The Charlotte News

Tuesday, September 27, 1955


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports from Denver that the President, who had suffered a heart attack the prior Saturday, had, according to his doctors, enjoyed a "very good night" the previous night, sleeping almost continuously for ten hours, raising hopes for his full recovery. The cautious optimism, however, was tempered by a note of warning sounded by one of the heart specialists, that for the first two weeks they were keeping their fingers crossed, but that chances for his complete recovery within two months were "reasonably good" barring any complications. He added, however, that complications could arise, especially during the first two weeks after the attack. The specialist said that he believed the President should be fit for a second term if he wanted to serve. The likelihood remained, however, that members of the President's family would urge him not to run again in 1956, and that it appeared likely that it would not be necessary for them to urge him not to do so, as he had stated in August that the state of his health would be a major factor in his decision whether or not to run again. It provides his lunch menu and dinner menu, in case you are interested or want to emulate his post-cardiac food intake.

The Administration team worked this date on plans to keep the Government running smoothly while the President was recuperating, with a National Security Council meeting scheduled for the following Thursday and a Cabinet session, the following day, both to be presided over by Vice-President Nixon. The latter had announced the previous day that those two top-level conferences would be concerned with matters of normal routine. A formal opinion on the delegation of authority was awaiting a determination by Attorney General Herbert Brownell, who had cut short a vacation in Spain to return and handle the problem. Justice Department aides said that the Attorney General's formal opinion on the matter could be expected late in the current week. Former Attorney General J. Howard McGrath, who had served during the Truman Administration, said to newsmen that there was no precedent under which a vice-president had taken over the reins of authority while a president was still alive. (Eventually, in August, 1974, there will be.)

In New York, the stock market rebounded this date following the initial news of the President's heart attack, commensurate with the good news of his anticipated recovery. Prices recouped much of the nearly 13 billion dollars in value lost the previous day on the New York Stock Exchange, as trading again was brisk. Gains ran between one dollar and four dollars per share, while losses were running at about a dollar per share at worst.

Secretary of Agriculture Ezra Taft Benson said this date that he had made a mistake in denying the security clearance to Wolf Ladejinsky and that as a result of that matter, the Department's security program had been revised. He said that he had not been satisfied with the Department's security program prior to the Ladejinsky matter having arisen the prior January and that criticism by newspapers of his decision in the case had caused him more concern than ever, thus ordering review of the Department's program, while urging the President also to cause such a review to take place. Mr. Ladejinsky had been denied a security clearance by the Department the prior January, although he had been cleared by the State Department and had worked in the Tokyo Embassy for years. After the Secretary's ruling, he was hired by Harold Stassen, then head of the Foreign Operations Administration, and was given a post in Indo-China. At the start of three days of scheduled Senate hearings on the matter, Mr. Stassen had told Senators the previous day that he had seen no reason to suspect Mr. Ladejinsky of subversive tendencies, while at the same time affirming Secretary Benson's right to reach a different conclusion. The opening day of the hearings had involved a clash between Senator Matthew Neely of West Virginia and Philip Young, chairman of the Civil Service Commission, with the latter having reported that from May, 1953 through the previous June 30, a total of 3,614 Federal workers had been fired for security reasons, while another 5,696 had resigned when their files "were known to contain unfavorable information under the security criteria." He also said that there were 2,355 separations from Federal service among persons whose files included "information indicating, in varying degrees, subversive activities, subversive associations, or membership in subversive organizations."

In Hendersonville, N.C., it was reported that Dr. Carl Peterson of Chicago, secretary to the AMA's council of industrial health, had died this date from injuries suffered the previous day in the crash of a small plane near the town. Two others, including the pilot, had been killed in the crash. The doctor had been thrown clear of the wreckage and was still conscious afterward, directing rescuers how to place his broken leg in splints, before he was transported to the hospital.

In Charlotte, the first election in four years of jurisdictional and general conference delegates would be the highlight of the meeting of 1,000 Methodists in the city at the Western North Carolina Conference, officially opening the following day at Dilworth Methodist Church.

The Rev. Charles D. White, secretary of the Methodist Conference, found out this date what made a preacher cuss. Important reports for the use of the 1,000 conference delegates had not arrived this date just before arrival of the delegates, and Rev. White had called the printer in Greensboro and then the trucking line responsible for delivering the reports to Charlotte, and even the Greek Orthodox Church across the street from the Dilworth Methodist Church, until repeated calls disclosed that Rev. White had not yet received a postcard from the printer telling him the location of the reports, which were stacked up at the trucking line's terminal in Charlotte. Rev. White said, "This is what makes a preacher cuss."

In New York, the Weather Bureau forecast possible rain for the opening day of the World Series between the Yankees and Brooklyn Dodgers the following day, though the hope was that the system might be concentrated to the north of the city, but indicating that it was not possible at present to say when the rain would fall or how heavy it would be.

In Miami, the Weather Bureau said that Hurricane Janet, still moving across the Caribbean, had increased its forward speed to about 20 mph, bearing down on Swan Island, a U.S.-owned group off the Honduran coast, with it having shifted course during the night to increase the threat that it would hit British Honduras and the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico.

On the editorial page, "The 'Outsiders' at the Till Trial" indicates that the verdict the previous Friday afternoon in the case against Roy Bryant and J. W. Milam, accused of the first-degree murder of 14-year old Emmett Till the prior August 28 in Money, Miss., had resulted in justice being "just as dead as Emmett Till". It quickly adds that it was not saying that the two defendants were necessarily guilty or that the judge had been unfair or the prosecution cowardly, as both of the latter had seemed to have served their duty.

"But it is a hard and frightening fact that neither freedom nor penalty for Bryant and Milam was asked in the name of justice. Acquittal was demanded as a rebuke to 'outsiders' and is a glorification of race supremacy by the five defense attorneys." The prosecutor had spoken of constitutional guarantees, but had also argued on the basis of "outsiders" being kept out, that if the defendants were convicted, it would keep those "outsiders" from being able to say anything negative about Mississippi or seeking to change their "way of life".

It indicates that it was safe to assume that the matter was adjudicated by the jury as it had been argued, that "justice has been spurned and the murder screams in the propaganda mills of the extremists who clash like Matthew Arnold's ignorant armies in the night." It finds that the jury should have been insulted by the summations of both the prosecution and the defense, particularly when the defense had said that it was "sure that every last Anglo-Saxon one of you has the courage to free these man in the face of that (outside) pressure", and that a guilty verdict would make "your fathers turn over in their graves."

It concludes: "The Till case is not the first in which prejudice was called to judge, nor will it be the last. But each time justice is spurned, all of us, Anglo-Saxons, too, are a little less secure and a little less free."

While the editorial makes good points, its initial statement that it could not assess whether the two half-brothers were guilty of the murder begs question as to whether the editorialist had read very carefully the reports which had been published daily during the trial, if not fully in The News, certainly in other papers within the state, indicating, as the Charlotte Observer was aware in its editorial the prior Saturday, that the LeFlore County sheriff and his deputy had taken admissions from the two half-brothers of the kidnaping of Emmett, and that the jury foreman had stated to the press after the verdict that the primary basis for the acquittals had been the failure, in their opinion, of the prosecution to show beyond a reasonable doubt that the body retrieved from the Tallahatchie River was in fact that of Emmett Till, and the argued theory by the defense, completely unsupported by any evidence in the case, that some other group, intent on stirring up controversy, might have planted another body in the river, improperly arguing, apparently without admonition by the court, outside the evidence presented in the case. The foreman also said the jurors completely rejected the testimony of Emmett's uncle, who described the abduction of Emmett on August 28 and also identified his body on August 31, and a third party percipient witness who had seen J. W. Milam outside a barn with a gun, from inside of which screams of pain were emanating and sounds of someone being whipped, that some time not long before that, he had seen a person who resembled the news photos of Emmett riding in the bed of a pickup truck with three other black men in the bed and four white men in the cab, none of whom he recognized. The foreman also said that they had discounted the testimony of Emmett's mother who identified the body as that of her son. The jury could definitely be blamed for such absurd reliance on such preposterous theories, rejecting out of hand, as the jury foreman stated, all of the black witnesses in the case, apparently also the supporting admissions of the defendants verified by the LeFlore sheriff and deputy, and the corroborating fact of identification of the body supplied by the ring on its finger bearing the initials "L. T.", initials of Emmett's deceased father, Louis Till, with his mother testifying that she had given Emmett the ring.

The Observer editorial correctly stated that there were grave deficiencies in the prosecution's case, notably that there was no autopsy performed to establish firmly the identity of the body as being that of Emmett, no identification of the bullet which had caused the bullet wound to his head, with the Tallahatchie County Sheriff, H. C. Strider, stating, again preposterously, that he could not tell whether the hole in Emmett's head was from a bullet or something else, that he had probed the wound with his finger and was unable to locate anything.

It might have also indicated, in addition to those deficiencies, that the prosecution could have easily countered the ridiculous testimony of Sheriff Strider, an undertaker and a physician that the body appeared, when taken from the river, to have been in a state of decomposition for at least eight days since death, when it was discovered only three days after the disappearance of Emmett. But the prosecution did not present any expert witness who might have pinned down to three days the state of decomposition, the prosecution having established, during cross-examination of the physician and Sheriff Strider, the possibility, at least, of more rapid decomposition of an injured body than one which was uninjured, but never having brought it down to the facts of the case by establishing firmly through an expert that the body had been in a state of decomposition consistent with having been in the river for as few as three days, obviously the case in fact, the most glaring dereliction of duty in the prosecution of the case, as the prosecution was aware early on that the defense intended to try to prove, as the primary defense, that the prosecution could not show beyond a reasonable doubt the identity of the body, a theory developed for the press by Sheriff Strider within three days after discovery of the body on August 31.

Again, as with the comparison earlier between the first editorial on the case appearing in The News and the first editorial in The Observer, the latter presents a more sensible and sensitive examination of the case, not being concerned with the peripheral matters addressed by the News editorials, more concerned in the first editorial with whether the South, as a whole, should be held accountable for the death and then, in the latter editorial, ignoring its own suggestion that failure of justice in the case would leave the South to blame, rather seeming to attach blame for the result, not in the jury's racial prejudice obviously exhibited, as gleaned from the jury foreman's post-verdict remarks and their absurd reliance on preposterous theories, but rather in the final summations to the jury by the prosecutor and defense counsel regarding the "outside agitators", something to which the jury foreman made mention as an influencing factor though not indicating how much of an influence it had been.

Whether that disparity in tone between the editorials was the result of former News editor, Pete McKnight, having become in July editor of the Observer, we cannot say, for we do not know who wrote the editorials for the Observer at that time, but it is clear that the formerly more conservative Observer than the traditionally more liberal News, had gradually changed relative to one another, at least in their editorial policies, through time. That observation has been made by others, some of whom were earlier employed at the News, who saw the newspaper gradually change during the 1950's to a much more conservative newspaper, presumably because of the publisher since 1947, Thomas L. Robinson. The differing takes, however slight they are, on this critical case, demonstrate well that relative change. The News appears far more apologetic and somewhat defensive about the verdict compared to the Observer, which was willing to express more plainly that the South, as a whole, with its history of segregation, bore a measure of the blame for such a travesty.

In casting that blame more pervasively, the Observer was looking toward the future, seeking to urge the South and everyone in it to counsel their fellow Southerners to do better, rather than taking the approach that the blame rested solely with the perpetrators of the crime, which would have been the case had it been simply an interpersonal matter involving a vendetta between the two half-brothers and a third party. But, obviously, this case went far beyond a mere personal matter and ranged into brutal infliction of torture to drive home a point to other black people, based deliberately on what the brothers understood was only, at worst, a minor infringement of social conventions of the time and place, to demonstrate plainly to the surrounding populace as a deterring force that they were not going to tolerate any form of change from the existing pattern of segregation, that even a wolf-whistling boy of 14 was not going to get away with such infringement of the social code and conventions which had been at work since after the Civil War and that there would be ultimate penalties to pay for anyone who sought in the least to violate those social conventions.

The News appeared afraid even to express the opinion that the two half-brothers, based on the evidence presented at the trial, were as guilty as hell—as they would eventually admit in the Look Magazine piece authored by William Bradford Huie, published the following January, in which J. W. Milam admitted, as stated on the last page of the article, that his intent was to send a message through the brutality of the murder that their "way of life" was not going to be changed, that he had stood there in that shed and "listened to that nigger throw that poison" at him and decided he was tired of them sending his "kind down here to stir up trouble. God damn you, I'm going to make an example of you—just so everybody can know how me and my folks stand." The evidence before the jury was compelling, based only on the admissions by the two half-brothers that they had kidnaped Emmett, unless one wished to believe in fairy tales of the type the jurors accepted to find the half-brothers not guilty. They had to accept as reasonable under the circumstances that not only did the half-brothers let Emmett go, but that Emmett was not even dead, despite the fact that no one had seen him since August 28 in the early morning hours, and that the body, identified by both his mother and uncle, pulled from the Tallahatchie River, bearing a ring belonging to his deceased father, was not, in fact, that of Emmett but some other body dumped in the river, coincidentally bearing the ring of his deceased father, all to make the South look bad and to stir up trouble, the defense even conjuring up some case from 1920 in which supposedly the previously embalmed bodies of three blacks had been thrown in the river to stir up animosities against the newly reinvigorated Klan. No one could honestly accept those conclusions unless they were patently insane or just plain stupid, having to venture into speculative inferences built on speculative inferences, far beyond any evidence presented in the case from either side, with state of decomposition of the body built on something as mercurial as the temperature of the water in the river as well as the condition of the body at time of death. We trow that the jurors were either simply stupid or blinded by their racial prejudices, or a mixture of both. The Observer, while, for obvious reasons at the time, not using language that strong, certainly tends more toward that opinion than does the News, which again minced its words, blinks the obvious truth that the brothers were guilty and that the jury simply engaged in the old Southern tradition of nullification, having obviously made up their minds to do so long before their hour of deliberations, irrespective of the final summations of each side, irrespective of the evidence presented during the trial. It was no time to put forth milquetoast apologies for the South's system of segregation or to refrain from stating the blunt truth.

An heartfelt elegy to Emmett would appear in the October 10 issue of Life and I. F. Stone, in the October 3 edition of his Weekly newsletter, would declare that the meaning of the case was that the South was sick, a judgment which was unerringly accurate for the time, even if not all of the South was nearly so sick as rural Mississippi, where to maintain their system of rigged justice to enforce the prevailing order, no one was eligible for jury service except registered voters and no black citizen was being allowed to register to vote absent passing absurdly biased literacy tests requiring recitation of randomly chosen parts of the Constitution and answering of questions which no one save Constitutional scholars might answer, and where persons urging widespread registration of blacks and offering assistance in that effort were winding up dead, just as no area of the nation had on average less educational achievement. Mr. Stone's piece added prophetically that American blacks needed a Gandhi "in the fight against racial degradation". Shortly, they and the entire nation would get one.

"Pulsating Eyes & Official Bewilderment" indicates that Hurricane Janet was showing eccentric behavior, following a serpentine path, pulsating in size and its intensity varying, according to the Miami Weather Bureau in a report during its track of the storm through the Caribbean.

It finds that though the hurricane was not headed toward the U.S., it was not unlike some of the early reports on the three prior hurricanes, Connie, Diane and Ione, which had hit the state. It indicates that the Weather Bureau experts appeared not to be sure where the hurricanes were heading or why, and as to Janet, suggesting that it might be riding off madly in all directions at once.

During the Ione alert, warnings issued to the coastal Carolinas had been reasonably accurate, but when the storm had moved northward, something had gone wrong and official forecasts proved quite unreliable.

It indicates that the fault might or might not be with the Weather Bureau. John Q. Stewart, associate professor of astronomical physics at Princeton, was critical of the Bureau, accusing it of relying too heavily on "very hazardous and vague" airplane and radar tracking instead of "old-fashioned" barometers and wind indicators. It finds that whatever the merits of the professor's criticisms, it was certain that hurricane research had not progressed satisfactorily in recent years, that too many questions remained unanswered, with the results that many people were dying in the storms. It finds it the responsibility of Congress in the coming session of 1956 to provide the additional funds necessary for research into hurricanes, perhaps to be done in conjunction with other nations also affected by them.

Ione had killed five people in North Carolina. Hurricane Hilda had devastated Tampico in southern Mexico and resulted in 166 people losing their lives, 1,000 injured and 20,000 left homeless. It wonders what additional evidence was needed to establish the case for intensified research.

"The World Series: Trip to Olympus" indicates that the World Series was not merely an athletic event but a national ritual. On the day of the opening game, television sets could not be turned on until an acolyte had made sure that it was turned off, an important part of the ritual. The host would gather friends around for a rite closed to women and which would bewitch umpires and summon up the spirits of long-deceased shortstops. It would begin with a discussion of the relative merits of Duke Snider and Mickey Mantle, would usually continue amid heated remarks about the manual dexterity of Mickey Owens and then venture further, frequently amid "the moist, percussive sounds of refreshments being opened."

It goes on in that vein, concluding that a whole nation would stop, look and listen the following day and marvel at the excitement of the World Series.

"Play ball."

A piece from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, titled "Vicki Reminds Us of Jumbo", finds Vicki's achievement in escaping the Airport Park Zoo in Charlotte and remaining on the lam for 11 days to have been significant, but had fallen far short of the feats narrated by Mark Twain in "The Stolen White Elephant" which had related in part that the King of Siam, wishing to wipe out some international unpleasantness, had sent a white elephant to the Queen of England by way of New York, and while the elephant was resting briefly in New Jersey, had disappeared. Its name was Hassan Ben Ali Selim Abdallah Mohammed Moise Alhammal Jamsetjeebhoy Dhuleep Ebu Bhudpoor, but was called simply Jumbo for short. Because it was a royal gift, a reward of $25,000 was immediately announced and a staff of detectives were sent out to establish its whereabouts. Reports indicated that the elephant appeared to have taken off across a farm, then had gone to a glass factory and taken 800 bottles and probably was headed to a quantity of water, then reporting that a haystack had disappeared the previous night, probably eaten. The elephant was reported to have passed through a village at Ironville, with some residents saying that it went east, some saying west, some indicating north, while others said south. One detective followed the elephant's tracks to Monroe, Mich., from which he wired three weeks later that the footprints "got stronger and bigger and fresher every day."

It indicates that while Mark Twain had told what had happened in the end, it would not be appropriate to recount it in the piece, ends by indicating that Vicki had made the writer think of Jumbo, for short.

Drew Pearson indicates that returning home was former Mayor William O'Dwyer, who had known the streets of New York well, having for awhile been a beat cop in Brooklyn before becoming Mayor, during which time he had built more hospitals, more schools, and more roads than any other man in New York's history, even more than Fiorello LaGuardia. But he had also made two mistakes, not knowing what money had been raised by certain men around him, and having gotten married as a widower to a decorator half his age, and taking her to Mexico where he became U.S. Ambassador. The Mexicans had loved him, and his wife was the toast of the town, later becoming the talk of the town, as she knew other men also, which almost had broken Mr. O'Dwyer's heart. The Kefauver hearings into organized crime had disclosed that James Moran, the deputy fire commissioner, had been shaking down all sorts of people for campaign contributions. Ambassador O'Dwyer had flown back from Mexico to testify, was questioned by Rudolph Halley, who, unknown at the time, had aspirations to become Mayor of New York City, himself. The Ambassador came out of the bout wounded and alone.

During World War II, Mr. O'Dwyer had been in charge of the President's Refugee Committee and had led an underground movement to get Jews out of Germany, exposing the Nazi soap factories at a time when career diplomats in the State Department wanted to hush up the atrocities. Mr. Pearson indicates that he was aware of that fact because Mr. O'Dwyer had sneaked out to him copies of the gruesome reports which the State Department did not want published, and which Mr. Pearson had published. During the close of the war, Mr. O'Dwyer, then a brigadier general, had gone to Italy and fought for more food for the liberated Italians. He had fought against the British contention that the Italian food ration should be only 300 grams, and had shown Mr. Pearson copies of the suppressed British orders, again which he had published.

But when Mr. O'Dwyer had faced Mr. Halley's stern questioning from across the table, no one had risen to defend him, despite the fact that he had been their friend. He had stood alone, "more alone than the world realized, for his wife had left him."

Joseph Alsop reports to his brother Stewart, abroad, on the situation at home, indicating "the state of the nation" being that the President's heart attack had changed the prospects for every domestic policy. He says that on balance, the country owed the President to date a gigantic debt, restoring the country's sanity and decency. He says that he did not blame former President Truman for the loss of sanity and decency but rather history, with the country suddenly discovering after World War II that the old familiar circumstances of American life were no longer familiar and had become alarming and painful. The oceans on either side were no longer protecting of the country and the world responsibility which had been trivial prior to the war had become nearly too heavy for the country to carry in the wake of it. Many had rebelled against the sudden imposition of that burden, and those became ready targets for the demagogues who claimed that what had occurred was to be blamed on everyone except history, causing many Americans to go from one extreme to the other, "speaking shrilly, acting violently, and behaving in a manner unworthy of this republic."

He indicates that while there were many things the Administration had accomplished positively, the greatest single accomplishment had been bringing the country to a sense of the true American style, setting that style by the President's own example and under the most trying of circumstances. The President had represented the country at home and abroad for three years and had exerted leadership during that time, which at times had been very difficult. He had remade the country over in his image. The great issues were still dangerous and complex but could now be discussed calmly and wisely, essential to finding an answer to them. He had also shown the rest of the world the face of America which ought always be shown. He was admired by simple people and sophisticates alike, as the friend of peace and the defender of freedom. "So at this time, I think, all wise Americans still acknowledge the debt they owe to Dwight D. Eisenhower, even although it is always saddening to acknowledge a debt that cannot be repaid."

Gilbert Highet, in The Art of Teaching, says that all books contained persuasion and communicated a selection of judgments about life, seeking to teach, that the differences in them were between those which taught well and those which taught badly, and between those which taught valuable things and those which taught bad or trivial things. He indicates that an author who did not care what he taught was just as likely to be a bad author as one who did not care how he wrote. "Confused and shallow judgments or vicious and stupid ones spoil a book as surely as a bad style; and if an author is to defend himself against critics of his ideas, he will do so more effectively by justifying the ideas than by saying he did not mean to teach them. For teaching is a serious responsibility."

A letter writer indicates that recently there was a leaflet placed in mailboxes entitled "Operation Zero", the purpose of which was to save lives in case of an atomic attack, and the writer wishes to make people of Charlotte aware of something of which too many citizens were ignorant or in which they were not interested, the Filter Center in the Coddington Building, part of the Ground Observer Corps, a vital arm of civil defense. As a volunteer, he indicates that there were 643 volunteers, but only half of whom were very active, and he considers it a shame for a city of 160,000 people, indicating that at least 840 such volunteers were needed. He explains the time commitment and urges people to volunteer.

A letter writer answers a letter published September 20 regarding the subject of juvenile delinquency. He indicates that the writer of the previous letter was his very good friend and he does not think they should put the blame for mistakes on others. The previous writer wanted to know how delinquency was going to be stopped if the courts did nothing to help. He corrects the information provided by the previous writer, indicating that the teenagers in question had received between three and five years in prison and not just 90 days in jail for their offenses. He indicates that delinquency started in the homes, where fathers and mothers failed in their duties, with some of them not caring what their child did or where the child went. In 1953, he had gone about the community getting boys organized into a club for prevention of delinquency. Everything was going well as long as he was receiving help from some black people in the community who did not have a boy in the club. He went to some of his white friends to get the club going and was very grateful for their help, but the mothers and fathers of the boys were doing nothing, would not attend their meetings, saying they did not have the time. He says to the previous writer that the courts could not do what the parents would not seek to do. He urges that parents needed to undertake their proper responsibilities and urge their children to undertake proper responsibilities. He had organized the boys he had recruited for the club into a baseball team and soon, he hoped to have them organized as a football team. He invites the previous writer to join in the effort to get the black people of the community to improve their conditions and help their own children. He suggests that if judges did not send some of the boys away to jail, they would get killed.

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