The Charlotte News

Tuesday, August 16, 1949


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that before the Senate Investigating subcommittee examining influence-peddling with regard to Army contracts, suspended Maj. General Alden Waitt testified that Maj. General Harry Vaughan, the President's military aide, had asked him to prepare a memorandum on eight officers eligible to succeed him as head of the Army chemical corps, a position which usually rotated and did not have self-succession. General Waitt, suspended from the Army pending the outcome of the investigation, was accused of using the secretary of James V. Hunt, a major subject of the investigation, to write the memorandum for the purpose of nixing the other candidates to the position that he might succeed himself. He acknowledged dictating the memorandum to Mr. Hunt's secretary and writing another memorandum in the third person which gave a flattering portrait of himself, saying that he was one of the world's leading experts on toxicological warfare. He insisted before the subcommittee that the statement was true.

Another witness said that Mr. Hunt, whom General Waitt said was a close friend, had bragged of being responsible for getting him the position as head of the chemical corps. The witness also said that Mr. Hunt bragged of making Tighe Woods Housing Expediter and Jess Larson, head of War Assets Administration.

In Moscow, U.S. Ambassador Alan Kirk visited for 45 minutes with Premier Stalin in what Mr. Kirk termed a "courteous, pleasant visit". It was the first time that a high American official had visited with Stalin during the previous year. Mr. Kirk, who had begun his duties in June, had requested the meeting. It was likely that the recent indications of Soviet receptivity to trade with the West was a topic of conversation.

In Italy, it was reported that a Greek guerrilla broadcast claimed that Yugoslav troops had fired on the guerrillas while they reorganized their lines near the frontier.

The President was informed by Secretary of Labor Maurice Tobin and Emil Schram, president of the New York Stock Exchange, that there were signs of business improvement and a million new jobs on the horizon by year's end. Mt. Tobin said that several plants had been reopened and employees were back at work. Mr. Schram suggested that the country had been going through a period of inventory adjustment, cutting stock on hand. He also advised the President to urge tax revision on capital gains and elimination of double taxation on stock dividends.

President Truman summoned six Democratic Senators, including North Carolina's Clyde Hoey, to the White House to try to save two reorganization plans which had been disapproved in committee, one to create a Welfare Department and the other to turn over to the Labor Department functions stripped away during the war, especially that of the U.S. Employment Service.

Senator Styles Bridges of New Hampshire predicted that General Eisenhower, president of Columbia University, would run for the the Republican Party nomination for the presidency in 1952. He had resisted efforts in 1948 by both Democrats and Republicans to draft him.

Senator Bridges also said that he would quit his $35,000 per year position as a trustee for the UMW welfare fund, controversial since his high salary had recently come to light.

In New Haven, Conn., Yale scientists said that a large number of cases diagnosed the previous summer as polio actually could be the result of a new, non-crippling virus. All of the victims who had shown evidence of infection by the virus had recovered without harmful after-effects, despite having been diagnosed as polio patients during the outbreak the previous summer. Tests to isolate the virus in sewage were conducted in Hartford, New Haven and Norwalk, Conn., as well in Greensboro, High Point, and Winston-Salem, N.C., areas which had reported a high incidence of polio cases the prior summer. Flies from Hartford, High Point, and areas of Texas were also studied.

In Charlotte, a head-on automobile crash occurred when a driver was believed to have gone suddenly blind. His injuries were unknown. He was rushed to the office of his son, a doctor, for treatment. The driver of the other car was uninjured.

The problem could have been a bull crossing the road outside the crosswalk or the distraction of a giraffe walking along the sidewalk in shorts.

Also in Charlotte, in the first day of testimony in the trial of the 22-year old woman accused of murdering her third husband by shooting him with a .22 caliber rifle the previous July 11, a next door neighbor testified that she heard the defendant scream that she had shot her husband, that she and her mother then went to the residence to find the defendant at the door, hopping up and down and wringing her hands, proclaiming that she had shot him. The defendant's six-year old son by another marriage was gripping his mother's skirt at the time. Prior to the shooting, the witness had seen the defendant appearing angry. Police testified that they responded to the residence and found the husband dead on the bed with a bullet hole through his chest. He apparently had been reading the newspaper. The defendant had told the police at the time of her arrest that she shot her husband because he had been bragging to her of seeing other women.

The defense opening statement had suggested that the primary defense was that the defendant was not mentally culpable at the time of the shooting.

It was the first time in county history that as many as four women had served on a jury in a capital murder case.

In Atlanta, Gone With the Wind author Margaret Mitchell, 48, hit by a speeding car driven by an allegedly drunk off-duty cab driver the previous Thursday evening while on her way with her husband, John Marsh, to attend a viewing of "A Canterbury Tale", died at 11:59 a.m. this date at Henry Grady Hospital. She had suffered a fractured skull and pelvis, plus other injuries in the accident.

Ms. Marsh's only novel had outsold all books in print at that point except the Bible. She had said that she worked twelve years on the book before it was published in 1936 and had thrown away a lot of novels she had written before that time. She had begun her career in 1922 as a newspaper feature writer, under the byline "Peggy Mitchell", covering the Atlanta social set for the Atlanta Journal. She married Mr. Marsh in 1925, then subsequently gave up the newspaper job to devote full time to writing the novel. Gone With the Wind had sold out of its first edition the first day it hit the bookstores, had sold eight million copies in 40 countries since that time, and still sold in 1949 60,000 copies annually in the U.S. and likely as many overseas. Despite the success of the book and the movie made from it in 1939, she and her husband had continued to live in a five-room apartment in downtown Atlanta, had visited with old friends and driven a small car. Private life, however, had remained difficult.

The taxi driver was detained on suspicion of manslaughter. Police records showed that he had 22 or 23 prior traffic violations, eight of which had been dismissed. On November 16, a jury would convict him of involuntary manslaughter in the death, that is negligent homicide, and recommend a 12 to 18 month sentence, a recommendation followed by the court at sentencing on November 23. His driver's license was also revoked. He did not appeal and served 11 months of the sentence. Undoubtedly, the fact that his skid marks were measured by the police as extending 67 feet contributed substantially to the verdict, as the fact was indicative of the speeding with which he was charged at the time of the accident, 33 to 37 mph, assuming a level surface and a 25 mph downtown speed limit on Peachtree Street, negligence therefore by law, enough to warrant an involuntary manslaughter conviction under such circumstances, irrespective of the percipient witness testimony that he appeared to have been drinking, provided there was no supervening causative factor which would have led to the accident irrespective of driver negligence. As an aside, the newspapers would report that less than two days after the verdict, prior to sentencing, the cab driver was driving a car with his wife as passenger and a truck pulled out in front of him, causing a collision. No one was hurt and there were no charges filed against either driver in the incident.

We note that in March, 1941, W. J. Cash and wife Mary were invited by Rich's Department Store in Atlanta to a luncheon regarding The Mind of the South, as it was a best-seller initially in Atlanta's market, having been published the previous month. Ms. Marsh and her husband graciously invited the Cashes to have drinks with them at the Piedmont Driving Club, as recounted in 1964 by Mary Cash Maury to Cash biographer Joseph Morrison, part of which she related in her 1967 piece for The Red Clay Reader, focusing on Cash's death in Mexico City the following July 1. Ms. Marsh had dashed Cash's initial anxiety about meeting her, held because of his somewhat unflattering review of the book provided five years earlier, stating that its characters were "only brilliantly lighted one-dimensional shadows", suggesting implicitly, expressly in other contexts, as well as through oblique sideswipes along the way, that she had merely looked to the Atlanta country club set of the 1930's for the archetypes and plopped them down whole, adding tophats and farthingales, in the 19th century antebellum era.

By way of suggesting her agreement with Cash's findings that, with a few exceptions, the average antebellum "plantation" in the South had been little more than a large farm with an expanded frame house, a box costing about a thousand dollars, bisected by a windswept front-to-back corridor to demark where the new half of the structure was conjoined as the family size increased, Ms. Marsh had stated to the Cashes that she had looked high and low in the Georgia antebellum historical files to find a suitable model for the palatial, columned Tara, that which, in the wake of the success of her book and the film, had then become fixed in the popular mind as the symbol of the Old South, finally having found only one such manse, itself, only an overgrown farmhouse, to fit the image she sought to convey. She readily acknowledged having contributed thereby to the popular lore, though Selznick Studios and its set designers had done the worst of the damage, appealing as they had to established stereotypical images associated with the era.

And yet Cash had also recognized in 1936 the possibility, as conveyed in an interview appearing in the literary magazine Pseudopodia, edited by Paula Snelling and Lillian Smith, with whom he and Mary had spent "the best day" of his life during the same 1941 trip to Georgia, that Margaret Mitchell was "that astonishing thing, an actually modest author". Indeed, he had even placed her as tending toward unrealized "genius", in the same pantheonesque company with Thomas Wolfe, William Faulkner, and Erskine Caldwell as an exponent of the new Southern literati.

A month and a half subsequent to the Atlanta meeting, on April 16, Ms. Marsh wrote to Cash, congratulating him on the award on March 15 of a Guggenheim Fellowship and wished him well on the novel which he planned to write during the year in Mexico City.

In his book, Cash had said of Gone With the Wind, aiming his analysis more at the social response of the public first to the book and then to the film than at the book, itself:

It was the measure of something that, after fifteen years of the new spirit in Southern writing, Margaret Mitchell's sentimental novel, Gone with the Wind, which had curiously begun by a little offending many Southerners, ended by becoming a sort of new confession of the Southern faith. The scene at Atlanta when the motion picture made from the romance was given its first showing in the nation was one of the most remarkable which America has seen in our time. Primarily, of course, the showing, and its accompaniment of parades and balls, represented a purely commercial scheme arranged by the producers of the picture. But in the event it turned into a high ritual for the reassertion of the legend of the Old South. Atlanta became a city of pilgrimage for people from the entire region. The ceremonies were accompanied by great outbursts of emotion, which bore no relationship to the actual dramatic value of a somewhat dull and thin performance. And later on, when the picture was shown in the other towns of the South, attendance at the theaters took on the definite character of a patriotic act. —The Mind of the South, Book Three, Chapter III— "Of the Great Blight—and New Quandaries", section 21, p. 430 of 1969 ed.

On the editorial page, "The German Election" finds the existence of the West German state unfortunate, being as it was a monument to the East-West schism in the country. Yet, it had to be created under the extant circumstances in the Soviet-controlled sector in the East.

The newly elected West German Government, formed of a coalition between Christian Democrats and Free Democrats, accounting for 78 percent of the vote, would continue the policies of the three occupying Western powers. While it had opposition, such would likely not be strong. The two major parties controlled 191 seats to 131 controlled by the Socialists. The Communists controlled fifteen seats.

The new chancellor would likely be Dr. Konrad Adenauer, head of the Christian Democrats. He appeared less anti-Nazi than many wished, as he had been quoted as finding the anti-Nazification program "ridiculous" and describing former Wehrmacht officers as "honest", that "libelous" attacks on them should be stopped. He also believed that the Nazi past of individual Germans should be forgotten.

Despite these shortcomings, including the presence of a strain of the nationalism which had led to Nazism, the new Government would be pro-Western and opposed to the Communist Eastern regime. Such was a consistent trend of the previous year, as demonstrated in the elections in both France and Italy.

The Marshall Plan had been an important contributing factor to this trend, as had been the creation of NATO. The British-American airlift had been effective against Russia during the ten-month Berlin blockade of 1948-49. The attack by the Communist puppet Governments against the Catholic Church in Czechoslovakia and Hungary had also been influential in the shift.

It asserts that to maintain this position of superiority, the West would need to answer any new Soviet strategy.

"New Stability in Defense" reviews the set-up under the new Military Unification Act, establishing a chairman of the Joint Chiefs, with General Omar Bradley named to the post. His function would be to advise the President, Secretary of Defense and the National Security Council on matters of national security.

For the Joint Chiefs to be effective, the inter-branch bickering and rivalry had to cease and it was likely, given his past performance, that General Bradley would effect rapprochement between the branches to this end.

It quotes from the late Ernie Pyle regarding General Bradley's personality traits demonstrated during the war, that he was mild but not easygoing as nobody would run over him, had complete confidence in himself and was implacable and resolute when his decision had been reached.

It believes that he would therefore make an excellent chairman for the Joint Chiefs, now consisting of General Hoyt Vandenberg of the Air Force, Admiral Louis Denfeld of the Navy and new Army chief of staff General Lawton Collins, who had served as vice-chief under General Bradley and in whom he reposited great confidence. It hopes that the two would provide a new stability to the military brass.

"A Flexible Code" tells of a report that General MacArthur had cut to one-fourth the former ration of newsprint to the Communist newspaper in Japan, while increasing the allocation to all other newspapers.

The piece wonders how it differed from dictator Juan Peron reducing the newsprint supply to La Prensa, the independent Argentine daily which had fought against the dictator, finds there is none. Yet, the decree of General MacArthur had been unchallenged in the American press while that of Sr. Peron was roundly denounced.

The MacArthur decree, it finds, could cause the Communist paper in Japan to become a martyr and thus increase its reach among the people. Defeating totalitarianism with totalitarian techniques was an ineffective ploy.

It concludes that the country would likely continue to stumble along making mistakes until a formula applicable everywhere could be found.

A piece from the Salisbury Post, titled "De Senectute Via the Whizzostatometer", tells of the American Gas Association stating that a large percentage of gas ranges in use in the country were out of date, ten to fifteen years old.

It finds that "the cook's the thing", that while the stove of the present did not smoke, mama smoked, "like unto the signal shoulder of the redman she smokes, and smokes, and smokes." Meanwhile, pappy ate what he could and drank what he could without intervention. Not even the gas association could get him back on the beam.

"Ah! Welladay!"

Robert S. Allen, substituting for vacationing Drew Pearson, tells of RNC headquarters, with 80 full-time employees, being in a dither regarding the prospect of new chairman Guy Gabrielson getting ready to start wholesale firings, in the wake of the disastrous 1948 election. By contrast, former chairman Hugh Scott had made no staff changes when he began.

Democrats were ready to fire back at any effort by the RNC to criticize Fair Deal spending by pointing out that Mr. Gabrielson headed a company, engaged in making gasoline from natural gas, which had received 18.5 million dollars in RFC Government loans.

Workers remodeling the White House were uncovering, beneath inch-thick coats of paint, smudge marks from the burning of the White House by the British in 1814.

Philippine President Elpido Quirino received no definite promises of aid while visiting Washington. But he was told that the U.S. would look with favor on the release of several hundred imprisoned Filipino guerrillas who had fought under American officers against the Japanese during the war. They had been offered amnesty but only on condition that they confess their supposed wartime crimes, allegations made by former collaborators in the Government.

While Secretary of Agriculture Charles Brannan's plan for perishable produce, to receive supports to keep farm prices high while also maintaining the market price for consumers, was being defeated in Congress, the Farm Bureau Federation in Iowa and Minnesota was losing membership for its support of the plan.

House Appropriations Committee members found among the materials being stockpiled by the Munitions Board an abundance of pepper, to which one Congressman inquired as to whether the Army planned to engage in sneeze warfare against the enemy in the field. The experts explained that it was needed as a food preservative.

Stewart Alsop, in London, finds that it was possible that Britain would collapse as a great world power within 12 to 18 months because of its dwindling dollar-gold reserve. Were it to take place, the NATO preparations to stop Soviet expansion would devolve to nonsense as Britain's strength was central to the formula. Thus, a British collapse could lead to World War III.

Nevertheless, the steps in advance of that collapse were being allowed to occur on both sides of the Atlantic. The leaders of Britain were weary, leading to a kind of paralysis. The initiative to try to prevent a disaster thus fell to the U.S., the reason behind the visit by Treasury Secretary John W. Snyder to London recently. Yet, nothing had been accomplished as Mr. Snyder and those among his banking friends who were of his ideological bent spent more time carping at the socialist Government than creating constructive remedial plans.

For Britain to compete in world markets, the British standard of living had to fall, a fact difficult for a socialist government to accept, as for any government. But the British recovery had been better than any of the countries on the Continent. How the wealth was distributed was their business. Britain, however, needed support from the U.S. to bolster confidence that the incipient collapse would not be allowed to go so far as to end Britain's place as a world power.

Sir Stafford Cripps, Chancellor of the Exchequer, and Ernest Bevin, Foreign Secretary, were set soon to come to the U.S. and would likely bring no less modest and tentative proposals for dealing with the crisis, neither modest nor tentative. They would likely ask for an arrangement whereby tin and rubber would be stockpiled at agreed prices and for an infusion of American capital investment in the sterling area. They might also propose multilateral devaluation of the the soft currencies, even if resisted by Mr. Cripps, as it would reduce the British standard of living.

If Mr. Snyder would go along with such a plan, it might help, as the drop in Malayan tin and rubber exports, replaced by ersatz forms, aluminum and synthetic rubber, had hurt Britain more than the drop in exports to the U.S. from Britain, cutting off dollars. Some form of devaluation of the pound was inevitable as it was being maintained at an artificially high level.

Such a plan might prevent collapse, but more drastic action needed to be put on reserve in the event it did not work, to restore confidence of the free world in itself.

James Marlow discusses the Appendix to the Congressional Record as a good place for members of Congress to blow off steam, matter attached which was not said on the floor, such as a newspaper editorial, a speech by a person of like mind or when the member could not get enough time to finish his floor speech.

But the Appendix, along with the Record, cost the taxpayer money. Unanimous consent had to be obtained from other members to append such matter.

For instance, Senator Hubert Humphrey had recently attached the commencement address he had made at Bennington College in Vermont on July 1. Senator Claude Pepper had attached an editorial by a columnist who recalled the Depression days. And so on.

A letter writer objects to the billing practices of Duke Power, charging a five percent penalty, in his case, 36 cents, if the electricity bill were not paid by the tenth of the month. Instead, he thinks a discount ought be applied if the bill were paid before the tenth.

You tell 'em.

You can buy a lot with that 36 cents, go to the movies, get a Coke and popcorn, peanuts, maybe even Cracker Jacks.

A letter writer takes issue with the editorial, "Hoover, the Humorist", critical of the President's court jesters and his finding funny the remarks of former President Hoover that under the Fair Deal, the country was drifting toward "collectivism". The writer says that he believes the President laughed only at the prediction of impending doom rather than intending any disrespect to elder statesman Hoover. Just shortly before Mr. Hoover had made his statement, U.S. Steel had announced its highest earnings in its history during the second quarter. He believes that hearing this news caused the President to laugh out of relief and optimism, not derision of Mr. Hoover.

Mr. Hoover, he points out, had not been the best prognosticator in matters of economics, as well on other issues of import, from his statements in 1932 that prosperity was just around the corner and that grass would grow in the streets if the Democrats were elected, to his famous slogan that there would be two cars in every garage and a chicken in every pot if he were elected. He had also said in 1938 that there would be no war in Europe in the foreseeable future.

Thus, his new prediction had to be taken with a grain of salt.

A letter writer finds the New Deal and Fair Deal to be "heinous" "'statism'", catering to the large corporations, which had earned record profits since 1933. He favors return to the conservative days when corporations had to invest more to get less return in profit. No longer were there free turkeys for employees at Thanksgiving as incentive to produce more or free beer to consumers as inducement to purchase. "All these fine things of the past are merely added to the profits under New Dealism."

Why, sure, there is nothing better while waiting in a bread line, thanks to unregulated big business and trickle-down economic policies, than someone giving you a free beer and free turkey for Thanksgiving.

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