The Charlotte News

Tuesday, February 15, 1955


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports from Taipeh that Nationalist Chinese President Chiang Kai-shek had declared this date that the show of strength by the U.S. Seventh Fleet in the evacuation of the outpost Tachen Islands the prior week would not deter Communist Chinese aggression in the area of Formosa, even for a short time. In an exclusive interview with Fred Hampson of the Associated Press, Chiang stated that the offshore island outposts which his forces still held could resist a Communist attack. He again refused to spell out his version of a claimed agreement with the U.S. regarding Quemoy and Matsu, the outpost islands four and five miles from the Chinese mainland, saying only that "the matter is very clear to us and to the Communists". Mr. Hampson said that Chiang appeared to feel that during the evacuation, the U.S. had gotten more "irrevocably behind him and his fight against the Communists than ever before". He also indicated that he was "certain" that his forces would one day launch a counterattack against the Chinese mainland, and that the so-called neutral nations of Asia would not side with the West against the Communists until they had been invaded, at which point it would "be too late". He gave no indication of what strategy he would follow after his forces had abandoned the Tachens, with present signs being that the Nationalists on the outpost islands between Nanchishan in the north and Quemoy in the south would confine their operations for the time being to defensive actions. Matsu was the other of the most important outpost islands, as it dominated the approaches to Foochow, the capital of Fukien Province.

In Bern, Switzerland, it was reported that a band of Rumanian resistance fighters had barricaded themselves in Rumania's legation buildings after an assault at 2:00 a.m. which killed the legation's chauffeur and drove the entire staff into the street. The group vowed to hold the legation until the Communist Bucharest Government freed five persons held as political prisoners. Police were negotiating with the group to try to get them to surrender peacefully. Bucharest had indicated its desire to have them arrested and returned for trial in Rumania.

In Las Vegas, the first detonation in a 1955 nuclear test series set for early this date had been postponed for a day by the Atomic Energy Commission, citing unfavorable weather conditions which might cause a radiation threat to the area of east central Nevada.

In Washington, the Weather Bureau had determined that it would continue to use female names for hurricanes along the East Coast. Some protests had been received the previous year because the nine hurricanes of the season were all identified by female names. The Bureau explained that it would continue to follow the practice because it needed short, easily pronounced and readily recognized designations. The first hurricane of 1955, Alice, had already been registered, forming the previous month in the West Indies and remaining mostly at sea. The normal hurricane season ran from June to November. The Bureau said that new radar installations and a network of command posts for giving public hurricane warnings and information would be available in 1955 to help cut down on loss of life and property. The story provides the 26 names to be used as identifiers in 1955, if needed. Look out for Connie, Diane, Ione, Hilda and Janet, as they will be killers, a pack of wolf-women.

In Schenectady, N.Y., Alton L. Blakeslee, Associated Press science reporter, tells of an announcement by the scientists at General Electric Co.'s research laboratory, that man-made diamonds had been produced, exactly like nature's diamonds, but costing at least twice as much to produce, although possibly to be reduced in cost with time. The discovery offered a new supply of diamonds vitally important to industry and national defense, as hundreds of pounds of diamonds were imported annually to cut steel, dig through rock to find oil, make precision tools and perform many other industrial tasks. War or blockade could cut off the natural supply. One process producing the man-made diamonds occurred by creating pressure and heat on a carbon-containing material equal to that 240 miles inside the earth, with the diamonds being formed within a few minutes, the starting material not being identified but scientists hinting that it contained graphite. The diamonds produced were indistinguishable from those dug from mines in Africa or Brazil and would scratch natural diamonds and also had the X-ray spectral fingerprint of natural diamonds.

In Raleigh, Governor Luther Hodges this date called for a two-year study by the State Highway Commission to find a means of assuring operation and planning of the state's road program on a statewide basis. The Governor, in a message to the State House and Senate Roads Committees, also recommended changes in highway taxes and collection so as to produce an additional 3.79 million dollars in annual revenue to help pay for the program.

In Richmond, Va., three persons died early this date in a fire which swept through a three-story house on Monument Avenue, with eight other persons, including six small children, escaping from the third floor without injury. The dead had resided on the second floor. No cause of the fire is reported.

In Beverly Hills, Calif., a coroner's assistant autopsy surgeon indicated that several days of toxicological tests would be required to determine the cause of death of actress Abigail Adams, who had been found dead in her apartment the previous Sunday. He said that his postmortem examination the previous day had not disclosed any apparent pathological cause of death. Police had related that the apparent cause of death was an overdose of sleeping pills and had concluded that it was a suicide. Ms. Adams, whose grandparents lived in Charlotte, was to be buried there. She was the former fiancée of comedian George Jessel, who had just seen her the prior Friday night and reported that she had been in very good spirits.

In Charlotte, a City police officer who was investigating a two-car collision had been struck from behind by another car during the early morning, suffering head and back injuries, the driver of the car having been charged with assault with a deadly weapon.

Also in Charlotte, Donald MacDonald of The News reports that removal of a stop sign on Wellesley Avenue, at the intersection with Selwyn, was attributed by police as the cause of an accident which had resulted in injuries to six children and four adults, the police suggesting that it was possibly the result of a prank. The sign had been removed from its post. No charges had yet been filed in the accident, given the removal of the sign.

In Washington, a group of Southern Senators this date urged the President to allow extension of Eastern Air Lines service from New Orleans to Mexico City, with Senator Sam Ervin of North Carolina saying that it would enable amateur golfer Billy Joe Patton to fly directly from Charlotte to Mexico City, which Senator Ervin subsequently indicated had brought a smile to the President, recalling that he had played golf with Mr. Patton recently in Augusta, Ga.

On the editorial page, "Could You Live on $96 a Month? Thousands of Tar Heels Try To" tells of the currently proposed state minimum wage of 55 cents per hour amounting to $22 per week or about $96 per month, that with 30 percent of the amount allotted to rent, lighting and heating, the total would be reduced by about $28.80, and with another 25 percent for food and clothing, would be reduced by another $24, allowing less than a dollar per day on which to eat and buy new clothes. That would leave $43.20 per month for all other expenses, including hospital bills, household expenses, transportation, recreation, insurance and savings.

It further indicates that the figures assumed only an individual, and if one had a family, the situation would be even worse.

While it sounded impossible, thousands of North Carolinians were so forced to live, existing on such a modest income or even less. Approximately one out of every hundred persons in the state, 45,000, earned less than 55 cents per hour, according to a survey made the previous month by the Department of Labor. About 31,000 of them were engaged in retail trade, with the other 14,000 involved in service industries, principally hotels, laundry and dry cleaning establishments. It provides further statistics of those in non-manufacturing industries who made less than 75 cents per hour, the minimum Federal wage, amounting to another 95,000 North Carolinians, out of the total 565,000 such persons engaged in non-manufacturing industry in the state. The minimum Federal wage was likely to be raised, it notes, to one dollar by the current Congress.

The average weekly earnings of production workers engaged in manufacturing in the state the previous year was $46.75, ranking 47th among the 48 states, only ahead of Mississippi by 53 cents per week.

It thus concludes that North Carolina, while leading the South in many areas, lagged behind in wages paid to many of its workers. It urges raising of the minimum wage for workers in intrastate commerce, not covered by the Federal wage law, limited to employers engaged in interstate commerce. A 55-cent minimum wage had been proposed during the 1953 biennial session of the General Assembly, but even after it had been riddled with loopholes to exempt many employers, it was not passed. The previous week, the State Legislative Council had announced that it planned to sponsor introduction of a 55-cent minimum wage.

It finds that modest enough, and explains that it would exclude from coverage, for good reason, employees whose remuneration was customarily composed of tips and gratuities in addition to wages, would also not apply to employees in agriculture, dairying, domestic service in private homes, outside salesmen working on commission, and employers who employed no more than two persons. It finds that if the proposed law was to be criticized, it ought be on the ground that it did not go far enough, urges that the modest proposal should become law and hopes that the Mecklenburg delegation would work for its speedy enactment.

"Highway Safety: Accent the Positive" indicates that some North Carolina legislators seemed more interested in crippling the state's traffic safety program than in strengthening it, that the State Senate Roads Committee had mercifully killed bills to increase the present speed limits, but that there were still pending several measures designed to weaken traffic laws, to make it more difficult to convict violators, and to render the State Highway Patrol's speed whammies virtually useless.

Opponents of the whammy were particularly bitter, maintaining that it was not fair for people to be spied on when they did not know it, with one State Representative of Lenoir comparing it to Gestapo methods. It suggests that by extension of that argument, the opponents might also wish to outlaw burglar alarms and make it illegal for police departments to use plainclothesmen. It finds that the whammy had become a powerful psychological weapon to slow down drivers.

It finds it a shame that attacks on the state's safety program had kept Motor Vehicles commissioner Ed Scheidt on the defensive throughout the opening weeks of the current General Assembly, that he had been too busy to spend much time on the compulsory automobile inspection law which he had hoped to get passed. It hopes that the legislators would put aside their hatchets and adopt a constructive attitude toward the problem of traffic safety.

"Jazz with a Well-Scrubbed Face" refers to the column this date of Robert C. Ruark and finds him type-casting regarding jazz and jazzmen, as much as he criticized television and movies for stereotyping members of the press as bourbon-swilling men who rushed into the newsroom with a scoop of the century every day.

"His hornmen are invariably gin-soaked, tea-smoking hipsters who blow best while under the influence of their favorite tonic and only in the lowest depths of some smoke-choked saloon." It finds that jazz might have a lurid past and that some of its practitioners had indeed led wild and woolly lives, but that to lump them all in the "happy-stumblebum" category was akin to saying that all newsmen fit the movie mold into which they were cast.

"And jazz—great jazz—can often be heard where the air is clean and the heads are clear." It wishes that Mr. Ruark had been present the previous night at Davidson College when Louis Armstrong's trumpet had "carved beauty out of sound in surroundings and under conditions that could best be described as properly proper."

A piece from the Memphis Press-Scimitar, titled "'Flat Look' in Houses", indicates that an architect, aspiring to Christian Dior in fashion design, had conspired against the peaked roof in housing design, finding that he also ought be toppled from his perch. It considers the peaked roof pleasing to the eye and conveying the "sense of the fitness of things", matching and harmonizing with the upper reach of the treetops. It considers the flat roof depressing of the spirit, at least that of the writer. It finds it an expression of the aberration of the age "in which we are letting mechanics and the cold harshness of soulless mechanism, decimate us instead of serve us." It finds that there was music without melody, paintings without meaning, and flowers which did not bloom. It groups the flat roof with the craze for the one-story house, which took up a lot space which ought be used for trees, grass, vegetables and flowers, while the house reached into the treetops and toward the stars.

It concludes that the society was afflicted with the craze for labor-saving so that people could run around seeking artificial pleasures which did not satisfy. "We do not take time to live, for life and work are inseparable."

Peaked roofs also waste space, either affording only an attic or a dormer-windowed bedroom or two, against which one would likely hit one's head when moving too close to the front or back wall, also wastes considerable energy or requiring inordinate insulation not only for the roof but also for the ceiling to prevent escape of heat upward to the roof enclosure. In any event, the writer would have encountered considerable disagreement from Frank Lloyd Wright, who had once gone in for the traditional peaked roof, before coming to the realization of the practicality and conservation of labor, costs and energy involved in the flat roof. This writer probably also resented the Model T displacing the horse and carriage or, perhaps, had not seen creative exemplars of the design, only pink little boxes.

Drew Pearson tells of four scenes in the Senate occurring between February, 1950 and February, 1955. Recently, outside the Senate Foreign Relations Committee room, television cameras had gathered to interview Senators regarding the Far Eastern situation, and Senator McCarthy, who was not a member of the Committee, but having heard of the presence of the cameras, had strode into their midst carrying a sheaf of mimeographed press statements, wondering if any of the newsmen would like him to read from them. There were no takers, and he wandered off dejectedly, saying, "Okay", realizing he was no longer news.

Five years earlier, in Wheeling, West Virginia, during a Lincoln Day speech, the Senator had made his infamous claim that he had a list of 205 names who were known to the Secretary of State as being members of the Communist Party, but were nevertheless still employed within the State Department. The following day, speaking in Salt Lake City, the Senator had said that there were 57 known Communists within the Department. And then, returning to Washington, he changed the figure again, this time claiming that there were 81 known Communists within the Department.

Then-Secretary of State Dean Acheson had advised that Senator McCarthy's wild statements should be ignored and that the American people had more sense than to fall for such a claim.

Then for months, Republican publishers ballyhooed the Senator's claims until it became a political issue, turning Senator McCarthy into a major story. A Senate committee was appointed and after prolonged hearings, issued a majority report saying that none of the 81 alleged Communists in the State Department were actually Communists, with then-Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr., of Massachusetts being a lone dissenter.

A year later, on Lincoln Day, 1951, there was not much news, and Senator Harley Kilgore of West Virginia rose on the Senate floor and said that Senator McCarthy had made his speech a year earlier charging that there had been 205 card-carrying Communists in the State Department and that not one had been uncovered in the interim. Senators Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota, Olin Johnston of South Carolina and Herbert Lehman of New York joined in Senator Kilgore's statements. Republican Senators then rose in defense of Senator McCarthy, demanding that Senator Kilgore be made to take his seat for criticizing another Senator. While it had been a newsworthy imbroglio at a time when no Washington news was breaking, there was no news of it reported in the New York or Washington papers the following morning. Meanwhile, the major news organizations and the metropolitan dailies had a full-time reporter assigned to observe Senator McCarthy, covering his every word and every move. Thus, the Senator's legend had grown.

Once again in 1955, Senator Johnston, now the new chairman of the Civil Service Committee, had written a letter to the State Department, asking how many of the 81 officials which Senator McCarthy had claimed were Communists had turned out to be so, with the State Department security officer, Scott McLeod, a friend of Senator McCarthy, responding that there had been none.

Mr. Pearson provides his epilogue to the scenes from Senator Humphrey: "The press giveth and the press taketh away. Blessed be the name of the press."

Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas, in an excerpt from an address before the sixth annual presentation of the National Book Awards in New York, discusses modern curbs on free discussion and thinking, indicating that as far back as the 1830's, at the time Alexis de Tocqueville was touring the country, there was genuine concern regarding free discussion and the influence of majority opinion thereon. M. De Tocqueville had written: "I know of no country in which there is so little independence of mind and real freedom of discussion as in America..." He had also written more generally of the impact of the majority view: "The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent, and guided; men are seldom forced by it to act, but they are constantly restrained from acting. Such a power does not destroy, but it prevents existence; it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people…"

Senator Fulbright finds the prophecy to cut deeply into present times and not alone because of Senator McCarthy, as restrictions on freedom of expression came from many sources, some of which were respectable. He cites for example the narrowing effect inherent in the concentration of managerial control of the press, radio, movies, and in the foreseeable future, television. There were only a few more than 100 cities where one could find daily newspapers in competition. The general effect of what approached monopoly control of the media was that people heard, saw, watched, read and listened to only one side of public questions. That could adversely affect politicians, to whom the guidance of public affairs was entrusted, as he would doubt whether his views would be fairly presented to constituents through the media, or presented at all. Thus, there followed from that a chain reaction of cynicism, leading to corruption.

He found that prospect from having read the report on tax-exempt foundations issued recently by the Reece Committee in the House, wherein chairman Carroll Reece of Tennessee had stated: "The trustees of the tax-exempt foundations should … be very chary of promoting ideas, concepts and opinion-forming material which run contrary to what the public wishes, approves and likes."

Recently, the military academies had banned all student debate on the question of the recognition of Communist China, it thus essentially having been "decreed that they had to hold to the public posture of being blind, deaf and dumb to the most tortured issue of the moment."

The Princeton Alumni Weekly had taken notice of undergraduate apathy toward political and social questions, and in finding some of the underlying causes, cited from a personnel pamphlet issued by Socony Vacuum Co. advising students how they should behave in college should they wish to be employed upon graduation, stating: "Personal views can cause a lot of trouble. The 'isms' are out. Business being what it is, it naturally looks with disfavor on the wild-eyed radical or even the moderate pink." The Senator urges consideration of the implications of that text, gagging the students' curiosity while dangling a job as a reward for silence or something less than moderation.

He finds that a politician who wished to remain faithful to his oath of office had therefore to draw closer to the letter and spirit of the Constitution, which essentially provided that the power should be shared by both the few and the many that each might defend itself against the other, as power given to the few would lead to oppression of the many, and vice versa. Thus the Founders had framed a Government with checks and balances, arranged for unity and diversity, authority and liberty, security and freedom.

Elsewhere, other societies had divorced those coupled terms, finding them incompatible, such that one could survive only if the other was eliminated. Such societies had wound up in dissolution.

If the American politician drew closer to the letter and spirit of the Constitution, he would be further reinforced by grasping the fact that the Constitution was superior to any majority or minority, thus not required by his oath to swing with every breeze but rather allowed to reflect the deliberate sense of the community. He should consider himself a teacher, offering a method of deliberation which could be imitated by the community and be prepared to accept banishment or destruction at the hands of the people after having arouse their anger in serving them well.

He says that the writer had a unique responsibility to the political community, of which the writer was part, the responsibility arising from the writer's talent, capacity to enlighten, to civilize those citizens with ultimate power in the society. The artist and intellectual in the modern age were among the few who had the serenity and sense of perspective which could help find a way out of the confusion which presently afflicted the society. Through the writer, the political community needed to be taught how and what to laugh at, how and what to scorn or to pity, to be taught continuously that honor was not the same as fame or notoriety, that physical bravery was not the only form of courage. It also needed to be taught the nature of justice and that the capacity of the human mind had yet to be explored, "that there can be new possibilities for men themselves."

Robert C. Ruark, as indicated by the above editorial on jazz, is horrified in reading that the "Concerto for Jazzband and Symphony Orchestra" would come to New York at the behest of the Philharmonic-Symphony Society under the direction of Dimitri Mitropoulos on March 31 and perform in Carnegie Hall. The solo ensemble would be headed by the Sauter-Finegan Band, which had taken part in the unusual work written by a 45-year old Swiss composer ten years earlier in Germany, with Hans Rosbaud conducting.

He tells of former jazz guitarist Eddie Condon, who now ran a saloon in Greenwich Village, having once gotten into an argument with the French over what they called "le jazz hot", urging that Americans did not go to France and tell them how to jump on a grape, which was how Mr. Ruark felt about the "European condescension and the placing of high-toned ruffles on an art form that does not belong in Carnegie Hall." He believed American jazz should be left alone and not sought to "make a lady of it, because it ain't no lady. It is a hussy."

He goes on to describe elaborately the correct atmosphere for jazz, taking place "in a long, low-ceilinged room, full of sliceable smoke and the faint aroma of a stick of illegal tea", etc., with the band playing poorly until after midnight, when it began to jump, and hit its stride at around 4:00 a.m., when the joint closed and "all the boys go to some ratty illegal, where they will not be bothered by customers, and where they can do it all for themselves, with maybe a gal flexing her toes with her shoes off, being real sad to Uncle Buck's horn like I heard Lena do it once with Cousin Joe on the piano and Cousin Eddie on the doghouse.

"This is jazz, not this Carnegie Hall stuff. It is only jazz when the jazzmen stumble home in the dawn, and awake in the afternoon feeling more than miserable."

A letter writer says that as he had been going to work during the morning, he observed a heavy cloud of smog enveloping the whole city, with smoke pouring out of chimneys of several large buildings. He wonders why something could not be done about the matter, as had other cities, such as Pittsburgh, rendering them decent places to live again. He finds that there had been a lot of talk about smog over the years in Charlotte, but that little had been done to eliminate the problem.

A letter writer comments on a front page report by Julian Scheer regarding the rate of illegitimacy among Charlotte residents, the writer commenting on the 25 percent rate cited among black children. She says that there were laws against adultery and that those guilty of it should be made to pay the penalty, that, if so, there would not be illegitimate children.

A letter writer indicates that this date was the anniversary of the blowing up of the battleship Maine in Havana harbor in 1898, resulting in the loss of 266 lives, eventually used as the pretext for the beginning of the Spanish-American War. He complains that no one any longer remembered the Maine and believes that shameful, asserts that the country should not ever become so wrapped up in its new woes that it should forget the past, hopes that people would pay tribute on February 15 to the dead of all wars.

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