The Charlotte News

Saturday, December 24, 1955


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports from San Francisco that authorities had ordered the evacuation of Yuba City, 90 miles northeast of San Francisco, shortly after midnight this date when the waters of the Feather River had broken a 40-yard wide hole in levees south of the town. The evacuation order followed by only hours the evacuation of some 12,500 persons in the sister city of Marysville, just across the river. A San Francisco Chronicle reporter, Tim Adams, had telephoned from the scene in Yuba City, stating that there was panic and that everyone was piling into cars and taking off, including some who had evacuated from Marysville the previous day, taking refuge in Yuba City.

Meanwhile, rain had fallen over the drenched and beleaguered state for the ninth straight day, adding more water to the already choked rivers and streams which had brought destruction to what Army engineers estimated to be 10,000 to 15,000 square miles of land within the state. Southern Oregon and Nevada also battled flooding rivers. The latest death toll in California was 17, with five having died in Oregon and none so far in Nevada. About 20,000 persons had been evacuated from their homes in California, with 1,500 evacuated in Oregon and more than 600 in Nevada. Damage estimates were up to ten million dollars, likely to go higher. The President had declared northern California a "major disaster area". Heavy rain was reported falling early this date on the central coast area, south of San Francisco, and in the southern part of the Central Valley, as well in the Sierra foothills, causing fears of heavy flooding for the south central interior of the state. Other than the areas around Marysville and Yuba City, flood dangers were subsiding in the northern part of the state, with the Weather Bureau predicting only light rain over the northern areas this date.

In Washington, Christmas carols, sung by the grandchildren of the President and Mrs. Eisenhower, would start the Christmas Eve celebration for the First Family at the White House. The three children of Maj. John Eisenhower, the President's son, had been practicing for days Christmas carols which they would sing for their grandparents, their father and their great-grandmother, who had arrived during the week in Washington from Denver. Their mother was in Walter Reed Hospital, where she had given birth to their fourth child, Mary Jane, the previous Wednesday. The family would have a chance to see her on Christmas when she left the hospital briefly for the family dinner, starting at 6:00 p.m. The Eisenhowers had invited 16 guests, all members of their extended family, for dinner. Three of the grandchildren would hang their stockings from the mantel in the sitting room of Mrs. Eisenhower's mother on the second floor in the presidential living quarters. In the East Room of the White House, there was an 18-foot spruce tree, trimmed in silver and glowing with 300 white lights. In the Blue Room, there was a tree decorated in silver and blue, and in the State Dining Room, there was one with multicolored decorations. Beside the door on the north portico, there were two trees strung with lights, and from windows on the south side, the children could see a row of lighted trees lining the pathway to the tree of the Pageant of Peace. The youngsters would have their own Christmas tree on the third floor, where the guest rooms were, and another, around which the presents would be placed, was on the second floor in the living quarters. The President would distribute the presents. The President and Mrs. Eisenhower would attend services at the National Presbyterian Church the following morning, for the first time since his heart attack on September 24.

In Frankfurt, West Germany, a G.I. said, "A smile on a kid's face is the same in any language." American servicemen from the Atlantic to the Iron Curtain were taking time out from their Christmas celebrations to brighten the holiday for thousands of orphans, needy children and refugees, as virtually every U.S. unit stationed in Europe had given a party for children or help of some kind for the poor. In Germany, where the bulk of the 300,000 U.S. servicemen on the continent were stationed, the Army estimated that 70,000 German children had been entertained at pre-Christmas festivities. One of the warmest gestures had been "Operation Candy Drop", with the 14th Armored Regiment having sent motorized Santa Claus patrols to tour West German villages bordering the Communist frontier and deliver candy to the children, with the Santas calling the children by loudspeaker as each patrol entered a village. Elsewhere, Santa had arrived by jeep, by "sleds" built over jeeps, and by helicopter. One outfit, for instance, had dropped toys to children in Germany by small parachutes. At Orleans, France, American service personnel had raised $4,000 to purchase flannel pajamas for 1,300 orphans. At Wurzburg, Germany, the 10th U.S. Infantry Division had collected $14,200 to aid nearly 3,700 orphans, refugee children and physically handicapped children. the Army had promised each serviceman nearly a pound of turkey as part of a dinner which started with shrimp cocktail and ended with mince pie. The Army had arranged to get hot turkey dinners to troops in the field or units manning isolated radar and communications stations as well.

In Arab-held Bethlehem, within sight of the closely guarded Jordan-Israeli demarcation line, everything was ready for the traditional Christmas Eve pilgrimage and midnight church services. Despite the lifting of a curfew after five days of political rioting in Jordan, the atmosphere continued to be more nervous than usual, with fewer visitors being expected in the current year for the ancient ritual of midnight mass in St. Catherine's Church, adjoining the Church of the Nativity.

At Vatican City, Pope Pius XII, in his 17th Christmas message to the world, this date called upon men to rededicate themselves to Christian principles, saying, "We reject communism as a social system in view of Christian doctrine." He repeated the angel's words from Luke, chapter 2, verse 10, to the shepherds on the hill, the night of the birth of Christ: "Fear not for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy that shall be to all the people." He said that he hoped everyone across the world "would again hear as though it were said to each one of them in particular—the voice of an angel announcing the mystery of divine grandeur and of infinite love." His message was carried by radio to countries throughout the world.

Queen Elizabeth II was with her family at Sandringham, the 7,000-acre estate in Norfolk, where the British royal family had been gathering for Christmas since the days of the Queen's great-grandfather, Edward VII. The Queen would provide her customary broadcast to the Commonwealth and Empire on Christmas Day.

Ann Sawyer of The News reports that City Police chief Frank Littlejohn had stated this date that Lt. Neal Forney of the Department had been "entirely justified" in slaying a 28-year old black man in a gun battle the previous night. It was believed that another black man, whom police thought was "planted" at the scene of the gunfight, had also been wounded by the detective, director of the City Police Youth Bureau. A coroner's inquest would be held, and the County coroner had removed four bullets from the dead man. City police were still looking for the other black man, believed to be wounded. There is no account on the front page part of the story as to how the gun battle took place or what precipitated it.

An unidentified black man had been knocked unconscious early during the morning by a City policeman during a struggle, after the officer noticed the man in a drunken state on Trade Street, attempted to arrest him, the man having resisted and a struggle ensued, during which the man seized the officer's gun and ordered him through an alley. When the officer refused to go, the man started down the alley alone, then started to run, but was overtaken by the officer, at which point the man pulled the trigger of the pistol as the officer attempted to take it away from him. During the struggle, the officer recovered the pistol and struck the man over the left eye, knocking him unconscious. An ambulance was called, but when it reached Good Samaritan Hospital, the unidentified man, who had been unconscious, fled the scene.

Harry Shuford of The News indicates that Charlotte was ready for Christmas, as the magic of Christmas Eve had taken over this date. Charlotte merchants had begun closing their doors during the afternoon, after what would probably prove to be the biggest Christmas selling season on record in Charlotte. Operators of local ABC stores, which would remain open 3 to 4 hours longer than ordinary merchants, until 9:00 p.m., also reported brisk business. The following day, the city would be completely closed, with the only people on duty being police and firemen. Drugstores, which were ordinarily open for a half day on Sundays, would be closed. On Monday, the city would also largely be closed down.

Charlotte Mayor Philip Van Every provides a Christmas message to the city, which is printed verbatim.

Here, there is more regarding Christmas in Charlotte in 1955. And that's the way it was...

On the editorial page, "On Earth Peace, Good Will Toward Men" provides verbatim the story of Christmas, as told in the Book of Luke, chapter 2, verses 1 through 20.

"The Publisher's Christmas Message" provides the traditional annual message of News publisher Thomas L. Robinson, thanking the community, the readers, the advertisers, and the staff for making it another good year for the newspaper.

"We must give generously of ourselves if we are to be fully worthy of our birthright as God's children."

"The Stocking: Almost to the Brim" indicates that the Empty Stocking, which would never be filled to the brim, had reached the highest level ever this year, as labor unions, newspaper boys, railway agents, individuals, churches, restaurants, clubs and business offices all had contributed, to make Christmas a joyful day for 1,300 indigent families in the area.

The late William T. Polk had written that Christmas is "… gold, frankincense and myrrh to the needy, the humble and the sorrowing … a stocking hung with Faith and filled by Love … it is the night depository in which past-due payments are made on debts of friendship and love which have accumulated during the year … it is the gift of a cloak when a coat was asked…"

It believes that summed up Christmas and, in a sense, the Empty Stocking Fund, as well as the other funds opened during the Christmas season.

"To those who filled the Stocking we extend heartfelt thanks in the name of those who reach into it; and in our name, too, for permitting us to hang it. Merry Christmas!"

A piece from the Washington Post, titled "Have It and Eat It", deals with the problem of what to do with Christmas cards after they had been opened and admired, exhibited and credited in the Christmas ledger, with the answer being to eat them, as now the edible Christmas card was on the market in the form of a chocolate billet which could be mailed.

It finds that it had come just in time, as the list of Christmas card recipients was growing longer such that there would not be enough orphanages or incinerators to take care of the tons of surplus greeting cards when they became obsolete the day after New Year's, or enough mantels, tables, pianos, window sills or walls to accommodate the cards received. The edible card had solved that problem.

It adds that while it might temporarily cause additional overweight and indigestion, it would help to get rid of some of the nation's food surplus, and since everyone planned to go on a diet on January 2 anyway, it suggests that there was no reason not to sample one more Christmas card to see how it tasted.

Drew Pearson, in Thule, Greenland, suggests that if people were tired from Christmas shopping and the like, they should think about what it would be like to be near the North Pole, where he was, with 6,000 U.S. servicemen and three Army nurses, plus several thousand more men at a string of bases extending from Newfoundland to Greenland to Labrador. Mr. Pearson says that he had taken a group of theatrical friends and Hartford Models with him to bring some variety in the pre-Christmas season.

Senator Stuart Symington, when he had been Secretary of the Air Force, had first suggested such a trip to the polar area, but Mr. Pearson, for various reasons, one being his desire not to interfere with the shows being put on each Christmas by Bob Hope and his entourage, had never been able to manage it until the present year. He provides his itinerary from New York, going to Goose Bay, Labrador, where morale was not quite the issue it was in northern Greenland, as it was not so isolated, with wives permitted to live on the base and a few Canadian villages nearby, as well as friendly Canadian troops stationed in the vicinity. But the 125 inches of snow which had stacked up around the eaves of the barracks the previous year, and almost every year, kept Goose Bay from being a winter resort, and so the troops there appeared to appreciate the show.

He discovered an instant bond with the base commander, Col. James Knapp, based on the latter's affection for cats, shared by Mr. Pearson. Col. Knapp had been concerned that the show would last too long and so cautioned that the troops could not stand in the hangar where it was performed for more than an hour, though it eventually lasted three hours, to the applause of the 2,000 appreciative troops, with the colonel confessing that he had been overcautious.

He lists those who had participated in the show.

He tells of education standards being higher in the Air Force, with 65 percent having high school diplomas and 50 percent of the men having some college work, which meant that about 6,000 men at Thule were in the latter category. Of the balance, 1,135 were taking courses at either the University of Maryland or the Armed Forces Institute. The University of Maryland sent a rotation of 12 instructors to the polar area to teach 20 different courses, and by taking enough of those courses, a man could finally graduate and receive a diploma either from the University or from the Armed Forces Institute.

Joseph & Stewart Alsop tell of the proposed budget for the coming fiscal year, as developed by Secretary of the Treasury George Humphrey and Budget Bureau director Rowland Hughes, having been planned a year earlier, with the previous defense budget having "one-shot" savings, keeping defense spending to 34.5 billion dollars. Military and economic foreign aid were similarly kept down through utilizing unexpended balances, keeping it at 2.7 billion. Thus, they had performed a "hat trick" consisting of a simple policy directive to hold the defense and foreign aid spending in the present fiscal year budget to the level of the previous year's appropriations. The previous year's "savings" could not be repeated and so the previous year's appropriations could not be duplicated without creating "savings" somewhere else.

The real effect, therefore, of the directive had been to require a sharp permanent cut in U.S. fighting power and an even more drastic cut in foreign aid. The weakening of defenses and slackening of the cold war effort would hardly be noticeable, as the Congress would be asked to vote for the same sums as they had appropriated the previous year, enabling the country to be told that things were continuing as before.

But in the meantime, the Soviets had extended and intensified their cold war offensive, intruding into the Middle East and thereby causing alarm through all staff levels of the Administration, mobilizing the group of higher policymakers, led by Vice-President Nixon and Nelson Rockefeller, who had come to be called "the young Turks".

While Secretary Humphrey and Mr. Hughes had been indirectly demanding the weakening of the nation's defenses and slackening of the cold war effort, the Vice-President and Mr. Rockefeller were passionately advocating the opposite policy, warning that the whole world balance of power was rapidly tilting toward the Soviets, and asking how any Administration could permit that to happen, urging a "bold new program" to reverse that trend. In the ensuing struggle, more bad feeling had been generated than had yet been admitted publicly. The intra-Administration struggle had reached its climax in an all-day meeting of the National Security Council at Camp David recently, with the outcome having been a compromise between the two conflicting viewpoints.

To avoid weakening of the nation's defenses, the defense appropriation was raised to 35.5 billion dollars and the cold war effort was not to be slackened. The real meaning of the recent commotion about "increases" in the aforementioned budget items was simply that the nation was in fact carrying on as before instead of just pretending to do so.

The recent extension and intensification of the Soviet cold war offensive constituted a great challenge, which had helped to produce the President's temporary fatigue reported by his doctors, and the massive recent progress of Soviet armament programs was another great challenge, both of which almost certainly meant that the balance of power in the world was now shifting toward the Soviets, just as Vice-President Nixon and Mr. Rockefeller had suggested. But the decision at Camp David had been to ignore those challenges and let the world power balance continue to tilt against the U.S.

The Alsops indicate that it was a national choice of the most far-reaching importance, kept out of the gaze of the American public, even if events would eventually bring it into the open, when the Joint Chiefs had to report to Congress the real state of the defenses, or when a development abroad produced more searching inquiries than were now being made.

Doris Fleeson says that recent developments showed that the Administration was proposing action in many areas where it had previously been content to hold the line and leave the initiative to the Democrats. The previous Tuesday, three Cabinet members had disclosed to press conferences new spending programs, which not only contradicted previous emphasis on budget balancing but, according to the three Secretaries who spoke on them, had implied that the direction they were taking had become a matter of national policy.

Secretary of State Dulles confirmed the Administration's plan to ask Congress for just under five billion dollars in new foreign aid money, which was 81 percent more than presently spent, explaining that it was necessary to "replenish the pipelines" so that assistance could go on for a considerable period of time.

Secretary of Defense Charles E. Wilson had confirmed his forecast that his budget would be about a billion dollars higher than at present, with the extra money primarily going for "wonder weapons", bringing the defense budget to about 35.5 billion dollars.

HEW Secretary Marion Folsom promised to ask Congress for medical research expenditures between 25 and 30 percent higher than current levels, and would seek Federal aid for construction of research facilities and medical education.

The Administration's efforts to expand the farm relief program of perhaps its most conservative member, Secretary of Agriculture Ezra Taft Benson, had been in the news for some time. Despite his critics, Secretary Benson and his flexible price supports would remain, but he would suggest new remedies at the next session of Congress. Apparently it would include a soil bank and a surplus disposal program of genuine proportions, suggestions originally put forward by Senators Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota and Clinton Anderson of New Mexico.

Treasury Secretary Humphrey had not yet committed himself to a tax cut, but was holding out hope in public for it and privately was drafting plans for such a cut, which would have the approval of the President.

Ms. Fleeson indicates that the significance was not lost on Democrats, who in the recent past had managed to obtain a lot of campaign fodder from similar moderate proposals of their own. One Democrat moaned that the Republicans were "stealing Lyndon Johnson's clothes," the Majority Leader having prided himself on his own state of the union message, outlining a moderate legislative program, with Democrats suggesting that perhaps the President had joined him, but the President would get the credit politically.

She suggests that the ultimate effect could be to force the Democrats, especially their presidential candidates, further to the left, and since most observers believed the country to be in a moderate mood, the Republicans would benefit from such a shift, whether or not the President ran again. Republicans wanted to see Adlai Stevenson forced into more extreme positions, as he was the Democrat they feared most because he was personally conservative and more moderate in action than other declared candidates.

The right wing of the Republican Party would find some of the President's moves unpalatable, but could be expected to go along for the sake of victory in the fall, while Democrats might be able to prove that they had suggested most of the program, as in fact they had, but it would avail them little to complain.

A letter writer from Carthage, N.C., urges extending a helpful and sympathetic hand to those less fortunate at Christmas, and he especially cites farmers as not having been able to increase their savings during the year. He says that peace was still being threatened and the "evil ways" of the Communists would confront "the world in years to come unless the spirit of the Prince of Peace can find a place in their hearts and minds." He finds a more pressing problem to be how to stimulate harmonious relations between whites and blacks in the state and in the South, suggesting that there were traitors "even to God's plan, it seems, who would integrate these races and create a mongrel race, circumvent that wonderful plan and cause even the Lord to look down upon such human weakness with a sense of shame."

And he goes on with his stupid gibberish, which is hardly fit for any newspaper on Christmas Eve. Whoever the fool editor was who let that garbage get printed on this date needed his head examined. We refuse to be part of it. There is nothing "Christian" about it. We could say some other things, but it is Christmas Eve...

Anyway, despite all that negativity to end the page, Merry Christmas to all and to all, a good night.

The First Day of Christmas: One less letter writer, dangling in a pear tree—figuratively, of course.

Framed Edition
[Return to Links
Page by Subject] [Return to Links-Page by Date] [Return to News<i><i><i>—</i></i></i>Framed Edition]
Links-Date Links-Subj.