The Charlotte News

Thursday, January 6, 1955


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the President appealed this date for bipartisan harmony in his State of the Union message to a joint session of the new 84th Congress, indicating that both parties were "on trial" in the free world's struggle to win an enduring peace and prevent an atomic "holocaust". He said that the prosperity outlook of the country was good, that "business activity now surges with new strength" and that personal income after taxes was at a record level. He said that during the previous year, there had been progress on the international scene "justifying hope both for continuing peace and for the ultimate rule of freedom and justice in the world", but that "sobering problems" remained ahead, requiring continued heavy spending, with two-thirds of the expected Federal budget of 64 billion dollars to be allotted for defense and foreign aid. He said that to protect the nation from the catastrophe of a nuclear holocaust, the free nations had to maintain "countervailing military power to persuade the Communists of the futility of seeking their ends through aggression." The address had been carried on nationwide television and radio, and contained no real surprises, with the legislative program for 1955 having, for the most part, already been announced by the White House or disclosed by other sources, much of it being a renewal of previous requests not passed by the 83rd Congress. The President held out no hope for tax reduction during the year and repeated that he wanted postponement of the excise and corporate tax reductions scheduled for April 1, totaling three billion dollars. Regarding armaments, he called for emphasis on modern air power and for reduction of forces in "certain categories". Domestically, he called for an increase in the minimum wage from 75 cents per hour to 90 cents, which would mean a pay raise for 1.3 million workers presently covered by the minimum wage act and earning below the proposed new minimum.

The previous night, the wife of Republican Senator George Malone of Nevada had walked out of a speech given by new Democratic Senator Richard Neuberger of Oregon, assailing "character assassination" during political campaigns, a speech given at the annual Congressional dinner of the Women's National Press Club at the Statler Hotel in Washington. Senator Neuberger, sworn in the previous day, had shared the platform with Vice-President Nixon and New Jersey's new Republican Senator Clifford Case. Senator Neuberger said that a "distinguished member" of the Republican Party had engaged in below-the-belt tactics in the 1954 campaign, providing no names. Some Democrats had accused the Vice-President of such tactics, after he had labeled Mr. Neuberger as a "left-wing" candidate during a campaign speech the previous October 25 in Pocatello, Idaho. Mr. Nixon had not joined in applause which greeted the first reference to "character assassination" by Senator Neuberger, but did join in applauding at the end of the Senator's talk. By that point, Mrs. Malone had left the room, declaring audibly, "I've had all I can take." Outside, she had a confrontation with Perle Mesta, former minister to Luxembourg, often called the official hostess of the Truman Administration, with onlookers reporting that Mrs. Mesta had chided Mrs. Malone for walking out on the speech, Mrs. Malone countering that the Senator's speech was not worth hearing, after which the women had exchanged "personal references"—whether including references to the Sons of Brotherhood organization formed by Drew Pearson during the Truman Administration not being reported. Senator Malone, who had been among Senators most friendly to Senator McCarthy, had remained at his table near the center of the ballroom.

In Raleigh, new Governor Luther Hodges, who had succeeded the late Governor William B. Umstead upon the latter's death in early November, asked this date, in his address to the new General Assembly, that the legislators take steps to meet the Supreme Court's decision banning racial segregation in the public schools, that following a special advisory committee's report, legislation should be adopted to provide local school boards with "complete of authority" over enrollment and assignment of children in the public schools and on school buses, endorsing the committee's recommendation that the Legislature create an advisory commission, on which legislators would serve, to give "continuous study" to the segregation issue. The advisory commission report had stated that mixing of the races in the public schools throughout the state could not be accomplished and should not be attempted without regard to local conditions and assignment factors other than race, lest it would alienate public support of the schools to such an extent that they could not be operated successfully. It expressed the belief that the people of the state wanted to solve the segregation problem "within the framework of our present school system, if possible" and that it should be accomplished "before consideration is given to abandoning or materially altering it", that only time would tell whether that was possible. The Governor also expressed support for the Advisory Budget Commission's recommendations on spending and taxes, outlining his program of legislation, major items of which were support for a statewide liquor referendum, elimination of the absentee ballot in general elections except for military personnel, increasing the number of judicial districts to provide for additional resident Superior Court judges, and reassignment of State House and Senate membership commensurate with population changes. He expressed strong support for a water conservation policy for the state and promised further details when a commission studying that problem made a report. He reserved his stand on a primary highway program until the State Highway Commission made its recommendations. He asked for creation of a board of higher education to prevent duplication in state-supported colleges, and supported changes in the Prisons Department and Governor's office, as suggested by the Commission on Reorganization of State Government. He also paid high tribute to the late Governor Umstead for his devotion and hard work.

The Governor and the Advisory Budget Commission had recommended the state's first tax on cigarettes, of two cents per pack and $10 per 1,000 cigars, a major overhaul of the sales tax schedule, and a soft drinks tax, the first major change in the state's tax structure since the end of World War II, to yield to the general fund an additional 26 million dollars for each of the ensuing two fiscal years. The tobacco products tax would yield 7.7 million dollars and the .75-cent tax on soft drinks would bring in 7.1 million. The tax on liquor would be raised by 1.5 percent to 10 percent, bringing in an additional $900,000. Other tax increases were also recommended. Presently, 41 states and the District of Columbia taxed tobacco, at rates ranging from two to eight cents per pack. Tobacco wholesalers shipping out of the state would be exempted from those taxes.

A list of the Advisory Budget Commission's recommended operating budgets for the state's institutions is provided, with the Consolidated University heading the list at 3.7 million dollars for each of the ensuing two years.

The proposed budget called for State spending totaling 637 million dollars during the ensuing two fiscal years and tax increases to make up a 52 million dollar deficit between appropriations and anticipated revenues.

News reporter Julian Scheer indicates that the Governor's budget message to the Assembly had been generally well received by the Mecklenburg five-man delegation, finding themselves in accord with most of his suggestions and recommendations, being, however, somewhat more conservative on some points, such as the issue of segregation, believing that the matter should be provided more study before their opinions were enunciated.

In Charlotte, a million-dollar expansion of Southern Bell telephone facilities, including a new dial telephone office on Sharon-Amity Road, was announced this date by the district manager of the firm, with a new building, to cost $200,000, to be constructed to house equipment for a fourth telephone office. We are certainly looking forward to that. What kind of architecture will they use on that? That modern look? We favor the plantation style, with columns and cotton fields aplenty outside.

On the editorial page, "Overburdened Courts" indicates that the proposal by Superior Court Judge Francis O. Clarkson to establish a small claims court for civil tort and contract claims up to $2,500 to relieve the crowded docket of the regular civil calendar in Mecklenburg County was a good proposal. Present civil dockets in the Superior Court were flooded, resulting in cases often taking 18 months to two years to be heard, with cases involving relatively small sums clogging the calendar, displacing and delaying cases of greater importance.

Judge Clarkson had suggested that it could be accomplished by adding civil jurisdiction to the present County Recorder's Court, which was limited to criminal cases, as was the City Recorder's Court. That proposal would provide the County Recorder's Court with countywide jurisdiction, enabling a salary which would attract a qualified judge. Appeals would be heard by the Superior Court.

It notes that the system had been tried with success elsewhere in the state and urges that it should be established in Mecklenburg.

"Continued Nonpartisan City Elections" indicates that the executive secretary of the Mecklenburg County Republican executive committee had reiterated his stand in favor of nonpartisan elections for city government posts, and had indicated that reports that he was interested in organizing a Republican slate of candidates for the City Council were without foundation.

It agrees that local elections should be nonpartisan, that such a system had served Charlotte well in the past, keeping the community reasonably free from political knavery and rule by backroom political bosses. It asserts that a city the size of Charlotte, with its political peculiarities, was best served by nonpartisan elections, that while political interest needed to be awakened at the municipal level, the effort should be directed toward getting more persons of character and ability to run for public office rather than resurrecting the party system from the city's political graveyard.

"Filling a Void on Television Screens" indicates that the impact of television on the American public had been greeted with mixed emotions, that its effect had not been as harmful as predicted by the skeptics, but also had not been particularly good in many respects, that in its eagerness to please and keep pace financially, it had only skirted the field of education. There were some notable exceptions, such as "Omnibus" and "Mr. Wizard", striving for a high level of entertainment while also doing a good job of educating in the process.

The following Saturday, WUNC-TV would go on the air on channel 4 in Chapel Hill, the station of the Consolidated University, as reported during the week by Julian Scheer of the News, with the station striving to capture an audience with education via entertainment. The outlook for it was bright, with much fund-raising, led by UNC comptroller W. D. Carmichael, Jr., and development having gone into the program in a very short time since originally announced by UNC president Gordon Gray.

Charlotte had been allotted a UHF educational channel and it promises to keep an eye on a group of local citizens interested in establishing a similar station locally.

It sends its best to the staffs at Chapel Hill, Woman's College in Greensboro and State College in Raleigh, comprising the Greater University, expressing the hope that their programs would win new friends and that they might soon be picked up on local screens.

Good luck with the latter, as it was difficult to pick up more than snow even 75 miles away from Chapel Hill well into the 1960's because of the limitations of the WUNC transmitter in those days, prior to cable television. Broadvision, television without sound, on Saturday afternoons in the early 1960's, however, was fun, watching the fuzzy Tar Heels in the early days of Dean Smith's coaching tenure, not altogether successful during the first five seasons, while listening over the radio—which we still do today, albeit without coach Smith on the bench or Bill Currie on the air. That is entertaining and educational, all at the same time, sometimes too educational. You gotta have heart, lots and lots...

A piece from the Richmond News Leader, titled "But Did She Call Him Back?" discusses wrong number callers, suggesting that there was a certain perverse delight in picking up a conversation in mid-confusion and taking advantage by suggesting that the person for whom the wrong number caller was asking had, for instance, gone to the liquor store for a fifth of gin. (There was also the one who was calling for Debbie…)

It goes on in that vein and wonders whether some of the callers with whom it had played a practical joke had tried their number again or simply given up in disgust.

Drew Pearson indicates that a secret report was on the way to the President urging him to cripple the school lunch program, written by the Commission on Intergovernmental Relations, now headed by the head of Hart, Schaffner and Marx, the men's clothing company. The Commission was supposed to improve government efficiency, but through its subcommittee, had taken a strong stand against spending Federal money for the school lunch program, despite acknowledging that it was beneficial to the health and welfare of schoolchildren, urging that local financing be undertaken as it was not a Federal responsibility. It also urged reduction of Federal expenditures for current operating expenses for public schools and for capital expenditures for new facilities, despite acknowledging that the years of depression and war had left "a grossly inadequate school plant". The Commission proposed to have the states and local communities raise the money for school construction, which would result in unequal educational opportunities across the country, as the Commission acknowledged, because of the differences in fiscal ability among the states. It suggested, however, that those differences had been decreasing during the previous 20 years, though admitting that it was still substantial. It urged narrowing the gap by raising the economic level and capacity of the less wealthy states rather than subsidizing them. Almost half of the Commission, appointed by the President, had refused to sign the report, with the Atlanta school superintendent having drafted a minority report which heavily criticized the majority recommendations as "a futile attempt to reverse the course of American history". He said that there was no doubt that the state and local tax structures needed overhauling, but that the majority wanted to engage the people in a theoretical debate while postponing the solution of providing an adequate education for the young, who would grow into adulthood while the tax structure was being reformed. He had been joined by the California superintendent of public instruction, the chairman of the St. Louis school board, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, and others. Mr. Pearson also lists the leading signers of the majority report.

Stewart Alsop tells of the U.S. and the Soviet Union having one thing in common, that both governments were internally divided about the direction of their foreign policy after the decision had been finally ratified by France to permit the rearmament of West Germany in the context of NATO and the expanded Western European Union. U.S. Ambassador to Russia Charles Bohlen had recently returned to Moscow after reporting to the President and Secretary of State Dulles, and had reported back that the sense of tension had measurably increased in the few days since he had left, the intervening event having been the French ratification. But another reason for the increased anxiety had been the long editorials about the future of Soviet policy, as published just prior to Christmas in Pravda and Izvestia, the latter being the mouthpiece of the Soviet Government and thus Premier Georgi Malenkov, while Pravda was the organ of the Communist Party and thus the mouthpiece of Nikita Khrushchev, party secretary. The two papers had been almost diametrically opposed on foreign policy, Izvestia calling for a continuation of the present policy, which was increased emphasis on production of consumer goods and coexistence with the West, while Pravda in effect called for a hard-line policy abroad and a return to priority for heavy industrial production, equating to arms production.

The following day, Pravda had published another long editorial in which it followed the same line as Izvestia. Knowledgeable Russians, as well as foreign observers, took it to mean that there had been basic disagreement on policy between Premier Malenkov and party secretary Khrushchev, and that the disagreement had been settled in favor of the Premier. It was also taken to mean that the Russian rulers wished to make known the existence of that disagreement, presumably in part to remind the West that the Soviets could adopt a tougher line policy if they so desired, as well to give Comrade Khrushchev the ability to air his views and remind the Russian people that no one had inherited all of the powers of the late Joseph Stalin.

Ambassador Bohlen and all other foreign observers were of the opinion that there was no single absolute dictator in the post-Stalin era and that there was considerable latitude afforded for disagreement among the Soviet rulers, even if not among the people. There had been a meeting between certain foreign "neutrals" and a number of the Russian leaders, including Comrades Malenkov, Khrushchev and Foreign Minister V. M. Molotov, with the former two being engaged in freewheeling about Soviet policy, while Mr. Molotov believed that his special province was being invaded by amateurs, making no attempt to conceal his irritation from the foreign neutrals. Thus, there appeared to be an ongoing debate in progress within the Soviet Government, though no one believed that the basic Soviet objectives had changed, only that there was a debate between whether a soft policy, which had achieved triumph in Asia and almost done so in Europe, had about played itself out after the French ratification regarding West Germany.

Mr. Malenkov's recent equivocal remarks about the desirability of a four-power meeting had further suggested that the issue had not yet been fully decided, that the Soviet rulers had apparently not made up their minds whether such a meeting would serve Soviet purposes, as it was now impossible to delay West German rearmament.

A great debate was also taking place in the U.S. Government, concerning whether it was worth trying to negotiate with the Soviets after the decision on rearmament of West Germany, and if so, whether the current time was right. On one side, there were those who believed that the Soviets shared the West's interest in avoiding mutual incineration, that it was worth trying to agree on a set of ground rules in that regard, a view toward which the President tended to some extent, as did Prime Minister Winston Churchill, while on the other side were those who had strong doubts about the value of any negotiation with the Soviets, except on the most limited and specific issues, doubts shared by Secretary of State Dulles and British Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden. Mr. Alsop indicates that there was therefore little doubt that this debate between the U.S., the Soviet Union and Britain would be settled one way or another before the end of 1955.

Marquis Childs finds that the 84th Congress stood out only for being very similar to the 83rd Congress, with the conservative leadership of the Southern Democrats on key committees being similar to that of the Republicans in the previous Congress. While Senator Pat McCarran had died, his place had been taken by Senator Alan Bible of Nevada, handpicked by the powerful McCarran organization in that state.

Two freshman Senators, Richard Neuberger of Oregon, a Democrat, and Clifford Case of New Jersey, a Republican, were receiving a lot of attention. Senator Neuberger, in particular, had won his race against incumbent Senator Guy Cordon against great odds, being the first Democrat elected to the Senate from Oregon in 40 years.

After he had gotten out of the Army at the end of World War II, Mr. Neuberger had been offered a large salary to become a member of the staff of a large circulation magazine, but had turned it down because it would have meant moving to New York while his roots were in the Pacific Northwest, where he wished to remain. In addition to his freelance writing career, he became active in Democratic politics, becoming a State Senator while his wife became a member of the lower house of the State Legislature. When he announced for the Senate, his chances had been considered very poor, but attracted the active support of independent Senator Wayne Morse, who had been his law professor.

Likewise, former Congressman Case, a year earlier, had not appeared likely to win his race for the Senate, being opposed by the Republican right-wing because of his anti-McCarthy stance. Yet, he had won a narrow victory against an able Democrat, thanks to Democratic votes having gone to a third candidate who was avowedly pro-McCarthy.

Both new Senators faced problems resulting from the attention they were receiving because, by Senate tradition, freshmen were supposed to be seen and rarely heard. But both also had to maintain their reputations. Senator Case had been director of the Ford Foundation's Fund for the Republic after he had left the House, and was a civil libertarian who had taken a position against many of the excesses of McCarthyism, announcing shortly after his Senate victory that he would move to deprive Senator McCarthy of any committee chairmanships involving investigatory powers, prompting unfavorable reaction, as some of the allies of the President believed it was the wrong tactic, thrusting Senator McCarthy back into the limelight.

Senator Neuberger had indicated that he would concentrate on conservation and public power issues, important to the Northwest, taking as his model the late Senator George Norris of Nebraska, who had repeatedly demonstrated what one man could accomplish against overwhelming odds by having singleness of purpose and a capacity to master a complicated issue.

The Congressional Quarterly indicates that the CIO and the AFL, contemplating merger in 1955, were engaged in a mutual courtship which could lead to "unprecedented unity" in lobbying and political action. They were working out informal agreements on legislative goals, strategy and techniques for the new Congress.

Not since 1935, when the CIO under the leadership of John L. Lewis and Philip Murray had split from William Green's AFL, had there been so much accord on unemployment compensation, social security, health insurance and other features of labor's program. The combined 15 million members of the two organizations would be a substantial bloc politically for both parties to watch.

The move toward merger had begun two years earlier with a mutual nonaggression pact having been signed by the two organizations, spurred on by unfriendly legislation to labor, as well as the stimulus provided by the new leaders, Walter Reuther of the CIO and George Meany of AFL, who had succeeded Messrs. Murray and Green, respectively, in 1952. The similarity in viewpoints regarding amendments to Taft-Hartley had made possible coordinated labor lobbying, which had helped to defeat the Administration's proposed revisions of the 1947 Act. Lobbyists for both organizations had jointly interviewed Congressmen after discussing strategy beforehand over the phone.

Such united activity was expected to result in increased coordination of legislative bulletins, letter-writing campaigns and talks with Congressmen, plus wider and more effective coverage of Congress and a more thorough mobilization of grassroots pressure, with members planning to work together more closely on local and state legislation. The two labor organizations were striving to improve their relations with organizations in agriculture, small business, health and other fields.

A letter writer indicates that after reading a story on the front page of December 30, regarding the rash of dog poisonings in Charlotte, as reported by the Humane Society, as well as a report that a youngster had been running down dogs with his motor scooter in the Myers Park area, he found that the latter statement was unlikely to be true, as a person on a motor scooter hitting a dog would likely be thrown off and therefore the rider would not hit a dog on purpose. He says that he rode a scooter in that area at times because that was where his duties lay, that occasionally he had to kick a dog to make it get back and quit running after his scooter, that at times the dogs became overly excited and ran in front of his scooter and would almost get hit, cautioning residents of Myers Park to train their pets better against such behavior. He says that he had been bitten twice by dogs while riding slowly in the Myers Park area, one such dog having been a collie and the other some other breed. He did not blame the dogs, but rather their masters for inadequate training.

Whether he is offering a confession to being the rider in question, and was merely seeking sympathy for his rationale, is questionable. We just want to know about the dog poisoner, and whether it might have been the same person who poisoned our dog around Thanksgiving, 1956, while we were away in another town. Big Louis from Chicaga, however, still remains Suspect No. 1. There is no statute of limitations on murder.

Epiphany for 1955 and 2022: The power of McCarthy is dead as a doornail.

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