The Charlotte News

Saturday, November 26, 1949


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the U.S. Vice-Consul at Mukden, William Stokes, 26, had been arrested by the Chinese Communists the previous night for alleged spying. The State Department directed the Consul General at Peiping to deliver a strong protest of the action to the Chinese Communist Government. The action came just four days after the release of Consul General Angus Ward and four of his staff, held for a month on bogus assault charges against a Chinese employee of the consulate in Mukden.

France's National Assembly called on Western Europe to unite in a political and economic federation to include West Germany. It was the first such action by any European parliament, endorsing the 12-nation European Consultative Assembly meeting the previous summer, urging formation of a united Europe. The Assembly also approved the Western allies' plan for Germany, approved the previous day by the West German assembly, and admission of West Germany into the Consultative Assembly provided it would abide by the European Council's statutes, though not to the more powerful Committee of Foreign Ministers. It also voted to instruct the French Government to oppose the rebuilding of German's war industries, though approving suspension of the dismantling of 18 factories in Berlin as part of the Western allied plan.

In Berlin, Major General Maxwell Taylor—future chairman of the Joint Chiefs under President Kennedy, entering the position just before the start of the Cuban Missile Crisis—filed a strongly worded protest against the fatal shooting of an Air Force sergeant, John E. Staff, by a Russian sentry the previous night. General Taylor charged that the sentry committed an act of "senseless brutality", delivering the message to the Soviet commander in Berlin.

According to U.S. Army officials, the soldier had been joy-riding in an official Air Force car with two soldiers and a German girl in the British sector near Gatow airfield. They unwittingly crossed the border of the Russian sector of the city, were then stopped by a Russian soldier at an obscure checkpoint. At that point, the driver spun the car around and refused the sentry's order to halt, prompting the sentry to shoot through the back of the car, hitting the sergeant in the head. He later died at the R.A.F. hospital.

The President instructed Attorney General J. Howard McGrath to tighten security regarding the nation's atomic secrets and other national security information. He made the decision after conferring with the Attorney General and Senator Brien McMahon of Connecticut, chairman of the joint Atomic Energy Committee. A top official of the Government said that the final straw prompting the order was a November 1 television broadcast in which Senator Ed Johnson of Colorado, a member of the Committee, had, while asserting that there was too little atomic security, revealed that the U.S. had developed atomic weapons six times more powerful than the Nagasaki bomb of August 9, 1945 and was at work developing a bomb 1,000 times more powerful than that bomb, also was developing methods to detonate prematurely incoming enemy atomic weapons. Senator Johnson said that he had been stating only public information and in no way compromised security, denied that the President's order had anything to do with the New York broadcast.

The Government was growing increasingly concerned about the stability of Latin America since news came of the coup in Panama a week earlier. The State Department was delaying action on recognition of the new Panamanian government and had sharply criticized its methods of achieving power, through police seizure of the Government and ouster of the President, then the refusal by the national police chief to accept the decision of the Panamanian Supreme Court that the ousted President was the lawful holder of the office. The State Department said that Panama had automatically severed diplomatic relations because the U.S. Ambassador had been recognized by a Government no longer in power. The new President, the third in a week, Arnulfo Arias, had been a sharp critic of the U.S. The State Department was waiting to see how things sorted out before consulting with other Latin American governments regarding the situation, a routiine consultation under such circumstances.

In Panama City, the office of the U.S.-owned Panama Power & Light Co. was stoned.

In Winchester, Va., a secret conference was reported to have occurred the previous day between Government mediator Cyrus Ching, John L. Lewis and the Southern coal operators, in an effort to forestall renewal of the strike after the end of the three-week hiatus on November 30 and effect settlement of the dispute, primarily regarding contributions to the welfare and pensions fund. Mr. Lewis had been reportedly showing signs of willingness to extend the truce beyond Wednesday if the operators were willing to propose a new contract, the old one having expired July 1.

In London, Winston Churchill was recovering from a cold which had kept him indoors all week.

In New York, Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, tap dancer and actor, died at age 71 after a heart illness had confined him to bed in a hospital. He had told of once dreaming of being made a lord by the King of England as he stood at the foot of a flight of stairs and then danced up to receive his new title. That became the foundation for his stairway dance routine. He had been in show business since age 8, dancing for pennies in Washington beer halls while working as a stable boy. He later earned from two to four million dollars on Broadway and in Hollywood. But when he entered the hospital two weeks earlier, he had been nearly broke and friends were arranging a benefit for him at the time of his death. He had given a great amount of his money to charity and he liked to gamble, was an ace pool player. He had danced until his eyes had failed three months earlier. When reaching 60, he danced 60 blocks down Broadway. His most famous appearance in movies was alongside Shirley Temple in "The Little Colonel" in 1935, after which his co-star always addressed him as "Uncle Bill". He was to be buried on Monday in Brooklyn following his funeral.

In Washington, the National Interfraternity Conference recommended, by a vote of 36 to 3 with 19 abstentions, that Greek letter societies eliminate all barriers to membership based on race, religion or national origin. Student leaders of the council from New England and Big Ten schools had revived the issue after it had been tabled in the executive committee.

Bruce Barton tells of not liking the term "private enterprise" because "enterprise" was a short word for "business" and he disliked a long word when a short one would suffice. He also disliked the use of the word "private" in connection with business, conveying in combination the image of a big man shut away behind a desk in a paneled office, refusing to allow government or labor to say anything about his business. Mr. Barton prefers "the system of hustle and hope" to describe it. It allowed for hustle and the notion that every American boy could grow up to be President.

He understood why under the British Labor Party system of socialization of industries there was no incentive to work, fulfilling the advice of one of his college economics professors some years earlier. But England had been in a process of economic decay since before the turn of the century, as noted by Brooks Adams in 1900 in his America's Economic Supremacy, within a prophetic chapter titled "The Decay of England". Since the turn of the century, England had found it increasingly difficult to compete for trade with the U.S. in world markets and so would have been in trouble even without the complications brought on by the world wars. But now, he concludes, it had compounded those troubles by turning to socialism, the "death-knell of hustle and hope."

In Pittsburgh, two men robbed a Pittsburgh jeweler, forcing him and his wife to hand over $170 in cash and $150 from the safe, one of the men then holding their two daughters and a maid at gunpoint while his accomplice forced the jeweler outside, then directing the jeweler to drive him in one of his two cars to his jewelry store. The jeweler told him that one car was out of gas and that they must therefore use the other—in which he carried a loaded revolver for his protection. After the jeweler informed him of a night watchman at the store who would intercede, the gunman told him that he would kill the watchman if necessary. The jeweler then pulled over to the curb near the store, booted the gunman from the car, picked up his gun from the glove compartment and fired on the robber. He ran and the jeweler pursued, fired thrice more, apparently hitting the robber once. He then phoned police and a patrolman phoned the jeweler's home posing as a friend, talked to the other robber, who eventually became concerned and hung up, fled from the house into the hands of the police.

Also in Pittsburgh, the dead body of an unidentified 38-year old woman had been found in the East End outside the rear of a house across the street from her home. Physical evidence indicated that she had been raped after she had been slugged, according to witnesses, on the head with a beer bottle and carried away in a car by a strange man. A suspect with blood under his fingernails and on his shirt had been taken into custody at the scene for questioning. He claimed that he was injured in a fall. No charges had yet been filed.

In Towson, Md., Representative William Bolton of Maryland, while parking his car in his garage at home, was knocked down and robbed of his wallet by two black men. He was unhurt. The wallet contained no money but the men had overlooked $100 the Congressman was carrying in another pocket.

In Charlotte, a group of men from South Carolina announced plans to erect an eighteen-story building at S. Church and W. 3rd Streets, presently occupied by a used car lot. The occupants of the building were yet to be determined but Southern Bell Telephone was said to be interested in consolidating its scattered offices there. When completed, it would be the second highest structure in the city, replacing the Johnston Building in that position. The twenty-story Liberty Life Building, erected in 1926, was the tallest at the time. The new building would be air conditioned. You can go down 'ere and cool off of a summer's day. Maybe they gonna have marble floors in the lobby so's you can stretch out.

In Baltimore, the body of Gargantua the ape, a Ringling Brothers circus attraction for years, had been flown to the city for autopsy at Johns Hopkins Hospital after it had died in Miami the previous day. The autopsy was to determine whether the gorilla died of cancer or pneumonia. The big box containing the 550-pound body was the only cargo aboard the National Airlines plane. During the flight, according to the pilot and co-pilot, a coffee container had fallen from the ceiling of the plane, causing them both to jump nearly out of their seats.

Scary stuff.

In Gallipolis, O., a thousand children showed up to see Santa Claus parachute from an airplane into Public Square. But he miscalculated and wound up in the Ohio River. The kids screamed, "Santa Claus is drowning." Santa was rescued from the drink but was too cold to say anything, not even a "ho, ho, ho". He probably pulled his pin too early.

In Worcester, Mass., a horse tried to eat a parking meter.

Could you blame him?

On the editorial page, "New Rules for Prison Discipline" tells of the director of North Carolina's prisons trying to modernize the system by first limiting use of the punitive practice of handcuffing prisoners to bars of their cells in a spread-eagle posture. Present rules permitted the procedure for up to 50 hours and a superintendent had discretion to inflict the punishment as he saw fit without prior approval of the State Prisons Disciplinarian.

Earlier in the year, Superior Court Judge Susie Sharp—future State Supreme Court Justice and Chief Justice—in one of her first cases on the bench, had presided over the trial of a superintendent of the Richmond County Prison Camp accused of assault in the use of this punishment for more than two days continuously on a prisoner. After a jury had found him guilty, she fined him, gave him a suspended sentence to the roads and rebuked him for the practice, calling it "medieval", ordered him not to inflict the punishment again, found no escape from liability in the fact of the practice being within State rules, albeit providing some lenience in sentencing for the fact.

In its wake, Prisons Director J. B. Moore had issued new rules of conduct, limiting use of the practice beyond 24 continuous hours and preventing its imposition for minor offenses within the jail, to be considered by the State Highway Commission the following Monday. The reason, explained Mr. Moore, that the practice was not being banned completely was lack of money for solitary confinement facilities in 16 of 68 prison camps in the state. Still, the superintendents would not need first to seek State approval.

The piece urges that solitary confinement facilities should be made available at all the camps and that more careful screening of personnel should also take place to bring about a "civilized disciplinary system in the state prisons."

"The Angus Ward Incident" finds spurious the charge of five Republican Congressmen of the House Foreign Affairs Committee that the State Department had been guilty of a "spineless performance", losing face in the process, in having to appeal to 30 nations to put pressure on Communist China to release Consul General Angus Ward and four of his staff from custody.

Instead, State had taken a firm position in the matter from the outset at Mr. Ward's arrest October 24, displaying unusual patience in the meantime. The President had declared that recognition of the Communist Government would not be considered as long as he was held. The only alternative was either Naval blockade or direct force, either of which might have triggered a third world war, for, it assumes, the country was dealing with Moscow as much as Peking.

More face, it posits, would have been lost had the country bluffed and threatened and then backed down. The U.S. had maintained its dignity while achieving the release. "The mastiff does not gain prestige by snapping back at the poodle."

"Exit Mr. Lilienthal" tells of the resignation of Atomic Energy Commission chairman David Lilienthal because of low salaries for Federal officials and the "unconscionable manhandling of able executives by small-bore politicians". Some of the attacks on him had even borne the stamp of anti-Semitism.

One could disagree with Mr. Lilienthal's notions on public power while still admiring his administrative abilities. He had steered TVA before being AEC chairman and done so in a non-political manner despite the constant attack from his nemesis Senator Kenneth McKellar of Tennessee, who wanted to use TVA for dispensing patronage. As AEC chairman, he had kept the U.S. in the forefront in atomic energy development and Senator Bourke Hickenlooper's unsubstantiated charge of mismanagement against him had not dimmed his lustrous performance in the job.

It concludes that though he refused to conform to the standards of public servants which the public and politicians appeared to demand, Mr. Lilienthal had served as one of the finest public servants the country had ever had. Were the Government able to attract such men regularly to jobs, it concludes, the country would be better off.

A piece from the Greenville (S.C.) Piedmont, titled "Much at Stake in Oconee Case", discusses the News editorial on the murder of a black farmer by two white men after robbing him at gunpoint in his home in Oconee County. The piece had wondered aloud what a jury in South Carolina would do with a black victim and two white co-defendants accused of the murder. The case had made national news as well.

But the commentary, it suggests, had left out the fact that the people of Oconee County had banded together after news of the murder to aid law enforcement in catching the culprits, who were then promptly arrested in Charleston. A prompt inquest had then been held and they were held to answer before the grand jury. The "good people" of Oconee were outraged by the crime, it says, the more so because the victim was an elderly man, more vulnerable to attack than his white neighbors.

But, it cautions, the trial of the co-defendants also had to be fair and they had to be given the benefit of the doubt. They claimed self-defense, that the elderly man, unarmed, was approaching in a threatening way the defendant holding the shotgun when he shot it into the victim's groin. He then bled to death after the assailants had threatened his 14-year old live-in assistant with death if he left the house before dawn. The boy waited through the night until dawn and went to a neighbor's house to report the crime, but the man had died during the night.

It also cautions that if the lives and property of men such as the victim were not safe, then neither was the life and property of anyone else.

Drew Pearson tells of a debate a month earlier on the New York Herald Tribune forum between DNC committeewoman India Edwards and the presidents of the National Federation of Business & Professional Women's Clubs, Dr. Frances Scott, and the General Federation of Women's Clubs, Blair Buck. All three agreed in the end that it was good that Republican Margaret Chase Smith had been elected to the Senate from Maine, that more women should be in politics. Thus, what was expected to be a contentious debate turned into acquiescence.

Recently, Ms. Edwards wrote to both Dr. Scott and Ms. Buck that she hoped, given their statements that they had supported Senator Smith because of her being a woman rather than her positions on issues, that they would also lend their support to Democratic Congresswoman Helen Gahagan Douglas, running for the Senate from California in 1950.

Some 28,000 foreign students were studying in the U.S. in 1949, most sponsored by individual colleges or student groups. Most of the students were from non-Soviet nations, but some had come from the East European satellites. Hastings College in Nebraska was an example of a sponsoring institution. The exchange students there had toured Nebraska and kept the people in touch with occurrences abroad, combating the isolation which had taken root in the Midwest following World War I.

Supreme Court Justice Tom Clark, sitting in his first term on the Court, had faced a case during the week from his home state of Texas, involving a black man convicted of murder in Dallas, contending, according to the column, that the practice in Dallas of putting one black person on each jury was a violation of civil liberties, that the number should not be predetermined by quota as it constituted a deliberate pattern of discrimination. When the case, Cassell v. Texas—actually involving a claim of systematic exclusion of blacks from the grand jury selection process—was heard at oral argument, Justice Clark had asked questions which appeared helpful to the State Attorney General arguing the case for Texas. The case was eventually decided in 1950, 7 to 1 in favor of the petitioner, with the majority opinion delivered by Justice Stanley Reed, Justice Robert Jackson dissenting and Justice William O. Douglas not participating.

He notes that as Attorney General, Mr. Clark had been an advocate of civil liberties.

Walter Winchell's mother, 77, had fallen to her death from a window at Doctors Hospital in New York the previous Sunday after suffering a fainting spell. A safety catch had been installed afterward on all of the windows to prevent recurrence.

Harold Gibson, a labor leader of the International Association of Machinists, had beaten Seattle Teamsters boss Dave Beck, and a lot of the Teamsters rank-and-file were glad about it.

Tom Schlesinger of The News, in his weekly "Capital Roundup", tells of the Washington News reporting that a dispute had erupted between the trucking industry and a major railroad regarding illegal overloading of commercial vehicles. One of the leading violators was reported to be Associated Transport of Charlotte. The trucking industry had been trying to suggest that the major companies were not responsible for tearing up the roads by overloading their trucks, that rather it was the small, independent truckers. But an enforcement campaign in Maryland had shown otherwise, as Associated, the largest firm in the nation, had received the most fines, found in violation 30 times during the campaign, among seven firms fined more than 20 times. The head of Associated said, however, that he did not think it so bad since they ran the most trucks, with 3,000 trips per month through Maryland.

The Senate restaurant had stopped giving out coffee refills, with each refill now to cost a dime, the same as the first cup. The charge per cup also rose in the swanky restaurants of the city and the Senate Office Building cafeteria, from a nickel to a dime, though refills at the SOB would only be a nickel.

It was unlikely, for their differences in position on labor legislation, the minimum wage and power development, that North Carolina Senators Clyde Hoey and Frank Graham would cooperate in their campaigns for re-election in the spring. The campaigns were arduous and it was not certain how much Senator Graham could take if actively contested by an opponent such as William B. Umstead who might take the campaign to every corner of the state.

When Senator Graham sent out farm bulletins with the tag, "If we can be of further service to you, let us know," he received all manner of inquiries in response, from loan requests to questions about nursing sick horses and how to mend fences.

A Congressional secretary who was an excellent cabinetmaker on the side was busy making Christmas presents.

Marquis Childs, still in Paris, tells of the signs of recovery in France being everywhere since his visit two years earlier, largely the result of the Marshall Plan. But nearly every member of Congress passing through during the fall had made it plain that the aid would be cut in 1950, some making the statement with a threatening air, others with regret. The contemplated cuts were from 3.85 billion in 1949 to a billion in 1950, and most ERP administrators agreed the reduction would gut the program, reduce it to a handout, perhaps doing more harm than good.

He suggests therefore that a new program should be initiated to replace the Marshall Plan, with an approach which would recognize the realities of the midpoint of the five-year recovery program in Europe.

One of those realities was the effort to eliminate trade barriers, not proceeding very far to this point. Under prodding from the U.S., France and Italy were about to join Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg in a conference to discuss cutting of tariffs and improvement of trade practices, but, he notes, that conference should have occurred two years earlier.

Reforms of the economy in France had occurred too slowly, with hoarding of capital continuing, even if at a reduced rate, and the tax system continued to have inequities favoring the wealthy at the expense of the lower income groups.

Whether the American answer of economic integration would solve the problem of revitalizing the European economy completely remained to be seen. It was likely only a partial answer to re-establish a trade balance between Europe and the U.S., requiring in addition reduction of American tariffs, inevitably hurting some American manufacturers and workers. The billions going into the Marshall Plan, however, could be used to cushion the hurt as the American taxpayer in the long run would gain because European imports would result in lower prices for everyone, including the workers.

A letter writer finds the Charlotte Observer's warning of Armageddon imminent with Truman in the White House and Scott in the Governor's Mansion to be more than he could handle. He was switching his subscription to The News where he believed he would find more of the same, but cooked in a different way, though he hoped for improvement to both oven and cook.

He says that notwithstanding criticism in the press, Governor Scott's men were busy improving access to electricity and telephones in the rural areas of the state, as he had witnessed on his own farm, theretofore unchanged since his grandfather's day, but now having been approached to sell the right-of-way for an electrical line which he had done.

"Best to you always... and see what can be done to keep the country safe against 'Socialism', 'Statism', 'Welfare-ism', or whatever it is Charlotte editorial writers think is causing us to teeter on the edge of the abyss."

A letter writer comments on Thomas Hamilton, the new Grand Dragon of the Carolinas Klans, and the fact that Congress was spending thousands of dollars to investigate Communists while such men roamed with impunity about the land spreading division and hate. He hopes that Charlotte residents would not allow him to organize the Klan in the community and thereby harm the city's reputation.

But he also decries the editorial on the subject for lending voice and "ovation" to the efforts, urging the newspaper instead to fight such ideas.

The editors reply that they believed grand dragons of the Klan should be exposed to public view in news stories as surely as crime and slum conditions. They had not intended it as an "ovation". They add that the newspaper fought the Klan editorially on a regular basis.

A letter writer from Statesville sends a check to the newspaper to hand over to the Spastics Fund, as she did not know to whom to send it otherwise.

A letter writer from Norfolk, Va., tells of receiving from a New York book publisher a solicitation to publish in a book two of his previous letters to The News regarding FDR and FDR, Jr., both of whom he believes had entered politics to advance their own interests. He asserts that society was debased thereby, not enhanced. He was not interested, however, in having his two prior letters published in the book.

What was the name of the book, Nuts for Nuts' Sake?

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