Saturday, January 1, 1944

The Charlotte News

Saturday, January 1, 1944


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that in Italy the Fifth Army had seized three heights overlooking the road to Cassino. The Eighth Army was making slow headway on the Adriatic coast toward Pescara, eastern terminus of the trans-peninsula road to Rome.

The raid of the previous day by American bombers had been on two airfields and two ball bearing plants in the suburbs of Paris. Twenty-nine bombers and three fighters were lost in the raid. More raids by the Americans and RAF were proceeding this day on as yet undisclosed targets, albeit not on the scale of the prior two days.

The Red Army moved to within 35 miles of the old Polish border and 90 miles of the Rumanian border while re-capturing the important town of Zhitomir, seized by the Germans in the November offensive of Field Marshal Fritz von Mannheim.

The Third Ukrainian Army in the south advanced further toward the magnesium center at Nikopol, crucial to the German war effort.

To the north, the Baltic Army made further progress toward Vitebsk. Even further north, the Army re-captured several communities in the area west of Nevel.

The president of the Praesidium of the Supreme Soviet, Michiel Kalinan, predicted that all Germans would be cleared from Soviet territory by the end of 1944.

In the Pacific, the Marines were finishing clean-up operations around the airbase seized the day before on Cape Gloucester on New Britain.

Across the Vitiaz Strait, Australian troops had now moved 40 miles north of Finschhafen, captured in October, and were slowly pushing the Japanese off of Huon Peninsula on New Guinea.

The labor unions bristled at the news that a high-ranking member of the U.S. delegation to the United Nations Council in London had stated that German propaganda had been disseminated throughout occupied Europe to exploit the labor troubles in the United States, especially the recent railway and steel disputes. The labor unions, however, reacted by blaming the President. Two Democratic Congressmen said that the Congress had, through the Smith-Connally Act, done everything within its power to limit strikes, also then shifting blame to the President.

Had the President not still been under the grippe, he might have sought to blame a goat wandering in circles around the Mall for the labor problems.

The National Youth Administration, abolished by Congress on July 1, was about to expire formally at the end of New Year's Day, after being liquidated to the bare bones during the previous six months. The NYA had during its tenure trained young males and females between ages 16 and 25 in various vocational tasks, may of which had been fit for war industry. It had 65,000 youths on the payroll on July 1. In its last full day of operation, it was down to 46 employees.

Despite the war and the shortage of liquor, New York celebrated its traditional New Year’s Eve, with tens of thousands of people showing up in Times Square.

Hal Boyle reports, among other things, of a B-26 which had flown in the second bombing raid on Rome, Friday, August 13, its thirteenth mission, and the thirteenth mission for the crew. Yet, the plane received no flak and returned without harm.

And the niece of Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox had been named "wallet girl" by the Thirteenth Armored Division at Camp Bowie, Texas. Ms. Jacqueline White was described as a "comely actress".

Somebody, somewhere must have thought to place below the photograph the caption, "Navy Secretary's Niece A Real Knox-Out".

But then, some wise-guy in the back inevitably would have added...

On the editorial page, "Heil Walker!" denounces as impinging on freedom of the press the decision by Postmaster General Frank Walker to ban Esquire Magazine--not because of semi-naked women or the Vargas Girl drawings--which later became more vivid in Playboy--or so we have heard, never having seen the inside of the latter or like publications ourselves.

Well, who but lunatics could be offended by drawings of semi-naked women?

Oh, so sorry, young ladies of U.N.C.'s recent anti-rape culture campaign against the U.N.C. hockey team, of which we happened to become aware by having our Thanksgiving dinner in Chapel Hill, there perusing a Daily Tar Heel of two days earlier.

It was, incidentally, the quietest we had ever seen the campus, as we had never spent a major holiday in Chapel Hill, despite attendance at the institution for seven years, a semi-voluntary commitment.

We had a quite enjoyable perambulation along the bricked ways on a cloud-enshrouded day, taking even the time, which was not seemingly allowed us in our relative youth, to read some of the plaques populating Polk Place. We then walked across campus, even by the cube--before reading the story, however, of its recent enlistment as casus belli--to the campus cemetery, wherein we took a tour and spent more time there than we ever had before, seeing a headstone to a woman born a few weeks after the guns fired on Fort Sumter, died 103 years later, in the spring of 1964. That woman saw the shaping of the country in ways which few Americans have ever seen. We would have liked to have spent a little while listening to her memories. But we had to move along, as the afternoon was waning and begging our footsteps into the evening shadows.

Just before we departed, we happened by the grave of a former Charlotte News reporter, Charles Kuralt. We didn't realize that he was buried in that cemetery. We said hello and wished him well on his continuing rambles around the country, on the road.

We returned to Franklin Street by way of a leisurely stroll to the Planetarium and the sundial in front of it after coursing through the Coker Arboretum, a place we hardly ever visited during our years on the campus. We thought as we did so of the young woman who tragically lost her life there one summer day in 1965. We paused and examined some of the writings along the sidewalks.

But we digress. Esquire. It was banned because General Walker decided that the magazine did not contribute in a worthwhile manner to the reading public. The piece finds this decision to have overstepped the bounds of proper discretion, that such a subjective characterization could be made of any publication.

Whatever the excuse, the real reason, though the editorial does not say it, was the presence of semi-naked women, a thing of beauty to most normal people. But some people are not normal and view such things as prurient. No doubt, General Walker did not want to admit that as the reason for fear that the Supreme Court would overturn the decision.

If you think such photographs or other depictions of naked adults are prurient, then rip Genesis from the Bible. It is certainly therefore to be classified in your world as prurient for its lurid descriptions of nudity, even female nudity--completely naked, without fig leaves.

Well, thank goodness we no longer have this problem. All those dirty, filthy magazines no longer exist, we understand.

The only thing left are manly magazines, regarding guns and hunting and that sort of thing.

The column had touched on the touchy subject on November 27, neatly dovetailing with our Thanksgiving Day in Chapel Hill, all quite unplanned, except perhaps by some spirit somewhere with a wry sense of humor. We had to laugh--as we saw the photograph.

Eighth Day of Christmas--eight blades a-deking.

"Friction" is not about magazines. Rather it concerns itself with U.S.-Soviet relations--which probably would have gone more smoothly during the rough decades of the Cold War with the exchange of a few magazines.

The piece finds disturbing the rift growing between Soviet and American labor unions regarding primarily whether Germans would be enforced into labor to rebuild Russia, the AFL disfavoring that notion, earning William Green of the AFL a black eye with Russia.

Such a trend, warns the piece, could ultimately rend relations between the two countries down the middle and spread to other areas in the political arena.

"New Year" expresses hope that the certainty of victory in Europe would prove true, expresses the belief that it would, as Hitler's armies now reeled in Russia and were headed back to Poland as fast as their legs might carry them, fit for perhaps one last stand at the Bug River, while the industrial base of Germany bled at the seams under the relentless Allied bombing campaign transacted during 1943.

In the Pacific, there was reason, too, for optimism, even if tempered by the realization that the war there would likely not be resolved within the coming year.

But, as many times before during 1943, the piece cautions that 1944 would bring terrible casualties to American fighting men on the fronts, and questions whether the public, seeming nonchalant on the matter, were really prepared for these heavy losses.

Samuel Grafton remarks again on the pall sought to be cast on the nation to neutralize any over-confidence. He stresses that Senators Burton Wheeler of Montana and Happy Chandler of Kentucky were both talking up the high rate of casualties which would follow on an invasion of the Continent. Senator Wheeler was using that prospect as an excuse to decry the second front entirely.

But, the Administration also was going about warning the public of high casualties to come.

And, acerbically points out Mr. Grafton, German propaganda was using the likelihood to try to diminish American morale.

All three camps, in such diverse company, the anti-war Senators, the Administration, and the Nazis, could not be using the claim to good effect.

Dorothy Thompson uses a p-word to describe the question put by the reporter to the President regarding whether he would seek a fourth term. She does not use, as did the President, "picayune" but instead describes the parry as "puerile". For she believes that, with all the changes in the world picture which might come about by the time of the conventions during the summer, even President Roosevelt did not yet know whether he would run.

She poses the question whether in the post-war world the country would continue the New Deal programs, undergoing public criticism not for their substance but for the sloppy way in which many of them had been administered; or whether there would be a return to laissez-faire.

Harry Truman would establish the Fair Deal, his own version of the New Deal, adding to it some civil rights components, expansion of relief benefits, a proposed health care program, and extension of veterans' benefits, among other things.

Laissez-faire, that is to say deregulation, would begin anew under President Carter and proceed with a vengeance under President Reagan, until the economy finally virtually collapsed in 1991 and 1992.

Drew Pearson comments on the good health of President Roosevelt, sustained by a good diet, plenty of sleep, and good activity, that he had maintained his weight with the help of the White House physician, in spite of the fact that he could not exercise normally. FDR's fondness for boiled rice and milk toast helped to keep his weight adjusted.

On the trip to Tehran and Cairo, he had gained no appreciable pounds, tipped the scale at 189. The doctor was satisfied with anything below 190.

The trip was not as exhausting, says Mr. Pearson, as were the trips to Casablanca the previous January and to Quebec in August. Prime Minister Churchill was not feeling up to par, and thus did not keep his usual late hours with the President as at former conferences.

Mr. Pearson also indicates that the President had, as with some of his predecessors, Presidents Wilson and Hoover, become increasingly isolated in the White House as the years of his Administration had worn on, to the point where 1943 had been the most insular of his tenure. That was so despite the fact that FDR had traveled more around the country than any of his predecessors.

Something to watch in 1944, says Mr. Pearson, was whether the President would reach out to some of the more recalcitrant members of Congress.

Raymond Clapper writes poignantly of his upcoming trip to the Pacific--poignantly because he would be killed in early February while covering the war in the Marshall Islands. He indicates that he would rather be covering the cross-channel invasion and proceed instead to London, rather than going to the god-forsaken islands of the Pacific. But his superiors wanted stories from what they believed was a neglected theater of the war. And so off he would go.

He says that going to the war fronts was the only way to acquire a true sense of the sacrifice, the fight, and the death, and, upon return, enabling a better understanding of the necessity of avoiding war.

Unfortunately, the country never got to read Mr. Clapper's thoughts gleaned on war after that fateful trip to the Pacific.

Ninth Day of Christmas--Nine Dadaists glancing, entrancing.

Eagerly I wished the morrow;--vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow--sorrow for the lost Lenore--

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