The Charlotte News

Friday, April 1, 1955


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that foreign aid head Harold Stassen this date had backed away from a direct clash with a Senate Investigations subcommittee regarding rights of its staff to question his employees, three of whom he had sent to the subcommittee's headquarters with announced orders to answer all questions from the staff, despite the fact that a Foreign Operations Administration spokesman had said the previous night that they would not show up. They had been a half hour late and brought their own private attorney, with the delay having spawned speculation regarding whether there had been intervention in the dispute by the White House or Senators close to Mr. Stassen, after he had taken the position the previous day that the subcommittee staff should not question his employees unless he or one of FOA's top lawyers was present. He was only challenging the questioning by staff, not by Senators of the subcommittee. His stand, however, had angered subcommittee chairman Senator John McClellan of Arkansas and other members.

From Manila, it was reported that violent earthquakes had occurred in the southern Philippines this date, causing possibly hundreds of deaths and untold amounts of property damage. The earthquake had transpired over a period of eight hours, causing the ground to split open, sand and hot water to emanate from the cracks and some houses to topple into Lake Lanao. The epicenter was calculated to have occurred 600 miles south and southeast of Manila, with its greatest intensity having been recorded in a city of 40,000 people on the northern tip of a province on Mindanao.

In Jackson, Miss., the State Legislature passed a bill which would prohibit white students from attending State-supported schools with black students.

In New York, Mickey Jelke, margarine heir who had been accused of inducing two women to become high-priced prostitutes and to provide him with the bulk of the proceeds, was convicted again. He had been convicted in a first trial two years earlier and sentenced to 3 to 6 years in prison, but that conviction had been reversed on appeal because of the denial of his Sixth Amendment right to a public trial in that the trial judge had barred the press from the prosecution's case because of its salacious matter. The ten men and two women of the jury had deliberated for more than ten hours before reaching their verdict, finding him guilty on two counts of compulsory prostitution, one of which was in the form of attempted inducement with respect to one of the two women. Mr. Jelke was visibly shaken as he stood beside his attorney facing the jurors, when the verdict was announced. He had not testified at either trial. Six former call girls testified against him, including the two principals. The judge had instructed the jury that it did not make any difference whether the two principals had been engaged in prostitution before meeting Mr. Jelke, after evidence had been adduced by the defense that they had been so engaged. One of the principals had an illegitimate child at the age of 17 before meeting Mr. Jelke. After the verdict, the defendant remained free on $45,000 bail.

Also in New York, the Federal District Court sentenced Henry Grunewald, Washington fixer and influence peddler, to five years in prison and fined him $10,000, the maximum penalty, for his conviction for being part of a conspiracy in a $160,000 tax-fix case involving alleged bribes paid to two IRS agents, who were acquitted. The sentencing judge compared Mr. Grunewald and his two convicted co-defendants with "termites which could undermine a structure until it collapses." The court sentenced lawyer Max Halperin, who had been convicted on four counts under the indictment, including two counts of grand jury witness tampering, to a five-year jail term and an $8,000 fine. The sentencing of the other convicted co-defendant, Daniel Bolich, former assistant commissioner of the IRS, ill in a Brooklyn hospital after a heart attack, was postponed until April 14.

In Chicago, Col. Robert McCormick, 74, editor and publisher of the Chicago Tribune, and conservative isolationist for many years, died this date at his farm home west of Chicago in the wee hours of the morning. During his time as an executive of the newspaper, it had grown in circulation from 200,000 in 1911 to its current 892,000, plus a Sunday edition with a circulation of 1.4 million. He had periodic problems with his health for the prior two years.

In Boston, the Massachusetts Supreme Court had denied a 60-year old steamfitter's request to become a lawyer, turning down his claim that he should be allowed to take an oral examination to become a member of the bar, after he contended that his poor handwriting had handicapped him in written tests. During the previous 30 years, he had failed the written bar examination 13 times, but said that he had read 30,000 court cases and every word of a law dictionary, contending that he could pass an oral examination for the bar. The court gave no reason for dismissing his case.

In Raleigh, Governor Luther Hodges endorsed a proposed State Constitutional amendment to relieve the General Assembly of the responsibility of handling local legislation. The Governor also stated at his press conference this date that he was supportive of a resolution to be presented to the General Assembly to declare North Carolina's policy on school desegregation, which had quoted from a report of the Governor's Advisory Committee on education, chaired by future Governor and Senator Terry Sanford, that "mixing of the races forthwith in the public schools throughout the state cannot be accomplished and should not be attempted". The resolution approved of the report of the Advisory Committee and the state's brief filed with the Supreme Court in the Brown v. Board of Education implementing case expected to be decided later in the spring, oral arguments for which were slated to begin April 11.

Donald MacDonald of The News tells of a bill passed by the General Assembly the prior Friday to increase court costs, starting this date, from eight dollars to thirteen dollars, after members of the City Council had agreed on February 2 to prepare a resolution calling for the increase as a means of producing more City revenue, while at the same time acting as a greater deterrent to law violators.

On the editorial page, "Providence Rd. & Peaceful Coexistence" praises the State Highway Commission for finally approving the widening of Providence Road in Charlotte from its existing 18-foot width to 60 feet, to accommodate the 6,000 vehicles traversing it daily. Residents along the thoroughfare had objected to widening it beyond 45 to 50 feet and so would likely not be happy with the result, as the additional width would require cutting several trees. But it finds the decision necessary and praiseworthy, as it had thought earlier that the Commission might spitefully refuse to act because of the earlier inability to work out a compromise with the residents and the City of Charlotte.

Widen it to 1,000 feet so that future atomic jet plane commuters can land on it.

"A Watchdog for Fiscal Finery" finds that State Representative George Randall's bill to create a State office of Legislative Comptroller would provide help to the state in meeting the goal of government efficiency and skill, necessary to any level of government. It finds that the office of Comptroller General at the Federal level had always worked well and that there was good reason to believe that a similar system would work just as well at the state level. It suggests that the proposal ought appeal particularly to Governor Hodges, as he had been an industrial businessman before entering politics, and the design of the position would be to place the state's fiscal affairs on a more businesslike basis.

"Transition: Potential into Progress" tells of a project unveiled during the week by Governor Hodges potentially enabling the state to outpace its Southern neighbors in economic progress, establishing a seven-man committee to attempt to develop a great industrial research center within the state—eventually becoming the Research Triangle between Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill. The Governor said that the state had unique and undeveloped advantages which could attract research organizations to the state and lead to the development of an important research center within the country.

The piece asserts that the state needed industrial research to show how to turn its potential resources into progress and revenue, that the South as a whole had lagged behind the rest of the nation in industrial research and was paying for it. A year or so earlier, it had been estimated that there were three times more research laboratories in New York's metropolitan area than in the entire South. It finds that North Carolina's future economic progress would depend to a large extent on its ideas, for which it would need research, and it wishes the Governor's committee well, as a great deal might depend on their achievements.

"This Little Art Form Has Grown Up" tells of a poem penned by Sir Alan Patrick Herbert many years earlier, titled "It May Be Life, but Ain't It Slow?" with one stanza stating: "I wish I hadn't broke that dish,/ I wish I was a movie star,/ I wish a lot of things, I wish/ That life was like the movies are."

It finds that times and the movies had changed quite a bit in the interim, that movies no longer dealt solely in "gaudy glamour and never-never melodrama", but now, at their best, provided "life in all its richness and multifariousness and innumerable nuances".

In viewing the list of winners at the 1955 Academy Awards ceremony two nights earlier, it finds confirmation of that point from the fact that "On the Waterfront" had won Best Picture, while Marlon Brando won Best Actor for the film, Eva Marie Saint, the Supporting Actress award for the film, and Elia Kazan the Best Director award, in addition to four other awards, equaling the record eight awards provided "Gone with the Wind" in 1939. The film, it finds, was "a hard-hitting, realistic study of labor racketeering on the New York docks". "The Country Girl" was another realistic drama, which had won for Grace Kelly the Best Actress award for playing her role as a long-suffering wife of an alcoholic, played by Bing Crosby, who had been nominated for Best Actor.

It posits that American movies had earned the right to the "better-than-ever" slogan, that many memorable films had been produced during a time when the motion picture industry was supposed to be on the road to ruin, including: from 1948, "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre", "The Snake Pit", "Johnny Belinda", and "Red River", omitting the Best Picture winner, "Hamlet"; from 1949, Best Picture winner "All the King's Men", "Lost Boundaries" and "Command Decision"; from 1950, "Sunset Boulevard", "The Asphalt Jungle", "Born Yesterday", "12 O'Clock High", and "All About Eve", the latter having won the Best Picture award; 1951's Best Picture winner "An American in Paris", plus "A Streetcar Named Desire", "Detective Story", and "A Place in the Sun"; from 1952, "The African Queen" (actually released in late 1951 and winning the Best Actor award for Humphrey Bogart for that year), "Come Back, Little Sheba", "High Noon," "The Quiet Man", and "Five Fingers", omitting, for good reason, Best Picture winner "The Greatest Show on Earth"; and in 1953, Best Picture winner "From Here to Eternity", "Stalag 17", "Lili", "Moulin Rouge" (actually released in late 1952 and nominated for Best Picture plus other major awards for that year), and "Roman Holiday".

It concludes that "On the Waterfront" and "The Country Girl" deserved places on the honor roll of films and that, along with other such films, Hollywood had proved that it was not afraid to examine social problems and mold its impressions of them into artistic products. It finds that it was not necessarily the case that its best side was sober, that it could still do wonderful things with fantasy, such as in "Lili", and in comedy, such as in "Born Yesterday", but it was doing the sober pieces with new deftness and maturity, demonstrating that the little art form had grown up.

While "On the Waterfront" has stood the test of time well in the intervening 67 years, even if its casting and gritty mood had played off the success and favorable audience and critical reception to "A Streetcar Named Desire", "The Country Girl" long ago fell by the wayside into obscurity, probably deservedly so for its erratic vascillation between dealing with a social problem and showcasing once again the voice of Bing Crosby, to pander to audiences of the time and achieve box office, crass commercialism always showing through in gaudy cheapness years after stars have faded and the celluloid dims. Quality always remains when largely unadulterated by crass appeal to demographic groups to generate box office revenue at a particular moment in time. Unfortunately, Hollywood still has a major problem with producing anything serious without such commercialism creeping in. Whenever you watch a film and can practically see and hear the board meeting in the background wherein the producers of the film were bound to have said such things as, "Look, we must appeal to the younger audience with this one and so let's throw in a character who's a 14-year old superhero girl, who was also bullied and is fat and rather stupid but shows up all of the adults in the script, making them appear as fools, and how", or "We have to get the minorities to come to this picture as it is much too violent and implausible for most white, middle-class audiences, and so let's have a Mexican hero and a black sub-hero, plus a Chinese chum to the black sub-hero, with a white villain of the piece, and we'll be a winner at the box office come Christmas", or evidence of other such disingenuous, manipulative appeals to obtain the big bucks, no matter how ridiculous the underlying story comes out on film, you will know that it is a bad picture made only for money, despite its occasional pretensions to some higher plane, and that it will be forgotten shortly after the year of release except perhaps by the particular part of the moviegoing audience to whom it was condescendingly designed to appeal. "The Betsy" from 1978 comes immediately to mind, along with "All That Jazz" from 1979, the entire "Airport" consortium of the 1970's and "Independence Day" from 1996, among a myriad of others too numerous to name...

A piece from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, titled "Collectors' Items", tells of a professor of English at the British Institute in Madrid and his friend being razor blade collectors, which the professor found to be a highly individualistic, personal and painstaking hobby far superior to stamp-collecting, for instance, thus perfectly suited to the Spanish character. He contended that it took time and effort to hone the collection to a fine edge, that he had taken the time and effort to collect 1,200 types of Spanish razor blades, indicating that probably Germany and Czechoslovakia manufactured more types than any other countries in Europe, and that Russia, because of nationalization of its industry, produced the fewest types, with the professor having collected only 20 different Russian types of blades. His favorite razor blades were from Japan, one of which had three cutting edges and another, four. The two men were the leading and probably only collectors of razor blades, and both used electric razors.

It suggests that the field was probably wide open for collecting electric razors and that the line would form at the nearest place for plugging in.

Drew Pearson provides the back story for two events at the White House showing that the power of former Governor Thomas Dewey had faded within the Administration while White House chief of staff Sherman Adams had emerged as the second most powerful man in the country as "assistant president".

Both White House press secretary James Hagerty and former appointments secretary Tom Stephens had been Dewey men, but the role of Mr. Hagerty had changed from policy-maker behind the scenes to a mere front man for public relations to the press, while Mr. Stephens, who was thought to have resigned to return to his law practice, had actually been eased out by Mr. Adams, who believed he had been giving Presidential access to too many "politicians".

Another development was that foreign aid boss Harold Stassen had nearly been fired by the President when the latter heard that Mr. Stassen was promoting his own worth as a possible successor to the President, infuriating Mr. Eisenhower. Only Presidential aides prevailing on him not to fire Mr. Stassen had saved the latter, with the President convinced to appoint him instead as "secretary of peace".

A letter writer from Davidson College responds to a letter published March 25 which had condemned the Methodist Student Movement for its stand against universal military training and war in general as un-Christian, this writer stating as a member of the North Carolina Methodist Student Movement who had been present at the conference which had passed a resolution against the pending House bill to establish universal military training, that he felt obliged to defend the organization and its purpose, that while he did not personally favor the resolution, believes the conference had been motivated by sincere concern for the welfare of the nation and for the proper Christian approach to warfare. He objects to the previous letter writer having characterized the approach as "naïve disdain for the future" and that they had "sneered" at either the living or the dead among those who had served their country. He indicates that no one won in war, that neither World War I nor World War II had finally put an end to war as intended. Most agreed that it was necessary to stay one step ahead of the enemy in a mad arms race at present, but no one could say where it would end or how long it would have to last. Another possibility was to have complete disarmament regardless of what the rest of the world did and place trust in God. While he does not personally subscribe to that view, he also believes it did not deserve to be disregarded or smeared. He urges the previous writer to give thought to those notions.

A letter from J. R. Cherry, Jr., says that a candidate for the City School Board, Edward Cahill, was running on a platform to integrate white and black schools, which he regards as "so much rat poison to most of us common folk, both white and Negro." Mr. Cahill had said that he was shocked at one of the legislators of the General Assembly stating the intent of the state to circumvent Brown v. Board of Education and its holding that racially segregated public schools could no longer pass constitutional muster under the 14th Amendment Equal Protection Clause. He indicates that any practical and thinking North Carolinians "could have appraised [sic] Mr. Cahill of the eminent [sic] probability that this state, as well as all Southern states, have that intent."

Well, we could appraise you that you're as stupid as a fence post, and so we do not wish to summarize your immanent silliness any further. Per your usual letter, you are somewhere between the extreme right and the rightfield grandstands on virtually every subject, including support to the bitter end of Senator McCarthy. So it is no surprise that you support continuing segregation.

A letter from the publicity chairman of the Matthews PTA thanks the newspaper for its cooperation in advertising their meetings and the ham supper they had sponsored on March 25, which had been a great success.

A letter writer says that she had just read the newspaper, as she had for ten years, responding to a letter suggesting that the newspaper should only carry the "salvation box score" for Billy Graham's crusade, finding the suggestion shocking. She asks God to forgive the letter writer, thanks God that they had a newspaper which printed what most people wanted to read. She says if there were more people like the Reverend Graham, the world would not be in its present fix and urges the newspaper to print more news about his crusade.

A letter from a sophomore at Bob Jones University in Greenville S.C., responds to the same letter, saying that he was certain that Dr. Graham did not mind such letters as Jesus had said in the Beatitudes: "Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceedingly glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you."

A letter writer thanks all contributors to the cancer victim whose case had been called to the attention of readers in a recent letter, stating that she had just visited him, though death was close. She indicates that his case reminded her of Job, bearing his pain in patience. She especially thanks Mr. and Mrs. Wade Allison, the latter having been the author of the prior letter, for their support of the man, and the newspaper for its service and "open heart".

The executive director of the American Cancer Society had responded earlier to the letter from Mrs. Allison, that the man had received free services for detection and treatment of his cancer and had been offered care at the North Carolian Cancer Institute for incurable cancer patients but had refused admission.

A letter writer says that there were still people making insulting attacks on the late President Roosevelt and his followers, that it was not FDR they hated, but rather his policies, that it was not the Supreme Court Justices they hated, but rather the law, that it was not Christ they hated, but his policies and the Sermon on the Mount. "They live for their greed, hate, class and racial stealing. They are a very low common class of people for which [sic] we have no respect."

A letter writer from Cheraw, S.C., writes in defense of FDR, indicating that he was sure he was talking for millions of people who had regarded him as a great leader and President, finds that he had been God-sent, as much so as had been Moses leading the children of Israel out of bondage. He suggests that the Republicans had done very little for President Eisenhower, that the Democrats had brought him up through the Army and made him a general, that everyone admired him for his accomplishments in that role, but that he now had the wrong crowd surrounding him telling him how to run the country. He asserts that the Yalta agreement was water over the dam, and challenges those who believed they could have done things differently to describe what it was under the conditions then extant. He urges that if people were going to find fault with someone, they should do so with a person who was still living and able to defend him or herself.

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