The Charlotte News

Friday, December 31, 1954


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that Secretary of State Dulles had said at a press conference this date that he would explore with the seven other SEATO allies the question of creating a combined U.S.-British-French naval force to protect Southeast Asia against Communist aggression, declining to provide many details of the plan. He said it was necessary to have adequate means of implementation of the pact, which had been signed the previous September 8 by the U.S., Britain, France, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Pakistan and the Philippines. He said that the eight nations under the pact would not develop a standing military force such as that of NATO, that reliance in Southeast Asia had to be on mobile striking power, but that it was premature to say precisely what form that would take.

The Army indicated this date that it planned to afford early release the following May and June to about 44,000 draftees who would be nearing the end of their terms of service, after they had completed 22 or 23 months of service, when the normal service duration was two years, to be resumed following June. The Army said that it planned a comparable early release program in the March through June period of time for approximately 3,400 reserve lieutenants presently serving their initial two-year tour of active duty, that officers who had volunteered for additional periods of active duty and had been accepted by the Army would not be released. The program was part of a plan to speed up the process of trimming down the Army, cutting the rolls by 73,000 more than originally planned by the following June, leaving a force of 1.1 million by the end of the fiscal year. It was reported that ahead of the announcement, Army chief of staff General Matthew Ridgway had written to the President in protest of the reduction in manpower, as reported by the Army-Navy-Air Force Journal.

In Augusta, Ga., the President was preparing his messages for Congress in January, reportedly planning to seek an increase in the national minimum wage from 75 cents per hour to 90 cents. According to White House press secretary James Hagerty, the President would recommend a "substantial percentage increase" to the minimum wage, to be included in the State of the Union message which he would deliver on January 6, the date that the new Congress would be sworn in, but there was no indication officially as to how much the recommendation would be, the indicated 15 cents per hour having come from reliable sources. Secretary of Labor James Mitchell and several members of Congress had advocated increase of the minimum wage, to compensate for the increased cost of living since 1949, when the present minimum wage had been established. Both the AFL and CIO had recommended a minimum wage of $1.25 per hour.

Charlotte was nearing a probable homicide record for the fewest ever, with no murders having been committed involving white people during 1954, it appearing that Charlotte had lost its label of being "Little Chicago" from some years earlier when it led the nation in per capita homicides. The total for the year in the city stood at 13 as of noon this date, and of those homicides, only 10 would be included in the annual FBI records, as two had been ruled justified and one of the persons charged with murder had not been held to answer in City Recorder's Court, leading to dismissal of the charge. Mecklenburg County Police had reported only three homicides during the year. By contrast, in 1953, there had been 24 homicides reported in Charlotte, the same number as in 1952, with 11 having been reported in 1951 and 25 in 1950. The homicides during the year were not so sensational as had been two murders the prior year, a stabbing during the course of a downtown robbery of a nurse as she walked from her job at Presbyterian Hospital toward her home and a beating death of a woman in her home, to which her husband eventually entered a plea of guilty during trial in exchange for a life sentence, with those during 1954 including several fatal stabbings. It lists the homicides and the resulting convictions and prison sentences of the accused.

In New York, the head waiter at the Hotel Roosevelt grill, where he had been employed for the previous 29 years, complained that he never had the opportunity to wish his own family a happy New Year until hours afterward, because he was so preoccupied with his duties in wishing many thousands of persons a happy New Year among the patrons of the restaurant. He suggested that some day when he would retire, he would find out what it was like to greet his own family with New Year's wishes.

In Oxford, N.C., a woman shelved her plans to be married in a borrowed wedding dress and instead prepared to walk down the aisle in a new gown, after she had left her suitcase containing part of her trousseau on a Philadelphia street corner on Christmas Eve, while hurriedly returning to North Carolina for her marriage to her childhood sweetheart. A search for the missing bag had located it and it had been flown to the Raleigh-Durham airport the previous night, but news of the lost luggage, reportedly containing her wedding dress, had prompted a Philadelphia department store to provide her with a new gown. She corrected the report as having been mistaken, however, that the missing bag had only contained the clothes she intended to wear on her honeymoon, not her wedding dress, which she had intended to borrow from her sister.

In Burlington, Wisc., the annual world lying competition was won by a man from Baton Rouge, La., as determined by the Burlington Liars' Club, the man having told the story of swamp rabbits being so fast in his neck of the woods that they used high-powered rifles to hunt them instead of shotguns, that even the hunters never bagged any unless they knew a trick, aiming fast, shooting, and then letting out a shrill whistle, at which point the rabbit would stop so that the bullet had a chance to catch up with him. Honorable mention went to a lie told by a man from the state of Washington, indicating that cyclones did funny things, that the previous year one had come through his place, where he had a sack of shelled corn hanging on a nail on the side of the house, with the cyclone blowing away the sack, leaving the corn hanging from the nail like a swarm of bees. A minister from North Dakota had told another honorably mentioned, about it having been so warm in January, 1953 in his home state that potato bugs had been waiting on fence posts for potatoes to come up, that in January, 1954, it had been so cold that the magpies would circle around the chimney top for five minutes to get warm before swooping down to the back door to steal his dog's food. A man from East Gary, Ind., had told one about his uncle, the biggest and richest farmer in South Dakota, whose place was so large and wealthy that they had never been able to count his money or his acreage, that he was so rich that he carried his hay in his pocketbook and stacked his money behind the barn. The club had also selected the biggest liar of the past previous 25 years since the founding of the competition, the 1953 winner from Pennsylvania, who had said that his grandfather had a clock so old that the shadow of the pendulum, swinging back and forth, had worn a hole in the back of the case.

Isn't it the case that the person who catches the bunny after a wedding is the next in line to be married? That's what we heard, anyway, down our way, in the swamp.

As indicated in the below editorial, John C. Erwin was named the Charlotte Man of the Year for his contributions to the community, which, presumably, did not include any lying.

On the editorial page, "John C. Erwin—Man of the Year" tells of Mr. Erwin having been selected as the Man of the Year in the community, finding him a man of imagination and immense energy who had contributed to many outstanding projects during 1954 and in past years, best known for his work as chairman of the City Aviation Advisory Commission, which had assumed a leading role in postwar progress in American aviation, resulting in the 1.3 million dollar air terminal building in Charlotte, dedicated during the prior summer.

It lists his many other activities in the community, church and civic, and indicates that he had been a director of the Commercial National Bank and a successful businessman. He had a deep sense of his community.

It lists the previous men of the year in Charlotte, back to the beginning of the award in 1944, each subsequent recipient having been chosen by the prior recipients.

"A Cold War Victory for the West" tells of the French vote of the previous day ratifying in the lower chamber of the Parliament the rearmament of West Germany by its approval of the expanded Western European Union to include Italy and West Germany, having forged a vital link in the free world's defensive chain, suggesting that France might be willing to put aside its "irritation, frustration and hollow pride" and accept the "realities of the world of superpowers and peace-through-strength". It finds it a triumph for Premier Pierre Mendes-France, who had set France's house in order since coming to office the previous July. It was also a triumph for the major Western powers, who had been deeply troubled by the tentative vote the prior Friday against rearmament of West Germany. It was also a triumph of reason over "fear, cynicism and defeatism".

The Soviets had tried very hard to browbeat the French into rejecting the treaty, threatening to end the French-German mutual assistance pact of 1944 if they were to approve rearmament of West Germany, claiming that there would be no negotiated settlement of Europe's problems after ratification and that it would precipitate an increase in the arms race. Yet, responsible Frenchmen were not intimidated, realizing that the defense of Western Europe depended on rearmament of West Germany and that a conquered West Germany would constitute a grave threat to French security. Once the necessary safeguards against the revival of German militarism had been put in place, the French finally ratified the agreements. It concludes that there had been only one reasonable decision for France the previous day and France had made that decision, with the free world in the process having won a Cold War battle of great importance.

"Mending the Past's Broken Image" begins with a quote from Alfred Lord Tennyson: "Ring out wild bells, to the wild sky!/ Ring out the old, ring in the new,/ Ring happy bells, across the snow!" It suggests that the tone of that welcome of the new year was now familiar enough to seem classic, that through the ages, the coming of a new year had symbolized hope, joy, rejuvenation, the dawn of a new life, the time when many would seek to sever relations with the past and begin anew with freshly mended faith and resolve.

But, it cautions, memories of the past inevitably invaded the present and that unless man profited from the past, rejuvenation would be merely a cycle which might end in "'a heap of broken images'". What man was in the present, included, in part, what he had been in the past, with a great part of life being a monument to yesterday and last year and the year before that, that portion of the past being that which progressed with man.

If man reacted to the past with resignation or with rage, it would merely betray his apprehension of guilt and lead only to fear and nostalgic regret. Looking toward the future, man had to assess the past with wisdom and learn to benefit from its triumphs and tragedies. "With knowledge of the cycles and transitions of the past he can improve the man-made patterns of the present and future and achieve a culture that is not self-defeating."

A piece from the Washington Post & Times-Herald, titled "The Reactionary", indicates that it was no surprise that the works of Ernest Hemingway, recent winner of the Nobel Prize for literature, was denounced at the All-Union Congress of Soviet Writers. He was an American, and for years it had been the party line in Russia that anything an American could do, a "Roosky" could do much better, possibly explaining the rumor in Moscow, it posits, that the award to Mr. Hemingway had first been haughtily refused by an obscure Russian poet, Boris Pasternak—to become author of the novel Doctor Zhivago, to be published in 1957, eventually making Mr. Pasternak well known in the United States.

A Russian critic, in agreement with a small coterie of American critics of 25 or 30 years earlier, opined that the trouble with American novelists of Mr. Hemingway's generation was their total absence of light in their productions, that their works left the reader with a kind of hopeless feeling about the characters and life in general, not stimulative of the type of mind useful in building the Soviet state.

It suggests that the moral of For Whom the Bell Tolls, selected by the Russian critic for special condemnation, appeared to be that playing at revolution, though dangerous, was not a very satisfying form of fun, thus antithetical to the party line in Russia. The piece indicates that therefore the escape which the escapist readers of Mr. Hemingway were trying to obtain came from the same type of enthusiasm which had won the Stalin prize for the critic of Mr. Hemingway.

Drew Pearson indicates that there were several backstage factors contributing to the narrow vote in favor of West German rearmament in the French National Assembly the previous night, and enabling continuance for the time being of the Government of Premier Mendes-France. Mr. Pearson indicates that the fight could have been avoided had Secretary of State Dulles been alert. After the Secretary had returned from his emergency October meeting in Paris, he had explained at a televised Cabinet meeting the compromise plan he had worked out with Premier Mendes-France and the British to replace the European Defense Community treaty, ratification of which had been turned down by the French National Assembly earlier. The Secretary's proposed compromise had been acclaimed in the U.S. as a great diplomatic victory and appeared acceptable to the French. But then two things happened, the first being that the Russians started a campaign to change the French mind on the matter, and the second, that the Eisenhower Administration meanwhile did almost nothing. Secretary Dulles appeared frequently to believe that the mere enunciation of a policy meant its adoption, being content to issue a statement or speech and then sit back and assume that was enough, when it always took a lot of follow-up to make a policy stick.

Thus, after the optimistic official statements by the President, the Vice-President and Secretary Dulles the previous year regarding Indo-China, the French debacle had occurred in the spring at Dien Bien Phu, followed inexorably in July by the truce. The same thing had happened after the West German rearmament compromise had been worked out in Paris the previous October. The Russians began pumping propaganda into France, on which they spent 112 million dollars per year, while the U.S. spent 85 million per year for propaganda for the entire world, based on the effort to cut the budget. While the Russians sent diplomatic notes to the French and British warning that their mutual nonaggression pacts would be canceled, they were also broadcasting tough radio broadcasts to the French and British people. The result had been the narrow margin of victory in the National Assembly for rearming West Germany. Only at the last minute, following the first negative vote the previous Friday, had Secretary Dulles called in newsmen to inspire stories which were received in Paris to the effect that France was "voting itself into oblivion", after which the narrow vote had occurred. Diplomatic observers, however, feared that Premier Mendes-France would be thrown out of power the following spring by enemies of West German rearmament. He would actually only last until February.

Senator McCarthy had now adopted a martyr complex. Friends explained that he had not long to live and that had it not been for his poor health, he would not have criticized President Eisenhower.

The President had been a silent partner in two Howard Johnson restaurants in Washington, but recently had visited the Black Angus farm of his chief competitor, Hot Shoppe owner J. Willard Marriott, in Virginia. George Allen, the White House jester under President Truman, had gotten the President into the Howard Johnson business, and had also handled the purchase of his Gettysburg farm, plus other business ventures. The President has 56 flavors on his side, meaning that odds are he will win in '56. President Hoover must have had only 28 flavors, one HoJo, on his side, probably explaining his Depression.

New DNC chairman Paul Butler, originally opposed for the position by former President Truman, was now getting along famously with the former President during Mr. Butler's visit to Kansas City.

Senator Estes Kefauver of Tennessee would not hold more crime investigation hearings, as he had to great effect on television in 1950-51, if certain Senate leaders, including Senator Lyndon Johnson, to become the new Majority Leader, could stop it. They did not want Senator Kefauver crowding them for the limelight or affording himself another opportunity for build-up to a presidential campaign, as they were aware of how close he had come to obtaining the nomination in 1952. The Senator would become the running mate for Adlai Stevenson in 1956, after the convention, to whom Mr. Stevenson had left the choice of the vice-presidential nominee, narrowly selected Senator Kefauver over Senator John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts.

The Congressional Quarterly examines the annual outlook for the new Congress, indicating that its survey suggested that debate and action would center on such issues as military manpower, taxation, farm price supports, foreign aid, reciprocal trade, relations with Communist nations and public versus private power, all familiar issues from recent times. The political timing would provide one new twist, that the Democrats, committed by their 1954 midterm campaign promises, would press for rigid farm price supports and increased personal tax exemptions, indicating that their strategists, however, apparently had decided to save the finale for 1956. Another twist would be the question of how well the Republican Administration could get along with the Democratic 84th Congress, with only lukewarm support from Republicans.

It suggests that military manpower might become the biggest issue of 1955, with the Administration claiming that its program would maintain military strength over the long haul. Major components of the program would be to extend the two-year draft to four years, the training of 100,000 youths annually for six months in a variation on universal military training, to build up reserves, and to cut back forces on active duty. The program would probably face opposition on the basis of hostility toward any peacetime plan to maintain the sons of constituents in uniform, and on the skepticism of reduction of standing forces until the threat of Communist aggression was brought under control.

Increased defense spending would necessitate higher taxes, but the Administration, seeking to limit the budget deficit, would ask Congress to postpone scheduled cuts in the corporate and excise taxes, set for the following spring, and would oppose any Democratic attempt to increase the individual exemptions. The President would have to request that Congress again raise the debt ceiling above the permanent 275 billion dollar limit.

The Administration's "partnership" policy between private and public power utilities called for greater participation by private utilities and state and local agencies. The opposition would come from the advocates of expansion of Federal activity in the area, charging that national resources were being given away for the benefit of private interests.

The revival of rigid farm price supports for basic commodities was unlikely in 1955, although an attempt would be made at it, with the main effort being delayed until 1956, when the scheduled reduction of minimum price guarantees would draw the issue into sharper focus. Other major farm battles would include those over acreage controls and conservation policy.

There would also be a battle over tariffs, whether to raise or lower them or leave them alone, with parts of agriculture and certain industries needing foreign trade to remain prosperous while other groups would lose markets from competitive imports. The President had accepted a temporary extension of the reciprocal trade act for a year and would seek a three-year program in the coming year, with authority for further reductions of tariffs.

If Communist China were to release the 11 imprisoned American airmen, held for supposed espionage, advocates of "tough" policies, such as a blockade of the Chinese mainland coast, would lose much of their reason for action. Provided allies tightened their bootstraps and stiffened their military preparedness while bolstering their economies, Congress might reach a compromise on foreign aid.

Other major issues for the coming year would include labor law revision, minimum wage revision, the question of statehood for Hawaii and Alaska, health re-insurance, housing, aid to the schools, highways, employment and prosperity, curbs on treaty powers, increase of the postal rates, increase in postal and civil service pay, Federal job patronage, the right to vote for 18-year olds, rules for investigating committees, internal security, regulation of lobbies, Federal reorganization, small business, and antitrust policy.

Robert C. Ruark indicates that he missed the orgies of holiday eating which he could remember from his younger years. But it was no longer fashionable to gorge amid calorie-counting, and the whole-wheat cracker appeared a poor inhabitant of the horn of plenty. As he recalled from his early days, monstrous turkeys were cooked for Christmas and continued until they wound up in sandwiches, and if completely consumed, a couple of more would be cooked for consumption on New Year's Day. His household would also have nothing less than a couple of hams, for between-time snacks. There was also usually a haunch and a saddle of venison, plus a side dish and candied sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top, and eggnog drunk as a beverage. The house was also full of raisins and assorted candies, usually made specially for the occasion. None of it was conducive to a trim waistline.

He goes on a bit about the lavish cuisine during the holidays of his youth, lamenting the fact that they appeared to toy with the turkey now, skip the dessert and nibble halfheartedly at a salad, a salad having been nowhere to be found during the Yule season of his youth, as hay was for horses and lettuce for rabbits.

He indicates that he had enjoyed one opportunity at an old-fashioned festive board during the current season and he had paid for it for two days with gastric misery.

Gayelord Hauser and the six-day diet had replaced the holiday spirit and he believes it a shame. He also was convinced that the American stomach had shrunk and that there was no space in it for food, only for memories.

A piece from the Conway (S.C.) Field tells of on older black woman who had been making soup for a sick friend for many weeks, at first believing it was a temporary chore, but continuing it as her friend did not respond to medical treatment. Finally, the woman's employer asked her whether or not it was getting boring, to which the woman had replied that it was getting to be a lot of trouble until she got her friend into her heart.

A letter writer indicates that he had been in a number of barbershops in the community and that some were outside the city limits, the majority of the latter not sterilizing equipment after finishing with each customer, suggests that the City Health Department should immediately correct that situation.

That's right, there is nothing worse than unsterilized scissors and razors coursing through your hair. The hands of the barber, of course, are of no consequence, as long as he has not been out back changing the oil in his car just before you sit down in the chair.

A letter from a Marine Corps captain, inspector-instructor of the 3rd Cargo Company, thanks the people of Charlotte for their generous response to the third annual "Toys for Tots" drive held by the Marine Corps Reserve, as well as to the many civic groups, clubs and businesses who had donated toys and time, and to the individuals who had volunteered and given freely to the drive, all making it a success. He also provides special thanks to the local Salvation Army for distribution of the collected toys.

Seventh Day of Christmas: Seven nations swum.

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