"Inaugurations have their big moments, their pomp and ceremony ..." wrote C.A. Upchurch Jr. about the inauguration of R. Gregg Cherry, governor from 1945 to 1949. Upchurch would write instead about "the little things, the odds and ends of the quadrennial routine in which North Carolina changes chief executives."
Big, amiable Gregg Cherry went into office smoothly, taking the hoopla and folderol in stride. There was only one moment of hesitation. That occurred when Governor Cherry and Ex-Governor Broughton approached the swinging gate that leads to the capitol's executive office....
Ex-Governor Broughton, on his toes as far as protocol went, held back at the gate to let the new Governor in. There was a minor traffic jam as Cherry also hesitated. Then, he asked: "Who goes first?"
"You," said Adjutant General J. Van B. Metts, high priest of the inauguration routine. "Come in."
Once inside the Governor's office, Broughton showed Cherry the workings of the gubernatorial desk. He also presented the Great State Seal, with all its honor and headaches, its triumphs and tribulations. That probably will be the last time Governor Cherry will handle the Seal until he presents to the next man four years hence. Ben Thornton, now serving under his fourth Governor, is vice president in charge of the Seal, and colored Ben will do all the sealing that comes along.
"I take pleasure, Sir, in turning over to you the Great Seal of the State," said Broughton. "I congratulate you most heartily, I congratulate the State, and I wish you Godspeed." Then Broughton added, "Incidentally, Governor, this is the last time you'll see the Seal. From now on it is in the hands of Ben."
Governor Cherry uncorked a man-sized speech -- about 18 pages of legal-sized paper typed in single space. He began at 12:50 and delivered the last word at 2:15 .... He made the speech on only three drinks of water, one of which he gulped right after saying that now he had come to "the problem of what to do with liquor."
Cherry spoke for 55 minutes before applause rippled across the audience. That was when he referred to the care of returning war veterans. Ten minutes later he got another ripple of applause when he advocated an adequate program for child health. Fifteen minutes later he was rewarded by a wavelet of applause, sparked by feminine listeners, when he came out for a constitutional amendment to permit women to serve on juries and otherwise put women's legal status on a parity with the males'. ...
It should be noted that Cherry's speech was not constructed as an applause-getter. It was plain talk. There were no pyrotechnics in the text, no oratorical gymnastics in its delivery. Just a straight-from-the-shoulder message on the state of the State and its future. No crisis to straighten out, no dangerous abyss.
No Governor ever got a more thorough-going spiritual introduction. Dr. C. Excelle Rozelle, Methodist minister of High Point, gave an impressive invocation , and heaven never heard a fuller exultation in North Carolina's greatness nor a more eloquent supplication for the welfare of the State.
[Both Governor Cherry's 14,000-word inaugural address and Dr. Rozelle's introduction were printed in full in that day's newspaper.]
Wearing top-hats, jim swinger coats and gates-ajar collars, Governor Broughton and Governor Cherry, with their attractive wives, emerged from the Executive Mansion promptly at 11:15 to enter the cars which carried them in the parade to the auditorium. A touring car, with top down, transported the men; the ladies rode in a sedan.
There were about 3,000 people in the auditorium when Cherry began his inaugural address; several hundreds had left when he finished. Raleigh is noted for the dim view it takes of long speeches; and, besides, lunch-time is a bad time to sit through a prolonged program. Many State officials, feeling the call of the dinner-table, left before the speech was finished... -- The News & Observer 1/5/1945