The Charlotte News

Thursday, December 12, 1946


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that President Truman had abolished the War Mobilization and Reconversion Office, naming its director John Steelman as his new assistant with virtually the same duties. A new office of temporary controls would carry on the remaining functions of the OPA, the OWMR, the Civilian Production Administration, and the Office of Economic Stabilization, each of which also was abolished. Raymond Foley was named the new Housing Administrator and Frank Creedon, the new Housing Expediter, both of which posts had been held by Wilson Wyatt.

The President stated that he did not intend to abandon rent controls or to order an increase in rent ceilings.

In New York City, a five-story ice-house wall collapsed against the side of a tenement building causing it to collapse, killing at least eight persons and possibly more among the 44 others who were still trapped beneath the rubble, from which rescuers could hear no sounds fourteen hours after the tragedy. A fire of unknown origin had ignited just after midnight at the ice plant, fifteen minutes before the collapse of the wall. Numerous persons had been rescued and taken to hospitals.

A U.N. subcommittee on drafting approved the basic principles for a program of arms limitation and inspection to enforce it, free of the veto power. It was next to be presented to the 54-nation Political Committee of the Assembly and then to the Assembly.

The Foreign Ministers Council arranged to finish its current session after agreeing on the plans for drafting the German and Austrian treaties, to be discussed at the next meeting in Moscow in March. Before that point, the smaller nations would be given a chance to express their views on the treaties. V. M. Molotov agreed that the proposal of Secretary of State Byrnes, that occupation armies in Europe would be curtailed and a 40-year German disarmament pact implemented, would be considered.

The French National Assembly had elected Socialist Leon Blum, 74, as President-Premier of the interim Government, which would serve until mid-January. He received 575 votes, needing only 310 to be elected. Mr. Blum, who had been in a German prison camp during the war, had negotiated a loan from the U.S. for France the previous spring. He had been the Prime Minister on two previous occasions between 1936 and 1938.

Retired Maj. General Thomas Robins told Senate investigators that the manager of Senator Theodore Bilbo's 1940 re-election campaign had been the promoter and front man for a group of contractors who obtained a 1.7 million dollar war contract to build an Army airfield at Meridian, Mississippi. The hearings were being held to determine whether Mr. Bilbo had received substantial gifts in exchange for his recommendation for the war contracts. The Republicans were seeking to bar Senator Bilbo from taking his seat in the 80th Congress when it convened in early January.

Mr. Bilbo agreed that his campaign manager had been the brains behind the combine of contractors and that it was typical for Senators and Congressmen to recommend friends and supportive constituents for war contracts.

Rescue efforts to locate the crashed transport plane carrying 32 Marines from San Diego to Seattle were hampered by flooded streams and washed out bridges in the area south of Mount Ranier. It was now believed that the plane had gone down in the vicinity of Mount Ranier at Longmire, near its base.

Industry leaders, including George Romney, general manager of the Automobile Manufacturers Association, feared that the CIO's new insistence on higher wages would lead to a new round of strikes. Philip Murray, CIO president, had urged that, based on the report of former Government economist Robert Nathan, average profits permitted a 25 percent rise in wages without raising prices. Mr. Romney countered that many individual firms and some whole industries were losing money.

Tom Fesperman of The News reports that the North Carolina Supreme Court had ruled that tax money could not be used for municipal recreation purposes absent a vote under the State Constitution, meaning the need for approval by a majority of those registered to vote. Recreation did not qualify as a "necessary" expenditure under the exception to the rule.

Mayor Herbert Baxter of Charlotte had responded to the ruling by consideration of funding the Parks & Recreation Commission from other sources, such as from profits made by certain municipal departments. The City had sought to appropriate $10,000 of tax revenue to the Commission, leading to the friendly test case.

A movement was also underway to have the State Constitution amended to permit recreation to be considered a necessary expense.

In Los Angeles, actress Eloise Mack testified in her divorce suit against her husband, stage manager Leon Goodman, that he gave her two black eyes for her birthday. She was awarded her divorce.

Whether he allowed her to blow out the candles was not stated.

In New Britain, Conn., a five-year old boy socked Santa Claus right in the jaw, was severely reprimanded by his mother, then explained that Santa had not brought him the bicycle he had promised to him the previous year.

Whether Santa was going to sue the mother as the responsible guardian of the boy was not indicated. But it was highly doubtful that he would receive the bicycle this Christmas either or even next Christmas. In fact, it might be 1961 before he gets that bicycle, then only by special dispensation, to enable him to get around, since he won't have a car from Santa by that point either.

Cpl. Chester R. Perkins, who had been blinded by a German land mine during the war and was convalescing in a VA hospital in Valley Forge, Pa., where he had been for 21 months, had addressed his first letter to Santa Claus, reprinted on the page.

After being told by the doctor that he would never see again, he asks Santa for two new blue eyes that he might be able again to look upon the beauty of the world. He explains what he wished to see, to replace the "filthy, smelly mud of battle and the drawn faces of dying men" locked in his memory "with the cool feeling of fresh, clean sheets and the hopeful faces of men born anew."

If, he says, on Christmas morning, he did not find the gift, he would not be disappointed, as he still had a good mind and strong body, friends, and a desire to justify his existence. Those were the important things in life.

The Empty Stocking Fund needed contributions to help pay for Christmas for the five children of a woman who could not afford to buy clothing or toys for them. The Four Anonymouses had contributed, collectively, over $20, albeit Anonymous No. 1 having apparently demanded to remain so anonymous that even the label "Anonymous No. 1" was thought to be unduly revealing of identity, and so remained locked away, hush-hush, and on the Q.T. The local Elks had donated $100 to the Fund, which was now up to $2,478, meaning that each of the 2,000 needy children who would receive benefits from the fund could have now a $1.24 toy.

That means that you can afford this little boat and have nearly a quarter left over for something good like clothing, or for the baking soda and vinegar to run the little boat across the ocean.

And if you have extra fuel left, you can use equal parts to clean out some drains around the house.

On the editorial page, "The Coming Cotton Revolution" finds that while a few years earlier, a bale of cotton per acre represented prosperity, it was now said to be only the break-even point for cotton farmers. The cotton producers now faced stiff competition from both foreign markets and synthetic fibers.

Senator Clyde Hoey had reminded the National Cotton Council Carolinas convention that the Southern states which had once produced 70 percent of the world supply of cotton now put forth only 25 percent.

The need was for increased efficiency in cotton production so that it could be sold at 21 to 22 cents per pound, to compete with rayon at 26 cents per pound under current pricing. That required increased mechanization, already underway but slowed by the war. This mechanization was supposed to produce a new type of cotton farm, replacing the old sharecropping system.

The piece finds the old era ending, for better or worse, for the better if the region moved forward to meet the new era.

"Praise for President Truman" reports that both Democrats and even some Republicans believed that the President had gained stature with the successful handling of the coal strike, handing to John L. Lewis his first real defeat in years. Even Time, which had a few months earlier called him a "clumsy liar", now found kind things to say of his deft handling of the crisis. The Baltimore Sun and the New York Herald-Tribune had likewise come to his defense in its wake.

The President deserved the commendations as he had acted with strength in refusing to compromise with Mr. Lewis, not backing down on the court action against his declaring the Government contract void and calling the coal strike of November 21.

But the praise had to be tempered by the realization that this conservative editorial support might only serve as an invitation to the President to support Republican principles and abandon his own party. For breaking the coal strike was a conservative victory.

The President had been scorned by the same sources who now praised him when he had sought to avert a meat producers strike, supported by the conservative press.

Good press was comforting to a President but was likely not essential, as proven by the level of vocal dissent expressed regularly by the newspapers against FDR.

"Excursions into a Half-World" suggests that probably the only way to ferret out an organization such as the Columbians of Atlanta was to get down to its level. The Columbians wanted to establish a fascist government in the United States and with it take over the world. They had begun by waging a campaign against blacks and Jews in Atlanta, including allegedly bombing the home of one citizen.

Undercover agents had infiltrated the group's headquarters to discover information. One of these agents was described as a "willowy blonde woman".

While it was regrettable to dignify such crackpots with so much attention, it was the only way apparently to deal with them. They had attracted a growing following even among veterans, despite the organization openly espousing the principles of Nazism.

The piece thinks that even if Alfred Hitchcock needed to be enlisted to aid the cause, it was salutary that Governor Ellis Arnall and his assistants were rooting out this organization.

"After all, it wasn't so long ago that the world tried to laugh off a screwball paper-hanger who was making similar noises in a Munich beer hall."

A piece from the Louisville Courier-Journal, titled "The Sixty-Four Dollar Question", remarks on an investigation taking placing at Indiana University as to whether there were any Reds, besides the school colors, on campus. A young woman who was president of the co-eds asked the trustees performing the inquiry what they considered to be a Communist. After some fumbling they answered that it was a person who voted for the Communist Party, advocated the forceful overthrow of the U.S. Government, and supported Kremlin policies. She then responded that she knew of no one who fit that description.

The piece states that the inquiry was so absurd that other groups and universities should think twice before embarking on Red hunts.

Drew Pearson tells of there having been thousands of protests from veterans regarding the forced resignation of Housing Expediter Wilson Wyatt. But they did not know that the American Legion had helped to deliver the last blow to Mr. Wyatt by having lobbied, beginning the previous September, against the housing program, having been influenced by the National Association of Home Builders at the American Legion convention in San Francisco.

The Legionnaires had rallied to the defense of Mr. Wyatt and the housing program at the convention, but subsequently, after a committee had studied the housing situation and issued a report, the head of the American Legion told the President that he disfavored the program being conducted by Mr. Wyatt. He wanted housing placed with an emergency board set up under the Federal Housing Administration. He asserted, as had Mr. Wyatt, that more multiple-unit apartments should be built, as veterans lacked the money for individual homes.

But the Legion had not actively supported the Patman Emergency Housing Bill, which had languished for months in Congress before being passed, and so was partially responsible for the failure of the housing program.

He next tells of Congressman George Bender of Ohio being greeted at a recent RNC meeting as a cousin by RNC chairman Carroll Reece. A distant cousin of each had recently married one another. Mr. Bender wanted his native Cleveland to be the site of the Republican convention in 1948. Objections were raised because Senator-elect John W. Bricker and Senator Robert Taft were prime candidates for the nomination and also were from Ohio. But Mr. Bender retorted that most states with large cities had candidates, except Florida. So, if not Cleveland, they could go to Miami. Former RNC chairman Harrison Spangler instructed that his native Iowa had no candidate, to which Mr. Bender replied that he guessed that they would have the convention therefore in a cornfield.

He assured that Cleveland had the rooms to accommodate more than 6,000 people. It was pointed out that Ohio Republicans were behind on their assessment to the National Committee. Mr. Bender promised that it would be caught up.

Marquis Childs discusses the shift of emphasis from the ended coal strike to the Supreme Court, to try to read the tea leaves as to how it would decide the contempt case against John L. Lewis and the UMW. He reflects back to the case of January, 1945, Thomas v. Collins, 323 US 516, which was decided for R. J. Thomas of the United Auto Workers after he was held in contempt by the Texas courts for violating a restraining order issued pursuant to a Texas law which required registration before solicitation of union membership. The Court held 5 to 4 in favor of Mr. Thomas, finding the statute and thus the restraining order premised thereon to violate free speech under the First Amendment.

The opinion had been delivered by Justice Wiley Rutledge and joined by Justices William O. Douglas, Hugo Black, Frank Murphy, and Robert Jackson. Justice Douglas wrote a brief concurring opinion, and Justice Jackson added another concurrence.

Justice Owen Roberts, now retired and replaced by former Senator Harold Burton, wrote the dissent, joined by the late Chief Justice Harlan Stone, replaced by Fred Vinson, and by Justices Felix Frankfurter and Stanley Reed.

The Justices who remained on the Court had not appeared in the interim, he ventures, to have altered their opposing positions.

But, of course, while the Thomas case gave hope to John L. Lewis and the UMW, the issue in the case of the striking miners was very different, having nothing to do with freedom of speech or solicitation of union membership, but rather simply whether the UMW had the right to declare void a Government contract and enter into a strike against the Government which was operating the mines pursuant to the May 29 agreement until the operators would settle with UMW. The Smith-Connally Act forbade aiding a strike against the Government and the Norris-La Guardia Act, which the Lewis lawyers had cited, forbade injunctions against strikes. The tension between these seemingly opposing statutes posed the issue to be determined in January before the Supreme Court. Thus, trying to predict the outcome on the basis of the Texas case was likely a bit of a fool's errand.

Samuel Grafton passes through the Mexican village of Huejotzingo on his way to Puebla, finds the enduring sunshine to obscure the hardship among the people who survived beneath it. The pastel blocks of buildings along dust-covered streets were inhabited by small people who had little to eat, had their corn milled to go with beans and hot chili peppers, their staple diet.

Once he reached Puebla, he found an American school which was teaching some 200 Mexican children. Until four years earlier, the Germans had controlled the foreign education in the town and the children would hiss FDR whenever he appeared in a newsreel at the local theater.

Puebla also hid its struggles in the bright sunshine. He visited a pottery and tile-making establishment wherein the potters worked their wheels in near darkness, squinting in the dim light. An old woman who made the small tripods for the pottery had been an expert potter but was now blind from the work.

"As one looks back, on the quiet, narrow street outside, one sees only the pastel-colored walls, and the furious sunlight, playing with the pretty tiles. It is very quaint."

A letter writer finds the Burke Davis articles the previous week on the regular flow of drunks appearing before the local courts to have been informing. But he counsels that if ABC stores were established in the county, there would be more drunks by the fact that they could more easily obtain liquor. The wet counties, he says, also had their share of bootleggers. He urges readers to wake up.

A letter presents an article from the Free Will Baptist Weekly Paper of December 4, titled "Hell, Incorporated", anent a $40,000 lot having been purchased in Las Vegas by an outfit which was planning to build Hell, Inc., with every sort of vice featured in the establishment. It was advertising same with devil imagery presented on billboards along the road from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, saying "You're on the road to Hell," and "Hell is Fun". It was emblematic, it says, of the spiritual decay in the country.

The letter writer asks the editors whether they thought Hell was healthy for Nevada.

The editors respond: "Heavens no."

A letter writer favors prosecuting draft dodgers during the war as they had engaged in treasonous action by evading the draft. The Disabled War Veterans, she reports, were requesting Selective Service Board records for the purpose.

A letter from a reader who had for five years enjoyed the old version of the crossword puzzle carried by the newspaper protests against its replacement by a less colorful syndicated version, and asks that they consider reverting to the previous crossword provider.

The editors respond that they had received complaints that the old puzzle was too easy but now were receiving complaints that the new one was too hard. They promise a new edition, to start on January 6, which would seek a happy medium.

If you want to be the judge of that, head for the library, either in Charlotte or Chapel Hill.


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