The News & Observer 9/16/1963
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The News & Observer 9/16/1963
Fifty years ago this week, the first of more than 10 million visitors boarded the newly docked USS North Carolina in its new home on the Wilmington riverfront.
Thanks to the efforts of Jimmy Craig and Hugh Morton, along with 700,000 school children across North Carolina, the battleship was saved from the scrapyard. Bringing it home, however, was no easy matter.
The move, originally scheduled for October 1, 1961, had to be delayed for a day because of the weather and problems with some of the tug boats.
At nearly 729 feet, the North Carolina was the longest ship to navigate the river, which was only 500 feet wide at the time. Also, the ship drew 30 feet of water, and the channel was only 32 feet deep.
After 10 hours of intricate maneuvering with a fleet of tugs pushing and pulling, the huge, 35,000 ton battlewagon was edged into a slip here at 5:37 p.m.
Thousands of persons lined the Wilmington waterfront and had a grandstand view as the ticklish maneuver of edging the ship from the Cape Fear River into her slip was executed.
The bow of the North Carolina apparently went aground at one time during the move into the slip. The only other mishap to mar the big ship's final voyage came when gunmounts at the very end of her stern crunched into the topside of a floating restaurant, the Ark, moored at the end of Princess Street.
This was not the first time the Ark had been on the losing end of such an encounter.
On prominent display inside the restaurant has been a Navy submarine plaque in honor of the fact that the Ark some years ago was involved in the only recorded collision between a "man-of-war and a restaurant." The man-of-war was the Navy sub USS Crusher. -- The News & Observer 10/3/1961
The USS North Carolina's service in World War II included downing 24 planes, fighting in every major offensive in the Pacific, and earning 15 battle stars. Six times the Japanese reporting sinking it.
The Japanese couldn't sink the battleship, but a history book nearly did. In 1971, Sandy Bunn, a high school junior from Rocky Mount wrote to the staff of the Battleship Memorial, asking if the ship had been recovered or if the memorial was a replica. He had read in a library book, The Story of Submarines by George Weller that the USS North Carolina had been sunk.
Weller's book was published by Random House, Inc., as part of it "Landmark Books" for children in the middle grades of school. On page 121 it tells of submarine attacks sinking the battleship North Carolina and the cruiser Indianapolis.
But the North Carolina was never sunk, only damaged by a torpedo in September 1943, memorial officials said. The memorial organization reported it will set the record straight.
Meanwhile, Sandy was brought to the memorial to visit the battleship and see for himself that it is the real thing. -- The News & Observer 2/14/1971
Read more about the campaign to save the battleship.
Clayton Price (left), a crewmember of the USS North Carolina during World War II, reassures Sandy Bunn of Rocky Mount that the ship is authentic. (File Photo)
As UNC's Morehead Planetarium decommissions its Zeiss VI projector and moves to digital technology, here's a look back at how excited the Planetarium was to install the state of the art instrument in the 1960s.
The new instrument is being built now at the Zeiss factory in Oberkochen and will be delivered to Chapel Hill in the summer of 1968. Planetarium Director A. F. Jenzano was in Germany in June to look over the Mark VI prototype.
"Ours will be the first of the production model," said [Planetarium assistant manager Donald] Hall, "and hopefully bug-free.
"The new instrument simply will do everything better than the present one ... plus. The basic design for our instrument was finalized in the 1920s. In fact all Zeiss instruments through the Mark V relied on the same basic design. The Mark VI is the first basic change the company has made ..."
Features of the new projector included the ability to display small, blue-white, more realistic looking stars.
With the new instrument ... they will be able to demonstrate the proper motion of six stars for the first time -- something no Zeiss has ever done before.
"We're so far away from the stars that standing in our backyard we wouldn't notice any motion, unless we stood there for 50,000 years...."
Hall reports that also they will be able for the first time to show seven different kinds of lunar eclipses and 10 different kinds of solar eclipses, both automatically. Now eclipses are done by special effects projectors and the planetarium instrument is shut off. -- The Raleigh Times 8/1/1966
Another feature of the new equipment was variable speed motors, which would improve orbital simulations for astronaut training. Astronaut training continued at Morehead until 1975.
When readers of The News and Observer opened their papers on the morning of September 1, 1886, they read about "A GREAT SHOCK."
The earthquake reported under the headline "The whole country in the grasp of an earthquake" had its center in Charleston, but was felt throughout North Carolina and beyond. By the next morning, the entire four pages of The News and Observer was devoted to earthquake coverage, including a dispatch from many NC towns, including this one from Chapel Hill:
The motion or motions of the earth caused great commotion hereabouts last night. The disturbance -- some counted six distinct shocks, between 9 50 and 10 45 -- seemed to come from the northwest. But observations on such occurrences, made by those not familiar with them, may be discordant. I am happy to say that "The Old South" still stands erect, and the wall of the well was not thrown down. But the boys emptied their rooms, and then made more fuss than was made for them; throughout the town women cried, neighbors ran to each other's houses, folks in bed were shaken up, looking glasses quivered, crockery rattled and philosophers were confounded. This morning some say they remember such a time years ago, others never felt so before and hope never to feel so again. -- The News & Observer 9/2/1886
The city of Charleston saw a great deal of damage, including 60 deaths and and estimated $5-$6 million in property damage.
An earthquake, such as has never before been known in the history of this city, swept over Charleston last night shortly after 10 o'clock, causing more loss of life than the cyclone of the year before. The city is wrecked, the streets are encumbered with masses of fallen brick and tangled telegraph and telephone wires. Up to an early hour it was almost impossible to pass from one part of the city to another. The first shock was by far the most severe. Most of the people, with their families, passed the night in the streets, which even this morning are crowded with people afraid to reenter their homes. -- The News & Observer 9/2/1886
Aid and concern poured in from all quarters, including a cable expressing sympathy from Queen Victoria.
While the country was fascinated by the exploits of Bonnie and Clyde and other gangsters of the era, North Carolina had its share of outlaws and sensational crimes. In the summer of 1937, the state was on alert after eight convicts tunneled out of Central Prison.
Commandeering a motorist's car half a mile from the prison, the convicts sped away and had nearly 3 hours' start before a general alarm was sent out by prison authorities.
After a long search of the prison yard, officials late last night said they had located a tunnel under a wall at the rear of the prison building. Apparently, it had taken the men weeks to dig the tunnel, Warden H. H. Honeycutt said.
A tri-State search was started for the felons, Oscar Pitts, acting director of the penal division announced last night.
A message from C. V. Faulkner, Sheriff of Nash county, said that an automobile, answering the description of the one stolen here, had hit another car at Rocky Mount about 8 o'clock, but did not stop. The car was headed for Elm City, home of Eddie Cobb, one of the fugitives.
The felons took the machine from R. C. Jones and Miss Lucille Woodlief, both State Hospital attendants, as they sat in the parked car in front of a building on the institution's grounds.
Jones said he recognized the men as escaped convicts by their rough clothing, although they were not wearing stripes. How the convicts procured Grade A clothes for their escape had not been determined last night.
All the men were long-termers and most of them regarded as dangerous.
Proctor has a criminal record of many years' standing and was serving terms totaling more than 30 years. He was an associate of the late Coley Cain, slain last year in a gun battle with a South Carolina officer who sought to recapture him after his escape from Caledonia.
Cobb, who is from Nash county was a member of the same ring of burglars and safe crackers. He was serving 30 years for possession of burglary tools, being sentenced from Wake County two years ago.
Other felons escaping with them were: James Everett, 21, alias James (Snake) Eberts, given seven to 10 years in Wake last year for assault and larceny; Carl McNinght, 24, sentenced from Forsyth County in 134 to 12 to 16 years for robbery; John H. Lowder, 29, of Mecklenburg county, serving five to seven years for robbery; Normal Hart, alias William Ralte, 29, sent up from Davidson for 15 to 20 years for robbery.
Upon receiving Jones' message, Raleigh police searched the Dix Hill section for the car, a 1934 black Ford coach, bearing North Carolina licenses 313-886. No trace of it was found.
It was Proctor's second escape from prison. Two years ago this month he made a successful break at Caledonia and remained at large for four months before being recaptured in Greensboro by Guilford County deputies.
The year before, he had been arrested at Rocky Mount, along with several members of his ring, when a posse of officials raided a hide-out there. Raleigh police joined officers from several counties and Federal agents in making arrests.
Above, NC Central prison in 1967. N&O File photo.
The break was the largest from Central Prison since April 22, 1933, when nine prisoners, headed by the notorious Dud Travis of Wake county, made their way to freedom through a tunnel while a ball game was in progress in the prison yard. All were recaptured.
On September 3, 1933, and March 20, 1934, two prisoners escaped by scaling walls after the manner of Dr. J. W. Peacock, the Thomasville murderer, who escaped while serving a life sentence in 1922 and made his way to California, where several years later he was killed in an automobile accident.
Next largest escape here in recent years was on August 28, 1934, when seven criminally insane men fled from the State Hospital. -- The News & Observer, 8/13/1937
NC Central Prison in the 1920s: "White Cell Block N.C. State Prison Raleigh NC." N&O File photo.
Pullen Park, claimed by the city of Raleigh to be the first public park in North Carolina, has a rich history. It was founded in 1887 by Richard Stanhope Pullen. In 1888, Wiley A. Howell was named park keeper, and together Pullen and Howell began to develop the park.
In addition to the familiar carousel and train, the park also featured the city's first swimming pool (built in 1891, of wood and replaced later with WPA money) and a small zoo housing bears, alligators and monkeys.
The large trees, some as old as the park itself are the pride of the city. But many of those trees were threatened one night 100 years ago when fire broke out in the park.
Mr. W.A. Howell, keeper of Pullen Park, told a News and Observer reporter yesterday about the fire in the park before day yesterday morning. The fire was reported in yesterday morning's News and Observer, but it was necessarily meager of details, as forms of the paper were on the press when the alarm was turned in.
The house, a one-story frame building, was completely destroyed, and Mr. Howell rescued practically none of his property -- only a bureau, three rocking chairs, and a washstand. Mr. Howell had $500 insurance on his movables, while the house -- a part of the park property -- was insured for $600. Mr. Howell's losses include a $300 piano, a range and practically all the furniture. All the clothing in the house was destroyed.
The family, including Mr. and Mrs. Howell and their six children, had a rather narrow escape. They were waked by the cook, who was sleeping in a part of the house which was cut off from the other rooms. She ran out crying "fire, fire," in time for the family to get out safely, though by this time the fire was well started. The fire was practically over, Mr. Howell says, in twenty-five minutes.
Mrs. Howell, who has been sick and is naturally nervous from the unpleasant event, is with her sister, Mrs. Annie Reavis. The rest of the family are with friends in the neighborhood.
In addition to the destruction of the house and its contents, a great deal of damage was done to the trees surrounding the house. The barn near by also caught fire, but a hose wagon arrived in time and the barn was saved. -- The News & Observer 7/28/1911