The Charlotte News

Wednesday, December 14, 1955


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports from Gettysburg that the President and First Lady had relaxed this date, with the President under medical advice to take it a little easier and so had not scheduled any appointments, planning to spend the day at his farm home. He had returned from Washington in the mid-afternoon of the previous day after two days of White House conferences with Congressional leaders, for the first time since his heart attack of September 24 having traveled by plane on his return to Gettysburg.

Senator Estes Kefauver of Tennessee announced the previous day that he planned to introduce a resolution calling for appointment of a special counsel to fight the Dixon-Yates 3.5 million dollar damage suit, which had been filed earlier this date at the U.S. Court of Claims, regarding the cancellation of the contract by the Atomic Energy Commission after it was determined that Adolph Wenzell had negotiated the contract with a conflict of interest, having been at once an adviser to the Budget Bureau and also worked for the bank which had financed the contract. Senator Kefauver said that if the Administration had been doing its duty, it would have a case in court against Dixon-Yates by the present time, seeking to recover some of the real damages suffered by the Government. The AEC had negotiated the contract for a 107 million dollar private power plant with Dixon-Yates, at the direction of the President. Senator Clinton Anderson of New Mexico joined Senator Kefauver in wanting the special counsel appointed, to make sure that the Justice Department did not put up a "milquetoast defense" against the claim by Dixon-Yates. Senator Anderson was the chairman of the joint Atomic Energy Committee and Senator Kefauver headed a Senate anti-monopoly subcommittee which had held hearings on the contract.

A Charlotte firm, J. A. Jones Construction Co., had held a contract for construction of the first phase of the proposed Dixon-Yates power plant at West Memphis, Ark., reporting that it had received partial payment for the work it had performed at the site and expected to be fully paid by the private firm with which it had contracted, did not expect to have to file suit.

In Fort Smith, Ark., two persons, a 45-year old fireman and an 18-year old construction worker, were believed to have been killed when both sides of a 28-foot deep pit had collapsed, burying them beneath tons of dirt and debris, with rescue workers having reached one of the victims, but before he could be brought to the surface, the pit had collapsed a second time within a three-hour span the previous day.

In New York, it was reported that across the country Christmas buying was on the increase for the year, with retailers reporting between a five and 10 percent increase in trade over the previous Christmas season. Christmas shopping in two dozen major cities surveyed was smashing all previous records, with the preference of consumers being gadgets, gimmicks and luxury gifts, rather than practical items. There were areas in which Christmas shopping was curtailed, such as in New Orleans where department store officials said that shoppers were a little more cautious during the year because credit was somewhat tight. A survey by the Los Angeles Mirror-News showed that families in the $3,000 to $5,000 income range were buying less for Christmas than a year earlier, because of new babies, medical bills, payments on new homes, and higher property taxes. But higher income shoppers were spending lavishly, and many Los Angeles merchants believed that new records in buying were being established. In the Carolinas, an Associated Press survey had shown that customers were "plentiful, eager and loaded with money or ready credit."

Julian Scheer of The News reports from Chapel Hill on an address by an internationally known authority on city planning, Walter Blucher, jointly sponsored by the Institute of Government and the North Carolina section of the American Institute of Planners, lecturing on "How Can City Planning Help the City Council", indicating that heated problems arose between planning boards and local legislative groups quite frequently throughout the country, that there were two major aspects of city-county planning, the first being that the final decision on a general zoning ordinance usually had to be made by the legislative body with the planning board as an advisory body, and that the legislative body was naturally subject to certain pressures which, along with differing opinions on the subject, often produced widespread controversy. Second, when there were amendments in zoning, they ought be referred to the planning commission, with such "spot zoning" usually being the major point of contention. The extent of spot zoning usually depended on the caliber of the legislative group. But there would always be some changes in zoning.

Dick Young of The News reports that authorization for additional industrial areas in the city's perimeter had been slated for approval at the afternoon session of the City Council, with the final hearing on the perimeter zoning recommendations from the City-County Planning Commission having been scheduled, with only new petitions for changes in the recommendations and only previously heard petitions with new evidence to be heard.

Donald MacDonald of The News tells of a woman having been arrested by an undercover police officer in Ivey's department store after she had attempted to steal the undercover police officer's pocketbook, deliberately left out on a counter during the morning. In City Recorder's Court, the 52-year old defendant was ordered to make restitution and pay fines and court costs totaling $404, and was also given a suspended 12-month sentence in the Women's Division of the State Prison in Raleigh. The woman had admitted taking other pocketbooks in Ivey's and a purse the previous May from a female shopper in the McClellan dime store.

Also in City Recorder's Court in Charlotte, a defendant was found guilty of assaulting his mother-in-law and provided a suspended sentence on condition that he not molest his mother-in-law for another two years, while he was on probation. He had been arrested over two years earlier for hitting his mother-in-law with a broomstick, and had received a suspended sentence at that time for two years. The defendant had volunteered to submit to a "seismograph" test until the solicitor informed him that the seismograph measured earthquakes. The defendant said that he was not guilty and testified that his mother-in-law had twisted his arm behind his back and hit him with her pocketbook. He said that he forgave her and had nothing but love in his heart for her.

Also in Charlotte, a tiny yellow parakeet was serving a 30-day sentence in jail because its owner was serving a 30-day sentence for drunkenness, with the bird being cared for by police officers. The bird had been found in a cage in the man's car after his court sentence. Police said that they would parole the bird if a responsible person would keep it until its owner was released. Not with four cases of psittacosis having been reported, transmitted by a parakeet. You must think people are stupid or something.

In North Little Rock, Ark., a man had been involved in two automobile accidents during his lifetime, one of them having occurred the previous day and the other 13 years earlier, also on December 13, with the man having been driving on 13th Street on both occasions.

On the editorial page, "Wake Forest's Honor Comes First" finds that dignity of the institution of higher learning was being left aside in the battle at Wake Forest College regarding the administration of president Harold Tribble. It posits that surely it had importance, but that one would not know it to hear the charges and counter-charges tossed recklessly about.

It suggests that the honor and reputation of the school had to emerge from the dispute intact, more valuable by far than any of the personalities involved. It finds that Wake Forest had rendered such significant public service in the past and had dedicated itself so completely to the public good that it quite naturally became a subject of legitimate public concern. It finds the danger to the institution to be the unbridled bitterness among certain alumni, trustees and "friends" of the College. Such bitterness could not be allowed to interfere with the institution's proper mission and operations.

The basis for the present dispute had not been formally acknowledged, but appeared to be a combination of factors, football and religion among them. The situation needed to be ameliorated with as little interference as possible from politicians, alumni, benefactors, townspeople, and others who wanted winning football teams.

The business of the college in modern society was to teach students to develop critical intelligence and all connected with the college ought be engaged in it, while everything else, including the attitude of the president of the institution toward big-time football and other such trifles, was secondary.

"Charlotte & Fluoridation: Gratification" tells of Charlotte, after a mild flurry of opposition to fluoridation of water, now able to take deep satisfaction in the results of the Newburgh-Kingston, N.Y., study in which health leaders said that ten-year human tests demonstrated that the addition of sodium fluoride to drinking water was a "safe and effective" way of sharply reducing tooth decay in children. The town of Newburgh had begun adding a little sodium fluoride to its water ten years earlier, while Kingston, a nearby town of equal size, had not, with doctors reporting a 60 percent reduction of tooth decay and loss in Newburgh, without any harm to children.

The New York State health commissioner had announced that the study had demonstrated the effectiveness and safety of water fluoridation as a public health procedure.

Organized protests had resulted in fluoridation being voted out in some cities, such as Greensboro, N.C. Vic Reinemer, former associate editor of The News, had written in The Reporter recently that opponents of the process had charged that it was everything from rat poison to a Marxist plot. Such absurd statements had been made by the opponents of fluoridation in Charlotte, but local public officials, bolstered by the support of local dental and medical leaders and civic organizations, had held their ground such that Charlotte still had fluoridation.

It indicates that every new scientific proposal had to win public acceptance in a battle of ideas, just as had the vaccination against smallpox, the immunization against diphtheria, chlorination of water for safety, fortification of milk with vitamin D and enrichment of flour for bakery items. It urges that there was no lingering doubt about the benefits and safety of fluoridation, approved by every national, state and territorial scientific society of recognized standing in the field of health, including the American Dental Association, the AMA and the U.S. Public Health Service.

"Fire & Fuel: Always Dangerous" tells of cold weather, carelessness and fire taking a large toll in Charlotte, that within the previous five days, one person had died, another had been hospitalized and three others, including an expectant mother and a three-year old child, had to jump from a second story window of a burning home to save their lives. One dwelling had been destroyed, two damaged and others endangered. One fire had been caused by pouring kerosene on hot coals, another by spilling kerosene on the floor near a heater, and a third by a defective flue and an overheated stove.

The Fire Department had a long list of rules regarding the filling, placement and adjustment of heaters and furnaces, but it boiled down to exercise of common sense. Carelessness was not limited to the very young, the very old or the very infirm and fires were most likely to break out in homes where it was assumed that they would not and where heating mechanisms and fuel were not treated with the respect and caution they demanded.

"The Pine Is a Part of Christmas" indicates that it was pleased to see some pines on the Christmas tree lots around Charlotte, as the current Christmas season was bringing a kind of justice to the pine. It was green in spring while the willow was a pale green, the oak was glossy and the rose-leaf green was touched with red. The pine was also green in summer but did not afford shade for people who wanted to get out of the heat. The pine was also green in autumn, but autumn hated green against the variegated leaves of the deciduous trees.

But green in winter, it suggests, represented promise, strength and durability and to be green was enough for a tree to be. "Pine is a part of Christmas, in tree and log and cone, and in its simplicity it is somehow larger and in all senses greater than the giant oaks that stand gaunt against the sky."

A piece from the Greensboro Daily News, titled "We're the Best", tells of a frozen food outfit in Cleveland, O., having put on a country ham contest, and of the first ten places, nine had been won by North Carolina hams.

The American Pheasant Society had presented its Master Breeder Award to a Winston-Salem couple.

Thus it was able to smirk at the claim of an Atlanta newspaper that the Georgia turkey was the world's finest and of the similar proclamations in grocery store ads for Maryland turkeys.

It had concluded that North Carolina had the best hams, bacon, chitterlings, turkey, hens, fryers, capons, guineas, ducks, geese, shad, herring, assorted roes, scallops, oysters, shrimp, flounder, trout, venison, rabbit, bear and opossum. But one heard little clamor about such things, as it was not in the nature of North Carolinians to prate and preen.

It concedes that Maryland had better crabs, that South Carolina had excellent rice and gravy, and that Virginia had good fatback. But otherwise, it claims "supremacy in all."

Drew Pearson indicates that the latest medical reports on the President had convinced the members of the old Taft wing of the Republican Party, presently led by Senator William Knowland of California, that it would be quite difficult to have the President run again at the age of 66 the following year, and the delay in the report had deepened their suspicion that supporters of former Governor Thomas Dewey around the White House were stalling for time so that they could groom their own candidate. Mr. Pearson indicates that with the heavy load of the presidency crushing down on President Eisenhower, and given that he was never excited about running again in the first place, and that he had done little since the September 24 attack by comparison to what he would have to do if he were to run again, it was increasingly likely that he would not do so. Thus, the former Taft Republicans believed that they should proceed to get some candidates ready to enter the race.

Mr. Pearson indicates that the press which had covered the President both at Denver and Gettysburg during his recovery understood that he had been subjected to very little strain. While in Denver, the President had been bored with inactivity and he had been informed of few problems. Those members of the Cabinet who had gone to see him had not discussed such matters as the walkout of the French from the U.N. after it had voted to take up the debate on Algeria, or the basic problems of the Geneva foreign ministers conference, which had taken place between October 27 and November 16, and accomplished nothing. While there had been two Cabinet and Security Council meetings since the President had returned to his Gettysburg farm, the schedule otherwise had been light, causing, according to one old friend, the President to be restless and somewhat irritable.

Meanwhile, some around the President were undertaking an advertising campaign to suggest that all was returning to normal in terms of the President's energy and health, and that strategy had upset the Old Guard of the party, along with the fact that RNC chairman Leonard Hall had held a more important conference with former Governor Dewey regarding whether the President was going to run again than he had with the President, himself.

He concludes that the Presidency could not be conducted by a man with one hand, and the Republicans who had criticized the Democrats, after President Wilson's stroke 16 months before the end of his term in early 1921, for letting the nation drift downhill during his illness, ought be the first to recognize that idea.

Joseph & Stewart Alsop indicate that the President might be faced with a very difficult decision at the beginning of the year, whether to abandon West Berlin or adopt the course which President Truman had once seriously considered, ordering an armored convoy to Berlin, with instructions to shoot if necessary.

Most of the experts in the State Department hoped that the Soviets would not risk a second blockade of Berlin, as had occurred in 1948-49, broken by the Allied airlift. But the experts did not exclude that possibility and what was presently going on in Berlin appeared as preliminary to such a blockade.

Months earlier, former Ambassador to the Soviet Union, George Kennan, had publicly predicted that the Soviets would respond as they had to the adherence of West Germany to NATO, conferring a phony sovereignty on East Germany, as Mr. Kennan had also predicted. He said that at that point, the East Germans would place pressure on West Berlin so that the Western allies would be forced to protest to the Soviets, a protest which would be rejected on the ground that East Germany was a sovereign state, thus humiliating the West and Soviet power demonstrated for the Germans. The East Germans would use West Berlin as a hostage to force West Germany to negotiate directly with the Communist puppet regime in East Germany, setting the stage for what Europeans called "the dialogue Bonn-Pankow", that is direct negotiations on unification of Germany on an equal basis between the two parts, as the Soviets had long sought. State Department officials had also foreseen that the Soviets might thus react.

The present question was how far the East German puppets and Soviet masters were prepared to go, with most State Department experts believing that the Communists would adopt a policy of "maximum harassment", subjecting West Berlin to a series of small harassing actions, such as holding up traffic, demanding excessive tolls and the like, but not stopping all traffic into Berlin so as not to impose a complete blockade.

But if East Germany could get tough, the West Germans could also get tough, as East Germany was still heavily dependent on West German coal and steel. The previous spring, the East Germans had threatened punitive tolls on traffic to West Berlin, at which point the West German government reduced shipments of coal and steel to East Germany, and the situation was quickly mollified.

The State Department believed that too much toughness by East Germany could unite West Germany, which the Soviets had sought hard to woo, behind Chancellor Konrad Adenauer's policies and in the process revive the faltering fortunes of NATO. A total blockade of Berlin also involved a risk of war and despite the recent hardening of the Soviet policy, U.S. experts remained convinced that the Kremlin did not want to risk a war. A blockade at present would cause a greater risk of war than it had in 1948 because in the latter event, the three Western Allies had pledged their national honor to the defense of Berlin. Even the appeasers in Britain, France and the U.S. were fully aware that to abandon Berlin would bring about another Munich of 1938, magnified a thousand times.

All of which understanding, it might be noted, is central to a full conceptualization of the complexity of the Cuban Missile Crisis of October, 1962, in terms of how the Soviet chess match was played with the Kennedy Administration and how the latter went about quickly resolving it short of nuclear confrontation, when, in the words at the time of a message from Premier Nikita Khrushchev to President Kennedy, the rope in the tug-of-war had been pulled much too tight.

Doris Fleeson indicates that until two months earlier, labor had been largely politically sleepy and apathetic, with full employment enabling consumer comforts, though the labor press and leaders continued to warn that the Administration and its big business allies did not like labor, while the rank-and-file remained less than responsive. Some of the leaders were only going through the motions without much conviction.

But since that time, Republican politicians and businessmen had mounted an offensive against labor leaders and their unions, triggered by the recent merger of the AFL and CIO. George Meany, the conciliatory senior statesman of the AFL, had been belabored as hard as the creative intellectual, Walter Reuther. The attackers, Ms. Fleeson ventures, might be helping to create the thing that they feared, that union leaders could and did dominate their members politically in favor of Democrats.

Republicans liked to foster the legend that Democrats drove the workers to the polls and got them to vote as directed, but that was a myth, disproved many times by UMW leader John L. Lewis, by the late Senator Robert Taft, and by the President, among others. But the merger of the two organizations could revive that legend, with many leading Republicans in the Senate, Harold Stassen, and industrialists who underwrote Republican campaigns attacking the merger, to the delight of Democrats, as it was bringing in millions of dollars of contributions to the Democrats.

Secretary of Labor James Mitchell had opposed the Republican criticism, including that by Senator Barry Goldwater, chairman of the Republican Senate campaign committee, who had accused labor leaders of plotting "a conspiracy of national proportions". Secretary Mitchell continued to be conciliatory and with his influence, had produced a cordial greeting from the President to the meeting which had produced the merger. But he could not compete with the flood of Republican eloquence in the other direction.

Ms. Fleeson concludes that with the Administration already in trouble with farmers, it was puzzling that they would take on another large bloc of voters in labor.

From The Vintage Mencken, edited by Alistair Cooke, comes a short quote from Mr. Mencken on agnosticism, regarding the inscrutability of the will and works of God.

A letter writer tells of a popular television show revealing what certain fictitious persons would do with a million unexpected dollars, and he indicates that a number of his friends had told him of all the good they could do with that much money. He suggests that those who did not get much out of Christmas did not put much into it and that those who got the most out of the season were not those who gave the most money but rather those who gave the most of themselves. He suggests rummaging through attics to find old clothes to give to people who were cold and in need of warmth at Christmas. He suggests that it would be a wonderful thing if each person who helped another in distress at Christmas would stand by that person throughout the year, that most of the world's heaviest burdens might be lifted under such circumstances, making human suffering bearable. He says that he had made some resolutions for the Christmas season and hopes that he could live to renew them the following Christmas.

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