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The University of North Carolina Press
Hugh Morton's North Carolina / Edition 1

Hugh Morton's North Carolina / Edition 1

by Hugh Morton


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Hugh Morton has had a long and active public life as an environmentalist, developer, and promoter of tourism. His favorite role, however, is that of news photographer. Hugh Morton's North Carolina gathers hundreds of photographs from his sixty-year career, including unpublished images from his personal collection and many well-known images of the state's people and places.

The collection is divided into three sections. "Scenes" ranges from the coast to the mountains, including many of Morton's famous images of wildflowers, wildlife, and state landmarks. "People and Events" features state and national politicians, educators, business professionals, and media figures. The "Sports" section reflects Morton's passion for athletics, with a particular focus on college basketball and football. Informative captions throughout the book provide background on the people and places pictured as well as Morton's reflections on the moments he captured on film.

As this collection reveals, Hugh Morton was on the scene for some of the most important events in the history of twentieth-century North Carolina, and he always carried his camera with him. Lovers of North Carolina, both local and distant, will all enjoy this richly personal state portrait.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780807828328
Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date: 09/22/2003
Edition description: 1
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 1,148,281
Product dimensions: 8.00(w) x 10.00(h) x 0.86(d)

About the Author

Hugh Morton (1921-2006) was president of Grandfather Mountain and received numerous awards for his public service, conservation efforts, and journalistic contributions to his native state of North Carolina. He was a 2003 recipient of the John Tyler Caldwell Award for the Humanities, the highest honor given by the North Carolina Humanities Council. His photographs have appeared in numerous magazines, including The Saturday Evening Post, Collier's, Time, Newsweek, and Sports Illustrated, and hang in nearly every visitor center along North Carolina's highways. His well-known photograph of the Blue Ridge Parkway Viaduct appears on the cover of Rand McNally's 2000 Road Atlas of the United States, Canada, and Mexico.

Read an Excerpt

Hugh Morton's North Carolina

By Hugh Morton

The University of North Carolina Press

Copyright © 2003 University of North Carolina Press
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-8078-2832-8


My parents gave me my first somewhat primitive camera when I was thirteen and a camper at Camp Yonahnoka in the mountains near Linville. Little did I know then, when I took the camp's photography course in 1934, that photography would become the principal means for expressing my thoughts and fostering my interests for the rest of my life. I had no inkling then of the interesting people and events I would eventually cover, or the host of loyal friends that photography would help me make.

The counselor for photography did not return to camp in summer 1935, and I was notified during the winter that at age fourteen, as a junior counselor, I would be in charge of photography. That sudden responsibility required that I quickly learn everything I could to prepare for teaching young campers to expose, develop, and print their own pictures. My being made the instructor really forced me to learn more about photography, and also it was exciting to see younger campers learning from my instruction. No question, that pushed me deep into photography.

The summertime job as photography counselor at Yonahnoka continued for five more years. 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 in Chapel Hill.

My first published picture for a UNC student publication was of Dr. Frank Porter Graham pitching horseshoes, used on the cover of Carolina Magazine. That brought me the opportunity to be on the photo staffs of the Daily Tar Heel, Yackety Yack, and The Buccaneer and its successor, Tar & Feathers. Orville Campbell, Ed Rankin, Bill Snider, Louis Harris, and Walter Klein were among the friends I made while working on student publications, and those associations have continued long after college. In addition to working for student publications, I was kept very busy shooting pictures of the university for Colonel Robert W. Madry, director of the University News Bureau (and also the elected mayor of Chapel Hill).

A good part of the freelance newspaper photo work that came my way during and after college was for the sports department of the Charlotte News. Through the years that I worked for the paper, it had an amazing sports staff that included-in addition to now-famous historian Burke Davis-Ray Howe, Furman Bisher, Bob Quincy, Ronald Green, Sandy Grady, and Max Muhleman. On the news side, the paper employed people like Julian Scheer, Charles Kuralt, Pete McKnight, and Tom Fesperman. I was all ears every time I was around any of them. It was obvious that each was already a talented journalist and that every one of them wanted to be better. I also gained valuable experience freelancing for John Derr and Smith Barrier at the Greensboro Daily News, Dick Herbert at the Raleigh News and Observer, Frank Spencer at the Winston-Salem Journal, Carlton Byrd at the Winston-Salem Sentinel, and Jake Wade at the Charlotte Observer.

The Unites States entered World War II in December 1941. It was apparent that I would soon be in the military, and I wanted it to be in photography. By enlisting, rather than waiting to be drafted, I had a better chance of receiving my preferred assignment. After I enlisted in October 1942, my first posting following Basic Training was in the photolab at the U.S. Army Anti-Aircraft School at Camp Davis, North Carolina, not far from home at Wilmington. Those of us working in the lab not only did photography for U.S. anti-aircraft artillery training manuals, but also did work for anti-aircraft units from Great Britain that were training at Camp Davis. It gave me great satisfaction to know that I was really contributing something to the war effort.

To that point in my life, I had always been a still photographer. That was soon to change, however. When I arrived on New Caledonia in the South Pacific to report to the U.S. Army 161st Signal Corps Photo Company, I learned that one of the combat newsreel photographers for that unit had been killed at Bougainville the previous day. The captain to whom I reported said, "Morton, you look like a movie man," and from that point I did my shooting with a movie camera. After briefly being sent to Guadalcanal and Bougainville, I had the pleasure of accompanying Bob Hope, Frances Langford, and Jerry Colonna as they entertained Army and Navy personnel at installations on New Caledonia.

The 25th Infantry Division was staging on New Caledonia for the invasion of Luzon in the Philippines, and I was made a member of a four-man photo team assigned to the 25th Division. Fighting was pretty fierce when we went ashore on Luzon. I shot hundreds of feet of movie footage that was shipped directly back to Washington before I was even given a chance to view it. Weeks later, however, reports came back from Washington on the amount of usable footage made by each cameraman, and I was pleased to learn I had a very high percentage of good footage.

In March 1945 I was assigned to cover General Douglas MacArthur when he inspected the fighting by the 25th Division. The war ended on a low note for me personally, however. I was wounded a few days after the MacArthur visit, and later that same day a fellow photographer sat on the edge of my field hospital canvas cot and read me a letter from my mother saying that my father had died unexpectedly of a heart attack. I idolized my father, and losing him, especially on the day that I was wounded, was the low point of my life.

June 30, 1945, the date of my honorable discharge from the Army, is one I will not forget. I imagine every veteran can remember the date of his or her release. I returned to North Carolina, free to work in earnest to photograph the many people and subjects that interested me in our state. North Carolina was at that time flooded with homebound veterans, and when I married Julia Taylor in Greensboro in December 1945, almost all of our groomsmen had served in the military. Returning servicemen came back with a great deal of experience, maturity, and discipline, ready to get to work and put their lives back together.

The arrival of Charlie Justice, also back home from military service, brought great excitement to Carolina football and me and a crowd of other photographers on the Kenan Stadium sidelines. At N.C. State, Coach Everett Case arrived in 1947 from Indiana to introduce big-time college basketball to the Land of the Longleaf Pine. In the next few years I would get more involved with tourism-this was the time North Carolina took as its slogan "Variety Vacationland"-and have many opportunities to appreciate the state's great natural beauties. It was a great time to be a photographer in North Carolina.

If I were asked to finger the one person who most whetted my interest for making pictures of and for the state, it would have to be Bill Sharpe. He was the head of the North Carolina travel and tourism program, and no person has done it better. Sharpe was an excellent writer and a down-to-earth storyteller and charmer who truly loved our state. And he stayed in touch with the best news photographers at the national level, as well as those within the state. Sharpe worked with Richard Tufts to bring Johnny Hemmer, a topnotch cameraman from the New York Daily News, to work summers for North Carolina and winters for the resort of Pinehurst at a time when neither could have afforded Hemmer year-round. Hemmer was a close friend of another Daily News cameraman, Joe Costa, president of the National Press Photographers Association, who had the same standing with news photographers that Babe Ruth had with baseball players. The contacts with Hemmer and Costa led to our Carolinas Press Photographers Association establishing the Southern Short Course in News Photography, which helped upgrade the quality of news photography in the region considerably. My own photography noticeably improved, and the same could be said for that of others who learned from first-class speakers from Life Magazine, National Geographic, and other leading publications.

The many good news photographers that I know study each situation carefully, not just for the best angle, lighting, and peak action, but also for how the image will convey the main message of the story. Sometimes the cameraman has to know more about the subject of the picture than does the editor or reporter who asked that the picture be taken. So working as a news photographer broadened my horizons in a number of ways. It added greatly to my education, and it certainly helped build my circle of friends.

Photography led to other types of on-the-job-training. I learned a great deal from fine leaders like Governor Luther Hodges and Governor Terry Sanford, whom I photographed and with whom I worked on several projects. Hodges was a stickler for being on time, for absolutely avoiding conflicts of interest, and for telling the truth even if it might be hurtful to one's own interests. He kept a level head in tense times, as when he made certain no North Carolina schoolchild missed a day of class as a consequence of the Supreme Court decision on integration, while other states, which lacked that brand of leadership, closed schools. Sanford showed real courage in promoting a food tax that was needed for education even though that decision haunted him politically throughout his career. Both men were hard workers who measured every issue and every project with a strict test. It was not "What is best for me politically?" but "What is best for the state?"

My first photography jobs were in sports photography, as I noted above, and that area, too, provided me with lessons for living. The importance of sportsmanship is probably the most valuable lesson one can learn from athletic competition, even surpassing the need for competitiveness itself. The rogues and bums in sports sometimes sell more tickets, but the true heroes in the public eye carry themselves well, and above all they are good sports in their deeds and in their statements. Teamwork, competitive spirit, dedication, and loyalty-you see all of that in sports, and as a sports photographer you are privileged to see it up close and personal. I feel very fortunate, for example, to have been able to observe the devotion Dean Smith continues to show to his former players and the reciprocal loyalty the players have for the coach. This has been an inspiration for me.

My friend since childhood, Rye Page Jr., became publisher of the Wilmington Star-News soon after World War II. His strong support of two projects in which I became involved, the Azalea Festival and saving the battleship North Carolina, was vital to their success. As one might guess, we leaned heavily on photography. The Azalea Festival was originally the idea of Dr. W. Houston Moore. There were more than a million azaleas total in the gardens of Greenfield Park, Orton Plantation, and Airlie Gardens in 1948 when Dr. Moore nudged the community into celebrating the beauty of those great displays; the people of Wilmington embraced the idea behind the festival, and it is anyone's guess how many millions of azaleas are in the region now. One of my fellow Jaycees, Jimmy Craig, originated the idea that the state should save the USS North Carolina from being scrapped, and it is now established as a fitting memorial to the 10,000 North Carolinians who died in World War II.

Along the way in the past twenty years I was sometimes afraid I was spending too much time trying to increase public awareness of the damage air pollution is doing to our forests, streams, and particularly human health. Today it is gratifying that there is widespread understanding of the problem, as was demonstrated by the resounding margin in both houses of the North Carolina General Assembly for passage of the Clean Smokestacks Bill in June 2002. The other half of the job is to persuade neighboring states to enact similar legislation. We know the air pollution from upwind that is crossing our borders from elsewhere is a significant challenge. There is still work to do, and photography can be an important medium for telling the story that must be told.

Going through literally thousands of prints and negatives to choose the images to be collected in this book has afforded me the opportunity to reconnect with some old friends and to remember how fortunate I am to have lived my life in this state and to have been here to record some of the personalities and events that have made this such a remarkable time in our state's history. It has also been a great deal of fun. If you are reminded that North Carolina is a marvelous, interesting place, that will add immensely to the pleasure photography has given me.

The best photographers that I know are ones who know how to work with other people. I see this time and time again, and I believe that some of my best photographs benefited from help of one kind or another from others. I know for certain that this applies to publishing books as well. This book would never have happened were it not for several very kind friends.

Journalist-historian Howard Covington originated the idea for this book. My photography is a mixture of people, sports, politics, events, scenics, and wildlife, and I was not convinced that such a diverse collection would be successful. A stubborn Covington challenged my argument, however, by enlisting the help of Dr. William Friday. Covington knew that I consider Bill Friday the most respected person in North Carolina. Not only did Dr. Friday endorse the idea of the book, the clincher for me was his agreement to help select the pictures the book would include.

When Tom Kenan heard about the work in progress on the book, his reaction was that the book he had not seen, that nobody had yet seen, belonged in every high school library and every public library in the state. At Kenan's urging, his family's William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust advised the University of North Carolina Press that the trust would fund placement of the book in every one of the aforementioned libraries. I am overwhelmed by Tom Kenan's belief in the merit of the book and his confidence in those of us who have worked to make it a reality.

In addition to those already mentioned, a number of folks need to be thanked for their essential contributions to this book. Ed L. Rankin Jr. has always been the guy I have leaned on when checking facts about North Carolina, but I have also relied on Dr. H. G. Jones, Dr. Bob Anthony, and Jerry Cotton at the North Carolina Collection at Wilson Library in Chapel Hill. The staff at Grandfather Mountain was key to locating many of the photographs, scanning them for printing, and typing copy. Principal among them were Jim Morton, Sabrina Stout, Sandy Wilkins, Lou Ella Hughes, Catherine Morton, and Harris Prevost. Last and certainly not least, the marvelous staff of the University of North Carolina Press, directed by Kate Torrey, has been a true pleasure to work with. In particular, David Perry, the editor in chief of the UNC Press, and Ron Maner, the managing editor, were instrumental in moving the project forward. To all of these friends I say a loud and clear thank you.

Hugh Morton


Excerpted from Hugh Morton's North Carolina by Hugh Morton Copyright © 2003 by University of North Carolina Press. Excerpted by permission.
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What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

Each of Morton's observations helps the reader understand something about the flavor of North Carolina history. . . . [T]hose of us who enjoy learning how our state works ought to own a copy of this book.—D. G. Martin

[Morton's] gift to North Carolina is a visual record of 60 years of the state's history and its compelling beauty from mountain to seashore.—Fayetteville Observer

Morton's book is both a captivating photo essay on North Carolina's breathtaking beauty from the mountains to the sea and a collection of intriguing photographs of interesting political and sports personalities. . . . With this beautiful book of photographs, he shares with us a lifetime passion that has given him the opportunity to record some of the state's most interesting people and events for nearly 70 years. Whether you're a native or a newcomer, this book will be a delightful way to gain a new perspective on the Tarheel state.—Asheville Citizen-Times

A book that puts Mr. Morton's love for [North Carolina] in sharp focus.—Associated Press

Flipping through anyone else's photos of backyard scenes and weekend outings with friends and pets requires stifling a couple of yawns to be polite. But not when the memories are Hugh Morton's. . . . His gift to North Carolinians is a visual record of 60 years of the state's history and its compelling beauty from mountain to seashore.—Fayetteville Observer

[This book] will be one of the most useful anecdotal history books in the fascinating collection of North Caroliniana. . . . The Morton collection is astonishing in its variety, its quantity and its quality.—The Charlotte Observer

Wonderful . . . would make a great gift during the . . . holiday season.—Avery Times Journal

All those who have had that experience, of seeing Hugh Morton's mountain and his North Carolina through his eyes and his lens, inevitably ask, 'Could there be anyone who loves North Carolina more?' That love story is what this book is really about.—Raleigh News & Observer

[Hugh Morton's North Carolina] is part coffee table book, part history lesson, all good stuff for those of us Tar Heel born and Tar Heel bred, or for anyone who has a love of the Old North State. . . . What makes this book so great is Morton's folksy voice throughout. . . . The love he has for nature and people clearly comes through in his work. He's charming, a true gentleman, and it's a real pleasure to read about the stories behind the photographs.—Salisbury Post

Hugh Morton's North Carolina is a fascinating, important, and thoroughly entertaining book. . . . Hugh's personal commentary enriches each picture and invites the reader to reflect on and remember a journey shared. All of us are deeply indebted to this noble native son for his lifetime of exemplary service to the Tar Heel State.—William Friday, from the Foreword


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