Tuesday, April 2, 1946

The Charlotte News

Tuesday, April 2, 1946


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that a 40-foot tidal wave moved toward Alaska in the backwash of a series of 40 to 50 earthquakes, five of which were major, which left 93 dead, scores missing, and thousands homeless in an area stretching from the Aleutians to Hawaii and the California coast, most of the deaths having occurred in Hilo, Hawaii. The tidal wave was, however, subsiding and expected to do little damage. Ten to 100-foot waves hit Hawaii the day before at a speed of 400 to 500 miles per hour. No reports of damage to Naval facilities or loss of life of Navy personnel were received.

A report from Hilo stated that the death toll might have been in the thousands had the major wave struck two or three hours later during the morning business hours. Two smaller waves preceding the 20-foot third wave saved hundreds of lives as people ran for higher ground before the third wave hit. The first two waves had done little damage but the third moved two blocks deep into the warehouse district smashing buildings under its force along Kamchamcha Street. Entire buildings and their occupants were missing.

The Army and Navy stated that had there been early warning of the seismic disturbances by the Geodetic Survey, many lives could have been saved in Hawaii, as the seismic activity was recorded five hours before the tidal wave hit. A lieutenant commander of the Pacific district of the Geodetic Survey said, however, that no one was on duty at his office during the night and that the first he knew of the tidal wave was when it swept into his home.

Some moderate tidal wave activity struck the coast of Chile and a 30-foot wave hit Fernandez Island, from Robinson Crusoe, 600 miles off Valparaiso. No casualties were reported.

Ohio Senator Robert Taft angrily walked out of the Senate Labor Committee meeting after being threatened with ejection by the chairman, Senator James Murray of Montana, during a hearing on the legislation to establish a compulsory national health insurance plan. Senator Taft thought the bill the most socialistic in the history of the Congress and said so, interrupting Senator Murray commenting favorably on a Washington Post piece which had drawn attention to the claims that the measure was socialistic. Senator Taft then shouted down Senator Murray, vowing that he would introduce his own health bill. Senator Murray, after protesting the interruption, vociferated, "I want you to subside, to shut up or I'll have the officers called and put you out of this committee room." Senator Taft responded that the bill was a "propaganda measure".

It seems that there is nothing like national health care to get the blood of the average Republican boiling. This is a curious phenomenon, stretching over decades. Most Republicans do not like health care.

A Senate banking subcommittee agreed to restore the 600-million dollar subsidies in the housing bill, stripped by the House. The subsidies would encourage builders to construct low and medium-cost housing to meet the Administration's goal of 2.7 million new homes in the ensuing two years. The committee also voted to restore the new-house price ceiling to the bill.

Fifty Southern Democrats called upon party chairman Robert Hannegan to apologize for a comment published in the April issue of Democratic Digest, the monthly magazine of the women's division of the party. It also demanded a retraction of the statement, which was not attributed to Mr. Hannegan personally, and removal from the DNC of the person who was responsible for it. They were upset at his statement that a vote on February 7 for the Case labor bill, restricting the rights of labor by outlawing, among other things, the closed shop, was a "vote against the American people."

Ralph McGill of The Atlanta Constitution, in his first of five articles on Palestine, tells of his arrival in Jerusalem amid rain and hail, then traveling to Maale Hahamisha, named for five men ambushed and killed by Arabs in 1937, a rocky hill consisting of 180 acres used for farming of cherries, plums, apples and other fruits and vegetables.

He indicates that the hills of Palestine were not easily describable, except by poets.

Hal Boyle tells of the Allied observers of the Greek elections which had been held on Sunday, who wore a blue and white owl insignia on their shoulders which the observers called the "big eyed chicken". But the leftists who had boycotted the election described it as representing the foreign visitors who slept all day and stayed up all night. Most Greeks, however, welcomed the presence of the observers.

Chief complaint of the observers was the disparity between the pay of those who were civilians and those attached to military service, $15 versus $7 per day in expense allowance.

Some of the soldier personnel related stories of the Italian campaign during the war. One had it that two drunk American soldiers saw an Italian boy bootblack and one asked how much he would give for his more drunk companion. The boy said ten dollars which he then paid the soldier, took the other soldier to a park and stripped him bare, supposedly making $200 from the clothes on the black market.

Another anecdote concerned the scarcity of tires in Italy, such that American jeep drivers were afraid to stop at traffic lights. One Italian driver had stopped, jacked up the front wheel, looked up from his labors and saw a stranger hovering over him, took his wheel.

Apparently things had slowed in Greece after the election.

In Philadelphia, an undertaker, who died intestate, left an envelope containing $600 with a note that it belonged to God. The sum was ordered probated to his widow as it was not deemed a gift to a particular beneficiary.

In Hulbert, Oklahoma, two bank robbers were caught in a chilly creek after being chased from the bank in their getaway car by a school bus loaded with students and a lime spreader from a farm. The students had been to Muscogee to participate in a parade. The robbers took refuge in the creek, leaving only their noses above the water line, but State troopers saw them and opened fire, at which point they emerged. They had taken $35 in silver coins but passed up $28,000 in currency. Most of the coins were recovered.

The suspects were taken to Muscogee for questioning.

This vignette definitely suggests a movie script based on it, at least in the 1970's. The chase would need be extended over several states and involve the personal stories of each of the students on the school bus and the farmer on the lime spreader. It would also turn out that one of the bank robbers was the older brother of the most popular girl in school who is mortified, but reluctantly joins the chase after being convinced that it was the right thing to do.

At one point, the robbers take a hairpin curve and the school bus follows, encountering another vehicle mid-curve, forcing the bus off the road. The bus hangs precariously, its front wheels over a ravine, held only by its center of gravity, teeter-tottering with every slight movement of any passenger, until all the students get together and rock the bus backward onto the roadway by moving to the back of the bus. And they are on their way, thus supplying the metaphorical social commentary necessary to attract the reading audience.

We shall tentatively provide a working title: "We Take Our Trips on the School Bus and the Lime Spreader Down in Muscogee, Chasing the Bank Robbers Up Under The Creek, Like Oxford Historians in a Pinch Between Your Cheek and Gum".

On the editorial page, "The Settlement of Utility Strikes" comments on the exercise of executive power by Governor William Tuck of Virginia in drafting into the State militia the workers of the Virginia Electric Power Company to avoid a shutdown of services at the inception of the strike by the workers. The Richmond Times-Dispatch had criticized him for the action, stating that it was only technically legal and made the settlement of the strike harder, when the settlement discussions had already been scheduled before he took the action.

But, says the editorial, he was also due praise for decisive action at a critical juncture to prevent loss of electrical utilities in the state.

Since public utilities were often controlled by the state, there was no good reason not to allow the state to control public utility workers. In recent months, many states and communities had gone through such strikes with public utility workers. Methods of dealing with them had to be arranged as they went. But in all of the situations, major shutdowns of services had ensued.

That public officials had to resort to such drastic action as Governor Tuck took, indicated the need for legislation in this vital area of public necessity.

"George Stephens Was Also a Pioneer" celebrates the life of the business pioneer and developer of Charlotte's Myers and Piedmont Parks who had died in Asheville the day before at age 73. Mr. Stephens had also once co-owned The Charlotte Observer and was one of the principals in rebuilding Queens College at its present site.

He had been featured in the Fiftieth Anniversary Special Edition of The News in December, 1938, stating his interest in real estate development as a material influence in development of a city and the happiness of its people.

The spacious areas he had planned for the Myers Park neighborhood, it says, stood in stark contrast to the unplanned, congested sprawl of other areas which characterized the unplanned growth of the Twenties.

"Photographers, Sir, Are Also Gentlemen" recalls "The Front Page" by writers Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur, in which a night at the Cook County Courthouse in Chicago did not find any news photographers present. But the press photographer was supposed to be "a vulgar version of Hildy Johnsonómore alcoholic, more unscrupulous, more lecherous, and wearing his hat turned up in the front and down in the back." He was also supposed to be illiterate.

The piece calls attention to a decision by sports editor Ray Howe, having published too many photographs of golfers gazing down the fairway, posting their scores, or examining their putters, to obtain in their stead a completely relaxed tournament player from the Charlotte Open captured in still life. Photographer Don Martin was assigned the task.

Mr. Martin discovered golfer Chick Harbert snoozing in a chair in the Club Grill. But rather than hurriedly grabbing the shot and absconding, he politely sought the permission of the wife of Mr. Harbert to take the shot. She obliged, he waited until Mr. Harbert closed his mouth, took the photo and left.

While, it suggests, there might be another breed of press photographer abroad the land, The News proved by this incident that its photographers were gentlemen.

"Anybody who says they ain't is likely to get slugged with a flashgun."

A piece from the Belmont Banner, titled "Out of a 20-Year Rut?" compliments the new interim Solicitor of court, Basil Whitener, for the job he was reported to be doing since the death of 24-year veteran, John Carpenter, the object of continuing criticism and controversy during his tenure for failing to be tough enough in prosecution of crime.

Mr. Whitener, it remarks, while showing efficiency, was not hard-hearted.

It promised a change from the 20-year rut of criticism hurled against the Solicitor.

Drew Pearson indicates that now that the election of Juan Peron as President of Argentina had been finalized, the question would arise as to whether the State Department should recognize the country, which had supported the Axis during the war and only late in the matter declared war, but evidencing enough of an alliance to be invited to join the United Nations at San Francisco.

He publishes the agreement on which the latter invitation was premised, an agreement which had been approved by President Roosevelt before his death. Former Assistant Secretary of State for Latin American Affairs, Nelson Rockefeller, had informed Secretary of State Byrnes of the document's approval by the President but Mr. Byrnes had refused to believe of its existence until the document had finally been produced bearing the President's initials.

The agreement provided that Argentina would be recognized by the Pan-American Union of nations, including the United States, and that it would be invited into the United Nations, provided that it declared war on Germany and Japan, conformed to the principles of the Chapultepec Agreement signed in early 1945 at Mexico City and signed that agreement. The Chapultepec Agreement required that Argentina withdraw troops from its Brazilian and Chilean borders and agree to the appointment of a special committee by the Pan-American nations to investigate all Nazi activities in the Western hemisphere.

The President was on his way to the Yalta Conference in January, 1945 when he received the proposed agreement. Harry Hopkins opposed it; Admiral William Leahy, now chief of staff to President Truman, favored it. The President initialed his approval.

Mr. Pearson next reports that the appointment of former New York City Mayor Fiorello La Guardia to be the new head of UNRRA, replacing resigning Herbert Lehman, former Governor of New York, had provoked the quip by delegates of the hungry nations that they had asked for wheat and were being sent a "little flower".

Some UNRRA delegates had sought to have Winston Churchill voted into the position, but the Russians had balked. When told that he was half British and half American, the Russians had replied that they would take him therefore in halves.

A million Jews in Europe were still being fed on the basis that they were enemies, "rather a tough sequel to the five years they suffered under Hitler."

Samuel Grafton tells of the glimpses available of the Security Council in action. The New York Times had sought to suggest that there was no choice available in hearing the Iranian issue, but thus posed, says Mr. Grafton, suggested a choice "between dying and dying". How much confidence, he asks, could be placed in an organization which had deadlocked on its first major issue, with Andrei Gromyko walking out.

The Times had called for skilled diplomacy and the fact of that exhortation suggested that the mechanics of the U.N. Charter were not enough to save the world.

A few days earlier the newspaper had stated that the firm stand of the United States had forced Russia to back down and so it appeared to contradict its latest stance, that diplomacy was needed, rather than a firm stand.

Neither approach, he suggests, could preserve the peace, but only a point of view. Within the Council, a contest persisted between the West and Russia, with Russia able to trump any final decision supported by a majority with its unilateral veto. The issue was not which side was right but how the sides could be compromised to reach peaceful accord. Taking stances on one side or the other was to spoil the hope for peace.

The art which was needed at the U.N. was that of compromise, "to reduce the weapons of Western majority and Russian veto to the level of historical interest only, by resolute disuse; to withhold final judgments and summings-up."

The generation, he concludes, was one of transition, "not fated to deal in last words on any subject."

Marquis Childs views the State Department report on atomic energy to be a ray of light in an otherwise dark and dismal political and diplomatic atmosphere since August 6 when the Hiroshima bomb was dropped. The report, under the auspices of Undersecretary of State Dean Acheson and signed by Dr. Vannevar Bush, General Leslie Groves, Dr. James B. Conant, and John J. McCloy, was intended, by its expressed terms, only as a starting point for plans to exert control over atomic energy. It proposed an international Atomic Authority which would control all "dangerous" phases of atomic operation, including the mining of uranium. Non-dangerous operations, such as development of atomic energy for power production, would be left to the individual nations.

The proposed agreement would necessitate that the United States relinquish only a small part of its exclusive atomic knowledge, which, at most, would afford a nation a year of additional time in the development of atomic weapons should one withdraw from the agreement. It would not alter American stockpiles of uranium or other fissionable materials or its bombs or operating plants.

But already there were efforts to negate the report's proposals from a person presuming to speak for Senator Arthur Vandenberg of Michigan, who was putting forth an alternative plan.

Mr. Childs concludes by telling of the brown rats of Norway, lemmings, which, for no known reason, from time to time, swam into the sea and died. He suggests that man might possess the same instinct for death, Megadeath.

"The two paths are so clear, the signposts so plain."

A letter asks the reader to determine whether he was agreeing or not with the editorial of March 26 on the victory of the Drys in Rockingham County. He opposed legal sale of whisky, but believed the private individual had the same right to make and sell liquor as the State and Federal Government, that those favoring control did so for selfish reasons.

He advocates election of men to the Legislature who would make liquor illegal and then place honest men in law enforcement who would enforce the law. It was either harmful or not. If not, then place it everywhere, even in churches. If so, outlaw it.

"Now, the question is, which had you rather be bitten by, a bootleg or a 'legalized' rattlesnake? Take your choice."

A letter from an ex-service man tells of his having read the editorial page with keen interest since his discharge and return to Charlotte, something he had never done before entering service.

He wonders why the citizens could not understand the benefits of legal sale of liquor as shown by the experience in Virginia, where, based on his personal experience in both Charlotte and Richmond schools, the schools were superior to those of North Carolina.

He thanks the newspaper for the Burke Davis series of articles on the topic and its editorials.

A letter writer states that she was appalled when she discovered that she was feeding Grade C milk to her children, milk labeled Grade A. The milk would go sour unless used within 24 hours.

The correspondent from Warminster, Pa., writes a letter again, this time to an unnamed Senator, asking whether the Senator was prepared to have his policy-making role usurped by the military with regard to atomic energy, comparing that form of government to that of Franco.

She misunderstood, as many had, the role of the proposed military board which would stand behind the civilian commission. It would only have the power to go to the President in the event of disagreement with an action by the commission, and then the President would have the final say. Some critics of the proposal had, however, suggested that it would place a great onus on the President, that it would be difficult for the President to disagree with his military advisers, especially if supported by the chiefs of staff.

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