The Charlotte News

Tuesday, January 20, 1953


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that Dwight Eisenhower was sworn in and inaugurated as the 34th President of the United States this date in Washington, pledging in his inaugural address to strive for peace while rejecting any appeasement of Communist aggression, declaring to hold "faith that the future shall belong to the free."

Clouds had given way to thin sunlight of winter as the new President rode with the outgoing President from the White House to the Capitol for the swearing-in of both President Eisenhower and Vice-President Nixon. The new President had taken the oath of office from Chief Justice Fred Vinson at 12:32 p.m. The term of President Truman had officially ended at noon and so for 32 minutes, the country technically was without a President. The inaugural address was 2,250 words in length, strongly stressing a spiritual plane, without mention of specific plans, to come later in the State of the Union message to Congress. The start of the speech is quoted on the page. The speech had been broadcast on radio and television, with the radio broadcast extending overseas. A piece on the page develops an hour-by-hour schedule of the day's events prior to the inauguration ceremonies.

The inaugural parade stretched ten miles, including floats, bands, military units, beasts and birds, and would take three hours to complete its passage down Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol past the White House reviewing stand. It included a dogsled from Alaska, 20,000 to 22,000 servicemen and women, 65 musical units, 50 floats, 5,600 civilians, including 250 Indians, three elephants, 350 horses and a flock of pigeons masquerading as doves of peace. The first float of the parade stressed religion and democracy, because, according to the parade chairman, General Eisenhower had a deep and abiding faith in God. The float had been paid for anonymously by 12 persons representing all faiths. Music, for the first time, was provided by the U.S. Army Band. The order of the parade's dignitaries is provided. The first states represented were Kansas, the home of President Eisenhower, and California, the home of Vice-President Nixon.

The North Carolina entry in the inaugural parade was led by Lt.-Governor Luther Hodges and his wife, as Governor William B. Umstead remained ill, recovering from his mild heart attack in Durham. Their car was in front of the state's float, which called attention to the lumber business in the state, with the slogan "a million homes for America yearly". A story details other North Carolinians in the inaugural procession.

Meanwhile, it appeared that the Senate would not confirm Charles E. Wilson as Defense Secretary unless he divested his holdings in General Motors, of which he had been president. A Republican Senator, who asked not to be named, had informed that an informal survey indicated that at least a fourth of the 48 Republicans in the Senate and nearly all of the 47 Democrats were against the confirmation at present. Eight other Cabinet appointees appeared likely of confirmation. The Senate was planning to meet shortly after the inauguration to confirm those appointees. Even if the names of Mr. Wilson and four prospective Defense Department aides were formally submitted by the new President for confirmation, they would be referred to the Senate Armed Services Committee for a hearing the next day, at which Mr. Wilson would have the opportunity to alter his previous testimony that he would not divest himself of his stock, his yearly pension and retirement bonus or disqualify himself from dealing with G.M. when questions involving the company arose in the process of fulfilling his duties. G.M. was the largest recipient of Government defense contracts.

In Raleigh, wet forces apparently held a strong edge in the House Committee on Propositions and Grievances of the General Assembly, where 14 of the 25 members were from counties which had ABC controlled sales of liquor. Legislative observers thus predicted that the Committee would disapprove of the proposed liquor referendum to determine whether or not to abandon local ABC option.

Near Sioux Lookout, Ontario, a Canadian National Railways passenger train jumped the tracks, injuring 25 persons. The train was bound from Montréal for Winnipeg, and no cause of the accident is indicated.

Near Manning, S.C., two school buses, one packed with children, crashed head-on in a heavy fog, killing two of the children and injuring about 40 others, many seriously. The young driver of one of the buses was killed, included as one of the two children. Both buses were demolished in the accident, the story of which does not indicate its precise cause.

In Charlotte, Dr. Lawrence I. Stell, pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church, was elected moderator of the Mecklenburg Presbytery the previous day.

Also in Charlotte, the Charlotte School District alerted citizens of the community that if those living in the city's perimeter areas wanted their children to attend City schools, they should alert the County and City school boards presently, so that planning for future building programs could occur in both systems.

On the editorial page, "A Pause between Eras" observes that Inauguration Day in 1953 marked the changing of eras in the nation, similar to that of 1933, 1913, 1885, and 1861—the reference to 1885 reminding that Dwight Eisenhower, while considered officially to represent the 34th Presidential Administration, was actually only the 33rd individual to serve as President, as Grover Cleveland, not because of his girth, is counted twice. The New Deal and Fair Deal era, it remarks, was ending and the nation was entering a new phase, the length of which and the character of which was yet unknown. It suggests that inter-party struggles would fade as the new President and his predecessor joined in transferring the reins of power in the ceremonies of the day. The smoothness of the transition reminded the country and the world of the "enduring yet elastic quality of our oldest of constitutional governments."

President Truman had cooperated with the new team of President Eisenhower in making the transition especially smooth, so that the new Government would hit the ground running, ready to act promptly in case of an emergency. It thanks the outgoing Administration for doing so and indicates respect for President Eisenhower, offering high hopes and prayers to him. "May he have the wisdom, may the people have the courage, to fulfill the difficult tasks ahead."

Just remember to duck and cover.

"Mecklenburgers Have Spoken" indicates that the previous week, three of the five members of the Mecklenburg legislative delegation had said it was up to the County Commissioners to decide whether the County Police Department would be merged with the Sheriff's Department, and the Commissioners had the previous day voted four to one against the proposed merger. Citizens of the county had also indicated heavily, through letters and by phone to public officials and the newspaper, that they were against the merger. Both newspapers, the News and the Observer, had also come out against the merger.

It indicates that economy, the purpose of the merger, could be effected by consolidating the County and City Police Departments, but that the proposed merger with the Sheriff's Department should be dropped.

"'Some Sunshine'" indicates that the Weather Bureau had been plagued for weeks with inquiries regarding the weather forecast for Inauguration Day, and had come up with the prospectus of "some sunshine" to cover the bases. It concludes that it was similar to the half-full instead of half-empty glass, spreading around the sunshine as well as the gloom.

Perhaps unwittingly, depending on historical perspective, the forecast augured the ensuing eight years in the country, both at home and abroad.

"Why Not a Holiday?" indicates that North Carolina had not joined other states in commemorating General MacArthur or Pioneer Day, Victory Day, Flag Day, or other such holidays. It did not even recognize Memorial Day or Columbus Day. It provided days off for New Year's Day, Washington's Birthday, the Fourth of July, Election Day, Armistice Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas, plus made recognition of Robert E Lee's birthday, Easter Monday, Confederate Memorial Day, the April 12 Passage of the Halifax Independence Resolution and the May 20 Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence. As with the other 47 states, it did not observe Inauguration Day, only a holiday in the District of Columbia.

The piece supports a national holiday for the latter, beginning in 1957, to enable more persons to participate in the process of transferring power in the democracy.

"Good Business" tells of the president of the Elgin National Watch Company having agreed with President Truman in his refusal to approve the Tariff Commission's recommended increase in the tariff on watches to protect domestic producers. His agreement, however, was for a different reason than that put forth by the President, who had said it was for national security. The Elgin president believed that the only alternative to expanded world trade was the "suicidal continuation of huge American handouts in a futile attempt to bolster the economy of distressed nations". He rejected the idea that cheap foreign competition inevitably destroyed domestic industry and caused wholesale unemployment.

The piece thinks that such statements coming from the head of an organization which would suffer temporary adjustment difficulties resulting from the President's ruling, carried particular weight, and it suspects that he would be able to continue creating watches, jobs and profits long after some of the short-sighted colleagues in his industry had gone out of business.

A piece from the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, titled "Bungled Barbecue", indicates that there ought to be a law against what many establishments palmed off as Southern barbecued ribs, a libel on Dixie and good only for those who were adventurous. They were either burnt briskly over a fire while buried under catsup, toasted slowly over coals to "the hardness of a cornerstone", also while buried under catsup, or boiled in a pressure cooker and then broiled until the taste was gone, also buried under catsup. There was another version in which the catsup was poured on first, with it then solidifying "like steel scum in a slag pit". It finds that haste was the primary culprit, with real Southern barbecue requiring no less than eight and preferably 24 hours of smoking in a hickory pit at least two feet from the fire. It was the smoke which cooked the meat rather than the fire.

It hopes that the smoke cooks would unite in a crusading alliance against the "high treason of low chefcanery, with catsup."

Drew Pearson suggests many memories which might crowd the mind of the new President as he rode down Pennsylvania Avenue this date, from his days as a farm boy in Kansas, his first political speech as a Democrat at a Jackson Day dinner in Abilene, Kans., his appointment to West Point, his promotions upward to the highest military command, the triumphs, and the turning points of the war and its tragedies, such as the Battle of the Bulge in late 1944 and early 1945. He suggests that many countries could not imagine such a change in leadership, as they came about elsewhere only by revolution.

The new President might also be considering that in 1932, he had been directed to help evacuate the Bonus Army of veterans camped out in Washington, also riding down Pennsylvania Avenue at the time, albeit on horseback with General MacArthur. The Avenue had changed markedly in those 20 years, as the cheap little restaurants and the Japanese souvenir shops, along with the tawdry bars and semi-red light district near the Capitol had all disappeared along with dilapidated buildings in which the Bonus Army had camped. The Mellon Art Gallery, the National Archives building, the Federal Trade Commission, among other buildings, several parks and the largest service station in the world had replaced them.

He goes on to describe the new look of the route which the inauguration parade would follow, concluding at the White House, which now had a staff of about 1,000, 462 of whom were in the Budget Bureau, with the executive offices, instead of occupying a wing of the White House, having spilled across the street to the Executive Office Building, the old State, War and Navy Building. Whether the new President could cut that staff down would be a difficult challenge.

There had only been 14,111 officers in the Army when General Eisenhower had been a young major 20 years earlier, and the total armed strength of the nation at the time was only 244,000, including enlisted men. Now, it was over 3.6 million. The total Federal Government budget 20 years earlier had been 4.6 billion dollars, whereas now it was over 70 billion, most of which was for defense.

Whereas cavalry had been used 20 years earlier to evacuate the Bonus Army, cavalry now was so outmoded that a dozen horses were kept at Fort Myer only for use in military funerals. Atomic weapons might make battleships as useless as horses. He ponders what other advances might occur in the ensuing four years which could bring yet further changes.

Even the new President's critics believed that he was sincere in his pledge to do his best to prevent war, but his greatest challenge would be to fulfill the hopes and allay the fears of all mankind, which Mr. Pearson posits would be what the President would be thinking about most this date, and the task for which he would need "the help, the prayers of every citizen."

Joseph & Stewart Alsop indicate that the happiest man in Washington this date was probably Senator Taft, who was planning to dominate the new Republican Administration. The problem over the finances of three of the prospective Cabinet members, who had refused to divest themselves of prior financial interests, leading potentially to conflicts, indicated how close the Senator was to that goal. There was overconfidence among the business leaders in the prospective Cabinet, which had led to refusal of the divestiture, notwithstanding the law which forbade an official from doing business with entities in which he or she maintained an interest. They had ignored that law because of that overconfidence, even though being well-intentioned. That was also a mark of lack of political wisdom, leading to a remark by Secretary of Defense-designate Charles E. Wilson that what was good for the country was good for General Motors and vice versa, G.M. having been the company of which he had been president and in which he retained substantial stock interest.

In addition, Republican leaders in the Senate Armed Services Committee, who had balked at approving Mr. Wilson and his colleagues, were not members of the Taft faction, but included Senators Leverett Saltonstall and James Duff, originally strong Eisenhower backers and opposed to Senator Taft for the nomination. The fact that it was not anticipated that the Armed Services Committee might balk at the confirmations further showed the lack of understanding of politics.

Finally, Attorney General-designate Herbert Brownell was the actual target of the present attack, as the great majority of Senators believed that he had provided the legal opinion on which Mr. Wilson and his colleagues had based their decision to retain their corporate interests.

No matter how the controversy ended, Senator Taft would be the beneficiary. The President-elect had a chance to dominate the Congress as no President had since FDR in 1933, after having scored such a resounding victory in the popular vote and the electoral college and having won for the Republicans control of both houses of Congress. But that position had been compromised by a combination of inexperience and the overconfidence. The inexperience was that of the President-elect and the overconfidence had been supplied by Mr. Brownell, who appeared to be a less practiced politician than most people had thought, having been a former campaign manager for Governor Dewey. In the eyes of political leaders in the Republican Party, Mr. Brownell and the business leaders who were his allies had taken over the prospective Administration and divided up the Cabinet appointments as they pleased since the election.

After Senator Taft had expressed outrage over the appointment of Democrat and Plumbers Union president Martin Durkin as the Secretary of Labor, the President-elect, had he been a ruthless man, might have taken over the situation to prevent further problems, as no Republican Senator had supported the statements of Senator Taft at that time. But instead, the President-elect chose harmony, giving Senator Taft the nod as Senate Majority Leader, suggesting to the other Republicans that protests had results.

Frederick C. Othman starts with a quoted ad for top hats, which promotes the form of head adornment as that which the "most-distinguished men at the inaugural events" would wear. But the President-elect had changed that traditional form of head wear, exchanging it for a homburg as the official hat for the inauguration, leaving merchants stuck with top hats which they could not sell or promote. Some of the shops in Washington had rushed in by air black homburgs, such as those worn by the villains in international spy movies, and other shops were fresh out.

To add to the problem, the President-elect had said that he intended to wear striped pants and a short black coat, whereas the haberdashers had been well-stocked with claw-hammer coats, not the type the President-elect intended to wear. During the parade, overcoats would cover coats which did not match, but at the reception, any variations would show.

A tailor who had once tailored for the General when he was in Washington at the Pentagon indicated that there had been a rush of late for bob-tail coats, but that he could take no more clients, and had not been asked to tailor a single cutaway, as most of his customers already owned them. He said that he feared that the General's decision meant the end of the swallowtail coat, which had been tapering off in popularity for years, indicating that people did not dress as they once had and the new President's sartorial choice ended the morning coat for good.

A letter writer indicates that the County Police Department had originally been under the Sheriff's Department, and after several years, had to be separated, such that a prominent politician had pushed a bill through the Legislature to put one man under civil service, with the whole thing winding up "politics of the worst kind". He thinks that if the facts were published, no one would vote for merger of the two departments.

A letter writer from Badin, N.C., president of Local 303 of the United Steel Workers of America, commends Governor Umstead for his courageous stand against use of the lockout by employers, as indicated in his recent speech, that every citizen had the right to work wherever his job might be and that laws had to be enforced to protect every citizen in that right.

A letter writer thanks the State legislator who was seeking to get the veterans a bonus, thinks that it should be put to a vote of the people.

A letter writer from Lenoir, N.C., a minister of the First Baptist Church, responds to an editorial of January 13, "Prohibition Is a Farce in Mississippi", which had indicated that de jure prohibition in that state did not work. This writer indicates that the editors should have also said that no murder law would ever work in Mississippi or anywhere else, as people still killed one another. He thinks the prohibition law would work as well as any other law if enforced.

A letter writer from South Pittsburg, Tenn., a State Representative of Tennessee, indicates shock at the rudeness of a letter of January 7 concerning George S. Kaufman and Billy Graham. He says that he had never heard of Mr. Kaufman, but found the "sin shouting" ascribed to Billy Graham to be "a great influence upon sinners the world over and would be of much more influence were it not for such yellow-livered crackpots" as the prior letter writer. He thinks the decent minded people of the Charlotte area would agree with him that letters "slanderizing" the religious leaders of the nation should be omitted from the forums of the free press.

A letter writer responds to an editorial of January 12, "Tighter Beer, Wine Laws Needed", in response to the effort to have a statewide referendum to end local option on liquor sales, indicates that he thinks the editorial first suggested that the people of the state favored a liquor referendum and then expressed the hope that the General Assembly would not authorize one, implying the belief that the vote would be against local option. He thinks the editorial's position was contrary to the American right of expressing choice in a referendum, suggests that such a point of view was a hallmark of Soviet Communism.

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