The Charlotte News

Thursday, December 30, 1948


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the Dutch had announced seizure of the last economically important area in the Indonesian Republic, the Djambi oil fields of southern Sumatra. Despite the Indonesian scorched earth policy, the fields were seized largely undamaged. The action came in advance of the ceasefire deadline, ordered forthwith by the U.N., which the Dutch had promised to honor by midnight December 31 in Java and two or three days later in Sumatra—whenever they damned well pleased. Reporters were barred by the Dutch from visiting the fronts.

In China, a Nationalist spokesman said that the Chinese military leaders had gathered in Nanking at the invitation of Chiang Kai-Shek for "consultations rather than a conference", meaning individual rather than collective meetings. The spokesman said that it was untrue that Vice-President Li Tsung-Jen supported a negotiated peace with the Communists, was said to be in agreement with Chiang to fight on. Rumors had it that Chiang had been convinced to step aside, until the Chinese Communist radio labeled Chiang and Madame Chiang "war criminals" to be tried by a people's court, at which point the plans were changed.

The President had ordered the State Department to coordinate all foreign military aid programs and mesh them with the Marshall Plan. Military aid was being provided to Greece, Turkey, China, and was about to be provided to the Western Alliance nations, France, Britain and the Benelux countries. Plans also called for joining, along with Canada, the five nations in the North Atlantic Alliance, to become NATO in the spring. The President intended to outline the program to the new Congress in a foreign policy address.

The Vatican excommunicated all Hungarians who had anything to do with the arrest of Josef Cardinal Mindszenty for allegedly plotting against the Communist Government, spying, treason, and black market money dealings. Ten other church figures were also being held.

Representative Edward Hebert of Louisiana, a Democratic member of HUAC, accused the GOP leaders of the Committee of suffering from "publicity mania", participating in "hysteria for newspaper headlines". He said that he was referring primarily to Congressman Karl Mundt and Congressman Richard Nixon—apparently forgotten by the latter over 22 years hence when reminiscences of the good old days were fond if not fresh.

The statements were in the wake of announcements by Mr. Mundt and Mr. Nixon that they had questioned Whittaker Chambers at his Maryland farm for five hours on Tuesday night and developed "new leads" in the hundt for spies. Mr. Hebert said that he was not informed of the plan to do so. He found it odd that the two worst transgressors against the rights of the accused to be heard were championing reforms in rules of the committee to protect those rights. He said that he found the behavior essentially to admonish others "to do as I say and not as I do". He also believed that responsible Committee members should bear the criticism for HUAC's smearing of Dr. Edward U. Condon of the Bureau of Standards and of Laurence Duggan, who died December 20 after a fall from his 16th floor office, shortly after a Committee witness in executive session had claimed that Whittaker Chambers told him that Mr. Duggan of the State Department had provided Mr. Chambers secret documents, a claim Mr. Chambers denied after the death of Mr. Duggan.

House Democratic leaders had agreed tentatively to curtail the powers of the Rules Committee to pigeonhole legislation. The new rule would allow a discharge petition by vote of either 100 or 150 members. Presently, a majority of the House membership was required for such a petition to dislodge legislation from the Rules Committee. The path to the floor for civil rights legislation and labor bills would thus be eased. It was also agreed that a new committee would be set up to establish rules of fair treatment for witnesses appearing before Congressional committees, including but not limited to HUAC.

Another rule change, aimed at Congressman John Rankin of Mississippi, presumably to limit his seniority status for chairmanships, was also being discussed but no details were provided.

It may have been aimed at examining his bean for defects.

In Indianapolis, an eight-year old boy was awarded $22,500 in damages for severe burns after his Gene Autry cowboy suit caught fire as he played with matches, prompting suit of the cowboy star and the companies marketing the suit for negligence for the rayon suit being highly inflammable. The amount of the award was determined in a settlement with the insurance companies but had to be approved by the court as the plaintiff was a minor.

In North Carolina, highway fatalities were about 13 percent less than in 1947, with 726 thus far in the year compared to 836 the prior year. It was estimated that about a dozen more would occur before the end of the year. The death toll in 1946 had been 1,026. The most deaths in any one month in 1948 occurred in November when 79 died on the highways, the same number as in 1947 for that month.

Tom Fesperman of The News concludes his three-part series on Governor-elect Kerr Scott, by relating of Lieutenant-Governor-elect Hoyt Patrick Taylor, a lawyer who appeared never to have been near a plow, selected his words carefully, in contrast to the off-the-cuff style of Mr. Scott, a dairy farmer. Also unlike the new Governor, Mr. Taylor liked everyone, criticized no one. He did not think of himself as being in politics, but rather in public service. Mr. Fesperman tells of his duties as Lieutenant-Governor and imparts of his background, a Wake Forest graduate and native of Winton, N.C., in sparsely populated Hertford County.

In Lumberton, N.C., an Indian woman was fatally shot accidentally in the face with a shotgun the previous day while nursing her infant on the tenant farm where the family lived. Her husband was preparing to go rabbit hunting when the gun accidentally discharged. An eyewitness confirmed the account.

In Aulander, N.C., yeggs broke into the local branch of the Bank of Ahoskie at around 3:00 a.m. and used a wrecker to haul away a safe containing between $30,000 and $35,000. They pulled the safe out through the bank's front door. Investigators found an outer safe door in the street, but the safe also had an inner door just as strong.

If you see a wrecker hauling a safe, call the FBI or the police. It does not belong to them.

A woman who lived nearby said that she heard a lot of noise downtown at the time of the robbery.

—What's that?

—Just the cats again, probably. Go back to sleep.

In Charlotte, the former superintendent of the City Water Department, W. E. Vest, died at age 82. He had been superintendent for 36 years.

The News gave top honors for the year for books to Norman Mailer's The Naked and the Dead in the fiction category and to Robert Sherwood's Roosevelt and Hopkins in non-fiction, as further addressed on page 8-A.

On the editorial page, "Gregg Cherry—A Good Governor" finds illuminating the response of Governor Cherry recently to a reporter's question about returning to a rented house after living in the Executive Mansion for four years. He had said that he had never gotten so high that he could not get back down without getting hurt.

It finds him essentially a man of humility, able thereby to uncover pretension in others. He was as approachable as the Capitol janitors. He remained close to the people and had a keen sense of humor.

Some would say that he had been too cautious and conservative, but he had also managed to keep his feet on the ground. He believed that the Democrats ought fight their battles within the party, had not supported the Dixiecrat revolt of 1948.

He had acted positively and quickly in the wake of the attempted lynching of Buddy Bush in May, 1947 in Jackson, N.C., in the immediate wake of the acquittal in Greenville, S.C., of the 28 taxi driver defendants in the lynching of Willie Earle the previous February, ordering vigorous prosecution of the defendants in a second county when the first county grand jury refused to indict. That had cost him support among the racists.

He provided support for improvement of the State's mental hospitals, something for which he wanted to be remembered more than anything else. He also oversaw great improvement in the state's roads and in education, with school appropriations rising more during his term than in many decades.

It concludes that he had continued in the long line of North Carolina's "Good Governors".

It should be noted that North Carolina Governors at that time were limited to one term in office and also had no veto powers.

"Welcome to New Residents" offers welcome to the 15,000 new Charlotte residents in the new year by virtue of annexation. The City was gaining more than were the new residents, who were not so excited about becoming Charlotteans for the increase in their taxes. It proceeds to list the advantages, however, of living within the City and provides a table listing the gradual expansion of Charlotte from 1885, when it embraced only 2.22 square miles and had a population of 8,405, to 1949 when, after annexation, it would consist of 30 square miles and include an estimated 130,000 people.

"Licensing Boards" tells of Charlotte's State Representative Frank Sims having launched an attack in 1947 on the State's licensing boards, calling for evaluation of the 21 different boards which licensed everything from photographers to undertakers, in addition to the usual licensing of doctors, dentists, pharmacists, and lawyers. The boards were using their status to protect against competition. Complaints to the boards against licensees were few and so the claimed advantage of oversight was not being realized.

The previous October, a special commission recommended to the Governor that one central licensing board be set up to supervise the individual boards, to act as a reviewing mechanism for board expenditures and complaints of serving their own interests.

The piece believes that more was needed. Some of the boards needed to be eliminated, were of questionable constitutionality as protecting the health, morals, safety and welfare of the people under the State's police powers. The Legislature should also set up precise standards for the boards. Only then could the new super-board function as intended.

"The Guild System—1948 Model" addresses the same topic, finds Chester Davis of the Winston Salem Journal-Sentinel, following an in-depth look into the board system, to have labeled the boards an attempt to revive the European guild system. That system went by the boards for its adverse effect on the European economy.

The various boards operated at a profit. The Board of Cosmetic Art, for instance, had a surplus of $54,000 in 1947, from its collection of dues. Only 12 of the 21 boards were required by state law to make an audit and report to the Governor and State Treasurer. And Mr. Davis had found that some of those twelve occasionally forgot to file a report.

The system of punishment under the boards was also erratic. A person practicing veterinary medicine without a license could be sentenced to jail for 30 days, whereas a person practicing dentistry without a license could get no more than a $50 fine.

Well, that's because the canines in North Carolina are far more important than being incisive.

Mr. Davis had also found than the punishment for an unlicensed tile-layer was greater than that for an unlicensed architect, and if the building was worth less than $15,000, there was no punishment to the latter at all.

Well, think about it. You walk on bad tiles and you can get hurt quickly in a slip-and-fall. But whoever got hurt from bad drawings? And you'd have to do away with all your lean-to dwellings as unprofitable. Whoever heard of such a thing?

The unlicensed doctor was also punished less than the unlicensed tile-layer. Now, that is a horse of a different fever. But if you have proper tile laying, you are less likely to need the doctor.

North Carolina had more licensing boards than any other state, coming to be as they had from pressure applied to the Legislature by the various self-interested trades and vocations. It recommends action in the new 1949 session to take control of this "monster" which had been created through time.

They all needed to lay some tile and understand first-hand how valuable the task is to good health and welfare.

A piece from the Richmond Times-Dispatch, titled "Persimmons and Catfish", suggests that if the man who had lived alone in the woods near Fayetteville in rude cardboard huts, dining on the menu embraced by the title, plus an occasional rabbit or opossum, had emerged after twenty years in good health and spirits, then the line formed to the right for the like escape from the cruel world which had passed by everyone else in the meantime.

Drew Pearson tells of the U.S. having received advance notice that the Dutch would attack the Indonesian Republic in Sumatra and Java. The American member of the U.N. Good Offices Committee in Indonesia warned the State Department of it a month prior to the initiation of the "police action" by the Dutch. He questioned the Dutch about it and was told that their Army was merely preparing for routine maneuvers. The Dutch informed the State Department that Communists had infiltrated the Republic and were planning a revolt in February, that the Communists would then use Sumatra and Java as a base for taking over British Malaya, Borneo and the Philippines. U.S. observers stated, however, that Communists in Indonesia were less than ten percent of the population. Some U.S. military commanders nevertheless winked at the action and declared it an "internal problem". Such conflict between the State Department and the Pentagon was nothing new in the Truman Administration.

Right after the police action, the State Department drafted a strong denunciation, toned down, however, by the White House, likely at the behest of the military. Even so, the U.S. protest placed the Dutch nearly in the same category as the dictators who brought on World War II.

The Dutch meanwhile were upset at the curtailment of 14 million dollars worth of ERP aid to Dutch Indonesia as a sanction for the action, despite that being a drop in the bucket to overall aid to both Dutch Indonesia and the Netherlands, the latter remaining untouched. They effectively threatened to become cozy with the Russians if that would be the U.S. reaction to their attempt to fight Communism. The President, however, was not cowed by the threats. Moreover, the State Department believed that the "police action" would give Communism positive propaganda rather than deter it.

During the U.N. mediation in Indonesia, Dr. Frank Porter Graham, president of UNC, had become so frustrated that he departed and went home. His replacement was also quite sympathetic with the Indonesian Republic, even though pro-Dutch when beginning the assignment.

While the State Department had for long been coddling of the Dutch, now the issue was whether the U.N. could enforce its authority, which thus far the Dutch had flouted. If it were permitted, then the U.N. would be reduced to little more than the old impotent League of Nations.

He notes that France and Belgium helped to undermine U.N. authority by not voting with the U.S. to order a halt to the Dutch attack.

John M. Hightower tells of two to three billion dollars worth of military aid likely to be provided to Western Europe in the 1949-50 fiscal year. But most of it was already in storage in U.S. military warehouses, could be shipped at a fraction of its original cost, and so the President was expected to ask Congress only for about a billion in appropriations for the purpose, primarily for shipping.

The Berlin airlift was costing between 70 and 80 million dollars more than anticipated and allocated by Congress during 1948-49. The President's advisers were said to be recommending about a ten percent increase over the 325 million dollars in the current fiscal year spent on Turkish-Greek military aid under the Truman Doctrine. Aid to China in the coming year remained a question mark. About 400 million dollars in total aid had been appropriated for the current year. The U.S. had suspended 70 million in reconstruction aid for fear it would only benefit the Communists.

American spending on foreign aid was concentrated where the threat from Communism was greatest, in Europe. Security was the primary objective and political considerations were therefore secondary. The Communist threat in China was too distant to be considered as significant as that in Europe. The Communist threat, however, was not considered to be limited only to Russia. But the Chinese under Chiang had not demonstrated that they could save themselves. It would thus take a military miracle to restore confidence enough to open the purse strings. Consequently, aid to China would likely slow to a trickle in the coming fiscal year.

Marquis Childs tells of the Hoover Commission report likely to produce changes in the structure of Government, even though it had been said that with the Truman victory, the President would ignore the report. But the President had taken a keen interest in the Commission and had been friendly to former President Hoover generally. Mr. Hoover was suspicious of the New Deal and the greater complexity of government it had brought to Washington. But the people had shown repeatedly since 1932 that it was the program they preferred.

Unless some changes were made consistent with the report, then two million dollars appropriated by Congress for the work of the Commission would be wasted. The Commission had worked long and diligently to render its recommendations, even if they were intended to be for a Republican Congress operating under President Thomas Dewey.

Samuel Grafton, no longer carried by The News, discusses the President's recent remark to the press in Kansas City that there were several Russian leaders anxious to have an understanding with the U.S. and its stimulation of speculation as to who these Russians were and what prospect for peace they held open. The gloomy mood pervading the cold war had suddenly brightened with this possible olive branch at Christmas. The same sudden change in mood had taken place the previous spring when V. M. Molotov suggested a conference, only to have the U.S. turn it down, the President stating that he would always entertain a visit from Premier Stalin in Washington. But then when Stalin agreed to meet regarding Berlin, excitement again took hold, until those meetings failed.

Yet the fact that such announcements had such an ameliorative effect on the people suggested the tactic of friendship as a policy maneuver. Every Communist expected American hostility; the prospect of American friendship would frustrate their propaganda. Friendship thus could be made a tool for carrying out high polcy, one which could disorganize the opposition more effectively than could hostility.

Similarly, Soviet hostility had made life easy for American conservatives who had come to expect the reaction. Russian friendship would confound the expectation.

A letter from the chairman of the Mecklenburg County Tuberculosis Association thanks the newspaper for its support in its recent successful drive. He points out that during 1948, 43 people in the county had died from the disease and so the money was greatly needed to help in early discovery and treatment.

Sixth Day of Christmas: Six Beasts a-Laying.

Framed Edition
[Return to Links
Page by Subject] [Return to Links-Page by Date] [Return to News<i><i><i>—</i></i></i>Framed Edition]
Links-Date Links-Subj.