The Charlotte News

Monday, October 12, 1953


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that at Panmunjom, the Communists indicated this date that they were prepared to begin their interviews on Wednesday of the North Korean and Chinese prisoners of war who were resisting repatriation to their homelands, a process of "explanation" provided by the Armistice and set to last until December 24.

Meanwhile, the U.N. Command charged that the Communists had shipped two crated combat aircraft into North Korea in violation of the Armistice. A Command spokesman said that an urgent request for investigation had been handed to the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission, the four-nation body charged with policing the truce. The new U.N. Far East Commander, General John Hull, told newsmen that he knew of no serious violations of the Armistice by the Communists, though there had been indications of some violations.

In Georgetown, British Guiana, a general strike had been called by the ousted leftist Cabinet ministers, paralyzing two of the country's 14 sugar factories this date, and halting about 40 percent of the cane-cutting. Workers on at least two sugar estates, the main source of revenue for the colony, answered the call for the strike, but major effects were not expected until the following day, as it was Pan-American Day, a holiday in the colony. An anti-British boycott had also been ordered by ousted Prime Minister Cheddi Jagan's People's Progressive Party, based on their country having been invaded by "foreign troops" and their democratic rights having been taken away. The British had sent troops to the colony in response to the request of the Colonial Governor Sir Alfred Savage, given broad emergency powers, in response to complaints that the PPP were plotting to bring the colony under the domination of Communism linked with the Soviet Union.

In Indianapolis, Congressman W. Sterling Cole of New York, chairman of the Joint Atomic Energy Committee, said this date, in a speech prepared for the state and national officers of the American Legion, that the U.S. should assign wartime urgency to its hydrogen bomb program because Russia might shortly have hundreds or even thousands of hydrogen bombs, that the Soviets had it within their capacity to outproduce the U.S. in that area if the U.S. let its hydrogen bomb production falter. He pointed out that the Soviets had taken only four years between their first atomic bomb test and their first hydrogen bomb test, whereas it had taken the U.S. seven years from the time of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs in August, 1945 to develop its first thermonuclear device, tested on Eniwetok the prior November 1. He found the time differential not very comforting, indicative of the Soviets having progressed with unanticipated speed, based on their assignment of supreme priority to the project. He said that the current U.S. stockpile was large enough to inflict a devastating reprisal on any aggressor but that it was not big enough and bold enough to answer the challenge of the hour, encouraging hydrogen bomb development comparable in scale, cost and speed to the Manhattan Project of World War II. He said one of the more troubling aspects of the Soviet development was that harnessing of hydrogen energy for military purposes might be far easier than was commonly supposed a few years earlier, that the Soviets, previously thought able only to manufacture such weapons in small quantities, would likely be able to manufacture large numbers. The piece notes that reliable reports had been made that U.S. scientists had found a way to trigger the hydrogen bomb without employing a conventional atomic bomb as the heat-producing trigger.

The President, recovering from a bout of intestinal flu which had confined him to living quarters in the White House the previous day, had returned to his desk during the morning of this date, and the White House press office said that all of his appointments were on schedule for the day.

In Detroit, evangelist Billy Graham and the mother of a Minnesota soldier, who had refused repatriation from North Korea, asked a nationwide television audience the previous night to pray for the woman's son, that he might be reached by the "word of God". The telecast had been carried by more than 35 television stations.

In Dallas, Tex., a nude black man was jailed this date after being captured by four or five other black citizens, in response to a community alert having been issued in the wake of the September 30 rape-slaying of a white housewife, who said in her dying breaths that a black man had stabbed her. Homicide Captain Will Fritz—who, ten years later, would lead the initial investigation of the assassination of President Kennedy and was present at the time Jack Ruby fatally shot the accused assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, two days later—said that the man had been released hours earlier after being questioned, along with several other black men, regarding the rape and the homicide. The arrested man contended that he had been in jail on a drunk and disorderly charge at the time of the slaying, but a check of records corroborated only his jailing on September 29, indicating his release the next day, prior to the slaying. Police said that the place where he was caught, at an intersection near downtown, was not far from the home of another victim of a rape, beaten and left for dead, occurring several days prior to the rape-murder. The September 30 attack had been the culmination of a series of sex offenses and home entries attributed to a naked black man, causing local residents to make runs on sporting goods stores to purchase firearms, and to form neighborhood patrols. The arrested man said that he had not killed the woman. Captain Fritz said that the man had been picked up for questioning the previous week after he had called and named another black man as the killer of the woman. A Dallas patrolman, T. M. Hansen, Jr.,—who would later testify to the Warren Commission that he had known Jack Ruby since around 1950 or 1951, patrolled and directed traffic in the area of his Carousel Club in 1963, saw him and exchanged greetings on either the morning of November 21 or 22 in front of City Hall on Harwood Street, in the basement of which Mr. Ruby shot Mr. Oswald on November 24—, said that it was a good thing they reached the man when they did, as the black citizens who caught him were armed with boards and "might have beaten his brains out." A $7,000 reward had been offered for information leading to the conviction of the woman's killer, and another sizable fund was being collected for her seriously ill widower and their four-year old son.

In Albuquerque, a 24-year old man was arrested, following a 20-mile chase by the New Mexico State Police the previous night, on a warrant out of Pennsylvania, charging him with being the "Phantom of the Turnpike" murderer. The man told a reporter a few hours after his arrest, as he lay shivering in a small, dark cell of the county jail, that he was not guilty and knew nothing of the murders, that he was just cold and tired. He stood accused of shooting two men on the Pennsylvania Turnpike the prior July, both of whom were truck drivers, shot in the head as they slept in their parked trucks, their bodies discovered within three days of each other, with police indicating that both had been robbed. The suspect denied knowing anything about the foreign-made pistol used in the two killings and believed to belong to him. Police said that the man had threatened to kill himself and had been placed in solitary confinement, but he told the reporter that he had told police that if he were ever found guilty of any type of murder, then he would hang himself, but that he did not mean that he would kill himself presently, because he was innocent. He said that he had left Pennsylvania a couple of weeks earlier in a borrowed car after a drinking spree with a friend and did not know anything about the car being stolen, that he had gone to California where he picked up two hitchhikers who were with him at the time the police pursuit began.

In St. Louis, the arrested couple in the kidnaping and murder of six-year old Bobby Greenlease signed confessions this date which included the admission that they had crossed state lines into Kansas where the man of the couple had killed the boy shortly after the kidnaping in Kansas City, Mo., prompting the Federal Government to re-enter the case, after having initially turned it over to the State of Missouri on the premise that they had not crossed state lines. The body of the boy was found in a shallow grave behind the couple's house in St. Joseph, Mo., after police received a tip from a cabbie regarding a free-spending fare, which led to the arrest of the man. The two defendants admitted having plotted the death of the boy prior to initiating the kidnaping, as the lime which the FBI had disclosed was found over the boy's body in the shallow grave had been purchased prior to the kidnaping. The FBI had determined that the boy had been killed just 12 miles from Kansas City, but in the State of Kansas, invoking the Federal Lindbergh Law, which carried the possibility of the death penalty in a kidnaping in which the victim was harmed. The FBI said that a mechanical pencil, a promotional item for his father's Cadillac dealership, known to have been in the possession of the boy at the time of his abduction from his Catholic school, had been found at the murder site. Under Missouri law, as previously reported, while a moot point in the instant case, the death penalty for kidnaping was applicable whether or not harm had come to the victim. State charges of murder and kidnaping were already pending against both defendants. The kidnaping had been effected through a ruse accomplished by the woman, pretending to be the boy's aunt and claiming to nuns at the school that she was going to take him forthwith to the hospital where his mother had been taken after being stricken with a heart attack. The man's confession exonerated the third suspect, whom he had originally sought to implicate as the killer of the boy. The man had also reportedly given to the FBI further information about the missing half of the $600,000 ransom, initially having said that he could not recall what happened to it as he had been on a drinking spree, but agents said that based on the additional information, they were not hopeful of recovering the money. That half of the ransom, the sum of which had been arranged by the President's banker brother, Arthur Eisenhower, would never be found. The woman, who initially claimed to the FBI that she had been conned into participation in the scheme on the belief that the boy was the man's son, had now confessed her role when confronted with evidence that a station wagon connected to the couple had been discovered soon after the arrests abandoned in Kansas City, and that it contained slugs fired from the weapon found in the possession of the man at the time of his arrest.

In Raleigh, State Senator John Larkins was in line, according to political sources, to succeed resigned Insurance commissioner Waldo Cheek. Mr. Larkins declined any statement on the matter at present.

In Charlotte, County commissioner Carl McEwen, 60, died this date in the hospital without regaining consciousness after a cerebral hemorrhage which he had suffered on October 3. He was serving his sixth term on the Board of County Commissioners. In 1921, he had taken over the family business, the McEwen Funeral Home in Mint Hill, and greatly expanded it in Monroe and then established its first mortuary in Charlotte in 1943, a mortuary which had become the largest in the Southeast. He had also established cemeteries in Mint Hill, Monroe, and Lancaster, S.C. He had also been one of the founders and the president of the McEwen Mutual Burial Association—about which we choose to remain ignorant.

In Jerome, Ariz., the Mayor of the ghost town said that he wanted "all the old souls" to come home for Hallowe'en, that it would be "a real night of spooks".

On the editorial page, "Britain Slaps Down a Communist Regime" indicates that the British action toward its colony in British Guiana, removing the People's Progressive Party Prime Minister, Cheddie Jagan, on the basis that he and his American wife were involved in a Communist conspiracy to eliminate British rule of the colony, had likely posed a puzzler for those who regularly accused Britain of being soft on Communism.

It suggests that in other times, such heavy-handed action in a British colony would have been criticized generally as a device to preserve colonialism, but in recent years, Britain had moved steadily toward providing its colonies and possessions with more self-government as a preliminary step to full independence as part of the Commonwealth. The new constitution for British Guiana, now temporarily suspended by the British, had been a step in that direction. It finds that Britain had strengthened its hand throughout the anti-Communist world by the action, as the non-Communist areas would recognize the pattern of the Communist conspiracy, which had been repeated in British Guiana.

"Tito Won't Fight over Trieste" indicates that the Anglo-American decision to withdraw their troops from Trieste's northern zone and turn it over to Italy had to come sooner or later, and that the relative mildness with which Marshal Tito had protested the move indicated that the time was opportune. It was understandable that Tito was upset, though he had found out long ago that he could not obtain for Yugoslavia all of the disputed territory, with Yugoslavia having control of the southern zone, but he had nurtured the hope that Trieste City would be internationalized and not turned over to Italy.

It suggests that his actions in sending troops to the border of the northern zone would likely be as far as he would go. It would be some weeks before the U.S. and British troops were actually withdrawn and in that time, tempers would cool. Furthermore, Tito could not make Trieste a fighting matter with the Soviets still at his back and his new-found friendship with the West far more important than Trieste. There was some doubt that he would even take the matter up with the U.N., as the Soviets might then use the opportunity to take Yugoslavia's side in the dispute, embarrassing Tito's Government which had made its mark on the world scene by breaking with the Soviets.

While Trieste was of considerable importance to both Italy and Yugoslavia for political propaganda purposes, its larger significance on the world scene was relatively minor. It finds one of the more encouraging aspects of the incident to have been the fact of Anglo-American foreign-policy harmony in the decision to withdraw.

"North Carolina Loses a Top Official" indicates that the resignation of Insurance commissioner Waldo Cheek had suggested again that the best public servants could not be retained by the State in competition with private business and industry. He was the second leading State official to quit in recent months, having been preceded by State Treasurer Brandon Hodges the previous summer, who also had returned to the private sector. Mr. Cheek had been appointed by former Governor Kerr Scott in June, 1949, to fill the unexpired term of resigning William Hodges, and Mr. Cheek had been elected to the office in 1950 and re-elected in 1952. He had become recognized as one of the outstanding state insurance commissioners in the nation, respected by government officials and insurance executives alike. It posits that it would be difficult to find another person of equal ability as his successor.

It points out that salaries of many lower level State officials had been increased such that they were at least equal to the salaries and wages of comparable positions in private enterprise, but the top jobs were still not competitive and until those salaries were revised upward, the best public servants would continue to resign.

It welcomes Mr. Cheek as a new resident of Charlotte, but regrets that the State would no longer have the benefit of his services.

"Square Peg" indicates that the appointment of Governor James Byrnes of South Carolina as a delegate to the U.N. General Assembly had created protests because of his pro-segregationist views. It recalls that the newspaper had discounted those protests at the time of the appointment by the President, believing that Mr. Byrnes would be a valuable member of the delegation given his long diplomatic service, including having been Secretary of State from mid-1945 through the beginning of 1947. It questions, however, the wisdom of his most recent assignment, having been named the lead U.S. delegate on a U.N. committee studying race troubles in South Africa, suggesting that a person of more moderate views on race would be of greater service.

A piece from the Kingsport (Tenn.) Times, titled "Prisoner's Song", tells of a prisoner who had served his full sentence but had asked to be allowed to remain in prison for an additional six months so that he could continue as a member of a musical group. The prisoner, Marcel Sanders, was already engaged in a lucrative business and had a chance of becoming a solid citizen and perhaps even famous. He and his friends had capitalized on their ability to draw crowds under their professional name, the Prisonaires, promoting the fact that they were jailbirds, drawing to them increased interest.

It finds the story of Mr. Sanders gratifying as a good example of modern penal methods at work, suggests that life behind bars could not be unpleasant when a prisoner asked to be allowed to stay longer in the Kingsport county jail or city jail than his sentence dictated.

In all likelihood, the 1957 song and the movie, "Jailhouse Rock", were inspired by this story, as the Prisonaires recorded for Sun Records... Thank ye very much.

Drew Pearson indicates that behind Governor Dewey's concern over the New York racetrack scandal was a story of legislative corruption which had been transpiring for years right under the Governor's nose. The choice by the President of Herbert Brownell, a former campaign manager for Governor Dewey, as Attorney General, and the selection of James Hagerty as the press secretary, also a former Dewey press secretary, the selection as Vice-President of "an inconspicuous Senator", Richard Nixon, who was unlikely to compete for the presidency in 1956, plus the selection of Governor Earl Warren, who was a strong presidential contender for 1956, to become the new Chief Justice, had been no accidents. The moves were carefully planned by Governor Dewey, with an eye to his own political prospects for 1956. But now with the New York scandal, he was in the same position as had been former President Truman, an honest man who had not controlled his cronies.

He was one of the best Governors of New York in its history, but had not been able to control the backstage lobbying of his Legislature, where Republicans and Democrats had operated a strange partnership, whereby special interests who wanted a bill passed or killed would pay off both sides, and the price of the payoff was maintained at a high level. Thus, when certain promoters proposed establishing harness racing in New York, the Legislature passed a bill to make it legal, reportedly at a price of $75,000 paid to the leaders of the Legislature to put across the bill. The late Irving Steingut, Democratic leader of the Legislature, had been sentenced to jail for failure to answer questions anent the alleged payoff, though his conviction was subsequently reversed, and the report was never confirmed. Now, his daughter had obtained racetrack stock worth $210,000, and his lawyer had such stock worth $569,900. A close friend of Governor Dewey, J. Russell Sprague, boss of Nassau County, owned racing stock worth $32,000, while the Republican assistant secretary of the State Senate had stock in several tracks, and a Republican leader in the Legislature owned stock valued at $54,000.

Governor Dewey had selected Frank Moore as his Lieutenant Governor because he had an unimpeachable record, and therefore hoped he would succeed the Governor. But Mr. Moore had decided to accept an offer from the Rockefellers and so had resigned recently, despite Governor Dewey urging him not to do so. As a result, Arthur Wicks, the State Senate leader, was now the Acting Lieutenant Governor. The morning after he was sworn in, a brewing scandal broke which revealed that he had visited labor racketeer Joey Fay in Sing Sing five times and had petitioned to get "Three-Fingered" Brown a good conduct certificate in jail so that he could have his U.S. citizenship restored. Mr. Fay had been sentenced to 7 to 15 years for misuse of State Government funds in hiring labor for the Delaware Aqueduct, but managed to continue to run his patronage mill for various construction contracts, plus conduct racetrack employment, from behind bars. Mr. Pearson indicates that it was no wonder, therefore, that Governor Dewey had sought frantically to call a special legislative session to probe the racing commission and the Acting Lieutenant Governor.

He notes that what made the scandal worse was the fact that it had shaken two Dewey strongholds, Nassau and Westchester Counties, which had always provided the Governor with his strongest electoral majorities. The Roosevelt Raceway scandal had occurred in Nassau and the Yonkers Raceway scandal had occurred in Westchester. Some of his best political friends from those two areas were also involved in the scandal.

The result was that most in Washington believed that Governor Dewey's chances to be a contender for the Republican nomination in 1956 were washed up, despite his maneuvering to get potential opponents, such as Chief Justice Warren, promoted to a higher position, and to have his own prior staff in significant executive branch roles.

Stewart Alsop indicates that one expert observer had quipped that Georgi Malenkov ought be called "Warren G. Malenkov", after Warren G. Harding, the joke having a certain significance as it told a good deal about the conclusions which the most experienced Western experts on the Soviet Union had been reaching in the seven months since the death of Stalin on March 8. They had concluded that there was no evidence of the so-called "convulsion in the Kremlin", which was supposed to happen after the death of Stalin. U.S. policy toward the Soviets had long been largely based on the expectation of such an internal upheaval, and when Premier Malenkov had L. P. Beria, his Vice-Premier, arrested the prior June on charges of treason, the beginning of the convulsion was hailed in Washington. But the available evidence had suggested that the primacy of Premier Malenkov had been firmly established, even more so than in the case of Stalin several years after the death of Lenin.

The reference to President Harding came from the fact that Premier Malenkov believed in "back to normalcy", or what passed for normalcy in the Soviet "slave state". One Washington observer remarked that his policy was to clean up the messes which Stalin had left on the carpet. His last years had increasingly reflected his taste for violence and unquenchable suspicions, which had become paranoiac as he drifted into senility. Police oppression, for example, became oppression for its own sake, to the point where it endangered the security of the state. Thus, the purge of Mr. Beria had been interpreted as a result of Premier Malenkov's decision to bring under rein the power of the secret police, which Mr. Beria had controlled. That did not equate with Russia ceasing to be a police state, but there had been some relaxation of police oppression, calculated to buttress the regime and its base.

Mr. Malenkov was also reversing Stalin's policy aimed at the peasant population, promising the depressed workers a slightly increased share of Soviet production.

Mr. Malenkov was believed to have the strong support of the Red Army in his moves, and it was the Army which was the chief base of power within the Soviet state. It had always hated and feared the rival police power. As the peasants formed the raw material for the Army, the new Malenkov policies served the Red Army's interests.

Mr. Malenkov was also seeking to clean up some of the messes which Stalin had left behind regarding foreign relations, such as the Korean War, which had ceased to provide any tangible return for the Soviets, producing unnecessary and unprofitable areas of tension on the Soviet periphery, notably in Turkey and Yugoslavia. The exploitation of the satellites had been overdone and had reached the point of diminishing returns both economically and politically. Again, the Red Army saw no value in militarily unprofitable tensions and so supported the new policy.

The cleanup policy was accompanied by a carefully calculated campaign to cause the memory of Stalin to fade among the people, while the power of the Soviet state remained constant. The change was only in method and not in the basic Soviet policy, continuing the slave state function more efficiently, by giving the slaves a little more incentive to produce. With respect to foreign relations, he intended to avoid a showdown and a settlement, while the Soviets waited patiently for the disintegration of a weakened West.

Mr. Alsop concludes that if the analysis by the experts was correct, the hope of a convulsion in the post-Stalin Soviet Union had to be abandoned and also the aggressive moves of the post-war years, as in Korea, could no longer be relied upon to awaken the West from its slumbers.

Marquis Childs indicates that three years earlier, Prime Minister Nehru had sent a warning to the British Foreign Office and the State Department that if the U.N. forces advanced on the Yalu River in Korea, then Communist Chinese divisions would enter the war from Manchuria in large numbers. Mr. Childs had been in New Delhi at the time and heard Nehru explain his belief that if that warning were ignored, the scale of the fighting would be greatly increased and that no one could foresee its end. The warning had been ignored by General MacArthur, and the U.S. Army and Marines moved up to the Yalu in the midst of bitter winter weather in October and November, 1950. Even after Chinese Communist divisions had actually entered Korea, as known to the U.S. field commanders at the time, Tokyo headquarters had insisted that the entry would never happen. A desperate retreat, close to a rout, had followed, and if it had not been for the resolution, stamina and ability of officers such as Maj. General O. P. Smith, commanding the Marine division at the Yalu, the reversal might have become a major disaster.

Prime Minister Nehru had sent another warning presently to Washington and London, to the effect that if something were not done to check the rapid deterioration in the relations between South Korea and the neutral prisoner repatriation teams, the war in Korea would start again. He had protested the inflammatory statements made by South Korean Government officials, threatening retaliatory action against the Indian troops guarding the prisoners in the demilitarized zone who were resisting repatriation, while both sides sought to explain to the prisoners that it was safe to return to their homelands. Such inflammatory statements could lead to a mass outbreak by the prisoners or their admission to a non-Communist country.

The Prime Minister's fears were shared by many at the U.N., as a mass outbreak could touch off a chain of events which could produce new fighting, just as the deliberate release of 25,000 non-repatriating North Korean prisoners by President Syngman Rhee the prior June 18 had nearly wrecked the truce negotiations at the eleventh hour. Some observers believed that American policymakers had been too complacent in the wake of the truce, assuming that the war would not be resumed because the will to fight in South Korea would be diminished with peace and the need for rehabilitation of the country. Another assumption was that China had far more to lose from a renewal of the fighting than the West. But Prime Minister Nehru understood the aspirations, fears and deep resentments of Asian peoples toward the West, and he had been correct three years earlier and so his warning now was not to be dismissed lightly.

Robert C. Ruark, still in Casablanca, French Morocco, again talks of the change in policy with regard to construction of the large U.S. Air Force bases in the French protectorate, having eliminated the Air Force bureaucracy and allowed the civilian contractors to work on their own, after removing the prime contractor from the old Government cost-plus basis contract and formed a straight contract, whereupon the contractor eliminated nearly half of its personnel, finding them unnecessary for the job. Under the terms of the new contract, the military was required to define the program before the contractor began work, and if changes were to be made, a new contract had to be formed, or changes made to the original, to accommodate those alterations.

The Air Force had changed the master plans for the base at Nouasseur three different times between May 15 and September 1, 1951, and four additional times between September 1 and March 18, 1952. The plans, which originally called for a "crash program" to build the project because of the threat of the war in Korea, were not rescinded until January 15, 1952, after having been activated in November, 1950. Under the old plan, the Army Corps of Engineers, directing the civilian contractor, believed that what was done incorrectly could be corrected later during subsequent tests. The contractor went ahead and built the base with plenty of flaws, such as dips in the runways, which would not have been present had there been civilian control of the construction process. Those flaws were still being corrected. The contractor had finally forced the showdown the previous summer, bringing about the change in policy. The cost-plus contract wound up costing the contractor money because the project was continuing past its allotted time. The contractor appeared happier now and was completing the three bases in its own way, turning over the completed sectors to the Air Force for use and maintenance. In effect, the contractor was spending its own money rather than Government money and was once again guardian of its own reputation. Mr. Ruark posits that it was a lesson to be remembered.

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