The Charlotte News

Monday, September 26, 1955


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports from Denver that the President, having suffered a "moderate" heart attack on Saturday, following initial reports that he had only a "digestive upset", enjoyed prospects for recovery which were "reasonably good", according to his physician, Dr. Paul Dudley White. He said that he was so satisfied with the President's progress that he had left immediately by plane for Boston, where he was recognized as one of the country's top cardiac specialists. He told a press conference immediately after a final examination of the President that if his progress continued at its present rate, he would be physically able to serve a second term. His condition remained stable and he had a comfortable night the previous night, with the doctor scheduled to see him again during the morning. The attack appeared to have raised an overriding likelihood that the President would decide not to seek re-election in 1956, having said as recently as August 4 that his state of health would be an important factor in his decision. Presidential aides dealt with the question of whether his authority would be delegated to other Federal officials in the event of an emergency, and there was no question that such could be done, but a legal opinion was being sought from the Justice Department concerning the scope of that emergency authority. A Justice Department spokesman said that it would probably be late in the week before any official opinion would issue on the question of the delegation of presidential authority to others.

Vice-President Nixon arranged this date to have lunch at the White House with chief of staff Sherman Adams and his deputy, Maj. General Wilton Persons, presumably to discuss questions of high policy arising from the President's illness. Jack Beall, an aide to Mr. Nixon, told reporters that he imagined they would discuss high policy but that he was not permitted to speculate. He said that the Vice-President would not hold a press conference during the week or issue any statement unless something happened. The Vice-President was working in his office at the Capitol when Mr. Beall announced the luncheon meeting.

The Government had gone to work on a business-as-usual basis this date, despite the active leadership of the President being absent for an indefinite period. The National Security Council became the most important policy-making agency of the Government, becoming the mechanism through which the Vice-President might act to some degree as a substitute functionary, with others able to share in problems which otherwise would be the concern of the President. To a lesser degree, the Cabinet provided a continuing mechanism through which to carry on the Administration's business. Assurances that the domestic and foreign policies of the Administration would go forward without interruption had been provided the previous day by the Vice-President and three Cabinet Secretaries, Secretary of State Dulles, Secretary of the Treasury George Humphrey and Secretary of Agriculture Ezra Taft Benson. The President retained the full powers of his office, but many of his responsibilities and much more of the work which normally he would perform would be delegated to others. Presumably, despite his health issues, he would be able to sign papers and make the decisions important enough to be brought to his attention. The Constitution provided that the Vice-President would take over in case of removal of the President from office either by death, resignation or "inability to discharge the powers and duties of office." In previous U.S. history, the Vice-President had taken over only in the case of death of the President. (As we know from history, Mr. Nixon, ironically, would provide the lone asterisk and exception to that rule, an exception which still remains to this day, save in the case of transitory transitions of power while the President is undergoing surgery or the like. His first Vice-President would provide the other asterisk.) There had been some discussion of President Wilson retiring from office after he had suffered a stroke on October 2, 1919, 17 months before the end of his second term in office, but that had not occurred and he lived for an additional three years beyond his Presidency. Secretary Dulles had said to reporters that the President had "forged a team" of top officials who knew their respective tasks, and could carry on with full effectiveness, permitting "ample time" for the President's recovery. He said that he planned to continue with preparations for the Geneva Big Four foreign ministers conference, scheduled to open October 27. Secretary Humphrey said that the public could count on the functions of the Government continuing in the absence of the President the same as in any other temporary absence. The Vice-President said that the Administration team would carry out the President's "well-defined foreign and domestic policies."

Senator Karl Mundt of South Dakota had said the previous month that the President's health was good and "that he feels fine", believing that his health meant that he would run again. Only a handful of Republican leaders had either withheld judgment or were skeptical, with former Governor Howard Pyle of Arizona, presently a White House aide, saying that those who predicted his candidacy were "perhaps more hopeful than certain", and Senator Margaret Chase Smith of Maine having stated in May that it was her belief that the President "prefers to retire after 1956", adding that it was her hope that he would run.

Eight governors and several Senators had emerged this date as potential challengers to Adlai Stevenson for the Democratic nomination in 1956, suddenly becoming attractive in light of the President's health problems, with the increasing belief that he would not run again. Some Republican strategists saw the Vice-President as having the strongest support from among the state chairmen, governors and others who made up the core of the Republican Party to substitute for the President in the event he did not run, but they were not sure that Mr. Nixon could win the nomination, even with the blessing of the President. Chief Justice Earl Warren had made it clear the previous day that he would not change his mind about refusing to run, having sought the nomination in 1952 and been the vice-presidential standard-bearer on the ticket with Governor Thomas Dewey in 1948. Others mentioned as a potential replacement for the President in 1956 as the party nominee were Governor Dewey, Governor Christian Herter of Massachusetts, Secretary of the Treasury Humphrey, Senator Everett Dirksen of Illinois, Governor Goodwin Knight of California and Senator William Knowland of California. Some Democrats saw the President's condition as strengthening Mr. Stevenson's candidacy. In losing to the President in 1952, he had polled 27 million votes, more than any other member of his party had ever obtained in a presidential election. Some Democratic strategists reasoned that if he could accumulate that kind of strength against the President, he might win against any other Republican. Governor Averell Harriman of New York had led the Democrats as a possible contender for the nomination, but he had said that he was for Mr. Stevenson unless the latter chose not to run. Governor G. Mennen Williams of Michigan was another possibility, but he would face more Southern opposition than either former Governor Stevenson or Governor Harriman for his participation in efforts to force the so-called "party loyalty" rule on the 1952 Democratic convention. Some Democratic leaders had talked about Governor Abraham Ribicoff of Connecticut or Governor Frank Lausche of Ohio as potential nominees. The names of Governors George Leader of Pennsylvania, Robert Meyner of New Jersey, Edmund Muskie of Maine and Frank Clement of Tennessee had also been mentioned, but because of their newness to politics were considered more likely to be vice-presidential possibilities. Among the Senators, only Senators Estes Kefauver of Tennessee, Stuart Symington of Missouri and Richard Russell of Georgia were regarded as top possibilities. Friends of Senator Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota had quietly been seeking to form a Midwestern bloc of support which might be powerful at the convention.

In New York, the President's illness had triggered a heavy selling wave on the stock market this date, but a strong rally halted the decline at the point where most stocks had gone down by a maximum of about $10 per share. At the start of the second hour of trading, buyers had thronged into the market with large orders and losses were quickly cut by a third to half in many instances, with the tickertape running about two minutes behind in reporting transactions because of the large volume of trading. The congestion had lasted for about a half hour.

In Miami, the Weather Bureau indicated that Hurricane Janet was passing through the Caribbean with 110 mph winds this date as it continued on a course which would eventually bring it to the mainland of Central America, with the coasts of Nicaragua and Honduras, from which the storm presently was about 600 miles away, being directly in its current path. A slight northward turn, however, could cause it to miss those countries and instead impact the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico, from which it was about 950 miles away. Weather forecasters in Miami predicted that it would continue on its westerly course for the ensuing 12 hours, moving at a forward speed of about 10 mph. It had bypassed Jamaica some 240 miles to the south early this date. Thus far, it had caused an estimated 50 or more deaths in the Windward Islands when it had hit there on Thursday, with Barbados having suffered an estimated 16 million dollars in damage and about 25,000 persons left homeless. In San Juan, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Navy said that a thousand pounds of medical supplies had been flown to Barbados. The intensity of the hurricane had increased slightly on Sunday, with its 110 mph winds at its center extending as gale force winds outward to 125 to 150 miles.

On the editorial page, "After the Shock, Inevitable Impudence" indicates that the nation had taken for granted the President's health and when word had come from Denver that he had suffered a heart attack on Saturday, the impact on an unprepared public had been painfully acute, hitting people almost universally with a personal shock. The political reverberations had been offensive to many Americans, seeming cruel to inject politics into a heart attack. But because of the character of the American system of government, such impudence, it suggests, was inevitable.

The Presidency was a dual office, with the officeholder being chief of state and chief of his political party, having to answer to two masters, the people as a whole and the members of his party. A President had to spend much life-consuming time getting his party into office and keeping it there.

The President had been extremely popular, so popular that Republican officials had visibly been shaken whenever it had been suggested that he would not run again in 1956. He was expected to run and bring in a Republican Congress on his coattails. RNC chairman Leonard Hall had gone so far as to say jokingly that he would commit suicide if the President did not run again.

But the picture had changed as of Saturday. It finds the Republican leadership to have erred in risking everything on the President running again, that if he would not or could not, as appeared now quite possible, Republican leaders were left with virtually no well-publicized Republican other than Vice-President Nixon, who was not very popular on either side of the political fence—which he would eventually seek to get Ben to paint for him so's he could go play hooky and be a beach bum in California at Government expense, his true longtime aspiration.

It indicates that there were some excellent men within the party, such as Governor Knight of California, Governor Herter of Massachusetts, U.N. Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr., Governor William Stratton of Illinois, and Governor Fred Hall of Kansas, but that they had remained in the background in spite of the fact that the President had indicated pointedly on several occasions that he wanted to retire after serving out his current term. Only two weeks earlier, he had said that as long as there was a man in the leadership position, the party would be loyal and help him in the fight, but that humans were frail and mortal, that one never pinned his "flag so tightly to one mast that if a ship sinks you cannot rip it off and nail it to another. It is sometimes good to remember that." He said that the party was not only big but overshadowed every and any individual in it. Aye, aye, sir, but no one aboard, beggin' your pardon, sir, wants to nail their flag to Tricky Dickie's mast.

It ventures that the events of the previous few days had underscored the importance of the President's words, expressive of a great truth, and that even as citizens prayed at present for the recovery of the President, his words also should be marked carefully in the national conscience.

"Racial Understanding Needs Strength" indicates that the peace and good will which had long existed between the races of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County had been based on an understanding, with tolerance for error, that had evolved through decades, an understanding seasoned with experience and scornful of rabble-rousers and troublemakers, one which had withstood without serious incident the immediate aftermath of Brown v. Board of Education, decided in May, 1954. But, it ventures, as the ruling would disturb in time the deeply-rooted racial pattern, the understanding would be put increasingly to the test.

It suggests that if the citizenry of both races and public education were to meet the stress of that change, the fabric had to be strengthened with strong threads of information about the problems and ideas of the two races. Both races had leaders which both races respected, and ultimately it would be those men and women who would have to stop any effort which would infringe the tranquility and order of the community. It suggests that more such leaders ought be developed at present.

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Council on Human Relations had announced its intention to address the problem through a program of information and communication between the races, with that objective, if realized, having beneficial impact on the races, the community and individuals who would help to achieve it.

"The Wrong Bird and the Right Ham" tells of the Greensboro Daily News having recently discussed a Roanoke Times editorial on the migration of birds and had concluded that the Times did not know the difference between a swallow and a blackbird. It promptly threw a piece on birds it had drafted into the wastebasket and instead printed the Greensboro piece in an effort to be helpful to readers.

Then, the Greenville (S.C.) Piedmont had observed that the true country ham was passing, another price of progress. The Daily News, however, had countered that it was not progress but "retrogression, decadence, degradation" allied with the "barbarization of our time through undue emphasis on haste and the lure of a fast buck."

It timidly suggests that both newspapers should emerge from the "hickory-smoked nostalgia" and look around, that one could find country-cured ham in meat markets, that it realized it was not quite the same as that which came directly from the smokehouse and then was brought to the kitchen and cut with the ancestral butcher knife, but suggests that if one went into the country and spoke despairingly of city cuisine, one might inveigle their hosts to provide a country ham, if the performance was good enough. It says that it had worked for the writer.

A piece from the Rocky Mount Telegram, titled "A Victim of Fads", indicates that it wishes to pay tribute to an old, somewhat neglected friend of the South, the blossoming crêpe myrtle, a shrub originally imported from the East Indies. While most blooming plants competed with one another during spring blossoms, the ever-faithful crêpe myrtle saved its beauty for the hot, dreary and otherwise blossomless days of midsummer. For some time during the summer months, the crêpe myrtles throughout the South had been at their height and some of Virginia's highways were masses of their blooms because the state had appreciated early the wonderful shrub and planted it in abundance along its roadsides. North Carolina, it ventures, could profit from that lesson.

It says that in recent years, the crêpe myrtle had been the victim of passing flower and shrub fads, and had been somewhat neglected. Azaleas had been all the rage and now one had to look in the yard of a home built several years earlier to find even one crêpe myrtle, and if there was one in front of a new home, chances were that the owners were older and wiser people, as few young couples planted them. Azaleas, it ventures, were all right, were very pretty, but no azalea bush could hold a candle to a big crêpe myrtle at the height of its glory, and the latter did not die or give up its blooms because of an unexpected freeze.

It believes that the crêpe myrtle would come again into its own. It was sometimes referred to as the shrub of the Confederacy, as it had adorned the Southern scene for years immemorial, through good and bad times. It never blossomed more beautifully than near an old antebellum Southern home where it was often seen as a towering tree. So it thanks the heavens for crêpe myrtles which abounded in the area and indicates that there ought be more.

By associating it with the old Confederacy, you have pretty well doomed it. Why not call it the New South's emblem of progress?

The piece, by the way, spells it as "crape", but the Dragon chose "crêpe", either spelling being acceptable, and so we leave it. Maybe changing its spelling will make it more acceptable to the post-modern South.

Drew Pearson tells of a ruling by Comptroller General Joseph Campbell against a 2.4 billion dollar ten-year contract between the Air Force and AT&T having put the Administration on the spot. Mr. Campbell had been the personal choice of the President, having been comptroller of Columbia University while General Eisenhower had been its president. Senate Democrats had opposed his confirmation, but now were singing his praises as an apolitical public servant. It had been revealed that AT&T had now received more contracts and lush deals from the Administration than any other private company except G.M. and it had also developed that Donald Quarles, Secretary of the Air Force succeeding Harold Talbott, was on a pension from Western Electric, a Bell Telephone subsidiary, at $10,000 per year. In the opinion of Mr. Pearson, following his check of the situation, Mr. Quarles was not in the same predicament as had been Mr. Talbott, having no conflict of interest, but the multibillion-dollar contract with AT&T had produced an embarrassing situation. Secretary Quarles had worked for Bell Telephone Co. most of his life and had been vice-president of the Western Electric Research Laboratory before his appointment as Secretary. Thus he presently received a $10,000 per year pension, albeit one which was irrevocable and could not be reduced or canceled as a result of any official action he took while in Government service. Secretary Quarles had informed Mr. Pearson that he had nothing to do with the major contract given to the Bell Telephone and that all matters pertaining to it had been handled by Secretary of Defense Charles E. Wilson. He viewed the denials of Mr. Quarles as truthful, but expects a Congressional committee to look into the matter.

He provides a list of contracts or concessions either given or in the process of negotiation between AT&T and its subsidiaries, and the Administration, including that Secretary of the Interior Douglas McKay had already sold some of the telephone lines in the national parks to AT&T and was negotiating to sell more, that the Defense Department was selling all telephone lines on military posts to AT&T, and more than 25 telephone systems had already been auctioned off, with another 175 yet to be sold, that the Civil Aeronautics Board was negotiating to turn over the Government's five million dollars worth of land lines to AT&T, that the Pentagon had brought backstage pressure on the Justice Department to dismiss its antitrust suit against AT&T, a suit brought during the Truman Administration to break up AT&T from Western Electric, which manufactured the equipment for the telephone company, and that the Air Force had signed its contract for 240 million dollars per year providing that AT&T would build lines to connect Arctic radar posts with southerly defense areas.

Robert C. Ruark, in Palamos, Spain, in the third of a series of three columns on unrest among colonial peoples in Africa, tells of James Maxwell having written I Never Saw an Arab Like Him, a scrutiny of what the sons of Ishmael were really like in a country where the present Sultan, Ben Arafa, could not speak any approximation of correct Arabic, in which the spiritual and temporal leader of the wild Berber tribesmen, very likely of Scotch descent, was more African black than Moor or Berber or Arab. The title of the book had come from an acquaintance with a youngster whose conduct was so unlike anything which the visiting firemen had ever observed in Arabs that the constant refrain was, "I never saw an Arab like him."

Mr. Ruark says that he liked Arabs, Moors, Senegalese and Sudanese, as well as Swahilis and Masais, but not the Kikuyu. He also liked most of the Moslems and all of the darker Africans and got along with same because he never tried to exploit them or particularly understand them. He liked dogs, but Moslems did not. One only ate with one's right hand when invited to dinner by a Moslem, as eating with the left was an insult. He says that he had spent an awful lot of time squatting cross-legged on tile floors or sitting in front of feeble cook-fires in which the odor of camel dung was more than perceptible. He knew enough not to ask about the health and welfare of a man's family, which could include three wives, with one on deck, and whose sons of all of them would be legitimate. He remained off the streets at Ramadan and had no idea of ever trying to thrust himself into Mecca to see the Kaaba stone. Pork was a word he did not say in the presence of Moslems.

He indicates that he got along with his friends and respected religious and social differences, stayed out of casbahs and medinas, where if any man was mistaken for a Frenchman, he might wind up with very little left in the way of legs.

Having lived in and out of the Middle East and Africa for some time, he also knew that he would never understand the people, nor they him, nor any other occidental of varying faith. If one went past the mellah in the New Medina in Casablanca, one would come to a place called the Bousbir, an armed fortress in which were unlicensed prostitutes who had been picked up and sentenced to serve out their time, while accommodating the Senegalese troops for a few sous. They were mostly Arab women and mostly diseased, and he did not pretend to understand the French, either. The Bousbir was primarily the most horrible sight he had ever seen, and he had some askari along to keep the women off of him.

He greatly admired the Arab professional soldiers who hunted men on beautiful swift-trotting mehari camels. But he knew that they had been paid off in the previous war in proportion to how many Axis ears they brought in under their djellahbas, indicating he had seen a blouseful of such ears on one occasion.

Next to the Bousbir, the worst thing he had ever seen was the Village Negre, the quarter which was on limits to the Legion in Sidi bel Abbes. Most consummations of financial transactions took place there in doorways or on footpaths.

He admired the black Senegals, with their scars, but remembered once in Casablanca when they got the keys to the armory in the caserne and had gone after their hated friends, the Arabs and Jews in the New Medins. He recalled an Arab who had been killed rather than drop a tin of tomato juice he was taking away, that when the first bullet had hit the tin, he merely had shifted it so as not to waste the juice. The second bullet had missed the tin, but the Arab lost his blood as a result.

He concludes that long-distance understanding was impossible and even close at hand, it was a "closed corporation" because too many centuries had gone into building it.

A letter writer from Myrtle Beach, S.C., indicates that the three recent hurricanes which had hit either North or South Carolina and points further north had brought up points he had sought to make for many years, that most of the coastal towns and cities were jerry-built, insofar as the protection they offered from the elements, and few towns had adequate hurricane codes for their waterfront properties. He goes on further in that vein, making recommendations that rebuilt structures be set back far enough from the new beach edge to build a dune, that a deep trench be cut in the beach and filled with a tamped layer of clay, that the clay be covered with topsoil and fast-growing grasses to build up the dunes. In addition, he urges enacting laws forbidding the removal of the dunes, that in certain places it would be necessary to build groins and longitudinal revetments to stop erosion, that every 16 miles and at every major inlet, rock jetties should be built to check hurricane currents sweeping south of Cape Hatteras during hurricanes, and that areas which were too dangerous to be improved should be maintained as public areas or dedicated as state parks. He urges the public and newspapers to bombard the governors and Congressional and state delegations with demands to implement such recommendations, that anything less would be stupidity of the first degree.

Not unlike your previously expressed views redundantly on race and maintenance of segregation?

A letter writer from Chesterfield, S.C., pays tribute to a 16-year old girl who had let everyone know in the country where Chesterfield, her hometown, was. She had begun as Miss Majorette of South Carolina at the National Baton Twirling Contest sponsored by Drum Majorettes of America and held at Buckeye Lake, O., about 30 miles from Columbus. She had placed fifth in the national competition. This year, she had been selected for the second straight year to represent South Carolina in the same competition. When she had come out wearing her Confederate gray uniform trimmed in red and blue with an authentic rebel infantry cap and waving a Confederate flag, the crowd had gone wild, and instead of booing, which she had feared, had applauded and cheered her. The littlest rebel had won this time.

How cute... Did she flash her Shirley Temple dimples and maybe do a little tap-dancing with the baton bumping off her taps?

A letter writer from Zirconia indicates that many opponents of integration appeared to think that it would result in interracial marriage, but that if it had not done so in the North, it would be impossible in the South. She indicates that it was indecent to refer to mulattoes as an "inferior race", that in producing children, people did not aim at purebreds because humans did not have a specific role, such as laying eggs, scenting out wild game or producing meat. She says that she was not proud to be white and would not be proud to be black or ashamed to be a mulatto, that the basis for pride was in personal achievement. She adds that if nature had considered the mulatto to be a freak, it would have made its procreation physically impossible as was the rule in the animal kingdom. She concludes that the idea of an inferior race was worthy of Hitler.

A letter from Mary Evans Andrews of Chicago, author of Lanterns Aloft, thanks the newspaper's book reviewer for a positive review of her work. She indicates that it was her second book, the first having told the story of the Greek underground patriots during World War II, titled Messenger by Night, but still considered herself a beginner. She had once lived in Elizabeth City and still had many friends in North Carolina.

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