The Charlotte News

Monday, July 11, 1955


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports from Hong Kong that three former American soldiers who had been taken prisoner during the Korean War and had initially refused to repatriate to the U.S. at the end of the war in July, 1953, but had since changed their minds, had sailed for home this night, saying that they expected to be prosecuted under a court-martial for their actions. They all agreed, however, that life with the Communists had been hell. Seventeen other Americans had also refused repatriation and were still in China, all having received dishonorable discharges from service. Four months earlier, the three Americans and two Belgians had begun demanding that the Communists let them go, and the Chinese had announced in June that they would be released. The three Americans had crossed the border into Hong Kong territory on Sunday afternoon and British immigration officials had turned them over to the U.S. consular authorities, who said that they had retained their U.S. citizenship and so could return directly to the U.S. The consulate paid their passage home by ship, restricting them to the ship until it docked in California. The Government had not yet indicated what it had in store for them, other than that they would be held responsible for any acts they might have committed. Secretary of Defense Charles E. Wilson had said the previous month, however, that he did not think that the returning three would be tried by court-martial.

Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina this date expressed support for the Administration's proposal for an expanded military reserve, including compulsory training for peacetime veterans. He had voiced his alliance with the Defense Department position expressed before the Senate Armed Services Committee, speaking out against an alternative proposal of Senator Richard Russell of Georgia, chairman of the Committee, to eliminate the compulsory feature and offer a $400 bonus to men who would leave active service and volunteer for duty in the Army and Marine Corps reserve units. Senator Russell had said that his proposed amendment intended to keep the same men from being called back for repeated terms of service while there were increasing thousands who had never served at all. The Committee was holding its final day of hearings on a House-passed measure to expand the 700,000-man reserve to a force of 2.9 million men by 1960. Senator Thurmond, a veteran of more than 27 years as an Army reserve officer, said that adoption of the Administration measure would serve to strengthen the hand of the President at the forthcoming Big Four Summit meeting, scheduled to start July 18 in Geneva.

Robert Anderson of Texas had resigned this date as Deputy Secretary of Defense, effective around August 15, with the President having accepted the resignation "with the greatest reluctance". No successor had yet been chosen.

Civil Defense administrator Val Peterson testified before a House Appropriations subcommittee that it was "entirely possible" that some American cities, if struck by nuclear attack, could never again be entered. He cited as example New Orleans as a city which could literally disappear if attacked from the air with nuclear weapons, as it was "built on only two or three feet of dirt resting on water", and that a nuclear bomb could transform it into a lake—as could a hurricane.

In Saigon, South Vietnam, a bomb had been discovered in the U.S. Information Agency building and destroyed, with demolition experts having said that it could have blown up a large portion of the three-story building.

In London, it was reported that a Russian church leader had said this date that the Rev. Billy Graham would be invited to Moscow in the near future as a guest of the Evangelical Christian Baptist Council of the Soviet Union. Rev. Graham had said that he would gladly visit Russia if given an opportunity to preach the gospel. Russian church dignitaries were visiting Britain as the guests of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Geoffrey Fisher. At a press conference, they said that the church in Russia was quite free at present, even though not approved officially in Communist circles. The leader of the group, from Minsk, said that between 85 and 90 percent of the Russian people remained faithful during the anti-religious campaign between the wars, even though they might not have attended services. He said that monasteries and seminaries were also flourishing.

In Fredericktown, Mo., three members of a hymn-singing convict quartet, who had escaped from an Alabama prison three days earlier, had been recaptured this date, two of them having been picked up by a state highway patrolman early this date near the town after he had found their station wagon abandoned with a broken axle, the two having only three dollars between them and not being armed. The previous night, FBI agents had captured the third man, the baritone of the quartet, in Memphis, described by officials of Kilby Prison in Montgomery, Ala., as the "tough guy" of the quartet, and probably the leader of the escape. He had been caught as he was stepping from a telephone booth after phoning his wife in Birmingham, his wife having said that he had told her that he was taking the next bus to Birmingham to see her and then would turn himself in at Kilby. He was serving a life sentence for murder. The fourth escapee had refused a parole a year earlier to stay with the quartet, the captured pair indicating that he had left them at Fredericktown and started hitchhiking along their planned route to Michigan. He had visited his father in Arkansas the previous day, where his father and uncle had unsuccessfully tried to talk him into surrendering, as he had only six months to serve on his ten-year robbery sentence, but he had said that he would take care of that later. The four had overpowered a guard on Friday night while en route to the prison in Montgomery, after a singing appearance in an Alabama town.

In Muldraugh, Ky., a 13-year old boy admitted that he had caused a seven-car troop train to derail the previous day, admitting to the FBI that he had placed a 50-inch stick and rocks on a rail, which had jolted the locomotive off of the rails, the boy having said that he had done it "for fun". The U.S. Attorney's office said that prosecution was not available, as there was no evidence of criminal intent. Six persons had suffered slight injuries in the derailment of the train, carrying 200 Ohio Army reservists to Fort Knox for summer training nearby.

In Sioux City, Ia., a two-year old girl apparently had been kidnaped from her crib the previous night while her parents were watching television in another room, according to police this date. The parents had told police that about 30 minutes after they had put her to bed, she was discovered missing, with a screen having been removed from a window of her first floor bedroom. No motive for the kidnaping had been put forth and the parents knew of no one who would want to take the child. A neighbor told of having chased a man with a bundle in his arms down an alley about a block from the home of the victim, indicating that he had cornered the man in some bushes but that he was able to escape, at which point the neighbor telephoned police.

In Comanche, Tex., a dairy farmer was charging people two dollars to sit in his uranium dirt for two hours, with about 150 per day paying for the privilege, much more lucrative than milking cows. The farmer had discovered uranium on his farm two years earlier, but not in sufficient quantities for commercial advantage. The previous September, a stranger had asked him whether he could sit in the ditch where the uranium deposit had been discovered, as he had been taking radiation treatments for rheumatic pain and thought that he could get some benefit from it while visiting relatives in Comanche. The farmer had told him he could go ahead, word had spread, and soon sitters were trampling the fields and leaving the farmer's gates open, at which point he began charging admission at the rate of two dollars for two hours of sitting. By June, people were standing in line for the privilege and he expanded a shed he had built for them to ten times the original size, sold his dairy herd and converted the barn for sitting. The farmer had each sitter sign a printed pledge card saying that the person had visited the farm voluntarily, with the farmer making no claims regarding the virtues of sitting in his uranium dirt.

In Charlotte, fire swept through the Carolina China Market building on Wilkinson Boulevard early during the afternoon, attracting a large crowd of spectators, with no one believed injured. The cause of the fire had not yet been determined.

Also in Charlotte, County police reported a larceny inside the jail this date, as a man, who had been arrested on Saturday afternoon for public drunkenness and had promptly gone to sleep, with only one other prisoner in the jail at the time, also arrested for public drunkenness, having told officers at the point of his release that he was missing his $49 wristwatch, the other man in the cell having denied any knowledge of it, but, upon being searched, was found to have it in his pocket, resulting in his being charged with larceny.

The first of a series of infrared photographs taken by News photographer Jeep Hunter appears on the front page, presenting a pastoral scene near Charlotte.

On the editorial page, "A Common Sense Stand on Schools" indicates that there had been two broad patterns of reaction in the state to the Supreme Court's implementing decision in Brown v. Board of Education, issued the previous May 31, requiring compliance "with all deliberate speed" with the May 17, 1954 decision finding that continued desegregation of the public schools was per se violative of the 14th Amendment Equal Protection Clause.

One reaction was that of Governor Luther Hodges and his advisory committee on segregation, which had taken the stance the previous day that the following school year, the state's schools should continue in their present status of segregation, pending further study by the local school boards to determine appropriate action in compliance with Brown.

The other reaction was that of the NAACP in North Carolina, which wanted integration to occur the following September, and was pushing the premise by putting forth petitions to school boards, including those of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, to integrate forthwith.

It finds that the state policy rested on "common sense assumptions", including the notions that the school system had to be preserved for the education of the children of both races and that public education could be endangered by precipitate, unreasoned action, that segregation in the South had persisted for nearly four centuries and that it was unrealistic to expect it to be overturned and superseded overnight, as Judge Fred Helms, a member of the Governor's committee, had recently stated before the Masonic Fellowship Club in Charlotte. It indicates that it would take time and much understanding on the part of both races to rearrange the system and enable adjustment of attitudes toward integration, something recognized by the Brown implementing decision, which appeared to allow for time and adjustment to local conditions, repositing in the Federal District Courts the responsibility of oversight of the various local communities and school districts to ensure enforcement of decrees.

It indicates that the newspaper had been surprised by the original Brown decision in 1954 and had regretted that it had not followed the 1896 precedent of Plessy v. Ferguson, that the 14th Amendment Equal Protection Clause could be satisfied by "separate but equal" facilities, finding instead that since, in 58 years, those conditions had not obtained in any pervasive way, and that the sociological and psychological impact of segregation per se was such that the doctrine failed of its original purpose and so had to be abandoned. After the decision had been made, however, the piece indicates that it had to be accepted "in good spirit by all citizens". That spirit demanded care, study and temperance in tackling the problem, which differed from locality to locality and even sometimes within localities.

It finds that Mr. Helms, in stating that the Court had not ordered integration but rather had abolished segregation as illegal, had made a key distinction, that the Court had not mentioned "social equality", which many appeared to have read into the decision. Mr. Helms had said that the Constitution and the courts could not require or compel any citizen to associate with one another, could not enforce social equality, and so the courts were concerned with civil and political equality, not allowing discrimination solely on the basis of race.

It finds that in Charlotte and many other communities in the state, school officials were demonstrating good faith by beginning serious studies designed to facilitate compliance with Brown, and should be given every opportunity to delve into every phase of the situation "without harassment by or undue pressure from individuals or organized groups, white or Negro." It concludes that the NAACP, which could justly be proud of its victory, would improve its position by exercising restraint while school authorities sought in good faith to comply.

But should full compliance take another 16 years, as it would in Charlotte-Mecklenburg? It is, of course, an unfair question for the editorial, as it had no means, any more than the Supreme Court did in 1955, to foresee that kind of lengthy sloth proceeding from the phrase, "with all deliberate speed". The sloth was indicative of the sloth of our slowest Southern brothers and sisters, the social retards down 'ere.

As to the fallacy of the argument of Mr. Helms, that the Court had not ordered integration but only had outlawed segregation by law, no sillier argument could be posed logically. When boiled down, it posits the conundrum that passive, de facto segregation could be allowed as long as not enforced by school districts, and that there was no affirmative obligation on the part of the school districts to impose integration, a concept under which much of the recalcitrant portion of the South would labor for the ensuing decade or so, before intra-system busing would begin to be required to remedy affirmatively the de facto segregation resulting from the arrangement of segregated residential neighborhoods in a given burg.

"Please Tell Us More, Mr. Brownell" indicates that assignment of FBI agents to the City of Memphis regarding the Dixon-Yates utility combine contract and whether it needed to proceed in light of the apparent willingness of Memphis to build its own utility plant, had prompted the need for more information from Attorney General Herbert Brownell. It finds it a hollow statement to have said that the agents were just obtaining the facts about the plan of the city to build a power plant, that it appeared that gathering and evaluating such facts would be more appropriate for Government attorneys, that the FBI would normally be investigating violations of the law and issues of internal security. The assignment of FBI agents to question Memphis officials, therefore, appeared to suggest something underhanded going on. It finds that there was, doubtless, something political involved in the matter, as Memphis had suddenly interjected that which the Democrats had been unable to do in Congress, undermining the whole necessity of the Dixon-Yates contract. Plainly, the Administration was doubting the good faith of the city and wanted to save Dixon-Yates if it could.

It indicates that unless Mr. Brownell was hunting for violations of the law, of which he had made no such suggestion, he ought get the FBI out of the matter and out of Memphis, as the Bureau should have nothing to do with political and ideological issues.

"Heat and Thoughts on Thunderheads" indicates that the four seasons ranged in the width and depth of man's emotions, as winter brought the "dullness and depression of days that wake and sleep in rain", autumn, able to "fuse into a hickory leaf the loving sense of sweetness and sadness combined", and spring, capable of making one "want to run and want to stay and keep you dizzy in the indecision." Summer also had many charms, rainbows, flower beds, fish breaking water, the sounds of night and singing in a "somewhere field", its favorite part being the thunderhead.

"When heat bears down, the thunderhead is a fat clown who sits against the sky and promises rain. It thunders and it rumbles. It may shade the sun and send the cool breeze dusting down a street, turning up the white sides of fig leaves. In a really teasing mood, it splatters rain drops in the dust so one can even smell the promise. And then perhaps it does rain, but most times the sun comes through, the breeze dies, the leaves go limp again, and the thunderhead falls apart and we are left straining for another raindrop, another sound of promise." It concludes that one had to admit that most thunderheads were frauds, but says it still liked them because there was something to be said for "the promise and the watching and listening."

A piece from the Greensboro Daily News, titled "'Crawfie' Goofs", tells of Marion Crawford, nicknamed "Crawfie", for 17 years the governess to Queen Elizabeth and to Princess Margaret, the Queen's sister, who had then written about her experiences with the royal pair, leaving out no triviality. The British columnist Cassandra had written previously: "These interminable musings are sloppy when they are not coy, sycophantic when they are not saccharine, stuck on with low grade glue... This Everest of raucous sentimentality (meaning her experience with the princesses) had rich deposits of pure gold and 'Crawfie' has prospected with such success that she has made a huge fortune out of the people to whom she owed many other things—apart from the assumed debt of silence."

Ms. Crawford had just published an account of how the Queen had appeared at two recent events, the annual Trooping of the Color parade, which marked the Queen's birthday, and the Royal Ascot Race Week, appearing in the current issue of the British women's magazine, Woman's Own. Regarding the Trooping, she had written that the "bearing and dignity" of the Queen had "caused admiration among the spectators and brought back memories when, as Princess Elizabeth, the Queen appeared for the first time at the ceremony." Regarding the Ascot, she said that it had an air of enthusiasm about it never previously seen, but that the royal patronage as the magnet was unchanged.

It points out, however, that there was a flaw in the account, that being that because of the recent rail strike, which had since been settled, neither event had taken place. "Crawfie had goofed at last."

Drew Pearson indicates that the backstage jockeying between the White House and Congress regarding public housing had been one of the most interesting developments of the present Congressional session. As usual, the Democrats were seeking to rescue the President's program, with Congressman John McCormack of Massachusetts, the Democratic House Whip, having phoned the office of White House chief of staff Sherman Adams, inquiring whether he could switch at least one Republican vote inside the Rules Committee, which split 6 to 6 on the President's proposal that the Government finance 35,000 units of public housing, substantially lower than the 135,000 passed by the Senate, Republicans on the Committee, nevertheless, having refused to go along with it. Since that Committee had the power to bottle up legislation, the tie vote meant that the legislation would remain in the Committee, along with two billion dollars in FHA building construction loans. The real estate lobby did not like the latter, as it wanted money for FHA but not for public housing units. Republican Representatives Leo Allen of Illinois and Henry Latham of New York were among those who had voted against it, both having been surprise votes, as Mr. Allen ordinarily supported housing and Mr. Latham was considered a potential mayoral or even gubernatorial candidate in New York.

It was just before this deadlock had occurred that Mr. McCormack had phoned Mr. Adams and tried to head off what was happening, but was unable to get Mr. Adams on the phone, and so was unable to save the President's housing bill. Since that time, the White House had been doing everything within its power to get at least one Republican vote changed to get the bill out of the Rules Committee.

Stewart Alsop, in Moscow, tells of an astonishing example of official contact between Americans and Russians having been provided by the July 4 party given by the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, the party having been a success, with all of the most important Russian leaders present, despite the absence of U.S. Ambassador Charles Bohlen. Contact at the party was close, Mr. Alsop having been at one point sandwiched between Premier Nikolai Bulganin and Communist Party Secretary Nikita Khrushchev, with the powerful Lazar Kaganovich "pressing hard on the flank". The contact in that particular instance, however, despite being very close, had not been very revealing. He found the conversation between the Russian leaders and Western diplomats only recalling of the first "grown-up" party he had ever attended some 25 years earlier, with strained jokes and small talk, punctuated by uneasy silences.

There had been only one significant moment, when Mr. Khrushchev had made a small speech about how the Russians were not going to Geneva on their knees, at which point Mr. Khrushchev, waving vehemently and gesturing violently with his arms, appeared to catch a glimpse of warning from Mr. Kaganovich, then breaking off his momentary protest and stating that he had been told to say that by Mr. Bulganin, then asking Mr. Bulganin whether that was in fact not the case, all suggestive of the fact that the state was now run by a committee system and not by any individual leader.

He recounts of casual contacts in the streets demonstrating that there was a kind of underground present, not pro-American but rather pro-jazz. He came across a couple of young boys who wanted to know whether he knew Frank Sinatra, Tommy Dorsey, or Louis Armstrong. Their English seemed to be limited by jazz lyrics, and he, not knowing any Russian, was unable to converse with them for very long. They had refused his offer of a beer because Russians, while friendly, remained leery of being seen with Americans under intimate circumstances.

He had encountered another tiny episode involving an intourist guide, a rather dumpy, middle-aged woman, who had also refused a glass of beer from him but sat down and asked him why the U.S. had surrounded Russia with a ring of airbases. He had responded that it had to do with the Berlin blockade of 1948-49, the aggression in Korea and the size of the Red Army, but the woman seemed not to understand. After a pause, Mr. Alsop had pointed to a well-dressed woman walking by and said, for the sake of conversation: "Look at the foreigner. I wonder where she's from." The woman caught on and asked whether he meant that foreigners were dressed better than Russians, to which he answered in the affirmative, whereupon she smoothed her print dress with her hand and said, "Oh, the poor Russian ladies." He found the latter comment to be an "echo of all of the sadness of the war and of the long years of simple longings unsatisfied and hope deferred again."

Simeon Stylites, in The Christian Century, tells of the late Richmond novelist Ellen Glasgow, in her memoir titled The Woman Within, having given the name "The Cult of the Hairy Ape" to the "assault on the intellect" which had marked the 1930's in America, boasting disdain and contempt for the intellectual and glorification of the lowbrow, reveling in vulgarity, denouncing the "egghead", considered to be anyone with mature intelligence. It had become dangerous for a statesman to be able to construct two thoughts in tandem and produce an idea, it being more suitable to voters to be known as an illiterate of the cultural level of "Bathhouse John or a Hinky Dink".

Ortega y Gasset had warned a generation earlier that Western civilization was threatened by barbarians within, the "mass man", the person without high standards who took pleasure in mediocrity.

He finds that it shed light on the problem of juvenile delinquency in the society, that the country's values were catching up with it. "So many prefer a pose of toughness to any trace of tenderness, which is a 'sissy' trait; so many prefer violence to reasonableness, and disdain anything resembling culture. We need not be surprised if the oncoming generation has noticed our values and adopted them."

A letter writer responds to a letter of July 6, being highly amused at the writer and others who had screamed "Yankee Carpet Bagger" and even "Communist" regarding the Supreme Court and its Brown ruling, suggests that the writer apparently had been unaware of the facts that Justice Hugo Black had been born in Harlan, Ky.—actually Harlan, Ala.—, and educated at the University of Alabama—neglecting to mention that he had also been a Senator from Alabama before being appointed by FDR in 1937 to the Supreme Court—, that Justice Tom Clark had been born in Dallas and educated at the University of Texas, that Justice Stanley Reed had been born in Mason County, Ky., and educated at Kentucky Wesleyan College and the University of Virginia, the three forming a third of the nine-Justice unanimous Court in both Brown decisions. The writer, who withholds his or her name, had been in every county in South Carolina and had never seen any section so far remote from civilization as the previous letter writer had described, even though some had argued that a good part of the state was somewhat removed from civilization, a concept with which this writer disagrees. Those who disagreed with the decision had forgotten that the original Plessy decision of 1896 was rendered by a court with only one Southerner on it, Justice and later Chief Justice Edward White of Louisiana, thus also a "Yankee" Court. (The lone dissenter in Plessy, Justice John Harlan, grandfather of newly appointed Justice John Harlan, confirmed in early 1955, was from Kentucky.) The writer indicates that there had never been any equal facilities for blacks, rendering the separate-but-equal doctrine fallacious. The writer also states that his or her grandfather had ridden in the cavalry of a great general for the Confederacy during the Civil War and was raised in Tennessee. The writer concludes that "carping bigotry instead of the reasoned criticism that should apply" regarding Brown was producing in him or her intolerance.

A letter writer indicates that the newspaper and the Visulite movie theater should hang their heads in shame for the publishing of an advertisement regarding a current attraction, finds on the one hand a "smug editorial" deploring sex, crime and delinquency, while on the other, allowing "such trash" to be printed in another section of the paper.

The editors respond that the newspaper declined advertising of any kind which they considered "lascivious or prurient".

Perhaps the writer did not understand French, that a girafe was still only a giraffe, and was not some subway message anent seeking to spy up Marilyn's swirling dress next door at the Carolina.

As to whether the film, itself, was to be considered "immoral and obscene", incidentally, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, in 1957, would affirm a Federal District Court determination in Chicago that the film could be banned under the local obscenity ordinance, because "the calculated purpose of the producer of this film, and its dominant effect, are substantially to arouse sexual desires", "that the probability of this effect is so great as to outweigh whatever artistic or other merits the film may possess", and that the ordinance did not infringe the First Amendment of the Constitution, a decision which, however, later in 1957, would be reversed, 7 to 2, in a per curiam decision of the Supreme Court, based on the principles enunciated in Alberts v. California...

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