Four ACC Tournament firsts from 1967

UNC 1967 ACC Tournament champions

UNC-Chapel Hill men’s basketball team celebrating their win over Duke University after the 1967 ACC tournament championship game played in Greensboro, NC. Among those pictured are Head Coach Dean Smith (front row, third from left) and ACC tournament MVP Larry Miller (front row, fourth from left).

The 65th annual Atlantic Coast Conference men’s basketball tournament will be staged in Brooklyn, New York beginning today, March 6th, 2018.  The tournament will return to North Carolina next year when the event will play out in Charlotte. In 2020 the tournament will return to Greensboro for the 28th time, a series that began in 1967.

Morton collection volunteer/contributor Jack Hilliard takes a look back at the ’67 UNC season and an ACC Tournament which was one for the record books.

Carolina’s 1966-67 basketball season got off to a routine start, but finished in a flurry of firsts.  An eleven-point win in Chapel Hill against Clemson for the nineteenth straight time tipped off the season, but was hardly anything to write home about.  Next was a trip to the Greensboro Coliseum for a thirty-point victory against Penn State, followed by seven straight wins—including a win at Kentucky and two more visits to the Greensboro Coliseum with wins over NYU and Furman.  As the season played out, the Tar Heels lost only four regular season games, and they headed into the 1967 ACC Tournament as the regular season conference champion with an ACC record of 12–2.

For the first time since its beginning in 1954, the ACC played its conference tournament away from Reynolds Coliseum in Raleigh.  In 1966 the conference established a rotation arrangement for tournament hosts, electing to play the 1967 tournament at the Greensboro Coliseum—much to delight of UNC Head Basketball Coach Dean Smith.  Smith had favored a neutral site for the tournament and he thought Greensboro was a good fit, even though the coliseum, at that time, had 3,600 fewer seats than Reynolds Coliseum.

Coach Smith and his North Carolina Tar Heels came into the tournament as the number one seed. This was only the second time UNC had been seeded as tournament number one, the first time being the year of “McGuire’s Miracle” after the 1956-57 regular season.

Photographer Hugh Morton made the trip up from his home in Wilmington to document this first Greensboro ACC tournament. (Morton was a fixture courtside at the ACC Tournaments and much of his work can be found in the 1981 book The ACC Tournament Classic by Hugh Morton and Smith Barrier.) Currently there are sixteen photographs made by Morton during the tournament available for viewing in the online collection.  The Morton collection finding aid indicates that thirty-four black-and-white and eight color photographs from UNC’s games versus North Carolina State, Wake Forest, and Duke.

UNC versus Wake Forest during 1967 ACC Tournament

Larry Miller (UNC #44) going up for shot during UNC-Chapel Hill versus Wake Forest University basketball game in the 1967 ACC Tournament.

Three days before the tournament, Greensboro Daily News sports editor Smith Barrier predicted Duke would take the tournament despite the fact that Carolina had beaten Duke twice during the regular season.

The 1967 ACC Tournament, the 14th annual event, tipped off at 1:30 PM on Thursday, March 9th with 8,766 fans watching South Carolina beat Maryland 57–54.  Duke defeated Virginia 99–78 in the second afternoon game.

The first round evening game pitted North Carolina against North Carolina State—a game that turned out to be much closer than most expected. Since Carolina was 12—2 in the ACC and State was 2–12, most folks thought the Tar Heels would have no trouble.  Head coach Norman Sloan and his Wolfpack had a different idea. At the half the score was tied at 26. Carolina was able to hang on and win 56–53.  The second evening contest saw Wake Forest defeat Clemson 63–61 in double overtime.

On Friday, March 10th, the first semifinal game had Smith’s Tar Heels playing Jack McCloskey’s Wake Forest Demon Deacons.  Wake led by four at half, 38–34, but thanks to Larry Miller’s 29-point-second-half, the Tar Heels came away with 89–79 victory.  The second Friday game had coach Vic Bubas’ Duke Blue Devils beating coach Frank McGuire’s South Carolina Gamecocks 69–66 and set up a Duke–Carolina final.

UNC All American Larry Miller had cut out Smith Barrier’s newspaper column predicting a Duke championship, and on championship game day he put the clipping in his shoe.

At 8:30 PM on Saturday, March 11, 1967 it was the “Battle of the Blues.”  Carolina, for the first time in the tournament, played like most Tar Heel fans thought the number one seed should play and led 40–34 at half.  Thanks to Larry Miller’s 32 points, the Tar Heels held on to win 82–73, but the game was really closer than the nine point difference. Coach Smith got a ride on the shoulders of his winning players and called the Duke win “the greatest victory I’ve had as a coach.”

Miller took home the Outstanding Player award.  Following the post game press conference, he presented the clipping to Smith Barrier.  According to author Art Chansky in his 2016 book Game Changers, Barrier “took it in good spirit.”  Sandy Treadwell, Managing Editor of The Daily Tar Heel wrote in the March 12th issue, “The Tar Heels ended a long road of twenty-eight basketball games.  It was a road that took them into national prominence, and which last night earned them a ticket to the NCAA Eastern Regional Tournament in Maryland later this week.”

When the 14th annual Atlantic Coast Conference ended, a total of 35,064 fans had witnessed a tournament for the record books.  Historians of the game went to work and discovered it was the first time that:

  • the conference played the tournament outside Reynolds Coliseum in Raleigh.  (The tournament hasn’t been played in Raleigh since 1966, but there is currently talk of playing the tournament, or part of the 75th anniversary tournament in Raleigh in 2028.)
  • the conference played the tournament in the Greensboro Coliseum.  (Since then, Greensboro has hosted the tournament twenty-seven times.)
  • UNC’s Dean Smith won the ACC Tournament Championship.  (Smith’s teams went on to win a total of thirteen ACC Tournaments before his retirement following the 1997 season.)
  • UNC had beaten the three other members of the “Big Four” (Duke, N.C. State, and Wake Forest) during an ACC Tournament—a fete that hasn’t happened since.

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.

Hugh Morton: a North Carolina treasure

Hugh Morton wearing "cap from Jack"

Hugh Morton wearing “cap from Jack” on the day after his 73rd birthday, February 20th, 1994.

Today, February 19th, is a special day in North Carolina history. On this day ninety-seven years ago, Hugh MacRae Morton was born in Wilmington.

Jack Hilliard recently asked a number of people if they knew who Hugh Morton was.  Each one answered yes and each described him in different terms.  Among the answers:

  • “The man up at Grandfather Mountain.”
  • “He started the Azalea Festival in Wilmington didn’t he?”
  • “Had something to do with the Battleship North Carolina.”
  • “Wasn’t he instrumental in getting the Linn Cove Viaduct built?”
  • “I remember seeing him at the Highland Games up in the mountains.”
  • “He was always taking pictures at the Carolina games.”

All of those answers are correct and there are dozens more correct answers that describe this North Carolina treasure.

Hugh Morton was one of the most well known advocates for North Carolina in the history of our state.  He was determined to make a difference in the growth and development of the Tar Heel state. According to his biographical profile on the Grandfather Mountain web site, he was president or chairman of the Blue Ridge Parkway Association, the Travel Council of North Carolina, the Southern Highlands Attractions Association, the North Carolina Botanical Garden Foundation, and the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame. That list could go on.

Following Morton’s return from World War II, he served as the first president of the North Carolina Azalea Festival in Wilmington in 1948.  In 1961, he led the charge to bring the battleship USS North Carolina home.  He took on the federal government when they wanted to build a highway high up on Grandfather Mountain.  The Linn Cove Viaduct around the mountain was the compromise.  He was a fixture with his camera at the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games and Carolina football and basketball games for more than sixty years.

Hugh Morton served for more than ten years as a member of the North Carolina Board of Conservation and Development under Governors W. Kerr Scott, William B. Umstead, and Luther H. Hodges.  Morton’s influence in his native state can never be properly measured because he often worked behind the scenes and never wanted any credit.

On this day, the day Hugh Morton would have turned 97 years old, we encourage readers of A View to Hugh to check out his photographic legacy as a world-class photographer.  There are more than 7,500 images online and an estimated 250,000 items in the Hugh Morton collection of photographs and films in the North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives, part of UNC’s Wilson Special Collections Library.

 

 

Meet me in Wilmington

Crowd of people at the New Hanover Air Port waving hands

This Sunday at 2:30 p.m., I will be giving my presentation titled “Hugh Morton’s Rise to His Photographic Peak” at the Cape Fear Museum of History and Science in Wilmington, North Carolina.  The presentation coincides with the exhibition “Photographs by Hugh Morton: an Uncommon Retrospective” on display at the museum through September 2018.  Wilmington was Morton’s hometown, so I hope that many from the area will be able to attend to either share your stories about Morton or learn something new about one of that city’s notable native sons.  If you do attend, please say hello and let me know if you are a follower of A View to Hugh!

58 and 0: a Clemson streak of frustration

The UNC Tar Heels will host the Clemson Tigers on Tuesday, January 16th, 2018 in the Dean E. Smith Center on the Carolina campus.  The game will mark the 59th meeting between the two teams when playing in Chapel Hill.  Carolina has won all 58 of the previous Chapel Hill games, an NCAA record for the longest winning streak against a single opponent.  Morton Collection volunteer Jack Hilliard offers a look back at the Clemson streak of frustration.

Prolog

The Clemson frustration in never having won in Chapel Hill was summed up by Clemson Head Coach Rick Barnes following his loss in 1997.  When asked in the Clemson locker room after the game by a reporter, who obviously didn’t know Coach Barnes very well:  How do you explain your program’s head-shaking losing streak in Chapel Hill?  Said Barnes, “If you really need an explanation, take you’re a– out there and look up at the rafters.”

Front page headline from the 16 January 1926 issue of The Daily Tar Heel.: "Tar Heels Beat Clemson Tigers by 5–20 Score. South Carolinians Swamped by Getting Late Start In Game. Rowe's Boxers Perform. Entire Fourth Team Plays Last Part of Melee—Cobb, Hackney, Devin, and Dodderer Star.

Front page headline from the 16 January 1926 issue of The Daily Tar Heel.

It all started on Friday, January 15th, 1926, in a metal-constructed arena on the UNC campus called the Indoor Athletic Court (It would become known as the “Tin Can.”)  UNC’s “White Phantoms” (as the basketball team was often called in those days) beat Clemson College by thirty points, 50-20.  The student newspaper, “The Daily Tar Heel” called the point spread a “massacre.”

While the Carolina band blared the note of “Hark the Sound” and “Here Comes Carolina,” the Tar Heel tossers took the court and limbered up for the massacre.

Headline from the 4 January 1934 issue of The Daily Tar Heel: "White Phantoms Get Off To Fast Start In Opener Downing Clemson 38–26"

Headline from the 4 January 1934 issue of The Daily Tar Heel.

Seven seasons would pass before the two teams met in Chapel Hill again, in 1934.  This time Carolina won by twelve, with a final score of 38-26 as 2,500 fans packed the “Tin Can” to open the 1933-34 season.

The game on January 3rd, 1936 was the closest game to date in the Chapel Hill series.  Carolina won 24-23 in the final game played in the “Tin Can.”

When the two teams met in Chapel Hill for the fourth meeting in the series on February 1st, 1938, Carolina was hosting in Woollen Gym with a 44-34 win.  UNC would host and win the three games of the 1940s by double digits, winning the 1943 game by twenty, 52-32.

Clemson played twice at Chapel Hill during Morton’s years as a UNC student photographer.  Only once—UNC’s 47-30 win on February 19, 1940—when he would have been able to photograph the game.  Neither the student newspaper, The Daily Tar Heel, nor the nor the yearbook, The Yackety Yak, published a photograph from the game.  The second Clemson visit to Woollen Gym was on February 2, 1943, but Morton enlisted in the United States Army during the autumn of 1942 and only came back to campus to photograph for the yearbook on one occasion in October 1942.

Cover of the official gamely program for the 1952 Clemson College versus UNC basketball game, played in Woollen Gymnasium.

Cover of the official gamely program for the 1952 Clemson College versus UNC basketball game, played in Woollen Gymnasium.

Clemson traveled to Chapel Hill twice in 1952.  Saturday, January 5th, 1952 marked the eighth meeting between the two with another UNC win 65 to 59.  The following season, on December 10th, 1952 the series played out in Woollen Gym with a Tar Heel win, 82-55.  It would be UNC head coach Tom Scott’s only Carolina–Clemson game in Chapel Hill.

When Clemson came into Chapel Hill on December 19th, 1953, the two teams were now members of the newly formed Atlantic Coast Conference and Carolina’s new head coach Frank McGuire led his Tar Heels to a thirty-seven-point-victory, 85-48—the largest point difference in the series to date.

A thirty-three-point win in 1954 and a fifteen-point win in ’55 set the table for the famous 1956-57 championship season, which included a McGuire led Tar Heel win 86-54 on January 11th, 1957.

When Clemson came into Woollen Gym for the fourteenth meeting, on December 7th, 1957, something had been added.  Television producer C.D. Chesley had brought in his TV cameras for the first regular season ACC game ever and Carolina came away with a 79-55 win.

Coach McGuire and his Tar Heels met Clemson one more time in Chapel Hill during his time as coach, an 83-67 win on December 3rd, 1958.

On January 3rd, 1961, new Head Coach Dean Smith led Carolina to a 77-46 win—the first of twenty-eight Chapel Hill wins over Clemson during his Tar Heel tenure.  The Heels won by sixteen in 1962, and when Clemson came into Chapel Hill on December 1st, 1964 for the eighteenth meeting, they were no longer called Clemson College but were called Clemson University—but continued the losing streak, 77-59.

UNC's Dave Chadwick drives for a layup while Clemson players and Blue Heaven fans watch the action during the teams' 1971 pairing.

UNC’s Dave Chadwick drives for a layup while Clemson players and Blue Heaven fans watch the action during the teams’ 1971 pairing.

Coach Smith led his Tar Heels to double digit wins, in 1966, 1968 and 1971.  Photographer Hugh Morton was in place in Carmichael Auditorium (now called Carmichael Arena), for Carolina’s 1971 win, 92-72.  Surprisingly, it was Morton’s first coverage of a UNC–Clemson contest on a UNC basketball court.

Dale Gipple dribbling to the right side of the key during the 1971 Clemson at UNC basketball game.

Dale Gipple dribbling to the right side of the key during the 1971 Clemson at UNC basketball game.

When the two met in Chapel Hill for the twenty-second time on January 10th, 1973, Tar Heel broadcaster Woody Durham, “The Voice of the Tar Heels,” was in place for his first Carolina vs. Clemson-Tar Heel home game, a 92-58 Carolina win.  Woody would do play-by-play for the next 33 Carolina – Clemson games in Chapel Hill.

The games in 1974 and 1975 were one and two point wins respectfully for the Heels.  A fifteen-point-win in 1976 and a thirty-four-point-win in 1978 preceded another close one in 1980, 73-70.

The game on February 21st, 1981, saw the Heels win by fourteen, 75-61.

Carolina’s 1982 National Championship team beat Clemson 77-72 on January 27th, 1982 on their way to the national title. Tar Heel legend Michael Jordan played his first of two games against Clemson in Chapel Hill, scoring 14 points.

UNC legend Michael Jordan and possibly Murray Jarman look skyward in anticipation of action above the basket. The year of this image is not known.

UNC legend Michael Jordan and possibly Murray Jarman look skyward in anticipation of action above the basket. The year of this image is not known.

The wins in 1983 and ’85 closed out the era in Carmichael, and Hugh Morton was there for that last meeting on February 23rd, 1985—a thirty-four-point-victory, 84-50.

The Carolina vs. Clemson game on February 1st, 1986 was the first Chapel Hill meeting between the two in the Dean E. Smith Student Activity Center (often called the “Dean Dome”). Hugh Morton was there for this UNC-Clemson game as well as the next four meeting between the two, which included a thirty-six-point win in 1988 and Carolina’s first 100-point effort in the series on February 25th, 1989, 100-86.

UNC's Warren Martin #54 with the ball; UNC's Joe Wolf #24 in background during the 1986 Clemson at UNC matchup, their first in the "Dean Dome."

UNC’s Warren Martin #54 with the ball; UNC’s Joe Wolf #24 in background during the 1986 Clemson at UNC matchup, their first in the “Dean Dome.”

Two double-digit wins, in 1990 and 1991, were followed by another 100+ effort on January 9th, 1992, 103-69.

Carolina’s 1992-93 National Championship run contained a thirteen-point-win, 80-67 on February 17th, 1993 before 21,147 in the Smith Center. The ‘93 NCAA Championship would be Coach Dean Smith’s second national title.

The game number forty meeting in January, 1994, was a 44-point-winner, 106-62…Carolina’s largest victory margin of the Chapel Hill series.

Coach Smith closed out his career with double-digit-wins in ’95, ’96, and ’97 with Hugh Morton shooting from courtside at each game. Smith’s January 26th, 1997 win over Clemson was listed by UNC basketball author and historian Adam Lucas as the eighth top game in Smith Center history.

Bill Guthridge, Dean Smith’s assistant from 1967 until 1997, took over the head coaching duties beginning with the 1997–98 season. Coach Guthridge managed three wins over Clemson in Chapel Hill: 1998, 1999, and 2000.

When Clemson arrived in Chapel Hill on January 17th, 2001 for game number forty-seven in the series, new Tar Heel head coach Matt Doherty was in place and led the Heels to a twenty-seven-point-win, 92-65.  Coach Doherty would add two more Chapel Hill wins over Clemson in 2002 and 2003.

Current UNC Head Coach Roy Williams was on board for the fiftieth Carolina – Clemson-Chapel Hill meeting on March 2nd, 2004 and continued the winning ways with a 69-53 victory.

When the fifty-first meeting took place on February 19th, 2005, Carolina was on the way to another NCAA Championship.  That ’05 win was a thirty-two-point-blowout, 88-56. Coach Williams continued the winning streak with a 76-61 win on February 4th, 2006.

Although game number fifty-three on February 10th, 2008 was a ten-point winner, it was much closer than the final score might indicate.  At the end of regulation, the score was tied at 82.  After overtime number one it was 90-90.  And finally the Tar Heels were able to pull out the 103-93 win in the second overtime.  All-American Tyler Hansbrough led the way with 39 points and 13 rebounds.

The twenty-four-point-win on January 21st, 2009 was once again a stepping stone to a national title. Recent games fifty-five through fifty-eight have been double-digit wins for Coach Williams and his Tar Heels.  And that brings us to tonight’s fifty-ninth meeting between Clemson and Carolina in Chapel Hill.  Whoever wins game 59 . . . the streaks will continue or new ones will begin.

Corrections and clarifications

With the 87-79 UNC victory against Clemson on 21 January 2018, the streak did continue.  After the game we reviewed this post in light of the 1952 game-day program having been added to illustrate the article, and we discovered a few mistakes.  On February 5th, we made the following changes:

  • The phrase “UNC’s 47-30 win on February 19th” omitted the year, which was 1940.
  • Sources consulted had not listed the December 8, 1956 game as having been played in Charlotte, so we rewrote the sentence, “A thirty-three-point-win in 1954 and a fifteen-point-win in ’55, set up two Tar Heel wins heading into that famous 1956-57 NCAA Championship season when McGuire let the Heels to two more Chapel Hill wins over Clemson, 94-75 on December 8th, 1956 and 86-54 on January 11th, 1957.”  The sentence now only mentions the game played in Chapel Hill on January 11, 1957.
  • Clarified the phrase “Carolina’s first 100 point effort on February 25th, 1989, 100-86” to reflect it was the first “in the series,” not the first ever.
  • Corrected the game day for 2008 played on February 10th, not January 10th.
  • Corrected the game day for 2009 played on January 21st, not January 9th.
  • Corrected some typographical errors.

Oak Christmas tree, oak Christmas tree . . .

"World's Largest Living Christmas Tree" in Wilmington, North Carolina. Photographed by Hugh Morton, probably during the 1950s.

“World’s Largest Living Christmas Tree” in Wilmington, North Carolina. Photographed by Hugh Morton, probably during the 1950s.

This year’s holiday post looks back at once longtime tradition in Hugh Morton’s hometown of Wilmington.  We hope it will bring back special holiday memories for many of our readers.  The credit for writing this post goes to Jack Hilliard, with a little bit of filler from my keyboard including the lyrical pun for the title.  For that you can blame me.

On Christmas eve 1928 in Wilmington, North Carolina, a new holiday event took place in Hilton Park opposite the city’s water works.  At that time, at that place, “The World’s Largest Living Christmas Tree,”—a live oak believed to be 400 years old, between 75 and 100 feet tall (depending on where you measure) and 110 feet wide decorated with 450 colored lights—launched a Wilmington tradition that would span more than 80 years.

Wilmington’s living Christmas tree took root during the autumn of 1928 when James E. L. Wade, city commissioner of public works, staged a contest to select a favorite tree to be lighted.  Two school kids chose that live oak in Hilton Park, and each kid was awarded a five dollar gold coin.  From there, according to the Christmas Day edition of The Wilmington Morning Star, Wade “evolved the plan of a bigger community tree and attendant celebration than Wilmington had previously known.”

The Wilmington Morning Star Sunday edition published two days before Christmas noted that the extensive Christmas Eve program would include the singing of “thirteen beautiful carols,” and that the Atlantic Coast Line’s general office band would play many Christmas carols, too.  Also planned for the program was a “Biblical sketch” by Mrs. A. M. Alderman “depicting the life of Christ from manger to the cross” and the appearance of Santa to “distribute hundreds of bags of candy, fruit, and toys.”  WRBT would be broadcasting the entire program “providing officials of the broadcasting station have recovered from the influenza.”

Unfortunately, “Sickness among the city’s musically inclined and a light misting rain” curtailed the evening’s program at “the living community tree” to a reading of the nativity story by Mrs. Alderman, who “wore a robe of white satin.”  The newspaper reported that “sickness among members of the various choirs that were to have had a part in the exercises and the Atlantic Coast Line General office band, coupled with too damp weather caused postponement of that part of the program that included the singing of carols.”  Nonetheless, the wet weather “could not take the joy of the evening away from the hundreds of youngsters, boys and girls, who trudged to the end of Fourth street and every one of them received a stocking filled with candies, nuts, and fruit.”  Some of the evening’s events were to be reschedule during the week, and others were to be delayed until New Years night when, the article stated, “all Wilmington is asked to assemble there and pledge their faith in and efforts toward a bigger and finer and better Wilmington.”

Men and women singing Christmas carols in front of the "World's Largest Living Christmas Tree" in Hilton Park, Wilmington, NC. A very similar photograph appears in "The Duke Power Company Quiz" magazine advertisement in the 15 December 1951 issue of The State.

Men and women singing Christmas carols in front of the “World’s Largest Living Christmas Tree” in Hilton Park, Wilmington, NC. A very similar photograph appears in “The Duke Power Company Quiz” magazine advertisement in the 15 December 1951 issue of The State.

We don’t have any evidence that seven-year-old Hugh Morton was there for the first event, but he was often there during the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s.  Seven of his “World’s Largest Christmas Tree” scenes can be seen in the online collection, three of which are included in this blog post.

Here are a few quotes taken from the ‘Wilmington Outskirts’ section of Wilmington Through the Lens of Louis T. Moore by Susan Taylor Block that describe some of the early years of the living Christmas tree:

  • The Christmas Eve 1929 edition of The Morning Star reported that “Hugh MacRae’s Tide Water Power Company furnished all labor, most of the wiring and 750 light globes for the tree.”
  • “The moss in the tree, if it were carried away, would take three 2-ton trucks to do the work.”
  • “In 1930, the giant Hilton Christmas tree was declared ‘the most beautiful of its kind in the state and nation’ by the National Federation of Women’s Clubs.”
  • “On January 1, 1933, 5000 people gathered at the tree to hear ‘a program presented by African-American residents of the city.’ Participants from Williston High School Glee Club and St. Stephen’s, St. Luke’s and Central Baptist churches mesmerized the crowd; city fathers requested an encore performance the following evening.”
Portrait of Arthur Sandlin standing outdoors with arms full of Christmas lights, probably used or to be used for the purpose of adorning the "World's Largest Living Christmas Tree."

Portrait of Arthur Sandlin standing outdoors with arms full of Christmas lights, probably used or to be used for the purpose of adorning the “World’s Largest Living Christmas Tree.”

Susan Taylor Block was also there for the lighting ceremony often during the ‘50s and ‘60s. She recently shared some personal thoughts via email with me about how, as a little kid, she remembered the lighting ceremonies.

  • “People spoke softly or not at all – even in the parking areas which were distanced a bit.
  • “I think there was zero yelling or clapping. There was a reverence under the tree and around it.
  • “There was something happy and exhilarating about being there – but there also was a touch of something that made my hair stand on end, too.
  • “Every year, sometimes twice or 3 times, my father would drive my grandmother, mother, brother and me to see the Tree. . . Looking back again, I remember the glowing way the large Christmas lights lit portions of the hearty Spanish moss. Sometime carols playing softly in the background.
  • “For me, it was a private quiet religious experience that I cannot put into words. I have not experienced that exact feeling anywhere else…”

With the exception of the World War II years, Wilmington staged the tree-lighting event every year since 1928.  By 1959, it was reported that 150,000 people turned out for the ceremony.  From 42 states and 11 foreign countries they all came to marvel at the light show and to hear a 400 member choir.

By 1990, the old tree was supporting about 7,000 lights, using almost 4 miles of 12-gauge wire.  Eighty years of ice storms and the like took a tremendous toll on the old tree and the final lighting ceremony was held in 2009.  Amy Beatty, the superintendent of recreation and downtown services for the city of Wilmington, indicated several decisions prompted the tree’s retirement.  “The tree itself was ‘very compromised,’ with a number of branches toppled by storms.  Officials decided it could no longer support the light display.  Also, the rerouting of Martin Luther King Boulevard to connect with North Third Street and made the (neighboring) water plant difficult to reach.  Post 9/11 guidelines from the U. S. Department of Homeland Security outlining greater protection for water-treatment facilities added to the logistical difficulties.”  Susan Taylor Block added, “The tree itself was enormous and beautiful then.  The Hilton area had been well-known for its beautiful oaks.  Then the city put offices and a plant nearby – and the dominos began to slant. . . A new highway configuration now makes it difficult to even find where the tree used to be.”

Sadly, the old oak that was “The World’s Largest Living Christmas Tree” for more than eighty years was taken down in November 2015.  And though the live oak may be gone, it will always be remembered by those who saw it there . . . in that place . . . during this time of year . . . as a Christmas tree.

At season’s end, a win for Sunny Jim

As a kid growing up in the 1950s, Thanksgiving Day was always special.  In addition to my mom’s great cooking, my dad and I would always watch the Green Bay Packers play the Detroit Lions on CBS.  Thanksgiving 1959, however, was different: it was the first Thanksgiving since my dad had passed away in July of ’59, and there was another football game offered on TV—Carolina versus Duke on NBC.  My dad, UNC Class of ’34, would have loved it.  So today, fifty-eight years later, I would like to look back to Carolina’s 1959 season and a special Thanksgiving Day game.  —Jack Hilliard, UNC Class of 1963

Jim Hickey, probably during the spring of 1960.

Jim Hickey, probably during the spring of 1960.

The telephone rang shortly before 11:00 p.m. in the control room at WFMY-TV in Greensboro on Thursday, July 23, 1959. It was UNC Athletic Director Chuck Erickson calling anchorman Charlie Harville.  Harville rushed from the studio to take the call.  Erickson related the sad news that UNC Head Football Coach Jim Tatum had died about fifteen minutes earlier.  Harville got the details and ran back into the studio.  No time to prepare a script, he gave an emotional report about the passing of his dear friend.  The Tar Heel Nation was in shock.  My dad passed away two days later, on July 25th.

The UNC Athletic Council took only four days to select Tatum’s successor.  At 5:40 p.m. on July 27, 1959, Chancellor William B. Aycock with Athletic Director Charles (Chuck) Erickson at his side, made the announcement that Tatum assistant, 39-year-old James Benton Hickey would be the new Tar Heel coach with a three-year contract.  He would become known as Jim Hickey.  In accepting the position, Hickey told a large group of newsmen gathered at The Pines Restaurant in Chapel Hill, “I appreciate this opportunity. It is one I have always wanted. My only regret is the circumstances under which it had to come about.”

The 1959 UNC football season was fifty-three days away.  The Tar Heels would face nine tough opponents, leading up the forty-sixth meeting between rival Duke for a regular season-ending matchup in Duke Stadium scheduled for Saturday, November 21st.  On July 30th—three days after UNC’s coaching announcement—we got the news that NBC-TV had negotiated a $208,000 arrangement to play a national TV game on Thanksgiving Day, November 26th. The two schools had never played on Thanksgiving.

Carolina’s 1959 season officially got underway on Saturday, September 19th with a two-point home loss to Clemson 20-18. The following weekend came a second loss, this time to Notre Dame in South Bend 28-8.  At this point, Coach Hickey decided to change his game plan.  Up to this point he had followed the game strategy that Coach Tatum had put in place before his death.  Hickey’s plan worked; two home-game-wins followed with victories over NC State 20-12 and South Carolina 19-6.  A road game with Maryland was next.  The Heels played well at College Park, but couldn’t contain Maryland’s “jack-rabbit-backs.” The final score: Terrapins 14, Tar Heels 7.

Starting the second half of the season, Carolina traveled to Winston-Salem for a game with Wake Forest on October 24th. UNC’s quarterback Jack Cummings was able to complete only two passes, but Carolina’s running game was enough for a 21-19 win.  With four games remaining in the ’59 season, Carolina’s record was 3-3 on the year.

The next two games, at home against Tennessee and on the road at Miami, were disastrous for the Heels. Carolina scored a combined fourteen points against the two rivals in the two losses.  Next, Virginia came to Chapel Hill for the 64th meeting between the Tar Heels and the Cavaliers on November 14th.  On this day, Coach Hickey’s charges could do no wrong in handing Virginia its 17th consecutive defeat 41-0.  With photographer Hugh Morton shooting from the sidelines, a small Kenan Stadium crowd of 21,000 saw Carolina set an ACC and Kenan Stadium record of 583 yards of offense.  The win brought Carolina’s record to 4-5 on the season and set the stage for the annual game with Duke.

Duke and Carolina matched up well for their 46th meeting.  Against mutual opponents, Carolina did better against South Carolina than did Duke, but the Blue Devils were stronger against Wake.  Performances of both teams against State and Clemson were about the same.  Both teams had records were 4-5, but Duke was made a 4-to-6-point favorite.

‘Twas the night before Thanksgiving and all through Duke Stadium, thirty technicians scurried like mice to get everything ready for the coast-to-coast telecast—fifteen from NBC and fifteen from AT&T made the deadline.  All was ready to go by 8:00 p.m. on Thanksgiving Eve, eighteen hours before the scheduled 2:00 p.m. kickoff.

UNC versus Duke game day program, courtesy Jack Hilliard.

UNC versus Duke game day program, courtesy Jack Hilliard.

Thanksgiving Day 1959 dawned clear and mild.  In the broadcast booth for the telecast were play-by-play announcer Lindsey Nelson and color commentator Red Grange.  Since both Duke and Carolina students were on holiday, only 33,000 fans turned out for the game.

In his pregame locker room speech, Coach Hickey mentioned something for the first time during the ‘59 season.  He said: “Boys, if there was ever a game Coach Tatum would have wanted you to win, this is it.”

Duke won referee John Donahue’s coin toss and elected to receive.  The Tar Heels would kickoff and defend the south goal.  On the first series, Duke failed to gain a first down and punted to the Carolina 44-yard line.  Carolina moved down the field and scored with seven minutes left in the quarter.  Duke, on its second series, fumbled and Carolina recovered at the Duke 22-yard line.  Again, the Tar Heels couldn’t be stopped; they scored at the 4:55 mark and led 14-0 at the end of the first quarter.

Early in the second quarter, Duke got to the Carolina 11-yard line, but two dropped passes prevented a score.  Carolina took over and marched to a third touchdown to lead 21- 0 at the 13:15 mark of the second quarter.  There seemed to be a pattern forming: Duke couldn’t score and Carolina could.  With 2:55 left in the second quarter the score was 28-0 and would remain so at halftime.

Duke’s Art Browning kicked off to start the second half.  Tar Heel Don Klochak received the ball at the Carolina 7-yard line and he was off to the races for 93 yards.  Carolina led 35-0 with 14:15 left in the third quarter.  The trend continued: another Duke fumble led to another Carolina score at the 2:40 mark in the third making the score 42-0.

With 7:05 left in the game, Tar Heel George Knox, a fullback that Carolina’s Alumni Review called “fifth-string” raced 32-yards down the right sideline for Carolina’s final touchdown. With that TD, the score was 48-0, and Coach Hickey could hear the Tar Heel crowd chanting: “Hickey, go for fifty!” Coach got the message.  Second string quarterback Ray Ferris ran off right tackle for the two points making the score 50-0. It was about two minutes later that Coach Hickey made his famous quote, when one of his players congratulated him on a win.  Coach said, “It isn’t over yet, boys.”

With twenty seconds left in the game and Carolina’s fourth and fifth stringers at the Duke four, Coach Hickey called a timeout. He then sent his eleven seniors back on the field with strict instructions, “Do not score!”  Quarterback Jack Cummings then took the snap, leaned into the line, went down easily, and the clock ran out.

Hugh Morton's post-game photograph as it appeared in the Charlotte News on November 17, 1959. The original negative has not been located in the Morton collection.

Hugh Morton’s post-game photograph as it appeared in the Charlotte News on November 17, 1959. The original negative has not been located in the Morton collection.

The Carolina players rode Coach Hickey on their shoulders to midfield.  Photographer Hugh Morton’s shot of the scene in The Charlotte News (above) is classic.  He had photographed a similar scene many times before with names like Justice, Snavely, and Morris.  Now add Hickey to the list.

When the group arrived at midfield, Duke Head Coach Bill Murray was not in a friendly mood. “You really wanted that last touchdown bad, didn’t you,” Murray snapped, “putting that first bunch back in there.”

“Coach, you’ve got it all wrong,” said Hickey. “I sent my seniors back in there and told them not to score.  . . . I just wanted the seniors to finish their careers on the field.”  The two coaches then shook hands, and Murray turned and walked off the field.  He would later phone Coach Hickey and congratulated him on the win.

A game with a win like this prompted tons of ink and airtime.  The headline in The Daily Tar Heel on December 1st, when the Thanksgiving break was over and the DTH presses began rolling again, said it all in a huge above-the-heading headline: “50–0.”

As is always the case, the Duke–Carolina game brings out special guests, and the ’59 game was no exception.  Peahead Walker, Red O’Quinn and NCAA District 3 Director Jim Corbett were there, among others.  Sis Barrier, wife of Greensboro Daily News Executive Sports Editor Smith Barrier, in a society-type column about the game said, “Hugh Morton, who drove up from Wilmington with two of the boys—and left Julia at home by the TV set, was as happy as anybody.”

About fifteen minutes after the game ended, Coach Hickey was doing his post-game press conference when he was interrupted by a man wearing a Jim Tatum-type hat.  There were tears in his eyes as he said: “I just had to come down and congratulate you, Coach Hickey, for this wonderful victory.  I’m getting tired of all the criticism of you and this should silence them.  And I appreciate it more than you know, for I’m sure this one was won for Jim.”

The man, who then silently made his way back into the crowd, was Dick Tatum of McColl, South Carolina, big brother of the beloved Carolina coach.  Hickey then added: “Yes, I think you can say they won it for Coach Tatum, and why not?  He’s the greatest guy I ever worked for.”

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.”

The Heels vs. The Irish: A dominating past

Cover of the 1960 UNC versus Notre Dame football game program, from the author's collection.

Cover of the 1960 UNC versus Notre Dame football game program, from the author’s collection.

On Saturday, October 7, 2017, a very special event will take place in UNC’s Kenan Memorial Stadium. The Tar Heels will meet the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame. The game will mark the seventh meeting between the two in Kenan and the twentieth meeting overall. While the Irish have dominated the series, a Carolina–Notre Dame game will always be something special. Morton collection volunteer/contributor Jack Hilliard takes a look at some storied past meetings between these two great universities.

The love that people have for Notre Dame can’t be explained.

—Lou Holtz, Notre Dame head football coach 1986- 1996.

Growing up in North Carolina during the late 1940s and early 1950s, football Saturdays were special. There was Duke and State and Wake and Carolina, and we followed their every game.  But there was always news in the papers and on the radio about Notre Dame; they seemed to always be a step ahead of our “Big Four.”  Maybe it was because they seemed to always win. (Following a loss on December 1, 1945 to Great Lakes Navy, the Fighting Irish didn’t lose again until Purdue beat them on October 7, 1950.)

So it’s easy to imagine our excitement when we heard that Notre Dame would play Carolina on November 12th, 1949 in New York’s Yankee Stadium.  In three previous blog posts, we have recounted that game on A View to Hugh and sister blog North Carolina Miscellany:

In those posts we noted Hugh Morton’s classic images from that day, even though it turned out to be the worst loss the Tar Heels would suffer during the “Charlie Justice Era.”  The reason for the disaster was likely that Justice wasn’t able to play due to an injury he suffered the week before the big game in the Big Apple.  But even without Justice, the game was special. The Daily Tar Heel published two air editions and flew them to New York. The headline in that first edition will always be remembered by Tar Heels who made the trip:

“Notre Dame And N.C. Tied 6-6 At Half.”

The second meeting between the two came less than a year later on September 30, 1950. . . . this time in South Bend, Indiana.  This game will forever be remembered, not for Notre Dame’s 14 to 7 win, but the fact that it was the first live network television program of any kind ever transmitted into North Carolina.  The ’49 game in NYC had been televised, but the signal did not reach North Carolina.  But on this day, WBTV in Charlotte and WFMY-TV in Greensboro carried the game live across the Tar Heel state via the Dumont Television Network.  The Greensboro Daily News reported that the estimated viewership in North Carolina was 200,000—nationwide it was 35 million.

Hugh Morton didn’t make the trip to South Bend in 1950, but was on hand back in Chapel Hill when the Irish made their first trip to Kenan on November 17, 1951.  Editor’s note: most of Hugh Morton’s football negatives from the 1950s and 1960s are not identified, but Morton’s game credential survives.  As negatives are identified in the future, we will add a selection of them to this post.

Carolina Sports Information Director Jake Wade, writing in the ’51 game day program called Notre Dame “the mighty and fabulous men from Indiana.”  A full house of 44,500 football fans sat in cold, clear weather “amid Chapel Hill’s wonderland of fall colors,” as The Alumni Review reported. Those fans saw the Tar Heels put on a fourth quarter drive which fell three yards short of victory. Connie Gravitt’s fourth down pass into the end zone was batted down by Notre Dame’s Gene Carrabine, preserving the 12-to-7 Irish victory.

On October 25, 1952 head coach Carl Snavely and his Tar Heels returned to Notre Dame Stadium for the fourth meeting between the Heels and the Irish. 54,338 fans (most of them dressed in green and gold) saw a 7-to-7 tie at the end of the first quarter, but the Heels eventual fell 34 to 14.

Notre Dame head football coach Frank Leahy.

Notre Dame head football coach Frank Leahy.

When Notre Dame returned to Chapel Hill on November 14, 1953 for its second visit, Carl Snavely had moved on and the Heels were coached by George Barclay.  When this one ended, that familiar 34-to-14 score appeared on the scoreboard.  The 1953 game would be Notre Dame’s College Football Hall of Fame coach Frank Leahy’s fifth and final win against the Tar Heels.  At this point in the series, the two teams had met on five occasions with the Irish winning all five. Two games in Chapel Hill, two games in South Bend, and one in New York—with a total audience of 265,000.

The Charlotte News published this photograph tightly cropped on the runner and soon-to-be tackler with the caption, 'KEN KELLER . . . gains 12 for UNC against Notre Dame (Hugh Morton Photo.)"

The Charlotte News published this photograph tightly cropped on the runner and soon-to-be tackler with the caption, ‘KEN KELLER . . . gains 12 for UNC against Notre Dame (Hugh Morton Photo.)”

The week before the 1954 game, Notre Dame was made a 26-point favorite and when it ended they had a 29-point victory, 42 to 13.  The game on November 12, 1955 in Kenan Stadium is often compared to that first meeting between the Heels and the Irish played in New York.  The ’55 game was tied at half 7 to 7, but Notre Dame dominated the second half to win the game 27 to 7. Seated among the 33,000 in Kenan that afternoon was Tar Heel football legend Charlie Justice with his son Ronnie, and on the sideline in his usual spot was photographer Hugh Morton.

Another Morton photograph, cropped on the runner and two pursuers, published by The Charlotte News, and captioned "WHILE THE MOMENTS WERE STILL GLORIOUS North Carolina's Ed Sutton gains 11 yards to the Notre Dame six-yard line in the second quarter before being hauled down by Paul Nornung (5) closing in." Fans of the era will quickly recognize that typo because he is Paul Hornung, the 1956 Heisman Trophy winner and later NFL Hall of Fame star for the Green Bay Packers.

Another Morton photograph, cropped on the runner and two Notre pursuers, published by The Charlotte News with the caption, “WHILE THE MOMENTS WERE STILL GLORIOUS North Carolina’s Ed Sutton gains 11 yards to the Notre Dame six-yard line in the second quarter before being hauled down by Paul Nornung (5) closing in.” Fans of the era will quickly recognize that typo because he is Paul Hornung, the 1956 Heisman Trophy winner and later NFL Hall of Fame star for the Green Bay Packers.

The game on November 17, 1956 back in South Bend marked the end of the first series of contracted games between Carolina and Notre Dame, and the first game under new Tar Heel head coach Jim Tatum.  56,793 fans saw a thriller as the game was tied with seventy-seven seconds to play, but Notre Dame took the lead as 1956 Heisman Trophy winner Paul Hornung scored the winning touchdown.  Notre Dame’s eighth win made the series look like an all-Irish sweepstakes with an aggregate attendance of more than 410,000.

In 1958, the series returned with two more games in South Bend and two more Irish wins: 34 to 24 in ’58 and 28 to 8 in ’59.  In that game on September 26, 1959, Nortre Dame held Carolina, under new head coach Jim Hickey, scoreless for three quarters.

Coming into Chapel Hill on October 8, 1960, Notre Dame had won all ten of the previous meetings, but on this day things were about to change. Homecoming in Chapel Hill is always fun, but on this day it was more fun than usual, as coed Jane Allen from Lambert, Mississippi was crowned Homecoming Queen, to the delight of 41,000 fans, mostly Tar Heels. The cheering crowd saw Carolina lead Notre Dame 12 to 0 well into the fourth quarter, thanks to the efforts of junior-quarterback Ray Ferris, who completed 6 passes for 115 yards and a first quarter TD pass to Skip Clement. Notre Dame completed 8 passes of 32 attempts and the Heels interested 5 of them.  With the score 12 to 7, the final gun sounded and coach Jim Hickey got a ride on the shoulders of his team to midfield for a handshake with Notre Dame head coach Joe Kuharich.

In his post game interview, coach Hickey was asked how it felt to be the only UNC head coach to beat a Notre Dame team.  “It would feel good to beat them anytime, anywhere,” Hickey said with a wide grin.

Fifteen seasons would pass before Notre Dame returned to Chapel Hill.  During that span the two teams would meet four times in South Bend, ’62, ’65, ’66, and ’71—and Carolina would have only seven points to show for all four efforts: a 21-to-7 loss on November 17, 1962, while Notre Dame tallied three straight shutouts in ’65, ’66, and ’71.

Notre Dame’s return to Chapel Hill on October 11, 1975 proved to be one of the most exciting games of the series. After a scoreless first half, the Tar Heels took the lead at the 10:03 mark of the third quarter on Mike Voight’s 12-yard run. On their next possession, Quarterback Billy Paschall hit Mel Collins with a 39-yard touchdown pass to make the lead 14 to 0, and that lead continued well into the final quarter. With six minutes left in the game, Notre Dame head coach Dan Devine called on his second string quarterback . . . a fellow named Joe Montana, who led the Irish on two quick scoring drives to tie the score at fourteen.  Then with less than two minutes to play, Carolina had an opportunity to take the lead, but missed its third field goal of the day and the Irish took over at their own 20 yard line.  On second down, Montana hit Tom Burgmeier on a spectacular 80-yard scoring play that spelled defeat for the Tar Heels.

In the Carolina locker room following the game, UNC head coach Bill Dooley said, “To have a team like Notre Dame down 14 to 0 in the fourth quarter and then lose is really tough.”  Notre Dame coach Dan Devine called it his “best win ever.”

During the 1975 season, the Tar Heel Sports Network invited former players to be game analysts to assist play-by-play Hall of Fame broadcaster Woody Durham.  For the ’75 Notre Dame game the guest was UNC All-America end Art Weiner, who played a key role in the first meeting between the Heels and the Irish back in 1949.

Thirty-one years would pass before Carolina and Notre Dame would meet again.  On November 4, 2006 it was yet another blowout Irish victory, this time, 45 to 26.  Two years later, Notre Dame would make its most recent visit to Kenan on October 11, 2008.  Carolina’s 29-to-24 win has one of those dreaded asterisks in the record book.  An NCAA ruling in 2011 vacated that win.  Six years later to the day, on October 11, 2014, Carolina made its most recent visit to South Bend.  Alas, the Heels came away with yet another loss, this time 50 to 43 in a game that set a total points record for the series.

So, on Saturday, October 7th, head coach Larry Fedora’s Tar Heels will try once again to take down the Fighting Irish, but win or lose, there will be a certain excitement in the air in Kenan Memorial Stadium.  Saturday’s game will also be featured on ABC/ESPN, with the opening kickoff scheduled for 3:30.  After the game it will be five more years until Carolina and Notre Dame are next scheduled to play in South Bend in 2021, with a return match in Chapel Hill in 2022.

Photographs by Hugh Morton: An Uncommon Retrospective on exhibit in Wilmington

MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR HOLOCAUST — The costliest fire in Wilmington's history—the Great Fire of Sunday, Feb. 21, 1886, devastated an estimated $1 million in property—was variously estimated last night to have consumed, in flames and smoke, from $10 to $30 millions worth of property. [sic] The fire started at 8:55 A.M. By 10 A.M., when this picture was made from a plane, smoke billowed thousands of feet into the air and could be seen from at least 25 miles away. The ship in the foreground is the Norwegian freighter Max Manus, which was towed from the docks when the fire started. . . . Photo by Morton.

This dramatic photograph of the 1953 Wilmington Terminal Company fire is one of more than eighty photographs by Hugh Morton now on exhibition at the Cape Fear Museum in Wilmington, North Carolina.

Ever since the debut in September 2013 of the Hugh Morton retrospective at the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts at Appalachian State University in Boone near Grandfather Mountain, it has been a burning desire of mine to have the exhibition on display in Wilmington, North Carolina—Hugh Morton’s hometown.  I am happy to say that the exhibition is now open at the Cape Fear Museum in Wilmington though September of next year.  This is the exhibition’s seventh installation in four years, a true testimony to the wide appeal of Hugh Morton’s photography.  Have you seen the exhibition, either in Wilmington or a previous venue?  If so, please let us know in a comment below if you have a favorite photograph in the show—and why!