The Charlotte News

Wednesday, April 16, 1947


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that a series of explosions this date at 9:12 a.m. in Texas City, Texas, on a French ship, the Grand Camp, loaded with nitrate, next to the Monsanto Chemical Corporation plant, had resulted in between 200 and a thousand dead and 2,000 to 8,500 injured. Estimates placed the probable dead at about 350. The Monsanto plant and the ship had been destroyed by the explosions. The deaths were in the plant, on the ship, and the surrounding docks. Other industrial plants in the area were also impacted by the blasts. Galveston across the bay had broken windows and a cloud of dust pervading the city as a result. A fire aboard the ship had triggered the explosions.

The blast was heard and buildings rocked as far away as Port Arthur and Orange, a distance of a hundred miles. It was said to have been heard even in Palestine, Texas, 160 miles away.

The House Foreign Relations Committee approved by a vote of 12 to 3 the 400-million dollar aid package to Greece and Turkey, as sought by the President to supplant the British aid which was ending in Greece because of financial inability to maintain it. The bill did not contain the preamble of the Senate bill, stating that the measure was consistent with the U.N. Charter.

Senator Allen Ellender of Louisiana stated that he had decided to support the bill in light of former Vice-President Henry Wallace's attack of it.

Attorney General Tom Clark, speaking at a Jefferson Day dinner in Philadelphia, called Mr. Wallace's criticism in England of the aid package a "cheap, blundering assault" on the country's bi-partisan foreign policy. He apparently had the approval of the President in making the statement.

Secretary of State Marshall was said to have made no headway in breaking the deadlocks with Russia in Moscow, at his 90-minute meeting the night before with Premier Stalin. The precise results of the meeting were maintained in confidence. It was the first meeting of any high-ranking American official with the Soviet leader since the President had announced the proposal of aid to Greece and Turkey on March 12.

The counsel for seventeen of the striking telephone unions charged A.T.&T. with union-busting activity.

Efforts at resolving the ten-day old nationwide telephone strike were at a standstill in Washington.

In Pittsburgh, a recidivist burglar had undergone a voluntary operation to try to rid himself of criminal tendencies. The operation, a prefrontal lobotomy, was declared a success by the surgical team. The particular surgery had proved fruitful in mental institutions.

The mental results of the surgery, however, would take time to determine.

In San Francisco, the so-called "Ding Dong Daddy of the D Car Line", a phrase coined by Chronicle columnist Stanton Delaplane, a streetcar conductor who had been sent to San Quentin for trigamy, having served two years of an indeterminate sentence of up to 30 years, was ordered by a Superior Court judge to refrain from marriage during his five-year probationary period on a new charge or be fined three dollars, mandatory for such offenses. He was not prosecuted for having ten other wives, his decimagy. The man, in tears, thanked the court.

The D Line, no longer operating since 1950, ran on an incline, by the inkline, until it reached the Presidio, at which point, it fell into the ocean, on its way, by daycoach, to Dakar to start the circuit again via the turntable.

Harry Ashmore, 30, who had been Associate Editor of The News since early October, 1945, had been appointed Editor by new Publisher Thomas L. Robinson. The position had been vacant since January when Editor J. E. Dowd stepped down to become General Manager of the newspaper when Mr. Robinson and a group of investors bought the newspaper from the Dowd family, who had owned it since its founding. Mr. Ashmore was only the eighth editor of The News during its 58-year history—and his tenure would be short. He would depart on July 26 to become Associate Editor and eventually Editor of the Little Rock Gazette, a position in which he would win the Pulitzer Prize in 1958 for his editorialization calming community tensions during the Central High School integration crisis of September, 1957.

Mr. Ashmore would publish in 1954 The Negro and the Schools, distributed to the Justices of the Supreme Court during their consideration of Brown v. Board of Education that year, a work which was influential, according to Chief Justice Earl Warren in a subsequent conversation with Mr. Ashmore, in the Court's implementing decision in that case in 1955. That subsequent decision coined the phrase "with all deliberate speed", to sugggest license to engage in gradualism in desegregation of public schools, subsequently made infamous by the segregationist Governors and members of Congress of the South, who took it to mean "as slow as you might like" to turn the corner.

A graduate of Clemson, who had begun his journalistic career in 1937 with the Greenville Piedmont in his hometown of Greenville, S.C., Mr. Ashmore had served during the war on the front lines in Northern France and in Central Europe, first as a lieutenant, eventually becoming a lieutenant-colonel.

On the editorial page, "Heading for the Morning After" comments on the price picture and the economists' predictions that a recession would likely follow by the fall. It compares the price increases between 1946 and 1947 with those in 1926, a year midway between inflation and depression.

The supplied figures demonstrated that the reasoning a year earlier that higher production after release of price controls would lower prices, had been fallacious.

The President had only the ability to ask the manufacturers to lower prices and urge labor to refrain from seeking higher wages, as he had divested himself of all executive power provided during the war to control prices. But neither side seemed to hear his call.

The only cure for the problem would likely be recession, which would not be painless.

It leaves to historians to determine whether adherence to price controls would have resulted in less suffering in the country from this inevitable correction in the economy.

"'The Life Blood of a City....'", drawing from an editorial by Atlanta Journal Editor Wright Bryan, tells of Charlotte entering the air age handicapped, without an east-west route after the decision by the Civil Aeronautics Board the previous week not to authorize it. An Atlanta businessman could catch a flight and be in Chicago in two and a half hours. But that could not be duplicated from Charlotte. There were such routes to Detroit, New York, New Orleans, and Miami, but nothing to the west or northwest.

Such limitations would cut off the lifeblood of the city by restricting commerce. In consequence, the Chamber of Commerce and the City Aviation Committee were going to appeal to the CAB to reconsider its decision.

"From Hadrian to Hitler" tells of the small Jewish population of Charlotte having set about trying to raise $75,000 locally for relief of European Displaced Persons. They hoped to raise $100,000 among themselves.

The previous year, the United Jewish Appeal nationally had raised 100 million dollars for this effort. They were seeking 170 million in 1947 to meet the persecutions ongoing in Poland and the dashed hope of a large migration to Palestine.

Jews of Europe were facing extinction as Israel had under the Roman Emperor Hadrian.

The Appeal was an affirmation of the Judeo-Christian ethic that each is his brother's keeper.

Drew Pearson reports that pursuant to advice, the President would make a series of public appearances west of the Mississippi during the summer months. While pleased with the high poll numbers again being enjoyed by the President, his advisers were not certain how those numbers would translate in the 1948 election. They believed that his prospects in the large Eastern cities and the industrial states were not good, thus requiring him to make a sweep of the Western states to counter-balance it.

He again briefly reports of the negotiations behind the scenes in the telephone strike.

Indiana Congressman Ray Madden, a Democrat, was protesting exclusion from the Republican conference which was whipping into shape the labor bill. He wondered aloud whether the House Labor Committee was operating under the two-party system. Democrats had not been called into the matter until Republicans had already fashioned the bill. He lectured sternly regarding this secrecy the committee chairman, Fred Hartley of New Jersey.

He next tells of the British having put forth a resolution on the Palestine question to the U.N., which had within it a clause reserving to the British the right to reject anything decided by the U.N. The cost of hearing the issue would be a million dollars, and it did not assure any resolution. He points out that the U.N. had a meager budget, lower than that of the New York City street cleaning department.

Senator William Langer of South Dakota, an advocate of small business against monopolistic interests, told the chief counsel of the Federal Trade Commission, who had informed that the budget for his agency was two million dollars, that he should perhaps hire Greek and Turkish personnel so that he could obtain funding for the FTC. The counsel replied that he was content with one two-hundredth of the aid which would go to Greece and Turkey.

Marquis Childs tells of the Senate committee investigating the Centralia, Illinois, coal mine disaster doing a thorough job, not being subject to politics. When it would deliver its report, the result would be legislation which would provide teeth to Federal inspections, already permitted since 1941, but only allowing for recommendations, not enforcement. Senator Harley Kilgore of West Virginia had introduced such a bill in February, before the Centralia tragedy.

The agreement of the previous May between the UMW and the Government, under which the mines had operated since that time, allowed for the miners to shut down the mines if they deemed them unsafe. But John L. Lewis had exercised that perogative only twice.

There would be powerful opposition to a law with enforcement teeth. John L. Lewis, wanting the enforcement responsibility in the hands of the miners, had attacked Senator Kilgore in the fall election, claiming that he was the tool of the CIO. The operators also opposed the bill.

The new law would require more than double the present number of inspectors and cost an additional three million dollars to implement. But it would permit inspection of all mines three times a year, whereas since 1941, only mines employing more than 25 men had received two inspections annually.

Mr. Childs suggests that if Mr. Lewis would stop playing politics, then some reasonable agreement might be worked out at least for the duration of Government operation through June. Mr. Lewis's recent strike over safety had penalized both miners and industry, and likely had not contributed to increasing mine safety.

Samuel Grafton discusses the high prices which had belied the Republican and big business push the previous year to rid the economy of price control on the basis that it would allow higher production which would inevitably saturate the market enough with product that prices would fall. It had not worked out that way.

The Republicans had been unrealistic in believing that prices could be unrestrained and high while labor would remain content with wages as they were.

The conservative Council of Economic Advisers had just told the President that lower prices and higher wages were necessary to stabilize the economy. Such had to be disturbing to the conservatives in Congress who wanted the opposite on both counts. That these men who were by no means New Dealers were advocating higher wages betrayed how infantile the conservative conception a year earlier had been.

"One can almost see the conservative fantasy shredding away, like bits of fogs in a fresh, early wind."

A letter criticizes the American policy of blocking Russia on the premise that the people of Europe would then choose American democracy instead of Communism. There were other alternatives between the two forms of imperialism.

The U.N. had handled the Iranian situation a year earlier when Russia had exceeded its prior treaty-determined March 2 deadline to withdraw its troops from Azerbaijan six months after the end of the war. If it could successfully handle that situation, he offers, it ought be able to handle the Greek and Turkish situations. The other choice was the illusion that armed force could maintain security.

A letter from the wife of News reporter Pete McKnight objects to the requirement that special elections on "non-essential" bond measures have for passage a majority vote of those registered. She says she would definitely be at the polls to vote for the amendment to the State Constitution to eliminate this restriction.

A letter tells of a bad place on Lakewood Avenue where cars rode on a path next to the railroad tracks, becoming so muddy when it rained that cars could not utilize it. A paved road was necessary.

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