The Charlotte News

Wednesday, May 25, 1955


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that a representative of Pitman-Moore Co. of Evansville, Ind., manufacturer of the Salk polio vaccine, had said this date that he anticipated receiving word from the Government this date that the inoculation program would go ahead, would be altered temporarily, or would be called off entirely. He said he believed it was one of the purposes of the meeting of administrative representatives of the six companies making the vaccine, which had been called by the Public Health Service for the present afternoon. Surgeon General Leonard Scheele had stated the previous night that he was confident of the safety of the vaccine already used, with the exception of that from two suspected lots which had been produced by Cutter Laboratories of Berkeley, Calif. The Public Health Service reported that the number of confirmed cases of polio among persons who had been vaccinated had risen to 92, an increase of four since the previous day, three of whom had received the vaccine manufactured by Eli Lilly, Co., and one from vaccine supplied by Wyeth, Inc., of Marietta, Pa.—which, considering that Andrew Wyeth's most famous living subject was crippled, albeit not from polio, might not have been the best choice of companies to produce the vaccine. The total number of polio cases of all kinds reported since the initial release of the vaccine on April 12 had been 682, and of those who had developed polio after the first inoculation shot, 60 had received vaccine manufactured by Cutter.

Representative Arthur Klein of New York, during hearings before the House Commerce Committee, had questioned whether politics might have figured into the licensing of Cutter to produce the vaccine, but Roswell Perkins, Assistant Secretary of HEW, said that such a charge was "absolutely false". Dr. Scheele said that Cutter had been licensed to produce biological products since 1914 and that their overall record had been "excellent". HEW Secretary Oveta Culp Hobby said in a written statement to the Committee that 13,350,000 children could be vaccinated under a proposed Federal fund of 28 million dollars to provide free vaccine for the indigent. (Quickly figure, children, how much each shot of the vaccine would cost.)

Julian Scheer of The News, through consultation with the City-County health officer, seeks to answer a few questions posed by Charlotte area parents regarding the vaccine, whether the single shot received initially under the free program for first and second-graders had been effective in supplying immunity to polio and whether children would have to start again with their shots after the delay in the program, the regimen of the vaccine designed to be provided in two initial shots plus a third booster shot, the health officer indicating that the first shot would not immunize the child but was part of the overall inoculation plan and would not have to be repeated once the resumption of the program took place, though if a sufficient amount of time passed, a fourth shot might become necessary. A child with one shot only, however, was better off than a child without any shot, though, according to the health officer, the effect of only one shot of any vaccine was "negligible" and that condition presumably extended to the polio vaccine. He said that he would rather delay the vaccination program with questionable vaccine rather than go ahead at the present time, and would proceed with the program as soon as the vaccine was cleared. (Mr. Scheer, as pointed out previously, would become during the 1960's, from the time of the early Mercury orbital through the Apollo space programs, publicity director for NASA, and so anything on which he reported regarding booster shots could be taken to the bank as reliable, especially concerning a serum developed from monkey kidneys.)

Before the Senate Investigations subcommittee, a woman testified that when she tried to recover for the Government thousands of dollars she believed had been overpaid to a contractor, her Army Quartermaster Corps bosses told her "not to be a crusader". The Senators on the subcommittee did not question her immediately regarding other testimony which suggested that she may have accepted a gift of a cloth coat worth $24.75 from an agent for firms doing business with the Government. She said she had been employed by the Quartermaster Corps in New York City in 1952 and 1953, when she tried to recover an amount equal to several times her annual salary, which she said had been overpaid to a Chicago clothing manufacturer on a contract to produce some uniform caps for the armed services. She never had indicated who exactly had told her not to be a crusader, but named three persons as having backed the manufacturer's claim that he did not owe the money, which the witness thought might have totaled about $30,000. The Army announced the immediate dismissal the previous day of David Pollack as a contract analyst for the Quartermaster Corps in Philadelphia, after his testimony the previous day, which the Army said differed from testimony he had given in a previous closed session of the subcommittee, which Mr. Pollack had conceded was inconsistent, but disputed testimony from another witness that he had taken money from a private firm dealing with the Army.

The Senate Post Office and Civil Service Committee this date unanimously approved a new postal pay increase bill which would raise salaries of about 500,000 postal workers by about 8 percent, the members stating that they believed it would be acceptable to the President, who had vetoed a bill providing for an average of an 8.6 percent pay increase for the postal workers.

The Senate would begin voting this date on the disputed highway bill with Democrats confident that they could defeat Republican efforts to substitute the President's plan and pass their own plan, sponsored by Senator Albert Gore of Tennessee, with Republicans conceding privately that they believed their plan would have little chance of success but would try to have the Gore bill resubmitted to the Public Works Committee to prevent it from passing immediately. The Administration was counting on receiving more support for its program within the House. Senator Harry F. Byrd of Virginia criticized the financing features of the Administration plan, specifically the proposal to set up a "dummy corporation" to issue 30-year bonds and to earmark gasoline tax revenues to pay for them, saying that nothing in his 22 years of experience in the Senate had done more to wreck the fiscal budget than would the adoption of that plan, and that it would also abolish the present formula for distributing highway grants to states and turn over to the proposed Federal corporation absolute control over 40,000 miles of the most important roads in the country, as well as causing other problems.

The President this date nominated Rear Admiral Arleigh Burke to be chief of Naval Operations, succeeding Admiral Robert Carney, who had been the center of a controversy regarding predictions he reportedly made of a Communist attack on the offshore islands of Quemoy and Matsu, first by April 15, then subsequently altering the prediction to May 15, predictions which Admiral Carney denied having made, saying that instead he had referred to capabilities of the Communists of being able to launch an attack by those times if they so chose, with some in the press who were present at the time of the statement having agreed with the Admiral's version, while others stuck by the originally published account of the prediction. The President also nominated for an additional two-year term as Joint Chiefs chairman Admiral Arthur Radford, and General Nathan Twining for an additional two-year term as the Air Force chief of staff. Earlier in the month, the President had nominated General Maxwell Taylor to succeed General Matthew Ridgway as chief of staff of the Army.

In Kaiserlautern, West Germany, it was announced by the Army that evangelist Billy Graham would preach to members of the largest U.S. community in Europe at Vogelweh on June 22.

In Raleigh, the State Senate unanimously approved on the third reading the tax bill which would balance the budget for the ensuing biennium by raising taxes on liquor, wine and beer, placing all building materials under the 3 percent sales tax, also taxing at the rate of 3 percent hotel and motel accommodations, taxing motor vehicles and airplanes sales at 1 percent, with an $80 maximum, removing the $15 minimum sales tax on a single article and increasing the levy on premiums of domestic insurance companies. The sales tax on farm machinery was also reduced from 3 percent to 1/20 of one percent.

Also in Raleigh, Mecklenburg County State Representative Jack Love was acquitted of a disorderly conduct charge this date after the court directed the verdict following a hearing in which a police officer and the defendant had given conflicting versions of an incident resulting in his arrest on April 29 following a trip by the General Assembly members to Fort Bragg. The State House Speaker, Larry Moore, had been among the crowd of legislators who had appeared as character witnesses for Mr. Love. The police officer testified that the defendant had used profane and obscene language during the incident, which had occurred while buses were returning from Fort Bragg and unloading in front of a downtown hotel, that when the officer had asked the driver of one of the buses to move it because it was blocking traffic, Mr. Love had told him, "This is my damn bus." He referred to being vice-president of the Queen City Trailways Bus Co., which had provided the buses for the trip. When the officer had asked him whether he worked for the bus company, he had said, "Hell, yes." The officer said he appeared to be angry and used "damn" twice, in addition to "hell". Mr. Love found the officer to be "acting pretty smart" and he figured that he would be as smart as the officer was. The officer said that a lot of drinking had been going on inside the bus and it was littered with paper cups and whiskey bottles, that Mr. Love "was pretty high" at the time. The officer denied being angry or using strong language and said he told the defendant not to create any more of a scene before taking him to the county jail.

In Goldsboro, four Wayne County detectives looking for a liquor still found their way blocked by a water hazard, causing them to have to change clothes and wade through the water to the still, at which point the two operators of it had fled, the detectives proceeding to destroy the still and returned to their car, only to find that someone had hitched up two tractors and plowed up the field over which the car needed to travel, but they made it anyway. They then found that someone had placed a board studded with spikes in a mudhole, which the officers removed, and also had to remove a strand of barbed wire blocking their route.

In Detroit, a man initially objected when the Department of Public Works Commission notified him that as a homeowner, he would have to comply with City regulations and purchase a garbage can, the man explaining that he was a bachelor and lived alone, ate all of his meals out and thus never used his garbage can, the Commission, however, remaining adamant that he purchase the can, which the man then did and placed it in his front window for City officials to see, saying that he wanted everyone to be happy.

On the editorial page, "The 1955 Legislature in Retrospect: Clanking Gears in the Powerhouse" finds that the session had been "long on pageantry, short on accomplishment," that for nearly 5 months it had been a "powerhouse of clanking gears." Many essential chores had been left undone while minutiae often received attention far beyond their actual importance.

Too often, the effectiveness and integrity of individual members of the Legislature had been diluted by the group, and too often, worthy legislation had disappeared because of clashing sectionalism and political "bugaboos", with the result that the body had failed to deal realistically with some of the most important socioeconomic problems of the times.

Legislators had yielded to the pressure of lobbyists in forming its tax program and had avoided some of the more logical sources of new revenue, such as tobacco, had yielded to the fears of Black Belt legislators and adopted an unnecessarily blunt policy resolution on segregation before knowing what the implementing decision in Brown v. Board of Education would be. It also had ignored the governmental reforms suggested during the session by Governor Luther Hodges and others.

It had refused to obey the State Constitution's requirement for redistricting and reapportionment in accordance with changes in population as recorded by the decennial census, which had also been skipped by the 1951 and 1953 Legislatures. As a result, populous counties such as Mecklenburg were still being deprived of their fair share of representation in the Legislature.

Furthermore, an undemocratic secrecy rule had been extended to all legislative committees during the present session, though the broad new power was rarely invoked, as indicated on the page this date in a piece by News reporter Julian Scheer. It finds, however, the precedent to be no less dangerous.

It had also failed to enact a state minimum wage law, with reactionary opposition to the old 55-cent proposal having succeeded in blocking the bill, which had similarly died in committee two years earlier, despite being supported by deceased former Governor William B. Umstead at the time.

The most important bill to come from the 1955 session, it finds, had provided for judicial redistricting, designed to help counties, such as Mecklenburg, with congested dockets, with Mecklenburg having received a new judge under the setup. There had also been a rewriting of the state's corporation laws, but which would not take effect until mid-1957.

The Legislature had failed to adopt an adequate and effective water control bill but had taken several steps in the right direction.

Prisons were not separated out from the Highway Department, as they should have been, but the foundation had been laid for such a move later.

The bill which had turned pupil assignment over to local school boards was not so extreme as it might have been, considering the attitudes of some legislators who still supported segregation of the public schools.

Some obviously bad bills had been defeated, such as the one to restrict the use of the speed detection whammies, but only after long and bitter debates. Mecklenburg County had received authorization for a new small claims court which it needed, and Charlotte had won approval for some minor tax collection procedures and perimeter zoning-subdivision control legislation.

It concludes that no one had expected the Legislature to slay all the legislative dragons, but that the session could have accomplished more had there been firmer leadership, less bickering, and fewer examples of short-sighted sectionalism, finding that the greatest shortcoming had been the lack of teamwork.

"A Country Full of Radicals" finds the word "radical" to be a real ogre to politicians who treated the word as if it wore a long, black beard, carried a bomb in a satchel and read the Daily Worker, using it against their enemies and then running like rabbits before it came bouncing back.

Senator Sam J. Ervin of North Carolina recently had used it against Republican supporters of the President's highway construction program, which would finance trunk routes outside the Federal budget by creating an authority to issue bonds. The Senator said that in the case, Democrats opposing the bill were the conservatives and the Republicans were the radicals.

The piece finds that true but suspects that the Senator would rather be called a "conservative", even if he favored the bill. It posits that the country was full of "radicals", some of whom were considered to be the President, Senator McCarthy, former President Truman, Chief Justice Earl Warren, former Governor of South Carolina and former Secretary of State James Byrnes, former Governor of Georgia Herman Talmadge, and Senator Ervin, himself. In addition, FDR and former President Hoover had also been considered radicals, as had President Washington. Webster's Dictionary defined the term as "one who advocates sweeping changes in laws and methods of government with the least delay." Radicals, such as former Governors Byrnes and Talmadge, wanted to abolish the public school systems in their states to avoid having to desegregate them, resulting from the opinion of the "radical" Chief Justice Warren. Radical former President Hoover, according to his friends, had tried and failed to obtain from the Democratic Congress the sweeping changes in law which the radical FDR had later put into effect after approval by Congress. And the radical Senator McCarthy "wanted to make black mean white, good mean evil, and evil good."

It finds that the radical Senator Ervin, who had done such a good job curbing the radical Senator McCarthy during the censure hearings of the prior fall, had put forth the sweeping suggestion that the Supreme Court building have its motto removed, in light of the Brown v. Board of Education decision.

It concludes that its own radical suggestion was that "radical" be retired as a word from political weaponry and given the honor which it deserved, to be applied to a world where peace was finally found.

A piece from the Greensboro Daily News, titled "Davy Crockett & the Mec Dec", tells of becoming increasingly suspicious of the Davy Crockett legend, the more they heard of him, as he was said to have been born in three states, Tennessee, North Carolina and Franklin, the latter the original border region between North Carolina and Tennessee, to the point where it had concluded that he had not been born at all, as there was no birth certificate to show it, and no death certificate, or copy of either document, and no other documentation of him.

The events attributed to him were the stuff of legend, that he had "kilt a bar when he was only three" and "lost his mama in the A. and P." He was known as the "king of the wild frontier", but there was no record of his coronation. He was said to have served several terms in Congress, but plenty of "nonentities" had done so. The only plausible evidence of his existence was that he had written four books, despite being completely illiterate. It says that it had known illiterates who had written books by the score, as once they discovered they could do it, there was no stopping them. Yet, evidence of authorship was not enough, as shown by the example of William Shakespeare, who, though illiterate, had authored a number of plays, turning out to be either Lord Bacon or the Earl of something, the piece guessing that ultimately the plays might be ascribed to Queen Elizabeth I, "who dictated them while washing her stockings or jotted them down while waiting for her hair to dry."

It concludes that "like the Mecklenburg Declaration, David Crockett is obviously a figment of the imagination."

Drew Pearson discusses the confusing situation surrounding the Salk polio vaccine at present in the wake of the breakthrough cases after children had received the vaccine, the subsequent investigation of the manufacturers, and resultant halting temporarily of the program. He indicates that to understand the story fully, one had to go back to the beginning of the field tests conducted the previous summer, indicating that Dr. Jonas Salk, who had developed the vaccine, had first administered it to his own children and that shortly after the field tests had been completed successfully, had gained confidence that it would work and so approached various drug manufacturers asking them to begin preparation of the vaccine on a large-scale basis. He knew that to extract monkey kidneys in such a way that no live virus remained in the vaccine would be a complicated process when done by novices to the process and on a large-scale, also realizing that there would be a tremendous demand for the vaccine once its success had been announced. Most of the major drug companies had turned him down, not prepared to invest money in advance prior to knowing whether there would be great demand. The only exception had been Parke-Davis in Detroit, which made a large investment and was the first company to have its vaccine cleared by the Public Health Service.

After the initial rejection by the other major drug companies, the head of the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, believing in the success of the vaccine and understanding that there would be a great demand for it, decided to invest 9 million dollars of the Foundation's funds in advance orders with the drug companies, borrowing the money to do so. At that point, the drug companies began the manufacturing process. Out of their first batch of the vaccine, they reported that 500,000 cc's had been shipped to the regular commercial distributors of the drug companies and not to the Foundation. Mr. Pearson indicates that it was how the vaccine manufactured by Cutter Laboratories of Berkeley, Calif., had been found, only a few days after the April 12 release of the vaccine, in various places from Mexico to Arlington, Va. It was also why, out of the first fatalities after the vaccine had been administered, five had been children of doctors, as doctors who got the vaccine first had administered it to their own children. Some of that had been the vaccine manufactured by Cutter, before it was then withdrawn. He notes that Cutter had a criminal conviction in 1949 as a result of the FDA complaining that they had failed to sterilize certain water solutions.

He indicates that Senate investigators had learned that stock market speculators had received an advance tip on the Salk vaccine and invested heavily in the six drug companies manufacturing it, together expected to make 20 million dollars in profits during 1955. Dr. Salk, who had no patent on the vaccine, would get nothing, and he might not even receive some of the rewards proposed for him by Congress, all of which bills had gone first to the Labor and Education Committee, chaired by North Carolina Congressman Graham Barden, who said privately that he would not let a single such resolution leave his Committee for a vote on the House floor.

Meanwhile, Canada, according to Senator Richard Neuberger of Oregon, was charging only $1.50 for three Salk vaccine shots, in contrast to the wholesale cost in the U.S. of between $4.20 and $4.50. The Senator complained that while Canada had a program, the U.S. had none, the Canadian Government having bought up the entire production of one laboratory, enabling sufficient supplies to be available in that country. Mr. Pearson adds that a month prior to the April 12 release, the director of the Children's Bureau, under HEW Secretary Oveta Culp Hobby, had warned that some action ought be taken to prepare for the national distribution of the vaccine. Surgeon General Dr. Leonard Scheele believed likewise, but Mrs. Hobby had ignored that advice.

Doris Fleeson tells of the Democrats and Eisenhower Republicans finding the latest report of the Hoover Commission, recommending the curtailment of Government functions, to be unacceptable, the Democrats hoping to be able to use it during the 1956 campaign. Right wing Republicans had found the President's program to be an extension of the New Deal, but in actual performance, it had a mixed record, having made no new starts in public power and having given the states the right to the tidelands oil deposits, while promising not to wreck the TVA. He had weakened the independent agencies with the frequent appointment of administrators not in sympathy with the original aims of those agencies. But he had also gotten the Republican Congress in 1953 to expand Social Security. He had not proposed any fundamental reversals of New Deal programs, as had the Hoover Commission, which alarmed the Administration.

She points out that the first Hoover Commission during the Truman Administration had been bipartisan, with former Secretary of State Dean Acheson having made a major contribution, and its aim had been to make Government more efficient and less costly, the recommended reforms of which having been proposed by the President to Congress and Congress having enacted most of them. But the present Commission was examining the proper functions of government, and had only one liberal, Representative Chet Holifield of California, within its membership, and he had consistently dissented from its findings. The overall tendency was anti-New Deal.

Ms. Fleeson finds that the situation raised anew the question of former President Hoover's stature and standing with the American people. It had been a benefit to the Republicans to rehabilitate him, for as long as he stood as a symbol of the Depression and governmental laissez-faire in the face of it, it had been improbable that a Republican could be elected to the presidency. They had gotten a break when former President Truman had helped them by appointing Mr. Hoover as head of the first Commission, which had proved generally popular, enabling the comeback in the public perception of the former President. At the time, Democrats had argued that it was a political mistake on the part of President Truman, but the latter understood what it was to be down and kicked when one was down, and so had gone ahead with the appointment. She notes that President Truman had still not been invited to the White House by President Eisenhower, despite the latter having been appointed in late 1950 by President Truman to be supreme commander of NATO.

Julian Scheer of The News looks at the subject of secrecy in government committees of the General Assembly in Raleigh, indicating that in the current biennial session, the legislators had accomplished little beyond juggling of taxes and balancing of the proposed biennial budget, while in the process engendering misunderstanding, the most misunderstood part of which had been secrecy.

In 1953, the Legislature had passed a bill allowing closed meetings for finance and appropriation committees, previously prohibited under legislative rules. He provides details of that earlier ruling, the impetus for it having been the perceptions of some legislators that certain members of the press made it necessary by their reporting, while others thought the matter had been exaggerated, nevertheless believing that executive sessions were necessary at times so that members could speak freely at the meetings and receive testimony from witnesses without the chilling effect imposed by the presence of the press.

He concludes that generally, there appeared to have been little secrecy during the 1955 session, but the press still believed that there had been a bad precedent set and that a little secrecy could be a dangerous thing.

Framed Edition
[Return to Links
Page by Subject] [Return to Links-Page by Date] [Return to News<i><i><i>—</i></i></i>Framed Edition]
Links-Date Links-Subj.