The Charlotte News

Thursday, December 26, 1946


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that in Pasadena, California, W. C. Fields had passed away on Christmas Day at age 66. He had been in a sanitarium for several months undergoing treatment for a liver ailment and the immediate cause of death was a dropsical condition. His birth name had been Claude William Dukinfield. He had started in show business as a juggler for the Ziegfield Follies, earning $5 per week.

It quotes him on his famous nose: "The Fields' nose was this size before I ever learned there was such delight in experimenting with spirits frumenti."

Nine years earlier, a doctor had sued him for a bill for $12,000. Mr. Fields counter-sued, claiming that the doctor's methods had retarded his recovery. The doctor claimed that the recovery had been complicated only by Mr. Fields consuming two quarts of whiskey per day. The comedian retorted that he never consumed that much alcohol and at present was a teetotaler. The doctor won his case, but the bill was reduced to $2,000—apparently accepting 33 1/3 proof from Mr. Fields that, during treatment, he had never consumed more than a Ball fruit jar's worth of a light fruit-flavored liqueur of amazing impotency, filled to the brim, in a given day, even if there were plenty of jam jars available.

Bob Hope, in his annual Christmas show the previous day, had aimed a barb at Mr. Fields, a common practice among comics, before he realized that he was already dead. Mr. Hope said that Mr. Fields always had enjoyed the good-natured ribbing and that he felt terrible about his death, that the world had lost a great comedian.

American occupation forces in Berlin had demanded a response from the French regarding reports that they had been stripping industries from their zone and transferring them to the Saar, around which the French had established a customs frontier. Specifically at issue was the Robert Bosch electrical parts plant, reported as moved from Southern Wuerttemberg to the Saar. The French had stated that it was a unilateral decision and not up to the Allied Control Authority. General Lucius Clay, deputy American military governor, rejected that conceptualization.

The French had sent 1,200 customs officers into the Saar the previous weekend, also drawing complaint from General Clay. The French claimed that the effort was designed to stem blackmarket operations to safeguard the region's food supply and shield its economy. The Germans, however, claimed it to be a move by the French at annexation of the Saar.

The Communist Party in France claimed that the Saar was dead anyway and that the Germans were stalling because of bad generators or broken fan belts, as the oil cooler, the tower, was still blocking the flow of air over the Third Jug.

Three Chinese airliners, carrying more than a hundred passengers from Chungking to Christmas parties in Shanghai, had cracked up in the fog, killing at least 85 persons. An American pilot was killed and another injured. One report also listed a second American pilot as killed. A fourth plane, carrying ten persons, was missing and also feared lost. One transport landed safely while eight of twelve turned back because of the fog.

An American wing flight surgeon of the U.S. Air Transport Command from Tokyo had nearly been overcome by fumes when he heroically entered the burning wreckage of one of the planes to search for survivors.

The death toll in traffic accidents totaled 213 during the holiday, from Christmas Eve through Christmas Day, as good weather throughout most of the country caused people to take to the roads. The figure exceeded the 150 deaths predicted by the National Safety Council. Another 48 persons died under non-natural circumstances. Five persons died in a single head-on collision in Norristown, Tenn. California accounted for 55 of the traffic deaths, while Illinois had 22. New York and Tennessee each registered 10.

The State Department had rejected the claim by the Russians that two Soviet citizens had been attacked in Shanghai by American military police on September 23. The department placed blame on the two Russians for starting an altercation. The complaint by the Soviet Embassy had been initiated on December 19.

Supporters of the bid of Herman Talmadge to succeed his deceased father, Eugene Talmadge, as Governor of Georgia began in earnest. The General Assembly would convene January 13 and would then vote on the successor to the Governor-elect who had died the previous Sunday. The other contender was the Lieutenant Governor-elect, M. E. Thompson.

First Daughter Margaret Truman would resume her voice studies in Washington during the winter, leading inexorably to the fulfillment of one of the Christmas wishes ascribed to the President by Drew Pearson on Christmas Eve, that is, a four-year subscription to Men's Wear.

In New York, it was reported that former Republican presidential nominee in 1940, Wendell Willkie, who had died in October, 1944, had left a gross estate valued at $850,000 and a net estate at $560,000, apparently the gross parts being the nets. Terrible thing.

In New York, the apartment of Moss Hart, playwright and theatrical producer, and his wife, the former Kitty Carlisle, had been ransacked by thieves who made off with $15,000 worth of jewelry, clothing, and Christmas gifts, including silverware. The couple had been in the country during the Christmas holiday.

In Hollywood, a man was bumped by his own car as he drove home in a borrowed vehicle. The driver was arrested on suspicion of grand theft.

Butter prices suddenly had dropped one to ten cents per pound, the largest drop in many years. The reason for the drop was that butter prices had been maintained artificially high to impact the January milk price to be paid producers, based on the price of the best of butter—at least, according to Alice or the Mad Hatter or the Mock Turtle or somebody on the other side of the looking glass. Probably, it actually had to do with the dropsy of prices generally.

Christmas had been dampened in Europe by food shortages and memories of the war, but it had still found its celebrants among the populace, as temperatures rose. England had its merriest Christmas in eight years, encouraged by King George's radio broadcast from a golden microphone, promising better times ahead—provided he would sell the microphone for which, presumably, he was paying.

American soldiers in Japan transmitted the Christmas spirit to the Japanese, who had more food available than in 1945.

An announcement came that 7,000 German prisoners from the Saar would be released in January. In Britain, German prisoners were permitted for the first time to leave the internment camps without escort. Some were invited into British homes while others wandered the streets looking at the bomb damage which Germany's planes had inflicted.

Holland printed maps of where to find the best ice skating in the country.

Ed Creach reports that it was Boxing Day in England and that it was quiet. The purpose of the holiday from work was to enable people to get over Christmas. All businesses were closed. Public transit crept along slowly if at all. Newspapers did not publish. Dogs did not bark—obviously, because of the pepper remaining quiet, too, the traditional source of all dog barking in England, so we've heard.

Boxing Day's name came from the old tradition of leaving boxes of Christmas goodies for the mailman, milkman, and others who provided service during the year. But the name had outlived the custom. The mailman would instead expect payment of two shillings by each customer prior to Christmas, so to be crossed off his list, remained home on Boxing Day.

The children would drag their parents to the pantomime, a Christmas stage story, half burlesque and half fairy tale.

In Scotland, the residents ignored both Christmas and Boxing Day, instead focused on New Year's Day. The residents of England would shortly begin to make their pilgrimage to Scotland after Boxing Day.

Obviously, in England, things have not changed in the many intervening years since 1946, and Boxing Day remains a quiet holiday.

In America, we traditionally use Boxing Day to eliminate log jams in the de-Nazification program.

We recalled, incidentally, this Boxing Day that we were not alone in the world among those ever to have had some degree of difficulty in reciting completely "The Night Before Christmas", and so we thought we would remind you of that. Those who did not catch it the first time around a decade ago might feel suddenly better about their own issues with the recitation of that particular poem.

On the editorial page, "In the Flurry of Forecasts" tells of three reports having been produced on the economic forecast. Robert Nathan had stated in his report for the CIO that wages could be raised 21 to 23 percent without the necessity of raising prices commensurately. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce report claimed that wages had risen at twice the rate of the rise in the cost of living between 1939 and 1946, thus suggesting no need for further wage increases. The Government's report prepared by the President's Council of Economic Advisers stated that the year would be prosperous, with only a temporary "dip" in prices, acting as a mechanism for readjustment.

The President had warned against another wave of strikes as potentially throwing the economy out of balance, ultimately hurting labor. His view tended to stress labor too much, as stubborn resistance from management to allow any concessions could produce a strike.

The CIO report was also reliant on the false premise that a rise in wages could be accomplished without a rise in prices, as the previous round of strikes had refuted.

The Chamber of Commerce report emphasized the period from 1939 to 1946, while the practical reality was that the average worker understood that the dollar bought less in 1946 than a year earlier. The worker thus was being asked to accept an effective pay cut when profits were predicted to reach an all-time high.

The editorial believes that 1947 would be prosperous, but it was a cautious prediction.

"Present from the Supreme Court" finds a positive reaffirmation of civil liberties in the Supreme Court decisions in the two Jehovah's Witnesses cases delivered Monday, reversing convictions for draft evasion for declarations of conscientious objector status, rejected by local draft boards. Both defendants had been sentenced to five years in prison.

While reversing, the opinions did not affirmatively address the underlying issue of whether the Witnesses enjoyed the right of conscientious objector status, finding only that the trial courts had improperly excluded evidence that the draft boards had acted erroneously. Evidence supporting conscientious objector status could not henceforth be excluded from any trial for draft evasion, at least when based on a recognized religious doctrine or belief, not, as in the rejected petition of the Socialist, a political or economic philosophy.

The case was a reminder that freedom could not be limited only to those with whom the general population agreed, that despite the Witnesses being a group which annoyed many people in the society, its members nevertheless enjoyed the same rights as any other citizens.

The decisions were particularly appropriate during the Christmas season, celebrating the birth of the martyr of a religious sect which was persecuted and despised as a religious minority in the early days of the church.

Well, why, within Christian doctrine, is the Sabbath on Sunday? The seventh day, of rest, after all, could have been Saturday or Friday, or, for that matter, Monday on the phone to Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday, or all at once in concert down by the riverside.

"The Case of the Spanked Corporal" tells of an Air Forces private and a WAC corporal obtaining a divorce on the ground that she had, according to the private, constantly pulled rank on him during the course of their marriage, ordering him to conduct menial chores around the house, while the corporal claimed insubordination when her husband argued with her about the relative merit of their respective campaign ribbons, leading to his spanking her, the final straw.

The editorial suggests that they might eventually get back together should he become a sergeant and she remain a corporal.

A piece from the Greensboro Daily News, titled "Dry Charlotte and the Demon", comments on the editorial in The News which had reported that dry Charlotte had twice the crime rate of its nearest competitor among wet counties. The piece finds the statistic remarkable and suggests that Charlotte try legal sale under the ABC system, if for no other reason, to dry up the pocketbooks of the racketeers.

Drew Pearson reports of a conversation between retiring Congressman Herman Koppleman and President Truman, in which he told the President that he did not see much hope in the coming Congress for any liberal immigration legislation, found the proposed 20 percent tax decrease across the board to be based on faulty logic, tending to be regressive in its structure. He suggested a graduated formula, 20 percent for the person earning less than $5,000 and five percent for those earning more.

The President responded that he favored instead raising exemptions to exempt heads of families making less than $5,000. But he also realized that the Republicans would not support such a plan.

The President was working on his State of the Union message.

A report prepared by the Agricultural Economics Bureau had been suppressed for two years by the Senate Small Business Committee through the efforts of California land interests. The study had been initiated in the summer of 1944 as Congressman Al Elliott of California sought to have repealed a law preventing ownership of more than 160 acres of U.S. reclamation land. The study compared two towns in the San Joaquin Valley, Arvin, primarily comprised of workers on large, industrialized farms, and Dinuba, made up mainly of small farmers.

Dinuba had two independent business establishments to every one in Arvin, retail trade 61 percent higher, and 20 percent more people supported by the same dollar volume of agricultural business. Moreover, Dinuba residents had a superior standard of living with better streets and services, more churches, greater participation in government, and two newspapers to the one in Arvin.

Senator Jim Murray of Montana wanted to publish the report and, despite difficulty in securing its release from the Department of Agriculture and in getting it past stubborn resistance among Republicans on the committee, he had finally succeeded.

Marquis Childs tells of the Republican strategy on labor legislation taking shape under the leadership of Senator Robert Taft of Ohio. Almost every member of Congress had his or her own particular view of what such a law ought entail, some favoring strict legislation which would practically abolish unions, while others wanted only small changes which would balance the power of management with that of the union.

Senator Taft and his fellow planners intended to push for quick passage of the previously vetoed Case bill, which provided, among other restrictions, for a mandatory cooling-off period before a strike could be called. Passage was expected early in the session. Another veto this time would likely not be sustained by the requisite two-thirds majority of each chamber. It was believed that it was therefore not likely that the President would enter a veto.

The Case bill, says Mr. Childs, would fulfill the Republican mandate from the election and thus subsequent legislation would likely not come soon. It might be that this bill would be the only labor legislation passed in the coming year.

The Taft-Hartley Act would be passed in June over the President's veto, a considerably more comprehensive statute that previously put forward under the Case bill. It would, for instance, outlaw the closed shop, as well as jurisdictional and wildcat strikes.

There was opposition in the new Republican majority to exercise of too much Government control over any facet of collective bargaining, including the placement of limitations on labor. Industry, meanwhile, opposed any form of compulsory arbitration. Thus, the new majority would seek to walk the line between curbing union power and maintaining a free collective bargaining process.

The President was planning to outline a strategy for legislation in his State of the Union message in January, but the signals would be called inevitably by the Republican majority led by Senator Taft.

Harold Ickes tells of each veteran having received the wish of "Godspeed" from President Truman upon being mustered out of service, plus the traditional "homing pigeon" to wear on his lapel. The latter seemed ironic to Mr. Ickes, given the lack of housing available for veterans.

He finds the gutting of housing regulations unfortunate and so, too, the appointment of Frank Creedon as the new Housing Expediter, replacing Wilson Wyatt, who had resigned. Mr. Creedon had held numerous positions in the Government since 1940, including working for the Army building program, being sub-director of the synthetic rubber production program, and then employed by an engineering company on the atom bomb project at Oak Ridge, Tennessee. He had also worked in the Office of War Mobilization, as deputy administrator of the War Assets Administration, and in the Civilian Production Administration.

While at the WAA, he signed the cost-plus-fixed-fee contract giving the George Fuller Construction Co. the power to dispose of war surplus property in a nine-month period, during which WAA would foot all costs of administration plus provide a $300,000 fee to Fuller.

General Littlejohn, head of WAA, did not like the contract and gave the cold shoulder thereafter to Mr. Creedon. Mr. Creedon then left the WAA and became deputy director of the CPA. While in the latter position, he determined, over the objection of Mr. Wyatt, that theaters, a liquor purveyor, a nightclub, and a burlesque theater enjoyed greater priority for receipt of building materials than did housing for veterans. Now, Mr. Creedon was the Housing Expediter.

He might prove valuable for his ability to be evasive in testimony, as he had been recently before the committee of Representative Roger Slaughter—defeated in the August primary by Enos Axtell with the aid of the James Pendergast machine in Kansas City, at the behest of President Truman, Mr. Axtell, nevertheless, losing to the Republican in the general election, Mr. Axtell and Mr. Slaughter not to be confused with the baseball player Enos Slaughter who scored the winning run for the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1946 World Series, making it from first to home in one fell-swoop, with the Supreme Court, led by Shoeless Bob Jackson, paying a visit to the President at the time of the winning inning, in the bottom of the eighth, which would have been former Senator Harold Burton of Ohio.

Mr. Creedon had frequently answered "no" or "I don't know", and in that role could prove of great use as a know-nothing.

A letter provides a poem set on Christmas morn, but, in the end, after waking from a dream, taking the point of view of a soldier fighting on the front.

It is, also, here.

A letter provides a copy of a letter sent to the Richmond Times-Dispatch commenting on the News reprinting on December 14 a Times-Dispatch piece on liquor, agreeing with a News editorial that legal sale of liquor would provide revenue while eliminating most of the bootlegging, a major source of crime.

He cites a case out of Anderson, S.C., in which a man had murdered someone after reportedly being on a two-week drinking bout. He advocates support for ridding the country of the curse of liquor.

Parenthetically, he confused his dates, saying that the reprinted Times-Dispatch article had appeared on December 7, the date of the tragic Winecoff Hotel fire in Atlanta, perhaps, in the mind of the writer, as another had written on December 21, being the result of cigarettes and liquor, given simply the name of the hotel, and thus and so...

A letter from the chairman and secretary of the Education Division of the State Employees' Association tells of its membership voting to approve the South Piedmont teachers' proposed salary hike of around 40 percent, rather than the 20 percent advocated by the North Carolina Education Association.

Incidentally, in the interest of fuller educational alignment, and we do not mean to be unduly picky, but sugarplums are not actually, in specie, a candy per se, but rather simply a type of small plum coated in a sugary sugar, as elucidated here, or they could enjoy the nomination as such even sans the sugar, simply as the particular type of plum. We have had some before, without all the sugar. They are very good. Buy some. Try some.


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