The Charlotte News

Friday, December 30, 1955


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that a House subcommittee of the Government Operations Committee, probing governmental information policies, had announced this date plans for further hearings on a reported attitude in some agencies that the public had little or no right to know what was going on, with four agencies, the Department of Interior, the Federal Reserve System, the Securities & Exchange Commission, and HEW, having been asked to explain why they had employed the term "confidential" to restrict circulation of non-defense material, after an executive order of December 15, 1953 had limited use of that classification to defense material. The chairman, Congressman John Moss of California, said that the Department of Interior had informed him that its use of the "confidential" label had been limited to the executive department, while the SEC had said that it used the label on material which the Commission deemed desirable to keep from the public. The Federal Reserve said that it used the term to restrict material intended for internal use, and HEW also used it to keep certain documents from the public.

The National Safety Council estimated that the 1955 traffic death toll would be 38,500, the highest in 14 years, with 34,690 having died in traffic accidents through November. The Associated Press had conducted a survey which showed that 35,785 traffic deaths had taken place. The Council's estimate was based on the December deaths plus those likely to occur during the New Year's weekend. If reached, the death toll would be 5,000 more than the 33,417 American soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen killed during the 37 months of the Korean War. Traffic deaths had totaled 3,680 in November, 10 percent more than the same month the previous year. Safety experts had called the Christmas holiday weekend "Black Christmas" because of the record traffic death toll, amounting to 629, 20 more than originally recorded on the prior Tuesday, after delayed reports of deaths had been received. In addition, 34 of the injured had since died, raising the toll to 663, which would likely increase in days and weeks to come. The previous record for a Christmas holiday, established in 1952 during a four-day weekend, had been 556 fatalities in traffic accidents. That same year, the record for the New Year's weekend had also been established, with 407 having died during the four-day period. Arizona, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin had ordered out the National Guard to cope with the threat of accidents on the highways during the New Year's weekend. The most Christmas weekend traffic casualties had taken place in Texas, where 53 had died, and that state had ordered highway patrolmen to make an arrest "in every moving traffic violation" until January 2.

The Public Health Service announced that more than half of the Salk polio vaccine which had been shipped to private physicians and health departments remained unused, with some accumulation, however, being necessary to prepare for mass inoculation programs and provide a reserve for second shots. Surgeon General Leonard Scheele asked that parents, private physicians and health officers in areas where the vaccine was available to cooperate in use of the supplies as rapidly as possible.

In Anchorage, it was reported that Anchorage and Cordova were in a state of emergency this date as snow continued to pile up in the Alaskan Territory's worst winter storm in 20 years, with 40 inches of snow on the ground and more falling in Anchorage. The mayor of Anchorage called on its 50,000 residents to shut down businesses and remain at home. Abandoned cars blocked city streets and alleys. In Cordova, rain had followed days of heavy snow and a state of emergency was also proclaimed there, where some flooding had taken place and a danger existed that more would follow. The Weather Bureau said that 23.6 inches of snow had fallen in Fairbanks since December 1, the most since 1936.

In North Bay, Ontario, it was reported that three of the surviving four Dionne quintuplets, all four of whom had been reported earlier by their father to have failed to contact their parents even during Christmas, had returned home this date to talk things over with their parents. Their father had suggested that "outsiders" had manipulated the girls, especially after they had reached their 21st birthdays and acquired $250,000 each. Their father said that they were very tired after a long drive, but that he had talked to one of them and had straightened out a few personal matters, which only concerned that particular sister. He said that he and the three sisters would have a long talk about other things later in the day. The one sister who had not made the journey remained in Montréal because she was convalescing from her recent illness. The fifth sister had died in August, 1954. Enquiring minds want to know…

In Charlotte, the Man of the Year for 1955 would be announced the following day, an award established by the newspaper in 1944 to honor the citizen who had rendered outstanding service to the community during the year, selections to be made by those who had previously won the award, with the newspaper not participating in the voting, except in the case of a persistent deadlock.

Also in Charlotte, three children had nearly died when they were cleaning the upholstery inside the family car, overcome by the chemical fumes, and were recovering in the hospital. Their mother, who was inside the home doing housework at the time, did not become alarmed until the children had not returned inside after about an hour, prompting her to look out a window, but seeing them no longer inside the car, believed they had completed the task and had gone to play. About 45 minutes later, she had gone to the car, opened the door and found each of her children on the floor in a dazed condition. The two girls of the three had been treated and released and the boy was kept overnight for observation.

In Salt Lake City, it was reported that State Highway 187, designated "U-187", was only four-tenths of a mile long, the state's shortest designated highway, leading to the state prison. (It does not point out that in California, Penal Code section 187 regards murder.)

In Athens, Greece, Greek couples were being wed in record numbers because it was a leap year the following year, which Greeks considered unlucky for marriage. More than 400 marriages were performed in Athens on the day after Christmas.

In Taylor, Tex., an exponent of black-eyed peas as insurance for good luck when eaten on New Year's Day, had opened up another of 750 letters or postcards he had received on the subject, this one from a sergeant from South Carolina, who agreed, in verse, quoted in the story, with the man's advocacy of consuming black-eyed peas for good luck. The man had opened membership rolls for his National Black-Eyed Pea Association. The story provides various quotes from other letters.

In Ripon, England, the British Army had taken firm action to plug a leak this date in the defense budget, known as "Mrs. Burrell's awning", with the solution having been issuance of an order that on and after New Year's Day, no British Army truck would be driven on the same side of the street as Mrs. Burrell's candy shop. The trouble had begun one day in 1946 when an Army truck, coming down a hill leading to the shop, had swerved over the curb and ripped the awning of Mrs. Burrell's store, the Army paying the equivalent of $75.80 for a new awning. A year or so later, another Army truck, coming down the same hill, had swerved and knocked down the new awning, with the Army paying to replace it again. Sometime later, it happened a third time, after which Mrs. Burrell decided not to unfurl her awning but kept it rolled up all the time. But it had been very hot one day the previous August and the candy in her window was melting into syrup, and so she unrolled her awning, at which point an Army truck struck it for a fourth time, with the cost running to 36 pounds or $100.80 for replacement. Thus, starting on New Year's Day, all British Army trucks were ordered to travel on Coltsgate Hill only in the up direction. Mrs. Burrell, in the meantime, had ordered her fifth awning.

On the editorial page, "The Big Squeeze: Loosened Laces" indicates that Charlotte City Manager Henry Yancey's selection of aid for the elimination of westside railroad grade crossings as the top need for the city in 1956 was particularly appropriate.

And if you wish to read all about why that was, you may certainly do so on your own. It concludes that it could not believe that a community of the progressive nature of Charlotte would permit the slow strangulation of the heart of midtown without exhausting every possible method for the reduction of the traffic squeeze, which would be facilitated by elimination of the railroad grade crossings.

"Congressional Storms? Mostly Thunder" suggests that there was apt to be more sound than substance in the political storms in the upcoming session of Congress, being predicted by Senator Sam Ervin and Representative Charles Jonas, during their interview with News reporter Julian Scheer, as reported the previous day.

It suggests that in a political year, it was true that there would likely be a lot of debate on the primary issues, especially the attempt to woo the farm vote by taking care of the farm price problem, and that there was also political hay to be made in the battle to reduce taxes, build roads and construct school buildings. But, it finds, the great debates would likely be over details rather than principles, as both parties were drawing closer together in legislative practice, blunting the extremes of both parties and giving the majority strength to "moderate" Southern Democrats, in control of both houses.

The President had sought passage of a minimum wage increase, a Democratic platform plank, plus the limited Federal school construction program and a giant highway expansion program, both of which also had been in the Democratic platform in 1952 while not appearing or being opposed in the Republican platform. HEW Secretary Marion Folsom was planning to ask Congress to increase medical research expenditures by between 25 and 30 percent over that which had been proposed by the more conservative Secretary Oveta Culp Hobby, his predecessor. The Democrats had been seeking more expenditure in that field. Senate Majority Leader Lyndon Johnson had proposed a 13-point program and Senator Hubert Humphrey, considered a leader of the liberal Democrats, had endorsed 12 of the points, excepting only to the point regarding elimination of Federal control of natural gas.

As a result, if conservative Republicans objected to the President's coziness with New Deal programs, they had nowhere to go with their objections.

Thus, the issues which would likely dominate the coming session of Congress were more bipartisan than not. Regarding farm prices, the Republicans would likely stand firm for flexible farm supports, while the Democrats would demand renewal of fixed parity at 90 percent. But it was likely also that Republicans would offer more tempting new subsidies than originally suggested by the Democrats. Regarding tax cuts, the Democrats could not advocate cuts which would reduce revenue available for foreign aid and defense programs, which they traditionally had supported.

Thus it finds that the storms to be generated in the Congress the following year were "apt to be gentle to moderate winds to the center, with only occasional gusts."

"The Whittler" tells of the first of a series of cartoons produced by the RNC, titled "Know Your Cabinet", having featured Secretary of State Dulles and described him as a "man of many talents—successful lawyer, senator, fisherman, tree surgeon, swimmer, fire tender, doodler and whittler." It also said that he had logged over 272,000 miles in plane travel.

It suggests that from the cartoon it gleaned that Mr. Dulles, when he got off the plane, cut a sweet gum switch, hitched up a two-horse wagon and whittled his way down Pennsylvania Avenue to tell the President "about the trials of forever fishing and swimming in troubled waters, tending small international fires and carving 'massive retaliation' warnings in the thick forests of professional diplomacy."

"Mr. Eisenhower: A Place in the Sun" tells of the President having followed the sun all the way to Key West, on his doctors' advice that he get outdoors and receive some sunshine, reminding that former President Truman had often taken his respite in Florida, as had former President Hoover and Vice-President Nixon. Former Prime Minister Winston Churchill, during his first period of time after having served in the role during the war, had stopped off in Florida on his way to give his "Iron Curtain" speech in Fulton, Mo., in early 1946. He had said that the Florida climate was the place for tired men to go, finding it "salubrious", and it finds it so particularly for men like the President, who had perhaps not made his decision on whether to run again.

It thus suggests it as a good thing that the President was taking the retreat in Florida and hopes that he would be able to take full advantage of its "salubrity".

A piece from the Greensboro Daily News, titled "Out of a Can", finds increased incidence of serving canned cranberry sauce across the state around Thanksgiving, suggests that every admirer of edible food ought do everything possible to halt the "depraved practice" before another holiday would occur without sufficient homemade sauce.

While it was more trouble to begin with the raw cranberries, the result was something other than the taste of preservative and can-lingering oxides. It posits that the lover of cranberry sauce or jelly could taste the difference between New Jersey and Massachusetts cranberries, and on a good day, impart whether they were picked in the morning or evening or by man or woman. "The cranberry, after all, tastes, and the delicate bitterness which is one of its charms only intensifies the attack upon the turkey and everything else in sight."

But the canned form, it finds, though having a pleasant enough flavor, did not possess the characteristic bouquet, which was gone with the impurities. It compares the canned variety to canned peaches versus fresh peaches from a tree.

It concludes that canned cranberries represented one of the "terminal signs of the passage of a proud, hungry and properly fed people."

Drew Pearson tells of Dr. Paul White, the Boston heart specialist who had been seeing the President periodically since his September 24 heart attack, having made the statement, in response to a recent question, that a person who suffered a heart attack was not, in the "majority" of cases he had seen, likely to have a second one. That statement, however, was completely contradictory to a study which Dr. White and Dr. Edward Bland had conducted in 1941, publishing the results in the Journal of the American Medical Association, volume 117, page 1171, which had stated that of the 162 patients studied, 112, or 69 percent, had died during the decade following acute thrombosis, and that 50, or 31 percent, had survived that time period. They had found that of the 162 patients who had survived their first heart attacks, 30 had died within one year and 74, within four years. Of the 55 patients who had completely recovered, 24 had died within a decade, 18 from coronary insufficiency.

Doctors had pointed out that the study had been completed in 1941 and dealt with cases which were more serious than the average or they probably would not have sought the medical attention of Dr. White, and thus, at present, life expectancy on average should be longer.

Nevertheless, suggests Mr. Pearson, the contradiction with the statement made by Dr. White recently had led some to believe that he was not being entirely frank with the public.

Attorney General Herbert Brownell had been investigating James Finnegan of Philadelphia, the campaign manager for Adlai Stevenson, for alleged use of veterans to purchase war surplus goods during the postwar period, when Mr. Finnegan had formed a corporation, including veterans, to purchase the surplus property through use of the veterans' preference in such purchases. Mr. Brownell, at one point, had considered bringing an indictment but had concluded that Mr. Finnegan had been within the law and could not be prosecuted, as the veterans he used were members of his corporation and shared in the profits. But the Attorney General was planning publicly to criticize Mr. Finnegan, though not planning to prosecute him.

Doris Fleeson tells of Atomic Energy Commission chairman Lewis Strauss likely soon to seek from Congress the establishment of a Cabinet-level position for the AEC chairman, establishing the Commission as a new department, to do away with the troubles experienced by the Commission vis-à-vis the oversight provided by the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy, chaired by Senator Clinton Anderson of New Mexico. Observers believed that Admiral Strauss, during his pre-Christmas "social" visit with the President in Gettysburg, had made such a proposal and that he had urged that he be named the new secretary of the new department.

There was no sign that Senator Anderson and the Committee, however, would offer to cede its authority over the Commission. In fact, Senator Anderson had let it be known that he was not preparing an aggressive defense of the Government against the claims of the Dixon-Yates combine for reimbursement of its costs incurred in the project, since canceled by the Government. There would, as a result, be additional hearings soon in which Admiral Strauss would again be placed on the defensive.

Ms. Fleeson recounts that early in his tenure, the Admiral had asked the Committee to designate the chairman as the principal officer of the Commission on the basis that he would not have additional powers but that it would facilitate business before the Commission, but the Committee had refused.

She recounts that when Oscar Ewing, during the Truman Administration, had run afoul of the AMA while head of the Federal Security Agency by proposing a medical aid program, which the AMA labeled as socialized medicine, he was completely blocked in the effort and when he proposed a Cabinet-level department of health, education and welfare, that was also torpedoed. But under the Eisenhower Administration, a Republican Congress had passed the President's recommendation to create such a Department, and it had been established with Oveta Culp Hobby having been its first Secretary, despite the fact that she had no particular expertise in the field of health, education and welfare, having gained the confidence of the President when she had been WAC commander during World War II.

Inez Robb, syndicated columnist, tells of more than 600 lives having been lost during the Christmas three-day weekend, lasting 78 hours, and that the National Safety Council was predicting another record being established for the New Year's holiday weekend.

She suggests that with the preoccupation of the country with setting bigger and better records in everything, it was not surprising that records were also being set for the death toll on holidays, and that it would not be surprising if the Council's prediction were to come true, especially when alcohol would be added to the mix on New Year's Eve.

She indicates that such days caused her to think more admiringly than ever regarding the practice in Scandinavian countries, where a driver with more than the alcoholic content of one highball in his or her system would receive jail time of from three weeks to six months. "It may be dull, but better dull than dead."

"You may complain that my screed is no cheerful little earful. But I didn't intend that it should be. I hope that it may scare even one motorist into saving the life that is his own. But I doubt it. But for those of us who do manage to survive into 1956, Happy New Year and throttle down."

A letter writer wonders why medical science could not do something about high blood pressure, indicating that she had been under the care of different doctors for 20 years for the condition, that sometimes she was at the stroke stage before she could get to the doctor, and believed that she would likely die of a coronary or stroke, that her husband had died of a coronary six months earlier and that he had also suffered from high blood pressure. She says that doctors were treating her with the "new India drug" which helped a lot, but that her blood pressure would not stay down. She was unable to keep an eight-hour job and was only 42 years old, imparting that her medicine cost a lot and she had to take it indefinitely if she was to survive. She urges medical researchers to get busy.

A letter writer indicates that the employment of a new smoke engineer would cost more than only the stated salary of $7,500 per year, that with various equipment and support personnel, it would run to $20,000 in the end, which he itemizes. And, posits the letter writer, the cost would result in no improvement, as nothing could or would be done, as no man could control the smog. Citizens would ignore the advice of reducing fires to eliminate smoke from chimneys, and cars and trucks would continue to roll through the city, producing exhaust, especially bad on foggy days.

A letter writer responds to a letter which had been published on December 21, which he regarded as a "degradation to the white race" and wanted to apologize for it. He believes it a slander of black people to suggest that they were dying of starvation without aid from members of their own race, asking how many Caucasians died every day from neglect of other white people. He says that such arguments should not be based on Scripture, that every verse was subject to personal interpretation and should not be interpreted out of context. He finds the previous writer's efforts to suggest that there should be racial purity and restriction of the races to their original habitation, as further exegeticized in a previous letter the same writer had written, to be illogical and amount to nothing, that the writer should have reasoned some of his points out before putting them down in print. He expresses certainty that blacks disliked such letters, especially those written in a degrading manner.

Sixth Day of Christmas: Six trips in Ripon, two to come, rolling down the hill.

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