What? The sky wasn’t always Carolina blue?

Those industrious elves at Google Books Ngram Viewer must never sleep! Here are their latest offerings for North Carolinians’ provocation and speculation:

Carolina blue was adopted on campus about 1800, but the rest of the world seems to have taken a while to catch on.

— Jimmie Johnson vs. Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt and Jeff Gordon. Maybe if he wins six consecutive championships….

— Great Dismal Swamp vs. Okefenokee Swamp. The 1980s spike coincides with an environmental conflict over the Okefenokee.

— chitterlings vs. chitlins. Of course, when the Ngram measures not American usage but British….

— Don Knotts vs. Barney Fife surprised me — but now that the actor is dead, the immortal deputy is closing fast.

3 thoughts on “What? The sky wasn’t always Carolina blue?”

  1. Carolina’s Blue wasn’t always “Carolina Blue.” Earlier this football season, Carolina dressed out in dark blue pants, causing many Tar Heel faithful to do a double take. Those fans were obviously young Tar Heels, because old timers will remember a time during World War II and for two seasons after when Carolina wore a dark Navy blue. The reason: the light blue dye was just not available…something to do with the War effort. I remember hearing Charlie Justice say in a 1973 interview that Coach Carl Snavely wanted to go to the light (Carolina) blue jerseys in 1946 and 1947 but was forced to continue wearing the dark blue.

    There are some Tar Heels alumni who even partially “blame” the dark jerseys for that 1947 loss to Texas in Austin. The extreme Texas heat on October 4, 1947 was a real problem for the Tar Heels and the dark clothing didn’t help. I’m sure Longhorn fans would not buy into the argument because Texas was led by great stars Bobby Layne and Tom Landry. Layne and Landry would go on to fill pages in the NFL record book.

  2. Thanks as always, Jack. Shades of “Lucky Strike Green has gone to war”! There are a couple of dark blue UNC pinbacks in the collection. I had assumed they had just been carelessly produced — would be interesting to know if they coincided with the era of dark blue jerseys.

  3. Great question, Lew. The answer is yes. I am familiar with a one-and-a-half-inch pinback with white background and dark blue letters superimposed over a Sugar Bowl Trophy that reads: “Sugar Bowl Classic North Carolina New Orleans 1947.”

    However, there is also a 2-inch pinback with light blue background and white letters from the 1947 Sugar Bowl that reads: “Let’s Go Carolina Beat Georgia 1947 Sugar Bowl.” There is one of these on display in the Charlie Justice Hall of Honor on the first floor of the Kenan Football Center.

    Same can be said for Carolina pennants from the era. I am familiar with 4 dark blue pennants, three of which are from the 1947 Sugar Bowl.

    However, there is at least one light blue pennant from the ’47 Sugar Bowl.

    Also, the front covers of the 1946 and 1947 football media guides are dark blue.

    Finally, in 1996, when UNC was celebrating the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the Charlie Justice Era, a 1947 Hugh Morton photo of Justice was used on the front cover of ’96 media guide. The black and white photo was tinted in navy blue.

    Interesting stuff.

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