The Charlotte News

Saturday, May 31, 1947


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that a day after 40 people had been killed in an unsuccessful takeoff from La Guardia aboard a United DC-4, in the worst commercial air disaster to date in the country, a four-engine Eastern Airlines DC-4 crashed at 6:30 p.m. from a thousand feet into a wooded area near Port Deposit, Md., in Whittaker's Barrens, close to the Susquehanna River, killing all 53 persons aboard, making it the worst commercial air disaster to that point in the nation's history. The plane was headed from Newark to Miami, and 49 of the dead were passengers.

The airplane had gone down at a 45-degree angle, but eyewitnesses differed on what occurred beforehand, many saying that they heard an explosion and saw the tail section rip away. Others said that it appeared to be flying smoothly when the engines suddenly emitted a loud roaring sound and the plane turned on its back, began to fall, exploding when it hit the trees.

The largest remaining wreckage was no more than 12 feet in length. Debris and dismembered bodies were strewn over an area 20 yards by 75 yards in dimension. By dawn, 52 distinguishable bodies had been collected by rescue workers, but most were mutilated beyond recognition.

The plane crash at La Guardia the previous day, the death toll of which had since risen by one more, was said by the Civil Aeronautics Board to have probably been caused by a freak, sudden gust of wind during a thunderstorm, causing the plane to be unable to lift off the ground during takeoff. According to the C.A.B. official, to his knowledge such a condition had never before caused a crash of a large plane.

On September 18, 1946, near Sabena, Newfoundland, a DC-4 had crashed in hilly terrain, killing 27 of 44 aboard. On October 3, 1946, a DC-4 had crashed on takeoff from Newfoundland, killing all 39 aboard. On October 12, 1946, a DC-4 tried to effect an emergency landing in dense fog in Washington, wound up crashing through a farmer's lumber pile, hit a well-house, broke through a high-tension wire carrying 2,300 volts, and finally came to rest in a valley where it burst into flames, destroying the ripped-asunder plane but nevertheless, through the calm presence of mind of the crew in evacuating all aboard, did not cause any passengers or crew the long walk in the shadows of Shangri-La or elsewhere, injuring only two. On January 6, 1947, a DC-4 caught fire as it landed in Chicago, again, thanks to the skill of the pilot who was able to put the plane down softly on a snow-laden runway absent its landing gear, enabled it to meet its end without injury to passengers or crew.

The series of mishaps during the prior nine months involving the DC-4, albeit some apparently ascribable to anomalous weather events, may have been forecasted by the fact that the State Department, before the war, did not object to the provision by Douglas Aircraft of the plane's plans to the Japanese, despite the official policy of the State Department discouraging such sales.

Douglas had also sold to Japan the plans for the DC-3, a plane which also came to have a checkered past. On September 7, 1945, one crashed into a cypress swamp near Florence, S.C., as it attempted an emergency landing after experiencing trouble, killing all 22 aboard. On September 4, 1946, a DC-3 crashed shortly after takeoff in Paris, killing all 21 aboard. The following day, near Elko, Nev., another one crashed on approach to the airport, killing at least 20 of 24 passengers aboard, though only one small boy was known at the time of the report to be alive. On September 28, 1946, one crashed near Alto Rio Doce, Brazil, killing all 25 aboard. On November 13, 1946, one went down in snow-covered mountains, 50 miles north of Burbank, California, killing all eleven aboard. Another DC-3 had crashed on January 13, 1947 near Galax, Va., killing all eighteen aboard. Another had crashed on takeoff on January 26, 1947 in Copenhagen, taking the life of opera singer Grace Moore and twenty others, the plane, according to Danish officials, carrying too much baggage weight to get off the ground. And, on January 16, 1942, Carole Lombard and 21 others had perished in a DC-3 when it crashed into a mountainside a few minutes after taking off from Las Vegas on a clear night, although the accident was ascribed to human navigation error rather than any fault of the aircraft.

President Truman signed the 350 million dollar aid bill for war-devastated countries in Europe and Asia, aimed at Italy, Trieste, Greece, Hungary, Austria, Poland, and China. Fifteen million was earmarked for the U.N. Children's Emergency Fund.

In Berlin, it was reported that the Soviets intended to confiscate the potatoes still on the farms in Brandenburg Province, to ensure adequate food supplies until the following harvest.

In Rome, Premier-designate Alcide De Gasperi, who had recently resigned, announced a new Cabinet.

Apparently, Mr. Nitti approved, if Mr. Capone was yet to weigh in.

The soft coal operators rejected the demand of John L. Lewis for a 35 cents per hour increase in wages, causing negotiations to be broken off, with only a month left until the Government would turn back the year-long operation of the coal mines to the owners. The operators had offered 15 cents per hour. The daily take-home pay under the Lewis proposal would be $13.05, while the operators' proposal would provide $11.35. The Southern operators, representing a quarter of the mines, were negotiating separately, and those negotiations were to continue the following Tuesday.

In Rowan County, N.C., voters were voting on a referendum for controlled sale of liquor through ABC stores. Some 4,000 had voted by noon.

Whether, as the late Tom Jimison once suggested of Charlotte, they were staggering to the polls in Salisbury to vote dry, was a yarn yet unwoven.

The Presbyterian Church, meeting in conference at Montreat, N.C., called for a positive stand on civil rights of minority groups across the nation, condemning all organizations and individuals whose purpose was to hinder minorities' exercise of civil rights or to deny rights on the basis of race, creed, class, or color, furthermore urging HUAC to investigate the Klan and other like groups, "akin to Fascism", with equal vigor applied to investigations of Communists, and that communities be on guard to place the influence of their churches on the side of forces which would seek to uphold the rights of all.

They also asked the President to maintain his promise to withdraw Myron Taylor as U.S. envoy to the Vatican at the point when the Italian treaty had been ratified, already accomplished.

As previously elucidated on the pages, some Protestant sects in the nation viewed having a representative at the Vatican as a violation of the First Amendment Establisment Clause, implying separation of church and state, posing by that position the delicate conundrum of how this objection fit in composite domestic union without violence done the anti-discrimination resolution, as the Vatican is a separate sovereignty, not just a Church.

On the editorial page, "Let Us Go on Bended Knees..." tells of the Republicans cutting a good many programs important to the South, as they sought to achieve economy in the budget. The school lunch program for poor school children was being slashed by several million dollars previously allocated to each of the Southern states, where it was most needed. The program had been saved by the votes of Southern Democrats, joining their party in one of the few votes in which they deserted the coalition of Republicans to defeat New Deal measures. But now the Republicans were stripping the program of its vitality.

The reduction in appropriation for the Soil Conservation Service would have an even worse impact on the South, where soil erosion had posed the greatest threat. Curtailing the funding would, according to the director, Dr. Hugh Bennett of North Carolina, threaten the work already done in this area, which prevented flooding and loss of arable land, potentially rent of its lending, resorting some of the land to dustbowl conditions as in the late Thirties, threatening the South with return to abject poverty.

The South would need beg the GOP for its assistance on these two programs as Republicans owed the South nothing politically. It was natural for them to want cuts in areas where their own constituents were least impacted. The lack of clout in the other party's house was another result of the one-party system pervading the South.

"The Presbyterians' Wise Choice" tells of the Presbyterian Church, meeting in conference at Montreat, electing Dr. John Cunningham, president of Davidson College, as its moderator for a year. The piece thinks it a good choice, as Dr. Cunningham was well qualified for the position, having served in several churches, including one in Winston-Salem, before coming to Davidson in 1941, where he had distinguished himself as an administrator.

"There Are Tests and Tests" tells of Senator William B. Umstead, always photographed unsmiling and dour in aspect, implying a strict and sober temperament, having belied that notion recently when a bill came before the Senate Committee on the District of Columbia, on which he sat, to provide for medical tests to determine whether a person was driving under the influence of alcohol. Senator Umstead thought it unfair as it would be a grave injustice to the man who could drink a quart of bourbon a day and not show any ill effects from it.

When asked then what he would propose in its stead, he replied:

Not drunk is he who from the floor,
Can rise again and drink once more,
But drunk is he who prostrate lies,
And can neither drink nor rise.

The piece instructs that the bill, according to the U.P., was buried forever by the response.

We might add, with sufficient experience in store:

Drinking in The News daily,
Leaves one oft drunk as if alcohol
Had passed the lips frailly, not gaily,
As a jailer opens the cell of folderol,
Then, sensing the closer tents of truth-telling,
Shuts clam-tight the shell again:
A lesson that storms will intercede
To impede smooth-sailing,
To freight the greater rhapsody
In prosody's mangled, drowned flailings,
Until note gives no sound but in sleep,
To transmit the greater mean in round,
And quizzical Doubt is forever a shadow
To hang the ground with every last gleaning.

But when the drunk is done,
And, recovering, you find holes still in the lore,
Yet you rise, and try, try again, once again,
To go up and over the hill, falling down, to soar.

A piece from the Greensboro Daily News, "Heat and Higher Education", tells of a heated meeting in Raleigh by the Board of Trustees of the Greater University, regarding an issue over hiring for the faculty of Woman's College in Greensboro, (later UNC-G), Randall Jarrell, poet and former literary editor of The Nation, and East Carolina Teachers College Professor Dennis Cooke, prompting concern that the latter was kidnaped for the purpose and that the former was too soft, being a poet, to qualify for the faculty. The feathers ruffled were softened and both were finally approved.

The piece hopes that future meetings would be well air-conditioned, not mentioning the probable concomitant hope that they would, by the lights of poets and other scholars, also be Well eruditioned.

Drew Pearson tells of a Chicago Tribune cartoon painting Senators Arthur Vandenberg of Michigan, George Aiken of Vermont, Wayne Morse of Oregon, and Charles Tobey of New Hampshire as "Benedict Arnolds". But the Michigan Senator took it in stride and good humor, sat with the other three Senators, Morse, Aiken, and Tobey, when they invited him to do so in the Senate cloakroom, as the "radicals", they said, had to stick together.

He next tells of a removed portion of a Senate bill passed in the 79th Congress which had preserved patents, resulting from research funded by the Government pursuant to war contracts, with the public rather than with the corporations who engaged in the research. Senator Harley Kilgore of West Virginia had originally sponsored the bill. An amendment to remove this provision was passed 50 to 28 by the Senate recently, sponsored by Senator Alexander Smith of New Jersey. All Republicans, save two, and seven Democrats, including North Carolina's Senator Clyde Hoey, voted for the amendment. Mr. Pearson provides the list of those voting yea.

He warns that if it became law, then the same thing could occur in the future which had taken place after World War I, when the patents were allowed to vest in the corporations. In the lead-up to World War II, Alcoa made an agreement with a German cartel to withhold magnesium, important in the manufacture of airplanes, one reason General MacArthur did not have adequate air defense in the Philippines at the time of the attack in combination with that on Pearl Harbor in December, 1941. Standard Oil of New Jersey had made a deal with I. G. Farben in Germany to keep synthetic rubber patents away from America, causing a severe rubber shortage during the war, when the natural rubber from the Philippines, Malaysia, and the East Indies was cut off.

Only 37 of the first 12,000 war contracts had provided for the public benefiting from the research. Thus, a serious danger of history repeating itself was at issue in this bill.

Joseph & Stewart Alsop find it likely, in light of Henry Wallace's successful speechmaking tour of the country following his return from Britain and France, that a third party would form in the ensuing months preceding the 1948 election, with Mr. Wallace becoming the candidate.

It was a good prediction.

They tell of the newspapers not paying proper attention to the large crowds Mr. Wallace had attracted in Chicago, California, the State of Washington, and other places, even if they had been organized, they assert, by the Communist Party and extreme leftist labor groups. Others came to gawk, as people went to the fair to see a two-headed calf.

But to Mr. Wallace and his entourage, crowds were crowds and his ego had been sufficiently infused with confidence to cause him to run.

Both the White House and the Republicans had dispatched observers to the tour. In Chicago, 28,000 people had turned out at the rally and paid for the privilege. While thus providing money to potential campaign coffers, Progressive Party recruiting had been enhanced. They state that the Communist Party had been using the Progressives as a front. Thus, the third party was already in existence and it only needed a signal from its leader to come fully into being.

The effect of such a party would be to encourage the Republicans to nominate a very conservative, isolationist candidate, and could mean that this candidate would be elected by the third party cutting into Democratic strength in key industrial states. That would be fine with Mr. Wallace and the Communists, as they wanted the next President to be conservative and isolationist, to neutralize the country in world affairs. Mr. Wallace was sure that a Republican Administration would bring on a depression, opening the door for him to contest seriously for the office in 1952.

But the Communists had the final word on whether a third party would be launched and they had not yet given that word.

The overriding lesson of the Wallace tour was that the President and Republican leaders had a job before them to convince the American people that peace and prosperity could be achieved within the context of their respective foreign and domestic policy approaches.

Samuel Grafton labels "obscurantist" the effort of the Administration to have Congress allocate 25 million dollars for the purpose of establishing loyalty of Government personnel. The sum implied that there were 25 million dollars worth of Communists and other disloyal people within the Government, even if the sum was intended to enable a careful study of the situation to avoid trampling civil liberties. The opposition was using it to make it seem thusly worthwhile, transforming it into a more obscurantist movement than the initial thrust. Thomas Dewey was on the bandwagon, labeling it, in a recent speech in New York City, as a "$25,000,000 spraying with DDT".

Another obscurantist issue was the "luxury relief" being afforded the homeless of New York because of the shortage of low-income housing, resulting in the city renting $300 luxury apartments for 37 families on relief. Only three of those families, however, were so housed for longer than a week. But conservatives were angry and a State investigation had begun. Rumors circulated that all relief families were thus being housed in the lap of luxury, living the life of Riley.

The real story underlying this red herring was the desperate housing shortage resulting from Congressional inaction on the long-term housing bill.

With real problems looming, inflation and pending recession, it was easy to understand why the leadership in the country was focusing the attention of Americans on such spurious issues.

"The stock market droops, prices are churning in disarray, and meanwhile the shrill cry of the distractor is heard in the land, calling, "Here's a hot one"—meaning, of course, one that has nothing to do with anything, however ominous a shadow it can be made, in skilled fingers, to cast upon the wall."

You think you've seen obscurantism. Wait'll you get a load of the shadows of Whittaker's barren chambered nautilus and his little furry friends down on the farm, inside the pumpkin, with the glass-tongued slipper, after the Roswellians arrive...

A letter writer sets forth his views, as addressing the colonists at Philadelphia on the Declaration of Independence, regarding his belief that the issue in the upcoming referendum on controlled sale of liquor was not whether it would lead to an increase or decrease of consumption of intoxicants but whether control would be regulated or remain under racketeers who operated through bootleggers, with the profits going to serve illicit enterprises rather than legitimate concerns.

He believed that the ABC system would strengthen democracy.

Well, doubtful, but we enjoyed your stump speech all the same, Mr. Adams. Now, please sit down and calm your nerves with a draught or something.

More to say...

Okay. Far be it from us to try to stifle your highness.

A letter writer informs that the first Sunday in June was National Shut-Ins Day. He had been a shut-in at Black Hospital in Spartanburg for the previous eighteen years and wanted Congress to recognize the day officially, sought announcement of it within the pulpits.

Mark it down so that you can be a Shut-In tomorrow.

That way, you can learn to play.

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