The Charlotte News

Wednesday, December 18, 1946


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that William B. Umstead had been appointed by Governor Gregg Cherry to serve out the remaining two years of the Senate term of Josiah W. Bailey who had died Sunday at age 73. Mr. Umstead had served for three terms in Congress between 1933 and 1939, then retiring. At 51, he was considered an outstanding lawyer in Durham, was quiet and unassuming, liked to walk and, until three years earlier, play tennis.

As indicated, Mr. Umstead would lose his campaign for the Democratic nomination in 1948 to former Governor J. Melville Broughton. He would be elected Governor in 1952 but would die in November, 1954 at age 59.

Pete McKnight of The News reports that Mr. Umstead's appointment had created a new scramble for the gubernatorial nomination in 1948 as Mr. Umstead had been considered the party's choice for the position. Wilkins Horton of Pittsboro was throwing his hat in the ring. The other strong contender was considered to be State Treasurer Charles Johnson.

Nowhere is mentioned W. Kerr Scott, then State Commissioner of Agriculture, the eventual nominee and candidate elected as Governor in 1948.

Near Newberry, S.C., ten students were killed and eleven others were injured in an 8:00 a.m. school bus accident in which the bus had been struck by a Southern Railways passenger train. The driver had not been expecting the train as it was running two hours late at the time of the accident. The bus had been hit in the side and dragged a half mile down the tracks before coming to a rest.

Edward Terry, the former secretary to Senator Theodore Bilbo, testified to the War Investigating Committee that a war contractor who had managed Senator Bilbo's 1946 re-election campaign, had informed him the previous April that if Mr. Terry told what he knew of the Senator's dealings, he would be killed by two hirelings. The man subsequently recanted the statement, claiming that he had been lying, but Mr. Terry felt threatened nevertheless.

Mr. Terry identified $12,000 worth of war contractor contributions made to the construction of a parsonage on Mr. Bilbo's land. He also stated that "Santa Claus" had provided the keys to a $2,000 automobile for Mr. Bilbo at Christmas, 1941. He, himself, had loaned about $4,000 to the re-election campaign in 1940 and was repaid the money.

Congressman Robert Doughton, the outgoing House Ways & Means Committee chairman, said that henceforth he might have to commute by air from Washington to North Carolina as he had given up his apartment at the end of the session in August and had been unable to find new accommodations within the housing shortage in the nation's capital.

In Charlotte, the director of the Institute of Government in Chapel Hill, Albert Coates, was holding preliminary talks with Mayor Herbert Baxter and the chairman of the County Commissioners regarding the production of a comprehensive survey to determine the advisability of consolidating the City and County Governments of Charlotte and Mecklenburg.

Katherine Lawrence of Chester, England, provides the third installment of her six-part series setting forth her impressions of Charlotte gleaned thus far from her three-week visit with her brother. She had suddenly been called to take a bus ride to Norfolk and so, instead of her planned tour of Charlotte, had seen the North Carolina and Virginia countryside. Her senses had been overwhelmed by the rich colours of fall as she rode along, scenes which would always stick in her memory. She had never seen such vivid coloration in England and audibly had gasped at the passing whirl of skirling frames, all to the amusement of the driver and passengers of the bus.

Red was rarely to be seen in England in autumn, and then only for a few brief days. Beeches often populated the smaller coppices, the larger woods having been chopped away for the most part. The remaining trees remained green most of the year until they lost their leaves. Only a frost would bring out colours, and usually such variegation would dissipate quickly.

But she had missed seeing green fields, so common in England throughout the country.

The journey had been twelve hours of "sheer enchantment" through the polychromatic maze and she would remember it long after her memories of New York would fade.

The only thing we can say is that, while we share Ms. Lawrence's experience of the deep colors of fall in the shade, she hold her enthusiasm in check as it would be tempered measurably within another week or so, at Christmas and afterward through February. Then, she would see one of the drabber landscapes on the planet, as if by compensation for the bright colors of autumn, the trees having then to shed their embroidered beauty and become an invisible part of a dreary paean composed of harsh skeletal remains and bland red mud, interspersing which would be dull yellowish-white fields, appearing quite as cold and lifeless as they were. On a cold day, the land is then but tolerable. On a rainy one, hell incarnate. It only transforms again to recapitulate the quality of beauty and dream-like charm, out of an otherwise dull-pate's sketch book, when the coat of ermine, for a short time, comes to serve as a cover to the bleakness, the drained despair of fearing death in the bloody red mud of winter.

Pete McKnight of The News reports of a conversation by telephone with O. Max Gardner, just appointed Ambassador to Great Britain, replying to the musing story out of London that it supposed the new Ambassador would bring with him the mint julep, which it assumed erroneously to be the preferred drink of North Carolinians. Mr. Gardner laughed and stated that he had never mixed a julep in his life, had never tasted liquor until age 28, did not like it then, and had never known there was any form of whiskey other than North Carolina corn until he was 40. The former Governor assumed that the London press was having some fun with him and took it all in stride.

Freck Sproles and the Empty Stocking Fund seem to have disappeared this date, maybe with the little boy and his Radio Flyer ride, somewhere down the street, perhaps traversed across the tracks to the other side, where bestride, the hired coaly-black tarred freight yards and the misery of strained-to-stay shacks in the slipping sun behind the racks of engines laying their way north and south, floating weary through the guides of shamrocks fallen in the grounded fist that hit the lay and caused a fit in expectation of spring denied, some say, by coosome grit, a mocking-pie of lost enthusiasm for the lit slithers which penetrate from the office windows in the distance, no longer beckoning their insistence to come and see beneath them the displays, to him or her who find it hard to exist in that milieu which betides the needy passages amid squandered plenty hied thither in the daily dew to an earthen place, neither in pride nor disgrace, but lacking the sensate face which finds meaning from those in whom the simple gie endue.

On the editorial page, "William Umstead Gets the Nod" comments on former Congressman Umstead being tapped by Governor Cherry to serve the remaining two years of the term of deceased Senator Bailey. The appointment of Mr. Umstead was a foregone conclusion from the moment of Mr. Bailey's death.

While Mr. Umstead was qualified, the question remained as to whether he was the choice of the people, who had not in the least been consulted in the matter of his appointment. But tradition allowed the Governor to make the appointment, though he possessed the option of calling for a special election. There would likely therefore be no outcry against his having adopted that procedure.

Former Governor J. Melville Broughton had previously been considered the most likely Democratic nominee, and hence successor, for the Senate seat in 1948. The effect of the appointment of Mr. Umstead appeared to be that Mr. Broughton was being frozen out of the process by the Democratic organization in the state.

As we have indicated, Mr. Broughton would become the Democratic nominee and the next Senator in 1948, but would die two months after taking office in early 1949, succeeded by Dr. Frank Porter Graham, president of the University of North Carolina, appointed by then newly elected Governor Kerr Scott.

The piece finds the appointment to be a crude exercise in political horse-trading. But the electorate, by not reacting, continued apathetically to allow such tactics to transpire.

"Private Builders Have the Ball" comments on the extant housing shortage when the President no longer had any ongoing housing program. With the builders and contractors having won their goal of eliminating controls, they were now tempering their previous promises of construction of affordable housing.

One of the controls eliminated was the ceiling of $10,000 for the cost of a house, with the result that 80 percent of the people, practically all of the veterans, would be unable to afford houses.

Moreover, the rent controls on new units would allow builders to charge an average of $80 per month, well above the $45 per month which the average veteran, the primary seeker of rental housing, could afford. Most of the new rental construction would thus benefit only the top twenty percent of renters. Vacancies would, however, be produced when tenants moved out of their old units and into new ones. But that process would take time. Meanwhile, veterans would continue to lack housing.

The adjustment would only come when the bottom would fall out of the housing market, producing a major dent in the economy along with it. It was the hard way to do things.

"Another Turn in the Spiral" comments on the CIO and AFL determination to have another round of wage increases to keep pace with spiraling costs of living, thus to raise prices that much further, as it was doubtful manufacturers would absorb the increases. In industries where cost of labor was slight, prices would rise accordingly, all the day and all of the night; but where costs of labor were large, the rise in prices would be substantial.

Furthermore, a rise in wages in certain industries would ripple into others: higher wages for workers in steel, for instance, would lead to higher prices for automobiles.

The cost of living had risen since the elimination of price controls, but this rise was thought to be temporary until a rise in production, combined with buyer reluctance, would lead to a downward adjustment to prices, including coal.

The piece concludes that it was the "Season of the Lemmings."

Drew Pearson reports of the Senate Small Business Committee having uncovered the fact that small newspapers had been squeezed out of business by the newsprint monopoly and feather-bedding by unions, often charging twice to set the same type, once for a first edition and again for later editions, melting in toto the blocks, much of which could be re-used as set in the first edition. Chain grocery stores had also been found participating in monopolistic activities.

Senator Jim Murray of Montana had been the chair of the committee, and slowed down the investigation after the election produced a Republican majority for the new Congress, thus to produce new chairmen for the committees. It was uncertain whether Senator Kenneth Wherry of Nebraska or Senator George Wilson of Iowa, both elected at the same time, would become chair of this committee pursuant to seniority rules.

He next reports of the DNC having paid from its treasury $1,000 each to incumbent campaigns prior to the election, but that in Chicago, these payments had wound up in the county treasury, demanded by Mayor Ed Kelly. One incumbent had reluctantly acquiesced to the demand for the check and endorsed it over to the Kelly machine, then lost his seat in Congress.

Dr. Leo Szilard, a major contributor to the Manhattan Project, had been discussing nuclear energy with a group of Washington officials and related that a physicist with whom he had talked, who had not worked on the bomb, told him, in response to an inquiry, his ideas on how he thought the device had been produced. And it turned out that his conception resulted in a simpler method for making the bomb than the one which had been used in the original baking of the cake.

The President was going to inaugurate a new bi-partisan approach to executive appointments, in deference to the election results. He would confer with the new Majority Leader in the Senate, Wallace White of Maine, as well as Minority Leader Alben Barkley. For this reason, he intended to delay the appointment to several vacancies in the Government, including that of Solicitor General, until after the 80th Congress would convene in early January.

Marquis Childs relates that Republicans had discovered that prior to the election, the President had signed, in the wake of the Garsson brothers war contracts investigation, an executive order empowering the Senate War Investigating Committee to obtain the tax returns for any citizen during the years 1939 through 1945. Senator Owen Brewster of Maine would succeed Democratic Senator James Mead of New York as chairman of the committee in the 80th Congress. Senator Brewster would likely use this power to its utmost limits.

In the course of investigating the Garsson brothers combine and other war contracts cases, the Internal Revenue Bureau had found that check stubs revealed contributions to charities ten times that which they actually had been. Payments had been received by Government officials from strange sources. The result in one case was a recommendation that an official be prosecuted for fraud. But political pressure was brought to bear to permit the individual to pay the back taxes with penalties. It was believed that the case would be submitted to the Federal Grand Jury.

Boss Tom Pendergast of Kansas City had been sent to prison on charges of tax evasion and so whatever influence he had been able to muster had proved nugatory.

Companies had made their largest incomes in history during the period 1939-45, and so it was important to monitor the books maintained for these years to insure that the companies had reported honestly all of their income.

Harold Ickes discusses the moribund Canol Project, which had been fathered by General Brehon Somervell during the war to establish an oil pipeline in Alaska. Its cost had been 135 million dollars before it was finally halted, with no immediate usage in the postwar era. It had been estimated originally to cost only 25 million dollars.

General Somervell had also underestimated the cost of the Pentagon Building by several million dollars.

In 1943, after Japan had evacuated Kiska, it was recommended that the Canol Project was no longer necessary and ought be abandoned. But Secretary of War Henry Stimson had been advised by the Joint Chiefs to complete its construction and begin its operation. It was deemed thusly advisable so that Japan would not receive a signal of change in American policy with respect to the region. Its purpose therefore was to fool Japan. But the Japanese had been aware of what was occurring and so, in fact, no one was fooled by the ruse except the American press and, in consequence, the American people.

Mr. Ickes blames ultimately the Joint Chiefs for its recommendation that the project continue after its usefulness had disappeared with the Japanese pull-out.

A letter from Hugh Morton, president of the Linville Company, dedicated to conservation of Grandfather Mountain, owned by Mr. Morton's family for many years, responds to the letter of Saturday from an adviser to the National Park Service, who had sought to correct Mr. Morton's misimpression that he had called the company "villainous woodsmen".

Notwithstanding the effort at apology and correction by the correspondent, Mr. Morton continues to believe that his company had not been fairly portrayed by the publications being disseminated by the group to seek to raise money for the purchase of the mountain, those publications stating that contributions could save it from the "woodman's axe". It implied that the Linville Company otherwise intended to sell the mountain to lumber interests, which Mr. Morton insists was untrue.

He had found the National Park Service uncooperative in developing tourist trade for lands adjoining Grandfather Mountain, the only benefit the company could derive from selling the mountain to the Government at a lower price than could be had otherwise.

He concludes by saying that he viewed Burke Davis, who had written the article in The News which prompted the exchange of correspondence, as a close friend, and was sending his responsive letter to him, though he doubted the wisdom of putting the correspondence in the public press.

Mr. Davis, he relates, had given him his start in sports photography before the war, when Mr. Davis had been sports editor of the newspaperóbecoming Associate Editor in June, 1942 and then Editor in late December, 1942, temporarily replacing J. E. Dowd as he entered service in the Navy. Mr. Davis returned to being Associate Editor upon the return of Mr. Dowd in August, 1944, and then stepped down as Associate Editor in October, 1945 to become special features writer for the newspaper.

Well, we can only hope that adequate numbers of photographs of the basketball game played this night in Chapel Hill against the University of Texas were captured such that they might stand as a living memorial for our alma mater's team come March, to remind again that it is important not only to beat top 15 teams, but also the unranked opponents.

Yet, we do not dwell on the subject, as there have been three such quality victories, more than by any other team thus far in the country, against three three-point losses versus opponents considered weaker; and, certainly, the Spartans deserved, until tonight, every bit the ranking given their rival twelve miles away, which, despite having only one such quality victory in its stable, and, until tonight, virtually the same record otherwise, was ranked number eight while the Spartans were number 14. But that is also okay, as we are quite accustomed on occasion to such mistreatment vis-a-vis the rival organization, as it typically receives, among the mentally infirm and easily swayed, all the plaudits which it has yet properly to earn. We do not mind the oversight of the short-sighted one little bit. It is, after all, in the game of college basketball, March which everyone remembers, not November or December.

A letter writer responds to a "dry" letter on alcohol prohibition, saying that she had lived in large cities without prohibition and found the tendency to drink much less than in dry Mecklenburg, that if the prohibitionists would stop working effectively in cooperation with the bootlegger, there would be fewer drunks and disturbances, as the attractive taboo of liquor would be removed, making it less desirable.

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