The Charlotte News

Wednesday, May 21, 1947


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that in Greenville, S.C., the judge in the trial of the remaining 28 defendants accused of murdering Willie Earle on February 17, after abducting him at gunpoint from the Pickens County jail following his arrest for the murder the night before of a Greenville cab driver, instructed the jury after the conclusion of final summations by the defense and prosecution. He specially instructed the jurors not to allow racial prejudice to enter their deliberations. All of the defendants were white. Mr. Earle was black. All of the jurors were white, consisting of eight textile workers, two salesmen, a mechanic and a farmer. He also instructed that the fact of Mr. Earle being charged with a crime could not be raised as any form of mitigation or justification for his murder.

Twenty-one of the defendants were charged with murder, conspiracy to commit murder, and as accessories before and after the fact of the murder. The seven remaining defendants were charged with conspiracy and being accessories before the fact. The prosecutor had not sought the death penalty for any of the defendants. The jury, however, could render a verdict of guilty of murder without recommendation of mercy, making death a mandatory sentence.

In Chapel Hill, not reported on the front page, the four protesters, two white and two black, including civil rights advocate Bayard Rustin, who had sought to ride an intrastate bus to Greensboro in protest of Jim Crow laws, one white and one black sitting together at each of the front and back of the bus in contravention of the law, arrested for the conduct April 13, were found guilty of disorderly conduct the previous day in Recorder's Court and each sentenced to thirty days on the chain gang.

The V.F.W. of Winston-Salem had adopted a resolution to employ counsel to submit evidence that Communists were violating a newly enacted State law requiring registration of lobbyists and were advocating the overthrow of the Government by force. They were seeking a grand jury investigation. Both Senators Clyde Hoey and John Umstead of North Carolina as well as Congressman Robert Doughton and others within the Congressional delegation favored a Congressional investigation. One Representative, John Folger, stated that HUAC would be the logical committee to conduct such an investigation, but he had no confidence in that committee.

The charge was related to the information obtained by the Winston-Salem Journal, as reported Monday, that the striking Local 22 of the CIO United Tobacco Workers union was under the control of Communist leadership. Most of the striking members were black. Pursuant to the new labor law, being reconciled in conference as to the differing House and Senate versions, any union found to have Communists within its executive structure could be denied collective bargaining rights. Thus, it was reported, CIO was also considering its own investigation of the matter.

Near Ardmore, Oklahoma, an explosion blasted windows from a "Jim Crow" segregated Santa Fe passenger train coach, injuring two persons. The coach was partitioned into three sections. The blast originated aboard the train from within a water cooler in a toilet compartment. The train was en route to Dallas from Newton, Kansas. The motive for the explosion was not clear, but appeared to be effected by nitroglycerin. A special agent for the railroad theorized that it was left by safe-crackers—or perhaps just plain crackers.

In New York, the State Department of Social Welfare began investigating charges that the New York City Welfare Department was providing homes for some needy families and hotel suites at a cost to the City of $600 per month because of the housing shortage. The New York World Telegram reported that one family was being provided a midtown hotel suite at $136 weekly though the man earned $46 weekly.

At the Ford Motor Company in Detroit, 3,800 foremen walked off the job, but production continued normally. It was not known how long production could continue at a normal pace before being impacted by the strike.

The phone strike, ongoing since April 7, was all but over as 20,000 Western Electric workers returned to the job. At the height of the strike, 340,000 Bell System and Western Electric workers had been on the picket lines.

In the village of Taga in Palestine, five Arabs and one Jew were killed in a raid for which the Jewish underground organization Hagama claimed responsibility.

In Wroclaw, Poland, Karl Gallasch, commandant during the war of the Gross-Rosen concentration camp and sentenced to death for war crimes, beat the hangman, hanging himself in his cell.

In Champaign, Ill., two top Army flying officers and five other soldiers were killed the previous night when an Army B-25 crashed into a cornfield during a thunderstorm. Two were colonels and one a brigadier general in the war.

In Brooklyn, a frail housewife shot five times and killed her friend, the mother of two children, and was then turned in by her husband who was named by the dead woman's husband as a co-respondent in his divorce suit. The woman stated that she was "now free and happy", that the woman who had an affair with her husband was dead. The victim's husband had been wounded in the war.

In Grandview, Mo., Martha Truman, the President's 94-year old mother, appeared to be improving during the previous 48 hours as the President remained at her bedside. If she continued to improve, it was possible that the President might be able to return to Washington within a couple of more days.

In Rome, Francesco Nitti announced that he had failed to form a new government following the resignation of Alcide De Gasperi as Premier eight days earlier. He was said to be consulting first with the spirit of Alfonso Capone.

On the editorial page, "The Communists in Winston-Salem" discusses the Winston-Salem Journal report that Communists were predominant in Local 22 of the CIO United Tobacco Workers union at Reynolds Tobacco Company, a union presently on strike. The evidence was provided by two former union officials who reported the matter first to CIO president Philip Murray and then, in frustration, to the Journal. They contended that the strike was designed to be in furtherance of the interests of the Communist Party and they had a signed statement of the former treasurer of the party to back up the claim.

The local union, in its press release, had not denied the charge of Communist leadership, though objecting to the Journal reports and claiming that the newspaper was working in conjunction with the company, using anti-Red propaganda to break the strike. They claimed that Communist affiliation of the union leaders had nothing to do with the strike. One of the informant former union leaders, Gene Pratt, did not think the union Communist but believed that the Communist leadership was preventing a just settlement of the strike, and that the tactics were almost certain to lead to trouble, possibly a race riot.

There were signs that the Communist propaganda had served to divide the union along racial lines. Most of the strikers were black and most still working were white. Such racial division served the interests of the Communist Party to increase its membership.

The company, opines the piece, was within its right to refuse to deal with a union whose leadership was Communist, as the philosophy called for abolition of private ownership of industry and demanded greater loyalty to the party than the union, making collective bargaining difficult.

The editorial does not agree with the local that the report was an anti-Red smear to break the union, but rather was an important piece of journalism, to identify the Communist leadership in the union and thus to clarify its motives. It should serve as a reminder to the North Carolina CIO to clean its house.

"A Pension for the President" thinks it appropriate that two Missouri Congressmen, one Republican and one Democrat, had proposed a pension for the President amounting to two-thirds of the salary while in office, which would presently amount to $50,000. The President only had remaining $28,000 after taxes and expenses from his $75,000 annual salary, and White House living standards eroded $24,000 of that.

It had been suggested that former Presidents be made honorary Senators or Cabinet members. The piece questions the wisdom of that proposal but supports the notion of allowing a generous pension.

As most Presidents had not lived long after being in office, actuarially, the idea likely would not be very costly.

The only former President then living, Herbert Hoover, would survive to be 90, dying in 1964, a record for longevity after leaving office, over 31 years, only surpassed in 2012 by former President Carter. President Truman would live to be 88, dying in 1972.

Former Presidents consistently have been living longer after leaving office, starting, oddly enough, with Richard Nixon, who advised at one point that he greeted every day after his presidency with the idea that he was confounding his enemies by waking up.

"The Great Bubble-Gum Crisis" comments on an epidemic of sore throats among children leading to an investigation of the local bubble-gum supply. But it was not clear whether it was a food, a drug, or some sort of toy, and thus who should be investigating.

In any event, local health officials had given the supply a clean bill of health and that was a relief. The town could have scarcely afforded to have a tainted bubble-gum supply. Gum-leggers would have inevitably hit the streets illegally to hawk the stuff to the young, reclaiming old wads from underneath chairs and desks and movie seats. It was a staple of the young and was present to stay, no matter its smacking and popping torture to elders.

Now you understand the Seventh Crisis...

A piece from the Shelby Daily Star, "On Dropping an Accent", tells of an English professor at Northwestern University predicting that the Midwestern accent would soon be replacing both the Southern and New England accents, as the Midwest, between the Appalachians and Rockies, held the largest segment of the population, a population greatly migratory and not adoptive of accents endemic to the areas to which they moved.

The editorial predicts that when the migrants arrived in the South, the first question addressed to them would be, "Where are you all going?"

It would more likely be: "You sure do talk funny. Where you from?"

Drew Pearson tells of the startling revelations coming from the court martial of Lt. Commander Edward Little, who allegedly provided information to his Japanese captors in a prison camp, Camp 17 in Fukioka District in Japan, which led to the beating deaths of one U.S. enlisted man and the starvation to death of another, plus other beatings and punishments inflicted on other American prisoners of war in the camp. The other prisoners who testified stated that Lt. Commander Little sought to curry favor with the Japanese at the expense of his fellow prisoners. He had usurped the role of commander from his superior. A majority of the 1,700 prisoners filed complaints against him with the War Crimes Office.

The death of the man beaten by the Japanese came as a result of the Lt. Commander reporting him to the Japanese for stealing food. The soldier who died of starvation was being punished by the Japanese for buying rice from a Japanese soldier, reported also by Lt. Commander Little.

The two respective Japanese commanders of the camp when each of these incidents occurred were executed by the Americans as war criminals. Lt. Commander Little's name had arisen so much in each trial that it could not be ignored and he was court martialed.

The trial was being held in secrecy and the charges were not entirely clear, though it was rumored that he was charged only with conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman. His defense was understood to be that, under the Geneva Convention, he was required to maintain discipline among the men and report infractions to the Japanese commanders of the camp. But even one of the Japanese commanders had found the tale-telling offensive, suggested to the Army chaplain that he become the American camp commander in the stead of Lt. Commander Little, a repugnant snitch.

Mr. Pearson next urges, pursuant to the direction of the Department of Agriculture, redemption as early as possible of the current sugar rationing stamps before wheat shipments would be given priority over sugar during the wheat harvest.

Duly noted.

Marquis Childs, still in Albany, N.Y., continues his discussion of Governor Thomas Dewey, focusing on his relationship politically with new Senator Irving Ives, a fellow Republican. Mr. Dewey had supported Mr. Ives in the campaign the previous fall and thought him one of the most well-qualified persons to enter the Senate in some time. Mr. Ives had a long background in the State Legislature, where he had been responsible for founding the Cornell School of Industrial Relations, of which he was the first head.

Senator Ives had been very active in the Senate Labor Committee, helping to shape the Taft labor bill, successfully opposing amendments offered by Senator Taft to toughen the bill. Senator Ives wanted a bill which would pass over the President's veto, a position compatible with that of Governor Dewey. But Governor Dewey had remained mum on the labor legislation. He had, in the presidential election of 1944, campaigned in favor of maintaining the Wagner Act, though complaining that bureaucrats in the Roosevelt Administration were not administering it properly, favoring too much labor rights. Now, however, the Governor was not taking such stands.

Mr. Dewey had warned Senator Taft apparently that placing Senator Ives on the Labor Committee would, while being an astute move, also cause Senator Taft to lose some measure of control of the committee.

The Governor had put through legislation to bar State employees from the right to strike, angering labor union leaders. What he would do if elected President was not clear. But he was aware that in 1948, should Mr. Dewey become the party nominee again, having Senator Ives as a political ally would be an astute move.

Samuel Grafton tells of growing up in a Republican family and voting for Herbert Hoover over Al Smith in 1928. He had been a fan of the late Wendell Willkie when he ran against FDR in 1940. But the Republicans had lost him. He explains why, and why he believes they had lost many like voters.

Representative John Taber was one paradigmatic reason: he wanted to purge the Government of subversives, but objected to even the paltry 25 million dollars which the President indicated the program would cost. The desire to have everything, but to have it cost nothing, was the Republican dilemma. It was akin to the desire to have the world respect the United States but not to fund the Voice of America which promoted the country abroad. They wanted to build a defensive wall against Russian expansion in Greece, Turkey, and Korea, and also to cut the budget at home and reduce taxes.

Republicans wanted to stamp on the labor movement and win in 1948. They wanted to do away with many forms of free collective bargaining while having the labor movement respect free enterprise.

Mr. Taber wanted the FBI to make the final call on who among Government employees and applicants was subversive or not, and thus who would work for the Federal Government. Mr. Grafton suggests that if such practices were applied on the local level, having the police department determine municipal employees, there would be raised a hue and cry in such cities and towns. The reason for the proposal was that the FBI could do the job more cheaply than the Civil Service Commission. Again, it boiled down to dollars and cents, even if it meant compromising civil liberties.

A letter writer tells of three prize winning poems in the contest of the North Carolina Poetry Society. The judges were professors at Sacred Heart and Belmont Abbey Colleges. She submits the poems for publication and they are published.

You may read them on your own.

The first, titled "Like Pillars of the Temple", speaks of the solitude of life, coupled with the longing for pairing, while not wanting too much close affinity.

The second, titled "English Spring", recalls, in a Keatsian vein, reminiscent of "On First Looking into Chapman's Homer", English writers from Shakespeare to Emily Bronte, concluding: "The Spring makes all that ancient land young/ And promises great songs as yet unsung."

She was right.

The third, "To J. T. S.", is an elegy to a lost loved one, perhaps a soldier in the war.

The editors note that they were breaking their rule against inclusion of poetry in the "People's Platform" and inform that the winning entrant was a teacher at Burton Institute, the runner-up, a student at Queens College, and the third place winner, a teacher in Huntersville. All were female.

We note that our brief recollection related on April 21, in connection with the arrested bus riders in Chapel Hill, and the purchase by our papa of a Chapel Hill Weekly on November 24, 1963 as we visited Chapel Hill, is a bit misplaced. The memory is accurate, and the bus station in 1963 was where we stated, next to or nearby the Chapel Hill Weekly offices, on West Franklin Street. But, by 1963, it had been relocated apparently about five blocks west from its 1947 location, at the corner of Columbia and Rosemary Streets. The point, however, is the same. We hope that it is no more offensive than Shakespeare ascribing to Bohemia a coast in The Winter's Tale.

The beach in Chapel Hill, incidentally, last we heard, is in front of Connor Dormitory.

All of the recondite secrets of the universe, by the way, are contained within the tinsmith's Coffee Pot in Old Salem, also relocated a few blocks, in 1959.

A letter accuses Charlotte of "two-faced hypocrisy" on the issue of liquor, in that the drys were never to be heard from when enforcement was not taking place and liquor could be had easily from bootleggers, but were suddenly plentifully in evidence when the issue was a vote on legal controlled sale of liquor, curtailing the trade of the bootlegger.

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