The Charlotte News

Wednesday, March 16, 1955


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the President had said this date at his press conference that he saw no reason why atomic weapons should not be used in any conflict where they could be directed against strictly military targets, supporting the statements the previous day of Secretary of State Dulles, who had said that he believed tactical nuclear weapons could be employed in any major military action involving the U.S. By law, only the President could determine whether to use nuclear weapons. The two statements appeared to suggest that any future war involving the U.S. would be an atomic war to some degree. The President also said that he was just as concerned about a decline in stock market prices as he was about a price decline affecting any segment of the economy, but refused to express an opinion on whether the Senate Banking Committee's friendly inquiry into stock market speculation might have contributed to the recent stock price decline. He said that the country was trying to have an expanded economy and that an important factor in achieving it was necessarily confidence. He suggested that any group dealing with market operations ought proceed with caution to avoid damage to confidence, but added that he had seen nothing to indicate that the Committee was conducting its inquiry without caution. The President also said that he agreed with Vice-President Nixon that the Republican Party needed strengthening, but again ducked the question as to whether he would run again in 1956. He said that he believed the party could win the presidency in 1956 with any candidate worthy of the nomination, provided the party developed programs for the benefit of all people. A reporter had asked him to comment on the Vice-President's statement in a speech in California earlier in the week that the party was not strong enough to win in 1956 without the President as a candidate for re-election.

The Senate voted the previous day, 50 to 44, to kill the Democratic-sponsored individual income tax measure and passed by a voice vote the one-year extension of the corporate and excise taxes, set otherwise to expire on April 1, the latter measure having been favored by the President while the income tax cut had been heavily criticized by him. The substitute measure in the Senate would have provided in 1956 for a $20 tax reduction plus $10 for each dependent other than a spouse to families earning less than $5,000 per year. Five Democrats, Senators Harry F. Byrd and Willis Robertson of Virginia, Allen Ellender of Louisiana, Walter George of Georgia and Spessard Holland of Florida, joined with 45 Republicans to defeat the substitute measure, which had been offered by Majority Leader Lyndon Johnson. Senator William Langer of North Dakota, a Republican, voted with 43 Democrats for the measure. A previous vote of 61 to 32 defeated the House measure, which would have provided a $20 tax cut in 1956 to everyone. The passed measure regarding the corporate and excise taxes would now go to the House for action, that measure having been part of the House-passed bill.

The nomination of Judge John Harlan to the Supreme Court came before the Senate this date, with even opponents to the nomination conceding that he would be confirmed. He had been nominated the prior November following the death of Justice Robert Jackson in October, and his nomination, held up by some Senators who were opposed to it because he was from New York and they had wanted a nominee from states, especially in the West and Florida, which had been ignored in the past in producing Supreme Court and Cabinet nominees, while some may have questioned Judge Harlan's stance on integration because his grandfather, of the same name, had been the sole dissenting vote in the Plessy v. Ferguson decision of 1896, establishing the principle that separate-but-equal facilities would pass muster under the 14th Amendment Equal Protection Clause, overturned unanimously in Brown v. Board of Education the prior May 17. His nomination had been approved by the Judiciary Committee a week earlier by a vote of ten to four, with one abstention, and by the Government Operations Committee the following day, by an eight to four vote.

In Atlanta, it was reported that Communications Workers of America union leaders had begun a separate investigation of the cable cuttings in three states, in an effort to halt the vandalism which had begun with the strike of about 50,000 Southern Bell Telephone Co. workers, following eight months of negotiations having failed to produce a new contract satisfactory to both sides. The CWA district strike director in Atlanta said that the cable cuttings were obviously an underhanded attempt to give the union a black eye and that they resented it. The president of the CWA local in Atlanta and 12 other union members had been sworn in as sheriff's deputies to investigate the cuttings. Sixteen incidents of cable cuttings and damage to company equipment in Georgia had been reported, with a long distance cable between Atlanta and Charlotte having been damaged south of Lawrenceville, Ga., the previous night, with the other Georgia incidents having occurred in the area of Atlanta. Also the previous night, a cable was discovered damaged by an axe near Tupelo, Miss., while another cable of the St. Louis and San Francisco Railroad had also been cut near Tupelo, temporarily disrupting railroad communications. (Vandal Elvis at work, no doubt.) The company had offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the persons responsible for the vandalism.

In New York, the second trial continued of Mickey Jelke, margarine heir accused of inducing women into prostitution, after his first conviction at trial had been reversed on appeal because the judge had refused to allow the media to cover the prosecution's case because of its salacious nature, depriving the defendant of his Sixth Amendment Constitutional right to a public trial. A juror was dismissed from the panel and an alternate replaced him, after it was disclosed that a reporter had interviewed the juror the previous night regarding his real estate holdings. The dismissal came during the testimony of one of the women testifying for the State regarding how she had come to be coerced into becoming a café society call girl for Mr. Jelke. The witness had wept the previous day during her testimony describing her life of prostitution, prompting the court to recess for a time so that she could regain her emotional control, but she soon broke down again and the session was ended for the day. She repeated testimony she had provided in the first trial in 1953. According to the story, she had worn a "becomingly plain black dress with a green scarf tucked gently around the neck." She had told of meeting Mr. Jelke in 1951, living with him in his East Side apartment in Manhattan and that after a short time, he had told her that he needed money and that she could help him by taking fees from men she would meet through him. You will likely have to consult the Daily News for the more salacious play-by-play details.

Here is our $500 winning entry in the Jumble: Its catcher will cow your hide behind homeplate when defying its insistence.

In Raleigh, Motor Vehicles commissioner Ed Scheidt told a Senate committee this date that proposed legislation to establish uniform regulations and fees for justices of the peace throughout the state would provide motorists with more respect for the system of justice. The bill would require justices of the peace to maintain suitable office facilities and regular office hours, and would establish a fee system whereby the justice of the peace would receive $3.60 for each case tried, regardless of whether the defendant was convicted or acquitted. Under present law, some justices collected fees of two dollars while others received seven dollars or eleven dollars, and still others charged what they believed the market would bear. The uniform fee system would eliminate the profit motive. Mr. Scheidt said the current system brought disrepute because of the way some things were being handled.

Also in Raleigh, the House Roads Committee this date sent a bill to the floor by a recommendation of 22 to 17, which would restrict law enforcement officers in their use of so-called "whammy" electronic devices in apprehending speeders, providing that the officers would have to operate the whammies in full view of motorists. Several weeks earlier, the same bill had received a favorable report from the House Judiciary Committee No. 1.

In Charlotte, eight schoolchildren had been injured during the morning this date when a school bus in which they were riding failed to make a curve and turned over on its left side, all eight children having been taken, in two ambulances furnished by a funeral home, to Good Samaritan Hospital, where doctors were completing X-rays and believed that none of the children had been seriously injured. A State Highway Patrolman stated that the bus had been loaded with approximately 50 schoolchildren at the time of the accident and was being driven by a 16-year old in the 11th grade. The driver told a reporter at the scene that he was rounding a sharp curve and that the children had been talking and laughing excitedly, making too much noise, that he had told them of that fact and then suddenly the bus turned over. He contended that he had not taken his eyes off the road when he spoke to the children because he was already coming into the curve. The accident occurred on a road known as Stonewall Jackson Road, where Cowboy Road wound between Statesville Road and Derita Road. The driver was unfamiliar with Stonewall Jackson, but had to pick up children on the route and transport them to Huntersville Negro School because another bus was out of service during the morning. The accident occurred only four days after the newspaper had reprinted on the editorial page an article praising the excellent record of juvenile school bus drivers in the state, giving rise to the question of whether the article had been read by the youthful driver and so lodged in his mind that either he felt a certain sense of hubris at the general praise or, perhaps, even Olympian invulnerability to the slings and arrows of misfortune hurled by the three Fatalist sisters at mere mortal drivers not adequately overseen by Hecate along the byways and highways.

Ann Sawyer of The News reports that adoptive parents, fearing that a proposed bill before the Legislature would open confidential adoption records to attorneys and ruin the security of their homes, were besieging the local welfare office with telephone calls. Welfare superintendent Wallace Kuralt said this date that the parents were frightened to death about the results which would accrue if the bill were passed. State Senator F. J. Blythe of Mecklenburg County said from Raleigh that he would oppose the measure. Mr. Kuralt said that his office was opposed to any legislation which would reveal to anyone where an adopted baby had been placed, who the actual mother of the baby might be or any other information which would threaten the lifetime security of the adoptive parents and the child. Under existing law, all social information connected with an adoption case remained confidential. Mr. Kuralt said that the information would not, in any event, impact an attorney's determination of whether or not legal aspects of adoption had been met.

Hazel Trotter of The News, in the second of two articles regarding the high local tax rates causing some manufacturing executives to consider relocating from Charlotte, presents figures from the Mecklenburg County tax supervisor's office regarding personal property assessments for all businesses in Charlotte and Mecklenburg County for 1951, the last year before revaluation occurred for assessment purposes, and for the ensuing three years after revaluation, through 1954, showing, she reports, that real property valuations were 27 million dollars higher in 1952 than in 1951, while personal property valuations increased by over 47 million, that while some of the resulting increase was from normal growth in property values, most of it had come through the revaluation, the first undertaken since 1932. Personal property valuation had decreased by about seven million dollars in 1953, with the tax supervisor saying that it was the result primarily of the County Board of Commissioners reducing machinery and equipment appraisals by 27 percent. She also presents a table of the real property and personal property taxes paid by businesses during the previous four years, showing that the amount of taxes paid inside the city in 1954 was about $638,000 more than the amount paid in 1951, including additional taxes from new businesses, expansion of old ones, increase in valuations and increase in inventory listings. Taxes paid by firms outside the city were about $515,000 more in 1954 than in 1951, prior to revaluation.

On the editorial page, "Charlotte's Providence Road Puzzle Should Be Settled by Compromise" tells of the controversy surrounding the widening of Providence Road, whereby the State Highway Commission wanted to widen it to 78 feet, later reducing that increased width to 60 feet, finally junking the whole plan in disgust after receiving waves of protests from residents of the immediate area of the road, who insisted that it be no wider than 45 to 50 feet.

It indicates that it was time to put aside emotion and act sensibly in the matter, as the current 18-foot wide roadway was in poor condition and could not safely handle the 6,000 to 7,000 vehicles traversing it daily.

It finds that the proposal to widen it to 78 feet was impractical and unnecessary at the present time, and so the conflict was between a 50-foot wide road and a 60-foot wide road. It suggests that a third plan be devised, satisfying both state safety requirements and the desires of nearby property owners, consisting of two 25-foot wide lanes, a median strip of 4 to 5 feet in width, plus a 2 to 3-foot strip on either side to protect the trees. It finds that such a project would likely not decrease surrounding property values, in fact might cause them to rise. The only problem would be the median strip being so narrow, such that a car making a U-turn and pausing in the median area would stick out on one side or the other, or both. But compromises were seldom foolproof and it finds that the advantages of the alternate plan outweighed its disadvantages.

It urges prompt action to widen the road.

Do it now for the sake of providence and Stonewall Jackson.

"An Airport Authority? No Thanks" tells of a proposal to establish an autonomous airport authority being seriously discussed, which would sever the airport from direct control by the City Council. An advisory committee presently made recommendations and the Council then acted on them. The committee had done a creditable job of diagnosing the needs of the airport and suggesting remedies, with one of its accomplishments having been the construction of a new terminal. A long-range master plan for airport development would not require a separate airport authority, as the Council had shown that it was air-minded, following the lead of the conscientious advisory committee. (We do not know whether the Council liked the idea of being called "air-minded", but we pass on from that...)

It posits that a separate authority might become a special pleader for special activity and lose sight of other essential related activities. It finds that generally, efficiency of municipal government and community development did not come from division of municipal functions, but rather from strong, coordinated efforts.

A piece from the Greensboro Daily News, titled "'For I'm a Tar Heel Born…'", tells of Bill Sharpe having started an argument recently in State Magazine regarding why North Carolinians left their home state, after a man who had married a woman from Greensboro had written to Mr. Sharpe the previous month from Norwich, Vermont, telling of having spent two years in North Carolina, mostly as a graduate student and part-time instructor at UNC, during which time he had accumulated several thousand dollars worth of education, scholarship money from his instructor position, while only having to pay automobile tax. He also related that he had been married to a North Carolina beauty who had received many thousands of dollars worth of State-subsidized education. He capped his missive by saying that North Carolina had received nothing in return for its benefits bestowed on the couple, stating that he felt embarrassed about his "shameless pillage" of the state. The writer had indicated that like many of the 22 percent of native students educated at UNC who annually left the state, he had wanted to return, prompting him to wonder why they had left in the first place.

A Charlotte writer, writing in rebuttal, informed that North Carolina had recently hired some New Yorkers to perform a survey on marine resources, costing about $50,000, with the result being so inadequate that even the Board of Conservation & Development, which had hired the researchers, had refused to endorse it, the Charlotte correspondent therefore indicating that the survey was not only worthless, but could have been compiled and correlated better by persons trained in North Carolina, venturing the opinion that the reason so many young people educated in the state wound up drifting away was because of the large percentage of out-of-state members of the faculties of the North Carolina colleges and universities. Poor salaries could not account for the exodus as foundations and subsidies from other sources supplemented salaries, enabling North Carolina companies to outbid others in filling key jobs.

The piece indicates that people did not love the state because it was great, but rather that it was great because people loved it, including Yankees, Midwesterners from Chicago, and a large number of adopted citizens who were no less native to the climate because they were not born in the state. "Somehow those who love the land must combine their talents to assure North Carolina continuing greatness."

Drew Pearson indicates that Democrats had taken a long step toward eliminating two of their primary campaign issues, giveaways by the Administration and helping small business, when Congressman Carl Vinson of Georgia, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, had balked over giving a hearing to the Small Business Committee regarding the sale of 11 Government-owned synthetic rubber factories, following objection to the giveaway by fellow Democrat Wright Patman of Texas, chairman of the latter Committee, in the form of a resolution introduced with Congressman Sid Yates of Illinois, pointing out the unfairness of the giveaway of the synthetic rubber factories. Mr. Vinson had even challenged the veracity of Mr. Patman by asking, when he appeared before the Armed Services Committee, whether he was speaking on behalf of the Small Business Committee or as an individual member of Congress, to which Mr. Patman had said that his Committee had not had time to to meet but that the majority of members had given him permission to represent them, and that he had also conferred with the ranking Republican member. When it was suggested by a Republican member of the Armed Services Committee that Mr. Patman place in the record the names of the members who had authorized him to speak for them, Mr. Patman had replied angrily, and, eventually, Mr. Vinson had agreed not to do so.

Mr. Patman then explained how his resolution would stop the sale of the rubber factories on March 26, and Mr. Yates presented a report which impressed even hostile members of the Armed Services Committee. The latter had shown that under the Administration policy of giving away the factories, 87.5 percent of all rubber production would be in the hands of the big four tire companies, who had worked together to control the sale of tires. Shell Oil, for instance, which had taken over the wartime Government-owned rubber factory in Los Angeles, had a contract with Goodyear and Firestone to sell them rubber, in exchange for which, Goodyear and Firestone would sell Shell tires, distributed to the public through Shell service stations. Congressman Yates had shown that any Shell dealer who tried to stock any other brand of tire competing with Goodyear or Firestone would lose his Shell franchise. Standard Oil also had a deal with U.S. Rubber to make Atlas tires, sold exclusively through Standard Oil service stations, such that no other tire could be sold by Standard Oil.

Mr. Pearson concludes that the Eisenhower synthetic rubber plant sale plan, according to Congressman Yates, would strengthen the monopoly of the big tire-makers by placing all Government rubber factories in the hands of Shell, Goodyear, U.S. Rubber, Goodrich, Firestone, Phillips Petroleum, Texaco, Sears Roebuck, Anaconda Copper, Endicott Johnson, and Dunlop Tires of England.

The Congressional Quarterly tells of grassroots among Democrats looking favorable for 1956, as during the 1954 midterm elections, Democrats had made important gains in contests for municipal, county and state offices. Former DNC chairman Stephen Mitchell had likened the party's midterm victory to "an iceberg, because we picked up so much strength at the grassroots", not obvious in the Senate and House races. A DNC survey of the midterm elections had found that in a number of important counties, the Democrats had either swept all or virtually all of the offices with the greatest majorities since the 1930's. It also showed that the Democrats had gained in three or more counties in each of the states of Colorado, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, New Mexico, Oregon and Pennsylvania.

Democrats, however, had suffered losses in at least three counties, one in Florida, one in Illinois and one in Utah.

Large Democratic gains had been made in state legislatures, with Democrats gaining a total of 500 seats in the midterms, 397 in state lower houses and 103 in upper houses. Democrats had picked up a total of 42 legislative seats in Connecticut, 25 in Missouri, 24 in New Mexico, 22 in each of Indiana and South Dakota, 21 in Arizona and 20 in each of Michigan and Montana. Other states in which Democrats had gained 15 or more legislative seats were Delaware, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Oregon and Wyoming. Democrats had captured lower houses in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Missouri, New Mexico, Montana and Washington and the State Senate in Connecticut, plus both houses in Delaware.

Republican gains in the midterms had been fairly limited, picking up only five legislative seats, one state senate seat in each of Nevada, Oklahoma and Utah, and one house seat in each of Tennessee and Georgia.

Heading into 1956, the parties controlled almost evenly the state legislatures, with Republicans controlling both houses in 20 states and Democrats, in 19, with divided control in seven states, while Nebraska and Minnesota had nonpartisan legislatures.

In gubernatorial contests in 1954, out of 34 races, Democrats had won 19, replacing Republican governors in eight states, and coming close to winning in three others.

A letter from William Faulkner, addressed to the Memphis Commercial Appeal, indicates that he had read a letter to the editor of a man from Tennessee, in which the latter had suggested that the black inhabitants of Memphis slums could nail up their ratholes, provided they were "not too shiftless" to do so, and that the white investigating groups would do much better to come to Lewis County where they could find plenty of white people deserving of their offices. Mr. Faulkner questions whether it meant that for every rathole which Shelby County blacks had, Lewis County white people had two, finding that such could not be right since white folks, not being black, were not shiftless, and therefore, for every rathole which a Shelby or Lewis County or Lafayette County, Miss., black person had, a Shelby or Lewis County or Lafayette County white man could not have any, but finding that position also not to hold water because there were more rats than people, such that no matter how unshiftless, the white man was going to have a rathole. "So, at what point on the scale of the Negro's non-ratholes does the white man gain or earn one or anyway have one rathole? Is unshiftless twice as unshiftless as shiftless, giving the white man twice as many ratholes as the Negro man, or does this get us into the old insoluble problem in amateur physics about how much is twice as cold as zero?"

A letter writer tells of having just visited a dying man who had cancer, that the only thing which could be done for him was to make him as comfortable as possible and take care of a few of his financial needs, but that no charitable organization in Charlotte would help because he was not eligible. The writer suggests that everyone was eligible for charity when they needed it. She relates of his hardship and indicates that she knew that he was not alone in that situation, wonders who would be responsible for such people if charitable organizations were not, that people ought to be their brother's keeper, and that the man in question definitely had to be one of the needy or she did not know who was.

A letter writer indicates that a premature letter to Governor Luther Hodges from Kelly Alexander, the North Carolina black leader, asking for support for the immediate repeal of "discriminatory racial legislation", would do more harm than good to the efforts of the NAACP. He finds that many people in the state were becoming reconciled to the idea of integration of the schools in time, but given Mr. Alexander's appeal, would become defiant, as he was becoming. He asserts that the white man had spent thousands of years producing his civilized state and that when black people had learned to be as fully able to take advantage of their life's opportunities as the white man, then they would become the equal of the white man, that the black man had not thus far done so in literature, music, social sciences, medicine or art, nor had come close to the white man's standards in morals, ethics or hygienics. He finds it stupid to suggest that the white man did not give blacks a chance, that there were many who sought to keep the white man backward and enslaved, that there was plenty of opportunity if one took it. He finds that blacks said that they were not looking for handouts, sympathy or the right to mingle, and so he believes their leaders ought organize not to fight the white man for unrealistic concessions of vague equality but should, instead, seek to raise the status of black people to moral, ethical, hygienical and intellectual equality.

In short, his argument was that there was no more discrimination against the racial minority by the majority than there was against the racial majority, itself, and that if only the minority would seize the opportunity, as the majority had, with the Bible, the law, soap and Plato, why everything would be hunky-dory, or honky-dury, as clean as a hound's tooth, that all of that supposed discrimination by some members of the majority against members of the minority was only in the heads of the minority, that, in America, opportunity was there for the taking.

Take, for example, the school bus accident recounted on the front page. The eight children were not consigned to transportation to Good Samaritan in two ambulances provided by a funeral home because the white-operated ambulance services would not take them on the basis of discrimination: "They're what? No, we can't handle that trade. Sorry, call the funeral home." No, it was because of the legitimate concern over the hygienicals, that the black cooties might be transferred to the white patients during the next ride and thus there would be the expensive need for sterilizing the entire ambulance prior to any future use. And who would pay for that? Not the impoverished black people, certainly.

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