The Charlotte News

Friday, December 20, 1946


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the U.N. Atomic Energy Commission approved "in principle" the U.S. plan for control of atomic weapons, following withdrawal by Andrei Gromyko from the discussions, making it clear that Russia wanted a postponement of consideration of the proposal.

President Truman had called upon the Congress to adopt "universal training" as the best means of defense, as modern nations no longer depended strictly on their armies and navies. He had appointed a special commission to yield a report on the subject. He stressed that the word "military" was only a small part of his conception of universal training, that it entailed physical fitness as well as mental and moral fitness.

A report came from Greece that Yugoslav troops had been amassing for three weeks north of the border along the Vardar Valley, traditional invasion route to Greece. It likely was a Yugoslav response to the Greek complaint to the U.N. Security Council that Greece's northern neighbors, Yugoslavia, Albania, and Bulgaria, were aiding anti-Government guerillas. The Security Council had voted the previous night to send a team of inspectors to investigate the border problems.

Senator Theodore Bilbo denied to the Senate War Investigating Committee the previous day any knowledge of payments made to him by a doctor for the purpose of obtaining a narcotics permit for a man in Natchez. The Senator offered to open his private files to the committee, which was looking into his war contracts activities. He admitted receiving up to $1,500 from the doctor but denied that it had anything to do with the narcotics permit, rather was a contribution to the Baptist parsonage fund to establish a church on his private property. He could not, however, locate any record of that donation.

The allegation had arisen from Mr. Bilbo's former secretary, Edward Terry, whom the Senator had denounced the previous day as "Judas Iscariot".

Subject to change by the chairman, the committee stood in recess until December 30, the start of the last week of the 79th Congress.

In Traverse City, Mich., 29-year old convicted wife strangler, Eugene Nichols, was sentenced to twelve to fifteen years in prison, leaving the couple's five children without any parent, prompting a stern lecture from the judge.

Well, they did not have headphones in 1946.

In Washington, a man was executed for the March, 1945 slaying of a 50-year old woman with red hair. Efforts to win a stay of execution were denied by the Supreme Court, as the man's lawyers sought to claim that he suffered from paranoiac delusions brought on by alcoholism, negating the malice aforethought required for murder or at least mitigating the first degree murder to second degree. He had also been questioned in regard to the deaths of two other red-haired women, one in New Orleans and the other in Chicago.

A report from London states that there would be little Christmas cheer for the destitute of Europe, as many remained without sufficient food or shelter. For others, whose pocketbooks were not ailing, it would be a day of traditional festivity. The markets of the major cities of the Continent were bulging with luxury items at high prices, beyond the reach of the average wage earner.

Silver-wrapped pate de foie gras went for $9 to $14 per pound; turkeys and geese, at up to $30 per pound; and champagne at prices unstated. Christmas trees were plentiful. Flowers were abundant but costly. Special Christmas shows were being presented in the clubs and restaurants.

Rome was such a city with plentiful luxury items in the stores but a populace possessed of barely enough to eat. Toys were those unsold from the previous year, but at higher prices. Those with lire to spend were unloading the money before it was devalued.

In Holland, a scarcity of fuel had left shops dark. Even the unrationed potatoes, game, fish and vegetables were more expensive than prior to the war, with turkeys going for $2 per pound.

Christmas in Germany would be a little merrier than in 1945, thanks to the occupation forces, as food was more available, though toys were still scarce. The Russian occupation forces were distributing 900,000 bottles of German—something or another, presumably wine or champagne or beer, as the answer, friend, is on the inside page. If you must know the what of everything, you know where to go for more on the "Dreary Yule". We shall not be your library mule.

Dividends and bonuses paid by Charlotte banks to stockholders amounted to $250,000.

Rain was predicted to fall in Charlotte, but probably not turning to ice.

Katherine Lawrence of Chester, England, provides the fifth installment of her six-part series communicating impressions of her three-week visit thus far in Charlotte with her brother. She thought the city appeared as "an architect's dream of garden-city planning", compared to the twisting streets, lined with long row-houses, to which she was accustomed in England.

She was able freely and easily to navigate the city on her own once the basic wheel-and-spoke layout had been explained to her.

Well, that used to be the case. But we can impart that times have changed since 1946 with respect to Charlotte's streets. We can report that we spent a very dreary New Year's Eve, for instance, a few years ago, lost in Charlotte in the cold torrential rain, threatening to turn to ice, and it was not even Easter time, too. Though we had been to Charlotte many times since our youth, we found it nearly a foreign nation in sound, appearance, and navigability. Despite several efforts within the context of the manifold foreign dialects spoken there now, we tried to acquire directions to the point to which we were headed, without success, finally, after four hours, giving up. Perhaps, they thought we were asking for directions to "the border" or "boarders" who had been "mauled". But that was 1994, not 1946.

She waltzed by the courthouse, finding its size majestic and imposing; said a bystander, needed for the level of crime extant in the community. She thought it required a Solomon as a judge to sort out the "sad tale of lies" which danced as sugar plums before her eyes; but concluded that as they were of the same "human stuff" as all the people, were in need of pity—not so, we might correct, but rather dignity and justice, fair administration of justice, for all, each and equal, without obeisance to a king or queen, or their benches; thus to all a good night, something which the lady, perhaps a little bewitched, a little beset by wenches, might not have clearly understood in her tizzy, given her plight in the flight of life.

By the way, though they may still refer to it as the "Queen City", we do not have one. Nor do we want one. Grow up, and get used to it. Raspberry tart to your little white queenie, the cocker spaniel, in our household.

Ms. Lawrence attended for the first time a football game one evening, watching from a "grassy bank" the "wild men crouching over a chalk-line, apparently ready to murder one another at the word 'Go'."

After she had seen this jumbled morass of humanity scrambling for the ball, one fan had turned away, exclaiming, "Rotten game!" She wondered then what a good game would be like. She marveled at the notion of football by floodlit night and thought she might try to introduce it to England when she returned.

Whether her description stands as mute testimony to Andy Griffith, in 1946, a student at the University of North Carolina, having been a reader of The News, and thus Ms. Lawrence serving as inspiration for his subsequent presentation, "What It Was, Was Football", we leave for your imagination. Mayberry is not too far down the road from Charlotte and the students were probably home for Christmas by this time.

Christmas cards mailed during the weekend would still reach any point in the country by Christmas, provided they were sent by air mail. Keep it in mind.

A photograph appears of the spire of the Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, the yard of which provided the scene for the 1940 piece on the feeding of the squirrels, to which we linked you again yesterday.

We are still inquiring about the lost Empty Stocking Fund, without success. It could be that the Grinch came by and took it all away, or gave it to Mr. Bilbo for support of his parsonage. But maybe the little $1 boats survived. There is still plenty of time to conduct our investigation and find out what has happened.

On the editorial page, "Reorganization Could Be Scuttled" comments on the plan to reorganize the Congress, to streamline committees and rules, a plan for it having been brought about in the previous Congress through bi-partisan cooperation. Though newly authorized, there was now a danger that the new Congress would scuttle it before it could take effect. Most of the changes were in proposed new rules, not made statutorily mandatory, as in the case of the approved raise in Congressional salaries.

The proposal had reduced standing committees from 81 to 34 and changed the method of handling Federal funds under a budget, both of which changes could be pushed aside in the new Congress.

A private committee, whose membership included Time and Life publisher Henry Luce, had been formed to urge adoption of the changes and to go further, to eliminate the filibuster.

The poor record of the 79th Congress which had delivered no cohesive program, hopelessly mired in a mud-stuck tug of war between the New Deal and reaction, was the prime exhibit for the need to implement these changes.

"Faint Voice, Inside an Egg" tells of the commentary, with good humor, by E. B. White in The New Yorker, collected in The Wild Flag, anent the U.N. and, presently, the subject of its proposal for control of atomic weapons and multilateral disarmament. Mr. White had stated that it was a fool's game to seek a treaty on the subject as the piece of paper would do no more than the pieces of paper which had sought to avoid another world war after World War I.

What was needed, he believed, was the same thing which Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin had advocated, a surrender of sovereignty by nations to the U.N., to provide it with the enforcement mechanism to put down aggression with force before it had a chance to burgeon into a war.

He believed that the choice was between such a world government or mutual destruction.

Mr. White asserted that the U.N., in its first year of operation, while not making progress concretely toward world peace, had at least established its role as a world conscience and voice, even if faint, as with "a chick inside an egg." He was unsure, however, whether the chick could work its way out into the open.

"The High Cost of Football" tells of future Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, appointed by President Kennedy in 1962, then Major General Maxwell Taylor, at the time superintendent of West Point, laying the responsibility for college football having gotten out of control at the doorstep of the college presidents, that it was their responsibility to insure that the game was maintained in its proper perspective.

But, the piece notes, that Army was one of the biggest football mills in the country and so General Taylor was not the right person to be raising the criticism. Moreover, all of the students at West Point received free room and board, clothing, and tuition, plus guaranteed employment on graduation, hardly representative therefore of the other academic institutions.

The Academy thus had been able to lure talent from other institutions without trouble—its star in 1946, Heisman Trophy winner Doc Blanchard, for instance, having begun his collegiate career in 1942 at the University of North Carolina, albeit, in his case, first serving in the Army for a year, between 1943 and 1944, before securing his appointment to West Point.

Most college presidents, the piece believes, turned away from the subject because they did not think they could affect it. Some years earlier, Frank Porter Graham, president of UNC, had sought to clean up the game and the semi-professionalism among athletes in the Southern Conference, but had only added to the hypocrisy, the goal long since lost in the excitement over the new North Carolina star running back, Charlie Justice.

Colleges, to compete in the game, had to play professional players or cease to play at all. To standardize the game and openly permit payment of salaries to the athletes appeared the only way out of the dilemma, but it was unsavory to the colleges and universities.

Drew Pearson discusses the Gridiron Dinner and the faux pas committed by Senator-elect John W. Bricker of Ohio, haranguing the selected guests for 22 minutes, criticizing to his face the President, and suggesting that the new Congress investigate the Administration.

President Truman then had his opportunity for retort, which he had handled with aplomb and humor, deflecting the criticism, saying he knew, from his days as head of the War Investigating Committee, something about investigating himself, and invited the Republicans to investigate every Democratic Senator who had been elected in November, as, according to Republicans, they could not have possibly been elected save by some form of chicanery.

He said that he had sought to consult the Republican leadership, but there were so many present to consult.

Responding to Democratic Senator William Fulbright, who had been a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, and had suggested that the President resign in the wake of the election results, he said that he thought it a good idea to send young men to a land college in Ohio rather than to Oxford.

A piano player was presented who routinely hit bad notes, meant to be a gibe at the Administration and Mr. Truman's piano playing. He laughed heartily at every miscue.

Thomas Dewey had been present also and appeared to enjoy the dinner. Never caring for his 1944 running mate, former Governor Bricker, he was perhaps secretly delighted that in one fell stroke, Mr. Bricker had shot himself in the foot for the 1948 nomination.

Assistant Secretary of State William Benton had been deliberately frustrated by the Russians in his attempt to fly to Moscow, the Russians barring the flight because of claimed inclement weather, when it was subsequently determined that the weather was fine. Mr. Benton had been a prime advocate of attempting to lift the iron curtain and educate Russians, many of whom did not understand that Americans had participated in the war against Japan.

Marquis Childs discusses the battle between rising profits and rising wages. Robert Nathan Associates, Inc., had prepared a report at the behest of the CIO which indicated that for real wages to keep pace with wages of January, 1945, a 23 percent increase was necessary, and that it was possible without a commensurate rise in prices. But the report appeared as an oversimplification because it stressed only wages as a means to achieve purchasing power and creation of jobs. And while the second part of Mr. Nathan's premise might be proveable on paper, in reality, as recent experience with wage increases had demonstrated, greed played a major role in corporate desire for increasing profits, raising prices as costs rose.

Mr. Nathan had been a Government economic adviser who had encouraged the President to adopt a formula of 18 percent as the optimum rise in wages without prompting price rises, to resolve the strikes earlier in the year in the steel and automobile industries. That had only led to price increases, despite Mr. Nathan's assurance that they could be absorbed into existing profits. Mr. Nathan's own current figures showed a cost of living increase of 3.6 percent between January, 1945 and May, 1946, while by the end of 1946, it would reach 20 percent.

Prices had begun rising before price controls had been eliminated, with manufacturers no longer feeling constrained by war patriotism to keep prices low. So just how Mr. Nathan thought that prices could be maintained after a second round of wage increases was difficult to understand.

He had urged also responsible fiscal and tax policies to enable control and restraint on business—in other words providing a tax structure which created disincentives for large net profits after a certain point. It was also necessary to curb monopolies and the concentration of wealth. An overhaul of social security to widen its coverage so as to increase consumer demand among those who could least afford to participate in the market was also needed.

So while he had advocated more government planning and control of the economy, the electoral verdict of the late election had been to the contrary. Most controls were now eliminated, save in rents. CIO did not have the political power to compel the desired result, and without a reduction in net profits being likely at the 23 percent wage increase set as the goal, the economy might suffer throughout its structure, including negating the wage increases which labor would obtain.

A better solution for labor was to accept a compromise of a 12 to 13 percent increase in wages, which was generally accepted as a level placing little stress on prices.

Samuel Grafton indicates that with controls on housing largely removed, the veteran was now competing with everyone else in the society for housing. The President had suggested that the transposition of home owners and renters to more expensive housing would open up to the veterans less expensive housing left behind, thus leaving them to the same lot as the poor who moved into abandoned and decaying neighborhoods.

While Mr. Grafton finds the President's hope to be more in the vein of wishful thinking, it was significant as an indicator of the shift in domestic policy, from one of control to allowing the marketplace to determine the direction of the society, from an individual approach to an organic approach, "from the human to the statistical".

The bond, he suggests, between the individual and the Government was being broken. Price controls assured that "Mamie Jones" would pay eleven cents and no more for a box of cereal. Without controls, the matter was left to the market. Mrs. Jones was forgotten. The Government had adopted a program which might be termed one of "incidental benefits", benefits which were hypothetical. It was remindful of the Hoover Administration, which had left to laissez-faire the determination of the price of goods.

Such a policy was easy to perform statistically, leaving out individual human demands and needs. But "John Smith", the veteran, still needed a home.

A letter from the president of the Ohio WCTU responds to a piece reprinted in The News of November 19 from The Columbia Record, ascribing to her, via a quote originating from the United Press, the statement that prohibition was not for the WCTU, having been tried and failed. She says that she made no such statement and stood firm for prohibition.

The editors respond that they were happy to set the record straight.

A letter responds to an editorial of December 16, "Henry Wallace and the World", defending Mr. Wallace in his new role as editor of The New Republic as the only remaining voice which presented an alternative to the Democrat-Republican foreign policy, thus giving him an A for effort in that course.

The writer thinks instead that the A ought stand for Asininity. He thinks Mr. Wallace made no sense, making his arguments with the "pungency of a marshmallow". His advocacy for a world welfare program as a sine qua non for establishing world peace on a permanent basis was, according to the author, truistic gibberish. He recommends instead E. B. White or H. G. Wells as a more worthy tilter at windmills.

The editors refer the writer to their editorial this date on Mr. White, and then state that they had only meant to suggest that Mr. Wallace had a right to be heard, that his basic policy stance of internationalism was sound, even if fuzzily presented. But he did not deserve to be shut up or marginalized by painting him as a Red.

A letter writer wants to know why Charlotte merchants were not happy with a reasonable mark-up on items. He had found hose to cost $2 per pair. Recently, his friend had been shopping for hose and found them to cost $1.03 a pair, 51 gauge nylon, when ordered directly from the manufacturer.

Such exorbitant 100 percent markups as were present in Charlotte was no way to treat a man shopping for hose.


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