The Charlotte News

Friday, June 10, 1955


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the President this date signed into law the bill raising salaries of 500,000 postal workers by an average of 8 percent, totaling about 164 million dollars per year. It was the third postal pay increase sent to the President in ten months, after he had vetoed the prior two. It contained broad authority to reshuffle postal jobs with a view toward removal of inequities and promoting efficiency. The reclassification would allow for larger increases than 8 percent for some supervisory personnel, whom the Post Office Department had contended had been slighted in the increases provided since World War II. The President had vetoed a 5 percent pay raise during the previous Congress because it was not accompanied by corresponding increases in postal rates to pay for it, and had also vetoed in the present Congress an average increase of 8.6 percent, with fringe benefits making it equate to 8.8 percent, citing as the reason for his veto in that instance the failure to provide for inequities in pay grades and also that it cost too much.

The Public Health Service said this date that it was required to develop new and safe standards for the Salk polio vaccine, after unanticipated problems in the mass manufacture had threatened to wipe out a built-in safety factor. Surgeon General Leonard Scheele expressed the belief that the vaccine would fulfill its promise as a major advance in the prevention and control of polio, and that the lessons that had been learned offered promise for solutions to a previously baffling group of disease problems. A special health service report said that the built-in safety factor had been compromised when three types of polio viruses mixed together after they had been inactivated, wound up with some live viruses found in the final mixture after tests of the three individual component parts had shown none. That anomaly was demonstrated in the records of the manufacturers, but had not been reported to the Health Service because the manufacturers had not sought clearance of the faulty lots. The investigation of the previous five weeks had shown that the records required of manufacturers had been inadequate to permit realistic assessment of consistency in the performance of each manufacturer. The New York Times had first printed a portion of the study, and then the entire document was ordered released by HEW Secretary Oveta Culp Hobby. Dr. Scheele said that "events which in the traditional course of scientific development would have covered years were telescoped into months and, as a result, both successes and failures have been magnified." He said that in the long run, the nation and the world surely would gain from the efforts to speed the availability of an effective vaccine against polio. Much of the report was a history, the story of the previous year's extensive field tests, the general approval of the polio vaccine on April 12, and the development of polio in some vaccinated children after the beginning of the nationwide free shot program for first and second-graders, the most vulnerable age group to the disease.

Harry Lev, wealthy hat maker, again testified this date before the Senate Investigations subcommittee, examining potential graft in the purchase of uniforms for the armed forces through the Quartermaster Corps, testifying this date that a $2,000 check which he had handed to a Government procurement officer's husband had not been a bribe to obtain her help in receiving a two million dollar Government contract for his firm. He also assured that he was not trying to portray the woman as a bad person who had sought to blackmail him. Subcommittee counsel Robert F. Kennedy had told Mr. Lev that the versions given by both him and the woman regarding the story behind the April 21, 1953 $2,000 check "just can't be so." The woman had testified that it was sort of a binder on a deal in which her husband and Mr. Lev would go into the plastics manufacturing business, whereas Mr. Lev said it was payment to the woman for a survey to determine whether the venture would be profitable. Both contended that it had nothing to do with the two million dollar contract for the seven million white sailors' caps, in which the woman had a role as a contract officer for the armed forces procurement headquarters in New York.

In Detroit, General Motors closed 20 automobile assembly and body plants, idling 60,000 workers, because of strike-caused parts shortages, as contract negotiations continued between G.M. and the UAW, with every indication that G.M. intended to make a bid during the day to avoid a threatened strike at the end of the extended contract at midnight on Sunday. It was learned that G.M. had not yet made an offer to the union to go along with the same contract finalized with Ford the previous Monday, which had called for a modified form of the guaranteed wage, plus pay, vacation, holiday and other concessions, estimated by the UAW to be worth more than 20 cents per hour per worker.

Julian Scheer of The News indicates that while the House Labor Committee was debating the controversial bill to provide an increase to the minimum wage, Representative Charles Jonas of Mecklenburg County, speaking to the newspaper by telephone, said that he believed there was a danger in any central government's attempt to fix wages, applying it to every community. He said that he believed the new minimum wage would narrow down to alternatives of 90 cents, 95 cents or a dollar, above its current 75 cents. The President had recommended 95 cents. The Senate had already voted to make the new minimum one dollar and the House Labor committee was working on a proposal at present. He believed that labor and management ought be able to work out a suitable wage. He also believed that a minimum wage should be designed to prevent hardships and that there was no reason for it to be the same in all regions of the country. Some businessmen had said that they desired a dollar minimum while others said they could not live with an increase of 25 cents.

In London, Evening News columnist Bill McGowran stated in his column that the U.S. was a mad world of easy credit, lavish spending and market speculation, where every day was Saturday night with the fleet in and pockets loaded. The newspaper had the largest circulation among evening publications, with nearly 1.5 million copies sold daily. Mr. McGowran had made frequent trips to the U.S. for the newspaper and had recently attended the heavyweight championship boxing match between Rocky Marciano and Don Cockell in San Francisco, saying that he was a sure that the average U.S. citizen was presently spending 10 percent more than he earned each year, that cars were so easy to purchase that they almost were thrown at the customer, that one of California's leading dealers specialized in cars selling at between $3,500 and $3,800, requiring a down payment of only $150, with credit easy to obtain as long as one had a job, and that any old jalopy could be traded in for $500 to any dealer for a new car. He had concluded that America was experiencing boom days and that "the easy-spending Yankees live on the principle that there is plenty more where this came from."

In Raleigh, Governor Luther Hodges said this date at his press conference that it made sense to him for local school boards to appoint committees to study the school desegregation problem, and that they did not necessarily need to await the recommendations of a special seven-member study committee which he would appoint. He based his statement on the notion that there were different situations to be addressed in different parts of the state. He said he hoped to name the state study group within the ensuing two weeks and expected it to hold its first meeting immediately thereafter. When asked about the plan proposed in Virginia by a special committee appointed by the governor there, he said that Virginia had a somewhat different problem than that of North Carolina, as it was one of the four states directly involved in the Brown v. Board of Education decision, along with the District of Columbia, with the Supreme Court having ruled in its implementing decision of May 31 that those states should promptly start desegregation under the direction of the Federal District Courts, taking into account local conditions in their decrees. He said that he believed it would be easier for North Carolina to handle the situation at the local level, as the state had moved to decentralize its school system during the 1955 legislative session. He also commented on the sale of beer to minors, indicating that Mecklenburg County had only one ABC inspector to cover 500 beer dealers, and complimented an investigation carried out by the Charlotte Observer, demonstrating that there were gross abuses of the law against sale of beer to minors, concluding that local authorities had some responsibility because the State could not perform all of the enforcement.

The Governor also appointed five resident Superior Court Judges this date, completing his task of increasing the regular judges from 21 to 32, as authorized by the 1955 General Assembly. Among them was future long-term Congressman L. Richardson Pryor of Greensboro, appointed in Guilford County.

In Goldsboro, the Southern Railway was expected to end its case this date at an Interstate Commerce Commission hearing regarding the Railway's proposal to acquire the Atlantic & East Carolina Railroad.

Thirty-three light airplanes carrying 61 women left Washington this date for Havana, Cuba, in the first air race for women across water, the first stop being at Key West, Fla., then departing from Key West on Sunday for Havana, taking place in three main groups. One of the women was a great grandmother from Palm Springs, Calif., who had taxied her plane down the runway but then stopped at the last moment, returning, saying that she could not get it off the ground. An employee of the Civil Aeronautics Authority then glanced into the cabin and discovered that some of her luggage had slipped over some of the controls. Once the problem was corrected, she was able to become airborne.

On the editorial page, "A Black Sheep Can Be Bleached" indicates that in Charlotte, and all other communities with which it was acquainted, beer remained as the "incorrigible black sheep of the alcoholic beverage family." It had a bad reputation which generally was deserved, arising not from any inherent evil of it but rather from the circumstances of its sale and consumption. Often, that sale occurred in "raucous slop shops from which issue into the public thoroughfares vile sights, sounds, odors and characters." Such establishments often looked only at the money in the customer's hand, overlooking their condition or age.

The law prohibiting sales of beer to minors was being openly flouted in Charlotte, as shown by a series of articles in the Charlotte Observer during the week. With 500 retail outlets and only one ABC inspector assigned to oversee them, enforcement was difficult.

It agrees with one agent who had stated that the sale of beer ought be through the ABC stores, plus in Grade A hotels and restaurants, facilitating enforcement.

The following Monday, the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners would hold hearings on whether to allow Sunday beer sales in the county areas, as they were presently allowed in the city, with logic supporting the idea that if it could be bought in the city on Sunday, it should also be available in the outlying county areas. But it could also be argued that such sales in the widespread county would increase enforcement problems. It opines that whatever the Commission would decide, the sale of beer ought conform to the law and that if the present system could not be enforced adequately, a new system should be implemented to enable better enforcement. Beer and liquor, it finds, were in the same family and should be handled with equal restraint.

"School Board Faces Its Duty" finds that the City School Board was now embarking on its difficult duty of seeking racial integration of the public school system, having authorized a study committee to compile and evaluate all information related to integration, providing it the tools it would need to do its job. It finds that the Board had measured up to its responsibility to the community and the law, had faced the problem and was avoiding needless and destructive arguments and antagonisms which delay inevitably would have brought. By referring the matter to a study committee, it was not killing the idea, as was the case in some such cases, but rather recognizing that decisions had to be made which could only occur after intensive study and evaluation.

There was also to be a state study, as soon as Governor Luther Hodges named a commission authorized by the Legislature, and it was possible that the two study groups could exchange information to the benefit of each.

It agrees with one Board member who had said that it was the "gravest matter ever to face a public body", and it believes that the Board members would ultimately reach wise decisions.

"Politics: So Easy To Exaggerate" indicates that when the time came for North Carolina governors to appoint state judges, those on the sidelines liked to read politics into every name on the list of possible appointees, finding the present year no exception when Governor Hodges had announced his current appointees to the Superior Court.

It acknowledges that it would be ridiculous to suggest that political considerations had played no part in the Governor's choices, but that it would also be improper to charge that the Governor had subordinated the quality of the judiciary to politics or to his own political aspirations. It finds that politics may have played a smaller role in the current selections than most of the pols suspected.

By appointing Hubert Olive to a judgeship in one district, he was eliminating his strongest potential opponent for the gubernatorial race in 1956, but it urges that the fact should not be overlooked that Judge Olive had demonstrated ability and experience by having already served a decade on the Superior Court previously, and that the confidence in which the public had reposited in him had been reflected in his large vote received in the 1952 gubernatorial primary against the late William B. Umstead.

It also indicates that the entire state likely applauded the decision of Governor Hodges to rename Judge Susie Sharp to the Superior Court as a special judge for a four-year term, that since her original appointment by former Governor Kerr Scott, she had compiled an outstanding record for distinguished service, demonstrating her integrity, wisdom, grasp of the fundamentals of even-handed justice, winning for her respect. (Eventually, in 1962, Governor Terry Sanford, successor to Governor Hodges, would appoint Judge Sharp to the State Supreme Court, and eventually she would be elected as the Chief Justice in 1974.)

It concludes that it was easy to distort and exaggerate politics entering into the process of judicial selection, but that it was not always front and center as suggested by cynics, sometimes bowing to more powerful considerations.

A piece from the New York Times, titled "Delights of Fishing", indicates that there was a common fiction that fishermen went fishing to catch fish, that while some did, more did not, with the caught fish being only a lesser part of the catch, with the greater part being a day in the open, enjoying nature. It proceeds to explain in some detail how that transpired.

"Fish? Oh, yes, one must have a reason and the day must have a purpose. But it's the fishing, really, the dawn and the morning and the day, and man's knowing that it's still there, still real."

Drew Pearson recalls that the late Secretary of Interior Harold Ickes, who had held the position between 1933 and 1946, had once told Mr. Pearson, as the country began to prepare for war, that he had called in Richard Reynolds, head of Reynolds Metals, and argued with him to enter the aluminum business, as the Government needed more aluminum and there was a necessity of competing with Alcoa, promising Mr. Reynolds a large Government loan and a contract to purchase all of the aluminum it produced, as well as cheap Government power rates from the Bonneville Dam in the Northwest. But Mr. Reynolds declined. Secretary Ickes, after Mr. Reynolds had departed, phoned him and asked him to stay over one more day, which he did, finally yielding to the appeal and agreed to enter the aluminum business.

He next recalls Jess Larson, head of the General Services Administration right after the war, whose job it had been to dispose of the Government's war plants and to stockpile strategic metal for the future. The Government had already sold its surplus aluminum plants at bargain rates to Reynolds, Alcoa, and Kaiser. But by mid-1950, the Korean War had started and more aluminum was needed. Both Reynolds and Kaiser were opposed to Government interference with business, but not against Government guarantees of dividends, seeking guarantees of their loans, the right to amortize their investment over five years instead of the ordinary depreciation period of 20 years, to have the Government purchase all aluminum except a margin allocated to small manufacturers, and that if the market dropped or if Government purchases decreased, to allow the companies to return their plants to the Government in 2 ½ years. Mr. Larson had agreed to those demands, but Reynolds wanted even more, proposing that, in case price controls were implemented, its aluminum would be exempt from them. But the attorney for Reynolds, Robert Patterson, former Secretary of War, believed that demand was going too far and said so. That had ended the private aluminum demands, and contracts were then signed for 320,000 tons of expanded aluminum production, divided between Reynolds, Kaiser and Alcoa.

He next recounts a recent occurrence before the House Small Business Committee, which was investigating complaints that two of the big three aluminum companies would not share their raw product with small aluminum manufacturers. There was now such a demand for aluminum even in peacetime that the Government had to release 150 million pounds which were scheduled to enter its stockpile. The Committee wanted to know why a fair share of that amount of raw aluminum had not gone to the small manufacturers, as understood would be the case under the original Government contract. Richard Reynolds, Jr., was called before the Committee as a witness and was asked whether or not the Government had put the company into the production of raw aluminum, to which he had replied in the negative, saying that the company had borrowed the money from the RFC and had gone into business with its own credit, that the Government had been paid back all of the money and then some. But Congressman Sidney Yates of the Committee persisted, saying that the story he had received was that the Government had sold Reynolds an aluminum-producing plant for about 32 cents on the dollar. Mr. Reynolds responded that it was almost 40 cents, but that the Government had offered the plants to 500 or 600 other businesses, and Reynolds had been the highest bidder, with some of the bidders having a lot more money than Reynolds.

Mr. Pearson indicates that under the contract, two-thirds of the Reynolds production was to be sold to the Government and to small users to prevent a monopoly. But Mr. Reynolds had said during his testimony before the Committee that the Government had the purpose of providing raw materials for the Reynolds fabricating plants, recognizing that they could not lease fabricating plants unless they had an assured source of supply, and so it had not been contemplated, he claimed, that any of the metal would be sold to outside users. Mr. Pearson concludes that it represented how quickly and easily some people forgot.

By contrast, Kaiser had demonstrated that it had allotted small business considerably more than required by the Government, while Alcoa, once a monopolist, had bent over backwards to sell 55 million extra pounds of raw aluminum to small fabricators.

James H. Brady, writing in the Baltimore Evening Sun, tells of a vaccination for smallpox at the beginning of the Nineteenth Century which had produced an epidemic of smallpox, wiping out the town of Tarboro, N.C., thus far worse than the current small number of breakthrough cases involving the polio vaccine in 1955.

The vaccine had been produced by Dr. James Smith of Baltimore, considered the "father of vaccination in America", having a title granted by Congress as the U.S. agent of vaccination. In 1796, English country doctor Edward Jenner had injected an eight-year old boy with fluid from a cow which had a variant disease called cowpox. Later, he injected fluid from a human dying of smallpox, and the boy did not contract the disease. The Jenner vaccination, introduced in the U.S. in 1800, used a live smallpox virus, in contrast to the modern Salk vaccine which used a dead polio virus to produce the antibodies necessary to fend off the disease.

Dr. Smith used the smallpox vaccine on a seven-year old patient who did not contract the disease. But other physicians remained skeptical and did not utilize the vaccine. In 1802, Dr. Smith had founded a vaccine institute to dispense free shots to the poor, obtaining official support from the Medical and Chirurgical Faculty, in 1809, persuaded the Legislature in Maryland to authorize a lottery for the vaccine, and in 1810, founded a vaccine society to finance the free vaccine program. He convinced 37 other doctors in 1812 to vaccinate patients for free. Congress passed an act in 1813 to encourage vaccination by setting up a national vaccine institute, and President James Madison appointed Dr. Smith to head it.

An envelope, supposed to contain vaccine crusts, was mailed to North Carolina in 1822, instead containing scabs from smallpox victims, which produced an epidemic. Dr. Smith tried to convince Congress that a cruel trick had been played by someone entering his busy office and switching the contents of the envelope. Congress, however, repealed the previous law and the Federal program ended.

Dr. Smith recounted how in 1819 he had brought five vaccinated children, four of whom were his own sons and daughters, to the house of a dying smallpox victim, injecting pus from the man into the boys and that they had not contracted the disease.

While individual members of Congress were receptive to Dr. Smith's continuing efforts to revive and expand the national vaccination program, opponents prevailed, alleging that it would interfere with states' rights to revive the Federal program. Dr. Smith never appeared to advocate universal vaccination.

Mr. Brady concludes that even if, in 1955, it would take longer than medically necessary to eliminate polio, the Nineteenth Century could make the present generation look good.

Robert C. Ruark indicates that he saw nothing amusing in labeling the State Department's request for larger entertainment funds abroad as "the whiskey allowance", any more than he found the term "cookie pusher" funny. He believes they should have the increase in entertainment funds and that salaries, especially for the consular services, should be raised. No one of whom he knew worked as hard as did an American consulate abroad, handling the myriad of details which afflicted American nationals living abroad and determining the fitness of people who wanted to immigrate to America. A vice-consul meanwhile made about half the wages of a waiter in a good restaurant, while paying full taxes despite living abroad. He also had to maintain a good image, which he could not possibly afford.

As a class, the consuls were proud public servants and remained for the most part incorruptible, many of them digging deep into their own pockets to live up to the demands of their jobs. While it was possibly deplorable that a large amount of diplomacy was built around cocktails and tea, it had always been that way and so more of that type of entertainment would help the country in its relations abroad. So, he favors the extra $250,000 being sought for further entertainment.

He finds the State Department, as a whole, to have been the target for more unjustified slander than any other Government office, to which he admits having contributed from time to time. But apart from some stupidity in the upper echelon, the exposure of a few traitors in the ranks, and a few hundred homosexuals, he knew of no better, no more dedicated organization.

He cites Jefferson Caffery, former Ambassador to Egypt, as having saved the U.S. in the Middle East, at a time when the Egyptians were so angry at Americans that they momentarily forgot to hate the British. James Dunn had done likewise as Ambassador to Spain and to Italy. But the public heard little about such diplomats "when the McCarthys begin to rant."

A letter writer from Mt. Gilead finds that the only reason Earl Warren had been appointed as Chief Justice over Judge John J. Parker of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals was that nothing had been expected in the way of electoral votes from North Carolina and Governor Warren had been known to favor integration of the races. He says that blacks had more modern educational buildings than whites in Mecklenburg County, and that the average black parent did not favor integration as they knew it would not be workable. He believes that those who were shedding "crocodile tears" regarding blacks had not said anything about Indians who had first inhabited the country and were pushed out and given land in western North Carolina and Oklahoma, while the Indians of Robeson County, who had their own schools, were not squawking. He thinks that the South could handle the present situation without interference from "Northern agitators and troublemakers". He indicates that blacks had come further than any other people in 90 years after being freed from slavery, and that it had been the result of white people, not pulling themselves up by their own bootstraps. He recognizes that there were instances in which blacks had not received a fair deal, but that it was in the past and he did not know of any black person who wanted to return to Africa. He says that if God had willed it the way some wanted it now, there would have been one race and one color, that the Israelites had sojourned in Egypt for about 200 years and had not mixed. He thinks that "this thing" could be handled amicably without resort to violence if the people of the South would say "there is not army enough to enforce this decree which is Communist inspired."

You need to make yourself on down to Atlanta there, being sure not to travel by train or bus, which will be integrated, to the Pickrick chickenteria and pick yourself a rick of ol' Lesta's skillet fried chicken. You'll jes love jawin' with ol' Lesta. You and he agree 150 percent of the time and the other 50 percent is jes about the fixin's. Get you some of that segregated chicken, where the white and dark meats never meet on the same plate, but stay discrete.

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