The Charlotte News

Wednesday, March 30, 1955


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports from Saigon in South Vietnam that National troops were concentrated at vital points throughout the city this date, after driving back an attempt by a private army to oust the U.S.-supported regime of Premier Ngo Dinh Diem by force, with 26 persons having been reported as killed and 112 wounded in the fighting, which had taken place for four hours early during the morning. None of the nearly 1,000 members of the U.S. diplomatic, military and economic missions had been among the injured. With the exception of the troop concentrations and a few roadblocks, there was little evidence of the battle which had broken out shortly after midnight between National units and the private army of the Binh Xuyen, a society of former river pirates, which reportedly had ten members killed and 20 wounded. The main thoroughfare in Saigon was functioning properly, as were the utilities. The U.S. special ambassador to South Vietnam, General J. Lawton Collins, had conferred with General Paul Ely, the French commissioner general to South Vietnam, regarding emergency measures to protect the foreign residents of Saigon in case of additional trouble. The two generals prepared to call on Premier Diem at his palace to discuss the situation and offer help in ending the civil strife. Heavily reinforced Army units stood guard around the palace. The Government stated that the green-bereted troops of Binh Xuyen had begun their attack by shelling the palace compound and the botanical gardens, where two battalions of paratroopers had been bivouacked. Five mortar shells had fallen into the palace garden, but the building had not been hit, and the Premier, who was inside, had not been injured.

The President, at his press conference this date, spoke against too much speculation and talk about war, stating that it did not serve the cause of peace. He said that he had no information indicating that the Chinese Communists planned to launch an attack soon on the Nationalist islands of Quemoy and Matsu. His remarks carried an implied rebuke to Admiral Robert Carney, chief of Naval Operations, who had been identified as the source of a prediction which had been provided journalists the previous week that the Communists would attack the islands on around April 15. The President, when asked, said that he would not recommend any form of reprimand to Admiral Carney. He also stated that he was not ruling out the possibility of such an attack by mid-April, but that he had no specific information to that effect. Upon further inquiry, he refused to provide any definite statement as to whether the U.S. would come to the defense of the two islands if they were attacked. The Formosa resolution passed earlier in the year by Congress gave the President authority to take whatever steps were necessary for the defense of Formosa and the Pescadores.

House leaders this date sought to wrap up action on a bill to postpone for an additional year about three billion dollars in corporate and excise tax reductions, a bill favored by the White House. House passage of the bill would send it to the President, a little more than a day prior to the April 1 effective date for those tax cuts, passed by the previous Congress. The Democratic proposal to provide everyone with a $20 annual income tax reduction was dead for the present year, that plan having been rejected by the Senate, and the joint conference committee having accepted the Senate version of the legislation.

The Agriculture Department this date authorized its Farmers Home Administration to make loans to fruit and vegetable growers in North Carolina and Mississippi who had suffered losses from freezing weather the previous weekend. In North Carolina, the loans would be available in 87 counties which had been previously designated for such loans because of drought losses, with the additional 13 counties of the state, all in the western section, being surveyed to determine whether growers there needed the loans.

In Raleigh, the State Senate Committee on Elections Laws and Senatorial Districts killed this date a bill to abolish civilian absentee voting in general elections.

In New York, in the trial of Mickey Jelke, margarine heir accused of inducing two women to enter prostitution, his defense counsel provided the summation to the jury, calling Mr. Jelke "a little toy poodle" pursued by the district attorney while a "lion", referring to a convicted procurer who had been a prosecution witness, roamed the streets freely. Defense counsel accused the prosecution of seeking Mr. Jelke only because of his name and prominence, letting the procurer go. He stated that he had high regard for the prosecutor but that all lawyers, regardless of the case, were interested in their batting averages and wanted to win. The rebuttal by the prosecution was to follow in the afternoon and the case was expected to go to the jury of ten men and two women the following day. The report indicates that the second trial had produced no new sensations which had not been revealed in the first trial, after which, the conviction was overturned on appeal because the judge had refused to allow the press to cover the prosecution's case because of its salacious testimony, seeking to protect the public, with the appellate court then determining that Mr. Jelke's Sixth Amendment right to a public trial was thereby violated. Prior to resting its case the previous day, the defense had sought to introduce testimony by a 25-year old man whom the woman who was the chief State's witness against Mr. Jelke had refused to discuss while on the witness stand, as she said it would tend to degrade her to answer questions about him. The judge had refused defense counsel's requests to introduce a transcript of a telephone conversation between the two and then to call the man as a witness.

Ann Sawyer of The News reports that Dr. Vance A. Black, the local dentist who had been accused of manslaughter in the death of his friend after he had hit him in the head with his fist, following a statement by the man that the dentist was an "S.O.B.", taking place at the Charlotte Elks Club on January 14, had been convicted this date of manslaughter and was given a 4 to 10-year sentence, suspended on condition that he pay a fine of $5,000 and obey other conditions. The judge said that he would have been compelled to send the dentist to prison were it not for his physical condition, the dentist having testified that he was suffering from cancer of the throat and had four operations on the right side of his body, including removal of a portion of his tongue. The dentist had claimed through his defense counsel that the man who had died was suffering from a heart condition, which had been the actual cause of death, rather than the hit to the head while the dentist believed his patient and friend to be intoxicated, confirmed by the coroner's blood-alcohol test during the autopsy. The victim had died five hours after being struck by the dentist, the dentist having testified that he did not intend to harm him and his weakened right side caused his right arm, with which he struck the man, also to be weak. Additional terms of the five-year probationary period were payment of court costs, payment of $2,500 into the school fund, payment of $2,500 to the clerk of court for use and benefit of the victim's family, to remain on good behavior, and to submit to the supervision of the State Probation Commission and to abide by its rules. The defense attorneys immediately gave notice of appeal to the State Supreme Court, there having been no intermediate appellate court at the time in North Carolina, and an appellate bond was set at $5,000.

In Hollywood, the 27th annual Academy Awards program was scheduled for this night, with the experts differing on who would win Best Picture, Best Actor, and so forth, with only the Best Supporting Actor category receiving agreement, that Edmond O'Brien would win for "The Barefoot Contessa". In the Best Supporting Actress category, the race appeared to be between Eva Marie Saint for her role in "On the Waterfront" and Katy Jurado, the Mexican actress who had played an Indian wife to Spencer Tracy's character in "Broken Lance". The international element in Hollywood believed that Dorothy Dandridge, the first black person ever nominated for a Best Actress or Actor award, would win for her role in the musical "Carmen Jones", to enhance U.S. prestige abroad. Others favored in the Best Actress category were Judy Garland, for her role in "A Star Is Born", and Grace Kelly, for her role in "The Country Girl". Many believed that Marlon Brando would win the Best Actor award for "On the Waterfront", as observers believed that the Academy could not go on much longer ignoring the man whom many regarded as the greatest living actor. But, the story notes, the late John Barrymore had never won an Academy Award either. Bing Crosby was also receiving attention for his leading role in "The Country Girl". Not surprisingly, there were no bets ventured on the Best Screenplay and Story awards. Likewise, no guesses are indicated for Best Director, won by Elia Kazan for "On the Waterfront", with the other four nominees having been Alfred Hitchcock for "Rear Window", Billy Wilder for "Sabrina", William Wellman for "The High and the Mighty", and George Seaton for "The Country Girl". The Best Foreign Language Film award would be presented to "Gate of Hell" from Japan. The contest for winner of Best Picture appeared to be between "On the Waterfront" and "The Country Girl", the other three nominees having been "The Caine Mutiny", "Three Coins in the Fountain", and "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers". "On the Waterfront" would take away the most awards, winning eight, having also received the most nominations, in twelve categories. The show would be telecast on NBC television from 10:30 until midnight, EST. To squeeze it to 90 minutes, it was paced pretty dame quickly, dispensing with the reading of the nominees for each category, scrolled across the screen at the start of the program, with no time allotted for insults and responsive slaps.

Incidentally, if you suspect that "Broken Lance" served to inspire the basic premise for "Bonanza", which premiered on NBC in 1959, with shades of "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" occasionally thrown in for comedic effect, you are probably correct.

On the editorial page, "North Carolina: A Borgia's Paradise" tells of most areas of North Carolina being ideal places for murderers to remain at large. Dr. Alan M. Moritz of Cincinnati, a professor of pathology at Western Reserve University in Cleveland, had addressed the eighth annual symposium of the Greensboro Academy of Medicine, asking why killers were safe and sound in many North Carolina communities, where there was no provision under state law for regular medical or expert examination for an unexplained or violent death. Thus, if a murderer was able to ensure that there were no unfriendly witnesses to his act, that there was no visible wound, or if there had been, to make it appear as having been the result of an accident, or if the body was found in a place where it would not cause suspicion of foul play, chances were good, according to the doctor, that the case would be considered a death from natural causes, assumed by the non-medical coroner.

It finds the scenario not to have been exaggerated, that the continuing system of a non-medically trained coroner in North Carolina was a shame to the state.

In one case, one of a woman's five husbands had been a North Carolinian who died of arsenic poisoning, with no autopsy having been performed at the time, and even if there had been, most North Carolina coroners having been unable to distinguish arsenic poisoning from other causes.

A year or so earlier, only 19 of the state's 100 county coroners were physicians. In Wilmington, not so long earlier, a coroner had thought a woman had died of a heart attack when in fact she had been shot, with the exhumation of the body later showing a bullet hole in her back.

There was no law requiring the training of coroners to any degree of professional competence and no law required that coroners be summoned in the case of death. A coroner or coroner's jury had to fix suspicion before calling for an autopsy, which anyone could perform.

It thus concludes that a complete reform of the coroner system in the state was presently needed. Otherwise, North Carolinians might as well hang a "Welcome Borgias" sign at the borders.

"Disorder in the President's Household" indicates that it was evident that the President would not be pressured for the time being into any desperate venture in the Formosa Straits, that he had personally discounted reports from high Navy sources that a Communist invasion of the offshore Nationalist islands of Quemoy and Matsu was imminent by the middle of April. But until the President had set the record straight, conflicting opinion regarding U.S. foreign policy had been coming from members of the Administration.

It finds it to have been a shocking display of official confusion regarding Government policy, further complicated by planted news stories, reports palmed off on the press and public as reflections of the Administration's moods, and some of the most irresponsible war talk to come out of the nation's capital in years. It asserts that the spectacle had not been reassuring, either to the people at home or those observing abroad among the allies, that it was time for the President to set his house in order, achieve a form of unity of thought and action within the Administration, and give the impression at least that matters of the gravest importance were being handled with sober good sense.

"A Question of Nomenclature" indicates that South Carolina, in paying off its Civil War-era debt, had called it "The War of Northern Aggression", and, it suggests, that should cause thorough confusion among historians. Gentlemen of the old school simply called it "The War", while others called it "The War Between the States", "The War for Southern Independence", "The Confederate War", etc.

Even contemporaneous writers of the time could not agree on how to refer to the war, as exampled by B. S. Osbon of the New York World, the first newsman to tell the North the story of the surrender to the South of Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor, calling the conflict in 1861 the "civil war". Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, writing from London in 1862 for Die Presse, referred to it as "the American Civil War", adding that "at least the working classes of England" were on the side of the North. Journalists who reported from the battle lines had called it such things as "Overwhelming Heartbreak" and "This Bed of Glory". One Southerner had proclaimed it "the War for God, Womanhood and Holy Right". The more dedicated Southerners called it "The Cause".

"One thing is for dang sure though. Nobody south of the Mason-Dixon line ever figured he was bleeding for anything so crass and unbeautiful as the preservation of slavery."

A piece from the Raleigh News & Observer, titled "Revolving Silliness", indicates that a citizen of the area had become embroiled in a dispute with Virginius Dabney, editor of the Richmond Times-Dispatch, regarding any statement involving the word "gentlemen", after Mr. Dabney had quoted Winston Churchill as saying that the civil war was "the last war fought between gentlemen". The piece regards the debate as "revolving silliness" on both sides.

It suggests that there was no better model of a gentleman in any time than that presented in both peace and war by Robert E. Lee. But, as reported by Virginians and their friends, the Army of Virginia seemed to be composed completely, not only of Virginians, but a mass of miniature "Marse Roberts". It suggests that maybe General Grant's Army was also comprised of gentlemen, though some Southerners had not been so certain of the fact regarding General Sherman's Army, not met on the field of battle by Virginians.

It finds it unnecessary to praise men in any past war by suggesting that wars since that time had not been fought by gentlemen, that the boys going into the service now from all over the country were just as much gentlemen as those who had taken up arms on either side during the Civil War. Indeed, it comments, probably more of the present stock could qualify by any standards of training as gentlemen.

During the Civil War, those who regarded themselves as gentlemen in the North often hired proxies to stand in their stead on the battle lines, while in the South, many who regarded themselves as gentlemen were exempt by law from military service if they owned a certain number of slaves. It posits that the cry that it was "a rich man's war and a poor man's fight" had been expressed nowhere in the past more accurately than in the South during the Civil War. "The great bulk of General Lee's Army had been composed of poor, often illiterate, generally ungrammatical young farm boys—many of them from plebeian North Carolina—who would never have dreamed of calling the home place a plantation or pretended to social superiority over other people." But they fought for their home country, not in any chivalrous sense over slavery.

It suggests that the reason the Civil War continued to be remembered was that a democracy had been divided and the two sides were fighting each other as in no other previous war.

"War of gentlemen? Bosh! It was above all others a people's war. If it had been only a collision of gentlemen, it would have been about as significant in history as Don Quixote's combat with the windmills."

Drew Pearson tells of the President sitting down with Congressional leaders this date to try to get U.S. foreign policy back on a bipartisan basis, that as he did so, the legislators and the public had been confused by a rash of completely conflicting headlines, the background of which confusion Mr. Pearson attempts to relate. Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Robert Carney, had given a briefing to newsmen, stating that the Communist Chinese were expected to attack Quemoy or Matsu on or about April 15. Mr. Pearson indicates that admirals were supposed to execute foreign policy and not formulate it, but that Admiral Carney had allowed himself to become euchred into the briefing, and the newsmen had been justified in producing alarmist headlines as a result of his statements. In addition, the State Department the following day had minimized the remarks of Admiral Carney, saying that the Communists were unlikely to attend the conference of Asian and African powers in Indonesia with blood on their hands, in turn producing a second set of sensational headlines.

Secretary of State Dulles had gone to Canada earlier and made remarks which had scared the Canadian Government "half out of its wits", the reason that Foreign Minister Lester Pearson had issued a statement divorcing Canada from any U.S. war in response to an attack on Quemoy and Matsu. Secretary Dulles had stated to the Canadians that the U.S. would definitely defend the two islands, situated four and five miles off the coast of mainland China. He also said that if the Chinese attacked, the U.S. would use atom bombs on the Chinese troop and artillery concentrations on the mainland. According to Canadian officials, the Secretary had assumed in his statements that war was inevitable, causing his listeners to be shocked over his apparent willingness to start a world war over the two small islands. In response, Foreign Minister Pearson had issued the statement of divorce from U.S. intentions on the matter, sending a cable to that effect to Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden, stating that the U.S. would go to war over the two islands.

A question had thus arisen as to whether Secretary Dulles represented the view of the President, and the columnist had concluded that he did not. The previous week, the President had complained in a staff conference that he did not wish to go to war over the two small islands without allies and that he was convinced the U.S. would have no allies if it tried to defend the two small islands. The President had said that he knew something about the importance of having allies in wartime and that he believed the U.S. would have allies in defending Formosa, itself, but not in defending the two offshore islands. Mr. Pearson concludes that the President was therefore in disagreement with Secretary Dulles and the Joint Chiefs, with the exception of General Matthew Ridgway, Army chief of staff.

Jacques Barzun, in God's Country and Mine, indicates that Americans should not think that they were the first to have civilization or that their civilization was so perfect that it should be offered as a model to others, that every civilization could justify itself in part and "outstrip us" in part.

The Aztec nation gave its chosen youth a year of bliss before sacrificing them to the gods, providing something equaled nowhere else, with the year wonderful while it lasted.

The chosen of other systems could boast of more lasting privileges, but those privileges did not last forever, and the modern understanding of civilization and progress lay in that perception.

He posits that if the world did not perish for violating the third commandment with its image-making, it would deserve the glory of having seen that a social good cannot remain a good, that it would fester, unless distributed as widely as possible. He finds that to be the meaning of equality—"a deliberate undertaking to behave as impartially as we know how toward all men, not a silly and impossible measurement of their deserts."

A letter writer from Salisbury indicates that residents of the state had been enjoying the General Assembly's efforts to seek taxes from some source in the state, that there had been great protestation against placing an extra tax on tobacco, soft drinks, hard drinks, foodstuffs, seeds, fertilizer, insecticides, newspaper, radio and television advertising, as well as other things. He suggests taxing bachelors for each and every year they had remained bachelors, at the rate of $10 per year, and other such suggestions. "Dan Cupid would get the 'shocking assist' thrill of his gold-tipped arrow life, no doubt, and the Old North State would be assured the boom period of all boom periods."

A letter writer follows up his prior letter of March 18, in response to a resident of Huntersville who had, in an article appearing in the newspaper on March 14, criticized Dr. H. L. Seay, superintendent of the Mecklenburg Sanatorium, for wishing to engage in private practice on the side, prompting the latter's resignation. He finds the criticism unwarranted and inaccurate, in terms of claiming that the county was subsidizing the physician in a certain amount, which the letter writer indicates was overstated, providing facts to support that contention. He finds the doctor to be "a good Christian gentleman" who ought be allowed to practice medicine on the side to earn his living, and hopes that he would withdraw his resignation, as he finds he had done a very good job as superintendent.

A letter writer from Morganton remarks on the so-called "whammy" bill before the General Assembly, to limit its use by the Highway Patrol to plain-view applications. He thinks that the State should repeal all laws pertaining to the SBI, the Highway Patrol, state, county and municipal law enforcement offices and officers, to reduce tax rates, and provide free rein to speeders, road-hogs, hijackers, robbers, moonshiners and other breakers of the law. He concludes by saying that he was supportive of the men in uniform and every device they had for keeping law and order and considers them to be his friends, though admitting that he had no sense.

The editors note that the legislators were men in uniform, also, and that the State House had killed the anti-whammy bill on March 22.

A letter writer indicates that Emily Bellows, member of the Charlotte Board of Education, who had recently tendered her resignation on the basis that she did not believe the residents of the city were any longer interested in proper education of pupils, had been aware of the great need for classroom space and had acted accordingly. She also had a keen interest in the trends of modern education "with its misplaced emphasis on the 'minors' to the detriment of the 'majors'." She finds that by her thought-provoking articles in local newspapers, talks before civic and social groups and reviews of current books on the philosophy and methods behind modern education, Mrs. Bellows had given the populace better understanding of what the educational problems were and had urged continuing parental concern and action as a solution. She indicates that many residents of Charlotte were also interested in the formation of a citizens' committee for the study of school policy and problems, and hopes that Mrs. Bellows would continue to be interested in education in general and the needs in Charlotte in particular, as she was needed.

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