Tuesday, January 22, 1946

The Charlotte News

Tuesday, January 22, 1946


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that it was officially disclosed that the Government was considering taking over the meat industry, provided it could first determine that the meatpackers would in that event return to work, an event which the Government had found would take place.

A price raising formula for meat, involving Government purchase of three million pounds of meat at 35 cents per hundred pounds, with the price of meat to civilian wholesalers increased by 25 cents per hundred weight, was said to be under consideration.

Press secretary Charles G. Ross indicated that no such government takeover action was yet being considered with respect to the steel industry, with 1,300 operations closed in 29 states from the strike involving 750,000 workers. Steel was at 5 percent of production capacity, a 53-year low. Two instances of violence had occurred in Ohio, but the walkout for the most part remained peaceful.

The Congress appeared inclined to support an extension of price controls beyond June 30, as urged by the President in his State of the Union message, but was less eager about the remainder of the President's proposals. Senator Styles Bridges of New Hampshire suggested that the President's message ought be renamed, "the Sorry State of the Union."

In London, the problems of both Greece and Java were placed before the U.N. Security Council by the Soviet delegates, basing their complaint on Article 35 of the U.N. Charter, charging that Britain endangered world peace in both countries. Both countries involved British occupation troops and Java also involved the Dutch. Speculation ran that the Soviet move was a counter to the Iranian charge against Russia regarding Azerbaijan Province, in which the British backed the Iranian Government position, asserting their right to be free from Soviet interference in restoring order to the northern Iranian province.

The United States appeared to be cast in the role of mediator between the Soviets and the British.

The British responded that they had already indicated their desire to withdraw troops from both Greece and Indonesia when the job of restoring democratic principles was completed and had nothing of which to be ashamed in either case.

General Walter Short, in his first public testimony since December 7, 1941, told the joint Congressional committee investigating Pearl Harbor that the War Department had attempted to make him a scapegoat for the attack, passing the buck to him for the Army's oversights and shortcomings. He stated that the final warning message sent to him by General Marshall on December 7 had not been marked for priority transmission by Washington.

General Eisenhower addressed twenty women representing the Servicemen's Wives & Children Association, telling them that if all fathers were discharged from the Army forthwith, there would be no Army. The women asserted that service families were involved in most of the one in three marriages ending in divorce and that they looked with concern upon photos of men fraternizing overseas. They were mothers and they had issues, backing the General into a corner.

In Herford, Germany, an attractive 18-year old girl, Gotelind Tortenson, ardent Nazi and daughter of a deceased Swiss actress, claimed that her father was Adolf Hitler. She claimed that she was employed as a secretary in the Reichschancellery.

Hal Boyle writes from Hong Kong that civilians in the city were not pleased with Britain having made it the chief naval base in the Pacific, forcing civilians into competition with naval officers for finding scarce housing. Many Portuguese and Chinese civilian families lived in one room. British officers were still not permitted to bring their wives to the city.

Landlords had used a system of "key money", in place in Shanghai, charging $75 to $200 extra before a tenant could receive the key, in addition to the rent.

Housing remained damaged from the war, many without windows. In one case, young naval officers improved their housing to the point that the owner wanted to oust them and move in himself.

People lined up for the privilege of buying corned beef, considered a delicacy, 500 civilians having been in line that morning for six-pound cans at $1.50 American, six dollars in Hong Kong money. Most of those in the queue did not consume the meat but rather wanted it to sell on the black market at three times the purchase price.

Concludes Mr. Boyle: "You live by old rackets in Hong Kong. These people were doing it by standing in line."

In Los Angeles, actress Sheila Ryan sued actor Allan Lane for divorce, citing their incompatibility.

On the editorial page, "John G. Carpenter" comments on the death of the long-time judicial district solicitor, in the position for 24 years, controversial throughout his tenure. The News had repeatedly called for his defeat at the polls based on his relaxed attitude toward criminal prosecution, tending toward slow, backlogged calendars and resulting nolle prosequis aplenty.

Yet, The News had always remained on good personal terms with the local prosecutor, as he was a person of great equanimity. His genuine kindness won him many friends, but it also allowed many guilty defendants to go free.

The editorial states its regret that he had become a prosecutor, for his courtroom brilliance and great heart made him a prime candidate for being an excellent defense attorney.

The piece concludes that it would not be hypocritical and bemoan his passing as a solicitor, but was genuinely moved by his passing as a man. The charges against him, it states, had been nol prossed by his death.

"An Appointed Congressman" discusses on the election day the special election to confirm the appointment by the Democratic committee of Judge Sam Ervin to fill the remaining eleven months of the term of his brother Joe, who had committed suicide in Washington on Christmas Day.

Judge Ervin would be the only name on the ballot. The Republicans had agreed not to contest the election based on Judge Ervin's agreement not to run for re-election in 1946.

The piece expects Sam Ervin to represent the Tenth District ably. Nevertheless, it excepts the notion of his appointment as a violation of the democratic process. It had favored a special primary for both Democrats and Republicans, though inconvenient and expensive. Democracy itself, it points out, was inconvenient and expensive. It favors a law to prohibit such a transaction in the future.

"Filibuster Against What?" finds the Southern filibuster against the bill to establish as permanent the Fair Employment Practices Commission to be giving most Southerners "the creeps", regardless of the side on which they found themselves on the issue. It placed Southern Senators on the side of segregation, established outside the Constitution, blocking the will of the majority to end discrimination in employment.

It found true the contention that the proponents of FEPC were as politically motivated as the Southern opponents. Yet, the issue had been brought to the floor with the full knowledge and consent of Democratic leaders.

The Southerners contended that the issue had been raised with expectation of a filibuster so as to postpone anti-union legislation in light of the country's strikes. The piece finds the suspicion reasonable, especially as the leading proponents of anti-union legislation opposed the FEPC.

Thus, the irony lay in the offing that while successfully opposing the FEPC and filibustering it to death, the Southerners might very well preserve the Wagner Act intact, as anti-union legislation would die down after the strikes had been settled.

A piece from the Washington Post, titled "Let the White House Alone", inveighs against the proposed 1.6 million dollar renovation of the structure by President Truman in association with Lorenzo S. Winslow, primarily consisting of an extension to the west wing. The plan, as it appeared in the Post the previous Saturday, would give the White House, it says, the appearance "of something midway between a large and pretentious railroad depot and the club house of a very expensive Long Island golf club."

The Post knew not how predictive, symbolically, its description would become during the remainder of the Truman years and the ensuing Eisenhower years of residence in the establishment.

The editorial believed the plans to violate the basic concept of the eminence and dignity of the structure, incorporated into its original plans, a house for the President, not a palace or castle. It suggests that the plan would convert it into the latter and that it appeared to have historically symbolic significance.

This renovation is not to be confused with the complete reconstruction of the interior of the Executive Mansion undertaken between 1949 and 1952, during which time the Trumans lived in Blair House, as they would briefly in 1946 during the current extension of the west wing, which included construction of the Oval Office. The later renovation was necessitated by the deteriorating interior timber frame, causing the entire structure to be in danger of collapse.

Drew Pearson discusses the last 48 hours of the negotiations prior to the beginning of the steel strike, which were characterized by a White House internal struggle between conservatives and liberals. Reconverter John W. Snyder represented the conservative faction who wanted the President to refrain from taking sides in the dispute. Postmaster General Robert Hannegan took the other side, favoring intervention to avoid a costly struggle for the country which would end in low wages for the workers and a victory for capital. Ultimately, the President followed the advice of Mr. Hannegan.

The President, after trying unsuccessfully to obtain acquiescence from U.S. Steel to the 19.5 cents in wage hikes demanded as a compromise from 25 cents by CIO, ordered Ben Fairless of U.S. Steel into negotiations with Philip Murray of CIO, with Secretary of Labor Lewis Schwellenbach attempting to guide the discussions. Mr. Fairless, however, remained adamant in not going higher than 15 cents, despite the Government offer of a $4 per ton price increase of steel.

Eventually, when the two sides could not reach agreement, the President became snippish and ordered the two men back the following afternoon, then telling Mr. Fairless to accept a Government recommendation of 18.5 cents. Mr. Fairless was angry anent the overbearing of the President, asked for additional time to consult with the rest of the industry. The President provided him until noon the next day, at which point steel rejected the offer while CIO accepted it.

Marquis Childs suggests that some appointments of the President which he would shortly make would produce a great deal of controversy. Edwin Pauley, former DNC treasurer, would shortly be named Undersecretary of the Navy, with the understanding that Mr. Pauley would become Secretary when Secretary Forrestal resigned the post in two to three months. Mr. Pauley had oil interests in California, which pitted him against the position of the Government to retain possession of offshore oil interests between low tide and the three-mile limit, now being licensed by the states under royalty agreements, agreements which had made Mr. Pauley a fortune.

California Representative Helen Gahagan Douglas led a coalition of Southern California House members who supported the Government position and opposed Mr. Pauley, as well as California Attorney General Robert Kenny. Secretary of Interior Harold Ickes and Secretary of Commerce Henry Wallace were aligned with the Southern California delegation in the House. Mr. Ickes, however, was expected to resign his post shortly after March 4 and speculation was that he would head the CIO Political Action Committee.

Mr. Childs suggests the entire scenario as setting up a fascinating political picture.

Well, little could he know that Ms. Douglas's opponent from Southern California for the 1950 Senate race, soon to become a member of the House himself, on the other side of the aisle, defeating Democrat Jerry Voorhis, would, for 28 years hence, provide the country with plentiful political drama, of which there was little more needed for stimulating political interest, even among the pikers.

In any event, it should not go unnoticed that this date's editorial page mentions prominently Ms. Douglas and Sam Ervin, with a piece from the Washington Post wondering at whether renovations to the White House forecasted a royal presidency, not to mention, below, a piece by a future blacklisted screenwriter.

Unintended and strangely portentous augury indeed.

Samuel Grafton suggests that it was not just the demonstrating soldiers in Europe who could harm the prestige of America in the eyes of the world, that Senators could also do so, such as the Senate subcommittee on Naval Affairs, comprised of Senators John Eastland of Mississippi, Harry Flood Byrd of Virginia, Charles Tobey of New Hampshire, and Homer Capehart of Indiana. The subcommittee advocated the retention by the United States of all Japanese islands needed for defense, without setting them up under U.N. trusteeships and without seeking anyone else's permission.

The assertion violated the basic international accord against territorial acquisition without international consent. Effectively, the Senators were undermining American foreign policy being promulgated at the initial U.N. session in London.

There really was no great issue at stake as the U.N. did not impose trusteeships but awaited their submission for approval. Submitting the proposal to the U.N., as favored by President Truman, even if rejected by the U.N., would leave the country no worse off than at present.

Mr. Grafton also comments on the proposal of the joint committee investigating Pearl Harbor to call visiting Winston Churchill to testify, to add to the show already taking place, and provide it a star witness, characteristic of such public hearings in Congress. It was, he says, a "monstrous proposal"—one which the committee had voted against the previous week.

The country's return to isolationism, he says, was showing up in many embarrassing areas, the least of which was the G.I. demonstration in Europe.

Millard Lampell, a former sergeant in the Air Force and author of the book, The Long Way Home, having appeared in the "Town Meeting of the Air" radio broadcast on January 17 with cartoonist Bill Mauldin and other such veterans of the war, provides in a transcript of his address a look at the G.I.'s desires upon returning home.

There were now 56,000 veterans living in New York City, on $20 per month in unemployment compensation. He says that what the veteran expected was a job at a decent wage, not the $25 to $35 per week currently being offered.

He points out that there were 3,500 veterans within the Flint, Michigan Chevrolet Local of the UAW. They believed that they deserved the 19.5 cents which the Government had recommended as the pay raise which G.M. could afford and the minimum for raising a family.

The veteran also wanted decent housing. There were 1.5 million married veterans at present without homes. The joker in the deck regarding home building incentives provided by the Government and priorities to veterans was that the Government considered a "low cost" home to be one selling for $10,000, costing in rent or loan payments $80 per month. Veterans could afford generally no more than payments on housing costing $5,000 to $6,000.

The third thing veterans wanted was democracy, an end to college quotas for Jews, an end to maintaining blacks in subservient roles, and an end to discrimination against American farmers of Japanese descent. Veterans expected a form of freedom not conditioned on immutable physical characteristics of the individual based on race. He cites the brave fighting of the 99th Fighter Squadron, comprised completely of black men, the 333rd Negro Field Artillery which fought in Normandy, and the 442nd battalion, comprised entirely of Japanese-Americans, as examples of why that expectation of the veterans existed.

He stated he was going to join the American Legion and a union, and would work to set aright any problems in those organizations.

He would do these things so that his 17-day old son would never have to stand on a platform and proclaim what the American veteran wants.

Mr. Lampell subsequently became a screenwriter and had been, before the war, a member of the Almanac Singers. He was blacklisted as a Communist sympathizer during the McCarthy era.

Ten Fort Bragg soldiers send a letter reacting angrily to a photograph of three soldiers in Europe going on furlough, with the caption, "They'll Miss Their Swiss." They say that they would sue the newspaper for slander were they one of the G.I.'s, that the newspaper had given the three a "damn dirty deal". They state their intention to send the photograph to both Westbrook Pegler and Drew Pearson to allow them to "work you over".

The editors react by asking the men to lay down their M-1's, for they had the wrong newspaper. The photo and caption in question had appeared in the competitor, The Charlotte Observer. They also suggest not mailing it in any event to conservative Westbrook Pegler as his recent advice anent the demonstrating G.I.'s in Europe was that they all be court-martialed forthwith.

A second letter, from a sergeant from Gastonia, stationed at Clark Field on Luzon, enclosed a sheet attacking Secretary of War Robert Patterson for not knowing that the discharge points had ceased being accumulated for overseas service at the end of the war in the Pacific. He asks that the newspaper print it, claiming it to have been drafted by a fellow soldier, his friend.

The editors respond that they had received a similar propaganda sheet recently from Alaska and refused to print wholesale propaganda of any kind drawn up by third parties, not the letter writer, which in the case included "an intemperate and ill-considered personal attack".

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