Thursday, July 25, 1946

The Charlotte News

Thursday, July 25, 1946


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the Baker Test of the atomic bomb on Bikini Atoll had successfully occurred on schedule this date, Bikini time, the previous day at 4:30 p.m. Washington time, destroying the battleship Arkansas, the first to sink, and also sinking the stalwart carrier Saratoga, albeit taking seven hours for the latter to bite the dust. Five of six submarines in the lagoon also were sunk. The New York and the Japanese heavy battleship Nagato were both damaged, but not sunk, as was the carrier Independence. The ships remained too hot with radiation to approach initially after the blast.

Howard Blakeslee reports the sight he witnessed from ten miles away, viewing the target as a framed painting, describing the huge dome which formed as the bomb exploded from underwater. Its mushroom spread more than a mile wide and was comprised of a huge mass of white water.

Don Whitehead, viewing the explosion from a B-29, reports much the same spectacle of water and steam billowing above the point of detonation. The waters were roiling for about 30 minutes after the explosion. A shock wave emanated from the center of the area. The mushroom cloud drifted north and was dissipated by the winds, rising not so high as that of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs of August 6 and 9, 1945, and the first Bikini test of July 1.

Operation Crossroads was over, a scheduled third test being nixed by the President.

During the morning hours, the Senate had passed the final compromise OPA revival bill and it was expected that by late afternoon the President would let it be known at a press conference whether he would sign it. It was believed by unnamed White House officials that he would do so. The bill would immediately re-establish rent controls but not price controls on major food items until August 20. The bill had received support in its final form from Senator Robert Taft of Ohio, who had placed the complex cost-plus amendment in the original bill which had led to its rejection by the President.

A dilemma was suggested regarding the price of newsprint, most of which came from Canada, as it had risen by $6.80 per ton following expiration of price controls. Whether OPA would allow this price to stand or reduce the ceiling for purchase of newsprint by American newspapers to a rate below that figure remained to be determined.

The War Investigating Committee called Maj. General Alden Waitt to testify regarding his time as the courier for Representative Andrew May of Kentucky, carrying to General Eisenhower a plea for clemency for the son of Murray Garsson, along with his brother, the munitions manufacturers who were the focus of attention of the committee. General Eisenhower stated that he did not recall the plea for clemency and had been informed that it had never reached him. Captain Garsson had been court martialed in April, 1945 for willfully disobeying orders, but the court had recommended clemency. General Eisenhower accepted the recommendation. The Captain had refused to occupy an area which he determined to be "tactically unsound", a decision other officers supported in testimony.

Meanwhile, the Army released its report on the defective 4.2-in. mortar shells which had exploded improperly, killing American soldiers during the war. Some of these shells appeared manufactured by the Garsson combine.

In Flower Hill, N.Y., police were looking for a "starey-eyed" black man who had allegedly shot and killed a 52-year old woman and then raped and wounded her 26-year old daughter. "Allegedly", incidentally, we added.

In Chicago, William Heirens, 17, having already been adequately convicted in the press, was formally indicted for the murders of six-year old Suzanne Degnan, strangled on January 7, and former Navy WAVE Frances Brown, 33, stabbed and shot to death on December 10, 1945.

Whether there was any evidence at all in fact against the boy remains to this day quite debatable, the entire case for guilt having been brought into question by slimy interrogation methods employed by the police since the day following the Degnan murder, insistent as they were on finding a suspect and then pinning him under the label of guilt, relying then on public outrage to convict, rather than doing a proper police investigation of the murders.

North Carolina and Piedmont South Carolina textile mills announced an eight-cents per hour increase in their minimum wages, to 73 cents per hour, affecting 50,000 workers. All of the mills impacted by the raise were non-unionized.

While the report does not say it, the raise may have been an attempt by the mill owners to frustrate AFL and CIO organizing efforts begun in earnest a couple of months earlier.

On the editorial page, "Life in an Economic Colony" discusses the acquisition by J. P. Steven and Co. of 28 textile mills as part of its huge empire in New England and the South. While Southerners would still retain a major interest in the mills, control would pass to New York and New England. The move had extinguished for the time the hope that the South might become financially independent.

Integration of the industry would follow, causing many unpleasant side effects by freezing out the competition and thus assuring higher prices.

It hopes that it might be raising unnecessarily old ghosts, that the merger could prove an unmixed blessing for the South, despite its being suggestive of economic servitude of the South to the rest of the nation.

"Are Buyers Free to Strike?" finds effective price control over, with the new bill from Congress not allowing any efficient administration of controls. It was already too late to roll back prices to pre-July 1 levels without causing major problems in the economy. Consumers were being organized in some cases by unions and they might be able to bring down some prices as already had been the case with butter, albeit having been accomplished by unorganized consumers.

But a complete strike was only capable with respect to luxury items, not necessities such as food, as people had to eat. And so the effectiveness of such boycotts would be limited. It foresees therefore that any massive boycott would ultimately naturally come from rising prices, not voluntarily. It would occur only when war savings had been consumed.

There was nothing good about inflation and it had already cost the country an assured period of prosperity, thrown away in exchange for a few quick profits. The country might escape disaster but the cost of living would definitely rise.

"The Docket Is Current at Last" reports that when Superior Court adjourned the previous week, only 42 cases remained on the docket, the best shape in which the court had been within memory. The new Solicitor, Barry Whitener, had taken charge and not cut the usual corners in disposing of cases with nol prosses, except in appropriate instances. He had succeeded beyond expectations and deserved the thanks of the community.

Drew Pearson suggests that the War Investigating Committee investigate an "E" award given to General Tire and Rubber Co., which had hired Congressman Andrew May's nephew, relieving him, by way of an essential war job, from duty in the Army. The company had a contract with the Army to build rubber pontoon bags for support of temporary bridges. During inspection, employees pumped up the pontoons during the night to deceive Army inspectors into accepting them on the basis of maintenance of air pressure for 24 hours. Eventually, the deception was discovered, and employees disclosed that it had been deliberate. Nevertheless, the company received its "E" award, and even got a new contract at the facility where Mr. May's nephew was working. Engineers knowledgeable of the pontoon deception had opposed the award.

Mr. May was known to have pulled strings to obtain an "E" for Batavia Metal Products Co. and so it was conceivable that he had done the same in this case.

Traditional Democrats in Jackson County, Mo., were certain that President Truman's support of the Democratic candidate opposing Congressman Roger Slaughter in the primary and the opponent's further support from the CIO PAC assured Mr. Slaughter's primary victory, but also his defeat in the fall.

The President's brother, J. Vivian Truman, had selected a virtual unknown as the opponent of Mr. Slaughter.

Women's groups, especially one led by a Roosevelt-hater, were actively supporting Mr. Slaughter.

Mr. Slaughter would be defeated in the primary but his opponent would lose in the fall to Albert L. Reeves, Jr.

Marquis Childs reports that a group of liberals were requesting that the President hold another labor-management conference, similar to that held the previous fall, to stem what they predicted was another labor crisis about to begin. The group included University of North Carolina president and former War Labor Board member Frank Porter Graham, writer Stuart Chase, and industrial engineer Morris L. Cooke.

They warned in a statement to the President that with unionization so widespread, a whole city or even the whole nation could become paralyzed by a strike in a key industry. By the same token, management could paralyze industry by curtailing production in expectation of higher prices.

Mr. Childs concludes that if a conference could be held which would be broader in scope than that of the previous fall, considering prices, wages, and all circumstances of collective bargaining, a more salutary result might ensue.

Samuel Grafton discusses the belief that the atomic bomb might have already been superseded by germ sprays and radioactive gases, capable of killing without destroying property.

Another trend was an equally disturbing discussion of disarmament which always accompanied an armaments race, "just as thunder goes with lightning, and squeaking with new shoes."

The atomic energy commission was dealing only with the atomic bomb and thus was in rarefied air, while the Russians interpreted as a bid for world power the U.S. position to relinquish atomic control to an international commission without each member having veto power, as on the Security Council. The Russians felt that it might be better to wait a couple of years until they developed their own bomb.

Neither side of the debate, the West or Russia, appeared willing or eager to alter their entrenched positions as both sides would first need relinquish their mutual paranoia of each other.

A letter writer finds that the veterans should not be complaining about $22 per week jobs. Her husband had fought in World War I and he had worked everyday.

A letter writer responds to a previous letter criticizing Congress for not properly renewing price controls. This writer thinks it to have been a wise decision, eliminating the black market and the morass of bureaucratic machinery involved with OPA. He hopes that the country would never again have another person in the White House like FDR, and other such cheap politicians, who had placed the country in the mess.

He wants President Truman, Henry Wallace, Claude Pepper, and Alben Barkley to find a big hole in the biggest forest in the country.

He obviously wanted more Herbert Hoovers.

A letter writer states that she had read that Dr. James Monroe Smith of L.S.U., who had recently been released from prison after conviction of mail fraud and forgery, had acquired a job at a prep school for boys. She opines that he was not fit for any such position.

A letter writer charges the consumer paying high prices with responsibility for rising prices. They had no reason thus to complain.

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