The Charlotte News

Saturday, August 13, 1955


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that North Carolina Governor Luther Hodges had wired the President this date, requesting that the North Carolina coast, battered by Hurricane Connie, be declared a major disaster area. Preliminary estimates of the storm damage, provided at a meeting of state officials and regional Federal civil defense heads, had placed the damage at over 3.5 million dollars. The Governor stated, however, that such preliminary estimates could not serve as the basis for requested Federal relief funds, as later estimates might run the total higher. The regional civil defense director, from Atlanta, said that the first estimates of damage for the area from Wilmington southward had totaled 2.35 million dollars for private property and $958,500 for public property, stressing that those estimates had been compiled from reports by state and Federal civil defense engineers and local sources and were "wholly unconfirmed and preliminary". The state civil defense director said that preliminary estimates from Carteret County indicated damage there of about $350,000, including Morehead City and Atlantic Beach. The Governor, who had been accompanied by the regional civil defense director in following the path of the hurricane from Wilmington to Morehead City, praised the work of all agencies involved in meeting the storm. He said that North Carolina, as with Hurricane Hazel of the prior October, had been the state hardest hit. The Governor was informed by a National Guard official that looting, which had been a problem in the aftermath of Hazel, had not been a problem in the wake of Connie. A Southeastern Red Cross representative said that there would not be a lot of rehabilitation work needed and that it should be completed within about 15 days.

The executive secretary of the Southeastern North Carolina Beach Association and assistant director of civil defense for New Hanover County predicted that the total damage in the area from Swansboro to the South Carolina border would run between seven and ten million dollars, compared to estimated damage of 100 million from Atlantic Beach, near Morehead City, to the South Carolina line as a result of Hazel. He was gathering estimates of damage at the request of Governor Hodges, and would forward them to the President, along with a request to designate it a major disaster area to enable eligibility for Federal disaster funds. Wrightsville Beach unofficially had an estimated million dollars worth of damage to private property and about $500,000 damage to public property. First estimates from Carolina Beach placed damage also at a million dollars to private property and $300,000 to public property. It was predicted by officials, however, that those initial estimates would be revised upward.

Telephone and other late reports from the South Carolina beaches indicated that business was usual along the Grand Strand, and from Pawleys Island north to Cherry Grove in North Carolina, beautiful weather greeted tourists this date, with indications being that beach business would continue apace. Telephone reports indicated heavy damage at East Cherry Grove Beach, but the rest of the area had fared very well, with even high water failing to reach most of the beachfront homes at Crescent Beach.

Julian Scheer of The News reports from the coast that "the folks on the Grand Strand are enjoying a rare treat today", as Connie had brought rare tropical wares in its wake, leaving behind scores of starfish, thousands of odd-shaped shells uncommon to the region and a few octopi washed ashore by the storm. He indicates that Wilmington had become a ghost town for awhile during the storm after the power had failed, with the blowing out of the electrical transformers having produced greenish lights in the sky, looking "weird and frightening over the darkened city." At Shallotte, everyone had headed for shelter, including some of the old-time fishermen who had chosen to ride out Hazel on the Inland Waterway the previous year, not many wanting to try it again this time. At Myrtle Beach, officials and volunteers had performed a miraculous evacuation, with 3,000 heading for safety in two hours, having taken twice that long in the lead-up to Hazel. Near Fort Fisher, souvenir hunters were out searching during Friday morning for shells long buried in the sand. The Northern forces during the Civil War had bombed the fort heavily and many shells and cannonballs had been buried deep in the sand. As expected, Connie had unearthed many of them. At Kure Beach, someone found a few World War II shells. Some 300 feet of an 880-foot pier had been lost, but the owner planned to rebuild it with insurance money. The people at Carolina Beach had just finished cleaning up from Hazel and the tourist season was nearly over, meaning that the few profits made during the present year were gone. Insurance adjusters were out making the rounds on Friday morning.

In North Beach, Md., an old schooner, the Marvel, on a pleasure cruise, had been pounded to pieces in the stormy Chesapeake Bay, leaving ten dead and four missing this date, with 13 others having been rescued the previous day by firemen, police, National Guardsmen and civilian volunteers who came to the beach resort 30 miles southeast of the nation's capital to assist in the rescue. Six of the 13 were rescued by two men who had gone down to the beach to see if they could lend a hand and stayed to ferry the survivors, two at a time, in a 14-foot skiff through waves as high as six feet. There was nothing left of the schooner, except a fragment of its cabin and debris which littered the spongy sand. A police officer said he had seen no piece of wreckage larger than a door, concluding that the boat had taken a terrific beating. The dead included six men, three women and a nine-year old girl, most of whom were from New York. Among the survivors had been the captain of the schooner and his three crewmen, all of Annapolis, Md. A 17-year old high school senior among them had given reporters a graphic account of the tragedy, saying that the 64-year old craft, a 128-foot, three-masted barge-like vessel called a ram, had left the Chesapeake's eastern shore on Thursday and had been out since Monday on a tour of historic ports in the bay, planning to reach Annapolis on the western side before Hurricane Connie struck. But a lot of things had gone wrong, the winds, the water pump and the auxiliary motor, causing water to come over the deck of the vessel more quickly than they could pump it out.

Connie was moving north this date into Pennsylvania, spreading over an ever-widening area with weakening winds, down to 50 mph, having lost its eye after passing west of Baltimore during the morning and moving at a forward speed of about 17 mph northwestward, but bringing monsoon-type rains in its wake. The Weather Bureau referred to it as "the late Hurricane Connie". New York had a record-breaking deluge of almost a foot of rain, the storm causing rivers and creeks to overflow their banks in a half dozen states. The death toll for the storm had climbed to 34, with at least seven other persons missing and feared dead in accidents directly or indirectly attributed to the storm. Connie appeared to be following much the same path as had Hurricane Hazel, which had also moved northward from the Carolinas into Pennsylvania, but did not result in the same high death toll as Hazel, the great difficulty this time being the torrential rains. The storm had become more gentle, ironically, after causing its worst havoc, in the Maryland schooner disaster. In New Jersey, winds up to 60 mph had lashed the coast early during the morning and residents had been evacuated from some exposed areas. The hurricane had caused five accidental deaths in New Jersey before it approached, and two young fishermen were missing off Little Egg Inlet. In the New York metropolitan area, a record 6.08 inches of rain had fallen in 24 hours, causing directly or indirectly at least 11 deaths. The storm had been reduced to little more than an overgrown gale when it passed along Virginia's eastern shore the previous night, following its peak winds of 135 mph at its center prior to making landfall Thursday night near Morehead City, N.C. The winds, having diminished to 58 mph, then went back up to 80 and the storm regained hurricane characteristics off Virginia. But by 2:00 a.m. this date, the storm had lost those characteristics again.

In Miami, Fla., the Weather Bureau indicated that Hurricane Diane, now packing winds of 115 mph around its center, had swung around to a northwestward course over the Atlantic this date, traveling toward the north. The center of the storm was located about 1,100 miles east of Palm Beach, Fla., moving at a forward speed of about 9 mph, with gale force winds extending outward 250 miles from its center in its northeastern semi-cylinder and 130 miles in the southwestern portion. The storm had become erratic for a time but future movement was anticipated to be toward the northwest or north-northwest at about the same speed and intensity during the ensuing 12 to 24 hours. The chief forecaster for the Bureau said that they anticipated that the Southeast coast was in the clear, but were maintaining a close eye on the storm to see what it would do in the ensuing couple of days.

Secretary of Agriculture Ezra Taft Benson stated this date that the Government would take no new steps before the following January 1 to cut prices on cotton exports, but that after that date, it might offer up to a million bales of Government-owned low-quality cotton for sale abroad at reduced prices, meaning that for the time being, foreign buyers of American cotton would have to pay the same prices which prevailed in domestic markets, despite those prices running above the level of world market prices. The Administration had been under strong pressure from some farm groups and cotton state members of Congress to increase exports, which had dropped considerably below what was thought to be the country's fair share of the world market. Many foreign buyers had been delaying purchase of cotton in anticipation of possible reduction in U.S. prices.

In Nevada City, Calif., one of the 11 airmen who had been released by the Communist Chinese and whose wife had married a second man, believing that her first husband had been killed in Korea, and who had not seen his 2 1/2-year old son, met his son for the first time this date and held a lengthy three-hour but inconclusive private conference with his wife. He said that he would have three or four more meetings with his wife before any decision was reached on their marriage. She had remarried the prior September. The airman implored the press to stop following him and his wife around. The new husband of the wife was not around. The Sacramento Bee had said the previous day that the wife had given "every indication" that she would remain with her second husband. Meanwhile, the other ten released airmen were reuniting with their families.

On the editorial page, "Connie Met a Storm-Wise Coast" tells of the coastal Carolinas having learned a valuable lesson from Hurricane Hazel the previous mid-October, which had paid off in preparation for Hurricane Connie, which had hit the coastal region on Thursday night and into Friday. Fast evacuation to designated shelters had prevented the numerous injuries and deaths as had occurred in Hazel. Connie had produced high property damage, especially harmful as it occurred during the middle of the tourist season, but the looting which had followed Hazel was being prevented this time by National Guard patrols. More advanced warning systems had also been in place for Connie than were present for Hazel, and the fact that Connie had struck at low tide was also favorable.

Through the efforts of civil defense personnel, local police and the National Guard, 3,000 persons had been evacuated in less than two hours from the path of the hurricane, whereas the same task had taken twice that time during the approach of Hazel, at which time some persons had to be forced at gunpoint to evacuate.

It indicates that it showed the value of a coordinated effort begun prior to the approach of a disaster. Governor Hodges had been on hand conferring with local leaders and the National Guard regarding plans to save lives and prevent looting. Ham radio operators and mobile radio cars of the Civil Air Patrol had moved in to maintain communications with the outside world. Policemen, firemen and officials of the cities and towns threatened had stayed at their posts until they were certain that all persons had been evacuated from the threatened areas. State Highway Patrol officers handled a variety of tasks, and hundreds of Red Cross volunteer workers had been mobilized to ease the discomfort of evacuees.

It concludes that little could be done to save property from such a storm but that preparation could save lives and prevent injury, and that the people of the coast, along with local, state and civilian agencies, had done an admirable job in preventing worse results from the hurricane.

"Scott Adopts a Needed Attitude" indicates that North Carolina Representative Charles Deane had said that, given the low ranking of the state's per capita income, North Carolinians had to assume personal responsibility for the fact. Senator Kerr Scott had addressed the same problem at Asheville during the week and the piece believes he had come up with some truths which ought be unceasingly applied, his central idea being that "prosperity is permanent only when all segments of the society share in it", and that "all segments—industrial workers, farmers and management—must cooperate to raise the standard of living" because "if one catches the economic smallpox, the other must soon come down with the same disease."

The Senator had echoed Governor Hodges in advising management that cheap labor was its poorest investment, counseling that labor should be able to participate in increased consumption of manufactured goods while manufacturers should develop highly skilled workers who would give a fair day's work for a fair day's pay, and thus encouraged to stick by their employers during slumps as well as boom times.

While those words did not raise the bottom ranking of the state among the states in average weekly earnings of manufacturing employees, they did express an attitude which ought govern the state in seeking new industry management with a positive attitude toward minimum wage legislation, and labor, in its efforts to improve the lot of its membership.

The Senator had urged mutual dependence between farmers, labor and management, foreseeing a time when Asian markets would absorb Japanese textile products, eliminating them as a threat to American industry, and while those markets were being developed through the Point Four program. inaugurated during the Truman Administration, providing for technical advice in industry and farming, the U.S. had to use its import quotas to control the influx of cheap foreign goods which presently threatened the collapse of local industries.

It finds that the Senator had spoken wisely on the ills besetting the North Carolina economy, both from within and from without.

"John Emil Peurifoy, Troubleshooter" tells of the U.S. having lost one of its brightest young stars in diplomacy, after Mr. Peurifoy, 48, had been killed in an auto accident in Thailand where he was serving as Ambassador since the prior November, having previously been Ambassador to Greece and then to Guatemala, in the latter having resolved the civil war of the prior year after serving successfully also in Greece. In his resolution in Guatemala, he had earned the nickname "Pistol-Packing Jack", having masterminded many of the events which had resulted in the overthrow of the pro-Communist Arbenz regime. His activities, however, made it uncomfortable for him to remain in that country and so late the previous summer, he had been named Ambassador to Thailand, another trouble spot.

It indicates that his death had come as a shock to the Carolinas, Mr. Peurifoy having been born in Waterboro, S.C. He had come far during the course of his 20 years in Government service, having begun in 1935 as a $90 per month elevator operator in the Senate Office Building and risen high in public service since that time. It concludes that the country could ill afford to lose such men of Mr. Peurifoy's enormous talent in the complicated field of global diplomacy.

A piece from the Cowlitz County (Wash.) Advocate, titled "Jumpeth on the Editor", begins by inviting the reader to consider the editor: "He weareth purple and fine linen. His abode is amongst the mansions of the rich. His wife hath her limousine and his first-born sporteth a racing car that can hit her up in forty flat." And it goes on in that vein.

"All flesh is grass and in time the wife is gathered into the silo. The minister getteth his bit. The editor printeth a death notice, two columns of obituary, three lodge notices, a cubit of poetry, and a card of thanks. And he forgetteth to read proof on the head, and the darned thing cometh out 'Gone To Her Last Roasting Place.'

"And all that are akin to the deceased jumpeth on the editor with exceeding great jumps. And they pulleth out their ads and cancelleth their subscriptions and they swing the hammer into the third and fourth generations.

"Canst thou beat it?"

Drew Pearson tells of a meteorologist for the U.S. Weather Bureau, Norman Hagen, having busted the theory that summers of yesteryear were mild and pleasant, pointing to the summer of 1930, when Washington had eleven days of temperatures over 100 degrees.

Many weathermen believed that the North Atlantic was becoming warmer in recent times, but added that the change was too slight to be noticeable, an average of two degrees during the previous century. All of the experts did not agree on that point, however, some admitting that the weather had been warmer in recent years, but believed it was an upward cycle in the mercury and could cool off again, while others denied that there had been any basic change at all, insisting that average temperatures had risen in many cities because of man-made heat being produced by factories, furnaces, exhaust from automobiles and that retained otherwise in urban areas.

Mr. Hagen indicated that the polar ice caps were melting, but might start growing again, and explained that even if all of the ice on earth disappeared, it would only account for an increase in temperature by a few degrees, possibly bringing more, needed rain to the South. He also stated that the sun's radiation was getting stronger but that the amount of increase was still too meager to show up accurately on presently available instruments.

He offered two answers as to why older people believed that earlier summers had been cooler and winter snows deeper, first, that to a child ten years of age, a six-inch snowfall looked like Siberia and so tended to be exaggerated as a person got older and recalled that snowfall. The other explanation was that the weather changed markedly from day to day, week to week and year to year, and the average would not be noticed by most people. But in the event of a scorching summer heatwave, the older generation talked about it incessantly, despite the average temperature for the entire summer possibly even being below normal.

Mr. Pearson concludes that the average person mopping his or her brow during the dog days of August was hard to convince, also true during the hurricane season presently underway. He notes that Mr. Hagen received a lot of letters telling him how to stop the destructive hurricanes forming east of Cuba, then sweeping up the Atlantic Coast.

A letter writer recommends the editorial, "Reason Should Rule Annexation Talk", which had appeared the prior Monday, suggesting "a rational and fair approach" to the highly controversial matter in Charlotte and Mecklenburg County.

A letter writer indicates that black people merely wanted their rights and that Charlotte had a problem to solve in desegregating a segregated community in the best possible way so that it could move into history with a "clear, clean conscience and so that future Charlotteans—born and unborn—will not be burdened with a hate-ridden society which discriminates against its shadow because it is dark, even though the shadows are cast by those who discriminate." She finds that the people of Charlotte were, despite letters having been written "spewing hatred against the Negro not only here in Charlotte but all over the world", highly intelligent. She believes that the majority of people in the city were inclined toward Christianity and would like to do the right thing if they understood how to go about it. She believes that black Christians and those who were not Christians, but who had the welfare of all American citizens at heart, and white Christians, could get together as part of an organization or in some systematized gathering where discussion could transpire on a high plane with a common purpose to improve racial understanding, sorely needed in Charlotte. She believes that too much misinformation and misunderstanding had taken place from both sides of the color line. The fact that Charlotte had largely ignored Bryant Bowles, NAAWP head, during his recent visit to the city demonstrated the good will of the community in wanting better race relations. "Because [blacks entering slavery] were stood over with a whip and a gun, they prayed for release in the darkness of their cabins when the lights went out in the 'big house'; they sent heavenward their plaintive songs born out of misery, pain, and death and gave to America the nearest thing to folk music that America has—the spiritual. Have you noticed how many of the spirituals have the theme of life after death or for better life in the future?" Some had managed to escape slavery and when the South had fought a war to keep them enslaved, they still ran away, and "because hatred and segregation was legislated against us, we organized into a national association—the NAACP—to fight injustice through the courts of the country." "America is not a race of people nor a religion. It is an idea and an ideal of freedom and justice for all people. Stop worshiping little gods created out of provincialism and learn about the sovereign God who could not be sovereign if He did not love me, too." "The Negro wants nothing special. Just his rights as an individual and as an American citizen, the right to work, to study, to live, and move and have his being in a free society." She indicates that black people did not want to be judged as a race by what a few criminals did, as for every such person, there were thousands in Charlotte who went about their duties as good American citizens.

As a preliminary incident to the more widely reported murder of Emmett Till in Money, Miss., on August 28, this date, a murder took place on the courthouse lawn in Brookhaven, Miss., as Lamar Smith, 63, was gunned down by a white man. The case received little attention outside the "Negro press". It was initially thought that Mr. Smith, a local farmer and businessman, may have been killed because of his support for black voter registration, but it was subsequently determined that apparently the motive had been that he was supporting the election of a particular candidate for supervisor over the incumbent, supported by the man who murdered him. Because the matter related to elections and potential intimidation regarding the right to vote, the Justice Department began looking into the case for possible prosecution for deprivation of fundamental civil rights. The suspect and two others were taken into custody by local police after a coroner's jury found them culpable the following Tuesday night, but the grand jury did not return indictments. The above-linked piece by Associated Press reporter Ben Price, as printed in the San Francisco Examiner of August 21 and appearing in many newspapers across the country, generally regarding the menace to black efforts to register to vote posed by the white citizens councils of Mississippi, mentions and quotes "Edgar E. Evers" as the NAACP secretary for Mississippi, actually a reference to Medgar Evers.

A letter writer from Sharpsburg, Ga., indicates that after seeing the new Charlotte Coliseum from the outside during a trip to Monroe, Wadesboro and other towns in North Carolina, he could only say that it was the most beautiful building he had ever seen, and congratulates the responsible parties for it. He says that he was a native Georgian, living only a few miles from Atlanta, and was proud of that fact, but had never seen in the South any building which came close to the Coliseum. He had traveled all over the Carolinas selling a few hats and handbags for women, and says that after seeing the building, he had to let someone know how he felt.

A letter from the chairman of the Aviation Committee of the local Chamber of Commerce indicates that he had recently read the fine coverage in the newspaper regarding the moving of the control tower to the new airport administration building, indicating that there was extreme disappointment at the time the building had been dedicated the prior summer that funds had not been available in the CAA budget to move the tower at that time. He indicates that the men of the Airways Traffic Control System were due the highest praise for their unheralded efforts in bringing thousands of passengers each day and night to the airport safely. He says that they were proud that "the Captain is now on the new bridge."

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