The Charlotte News

Friday, April 18, 1947


Site Ed. Note: The front page indicates that the Houston Chronicle had reported that Texas City, Texas, rescue workers had found several persons still alive among the ruins of the Monsanto Chemical Works plant, which had blown up after the French ship Grand Camp had exploded two days earlier from a fire in a hold next to another packed with ammonium nitrate, followed 16 hours later by two subsequent explosions aboard the nearby High Flyer, also carrying nitrate, and then a third explosion three and a half hours after that.

Hal Boyle, reporting from the scene for the Associated Press, could not, however, confirm the story of the survivors. A man in charge of rescue equipment, on the scene since daylight, told him that he had not found any survivors. The Deputy Mayor reported likewise. Monsanto stated that 307 of its employees had not been located and 31 were confirmed as dead, while 112 others were either safe or among the injured.

Fires had been brought under control in the town, but the skies were still heavy with smoke, drifting up to 175 miles away, stretching to Palestine. In Texas City, however, the smoke was rising high before drifting over the city.

The U.N. Security Council voted against having American aid to Greece placed under U.N. supervision, although a majority appeared to favor temporarily leaving in place representatives from the Council's Balkan Investigating Committee. Russia, however, might veto that proposal of the United States.

Winston Churchill, addressing a Conservative Party rally of 10,000 persons at Albert Hall in London, described former Vice-President Henry Wallace, speaking out on a tour of England against the Truman foreign policy of unilateral aid to Greece and Turkey, bypassing the U.N., as a "crypto-Communist", that being "one who has not got the courage to explain the destination for which he is making." The former Prime Minister and current Opposition Leader accused the "Socialist" Labor Government of squandering the 3.75-billion dollar U.S. loan made the previous year.

Mr. Churchill stated that he traveled quite a bit and always made it a point when abroad not to criticize his own country's government.

Now, you know how many holes...

Senator Chapman Revercomb of West Virginia stated during Senate debate on the aid bill that the U.S. may be inviting rather than repelling a Russian invasion of Greece and Turkey by the proposal of the 400-million dollar aid package to the two countries.

Across from Cuxhaven, Germany, the British blew up the German island base on Helgoland in the North Sea, the German Gibraltar. Local residents stated that the destruction would engender hatred for the British. Prior to 1914, the Germans had built it into one of the strongest naval bases in the world, and a major naval battle had been fought nearby in August, 1914, resulting in the German Fleet thereafter not leaving home waters.

The CIO contended that the House-approved Hartley labor bill was unconstitutional and that they would contest it in the courts.

Walter Reuther, president of the UAW, rejected the offer of G.M. for the "equivalent" of a 15-cent per hour wage increase for production workers, actually 11.5 cents plus six paid holidays, identical to that on which the company had settled its dispute with the electrical workers earlier. The UAW was seeking a 23.5 cents per hour increase, also sought from Ford and Chrysler, without counter-offers thus far. The average hourly wage currently was $1.31 for production workers, following the 18.5 cents per hour raise a year earlier. Mr. Reuther said negotiations would continue Monday.

Jones & Laughlin Steel Corp. of Pittsburgh and Cleveland, the fourth largest producer, employing 25,000 workers, demanded a wage increase of 23 cents per hour. Present industry pay was 96.5 cents per hour.

The page reprints a story from Time which told of the appointment of Harry Ashmore as the new Editor of The News, after he had been Associate Editor since October, 1945. It called him "one of the South's more realistic and readable editorial writers." He was "neither a Yankee-lover nor a deep-dyed Southerner."

It quoted him as saying: "We hope to avoid the usual Southernisms, undue sensitivity to outside criticism... We will maintain, however, that the Southern white man is a member of a persecuted minority constantly damned by U.S. liberals who ignore his considerable accomplishments... I am a Southerner by inclination as well as by virtue of two Confederate grandfathers, but it is high time we rejoined the Union."

On the editorial page, "The Men Who Won't Run" tells of a group of influential community leaders having been unable to find a slate of candidates for the City Council who were both able and willing to serve. While the present City Council was comprised of good and able persons, the failure to attract new candidates suggested the great flaw in American politics generally, and a failure of realization of the post-war pact made by G.I.'s to put forth new and vital blood into the political arena.

"Undermining in Moscow?" informs of the resigned or dismissed American information officer in Moscow, Armond Willis, having warned in Berlin that Moscow was full of American "pixies", men who disliked Russia and believed that war was inevitable, making its prospect dangerously high. In essence, he claimed that the Embassy was fostering ill will in Moscow.

The piece finds it disturbing that Mr. Willis was being called home, that such matters as he voiced deserved to be aired.

"The Hornets Ain't Right" reports of the beginning of the local baseball season and the escape from real world concerns it afforded to spectators at Griffith Park who came to see the defending league champion Hornets, under manager Spencer Abbott, open their season against Rock Hill. They had lost.

The spectators went away saying that the new team was okay but lacked hitting power. The next night, they lost again, and the fans were despairing, forgetting the distant problems of Texas City, the stalemate in Moscow, and even the more parochial matters of weight.

The Hornets needed hitting help and it looked as if it would be a long season without it.

A piece from the Durham Herald, titled "The Power of Appointment", tells of Governor Gregg Cherry, without veto power, having receded into the background during the legislative session, occupying his time seeing school children, but now coming back into the fore with 18 positions to be filled in the coming weeks. Most of the positions were only for prestige, but others were powerful and had substantial salaries.

The Governor's appointees often influenced legislation, compensating for his being the only Governor in the country without the veto.

Drew Pearson tells of a dinner held in honor of First Lady Bess Truman and former Secretary of State Byrnes at the home of former Senator Burton Wheeler of Montana. The ladies present began discussing the high prices in the country. The wife of Senator Lister Hill of Alabama stated that she knew an English woman who said she could return to England to buy her clothes and pay the cost of the trip more cheaply than buy her clothes in America. The wife of Senator Robert Taft, who had led the fight to remove controls, then bristled. Mrs. Hill quickly added that the taxes were still quite high in England—which made matters worse, as Senator Taft was also supportive of the Republican effort to reduce American taxes. Mrs. Taft contested that adding state and local taxes to the Federal burden meant that American taxes were actually higher.

At a Republican caucus on the labor bill, its House sponsor, Congressman Fred Hartley of New Jersey, contended that it was not, as labeled, anti-labor, but rather was emancipating of the workingman, though without explanation of his assertion except that it would curtail strikes.

Majority Leader Charles Halleck of Indiana appeared aware that some Republican members were disturbed by the bill, and stressed that he was not trying to demand blind support of it. One of those who made it clear that he was opposed to the bill was George Bender of Ohio. Another was Runt Bishop of Illinois, representing a coal-mining district. He thought it was class legislation, permitting large companies such as Ford and Chrysler to bargain for all of their plants, whereas smaller entities would have to bargain for themselves on a local basis because of the bill's ban on industry-wide collective bargaining. The ban would discriminate, for instance, against Southern coal miners, but would lead to a price war between North and South, favoring the Southern operators.

Representative Clare Hoffman of Michigan complained, however, that the bill was not strict enough, felt the measure to be "innocuous" and blamed Mr. Halleck for emasculating it.

Marquis Childs seeks to set straight those who foolishly prated in favor of removing supports from prices. He informs that only potatoes were currently below 90 percent of parity such that Government support was necessary to maintain the price. So much food was going to feed Europe that everything else was well above parity, eggs, at 96 percent, being the only other major product even close to the line.

The reason potatoes were below parity was that they could not be sent abroad cheaply enough, costing three times per pound the price of wheat, at 6 cents, because of the need to dehydrate potatoes for shipment and the consequent requirement that far more potatoes were needed. The result was that 22 million bushels of potatoes had been destroyed for lack of a market.

Only the U.S. and Canada were producing at above pre-war levels, and each country was producing at 40 percent above that level, thus with plenty to export.

Continued bread and wheat rationing after the war, rather than removal of the controls, could have obviated the situation by forcing consumers to eat potatoes instead, leaving more wheat for shipment to the hungry abroad. Those who called for free enterprise had also wanted farm prices to drop to their natural levels.

But they had forgotten the lessons of World War I and the Depression, when farmers in the Midwest in 1931 and 1932 revolted over losing their farms to foreclosure, talking freely of using violence to stop sheriffs' sales. They had poured out milk into the streets rather than accept Depression prices for it.

The farmers lobbied Washington to be treated as industry with protective tariffs, and so the Agricultural Adjustment Administration was brought into existence by Congress.

Wartime supports were scheduled to end at the end of 1948, but Mr. Childs says that it was not likely to occur. Neither party would likely endorse such a plan. The farmers could demand then that all tariffs and other protective devices for industry be terminated.

Samuel Grafton, in Manteo, N.C., tells of the general conservative opinion thereabouts, but wavering amid continued high prices even after the abandonment of price controls, something which had been thought would increase production and thus bring down prices. Now that plenty of product was on the shelves, no one could afford to purchase it. One storekeeper told him that he believed now that OPA had not been so bad after all.

The President's popularity was much greater in Manteo than it had been the previous summer when Mr. Childs had been there. There were practically no Republicans in the area. The Republicans had benefited in the fall by the turning from Mr. Truman to the only other available recipients of the vote. The wave which had produced that trend had now reversed.

Locally, racial intolerance was being studied. The high school was giving a play on the subject by Mrs. George Earle Harwood, once an actress, now running the library. While it specifically dealt with an Italian immigrant family who came to live in the South, the play named the other minorities in the country against whom there was discrimination: blacks, Jews, Indians, Mexicans, Japanese. He posits than in some parts of New York City, there would be greater trouble with such a play being presented than in Manteo.

Some of the exceptional tolerance was bred by the violence of the sea. One man who was a good sailor, and happened to be black, received respect because of his seamanship in storms, the reverence for his valued skill superseding any prejudice which might otherwise have arisen with the moon tides.

A local man informed him that people were closer to the elements in Manteo, causing them to think differently. Racial prejudice was worse in the "soft areas" such as the resorts, he said, as he waved his hand toward the rest of the world.

A letter from a Charlotte native living in Elgin, Ill., responds negatively to a Chicago Tribune piece which referenced Greenville, South Carolina, during a tour of the South by a reporter, thinks that The News could find things equally bad to say of parts of Chicago as the reporter saw in the South. There was good and bad everywhere, and the sooner newspapers stopped discussing the South as a foreign country, the better things would be.

The editors print a portion of the piece, which begins by quoting from a Confederate soldier monument in front of the Greenville library:

The world will yet decide,
In truth's clear, far off light,
That the soldiers who wore gray and died
With Lee—were in the right.

The reporter found slavery, the Civil War, and Reconstruction still lively topics of discussion in Greenville. He was informed that some of the teachers taught the Civil War their way, instructing students to ignore parts of the textbooks. But Abraham Lincoln was accorded more respect than expected for a Northerner. Reconstruction was covered in a chapter of a South Carolina textbook titled, "The State's Darkest Hour, or the Survival of White Civilization".

Aside from gratuitous comments regarding the colloquialisms and peculiar breakfast diet of rice, grits, or hominy alongside the eggs, instead of fried potatoes, the writer found segregation formalized amid continuing Jim Crow laws, extending to Memphis and New Orleans, where he also visited.

In New Orleans, he had witnessed white persons standing rather than sit in 16 empty rear seats of a streetcar going through a white neighborhood, the seats being reserved for black riders.

Despite the segregation, whites employed black domestic help who cared for white babies.

The Southerners admitted that it was a burdensome expense to maintain a dual educational system, but the black schools were operated cheaply. A principal of a black school in Greenville worked after hours as a bellhop in the hotel where the reporter had stayed.

It was doubtful that blacks were happier in the South than in the North, as many local people believed. Although the racial question was studied in schools, few appeared willing to repeal the laws enforcing segregation.

The letter writer appears not to realize that his "old Southern defensiveness", as W. J. Cash put it, was showing in his reaction to this basically honest portrait of the South of 1947—and, thereafter, the South of 1957, and, though changing by Federal enforcement, to a large degree still, the South of 1967. Had it not been for Federal enforcement, the South would never have changed.

Nor does it excuse anything in this horrid record to say, accurately, that Northern cities often were just as bad and maintained equally deplorable conditions under de facto segregation perpetuated, after the Southern migration during the War, by economic inequities and absence of equal opportunity to obtain well-paying jobs. It was all the result of racism, and there is no excuse for it.

Newsflash: The Civil War ended 149 years ago. The South lost, thank goodness, or it would be again part of Great Britain and probably France today.

Anyone who thinks that the South would have lasted more than a couple of years or so as an independent nation practicing slavery has not thought out the subject very fully, in light of actual history and conditions of the time, as opposed to indulging in Cloud-Cuckoo Land fantasies.

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