it to Webb.  He rehearsed the song for about an hour in the afternoon and that very night, from the Savoy, he broadcast it. And that’s how ‘A-Tisket, A-Tasket” was born and popularized.”

For a version of the story from her at the time, we turn to The Ella Fitzgerald Companion (1998) that includes a 1938 New York Post article by Earl Wilson in which Fitzgerald said, “we was playing’ Boston in April, and I says to Al Feldman [the birth name of Van Alexander], our arranger, ‘Look here, I got something terrific! They’re swing’ everything else—why not nursery rhymes?’  I had most of the words wrote out, so we sat down and jammed around till we got the tune, and that’s the way it was.”  Well, that’s Ella’s version of the story.  Up next for yet a different take . . .  the biography First Lady of Song: Ella Fitzgerald for the Record by Geoffrey Fidelman (1994).

In that his biography Fidelman notes that the band had nightly broadcasts of their performances at the Levaggi.  His spin on the story is that Feldman said he was so busy because of the constant need for new material for the radio broadcasts.  “I turned her down flat,” said Feldman recalling when Fitzgerald approached him because of his workload.  Fidelman then notes that Ella again approached Feldman a few days later [not a month as Teddy MacRae recalled.]  Fidelman states Click Webb “put ‘Tasket’ on the air almost immediately and the band played it nightly for almost a month before the May 2 recording date for Decca, and this version has the song’s debut at Levaggi’s not the Savoy.

And of course there’s yet another version of the story that Fidelman refutes with his research.  I cannot sort out all the stories here, but in each of these accounts, “A-Tisket, A-Tasket” comes together after the February 1938 engagement at the Howard Theatre. If Hugh Morton photographed Fitzgerald then, she wasn’t singing the song that burst her into stardom.  Either that, or there was another performance by Ella and the Webb band not recorded in the extensive chronicle constructed by Fritts and Vail.

We may never know . . .

Note: The final two sections added on 26 April

THE Voice of the Tar Heels

Tar Heel Sports Network play-by-play announcer Woody Durham (right) with son Wes Durham (play-by-play announcer for Georgia Tech) after receiving Marvin "Skeeter" Francis Award at 2002 ACC basketball tournament, Charlotte, NC.

Tar Heel Sports Network play-by-play announcer Woody Durham (right) with son Wes Durham (play-by-play announcer for Georgia Tech) after receiving Marvin “Skeeter” Francis Award at 2002 ACC basketball tournament, Charlotte, NC.

Today, April 22, 2017, Carolina’s Woody Durham will receive the Lindsey Nelson Broadcasting Award at the University of Tennessee Orange and White spring football game in Knoxville. This will be just the latest in a long line of awards that fill his trophy case. Woody’s son Wes will be on hand to accept the award for his dad.  On this special day, Morton volunteer contributor, Jack Hilliard, reminisces about his long-time friend and UNC classmate.

Many of the recent reports in the media of Woody Durham’s health issues have described him as “The Voice of the Tar Heels for 40 Years.” While that is true, there is far more to it than that. Woody Durham was, is, and forever will be The Voice of the North Carolina Tar Heels, period. Others will broadcast the play-by-play of the Tar Heel games and will do it well, but none will ever come close to what Woody Durham was able to accomplish . . . the bar is just too high.

I came to work for WFMY-TV in Greensboro on February 6, 1963 and worked until July 24th, when I left for a short tour of active duty with the US Army. When I returned in January, 1964, WFMY’s long-time sports director Charlie Harville had left for the new station in High Point and taking his place was Woody Durham, a classmate from UNC. While at Carolina, I had often watched Woody and news anchors Ray Williams and Dave Wegerek from the WUNC-TV control room in Swain Hall as director Wayne Upchurch directed the evening news. I decided then that I wanted to direct a show like that someday.  But I never imagined that my path would cross with Woody’s and Dave’s down the road.

Woody Durham and Ray Williams on news set, April 19, 1961. (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Photographic Laboratory Collection Photographer: Bill Prouty.)

Woody Durham and Ray Williams on news set, April 19, 1961. (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Photographic Laboratory Collection Photographer: Bill Prouty.)

When I returned to WFMY in ’64, I got a promotion from the floor crew to a control room job—audio and technical director, then assistant director.  And in early November of 1966, I got to direct my first newscast and for me it was magical.  As had been the case back at WUNC-TV, Dave Wegerek anchored the news and Woody Durham anchored the sports.  I had the honor and privilege of working with Dave for four years, and with Woody for almost fourteen, until August of 1977.  During that time with Woody, I saw a master at work.  From a ten-second promotional announcement to a one-hour documentary it was always the same: carefully research, then script it and deliver it with dignity, class, and style. That’s the way Woody has lived his life, with perhaps a bit less emphasis on the scripting part.  And that’s the way he’s approaching his current health struggles.

As most of the Tar Heel Nation will recall, Woody delivered a letter to his many friends and fans on June 1, 2016.  In it he explained his current health condition with primary progressive aphasia, a neurocognitive disorder that affects language expression:

I can still enjoy the company of friends and traveling with my wife, Jean, but I am not able to address groups as I did in the past,” Durham said. “While learning of this diagnosis was a bit of a shock for Jean and me, and yes, quite an ironic one at that, it also brought a sense of relief to us in terms of understanding what was happening to me and how best to deal with it.

Goodness knows, Tar Heel fans have heard him often over the years telling the Tar Heel story for the Athletic Department, the General Alumni Association, the Tar Heel Sports Network, and you name it, Woody has been there. And as you would likely guess, Woody is using his health issue to help people become aware of aphasia and how it affects individuals and families.

As in the past, I will continue to attend Carolina functions and sporting events as my schedule permits, and be part of civic and other charitable endeavors throughout the state. As part of these events, we want to make people more aware of primary progressive aphasia, and the impact that these neurocognitive disorders can have on individuals, families and friends.

Along with raising awareness, we hope to encourage financial support for continued research and treatment in our state, as well as nationally.

Over the years, Woody has urged us to “go where you go, and do what you do” when a close game was on the line.  As Woody’s friend for more than 50 years, I would urge all to take Woody’s game advice because he is involved in yet another difficult struggle. And in the end, when he wins this battle, (and I choose to believe he will), he can say, as he often has said following a big Tar Heel victory: “Act like you’ve been there before.”

Woody Durham interviews King Rice following win over Duke in the 1991 ACC Tournament. Also in the frame is #32 Pete Chilcutt, and Rick Fox (right). Jim Heavner, Tar Heel Sports Network and CEO of The Village Companies of Chapel Hill can be partially seen in extreme left of the frame.

Woody Durham interviews King Rice following win over Duke in the 1991 ACC Tournament. Also in the frame is #32 Pete Chilcutt, and Rick Fox (right). Jim Heavner, Tar Heel Sports Network and CEO of The Village Companies of Chapel Hill can be partially seen in extreme left of the frame.

I think it’s appropriate that we update Woody’s progress on the web site which is everything Hugh Morton. Woody was a Hugh Morton photo subject often and during the 2005-2006 UNC basketball season, Woody gave us periodic reports on Hugh’s condition.

On October 5, 2013, there was a very special event at the Turchin Center on the campus of Appalachian State University in Boone. I was honored to be a panelist along with Betty McCain, Robert Anthony, and Woody Durham.  Our topic: “Hugh Morton and His Photography.”  It was a magical afternoon . . . one to forever remember.

So on this special day I say: “Best wishes, dear friend, our thoughts and prayers are with you, Jean, and family.”

Red tide fear: trouble at sea

Twenty-nine years ago the North Carolina coastal fishing and tourist industries faced a very real problem.  As most often is the case, the Hugh Morton family stepped in to offer help. Morton collection volunteer and blog contributor Jack Hilliard looks back to January, 1988 and a unique gathering of loyal North Carolinians.

First, a little history . . .

In August 1987 off the coast of Naples, Florida, microscopic algae began to reproduce at a rapid rate, thriving and expanding in a matter of days into a large toxic bloom that dominated the Florida coastal environment.  Two months later that same organism, Ptychodiscus brevis, had spread to the North Carolina coast—closing 170 miles of coastal fishing waters and affecting 9,000 commercial fishermen.  North Carolina had never had a toxic algae bloom.  In fact a toxic bloom had never been seen north of Jacksonville, Florida, about 800 miles to the south.

At the time, some scientists described the situation as a spreading global epidemic of toxic and nontoxic algae blooms called “red tides.”  North Carolina’s bloom is believed to have traveled north in the Gulf Stream, bypassing other Southern states. Some of those scientists believed the causes of the red tide epidemic likely included climatic changes, natural growth cycles, and man-made pollution among others.  Other scientists remained unconvinced.  “I wouldn’t want to come down and say pollution is causing red tide expansions,” said Daniel Kamykowski, a professor of oceanography at the University of North Carolina. “I don’t think pollution is that well defined in terms of the cause of red tides.”

At this point it should be pointed out that commercial seafood found in restaurants and grocery stores is safe because it comes from red tide-free-water and is monitored by the U.S. government for safe use.  That being said, in early 1988, North Carolinians were skeptical: they were not eating fish, and that was hurting the coastal fishing and tourist business in at least 600 restaurants, hotels, and seafood markets.  At the time, Hugh Morton, Jr. was the Director of the North Carolina Division of Travel and Tourism, having been in that position since March of 1987.

When there was a North Carolina concern that needed attention, Hugh Morton, Jr., like his father, was always ready to help.  So in early January, 1988, along with the North Carolina Association of Broadcasters, Morton and Governor Jim Martin launched a campaign to aid the fishing and tourism industries that were facing the red tide scare.

Governor Jim Martin addressing a crowd of food workers and celebrities including Charlie Justice, Phil Ford, Clyde King, and William Friday. Taken at a North Carolina tourism event coordinated by Hugh Morton, Jr. to address the effects of "red tide" algae.

Governor Jim Martin addressing a crowd of food workers and celebrities including Charlie Justice, Phil Ford, Clyde King, and William Friday. Taken at a North Carolina tourism event coordinated by Hugh Morton, Jr. to address the effects of “red tide” algae.

On January 6, 1988, Governor Martin and Hugh, Jr. staged a seafood feast at the Governor’s mansion in Raleigh. The invited guest list read like a who’s who in the Tar Heel state: Jesse Haddock, Bill Friday, Kay Yow, George Hamilton IV, Captain Frank Conlon, Kyle and Richard Petty, Clyde King, Loonis McGlohon, Charlie Justice, Shirley Caesar, Bones McKinney, Tommy Amaker, Tommy Burleson, Miss North Carolina Seafood Evonne Carawan of Morehead City, Bob Timberlake, Bobby Jones, and Phil Ford, plus a variety of costumed characters from a variety of state travel attractions, like Daniel Boone (portrayed by Glenn Causey.)  In all, more than thirty loyal North Carolinians participated.

They all ate North Carolina seafood, and Hugh, Jr. put to work his advertising agency skills and produced a number of TV public service announcements using this impressive group of North Carolina legends. Hugh Morton, Sr., as would be expected, was there with camera in hand.  In his 2003 book, Hugh Morton’s North Carolina, he called the group “one of the most impressive groups of celebrities ever gathered in the state.”  Some of the celebrities shared their own seafood recipes, like “Richard Petty’s Favorite Crabmeat Casserole,” and “George Hamilton IV’s Favorite Scallops and Shrimp.”  Both of these favorite recipes appeared in the March, 1988 issue of The State (now Our State).

Governor Jim Martin confers with Richard Petty, as Charlie Justice looks on. Duke basketball star Tommy Amaker may be the person on the far left. (Photograph cropped by the editor.)

Governor Jim Martin confers with Richard Petty, as Charlie Justice looks on. Duke basketball star Tommy Amaker may be the person on the far left. (Photograph cropped by the editor.)

According to the Saturday, January 9 Wilmington Morning Star, the campaign was to begin on Monday.  I recall vividly the day the reel of two-inch videotape announcements arrived at the WFMY-TV studio in Greensboro.  One of my duties at the time was to pre-screen all incoming video material.  The spots were magnificent.  We were pleased to air them in the Greensboro, High Point, and Winston-Salem television market.  A letter enclosed with the videotape from Wade Hargrove, Executive Director of the North Carolina Association of Broadcasters explained the purpose for the TV project:

These announcements come at a time when the seafood industry (which is very important to the state’s economic health) has been hit hard by the “red tide” along the coast. Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of everyone, there seems to be a widespread misconception that the red tide has had an adverse effect on the state’s fish and shrimp industry—which is not the case. . . These PSAs are designed to clear up that misconception in a positive, upbeat way.

I also recall that catchy phrase that ended each spot: “North Carolina . . . first in freedom . . . first in flight . . . and first in fish.”

Artist Bob Timberlake (left) and basketball player and coaching legend Horace "Bones" McKinney (right) pose with plentiful edible seafood. The woman is unidentified, perhaps a member of an N.C. outdoor drama. With Glenn Causey, as Daniel Boone, in attendance, she might be from the cast of "Horn in the West." Other possible identifications for this photograph: Kay Yow just over Timberlake's shoulder, and Shirley Caesar second from the right background. Miss N.C. Seafood is in the background (far right).

Artist Bob Timberlake (left) and basketball player and coaching legend Horace “Bones” McKinney (right) pose with plentiful edible seafood. The woman is unidentified, perhaps a member of an N.C. outdoor drama. With Glenn Causey, as Daniel Boone, in attendance, she might be from the cast of “Horn in the West.” Other possible identifications for this photograph: Kay Yow just over Timberlake’s shoulder, and Shirley Caesar second from the right background. Miss N.C. Seafood is in the background (far right).

In the weeks and months that followed, seafood consumption began the long road to recovery.  Jesse Jackson visited Wilmington for four hours on January 27 during his presidential campaign, “focusing on the economic plight of shell fishermen,” according to Janet Olsen, staff writer for the Wilmington Morning Star.  On February 2 Governor Martin launched “Operation Red Tide,” a $120,000 relief fund for those fishermen who suffered losses during the epidemic. She reported that the red tide “put almost 11,000 commercial fishermen out of work in North Carolina.”  On February 12 Bryson Jenkins, Public Information Spokeswoman with the North Carolina Division of Environmental Management, announced that algae counts were at 5,000 cells per liter, down from “hundreds of thousands.”