The Charlotte News

Thursday, December 30, 1954


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that in Paris, the French National Assembly this night had reluctantly and narrowly approved West German rearmament by a vote of 287 to 260, ratifying the treaty establishing the expanded Western European Union, to include West Germany and Italy, joining Britain, France, and the Benelux countries. The confidence vote also kept the Government of Premier Pierre Mendes-France in power. The vote had completed action in the lower house on the treaties signed in Paris the prior October. Had WEU been rejected, the other agreements would have also been considered rejected. The vote reversed a vote against the expansion of the WEU the previous Friday, which had not been a confidence vote. All of the treaties now would go to the Council of the Republic, the upper house, where debate was tentatively scheduled for February. Any changes in the upper house would potentially delay final passage until mid-May, the time when Premier Mendes-France had suggested for a four-power meeting with the Soviets regarding the German issue.

Postmaster General Arthur Summerfield announced this date that city and town deliveries of junk mail would be discontinued after March 1, 1955. An experiment in which mail addressed to such general recipients as "householder" had been started 15 months earlier, but had resulted in clogging of the postal system and so would be discontinued. Representative Tom Murray of Tennessee, who would become chairman of the House Post Office Committee in the new Congress, had informed Mr. Summerfield that unless junk mail deliveries were stopped, the Committee would take steps to outlaw it. Senator Frank Carlson of Kansas, the retiring chairman of the Senate Post Office Committee, had recently also called for discontinuance of junk mail.

At least 22 deaths were attributed to the worst winter storm of the season thus far, in the Midwest and Rockies. The cold Arctic air would continue moving eastward but at a slow pace.

In New York, orchestra conductor Leopold Stokowski and his wife, the former Gloria Vanderbilt, were reported to have separated this date, according to the New York Post, though there was no immediate comment from the couple. The Post had quoted Mrs. Stokowski as indicating that for personal reasons, she had decided to live at the Ambassador Hotel in New York with her children, apart from her husband, and would provide more information when she could.

In Reidsville, N.C., a 62-year old farmer of Madison had died Tuesday night after drinking a cup of coffee to which he had added what he thought to be quinine, turning out to be strychnine, according to the coroner's report. He had died en route to the hospital. The coroner said the bottle from which the powder had come was clearly marked "strychnine".

The Charlotte Observer, as indicated further in an editorial below, had been sold to Knight Newspapers by Mrs. Curtis B. Johnson, president of the newspaper. Knight owned the Miami Herald, the Chicago Daily News, the Detroit Free Press and the Akron Beacon-Journal. The announcement said that Knight had paid seven million dollars for the purchase, including the newspaper's transportation company. James L. Knight, general manager of the Miami Herald, would become president and publisher of the Observer and would direct its operations. He said that the newspaper would be politically independent. John S. Knight, president of Knight Newspapers, Inc., and editor and publisher of the Chicago Daily News, the Free Press, the Herald and Beacon-Journal, would serve on the Observer's board of directors. The story lists the other new members of the board as well. Mrs. Johnson had owned a majority interest in the newspaper, and a minority interest, which had been held in trust established by the late Walter Sullivan for the benefit of his wife and daughter, had also been sold. Mrs. Johnson had been actively in charge of the newspaper since the settlement of her husband's estate in 1953. Ralph Nicholson had served as publisher for a time after Mr. Johnson's death in 1950. Pete McKnight, editor on leave of The News, would become editor of the Observer the following summer.

Also in Charlotte, the News Man of the Year for 1954 would be announced the following day, a selection made by the Men of the Year of previous years on the basis of "notable contributions to the community" during the year. The award had been established by the News in 1944.

A physician who had practiced in Charlotte for 34 years, Vann Marshall Matthews, 64, died at his home during the morning, having been in ill health since September. He was a native of the county, had attended local schools and received his A.B. degree from Washington & Lee University in 1914, and his medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1918. Dr. Matthews had served as a lieutenant in the Navy during World War I, spending six months at sea and a year in the Naval Hospital in Philadelphia.

Also in Charlotte, a wave of dog poisonings had reportedly broken out in the Dilworth section, with several animals reported dead as a result, according to the local Humane Society, owners of dogs and veterinarians, with arsenic being suspected as the poison. The Humane Society said that between eight and ten dogs had been poisoned during the previous month or two, and also said that a young boy was running down dogs with his motor scooter in the Myers Park section, requesting that residents try to obtain his license number. We once had a dog poisoned while away at Thanksgiving, 1956, in another town. Maybe it was the same serial dog poisoner who changed venue. Or it could have been Big Louis out of Chicaga, issuing a not so subtle warning that loose lips sink-a de ships.

In Tokyo, a woman sought to rouse her sleeping husband when a knife-wielding burglar broke into their home this date, but the husband did not move, and so the wife rolled out of bed and told the burglar that she would get him money from another room, but instead returned with a meat cleaver and slashed him six times, eventually stirring her husband, telling him to take the wounded burglar to a police station, but on the way, the burglar escaped.

In Baltimore, a 55-year old woman suddenly screamed out the previous night in a downtown cafeteria: "Lock all the doors. Somebody stole my teeth." The woman shoved about five or six chairs against the entrance and announced to about 30 customers and the hired help that not one of them would leave until she got her teeth back. She then telephoned the police. Some of the customers, after settling down from initial surprise, began asking such things as, "Who put those teeth in my soup?" and "That's not a clam, that's my teeth." The woman said that she had put her $85 upper plate in a napkin before dinner and that when she prepared to leave, her teeth were missing. After an hour search by police and the management, the woman had to go home without her 16 missing teeth.

On the editorial page, "A Change in Stewardship" tells of the sale of the Charlotte Observer to the Knight Newspapers, representing to Charlotte and the Piedmont Carolinas more than just a transfer of a property, as along with it went delegation of responsibility and passing of stewardship of the newspaper from the community, which believed, as it rightfully should, that it held a proprietary interest in the newspaper.

It lists the several Knight newspapers, as stated on the front page, and indicates it was an organization which had a reputation for being well-run, publishing newspapers of integrity, demonstrating vigorous interest in public affairs, aggressive news policies and forceful editorial expression, as well as adherence to the canons of journalistic ethics.

It indicates that for years, residents of the city had expressed pride and confidence in their two newspapers, and both had shown a constant interest in the operation of the local governments and the whole range of public and civic affairs. Both newspapers had promoted economic progress in the community and the management of each had associated themselves with activities which promised growth and progress. It suggests that the Knights were probably aware of those facts and would likely run the Observer with adherence to the traditional policies. It reminds that newcomers, rather than old settlers, had made Charlotte a thriving city, and so it welcomes the new administration of its morning competitor, confident that it would maintain the same high standards to the welfare of the community for which the Observer had become known.

Eventually, the News would also be sold to Knight in 1959, and they would all become one big conglomerate, operating under Big Louis out of Chicaga, probably the poisoner of our dog, too.

"Kill Sectionalism in Tar Heel Politics" indicates that sectionalism still had its 19th Century significance within North Carolina democracy, with the artificial balance of power between the eastern and western sections of the state having unfortunately never been eradicated. It finds that the division had produced tight sectional lines in the race for president pro tem of the State Senate, with much of the support for the leading candidate, Dr. Paul Jones, who was in his fourth term as a Senator, being based on the east-west split, with Dr. Jones representing the eastern part of the state, from which he had solid backing from the State Senators from that region.

It questions when the state would outgrow its selfish sectional interests, posits that it was time for the ancient rivalries to be forgotten so that the state could operate on more realistic, intelligent lines. It says it has no quarrel with Dr. Jones, that he might be the logical choice for president pro tem of the Senate, but finds fault in the political tradition which had outlived its usefulness as the manner of selecting him for the post.

It indicates that there were greater sectional sensibilities in the state than in any other state of the South, including Tennessee, divided three ways. It had long been the tradition for one U.S. Senator to come from the east and the other from the west, to the frequent dismay of politicians from the central Piedmont region, who felt left out. Kerr Scott had successfully run for governor in 1948, despite cries from his principal opponent that he was violating the rotation system by running from a "western" county, Alamance. He had upset tradition again in the 1954 Senate primary on the same basis. His political career, however, had been filled with surprises.

Professors V. O. Key, Jr., and Alexander Heard had pointed out that many crucial votes in the past in North Carolina had divided along a line which separated the Piedmont from the coastal plain, diagonally running northwestward from Anson County to Northampton. In 1835, the eastern planters had battled the western small farmers regarding apportionment of the Legislature, with the result that control of the General Assembly and the state had gone to the east. In 1861, the heaviest opposition to a secession convention had come from the western section of the state, where land holdings and slave holdings were the smallest. In 1900, the western section had shown far less enthusiasm for black disfranchisement than the other sections. The division had been reflected in the 1908 prohibition vote, with the mountain counties showing a greater inclination to vote dry.

The sectionalism continued, even though the bulk of the money and productive activity, along with the population, had shifted west of the line in question. The practice imposed an unnatural limitation on the state's leadership as it was unrealistic to suppose that talent for public office would always be distributed equally between the eastern and western sections. It thus urges slowly rooting sectionalism out of the state's politics.

"North Carolina: Big Year for Books" indicates that several North Carolina authors had produced books during 1954, among the best of which had been Good Morning, Miss Dove by Francis Gray Patton, a Durham writer who was already well known to readers of the New Yorker, his novel being a story of a remarkable school teacher's impact on a Southern community.

Randall Jarrell, who taught creative writing at Woman's College in Greensboro, had produced Pictures from an Institution, a novel about life in a progressive girls' school.

Burke Davis, former editor and associate editor of The News, had produced They Called Him Stonewall, a study of General Stonewall Jackson.

Harry Ashmore, who had also been editor and associate editor of The News, now editor of the Arkansas Gazette, had produced an important study of Southern segregation, The Negro and the Schools, published by the UNC Press. Schools in Transition, by Robin M. Williams, Jr., and Margaret W. Ryan, was also on the issue of segregation in the public schools, both volumes having been based on studies financed by the Ford Foundation's Fund for Advancement of Education.

Hugh Lefler and the late A. R. Newsome had produced The History of a Southern State, regarding North Carolina.

Peter Taylor, a former Greensboro professor, had written The Widows of Thornton. Raleigh News & Observer editor Jonathan Daniels had authored The End of Innocence. James Street of Chapel Hill, who had recently died, had written The Revolutionary War, a demythologized account of how the 13 colonies had turned the world upside down. Duke University's Jay B. Hubbell, had produced The South in American Literature, 1607-1900, and Doris Betts of Chapel Hill had authored The Gentle Insurrection.

It lists several other notable books by North Carolina authors, indicating that it had no William Faulkner and that the state's most distinguished writer, Paul Green, had not published anything during the year. But, it finds, the size and quality of the literary achievement for the year had been creditable, making North Carolina still one of the "bright spots on the map of Southern culture."

Drew Pearson provides illustrations of the Eisenhower Administration having developed interesting techniques for official denial. He cites one such instance from February 14, 1954, when Mr. Pearson had reported that Attorney General Herbert Brownell's law firm had advised various shipping firms that they were within their rights regarding the purchase of Government oil tankers, for which the Justice Department had later indicted the same firms, but the following day, Mr. Brownell had denied the story. On December 21, Mr. Brownell, appearing in Federal District Court, stated under oath the truth of that which he had denied on February 15.

On December 20, Secretary of Defense Charles E. Wilson had denied at a press conference that he had ever favored a "single, efficient producer" policy for concentrating military defense orders in a few large companies, a denial despite an earlier investigation by Senator Estes Kefauver into the cancellation of Chrysler tank contracts in favor of General Motors, of which Mr. Wilson had been head, plus the cancellation of various other smaller contracts in favor of large businesses. When reminded by newsmen that Mr. Wilson had, in 1953, outlined off the record the policy which he was denying, the Secretary stated he had never held an off-the-record press conference since that time.

On December 16, Secretary of the Navy Charles Thomas had denied that Vice-President Nixon had intervened to demand that the security clearance of atomic scientist Dr. Edward Condon be revoked. But on October 22, Mr. Nixon had openly boasted that he had personally intervened in the case of Dr. Condon, and repeated the contention several times during the midterm elections campaign. Technically, Secretary Thomas's denial had been correct because Mr. Nixon had intervened through the office of the Attorney General, not directly with Secretary Thomas.

Murray Chotiner, the California campaign manager and head brain-truster for Mr. Nixon during his 1946 race for the House and his 1950 race for the Senate, had denied that the Vice-President had telephoned California Assemblymen to influence the election of H. Allen Smith as speaker of the Assembly, as had been reported by Mr. Pearson on November 26. Mr. Chotiner also denied that Mr. Nixon had interested himself at all in the California speakership. Mr. Pearson indicates that it was significant because a hot race was taking place in California between Senator William Knowland and Governor Goodwin Knight on one side and the Vice-President, Congressman Pat Billings and the Nixon wing of the Republican Party on the other. At issue were high stakes, control of the big bloc of California delegates to the 1956 Republican convention, and perhaps eventually the presidency. Control of the California Legislature and the speakership was one step in the battle for overall control.

Dr. Hollis Edens, the president of Duke University, has excerpts printed from his recent Founders Day address, in which he said that the University was in a healthy state, as the faculty remained free to teach and conduct research and the students, to experiment and learn without fear or intimidation. The shouted claim that academic freedom was on the wane offered no convincing argument that it was actually the case.

Currently, society was caught up in discussion about Communism and McCarthyism, but no Duke professor would hesitate to discuss the philosophy and theory of Communism or to expose its fallacies. Nor would they hesitate to analyze the opposition tactics of Senator McCarthy.

Notwithstanding that condition, he indicates, if one wanted to become a martyr, there were avenues open, but academic freedom was not designed to protect the exhibitionist or to bestow special privilege on an exclusive group of citizens. Nor was it a bulwark behind which the leftist or rightist in politics was to be shielded.

Occasionally, someone challenged the right to publish the results of research and sometimes the University received letters demanding that certain books containing controversial topics be removed from the library, and sometimes the right of a speaker to appear on the campus was questioned or the opportunity for open debate opposed. And, he adds, it was not always the reactionary point of view which created difficulty, that the intolerant liberal could be just as oppressive.

The excerpt concludes by indicating that the cited instances could be manipulated into newspaper headlines, but one did not preserve academic freedom by shouting about it, that it was maintained by practicing it.

Robert C. Ruark indicates that he had read about a week earlier that a ballplayer, Ralph Kiner of the Cleveland Indians, had asked for a $20,000 salary cut, because he believed in humility "or something". Mr. Ruark believes that in doing so he had betrayed baseball's most cherished ideal, money. (The editors note that since the announcement by Mr. Kiner regarding the wish for a salary cut, Major League Baseball commissioner Ford Frick had raised an objection and the player representatives of each club had met and voted unanimously to support Mr. Frick and disallow the cut.)

Mr. Ruark continues that Mr. Kiner's salary was going to be cut because he had a bad year, but the cut would have been limited by rules to 25 percent, and he was receiving $65,000, with $20,000 therefore being nearly a third, not just a fourth.

He indicates that a good ballplayer believed that the world was out to defraud him of his rightful reward and that if you paid him a million dollars per game, there would be some owner's angle in it such that the player was getting swindled. All ballplayers thought they were invaluable to their teams. Most of the athletes with whom he had dealt when he had been a sports writer had clung to every nickel and fought the club owners for every dime on a new contract. He believed that to be a healthy state of things, whether in baseball or other pursuits. A man was worth what he was worth or what he could convince the world he was worth, and it was dirty pool to ask the boss to cut his salary.

He indicates that Mr. Kiner had to be controlled or the next thing one knew, he would be eating with the umpires, "and the game's gone."

Archibald Henderson, in the Mark Twain Journal, tells of Mark Twain and George Bernard Shaw having two distinctive things in common, that neither attended a college or university and both had entered literature through journalism. He finds the first common attribute to be probably an advantage, as a certain naïveté, forthrightness and freedom of expression would have likely been suppressed had either received higher education. The second common attribute produced directness, lucidity and a viable vocabulary honed to a fine edge in journalism.

He quotes Mr. Shaw as saying: "The writer who aims at producing the platitudes which are 'not for an age, but for all time' has his reward in being unreadable in all ages; whilst Plato and Aristophanes trying to knock some sense into the Athens of their day, Shakespeare peopling that same Athens with Elizabethan mechanics and Warwickshire peasants, Ibsen photographing the local doctors and vestrymen of a Norwegian parish, Carpaccio painting the life of St. Ursula as if she were a lady living in the next street to him, are still alive and at home everywhere among the dust and ashes of many thousands of academic, punctilious, most archaeologically correct men of letters and art who spent their lives haughtily avoiding the journalist's vulgar obsession with the ephemeral."

Mr. Shaw had remarked to Mr. Henderson that he considered Mark Twain to be America's greatest writer and that the two greatest were Twain and Poe. He had added with a rueful grin that Mark Twain had been in very much the same position as he was, having to put things in such a way as to make people, who would otherwise hang him, believe that he was joking.

Several days later, in a note to Mr. Twain, Mr. Shaw had stated: "I am persuaded that the future historian of America will find your works as indispensable to him as the French historian finds the political tracts of Voltaire. I tell you because I am the author of a play in which a priest says, 'Telling the truth's the funniest joke in the world'—a piece of wisdom which you helped to teach me."

Irwin Shaw, writing in the Paris Review, indicates that he had a fine play in mind that he would write some day, wherein the curtain would rise on a bare stage, except for a machine gun facing the audience, and, after a long pause, the actor would enter, a tall man dressed in evening clothes, coming downstage to the footlights, bowing, smiling at the audience, then walking upstage, would adjust the machine gun and blast them.

A letter writer comments on the December 27 editorial, "Our Motto Is Talk and Let Talk", says that he did not know which was worse, the teenagers or the scientists, that the piece had not mentioned the latest international language which had been invented, Interlingua, officially introduced in 1951, a mixture of French, Italian, Spanish and English. He provides an example. He predicts that it would not last, just as Coolspeak would not last, as slang had a tendency to come and go. He provides some old examples which no longer were heard, as "spondulix" once had meant money and "banana oil!" nonsense. One he indicates as falling into disuse, however, "on the fritz", meaning out of order, had by no means disappeared, and may still be heard sometimes today. He is correct, however, in asserting that no one would any longer say, "She looks doggy," and mean to suggest that the object of the statement appeared gear, boss, you know, like, with it on the rag circuit. He says that the scientists and the very young adored the game of playing with words and renaming things, keeping their minds, respectively, he supposes, off bigger and better atomic bombs and wilder and wilder games of "chicken", and so were performing civilization a great service.

A letter writer from Rock Hill, S.C., indicates that at the present time of year, one often heard criticism of the secular emphasis of Christmas celebrations, but that it enabled those who were not Christians to participate in the Christmas spirit and share in the joy and festivity of the season. He indicates that Washington Irving, in The Sketch Book, had written: "Amidst the general call to happiness, the bustle of the spirits, and store of affections, which prevail at this period, what bosom can remain insensible? It is, indeed, the season of regenerated feeling, the season for kindling, not merely the fire of hospitality in the hall, but the genial flame of charity in the heart… He who can turn churlishly away from contemplating the felicity of his fellow-beings, and can sit down darkling and repining in his loneliness when all around is joyful, may have his moments of strong excitement and selfish gratification, but he wants the genial and social sympathies which constitute the charm of a merry Christmas."

A letter from the director of plant community relations of the Celanese Corporation of America in New York congratulates the newspaper for its recent supplement about Charlotte, providing "an exciting and comprehensive picture of one of the most flourishing communities in America", underscoring the reasons which had led Celanese to centralize its textile division and other units of the corporation in the city.

Sixth Day of Christmas: Six teenth misthing (probably stolen by the Commies).

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