The Charlotte News

Friday, August 13, 1954


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that Senator Guy Gillette of Iowa had argued this date to the Senate that the compromise atomic energy bill between the House and Senate versions would mean "the death knell" for what he called the historic stand by Congress to give publicly owned utilities preference in buying Government power. The Senate version had originally included a provision sponsored by Senator Gillette requiring that the Government give preference to cooperatives and publicly owned utilities in the sale of any atomic power produced by Federal agencies, but the compromise version required the preference only "insofar as practicable". Senator Bourke Hickenlooper of Iowa said that the compromise bill would permit a preference for publicly owned groups located within a range of any future Government power producing atomic plant. The Senate was pushing toward a vote this date on the revised bill designed to carry out the President's program of opening atomic power to private industry and sharing some nuclear secrets with allies.

The Senate had passed a bill unanimously the previous day to outlaw the Communist Party, now before the House. Attorney General Herbert Brownell had not sought the legislation and, indeed, had consistently opposed it, as had FBI director J. Edgar Hoover. Senator Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota had proposed the measure, which proved quite popular in an election year. Senator John Butler of Maryland had proposed a bill to wipe out Communist-dominated labor unions, but wound up adding it to the Humphrey bill in modified form, providing that Communist-dominated unions would lose the right to be certified by the NLRB as bargaining agents.

Senator McCarthy won his request this date for the Senate to pay the salary of an attorney to represent him in the investigation of his official conduct pursuant to the resolution of censure put forth by Senator Ralph Flanders of Vermont. Senator Arthur Watkins of Utah, chairman of the six-Senator special committee considering the charges, announced the decision. Both Senate Majority Leader William Knowland of California and Minority Leader Lyndon Johnson of Texas had approved of the arrangement.

Meanwhile, Senator Karl Mundt of South Dakota, who had acted as chairman of the Investigations subcommittee during the Army-McCarthy hearings between April and mid-June, announced that the subcommittee would likely render its report the following Wednesday or Thursday. He said that there were no important "cleavages of opinion" in rendering the report.

In Cleveland, it was reported that the rubber industry's second major strike began across the nation this date as 25,500 United Rubber Workers union members walked off the job at Firestone Tire & Rubber Co. plants in eight cities. Union officials, who had called a strike of 23,000 Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. workers the previous July 7, had triggered the action against Firestone to coincide with the contract's midnight deadline. Together, about a third of the industry's union members were now on strike. Both Firestone and Goodyear had offered an increase in pay of a nickel per hour to the industry average of $2.08 to $2.10 hourly wages, but the union had rejected the offer as inadequate.

In Camp Springs, Md., three bandits had robbed an Andrews Air Force Base branch bank of $160,000 this date, and police said that a man they had arrested on a speeding charge was considered a suspect. The driver of the vehicle, containing two other men, offered to bribe the officer $20 to let them go, saying he was in a hurry. The officer did not know about the bank robbery, but took all three to the police station, where the other two men had fled when the driver was taken inside for booking on the speeding charge. None of the bank employees had been injured. It was the third bank robbery on a military base in recent months, the Fort Meade branch bank having been robbed twice previously in 1953. One of the three robbers had worn sunglasses, perhaps taking his cue from the sunglasses wearing couple who had robbed the bank in Calypso, N.C., in mid-June.

In Norfolk, Mass., five dangerous convicts had escaped from the state prison colony the previous night after overpowering six guards and taking one of them as a hostage, successfully eluding a manhunt this date. One of the escapees had a gun and all five were considered dangerous, it being the second escape for four of the men during the previous three months. One of the inmates had created a disturbance attracting guards, and when two of the guards opened his cell door, he produced a revolver and ordered the two guards to walk in front of him as a shield, then getting the guard in the tower to lower his machine gun and open the main gate.

In San Bernardino, Calif., a spark from a welder's torch slid through a 60-foot water pipe and ignited some brush, burning eight acres at the northeast edge of the city.

In Santa Monica, Calif., actress Jennifer Jones gave birth to a girl, the first child born of the union with her husband, producer David O. Selznick, though both had two sons each by previous marriages.

In Chicago, when the Irish encountered frustration by a Government ruling, they wrote their Congressman, clearing the path for a shipment of a cubic foot of the Ould Sod for the Irish National Feis, scheduled for the following day in Pilsen Park. They wanted a Loyola of Chicago sociology professor to be able to stand on Irish soil when he delivered the principal address, and so the soil was ordered from the hill of Tara, legendary home of Irish kings. Then the Department of Agriculture said that the earth could not be admitted to the country because it might contain pests. The honorary chairman of the feis then wrote Representative Tom O'Brien of Illinois, and the Department of Agriculture announced the previous day that it would purify the earth from Tara by heat treatment in New York and then send it to Chicago.

Be careful in shipping that dirt, as after it has been dried out by the heat treatment, it may wind up gone with the wind by the time it gets to Chicago.

On the editorial page, "The Disturbing Case of Ernest Steen" indicates that a judge of Recorder's Court on Tuesday had declared that the named defendant had a "warped mind", that anyone with such a record as he had was "dangerous". He had served five years for assault and battery during the 1930's, shortly after his release on which, was arrested for assault and battery with intent to kill, received a suspended sentence on that charge, and less than a month later was sentenced to five years on a third aggravated assault charge, released shortly thereafter and then sentenced several times on minor counts in South Carolina during the early 1940's. It goes on with a chronology of his criminal record during the 1940's, including a 30-day sentence for drunkenness in Mecklenburg County, suspended on condition that he leave the county, an arrest for vagrancy in Wilmington, conviction for assault and battery with intent to kill and carrying a concealed weapon, in Columbia, S.C., in 1946, etc.

He had been picked up by a Mecklenburg County patrolman, along with three other men, the previous Saturday at a gravel pit where they had been drinking canned heat, and where allegedly the defendant in question had hit one of the others with a piece of iron, for which the judge had prescribed a 90-day sentence on the roads, after which the defendant was directed to leave the county for at least two years. One of his co-defendants had received a 30-day road sentence, suspended on condition that he leave the county for at least two years.

It indicates that those who were not judges perhaps did not appreciate their position, that before them each week appeared the "flotsam" of the region, people who were "depraved, deranged", those without the intelligence to live a normal life, or those once-normal persons whose faculties had been dimmed by alcoholism, extreme hardship and mental disorders. Judges understood that state and local institutions were overcrowded and that many of the defendants, judged by the frequency of their appearances in court, appeared incorrigible, and so gave them a road sentence or a suspended sentence, coupled with an order to leave the county.

The Recorder's Court judge in the case being discussed had argued for a state habitual criminal offender law, the piece finding that it could better appreciate that attitude if the courts were fully utilizing existing community resources for rehabilitation or were committing those beyond hope to an institution, but with the exception of one judge in juvenile court, the local courts were not taking advantage of the existing agencies, which were staffed by willing and experienced personnel who could ease the burden of the courts and perhaps save and restore some lives. The Mental Health Clinic, the Family & Children's Service and other community agencies, it indicates, would be glad to assist the courts in that regard.

It suggests that the man who was the subject of the piece was perhaps beyond help, but if so, he should be committed to an institution if medical personnel believed the facts of his case justified it, instead of being turned loose to roam and perhaps kill someone. It urges that judges and social workers get together and come up with a cooperative solution.

"Cool Heads for the Age of Anxiety" indicates that the new 19-person committee just appointed by Governor William B. Umstead to study and make recommendations for adjustment to Brown v. Board of Education, requiring desegregation of public schools, had finally held its first meeting for 2 1/2 hours with the Governor and State Attorney General Harry McMullan. Afterward, the chairman of the group, Tom Pearsall, issued a statement providing the group's objective, that they would approach the problem with an open mind, with the hope and expectation that the public school system of the state could be preserved and strengthened.

The piece thinks that the words rang true and suggested that they would seek to avoid the reckless remedy of some of the other Southern states which would prefer to destroy their public school systems rather than integrate them. It finds that if it was the true feeling of the Governor and the committee, it was admirable, that the state had no other course than to accept the law of the land as set forth by the Supreme Court, that to do otherwise would cause the state to lose its respect for law and order. Even the "Mississippi Plan", whereunder there was an attempt to circumvent the ruling by denying blacks their rights, would rob the state of its honor, indicates that no state could make a mockery of the law and retain its self-respect through history.

It posits that honorable solutions to the problem of integration could be found and it was the duty of the committee, aided by the Institute of Government study which was presented the prior Wednesday, to search earnestly for those solutions. It hopes that the group would recommend that the state participate in the hearings before the Supreme Court in the coming term regarding the implementation of the decision, indicating that Institute of Government director Albert Coates had said that there was no guarantee that others would conceive or satisfactorily demonstrate the case for a pattern of justice which would best fit the needs of North Carolina.

A piece from the Boston Herald, titled "A Baby's World", comments on a six-month old infant who saw something new every day, imagining some of the child's fresh sights.

Whatever floats your boat.

Cecil Prince, the newspaper's newly hired editorial writer who would become the associate editor on October 1, 1955 after the departure the following March of current associate editor Vic Reinemer, writes of Friday the 13th, beginning: "Call Cagliostro, Merlin and Circe. Summon up the weird sisters and send for Graiae and the witch of Endor." He tells of the superstition regarding the day being traceable to the Crucifixion, according to some, but that none of the ancients had liked the day, even before that time. Tradition said that the Bible's great flood and all the confusion in the Tower of Babel had started on Friday, that Eve was supposed to have tempted Adam with an apple on Friday, that in Norse legend, Friday was the day chosen by witches for strange meetings, and throughout Europe, it was known as "Hangman's Day", the favorite time for executions.

The extremely superstitious believed that it was a bad day to move or to begin new work unless finished by midnight. Friday was also supposed to be a bad day for courtships, weddings and births. A bed turned on Friday meant sleepless nights ahead. It was unlucky to visit the sick on Friday or accept a new job, and criminals could expect tougher sentences on a Friday. And he goes on…

To break the hex of Friday the 13th, on the night of Thursday the 12th, one could hop over the foot of the bed and shout, "Rabbit! Rabbit!" Those had to be the last words before going to sleep. Then, upon awakening on the 13th, one would hop back over the foot of the bed onto the floor, shouting, "Hare! Hare!" One would then come to no harm for the remainder of the day. In one attempted case of hex-breaking in Walla Walla, Wash., however, a person had bounded out of bed with such vigor and enthusiasm that he had plunged through an open window and fallen 13 floors to the pavement, shouting the incantation to break the curse the whole way.

He concludes that the moral was that some days it did not pay to get out of bed, regardless of the demonology one understood.

He does not explain how rabbits became involved with the Friday the 13th myth, but perhaps the origin is the same paganism which produced the Easter bunny and eggs in association with the resurrection of spring and rebirth, becoming related to Good Friday and Easter Sunday in the Christian religion.

September 30, 1955 would be a Friday, and so Mr. Prince would not violate the rule of starting a new position on that day of the week, even if starting on a Saturday seemed a bit weird.

All hexes and superstitions, of course, are no more than self-fulfilling prophecies, growing out of associations of the supposedly hexed thing with another thing when some foul occurrence takes place, then taking on a life of its own by fostered continuation through time by those, who, as with the McCarthyite witch-hunters, with malevolent or at least balefully ignorant intent, cast their "spells" on the demonized, which, if the spells then come true, only do so by the fact of intervention of human agency, not supernatural manifestation, fostering the "hex" in a vicious circle with six sides, the ascription to the supernatural being only an attempt to assuage guilt for participation in bringing to fruition the "hex".

Drew Pearson indicates that years earlier when demagogues were demagogues, it was not safe to speak to anyone around the Senate. One Senator of Pennsylvania had an elevator boy fired for saying good morning. Now, most Senators spoke, some for fear that they would offend a constituent and others because they were naturally friendly, with one or two doing so because they liked to bedevil others.

Senator John Sherman Cooper of Kentucky, one of the few Republicans who had announced that he would vote to censure Senator McCarthy, had recently been waiting for a Senate elevator when former Senator Millard Tydings of Maryland, defeated by the campaigning of Senator McCarthy for John Butler in Maryland in 1950, had approached Senator Cooper and they spoke cordially. Out of nowhere then came Senator McCarthy who joined them, with his pudgy assistant, former FBI investigator Frank Carr. Senator McCarthy had a wooden map pointer in his hand and as he approached the elevator, reached out with it and jokingly tapped Senator Cooper on the shoulder, asking him how his campaign was going, to which Senator Cooper, with a smile, said it was not too bad. Senator McCarthy then turned to former Senator Tydings, whose photo he had faked with Communist Party leader Earl Browder during the campaign, leading to the defeat to Mr. Butler, poking him in the ribs with his wooden pointer and asking him how he was, to which Mr. Tydings said that he did not want any part of Senator McCarthy, whereupon the latter broke into hearty laughter, poked Mr. Tydings again, asking whether he knew his assistant, Mr. Carr, who appeared hurt by anyone showing lack of respect for his boss, causing Senator McCarthy to laugh that much louder. During the elevator ride, Senator McCarthy tapped Mr. Tydings some more and said it was good to see him again, and when the elevator door opened and he departed, he wished his critics a cheery goodbye, once again waving his wand.

A reminder that the German lobby had spent several million dollars for the return of industrial property after World War I, only to use it against the U.S. in World War II, had been one factor which helped block the lobby seeking the return presently of German property seized at the end of the war by the U.S. Howard Ambruster, author of Treason's Peace, had been one of those who reminded the Senate of the facts, that Thomas Miller, the alien property custodian under President Warren G. Harding had been convicted of taking huge bribes from German agents to permit the return of German property, and Attorney General Harry Dougherty had also been charged with taking bribes but wound up with a hung jury, 11 to 1 for conviction. Various German documents were seized during and after World War I showing how important bribery had been in influencing Washington officials. In January, 1917, the German Ambassador to the U.S. had sent a message to the Berlin Foreign Office asking for authority to pay $50,000 "as on former occasions" to influence Congress.

During the Senate debate on the censure of Senator McCarthy, Senator Homer Capehart of Indiana had gotten so excited defending the Senator that he looked as if he were playing baseball, lifting one leg in the air as if he were pitching, banging his fist on the desk, while in the Senate cloakroom, Senator Alexander Wiley of Wisconsin commented, "There go the Indiana bellows again!" Just as Senator Capehart had reached his climax, Senator Burnet Maybank of South Carolina let out a "weird bellow" which sounded like "booo", but it had only been his Charleston dialect, as he was calling for a vote.

The Congressional Quarterly tells of the veteran vote in the country being one of the most pervasive of all the groups to which candidates for Congress sought to appeal. The Veterans Administration estimated that there were nearly 21 million veterans in the country, 3.3 million of whom had fought in World War I, with 146,000 still alive from earlier wars. Most were from World War II or Korea, with 15.4 million from the former, of whom 800,000 had also fought in Korea, with a total of 2.7 million from Korea, of whom 1.9 million had seen service for the first time after the start of the Korean War.

New York contained nearly 10 percent of all veterans, with more than two million, while California, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Ohio and Texas each had more than a million. Of the 20.685 million veterans of all wars, 448,000 were currently located in North Carolina, of whom 339,000 were veterans of World War II and 72,000 from the Korean War, some of whom had also fought in World War II. The total veterans of World War I numbered 3.257 million, of whom 58,000 lived in North Carolina, with 2,000 more from earlier wars in the state.

The Senate had passed on August 11 several veterans bills, including legislation to increase by 5 percent the service-connected compensation payments of approximately 2.347 million veterans, widows and dependents. The House had passed the same bill on July 21 on an unanimous roll call vote, despite a statement by Majority Leader Charles Halleck of Indiana that the benefit increase exceeded the rise in the cost of living.

A letter writer from Pittsboro sees no justification for the criticism of what had occurred at the Geneva conference recently and can see no point in what Adlai Stevenson hoped to accomplish by his general tirade against the Republicans for the U.S. "default" in Indo-China. He finds that the responsibility was not to be pinned on one party or the other, that during the Democratic Administration, it was generally accepted at the end of World War II that colonialism was as dead as it could be and on the way out, that England had acted on that basis, granting India's membership in the British Commonwealth. The U.S. had urged the Dutch to do likewise, which they had done in Indonesia. But because the U.S. wanted airbases in France and North Africa, it did not use its influence to obtain independence from the French for Indo-China, but instead went to the aid of France in every manner except to send combat troops, resulting in hatred of the U.S. by the Asian peoples. Republicans had not opposed that action. He believes that the U.S. should not have taken any part in the Chinese civil war, but that the U.S. had, and, having done so, should have followed through to the logical end of the commitment, instead disappointing Chiang Kai-shek and his Nationalist followers and infuriating Communist China. Then, the U.S. did practically the same thing in Indo-China. He believes that the U.S. would be forced to abandon its air bases around the world or lose allied support.

A letter from the president of Labor's League for Political Action of Mecklenburg County indicates that voters would have a chance to show that in a democracy the people could correct their previous errors, referring to the election of 1952 "when the American people … selected an Administration and a Congress pledged to destroy most of the great social programs that were passed in the previous 20 years." He finds that there was indication that the people were learning a lesson after 18 months of the present Administration's "reactionary policies and bungling". He finds that there were fewer jobs, smaller paychecks and tougher interpretations of Taft-Hartley in the current Administration's policies. He urges registration and voting in the midterm elections.

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