The Charlotte News

Saturday, December 31, 1955


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that Soviet Premier Nikolai Bulganin this date said that possession of hydrogen bombs by both East and West was not a complete deterrent against future wars, and that another Big Four summit conference could prove fruitful. He made his statements in response to questions by the head of the Washington Bureau of the Telenews Agency, Charles Shutt. The interview had been broadcast by the Moscow Radio and Telenews, affiliated with Hearst Metrotone News, which furnished newsreel film to television stations. Mr. Bulganin adhered to the spirit of the Big Four summit conference of the previous July, despite Russia having accused the Western Big Three on various occasions since of violating its spirit of cooperation. The West had said that the anti-Western speeches made by Mr. Bulganin and Russian Communist Party Secretary Nikita Khrushchev, during their recent South Asian tour, had violated the Geneva spirit. Mr. Bulganin said that he believed international cooperation and trust were fully attainable within the present time. He also issued Americans cordial greetings and best wishes for the New Year.

In Taipei, Formosa, Chiang Kai-shek said this date, in a New Year's message, that the time was nearing for the people of Communist China to "rise against the Communist traitors in a mighty revolution," and that the time for the Nationalist counterattack against the mainland was also drawing nearer. The Communists had again been shelling the Nationalist-held offshore islands recently, hitting Quemoy the previous night and early this date, according to the official central news agency in Formosa, the fifth consecutive day of bombardment of that island.

In Paris, it was reported that bitter political battling over charges of atrocities in Algeria had brought the French election campaign to a heated close this date, with voters to cast their ballots on a new National Assembly the following Monday. Premier Edgar Faure the previous night had condemned the "murderous act" of a French gendarme who had shot down an apparently unarmed Algerian prisoner the previous August. But his Government had backed down on earlier charges that a cameraman for an American newsreel company, George Chassagne, of Fox Movietone News, had bribed the gendarme to do the shooting so that he could take the pictures, a charge which M. Chassagne also denied. Premier Faure said that the shooting was "contrary to all regulations and all instructions" for coping with the rebellious nationalist extremists in Algeria, but added that it was deplorable that the incident should have been used for last-minute political exploitation in the campaigns. He said that the incident had not been brought to official attention at the top Government level earlier and promised to pursue the matter on Monday. Pictures of the shooting had been widely publicized for the first time in France the previous Thursday in a Paris daily newspaper, which supported former Premier Pierre Mendes-France in his bid for a political comeback in the Monday elections. The latter had based his campaign on the 14-month old nationalist rebellion in Algeria, charging that the strife there had to be halted by agreement, such as that made in Tunisia, or it could turn into another defeat as that suffered by France in Indo-China in 1954. Publication of the pictures of the shooting had produced the most dramatic development in the election campaign. The Interior Ministry had charged on the prior Thursday that the French cameraman, also an Algerian correspondent for the newsreel company, had bribed the gendarme to get the picture. The cameraman called the claim "scandalous accusations against my company and myself." He said that he had never seen the gendarme before, had not seen him since, and certainly had never bribed him. The Interior Ministry had said that there was no evidence to back the earlier charge of bribery. An authorized source for the office of Premier Faure, also head of the Interior Ministry, had said early this date that the bribery accusation did not appear to be corroborated by an investigation still in progress.

A story out of Washington indicates that the "Big Four" on Capitol Hill during the coming session of Congress, to begin the following Tuesday, would be House Speaker Sam Rayburn, 73, who had been Speaker, at separate times, for a total of 11 years, longer than any other person; Senate Majority Leader Lyndon Johnson, 47, Democratic leader, the youngest person ever to have been selected as a Senate party leader three years earlier; Joseph Martin of Massachusetts, 71, the Republican House leader, who had served in that position for 17 years, four of which as Speaker; and Senator William Knowland of California, 47, who had become Republican leader in the Senate in 1953 following the death of Senator Robert Taft, making him the youngest Majority Leader at the time in history. The Democrats held both houses by slim margins, while the Republicans had the executive branch, with an election year coming up. Mr. Rayburn had supported the Democratic program ever since he had entered Congress during the first Administration of Woodrow Wilson in 1913. Mr. Martin had been a member of the House since 1925, during the Administration of Calvin Coolidge, and had been a Republican stalwart long before that time. Senator Johnson, who had suffered a heart attack the prior July 4, was expected to slow down his strenuous pace at which he had driven himself as Senate leader previously. Senator Knowland's biggest difficulty could stem from his evident intent to run for the presidency, should President Eisenhower decide not to run again. He had made no secret of his differences with the President regarding foreign policy and might, should he actively run for the presidency, wind up having to support part of the President's program in Congress while criticizing it on the campaign trail. The Democrats faced the problem of being out of power in the executive branch and having no clear leader until the Democratic convention the following August, yet having the responsibility in Congress to set the tone on party policy.

James Kutcher, a veteran of World War II, who had lost both of his legs in combat, was in Washington, following a Veterans Administration hearing the previous day to determine whether he should lose his veterans benefits because of his allegedly disloyal activities. His benefits, which amounted to $329 per month, were being adjudicated by the VA's Committee on Waivers and Forfeitures, which said that it would reach a decision the following week or later. Any adverse decision would be appealable to an administrative appeals board, and eventually into the Federal courts if necessary. Mr. Kutcher had lost his legs while under German mortar fire. He had made no secret of his present and past membership in the Socialist Workers Party, an organization on the Attorney General's subversive list.

The Senate issued a report charging that Harvey Matusow had lied when he recanted, in his Senate testimony the previous spring, his prior trial testimony and previous Congressional statements against 244 persons, and that "Communist conspirators" had paid him to do so. The subcommittee who took the testimony issued the report, calling his reversal an "apparent conspiracy to obstruct justice," demanding that he be prosecuted further, along with others, on conspiracy charges. Senator Thomas Hennings of Missouri, a member of the subcommittee, said that the report contained a number of basic matters and conclusions with which he took exception, which he said he would specify in a separate statement. Mr. Matusow was presently appealing a previous conviction for contempt stemming from the recanting of his prior testimony.

In San Francisco, it was reported that levees were being kept under around-the-clock surveillance this date, as light rain and snow fell over the flood and storm-battered areas of northern California, with no imminent danger in sight of further flooding. Flood waters continued to recede, with the death toll having mounted to 52 from the flooding of the previous week, especially concentrated around neighboring Yuba City and Marysville. Ellsworth Bunker, president of the American Red Cross, future Ambassador to South Vietnam under Presidents Johnson and Nixon, had flown to Humboldt County on the Oregon border this date to inspect flood-ravaged communities in the area. Mr. Bunker said that the Red Cross presently had 232 trained staff members in the flooded areas, in addition to local chapter volunteers. The bodies of three additional flood victims had been found the previous day near Yuba City. The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta remained a danger spot, as gusty winds and high tides combined with runoffs of swollen streams to place pressure on the levees.

In the early hours of the New Year weekend, traffic fatalities were about 50 percent below the heavy, record-breaking toll at the same stage of the Christmas holiday a week earlier. Early reports indicated that at least 20 persons had been killed in automobile accidents since the start of the 78-hour weekend at 6:00 the previous evening. The National Safety Council estimated that by the end of the long weekend, at midnight Monday, 420 persons would have been killed in motor vehicle accidents, which would establish a record for the New Year holiday period, surpassing that established during the four-day New Year holiday in 1952-53. Drastic traffic law enforcement had been ordered by officials in several states, with the National Guard having been ordered to action to assist in the process in Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan and Arizona. Planes were being used in Illinois and Louisiana to monitor highways, and extra police had been ordered onto duty in many cities. Generally dry weather appeared in prospect for most areas during the weekend. With fewer motorists generally on the highways during the New Year holiday period, there were generally fewer deaths and injuries than during the Christmas holiday. The previous year, there had been 296 traffic fatalities during the two-day New Year weekend.

In North Bay, Ontario, the Dionne quintuplets and their parents said that there was a misunderstanding between them, which had now been ironed out, with three of the four surviving sisters having driven to their home the previous day to see their parents, after their father had said to the press earlier that they had been "drifting away" and had not been in contact with the family at Christmas, even by Christmas card, also stating that "outsiders" had been the source of the trouble, especially since the sisters had come into their majority and received their inheritance of $250,000 each. The father said that they all understood each other better at present. Each of the three sisters who had come home said that they agreed with their father's statement. One of the sisters had died in 1954 and another was recuperating from an illness in a hospital in Montréal and could not make the trip. Glad that was resolved.

In Burlington, Wisc., the annual Liars' Club had met and given its top award for the year to a man from Montana, who had told of a sheep herder who lived in a small trailer house and had his provisions brought by the owner of the sheep, that on a particular occasion, the provisions had included a 100-pound sack of flour for which there was no room in the trailer, prompting the herder to drive a couple of stout nails into the wall and hang the sack of flour on them, just outside the trailer door, whereupon, during the night, one of Montana's "justly famous winds" had swooped down on him, such that the next morning, the sheep herder stepped out of his trailer to find that the wind had blown away the sack and left the flour hanging on the nails. A Canadian had won one of three honorable mention awards for his story that, recently, a friend of his had asked him about the height of the big pool grain elevator in their hometown, and he had told him that he did not know how high it was, but did know of a carpenter who dropped his hammer while working on the roof, and when he had gone down to retrieve it, found that the handle had rotted off while it was falling. Another honorable mention went to a man in Portland, Ore., telling of his native Kentucky, that when returning home after being gone for 50 years, he had wanted to lay a wreath on the graves of his departed relatives, but to his surprise, when he reached the cemetery, saw nothing but holes where the graves had been, then having inquired from an ancient relative if they had moved the corpses, received the reply that they had not, rather having buried a "revenooer" in the cemetery by mistake, at which point, all of the bodies had gotten up and walked off.

In Charlotte, lawyer J. Spencer Bell had been voted Man of the Year by the listed living previous recipients of the award since it had been established in 1944, sponsored by The News, with Mr. Bell's attributes provided by an editorial below.

On the editorial page, "J. Spencer Bell: Man of the Year" tells of Mr. Bell being a leader in the bar, and city planning, social planning and other civic enterprises. He had been chairman of the City-County Planning Commission, getting the City Council in that capacity to pass many forward-looking measures. He had also been president of the Social Planning Council, responsible in that capacity for the recommendation that a wing of Charlotte Memorial Hospital be built to accommodate black patients. He had been one of the guiding lights in the United Appeal effort, as well as other civic projects. He also had a good practice and a fine reputation among his compatriots in the bar.

He had been a distinguished member of a first-rate graduating class of the UNC Law School and was remembered warmly by his professors and contemporaries. He had volunteered for service in World War II, despite being 36 years old at the time, and had established a brilliant military record. He was a gentleman, at ease in any company, at home with any group, was a clever and articulate conversationalist, conversant in many subjects.

It concludes that Charlotte could be proud of its new Man of the Year and of the committee which had selected him, comprised of former winners of that award, one sponsored by The News.

Not intending any disrespect for Mr. Bell, we shall await a year in which the newspaper contradicts the selection and calls the selectee a scoundrel of ill repute and bad manners, that Mr. Robinson, the publisher, and all of the prior selectees were out to lunch. That would be news...

"Things Weren't as Bad as All That" indicates that some writers for upper-middlebrow journals were trying to suggest that 1955 had been an artistic flop regarding truly distinctive books, movies and plays, with one critic using the adjective "appalling" to describe it.

While it defers judgment on Broadway, as it says it was too far from it to provide a sound opinion on the subject of American theater, it was exposed locally to books and movies, and finds "many a rose among the thorns" during the previous year, even though accompanied by much which was "tedious or tawdry", yet no worse than 1954 and much better than some other recent postwar years.

It finds no lament regarding movies in a year which produced "Marty", based on a story by Paddy Chayefsky—which would dominate the 1956 Academy Awards, including Best Picture—, or "Mister Roberts", a study of the tension and tedium of a Navy supply ship during World War II. It also found great merit in "East of Eden", the film version of John Steinbeck's novel, which had introduced James Dean to motion pictures; "Summertime", a romance set in Venice; "Guys and Dolls", notable for its music and dancing, in a musical based on crap games; "The Phenix City Story", a low-budget, realistic study of one of the South's wickedest cities, located in Alabama just across the border from Georgia's Fort Benning and thus a popular gambling and prostitution attractive nuisance for soldiers; "The Sheep Has Five Legs", a French import, starring Fernandel; "The Seven Year Itch", "sophisticated comedy"; "A Man Called Peter", the inspiring film biography of Peter Marshall; "Gate of Hell", a Japanese period piece on the Samurai, which had won the 1955 Best Foreign Film Academy Award; and "Bad Day at Black Rock", which explored modern-day prejudice against Japanese-Americans following World War II, all of which had been shown in theaters in Charlotte.

It suggests that there might be others it had overlooked, which had not yet appeared in Charlotte, notably "The Rose Tattoo", with Anna Magnani, "The Prisoner", starring Alec Guinness, "Umberto D", from Italy, directed by Vittorio De Sica, and "Diabolique", from France, directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot.

It omits from its list of worthwhile films of the year, because it had not been released yet in the U.S., "Richard III", with Laurence Olivier in one of his more memorable roles. The film was released in England on December 13, and its U.S. release would be on March 11, 1956, on the same day an edited version was presented on television, not aired in Charlotte but in Winston-Salem and Greenville, S.C., and so capable of being received by those with a sufficient rotary antenna on the roof, albeit not probably by those only with rabbit ears, the groundlings in the cheap seats, accustomed to dumb-shows, wondering through the course of airing whether reception was to be or not—especially productive of consternation when, as a small child, you were accustomed to rotary, until, suddenly one day plucked, as if from your mother's nipple, and dashed to a place where rooftop antennae were banned for the noise of the trip-trip-trip being disturbing to adjoining neighbors in the Village, thus consigned first to the rabbit, then, upon willing ingenuity, to the bicycle rim cast atop a lead-pipe cinch, capable of being turned manually, even if incurring the ridicule a'times of neighborhood children aghast at the contravention of ordinary custom. It won the British Film Award for Best Film of 1955 shortly before its U.S. release.

It finds among notable books for the year to have been Confessions of Felix Krull, by Thomas Mann, Waterfront, by Budd Schulberg, Sincerely, Willis Wayde, by John P. Marquand, Band of Angels, by Robert Penn Warren, Andersonville, by MacKinlay Kantor, Not Honour More, by Joyce Cary, Officers and Gentlemen, by Evelyn Waugh, Marjorie Morningstar, by Herman Wouk, Heritage, by Anthony West, Inside Africa, by John Gunther, and the Collected Poems of both Edith Sitwell and Robert Graves.

It also recognizes books of short stories as having contained exceptional literary offerings, such as "The Black Prince", by Shirley Ann Grau, and "A Good Man Is Hard to Find", by Flannery O'Connor, both Southerners.

It rates as other books worth mentioning Anne Morrow Lindbergh's Gift from the Sea, Harry Truman's Year of Decisions, Patrick White's The Tree of Man, Rumer Godden's An Episode of Sparrows, Françoise Sagan's Bonjour Tristesse, Sloan Wilson's The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit, and Louis Kronenberger's The Republic of Letters.

It concludes that after the critics observed the literary and cinematic efforts coming in 1956, they would likely regard it as "classic and felicitous irony that a single tear was shed over the 1955 crop."

Query which of the above works apparently had been read by a certain sewer worker, with some gleanings along the way of Othello, a particularly literate sewer worker, despite all the crap. Answering correctly will merit you five extra-credit points on the exam on the above multimedia course syllabus, come midterms next spring. The first written book report is due February 1, your choice of works, no limit on words, only how they are employed with proper semantic constructs so as to be intelligible to semi-literate readers.

Drew Pearson indicates that the tragic fact about the floods recently in California was that most of them could have been prevented, with the reason for them having gone back to the long battle waged during the Roosevelt, Truman, and now the Eisenhower Administrations regarding public power, as flood control dams could not be built economically without harnessing the hydroelectric power which they produced, something which the private utility lobby had fought bitterly, sometimes successfully defeating flood control projects which would have resulted in more public power, the basic battle behind the now-canceled Dixon-Yates contract. The same dispute had defeated the TVA flood-control plan voted for New England in 1936, and a similar plan for eastern Pennsylvania.

Instead of "creeping socialism", those areas had wound up with floods, evacuated cities, washed-out railroads, and in California and Oregon during the Christmas season, a total of 43 dead and 150 million dollars in damage—that death toll having since been increased to 52, as told on the front page this date.

The utility which had primarily fought flood control dams in northern California had been Pacific Gas & Electric, whose president, James Black, had been a star guest at President Eisenhower's famous stag dinners. His influence in blocking reclamation legislation had begun, however, long before the Eisenhower Administration.

Regarding the Feather River, where the worst of the flooding had hit Yuba City and nearby Marysville in California, as one of the major tributaries of the Sacramento River, Oscar Chapman, Secretary of the Interior under President Truman, had proposed the Oroville Dam, only to have PG&E object. After much maneuvering, the State of California had taken over building of that project in 1950, but the dam had still not yet been built or even started. California had appropriated ten million dollars for its start, part of which had been spent, but ground had not even been broken for it. PG&E, meanwhile, had built a "run-of-the-river" dam on the Feather River, with no hydroelectric storage capability, merely generating power, and not big enough to hold back flood waters.

The Shasta Reservoir, a dam built by the Federal Government under President Truman, had held back the Christmas torrents of rain and prevented flooding. It was the product of the pioneering work of Harold Ickes, former Secretary of the Interior under President Roosevelt, who had resigned from the Truman Administration in 1946. And there had been no major floods from Redding to Sacramento on the Sacramento River as a result. Only the side tributaries of the Sacramento, the Yuba and the Feather, flowing below the Shasta Dam, had produced the flood damage.

Regarding the Trinity River, a dam and tunnel had been proposed to take water out of the Trinity, which flowed into the Klamath River, and pipe it to the Keswick Reservoir to relieve the frequently swollen Klamath, which would have prevented flooding. But because the 15-foot drop, as water rushed through the tunnel, would have generated public power, PG&E had objected to it, and so it had not been built.

Walter Lippmann indicates that it appeared that there would be no revision of Administration policy to challenge the new Soviet effort to woo South Asia, with the debate during the ensuing few months centering on what the Administration wanted Congress to authorize for foreign aid.

Following the Cabinet and Security Council meetings at Camp David and the White House meetings with Congressional leaders recently, it had been stated that the Administration did not plan to spend much more money the following year on foreign aid than had been budgeted for the current fiscal year, with that statement only having been a half-truth. Congress, however, was under the assumption that a gradual reduction of foreign aid was taking place such that when the current authorizations ran out, foreign aid would end. Thus, Congress was surprised and annoyed when, a few days after those meetings, it became apparent that the Administration, while not asking for more money for the current year than the last, would be seeking additional spending at about the same rate for an indefinite number of years to come.

Mr. Lippmann wonders why the Congressional leaders had allowed themselves to believe the half-truth and assume that foreign aid was coming to an end, as they apparently approved the commitments to aid the arming of West Germany and Japan, and subsidization of the South Korean Army, the Formosan Army, the South Vietnamese Army, and underwriting with American funding and arms the SEATO pact in Southeast Asia and the METO pact, otherwise known as the Baghdad pact, in the Middle East, with those commitments obviously requiring continued foreign military aid.

He also wonders why no one at the White House briefing had asked the briefer how the Administration planned to finance the military pacts. The real question before the ensuing session of Congress would be how to continue the pacts or whether to dismantle some part of them. That discussion had to remain separate from the issue of economic aid to meet the Soviet challenge of economic aid.

Mr. Lippmann opines that a large program of economic aid, combined with maintenance of the existing military pacts, was unworkable, as those who believed in the military aid did not believe in the economic program and would not be interested in administering it. The military policy, as now being practiced, was incompatible with the type of constructive economic aid which so many believed was necessary to meet the Soviet threat. He suggests that the basic problem with the military program in South Asia and the Middle East was that it had led to entangling alliances, that the U.S. had declared that it would support those nations which openly declared their opposition to the Soviets and the Chinese Communists, but the military alliances established with the small Asian nations had been regarded in Southern Asia as political intervention into the disputes within that area, entangling the U.S. within those disputes, producing suspicion and dislike of the U.S. within the countries which bordered those nations being aided militarily.

For instance, by arming Pakistan, the U.S. had incurred the suspicion of India and Afghanistan, enabling Soviet Premier Nikolai Bulganin and Communist Party Secretary Nikita Khrushchev to declare during their recent trip to India that they sided with India and Afghanistan in those countries' disputes with Pakistan. But by turn of the coin, Pakistan, alarmed at the fact that its two neighbors were now backed by the Soviets, was complaining to the U.S. that it was not backing Pakistan fully in its disputes or giving it enough military aid. Thus, the meddling had alienated all three countries. Mr. Lippmann suggests that it was the type of entangled alliances, as the first rule of statesmanship, which should be avoided.

He indicates that he did not know anything about Nelson Rockefeller's recent resignation from the Administration, except what he had read in the newspapers, that Mr. Rockefeller was resigning to attend to the family business. He states, however, that he would venture that unless something radical were done about the entangled military alliances, no program of economic aid could effectively counter the Soviet incursion into Southern Asia, that the entanglement by giving aid to Pakistan was, alone, greater than what could be done in repairing the damage with more economic aid.

The pacts in South Asia formed by Secretary of State Dulles were often said to lack "teeth", a valid complaint as against Russia and China, but they did possess sufficient teeth to make neighbors in the region fear the U.S., rather than Russia. He ventures that as long as those pacts were the core of the South Asian policy, there would be no prospect of the U.S. being able to conceive and execute successfully an imaginative and constructive economic program for that region. It would have to apply to the whole economic area and have the cooperation of each separate nation within the area, one of the secrets of the success of the Marshall Plan in rebuilding Western Europe. It had brought "not a sword but peace" through unified and not divided alliances. He concludes that the same fundamental principles applied to South Asia, where through the diplomatic errors of the U.S., the Soviets had been able to take up the banner of peace.

All of which underscores the fact, as understood by all who have a thorough and detailed understanding of the history of the postwar era, that the Vietnam War was not truly the war of President Johnson, but rather of the Eisenhower-Nixon Administration, which is where the policies were formulated which eventually caused it to erupt into open fighting. Those who blame President Johnson for it are shortsighted idiots who know little or nothing about history. He had little or no choice in the matter by the time of the Gulf of Tonkin incident in August, 1964, unless he wanted to be regarded as a gutless wonder, not only within the U.S., but on the world stage, which could have been quite disastrous given the teetering state of world politics, with the prospect of nuclear exchange still very much in the forefront of potentiality.

A letter writer from Rock Hill, S.C., suggests that people whom others hated weighed heavier on people's minds than those whom they loved. He finds that social equality could not be realized in current times and that, therefore, equalization of economic opportunity ought be the immediate goal. "Better to give little to charity from honestly earned income than to give vast wealth gained through injustice. The wise man who gives of himself to public affairs gives stability to his community but the man who says, 'What have the problems of the city to do with me?' overthrows the country."

A letter writer responds to a previous writer, indicating that by having said that the black person was already equal or superior to the white, the writer had stated "a Negro idea", that she, as a white Southerner, had been reared to believe that she and other whites were superior to blacks. She says that if a person kept down in a ditch wanted to get out of it, they could find a way, that blacks never had or never would be equal to whites. They could not force their way into the society and schools where they did not belong and were only "making their life harder by biting the hand that feeds them." She says she would never allow a black person to enter her house except by the back door or would associate with them in any way, that she had met a few blacks who were nice, but they respected white people. She favors what had been done in another Southern state, that everyone who employed a black person should fire them unless they agreed to segregation—apparently referring to what had occurred in the wake of the Montgomery bus boycott in Alabama. She says that following the Civil War, the "smart Negroes stayed with their owners while most that left went homeless and hungry and haven't tried to accomplish anything simply because they didn't want to. And regardless of the opportunities given the average Negro they will remain the same, always depending on the white people." And she goes on, concluding, "A Negro has always been an inferior race and to me they shall remain that."

She was obviously conceiving a superior New Year's wish for the community, and, later on, would likely go outside and howl at the moon some.

Anyway, despite that crabby last letter of 1955, similar in tone and tenor to the last letter of Christmas Eve, Happy New Year to all and to all a good night.

Seventh Day of Christmas: Seven itching swimmers jumping off a cliff.

Eighth Day of Christmas: Eight grooming witches bumping all adrift.

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.