The Charlotte News

Friday, February 18, 1955


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports from Taipeh that the Nationalist Chinese Air Force had claimed that one of its bombers had sunk a submarine off the Communist-held Taishan Islands during the afternoon while other planes had wreaked havoc on a Chinese Communist troop supply convoy, causing a submarine to emit bubbles as it went down. The planes had patrolled the area for a long period thereafter but found no trace of the submarine. In the same East China Sea area, Nationalist warplanes and ships claimed the sinking of at least 21 Communist vessels, with indications that the battle would go on through the night. If those claims were confirmed, it would be the most severe defeat the Nationalists had ever inflicted on the Communist Chinese forces. The Nationalist Defense Ministry contended that eight landing craft, five gunboats and eight armed motorized junks, plus other unspecified craft, had been sunk, with the landing craft believed to be carrying 200 soldiers each. The Ministry also claimed that Nationalist warplanes had destroyed eight barracks and caused heavy casualties on the Taishan Islands.

In Paris, Christian Pineau, seeking approval as the next premier of France, told the National Assembly this date that he intended to work for quick ratification of the Paris treaties for German rearmament, stating that if France wished to remain faithful to its alliances and Atlantic solidarity, it had to bring to an end the prolonged discussion which had only divided France, and that the new government would seek to obtain, in the shortest possible time, the final ratification of the Paris and London agreements. M. Pineau also said that he would work for new diplomatic negotiations with Russia, greater trade between East and West, an armaments agency for the six nations of the Western European Union, and worldwide disarmament. He was, however, given only a small chance of being approved by the Assembly, which had been without a government for two weeks since a vote of no-confidence had transpired with respect to the Government of Premier Pierre Mendes-France.

In Raleigh, Governor Luther Hodges this date spoke out against a proposal aimed at preserving public school segregation through the use of public funds to support private schools, stating at his press conference that the plan introduced by a State Representative of Pitt County was "unnecessary and untimely" until the Supreme Court had acted on the implementing decision in Brown v. Board of Education, deciding the prior May 17 that continued segregation of the public schools was contrary to the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution. He said that the proposal had come out of the blue from a single legislator and that he understood that the Representative had not discussed the plan with the chairmen of the State Senate and House Education Committees. He believed that legislation on segregation as proposed by an advisory committee would take care of the situation for the present, the committee having recommended providing to local school boards complete control over the assignment and enrollment of pupils pending the implementing decision of the Supreme Court. The Governor also expressed opposition to another proposal by the same Representative to replace the present 3 percent sales tax, which had many exemptions, with a 2 percent levy with few exemptions. The Governor said that he considered the issue to be whether to levy a tobacco tax or a sales tax on foods and medicines and he believed the latter sales tax would hurt more people than a tobacco tax. The Governor also said that he was encouraged by the reception given by Secretary of Interior Douglas McKay to protests of North Carolinians against charging tolls on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Also in Raleigh, drastic legislation to regulate the state's water resources was introduced before the General Assembly this date in the form of a State House bill drawn by a committee named by the late Governor William B. Umstead to study the state's water problem. Governor Hodges had urged the passage of a strong water regulatory measure, but had not specifically endorsed the bill which was introduced this date.

Dick Young of The News tells of enforcement of a smoke abatement ordinance being one which would make money for the citizenry, according to a statement this date by the smoke abatement engineer from Asheville. The success of the latter program had attracted widespread attention, and in a telephone conversation with the newspaper, the engineer had said that he would be happy to come to Charlotte to confer with City officials regarding reinstitution of a smoke abatement program, after members of the City Council had issued the invitation. He said that the success of such a program depended primarily on public education and to a much lesser extent on intelligent engineering. He informed that smoke was wasted fuel which could run as high as 20 percent of unburned fuel and that when those facts were intelligently presented, the savings in fuel cost were usually readily realized and most businesses were glad to cooperate. Whenever businesses eliminated smoke, they saved money in their cost of operation. He said that the Asheville program operated on an annual budget of $18,000. When Charlotte's program had been abandoned in the summer of 1952, appropriations were slightly in excess of $19,000. One of the most effective parts of the Asheville program was an annual school for firemen of commercial and industrial plants, teaching them the proper methods of firing boilers and furnaces to obtain the most out of the fuel while at the same time reducing or eliminating smoke. The school was always held in September, just before the firing season. During the summer, inspectors looked at equipment, spotting the needs for repairs and supervising improvements.

Mr. Young also reports on the first formal announcement for the 1955 municipal election campaign this date, by incumbent Mayor Philip Van Every, who said that his platform would be "honest, efficient government". His first run for public office had been in 1951 when he sought a position on the City Council, receiving the highest number of votes of any candidate and thus being appointed Mayor pro tem, then running successfully at age 39 for Mayor in 1953, the youngest man ever elected to the office in Charlotte. He was president of Lance, Inc., a peanut products manufacturer, having become its president at age 29. His grandfather had founded the company and he had started as a salesman at the age of 18. All members of the City Council, with the exception of Basil Boyd, were expected to seek re-election.

Also in Charlotte, Ira Wyche (Doc) Williams, 70, former advertising manager of The News and for many years a widely known newspaper executive, had died early in the morning at a local hospital, having been ill for several months and critically ill since the prior Saturday. He had resided in Charlotte since late 1929 when he had moved from Philadelphia to become advertising manager of the newspaper, a position from which he had retired in December, 1949. He was a native of Franklin County in North Carolina and had attended Oak Ridge Junior College and the Baltimore Dental College, both located in Baltimore. After leaving college in 1905, he had gone to Philadelphia where he entered the newspaper business, first being employed by the Philadelphia Inquirer and later becoming an advertising executive of the Philadelphia Bulletin and the North American, before the latter newspaper was taken over by the Philadelphia Record. He continued with the Record until resigning to join The News in 1929.

In Hereford, England, a man and a woman, 26 and 24, respectively, who had been married for three years and had two children, had discovered that they were brother and sister, and were working to obtain an annulment. Their parents had died in 1934 and she and her older brother were sent to an orphanage at a young age. She had been adopted by a family and had taken their last name, and the two had met in 1948, getting married three years later. Soon after the birth of their second child, who was five months old, a woman had told the mother her real surname, the same as that of her husband, and that he was her brother. She then looked up the records and found to her horror that the information was correct, and the couple parted immediately. Her husband was heartbroken, as he had been devoted to the children and the couple had been very happy. She did not know where he was at present, did not know what she would do, but said that even if she had to work at night, she would never be parted from her children. The registrar of records confirmed her story, saying that the wife had not listed her antecedents at the time of the marriage because she was an orphan and did not know her actual name. The husband worked as a traveling lumberjack and had several different jobs since leaving the Royal Air Force. The wife's adoptive parents had died in 1950. The Hereford County Council would hold an inquiry into the case, which was believed to have first reached the public and press through a chatty neighbor. Another neighbor said the previous night that her friend had told her how very much alike the couple had looked. Well, of course, as the mirror often affords the first ground for attraction, especially at a young age, when what is observed in the mirror is pleasant to the onlooker, thereby being translated into the other, consciously or unconsciously, as assumed complementary fitment. One could call that mutual vanity, or love at first sight, ordinarily socially deterred, of course, when encountered with known relatives.

In Boston, Robbins Mills was merged with American Woolen and Textron, Inc., to form Textron American, Inc., with Textron chairman Royal Little to become chairman of the new conglomerate and the current president of American Woolen, Joseph Ely, to become chairman of the executive committee. But they still must work out the problem of the Robbins bobbins fitting the American Woolen and Textron machines and whether the blue sky might fall, should Mr. Little's offspring someday become chairman.

On the editorial page, "Crime Causes—Color?, Nationality? No, but Poverty Is and Causes Crime"—which leads us to wonder who is making up these awkward, long headers during the week, in addition to other questions we have about the "new look" of the editorial page, including, as it has recently, some questionable material for presentation on the editorial page, more properly belonging as feature articles of the newspaper—tells of a radio program the prior Tuesday in connection with Crime Prevention Week, in which Police Chief Frank Littlejohn had been asked how the rate of crime in the Carolinas compared with that of the nation, replying that in the immediate vicinity of the Carolinas, it was running below the national average, a fact which he attributed largely to there being a very small "foreign population", that there were 97 percent native-born Americans in the vicinity.

It indicates that the crime rate in Charlotte did not compare very favorably with the national average and that immigrants were not responsible for Charlotte's crime rate. It thus wants to examine the causes of crime in some detail.

In his memorandum the previous month, requesting more police officers for Charlotte, Mr. Littlejohn had written that it was "imperative that this request be granted, as the increase in crime, not only in Charlotte but over the entire nation, is rapidly attaining alarming proportions." It indicates that the crime rate was independent of the number of crimes because of a growing population in Charlotte and that there had been no appreciable change in the crime rate, being about the same as other Southern cities. It provides a table of major crimes between 1951 and 1954, showing the raw number of offenses in Charlotte, as reported by the police. The crime rate throughout the South was higher, sometimes much higher, than in other parts of the country, and, albeit incidentally and immaterially, the South had a larger percentage of native-born population than any other region.

William T. Polk, in Southern Accent, had observed that if one told the average Southerner that the South was by far the most violent part of the country, the person would not believe the fact, and that if one were to provide the figures to bolster the statement, the average Southerner would say that there was something wrong with them, would suggest looking at the people, who were "kindly, easy-going, courteous and gentle". Yet those people also assaulted, maimed and murdered with abandon, as the homicide rate in the South demonstrated, being about ten times that of New England and three or four times that of other sections of the country.

It posits that national origin had nothing to do with that latter fact, that a study of Charlotte court records from between 1900 and 1952, made a couple of years earlier, had indicated that foreign-born citizens of the city were more law-abiding than natives, that not one of the one percent foreign-born of the city had been found guilty of a crime of violence during that time, and that a study of 1,463 "commercial crimes", such as fraud, forgery and malpractice, between 1950 and 1952, had shown that only eight such crimes had involved foreign-born citizens or a third of one percent of those crimes.

Neither did race have anything to do with crime, though the South had more black citizens than other regions and blacks were involved in much of the violent crime. It was not, however, because they were black, but rather because they were poor. Lewis E. Lawes, during his 28 years as custodian of the largest penal institution in the country, Sing Sing Prison in New York, with prisoners drawn from a population of 13 million, had discovered, as communicated in his book, 20,000 Years in Sing Sing, that economic status and background were the primary factors contributing to the development of persons becoming engaged in serious crime, that blacks from Harlem slums and whites from Cherry Hill, Hell's Kitchen and other New York ghettos came to prison in a ratio of 6 to 1 over some groups who had acquired higher economic security. No prisoners, he said, were received from Edgecombe Avenue, where relatively affluent blacks lived, or from the better Jewish neighborhoods.

Mr. Polk had made the same point in saying that black violence in the South was generally confined to the lower-class, that upper-class blacks probably indulged in crimes of violence little, if any, more than did upper-class whites.

Local Solicitor Basil Whitener, who had probably handled more major criminal cases than any other solicitor in the state, had said a couple of years earlier that since he had been solicitor, he had prosecuted only one major case out of Fairview Homes, the public housing project for blacks, but could not begin to count the number which had originated in the poverty and disease-ridden sections of the city, and that the same thing could be said of whites. He had also said: "Aside from the natural differences to be expected because of advanced progress in civilization of the white man, I'd say the crime rate is comparable in slum areas of both races. There are just more Negro slums." (That appears as one of the more racist, race-neutral statements we have seen coming out of Charlotte of that time, a little of this and a little of that, stumbling, grasping for hand-holds, into the modern era, while still clinging for security to old myths about the inherent nature of race, not accounting the while for the "civilization" process still taking place among the Scotch-Irish and other groups with unsavory atavistic traits inherent from the days of nose and ear-biting and throat-gouging. But we digress.)

Chief Littlejohn had at the time emphasized his agreement with the view expressed by Mr. Whitener, making the additional important point that "slum clearance doesn't mean slapping up four pieces of beaver-board around a $17 galvanized sink and bathtub… When I talk about slums I talk about the attitudes that go with them, and the people who exploit the Negro, in maintaining these areas and who take advantage of his position to get as much out of him for nothing as they can."

It concludes that national origin did not affect the crime rate, as true at present as when Jane Addams had started to awaken the nation to that fact with her observation that "the Italians are not gangsters in Italy". Nor did race. It observes that Thomas Parnell, the Irish patriot, had gotten to the main cause of crime when he told Henry George, author of Progress and Poverty, how, as a young father, he had gone into the street determined to hold up the first man he saw, to obtain money to buy bread for his child, with Mr. George then developing his point that "poverty is a crime". It thus finds that poverty was the crime to diminish if Crime Prevention Week was to be meaningful.

A piece from the Richmond News Leader, titled "Of Roast Chicken and Bottle Beer", tells of Word Study, published by G. & C. Merriam Co., offering during the month some notes by Ralph H. Lane of Wilson Teachers College regarding the decline of the past participle, that the person who advertised "corn beef" instead of "corned beef" was contributing to the downfall of the verbal form which once had formed a healthy part of English speech. Examples of the subtle transformation were plentiful, as no one any longer said "roasted chicken", only "roast chicken", "bottle beer", "bake beans", "hash brown potatoes", and "ice water". Mr. Lane had provided other examples as well along the same lines, such as "devil crab", "stuff peppers", "dice carrots", and "scallop tomatoes", but those had sounded foreign to the News Leader. It provides its own examples.

Yet, it indicates, "salted peanuts", "buttered almonds", "polka-dotted", and other such expressions were still used.

It finds that like most changes in the language, such gradual change made sense, that it was not whether it met the grammarian's rule book but whether it conveyed precise meaning that mattered, that nothing was conveyed by "skimmed milk" which was lost in "skim milk"—though we quite beg to differ on that one, as "skim milk" rhymes too closely with "slim milk", and appears to be intended to convey to the consumer the latter thought, whereas "slimmed milk" would make no sense. In other words, it is clever, subtle advertising meant to suggest that whole milk is for fatties.

It concludes that the day it would read that a baseball pitcher had thrown a "curved ball" would be the day it would wonder if something strange had not happened to the national pastime, suggesting that the ordinary rules of inflection, therefore, could be taken too far. But, is "curve ball" not the only correct form, in that instance, to avoid an ambiguity? as every ball is curved in its shape, as one would have difficulty throwing a polygonal ball, and so, literally, "curved ball" would imply a truistic redundancy, whereas "curve ball" implies the arc it describes through the air, even if that is an optical illusion, as Life had proven in 1941, though disproved to an extent in 1953. Call it an "arcing ball". But given the tendency of fast-talking sports argot during broadcasts, that would inevitably lead to a shortening to "arc ball", and, when hit out of the park, a "parked arc ball", which, in turn, would be shortened inevitably to "park-arc ball", until all original meaning was lost, and perhaps mangled by the likes of Dizzy Dean into something completely different, such as "sluggart balled out-a-here", which would bring howls from the English teachers again, and only lead to foul-balled controversy.

Drew Pearson tells of the Chinese Communist air superiority around Formosa enabling them to be bold and brash, with the Chinese and Russians, combined, having around 8,500 planes in the area, including those in Siberia, while the U.S. had about 2,500 combat planes in Japan, Okinawa, Korea and Formosa. The Communists could bring in strong reinforcements within about a day while it would take the U.S. two to three days to ferry planes across the Pacific. Russian fighter planes were generally more modern than those of the U.S., though the latter was ahead in strategic bombers. Russia had been claiming that it had 20,000 combat planes and the figure was about right. In addition, Russia had begun building jets about two years before the U.S. and its fighter fleet was reported to be completely modernized. Total combat air strength of the U.S. was estimated at around 12,000 planes. Those relative numbers were why Alexander de Seversky, the famed aviator and advocate of air power who had done much to prod U.S. aviation into action during and just before World War II, was now prodding various Senators regarding deficiencies in the Air Force. Simultaneously, Air Force commanders had been meeting in Colorado Springs to try to remedy those deficiencies.

Mr. De Seversky had advised that the only thing which would stop Russia from attacking the U.S. was a strong air defense and that the U.S. effort had been woefully meager, with the allotment for continental air defense in the new budget being "utterly inadequate". He had also warned that while the Communist Chinese might not be able to capture Formosa, their superior air power could pound it to pieces, and that to stop such a bombardment, the U.S. would be forced to engage in retaliatory bombing of the Chinese mainland, which could lead to general war. He told the Senators that the Communist Chinese Air Force could, by going over the Seventh Fleet and partially evading its air cover, completely destroy the physical and human assets of Formosa, that it was the Chinese Air Force, not its Army, which stood as the menace to the Nationalists. He went on to say that the island could be defended only by preventive action extending beyond its territory, as had been implicit in the President's statement that the U.S. had to be alert to any concentration of Chinese Communist forces "obviously undertaken to facilitate attack upon Formosa, and be prepared to take appropriate military action." Mr. De Seversky had concluded that the resolution recently passed by Congress had given the President power to attack any and all Chinese Air Force installations on the mainland at any time when, in the President's opinion, a concentration of it anywhere in China appeared to constitute a threat to Formosa. He cautioned, however, that such a preventive attack in defense of Formosa or a retaliatory bombardment of China after Formosa was destroyed, would most likely turn into a full-scale atomic war between the U.S. and Russia.

Aramco World tells of the history of women's millinery, which, while perhaps timely in 1955, is, these days and since the mid-1960's or so, unless one happens to be British royalty, about as timely as a piece would have been in 1955 regarding ladies' corsets, and so you may peruse its length and breadth at your leisure on your own, the picture accompanying the piece perhaps saying all one needed to know about the subject, even that, in 1955, communicating only hyperbole from fashion magazines and perhaps an occasional tv show, nothing of the kind typically being seen on the streets of the land without being accompanied by stares and snickers—dahling.

It does communicate the etymology of "millinery", from the 15th Century, at which time the finest felt, fabric and straw hats had come from the Duchy of Milan in Italy, called "Millayne bonnets", with Milan continuing to be at the time a producer of a superior straw hat.

It concludes that Oscar Wilde once had commented that fashion was such an ugly thing that it had to be changed every six months, which is apt for both men and women who are dedicated followers of fashion. We are not... That which one puts on is less important than what is left when one takes it off.

Aramco World, incidentally, was and still is a publication of the Arab-American Oil Co. out of Houston. How that relates to millinery remains to be seen, but the subject seems oily. In any event, as remarked above, the newspaper appears to be changing, and taking a turn for the worse, both as to its front page and editorial page.

A letter writer offers that "socialism" was defined in the dictionary as a theory of civil policy which aimed at the public collective ownership of land and capital and the public collective management of all industries. She thus finds that at a recent public hearing of the City Council on urban redevelopment, those who had spoken in opposition to the program were not using "socialism" as a dirty word but were only rationally stating facts as they were, as urban redevelopment was a socialistic program, which she believes had no place in American society. She thinks it would destroy individual enterprise. She also thinks that the editorial of February 12 had failed to explain urban redevelopment fully, only saying that the City Council had cringed when they heard the word "socialism", as she believes they should cringe, as it was contrary to a "democratic way of life".

So your solution is to maintain slums in the city and let the residents thereof fend for themselves until, somehow, they manage to find their way out of the generational cycle of poverty? That, in your opinion, is "free enterprise"? Free enterprise leading to more crime in the city.

A letter writer from Wadesboro indicates that the evacuation of the Chinese Nationalist forces from the Tachen Islands had enabled the Communist Chinese to take over another territory without firing a shot, raising their prestige in the eyes of the free nations of that area of the world, already questioning the intentions and strength of the West to defend them against Communism. He believes that the evacuation, plus the surrender of North Vietnam the previous year to the Communists, pointed up an important line of U.S. foreign policy, though the situations were not precisely similar, that when an area had become so infected with Communism, it was better to "amputate the gangrenous part" rather than waste valuable manpower and equipment in a hopeless effort to save it. He finds it a realistic approach to the problem, but that for it to be effective, its logical conclusion also had to be implemented, that being that while the areas in which the Communists held a commanding position should be written off, a firm stand against further expansion had to be taken thereafter. Thus, he finds, the question raised by the evacuation of the Tachens following the loss of northern Indo-China, was whether the second phase of that policy would be implemented. He indicates that the British were already asking for the abandonment of Quemoy and Matsu on the basis that the islands belonged to the Communists. He suggests that the lessons of the Munich Pact of 1938 ought provide the necessary precedent pointing to the danger of appeasement, and that it was time to draw a line of defense against further Communist aggression and internal subversion. While it would entail a risk of general war, there was nothing to be gained in the long-run from surrendering in piecemeal fashion the remainder of free Asia to the Communists.

A letter writer finds that actor Paul Douglas had been "unbelievably stupid and unbelievably tactless in Greensboro" recently when he made a crack about "sowbelly and segregation", that "he was almost as stupid as the sowbelly eaters and segregationists who raised so much cain [sic] that 'The Caine Mutiny Court Martial' tour [in which Mr. Douglas was appearing] was canceled", thus disappointing hundreds of Southerners like himself.

The reports had concentrated on the comment by Mr. Douglas that the South "stinks", then limiting his statement only to Greensboro—but he apparently had also made a comment that the South was a land of "sowbelly and segregation". But why do those two go together?

A letter writer agrees with a letter in the Tuesday edition regarding smog in Charlotte and also commends a story by reporter Dick Young and the pictures accompanying it on the same subject. She suggests that the City Council had treated casually one of the biggest problems facing the city, and suggests that when one of the members had said that the matter would work itself out, it caused her to wonder when, in 100 years?

The editors note that since the letter had been written, the Council had voted to revive the previously moribund smoke abatement program.

A letter writer responds to a letter regarding adultery, finding that the same woman had written a letter to another newspaper in which she had said that sex criminals ought be hung—which she had also said in an earlier letter to The News. He indicates that he was afraid of a person who wanted to destroy the mentally ill as if they were mad dogs and jail those who fell victim to their instincts. He thinks it might behoove the letter writer to read the thoughts of Jesus and the New Testament, with which, he believes, she was unfamiliar, as she had the "blood-thirsty, Hitlerian thoughts" communicated by her letters.

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