The Charlotte News

Thursday, July 1, 1954


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports from Singapore that much of the Red River Delta area of Indo-China was falling into the hands of the Vietminh this date without a fight, as French Union forces were evacuating swiftly along their remaining lifeline, the railway and highway between Hanoi and the port of Haiphong, from the centers of the Delta area hard to hold, as the end of the eight-year war appeared near. Haiphong was the last French beachhead in Northern Viet Nam and therefore was the only means by which evacuation of tens of thousands of troops could be effected, whether as a result of cease-fire or after fighting their way through from Hanoi. The French announced this date that they were withdrawing from the heavily populated centers within 55 to 75 miles south and southeast of Hanoi, embracing thousands of villages populated by around four million Vietnamese, thus leaving those villages to control by the Vietminh. That left French control only of the narrow strip between Hanoi and Haiphong as an evacuation route, which the Vietminh were expected soon to hit with a massive attack which could crush the French Union forces, absent a cease-fire. The Vietminh usually had staged their heaviest attacks during the monsoon rainstorms because it immobilized French armor and airstrike capability, and the monsoon season was about to begin. There was also a danger of civil uprising as the Vietminh swept into the thousands of villages, where some seven million Vietnamese lived, as those villagers had been sympathetic to the Vietminh troops rather than to the French or Vietnamese national army. This latest threat followed by nearly two months the fall of the French fortress at Dien Bien Phu on May 7. A map of North Viet Nam is included, with the key areas shown.

A report from San Salvador in El Salvador indicates that Guatemala's rival anti-Communist chieftains had haggled until nearly dawn on this date in a vain attempt to agree on a peace settlement which would give the country its fourth government in the course of a week. The talks transpired between the rebel leader, former Army Col. Carlos Castillo Armas, and the leader of the new three-man military junta, Col. Elfego Monzon, and was being mediated by El Salvadorean President Oscar Osorio, who expressed optimism that a settlement could be reached. Both leaders announced to the press that they were continuing the cease-fire until the following morning to try to effectuate a peace by studying several proposals made by each side, the particulars of which had not been disclosed. Peace appeared, however, remote as Col. Monzon's junta rushed troops to Communist strong points in Guatemala where vengeful Communist leaders were reported trying to foment uprisings and Communist-indoctrinated farmworkers were said to be inciting revolt in three hotbeds of Communism about 30 miles outside Guatemala City.

A suspended Federal Housing Administration official refused this date to answer questions, pursuant to the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination, before the Senate Banking Committee regarding "girlie parties" and fishing trips to Mexico, as part of the Committee's investigation of housing program scandals. The questions, some of which the story provides, implied that contractors had put on the parties for the officials. The official who refused to testify had been suspended the previous Friday as assistant FHA director for New Mexico.

In New York, 17,000 telephone equipment installers and maintenance workers of the Communications Workers Union were called on strike across the country, but a delay in picketing eased any immediate threat of interruption of phone communications. While long distance operators would likely not cross picket lines, as they had refused to do in the past, local service would remain in operation with its automatic equipment. The strike was called after a breakdown in negotiations between one union local and Western Electric, the manufacturing arm of A.T.&T. The union was seeking a new contract with various benefits. The strike would impact telephone operations in 44 states and the District of Columbia. In Charlotte, 165 equipment installers of Western Electric had gone on strike this date in response to the nationwide call, but a spokesman for Southern Bell said that local service had not been affected and he did not expect it to be.

In Pittsburgh, U.S. Steel, producer of more than one-third of the nation's steel, announced this date an increase in prices averaging three dollars per ton, occurring days after it had settled a new contract with the United Steelworkers, providing for a nickel per hour wage increase and improved pension and insurance benefits. Other steel producers were expected to follow the lead of U.S. Steel in increasing prices, as they had reached similar accommodations with workers. The previous day, Benjamin Fairless, president of U.S. Steel, had said that the increases were necessary because of the new contract. The largest customers of the steel industry were the automobile industry and manufacturers of home appliances and farm equipment.

From Eagle Pass, Tex., it was reported that at least 55 persons were dead in the most devastating flood in history along the Rio Grande, with the death toll still rising. Thirty-eight of the dead had been recovered at low-lying Piedras Negras, Mexico, across the river from Eagle Pass. At Ozona, Tex., a town nearly 100 miles north of the river, at least 16 others had been killed in flash floods on Monday. There were few casualties and no bodies recovered upstream at Del Rio, Laredo and Nuevo Laredo, the latter across the river in Mexico.

In Charlotte the previous day, 15-year old Sonny Bankhead of Hamlet won the 17th local Soap Box Derby, following four consecutive annual attempts without success. The boy, explained his father, had spent two months of hard work breaking in the wheels of the racer, placing them on an old racer and running up and down the road near their house every evening. But one of the officials disqualified the wheels as having been the object of tampering, though his father denied it. That forced the boy to put new wheels on the race car, and the crowd, after becoming aware of the problem, cheered him on to victory. More than 3,000 spectators had turned out on a hot afternoon to watch the event.

An included photograph of the successful racer has an unfortunate natural crop via the placement of his left arm over part of what we presume to be the word "Butter", whether unintentional or the result of some adolescent humor. Regardless, in a world as messed up and generally devoid of humor as this one in 1954, who can blame them? Whether the picture, incidentally, perhaps somehow inspired the famous LBJ "daisy" ad a decade hence, airing once during the 1964 presidential campaign, no one could say probably.

On the editorial page, "Forcing the Issue Is Dubious Strategy" indicates that when the Supreme Court had, on May 17, decided Brown v. Board of Education, declaring segregation of public schools unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment Equal Protection Clause, it had left until the following term of the court the decision regarding implementation, inviting briefing from the 17 affected states regarding how to effect desegregation.

Within that atmosphere, it relates, a test had been made during the week of the policy of segregating diners in the new restaurant at Municipal Airport in Charlotte, with a spokesman for a group of black residents appearing before the City Council, indicating that the group had been refused service in the main dining room and coffee shop, contending that it was the result of racial discrimination, requesting that the Council take appropriate action to assure public use of the restaurant on fair and reasonable terms and without unjust discrimination. The Council referred the matter to the City Attorney.

The piece indicates that it would be interesting to see what the City Attorney had to say of the matter, opines that if the City of Charlotte were operating the restaurant, it would be doubtful that discrimination on the basis of race would be legal, but because it was leased to a private operator, the legal question was whether the private restaurateur fell within the ambit of "state action", necessary for operation of the Fourteenth Amendment, even though the leased property was public property, paid for jointly by the City and the Federal Government.

It finds that the "more impetuous" black leaders would not be inclined to wait for court clarification of the segregation laws and would likely try to force the issue in all public and quasi-public services, that it might be a profitable short-range strategy, but over the long haul would make it more difficult for "reasonable men of both races to try to resolve longstanding differences", and would thus delay the objectives sought by those who were forcing the issues.

The issue would ultimately be resolved in such situations as embracing "state action", and the particular type of discrimination in a private restaurant, regardless of "state action", would be covered by the 1964 Civil Rights Act, deriving its authority for Congressional action in the field from the Commerce Clause, rather than the Fourteenth Amendment Equal Protection Clause, that is to say that any private facility open to the public and operating in such a manner as to affect substantially interstate commerce falls within the ambit of the Act. Three years prior to President Johnson signing into law the Act, however, the issue of a privately operated restaurant within a publicly-owned facility had been resolved by the Supreme Court as "state action" violative of the Fourteenth Amendment, in Burton v. Wilmington Parking Authority, the case of a private restaurant in a publicly owned parking deck.

"Terminal Relocation Movement Grows" indicates that the Chamber of Commerce and the City Council deserved a vote of thanks for throwing their combined weight behind a move to encourage the Southern Railway to locate its freight terminal at the fringe of the city, following its destruction by fire the previous week. The move, it again indicates, would relieve considerably the downtown congestion.

"An Opportunity for the Commissioners" indicates that the state's antiquated justice of the peace system had finally received due attention from the State Bar Association, directing the State Judicial Council, composed of lawyers and judges, to find a way to eliminate the system's abuses, with special emphasis on the handling of traffic cases. The Bar Association had noted that in 1949, a law permitted county commissioners in 26 counties to limit the number of magistrates in the county and put them on a salaried basis rather than on their current fee basis, with Mecklenburg having been one of the counties granted the authority. Thus far, Mecklenburg had not availed itself of the opportunity to eliminate the fee system, the main cause for the abuse. After citing examples of abuses in Edgecombe, Craven and Yadkin Counties within the system, it recommends that the County Commission do so.

A piece from the Salisbury Post, titled "A Mystery Survives", indicates that, to its knowledge, the term "S.O.B." had been used in a staff-written story for the first time at the newspaper just a few days earlier. It had appeared in wire reports previously in conjunction with the use of it by former President Truman during his Presidency anent Drew Pearson, but had been referred to in blank, despite being in current usage in the language and having not even yet "taken on the affectionate undertones which simple 'bastard' has won in effete cocktail circles of the metropolitan East and the panting-hard-behind outposts of Florida and California."

When the editors heard it or saw it in print, they were reminded of the special appearance of the late Laurence Stallings, co-author of What Price Glory, as a lecturer for a UNC English composition class on a morning in 1922, beginning his lecture, apparently wanting to startle the 25 to 30 students present, with the statement, "A human S.O.B. is a biological impossibility." It relates that during the first five minutes of the lecture, everyone had concentrated on being embarrassed, including the four or five graduate student coeds in the class, but the remainder of the lecture had been very profitable.

"The perfect gentleman, the perfect physical specimen, the complete fool, the deadpan, the drizzlepuss, the indefatigable worker, the life of the party, and an hundred other stock characters of conversation more or less polite, do not actually exist, as they are frequently declared to exist."

It finds, therefore, that striving after "biological impossibilities" had become a major factor in the virility of the American vulgate, probably cultivating more imagination in the "low-level mental bracket" than had the stoically prosaic strictures of formal education. America had been raised on a "patois of biological impossibilities ranging from wizards of Wall Street to dreamboats, from silver tongued orators to squares."

It ventures that as there was a great national gift for metaphor and hyperbole, why "S.O.B." had survived so long as a "top rank recourse for those whose powers of feeling outstretch their powers of expression within realistic limits" remained something of a mystery.

U.S. News & World Report presents a colloquy between the editors and Dr. Cuyler Hammond, in charge of statistical research for the American Cancer Society, regarding the link between smoking and cancer, after conducting interviews with 187,766 smokers and non-smokers. He indicates that they had not determined how much smoking shortened life, but that the statistics showed that smokers lived about five years less on average than non-smokers in the study. Generally, he said that the findings very strongly suggested that smoking increased the death rate among white males between the ages of 50 and 69, those chiefly comprising the study. They did not discern between cancer and heart disease as the cause of death, but the doctor guessed that cancer was the long-term effect and that the effect on heart disease was more acute, indicating that more recent smoking would be more likely to have that impact.

He stated that his guess would be that if one had smoked between the ages of 20 and 50 and then stopped, it might be helpful, but that there was no proof one way or the other on that point, as there were few men whom they had studied in that category.

Several previous studies had shown an adverse effect on the heart from smoking, that smoking only a few cigarettes caused an increase in blood pressure, a rise in the heart rate and a constriction of the small blood vessels.

The public, however, had been primarily concerned with cancer as a result of smoking, that people were not generally skeptical when told by a physician to stop smoking. The study, said the doctor, was the only direct proof of which he was aware that smoking was dangerous to someone who had a prior heart attack, and the point had been widely accepted previously in the medical profession but now was bolstered by statistical proof. He said that the chance of dying of a heart attack was increased by 95 percent by heavy cigarette smoking, whereas the chance of dying of cancer was increased by 156 percent, and that a greater number of people who smoked died as a result of heart conditions than those who died from cancer.

He said that probably removing all of the nicotine from cigarettes would be more important than anything else in curtailing its adverse health effects. He equated it, however, with removing the caffeine from coffee, that he had doubts cigarettes would provide the same pleasure to the smoker without the nicotine. But he also suggested that science might discover a way to do that. He said there was great evidence that nicotine caused the heart problems, but carbon monoxide resulting from cigarette smoking could not be eliminated as a cause. He indicated that people had made a distinction between the "tar" in cigarettes and the nicotine, but that tar was actually a mixture of substances which could be collected by the condensation of cigarette smoke in experiments, that it was not a scientific term and also did not identify any particular substance, only a mixture.

The study did not test to see whether cigarette smokers inhaled, because many people inhaled unwittingly and could not have answered the question, therefore, correctly. The doctor guessed, however, that inhaling was more dangerous than not inhaling.

He said that as a result of the study, he had given up cigarettes and switched to a pipe, but would advise people completely to give up smoking, though smoking heavily was more dangerous and smoking a pipe or cigars less dangerous than smoking cigarettes. He said that they had developed no information on whether a filter tip was less dangerous than an unfiltered cigarette, that he believed that a filter could be made which excluded all of the nicotine and all of the tar, but was not sure anyone would smoke such a cigarette, that the problem was to obtain a cigarette which tasted good but also reduced the danger.

In response to a question whether pipe tobacco also did not contain nicotine and so why it would be less dangerous, he indicated that he did not know, that statistics showed, however, that death rates were a lot lower among pipe smokers than among cigarette smokers, that he could speculate that there was a lot of condensation of the smoke within the pipe stem and that relatively few regular pipe smokers inhaled, whereas a great many cigarette smokers inhaled. There was also a different type of tobacco used for pipes, with a different additive. He said that because there were a relatively small number of pipe and cigar smokers within the sample, they did not have as much information on those types of smoking as on cigarette smoking, that the statistics showed that there might be some types of cancer related to cigar and pipe smoking and that they hoped to have more reliable information on the matter within a year or two, but that until that time, he did not want to make any definite statements regarding pipe and cigar smoking.

Drew Pearson, in Kansas City, tells of the President having wound up in the hospital recently, after a seizure in the wings during a performance of "Call Me Madam", having come about because of his loyalty to friends, causing him not to slow down his schedule after doctors advised him to do so. Months earlier, he had set a piano-trumpet duet with James Petrillo, head of the American Musicians Union, to occur at their annual convention during June. After doctors advised him against attending, he sent his regrets initially, but then backtracked and agreed to appear, remembering all the things Mr. Petrillo had done for him during the 1948 campaign, saying that he could not let a good friend down.

Kansas City, which during Mr. Truman's Presidency had often criticized and scoffed at him, now embraced him with open arms. Some people had been skeptical as to whether he could adjust to his old stomping grounds after the luxuries afforded him as President, but he had, eschewing, for instance, bodyguards which some of his friends had offered him, believing that no guard could protect him if somebody wanted to get at him. Mr. Pearson relates that while he had been President, he had not wanted air conditioning in the White House because if he had it, people would stay too long. Mrs. Truman had overruled his old-fashioned views on air conditioning recently and insisted that the hospital where he was staying place him in an air-conditioned room, away from the 100-degree heat of Kansas City.

Mr. Pearson indicates that during his Presidency, Mr. Truman had no great regard for him, but had graciously granted him a television interview in January, during which he had been very friendly. At one time during his Presidency, his "lack of affection" for Mr. Pearson had been so severe that Clayton Fritchey, up for an appointment to the White House staff, had nearly been declined because he was a friend of Mr. Pearson, after Attorney General Howard McGrath had warned the President of the fact, Mr. Pearson noting that the Justice Department at the time had his phone tapped. Nevertheless, Mr. Fritchey was hired.

A letter writer from Myrtle Beach, S.C., indicates that in the previous few years, Senator McCarthy had risen to national prominence by browbeating and insulting generals, Cabinet secretaries and even the President, making many statements unsupported by fact. He suggests that during World War II, the President and his advisers had allowed much material to be officially taken from the nation which should have stayed put, that the Soviets had not stolen the secrets but were freely provided them through consular and diplomatic services. But now, people who were merely doing as they were told in earlier days were being classed as subversives. He finds that when for years, Dr. Robert Oppenheimer had been privy to classified atomic secrets and then suddenly was regarded as a security risk because he had not been favorable to development of the hydrogen bomb, it was a very bad thing. He finds that the danger lay not in an opinion by a nuclear scientist, as he was but one man, but rather in schooled and dominated thought, contrary to freedom of thought and speech. He indicates that the fact was that there were no real secrets when more than one person knew the answer to a question, that freer dissemination of facts spread knowledge and did not strangle it. He urges readers to learn the story of the signers of the Declaration of Independence presented in the current issue of Collier's and to ponder it deeply, as they had been filled with fear but had carried on despite it.

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