The Charlotte News

Tuesday, August 17, 1948


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that HUAC chairman J. Parnell Thomas accused President Truman of trying to conceal the facts of Communist spying from the American people. He said that he had evidence of a third major Government spy ring, not yet mentioned in the hearings, which the Committee would reveal in its hearings scheduled to start September 7. He said that he knew that locked in the files of the Executive Branch of the Government was the full story of the spy activity—which the President refused to release.

How did you know, then?

Mr. Thomas said, "The facts should have been before the public many months ago, and the conspirators behind the bars."

Well, we agree. And they would be.

Committee members were angry about leaks coming from the hearings held in executive session, specifically that of the previous day during which Alger Hiss had testified that he would let the Committee know after consulting with his counsel and lie detector experts whether he would be willing, as Whittaker Chambers had indicated, to take a lie detector test. Mr. Hiss had replied that he had heard that such tests were inherently unreliable and dependent entirely on the subjective interpretation of the particular examiner. He did not call them, however, "Twentieth Century witchcraft."

This date, Mr. Hiss would again testify before HUAC, meeting in executive session in New York for the second consecutive day. He would unexpectedly be confronted with Whittaker Chambers in person, the meeting having been accelerated from its originally scheduled date of August 25, and would ask to see Mr. Chambers's teeth in close proximity to determine whether Mr. Chambers might be George Crosley, with whom Mr. Hiss had been casually acquainted as a sub-lessee of his family's apartment in the period of late 1935 through spring or summer 1936. Mr. Crosley, said Mr. Hiss, had particularly bad teeth. Mr. Chambers would also testify briefly that he had undergone extensive dental work, performed by Dr. Hitchcock, since the time when he had known Mr. Hiss between 1934 and 1937. Mr. Hiss, upon further reflection after this close encounter and addressing directly to Mr. Chambers several questions, came to the conclusion that Mr. Chambers definitely was the man he had known as George Crosley, an unpublished freelance writer for magazines. Mr. Chambers, however, continued to insist that he had never used that alias, only "Carl", his Communist Party pseudonym, in the presence of Mr. Hiss and his family.

Mr. Chambers had also testified earlier that Mr. Hiss's brother, Donald, was also a member of the party but not as active or committed as Alger Hiss. Donald Hiss had testified previously, saying also, as his brother had initially, that he did not know Mr. Chambers and had never been a Communist.

The ambassadors of the Big Three met again in Moscow at the American Embassy following a meeting the previous night with Soviet Foreign Commissar V. M. Molotov. No meeting with Mr. Molotov was anticipated for this date. There was still no comment on the progress of the talks.

In Berlin, an American C-74 Globemaster, the largest plane ever to land in Berlin, delivered 25 tons of flour to the beleaguered city. The plane could carry four times the load of the C-54 Skymasters being used regularly in the airlift. Officials said they did not know when the Globemaster would be placed in regular service. The pilot said that he saw no Russian planes in the air corridor as the Globemaster flew from the American zone on its experimental mission.

President Truman signed into law the credit curbs on bank credit and installment buying, passed by Congress during the special session, but called it only a small fraction of what was necessary to curb inflation. He continued to favor wage and price controls and rationing on a limited basis.

Trans-Jordan claimed that Jewish forces attacked Arab Legion positions in Deir Abu Tor in southern Jerusalem this date but said that they were repulsed with several hundred killed.

Field Marshal Viscount Bernard Montgomery warned Britons, in a speech in Blackpool, England, that they had to be ready for a sudden attack from an aggressor. He called for 150,000 men and women to join the Territorial Army, the equivalent of the American National Guard. He regarded the present situation more as a truce than a true peace. All Britons were required to undergo a year of military training at age eighteen, but enlistment in the Territorial Army was voluntary.

In Chicago, 24,000 UAW workers at seven International Harvester plants went on strike. Wages were not involved. Grievances concerned apprenticeships and arbitration procedures.

In San Francisco, Mama's OPA, the nickname for the San Francisco Council of Women Shoppers, modified their absolute boycott of meat for its high prices, saying they would pay no more than 65 cents per pound for any kind of meat. Two downtown markets had engaged in a price war in the wake of the boycott, reducing meat as much as 44 cents per pound.

In Ormund, Fla., two sex maniacs were being sought in the seaside rape and murder of a young woman and the murder of her male companion. Four white youths and two blacks were being questioned by police in the homicides. The murders took place on a secluded stretch of beach near Daytona Beach. Footprints in the sand, pictured, suggested to police a pair of slayers.

In New York, baseball great Babe Ruth died at age 53, succumbing to a protracted bout with throat cancer, complicated recently by pulmonary problems. The nature of his two-year illness had not been disclosed prior to his death. His body would be on public display at Yankee Stadium this day and the next. The funeral, to be attended by Governor Dewey, would be held Thursday morning. Burial would be in Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Westchester County. The major radio networks intended to cover the memorial services this night. President Truman paid tribute to the slugger who had played professional baseball for 22 years, until 1935, setting 76 records, 62 of which stood at his death. He had hit 708 homeruns during his career, including his 60-homerun season of 1927, a record which stood until 1961 when Roger Maris hit 61, albeit in more games. According to the Catholic priest who administered last rites, Mr. Ruth died in his sleep after saying his prayers.

In Charlotte, a determination was underway whether to postpone for a week, until September 15, the opening of school because of the polio epidemic.

We ain't gonna go to no school nohow. Paw says we might up and do the south 40 instead.

On the editorial page, "It Could Have Been Worse" finds that the President, in his mid-year fiscal report predicting a deficit of 1.5 billion dollars and record peacetime spending of 42.2 billion, had placed the Republican Congress on the spot for having given a five billion dollar tax cut earlier in the year, passed over the President's veto.

The piece gives the President credit for his courage in vetoing the bill and finds GOP judgment lacking in passing it. It was likely, however, that the country would not have been better off had the Congress passed the President's tax cut plan calling for a $40 individual cut to be paid from an increase in corporate taxes. But Congress had not passed it and so the country only knew the results of what they had done.

Moreover, they had increased the budget of the Air Force to allow for 70 groups rather than the smaller increase recommended by the Administration from the current 55 groups. The Congress had done little regarding debt retirement, standing at 253 billion, possibly to go higher to pay for defense and foreign aid increases. The President was correct to criticize Congress for its spending and tax cut policies.

But the President had proposed spending on other things, slum clearance and public housing, Federal aid to education, expansion of Social Security, increasing the minimum wage, restoration of cut reclamation and power projects, ratification of the international wheat agreement and price control, among other things, all made part of the agenda for the special session. The Congress did not act on these programs.

The piece suggests that the country could not have paid for the programs even without the Republican tax cut. The GOP spenders, it concludes, could have done much worse had they adhered strictly to the President's recommendations.

"Cloud on Spy Ring Inquiry" finds it remarkable that no double-checking of stories appeared to have been undertaken by HUAC investigators before the current controversy developed between Alger Hiss and Whittaker Chambers, the former denying Mr. Chambers's accusation that Mr. Hiss had been a Communist with Mr. Chambers during the period 1934-37 and that Mr. Hiss had refused to leave the party when Mr. Chambers left, tearfully begging Mr. Hiss also to depart. Mr. Hiss had denied even knowing Mr. Chambers, though admitting the previous day of the possibility that he was one George Crosley whom Mr. Hiss had known only as a sub-lessee of the Hiss family apartment during the period of late 1935 through spring or summer 1936.

Now, the Committee planned to have Mr. Hiss meet Mr. Chambers, scheduling the meeting for August 25—though in fact occurring in executive session on this date. The failure of the Committee to have done its homework had led to public skepticism regarding its disclosures. The investigators had not done a good job of protecting rights of witnesses and producing a fair procedure.

Mr. Hiss's denial of being a Communist had shaken confidence in the stories of star witnesses Elizabeth Bentley and Mr. Chambers, both admitted former Communists, and, in the case of Ms. Bentley, an admitted courier of information to the Soviets—the admission of Mr. Chambers to like activity only coming later in the fall in the context of the defamation suit to be filed by Mr. Hiss against him and the subsequent grand jury investigation, the first time Mr. Chambers would implicate Mr. Hiss in espionage activity.

If the hearings wound up a fiasco in terms of public opinion, then the unfairness with which they had been conducted would be to blame. If the Committee had followed rules of evidence, then the idea that it was a "red herring" to distract from more important issues such as inflation, as charged by the President, or a smear campaign for political gain, would be less likely to obtain traction. Chairman J. Parnell Thomas and the other Committee members had not so far performed well in the public eye.

"No Escape for Us on the Moon" comments on the director of Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles taking patrons on a trip to the moon via the Observatory's telescope providing close-ups of the lunar surface. It was an unfriendly place, with temperatures in the day reaching a hundred degrees above the hottest Earth temperatures and by night, falling to 200 below zero. There was no water or air or edible vegetation.

But, the piece observes, there was also no Berlin, Oksana Kosenkina, Truman, Dewey, Wallace, or Stalin. It was peaceful, even if hot and cold.

Scientist G. Edward Pomeroy predicted that younger readers at the time in 1948 would visit the moon. Competition for a vantage point from which to wage war would lead to sending men to the lunar surface. If the U.S. got there first, it could set up a V-2 launching site and control the world. If another country got there first, the atomic bomb would be rendered useless.

The piece predicts that it would be awhile before man made the trip of 240,000 miles. The problem of storing adequate fuel for the journey would have to be resolved to accommodate passengers.

It finds that the idea of a pleasant retreat seemed thus to dissolve in practicalities. In any event, once the moon was politicized, there would be picnic rallies for various candidates and that would be too much to endure.

Drew Pearson tells of Senator Alben Barkley relating to Speaker Joe Martin, upon the latter congratulating him for being chosen the Democratic nominee for the vice-presidency, that it reminded him of the story of the man with two sons: one went to sea and the other became Vice-President and the father had heard of neither since.

Navy justice had not been significantly altered since the days of John Paul Jones. Annapolis graduates received preferential treatment in Navy courts. Recently, a junior officer was made the scapegoat in an incident involving Washington's Naval Research Laboratory, charged with stealing a generator, while his commanding officers received only a slap on the wrist, despite the generator being found bolted to the floor of the cabin of his commanding officer and an officer having signed papers authorizing its shipment. The commanding officer was reprimanded for unauthorized use of Naval property. A captain involved pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity and would likely be discharged without punishment.

Two bigshot gamblers stood trial the previous week in Macomb County, Michigan, a feather in the cap of the prosecutor, Ed Jacob. He had favored Mrs. Dudley Hay, pro-Dewey, to be the secretary of the RNC, opposed by the rest of the Michigan delegation, for Senator Vandenberg. Mrs. Hay had helped Mr. Jacob in his effort to clean up crime in Macomb County. He had pursued the two gamblers all the way to Reno, where they had lived for three years. Powerful GOP forces in Michigan were trying to defeat Mr. Jacob. The Dewey people were looking at him as a young prospect for a Dewey Administration.

A new place, labeled "Boom Town" by the G.I.'s, had grown up eight miles outside of Frankfurt, Germany, to maintain and repair the airplanes used in the Berlin airlift.

Top Air Force personnel admitted that the airlift was a rehearsal for future air operations. The Air Force did not intend to abandon its installations even if successful in getting the Russians to lift the blockade. Boom Town would remain, in case the Russians repeated the episode in the future.

Sumner Welles, former Undersecretary of State until August, 1943, comments on criticism received from the public for his statement two weeks earlier that the Progressive Party platform had been dictated by Communists who had taken control of the party machinery. One eminent college professor from a leading Eastern university wrote that he was part of the platform drafting committee and assured that it was the result of reasoned, patriotic debate, not dictated by anyone. Mr. Welles wonders whether democratic institutions were functioning when such a person could be so influenced by his ideology to be blinded to facts.

He relates that the process which led to the party platform was published and well known, that it had adhered to the Communist Party line, excluding all references to fixing any shared blame for the world crisis on Russia. It demanded that the U.S. abandon the atom bomb, withdraw its occupation forces and abolish the draft, while making no similar demands on Russia.

He suggests that the preference for the Soviet economic system over the boom-and-bust capitalist system had grown into a psychosis. Such adherents refused to see that the Soviets destroyed freedom while professing political liberty and democracy. No one would deprive them of their beliefs and right to express them, but no one would support the notion that enjoyment of freedom would also permit its destruction.

The Kremlin was pursuing a policy of imperialism more strenuously than had the czars of old, causing the West to lose the respect for the Soviet Union which had been extant during the war. The U.S. would have to stand firmly behind a policy of containment unless it was to abandon the concept of the free and peaceful world for which it had fought in the war.

Joseph & Stewart Alsop posit that there were hundreds of thousands of persons in the Western zones of Germany and Austria who shared the feelings of Oksana Kosenkina, the Russian school teacher who escaped the Soviet consulate in New York by jumping from a third-floor window and professed a desire to defect to the United States. Many since the war had fled the Soviet occupation zones to the West. Their numbers could not be ascertained as they usually hid their identities. Estimates pegged the figure at around a half million.

At the end of the war, there were millions of Russian nationals in Germany, Austria and elsewhere in Europe. Some had fought willingly for the Nazis while others were kidnaped by the Nazis as slave labor or because they had specific skills. After Yalta in February, 1945, many of these persons were placed in railway cars and sent East. Most were now either dead or in slave labor camps in Central Asia and Siberia or in the Kolyma gold mines. Tens of thousands of Soviet citizens had escaped repatriation after the war and so many mass suicides had taken place that the repatriation policy was terminated.

Many of these Soviet citizens were distinguished professors, scientists, generals, journalists, administrators and others of distinction. They had adopted false identities to escape detection by the Russian secret police.

The Alsops conclude that while the Kosenkina case should not take center stage to the exclusion of the more important issues at stake between the West and Russia, it was significant that so many Russians chose to live as ghosts, fugitives, and displaced persons rather than return to Russia. It exposed the weakness of the Soviet state.

A letter writer tells of being charged three cents for a cup of water at a Charlotte drive-in restaurant, charged, according to the carhop, for the cup rather than, per se, for the water. He finds it especially troubling with the high cost of living in the country attributable to food costs. Water remained cheap in Charlotte, and the ice in the cup should have added nothing to the cost.

Conical Dixie Cups, fitting within a metal conical receptacle, were produced, he points out, during the war so that water could be served in a cheap, disposable cup. The cups sold at wholesale for less than a penny apiece. They were still in production—and remained so for twenty more years or more. Having to pay three cents for the better made Dixie Cup was, he thinks, highway robbery without a revolver.

He regards the drive-in to be money-mad.

The letter writer's first name was "W".

It all went down on Penny Lane, here, there, and everywhere, perhaps also in Strawberry Field, somewhere deep in the Black Mountains of the Dakotas.

A letter writer from San Francisco says that in his many foreign travels, he had compiled a list of numerous people who wished to correspond with Americans and that he would be glad to supply names to persons who wished to write to them.

A letter writer finds it more disturbing than the disturbing revelations of disloyalty by certain persons named in the HUAC hearings that not only were many innocent people who were mentioned going to be unable to obtain employment, but also that the admitted former Communists who were the accusers, such as Whittaker Chambers, a senior editor for Time, had obtained such prestigious jobs. He supposes that Elizabeth Bentley would wind up teaching economics at Notre Dame.

A letter from the secretary of the Charlotte Group of the American Association of Social Workers thanks the newspaper for promoting the slum clearance campaign ongoing in Charlotte and the need for it.

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