The Charlotte News

Friday, December 23, 1949


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the State Department warned American ship captains that they could lose their licenses if they took their ships into Shanghai waters in violation of the Nationalist blockade of the Communist-held port. Following two attacks on American merchant ships, the Nationalists had warned that they would continue to attack any ship violating the blockade.

In Budapest, the Hungarian Government accused an American Jewish welfare worker of spying. It was the first official word on the matter after the man had been held incommunicado for a week following his arrest.

The President at a press conference reaffirmed his decision not to intervene in the coal dispute, despite the three-day week and the two-day week during the holidays threatening to exacerbate an already extant coal shortage.

The Associated Press writers named as their Man of the Year Federal Judge Harold R. Medina, presiding judge at the trial of the eleven top American Communists, resulting in convictions of all defendants. He had impressed the public and the press during the lengthy trial with his patience and restraint in the face of repeated interruptions of the proceedings by antics of the accused and their attorneys. The President was first in the special category of politics. Secretary of State Acheson was first in foreign affairs. Philip Murray led in labor; Henry Ford II, in industry; Vannevar Bush, in science; Thomas Merton, in literature; and Ezio Pinza, in entertainment.

Pope Pius XII urged in the coming Holy Year that all who believed in Jesus Christ form a solid front against the militant advance of atheism.

In New York, two railroad men were killed and six injured the previous night in a train wreck in which one trained slammed into the back of another during rush hour on the Long Island Railroad.

Near Savannah, Ga., an Air Force B-50 crashed in flames in a river marsh the previous night, killing all eleven aboard. The plane had just taken off from Chatham Air Force Base. Despite it being seven miles from Savannah and two miles from a major highway, the site was so inaccessible that it could only be reached by small boats, taking several hours for rescuers to arrive at the scene.

In Los Angeles, North American Aviation reported that the YF-86D had made its maiden test flight at Edwards Air Force Base and the plane's pilot, Joe Lynch, told of the plane being capable of doing everything which the F-86A Sabre, the fastest plane in the world, could do. The new plane had a more powerful jet engine and a new air intake duct under the nose.

In Russellville, Ky., a patient was shot and wounded in the head critically in his hospital bed the previous night and a soldier who had come to visit the patient was arrested as the alleged assailant. The two had talked in a friendly manner prior to the shooting. After the shooting, the soldier walked into the hallway and gave the gun to a nurse, waited for police. The man had been married on the previous Wednesday to a nurse at the hospital and the patient of the nurse had made a remark to the man about her which he did not like. The patient had suffered burns in an automobile accident.

Merry Christmas.

In Pineville, N.C., a man and his 19-year old daughter were seriously burned when a stove exploded at their home. Six other people in the home were not injured. The explosion was caused by the pouring of kerosene over a wood stove.

Don't you people read the newspapers?

In London, Scotland Yard said that a man who had committed suicide was believed to be a master jewel thief, including among his victims the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, robbed of $56,000 worth of jewels in 1946. Detectives had discovered 100,000 pounds worth of jewels and were searching for more. The man, known in London's underworld as "Society Bertie" or "Johnny the Gent", had been found shot to death in a hotel room with a walking stick hollowed out to conceal a gun beside him. He had friends within London's social set. But after being arrested the previous week as a jewel thief, the other side of his dual life had emerged. He was free on bail pending trial. He had described himself as a semi-retired dealer in precious stones. The jewels were found in hidden wall and floor recesses in his summer villa.

In Columbus, O., a man imprisoned since late November, 1948 by error had received an unconditional pardon from Governor Frank Lausche. He had been convicted by mistake of a grocery store robbery based on eyewitness identification. But another prisoner in Kentucky awaiting execution for the murder of a police officer had cleared the man by admitting to the robbery with an accomplice, wanted for another robbery in Ohio.

In Boston, 40 crewmen and two stewardesses escaped a burning Norwegian freighter which had carried crude rubber and tea from the Far East.

They probably tried to smoke the tea and burn the rubber.

The President departed this date for Independence, Mo., to spend Christmas. He would make a short radio address to the nation on Christmas Eve night. Be sure and tune in.

In Winston-Salem, the eleven-story Carolina Hotel and Theater building, constructed in 1929, was sold to a Chicago woman for more than a million dollars.

Elvis will be there performing as a largely still unknown act just six years out.

Thank ye very much.

In Hull, England, a groom and his bride went to a Methodist church to be married but the pastor found the safe jammed where he kept his marriage register. A locksmith could not open the safe either. Finally, it occurred to someone to use the Hull municipal register, which town officials provided by car. The couple were then married.

On the editorial page, "Urban Development" urges Charlotte and the other local urban communities across the state to band together to petition the 1951 Legislature to authorize receipt of Federal grant money for urban redevelopment of slums, a process described in a three-part front page series during the week by Tom Fesperman of The News. The 1949 Legislature had caved to the real estate lobby in opposing acceptance of the funding.

"One Blue Baby" tells of a case in Dunn, N.C., in which the Harnett County Welfare Department could not help a family with a 30-month old blue baby in need of a special operation. Several civic organizations had chipped in to collect money to pay for the operation to save the child's life.

But there were thousands of other children who needed such help and would not be able to get it.

The Harnett County Welfare superintendent had said that in the case of the little girl, welfare aid was denied as the child's parents were able-bodied and it was their responsibility, that it was a sound reason for supporting the President's compulsory health insurance program, that the AMA million-dollar war chest was aimed against a program which would have provided funds for the baby. The mother said that the family was barely able to buy groceries.

The piece suggests that the AMA would receive more public support if it could exert influence in a positive manner to remedy deficiencies in national health care which produced such situations.

"Factophiles" tells of the person who maintained certain arcane data on hand to impress his listener. The best answer when that person asked whether one knew such a particular fact, was simply to answer in the affirmative. But then the more determined factophile would respond by asking whether one knew yet another bit of esoterica.

Do you know which songs Elvis sang at the Carolina Theater on Thursday, February 16, 1956 at the 4:30, 7:00 and 9:00 p.m. shows? Probably "Heartbreak Hotel", wouldn't ye say? Maybe "Mystery Train" or "I Forgot to Remember to Forget", maybe the latter in special dedication to Winston-Salem and North Carolina generally. Do you know who was on the bill with him? Maybe the Blue Moon Boys and Justin Tubb, splashing around. Do you know who was on the screen at the time? Maybe Tennessee Ernie Ford, direct from San Francisco. Do you know how much it would cost for admission to the shows? Maybe 85 centavos for adults and 50 for children. Do you know what the weather was like that day?

We once or twice saw Elvis in there, right up on the screen. Tennessee Ernie though was not with him.

You can go to Morris Service afterward and grab yourself a nice coffee and a hamburger, a shake and some fries.

A piece from the Raleigh News & Observer, titled "Peas and Preferences", tells of the Army making a determination whether soldiers would eat black-eyed peas. The piece suggests that to get a fair test of the issue, the peas would need be served with cornbread, as peas without it were as a bath without water or artillery barrages with blank shells.

At that point, it proclaims, the answer of the soldiers would be "yes" to the wet bath and the loaded barrage.

Drew Pearson tells of General Leslie Groves initially being ready to agree with the Fulton Lewis expose of charges brought by former Major G. Racey Jordan that former Vice-President Henry Wallace and deceased FDR aide and adviser Harry Hopkins had sold the country down the river to the Russians during the war, by the simple expedient of claiming to Congress that confidentiality imposed on the Manhattan Project by executive order of FDR prevented him from answering the Committee's questions, leaving it to innuendo to suggest less than loyalty by Messrs. Wallace and Hopkins. But Congressman Francis Walter of Pennsylvania informed the General at the hearing that the Defense Department had rescinded the order and that he could testify. Hence, he was compelled to tell the truth, that neither Mr. Wallace nor Mr. Hopkins had done anything wrong or exerted any form of pressure on General Groves to supply information or materials to the Russians, that the Manhattan Project, after approval from the War Department and State Department, had approved the shipments of uranium products to Russia so as not to arouse suspicion with sudden prohibition of export of the commonly traded materials.

Vice-President Barkley had stepped into a Miami barber shop to get a haircut and was told that he could not sit in a designated chair as it was reserved for a very important person. It turned out that it was Walter Winchell.

Brazil, which supplied half the American coffee, normally only sold coffee on the market, but of late, in light of the speculation in coffee, was busy driving the price further upward by buying up coffee futures. Coffee was thus selling at 25 to 30 cents per pound more than it ought. Another factor contributing to the price rise was hoarding by consumers, fearing the groundless rumor of a shortage and yet higher prices.

Averell Harriman, head of ERP in Europe, had turned down the President's offer to become chairman of the National Security Resources Board.

The British Labor Party was concerned about the recent losses of Labor in Australia and New Zealand, affecting British foreign policy, making Britain an unpredictable ally.

Treasury Secretary John W. Snyder had warned the President that Britain was headed for another economic disaster, averted temporarily by the devaluation of the pound, meaning that devaluation had not worked. He said that a new loan of two billion dollars might be necessary to prop up the British economy.

Scientists at the National Bureau of Standards, in conjunction with the Navy, had developed an artificial form of mica, necessary in the manufacture of radio and radar equipment.

Marquis Childs discusses the need for economy to balance the budget, a determined goal of the President. To make up the five billion dollar deficit would necessarily entail cuts to the national defense and foreign aid. There was a danger in the latter that the momentum achieved by the positive U.S. foreign policy could be lost.

And there was a need for extension of the European policy to the Far East, to combat the extension of Communism into Asia, as well as the Middle East. It was considered likely that the President's "Point Four" program would be extended to India, Pakistan, and perhaps Iran in early 1950, consisting of large-scale loans to start new irrigation, hydroelectric and industrial projects. But right now, the decision was against such a program and the U.S. was looking to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to extend loans and adjust the British war debts owed these latter nations, plus Egypt.

Prime Minister Nehru's trip to Washington had generated good will and understanding, but it had not produced, as he had hoped, a quid pro quo, a commitment to the U.S. regarding China and Communism in exchange for commitments from the U.S. to India.

The Prime Minister of Pakistan was also coming to the U.S. in May at the invitation of the President and his trip was expected to be of the same nature.

The greatest cuts in foreign aid were thought to be possible in the administration of German occupation, pegged on the hope that the new West German Government of Chancellor Konrad Adenauer would pick up the slack. But that was a chancy proposition as the whole thing could collapse once U.S. financial support was reduced or withdrawn. Berlin was of special concern for its high unemployment.

He promises a subsequent column regarding cuts in the defense program.

Robert C. Ruark, still in San Francisco, discusses his intended trip with his wife to Hawaii and then to Australia and New Zealand. He had not been to Hawaii since being there with the Navy during the war. At that time, conditions were miserable. He would give the Territory another chance but at last report the longshoremen's strike had resulted in starvation and strife.

He hoped to convince his wife that Australia was staid and not the wild orgy which war wives were told was the reason the men in service liked it so well. But if his wife remained unconvinced of the mere academic nature of the interest, his mail might wind up having to be sent to Tahiti, as the "guy in the sarong and full beard" who met the boat would be him.

A piece reprinted from State Magazine seeks to find out whether "riding the fantastic", a phrase used by Senator Clyde Hoey to describe a tradition in his native Shelby of dressing in strange costumes on Christmas Eve and riding around on a horse cutting capers, extended beyond Cleveland County to other parts of the state. It finds that it did, albeit described by other names, such as "Riding Ragamuffin", and the Christmas Eve revelers known as "Kooner-Johns" or "Kooners" or "DQI's", the latter based perhaps on the noise of the horns which the children used to blow.

A couple of hundred years earlier, neighbors living miles apart on Christmas would shoot off their blunderbusses to tell neighbors they were thinking of them. Children without guns would blow up hog bladders and then step on them to make a loud noise. Eventually all of the noise turned into fireworks in more modern times, until the children started blowing themselves up with them and so fireworks had been discouraged and faded out in recent years.

A letter writer urges that Nathan Corn be cleared of the charged murder of his employer in South Carolina. She wonders whether it was safe to live in a state where a person could be convicted of murder based solely on circumstantial evidence. She asserts that there was no doubt that the State had failed to prove its case.

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