The Charlotte News

Wednesday, December 11, 1946


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that a U.N. drafting committee had formed a proposal on arms limitation and atomic bomb control after deleting a provision suggested by the British to have a census taken of all weapons and instruments of war. The dropping of the provision was contingent on acceptance by the U.S., Britain, and Russia. If the three powers agreed to the compromise, then the entire matter could be approved by the U.N. membership within the time it took to order a Coney Island and fries.

John D. Rockefeller had offered a gift of 8.5 million dollars to the U.N. for purchase of a permanent site, located at Franklin D. Roosevelt Drive between Forty-Second and Forty-Seventh Streets. The City of New York was to give the balance of the city block in which the site was situated. His gift was conditioned on the City allowing the U.N. to use the site without restriction. The U.N. was provided thirty days to act on the gift.

The site on the East River would become the permanent location for the U.N.

The battle for Harbin in Manchuria appeared to be nearing inception as eight Government divisions opened a three-pronged offensive toward the Communist stronghold. Some 10,000 Communist troops were on the move 80 miles southwest of Harbin to attack Government positions on the other side of the Sungari River. Government troops were preparing to attack Yenan.

A guerilla uprising took place near Caracas, Venezuela, with the insurgents seizing the major airport in the city.

Government attorneys and attorneys for the UMW and John L. Lewis agreed to delay further action in the Federal Court case, regarding the right of the union to declare the Government contract void on November 20, until after the Supreme Court had a chance to hear the contempt case in January.

A twin-engine Navy transport plane carrying 32 men had disappeared in the Cascade Mountains between Portland and Seattle, near Chehalis, Washington. A Coast Guard plane had spotted the wreckage on the fringe of the Cascades. It had left San Diego the previous afternoon, scheduled to take Marines to Seattle.

In Los Angeles, the XS-1, an experimental plane which the Army Air Forces hoped would exceed the sound barrier, had completed its first tests. The plane flew off the belly of a B-29—similar to the way the later X-15 would be launched. The four-engine plane was designed to fly at up to 1,700 mph, over Mach 2, but the pilot had so far kept it at around 550 mph. The plane was designed to glide to a landing. Its engine weighed only 210 pounds and was 56 inches in length. The plane was 31 feet long and had a wing span of 28 feet.

The Atomic Energy Commission was scheduled on January 1 to take over the Manhattan Project from the Army. Maj. General Leslie Groves, who had directed the Project since its inception, was to remain as a consultant to the Commission. David Lilienthal, former head of TVA, was the chairman of the Commission.

A former Government economist, Robert Nathan, stated that the United States would face financial collapse unless industry immediately raised wages and cut prices sharply.

In Flint, Mich., 25 children were injured when a school bus struck a tree after the right front tire blew out, causing the driver to lose control. There had been 40 fifth and sixth grade pupils aboard. No one was killed. The bus did not catch fire.

Dr. Richard Kimble was not reported to be snoozing in the area at the time. Lt. Gerard would not need to come from Stafford, Ind., this time.

In Bristol, Va.-Tenn., a man who was a Sunday school treasurer, convicted of second degree murder, received a sentence of ten years for the axe murder of his wife. He had reportedly gone crazy one day in September when his wife refused to accompany him on a shopping expedition. He remembered nothing after that until he was kneeling beside his wife's body in their kitchen. He thought that her refusal to go shopping meant that she was going to maintain a tryst with another man.

Obviously, it was a case of confusion at the borders of Main Street.

A photograph appears of two informants for the State of Georgia in its case against the Columbians, the two having been former members, or "suckers", as they described it, of the Klan-like organization, whose goal was to take over the universe after the City of Atlanta, the State of Georgia, the United States, and the world, in that order.

In Bakersfield, California, the City Council voted 4 to 3 against passage of an ordinance to ban train whistles from blowing in the city at night. Attorneys for the railroad assured that efforts had been undertaken to abate the noise.

The Empty Stocking Fund needed money to provide for a mother with nine children whose father had died during the year without life insurance. The Fund was now up to $2,130.50, enough to provide to the 2,000 needy children toys worth $1.06 each. And there are still two weeks remaining until Christmas. You kids are going to be rich.

On the editorial page, "How About Our Fire Safety Code?" reports that the Atlanta Fire Marshal had declared that the Winecoff Hotel fire, which had claimed 119 lives the previous Saturday morning, the most deadly hotel fire in the country's history, had been sparked by a careless cigarette smoker "dazed by liquor".

The piece thinks it too easy a conclusion to draw and that lost in the report would be the details, that there were some drunks at the hotel the previous Saturday, and some probably had been smoking, but such a cause was no more probable than many other causes which might have produced the fire, including arson—which would ultimately be laid as the probable cause, occurring on the third floor.

The Fire Marshal had based his assertion on speculation, coupled with the finding of liquor bottles in several of the burned rooms. But he had admitted that the origin might never be established.

The piece assures that it was not defending the careless drunk, but attributing the fire to that person might distract from the real issue, failure of compliance with fire codes, as the Fire Marshal had pointed out most businesses in the city failed to do. The City Attorney had held that a new fire code was not applicable to existing structures.

Following the La Salle Hotel fire in Chicago on June 5, the Charlotte Fire Chief had called for immediate inspection to insure local compliance with codes, ordered some changes, but concluded that fire safety in the city was good. The code, however, needed updating and probably had as many loopholes as did that of Atlanta.

While the Winecoff Hotel tragedy was fresh, it was time to drive home the need for increased fire safety measures, as prevention was the most important part of fire fighting.

The Winecoff fire, coupled with the other tragedies of the year, the most deadly year from hotel fires in the country's history, would lead to a nationwide revision of fire safety codes and inspection practices.

"The Veterans Who Were Remembered" tells of the report from the North Carolina branch of the Veterans Administration, stating that at the end of November, nearly 40,000 veterans in the state were drawing disability pensions; 7,400 families were being paid death pensions; and nearly 2,000 veterans were being treated in the three veterans hospitals in the state.

The most glowing of the report's statistics was that 32,462 able-bodied veterans were receiving institutional training in colleges, high schools, trade schools, and other facilities under the G.I. Bill. Enrollment was still increasing. In addition, over 1,600 disabled veterans were enrolled in educational institutions, while 2,656 were participating in job training.

There were abuses in the programs, but the cases were becoming increasingly rare as VA standards were becoming more stringent.

While the training did not offset the Government's failure in the housing program, it was a feather in the Government's cap and was an improvement over the past treatment of war veterans.

"A Ballot for Junior?" comments on the movement among veterans, first noted by the Winston-Salem Sentinel, to lower the voting age from 21 to 18. During the war, the draft age was lowered to 18 and appeared to settle the argument on voting age. Those in favor of lowering the limit had taken up the cry that those old enough to die fighting for their country were old enough for voting.

Some people attained the age of 21 without getting past the grade-school level mentally. The piece suggests that such citizens sometimes appeared to comprise the majority of the electorate. So age meant little.

But if it were possible to set an average age, 21 would come nearer assuring voting maturity than 18. Nor was it so illogical to give a gun to an eighteen-year old and expect him to fight while denying him the vote for three additional years.

The piece, however, says that it would not make an issue of the effort to lower the age. South Carolina and Georgia had already done so. Nothing had changed in either state which was apparent in the voting results. Georgia had elected reactionary Eugene Talmadge as Governor in the most recent election and South Carolina had demonstrated apathy.

The real effort needed to be exerted in educating the general electorate that voting was an obligation of citizenship.

A piece from the Spartanburg Journal, titled "Dual-Lane Route to Charlotte?" reports that the people of Greenville, S.C., were looking forward to having an interstate dual-lane highway running from Atlanta, as a present road linked Spartanburg and Greenville. It wonders what plans were in the works to extend the road to Charlotte.

Several super-highways were in the planning stage. There would be a Washington-Atlanta highway, passing through Greenville and Spartanburg. There would also be one from Charleston to Asheville. They would not be built at once but would gradually form a nationwide web.

It wanted priority given to a road from Spartanburg to Gaffney.

You can look forward to all of that in the future.

But with the flying car, you might not need those super-highways.

Drew Pearson reports, as did the editorial column the previous day, that a lot of miners were not in sympathy with the coal strike. The strip miners were lukewarm to it and were returning to work in droves. It was one factor which motivated Mr. Lewis to end the strike.

Had the strike persisted and President Truman given his speech on Sunday night as originally planned, the miners of Western Pennsylvania, the strongest supporters of the strike, were each going to send to the President their shirts as an expression of their frustration. The mailing would have been accompanied by a note reading: "You have taken the shirt off our back. You can go back to the haberdashery business."

Well, their invitation could have stood some editorial improvement, to make the point with greater sforzando and panache, such as: "You have taken from our backs our last stitch. So, go back to the haberdashery business, Mr. President."

Prior to his conviction for contempt, John L. Lewis had made an effort to negotiate a new contract directly with the owners. He had been willing to relent on his demand for 54 hours of pay for 40 hours of work and reduce it to 45 hours of pay for 40 hours. Cyrus Eaton took this proposal to the operators, but the next day he told Mr. Lewis that they had flatly rejected it.

Mr. Lewis denounced the Administration, and especially Secretary of State Byrnes for urging the President to end the strike. He also denounced Secretary of Interior J. A. Krug as a tool of Wall Street.

When it became apparent that the operators would not settle, Mr. Lewis asked Mr. Eaton to have the President call in the four big coal-consuming companies, including U.S. Steel, to resolve the strike. Since they consumed 100 million tons of coal per year, they had the leverage to force the owners to bargain.

Mr. Eaton had not worked out a truce but his talks with Mr. Lewis probably had persuaded the latter to end the strike.

He next reports that the next major lobbying drive in Washington was to be exerted toward ending rent controls. The President intended to end OPA completely and transfer rent control to the Department of Commerce. The real estate lobby was preparing to put pressure on the Federal Government to transfer rent control to the states. It was unlikely to succeed, however, even with a Republican Congress. Twelve states had no rent control and in several others, the laws were elastic.

Marquis Childs tells of big business owing to RFC director George Allen a great amount of thanks for effectively ending controls on the economy, especially forcing the resignation of Wilson Wyatt, the Housing Expediter. Mr. Wyatt had done an extraordinary job against great odds during his year in the position. He was able to effect the start of 700,000 homes, well short of the goal, but given the resistance at RFC in making loans for rental housing development, the lack of proper priorities on materials, and allowance of unbridled real estate speculation driving up prices, he had performed well.

He had advocated in a letter to the President sent November 20 that 100 percent RFC loans be made for rental housing development, even if the investment had risk attached. The FHA guaranteed 90 percent of the loans on apartments which would be rented to veterans, and so RFC actually would only be guaranteeing the other ten percent, and only through July 1, 1947. But Mr. Allen wanted to consult with Congress even though the Executive Branch had authority to act under the Patman Emergency Housing Act. Mr. Wyatt thought the three-month delay would be crucial.

His letter stated that the goal for the coming year would not be met without the requirements he had outlined being implemented.

At present, the prospective home buyer would have to wait until prices dropped, but that was not fulfilling the housing needs of veterans.

Harold Ickes discusses the halt of the coal strike by John L. Lewis so that the Supreme Court could pass on his contempt conviction. He had expressed willingness to negotiate in the interim with the Government or the coal operators to try to resolve the dispute. Mr. Ickes thinks it would be a mistake for the Government to try to negoatiate the matter again, having failed before November 20. It was not desirable for the President to have to exercise war power authority in peacetime and the Congress should pass special legislation if it wanted the President so to act. The operators and employees ought be left to negotiate a new contract on their own.

He favors turning the mines back over to the private owners, that nationalization of the coal mines should only take place after prolonged national debate on the issue, not in the circumstance of an emergency and by slow degrees.

The nation should accept with grace the decision of Mr. Lewis to call off the strike and not engage in recrimination after the fact. The owners and the union ought now work out an agreement with the public interest uppermost in mind.

A letter from a senior at Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte reacts to criticism of the president of the University and its Administration generally, suggesting that student views had not been properly aired. He states that the University president was the victim of a grudge held by some alumni. He points out that the leaders of the alumni association claimed to speak for 10,000 graduates when even if all of the institution's graduates had been alive since the founding of it 79 years earlier, there could only have been 5,000 such alumni.

He admits that there was some need for improvement in the physical plant of the school, but that would take money.

The charges made against the president and the Administration, he concludes, were untrue.

A letter writer who had previously responded to a letter and received a reply, accusing him of "horning in", his name being Horne, writes again from his address in Manly Dormitory at UNC, assuring that he was not blind, as the letter writer whom he had criticized contended. The previous letter writer had attacked FDR as having sent the boys to war, taxed the middle class, and made the rich richer, while this writer had defended FDR against the accusations.

He schools his correspondent on the basic techniques of propounding valid argument and then offers for $2 to send to him a book which discussed these fundamental dialectic principles. He thinks the gentleman would find it of incalculable value—being, as he was, an uneducated lout, and as much a liar as Auld Horny.

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