The Charlotte News

Thursday, March 3, 1955


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports from Fort Bragg, N.C., that Sgt. William H. Olson this date had been sentenced to two years confinement at hard labor and a dishonorable discharge from the Army, following his conviction by a court-martial of charges of collaborating with the enemy while a prisoner of war in Korea. He would also have to forfeit all pay and allowances. He was convicted of three of the seven specifications charged against him, based on making a Christmas Day anti-American speech, praising enemy treatment of prisoners of war, and writing pro-Communist articles for the prison camp newspaper. He told the press afterward, with tears in his eyes, that he believed he was not the only person on trial in the case, that every man who had been a prisoner of war or who would be a prisoner of war was on trial with him. The charges on which he was found not culpable included informing on fellow prisoners and making propaganda recordings for rebroadcast. The case was subject to review by the staff judge advocate at Fort Bragg, who would submit recommendations to the commanding general of the base. The trial had lasted 2 1/2 weeks and had heard the testimony of 31 prosecution and 29 defense witnesses.

Aside from special occurences in the news, such as Hurricane Hazel, for the first time in all the years of daily editions of The News which we have examined from 1937 through 1955, this is the first one wherein there is absolutely no news, save in a couple of fillers, presented on the front page from outside the state of North Carolina.

In Raleigh, the biennial session of the General Assembly continued, with several bills introduced.

In Charlotte, a 21-year old man was convicted the previous day by a jury of shooting and robbing another man and then stealing his car, was then sentenced to ten years in prison this date, with two years for auto theft suspended.

Also in Charlotte, five of nine persons charged in a string of store breakings the previous week received jail or road sentences this date in Superior Court, and four other defendants were given probationary sentences. A couple who had been arrested as part of the ring and had their pictures in the newspaper along with a story the previous week telling of their being married while in jail, both received prison terms, the husband, 18, involved in the largest number of break-ins, eight, receiving two to three years, and his 17-year old wife, receiving 12 to 18 months in the women's division of Central Prison in Raleigh. They had been married one week earlier. Many happy returns...

Ann Sawyer of The News indicates that the creation of a separate judicial district for Mecklenburg County, with another resident Superior Court judge to be added, was viewed locally as the first of three steps to obtain more weeks of court in the county. Local attorneys expressed satisfaction with the law which had passed the previous day in the General Assembly, providing for increase of judicial districts from 21 to 30, with Guilford County, in addition to Mecklenburg, receiving a second resident regular judge, each receiving a salary of $12,500 per year plus $2,500 in travel expenses.

Dick Young of The News tells of hopes having brightened this date for inclusion of the $250,000 Memorial Hospital planning bond issue on the May 3 election ballot, after the City Attorney had conferred by telephone with the City's New York bond attorneys during the morning. The bond attorneys had previously stated that the issue ran afoul of existing state law because the $250,000 was for planning of the project only, and thus the resulting bond, if passed, might prove worthless. The City Attorney was going to refer the matter to the Mecklenburg legislative delegation with a request that they pass special enabling legislation to permit the bond issue to be on the ballot.

Also in Charlotte, a long-term controversy over Sardis Church property this date reached a compromise settlement in the Superior Court, wherein the parties agreed that the the trustees of the Sardis Presbyterian Church could take a 60-day option to purchase the property in question for $62,500. The controversy had arisen when the Sardis ARP Church congregation changed its membership to Southern Presbyterian and continued to hold services in the ARP Church, with the latter's trustees and the synod trustees contending that the property belonged to the group which remained loyal to the ARP denomination.

Austin Adkinson, in the last of a series of reports on the aftermath of Hurricane Hazel of the prior mid-October and its impact on the beaches of the Carolinas, imparts that the hurricane had provided insurance companies with a tremendous public relations problem plus financial headaches, as the fine print in the policies providing for their coverage excluded water and wave wash damage, producing complaints from the insured property owners. Insurance company spokesmen said that every effort had been made to settle claims fairly and equitably. But many property owners would bear a grudge for many years to come against the insurance companies. Property owners complained that just because many settlements had been made, did not mean that they were satisfactory settlements, that many had settled out of expediency to avoid having to go to court.

That's all there is this date, the national and international news having been blown off the page apparently by the aftermath of the hurricane, the Legislature and the occurrences locally. Candidly, it's more than a little boring. We hope soon that the newspaper gets back to its more usual regimen of both front page news and editorials, quickly becoming now a small-town type newspaper, devoted primarily to parochial interests. It may have been important in 1955 to understand some of the intricacies of these local stories, but 67 years later, it doesn't really matter too much, now does it?

Wake Forest College basketball coach Murray Greason expressed dismay at his star, Dickie Hemric, having been left off the Associated Press All-America team, as told on the sports page. That is not very important at this point in time either. On this date, Wake Forest would beat UNC in the opening round of the second annual ACC Tournament, 95 to 82, also not particularly important.

UNC 94, Duke 81. That's important today, March 5, 2022. Enough said...

Ukraine will win the war.

On the editorial page, "Smoke: A Dollars-and-Sense Story" tells of the City Council the previous day having displayed enthusiasm over inaugurating a new smoke abatement program, having abandoned a previous one in 1952. The chief engineer for Asheville's smoke abatement program had spoken before the Council and had made a favorable impression that smoke abatement paid off in profits for businesses, as they would consume less fuel through proper firing methods of their boilers. He had estimated that Asheville had lost nearly $500,000 annually from energy loss prior to its smoke abatement program being launched. There was also damage to clothing, merchandise, buildings and crops from heavy emissions of smoke.

There was also the health factor, with a town in Pennsylvania in October, 1948 having reached such toxicity from smoke and smog that 6,000 people were impacted, including 20 who had died. The first killer smog had occurred in Belgium's Meuse Valley in 1930, with 60 fatalities recorded.

Ordinarily, prevailing weather conditions were sufficient to clear the air, but when an inversion occurred, impurities discharged into the atmosphere could not be carried off quickly by wind or rain.

It finds the Asheville program outlined by its chief engineer to be sound and sensible, based on education and salesmanship, as well as enforcement. It was primarily designed to teach operators of fuel-burning equipment how to operate it more efficiently. It urges the City Council to make arrangements forthwith for conducting an engineering study of the smoke problem, which could be handled without cost to the City by a smoke abatement committee of U.S. coal producers, and would lay the groundwork for an effective program.

"Dragging Feet" urges North Carolinians to follow the advice of Governor Luther Hodges to be heard on vital issues before the 1955 General Assembly, which had, in two months, only barely scratched the surface of the major problems facing it, with little headway made in some matters. With only 30 days left in the regular session, legislators, it suggests, would have to hustle, sacrificing words for deeds.

"High Voices in the Wilderness" begins by quoting from Alice conversing with the Mad Hatter, causing the reader to wonder whether the newspaper was saying something this date about smoke and mirrors, indicates that the atmosphere in the current session of the General Assembly was one of emergency, with segregation, tax revenue, highways, redistricting and water resources all requiring momentous decisions. Yet, the leading topic of conversation in Raleigh was the "whammy", speed-detection device, with plenty of rhetoric flying on both sides of the matter as to whether or not it should be used.

Recently, one of the legislators had proposed that the state should pass a law making it illegal for drivers to blink their lights at oncoming cars to warn of the presence of a whammy ahead, enabling cars to slow down. The piece questions whether that was not the purpose of the entire highway safety program.

"Determination" indicates that members of the Charlotte City Council had stated the previous day that they planned to do a thorough job of trying to resolve the problem with the issuance of bonds for the planning of a new wing of Memorial Hospital to accommodate black patients, after the bond attorneys in New York had informed them that state law did not allow for bond issuance based on planning of a project, because if the project never came to fruition, the bonds would be virtually worthless. It indicates that Mayor Philip Van Every had demonstrated admirable determination to see the matter through, despite the legal difficulties, and that the resoluteness was bound to produce results, if maintained.

A piece from the Richmond News Leader, titled "At Home at Sea", tells of the Navy having launched the previous week a new destroyer which attempted to make its crew quarters more like home, with three stacked bunks rather than four, the ship painted in pastel shades, with the mess tables seating four men in swivel chairs rather than the usual eight men in fixed chairs, and affording a nightlight for reading in each bunk. It heartily endorses the latter added accouterment, as men in the service often discovered the new worlds afforded by books.

It issues the caveat that should a war occur, however, the Navy would rip out all of the improvements and go back to the way things were or even worse.

"Many a man can reminisce that he rode to war in the gorgeous ballroom of a luxury liner—amid a jungle gym of steel pipes, canvas, and gear. About the biggest blessing a serviceman can hope for is a good skipper. And they are largely a matter of chance, not industrial design."

Drew Pearson indicates that Congressman Wright Patman's Small Business Committee was taking a careful look at what had occurred to small business in Kansas City when the Kansas City Star had cracked down on companies which advertised with other newspapers, with the Committee interested not only in what had happened to the small weekly newspapers which had lost their advertising as a result but also to the small businessmen of Kansas City who had been told that they could not advertise in any other publication than the high-priced daily Star unless they wanted to forgo advertising completely in that latter publication. The Star and its advertising manager had been criminally convicted for a violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act based on the practices, after the publisher, Roy Roberts, was dismissed from the case on the last court day before the beginning of trial. The Committee wanted to know why the owner of KCMO Broadcasting and of the Crown Drug Company had testified in that trial that when he had applied to the FCC for higher radio power, he had been twice summoned to the Kansas City Star by its treasurer, telling him that he did not think they had any business in radio broadcasting. Afterward, the Star carried fewer of their radio listings until the owner reported the matter to the chairman of the FCC, who had then written a letter to the Star, after which the listings were published again. Another witness, operator of Lullaby House, a group of children's stores, testified that when he had inserted a small ad in the Catholic Register, he was called to the Star and coerced to discontinue his advertising in the latter publication to avoid losing space in the Star. A former advertising man for the Star had testified that he had a conversation with a professional baseball player, Jimmy Gleeson, who ran a florist shop in Kansas City, regarding the fact that he was advertising in the Journal-Post as well as in the Star. The advertising man said that the advertising manager of the newspaper had told him to communicate to Mr. Gleeson that he would have to drop his advertising in the Post or there would be no cooperation from the Star's sports page, meaning that his name would no longer appear there. Mr. Gleeson had complied and ran all of his advertising in the Star.

Mr. Pearson concludes that Congressman Patman and the Committee were convinced that the great majority of newspaper publishers did not operate in the manner of the Star, but wanted to examine the entire situation carefully.

Gordon Gray, UNC president, in an excerpt from his annual report to the Governor and Board of Trustees, looks at the problems of education in the state, tells of it approaching a major crisis with state tax revenues declining during 1955 and the prospect of barely being able to balance the budget after years of surpluses, while increasing enrollment and other issues required the public schools and the Consolidated University to seek increases in budgets.

The state was already doing more than its per capita income would relatively allow for education, spending $143 per pupil in 1950-51, 41st among the states, but equating to 3.02 percent of the state's income for that year, seventh among the states. The same was true in higher education, the state having spent in 1949-50 1.42 percent of the personal income received in that pursuit, with only Mississippi within the Southeast having spent more relative to per capita income, and ranking ninth nationally in percentage of income spent for education.

North Carolina needed to improve agricultural production and income, industrialize and diversify, and educate and train its people for the increasing demands of the modern world. Advances had been made in recent generations in those categories, since 1920 having more than doubled the people engaged in industry, having increased by more than six times the industrial output, having increased three-fold agricultural production, and multiplied by 12 times expenditures for public education, increasing the number of high school graduates ten-fold and college graduates by seven times. Yet, per capita income remained relatively low, with many farmers farming too few acres and being too dependent on tobacco and other cash crops, and industry not being enough diversified, with low-wage categories predominating. That impacted education, as the state still provided students with less than the national standard in education.

He urges continuing progress in those three areas, for the state still had a long way to go. The University would play a major role in that progress, with needs in undergraduate education and specialized technical training at higher levels to carry on social, agricultural and industrial research.

The University would open the following year the psychiatric wing of the North Carolina Memorial Hospital in Chapel Hill, to improve mental health in the state. The basic demands for scholarship, teaching and research guided the budget demands of the University, selecting priorities to enable funding, within the means of the state, for the physical plant and research. The University was not seeking support for major new programs of instruction or service, planning four relatively minor programs, completing the planned development in home economics taught at Woman's College in Greensboro, providing for a school of industrial design and an experimental industrial program at N.C. State, and a program for training medical technologists at UNC in Chapel Hill.

Doris Fleeson indicates that Republicans were upset at every report that the President was spending weekends at his Gettysburg farm, where he and the First Lady were remodeling and preparing their first home of their own, having lived in military or government or Columbia University housing throughout the President's adult life. Republicans were increasingly concerned that the President, in spending his weekends at leisure, might not intend to run for re-election in 1956 and so, at every opportunity, were trying to obtain a commitment from him, though at each juncture being frustrated.

The President was flattered by the "Draft Ike" movement, both in 1952 and currently, and Republicans believed they could appeal to his sense of duty again to induce him to run for re-election. But the President knew he had to fight very hard to win the Republican nomination in 1952 and had lost Congress to the Democrats in 1954, and was consistently trying to convince Republicans that the party needed to develop young talent and that it could not be built around one man. He would also not undertake another "crusade" as he had in 1952, as he had come to realize that the basic framework of the domestic and foreign policy which he found in operation had to be in place, and though he had seen much which he considered wrong with government, the country was and remained prosperous.

One of the President's close military associates believed that he would not run again if the country remained at peace, with more women holding that view than men within official circles in Washington.

A story which could not be confirmed had it that the Republicans had chosen San Francisco as their convention site for 1956 to make it easier to nominate a progressive-moderate, Chief Justice Earl Warren of California, should the President decide not to run. That version was especially popular in television circles, as they could not see any other good reason why they should be forced to spend an extra million dollars to cover the Republican convention instead of having both conventions in Chicago.

A letter writer takes issue with the newspaper the previous week for having published a small story on an inside page about a 12-year old boy who had saved the lives of two men who had been drowning, while in the same issue on the front page having presented a story and photograph of a couple who had been married while in jail awaiting trial for a string of store break-ins. The writer finds that the heroics of the 12-year old should have been the front page story, while the other story should have been further back in the newspaper. The writer, who identifies him or herself only as "Charlotte Teacher", states that too much was being said and published about the small percentage of youth crime and too little about the hundreds of "noble young boys and girls" who were preparing themselves for upstanding citizenship.

A letter writer finds it shocking and saddening that the front page had devoted space to the two accused thieves, the same to whom the previous letter referred. She indicates that if they had come to the point of regarding dishonesty as amusing and lending glamour to the accused in the press and on television, then the society had come a long way from the standard of integrity long earlier established and at one time followed by the citizens of Charlotte.

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