“Billy Graham may have paved the way for rock concerts at Ericsson [now Bank of America] Stadium.
“After dismantling equipment for Graham’s Carolinas crusade, officials found the field in good condition, alleviating a major concern about holding nonfootball events at the stadium….
“For organizers, the extra time and money it took to convert Ericsson was well worth it….In three offerings the crusade brought in more than $800,000, and 305,400 people attended the four-day crusade.”
— From “Stadium held up well under crusade” by Ky Henderson in the Charlotte Observer (Oct. 1, 1996)
When Elvis died — Aug. 16, 1977 — the Charlotte Observer wasn’t prepared for the enormous demand for single copies. (We weren’t the only ones.)
A year later, however, the Observer and the afternoon Charlotte News had days of commemorative coverage lined up, as these two rack cards illustrate.
“[During World War II] the Charlotte Observer took up the hunt for un-American activities, claiming that over 2,000 subversives were present in the area and arguing that the U.S. Constitution did not protect anyone accused of Communist or Nazi sympathies. The paper chastised those who complained about FBI investigations as more concerned with civil liberties than with victory….
“The bureau examined a number of cases, including the rumor of a Nazi spy ring in Salisbury, and found no saboteurs….”
— From “Home Front: North Carolina during World War II” by Julian M. Pleasants (2017)
“Sgt. John Dwyer, who was not listening to the radio, was on the desk at the Charlotte Police Department that Sunday night. He became aware of the hysteria when a woman walked in, an infant in one arm, a Bible in the other and a trembling boy clutching at her dress. She asked for protection from Martians.
“ ‘Sgt. Dwyer admitted that it was the strangest request the department had ever had,’ The Charlotte Observer reported the next morning beneath the banner headline: ‘Thousands Terrified By Mock-War Broadcast.’ He did his best to assure her all was well and sent her home.
“She was but the vanguard of Charlotteans who would be appealing to police that night, most of them by phone.
“At the Observer, calls poured in seeking information on the invaders’ advance. After answering 100, those on duty lost track of the number.
“ ‘Many of them refused to believe that what they heard was a play,’ the paper said. ‘Others seemed panic stricken.’ ”
— From “Remembering the night WBT dominated the scarewaves” by Mark Washburn in the Charlotte Observer (Oct. 30, 2013)
“My grandfather ate the Charlotte Observer. Regularly. The entire paper. I’m not making this up….”
— From “Here’s one way to eat newsprint” by Walter Dellinger (letter to the editor of the Washington Post, April 8)
h/t Michael Hill
“President Truman’s frequent blasts at the editorial pages of U.S. newspapers have not overly concerned us. If a majority of U.S. newspapers have backed the Republican Party candidates in recent Presidential elections, it does not follow that (1) they are wrong, or (2) they are dishonest….
“But there is another aspect to the ‘one-party press,’ as Governor Stevenson has dubbed it, that cannot be passed over lightly. This is the tendency of some newspapers to give emphasis in their news columns in accordance with their editorial viewpoints.
“This newspaper has very stringent standards for reporting political campaigns, and every person who handles the news is under positive instructions to give the opposing parties and candidates an absolutely even break in the news columns….”
— From “One-Party Press Dangerous” in the Charlotte News (Oct. 14, 1952)
This editorial may have been targeting the rival Charlotte Observer, which endorsed Dwight Eisenhower over Stevenson. I found it reprinted on the backside of a flyer promoting a speech at the Armory Auditorium by Truman’s vice president, Alben Barkley.
A Charlotte News headline writer had played a small part in the 1948 presidential election, coining a catchy but unwelcome nickname for the States’ Rights Democrats.
On this day in 1911: The Glidden Tour, a cross-country caravan promoting the automobile, approaches North Carolina from Virginia, where residents have complained about their dogs being run over. The Charlotte Observer, however, doesn’t hesitate to roll out the welcome mat:
“Roaming dogs are not held in high esteem in this community. . . . Speed up and enjoy yourselves. . . . “
“In later years — probably to burnish his image as a hero and spokesman for his sport — [Ty Cobb] and his boosters went out of their way to note that his early encounters with the Negro race were either inconsequential or benign. A 1909 editorial in the Charlotte Observer said, ‘Cobb, born with the prominence that is universal among white persons in Georgia, sought no further prominence by buckshotting his compatriots. So far as is known, he never attended a lynching.’
“Faint praise indeed, but baseball was just as racist as the rest of society…..”
— From “Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty” by Charles Leerhsen (2015)
“….And offend [Doug Marlette] did. In 2002, when he drew a cartoon showing a man in Arab headdress driving a Ryder rental truck hauling a nuclear missile — under the caption ‘What Would Mohammed Drive? — he set off a campaign orchestrated by the Council on American-Islamic Relations; he and the newspaper received more than 20,000 e-mail messages from people who accused him of bigotry and blasphemy and some who included death threats.
“Writing about the incident in The Tallahassee Democrat, where Mr. Marlette was then on staff, he said: ‘In my 30-year career I have regularly drawn cartoons that offend religious fundamentalists and true believers of every stripe, a fact that I tend to list in the “accomplishments” column of my résumé. I have outraged fundamentalist Christians by skewering Jerry Falwell, Roman Catholics by needling the pope, and Jews by criticizing Israel. I have vast experience upsetting people with my art.”
— From “Doug Marlette, Cartoonist Who Won the Pulitzer Prize, Dies at 57” by Motoko Rich in the New York Times (July 11, 2007)
Marlette, a Greensboro native, last lived in Hillsborough. His 1988 Pulitzer recognized cartoons he had drawn about PTL at the Charlotte Observer.
On this day in 1908: Greensboro opens a week of centennial festivities, including a re-enactment of the Battle of Guilford Courthouse, a parade of Confederate veterans and the dedication of the 20,000-seat Hippodrome Auditorium. (The corrugated iron building, purchased from the Jamestown Exposition of 1907, is billed as second only to Madison Square Garden in seating capacity.)
The Charlotte Observer reports favorably on “the generosity shown by the Greensboro white people to the negroes in their midst. At the fair the darky has been given a show and in the auditorium a section. This broad-minded way of dealing with the negro caused favorable comment by visitors.”