Stroll Down Memory Lane
Mrs. RamFanatic occasionally does flea market shows and she returned from one several weeks ago and informed me that she had seen and spoken with a friend of ours who spends practically all of his time out of town in connection with his job. We get to see him about once a year and it is always a pleasure because he has similar interests as we do and he is an avid collector. She said he had told her about a magazine he had that he wanted to show me but she really did not understand what he was talking about.
My curiosity caused me to ponder over what he might have because he had said that it had some connection with UNC and I was pleased when Mrs. RF said she was going to invite him over for supper. I figured he might bring the magazine with him but no mention was made of it when Mrs. RF talked with him on the telephone.
Several days later he came over and I noticed when he entered that he had a magazine in his hands. I figured this must be the magazine he had mentioned to Mrs. RF at the flea market.
He handed me the magazine which was neatly wrapped in a clear protective sleeve and I couldn't believe my eyes. The magazine was a December 6, 1957 copy of Sports Illustrated and it was in pristine condition. There was nothing on the cover regarding UNC except the listing of an article entitled "Dixie's Yankee Hero." I was starting to get the picture.
Inside there is a two page spread in color of the '57 team doing a time exposure of a fast break taken in Woollen Gym with the interlocking NC showing very prominently. The white streams created by the time exposure gave the photograph a surreal quality as they led to the basket. Tommy Kearns is laying the ball up and in for a basket. This kind of shot used to be called a "crip" shot but I don't believe I've heard that word used for at least 50 years. "Crip" being short for "crippled", I guess because there was no talent or effort required to make the shot, hence it was crippled. I know the connection is lame, but don't fuss at me. I didn't coin the word.
On the other page was a shot of Kearns, Cunningham and Quigg in their navy blue UNC letterman sweaters standing with three pretty coeds by the old well. The caption said they were in front of the "Well", a traditional campus meeting place. Streaming across the top of the page were the words "NOTHING COULD BE FINER...
On the following 11 pages was the story mentioned on the cover preceded by a fine full page color shot of Coach McGuire and Tommy Kearns seated as though they were having a nice chat about the upcoming season. Kearns was in his warm up jacket and he had on the long Carolina blue socks that so characterized UNC teams under McGuire.
The article contained some things that brought back pleasant memories and unbelievably some things that I had simply forgotten. For example, I had forgotten that UNC supporters had given McGuire a blue and white Cadillac at mid-season. I remembered something about a new Cadillac but I would have sworn that it was given to him after the season concluded. Reference was made to a car driving down "Main St." in Chapel Hill with the Chancellor on top of the car waving to the crowd after the national championship game. I regret to inform you that while I can name all of my teachers from the 1st through the 12th grades, I cannot remember who the Chancellor was at the time. Was it Gordon Grey or Aycock? I just don't remember.
The author spent several days with McGuire and there were several little stories that I find very amusing. Once when Mrs. McGuire had prepared a meal for McGuire and the reporter, McGuire began reflecting on the previous season and the unbeaten record. McGuire made the statement that he wished the '58 team would lose a game early so the pressure would be reduced on the team. Pat McGuire asked Frank which game he wanted to lose and there was a lot of backtracking done by the Head Coach. The article was written before Joe Quigg injured his leg and was lost for the season. Up until Quigg's injury, Carolina had been favored to repeat as national champions and Lee Shaffer told me last year that he thought the Heels would have repeated had not Quigg been lost.
Another photograph that really brought back some memories was of the crowd that was on hand at the Raleigh-Durham Airport the Sunday after the final game on Saturday. Approximately 10,000 people were on hand and the plane had to circle the field several times until security cleared the area where the plane would discharge the team. McGuire and Rosenbluth were not with the team since they had gone to New York to be introduced on the Ed Sullivan Show, probably the most watched show on television at that time. Mrs. RF and I chuckle about the fact that we were both in the crowd but wouldn't meet for 10 more years.
I could go on forever, but you probably aren't enjoying this as much as I am so I'll stop. It was a period of history in Carolina sports that will probably never be duplicated. The ensuing national championships won by Carolina in '82 and '93 were great but they couldn't hold a candle to the excitement associated with being national champions, being undefeated and beating the man who was supposed to be unbeatable, Wilt Chamberlain. The consecutive triple overtimes had captured the attention of the entire state. I had friends who were Wake Forest and N.C. State students who were cheering for Carolina. I doubt if we will ever have ACC fans as much behind a single team in the national playoffs as existed with the '57 team. It was not only a state pride thing but a conference pride thing as well.
One thing I forgot to mention. I asked my friend if he was going to sell the magazine and he said he was not, that it was a gift to me. I have about worn it out since receiving it and I may post a photograph of it in the near future.