The Charlotte News

Wednesday, June 1, 1955


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that sharply conflicting views had arisen this date over what local public school officials were likely to do about implementing plans of racial desegregation, with some Deep South political leaders stating that they would do nothing, predicting that the Brown v. Board of Education implementing decision, handed down the previous day by the Supreme Court, giving local officials primary responsibility in implementing desegregation, meant an indefinite extension of segregation for at least many years to come. But officials of the NAACP foresaw action without delay to wipe out almost all racially segregated schools by the beginning of the 1956-57 school year. Both sides vowed to fight on in the Federal District Courts, to which, for the most part, the Supreme Court had remanded the cases for further implementation consistent with the 1954 ruling, with Delaware's case remanded to that state's Supreme Court, from which it had orginally come to the U.S. Supreme Court. Senator Walter George of Georgia said that the decision was "very cautious" and seemed to him to mean, "Go slow, but go." The decision had called for a "prompt and reasonable start" on desegregation, with "primary responsibility" residing with state and local school officials to solve the problem, with the U.S. District Courts having the responsibility to enforce "good faith compliance at the earliest practicable date", when necessary. The story suggests that two results were likely, that the pattern of action would continue to vary sharply, with some border areas, such as Oklahoma, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland and Delaware, proceeding relatively rapidly toward complete integration, while resistance would be much greater in the Deep South areas, such as Georgia, Mississippi and South Carolina, with many variations among separate counties and school districts within those states, and that many court tests would likely occur into the future.

In Raleigh, several North Carolina legislators indicated that in their opinion, no special session of the General Assembly would be necessary as a result of the Brown implementing decision. Several state officials, including Governor Luther Hodges, withheld comment until they could further study the decision. He had stated that at first glance, he was inclined to agree that no special session would be necessary. A State Representative who had planned to propose to amend the State Constitution to allow public funds to be used to support private schools, in an effort to circumvent the 1954 Brown decision, had agreed to withdraw it after Governor Hodges had promised to call a special session in the event the implementing decision was "extreme or abrupt and would tend to seriously disrupt our public school system." That Representative said that he did not believe that a special session was necessary, saying that he thought the Court had done the most reasonable thing it could "after making the decision it did last year."

A late bulletin indicates that the Senate had passed a bill to raise the salaries of 500,000 postal workers by an average of 8 percent, after being assured that it was acceptable to the President, who had previously vetoed a bill which had raised the salaries by somewhat more, without also providing for a rise in postage rates to offset the salary increases. The Post Office Department this date took another step in decentralizing its operations by appointment of five regional directors.

In Detroit, the UAW this date extended its contract with Ford Motor Co. from midnight this night, when it was set to expire, to the following Monday morning, to provide additional time for further negotiations, with Ford having reportedly indicated willingness to bargain on a union-demanded guaranteed annual wage in an 11th-hour bid to avert a strike at midnight. The UAW wanted more time to consider the reported new concessions offered by Ford, with the Detroit Times having been informed by one source that Ford had stated that it might grant jobless payments to laid-off workers, supplemental to state unemployment compensation, with both sides, however, not making comment to confirm or deny those reports.

Near Akron, O., four children had died early this date in a fire at their home in Manchester, their father having smashed a casement window of the downstairs bedroom of two twins to try futilely to rescue them, and the other two children having refused to jump from the second-story window of their bedroom. Four other, older children of the family had escaped. The fire had started in the bedroom of the twins, with a drapery having caught on fire from an unknown source of ignition. Volunteer firemen had been unable to extinguish the blaze before it destroyed the home.

In Bryson City, N.C., 12 Clay County residents charged with conspiracy to violate Federal election laws the prior November, had won a directed verdict of acquittal in U.S. District Court this date, with the Government having dropped its case after acceding to the Court's ruling that only evidence of fraud in Federal balloting would be admitted. Other voting fraud cases, some in Swain and Graham Counties, plus the cases involving 23 additional indictments in Clay, would continue.

In Columbia, S.C., it was reported that Nathan Corn, who had been serving a life sentence for the 1948 murder of his employer, George Beam, conviction on which had been entered in 1949, and who had escaped from the South Carolina State Penitentiary the prior December 27, had been apprehended by the FBI in Los Angeles. He had been living under an assumed name when caught. He had earlier escaped in February, 1951, by concealing himself in a cardboard shipping container hauled from the prison on a delivery truck, and had been caught three weeks later in Illinois. Mr. Corn had been initially tried, convicted and sentenced to death, but had won a new trial on appeal, and after a second conviction, had been sentenced to life imprisonment. Two years earlier, he had sought on habeas corpus a new trial based on newly discovered evidence in the form of a purported deathbed confession by his father, who had died in 1951, but the petition was finally rejected after an evidentiary hearing, with the court finding that the confession was the "handiwork" of Mr. Corn's mother.

In Charlotte, a dump truck, loaded with eight tons of stone, had collided with an automobile at Central Avenue and Eastway Drive during the morning, knocking two elderly women 30 feet from the car and killing them instantly. Two other passengers in the backseat of the car were taken by ambulance to Memorial Hospital and were being treated for head, stomach and back injuries, in addition to cuts and bruises. All of the women had left the Baptist Home in Albemarle earlier in the morning to visit with friends at the Methodist Home off Eastway Drive. According to a police officer, the truck had the right-of-way and was traveling into the city, heading west on Central, and the 1949 Plymouth, in which the women were riding, had been headed north on Eastway, apparently not heeding a red blinker light and stop sign at the intersection, though the truck driver said that he could not tell whether the car had already stopped and then proceeded, as it was moving when he first saw it. The accident remained under investigation.

Parenthetically, a few months hence, W. J. Cash's brother, Henry, would establish a dry cleaning business on Central, just a block west of the intersection where the accident occurred, an early advertisement for the business oddly showing a customer at the drive-in window, in what appears to be a 1949 Plymouth, albeit a convertible, but the same make and year as the "death car" of the story. We know these arcane facts because it so happened that we were somewhat famous with Mr. and Mrs. Cash in those days, long ago, for knowing the makes and models of cars, as we occasionally hung around their dry cleaning plant for a little while on sunny summer afternoons, to dry out, before heading north to the Village Green where we sometimes played electric violin. Anyway, perhaps the photographer had a macabre sense of irony or serendipity simply played its role. There once was a nice shade tree out front until the City came along and cut it down. That's the way of progress.

Ann Sawyer of The News indicates that court action against property owners in Mecklenburg County, who had failed to list their personal property during the year, appeared definite this date, as the tax supervisor said that his office planned to indict on misdemeanor charges those individuals for failure to list their property.

On the editorial page, "The Curtain Rises on a New Era" finds a new era to be dawning in the wake of the Brown v. Board of Education implementing decision the previous day, requiring the states practicing segregation in the public schools to act "with all deliberate speed" in eliminating segregation, with due regard to local circumstances and equity in implementing plans to desegregate to be practiced by the lower courts. Racial barriers which had existed for generations had to be dissolved.

The piece finds that the opinion was an historic milestone which had to be "passed safely and sanely", not in muddled fashion. It urges calm, deliberate action, and that if Southerners did not do so, the action would be taken by others anyway.

It indicates that the newspaper had expressed grave disappointment in the Brown decision a year earlier, holding continued public school segregation to be unconstitutional and overruling the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson doctrine, which had held that separate but equal facilities passed muster under the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. It says that the newspaper had nevertheless recognized that the end of an era was nigh, and that the South had to keep the sweep of history in perspective and utilize intelligence coolly and dispassionately, finding the resources for giving all of its children equality of education.

It finds that the Court had exhibited broad wisdom and keen understanding in drafting its formula for implementation, being as reasonable as circumstances would permit, allowing for gradual transition, taking into account local problems, not imposing any strict time limit on desegregation. It suggests that it could be argued that the Court should order immediate vindication of Constitutional rights, and that, ordinarily, that would be true, but that the Court had wisely recognized that it was not an ordinary civil rights case, rather one involving millions of people with varied racial attitudes throughout the South, varying from community to community as well as between the states. Thus time and local discretion were important. The Court had made clear, however, that those factors would not be permitted to be used for the purpose of evasion of the decision.

It believes that the Court's opinion would encourage compliance, despite most citizens of the South wanting to preserve segregation, but also having fundamental respect for democratic institutions and processes, realizing that the road ahead would have many difficulties, which could be overcome through patient understanding regarding sensibilities which had developed over the course of generations in a segregated society.

It concludes that the need for a definite program of action in Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, and throughout the state, was now apparent and that little time should be wasted in assembling appropriate authorities to discuss timetables and methods of compliance, suggesting that it would be folly to pretend that the tasks ahead would be easy or popular. It finds that the South would be up to the job and is confident that it would meet the obligations of the future with "intelligence and honor".

There is no mention in the stories and editorials on the subject, either in the previous day's edition of the newspaper or in this date's edition, of the Court's use of the phrase at the end of its decision, "with all deliberate speed", in particular reference to how fast the lower courts should issue decrees "necessary and proper" to admit the parties to the cases to public schools on a racially nondiscriminatory basis, though that phrase would subsequently become the most emblematic of the implementing decision in terms of its perceived time allowed for desegregation generally.

"The Man McCarthy Ran Away From" indicates that the Army-McCarthy hearings of the spring of 1954 had been "a cacophony of hysterical voices", finding the description to fit the Committee majority counsel, Ray Jenkins, the chairman, Senator Karl Mundt of South Dakota, the "fake sincerity" of Senator McCarthy's counsel, Roy Cohn, and the "stumbling speech" of Senator Stuart Symington of Missouri.

It finds that a few clear voices had emerged during the hearings, such as that of H. Struve Hensel, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for international security affairs, accused by Senator McCarthy of misconduct and possible illegality while serving in the top Navy procurement post during World War II, the Senator setting him up as a strawman target for his overall counterattack against the Army. Mr. Hensel replied that the Senator was a "bare-faced liar" and demanded that he back up his charges, at which point, the Senator retreated. The previous week, Mr. Hensel had resigned his post, with the President thanking him for outstanding service to the nation. The piece indicates thanks to him for his "biting words and the good sense they made."

A piece from the Boston Herald, titled "Plea for a Village Green", indicates that the traditional village green, where people gathered to talk in earlier times, had been displaced by the automobile and parking lots, skyscrapers and housing developments, until it had become only a memory. Professor emeritus of architecture at Harvard University, Walter Gropius, had said in his recent book, Scope of Total Architecture: "We have surrendered our streets and public spaces almost entirely to the automobile, and the pedestrian, forced to withdraw to a narrow sidewalk, has lost his right-of-way. It is important that we should reestablish in our communities public centers where people, undisturbed by traffic, can rub elbows in a neutral atmosphere that is not dominated by the influence of the private home and where the spirit of the community can find its public expression."

The piece finds it to make good sense, as presently, the automobile dominated the design of neighborhoods, with schools, churches and social clubs being the latter day meeting places, but not formal meeting places, as afforded by the pleasant open spaces with shade trees, suitable for pushing baby carriages or chatting or sitting in the sun. Each large community, it indicates, should have several such places, ideally within walking distance of every resident.

It urges that planning boards consider the advantages of such public places, enabling developers to raise the value of their investments and do wonders for the countryside at the same time.

Drew Pearson tells of Congressman James Roosevelt of California planning to introduce legislation to divorce the big oil companies from the retailing end of the business, following his investigation of service stations, showing a system in which certain big oil companies, especially Shell and Standard Oil of Kentucky, forced service station owners to carry certain tires, batteries and accessories which the big oil companies wanted the stations to stock, whether they wanted to or not. The owners who refused to comply were threatened with loss of their franchise. Numerous witnesses had testified before the House Small Business Committee, saying they had been forced to stock up on certain tires and accessories and to boycott independent makes. The Committee members would propose that the oil companies be divorced from the retail business, just as the motion picture producers had been divorced from movie theater owners. With fewer opportunities available for small business owners, they needed to have greater opportunity in free retail trade. Mr. Pearson notes that the bill would not pass during the current session, but Mr. Roosevelt planned to draft and propose it during the summer.

Senator Spessard Holland of Florida, whom he mislabels as a Republican when he was a Democrat, and Congressman George Dondero of Michigan, a Republican, had gotten into a tiff over who should present a desk set from Vice-President Nixon to Nicaragua's El Presidente Anastasio Somoza, with the set taken to Nicaragua by a Congressional delegation during a junket through Central America, with Senator Holland arguing that he should make the presentation because he was a Senator, while Mr. Dondero replied that he was older and had been in Congress longer and so had seniority. In the end, both men talked at once as they delivered the desk set to El Presidente.

A secret atomic energy report warned that in the coming years, the U.S. would accumulate a dangerous amount of radioactive waste from atomic factories, and so the issue had arisen as to how to dispose of it. Presently, it was bottled in thick containers and buried in the desert, but the radioactivity would eventually eat through the containers and possibly pollute the nation's underground water supply. It might eventually be required to remove it completely from the earth, with one method being proposed to place the containers in rockets and shoot them into space.

Austrian Chancellor Julius Raab had tipped off the West that Russia's signing of the peace treaty with Austria would lead to a sweeping redeployment of Soviet army and air forces in Eastern Europe, Chancellor Raab being convinced that the Russians would give dramatic proof of that fact by withdrawing hundreds of thousands of their troops and planes from the satellite countries and replacing them with limited defensive units, in which case, it would be one of the most far-reaching moves to establish real peace since the end of World War II.

Secretary of State Dulles had proposed a champagne toast to his sister Eleanor during the Big Four foreign ministers conference, startling Russian Foreign Minister V. M. Molotov, who, nevertheless, raised his glass along with the French and British foreign ministers. The reason for the toast, Mr. Dulles explained, was that his sister, who worked in the State Department, had spent three years of her career writing the Austrian peace treaty.

Walter Lippmann indicates that in the wake of the British elections, in which the Conservatives had improved their standing in Commons, Americans might think that the relations between the British, the Canadians and the Americans had improved during the previous year, as the British had recovered from their economic independence, Canada had become the land of promise and the balance of forces within the English-speaking alliance had been righted. Britain had resumed its role as a great power, no longer needing American aid, and Canada was a partner and not a dependent.

During the previous year, the British, under Prime Minister Eden and before that as Foreign Secretary, had played a leading role both in France and in Asia, having invented and brought into being the Paris Accords the prior July, settling the Indo-China war with France, as well as helping to resolve the Formosa crisis, and leading Western Europe out of the insoluble conflict over the European Defense Community. That had restored British independence within the Atlantic Alliance.

There was also a corresponding development in the U.S., as the alliance had been made stronger and more effective because the President had gained independence since the Republicans had lost control of Congress in the 1954 midterm elections, as now all of the Republican committee chairmen, who had controlled Congress during the first two years of the Eisenhower Presidency, had belonged to the anti-Eisenhower faction of the party and now, the Democratic chairmen were much closer to the President regarding foreign affairs, meaning that the President no longer had to appease his Republican opponents. The Administration, therefore, was able to support the mediation which British diplomacy had been providing.

Among the commentators in Britain, there had been differences of opinion as to whether there was a big issue between the two parties regarding economic policy, with Labor leaders not particularly in a hurry to transform Britain into a Socialist state, while the Conservatives were not in a hurry about dismantling the welfare state. There also appeared to be little difference in the two parties' stance on the role which Britain should play in the economic organization of Europe, with the Labor Party in favor of a planned and directed economy, not favoring a wider European unity. A planned and directed economy was an enclosed economy, its inherent nature thus being isolationist, protectionist and nationalist, probably opposing such measures as the reduction of tariff barriers, the removal of trade restrictions and the convertibility of currencies. Yet, it had only been by such liberal measures as those that a wider European economic unity could be developed.

The fact was that Western Europe had to include Britain, Scandinavia and Switzerland, nations which were ready to be federated. Yet Western Europe was not too far away from the convertibility of currencies which was the equivalent of a common currency, or from a single market brought about by the suppression of tariffs and trade restrictions within a European customs union. He indicates that Britain would lead in that general direction, strongly seconded by West Germany and supported by the U.S.

Alistair Cooke, writing from New Orleans in the Manchester Guardian, tells of the South being "one of those kingdoms of the mind, like India or Scotland, that is neat and understandable only to people who have never been there." But to the tourist, it was "that convalescent retreat from modern life that begins appetizingly enough with Maryland's crabcakes. It sweeps down through blossoming cotton fields in which merry Negroes wave at the sleek diesel trains whose elegant travelers, picked exclusively from the pages of 'Esquire,' will come to rest at sundown on the colonnade of an old mansion, presided over by a goateed colonel in a string tie dispensing mint juleps in the shade of a liveoak tree heavy with Spanish moss."

He finds that the French intellectual viewed the South as "Faulkner's rich charnel-house of vengeance and decay", that the foreign businessman saw it as "a rumor of shining new factories and low wages, a threat to textile towns everywhere from Massachusetts to Manchester." The Northern liberal and UNESCO saw it as "the hotbed of Myrdal's 'American Dilemma,' the complacent region recently described by a touring actor as 'nothing but sowbelly and segregation,'" referring to Paul Douglas's controversial statement in Greensboro, N.C., during a stopover of the touring company of "The Caine Mutiny Court Martial", a statement which led to the touring company closing down, although Mr. Douglas contended that box office had already been very poor and that the producer of the show was merely looking for an excuse to end the tour.

Mr. Cooke describes the segregated waiting rooms of the railway stations, remindful that the Supreme Court's opinion was only a recommendation and not yet a Federal law, while on the train, itself, black and white passengers traveled and slept by night side-by-side in the same Pullman car. "A detail, perhaps, but a symptom of the revolution already accepted; it is the terms of the social contract that have now to be worked out." Older Southerners were seeking, not without guilt, some means to circumvent desegregation, still hoping to abolish the public schools and to charter all the white schools as "private schools", leaving the public schools as a black school system. The youngest generation of Southerners understood that as "a desperate expedient, the last stand of the old South."

He tells of his awareness that the North only tolerated the black "at its elbow on the bus, over the stove in the kitchen, in the mailing-room of the business office", while boasting of the dignity of equal contact, "but contact is not intimacy; and 'hired help' is not a family servant."

He finds the South alternately bored and angry with the obsessive Northern view that the black was a "social problem" which the South was too lax or reactionary to solve. He recounts that on the train, the steward of the club-car had been taking his two-year old son home from a visit to relatives, and the youngster was playfully staggering into white knees, until a pretty white matron had taken him off for a playful interval, with him biting her ear and nuzzling in her bosom, while his father totaled the bills before the train came into the depot. He suggests that it would have been an odd sight in the North, with the supposedly more tolerant Northerners aghast at their own liberalism, while in the South, it was nothing more than a mild affectionate interlude in which all of the people in the club-car, most of them Southerners, joined with gusto.

"Where the taboos are tacitly understood on both sides, the affection can be free-ranging, the liberties more safely taken; and alas, the bullying meanness of the rural little Hitlers can express itself without fear of retaliation." By contrast, in the North, it was impossible to imagine a situation which he had observed in Tallahassee, in which a white man had sued his friendly neighbor over some indignity to his black yard-man because "he had better learn he just can't treat my nigger that way." Thus, there were anxieties regarding what type of "equal" society would replace the privileged inequality of a 300-year old tradition. There were concerns among Southerners that a new type of miscegenation would lead to acceptable intermarriage and, in time, to a South with a mixed bloodstream as much as that of Brazil. The first signs were evident in pioneering Southern universities, where black and white students mixed. "It is a sensible fear and only to be pooh-poohed by people whose daughter is unlikely to marry any male more exotic than a Bradford woolen merchant or an officer in the Coldstream Guards."

But intermarriage was not on their minds, only subliminally residing, coming to the forefront on unlikely occasions, such as in new housing projects for blacks in several Southern cities, striking Mr. Cooke as being much better than most of the new housing in the North, a comment on which he had made to a service station owner, who agreed with him, saying: "Ah see no reason why the Negro shouldn't have just as good homes as anybody. Mah son thinks it's alright for 'em to go to the same schools and colleges. Ah cain't go that far, but we treat 'em pretty good down here. Just don't want to eat and sleep with them, that's all." He says that he had quoted that speech to an imposing black woman, mother of three and a member of the PTA, to which she had said, "That's right, that's exactly the way we feel, too."

Mr. Cooke maintains the two regions, North and South, in artificially discrete forms in the piece, as if neither the twain should meet or ever had to any significant extent, when, of course, in fact, there was plenty of intermingling between the regions in the modern era of relatively fast automobile or bus travel, especially during and after the war, the Southern out-migration of workers, black and white alike, having taken place, seeking better paying war jobs, staying on after the war, and Northern college students and members of the armed services winding up in the South after their graduation or service hitches were up, while other Northerners, even if usually limited to white upper management, migrated to the South with industries seeking a cheaper labor force, better natural resources and more favorable tax treatment, the while each group infusing their peculiar indigenous acculturation to the other region and influencing in the end the steady growth of a new amalgam, divorced gradually of the former provincialism of each region, melded anew into something different, even if retaining enough aspects of the former respective cultures to be recognizable to the natives of each region, albeit, as time drew on, less quaintly endued with saturated regional characteristics so formerly ingrained in the locus-restricted natives, say, of the time when Frederick Law Olmsted undertook his famous tramp through the South during the 1850's, shortly before he returned to New York to design and develop Central Park.

A letter writer indicates that Charlotte should be proud of its minor league baseball team, the Hornets, who had started their latest winning streak on May 24, and were showing signs of being one of the great Charlotte baseball teams, despite having been in seventh place in their league only a short time earlier. He urges the people to come out and support the team.

A letter writer counsels likewise, in the wake of the Hornets winning their fourth straight game recently in a one-hitter, urges support for new manager Phil Howser.

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