The Charlotte News

Saturday, January 1, 1955


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that Russia reportedly this date had offered to free three Americans held prisoner for years inside the Soviet Union, two of them since 1949, and one since 1945. The Soviets had released five Austrians during the week whom they had held as World War II prisoners, and one of the released prisoners told Vienna newsmen that he had seen the three Americans at a prison camp southeast of Moscow, that all three had appeared in good health and spirits, and expected to be released shortly. There were reported conditions attached to the release of the three Americans, but Secretary of State Dulles, when asked about the matter at his press conference the previous day, had said that he was not yet aware of a Soviet diplomatic note's subject or content. Later, spokesmen for the State Department refused to discuss the matter. Speculation on the attached conditions focused on the possibility that the Soviets desired, in exchange, the release of the 15 to 20 Russian sailors who had been interned on Formosa and reportedly were seeking asylum to the U.S.

In Paris, U.N. Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold had spoken for an hour at the Orly airfield this date with French Premier Pierre Mendes-France, and then departed for New Delhi en route to Communist China where he would confer with Premier and Foreign Minister Chou En-lai regarding the release of the 11 U.S. airmen being held by Communist China as spies. He would also seek the freedom of other U.N. personnel held by the Communists since the end of the Korean War in July, 1953. There was no statement issued on the subjects discussed by the French Premier and the Secretary-General. Mr. Hammarskjold had also discussed matters in London with top British officials. While in New Delhi, he would confer with Prime Minister Nehru.

In Raleigh, it was reported that legislative leaders, preparing to begin the biennial session of the General Assembly the following week, would be concerning themselves with the state's finances, with the possibility of raising state taxes, and with the issue of school desegregation. Most of the legislators contacted agreed that the state could take no final action regarding desegregation until after the Supreme Court issued its implementing decision in Brown v. Board of Education, expected the following spring. One lawmaker of Pitt County, however, said that he believed the Legislature should circumvent the decision in whatever way it could, that there was no reason to await the decision of the Court, as they already knew what it would say. Some agreed with a legislator of Wilson that the Legislature should adopt a policy statement on segregation to alert the Court as to how the state felt about its elimination. The original decision, holding continued public school desegregation unconstitutional, had been handed down the prior May 17. Oral arguments in the implementing decision, originally scheduled for early December, had been postponed until Justice-nominate John Harlan could be confirmed by the Senate.

Thus far during the holiday weekend, 40 persons had lost their lives in motor vehicle accidents and three others had died in fires across the country. The National Safety Council estimated that traffic accidents would claim 240 lives during the weekend, somewhat less than the 392 killed on the roads during the Christmas holiday weekend. A typical non-holiday weekend of the same 54-hour duration on December 10 through 12 had resulted, according to the Associated Press, in 331 deaths from traffic accidents.

In Spartanburg, S.C., an eight-year old boy who had been attacked and chewed by two dogs remained in critical condition in the hospital this date. He had gone on an errand to a neighbor's home at the time of the attack, and doctors said that his wounds had required 160 stitches, that he might lose an arm and a leg. Many people who had heard of his plight were sending contributions to his parents. The boy's mother said that the family had lost their home three years earlier from a fire and had just begun to get back to normal when the attack on their son had occurred. She said that her husband had recently taken a reduction in pay when production at the plant where he worked was curtailed.

In Gastonia, N.C., an AWOL Marine was being held in the county jail this date charged with a shotgun murder the previous day of his father, a part-time minister and textile worker. The Marine said that he had gone home, got out of the car in the driveway, cocked the double-barreled 12-gauge shotgun and fired it at his father from a distance of about 6 feet away, hitting his father in the neck, face and chest, killing him instantly. He said that his father had been cussing at his mother and the rest of the family, and that he had often hit his mother and threatened to kill her, that he knew it would have to be either his father or his mother who would die. After the shooting, he had thumbed a ride into Mount Holly, about two miles away, and informed his older brother of what he had done, and the two hurried back to the scene, at which point his brother called the county coroner. He had obviously made a New Year's resolution of some kind.

Also in Gastonia, three teenage boys had been injured early in the morning from an exploding firecracker and one of them was believed to have suffered permanent loss of vision in both of his eyes. The boys had been in the back seat of a car and one of them was said to have lighted a firecracker which had gone off immediately, inflicting the injuries.

One of the first 1955 babies in the West had been born at the Great Falls, Mont., Air Force Base, one second after midnight, a 7.5 pound girl.

In Charlotte, residents welcomed the new year the previous night in nightclubs and in quiet churches, with fireworks heard despite their illegality, and horns having been honked aplenty at midnight. Independence Square had been filled with crowds and the nightclubs reported packed houses, while thousands attended midnight services at churches throughout the city. The first baby born in Charlotte in the new year had been brought into the world at Mercy Hospital 30 seconds after midnight, a girl. Two attempts at store-breaking had been reported by police early during the morning, in one of which, nothing had been taken, and in the second, a safe was found open and a large quantity of office equipment was missing, the owner reporting that there had been nothing in the safe.

In Long Beach, Calif., a woman was in the living room of her apartment when a New Year's Eve celebrant, carrying his shoes in his hands, had entered with the greeting, "Hi honey, I guess I'll go to bed." The woman said she did not know who he was, to which the man had said that she should quit kidding him, whereupon the man stripped to his shorts and went to bed. When police arrived in response to the woman's call, they awakened the man, finding that he had mistaken the apartment for his own, two doors down, and they arrested him on a charge of public drunkenness.

In Tokyo, a tailor who had puzzled competitors by consistently underselling them, had done so, according to police, by making his suits from cloth stolen from other tailor shops.

A Soviet satirical magazine, Krokodil, had taken a long look at pianist Liberace, whose name the magazine had transformed to Leeberice, and decided that he was no genius, that his father had been correct in grooming him to be an undertaker, as he was the "gravedigger of art". The magazine also said that the same things which produced horror comics, gangster movies and training grounds for "young sadists and murderers" were responsible for Liberace's success. It said that he had one great gift, "a beautiful thick mop of hair."

On the editorial page, "Annual Report to Our Readers" performs a retrospective on its editorials during the year, indicating it was always humiliating as some of the prophecies they had ventured had not occurred and that many of the projects and proposals they had supported appeared to be as far from occurring as they had been when they were first proposed.

It cites as example the column's August 3 charge that the Senate had done a shameful thing in assigning the question of the censure of Senator McCarthy to a select committee, as it had assumed that the committee would not make its report in time for the Senate to act on it, resulting in the censure resolution becoming involved in the campaign, with the Senator and his allies able to claim a victory because the Senate would not act. But the select committee, chaired by Senator Arthur Watkins and including North Carolina Senator Sam Ervin as a member, had made the editorial look silly.

Another editorial in September, titled "A Powerful Man Heads for Washington", regarded South Carolina's State Senator Edgar Brown, who it assumed was virtually assured membership in the Senate after the state Democratic committee had nominated him for the seat of the late Senator Burnet Maybank. But Mr. Brown was defeated by the write-in campaign of former Governor Strom Thurmond.

It also touches on some local issues which had not gone as it had predicted.

It hopes that 1955 would be the year that Charlotte would establish a human relations group to pave the way for solutions of problems attending desegregation. It indicates that it was looking to the General Assembly to act favorably on some of the newspaper's 1954 proposals, some of which it sets out again. On the national and international fronts, the newspaper had summed up its most serious concern in evaluating the 83rd Congress on August 24, indicating its most important failure had been that it had closed its eyes to the danger of external Communism, as the Communist machine was achieving new victories and the free world alliance was falling apart, instead concentrating on the smaller threat of internal subversion and espionage, the editorial having suggested that candidates should not be permitted to let that record against domestic Communism obscure the fact that Congress and the entire Administration had "miserably failed to stand up to the danger presented by that totalitarian threat." It indicates that perhaps the failure in foreign policy had not been as complete as it had suggested the previous summer, but the deficiency was sufficient to be alarming, with the retreat in Indo-China constituting another Munich through the truce signed at Geneva—albeit not by the U.S.—, the reduction of military expenditures, the failure to increase economic, and technical and informational programs overseas, as the Communists had done. It concludes that those failures and deficiencies would make 1955, at best, a trying year.

"Now the Anti-Communists Are Suspect" indicates that in spring, 1953, James Wechsler, editor of the New York Post, had been interrogated by Senator McCarthy because of his admitted past in the Communist Party, the editor responding that he had written volumes against Communism since his break with the party, producing a recent denunciation of him by the central committee of the party. At that point, Senator McCarthy looked at the statement and asked him whether he had written it.

It suggests that it was a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" technique of determining loyalty, by which a person was held suspect whether there was agreement or disagreement with the Communists.

It indicates that it had supposed that such preposterous reasoning was on the wane along with Senator McCarthy, but it had been espoused again in Washington the prior Thursday when an official of the Administration, John Glen Cassity, the security chief of the Agriculture Department, labeled Wolf Ladejinsky, a land reform expert, a security risk.

Mr. Cassity had told newsmen that there was no evidence that Mr. Ladejinsky had ever been a member of the Communist Party, that he had left his native Russia as a young man shortly after the 1917 Revolution, denouncing Communism then and repeatedly in U.S. magazine articles as long as 20 years earlier.

The reason he had been declared a security risk was because he had written anti-Communist articles ten years earlier when he still had relatives in Russia, according to Mr. Cassity, despite the fact that he had not spoken to his relatives in eight years. Mr. Cassity reasoned that no one would write articles critical of the Communist Government with close family members still living in Russia unless he had reason to believe that his family would not be harmed.

It indicates that Mr. Ladejinsky had been critical of Communism when anti-Communism had been unpopular, but now, because he had the courage to speak out, he was suspect. It expresses shame that such an Orwellian concept as that of Mr. Cassity was seriously advanced in the country, and also is ashamed of the President and Secretary of Agriculture Ezra Taft Benson for their tacit acquiescence in the matter.

"Dr. Vann Marshall Matthews" indicates that the physician who had just died after practicing medicine in Charlotte for 34 years as a general practitioner was becoming a fond memory of the good old days when family doctors made house calls. He had also been interested in obstetrics and had an influential part in establishing Mercy Hospital's new maternity wing. He had also been elected as the director of the American Congress on Maternal Welfare. It says that thousands of local residents had been brought into the world by "Dr. Vann" and that he would be sorely missed in the community.

A piece from the Greensboro Daily News, titled "The McCarthy Game", indicates that Senator Ralph Flanders of Vermont, who had introduced the censure resolution against Senator McCarthy, did not trust the latter at all and so was prepared should Senator McCarthy seek to make something of a flimsy relationship he had with Alger Hiss by the fact that Mr. Hiss's brother-in-law was the husband of Senator Flander's brother's sister-in-law, until they had become divorced.

It suggests that the Senator might be kidding by saying that Senator McCarthy might use that fact against him, but it hopes he was not kidding about being prepared. It hopes that he would investigate the McCarthy family tree, in which case he might find that a female cousin of Senator McCarthy's great grandmother had gone to London as an Irish maid and was there employed in the household of Karl Marx, while the wife of a cousin of a friend of the Senator might be found to have voted for Henry Wallace in 1948. It concludes that there were all kinds of possibilities if one cared to play the McCarthy game.

Drew Pearson lists several people who had done something to make government better, their country greater and the world a finer place in which to live during 1954. He starts with Stanley McConnell of the Federal Supply Service, who had saved the Atomic Energy Commission about $23,000 by locating 23 new automobiles inside a Midwest warehouse, where they had been stored by an AEC bureaucrat who had surplus money at the end of the year and spent it on automobiles rather than sending it back to the Treasury.

Thomas Proctor, head of Post Office production, found that mail bags sent to Iron Curtain countries did not come back, and so he substituted cheap burlap bags.

Hal Kleinstuber of the General Services Administration found that 480,000 worn-out mail bags had piled up in the Post Office, not good enough to continue to carry mail but too good to throw away, and so he sent them to the foreign aid administration where they were now being used to carry rice to Indo-China.

Helen Kolesz, a 72-year old Polish-born naturalized citizen from Ohio, had set a record selling Government bonds, having worked through both world wars peddling bonds on the streets. Her total sales had never been tabulated but they were supposed to be in the millions of dollars worth, and she had worked until her death a few days earlier.

Federal prisoners at the Atlanta Penitentiary had voluntarily allowed themselves to be infected with malaria to help find a cure, which had in fact been discovered.

Jiggs Donahue, former commissioner of the District of Columbia, had defended without cost Val Lorwin, the State Department official accused by Senator McCarthy of being a Communist and for four years had to fight against the unjust accusation and indictment, finally dismissed by the Justice Department. Mr. Lorwin had not become bitter despite having to live under that cloud for four years.

Joseph Fanelli, a Washington attorney, had defended Abraham Chasanow, a Navy employee who lived under a security cloud for a year and then was provided a public apology by the Navy Department.

U.S. District Court Judge Luther Youngdahl had rejected the Government's motion that he recuse himself for supposed bias because of his rulings dismissing part of the original indictment against Owen Lattimore, continuing to preside over Mr. Lattimore's trial of his second renewed indictment.

Henry Ford had championed American liberties through his Ford Foundation.

Senator Wayne Morse of Oregon, despite bitter attacks from politicians in both parties, had never lost his sense of humor or his earthy touch.

The Wall Street Journal had sacrificed $250,000 of General Motors advertising by insisting on the right to publish a description of the new General Motors cars.

The Alsop brothers had exposed some of the shams of the so-called security system of the Government, especially the dubious record of Paul Crouch, the professional witness for the Justice Department.

Bob Hope had given up Christmas at home for many years to entertain American troops in the Arctic.

Bishop Bernard Sheil of Chicago had accomplished great work for boys.

Father Robert Hartnett, editor of the Jesuit magazine "America", had written courageous and penetrating editorials on McCarthyism.

Reverend A. Powell Davies of Washington had been a champion of tolerance and free speech.

Bishop G. Bromley Oxnam, despite unfair attacks by members of HUAC, had not hesitated to continue his fight against witch-hunting.

Joseph Alsop, in Haiphong, tells of the current Asian drama being the struggle for control of southern Indo-China, with a large audience in Cambodia, Thailand, Malaya, Indonesia and Burma, who wished to know which side to choose when the drama recommenced in those countries.

On one side of the struggle was the conviction which Mr. Alsop had witnessed firsthand in South Vietnam in the main southern base of the Vietminh, which consisted of a remarkable power to do much with little, as well as the power of the large Communist military force which was being built up in the North. On the other side, there was nothing except confusion and open warfare between the civil and military branches of the non-Communist Government of the South, with that crisis having ended after several months with a supposed solution which was worse than that during Chiang Kai-shek's last year on the mainland of China in 1949. The South Vietnamese Army was demoralized and disorganized and the civil administration was generally corrupt where it existed at all, in most places having less authority than the underground administration of the Vietminh, with large areas controlled by private armies of the native religious sects, which more closely resembled the "Capone mob" than any normal religious organization. Over the chaos was Premier Ngo Dinh Diem, completely honest and virtuous but wholly out of contact with reality, presiding with certainty that all would be well.

The combined efforts of French commander, General Paul Ely, and his old friend and partner, General Lawton Collins, had thus far failed to straighten out the mess, as all of their sound advice was being ignored by Premier Diem and there was no prospect of improvement in sight. Mr. Alsop suggests that perhaps the position would be better if the American policymakers had not deprived General Collins of all bargaining power by committing him to absolute support of Premier Diem.

It appeared that Communist victory in the South was imminent, and the French Government had the responsibility in that event of evacuating 40,000 native Frenchmen and many tens of thousands of Vietnamese holding French citizenship. That would require probably a year to effect and so the warning would have to be provided by the following spring or summer to have reasonable time prior to the Indochinese election scheduled for July, 1956. To give the warning prematurely would mean hastening the fall of South Vietnam to the Communists, precipitating the collapse of the Saigon Government, with a new government with Vietminh sympathizers in key posts, surely to take over immediately.

With those prospects in mind, the bland language and optimistic actions of officials in Washington appeared increasingly inexplicable. There were 500,000 Indochinese Catholic refugees from the North who were in squalid camps in the South, all having been encouraged and assisted by the U.S. Government in their flight. Mr. Alsop suggests that the refugees would have been better off in their own homes and fields in the North should the Communists take over the South anyway. It would also have been better for General Collins not to have been ordered to undertake his mission, which most Asians now regarded as a U.S. guarantee of Southern Indo-China. In the event of a Communist victory in the South, that failed guarantee would be doubly demoralizing.

Mr. Alsop concludes that the wisest Administration leaders had warned the President that abandonment of North Vietnam to the Communists the prior July as part of the Geneva truce was effectively an Asian version of Munich in 1938, which he regards as a lesson not learned in Washington.

Lester Rand, in a condensed piece from the New York Times Magazine, discusses teenage fads, with emphasis on dress, suggesting that there was no telling what would come next.

In the Midwest, teenage girls were writing their friends long letters each night because their parents had clamped down on overuse of the telephone every evening, resulting in the girls having to impart to their friends each day's gossip and events, handing their friend the letter the following morning.

Teenage couples were walking about "handcuffed" via paperclips attached to their wristwatch bands. High school students went around wearing placards on their neckties which asked such things as who was dating someone or reminded not to forget the upcoming dance. Girls were wearing Texas ties on their blouses, sometimes as many as three at a time. Some boys in the Midwest simultaneously went into a period of mourning after flunking an exam. Girls in various parts of the country were adopting movie stars' names for themselves for a few days at a time. No one knew why these fads were taking place.

Similarly, a few years earlier, no one had understood why girls were wearing dog collars around their ankles or different colored ribbons to denote their dating status, or why boys had put hashmarks on their sleeves to indicate their years in high school, or why couples who had an argument were forming nonaggression pacts.

Broadly speaking, the teenagers wanted acceptance from their contemporaries and adolescence was a natural period of resistance to parental and teacher control, and so they found comfort in conforming to their own age group while distinguishing themselves from their elders, expressing individuality by wearing more and crazier charms or being the first to use a new bit of slang. They were also responding apparently to larger social forces around them, with the sloppy appearance adopted after World War II having been a reflection of the fact that many of the older girls were working in factory jobs in slacks and sweaters, that there was general austerity and that there were fewer young men around for whom to look attractive. But now there was a trend toward trimmer dress, even in casual clothes, and girls were using more cosmetics but using them better. The reason was probably that there was more dating available than during the war years and the years immediately afterward. Boys right after the war admired those in uniform and had dressed and walked in a fashion mimicking those in military service.

Mr. Rand concludes: "So the going-together couples carve each other's initials in the soles of their shoes; they use locks of each other's hair as bookmarks; they wear the names of their opposites in their lapels. They are, all in all, pseudo-sophisticates teetering on the edge of growing up. And, while teetering, they are having a wonderful time."

A letter writer suggests that the new Congress would have an obligation to return to the old fixed price control support system for farm products, that if farm prices were permitted to continue falling, a pattern for a general recession or depression would be set.

A letter writer comments on the editorial regarding the hardening traffic arteries in Charlotte and shares its enthusiasm for the work of the City traffic engineer, Herman Hoose, agreeing that he should have freer rein to put his plans into effect. He favors passing a law to make it mandatory for half the drivers in the city to deflate their tires every hour on the hour, such that while they were getting them reinflated, some of the other drivers would have a chance to ride around on the streets in comfort.

A letter writer from Cheraw, S.C., indicates that with the new year, people could feel proud of the fact that there had been much progress and advancement for all of mankind, but that much still needed to be done. He asks why Russia had opposed the rearmament of West Germany, suggests that it was because they were afraid of German military might and Germany's ability on the field of battle to win over larger forces of an enemy. He indicates that while he did not believe in war, he admired the ability of the German people to accomplish deeds in whatever they undertook to do.

A letter writer finds that the United Appeal telethon, which had been broadcast over WBTV to try to complete the solicitation drive's goal for the year, had been the greatest show ever televised, finding that anyone who could sit through it and make fun of it needed the love of Christ in their heart, that if people had been unselfish enough initially, the Appeal would have received the money it needed without needing to broadcast the telethon. She thanks God that there were so many generous people.

A letter from Donald Charles, chief of the Charlotte Fire Department, thanks the citizens of the city and county, the City Manager, the Mayor, the members of the Civil Service Commission, the City department heads and all City employees for their many courtesies and assistance during the previous year. He also thanks the press, the radio and television stations, the Charlotte Rescue and Life Saving Squad, and civic organizations for their cooperation during the year. He especially wishes to thank the members of the Charlotte Fire Department for their efforts in maintaining a traditionally high standard of public service.

Eighth Day of Christmas: Eight nations sitting.

Ninth Day of Christmas: Nine revolutions spinning.

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