Tribute to Choo Choo

I was thumbing through my copy of "Choo Choo", the Charlie Justice Story the other day and ran across this letter by Ken Alyta, the Charlotte AP Sports chief when Choo Choo concluded his career at Carolina. For us old timers, it provides us an opportunity to relive some of the excitement associated with Tar Heel football during Choo Choo's 4 years on the Hill. For those too young to have experienced the "Justice Era", maybe it will provide a glimpse into how Choo Choo was viewed by a professional sports writer with no ties to UNC.

Dear Charlie:

Since I won't be making the Virginia game this week, the Carolina-Duke game last Saturday marked for me, at least, the last chance to see you play college football.

I just thought I ought to tell you how much I have enjoyed watching you this year and last and thank you for the thrilling afternoons of football you've given me.

You see, being a Connecticut carpetbagger I could watch your play in more or less a detached manner without the emotional stress and strain of an old grad trying hard to be impartial.

I saw you and Carolina eight times, beginning last fall with that breathtaking Texas game. You always won. Somehow I escaped the pitfalls of your seasons.

I've admired the the way in which you've stood up under pressure. It was terrific for three years, but this fall you were expected to combine the better features of Frank Merriwell and Superman week after week. Usually you did.

You've been given the full treatment a la Hollywood the past three months. You've kept your head and refused to cry over the bad breaks and kept pitching. You've been All-America off the field as well as on.

Just thought I ought to let you know. So long, Charlie, it's been wonderful watching you. Ken Alyta

I can't resist adding this little story to the Alyta letter which also appears in the book.

A teacher at an orphanage in North Carolina asked his pupils to write on a slip of paper the most important man in the country. Twenty-six slips were passed out, marked and returned.

The principal of the institution received one vote.

The President of the United States, Harry Truman, received two.

The other 23 went to Charlie ( Choo Choo ) Justice.