Thursday, May 9, 1946

The Charlotte News

Thursday, May 9, 1946


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that President Truman told reporters that ways of dealing with the coal strike, including seizure of the mines by the Government, were under consideration, as well as possible seizure of the railroads to avert a May 18 strike deadline. Mr. Truman stated that the ten-cent royalty being sought by UMW was likely a violation of the Wagner Act forbidding payments by management to a union—which would tend to favor one union over another and enable collusive activity between management and the union at the expense of workers' rights. The President distinguished a one percent pension fund payment through a payroll tax approved by the Wage Stabilization Board to the AFL Electrical Workers Union as not being a direct payment to the union, but rather via taxation.

The mine operators supported the President's position and added that they could legally contribute a payment to a welfare and health fund independently operated by some other entity than the union, such as the Red Cross.

CIO president Philip Murray told the Amalgamated Clothing Workers convention in Atlantic City that John L. Lewis had betrayed labor as surely as he had accused the unions, which had left CIO when Mr. Lewis was president, "of traitorous and treasonable action and ... that they sat by the side of the road and wept as the parade passed by because they were weak and not strong. A good deal of water has passed under the bridge since then and this man who accused the others of treason one day decided to take a seat by the side of the road and he wept and lamented. Perhaps he was weak."

Sidney Hillman of the CIO PAC also spoke, trying to mobilize the workers in support of defeat of a hundred reactionary Congressmen along with Governor Thomas Dewey of New York.

G.M. and Chrysler announced that they would suspend production of passenger cars within the ensuing ten days because of the rail embargo and the coal strike making parts unavailable. Ford had already announced such a move, its shutdown beginning the previous night. Some 215,000 G.M. employees, 110,000 Ford employees, and 10,000 Chrysler assembly line workers would be affected by the shutdowns. Production, which had reached over 67,000 units the previous week, was expected to drop by 50,000 units the following week.

The 115-day old Westinghouse strike was settled, providing an 18-cent per hour wage increase, a half cent below that finally sought, 25 cents an hour originally having been demanded. The settlement would permit 75,000 workers to return to the job after topping by two days the longevity of the G.M. strike, theretofore the longest since the end of the war.

The Senate approved a bill to extend the draft, set to expire May 15, until July 1. If the bill were to be approved by the House, then it would extend the President's authority to seize the coal mines for the sake of national security. Senate Majority Leader Alben Barkley, favoring the extension, had reminded the Senators of this fact prior to the vote.

The Senate also voted to table for the time being consideration of the 3.75 billion dollar loan to Britain.

The Department of Agriculture announced a rise in the price ceilings on grain to enable farmers to obtain more profits so that they would market the grain rather than using it as feed to fatten livestock, also being held from market in anticipation of higher prices; thus, the move would encourage also sending hogs and cattle to market sooner. The higher grain prices could lead to higher milk and dairy product prices, as well as prices of wheat and corn food products, such as flour, bread, bakery products, corn syrup, and corn sugar. No immediate price hikes were expected in meats, poultry, and eggs.

Herbert Morrison of the British Cabinet was set to meet with the President regarding food in Europe, concerned that famine would be conducive to the spread of Communism.

Speaking at the invitation of Dutch Queen Wilhelmina on the fifth anniversary of the German invasion of Holland, Winston Churchill told the Netherlands Parliament that he hoped the Western democracies might work together and suggested two United States of Europe, one Eastern and one Western, to unify the continent in a manner not known since the days of the Roman Empire. He found the aid of the United States during the war as the saving grace of Europe, but also criticized the United States for not having joined the League of Nations in 1921—at the behest of Congress as urged by President Harding—and argued that had it done so and had the League taken early action to halt German aggression, there would have been no need for World War II. He urged that, along with the bond developed between Britain and the United States, the twenty-year friendship pact with Russia would guarantee peace into the future.

In Naples, King Vittorio Emanuele and the Queen entered voluntary exile, abdicating the throne of Italy after 45 years. Prince Umberto, who had for some time been acting in the place of his father as head of the royal household, was expected to be crowned King Umberto II. Italians were set to vote on June 1 whether to continue the monarchy.

The armed forces issued new figures on combat dead during World War II, indicating a total of 295,867 with another 12,744 missing and 679,234 wounded, including some counted multiple times for each separate wounding incident. The Army suffered 229,338 dead; the Navy, 45,572 dead; the Marines, 20,237 dead; and the Coast Guard, 820 dead.

Daniel De Luce, substituting for Hal Boyle, reports from Berlin that Hermann Goering, based on his personal notebooks, had taken a million dollars per year in graft payments from German businesses. Some, such as a cigarette manufacturer, benefited from the payments, in that case having a twelve million dollar tax debt canceled in exchange for six million dollars in payments to Herr Goering. American officials had been told that he once blackmailed the Dutch into giving him fourteen million guilders. German aircraft and steel industries as well had to provide the payola.

In Cincinnati, a man, 49, left a suicide note for his wife and took sleeping pills, saying that he could not face being ousted from their apartment in the housing shortage, had not the strength to make the move.

Resultant of the coal strike, the Post Office Department ordered an embargo, with certain exceptions, on parcel post shipments weighing more than eleven pounds. The normal weight limit was 70 pounds.

On page 3-B, Dorothy Dix informs of her observation that elderly men were usually less cheerful than elderly women. Take your own poll in your household. But don't shoot the old man simply because he is grumpy sometimes. It may be that he resents the old women, some before their time, cackling about all down the rime, as if mocking him for his continued vitality and vivacity in the face of fallen arches.

On the editorial page, "Can We Eat Our Cake and Not Have It?" finds sympathy with the dialectic of the good Scots of the Mecklenburg Board of Commissioners for, on the one hand, decrying the left-leaning move in the country through time to reliance on Federal Government aid while, on the other, agreeing that more Federal funding would be requisite to maintenance of sufficient county welfare. While much of the argument had centered on the resistance to increased socialism, the Commissioners finally determined, based on an argument that if Mecklenburg did not accept the welfare payments, then they would go elsewhere, to send a letter to Washington calling for increased disbursements.

Chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee Robert Doughton of North Carolina championed welfare but also niggardliness when came it time to pony up the ante from the Federal Treasury, favoring local and state revenue to serve the purpose. His committee would largely determine the provisions of the 1946 Federal Welfare Act.

The piece suggests that since the receivers at the local level disliked the theory of welfare but supported the practice while those controlling the purse strings supported the theory but not payment for its fulfillment, it would be left for the citizens to sort out following the elections in the fall.

"A Mysterious, Macrocosmic Skunk" suggests that democracy could best be understood in terms of sewers, swimming pools, airports, and libraries, as they could be observed by the voter manifesting before their eyes after voting for them without need of intervening or supervening instruction as to their benefits or detriments.

Across the state, as in Charlotte, bond measures for special projects had largely failed, with the exception in High Point of approval of a new library. For the rest, such things appeared as luxuries which they could not presently afford.

The piece asks how, if the voters could not act with more than apathy, as displayed by the slight turnout, on concrete matters which directly affected them, they could be trusted to deal with the more abstract and difficult questions with which they were asked to grapple.

Resisting advice to give the people hell, a writer for the Salisbury Post had taken the long view and expressed confidence that the people would not forsake the future, despite the gloomy prospects foreshadowed by the recent voting patterns. He had found the people "numb, frightened, uncertain, distrustful." But, the trend, he also believed, would, given time, pass. "Life—not merely in Salisbury but in all the United States—has been sprayed by some mysterious, macrocosmic skunk ... The American body politic stinks. Stand it and survive: retreat from it and perish."

The editorial wonders, however, how long the majority, having abandoned its virtue, could survive and whether the minority could grit its teeth long enough during the process of that determination.

"President Truman's Short Answers" comments on a paraphrased transcript of the President's recent press conference in which he groused at reporters, finding Mr. Truman's responses longer than the questions which had elicited them, indicative of impatience, perhaps annoyance. The President had stated, albeit accompanied by a smile, that it was none of the business of one reporter to have an answer to his question. On another occasion, he had stated petulantly that he could see at the White House whomever he wanted without explaining it to the press.

While press relations with Presidents often became rocky, even with FDR, who normally enjoyed good relations with the White House press corps, and reflected to a great degree the strain of the omnipresent duties of the office, the President's short and abrupt answers in this case also served to deprive the public of much needed responses regarding pressing issues.

President Truman had begun his tenure a year earlier by asking reporters and the public to pray for him; it would be salutary at the present for him to point out the troubles which were causing him stress rather than simply not responding to appropriate queries.

A piece from the New York World-Telegram, titled "Hush—She'll Be a Grandma Too", tells of artist James Montgomery Flagg—whose most lasting contribution to memory was the "I Want You" Uncle Sam posters of 1917, in propinquity with the contemporaneous British poster bearing the counterfeit of Lord Kitchener—finding bobbysoxers ruining the American tradition of beautiful women, adorning men's attire—indecent. Indeed.

The piece seeks to remind that people used to deplore display of undergarments during rug cutting, and brief skirts while dancing the Charleston. Before that, the problem lay in the the wasp waist. Men had constantly berated the dress fashions of women, which they eventually then came to admire.

As long as women maintained health, a sense of humor, patience, and grammar, along with the scattered tatters of the ephemera which adorned their forms, they would do fine and wedding bells would chime—"softening finally into a mood of singing about Grandma's sweet little Alice blue jeans."

But first

Drew Pearson, providing the third of his series of pieces on lobbying against OPA in Washington, tells of the efforts of the "nylon lobby"—so dubbed for its chief exponent, president of the Arkansas Power & Light Co., having arrived in Washington with nylons to cuittle the Tweedles of Congress—to block distribution of Government electric power in competition with that provided by private companies at the Norfolk and Denison dams along the Texas-Oklahoma border and in Arkansas.

It was not only nylons which were handed out to try to win support of members of Congress, but also such amenities as payment of club dues and entertainment bills from the public coffers for the executives of Oklahoma Gas & Electric.

But the most effective lobbying, he suggests, had been accomplished by Senators John Bankhead of Alabama and Elmer Thomas of Oklahoma, in support of the cotton lobby. They had opposed curbs on cotton while personally or through their families investing in it. Senator Harris did so through his wife and an investment firm on Beaver Street in New York.

This same firm had handled Father Coughlin's silver speculation as he campaigned on the radio for a return to the silver standard. The secretary of the anti-Semitic priest was the largest single holder of silver in the country.

Senator Thomas had likewise speculated on silver while trying to add a silver amendment to the work relief bill of 1935. Senator Thomas's purchases of cotton through the firm ran to four times the legal limit by virtue of purchasing pools.

Both Senators Bankhead and Thomas had made speeches criticizing OPA efforts to restrict the price of cotton at the same time when prices on cotton futures were high and fluctuating while active trading on their behalf was taking place. The Senators were plainly benefiting personally from their own floor efforts in debate. Mr. Pearson provides the details of the dates of their speeches in favor of the Pace cotton parity bill versus reactions in the cotton market. While it was not illegal to do so, the public had a right to know what was motivating the actions of members of Congress. It was the reason that Secretary of Agriculture Clinton Anderson had urged an investigation into the cotton futures market.

We shall have to wait, in patient titillated anticipation, for the satiate outcome, whether rubefacient or revealing hound-toothed supererogation, from the nylon lobby eclaircissement.

Bertram Benedict, substituting for Marquis Childs who had lost his mother and thus suspended his column for the remainder of the week, tells of the three steps undertaken to cure the housing crisis: making surplus military structures available for veterans; the two-year emergency housing legislation sponsored by Congressman Wright Patman of Texas, to provide 2.7 million units in 1946-47 and enabling the Housing Expediter Wilson Wyatt to channel building materials into low-cost units; and the Senate bill, not yet passed by the House, for a long-range housing program.

Mr. Benedict then goes on to explain in greater detail these actions. As they have been covered previously, we leave it to you to read the arcana from Byzantium.

Samuel Grafton, back in New York, tells of his 400-mile drive back up the coast from Manteo, N.C., finding roadside America appearing much as it had before the war, with few servicemen any longer hitching rides. He saw a great amount of roadbuilding and seaside shanties and cottages being constructed, but almost no year-round houses going up.

Shortages were sporadic and inconsequential, some not making any sense, such as white, uncolored margarine but no butter, no cream but plenty of ice cream.

Meat was plentiful, even if one roadside joint ran out of the charcoal with which to grill it.

Some prices were much the same as before the war, as hotel rooms, which could still be had for $2.50. But a good breakfast at the same establishment would cost two-thirds the rate of the room.

Roadside concessions had returned, with men and women selling live rabbits, either for pets or dressed for satiation of appetite, peaches, holly, eggs, and oak-leaf mold.

There were complaints along the roadside regarding jobs, too little help for good jobs, too few good jobs for the available help.

"At one rather good place two waitresses dance together to the juke box, while the patrons smile and wait; in a drug store a girl pulls sodas in a low-cut party dress, announcing to all present that her date is waiting. These are the last fillips of the war-time extravaganza: brave little repeats of a wild song already ended.

"And the road unwinds, and the route markers gleam, and it is as if the people were settled down beside the highway for a kind of wait. One can almost feel the attention of America retreating from the far places, and concentrating again on the local half-acre: and it is will you buy my oak-leaf mold, sir?: and men are meeting in Paris on grave questions, but this has become again a job for specialists, as remote from the highway stand as is the quartering moon.

"Last year this time there was a touch of the miraculous in the air, of full employment and a magical reconversion: but now it is, as I say, a kind of wait: a period in our affairs that is strangely fat, yet wears a curiously hungry look."

A letter from Inez Flow responds to a caption above her letter appearing May 6, which she found to be misleading: "More Drinking: Less Trouble". She had argued that ABC stores increase drinking rather than decrease it. She contends that the editors' note after her previous letter had nullified her thought.

The editors respond that the heading referred to the complete quote from the Durham County judge whom she had quoted accurately but inchoately, rather than Ms. Flow's argument. They add that if the note had nullified her thought by completing the incomplete quote of the judge, then her argument manifestly appeared as premised on weak foundations.

A letter from "A Shipmate" of a "guy from Cheraw, S.C.", with whom he had served aboard the U.S.S. Tennessee, suggests that the man's battle experience in the Pacific, including Pearl Harbor and twelve other major battles, would make him a reservoir of stories about the war.

A letter finds it better to blame the Wagner Act than John L. Lewis for the current coal strike, and suggests passage of the Case bill by the Senate, plus using the Big Inch pipeline for natural gas.

You can judge for yourself, but we could swear that we have seen somewhere before in a Herblock that lantern-jawed countenance and proboscis peeking out from underneath the Panamanian fedora of the man sitting on top of the lamppost in familiar attire, beneath the caption "The Lights Go Out Again"—only many years after 1946, and many times repeated, lithographically speaking. Perhaps, Herblock somehow psychically saw the proverbial handwriting on the wall, as surely as Samuel Grafton had.

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