The Charlotte News

Friday, May 20, 1955


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the cessation in approval by the Public Health Service of new supplies of the Salk polio vaccine to the nation would likely last until the following week, pending further study of the vaccine manufacturing process, following 77 reported breakthrough cases of polio infection after vaccination and a reported 30 percent increase of polio cases during the prior week, to 206, also substantially above the 151 cases reported for the same week the prior year and more than the 116 reported as an average for the prior five years. There was still no elaboration by the Service on its Wednesday announcement of the new delay, which had also recommended halting the vaccination program until the further additional review could be conducted, after the initial recommended cessation of the prior week had been lifted the previous Monday. The National Conference of State Epidemiologists, meeting in Atlanta, had asked the Service for an opinion on whether it might be possible to reduce the current dosage of each shot, to enable stretching of available current supplies. Meanwhile, investigation continued by the Service of the five manufacturers producing the vaccine, having previously cleared the processes of Parke-Davis and Eli Lilly & Co.

Senator Lister Hill of Alabama, chairman of the Senate Labor Committee, said in an interview that he would call the Committee to session on Monday to consider several bills empowering the Government to assume control of the distribution and sale of the vaccine. He predicted that the Committee would approve standby powers for the Government, despite HEW Secretary Oveta Culp Hobby having testified before the Committee earlier in the week that she did not believe there was any need for them.

When New York City clinics had opened the previous day for first and second-grade schoolchildren to receive their first two free shots, 29 percent of those for whom injections had been requested had not shown up, with the person in charge of the program stating that he believed the "confused national situation" was a major factor in that disparity. An AMA representative in Atlantic City said that there was no need for "so much hysteria" regarding the program, that he believed all of the 77 confirmed breakthrough cases had already been infected with polio when they received the vaccine. A spokesman for the University of Pittsburgh, where Dr. Jonas Salk had developed the vaccine, stated that the latter had been misunderstood when news stories had quoted him as saying that the post-inoculation cases were "purely coincidental", the doctor having actually said that "many of the cases … appear to have been coincidental", but that he had also stated that all of the cases were still under investigation and that no definite conclusion had been reached. Five of the 77 breakthrough cases had been fatal, but represented only a tiny portion of the nearly six million children who had already been inoculated under the program of free shots being supplied by the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis. The Government had stated repeatedly that there was no factual evidence at present to link the breakthrough cases with the vaccine.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the cost of living index decreased by a tenth of one percent in April, to 114.2 percent of the 1947-49 average, the lowest point in nearly two years, when it was at 114 in May, 1953, and three-tenths of a percent lower than in April of the prior year. Lower prices on automobiles and a small decline in rents were the main reasons for the reduction.

In Atlanta, negotiators met into the early morning hours to try to resolve the 67-day old strike by the Communications Workers of America against Southern Bell Telephone Co., impacting nine Southeastern states. The conference recessed after nearly 18 continuous hours of discussions, and company and union officials said that they would reconvene shortly after noon this date, with prospects for resolution looking positive. Members of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, facilitating the discussions, stated that both sides were "hard at work" seeking to end the strike. The president of the CWA said the previous night that he believed agreement could be reached in a matter of days or even hours.

In Jacksonville, Ala., four armed men robbed a bank of between $85,000 and $90,000 this date, after kidnaping an assistant vice-president of the bank from his home, forcing him to accompany two of the men to the bank while the other two maintained a watch on his wife and two children. At the bank, the two robbers, one armed with a sawed-off shotgun and the other with a pistol, met employees as they arrived for work and tied them up and placed them in a back room, until a time-lock allowed the vault to be opened, giving them access to the money. They then transported the loot in a repossessed automobile, ordering the kidnaped bank officer to help them carry the money to the car, which they then drove to his house, picked up their accomplices and fled. The State Highway Patrol set up roadblocks around Jacksonville, located about 70 miles east of Birmingham, and FBI agents joined local officers in the hunt for the robbers. No one was injured in the robbery.

In Kingsville, Tex., four school boys were killed during a rainstorm when a lightning bolt struck 42 of the children. A Colorado woman was also drowned as a result of swollen rivers from torrential rains impacting four Southwestern states this date, in one of the most destructive spring floods in several years. In addition, Oklahoma and New Mexico were significantly impacted.

In Raleigh, the State House was expected to give quick approval on second reading this date to a 9.768 million dollar per year revenue bill, with the third and final reading to be made at a special session after midnight, as no tax bill could be given two readings on the same day. The General Assembly was anticipating adjournment of the 1955 session on the following Wednesday or Thursday.

Also in Raleigh, it was reported that Governor Luther Hodges had said this date at a press conference that he had not made up his mind whether he would be a candidate in the gubernatorial race of 1956, governors of the state at the time normally allowed only one four-year term in office, but Governor Hodges, who had acceded to the office in November, 1954 following the death of his predecessor, Governor William B. Umstead, was allowed to run again in 1956, eventually doing so and winning, becoming by 1961, at the end of his term, the longest serving Governor in the history of the state. An article in the Durham Herald the previous day had said that the Governor had definitely decided to seek election in 1956, quoting a close friend of the Governor as the source of the story. But the Governor said that he had not spoken to any close friend or even to his own family about his future plans. The Governor also said that he was glad that the Legislature had finally reached an agreement on raising tax revenue to balance the budget for the ensuing biennium, and also stated his approval of the legislation enacted the previous day to ban the sale of comic books which depicted mayhem, sexual acts or use of narcotics, saying that he believed that lurid comic books had "done more harm than good" and that the ban did not violate basic principles of censorship. He also indicated that because of the press of business, he would have to cancel plans to fly to Washington to be present at the time the President presented to a blind Asheville Judge, Sam Cathey, an award as the nation's handicapped man of the year.

In Charlotte, a Superior Court judge, who had the previous day sentenced a defendant convicted of six counts of crimes against nature to five years in prison, reduced the sentence this date to 3 to 5 years, after the defendant was allowed to enter a plea of guilty to an attempted crime against nature, changing the charges from a felony to a misdemeanor and thereby avoiding the minimum prison sentence of five years. The judge sentenced ten other defendants the previous day, three of whom were referred to probation for investigation, while two received suspended sentences and the others, sentences ranging from 12 to 18 months. The three defendants referred to probation were juveniles.

In Rock Hill, S.C., the whole town had turned out to welcome a Washington policeman, Jack Bonomo, who was spending this date and the following day in the town after being invited as its guest, as a way of appreciation for guiding Rock Hill boys on annual tours of the nation's capital. Members of the town's Junior Police went to Washington each year and Sgt. Bonomo had conducted them around the city and had spent much time with them in the process.

In Newark, O., Junior had returned to his pool this date following an escape, but not because of elaborate traps which had been set to snare him. He and Smokey had slipped through a hole in their tank on Monday and had spent several days in the waters of Buckeye Lake, Smokey having been recaptured on Wednesday, but then dying of a gastric disturbance thereafter. The manager of the park lake from which the two had escaped set up traps for Junior, but he was not to be found, until someone suggested that the manager look in the pool, where he saw Junior swimming around after returning through the unrepaired hole through which the two had effected their escape. The manager then repaired the hole. It sounds like that was a method of incarceration which worked, effective enough to induce both inmates to return after their escape, having apparently not inflicted any injury to anyone while on the lam. This story should be studied by modern penology. Apparently, water therapy is good.

On the editorial page, "Jaypees: Shadow Play in Raleigh" indicates that the General Assembly's efforts regarding the justices of the peace of the state had been more in the nature of exhibitions than contests, and that in the end, all attempts to make the system respectable had been abandoned. The bills which had been introduced by a State Senator had been well-intended, but when the time came to act, too many of the legislators had abandoned the effort, the legislation having been amended to death, with 22 of the 100 counties having succeeded in getting themselves exempted from the measure while the bill went through the Senate. Then on the House floor the prior Tuesday, there was another barrage of exempting amendments, such that 70 of the 100 counties had managed to achieve exemptions. Then on Wednesday, three more were added to the list, until finally the supporters of the bills gave up.

The principal bill, which had removed the profit motive from convictions obtained before justices of the peace, wound up bottled up in committee. It suggests that some good might have been done by allowing the measure to come to a vote, despite some of the counties which had been exempted containing some of the state's worst examples of jaypee justice.

The system, with its built-in fee structure weakness, was a blot on the good name of the state and, it concludes, it was fundamentally wrong for any part of the justice system to have a financial interest in the outcome, that the system ought be junked or completely reformed.

"Doubt Has Not Dimmed the Spirit" indicates that the Heritage Day ceremonies at Independence Square in Charlotte during the afternoon had demonstrated a wonderful fact about spirit and pride, indicating that they flourished strongest when their source was under attack, referring to the controversy over the authenticity of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence.

It allows that the professional historians had a duty to pick apart the document, but says that when they had finished, it would continue, regardless of their conclusion as to its authenticity, to revere the spirit of the men who had stood and defied tyranny, that the important thing about independence was belief, not penmanship.

Is there not something in there also about being honest about history and not exaggerating the role of the community in it, discouraging false pride on the part of local residents while encouraging pride in the actual history?

"Thinker, Doer, Teacher and Preacher" finds that organized religion had been demonstrating enormous vitality throughout the South during the previous few decades because of a dynamic spiritual leadership of a small group of gifted and dedicated ministers. That group included Dr. Casper C. Warren, pastor of Charlotte's First Baptist Church, who had been named president of the Southern Baptist Convention during the week.

It finds that he deserved the salute of both the city and the state, having become the first North Carolinian to be named to that office in the Convention's 110-year history. Dr. Warren had been a practicing attorney between 1920 and 1922, prior to entering the ministry. He had been active in a wide range of community, state and regional matters and had been mentioned as a prospective gubernatorial candidate, although he had never sought political office. He was known among Baptists for his leadership in the mission field. He had been president of the Baptist State Convention and the Baptist General Board, and had held numerous executive positions in the Southern Baptist Convention. He was a trustee of Wake Forest College and chaired a committee which had raised 1.5 million dollars for the transfer of the institution to Winston-Salem from the town of Wake Forest near Raleigh, the institution's original location.

It regards him as a thinker, a doer, a teacher and a preacher, all rolled into one bundle of dedicated energy, concludes that he had given much to a great cause and would give more.

"Of Colds, Cash and Centenarians" informs that a cold had cost 108-year old Albert Woolson, the last survivor of the Union Army during the Civil War, $1,200 in hospital bills which he could not pay. His plight had come before Congress the prior Tuesday, and the House had voted to pay the bill after the Judiciary Committee indicated that Mr. Woolson was the last survivor of an era. But Representative Pat Jennings of Virginia then corrected that claim, stating that there were three surviving members of the Confederate Army, Bill Lundy, 107, of Florida, John Salling, 109, of Virginia, and Walter Williams, 112, of Texas, and Mr. Jennings insisted that they receive the same consideration accorded Mr. Woolson.

It indicates that it appreciates the sentiment of the House, but suggests that it first find out whether those Confederates wanted the help, that a man who had lived to be 112 might resent the offer.

A piece from the Coastland Times of Manteo, N.C., titled "There Is Nothing So Costly", indicates that there was nothing so thoughtless and careless in mankind as starting forest fires, with two counties in the state, Tyrrell and Hyde, having had major fires during the week, suffering heavy damage, with such small counties having few resources beyond their basic needs with which to deal with the disaster, the greatest conflagration of its type in the history of the state, at least since a fire several centuries earlier had created Lake Mattamuskeet.

Every citizen would have to suffer as a result of the fire because landowners would appear before county boards asking for rebates in taxes or large reductions in valuations, which would reduce the tax revenues of those counties and add burdens to already overtaxed citizens of the state. Another source of income was also lost because of game birds and animals of all types having been destroyed, meaning that fewer hunters would come to those counties and spend their money on native guides and tourist lodges. The timber industry would also be hurt for many years to come, with four million dollars worth of timber having been lost in the fire, and many more millions to follow in the years ahead. The investment of landowning companies which had spent money on reforestation projects which would have rapidly increased the value of the properties for taxes and produced income for laborers, had also been lost.

It indicates that no hurricane or period of hurricanes had ever combined to cause so much costly damage for the people of those two counties. It urges that it was unfortunate that humans could not devise more effective educational managers for prevention of such fires and deter the perpetrators by providing them severe punishment. It urges that everyone assist in every way possible to prevent a repetition of such calamities.

Drew Pearson indicates that the next big revolt in Congress could occur in the House Education and Labor Committee, whose members were upset at their chairman, Congressman Graham Barden of North Carolina, whose filibustering tactics against two important bills, Federal aid for school construction and minimum-wage liberalization, had his colleagues so upset that they might engage in open rebellion. The Congressman was seeking to prolong hearings on the school construction bill indefinitely, preventing a floor vote during the current session, and was taking up so much time of the Committee that it would forestall action on the minimum wage bill. Democratic Congressman Cleveland Bailey of West Virginia, leader of the insurgent majority, had warned Mr. Barden at a recent closed-door session that the Committee had delayed far too long in authorizing Federal aid to build new schools, and that if the delay continued, Mr. Bailey would demand a showdown vote on who was responsible. Democratic Congressman Lee Metcalf of Montana interjected that he had every intention to ask for a vote soon on the minimum wage bill. Mr. Barden replied that it was no surprise to him, that he was aware of how Mr. Metcalf felt about that bill.

Former New York Governor Thomas Dewey, who was a snappy dresser, had arrived in Washington recently for the Gridiron Club dinner, which required white tie and tails, but much to Mr. Dewey's horror, he found that he brought with him no starched collar to support his white tie. He summoned a bellboy and instructed him to search for an evening dress collar, but it was late in the evening and most of the stores had closed, the bellboy eventually returning with a size 17 collar, the only one he could find. Mr. Dewey wore a size 15. Having no choice, he donned the size 17 collar and went to the dinner, explaining to the guests, including the President, that he had not shrunk as a result of the hazards of the Administration and had not "shriveled as a result of my retiring to private life."

Former President Truman had received his biggest birthday chuckle from a greeting sent by DNC headquarters, consisting of an original cartoon, showing an "out to lunch" sign at the White House being replaced by a sign reading "out to golf".

The President's speechwriters were having trouble keeping him from giving his speeches off-the-cuff, as had former President Truman. President Eisenhower had insisted on giving his next speech extemporaneously, explaining that he was more at ease saying what came to his mind than in reading stilted lines written by another. The ghostwriters, however, warned that a President's every word had to be carefully considered in advance or he might upset international policy in extempore—vaporization through extemporization, as it possibly might be, que sera. So, the President grudgingly agreed to stick to the text in his next speech.

Agriculture Department employees were relieved when the column had revealed how they were mailing out postcards to boost the circulation of Newsweek magazine, with the postcards calling attention to an article in the magazine on the Council for Agricultural and Chemergic Research, the president of which, Henry McKnight, and its board chairman, Wheeler McMillan, being staunch supporters of the President. But the morning after Mr. Pearson had disclosed that a Newsweek promotional campaign was underway on Government time, a secretary in the Agriculture Department had remarked that there would be trouble with that business. An official of the Department said it ended that kind of project, and he then collected the remaining postcards and disappeared.

Doris Fleeson indicates that the Republican strategy remained fixed, to box the President into running again in 1956, shunting aside all differences in policy and seeking to suppress differences of opinion within the party, having the effect of turning the 1956 election into a popularity contest.

She indicates that perhaps the Republicans should not be blamed too much as they had a popular President and not much else going for them as the minority in Congress, a minority split between a right wing hampered by the need of the party for the President and a pro-Eisenhower wing hampered by its own lack of political moxie. Democrats had been winning nearly every election since the President's election in 1952, with the President no longer having coattails, the Democrats, for instance, having won nine governorships from Republicans, as well as having taken back both houses of Congress from the Republicans in the midterms.

But it was the Democratic leadership in Congress which made it possible for Republicans to run the popularity contest for 1956 instead of a campaign, as the efforts of that leadership had been devoted almost exclusively to soft-pedaling controversy and bypassing investigations. Because Democrats had voted with the Eisenhower Republicans during the first two years of the Administration, practically every piece of major legislation, albeit few in number, had become law. Democrats had taken the lead on foreign policy and praised the President for following them. The Democrats had proposed investigations and hearings on antitrust, natural gas, the Dixon-Yates utility combine contract controversy, the shortage of schools, civil defense, and the increasing Soviet air potential. But the investigations appeared just to fade away, with no encouragement having been given to uncovering the weaknesses of the Administration or to going deeply into the big business aspects of it.

The Democrats returned from their home districts and states indicating that the people were not interested in issues. Ms. Fleeson concludes that it raised the question as to which had come first, the chicken or the egg, with people unable to become excited about issues which were never discussed.

Robert C. Ruark, in Palamos, Spain, indicates that recently he had been at a large bullfight in Barcelona, when the U.S. 6th Fleet was in town in force, resulting in some 5,000 to 10,000 sailors and Marines attending the bullfight during shore leave. In the rougher districts of the city, there were huge numbers of young sailors and Marines wandering around. Nothing had happened at the bullfight in a crowd of about 30,000, with beer and brandy freely sold. The young sailors and Marines were tall and tanned and looked sharp in their white suits, well-behaved and sensitive to a foreign surrounding. They came from every part of the U.S. and were of every race, some from rich families and some from slums, a cross-section of American youth, but they behaved. The few who had not behaved had been taken away by the shore patrol or worse. Once in awhile, there was a real bad kid who would get into serious trouble and had to be taken to the brig in Portsmouth, N.H., or occasionally was executed. He suggests that they had an excuse for misbehavior, given their status in the military.

But they were not the crazy mixed-up "'yoots'" making the daily headlines in the cities. There were New York gangs threatening the police force, "dirty-girls who have gang wars over a jurisdiction of boyfriends, complete moral morons who shoot innocent kids off bicycles—the likes of 'Tarzan' Santana who carries a gun because he wants to be a fighter and 'doesn't want to hurt his hands in a street brawl.'" (A letter writer the previous day, regarding the evils of guns, had referenced the case without naming Mr. Santana, 17, who had recently been arrested for shooting to death an innocent 15-year old honor student in the Bronx because Mr. Santana and his fellow gang members thought that the boy was a member of a rival gang and they were upset about the similarity of competing jackets the other club's members were wearing. When confronted by Mr. Santana and his associates, the boy denied membership in any gang, the initial reports indicating that he had only been riding his bicycle along the street, when he was accosted and then shot to death. When Mr. Santana, charged with first-degree murder, arrived at a police station for fingerprinting, he was laughing and smiling, greeting groups of girls who were fawning over him as a folk hero.)

Mr. Ruark says that they were not kids anymore but rather creatures, "animals for whose existence I can see no reasonable explanation, since no environment can probably be bad enough to make thrill-murderers." He suggests that perhaps if they were shoved into the military services and had the nonsense knocked out of them, they would change, but he doubts it. He says that he had seen the "real bad ones" during his time in the Navy, and they seldom responded to any sort of treatment, whether kind or otherwise. He was inclined to believe that the society had spawned a partial generation of "no-hopers", as Aussies called such youth.

He suggests that perhaps crime and punishment was all wrong in the U.S., that a 16-year old thug who killed callously was as guilty of murder as a 22-year old thug who did so, as the corpse was all the same regardless of the age of the perpetrator, and so the younger should not simply be treated as a juvenile delinquent. He thinks that there was little to do but start hitting the "yoots" with the book, that they would not change until they were addressed with the same discipline which the armed forces used, basically an eye for an eye.

"But I still cannot see into the skulls of the wild kids. There is no justification of their insane actions, their lust for blood, their complete negation of sensible action. At least the Mau Mau's of Kenya had some early justification for resentment. Our American Mau Mau's are just plain mean, vicious and murderous, without cause."

Whether, incidentally, he had become aware that there would be a movie released in the fall under the title "Rebel without a Cause", released within a month after actor James Dean would die on September 30 in a car crash, is, of course, not known. In any event, more to his point, "West Side Story", both the original Broadway musical of 1957 and the movie which followed in 1961, would address in a positive way, through art, the problems associated with New York gang activity. It was a genuine social issue at the time, a situation also sought to be addressed in such television shows as "East Side, West Side" and "Naked City", but whether the film needed to be remade in 2021 is something we question. The original was quite good enough, but, in fairness, we have not seen the remake. Typically, we find remakes to be unneeded, out of context of the times for which the original was intended, uniform commercialization through formulaic codification leading to spoliation, and quite inferior to the original. Krup you and your remakes...

In any event, Mr. Ruark, despite his sociology degree from UNC, had a very primitive notion of discipline and punishment for crime, was a strong believer in corporal punishment for youth, not quite realizing that some of the problems with rampant juvenile delinquency in the 1950's, perhaps most of the problems, had generated from the wartime experience of children growing up without fathers around to provide strong male role models, and mothers also absent for much of the day, working in war factories, with those wartime children now having become teenagers, the 17-year old Mr. Santana, for instance, having been born in 1938, and thus having begun school right around the end of World War II—not unlike, for another instance, young Lee Oswald, born in 1939, and who also spent part of his youth in New York City, chided for his Southern accent. It is not to provide an excuse for murder, but it is to suggest that some level of understanding had to take place somewhere along the line to avoid repetition of the worst results of a juvenile who had not accumulated enough maturity and resistance to a hardened world to avoid being sucked into a maelstrom where survival of the fittest became the rule of the day on the streets, the usual adolescent quest for identity and degree of self-esteem from some form of achievement, not found in school, often being satisfied by joining a gang. But, of course, in the case of Mr. Santana, we are left to speculate as to his background and socio-economic situation.

A letter writer congratulates the newspaper on its May 12 editorial, "Take Top City Jobs out of Politics", finds it had hit the mark exactly, wonders when the City Council would stop spending money. He says that he had never voted for any of the members presently on the Council or for anything they had placed on the ballot, finds it to be a poor source of appointive authority.

A letter from a Hickory physician comments on the May 11 editorial, "Needed: Some Plain Talk about Polio", suggests that plain talk would not necessarily provide the facts, that the "so-called 'scientists'" who had been engaged in the manufacture of polio vaccines for years talked plain enough, except that they were conspiring to evade the truth. Surgeon General Leonard Scheele and the President were doing their utmost to become involved in that conspiracy. Dr. Albert Sabin of Cincinnati said that he had fed live polio virus to prisoners without harmful results, and the writer indicates that if that were so, infectious or malignant polio virus could be dismissed from everyone's minds as a myth. There were some who said that wherever Americans and American cigarettes went, there was polio, while others said that while Americans bragged about the highest standard of living on earth, children were dying of polio, which was unknown in other countries. The writer finds that it could be laid to the "extravagant and vicious consumption of nicotine" in the U.S. The most deadly type of polio, bulbar, was apoplexy because the bulb was inside the cranium and the hemorrhage there paralyzed the vagus nerve which supplied the heart and lungs. He says that polio was a hemorrhagic disease.

A letter writer from Aurora, Colo., indicates having spent pleasant days near Charlotte when he was in the Air Force during World War I, and so was interested to read an editorial from the newspaper on desegregation, which had appeared in the Christian Science Monitor. He says that, though he had no native Southern connections, he sympathizes with the Southern white people and believed they were being done a great wrong, which could not be righted until something radically different from desegregation was attempted. He says that in Colorado they were asked to assimilate not only black people but Indians, Mexicans, Japanese and Chinese. He believes that when the white people realized what was being done to them in the name of "tolerance", they would not permit it, regardless of the Supreme Court.

A letter writer from Hamlet says that for the nation to remain intact, the home had to remain intact, that a nation was a group of homes and that the more homes which were broken, the more likely would be the nation also to break up. "If we the people put our faith in the 'power of the sword'—and 'abandon the power of the word,' of Jesus Christ—we will ultimately come to ruin." He says that when Jesus spoke the words, "Follow me," to certain individuals during his lifetime, he was not only speaking to those persons, but was speaking to all people for all time.

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