The Charlotte News

Friday, January 21, 1955


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports from Taipei, Formosa, that Nationalist China had reacted with a degree of shock to reports that the President was considering asking for Congressional approval for use of U.S. air and sea power for possible evacuation of some Nationalist offshore islands, refusing comment. Junior officials in Nationalist China indicated that top officials might disagree with the President on the wisdom of a withdrawal, but that President Chiang Kai-shek and other leaders realized that the White House was actuated by the best motives, and that if there were to be a withdrawal, even though the Nationalists opposed it, it would be the result of a friendly understanding and not based on U.S. pressure. The idea of withdrawing from the threatened Tachen Islands, 200 miles north of Formosa and now within artillery range of the Communist Chinese after they had taken nearby Yikiangshan earlier in the week, was extremely distasteful to the Nationalists, with a Defense Ministry spokesman having stated this date that they had no current plans to evacuate any of their island outposts and that all would be defended at all costs. Even if the Nationalists were to agree to withdraw from the Tachens, they might insist on holding some of the more important offshore outposts as a matter of saving face. Unofficial sources in Taipeh were concerned that a pullout without a fight from the Tachens might produce a chain reaction in the U.S., with U.S. efforts made to put Formosa under a U.N. trusteeship and possibly leading to admission of Communist China to the U.N. and eventual U.S. recognition of it.

At the U.N., Communist China announced this date that the relatives of 17 Americans being held in prisons in China, including the 11 airmen who were being held on charges of espionage during the Korean War, would be welcome to visit their imprisoned kin. The State Department, which did not recognize Communist China, might not issue passports, however, for travel for the purpose, the U.N. Secretariat having indicated that the matter would be left up to the U.S. Government to arrange any such visits through the Red Cross. The wife of a lieutenant colonel being held said that she had been advised by the Government that they could extend her no protection should she undertake such a visit, and she said she did not believe her husband would want her to go, anyway.

In San Jose, Costa Rica, the Costa Rican general staff announced this date the capture of the rebel stronghold of La Cruz and the nearby town of Puerto Soley on the Pacific coast. It said that the rebels were now caught in a trap, with Loyalist troops closing pincers from the north and south. Unofficial reports said that the rebels were withdrawing toward the Nicaraguan frontier to the north. Neutral ground and air observers from the commission of the Organization of American States were patrolling a buffer zone 18 miles long and six miles wide, established the previous day along the border north of the fighting area, to prevent the rebellion from touching off a war between Nicaragua and Costa Rica. The OAS had dispatched 23 officers to patrol the neutral zone. In accepting the neutral zone, both El Presidente Anastasio Somoza of Nicaragua and President José Figueres of Costa Rica had agreed to keep their troops out of the demilitarized zone.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics in Washington indicated in its monthly report that the cost of living at the end of 1954 had been a half percent below the level at the start of the year, and that reduction in food prices in December had brought the cost of living to its lowest level since May, 1953. It was the first time since 1948 that the cost of living index had shown a decline during the course of the year. It stood at 14.3 percent of the 1947-49 base period average, three-tenths of a percent below that of the prior month. Prices had declined generally during the previous year, especially since July, and had been gradual and moderate, with the December index about a percent below the record high level of 115.4 in October, 1953.

In Boston, a seven-man committee, including two editors, prison officials and the president of the Boston Bar Association, had conferred early this date with four inmates of the Massachusetts State Prison who were holding five guards as hostage in a four-day standoff to try to effect their release from custody. One committee member said that the group had met with the four inmates in an effort to gain the release of the hostages and six other inmates being held against their will, and the committee planned another meeting this date. The member said that the situation was so delicate that the members of the committee had agreed not to talk about it until they could relate everything. The warden indicated that there was no change in the situation. He also stated that there was no truth to the report that one of the guards being held had been killed or hurt. The hostages had been receiving food regularly, with the permission of their captors, while the four inmates were living on supplies from the kitchen in the cellblock. The prison's Catholic chaplain and the prison physician, who had met with the inmates for more than two hours the previous night, indicated that there had been some progress and that matters appeared hopeful.

In Chicago, a fire flashed through a West Side tenement, trapping occupants on the upper floors this date, with the deputy coroner first reporting that five persons had died, then reducing that number to three, with three others injured, and 20 escaping the building safely to the snow-covered street.

In Columbia, S.C., fire had swept through a trucking company building and a window screen company at the airport this date, with the companies indicating that damage might reach a million dollars, the fire having started from an exploding oil heater.

In Raleigh, legislators, following a nine-inch snowfall on Wednesday in Raleigh, reacted this date to the message the previous day of Governor Luther Hodges, asking that there be no authorization for a highway bond issue, the legislators, though expecting the message, having indicated reactions in a range of heated indignation to calm approval. Their only agreement was that the primary road system needed help in a hurry.

The Joint Appropriations Committee of the Legislature received requests the previous day for appropriations totaling nearly $500,000 more than that which had been recommended for the biennium by the Governor and the Advisory Budget Commission, the request having come from the heads of eight State departments and agencies, while 11 other department heads said that they could get along on the funds recommended.

The State House this date unanimously passed a bill to repeal the "secrecy" law enacted by the 1953 Legislature, allowing executive session hearings in the Appropriations Committee, and the Senate Rules Committee gave its approval to an identical Senate bill. The House action came only after it had reserved the right under its rules to allow executive sessions in all committees, except for final action on a particular bill. The Senate was also expected to change its rules accordingly.

In Charlotte, the recommendations of the City Traffic Engineer Herman Hoose that two alleys on either side of Tryon Street be made one-way provided hope that traffic hazards in the midtown area from backed-up trucks and left-hand turning traffic might soon be eliminated. City Manager Henry Yancey said that the proposals would be presented to the City Council the following Wednesday. We hope that goes through because Ma Rainey and Beethoven are in the alleys and have not got any shoes.

In Providence, R.I., a bill introduced in the Rhode Island Legislature the previous day would require insurance companies to write policies in type no smaller than the capital letters of a standard typewriter.

In Chicago, a nine-year old boy from Muskegon, Mich., received a celebrity's welcome when he arrived to collect a one dollar reward for finding a postcard in a bottle floating in Lake Michigan, deposited there in 1886 by the Chicago drainage and water supply system, which at the time had been making a study of the lake's currents. Finders of the corked bottles so deposited were promised via the postcard a one dollar reward if found. The boy had sent in the postcard, and despite the fact that the reward had expired on January 1, 1887, officials decided to pay him the reward, and arranged for a round of entertainment for him and his parents, the reward having been doubled by presenting him a silver dollar from 1887 encased in plastic and an 1889 paper dollar bill, valued at $3.75 on the collectors' market. You could probably get rich if you found enough of those bottles.

On the editorial page, "Spreading the Cloak of Secrecy Is Violation of Fundamental Rights" regards the North Carolina House decision during the week to amend its rules to allow all committees of the House to hold executive sessions and to authorize the presiding chairman of each committee to bar anyone disturbing the order of a committee hearing, though also providing that final determinations of bills would be made only in public sessions.

It finds the new rule to go far beyond the 1953 "secrecy" law which had provided that executive sessions were allowed before the Appropriations Committee, previously disallowed. It was the prevailing wisdom of the attorneys in the House that the new rules, pursuant to a provision of the State Constitution, would supersede even a statute.

It objects to the rule for closing the doors to the people's business, not allowing them to be privy to how committees arrived at their recommendations, what factors figured into decisions or the pressures exerted to reach those decisions. It finds that a propaganda statement issued at the close of a meeting was not enough to protect the interests of the people, that throughout history, secret proceedings had been the "refuge of corrupt and reactionary governments."

It expresses particular disappointment in three members of the Mecklenburg delegation voting for the rules change, two in particular, who had given lip service to the campaign to abolish the secrecy law in the current General Assembly, wondering how the two men would distinguish between a secrecy act and a secrecy rule, stating that it regards both as contrary to the interests of a free people.

"Target: The People's Right To Know" discusses, along the same lines, a proposed Georgia statute which would ban the publication of the names of persons charged with sex crimes and drunk driving, with criminal charges for those who violated the provision. It finds the proposed legislation part of a pattern to limit the right of the people to have access to that which ought to be public knowledge, indicating that sex crimes and drunk driving offenses were crimes against society and that people had the right to know the facts, that enforced secrecy and suppression of public records would be a dangerous infringement of the right to information and perhaps might even encourage criminal misconduct. It thus is opposed to such legislation, wherever it might arise.

It appears to neglect the critical distinction that the proposed secrecy law in Georgia was only regarding the names of those charged with such offenses, and not for those finally convicted of the offenses. Thus, opposition to such a proposed law would appear to assume that a person charged with a crime, especially one causing infamy, was actually guilty, negating the more important competing concept of preservation of the presumption of innocence. Actually, such a law would be good for anyone accused of a crime of any type, as a protection to reputation and providing greater insurance of a fair trial.

"Ancestry, Posterity and the Mule" indicates that the Army's Chicago recruiting office, seeking volunteers for two mule-pack outfits at Camp Carson, Colo., had announced that the mule had more than proved its military worth in terrain which would turn back the much-touted jeep.

It finds it reassuring in an atomic age that the mule had withstood all the changes, finds that perhaps it might not have a future in the conventional sense "but it's sure got one heck of a past."

A piece from the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, titled "Science on the Loose", indicates that as far back as 1941, there had been an effort to standardize manhole covers, so that one size would fit all manholes. But even as recently as two years earlier, everybody was making manhole covers to suit themselves, as Navy yards, Army engineers, airports and municipal street departments could not agree on the proper size and array of the finger holes. Then a man named Jolly designed a compromise manhole cover, incorporating all of the best qualities of all of the best manhole covers, and soon no one wanted to be without a Jolly manhole cover, eventually endorsed by the American Standards Association, which the previous week had awarded Mr. Jolly a plaque for his efforts. Thus, one could now buy a manhole cover with complete confidence and interchangeability, the piece indicating that it thought the reader would like to know.

Drew Pearson indicates that Senator Walter George of Georgia, the most respected member of the Senate, had rejected recently an offer by Secretary of State Dulles to name any top-level Democrat to join the State Department to promote a bipartisan foreign policy, Senator George believing that it was merely an effort to get the Democrats to soft-pedal their attacks on the Administration's foreign policy. He had no objection to a Democrat taking a special mission temporarily but did not want any Democrat joining the State Department on a full-time basis, thus sharing responsibility for Republican foreign policy. The implication was that the Dulles policies fluctuated up and down too abruptly in Indo-China, Formosa, France and elsewhere.

One of the hottest debates inside the Administration regarded the question of importing South American oil, a debate which had been raging for weeks, finally settled by a special Cabinet committee, though not to the satisfaction of the State Department. According to the present vote of the committee, future oil imports would be frozen at the 1954 levels, a hardship on Venezuela, though welcomed by the coal areas of West Virginia and Pennsylvania, and the oil areas of Texas and the Southwest. Texas had finally tipped the scale inside the committee in favor of freezing the imports, with Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Anderson, former president of the Texas Mid-Continent Oil & Gas Association, being one of the most persuasive members of the committee and adamant about restricting the oil imports from Venezuela. He had been opposed by Undersecretary of State Herbert Hoover, Jr., despite the latter being an oil man active in the Union Oil Co. of California, fearing that curtailment of oil from Venezuela would cause unemployment, unrest and trouble in that country. Arguments against Mr. Anderson had been that the Administration had gone on record for lowering tariffs and trade barriers, and while the President was seeking from Congress extension of the reciprocal trade act for three years, his own Cabinet committee was restricting imports from friendly Venezuela. Mr. Pearson notes that it was finally decided that American oil companies ought restrict imports from Venezuela on a voluntary basis during the first year, and if that did not work, to impose compulsory restrictions.

The chairman of the Foreign Claims Commission, who had, for "budgetary reasons", fired one-third of his employees just prior to Christmas, including the Negro Woman of the Year, Jane Morrow Spaulding, had been able to find enough money in his budget the previous week to take off on a Far Eastern junket.

Congressman Francis Walter of Pennsylvania, co-author of the McCarran-Walter Immigration Act, was angry at the way General Joseph Swing, head of the INS, was administering immigration, stating in a couple of private letters that the chairman was engaging in "very sloppy administration" of the law, in "callous disregard of all humane consideration in dealing with the arriving alien". Mr. Walter had suggested that the method of holding new immigrants for questioning was "chaotic and not calculated to impress prospective citizens with the efficiency or common sense of the Government of the United States." General Swing had not answered the first letter and then avoided the request by Mr. Walter for a face-to-face talk.

U.S. intelligence believed that that Communist Chinese spies had infiltrated the high command of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek in Nationalist China.

Prime Minister Nehru of India had been bawled out recently by his sister, Madame Pandit, for being anti-American in his foreign policy.

Former Secretary of the Navy Dan Kimball had announced that he was preparing to run for the California Senate. He also said that the President was sending Vice-President Nixon on a goodwill tour of Latin America, not to obtain good will from Latin Americans, but rather to obtain the good will among the Democrats "by getting Nixon out of Washington."

Most legislators had their offices well stocked with either elephants or donkeys, depending on their politics, but Senator Herbert Lehman of New York had a menagerie of dogs, specifically boxers.

Doris Fleeson tells of Secretary of State Dulles having conceded some time earlier that the Communist Chinese might invade the Tachen Islands as a test of the intentions of the U.S. Seventh Fleet, which was pledged to defend only Formosa, itself, and the nearby Pescadores, but not the outlying islands off the coast of mainland China, including the Tachens. The President might allow the Fleet to participate in rescue missions of Nationalist personnel on the latter islands, but that was all.

The most influential members of Congress did not expect the President, as the former head of the Allied armies during World War II, to provoke any incident which could lead to a war, and the faction which wanted to limit the President's power, led by Senate Republican Leader William Knowland of California, believed he was not warlike enough. Democrats were of the collective opinion that the President was not spending enough on defense and would seek to lead the Congress into greater expenditures in the area. House Speaker Sam Rayburn had asked the President, following his explanation of his military budget, whether it was enough.

Ms. Fleeson concludes that despite the foundation of the career of the President having been his military prestige, it was his military judgment which was currently under the heaviest fire.

Robert C. Ruark, in Houston, indicates that fashion designer Christian Dior had to go, for twice every year he came up with new designs which caused women to have to purchase the latest clothes, ruining household budgets. Now, he was not only going for the "flat look", but was also intent on covering up elbows and knees, which he regarded as hideous. Mr. Ruark likes the female knee. "I am an elbow man, too, and a bosom man as well, and I will thank this frog to quit sneering at all three vital segments of female assembly."

John Lardner, writing in the New York Times Magazine, tells of reading The Spore of Spooks by Professor Bergen Evans of Northwestern University, and being surprised to find that he had ignored sports completely in his work exposing false history. Mr. Lardner proceeds to expose some of that sports apocrypha, starting with the myth that baseball had been originated and named in 1838 in Cooperstown by Abner Doubleday, when Robert Henderson had traced the name and form of baseball back to the 17th Century in England.

Regarding the supposed indication by Babe Ruth in 1932 of his intention to hit a homerun, just before immediately doing so, the matter was complicated by the fact that Mr. Ruth had made a hand gesture at the time, but a familiar gesture to those acquainted with his batting routine, as he had two strikes on him at the moment, and when that was the case, he always held up one finger, indicating that there was one swing left. Thus, his pre-homerun signal was at best ambiguous.

The contention that Jim Jefferies had been beaten by Jack Johnson for the heavyweight championship in 1910 because Mr. Jeffries had been drugged, a myth complicated by the interracial nature of the fight, had been disputed by Mr. Jeffries, himself, who always ascribed his defeat to natural erosion.

Saloon histories had it that Harry Greb, the great middleweight champion of the early 1920's, had changed his name from Berg when he started to fight professionally around 1913. But the legend was probably invented by the fact that Greb is Berg spelled backwards. He was also the subject of another myth involving Mickey Walker, in which the two had supposedly fought informally in the street in front of a nightclub an hour or two after Mr. Greb had beaten Mr. Walker for the middleweight title in 1925, the myth arising after the death of Mr. Greb in 1926 and never having been alluded to by Mr. Greb while he was alive, a standing offer made by one of his close companions to prove the matter through an impartial judge, after which the friend would donate $1,000 to charity, having gone without takers.

He continues with other such myth-dispelling in sports, indicating that it was difficult to expect people to give up such myths, such as one in which a kicker for the University of Wisconsin football team, Pat O'Dea, had kicked a long field goal in deep snow, Mr. Lardner having talked to Mr. O'Dea one day in 1934 and ascertained that the kick, though it had gone for more than 50 yards, had been made on a relatively bare field, already cleared of the heavy snow.

Does the juxtaposition on the page of the Lardner piece to the Ruark piece suggest anything about the falsie myths of second-base stealing and de facto grand slam homeruns accomplished through foul balls until the final pitch? Does it also relate somehow to the piece on standardization of manhole covers and the one on the Georgia law? Seems like it's all, in toto, just cheap reader bait.

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