Monday, April 19, 1943

The Charlotte News

Monday, April 19, 1943


Site Ed. Note: The air war dominates the news of the front page this date. While the RAF attacked Spezia again in northern Italy, American four-motors attacked Palermo and other Sicilian and Sardinian targets to the south, softening the targets to prepare the way for the coming invasion.

Moreover, a combined force of RAF and American bombers struck hard at German transport planes, Junker-52's, knocking out 58, along with 16 bombers, all convoying troops from North Africa to Sicily. Each transport could handle 20 men and so the combined total of passengers approached 1,160, sent down in flames into the Mediterranean or onto the beaches of Sicily.

It was unclear whether the armada of transports was signal of Rommel's start of a major retreat from North Africa to shore up Italian defenses.

Over Germany, just as the RAF had lost 55 planes in the Friday attack on the Skoda Works at Pilsen, American bombers, in one of the largest American raids yet of the European war, experienced unusually heavy anti-aircraft and fighter flak in an attack of Bremen on Saturday. The primary target was the Focke-Wulf plant. The heavy concentration of fire around the facility had produced a loss of sixteen bombers on the mission.

A combination of the length of the mission, clear skies and a bright moon was said to have contributed to the loss of the 55 RAF bombers on Friday.

From the Kuban River Valley in the Caucasus, it was reported that the Wehrmacht was now stiffening with its back to the Black Sea, was hurling men desperately into the cannon's mouth, ordering them to walk upright across fields, unprotected from the Russian fire shattering the little Nazis' sense of wellness and peace.

Hitler was now so desperate as to open Lee's manual on Gettysburg without learning the historical lesson, any more than he had by opening Napoleon's.

In Baltimore, one of ten men arrested for defective welds on ships, accused of deliberate sabotage, was sentenced to a year and a half in a reformatory, pursuant to his conviction the previous week, the first such conviction for defective war work charged as deliberate sabotage.

Twenty-year old George Steele, previously of Franklin Furnace, Ohio, was found guilty of producing 660 inches, 55 feet, of defective welds in steel bound for the Navy under contract.

The other nine men still awaited preliminary hearings on the charges.

We trust that the court had found that the bad welding job was a deliberate act and not merely the result of young welder Steele originally from Franklin Furnace possessed of not enough familiarity with his craft by the tender age of twenty. After all, the shipyards were now full of green welders and riveters to supply the huge labor needed for the task of supplying the war effort.

Gee whiz, go help your country and make a few lousy feet of bad weld and wind up in the pokey for a year and a half and branded a Benedict Arnold to boot. What a world. But, at least the young lad stayed out of the draft for awhile.

Whether he had been schooled at his occupation over in Franklin Furnace as an apprentice to the well-known master steeler, Scratch by name, was not reported.

Likewise, whether the welds were produced on Tuesdays or Wednesdays, even if never on Sunday, though demand for increased production of war materiel now made mandatory a 48-hour work week, was not a subject informed by the report.

Nevertheless, young Mr. Steele would, probably by Friday night, arrive at the reformatory without a suitcase.

The Supreme Court decided a case upholding the validity of a Federal statute making it a felony to impersonate a G-man, even if the impersonation netted the impersonator valueless information from his prey.

U. S. v. Lepowitch, 318 US 702, was decided 7 to 1 on the basis that the purpose of the statute was to uphold the good repute of the government and therefore it did not matter whether the second part of the statutory requirement for conviction, intent to defraud, had, as the lower Federal District Court had interpreted it, resulted in some actual loss of value by the person against whom the false personation was effected. It was enough that the false pretense induced the other person to behave in some way different from that in which he otherwise would have, but for the false statement of identity.

Justice Owen Roberts, without filing a separate opinion, was the lone dissenter.



--Got a light?

--Sure. What’s cooking?

--I'm a G-man, see?

--Yeah? Good racket?

--Pay's okay.


--Dangerous though.

--Don't you know it.

--Mind if I sit a spell?

--Be my guest.

--Got any hot tips for the races?

--Yeah, place double down on Count Fleet for the Derby.

--Double down, 'ey?

--You heard it here first, my friend.

--Buff the shoes a little harder, pal. That feels good on my tired dogs, hitting the pavement as a gum-shoe and all, ye know.



--So, you’re a G-man, 'ey?


--Well, how about that?

--What d'ye mean?

--'Cause I am, too. Stick 'em up.



In December, it had been reported that false G-men were hitting queues outside service stations when winter gas rationing first went into effect along the eastern seaboard, flashing their false I.D.'s and ordering the service stations closed and then pulling up to the pump, demanding a fill-up when the maximum normally available to the public was three gallons per week. All was going well in the ring until one of them encountered a real G-man at the pump obtaining gas, struck up a conversation with the bandit all anent the pay scale of G-men and how he might apply for the job with the black hat.

On the editorial page, "Intervention" comments on the decision by Governor Broughton to free a convicted rapist, William Wellman, after evidence had surfaced from his former employer in the form of a signed payroll slip that Mr. Wellman had been in Fort Belvoir, Virginia two to three hours before the rape was committed in Statesville, 400 miles from Fort Belvoir.

Yet, because of the criminal records of both Mr. Wellman and his employer, it asserts, many in North Carolina, especially in and around Statesville, had believed that the payroll slip was forged and thus Mr. Wellman nevertheless the guilty assailant of the elderly woman.

Moreover, they were resentful that the exculpatory evidence had been adduced and promulgated publicly and to the Governor by the investigations and efforts of the N.A.A.C.P. and the A.C.L.U. working in Mr. Wellman’s behalf.

--Yeah, them Communists got that nigger off, you know?

--You can say that again. Them niggers get special treatment, don't they?

--That's exactly right, that is. If you and I'd did that, they have us locked up for four eternities without no prayer.

--Got a light?

--Sure, pal. Say, what do you do for a livin'.

--Special agent.

A reprinted editorial from the Statesville Daily in December had confirmed the hanging climate abroad Statesville and the intense feeling about the outside agitation incensing and unsettling their comfortable sense of justice, frustrating that which had already been done, tried, and sealed for execution, without a moment of reflection; for none was needed for the perfect, the just, the seers of righteousness and unrighteousness.

This date's editorial concludes that justice was finally done, despite themselves.

As we have commented before, this genetic strain in North Carolina which produces such intensity of feeling to blind all sense of justice and fairness, especially when a murder or a rape is committed against a white woman by a black man, still exists, still raises its ugly head of profound indifference to one human life in the face of emotive certainty.

In saying that, we do not suggest that the feeling is either limited to North Carolina or the South. But it is most intense in the South. Nor do we suggest that it is limited to cross-racial crimes when a crime is of the magnitude of rape or murder. But again, when the cross-racial element enters the picture, it is typically most aggravated in the minds of those given first to emote rather than think and analyze.

For the notion is, among this strain of which we make mention, that they are all guilty, all of them. And, so, if one happens to be accused falsely for this or that crime, it really doesn't matter much. They were guilty of some crime, anyway, probably worse than that for which they were sentenced to die. Else, why would they have been charged and convicted? For they are all criminals.

"The Doctor", remarking on the announced candidacy of Dr. Ralph McDonald for the North Carolina Democratic gubernatorial race of 1944, brings to mind yet another example of what we suggest: the case from Fort Bragg in February, 1970 of Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald, convicted ultimately in 1979 of the brutal clubbing and stabbing murders of his wife and two young children, after the Army had originally dismissed the case against him in 1970 for want of evidence, recommending that the investigation pursue a young woman named Helena Stoeckley.

At the insistence of Dr. MacDonald's step-father-in-law, initially supportive of the doctor but later deciding that his story of an invasive Manson-style murder scene did not make sense on the evidence, determined Federal prosecutors re-opened the investigation in 1974 and took it before a grand jury, eventually obtaining in 1975 an indictment, and in 1979 a conviction in Federal District Court, intervening which the Supreme Court had held first in 1976, reversing the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, that he was not facing double jeopardy from the recommenced prosecution and, subsequently, in 1979, refusing to hear his argument that he was denied, to his prejudice, a speedy trial in the matter resulting from the five years between the Army's decision to dismiss and the indictment of 1975.

Ever since we read the book in 1984 by Joe McGinniss, Fatal Vision--even if the author was convinced of Dr. MacDonald’s guilt--we have been convinced of Dr. MacDonald's innocence and being essentially railroaded by overzealous and politically ambitious prosecutors through the usual feeling-over-thought process which runs in bloodstreams through the South's history books, the weaving, weaving, weaving of things substantive from nothing more substantial in natural occurrence, within the objective, than the evanescences of the augments, protecting the while crooks, thieves, liars, punks, and other politicians, corporate creeps, corrupt burley-boy judges, maggie-clerks and broom-riding cops.

For, Dr. MacDonald was a slick damnyankee, after all, not worthy of belief. The young blonde girl in the floppy hat, Helena Stoeckley, a local Army-groupie, drug addict and prostitute, who plainly was involved in the murder, by her own drug-fogged subsequent admissions and the statement of an MP on duty on the base that night who saw such a woman in the vicinity, matching the doctor's description given that night to the MP's, had to have been imagining things.

That the Army marched all over the crime scene and bungled the investigation from the start, should not work to allow the guilty to go free, after all. That it took five years to bring the case before a grand jury after a hearing determined his innocence of the crime should have no weight when the victim's step-parent knew better based on the tendency of emotionalism present in all victims and the families of victims--even if, ultimately, all of us are victims of nature itself in the end.

The good folks of North Carolina are never wrong about niggers and damnyankees and nigger lovers--or just thems who speaks a little better than us do. That thar book learnin' and thinkin' and what-not is what done it. Started the Civil War. That's a fact. Shoulda left us all alone down heya to handle our nigger problems ourselves. They just talk so fast, ye know? Cain't understand a word they say.

Serves him right for comin' down heya with all them Connecticut Yankee ways a-foolin' ever'body and gettin' the younguns all mixed up with this nigger stuff or somethin' probably. Why, that white girl didn't know what day it was. What would she be doin' mixed up in some murder-family? That's Hollywood. We don't cotton to no Hollywood. We know all that's fantasy. He just seed that in the magazine on the coffee table, there--made it all up. What? Ye think we're stupid? We look at things realistically like. You know? Made it all up, stabbed hisse'f, just right for doctor-knowin'. We got our man. And that's all we need to know. Right's right and wrong's wrong. It's simple. We know the truth, heya. What they think, that we're stupid or somethin'? Any fool could tell ye he's guilty as sin just by lookin' at him. All that fancy hair and like. Look like a damned girl.

In any event, Dr. Ralph McDonald would not achieve the nomination for governor. It and, of course, ipso facto, the governorship, would go to Gregg Cherry, one of the two others mentioned as favored Democratic candidates in the one-party race, fully a year and a half before the general election.

Tom Jimison reports from Rockingham about his old father who knew hoss flesh inside out, so well that he could spot a dependable nag from one that was washy.

He knew all the diseases, says Mr. Jimison, including the poll-evil.

But since he didn't know the cures, and there wasn't any veternarian within a hog's good holler of the place, his father would just have to leave them be and let nature either cure them or cause them to pass on to hoss heaven--somewhere in Kentucky or Wyoming, probably.

He says that the locals laughed at him when he mentioned the poll-evil, said no such thing existed outside Haywood County. Then the Dictionary and Noah Webster proved them wrong.

Raymond Clapper again, as he had on Saturday, comments on the inefficiency of merchant shipping involved in the war, leading to excessive idle time with no munitions and equipment being sent to the troops.

Samuel Grafton looks at this and that.

A book review on Wendell Willkie's recently published One World, describing his observations gleaned during his trip through the war zones from Africa to Russia, during 49 days from late August through mid-October, 1942, appears on the page. The piece is indited by William L. Shirer, notable for his best-selling Berlin Diary, published in 1941. Mr. Shirer praises the work, finds its chapters on Russia the most startlingly elucidative, in one instance assaying Mr. Willkie's discovery of an utopian republic named Yakutsk, in which all illiteracy had been erased; in another, discussing the efficiency of collective farms, providing the necessary production to support the vast Russian war effort spread over 2,000 miles of front lines, and in large part responsible, said Mr. Willkie, for its success.

"The Mirror" provides praise to the homespun nature of The Chapel Hill Weekly, edited by Louis Graves, whose pieces often were reprinted on the page. The editorial offers example in a quoted piece from the Weekly about a monkey named J. T. and a skunk named Susan, each of whom had become the charge of a young warden wishing to become someday a zookeeper.

Unfortunately, faring not much better than the young Gypsy Georges of Brooklyn, described by The New York Times piece on the page a few weeks earlier as having caused a stir through the borough when they had allowed inadvertently their trained bear, Tuffy, to escape from his cage during feeding time to run amok across the Ozone Park, the would-be zookeeper had let J.T. and Susan both escape into the even wilder jungles of Chapel Hill, even if J.T. was described as being so very gentle a monkey as not to be in need of knocking around a zoo, while Susan, having seen much fire and rain, had been descented, harmless in her methods of distraction.

The Weekly piece had urged anyone seeing either to report the matter so that the amiable, perambulating animals might be returned to their rightful keeper and his zookeeping pursuits, with aim on the future.

We hope, however, whether they were found or not, that the young master settled, perhaps, on some more appropriate occupation, less hands-on, maybe that of zoologist.

We had better hush, though. He may today occupy some capacity at the North Carolina Zoo--or at least at its human equivalent, the University.

We would not want any stray lions or tigers wandering into our backyard, like unto that kitty cat of a couple weeks ago who wandered into our garage and camped out for a couple of days, reading some books and making itself quite happily and quietly at home and, after we had unceremoniously put it back out to pasture upon its discovery during halftime, turned around and made yet another visitation last Monday, camping out the night in our car, after we had inadvertently left the window down.

We forgot to mention, incidentally, when we first commented on that return visit, that there were a couple of bird feathers in the seat and on the window sill of the car, indicative of the fact, no doubt, that the cat had been successful in its jungle hunt for provender, afore taking its leave to enjoy a nap on our driver's seat, thus giving it sufficient nourishment to enable the long wait for our arrival to provide its first driving lesson, having heard of our renowned skills in that department.

Actually, on that latter occasion, after reflection, we do not believe at this juncture that we left the window down at all. We think, instead, that the cat managed somehow to unlatch the door, crawled inside, found after awhile it to be a little too warm for his or her comfort and hit the button.

But then, the button doesn't work without the key. Maybe the cat managed that as well and put the key back where it was, just to fool us.

We are keeping a tighter watch on things, now.

But we sure are glad that Duke won. Aren't you?

In any event, like Mr. Jimison, we, ourselves, feel shot through today with the poll-evil, can't seem to get the keyboard quite smoothly to fit our hooves very well. And, so, we shall leave it at that, sort of washy.

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