The Charlotte News

Friday, April 22, 1955


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that in London, it was reported that the U.S., Britain and France this date had delivered notes to the Kremlin in Moscow, accepting the Soviet proposal for a foreign ministers conference to complete the independence treaty for Austria, but stipulating the added condition that the groundwork would first be done by the ambassadors of the four countries in Vienna prior to the meeting of the foreign ministers. The notes proposed May 2 as the inception date for the meeting of the ambassadors. The British spokesman said that the Big Three ambassadors would meet in advance and prepare a suggested agenda for the meeting, and that West German representatives would be associated with the discussions whenever German questions were being examined. The Big Three officials believed that the job of the conference would include bringing the 1949 draft treaty up to date because some of its provisions had become obsolete in the meantime, to spell out the new arrangements to which there had been agreement between the Soviets and Austria regarding reduction of Russia's reparations claims, and to formulate a four-power declaration to guarantee the future territorial integrity and military neutrality of an independent Austria.

In Chicago, a fight for control of Montgomery Ward Co., the second largest and oldest mail-order house in the country, was beginning between existing management, led by Sewell Avery, 81, who had headed the company for 24 years and who had been a successful business executive for more than 50 years, and Louis Wolfson, 43, a former University of Georgia football player who controlled businesses in the construction, transportation and manufacturing fields worth an estimated 230 million dollars. At stake were all nine positions on the board of directors of the company, worth 721 million dollars, with current liquid assets of 327 million dollars in cash and government bonds, to which Mr. Avery contended Mr. Wolfson was attracted, Mr. Avery claiming that the company was in excellent shape while Mr. Wolfson claimed that management had let things slip in recent years, with sales down more than 100 million dollars from the previous year, registering nearly 900 million, and net profits having dropped more than five million to 35.2 million. There were 68,000 shareholders who owned 6,703,392 shares in the company. Management claimed that the Wolfson side could only win two of the board positions, while Mr. Wolfson claimed that they already had enough votes among stockholders to capture four of the nine chairs and that the fifth chair for control was too close to call. The annual meeting of stockholders was being held in a 6,200-seat auditorium and might prove to be the largest gathering of its kind in U.S. corporate history. Mr. Avery had made headline news in April, 1944 when he had defied a Government order to seize Ward's property by wartime necessity, having been photographed still in his chair while being carried out of the company's headquarters by two Army soldiers, after the Army had been directed by the War Labor Board and the President to move in and seize the property.

In Greensboro, N.C., Junius Scales was convicted by a jury in Federal District Court the previous night of violating the Smith Act by advocating and teaching the overthrow of the Government by force or violence, by the fact of his membership in the Communist Party, of which he was chairman in the Carolinas district. He read a statement continuing to assert his innocence and that his beliefs could not be tried in court, that it was impossible to try anyone on the basis of what they believed. He said that the jury had only a small opportunity to make such a study in any event from the "rags and tatters of unfamiliar books, distorted by Government witnesses", which had been introduced into evidence by the Government. He compared the nine-day proceeding to a "medieval heresy trial". He also said that he would not belong to any organization which advocated force and violence. He said that the worst of the lies which had "poured from the witness stand" was the one that he had broken with his family and that he was ashamed of his father, which he regarded as "the cruelest and most despicable of all." His mother had testified in his behalf during the defense case. He stated that he was proud of his party, that his life had been devoted to the liberation and betterment of mankind and that the party would continue to stand for those objectives. The Government prosecutor stated that the remarks of Mr. Scales demonstrated to the court and the world "the workings of the mind of a Communist." He said there was not a scintilla of evidence before the court to contradict the Government's evidence. The court promptly sentenced Mr. Scales to six years in prison, the maximum term having been ten years. The court refused to allow the defendant to remain on bail pending appeal.

Eventually, following a second trial, conviction and identical sentence, after the Supreme Court had, in 1957, intially reversed the first conviction, based on its holding in Jencks v. U.S., after which Congress had passed a law which fixed the Jencks problem of not providing the defendant reports made to the Government by paid informants, the Supreme Court would affirm the second conviction, 5 to 4, in 1961 and Mr. Scales would serve 15 months of his sentence before President Kennedy commuted it to time served on Christmas Eve, 1962. Justice John Harlan, who had just been confirmed to the Court in 1955, would deliver the majority opinion in 1961, notably overruling the Constitutional challenge to the statute as applied in the case as infringing free speech, freedom of association and due process. Three separate dissents were registered, by Justices Hugo Black, William O. Douglas, and William Brennan, the latter to be appointed to the Court in 1956, with Chief Justice Earl Warren and Justices Douglas and Black joining in the Brennan dissent. The dissents primarily contended that an amendment to the Smith Act in 1950, specifically barring conviction under the Smith Act of anyone only for membership in the Communist Party, was sufficient to bar the conviction, the majority having held that the statute went further than mere membership, requiring knowledge that the organization advocated the violent overthrow of the Government; and that the First Amendment also prevented conviction for membership in any organization, the majority having found that the statute required a showing that the defendant had a specific intent to accomplish the aims of the organization by resort to violence, thus not infringing rights of association or speech. Mr. Scales was the only person convicted under the Smith Act for being a Communist, who served an actual prison term. Others served terms in jail for perjury, as in the case of Alger Hiss, or for contempt of Congress, as in the case of several witnesses called before HUAC, as in the "Hollywood 10" case of 1947, who refused to answer questions on the basis of the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination, some of those assertions having been rejected by the Federal courts.

In Seattle, the Methodist Council of Bishops ended its annual convention the previous day with the installation of Bishop Clare Purcell of Birmingham, Ala., as president and the election of Bishop W. Earl Ledden of Syracuse, N.Y., as the Council's top presiding officer for the following year.

In Raleigh, State Senator F. J. Blythe of Mecklenburg County had prepared a bill which would require governors to have their portraits painted while in office for education and historical reasons, and that the painting, to be commissioned by the Department of Archives and History, would not exceed the cost of $4,000.

Also before the Legislature, the principle of increased home rule for counties and municipalities across the state had been unanimously approved by the House Committee on Counties, Cities and Towns this date, providing a favorable report to substitute bills to amend the State Constitution to allow the cities and counties to adopt home rule charters, eliminating the need for the State Legislature to pass on matters which were purely local in nature, such as the salaries of local officeholders, police and fire personnel, and the like.

In Charlotte, Dick Young of The News indicates that members of the City Council would not be upset if the Board of County Commissioners took over the Sugar Creek problem, troubled for a long time with industrial waste and other pollution, causing terrible odors to pervade the area adjacent to the creek. The City had maintained that drainage of the creek was the legal responsibility of the County. Before dredging the creek, however, the Council had indicated that the City's industrial waste ordinance would need to go into effect, slated for June 1. Senator Blythe had introduced a bill the previous day to improve the creek and other streams in the county. Most of the Council members believed that the creek was a community problem and that costs of its improvement should be borne by the entire city and not just by those within the immediate vicinity of the creek. Senator Blythe had stated, in bringing up the bill, that he was not attempting to sell it but was merely giving the residents a wagon to ride in on. A 1911 statute permitted an assessment of five dollars per acre on the land within a half-mile of the creek, but the Blythe measure would provide for an assessment of a nickel per square foot, the State Senator explaining that when the earlier statute had been enacted, the land was primarily used for farming and that its value and nature had changed considerably in the interim 44 years. The assessment could be used to construct concrete flows and sides, and possibly a top, for the creek.

Harry Shuford of The News reports that following a storm of protest regarding a highway department announcement that the Buster Boyd Bridge would be closed the following Monday for repairs, there was a chance that the repairs would be postponed, according to a district highway commissioner, who said that he would seek to put it off until after the summer, provided there was no immediate safety factor involved. The protest had arisen because thousands of people would be impacted by the closure, particularly with the summer coming and the YMCA camp for boys being on the South Carolina side of the river. You better get that resolved pronto or they might throw the workers and equipment in the river. Then where'll you be, Buster?

In Easthampton, Mass., a coal dealer in business for 43 years had placed an ad in the local newspaper the previous day which stated: "I have waited a long time for a vacation. I wanted it before the rocking chair days got me." He sold his business and then left for a long vacation, saying that he had taken only two one-week vacations during the entire time he had been in business.

In Badin, N.C., it was announced that the Badin Band would give a concert in the park adjacent to the Badin Theater the following Sunday at 3:30 p.m. Be sure not to miss it, as a splendid time is guaranteed for all.

As pictured, Vice-President Nixon fell into the drink while visiting in Florida, something about a hooker in a mangrove. Eh, they let him off the hook on the slush-fund business in 1952, and no one will raise much of an eyebrow on this one either, probably.

On the editorial page, "Medical Examiners: Key to Justice" tells of a bill to provide for medical examiners in the most populous counties, a bill which had been pending in the Legislature for 78 days, having been reported out favorably by a House Judiciary Committee the previous day, as had been reported on the front page. Under the present coroner system, the investigation of sudden, violent and unexplained deaths was a "tragedy of errors", resulting in negligence, incompetence and an invitation to murder, which might go undiscovered. Under that system, politics played a role in the appointment of the coroner, who often was a person untrained and almost always was without any medical background. The proposed legislation would not completely reform that system but it would be an important step in the right direction. The medical examiner would order autopsies performed in appropriate cases, and a new system to handle postmortem examinations would be established.

It indicates that in most of the nation's 3,072 counties, no special medical or legal qualifications were required for the office of coroner, that in all except seven states, they did not need to be physicians nor have any legal or investigative training. Three states, Massachusetts, Maryland and Virginia, had been cited by the National Municipal League, the AMA and the ABA for their advanced medico-legal investigative systems, replacing entirely their old coroner systems. Three other states, Louisiana, Ohio and Rhode Island, had laws providing that functions of the coroner were to be performed by medical doctors, except in counties where no physician would accept the office. Qualifications for coroners were generally more rigid in metropolitan areas, where often local laws substituted for the absence of a statewide statute. It lists several cities across the country, including Birmingham, New York City, Phoenix, Detroit, Milwaukee, Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville and St. Petersburg, Fla., Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Mateo, Santa Clara and San Francisco, Calif., which had such municipal requirements rendering modern medico-legal investigative systems. In at least 26 states within recent years, efforts to modernize or institute medical examiner systems had been undertaken, but most of those efforts had been unsuccessful.

It finds it something of an achievement that the attempt to modernize the North Carolina system had gotten out of committee with an unanimous vote. It indicates that the goal ought be to abolish the coroner system entirely, as it was disgracefully inadequate, that all counties ought be served by trained medical examiners. It urges that it was not unduly expensive to do so and that the use of modern medical science to examine deaths occurring by other than natural means was necessary in modern society, as a society unprotected from murder was a defenseless society.

"Your Vote Is the One That Counts" indicates that the filing deadline for candidates running for the City Council would expire this date, and one old pol had quipped that the race was so quiet that one could hear Mayor Philip Van Every picking tulips in Holland—where he and his wife had gone on an expense-paid trip provided by the tulip growers of Holland for Charlotte having produced the best tulips from bulbs supplied by those tulip growers to several cities.

It appeared that the five incumbents running for the Council would win by virtue of looking pious and letting nature take its course, with an independent incumbent also considered as a shoo-in.

But the first test of whether voter apathy might play a role would come in the Monday primary. It indicates that it would not endorse 1955 candidates, but wanted to encourage a sizable turnout both on Monday and in the May 3 general election. It was unfortunate that there were no real issues of great import involved in the race, as issues stirred interest. Only in the race for the School Board had the new report cards and segregation triggered very much debate. The race for the Council thus involved primarily the issue of sound government.

It advises studying the past records of the candidates, what they stood for, whether they had a reputation for living up to their promises, and finding out everything which could be discovered about them. It then urges voting, that a vote for the best available man or woman was better than not voting at all, that if one wanted good government, something had to be done about it individually, that it was not enough to let others decide and then grumble about the results, that government was best when citizens participated and stopped being spectators.

"Phillips: The Man Behind the March" tells of W. Frank Phillips, chairman of the Mecklenburg County Chapter of the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis since 1942, having labored tirelessly and long in the crusade against polio. The previous night he had been re-elected to his 14th term and there were no indications that he would choose to make it his last. It indicates that perhaps there were other residents of the city who had worked as hard for a cause as he had, but not very many. His dedication to the idea that polio could be beaten if the public provided medical science with the tools had been enormous, despite there having been some difficult times in the interim, during the 1944 and 1948 epidemics.

He had served as state chairman of the March of Dimes in 1951 and 1952. Now that the Salk vaccine had proved effective, there was still work to be done and Mr. Phillips was responding to that challenge, and he deserved the community's salute.

A piece from the Sanford Herald, titled "Of Mac's and Men", questions whether future Prime Minister and present Foreign Secretary of Britain Harold MacMillan spelled his name with a capital M, as being carried by the wire services, or as Macmillan, being a member of the family which controlled the British-American publishing house, Macmillan Company, Ltd.

It indicates that there was no guarantee that all of the Macmillans stuck to the Scotch form of the name, that one could, besides capitalizing the M, make it also McMillan. It urges looking at all of the "Mac's" and "Mc's" locally and the "Cottons" of central North Carolina, where some people used to spell it "Cotten", some having explained that their rural kin spelled it with an "e" and that their urban counterparts, with an "o".

It indicates that some people changed their names for convenience, for instance Winston Churchill, having originally been Winston Spencer-Churchill, until he discovered as a Sandhurst cadet that there were advantages in answering the roll early, and so had been Winston S. Churchill ever since. General U. S. Grant had been christened Hiram Ulysses Grant, adopting the later change to accommodate his sponsoring Congressman's error in giving him his place at West Point, thereafter becoming Ulysses Simpson Grant.

It relates that its favorite case of name-changing was that of playwright Clifford Odet, whose father's name was Odets, a printer by trade, who, when he went to obtain a union card, noticed as he was leaving that the secretary had left off the "s", and rather than return through the line, accepted the change.

Drew Pearson tells of former President Truman's crackdown on the press for not publishing all of the facts about the Eisenhower Administration, coupled with the severe news censorship imposed by certain parts of the Administration, had presented important problems for the American Society of Newspaper Editors, who were holding their annual meeting during the week in Washington. Many of the editors, among whom were Russell Wiggins of the Washington Post and V. M. Newton, Jr., of the Tampa Tribune, had been waging a campaign to print the truth and also to break the tightening wall of censorship, realizing, as most people did not, that about 70 percent of the taxpayers' money was being spent by the Defense Department on matters where censorship was the tightest. The largest proportion of defense contracts awarded by the Department to private companies had gone to General Motors, which Secretary of Defense Charles E. Wilson had headed before becoming Secretary in 1953. Previously, the Defense Department had regularly published the list of the 100 largest companies receiving Government contracts, and the proportion of business they received, but Secretary Wilson had published only one such list since coming into office, and that had been under pressure. It had also been the previous practice of the Department that matters pertaining to money and its expenditure were a matter of public record, but now, it was not possible for journalists to ascertain whether semi-outmoded tanks were still being produced, only to sit and rust, why the Navy was building a multi-million dollar Spanish base near Gibraltar, when the Air Force had exactly the same type of base just across the Straits of Gibraltar, which both services could use, and whether Secretary Wilson was correct about cutting down on small defense contracts and pooling them with the large companies, including G.M. Reporters also could not any longer find out the number of times the Secretary used Government planes to go deer-hunting, and answers to a myriad of other questions which did not involve national security, but which did involve efficiency, politics and the right of the people to know how their money was being spent.

Mr. Pearson suggests that there were other things which the editors might examine during the week, for instance, the changes made in the techniques of the presidential press conference, which had come a long way since the easy-going days of President Coolidge between 1923 and 1929, when a mere handful of newsmen had gathered around the President's desk twice per week to hear him ramble on about fishing or the stock market or the hive of bees he had found in a tree on the White House lawn. Questions had been asked only in writing and if the President did not choose to answer, no one could follow up, with the consequence that the public did not know that there were even press conferences occurring at that time and were not supposed to know that the President expressed his views. His views instead were published only on attribution to a "White House spokesman" and newsmen carefully respected that anonymity.

Now, things were very different, as the press had the opportunity to ask questions, and the press conferences had the feel of a Hollywood stage piece, with some reporters appearing to be more interested in asking questions which would sound good on television than producing news, knowing it to be the best way to get their names and faces shown back home. Their fate, however, as "glamour-pusses" depended on press secretary James Hagerty, for if he did not like the question, found it too searching or too embarrassing, then he would cut it out of the televised record and it would not be seen all over the nation, a technique which could discourage searching questions.

Pete Ivey, formerly of the Twin City Sentinel in Winston-Salem, now apparently with the Shelby Daily Star, writes of higher education, wondering at the outset whether children of the present time would be able to pass a college entrance examination within another decade, a question routinely being raised by parents when they heard that college and university admission standards were to be raised. He finds it an appropriate question for the fact that the large number of young people at present would be adequate to fill the student bodies of existing institutions of higher learning. Thus, the question was whether colleges would construct new classroom buildings and dormitories and hire more members to their faculties to accommodate increased enrollments or they would remain the same size, in which case causing student selectivity to be a foregone conclusion. Should that occur, then the colleges would select those students who could best benefit from higher education, those who would show promise of contributing the most to society. The quandary of higher educational institutions was national in scope as well as at the state level, affecting both private and public institutions in all 48 states.

The president of UNC, Gordon Gray, had repeatedly expressed his concern over the enrollment dilemma, which was less than a decade away in North Carolina. At the national level, former Harvard University president James B. Conant, who was presently the U.S. High Commissioner, about to become Ambassador, to West Germany, had devoted attention for years earlier to the pending crisis.

Mr. Gray had said that the three institutions comprising the Greater University, which included the main campus at Chapel Hill, N.C. State in Raleigh, and Woman's College in Greensboro, were faced with increases in enrollment sufficient to change the structure, operating procedures and the basic nature and function of each school, and that admissions policies would therefore have to be reviewed. He said that the alternatives ranged between holding their doors open and accepting virtually all applicants and raising admissions standards significantly to hold enrollments at a relatively stable figure. He stated that he was inclined to believe that they should raise their admissions requirements gradually and reasonably so that they could raise their standards of undergraduate education commensurately.

Dr. Conant had dealt with the impending crisis of enrollment in a series of lectures at the University of Virginia, which had later been expanded into a book, Education and Liberty, published by the Harvard University Press in 1953. He had compared the system of higher education in America with that in Britain, showing the strong and weak points of each system. He said that America had started down an educational road in the 20th Century leading to the situation where academic degrees were almost without meaning, that the mere fact that a college or university was presently chartered was no guarantee of the quality of the instruction offered. A bachelor's degree had become fixed in the minds of the educated classes of the country as the hallmark of a four-year education following 12 years of primary and secondary education. He suggested rearranging emphasis in the future by expanding the four-year colleges either in their numbers or size while not expanding the four-year programs in the universities, rather contracting those, while attempting to make a two-year college course fashionable, perhaps awarding a bachelor's degree of general studies to graduates of such institutions, endeavoring to create a climate of opinion in which the length of education beyond age 18 was not considered the hallmark of respectability, and continuing the expansion of junior and senior high schools to meet the new growth of enrollment, while recognizing the need for remaking the curriculum in many such schools. He also favored adherence to the principle of a comprehensive high school with a common core of studies and differential special programs, while making more effort to identify the gifted youths and giving them more rigorous academic training in languages and mathematics. He proposed exploring the success of some high schools with "work experience programs" and expansion of such programs, including the 13th and 14th grades, the two-year college curriculum. They would also provide, through private and public action, for more scholarships for high school graduates, but only for those who were potentially entering professions, while advanced education for others would in general be offered locally by the two-year colleges. They would also endeavor to transform the present four-year colleges into institutions with higher academic standards, arranging the curricula so that a majority of students would go on to professional training after two, three, or four years, depending on the individual's drive and ability. The proposed program would also continue to experiment with general education at every level for the future manual laborer, salesman or executive and the most highly specialized university graduate.

His plan would emphasize quality education in the four-year colleges and universities while starting community colleges with two-year degrees and establishing a more effective public school system.

Mr. Ivey therefore suggests that perhaps rather than focusing only on institutions of higher learning in North Carolina, it would be better to establish a board overseeing the entire public school system from the first grade through the two-year junior colleges and the four-year institutions, as well as opportunities for graduate and professional study. He suggests that there was no need to be pessimistic about the future of education in the state, despite the inevitable limitation of enrollment in the University, as raising standards was only one way to strengthen the entire public school system, that it would establish and strengthen the junior colleges in the state as well. The opportunity would afford optimism, as the educational system would be broadened under that plan rather than being contracted, and there would be an opportunity to provide a better program of education to more people as they demonstrated their ability to learn.

He posits that what should be guarded against in such a reorganization of the educational structure was development of class cleavages, setting up an elite intellectual aristocracy, that the effort would be to preserve democracy in education while meeting the needs of the growing student population, providing more educational opportunities for more people and continuing the opportunity for every individual to advance as far as possible based on their intellectual ability.

There were also questions of adequate numbers of schoolteachers, what teaching methodology should be employed in the public schools, and the extent to which educational television and vocational and adult education would become part of the future public instruction.

Robert C. Ruark, in Amsterdam, says that he was returning to the scene of a big adventure he had 20 years earlier at age 19 in Holland, which seemed to him like yesterday. He had been an ordinary seaman on the ship Sundance, bound from Savannah, Ga., to places such as London, Liverpool, Antwerp, Rotterdam, Amsterdam, Hamburg and Bremen. He had spent all of his prior life in Wilmington, N.C., except when he had attended UNC in the middle of the Depression, matriculating at an early age, having "bootlegged" his way to culture, finding himself broke, young and educated to do nothing for which anyone would pay him.

He had then hitchhiked to Savannah and saw his first palm trees in winter, sought a job but could not find one, and so hitchhiked to Jacksonville, Fla., where he was sitting on a dock one day watching the ships, one of which had docked, with a large man aboard chasing another man from one end of the ship to the other, finally grabbed him by his pants and hurled him off the fo'e'slehead, throwing his sea bag after him, telling him that if he ever came back, he would kill him.

Mr. Ruark had four dollars and the clothes on his back at the time and the fortuitous encounter appeared to present an opportunity for employment, and so he rapped on the side of the ship and asked if he might fill the vacancy, betting the large man the vacancy that he could not throw him off the ship, at which point the man beckoned him aboard. Two hours later, they called it a dead heat and he was hired for $10 per week. He says that he still had muscles from fighting everyone aboard that ship, as he had been a college graduate and so that alone was enough to curse him.

By the time he got to Europe, he had already quit as a tourist and Eugene O'Neill's sea stories had lost their charm, as he had a broken nose and several extra contusions. After docking in London, Liverpool and Antwerp, they sailed to Holland, to Rotterdam and Amsterdam, and he saw "clean, beautiful people with blonde hair and red cheeks and wooden shoes and tulips and remembered Hans Brinker and the silver skates."

He says that he got the same feeling now, that Holland was "a neat oasis in a must-see world." So he asks the reader, as he had at the start of the piece, to pardon his nostalgia, as he had not been an ordinary seaman "in one hell of a long time."

A letter writer from Kings Mountain wonders whether people realized how much advertising affected them, relates that she had a few experiences lately which convinced her that advertising played a major part in people's lives. The husband of one of her friends had spent an hour with a lawn mower during a warm day the previous week and when he had finished, staggered into the house and fell, panting, in his easy chair in the living room, then was startled by a blood-curdling yell from the kitchen, rushed in, fully expecting to see his wife in a horrific state, finding that she was horrified because the detergent was not pink. A six-year old in her neighborhood had decided to test his father's tires with an ice pick, basing it on an ad for "slow-out" tires, which his father's tires were not. She says that recently, her dog had come into the house with a rather dejected air about her, with the tip of her tail noticeably drooping, the thought having occurred to her that her dog was trying to tell her that she should have gotten the dog food which nourished every inch. "Vive la advertising!"

What is the question?

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