The Charlotte News

Saturday, December 17, 1949


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that in Moscow, the formation of a friendship pact between Communist China and Russia appeared certain after Chinese Communist leader Mao Tse-Tung arrived in Moscow the previous night, meeting with Prime Minister Stalin. The two countries were expected also to work out trade agreements. At the station upon his arrival, Mao said that he hoped the friendship between Russia and China for the previous 30 years would continue. The visit coincided with elaborate celebrations planned for the 70th birthday of Stalin the following Wednesday.

In Budapest, Hungarian police had arrested Israel Jacobson, director of the American Joint Distribution Committee in Hungary. There was no specification of the charges.

Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson and Secretary of State Acheson intended to ask Congress in 1950 to extend the peacetime draft for three more years as a necessary part of the defense effort against Communism.

The State Department formally warned American ships to avoid Shanghai, in the wake of two American ships having been attacked by the Chinese Nationalists for violating blockade lines around the Communist-held port. Despite condemnation by the State Department for those attacks, the Nationalists had not relented in their intention to maintain the blockade line and warned that future incursions by American ships would also result in attack.

Columnist Bruce Barton tells of coming out of college with the ambition to join a New York publishing firm, but as it was during a depression, only finding work as a timekeeper in a construction camp in western Montana, working 11 hours per day for $65 per month. As he was beginning to get a toehold in business by 1913, another depression appeared on the horizon, albeit cut short by the European war. He went into business in 1919 with two partners, just in time for the 1920-22 depression, followed by the Great Depression of 1929.

Once, during the summer of 1927 or 1928, he had been speaking with the owner of the Wall Street Journal at the time, C. W. Barron, who told him that Henry Ford's prediction of a hundred years of uninterrupted prosperity was faulty as the human race could not stand uninterrupted prosperity. When enjoying prosperity, people became careless, extravagant and vain, forgetting church and home, at which point the Almighty would always strike a blow for their becoming so cocky.

After reading many scholarly books on why depressions occurred, Mr. Barton concludes that Mr. Barron's advice made the most sense.

The CIO dropped six Communist-influenced unions, with a total membership of 300,000, from good standing in the organization, adding to two unions ousted the previous month, the United Electrical Workers and the Farm and Equipment Workers.

An official of the National Coal Association criticized the Truman Administration for not facing up to the problem of the coal shortage produced by the three-day work week called by John L. Lewis, after the President had announced the previous day that he would not invoke Taft-Hartley as there was no national emergency warranting it. He said that the Government had thereby left people freezing in their homes and was allowing factories to have to shut down.

In Hendersonville, N.C., on the prior Thursday night, a mother wounded herself and her baby with the same bullet. Both were still living, in extremely critical condition. The mother had shot herself in her abdomen with the intent to commit suicide, leaving a note. She was found conscious but incoherent. She apparently had not intended to wound the baby.

Now, if she recovers and the baby dies, she could be prosecuted for involuntary manslaughter and have a real reason to commit suicide.

The Wake Forest senior who was a murder suspect in the shooting death of another Wake Forest student, found dying in a car, remained at large after escaping police custody when detained at the scene. A posse and bloodhounds had been put on the trail but he was believed to have caught a Greyhound bus to Raleigh and then bought a ticket to Fayetteville, having been identified positively by the first bus driver. Police said that the student was an amateur hypnotist and played card tricks, might try to earn food money by the methods.

Tom Fesperman of The News urges that Charlotte's slums could be cleared away to make way for civic projects, all with Federal funding earmarked for the purpose. Similar redevelopment had taken place in Baltimore, Norfolk, Miami, and several other cities. But in North Carolina, the State General Assembly had refused to accept the Federal funding and so Charlotte was stymied in this attempt, at least until 1951 when the new Legislature would meet.

He promises to explain Monday what urban redevelopment was and how it could be accomplished through the Federal program.

In Hamlet, N.C., thieves stole from a car dealership a 500-lb. safe, containing $4,000 and several bottles of whiskey, and a 1947 blue, six-passenger De Soto with a missing speedometer, with which to haul away the safe. The dealership had been victimized by theft of brick and lumber during its construction the previous spring and no one had been caught. The Highway Patrol asked hunters to be on the lookout for the safe, perhaps disposed in the woods.

If you see the safe or the De Soto, do not approach. Both may be lethal.

There are only six shopping days left until Christmas.

On the editorial page, "First Things First" provides a breakdown of the Federal budget, finding 11.8 billion dollars of the 43.5 billion total devoted to running the Government, housing, farm subsidies, education and the like, while 31.7 billion went to purposes connected with defense, including foreign aid and repayment of the war debt, plus payment of veterans' benefits. Of the latter, 19.1 billion applied to defense and foreign aid, the only part of the defense budget which was susceptible to reduction. Yet doing so would be at a cost of compromise of national security.

The piece thus finds that the only practical way to cut the budget was in the domestic programs and the running of the Government, where the Hoover Commission economizing measures could have a substantial impact but not enough to make up the deficit of five to six billion dollars and produce a balanced budget.

It finds that the President's tax increases were both politically unfeasible in an election year and would be disastrous in any event to individuals and corporations—not bothering to explain its reasoning on the latter point.

So, naturally, it concludes that the President's "social schemes" of the "welfare state" he was creating could not be afforded—a familiar theme at The News, especially on Saturdays.

"There Is Time Yet" reprints a letter from W. Carey Dowd, Jr., former publisher of The News who had died the previous August, as to his original conceptualization of The Empty Stocking Fund to provide Christmas gifts for the indigent children and families of the city. He had said several years earlier that it was important that "no one—no child and no family of this community—may doubt the miracle of Christmas."

It urges giving to the Fund so that the purpose could again be fulfilled.

"Coal Dispute Lingers On" finds that the President's reluctance to resort to injunctive relief afforded under Taft-Hartley to end a labor dispute producing a "national emergency" to be a function of election-year politics, as the President was seeking to have Taft-Hartley repealed and did not wish to appear hypocritical. Moreover, he would not support the application of antitrust laws to labor unions, as urged by the Southern operators, though they hoped that Congress might enact such legislation on its own initiative.

Even Senator Frank Graham, consistently a friend to labor, had proposed extending the antitrust laws to encompass large, powerful labor unions.

The piece concludes that if a coal strike, as rumored, in response to the three-day workweek, ensued after Christmas, then the impetus might be supplied for Congressional action.

A piece from the Winston-Salem Journal, titled "What Is Wrong With It", tells of the North Carolina Republican chairman asserting that North Carolina Democrats should find nothing wrong with the coalition between Southern Democrats and Republicans as proposed by Senator John Bricker of Ohio. The N.C. Democrats were opposed to waste as were the Republicans.

But, the piece points out, many Southern Democrats belonged to the party, not because of the Civil War and Reconstruction, but rather because they were liberals at heart and not conservatives. They would not enter such a coalition because they believed that the GOP remained the party of big business interests, despite the "me-too" stances of the previous three national campaigns for the presidency of Wendell Willkie and Thomas Dewey. They had not forgotten what the Hoover Administration had done to the economy or what the Republicans had done to President Wilson and his Fourteen Points and the League of Nations—leading in tandem to World War II.

Thus, the fact that a Southern Democrat opposed waste, it concludes, was insufficient reason for that person to join Senator Bricker "in taking the country back to Harding and 'the Ohio gang.'"

Drew Pearson tells of the brush-up between the President and former Secretary of State James Byrnes, regarding the latter's seeming endorsement of states' rights and the Dixiecrats. The President had written to him that he now knew how Caesar felt, to which Mr. Byrnes had replied that he was not a Brutus and the President was not Caesar.

Returning to what he regarded as one of the worst problems in the society, tax fraud, he reveals that the Guarantee Finance Co. of Los Angeles, a front for a gambling syndicate, was engaging in tax fraud, a major clue to which had been found by Governor Earl Warren's California Crime Commission. The company had listed in its expenses on its return mysterious payments of $248,000 to one "Lopez" and $108,000 to "special". The theory was that it was for police protection in the case of "Lopez" and for numbers runners in the other case. The West Coast Treasury men prepared a case against the partners of the firm and went to Washington for approval. But then the case, which had appeared airtight, was dropped, the apparent result of wire-pulling by a former head of the international sweepstakes in Mexico City, linked to the gambling syndicate in Los Angeles. This individual, now with the FSA, having once been associated with Ed Flynn, Democratic political boss of the Bronx, denied to Mr. Pearson that he had given assistance to the syndicate when they sought it. Nevertheless, the case was dropped.

Marquis Childs tells of the Citizens Committee for the Hoover Report reorganization of government having applauded the efforts of Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson for economizing in the Defense Department, where he was hoping to save two billion dollars by reduction of staff by 116,000 civilian employees, with terminations still occurring.

Some of Mr. Johnson's friends and especially his enemies detracted from the effort, however, by suggesting that he was preparing for a run for the presidency in 1952. But if so, he was going about it the wrong way, for he was making enemies in the process and not seeming to heed the fact, despite being politically savvy. He had alienated especially the Navy and Marines in the cost-cutting efforts. His approach had more appeal to Republicans than to Democrats.

Mr. Childs concludes that it was hard to visualize Mr. Johnson as a popular leader of the Democrats in 1952, able to capture enough support to hope to win a general election, even if somehow he managed to turn the gears of enough of the political machinery to capture the nomination.

Robert C. Ruark, still in Los Angeles, tells of Alberto Morin, formerly of Puerto Rico, being a ribber who decided that in a city turned deadly serious, he would change his career to acting.

The rib required precise analysis of the target, to find the area of most vulnerability and then strike with the perfect rib in that direction. He had once, for instance, said that Nelson Eddy's wooden delivery represented lack of knowledge of the "clicknab" school of music, required for smooth delivery of his pitch. It infuriated Mr. Eddy, who had long been sensitive about his wind-up.

Mr. Morin scorned the efforts of ribber Vince Barnett who chose the too obvious vulnerability for scorn. Mr. Morin always aimed at the camouflaged areas. Posing as the chief of the French Surete, he once criticized J. Edgar Hoover at a Los Angeles party given in his honor for being too much of the old rubber-hose and torture school. The local police never forgave him for treading on their guilt complex regarding their means of extracting confessions. Mr. Hoover even directed Mr. Morin's arrest on a phony traffic charge, resulting in his spending a couple of hours in jail—all in good humor.

Posing as a photographer, he spent hours taking photographs of Claudette Colbert's legs with a camera filled with blank photo plates.

Mr. Morin had been decorated for his efforts in the OSS during the war, and received the French Legion D'Honneur for work behind the German lines with the French underground.

But he was no longer a ribber. He was now an actor because, he said: "Actors eat. Ribbers starve."

Tom Schlesinger of The News provides his weekly "Capital Roundup", telling of the December 18 premiere in Washington of the Christmas cantata, "Peace, A Christmas Symbol", by Lamar Stringfield and Marian Sims, both of Charlotte. It would be sung by the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church choirs accompanied by orchestra and organ. It was designed to compete with Bach's Christmas Oratorio and Handel's Messiah as a modern Christmas musical celebration. The idea had been formed by Charles Beaschler after consulting with Aaron Copland, Leonard Bernstein, Harry Wilson, and Geoffrey O'Hara to try to find the right composers. None of them had suggestions. Finally, after Mr. Stringfield was consulted, he volunteered as the composer for the music and asked writer Marian Sims to provide the textual setting, some of which the piece provides, expressed in the title.

Former Senator Robert Rice Reynolds was sending Christmas postcards around, advertising welcome to his North Carolina home.

A secretary of Senator Frank Graham had said that William B. Umstead would definitely contest for Senator Graham's seat in the spring special election primary. But it appeared more likely that he might be making some sort of deal whereby he would run for the governor's office in 1952—that which would take place. Mr. Umstead had been apppointed interim Senator by Governor Gregg Cherry to replace deceased Senator Josiah W. Bailey in late 1946 but lost in the 1948 primary to former Governor J. Melville Broughton, who then died in March, 1949, replaced as interim Senator by Mr. Graham.

Representative Hamilton Jones of Charlotte would forgo attendance of the Rice vs. UNC Cotton Bowl game in Dallas on New Year's Day, that he might attend the opening of Congress on January 3.

The North Carolina Society's Mistletoe Mingle Christmas dance would be held this night at the Shoreham Hotel in Washington. Be sure and be there.

A question for the electoral college: In any democratic nation, should the will of 79,000 voters in three states, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, the total margin of the Republican's victory in those electorally crucial states, trump the popular will across the nation of nearly 2.9 million voters, the margin of victory nationally for former Secretary of State Clinton? Another way of viewing the matter is that a half percent of the total votes cast in those three states would, if the putative electoral vote stands, triumph over a 2.1 percent margin nationally.

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