The Charlotte News

Monday, February 14, 1955


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports from Taipeh that Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek had expressed at a press conference this date his determination to hold the rest of the Chinese Nationalist offshore islands, making it plain that he expected the U.S. to help him fight for them should the Chinese Communists launch an attack. He said that in no case would he abandon the outpost islands of Quemoy and Matsu, 4 to 5 miles from the Chinese mainland, saying that the defense of those islands was "essential to the defense" of Formosa and the Pescadores, as "should have become an opinion generally accepted by qualified military experts". He held the press conference in the wake of a Communist Chinese radio announcement that they had "liberated" the Tachen Islands off the mainland coast, which had been evacuated by the Nationalists the previous week with the aid and protection of the U.S. Seventh Fleet. The Communists boasted that they had placed their soldiers "on vantage ground for liberating Taiwan and other islands off the China coast." Contrary to some reports, the Nationalist Chinese Defense Ministry had announced that it had no intention of evacuating Nanchishan, another outpost island 23 miles from the mainland and 140 miles north of Formosa, the remaining principal northern Nationalist outpost, saying that a small number of dependents and civilians had been evacuated from it, but that no troops would be withdrawn. It was the largest press conference held by Chiang since the Nationalists had fled the mainland for Formosa in 1949, and he provided written responses to seven questions submitted by journalists.

On Sunday morning, the Communist Chinese had shelled Quemoy, in the wake of the completion of the evacuation of the Tachens.

At the U.N. in New York, Russia's delegate declared to the Security Council this date that no useful purpose would be served by discussion of a cease-fire on the coastal islands in the Formosa Strait, that a bigger question had to be considered, that of lessening tension. He voted against placing on the agenda of the Council a New Zealand proposal to seek a cease-fire, but the Council overrode the objection and agreed by a vote of 9 to 1 to inscribe the question, with Nationalist China abstaining. Since the matter was procedural in nature, it was not subject to a Big Five unilateral veto. The Council also agreed to consider a Soviet charge of U.S. aggression against Communist China, and its demand for withdrawal of U.S. forces from Formosa. U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr., called the latter item "a preposterous cold war fraud without the slightest basis of fact." The Council also rejected Soviet demands for the ouster of Nationalist China and refused to give the Soviet charges against the U.S. priority, taking up the New Zealand cease-fire proposal first. Observers regarded any such resolution, however, without the concurrence of the Communist Chinese, who had been invited to participate in the debate but had refused, to have the force only of a moral censure.

In Paris, it was reported that Pierre Pflimin had abandoned his efforts to form the 21st postwar government of France this date, and President René Coty asked Christian Pineau, a right-wing Socialist, to attempt to form a government, the latter indicating that he would decide whether to do so after conferring with his political associates. Should he decline, and observers considered it likely that he would, it was believed that former Premier René Mayer would be the next choice of the President. The latter's split with Premier Pierre Mendes-France, both leaders of the Radical Socialist moderate party, had led to the no-confidence vote for the Premier's Government on February 5, and the resulting resignation of the Premier and his Cabinet. Former Premier Antoine Pinay, a conservative, had already tried and failed to form a government.

In Houston, former House Speaker Joseph Martin of Massachusetts, now the House Minority Leader, speaking the previous day at a press conference held at the mansion of oilman-philanthropist Hugh Cullen, predicted that Congress would approve of three major proposals submitted by the President, the previously defeated health reinsurance bill, a three-year extension of the Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act, extended by a year by the previous Congress, and loans for school construction.

In Birmingham, Alabama, Arch Ferrell and Albert Fuller were called to trial this date for the murder of A. L. Patterson, who had been assassinated the prior June in Phenix City after having won the Democratic primary and thus assured of election after running on a platform of cleaning up corruption in Phenix City, just across the border from Fort Benning, Ga., and thus a haven for vice, including prostitution and gambling, seeking to attract the soldiers. The State had not decided which defendant would be tried first, Mr. Ferrell having been a former prosecuting attorney during the heyday of vice in Phenix City, and Mr. Fuller, having been the chief deputy sheriff in the town. Both defendants proclaimed their innocence of the murder charge. Former State Attorney General Si Garrett had also been indicted for murder in the case but was not called for trial this date, as he was undergoing mental treatment in Galveston, Tex. The son of Mr. Patterson, John, had been elected Attorney General the prior November, having been placed on the ballot in place of his father, and would eventually go on in 1958 to defeat George Wallace for the gubernatorial nomination, serving as Governor between 1959 and 1963.

In Atlanta, the first crews of about 600 idle Southern Railway operating employees returned to work during the morning shift this date, ending a four-day walkout which had begun in Knoxville, where about 1,000 workers also returned to work. The walkout had spread to Birmingham, Chattanooga and Asheville, with the Birmingham workers having returned to the job the prior Friday. Freight and passenger operations were back to normal during the morning, as there had been no disruption of services because supervisory personnel had handled the traffic. The president of the Atlanta local of the Brotherhood of Railway Trainmen said that workers had been promised that there would be no reprisals for the walkout. A settlement of the dispute had been reached during the weekend, and a mass meeting of the strikers in Knoxville had voted overwhelmingly the previous night to return to work.

In Tyler, Tex., a fireball with a weird green light, casting a fiery glow over three men in an airport control tower, had flashed like a "huge electric arc" across the East Texas piney woods the previous night, apparently having been a meteor, with unconfirmed reports stating that it had exploded or hit the ground, albeit without any evidence of it having been discovered. The Weather Bureau at Dallas had received reports that it had been observed as far away as Jackson, Miss., to the east and Mineral Wells in West Texas. There were no reports of injuries or damage.

Emery Wister of The News reports that the body of Abigail Adams, 37, actress and former fiancée of comedian George Jessel, would be buried in Charlotte. She had been discovered dead in bed in her Beverly Hills apartment early the previous day, and police said that it had apparently been a suicide caused by an overdose of sleeping pills. She had appeared in a number of movies and had been on stage in New York and Chicago, as well as having made several television appearances. In January, 1949, she had been an honored guest of the annual convention of the Motion Picture Theater Owners of North and South Carolina, and had appeared on a "homecoming" program which honored a number of natives of the Carolinas in motion pictures, with actor Sidney Blackmer of Salisbury having been among those present. Mr. Jessel said that he had taken her to the horse races at Santa Anita the previous Friday and that she had been in "wonderful spirits". He had found it a "shocking thing" when apprised of her death, adding that he was to have taken her to dinner the previous night. He had been engaged to her eight years earlier. Ms. Adams had previously been married to actor Lyle Talbot, from whom she was divorced in 1942. Her grandparents lived in Charlotte and she was a native of Greenville, S.C.

The principal mass of frigid air which had blanketed much of the nation the previous week and had threatened disaster to the Florida citrus and winter vegetable crops, had moved eastward over the Atlantic this date, bringing temperature increases, though leaving behind two pockets of zero or below weather, one in the Mississippi Valley and the other in an area from northern Maine to central Pennsylvania. Early morning temperatures otherwise rose into the 20's and 30's, and it was 63 in Miami, an increase of 22 degrees from the previous day, with southern Texas also experiencing much warmer temperatures. It was 31 in Chicago, whereas the previous day, it had been zero.

In Charlotte, the mercury reached the mid-40's this date and the forecast was that it was not likely to fall below freezing during the morning, with a low of 34. It had been 20 degrees during the morning, as thick clouds formed on the horizon, much higher than the low of 11 reading the previous day, the lowest temperature recorded in Charlotte since 11 degrees had been registered on December 18, 1953. The low on Saturday had been 14 degrees. (If you find the report somewhat inconsistent, that it had been 20 during the morning, with a low of 34, you are not alone. That's the weather for you… Upon reflection, it is probable that the compleat reporter meant "in the morning" in the colloquial sense of the expression, meaning not in this morning, but rather in the next one. We make room, however, for there having been more than one low reading in the morning.)

In Belmont, N.C., nine boys were ordered to share court costs of nine dollars in Recorder's Court this date for snowballing of a man during the previous snow. Unless he was hit with a hard-baller in the head, he, perhaps, should have been fined for failure to have a proper sense of humor and appreciation for juvenile high-jinks of the more innocent variety.

For those who cannot yet read, a local juvenile delinquent is photographed with a softball which she says she intends to throw at her teacher as a prank on Valentine's Day, because, she said, she thinks more pranks should be committed on Valentine's Day, to alleviate the number occurring on Halloween. She explained that her teacher reminded her of the Wicked Witch of the West, hence her appearance, in costume, resembling Dorothy.

On the editorial page, "Get the Bad Apples out of the Barrel" indicates that for several years, former Communist witnesses had been revered by a bipartisan group of Congressmen and Administration officials, and so it was interesting to note their reaction to the recantation of statements and testimony by former Communist, turned informer, Harvey Matusow. Congressmen had refused to believe journalists who had pointed out months earlier that Mr. Matusow was a liar, but as soon as he admitted his perjury, he was labeled a "Communist plant" by current HUAC chairman, Representative Francis Walter of Pennsylvania.

According to Mary Hornaday of the Christian Science Monitor: "A battery of legal talent has joined U.S. Attorney J. Edward Lumbard in what may be a hard-fought battle to keep self-styled ex-Communist 'informer' Harvey Matusow's self-confessed perjury from upsetting government victories over communism in the courts." One U.S. Attorney had said that a conviction in at least one case could not have been obtained without the testimony of Mr. Matusow.

It suggests that the first concern of the Justice Department ought be justice rather than, as it seemed at present, holding onto its court victories.

Mr. Matusow appeared to be only the most infamous of several questionable witnesses who had appeared before Congress and been relied on by the Justice Department in their eagerness to document the case against Communists. Marie Natvig had testified against prominent publisher and broadcaster Edward O. Lamb, contending that she had been introduced to him as "Comrade Lamb" at a Communist meeting during the 1930's and that he had advocated world revolution "with fire in his voice and a maniacal gleam in his eye." She also contended that she had engaged in an "act of infidelity" with him. As a result, Mr. Lamb had, for some time, been in trouble with the Federal Communications Commission. But the previous week, Mrs. Natvig had admitted during an FCC hearing that she had lied, saying that she must be crazy after reading her prior testimony, that it was not true, that Mr. Lamb's attorney must have been right when he said that she was insane. She explained her earlier testimony by saying that they had started to manufacture the evidence after the former FCC attorney in the case had said, "All right, kid, let's murder the bum."

Paul Crouch, originally from North Carolina, who had worked as a Communist Party organizer in the state and had testified frequently for the Justice Department, had been investigated for his credibility the previous year by Attorney General Herbert Brownell, but only after newsmen had pointed out material contradictions in his testimony. The Justice Department had also initiated investigations of two other witnesses who had testified for the Government repeatedly, Manning Johnson and Leonard Patterson, both of whom had made accusations against Dr. Ralph Bunche, which had not stood up to scrutiny.

Many former Communists, it ventures, had been extremely valuable in bringing out the story of Communist activities in the country and testifying to same in court. But Government lawyers, in their haste to foster prosecutions, and Congressional investigators, in their desire to obtain headlines, had let too many "rotten apples get into the barrelful of witnesses." It indicates that because the editorial column had made the point several times, perhaps the readers were now bored with the repetition, but nevertheless finds that the objection had to be made until the "barrel is cleaned out, and the injustices done by false witnesses are rectified."

"What, She Asked, Is North Carolina?" tells of a female passenger in the writer's car having asked whether North Carolina was a sharecropper's house on the edge of the field, the rusty cough of a "lint head", Jim Crow hiding in the rear of a bus, crowded prisons, road gangs and murder in Harnett County, a "Gastonia incident"—referring to the Loray Mill strike violence of 1929—, or the homeless and hungry and cold. She talked of leaving the South and returning to her native North.

She was told by the writer that North Carolina was all of those things, but also Virginia Dare and Kings Mountain, the Courthouse at Hillsboro, Reconstruction, American Tobacco Company mogul, Buck Duke, Rev. Billy Graham, playwright Paul Green, the late UNC sociology professor, Howard Odum, and bandleader Kay Kyser. It was the folk music of the mountains and the sea shanties of the Outer Banks, the hum and whir of looms, the pungent odor of tobacco, the bent fields of grain, a harvest of strawberries, factory smoke and honking horns, a Bible class at Gardner-Webb and an atom-smasher at N.C. State in Raleigh.

It proceeds further in that vein, indicating: "It is a mind—a troubled, restless, unhappy mind fighting for life. It, too, is a confident, hard-working, happy mind." All of those things comprised North Carolina.

"Then the sun fell behind the distant hill and the evening was still and red. And she said, I see, I see."

A piece from the Asheville Citizen, titled "Mouths of Babes", indicates that the House Ways & Means Committee had been listening to testimony regarding the President's tariff reduction program, with some of the members obviously not liking it, especially three Republicans, Representative Noah Mason of Illinois, a former schoolteacher to whom freer trade had always been an abomination, Representative Daniel Reed of New York, who had been in Congress for more than 36 years, and Representative Richard Simpson of Pennsylvania, who had served for more than 18 years. The witness before them was the 35-year old president of Bell & Howell, Charles Percy of Chicago—a future three-term Senator beginning in 1967 and an early candidate for the Republican nomination for the presidency in 1968.

Mr. Percy thought that U.S. manufacturers could successfully adjust themselves to gradual tariff reductions, as they led the world in production techniques, with competition having made America great, not protectionism. He said that tariffs had been cut from 45 percent to 13.5 percent on motion picture cameras, his specialty, with the result that a large Swiss manufacturer was his primary competitor in the world market, having launched a major attempt to cut into Bell & Howell's sales in the U.S. He declared that his company could adjust to the competition.

The Ways & Means Committee then perked up, with Mr. Reed having admitted that Mr. Percy had out-argued him, and Mr. Mason conceding that he had almost been persuaded. But Mr. Simpson had said that Mr. Percy's first interest had been to his own company, to which Mr. Percy had responded in the negative, that his first interest was the national interest. The session then adjourned. The piece thinks the latter response by Mr. Percy had been the "snapper" to the story.

Joe H. Robinson, the new president of the United Community Services in Charlotte, tells of the UCS goals for its second year of operation, indicating that it had just finished a study of black hospital needs made at the request of the City Council and County Board of Commissioners, and would undertake in the coming year, along with the City Recreation Department and County Commissioners, a study of all public and private recreation facilities, programs and needs.

He indicates that the results of a study of services needed for Mecklenburg County victims of cerebral palsy, sponsored by the City Council two years earlier, had become evident during the current year in the greatly increased program at the Spastics Hospital, and the allocation for the first time of substantial funds through the United Appeal, a part of UCS. Two other accomplishments of major consequence during the previous year had been the establishment of a county summer recreation program in several communities and the initiation of a widened program of interpretation and education to stimulate public understanding of the United Appeal and all participating services.

The Kiwanis Club had made history during the year when it announced its plan to invest funds, received from its annual sponsorship of the Ice Follies at the new Coliseum the following November, through their United Appeal program.

And he goes on providing a list of prior accomplishments, indicating that funds collected during the prior year for polio had been rejected by the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, and that funds would also be offered to the American Cancer Society. He states that the UCS would continue to approach local directors of those national drives to try to get them openly to work with the United Appeal in bringing about a change of attitude of the national organizations, which preferred to conduct their own separate drives.

He informs that the United Appeal had attempted to raise a little more than $951,000 during the current year, about $135,000 more than raised for 1954, but to date, had raised $885,000, about $70,000 more than the previous year and the highest amount ever raised locally in one annual united effort, while still falling somewhat short of the goal. Two new services had been added, including a modest fund for fighting dread diseases, and nearly all participating services would be in a better financial position to carry forward in 1955 than they had been the previous year. He concludes that Col. Paul Younts and his campaigners deserved enthusiastic thanks for their efforts.

Drew Pearson indicates that the President had turned down an opportunity to present an award to former President Hoover at the annual dinner of national business publications, the organization having requested that the President present their "Silver Quill" award for distinguished service to the former President at a dinner on January 21. But when it was learned that the date would conflict with the President's diplomatic reception, the organization had postponed the dinner until January 29, but this time, the organization was informed by a White House aide that the President could not attend because of a "crowded schedule". Some of the business editors were not pleased, however, when they discovered that the President had left by plane on January 29 for a golfing trip in Augusta, Ga.

A Hoover task force on Government reorganization had just completed a confidential report on rural electrification which was certain to bring howls of indignation from many farmers and members of Congress. The report proposed that the Rural Electrification Administration, currently operated by the Agriculture Department for the benefit of farmers, be made into a virtual RFC, charging double the interest rates it currently charged. Those who had examined the report said it would bring about the end to REA cooperatives, which served farmers all over the country. The irony was that the report was being circulated at the very time the REA co-ops were meeting in Atlantic City to plan for the future.

The REA had been set up during the Roosevelt Administration, when private utilities had argued that they could not afford to run long power lines to carry electricity to individual farms, and had been operated on the principle of a lending organization, loaning money to any group of farmers who established their own power distributing company, with the money repaid at 2 percent interest. The Hoover report, however, proposed raising the rate to 4.5 percent. Congressmen who had seen the report pointed to the fact that even now, private utilities could not afford to supply rural areas.

Former President Hoover was now being given principal credit for selling the Administration on the Dixon-Yates power combine deal with the Atomic Energy Commission. While President, he had fought against the TVA project and wanted to take the Government out of the utility business. His right-hand man on the Government reorganization commission was Sidney Mitchell, whose father had founded the giant Electric Bond and Share Holding Co., which would benefit most from the Dixon-Yates deal. The chairman of the AEC, Admiral Lewis Strauss, who had fought hardest for Dixon-Yates, was a former secretary to Mr. Hoover. Ordinarily, the AEC would have nothing to do with a power project, but in this case, Admiral Strauss had helped initiate the project and fought for it tenaciously, so much so that many members of Congress were upset with him.

The Congressional Quarterly tells of Federal school aid, that there were currently 30.2 million pupils in the country's elementary and secondary schools, according to the National Education Association, an increase of 1.3 million over the previous school year, the crowded conditions forcing 2.3 percent of the students to attend school on a part-time basis. Pupil enrollment in North Carolina would total more than one million by June, 1955, and of that number one-tenth of one percent could not attend full time. A 41-state report by the Federal Office of Education showed that in the fall of 1954, there had been 1.8 million pupils "in excess" of normal school building capacity, 9,500 in North Carolina. More than 8 percent of all pupils in those 41 states had been accommodated in makeshift or improvised quarters. There was a shortage of 340,000 classrooms nationwide, the elementary grades being particularly crowded, with the NEA estimating that 32 states needed another 46,841 elementary school classrooms at present.

Yet, construction was far behind, with the Office of Education stating that the total number of new classrooms scheduled at all levels to be completed during the current year in those 41 states was 46,813, about the needs of 32 states just at the elementary school level.

The NEA stated that 58,017 teachers were needed during the current year, 1,680 of them in North Carolina.

The Federal Government had played a major role in promoting education, despite it being essentially a state and local activity. During fiscal year 1953, Federal spending for education in the states had totaled 1.2 billion dollars, of which more than 40 million was allocated to North Carolina. The bulk of the Federal spending, 725 million, had gone for education of veterans, with other major items being support of land-grant colleges, vocational training and payments to the states for school construction and maintenance in Federally affected school districts.

Some members of Congress said that Government should do more to aid the schools, with the most frequent proposal being grants-in-aid for school construction. The Senate Labor and Public Welfare Committee in 1954 had favorably reported a bill which would have provided for an additional 250 million dollars per year for the ensuing two years in payments for school construction, a bill reintroduced in the current session. Under a formula based on school-age population and per capita income, North Carolina's share of that proposed funding would be about 12 million dollars or an expenditure of $11.04 per pupil.

Some 40 national organizations, led by the NEA, had joined in an effort to obtain emergency Federal aid for school construction. There was broad agreement concerning the nature of the crisis in overcrowded schools, with a 720,000-room shortage forecast by 1960 and the supply of teachers falling far short of demand.

Although the Federal Government spent more than one billion dollars per year on education, through programs such as the G.I. Bill of Rights, vocational training, and school lunches, there was no comprehensive Federal aid program for school needs.

During Congressional debates on expanded Federal aid, however, the concern had been expressed that Federal control of the schools might follow Federal aid. State and local governments had also been accused of failing to use all of their resources to solve the problem. In 1955, the biggest stumbling block might prove to be the segregation issue, after some Southern states, in the wake of the May 17, 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision, had taken steps to circumvent Brown by authorizing a private system of schools. That effort would prompt opponents of segregation to seek to amend any Federal aid to education proposal to bar funds to states which continued to permit segregation in the public schools. Such a maneuver could kill Federal school aid legislation, as members of Congress opposed to any form of it would be joined by those favoring aid but opposing Federal interference with segregation policy. Among the latter group were some of the strongest advocates of early and large-scale Federal grants for school construction.

Several school aid bills had been introduced in the new Congress, and the Senate Labor and Public Welfare Committee had completed hearings on five of them by the end of January. The maximum specific amount proposed thus far was 500 million dollars per year for two years, while 24 Senators had proposed another bill with an unlimited ceiling, which would direct Congress to appropriate for school construction as much as needed for as many years as necessary to meet the crisis. Senator Lister Hill of Alabama, chairman of the Committee, had reintroduced his proposal of "oil-for-education", approved by the Senate in 1953 but eliminated in the reconciliation conference with the House. That proposal would dedicate revenues from the tidal oil lands granted to the states to the costs of meeting emergencies associated with national defense and otherwise for grants-in-aid for education. In addition to the 45 Senators who had voted for the proposal in 1953, another five had announced that they were in favor of it, and of those 50, 43 were still in the Senate, with 30 of them among the 35 co-sponsors of the proposal by Senator Hill during the current year. Of the 37 who had voted in 1953 against the proposal, plus four others who had announced their opposition, 33 remained in the Senate. Thus, the proposal of Senator Hill might yet succeed in the Senate.

Supporters of a large Federal program, however, were less optimistic about their chances in the House, where Speaker Sam Rayburn of Texas was said to be cool on the subject. Proponents argued that Democrats could make political hay by passing a bigger and better program than the one proposed by the President, but to avoid a veto, any such program probably would have to be a compromise.

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