The Charlotte News

Thursday, January 20, 1955


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the President had sent to Congress his economic message, setting forth his ten-year plan for achieving 500 billion dollars in annual production, indicating that 1955 promised a high level of jobs and production. He stressed that the Government's role in achieving the increase of 40 percent in production by 1965 would be primarily that of encouraging private initiative, curbing monopoly and avoiding encroachment on industry. Most of the 33 specific recommendations underscored requests that he had made in his State of the Union message of January 6. He gave virtual assurance of a "general, though modest, reduction in taxes" in 1956, made possible by a broad business recovery presently in progress. He warned against the soaring stock market, saying that "continued economic recovery must not be jeopardized by over-emphasis of speculative activity." He said that the Government would meet its responsibility to prevent a financial boom-and-bust, indicating that labor strife often increased in such periods with "serious economic repercussions". He again called on Congress to increase the minimum wage from 75 to 90 cents per hour, discouraging the proposals of labor leaders and some Democrats for a minimum wage of between one dollar and $1.25, stating that the higher minimum wage could cause lower production and substantial unemployment in several industries. He encouraged expanding the minimum wage protection gradually to 20 million workers presently not covered. It was the third of three special messages to Congress in January.

In Taipeh, Formosa, it was reported that waves of Nationalist Chinese warplanes had attacked Communist Chinese vessels near the invasion-threatened Tachen Islands this date, according to the Nationalist Defense Ministry, while Nationalist guerrillas, it claimed, continued their battle to maintain their precarious hold on nearby Yikiangshan island, which had been attacked by the Communist Chinese earlier in the week, Peiping radio having asserted two days earlier that the outpost island had fallen to the Communist invaders. There was no official indication of the size of the claimed force still holding their positions. The Defense Ministry claimed that six ships had been sunk near the Tachens. It was also claimed that Nationalist planes had dropped millions of leaflets along the Communist Chinese coast and that other Nationalist planes had sunk two vessels and damaged three others off the coast of Fukien Province on the mainland. The Ministry said that the planes had attacked in waves for 5 1/2 hours and returned without loss, despite encountering Communist Chinese anti-aircraft fire from both land and sea. The attacks marked the second consecutive day of heavy Nationalist air attacks on Communist Chinese shipping.

In East Berlin, the Russians this date released U.S. Army Private William Verdine after holding him in custody for six years, including a long stretch in its most notorious prison camp, the third American released from that camp during the month. The private had been listed by the Army as missing since 1949, having been stationed at the time in West Germany, not far from the U.S.-Soviet zonal frontier. It was said that upon his release, he was not in good health. He was in U.S. military custody and would remain there during an inquiry into the circumstances of his disappearance, facing a possible court-martial for being AWOL or perhaps for desertion, unless he could prove that he accidentally had entered the Soviet zone in 1949.

In Cairo, King Saud canceled a ban on women drivers and also allowed Christian ministers to preach openly in oil company areas of Saudi Arabia, a break from tradition in the ultra-conservative Moslem country. Angry women drivers had started the move. Ever since Aramco had started operations in 1934 in the Persian Gulf area, Christian churches had been forbidden, prompting Christian ministers to travel as "teachers" on weekend trips from Bahrain to hold household services for oil company personnel. American oil officials, in the interests of good will, did not protest against the restrictions placed on Christian worship, but their wives hit the roof about three months earlier when Saudi Arabia had announced that women would no longer be allowed to drive cars. Since practically no Arab women ventured out in public, the edict affected primarily the foreign women, mainly Americans. They had nagged their husbands until the oil company finally brought the matter to the attention of the King, according to one American. An Aramco spokesman in Cairo said the oil company officials had submitted a petition to the King listing the restrictions, the result of which had been that the King had lifted the ban on women drivers and announced that the Christian ministers could reside and preach in oil company areas, though churches would still not be permitted.

In Boston, State prison authorities this date saw indications that the four rebellious convicts holding five guards as hostages in the Massachusetts State Prison on condition that they be released, might soon be ready to settle for less than freedom despite their continued show of defiance, with the standoff entering its third day. The prison's Catholic chaplain and the prison physician had listened to the four inmates for 90 minutes the previous night and later told newsmen that the inmates were determined to hold out but were optimistic regarding the eventual outcome. The two said that one of the inmates' grievances was the long sentences meted by the courts of Massachusetts, taking away all hope of parole. The inmates had agreed that sentencing as practiced in California was proper, based on an indeterminate period limited to life, which provided year-to-year hope for parole based on progress made by the individual inmate while in prison. Family members of each of the convicts had sought the previous day to convince them to release the guards and surrender peacefully, but the pleas had failed. One of the four had refused to talk to his daughter and another had hung up on his mother. Oh, that is bad policy, bad karma. One does not hang up on one's mother.

Whether, incidentally, the inmates' adverting to the California indeterminate sentencing law as a model of justice, changed, with the exception of murder, to a three-tier determinate sentencing law in 1977, based on mitigation, aggravation or a middle term without such factors, is questionable, but there had been commentary, at least some 14 years earlier, regarding the lack of uniformity in sentencing to state prison in Massachusetts.

In Raleigh, Governor Luther Hodges this date turned down the recommendation of the State Highway Commission for a 150 million dollar bond issue for primary highway improvements, stating in a message prepared for delivery at the morning session of the General Assembly a proposal also for closer budgetary control of the Commission, saying that it was time that the highway fund be handled as an integral part of State Government rather than as a separate, unintegrated enterprise.

Ann Sawyer of The News indicates that February 1 had been designated as Testing Day in Charlotte for "Ole Liz", the Civil Defense siren, which would be sounded in five different locations to test its effectiveness over a period of two hours, with police cars stationed at designated points to make official reports regarding the test. The siren was mounted on a trailer which could be moved from location to location. Families of police and fire department personnel would cooperate by making reports from their homes regarding audibility of the siren. The civil defense director for Charlotte said that the siren was entirely different from those of fire, police or ambulances, that the noise was "terrific" and would almost "knock you down." You can say that again, especially when the whirligig comes around to point right in your direction, searing that piercing screaming demon right into your brainpan from only a block away. It used to be the case that where we lived growing up, every noontime on Saturday would bring the terror, not only for humans, but for every dog in the neighborhood, setting up an unholy howl to boot. It got to the point that one wondered where it was worse to have the air raid siren every week or an actual nuclear attack, at least in the latter case, the whole thing set to be over inside of an hour. The worst part, as we have recounted before, was when the thing short-circuited at night. We used to look at it in the daytime, when we would pass it, with a considerable amount of ill foreboding, as if a speaker set one day to tell you of the imminent end to your existence.

A new snowstorm was blowing toward the Carolinas this date, before the remains of the snowstorm of the previous day had been cleared away or melted, with the forecasts indicating that the new snowfall would begin in Charlotte by Saturday night. A low of 18 degrees was predicted for Charlotte for the following day, with the temperature reaching five degrees in the mountains.

In Munich, a reporter for the Munich Merkur told this date of the U.S. Army lie detector test he had taken to obtain material for a feature story, indicating that the operator had asked him whether or not he had ever told an untruth in a story, to which he answered in the negative, with the operator indicating that the needle had then moved erratically, next being asked whether or not the newspaper paid him enough, to which he responded affirmatively, again prompting the needle to move, prompting the embarrassed reporter at that point to end the test.

In Shelby, N.C., a man had caught a catfish and placed it in his refrigerator, had taken it out three days later to prepare it for cooking, whereupon the fish began swimming around, at which point, not having the heart to cook it, he threw it back into a nearby lake.

On the editorial page, "Economy-Conscious North Carolina Should Retain Old-Age Lien Law" indicates that a bill had been introduced to the General Assembly to repeal the law providing for liens on the property of persons accepting old-age assistance, suggesting that while the law might be improved, it should not be repealed.

It was designed to tighten the public assistance program in the state, preventing disbursement of funds to the unscrupulous and undeserving, protecting the taxpayers. Those with homes and other real property had wealth which could not readily be tapped for public support. Under current law, those receiving old-age assistance signed liens against their property, enabling the State to attach the property for repayment of welfare benefits after the death of the beneficiary before the estate would pass to an heir. It did not deprive the recipient of the property during his or her lifetime.

About two-thirds of the states had such lien laws, and those states which had repealed them had found more reliance on old-age assistance after the repeal than before. In Louisiana, for instance, which had repealed its law in 1946, less than 29 percent of the population 65 or over had been receiving old-age assistance when the law had been repealed, whereas five years later, 67.4 percent of that age group was receiving assistance. A similar rise of 12 percent had been registered in just two years after repeal of Washington's lien law.

It thus counsels against repeal, as the law was in the public interest.

"'Horse Sense' and the Intellectual" indicates that the principal speaker at a gathering of Charlotte businessmen a few days earlier had been introduced as a Ph.D. with "horse sense", the implication having been that a combination of higher education and "horse sense" was remarkable in present times. It found the introduction strangely symptomatic of growing disillusionment with the role of the intellectual in modern society, whereby the professor had become the object of suspicion and the target of ridicule, acceptable in certain company only if possessing "horse sense".

It indicates that "horse sense", in the modern context, did not necessarily mean hard-headed, practical realism associated with earlier rugged individualism, but more often simply the acceptance of the popular, sloganized cynicism of postwar America, an intellectual who denied or at least concealed his or her intellectuality.

It finds it surprising that professors had thus fallen from grace, going from respected figures to fops, even dangerous, associated with fuzzy-headed economics, moral softness, naïveté about Communists, espousing something often referred to as "visionary nonsense".

The real danger, it posits, was that social pressure from the militant demi-intellectuals would compel the professors to abandon their visionary hopes and motives out of fear of being thought naïve, replacing intellectual values with "horse sense" in its most limited modern sense, which it believes would be a tragedy.

"How Snow Reveals the Nature of Man" suggests that there were two kinds of people, one who kept chains in the car and put them on when it snowed, the same type of person who knew where to find the galoshes and would arrive at the office and be working by the time other people got underway in inclement weather, while the other group grumbled about the city not maintaining a fleet of snowplows. The latter contained two types of people, native Southerners who did not know what to do when there was snow on the roads, and Yankees who knew what to do but who had come to the South to escape such weather, and when it occurred, were too dejected to get out and show off.

But it finds that in all categories, people delighted at a real snow, as that which had fallen the previous day, above all delightful to children, and all were yet children enough to appreciate its wonder and beauty. "May it snow again and again and again—but not real soon."

Getting to stay out of school and sleep in—that was the best part, next to the sledding and snowman building, that is when it did not melt the very next day by noontime. Of course, if one were not yet of school-age, or able to go out sledding for want of any inclined roads or yet too uncoordinated to roll up the snow for the snowmen, it was just some new stuff out on the ground that kind of looked funny, like the inside of the icebox in the refrigerator in between defrosting. Do you remember your first snow? What did you think of it?

"Thrift" indicates that the President may have sent his budget message to Congress on the first day of National Thrift Week only by coincidence, but finds, after looking at the figures, that it reminded of a quote by Artemus Ward on the subject of thrift: "Let us all be happy and live within our means, even if we have to borrow money to do it with."

A piece from the Florida Times-Union, titled "Hi-Fi World", indicates that the Office of Naval Research reported that tape recordings had been made of the chatter of nearly 200 species of fish and other marine animals, to be used to aid sonar operators in distinguishing between "fish talk" and noise created by surface ships and submarines.

It tells of fish noises being nothing new to the fish, representing a myriad of things which had been ongoing for the ages without prior human awareness. Everyone was now familiar with the fact that dogs could hear sounds far above the perceptible range of man, and for most of human history, had served as the only "hi-fi" sound detection device. It suggests that the dog might be even more useful if they could learn to point out termites.

Termites had been the symbol of silent, undercover work, but the sound was actually detectable by the unaided human ear. Other creatures, from birds to bats, maintained a constant chatter beyond the range of man's hearing, with birds singing love songs which only other birds could appreciate, and bats using their radar for night-flying.

It concludes that the world was a noisy place before radios, jazz bands and heavy traffic, that man simply had not been listening.

Drew Pearson indicates that it had been a long while since Henry Ford had amazed the world with his revolutionary wage scale, guaranteeing five dollars per day to his autoworkers, but now, Henry Ford II was about to launch something just as revolutionary, a guaranteed annual wage for the workers. It would probably mean a new chapter in the history of American industry, prompting other automakers to follow suit, and then big steel, which supplied the auto industry. Behind the decision of Ford had been several interesting facts, which he proceeds to relate, that Ford, G.M. and Chrysler had all faced a showdown with the United Auto Workers union the prior spring, when UAW president Walter Reuther had announced that he would seek a guaranteed annual wage. Ford and GM approached the showdown after a ten-year battle in which both had been seeking to gain leadership in the sale of low-priced automobiles, with Ford understanding that once the leadership in the field had been gained, costs dropped along with prices, as there was no longer so much need for inducements to sell cars or for so much advertising.

The competition between the two leaders in the automotive industry placed the UAW in a strong position, as a one-week strike against either would cost 40,000 units of production, while a two-week strike would cut 100,000 units. Knowing that fact, Mr. Ford had decided to gamble on his own ability and on the future prosperity of the country to obtain the number one place in sales of low-priced automobiles. If he were to guess wrong about American prosperity and if his plants were shut down for a long period of time, it would cost the company millions under the guaranteed annual wage, as the company would have to continue paying the wages. A lot of details remained undecided regarding the Ford plan, such as how many workers and what type of workers would be covered, and how much the wage would be. A guaranteed annual wage would likely be lower than the ordinary daily wage multiplied by actual days of work, with no certainty of employment.

He concludes that like his grandfather, the present Henry Ford was thriving on controversy and planned to move into the front place as a leader in American industry.

Joseph Alsop, in Jakarta, again discusses the threat to Indonesia from Communism, finding it, for the time being, content to wait and work a slow process of internal erosion, that if Thailand, much smaller and not protected by ocean as Indonesia, were to fall to the Communists, then Indonesia would be next, making the protection of Southeast Asia the more imperative, calling for a sound policy initiated by the U.S., at present, in the estimate of Mr. Alsop, lacking.

Earlier, in 1948, seasoned Indonesian Communists had sought to seize the leadership of free Indonesia from President Sukarno and his collaborators of that time, in result of which, the Indonesian Communist high command had been summarily executed. Under its new chief, who had not undergone Moscow training, the party had been slow to recover, having made some headway in the labor unions in Jakarta and other large towns, but as yet not having gained support among the peasants, the backbone of the country. The armed services and the police were also decidedly anti-Communist. Thus, the Communists would bide their time and seek to isolate Indonesia internationally and soften it up internally.

Mr. Alsop indicates that while the supposed pro-Communist stances of President Sukarno and Prime Minister Ali Sastroamidjojo had been greatly exaggerated and such assessments unfair, the difficult internal political situation had caused both men to fall in, perhaps unconsciously, with the Communist line. He indicates that the tragedy of free Indonesia was that the five men who had led the country to freedom, preeminent among whom had been Sukarno, had not remained united after freedom was attained. He suggests that if they had stuck together, Indonesia would presently already be fulfilling its enormous promise. Instead, a wide gulf had opened between President Sukarno and the Masjumi and Socialist parties, to which the other four original leaders belonged. The Masjumi were the Moslems, with the largest popular support. To balance them and the Socialists off, the Nationalist Party, which predominated in the Ali Government, needed the help of Indonesian Communists.

Marquis Childs indicates that the President's budget for the coming fiscal year did not include any aid for education, much to the disappointment of educators who had anticipated such aid after the President had said in his State of the Union message earlier in the month that "positive, affirmative action must be taken now" to overcome an "unprecedented classroom shortage", which was being estimated at 370,000. The President promised a special message on education by February 15, leading educators to believe that he would include in the budget a substantial amount for aid to education.

Instead, the only thing which the special report would likely recommend would be a paltry 25 million dollars for grants-in-aid to the states least able to finance their own schools, when estimates were that four billion dollars per year would be necessary for the ensuing five years to bring the schools of the nation up to modern standards. According to another source, the President might recommend as much as 100 million dollars, still inadequate. He might also recommend an additional sum for scholarships and fellowships to colleges and graduate schools, starting at 50 million dollars and advancing to 200 million per year after four years. It was also likely he would recommend construction aid for colleges.

But the real problem was in the elementary schools and secondary schools, with estimates being that 20 percent of all pupils attending school did so in firetraps, while 10 percent of all elementary school pupils were in buildings more than 50 years old. That had resulted from many factors, prime among which had been the lack of school construction during World War II and the greatly increased birth rate during and after the war.

The President's budget message maintained that education and construction of educational facilities remained primarily a state responsibility. He was likely to propose a Federal school building authority which would help the states initiate action, but still not providing any direct aid.

Senator Lister Hill of Alabama, the new chairman of the Senate Labor and Education Committee, had introduced a bill to provide 500 million dollars per year for school construction, having 30 sponsors, 28 Democrats and two Republicans, and there had been talk of bringing that bill out of committee without formal hearings as it was identical to a bill sponsored in the previous Congress by former Senator John Sherman Cooper of Kentucky, except that it had proposed an expenditure of 250 million dollars per year. Favorable action was anticipated from the Senate, but it was expected to hit a roadblock in the House because of a segregation rider which would prohibit funding to states practicing segregation in education. Republicans and conservative Democrats in the House would undoubtedly sustain a veto by the President, should it get by the House.

The Secretary of Health, Education & Welfare, Oveta Culp Hobby, had repeatedly stated her opposition to Federal aid for school construction, counseling patience until a conference on education would be held the following fall, followed by a series of state conferences. The President had referred to those conferences in his budget message, holding out the hope that they would provide a long-term solution to the school construction problems. But those concerned over overcrowding in the schools, which they linked with the increase in juvenile delinquency, insisted that waiting for a long-term solution would deprive a whole generation of a decent opportunity for education, as by 1960, it was estimated that the classroom shortage would reach 720,000.

Edward R. Murrow, CBS news commentator, discusses the challenge laid down by El Presidente Anastasio Somoza of Nicaragua to duel with pistols President José Figueres of Costa Rica, Mr. Murrow pointing out that under traditional rules of the code duello, the person challenged always had the right to choose the weapons. He suggests that El Presidente Somoza, trained in the U.S. Marines, would have a considerable advantage over President Figueres, an engineer, in using a pistol, and so did not blame the latter for not accepting the challenge. He suggests that President Figueres might have chosen shovels or dry sand at 20 paces in a high cross-wind, with no rushing in.

He traces the duel back to the 1500's, when Francis I of France challenged Charles V of Spain to a duel, though nothing had come of it except exchange of scurrilous language. During a decade of the reign of Henry IV in France, it was estimated that about 6,000 persons had been killed in duels. The Normans had probably carried the practice to England, where it flourished during the reign of George III. The first duel in the American colonies had occurred at Plymouth in 1621. Later, Button Gwynnet, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, was killed in a duel with General Macintosh in 1777, and the most famous duel in the country had occurred in 1804, when Vice-President Aaron Burr killed Alexander Hamilton. He suggests that some would contend that the ancient Greeks and Romans, such as Hector, Achilles and Horatio, had engaged in duels, but they had been merely incidents in national wars. Duels had not been common before the 16th century.

He says that the only duels he had witnessed had been in Germany in the early 1930's, between students, which had been "about as fine a bit of stolid, unmoving, limited butchery as could be found at that time."

He concludes that it was heartening that only pistols had been suggested by El Presidente Somoza as a weapon of choice, in a modern age where far more destructive weapons were available. At least both men would have a chance. "The world scene is made up of challenge and counter-challenge in a situation where there is no code for that kind of duelling, and where the weapons may soon become absolute. Perhaps after all there is some significance, might be even hope, in this small duel with pistols that didn't come off. Maybe nations will act like the two presidents."

A letter writer indicates that during January, 1951, he had addressed a letter to the management of Good Samaritan Hospital, requesting an audience so that he could bring to their attention some conditions he had observed during visits to the hospital, conditions which he regarded as contributing to the death of a patient, but was denied the audience on the ground that, as a lay person, he had only unfair criticism to make. It indicates that though he was not a doctor, he could distinguish between adequate and inadequate hospital facilities, even though he was not unmindful of the tremendous contribution made by Good Samaritan through its limited facilities since its establishment in 1881 by the Episcopal Church. The hospital study commission had recently released facts showing that infant mortality among black patients and maternal death rate, among other such data, were appalling. He had stated in a letter on June 6, 1953 that some former black patients who were presently dead would have been alive had they received proper medical care and hospitalization. He ventures that immediate relief was imperative and favors the hospital study commission's recommendation for the admission of black patients to the city's Memorial Hospital.

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