The Charlotte News

Friday, December 13, 1946


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the U.N. Political and Security Committee had approved the general principles of proposed arms reduction, but had rejected the proposal for an immediate international census of troops, leaving the latter issue, complicated by amendments, to the Security Council.

The site selection committee had accepted the 8.5 million dollar gift by John D. Rockefeller, announced two days earlier, for the purchase of a specific site on FDR Drive between 42nd and 47th Streets in Manhattan. It was next to go before the General Assembly.

At Coulter, Ohio, a "Golden Triangle" train of the Pennsylvania Railroad collided with two freight trains, causing the deaths of at least fifteen people and injuring another 50. Five of the dead had been soldiers on the way home on Christmas furlough. The two freight trains had initially wrecked, and the passenger train collided with that wreckage a few minutes later. One of the freight trains had stopped because of a broken hose and was rammed by the second freight train, causing a derailment. The "Golden Triangle" had been traveling on a parallel track when it struck the wreckage. The second coach of the train went over a 30-foot embankment, trapping the passengers. At least 70 of 150 soldiers on the train had escaped injury.

Edwin Pauley, President Truman's emissary in China, blamed primarily Russia for wrecking the industry of Manchuria after the war, taking away food and Japanese-installed machinery as war booty to replace damaged Russian industry. It had produced political and economic instability. He placed the Russian damage to Manchuria during occupation at two billion dollars. Some of the damage was from civil war in the area, which was also an indirect result of Russian occupation.

The White House stated that the President would shortly issue a statement on veterans housing in light of the new Housing Expediter and Housing Administrator. Meanwhile the VFW stated its continued opposition to relieving control over the housing industry and favored continued prioritization of materials for veterans housing.

The Senate War Investigating Committee, looking into allegations of payments for war contracts against Senator Theodore Bilbo, heard testimony from a Hattiesburg, Miss., contractor that he paid $25,000 to the Senator in September, 1942. The witness stated that he had made a million dollars in fees since 1940 from war contracts. He stated that he was not aware whether Mr. Bilbo had helped the company obtain war contracts to build Kessler Field in Biloxi, but that his company had asked him to do so. The job had cost the Government 14 million dollars. The witness said that he had obtained about 15 war contracts after talking repeatedly with Mr. Bilbo.

Another Mississippi contractor and a Charlotte contractor, Edwin Jones of the J. A. Jones Construction Co., were also involved in the construction and had come to Washington to meet with Mr. Bilbo and Army officials regarding it. Mr. Jones admitted donating $500 to a church in Mississippi after being informed that Mr. Bilbo was interested in it. His firm had also handled part of the construction of the Oak Ridge atomic bomb plant.

A new cold front was sweeping the nation after a heat wave had embraced the East. Only parts of Oregon, California, and some of the Deep South were expected to continue to experience mild weather.

Douglas Corrigan, who had become famous for his "wrong way" flight from New York to Ireland in 1938, had hired on as a pilot for an air cargo service out of Ontario, California, flying to New York. Mr. Corrigan had recently lost his bid as a Prohibition Party candidate for the U.S. Senate from California.

Actor Melvyn Douglas had won his civil suit against MGM Studios, contending that his contract ended in December, 1947, not in 1951, as the studio maintained because of his four years in active service during the war.

Cpl. Chester Perkins, whose letter to Santa Claus, requesting two new, blue eyes to replace the two which he had lost to a German mine during the war, had been printed nationwide the previous day, had received a glut of mail in response, including a letter from one woman who had offered to donate her eyes. Cpl. Perkins was said to be amazed by the responses, that he never expected his letter to be more than a routine letter to the editor. He said that he had been inspired to write the letter by the song "White Christmas". His wife had called him to inform that radio stations were reading the letter over the air and playing songs dedicated to him.

Mr. Perkins was from Indiana, had graduated high school in 1941 in Indianapolis before heading off to war in 1943, where, in early 1945, as a member of the 327th Engineers Combat Battalion of the 102nd Infantry Division, he received the injuries which had blinded him and destroyed part of his face. He would graduate with honors in journalism from Butler University in 1952 and live until 2006, retiring as a director of the Central Indiana American Lung Association, having edited a newspaper for the blind, The Hoosier Star Light, from 1954 through 1989. According to his daughter, his favorite saying had been, "Blindness is not a handicap; it's just a damned nuisance."

The Empty Stocking Fund needed contributions to help provide toys to the needy children of Charlotte, such as the young boy, chronically ill since age four until recently, who wrote that he would like to have some games and clothing.

The Fund was now up to $3,839.25, thanks to an annual contribution by the Charlotte Boxing Commission of $1,150. Now, you kids can afford a toy worth $1.92 each, and there are still 12 days left in the drive. You don't have to bother with that little boat, anymore. You can start to dream of real toys, that span the whole universe. Thank the boxers for that sudden advance in status.

On the editorial page, "The Supreme Court's Narrow View" comments on the North Carolina Supreme Court having reversed the Mecklenburg Superior Court by its ruling holding that recreational purposes were not "necessary" expenditures of tax revenue under the limitations imposed by the State Constitution, thus requiring voter approval by a majority of registered voters. The upshot was that the $10,000 in tax revenue earmarked for parks and recreation facilities in Charlotte could not be so appropriated and the money had to be found elsewhere.

The piece finds the Court's decision not to allow recreation facilities to qualify under the exception afforded by the State Constitution to be arbitrary and denying to a majority of people who had actually voted for the proposal in Mecklenburg, as well as in other counties, the right to express their majority will. It stood as a perversion of the franchise.

In the particular case, the result would have little consequence as the revenue could be raised from profits made by municipal services, such as the Water Department. But in smaller towns, without such resort, the decision would have greater impact. It would also prevent Charlotte from undertaking its library expansion or building a new auditorium, absent voter approval by the extraordinary majority.

The only recourse was to amend the State Constitution.

"The Differential Is Still With Us" is reminded by the new contract negotiated in New England by the Textile Workers Union of America that a differential in wages between Northern and Southern workers continued to exist. The new contract guaranteed a minimum wage of 83 cents per hour for a 40-hour week. The union contracts in the Carolinas stood at 73 cents. The average in New England was $1.02 per hour, while that in the South, for union and non-union textile workers, was 87 cents.

The differential had been in effect since the textile industry had been established in the South, when cheap labor was a principal lure for industry. It could not easily be eliminated once it had become so entrenched, but also was indefensible and rendered the South a continuing economic colony of the North.

Nobody, however, seemed to be willing to do anything about the disparity.

"Reformed Radical from Vermont" comments on a headline appearing in the Hendersonville Times-News, "Prominent Radical Professes Conversion", surprisingly in reference to Senator George Aiken of Vermont, based on his statement that no one man should be allowed to hold up the nation's commerce and that such power as held by John L. Lewis had to be curbed.

It did not seem a conversion unless Mr. Aiken had previously been in favor of chaos. Rather it provided an indicator that the Senator, who had voted with the New Deal, was preparing to return to his own party, the Republicans, as the anti-labor stance so reflected.

It reminded that Senator Clyde Hoey of North Carolina had recently stated that the Government had to end all of the bureaucratic red tape or the Republicans would do it for them, a view contrary to the general line adopted by members of the Democratic Party.

A piece from the Christian Science Monitor, titled "Martyr in a Peanut Wagon", tells a story of some years earlier when a peanut wagon vendor, who had a successful business, sold out to a long-term professor at a Midwestern university, in front of which the vendor had for years operated. The professor then proceeded to make more money than he had as a professor, and, he said, from a lot less work.

The chagrin which resulted to the school administration and the state caused changes to be made and salaries increased. But even in 1946, some professors earned less than a locomotive fireman, while school teachers often earned less than the janitors at their schools.

It wonders whether another peanut vendor martyr would be necessary to convince legislatures to raise teacher pay.

Drew Pearson tells of a gala White House reception, with all the pomp and circumstance normally attendant such affairs, but missing Cabinet members. Many were occupied legitimately elsewhere, but not Secretary of Commerce Averell Harriman, who was available in Washington, but chose to skip the reception, insulting both the President and the First Lady. The snub was made worse by the fact that Mr. Harriman was the newest member of the Cabinet and, having been Ambassador to Great Britain and raised in American wealth, was the most skilled in high society.

Secretary of Labor Lewis Schwellenbach had also been absent without leave, but he was a former laundry operator from Washington State and so might be excused for the faux pas. Attorney General Tom Clark, from Texas, might be forgiven also for shying away from such events.

Adding further to the insult was that Mr. Harriman had been dining with New York Times Washington bureau chief Arthur Krock, who had also bypassed the White House event. They went to the "Dancing Class", a Washington organization which delighted in snubbing White House incumbents, especially Democrats.

He next informs that Teamsters boss Dan Tobin had been the person most responsible for calling off the three-day general strike in Oakland the previous week, despite the newspapers giving most of the credit to West Coast Teamsters boss Dave Beck of Seattle. But Mr. Tobin had sent a stinging telegram, which the column reprints, to the head of the Oakland Local 70, ordering him to end the strike. He stated that a general strike never brought results but only injured fair employers with whom the Teamsters had contracts.

Mr. Tobin, he notes, had been unfairly castigated for his supposed role in the Statler Hotel imbroglio in 1944, involving a fight between Teamsters and two Naval officers.

He tells next of the cessation of OPA controls causing Christmas purchases to be behind the rate of the previous year, as prices had risen, inhibiting spending. The number of shoppers was as high as usual, but they were not buying as much. The raw dollar amount of purchases was 20 percent higher than in 1945, but the increase was the result of higher prices, not more purchases. Remaining inventories were 227 percent that of the pre-war years, 1935-39.

Samuel Grafton, in Mexico City, explains that Mexicans had a pejorative term for Spaniards, especially an aristocrat, whom they called "Gachupin", the Aztec word for "spurs", which they had viewed for the first time on the heels of the men under Cortez in 1520. It was usually used now by Spanish Republican exiles to refer to Spanish Royalists visiting Mexico. One family with two daughters, one of whom was born in Spain and the other in Mexico, found that the Mexican-born daughter would sometimes use the term of derogation against her sister.

The Mayan descendants living on the Yucatan Peninsula would refer to the Mexicans of the mainland as "Gachupin". The Mexican feelings toward Spain were comparable to American feelings toward Britain thirty to forty years earlier.

Malinche, the Aztec Princess who had served as the interpreter for Cortez during his conquest and bore him a child, the first Mexican, evoked ambivalent feelings from Mexicans. She was regarded both romantically and derogatorily, called in the latter sense "Malinchismo", someone who excessively fawned over foreigners. This ambivalence characterized the modern Mexican search for national identity and character.

The new President, Miguel Aleman, in other times would have been reviled for having so many foreigners around him during his inauguration the previous week. But the xenophobic urge appeared less strong than in the past. Ramon Beteta, President Aleman's chief economist, had been educated in the U.S., holding a Ph.D. from the University of Texas. But he had also experienced American discrimination and thus was said to have been a proponent of the 1938 expropriation of American and British private oil properties during the Administration of President Lazaro Cardenas. He was held in high esteem therefore by the nationalists in the country and thought capable of becoming President, despite his U.S. education.

The extensive concern with national identity led to a study of Indian archaeology, with every intellectual having a favorite primitive region in the country to recommend. Many had quarreled over where to send Mr. Grafton so that he might experience the true Mexico. The search itself appeared to be the most representative concept informing of the true Mexico.

Harold Ickes finds that the housing program which had been so ably administered by Wilson Wyatt, had now been essentially flushed down the drain. Mr. Wyatt did the only thing he could under the circumstances by resigning. The President made and broke promises lightly. Mr. Wyatt had been an excellent choice for the job and with his departure, the Administration was without any outstanding talent in administering its domestic program.

Mr. Wyatt enjoyed plenty of authority, granted by both the Patman Emergency Housing Act and executive order. But when he asked George Allen to have RFC grant 100 percent loans on rental housing development and he refused, Mr. Wyatt's only recourse was to the President. Clark Clifford, the President's chief legal counsel, aided Mr. Allen and Secretary of Interior J. A. Krug in blocking the proposal. The latter had shot down the priorities for building materials for low-cost housing, causing various recreational facilities to be built instead of housing. As a result, veterans could go bowling but had nowhere to live.

Then the strikes began to pile up and housing ceased to be of primary concern. Prices rose and wages had to rise with them, as business did not want to cut into their huge profits to pay higher wages and keep prices controlled. Controls fell away, and so did the housing program.

Mr. Allen and Mr. Clifford had believed that pre-fabricated housing would destroy real estate values and so opposed it. The result was a housing shortage which would drive up prices. Mr. Allen believed more in extending the life of RFC than in building houses. He was the court jester of the Administration and kept the President laughing, but the country was in no mood for laughter.

Ralph McGill, Editor of the Atlanta Constitution, discusses the legal fight by the State of Georgia to revoke the charter of the Columbians, Inc., the Klan-like organization bent on world control, and to prosecute its founding members for conspiracy to riot and taking on the role of law enforcement officers without lawful authority, charges which would be brought the following week by the State Attorney General.

He begins by saying that there were always those who would favor a "hush-hush" attitude with regard to crackpots, that the less said about them, the better. While sometimes true, in the particular case of the Columbians, it was best to fire with both barrels when there was something at which to aim.

"To fight them you have got to get in their gutter and fight with some of their weapons. Including mud, if they use it. You've got to be highly impolite and you have got to know something about them. You've got to call names and know something of their records. The pleasant fact is they always have records."

He stresses that one could not afford to be afraid of them and their smear and terrorization tactics.

High school classmates of Emory Burke, one of the founders to be prosecuted, had been, even in high school, an admirer of both Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler, and their terrorizing tactics. He had worked in New York for a newspaper backed by German Nazis and had spoken in Madison Square Garden at a rally of American Bundists.

Homer Loomis, another of the founders of the Columbians, came from a wealthy family but had been a failure in school. His first wife had left him on their honeymoon after he forced her to sit in a darkened room and read to him a mystery story. His second wife said that he never worked, but sat around hating people on her money. He had told his children not to believe in the Bible or God.

Then he started the Columbians, charging $3 membership dues so that members could be indoctrinated to hate as he did.

It was not surprising, concludes Mr. McGill, that the members were leaving the organization, just as the first two wives of Mr. Loomis had left him. "They couldn't take it, either."

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