The Charlotte News

Thursday, February 6, 1947


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that former North Carolina Governor and new Ambassador to Great Britain O. Max Gardner had died at age 64, suddenly stricken with a coronary thrombosis just as he was about to board ship with his family for the voyage to England to take up his duties. He had died at the Hotel St. Regis in New York City at 8:20 a.m., a few hours before departure, having been stricken at 3:00 a.m.

Mr. Gardner's son reported that his father had suffered a slight attack the previous fall while attending a football game and had been under a lot of stress preparing for his new post.

President Truman, calling Mr. Gardner "keen, kindly, courteous always, rich in humor, delightful as a raconteur", expressed his sadness at the loss, indicating in response to questions that he had not had a chance to give any thought to a successor.

Mr. Gardner was to be buried in Sunset Cemetery in Shelby, with the Reverend Zeno Wall of the First Baptist Church officiating at the service.

Reverend Wall, incidentally, had officiated at the funeral of W. J. Cash on July 7, 1941 and Cash was also buried in Sunset Cemetery.

Pete McKnight of The News reported that Mr. Gardner had told him a few weeks earlier that he had to go back to Shelby to relax every now and then, and was heading there at the time.

In Washington, Gerhard Eisler refused to tell HUAC whether he was the number one Communist in America, but many of his associates and a woman claiming to be his sister insisted that he had been for many years. Mr. Eisler was found in contempt of Congress for refusing to take the oath and testify. He was charged already with violating immigration laws.

The North Carolina House Education Committee heard testimony regarding the authenticity of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, supposedly the first such declaration in the colonies. Dispute among historians centered on whether a meeting was held on May 20 or May 31, 1775. The State Superintendent of Education counseled against such a bill on the ground that it intruded on academic freedom to insist that the document was authentic and to require it to be so taught in the schools. The committee deferred action on the bill.

Dick Young tells of a bill being introduced in the State House to hold a vote on whether to extend the city limits of Charlotte.

The cold wave, the worst in seven years in Charlotte, was ending, as the temperature had dropped to 14 during the early morning hours, but reached 45 by 2:30 p.m. and was not expected to dip below 30 the next morning. Another cold front, however, was moving in on Friday night.

The temperature in Miami was 32 degrees, but the local meteorologist predicted that the mercury would return to the 70's the following day. Only about a hundred people had ventured into the ocean on the unusually cold day in South Florida.

In Newark, N.J., a fifteen-year old boy fell on some ice the previous day while running to catch a bus, driving an automatic pencil he had in his pocket into his chest, close to his heart. He had an excellent chance of surviving after surgery had removed the pencil.

Be careful where your pencils are kept when trodding slippery ground. Don't carry pens or automatic pencils at all on icy days. Tell the teacher that the danger of imminent death is simply too great.

On the editorial page, "An Incurable North Carolinian" uses as its title a quote from former Governor O. Max Gardner, replying to stinging criticism in 1943 that he had become too aligned with Washington to be a viable candidate for the Senate race of 1944 against Robert Rice Reynolds. He had been hurt by the criticism.

The piece agrees that he was first, foremost, and last a North Carolinian, and would have remained so had he been able to assume his post at the Court of St. James.

He had been an ideological liberal on social programs and a conservative on fiscal matters, lowering taxes while Governor as he increased services, an extraordinary feat during the Depression, his term having been from 1929-33. He had brought the public schools and the highway system under State control.

FDR had called on him to serve in the Cabinet, but he declined, taking various lesser Administration roles through the years prior to the war and during the war. President Truman had appointed him Undersecretary of the Treasury in 1945 and Ambassador to replace Averell Harriman, appointed Secretary of Commerce in September, 1946 to replace the fired Henry Wallace.

Governor Gardner had been head of a political machine out of his native Shelby and helped to nominate some of his successors as Governor, including fellow Shelby native and brother-in-law Clyde R. Hoey, who became Governor in 1937 and then was elected Senator in 1944. But as head of that machine, he had never become a political boss, instead only dispensed genial advice.

The piece finds him to have been a respected public servant even by his political enemies and that he would have performed gracefully and well in his new position as Ambassador.

"Redistricting Raises a Ghost" comments on Gene Whitman of the Winston-Salem Journal finding that the moribund Republican Party in the state would likely contest the redistricting plan and possibly defeat it, as it was based on gerrymandering of two heavily Republican counties, Wilkes and Yadkin, and would place them in safely Democratic districts. The Democrats of the adjoining counties to be included in the district were also opposed to the plan.

The gerrymandering might prevent the passage of the entire redistricting plan and thus end the chances in the current Legislature for separating Mecklenburg and Gaston Counties, badly in need of separate judicial districts so that separate Solicitors could be elected to handle the heavy prosecutorial caseloads in each county, especially in Mecklenburg.

"Reflections on the Eve of Battle" tells of the County Board of Commissioners rejecting the City Council's proposal to have a referendum in the county on controlled sale of liquor separate from the city. The piece thinks it wise as it would have stacked the deck in favor of legal controlled sale in the city and against controlled sale in the county.

The piece pledges the newspaper to stick to the facts and to its long-held position in favor of ABC control as the campaign heated up toward the election.

Drew Pearson writes a column on O. Max Gardner before news had come of his death this date, as he was presumably to begin shortly his formal duties as Ambassador to Great Britain.

He had never been a diplomat but had told the story of having been to England 42 years earlier as a cattle-hand, persuaded to the position by his old friend Robert Rice Reynolds, long before the latter became Senator from North Carolina or Mr. Gardner became Governor. Mr. Gardner on that voyage had served as nursemaid to 500 sea-sick steers.

He had arrived in London in 1905 on the same day that memorial services were being held for the late former Ambassador John Hay, who had died on July 1. Mr. Gardner had ridden in a hansom cab to the services at St. Paul's Cathedral. When asked by the cab driver who Mr. Hay was, Mr. Gardner replied, not that he had been Secretary of State and Ambassador to Britain, but rather that he had written the wry poem "Little Breeches", which he then proceeded to recite from memory, the last stanza of which is set forth in the column.

Mr. Pearson suggests that Mr. Gardner would have preferred to sit on his front porch in Shelby in the old rocking chair provided him by blacks of the town 35 years earlier as a wedding present, rather than "loafing around the throne" as he had described his current mission, borrowing from the Hay poem.

He expects that he would do a superb job as Ambassador.

He next imparts of Secretary of War Robert Patterson's willingness to admit mistakes when made by the Army. When Major Alexander de Seversky, the author of Victory Through Air Power in 1942, advocated, prior to Pearl Harbor, long-range fighters and increased armor on bombers, General Hap Arnold of the Army Air Forces had slapped down the proposal. After Pearl Harbor, when the mistake had proved costly to getting the Air Forces up to speed, Mr. Patterson, then Undersecretary of War, set out to rectify the error, and eventually, at war's end, called on Major De Seversky to have him undertake a study of the Army Air Forces. Now. Mr. Patterson was presenting to Major de Seversky the Medal of Merit.

Senator Theodore Bilbo was likely going to need another 30 days to recover, beyond the sixty days provided him to undergo surgery for his mouth problem. In consequence, Senator Alben Barkley would move to delay resumption of the proceedings against him to bar him from taking his oath of office.

Samuel Grafton, in Paris, finds the city lighter in atmosphere than London. He suggests the difference being explained by the fact that Londoners had buckled down to secure their determined fate while Parisians were still determining theirs, allowing for a more festive air.

The French lived in public anyway, whereas the British tended toward private lives. The cafes of Paris were buzzing; the pubs of London, dour. One could discuss existentialism in Paris, not in London. The British already knew how to define their existence.

The French were not afraid of one another. They avoided quarrels between the right and left politically by entrusting the Government for the nonce to Socialist caretakers.

The French waiter stood by the table attentively making certain that the diner was enjoying the meal; the British waiter attentively assured that the diner was adhering to rations.

Underlying the different approaches to life were questions of how much human liberty was good and how much organization was necessary.

Harold Ickes tells of James Moffett suing in Federal Court in New York City Standard Oil Co. of California and the Arabian American Oil Co., claiming that he had been inadequately compensated for services as a protege of Harry Collier, chairman of Standard. Standard and Texaco each shared an equal interest in the concession in Saudi Arabia owned by the Arabian American Oil Co. Mr. Moffett earned $50,000 per year as Mr. Collier's protege at the latter company.

Mr. Moffett had been the Federal Housing Administrator and a member of the Industrial Advisory Board of the NRA until the beginning of 1934, during which year in those capacities, the Government was unaware that he was also an adviser to Standard Oil, though the latter understood his Government role.

In his suit, he was claiming expenses as adviser to Standard in the amount of $75,000. He was also claiming slander against the vice-president of Standard, seeking a million dollars in damages.

He claimed further that he had persuaded the Federal Government during the war to pay to the King of Saudi Arabia 30 million dollars through lend-lease, and for that persuasion, was claiming a fee of six million dollars from the Arabian American Oil Co. The company would otherwise have been required to foot the bill for the concession from Saudi Arabia.

Mr. Ickes suggests that the oil industry generally complained about Government interference with private enterprise until the interference was beneficial to the oil interests.

A letter from the chairman of The Citizens Committee finds it a good idea that the barber training schools of North Carolina had been placed under the Department of Public Instruction.

Gerald Greenberg, in a letter to the New York Times Magazine, tells of "Norm", the lesser known counterpart to Kilroy among G.I.'s in the war, or, in the British Isles, "Chad".

Norm was an invention of the more educated G.I.'s He was given to banalities and platitudes, usually uttered during poker games, of which the correspondent provides some examples, both quotes and context.

"Never send a boy to do a man's job," was one such expression uttered by Norm during bridge games, taught to him by his wife now that he was back in the civilian ranks, when Norm was able to trump with a higher card than that of his opponent.

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