Flowers, parades, parties, and golf along with the Golden Voice, Known as “The Whiz”

The North Carolina Azalea Festival is in progress for the 72nd time in Wilmington.  This year’s event takes place from April 3-7, 2019.  Going back to 1948, not only is this event a celebration of flowers and golf, it brings celebrated guests from across the United States. From Hollywood movies, to TV stars, to celebrated sports heroes, the festival has seen them all.  Over the years, many of the guests have made returned visits.  This was especially true in the early years.  As we celebrate festival number 72, Morton collection volunteer Jack Hilliard looks back at one of those guests, noted broadcaster Harry Wismer, who visited often during the1950s.

UNC Head Football Coach Carl Snavely, UNC tailback Charlie Justice, and ABC Radio play-by-play announcer Harry Wismer prior to the start of the 1949 Sugar Bowl.

UNC Head Football Coach Carl Snavely, UNC tailback Charlie Justice, and ABC Radio play-by-play announcer Harry Wismer prior to the start of the 1949 Sugar Bowl.

Hugh Morton crossed paths with legendary sportscaster Harry Wismer at the Sugar Bowl on January 1, 1949 in New Orleans.  Wismer was in town to broadcast the game for ABC Radio between the UNC Tar Heels and the Oklahoma Sooners.  Of course Morton was in town to photograph the game which featured his dear friend Charlie Justice.  And as one would expect, Morton took at pre-game picture of Justice and Wismer, a picture that Hugh often included in his famous slides shows. Morton also included the image in his 1988 book Making a Difference in North Carolina on page 257.

Nearly two years later on December 10, 1950, Morton photographed the final regular season game between the Washington Redskins and the Cleveland Browns in Washington’s Griffith Stadium.  Again, he crossed paths with Harry Wismer, the Redskins’ play-by-play man.  At the time, Harry Wismer, who was known by many as “The Whiz,” was already considered the nation’s leading sportscaster, having broadcast numerous events like the National Open and PGA, the Penn Relays, and the National Football League Championship.

Wismer was also a part owner of the Detroit Lions and the Washington Redskins of the National Football League.  In addition to his co-ownership, Wismer was “The Voice of the Redskins,” having called their games on the “Amoco-Redskins Network” since 1943.  It was on those Redskins broadcasts that I first heard him.  As a little kid, I listened to the Redskin games starting in 1950.  When the game came to TV in North Carolina in 1951, Wismer was right there with the play-by-play.  I remember those early broadcasts. Wismer’s commercial tag line went like this: “All around town, for all around service, visit your Amoco man, and Lord Baltimore filling stations.”

1949 Queen of the North Carolina Azalea Festival, actress Martha Hyer, with her court.

1949 Queen of the North Carolina Azalea Festival, actress Martha Hyer, with her court.

Starting in 1949, the Azalea Open Golf Tournament became a part of the spring festivities.    Hugh Morton invited Wismer to the 1950 Azalea Festival in Wilmington, along with Southern Methodist University football hero Doak Walker and his wife Norma.  Of course, Tar Heels Charlie and Sarah Justice returned in ’50, having been there in 1949 to crown Azalea Queen II, Hollywood starlet Martha Hyer.  When Justice and Wismer returned to Wilmington for the 1951 festival, Hugh Morton had added a new event: a special golf match at the Cape Fear Country Club called “Who Crowns the Azalea Queen?”  The match pitted two ABC Radio broadcasters, Harry Wismer and Ted Malone, against two football greats, Charlie Justice and Otto Graham.

Harry Wismer and Ted Malone

ABC Radio broadcasters Harry Wismer and Ted Malone.

Margaret Sheridan, Otto Graham, Harry Wismer, Charlie Justice, and Earl Stewart

Margaret Sheridan, Otto Graham, Harry Wismer, and Charlie Justice seek magical powers by holding the putter of golfer Earl Stewart after he shot a superb round of 65 to capture the lead after the third round of the Azalea Open Golf Tournament.

The winner of the nineholeevent would have the honor of crowning Queen Azalea IV, Margaret Sheridan.  The ‘51 winner was the Justice/Graham team.

Margaret Sheridan holding flagstick

Queen Azalea IV Margaret Sheridan takes charge of the flagstick on the 18th green at the Cape Fear Country Club.

In addition to being part of the parades, flowers, and parties, Wismer broadcast the Azalea Open Golf Tournament on ABC Radio.  The 1951 Open winner was Lloyd Mangrum, and Wismer included an interview with him on his ABC Radio show which was also originated live in Wilmington.

Harry Wismer interviewing Lloyd Mangrum

ABC Radio broadcaster Harry Wismer interviewing the 1951 Azalea Open Golf Tournament winner Lloyd Mangrum.

The 1952 “Who Crowns the Azalea Queen?” event once again put Wismer’s team, which included writer Hal Boyle and band leader Tony Pastor, against a football squad of Charlie Justice, Eddie Lebaron, and Otto Graham and this time the Wismer team won.

Harry Wismer crowns Cathy Downs as Azalea Queen V.

Harry Wismer crowns Cathy Downs as Azalea Queen V during the 1952 Azalea Festival.

According to Hugh Morton, the original queen selection for 1952 was actress Janet Leigh, but her husband Tony Curtis decided to cancel their trip to Wilmington.  Morton knew that actress Cathy Downs was in town because her husband Joe Kirkwood, Jr. was playing in the Azalea Open.  When Morton invited her, she accepted and became Queen Azalea V.

Wismer continued his Azalea Festival visits during the mid-1950s. Charlotte broadcaster Grady Cole also participated in Wismer’s broadcasts. 

Wismer would later become one of the founding fathers of the American Football League, which began play in 1960; three years later, however, he gave up his football leadership.  Wismer spent the remainder of his life trying to reclaim his glory days as broadcaster and team owner, but was unsuccessful partly because of his declining health.  In 1965, Wismer wrote a book titled The Public Calls It Sports.  In it he gives a “behind the scenes” look at professional football from a broadcast and ownership point of view.

Harry Wismer passed away on December 4, 1967, the day after a tragic fall at a New York restaurant.  He was 64-years-old.

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.

 

 

 

Morton photographs of Augusta National

Yesterday while looking through Sheet Film Box P081/C-24 in the Hugh Morton collection, I came across the above color negative labeled “Augusta Nat’l for John Wms.”  Today, coincidentally, is the opening round of the Masters Tournament, so I had the negative digitized for posting on A View to Hugh.  Turning to the finding aid to see what additional material on Augusta National might be in the collection, I found the following:

Roll Film Box P081/35C-6

  • Envelope 6.4-6-1, “Golf, Augusta,” 1971, Color 35mm roll film negatives, 35 images

Roll Film Box P081/120C-5

  • Envelope 6.4-4-1, “Augusta” (mostly scenic golf course), 1971?, Color 120 roll film negatives, 31 images
  • Envelope 6.4-4-10A, “Augusta National for John Williams” (golf course), 1970s-early 1980s, Color 120 roll film negatives, 6 images

Some of the images depict a foursome and others playing the course; many other negatives are scenic views.  The images didn’t seem to merit scanning them all just to select a few to use for the blog, but if anyone is ever looking for images of the Augusta National circa 1971 (the 35mm negatives are labeled Spring 1971 but the reaming dates are estimates), you may aways request to see them or have them digitized.  One of the negatives, however, depicted a gentleman sitting outside a door with the nameplate “John H. Williams.”

So two question remained: Who is John Williams and what is his connection to Hugh Morton? According to his obituary from May 2013, Williams “was recognized nationally as one of the great financial minds and deal-makers in America during the 1960s and 1970s.”    The portrait of Williams in his obituary looks very much like the man pictured above, so it’s safe to say this is photograph of Williams at Augusta National.

Based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Williams was co-founder, president, and chief executive officer of The Williams Companies from 1949 to 1971, and chairman and CEO from 1971 to 1979.  When he retired, the company’s assets were $2 billion.  Listed among his many accomplishments and associations: Williams served on the board of Augusta National Golf Club . . . and “Grandfather Golf and Country Club and Linville Golf Club of Linville, NC.”  At the time of his death, Williams and his wife resided in both Tulsa and Linville.  And therein lies his connection to Hugh Morton.  Turning back to the Morton collection finding aid, there are thirty-one entries for John Williams spanning the 1960s through the 1980s.

That’s what I discovered after a little investigation.  Please leave a comment if you would like to add to the story.

Wake Forest’s finest golfer: Arnold Palmer (1929–2016)

Arnold Palmer (center) shakes hands with Howie Johnson after the 1958 Azalea Open Golf Tournament at the Cape Fear Country Club, Wilmington, NC. Azalea Festival Queen Ester Williams smiles between the two good friends. Photograph by Hugh Morton, cropped by the author.

Arnold Palmer (center) shakes hands with Howie Johnson after the 1958 Azalea Open Golf Tournament at the Cape Fear Country Club, Wilmington, NC. Azalea Festival Queen Ester Williams smiles between the two good friends. Photograph by Hugh Morton, cropped by the author.

If I were to write a short story about this afternoon, I would title it “A Tale of Two Sweaters.”

Arnold Palmer, Wake Forest’s finest golfer who also was one of the game’s greatest players, course designers, and ambassadors, died yesterday.  Earlier today, the Wilson Library reference staff received a request from a Wilmington media outlet for two images from the online collection of images of Palmer at the Azalea Open.  Both images had dates of 31 March 1957; one scan came from a negative (cropped by the author) . . .

p081_ntbf4_005752_05_crop

the other (below) from a print with no identifying information on its back.

p081_prbp8_000658

I quickly noticed that Palmer was not wearing the same sweater in both images, and that the women were also wearing different clothes.  A bit of digging in newspapers on microfilm and online, plus a check with other Morton negatives that are not online (including the scan at the beginning of this post) led to the discovery that the first of these two images was correctly identified.  It depicts the check presentation from Azalea Festival Queen Kathryn Grayson to Palmer after he won the 1957 open, but Morton made the latter after the 1958 tournament.

Here’s is the short storyline for the 1958 Azalea Open finale: Arnold Palmer was the defending champion, but finished second to Howie Johnson after losing a playoff round by one stroke. Palmer and Johnson were reportedly very good friends at the the time.  The following week, Palmer won his first Masters Tournament in Augusta, Georgia.

Ironically, Palmer and Johnson died almost exactly one year apart: Howie Johnson died September 21, 2015.

 

 

Hugh Morton’s first daily newspaper assignment

The previous post on A View to Hugh features a Hugh Morton photograph of Grandfather Mountain, published without credit on the cover of the 8 March 1941 issue of The State.  As the blog post revealed, I suspect the photograph dates from 1940 or earlier, which is relatively early in Morton’s career as a photographer.  January of that year saw Morton beginning his second semester as a freshman at UNC.  His camera had been stolen shortly after arriving on campus in the autumn of 1939, and it was not until sometime around January or February 1940 that he bought his next camera.  So, I wondered, “How early in his career would that have been?”  Today’s exploration unravels an uncertainty and mystery that I didn’t even have until two days ago.

This is an important photograph in Morton’s career.  At the time he made it, Morton was a UNC student with a summertime job as the photography counselor at Camp Yonahnoka.  Here’s one of his accounts about the photograph, quoted from the preface of his 2003 book Hugh Morton’s North Carolina:

In 1940, at nearby Linville, a fourteen-year-old kid from Tarboro named Harvie Ward embarrassed a lot of adults by winning the prestigious Linville Men’s Golf Tournament.  Burke Davis, sports editor of the Charlotte News, contacted the Linville Club for a photograph of Harvie Ward, and I was called to come up from camp to carry out what was my first photo assignment for a daily newspaper.  Davis liked my Harvie Ward pictures, and this led to many photo assignments for the Charlotte News during my college years at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Because this assignment helped launch Hugh Morton’s career as a news photographer, and the early view of Grandfather Mountain was also likely made in 1940, I wanted to know when the Charlotte News published the Ward photograph(s) (two negatives are extant in the Morton collection) relative to publication of the early Grandfather Mountain view in The State.  I searched the Web for information on the Linville golf tournament and Harvie Ward for 1940, but only found a few bits and pieces—and nothing that said when they played the tournament.  So . . . off to the microfilm room.

I scanned through issues of the Charlotte News, Tarboro’s Daily Southerner, and Rocky Mount’s Evening Telegram published during the “golf-able” summer months through mid September, by which time Morton would have returned to Chapel Hill from Camp Yonahnoka and Ward would have already returned to Tarboro in time for their classes.  Nothing . . . at least not that mentioned Harvie Ward winning the tournament in 1940.

I turned next to Morton’s booklet, Sixty Years with a Camera published in 1996, which I recalled also included the portrait of Ward.  As The Jetsons cartoon dog Astro would say, “Ruh Roh . . . .”

The first picture I took on assignment for a newspaper (the Charlotte News) was of Harvie Ward when he won the 1941 Linville Men’s Golf Tournament.  This was a very competitive event, and it was a surprise to everybody that a 15-year-old kid from Tarboro would win it.

Two different statements of fact.  What to do?  Well, I turned to a different newspaper, the Charlotte Observer and here’s what I found: Harvie Ward didn’t win the Linville Men’s Invitational Tournament in 1939, 1940, 1941, nor 1942.  (I didn’t go further, because Morton was in the army in 1943).  A detailed listing of the entrants in the Charlotte Observer revealed that Ward didn’t enter the 1940 tournament; he did, however, defeat Ed Gravell of Roaring Gap to win the “second flight” of the 1941 tournament.  I also found a congratulatory paragraph in the Daily Southerner on August 4, 1941 “for taking first place in second flight in Linville invitational golf tournament.  Harvie is having great time knocking off the little fellows.”  [For golf historians, Sam Perry emerged victorious in 1939, Charles Dudley won the championship flight in 1940, Hub Covington won the 1941 tournament, and Billy Ireland won the event in 1942.]

To be thorough, I searched for both years (1940 and 1941) through mid September.   There are no photographs of Ward in the Charlotte News.  I now even wonder if the newspaper ever published one of these portraits of Ward by Morton.

So in all likelihood, Hugh Morton had it right the first time in the 1996 booklet: the Harvie Ward, Jr. photographs probably date from 1941.  And here’s some supporting evidence: photographs began appearing in the Charlotte News sports section’s “Pigskin Review” articles with the credit line “News Photos by Hugh Morton” in mid September 1941, which is in agreement with Morton’s statement that the Ward pictures “led to many assignments.”  Morton photographed members of the 1941 football teams of UNC (published September 12th), Duke, (September 13th), NC State (September 15th), and Wake Forest (September 24th), plus two photographs made during and after UNC’s season opener on September 20th against Lenor-Rhyne that featured UNC’s standout running back Hugh Cox.  By comparison, there are no photographs in the newspaper credited to Morton in late summer or early autumn of 1940.

My conclusion? So far, the earliest Morton photograph that I’ve discovered to be published in a non-UNC publication is the early view of Grandfather Mountain.  Now, please tell me why I believe the story probably doesn’t end there?!

Billy Joe Patton

As mentioned in a comment earlier today, noted amateur golfer Billy Joe Patton of Morganton, N. C. passed away on New Year’s Day. Yesterday, the Golf Digest website published a tribute to Patton, which describe Patton as the “swashbuckler” of a handful of great players during “the last chapter of amateur golf’s golden era in the United States.”

Patton is pictured above (cropped by me) after finishing second at the 49th Southern Amateur Championship held at the Linville Golf Club from June 14th through 18th, 1955—a little more than a year after he nearly became the first amateur to win the Masters at the fabled Augusta National Golf Club, which ended in a showdown playoff between legends Sam Snead and Ben Hogan. A detailed account of the 1955 Southern Amateur Championship notes that after the preliminary rounds, “It was then up to Harrison and Patton and they came through with a fine match to reward the hundreds who puffed up the hills after them.” If you look closely at Patton’s left hand, you’ll see he had a puff himself afterward!

Have a look at more photographs of Billy Joe Patton in the Hugh Morton collection.

Who Am I?—Ryder Cup edition

I don’t follow or play golf myself, but I did hear the news this weekend that the United States won its first Ryder Cup since 1999. That reminded me of some Hugh Morton images from the 1951 Ryder Cup, played in Pinehurst, N.C. (which the U.S. also won).

Members of 1951 U.S. Ryder Cup team

I have a list of the team members (below), but can anyone help me attach names to faces in these images? I know a few of them, and could probably fill the rest in a bit of research, but I thought I’d test the golf knowledge of our readership.

Team United States (list from Wikipedia): Sam Snead (Captain), Clayton Heafner, Ed Oliver, Ben Hogan, Jack Burke, Jr., Henry Ransom, Lloyd Mangrum, Jimmy Demaret, Skip Alexander

Members of 1951 U.S. Ryder Cup Team