The Charlotte News

Friday, August 26, 1949


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that John Maragon refused to answer questions, pursuant to the Fifth Amendment privilege, before the Senate Investigating subcommittee looking at influence peddling in procurement of Government contracts. Mr. Maragon was an alleged "five percenter", receiving fees to aid companies in obtaining contracts through his ties to Maj. General Harry Vaughan, the President's military aide. Mr. Maragon did admit knowing General Vaughan but refused to answer whether he had been "associated" with him in any activities. South Dakota Senator Karl Mundt, formerly of HUAC, responded, improperly, that the answer left the impression that the two had been associated in activities which were incriminating. Mr. Maragon said that he intended no implications, that he was following his attorney's advice. An accountant had testified that Mr. Maragon had made bank deposits totaling nearly $120,000 over five years.

Mr. Maragon had testified in executive session on July 28 that he never received any fees for his efforts for private companies to obtain Government contracts and that certain specified amounts, far less than $120,000, were his only income during the period. His lawyer contended this date that the prior testimony was obtained in violation of his Constitutional rights.

The House adjourned without consent of the Senate and the members would not return until September 21. A handful of members remained to conduct "no business", pro forma sessions to accord the provision of the Constitution forbidding one house from adjourning without the consent of the other. The Senate's refusal to approve the House adjournment was unprecedented. House members were ruffled by the fact of sloth by the Senate, through filibuster and committee delays.

The Government's cost-of-living index fell six tenths of a percent from June 15 to July 15, to 168.5 percent above the benchmark 1935-39 average, three percent less than a year earlier, 70.9 percent above the 1939 prewar level. The peak had been 174.5 percent, reached the previous August and September.

As a result of the drop, G.M. could shave another cent off wages, based on its contract allowing adjustments up or down in fluctuation with the index, but by agreement made the previous month with the UAW, no adjustment would be made to the average $1.64 per hour wage, to cover an accepted "understatement" in the rent factor.

In London, a refugee Russian air expert, Lt. Col. G. A. Tokaev, said that the decade-old Russian jet gap had closed. The shipment from Britain of Rolls Royce Nenes jet engines in 1946 and 1947 had significantly aided the process, enabling engineers to duplicate them.

The gap in atomic bomb technology also had closed, as would be evidenced the following Monday in Russia.

A hurricane, with 120 mph winds, was battering the Florida "Gold Coast" and was expected to move inland to Fort Lauderdale during the afternoon of this date. It had passed over Nassau in the early morning hours but with only 75 mph winds. It was described by weather officials as a "renegade" and "bad actor".

The submarine Cochino exploded and burned in Arctic waters, taking the lives of six Navy rescuers aboard the U.S.S. Tusk, hampered in rescue efforts by high seas. The 84 crewmen of the submarine were rescued. One civilian aboard the submarine was killed.

In North East, Md., a fast freight wrecked in the center of town, causing a fiery oil spill which flowed through the streets, driving 50 people from their homes.

In Philadelphia, Pa., a 34-year old veteran, native of South America, fatally shot his five-year old son and a prominent eye specialist, then critically wounded the doctor's wife and shot himself fatally. The doctor was the brother of the man's estranged wife who had custody of the boy.

In Rock Hill, S.C., dogs were quarantined for 30 days by the Mayor and board of health, after a report of ten persons being bitten by rabid dogs. Any dog found on the streets would be impounded. You had better stay home, Bowzer.

In Jacksonville, N.C., a woman gave birth to a son while riding in a car on the way to the hospital. Mother and child were doing well. It may have been a Ford.

In Beverly, Mass., a 92-year old man said that he had not been to bed in 30 years, said that he got out of the habit as a young man when he got only four hours per night.

In Strathaven, Scotland, Scottish comedian Sir Harry Lauder, 79, was gravely ill and reported to be weakening. No worry. He would live until late February.

In Dover, England, Mrs. Willi Crocs Van Rijsel, 31, a Dutch housewife, was reported seven miles from Dover on her English Channel crossing attempt from Cap Gris Nez, France. It was her second attempt. If the account was correct, she had swum two-thirds of the distance in only 5.25 hours, a record pace if maintained. Gertrude Ederle of America had set the women's record in 1926 at 14 hours, 34 minutes. George Michel of France held the overall record of 11 hours, 5 minutes, also set in 1926.

On the sports page appears the result of a poll of 3,000 persons to determine who would be Hornets Manager for a Night.

Was he a Republican or a Democrat? As long as he wasn't a Dixiecrat...

On the editorial page, "States' Rights Bureau" finds that many Southerners who had opposed the Dixiecrats in 1948 nevertheless believed that states' rights needed more protection and that the President's program went too far, that those same people would support creation of a States' Rights Bureau in Washington—as Judge Leander Perez of Louisiana had recently said he was going to help establish—, provided it was not "a poorly-disguised effort to promote another splinter party in the South."

The piece thinks that stress on states' responsibilities needed to be as uppermost in the effort as states' rights, that states needed to assume the obligations properly which the Federal Government was being forced to assume. It thinks the Bureau could be of great help but that the third-party errors of 1948 had to be avoided.

It obviously was not very well acquainted with the racist politics of Judge Perez and his close ties to the Dixiecrats. Or, maybe it was, and was merely blinking the association—which would arise to the fore again with the segregationist-states' rights third-party run of then former Alabama Governor George Wallace in 1968.

In any event, we are the United States, not the Federated Fifty States of America. States' rights, as we found out in the Fifties and Sixties, was and is merely a catch-phrase for protection of the same Jim Crow segregation practices which beset the region from the aftermath of the Civil War, keeping it as a separate society from the rest of the nation, trying to preserve the quaint traditions of enforced de jure servitude through de facto economic and social obeisance, maintained by de jure segregation.

Leander and the Klander.

"Psychopathic Ward" explains the need for such a facility to accept people who were mentally unsound but who had to be placed in the County Jail, where presently were housed between one and six such persons. The same was true throughout the state. Local hospital administrators urged the construction of a hospital wing where such patients could be housed, observed and treated by experienced psychiatric staff. But the State had shown no inclination to fund such a project, leaving it to the City and County. A meeting in Charlotte was soon to be held to discuss such funding.

"A Start Toward Economy" praises Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson for his decision to fire 135,000 civilian employees, close fifty installations, and return 12,000 reserve officers to civilian life in an effort to economize, all to the consternation, however, of members of Congress whose districts were being hurt by these moves to save some 200 million dollars during the current fiscal year and 500 million per year thereafter, a start toward the Hoover Commission's goal of saving 1.5 billion dollars annually from the defense budget. Nor did the move weaken the nation's security as it only pared down the excess personnel built up during the war.

Senator Harry F. Byrd of Virginia, in whose state over 2,800 persons would lose jobs in the terminations, praised the effort, consistent with his economizing approach to government. It posits that most Americans would agree with him.

A piece from the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, titled "Potato Insanity", tells of a series of articles concluding in the newspaper which had shown that while the Government was paying 225 million dollars to farmers not to grow potatoes, the consumer was paying high prices for them at the market. The Government had also spent another 25 million in freight and handling to give away, destroy, or sell at low prices the overproduced spuds.

And the bulk of the payments went to the farmers with the largest acreages, whose overhead was therefore the smallest.

While underprivileged farmers also had done well under the program, the future market was being depressed by the fact that consumption of potatoes was being driven down by the program. The big operator could shift to another crop while the small farmer was stuck.

It finds that the proposed Brannan plan would make the expense and consequent problems worse by lending support to eight perishable crops while maintaining low prices for consumers. It finds such programs to be "insane economics".

But under the Brannan program, the market would not be ruined. You are just griping about taxing the rich to give to the poor and middle class.

Ralph McGill, of the Atlanta Constitution, writes of the death a week earlier of Dr. Samuel Green, Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan and head of Klavern No. 1 in Atlanta. He had known Dr. Green and always regarded him as a little man frustrated with his position in life, who sought the exalted respect and position he lacked in the real world from within the Klan. Yet, when he became aware of the thugs and criminals it held within its ranks and their unquenchable desires to wreak violence, he became disenchanted and wanted out but could not manage to wrest himself from its trappings. Mr. McGill had thus regarded him as "The Reluctant Dragon".

Dr. Green enjoyed parades and a cross-burning on Stone Mountain, but probably had never personally authorized any violence.

Mr. McGill had sent to him the police records of the organization's members, including charges of pandering, robbery, and assault with intent to commit another crime, presumably murder or rape.

"Doc", as he consistently refers to him in the piece, died an unhappy man and, before his death, had, in all likelihood, become convinced of the truth of the critics of the Klan, as evidenced by his order shortly before his death for the members to unmask or be banished from the organization. He had finally realized that he was in the company of "thieves and rascals and psychopathic brutes".

And when he finally learned that these individuals in Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee did as they pleased, that they were neither patriotic nor moral and never would be, his "heart began to hurt and Death came for him—a reluctant, uncertain little man to the end."

More likely, "Doc" just saw a ghost in the woods coming for him, full-horsed for the Crusades, with that Rebel yell screeching through gritted teeth of long-simmering bitterness over personal defeat, never quite matching the myth of the ladies in farthingales and men in tophats at the grande, chandeliered ball, with the reality of pellagra-gaunt figures in woolhats, overalls, fighting their best chanticleers out in the barn on weekends, and their stooped wives in stained aprons and dull, tattered housecoats frying up the proceeds. He had a woolly dream, not coincident with genteel splendor, from which he could not awaken.

That he died just days after the author of Gone With the Wind, its tableau of characters owing in some part to the mad writings of the late Thomas Dixon, whose The Traitor a young Peggy Mitchell once plagiarized in constructing a play for presentation to her disapproving father, and whose début de siecle novels gave rise to the latter-day Klan in 1915 through the élan vital engendered to the anemic print-driven imagination by animation provided the characters in D. W. Griffith's "Birth of a Nation", was perhaps altogether fitting and proper in a perfect world. But, unfortunately, the Klan did not die with Dr. Green or with Thomas Dixon before him, in 1946. Indeed, the spirit still rides proudly with the Republican presidential nominee in 2016, who would fit remarkably well, if not to the Tee, a Grand Dragon's robes.

Robert S. Allen, substituting for vacationing Drew Pearson, says that the three-man steel-wage fact-finding board had privately decided, for the length of its hearings, that it would not be able to make its report by the August 30 deadline and was planning to ask for an extension. No trouble was expected from either the President or United Steelworkers president Philip Murray in approval of the extension. The steelworkers sought a 30 cents per hour effective increase, inclusive of wage, pension and health benefits.

House Speaker Sam Rayburn and Congressman Raymond Crosser, chairman of the Interstate Commerce Committee, were holding firm in opposition to rich junkets by Congressmen while the House was out of session, delayed by the late session. One such proposed trip was to Saudi Arabia to study U.S. oil interests, a trip proposed by Aramco, with huge oil investments in the Middle East. The other, proposed by Pan Am, was a tour of Europe to examine airline setups and operations. Both were merely corporate-sponsored trips out of self-interest.

Congressman Andrew Jacobs of Indiana responded to a constituent, an undertaker, who said that he apologized for having regarded the Congressman as a "labor-lawyer racketeer", by saying that he also had to apologize to the undertaker for believing that he "consorted only with the dead."

Maj. General Harry Vaughan had strong defenders in the Medical Department of the V.A., in addition to those at the White House. The General had come up with a plan to relieve the shortage in 1946 of doctors and dentists at the V.A. hospitals by forming a cooperative arrangement between the Army, with a surplus of doctors, and the Navy, with a surplus of dentists, to swap them around and relieve the shortage. The V.A. had not forgotten General Vaughan's valuable assistance in making this plan a reality.

Stewart Alsop, for the third day in a row, addresses the problem of encroaching Communism through China into Southeast Asia and its dire implications for another major war. He stresses the need not only for a policy to halt the spread of Communism but an affirmative policy to determine what kind of Asia was desirable, taking Indonesia as example.

The previous summer, after a long period of indecision, the State Department had finally backed the Indonesian nationalists against the Dutch Government. Immediately, the Nationalists responded by imprisoning and even executing the leading Communists within the movement, thus showing their overall alliance with the U.S. Prior to that time, a pro-Communist component of the movement had been prevalent.

The example showed what American backing for nationalist movements could do in Asia. Communism was closest to power in China and Indo-China, where nationalism had been exploited the most by the Communists.

The previous year, the Communists had made a calculated decision to make their move in Asia through direct action, starting in Calcutta by stimulating riots and unrest, trying the same in Siam and Indonesia, and starting guerrilla movements in Malaya and Burma. With the exception of Indo-China, where Communists already controlled the nationalist movement, the Communists encountered native resistance from within the movements throughout Southeast Asia and India.

One reason for resisting the opportunity to throw full U.S. support behind such nationalist movements had been the fact of the interests of European allies being involved, Britain, The Netherlands, and France, each having imperialistic interests in these countries. But that argument no longer was valid. An alliance with these allies could now be formed for positive support of Asian independence, backed by American and European military aid.

Such would, as in Indonesia, change overnight the political perception in Asia toward the West. But money and political power to accomplish the job had to be provided by Congress.

Robert C. Ruark applauds the decision to modernize the classic blue-jacket uniform of the Navy but not from the standpoint of the individual sailor and tradition. The gob's suit, while having its impractical side, was the source of pride and tradition. The Navy had left the flap collar alone, though outmoded. The bell bottom trousers, useful for quick roll-up when swabbing the deck or cleaning the hold, had also remained.

The gob would now get ample pocket space, zippers on the pants, and loose jumper sleeves instead of the old tight ones. But Mr. Ruark thinks extra pocket space might undermine morale of officers bent on close inspection and correction of sloppy dress from items peeking from the recesses of the gob's uniform. Nor would the sailor have an urge any longer to roll up his tight-fitting sleeves in direct violation of regulations.

No true seadog, he offers, needed pockets as he would find a female during shore leave to hold his precious items, and there was room in the inner pants pockets for enough money to last an evening.

The changes might start an inexorable trend toward other changes. The round cap, for instance, might incur the scorn of an admiral, who would wish to replace it with a sombrero. The jumper might be exchanged for a sack-coat. So, too, with the collar and bell bottoms, all of which would deprive the women of many lands of the "cockiest sight known to the female eye".

No one could ever swagger like a gunner's mate, but when they started clothing him as any other member of the armed forces, then, he concludes, you might as well scrap the Navy and give it all to the Air Force, as the spirit of John Paul Jones would have fled from the seas.

A letter from the president of the North Carolina State Fireman's Association thanks the newspaper for its editorial of August 19 and promises to promote the spirit which it praised.

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