The Charlotte News

Saturday, October 15, 1955


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports from Denver that the President, after three weeks of convalescence from his September 24 heart attack, was holding another Cabinet-level hospital conference this date on his 65th birthday. Secretary of the Treasury George Humphrey was flying from Washington for an afternoon bedside meeting with the President and was planning to hold a press conference afterward. He was accompanied by White House chief of staff Sherman Adams. A bulletin from the hospital during the morning indicated that the President had an excellent night of sleep for more than eight hours and had awakened refreshed and cheerful, his condition continuing to progress satisfactorily without complications.

At Camp Friedland, Germany, it was reported by a freed German war prisoner of the Soviets that the son of the late Joseph Stalin, Jacob, had been shot to death in a Nazi concentration camp in 1945 after he had flung himself onto an electrified barbed-wire fence. The prisoner who told the story had been the prewar director of radio Stuttgart and said that he had interviewed Jacob in 1941 after he had been captured on the Eastern front, receiving the details of his death from the commandant of Oranienburg concentration camp near Berlin, where Jacob had been a prisoner of war. The commandant had indicated that SS guards had shouted at Jacob to get away from the fence but that he had refused and so they shot him. The commandant speculated that he had apparently decided to commit suicide after he heard that the Red Army was approaching Berlin, "because he was afraid the Russians would kill him for getting captured." The returned German prisoner said that apparently Hitler had issued special orders to provide Jacob with preferential treatment, affording him two rooms to himself in the officers' barracks in the camp. The former prisoner had arrived the previous night with 39 other war prisoners from Russia. He had originally been captured by the Americans and in 1945, after the surrender, they had turned him over to the Russians. He said that the Russians had told him that they did not believe that he was a criminal but that they wanted to know what Stalin's son had said and what he had told the Americans about the interview, which he said concerned general political and economic topics. He said that he had been convicted by the Soviets in 1947 for "having knowledge of dangerous secrets", sentenced to 25 years in prison.

In Washington, executive director Don Shoemaker of a private group which reported on racial integration in the public schools, the Southern Education Reporting Service of Nashville—previously headed by former News editor Pete McKnight who was now editor of the Charlotte Observer—, had told a national conference of editorial writers the previous day that some groups fighting integration "frankly say they are exerting economic and other pressure on Negroes" while others denied it. He said that the purpose of the pressure was to induce blacks not to petition for local compliance with the Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education, that there were many verified instances of firing individual blacks. Mr. Shoemaker, former editor of the Asheville Citizen, said that in many areas where schools had been desegregated, blacks had been slow to enroll in previously all-white schools. He said that in Lexington, Ky., which had desegregated some of its schools, only 21 of 2,632 eligible black students had applied for admission to the desegregated schools, and that in the desegregated schools of Baltimore, only about 2.5 percent of the black pupils were now attending integrated schools, with some of the voluntary segregation being geographic and some by preference. He said that opposition to Brown was great and growing in some areas, that 15 organizations in the Southern and border states were actively fighting compliance with it and that the leadership of such groups was often "top drawer" and that many of the groups repeatedly renounced violence.

In Richmond, Va., T. Coleman Andrews, commissioner of the IRS, this date confirmed the widespread reports that he was quitting his post which he had held since the beginning of the Eisenhower Administration in 1953. He was leaving to become chairman of the board and chief executive officer of the American Fidelity & Casualty Company of Richmond, the world's largest insurer of trucks.

In New York, it was reported that a storm of near hurricane proportions had blown itself out this date after leaving in its wake 16 deaths, flooded homes, wrecked utility lines and highway washouts along the East Coast. A second storm, which had been feared to be brewing off the coast of the Carolinas, had failed to materialize. The violent storm had swept northward the previous day from Cape Hatteras and rising river waters in its wake at some points had created hazards long after the end of the heavy rainfall. In Winsted, Conn., which had been wrecked two months earlier by Hurricane Diane, the Mad River overflowed its banks and authorities there declared a new emergency. The deaths from the storm had occurred in automobile accidents caused by hazardous driving conditions, electrocutions from falling wires and drownings. The dead numbered seven in New York, four in Pennsylvania, two in Connecticut and one each in New Jersey, Maine and Massachusetts.

In Toronto, Ontario, the Rev. Billy Graham, during a sermon the previous night, had speculated on the romance of Princess Margaret and Group Capt. Peter Townsend, who had been divorced from his previous wife. Before the evangelist had begun his address on problems of the home before a crowd of 16,000 at the Canadian National Exhibition Coliseum, he announced that he would omit a section on divorce and remarriage "because it might be misunderstood in London at the present time." He had given advance notice of the subject matter for his sermon and appealed to the victims of broken homes to attend. Despite pouring rain, hundreds had to be turned away from the meeting long before it had begun. He said that the Bible, not doctors, psychiatrists or sociologists, would provide the answer to domestic questions which he regarded as a "far greater danger to society than Communism". He said that according to the Scriptures, the wife is subject to her husband and must give him obedience, reverence and love.

In Binfield, England, it was reported that Britons were in agreement this date that there would be a marriage between Princess Margaret and Capt. Townsend, regardless of whether the news was official or not. You can read further of it for yourself, as it would never come to pass. She would opt to retain her royal trappings and not marry a divorced man.

Near Michigan City, Ind., six passengers of a double-decker Greyhound bus had been killed and 21 others injured, at least seven of whom, including the bus driver, were reported to be in critical condition, when the bus had crashed into a parked semi-trailer truck this date on U.S. 20, a four-lane highway. There were reportedly 26 persons on the bus, which was bound from Chicago to New York City. The truck driver said that he had gone to the rear of his vehicle to pick up flares after finishing repairs on a broken airline, when he saw the bus approaching, flashed the flare, but that the bus driver apparently had not seen it. The truck driver had jumped to one side seconds before the impact.

In Wilmington, N.C., a motor company sales manager was arrested the previous day and charged as part of what the prosecutor indicated was a widespread racket to burn automobiles to collect insurance money. The man was charged with counseling and procuring the burning of a car on May 10, and the district attorney said that the arrest was the first of several planned in the case. He said that after a car was sold and the indebtedness on it became greater than its market value, especially if in poor mechanical condition, a conspiracy was formed to burn it, after which the owner filed a claim against the insurance company. He said that 40 or 50 automobiles had been destroyed in that manner during the previous two years.

In Reno, Nev., a 25-year old former convict from Hollywood, Calif., had led police the previous night to the body of his young stepmother, stuffed in a culvert on a wooded canyon road, refusing to admit that he had killed her. The Reno police chief said that the body was found in the California portion of the Truckee River Canyon but did not disclose the exact location to avoid curiosity seekers who might disturb the evidence. A piece of rope had been found near the body and police surmised that the victim had been strangled. The man had been questioned since Thursday night about his stepmother's disappearance. His father had told Los Angeles police on Wednesday that his son had stabbed him with a butcher knife when he had asked of the whereabouts of his stepmother. His father had urged police "to shoot him down like a dog" and that his son "had death in his eyes". He quoted his son as having said: "I love you, dad, but I have to kill you. I've done something terrible. She had no clothes on. I'll be in the gas chamber anyway." The police chief said that the woman's body was clothed when discovered.

Pardon the parenthetical observation, but it sounds a bit like a perverse version of the script of "The Graduate", especially in combination with the toothbrush scene involving the mentally deranged son in "Premonition", the "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" episode referenced yesterday, which had aired on October 9. "There she was, I mean really naked." Benjamin, however, wisely chose not to murder Mrs. Robinson or his confusion would have been compounded by manifold times. There is, however, always room for a sequel. Perhaps call it: "Whatever Happened to Benjamin and Elaine after the Bus?" Enquiring minds want to know.

In Lawrenceburg, Ky., a 35-year old man who had broken out of jail three times in the recent past, had escaped again the previous day and was being sought by bloodhounds. He was wanted on a child desertion charge.

On the editorial page, "The Local Option Plan for the Schools" tells of Governor Luther Hodges having said that he had not worked out the details of his proposed "local option" plan for schools, but finds that it cast a troubling shadow over the future of public education. The Governor had said that it was designed to give "local communities the authority to run their schools the way they want to or not to run them at all if they choose." The State Advisory Committee on Education, created by the 1955 Legislature, had said that they were considering possible "abolition of public schools and the organization of private schools, perhaps by local option, in especially troubled communities." State Attorney General W. B. Rodman had said that the idea was designed primarily to permit communities, which in the future might be faced with an integration problem as a result of court order or otherwise, to close their public schools if they wished and to try other methods to educate the children.

It indicates that there was much value in local administration of school policies and that the problems inherent in desegregation varied between counties, cities and school districts, that it would be folly to impose on all communities the same remedial measures which might be taken by those finding themselves in "intolerable" situations". But it also finds that the local option plan, by mere consideration of the proposal, was a step away from the State's constitutional responsibility to provide public education for all of the children, that change even in one community from public to private schools would require amendment of the State Constitution and that such an amendment could lead to educational calamity if it were widely used in the mistaken belief that private schools were a satisfactory substitute for public schools—not to mention running afoul of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution per the 1944 decision of the Supreme Court in Smith v. Allwright, regarding the unconstitutionality of the attempt to privatize primary elections, the Court having so held on the premise that voting is a fundamental right secured to the citizens by the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments, just as the Court in Brown had found the right to equal opportunity to public education to be a fundamental right per the Fourteenth Amendment, viz., "Such an opportunity, where the state has undertaken to provide it, is a right which must be made available to all on equal terms." (The proponents of the "local option" plan had apparently seized on that excepting clause, "where the state has undertaken to provide it", but, based on the Allwright reasoning, the states would still infringe Brown under such a plan if their plain motive in abolishing the public schools was to afford a means to allow private, segregated schools while abandoning their responsibility to provide equal opprtunity to education generally via public schools.)

It asserts the belief that the state leaders were sincere in there consideration of the local option plan, that it would be better to lose one public school by local action than to lose all by state action. Yet, the closing of one public school would potentially open up opportunities for other communities to close their public schools and once that process began, it might not be easily ended.

"Getting a 'Bug' out of a Jury Room" tells of Senators James Eastland of Mississippi and William Jenner of Indiana being upset about the "bugging" of a Federal jury room by University of Chicago researchers studying jury deliberations, with the consent of the presiding Federal judge and of many outstanding lawyers, judges and legal scholars throughout the country. The Senators had referred the matter to the House Judiciary Committee for possible instigation of impeachment proceedings against the judge.

It suggests that the two Senators were perhaps overwrought, but that the idea of eavesdropping without the knowledge or consent of members of a jury did smack of an invasion of privacy, though it doubts the need for punitive sanctions against the judge. The case had been so thoroughly aired in the public arena that public opinion would likely be sufficient to prevent recurrence.

It suggests that as an alternative, the researchers should have interviewed the jurors and that if that process appeared too difficult, they could have sought the advice of Dr. Alfred Kinsey, co-author of the well-known reports on human sexuality, who had a way of getting people to talk about matters even more private than jury deliberations.

"He Paid the Fine and Kept the Cotton" tells of one Joe Killian who operated a service station in Cuba, Ala., sometimes getting a bit confused but taking things in stride, which was why the reader had to admire him. He had recently planted a small cotton patch of 16 rows on two-tenths of an acre, primarily just to attract the attention of his neighbors, some of whom had never seen cotton growing. But the local agents of the Department of Agriculture took notice and told him to plow it all up because he did not have an allotment, with the consequence that if he did not, he would have to pay a fine. He had responded that he was not raising the cotton to sell it and even had a sign posted saying, "Tourist Cotton Patch—It's Free". He wrote a letter to Agriculture Secretary Ezra Taft Benson, who had responded with a form letter citing the applicable provisions of Federal laws governing price supports and acreage allotments.

Mr. Killian still had his cotton and it was still growing in Cuba by the side of the road, as he paid the fine, which came to an assessment of $6.37. It hopes that the world would beat a path to his door next to his free cotton patch.

A piece from the Richmond News Leader, titled "Go Quiz Yer Grandma", tells of one of the most irksome gimmicks in the nation being the so-called psychological quiz, with it being a mystery as to what it proved, asking such questions as whether the respondent was compatible with his or her mate, whether their marriage would last, whether the respondent was a good mother, easy to get along with, etc.

Recently in This Week magazine, an inquiry was posed: "Do sports fans make bad husbands?" It indicates that the obvious answer was "maybe yes, maybe no; it depends." But one only received points by answering yes or no. It proceeds to list several complaints among wives regarding their husbands who were sports fans, concluding that the whole thing boiled down to a truism: "If a couple is really compatible, then fishing, golfing, tennising, baseball, pheasant hunting and crap shooting combined won't bust up a marriage. If the couple isn't compatible, then blaming it on the Red Sox amounts to confusing the substance and the accident."

It opines that probably the psychological quizzes did no particular damage, but that the author had better watch out as one day, the wife of a crack golfer would wave the quiz under her husband's nose and insist on going along with his favorite foursome just to hit the ball, and that after the fourth hole, the husband would be looking for the psychologist with a seven iron in his hand and blood in his eye.

Drew Pearson tells of the Pennsylvania State Senate having stymied the legislative program of Governor George Leader, who, at the age of 36, had become the first Democratic Governor elected in Pennsylvania in 20 years. While the State House, with a Democratic majority, had gone along with his legislative program, the Senate was majority Republican by three seats and had decided to block every facet of its proposed improvements to health, education and welfare in the state, as well as the passing of a new tax bill to finance it.

Pennsylvania, the third most populous state at the time, ranked 28th in education, 45th in mental health, with no program for retarded children, and no rehabilitation program in its 24 State institutions, and, among its 67 counties, only half affording a service for juvenile delinquents. In Philadelphia, 100 persons were in jail awaiting assignment to overcrowded mental institutions, without having committed any crime. As a remedy, the Governor had proposed several spending bills on health, public assistance, education, mental health and welfare, and economic development. All of it had passed the State House, but had been blocked in the Senate by six State Senators whom Mr. Pearson lists.

To finance the program, the Governor had proposed dropping the sales tax, which had already expired, and passing a classified income tax, based on ability to pay, and the latter was the chief reason for the blockage of the program, as the Pennsylvania Manufacturers Association did not want the income tax imposed, and its chief lobbyist was in constant contact with the six Republican Senators leading the opposition.

Senator James Duff of Pennsylvania, former Governor, though a longtime opponent of the chief lobbyist for the Manufacturers Association, had, on this occasion, supported the opposition to the income tax, despite most of the financial obligations of the state having been incurred during Mr. Duff's Administration and that of Governor John Fine. The Republicans in the Senate had voted down the tax proposal but had not introduced any substitute measure. They had blocked 500 bills in the Legislature over the course of ten months.

Mr. Pearson points out by contrast that in New York, Governor Averell Harriman faced a hostile Republican-dominated Legislature, but that they had given him a reasonable amount of cooperation, that in Washington, the Democratic leadership in Congress had cooperated with the Eisenhower Administration on all money bills, all foreign policy and about half of the domestic legislation.

A letter writer indicates that, generally, teenagers hung around soda shops, drive-in grills or corner drugstores, with such "drugstore cowboys" sometimes winding up in fights, drinking alcohol and raising a general ruckus, with some going to jail. He says that street racing had been stopped by true hot rodders who had formed clubs forbidding the illegal form of racing. He says there was such a club in Charlotte, of which he was a member, and that for the previous year, they had been trying very hard to get a drag strip, but had enjoyed little success during the prior three years with the citizenry and had given up hope. He thus asks the citizens to help eliminate teenage suicide and get racing on drag strips where it belonged, indicating that the small amount of revenue obtained from the racing for his club would be donated to charity and that the land for the project had already been donated to the club by an elderly lady living near the airport. He supplies the telephone number and address of "Throttle Jockeys Rod and Custom Club" and invites readers to respond.

A letter writer responds to a previous letter on the situation at the Southern States Fair, agrees with her that it was outrageous to have to pay 15 cents for a nickel soft drink and 20 cents for a candy stick, plus the inflated prices of the midway attractions, many of which had been "slickly advertised" as being part of the price of admission. But he states that the fair was strictly designed to make a fast buck and that the fact had to be recognized. He recommends not having the public schools close for a half day to enable schoolchildren to attend the fair, or, if they were to continue to be so closed, the soft drink, candy and sandwich concessions at the fair should be turned over to the PTA.

A letter writer responds to the same prior letter on the fair, says that when an adult would deliberately cheat or shortchange a child, that person was about as low as one could get. She says that her daughter had put a dollar in the window for a ride and was provided a half-dollar in change, inquiring whether the ride was 50 cents, being told, as hatefully as possible, that it was. But a friend of her daughter had only paid a quarter and when her daughter reminded the ticket-taker of the fact, she had thrown a quarter at her daughter and said: "Well take your old quarter then." The child had been scared but was mad enough to relate of the incident when she got home. The writer wants proper officials to do something about such cheating, of which everyone was talking.

A letter writer from Myrtle Beach, S.C., indicates that recent press pictures had pointed out the gradual appreciation of some people in North Carolina for the grave danger faced by all who lived along the coast from hurricanes and flooding. He notes that some man in the Atlantic Beach area was building an interlocking concrete sheet piling wall, which he regards as a fine move but indicates that the joker was that unless everyone above and below did the same, he would find himself an island of safety in a sea of despair. He says that the solution was to build such strong sea walls extending down to the lower areas of the beach, below the low-tide mark, and at regular intervals to construct groins jutting toward and into the low-tide area far enough to cause changes in eddy currents and accumulate sand around them. He says that in his own dredging operations in Long Bay and off St. Petersburg, Fla., he had concluded that hurricanes not only moved dirt and sand near the shores but stirred things up to a major degree in the open sea and in the Gulf of Mexico. He was aware that they massively affected the force of travel of the Gulf Stream such that the speed in the axis moved up from four knots to seven knots in great surges. As long as the hurricane was moving north, such surges were observed, and when it stalled, they had noted along Long Bay another type of wave effect. He says that it suggested why intelligent planning and cooperative efforts between North Carolina and South Carolina were imperative and that in the ensuing three years, judging by the previous three, they could reasonably expect four hurricanes per year to come up the coast. He adds that the rock-bound, well-harbored New England coast should have come through the hurricanes better than they had in the Carolinas, but that they had gone to sleep just like the people in the Carolinas had.

A letter writer indicates that as newcomers to the city and as music lovers and musicians, she and her husband wanted to congratulate the newspaper for its review by its music critic of the recent performance by the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra, that the critic had a good ear for symphonic music, hearing the weaknesses and strengths, was honest and kind in imparting them, and that any musical organization with an open mind could benefit from the critic—whom the editors identify as Edwin Bergamini.

The only problem with their praise is that it appears to misidentify the orchestra, it actually having been the Boston Symphony Orchestra, although the letter's parenthetical insertion of the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra gives rise to the question whether the misidentification was that of the writer or the editor of the letters column making an invalid assumption premised on too cursory or no archival research into the recent files of the newspaper, albeit without the facility of digitized newsprint with which to do it then, and so, perhaps, if so, the consequence of excusable indolence. Only the sea knows for sure...

A letter writer expresses, on behalf of Mayor Philip Van Every's U.N. Day-U.N. Week committee, thanks to the newspaper for its support in providing publicity and accurate reporting regarding Eleanor Roosevelt's recent visit to the city as part of the commemoration of the tenth anniversary of the U.N. founding, indicates that the crowd of about 800 attending her speech on October 5 had been the result almost exclusively of that press support and radio cooperation.

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